Favorite Thing Thursday

Lately, these are a few of my favorite things...

1. This Show

A to Z is apparently in trouble of being cancelled, which is quite sad because there is a real charm there, mostly due to the lead characters. Christi Milioti and Ben Feldman have fantastic chemistry on screen, and although the "a to z" story may be a little gimmicky, the love story actually feels real. For ladies (ahem, and men) that love romantic comedies, give this show a watch. You won't be disappointed. 

2. This Card

Bought this for my friend Jaclyn who just had her second kid (sans drugs, so she does deserve EXTRA congratulations!). Wanted to post the card because it would be easy to duplicate! 

3. This Song 

Like the rest of the nation, I've become entranced by Hozier to the point where I wonder if Jeff Buckley has been reincarnated. Gosh, I just love it when artists mix religious themes into their music, making it the sweetest taboo. Thus, I have a reverence for this song (and he has other amazing songs!).

What are you in love with this week? 


The Destroying Negative Thoughts Challenge

"...the destroyer of inner peace is not some external foe, but is within us. Therefore, the solution is within us too." --Dalai Lama 

When you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing you do? 

Me? I'm guilty of checking Facebook, the news, Instagram, and other media outlets. At times, this can be inspiring; other times, this can set a negative precedent for the rest of the day. And yet, I'll religiously do this the next day despite knowing that comparison or sad news can put me in a very, very dark mood. I then start to believe that the world is dark. And before the day even begins there is a burden. The curse of being such intelligent beings is that we are able to create very sad worlds with our own thoughts, even if that creation does not match reality. 

I'm deciding to break the cycle. I want the first thing I listen to or read in the morning to be a proper day starter: something that gets me excited for my life and what it has to offer. I've taken to doing a few things that are good day starters: 

1. Listening to a TED talk. This. This has gotta be the number 1 thing that helps me face the day with confidence and an ability to think outside my circumstances. I love speeches because they get me especially fired up. 

2. Yoga routines. This is a typical answer, I know--but it's one that works. It's hard to think about anything other than the move I'm trying to master. "Don't mind me while I try to hold this bendy octopus/pretzel position!" 

3. Writing cards for my friends. What better way to vanquish negative thoughts than by doing something positive for someone else? Writing kind words to a friend puts a smile on my face instantly. And I feel less selfish! 

4. Taking a Walk. You mean to tell me humans are made for exercise? Gee whiz!  

5. Giving somebody a hug. Do I need to even explain this one? 

Do I always do these things? Heck no. I'm one lazy S.O.B. Staying in bed is seductive; being productive feels so laaaaaame--until I actually start doing something. Then I think to myself, man! I love getting moving, I love walking, I love Yoga...I love life! Because I act like a toddler at times, I have to give myself a challenge: 

For a week straight, I vow not to check my phone first thing in the morning. I will not look at e-mails. I will not scan Facebook. I will instead do something positive (like those items listed above) FIRST thing in the morning. I'll blog about how I feel after a week, and hopefully...I can make this a continued practice! 

...well, all after coffee, of course. I am human! 

What do you like to do in the morning to put a positive spin on your day? Do you want to join my challenge? 


San Diego Eateries: Claire's on Cedros

Look at the french toast. GIVE into the french toast! 

Recently I've been getting out my front door more often in an attempt to:

1. Realize there are many unseen parts of San Diego and that I don't "know it all."
2. Play with my new camera which I am having immense fun with (I'll post about the camera later).

On that note...Yesterday, I went to brunch with Rachel, who has been a solid brunch friend of mine for a decade (yep, I can now count friendships by decades...ahhh!). We went to a place in North San Diego County, called Claire's on Cedros.

I will say, I always laugh at the "using jars as drinking glasses" trend. It's now part of the checklist for being trendy...but can we get over this trend yet?? I digress...

 I ordered a cappuccino, which was as BIG AS MY HEAD. The cappuccino was more of a latte, but wasn't bad at all. And I really can't complain about being served coffee that is head sized:

Claire's is definitely worth a visit because the french toast is delicious (order with a side of thick bacon) and the ambiance is not overdone (except for the jars).

Claire's also sells fresh jam, yummy cookies, and to-die-for deserts on the side (note the pumpkin cheesecake below). 

After brunch, Rachel and I were in the mood to go to antique stores and plant nurseries (I think we might be turning 50 next year?).

I think the man who owned the nursery thought I was a little insane snapping a photo of every plant I could. What he didn't know was that I was getting major camera practice in (I still have MUCH to learn).

If you're in the Solana Beach/San Diego area, Claire's is a great place to brunch before strolling down the street to antique markets. You'll also be a hop away from the ocean. Not bad for a Sunday afternoon!

Claire's on Cedros
246 N Cedros Ave
Solana Beach, CA 92075


Perfectly Acceptable Ashley

It's perfectly acceptable:

  • to eat half the box of Trader Joe's Chocolate Coconut Almonds in one sitting. TJ makes me gluttonous with their "health" foods. 
Trader Joe's
  • to become obsessed with all things space-related. Like...have you seen the footage of a probe landing on a comet???????? THIS IS FASCINATING. And then I saw Interstellar (review below), which has me considering the ramifications of black holes. I'm finding it hard to keep my mind on this planet this week, but I'm okay with that. 

  • to download over-the-top Celine Dion songs, sing them at the top of your lungs, and feel all the better for it. Maybe I even slipped a couple Celine chest-pounds in there too #guiltypleasures


A Three Sentence Movie Review

There were some good movies in this batch!

1. Interstellar

Wow, this one is a doozie and a half--a film that actually left me both satisfied and wanting with the mess of black holes, new planets, and space theories. I look at the reception for this movie in two groups: those who liked the last hour of the film, and those who hated it. Ok, so the movie is a little long (running at almost 3 hours), but for being a pretty cool film about space, I fall into the first group.

2. Frances Ha

The plot seems misguided in the beginning, much like Frances, but I think that may be the point. Frances is relatable to all those who have felt like the delinquent one, prompting the audience to ultimately cheer her on through the end. Don't dismiss this film in the beginning--it's worth watching the whole way through.

3. Mr. Nobody

This movie will hurt your brain a little, comparable to the likes of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. True, its premise of Mr. Nemo Nobody being the last mortal on earth (everyone else is immortal) and recounting memories gets a little jumbled at times. However, the overall message of finding meaning in life succeeds.

4. Short Term 12

A story rarely told, and a touching one at that: a look into what happens to the kids that are neglected/beaten/left by their parents. This movie will have you nearly in stitches. Plus, the director/writer of this film graduated from San Diego State University (my alma mater--what what!).

Photo credits: 1/2/3/4


Desert Sunsets and Other Tidbits on Arizona

Remember those art projects in elementary school where you rip pieces of black, pink, and red paper to make a desert sunset? Well during my recent work trip to Arizona, I realized that those paper creations were an accurate depiction of the real thing.

It's hard to beat a desert sunset, just look:

Even twilight has this cool pink/blue combo going on! 

Now, I didn't have a ton of time to take pictures since I was working (ya know!), but I managed to capture a few cool spots you should stop at if ever passing through Arizona. 

For instance, Arizona is not all desert, as I found out the hard way. You would think someone pretty well-traveled would know to check the weather before going to a new city, but I assumed that Arizona would be quite warm everywhere. Ummmm...not Flagstaff! Wearing a dress with no tights, I was welcomed to 37 degree weather (3 degrees Celsius). So, I learned my lesson (as I froze my butt off).

Definitely make a stop in Flagstaff if driving through Arizona. It's gorgeous! With its snow covered mountains, pine trees, and crisp air, this will be a refreshing stop on your journey! 

Of course, the rest of Arizona is mostly desert: 

And then out of the blue, like a mirage, you'll hit Phoenix--a city smack dab in the middle of the desert: 

 I would describe Phoenix as a sort of sleepy/renovated city, with splatters of art throughout.
And I do have one restaurant recommendation! Arrogant Butcher, located right in the heart of downtown, has scrumptious meat and cheese board options to make you squeal in glee.

Yes, you can pretty much count on sunny weather in this city. November seems to have been a good time to go for a perfect 75 degree day.
I ordered a chicken tabouleh salad, which sounds uneventful, but was one of the best chicken salads I have ever had! And service was outstandingly pleasant. But seriously, give this place a try! 


Arizona is great place to road trip through: friendly people, good food, varying climates (as I found out). Sometimes middle states are overlooked, when actually they have great things to offer. Arizona, you're a little gun crazy, but besides that--you're pretty alright!


Simply Horrifying

I like morbid things, and I make no apologies for it. So when it came to choosing between a cute or scary costume for Halloween, the choice was quite clear...

(Yes, I  had to apply creepy filters). When Churro (below) first saw me, he barked his head off at the scary dead thing entering his territory. This made me laugh in triumph! If I can scare children and the dog, I've won...mwahaha!

 Churro eventually warmed up to me again and realized I just had given myself a bad makeup job.
Lainey and I joked about how we were on the exact opposite spectrum of Halloween costumes--girly vs. creepy.

 First order of the night was listening to the band above, who were dressed up as a demented Wizard of Oz cast--brilliant! They sang "Pretty Zombie" instead of "Pretty Woman."
 It wasn't just me and Lainey hitting the town, we had other costumed friends to accompany us:
 Jack Skellington
 And this (whatever you call this)! 

 ...He's staring into your soul...
 Nerd alert! 

Even lego man humored me by posing for a photo! 
 All in all, a GREAT Halloween where I got complimented on being perfectly creepy. 

All of that evil energy worked up my appetite the next day. Swami's helped revive my humanity. Glad to say I'm totally back to normal now: 

A perfect way to end a good Halloween weekend!

P.S. I found instructions for my skeleton makeup on YouTube...try it out next year! 
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