Life Out West: Months 4 and 5

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While on my RTW trip I loved posting monthly updates as they’re so much fun to both write and look back on. So I figured why not recap my new life out west too? Read about month 1 and months 2 & 3 here. All these photos are from Instagram, @ashleyabroad– find me there for slices of daily life!

Well guys, I’ve been busy- hence the lack of posts up on the blog! And while I’ve adored skiing almost every weekend, I’m almost relieved ski season is over- it will be nice to have my weekends back.

There were lots of highlights of February and March: I was featured in the Detroit Free Press, won $300 and a hackathon at work and even flew back home to Michigan for a quick 36-hour visit.


One highlight of February- beautiful chocolates from my boyfriend on Valentine’s Day! Chocolates > Flowers.


Going on my first business trip!


I was so excited to be chosen to Salt Lake City to represent sovrn at The Blogger Network’s Build Your Blog Conference. I learned a few things- tons of mommy bloggers are Mormon, and expensing things is awesome.

While there were no travel bloggers present (mainly mommy, DIY and food), it gave me a taste of what blogging conferences are like, and reminded me that this year I finally have to attend TBEX.

Being featured in the Detroit Free Press


Blogging has been a crazy journey, but nothing has been crazier than being featured in a two-page color spread in my hometown newspaper! The journalist perfectly understood my life and I was so honored to be featured.

Winning the company hackathon (and buying a 24mm lens!) 

Hackathon – an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, collaborate intensively on software projects. Wikipedia

In March sovrn threw a company-wide hackathon in which we formed teams of 4-5 people to brainstorm ideas that would benefit the company. Crazy enough, my team not only won, but took home three out of the four prizes, including CEO’s pick! We were gifted $300 each and I purchased a Canon 24mm pancake lens to replace my kit lens. So far I love it- it’s featherlight and compact, and takes great photos.


Skiing with my family

This month my family came all the way from Michigan and Chicago to see me! We headed to my favorite ski town, Breckenridge, to hit the slopes. My whole family skies very well so I loved tearing up the slopes with them.



A sweet note in Breckenridge- a salted caramel and chocolate chip cookie after skiing!

Decorating my apartment

Okay, okay- I’ve gone a little overboard with decorating. I’m ashamed to say my savings account is around the same as it was when I moved to Colorado- blame Etsy, Ikea and Target.

But after years of nomadic life it’s so nice to have my own place. And I’ve been growing an interest in design itself- I recently subscribed to Dwell magazine and I devour Style by Emily Henderson on the daily. I can’t wait to post an apartment tour when everything’s finally finished!


My eight-piece map of Paris in my bedroom.


A twelve-piece map of Manhattan in my living room. Yes, I’ve gone a bit map crazy.

Cooking at home

Another joy of settled life? Cooking at home. I’ve churned out some delicious dishes recently, including bibimbap, roast chicken with oranges and black olives, curried sweet potato bowls and baked ziti (perfect for après-ski).

Also I’ve been reading a lot about food (shocker). I particularly adored Fuschia Dunlop’s Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China, and now have a dream of exploring rural China and delving into different regional Chinese cuisines. #foodnerd

Also I recently added two new cookbooks to my collection, French Comfort Food and Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking (also by Fuschia Dunlop). So far I love both- as you guys may have noticed, I’m kind of obsessed with home cooking from around the world. (Saveur can you please just hire me already?)

My other recently project has been mixology, but sadly all of my cocktails come out tasting like dish soap. A work in progress.


A simple breakfast of pain de campagne with salty Irish butter, soft-boiled eggs with bright orange yolks and a Bialetti filled with piping hot moka. My absolute favorite.

Growing Become an Au Pair

Become an au pair

I’ve been loving working on my new website, Become an Au Pair. While it’s still a fledgling site, it’s already receiving almost two thousand page views a month- not bad for nine posts!

(As always, current and former au pairs- please let me know if you want to contribute. I’d love to have you!)


Sales stresses

Working in sales can be stressful. In February I bombed my quota, only reaching about 30% of what I should have earned. Fortunately in March I bounced back, but sales truly is a “What have you done for me lately?” kind of culture.

So little time.

I’m an idea person, and I always have about 10,000 projects and cuisines and books and languages and countries I want to throw myself into. In the last six months of working a 7:30-4 with a commute I’ve learned a lot about both my priorities and time management, but I still have a long ways to go. This year I’ve learned you really can’t do it all.

Up next:

Announcement soon! But it’s very exciting, I promise.

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

20 thoughts on “Life Out West: Months 4 and 5”

  1. I’m obsessed with those pretty map arrangements! Can I hire you as my interior designer please? :) Also, I can’t wait to see photos from that new lens!

  2. Jaysus will you just come to China already?! Heading about to Sichuan this weekend, coincidentally, AND I make some mean cocktails (ok, Joe makes mean cocktails). Basil pomelo gimlets and cynar negronis are waiting!

  3. Thanks for the book recommendation, I love reading food/travel memoirs! You might like On the Noodle Road by Jen Lin Liu, it’s one of my favourites. A Chinese-American writer living in Beijing goes through China, across Central Asia, through Turkey all the way to Rome, examining the different cuisines, with a particular eye on noodles and the similarities as she travels. Great book :)

    • Literally just downloaded that so thanks for the recommendation! I’m super excited, what a great idea for a book. Actually I would love to do the same journey, how fascinating!

  4. Your job sounds really cool! I’m excited for your announcement! Would you recommend TBEX or BlogHouse conferences for a very beginner blogger?

    • Hi Kristin! My announcement is that I went to Jordan by the way, where I’m writing you from now! So I actually haven’t been to either but I’ve heard BlogHouse is great for beginner bloggers and TBEX is better once you’re more established. Hope that helps!

  5. Dear Ashley,
    How much Papa Lou andI enjoyed reading your blog, and filling us in
    On your apartment decorating and cooking! Lou commented on your ability
    In Chatting so well, likes how you express yourself. He chuckled about
    Your cocktail attempts,
    We think and talk about frequently.

    Much much Love,


  6. Congratulations on all the awesomeness and good news! And YES, please share your apartment with us. It looks so cute and makes me jealous for my own place to decoration with everything travel-related! Have fun on your “surprise!” I can’t wait to read all about it!

  7. Wow this post has me silly excited to be back out West next week! As much as I love to travel I’m not a nomad at heart and after nine months away I’m ready to be back home in one place for a while!

  8. Congrats on all the you have conquered! I am loving to follow your blog. It’s very inspiring for me! Also, can’t wait to see my contribution to the Become an AuPair. ;)

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