December 1, 2013

Cyber Monday Etsy Sale!

Happy Holidays!
I don't know about all of you but I am finally starting to wake up from the butter induced coma I put myself into these last few days. I actually ate a vegetable tonight that wasn't soaking in some sort of sauce and my body is overjoyed.
With the over-eating Thanksgiving bender comes some great deals on holiday shopping and my etsy store is no exception! Right now I am having a 20% off sale to celebrate Cyber Monday and the fact that there are only 24 days until Christmas (and 22 days until my birthday!)
Spread some joy this year by giving handmade jewelry that is made with love from a really nice, cool lady in Atlanta, Georgia. I am always happy to customize lengths, gemstones and add-on initials to my items to truly make the gift one-of-a-kind. I have a lot of new jewelry gift sets in stock as well as plenty of turquoise jewelry, perfect for those December babies like me!
Also, Georgia friends ... I will be at two different craft shows/holiday markets this December, so stop by in person to say hello! Find me at the Indie South Fair in Athens, GA this Saturday and Sunday (December 7 & 8th) and the Athens Artist Market the following weekend (December 14th & 15th) also in Athens, GA. If you stop by in person and mention that you are signed up for my newsletter, I will give you a 20% discount on whatever you purchase at those shows.
If you aren't able to stop by the shows, but still want to see my stuff in person, I sell at these awesome places...
Arbor Salon (1155 Mitchell Bridge Rd, Athens, GA 30606)
Agora (260 W Clayton St, Athens, GA 30601)
Agora Vintage (233 E. Broad St., Athens, Georgia)
Canavan (125 West Jefferson Street, Madison, Georgia
Frayed Knot (6 W State St, Savannah, GA 31401)
HomeGrown (412 Church St, Decatur, GA 30030)
Republic Salon (312 E Broad St, Athens, GA 30601)
Wild Oats and Billy Goats (112 E Ponce De Leon Ave, Decatur, GA 30030)
I hope you enjoy your December and your holiday season. The 20% off sale in my etsy store ends on December 9th!!
Also, check out my facebook page to get the first look at new designs, enter giveaways and to keep in touch!
Click the banner below to be taken to my facebook page!

 ~ With Love, Ashlee ~ 

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October 20, 2013

Interview with Erin McManness

Today I am really excited to get to share with you an artist that I discovered at one of the boutiques I sell at in Decatur, Georgia. Her name is Erin McManness and creates the most vivid and beautiful pieces of art.

I was instantly blown away by her use of colors and the stunning female forms she creates.

I hope you enjoy getting to know more about her as much as I did!

P.S....Click on any of the photos in this post to be taken to her etsy store!

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started.

I'm Erin, and I'm currently working towards my Masters degree in Illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design. I like rock music and drink way too much coffee. I have been an artist all of my life, but I got started on my illustration career path almost 10 years ago, when I traded in my Musical Theatre Major for a Studio Art major. I was trained as an oil painter, but now make illustrations in a lot of different media.

Apart from creating things, what do you do?!

When I'm not working on art, I'm usually baking and trying new recipes out on my boyfriend and our friends. I make a mean Scottish Shortbread, and my personal favourite is my Lemon Zucchini Bread. If it's got vegetables in it, it can't be all bad, right? I am also currently searching for a furry friend to call my sidekick.

Where does your inspiration come from?

My commercial work tends to lean over to the fashion and editorial side of illustration. I am extremely interested in fantasy, psychological space, and surrealism. The figure is my favourite thing to draw, and I am constantly inspired by it.

What does handmade mean to you?

Handmade is extremely important to me. I used to create wedding jewelry, and really cherish the mark of the artist. The brides I worked with were always so thrilled to have a custom piece for their special day - and an heirloom for years to come. I am involved in a local co-op in Decatur, HomeGrown, where we sell only handmade art, and I shop exclusively online and in local stores and small businesses for gifts. It means so much to me when others value my work, and I've taken the pledge to never go to the mall at Christmas again! I want to give my support to people just like me.

How would you describe your creative process?

My creative process almost always involves coffee. I currently have a great worktable in my sunny studio, where I like to jam out and focus on a number of different projects. As a freelancer, I often have multiple projects at once, and often find it helpful that I can keep my mind and eyes fresh by working on all types of work - from an illustrated fashion book, to apparel designs, to a 10 foot banner for a gaming convention. I love the variety!

What handmade possession do you most cherish?

My boyfriend is also an illustrator and screen-printer, and he always makes me little drawings. I don't think he realizes just how much I love them! I keep them all around my apartment, and tack them to my inspiration board and refrigerator.

How do you get out of your creative ruts?

When I'm in a creative rut, I always go back to this quote, "Winners just get shit done." Especially in graduate school, it's difficult to sort yourself out of a creative rut - you're not really allowed to have them at SCAD! While it's really intense work, I am grateful for the hustle-attitude. If I really need a break, I'll go out and grab a smoothie and listen to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack really loudly in my headphones, have a zen moment, and then get back to it. I try to push myself in times of creative exhaust - sometimes you get your best ideas when you think you're out of ideas!

Where do you see yourself and your business in a few years?

I have been feeling a sense of anticipation for the past year that my business is about to reach the end of its latest plateau and begin climbing up to the next level again. My goal for the New Year is to start it off with an agent and take my freelance up to the next level. In the next few years I'd like to be working on large-scale commercial illustrations and continue my financial stability of paying my bills with my art work!

What is the best and worst thing about being an artisan?

The best thing is seeing someone wearing your work on the street, or seeing your work in print. Yesterday I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a lady wearing one of my necklaces. I wasn't able to catch her to say hello, but that warm fuzzy feeling stayed with me the whole day. Second best is the schedule and freedom. I have almost complete flexibility in my schedule and get to tackle projects that really excite and inspire me! But on the flip side, working for yourself - and working as a creative - often means putting in a ton of hours (and not always getting paid for them). Most weeks I work 60-70 hours and barely leave my desk. I find, though, that coffee with friends or taking a jog will refresh my eyes and my mind, though!

What advice would you give to other artisans trying to sell their wares?

My professor has a saying, "Go as fast as you can for as long as you can while the fire is hot." To be successful artist is to adopt a lifestyle, and the lifestyle is going to require a lot of time, energy, and personal investment. The lucky thing though, is that if you truly love what you do, these things come as a natural inclination to grow.

What is the most popular item you sell?

Since we're in Atlanta, my most popular print is Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead. This past Spring I had sent his agency 2 prints as a thank you for the inspiration the show has given me -- I was shocked to have them sent back to me signed by Andrew Lincoln himself! One says "Big Zombie Love" and the other says "Best Wishes from the Zombie Apocalypse". It was the coolest thing EVER.

What are your top five books, movies, musicians and websites?

Favourite Books are the Game of Thrones series. I am a huge fan!
My favourite movies are all "guy" movies: Braveheart, Gladiator, Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones... I also love watching old black and white samurai movies with my boyfriend. And I have a big soft spot for Miyazaki (doesn't every illustrator?)
As for music, my favourites include Dave Matthews Band and The Black Keys. I was a Musical Theatre major, so I also love operas and shows like Les Miserables, RENT, Phantom of the Opera, etc.

Where can we find you online and off?

Offline, my work can be found at Homegrown Boutique in Decatur, and very soon at HodgePodge Coffeeshop and Gallery in East Atlanta.

Thank you so much Erin for taking the time to let us get to know you better! Please be sure to check her out online or stop by Homegrown Boutique if you are in Atlanta!

~ With Love, Ashlee ~

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October 15, 2013

Handmade 365

At the beginning of October, I read about a project started by The Tales of Ted and Agnes blog.

To put it simply, the idea is to wear a handmade item everyday for a year and take a photo of it. It can be a scarf knit by your grandmother, a dress made by your extra crafty friend or a little piece of shine you created for yourself.

I figured that since I spend all day every day making handmade stuff....this project has got to be a piece of cake, right?! Right?

Well...taking a photo of myself wearing a pair of my handmade jewels has been a little bit less consistant than I hoped for, but they say that it takes 3 months to build a habit so hopefully I will be able to get this down soon. I have really enjoyed wearing a new item everyday though that I made. It has made me wear a variety of items, not just my old standbys (even though I create mounds of jewelry, I still wear the same five things over and over and over again).

I've been at it for about a week now and have seven days of photos to share with you. I thought each week I would do a recap on the blog, but be sure to check out my instagram or facebook page if you want to see the photos each day.

/Day 1\

Rose gold Swarovski crystals with 14K rose gold filled earwires. Super sparkly and don't you just love the rose gold trend right now? Not available yet in my etsy store, but by the end of the week they will be all photographed and in stock.

/Day 2\

Vintage czech glass jewels with vintage gold plated hammered drops. These are deceptively light and I have them available in a few colors and wear them so often. These are one of my new favorites in my current rotation. Available in my etsy store here.

/Day 3\

One of the first pair of earrings I ever made for myself and my absolute favorite. These have light blue Peruvian opals which have been wire-wrapped in 14K gold and hang from thin, light earwires. These are the only ones available and they are all mine!

/Day 4\

I made these just last week while playing around with some splashes of color. These are vintage brass dangles which have been hand painted with coral on top and fuchsia on the bottom. The ear wires are antiqued brass, so it has the mixed metal and color block trend going on. Available in my etsy store here.

/Day 5\

Sometimes it is best to keep these simple. This is one of those necklaces. Simple, sweet and perfect for everyday wear. A bright sparrow and 14K gold. Available in my etsy store here.

/Day 6\

I liked this necklace so much that I wore it two days in a row, messing up my goal of wearing a different item for each day of this project. That is how much I like it. The lotus flower is stamped into the sterling silver and the contrast with the oxidized metal and bright sterling really highlights the design. The chain and pendant are both sterling silver. Available in my etsy store here

/Day 7\

 I am really loving gold lately. I never really liked gold jewelry growing up and never thought that I would wear gold. is what I wear 90% of the time. I love the warmth of the color, I love how it looks on my skin and it really goes well with colors. These earrings have vintage lucite beads in a coral hue with the same gold plated hammered pendants that I wore a few days earlier. I am a creature of habit, what can I say? Available in my etsy store here.

So that about wraps up my first week into the project. I am really loving this idea and am going to try my hardest to stick to it. I think that it will help me grow as a jeweler as well as I get to create fun new pieces more often.

Have a great night everyone!

PS....I am having a 20% off everything sale in my etsy store, so all the pieces above aren't priced any higher than $20.80. Woohoo!

~ With Love, Ashlee ~ 

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September 5, 2013

Five Things

{five things I have a passion for}
1. My husband. He is the central thing in my life and I always want to show him how much he means to me.
2. Learning about history. I really love listening to podcasts and reading books to get a broader knowledge on all the random things that have occurred throughout time.
3. Teaching. Perhaps it's because I'm bossy but I love showing people what to do.
4. My puppy dog. Duh.
5. Yarn. Knitting. Anything involving yarn or knitting. 

{five things I'd like to do before I die}
1. Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro has been on my bucket list since I watched an IMAX movie about it in the 10th grade.
2. Buy/own/wear a pair of leather pants that look really amazing on (a teensy bit shallow but gosh darn it...I want it).
3. Make babies!!
4. Backpack through Europe and doing all the stereotypical touristy things like pretending to hold up the leaning tower of Pisa and being sung to in a boat by an Italian man in a striped shirt.   
5. I want to run the Easter Island marathon.

{five books or magazines I've read lately}
1. Winger by Andrew Smith
2. The Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
3. The Delirium Series by Lauren Oliver
4. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
5. The Fault In Our Stars by John Greene

{five favorite movies}
1. Donnie Darko
2. Grease
3. Life Is Beautiful
4. Steel Magnolias
5. Charlie Bartlett

{five places I'd love to travel to}
1. India is my number one destination right now. 
2. Masaii Mara Wildlife Reserve in Kenya
3. All over Italy
4. Costa Rica
5. I really want to take my husband all along the west coast to where my family is from. He has never seen the redwoods or the beauty of Oregon and Washington.

{five things I say alot}
1. 'I do what I want.' This is usually given as a sassy explanation to my husband about why I didn't do a chore or task like I said I would earlier.
2. 'Who do you think we are? The Rockefellers?' This is something that I picked up from my mom and once again, is said in a sassy voice whenever we talk about finances.
3. I sigh a lot. Loudly and probably at inappropriate times. It's just a form of stress relief but it's kind of a ridiculous habit.
4. 'Who's got a big stick?' No weirdo...I don't say this to my husband but rather my puppy dog whenever he finds a stick in the backyard to play with.
5. 'I can't hear you.' My husband seems to always want to talk whenever I am brushing my teeth, doing dishes, washing my face, etc. I have my head near running water and he decides to talk to me about something from the other room. It happens without fail.

{five blogs I love} 
1. The Other Juliette. Such a funny and witty lady. If I could pick any blogger who I would be BFF's with, it would be with this gal (said in a completely normal and non-stalkerish sort of way).
2. It's Kayla Layla. So this lady has only been blogging for like a month, maybe two but she is already one of the sassiest, funniest ladies around.
3. Kisses and Croissants. If you have ever had the dream of going abroad, falling in love with a frenchman, marrying said frenchman and then moving to France permanently - read this blog. This girl did it and writes about being an American in France and all the fun things that come with marrying someone from a different culture/background/language.
4. Nat the Fat Rat (now Hey Natalie Jean). She is a blogging goddess and made the cutest baby in the world. I love me some Huck!
5. Hubby Jack's Blog Attack! The only male blogger that I read and the only one I will ever need. Think of Jim from the Office, and a little bit more attitude and you have Jack.

Find me on instagram, facebook, pinterest and twitter. Because I am cool like that.

~ With Love, Ashlee ~

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September 4, 2013


Reading - This past weekend while camping I read two really enjoyable books. The first was this month's book for my 'Not So Young Adult' book club at a local bookstore. It was called 'The Shadow of Blackbirds' by Cat Winters and was a historical fiction/young adult/paranormal/mystery book all about the year 1918 with WWI and the Spanish Flu pandemic that swept through the US that year. It was also a ghost love story and I do love myself some ghosts. 

The second book I read was called 'Winger' by Andrew Smith and I didn't know a thing about it when I started reading it. Didn't even read the blurb on the back or anything. Just liked the cover and went with it. It started out as an endearing and hilarious book and ended up being probably in my top 5 books of all time. I don't want to say anything about it really because I really think it is just better to go into it blind. You just need to know that it is a young adult fiction novel and from the perspective of a charming 14 year old boy. I have already told my husband that he has to read it during his winter break this school year.

Watching - I may be the only person in America still watching this show, but every week I watch 'Siberia' and hope that it either a) explains itself or b) redeems itself. I am so confused at what the heck is going on, mad at it for not divulging more plot, and disappointed in the writing....but yet I keep watching it each week to my husband's chagrin.

Eating - We got a little bit lazy in the cooking department these past two weeks with me being sick, going camping and then coming home to an empty fridge. As a result, we went out a bit and many of my favorite foods were eaten such as Chipotle, take-n-bake pizza, biscuits and gravy, ice cream, more pizza, Moe's burritos, fried green tomatoes, and more pizza. It's been a delicious two weeks for my belly but a bit sad to my saddlebags.

Working On - Our home has been a complete mess the past two weeks. This is one of the first years that we have lived in the same place two years in a row, so I am trying to do a deep clean of the place and doing all the sort of crazy cleaning you do when you are trying to get back your security deposit. But I am moving slow thanks to my business doing well and not so thanks to being sick. So this Saturday, my partner in crime has agreed to help me clean the ceiling fan blades, bleach our windowsills and take a toothbrush to our grout so we can finally get this place settled again.

Thinking About - One of my favorite memories from camping this weekend was bouncing around ideas and brainstorming with my husband about the book that I want to write. You guys have no idea how many good ideas John has. I swear, this book is going to be all of his ideas and my voice behind them. I now have pages of notebook paper with details on what I want this book to be about and where I want it to go. I still have a ton of gaps and content that needs to be filled, but I finally feel like I have enough of a concrete idea that I can actually put pen to paper.

Listening To - I don't know when it happened and I fully blame living in the South, but guys....I like country music. I can't believe it myself, but Luke Bryan has stolen my country heart.

Mantra - I read this quote in a magazine over the weekend and I have seen it three other times since then. I feel like the universe is really trying to pound it in my head.

Am I alone in watching Siberia and do you have any good book suggestions? I need some new ones!

~ With Love, Ashlee ~

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September 3, 2013

Oh hey there...

Oh hello. 

After having a cold that knocked me off my feet for a week and then taking a long weekend to go camping, I haven't been around these parts much lately.

But after spending the weekend going 'balls to the wall' and eating a bag of non-vegan marshmallows and my body weight in guacamole, I am back with a vengeance (and a tummy ache).

Sidenote: I ran 17 miles today and my body H.A.T.E.S. me right now. Feeding my body crap for a week and a half and then pushing it to it's breaking point with running makes for a sad Ashlee and sad tummy.

But back to more awesome things. Like camping with an adorable puppy and handsome husband.

If you don't remember, I recently wrote about my last camping experience here and our encounter with a bear. Needless to say, I was beyond terrified to go camping again but decided to suck it up and went back into the woods armed with a bear bell and bear mace (which I bought off of a stranger I met online and had to go to a local gas station to get the goods/exchange money. Isn't the internet so weird?).

Other sidenote: I am pretty sure my punctuation on that last sentence with the parenthesis was way off and I am sorry if that bothered you or you judged me for it. I get confused and flustered with commas and parenthesis. I have been told by many of teachers that I am too comma happy.

So besides having bear mace in hand and better flashlights than before (so I could peer into the woods every minute after it got dark), I still was unbelievably stressed out the first night. My anxiety level was at an all-time high and I honestly didn't fall asleep until the sun began to rise in the early am. From 8pm to 6am, I was convinced that a bear was sneaking up on me to maul me to death (or steal my marshmallows). Each night got a little bit better but I never did sleep through the night and had terrible nightmares when I did finally pass out. 

Wait...wasn't I supposed to be talking about awesome things, not how much of a freak I am now about bears? 

So on to the cool things...

/My husband made me some of his amazing guacamole to eat for lunch/dinner one day. I was in an avocado lover's heaven\

/We stayed at a campground called Cooper's Creek and it definitely lived up to its hype for our black lab Cooper. PS...we may or may not have been swayed on staying there because of the name.\

 You can see the creek in the background on the right hand side of the photo. 

/Cooper is a very good and appreciative camper.\


/Our camping trips consist mostly of reading, drinking, playing games and letting our inner pyros out.\

/On Monday, we hiked up a little bit of the Appalachian Trail which was a first for me and it was so incredibly beautiful. I have to remember that not all the pretty mountains are in Colorado. Although most are. Also, I get to cross this off of my 52 in 2013 list.\

/Guys....fall's coming. And isn't nature so cool.\

I hope you guys had a great labor day weekend and are pretty much recovered from whatever mischief you found yourself in. 

Linking up with Sami for some Shenanigans. 

PS....I'm embarassared to say how many shots it took to get this pic and now looking at it....I don't look all strong and awesome, just awkward and constipated. 

~ With Love, Ashlee ~

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August 20, 2013

Marathon Monday (on a Tuesday) - 4th Edition

I think this dog enjoys mocking me sometimes. I mean...I am supposed to be shaming him and he acts all bored and yawns. 

He's all like 'whatevs Mom. I'll vomit all over your favorite yoga pants and then proceed to rub it into the mattress because I do what I want.'

Well besides cleaning up puppy vomit, I spent the day doing chores because we have been little piggies lately and this place needs a deep cleaning. I was *almost* half way done and then that little guy set me back a few hours with his added mess (by the way...that mound of laundry in the background was what was on the bed that I washed today and was trying to put away).

Have I talked about vomit enough for you yet? Yeah? Good. Let's move on. 

I haven't done any sort of marathon training update in a bit, so I thought that I would fill you in on where I am at with my training, how it is going and whether or not I have pooped myself yet on a long run (hint: I haven't). 

Last week was an 'easy' week meaning that I had four runs total and they were 4, 7, 3.5 and 11 miles in length. Every few weeks is considered an 'easy' week on our plan. Basically the long run for that week is a few miles less than the previous weeks so your body can do a little bit of recovery. In other words, three weeks ago my long run was 13 miles, two weeks ago it was 15 miles, last week it was 11 miles and this upcoming week's long run is 16 miles.

This week is week 8 of the 17 week training plan. I have only missed one run (I think) that I didn't make up the next day so on that front, I am doing WAY better than the last marathon training plan. I think only running four days a week is perfect for me. Giving myself three non-running days a week really makes me happy and seems to push me to actually get out and run. Knowing that once I run I get the next off is a lovely and motivating thought. 

My running time is getting a bit better thanks to the cooler temperatures. I had a few long runs a month ago where I ended up at a 13:00 minute mile pace due to lots of walking and water drinking, but with my 8 mile and 11 mile long run last week where it was 70 degrees out when I ran, I averaged a 10:30 mile. I am curious to see how the 16 mile long run goes this week. I don't expect a 10:30 pace, but am shooting for an 11:30. 

On the weight loss front, I have been hovering between 149 and 150 lbs still. I've been around this for about three weeks now and haven't really noticed any changes in my body. I did get into a bad habit of eating way too much for about two weeks when I was PMSing, so this week I am working on fueling my body, but trying to not overeat. I have set a goal of trying to get to 145 pounds by September 26th (our 4 year wedding anniversary). Hopefully with eating better and this increased mileage, I can get through this weight loss plateau with a healthy 1 pound a week loss.

Also, something that I need to work on is drinking a lot more water. I did great for a few weeks and was consuming over 100 ounces a day, but with the poor eating habits came poor water consumption. I didn't drink enough water yesterday on my 11 mile run and got so insanely dehydrated afterwards. I had to work at one of the boutiques I sell at and actually ended up vomiting (a green smoothie no less!) while working because I had such a bad dehydration headache/nausea. Drink your water kids!!

And that's the last time I talk about vomit in this blog post. Promise!!

I am getting back on track though and am right around 70 ounces for the day. I have to chug some water soon to help me reach my daily quota!

Can I just interject and say that I am so happy that I work from home because when you drink so much water, I love just being able to walk 10 feet to pee. How do you office workers do it? Does everyone just think you have a bladder infection or something? I would be so self-conscious about it and imagine that I would always talk about how much water I drink to my co-workers so they didn't think I was ill or something. 

Back to running...

This week I am running 4 miles on Wednesday, 7 miles on Thursday, 4 miles on Friday, resting on Saturday with my long run of 16 miles being on Sunday. My long runs are usually on Saturday but I didn't do last week's long run until yesterday due to traveling so I am slowly moving my schedule around to get back to Saturday runs.

Along with that running schedule, I plan on adding strength training to my schedule twice this week on my 4 mile run days. I love the Jillian Michaels DVD, 'No More Trouble Zones' and will be doing that 45 minute DVD both days. I am hoping to get a little bit of muscle definition going and if I can handle the two times a week strength training sessions, I am going to add a third one in on one of my rest days. 

So .... that's about it! I was thinking about doing a blog post in a week or two about what I am eating during this training period as a vegan. Just in case you were interested in how the heck I get my calories.

By the way, sorry for the lack of photos in this post. I look pretty bad whenever I am done running, so those sorts of photographs don't happen often, but here is a random photo of me in running clothes with my husband and mother-in-law at the end of June. 

 Kind of related to the post right? 

Have a great night everyone!

~ With Love, Ashlee ~

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