Friday, January 31, 2014

Working Man's Fairy Tale

Mr. Ramey looked up to find me taking photos of the work he and Brett were doing. They were cutting a metal frame that came from underneath a truck into pieces, like you do. He walked over while Brett was working the chainsaw and said to me, "You really like this kind of stuff, don't you?" Of course I do. There were flames and the smell of oil. We're in the middle of the mountains in gorgeous Rabun County, Georgia. It isn't glamorous but it's goooood money, Honey. AND there's just something about watching a man wield a roaring blade against steel dragons that gets my heart pumping every time. Brett's manly physique is so very obvious when he's lifting a few hundred pounds at a time... loading the heavy pieces one by one. After the battle he drives me away in a white pick up truck. I've even got a thing for his lumberjack beanie and vintage Levi's pearl snap. I was never one for fairy tales but this one set is getting good. 

Icicle Azaleas

Guess what? It snowed in Georgia. Google has over 137,000,000 other sites available with information for you to get a good laugh over the catastrophe. I bet I'll be the one of the only ones with pictures of an azalea blooming with icicles! As I pulled into my drive I noticed them glittering with sunlight as if they were chandeliers hanging from the eves of my house.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

You Should Be Eating at Crossroads Cafe

Crossroads Cafe is a little joint located in Clarkesville, Georgia. If you're looking for the spot where the locals go to eat the food they've been loving and surviving off of for years, this is it. Named recently by Clarkesville as 'Business of the Month', Crossroads Cafe aptly deserves the title for being a staple in so many diets. It is quite common to see local EMC and contracting crews, city employees, and other men and women who spend their days serving you preparing for their days with breakfast or refueling with lunch. Brett and I are often there for breakfast or lunch but today breakfast was so good we had to go back for lunch. It may have been we timed our breakfast at 10:30 on our trip out of town and lunch was being cooked as we ate. The smell was on our minds the whole time we were gone and by 2:00 we were sitting down again in our favorite booth for lunch.

The best part about eating at Crossroads Cafe is the hot bar designed to mimic the old school 'blue plate special'. There is a set weekly menu that offers a different variety of home cooked goods every day. Pictured here to the left is fried chicken, green beans, onion, salmon patties, mashed potatoes, macaroni, black eye peas, okra, corn and brown gravy... hungry yet? On top of all of that selection, they haven't forgotten the 'taste of home' staples such as tomato and raw onion slices.

For lunch today Brett had country fried steak and gravy, mashed potatoes and gravy, and fried okra:

Guess what?! They don't only have a hot bar. There's also an entire grill menu and a soup and salad menu. If you care for a lighter fare, like I happened to today, there's even a cold plate menu! How could you not find something you love with all of those options? I chose to try the chicken salad {made truly Southern with home roasted chicken, mayo, and sweet relish} on a bed of lettuce and a side of potato salad with tomato slices. I was not disappointed. Next I'm already planning on having the tuna salad with a side of macaroni salad! 

I have to add that in true fashion of a town favorite you feel appreciated from the moment you walk into the door and get your cheery greeting. I greatly appreciate the low fuss service with a smile from someone you feel you have known your whole life. I have only been dining here for a short while compared to their lengthy 10+ years of being in business but every time I walk in I feel like the people I'm with have known me for years. It's nice. When I smile at people, they smile back. People would like you to think that the pleasant caring disposition of Southern Hospitality is just a 'way of the people' but they're wrong. It's a tradition, a state of mind of those who choose to see the good in the day to day living. In my experience lately business owners and employees alike seem to have forgotten to carry it along. Not these people. Jo and her employees obviously care.

If you just gotta know what else they offer or if you are totally indulging yourself, I took the liberty of typing up their daily menu *subject to change:

Fried Chicken, Meatloaf, Beef Livers, Chicken Tenders, Creamed Potatoes, Green Beans, Potato Salad, Slaw, Cream Corn, Steamed Cabbage, Mac & Cheese, Baby Lima Beans, Okra, Banana Pudding, Pineapple Pudding, & Peach Cobbler

Fried Chicken, Salmon, Chicken Pot Pie, Mac & Beef Casserole, Chicken Tenders, Brunswick Stew, Cream Potatoes, Green Beans, Hominy, Slaw, Potato Salad, Black Eye Peas, Mac & Cheese, Turnip Greens, Cabbage Casserole, Banana Pudding, Chocolate Pudding, & Strawberry Cobbler

Fried Chicken, Fried Pork Tenderloin, BBQ Chicken, Chicken Tenders, Cubed Steak & Gravy, Cream Potatoes, Green Beans, Potato Salad, Slaw, Whole Kernel Corn, Rice, Steamed Cabbage, Pinto Beans, Fried Squash, Banana Pudding, Pineapple Pudding, & Blackberry Cobbler

Fried Chicken, Chicken & Dressing, Beef Tips with Gravy, Country Fried Steak, Chicken Tenders, Cream Potatoes, Green Beans, Potato Salad, Slaw, Whole Kernel Corn, English Peas, Rice, Fried Okra, Sweet Potato Souffle, Navy Beans, Banana Pudding

Frie Chicken, Fried Catfish, Hamburger Steak & Onions, Baked Chicken, Chicken Tenders, Cream Potatoes, Green Beans, Potato Salad, Slaw, Whole Kernel Corn, Baked Beans, Mac & Cheese Broccoli Casserole, Soup Beans, Great Northern Beans, Banana Pudding, Coconut Pudding, and Strawberry Cobbler

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dating for Dinner {With Friends}

Lake Rabun Hotel Restaurant
Lakemont, Georgia

My girlfriend Beth shares a birthday month with me and so thankfully there is always a reason to celebrate in January. This year our husbands treated us to a night on the town, well, lake with dinner at Lake Rabun Hotel. Our reservations were set for 5:30 so our long drive {about 20 minutes from Clarkesville} that took us around the winding lakeside road was timed for a winter sunset. As I was walking up to the hotel across the stone paved walk way, I noticed this place is quite the romantic getaway... especially if you like fairytales. The lodge style hotel is quaint and aptly decorated to give way to an ambience reminiscent of a hidden cabin in the woods and it faces the beauty of Lake Rabun, a pristine crisp water tucked into the low country hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

 photo courtesy
photo courtesy
click the photo to be taken to the restaurant website
So what to say about our supper? We had an amazing seat near the windows adjacent the bar, we had amazing attention served to us along with a polite compliance to our request that we have a lengthy meal. Backstory: My Mom tells me about dinner in Europe and how when you take a table at the restaurant it is assumed you'll be there all evening and dine for hours. I have always wanted to take that much time to dine and wine! Our evening took us through 4 courses and a bottle of wine in about three hours.

There is a new chef at the restaurant and I do think he deserves his credit. Chef Ryan Spruhan was named a Best Chefs America chef in 2013 (BCA Award), which kinda speaks for itself doesn't it? I could not wait to experience what he had to offer us. The menu was filled with so many delicious suggestions, complete with newly added dishes from the chef, that we debated every item. We started our dinner with fried green tomatoes that were served with grits and blackened shrimp and then ended up not being able to resist the newly added classic style french onion soup, roasted cauliflower & parsnip bisque, and a winter salad. Each of us was satisfied at this point but anxious to try our main courses. We ordered pork shoulder that was topped with pomegranate seeds and served with fried sweet potatoes, rice, braised kale; a cajun style shrimp and grits; crab cakes {made of crab and not filler, so good!} with honey roasted carrots;  and a satisfying vegetarian dish of creamed parsnip, rice, braised kale, with pomegranate seed and garnished with pecan and a mustard seed honey. I also managed to indulge my tastebuds with a flour less chocolate torte and Beth had a blood orange infused creme brulee. We left happy campers with love in our bellies from a new favorite restaurant. I think that's quite a perfect treat for my birthday! It's no secret good conversation and deliciousness are the way to my heart. 

P.S.  Excuse the following poor image quality of my photos of our meal. My 3G iPhone camera was all I had to work with and turns out it isn't candlelight compatible, imagine that

Wednesday, January 15, 2014



Time is moving slowly today; an unexpected and pleasant gift for the two of us.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Happy Birthday! Love, Tupac

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside while still alive. Never surrender.”
— Tupac Shakur

Brett says my birthday quote is 'dark'. Perhaps it is at first glance. Tupac spoke to me though, and what better day to contemplate death than a day marking one year closer to it? 

I thought today of what may have 'died' inside of me over the years. I couldn't come up with much; and the only conclusion I can draw from that? I'm pretty damn lucky to have managed to continue to breathe life into my dreams and to learn from my nightmares... but I didn't {and don't} do it alone. I know I'm loved by the efforts of those made to keep me happy, within means to dream, and forgiveness for failed attempts and trip-falls. 

As for the hell? Never Surrender & Rise Above. Always.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

3 Days Left of 28

Today means so much to me. It is the last Saturday before I turn 29. With only three days to go, I am looking forward to a year I have wanted to experience for a lifetime. I find it is common to connect with people over dreams. My best friends have been the girls I day dreamed about my future with. We all had big plans and dreams that were expected to come true before 30, such a long time away! How differently things turned out... at least on my side of the fence.

Ashley Marie: Remember when we were children?
Ashley: When 'young' meant us children and not the adults - meaning anyone over 18?
Ashley Marie: Yeah. Now 'young' is relative to maturity. I remember when we were children and women worried about having babies before they were 30 and the thought of not being 'settled' was enough to fear the town would talk... I remember what I thought about 30 is much different than how I feel about 30 now that it's becoming a reality.
Ashley: I wanted to live. By the time I was 30 I wanted to discover and experience and breathe! No settling, though not marrying seemed unlikely due to the religious upbringing I had... regardless. No babies. Not ever.
Ashley Marie: Oh yes, but you have to live with someone. Of course it would be much grander to have someone to share the memory with when I'm old.
Ashley: Old Lark's Club, here I come! I thought by 30 I would be ready to settle down and then get married. Perhaps then have children. Although... so I guess I always planned to have children about this time anyway.
Ashley Marie: It's not like I didn't live. Goodness the excitement was fit for a small town girl! Wasn't it?
Ashley: Bless your heart, ma' dear. Close enough, I suppose! I love the lights. I love the action of a city, the way it never sleeps. Ha, the places to wind up! Chinese restaurants, after parties, back seats with loud music and long legs tipped with stilettos... Painted lips, the drawings on bathroom walls, the photos with strangers... I have gotten to live in front of and behind the lights. I have found answers in places most would be too frightened to look. I have helped bond friendships and guided lives based on those experiences! I have been able to experience chaos and cross lines and make daring choices and feel reckless and free...
Ashley Marie: I'm thankful for the ones that will remember those crazy nights. I miss them, I feel as though they are fading away, or like I'm missing out.
Ashley: The people or the nights? Who ever thought I'd have children by now... and so many!
Ashley Marie: Both! The head start is nice though. If I was going to have a family better when I'm young and head strong
Ashley: and too broke to do what you'd rather be doing
Ashley Marie: AND exhausted from such an experience as 18 thru 26. I nearly made it 10 years, there is no sense in complaining about that! When I'm older and 'freer' I'll have a head start on where to go and what to do. I've already dealt with the fear of the unknown.
Ashley: Ugh. I feel like whining. There's so much responsibility that comes with that decade of 'thirty'. Whyyyyyy!?
Ashley Marie: Oh good grief. Who better to figure out how to handle kids AND live? After all, I have children's live to fill with wonder. What greater adventure can be had than that of one on the coat tails of youth?
Ashley: The babies are amazing. Their minds have yet to let me down!
Ashley Marie: I think their youth leads way to take away the stress of starting a new quest. They are in themselves a quest. Each one, 18 - 19 - 20 years long!
Ashley: Yessss. Yay. Your optimism is enchanting. Enjoy bizarre evenings inappropriate for children before you look like your too old to. Besides, it's  not like you can't leave them at home. Ha!
Ashley Marie: Not yet. Sometimes. Regardless, I have another year before I become psychologically handicapped by my age. You know, like wearing Forever 21 after the day you turn 22?
Ashley: They do have cute clothes though... why be so persistent to set boundaries? As if rules ever let anyone live a life. Remember 29 was supposed to be a reflection of how amazing 27 was. The beauty, experience, wit, and connections with enough courage to take control and live the most favorite way of all the lives I admired in that time. Before I became too responsible to crave being rambunctious.
Ashley Marie: I certainly have met beautiful women with unbelievable stories. And kids. Kids who grew up to be successful none-the-less.
Ashley: Just do it. Become that woman. Get your shit together and take on the part. Remember that blog I had, "Mommy Has a Life?"
Ashley Marie: Hm. Do both. Both is best. "Between two evils, I always pick the one I haven't tried before." said Mae West. Right?

In my opinion, {Ashley: I obviously watch too many political tv shows...) finding the balance necessary to happily enjoy the oh-so-near future, and 29 the way I'd dreamt it would be {Ashley: You mean 'not pregnant with fourth child, right?} is to accept the place I'm in as the middle of an adventure that's already started. 29 is a fitting time to stabilize home and celebrate still like that night... back when. {Ashley: That I nailed. Like a pro.} On a Tuesday.

Back When

Friday, January 10, 2014

Emotional Exorcism

I was just watching Guitar Center Sessions with Nic Harcourt. I have not previously made an effort to watch the show but the guest was Gary Allen. I've been a sucker for 'Watching Airplanes' since I was a little girl riding in the back seat daydreaming out of the window. Well, listening to his influences (i.e. Johnny Cash to 70's punk rock) and hearing of his 'Country music is about Monday through Friday' and telling the truth about every aspect of life helped me to connect a bit more. For example, his cover of Vertical Horizon's single 'Best I Ever Had' was not just a cover... his wife had committed suicide and his writing was stunted and so he chose a song to cover in lieu of writing one because he just, couldn't. That basically covers my obsession with music. I listen to relate to the emotion and to realize the feeling is mutual with people, strangers in the same state of mind make the world feel smaller... because I can't do it myself, no talent in that department. I've made peace with that.

Nic Harcourt asked an amazing question during the interview. He asked if Gary experienced 'some sort of emotional exorcism' when he wrote. What a stunning question and how startling to realize the answer is true to me as well, 'Oh, yes.' He described the occurrence as therapeutic and it came to me, as it has several times during slow moments in my mind, that music has always been a resounding force in my life. Every moment is relatable to some genre, some emotion, some song. Perhaps that's what's been missing. The only time I listen to music any more is in the car, and I'm subjected to some radio dj's playlist. Now's about the time I commandeer this ship and bring back some soul. Besides, my life isn't the kind of life that can be sustained by watching someone else's life happen.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Mommy Wears Osh Kosh

Way back when I was weird. I had days when I didn't want anyone to know and then days when I was unabashed and certainly not ashamed of being different. Until one day Mom and I were shopping in Traverse City and I fell in love with a pair of overalls. They were dark wash, loose fitting, and had a white star embroidered on the front bib. This particular pair was held up with strings that you tied in the back. They were just cool enough to not be too weird. Then, like most everything else, I made them weird. I dipped my hands in white paint and put hand prints all over them. I wore them to school and now I know what it's like to be the girl that maybe but maybe not is pulling that off... Looking back, getting audibly laughed at didn't bother me that day because I was in love with what I was wearing. I defended my outfit and thus defended myself. Those bibs were an expression of who I was and who I wanted to be. I wanted to be different and forge my own path and for whatever reason that morning, I was daring and willing to put myself out there.

I now have a new pair of overalls. These come straight from the closet of my 73 years young father-in-law. They are already broken in where they should be and the fit is loose enough to let the breeze in, if you catch my drift. Trust me, blackberry picking in 100 degree Georgia weather makes you appreciate a well placed breeze. I wear them around the 40 acres like I'm Tom Sawyer's niece on a mission. They're my full access wear. Once again, bibs are taking part as an expression of who I am today.

This outfit says it all. Well, all there is to say really of the past several months. This is how I have looked:

Tank Top: from my punk rock days, circa 2005ish
Bibs: Osh Kosh
Boots: hand me down
Hat: Husband's, from highschool

Thursday, June 20, 2013

I Hit Rock Bottom With a Bang

Dear Me, My Best Friend + All Of My Imaginary Friends,


Love to You,

Ashley Marie
28th Year

You want to talk about a rough year? Nah. Well, maybe. I really want to tout my survival. Over these past 13 months I found out truths of lies that devastate me. I have found out things that made me want to turn my back on love and run for anywherebuthere. My picture perfect fresh start turned out to be anything but. How did I get to here? To today? How did I make it? I have something to say about maturity. Coming to terms with reality and taking responsibility is hard, especially when there are other lives complicating things but lives that also depend on your ability to be an adult. It's rough when you are really trying to muster up the courage to run to your mother and blow your cover of "Everything is great!" but it takes all of your energy to try desperately to shield your children from the stark realizations you are having. I feel as though I am the child in The Giver who has realized pain in the world for the first time. As a victim of several childhood abuses, I never thought I would suffer so vastly as an adult. I have spent my entire life fighting to not be an adult victim. However, as one dark day clouded the next and then the one after that went up in flames and then the one after that I lost completely... I have flashbacks of myself lying on the floor in a flood of tears and sorrow, I have flashbacks of myself pitching fits to rival Catherine Linton's, I have flashbacks of those times I tried to get out of life. I am a victim of not only my surroundings but my mind. With just enough support to keep my lifeless head out of the water, I have survived. As a plus, I survived with no visible scars and not a single {obvious} mental disorder. Yay Me!

How? That's a loaded question.

I guess realizing that where you are, no matter who's fault it is, doesn't matter nearly as much as who you are while you are there. You can either let your surrounding consume you or fuel you. I'll be damned if I give up and live like this for the rest of my life. Although, I would be remiss if I did not count the blessings that I receive that have given me a place to pull strength from. I not only have relationships to nurture to keep me alive but also a certainty of support in case I to need to rely on someone besides myself for protection from a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. That, ma' dears, is how I made it through.

"Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away."

Here, I wrote this:

As I look at myself in the mirror, it is as if I just woke from a sleep that relieved me of the past year. I have come to this place by way of an epic journey. The details are not as important as the success of endurance. Determination, blood sweat & tears, damned stubbornness, sheer willpower, and love have been my companions. I can see the effect these experiences have had on my age. Twenty eight years of thread have already spun a tapestry of such detail and story. This is the tale of the pretty girl in the trailer park.

Well, there's much to share and many ways and days to let it happen. Later.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

On New Beginnings

I have been soooo busy. Too busy for the internet and trust me, I'm like you, so that's like, a big BIG deal. I have finally managed to throw a few bags overboard and now spend less time saving a sinking ship!

One of the things I've been working the most on is my farm. Not just the plowing, planting, and upkeep of the gardens (yes, plural) but the image, design, face, marketing, media presence, dreams, goals, plans, certifications, and morecrapIdon'twanttothinkaboutrightnow. All of this is a tad bit overwhelming. Today I decided to do what I do when I get overwhelmed: play. As usual I opened Pinterest and began to soak up as much inspiration as possible, which is usually a pretty entertaining adventure I enjoy. However, do you know what happened? I got hella discouraged. I saw all of these photos of gorgeously designed farms and read blogs of people who know more and are so much farther along all over the country. I saw people doing exactly what I wanted to be doing and they were doing it so well I didn't even want to bother being creative anymore. Um, kind of a reverse emotion to 'inspiration'. Somehow, I started to feel insignificant. I am so impatient and I want to be further along in my efforts of doing what we're doing. Plus, even though starting from scratch and getting to choose your path is liberating, it's also terrifying to those of you like me who just can't ever pick the BEST of the best of the BEST one, you know? "Where do we go from here?" has so many possibilities! I always seem to spoken to at just the right time:

Also, I read this post on Megan Gilger's blog: Staying Sane? and it helped put everything into perspective and give myself a freakin break. Just because I have not been able to do everything I want to do does not mean that I haven't gotten anything done. I am right where I want to be, I just have to keep going. Keep GOING. You're still #GSD. (BOOM! Look at me being all up to the what nots with the culture and all. Honestly, I am not sure how long I have been out of the loop but I just learned a few days ago what #GSD stood for. Wow.)

Then, I read this on HelloGiggles and it made me laugh: 

Now I've accomplished something else, a blog post! Two, actually. You can check out what else I've been doing here: I'm about to completely revamp my sites, has anyone seen an up to date 'Bring Your Blog Up To Date' type post? I need help catching up on what I should be providing my readers. For reals.


Check it:

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