Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Best Part of Halloween

I love Halloween and carving pumpkins! I always thought I was pretty good at it until I met a young man named TJ. He made it look like my pumpkin had been hacked at by a toddler. Oh well! We still had so much fun. We drank hot cocoa and watched Simpsons Treehouse of Horror clips all night. Here are our pictures! TJ's pumpkin says "hungy" below it, with the ghoul pointing towards its mouth :) Mine is the owl below that.
I just love the holiday season! The chill in the air and the turning leaves make me feel like curling up next to a cozy fire to drink hot chocolate while reading a great book. I almost bought a huge bag of Halloween candy for our trick-or-treaters....only I couldn't justify it because I am almost certain we will have no one come. The entrance to our home is very tricky to find, even for us :) Oh, well! It doesn't stop me from making all kinds of yummy Halloween treats. Next post will include said treats along with their corresponding recipes.

I'd also like to give a quick shout-out to my sweet husband TJ for working so diligently. He's been pulling a lot of late nights and early mornings these days for his job. Poor guy :( He doesn't even complain. Such a trooper.
I'm really lucky to be married to such a hard worker!

Sunday, October 10, 2010


A few weeks ago, TJ and I went on a really fun campout with Jamie and Brandon, his sister and her husband (along with little Easton, my nephew). We had a blast! If there is anyone who knows how to prepare for an amazing time, it's Jamie. She packed all kinds of treats for us to snack on around the campfire. I loved watching TJ try to start a fire - only he would develop an elaborately designed system of layered twigs and toilet paper to get the flames going. It worked, though! I loved sitting around and sharing stories with everyone. What a blast! Thanks Jamie for a great time! This is the area where we camped. I'd include pictures of us if I had any (my photo-phobia is rearing its ugly head...)

Sunday, October 3, 2010


I've gotten lazy about the blog - bottom line. For those of you who may be interested, however, here is what we have been up to lately.

1. We got a Vitamix! It's a pretty glorious machine, I must admit. TJ wanted to make smoothies that were "Jamba" caliber. I think we're almost there! As long as we don't
include the dirty-sock-smelling Greek yogurt purchased at Costco. I got it when they didn't have the Activia yogurt we usually get. Since I discovered that it tastes like armpits on its own, I thought I would try to sneak it into his smoothies - allowing the other flavors to mask it. No dice. He could tell. :( TJ's not a waster.... so I guess I'll be choking this stuff down for the next few weeks. Gah.
2. We have raccoons that set off our motion lights on the porch. TJ's new home-improvement project: do it yourself raccoon traps. I guess we'll see what happens there.. :)
3. Jack London Square - we went for their International Food Festival. It was fun! We got Sisig (Filipino) tacos, chocolate gobs, Mexican grilled corn, and Falafel. Then all the different ethnicities in our stomachs waged war on each other...ouchie.
4. Saw Inception. Amazing!
5. I finished the Hunger Games trilogy. Super lame towards the end. Sorry for those of you that liked it :)
6. Met up with old friends - Heath, Kelsie, and Ricky. Good times! Sorry about the Mariners, Heath :( they lost to the A's over labor day weekend.
7. I'm PREGNANT! ............. ok, not really. Just wanted something to sound exciting in this list!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Winchester Mystery House

This place was creepy! Check it out at www.winchestermysteryhouse.com. Doors to nowhere, stairs to nowhere, ghosts (allegedly).... We had a great time touring the house. I had to delete my original post because it was messing up my blog - if only I could rewrite HTML code :)

Anyway, here are our pics again. I thought Sepia was appropriate :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ashley: 1, San Francisco Half Marathon: 0

Today was the day of the San Francisco Marathon. I never thought I'd say this after 13.1 miles, but I had a blast! Our day started off less than spectacular, though. Permit me to explain.

I set my alarm for 4:30 am, just so I could get up, get ready, make sure I knew my Bart stop, etc. Well, I wake up on my own after seeing some sunlight slip in between our shades. My alarm hadn't gone off! I woke TJ up in a panic, telling him it was 5:50 and we had to go in five min. He rushes around, grabbing an apple and a yogurt for me to eat while I pull my hair back and get my running outfit on. We make it to the Bart station with plenty of time to spare, thank goodness! However, I run to the door of the station...and it's locked. Someone tells me that the Bart doesn't open until 8:00 on Sundays! I turn to see if TJ's left yet, and sure enough, I saw his little Chevy six blocks down. I started to panic. Weighing my options, I realize that, since I chose to leave my phone behind (having nowhere to put it), I have no choice but to run the mile and a half home. I start going, trying to pace myself so I don't blow all my energy before the race, and was halfway home when I saw TJ's car going back to find me! I wave my arms to stop him, but he passed right by. Poor TJ - he was so worried when he realized the Bart station wasn't open until eight. I ran the rest of the way home, waiting by the house for TJ, praying he'd come back to find me. About five min later, he pulled up and started apologizing profusely. He took me all the way to Golden Gate Park, not trusting the shuttles that were supposed to get me there. He said he wouldn't be satisfied until he saw me at the starting line. Haha - oh Teeje!
I had plenty of time to relax and warm up before the race. TJ needed to go home and pack, since his flight back to Cleveland was at 2:00 pm. My goal for the race was to just have fun and start slow. I really wanted to have negative splits, since my first marathon experience was horrendous - I ran nine min miles for the first five and petered out at mile eight - with 18 miles to go. So dumb. This go-around, I wanted to do it right. The weather was perfect and the course gorgeous. I started off slow, watching people pass me and thinking "I'll see you at mile 8..."

I felt so great the whole way! I picked up my pace at about mile eight, as I had thought I would, and did indeed see people who had passed me earlier - tatoo guy, dreadlocks guy, etc. I only really started to "feel it" at mile eleven. I still gave it everything I had. Turns out my last two miles were my fastest. I accomplished my goal of running negative splits! My time was 2:12, which is a ten min mile the whole way. Considering I thought I'd finish in 2:30, I was very pleased. What was even better (although the free Jamba Juice at the end was awesome) was celebrating with TJ. He was so proud of me. :) I really feel that I gave it all I had. I could barely walk afterward, but in an odd way, it's a really satisfying feeling.

Here are a few pictures of us at the expo! This was on Saturday. The expo is where all the runners get their bibs and fill their goody bags with all kinds of free treats. It was really fun. TJ's wearing a Giant's headband in one of our pictures ;) After the expo, we got fish tacos at a place called Gott's. It was great! What a fun weekend. :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I like California, BUT......

.....there are quite a few things I could do without. Especially the traffic. It's like an annoying solicitor....always around at the time of least convenience. There is no such thing as simply hopping on the freeway anymore. I need a plan of attack for every outing - namely, Google maps.

Luckily, I usually have TJ and his iPhone with me when we drive. "Teeje," I say, "it's all red going this way - we need to cut across Grand, take a right on Fern, do a u-turn onto Elm and zip over to the on-ramp against oncoming traffic.... Just trust me!" We usually end up alright, except traffic sneaks up on you out of the blue...and then you're stuck for hours. Literally! Before you even realize what's happened, you've just passed the last exit off the highway and are heading for a one-way ($6) ticket over the bay bridge! Cars are bumper to bumper as far as the eye can see. I'm normally a calm person, but traffic just gets to me. I could never commute to the city for work - forget it! My job gives me a reverse commute, for which I am eternally grateful.

A couple other things that need to go in California....
1. Ridiculously overpriced traffic tickets. Since when is running a red light $500?? (TJ did it, not me! On our way to church, no less...)
2. For that matter, overpriced everything! Oh, you pay $250 for your two story condo in Vermont? I pay $1500 for a 100sq foot tool-shed in some random guy's backyard (that does not include water, garbage, parking, or property tax).
3. Basically everything that bugs me about this place has to do with expenses - paid parking, $15 blocks of cheese, $3.30 gas, etc.

Don't get me wrong, I love it here. I love the beautiful weather and all the fun things to do. I love the people and the restaurants and the shows and sights. I just don't like the pricetag that comes along with them. All the more reason to make my millions selling my delicious whoopie pies. :) That way I can live here and not gripe about the cost. I'd post the recipe but it's a closely held secret! Sorry. Just look for Ashley's Whoopies, coming to a Whole Foods near you!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

LA, Cleveland, and Pulled Pork

This past weekend, the ladies from Provo got together one more time in LA to celebrate the union of Erin and Jonny. Everyone who knows them understands the significance of this day, since they've had to endure one year of long-distance engagement. My heart goes out to them! TJ and I were only long-distance for five months. A year would've killed me :) Kudos to Erin and Jonny for being amazing and keeping their love strong. There is no doubt in my mind that these guys will go far in life. Jonny's in medical school, Erin's got her master's in Educational Technology.... can you say power couple? Thanks, Katherine, for the pictures. I hope she doesn't mind my using them :)

TJ's been in Cleveland for the last two weeks - and still has another two weeks to go. Life's been interesting for me since he's been gone. A broken-down car, riots in Oakland, and a two mile walk to and from the Bart station do not a happy girl make. Oh, well! Everything is fixed now and TJ was able to visit this past weekend. We had a ball as always :)

I made a delicious pulled pork sandwich on Saturday out of the pork chops I'd slow-cooked on Friday. Here is the recipe!
BBQ Pork Sandwich

Sauce: Over medium heat, mix together 1/2 cup ketchup, 2 T worchestershire sauce, 1 t hot sauce, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup BBQ sauce, squirt of mustard, splash of vinegar, 1 t garlic powder and 2 T butter. Cook until simmering, let simmer for five min. Meanwhile, shred your leftover pork (7 hours in a slow cooker with salt and pepper will do the trick if you don't have pork lying around :) ). Mix pork into sauce and place on buns with provolone cheese and a pickle. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Lafayette Reservoir, Chocolatier Blue, and Bocce Ball

While I may not have posted in a little while, it doesn't mean that we haven't been up to a lot of fun things in the Bay Area. The more time I spend here, the more I love it. No wonder so many people want to join the party! :) A few weeks ago, we went to Lafayette Reservoir, a beautiful region near Mt Diablo. We rented a pedal boat and made our way over to a shady grove, an ideal spot to eat the sandwiches we'd packed.
We'd strongly recommend using the canoe if you plan on doing something like this anytime soon. The pedal boat, though we spun with all our might, never accelerated us beyond a snail's pace. Oh, well! It was still a lot of fun.

After that, we played Bocce Ball in a meadow by the reservoir. It's a game similar to horseshoes. You throw a miniature bowling ball as close to the white ball as possible. Sounds easy, right? Well, anyone who knows me knows I am just a wee bit competitive.....so when TJ soundly beat me three times in a row, I might have tackled him and said "I literally hate you right now." Sorry, TJ!! Even so, we had a good time. :)

Last week, TJ and I went to a chocolate shop in Berkeley - Chocolatier Blue. My sister Melissa recommended it. It was incredible. Easily the best chocolates I've ever eaten. They had unique flavors like Passion-fruit Caramel, Red Velvet Cake, and Cookies and Cream. As TJ would say, "NOM NOM NOM!"

Any thoughts on what to do next? It's nice to live in a place that has so many great activities just a short drive away!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Docks and Crescent Rolls

It's so great to have TJ home from all his business trips! To be honest, we haven't participated in lots of activities lately. Weekends are an excuse for us to crash and burn after a long week of work. We ventured out this past Sunday, however, to check out a frisbee golf course in Berkeley. It was too windy to play anything, but we had a nice little walk on the pier stretching towards San Francisco.

TJ was a little chilly. And yet wore flip flops.....

TJ says that while traveling to different cities and eating out on the company may sound glamorous, it gets really tedious and his company just uses travel as an excuse to work their employees to death. Poor guy. He did a great job though and earned his first four star review! (That's accountant-speak for "awesomely outrageous")

I made some homemade crescent rolls this past weekend. Wow - I did not realize how much work they would be! Who knew that those little guys you can buy in the tube from the deli section of the grocery store take so much time and effort to make from scratch? But it was worth it! They were tender, buttery, and absolutely delicious. I'd post the recipe, but it's found on the Cook's Illustrated website (www.cooksillustrated.com). If you've never heard of America's Test Kitchen, Cook's Illustrated, or Cook's Country, I truly feel sad for you! Go check it out. Very inspiring for anyone who loves cooking. :)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Half Moon Bay

Since TJ came home Friday at 11:00 pm and had to fly out again this afternoon (this time to Ohio), we wanted to do something really fun on Saturday - our way of cramming six days of fun into one :) We decided to go to Half Moon Bay, a beautiful coastal region south of San Francisco. The weather was perfect! Seventy degrees without a cloud in the sky. We had a little picnic on the beach. TJ took the reins and made us sandwiches - pastrami with cheddar, pickles, spinach, and honey mustard on wheat bread. He's becoming quite the chef! The other day, he even scrambled his own eggs. I was so proud :)

Here's what the beach looked like. No crowds at all - just perfectly clear water, warm sands, and gentle breezes. We got really lucky.
It took TJ all of five seconds before he sprinted towards the water to play in the small waves. He made me get my feet wet, too. The water was freezing, but it's been years since I've touched the ocean so I'm glad he made me do it :) We couldn't get over how crystal-clear the water was. What a pretty day!
We also were able to celebrate his birthday properly. I made a small, two-layer vanilla cake - TJ said it was so good he couldn't help but make noises when he ate it. When I told him to make a wish before blowing out the candles, he said, "But I already have you!" Even though I know he really wished for the new iPhone 4G, it still melted my heart. :) What a lucky girl I am!
He even brought me back a gift from New York City! A signed picture of the one and only JoBros. Not that I'm necessarily a Jonas Brothers fan.... but he got it for sentimental reasons. Our first kiss was after Stadium of Fire last year, the one where the Jonas Brothers performed. We put the picture up at our place and smile when we look at it. :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

TJ's 26th!

TJ's birthday was on Friday, and I had all kinds of fun things planned! A special breakfast in bed, a surprise picnic amid the beauty of Redwood Regional Park, presents and games, but alas....Thursday, while still at work, I felt that horrible nausea begin to creep over me that we all recognize as the onset of the stomach flu. I wanted to believe it was only going to last a couple hours, but I was wrong. Teeje is in NYC all week (I took him to the airport this morning), so I'll have to make it up to him when he gets back. We still enjoyed an evening at The Cheesecake Factory in Walnut Creek last night.
I was feeling much better and wanted to at least celebrate his 26th somehow so I didn't feel like a complete bum of a wife. We love that place! We had a great time, as we always do on our dates. Walnut Creek is a beautiful area on the East Bay that's just north of the Oakland Temple. If we had a million dollars, we'd live there :)

Here's what I was going to make TJ for our picnic on Friday. It's so fresh and delicious, you really can't go wrong. You can replace the mayo in the recipe with light sour cream (as I did) if you hate mayonnaise (as I do). Enjoy!
California Club Sandwich

Citrus Mayonnaise:
1/3 cup light mayo
2 T orange juice concentrate
1 tsp lemon juice
splash hot sauce
pinch of salt

sourdough bread slices
fresh tomatoes
sliced chicken breast
arugula (or any dark green)
Swiss cheese

Mix up ingredients for citrus mayo. Spread on one slice of sourdough. Stack chicken, tomatoes, avocados, cheese, and arugula on the other slice. Don't forget to salt the tomatoes and avocados. Put the sandwich together and eat!

** I like to pat my sliced tomatoes dry with a paper towel before putting them on a sandwich. That way, it doesn't get soggy. Also, never put wet things (pickles, tomatoes, etc) in direct contact with the bread if you plan on taking it on a picnic or packing it for a lunch. The bread will always get soggy. Things like mayonnaise or butter help "seal" the porous bread so it won't get wet, but it also helps to put the tomatoes between the cheese and the meat. Also, if you want your avocados to last a few hours without turning yucky, toss them in lemon juice. This preserves their color. :)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I love to cook!

This is probably not news to anyone who knows me :) Here's what I made us for lunch today. It's really healthy and delicious! I'll probably be posting a lot of recipes on here because I make something new every day. Here is the recipe.

Fiesta Chicken Salad
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
1 cup chopped jicama (found near the potatoes - crunchy, sweet, and delicious!)
1 can corn niblets
1 cup chunky pico de gallo
1 diced avocado
1/4 red onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup feta cheese
2 cups spinach
Dressing: 1 packet of spicy ranch dressing mixed with 1 1/2 cups buttermilk and 1/2 cup light mayo

Mix all ingredients together (except spinach) with 1/2 cup dressing. Put bed of spinach on each plate, then top with chicken mixture. Eat!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Our Wedding

TJ and I got married on February 13th. It was a really happy day! We had our reception at the beautiful Northampton House in American Fork, Utah, the night before (we highly recommend this idea, since we can't even imagine how anyone can do it all in one day). We got sealed in the Timpanogos temple by George Durrant, who also happened to be TJ's dad's mission president and the author of "Someone Special, Starring You" (one of TJ's favorite books). The wedding day was absolutely perfect, and with the help of close friends and family, everything went smoothly.

We met back in 2008 after our opening ward social in Provo. I went over to his apartment, by the invitation of his roommate, and made banana bread. TJ first remembers me saying "I really will!" followed by "I am going make my husband breakfast in bed every day when I get married." He immediately fell in love..... ok, maybe he didn't, but we all laughed and had a great time that night. The next night, I remember having a Saved By The Bell trivia contest with TJ until three in the morning (sorry, those of you who were under the illusion that I always kept BYU housing curfew......I rarely did) - he narrowly beat me. We formed a close bond after that point. I'd never met someone who was so easy to talk to and who made me laugh so freely. Our fun little "dates" and apartment visits became almost daily, where we'd talk about our day, eat dinner, watch the Office, or have jam sessions (TJ's name for talking about the deeper things of life). TJ accepted a job in San Francisco that year, so we knew something would have to change. We started dating in the summer of '09, knowing it was our one shot to see if we had something more than just friendship before he left for California mid-August.

That summer was so much fun! We went to rodeos, watched fireworks, flew kites, had picnics, played games. watched movies, went for walks, and so much more. When it came time to say goodbye, I drove down to San Francisco with TJ and then flew back. It was a sad time, because I was already pretty set on my path towards my masters degree and career in Utah, so I wasn't sure what would happen to our relationship. But, as you can see, everything worked out alright! We dated long-distance for about five months when TJ proposed at the top of the Space Needle in Seattle, WA. I moved out to California in January and the rest is history!

Here are some more wedding pictures....

My new in-laws are the best! I sure love them!

As of now, TJ and I just love going out and playing in the city (San Francsico) when we have a chance to spend time together. Our work keeps us pretty busy, but we still know how to have fun. :)