September 2017: In a Nutshell

It’s starting! 9/28/17

Well Good Morning! It feels like it’s been ages since I’ve posted on a weekend- but here we are! I’m getting ready to go enjoy this grey, breezy, not-quite-rainy morning at a pumpkin patch- right after I get my roots touched up with a long overdue visit with my stylist, Barbara.

It feels like September only just started- and a part of me is sad to see it go since I had such a wonderful time these past few weeks- but I’m also really excited to dive into October because it is- without question- my favorite month of the year. The weather is perfect. the foliage reaches peak prettiness, “The Walking Dead” comes back, and the absolute best holiday of them all arrives. I’m talking about Halloween, of course!

But before I practically back-flip into October in my state of elation- I have to tip my hat (or in this case, beanie) to September. I started the very beginning of the month with an extended weekend getaway in one of the most beautiful parts of Vermont- which set the pace for what was to come in the following weeks. Since then, I visited Salem right before it gets crazy with all the Halloween-related events and attractions, spent time with friends I hadn’t seen in ages at my friend’s breathtaking wedding in our hometown, got my “Game of Thrones” on at King Richard’s Faire for the very first time- and last weekend I took an impromptu trip to NYC to attend the Global Citizens Festival- where I got to spend time in and around Central Park with one of my best friends and catch sets from The Killers, The Lumineers, Green Day and Stevie Wonder!

It was incredible. I had such a good time.

So what do I have planned for October? A possible camping trip, plenty of scary shenanigans for Friday the 13th, a weekend at the annual horror movie convention in my hometown, more recipes and OOTDs to share- and I may be heading to a more peaceful section of New York to visit the real Sleepy Hollow for a few days- just in time for Halloween! October has always been a really busy month for me, so I’m excited to bring all the adventure to Blondie Birdie.

But Fall is in full-swing- and if you need any inspiration to get into the spirit of the season, I’ve got a couple of helpful links to get you started!

And I think that’s it for me today and for this fantastic month of September.

Enjoy your weekend and I’ll see you in October, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

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Favorites: September 2017!

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! This past week has been so insanely busy that I just can’t wait until 4:30 p.m. when I can leave my office for the day, head over to my mom’s house with my older brothers, sisters-in-law, and my niece to have our big bi-weekly family meal together- and get ready for a nice, relaxing weekend- which will include a few laid-back Autumn activities, of course!

Although my look back on the overall month of September will be up tomorrow morning (my “In a Nutshell” posts always get published on the last day of each month!)– I wanted to share some of my favorite products, entertainment, and miscellaneous odds and ends that I really enjoyed these past few weeks. Yes, there are a few pumpkin-related things on the list- this is me we’re talking about, after all- but there’s some other good stuff, too!

First up- here are some of the products/items/splurges that made September even more fun for me!

It should come as no surprise- since it’s been all over Blondie Birdie and my social media accounts since I purchased it near the beginning of this month- that my brown faux-leather, cross-body saddlebag from Old Navy has quickly become one of my favorite Fall accessories. I carry it with me everywhere, it matches pretty much everything in my wardrobe this season (I wear a lot of browns, reds and golds this time of year!)– and it holds the essentials. Also- it has a pretty cute tassel on it that gives it a little bit of character and is nearly identical to ones on a pair of moccasins I’ve been sporting lately.

As a lover of both Bath & Body Works AND enjoying a glass of wine in my bathtub from time to time- I was really excited that the brand recently announced that they were getting in on the bath bomb craze that Lush has pretty much had in the bag for years. That’s not to say I don’t love Lush and their products (they’re one of my favorites!) but B&BW’s “Bath Fizzies” are a little less expensive than Bath Bombs but are just as great. I’ve been loving their Pumpkin Cupcake-scented one lately (and you bet I buy these things in bulk!) because not only does it make my skin and hair smell like a pumpkin spice and vanilla cake- but it moisturizes and conditions, too.

Plus, they’re just so much fun to throw in the tub and watch it change the water different colors!

Keeping up with great products from Bath & Body Works- how incredible are their candles? Although they don’t last as long as, say- Yankee Candle products- they always smell AMAZING and can fill an entire room with the most unique (and sometimes mouthwatering) fragrances. “Leaves” is one of my favorites this time of year- because it’s just a fantastic combination of apple, cinnamon, spices and clove. If you could bottle all of the best things about Fall in one jar- “Leaves” would be it. I always pick up more than one when I go shopping to keep in my kitchen, my bathroom, my bedroom, etc.

When Rihanna first began teasing the launch of her new makeup line- Fenty– earlier this month- I wasn’t sure what to expect. There have been some celebrity-backed brands in the past that have left myself and plenty of other people disappointed (I still don’t get the obsession with the Kylie Jenner stuff, honestly- but maybe that’s just me!)– but the first reviews were overwhelmingly positive and it looked like Rihanna had approved an impressively wide range of shades and colors for a multitude of different skin tones and complexions. I caved and picked up a couple of things- and I’m so glad I did because I have been loving the results!

This “GIRL NEXT DOOR/CHIC PHREAK” Killawatt highlighter is giving me life right now- and makes me glow and sparkle even on the days when I’m exhausted. I wear it on my lids, my cheeks, and as a contour to freshen my face up for work and after-hours. Best of all? It’s reasonably priced. No more buyer’s remorse for overpriced products that don’t work!

Finally- has there ever been a shirt that sums me up so well? This soft cotton jersey-esque top was an impulse buy a couple of weeks ago and has been giving me, my friends and co-workers a good laugh whenever I wear it out and about. I’m actually planning on sporting it this weekend when I make a planned trip to a pumpkin patch outside of the city- because why not, right? Keep an eye out for it on my social media!

And I think that’s it for the products I really enjoyed throughout September- but there’s a few other things that made my Favorites List, too!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

“It” – I remember when I was a kid, my dad read this Stephen King novel cover to cover- only to have nightmares for a few days after he’d finished it. Something being that scary to temporarily traumatize the bravest man I knew was unheard of- so naturally when I was old enough to watch the 1990 mini-series- I went into it expecting the worst- only to be left… Well, not that scared. At all (sorry, Tim Curry! I still love you!) Since then, I’ve read the novel- and although I’m not a particular fan of remakes or the re-imagining of original stories- I always felt like “It’ deserved the Hollywood treatment to really make it worthy of the hype that has surrounded it for so many years.

Well, earlier this month- it got just that. I’ve seen “It” twice in theaters now and I absolutely love it. It’s scary, funny, sad, and- at times- sweet. It’s also perfectly cast. It’s impossible NOT to become emotionally invested in each of the characters. I can’t wait for the sequel in 2019- and I’m already dedicating my Halloween costume this year to the most terrifying scene in the book- and the movie!

The Killers – “Wonderful Wonderful” – It’s been five years since The Killers dropped ‘Battle Born’ on us- so having a brand new album this month felt like getting a surprise visit from old friends for the first time in a long time. I adore this band- always have, always will- and I’ve been listening to WW on heavy rotation since it’s release last week (I also caught a snippet of their set in NYC last weekend- which I’ll get into during my post tomorrow!) It’s a great assortment of head-bopping, sing-along “fun” songs and those pretty, uplifting kinda’-sorta’ballads these boys seem to like so much.

Their upcoming tour should be a lot of fun.

And I think that’s it for my September Favorites. Just a small collection of things I’ve been enjoying over the past few weeks. I’m sure I’ll have plenty more things to share in October!

Enjoy your Friday, everybody!

xx

– Ashley –

Fall Foodie: Butternut Bisque

Continuing with posting some of my favorite Fall-inspired dishes that are best enjoyed during this beautiful time of year, I wanted to share a quick and easy soup recipe that I whip up from time to time- particularly to serve on the chillier Autumn nights here in New England- and that I personally feel really captures some of the best flavors a good harvest has to offer!

Butternut squash is an ingredient that is so versatile and can be used in a ton of different ways- but this rich and creamy bisque might be one of the better ones. With 15 minutes of prep and about 30-40 minutes of actual cooking/pureeing time required to make this correctly- this is a good recipe to have on hand when you want something fast and filling for yourself or your guests!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 can (14½ ounces) of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon dry thyme
  • 1 large butternut squash (about 4 pounds): peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup Half & Half
  • Sour cream, for serving

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium. Add onion, garlic, thyme, cinnamon, and cayenne. Season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, (5 to 7 minutes)
  2. Add squash, broth, half-and-half, and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cook until squash is tender, (about 20 minutes.)
  3. Working in batches, puree in a blender until smooth. Stir in lemon juice; season with salt. Serve bisque with sour cream, garnished with dried thyme, if desired.
  4. Store your leftovers in a covered and microwave-safe Tupperware container to bring with you to work/school/anywhere, really- to enjoy at a later time. Simply reheat the soup- give it a good stir- and savor the flavors some more!

In just three easy steps you can make a huge serving of this bisque- and trust me when I say it tastes amazing- even when it’s reheated the next day! I brought some of this with me to work the day after I’d first prepared it for myself and some of my family that were over for a visit and enjoyed it just as much as I had the first time around. It’s hearty and packed with quite a few flavors that keep it from tasting dull.

I’m looking forward to bringing this in a thermos for a camping trip my friends and I have planned in a couple of weeks!

xx

– Ashley –

OOTD: Woodland Creature

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

When it comes to style and comfort in the Fall- one of my go-to ensembles is typically a pair of flattering skinny jeans, a nice and loose-fitting sweater, and sturdy boots (which I actually posted about not that long ago!) but sometimes- like this past weekend, for example- I need to put something together that can beat both the leftover soaring Summer temperatures that are still lingering around here while simultaneously allowing me to combat the rain that has traveled my way from this most recent round of hurricanes and tropical storms that made their way up the coast.

Enter this lightweight and breezy olive green mini-dress I picked up around this time last year while preparing for a week-long stay that split my time between Las Vegas and San Diego. The fabric it’s made from- ridiculously soft and wrinkle-proof- helps me stay warm (but not too warm) while my trusty knee-high, faux-leather brown boots keep my feet dry when I’m stepping through puddles on my way into the office.

If it’s colder outside- I typically wear leggings with this outfit- but since it’s been unusually (and stifling) hot out these past few days- I’ve gone bare-legged. One of my co-workers who saw me in this last week told me that I looked like Link from “Legend of Zelda”- which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, right?

“It’s Dangerous to Go Alone! Take This!”

Regardless of whether or not I look like an elf on a mission- This is another Autumn-esque outfit I love to wear before it gets too cold outside for me to show much skin. It could be considered another transitional outfit between seasons- but it’s also easy enough to dress up or down year-round depending on the occasion it’s being worn for.

Not pictured? My brown saddlebag- which is pretty much glued to me at this point- but since I’ve shown it plenty of times across social media, I thought I could put it down for a few minutes while I posed for photos (it makes me look more like Link, anyway!)

xx

– Ashley –

Ways To Help – Hurricane and Earthquake Relief

Good Morning, Happy Friday- and Happy First Day of Fall, everyone! While I am undoubtedly thrilled that my favorite time of year is *officially* underway and am excited for all the seasonal activities that come with it- I understand that these past couple of weeks haven’t exactly been joyous for others in different parts of the world, and wanted to offer some suggestions for those- like me, who is beyond grateful to be somewhere safe – and who may be feeling helpless during this frightening and horrifying string of non-stop global/weather-related disasters and don’t want to just sit back and do nothing.

As most of you know, Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma left parts of Texas and Florida underwater and millions of people without power in recent weeks- and in the past couple of days we saw a 7.1 magnitude earthquake strike near Mexico City and a category 5 hurricane batter Puerto Rico. While the frantic search to find survivors and restore power sources continue- I know that it can be overwhelming to want to help as much as possible- especially if you live far away from the affected areas and aren’t sure where to start.

The most predominant and well-known relief comes from The Red Cross and UNICEF, of course- and I don’t want to knock any of their hard workers who are truly trying their best to accommodate and assist so many people in such vast areas of destruction- but it’s well-documented that both of these organizations can’t always be relied upon to get the donated funds where they need to be in a timely fashion.

For that reason, should anyone be weary but don’t know where else to turn- I’ve found a handful of non-profit agencies who are working tirelessly ’round-the-clock to help out. If you’re looking for something to put some money into- these are great options.

EARTHQUAKE RELIEF:

HURRICANE RELIEF:

Those are just a few to get started- but there’s a lot more out there!

If you know of any other non-profit organizations who are helping with the ongoing disaster reliefs- please feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly to share! The more help- the better.

Hang in there, everyone- and enjoy your weekend.

xx

– Ashley –

Medieval Times

When I was a kid, one of the the unanimous favorite places for field trips and birthday parties was the Higgins Armory Museum in my hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts. The building- overwhelmingly huge in size and overlooking most of the city- was a showcase for medieval armor and weaponry, as well as art and literature. Even more impressive was that a good portion of the interior was designed to look like the inside of a castle- complete with stone pillars, balconies, alters and stained glass.

Years ago, the museum also hosted an annual beer-tasting festival where breweries from all over New England would come down for a couple of days and my friends and I would go get tipsy off of endless Dixie cups filled with various wine and beer samples before we stumbled back to our friend’s nearby (former) apartment a few blocks away and ordered pizzas. Those trips were always a lot of fun.

Higgins unfortunately closed down a while ago, and most of the armory was shipped to Worcester’s Art Museum for display- rendering the big, beautiful and spacious building where majestic suits of armor, shields and swords once sat- empty and unattended for quite some time.

Until recently, anyway.

My friend Anita got married over the weekend to her now-husband, Brandon- and the reception was held in what was previously the castle-themed room at Higgins- which had been renovated and decorated absolutely and breathtakingly gorgeous. My cell phone photos simply don’t do it justice.

Now, admittedly- I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I first walked into the museum. The castle room is on the third floor of the building- and when Sean and I first entered the main hall on the first floor and were greeted by rows upon rows of empty hallways and cleaned out display cases- we weren’t sure we were in the right place. The second floor, which appeared to house a couple of offices but not much else- had us in a panic, but when we reached the third floor and saw what had been done with the space- we were ecstatic. Not only did it accommodate everyone comfortably- but we could play the music and cheer as loud as we wanted for as late as we pleased- and we didn’t have to worry about disturbing anyone!

The ceremony was lovely, laid-back, and a lot of fun. You could tell that Anita and Brandon just wanted everyone to have a good time and made it as free-spirited and wild as they are. I was also appreciative of how Anita included a lot of her culture in the ceremony (and the food!)– from her dress changes to the music choices to the decor. It was fascinating and I had a blast meeting and mingling with her family. They were all extremely nice- and they definitely know how to party!

Anita also happens to know a lot of people I used to hang out with in high school and during my early twenties- some of whom I hadn’t seen in a long time- so there were quite a few happy reunions and a lot of catching up going on during the course of the night.

I had an amazing time, and I would seriously consider throwing a Halloween party in that space someday!

Keeping up with the theme of Knights and fair maidens- on Sunday I headed over to Carver, Massachusetts with a group of my friends to check out King Richard’s Faire for the first time. Open on the weekends, the Faire runs from now through October 22nd and is essentially a large collection of vendors, shows and attractions in the middle of the woods. It’s a pretty neat setup- one that I had a lot of fun exploring- but the place is definitely on the pricier side. General admission tickets were $32 each and that doesn’t include the price of food or beverages (all considerably marked up, of course)– and if you’re thinking about buying any kind of authentic steel or leather goods- you better have your wallet and a lot of cash on you!

Astronomical prices aside- it’s an interesting way to spend an afternoon- especially to catch some of the jousting tournaments they have throughout the day. A lot of people went in costume, naturally- so I opted to go as Cersei Lannister from’Game of Thrones’- just for fun!

I love that wig so, so much.

Overall- I had a great weekend. It was action-packed and exciting- and I was really happy I got to see and spend time with so many of my friends all at once. Work can get a little crazy sometimes, and the weekends are often pretty hectic- but it’s awesome when we can all find the time to hang out together- even if it’s just for a couple of hours.

Here’s to Wednesday and the work week almost being over! Hang in there, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

POPSUGAR Must Have Box Review: September 2017

Good Morning, Monday. We meet again- and after the crazy weekend I had these past couple of days- a long, cozy nap seems much more preferable than diving headfirst into work. Unfortunately, I think sleeping under my desk would be frowned upon- so I’ve got to power through my e-mails, voicemails, and tasks for this morning and hope the rest of the day takes it easy on me!

Over the weekend, however- I received the September installment of my POPSUGAR “Must Have” Box. Since Fall is undoubtedly my favorite season, I almost always really enjoy the curated collections I get from POPSUGAR from now through November- and I was excited to see how they were going to kick things off.

The themes/inspirations for September’s “Must Have” Box didn’t sound too Autumn-esque at first glance, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect- especially with anything ‘Floral’- which I associate more with Spring/Summer than anything else. The complete theme/inspirations were TRENDSETTING, PERSONALIZE, STYLE, FLORAL and ILLUMINATING.

Let’s take a look inside!

To address my prior concerns with the ‘Floral’ inspiration- I was pleasantly surprised to find this eye-caching and versatile black flower pin from Hat Attack inside September’s “Must Have” Box. Fitting it on my Fall blazers, hats, bracelets, or handbags- this is a cute and seasonally appropriate accessory that spices up basic Autumn wardrobe staples with essentially no effort at all.

Consider me relieved of my worry that this box would be filled with more Summer stuff!

I’ve been sporting knee-high boots lately, and I really love wearing my socks a little bit higher to give me some extra layers on my legs to play around with when putting together an outfit for the day- so these black and grey striped, knee-high wool socks from Richer Poorer are perfect!

Not only do they keep my legs nice and warm on the chillier days that have been rolling in as of late- but they match pretty much everything, too!

I just want to personally thank POPSUGAR from saving me from a trip to Sephora this week to pick up more makeup primer. This new brightening/illuminating gel-primer (packed with vitamins!) from Figs & Rouge is going to work just fine. With an oil-free formula and lightweight texture- this product keeps my makeup in place while giving me a natural glow without clogging my pores or making me look overly shiny. I’m obsessed. Where has this been all my life?

I own a couple of accessories in one of this season’s hottest hues- Millennial Pink- and now I can add convenient clutch to my collection, too. This faux-snakeskin wallet & smartphone holder from Hudson + Bleecker is the perfect size to store the necessities when I go out, and has proven to be a lifesaver for more formal Fall events when I can’t carry around my usual brown saddlebag with me. I love this!

I think my favorite, and probably one of the most unique items in September’s “Must Have” Box is this color-changing and universally flattering cream blush from Lipstick Queen– which goes on black and transforms into a beautiful berry shade once it makes contact with the skin. How cool is that?! I’ve been using the Black Lace Rabbit Blush for a few days now and it always looks subtle and natural on my complexion- and it changes for everyone depending on your skin tone. Here’s a photo of me with it dabbed on:

As you can see, my cheeks have a slight flush of color in them- but it isn’t obvious the way some powder blushes look and it doesn’t interfere with my foundation or finishing powder by making me look blotchy or uneven. It’s such a simple and effective product that kind of blows my mind every time I use it!

And of course, POPSUGAR comes through with the snacks! This is Pipcorn– miniature popcorn that comes in big flavors and isn’t loaded down with gross ingredients or a ton of salt and oil. Kettle corn is actually one of my favorite types of popcorn- so I’ll be bringing this with me to the office tomorrow to store at my desk and munch on during the week for a guilt-free treat!

Finally, POPSUGAR included a bonus item this month- a $30 gift card to HelloFresh (it’s enough to cover the first box and shipping!) My cousin has been subscribed to HelloFresh for a short while now, and she recently told me how much fun her and her boyfriend are having trying the recipes so far. Not only is everything pretty easy to make- but it tastes good, too- so I’ll be using this one for sure!

I thought September’s “Must Have” Box- while not typically like Fall boxes I’ve received in the past- was still great and included a lot of unexpected and unique items to get the season started. I loved the cream blush and the socks the most, I think- but the pin and the wallet were great additions, too!

I can’t wait for October’s box! I hope they add some spooky stuff in there!

xx

– Ashley –