Ten Years.

So Chris and I have been married for ten years, but I feel like not that much has changed.

Then (The Tails to my Sonic, I’m the HEV Suit to his Gordon Freeman):


Now(The Tails to my Sonic, I’m the HEV Suit to his Gordon Freeman):


(Still the same, but its a summer olympic year)

It took a while to decide whether or not to have an anniversary party. Chris and I are definitely not people who like to be the center of attention (unless he’s busting out dance moves) or be “fancy” (Unless its me. in Germany. Seeing Swan Lake) so we were kind of anti-party until we realized that the move was happening. Then we really saw it as a way to connect with everyone before we left and celebrate all of the things we love about Charleston.

One of the most important aspects of the party was to keep everything as local, meaningful, and close to us as possible. We wanted to celebrate in the city we love with the people we love eating the food we love and dancing to the 90s r&b we love.


The absolutely AMAZING Kelsey DePorte designed our invitations. Having worked with Kelsey for the past few years at the Sustainability Office and becoming really close friends, it meant so much to us to have Kelsey in charge of the design. Our invitations included an 8×10 invite, 12×18 map, and a 2×3 RSVP postcard. I sent the invitations out with vintage stamps, which looked beautiful but my tongue tasted like old glue for a few days.


We wanted the invitation to look like a show poster.


“Let’s make a 12×18 map of your favorite places!” Kelsey totally gets us.


The logo for the pint glasses we had made for everyone. One side had our design and the other, the Holy City Brewing graphic.

Location & Setup:

(All of the photos were taken by Flower Child Photography. My former employee at Best Buy, Meggen now does beautiful photography! I highly recommend her.)

We had the party at Holy City Brewing (probably the best brewery on Earth) with the most amazing people in the world. Just up the road from our house, HCB (and the great people who work there) have been such an important part of our lives that it meant a lot to be able to celebrate there.


Joel, Chris, and Tony built the arbor. Joel said it looked like the Blair Witch Project, which I secretly was unintentionally was going for.


Zach, Josh, and Amy (not pictured) proving that not all heroes wear capes.


Almost all of the plants were grown by Jen, Heather, and me. We wanted to keep the floral arrangements as local and in season as possible.


Jen designed and put together all of the flower arrangements.


All of the old bottles are from my Great-Grandfather’s collection. Most are from Ohio around the early-mid 1900s.

In addition to celebrating with everyone, the party gave me an excuse to wear all of the things I love and wasn’t able to when we got married back in 2006: 1) flower crown 2) yellow shoes 3) obscene eyelashes 4) polka dots


Jen also designed all of the flower crowns as well.


Jen Jones, official MC of the event! Thanks girl.

Ceremony “First we gonna ROCK, Then we gonna ROLL”:

We had a short ceremony officiated by our good friend, Aaron. Walking out to DMX was definitely a dream come true. My niece Caroline was having none of it, though. Ripping off her flower crown (great catch Carmen!) before we even got up to the arbor, I couldn’t convince her to continue with us.


Not happening.


She told me she didn’t want to do this because she wanted to dance. Definitely my niece.


Aaron Holly, what a bamf. Thank you for the amazing speech and understanding the need to include Harry Potter references.


Chris promised that I would always be his patronus, while I swore to be the bee in his bonnet.






So happy everyone could make it ❤



All the way from Ohio, Maryland, and Minnesota!


I see that cheerleader wink Craig.


Extra  ❤ to Heather and Karl for holding the terror twins for us!




My interns who helped set everything up.

Food & The Dreamiest Cake:

Having worked a majority of my Charleston life with local agriculture, we really focused a lot of time and effort on creating a menu based around seasonality, as well as keeping in mind a lot dishes that are just Chris and Ashlyn (wings and perogies). Extra special thank you to Joel Norman and the entire HCB kitchen crew for not only developing an amazing menu with me, but making sure everything was delicious!


Most of the produce and cheese was purchased from GrowFood Carolina, meaning that it all originated from within 120 miles of Charleston–amazing that we have the opportunity to create such a hyper local menu! All meat was from White Oak Pastures, one of only two humane slaughtering plants in the US. Definitely check out their holistic operation and this awesome article on how they transitioned from a conventional to organic farm.


I actually created the menu design myself! Well, with Kelsey’s blessing of course.

Here’s more information on the growers and vendors used for the menu.

Okay, can we just talk about this absolutely beautiful and breathtaking cake?! Perfectly made by the most perfect Charleston Cake Farmer, it had three tiers–each layer a showcasing a different seasonal fruit– showing just why you have to love Charleston’s summer growing season.

When they brought the cake out, I thought I was going to burst into tears (okay so maybe I did).







Yes, Chris, Joel, and I handmade all 150 perogies served. #perogieparty

Music & Let’s Get Our Dance On:

Since we didn’t have music at our wedding, we really wanted to have a great mix for the party. One of our friend’s band, Great Yankee, played a short set right after the ceremony including a gorgeous cover of our favorite song, Apple Blossom.


Now came dance party time. Here’s the complete list of music (a compilation of 90s R&B, random songs, and early 2000 pop) used to populate that dance floor.



Poor Heather



Great Grandma has the dance moves!



Stop judging us Adrian. (Also, how hot is my sister? She just had Baby Jack about a month before traveling to SC!)

Extra Pictures I love:


Caroline finally almost catching Mr. Meowgi


Ike, summed up in one picture.




Josh has sneaky dance moves.


Finally got her to smile.

Extra special thanks and love to all of our friends and family who helped make this party so meaningful and were able to celebrate with us. Extra special thanks to the MVPs who took my shoes off and put them back on throughout the night 🙂 It means so much to us that everyone came out to have fun and one last cheers before we moved to Hungary.



Chris + Ashlyn


Things I’m Loving (9/15)

To Watch: House of Cards and Dexter (again)

One of the things I’m really start to catch up on is all the TV shows I missed working 1,000 hours a week at CofC while finishing up my graduate thesis. I know I’m late to the #netflixandchill trend but it’s been awesome catching up on new shows (House of Cards) and old ones (Dexter).


Kevin Spacey is disappointed in me.

My love of Kevin Spacey and Political Science is obvious as to why I waited to start House of Cards until I had time to enjoy it. I know the show got some flak for the third season, but honestly I enjoyed it and the Putin-inspired character. Not going to lie–I watched the last season in one day.

Chris and I finally finished rewatching all 8 seasons of Dexter (thankfully Chris had them all on his laptop when we didn’t have internet for a while) and I realized a couple of things that I’d like to share:

  1. Doakes alone is THE reason for a rewatch. tumblr_inline_mw2fyio9qk1rbheui
  2. Nothing is ever going to be as good as season 1 and 4. So get over it.
  3. Deb gets so. much. better. after season 1.
  4. I don’t hate Lumen (and the Barrel Girl season) as much as I originally did. I think the producers and writers did a shitty job framing the season after Trinity. They did a bad job setting it up, but all in all, its a good season.
  5. Brother Sam (Mos Def) is absolutely still the best guest character on the show. mos-def-as-brother-sam I always get people asking me “WHAT? WHY?” Because he is. Lately I’ve been trying to reflect on the experiences and people who have been absolute shitheads to me over the past couple of years, so his message at the end of episode six is resonating:

    Just let it go. Can’t live with the hate in your heart. Eat you up inside. We gotta find some peace in life.

  6. I really like season 7. Maybe I just like Joey having a bigger role (finally)?
  7. The last two episodes (and basically all) of season 8 are the fucking worst. Still. There’s no excuse, Showtime.

To Play: Diaspoura’s Demonstrations


I first met Diaspoura (Anjali Naik) when I worked as the Internship & Student Coordinator for the Sustainability Office at CofC. Anjali played at our 2015 Sustainability Week Kickoff event and then again in 2016 at the best event the Sustainability Office ever hosted EVER– 2016’s Words Unspoken. Diaspoura starts at roughly 39:31 but I recommend watching the entire thing because its the greatest collection of performances at the College.

Demonstrations was released right before we left the states and I’ve been listening to the album non-stop since we hit Hungarian soil. A merging of electro and dreamy experimental, the songs blend together to form one solid 30 minute block of chilling and reflection. “What They Said” and “Stay” are two of my favorites (“What They Said” starts with mmm change the world before it changes you anymore/we have so much time, but right now I’m fine). “Forget You” and “Apology” are such a beautiful back-to-back combination that I think really define the album.

In an article with Charleston City Paper, Anjali notes:

“I never felt like I had space where I could introduce my narrative to whatever was going on. So I thought, you know, I’m just going to tell my own narrative as it is, and that’s going to be my own documentation for anyone else that comes along.”

Slayyyyyyyyyyyy. Is that not the most badass inspiration for an album? I’d definitely recommend getting the amazing usb thumb drive that also includes extra songs, videos, and best of all a zine created just for the release.

To Do: Fantasy Football

Week 1 is always difficult but at least I have #84 on the field and #1 in my heart back on my roster again.


For whatever reason I became obsessed with fantasy football last year. I did pretty well–finished second overall–so I joined even more leagues this season. I’m not really a fan of a particular NFL team so I’m not sure why I love it so much. Maybe its the research, strategy, or more excuses to obsess over Antonio Brown and Cam Newton, but I’m playing in three leagues this year (including two all women leagues and being the only woman in one league). First week I’m three for three but that definitely won’t last.

To Eat: Brunches Like This


My favorite part of the weekend is that Chris and I get to spend the mornings together making brunch. Its been a struggle getting eggs the right amount of over easy without Chris’s favorite egg flipping spatula and the lack of rye bread is rough, but we love it. One of the best things about Hungary is that it seems like eating potatoes at every meal is acceptable, which totally works for me.

To Read: There Could Be Blackberries and Wordwound

Two of my former interns Olivia Cohen and Nicole Fernandez have graduated from the College and moved on (and international!) to new roles. Their blogs There May Be Blackberries and WordWound are my new favorite things to read.


Olivia, who was one of our first social media/editors and then ran the Garden Apprenticeship program my last semester at the College, has recently moved to Nicaragua to pursue work in sustainable agriculture. I was humbled and honored to be mentioned in her latest blogpost, which I’m still trying to put into words how much that means to me. Read her blog here.

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Nicole established one of the greatest event series at CofC with Social Justice Coffee Hour. Over the course of three semesters we also worked (and worked and worked!) to create the foundation for Share Your Story CofC, which collected stories from the community as a way to tell our collective narrative. Now graduated, Nicole is moving to France to teach! In her newest post she notes: “See, the thing about living anywhere new is that you’re redefining expanding your whole worldview.” My thoughts exactly. Read her blog here.

to Look Forward to: Audrie & Daisy


Netflix picked up the rights for Audrie & Daisy and they’ll have it up for streaming on the 23rd. The documentary tells the stories of the aftermath of three sexual assault cases in the United States. Focusing on the impact of the assaults on the survivors themselves, it looks at how we as a society treat (blame) survivors and (forgive) perpetrators of abuse in the United States.

What’s important to understand is that its not just high school peers acting out these narratives, but adults (parents, police officers) allow for those who committed the crimes to largely get away with it, while discrediting survivors. With the new reports of assault from UNC, USA Gymnastics, and Stanford, we really need to work on the bullshit way we treat survivors. Aligning with the attackers while second-guessing survivors keeps people from coming forward and their attackers free (Although I’d argue that with the current system in place, most perpetrators end up staying out of prison).

Watch the trailer here.

Next post: Home Sweet Hungarian Home (we finally got our stuff!) and maiden voyages on our bikes around town.


A Tourist in my New City.

Last week I went on a walking tour of my new home, Pápa. The experience was great because I not only learned a ton about the city, but was also able to meet a lot of awesome people too! One of my favorite things about my new community is getting to know people from different backgrounds and nationalities who now live here too.

I’ll start this off with a little bit of background on the area and then specifically the awesome places I was able to visit.

Okay, Where Are We?


In this case, not the red-dot. That’s the capital. We’re in Veszprém County. The green area on the left almost the color of my bathroom in Charleston. One of the best parts of Pápa is that it sits at the foothills of the Bakony Mountains. After ten years in the flat Lowcountry, its nice to see some elevation!

Pápa and Hungary are old AF

First mentioned in 1061 (literally close to 1000 years ago), Pápa was named after a Bavarian knight who became the head of the first royal manor in Veszprém County. He earned this title after helping King Stephen I (the first King of Hungary, who also established the country) fight off his relative Koppány to keep the crown.


King Stephen I looking dashing

During the Middle Ages Pápa was an important center for Protestantism; it was also an area for Jewish settlements as well. Hungary’s location between Europe and Russia has caused the country years of loss and hardship, particularly during the two world wars. The Hungarians first sided with the Germans during WWI and then again during most of WWII. As a country, Hungary tried to switch over to join Allied forces toward the end of the war, causing the Germans to invade after previous years of Soviet fighting. The population of the Jewish community in Pápa suffered greatly as a result, first by the Soviets and then the Germans.

I’m totally a nerd for Soviet history, particularly its effect on nationalism on occupied countries. I think I’ll have to do a separate post on all of the years between WWI-1989 because its super interesting and has a had a ton of impact on culture and society within Hungary, but I’ll spare you that for now.

After WWII, the Soviets occupied the country until its dissolution in 1989.


The Hoff is really the symbol of the fall of the Soviet Union.

In 1999 Hungary joined NATO and in 2004, the EU. In 2007, the Pápa Air Base was selected by NATO as the Main Operating Base for the Heavy Airlift Wing, which is how Chris and I ended up here.

Pápa looks a lot like it did in the late 1700’s because it was given protective status during that time. The city has a couple of really beautiful and historic landmarks that I was able to visit and learn more about during my walking tour. Let’s get to them!

The Sights

The Great Church

img_1844Located in the center of town, the Great Church was built around 1776 and survived numerous hardships including Soviet occupation, lightening strikes, and my personal favorite: when a couple of schoolchildren attempted to burn it down at the turn of the 20th century.


Our tour was led by the most amazing retired Hungarian Art History teacher in red suspenders of all time. One of the best parts of this tour was the fact that we got to listen to everything in Hungarian, then translated to English by our awesome translator.

The church is also the home to this guy. Definitely one of the oddest moments of my life: walking into a room and casually being introduced to a long-gone Roman martyr.

img_1846Our Hungarian host noted that it was a good thing the Soviets didn’t find him or else they would have stolen all of his jewels.

You can climb to the top of the church, which I attempted before saying fuck it at the last set of stairs. My fear of heights is only reinforced by 3 sets of wooden open-back steps that open up to the multiple floors you just climbed via a teeny-tiny stone spiral stairwell. Sorry I don’t have pictures of the city from the top of the church, but you get the idea.


Here’s me, safely on the ground.


Pápa Water Tower

Our second stop on the tour was the city’s water tower, which honestly I was most excited to see up close. Being the sustainability nerd I am, I’m really interested in seeing how the groundwater is used and cleaned for all 30,000 inhabitants of the area.


Again, here I am safely with my feet firmly planted in soil.

Alas, I again had to sit this climb out due to the height and stairs. I can’t concentrate on water filtering processes while having a panic attack.

Blue Dye Museum

Pápa is home to the only blue dye museum in Central Europe. Again, our tour was led by our wonderful translator who actually worked for a couple of years at the museum before becoming a translator on base.

The Blue Dye Factory was built in 1784 on the banks of the Tapolca River. The German Kluge family operated the factory until it was taken over by the communists in the 1950s. Since then its been turned into a beautiful museum.


Blurry, but I’m working with a crappy iphone.

I’m going to quote the blue dying process (and its importance) from the website here:

In the second half of the 18th century, countries west of Hungary suffered from an overabundance of skilled laborers in the textile and dyeing industry. For this reason, individuals and entire families migrated to Hungary, thereby increasing the numbers of masters in the textile profession. Thus the ancestors of the Kluge family came to Hungary from Sorau in Saxony (Zary, Poland) bringing the new technology of textile printing with them, which was the reserve style cold indigo vat dyeing. Up until the middle of the 19th century, this kind of textile dyeing was called “Schön- und Schwarzfärber”. This also means that while the “Schönfärber” was doing “Beauty-dyeing”, cloth and linen dyeing, the “Schwarzfärber” was usually practising black dyeing.

The Eastern indigo reserve style was also appearing in the above mentioned areas at the beginning of the 18th century featuring the dyeing material, the indigo, which was providing the blue colour. Printing paste was applied to the printing which was protecting the basic white colour of the textile from turning blue. After several dips in the dye vats (küpa) and then after aeration due to the oxidation the reduced indigo began graduating the cotton and the linen clothes into blue. After dyeing the printing paste was taken off by a bath of hydrochloride-vitriolic acid and the basic white colour appeared. This blue and white colour was typical of the Eastern porcelains; therefore this new technology was called “Porcellandruck” by the dyers with the phrase “drucken auf Porcellan Art”.

So freaking gorgeous.






Anyone else think the middle pattern on the left could be the inspiration for the killer star guys in the Metropolis level of Sonic the Hedgehog 2?


You know what I’m talking about. The star guy on the top right about to take out Sonic and Tails.

Personal Updates: We officially moved into our house last week!


My next couple of posts will include updates on new dog friends, recipes (canine and human varieties), and Antonio Brown’s prospects this year.


xoxo, Ashlyn