Two If By Sea…

Good Morning and Happy Hump Day, everyone!

One of my favorite things about living in New England is that for as long as I’ve been here and with all the exploring I’ve done over the years- I still find new places I’ve never visited before that delight, dazzle, and surprise me! That’s why when a friend recommends going someplace unfamiliar or even a bit unconventional- I rarely protest. You just never know what you’re going to see and find!

Case in point? This past weekend when my BFF Sean- who is just as much of an adventurer as I am- suggested we spend an afternoon catching a boat to Georges Island (about 45 minutes off of Boston Harbor.) Now, I love the sea- and I love sailing- but most of my boat experiences have been limited to areas around Cape Cod and in some instances, right off the coast in New Hampshire. I’d never actually visited Georges Island before- and it’s one of the few Boston Harbor islands that Sean hadn’t visited, either. Of course I said yes!

Georges Island is home to the remnants of Fort Warren. When construction of the fort completed in 1860, it served as a prison for captured Confederate soldiers/sailors and as government offices- and continued to be utilized as a control center until 1947. It now stands empty and foreboding on the island- but can be explored by visitors during the day. Although a lot of it has since crumbled or has been overtaken by nature again- I had an absolute blast photographing some of it’s flooded corridors and tunnels!

Below are some of my favorite snapshots from the Fort! Click on an image to make it bigger!

The fort is allegedly haunted by a widow who went to the island to rescue her imprisoned husband- only to die by hanging once she’d arrived there and was subsequently captured- but Sean and I didn’t see her around. Believe me- we looked.

After the island closed for visitors for the day and we’d returned and docked back in Boston Harbor- Sean and I headed over to The Barking Crab to soak up a little more sun in their outdoor seating area and indulge in margaritas, crab cakes, baked haddock- and some good ol’ Boston Cream Pie while the sun began to set. The place is a little pricey- but oh so worth it if you love seafood as much as I do!

It was a beautiful afternoon- and worth the little bit of red I got on my shoulders later on that evening (it’s since gone away!) Someone please remind me to reapply SPF *before* I start drinking margaritas and get forgetful.

And now, I’ve got to get to work and make enough money to eat at The Barking Crab again!

Just kidding- but I do have to get to work so that I’m not completely swamped by noon.

Enjoy your Wednesday, everyone! See you all on Friday!

The view from Dinner! 7/8/18.

xx

– Ashley –

Summer Sweets: Frozen Strawberry Lemonade Pie

Good Evening and Happy Monday, everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful start to your week! While my posts typically go up early in the mornings before I head into my office for the day- I was a little pre-occupied this past weekend- and with my hours changing a bit at work (I come in a little earlier, stay a little later- and have half days on Fridays now!) I didn’t have a whole lot of time to get this yummy, sweet and just the right amount of tart recipe up on the blog ’til now!

Lemonade is my go-to, non-alcoholic drink to serve during the Summertime- especially when it’s scorching hot out (which it definitely has been around New England lately!)– since it’s so refreshing when it’s made right. When I saw this strawberry-infused, set-it-and-forget-it frozen pie version a couple of weeks ago- I knew I had to try out the recipe during one of my days off to share with friends as we tried to beat the heat and stay cool!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 12 tablespoons butter
  • 24 whole graham crackers, crushed into tiny crumbs (you should have 4 cups worth of graham cracker crumbs total.)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Water, as needed
  • 3 egg whites
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 8 ounces whipped topping, thawed
  • 16 ounces frozen strawberries, thawed

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. MAKE THE CRUST: Combine butter, crushed graham crackers, and ¼ cup sugar in a large bowl. Stir together until the mixture begins to stick together. To test the mixture, pinch a small amount at a time and see if it sticks. If it doesn’t- add a tablespoon of water at a time until it does.
  2. Divide the graham cracker crumbs between two 9 inch pie plates, using your fingers to press the mixture evenly across the bottom and up the sides. Place the crusts in the freezer while you make the fillings.
  3. MAKE THE FILLING: Place the egg whites in a clean mixing bowl. Use electric beaters or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment to beat the egg whites on medium speed for 1 minute. Then add the lemon juice. Beat on medium high speed for another 4 minutes. The mixture will look foamy and thick. Add the sugar, a quarter cup at a time, and continue to beat on medium high speed for 1 minute after each addition (the eggs will take about 8 minutes total to whip up completely.)
  4. Add the frozen strawberries and beat on medium speed until they’re broken up and evenly distributed throughout the egg mixture. Fold in the whipped topping.
  5. Divide the strawberry mixture evenly between the two pie pans. Cover and freeze for at least six hours- or overnight.
  6. To serve, drop the pie plate in an inch of hot water for about 30 seconds to help loosen the crust. Then slice and serve!

I love this recipe because it’s sweet and sour- but the graham cracker crust helps break up the tartness with each bite! You can also add or reduce the amount of lemon juice and sugar incorporated into this if you want the pie to taste more sour or more sweet- depending on your personal preference. I think I’ll actually be adding a little more lemon juice next time!

Here’s to another lovely week of Summer ahead of us. We’ve already made it through Monday- so here’s hoping the rest is a breeze!

xx

– Ashley –

“She was an American girl…”

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

It’s back to blogging for me after a few days off to celebrate the Fourth of July, spend some time with friends, and just unplug for a little while. As much as I enjoy putting together new content for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays- sometimes it’s nice to just leave e-mails on unread for a bit and reconnect with nature and loved ones.

I highly recommend taking a break like that every once in a while! I try to do it once a month if it’s possible. It isn’t always easy- but it *is* always rewarding.

But these past few days have been a lot of fun, and I have the photos to prove it!

On Saturday, I headed down to Foxwoods for their annual ComiCONN Comic-Convention with my friend Evan to browse local artists/businesses and see some stars (also also eat the most delicious nachos and quesadillas at Scorpion Bar.) I’ve always been a bit of a Mohegan Sun girl- since most of my favorite bands/artists typically play there- but my first trip to Foxwoods in a long time didn’t disappoint. They’ve really done a lot with the place since the last time I was there and it’s very nice.

While we were there, I got to see/chat up ‘The Walking Dead’s Ross Marquand (he plays Aaron)– and he was an absolute sweetheart. He was so kind, funny, charismatic, and personable. That show might be taking all the wrong turns lately- but I’m so excited to see what he does next!

On Sunday, after running some pre-work week errands, I once again found myself in Western Massachusetts- this time at Ashfield Lake for the very first time with a friend of mine. We were desperate to beat the heat wave that has been mercilessly hammering down across New England for the better part of a week- and the water couldn’t have been more perfect. Not too cold, but not too warm after roasting under the sun all day. It was just right- and completely refreshing.

After we dried off, it was off to Amherst for dinner before I had to head back home and get ready for work.

The photo at the top of the post was taken right before we left the lake- as the sun was setting. One of Massachusetts’ hidden gems!

Although I had to work on Monday and Tuesday (and again yesterday and today)– the Fourth of July was spent in the wilderness. Specifically, in the White Mountains- where I spent the day hiking and swimming in streams, under waterfalls, and in lakes until it was time to head back into civilization, the city- and enjoy some fireworks and BBQ.

I especially love the White Mountains this time of year because it’s not ski-season, which means many of the busier areas and attractions aren’t as busy. I was able to rest and relax and just take in the sounds of the mountains around me until I had to rejoin Boston’s nightlife again. It was beautiful.

And now- back home and rejuvenated- I’m preparing for the weekend. After work today, I’ll be visiting a friend in Northampton before he takes the stage this weekend for a Summer-long theater project, and I’ve got a pretty great recipe up my sleeve that I’m excited to whip up tomorrow (and share next week!)

With that and a planned beach day with friends? It’s shaping up to be a lovely couple of days ahead!

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful Friday, and an even better weekend! I’ve got to get some work done before I take off again!

See you all on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –

Backyard BBQ Recipes: Cheeseburger Skewers

Good Morning, Happy Monday- and Hello July!

Before I finish up some pre-holiday work at the office and prepare to take a mini blogging break for the Fourth of July (I’ll be back on Friday!)– I wanted to share a backyard BBQ/cookout/Independence Day recipe that is ridiculously simple to make, tastes delicious- and can be completely customized!

Also, not that it’s not *the* most important thing- but these sure do look cute in photos, too!

There’s obviously a million and one ways to arrange a burger these days, using a number of tasty and unique ingredients. BBQ bacon burgers? Bleu cheese burgers? Burgers with fried eggs on top? Burgers with crushed potato chips grilled in (awesome, by the way.) The possibilities and combinations are endless!

For this recipe, all you really need is the beef (or beef substitute, per your personal preference) and your selection of toppings to arrange on your stick. You can lay out the toppings on individual plates and let your family and guests assemble their own- and offer up some dipping sauces to top off their creation!

I’ve found that kids love this recipe, because it lets them be creative and make their own burger- and eating them off of the skewer is half of the fun!

But, if you’d like to know the basic ingredients needed to make this recipe- I’ve got you covered!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 2 lbs of lean beef (I used 93%!)
  • 2 tablespoons of prepared mustard
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 20 slices/chopped pieces of American cheese (measuring about 1″ x 1″)
  • 4 ounces cooked and chopped bacon
  • 1 head butter lettuce
  • 1 red onion, sliced/chopped
  • 20 cherry tomatoes
  • 20 dill pickle chips/slices
  • Ketchup, mayo and/or mustard (optional for serving/dipping)

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Using your hands, gently mix together the beef, mustard, salt, onion powder and pepper. Form into 20 (golf ball size) meatballs.
  2. Heat a grill or grill pan to high heat and grill the meatballs for about 3 minutes on each side, or until your preferred level of finish.
  3. Lay out your toppings on individual plates: cheese slices on one plate, chopped bacon on another, lettuce on another, etc. until each topping has it’s own respective place in the line. Fill three small serving bowls at the end of your toppings line with your dipping sauces (one for ketchup, one for mustard, and one for mayonnaise.)
  4. Assemble the skewers with the meatballs, cheese, bacon pieces- and the toppings of your choice. Dip your skewers in your desired sauces- and enjoy!

If these aren’t the most convenient (and cute) pre-fireworks appetizer, then I don’t know what it!

I hope everyone living here in the States has a wonderful Independence Day. I’m still scoping out the best place to watch the fireworks with friends, so we’ll see if I can get any good shots as the night progresses.

I’ll be taking a few days off from the blog-o-sphere for the occasion, but I’ll be back on Friday morning with some more content!

Enjoy your week, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

June 2018: In a Nutshell

Good Morning and Happy Saturday Morning, everyone!

The end of this beautiful, sunny, and often scorching hot month falls on a weekend this year- so before I get ready to get a long overdue mani/pedi and head down to Foxwoods for ComiCONN this afternoon- I wanted to take a quick look back at June 2018 and tip my hat to all the fun and fond memories I made over these past few weeks!

June could easily be summarized with two words: Road Trips. While I didn’t cruise Route 66 across the country (yet) or take my family’s longtime favorite 3-day scenic down the Florida- I spent a lot of my days off and down-time heading to places like Manchester-By-The-Sea, Brattleboro in Vermont, and especially spots in Western Massachusetts like Shelburne Falls and Turners Falls- just really beautiful, relaxing and picturesque locations in the New England area.

And even though it required a lot of time in my car to get to those places (not that I mind- I love driving!) I spent enough time soaking in the scenery and the sun where I’ve developed a bit of an actual tan AND my hair got a little blonder! I’m the East Coast version of a West Coast beach babe, after all.

I saw a lot of great art and performances throughout June, too- from the annual “Film Wars” festival/competition in my hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts- to the hypnotic “Deux Ex Machina” at the Shea Theater. It was a great month for talent and creativity- and an even greater month to enjoy that talent and creativity outdoors. With the exception of a couple sporadic tornado warnings and watches around the area- June was filled with sunny days and lovely sunsets nearly every night!

Robbing the wardrobe department in Deux Ex Machina blind.

I also celebrated a year of blogging and over 100 posts here at Blondie Birdie with a fun, beach-themed giveaway earlier this month (now closed. Sorry! I’m sure there will be another one soon, though!) and, through some local networking events sprinkled throughout June- am really excited for some planned partnerships and collaborations I have in store for the coming weeks!

So, what else do I have planned for July? More travel around New England, of course- but I’m seeing some more great performances by local artists, putting together a guide to Summertime dining in the area, sharing some more backyard BBQ-friendly recipes, continuing to let everyone into my wardrobe for a peek around at what I wear during the hottest months of the year- and celebrating Friday the 13th with some good, ol’ fashioned camping!

Here’s wishing you all a fantastic weekend! I’ll be back on Monday morning with a new recipe to make your 4th of July easy and cute before I break for the holiday- but you can keep an eye on all my Comic-Con adventures over at my INSTAGRAM in the meantime!

See you all soon!

Summer Solstice!

xx

– Ashley –