April 28, 2010

Derby Time: Hats in The Brook

Head over to MyScoop to read my full story...

Mountain Brook Village is no stranger to millinery. In the first days of the Birmingham village, Southern women flocked to a Montevallo Road shop for beautiful hats.  Decades later and just in time, Derby-bound Birmingham belles have descended on new spot in town for adornments (amusingly, it’s next-door-neighbors to the original millinery’s address). Get your wagers in girls—these hats are flying off the rack.

Nestled on a charming Montevallo Road, Christine’s has long stocked fine linens such as Yves Delorme and Sferra as well as fragrances that waft out the screen door to the sidewalk.  But after a trip to Paris, Jean Clayton found herself smitten with the beautiful hats in Parisian shop windows. It wouldn’t be long before she brought the flair to Alabama, by way of the 37-year-old shop.

“I started carrying Louise Green hats on a whim,” Clayton said. And with the first stock displayed on hat racks of Christine’s two weeks before Easter, shoppers delighted. “This has been very curious,” she said of the endeavor. “Women even come in buying the hat before the dress.”

Crafted by famed designer Louise Green, these creations are fit for royalty—after all, Gossip Girl’s Queen B herself (Blair Waldorf) has donned a Louise Green original, as have Britain’s royal family, Eva Longoria, and Paris Hilton.  The luxurious hats are unique to Birmingham, but can also be found a Neiman Marcus. There’s plenty to be a Louise Green or two shading a mint julep in Louisville this weekend.

Tickets, dress, and hat? Now that’s a Triple Crown we can bet on.

Christine’s | 2411 Montevallo Rd. | Mountain Brook, AL 35223 | 205.871.8297

How 'bout you? Are you Louisville-bound this weekend? Or just patiently waiting your turn like me...

April 27, 2010

Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars?

1. To stop rolling my eyes that I've taken the Most Challenging/Hardest Job in America next year. (well, this is more of a prayer. I'm not a negative person. I just need to have more excited days than "Seriously, Ashlyn?" days.)
2. Time with my besties--stat.
3. Tickets to the Kentucky Derby this weekend.
3. Date night with Jason Derulo after his concert this weekend in Birmingham. In my head... (Kidding. Well, like 40% kidding.)
4. For school to stop interfering with my final college social-scene days.
5. God to challenge me even more than he's already allowed these past two months. Better be careful what you wish for, I know, I know... But if Isaiah 43 says when I'm in the middle of a river, the waters won't rush over me, then I have unflinching hope in Him that I'll be okay. I think I'm starting to get my sea legs (river legs?) anyway.

Now, everyone go download "Airplanes" by B.o.B., Eminem, and Hayley Williams. A trifecta of musicians, if you ask me.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

I could really use a wish right now:

April 23, 2010


I'm a 21-year old
Southern girl.

But I got zero clue what a mint julep tastes like.

Shouldn't I amend this issue soon?

I mean, if nothing else, in premature honor of that little horse race up in Louisville, right?

So when a latest Garden & Gun email in my inbox gave the mint julep recipe from Tipsy Parson in my beloved New York City, my mouth watered a tad. It tinkers from the original julep (horrors? nah.), running more along the lines of a frozen drink.

And duh--anything that resembles a Sonic cherry slushie gets the green light from me.

Concord Grape Mint Julep (Serves 4)8 oz. bourbon 
4 oz. lime juice, freshly squeezed
4 oz. mint simple syrup*
4 oz. Concord grape reduction**
4 cups ice
Mint sprigs, for garnish
Blend all ingredients in blender until ice is broken up and drink is uniformly smooth. Serve with a small bouquet of fresh mint sprigs.
*Mint Simple Syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 bunch mint
Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, add whole mint sprigs, and simmer for ten minutes. Strain and cool.
**Concord Grape Reduction
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
3 cloves
1⁄2 tsp. black peppercorn
1⁄2 tsp. white peppercorn
1⁄4 tsp. anise seed
1 quart Concord grapes
1⁄2 cup water
Make a sachet with all dry ingredients. Simmer sachet, grapes, and water in a saucepan over medium-low heat until grapes are broken down and soft (about 45 minutes), gradually adding more water if needed. Remove sachet, and strain the reduction to remove seeds. Cool uncovered in the refrigerator. Reduction may be kept refrigerated for up to a week and works great with many other applications (pork, duck, cheesecake, gelato, etc.).

April 21, 2010

Prep school.

Photo courtesy of Take Ivy

Yesterday, Huffington Post came out with it's list of Preppiest Colleges in America, which is a pretty interesting read if you're the type to mix pearls with your madras. (Or if your mother gave you her original worn copy of The Official Preppy Handbook in 9th grade in your Christmas stocking. I mean, like, IF that's you or whatever...)

An ammendent to the list recognizes good 'ole Birmingham-Southern down the road, but I'm sure some think Samford could throw in her golf visor in the ring.

April 20, 2010


Photo courtesy of Pirates and Fireflies
"You...have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge
and in the image of its Creator."
Colossions 3:10

Renew = Greek, "anakainoo:" (v.) to make new, to make different, to give new vigor

It's a weird word good enough to end up on the Twittersphere's #FakeCoachellaBandNames list. (For the record, I rather liked John Mayer's "The 5 Six." Catchy.) But thanks to my bestie Camilla, I've recently learned the Greek origin of a word that is painted all over the Bible.

God renews me daily, giving me my portion. Just what I need. Like today, when I woke up to a prescribed portion reading: "The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, surely I have a delightful inheritance" (Ps. 16:6) And well, if that's just not the most assuring, happy-go-lucky verse, I don't know what is.
P.S. Baha. Funny, Lord. 16 and 6 have been tied for my favorite numbers since age 3 when I learned my birthday was June 16. Ha. That Guy makes me smile :)

I keep being renewed and reminded:
I have eternal pleasures at His right hand. (Ps. 16:11)
He will uphold me with His right hand. (Is. 41:10)

And now I can't quit looking down at my right hand, 'cause it's holding Someone' s pretty strong one.

April 18, 2010

Here comes the sun.

WCC. Where I turned my first underwater sommersault.

I can layout with the best of 'em.

Mama taught me at a young age at the country club pool the simple rules:
  1. Don't complain about being bored. If this is an issue, that's why they invented books. (And for college students, I've discoverd: sleeping.)
  2. Sunscreen. This from a woman that was a baby oil fan during the entirity of the 1980's. I trust her.
  3. Flip on the half hour and untie your straps, duh.
And yesterday, as I sat down Stokstad's Art History textbook to pick up Kathryn Stockett's "The Help," I realized I was squinting horribly through my sorority party shades. (Classy, I know--left the Ray Ban's in the car)

Shoulda brought a baseball hat. And how old-school awesome are these?

 Photos courtsey of The College Shack, $15.95 each

Of course my luck--the Auburn one this Alabama-bred girl is coveting is currently unphotographed.
But heck-naw was I putting up that tacky crimson and white hat. I think I'd rather play in traffic.

Oh, Alpha Delt.

And they were yummy. Photo courtesy of Emily Hart.

Baha. So who knew: I'm actually getting nostalgic about leaving Samford. And maybe my chapter of ADPi too. Yeah, whatever--I'm that sorority girl, I know I know...

But uh, at least for 10 months, I figured out how to get paid to be that sorority girl!?
Am I right, or am I right?

Anway, when my friend in Samford Hall hollered that my interview about our sorority's centennial was in the latest edition of The Samford Chronicle, I got kinda pumped. Hi, Mom and Dad!

April 15, 2010

Of Love and Snowglobes

"It's crazy, if you think about it. The God of the universe—the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor—loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love."
- Frances Chan, Crazy Love
Photo courtesy of Brooke Glassford

And as at sat with two best friends under a starry Birmingham sky last night, God again whispered that it's because of that crazy love I have breath rushing into my lungs. That crazy love that reminds me while my perfect little snowglobe life is about to be whirled and shaken with graduation in exactly one month, it's Gonna. Be. Okay... 

Snowglobes always look beautiful when the flakes settle anyway.

It's okay that in a few months, I'll sorta have less friends. That's just kinda how it goes. I won't be eating and with the gabbing daily with the same 20-deep-ADPi lunch bunch, basking in the sunlight on Ben Brown Plaza, or running to intramural games at night (won't mind the absence of foul softballs, as one legit left stitch marks in my thigh before Easter). I am a huge fan of communities, and I've JUST gotten to where I appreciate this one; now I must leave. But I realized lately that it's not for my good. It's for Christ's glory that I am even granted a heartbeat. It's His world, I'm just fortunately living in it :) 

But at the same time, He promised me and you and everyone who loves Him that He will do ANYTHING for me. That anything I screw over or fumble-on-the-play He can right. That his love for me and His church is bigger than a groom gawking at his bride, bigger than a mother for her child, bigger than the mystery of the Milky Way, and bigger than the plane-ride intensive schedule I'll be cruising next year. Though the world tells me a year by myself on the road may shatter the relationships I've built, I have reason to trust another tale.

So I know I'll be okay regardless of the path I choose. It's like Mama recently told me--God's will is more like a playing field for which He says, "I love you. Here's the rulebook. Now go get 'em like I taught you, tiger."

Roar. I'm ready.

**Brooklyn, I'll stop stealing your pictures someday. You're just so dang good. 
Dear everyone, please pay her to take pictures, she's amazing. Love, Ashlyn.

April 13, 2010

Frat hard.

The harmony abilities of Lady Antebellum stolen my little heart since "Love Don't Live Here." I mean, let's be honest, "Lookin' for a Good Time" hit my iPod the week before my 21st birthday. Grreeeaaaat timing. (Note to Mama: Not that I applied the song to my life so much.... That song and I had more of a holistic, sieze-the-day summertime connection. Plus I sounded reeeaal nice when the radio was blarin'.)

Anyway, as a girl who attends school where boys rip there Nantucket Reds on Thursday night and go back to the frat house to change into Nantucket Reds Pair #2 (yes, happened Thursday), where the sorority + frat term "srat" appears in my text inbox terribly often (and more often from fellas), and where there is enough Lilly Pulitzer fabric on campus to tent Rhode Island, I feel this video is appropriate.

Lady A's cover of Easton Corbin's "I'm a Little More Country Than That."
Prep style.

Because I adore this baseball-hat-wearin' country newcomer.
Because maybe I popped my collar to class last week.
And because my friend has been singing his own "I'm a Little More Fratty Than That" since Spring Break.

April 8, 2010

Happy Masters Day

Photo courtesy of Personalization Mall

So the Master's leaderboard is now poppin', and I have two golf-related things to note:

1. When I claim my first set of clubs, my driver will be posted up in this fratty cover. Spotted by my legit golfer friend Katherine, who once gave me a silver monogrammed bookmark. Yes, they exist.

2. I love the new Tiger/Nike commercial, released on Master's Eve 2010. As a media junkie, I would, but it's gutsy for both parties: Acknowledge the issue, press forward. The brand that revolves campaigns around Tiger took a risque move and used the voice of Tiger's late father.

Creepy? Poignant? Whatcha think?

April 7, 2010

What is this "Pure Barre" you speak of?

Head over to MyScoop to read the rest of my story.

Down on 18th Street in Homewood, taut legging-ed bodies trot in to a new workout studio. An hour later, they emerge smiling, maybe a little sweaty for the wear. The Pure Barre craze is taking over Birmingham, and owners Danielle Davis and Lindsay Lancaster couldn't be happier. "It's easy to back up something that works," Lindsay says. "The response from Birmingham has been insane." The nation-wide franchise's barre-based routine with ballet fundamentals welcomes all ages and backgrounds. The 18th street Homewood studio sees women and men from ages 14 to 74, triathalon experts to those just breaking into a workout habit.

Since something's in the water, I decide to give it a go. The challenge? For two weeks, I attend one Pure Barre class a day, with 2 days of rest in the mix. Here's the play-by-play of my experience!

Day 1: Aight, I'm an ex-ballerina. Hair flip, hair flip--this shouldn't be too hard,  right? Uh, wrong. One 55-minute class later, four muscle groups have quivered faster at speeds to rival a hummingbird's wings. This is better than ballet conditioning class! Lindsay tells me that small, isometric movements encourage muscle--"the smaller the better," she says.

Day 2: Not so sore I can't move, I throw on my leggings for another class. Pure Barre quickly lilts from workout to stretch to workout to stretch, but the fast paced rhythm isn't so foreign this time. I head it said that Pure Barre instructors should be able to teach in a cocktail dress, and class members should be able to take class blindfolded--so true. Pure Barre technique is mental as much as it is physical. I have to concentrate so dilligently, but that's my kind of workout: linking my mind to my body, a relic of ballet days.

Day 4: I come to adore the stretching periods with low lighting as much as the encouragement from the instructors. "Come on girls! The higher the toes, the thinner the thighs" is all they need to say. Sweat dancing on my determined brow, I'll raise you two inches. Done.

Day 6: Okay, I'll be the one to say it. The Pure Barre mats smell awesome. Like, better-than-new-tires awesome.

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