Friday, December 17, 2010

The bathroom ant

The bathroom ant

My dear tiny friend,

How came you to live in my bathroom? Aren't ants supposed to leave scent trails to follow? If so, how is it that your friends led you so astray?

I have seriously considered washing you away; I thought of putting you out of your life of lone travels through my bathroom, which I first interpreted to be a miserable existence, but I feared His Holiness the Dalai Lama would chase after me in nightmarish visions with a rolling pin. But then I soon realized that would be unlikely given what I'd done to all the cave crickets in the other end of the house. But I digress...

Where do you go besides between the shower and the sink? And why is it that I only see you, no matter the hour, on weekdays except for Friday? Do you work only four days a week?

Since you have been here for several weeks now, I take it that you have moved in. I hope you have a lovely apartment in the shower windowsill. I will not charge you rent, as I can't do math that small, and you probably don't have money anyways. But please don't get a mate and start having children. This is a single family home, you know.

Well, thanks for the company in the shower. I'll see you bright and early Monday morning.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

For my cousins

Hi folks,

Long time no type. Sorry about that. We've both been busy with life, as I'm sure you've been too.

We're in the process of remodeling the "pink" bathroom. This was my project and my bathroom, and having a 1950s pink tub presented quite a challenge. Since this bathroom faces our brown bedroom, I decided pink+brown+white= neapolitan ice cream. Covering up the tub wasn't an option to me, as I saw it as a nod to my late Grandmother.

My awesome pink tub

We got the shower part of the bathroom fixed up about a month ago. Two big delays were finding a vanity I liked and would fit (we're talking a 5' x 6' bathroom here), and finding the flooring I had pictured in my mind. Now that both of those are accomplished, we're moving forward.

I guess any time you do construction or remodeling on a home that was hand built by someone you're bound to find neat little surprises. For us, these surprises have a lot of meaning, because they're things done or left by my late Grandfather.

So I wanted to do this post to share with my family, and especially my cousins, so they could see all the neat things we've found. Why my cousins? Well, we've heard family stories, and I don't know about them, but I feel like there's a lot of the family's history I missed out on. Sharing this stuff makes me feel like I'm getting to live a little bit of that history, and I hope my cousins feel the same.

With his own hands
Take for instance this pattern. This is the adhesive he used to stick to the tiles to the wall. Our Grandfather placed each one of these by hand. (And the tiles were numbered, which helped.)

And even weirder than having carpet in the bathroom are both of the layers of tile we found under the carpet. The white pebble-y kind isn't so bad, but that marbled blue? With a pink bathtub? I don't get it. It certainly was a technicolor world back then.
Two layers of tile

But to me, at least so far, the best surprise has been this one, hidden behind the toilet paper holder:
Measure twice

It looks so much like my own Dad's handwriting, I had to ask if it was his. It's our Grandfather's.

I'll try to post more if we find more.

Hopefully I'll have some finished bathroom pictures up just after Thanksgiving.
All for now,

Monday, September 6, 2010

Long weekend

Grandy's Truck
Man, I'm sore. Being a homeowner makes me feel like how Grandy's truck looks.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ian and the bear

The following was a discussion that happened this morning after breakfast. I thought it was too funny not to share.

Ashlie: I want to bike the Cade's Cove loop.
Ian: I don't! There are bears there.
Ashlie: There are bears, yes, but it's safe to bike there.
Mom: Ian, families bike it.
Ashlie: ...with little kids.
Ian: But I don't want families to look at me and say, 'hey look at that fat guy trying to bike.' And the bears will see I'm fat and think-
Dad: Mmmm....cheeseburgers!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Trials & tribulations in homeownership

Hi folks,
Thanks for sticking with us through our move and a week of technical difficulties in getting internet access. We're here in Tennessee, and moving here sure has kept us on our toes! Here's the best of the good, the bad, and the annoying so far:

To start, our refrigerator failed, prompting a quick search for someone who would let us borrow one until we can buy a replacement next month. Thank God for our close friends Brian and Amber!

I nearly ruined a load of white clothes in our washing machine. Needless to say it was my fault, but our plumbing system needs a good overhaul. Since writing the previous two sentences, we've discovered we have even more plumbing issues that bleed from the washing machine to one of our bathrooms. Luckily we have two bathrooms- the pink bathroom has a functional toilet and sink. Tub and shower need work. The blue bathroom has a functional toilet and TINY shower stall (shaving my legs has become nearly impossible. Sorry for the TMI.), but a non-functioning sink.

Moving into a house that was occupied by my Grandparents for roughly 50 years really makes you aware of how much crap stuff you accumulate in your life. With that said, moving into a non-empty house was challenging in that we had to maneuver around the remaining items belonging to my Grandparents while moving in our stuff. We thought the place would be empty when putting our previously 600 square feet of belongings into a 1050+ square foot house. Not so, my friends! We still haven't finished unpacking all the apartment stuff, and we've just barely begun getting things we've left at my parents' house over the years. In other words, if you come for a visit it may look sort of junky and/or trashy with all the boxes around and a carport full of random appliances and items, but I promise we're working on it!
farm bell

Now having said all that, I don't mean to sound unhappy or ungrateful. I can speak for Ian when I say we are both honored to live in the house my Grandparents literally built with their own hands, and any repairs or troubles we encountered are well worth it. To further prove my point, here are some of the happy things that we've discovered since moving:

We've had just about every single meal with Mom and Dad, either at their place or ours.

If they're outside, we can "holler" back and forth if we need. (We also have a great big farm bell we ring to tell them to come down for dinner.)

Kitter in the window
Since we're all off on the weekends together, we have a standing date for a weekly trip to Lowe's for whatever we need to fix our house. We're also looking forward to attending the Kingston and Tennessee Valley Fairs together.

One big worry we had was how well our cat, Kitter, would ajust. As you can tell by the picture, she has adjusted very well. Right now there are only two places in the house she is not allowed, and it'll probably continue to be that way if we can help it.

We got our plants from our balcony garden transplanted, and even added some new plants on our carport! We have thyme and rosemary just off our carport. We now have more bell peppers (and blooms) than ever. I took some pictures, but they're not close up enough for y'all to see anything at the size I'd have to use. Anyway, I'm already excited for next year's gardening season!

That's enough for now. Hope all y'all are well! Thanks again for your continued love and support.

Welcome home and happy birthday!

I moved back home on my 29th birthday. Ian invited close friends and family over for a cookout. Here are some pictures. There are more details about our first week in our house over on the Conway Scrapblog.

My 29th birthday party/welcome home party

They tried to make me a smiley face with the candles on my cake.
24 candles for 29 years; or smiley face

We all had cake and a great time!
My 29th birthday party/welcome home party

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Playing catch up

Hi folks,
Just wanted to pop in to give a quick update. I landed a fantastic job in Tennessee, and August 19th will be my last day at USC. I'm really going to miss the fantastic friends and colleagues I've made while here, but I'm looking forward to homesteading with Ian! My birthday is on the 20th, so I'm giving myself unemployment and my first home for my birthday!

Now to the pictures!
Here's the before:
Master bedroom

And here's the after (adjacent corner):

One room down, one to go! WOOT!

The bathroom is the next room. We've already torn it up, but I'm at a loss as to what to do with it. We've got a mauve bathtub and limited funds right now, so that's hurting progress. I think I'll keep the pink bathtub just for fun, but how to plan around it? I have some of the floor tile that'll work with it, but the walls are stumping me. The whole bathroom is currently tiled halfway up the wall (except for the shower/tub area), and it bothers me. I like all tile or no tile (again, except the shower area). Also, the tile is white with little green/gold specs, so it looks off-white overall. Suggestions (and pictures of suggestions) are absolutely welcomed!

So stay tuned, friends. Looks like my 29th year on this planet might just be the best yet.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Best $15 investment, as advised by Ebert and Ashlie

I had heard Roger Ebert penned a cookbook for rice cookers. Even more intriguing-he can't eat. After following him on twitter, I realized this must be an ingenious and worthwhile device for such an intelligent and humorous man to devote his talents to it. Ever since, I've been curious.

It's not like rice was hard to cook. But it could be a pain. Too much water, too much time spent standing over the stove. Yes, color me a typical lazy American.

I can't remember where- maybe here- but I vaguely remember hearing that a rice cooker was great for cooking for 1-2 people. Also, you could cook just about anything in it. Since I'm newly cooking for one, I thought I'd look into getting one.

My parents came in for a weekend and we went shopping. I cruised the kitchen appliance isle to be utterly surprised-rice cookers are as cheap as $13.99!  Mom & Dad got me mine: a 6 cup Rival rice cooker. I've relied on it for my lunches (and sometimes dinner) every day since.

Now mine isn't this cute little red color- it's just white, but I love it just the same. I've gone through two big bags of brown rice, making it both economical and very healthy. I also think it's perfect for those of us who don't want to spend a lot of time preparing our lunches each day.

Here's what I do:
-On Sunday, I put in anywhere from two to three cups of rice. In 30 minutes or less, this will double into cooked rice. You just put in the rice and corresponding water and walk away. You can tell the rice is ready when your house starts to smell of cooked rice. Yum!
-I scoop the rice out into sandwich sized reusable containers. Sometimes I do exactly one cup per container, sometimes I don't. Either way, it always makes enough to put in at least four containers.
-Let these cool, then refrigerate.
-Make sure to have lots of frozen vegetables on hand. In the morning when you're preparing for work, toss some frozen vegetables on top of a container of rice. Spritz with Bragg's Liquid Aminos for salt and added protein.

Ta-da! Lunch is ready for the day in less than 3 minutes (unless you include the 30 minutes that the rice cooker cooked).  Plus, the lunch you made is most likely under 300 calories. Nifty!

And like Ebert suggests, you can cook almost anything in your rice cooker. The most daring I've been so far is to try a box of garlic & pine nut long grain & wild rice. It cooked up much quicker than if cooked on the stove, and tasted just as good. Plus, I didn't have to add all that butter as suggested on the box (I actually used a tiny drizzle of olive oil instead), so that's another bit of healthy savings.

Let us know if you have a rice cooker and what all you've cooked in it. They're such great little tools to have to help you cook healthy & cheaply!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Creative cooking adventures

Just wanted to give y'all a head's up that I'm going to be doing a series of posts on the Conway Scrapblog about creatively cooking when your hunger is high and your budget is low. Taking the odds and ends in your pantry and making something exciting and new is a challenge, but can be really fun!

Getting creative

Times have been tough on everyone of late, and I think we've all had to find creative ways to make it by. When Ian was still here with me in South Carolina, he was in charge of our day-to-day cooking. [I fully credit Ian with the weight we've lost due to his strict measurement and calorie counting. I subscribe to my Grandmother's school of measure nothing and add stuff in until it tastes good.] With Ian gone and financial hardships still present, I've had to get really creative in the kitchen.

Soon after Ian left, I did a pseudo-inventory of everything in the kitchen just to know what I was working with. One of my more fun finds in the pantry was a bottle of bacon salt that I'd gotten Ian a while back. This was exciting because if left to my own devices I'd probably never eat meat.

I tried a little of it in various dishes, but I have to say that the biggest success came from using it in grits. Here's what I did:

Ashlie's queso bacon grits
Bacon salt, any flavor
Yellow grits
Cheese, queso, or any similar cheesy substitute

For one serving, put one cup water and one teaspoon of bacon salt in a saucepan. Bring to boil. Stir in 1/4 cup of grits. Cover and turn down to low heat. Once cooked, stir in cheese of choice. (I found a half used jar of queso in the back of the fridge. I dipped my spoon in twice, mixed in with the grits, and it added a great flavor!)

If you've tried bacon salt, or have other great creative pantry ideas, let us know! I'm going to post more of my creative cooking adventures soon!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

An update

I had a few minutes to kill so I wanted to write as much of an update as I could.
To start, Ian LOVES his new job, and has already gotten a raise! I'm jealous! Things are looking up for me on the job front, too- sort of. I'm waiting to hear back, hopefully with good news. That's all I'm going to say about that! Things have been really stressful of late at my current job due to various events, but in a way, it's nice because it makes the time go by quickly!

On the house, I hear there is hardwood flooring under the carpet in the master bedroom. This is exciting, but I haven't seen proof of it yet. Also, the drywall to redo that one wall in the bedroom has been purchased. Maybe Dad and Ian will get it up soon and post pictures!

I think in two weeks most of our family will be coming in to have one last go through the house to get stuff, and hopefully if the weather participates, we'll have a yard sale soon after. The following weekend, Mom and Dad (and maybe Ian?) will come pick up the SUPER cool couch we bought. I'm so excited to see it in the house!

Anyway, that's really all I know. Maybe Ian can chime in with more news or some pictures.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Something to cut the grass with on the farm!

So summer is here a little early and with all the heat that is here, so is the grass!  I swear, grass/hay could probably grow in the desert... Oh wait.

Anyways, the reason I am talking about grass is the fact someone has to cut it or it will turn into a huge mess and pretty soon Tarzan will be swinging in it.  I guess for a guy, we are always looking to turn chores into fun times.  So, with cutting grass, I'm going to be restoring a Snapper Comet Rear Engine Rider lawn mower.  It was Ashlie's granddad's and then it was handed over to her dad.  It has been sitting for a while and is a bit rusty, but in overall good shape.  You may remember this model of lawn mower in the film Forrest Gump, where Tom Hanks would use this model Snapper to mow his grass and the football field.

I decided I would video the progress along the way so that I can look back and go, "Man, this has really been fun!" and also to maybe help looking to restore something like this in the future.  Granted, this is my first time doing something like this, so I am by no means a guru!

Here's the first installment of Ian's Snapper Restoration:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I'm a lemonade factory

Where do I even begin?

A few months back, I hinted (either here or on the Conway Scrapblog) that some major news would be announced by the end of the year. I didn't want to announce anything until things were legal and finalized, but my excitement and my big stupid mouth got in the way. Ian's done some posts about it on the Scrapblog, but I wanted to officially announce it once and for all:
By the end of the year, I will be a homeowner in Tennessee.
 Long story short, we will be inheriting part of my Grandparents' farm, which is amazing because Ian and I want to expand on our organic farming, and also because we'll literally be right across the street from my parents. There are about 100 other really great reasons, but I won't go into them all here.

The property still isn't legally ours, and we have no clue when it will be. We had originally planned to move there at the end of October when our lease is up. However...

Ian lost his job. He's been so unhappy here for so long. It seems like every job here requires a college degree, and every time we get him enrolled in school something drastic or crazy happens with our finances, never allowing him to do more than one consecutive semester. Being the smart thinker he is, he realized that there are many more job opportunities in our area of Tennessee for non-degree holders, so he volunteered to move there and get a job. And he did.

Meanwhile, I find out that my boss has been offered and accepted a job offer from an extremely prestigious institution. She's leaving in the beginning of August. I'm unofficially second in command, so this has major implications for me. I don't expect to be interim head, but I do think I need to do my part to lead us through this transition. The administration have reassured me they'll begin a search to replace her, but it most likely won't be this year.

Now you might ask, gosh Ashlie, that sure is a lot of change! How are you holding up?
Why thank you for asking! I'm holding my own, I guess. I jokingly have started to call myself a lemonade know, the old saying, "When life gives you lemons, turn them into lemonade!"

Pieces of my life 4Honestly the hardest part has been being without Ian. I don't sleep well. I don't really have anyone here in town without major commitments to hang out with. I've literally had to fight myself to get up and get out of the apartment rather than sit here and mope. Sure, I video skype with Ian, Mom, and Dad every night, but it's just not the same.

 So for now, I'm here and he's there...and that's just how it has to be.

But in the meantime, Ian's done some great photoblogging at the Scrapblog on what he's doing to fix up our house. Once we're both moved in we'll be doing some serious blogging about all the fixing up we'll get to stay tuned!

Oh and before I forget- those of you who found out about all this before this post and left comments, tweeted, facebooked, or voiced your support and friendship- it has been GREATLY appreciated. I love how every day friendship is shown to me when I least expect it. We all need to have a little more of that in our lives.

Until next time, my friends....

Working, working, working...

I figured I would give something of an update being that we skipped the month of June altogether. I have moved to Tennessee to Ashlie's parent's farm and will start my new job on Friday. I've been here for about 2 weeks as there is a ton of work to be done!

Let's start first with the house. The master bedroom had 3 layers of wallpaper to be torn down before we could start painting. After about five gallons of soapy water and a few hours of scraping, we were able to get down to the bare bones. Here are some before and after pictures!

And after...

And here a little sample of the paint!

The wallpaper in the bathroom was insanely stuck to the wall.  This required a ton of soapy water and a lot of time scraping small sections...

Now to the outside.  First we'll make a stop by the tomato plants.  We have tomatoes!

And my project this morning/all of today was to start clearing out by the creek.  I think I made a dent in it...

And looking forward, after I finish clearing the creek, this will be my next project. There is a barn behind there somewhere!

I'll have more pictures of the progress when we get there! 


Monday, June 21, 2010

Thoughts on passing the baton

One of my favorite librarians to follow on Twitter, Andy W, made a great blog post about the age ranges of librarians according to ALA statistics. I was really shocked by the results. Your author, dear friends, (while not a member of the ALA) would technically be placed in rank with 7% of other librarians. In fact, I became a tenure-track faculty librarian at the age of 26. From Andy's blog:
If you apply the percentages to the ALA Library Fact Sheet, it gives the following breakdown out of 149,521 librarians:

45 and older – 89,712

30-44 years old – 49,342

20-29 years old – 10,466                                            

So why, when the stereotype of the gray haired, bespectacled old lady librarian is the norm, would I be so surprised? I'm not really sure. I guess I look around at all the amazing librarians I know, and maybe I see them as being ageless. Anyway, that's not the point I wanted to make here. The following are just thoughts and ramblings based on my experience. They don't necessarily represent my own views, and certainly don't represent the ideas of all librarians, libraries, or anyone else I can think of. I know what I'm writing may be scandalous, but my intention is not to start a fight. I love all my librarian colleagues, no matter their age!


I find that I'm a very sharing person...if I know of something good, I think you should know about it, too. I love my profession, and I think you should love it, too. In professional terms, you could say I constantly have outreach on my mind. So when Andy's post came out, I started to think about what we're doing wrong, or possibly just not doing at all to make sure our baton gets passed to younger generations.

The mentor that initially told me and then taught me about librarianship was in the 30-44 age range (let's call them middlers) when I started on this path. I don't know many 20-29 year-old librarians-to-be (let's call them younglings or millennials) who have solid, close relationships with the ALA's most populous age group (but that's not to say they don't exist). Most of my closest librarian friends are also in the middler group. But that's just me.

And since I'm about to be pointing fingers here, let me point back to myself for a minute. You might ask what have I done to help recruit new librarians? I've engaged with people on various social networking sites that have mentioned going to library school. I've talked to students at my institution and outside about the different types of librarianship, and how much fun librarianship can be. I fought (and won) for the regional library association of which I'm a member to have a Facebook account to do outreach to those who don't know about our profession or may be considering it.

But back to the problem.

Are our younglings looking at the majority group as something along the lines of technologically slow? Since younglings sometimes suffer from the millennial attention-deficit, we tend to "tune out" folks we feel can't keep up with our pace, technologically or otherwise.  On the other hand, I know of younglings and non-library millennials who definitely think that I am too technology crazed/savvy/what have you, and they find that a turn off to librarianship.

But what about our good friends, the middlers? Are they too busy jumping through hoops to get tenure, making presentations at major conferences, or fighting to keep their budget intact to worry about outreach? Based on the experience I had and the experience of a few folks I know, the answer to that is no.

So what's the deal? Where are we going wrong?

I know lately the economy has definitely turned two people I know off of librarianship. Who can afford to take on more student loan debt in this economy? Who wants to go into a profession where the jobs are so frequently based on volatile state/local government funding?

I don't think there are good answers here, at least yet. I'd say once the economy turns back to normal and our youngling millennials get a little older, we may be able to notice an actual trend.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Monkey feet!


These must be mine.
That is all.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Our Anniversary

Yesterday, May 26th, was our 3rd anniversary. We've really been focused on being extra frugal, not eating out, and really trying to redo our whole budget. As the one with no willpower whatsoever, I wanted to go somewhere "fancy" (don't even ask what that entails because I don't know that even I can explain it), and ever practical, Ian wanted to go somewhere within our budget- $30. Ian & I couldn't decide on a local place to eat dinner that met both our requirements, so we decided to cook dinner together. I pulled out my handy Eating Well 500 Calorie Dinners recipe book, and flipped to page 128: Lemon-Garlic Shrimp & Vegetables.

Ian agreed to make a run to our local Earth Fare and pick up the things we needed for the recipe, which turned out to be most of the items in the recipe.

Towards the end of the day, Ian showed up at my work with a dozen beautiful roses!  That picture isn't the dozen he got me, and in no way compares to the beauty of the ones he got me, but I ran out of time and will have to post the actual picture later.

Anyway, we get home and start cooking. It was a very simple recipe to cook. While Ian was chopping the asparagus and red bell pepper, I was prepping the shrimp and measuring out other things we needed.

The best thing I love about that cookbook is that it pairs side dishes and/or desserts and drinks with each meal. For this recipe, it said we could have a side of cauliflower & couscous or quinoa with fresh herbs AND a choice from two other sides. We love quinoa, so that's our go-to grain. Since Earth Fare was out of the quinoa we regularly get, Ian got red quinoa. We both thought the red quinoa had a slightly stronger and somehow slightly different flavor than regular quinoa. Also, when I was washing the quinoa, it smelled like peanuts! Anyway, I digress...

So the coolest thing about all this (besides it being our anniversary and having a romantic date night at home), was that we ended up both getting what we wanted. Ian spent $25 at Earth Fare for the dinner ingredients and dessert (we split a chocolate vegan cupcake). We saved the bell pepper seeds to plant next year, and we still have probably .75 lbs of shrimp left. We also have a ton of quinoa left, but we can use that with just about any dish! I got my fancy meal, and a chocolate dessert, so life was good! All in all, it was a great deal and a fantastic meal!

Now for a rant.

Dear Earth Fare:
Would you please publish a vegan baking cookbook? I promise if you publish one I'll still eat at your store! I'd give anything to know how you make your vegan cupcakes. I also had a coconut date bar that was out of this world. I bought a vegan dessert book, and everything I baked out of it was dry and not very good. I'm a great baker of non-vegan goods, so trying to replicate your recipes might restore my faith in vegan baking!

Monday, May 24, 2010

I'm a sucker...

Normally I do not do these sort of things, but a friend went to New Zealand last summer and loved it. In fact, he came back a changed man.

I'm not saying I need to be changed, but it would be fantastic to finally get to go on a honeymoon with Ian, albeit three years later! So head on over to and enter their contest! If you win the trip for two to New Zealand, you have to take me because I told you about it. Deal? Deal.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

It's a start!

A few days ago, we visited our soon to be home (hopefully) and did some outside work. Among pulling vines, pruning trees, and mowing grass, we planted some of our heirloom Brandywine organic tomatoes that we started from seed in Columbia on our balcony. Granted, these guys don't look like much right now, but hopefully they will grow tall and produce some nice greenish-red tomatoes that will taste great!

Here are some pics that were taken by Ash as I got my first lesson on tilling up the ground and the finished result.  I tilled one small strip that would accommodate six plants.  We'll try to keep you updated on these beauties!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ian's Earth Fare video


Just in case you haven't already seen it, here's Ian's video for the Earth Fare video contest. If you like the video, share it with your friends! Even the honorable mentions get fantastic prizes, and having an Earth Fare gift certificate in any amount would be so helpful with the economy as it is!

Happiness is...

Orange iris

It's iris time in Tennessee!
We were back in Tennessee this past weekend, and the irises were really putting on a show! One of our neighbors has reportedly spent $300 on fancy varieties of irises, and I must say they are beautiful!

We're headed back to Tennessee tomorrow after work, but I don't know that I'll get to take (m)any pictures. Ian has an interview, and I'm sure I'll be working outside. As I first reported here, Ian and I are gearing up for something MAJOR. I don't want to say anything publicly and jinx us, but things are really looking up. If this comes into fruition, it will truly be a life changing experience for the both of us.

...and no, we're not expecting a baby.

Anyway, I just wanted to share a bit of our happiness. Living in such a big city (yes, I know Columbia isn't like NYC) can really erode your love for your fellow man. Being around family like we were this weekend, and having people be so excited for's just so refreshing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Introducing our Kodak DuaFlex IV

Kodak DuaFlex IV
So this is our newest camera, the Kodak DuaFlex IV. We haven't had any of the film developed yet, and all of the film we're using is technically expired, so it's all going to be one huge, fun experiment!

This camera takes 620 film, and yes, I know what you're saying...

But Ashlie...they don't make 620 film anymore!
I know, but it can be had. If you loved me, you'd go to B&H and buy me a roll or two!

But why don't you just use 120 film?
Well, that's certainly a possibility, but again, this is all new, and Ian and I both want to take it slow. Plus, I'm not terribly keen on the idea of fumbling around in the dark in attempt to respool film from one spool to the next just to get 120 to work.

So why *this* camera?
Ian and I found a DuaFlex II in a local antique mall. It was $20 and it looked like it was missing a part. I instantly fell head over heels in love with it, and left determined to see a) if $20 was a good deal, b) what, if anything was missing off that camera, and c) will it work? That is, do they still make film for it?
I have to admit I was a little sad to find out that these cameras were selling for as little as $5 on ebay, because even as broke as we are, I would've put down my last $20 to have that DuaFlex II (priorities, anyone?). The more Ian researched these cameras, the more he fell in love. He did all the research and found the camera we ended up getting off of ebay. We've decided to share the camera since it's something we're both very interested in.

Anyway, I'll keep you updated with what's going on. I'm going to call tomorrow and see how much it'll cost to get our film developed. Thankfully, we have a great mom & pop (weird saying that because it's owned by two twentysomething guys) camera shop that develops this type of film.

All my best,

Ian's birthday burgers

Ian's birthday was in the first week of May. I got him some nice tickets to see Tony Bennett, but since that concert isn't until June 10th, I wanted to do something special.

I knew Earth Fare had some yummy sounding burgers in their meat case, but we'd never had a chance to try them. So for Ian's birthday dinner I went to Earth Fare with every intention on buying two black (Angus) and bleu (cheese)  burgers, and a sweet potato to make baked sweet potato fries (or chips, as Ian calls them).

However, my inner impulse shopper got the best of me. As the man at the meat counter helped me [and I must say he was incredibly friendly and knowledgeable], I eyed two other burger options I wanted to try. The first was a feta cheese, spinach, and turkey...boy did it look tempting! But out of the corner of my eye I spotted the gouda bison burgers. Then I asked myself, "Ok. We eat spinach all the time. When will we ever get the nerve to try bison?"

I ended up buying two black and bleus and two bison burgers. We ate the bison burgers for Ian's birthday dinner. I must say that the meat counter man was correct in that the bison burgers really need no condiments. They're good just as they are. We topped our burgers with some Rudi's whole wheat buns, and the meal was fantastic.

The following night Ian cooked the black & bleu burgers, and filmed it. He's going to enter the video in Earth Fare's "my decade, my health, my journey" contest. In the video he shows what an amazing meal you can make for less than you'd spend on a nasty, chemical-filled value meal. Let's goad him into posting it here! Leave a comment or tweet him @iconway and hopefully he'll post it!

More later.

Back again!

F-16 and P-51 Mustang
Hi folks,
I'm back again. Life's been getting in the way of taking pictures and posting them. I've been considering redoing this blog to make it fit more of my life, and be less about selling photography. I've found that if people want your photography, they'll just email you, which works for me!

I've posted here a picture from ShawFest 2010. It was a fantastic show at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, SC. I have more pictures to upload, but I haven't had the chance to upload them.

I also got another camera, but I'll save that for another post...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bunny Biscuit

So here's the picture of one of the biscuits I made this past weekend. Somehow, this one biscuit looks like I made a bunny out of the dough!

Monday, April 19, 2010


Howdy friends,

Just wanted to apologize for our extended absence. We've had a death in the family and have been traveling back and forth to Tennessee quite a bit. Things will be tentative with us for the next few weeks, but if things work out as we hope, we'll have some MAJOR news by the end of the year.

In the meantime, I made biscuits this weekend, and one looked like I'd shaped a bunny out of the dough and placed on top. I'll post a picture asap.

Thanks for hanging in there with us,

ashlie & ian

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Holy Cow, Ian is making another post!

How about one of my family's best kept secrets- Tomato Gravy...

I haven't had this side in at least 5 years.  I felt it was time for my taste buds to see what it tastes like after an extended vacation from this southern gravy.

Here's my recipe:
1/4 cup of flour
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
Salt and Pepper

Start some oil in a pan and get it hot.  Throw in some flour and start browning it.  You want the flour-oil ratio at the point where it makes a wet paste.  If you get it too dry, it will not mix well in the gravy and leave small white balls in the finished product.

After you've got the flour browning, wisk in some water, enough to make it a nice gravy consistency.  Make sure to mix it well.  Add in some salt and pepper and a can of diced tomatoes.  Continue to mix.  Bring to a boil and then remove from hot stove.

Enjoy on a made-from-scratch biscuit or toast!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Meals back home

Well, we got some bad news about my Granddad, so we traveled to Tennessee to be with family. My Dad's Dad is in bad health, and knowing how much my Dad appreciates my cooking, I figured just being home and cooking some meals for my parents would be a nice thing to do. We took our EatingWell 500 Calorie Dinners cookbook and made a few meals out of it.

First up was the "Proven├žal style edamame saute." We served it with a side of quinoa. It was so good that we managed to eat it all before we could snap a picture of it. The recipe called for frozen artichokes, which we couldn't find. I bought two fresh ones instead, not thinking to look for canned ones. Let's just say that in cooking the recipe, we ALL learned a lot about how not to cook artichokes! We also learned that Tennessee grocery stores don't sell wine. That seems pretty idiotic to me, since more people cook with wine than beer, but I digress...

Next up was "charred tomato, chicken, and broccoli salad." I added a side of brown rice with a squeeze of lime. This recipe was a bigger hit with Mom and Dad. Thankfully Mom took over the charring of the tomatoes- I'm woefully inept at frying, apparently. And speaking of charring tomatoes, Mom and I were both shocked and the different aromas (and flavors) brought out by charring. At one point the charred tomatoes had the house smelling like baking sweet potatoes. It was incredible.

This recipe would definitely be just fantastic in the dog days of summer. 

Ian make breakfast for dinner one night, but you probably guessed that from his prior post.

After all the visiting and such, we were all pretty tired and stressed, so I decided to make a humongous dessert. I don't feel too bad in saying that I'm known for my desserts, so when I found a yummy looking trifle recipe in a magazine given to me by my Mammaw (my Mom's Mom), I knew I had to make it! I'd never made a trifle before, and didn't even have a trifle bowl there. I substituted a large punch bowl, and it worked just as well!

The recipe comes from the April/May 2010 issue of Taste of Home magazine. Hope I don't get in too much trouble for posting it, but it's too good not to share! I made some edits to the recipe when I made it and it was still so sweet that it almost made us sick. I've included my edits and suggestions below.

Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle
Yields 20 one cup servings
1 fudge brownie mix (13" x 9" pan size) [I used two 8" x 8" brownie mixes that included peanut butter cups.]
1 pkg. (10 oz.) peanut butter chips [I did not include these because of the brownie mix I used.]
2 pkg. (13 oz. each) miniature peanut butter cups [I only used one bag, but it was probably more than 13 oz.]
4 cups cold 2% milk
2 pkg. (5.1 oz. each) instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup creamy peanut butter
4 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cartons (8 oz. each) frozen whipped topping, thawed

Prepare brownies according to package directions; stir in chips. Bake in a greased 13" x 9" pan at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs (do not overbake). Cool on a wire rack; cut into 3/4" pieces [I just ended up crumbling].

Cut peanut butter cups in half [I would do quarters instead]; set aside 1/3 cup for garnish. In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mixes for two minutes. Let stand for two minutes or until soft-set. Add peanut butter and vanilla; mix well. Fold in 1-1/2 cartons of whipped topping.

Place 1/3 of the brownies in your trifle [punch] bowl; top with 1/3 of the peanut butter cups. Spoon 1/3 of the pudding mixture over the top. Repeat twice [or until you run out of ingredients!]. Cover with remaining whipped topping; garnish with reserved peanut butter cups [but don't garnish with WHOLE peanut butter cups like I did- that seemed to irritate everyone]. Refrigerate until chilled [or in the case of my family, consume as soon as assembled].

If you try this recipe, I'd love to hear your comments on how you modified it.