OOTD: All The Right Cords…

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

I’m coming off of a late night and an early morning after finally catching a screening of “Joker” last night (phenomenal, by the way!) and heading into the office at the crack of dawn as per usual- but I wanted to share a hidden gem I’ve had tucked away in my wardrobe and only recently brought out now that Fall is here and the fabric is making a long overdue comeback!

I know that when many people think of corduroy, they think school uniforms or toddler-sized overalls- but it’s everywhere again (in adult sizes!) and being used in new and fun ways this season- such as pants, blazers, and skirts. This camel-colored, high-waisted mini-skirt is one of my favorites- since it’s comfortable and can be matched up with pretty much anything I have in my closet.

Earlier this week I paired the skirt with a dark red-colored billowy shirt, black knee-high faux-leather boots, and a long black sweater. It gave me a definite “foliage” vibe with the color palette- but I thought I looked chic and very “in” with the Autumn-inspired shades and textures!

If I could find the same style skirt but in an olive green or a chocolate brown color- I’d be all over it!

A little later on this week, I’ll have some more photos from the ever changing scenery in New England (it’s breathtaking!) before we break for the weekend and I head home to stop by “Rock & Shock” for what I think may be the millionth year in a row!

But for now, I’ve got to get some things done around the office and prepare for a dinner date tonight!

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful “Hump Day” ahead! I’ll be back on Friday!

xx

– Ashley –

Paying Respects at Spider Gates…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

When I was a kid, “Spider Gates” (officially called the Friends Cemetery) in Leicester, Massachusetts was strictly off limits- both by parents everywhere and by the local authorities who would frequently bust trespassers or party-goers in the middle of the night.

Established in 1740, the Quaker cemetery- literally hidden in the middle of the woods (you need to hike a ways away from the only nearby road and through the forest to find it) has been the subject of urban legends, ghost stories, and paranormal fascination for years. The stories range anywhere from the somewhat believable (someone had hanged themselves from a tree within the cemetery during the 1800s) to the absolutely ludicrous (the gates actually serve as a passageway to Hell.)

The reality is that Spider Gates- while undoubtedly eerie for sure- is actually a pretty peaceful spot to visit and marvel at it’s pristine condition and practically ancient headstones. As part of my project to share some of the more unusual and spooky locations around where I grew up and am currently residing here on “Blondie Birdie”- I made a point to stop by yesterday afternoon and snap some photos.

I was the only one there at the time, which made the experience all the more surreal.

And no, I didn’t get possessed by any ghosts while I was there. Not that I know of, anyway. You can see some of my photos below. Simply click to enlarge!

“Spider Gates” is open to the public now during daylight hours only- but if you plan on visiting- just make sure you wear comfortable shoes and have some bug spray with you. Just in case!

I’ll have more roadside oddities and local creepy-ness to share a little later on this week- but with it being Monday and my being back at work bright and early this morning, I’ve got lots to get done!

Enjoy your day, everybody!

xx

– Ashley –

Autumn Leaves and Arsenic…

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! I’m so thrilled that we’ve made it to another weekend!

Having been born and raised in Massachusetts, and spending most of my time in and around New England- I’m no stranger to the curiosities and oddities that can be found pretty much anywhere if you’re keeping an eye open. We’re well-known globally for our bizarre, sometimes morbid history, unusual landmarks and creepy (and often rumored to be haunted) locations.

In October, I like to showcase some of those bizarre places/things as it seems fitting given the Halloween spirit. I figured for the 2019 season, I’d start with a notorious headstone in a small, Quaker cemetery about 45 minutes away from my apartment- and yesterday, after wrapping up a half day at work- I ventured out to find it in the little town of Pelham, Massachusetts while I was admiring the foliage!

Nobody is really sure what the mystery illness that claimed Warren Gibbs’ life in 1860 was (back when the common cold would pretty much seal your fate)– but his brother, William, suspected foul play and accused his sister-in-law- Mary- of poisoning Warren with arsenic-tainted oysters.

The result of this suspicion was a pretty brutal headstone William erected for his late brother that flat-out blames Mary for Warren’s death with a poem etched into the front. You may not be able to read it in the photos- but it says:

Died by Arsenic Poison

March 23, 1860 Age 36 years 5 mos 23 days

Think my friends when this you see

How my wife has dealt with me

She in some oysters did prepare

Some poison for my lot and share

Then of the same I did partake

And nature yielded to its fate

Before she my wife became

Mary Felton was her name

Erected by his brother Wm Gibbs

The next time you think you’re being petty about something- ask yourself- am I William Gibbs level of petty? Because if you’re not having murder accusations etched onto the deceased’s headstone- you are not petty at. all. This headstone was next level.

Next week, I’ll be putting another unusual, possibly creepy place in the “Blondie Birdie” spotlight. It’s one of my favorite October traditions!

But until then, I’ve got to get some work done at the office and then prepare for a fun and (hopefully) productive weekend. Here’s wishing you all a fun and safe couple of days ahead!

See everyone again on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –

Fall Foodie: Sea Salt Pumpkin Butter Cups

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

While today would typically be my half-day/work-from-home day at my office- the schedules have rotated for the Fall/Winter and that day has now been delegated to Thursdays. My “Hump Days” will be spent commuting to and working from my office- but that doesn’t mean my posting schedule has to change!

On the contrary- I thought I’d use the mid-work-week mark as an opportunity to share another Autumn-inspired recipe- and a Halloween appropriate one if you’re up to making a bunch of these to either hand out to trick-or-treaters or bring to your next spooky gathering!

These salted pumpkin & peanut butter cups are the ideal candy- a savory mix of sweet and salty, smooth and crunchy. The true trick is eating one and being able to stop yourself from having another (or four.)

Best of all? There’s no baking required!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 2 cups dark chocolate chunks/baking morsels
  • ⅓ cup crunchy peanut butter (you can use almond butter, too!)
  • 3 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Coarse sea salt, for finishing

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Melt dark chocolate (with a stove top or microwave.) Stir with a spoon or spatula until the melted chocolate is smooth.
  2. Line a series of mini cupcake papers on a baking sheet.
  3. In a bowl, combine the ⅓ cup of peanut butter, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and honey.
  4. Place ½ tablespoon of chocolate into the bottom of each of the cupcake papers.
  5. Drop in 1 teaspoon of peanut butter/pumpkin mixture onto the top of the melted chocolate within the cupcake papers. Cover with remaining melted chocolate.
  6. Sprinkle the tops of each mold with coarse sea salt.
  7. Place in refrigerator or freezer until the chocolate hardens.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

For something so small- these cups sure were savory- and a big hit with the family and friends I shared them with!

I love experimenting with Fall flavors- like pumpkin, cinnamon and caramel- so expect a lot more posts like this as the season progresses and I continue to get creative in the kitchen!

But until then, I’ve got to focus on a rather large stack of paperwork on my desk and a full inbox waiting to be tackled before this morning is done.

Enjoy the rest of your day, y’all!

xx

– Ashley –

September 2019: In a Nutshell

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

I’ve never made any attempts to hide or downplay the fact that Autumn is my favorite season and that I enjoy stereotypical “basic” Fall-related activities to the fullest. Apple picking? Pumpkin patches? Leaf peeping? Hay rides and s’mores over bonfires? I’m all about it and I’m not embarrassed or ashamed to admit it.

Needless to say, September through early November is my favorite time of year (after that- Winter, Christmas and coldness tend to take over!) and with this year being my first Fall living in the Pioneer Valley- I’ve been doing my best to make the most of it and indulge in every local Autumnal activity I can.

October is undoubtedly the month/time of year I look forward to the most- but I have to show some love to September, too- especially this past one since it was filled with beauty, travel, good food and time with loved ones!

September started off in true Fall fashion with a visit to the Appleseed County Fair where I got a head start on stocking up on apple cider doughnuts and kettle corn popcorn while browsing local vendors and farm stands. I was so enamored with my time at Red Apple Farm in Phillipston that I returned there a couple of weeks later with my mother and Oliver to partake in our traditional apple and pumpkin picking!

That wasn’t the only tradition I honored in September. My family and I also made our annual pilgrimage to Hampton Beach at the end of the Summer season to shop great deals and chow down on crab cakes, lobster rolls, and savor some fresh squeezed lemonade at their Seafood Festival.

And of course- no early Fall days in New England are complete without a stop at The Big E. I swung by there a couple of weeks ago to grab my favorite fair food (fried Oreos!) and take in the sights and sounds of the best New England restaurants, small businesses and farms had to offer!

And in-between all the travel, taste testing, decorating my place to look like my very own Fall-inspired farmhouse and unpacking my sweaters for the season- I was still able to put together a pretty dreamy Fall playlist, too!

All in all, this past September felt like the perfect way to bid a final farewell to Summer 2019 and usher in the Fall! There’s still a few things on my Autumnal “To-Do” list, of course- but that’s what October is for!

Speaking of- what do I have planned for the coming month ahead? Well, I’d like to photograph the foliage (which usually reaches it’s peak prettiness within the next couple of weeks,) cook up some more Fall-inspired recipes, put together a great Halloween costume and savor all the spookiness that comes with living in Western Massachusetts this time of year! Expect a lot of creepiness and macabre in October! It’s my specialty, after all!

But before I get too ahead of myself- there’s still a few hours of September left to savor- and I’ve got to get some work done at the office.

Enjoy the start of this week, everybody. I’ll be back with a quick, easy and delicious dessert recipe on Wednesday morning!

xx

– Ashley –