Monday, April 6, 2015

Where is your accent from? DIY Home Accents

Three. More. Weeks.

Only three more weeks until my sweet man and I get to move into our new place!


So, naturally, I'm thinking constantly about how I can "jazz it up" without draining my wallet. Surprisingly, I'm finding quite a lot of different ideas and can't wait to get started! As I've said before, our home is small (roughly 1,100 square feet), so I have to get creative. A few of my favorite ideas thus far (some I have shared and some I haven't) are:

1. Paint
2. Hanging plates on the wall
3. Bar stool accents
4. Floating bookshelves

and on, and on, and on...

Today, I'm looking at the plates and bookshelves. See, one of my favorite things that we are putting into this new place is a beautiful, black upright piano that my fiancé got from a friend. Since it is so dark, I wanted to take something bright and decorate it without junking up its top ledge. So, what I'm going to do is collect ten of my favorite decorative plates and hang them on the wall above the piano. That way, I instantly have more color that accentuates the classic look of the instrument.

One of my other favorite ideas for the house is floating bookshelves. Ever since I was in high school, I have adored these tricky little accents because they just look so cool. The shelves themselves form the shape of a small "L" (about 6-8 inches tall with a 4-5 inch lip on the bottom). They hold about four medium sized books stacked on their sides. The cool part, is that the cover of the bottom book goes over the lip of the bookshelf, giving the impression that the books are floating. These pieces are great because they remove items from what may be an overcrowded bookshelf and place them somewhere else that doesn't crowd out another surface. They are also great conversation pieces!

Only three more weeks! I can't wait to share pictures as soon as these master plans are put into action!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

DIY Deep Interior Design

Normally, I'm more of an interior design type of writer. Today however, I want to address an entirely different type of "interior design". 

I was on Twitter the other day, and kept seeing tweets that looked like this:

"Every girl deserves this.."

"Every girl should have this kind of guy.."

I am totally for dreaming about the kind of guy you'd want to be with. That's healthy and I sure did my share. But when we start to demand that guys be chivalrous, the situation becomes completely unfair. We, as women, cannot expect guys to be Jesus-loving gentlemen if we aren't first willing to be Christ-centered.

We sure can make it easier for men to be gentlemen if we're willing to meet the same high standards we expect from them.

Here are a few of the things I do to empower myself as a lady and Jacob as a gentleman:

1. Call him out
My pastor, Chris Tomlinson, says that inside every man is either a prince or a punk. It's up to us to speak to the prince, not the punk. I think this applies across the board. Often times, we waste so many words on negativity that people just stop listening. It hasn't always been easy for me, as I'm sure it hasn't been for you, but it is my heart's desire every day to speak life into my guy and others around me because they're worth it. Remember that your guy has the weight of your world on his shoulders too. Let him know he's doing great job and that he's strong. Don't just refrain from the negative. Strive for the positive.

2. Enjoy his company
After you've been together for a long time, the tendency is to get comfortable in your relationship and stop enjoying each other's company. It doesn't have to be like that. There was some point in time where you actually enjoyed spending time together; some point when he was your favorite person in the world. Remember to choose that.

3. Pray for him 
This is a biggie. I never realized how powerful prayer is as spiritual warfare until I started praying for Jacob. Satan doesn't like people that follow God. He launches full-scale attacks on those who love the Lord, and let me tell you, Jacob loves the Lord. I've seen him fight some heavy spiritual battles, and in those moments, it's up to me to fight with him. As women, we are called to be ezer kenegdo, or "help meet". That Hebrew phrase means we're to fight with them. Yes, men are created to carry more emotional, spiritual, and physical weight than we are, but that doesn't mean we can't help them carry it out.

4. Modesty
Don't write me off just yet. I'm not going to advocate for swapping out all of your shorts for capris and committing to turtlenecks forever. I live in Florida, guys. It gets hot here. Like, drive your car with oven mitts, hot. What I am saying though, is that there's a much better way to show people that you're confident in your own skin. God created you so beautiful and so special. You were custom made for a purpose. Do you understand that? You. Are. Beautiful. By wearing clothes that cover a little more and are super cute, by the way, we create an image that perfectly embodies that. Don't sell your incredible self short. You are worth too much for that. The kind of guy you're looking for will be thankful for it.

5. Gratitude
After all is said and done, be thankful for what he does do for you. He opened the door for you? Say "Thank you". Tried (and possibly failed) to surprise you by doing something extra thoughtful? Be thankful. Tell him you so appreciated the gesture and that he is wonderful for thinking of you. You'll both be encouraged to continue the behavior and strengthen the positive communication.

And that's it.

Do you know what happens when I strive to treat both Jacob and myself with the respect and love that Jesus would require? I get my prince. He..

Opens doors for me.
Takes me out on dates.
Texts me to say "Good Morning" and "Goodnight".
Fixes things in my house without me having to ask.
Tells me he loves me and that I'm beautiful and his favorite.
Prays with and for me.
Stands up for me every day.

Too often, we demand chivalrous men but expect punks. We cry when they put us down but are shocked when they shut us out over our negative comments. That's not fair.

If you want a punk, treat him like one.

If you want a prince, treat him like one.

It's that simple.

Like what you're reading? Follow me on Twitter @Smashley355

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

DIY Living Room: Working With What You've Got.

These last two months haven't been at all what I have expected.



All I wanted was some peace and quiet. All I wanted was some time to reflect and take a breath, thankful that I have a temporary place to live, a wonderful college to go to and a family that is truly the best on this planet. But, as the old song goes, "You can't always get what you want." 

This past Thursday my fiancé and I found out that the current tenants of our new apartment, the apartment we had already said 'yes' to, the apartment that we would be moving into on May 8, decided they weren't going to move anymore. 

Excuse me?

I was heartbroken and so was he. We had finally found a place to call our own and it was ripped out from underneath us faster than we could blink. Unfortunately, there are no rules at that apartment complex stating that they can't back out after giving a sixty day notice. It was horrible for us, but somehow there was peace. 

That's the incredible thing about God. When a door closes, even when it was slammed in your face, he's always got something beautiful waiting. 

And that's just what happened. 

About three days later, one of the groomsmen in our wedding pulled my fiancé aside. He told him that he and his wife had just bought a house and were planning on moving from their cozy, little two-bedroom house. He then proceeded to ask my sweet man if we would want to rent the house from them for $125/month. 

Excuse me?

We went from losing a very expensive, yet wonderful, apartment to being offered a HOUSE. Of course, we accepted the offer and are now waiting to hear back on when exactly we can move in. 

But you know me. All I can think about is paint and carpet and possibilities. The house we've got is small, and one of the biggest complaints I hear about small houses is that it looks small. The key, in this scenario, is for me to make it look bigger than what we've got, which is actually much easier than you might think. Here are some tips on maximizing your space (specifically a living room) without maximizing your budget: 

1. Paint: One of the worst things you can do for a small room is to paint it a dark color. Our plan is to turn our small living room from dark red to cream, opening up the space to the eye and allowing maximum light. 

2. Cut the clutter: Just because we have more space than an apartment doesn't mean we need to use it all. Cut the clutter by removing what isn't necessary and watch how incredible amounts of space open up before your eyes. 

3. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Clean out drawers and cabinets and make them work for you! Storing DVDs, books or even pens/pencils in a drawer or cabinet will open up all kinds of free table and counter space. Just trust me.

Where do we go from here? Well, I guess that will continue to reveal itself as time marches on. One thing I do know for sure though is that wherever we end up, it's going to be home. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

DIY Space (Loving the Unexpected)

Recently, I went through a major life change in the way of living arrangements.

For the last year and a half, I was living in a condo in the Town Center. While I did appreciate the convenience of living there, it was always meant to be temporary. I got engaged in August and planned to move around the time of our wedding in June.

Not likely.

You see, throughout the time that I lived there, I kept getting sick more often than I ever had and, being a Jacksonville native, this started to strike me as odd.

So I investigated.

And I found the most mold I had ever seen in one location at one time. 

The dehumidifier was broken, amongst many other issues with the layout of the building itself. I decided to move immediately, not feeling like my health was worth the risk, and ended up moving (temporarily) into my future in-laws' house. It wasn't exactly what I had in mind or really even wanted, that's for sure. 

So, for right now, I'm living in their spare room converted bedroom. As you may be able to imagine, it is tiny and as someone who loves to nest and design where I am, I started to feel trapped. I had to figure something out in order to make my borrowed space feel the slightest bit homy.

The following is one of my favorite ways to personalize nearly any space I'm staying in without changing the entire space around. It's a kind of active, personalized to-do list that you can hang or place just about anywhere. It is my DIY dry erase board. 

What you need: 

1 large picture frame
Your choice wrapping paper/colored paper

  1. Take the picture frame and remove the back, revealing the transparent glass on both sides. 
  2. Remove the packaged paper insert that the frame comes with.
  3. Take the colored paper and/or wrapping paper and cover the cardboard part of the back the frame so that it will show through the glass.
  4. Return the back of the frame to its position on the frame. 
  5. Now you are free to write on the glass on start your to-do list. 
Done! This DIY dry erase board can now be used wherever you are living and, depending on the size, can be taken just about anywhere. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


This is a wiki map project created by MMC4630 students.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

DIY Jacksonville (Why I love being a native)

I grew up in Florida. Jacksonville, to be specific. Home of M.O.C.A, 7 bridges, and the world's largest cocktail party (FLA/GA-in case you weren't aware). Some would say I'm from southern Georgia, but any true Jacksonville native would most likely beg to differ. Mostly because we're the best. Here's why:

1. Gators vs. Bulldogs
My dad is a Gator. He graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and Gator-pride. You will never be able to convince him that any other college football team is worth rooting for, especially UGA. That's how most of us down here grew up. Football is the most important thing in the fall and you have to choose. Weather that's FSU, Miami, UF, or UCF, we are die-hards here in Duval.

2. The Beach
It's a culture down here, no doubt. In Jacksonville we have the Intracoastal Waterway (aka "the ditch") which separates suburbia from the sand, linked only by the language of flip-flops. Once you cross over it's like a different world. I guess that's what happens when you live in the largest city (land-wise) in the U.S.

3. One Spark
Two years ago, my city birthed the world's first crowdfunding festival. It's basically a giant-sized block party for entrepreneurs trying to get off the ground and let me say this: it's legit. There's tons of seed money and prizes and food trucks. Food trucks. The shindig is sponsored by the Museum of Contemporary Arts (M.O.C.A) downtown and doesn't disappoint. Did I mention Berlin, Germany has now picked it up? Yes, we're going international.

One of my best friends, Jordan Poole, at his One Spark booth. He was raising money to build homes in Guatemala and will soon be releasing an EP to continue the project. 

4. The Gate River Run
Okay, so this one isn't exactly for everybody, but I've done it for the past two years. It's the largest 15K in the country and a beast to say the least. You run through downtown, San Marco, Riverside, and over 2 of our 7 bridges (The Main Street and the Hart). The race isn't for the faint of heart but it's awesome enough to attract over 20,000 people. I'm about it.

5. TPC
Every year we welcome many of the best golfers on the planet to the Sawgrass Golf Course in Ponte Vedra ("Pont-a Veedra"). There's tee times, country music, and lots of money. We like to put our best fancy foot forward at TPC Sawgrass.

There's so much more to love about Jacksonville, but these are my top 5. Is there something you love about this city that isn't on my list? Let me know!

Twitter: @Smashley355

DIY Soul Restoration (Cobwebs)

I fell.

Like Alice down a hole but I didn't land in Wonderland. I landed in an attic. But it wasn't a dream. It was my reality. I had been pushed out of my world and landed in the "real world", covered in cobwebs and dust.

I look around and find memories I faintly recognize. The writer I was going to be in the third grade. The broadway dancer I wanted to be in the fifth grade. The boy I couldn't let go of in middle school. My cheerleading days in high school. I brush off some dust for a better look. Why is this stuff here?

"A Dream Deferred" indefinitely. The packaged boxes make me claustrophobic, each holding an idea that used to be. What I didn't realize is that I never could let them go and that's why they were there, collecting dust in my attic. I've spent so much of my life buying into thought after thought that I've never gotten to use any of what I'd purchased. So concerned with doing it all that I've don't nothing at all. My heart and mind somehow became that closet no one ever wants to acknowledge is there because its too full of "stuff" you don't need.

So I went through my boxes.





Honestly, some packages needed unpacking but some needed to be moved out. The unforgiveness I found after cleaning up the hurt dust on top was the first to go. With the help of a Jesus-sized dolly it has been permanently removed.

Then I unpacked a love for writing that I've had for as long as I can remember. Each day that I type a few more words onto a tiny, lit up screen I unpack a little bit more and my heart and mind get a little bit lighter and warmer.

I guess you could say I've been doing a lot of Spring cleaning lately. Every day I'm trying to unpack a little more so that I can settle into the new me. Besides, this "house" is way too expensive to hold all of that dust and clutter. I have been bought by the blood of Jesus and hope you see that value in you too. He loves and adores that little house of yours, so help Him make more room for you to be you.

Like what you're reading? Follow me on Twitter @smashley355

Monday, February 9, 2015

DIY Moving Forward - The Jump

"Pre-School Graduation" © 2005 Gideon Tsang, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license:



I walk the line through the auditorium. Dead center, I face the ledge. Cheerleaders, thespians, honor students, jocks, dance team. We are all present, standing together one last time. Here, I am my mother's daughter and you are your father's son. By last name we anxiously await to be called, knowing that everything is about to change. 

My mind spins and I can't stop to breathe. Eyes shift from left to right and we know we will never see these faces again. Not like this. I close my eyes and try to lock them in, my souvenirs. His face when he finally asked her out, their cheers as he sunk the winning basket, the sound of the final bell of our year when they took a victory lap around the lockers. Twelve years in this place and tomorrow we're free. Today, we jump. 

I hear my name called as our row stands. Maneuvering in those heels, I pray that I don't trip. Holding that diploma (or lack thereof, for all of you graduates) and shaking the hand of my principal I realize that this is my time. I leave this stage and I am no longer a Providence Stallion or my mother's daughter. I'm not the cheerleading captain and I'm not a senior. I am Ashley. 

So I jump. 

I do what I have been waiting twelve years to do. So scared, so unprepared, but I do it. Do you know what happened?

He caught me. 

So often I realize that I'm scared to jump into the unknown where God is calling me. I know where I come from so that has to be enough. But staying two steps outside of the Promised Land because I'm afraid of how far I might fall is a crime. That day though, I chose to jump because that's the only way the promises of God would come to fruition for me. I had to let go, that day and every day, so that God could be God in my life. 

Today, I sit in my condo and type as an almost college junior, two years out from that day. I am my own person outside of the shelter of my parents and my high school, but only because I decided that jumping into the unknown had to be better than the "what ifs" and "could have beens". Every day I take small hops and big leaps into life so that God has a chance to catch me. Like a toddler jumping to his/her parent for the first time in the pool, I want to close my eyes, squeeze my arms under some Holy Spirit floaties and leap into the unknown. 

Will you choose to jump to Him today? Those strong arms are reaching for you, waiting to grab hold of His child. 

“It’s the oldest story in the world. One day you’re seventeen and planning for someday. And then quietly and without you ever really noticing, someday is today. And that someday is yesterday. And this is your life.” - Nathan Scott "One Tree Hill"

Like what you're reading? Follow me on Twitter @smashley355

Friday, February 6, 2015

DIY Dating (Why participating matters)

Creative Commons License
DIY Dating (Why participating matters) by Ashley Marsh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Four and a half years is a long time. Especially when you're dating (that's right, dating) the same person. Admitting to being crazy about each other in our sophomore year of high school seemed like a great idea at the time. Except that we're meant to be.

Seriously though, I love my guy. He's more than I ever could have asked for in a boyfriend and future husband. But just dating is hard. Most people get bored with each other after a few months, much less a few years.

So how do we do it?

I've been asked this more times than I can count. I guess it's because Jacob and I are somewhat of an anomaly, since we also haven't kissed yet -- yeah, that's a real thing. So I suppose we could write the book on the subject.

Well, here's 5 things we've survived on over the last four and a half years:

1. Date Night
A well-meaning person once told me that Jacob and I shouldn't have date night because we'll get too close and that is sure to lead to things we shouldn't be doing. Right. Things like talking, getting to know each other, and investing in our relationship. Actually dating the person you're dating is important, people. And going to parties, church, or school together doesn't count. Grabbing dinner doesn't have to mean you end up alone together at your apartment.

2. Choices
We choose each other all over again every day. It seems like a weird concept, but every day I wake up and say, "Yep. He's still the guy for me and he's still my best friend." I don't like to let myself get too used him because that's when we become bored with a beautiful, God-breathed relationship.

3. Laugh
No one makes me laugh like Jacob does and that's because no one knows me like he does. You see, to make someone laugh is to connect with a deeper part of him/her. You've got to understand what they like, don't like, and how to make that funny for that person in particular. The way I see it, the more you can laugh with someone, the better off you both are. Plus, taking yourself too seriously is entirely overrated.

4. Share
When we first started dating, he and I were actually pretty different. I liked country music, he liked rock. I loved sweet tea, he preferred to mix all the different types of juices he could find in the house. Over time, we've learned to share these things with one another and are finding that our likes are converging. I've become an avid movie watcher and he has started to read more. I've been more upfront about what I'm feeling and he's been more patient with me.

5. Prayer
We've also had people tell us that praying together produces intimacy that we aren't ready for. Well, they were right about one thing -- prayer does produce intimacy, but in such a way that you become bonded together for the cause of Christ. When you pray together, your relationship becomes something more than just the two of you. You're (theoretically) asking God to do as He pleases with you together and even if you aren't, you're inviting Him in and I promise, He'll do what He pleases anyway. God specializes in making something out of nothing, and I can tell you that if you will present your relationship to Him, He will use whatever story comes out of it for His ultimate glory.

Like what you're reading? Follow me on Twitter at @smashley355

Sunday, February 1, 2015

DIY Distressed Dresser

As a college student surviving on microwave mac-n-cheese and scholarships, I can tell you that finding furniture that isn't made of plastic is difficult. I, for one, want to be able to fill my house with pieces that reflect who I am and where I am going in life. I want my home to reflect who I am.

For the longest time after moving into my current apartment, I lived without a dresser because I couldn't find one for less than hundreds of dollars. Until I went thrift shopping.

I ended up at the Salvation Army off of Beach Blvd one Saturday morning. I like that store because of their layout (tons of space) and surplus of nicer furniture. I mean, you aren't going to find the latest Anthropology couch there, but you can find your future look-a-like. That's what I did.

I came across this dresser inside the store that was an off-white color with a light brown wooden top. It stood about four feet high off of the ground and the wooden top was broken with holes on the sides that revealed the inside of the top drawer. It was one hundred dollars and I decided to go for it.

Since I live in an apartment with no space to do hard labor, I took the dresser to my finance's parents' house down the road. Thankfully, they have a spacious garage with plenty of room and tools to do the work. So we began.

First, we took the power sander that they have and began shaving down the outer, glossy finish layer. Paint will not stick on that layer unless it has something to grip. Then I painted the entire bottom part dark brown and let it dry overnight. While the paint was drying, we leveled the wooden top with wood glue and device that would hold pressure on the planks while they dried.

The next day, I painted over the dark brown paint with an off-white color I bought from Home Depot. I made sure that I got two coats but let the paint dry between the two. While I was waiting for that to dry, I took some satin finish, dark brown wood stain and stained the now leveled top of the dresser. I let that dry overnight as well.

The next day, I lightly sanded a few key areas of the white paint to produce a distressed look. The dresser now looks just like my favorite one from Anthropology for one quarter of the price. I even bought some knobs from Anthropology to replace the ones from the original dresser. That's what I call a win!