2017: In a Nutshell

Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone! We’ve made it through these past 12 months (relatively) unscathed- and here we are! Around this time of year I almost always remark that the previous 12 months flew by and I can’t believe we’re already heading into another year, but let’s be perfectly honest- and I know plenty of people who will agree with me- 2017 dragged on.

As my grandmother used to say: it moved “slower than molasses.”

Whether it was the unsteady political landscape in the United States, the shocking allegations of abuse and misconduct coming from all facets of media and the entertainment industry, natural disaster after natural disaster plaguing various areas of the world- or just everyone unconsciously and collectively slowing things down a little to take it all in and try to process it- but it felt like we had so many things happening this year that caused mass and universal freezes/stand-stills every few weeks.

It could be argued that things feeling more slow-paced is a good thing. It’s never fun to feel rushed or like time is slipping away quicker than we’d like, right? Of course not!

But, as one of my friends put it: “2017 aged us all an extra ten years. We’re all eligible for AARP benefits at this point,” so- maybe picking up the pace wouldn’t have been entirely bad for everyone.

We endured and we survived it, however- and I honestly feel like if we can make it through everything that went on throughout 2017- we can make it through anything. Provided we keep on standing up for what’s right and face adversity head-on. Together.

I’m excited to see what 2018 has in store for me, and I’m ready to tackle whatever challenges lay ahead with it.

But before I get into all the headlines/shocking moments/funny memes that came out of this past year that was or dive into my resolutions for the coming year- I have to reflect on the biggest changes and moments that I experienced in 2017.

2017 was the first real, full year I got to embrace and enjoy my “Single Girl Status” following the dissolution of what had turned into a troubled and problematic 7+ year relationship with my ex in the Summer of 2016. While I had powered through that holiday season the best I could- this past year saw my first New Year’s, birthday, Valentine’s Day, etc. flying solo- and even though I feared I’d be an awkward, fumbling dweeb when I eventually and slowly re-entered the world of dating- it didn’t go as badly as I had expected it would. I’ve met a lot of really nice people and have made a lot of new friends I enjoy spending time with. I feel like they’ve helped me come out of the shell I’d built around myself in the aftermath of my break-up- and I’m a better person for it.

And, of course- being single left a lot of room for me and my previously-hectic schedule to travel more often and spend much-needed time with my friends that live further away. I flew across the country way more than I’d done in previous years (including an infamous 24 trip to San Diego where I’d arrived on a Saturday to surprise a friend, flew home that Sunday- and was back to work that Monday morning bright and early!). I visited all corners of New England to hike, sight-see, and seek out some rest and relaxation- and, with my newfound sense of adventure and determination- I went as far as to renew my passport for more adventures abroad in 2018!

I also had more time to focus on my career without distraction, and my hard work paid off. I was promoted to a new position in the Spring (and then was promoted again this past November)– that I absolutely LOVE. The people I work with are great. The work itself is interesting, fun in some ways, challenging in others- and rewarding- and the pay and benefits that come with the position have left me feeling comfortable and confident in my title. I’ve never been able to say that until now. I’m so beyond grateful that I can wake up each morning and go to a job that I genuinely enjoy with people that I really connect with. I know so many others who aren’t as fortunate as I am.

I changed my hair color (from red to blonde!) and my blog this past year- launching ‘Blondie Birdie’ in June after closing up shop at my previous blogging endeavor, ‘Legally Redhead’. I’ve been having a blast putting together content here, as it seems more structured and “professional” (I use the term loosely, of course) than anything I’d done in the past. I cannot thank everyone enough for their support, suggestions, kind words and assistance with getting this off the ground- and of course I am always appreciative of everyone who subscribed, liked, commented or promoted my work here. You all keep me- and ‘Blondie Birdie’- going. I can’t thank you all enough and I have a lot of really great things planned in the coming year to share with everyone!

Overall, 2017 was a great year for me personally and professionally- and I hope that momentum keeps up throughout 2018. I intend to keep working hard, both at work and on myself as a person- but I’ll get to those resolutions shortly. We need to talk about the big stories, first- even though looking back at some of it might be painful at times.

This is 2017: In a Nutshell

(Image via BUSINESS INSIDER)

This absolute trainwreck: Is there enough room on WordPress to talk about what a complete and utter travesty Donald Trump’s first year as President went? With unfulfilled or flat-out abandoned campaign promises from the get-go (which should shock no one with an ounce of common sense)– Trump spent most of his year golfing, Tweeting personal attacks against his critics and/or political opponents, obsessing over the Clintons and the Obamas like Glenn Close in ‘Fatal Attraction’, giving mortifying speeches that showed his limited vocabulary, watching his staff use the revolving door presumably installed at the White House with MULTIPLE firings/resignations, Photoshopping himself onto TIME Magazine covers to hang up at his properties, dodging questions about accusations of fraud and money laundering committed by his dimwitted children, letting Mike Huckabee’s lying, fumbling daughter serve as a laughable parody of a Press Secretary, pushing us closer and closer to the brink of war and essentially being shunned and ostracized by the rest of the civilized world.

Of course, with special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Trump and his “alleged” (he did it) collusion with Russia during the election resulting in recent indictments being handed down to former campaign head Paul Manafort, his business associate Rick Gates, former Trump staffer George Papadopoulos and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn- one can only hope that 2018 is the year we actually make America great again by impeaching this bloated, narcissistic lunatic and all the scumbags that flooded in with him once and for all.

(Image via USA TODAY)

Women fought back- and they fought back HARD: It started with the unprecedented and hugely successful International Women’s March back in January, one day following Trump’s inauguration- and from there, women standing up to their abusers, harassers, oppressors and tormentors snowballed- reaching a fever pitch this past Fall with the #MeToo movement and subsequent re-shifting of social “norms” as a result. How women are treated, spoken to and regarded by men, both in positions of power or not, was put under careful examination- and it was a long time coming.

2017 was the year women had enough of their concerns being sidelined, overlooked or undermined. They came out swinging to finally hold the perpetrators of sexism and sexual harassment and/or assault accountable- and it was a thing of beauty to behold. Not only did women support and stand side-by-side with each other worldwide to make sure voices were heard and never silenced or intimidated by those who tried to doubt or discredit them- but their efforts resulted in the dethroning of some of the most notorious and seemingly “untouchable” of offenders: Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Brett Ratner, and most recently, Roy Moore- were just some of the men whose careers and credibility were shattered in the wake of multiple accusations and damning evidence.

The movement was so strong, that TIME Magazine named “The Silence Breakers”- those who spoke up about the sexual misconduct they’d suffered and endured- as their ‘Person of the Year’ for 2017.

(Image via CNN)

North Korea became more than just a thorn in our sides: For years, North Korea has been considered the equivalent to that one younger sibling or cousin we all have that annoys the Hell out of us and exaggerates about things they’ve done/are going to do/are capable of. You know that one. They exist in every family.

I digress. In 2017 North Korea actually went from being easily swept under the rug and forgotten about to being a legitimate cause of concern with frequent missile testing, rumors of possible nuclear devices in their grasp and threats to wipe out sections of the United States with those very same devices. Petty insults were often traded between Kim Jong-un and Trump during the tense and uncertain times (both unhinged and both having unfortunate hairstyles, go figure) which left everyone on edge as an attack or going to war felt imminent.

In the Summer of 2017, American student Otto Warmbier was released from a prison sentence in North Korea after he’d allegedly attempted to steal a propaganda poster while visiting the country. The otherwise healthy 22 year old was returned to the United States in a coma after suffering an unknown neurological injury while detained- and died six days after coming home. As a result of his death, a travel ban was again put into place to block Americans from visiting North Korea- not that anyone should be going there in the first place.

(Image via CNN)

Mother Nature was BRUTAL: 2017 saw a series of the some of the worst, most damaging and destructive natural disasters in years. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria barreled the Southern states and Puerto Rico one right after the other- while a 7.1 earthquake in central Mexico killed more than 200 people in Mexico City and injured more than 6,000 others this past September.

While relief efforts were and are still underway in many areas struggling to rebuild, Southern California just faced some of the most terrifying wildfires ever documented- a few of which loomed dangerously close to parts of Los Angeles and San Diego. Amateur footage shot by those residing in zones that were undergoing evacuations looked like something straight out of a post-apocalyptic action movie. It was unreal.

Monsoons in India and Bangladesh, droughts in Brazil, and devastating landslides in China and Sierra Leone- just to name a few- also caused widespread chaos and panic throughout 2017. Climate change is definitely real and it’s definitely going to continue affecting us all.

(Image via VOX)

The resurgence of neo-Nazis, White Supremacists and the “Alt-Right”: With Trump’s Presidency underway, it emboldened the worst of his supporters- the White Nationalists or, as they now refer to themselves- the “Alt-Right”. Across the country, Neo-Nazis staged marches, protests, and embarrassing rallies (where they presented themselves in what I can only assume is the agreed upon uniform of ill-fitting polo shirts, khaki pants, and Tiki torches they purchased at Pier 1) in an attempt to garner support for their ignorant causes/beliefs- but they were typically met and outnumbered by counter-protesters who sent them fleeing back to their mothers’ basements in a panic.

One rally in particular, in Charlottesville, VA. earlier in August- made headlines when a White Supremacist plowed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters- killing 32-year old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. Heather and her mother, Susan Bro- who has shown amazing courage, poise and resilience in the face of such a heartbreaking loss- have in many ways become the faces at the forefront of counter-protesters who have been actively combating the White Nationalists at every turn.

Trump- again- showed his true colors and faced well-deserved criticism after the incident with his failure to condemn the actions of the “Alt-Right” and instead tried to justify their actions by explaining to the press that there were “good people” on both sides.

(Image via CNN)

Terror struck concert-goers: With schools, movie theaters, places of worship, night clubs, restaurants, shopping malls, office buildings and tourist attractions having all experienced some form of mass violence in recent years- it was heartbreaking to see concerts, which are perhaps one of the most powerful, poignant and intimate experiences that crowds of people can enjoy together- fall under attack, as well.

In May, following an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena- a homemade bomb was detonated as attendees were exiting the venue- killing 23 people (including children) and injuring over 500. Ariana Grande wasted no time in visiting survivors who were recovering from their injuries and putting together a benefit concert in Manchester a month later- which raised £10 million to help the victims and their families.

Months later, in October- 58 people were killed and over 500 were injured after a lone gunman opened fire from his hotel room on concert-goers at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas- making the incident the deadliest mass shooting in the United States. The incident once again brought gun control to the forefront of National conversation- particularly regarding the sale of bump stocks- which the shooter used to make his semi-automatic weapons fire at the same rate of a fully automatic weapon.

Like Manchester, a benefit concert was also held in Vegas to raise money for the victims. Gun control, however- has been swept aside as usual.

(Images via multiple media sources)

We lost fascinating and talented people along the way: Every year has it’s share of unexpected and tragic deaths of beloved figures- and 2017 was no different. From the not-so-shocking, be it old age or battles with long-standing illnesses (Hugh Hefner, Malcolm Young and Adam West, for example)– some celebrity deaths caught us completely off guard- such as Chris Cornell’s suicide in May or Tom Petty’s sudden heart attack in October.

Each of them will be missed for sure- but these individuals live on in the extensive and impressive body of work they’ve left behind for us to enjoy- brilliant television/movies and albums to watch/listen to over and over again.

Charles Manson finally died this year, too- but I think we can all agree that was a highlight of 2017 instead of a low point. Some people just gotta’ go and be gone from this world- and he was one of them.

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Now, I know plenty more happened this year- but those were the big things (in my opinion!) But, not wanting to leave out some of the funnier fads and trends from 2017- I’ve created this year’s HONORABLE MENTION section to re-live the laughs and lighthearted moments.

– The Solar Eclipse was pretty neat, wasn’t it?: In August, we got to witness a total solar eclipse go coast-to-coast over the United States. People everywhere stopped to look up (with the correct glasses/devices to prevent permanent damage to their eyes) to catch a glimpse of it and news outlets streamed live coverage as their cameras panned upwards to catch the phenomenon in real time. It was a fun afternoon.

– Robert Kelly’s kids interrupted his interview and stole the show: If there was ever a moment we all collectively needed to brighten our lives- the Robert Kelly BBC interview from March 10th was it. While discussing the scandal surrounding the South Korean impeachment from his home office via webcam- Kelly’s toddler and baby found their way into the room in the background and hilarity ensued. The video has since gone viral- and it’s always worth a re-watch if you’re ever feeling down. I laugh every. single. time.

– “And the winner is… La La- Moonlight!”: Awards shows spark countless trends and hashtags, but perhaps one of the most unintentionally funny moments was at the Oscars this year when Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, after being handed the wrong envelope- announced that the Best Picture winner was the musical ‘La La Land’. In actuality- it was Barry Jenkins’ ‘Moonlight’ that had taken the top honor. When the correction was made- the awkwardness was cringe-inducing- but the memes that resulted in the aftermath were gold.

– Blake Shelton was PEOPLE’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ for 2017 and a lot of folks had questions: With PEOPLE’s announcement that ‘The Voice’ coach had taken their annual honor of being the sexiest man alive for the next 12 months- the internet did not hold back. The responses of disbelief- and suggestions of other, worthier contenders for the title- came rolling in. Blake has said some pretty offensive stuff in the past- so I didn’t feel too bad laughing at the influx of bewildered tweets that came pouring in.

– Salt Bae and “Blinking White Guy” gave us the .gifs that keep on giving: The concepts were ridiculously simple- a Turkish chef dramatically sprinkling salt on the meat he was preparing- and a relatively unknown, normal looking guy caught on camera blinking in astonishment- but from those two documented moments- countless memes were born. I’ve used the “Blinking White Guy” .gif in response to nearly every news story that has emerged in 2017- and it never gets old.

– ‘Wonder Woman’ prevailed: An origin story about a strong, smart, beautiful female superhero who can hold her own- directed by a talented and brilliant female that shattered box office records? ‘Wonder Woman’ was the movie women and girls everywhere needed. It was action-packed, funny, and entertaining- and spawned countless girls to don the Wonder Woman costume throughout the year. I was awesome- and I can’t wait for the sequel.

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And there it is! 2017- in a nutshell!

To ring in 2018, I’m heading up to Portsmouth, New Hampshire with my best friend for a night of indoor/outdoor activities leading up to the countdown at midnight- and relaxing at a Victorian manor-turned-bed & breakfast in Dover. I’m excited- even though I suspect it’s probably going to be cold out- because I haven’t had a low-key, laid-back New Year’s Eve celebration in a long time and I think it’s the perfect way to transition from 2017 into the new year.

And, like most people- I’ve made a list of Resolutions for myself for 2018. Attainable, feasible goals I know I can accomplish if I push myself, stay motivated, and don’t allow myself to get discouraged and/or give up!

Get Healthier/Get Into Better Shape – The obligatory resolution that I think makes everyones list year after year- but it’s always a good one to have. The holiday season (and all the desserts that come with it) made for a somewhat gluttonous end to 2017- so in 2018 I want to get back on track and eat better, exercise more, and get into bikini-bod shape so that I’m ready for the Spring and Summer of 2018 to roll around!

Nurture Myself – An update to my “Treat Yo’Self 2017” mantra. In 2018 I want to focus on getting plenty of sleep, drinking more water, taking better care of my skin and my hair and not overworking myself as I tend to do now and then. I want to put aside “me” time at least once or twice a week where I can relax, zone out, meditate, get a massage- and otherwise just recharge my batteries so I don’t get burnt out.

De-Clutter EVERYTHING – I’m a bit of a neat freak, but there are certain areas of my life and living space that need a major overhaul on organizing. My bedroom, my garage, and my office space come to mind almost immediately. I’ve already taken small steps between Black Friday and Christmas by de-cluttering my inbox of spam e-mails and promotions I never use- but now it’s time to work towards throwing out old paperwork, donating old clothes to charity, stripping and re-painting my walls, etc.

Budget Better – Near the end of 2017 I unsubscribed from a lot of paid services I was being charged for monthly- like streaming services, subscription boxes, etc. that I was no longer using as much in order to keep more money in my pocket for travel and leisure. Now, in 2018- I want to monitor my spending habits more carefully and stop any unnecessary or frivolous impulse purchases. This resolution is so that I can grow as a person and finally (and successfully) budget in the splurge on a home in Nevada.

Travel More – I know budgeting and traveling don’t exactly go hand-in-hand, but there are a lot of resources and many ways to take a trip without breaking the bank these days. You just have to know where to look. Even if it’s keeping it local and in the New England area- I still want to get out there and see it all- although I’m hoping I can make it down to New Orleans and/or Nashville at some point this year!

And I think that’s everything. This entire year that was and hopes for the upcoming year that will be packaged up into one (very lengthy) post!

I hope you all have a safe, fun, thrilling- and warm– New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I’ll be sending you all a kiss at midnight and good vibes for the future! Here’s to seeing 2017 off in style and to 2018 being a better year for all of us!

See you all in 2018!

xx

– Ashley –

Favorites: December 2017!

Good Morning, everyone- and Happy Friday! Are you all ready for New Year’s Eve? Me, personally? I’m compiling the last of my 2018 resolutions and putting together the final touches on my “Year In Review” post that will be up and running this coming Sunday morning (and it’s a doozy- let me tell ‘ya!)

But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. We’re still in December and I have a few favorites to share from this past month! Some were products that kept me feeling festive, and others were gifts I received around Christmastime- but they all held a special place in my heart over these last few weeks and I know I’ll be enjoying them well into the new year, too!

I’m a big fan of OGX hair care products- which have always worked well for me and always come in the most lovely fragrances- so when I heard they had launched a limited edition, holiday-inspired collaboration with YouTuber Kandee Johnson- I searched high and low to get my hands on some of their conditioners!

I was lucky enough to find them at my local pharmacy and stocked up- but by far my two favorite scents are Frosted Sugar Cookie- which makes my hair smell like a dessert, and Sparkling Cider- which is the perfect mix of apple and cinnamon.

These conditioners leave my hair silky, smooth, frizz-free and moisturized- and I’m going to be so sad when this collection is gone for good!

Winter is absolutely brutal on my skin from head to toe- so I always try to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and apply lotions and moisturizers rigorously- but sometimes I need a little something extra to help out and this month I turned to the Christmas-themed sheet masks from The Crème Shop to give me a healthy glow and an extra boost of vitamins/antioxidants.

Made and manufactured in Korea, these masks are mess-free and have been giving me a beautiful, soft and clear complexion despite the fact that we’ve entered single-digit temperatures outside. I look fresh-faced and feel lovely after each time I use one of these- and I’ll be packing a few of the masks with me when I head to California in a few weeks to keep my skin dewy after takeoff!

Side note: how adorable is the packaging?

I have been coveting metallic lips and eye-looks lately- which I think are especially gorgeous this time of year when there’s snow and frost everywhere. This rosy pink, metallic-sheen lip liner and gloss set that I picked up from Primark for $4.50 (seriously) has quickly become my favorite go-to everyday cosmetic item because it makes my lips POP when I wear them together.

The gloss is long-lasting and non-drying- and the finish is so neat looking. You can see a photo of me wearing it in THIS Instagram pic, in case you’re curious!

I can’t stress enough that Primark is one of the most surprising places to find good-quality and inexpensive makeup!

I recently ripped the inside of my pineapple-printed wallet that I’ve had for the last couple of years- and I was pretty bummed out about it- but this past Christmas my oldest brother and his wife surprised me with a brand new, navy blue Kate Spade wallet as a gift- and it is a fine replacement that matches my handbag, wardrobe, etc.

I’m a big fan of Kate Spade products since they’re well-made and durable- and this wallet holds everything I switched over from my old one- and then some!

And finally- courtesy of my other big brother and his wife- this Pennywise (the Tim Curry version!) FUNKO Figurine absolutely cracked me up on Christmas Eve when I opened it.

Although the made-for-TV-movie isn’t exactly the best or scariest adaption of the book- it’s still a classic- and I’m excited to put this guy up on my wall alongside my Walking Dead and Captain America figurines!

But that’s not all! A few other things made my Favorites list this month, too!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” – I know opinions on the latest installment in the Star Wars franchise are divided, but I personally liked the film. To me, TLJ is aiming the plot and the characters in an exciting, new direction where anything (and the unexpected) is possible while still incorporating the most important and cherished plot-points/characters from the original. I’m looking forward to whatever comes next!

“The Disaster Artist” – Anyone who knows me knows how much I LOVE the best-worst-movie ever made, ‘The Room’- and I try to catch the midnight screenings around the city with my friends as much as possible. That being said, this movie is James Franco’s finest work. Inspired by the book that detailed the making of the movie from the point-of-view of one of it’s stars- ‘The Disaster Artist’ is interesting, funny, and even sweet at times. It’s definitely worth a watch if you’ve ever enjoyed ‘The Room’!

– GAMES/APPS –

TILE – Probably known more for their heartwarming, ugly-cry inducing commercial where a lost stuffed panda wanders an unknown city looking for it’s owner (the most adorable of little girls)TILE is actually a pretty neat, handheld tracking device that you can sync up to your Bluetooth to help you locate missing keys, phones, etc. The company was kind enough to send me one of their devices earlier this month- which has since found a permanent home on my car keys since I’m prone to misplacing them!

And I think that’s everything for December 2017! I’m looking forward to sharing my memories of this past year that was before the ball drops at midnight and we welcome 2018- but for now- I’m off to enjoy my Friday!

xx

– Ashley –

My 10 Favorite Photos From 2017

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone! I hope those of you who celebrated Christmas had a wonderful, relaxing and fun weekend surrounded by loved ones. My holiday was lovely, spent mostly with my family and a few friends- and we actually had our first white Christmas in years- having been buried under a few inches of snow overnight on Christmas Eve!

As 2017 winds down and we prepare to welcome 2018- one of my favorite year-end traditions is looking through all of my photos over the past few months and narrowing them down to create a “Top Ten” of the year- and while the task has been relatively easy in the past- 2017’s collection proved to be a little more daunting. I visited so many amazing places this year, met so many amazing people, and participated in so many amazing things- that picking only ten photos from such an extensive collection of memories was a lot harder than I thought it’d be!

I digress- I’m satisfied with my top ten- and each photo tells it’s own fun story about a place/time from this past year. Stories I’m excited to share again!

Here are my 10 Favorite Photos From 2017!

10. Tranquility in Vermont (Wilmington – September 2017):

Over Labor Day Weekend, my best friend Sean and I decided to use our time off to head up towards Wilmington, Vermont to spend the extended weekend hiking, antiquing, and relaxing at an old mansion-turned-bed & breakfast and neighboring ski resort (that still had plenty to offer in the off-season!) On our last day, while going for an impromptu hike- we came across a footbridge that crossed over a river- and I snapped this photo of the view with my cell phone.

I’d love to go back to Wilmington and re-visit this spot during the Winter to see how much different it looks covered in snow.

9. Where is Spring? (Boston – March 2017):

In contrast, this photo I snapped of an empty outdoor patio area on St. Patrick’s Day in Boston painted the picture of what was undeniably one of the coldest days of the year. Blocks away, people were still lining up to get into pubs and bars to drink (and warm up)– but I was the only person as far as the eye could see in this small section of the city.

I’d ducked into the walkway of this cafe/restaurant- which was closed for the holiday- to answer a text message without taking up the sidewalk- and thought it was too neat-looking NOT to photograph.

8. That’s not creepy at all… (Medfield – October 2017):

During one of our annual stops at Medfield State Hospital in the days leading up to Halloween, my friends and I discovered that the fronts of some of the abandoned buildings and wards had been decorated with Jack-O-Lanterns that were carved by a Boy Scout Troop who had planned an overnight camping trip on the grounds.

What had been a fun and festive activity ended up creating some pretty interesting and spooky photos for those of us who were visiting! This one was my favorite out of the bunch of pictures we took that day.

7. Neighborhood Watch (Boston – May 2017):

After spending most of the morning and afternoon with my own mom on Mother’s Day- I dedicated a good portion of my evening to my fur-baby, Oliver, where we participated in his favorite pastime- watching the neighborhood from the window and howling at any other person/animal that happened to walk by (our neighbors love us.)

My mother took this photo of us mid-spying on the UPS guy who was delivering packages across the street from my place- and I loved the way it turned out.

6. Stacked Rocks and Seagulls (Hampton Beach – July 2017):

While cruising the coast in New Hampshire this past Summer, I had made an impromptu pit stop along the shore to stretch my legs and soak up some sun when I stumbled across an entire section of the beach that was lined with stacked rock formations from prior visitors. I had my camera with me, and spent some time snapping some photos of them (a few of which were really tall and impressive!) when this seagull flew into one of my shots and refused to move.

I think he adds a little charm to the photo, don’t you?

5. “Hiya, Georgie!” (Worcester – October 2017):

Out of all the movies I saw this year, I think the remake of “IT” was my favorite- so much in fact that I went as the ill-fated Georgie for Halloween. What was probably my least expensive and easiest costume to make in all my years of cosplaying ended up being one of my most popular- with people stopping me to take photos while I was out and about in this (and keeping one arm tucked up into the sleeve to give me a “just bitten” look.)

I had so much fun wearing this throughout Halloween and I hope I get the opportunity to sport it again!

4. First Snow of The Season (Belchertown – December 2017):

One of the more recent photos on this list came from a couple of weeks ago following the first significant snowfall of the season while I was in Western Massachusetts. I had stopped to take some photos along a popular hiking/biking trail by a local reservoir and found that I was the only person there- which made for some really nice, uninterrupted quiet time to stop and take in the scenery and being able to take some decent photos without having to wait for my surroundings to be clear of people or vehicles.

This photo in particular was my favorite out of the bunch.

3. I got Catfished (Worcester – May 2017):

While attending a film festival/competition at my favorite bar in my hometown one weekend back in the Spring- I had a fangirl moment when Nev and Max from MTV’s ‘Catfish’ (one of my favorite shows) showed up unexpectedly. It turns out they were filming an episode locally, and had taken a break from production to come check out the festival, too.

They were incredibly nice and obliged me when I asked for a photo- which at first I was going to just send to my mom since she’s also a big fan of the show- but eventually posted on my social media to show that they were really who they said they were online.

2. My Aesthetic (San Diego – May 2017):

While visiting with friends on the West Coast during the Spring, I found myself at Ocean Beach in San Diego during some of my downtime one afternoon where I drank cold beers and sat by the surf with artists and musicians who told me their life stories and played music for me.

One group of happy travelers arrived in a bright blue VW Bus- a vehicle I’ve ALWAYS wanted to own- and the photo I took of it perfectly captures a lot of what I love most about Southern California- including the palm trees towering in the background.

1. Vegas, Baby… (May 2017):

It’s been a tough year for Vegas- for people I love in a city and landscape I adore- so this photo, taken during a West Coast excursion in the Spring- seems especially poignant given recent events this year.

After spending the afternoon attending open houses for real estate that was on the market outside of the strip, and a good portion of my evening drinking and gambling a little- I snapped this photo with my phone while I was en route back to Caesar’s Palace- where I was staying during my trip. The fountains at the Bellagio were right in the middle of going off (bottom, right-hand corner) which added a little something special to this.

It was a warm and beautiful night- and I remember feeling perfectly content and safe.

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And there they are! My ten favorite photos from 2017. A lot of landscapes and a couple of selfies- but they all tell stories about really fun high-points of my year- and I’m looking forward to documenting more incredible memories in 2018.

And if you have photos you’d like to share about special moments in your year- feel free to send them my way! I’d love to see them!

Have a great day, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

OOTD: … And a Happy New Year!

Good Morning, everyone! I’m getting ready to pop by my job to send some last-minute e-mails and participate in what will be day 3 of “Office-Holiday-Hijinks” (today is cookie swap and cocoa day!) before I break for a long, extended Christmas weekend to spend time with my family and friends while delivering the last of the gifts I’ve put together, drinking almond milk eggnog, and preparing to watch “A Christmas Story” over and over in a nice, cozy pair of flannel pajamas.

This coming weekend also marks both my mother and my older brother’s birthdays- so there’s going to be a lot of cake and Chinese food involved in the next couple of days too, I’m sure.

For most of this week I’ve been dressing festive- including but not limited to Rudolph leggings, snowball-inspired sweaters and Santa socks- but one of my favorite ensembles I’ve gotten to wear at a recent Holiday party was my ‘Home Alone’ knitted sweater (which I’ve had for a few years now) with a comfortable pair of black jeggings- and this light-up Christmas light necklace I picked up at a local dollar store. It has a couple of different settings that make it blink at various speeds, too!

While I was sporting this outfit in Back Bay, I actually had people coming up to me to ask where I had purchased parts of it. The sweater is easy enough to find at most online shops- and comes in a ton of different colors, too!

And of course, I couldn’t resist posing for some photos in front of the beautiful display that was set up in the front corridor of the Prudential Center while I had this on. That wreath hanging from the ceiling was gorgeous!

Also, if you don’t think the lights on the necklace look bright enough- may I present Exhibit A?

There I am outside- getting ready to go find my car. That necklace pretty much lit my way the entire walk! Not bad for a buck!

Alright- I’ve got to wrap things up at work before I head out to kick-start my holiday. For everyone who celebrates it- I hope you all have a wonderful, beautiful, warm and cozy Christmas surrounded by good food, good friends, and family. I hope you all stay safe if you’re traveling- and stress-free if you’re keeping your celebration local this year. I hope any gifts you’re giving are loved, and cherished by whoever is receiving them- and I hope you all get something that surprises and delights you, too!

I also hope none of you get coal or a fruit cake or anything like that.

I’ll be back to blogging next week- where I’ll be wrapping up 2017 to the best of my abilities before we usher in 2018. I’m so excited to look back on these past 12 months!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

xx

Ashley

Christmas in The Country…

Good Morning! The blogging schedule is going to be a bit off this week, what with the upcoming Christmas (long) weekend. My time over the next few days is going to be divided up between work, holiday parties, visiting with family and delivering gifts to friends across all corners of Massachusetts- so I won’t be able to be online much until it’s time to wrap things up and bid adieu to 2017 in a series of year-end celebration/reflection posts throughout next week leading up to New Year’s Eve!

Some people might think that holiday travel can be daunting- and I’m sure for those who have to fly to multiple destinations- it can be, but I typically drive everywhere- and I love it! I especially enjoy heading out to Western Massachusetts where the scenery is much more rural, old-fashioned, or “rustic”. The old houses, farms, mom & pop shops, bed and breakfasts- and chic little places to stop and eat or hang your hat for a few hours. It’s a breath of fresh air (literally) from the busy, crowded and noisy way of life that comes with city living.

And of course, such a beautiful part of New England never fails to deliver spectacular views when it comes to decorating for the holidays. The photo above was taken in the small town square outside of New Salem, Mass while I was en route (on the back roads, of course!)– heading towards Deerfield this past weekend. It had just snowed a bit, and the lights looked especially beautiful- but beyond the square were rows of barns, churches, and businesses that were all lit up with traditional white lights, tinsel, garland, candles and bows.

If it hadn’t been so cold out- I probably could have walked the streets for hours!

Of course, the city has one thing the country doesn’t- and that’s gigantic Christmas ornaments on the sidewalks- like the one I posed next to on Sunday night after a quick stop at the Prudential Center where I met up with friends for dinner and some shopping!

I’ve got to head into work and prepare for an office lunch with some of my co-workers a little later on this afternoon (and we’re having another party tomorrow!)– but I’ve got another post planned for Thursday morning before I officially break for Christmas.

See you all soon!

xx

– Ashley –