Monday, October 13, 2008

My Very First Nestie Get Together!

Many of you that know me know that within the past year I have discovered a new obsession- It is a great site that offers everything that a newlywed couple could possibly need: advise on everything from dinner ideas, budgets and buying a home to pets, romance and decor ideas. And there are message boards for each topic. My personal favorite is the "Decorating & Renovating" board. I never really pegged myself as the message board type, but after "talking" to a lot of the girls on there I've been shocked to find a fantastic source for not only inspiration for my home but friendship and camaraderie as well. I've met some wonderful girls on there, some of which I consider myself closer to than some of "IRL" friends (in real life). Crazy, I know. Well, along with all of the national boards, there are also locals. Michigan boasts two: The Detroit board and the Grand Rapids board. The local boards don't seem to move nearly as fast as the others, so sometimes I forget to visit as often as I should. I've really tried to make an effort lately to get to know some of the girls there, so I was really excited when I found out that they were going to be having a get together not too far for me to join in.

So yesterday Abbey, Lola and I loaded up and made the drive down to Yates Cider Mill in Rochester. The traffic and parking were terrible, there were swarms of both people and bees and the line was WAY too long for cider and doughnuts, but we FINALLY found the table full of "Nesties". What a great bunch of girls! I joined in a little late and it was obvious that most of them knew each other much better than I did, but we still had a great time. It was really nice to spend some time with some girls that were in the same boat as me. Newly married, buying their first homes, new parents (or thinking about it soon!)...some other girls even brought their dogs as well. I would like to give a shout out to Izzy the Chihuahua, the littlest dog with the biggest attitude! CoCo the Boxer and Molly the German Shorthair were awesome too, as were the girls that owned them! Also, congrats again to Momma Renee on her new beautiful baby boy. So exciting! I can't wait to get together again soon, and I look forward to getting to know these girls even better. What a wonderful way to make new friends. God only knows you can never have too many!

After the group dispersed, Abbey and I had a little girl time, just the two of us (and Lola!). Sometimes we need that. Between ice cream, pony rides and wading in the river, Abbey decided that she likes Nestie get togethers too! The weather was perfect, is was sunny and warm, and the colors were beautiful. What a great day to spend at the cider mill. Hopefully next time we'll get to bring home some cider!

By The Power Vested In Me...

A little back story: Tony's best buddy Josh is a riot. There is nothing that Josh could tell me that would shock me at this point. He's one of my favorite people ever. So needless to say, I wasn't all that surprised a year or so ago when Josh told us that he is now an ordained minister. I'm not sure who it was he got ordained to marry (I think a cousin or something), but he's ordained none the less. So a couple of months ago when my coworker/friend came into my office freaking out that she was getting married and had everything booked, reserved and planned OTHER than the officiant, being the total smart ass that I am, I told her "Screw it, if you can't find anyone else to do the ceremony, I'll do it!!!". I figured, what the hell? If Josh can get ordained, so can I damn it. I never actually thought she'd take me up on it.

So fast forward a couple of months. Saturday afternoon I conducted my first ever wedding ceremony. Yup, I am officially an OCP (Ordained Clergy Person). You don't get a cool title unless you purchase the "Deluxe Clergy Pack" for $89.95. I'm thinking about asking someone to spring for it for Christmas, then I can officially be Reverend Mother Surre. Pretty sweet, eh? For the most part it went off without a hitch. I'll admit, nerves set in when Tony and I got in the car and started driving to the ceremony (mind you, we had NO rehearsal!). It was at that point that I regretted not doing a couple of shots of liquid courage before we left. Too late now! We showed up early to make sure that everyone was on the same page and so that I could calm down a little. Before I knew it, I was standing before the bride and groom, feeding them their vows like an old pro. Too freakin' funny. There's another girl here at work getting married next fall that's actually talked about having me do her wedding too. Who knows? Maybe I've finally found my true calling....

The wedding was beautiful, the bride was glowing, the Mom's both cried and the drinks were free. In my opinion, it was a success. Here are a few pics:

Thursday, October 9, 2008

So Proud of My Mom

This is going to be a short one today, but I just wanted to say how very proud I am of my Mom. It has been one of her (many!) lifelong dreams to own her very own Antique/Primitive/Country Store and she has finally made it come true! This morning I came in to work a little late so that I could attend the official ribbon cutting ceremony for her newest venture- Holly Hills Primitives. I was really glad that I went, since my step-dad and I were the only family that showed up. I wasn't able to stay very long, but I was glad I went just the same. Here are a few pictures:

That's my Mom standing in the doorway with my Dad. The other ladies are from the Chamber of Commerce and the Village Council.

Sitting at her desk.

Just a few shots of her store.
My camera was dying so I had to make it quick. These pictures don't begin to do it justice is fantastic. If anyone in Michigan is in the Holly are, definitely stop in and check it out! Tell her you're one of Ashley's friends and you'll get the "family discount". Don't say June, she won't know what the H you're talking about!
So congrats Mom. You knew what you wanted and you made it happen. Kind of makes sense why I turned out the way I did. I'm so proud of you for everything you've done, your perseverance, integrity and strength. It's been fun watching your dream take shape, I'm so happy that it's finally a reality for you. I love you! -YD

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Birthday Parties, Antiques and Haircuts


So last Thursday was Tony's 33rd birthday. Being that is fell on a "work night", we decided that we weren't going to celebrate until the weekend. So Friday night, after having a lovely time at the my first Initials, Inc. party (hosted by Tony's cousin Shelley), the girls and I headed out to meet up with Tony and his buddy Chop who had retreated to the nearest watering hole while us ladies were busy socializing and buying purses. By the time we got there, the boys were busy playing darts, drinking beer and requesting obnoxious songs from the DJ to generally aggravate the rest of the local regulars. For a moment I thought that the night was going to take a nosedive since the rest of us were having a little bit of a hard time "catching up" to the men folk. Not to worry, a round of Red Headed Sluts later and we were on our way to a good time. There is nothing like the people watching that goes on in a small town bar, and the Holly Inn (technically named "Jay's Bar" after being acquired by new owners...but it'll always be the Holly Inn to me!) is no exception. Between the Michael Jackson sing along twins (yes, one of them lip synced and danced his way straight through Man In The Mirror), to the 70something year old man that was getting "handsy" with all the young gals on the dance floor, sheer hilarity ensued.

I have no idea what was happening in that last picture, other than my camera has a mind of it's own. Either that, or else Em suddenly grew a second set of arms.

My BFF in the whole world, Ms. Jamison. What are we in life without a partner in crime?

Like I said before, Tony and Chop had no problem having fun before us women folk showed up. It's pretty bad when I get to the bar and the DJ's screen says "Happy Birthday Buckshoot"... Buckshoot??? I won't tell you what I told him I thought that stood for. Buckshot has always been Tony's softball nickname (#00), I think someone got a little confused!

Notice anything different about my outfit now? (Besides the sweet hanger string sticking out?) got crazy.

Game Over. Look at Tony's face... he knows what's up...


So after a little bit of sleep, a big breakfast and a couple of showers, the four of us (Jami had to leave us to go to work) ventured downtown to the Annual Holly Antique Show. My Mom owns a store down there, so we stopped in to say hi, drink some warm cider and drop off some Bluegrass music from my personal collection. Yup, I said Bluegrass. We perused the antique show, us girls drooling over things we'd love in our homes that were just a little out of our price range. Someday, we said. We did manage to find a handful of treasures that put a smile on our faces and made us feel like we weren't total victims of debt. Here's what we got:

My first find was this fantastic lamp with an American Saddlebred on the base. For those of you that don't know, I've ridden and shown horses for the majority of my life. Unfortunately these days I don't get near as much change to do it as I used to, but I still enjoy collecting rare horse paraphernalia all the same. I was SO excited when I saw this lamp because it is pretty few and far between that you find household decor with a Saddlebred on it. The gal that was selling it originally had it priced at $35.00, but I talked her down to $25...what a deal!!! Here it is-

My next find was actually a gift from my darling Mother. I had fallen in love with this piece, but wasn't about to ask Tony for another $12 for something I was sure he would consider "junk". It's hard to tell by these pictures, but this is actually a light. It is the print with a box on the back with a light bulb in it. The light bulb looked a little old school and only lasted about 20 minutes after I plugged it in, so I need to replace that, but I just LOVE this. Mom got the lady to knock $2 off the price, so she got it for $10.

My third and final find of the day was actually from a garage sale going on down the street from the antique show. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to have it, even though I had no idea where I was going to put it! Emily and I almost had to arm wrestle over who was going to get it, but I'm the one that had $5 cash on me, so the arm wrestling was saved for another day...

Now on to the haircut. Our buddy Chop (Jason) has pretty much been rockin' the surfer do' since I've known him (about 3 years) and just recently added the blond bombshell look to complete the picture. Well, I don't think Emily was totally in love with all that blond hair, so Chop decided to "chop" it all off. Here's the before:

Fabio called...he wants his hair back Chop.

I guess my surrogate dog June (Chop & Em's dog) felt that Chop need to be cuddled DURING his haircut. Just look at the face! Then look at the aftermath that I had to sweep up!

All done!!! What a change. I don't think that it's better or worse, just different. I think I'm just used to it long. Em definitely liked it better though!

So that's all I've got for today. We've been working on some other house updates in preparation for the big Halloween bash coming up in a couple of weeks. More on that to come! If you're reading this and know us personally, look for your invitation in the mail shortly. If you don't get one, call or email me and I'll fill you in on the details. Anyone have any good recipes, decorating ideas, costumes or fun 'adult' games, please leave a comment or email me. I'm looking forward to should be a good time!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Rednecks Take Detroit!!

Nearly twenty years ago I attended my very first horse show. The first of many to come, the A.S.H.A.M. (The American Saddlebred Horse Association of Michigan) Motor City Classic will always hold a special place in my heart. When I was a kid, before my mother got remarried, this was our big "vacation" for the year. Back in the days when this show ran from Thursday evening through Sunday afternoon, she would let me skip school on Friday so that we could drive to Detroit after school on Thursday and get checked into our hotel. We would stay at The Barclay Inn, which in those days was a pretty big deal to a single mother and her 9 year old daughter. Some years we would invite a friend of mine and her mother to join us, other times it was just us. I even had a special "expensive" sweatshirt that I would wear JUST to that horse show. It would hang in my closet until that Thursday in September, until I would break it out for the journey. One year school picture day happened to fall on "that Thursday"...guess what I had my pictures taken in? You guessed it!

Well, many years have passed since then. I've gone from a wide-eyed little girl amazed by the spectical of it all, to winning my first blue ribbon in that big arena, to coaching my own students through their first classes, to hanging my very own stall curtains with my name as the trainer (I know, who'd of thunk it!), and now taking my wide-eyed little girl there for the first time. I don't get to ride much any more, and I wish that Abbey had more of an opprotunity to, although someday I'm hoping she will. In the meantime, we have a ball making the trip and helping out where we can. My good friends Chris and Kelly were kind enough to act like they needed my help this weekend, letting me get horses ready to how, get my hands dirty and leave smelling like I spent the day rolling in a stall. God bless 'em, it was heaven.

Friday night Tony and I left right after work to get there just in time to catch the tail end of the second class of the night. We spent the rest of the evening chatting, enjoying the company of our friends and just generally having fun. When the show was over for the night, after filling up on sweets from the "dessert party", someone decided that it would be a good idea to try and ride this thing:

Luckily it was dark and most of the spectators had left for the night. Most of our little group attempted to climb it, without much luck. Finally, Ellie was a good sport and let two of the "manly men" heft her onto it's head. When she asked how she was supposed to get down, I don't think she was thrilled to hear that she just needed to "slide down it's tail like a stripper pole". She made it down safely in one piece, looking like a pro all the way! Go Ellie!!!

After that little adventure, we decided that we hadn't chanced our luck enough for the night and proceeded to sneak into the Detroit Red Wings practice rink (also on the fairgrounds) and play around on the ice for awhile. Mind you, at this point it was about midnight and dark out, which meant that it was PITCH BLACK in the hockey rink! We managed to feel our way around until we found the door to the ice, slide around for awhile, take some pictures and escape before anyone had enough good sense to call the police on us. I don't remember the last time I've done something so stupid and had so much fun. The joys of being child free for the night!

Saturday we took a day off to grocery shop, clean house, and just generally have a day to relax. Sunday, Abbey and I braved what looked like it could be a rainy, nasty day and drove to the Big D once more. Luckily by the time we got there, the weather decided to behave and it was a beautiful day. We got to watch Chris almost come off his horse when his stirrup decided to depart before the class was over (and then again during his victory pass!). Strong thighs prevailed and he stuck it until he was back to the barn. Whew...crisis averted.

After the morning session ended, it was Abbey and Lola's turn to enter the show ring for the first time. They made their debut as Bindi the Jungle Girl (Steve Irwin's daughter) and her crocodile in the "Best Dressed Pet" class. It was pretty stiff competition, especially when you have Sammy the Wonder Horse dressed as a pirate ship with his very small pirate crew on board. Abbey and Lola did a great job for being such a last minute decision, and ended up being 6th out of 8. You would have thought that little girl took home the blue ribbon she was so proud. She was REALLY excited that she got her very own back number and she wouldn't let me take it off until bath time later that night. I remember those days well...

The rest of the day went well, aside from the judge's inability to pick a nice horse over a plug. All in all it was a successful show and for the most part I think everyone went home happy. The highlight of Abbey's day came when Kelly let her ride Libby, the barn "pet" pony, around the barn a couple of times. It was love at first ride and Abbey and Libby spent the rest of the day sharing apples and lots of hugs. It was all I could do to get her in the car when it was time to go home. She's already made me promise that we'll go visit Libby VERY soon. Trust me, if it were up to me, that's where we'd be right now. But until then, the Michigan horse show magic is over for the year. Maybe next year I"ll buy Abbey a sweatshirt...

More random fun:

Ellie Henry and The Rolls Royce a.k.a. "Roy"
A.S.H.A.M. American Saddlebred Open Park Horse Reserve Grand Champion

Legends of Fire, Ellie Henry and Chris Carrick
Cloverleaf's Mr. Bojangles, Ellie and Chris

The Pretty Miss Kelly

Old friends Lindsay Anne Gawthrop and Heidi Madsen. Love these girls!
Practicing my photography skills...need lots more practice!

Varsity Blues and Sena Bowling
A.S.H.A.M. American Saddlebred Open Five Gaited Reserve Grand Champion

The last class of the show...see you all next year!!!!