No. 3

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Hey guys, while you weren’t looking I turned 27. It’s rare that a birthday makes me feel like I’ve entered a new stage of life, but this one did. Looking back on old Affichomanie posts, it’s interesting to see just how much my priorities and interests have changed. Although many of my goals haven’t changed, my 20’s Bucket List almost feels as if someone else wrote it.

By the way, it was a great birthday. Bryce and I had breakfast at Story Hill BKC then went school supply shopping for a fundraiser. That night we had dinner at Tre Rivali and they gave us a slice of olive oil cake with sea salt ice cream that was to die for.

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It was most definitely a summer full of weddings. In June, my friend Michelle was married in Kenosha and she brought all of our high school friends together again. It was so much fun to catch up and celebrate Michelle & Tyler.

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In July, my life long friend, Kyley, got married! I was honored to be a bridesmaid. Bryce, my mom, Beatrix, and I had a grand ol’ road trip to Ohio for the occasion. It’s always a blast to see Kyley and her family as they are practically family to us.

Kyley’s twin sister, Chelsea, and I came to the conclusion that our relationship most closely resembles that of cousins. We aren’t sister close and we don’t get to see or talk to each other constantly like best friends do, but we always check in on each other and when we are together it’s like a family reunion and it feels as if we’ve never been apart.

I was designated back-up hair stylist and there are far too many pictures of me making weird faces because I was afraid of screwing up fellow bridesmaids’ hair. It worked out. (These pics are the less weird ones.)

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Anyway, the weekend and wedding was beautiful. Biggest of congratulations to Kyley and Christian!

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In August, Noir got to be part of a fantastic wedding for an incredible couple. We worked for about a million hours straight, but it was so worth it. What a blast! (Details will be on the Noir blog so that’s all you get for now. Sorry.)

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Did you do anything besides attend weddings this summer, you ask. Why yes, yes I did.

I kissed my dog a lot. Look, we have matching hair.

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I hung out with my honey on a roof.

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I visited my dad’s old neighborhood and he gave me an excellent tour full of outrageous anecdotes. The stories, omg, the stories. Here’s his childhood home.

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I drank wine on a yacht in Chicago for work. My life is really hard, I know.

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I celebrated our third wedding anniversary in Chicago with Bryce. We ate at Antique Taco, shopped around (I bought clothes, he bought records), and we enjoyed Negroni slushies on a patio in the blazing heat. Worth it.

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We took a little anniversary staycation together and visited the Milwaukee Art Museum where we snacked outside at the lake. We visited the Boerner Botanical Gardens and Bryce rubbed every herb he could get his hands on. It was like a really delightful & endearing smell my finger joke all afternoon.

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I visited the Renaissance Faire with my family. My sunglasses broke approximately 60 seconds into the day so my dad picked and purchased my hat. It’s awesome, right?! We had a really fun day together eating cheese fritters and watching my dad excel at every game there is to play.

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And the biggest news of all, at least for me, I got glasses. I’ve never needed glasses and then I went to the DMV and discovered that my right eye stopped working. (I’m exaggerating…a little.) The nice man at the DMV told me not to worry. He said, and I quote, “As we get older our bodies go through changes” and “Don’t go home and cry about this now! You just might want to get your eyes tested.” I guess maybe it was a little obvious that I was FREAKING OUT. (I mean, I still passed the test so it’s not that big of a problem.) So essentially the deal is, my left eye is fine and dandy. I have astigmatism in my right eye and I really only need my glasses for driving at night. I also wear them when I’m working because they protect from blue light. It’s an adjustment, but I like them. Oh, and Bryce got glasses too! He looks like Clark Kent (insert heart eyes emoji here).

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Ta ta for now, folks!

No. 2

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Thought it would be nice to start us off with a hilarious photo of the sock thief-in-chief. This is Beatrix’s “Oh sh!t, you caught me!” face.

 

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So, hi. I wrote this post MONTHS ago and didn’t post it. I don’t understand myself at all. Enjoy.

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I hate to be one of those people that starts working out again and won’t shut up about it, but my goodness, I have turned into a limp noodle person. Last night I did the first workout of a fitness plan Colette coerced me into doing (okay, she didn’t really coerce me— this is done out of my own freewill), and now I hurt. Sitting in a desk chair all day with sore abs is not enjoyable.

The thing is, I eat pretty darn well until after dinner and then I want sweets and any exercise beyond walking my dog is a no-go. I don’t really need help in the food department beyond not letting myself eat dessert, but exercise? Uh. I go through waves of being really good at consistently working out and then waves of just not getting up off my butt at all. You can relate, right? RIGHT?!

It was a long winter, you guys. I did a lot of sitting and eclair eating. And now I’m a limp noodle.

So…ouch.

Oh, and I just realized the Great British Baking Show comes back in two weeks! Yeah, I’m done for after that—the show sends me into a baking frenzy. Why am I even trying?

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I’m learning html. I’ve known a teensy bit and use it at work and on websites I’ve put together here and there, but I’m actively trying to learn and use more. It’s a skill I’ve had on my annual personal goals list for a good couple of years. ‘Bout time I got around to it.

I built a little website with what I learned in a short online class I took and it was a blast. Maybe I’ll start building websites from scratch for people. Business number two!

I have at least ten business ideas and I have a plan in the works for a legitimate second business (related to Noir, an off-shoot you could say). I just can’t stop, you guys. I get comfortable in my new norms too quickly and then I need to change. I need to take up a hobby (napping?) instead of starting businesses.

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A couple of weeks ago I got to spend my work day at Willis Tower (Sears tower for you nit-picky people, you know who you are) with that view. It was a fun day of major learning and eating deep dish.

Also, Willis has an Argo Tea cafe which I really need to become a thing in Milwaukee. I mean, tea cafes?! YES. I had sparkling mint tea with lime juice + cane sugar. It rocked my socks off.

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I read yesterday that the best age to get pregnant according to fertility doctors is 25. And the average age is 26.3.

I’m 26.8 (I’M 27.1 NOW, JUST SAYING) so pretty much I’m already an old foagie who will never have children. I mean, that’s what I was supposed to get out of the story, right?

I’m actually really happy this information was shared on a popular website for women my age because, seriously, who are these pregnant 26 year olds? I don’t know any and maybe it’s because I’m generally surrounded by career oriented people?

Honestly, I feel regularly judged by people my age for already being married. I get a lot of, “Oh yeah, I forget you’re married.” and “Whoa, it’s weird to think someone my age has already been married for that long.” Heaven forbid I mention the idea of kids to some of my friends.

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I’m walking a fine line with how much I want to share about my life here. I really enjoy blogs where they go all out and you know the all of their life deets. You get to know the writer and then it turns into a whole supportive little community.

On the other hand, I’m a private person. It generally takes a long time for me to tell my friends, and even my family, the personal details of my life.

I find myself writing these personal posts on a regular basis and never making them public. I think about how I would handle the news or opinions I’m writing about if I were to talk to someone face to face and, frankly, I’d never divulge the same details I’m comfortable writing out.

I guess that’s just the way I need it to be right now.

P.S. Did I mention I’m bronde now?

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No. 1

As you can see, Affichomanie received an overhaul. I’m sure more changes are to come, possibly even a platform change, but this blog has felt stagnant and unappealing to me for a while. I needed some change in order to encourage myself to continue writing.

Since you last heard from me, I’ve been to other side of the planet and back. Then the other side of the country and back. And there’s been a whole lot of happenings in the middle.


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In February, Bryce and I celebrated our 9th Valentine’s Day together with a low-key day full of homemade food. It was the perfect quiet kind of weekend to have before heading to the Philippines just a few days later.

My boss (and friend!), Rebecca, and I jetted off from Milwaukee the following Saturday morning and arrived in Manila about 24 hours later. I don’t think I’ll ever complain about a “long” flight again after spending 18 hours in the air.

Thankfully, my company requires that we fly business class on that long of a trip. We were served huge meals, given unlimited access to movies, and had a decently comfortable chair/bed set up. As we boarded, the pilot even offered for us to come see the cabin while flight attendants walked around serving trays full of champagne, beer, and orange juice. Are you kidding me?! Living the high life.

I enjoyed the flights…to a point. I didn’t sleep very well on our way out, but I learned that turbulence over the ocean makes for an excellent action movie watching experience. Jurassic World with turbulence is a blast.

I got a bit upset toward the end of my long flight. I was over-tired and I missed Bryce & Bea. I didn’t want to be across the world from them.

I was so exhausted by the time we got on our final flight from Tokyo to Manila that I could barely keep my eyes open as they served what felt like the 50th meal I’d eaten in a day. Being that I’m a vegetarian, I’d requested special meals which were pretty decent…until they came back with a vengeance 24 hours later.

Yes, I got food poisoning in other country. SEVERE food poisoning. Miss the first night of work-style food poisoning. Simultaneous toilet and garbage can-style food poisoning. Near black out on the hotel floor-style food poisoning. Skype with the husband so he can watch whether or not I need medical intervention-style food poisoning.

It was horrific.

But I got 15,000 frequent flyer miles from Delta for it so *shrug*.

Once I’d recovered, the trip was pretty great. It was incredible to meet our team in Manila and we were able to accomplish so much. Our team works at night to accommodate US hours so time became irrelevant. We slept when we were tired, ate when we were hungry, and hung by the pool when we needed sunshine.

The last couple days of our trip were a total time flip. We left Manila and headed to Batangas on the southern side of the country for a weekend of team building and celebration on the beach. Hanging out with my new filipino friends was an amazing experience that I’ll never forget. I gorged myself on lumpia and locally grown fruit. I also found bugs in my hairbrush and was in desperate need of a hot shower…eh, it was worth it.

I felt oddly relaxed and comfortable in the Philippines. Normally, I’m an anxious over-thinker. I think I felt so chill because I had no control over anything–I just couldn’t worry. For example, the traffic there, oh my gosh. There are no road rules. None. You just swerve and speed and fit your car wherever you can fit it!

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I was thrilled to return home to my guy & pup. Jet lag is REAL, but soon enough, I was back in the swing of things with work & Noir. Colette has been the BPE (best partner ever) and really holds down the fort (with style) while I’m away. She’s my lifesaver and number 1 homegirl.

In March, Beatrix had her 2nd birthday. We spoiled her rotten with cupcakes and toys, obviously. Then Bryce and I took a nice staycation–we mostly slept and ate food. It was glorious. We hosted a little Easter brunch for my family at the beginning of the week and, at the end, my mom and I drove down to Illinois for Kyley’s bridal shower! It was a fun weekend with my second family.

In April, Rebecca and I became travel buddies again when we headed to Las Vegas for a fantastic conference. I feel so lucky that she finds me worthy of carting all over the planet. The work & life experience have been invaluable.

Once the conference began to wind down, our husbands joined us for a vacation! My parents watched Beatrix back home while we enjoyed a little pool time (I got a sunburn for the first time in YEARS) and ate incredible food at several restaurants–the best being B+B Ristorante. I also drank too much and gambled so…typical Vegas.

Until next time, friends!

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Manie

Life has been crazy and, as usual, Affichomanie has fallen to the back burner. I’m okay with that. I’m just going to write when I feel like writing and keep it casual. I really enjoy looking back on my old Manie posts and remembering what was going on in my life at different times. It’s like a more detailed Timehop.

My blog writing time lately has been spent over at noireventco.com. Launching Noir has been a blast and I couldn’t have done it with a better person, my partner-in-crime, sister from another mister, Colette. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished so far and can’t wait to see where we can take this business.

This week I went to Indiana for work. The trip was incredibly productive and fun. And it was my entrance into the world of airline points which will be fun to have after my trip to the Philippines next month. The idea of traveling to the other side of the world just blows my mind. I’m a little freaked out. But also pretty dang excited. Honestly, I’m just really going to miss Bryce and Beatrix. I don’t like being away from home for one night let alone a week and a half in another country. It’ll be great though…at least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

Anyway, here’s a photo history of what’s been happening in my life since my last update.

First trip to Indiana for a wedding in October:

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First hosted Thanksgiving:

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Snugglebug in Chief:

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Bryce’s art museum birthday:

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Christmas #9 with this handsome guy:

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Some crazy good brussels sprout risotto I made from the Plenty More cookbook:

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Second trip to Indiana for work. I’m a huge fan of hotel robes and sunset skies:

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Until we meet again, friends!

The Launch!

After many months of excitedly planning with my partner, Colette Cascio, we are thrilled to finally announce the launch of Noir Event Co.!

An event company. A place for anyone who wants a unique and beautiful event. Something timeless and sexy. Gorgeous and intimate. We believe weddings should be personal to you. Your love story deserves more than a cookie cutter wedding and we are so ready to rock this with you!

You may be wondering, where the heck did this all come from?

I started so many businesses growing up that I can’t remember them all. One, in particular, was a short-lived high school venture into event planning. Since then, as a side to my career in consumer relations, I’ve planned and catered my fair share of casual events along with a big one you may remember as my wedding. That’s where Colette comes in.

The immensely talented Colette Cascio is well known for her work as event manager for The Club at Strawberry Creek and, most notably (in Affichomanie world anyway), the coordinator for my wedding. She has a passion for this like I’ve never seen and a knowledge that is vital to a bride or groom planning their big day.

We knew the moment we started working on my wedding that we could create something incredibly special and so much bigger than one single event together. But neither of us wanted to be the weirdo that said, “WILL YOU PLEASE START A BUSINESS WITH ME?!” That is until a fatefully timed LinkedIn message led to a conversation that never ended and, finally, the pop of the big question. It’s a business love story and, after months of planning then breaking so we could get our personal lives in order (she started a new job then I started a new job…), here we are.

Along with kick ass graphic designer, Bryce Ulmer (aka my husband), we can offer even more than event design + coordination. I mean, people need to know you’re having a wedding, right?! Invitations, escort cards, menus galore. We can create the perfect customized suite to complement your event.

It’s important to note, throwing killer weddings isn’t our only forte. We are also thrilled to plan and coordinate corporate events, casual gatherings, and every other party in-between.

You’ll be hearing much more from Colette and I on Noir’s Blog and Affichomanie coming up soon. We’ll be sharing our advice, tips & tricks, and our favorite places & vendors throughout the Milwaukee/Chicago corridor. In the meantime, find & follow us on Facebook, Twitter,Pinterest and Instagram. And, most importantly, visit us on noireventco.com. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Xo,
Ashley

The Autumn Ten

  

The other night we were out a bit later than usual walking Beatrix. It was starting to get dark and Bryce was rushing us home by saying if we didn’t make it back before midnight we would turn into pumpkin…spice lattes. And a girl in yoga pants would come drink us. Hah, love that goof.

And that’s pretty much how I feel about Fall this year. It’s not even October and I am completely overwhelmed by the amount of pumpkin spice everything. It’s not that I don’t like pumpkin spice stuff…it’s just that I don’t like it enough to actually buy any of it. Maybe it’s because my introduction to the PSL was an accident that resulted in the ruin of my favorite jacket in high school. Stupid Starbucks gave me a PSL instead of what I ordered and they let me keep it (how generous…) so I brought it to school to give to a friend and spilled the orange nastiness on my cream jacket. It was never the same after that. Curse you, PSL!

I’m also not in the slightest bit excited for Halloween which is quite unusual. I couldn’t care less this year…I don’t even want to pull out my Halloween decorations. (Bryce seems to be pretty happy about this – he hates Halloween.) What I’m really looking forward to is Thanksgiving! I’m hosting this year. Eek! We’re two months out and I’m already obsessed with making plans. Gah, get a life, Ashley.

So about this Autumn Ten, I realized these seasonal lists always require me to spend money. And I don’t know, maybe someday I’d like a permanent residence and less debt, so this season’s list is a bit less pricey or at least a bit more financially conscious.

Geez, I’m such a downer right now. No pumpkin spice, no Halloween, no money, rawr!

Anyway, here’s what I want to do this season:

1. Host Thanksgiving for the first time. Does this mean I’m an adult?

2. Buy holiday gifts now. I just think it would be really nice if I didn’t have to drop a big chunk of change all at once. I already have my list made – just need to go shopping!

3. Geocache a bit. Bryce and I got really into it a few years ago and I was reminded of how much fun it is after listening to a podcast about the Forrest Fenn treasure.

4. Start a new blog series about baking my way through the Momofuku Milk Bar book. (See picture. That recipe is killing two autumn ten items with one stone. Thanksgiving dessert, baby!)

5. Check out some art galleries. We used to do this a lot too – it’s been a while.

6. Get a library card. I have this thing with books where I get really attached to them and I want to keep them forever and ever. I read ridiculously fast and I prefer to buy my books from our local book store, Boswell, which really just means that I spend A LOT of money on books. And I have to stop it. There is no reason for this madness when I have a library down the street. NO REASON! (Also, both of our bookshelves are overflowing and breaking. Whoops.)

7. Create a relaxing morning routine. The few times when I’ve actually woken up early I ended up having an awesome morning. I got a playlist going, packed really good food for the day, actually did my hair. It’s fantastic.

8. Farmer’s Market stock up! Yes, it’s that time of year again when I am completely depressed because my weekly farmer’s market visits are coming to end. So the next couple weeks will mean buying, prepping, freezing, and canning a lot of veg.

9. Plan a fun Chicago birthday for Bryce. His birthday is actually in December and we always lump it in with Christmas and Winter, but he’s actually more of a Thanksgiving baby. So, if you see us at the Art Institute in December, say hi.

10. Check Indiana off the travel bucket list. We’re headed to a wedding in Indianapolis and we’re trying to make a little weekend out of it. Any Indianapolis must see, must do, must eat recommendations?

Manie

Oh, hello there. Have you missed me? I missed you.
I don’t know though, you guys, I’ve really enjoyed my summer away from the computer. Not to say I haven’t been online, but I’ve been in more of a journaling than blogging mood. Obviously, I edit and sensor myself here. I needed my stream of consciousness writing the past couple of months and it left nothing in the tank for Affichomanie. I’m feeling ready to get back to it now. So here’s what I’ve been up to lately.

I got a few things checked off that Summer Ten list of mine. Check out my update here.

I turned 26 this summer and actually celebrated the occasion. I realized that I only celebrate my birthday about every 5 years. It’s not intentional…just seems to happen that way. Well, it’s been 5 years and I had the party itch so we hopped on a boat cruise & had dinner at Merriment Social with some of my favorite people. It was incredible amounts of fun.

Bryce and I just had our second anniversary and it was pretty magical. I bought us robes from the Iron Horse Hotel as an anniversary gift to ourselves and it was one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. Then we had dinner at Bacchus and it was incredible. I realize it’s only been two years (8 years together), but to us it feels like marriage is just getting easier. We’ve had a few trials and tribulations since we got married – a couple of job losses, car break-ins, and the raising of a new & crazy puppy, but our relationship has remained good. Really, really good. Let’s hope we continue to feel this way. Oof, I really like that guy.

Our anniversary also (weirdly) marks the occasion of Beatrix now being a year out from her spaying surgery. Remember puppy pajamas?! Holy macaroni, time flies when you’re snuggling a sweet pup. In this year we discovered Beatrix has weird teeth and food allergies like me. I swear if she weren’t a different species I’d believe she’s actually related to me. We also learned she loves sweet potatoes and hates bicycles. She is who she is! As a matter of fact, we have established that Bea’s life motto is, “I do what I want!” (Sometimes with a “mother****ers!” added to the end of it. She’s a pistol.)

I’m still really enjoying my new job. It’s been three months and my conclusions thus far are that I have the greatest boss, my co-workers are hilarious, I enjoy the work that I’m doing, and despite the stress and craziness that happens I still go home feeling pretty good about what I do. I feel valued and I can’t ask for much more than that.

I know I’ve been promising and hinting at new adventures for quite a while and still nothing. But it’s coming. I SWEAR. Just hold tight.

Cheers to the end of an incredible summer!