Friday, June 28, 2013

Ask Me Anything!

So I've had a few requests for a Q & A type thing. 

This is your chance to
ask me anything.


Okay, maybe not ANYTHING, but mostly anything. :) 

Here's how it will work:

1. Ask me a question in the comments, on the CWL Facebook page, by emailing me, on Twitter, wherever.

2. I will answer as best as I can in multiple ways - I'm going to do a vlog for things I can answer quickly, I may write full blog posts if it's a heavy question, or I'll email you back if it's super personal and you wouldn't want me discuss it in a public way. But I'm not going to call anyone out or anything, so don't be afraid to ask! 

3. I will be reminding people to ask questions for one week, then I'll do the vlog.

I have been a HORRIBLE, awful, no good, very bad correspondent when it comes to email and such, so this is how I want to get the ball rolling for me to improve on that and to open it up for any and all questions!

Now that things have changed around here I have more time to attend to these things. I also realized yesterday that I've had people's emails sitting in my SPAM section that I had not idea about. Ugh. So I'll go through those questions that I already have received and haven't answered as well!

So, have at it. Whether it's "What's your favorite type of bean?" or "What type of blush do you use?" or  "How did you know Jordan was the one?" all questions are welcome.

Except for "What's your social security number?" 
That's not welcome. :)

And I'll just go ahead and say butterbean.

Ashley

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Blogs You Probably Aren't Reading, But Should!

I've realized that I follow way too many blogs. They're hard to keep up with. I'll pop over to one that I haven't checked in on in a while and notice that I've missed some crazy life circumstance that happened to the blogger. Like if someone switched their blog address, or got a new job, or brought a human being into the world. You know. Little things like that.

But guess what? That's not changing any time soon! I love reading blogs WAY too much to cut back. Usually I read them on my phone using Bloglovin' (the app is so great!) whenever I have a few minutes to spare. I try to "like" them and then go back and comment later when I'm on the computer, but I frequently forget to unfortunately.



The BEST blogs are the ones that I can relate to, that are authentic, that uplift me spiritually, that are encouraging, that share both good and bad, that point me to Jesus, that remind me of what truly matters. And I like ones that make me laugh, too. :)

With that being said, there are some blogs that I love that are not well known yet, but should be. They're mainly my friends whom I know and love in real life, and who are FAR better writers than I'll ever be! So here ya go.


1. Renee at Life More Abundant - I've been friends with Renee since 2nd grade and she's ALWAYS had a way with words. She loves the Lord, loves marriage, and is a huge inspiration to me. Right now she's talking about a spicy topic - sex! (Which I may or may not have had a part in helping her write...but you'll never know...) She also took our 2 year anniversary pictures!

2. Whitney at Whitney Writes - Whitney and Aaron are one of my favorite couples EVER. Their love for the Lord and each other is awesome. He's a children's minister and a hilariously animated person, and Whitney is one of the wittiest people I've ever met. Love following their adventures.

3. Lauren at The Merry Mrs. Mobley - Lauren has ministered to me SO much through her blogging in the past year. She been through some extremely difficult times and has continue to praise and trust the Lord through it all. God is truly using her for His glory.

4. Amanda at The Brandon and Amanda Story - Amanda is one of the cutest pregnant women in the world! I'm so excited for her and this new stage of life. She also loves to stay healthy and fit and definitely inspires me to want to do the same. 

5. Kellie at Just Me - Kellie (that sounds weird to me...she was my teacher) has been impacting my life since 2nd grade, because she taught me 2nd grade! She's one of those amazing teachers who stay in touch with their students and continue to reach out to them 17 years later. :) Her heart for the Lord and joy are contagious. 

6. Bethany at According to His Purpose - This lovely girl shines for the Lord in spite of her recent cancer diagnosis. Along with taking a look at her blog, please take a moment to pray for her and her husband as they are going through this trying time. She's been another one of those ladies who's touched my heart since elementary school. :)

7. Megan at Coffee and Turquoise - This is another girl I grew up with and is absolutely beautiful inside and out. Her blog is about "all things natural and organic". She discusses recipes and making the right food choices - on a budget! 


I could go on, and probably will another time, but I'll stop at seven. I'm thinking about doing posts every once in a while that highlight some of my favorite recent reads. We'll see. Hope y'all had a great Monday! Go check those blogs out! 

Ashley

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Life Update! What's Changed Around Here?

Much has changed recently.

No, no baby yet. I'll just go ahead and clarify that.

But I did make a major change after much prayer and talking with Jordan - 
I quit my full-time job!

Me on my last full day :)

It was nothing against where I was working. I really liked it there and worked with some awesome people. It was a wonderful opportunity for me and I learned SO much. But it was getting to be a little much for us.

I know a lot of other wives have much more demanding jobs than I had, and I applaud them for fulfilling both work and home duties gracefully. But I was NOT being one of those wives. I was waking up at 6:30-6:45 and getting home between 5:45 and 6:15, Monday through Friday. We would try to go to the gym after work pretty regularly so that would put us back at the house around 7:30, or off to whatever activity we had planned for the night (basketball, church, Bible study, etc.). It was not unusual for us to eat dinner around 9:00. 

And dinner? Definitely not anything to look forward to. I've never had so many freezer meals in my life. (Although the ones from Trader Joe's are really good! Like the chicken/shrimp fried rice or orange chicken.) But I was HARDLY making anything myself. I felt triumphant if I even whipped up some spaghetti or meat for tacos. Yeah. 

Little Caesar's became our best pal. You can't beat it for convenience and the $5 price. You walk in and BAM there's a pizza in your hands. Crazy.

Jordan never complained. He would hug me and thank me for "cooking" after I warmed up a frozen bag of chicken strips on the stove. He highly encouraged me and supported me and I am SO grateful for that. He helped with everything around the house constantly. I didn't think I could love him more but he proves me wrong daily. 

The house has stayed consistently messy. I still have boxes to unpack from our move in OCTOBER. Yeah, over half a year ago. Ridiculous.

I would read stuff about the Proverbs 31 woman and honestly want to punch her. Good attitude, huh?
So Jordan and I started praying about me moving on to something part-time rather than full-time. 

Now let me just say that I don't want to sound ungrateful. I am SO THANKFUL God placed me there and provided that job for me. We were able to pay for a car with cash and to buy a house with a good down payment. Praise the Lord! 

It's just time to scale back and be more of a manager of my home. I'm also excited to focus on different areas of my life that have been on the backburner - my Scentsy business, church activities, cleaning, cooking, decorating, counseling at camp, family vacations, BLOGGING - haha. Spending LOTS of quality time with the Lord!

So for now, I'm on a break for the summer. That's why you see me active online so much more. :) I'm loving it! Follow me on Twitter or Instagram @ashleyshellz. And check out The Christian Wife Life on Facebook! Look for lots more blog posts coming up. And maybe some vlogs if I'm feeling ambitious...

Ashley



PS - I love you, Jordan. You are way, way, WAY too good to me.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Meal Planner from May Designs

I have to tell y'all about another product that I'm loving lately from May Designs.

I recently got a Menu Planner from them when they had a 50% off deal going on. I've used it for a couple weeks now and it's been SO helpful.


How cute is that? You get to pick the cover, the box shape for the personalization, what it says (could be your monogram, name, a verse reference, anything!), the font, and colors! And they have SO MANY awesome designs to choose from. I was elated when I saw all of their new fonts. I. Love. Fonts. (Yes, I am a former yearbook nerd.)

You can kinda tell how big it is in my next picture compared to my hand. But then again I also have very small hands, haha. But it's a good size - perfect to throw into my bag or even to put in some sort of binder or notebook. Super light, not too thick. The binding is even sewn by an actual sewing machine, which I love. It will hold up through many weeks of use!

Okay so these pictures are taken with my iPhone, so not the best quality, but here you can see the layout of the Menu Planner.


On one side of the spread are the days of a week listed. You can check that you are staying, going out, or picking up. Then you can put your main dish, and below that you can write your sides. 


On the other side is where you list what you need from the store, or put any notes that you may need to add. 


I LOVE this layout - it's why I decided to get one (apart from the extreme cuteness). I know a lot of people plan meals in their day-to-day planner, but I like to have it separate. It definitely works for me. It includes exactly what I need while keeping it simple. And it's the same on every page. 

May Designs has a lot more than menu planners though - you can personalize all kinds of things like monthly planners, weekly planners, pregnancy diaries, baby diaries, wedding diaries, address books, budget journals,  fitness journals, or just plain notebooks! They also have a line of notes/stationary. 

With personalization and specified pages they are $20 each.

The 50% sale was one day only (after they were on Good Morning America!), but they do run specials now and then. You can follow them on Twitter or Instagram @MayDesigns, or like them on Facebook to be notified of news and deals.

So that's how I'm planning our meals these days! I'm not paid to talk about it or anything, those are just my true, loving feelings about May Designs. :)

But of course I'd take anything they'd wanna send me for free... ;)



Thursday, June 13, 2013

One Line a Day - a Memory Book.

I have to share with y'all something that I've been LOVING for the past few months.

It's called "One Line a Day: A Five Year Memory Book".


I love writing (obviously) but journaling has never been my thing. I would do it for a while but not stick with it. I have a prayer/Bible study journal, but journaling about my life and important events just never really happened.

Then I found this little book and knew that it was made for people like me. I looked at a few different kinds of this type of journal, but One Line a Day was my favorite by far. I loved the layout, the gold pages, the sturdiness of the book, the size, everything.

Here's how it works:
Every day (starting whenever you want) you write a short snippet or highlight about your day. It's not literally one line per day, it's actually five lines, but you can't fit more than a couple complete sentences at most. I told my friends that it's similar to a Tweet's worth of writing. :)

There are five sections to do this on each page, so when your first year is over you are writing in the second section every day. That way you can look back at what you wrote a year before (which I love doing!). It's an awesome way to reflect and praise God for what He is doing or has done in your life! By the time you finish the book, you will have FIVE years worth of memories/highlights. How cool!

Not a great picture, but you can kinda see the layout here.

There's a gold bookmark to keep your place, and a spot to write the year in each section. It's simple.

So simple that I've actually stuck with it for a few months now! It only takes a minute or two every night. 

I wish I would have started this when we got married. Or when I started college. Or high school. Or my entire life, haha.

You can get it on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, and I've even seen the Mom version at Target. (It's pink and says Mom's One Line a Day.)

 I sound like I'm selling this thing, but I'm not, I just LOVE IT. Clearly. Get one.






Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Love Where You Live: Cary, NC.

Right outside of Raleigh, North Carolina,
source
is a town named Cary

(That picture is Raleigh. Not Cary.)

Most people around here joke about Cary being C.A.R.Y. - Centralized Area of Relocated Yankees. I'm serious - everyone knows that acronym. But it hasn't always been known for that...

I was born in 1988 and lived in Cary for the first 14 years of my life. Our little house was in the woods. With a pond. A big garden. A field. I lived across the street from my grandparents and beside my cousins. It was AWESOME.

But the town of Cary started growing. They built a small shopping area called Crossroads, which turned into a HUGE shopping center. For years they talked to my family about expansion, and it finally happened. That house, pond, garden, and field are no longer there. You can drive right through where I used to sleep. It's still strange to me. A patch of my cousins' driveway is still there, and surprisingly my grandparents STILL live in their same house which managed to go untouched.

We moved a few minutes away to Raleigh in a beautiful area. When I graduated high school, I attended North Carolina State University in Raleigh. I met my amazing husband there. We got married in March 2011. Stuck around campus in an apartment for a year and a half. And then bought a house in...

Cary!

So, I'm back! In a different part of Cary than I lived before. (Obviously. That part is dunzo.) And we love it! We wanted to be near Raleigh, but close to our church in Apex since we're the youth leaders. Cary is in the middle. 


Raleigh was named Businessweek's Best City to Live in 2011. So I'm not the only one who loves this place. :)


What I love about living here:
- Beautiful mixture of city and country
- Modern Southern charm
- All four seasons experienced
- Home of the NC State Wolfpack & Carolina Hurricanes (my former employer)
- Only a couple hours away from the beach AND the mountains
- An abundance of trees, greenery, and parks
- Excellent food choices (Chick-Fil-A, Zaxby's, Bojangles, Smithfield's Chicken n Barbeque, Cook-Out, etc. Krispy Kreme started here. I could go on.)
- Close to my side of the family in Raleigh and only an hour away from Jordan's side in Greensboro
- It's clearly the only area I've ever lived in and don't know anything else...haha.


So that's just a LITTLE bit about my town. I'm eager to visit the others in this Influence Network link-up! Thanks for stopping by, y'all! If you visit, look me up!



Some North Carolina pics:

My grandparents' cabin in the mountains of NC (the one with the red roof!)

Wolfpack football game at NC State


Yates Mill Pond right down the road from my parents' house


Raleigh Farmers' Market


The Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh


NC State University


NC is home to some beautiful lighthouses, especially in the Outer Banks.


At the zoo in Asheboro, NC


At our favorite place - the beach!


A view of Pilot Mtn. at Mountain Top Youth Camp


And, yes, we DO get snow almost every year! :) This is our house. 


Ashley

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Family Trip to Topsail Beach!

We had a blast at the beach last week with Jordan's side of the family!

We went to Topsail Beach in NC. Only three days of sun out of seven, but when we weren't outside we were inside playing games and being entertained by my two year old nephew Harvey. :)

Here are all of the kids in our family except one - Jordan's younger brother Joseph. He's in Missouri working at Kids Across America this summer. We definitely missed him and his constant singing!

Me, Jordan, Josh, Danielle, and Harvey, and Anna.

Harvey is at such a fun age. He is talking now and running all over the place! He loves the ocean and jumping over the waves with Papa and Uncle Jordan.


Uncle Jordan worked with Harvey on his construction and engineering skills.


They also chilled together in their beach chairs. 


Jordan got a little crispy, so we welcomed the cloudy days. Could've done without the stormy ones, but oh well.


Beautiful mama with her boy!


Harvey loved building stomping on sandcastles with Uncle Jordan, too.


Love these guys!


Harvey wanted to throw with my precious glove. 


We stayed at the house the entire 7 days with the exception of one night - we went out to a pizza place. This was the night I actually dried my hair and put on makeup. Jordan and I color coordinated by accident. He walked in and said, "Do you want me to change??" and I was like "Nooo, I love it!"



Two batches of homemade ice cream were made and we devoured it. Harvey had a handy dandy holder to catch the drips. He would still say "uh-oh" when it dripped down, though. 


It's amazing how well he can use an iPad/iPhone. He presses the home button, slides to unlock it, swipes back and forth between screens, and scrolls through pictures. He taught himself how to take a selfie which produced no less than 47 pictures of this sweet face on my phone.


Harvey calls Anna, "Annie Ayi". Ayi is the Chinese word for Aunt, and Harvey was born in China. He's gotta remember his roots!


One of the sweetest, most godly couples you will ever meet - my in-laws! So thankful for them!


One of Jordan's bathing suits allows him to be spotted from miles away. 


Clearly our trip revolved around that little 2 year old bundle of energy. But when he lives a 13 hour drive away, we have to soak up every second we can! (Memphis is MUCH closer than China, though.)


I wish we could've stayed longer, but that was my longest vacation since our honeymoon so I was VERY thankful!


Monday, June 10, 2013

Feelin' Hot, Hot, Hot.

When I was little I used to watch a lot of Disney Sing-along tapes. I LOVED them. One of them was Sebastian's Jamboree. 

source: allmovie.com

My favorite song from that tape was "Hot, Hot, Hot". Man I could just jam out to that right now. If only we had a VCR...

Anyway, that tape has nothing to do with this post other than the fact that it is finally starting to get hot around here. Here = Raleigh, NC, if you're wondering. (We may have different definitions of hot, though.)

You know how I love a challenge, right? Well, back in March we decided to see how long we could go without turning on our air conditioning this year. We definitely went longer than I expected! Last night (June 9th) was the first time we turned it on. And it is BARELY on. 

A few things that have helped: 
Our house is very shaded. Lots of trees.
There is a ceiling fan in every room but the dining room. And the bathrooms, obviously. That would be really weird. But kinda nice because it gets SO HOT WHEN I DRY MY HAIR. 
We also use a big box fan when we sleep.
It's been a mild spring.

We could have gone longer, but upstairs was starting to get stuffy. And Jordan (who gets a lot hotter than I do) was waking up at night due to the heat. 

If it sounds like I've made a sacrifice, let me clarify that I definitely haven't most of the time. Jordan has. I am cold natured. He is hot natured. Very cliche, but true. 

The one time that I would get extremely grumpy because of the heat was in the aforementioned situation, drying my hair. My hair takes FOR-EV-ER to dry. Seriously. Ask my hairdresser. And I wait until it's about 75% dry (if time allows) to even start using a hairdryer. And on top of that I would either use the straightener or curling iron as well, and it just made for a very unpleasant temperature. No one likes to sweat right after taking a shower.

But besides that, I haven't minded the lack of A/C at all. So hardcore, I know.

Now I'm off to watch Sebastian on YouTube...


Ashley

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