January 2019: In a Nutshell

Good Afternoon and Happy Thursday, everyone!

I’m absolutely floored that today is the last day of January and we’re going right into Valentines season come tomorrow! It feels like it was only just yesterday I was sipping champagne in NYC and bidding a fond farewell to 2018- and now one month has already come and gone in the blink of an eye!

I suppose January can go either way, though. For a lot of people- it seems to drag on for an eternity (maybe because of the cold and the snow and the post-holiday blues?) and for others, like me- who are so pumped up for a new year and new goals/aspirations- it goes by really, really quickly while we’re scrambling to accomplish so much all at once!

That’s not to say I didn’t get to stop and enjoy myself, of course. As busy as it was- January was certainly a pretty interesting start to 2019!

As I said earlier, January kicked off with a brisk couple of days in New York City where I rang in the New Year in comfort and style (and with a really amazing view of the skyline) to start things off on a good, exciting note. I took in views from the top of Rockefeller Center and ate some delicious food around the Lower East Side.

From there, my days (and particularly my weekends) were all about spending time outdoors- including during our most recent snowstorms/blizzards, torrential downpours and a Super Wolf Blood Moon- and catching great indoor shows around Boston with local bands and at awesome breweries.

My Birthday Cake – Courtesy of My Mom.

I spent a lot of time with friends and family this past month- particularly around both my own birthday and my best friend’s birthday- which are right on top of each other. I was surprised with cakes, presents, and impromptu spa treatments- which definitely came in handy following the one low point from this past month when I was hit in my car by a distracted driver that then fled the scene just a couple of weeks ago.

I finally get my car back tomorrow, though- so February is already looking promising!

Most recently, I began closing out this month at my friend Phill’s annual ‘Royal Rumble’ themed party in Salem on Sunday night- which was absolutely hilarious and fun. The snacks our circle of WWE fans come up with are brilliant- bordering on insane- but in the best way possible. I dress up for every event- and given that it was pretty chilly out and wearing spandex shorts was not something I was particularly eager to do given that hypothermia would have been imminent- I donned a rainbow wig and a mask and went as Asuka!

January was also the month I got seriously organized- which has been really beneficial and has definitely de-stressed and de-cluttered my life in such a brief amount of time. I’m taking on so many new and exciting projects in 2019- some of which I’ve already started working on- so staying on top of my game is something I’m hoping to carry over into February and the months that follow.

Speaking of February- even though it’s the shortest month of the year- I have so much planned! This weekend is the Super Bowl (Go Pats!) where I’ll be eating all the wrong kinds of snacks for what will undoubtedly be the biggest “cheat day” of the year. My BFF from San Diego-Now-Chicago will be in town for the Chinese/Lunar New Year, I’m looking to do some more traveling and participate in more photography opportunities in the coming weeks- and I have a few really fun, inspired posts to share, too!

My posting schedule will return to it’s usual Monday, Wednesday and Friday routine next week- but for now I’m going to call it a night, go play some ‘Resident Evil 2’, and get ready for Friday and the weekend!

Enjoy the next few days, everyone! See you all soon!

xx

– Ashley –

Post-Birthday Recovery…

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

My posting schedule has been a little off this week (and will be next week, as well- given February kicks off next Friday!) The days leading up to and following my birthday are always a little crazy and hectic since I have such a big family and my friends are scattered around Massachusetts and New England. My time is always stretched a bit thin since people come and visit, I’m going out to meet friends for birthday-related fun- and also working full-time. It leaves little time for blogging this time of year!

Tonight is one of the last birthday celebrations planned for me as far as I know- and it involves eating lots of Chinese Food and cake with my mom, my older brothers, my sister-in-law and my niece! Then it’s nothing but sleep, catching up on e-mails, touching up my hair on Saturday- and heading to Salem on Sunday for my friend Phill’s annual ‘Royal Rumble’ party. Always such a good time.

The past few days have been a lot of fun- with the exception of a crazy snowstorm, single digit temperatures and a lot of rain. My actual birthday was a really relaxing affair- mainly because after I had left my office for the day- Troy treated me to dinner and a “Spa Night” at East Heaven in Northampton. I got to completely unwind during a soak in an outdoor hot tub (and despite the cold weather- it wasn’t bad at all) and an hour long massage. Absolute bliss!

He’s a gem.

My co-workers surprised me with a dozen of my favorite doughnuts, my best friend surprised me with a pink frosted cake (pictured above) and other friends loaded me up with carbs earlier this week during a surprise luncheon. If people thought the holidays were the time of year where everyone threw their diets out the window- they haven’t seen anything yet!

With January winding down next week (already?!)– I’m in the process of putting together my favorite things from this month to share next week, as well as writing up a summary of the beginning of the year for my “In a Nutshell” post that should be up next Thursday. I’ve also got a Super Bowl to prepare for following that absolutely INSANE Patriots/Chiefs game this past Sunday- so expect some fun, party-friendly recipes in the coming days.

I want to thank everyone again who texted, called, e-mailed, or dropped me a line on social media for my birthday! I know Tuesdays are pretty much the worst day of the week by default- but my birthday was still wonderful and I’m very appreciative of all the love and warm wishes!

By the way- there’s still time to enter my birthday giveaway!

Enjoy your weekend, everyone! I’ll see you all next week!

xx

– Ashley –

Belated Birthdays, Galentines Day and Dinner Dates…

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! After a particularly grueling work week (for me, it was filled with meetings and making deadlines in-between those meetings)– it’s nice to see the light at the end of the tunnel known as an upcoming three-day weekend! I’m just excited about being able to sleep in for a morning, maybe do a bit of local adventuring- and getting some things done around my place!

Work aside, this past week was a lot of fun- having kicked off with a surprise Belated-Birthday-Party for yours truly that was thrown by some of my friends I hadn’t seen since last month, right before I’d gone off gallivanting around the West Coast! We had a really great dinner, listened to music, played some highly competitive video games- and indulged in my favorite type of cake (complete with crazy candles!)– red velvet!

And while I can’t say for sure who wrote the message to me in the frosting- I think I have a pretty good idea who was behind it…

Of course, this week was all about Valentine’s Day (and the equally important and undeniably way more fun Galentine’s Day holiday on February 13th!) and despite currently dating-around-but-not-seeing-anyone-exclusively situation I’m currently in- I felt festive and made it a point to touch up my nails- which had long since been destroyed since my last legitimate manicure in San Diego a few weeks ago while I was visiting for my birthday.

They’re still in good shape as I type away right now- so I’m pretty happy! Look how cute they came out!

And in preparation for the official day of cheesy romantic anecdotes and lovey-dovey gestures, one of my exquisite gentlemen friends invited me over to cook me dinner and watch a movie together at his apartment on Tuesday night- an impromptu date which included wine, flowers, and candles.

I couldn’t resist snapping a photo before we sat down. It was legitimately too cute (and the food was really good, too!) Of course, neither one of us- both overly sarcastic- could stomach a romantic comedy after a couple of glasses of wine. Instead, we opted for Tom Cruise’s “American Made”- which was actually very good! Gritty, a little dark- but funny and entertaining nonetheless.

Today also happens to be the Chinese New Year- and in celebration of the Year of The Dog- I’ll be cuddling up with mine after work today and enjoying some takeout crab rangoon and Lo Mein. I’ll also be bumping this Spring-inspired playlist I put together on my 8Tracks Account during some downtime this week.

If you’d like to give it a listen, it’s linked right here! The track listing is below!

– Far Out\Thaw Out [Spring 2018] Tracklisting –

  1. Vance Joy – Lay It On Me
  2. Birdy Bardot – Black Mirror
  3. James Bay – Wild Love
  4. MGMT – Me and Michael
  5. Franz Ferdinand – Feel The Love Go
  6. Dani Bell & The Tarantist – Crave
  7. Brian Fallon – Etta James
  8. The Killers – The Way It Was

Enjoy your weekend, everyone! See you next week!

xx

– Ashley –

January 2018: In a Nutshell

Ocean Beach, San Diego. 1/21/18

Good Morning and Happy “Hump Day”, everyone! I’ve managed to dig myself out from beneath the latest snowfall here in Massachusetts to get into boss babe mode at work, re-pack my suitcase for Las Vegas this weekend, and reflect upon this past month. With five Mondays- January may have felt like an eternity to get through to some- but for me, it was pretty busy, and a little crazy, and sorta’ fast-paced- in mostly the right ways!

The month- and year- started off peacefully enough- with a weekend spent at a quaint bed & breakfast in New Hampshire with my best friend to bid farewell to 2017. But, once I was home and back to work- that’s when the real excitement started. There were blizzards, birthdays, and appearances by The Killers (and that was all within the first week!)

I spent time at an incredibly bright and flower-filled art exhibit here in Boston before eventually working my way out West in the middle of the month to kick-off an extended weekend in San Diego to celebrate my birthday. This is where things got a little tricky- because while I had an amazing time in the sunshine and had the opportunity to catch up with longtime friends I hadn’t seen in months- one of my friends got really sick with a flu that had been going around about halfway through my stay. His being down for the count as he tried to recover threw off some scheduled birthday plans- and my trip ended on a much calmer and much quieter note than I had anticipated.

I tried to make the best of it, though. With half-priced margaritas in the afternoons (Happy Hour is illegal in Massachusetts- just a little not-so-fun FYI- so I fully embraced it as much as possible!) and views like this everywhere you turned- who could feel sad for too long?

When I returned from California last week, my family and some of my local friends from around home made sure that I knew they didn’t forget my birthday while I was away. With dinners, cards, and a pretty funny cake (thanks, Mom)– I feel just as loved at 32 as I did when I was 22. Even more astonishing as that the celebration isn’t even done, yet! Before I leave for Vegas, more of my extended family want to treat me to another party- and when I come home from my second voyage to the West Coast- my friends have another get-together planned for me.

I used to worry sometimes that getting older wouldn’t be so fun or as appealing as it seemed to be when I was younger- but the people in my life have made sure that it is and I’m so, so grateful to them for it.

Side Note: A lot of people who follow this blog and my social media accounts sent such lovely, encouraging, funny, and kind messages before, during and in the days following my birthday- and words can’t even begin to describe how much it meant to me. From the bottom of my heart- thank you all! I truly appreciated all the love. It was overwhelming in the best way possible!

Courtesy of my Mother.

And finally, this past weekend- in honor of the WWE’s ‘Royal Rumble’- I headed to my friend Phill’s annual PPV party in an Alexa Bliss costume (with color coordinated cupcakes in tow!) to watch the show, stuff my face, participate in the pool we had going- and compete for our “Best Party Snack” prize- the Snack-Down Championship Belt.

While my cupcakes didn’t score me the title- I was pretty content that the “People’s Elbow Macaroni & Cheese” won- because it was delicious!

We are so nerdy and I absolutely love it.

So what do I have planned for February? Vegas, baby! I head out this coming weekend to visit with friends from Nevada, catch my beloved Pats in the Super Bowl, and maybe see a show or two before it’s back home to work in-between planned day trips to NYC, sharing some Valentine’s Day-inspired recipes, showcasing more pieces from my wardrobe and trying to get through these last few weeks of Winter unscathed.

And to kick things off in February? I’ll have a recipe post later up this week (Super Bowl appropriate!) before I hop my plane on Saturday morning.

Hang in there, everyone- the week is almost over!

xx

– Ashley –

Wonderful, Wonderful…

Have you ever had a weekend that was so action-packed and busy that you needed a full week to recover from it, and before you knew it- it was the weekend again? Well, if not- let me tell you about last Saturday and Sunday.

In the midst of sub-zero temperatures, a group of friends and I had been planning a night out on Saturday to celebrate Sean’s birthday in style. Sean had mentioned wanting to have a big dinner at a local Japanese restaurant¬†(weather permitting)– but with a wind chill advisory in effect and more than one person experiencing car problems when the negative temperatures started affecting their engines/car electronics/sensors- we made do with a board game and pizza night at the apartment in Melrose where everyone could stuff their faces without reservations or judgment and stay warm.

A few slices (and buffalo wings, of course) and a round or two of FLUXX and ‘Code Word’ later- and it was time for coconut cake and singing for Sean with some trick candles that almost made him lose his breath trying to blow them out. Although he won’t own up to his age- I know the truth- and I’m really glad that his night was so special and laid-back. He earned it.

On Sunday, after running some errands- I headed down to TD Garden with my friend Kayla from work to have a few drinks, catch up with a friend of mine from Ireland who was in town working for the night, and see The Killers- who were passing through town for their North American leg of the “Wonderful Wonderful” tour. The show was Kayla’s first time seeing the band- and my 274th (okay, maybe not that exact number- but I have seen those lovely and talented boys from Vegas quite a few times over the last 14 years!)

The set and the visuals during the show were unreal- maybe some of the most elaborate, technical, stunning effects I’d ever seen during any of their concerts. My photos simply don’t do it justice. It was awe-inspiring- and I was thrilled that Kayla got to experience it for the first time when everything looked and sounded so good.

They played new favorites from the latest album and bangers from their previous work- as well as a cover of The Cars’ “Just What I Needed”¬†(as a tribute to Boston!) It was a pretty perfect set from start to finish- made even more memorable by all the confetti and sparklers peppered throughout some of the songs. I had an amazing, unforgettable time- and it definitely ranks up there with one of the Top 10 performances I’ve seen by the guys over the years.

If The Killers are coming to your town during this tour, I highly recommend dropping in to catch their show. You won’t regret it. It’s phenomenal- and so much fun!

Both Kayla and myself got home post-show pretty late, and I’ve been trying to play catch-up on my sleep schedule for the better part of a week while juggling work- so it’s been a very interesting few days, for sure.

I’m looking forward to this weekend- where I will undoubtedly sleep late and start packing for my upcoming trip to San Diego.

Enjoy your Friday, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –