Ladies and gents, it’s been a short while again. After detoxing from wedding week, trying to catch up on work and attempting to fight off a disabling head cold accompanied by a Dayquil high, I’m back. Errr, well my partner in crime is standing in as me on this return.

As I have mentioned before—perhaps time and time again—I have been blessed to find myself surrounded by some of the more fantastically awesome people on this planet. And I have been just dying to have the honor, or at least guilt the honor out of them, to add some of their own thoughts to Attempted Domestication.

So for the inaugural guest post on the newly remodeled space, I find it very fitting that the author is a lovely lady, whom I knew I would be friends with, when after a couple of weeks “working together,” she filled me in on a redecorating project she had undertaken at her boyfriend’s home. It was practically love at first sight.

Without further ado, I present Miss Ashley.


When Abbi, first asked me to guest blog, I had mixed emotions. Me? Blog? Of course I was flattered, but what did I have to write about that would be of any interest? Then it dawned on me…why not give y’all a glimpse into our daily life?

Allow me to introduce myself: I’m Ashley, aka Ash-a-sass. One half of the fabulous ladies. (Et voila, the title. Albeit spelled incorrectly, (yes, I realize this) it was my ill attempt at being witty and paying respects to Philly and my love of hip hop. (Cue Music) Clueless? Google. It works every time.

Obvs, Abs is the other half of this fabulousness.  

For those of you that do not know, Abbi and I have the privilege of working together. Well… we don’t technically work together; rather we coordinate our respective boss’ schedules. I work for JB and she works for CB—power couple extraordinaire. Since this jet-setting, socialite duo is in high demand, it requires mad coordinating skills to keep them organized and functioning. Our duties include, but are not limited to: Executive Assistant, IT training and trouble shooting, on the rare occasion, doggie sitting and everything else in between. Think Devil Wears Prada, minus the devil and well…the Prada too! (Le Sigh)

I digress. Truth is, we work for two of the most FABULOUS people!

After a few months of daily interaction, our relationship blossomed. (She had me at checklist.) We realized that we had A LOT in common…and by a lot, I mean twins separated at birth, A LOT. Aside from the aforementioned checklists, our love of good manners, Kate Spade, JCrew, shoes and all things sparkly…the girl stole my heart! 

It is not an uncommon occurrence for us to exchange emails, at the same time, re: the same thing. Don’t believe me?

Exhibit A:

Sent: Thursday, September 20
To: Abbi
From: Ashley
Subject: Morning

What do we think about these?  I typically don’t wear one piece, but thought these were pretty cute.  

(links have been omitted)

Sent: Thursday, September 20
To: Ashley
From: Abbi
Subject: Re: Morning                                 

HOLY CRAP. SERIOUSLY?! This is exactly what I was looking at and wondering the same thing…


Hey now, don’t be judgey! We DO work—a lot, actually. So what if our correspondence is littered with “did you get flights/schedule dinner/book the driver? Btw, what do you think of this?” (Insert JCrew or Kate Spade link.) After all, life’s too short to not be FABULOUS!

Since meeting Abbi, my wallet is a little lighter, but my day a little brighter. (Paging  Dr. Seuss) We started out as colleagues but were destined to be friends. The fact that we are the same size with the same taste, well… that’s just an added perk!

Stay fabulous! 

Until next time,


My Dixie Land Delight.

It’s no surprise to anyone, that I love “wedding week.” The five to seven days before the big day that are so emotionally charged and filled with endless to-do lists. Gah, the check check check checkcheckcheck is just like paradise. And the week of togetherness that comes but once, well every wedding, is unparalleled. Plus, our mom supports a lot of things she wouldn’t normally. J Luke and Alecia’s wedding week was no exception to fabulous, and I am here to provide you with my top ten favorite moments, aside from the obvious ones (at least the ones I can remember…):

10. Spending three hours in Hobby Lobby with the bride and groom to be. We had stopped by for fabric and three vases. We left with a pilsner glass that holds a pitcher of beer, a basket full of props from the “bat cave,”(from pirate hats, to mustaches, umbrellas, grass skirts, etc.) almost a “Congratulations, you are Grandparents” sign, before we thought better of ourselves, and a garter (phew, remembered it a few days early this time).

9. Luke correcting his bride to be that the dance he had taught her for their first dance together at the reception “is just a simple waltz.”

8. Zachary, older brother and best man extraordinaire, drinking his entire pitcher- holding-pilsner glass at the rehearsal dinner and watching his appearance go from, “wow he cleans up nicely,” to “you don’t look like the same person who entered the restaurant.”

7. Practicing my speech with Quintin and Dusty at the reception before it was my turn to give the toast. Quintin may have a future career as a speech coach—cue tears.

6. The inaugural Stuaan Family Bar Crawl, which consisted of one bar, one pick up truck no firefly vodka, purchasing two shirts and five coozies to commemorate the occasion, throw back country music, Zach picking up the tab by writing a check, a late night game of basketball and Luke dipping tortilla chips in a Sam’s Club sized can of cold processed cheese. All around classy.

5. Alecia and Luke opening their wedding gifts from each other—one of the sweetest moments of the day. The bride was stunned by her pearl and diamond ring and the groom was so excited about his watch that we immediately had to go have links taken out so he could wear it right then.

4. Our mom dancing at the reception. She is self proclaimed to be "not fun," (I'm just not fun, never have been, just get over it--I believe was her exact quote) and while that is far from the truth, it was still surprising, AND AWESOME, to see her cutting a rug on the dance floor.

3. Wedding coordinating with Miss Kelly. Now that my brothers and I have reached a point in our lives where we are no long the three kids of the family, but six, I feel so blessed that my brothers gave me two fantastic sisters. I mean, I didn’t even have a say in it and they chose perfectly!

2. Luke’s groomsmen. Usually the boys of a wedding party are a liability, allowed in a limited amount of photos and seated far from the bar, but these gents were an all star line up. From the little boys I watched get detention after detention...after detention, they have grown up into outstanding young men. From Quintin’s suspender dancing, to Logan’s impromptu speeches and Blake’s adorable wife and baby (plus of course my handsome husband and charming middle child brother)—these guys were the life of the party.

1. The McBarker Boys (at least part of them) reuniting to perform Long Tall Texan at the end of the reception. Dad, Bret, Greg and Jim have still got it. Bam.

Honorable mention: While helping clean up at the end of the night, I turned music on my iPhoneand everyone chimed in, "I spend my dollar parked in a holler 'neath the mountain moonlight..."

All for love.

Well, my baby brother is a husband. And at that, I think he is going to be a good one.

Reflecting back on my own wedding, which was three years prior, nearly to the day, I remember my dad telling me a few days before I walked down the aisle, to soak it all in. He said that I would blink and it would be over, so try to freeze the moments. And wow—he was right.

I look back, and the seconds, minutes and hours I see suspended, are filled with love. The love of our family and friends dedicating themselves to making certain the day Dusty and I would begin our lives together, was all that we wanted it to be. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed by the selflessness and joy of our loved ones, and just completely consumed by happiness that day.

When things went a little off plan, as things will do, before I could blink someone swooped in and took charge. Like when we realized the meal choices weren’t on the name cards the day of, or having forgotten to get a garter until the night before, the chairs nearly not being delivered, the décor misplaced, but like magic, things were taken care of.

Love. They all wanted us to focus on our love that day and nothing else. And when I stood with Dusty and exchanged vows in front of all of those people, everything was perfect in my eyes and all I could feel was happy.

Luckily during Luke and Alecia’s wedding week, I got to spend a few hours with my little brother before we let his bride take the reins. While I’m always shocked that the kid is an adult and not the doe eyed, toe headed, little boy in my mind, our conversations prove him to be quite a big kid, and dare I say a thoughtful and well cultured grown up. But most important of all, he is as happy as one person can be and wanted nothing more than his girl to have the day she had dreamt of. I shared similar advice with him that my dad had given me—enjoy the day and don’t worry about a thing, because you have every other day of your life to worry.

The week went by so quickly, running errands, attending final appointments, shopping for gifts and laughing a lot. In what seemed like a few minutes, the big day arrived. And the emotions started—it was a moat sprung up around my eyes. Seeing Alecia in her veil that morning and the joy when she opened the pearl ring Luke had given her as a wedding gift, my heart soared. And instantly I understood what led everyone to help on my wedding day—the sheer happiness that took over her, filled the room and I wanted nothing more than the bride and groom to experience those moments over and over again.

And the next thing I knew, Luke was standing at the altar he had built, looking like a little boy all dressed up, and waiting for Alecia to become his wife. Then they were exchanging vows, rings, looking back at us one last time as two individuals and before I could wipe away another tear we were rushing off to the reception and they were dancing as they had practiced and toasting to a life together, smiling, hugging and laughing, and in the blink of an eye we were chanting "encore" as our dad’s band reunited to sing one last song.

Before I left for the wedding, a coworker asked if this was going to be my first “sibling wedding,” and when I responded yes, he said it would be like nothing else, that the feeling is indescribable. He was right.

All for love.

Hot diggity dog!

Since randomly zoning onto an episode of the Food Channel which featured a tiny neighborhood hotdog joint in Chicago, I have been drooling. Think bucket list, randomly interrupting conversation to mention it, popping into dreams kind of need to go to there. Luckily for me, my best friend is a resident of Lincoln Park and planes fly from the District to the Windy City. Phew.

With wheels up at 6 a.m. on Saturday, surely you can picture semi-permanent grimace my face was contorted into. But come 9:30 a.m. I was one of the more happy people on this planet to be waiting in a line half a block long.

Waiting in line at Hot Doug’s.

(Insert blissful sigh.) Let’s back up a tick, because for those of you who are not familiar with the legendary sausageateur, at this point you think I should be committed. But Doug has perfected the craft of cased meats and is not serving up the average Oscar Meyer mystery meat. Oh no. His is a menu of entire gourmet meals served in a bun—duck, ribeye, pate, chorizo, chicken, bison, venison, veal, and the list of meats goes on, some infused, others flash fried or boiled. They are adorned with an array of delectable accompaniments to rival a toppings bar at a fro yo shop, a la crème fraise, pate, goat cheese, truffle sauce, salsa, caramelized onions, and the list goes on. On the weekends, fries cooked in duck fat can be ordered as a side. Do you see what I am saying? Because if by now you are still thinking I have better things to do with my time, a.) I don’t and b.) you are reading about me talking about rambling on about a trip to get a fancy hotdog so before you roll your eyes again, perhaps an evaluation of better things in your life should be brought to the table. I’m just saying.

The line to get into Hot Doug’s--from when we joined--was about an hour, but the weather was lovely and we had catching up to do with our BFFs anyway. So even though I would not have complained I about the wait given the purpose, on this occasion I was an especially enthusiastic line stander.

When our party of four made it in the front door of the small neighborhood-esque restaurant, the dining room was almost shockingly serene—tables were empty, fellow patrons were all smiles and servers calmly balanced trays. But then again, I shouldn’t have really been too surprised, given the menu of God that hung before me. The only unsettling aspect of the experience was having to make a decision of which dog I would enjoy. We each ended up with two. I chose a chicken sausage to ensure satisfaction and went out on a ledge with the day’s “Celebrity Sausage.” Ahem, naturally.

Needless to say none of were hungry again until about 11 p.m. and despite our heavy stomachs practically floated out of the restaurant, carried by the happiness that only an experience living up to expectations can bring.

Abbi Flo for the win.