Festival Survival: The Essentials

Festival Survival: The Essentials

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Today is a busy one for me. I’ve got work, meetings, and dinner plans with a friend of mine visiting from outside the country who is here for this coming weekend’s Boston Calling Festival. I’ll be at the show bright and early on Friday- but then it’s off to Washington D.C. on Saturday!

Preparing for a day out in the sun, listening to some great bands and artists got me thinking about ‘Festival Essentials’, though. If you’ve got Instagram, then chances are your feed was being overwhelmed by posts from Coachella this year. Loads of pretty people wearing some seriously impractical outfits (and flower crowns) in the sweltering Indio heat. Sure, it looked great in photos- but how did it feel after a couple of hours? Probably not great, I’d imagine.

Inspired, I came up with some items that I consider to be reasonable and comfortable must-haves when it comes to braving those outdoor Spring/Summer music festivals- and things I’ll personally have on me when I roll into Boston Calling on Friday!

And while I’m sure dressing up in tulle, leather, or suede with lots of fringe is a good time- I’ll be sticking to a breathable pair of cotton shorts and a lightweight t-shirt, thanks! I want to be able to dance!

First and foremost- ditch the wedge sandals or the stilettos and settle on a practical and comfortable pair of sneakers, ankle boots or flats. You’re going to be standing for hours on end- or, if it rains- you’re going to want to keep as much material between your toes and the muddy ground as possible. Think support and think fitted insoles to absorb moisture and to keep the inside of your shoes from getting ruined..

I’ll be sporting this pair of moccasins I bought solely for flying (slip on/off = quicker TSA checkpoint time) and for standing for long periods of time. They’re soft, lined, and cushioned at the bottom- so my feet stay cozy and dry for as long as I have these on!

The second most important thing after reasonable shoes? Sunscreen. The higher the SPF the better. If you’re going to be roasting under the sun for an afternoon while you wait for your favorite band to take the stage- then you need to go all out and protect yourself from damaging UV rays that could cause skin cancer (and/or a seriously painful burn!)

I live for this spray-on SPF50 from Trader Joe’s- which makes applying/re-applying sunscreen during the day a lightweight and mess-free breeze. It’s not greasy or sticky, and doesn’t clog your pores. It just sinks in like water.

Speaking of H20- you need. to. stay. hydrated. I know the idea of spending $14 on a bottle of water is ridiculous (and it truly is)– but dehydration and heat stroke are serious business and need to be prevented at all costs. If security is strict and won’t let you bring your own bottle inside the venue- then splurge on one and seek out options for free re-fills. Some vendors will have a “one time purchase/unlimited refills” policy- so take advantage of it!

I’m not gonna’ sweat shame- because we all do it and it’s nothing to feel gross about- but if you’re looking for a quick and easy refresher to cool yourself off and make yourself smell a little nicer for when you’re huddled in a crowd with hundreds of strangers- then I highly recommend carrying a pack of deodorant wipes with you.

These ones from Pacifica have been a long-time favorite of mine. They smell crisp, clean and a little tropical- but they also soften and hydrate your underarm area so that you feel even more refreshed and are more inclined to throw your arms up during that one song you really, really like.

I, frankly, don’t have the time or the patience to apply a full face of makeup that I’m going to sweat off right away- so I keep it simple when I’m headed to a festival. A tinted moisturizer with sunscreen mixed in (of course!)– a hydrating lip balm, and a lightweight cream-to-powder eye shadow in a neutral tone to brighten my eye area for when I’m posing for that selfie by the side of the stage is really all I need to get by.

This coconut balm and shimmery beige shadow from Sephora keep me looking glossy (not sweaty) and put together. Add a couple of swipes of waterproof mascara and you’ve got an effortless look that won’t be running down your face by the end of the night.

And it goes without saying- but bring a pair of sunglasses. Even if it’s just to hide your tears when that one band plays that song that reminds you of your ex. You’re taking steps to protect your skin during this adventure- so you gotta’ remember to protect those peepers, too!

And when I know that electrical outlets may be scarce- I like to bring a portable charger with me to plug my phone into when it starts losing juice but I need to keep it up and running. This one- from Triple C- is the size of a tube of lipstick and can get my battery life up considerably in under an hour. I just connect it to my phone, tuck the phone into my purse- and let it work it’s magic.

And finally- bring a bag that is big enough to carry everything- but small enough to carry around comfortably. I typically use a small, drawstring backpack, my cross-body bag, or this mid-sized beach tote slung over my shoulder. The magnetic clasp sewn into the inside keeps my belongings secure and doesn’t weigh me down.

I also try to keep a big hat with me to protect my scalp from burning under the sun, too. It’s an area that often gets overlooked while we’re slathering on the SPF on our bodies and faces- but it can burn just as easily, too! This wide-brimmed hat was a purchase from Primark a couple of Summers ago for a beach weekend I had planned with friends- but it’s held up since then- and is still consistently useful!

And those, my lovelies- are my “Festival Essentials”- for a carefree and comfortable day out in the sun with other fans listening to music we love. I’m so excited for Friday!

If you’ve got your own Festival Essentials (I do love a good recommendation!) that you’d like to share- feel free!

But for now, I’m off to get to work. Enjoy your Hump Day, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

Drizzly Days, Royal Weddings and Doughnuts…

Drizzly Days, Royal Weddings and Doughnuts…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

This week is shaping up to be a pretty busy one for me. I have a friend coming into town on Wednesday for a couple of days, Friday is the first day of the Boston Calling Music Festival- and Saturday I’m leaving for a weekend away in Washington D.C. to spend Memorial Day with friends who are flying in for a vacation. Between preparing for all of that and work- I have to make sure I stay on top of things (including getting enough sleep!)

Thankfully this past weekend was pretty laid back, and I was able to get some R&R without wasting the days. The weather, for the most part- was a bit gloomy- so staying indoors and under the comfort of blankets to watch the Royal Wedding bright and early on Saturday morning was nice (and what a beautiful ceremony it was!)

Afterwards, while the guests at Windsor Castle departed to enjoy some lemon elderflower cake at the reception- I decided to enjoy an indulgent treat myself- and braved the chilly temperatures and light drizzle to head to Harvard Square for a doughnut-pop up that was being hosted by Harvest. Although I had missed out on their take on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding cake- I did pick up some of their tasty Strawberry Shortcake, Chocolate Caramel French Cruller and Blueberry Citrus doughnuts, instead.

On Saturday night, after catching up on some e-mails and resting my eyes for a quick refresher- I headed off to Mohegan Sun to meet with friends at the Bow & Arrow Sports Bar to eat some nachos and watch the Celtics and Red Sox (simultaneously.) On a completely unrelated note- how GOOD is Las Vegas’ hockey team? It’s their first season and they have just been dominating lately. It’s going to be so much fun to cheer them on and go to their games when I’m living in the area!

Sorry, I’m getting off track.

Yesterday, after running errands to save myself some time later on this week- I decided to savor the brief break in the rain//fog and soak up the sunshine that had peeked through the clouds up in New Hampshire. I drove along the coast just in time to catch high tide and sat by the water for a couple of hours before grabbing a bite to eat at The Beach Plum and heading home just as the sun started to set.

It was beautiful, peaceful, scenic, and super relaxing.

A little later on this week, I’ve got my trusty “Festival Survival Essentials” to share with you all in preparation for Boston Calling (hint- there’s a lot of sunscreen)– and on Friday- I’m giving everyone access to a playlist I’ve been gradually piecing together to help those of you looking for some new tunes for the Summertime to kick things off during the impending long weekend.

I’m so excited for the coming days and to share my adventures along the way. Be sure to peep my Instagram for the shots I snap while I’m out and about.

Until then, though- let’s power through this Monday and get it out of the way!

xx

– Ashley –

“An End Has a Start…”

“An End Has a Start…”

The first time I ever saw Editors live, it was a complete accident.

Well, let me back up a bit- because the word “accident” implies a bad or tragic outcome- and the experience was anything but.

It was 2007, and I was in San Diego (one of my first visits!)– not only for a little vacation but to party at Street Scene San Diego- an outdoor music festival that used to take place annually around the city. I had friends from different bands (and their crews) on the lineup- making it one of the largest gatherings ever of people I knew and cared about in one location/setting. Considering how many hectic schedules people had at any given time- something like that rarely happens! Arctic Monkeys, The Killers, Louis XIV etc. Everywhere I turned was a friendly and familiar face, a big hug- and a cold beer.

At one point, while looking for a place to charge my phone- I happened to catch a voice singing from the stage that reminded me of both Paul Banks from Interpol and the late, great Ian Curtis from Joy Division- and immediately hurried over by the performance area to see who it was.

It was Editors- and two minutes into their set- I completely forgot about charging my phone all together.

From that moment on I was a fan- and dove headfirst into their discography (both past and future albums that were released)– but I kept missing them on their tours whenever they’d stop in Boston. One of their last shows in the city, circa 2008/2009- saw them bring a friend’s band on the road with them as an opening act. I was so excited to see them again- but ended up getting a little too drunk with said friend after their opening set and missed Editors entirely.

With a new (and fantastic!) album out earlier this year- the band is currently on their North American tour- and on Wednesday night they made a stop in Boston at our famous Paradise Rock Club. It’s definitely my favorite venue in the city- because there’s not a single bad spot to watch the stage from anywhere in the building- and the sound quality is perfect.

It’s been over ten years since I’d last seen them live, but they were just as great- if not better- than they were on that stifling hot day in San Diego way back when. I was completely blown away and absolutely captivated.

Editors’ sixth album, ‘Violence’, is out now- and I highly recommend giving it a listen and seeing them live if you can. They put on an amazing, energetic, passionate performance. It’s been almost 48 hours since the show and I’ve still got goosebumps!

I’ve got a lot to do today at work, and should probably get to it- but I’m rewarding myself for a busy and productive week with post-office burgers tonight with one of my co-workers. My mouth is watering already!

Here’s hoping you all have an incredible weekend. For those of you who are participating in Royal Wedding-themed fun (guilty as charged)– I can’t wait to see your photos!

Enjoy your Friday, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

Backyard BBQ Recipes: Crispy Baked Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw

Good Morning and Happy Hump Day, everyone!

Yesterday was a bit strange around here- with severe thunderstorms sweeping through the state well into the evening. We even had a tornado watch in effect for a few hours- but thankfully nothing came of it apart from some slightly terrifying lightning and a bit of rain/hail. Just another late-Spring-early-Summer day here in New England, really!

Tonight I’ll be heading to the Paradise Rock Club over on Comm Ave to catch a set by Editors (who I haven’t seen in years!)- but before I power through my work day and get over to the venue- I wanted to share a recipe my mom and I whipped up this past Sunday while we were spending Mother’s Day together.

I’m a big fan of tacos- any kind, really- and experimenting with different flavor combinations is something I really enjoy when I’m making my own at home for myself or guests. I also love seafood- so street-style fish tacos are pretty much a win/win. Add some red cabbage cole slaw and a twist of lemon and/or lime? You’ve got a delicious lunch to serve at your next cookout!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

FOR THE FISH:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons store-bought taco seasoning
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1¾ pounds tilapia, cut into 1½-inch-wide strips

FOR THE CABBAGE SLAW:

  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 2 carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime (for these tacos, I used a lemon, instead!)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE TACOS:

  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 12 tortillas
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime (again, I used a lemon, instead!)
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. MAKE THE CRISPY BAKED FISH: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it generously with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk the eggs. In another wide, shallow bowl, whisk the flour with the taco seasoning to combine.
  3. Working in batches, dip the fish into the egg and then into the flour mixture, tossing well to coat. Place the breaded fish on the baking sheet. Repeat until all the strips are breaded. Spray the top of the fish with nonstick cooking spray.
  4. Bake the fish until they are golden brown and very crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. Flip the fish with a spatula halfway through cooking to brown on both sides. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  5. MAKE THE CABBAGE SLAW: In a large bowl, toss the red cabbage with the green cabbage, carrots, red onion, jalapeño, lime zest, lime juice, rice vinegar and olive oil to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  6. MAKE THE TACOS: In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream with the lime zest and lime juice to combine. Set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, place 2 or 3 tortillas in the pan and heat until lightly browned on both sides, 1 minute per side. Repeat until all tortillas are toasted.
  7. To serve, place 3 tortillas on each plate, and fill each tortilla with 1 or 2 pieces of fish. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of slaw on top of each taco and drizzle each taco with 1 to 2 teaspoons of the sour cream. Garnish each plate with 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves.

I actually served the minced jalapeño separately so that my mom would be able to control the amount of hot and spicy on her own tacos (she’s very particular!)– and it worked out well! With some sour cream on the side for dunking//drizzling- there were so many amazing flavors incorporated into these- and I’ll definitely be making another batch of them soon!

Here’s to Wednesday being a breeze for all of us. It’s almost the weekend, everyone. Hang in there!

xx

– Ashley –

OOTD: Breezy Southern Belle

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone! Time to get back to the grind and get some work done!

I hope all the moms and/or moms-to-be out there had a wonderful Mother’s Day! I spent most of the morning and afternoon with my mom- savoring the sunshine, cooking a delicious, homemade brunch together (the recipe for our main course will be up on the blog in a couple of days!) and doing a little bit of shopping for some plants/flowers for her garden- as well as some furniture and decor for a few renovations she has planned for her house this Summer.

My mom is very much the DIY, HGTV-obsessed type- always coming up with new projects to keep her home and lawn looking immaculate and cutting edge- so it was a lot of fun to just watch her in her element and jot down some pointers she had for me as we went about our day together.

Since our plans weren’t anything particularly fancy and I am all about comfort this time of year- I wore this lovely, lightweight gauze maxi dress I picked up a few weeks ago with laid-back weekends in mind. Something about this dress gives me a Southern Belle vibe. Not like Scarlett O’Hara- but I could envision myself strolling through a picturesque town in South Carolina during the Summer in this (it should be mentioned that I also recently watched ‘The Notebook’ for the first time in forever so that scenery is still fresh in my mind…)

The great thing about maxi dresses is that you can wear flats, sandals, wedges or heels with them and it always looks good. Yesterday I opted for these woven strap heels to give me a little boost of height and improve my posture- and topped things off with an over-sized hat I had originally bought a couple of Summers ago for the beach. Add some colorful bracelets and rings with aqua and orange tones and you have a perfect look for a lovely Spring Day!

But now I’ve got to get to work. Monday morning obligations and whatnot- and I haven’t even had my coffee yet!

Here’s hoping you all have an easy and stress-free week!

xx

– Ashley –