Notes From The Big E…

Notes From The Big E…

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it!

As much as I would love nothing more than to just sleep through this entire weekend since I am absolutely wiped out from these past couple of days (not including work!)– there’s still plenty of things left on my September “To-Do” list I  want to see through before this month begins winding down- and this coming weekend is the time to do it!

One thing I managed to scratch off my September/Fall Bucket List this past Wednesday was popping by The Big E for a late afternoon/evening filled with the unhealthiest (and delicious) fair foods, carnival rides and bizarre attractions. It’s pretty much a must-do for New Englanders- often a tradition for my friends and I- and I wanted to make sure I could enjoy it for a few hours while the weather was nice and the sun was shining!

Now that I live in the Valley, getting to The Big E takes no time at all- so I was able to park and walk in without having to sit in post-work-pre-dinner traffic for hours on end (another less favorable tradition…)

I had a lovely time squealing over cute farm animals, eating half my body weight in Friskie Fries (and fried Oreos!) and soaking up the sunset amid all the flashing lights and rickety rides while simultaneously wondering whether or not I needed any of the unusual gadgets and accessories vendors were pitching in the exhibit halls.

Naturally, I snapped some photos along the way…

Such a nice way to spend a Wednesday afternoon.

The Big E is up and running through September 29th if you want to check it out for yourself!

Next week on Blondie Birdie- I’ve got my annual Autumn playlist ready to go for those in need of a dreamy soundtrack, more photos from my early Fall adventures- and some of my favorite things from this past September (and believe me- there’s a lot!)

But until then- enjoy your weekend, everybody!

xx

– Ashley –

Fall Foodie: Sweet Potato Crostini

Fall Foodie: Sweet Potato Crostini

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

The work-week is halfway over, and before I jump into what few tasks I set aside for my half day at the office this morning and prepare to head on over to The Big E a little later on today- I wanted to share the first of what I’m sure will be many Fall-inspired recipes I recently cooked up (and will no doubt be revisiting again soon since we are pretty much officially in my favorite season right now!)

Sweet potatoes are probably my favorite vegetable because you can do many different things with them in the kitchen and they always taste delicious. Cut into fries? Added into stews? Turned into a traditional but delightful dessert? They’re fantastic- and very much something I love to cook/bake with this time of year.

These crostini, which are essentially a crispier and slightly smaller-sized take on a loaded baked potato- are the perfect pre-dinner or Game Day snack because you can top them with pretty much anything and they’re guaranteed to be a crowd favorite. For this particular batch- I opted for seasonal flavors that I thought would compliment the potato’s sweetness- but feel free to get experimental!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 2 small sweet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Sliced/cubed brie cheese (one piece to top each potato slice.)
  • ½ cup of cooked and crumbled bacon pieces
  • ½ cup of chopped and salted roasted almonds
  • ½ cup of chopped dried cranberries

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cut the ends off the sweet potatoes and then cut the potatoes into ¼-inch-thick slices. Brush both sides of the potato slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Arrange the potato slices on the prepared baking sheet and roast until they are golden brown and crisp, 17 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely.
  4. Top each cooled potato slice with a piece of brie and sprinkles of the toasted almonds, dried cranberries and bacon crumble. You can mix and match here- it’s totally fine!
  5. Serve and enjoy!

I honestly ate so many of these things in one sitting and I’m not ashamed to admit it. They’re so good!

I also read a recipe that topped the potato slices with cream cheese and smoked salmon- which sounded like it might be life-changing- so I may have to incorporate that into the next batch I make, as well!

But before I make another couple dozen of these and before I head off to enjoy my afternoon off- I’ve got some work to do over the next few hours.

As always, I’ll be back on Friday morning- as is tradition!

Enjoy your “Hump Day,” y’all!

xx

– Ashley –

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice…

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

While the thought of returning to work after such a great weekend isn’t exactly ideal- I take comfort in the fact that I’ll be heading to The Big E in a couple of days for some early-Autumn fun- so at least that will break up the humdrum of daily office life. I am more than ready for some fried Oreos, hot apple cider- and carnival rides that may or may not have passed “mandatory” safety inspections!

This past weekend was also filled with some early-Autumn fun. After hosting my show on Indie617 and performing in Salem on Saturday night- I made a point to spend my Sunday at Red Apple Farm to pick some apples, find myself the perfect pumpkin, and indulge in all the farm-fresh snacks I could find- all with my beloved little Oliver in tow!

It was a beautiful, sunny- and comfortably cool afternoon. Oliver was completely fascinated by the apple trees, the tractors that were driving by, and the goats and piglets the farm has available for viewing/feeding/petting. I’m pretty sure he’d be okay if I were to adopt a pet pig in the future. They’d probably get along famously.

Naturally, I picked up some apple dumplings, some all natural peanut butter and some homemade strawberry-apple jam before we left for the afternoon- and I’m excited to dive into all of it in the coming days!

But of course, I’ve got to dive into my caseload at work, first- and make sure I stay ahead so I can get an early jump on this coming weekend!

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful start to your week. I’ll be back on Wednesday with a pretty fantastic appetizer recipe that takes no time at all to whip up!

xx

– Ashley –

Hurricane Dorian: How To Help

I’ve lived through a few significant natural disasters in my lifetime- two tornadoes (one of which was a F3 and had killed a couple of people as it swept through Western Massachusetts,) record-breaking snowstorms/blizzards, an Earthquake that thankfully only made my chair at work wobble a bit for a few short seconds- and more than a handful of hurricanes of varying strength and speed.

All- with the exception of the mini earthquake- were pretty scary. I grew up inland, away from the coast- so hurricanes only ever really caused a lot of rain, a lot of wind, and the occasional inconveniencing power outage- but I’d seen how they could wash away entire coastal communities in a matter of minutes with high speed winds and flash flooding.

A couple of times a year, when Mother Nature gets herself into a frenzy and wreaks havoc- I seek out organizations with impeccable records and reputations who are doing incredible work to help survivors and rebuild the lives of those affected by natural disasters.

It’s important to do the research, since not every “go-to” charity or organization can be up-front and honest about where finances and donations really end up.

And having seen the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian after it had hovered over the Bahamas before slowly making it’s way towards the East Coast- I wanted to do anything to help- even if it was just something small. That level of destruction is unfathomable to me.

If you’re looking for ways to help, may I direct you to the following?

  • Global Giving – GG are raising funds to provide residents in the Bahamas with food, water and medicine while simultaneously undertaking the task of rebuilding the affected communities from the ground up.
  • YachtAid Global – Working with yacht owners in the area to coordinate deliveries of goods- YachtAid Global are actively working on bringing hygiene kits, tarps, mosquito nets and food to the Bahamas in preparation for establishing long-term care for residents.
  • World Central Kitchen – With a relief team recently deployed to the Bahamas- WCK is establishing kitchens around the area to feed residents and rescue workers presently cleaning up the aftermath.
  • Grand Bahama Disaster Relief – Set up by the Grand Bahama Port Authority, you have the option of donating either money to pay for supplies/rebuilding costs- or donating goods directly via drop-off points or through sites like Amazon.

If you know of an organization who is doing fantastic work with Dorian relief efforts- please feel free to leave a comment and share! It would be greatly appreciated!

I’ll be back on Monday with my usual types of posts- but until then- be good to one another.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

xx

– Ashley –

Lobster and Lounging…

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

I’m excited that today is not only my work from home day, but also my designated half day- which means I can get things done in the comfort of my pajamas before I mentally check out at noon, get dressed- and go have some fun with what’s left of my afternoon!

Truthfully I’m still sort of in “rest and relaxation mode” from this past weekend’s excursion to New Hampshire with my mom, my cousin, my cousin’s fiancé- and my dog- where we attended the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival for a day. It’s been our tradition for quite a few years now- and I look forward to it every August/September because it’s essentially just a day to eat great food, stroll the boardwalk, play some classic arcade games (and skee-ball!) and snag some pretty terrific bargains and sales as all the seaside shops attempt to get rid of their remaining inventory before they close up for the Fall/Winter months!

And while I’ve typically gone for lobster rolls as my indulgence of choice during the festival- this year I gravitated towards crab cakes and lobster rangoons (absolutely delicious, by the way!) with freshly-squeezed lemonade from various vendors around the food/cooking tents.

I’m pretty sure I could have easily eaten 10x more of everything- but then I wouldn’t be able to fit into the absolutely adorable clothes I bought while I was in town!

Each year I try to pick up a couple of things I can wear during the following Summer or for future trips to hotter climates- but this year I decided to pick up a couple of dresses (and a new purse to give my current Prada one a bit of a break!) that I can easily wear and accessorize throughout the early Fall. the purse itself came with an accessory- a lovely bit of satin cloth and a navy blue tassel that is around the handle.

The first dress is a foxy (literally) frock with buttons and a really cute cartoon fox print all over- and the second is a ruffled, super soft floral dress that I am going to pair with some cowboy-style boots after I go shoe-shopping this weekend. I can’t wait to wear this out on my next night on the town!

And everything I purchased was under $50 total. Not bad, right?

Overall it was a really lovely day and I’m excited to do it all again next year. Being at the beach and watching the waves always relaxes me- no matter what time of year it is.

This particular trip got me thinking about Hurricane Dorian, though- which threatened our weekend forecast for a few days but thankfully didn’t turn into anything more serious- and it got me thinking about the Bahamas.

On Friday, I’ll be taking a quick break from my usual Autumnal Activities to share ways you can help those affected by what was one of the worst hurricanes we’ve seen shown up on a radar in quite some time. I’m eager to help, and i hope you are, too!

But for now- I’ve got to get to work. Enjoy the rest of your “Hump Day,” everyone!

xx

– Ashley –