Thursday, December 24, 2015

New Look

"Big Kid, how do you want your hair cut?"

"Well, I don't know how to say this, but like a young Joseph Stalin. Let me pull up a picture."


"Wow. Who knew he was so handsome?" 

"Yes, but how do I tell her I want a dictator's hair?"

So many dictator jokes, guys, but it was the wrong audience.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Propheting

Some yoga friends recently arranged to have a screening of Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet, an independent animated film by Selma Hayek. The kids were really looking forward to it and on the day we were going, little kid asked what it was about. 

"You know, I'm not 100% sure. I think it is actually based on an old book, a form of poetry, probably something middle eastern."

He looked confused. "Well, that is strange."

"Yes, it should be interesting to see how they turn something like that into a movie."

"It will probably be funny. A rhyming movie about a bank heist sounds funny."

"A bank heist?"

"Or whatever -- the robbery or crime or whatever."

"I don't think there is one."

"Then why is it called The Profit?"

"Oh -- oh, it's not. P-r-o-p-h-e-t. Like a messenger from God."

He looked crestfallen. "Really? Are you being serious right now?"

"Yes, hon, this movie will almost definitely not have a bank heist. I also don't know that it will rhyme."

"Well, I'm not going to lie, that is disappointing. I was really excited."

He ended up liking it more than any of us, although I was really moved by some of the incredible combinations of words.

(Spoiler alert to provide context for the reading: 

He dies. That's not a huge shocker though. The end of the book/movie was gorgeous and I went home and looked up the words I remembered immediately and still read it to myself occasionally.)

It had its slow points, though, and I do think a bank heist may have helped move things along.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Uncommon Goods: Lazy Ashley's Lazy Susan

My favorite catalog recently contacted me and asked if I would like to review one of their products. I've been getting a ton of product review requests lately and although it's (sometimes) fun for me, I know it's (sometimes) boring for you. Between that and being overwhelmed by stuff in my small house, I've been ignoring a lot of these lately (and then feeling guilty about it, because that's how I roll.)

But it's as if Uncommon Goods got up out of my mailbox and walked to my front door and said, "You know how you dog ear at least 30% of my pages for the magical future day where you have unlimited cash to buy things for yourself? Well, you have earned one of those items through your tireless optimism and endless appreciation of my products. And also because you're so smart and pretty."

It was exciting. They are my go-to place for wedding and baby gifts (this wishing ball and this Mysterio baby shirt are old favorites) but I've never bought anything for myself. For a moment, I thought I should use this as an opportunity to get a Christmas gift for someone else but luckily that moment passed quickly.

I went through the links and was excited to see this arcade spinner lazy susan that caught my eye in an earlier catalog issue. I showed Mr. Ashley and he seemed...confused. He pointed out jewelry and some beautiful glasses and I agreed that all of those things were very nice.

I showed a friend and we spent an hour oohing and ahhing over possibilities with a bunch of patchwork sari items coming in high on our lists. When I showed her the lazy susan, she didn't seem to fully share my enthusiasm.

I couldn't figure out why I wanted it so badly -- we don't really serve meals this way or have issues reaching things on the table. I didn't know where I would store it when not in use. I kept telling myself that this was a strange choice out of all of these beautiful, luxurious, or more practical options.

So I got it. I blame a childhood full of Wheel of Fortune and that big spinner thing on Price is Right.

And I love it.

(Pretend my chairs are chalk painted blue since I'm doing that this weekend.)

I thought I was super clever and original because I was going to make up games with mine (mostly to divide up chores) and it already came with a sheet suggesting games. Also, I thought the price was a result of its uniqueness versus its quality and I was wrong. It's real wood, with the grain showing through the design, and it rolls around in a really secure, expensive-feeling way. Like maybe ball bearings are involved? Or maybe I just wanted to say ball bearings. It is very satisfying to spin, if you're into life's little joys like that.

We used it for taco night and the kids were completely delighted.

"I love this lazy thingy!" little kid said.

"I do too." I answered.

"Do you love it more than me?"

He does this every single time I admit to liking anything. He once got competitive with our last dog over who had the softer nose when I made a comment about Murphy's velvety face. The dog is long dead and sometimes little kid will still randomly ask me if I think his nose is soft.

"Hmm."

"You love the taco wheel more than me?"

"Well, I've just met it but...I really do love it."

"But not more than me."

"I'm just saying. You've never served me taco ingredients like this."

"But you don't love it more than me."

"I don't love it more than you, little kid."

But sometimes I like it more than all of my family members -- it never talks back or leaves things on the bathroom floor or tells long stories about video games or work.



I was also happy to learn that Uncommon Goods isn't run by jerks; the lowest paid seasonal worker starts at 50% over minimum wage, half of what they sell is handmade, most is made in the U.S.A, and one-third of their products are recycled or up cycled. I always want to support companies that don't suck and sometimes it's unfortunately hard to do.

So if you're still looking for interesting Christmas gifts, check here for men, here for women, or here for general gift ideas. There's still time to choose economy shipping if you order by December 17th, and other options available if not.

Or just get something for yourself, I highly recommend it. At least get the catalog so you can make dog-eared wish lists of your own.


Editorial note: This is an ad. Uncommon Goods gave me that awesome Wheel of Fun in exchange for this post, but the thoughts and opinions are real and my own. I honestly do like that lazy susan more than real people some days.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Wish You a Merry Netflix (Giveaway)

Every month you listen to me talk about how I don't really mostly watch true crime shows on Netflix, and then I try to justify how some of the true crime shows I watch aren't really true crime shows.

This month I'm really not watching true crime shows because Mr. Ashley is obsessed with house makeover shows like Fixer Upper and I've been watching cooking shows, with a British baking show being my most recent favorite; both interesting choices since he rarely fixes anything and I rarely bake anything. There are hardly any murders going on but sometimes I think those unfortunate souls considering homes with less than Williams Sonoma showroom-worthy kitchens might die of heartache on the spot.

Anyway, Netflix is going to reward (one of) you for your patience with my depressing viewing habits by giving you 6 months of free Netflix. Not only is this the perfect gift from Netflix to me to you, you could also re-gift this gift to a teacher or hairdresser or just keep it for yourself because it's the gift that keeps on giving.

Here's why:

1. You don't have to wear pants to give or get this gift.
2. You can say you're really into marathons and not be lying.
3. Sex scenes in the Tudors. Just saying.
4. No return lines with pissy retail employees -- even if you already have Netflix, you can just have more Netflix.
5. It's like a yoga retreat but no yoga and no real inspiration, just commitment to the practice of watching something you like. So not really like a yoga retreat at all, but kind of.

a Rafflecopter giveaway Enter to win before 10pm EST on 12/17!

Thanks to all who entered! Our winner is an Ashley H in MN and she has been contacted via email. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Art of Being Bold


When SheKnows Media invited me to Art Basel to cover an event at the Vanity Fair Social Club, I was instantly intrigued but thought maybe there had been a mistake and they didn’t actually mean me.

Attending Art Basel in Miami Beach has been a long-time dream of mine. It's a world famous art fair that attracts celebrities and media and rich people and other oddballs from all over. I had a brief love affair with Miami Beach in my late teens/early 20s and always envisioned this glamorous, sunny, culture-filled weekend as the grown-up version of my exotic life. 

In case you hadn't guessed, that didn't end up being the grown-up version of my life. I had kids and a messy house and a lack of abundance in my bank account instead.

I thought maybe it just wasn’t meant to be this year again either. I reached out to a few friends and family members, mostly looking to justify how impossibly difficult it would all be, and each and every one said that I had to go and offered to help however they could. 

I messaged a former co-worker and teammate of mine who lived over there, someone I had never met in person and hadn't worked with for long but who I really liked, and she said her mother-in-law just moved out of a condo and that I could stay in it. It was within walking distance of everywhere I needed to be. This seemed like an unbelievable stroke of serendipity. 

But I would need to buy a new outfit…and then I found a dress for $12 at an upscale consignment store. It was the first one I tried on. Could I wear a $12 dress to a Vanity Fair event, though? I mean, the plan was not to tell anyone it was a $12 dress but now I'm telling the whole internet so I kind of blew that.

I finally ran out of excuses not to go, so I went. 

It was pouring the whole way over and I kept wondering if I would die in Miami traffic and then I said, "Ashley, you have been driving for 21 years, you will be fine, shut the hell up." Realizing that my driver's license is old enough to drink was a sobering thought. (I didn’t die.)

I finally arrived and I met my beautiful new friend. It felt like we had known each other forever and we stood there chattering until her husband had to insist that it was time to go because we wouldn't have parted willingly any time soon. 

Guys, this was my view: 



My plan had been to explore the city alone to enjoy the people watching but I ended up getting a bottle of wine and staying in instead; watching yacht parties in the bay and the cars crossing the bridge.  It was the most exciting night I’ve had in a long time — sitting there by myself, thinking or not, feeling like a tiny part of something bigger instead of in on the action. 

While I was there, I realized that I was in the same building I had stayed in for my childhood best friend’s bachelorette party and it seemed like maybe I was the sort of grown-up I wanted to be after all. Kind of. 

The next day I had an Uber driver take me to my event. He asked what I did for a living and when I explained that I was a writer, he insisted that I would make a great anchorwoman. I debated him on this for a minute but he was so certain that I could be excellent with a little practice that I thanked him for his confidence in me. 

After getting his life story, I asked if he had plans to return to Jamaica and he said that his good friend just received a license to grow medical marijuana and they were going to be partners. 

I told him that his life sounded exciting and he told me that my life sounded exciting and we wished each other luck on our exciting lives before parting ways. 

When I arrived at the Wolfsonian, I wanted to take a picture of the fancy Vanity Fair doors but didn’t want to look like a total weirdo so I strolled on in like I always hang out at places like this. 

I took one as I was leaving.

After getting checked in, I went to the bathroom and realized the rainy Miami humidity had done its own part in making me look like a weirdo. 



I had my picture taken at a fun little photo wall and once I finished, a guy in a suit pulled me aside. “Ma’am, may I speak with you for a minute?” 

I thought they had checked my Twitter and realized that I was a mommy blogger who had dyed her hands blue two days before and were planning to escort me out.

“Can we take a few shots of you over here?” 

“Shots of me?” I asked, not understanding. 

“Just real quick?” 

I thought it was their social media team and reluctantly obliged, and then there was a whole light and camera set up and they took a lot of pictures of me trying on old-fashioned hats. 

I don’t know, maybe they were getting some clear photos for the “no admittance” list next time, but there was another girl with me and she looked legit, so I’m still not sure what was going on. When I was leaving I asked what it was for and the photographer casually replied that it was for Vanity Fair, and then I needed two mimosas. 

In groups of four they took us into an IMAX-like screen area with a Lincoln MKX parked inside to show off the Revel speakers along with a visual show and it felt like a Disney World ride (on drugs). 

video

The panel of speakers I was there to hear included Jory Des Jardins, co-founder of BlogHer, Jessica Teves, editor of Stylecaster, and Yael Alkalay from Red Flower, and was called Style (and Power) to the People. This inadvertently ended up being the luckiest part of my weekend. 


I struggle all of the time about what the heck it is we are doing here (and by here, I mean Ashley Quite Frankly, and by we I mean you). I feel guilty for not being more professional or “building my brand” or looking for ways to monetize or even posting more regularly. Then I remember that I started this for fun and that it's more for me and my family than the rest of the world. It’s strange enough to share our lives with you — it would be even weirder to think of our family as a brand.

I’m a writer. I do that here for fun (or therapy) and elsewhere for work. I see the world through words, and when I’m here, I’m writing my own story. If something fits in along the way (I’m looking at you, Netflix), or a professional opportunity arises as a result, great! But I have this one little corner of the world where I get to tell my own story and I’m going to do it in my own unpolished way, unapologetically, in my own voice.

Anyway, I realized all of that after the panel. They were discussing the importance of authenticity, story-telling, and approachability. It made me realize there was value in my messy life and my willingness to admit it — that the kind of people I would like to write for won’t necessarily exclude me for my $12 dress and stained blue hands. I felt better for not having, or wanting, 500,000 followers and a creative director.

That probably wasn’t the point of the panel, but you know how I have a tendency to make everything about me. 


Later I had my makeup done by Sisley and as I was finishing up (with a mountain of swag, which made me feel like a movie star), I got a text from a friend lamenting the fact that her camping trip was canceled and she could have come with me after all. 

“Come now!” I urged her. 

She said it would be late and she had nothing to wear and it would be expensive and that there was the driving and the tolls. 

“When else will you have the opportunity? #BeBold,” I texted back in our inspirational yoga hashtag speak, after breaking down the limited costs. I didn’t think she would come. This was very last minute and she has 17 kids (or 4, same difference.) 

“I’m leaving in 15 minutes,” she answered. 

And she did. We went to the actual Art Basel, which was 500,000 square feet, and we had deep conversations and laughed at penis statues and high-fived about how bold we were and somehow avoided any hint of a stabbing that happened in the building at that time. 





We also ate at a pizza place, told an Uber driver/aviation mechanic student that his mom must be proud of him, drank wine and had chocolate from Nespresso and talked until late in the night on the balcony while watching the city lights flash.

We had so much fun trying on this other life where we were just us for the sake of being us, no kids attached.



The next day we went to IKEA and I only spent $22; one of my life’s greatest accomplishments. 

Although not as wild and exciting as my old Miami days, it was the perfect, almost glamorous weekend of being the kind of adult that I want to be. 


(Except for the bad hair.) 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Thankful

From little kid's backpack:



What I'm Thankful For

I'm thankful for myself, freedom, and my family. What are you thankful for? I'm thankful for my family because they help me with school and they make me joyful because they tell funny jokes. The reason I'm thankful for freedom is because it makes most of us happy. Also is one step closer to peace. I'm thankful for myself because I'm happy how I am. Also I love myself. As a result that's why I'm thankful. For myself, freedom and my family.

--age 9. 

The world needs more of that. 

May we all value family, freedom, and ourselves!