Petoskey Fall Getaway

It’s the great northern air.  Absolutely the best trout fishing in the county. No exaggeration.  Fine country.  Good color, good northern atmosphere, absolute freedom.”  -Ernest Hemingway

I haven’t posted on here in a long time, but thought this would be a fun way to share my life’s happenings since I’m no longer using facebook.  If you are interested follow along!

This past week, I was feeling just a little worn down from regular day-to day life and mentioned this to Trav and he suggested we take a little family trip for a few days.  I asked my co-worker and go to travel planner, for some up north ideas and he recommended Petoskey.  Knowing that I really enjoy staying in historic hotels he told me to try Stafford’s Perry Hotel built in 1899.  Ernest Hemingway stayed at the Perry Hotel on his way to his family’s cottage on Walloon Lake and things like this are just neat to me.  So on Tuesday we booked our getaway for the following day.   I think that impromptu trips are sometimes the best ones we have.  You don’t have all the expectations leading up to leaving and exactly how it’s all going to go.  It forces you to be more present and go with the flow – a concept I am trying to adopt in my life in general.

It turned out to be our best family trip to date, and Petoskey is a relaxing, quaint, and very friendly town.  It is just great for families and even couples looking to get some R&R for a few days with lots of shops, excellent fare, and breathtaking views for all of it.  I love visiting towns in their off season, when the hustle and bustle dies down and you have time to breathe and stop and talk to the local folks.  If you are looking for a place to stay up there I highly recommend the Perry as the staff was super helpful and above all very friendly.  We quickly made friends with our server, Dale at breakfast and she brightened our mornings.  She gave us suggestions of where to go, how to get to the beach to hunt for Petoskey stones, and treated us like old family.  We felt pretty special.


There’s our room – the second floor balcony on the right!


Our view from the balcony.  I highly recommend a Little Traverse Bay view room.


Below is the view from the H.O. Rose room and Ford shoveling in every last bite of waffle, his staple for breakfast every morning of the trip.



The first floor lobby area and the fireplace where we sat and drank a bottle of wine while Ford played with some toys and we watched a wedding rehearsal taking place.



We braved the cold with some wine on the balcony while Ford napped 😉



We hunted for Petoskey stones and walked for a while along the Wheelway, the paved path which runs along the bay.  This would be great for bikes in the summer.  I’m not sure why but the fall colors were so much more vibrant than down-state.  It was breathtaking!



















We did some shopping  and enjoyed the restaurants in town, and Ford’s favorite store was the Rocking Horse Toy Co.  The great thing is the Perry is right downtown so no need to drive to shops and restaurants.






At the Palette Bistro for dinner, just down the street from the hotel.



One of my favorite things we did was visit The Pond Hill Farm in Harbor Springs along the famous tunnel of trees drive.  The Farm has lots for young kids to do and also has nearly 200 acres with walking paths, a trout pond, vineyards for the winery, a brewery and much more.























Some more views from along the tunnel of trees and our stop in Harbor Springs!












I hear Petoskey is beautiful in Christmas time, like out of a story book.  I hope you too, get a chance to visit and enjoy the fresh Up North air.

Easy Spring Flowers – Just in time for Easter!

I was tired of seeing my winter/Christmas Wreaths and window boxes once the snow FINALLY melted, so I decided to give them a spring facelift, just in time for Easter!  Last year, I tried to channel my green thumb and planted real flowers in my window boxes but I’ve never been very timely with my watering.  House plants never survive with me.  In fact, I’m currently trying to save a half-dead boxwood bush – I think its time to let it go…oopsy.  So needless to say, I went artificial this year, the expense was greater but I’m hoping I can re-use them a few times and make it worth while.  I like that I will get to enjoy free time with my family, go on vacations, and worry about one less thing. We all need one less thing to worry about, right?



And I don’t think I sacrificed on style, there are some pretty realistic artificial plants, flowers, and vines available these days.  I purchased all of the flowers/plants in my boxes from Hobby Lobby during a 50% off sale for about $100.  I’ll save you the time of pricing shopping I went to a few different stores and found Hobby Lobby to have the best prices and AMAZING selection.





I really had no idea what I was doing when I put these together, but it only took me about 30 minutes, some scissors, and a wire cutter.  I think the important thing is variety and texture, color is optional.  I recommend adding some height and length for fullness too.

Next….if the dead shrubbery just below my window boxes would green up.  C’mon Spring!  Happy Easter weekend tomorrow everyone!





Capturing Those Everyday Moments

So I’ve been a  inspired to do a little more lately…. I recently came across (and maybe you did too) a photographer’s photos of her son in every day life that are so simple and yet so strikingly beautiful and captivating.  Now, bear in mind they are heavily photo-shopped, but still they blow me away.  They are done by Elena Shumilova,and you can check out her facebook page to see what I am talking about.   I would love to be able to capture my son’s life in a beautiful way too.  I hope to capture those every day moments and display them in a way that shows just how truly spectacular they are.  I picked up my camera after bath time the other day, I just love watching Ford grow, explore, and learn.

How incredible to see life through the eyes of a child once again….






I’m posting these while I’m inside staying warm, riding out the latest snowfall  and doing what I love.  I hope you are doing the same this Saturday.

Much love, Ashley 🙂

It’s more than a bank holiday -reflecting on MLK Day

As I think about the kind of person Martin Luther King Jr. was I am wondering what kind of person am I? I believe Martin Luther would want us all to take this day to reflect on our own characters, and not just his. 

I choose to commemorate this day remembering it takes unimaginable courage to be different.  No matter whether it is due to race, religion, sexual orientation, ability or disability. How easy it is to fall in line with those around you even if it means doing,believing, and professing the wrong thing.  Do what you feel IN YOUR HEARTS to be right with others, and the world around you.  It is often times the most difficult thing to do, but the most rewarding in the end.  Love one another fully (even if you disagree) and take some time to help those in need.  If I had only one ounce of the bravery, courage, and confidence in my moral compass as Martin Luther King Jr. what a person I would be. 

Going forward this day is a reminder to stand up for those who have been marginalized, keeping in mind that others have dedicated their lives for the betterment and freedom of us all.  I strive to never take that for granted. 

Have a wonderful week, and I hope that you find MLK Day to be more than just a bank and work holiday my friends…. 🙂

What Infertility Taught Me

DSC_6356I recently read a blog post about infertility that I felt compelled to write a response to.   It ignited frustration and a pet peeve within me about the way couples affected by infertility feel they must cope.  And that is largely to become obsessed with their infertility, letting their life focus solely on the anger, frustration, and “why me”?  Now,  the article was written by a husband who had a period of 14 months or so trying to conceive with his wife.  They now have a 3 year old son and have been trying to conceive another child unsuccessfully for two years.  If you want to check it out you can read the post here

It sounds awful but,  I read his blog post and could not help but think this is SO depressing.  Even the title, The Disgrace of Infertility makes me squirm.  Do we need to make ourselves think of it that way?? Should infertility take up this much of our efforts, thoughts, and purpose?  Those who are in the midst of infertility probably will not find solace or comfort from reading his post.  Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way bashing this couple or what they went through, or anyone who has or is suffering from  infertility.  In fact, my husband and I dealt with infertility for over 4 years and still have never been able to conceive a child.  However, if you read my last post you will see that we finally adopted our son 3 months ago (yahoooeeee!!!).

What I can tell you about infertility is that it taught me a hell of a lot.  I’m actually glad it happened to me.  Let me say that again – I feel BLESSED and lucky to be faced with infertility.  Coming from a generation that felt scheduling everything is the epitome of productivity and success, it showed me that life is NOTHING like that.  If you really take a step back and look at society,  at a young age we start kids on a busy schedule because it’s the right thing to do – i.e heading from school, to practice, to youth group etc.   But is it really?  We start to truly believe that we should be able to and need to schedule life events, including starting a family.  I think that being forced to take life as it has come for me has let me absorb all struggles in life more effectively.  Life isn’t perfect, not even close and lots of bad and terrible things can and may happen to all of us through the course of it.  I now know how we handle our struggles in life defines us.  It’s those times that make us who we are.  I know that I can handle anything that comes my way and that if it’s not on my terms it’s all going to be fine.  And you will be ok too.   If those kids/jobs/achievements (whatever they may be) don’t come right away, because let’s face it there’s so many things in life we are “waiting” for, use that time to develop your marriage, take a life-altering vacation, start  a business, or find your real passions. So many things are thrown at us in life and you have a choice, to be happy, or not.  Why not start through infertility?

People may have a problem with this next statement, but I never want my child or being a mom to define who I am.  Sometimes we all forget just how temporary life is.  I never know if my child will wake up tomorrow or if I will.  My parents, husband or family members may not wake up tomorrow and I have to be ok with it and able to go on with  life – it’s part accepting mortality and  part finding appreciation and gratitude for every day, through all of life’s events.  You know, despite everything I’ve mentioned I know it’s still hard, I get it trust me, I’m sending many hugs and thoughts to those of you are are dealing with infertility.  You know who you are – and let me tell you there’s light at the end of the tunnel whether you end up with kids or not.

Much love – Ashley

Changes are a good thing, right!?

Well, let’s see a lot has changed since my last post. Seems this blog has gone a bit dormant due to life, but really it’s no excuse and I find myself back to expressing myself on here as some sort of big therapeutic release. Lots has changed in the past year, we’ve purchased a foreclosure in June 2013 and renovated it top to bottom, sold and moved out of our house in July, and all at the same time my husband Travis left the world of a steady paycheck and became a real estate agent (which basically means he’s self employed in my book).

We also took home a baby boy on October 5, 2013 hours after Trav was done performing the marriage ceremony (literally, yes he’s ordained!) of his best friend. We made it to the hospital and held our son Ford for the first time 15 minutes after he was born. We were literally at the wedding when his birth mother contacted me that she was on her way to the hospital and so we couldn’t make it in time to witness the birth. But it’s all gravy because wonderfully and so anxiously awaited, our son Ford legally became our child on November 18th, 2013. November 18th marked almost one year to the day that we gave back our previous child Hudson. All after caring for him for 9 days, when his birth parents suddenly changed their mind. So it was bittersweet to say the least.

There’s lots more to come on each of these topics…and I will be sharing photos of our new home, fun projects, my journey on parenthood, and likely much less fashion these days as our little man soaks up the majority of my time, energy, and passion – and BOY is that a great thing!! Here’s to hoping for changes for you in 2014, I’ve found they bring much excitement, lots of learning, and a new lease on life! Cheers and Happy Friday all 😉



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Easy, Print Yourself, Downloadable Art


So you want some cute art in your home for little dough – no problem, I’ve got you covered 🙂  I have been working in photoshop for many years and wanted to share with you the fabulous print I made for my nursery to be.  It’s not occupied yet, but hopefully soon!  You can also make your own art if you are handy OR you can check out the blog Dear Lillie and download some of hers for FREE.  Who doesn’t love free right??  She also has some other designs for purchase and a REALLY great large chalkboard download too.  Check out her shop HERE 🙂  But, if you want to download my creation for free and print your own you can do so HERE 🙂 Happy decorating all and Happy Monday – hope your week is fabulous!


HEALTHY Meal Planning & Organized Smart Phone Shopping Lists


Image Source: Martha

Happy Monday all -I hope your weekend was splendid!  Mine was, although I am desperately awaiting spring and warmer weather!  Although, I will settle for some sunshine for now 🙂

I thought I would share with you all how and what I prepare for meals.  My husband and I are what you might call Flexitarian….what is that you ask??  Well, we eat meat very rarely and it’s usually turkey or fish, and we almost always are vegetarian.  I also try to stick to Organic items.  With spring around the corner and (ehem) bathing suit season, it doesn’t hurt to cut some calories and trim some fat from your meals.

I know a lot of people think that eating healthy is time consuming.  This is totally and completely wrong – it is just a different lifestyle, I actually think it takes the same amount of time to prepare meals.  I recently started using a grocery shopping app for my smart phone called, Out of Milk, that saves me lots of time and scratch paper.  It makes shopping so easy!  It has all your local ads and you can easily browse through and add items to your list as well as being able to type in your own items.  You can share it with anyone you like, so that way my husband or myself can stop at the store and there is no worry whether we forgot the list or he can’t read my hand writing.

I also love using Pinterest for meal ideas and I sure many of you do this as well!  If you want tons of healthy options – check out my Pinterest recipe pins HERE.  It makes finding recipes so easy and pretty much makes cook books a thing of the past!  If you aren’t using this as a meal planning tool you are missing out!

I also thought I would share what I plan on making this week with links to the recipes so you can give them a try yourself.  Also, keep in mind to it’s ok to try your own twist on meals – I know I do 🙂  If I am missing and ingredient I may substitute something else.  Luckily – there are no rules!  Happy eating everyone!! 🙂

Monday:  Mushroom & Scallion Frittata  

Tuesday:  Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos

Wednesday: Portobello, Broccoli and Red Pepper Melts

Thursday: Spinach linguine ( I will probably add more veggies to this than the recipe calls for just to spice it up 😉

Friday: Spinach & Mushroom Quesadillas


EASY 5 Minute Beachy Wave Tutorial is HERE!!

Before & After

Hey everybody, it is finally here – my quick and easy beachy wave tutorial! 🙂  This is where I show you how to achieve that beachy, sexy, full of body look in 5 minutes with very minimal blow-drying.  Iwill show you how I do it and what products I use!  All you moms out there or those of you (like me) who always seem to be running late this is perfect for you 🙂

Kitchen Updates That Go a Long Way


Over that last few years, my kitchen has been the one thing I have wanted to update within my home.  I’ve toyed with the idea of painting the cabinets, over and over.  Sometimes, I think white – but it seems so, so overdone.  Or then there’s an olive green or possibly a gray.  I don’t love the maple clear coat we have on our cabinets, but they are such nice quality, that I just hate to paint them.  I’t’s been a dilemma of mine, sure to continue for a while until I make a decision.

But, that being said I still wanted to give our kitchen a face lift as our home will be 10 years old this fall.  So, my husband and I finally decided that we would get a new back splash.  Of course, that  turned in to new cabinet hardware, a new faucet, and a new pendant light!  All of this delighted my husband so much…, no not really lol.  But, I love all of the updates and they were easy for us to do quickly (I have no patience!) .   And to top it off, I think they can update your kitchen immensely without spending thousands of dollars getting new cabinets, or spending tons of time painting.

We did hire out the back splash installation because the glass subway tiles are tricky to do yourself, and unless you are extremely handy don’t attempt!  I replaced all the knobs myself and even installed the pendant light because it is the kind you simply screw into an existing can light.  I love these as an alternative to hiring an electrician to re-wire your home and it’s a quick and relatively inexpensive change.  You can check out the one I have HERE.

Even if you have just a small budget, changing out the knobs can make a big impact and give your space and entirely different feel.  Happy decorating all!!





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