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!

   
    
    
 

The Summer Ten

  

1. Lay on a beach and drink champagne. (AKA Pretend I’m Beyoncé.)

I did lie on a very little beach at a pond and drink sparkling water. Close enough. It turns out I’m not actually Beyoncé. Who knew?

2. Find a batting cage. I can’t even remember the last time I did this, but I think it would be a really fun date.

This did not happen, but we did go on a little Par 3 golfing date. I’m infinitely less terrible at golfing than expected. I’m not saying I’m good…I’m just not terrible. And I really enjoyed it!

3. Eat at as many rooftop/outdoor restaurants as possible.

Yes, eating is never a problem. The past couple of summers have included a near weekly coffee outside at Stone Creek. Otherwise, we’ve been eating out quite a bit less than we have in the past. However, we did dine al fresco at Café Hollander, Wolf Peach, Stack’d, and a few others. What is it about eating outside that feels so wonderful? 

4. Work on developing a hobby. I’m leaning towards drawing right now.

I don’t know. I just…don’t …know. I think my hobby is reading. Can that be a hobby? I believe right now I’m on my 8th or 9th book for the season. I always associate summer with reading. Probably because I grew up with Harry Potter and every summer when the new book came out, I would lock myself in the house and read straight through. Oh, Harry, I miss you. 

5. Bake a few seasonal pies. I’ve already made a blubarb pie (blueberry + rhubarb). Pie dough from scratch is worth the effort.

Yes, some pie happened. I even went to a pie class. Right now, I’m trying to wean myself off of sugar so I made a veggie pot pie with leftover dough from the pie class. That counts, right?
6. Two words: CABIN. WEEKEND.

Cabin vacation with my parents! Mauston, WI is a weird town, my friends. 

7. Find a pool and…swim in it.

Where are the pools? I honestly don’t know.

8. Have a shopping day in Chicago.

Poor. Too poor.

9. Finally get to a Cubs game.

Yes, thank you, new job, for the sweet suite.

10. Get a new car + fix up the Jetta.

This happened, hence the “too poor” from number 8. We are now the proud (embarrassed) owners of two silver Jettas. This was not intentional, but it happened anyway.

Manie

Oy. I’ve been writing posts and just not…posting them. Because I’m incredibly lazy. It’s outrageous.

To catch you up, I’m halfway through the third week at my new job. This is what I wrote after the first week:

Time flies when you start a new job. It was a nice first week and I’m feeling good about it. I got a teensy bit emotional on my first day because it really hit me that I’m not going back to my old company and that I won’t get to easily chat with my mom during the day (my mom worked for the same company, in case you didn’t know).

It’s been surprisingly easy to adjust to my new hours too. I am NOT a morning person so I used to mosey into the office around 8:30. Well, in my new job, the day starts at 7:30. I thought that it would kill me, but it’s actually been just fine and I can thank Bryce for a lot of the ease…he’s been completely taking care of Bea in the morning which is quite a relief. And my commute is shorter which makes me much happier than I thought it would.

Every day I get home, take Bea on a little walk and get started on dinner. We are finished eating by 6:30 and I don’t even know what to do with myself. So much time! It’s wonderful. 

Bryce has a few vacation days he has to use by the end of the month so he has every Friday off in June plus a few extra days. Which meant on Friday he was home and bored and watching an Anthony Bourdain marathon. It’s always great when Bryce watches Tony because he gets hungry for delicious food. So, when I arrived home that night, the counter was full of freshly made pasta, a plate of burrata, and a plate of truffles from Indulgence Chocolatiers. World’s greatest husband (and world’s fattest wife)! 

Saturday was the first South Shore Farmer’s Market of the year. We’ve made a vow to go early in the morning this year and we did, but I slightly regret it because the weather was crap and cleared up a couple hours later. That’s okay though because I got lunch with my friend (and former co-worker) Sara at Story Hill BKC afterward which was fun and delicious. Since I had been to the market that morning, I’d already had a morning bun and wasn’t too hungry for lunch. So I ordered the avocado toast which was actually quite large and delicious. Not your run of the mill avocado toast – this was two huge pieces of bread with lentil spread, avocados, cucumbers, radishes, olive oil, salt & pepper served alongside a little arugula salad. Holy yum. Oh, and I had a raspberry Italian soda because why not?! Thanks again for lunch, Sara. I owe you some more Noodles! 

Sunday was GARLIC FEST. You may remember from last year that, in my humble opinion, it is the world’s greatest little festival. I ate some yummy food and drank a few weird little cocktails. We took Beatrix out, but she was a little freaked I think because a giant festival just popped up on her street. She’s fine when we take here somewhere else – like the farmer’s market, for example. But when a giant group of people and tents and music show up on her street…it’s a little freaky. 

Anyway, at Garlic Fest I ate mushroom & garlic arancini from Black Sheep, asparagus, mushrooms & garlic from Blue Jacket (they had gnocchi but ran out very early), a spring roll from Meraki, garlic & chive cheese curds from Clock Shadow Creamery, garlic ice cream from Purple Door (somehow this was really good), and a couple of truffles from Indulgence Chocolatiers. I had sangria from Braise, a dirty hipster from Central Standard, and some kind of dill-ish cocktail from Bittercube. I couldn’t eat much else due to allergies or meat or places just running out of food. That’s okay, I still got my fill and had a good time.  
Alright, update time. I’m still enjoying my job and feeling like I really did make the right decision.

The new hours are starting to catch up with me a little bit. I’m just tired, but still doing pretty well with getting up and out the door in a timely manner. I must say, I feel the earlier mornings are worth it for longer evenings. Don’t get me wrong, I like my sleep in the morning, but that’s all I would do. Now I have more time to do…well, anything. It’s quite lovely.

Oh and my commute is glorious. I didn’t have to get gas for a week and a half, you guys. A WEEK AND A HALF!

Other than that not too much has been happening lately. Lots of making plans – family time, dinners with friends, baseball games, Summerfest, cabin weekend, so on and so forth. It should be a fun summer.