Favorites: June 2018!

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

I’ve never been more relieved that the weekend is here than I am right now. What a whirlwind week it’s been- and it’s going to be so nice to just relax after work today, enjoy a home cooked meal with my family at my mom’s house- and then partake in some pampering and time with friends…

… When I’m not getting my geek on at this weekend’s ComiCONN at Foxwoods on Saturday afternoon, of course!

But while my look back on this month that was will be up on the blog bright and early tomorrow morning before I hit the road to Connecticut- I wanted to share some of the things I’ve been wearing/using/eating/watching/listening to/and otherwise raving about all throughout June.

That’s right- it’s time for my monthly Favorites post!

As always, I’m going to start with the things I could photograph before jumping into the odds, ends, and miscellaneous things that made this past month extra special!

Kicking things off are these adorable, bright and Summery flower sandals I picked up from ModCloth earlier this month. Whenever I wear these, people always stop me to take a better look at them- particularly the huge pink flowers that sit on top of my toes with every step.

These are such fun and comfortable sandals to wear- and I’ve been sporting them at work, at the beach, on dates, and running errands. They’ve become my go-to shoe for the Summer!

And keeping up with my Summer fashion, I had posted earlier this week about one of my latest wardrobe obsessions in the form of comfortable and flattering one-piece bodysuits. I’ve been wearing them with shorts, jeans and skirts pretty much non-stop on the weekends because they’re so easy to dress up/down and are no fuss.

This mini-collection of some of my favorites, amassed during recent trips to Primark, are colorful (with the exception of the black and white one- which is a “dressier” one piece I wear to nighttime functions)– and are perfect for this most hot and humid of New England seasons!

Moving from fashion to beauty/cosmetics- I only had a couple of things that made the list this month (I don’t use a ton of makeup this time of year since it melts off my face in record time!) and both are great products that benefit skin and boost a healthy glow! The first, is this lightweight and non-greasy, oil-free moisturizer with SPF15 from OLAY, which I’ve been wearing under my BB cream.

Formulated for combination/oily skin (AKA- me), this lotion hydrates my skin and protects it from harmful UV rays rays without clogging my pores. It’s also loaded with skin conditioning vitamins, so my face actually feels nice while I’m wearing it.

And at night, I use this gentle facial roller (which I store in the refrigerator during the day to get it nice and cold) to boost circulation and collagen production after I’ve washed my face and applied my serums for the evening. 5-10 minutes of rolling this over my cheeks, down the bridge of my nose and my forehead makes a world of difference!

Best of all? You can find affordable rollers online. You don’t have to break the bank to get anything super fancy. This one was only $2!

Moving onto one food item I was obsessed with this past month, if loving a yogurt is wrong- I don’t want to be right. Yoplait’s new ‘Oui’ yogurts– which are more like a thick custard than a typical creamy texture- are SO good. I’ve been stocking up to eat these with breakfast every day because they’re so delicious and come in a ton of great flavors.

The ‘Oui’ yogurts are non-GMO and come in individual glass pots- which means you can recycle them or reuse them! I started washing mine out for when I bake bite-sized desserts, and others I’ve given to my friends’ kids so they can use them to plant seeds or for arts & crafts projects. It’s so much more rewarding than tossing endless plastic containers away!

And finally- I’m *so* over inflatable unicorn pool floats all over my Instagram feed. This year- I’m bringing you all the pizza slice float. Big enough to hold my grown up self without sinking me but small enough to not take up all the space in the pool- this was a purchase I’d made on a whim at the very beginning of the Summer and I haven’t regretted it one bit.

My friends are actually getting each of their own- and we’re looking into picking up some of these cheeseburger floats, too.

And I think that’s it for the more photogenic favorites for the month of June- but some other things made the list, too!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

Interpol – “The Rover”: Interpol are undoubtedly one of my favorite bands- and maybe the only band whose lyrics I’d ever consider getting tattooed on me at some point- so when I found out they were releasing a new album in August, entitled ‘Marauder’- I was more than excited. When I heard the first single from the album, “The Rover”- my spirit temporarily left my body because it’s SO good. I can’t stop listening to it.

August feels so far away now!

– GAMES/APPS –

Viridi – Sometimes things can get overwhelming at my job, and the idea of even glancing at social media (and all the craziness that can come with it) when I’m already stressing out and need a break is unheard of. When I can’t meditate or simply take off for weeks at a time on a whim- I turn to Viridi. This botany app, backed by soothing music and soft colors/scenery- lets you grow and tend to virtual plants. It might sound silly, sure- but it’s actually super relaxing and mellows me out when I’m having a rough day.

Also? I can’t grow anything to save my life- so to be able to not immediately kill my plants in a game is refreshing!

– MISCELLANEOUS –

Deus Ex Machina – Unfortunately, this immersive theater experience based out of the historical Shea Theater in Turners Falls ended this past weekend, but what an *amazing* show it was! Patrons are whisked away from room to room- sometimes separately and sometimes in pairs or groups- by actors (portraying 1920s era ghosts trapped in the theater) where so many different things are happening at once. There’s music, and dancing, and drinking- and I had the time of my life there.

Think NYC’s “Sleep No More”- but not obscenely expensive and you actually get to see great performances without being overcrowded! I can’t wait until it comes back. Truly.

One of my dearest friends was/is in the cast, and I owe him the biggest thanks for smuggling me in to see the show. I loved it oh so very much.

And I think that’s it for the month of June! And, as I’d mentioned earlier- before we jump into July this coming Sunday, my look back on this past month will be up tomorrow morning before I head out for the weekend! Keep an eye out (weekend posts are easy to miss, ‘ya know!)

Enjoy your Friday, everyone! We made it! Now it’s time to kick back and celebrate!

xx

– Ashley –

OOTD: Talking Body(suit)

Good Morning and Happy Hump Day, everyone!

Admittedly, this work week has been brutal- and I can’t wait for it to be over so I can dive into my weekend plans and get geared up for July (and the Fourth Festivities!) but I’ve got to hang in there for just a couple more days, first- as exhausting as it seems right now!

But instead of wallowing, and before I attempt to get into Boss Bitch mode here in my office- I wanted to share what has become one of my favorite wardrobe staples for this Summer. Surprisingly comfortable, versatile, and easy to dress up (or down, depending on the occasion)– I’m really feeling one-piece bodysuits lately.

Not to be confused with one-piece swimsuits, bodysuits are usually made with lighter fabrics and can be embellished with fringe, tassels, bedazzled jewels, funky straps, zippers, etc. I’ve grown quite a collection in recent weeks (and after multiple visits to Primark)– and the striped one shown above has a pretty daring zipper on the front that goes down quite a ways when unzipped. I call it my “Cleavage Control Contraption”.

I typically wear these with high-rise shorts and statement earrings or over-the-top bracelets/rings- which sort of gives me the same 1970s vibes my mother had going for her when she was my age. Between the one-piece, my round sunglasses, and the beachy waves I rocked all weekend- I felt like I was channeling my inner Penny Lane and was ready to hop into the nearest functioning VW Bus to follow a band on tour around the country.

The only thing that didn’t really fit into the ’70s theme of this outfit were the sparkling slide sandals- because my feet had been killing me from the night before and I chose comfort and functionality over style when I put this together- but they’re still pretty cute, I think. Right? Someone back me up on this.

I plan on showing some of my other bodysuits in my upcoming ‘Favorites’ post for the month of June- but this striped one is definitely one of my go-to’s when I’m heading out and about for a day off!

But now I’ve got to get some work done and prepare myself for today’s meetings and errands. Here’s wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday!

xx

– Ashley –

Backyard BBQ Recipes: Mini Lobster Rolls

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

Despite the fact that most of this past weekend was rained out- I still had an amazing couple of days off from work and out of town- and even found the time to whip up one of my favorite recipes in-between thunderstorms that had rolled through the area and (briefly) interrupted some outdoor dining plans with friends.

Having been born and raised in New England- I’m very particular when it comes to seafood. If it isn’t directly from the ocean-to-the-table, then I want no part of it- and it’s pretty much an unspoken rule that clam chowder cannot be anything less than exemplary.

Of course, there are many varying opinions when it comes to one favorite Summertime recipe in particular- the lobster roll- which can take on many different forms and incorporate many different flavors. Wanting to create smaller portions of the standard hot dog roll or 6″ sub-sized version to make these easier to pass around during the aforementioned outdoor dining plans- I used a fool-proof recipe that excludes the unnecessary ingredients (looking at you, shredded lettuce) and instead features some unexpected flavors that actually work surprisingly well together- like dill and Dijon mustard.

And these don’t take long to make at all! Even better!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1¼ pounds cooked lobster meat, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 16 mini brioche hot dog buns or rolls
  • Chives, for garnishing

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice and mustard. Stir in the lobster meat, celery, scallions, parsley and dill; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, brush the melted butter onto both sides of the hot dog buns and/or brioche rolls and then place them in the hot pan. Toast until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes.
  3. Fill each bun with lobster salad. Serve immediately, garnished with chives.

Even though we had to eat these inside once the rain started to pour down instead of outdoors and under the shade of the trees as originally planned- it didn’t take away from the experience of biting into this recipe for the first time. Between the lobster, the lemon zest, the Dijon mustard and the dill (and don’t forget those perfectly toasted rolls/buns!) this was like a beach party for my taste buds.

And, for some added seafood flavor- why not throw some chopped shrimp or scallops into the mix, too? I’ve done it before- and it tastes incredible!

But now with it being Monday and there being a stack of work on my desk- I’ve got to dive right into this and start getting things done!

Have a great Monday, everyone! Here’s wishing you all a good week ahead!

xx

– Ashley –

Detained Children: How To Help

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

We made it through this week- and I’ve got big plans for this weekend that I’m just itching to get to! But first, I wanted to take some time to discuss something a little more serious before we all jump into “TGIF/Weekend Mode”.

I’ve stated in the past (more than once, I’m sure-) that I try to keep things at Blondie Birdie lighthearted and fun. The world can be such a bleak, depressing place sometimes- to the point where it’s overwhelming- and it’s nice to have something else to focus on when the news and the headlines just get to be too much. Writing this blog is a nice and much-needed break from all the badness going on in the world- and I hope it offers some happiness and comfort to those who read it, too.

Sometimes, though- we see things happening around us that can’t simply be put on the back-burner and which need our immediate and undivided attention. That being said, I’d like to take a quick break from posting about fashion, or food, or my travels in and around New England- and talk about helping innocent children who are presently being detained in prison-like camps at our borders as part of a cruel and unjust “zero tolerance” immigration policy.

Now, I know there are many different and strong opinions on both sides of the immigration debate- but it needs to be repeated and understood that people from outside countries who come to our borders and make it clear that they are seeking asylum are not committing a crime. Seeking asylum is *not* illegal- despite what some news outlets would want you to believe.

These people are leaving their homes, families and friends- pretty much everything they’ve ever known- to escape poverty, war, corrupt governments/authority figures, and persecution to seek safety and a chance at a future that would otherwise be uncertain or grim if they were to stay in their homeland.

Many of these people are coming here with small children as a means to protect them and allow them access to a better life- only to have those children taken from them and sent to glorified concentration camps for an unknown period of time. Many of these children do not speak English- and many of them may never be reunited with their parents ever again. In an already problematic child services/social services system that is riddled with human error and overcrowding- these kids have so many odds stacked up against them from the start.

Despite your opinion on immigration- surely you all must agree that these children don’t deserve to be punished in this way, and that they shouldn’t be used as pawns by politicians and wannabe’ totalitarian dictators.

But, there are ways to help- and I wanted to share a few organizations who are actively working to help both the children detained in campsites along the border, as well as their families- and who need donations to continue to do amazing work.

KIND (Kids in Need of Defense): I’ve actually worked with KIND’s Boston branch before, and have seen firsthand all the good they continue to do by providing trained, qualified pro bono legal representatives to assist and aid children in their immigration proceedings and ensure that each child is placed within a safe and suitable living environment- as well as granting them easier access to the tools and counseling they may need to adapt.

KIND are actively taking donations to pay for mental health counseling, violence prevention workshops to assist at-risk girls- and pay for the training to enlist new legal representatives to help with their cause. Please consider helping them out! They’re amazing!

– Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP): Similar to KIND’s efforts, ASAP works to assist the most vulnerable asylum seekers- of all ages- who have fled violence and sexual abuse in their homelands to find them stability and reunite them with family while walking them through the immigration process. ASAP also comes to the rescue for any asylum-seeker facing unfair deportations/raids/etc in all areas across the country.

– We Belong Together: Focusing on promoting equality for, and empowering immigrant women while simultaneously providing the tools needed to keep refugee families together- We Belong Together works tirelessly to aid the mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces, etc. who are at-risk and are often the most vulnerable when it comes to immigration proceedings.

– Al Otro Lado: For my Southern California people! Al Otro Lado is currently working to assist refugees and provide legal support for immigrants in the Los Angeles area. Right now, given the crisis- they are offering their aid to the infants and unaccompanied minors being detained at the border.

Any bit helps and will go towards making a huge difference for a child and their family.

Many of my friends are immigrants who came to this country when they were young. Some were fleeing war, while others were fleeing persecution, poverty or famine. A friend of mine in college once told me how she had come to the United States in her early teens with nothing more than the clothes she was wearing and a little money she had secretly saved up- to avoid an arranged marriage with a man more than twice her age. Another one of my friends, openly gay- told me how just being himself and loving who he wants in his native country could get him killed.

I couldn’t imagine my life without knowing these individuals and I certainly couldn’t imagine turning my back on them if they were in the same situation that many of these families at the border are in right now. These people I know are some of the hardest working, kindest and most patriotic people you’ll ever meet- and, despite everything going wrong in this country right now- are still so grateful to be here.

I implore everyone reading this- regardless of your stance on immigration- to do the right thing and help these children. They shouldn’t have to suffer.

And with all that being said- I hope you all have a fantastic and beautiful weekend. Much love to all of you. I think we could all use it right about now.

I’ll be back on Monday with your regularly scheduled blogging content!

xx

– Ashley –

Moose Crossings and Ice Cream Sundaes…

Good Morning and Happy Hump Day, everyone!

Every year, when Father’s Day rolls around- I like to take a day or two to just get out of town for a little while and visit new places, try new dishes, or see new art and otherwise keep myself preoccupied for a little while. My own father passed away from chemotherapy complications nearly six years ago- and while I don’t fall into a deep depression the way I did during the first couple of Father’s Days after he was gone- I still tend to get sad/emotional from time to time.

Thankfully, the weather was lovely this past weekend- which made taking a mini road trip up to Brattleboro, Vermont on Saturday all the more enjoyable since I could spend time outdoors in the sunshine. And, since I naturally took the back roads to get there- I was able to stop along the way at different farms and along trails and river edges to squeal at cute animals or dip my toes in the water to cool off.

I put a lot of miles on my cars, for sure- but it’s worth it. I love to explore, and on warm Summer days- nothing beats driving through the countryside with the windows down, listening to music, and sipping iced coffee or tea. It’s very therapeutic for me.

And with all the hiking I did on Saturday when I wasn’t behind the wheel- I made sure to treat myself with a little hot fudge sundae at Northfield Creamie. I pass by it a lot whenever I’m in Western Massachusetts, but had never actually had the chance to stop and savor their delicious desserts until now! It was well worth the pit stop.

On Sunday, one of my longtime and dearest friends out in Western Massachusetts invited me out to Turners Falls for an afternoon to get a behind-the-scenes look at a show he’s performing through this weekend at the Shea Theatre. It’s an immersive theater experience- which is right up my alley- and I’m excited to see the play in it’s completion this coming weekend. It was really interesting to see all the work and preparation that goes into it- and I had a lot of fun meeting everyone since they were all so unbelievably friendly.

After a dinner at Riff’s (their goat cheese and avocado quesadilla is the best, by the way) and doing a little street art tour by some of the building sides and alley ways- I had to bid my dudebro adieu and head home so I could get a good night’s sleep in me before sliding into work bright and early on Monday morning.

Overall, I had a beautiful, relaxing and food-filled weekend- and I knew my dad was there with me in spirit. He would have loved the scenery- since he was a fan of taking long and aimless drives, too. That’s where I get it from, after all!

Many thanks to the friends who took time from their days with their own fathers to check in and send good vibes (and more than one funny joke or meme to keep me in good spirits) and to the new faces I met along my travels who made me feel welcome and cherished. It means more than you’ll ever know!

But I’ve got to get to work and make sure I’m staying on top of my tasks today!

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful mid-week!

And, with only a couple days left to go- there’s still some to enter my Beach-themed giveaway! Get on that!
Turners Falls, MA. 6/17/18

xx

– Ashley –