Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Link Love

TGIF. I can't believe December is upon us! It's crazy how fast this time of year goes. Tomorrow, Wesley and I are going find a Christmas tree. We are going to make cranberry and popcorn garland to decorate it. I can't wait, I love Christmas traditions. Sunday, we are headed down to Denver for the Broncos game. It's supposed to be cold, so I'll be bundled drinking plenty of hot cocoa to stay warm. I hope you have a lovely weekend too. Enjoy this week's Friday link love :)

I want these shoes (and they're on sale, ruh roh...).

I love this fair isle sweater, so perfect for the holidays!

Can I just be Sarah Vickers?

Disposable DIY dinner plates. Oh the Christmas ideas...

A post-it pinata. Awesome.

This bike-riding mom is amazing (also possibly crazy).

Androgynous done right.

12 things to do in Denver this holiday season.

A great gift idea for friends this Christmas.

tutorial on how to wear beanies the cool way.

P.S. I didn't mention it in my post yesterday, but it was also my friend Amy's birthday! So, here it is officially...Happy birthday lover face! xx

Image from here

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Happy Birthday Wesley

Today is a very special day! It's Wesley's 28th birthday! I am so lucky to have him in my life and I can't wait to spend today with him. We're going skiing this morning and I'm planning on singing to him every time we get on the lift. Tonight, I'm taking him to dinner at his favorite, the Hearthstone! Then back home for presents and cake. Don't forget to wish him a happy birthday too. Love you Wes! xx

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Organics Game

Every time I go to the grocery store, I play a little game. It's called the organics game. It happens in the produce section, when I'm picking my apples. It happens in the dairy isle, when I'm choosing my eggs. It happens in the meat cooler, when I'm selecting my beef. You see, the game is whether or not I buy organic.

I want to buy organically because I want my food to be as farm-to-table as possible, without all the added hormones and preservatives. I want to eat produce that's in season and beef that's been grazing on grass. I don't enjoy eating added hormones that make my apples three times the size they should be or eating a cow that has been fed grain only his whole life for the sole purpose of making him fatter. However, I know I shouldn't, because it's so much more expensive.

I'm bringing this up because it's a constant struggle for me at the grocery store. I want to buy the best quality food, but buying organic food is expensive. It's definitely not in my budget. So what's a girl to do? Over the summer I took my food to an extreme, shopping almost exclusively at the natural food store, spending way to much of my income on my diet. Although I wish I could afford to shop that way all the time, I just can't. Recently, I have been purchasing organic food that is most important to me, like produce and eggs. That's more in my budget.

I'm curious to know your thoughts. Do you play the organics game too? Do you struggle with what to buy organic, if anything? Or am I just an over concerned weirdo? I don't know. Just thought I would throw it out there.

P.S. Have you read any of Michael Pollan's books? Or watched Food Inc.? They both changed the way I think about food.

P.P.S. I do understand that organic is just a word. Not everything that says organic is actually USDA certified organic. See more here.

Image via here

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


The holidays are about spending time together with those you love. They are about sharing good food and great conversation. I believe setting the right ambiance absolutely sets the mood for an occasion; thus, I took it upon myself to set our Thanksgiving table.

As a gal on a budget, I wanted to make my own table setting pieces rather than purchase them. I think, in total, I spent about $30 creating our rustic Thanksgiving table. Several easy DIY details are what really pulled the look all together. It was definitely worth the cost and I can reuse most of the pieces I invested in.

Start with a white tablecloth (please excuse the folding chairs, a ghetto fabulous detail).
Add a piece of burlap (I bought mine at Walmart for $8). I foresee so many more uses...
Use a centerpiece with CANDLES! They really set the mood. I made this one using cardboard, leaves and candles, all things I had at home already. I bought the pumpkins on sale at Safeway for a quarter each!
Use place cards! A fun detail that when placed appropriately can really fuel conversation. 
I found all the pinecones outside, fo frwee. DIY tutorial here.
The {paper} napkins add a pop of color to the table. $4 at Safeway. 

Although I know my table setting is not as beautiful as the ones you see in magazines or other  blogs,  I was pleased with the results. It added an element to our Thanksgiving holiday that made it memorable. Ideas for our Christmas table setting are flowing like wine now. Stay tuned.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Nontraditional, Traditional Thanksgiving

First, I would like to apologize for my blogging absence last week. Thursday was spent stuffing my face with 10 pounds of food. Friday was spent recovering from added weight gain. But, I'm baaaaack!

Thanksgiving was glorious. My family decided to go the nontraditional route because we are weird unique like that and made mussels and french fries in honor of our Belgian roots. God bless the Pilgrims, Indians and Belgians? We started with apps of stuffed mushrooms and salmon puffs. Then came the main course, mussels, french fries and salad. It was so good. To top things off,  we went for pumpkin pie tiramisu, just to keep things interesting. Again, my family is weird. And don't worry, I know you all want need these recipes. They shall come soon.

Just a little neck party fun for Thanksgiving

All photos from my Instagram! @ashapen

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

DIY: Reusable Cake Flags

I take my sweets cereal. Real cereal. When I bake, not only do my treats taste yummy, but they also look sexy. Cake flags are just the ticket to creating a pretty and unique presentation on your dessert. I've made a cake version and a cupcake version, and I can't believe the use I have already gotten out of each of them.

This DIY is simple and easy, and your guests will be in awe of your attention to the detail (because let's be honest, we do the extras for the compliments).

Reusable Cake Flag DIY

colored card stock
puff paint

To make, fold desired card stock paper in half, hamburger style. Cut triangles out with one side being the fold. Open up the triangles so they are their diamond shape. Put glue on one half. Insert toothpick (for a cupcake flag, as pictured below) or string (for cake flags, as pictures above).

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Egg Drop Party

A few weeks ago, the roomie and I spontaneously hosted an egg drop competition! I hadn't participated in one since probably 3rd grade and let's just say my egg dropping skills have matured over the years.

Danielle's boyfriend (who won the Michigan State Egg Drop Champion in 5th grade...seriously), surprised us with the supplies during a mini dinner party, and we decided to go for it.

The materials for the egg drop included:

-10 popsicle sticks
-10 straws
-10 rubber bands
-5 feet of masking tape
-5 feet of string
-1 piece of paper

We had 20 minutes to use the materials however we wanted to protect our egg from breaking once we threw it off our roof.

The egg drop was a total blast! I highly recommend having one at your house! Just make sure you have supplies to clean up. No one likes scrambled egg sidewalk.

P.S. My egg was the only one that didn't break...even though I may or may not have used 10 extra feet of tape....

Monday, November 19, 2012

Raspberry Almond Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache

Thanksgiving in a comin' and if you are in need of one more decadent dessert for the table, I have your solution and it comes in the form of almond and raspberry and chocolate galore. 

I found this recipe on Joy the Baker's blog. The almond in the cupcake is light and sweet while the raspberry gives it a pleasant and fresh tartness. Add the rich chocolate ganache as the frosting and prepare for mouthgasm. I found these cupcakes quick and easy to make, but beware of the chocolate ganache. It took me two tries to get it right. Take precaution and buy an extra bag of choco chips. You won't regret it.

Raspberry Almond Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache
makes 12 cupcakes


Raspberry Almond Cupcakes:
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
5 tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 raspberries, roughly chopped (fresh is better, but frozen will work too)

Chocolate Ganache:
3/4 cup semi sweet, mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin cups with paper liners.

In a bowl, sift flour, baking soda and salt.

In a bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg and almond extract. Reduce speed to low and add in flour mixture and milk alternately in 3 batches, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Fold in raspberries.

Divide batter evenly in muffin cups. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Turn cupcakes onto a rack and allow to cool completely. Once cool, add chocolate ganache frosting.


Put chocolate chips in a bowl. Bring cream to a simmer in a sauce pan. Pour cream evenly over chocolate. Let stand for 2 minutes to soften, then stir until smooth. If frosting is too loose to spread, let it sit at room temperature for 10-30 minutes, stirring occassionally. Frosting will thicken as it stands.

***My first batch of ganache didn't melt enough to spread smoothly, so I tried microwaving it. DON'T DO THAT. It didn't work. I had to start over. If you have the same problem, try making the ganache in 2 batches. That worked better for me.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Link Love

Happy Friday! I have a big weekend ahead of me. Tonight, I'm attending a gals only sushi and movie night. I can't wait to stuff by belly full of fish and rice, mmm. Saturday I shall get in my first day of the season at Copper; should be sicky gnar gnar, brah. Sunday I am playing in a women's volleyball tournament down in Denver. I'm a little nervous, as I haven't played since August, but it should be a blast. Wish us luck! Hope your weekend is fun too! xx

A pre-Thanksgiving tradition: Friendsgiving. Such a great idea!

A guide to Denver this holiday season.

This couple is gorgeous (I want to be them one day).

Where to cut your own Colorado Christmas tree.

Do you like fiction? A wonderful and insightful(?) book. A must-read!

A classic LBD, perfect for the holiday season and beyond!

Death to Hostess. Odes to the Twinkie.

A quote from J. K. Rowling.

Justice served in a Breckenridge murder?

Pups performing the Nutcracker.

Perhaps this explains why my dad dislikes cilantro so much...

Thanksgiving as a kid vs. Thanksgiving as an adult.

I love these shoes. I want them. But brown or black?

P.S. Do you follow me on Instagram or Twitter yet? No? You need my username? Your wish is my command: @ashapen

Photo via Mish Productions

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thrifted Thursdays: The Loafers

Thrifted Thursday are back! Sorry they have been gone. Bad Ashley, bad Ashley.

Today I present to you, Cole Haan Loafers. They are classic. They are crocodile leather. They are vintage (with a current and similar Cole Haan version retailing for $218). They cost me $4.

I found these babies at For Pet's Sake in Breckenridge. This is my favorite thrift store in the county for two reasons. First, 100% of its proceeds go to an animal rescue nonprofit called Animal Rescue of the Rockies. Second, it's run by (older, retired) volunteers who don't usually know the value of certain brands and trends, so many treasures can be bought for a steal!

I have worn these beauties a couple of times so far, but to be truthful, they are just slightly too small for my feet (too narrow). If you wear a size 6 1/2 narrow and are interested in these vintage Cole Haan Loafers, comment on this post and they could be yours!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Grandma Cole's Vans

Vans. Please notice the tear Grandma Cole purposefully placed in order to get them on easier. Smart and sporty.

Let us talk about mode. Not apple pie a-la-mode (although that's close). Let's talk about my Grandma Cole's mode. {Mode means fashion in French, for all of you who have never read my Blogger Profile}. Let us discuss Grandma Cole's Vans.

It was a Saturday night. My family and I were taking my Grandma Cole out for a nice dinner. We drove to her house, walked in her door and found her waiting patiently for us to pick her up. She looked lovely (in a grandma kind of way) wearing striped blue pants, a comfortable pullover and her new Vans. Yes, I'm talking about the skate shoe Vans that little hoodrats all over the country sport daily.

When I saw wearing Vans, I felt a mixture of emotions. First, confusion. Did she know what Vans are? Did she buy them on purpose? Where did she get them? What is this world coming to?! After my confused state, I felt acceptance. Okay, my grandma is wearing Vans. They must be comfortable? Maybe a friend gave them to her? Maybe they were on sale somewhere which is why has them? Finally, after the acceptance, I felt admiration. My Grandma is cool. My Grandma is sporty. Damn my Gma is a gangsta...

Grandma Cole sporting her Vans at her house. My grandma is cooler than your grandma.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Happy Hairsday

This past weekend was full of health, happiness and hair. What can I say, I am a girly girl who loves locks (and is also extremely athletic, smart and well-rounded....)

The hair-tastic weekend started with a willing young lady {Mandi} allowing me to practice my waterfall braiding skills on her lusciously thick and long hair. It ended with an innocent and eager little blond {Danimal} receiving a lesson on creating sexylicious Victoria Secret waves. I was happy because I got to practice my hair craft and demonstrate my ability. Because I'm no movie star, I'm attaching a link for each tutorial. Maybe one day you shall see me perform live....

Waterfall Braid:

{Waterfall Braid Tutorial here}

{Victoria's Secret Waves Tutorial here}

***My biggest tips:
1.) Always curl away from your face! It makes your hair look thicker.
2.) If you have fine hair (like myself and Danimal the model), start with medium heat, not hot. You can always add more curl, but you can't take it away (and no one wants to look like Shirly Temple) .

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Quick Trip to Moab

As most of you know (from this post), I took a quick trip to Moab last weekend with the bf and the rents. While the boys went four-wheeling in the jeep all weekend, my maja and I hiked our big little booties off! Here are some picts of the trip. 

Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands: My mom rules the world.
Canyonlands: White Rim
Arches National Park: Landscape Arch
Arches: Mom jumping with the Devil's Garden in the background.
Arches: Weeee!
Arches: My gorgeous mother.

A short and sweet weekend. See you in spring Moab!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Link Love

Cheers to the weekend! Winter has arrived in Breckenridge. The resort opened today and I'm super excited for this season because I'm going to start skiing again! Gone are my days of hoodrat snowboarding, I'm going to be a little ski bunny once more (like Mary Swanson). I can't wait! Here is my link love for you from the week. Enjoy! xx

Chic mom jeans?

I am craving an oversized, menswear inspired coat, like this one!

The most-liked photograph of all time.

Mitt Romney Style (thanks Mandi!).

A pretty hairstyle.

A thoughtful idea for Thanksgiving place cards.

Forget coffee time. A new morning ritual.

I will try this bed frame DIY!

A yummy treat, get in my belly.

P.S. I was wrong! Cool gals wearing their beanies pulled down!

Image via here

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Wearing Beanies the Cool Way

So in the last couple of years, I have noticed a trend in beanie wearage. I've realized that there is a cool way and not-so-cool way to wear your beanie. The cool way is to wear your beanie slightly further back on your head, exposing your hairline.

The cool way looks something like this:

The not-so-cool way looks like this:

I have been sporting my beanies in the not-so-cool way for years. It's comfy and warm over my ears. But I don't want to be the uncool, beanie girl. I want to wear cool, slouchy beanies, half off my head! The problem lies in how people with small heads (me) can wear their beanies the cool way (pushed farther back on our heads), without the damn thing falling off. Let me tell you, I have tried to wear them in this slouchy, cool way and it doesn't work. My small head doesn't cover enough area for the hat to hold on to; and thus, falls. off. every. time. See exhibit A, B and C below.

Exhibit A: the "cool" way
Exhibit B: falling off my tiny head...
Exhibit C: gone.

So what do you think? Have you too noticed this pushed back and slouchy beanie trend? Do you rock it? Can you rock it? I'm just going to start buying in youth....

Top photos, left to right, top to bottom, via here, here, here and here.