Self-Love: Girlfriends Needed!!!

Sometimes the only thing that can help a girl out, is her girlfriends. We all need someone to talk to! Someone we can bare our souls to and not be judged for whatever crazy mess we’ve gotten our selves into, or help us get out of whatever funk we might be in. Even as a 33 year old woman, (who no longer gets into crazy situations) I still need my girls. I still need to bounce my crazy ideas off of someone who will say “go for it”.

As someone who moved a lot, my girlfriends don’t live near me anymore, so those Facetime calls are EVERYTHING! But, when we get the chance to all get together, there is something that just rejuvenates and cleanses my soul!

There is no one who knows you like your gal pals (or your dudes, basically I’m talking about your tried and true, down to the bone tribe). There is sure to be laughter, and I truly believe that is the worlds BEST medicine! So when you’re in a funk, when you’re bored, when you feel like your cup isn’t full, or you need some spice in your life, allow me to suggest a girls night in, or out! There is something to be said for getting gussied up and hitting the town, but also something really great about a bottle of wine (or a few bottles of wine, because let’s be honest), and delivery!

You may be like me and sometimes forget you have so many kick ass girlfriends. Let’s face is, we are way too busy adulting. If you just read that and said “girl I hear you”, then this is the sign you need. Grab that phone, call (or text because let’s be real), and plan a night out with your friends. You need this. You deserve this!

X O X O,


Self-Love: Coffee in Bed

I was laying in bed, drinking coffee, when I decided I would dedicate February to the topic of Self-Love. I started thinking of the different ways I rejuvenate myself and many of the ones I thought of were clique. And then I laughed, because here I was, brainstorming my passions as I was doing the ONE thing I do everyday, enjoying coffee in bed.

I am very spoiled, as my partner brings me a coffee every morning! We have a sweet Nespresso so a delicious cup of coffee is always a good idea in our house. I started asking myself why is this tradition so special to me?

  1. I never asked John to make me coffee in bed. One day turned into two, into a month, into a year. Every morning I get a reminder that I am one of the first things he thinks of.
  2. I have an opportunity to wake up, and have “appreciation” be the first emotion I feel. And that is an amazing gift.
  3. I get to game plan my day, with the sun coming through the window, with a delicious coffee, and silence. What person wouldn’t enjoy that?
  4. I get to take reflect on what my life looks like today. I have an amazing home, with an incredible bed!

Not too long ago, I would start my night time routine by ensuring my 1950’s gas stove was off, make sure I couldn’t smell any leaks, I would double check my door, making sure all locks, deadbolts, and chains were locked, and put a chair up against the door. Then I would grab my dowels and put it in my windows, so no one could climb in as I was sleeping. I’d grab my blankets, grab my pillow and fall asleep on the floor of my damp, cold, and not so safe Berkley studio apartment. I used to not have a bed. I used to be afraid to fall asleep. Though, many days, that seems like a lifetime ago, other days I remember those hardwood floors, the doorknob, and how it felt in my hand like it was yesterday.

This routine has brought me so much happiness and appreciation. I know it may sound silly to some, but to me, drinking a coffee in bed might be the single most important part of my day!

X O X O,



February is here, and for many, that signifies the month of LOVE. Showing love to your partner, to your family, and to your friends. I think often times we look to acknowledge and support those around us, that we forget where all that energy actually comes from… WITHIN my friends. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so I challenge you to show YOURSELF some love this month!

Each week I will roll out 1 thing I do to refill my cup. Something I do to ensure that I am centered, present, and ready to love those around me! So stay tuned. I hope you learn something about yourself this month, and if you do, please share. We could all use the support!

X O X O,


A Refreshing Spritz

Transport yourself to the Amalfi Coast as you indulge in a refreshing Italian Spritz. Sometimes, made with Aperol, sometimes made with Campari , this beautiful cocktail is simple to make, light and fresh, and a great excuse to use up that winter citrus. Being in California we are lucky to have access to citrus all year long, so this is a Spring get-together staple in the Cook-Adair household.

What you’ll need:

  • Glass
  • Ice
  • Aperitif (Aperol or Campari)
  • Sparking water (we like orange, lemon, or lime flavored)
  • Champagne
  • An Orange (for squeezing and for garnish)

I like to fill up my glass with ice first. I love a cold beverage, and this helps with my measuring. It’s not precise measurements, its more like “ish”measuring.

I like to put about 2/3 champagne in my glass first. From there, add the Aperol (or Campari), and I’d say to fill your glass 3/4 of the way up!

Then, add your Sparkling water, add a squeeze of fresh orange juice, stir, garnish and ENJOY!

Oh, and here’s a fun tip courtesy of my Grandma Gloria. If you open a bottle of champagne, but aren’t able to finish in one sitting (it’s rare I know, but JUST IN CASE) put a spoon in the champagne upside down and then put it in the fridge. For some reason, this helps keep the bubbles. Don’t ask me why, just trust me, it works! It will work for a few days.

And there you have it. A super easy cocktail, a taste of Italy, and a trick to save to champagne! Enjoy!

X O X O,


Yogurt Parfait

These might be the easiest breakfasts to make. You don’t actually have to “make” anything. Simply assemble and enjoy!

You can make these in advance and put in mason jars for an easy on the go breakfast or snack, make in a truffle dish for a brunch, or make and enjoy like I did with these.

Ingredients: Fresh Strawberries, Frozen Blueberries, Plain Greek Yogurt, Cinnamon, Granola.


Take a wine glass to prepare your parfait

In a separate bowl take your serving of greek yogurt and mix in cinnamon to your liking

Put a dollop of yogurt in the bottom of your glass

Layer with strawberries and blueberries

Put granola over your fruit, then a layer of yogurt!

The process is truly that easy! Yogurt, Fruit, granola, and repeat!

You’d be surprised how filling this little glass of healthy ingredients can be! Even though I made a strawberry and blueberry parfait you can switch out the flavors and get creative. Simply use the equation above and use whatever flavors of granola, fruit, and yogurt you’d like.

If you are going to make in advance, I would omit the granola when assembling the parfait, but leave some room on the top. When you are ready to eat simply add the granola on the top. This way, your granola stays crunchy, and not soggy from hanging out with your yogurt and fruit overnight! But that’s just me. If you don’t mind soggy granola, go for it and throw it in there 😉



Seven Magic Mountains

Driving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas isn’t a horrible drive. But it isn’t an amazing drive either. I mean, who digs the LA traffic? Yeah, that was rhetorical. Once you get out of the city, it’s hot, flat, and dusty. You are going through the desert after all. Yes, the rock formations can be cool, but only for so long right? Because they are rocks.

Well color me surprised when John showed me this Instagram of a particular # with vibrantly colored boulders, stacked on top of each other. Did I want to check it out? Um, yes please. It was on our way, and I had never seen anything like it, and it looked like a pretty good photo op if, you ask me, and we are always down for a roadside photo op.

So, we pulled over and saw a ton of cars in a dirt parking lot, off the side of the road, with these incredible neon, rock formations out in the middle of nowhere. According to Seven Magic Mountains the installation may only be up until the end of 2018, so lucky for us we were able to make the pitstop!

Have you heard of, or seen Seven Magic Mountains? Comment with your photos, I’d love to see them!

X O X O,


Becoming the Santino’s

I am going to start off by saying, I have no personal experience in having a blended family. You hear stories, I have friends who have done it, and I rarely here how great it is. Then I met to Soon-to-Be Santino’s and I SAW it! I almost cried during this session seeing the love between each and every one of them.

From the beginning I was trying to figure out the family dynamic, because as a photographer you want to capture love, and connection, but you also don’t want it to be fabricated. You want it to be honest, raw, and positive. I asked “So are we a cuddly family”? Little Ellie turned towards me, with a huge smile, and secretly, in semi-slow motion brought her hand up to her chest with a huge “thumbs up”. That was the first laugh of many on our shoot.

Barbara is stunning, with a heart of gold, and working with her to set up this shoot was so smooth. She trusted me from the beginning and I will say that makes such a big difference in how the shoot will go. She was referred to me by Brittney and from the moment we connected it was great. I inquired about wardrobe, because let’s face it, it’s a HUGE part of your shoot, and she had it handled. She is going to be the BEST BONUS Mom EVER! The love she has for Ellie and Aiden warmed my heart. And the most beautiful thing about it, is they love her back equally as much. The photos speak for themselves don’t they?

I am going to drop a truth bomb… not all Dad’s are publicly affectionate, or excited for a stranger to take their photo, or vulnerable enough for a stranger to position them and guide them through facial expressions. That’s just a fact. But universe can you bring me all the dad’s like Justin? The way he led his family through the shoot by his example was awesome to watch.

I met the Santino’s on the day of their shoot. They were referred by someone they trusted, and they trusted me. Barbara, Justin, Aiden, and Ellie oozed love, trust, and vulnerability. They didn’t have any walls I needed to break through, they came ready, and excited. Once the shoot wrapped Miss Ellie decided she needed to be the photographer and she guided the rest of us through facial expressions and poses “be silly”, “act dead” (no clue where she got that one haha). We walked back to the car, hugs were given and we went our separate ways. I’ve spoken to Barbara every day since then.

Santino’s THANK YOU! Thank you for your business, your trust, and your friendship. You are creating an incredible family! I wish you nothing but the absolute best, because you deserve nothing less!

X O X O,



Warrior Wednesday’s Episodes 1- 6

Well ladies and gentlemen, that happened! The Facebook Live Series Warrior Wednessday’s has been launched! Episodes 1 through 6 are in the books!

In case you missed the past discussions please find them here!

Episode 1: Self-Care and Self-Love

Episode 3: Comparison: Why do we do it?

Episode 4: The Imperfect Woman Campaign

Episode 5: Pursuing your Passion with Shaun Samuels

Episode 6: Asking for Help: How Doing so Could Change your Life

Comment below any takeaways or questions you may have! It’s a discussion and we all have something to learn from one another! And be sure to tune into next week’s episode where Shaun and I will share our first episode as Cohosts! We can’t wait to have you join the discussion!

X O X O,



Oubre Family- The fastest photoshoot in the History of Ashley Unexpected

I am so happy that my family made time to stop in my beloved Sacramento, on their way from Reno to Santa Rosa on their quick Road trip. Having two little ones make the trek from Texas, to Cali, from Reno to Santa Rosa is not an easy task, but the Oubre family successfully did just that!

Many people see Sacramento as the pit stop on the way to Tahoe. A place to use the restroom, to fill up with gas, stretch your legs, and potentially grab a bite to eat. All of the above are legitimate reasons to stop in Sac. But there are so many more reasons to stay and enjoy this vibrant city. And hopefully one day I can convince them to stay longer, and I will make my family fall in love with Sacramento like I have, one cousin at a time (I successfully converted the Harrower’s AND the Balasek’s).

On the 100+ degree day I had them meet me at Gunther’s Ice Cream Shop right off the freeway for a cold refreshing treat and a lightning fast photoshoot. Last time I saw my cousin Chrissy she didn’t even have her youngest Eli, and Ollie was just about 6 months old. A lot had changed since then so I wanted to commemorate their visit to Sacramento. And strategically planning around the traffic from Reno to Santa Rosa, this was a quick one! It is officially the fastest photoshoot in the history of Ashley Unexpected!

I hope you enjoyed your Ice Cream Pitstop, and I am so glad you made the time and plan to come visit me! Love you all!

X O X O,


Tanning Fail or Bronze Goddess?~Stella Body

I have NEVER spray tanned. Never went to a booth, a bed, or a had someone do it. I grew up on the water, so would get tan if I wanted to, but never had the need, or desire to “fake n bake”. Funny enough, so many people from my town did, but I couldn’t get on board.

That was (embarrassingly enough) 15 years ago and now that I am in my 30’s, the thought of laying out in the sun to get that bronze glow is rather terrifying. The damage that can be done to our skin is crazy, so no thank you. Enter my old friend Leah, she grew up with me, and as life would have it we both ended up moving to the Sacramento area. She is a wizard cosmetologist with the cutest Salon Suite in Rocklin, CA called Stella. She truly is a master of her craft so when she mentioned her newest tanning services, Stella Body, for the first time in my life my interest was piqued.

I had some major fears:

  1. I would look orange
  2. Leah would have to see me naked, or in my bathing suit, and I’d have to do some weird yoga so that I wouldn’t have white creases
  3. I would stain my clothes, or my sheets
  4. It would look fake and I would embarrass myself. Walking around town looking like an orangesicle isn’t ideal.

I was able to voice all of these concerns to Leah and not only did she totally understand those concerns, but she has all the knowledge behind her to ease those fears and put me completely at ease.

  1. Orange is not a thing with the VersaSpa because many times the orange comes from over-application, and using lower-quality ingredients. The Versa Spa uses 3 nozzles and voice commands during the session to ensure there isn’t overspray, and the VersaSpa only uses premium, Eco-Certified ingredients and skin softeners that produce the most beautiful tan while making you look and feel younger.
  2. Leah programs the tanning booth from the next room and my perfect tanning cocktail is then sent to the VersaSpa booth. I am in my own spacious private room, with the VersaSpa directing me during my session and with Leah right next door if I need her.
  3. No stains here! With the VersaSpa there is a drying session, so as soon as you are finished with your session you can confidently get dressed and know that you will not stain your car seat, clothes, or sheets. Thank goodness for that!
  4. I want to support my friend’s business obviously, but she, like myself, is a business owner, so it is very important that the product you put out is one you are proud of. Leah knew that I would give her honest feedback, she also knew I was a very tough critic, and had a negative opinion of spray tanning from the get go!

So, how did it go?

I was surprised! I actually had a lot of knowledge about the process before it even began. Leah took the time to ease my fears, and walk me through everything. And as a backup the VersaSpa literally walks you through the process as it’s happening. There were no funky smells, there was a ton of ventilation, and as soon as I stepped out of the tanning booth I could feel my skin was moisturized, but the tan had set. The tan does take some time to process, but you do see a bit of a difference.

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I didn’t tell my friend Matt that I was getting a tan, so when we met for dinner that night.I was going to see if he had noticed. If he did, he wouldn’t have given me so much crap if it looked bad. Honestly, he would have made so much fun of me. Well… He had no clue. He thought I just was out at the pool and got tan. VICTORY!!!!!

I WILL do it again! Will you give it a try? If you do, tell Leah I sent ya 😉

X O X O,