Places I’ll Remember

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There are places I remember
all my life, though some have changed.
Some forever, not for better.
And some have gone, and some remain.

All these places have their moments
with lovers and friends I still can’t recall.
Some are dead and some are living.
In my life I love them all. [The Beatles]

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You know that experience when you leave a place and “say see you later”, but don’t actually know the next time you’ll be seeing it? Then weeks, months or maybe even years later you go back to that place and it’s as if nothing ever changed; didn’t skip a beat and just continued as if you had never left at all. Is there a word for this? Whatever it is, I simply love it. I love that you’re both so comfortable and know each other so well. I love having that connection, it makes leaving just a bit easier because you know when reunited what you’re coming back to. It’s almost a sense of safety and security.

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Cayucos: Summer of ’96

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Cayucos: Fall of ’15 [we traded in ice cream for ales]

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In this vast world it’s hard to find a place to make you feel comforted and special like this. I’ve traveled to many places and find this experience to be very rare. Two sweet beach towns that lie on the edge of the central coast of California have this very rare quality. Cayucos and Carmel have little pieces of my heart. Each time we meet its as if nothing has ever changed. These places played roles in making me who I am. They watched me grow.

But places aren’t the same as people, because when you leave a person you will not encounter the same one upon reuniting. They’re always slightly different. They’ve changed; even if it’s a minute shift. When we leave people, we take with us visions of how they were; memories that help when that persons gone and far away.

People evolve. They are ever moving. No person will be the same way they were when you left them. They meet new people that open their eyes in ways they never thought possible. New experiences change them and the way they see the world can slowly shift as well. So as I begin to embark on a new phase in my life I can’t promise that when I come back I will be exactly the same person. No, that would be ridiculous to assume. But I can promise to take all that I experience and learn, and make it a beautiful chapter in my growing story. I can only hope that when I return I will be an even better version of myself.

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❝So, what if, instead of thinking about solving your whole life, you just think about adding additional good things. One at a time. Just let your pile of good things grow. ❞Attachments, Rainbow Rowell

 

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To those I love, just know I’ll be back. Like an old Australian Proverb says: “We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.” Remember this isn’t goodbye; its see you later.

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-xo ash

ps: To those who have helped shape me like the places and people in these pictures, thank you…in my life I love you all. (Anna, my kindred spirit, thank you for giving these places that much more meaning. Promise to let Tommy dance with YOU next time 😉 )Anna and Me


Carmel Favorites:

  • While in Carmel-by-the-Sea save your appetite and check out my favorite little Italian restaurant, Little Napoli. It is seriously the best! I always order the same thing and it never gets old. Be sure to order the crab bisque, steamed manilla clams and of course Chef Pepe’s famous garlic flatbread. Made from a 100 year old family recipe it will transport your taste buds to Italian citys like Rome, Naples, Sorrento or Capri! If there’s still room, have a cappuccino and share the Tiramisu..you wont be sorry.

    Cayucos Favorites

  • Run off all the food you ate at Little Napoli and take a jog on my favorite stretch of beach, Sand Dollars. Perfectly named, this public beach is littered with little white sand dollars early in the morning and has the best view of both Morro Bay and downtown Cayucos. I love getting up early and jogging on the sand, or finishing the day watching the sunset and strolling.

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Week of the Shark!

It started like any other cloudy day in Cayucos. I was visiting my aunt and cousins like I had done every summer for the past couple of years, but this summer had been different. It was the first time we were allowed to stay home alone during the day. Neighbors were informed we were unaccompanied, so we were checked in on from time to time. I woke this morning with a need for adventure. I ran to my cousin Brian’s room and hurled myself onto his bed. “Brian! Let’s go to the beach! Please!!!” He quickly hid underneath his cave of blankets; “Get out Ashley! I’m sleeping!” I asked multiple times, whining and complaining until he finally got up. He told me that the weather wasn’t suitable to swim in the ocean, plus he didn’t feel like going in the water. The water on the central coast is especially cold and murky and he didn’t feel like pulling on his tight wet suit. Suddenly a small smirk appeared on his face, (I should have known he was up to no good). He was unusually nice as he poured us both bowls of cereal. “I have a better idea. Lets watch a movie! Have you ever seen “Jaws”?” I paused, thought about it for a second, “Nope.” He ran to the television set and pushed in a VHS tape. As the story unraveled my eyes we’re glued to the screen. I remember my heart speeding up and going along with the music each time the shark appeared in the water. Once the movie ended I slowly turned and looked out the window. A large stretch of uninhibited beach that lay directly across the street from the house sat quietly. It’s only a movie I thought to myself.

As I turned to walk the long hallway to the back room Brian who was dressed in black board shorts, a black O’Neill rash guard with his blue boogie board in hand greeted me. “What are you doing?!” I asked with hesitation. “We’re going to the beach and you have to go in the water! I’m older and watching you so you have to do what I say” he exclaimed. “No! Please, Brian! I don’t want to go to the beach anymore!” Knowing I was deathly afraid of being left alone he told me I had five minutes to get ready or he’d leave without me. I ran to my room, threw on a bathing suit and rash guard, and met up with Brian as he was walking out the door. The whole walk to the beach all Brian talked about was the movie. “Did you see the rows of teeth on that shark?! It bit that girl right in half, crazy huh?” As we approached the beach I told myself to be brave. Brian ran into the water “Come on you chicken!” I’m tired of being called a chicken, I can go in just like you, I thought. As we swam and time went on my fear of what lied beneath on the ocean floor vanished. It was that day I became infatuated with the ocean AND sharks!

Each year I geek out and mark my calendar for the best week of the year…SHARK WEEK! I’m fascinated with the biggest predators of the sea, (so much so that cage diving with Great Whites is on the top of my bucket list.)

For many, watching Shark Week each year has turned sharks from what used to be man-eating monsters into majestic creatures. I applaud the marine biologist and researchers that put so much time and effort into creating educational yet exciting episodes for viewers to enjoy. They’ve helped changed the opinions of so many people. I’ve learned sharks don’t purposefully swim rampantly looking to consume humans. Ultimately, we must remember when entering the ocean we are no longer guaranteed anything, we have entered their home. We must learn to respect these amazing creatures, their habitat and continue to educate ourselves with the hope that attacks on humans AND the capturing and inhumane slaughtering of sharks decrease over time.

My gold leaf shark tooth necklace is my favorite!

My gold leaf shark tooth necklace is my favorite!

Unfortunately, the practice of killing sharks for their fins has put these amazing creatures at risk. Shark fin soup is a delicacy in China and finning sharks, leaving more than 95% of their dead bodies to waste away and sink to the bottom of the ocean floor, has become a very serious and sad reality for many sharks. The shark population around the world has begun to steadily decline, with 100 million sharks being slaughtered each year to meet the markets demand. What most people don’t know is that shark fins have no nutritional value and contain high levels of mercury and BMAA, a neurotoxin linked to neurodegenerative diseases in humans; like Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig disease. With programs like Shark Week and the help of people around the world we can continue to educate ourselves and help our fish friends.


SPREAD THE WORD:

  • A little goes a long way! Help sharks around the world by donating to organizations committed to help save sharks. There are multiple great shark conservation groups but my ultimate favorite is Sea Shepard and United Conservationist. By donating to these marine and shark conservationist you to can help decrease the number of finned sharks in our oceans waters.
  • Buy #finfree products. Lucky for me one of my favorite stores LUSH partnered up with Discovery Channels Shark Week and has given us all the opportunity to connect and help our finned friends. With every purchase of the specially made, vegan free shark fin soap, LUSH will give 100% of the proceeds to United Conservationist. If soaps not your thing, you can purchase this months charity pot; a hand and body lotion that smells like heaven. All proceeds go to PangeaSeed; whose main focus is to “raise awareness and education for the conservation and preservation of oceans and marine species.”
  • Use your voice! Help sharks by simply talking about them. Defend them with the facts you know when they are talked about in a negative light. [FACT: Cows kill more than five times the number of humans than sharks do! I’m staying away from cows!] Educate yourself about these stunning animals and voice the need for a #finfree ocean! Knowledge is power!

Have an amazing shark week, and please don’t be afraid to jump in the water! Respect the ocean and its sharks, and remember, we’re their biggest threat AND their only hope! “Fish are friends NOT food!”

Get in the water!

-xo ash

PS: Thanks Bri for making me go into the water that day! Hope you’re making a splash in the land of maple leaves and hockey. Love and miss you!—Shout out to the Norling Aquarium for allowing me to shoot with their sharks. Danielle you’re the best!

Thanks John Williams- two notes and you made a villain! Totally brilliant!

Made in the U.S.A.

Be young, be dope, be proud-like an American!

Be young, be dope, be proud-like an American!

“Cause people will tune in how many train wrecks do we need to see before we loose touch. We thought this was low, well its bad, getting worse. Where’d all the good people go? I’ve been changing channels I don’t see them on the TV shows.”-Jack Johnson

There’s a rise in divorce, unsettling images of war, children suffering from hunger, disease and poverty, mass shootings, robberies; sadly the list goes on and on. In today’s world it can be easy to read an online article or turn on the television and watch with anguish as to where our world is heading. It seems more and more these days I see a bunch of negative stories being broadcasted.

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I watch with a heavy heart, hoping maybe, just maybe there might be a small positive story that becomes my glimpse of light and hope for the world. Some say the state that our country is in, is questionable. I’ve found it hard to quickly argue back. It can be easy to take the cynical and negative road when talking about our country and that in my opinion is never good. So, I’ve decided to spin things around and have us look at the positives our country has achieved and been through. I’ve composed a list of things that make me proud to be an American. I hope this list will spark a small dose of patriotism and make you just as proud to live in our special country!

Made in the U.S.A.

Made in the U.S.A.


  • (Probably my favorite reason I can proudly say I am an American) The USA is a nation founded by a bunch of true rebels! 239 years ago these renegades built 13 colonies and eventually won their independence standing up to a King. Freedom-Sweet freedom! As time passed our country transformed into a melting pot of diverse cultures and people who were created EQUAL with the unalienable rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!”

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  • We landed on the moon! This still trips me out. In 1969, while in a race with the Soviet Union, a bunch of space geniuses at NASA found a way to put astronauts in a space shuttle, took them into outer space and made an American the first and only human to land on the moon! That’s out of this world if you ask me!
  • We started the best musical genres ever! Rock n Roll and Blues! The Blues was primarily started by the African American population and started a wave of influence in the musical world; eventually creating Rock n Roll! We have some of the worlds best Blues and Rock n Roll artists! B.B. King, Bessie Smith, Muddy Waters, Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Stevie Wonder…(I could continue for a very long time) the list goes on and on. Sure the Brits get credit for The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who but we take all the credit for putting those groups on the map. How could anyone forget February 9th, 1969; Ed Sullivan introduced the world to the Beatles. America to the world: “You’re welcome!”
  • Baseball! Sure the game might be a bit slow but it’s still our sport and I couldn’t be prouder when singing the national anthem at the ballpark! Enjoy some peanuts and cracker jacks and have the US Air Force Thunderbirds fly over the stadium and you’re sure to have chills race down your back! We can thank our good ‘ole US of A for legends like Babe Ruth, Sandy Koufax, Jackie Robinson and Joe Dimaggio.
  • United we stand! I’ve never seen a group of people come together in the midst of chaos and confusion as fast as Americans can. Through trials and tribulations, although our views and opinions vastly differ, we always seem to put our differences aside during important times in our nations history and stand together as one!
  • The next time you get off a long plane ride and call or text your loved ones that you touched down safely you can thank American Wright Bros for inventing flying and Alexander Grand Bell for inventing the telephone.
  • Southern Charm! Where else in the world can you enjoy a piece of fried chicken, corn bread, a cold beer and apple pie a la mode on a hot summer afternoon, America!-that’s where! Add a country tune on the speakers and you can basically transport yourself to any southern state.

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  • America the beautiful! We are so incredibly lucky to live in a country that has some of the world’s most beautiful natural landscapes! While traveling Europe I was on the tube in London listening to some young Brits talk about their “holidays” to the States. I smiled with a sense of pride as I heard them boast about their experiences in Yellow Stone National Park, The Grand Canyon, Zion and Yosemite. We’re so lucky to live in a country under beautiful spacious skies with majestic views from ‘sea to shining sea’.

I know there are plenty of other reasons of why I can say I am proud to be an American but quiet frankly there isn’t enough time. I know tomorrow as I’m sitting on the beach watching fireworks glisten in the summer night sky I’ll refer back to this list. I’ll remember with a thankful heart what the first American rebels did to ensure my freedom and as the Zac Brown Band sings “thank God for my life, for the stars and stripes. May freedom forever fly, let it ring! Salute the ones who’ve died, the ones that give their lives, so we don’t have to sacrifice all the things we love…”

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Blessed to share this country with awesome friends like those seen in the pictures above. I can proudly say the girls pictured are young, free, beautiful, intelligent, independent, funny modern day American women. I’m so lucky to call them my friends! I hope you all have a wonderful and safe July 4th and remember “be young, be dope, be proud-like an American!”

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-xo ash

P.S.- Meg and Lex you’re both amazing! Can’t thank you enough for a fun shoot. Trying to light sparklers at sunset on the beach while the wind was whirling past us and nearly burning our thumbs with that lighter will forever go down in history as the funniest photo shoot moment to date! Thanks for making me laugh so hard that I couldn’t breathe! Who need to workout when you’ve got the funniest friends to give you a fun ab workout laughing the afternoon away?! Oh-and special thanks to our four legged friend Nova (aka Novary!) a real sport!

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 presetCouldn’t decide on one song so for the hip crowd I picked Lana and for the traditionalist I picked Zac Brown. Enjoy!

Gladiator Games

Summers “IT” shoe has always been the sandal… but this summers sandal isn’t just any sandal it’s the fashion forward Gladiator sandal! Worn by warriors in combat in A.D. 80, actors in the 30’s, models in the 60’s and celebrities today, this seasons key shoe is sure to have people doing double takes; and why wouldn’t it?!

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DISCLAIMER: Not just anyone can dawn this iconic sandal! Note that it takes a specific woman to wear the famous Gladiator. To compete in the Gladiator Games a woman must posses a certain level of confidence and poise. After all, the sandal was depicted in ancient art as being worn by Greek goddesses. Like ancient Gladiators you must be brave when wearing the sandal.

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“We gladiate but I guess we’re really fighting ourselves. Roughing up our minds so we’re ready when the kill time comes!”-Lorde

Mentally prepare yourself! Not everyone will understand the fashion forward sex appeal that is the Gladiator and will have no problem voicing their opinions and doing so loudly. That’s okay, they don’t have to like it, as long as you know who you are and love the way you feel that’s all that matters! Be ready to make headlines!

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When stepping into the sandal, remember that you aren’t just wearing everyday footwear, you’re dawning a piece of history… so wear it proudly! Stand up straight with shoulders back knowing you can conquer anything put in front of you (just like ancient Gladiators)!

“Give a girl the right shoes and she CAN conquer the world!”-m.m.

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History of the Gladiator Sole

Emperor Titus of the Flavian Dynasty opened the Roman Coliseum to the public in A.D. 80; its main purpose was to promote public welfare and decrease the opulence that was created by evil emperor Nero in prior years. Titus opened the Coliseum mainly for entertainment. The arena took on a life of its own hosting a festival with 100 days of games, Gladiatorial combats, mock naval fights and wild animal feuds. More than 50,000 spectators crammed into the large amphitheater to watch Gladiators engage in combat. Early on Gladiators were merely slaves, prisoners that had committed serious crimes and conquered people from around the world. But because of the fame, popularity and money that came with the Gladiator fights, new combatants rose through the crowds. Men, and WOMEN, signed up voluntarily. These men and women trained, willing to fight and show their skill in an amphitheater filled with roaring fans, in need of an entertaining show. Gladiators fought in the hot Italian sun and demolished the Coliseum ground, which was covered in sand to absorb blood from battle. To help protect their feet Gladiator sandals were created and made from the highest quality leather with long thin straps that would tie up around the ankle and calf. Sandals were ancient Rome’s most worn type of footwear. After the gladiator combats the sandals became a marker of status, with the finest leather being used for sandals on those in higher rankings. —I believe ancient gladiators would feel honored that they started a trend hundreds of years after the fall of the empire.


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  • LOOK 1: I paired a simple black dress with my favorite pair of black heeled Gladiator sandals. When wearing this look the key is to not complicate things. Remind yourself that the Gladiator is the focal point of the ensemble, so play down the rest of the outfit.
  • LOOK 2: Denim high waisted shorts and a flowy peasant top work well with my favorite light colored leather Gladiator sandals. Pair this sandal with a fun summer dress for a more relaxed ethereal look (think Roman empress).

Gladiator sandals are my favorite! Both sandals can be played up or down for both the unruly girl AND the refined girl; it all depends on the occasion. If you’re only problem with this look is that you can’t afford it, than there is no problem! The Gladiator can be found in many different stores for a variety of styles and prices. Find the one that works best for you.

Also: There’s enough drama in the shoe so don’t go crazy with hair and make-up. Make it seem like you just defeated your worst enemy on the Coliseum floor and are now ready for victory drinks with your best girlfriends! Keep make-up glowy and natural and hair either pin straight or soft effortless waves!

Have fun with this look and don’t forget your best accessory with the Gladiator sandal is a confident smile! 🙂

-xo ash

PS: m.h. you’re rad and you rock! Thanks for being the Nigel Barker to my Tyra Banks and reminding me that we all have a little bit of america’s next top model in us. I think we just added photographer to your bag of tricks! You da best!

All in Bloom!

Florals during the spring and summer season are a running joke in the fashion world. When it comes to the print for spring just look to Miranda Priestly, the powerful fashion editor in “The Devil Wears Prada”, for advice. 4.30.15_014

We all love prints that exude the season but don’t like to make it that literal. This year wearing florals has become fresh and fun! Take a peek at designers showing their interpretation of style through this years “IT” print:  Alice + Olivia, Michael Kors, Dolce and Gabbana, Kate Spade and Chanel. A key floral piece is a must for this spring/summer 2015 season and can be worn in many different ways. Check out Vogues take on floral must-haves for inspiration.

My favorite ways to dawn this years floral print:

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1. Flowers Everywhere

I love wearing a fun dress or romper that shows of a fun tropical floral print. This floral print is light and fresh with a white base and pops of green, blue and red. Pair it with a camel leather sandal for a cool day look or a pair of edgy wedges or nude open toed pumps for a warm night.

 

 

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2.) Minimal Petals

For those still to shy to show off the print from head to toe you can rock the look with a more conservative approach. Try pairing a minimalistic staple like a pencil skirt or skinny jean with a floral print top. Or switch it up and play up a basic white v neck with a pair of fun floral print shorts or a flowy fresh-from-the-garden skirt.

 

3.  Botanical Beachwear

Spread flower power while splashing through the waves on a trip to the beach. Mix the garden and the ocean in a cute bathing suit! (Remember to apply sunblock!…the only red we want to see is on the tropical floral prints- not on your beautiful skin!)

 

Remember when wearing this years exciting floral print to not take it too seriously. Throw a flower in your hair, have fun and rock the look with confidence. Like one of my favorite jewelry designers Harry Winston said, when wearing something bold, and eye catching that “People will stare. Make it worth their while.” 😉

Show me how you rock the look  with your Instagram pictures using the hashtag #unrulyandrefined

-xo ash