3-2-1-DONE!

It’s official, as of March 4th, I’m 30, yikes/yay!?
Still working out my feelings on this…

I absolutely loved the idea of my 30 Before 30 List, I really tried to hold myself accountable for the things  I wanted to accomplish – many of which were things I’d been meaning to try, see or do. 

I’ve knocked a lot off my bucket list of things to do and still have a few more to tackle.
Here’s a quick recap of what I’ve done (and not yet posted) and where I’ve left off.

Keep Calm & Bake On

I challenged myself with baking 10 new cupcake recipes. This was really so I could put all my Sweet Tooth & Cupcake pinning to work. Luckily for my birthday last year my in-laws gifted me a Kitchen Aid Mixer. I added a little inspiration and the rest is history.

I didn’t limit myself to just cupcakes – I baked anything and everything. Some were great, some not so great.

Check out a few of my favs for this past year (including a few recipes & pics):

Margarita Cupcakes

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes

 Cupcake Cones for Jason’s Birthday

Lemonade Cupcakes for Dizzle’s Birthday

 Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Cookie Dough Cupcakes

Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes (as mentioned in my Dinner Party post)

Oreo Pudding Poke Cake

Easy Cake Cookies

Happy Birthday To Me – Party Like It’s 1984!

As promised, I threw myself a big birthday party (dance party) with my nearest and dearest family and friends. We brought it back to where it all started, the 80s!

Everyone made an appearance – My Little Pony, Rainbow Bright, Pac Man, Ninja Turtles and More!

Thank you to everyone who made my birthday special!

Next up, I’ll be making a photo book of my birthday celebration and all my completed items and the few I’m sneaking in ASAP (below)

Re-Read Harry Potter – Harry I have missed you, at the top of my list.

Try Stand Up Paddle Boarding – I waited too long to tackle this one, so the first chance at warm weather I’m itching to get this item crossed off my list

 Take A Photography Class – a couple of classes fell through, looking at one in DC for April

 Walk The Entire National Mall  & Play DC Tourist for the Day– again, waiting on that warm weather. Anyone want to join?

Run Warrior Dash – unfortunately, couldn’t make the race but I’m registered for my next Half Marathon on May 31st – Zooma Series in Annapolis! Looking to add in a 10K for training too.

Take A Hot Air Balloon – I have hinted a dozen times to my husband about this – will be making this happen whether he likes it or not 🙂

Conquer my to-do list of DIY projects around the house – I’ve learned this is never ending – we have conquered quite a bit of painting and various projects unfortunately this one is always evolving.

Read A Classic – I’m currently reading Little Woman, should be finished in the next couple of weeks.

Watch Gone With The Wind – the movie is my possession and anxiously waiting to be watched. Setting a date with my mom and some wine so we can watch it together. She is the reason I put this on my list.

Cook A Gourmet Meal Once a Month with my Husband – this one is constantly evolving too and I didn’t monitor all of our efforts very closely. I love the idea of cooking at home and making the time to do it.

Make More “Me” Time – am continuing to make this a focus and forcing myself to relax; it’s a constant battle but practice makes perfect

Spend More Time with my Grandfather – will continue to make time for my grandfather. George rocked it with us as I turned 30 this week, woo!

And last but not least – Take  A Road Trip To Somewhere I’ve Never Been Before – my mom, sister and I are taking a road trip next month to Niagara Falls.

 Cheers to the next 30!

XOXO
Ash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Breakfast for Dinner – My First Dinner Party

Most recently I tackled my Host A Dinner Party challenge over Valentine’s Day weekend. Everyone knows we love to entertain and have hosted birthday parties, happy hours, BBQs, Halloween Costume Parties, the list goes on.  However, we’ve never tackled a true sit-down Dinner Party. I found this more challenging as we’ve always been a  throw the food on the table and serve yourself kind of hosts. We did keep with this motto a little but jazzed it up so we could call it a true dinner party. 

Our party was small;  6 friends joined us in their PJs for some breakfast (for dinner).

We kept everything simple – dressed down table and an easy menu.

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First Course
mini chicken & homemade biscuits (we cheated a little – thank you Chick-Fil-A)
cereal & milk shooters
egg salad on toast
Check it all out here.

Second Course
Egg & Chorizo Casserole
DIY Waffle Bar complete with spreads and toppings.

Third Course
Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes – yum!

What dinner party wouldn’t be a complete without some beverages – insert the Build Your Own Mimosa and Build Your Own Bloody Mary bar we created here.

I had a blast and am already thinking of our next dinner party theme, until then Bon Appetit!

Playing Catch Up…

Almost There…

My birthday is 4 days away, eeek! I can’t decide if I should be excited or mourn the loss of my 20s 🙂
As usual, I’ve been bad about posting my progress but have conquered quite a few more off my list the past couple of months and continue to tackle a few more before D-Day (I mean my 30th birthday).

Random Acts of Kindness

A simple but gratifying goal was to complete a Random Act of Kindness.  I decided to really get into the Christmas spirit and made holiday cards  with Starbucks gift cards to pass out as I best saw fit. Check them out here.

I got my husband in on the fun and we spread some holiday (and coffee) cheer to our mail man, strangers passing by and even our local supermarket clerk. People were surprised but grateful. It was nice to give back and we’ll  definitely be doing it again next Christmas as well as thinking of other ways to spread the kindness throughout the rest of the year! Check out the Random Acts of Kindness Fountain for some fun ideas.

Support Our Troops

Another goal was to send a present to a US solider. Some may think this is easy and a no brainer and it is but I’ve always gotten too busy or forget. This year I held myself accountable and continued with my Christmas spirit. I found the Give 2 The Troops organization  who has supported more than ONE MILLION deployed US Troops with care packages and letters. I assembled a holiday care package  with blank holiday cards for soldiers to send notes homes, candy, snacks and magazines.  I’ll definitely be making this an annual thing.

Ridin’ Solo

Next on my list, go to the movies by myself. I love movies – my husband and I practically live at Redbox and go to the movies whenever we can. Surprisingly, I’ve never gone by myself, I think I always thought it was a little intimidating. I took a personal day at work and decided to run some errands and end my afternoon with a movie – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
I loved going by myself – especially during the middle of the week – the theatre was almost empty and I could enjoy a kid’s combo pack  – complete with popcorn, fruit snacks and dinosaur soda cup –  without judgment! For anyone that has never done this I highly recommend it – it’s a nice way to unwind. And I swear it’s not that scary 🙂

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun….

Can you believe it? Thanksgiving is only 11 days away. Where has the year gone? I guess time flies when you’re having fun. While I haven’t done the best job of documenting my #30before30 list, I have been hard at work crossing them off my list. A quick recap of what I’ve been up to….

Plant A Vegetable Garden

We planted our first veggie garden this Spring! We purchased a pre-built garden box to frame everything in. Perfect size for our tiny backyard. We then planted a little bit of everything – tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeños and habaneros – oh my!
Check out our first pick.

It was fun watching everything grow and super convenient – nothing like running to your back yard to grab a few veggies for lunch or dinner. We definitely learned a thing or two. Next year, we’re going to move the box so that our garden receives optimal sunlight. And less is more – we had a lot crammed into such a small space. We never saw any bell peppers, which I’m pretty sure it was due to lack of sunlight with all of the tomato plants growing on top of them.

However, we did enjoy lots of cherry tomatoes and jalapeños and habaneros. We had so many peppers; we’ve froze  a ton and are now enjoying them in Spicy Chilis and Soups.  Bon Appetit!

 Rock & Roll Half Marathon

We did it!!! 13.1 miles exactly! This is by far my biggest and proudest accomplishment. Woot Woot!
After 3 months of training, with family and friends I ran the Virginia Beach Rock & Roll Half Marathon. This was the longest distance I had ever ran. I play soccer, run occasionally for “fun” and have dabbled in a few 5K Races.  It was awesome to see how far I’d come since starting 3  months prior – at that point I hated even going 3 Miles. And in my training my longest run was 10 miles.

This particular race was a lot fun and I’m glad I chose it for my first half marathon race. Spectators and bands (rock bands, marching bands, jazz bands, you name it) cheered us on the entire way.  The surrounding neighborhoods offered up lively displays of costume themed parties, cold sprinklers, popsicles and blaring music. One house event blasted The Cupid Shuffle at mile marker 11. We contemplated stopping to join other dancing racers but figured it would be too hard to stop running. We decided instead to cheer and offered a few fist pumps while we enjoyed the entertainment

The first 10 miles we’re definitely my best; it was the last 3 that just about killed me though. No matter what I was crossing that finish line though. I crossed the finish line at 2 hours and 43 Minutes. Definitely not the best – but at least I finished! I kept telling myself and my friend, as long as you don’t puke in front of all of these people you will have done an amazing job 🙂

Kudos to my besties, I couldn’t have done it without them!
Our fans were pretty awesome too – we even got shirts made for us.

I’m definitely hooked and am looking to run another Half Marathong in the Spring- Zooma in Annapolis. This is for women only and includes shopping and wine. Let’s be honest, they had me at wine.  My goal: to beat my time.

First Time For Everything

Many of these goals / challenges I set for myself  are a first for me. Goal #18 though was to “Take A Vacation and While There Do Something I’ve Never Done Before”. The Rock & Roll Half Marathon was  quite the experience and vacation. We made a weekend of it, enjoying the beach, concerts on the beach (Daughtry, Smashmouth, Sugar Ray, Third Eye Blind – hello revival of the 90s) and of course a celebratory night out after the race.

We made our way to the 15th Street Amusement Park. There we decided to conquer the Skyscraper. This thing catapulted you 165 feet in the air at 65mph. I’ve always watched these rides but never quite had the guts to try it. Us girls figured we just ran 13.1 (and I’m sure a little liquid courage helped), so of course we could do this!


Horseback Riding

I haven’t been horseback riding since the 5th Grade. Flash forward almost 20 years later, I tried it again and LOVED it. We headed to Marriott Ranch  in Hume, VA for a Fall fun-filled day of horseback riding. We enjoyed a 90 minute guided tour. Take a peak of our ride here, here and here.

We coupled this with a double date with friends and headed over to Barrel Oak Winery. We set up outside on one of their many picnic tables, enjoyed a quick tasting, grabbed a couple bottles of wine and settled in for our homemade picnic. A great ending for the weekend.

 

Weekend Getaway

I killed two birds with one stone. I enjoyed my first Bed & Breakfast Stay.  We headed to Warrenton for an overnight stay at Poplar Springs Inn.

Before making our way to the Inn we enjoyed Old Town Warrenton. Old Town Warrenton has lots of fun shops, great dining and even a Farmer’s Market. We had lunch and some wine at Iron Bridge Wine Company. Definitely recommend this place –if for nothing else than their Lobster Mac & Cheese. Yum!

We then made our way to Marteralla Winery. Delicious wine and quite the view, even if it was a little cold and cloudy.

After an afternoon of wine we checked in at Poplar Springs. The inn was quiet and relaxing. We enoyed Happy Hour at the bar but ended up ordering Dominos in bed for dinner – classy!

 The next morning we decided to check out the surrounding area. We attempted to score some free corn stalks,  picked up some apples from Williams Orchard, and then headed for a Picnic at Skyline Drive! We lucked out as it had just opened a few days before when the Furlough was finally lifted.

Skyline Drive runs 105 miles long through the Blue Ridge Mountain. We enjoyed the scenic tour the mountain stopping to take pictures  along the way. Unfortunately, we didn’t pack a picnic but stopped at one of the food stops along the route. The restaurant had floor to ceiling windows so you could enjoy the mountain views while you grabbed a bite to eat.

…and the list continues. Almost there #30before30!

 

 

 

Hello Nashville!

1) Line Dance in Nashville

I’ve been busy working on checking off things on my list but keep forgetting to share. Here’s to playing catch up…

Over Memorial Day weekend my husband and I along with friends travelled to Nashville, Tennessee for the first time. We’d been talking about going for awhile so we were very excited. I’m not the biggest country fan so everyone was interested to see how I would adapt 🙂

We had a blast eating and drinking our way through Nashville — we honky tonked on Broadway, toured the Ryman, walked Music Row and my favorite –LINE DANCED!

Everyone told us the place for line dancing in Nashville was the Wildhorse Saloon. So we started our evening with some bar hopping down Broadway and made our way over to 2nd Avenue to Wildhorse.

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1-2-Yee Haw!

We grabbed our first round and jumped right in with a big group line dancing session. The instructor cued us through the dance and we even ended with a “YeeHaw!” 

Afterwards, the live music continued and we pushed our way to the front of the dance floor to follow the two instructors. We studied them intensely and fumbled quite a bit (who knew line dancing could be so intricate – this was no Electric Slide!), every time I picked up the moves the song would change and we would be on to another dance.

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All in all we had a blast, we drank, we danced and the boys even got some love from a pink haired bachelorette.

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Next time I may even upgrade my flip flops to cowboy boots!

Checking Off Not One But Two!

11) Try Bikram Yoga
12) Take a Pole Dancing Class

I created my 30 before 30  list and to be quite honest I kind of forgot about it. So despite my slow place, I FINALLY scratched off two of my goals on my list and am re-energized and excited to accomplish more!

I conquered my first Bikram Yoga class. They just opened a brand new studio right up the street from my house: https://www.facebook.com/BikramCentreville

It was 90 minutes of 105 degree heat. For the sake of not embarrassing myself, no photographs were taken but I can ensure you I was drenched in sweat by the end of class.

I play soccer twice a week and I can say this yoga class made me more winded then I feel during a 90 minute soccer game. It was tough but relaxing all at the same time.

 I would definitely recommend it to others and I look forward to dropping in for a class now and again. My husband even said he wants to try it!

 Feeling amped from my Bikram experience, I was convinced on trying a teaser Beginner’s Pole Class at www.nova.aradiafitness.com. I managed to learn a fireman’s spin – and have the bruises to prove it. I’ll be back for more as I’ve registered for the 4 week Beginner’s Session, starting tomorrow! Wish me luck 🙂

 

Ashley’s 30 Before 30

With my 29th Birthday not even a week behind me, I have exactly 359 days to complete my list of things small, big and everything in between. Cheers to all the ladies for making this year count! Here goes nothing…

1) Line Dance in Nashville
2) Bake 10 New Cupcake Recipes
3) Re-read the Harry Potter Series
4) Try Stand Up Paddle Boarding
5) Go to the Movies by Myself
6) Take a Photography Class
7) Walk the Entire National Mall
8) Play DC tourist for a day – open top sightseeing anyone?
9) Host A Dinner Party
10) Plant A Vegetable Garden
11) Try Bikram Yoga
12) Take a Pole Dancing Class
13) Run Warrior Dash
14)  Run the Rock-N-Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach
15) Take A Hot Air Balloon Ride
16) Go Horse Back Riding
17) Picnic at Skyline Drive in the Fall
18) Take a Vacation and while there do something I’ve never done before
19) Conquer My To-Do List of Painting and DIY Projects for Around the House
20) Read A “Classic”
21) Send a Present to a Solider
22) Complete Random Acts of Kindness
23) Stay at a Bed & Breakfast
24) Watch Gone with the Wind
25) Cook a Gourmet Meal 1x/month with my Husband
26) Spend More Time with my Grandfather
27) Take a Road Trip to Somewhere I Have Never Been Before
28) Make More “me” Time and Take Better Care of Myself.
29) Make a Photo Book of all my 30 Before 30 Accomplishments
30) Celebrate the Big 3-0 with Family and Friends!