The Big 1 (And Coping with Failure)

Today’s the big day…Have Heart’s 1st birthday!!! I cannot believe I’ve been writing this blog for a whole year now.  Admittedly, there were stretches of time where I did not post as often as I would have liked, but I think I’ve finally gotten my stride and I could not be more excited to see what another year of blogging brings!  A huge THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to anyone who has stumbled across this blog, or even lingered to read a post or two.  I truly appreciate your visits, your likes, and your comments, and I sincerely hope that you stop by again!

Now on to the coping with failure piece of this post.  When I first realized that Have Heart’s birthday fell during school vacation week, I was elated.  I had recently pinned a yummy looking recipe for vegan cupcakes, and I had my first book club meeting on the same day, so naturally I decided to kill three birds with one stone.  I could try out the recipe, take some pretty pictures for this birthday post, and have a sweet treat to bring to book club. I’ve baked things from scratch before, I said.  I have all week to gather my ingredients and bake, I said. You know where this is going, right?

Long story short, everything that could have gone wrong while baking these cupcakes, did.  It took six grocery store stops to find rainbow sprinkles, I realized at the last minute that I didn’t have a muffin tin (nor did any of the area grocery stores…what is up with them?), and my oven wouldn’t hit the temperature I needed.  Not wanting to give up on making these damn cupcakes, I decided to improvise.  I fashioned a muffin tin with a cake pan and baking cups, and readjusted the baking time to compensate for my finicky oven. Problems solved , I thought.  Nah.

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colorful hockey puck or cupcake?

So, the baking cups didn’t hold up, and all of the cupcakes turned into hockey pucks that sort of melted into each other.  When I pulled those bad boys out of the oven, I was very tempted to bawl my eyes out.  I don’t exactly cope well with failure, and all I could focus on was the fact that now I wouldn’t be able to post pictures of lovely vegan baked goods, and that I would have to show up to book club (as a newcomer!) without an offering of sugar.  I was succumbing to my frustration and beating myself up pretty bad, both to myself and via text to T, when he said something that snapped me out of it pretty quickly.

After offering to stop and buy me a muffin tin on his way home, he suggested that I write about my eff-up…and that he bake pretty cupcakes while I went to book club.  Not only did he just win the award for sweetest and most patient boyfriend ever, but he unknowingly reminded me that a stupid batch of ruined cupcakes is HARDLY the end of the world.  I shouldn’t allow a small and admittedly funny mistake tarnish my sense of self-worth as a baker, a blogger, or a human person.  Sometimes, your cupcakes suck and all you can (and should) do is laugh it off, and maybe post some pictures of them so that others can laugh with you.

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Even though my initial plans for this post didn’t turn out as I’d hoped, I decided to share them with you anyway.  None of us are perfect, and I think that it’s important to admit that to ourselves and each other every once and awhile.  And who needs cupcakes at a book club meeting anyway?  I’m sure what everyone will really want is a bottle of wine instead…and it’ll be pretty hard to mess that up.

Do you have any cringe-worthy kitchen stories? I’d love to hear about them (mostly so I don’t feel so alone!) Until next time!

 

 

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She Woke Me Up With a Bang Bang

Finding an amazing hairdresser is similar to finding the perfect apartment…a daunting and impossible task.  Luckily for me, I’ve found an awesome hairdresser who is friendly, welcoming, stylish, and always makes sure I leave the salon looking and feeling like a rockstar (seriously!)

When I booked my appointment awhile back, I wasn’t totally sure what style I wanted to try.  After a lot of Pinterest perusing, I settled on caramel balayage highlights and…bangs!

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Needless to say…I’m obsessed with both the color and the cut.  The last time I had bangs was roughly two years ago.  I had grown tired of them, and was perfectly fine with their absence until a few months ago.  I know it sounds cheesy, but I don’t feel like myself unless I’m rocking some fringe, and I am so glad I decided to take the plunge and chop them again.

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I am beyond happy with my new do, and I have my AMAZING hairstylist to thank for it!  For anyone in the Central Massachusetts area, I highly recommend that you book an appointment with Kerry at Allure Hair Design.  You can find out more about her and the salon here.  She is beyond worth the hour-long trek out of the city (my good friend even travels from Brooklyn, NY to get her hair done by Kerry, if you need any more reassurance).  If you want to visit her for a chop, be sure to call for an appointment well in ahead of time.  Kerry isn’t booked a few months in advance for nothing!

Until next time!

Book Talk: The Secret Life of Bees

Good morning! Today marks my first official day of school vacation (read: intensely needed mental break).  While I had originally planned to sleep in slightly this morning, my body had other ideas.  Needless to say, I’ve been wide awake since 6:20 or so this morning, so I figured I might as well greet the day instead of fighting to stay in bed. I know.

While my plan to do a little bit of nothing isn’t off to the best start, my second school-break plan of getting tons of reading done is going much better.  Just last night I finished The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.

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To dive right in, I loved this book.  Set in mid-1960’s South Carolina, the novel spins the tale of 14-year-old Lily Owens, a young girl living with her harsh and abusive father on their peach farm.  Having lost her mother in a tragic accident ten years prior, Lily’s only true companion is Rosaleen, the fierce and feisty black woman who serves as her nurse and “stand in” mother.

On one fateful day, Rosaleen gravely insults three racist white men in town while trying to register herself to vote for the first time.  Lily spurs into action in order to save her friend and leads them both to Tiburon, South Carolina; the name of a town scrawled on the back of a photograph that once belonged to her mother.  Once there, they are taken in by three eccentric, black, beekeeping sisters named May, June, and August.  Lily is quickly swept into their life of bees, honey, laughter, and wisdom, where she ultimately faces her deepest secret and demon: the memory of her mother.

The Secret Life of Bees is a story of mothers and daughters, the sacred power of women, and the unending power of love.  I devoured this book, and I think every woman (and man) should give it a read.

Up next for me: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari.  What are you reading?! Interested in checking out? I’d love to hear all about it!

Until next time- keep reading!

T and Me

Happy Valentine’s Day!  In the spirit of the day, I thought it would be fun to share a love-themed post with my number one- T!

As many of you already know, T is my boyfriend of almost three years.  We met through a mutual friend at a party, and we’ve been together ever since.  In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’ve both responded to three questions about each other.

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Ashley’s

1) What do you love most about T?

He is hands-down the kindest person I know.  He goes above and beyond for the people he cares about, which I admire so much.  

2) What has your favorite Valentine’s date been?

For our first Valentine’s Day, he took me away for the weekend.  We saw a really funny Valentine’s Day show (the name escapes me, but it featured a comedian going on about the differences between men and women), stayed in a quaint loft-style hotel, and treated ourselves to a bottle of champagne.  It was my first trip away with a boyfriend, and I remember feeling so special.  

3)  What is your favorite memory together so far?

This one is hard to pin down, but if I had to pick it would be the day we moved in together.  It was January 1st of last year (read: freezing) and we spent the majority of the day in and out of Target, Home Depot, and T’s house in New Hampshire, gathering the last of his things and shopping for the odds and ends that you didn’t realize you needed until you’re in a new space.  It was exciting, tiring, and overwhelming, but I remember feeling insanely happy most of all.  After we finally got home and unpacked everything we would need immediately, we collapsed on the couch, ordered Chinese, and drank champagne while watching The Incredibles. 

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T’s

1) What do you love most about Ashley?

Her selflessness.  She is very caring, thoughtful and truly pours her heart and soul into everything she does.  Whether or not it is cooking, this blog, or teaching, I know anything she creates has a little piece of her in it. 

2) What has your favorite Valentine’s date been?

My favorite Valentine’s date is coincidentally the same as Ashley’s.  I really enjoyed traveling around with her, exploring Concord NH (where the show was), then trekking down to Boston to spend a couple more nights at the small apartment we rented for the weekend.  The apartment itself was really nice, and it was just a sneak peek to living together in Boston.  It started to snow a little, and we just walked around to find some nice bars and then just went back and hung out together while the snow fell on the city.

3) What is your favorite memory together so far?

One of my most favorite memories together would have to be our recent trip to explore apple orchards and experience autumn in true New England style.  I’m a car guy, I love driving and tooling around in my car.  Autumn is also my favorite season, so a combination of the woman I love, great weather and my car, I could not be happier.  We got to drive around and spend the day together, take several pictures, find some true New Englandy areas, and we even helped an older woman on the side of the road after she locked herself out of her truck.  I will always remember that day, and driving around in the sun with the best copilot I could ever ask for. 

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What are you doing to celebrate love today? I’d love to hear all about it!

In the meantime, have a very very Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love, T and Me

Ink Story

Today I want to talk ink.  Tattoo ink, specifically.  My love affair with tattoos was born early on in high school after seeing Stranger Than Fiction with some friends.  In the film, Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a fiesty, tax-evading baker who sports a seriously cool sleeve tattoo that I coveted immediately.

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slaying

I was hooked.  I became obsessed with getting a tattoo of my own; something that meant something dear to me, and that I could be proud to wear on my skin, well, forever.  Shortly after my 18th birthday, I found myself in a tattoo parlor, acting as coach and supporter for two close friends who were getting their first tattoos.  I had no intentions of getting one of my own that day, solely because I knew my parents would be less than pleased about it.  I wanted one, of course, and even had a tattoo plan two years in the making, but I was too nervous to go against my parents’ wishes, especially with an escape to college a whole three weeks away.  So, I sat like a good girl in the guest chair, biting back my envy while holding my friends’ hands during their sessions.

While taking a short break, one of the artists looked over at me and asked what I was getting done that day.  When I explained to him that I was there merely to support my friends, he pressed on.  Did I want a tattoo or not? Was I eighteen or not?  I said of course I did, and yes I was, but my parents were against them, and so I was waiting it out for now.  Then, he asked me something that I’ll never forget.

“You’re an adult aren’t you?”

Hell yes I was.  Needless to say, I left the shop that day with ‘have heart’ written across my wrist, and I could not have been happier.  Now, I fully realize that that artist was certainly just out for another customer, but his question dug into my brain and lit up a part of myself I hadn’t met before: an adult, independent Ashley who stood up for what she wanted and went for it.  Even if on that particular day all I wanted was a tattoo, my action marked a new phase of my life, where I called my own shots and I was responsible for my decisions.  I was alive and happy in a new, delicious way that I did not want to end.  I chose the words ‘have heart’ to remind me of how I felt that day, and to never stop chasing that feeling for the rest of my life.

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have heart

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Getting a tattoo was NOT about defying my parents (who are both awesome, and eventually came around to my new ink anyway) or sticking a figurative middle finger up at society.  It was about me, making an intensely personal decision that I had spent forever weighing the pros and cons for, and saying a very literal “f*** it” before doing something for myself that I had wanted for a very long time.  I loved my tattoo from the moment it was finished, and am happy to report that I love it just as much, if not more, seven years later.  I even named this blog after it (if you hadn’t made that connection already)!

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I took the plunge and got my second tattoo, a small elephant on the inside of right ankle, while I was studying abroad in London.  I chose this little guy for a few reasons, which I won’t get into here, but I love him more than I can say.

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Do I have plans to get more tattoos? The short answer: hell yes.  In the meantime, do you have any tattoo stories/ reasons behind your ink? I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time!

Categories Ink