The Times They Are A-Changin’

Dear blog,

My deepest apologies for these months of neglect.

Please take comfort in knowing that it’s not you, it’s me.

Life is changing, and it’s time for new beginnings.  Lots of excitement is in store!

❤ Ashley

Bloggie friends!  Will you ever forgive me for my prolonged absence of late?

The note above speaks the truth!  My life has undergone some pretty big changes over the past few months that have taken my focus away from Sweet + Natural.  May I explain?

Life Change #1:

I can no longer eat gluten.

Yes, it’s true.  After years of undiagnosed – though thoroughly tested – digestive issues, gluten has finally been identified as a key culprit.  As I’m sure you can imagine, this means a whole new way of baking for me.  A whole new way that I honestly have yet to explore.  Gluten is an important little sucker in baked goods, so there is much learning to do regarding this mysterious gluten-FREE realm.  I’m so used to experimenting and altering recipes however I please, but I feel like I need to get the GF basics down before I can go crazy like usual.  And since I like to eat what I bake – and can’t eat things made with most of my familiar ingredients – no new recipes to share!  If any gluten-free peeps out there have some favorite recipes or blogs or tips, please share!

Life Change #2:

I’m going back to school to switch careers!

Oh my goodness am I excited!  As of this September, I will no longer be an advertising professional.  I will be a Master’s in Communications Design student at NYC’s Pratt Institute!  Whoooo!

A career change has been a lo-ong time coming for me, but it took a while to nail down exactly what I wanted to do.  I toyed with natural food chef, market researcher, dietician, magazine marketer, design management professional, and more!  But after being hit with inspiration on a June 2009 cross-country flight – from a Project Runway marathon no less – my future became clear as day.  I was going to be a graphic designer.  Granted, I have no graphic design experience, but I practiced art all through my education and studied art history in college.  Back in high school, I always said I’d go into graphic design.  Seeing the PR designers’ glowing with pride over their creations reminded me that I used to get that same feeling back in my artsy days – and I missed it.

I started researching art schools the second I got home that night – and stayed up til the wee hours of the morning collecting as much information as possible.  I talked to designers working in the field.  I sat at Borders reading design books.  I put together my portfolio, wrote my personal statement and gathered my letters of recommendation.  And nine months after that fateful flight, I was accepted to my #1 choice program!  Now I’m leaving the company I’ve worked at for the past four years – with that saying so long to my steady paycheck and the only career I’ve known. And I’m entering the uncharted world of art school – working my way towards a new career that many of my student peers will already have years of experience in.  Fingers crossed I’m a quick study on those design programs!  I’m a nervous eager excited happy girl.

To complement this new venture, I’ve started a new blog.  Great design starts with great inspiration, so I plan to do everything I can to seek out and absorb all that makes my creativity come alive.  I’ll be documenting my favorite finds on ashley loves.  It’s my interactive mood board – my personal aesthetic captured in an assortment of images.  Feel free to follow along as I post pretty things like this…

and this…

I’m not saying I’ll never post on Sweet + Natural again.  That seems far too definite – and I’m sure visions of muffins will be dancing in my head before long.  I’ll have nothing left to do but get in the kitchen and fire up the oven!  However, my energy is obviously elsewhere right now.  So let’s call this not “goodbye;” just “see you later.”  I heart you all for reading and baking along with me all this time.

Lots of love,

14 Responses to “The Times They Are A-Changin’”

  1. 1 Evan Thomas July 14, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    I was a really avid baker, and then had to give up gluten in February. Trust me: After 3 months you’ll be a pro in the kitchen yet again. I made gluten-free, vegan cupcakes a few nights ago like it was child’s play because I just practice and practice at it. If you ever need help or inspiration, drop by my blog,

  2. 2 Hangry Pants July 14, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Congratulations on the new career!

  3. 3 Shannon July 14, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    good luck with all your new adventures!!

  4. 4 peasoupeats July 16, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Goodluck with your new career! I hope you do post on here again, I love your recipes:)

  5. 5 Samantha July 16, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    HI Ashley,
    I have always peeked at your blog and have gotten much joy out of it! I just read about your new challenge and have to point you to Elena’s Pantry at I am a vegan and a good friend of mine is gluten intolerant and that is how I food out about Elena’s blog…she has alot of gluten/ dairy free recipes. I hope the site will encourage you and help you along your way and of course when you start discovering new recipes…share them! Best of luck!

  6. 7 Lynna July 16, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    Hey Ashley,

    Not sure if you remember me but I wrote on your blog awhile ago bc our lives seemed oddly similar (i’m from ny, went to Wash U, studied art history etc). Anyway, I just wanted to say a major congratulations on the career change. I know what it’s like to feel like you’re not doing what you’re MOST passionate about but not necessarily know specifically what you should make the change to (I’m kind of in that place right now, toying with some of the ideas you mentioned above). It must be a relief to finally have it figured out!

    Good luck with everything!


  7. 8 Sarah W. July 17, 2010 at 12:48 am

    hi hi. goodluck on your new adventure!

    I was curious to know if you would be willing to post a full “story” on how you came to be diagnosed and why it took so damn long to identify gluten?? Thanks bunches!!!

    • 9 sweet + natural June 4, 2011 at 10:51 am

      Sarah W. – I think I’m going to keep that info off the blog for now – it’s all about sweet treats and tummy troubles aren’t very appetizing! If you have questions, feel free to e-mail me!

  8. 10 Gena August 24, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Congrats, Ashley! I remember hearing you talk about graphic design nary a year ago at Bonobos, and I am so glad you’re following through!

  9. 11 Perovskia October 9, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Good for you for following your heart. Congrats and good luck 🙂

    Sorry to hear about the GF issue. I grok. I look forward to recipes from you still, though 🙂

  10. 12 Choupichen October 17, 2010 at 11:14 am

    I’ve had to go gluten free myself, and after two years, I have come up with recipes for almost all the foods that I missed so badly. In terms of baking, Authentic Foods’ Multiblend Mix really is the way to go!
    GF bread has become a bit of an obsession of mine, as documented on my blog!

  11. 13 Amanda November 2, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Don’t be freaked out by gluten free cooking! It’s an art and a science, but it gets easier with practice. I run a gluten free baking blog myself:

    Some other great ones are Elana’s Pantry, Gluten-Free Goddess, and Gluten Free Girl & the Chef.

    Best of luck!

  12. 14 Naturally Sweet Recipes August 24, 2011 at 1:39 am

    Hi Ashley,

    I’m a new commenter, but I love your site! Thanks for sharing your stuff, I’ve been enjoying it for awhile now!

    Good luck with your diet changes and try not to stress out to much! There are so many helpful outlets that can prepare you for a new way of eating (and still have fun with it!). You’ll do great!

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