Costumes, Pizzas and Promotions…

You’ll Float Too! Oliver and I (kind of) matching. Halloween 2017.

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! I’m two days into my new position at work and so far, so good. I’ve just been focusing on getting my office in order and staying on top of my caseload as best as I can. My new team has been very welcoming, friendly and helpful so far- and I’m so grateful to them for it!

I am, admittedly, still trying to get out of the Halloween state of mind. It’s tricky, what with having a ton of leftover candy from Trick-Or-Treating the other night and horror movie marathons still going on at local theaters and on television- but I’m doing my best to prepare for Thanksgiving and the last days of Fall. This weekend, I’ll be going hiking with a group of my friends while the not-too-cold-weather holds up- and trying my hand at a couple of recipes I’m hoping will be a smash at the holiday get togethers my family and friends have planned in the coming weeks.

I had said I had two Halloween costumes this year, and my Georgie from ‘IT’ was undoubtedly the universal favorite- but I also went as part of a group costume at work where we all dressed as “Social (Media) Butterflies” that represented different social media apps- and of course I went as Tinder- because why wouldn’t I?

Swipe Right!

The costumes were creative enough to help my team win a company-wide contest- and to celebrate we ordered a bunch of pizzas yesterday and stuffed our faces together. It was worth wearing a scratchy tutu and oversized wings for a couple of hours. We had so much fun!

I’m storing my costume materials away until Halloween 2018 (or until the occasion to wear them again before then arises!) but I’m hoping we can hold onto our championship next Halloween should we all participate again.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I’m going to head off to get my work done so I can get a head start on my Friday night plans!

xx

– Ashley –

Advertisements

October 2017: In a Nutshell

The cupcakes I made for work today. The fingers- made out of sugar- are edible!

Good Morning, everybody- and Happy Halloween! Despite an unusual past 24 hours- which saw a freak storm roll through Massachusetts and down trees, power lines, and cause major power outages across the state- it’s one of my favorite holidays and I’m already having a great time. We’re having a themed party (complete with costumes, decorations, and snacks!) at work today- and then tonight I’ll be taking my niece Trick-Or-Treating before we sit down to watch some classic horror movies and enjoy a pizza- my favorite tradition when Halloween falls on a weekday.

It goes without saying that October is probably my most adored month out of the whole year- and this past October was definitely one to remember. I spent a lot of time with my friends visiting new (as well as longtime favorite) haunted-and-horror-themed attractions around the New England area- like the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo, the annual Rock & Shock Convention in Worcester- and checking out a double-feature screening of Friday the 13th movies ON Friday the 13th! I also got to share some more of my favorite seasonal recipes and show off a couple of treasured, “spooky” pieces from my wardrobe.

This past weekend, I was able to finally unveil one of two Halloween costumes I prepared for this year (I’ll be able to show the second one a little later this week after I get some photos in it today!) at my friend Alyssa’s annual Halloween bash where I got to catch up with some old friends for the first time since the Summer. I went as Georgie from “IT”, including the post-Pennywise-inflicted wound and the S.S. Georgie in my other hand. I didn’t expect it to be as big of a hit as it was- but everyone seemed to really, really love it- which made me happy.

And although I had originally made plans to go camping/”glam”ping as well as visit the real town of Sleepy Hollow this past month- my friends’ schedules, and my own schedule- made actually being able to put those plans into motion a little difficult. I’m not fretting too much about it, though- since there’s always November (or December- weather permitting!)– and I had a lot of impromptu fun regardless!

Why was my schedule a little tricky to maneuver around? Well- the big, work-related news from this past month is that I got promoted at my job! I start with a new team in a new area of the company beginning next week- and I’m so excited to get started! I’ve put everything I have into my career, and it’s so thrilling to see my hard work pay off as I advance myself. I’m truly grateful and appreciative and eager to continue challenging myself as I set new goals to work towards.

So, what do I have planned in November (apart from moving my office?)– well, I’ve got a few Thanksgiving recipes to share, some travel days ahead of me before I get too preoccupied with the impending holidays, some colder-weather ensembles I’ve put together to pose in and some miscellaneous reviews of various products I’m putting together to post up here on Blondie Birdie.

But before I jump into that- it’s time to party!

Have a safe and kick-ass Halloween, everyone! I can’t wait to see all of your costumes!

xx

– Ashley –

Favorites: October 2017!

Is it Monday again already? Ew. This past weekend sure flew by quickly! The bright side (there’s always a bright side) is that tomorrow is Halloween, of course- which means we all still have a couple of days left to squeeze in some last minute scares and sweets before we hang up our costumes and usher in November and the impending Holiday Season. I’m a bit overwhelmed just thinking about it already!

Before that, though- I wanted to share some of my favorite products/items/miscellaneous odds and ends that helped to make October the fabulous fright-fest that it was. Most of the things that made the list are silly finds I picked up along the way these past few weeks, while others are some my favorite kinds of entertainment- but all of it holds a special place in my heart when I look back on October of 2017.

Up first are the things I was able to photograph in one place!

A couple of weeks ago, while at the Rock and Shock Horror Convention in my hometown- I picked up one of these ‘Stranger Things’-inspired natural soaps from the booth that had been set up for Fiona’s Fright Soap. This bar in particular smells like a pretty amazing combination of pancakes and maple syrup- and with the second season of ‘Stranger Things’ premiering on Netflix a few days ago (spoiler alert: it’s awesome so far)– it felt like an appropriate time to start using it.

The soap not only makes me smell like a delicious breakfast- but it makes my skin feel really soft and smooth, too. I know this was a limited edition product but I’m hoping Fiona’s eventually makes it a regular item so I can order more of them!

One of my girlfriends, Stef, recently got into canning goods/food with her fiancé- and she’s been kind enough to give me enough food to get me through the zombie apocalypse every time we hang out. Her most recent concoction- and probably my favorite- is this vanilla & whiskey infused apple sauce. She makes it from scratch, air-seals it so it doesn’t go bad- and passes it around like Halloween candy- and it’s AMAZING. It tastes like apple pie filling with a little bit of a boozy kick.

I’ve been hounding Stef for the recipe so I can put it up here for everyone to enjoy. That’s a foodie post I’m really, really going to like putting together!

Speaking of food and sweets- one of my favorite things about Halloween is cooking/baking some seriously macabre snacks for my friends and co-workers. I’ve been loving these edible cupcake/cake toppers from Wilton. They make everything so much more funny- and I REALLY love seeing people’s reactions when they realize that they’re edible and bite into them for the first time. It’s priceless.

I’ll be turning to them when I start baking for next Halloween, too! (Side Note: I love the little edible hatchets you can buy as cupcake toppers. A little bit of red icing and you’ve got a sweet, delicious murder-themed dessert!)

With all of my Halloween stuff going on this past month, it was easy to neglect my nails sometimes. Thankfully, Saks Fifth Avenue had my back- and were nice enough to ship this milk chocolate-inspired shade of nail lacquer from Smith and Cult to me. The color (called “Tenderoni”)– which has quickly become my signature hue on my nails, eyes and lips- is going to be perfect for the remainder of the Fall through the Winter.

It’s smooth, long-lasting, and I’ll be posting a swatch of it soon on Instagram!

Finally, this was another find at the Rock and Shock Convention that I’m completely in love with! I’ve been wearing this Ouija pendant necklace non-stop since I got it- since it’s not only seasonally appropriate- but it looks pretty damned cool, too. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments from people who have leaned in close enough to get a good look at it- and I’m thinking I may keep on wearing it even after Halloween is over!

And that is everything I was able to photograph for my October favorites.

Of course, some other things made the list, too!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

“The Walking Dead” – OOOOOH, IT’S BACK, BABY- AND IT FEELS SO GOOD. Although we’re only a couple of episodes into the eighth season of my number one obsession- the pace of the show has been incredible. Rick Grimes is straight up murdering people. Daryl looks like he actually showered for once. Carol remains my flawless Queen- and Ezekiel still won’t break character. It’s everything I hoped for and more and I’m praying this season makes up for all the heartbreak viewers experienced around this time last year!

“Broad City” – On the opposite end of the spectrum, one of my favorite comedies is back and I couldn’t be happier. One of the things I love most (and there’s a lot I love about it) about “Broad City” is that it focuses on common issues for women everywhere- but it does it in a funny, and often touching or poignant way. The most recent episode, where Ilana admits she’s having trouble finding sexual gratification since Election Night while Abbi comes to terms with aging after finding her first grey hair- was some of the best writing I’ve ever seen on the show. I want to be BFFs with those girls.

– GAMES/APPS –

“South Park: The Fractured, But Whole” – I’m a longtime ‘South Park’ fan (it’s social commentary is spot. on.) and the last game that came out, “The Stick of Truth” is one of my favorites. While “Stick of Truth” was like a ‘Lord of The Rings’ parody- “The Fractured, But Whole” is geared towards making fun of the successful string of superhero movies that have come out in recent years. Featuring more predominant characters in the latest seasons- my friends and I have been pretty much dying laughing while we take turns playing this at get-togethers. It’s a riot- and really, really fun!

And I think that’s everything for the month of October. Most of it was Halloween and Horror-related, sure- but it’s the one time of year where it’s universally appropriate! I’m sure I’ll come back around to less gory and scary things come November.

Try to enjoy your Monday, everyone! I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about October 2017 overall before we pass out some candy and kiss this month goodbye!

xx

– Ashley –

OOTD: Crime Scene Couture

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! With Halloween just a few short days away- this weekend is set to be one of my busiest yet! Filled with party-hopping, haunted houses, pumpkin carving, some treat baking and last minute decorating to prepare for Tuesday night’s festivities- I’m going to be moving non-stop over the next 48 hours- and I couldn’t be more excited for it. Halloween is my favorite holiday for a reason, after all!

I’ve been sporting some of my favorite Halloween & Horror-inspired threads and jewelry in recent weeks- and this past week seemed as good a time as any to break out my blood spatter dress from Black Milk Clothing. I picked up this gory number a couple of years ago and it’s become one of my favorite staples to wear to office Halloween parties or when I’m heading out to catch a midnight horror movie marathon with my friends.

The dress is made mostly of polyester, so it’s very comfortable to move around in- and the fabric has a smooth feel and almost shiny appearance at first glance. What makes this dress so fun (to me, anyway!) is that if you look closely enough, you can see the word “HELP” written and bloodied hand prints scattered around the front and back. It’s morbid, for sure- but it always gets people talking whenever I wear it!

It’s been chilly and rainy out these past few days- so I’ve been layering up as much as possible. With this dress, I kept it pretty simple with a pair of black, fleece-lined tights, a faux-leather jacket and black, buckled biker boots. If it were warmer out or if I was wearing this anywhere that I could show some leg- I’d probably pair it with a pair of blood red heels and call it a night.

Add a cherry red lipstick (I’m wearing NARS’ Satin Lip Pencil in Luxembourg in these photos!) and a swipe of black eye liner and I am pretty much ready to go!

This is one of those ensembles I wish I could wear year-round and have it be appropriate- but alas, Halloween is sadly not a monthly occurrence. Instead, I’ve had a lot of fun getting as much usage out of this dress as I can before I have to tuck it away in a storage bin until next October rolls around.

And so, I’ve got to finish up some work for today. Enjoy your weekend, everyone! I’m looking forward to sharing my costumes (yes, I’ve got more than one to wear this year!), my monthly favorites- and my look back and this positively de-FRIGHT-ful October in my posts next week.

See you all then!

xx

– Ashley –

Fall Foodie: Candy Corn Cake

Alright, let’s just get this out of the way- candy corn is actually really gross, you guys.

I don’t know anyone who willingly eats it and it’s always the last ditch resort for those who didn’t buy their candy for Trick-or-Treaters in enough time and just grabbed whatever was left at the store. Even “fresh” candy corn tastes/feels stale- and there’s no way it doesn’t cause permanent damage to your teeth. It’s just a flavorless, chewy nightmare.

BUT the colors are nice- and are quite appropriate for the Fall- so I decided to make a lemon, orange & vanilla bean layered cake inspired by the white, orange and yellow trio that comprise this triangular crime against humanity and decent candy-lovers everywhere. The taste of the cake was considerably better than the candy itself- and it’s pretty easy to whip up if you have a little bit of extra time and a couple of round baking pans to play with!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 3 boxed cake mixes (1 vanilla, 1 orange and 1 lemon. I used Duncan Hines Signature mixes!)
  • 3 cups of water
  • 9 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 containers of your choice of frosting (I used a white buttercream for the one pictured above.)
  • One small bag of candy corn and decorative toppings of your choice. Don’t worry- the candy corn is more than likely going to go in the trash when it’s all said and done.

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350°F for metal and glass pans (325°F for dark or coated pans)
  2. Grease sides and bottoms of pan(s) and flour lightly.
  3. Working box by box- blend the cake mix, 1 cup water, 3 large eggs, and ⅓ cup vegetable oil in a large bowl until mixture is completely moistened.
  4. From there, beat the mixture at a medium speed for approximately 2-3 minutes.
  5. Pour the batter in your pan.
  6. Repeat the process with the remaining two boxes of cake mix- using the same amount of water, eggs and vegetable oil- until all of your batter is smoothly mixed and poured evenly into their separate/respective pans.
  7. Bake the pans in the center of your oven for approximately 22-27 minutes. Be sure your cake layers are cooked through evenly by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake and checking that it comes out clean.
  8. Cool your cakes on a pan/wire rack for about 15 minutes before removing them from their pans.
  9. Your cakes should be layered with vanilla on top, orange in the center, and lemon on the bottom. Be sure to frost each layer before stacking them on top of one another to get them to stick together and not slide around!
  10. Frost your stacked cake and decorate with sprinkles and candy corn.
  11. Take as many photos as needed.
  12. Pick off the candy corn and promptly throw it in the garbage. From there- enjoy the rest of your cake!

While I typically enjoy more citrus-flavored desserts in the Summertime- this was an excellent and festive treat to bake now that Halloween is right around the corner. The vanilla and the orange/lemon zest really paired well together!

I’m actually whipping up a batch of cupcakes using this same recipe (just a different type of pan, of course!) to bring to my company’s Halloween party next week. I’m hoping they are just as big of a hit as this cake was for my friends!

xx

– Ashley –

It’s the Great Pumpkin…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone! I’m still recovering from last night’s season premiere (and 100th episode- if you can believe it!) of ‘The Walking Dead’- so my apologies for any typos in this post and on my social media today- or for falling asleep mid-conversation should anyone run into me at any point throughout this afternoon. I promise I’ll be rested up and normal again by tomorrow!

Apart from gearing up for the return of Rick Grimes & Co. this weekend- I also stopped by Rhode Island this past Saturday night. Specifically, I headed to Roger Williams Park Zoo for their annual “Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular”. I haven’t been in a couple of years due to scheduling conflicts- so it was really nice to be able to go again- especially since the weather was beautiful throughout the weekend!

Featuring over 5,000 intricately carved Jack-O-Lanterns that cover both sides (and above visitors in the trees!) of a long, winding trail through a section of the zoo/wildlife conservatory- this year’s display had a trip through time and/or time-travel theme. Featuring dinosaurs, Ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece, through the Renaissance- and a pretty entertaining walk through the the decades spanning from the 1920s through now- each section included music/sound effects fitting of the time period. There were also vendors along the path (as well as at the entrance/exit of the park) that were selling hot apple cider, kettlecorn popcorn, sweets- and light-up accessories for the kids.

Tickets are pretty cheap and there’s a lot more to do in the area, as well- like the ski-lift style ride that carries passengers over the exhibit (and the park)– and glow-in-the-dark swan boats that circle an adjacent pond just outside the zoo’s perimeter. It’s a really fun, laid-back seasonal activity that is perfect for all ages and has become a “must do” for my friends and I every October.

Below are a few of the photos I snapped along the trail!

The “Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular” runs through November 5th- and prime night tickets (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) have to be ordered in advance online while tickets on Monday-Thursday can be purchased on-site- but I highly recommend going as soon as possible before the pumpkins start getting mushy and lose their shape. Also, you definitely want to go before it gets too cold out to fully enjoy everything!

And now, I’m heading off to get some work done and try to make it through the day without taking a nap under my desk.

Here’s hoping we all power through this week!

xx

– Ashley –

POPSUGAR Must Have Box Review: October 2017

Happy Almost Friday, everyone! I had wanted to publish this post yesterday to stay on my blogging schedule- but no sooner had I sat down on my bed after a very long day at work on Tuesday when I pretty much just fell asleep right then and there and didn’t wake up until it was time to head back to my office again yesterday morning! Gotta’ love those curveballs being sleepy can throw you sometimes.

I digress. I’m excited to share what I received in this month’s POPSUGAR “Must Have” Box. I’ve stated in the past that the Fall boxes are some of my favorites to receive- so when I saw a couple of spoilers for October’s- it couldn’t arrive at my doorstep fast enough!

Funnily enough given Tuesday afternoon/night’s impromptu coma I slipped into- October’s themes/inspirations were pretty fitting: DREAMY, SLUMBER, SLEEP, DE-STRESS, COZY and BEDTIME were the words/ideas this month’s box were shaped around- so consider me ready to dive right into it!

I’ve actually been in need of a new sleep mask since the elastic on my most recent one broke, so this cotton, light-blocking one from Perpetual Shade came just in time. I love how soft and lightweight the fabric is, because it makes it so much more comfortable to sleep in- and the “Dream On” writing across the front is really cute.

I’m sure I’ll snap a selfie with this on soon (of course)!

Keeping up with the eye pampering, I really love under-eye patches- especially when I travel or after a long, exhausting day- so I was thrilled to get a set of 5 overnight gel patches from Patchology in this month’s “Must Have” Box. These patches in particular are supposed to soften, hydrate, smooth and brighten the eye area, which raises the question- can I have one big patch to just cover my entire face in right now?

I love Jack + Lucy products, even though they apparently don’t have an official website which would make it so much more convenient to buy their stuff- but I digress- this black and white striped pillow and blanket duo gives me serious Beetlejuice vibes while keeping me warm and cozy at night. They’re really cute.

I’ve been curling up with these while I binge-watch “The Walking Dead” episodes for the 2,000th time leading up to this weekend’s premiere!

I’ll never say no to a lovely-scented body wash- so this white tea and honeysuckle one from Lollia Life is a welcomed treat in my shower! Loaded with shea butter and avocado oil- this wash not only gets your skin squeaky clean- but it deeply hydrates and leaves a long-lasting and refreshing fragrance, too!

Time for the snacks! POPSUGAR actually included a couple of bonus items in this month’s box, as well- but these double chocolate brownies from Nature’s Bakery were part of the planned collection of items- and they are delicious! Sweetened with natural ingredients, like dates instead of a ton of sugar- these are a guilt-free treat I can enjoy at work or on-the-go!

So the first bonus item in this month’s “Must Have” box was this container of toasted coconut and almond overnight oats from Quaker. I’ve been getting really into the overnight oats thing- especially because a lot of mornings can be rushed and hectic- but with these, you just pour milk in them before you tuck yourself in for the evening, store them in your fridge overnight- and then enjoy them in the a.m.! How simple (and tasty) is that?

The second bonus item was this 6-pack of Donut Shop K-Cups! I have a Keurig (and it’s a lifesaver)– so free coffee is always appreciated. Although Donut Shop can taste a little bland in my opinion, I usually spice it up with a some flavored creamer or a pinch of cinnamon- so I can work with this for sure!

The third bonus item is this mini, spray-on version of Aquaphor’s new aerosol moisturizer. With Winter comes colder temperatures here in New England, and with colder temperatures comes dry skin- so I have a feeling I’ll be getting plenty of use out of this in the coming weeks now that Fall’s briskness is starting to feel a little more, well, brisk.

For digital goodies this month- POPSUGAR included two vouchers, one for 50% off of any Keurig Coffee Maker, and another for $10 off of any order of $50 or more at Lollia Life. I’m going to replacing my coffee maker soon since I have an older model that’s starting to give out on me- so both of these will find use very, very shortly!

And finally, POPSUGAR included a $30 gift card to Framebridge- which I’m especially excited about because it’s going to come in handy for the Christmas present I have planned for my mom this year! The frames offered by the company are customized- which makes framing your photos and artwork super convenient.

Another home run from POPSUGAR this month! I really enjoyed each of the products and- as usual- they fit the theme/inspirations really, really well. I’ll be using everything I received- if I haven’t done so already!

Enjoy the rest of your week and your weekend, everyone! I’ll be back to posting regularly next Monday!

xx

– Ashley –