Thursday, December 4, 2014

'round these parts

Whoa!! Where did the time go?! I've clearly been slacking. So let me just sum up the fun parts of the last two months.

My a-dorable primary kids (that I've adopted) did an AMAZING job on their primary program sooo we had a little party! Cookies, chips, drinks, Rice Krispie treats...we got them nice & sugared up and then sent them on their way home....I'm pretty sure I'm Public Enemy Number One in our ward.

After yeeeears of hearing about Lush products and how awesome they are and how cool they are and how great they feel and blah blah blah, I FINALLY got to see what the hype was about. Technically, the cooler part is that they opened this giGANtic mall in Sarasota, which is really cool. They have almost every store you could ever think of or want in your mall. But. They opened a Lush store. And Lush & I have found each other.*Hallelujah* Seriously, I could spend my entire day there just smelling things. Ahhh. If you don't have one around you, just wait. Someday you'll get your chance too. (Or visit me and I will hook you UP!)

This one is SUPER popular and is called..."Sex Bomb." Must be REALLY good! Haha

Sometimes, Florida really freaks me out. If I had a dime for every bug I have killed here, I could retire right now. And the wildlife is NUTS! Alligators, turtles, giant birds, raccoons, I mean I live in the freakin jungle! And then, the other night, James made me pause everything and we heard something outside. When he looked out the window, he laughed and was like "It's an armadillo. He's stuck in our backyard." I THREW the blanket off our bed and ran over to the window! AN ARMADILLO. Since I was a kid, I thought they were so cool but it was one of those animals you almost forgot was a real life, not-mythical creature. I'd never seen one alive & moving so I was more than thrilled!! Except about the part where he couldn't find his way back out of our yard. Poor little guy. But he was gone in the morning so he figured it out.

Okay, so I don't know about you guys. Maybe this is just me. But I have always wanted to have a "signature dish." Doesn't matter what it was or for what occasion, but something my name is behind that people crave. I've always dreamed of someone being like "Ashley, you're bringing ____ right?! It's my favorite!! It's sooooo good!! This event wouldn't be the same without it! You absolutely have to!" And then I'd win Trophy Wife of the Year, along with several other Chef-type awards. Well this year....I think I did it. And it was with this little beaut!

Okay so the picture doesn't make it look all the great, but do NOT let that fool you. I made this THREE, yes you read that right, THREE times during the Thanksgiving season. Work potluck, and two Thanksgivings. Everyone who tried some had nothing but amazing things to say and although I kept cool as a cucumber on the outside, inside I was squealing like a maniac! It's my Sweet Potato Casserole with a marshmallow and streusel topping. Oh mama. It was good. And I finally feel like I have accomplished MAJOR adult and wife milestones. Haha

And I think that's it! All the way up until Thanksgiving, which will be it's own. I mean, we got to have TWO!! That definitely deserves its own little post. Hope everyone is having a BLAST with all the holiday fun happening! I know we are!

Sunday, November 2, 2014


I'm pretty upset we had no trick-or-treaters this year. I see you kids riding your bikes around everyday so I know you're around. I know where you guys live!....Wait, that came out wrong. But seriously, we just want to give you free candy and see your costumes!! Is that too much to ask?

Luckily, we got to hand out candy as our ward's Annual Trunk or Treat. Handing out candy is like a rite of passage into adulthood. The tables have finally turned and now WE want to be the cool parents that has a reputation around the neighborhood! We even bought the good kind of candy. The expensive stuff....well actually, all candy is expensive, but you get my point--we had all the making of a historic Halloween. Guess I set my goals a little too high because I ended that night in bed, soothing myself with Friends and all the Swedish Fish I wanted. Ha! That'll teach 'em.

Anyway, back to Trunk or Treat. I assumed that people would automatically know who we were. Expected too much again. None of the teenagers had even seen Castaway, and then there's all the older folks who never got around to seeing it! That left a small percentage of people of us in the middle who, thank goodness, made a big deal out of it when they saw us. Because I have to admit, it took a LOOOOT of convincing to get James to dress up with me. Whatever we chose basically had to be made with anything we already had in our house, but had to be totally mind-blowing too. That didn't leave me with a TON of options, but I think we turned out pretty great! And we put some serious work into our costumes. My little artist of a husband painted Wilson on my shirt and I have to say, NICE WORK. I made the wings for his box so I guess I contributed. (Even though it's October, Florida hasn't caught up. It's still pretty warm. Hence why I had to modernize my costume)

Our ward always does a Chili Cookoff and normally, I am SO excited for James's family's recipe. Mmmm. But none of them could come. So I'm glad there was such a selection! It's always so dang good.

This is my friend Melissa's family!! HOW awesome were their costumes!? Wendy, Tinkerbell, Peter Pan, and his shadow! I loved it! I had to show them off. So cute and clever.

 I have to say, maybe it was just me, but the eating part of it was VERY short this year. Haha We had to do it on a Wednesday night so we did everything pretty quickly. I was so excited it was such a good turnout with TONS of people, old and new.

It was dark, but I had to show you the madness that was the Trunk or Treat part! It was awesome!! Look at all the fun costumes! My ward is so much fun. (I'm so excited there's so many people that keep moving in! SCORE!) Sorry about the terrible quality. I use my little ol' iPhone for ALL my picture taking, so this was as good as it was going to get.

There's our bishop! Hey Bishop!

My friends Shalane, Heidi and I took over candy duty while the boys took the kids around. That's what is happening in this picture, but how cute are my friends?! Together, they had Waldos (Where's Waldo), Minnie Mouse, Prince Charming, Cinderella, Dopey, and Cinderella's Fairy Godmother. Haha They're so much fun.

Halloween night was much more mellow. (I didn't get very many pictures for that reason) We waited as long as we could, no kids came, so we headed to Zach and Ana's for dinner. I insisted we had a Halloween themed meal so we had "Mummies" (smokies in Crescent rolls) and Creepy Crawler Nachos. (Since the black beans kind look like little bugs, right?) They were spook-tacular!!

We watched a movie, as is tradition, and then headed home. I was still hoping for a doorbell ring, but it never came. Sigh. Maybe someday I can experience the joy that is giving out the good candy at "the awesome house." But I will say, Friends and Swedish Fish made me feel MUCH better.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

surprise of a lifetime!

My aunt & I had been planning the sneakiest of plans for MONTHS and it finally all came around this last weekend. One week ago exactly actually.

During the end of July, I got a text from my aunt asking if we'd consider coming for her 50th birthday party if they helped us out financially to come. I didn't even hesitate!! Of COURSE I was going to accept...even though I felt guilty accepting something SO great and I didn't even ask James before I said yes. Haha But I would not pass up the chance to come back to Arizona (where I grew up and where all my extended family lives) for a couple of days to spend with my entire family! So away we went with the sneaky planning. James was SUCH a trooper throughout the whole thing. He is VERY much a planner (including plan B's and C's) and since we would be flying standby, you really don't get to have a plan. So I felt bad for him. Every time he had questions, there wasn't much to tell him. "We just have to wait and see!"...Poor guy. I told my dad, and my two brother-in-laws in order to make sure they'd get their wives here. Somehow my other sisters found out. Grr. But at least my mom & little sister would be surprised!

Anyway, so the day we were flying out, we found a flight that could work, but it was pretty full. So we took our chance...and we weren't let on. BY ONE SEAT. The guys at the desk were such teases, saying things like "Oooh, today might be your lucky day!" and "It's looking good!" but the man whose seat we were going to take showed up at LITERALLY the VERY last minute. And I was not going to split up with my little hubby, no way! So we got bumped to the next flight going out and left the airport. We got YUMMY lunch, did a little shopping, and of course, spent some time at James's very favorite store--Bass Pro.

Ps-Yes, James flew in his NICEST clothes so that they wouldn't wrinkle.
I, however, flew in your basic "I'd rather be comfy" clothes...yikes.
I'm sure people were giving him weird looks all day.

Ooooh Chipotle. After an exhausting morning, this was sooo heavenly.
When we got back to the airport, we were so happy not to have to check bags in (packed everything into two carry-ons) and made it to the gate early. This flight looked really promising so we were not too worried, and we were able to make it onto the next flight to Charlotte.

Once we landed, we noticed our tickets said that we were on the late flight to Phoenix, leaving at 8pm. Oh heck no. We'd spent all day in airports and on a plane, AND let me say BOTH James & I had colds. So we were pretty spent. No way were we going to get to Arizona at midnight (that's 3am our time!) so we RAN all the way across the airport to get to an earlier flight at 6:00. We crossed our fingers and asked...and made it right on. YES!

Finally, we made it to Phoenix and I was SO excited when we walked outside and there was my aunt & uncle waiting for us. My Aunt Laura came running up and hugged us and that just set the tone for the whole trip. I got SO SO excited.

We all went out for some Chinese food and to discuss how we would surprise my mom & my little sister. We were going to wait for them at the hotel...until we found out they wouldn't be there close to 11:30. So James and I went back to their house to shower and rest a little. But I couldn't! I was too excited. The plan was to tell my mom when she came that my cousin Julie (me) was sleeping on the couch and to wake her up to say hi. Here's how it went...

It was perfect!! Exactly what I wanted. She laughed, she cried, and best of all, my dad kept the secret!! So she was TOTALLY taken off guard. Poor James had fallen asleep in the other room by then so he sleepily came in and they all got excited all over again. They haven't seen James in over a year--he didn't get to come on my last trip there so they were all really excited to get to hang out with him too. I was SO excited to get to see the three of them. Every single time I thought about that moment, I giggled out of excitement. And I was not let down! It was even better than I imagined. Anyway. That was Day One. It's getting long so I'll write about the rest of the trip in another post...probably two since my aunt's party is probably enough for one in itself. 

THANK YOU Aunt Laura, Uncle Brad, and my cousin David for getting this all together. It was SUCH an amazing trip and I can't believe how giving you all are. I will never ever forget it! Love you guy so much! (And stay tuned for the next post!)

Monday, September 8, 2014

promotion? you could say that...

Random post time.

In the LDS church, we are given special duties. These are called "callings," and for the last little while, I have been in the primary working with FUN kids and an even more fun group of adults in a "presidency" as a second counselor. My second calling was to hold activity nights for these sweet little youngins so that they can complete a program called "Faith in God." Every other week, I look at their little book of requirements of things to do to finish them and come up with an activity or lesson (or both!) for each one. My favorite ones are always the ones the deal with developing their talents because we get to do fun stuff like this!

They were decorating church bags to hold their scriptures and any other things they needed at church (like things they got in their classes). I found them at the Target dollar spot and they went CRAZY! I taught them how to use a glue gun (and yes, was right next to them every moment) and gave them all kinds of things to use. They loved it! I can't wait to see the girls carry their creations in with them every Sunday! They did SUCH a great job! (And I have to say, high fives to me for the easiest earning of "Okay, you're our favorite now" EVER! Whoo hoo!)

WELL. Recently, I was released from the Faith in God leader calling and was given another calling...Primary. President. Yeah, I know. WHOA. Second counselor I figured I could handle. I'm pretty okay with following directions. But now, I am the one that will be GIVING those directions! It's intense, but I have to say...I am REALLY excited! I love those kids so much and I can't wait to teach them and learn all about them and help them grow strong in the gospel!

But I am sad because with such a big calling, it means I will probably have to give up leading the girls' activity nights. I'm actually very sad about that. They are SO much fun and I have grown to love and appreciate every single one for exactly who they are. Some of the most touching moments have been when they have confided in me about something going on in their lives-crushes, friend problems, sometimes even bullies and mean girls. Those talks have meant more to me than any other thing I have done in this ward so far. I love them SO much and their little spirits are just amazing.

I had to dedicate at least one post to tell you how amazing each of them are. I hope every member of the church gets to work with the youth at some point in their life, especially at the age. In primary. It's the BEST and you grow so much learning from them. I love you girls! I am SO happy I got to be with you every other Wednesday night this past year. You are all SUCH amazing girls and I am not going ANYWHERE! So I hope you still feel like you can come to me for anything! Gosh. Gettin a little emotional here...Okay we're good. Now let's get a replacement who will KNOCK your socks off!! :)

Friday, August 1, 2014

live list.

Good morning everyone! I am in a VERY cheerful mood this morning and therefore, I felt like I could get in a pretty good blog post!

Ever since we got back from New York, I've been feeling a little antsy. Most times, I feel like when people take a vacation, they go & relax & come back and just want to be lazy, since they've had such a nice break. Totally understandable. But in my case, I've been the opposite! When we were there, every single day, we were up + out and taking on new adventures! I had no idea where the day was going to take us and we were hardly ever inside--we were out enjoying the gorgeous scenery and soaking up all the cities had to offer, I even ate on the porch almost every single day. I LOVED it!

So now that we're back, I've been having this itch to explore and go on more adventures! Luckily, I married someone who has my back and felt the same way. James has been watching this show here called "How to do Florida" and we've been getting so many ideas of things we can do locally! It's pretty awesome, I have to admit. They teach you things you can cook, things you can do, things to find...we just can't wait to get started!

Besides that, or I guess adding to that, I've been following this cute little lady on Instagram and she does this thing called a "Live List." Guys. Live lists. Are. Awesome. James + I already have a bucket list in motion, but I like her idea a bit more. Here's how she explains it...

It has things like learn to trapeze, go to Africa, do a service mission, buy a stranger a pair of shoes, etc... I don't see it as a bucket list- because there is no expectation of time or expiration-- but more of a celebration of life and what I hope mine will be. This list has taken me places and opened me up to more than I could have imagined - so naturally as a mom I want similar for my family. Soooo, five years ago we started putting together family lists. We call them our LIVE LISTS. #jensenfamilylivelist. The process is fun, (We all get together with treats and popcorn and have a brainstorming session) and the rule is, that there are no rules- dream big, think small, be silly. Of course we get some crazy ideas, but we try to let the kids talk through each one and decide why it would/wouldn't be a good idea to i.e.: tear down the house and build an amusement park to live in…(a serious contribution our first year). As we talk our list starts to form and we start to give our ideas more detail. We try to make sure we have a little of everything: service, fun, events coming up, everyday activities and at least one family getaway even if its just to the back yard. We put the list together as a family and when we are almost done- each person gets to pick one (reasonable) thing that can’t be vetoed by anyone else to put on the List. Those are usually the best. We do ours by season (hence the #jensensummerlivelist) and keep it in the kitchen so it's always visible on days we need a little extra help finding the magic in life!...Anyway, I've tagged some of our photos #jensenfamilylivelist In case you'd like to start your own and need some ideas. Xx

I LOVE that. So I've been taking her advice and adding to our bucket list things that are a little simpler, things that I've taken for granted. Instead of a list of things James & I would like to do, it's becoming a list of things I can't wait to do with James and our family, which should really be the whole point right?

James & I at Niagara Falls
Where I once had things like "Make a wish at the Trevi Fountain in Rome," I traded it for things like "jump on a trampoline with a sprinkler on" or "ride a train." And now that I've made it a little more simple, it's kind of cool to see all the things I can actually check off now! And checking things off lists is pretty much what I live for. For example, just thanks to last week, we...

Went to a farmer's market

✓ Went to a demolition derby
✓ Went to the fair
Built a fire and got toasty

Do something that with my lover that he loves to do...check.
So. The point is I need to stop taking little moments and little adventures for granted. Because once I get to have little ones, those things are going to be the things that stick out to them. They were for me! Things like a living room campout with my sisters, Saturday Dairy Queen trips with my dad, getting to help decorate the outside of our house for Halloween, jumping on the trampoline with the whole family, running through the sprinklers when we were kids. Simple things, but my parents made the time to do those things with us and those almost mean more to me than any Christmas present I ever got. I am so excited to one day do this with my kids and make so many family memories! I hope you get to do the same and good luck making YOUR family Live Lists!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

home of the brave.

I hope everyone had the BEST fourth of July weekend! How awesome is it that it fell on a Friday?! YAY for not having to go back to routine weekday life tomorrow!!

This year, our fourth of July came in two parts. Part one was at James's parents' house. We had a nice BBQ there with TONS of food-potato salad, chips, beans, burgers, hot dogs...and of course, desserts. Every holiday must have yummy desserts. It's a rule!

I was in charge of making some star spangled cupcakes (I LOVE getting dessert assignments!) It was also Zach's dad's birthday, so I wanted to make sure they were that much more spectacular than just regular, boring, everyday cupcakes....but they weren't. I think they were just alright. I made marshmallow frosting from scratch, but didn't take into account that I now live in Florida., and it melted on the way to their house.

His mom also made that fabulous fruit pizza! And yes, it was just as delicious as it looked.

Then came part two. We headed over to Greg & Tammy's (aka: The Party House) for another BBQ, some swimming, eating, chatting, and of course, some World Cup watching. And did I mention eating?

I also got to spend some quality time with my favorite little buddy. His first one!

But one of the most FUN parts was the fireworks. Of course! They gave everyone glow sticks and let the kids stay (and take them) in the pool while the fireworks were going off. 

We can NEVER get a good night shot. Dumb blur. :/
I do not know why it looks like I have braces, but I have so much fun with this guy.
I couldn't help but put this picture up!

But our firework show started off...with a bang I guess you could say. I was SO lucky to be taking a video right at the right moment! Talk about a fail! But it sure was hilarious and now you get to see it too!

We hope everyone else had a very safe Fourth of July!! I love this holiday. It gives me the chance to show off my country pride! I am so grateful for all of the sacrifices that went into getting this country where it is today. I count my blessings I live in a place where I have the freedom to be who I am. I am so grateful for every soldier who ever bravely faced their worst nightmares so that I can live freely. Their sacrifices will never be forgotten. I am thankful for presidents up until now who have shown courage to stand against our enemies and unite us and live for the good of the people. I definitely don't agree with our president now, but as the leader of this great nation, I sure say a lot of prayers in his behalf. I am grateful for the music of those who are able to put my feeling about my country into beautiful songs that touch my heart every time I get the chance to hear them. I am just so thankful to live in such a beautiful country that I get to live in every single day. I truly feel so blessed every single day. I'll defend it until the day I die. So HAPPY AMERICA DAY everyone! I hope you're just as proud to be an American as I am! Love you all! 

xoxo, the Andersons

Monday, April 28, 2014

healthy & happy.

A lot of people have been seeing and commenting about how I have been going to "Boot Camp" since December. [Ps-all of the posts on my ole Facebook are because we are supposed to check in & be accountable and sometimes we can win stuff if we have the most!] Some people (like James's sweet grandma) have told me how I actually do look like I'm getting more fit, to which I will just about hug them to death.

But it's been a little difficult personally because I'm one of those silly minded people who think they will see immediate results. So. Not. The case. It's not that I am not seeing or feeling results, because that's a whole different story. I actually see my muscles starting to grow in my legs and calves. My arms are really weak, probably even the weakest part of my body, but even those are getting stronger. It's much slower than I would like, but it's working! That's what matters!

My problem is my abs & "love handles," and I know I am not getting results for two reasons: my diet & my lack of running. I hate running. Especially in this hot hot weather. But almost every single person in my class runs at least a couple of times a week. They are champs. They all do mud runs and fun runs and 5Ks and everything! And then there's little ole me. Who makes it three times a week to class, if that. I am in charge of Faith in God activities every other week and it's really hard to make both, so I skip Wednesdays every other week, which is even more lame because Wednesdays are PARK DAYS, when we go work out at a local park. Look at what I am missing. Tsk tsk.

But it's such a good feeling to get my exercise in. I'm pretty proud of myself and how far I've come since December. It's definitely a slooooow process, but I'm a work in progress.

Now sticking to an actual diet is hard! I feel like it really limits all of the yummy food this world has to offer! I was doing well and really trying to count my calories for a while, but it was just awful for me. I tried to eat the same exact things for lunch and breakfast and it was just miserable. Everything lost its flavor and was not exciting. It was working, and I was doing great calorie-wise, but it took all the enjoyment out of food altogether.

But now, I am trying to really stick to a new, happier, healthier way of eating. Just making healthier food choices. Small desserts, fresh foods from our garden, and eating a good breakfast every single morning to kick start the day have really been doing me good. 

In fact, today I was able to complete the entire white board. My trainer puts these up for us to do when she can't make it (she's a wife & a mom too! Seriously my inspiration!) and usually, I get through about half or three-quarters because I have to stop so much from getting so winded! It's hard work! But I got through every single thing today AND threw in a couple laps outside to break them up. I'm so proud of myself!

Red, splotchy arms is my FAVORITE thing to see! Take that cellulite!
So I wanted to post this to say don't get discouraged. You are a work in progress. You make your own choices every single day and you should celebrate every single victory. Work hard. Visualize your goals and charge ahead for them, nothing holding you back. I don't like to limit myself. If I want to snack on something sweet, I should be allowed to do that! One cookie won't hurt you. A dozen could. 

For myself, I stopped craving the bad stuff once I gave it up. I never eat fast food anymore. I never drink soda. However, I have trouble with my sweet tooth. So I try to choose healthier options-popsicles made with real fruit & coconut water. Banana "ice cream." Fruity smoothies. You can overcome your weaknesses too. You should never have to "suffer" through your food! Just try something new!" Read your food ingredients. Look for food that only contains a small amount of ingredients at all. And the more natural & normal they sound, the better! Abs are made in the kitchen." I've heard that, you've heard that. You have to just go for it! Try something new every single day and open up your options. It saved me!

Also, I've learned the key to a good workout is to switch up your diet and switch up your exercise. By eating better, I've seen myself gain SO much energy! I used to never be a morning person and now I sleep well and rise early. And exercising every part of your body is important, and it's not easy. There is NO such thing as a quick fix. It just doesn't work that way. So love your body and give it the TLC it needs. Take care of it like you would a BRAND new beautiful car. Fix what needs to be fixed, but love every detail. 

Change is a good thing! It's just getting past those first few hurdles. I'm definitely not an exercise or health guru. These are just the things that I've learned and that work for me. Find what works for you! Don't be scared! There are hundreds of people who got where you are and gave up. Beat those odds and show off your stuff! I can do it and so can you!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

busch gardens.

This weekend was my first time I have ever been to Busch Gardens! For some reason, people here are always really shocked when I say that and it makes me laugh. :)

My cousin was in town for the weekend so we were heading in their general direction to see if maybe we could get together at some point during the day. [Sadly, that wasn't able to happen] My in-laws had got both of us season passes to Busch Gardens as a combined birthday/graduation gift and we were getting antsy to use them. So we decided to just get up and go on Saturday, early enough to miss the crowds.

However, I am realizing that the older I get, the more motion sick I get. :( Granted, we were in the heat all day with no food or water (we didn't want to take anything in!) but it's pretty sad to see that clearly, I can no longer ride with the big dogs. After the third roller coaster, I thought for sure I was going to be sick. I was dizzy, nauseous, and I had started to black out  But I tried to make sure that James couldn't see how gross I felt because I knew how excited he was to take me on all the roller coasters and show me around. What kind of wife would I be to rain on his parade? But thank goodness that James was a little woozy too because it saved me from a grisly experience in the bathroom, I know it!

Besides roller coasters, Busch Gardens is basically half zoo. We came on a really lucky day because we got to see the alligators fed raw, frozen chicken breasts and that only happens twice a week! We got to hear a cute story about how good a little young elephant did as she had her blood taken that morning. :) Elephants are so stinkin cute.

These little guys decided to get a little posy. Look at that crocodile smile! ;)
They may be pretty, but we could smell them a mile away!
Legitimate Egyptian statues.
Riding the SkyTram to the other side of the park!
We ended up leaving after about four hours. We had made our way around the entire park and ridden almost every ride we wanted to hit (James missed out on one, I missed out on two--I had to let him go alone on the last one) and we did have season passes, so we will come back and can do anything we miss. We finished our little adventure with a pretty cool show that released real birds to fly around the audience! But ten minutes in, James said "Ok, forget the last ride. After this, we are leaving. I'm STARVING." "Me too!"

So then we ate a nice, yummy, well-deserved lunch at Carrabba's, did a little shopping at the outlets (I FINALLY got new shoes for my workouts!), and cooled off with a Frosty. By then, we were just so exhausted & hot & smelly that we decided it was time to head home.

I'm sorry, I'm just SO excited to have shoes that won't kill my
feet! Aren't the pretty!? :)

But all in all, I think I'd give the park an A! I hope when we come back with our kids someday that I will be able to ride with them, but it's nice to know that the animals are always a nice back-up for old ladies like me. :)