Weekend Getaway: Billings, Mont.

I love taking quick trips on the weekends. Granted, it’s not always long enough, but it gives you enough time away from home to feel like a mini-vacation and not spend a ton of money. Hotels, eating out, etc., can put a pretty big dent in your wallet!
Brett and I have never been to Montana, and Billings is only a four-hour drive from our home. I began researching about places to see and things to do a few weeks before we left. I found a great deal on a hotel and even used a coupon to get $50 off of our stay!
We both got off work a little early Friday and made the drive to Montana. By the time we go into town, we were pretty tired. So we just found our hotel and called it a night.
Brett looking cute on top of the Rimrocks. :)

Brett looking cute on top of the Rimrocks. 🙂

On Saturday, we got up fairly early and found our way to the top of the Rimrocks in Billings. It was incredibly windy, but the view was gorgeous! We walked around for a while, but the wind had us heading back to the car before long. After making our way back into town, we made it a priority to hit the two bookstores in town, Barnes and Noble and Hastings. There is only one bookstore in Casper, and it is tiny! Being able to stroll around these giant stores and browsing through books was like therapy for me. 🙂
burger dive

My lunch at the Burger Dive.

For lunch, we headed to one of the top-ranked restaurants in Billings, the Burger Dive. It was only two blocks from our hotel, so we strolled through downtown Billings to the restaurant. What the restaurant’s building lacked in pizzazz, it made up for in food and service. I highly recommend checking this place out if you are ever in Billings.
After lunch, we did a little more shopping. I had planned for us to go out for a fancy dinner, but we were both beat. I’m not sure what it is about vacations, but I’m always ready for bed by at 8 p.m.
The next morning we had breakfast at a local bakery called Stella’s (also conveniently close to our hotel). Brett had an enormous pancake, and I had French toast. It was delicious!
Taking a selfie near Sheridan!

Taking a selfie near Sheridan!

We decided to leave town early in order to have some time to relax at home. The drive from Billings to Casper was spectacular! It was by far one of my favorite parts of the trip. We stopped a few times along the way to enjoy the view of the Bighorn Mountains.
It was wonderful to get out of town and visit a new place with Brett. Next destination for spring, or so I hope: Yellowstone National Park!

What I think you should be watching, Part II

cuddle buddies

This is how I like to watch TV. 🙂

OK, so I think it’s obvious at this point that I watch a lot of television. But many of these shows air at different times throughout the year, so there is that. 🙂 Here is the second part of my must-watch list:

  1. “Call the Midwife.” I never, ever thought I would like PBS broadcasting so much! I do love “Downton Abbey,” but “Call the Midwife” is another gem on PBS that doesn’t get as much hype. The show follows young nurses in the 1950s providing care to expectant mothers and their babies in East London. The acting is superb, and each week focuses on new patients with a unique story. The bonds the young nurses form with their patients are endearing. Plus, there are always comedic moments throughout the show. I usually wind up giggling or crying. It’s that type of show. “Call the Midwife” airs on PBS.

  2. “The Walking Dead.” I jumped on this bandwagon pretty late in the game. I watched the first season with Brett when it first came out a few years ago. I thought it was OK but didn’t love it. I’m not sure what changed, but I recently binge-watched four seasons in two weeks. I don’t love gore, but what is most interesting about this show is how humans react when the world is turned topsy-turvy. The zombies are pretty disgusting, but how these survivors react to their surroundings and to each other is what makes this show engrossing. Each season has some fresh horrors to deal with it, and it keeps getting grittier and juicier. “The Walking Dead” can be viewed on Netflix and AMC.

  3. Sherlock. And yet another wonderful show from the UK. The best part of this show has to be the chemistry and camaraderie between Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (Martin Freeman). It is so fun to watch them solve wacky, intricate crimes. Each episode is about an hour and a half long, but there are only three episodes in each season. It’s torture getting through it so quickly and then waiting for the next season to come along. “Sherlock” is available on Netflix, PBS or BBC America.

  4. “Grantchester.” I actually haven’t even watched the entire first episode yet, but I can already tell this is going to be a good one! It follows a young clergyman in England who ends up investigating a murder in his town. If you like “Downton Abbey” or “Sherlock,” I’m pretty sure you will like this! It airs on PBS.
  5. And last but not least, Parks and Recreation. Brett and I watched the first couple of seasons of “Parks and Rec” a few years ago, but stopped watching after a while. I have no clue why because it is hilarious! If you liked the style of “The Office,” you more  than likely will love this show. There is always something wacky happening in the Parks and Recreation department in Pawnee, Indiana, and every character is amazing and funny. “Parks and Recreation” can be viewed on Netflix and NBC.

What I think everyone should be watching on TV right now

I know it’s completely cheesy to say, but I feel like being with Brett has brought out my true self, which is a pretty big movie, television and book nerd. A lot of television shows I have become obsessed with are his suggestions. With access to Netflix, Hulu and so many channels on cable, there are so many shows to pick from! I used to watch a lot of reality television, but now I find myself drawn to shows that make me think and that I can absorb myself in for an hour (or hours if it’s on Netflix. Binge-watching, here I come!) Because I love lists and I like to share my opinion on what I think is awesome, here is what I think everyone should be watching on TV right now, in no particular order. My suggestions got a little lengthy, so check back later this week for the next half!

  1. “Orange is the New Black.” If you haven’t watched this, get out from under that rock you are living in and please dive in! The characters in this show are so diverse and have incredible backstories. Each episode shines a light on a character’s life before they were in prison. While these women are criminals, this show portrays them as complicated, real human beings. The acting and storylines are fantastic. You can catch this show on Netflix.
  2. “Orphan Black.” I don’t think I have ever watched a show where after each episode ended, I was left with my mouth gaping. The lead actress, Tatiana Maslany, plays a variety of clones trying to decipher the conspiracy of how they came to be, all the while forming close bonds with one another. It will leave your heart pounding, scratching your head and wanting to watch the next episode immediately! It airs on BBC America.

  3. “Outlander.” I love historic and fantasy films, books, etc. This show combines the two as well as adding some pretty great romance. I have read the first two books in the series, and the show follows the book very closely. Claire is a married combat nurse in 1945, trying to reconnect with her husband after World War II. She is mysteriously transported back in time to 1743 and is swept into the historic events happening in Scotland at the time. It’s a beautiful story set in a beautiful place. Plus, Claire’s love interest in 1743 has a fantastic accent and is easy to watch for an hour each week. 😉 “Outlander” airs on Starz.

  4. “Doctor Who.” This show is one of those fandoms that could go back to the ‘60s. I, however, have not been around that long and have only watched the reboot that began in 2005. It took some time for me to get into it, but because Brett liked it, I gave it a chance. I’m so happy I did! It’s full of adventure, wit, love, history, time traveling and complex, overlapping storylines. If you hate change (yeah, that’s me), this could be a hard show to adapt to. After a few years, the doctor usually regenerates — meaning a whole new actor comes in to play the Doctor. However, this often helps keep the show fresh and exciting. If you enjoy science fiction or fantasy, I’m sure you will love the Doctor. “Doctor Who” is available on Netflix and BBC America.

  5. “The Mindy Project.” I loved “The Office,” and I’m not sure why I didn’t watch Mindy Kaling’s — who appeared in, wrote, directed and produced “The Office” — new show right off the bat. It took some prodding from my best friend, Kendal, to get me to watch it. Needless to say, I binge-watched the first season in two days. It follows Mindy, an OBGYN, working in a practice with three male coworkers. Mindy is hilarious and fabulous. She can be terribly obnoxious and outrageous, but she speaks her mind and doesn’t conform to people’s opinions. I love that! Plus, her supporting cast is equally funny, and there are always snort-inducing one-liners. “The Mindy Project” can be viewed on Fox or Hulu.

Goals for this year and beyond

New Year’s resolutions have never really been my thing. Probably because I was in high school or college, and I was only concerned with celebrating and having fun on New Year’s Eve. Beyond that, I never gave it much thought. Now, I can see why so many people jump on that bandwagon at the beginning of the year. Why wouldn’t you want to set a goal to try to better yourself? It can be something simple, such as eating more fruit or making more time for family. Or maybe you really want to shake things up by training to run a marathon or to travel the world. I always admire people who make changes for the better in their lives, and I want to be one of those people.

I’m setting some goals to better myself for 2015 and beyond. I know I may not attain everything I would like to do, but I’d like to think each little change can lead to something bigger and better.

Here is what I’m hoping to accomplish for my life:

  1. Disconnect! I love my iPhone. I’m one of those annoying people who need to prove myself right, and having the power of Google at my fingertips is kind of amazing. Plus, I can download music and games on it in the blink of an eye. However, do I really need to be scrolling through Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest at 10 p.m. at night? Ugh, no. Put it away! I’d like to think I have gotten much better about this since graduating from college, but I never want to be one of those people who are at dinner and isn’t engaged in conversation with the people I’m with because my phone is glued to my hand. I want to be present and living in the moment sans iPhone.
  2. Read and write more! I have always been an avid reader, but thanks to all the other media surrounding me (mainly TV), I haven’t read as much as I would like to in the past few years. I’m working hard to get in bed earlier to spend an hour or more reading (that’s if I don’t conk out first!). And now that I have a fresh new blog, I want to write a little bit every day. I hope writing this blog will inspire me to take a bigger leap and write short stories, the next great American novel, etc. I can dream, right?
  3. Live healthier! This is by far my biggest challenge. I hate working out, and I love food that is horrible for my health. Sweets and French fries are my downfall. While I still want to indulge every now and then, I want to be the best version of me and feel good about myself. Brett bought me a NutriBullet blender for Christmas, and it’s AH-MAZING!  And I also want to get my heart pumping and sweat dripping once a day.
  4. Become more connected with God. Since meeting Brett, my faith has strengthened considerably. Having a husband with very strong faith and who can answer my questions about religion has helped a lot. My personal knowledge of Christianity isn’t great. I want to find a study Bible that works well for me, and I want to learn more. I’d love to say I have read the Bible in a year, but my goal right now is just reading a little bit each day and expanding my faith.
  5. Give back. I have struggled to find ways to be philanthropic, but it really shouldn’t be that hard. I’d like to find an organization I can volunteer for or just give back in any way I can. I have been pretty blessed to want for little in my life, and I would like to pay it forward to those in need.

By setting realistic goals, I know I’m completely capable of succeeding! Here is to a happy 2015. 🙂

Welcome to Aspects of Ashley!

I’m Ashley, and this blog makes up all the little bits of me that make me, me. That’s a lot of me in one sentence, but I promise I won’t talk about myself 24/7. Instead, I want to talk about all the things I love about this blessing I call my life! Whether it’s my amazing husband, Brett, (who will probably come up A LOT! He is kind of awesome, and I like to brag about his awesomeness), my dogs, my cats, traveling, family, shopping, movies, books, TV shows, friends, pop culture, etc., if I’m thinking about it, I want to write about it.

If you don’t know me already, then you should know I’m a 25-year-old Nebraska girl living in Wyoming. I married Brett two years ago, and marriage is by far the best decision I have ever made. Binge watching television shows while cuddled on the couch with Brett, our two dogs and two cats has become one of my favorite pastimes. I read past my bedtime, eat way too many powdered doughnuts and I love to cook and bake. I have proudly embraced my nerdiness in my 20s, and I am a huge fan of all things “Harry Potter,” “Doctor Who,” “Lord of the Rings” and much more. Going to a movie with my husband is my idea of a fantastic date, especially if there are peanut M&Ms involved. My family and friends are by far the most important part of my life. I love to travel, but coming home after sleeping in a strange bed, wearing wrinkly clothes from a suitcase and eating terribly for a week, is bliss! My dream vacation is to visit England, Scotland and Ireland. I’m an enormous animal lover. I sometimes think I should have been a veterinarian or zoologist, but I hated science. The animals are probably better off without me. Writing is one of my other great passions. I have a much easier time of saying what I want to say on paper (or in this case, on a computer) than I do verbally. And I do enjoy saying what is one my mind. I wrote a relationship blog, Table for Two, for my first job. I absolutely loved it, and I plan to continue to talk about my marriage. However, while my marriage is incredibly important to me, I want to talk about other things I adore or abhor. It’s a fresh start for me, and I’m excited to see where this path will lead. And I happily invite you along for the ride. 🙂