April 2018: In a Nutshell

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

With the exception of a couple of showers (that went away as quickly as they came)– this past weekend was gorgeous- and the forecast looks to only get better as this week goes on. I took a “just because” day off from work this Wednesday once I’d heard the temperatures were going to be near 80. It seems like such a shame to spend that kind of day cooped up inside of an office- especially after the rough Winter and rocky beginning to Spring that we had here in Boston! A day like that calls for a picnic, or maybe even an afternoon at the beach.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before I dive into May and all the fun, outdoorsy plans I have (both here and out of state) as the Summer gets closer and closer- I wanted to tip my oversized Kentucky Derby hat that I’m dusting off for this weekend to the month of April- filled with plenty of family gatherings, quite a few nights out, and a LOT of unpredictable weather.

April kicked off with Easter and a house filled with brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles and at least two dogs- as well as enough food to feed a small army- and from there the momentum only continued to build. In the days that followed, I was celebrating my best girl-friend’s boozy birthday, donning a purple wig for another friend’s Wrestlemania party, and racing through the streets by Fenway to catch a gig from Franz Ferdinand.

When the snow finally stopped falling and stayed gone long enough for the trees and flowers to begin blooming- I was able to break out the pastels and florals and fully commit to Springtime. I even took the plunge and dyed my hair a subtle and lovely shade of rose gold to commemorate the occasion!

Of course, April had some minor and inconvenient setbacks. A couple of weeks ago I had gotten into a car accident when another vehicle pulled from a stop sign and hit my car as I was traveling on the road- resulting in some dents/scrapes and a brief period of shoulder pain in the days that followed. Thankfully, it wasn’t any worse than that- and my car has since been repaired and returned to me- so it all seems to have worked out for now! We’ll see how it goes when it comes time for the insurance companies to get reimbursed. I’m really pleased and impressed with my own company, though- because they handled everything so quickly and efficiently.

But overall- April was a joy- and now that May is here and things are winding down at work while everyone begins to plan their vacations, cookouts, gardening, etc. I’m really excited for the coming weeks. Boston Calling is this coming month, which is shaping up to be an amazing festival- and although I didn’t make it to NYC this past month as I’d originally planned due to a scheduling conflict- I intend to visit Manhattan again in May. I’m also in the process of putting together another adventure to Washington D.C. for Memorial Day weekend with a longtime friend I haven’t seen in a couple of years since they moved from San Diego to Chicago a while back!

As always, I’ll have my usual rotation of recipes and OOTD posts (now that it’s getting warm enough to show a little leg!) but I’ve also got a really fun contest/collaboration coming up a little later on this week to get everyone into the Spring/Summer accessories frame of mind- as well as some local and product reviews, and plenty of pictures along the way.

Speaking of- to close out this post (and this month), I thought I’d share a series of photos I snapped while out and about this past weekend. Commonwealth Avenue was in full bloom on Saturday, and set against the historic brownstones in the neighborhood and the warm weather- it was a bright, beautiful way to begin the evening!

Enjoy the rest of your Monday, everyone! I’ll see you all on Wednesday- where I’ll have the contest details!

xx

– Ashley –

Favorites: April 2018!

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it to the weekend!

With only a couple of days left in April, this coming weekend is shaping up to be packed with some mid-Spring activities and some much-needed time outdoors (weather permitting- although the forecast is looking pretty good!) around the city and the park tomorrow.

But before I kick things off by closing out some cases at work and heading over to my family’s home for bi-weekly dinner with my mother and older brothers- I wanted to share some of my favorite odds and ends from this past month. While my overall and more in-depth thoughts on this lovely month that was will be up on the blog via my “In a Nutshell” post on Monday morning- it’s worth mentioning that April was sprinkled with a lot of new finds- from beauty, floral fashion, binge-worthy shows, fun (and thought-provoking) apps, as well a little bit of desert-inspired home decor.

Let’s see what made the list, shall we?

The weather at the beginning of April was admittedly a little moody. One day would give us a glimpse of high 50s/low 60s temperatures- and then the next would have us hiding under umbrellas as it snowed/sleeted. Mother Nature’s inability to make up her mind claimed no bigger victim this year than my skin- which did it’s best to keep up with the sporadic climate changes but eventually dried out completely for a couple of weeks.

While applying extra moisturizers and serums in the mornings and evenings helped a little- it took this cucumber-infused roll-on mask from Yes To to give my complexion a boost to get back on track. Cooling, calming, hydrating and mess-free- I’ve been keeping this tube in my fridge and then rolling it on about twice a week for some insta-comfort. This stuff is a lifesaver on the chillier, dryer days- and I’ll be buying these in bulk when it comes time for me to head out to the desert!

Speaking of the desert- I absolutely covet anything with either palm tree or cactus print- including clothing, accessories, stationary, etc. I thought I’d take that love affair and use it to transform my office a bit since it was feeling a little on the boring side lately- and turned to Modcloth for some much-needed and adorable assistance.

These battery-powered fairy lights- shaped like cacti, of course- have found a home along the side of my desk where I keep them illuminated on those more stressful days where I need a little bit of fun to keep me from losing my cool. The cactus-shaped and magnetic desk organizer, however? That stays visible at all times- since it holds my pens, paper clips, and rubber bands in place. I love it!

This time of year, I’m also a big fan of floral prints- and I try to incorporate them in subtle ways so that I don’t look like Spring threw up all over me. A pretty, tiered top? A bright and cheerful blossom-covered dress? Comfortable (and seasonally appropriate flats?) I own ’em all- and I’ve been wearing them throughout April while I wait for the trees and flowers to show off their own buds and blossoms!

  1. Blue and White Floral Top (Primark)
  2. Pink Blossom Dress (Forever 21)
  3. Flowered Flats (Old Navy)

In April, I complimented my floral finesse with some subtle makeup- limiting myself to just a couple of color combinations and nude, moisturized lips. This was made possible with two very simple products. The first, an all-in-one blush, highlighter and eye shadow palette I stumbled upon by chance from Maybelline while I was trying to find replacement mascara at a reasonable price since mine had unexpectedly gotten clumpy.

The ‘Urban Light’ palette includes a soft pink blush, a shimmery golden/peach highlighter, and two eye shadow combinations- one a pink/fuchsia mix, and the other a mint green/yellow combo. I’ve been wearing them daily- mixing and matching to create my own unique look- and every color is so flattering (a rarity with many palettes that cost double the price.) For $11.99- how could you go wrong?

For my lips, which also fell victim to that aforementioned dry-spell- I kept things simple. This color-less, moisture-packed coconut lip balm from Sephora has become my life source and has smoothed and saved my pout time and time throughout the month. At $6 a tube- I got a few of these (for my purse, my office, and my car)– just in case I misplace one. It’s always good to have a backup!

I think that’s everything that could pose for a photo- but a few other things made the list this month, too!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

indie617 – I’ve been really lucky to have met and connected with friends from various radio stations in Boston over the years. They always open my eyes to new and upcoming artists while simultaneously showing appreciation for the things I grew up listening to- and conversations about shows, albums, recording, etc. are always fascinating. Recently, friends of mine from BCN-turned-Radio BDC launched their own independent streaming radio service- indie617- and it’s AWESOME.

Not only do they play fantastic new music from local and international acts, but they’ve got their finger on all the hottest shows in the city. They sent me to a Franz Ferdinand performance at the House of Blues earlier this month- and I had an amazing time.

You can tune in HERE– but if you’re on the go, the indie617 app is available for iPhone and Android, too! Just check your app store!

Big Mouth – I’m a little late to this raunchy Netflix cartoon about a handful of kids going through puberty, but my BFF Sean introduced me to it a couple of weeks ago by playing one episode and I was immediately hooked and had to binge the entire first season right then and there.

Created by Nick Kroll, ‘Big Mouth’ has a pretty impressive list of celebrities lending voices to the characters- including Jordan Peele, John Mulaney, Kristen Wiig, Jenny Slate and Maya Rudolph (who voices the Hormone Monstress and is INCREDIBLE.) It is laugh-out-loud funny and I’m really excited for season two.

– TECH/APPS –

HQ Trivia – Okay, so my co-worker is the one that got me hooked on this one. I love trivia- even moreso when I can wish cash from playing it- so HQ Trivia is right up my alley. Twice a day on weekdays and once a day on weekends- everyone who logs into the (free) app answers 12 trivia questions in a live, game show environment. Answer all 12 correctly and you and the remaining players who also answered all the questions right split a pot of money that ranges from $5K to upwards of $300K.

With occasional celebrity hosts (like The Rock and Robert De Niro)– the game gets really challenging but still remains a lot of fun. I’ve been having a blast playing with my co-workers and friends after work.

And I think that’s it for the month of April! Just a lot of cute, fun things that made these past few weeks even more fun and memorable.

And with that being said- I’m off to wrap up work for the week.

I hope everyone out there reading this has a fantastic weekend- and I’ll see you all again on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –

Brunch Bites: Mozzarella Bites

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I hope you’re all hanging in there. We’re almost to the weekend!

Before I race into morning meetings and play a little catch-up with my e-mail inbox- I wanted to share a quick, easy, and cheesy (in a good way) recipe I whipped up for ‘Girls Day’ brunch this past weekend. You just need a handful of ingredients, a couple of bowls, and about 30 minutes of patience- and you’ve got yourself a crunchy, gooey appetizer that is perfect for pre-gaming for Springtime sporting events or for long afternoons of Netflix-binging. Whatever your Lazy Sunday itinerary consists of!

Think of these as a rounder, slightly-crispier spin on a traditional mozzarella stick.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 cup vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1½ cups bread crumbs
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnishing
  • 1 cup marinara sauce, warmed for dipping

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Line a large plate with several layers of paper towels. In a small pot, heat the oil over medium heat until it reads 360°F to 370°F on a thermometer. (Note: This is a relatively high frying temperature, which gets the outside crust crispy before the inside cheese can melt too much. Keep an eye on the temperature of the oil, and if it gets too hot, turn off the heat.)
  2. Taking the mozzarella, break off pieces about an inch long and roll between your palms to create a round/ball shape. Continue doing this until you have the desired number of bites.
  3. Place the flour in a medium bowl, the egg in a second medium bowl and the bread crumbs in a third medium bowl.
  4. Working in batches, dredge the cheese balls in flour to coat, then in egg, then in bread crumbs. Repeat until all the cheese is breaded.
  5. Fry the mozzarella in the preheated oil until golden brown on the outside, then remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and transfer to the prepared paper-towel-lined plate. Season immediately with salt.
  6. To serve, garnish the mozzarella with parsley, then serve immediately with a side of warm marinara sauce.

I love simple recipes that satisfy- so seeing how quickly these cheese bites went and knowing that I didn’t spend an entire afternoon making them was a pretty fantastic feeling. I’m planning another batch for this coming Friday night when I show up to bi-weekly dinner with my family.

I know my niece- who never turns down anything with cheese in it- is going to love these!

But for now, it’s time to hustle and make some money here at work.

Enjoy the rest of your day, everyone! See you all on Friday!

xx

– Ashley –

OOTD: Spring in the City

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

Being as pale as I am- I used to never wear white for fear it would wash me out even more and make me look like a literal ‘Scooby-Doo’ ghost. And then, when I attempted to dip my toe into the trend a while back- I had people reminding me that one isn’t supposed to wear white after Labor Day- a rule I never fully understood (and still don’t, really.)

But I’m a perpetual rule-breaker, and with this past weekend feeling like the first, real, legitimate set of Spring days we’ve had in a long time- no jacket required!- I decided to throw on a pair of crisp, white jeans, a bright and billowy floral top, and some pastel pink flats to meet my friends for a day of sunshine and burgers in Charlestown.

The jeans are the Rockstar Super-Skinny cut from Old Navy, while the top and flats are from Primark– all affordable and all able to be paired with other tops/bottoms- but what I love most about this outfit in-particular isn’t just how bright and fun it is, but how comfortable it is, too.

In beautiful, historic neighborhoods like Charlestown, it’s much easier (and much more pleasant) to walk to where you’re going- and when you’re in uncomfortable fabrics or overly complicated shoes- your lovely, leisurely day can be spoiled right away.

I really love breezy, loose-fitting fabrics this time of year- and this top had a fun tier/layered look going on that gave me a little bit of flair with my movements and a neat silhouette.

And although I am perpetually clumsy- I’ve learned to utilize long, thin sweaters when I sit down or as I’m eating while wearing white. I carried a cardigan in my bag for that very purpose- throwing it on before I sat down anywhere and making sure it covered the part of my jeans the napkin didn’t quite reach when it came time to eat dinner. See? Getting wiser with age (I think…)

But it’s time for me to go ahead and sip some coffee, swallow back the Monday blues, and get some work done.

Here’s hoping you all have a wonderful week ahead!

xx

– Ashley –

Taking a Bite Out of Season 8 of ‘The Walking Dead’…

For anyone who knows me fairly well, or at the least followed me over here from ‘Legally Redhead’– you’ll know I’m a HUGE fan of ‘The Walking Dead’. While I’ve admittedly fallen a bit behind on the comics as of late (I blame work!)– I’ve never missed an episode of the AMC series since it premiered on Halloween night back in 2010.

Every Sunday night the show is on is like a mini-party at my place- complete with themed-snacks (Michonne-ion rings? Fried CARL-mari? Oh yeah. I’ve made ’em all), Walker-inspired decor, and official merchandise like t-shirts and pajama pants. I’ve speculated, debated, and predicated plot-points and characters’ motives at work, family functions, parties, online- and pretty much any place/outlet where the show is discussed. I’ve cosplayed as Daryl and Negan, I’ve hung out with some of the cast (who are all lovely)– and I’ve made friends and met kindred spirits with other fans from around the globe.

To say this show/franchise changed my life would be an understatement.

Every year, around this time- I always review the season that just wrapped up and make predictions for the season to come in the Fall. In this case, Season 8- which ended on a more sinister note this past Sunday night and included the show’s highly anticipated 100th episode- was a doozy of a nail-biter from start to finish. There’s a lot of unanswered questions- and although I’ve taken issues with the show’s writing/creative direction in recent seasons- I was pretty satisfied with Season 8 overall- save for a couple of major things here and there.

But I know there’s quite a few people who haven’t had the chance to catch up yet- and I don’t want to spoil anything for them- so I’m placing my review/guesses for the 9th season behind a “READ MORE/KEEP READING” cut to prevent ruining any twists/turns/shocking moments for those who still need some time to work their way to the Season 8 finale.

Again, last warning- unless you want to read spoilers for Season 8- DO NOT CLICK THE “READ MORE/KEEP READING” cut.

Otherwise, let Negan’s pained expression invite you in.

Same, dude. Same.

Continue reading “Taking a Bite Out of Season 8 of ‘The Walking Dead’…”