January 30, 2011

Moved… again

i love to blog… but let’s face it: i just can’t commit. at least i can’t when i have to post paragraphs and paragraphs about my life. so i have found a new love – tumblr. i never feel any pressure to write about the current saga. all i have to do is post something that interests me that day. and let’s face it, everyone would probably have more fun NOT having to read a novel on here all the time. 🙂

check me out at {for the beauty of the earth – http://www.ashleighkimmel.tumblr.com}.

October 6, 2010

When in Rome

Sorry I have been on such a blogging hiatus lately. But I’m back! And to be really honest, I don’t know exactly what I’m going to write about yet….. {fingers tapping, brain offering up options, doooo deee doooo, more finger-tapping}…. This is so much easier when you write every day. Then you’re not thinking over the last month of happenstances and trying to figure out what’s “most interesting” to write about.

Ooooooh yeahhh!!! I’m going to Rome at the end of the month!! My brother, mom and I are heading over to the ancient city to view all of the historic landmarks, eat yummy Italian pizza and use all the cliches we can think of about Rome, i.e. “When in Rome,” “All Roads Lead to Rome,” “Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day,” etc.

I have never been to Italy so I am super excited about this trip! And – to see the silver lining in everything – the Dawgs have been struggling a little {cough, cough, A LOT!} this season, making it much easier to miss the long-awaited UGA vs. FLA game!

Obviously we’re going to check out the Trevi Fountain, the Vatican, the Spanish Steps, the Coliseum… but is there anything else we definitely need to see??

So pumped!!!

September 18, 2010

A Spoonful of Sugar

So I’ve been on a baking kick lately. I’ve always loved to bake. But of late, it’s become sort of an obsession. Everything sounds so delicious. And the more I bake, the more excited I am that I can actually create something tasty.

This obsession has not only taken over my kitchen, but it’s taken over my entertainment choices. My favorite cake-baking show is actually Ace of Cakes. But it’s not on instant Netflix and Cake Boss is. So I watch Cake Boss. And I have to say I like it.

Recently, I went to NYC for a business trip. While we were up there, one of our local Operators surprised us with a cake made special by Buddy and his team! Check it out —

In addition to my love of cake-baking shows, I’m also an avid reader of Bakerella. You should definitely check her out.

Inspired by Bakerella’s site, as well as my bff Kayleigh’s awesome creations, I have been attempting to make some crazy desserts as well. A few months back, I created these Basketball Oreo Balls for the NCAA March Madness tournament. While they aren’t perfectly circular, they were really yummy!

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Other recent creations include peanut butter fudge, pillow cookies and red velvet cake. Yay for baking!

September 15, 2010

Based on a True Story

These five words always draw my attention when looking for a good book to read or a movie to watch. While I definitely LOVE being entertained by stories outside the realms of possibility (i.e. Peter Pan, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, Meet Joe Black, The Legend of Bagger Vance, etc.), there is something really special about a story that needs hardly any embellishment and is worthy enough to be written about or made into a feature film.

Currently, I am finishing a book that bears the stamp of these five words, and Joel and I watched a movie based on a true story last night. Both are fantastic. Both stories are amazing. And both are stories I can’t believe I never heard of before now. Stuff You Missed in History Class should think about doing a podcast on each of them!

The book is called The Devil in the White City. The author, Erik Larson, hardly embellished anything at all. He constructed the story based on old letters and newspaper articles. And he did an amazing job! Sometimes you have to pinch yourself and remind yourself that this story is fully real! The book parallels the lives of two men near the turn of the century in Chicago. The first man is Daniel Burnham, the lead architect of the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. The other man is H.H. Holmes, a serial killer that lived in Chicago during the World’s Fair. He started his killings just years after Jack the Ripper and killed many more women than Jack did. However, he’s hardly known at all! It’s crazy. But it’s really good!

The movie was called Bottle Shock. This was a little more fictionalized than Devil in the White City. However, it was still based on true events. Basically, it tells the story of this winery called Chateau Montelena near Napa that won a blind tasting in Paris during a time when the French wines were thought to be far-and-away more superior than any others. It has Chris Pine in it, and he wears a glorious wig. In short, the movie was made for Katie Griffin. 🙂 But it was really good.

In the end, I feel so much smarter by having read the book and watched the movie. Don’t you kind of feel that way when you finish a story based on real life? It’s like I didn’t waste my time at all by entertaining myself – I was also educating myself. Gosh, I love when that happens. Dovetailing interests. 🙂

September 8, 2010

Every Girl Wants that Sparkle

Let me tell you about something near and dear to my heart. Something that I feel very passionate about. Something I really don’t want you to laugh at.

Glitter.

I know you’re laughing and I need you to stop! Glitter is wonderful and I am really kind of devastated that it’s not in style anymore.

A lot of times, we’re slaves to fashion and we blindly accept whatever Fashion Week tells us is the next big thing. But how many times do we look back and look at photos and think, “What on earth was I wearing?!” Half the time these fashion trends make us look awful! Cases in point:

Personally, I think that we should adopt only the fashion trends that make us look better. This is where glitter comes in. I truly think that glitter makes us look better.

Every girl wants to sparkle. Glitter, when used sparingly, draws attention to the eyes and brightens them. Overall, it makes the face so much prettier.

And glitter just makes people smile. Think of all the things that glitter: diamonds, football helmets, cars, etc. You’re smiling now just thinking about them, aren’t you?

So in closing, I leave you with photos of glittery things that I am very thankful for.

September 3, 2010

Heaven on Jefferson

I thought that today’s thankfulness topic would be a good follow-up to the husband post from earlier this week.

If you know my husband, you know that when he loves something, he loves it with everything he has. One such object of his affection he discovered three years ago while roaming the streets of Italy. While in the beautiful, faraway place, he stumbled across something that would change his life forever: gelato.

While in Italy, Joel would eat several cups of gelato a day, impressing many an onlooker by double-fisting two cones of gelato at a time. He knew once he had found it that he had to have it in his life in some capacity fairly regularly moving forward.

So upon his return to America, he tried to find the best imitation he could of the real thing. He went to Paolo’s in Atlanta, but it wasn’t quite right. Pizzeria Venti was just okay. The Venetian in Las Vegas had a pretty good replica, but it’s not like we are in Vegas on any sort of regular basis.

After a while, Joel just gave up on his hope to get delicious gelato in Georgia.

But then, we started seeing advertisements for a new candy store opening up in Madison. The fliers proclaimed gelato, but Joel had been fooled one too many times. He knew this would not, could not be the real thing. Especially in Madison, Georgia of all places.

Never in his life has Joel been more pleased to be wrong.

We walked in the first week Ella’s Sweet Shoppe was open, skeptical at best. The owner of the place immediately started educating us on the benefits of gelato (1/7 the fat and 1/12 the calories of a small serving of ice cream) and explained that this was the authentic thing. He told us how he weekly ships in gelato from Italy on dry ice through New York into Atlanta and then out to Madison.

So Joel tries his first bite. And at that moment, the heavens opened up, the angels started singing, and all was right in the world. Joel had not only found his authentic gelato, and he had not only found it in Georgia. But he found it in Madison, on our very own street.

We have become regular customers of this wonderful little shop. There is so much to tell about it that I am thankful for that I’ll have to save it for separate installments. Suffice it to say, you should come out and see what all the fuss is about. You’ll be very thankful you did.

September 1, 2010

For the Next 50 Years

Tonight, my husband looked over at me as we were doing our routine nightly reading and said:

I love that for the next 50 years, unless something tragic happens, you’ll always be right here.

Do you know how thankful I am for that? If I could tell you all of the millions of things like that he says every day, it would probably bring tears to your eyes. I am beyond blessed to have the most caring, selfless man as my husband. I truly don’t deserve someone who loves this well and fully.

Apart from my salvation, he is the thing I am ultimately most thankful for.

August 30, 2010

If You Know Me…

…then you know that I have one main goal in life: to be a grandmother. Well this story doesn’t exactly pertain to that goal. But it’s related. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to remind you that I want to be a grandmother. 🙂

So I’m in the airport yesterday morning, coming back from a pretty awful weekend (minus a few highlights), and I sit down in my chair. More like I fall into my chair and let it support every muscle in my body after the 15 hour day I worked out in the scorching heat the day before with a five hour total sleep. (Gosh, I love venting on here every now and then!)

Well across from me sit this couple. The man has a sweet, quiet look in his eye, similar to my grandfather. And the woman has painted-on eyebrows. Hehe. A perfect couple.

As they sit there, I just observe how in love they are with one another. They talk intermittently. Each time, it’s with a kind tone. As they continue to sit there, I can just see his love for her in the way he looks at her. She’s reading a pirate book. The author has chosen to plaster his picture on the entire back cover – I hope that the face he’s making is done in jest; otherwise, the guy is a tool. I digress.

The whole time I’m looking at them, I wonder how many years they’ve been married. Probably, they got married when she was 18 and he was 21. They had children the following year and learned that she had a lot of maturing to do. He went out drinking late on nights they got in fights and she told too much to her mom, resulting in several years of awkwardness between he and his in-laws. They barely spoke to each other for about three years when their kids were in high school. Then, slowly but surely, he began to tell her he loved her again. After a couple of years, they started going on regular dates again when the kids moved out.

Now, it’s been 46 years of marriage and they’ve never been more in love. It’s not a hot, spicy, passionate love. It’s a more special type of love. One that knows no better friend, that feels no doubt, that remembers years of steady, faithful relationship. There’s a contentment of knowing everything about each other and loving the other more every single moment.

Again, people watching is probably an unhealthy activity for me. But I can’t help but think what their story is. And I can’t wait until Joel and I are at that point. Taking care of a couple of grandkids when our children go out of town. And looking at each other with that look of utter satisfaction at a life well-lived and well-loved.

August 27, 2010

A Breath of Fresh Air

Today has been a lot stressful. Most of this stress is worry I have placed on myself because I’m an “overanalyzer” by nature. But a few things were actually legitimately stressful. You’d be stressed. I called someone I work with and they were stressed enough to call someone else to figure things out for them – something they never do. The person they called was so stressed they didn’t even call us back. (Are you stressed reading this paragraph because it makes no sense and it’s starting to overwhelm you? Good. I’m not proofreading that part because I want you to feel the depth of despair I felt at said stress.)

Thankfully, a bright sunbeam tore through the gloom of the day and brought a MUCH-NEEDED breath of fresh air. My sweet cousin Lindsay. She is seriously one of the most beautiful and talented girls you will ever meet. She’s never in your face about it, but she will quietly beat you at every sport you play her at (and board games, too). Lindsay’s 18 0r 19 – how sad I can’t remember?! – and we’ve never gotten to spend much time with just the two of us. So, when I was in Durham for work, I knew I had to get on her calendar.

She came to dinner with me tonight and talked about loving college life and all of the blessings God has been pouring on her this year. It was seriously the perfect medicine to a stressful day. Just to see the sheer joy and thankfulness she has was contagious. …I didn’t even think about my stressful situation again for about 30 minutes after we had dinner. That’s a big deal for me.

So please smile and share your joy with someone this week. You can actually change a person’s day for the better just by offering joy to those you interact with. Misery loves company, and when there’s no company to be found, it eventually disappears and gets replaced by a little happiness instead.

August 27, 2010

There’s Always Something to Smile About

The Atlanta Airport is an interesting place. On the one hand, I love it because it’s always transporting me to some fun place or other. But on the other, the place depresses me. Form follows function; the decorations, if you can call them that, are neutral and plain; everything is so cluttered that you feel cramped; and the seats are really uncomfortable – which isn’t good for people like me who show up to their gate an hour early as a rule.

However, as the title of this post alludes, you can still find joy in melancholy places.

Today, I was sitting at my gate, eating a fast food meal that will surely kill me, and I look over to my left. Sitting there, all alone, is a man. He is probably in his early 70s. And you know what he’s doing? He is just licking an ice cream cone. And while he isn’t exactly smiling, I can tell that he is extremely content with everything in the world.

He happens to be booked on a flight leaving through a gate that is providentially located right next to a Ben & Jerry’s. Naturally, he buys a double-scoop waffle cone in his favorite flavor. And he eats it. He may be all by himself, but this is the next best thing to company. Eating that ice cream cone, I’m sure he thinks of all those times he made home-made ice cream for his children back in the day, and how excited his grandkids get when he buys them any flavor they want at the ice cream store, just an hour before dinner. He probably chuckles to himself thinking about how many good pictures they have of ice cream all over their little faces.

It’s probably pretty weird that those are the thoughts that go through my mind when I see a man eating ice cream. But even if that’s not what he was thinking, it still made me happy to see an old man slowly eat an ice cream cone in the middle of the airport waiting on a delayed flight all by himself. Oh life.