Fright Fest

Ugh. Is it Monday already? I’ve been going non-stop since I left my office on Friday afternoon and it feels like I didn’t get enough time to take a break and actually get some rest. I’m not complaining much, of course- since my weekend was a lot of fun- but I fully plan on falling into my bed when I get home later on!

Where do I begin? With the exception of a beautiful wedding reception I attended with a friend/co-worker at the 228 in Sterling, Massachusetts- which is a big barn tucked away outside the city that has been converted and renovated into a lovely function hall- my weekend was all Halloween and horror movies.

On Friday night, with plenty of blankets, cushions and snacks in hand- a group of my friends and I headed out to Rocky Woods Reservation in Medfield, MA. to catch a lake-side, outdoor double-feature screening of “Friday the 13th – Part 2” and “Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood” (my favorite). While it definitely got a bit cold outside- the weather held up nicely and remained clear- so it wasn’t unbearable. There were a lot of other people there, too- and it was so much fun laughing together at the cheesy gore and bad 1980s fashions while enjoying a couple of hard ciders and some popcorn.

There were a couple of different versions of Jason Vorhees running around the place, too- and while I managed to avoid them for most of the night- one caught me on my way out after the movies wrapped up and I was heading back to my car.

Big shout-out to the Coolidge Corner Theatre for putting together the event and for Lookout Farm Brewing for the really delicious cider. I can’t wait to check out their taproom soon to scope what else they have to offer on their menu.

I also made it a point to swing by the annual Rock and Shock Convention in my hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts for a little while. Focused primarily on the horror genre, the convention- which occurs at the DCU Center downtown every October- features loads of interesting panels, surprise guests, live music and local vendors dedicated to all things spooky and scary. This year, much to my surprise and delight- I ran into Tom Payne- who plays Jesus on “The Walking Dead”. Jesus is one of my favorite characters in the comic and on the show- so snapping a photo together absolutely made the trip worth it for me.

He’s just as pretty in person as he is on television, folks! He was a sweetheart.

While I was at Rock and Shock, I popped by a couple of vendors to splurge on myself a little, too. My first buy was at the booth for Fiona’s Fright Soap– where I picked up a set of three detergent and paraben-free body soaps. One, a “Mummy” themed bar that smells like oatmeal. Another, a “Friday the 13th” themed bar that has a more fruity fragrance- and a third one inspired by Eleven in “Stranger Things” that smells like, you guessed it- waffles and maple syrup.

I’m so excited to use these!

I also picked up this awesome steel Ouija pendant necklace from a large booth in the center of the vendor area- and I apologize for not getting their company’s name since it appeared they were sharing space with about 2-3 other shops at the time. I saw this and knew I had to have it- even if it means spirits could potentially communicate with me through my neck when I’m wearing it. It has a wood detail that I am just in love with!

Overall, I had a really great weekend- and even though being back at work is a little bit of a bummer- I have more fun stuff planned this coming week (and weekend!) that I’m pushing towards!

And all that being said- I’ve got to kick into overdrive and get some stuff done today. Enjoy the beginning of your week, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

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Ghost Hunting…

Happy Friday the 13th, everyone! For those of you who are superstitious- be extra careful while you’re out and about today! As for me? Well, after work- I’ll be heading out with friends to catch honorary screenings of the first two “Friday the 13th” movies at Rocky Woods Reservation in Medfield.

Speaking of Medfield, by the way…

One of my favorite places to visit in Massachusetts (and it’s only about 45 minutes away from me)– is Medfield State Hospital- a long abandoned former mental institution that was first opened in 1892 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. Although the interiors of the numerous buildings spread out across the area are off limits due to asbestos and hazardous conditions after decades without routine maintenance, the grounds are still open to the public for those looking for a unique place to go hiking, biking, or- as my most recent OOTD post proves- want a semi-creepy backdrop for photos.

I’ve gone up to the grounds countless times over the years, and I’ve found that this time of the year is usually when it’s the best to visit- and not just because the place is pretty spooky- but because it’s not too hot (or too cold!) to be spending a significant amount of time outdoors, and even though much of the area is overgrown- the bugs aren’t nearly as distracting as they are during May or June, for example.

Usually when I’m visiting- I’m the only one there. On a couple of occasions I’ve been one of maybe a handful of visitors- but Medfield State Hospital is almost always eerily quiet- so imagine my surprise when I went up to take a look around with friends this past weekend and was greeted by an entire Boy Scout Troop who were camping on the grounds overnight as part of a Halloween-themed excursion.

(Side Note: That’s actually an insanely cool idea and I wish I’d thought of it!)

The kids were very sweet and were thankfully respectful of the buildings. Although they were all running around during the entirety of our stay- not once did I see them doing anything potentially dangerous or destructive. They actually carved Jack-o-Lanterns to place on the exterior steps to a few of the former wards and administrative buildings- which added a little something extra in a few of my pictures. It was pretty cool.

There are security personnel on-site 24/7 who do occasional drive-bys to monitor the property- and even they seemed excited about the appearance of a few unexpected pumpkins scattered around.

If you’re ever in New England- this is definitely a neat place to drop by. Just make sure you bring a comfortable pair of walking shoes and a fully charged camera/phone with you!

And now, it’s time to get some work done. Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

OOTD: Witchy Woman

I’ve owned this little black, back-less dress since high school- where I first wore it to a Honor Society dinner and caused quite a commotion when some of the teachers in attendance (and a few of my more conservative peers) thought that the cut of it was a little too risque for a formal event. At the time- I was offered a cardigan to cover up with.

It still fits perfectly, but since then- I typically only wear this out and about around Halloween- since it has a bit of a “witchy” vibe to it. Sure, a lot of it may be because of the way that I dress it up with black leggings/tights, knee-high boots, my go-to wide-brimmed hat and a piece of spooky statement jewelry- but I think the way the fitted bodice transforms into layers of tulle cut at different lengths has something to do with it, too. There’s just something about the silhouette this gives me that makes me feel like I just stepped out of a scene from “The Craft”.

And I always show off my back in it. No more cardigans for me!

For not having usual straps (the ones on this little number wrap around my shoulders at the most peculiar angle and in the oddest way)– this dress is still pretty comfortable. It’s been warm and humid outside in recent weeks- so it was nice to have something so light and breezy to walk around in, like during this past weekend while I was out with some friends and taking some photographs up at my favorite haunt- pun intended- Medfield State Hospital. The eerie scenery had me feeling especially festive.

And for that aforementioned spooky statement jewelry? I knew right away I wanted to wear my blackened steel Edgar Allan Poe pendant necklace from Fable and Fury– a gift from years ago that I still absolutely love and wear all the time throughout the month of October. Paired with a oxblood red lipstick and a smoldering smoky eye? You’ve got a bewitching look that can be pulled off effortlessly during post-office cocktails AND that Halloween party you were invited to and forgot about until the last possible second.

I’m so ready to rock this again this coming weekend- but I’ve got a few more tricks (and treats) in my closet that I’m just DYING to share, too!

Okay, I’ll stop with the bad Halloween puns. I promise.

We’re almost near the weekend, everyone! Hang in there!

xx

– Ashley –

October Sky

Good almost-afternoon, everyone (I slept a little late today!) I can’t believe my vacation is coming to an end and tomorrow morning I’ll be back at work bright and early- ready to play catch-up on all the calls and e-mails I’ve missed while I was taking a much-needed break. As anxiety-inducing as that thought can be- I’m looking forward to seeing my co-workers again and being productive- especially since I’ve been pretty lazy these past few days!

While today will consist of keeping out of the rain, binge-watching some TV shows I’ve fallen behind on, baking cookies (and maybe enjoying a bubble bath!), I spent most of my vacation outdoors- hiking trails in places like Sudbury, Medfield, Concord and Rutland- just to name a few. The weather has been a bit unpredictable lately- some days were overly humid and sticky while others were more cool and refreshing- but regardless of the temperatures, the leaves in my section of New England have pretty much reached their peak color for the season- so to say I’ve had the best views during my days off is an understatement!

Here’s a small gallery of some of my favorite photos I snapped along the trails:

Fall in Massachusetts really is something you have to experience for yourself. The photos (and even my descriptions of how wonderful it is) simply don’t do it enough justice. It has to be witnessed first-hand for the beauty and the magic to really make sense- especially to those who aren’t from around here.

With Halloween approaching, I have a few “scarier” events coming up with my friends over the course of the next couple of weeks that I can’t wait to post about- and I’ve been actively putting together my costume for the year- but it was nice to stop and enjoy some simple, pumpkin, foliage & apple cider-filled relaxing days before horror movies, haunted houses and getting doused in fake blood make their long-awaited comeback.

Here’s to a good week!

xx

– Ashley –

Fall Foodie: Mini Mason Jar Apple Pies

Happy Friday, everyone! I’ve been in the midst of a 6-day vacation from work (I’ve been out of the office since Wednesday and I return next Tuesday) just because I needed a break- but before I left- I wanted to make a quick treat for some of my co-workers since we’ve all been busting our asses in recent weeks and I thought it’d be a nice change of pace for a bit. I’d seen a couple of variations of this recipe floating around on social media and Pinterest over the past few days- and finally caved in and tried making my own variation of it. After a quick stop at Michael’s Arts & Crafts to pick up these cute glass mini mason-jars and gathering some apples I had recently picked at a local orchard- I was ready to put my canning/jarring skills to the test.

The recipe below will make 6 jars. I had to double up on everything to accommodate 12 co-workers (excluding myself).

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 baking apples, peeled and chopped (like Honeycrisp, Granny Smith or McIntosh)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 packages store-bought pie dough (4 circles total)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1½ teaspoons turbinado sugar

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Have ready six ¼ pint (½ cup) mason jars on a baking sheet.
  2. In a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apples and sauté until nearly tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the sugar, flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and vanilla extract, and sauté for 2 minutes more. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it is flat and slightly thinner than it originally was. Cut the dough into six 3-inch circles and six 2-inch circles.
  5. Press a 3-inch circle into a mason jar, pressing it firmly to the base and sides and taking care not to poke holes in the dough. Trim any excess from the top edge with a paring knife. Repeat with the remaining 3-inch circles and jars.
  6. Scoop the cooled filling into the pastry-lined jars, mounding it about ½ inch over the top rim.
  7. Place the 2-inch rounds over the filling and tuck the edges under so they meet the edge of the jar. Crimp the edges with your fingers or a fork. Chill the pies for 10 minutes.
  8. While the pies chill, whisk the egg and water together to combine. Brush the egg wash over each pie top, and then sprinkle the top of each with ½ teaspoon turbinado sugar. Cut small vents into the top of each pie with a paring knife.
  9. Bake until the pies are golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

I would like to mention that I didn’t fold over or crimp the tops of the pie crusts to the jars since I didn’t want to risk them getting damaged during transport from my home to the office. Instead, I cooked them separately as individual discs and brought them with me to place on top of the jars as they were being served. For the record- nobody seemed to mind!

These were a big hit with my co-workers, which made me happy- and when I tried one that I had made for myself when I got home after I’d left work for the day/week- I had no complaints! These came out amazing and I think they’re going to be a success when I attempt them again this coming Thanksgiving. I’m actually thinking of trying some different versions, as well- like lemon meringue and key lime pie.

I’m kinda’ craving one right now, actually.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

Viva Las Vegas

Taken earlier this Summer.

On Monday morning, I was planning on sharing some beautiful photographs I had taken over the weekend during a long hike through the forest and a visit to a local pumpkin patch and farmer’s market. Instead, I was woken up by a series of texts and calls from friends in Las Vegas who were making the rounds to let as many people as they could know that they were okay and not to panic. It was pretty early in the morning- earlier than I usually wake up during the week- and I wasn’t sure what was happening until I checked social media on my phone and my heart sank at the news.

59 lives lost and over 500 people injured in what is now, to date, the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. The people I know who live and/or work in the area are all thankfully safe, sound, and unharmed- but it has shaken me to my core that 59 families cannot experience that relief and that hundreds and hundreds of people will never quite be the same again.

I love Las Vegas. Not only because of the people I know there but because it is just a stifling hot, glitzy, kinda’ crazy, non-stop circus and it’s perfect in every way because if you need a break from it all- you can head out to the desert and enjoy the calm- and everything will still be waiting for you when you head back to the strip- just as bright and as busy as ever. The only other place I can think of that is like that is NYC- but at least Vegas doesn’t get snow.

Vegas is where I plan to relocate. It holds a special place in my heart.

I digress. I try not to get too political on Blondie Birdie- since I’ve stated in the past that this is my escape from the harsh realities of the world and I want to keep it as lighthearted as possible- but enough is enough. How many more people have to die? How many more families have to be ripped apart and how many more friendships have to be altered forever because we, as a Nation, cannot get it together when it comes to proper gun control?

I am by no means saying that I want SWAT teams going door to door and seizing everyone’s guns- and I get that’s a popular misconception when talking about enforcing stricter gun control laws and regulations- but there is absolutely no legitimate reason why people should have access to military style, semi-automatic weapons and to be able to stock pile ammunition. I don’t understand how people fail to comprehend how utterly insane that is. You don’t need an AK-47 to go hunting and you certainly don’t need to fire 100 bullets in under 30 seconds to protect your home or your family. Those weapons are designed for one thing and one thing only- killing as many targets as possible in the shortest amount of time. They serve NO other purpose apart from that.

The Second Amendment was written when muskets were still a thing. Muskets. The gun that takes practically 45 minutes to load and another several to fire properly- and it was first enforced during a time in our history when having the hiccups could kill you. Isn’t it time we update those things- even if it’s just a little bit- to fit in with our current day and age?

The most common argument (that I’ve seen, anyway) to that suggestion is “well, people will just get them illegally anyway-” and sure- that’s very much a possibility- but that’s like saying “well, there’s a million other ways I could get cancer so I’m just going to keep smoking.” Wouldn’t you want to at least TRY to lessen your chances of death and destruction by restricting access to a thing that could potentially kill you? Wouldn’t you want that for your loved ones?

Like universal healthcare, so many other countries have figured out gun control and have not suffered loss, after loss, after loss, after loss, etc. the way that we have here in the United States. Isn’t it time we join the rest of the world’s example and become a country that takes the necessary actions to protect it’s citizens from harm? Can’t we all tell our leaders that we want to be able to go to school, or work, or church, or a movie theater, or a concert- and NOT risk our lives every time we do?

Sandy Hook should have been the wake up call. Small children being slaughtered in their classrooms should have been the final straw. Why is this still happening?

I’m just tired. I’m tired of awful things happening to innocent people and nobody doing a damned thing about it. I’m tired of “thoughts and prayers” when they have solved nothing in the aftermath of each of these tragedies. I’m tired of watching coverage of people describing their lost loved ones as they fight back tears.

I guess that most of all- I’m tired that this will be the worst mass shooting in U.S. history until the next one, and then the next one, and then the next one- because we are failing to act, and ultimately- we are failing each other.

I’m sorry for this. I’m sorry I had to write this. I hope I’ll never have to write anything like it ever again. I hope that things can finally change in America- because I want to live a nice, long life and be happy- and I want all of you to live nice, long lives and be happy, too.

Hug your loved ones. Be good to each other- and stay safe. I’ll get back to my regularly scheduled blog posts shortly.

xx

– Ashley –

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 –