Just Go Left

Sometimes, A Mama Needs a Drink!

Friends of Just Go Left, Healthy LivingAshtenComment

A note from Ashten:

I've had a few mama-to-be friends saying how disappointed they are because they can't participate in the Memorial Day cocktail drinking festivities. I thought, who better to help the mamas out than Nicole from Nicole Hagy Fit! Nicole has been a contributor to Just Go Left in the past, but took a bit of a break when her daughter Zoey was born...motherhood looks good on her! Nicole is not only one of my closest friends, but she's our neighbor! We live a mile apart and have had so much fun exploring Farmer's Markets and having breakfast dates. I'm also having a blast being Auntie Ashten to Zoey: her smile is my favorite thing ever. We're headed to Orange County for Memorial Day so Nicole is taking over for the day!

I hope you enjoy this post, mamas!

Read all posts by Nicole here

Well hello there! I’ve missed you guys! A lot has changed since my last post here. I had a beautiful baby girl on October 8th and I am so in love with my little Zoey Blue. Being a mom is the most rewarding thing I have ever experienced; as I write this she is sitting next to be on the bed, attacking my legs, throwing toys and making all sorts of adorable noises and screams…who ever thought a scream could be adorable?

 Anyway, throughout my pregnancy and now as a new mom I have learned how important it is to still take time for myself. Even though majority of my life revolves around this little human, I’m learning how to make sure I still do things for me. Taking some “me-time” is important for everyone, mom or not. It’s going to make you a happier and healthier mom, partner, friend, employee, and just all around better person. So I wanted to share with you some fun and fancy mocktails I have been making. These are the perfect way to have an enjoyable (somewhat healthy) drink and not feel like I’m missing out on the party. Plus I still get to be a functioning member of society the next day. Because let’s face it, we are not in college anymore and can’t bounce back like we used to. However, if you are in the mood to have a little something extra feel free to add the hard stuff to these recipes!

Lime Mint "Mom-jito"

Healthy, refreshing and super easy to make! Perfect to enjoy during naptime!

  • Cube 1/2 a lime and place in bottom of your glass
  • Add 4-6 fresh mint leaves
  • Add a squeeze of honey
  • Muddle all ingredients
  • Add crushed ice
  • Fill with sparkling water

Strawberry Orange "Mom-osa"

This one is sweet, delicious and not as healthy. It takes a little more effort but is worth it! Recipe makes 4 drinks (perfect to share with other mamas to be!)

  • In a saucepan boil 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup orange juice until it turns into a syrup. Set aside
  • In a separate saucepan boil 1 cup of sugar, 2 cups of fresh strawberries and 2 cups of water until the strawberries turn to mush
  • Strain strawberries so you get just the strawberry juice
  • Let both cool
  • In a champagne flute pour 1/4 way with orange juice mixture, 3/4 of strawberry and last 1/4 with sparking water

I’m always on the hunt for new recipes so let me know if you have a fancy mocktail you enjoy! Have a fun, safe Memorial Day Weekend!


Nicole (and Zoey!)

About Nicole

I’m a wife, mom, group fitness instructor and Independent Beachbody coach living in the sunny beach town of Ventura, California. My passion in life is to help others reach their goals and realize that they deserve to live a healthy and happy life. When I’m not in the gym or working my home coaching business, I enjoy spending time with my husband, daughter and friends, going to the beach, reading, attempting DIY projects around the house, looking up new recipes on Pinterest (and possibly getting lost on there for hours) and watching my guilty pleasures, The Bachelor and So You Think You Can Dance. 

Connect with Nicole!

 Instagram// Facebook// Pinterest // Official Beachbody Coach site.

Misplaced Connection


This weekend marks two years of Kyle and me. Of course, if you ask Kyle he will tell you this isn’t our actual anniversary (we celebrate that in July because it’s the first time we actually met. Read more here) but for all intensive purposes (i.e. this blog) Memorial Day weekend is when our adventure together began. I’ve always said that our relationship is the hardest, yet most rewarding and fulfilling work I’ve ever done but there are times we screw up or let each other down. We aren’t perfect, our relationship isn’t perfect and life together definitely isn’t perfect. (See also: the amount of dishes in our sink right now.)

Kyle and I rarely fight. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of times we’ve gotten into a real argument and those arguments usually revolve around something silly (like how much I want to spend at the grocery store in a week). I wish I could take credit for our lack of fights, but Kyle wins this round. He’s a very laid-back, “go with the flow” kind of guy whereas I’m a Type A, “I’ll go with the flow if I can control the current” kind of girl so he’s really the one responsible for keeping our relationship (and me) on an even keel. Given the opportunity, I could self-destruct at any given moment, so it’s nice to have someone to balance me out, and vice versa. This is one of the (many) reasons our relationship works.

But, with all the vulnerability I can muster, I have to share: we’ve been arguing lately.

And it’s my fault.

Actually, it’s my phone’s fault.

I’m on my phone a lot, but lately I’ve noticed that I’m on it more in the evenings when I get home from work. In my defense (can I have one at this point?) the evenings are the only time I have to answer blog comments/emails, schedule tweets/Facebook posts and scroll through Instagram and Snapchat so I try to maximize that and get ahead for the next day. I’m usually so wrapped up in social media that I barely pay attention to Kyle and Gatsby, who I haven’t seen all day and are begging for my time. Kyle called me out on this on Monday night and, well, let’s just say it wasn’t my finest relationship moment.

“Hey Ashten can you put the phone down for like 5 minutes? You’re always on your phone at night.”

“I’m unwinding, but I’m listening so keep talking.”

“You’re listening like an asshole: you’re barely paying attention to Gatsby and me. We haven’t seen you all day and we missed you!”

“Seriously, I’m listening just keep talking! I can multi-task you know...geez.”

And so on.

When we lived in Atlanta, Kyle worked mostly nights, so I spent many an evening with social media as an outlet for my loneliness, but now that we have time together in the evenings, I’ve found it’s a hard habit to break.

I know I go against all well-meaning relationship advice when I say I went to bed angry. First, because I hate getting called out on my shit and second because there are times when I just want to numb my brain; coincidentally those are usually the times Kyle wants to talk my ear off. Our days are long and our time together is minimal but night after night I stick my face in my phone and shut Kyle and Gatsby out.

I was still angry the next morning when I woke up, only this time I was angry at myself. I get so wrapped up in staying connected with social media that I’m disconnecting from the two most important people in my life. We live in world that begs for connection by sharing these little, sometimes insignificant moments of our day to day life, but I can’t help but ask myself: who in my life is feeling disconnected from me while I’m busy trying to connect with everyone else?

As a blogger it’s important to be active on social media: to tweet, snap, share and be engaging with your fellow bloggers. This has always been the most fun part of blogging for me: connecting with other people, sharing our experiences and hear each other’s stories. I love it, I look forward to it, I find so much joy in it. But, it’s hard to manage it all sometimes…..and Kyle gave me that wake-up call on Monday evening: I need to do a better job of balancing blogging and personal. 

It’s time to step away from the phone (in the evenings at least), and evaluate what’s important. If we live our lives with our phones in our faces we’re missing out on the good stuff: making memories and spending quality time with the ones we love. After 30 minutes on the treadmill to sweat out my anger, I apologized to Kyle and promised to make more of an effort to be more connected to him and Gatsby at night and less connected to my phone during our quality time together…..because it’s more important for me to be connected to Kyle and Gatsby, not social media.

Am I saying you have to stop using social media all together? Eff no, have you met me? I think there needs to be a healthy balance between who you’re connecting with online and who you’re connecting with in real life. You cannot be a good blogger if you don’t have content to write about. You won’t get content if you’re not out there living and connecting with people. And, you won’t be able to relate or engage with people if you don’t have any experiences to share. So, as always, thank you Kyle for keeping us on an even keel and saving me from myself.

And now back to regularly scheduled programming, wherein we argue about groceries at Trader Joes. Stay tuned.

Everything Old is New Again (Ventura Botanical Gardens)

Ashten Loves LocalAshtenComment

As much as I hate to admit it: I'm the new girl. 

A lot has changed in Ventura since I left: new restaurants and shops have popped up out of nowhere, friends who lived with their parents now own homes and have kids, the beaches we used to ditch class to go to now are now filled with new youths (who look 12, I AM OLD). Sometimes it feels like the streets have changed directions and I can't remember where they lead (like the staircases at Hogwarts in Harry Potter). There are now homes where open fields used to be and the hills by the high-school make-out spot are now a beautiful botanical garden and hiking trail called Ventura Botanical Gardens.

I mean, not like I know anything about high school make out spots or anything. Not like my best friends and I didn't drive our cars up to the top of that hill, flash our brights at cars and play "Let's Get it On" at full volume back in our high school days. It's not like we still tell that story when we're a few glasses of wine deep and laugh has hard as we did in high school or would still do it to this day....or maybe have done it again when we all reunited last summer for a girl's trip

I am 31 years old (32 next month) and I still think that shit is hilarious. 

The Botanical Gardens is one of those things that popped up while I was living in Atlanta, and after hiking it once it's already won my heart. It's a slow and steady climb to the top of the Botanical Gardens hike, which ends up being 2.5 miles all together and has a lovely view of the ocean which makes you forget that you're going to call this a workout when you're eating burritos later. There are a few twists and turns, a few times when things get a little steep and once you get to the top you might find yourself wondering how the heck you're going to get down. But, it's fun. It's an adventure with a side of stairs that will make your ass feel like its on fire. Oh and did I mention the view of the ocean and the entire city at the top? Totally Instagram and Snapchat worthy. 

I wasn't a hiker when I was growing up in Ventura but now that I'm back I find myself wanting to be outdoors more, trying new hikes and learning about the local plants and flowers. I might love hiking....I might just love the trail....either way I might be a new girl in more ways than one.

It's weird being the new girl in the town you grew up in. It's like knowing everything and nothing all at the same time. It's like I know where I'm going but not knowing quite how to get there; like my brain just can't connect the same dots it used to connect six years ago. It's like hiking to the top of a really big hill: not quite sure where you're going, but knowing what the view is going to be spectacular when you get there. It's tiresome and a little frustrating at times, but it's always an adventure and I find myself falling back in love with the place I grew up.....and all the newness among all the old familiar things.

If I'm being honest though, it still feels surreal; this whole being the new girl thing. Most days I still feel like I'm on vacation and have to rush around to cram everything in before I have to get back on a plane. Sometimes I have to remind myself to slow down because the only "goodbyes" I have to say are ones said at the end of the night as we all head home, not at an airport or with an undetermined return date. Sometimes I get embarrassed when I have to ask for directions or use Google Maps to find my destination, even though I've been driving the same streets since I got my license. But I'm slowly finding my way, both around town and in this new chapter of our lives. I'm also embracing new, fun ways to explore the city and be active. 

Which is why we will be hiking the Botanical Gardens trail every weekend from now until I lose this pesky 12 pounds and beyond. 

My hat says "LOVE" and is from The Young and Brave Foundation. All proceeds go to helping children and young adults fighting cancer. Click here to shop.

My hat says "LOVE" and is from The Young and Brave Foundation. All proceeds go to helping children and young adults fighting cancer. Click here to shop.

Being the new girl is a lot like hiking the Botanical Gardens: a slow, sometimes confusing climb, but also an adventure I'm choosing to embrace. Eventually, those stairs will become less painful to my ass and the the streets will become less difficult to navigate. Slowly I will become a local again. It takes time, this whole "settling in" thing. Until that happens, I'm really enjoying discovering my city again. 

Enjoy a Saturday with us at the Ventura Botanical Gardens!

Ladders of Opportunity

Friends of Just Go LeftAshtenComment

A note from Ashten:

Last week I posted a photo of a blanket ladder on Instagram and had so many of you asking me where it came from. Apparently I'm not the only one who gets heart eyes over Pottery Barn blanket ladders...but guess what? It wasn't from Pottery Barn. No ma'ams! My blanket ladder was CUSTOM made by the dynamic and very talented duo Amy and Pat from J.Ames Goods. Amy is a dear friend who I've known since college (she is my comedic soulmate and someone who just gets me). Pat is her handyman....I mean fiancee. Okay he's both. Amy and Pat recently took the plunge into the blog world and what better way to introduce you to them than to have them talk about the story behind how these blanket ladders came to be?! I know you're going to love them.

Make sure you read until the end of the post....they have a surprise for you blanket-ladder-loving-ladies!

Ps: I recommend you read these posts from their blog:

Communication, Aisle 9 and The First Good Thing


Hey there! You probably don't know us. This is the first time we've been featured here on Just Go Left. We are Amy + Patrick of J.AMES Goods - just pronounced James, in case you're wondering. Our blog is dedicated to finding the good things in life, and those good things generally revolve around some of the projects we pick up. Refurbishing furniture, thrifting, fixing up old cars, calligraphy, leather stamping - you name it, we probably do it. Pat does the building and the dirty work, Amy does the decorating and the writing. This is important to know because I do tend to write in first person singular - even though it's OUR blog. But if Pat happens to take over, you'll know because it's totally dude stuff. And yes, I was an English major. 

That's actually how I met Ashten nearly eight years ago - in a research methods course in college. She complimented me on my sparkly rhinestone bracelet and then later she finished off my Daniel Tosh joke. We decided right then and there we would be LLFFLs, or lifelong friends...for life....we made that up. That last bit just reinforces the time-span we intend to remain friends in case the first part didn't already clarify that. We don't want to mislead or confuse anyone - but this friendship is legit. 

So back to me and Pat. We met just over two years ago at my parents house - yep, my dad set us up - and we are now engaged. And because life isn't crazy enough with wedding planning, we decided to start our own little side biz and a blog to document all the chaos surrounding us. But really, this was the best decision we ever made - besides deciding to get married, duh.

J.AMES Goods actually came to us in a super roundabout way and was ultimately the result of Pat's temporary layoff. Pat works for my dad's heating and air conditioning company in Southern California. And if you know anything about Southern California, you know that the weather here is amazing like 98.9% of the time. Well, this winter was exceptionally warm and nobody needed to use their HVAC systems. That meant no service or installation work for ol' Patsy or anyone else at my dad's company. 

But this ebb and flow of the HVAC industry is nothing new to me. I grew up with the famine or feast mentality and understood early on in life that there are lean times of the year and it's something you have to prepare for when your income is flowing heavy. Somehow the memory of this lifestyle escaped me when Pat and I moved in together, and when this lovely winter of ours arrived, we were not prepared. Okay, we were a little prepared. Pat and I did Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University a year ago and taught us one of the most important life lessons we ever learned - have an emergency fund. Our bills got paid, but homegirl here had a hard time adjusting to the fact that there was no extra spending money for shoes or date nights. So we decided to hawk a blanket ladder Pat had built so that we could have some spare cash. 

Rewind: When we first moved in together, I showed Pat a blanket ladder I reeeeeally wanted from Pottery Barn. It had a price tag of $250 that made Pat spit out his beer - and we don't waste beer around these parts, so I knew something  serious was about to happen. "I could build that - easy," he said. Duh, he could build it! He built a freaking barn, chicken coop and tack shed all by himself. Of course he could throw together a blanket ladder! And so the very next day I got my very own Pattery Barn blanket ladder which I proudly hung my blankets on in our little living room. 

Fast forward: But then we needed some money and surely someone out there needed a blanket ladder. Less than 24 hours after posting an ad on Craigslist and other selling sites, the ladder sold. And when I told Pat the news, his spirit lit up like I had never seen it before! What you need to know about Pat is that he is not a prideful man - the furthest thing from it actually. He works hard is happy with the finished product, but doesn't see the value in his work that so many other people do. The fact that someone actually paid money to display something he built with his own hands was a brand new feeling. And it was a game changer. 

Soon other people started asking for ladders too. And then a farmhouse table. I knew a good friend of mine wanted a $1,500 Pottery Barn table, so I suggested to her that Pat make one instead. Pat had never built a table but was open to it and had some (or a lot of) free time. Soon after the table was finished and delivered we were bombarded by requests. Living room furniture. And hair salon stations. And rocking chairs. The interest in Pat's work spread like wildfire!  

Read about how we refurbished this hutch here!

Read about how we refurbished this hutch here!

We had never imagined that people would like our pieces this much, let alone want to pay for them. And we didn't expect our blog to receive the support and viewership we've had the last month and a half. Pat and I were just two people trying to make some extra dough to go out for drinks by doing stuff we love - building and decorating. He loves to work with his hands and fix things. And I watch HGTV like its my job. So it only makes sense that we would spend more of our free time doing these things that make us happy and actually feel alive!

This whole blanket ladder thing provided us with a big ah-ha moment. It so simple and yet it has changed our lives. So here it is: be open to new opportunities. Pat and I will never say no to something right off the bat. Sometimes a no will be the result of a very lengthy conversation, weighing the pros and cons, but we don't immediately rule anything out. Had Pat said no to the farmhouse table, yea our little condo would be less cluttered with our ridiculously huge project pile and we wouldn't run into the ridiculous roadblocks that we do - but we wouldn't be spending the quality time that we do while building things. 

Read about how Pat built this custom Farmhouse table here!

Read about how Pat built this custom Farmhouse table here!

In this process we've learned so much about each other, like how I am legitimately allergic to sanding and that Pat should always be consulted when it comes to math, chemistry or physics - oh and also, I'm slightly more responsible (sorry Pat). But we've also been given a different platform to talk about our dreams and to set new goals for ourselves and where we want this new venture to go. And it's been the most insane, hectic and amazing experience yet! So let me leave you with this: be open to whatever opportunities you may stumble upon & do more of what you love! You never know where a seemingly innocuous fork in the road might take you.

Making all your dreams come true, one blanket ladder at a time - the good things in life. 

Oh and by the way, if you want to get in on some of this hot blanket ladder action, we are offering a promo for a limited time - 33% off our $75 blanket ladder orders placed by June 4th. That's just $50 for a custom, locally handmade blanket ladder. They make great birthday, baby and wedding shower gifts!

One thing: I regret to inform you that we can only take local orders from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, delivery included. Shipping on these things is $120. But if you want to pay $120 in shipping we are totally more than happy to make you one of these things. 

To place your order shoot an email to jamesgoodsblog@gmail.com

Thanks for reading, guys. We hope to see you around J.AMES Goods!


Amy and Pat are the minds behind J.AMES Goods, a lifestyle blog chronicling their lives, projects and the occasional misadventure. Currently engaged and living in Los Angeles with their two pups, Willow and Olive, Amy does the writing and Pat does the fixing  and building. Pat is also responsible for the wit, while Amy makes sure everyone gets fed. Amy has her Bachelor's in English Literature and Pat excelled in his studies of All Things Badass. It's a pretty unbelievable duo that they've formed, but you've gotta check 'em out for yourself!

Connect with Amy and Pat:

Blog // Instagram // Facebook // Pinterest

Your Life, Your Choices.

On My Heart, RelationshipsAshtenComment

Somehow, without fail, Kyle and I end up being the last to leave a party or BBQ. I like to think it's because we're the Energizer Bunnies of Fun, but truthfully, we thrive on the quality time we get with the host/hostess when the party goers are gone. These quality moments are when the walls come down and the meaningful conversations happen; when the bonding and the memories begin or, as Kyle lovingly puts it, "when the REAL partying goes down." 

I'm new to Kyle's group of friends, so I tend to be more of a listener than a sharer in these situations, and it's amazing to me to see the bonds that his friends have kept up over the years. They're still close as can be, even after life has taken them in such different directions. Honestly, it's part of why I love Kyle so much: he has some really awesome friends who he loves with his whole heart and that's really attractive to me. 

Now that we're back in California, I worried about how I would fit in to this group of friends. I would be around all the time now: seeing them more frequently than just a couple of hours on our annual holiday tour and I would go from being "Kyle's girlfriend who lives in Atlanta" to "Ashten, Kyle's girlfriend who we can see at any/all major events". I felt like a character before.....part of a story told over a glass of wine at dinner. Now, I'm in it. I'm here, I'm around and I'm going to be part of the group by association. 

My biggest fear? Judgement. Kyle and I moved in together after dating for 10 months. He moved to Atlanta for me, we moved back to California together. By traditional standards, we've moved "fast" and I was worried about how I would be received as a result. 

Side note: no one has made me FEEL this way, I'm just a worry-wort who over-analyzes everything. See also: social anxiety.

Though I spent weeks agonizing leading up to spending time with them for the first time after we moved home, our first party together was so much fun. As we sat around talking at the end of the night, everyone praised us for all we had accomplished as a couple since we started dating and how we've passed some relationship milestones along the way. As we drove home that night a lesson I learned in one of my Communication classes in college bubbled to the surface:

People always speak from their experiences. Their advice, their narratives, the way they encourage or criticize you will always be based on their experiences, their truth. 

You can't make decisions based on what other people think you should do. You have to make decisions based on what is best for YOU. 

If I worried what other people thought about some of the decisions Kyle and I have made, I could have held myself back from experiencing some really wonderful months of living together, from some bonding experiences, from learning about each other. Our relationship has blossomed and thrived because of things people might deem "fast". I'm happy and proud that we made those decisions together. 

No one knows Ashten and Kyle like Ashten and Kyle. Our relationship, though shared with friends and the blogging world, truly happens behind closed doors when it's just him and me. No one can tell us the best thing for us, because they aren't us. When it comes time to choose what's best for us and our relationship, our decisions will be made by evaluating what's best for US: not friends, not family, not Twitter.....us. 

This is not to say it's not important to ask for advice from people you trust. I do think that other people's experiences are valuable when making a big decision or going through a change. I just think at the end of the day, you know you best and shouldn't be completely swayed by someone whose story isn't your own. The best thing to do is listen, be gracious, take the experience to heart, and go with what is best for you.

All my fears of judgement were for nothing, as my fears usually are. Because the truth is? The best of friends will always support you, even if you don't follow their advice or do what they would've done. The best of friends will sit with you after the party is over and the dishes are done, and will laugh with you, welcome you into their lives and celebrate with you. 

We all have our own paths in life. We all make our own choices. It's not our job to sit in judgement of others; it's our job to love unconditionally and when the big decisions get made, to throw a party and be happy.

No matter what, believe in yourself enough to do what is right for you. The right people will follow.

PS: I talked about this topic in my episode of Couragemakers. Click here to listen to my episode