December 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Me, Kristen, Harper, & Ellis. Photography by Brooke Glassford.

If I could, I'd mail you all one of our Christmas cards.

Thank you deeply for all of your support and sweet encouragement this year.

Remember the Reason for the Season...

"The mystery of the humanity of Christ,
that He sunk Himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding..."
- Martin Luther

and have a very Merry Christmas!

December 20, 2010

What's a Christmas Gram? I want one!

They worked and are kinda cute! Melting Snowman Cookie recipe below.

One of the things I miss most on the road is not cooking. Ever. Eating out is so fun, but close your eyes and ponder this: eating out almost every single meal for 4.5 months. Yeah. It gets a slightly old. Plus, I gain lb's. (Dear collegians, y'all are just so wonderful and I love all the restaurants you take me. Part of the job :) You take excellent care of me--thanks for everything!)

So this little Southern belle is happy to be back home cooking eggs for breakfast, making sandwiches for lunch, and just shuffling around a kitchen that includes more than a microwave, sink, and paper plates.

I tried my hand at Melting Snowmen Cookies that I saw a picture of on a blog last week, and they're so yummy! There was no recipe on the blog, but it's pretty easy to figure out. I advise a tall glass of white wine when you get to the decorating part. And patience. Lots of patience... And lock up any bird dogs that may get annoying.

Perfect Sugar Cookies Recipe
(So this my buddy Jay's mom's/my mother's BFF's recipe. Straight outta the Trinity Presbyterian School cookbook. Go cats GO.)

+ 3/4 c. butter or margarine
+ 3/4 c. sugar
+ 2 large eggs
+ 2 3/4 c. flour
+ 2 tsp. baking powder
+ 1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 400°. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla and baking powder. Add flour one cup at a time. Dough will be very stiff. Bake on top rack of oven 6 to 7 minutes, or until cookies are light brown. Roll and cut out, using cookie cutters. For best results, before rolling out dough, chill dough or use flour that has been stored in freezer.


Royal Icing
(This one I totally did off the top of my head, combing a few recipes and making things up, ha. This is what I THINK I ended up doing. Any good royal icing recipe will get the job done.)

+ 2 1/2 c. shifted confectioners sugar
+ 1 c. whole milk
+ 4 tbsp. butter or margarine, softened
+ big marshmellows for their heads

Combine confectioners sugar, 1/3 c. milk, and butter in a bowl. Stir until smooth. This is when I got creative: you'll need to judge the stiffness of the icing and LITTLE BY LITTLE, pour in the milk to make the icing more runny. I hate that word. But you know what I mean.

Leave 3/4 of the icing white, and remove a fourth. Divide further and dye into whatever colors you want to decorate the snowmen. The plastic bag trick works best: put the icing in little baggies and cut a teeny-tiny hole at the tip. For the "black" icing, I melted dark chocolate chips and poured the chocolate into a plastic bag.

Cut the big marshmellows in halves and stick onto royal icing puddle before decorating.

Well, if we need Halloween cookies I know what to do.

I made a few snowmen with surprised faces, but do you see how he looks so sad and scary and Scream-like? Clearly, I opted for smiley faces instead.

Have fun!


December 19, 2010

'Cause we're crossing over state lines.


Photo courtesy of Bippity Boppity Boo

LC Lesson #65: I get asked a lot of times if I'm going to "bad" chapters, or going to "spy on them." Really? No, people. Not at all. I'll go to a 100+ year old /300-member chapter Monday and then fly to a chapter that colonized last semester Thursday. No discrimination. Heads up--collegians erywhere, your local Greek Leadership Consultant or whatever loves you already. Before setting foot off the plane, Imma love you blindly for the 3 following reasons:

a. You wear my pin. Or I wear your pin. Potay-to, potah-to. We can do the grip and whisper secret things if you're super pi-tastic and into that.
b. Again, you wear my letters. Wouldn't I want you to succeed?
b. Welp, uh, you're the only person I likely "know" for 6 states.

I basically am begging for your love.

In Christmas spirit, I'm pleased to report that when the 7 of us get our LC Travel Schedules for the upcoming month, we revert to squealy-toddler-on-Christmas-morn mode.  We just got our January schedules this week (yes, it is usually a few weeks before the new month that we get 'em), and I'M SO EXCITED!

Look where I get to go in January!

Bloomington, Indiana

Lexington, Va.

Des Moines, Iowa

College Park, Md.

Blog title: Matt Hires-State Lines.

All you need is love (and spray adhesive).

Photo courtesy of Dwelling Gracefully

Last week, I asked mother dear why half the acryllic paint downstairs had dried up. "Ashlyn, I don't have the little craft elves at home any more." Ah, the plight of an empty nester: no little children to create masterpieces and get white paint on the kitchen table the morning of the Sunday School party mama was to host at night. Not that I did that last Thursday or anything. (What? My paint collection was nice and liquidy.)

Thus it is established that we Stallings girls get crafty on the reg.

So when sister Kristen showed me the above image from some chick's blog, I lunged at the chance to help her. She finally moves off the Kappa Dee dorm floor and into an Auburn apartment which translates to, like to any 20ish-year-old female, A NEW OPPORTUNITY TO DECORATE! Whoo-hoo! K-dawg and her hip hootie-hoo roommates are gonna be so cute with this hangin' up.

Whatcha need:
+ scrapbook paper
+ card stock (the same size as your scrapbook paper)
+ spray adhesive
+ la pencil
+ la ruler
+ les scissors
+ twine

Ah, the tongue-sticking-out-of-the-mouth-because-I'm-concentrating face. Adorable fam trait.

I mean, you can probably do the math and figure it out, but I'll spell it out just in case you're having a rough day. Kristen spray adhesived the pretty-yet-flimsy scrapbook paper to card stock so it was nice and bulky. We did this in the kitchen AT NIGHT so the slumbering father bear wouldn't get mad. It's just too darn cold to craft outside. Then, I sketched out the letters on paper--we did it just like Nashville blogger homegirl's picture, but I bet any cool font style looks good. K cut them out until her hand just about lost mobility, then punched holes at the tops to basically sew the twine through.

Result? Not so bad!


Great message. Great truth.

I'm sure we'll have to Sticky Tack them to the wall a bit in case the girls having raging parties and it gets really windy. Because there's usually wind at parties...

Blog title: If I have to tell you who sings that line, I question if your parents loved you.



December 17, 2010

Some people say I've done alright for a girl.

Kristen + me. Photo courtesy of Kristen Stallings.

Point A: I am sorry for not blogging lately. I was out galavanting/hop-scotching around Montgomery. But I'm back yo.

Point B: However, this past week, I've gotten to kick back. Here are some things I have a crush on lately. 123go.

My Minnetonka boots (see above image). For all those concerned, I still love them. So did half the employees of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International. And that's a win.

Hot yoga class. Obsessed.

The Radical book. It's by David Platt, pastor of Birmingham's Church at Brook Hills. And one-sixth the reason I'm dying to go to Passion Conference again this year.


My weird love for stationery. During college breaks,  I hustled around a Montgomery paper shop creatively named The Paper Store. Tucked in an creaky 1930's house in the Old Cloverdale district of gump town, it was pretty much THE place to get your bridal paper suites/invitations/calling cards. I got addicted (and pretty good, brushmyshouldersoff) to font sizes and Crane's Blue Book. I'm the type that holds invitations up to the light to figure out the watermark.
Fascinating, I realize. I'm even nerdy than you think.

Photo courtesy of Lucky Luxe.

Anyway, finding the Lucky Luxe website made me grin. The designers may have Mississippi State/Ole Miss relations, but clearly breach from the Old South cream-paper-black-rook wedding invitation that is likely hanging off the side of your fridge. Nico and Lala is equally cool.

A. Bryan Photo/this slideshow. We'd sit in college and stare at this website. Samford University: Where ya get a ring by spring or your money back.

The Lex + Loren video. But my friends and I've decided it ain't got nothin' on Two Pease in a Pod.

Kate Middleton. I lie. This is an old one. I've had a girl-crush on her and that Sloan Ranger whatever style for 3 years now. Don't let the fame change you, Kate. Stay strong.

AND they're not inviting Obama to their wedding.
BAM.
I knew we'd be friends, Kate.

Ann Mashburn. My ultra-hip bestie Camilla works at the Atlanta boutique. Camil has more style in her baby finger than I'll ever claim ownership on. Hence she and her eye for beauty get hired at swanky joints like this:

Photos courtesy of Unabashedly Prep.

Kelle Hampton's blog. Read if you're a fan of the Fly Through Our Window/The Pioneer Woman set. Or read if you have a soul. It's the treck of a gorgeous photog mama and her two precious girls--one who has Down Syndrome. As the daughter of a special needs teacher, I turn to butter around Down's babies. This blog is legit.

Photo courtesy of Kelle Hampton.

Blog title: Melanie Safka - Brand New Key. Because I always loved roller skating birthday parties at Looney's. And I'm still pretty rockin'.

Omgosh. Please be my friend.

Photo courtesy of Sunday in Bed.

November 29, 2010

Reminder.

Photo courtesy of Tiptoe Butterfly

"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom
to indulge the sinful nature, rather, serve one another in love.
The entire law is summed up in a single command:
"Love your neighbor as yourself."
Galatians 5:13-14

p.s. If seconds are our measuring point, a million seconds ago was 12 days ago.
p.p.s. A billion seconds ago? That was in about 1975. There are 6.5 billion people on this planet. Just sayin'.

November 27, 2010

Drop everything now, meet me in the pouring rain.

Katie, Me, Zea, and Zoe in Gas Works Park

I'm backtrackin'. I realized I promised everyone Seattle updates and never did that. I posted a bit earlier, but here's a tad more. So I'll do this, then we'll zoom to the cornfields of Nebraska, home for an Auburn game, up to New England for a week, then back down to Dixieland. Told ya: best job ever.

University of Washington
Seattle, WA

I have several observations to make about living for a week and a half with the Alpha Dee's of the Puget Sound area:

1. When they suggest it rains in this part of the country, this is NOT a myth. I saw Mr. Sun DOS times that visit. For serious. 2. The cool things are a) it's not rain, per se, more like a consistant mist, and b) it's surprisingly non-depressing. Kinda peaceful, in fact.

Suzzallo Library. Rain + this architecture = It's basically Hogwarts.

2. Seattle style, aka How to Dress Like a Collegiate Seattleite
Lululemon: They endorse the brand like it's going out of style. So of course, it was a matter of days before I made them direct me to University Village, trotted down, and blew more than half my pay check on the workout clothes (anyone who knows me isn't shocked, I look for reasons to buy new tennis dresses/Nike shorts/yoga clothes). Pricy, but probably some of the best stuff I've bought. Ever. It'll last 'til my tennis mom days, right? KIDDING, kidding...

And then you get sucked into the abyss. Photo courtesy of Photo Apoptosis.

Emi-Jay Hair Ties: On wrists, in hair, doubled, trippled--Seattle girls rock 'em. And now I do too, considering ponytails are the best invention next to jeggings. And if jeggings are wrong, I don't want to be right. Plus, the company supports a variety of philanthropies. Doneanddone.

Photo courtesy of Emi-Jay.

They make rain look cute. Lots of black, lots of boots, lots of black-leggings-with-my-oversize-plaid-shirt looks. And after I saw an adorable girl across campus with Minnetonka fringe boots, I decided these were extremely practical for my lifestyle. And bought some. And have endured relentless Native American/Pocahontas/"Ash, you go make fire for us?" jokes. And I. Do. Not. Care. I love them. At least I can wear them to Bonnaroo, right?
  
Madewell: It recently opened near UW, and as J.Crew's little sister, it's more Alexa Chung-downtown-hipster than preptastic. Again, I got sucked in.


3. That whole coffee-obsession thing out here. Kinda true.

4. I was in recycle/compost heaven. There is a little hippie in me, the side that declares I save 12 animals a year by being a vegetarian and fussed at my best friend in 10th grade at the lunch table because she got bigger tires on her Pathfinder, thus they're less fuel-efficient, thus the environment is more polluted... Love you, Brooke. I still take hits for that tirade. It's okay, my good 'ole boy Southern guy friends joke that I'll never get married until I start eating meat. But at least they accepted me in Seattle.

2. The sights. All my friends want me to shut up already about Seattle, but I can't help it: I fell in love. My Alpha Theta sisters were legit and constantly entertained me. Direct quote from a friend: "Ash, I knew you loved that chapter visit when you put up Facebook pictures. You NEVER put up Facebook albums."

 
I don't really feel like posting all those pictures up here, so
if we're not Facebook friends, here's a link to the album that has Seattle pics:
The picture above is explained.
 
So yeah. That was Seattle. To everyone that loves me, I'll TRY to shut my mouth about it now.

Blog title: Oh yeah, Tay Sway. She's my girl. Taylor Swift - "Sparks Fly"

November 25, 2010

If you're ready, like I'm ready...

Aaaandd... readysetleap. Photo courtesy of Peonies and Polaroids.

So my friends and I saw a movie today. It's called Love and Other Drugs. They should have maybe named it Love, Loads of Sex, and Other Drugs Plus Jake Gyllenhaal is Dang Fine as there was waaaaay a ton of too much skin/gettin' it on. But it's a grungy, film-ish-y movie with a point to prove.

Because she has Parkinson's disease. He doesn't. He's perfectly healthy.

But this guy falls in love with her anyway. Despite the warning signs to turn and run, that she's gonna eventually not be the walking/talking/laughing young woman she is. And this girl cannot figure out for the life of her why he loves her past what she is.

But finally, at the end, boy catches girl. Because they have now.

Anyway, it deserves more credit than just the chick-flick label it could nab. Because it was just a reminder that life happens so fast. We get uno. And yes, there is something to be said for patience and waiting (that virtue that shall be the death of me). But there's more--in my opinion--to be said for loving something or some people (again, when I say love people, I do not necessarily mean the relationshipy kind) now. Now, now, now.

Because a friend reminded me of the greatness of Louie Giglio podcasts the other day. And then Louie reminded me that days don't get dress rehearsals.

Lotta difference between well and good. Photo courtesy of Dear Inspiration.

For a girl that's lived more than half her life around cues, dress rehearsals, and curtain call, that made perfect sense.

Go. Love. NOW.
"Go into the world and speak
the Gospel to all creation..."
As in, today.

Yes, I just went from Jake Gyllenhal to the Gospel. But I've never been one to think in a straight line. #rightbrain. And now that everyone's convinced that I read entirely too far into things (hey, I still argue it's debateable), Imma hit the hay.

November 24, 2010


Photo courtesy of The Ballerina Project

"When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not
have a single bit of talent left, and could say,
 "I used everything you gave me".
- Erma Bombeck


I'm so sorry for the lack of updates. Lemme revel being a Montgomerian for a few more hours and I'll deliver. Promisecrossmyheart. :)

November 17, 2010

TLCM.


I'm stealing this idea from Em.

So. As our lives revolve around Greek Life this year, I speak on behalf of the fab 7 Alpha Delt Leadership Consultants and say we get a kick out of Total Frat Move. Inappropriate? Absofreakinglutely. But every now and then a TFM post is so utterly fratastic/our life that we bust out laughing. It didn't take us long this year to start posting TLCM's (Total LC Move) back and forth on our Blackberry Messenger group. We, of course, think we are hysterical.

I decided to let you in on some of our better TLCM's.
I'm not gonna tell you who said what, but anyone who knows us
could guess some of them...

Ran laps in a parking lot around an apartment complex for a week because I couldn't figure out how I would get back in the gates if I left for a run. TLCM.

I'm sitting at a bar by myself on Gameday and just sweet-talked the Yankee bartender into turning on the Auburn game. Have made 8 new friends. TLCM.

"Well, that's a great idea, but I don't know if it will work at our school. We're unique." TLCM.

Signed up as a student to get a bunch of junk e-mails just so I could get a free pair of neon sunglasses. TLCM.

The jukebox started playing "Sweet Home Alabama." By the end, half the restaurant was very aware of my homestate. TLCM.


Wore a sundress in the middle of November at a campus where everyone wears sweats to class. Was spotted by a fellow Vandy friend across the quad because, oh wait--I always stick out like a sore thumb. TLCM. (I'm calling her out. Definitely submitted by Em.)

Oh, fitting in.

Faked a conference call. Because I needed to be by myself for once.  Alone. For 5 minutes.  TLCM.

Turning on ESPN because their voices are low and they have testosterone. TLCM.

"Wait--you're from Alabama but you want Alabama to LOSE?" TLCM.

"You're so cute! We were totally were expecting you to be super old or something." TLCM.

Ate a bowl of cereal off a paper plate. With milk. More than once. TLCM.

Had a not-so-optimal chapter visit. So I bought myself a pair of boots online. Had them shippped. TLCM.
AU game this weekend. Feelings can be bought sometimes. Cute, huh?
They made total for the very first time. I may be crying more than they are. TLCM.

I just spent 4 hours driving around to find champagne flutes for yet another pref. My wedding's gonna be a cinch. TLCM.

Maybekindasorta stuck my foot to lift up the scale at the airport because my bag is just over 50 lbs. The agent didn't notice because I batted my eyelashes. I should probably ship things home now. TLCM.

Here's what I like to do: Make the collegians pose with me in touristy pictures so I look less lame. TLCM.

Me and the Alpha Thetas at The Troll, Seattle, WA.

We're staying in a university guest room. Three times at 2 a.m., couples have tried to break in because apparantly this room serves has another life as a make-out spot. Funny. But not at 2 a.m. TLCM. 
Dug a newspaper out of a recycle bin, because I hadn't read a newspaper since I started traveling. TLCM.


They made a huge "Welcome ___" poster for my room this week. I cried. TLCM. (I just gave myself away.)

Used the chapter composite as a giant flashcard. TLCM.


I pass out on every airplane before takeoasdf;lzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz... TLCM.


Ate two lunches back-to-back because there was a mixup as to who had a lunch meeting and who had a regular meeting with me. I didn't tell them because they're so sweet. This is why I gain weight. TLCM.


Pretended I was hungry. TLCM.

This is one of those visits where they sometimes forget to feed me. It's ok: there's a vending machine one floor down. TLCM.


I slay ritual imperfections. Do not cross me. TLCM.


Bought Southern Living in the airport because I'm homesick. Cut out the recipes and mailed them home for my recipe box. TLCM. (This is me. I'll admit it.)

 
Made ____ meet me at the airport during my 4 hour layover because I haven't been around a boy in weeks. Or been kissed in months. TLCM.

Skype 2 hours a night with my boyfriend to make up for long distance. TLCM.

My work phone gets waaay more action than my social life phone. TLCM.

I don't think it's weird to name my child after a founder. TLCM.

Did yoga in the shower instead because I don't want my roommates to think I'm weird. TLCM.

Love my job :)
Aight--for all the consultants past and present
whom I've discovered read this blog,
(your emails/Facebook messages make my life)
what are your TLCM's?

November 11, 2010

A spirit that is not afraid.

Photo courtesy of the Tennessee Journalist

I used to kinda want to work for ESPN. But now, I'm not so sure.

Lately, as someone who nerdily paid rapt attention in four years of journalism training and takes very seriously the earned right to weild the pen, I'm sickened by ESPN and the media. I'm sickened that those who make their living off reporting with truth, accuracy, precision, discouraged use of "unnamed sources," and fair and balanced journalism have far missed the mark. You should be innately and desperately sure of your story. You should stand behind it no matter what because you nailed it. ESPN, do you feel like that?

"Fabricate, exaggerate and wait for the hits and 'buzz.'
That’s their kind of journalism."
- The Auburn Plainsman

But really. Even if this story wasn't about my pride and joy football team I know I'd be appalled.

Just sayin'.

I stand with Cam.

November 10, 2010

West Virginia, Why I Do This Job, etc.

Skirt. Coffee. Candy. Doneanddone.

As the above is preettttyyy much what my life looks like everyday, I would like to share something that reached out an grabbed me lately.

This is a tale of sisterhood.
Of the girls in blue and white.

West Virginia Wesleyan College
Gamma Kappa Chapter
Buckhannon, WV

Tuesday was not a good day. I've NEVER been so mentally, physically, and emotionally below empty from sleeping about 4-5 hours a night, hop-skotching over time zones, and endorsing the workaholic syndrome I've always nursed. It was like the formal recruitment exhaustion-hangover that sorority girls get times, like, oh I dunno... FOUR MONTHS.

My mind was on Friday, 'cause for the first time since August, I get to see my Mama, Daddy, sister, dogs, and sweet city (Auburn included in that region, duhhh wareaglebeatGeorgia.) And standing alone in Washington Dulles Airport on Tuesday, it all started coming down: I really. wanna. go home. now.

But the plane I hopped on was northern-bound to West Virginia. So I landed. And in the airport waiting on my sisters, the phone rang. "Ash, where are you?" "I just landed in uh, um... (looking around for a non-existant sign) yeah, I have no clue. I forgot. Some town in West Virginia." Yup. I was that airport snob. If it wasn't Montgomery, I did not particularly care in that moment.

But then it started. "Ashlyn? Hey, I'm Chera..." The sweetest little voice, and looked up to find an adorable grinning stranger. Who took me "home" to 56 more grinning strangers. Who loved me simply because I wear the same diamond-shaped badge they do. That's it. That was the only requirement.

They took me straight to the doctor to get drops for  the random pink-eye I woke up with Monday.
And hung out with me in the waiting room.
And then took me to WalMart to pay $60 for 1/16 tsp of drops.
They bought me dinner, saying "I know you're a vegetarian, what do you want?"
They actually asked if I had any laundry they could do for me.
They took a white, cinder-block dorm room and decorated it.
There is a stack of 15 shiny, glossy magazines.
There are posters all over the walls.
Stuffed animal lions and lettered pillows on furniture.
"We just thought it must be hard traveling and wanted to make it homey!"
There are Teddy Grahams, Reeses, and a zillion other snacks spread out.
The folded towels and put a bow around them. A bow.
Someone. put. FLOWERS. in here.
Lillies, in fact.
For a 3 1/2 day visit.
They went through all that.
For a girl they'd never laid eyes on.
"We Live For Each Other," we say.
And they did.


The West Virginia Wesleyan College girls have no idea, but on that Tuesday night, more than anything this year--I needed a home. So, so badly. And this house, this amazing sorority, is weirdly somehow my "home" no matter what campus I'm on.

And this is why I do this job. Why I pull 15-hour shifts. Why I lug 126 lbs. of stuff around America by myself. Why I hardly ever talk to my friends back home on a normal schedule.

Because I meet women like this every day.

All day.

And for every woman I've met this year, you're helping shape who I am as a person more than I ever imagined you'd do. I thought that was my job, ha. But you've shown me up. And I will never be the same.

"More than a ritual or a symbol, that it is a way of life..."

November 3, 2010

Surrender.

Here's what God and I go through every day:

Photo courtesy of Bippity Boppity Boo.

Oh, patience. Imma figure you out one of these days.

That's all.

November 1, 2010

You are the only exception.

A view from the top of Husky Stadium.

So I get in my head to go on these exploratory runs every city I grace. Early mornings or weekend afternoons, I pull on running clothes (no shortage, as workout clothes are my JAM. Hope you're having fun with more than half my last paycheck, Seattle Lululemon.), pop in earbuds, and start jogging.

Do I know where I'm going? Heckno techno. I just start runnin'.
If things get sketch, I turn. There's an app for that: it's called GoogleMaps. Justincase.

Today was Seattle's turn. And since I make sure I see the football stadium on every visit, I set off towards Husky Stadium. The field trip took me past Husky Ballpark, so DUH I detoured to see where Tim Lincecum pitched before trotting over to the stadium, where just my luck: the gate was wiiiiiide open.

As I have normal curiousity level x100, I walked right in and straight out over the west endzone, about halfway up. And it. Was. Unreal. And see that top deck? Yeah. So of course, my head goes straight to "Pssh. I so bet I can get up to the top of this thing."

Curiosity killed the cat. But when you have a Southern accent and smile a lot, it can get you places. I whirl around a corner and run straight into a guy shutting the gates. In my face.

Guy: Uh, hi?
Me: Ohmyheavens. I am so, SO sorry--are y'all closing up?
Guy: I mean, sorta. In a bit...
Me: Well, may I ask you a question? Can you point me the best way to get to the top of this thing? I am from outta town and wanna see this view...
Guy: Uh, well, it's kinda closed off now... Wait, where's that accent from?
Me: Alabama.
Guy: "Alaaabaaaama?" (yes, he mocked me.) Ha. I almost signed to play at UAB And that Braves hat, you a fan?
Me: Absolutely. But I just took a picture of your baseball stadium 'cause I like Lincecum.
Guy: Ha, no way? I've grown up with Timmy, we're really good friends...

Next thing I know, my new friend has whisked me up on an elevator to the top of Husky Stadium and I'm gazing at the most gorgeous vantage point I've ever seen. Gawking at it, actually.

Cue 45 minutes later, I'm still adventuring because everything was far too glorious to stop.


Back on campus (which is essentially Hogwarts), I just couldn't get over God's trees. They've held some magnetic spell over me since I arrived; I guess I've just never seen His creation so HUGE before.

And then the Lord used his trees to speak to me.

My run slowed and, jaw dropped, I walked towards these three. Entranced, pulled, whatever--It felt like walking into a giant's kingdom. Like I was a tiny, tiny little girl and these five story monsters scaled up so high... I mean, look at that. Imagine how big a human is: I could barely reach the lowest branches. Pit in my stomach growing, I walked right under and looked up... up... up.

I can imagine God was chuckling at this point. Ha, I may or may not have teared up. I've never felt like that. It was just so breathtaking. "Yes, my child. This kind of stuff has been around for a while. I just haven't showed it to you yet! But I'm orchestrating this. Dontcha think I've got you in my hand, baby girl?"

I couldn't move a muscle. I was frozen.

Because way more quietly--way more hushed--He was saying this:
Don't you see why I'm jealous for my magnificent glory?
Do. You. Get. That. Now?
More Seattle stuff to come. Much more. Because I left half of my heart up there.

p.s. Blog title: "The Only Exception" by Paramore. It has nothing to do with absolutely anything except it's been stuck in my head since the cast of Glee covered it.

October 27, 2010

This is TMI, but I warned you.

Photo courtesy of Bippity Boppity Boo.

Every chapter visit I go on during my national tour of Alpha Delts, I get a set of traditional questions near the final days. Always. They rarely change:

 How are we different from Alabama and the South?
Soo.. (insert sneaky little smile) Do you have a boyfriend?
or better yet,
So, like, are you married? Or just engaged?
(No lie. At least 4 chapters. Really, girls? REALLY?? This would be a sapphire. Not a diamond. Sheesh.)
Don't leave us! Can't you move here and be an advisor?
and my personal fave excluding the marriage one: 
When do we get to be on your blog?

Yesss. It seems they all Google me before I arrive to make sure I'm not creeptastic.

And then, when we've all sung Kumbaya "I Love the Pin" and they're ultra-comfortable with me, they then bring up how they read it every day. Sweet.

So: this is for all my Alpha Dee's out there who asked to be mentioned on the blog. Enjoy your fame, my mother and father read this on the reg so you'll be a big hit at the Stallings manor.

1. Penn State: Amazing chapter, amazing university, amazing football tradition. I fell hook-line-sinker for the nittany lions. We did a little recruitment action, got a fantastic class of Alphas, and Ashlyn gained enough weight to potentially be noticeable. (Note: Everyone should go on an eating vacation to State College, PA. It shall be an epic experience for you.)
KATE and LAUREN took me to my very first Penn State game, which is the first football game I've worn a t-shirt too since, well, probably ever.
This is Paterno-ville.

I loved every moment! Then we get close to a TD, and Kate's little red-head whirls around to the strapping male students around us. "Hey boys! She's from Alabama and this is her first Penn State game. You know what to do!" The next thing I know, some guy named Wagner carries it across the line and I'm hoisted up in the air. As in, à la crowd-surf style. And tossed, 22 times straight up into the air while the section counts with me. It was bizarre. And fun. Ah, tradition.


Then they fed me again, this time with PSU Creamery toxins. You see, Ben & Jerry went to Penn State, where they scored C's in ice cream class (it's legit here). C's? From those guys!? Puh-LEESE introduce me to Mr. A+... This ice cream is so amazingly horrid for you that it's illegal to sell outside of Penn State. So naturally, I loved it.

A me-sandwich, with wonderful sisters Maria and Jessica.

These would be the ring-leaders of the "can we be on your blog" campaign. We took this photo for the sole purpose of what you're seeing now. NICHOLE, GAIL, AMANDA, LAUREN, me, TARA, BETH, and MARIA.

2. Then I jet-airlined back to the Southerlands--Birmingham! Where maybe I teared up when Courtney rolled around the corner to pick me up from the airport. To which looked through her windshield at me and said in her cell phone, "That's real cute, Ash. But you're going to need to lock it up and come towards my car with your luggage if we're going to leave this airport pick-up line." Such a sweetheart.

The whole fam damily, a.k.a. the 3 people I love more than anything in the world.

Then my cousin Carrie got hitched to the fabulous Georgia-boy Zach. Any couple who chooses Dave Matthews Band's "You & Me" for their first dance is immediately awarded baller couple status.



3. Bucknell University: Then it was back to Bucknell to get the ladies of Theta Iota hoppin' on the Initiation train with help of fellow LC Megan. Fall in New England is too gorgeous not to photograph so we took it upon ourselves to be models in this wonderland.

Celebs are people too, right Meg?

Lewisburg, PA
I just want to play outside and wear workout clothes forever. Too much to ask?

4. ATL. Then it was back to the office for fall training sesh. As our heads were full of knowledge and we needed some breaks, we ventured to Five Paces, Virginia Highlands, Athens, Annie's apartment, and Piedmont Park for an Eagles concert.

My lifelines/LC sisters: Emily, MK, me, Lori

Day trip to Athens with Em.

Seeing this song live? I've only been waiting since age 7. I vividly remember trying to learn the lyrics by putting my head to the Explorer speaker on the way home from the Wynlakes Country Club pool. It worked, I know every word.


And after a quick fro yo sesh with Kenzie, it was back to jet airliners and universities...

5. University of Nebraska: Trip #2 the rolling home-home-on-the-range of Nebraska, I reunited with fantastic Alpha Epsilon chapter to hit the chapter operations grind. We took fun breaks, if you consider Paranormal Activity 2 "fun." I endured the horror flick (more like, endured staring at the inside of my Braves hat that I pulled further down on my forehead every 15 minutes. It took two giant swigs of Nyquil to put me out that night. I promise I had symptoms... Stupid ghosts.) and adored being back with these sweet girls--I've fallen for ya, AE.

Question: Can you go wrong at a restaurant named "Spaghetti Works?"
Answer: No, it's impossible.

Brewski's: HEIDI, KELLI, me, SARI, SYDNEY, and birthday girl SYRA
Nights out with them are the best--plus, during my I'll-cheer-for-Tennessee-but-only-because-they're-playing-Alabama moment, I received the best compliment of my life: "You're just like Mrs. Tuohy from 'The Blind Side!' Bless your sweet heart, AUDREY. I knew I liked you babe :) Same goes for ALYSSA, LEAH, RACHEL, and SABRINA.

6. Now I've just landed in Seattle at the University of Washington. Gimme some time to spread my little wings and I'll let you know what it's like. So far? Pure love.

But no matter how exhausted I get, how difficult it is to Skype with the besties, talk to my parents, and be miles away from any semblance of home,  I am realizing I can't wish this year away.

I will not deny myself this adventure.
YOLO: You Only Live Once.
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