Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I Want to Ride My Bicycle

I've been trying to win a bicycle from New Belgium Brewing for quite some time now. They are giving away a fat tire cruiser a day... yes, you heard me correctly. They are giving away one bike per day! I have been entering just about every single day to try and win this amazing custom bike... with no luck as of yet.

Maybe my desire to have a sweet cruiser bike some day is fueled by my memories of watching Pee Wee's Big Adventure as a child... man that bike was cool!

I already have a bike, but it's a mountain bike equipped with clipless pedals... so it's not always the most convenient to just hop on and go for a cruise. Not to mention, I just love the simplicity of a one speed cruiser bike. To top it off.... the bike that NBB is giving away has a little rack on the front conveniently sized to carry a six pack. How is that for ingenuity?! Yeah. That bike just screams "Ashley!", so cross your fingers for me.

Tryin to catch me "ridin dirty"

Plus... I just sort of feel like a bad arse on a one speed. Takes me back to my childhood days of riding around the driveway at my friends' house with crushed beer cans on our tires so our bikes sounded like motorcycles. Don't worry, we didn't drink the beer when we were that young... those cans came from our parents. We weren't that crazy as youngsters.... but we were pretty inventive!

If you want to try and win this bike (you have to live in a state where NBB distributes... sorry to my Michiganders) enter on their website. But if you win it, please can I take it for a spin? I promise not to wreck it! Thanks.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bathroom Transformation

I am obsessed with the beach! Yeah, ob-sess-ed. My favorite blogs typically have something to do with the sea... whether it be design related to the sea, blogs about people who live near the water, or how to live a more simple life that's sea-inspired. I love it all.

Just a couple days ago I slathered some white painted on a floating shelf we have in the bathroom and the frame on a piece of wall art. Too bad I did not do a better job documenting that transformation, because it was a lot of fun changing something old into something new! It's looking much more like a beach in our bathroom with each passing day. I also made a visit to Home Goods (if you haven't been there yet, you might want to try and make time for a trip there... it's got lots of great deals) and purchased some cheap towels that reflect the colors of the beach. We're talking white, turquoise, and gray colors! Mmmmm. I can hear waves crashing just thinking about spending time in our sea-inspired bathroom now.   :)

This was the rather unattractive before picture of the framed wall art that was on the bathroom wall:
My architecture supplies and x-acto knife wielding skills really come in handy when changing things around our place   :)   (who said that my architecture degree is useless... oh wait, that was me... well, it's not useless... see!)

After dissecting the pieces, I painted the ugly golden brown frame a calming whitewashed beachy white:
* You can see the insides/guts of the frame to the right of this picture. I covered the "pretty" red color with turquoise scrapbook paper! Much better. *

* The result is much nicer than the funky red and gold thing that was there before! Loving the beach theme... and sorry for the lack of quality pics. The floating shelf below this wall art is also white now. *

Here's a few pics of some more beach inspired bathroom goodies:

(don't mind the brown washcloth...
I'm slowing weeding that color out of the bathroom)

* I love the seaglass-looking color of the soap dispenser, 
I've had that since college and still love it *

Now the good thing is that we have a much more soothing bathroom, but the bad thing is that I want to browse all of our belongings for more things to paint and transform....

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Library is Free?!

Who likes free stuff? I know I do.  :)

I went to the Denver Public Library today. This was an assignment from my travel writing workshop instructor. Not to visit the library... but to go somewhere we had not been before. I had been inside the lobby once, but I actually perused some of the other floors this time. Holy cow, do they have a lot to offer! The great thing about the library is that it's all free! (That is unless you are notorious for returning things late, then it costs you something... depending on how late you are) I cannot think of a better deal then visiting your local library and getting a library card.

* Denver Public Library *

Nate and I move in a month to a different area in metro Denver, and we're looking forward to being down the street from a library. I'm thinking we'll get a library card and cancel Netflix... because... get this... you can get dvds at the library and check out 5 at a time! (ssshhh, don't tell anyone!) Yes... I said 5 dvds at once. Not to mention I cannot pick up my movies from Netflix via bicycle, but I can ride up the street and get books and movies at the library. Cool! The library seems like a resource that people forget about these days. I still love to have a book in my hands, because the internet cannot replace everything. :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Blog Absence

I have not written a blog for a little over a week. So if anyone reads this regularly and was wondering where I went, I'm still here. Things have been a bit stressful with our apartment searching and financial auditing (aka figuring out how to try and get out of debt) taking up lots of time. I had some idea it would be difficult to find a place to live for the amount we'd like to spend... but I did not expect it to be near impossible. When you are picky like me, and you don't really like the smell of cigarette smoke lingering in the paint on walls or the smell of cat piss carpet, then it really makes the search that much more difficult. Anyhow, we may have figured out where our next apartment will be... it's just a matter of one major thing that's bothering us about the place. That would be where to park our vehicles. It comes with one garage space, but that leaves Nate to fend for himself and jockey with neighbors for the few "open" parking spaces that are near the apartment we chose. Great. So now that I've gotten our "sob story" out of the way, I'd like to talk a little about a writing class that I went to yesterday. :)

I like to learn. (That was dorky, and I don't care.) Recently I decided to get over a little fear of putting myself out there, and I signed up for a membership at a writing workshop and also signed up for a workshop to learn more about travel writing! Yay. If you know me, I love travel... and well... I also love to learn. I also stink at putting myself out there sometimes. A writing workshop about travel writing was the perfect cure! Yesterday we did introductions, some free writing, and I even made everyone laugh out loud with my description of our "neighborhood". I put neighborhood in quotations because we don't have much of one where we live. Apparently when I described the "tan guy", as Nate and I appropriately named him, as the guy at the pool with his "trunks hiked up around his man parts" others found that as silly as I do. I guess that reading Bill Bryson has maybe taught me a thing or two? That brings me to my next thought. We talked a little bit about how you don't want to be too self indulgent when writing, because then your readers lose interest if they cannot relate and put themselves in your shoes. Oh to learn that perfect balance between self-indulgence and creating a sense of place for readers. Isn't balance that elusive idea in life that seems like it should be easy but is often just the opposite. I hope I don't bore you and if I get too self indulgent please let me know. My only wish is to share travels and observations with you, and my goal is most definitely not to indulge. Although I'm sure we're all guilty of that once in a while, right? :)

As for my blog absence, I'm sorry to anyone who's truly interested in what I write. I will try and be better. Maybe this writing workshop will inspire me to be a better writer and to write more often. I never used to like writing very much, but I find it to be a nice creative outlet and way to express yourself. Fun I guess. Fun to you? I'm not sure yet. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Simple In a Complex World

Living a simple life; what does that mean? I would like to think, among so many other things, that it means joyful living, a laid back pace, and narrowing life down to necessities. Society today inundates us with choices, options, technologies, upgrades, and luxuries. But often these things take away from living a more simple life. We live in a complex world, and simplicity sometimes becomes near impossible. Technologies and conveniences, made to enhance our lives, actually make life more difficult at times. Living a simple life is not necessarily easy.

The man made city next to the sea... a nice balance of simple and complex? Maybe.

We make choices in life that may contribute to living simply. Small town life allows people to live with less, unlike so many big cities in our country. Choices that you make in life, like where to live for example, can make the search for simplicity and inner peace a little easier. In her book Gift From the Sea, Ann Morrow Lindbergh says, "... certain modes of life, certain rules of conduct are more conducive to inner and outer harmony than others. There are, in fact, certain roads that one may follow. Simplification of life is one of them." However, simple is not always easy. Do you ever notice, when traveling to a beach or island destination, plenty of smiling faces and few frowns? The plentiful sun and water are not the reason for happiness (although sunshine does not hurt), it's the lifestyle people choose to live. You can live any lifestyle you choose, and location can help or hinder your path to a more simple and peaceful life.

Oh the wonders of the sea. That horseshoe crab carries its life on its back... what a simple way to live.

Cities add complexity to an already busy world. Now people are faced with a multitude of choices and methods for distraction and entertainment. Unfortunately, there are not more hours in a day when living in a city. Although, I think there should be. Commuting, traffic jams, work, meetings, restaurants, bars, parties... they are a few things that take away precious hours of each day. Instead of prioritizing time to read a book or share coffee with a friend, people must partake in the rat race of life in a busy city. One must survive amongst so many others who are trying to survive too. People forget to slow down for a minute and share a conversation with the person next to them. Were there more hours in a day while growing up in a small town, or what that just me? Busyness and stress make way for breakdowns and illness. Do people live simple lives in the city? I bet they do, it's just more work and effort to avoid the distractions and stress of busy city life. We have the choice to live in a complicated environment, but we have the ability to choose a more simple life no matter where we live.

If I could ride a bike everywhere I would... do what you love, love what you do.

Living a simple life is possible, but made increasingly difficult by so many outside influences from society and culture today. We all have a choice when it comes to our lifestyle. Striving to live simply may not be easy, but it sure is possible.

The choice is yours. Do you want to live a more simple life?
yes [  ]       no [  ]

Friday, August 6, 2010

Failing to Fail

The funny thing about failure is that you need to try in order to fail. If you don't at least attempt something, then you can't fail. If you don't allow yourself to fail, then learning is impossible.

As funny as it seems, I have always been afraid of failure. (But I love to learn) This coming from the valedictorian of her class. Seriously though, attempting and failing does not come naturally for me. It seems like some people have perfected the art of failing and learning. They'll try anything once, and if they fail then no big deal, because at least they learned something and their ego feels fine. Me however, I very strongly dislike the idea of failing. Maybe if I learned to look at failure as a good thing, then it would not seem so horrible to fail at something. Accepting that failure will happen... over and over... and over, and allowing failure would really help me learn more about myself and my capabilities. Failure should be welcomed not pushed to the rear. Bring it on failure!

Don't these muscles intimidate you?! Bring it on, failure. You can't scare me.

The face of success is never the same. It might be wealthy and privileged, or it might be unfortunate but determined. Success could have blond hair or no hair at all. Success might be 6 foot tall, but it might be four feet tall too. The common factor in many success stories is a dream. When people have a dream, then they have hope, and when they have hope... they get fired up to act on their dream. Can your goals ever be too high? Are you constantly setting yourself up for failure? If you don't try for your dreams, then you can't fail... so maybe setting the highest dreams of all are fine as long as you at least try for them. The key word is try! The face of success is trial and error. Who wants it badly enough? Learn to try, fail, and hopefully succeed at reaching your goals. Maybe the winner is the person who attempts every single goal they have ever dreamt. What would happen if you brought every single dream you've ever had into reality? Every person, no matter their size, shape, or color, has the capability to fail or succeed at their attempts. Just a thought.

But do you have to flat out set yourself up for failure just for the sake of learning? Maybe. What's the worst that could happen? You might get that job that you never thought would be the "perfect fit". You might just discover a new passion. Attempting and failing, or who knows... maybe even succeeding, would be the worst two things that could happen. Learning to accept that one of those two things will happen is the difference between trying or not trying at all. Learn to fail! It can't be that bad, right? Failing to fail is the worst thing that could happen. Something good will come of all attempts at your goals. Go for it! Learn something new today.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


So we are not actually without a television. We have two of them, but we no longer have satellite programming. I now predict less television watching in our future. Satellite was cut out of the budget to save a little money each month. Funny how it happened...

I mean... I would rather spend my time scrubbing our kitchen floor than watching television any day... wouldn't you?

Apparently, the satellite receiver/dish had stopped working, but I was not aware of this issue since I had not turned on the TV in days. Television is not where I spend my free time, it's here... writing blogs and researching "stuff". Meanwhile, Nate was on a short trip for work and was not aware of this satellite dilemma, so he turned on the television when he got home to find the satellite in upheaval. Imagine his confusion when I had no idea of this little problem. To top off our (Nate's) annoyance of the satellite's failure, our provider (whose name rhymes with Fish Fretwork) was going to charge us a fee for their repair people to fix it. That made us unhappy, so we decided to stick it to the man. Aka... we cancelled our service. Ha! Take that "Fish Fretwork".

This is the face I got when suggesting that we cancel satellite television. Sorry honey.

For now we're attempting to enjoy a more simple life full of antenna channels and home cooked meals. We both grew up with antenna channels, so it's really nothing new. Although, it is sort of new... because we actually get about 40 channels over our fancy pants "flat" antenna. Half of the channels we get just might be in Spanish, but I see this as an opportunity to brush up (aka re-learn) my Spanish speaking skills! Nate and I both remember, as children, getting maybe 5 channels over the antenna, and with our futuristic antenna I don't even have to go outside and rotate the antenna to try and pick up ABC any more... so take that satellite television! Nanana boo boo.

I can only imagine this is like weening a child off of a bottle. Hopefully this lack of channels does not hurt for very long. I do believe that it hurts Nate more than it hurts me. However, college football season this fall will be a trial, because if I'm "forced" each weekend to make a trip to LoDo's sports bar to watch Michigan play football... buying beer and breakfast burritos just might end up costing what we spend each month on cable/satellite anyway. I would rather spend our money on beer and burritos than satellite any day, but I'll have to take that one up with Nate. Hmmm... this could be interesting. So for now, we're saving some money and watching less television. Let's see how long this lasts. Wish us luck! :)

They could be the death of our satellite/cable rebellion. Only time will tell!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I Am Not My Degree

Isn't it funny how you're supposed to go to college after high school so you can "better your life" (whatever that means) and have more opportunities, but the current economy is not a great place for some people with a degree who can only find jobs in the retail or food industry right now? So in all reality, you go to college, accumulate debt because your parents did not have money to put you through school, graduate college, cannot find jobs you're "qualified for", and consequently can barely pay the bills that you possess for attempting to "better your life". Funny how it works.

Degrees should not be the only thing that gets you a job, but unfortunately many jobs list a certain degree as a requirement for a job. So are you telling me that with my architecture degree I may not be able to teach history to middle school students or that someone with a marketing degree may not find an architecture job, and that person who never graduated high school will not find a job ever? No way! I just cannot believe that's how it works. But how do you market yourself to people who are looking for a candidate that fits this image of someone they believe is perfect for the job? Are employers discouraging people by suggesting that they messed up in college and chose the wrong major? I seriously find it hard to believe that my architecture degree limits me just to working in an architecture firm and drafting for the rest of my life. But what then? Maybe some degrees are more limited than others, and people should choose certain majors in order to increase their opportunities upon graduation. Apparently I limited myself by choosing architecture as a major, at least that's how it feels when employers see an architecture degree on my resume. I am so much more than a degree in architecture!

I love to analyze and think... sometimes to a fault. Drawing, writing, creating, and making things are my passions. I love to help others, and I especially love to laugh and make others laugh. I graduated as the valedictorian of my class in high school, and struggled my way through college. My favorite classes in high school were chemistry and art (what a combo). In college, my favorite classes were archaeology and anthropology. Learning is something in my life that I hope to never stop doing. I really do not want to work for someone who does not value learning and growing in work and in life. I would love to learn how to play the guitar some day, and I wish I had never stopped playing the saxophone. Music soothes my soul. One of my favorite jobs that I've ever had was working retail at the mall during college. People amaze and interest me. Another favorite job of mine was painting houses during a summer off of college. Art is a great way of expressing yourself and relaxing. If I could go back to college I would probably attend art school. I would love to learn to sew, and I also want to learn photography. I have an eye for details, and I might be borderline OCD about some things. I like to call it perfectionism. Maybe art is my way of knowing what I want and making it come to life. I always strive to do my best, which is probably what ticks me off when I feel like I'm being held back. One thing I used to be great at is stubbornness. I love to read books, think, and explore. If I could find a way to make a living out of traveling, I would. There are so many things I love and want to do in life. How do you choose just one?

I do not believe that all of the above things point directly to architecture, but what then? I am so much more than a degree in architecture. Why limit me to certain jobs? I don't know anyone who graduated college that was perfectly prepared for their first job. So many people learn by trial and error, real life experience, and on the job learning. Why ask for a degree in marketing when you really need someone who is attentive and good with analyzing? That could be anyone. A job posting, that asks for a degree in art, might want someone who has an eye for proportion and design, but someone with a degree in English could be that person. Who knows, unless they try/are allowed to try. Unless employers start looking outside of just a degree, they may never find their "perfect" employee. If degree holders never look outside of their degree, then they may never find the "perfect" job for them. Where does it start? Will employers take job seekers that don't fit their mold exactly? Will job seekers look for jobs that may not be in their comfort zone? Maybe it's a combination of the two that must occur for opportunities to exist. People are so much more than their degrees.

When I was younger people always said that you can be whatever you want to be, but that doesn't seem as true today as it did then. Either that or I still don't know what I want to be yet. (which is highly likely) Not to mention, it seems very difficult to be what you want when so many things you want to be cost money. I've always heard that it takes money to make money, and we don't have a lot of money right now. How do you start your own business? How do I start a business without money? So many questions and not enough answers. One answer I do know is... I am more than my architecture degree.

"Life is too short to be unhappy"