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,

Ashley

Whole 30 Approved Products

I wanted to share a few of our favorite Whole 30 approved products because it really helped me in a pinch to make sure we had food and didn’t fall off the Whole 30 wagon when I was pressed for time!

Without further ado let’s get to it!

  1. RX Bars– These protein bars are really good, as they only have a few ingredients. Now not all bars are Whole 30 approved but through my research I believe that these ones are : Mixed Berry, Blueberry, Coconut Chocolate, Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Sea Salt
  2. La Croix– You can’t have alcohol, juices, milk etc, ad sometimes water can get boring, so have some amazing La Croix. Put a lime or lemon in it with some ice in a high ball glass and it will feel like you’re having fancy cocktail
  3. Primal Kitchen– Salad dressings have a lot of added junk if you’ve ever taken a look at the ingredients. You can simply throw on some balsamic vinegar, but if that gets boring check out some salad dressings from Primal Kitchen. The Greek is my favorite!
  4. Nutpods– Say bye bye to your Vanilla Lattes, and yummy creamers in your coffee. If you can drink your coffee black, go for it. However, I cannot. You can find NutPods at Whole Foods where the alternative creamers are.
  5. Bullet Brain Octane– This was amazing, so amazing I am still using it. I added this to my coffee every morning and it truly helped me with my productivity. The brain fog that some people experience was nonexistent with me. I’m sure it was a combination of things, but the way I felt was so great, I don’t want to go back! This is now a staple in our house!
  6. Aidell’s Chicken Apple Sausage– Many sausages, deli meats, and bacon have a lot of adde sugar, fillers, and other nasty stuff we don’t want to talk about. But not Aidell! This is a great addition to your eggs in the morning, but also wonderful in a stir fry!

So there you have it! My “Must Have” products to keep me on track, when I lose track of time but don’t want to fall off the wagon!

What are some of your amazing finds on the Whole 30 journey?

X O X O,

Ashley

PS This isn’t sponsored post, but I do use VigLink (a blog monetizing tool) so if anything is purchased through this post I may or may not receive a small commission.

Whole 30- Our Results

Hey guys! I am going to roll out my Whole 30 series starting with my results. Why? Because we want to know if  something will work before we try it.

If you are unfamiliar with Whole 30 be sure to learn about the program here. This site has so much information and is really helpful if you want to take on the challenge of Whole 30.

I have to confess that my results weren’t simply from doing Whole 30. I worked out through out the 30 days so it wasn’t all from healthy eating. With that being said, many people do have success simply by changing the way they eat. Each person is different so you take a pulse with your own body and see if you’d like add working out to your eating program. Whole 30 isn’t necessarily a “lose weight” diet, but losing weight can be a byproduct of changing the way you eat. We did!

I do have pictures, but since I was a high school teacher, I don’t really feel like that would be very appropriate. I mean how horrifying if any former students stumbled upon Miss Cook’s Before and After transformation pictures. I hope you guys can understand.

John lost 10 lbs. I lost 5.8 lbs, and a total of 7.5 inches. John didn’t have much to lose to be honest and like many men, he can simply cut out bread, or alcohol and drop weight. Me, and many women on the other hand, have to work really hard to drop any sort of weight. So when I took my measurements and stepped on the scale I was rather pleased.

Before After Difference
Chest

34

33

-1

Waist

27.5

26.25

-1.25

Hips

35.75

35

-0.75

Butt

39.75

39

-0.75

Right Arm

11

10.75

-0.25

Left Arm

10.5

10.25

-0.25

Right Thigh

23.75

22.5

-1.25

Left Thigh

23

22

-1

Right Calf

14

13.5

-0.5

Left Calf

13.75

13.25

-0.5

Total

233

225.5

-7.5

The fact that I lost 1.25 inches in my waist and right thigh was enough for this program to be worth it for me. I am very happy with the inches lost!

Stay tunes to my must have products, favorite recipes, and tips for success! Have you done Whole 30? What were your successes and where did you find yourself struggling? I’d love to celebrate your accomplishment with you!

X O X O,

Ashley

How to pack for a 5 day Vacay!

Sometimes vacations take a lot of planning, other times, your friend mentions she’s leaving town, so you should stay at her place in Venice Beach for an extended Labor Day weekend. The answer is YES! I’ll do that!

Since this wasn’t a planned or budgeted vacation I was not about to make this more complicated than needed, so checking bags??? Yeah, that’s a big fat NOPE! I was going to pack everything I needed in my one carry on for this impromptu vacation.

*There will be affiliate links throughout this post, so if you wish to do a little shopping to snag some goodies I might make a commission on your purchase, but there is absolutely no added cost to you!

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Travel day outfit!- Nike, Vince, and Zella

A few tips I keep in mind for when I travel, is to stay in the same color palette. This way, you can create a handful of outfits, with just a few items.

Travel outfitNike shoes,Vince Tank, Vince Tee, and Yoga Pants. Call me weird, but when traveling I cannot wear shorts. I have no clue the cleanliness of those plane seats.

We almost always go hiking, go to a nice dinner, and go to the beach, so what does this mean? I need to pack a lot of shoes. To do this I need to make room in the suit case! One side of the carry on for clothes, and the other for shoes! I fold my lighter clothes in the middle of my darker clothes so they don’t get dirty by anything!

Active wear- Adidas Sports bra,Purple Tank,Puma No-Show Socks (so comfy),Brooks Adrenaline GTS Shoes (Really helpful with my alignment and bad knees), Black yoga pants, and Long Sleeve.

Rompers and Jumpers will make packing light a breeze! Bringing a big tote for your Purse is also key to maximizing your packing power! (RomperSandalsToteAlta Fitbit) I like the Alta because it is slim, and you can change the bands to it fits your outfit! We walked so much!

As you can see, I am a fan of Rompers, a neutral palette, having enough space to bring multiple shoes (striped ones are Dr. Scholl’s if you can believe it), and my G-Star Raw Sunnies.

So a recap- Be prepared for any adventure! Pack your light colored clothes in the middle of your darker ones so they don’t get marked up by accident, bring clothes of the same color scheme for easy outfit making, bring rompers or jumpsuits, and bring a tote for your purse.

What is your tried and true packing tip?

X O X O,

Ashley

DIY Car Airconditioning for your Infant

I went and saw my sister, Alena the other weekend to hang out with her and my nephew Jackson. He is sleep training right now, so all hands on deck is always a good idea. I had InstaStoried her car, because it looked out of this world. Literally, it looks like a robot or a spaceship.

My nephew is rear facing and gets so hot in the car! My sister’s car doesn’t have the capability to put any air vents in his direction that his safety is a major concern. Knowing how dangerous this is my sister took action. I ended up doing a DIY tutorial with my sister, which you can watch in the video below.

“When temperatures outside range from 80 degrees to 100 degrees, the temperature inside a car parked in direct sunlight can quickly climb to between 130 to 172.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

​I truly hope that if you have a little one, or know someone that does, please sit in the back seat with that child to see if the air flow is sufficient. If it is not, I encourage you to take action, like my sister did to ensure the safety of your little one.

I have provided a list of  the materials that we mentioned in the DIY video for your convenience and also to the premade air-conditioning system The Noggle.

The Items: Air Duct tubing, scissors, duct tape, hole puncher, and zip-ties. Or you can purchase The Noggle, or the Noggle Bundle here:
The Noggle
The Noggle Bundle

*This is NOT a sponsored post, but does contain Affiliate links. If items are purchased through site I may receive a commission.

The Lost Art of Communication

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The Lost Art of Communication

Coffee, Cohorts, and Conversation

I have a challenge for you, go into a coffeeshop and look around. How many people are on a computer, their phone, or reading a book or the newspaper? I’m going to take a guess here and say about 75-80% Does that sound about right?

It seems these days people are looking down at a screen, they don’t look up and smile at those around them, let alone say “hello”. We are in a constant state of “hurry”, we are more often than not in a rush. And why? So we can work our lives away and forget to experience the life we have? We are letting special moments and connection pass us by without even understanding the blessing we might have recieved if we were just present.

I’m not saying that I feel the sands of time slipping through my fingers. However, I do know that life has become too chaotic, and new priorities are constantly popping up. I haven’t been as mindful as I would like to be. I have moved 6 times in 3 years and have found myself at a loss of connection. Now that I can call Sacramento my home, I wanted to challenge myself, and those around me. Because let’s face it, keeping to yourself is easy, reaching out and asking someone to take time out of their day to talk, isn’t. And I have this major fear that I am semi-awkward in social settings.

Coffeeshops used to be a place to relax, have a good cup of joe, and catch up with your buddies. Now it’s a workplace for most. It’s a change of scenery from the home office, it is an “internet cafe”. And I’m not a fan of the shift. I want to bring it back to the good old days, like Cafe Bacio in my hometown where the old farmers would meet every week. So I decided to ask some people out to a coffee date to talk.

I decided on the original Insight Coffee Roasters on 8th St to set the scene for these “coffee dates”. The decor lends itself to conversation with a beautiful communal banquet table, bar tops, and comfy couches. It’s a quick bike ride from my house, and I am always a fan of supporting local business. I asked three people who intrigue me and whom I’d like to get to know better, for a cup of coffee and conversation.  I was stoked they all said yes!

In the coming weeks you will get to know some Sacramento locals who all have a story. I truly believe that there is so much we can learn from each other. This Coffee Shop Series “The Lost Art of Communication- Coffee, Cohorts, and Conversation” is an exercise in slowing down, listening, and connecting. I hope you will join me on the journey!

Like, Share, Comment!

Is there someone you would like to nominate to grab a cup of joe for part 2?

Xoxo,

Ashley

 

5 Reasons Photographers Need to Get Out From Behind the Camera

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First shoot ever! By Connie Leal

I said it, and I believe it! There are a handful of photographers I have spoken to throughout my career who have never stepped in front of the camera. Yes, pictures have been taken of them, but they have never been a subject or a client. If they are a talented photographer then what does it matter? In my opinion, it matters a LOT! A gifted photographer, Connie Leal, asked to take my picture many many years ago and a modeling contract followed, along with my desire to become a photographer. Having been on both sides of the camera I’ve learned a few things and want to share a few of them with you. So, photographers, put down the camera and start working those angles!

#5- If you expect it, you shall do it.

As a photographer you bank on people paying you for your services. Whether you shoot fine art, capture portraits, or document events you are providing a service and in exchange for that service your get paid, right? How can you expect someone to pay you for your work, if you’re not willing to pay for the same service yourself? I can almost bet that as a photographer you have been asked to work for free at least once. We want to be valued as an artist and as a business person, so let’s spread that karma around and value our fellow artists.

 

#4- It will make you feel amazing!

Have you ever had a reveal and your client is moved to tears? Or once the gallery link has been opened your phone blows up with texts of thanks and praise? That is such an amazing feeling! As a photographer that is a gift we are able to give, we freeze time! Memories are captured and will be shared for lifetimes to come.  But, have you been moved to tears, or blown up a photographers phone with no regard for your data plan? Has seeing a picture of yourself made you say, “wait, what? That’s me” with a smile across your face? You deserve to experience that euphoric feeling that you give to others. You’re worth it!

#3- Communication!

Photography isn’t about ISO, aperture, shutter speeds, golden hour, rule of thirds, and so on and so forth. It’s about communicating with people, and building a rapport so memories can be captured, art can be created, and so that people can build relationships. Being in front of the camera you are the subject and the photographer will guide you into poses and looks. Have you ever had a client that just didn’t understand your direction? Saying the same thing over and over won’t help. So slide into their shoes, and see what works and what didn’t make sense. Does your photographer say, “Move your head this way,” or do they mirror you, gesture, and guide you into the pose? “Bring your chin forward, now tilt your head down, roll your shoulder forward, and weight on your back foot, perfect! Now small smile! Fantastic!” The last statement doesn’t allow the client to think about how uncomfortable they might be, they simply follow directions. And if you’ve experienced getting this direction, you’ll be better at giving this direction.

#2- Actions speak louder than words

Now this one may be a little controversial. I follow a lot of photographers on InstagramFacebookPintrest, and different forums. One thing that I see that makes me cringe is when they say something like “I am a master at ______ an expert at_____, etc. And those ______’s could be “styling”, “posing”, “lighting”, “communicating”, “editing”, you get the idea. Instead of making these declarations, show them. Your portfolio is huge. It shows the work that you’ve done and more often than not will show future clients if your style is a good fit for them. In addition to your portfolio, show them you are a great stylist by coming up with a concept shoot, that you style, (hair, makeup, wardrobe, props, etc), show them you are a master poser by POSING in FRONT of the Camera, not hiding behind it! We have all had those clients that move so well with little direction from us. It’s like a gift from the heaven’s (Hello Gerald)! So show your clients you can move, you can pose, you understand that it might a little nerve-wracking getting your photograph taken, by GETTING your photograph taken!

 

#1- Being behind the camera doesn’t show future generations who you were, it shows what you did.

A common sadness that every member of my family has, is that there are not more pictures of my Mimi. She passed away when I was a junior in college and we wish that she could have lived a longer life. We wish she would have been around to see us all grow into the human beings we are now. I know we aren’t the only ones that feel that way. As photographers we do a really good job of capturing memories for those around us, but not for us. I am sure we are all the designated picture snapper for our families, but are you in the photos? Is anyone capturing the fact that you were there? I know my Mimi was behind the camera, and now that she is gone I really wish she were in front of it. I know your family will wish that too!

Everyone has their own reasons for being behind the camera and in front of it. I am honored to have captured some special moments for the following photographers: Brittany DeaconAlexyss MarieTamara Picazo, and Matt Spanne.

Like, Share, Comment, and Follow

X O X O,

Ashley

 

Life is Unexpected

From “Corntown” to “Hippyville”, the “City by the Bay”and now “Cowtown” I’m a girl who’s made some epic mistakes, who does not have it all figured out, nor do I feel like I have to. I know that love comes and goes, and the hardest situations don’t have to break you. I know that there are lessons to be learned if we listen and there is something to celebrate even in the darkest moments. This blog isn’t just about me and what I’ve learned so far, or what I am working on, but it is about the many people who have embraced the “unexpected” and are living gratefully. Like I said before, I don’t have it all figured out, but I’m living life on purpose and embracing the journey.

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