Ahoy, Mateys!

Ahoy, Mateys!

When it comes to theater and the arts- I wouldn’t exactly call myself a refined, sophisticated know-it-all- and I like what I like without apology. I was a trained ballet dancer through my teens and a Fine Arts major in NYC for all of thirty seconds in my early twenties before I made the switch to wide-eyed traveler, tenacious law student and tireless writer. But my interest in performances and painting never waned.

I like immersive theater the best- and anything dark, broody or supernatural and spooky is right up my alley given my self-proclaimed “Halloween Queen” title- but sometimes family-friendly and downright silly can be an unexpected delight that I treat myself to from time to time. When that type of theater happens to take place right in the heart of Western Massachusetts- an area I frequent often and truly enjoy spending time in- it’s even better.

My first introduction to Paintbox Theater was in the Summer of 2014 after a return trip from San Diego Comic-Con (speaking of- I hope everyone attending this week has a great time and uploads an obscene amount of photos so I can keep up!) My longtime friend, Troy- an actor with an almost intimidating resume and now company manager at Paintbox- had picked me up at the airport and invited me to come along to a rehearsal so I could see firsthand what it is that they do.

He was also borrowing my car that week- which I’m sure impacted his decision to invite me to some degree- but that’s neither here nor there.

Paintbox- founded by Tom McCabe, a celebrated storyteller (who also serves as a writer and director of the company’s productions)– puts on three shows every Summer that not only interact heavily with it’s teeny-tiny audience members- but simultaneously encourages literacy, kindness, and friendship with each performance. All the things this world so desperately needs right now, really.

They do this by incorporating audience participation and allowing children to add their own artwork to the set- drawings that are shown via a projection screen over the stage that are used to depict scenery, characters, points in the story, etc. It’s a nice and adorable way for kids to feel like they’re *in* on the play and included in the shenanigans and sometimes absolute pandemonium (in a controlled, safe way of course) happening with the actors onstage.

And if you’re worried that there isn’t anything to keep the adults entertained during all of this- think again. Some of the jokes, which are subtle enough to go way above a toddler’s head- are pretty perfect for any parent or grown-up patron who needs a good chuckle.

I was completely moved by the company’s efforts to reach and entertain children back in 2014- and have popped by performances now and then through the years to say hello. Now, in it’s celebratory 15th season- Paintbox is getting ready for their second show of the Summer: “Pirates!” and since I’m always looking to share fun things to do around New England- I thought this would be perfect for those of you reading this (with or without younger ones) who might want to travel to one of the more beautiful areas of Massachusetts and catch a show while supporting a great group of hardworking people.

I, myself, have been a proud supporter of Paintbox for years now- and think you’d all enjoy it!

Saturday- July 21, 2018 @ 10:30 AM & 1:00 PM – Sunday- July 22, 2018 @ 10:30 AM

Williston Theater @ 18 Payson Ave, Easthampton, MA. 01027

(the Sunday show will immediately be followed by a 2nd annual “Pirate Day” with games and activities.)

Wednesday- July 25, 2018 @ 10:30 AM (Rain Date: Thursday, July 26, 2018 @ 10:30 AM)

Millside Park @ 2 Ferry Street along the Manhan Rail Trail

Tickets can be purchased at the website linked above, or by CLICKING HERE.

Enjoy your Wednesday, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

Very Superstitious…

Very Superstitious…

Good Morning and Happy Monday (ugh…), everyone! Time to get back into that workday grind!

This past weekend was a lazy and relaxing one- with my time divided between an outdoor festival with friends in Western Massachusetts on Saturday and a family cookout on Sunday- but it was enough to recharge me for the week ahead. I’ve got a lot to do over the next few days!

Before I kicked things off in Greenfield on Saturday morning, I was in Medfield overnight for the Friday the 13th-inspired movie screening put on by the Coolidge Corner Theatre! Specifically- the theatre’s “After Midnight” program, where they screen classic horror movies, low-budget 70s flicks, and so-bad-they’re-good cult favorites like “The Room” and “Batman & Robin”- late at night.

Every Friday the 13th- rain or shine- the theater turns the Rocky Woods Reservation in Medfield into Camp Crystal Lake and screen two back-to-back Jason Voorhees movies. There’s plenty of refreshments provided by local breweries and volunteers- and one or two very tall, muscular and intimidating guys that dress like Jason and walk around at random to help creep up everyone’s night.

This year’s movie selection consisted of “Friday the 13th: A New Beginning” and my personal favorite in the series- “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan”. Both, part of that so-bad-they’re-good category- had all of us in attendance laughing hysterically for hours on end. By the time the night was over- my face hurt from cracking up so much- but the rest of me felt fine thanks to some serious bug spray I used beforehand to keep mosquitoes and ticks away! You can never be too careful, after all.

The Coolidge will be showing classic horror movies through the end of the Summer, so if you’re looking for something to do on a Friday or Saturday night and want to stay somewhere air conditioned and surrounded by good people who like to laugh- I definitely recommend stopping by!

I personally can’t wait for their “Troll 2” night. So, so awful. It’s going to be a blast!

And now I’ve got to get to work and get things done before my phone starts ringing!

Enjoy your Monday, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

OOTD: In The Navy…

OOTD: In The Navy…

Good Morning, Happy Friday- and Happy Friday The 13th, everyone!

Before I finish up early at work, head out to stock up on bug spray and snacks, and venture out into the woods for an overnight Jason Vorhees-inspired camp out to commemorate this most creepy of dates with some friends- I wanted to share one of my favorite Summertime pieces that was under $10! Yes, you read that right- under $10!

This navy blue, cotton, strapless dress- courtesy of Primark– was unsurprisingly intended to be a bikini cover-up. But, when the temperatures soar and I want to be able to be out and about without sweating through or sticking to fabrics- this little number comes in handy!

This dress is lightweight and stops mid-thigh, making it easy to accessorize with sandals/flats without having to worry about it getting even shorter. I also love the crocheting around the mid-section, which makes this look super flattering!

I wore this dress this past weekend during my afternoon excursion to Georges Island- and paired it with a simple tan Panama hat and comfortable navy and white striped flats to make maneuvering around Fort Warren and the surrounding beach a little easier and safer.

And, as usual- I framed my face with my favorite pair of cat-eye shades from Quay Sunglasses! I was comfortable (even when exploring a spooky abandoned fort) and looked ready to go from beach-to-yacht-to-seaside-dinner in no time at all!

If I’m wearing this dress out at night, I tend to wear a little more bling with it to make it feel a bit more fancy- and if I’m feeling more daring- I’ll skip the flats/sandals and go with a modest wedge heel that isn’t too high.

But for under $10- this dress was a great buy that gets a ton of use in the hotter months!

I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your Friday and a ton of fun this coming weekend! If you’re superstitious- be extra careful today. And, if you’re not superstitious- try not to wander into any abandoned Summer camps anyway, okay? You never know what (or who) is lurking out there!

See you all on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –

Two If By Sea…

Good Morning and Happy Hump Day, everyone!

One of my favorite things about living in New England is that for as long as I’ve been here and with all the exploring I’ve done over the years- I still find new places I’ve never visited before that delight, dazzle, and surprise me! That’s why when a friend recommends going someplace unfamiliar or even a bit unconventional- I rarely protest. You just never know what you’re going to see and find!

Case in point? This past weekend when my BFF Sean- who is just as much of an adventurer as I am- suggested we spend an afternoon catching a boat to Georges Island (about 45 minutes off of Boston Harbor.) Now, I love the sea- and I love sailing- but most of my boat experiences have been limited to areas around Cape Cod and in some instances, right off the coast in New Hampshire. I’d never actually visited Georges Island before- and it’s one of the few Boston Harbor islands that Sean hadn’t visited, either. Of course I said yes!

Georges Island is home to the remnants of Fort Warren. When construction of the fort completed in 1860, it served as a prison for captured Confederate soldiers/sailors and as government offices- and continued to be utilized as a control center until 1947. It now stands empty and foreboding on the island- but can be explored by visitors during the day. Although a lot of it has since crumbled or has been overtaken by nature again- I had an absolute blast photographing some of it’s flooded corridors and tunnels!

Below are some of my favorite snapshots from the Fort! Click on an image to make it bigger!

The fort is allegedly haunted by a widow who went to the island to rescue her imprisoned husband- only to die by hanging once she’d arrived there and was subsequently captured- but Sean and I didn’t see her around. Believe me- we looked.

After the island closed for visitors for the day and we’d returned and docked back in Boston Harbor- Sean and I headed over to The Barking Crab to soak up a little more sun in their outdoor seating area and indulge in margaritas, crab cakes, baked haddock- and some good ol’ Boston Cream Pie while the sun began to set. The place is a little pricey- but oh so worth it if you love seafood as much as I do!

It was a beautiful afternoon- and worth the little bit of red I got on my shoulders later on that evening (it’s since gone away!) Someone please remind me to reapply SPF *before* I start drinking margaritas and get forgetful.

And now, I’ve got to get to work and make enough money to eat at The Barking Crab again!

Just kidding- but I do have to get to work so that I’m not completely swamped by noon.

Enjoy your Wednesday, everyone! See you all on Friday!

The view from Dinner! 7/8/18.

xx

– Ashley –

Summer Sweets: Frozen Strawberry Lemonade Pie

Good Evening and Happy Monday, everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful start to your week! While my posts typically go up early in the mornings before I head into my office for the day- I was a little pre-occupied this past weekend- and with my hours changing a bit at work (I come in a little earlier, stay a little later- and have half days on Fridays now!) I didn’t have a whole lot of time to get this yummy, sweet and just the right amount of tart recipe up on the blog ’til now!

Lemonade is my go-to, non-alcoholic drink to serve during the Summertime- especially when it’s scorching hot out (which it definitely has been around New England lately!)– since it’s so refreshing when it’s made right. When I saw this strawberry-infused, set-it-and-forget-it frozen pie version a couple of weeks ago- I knew I had to try out the recipe during one of my days off to share with friends as we tried to beat the heat and stay cool!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 12 tablespoons butter
  • 24 whole graham crackers, crushed into tiny crumbs (you should have 4 cups worth of graham cracker crumbs total.)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Water, as needed
  • 3 egg whites
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 8 ounces whipped topping, thawed
  • 16 ounces frozen strawberries, thawed

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. MAKE THE CRUST: Combine butter, crushed graham crackers, and ¼ cup sugar in a large bowl. Stir together until the mixture begins to stick together. To test the mixture, pinch a small amount at a time and see if it sticks. If it doesn’t- add a tablespoon of water at a time until it does.
  2. Divide the graham cracker crumbs between two 9 inch pie plates, using your fingers to press the mixture evenly across the bottom and up the sides. Place the crusts in the freezer while you make the fillings.
  3. MAKE THE FILLING: Place the egg whites in a clean mixing bowl. Use electric beaters or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment to beat the egg whites on medium speed for 1 minute. Then add the lemon juice. Beat on medium high speed for another 4 minutes. The mixture will look foamy and thick. Add the sugar, a quarter cup at a time, and continue to beat on medium high speed for 1 minute after each addition (the eggs will take about 8 minutes total to whip up completely.)
  4. Add the frozen strawberries and beat on medium speed until they’re broken up and evenly distributed throughout the egg mixture. Fold in the whipped topping.
  5. Divide the strawberry mixture evenly between the two pie pans. Cover and freeze for at least six hours- or overnight.
  6. To serve, drop the pie plate in an inch of hot water for about 30 seconds to help loosen the crust. Then slice and serve!

I love this recipe because it’s sweet and sour- but the graham cracker crust helps break up the tartness with each bite! You can also add or reduce the amount of lemon juice and sugar incorporated into this if you want the pie to taste more sour or more sweet- depending on your personal preference. I think I’ll actually be adding a little more lemon juice next time!

Here’s to another lovely week of Summer ahead of us. We’ve already made it through Monday- so here’s hoping the rest is a breeze!

xx

– Ashley –