Does It Spark Joy?

Does It Spark Joy?

Good Afternoon and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it to another weekend!

I’m on my lunch break and am admittedly running on fumes today. The past few days have been busy and the past few nights have been late and long- but I’ve been having such fun with friends and with being productive at a couple of my side jobs/projects. Tonight, to treat myself after work- I’ll be grabbing burgers and catching a screening of “Captain Marvel” with my crew from the office- and then I fully intend to rest and relax this coming weekend!

Amid the busy-ness this week, I’ve also gotten a head start on my Spring cleaning and have been using what little downtime I’ve had to clean out closets, bins, bags, etc. I’ve adopted the Marie Kondo “does it spark joy?” philosophy and have been putting together clothes/shoes for donations, tossing old or expired makeup, and getting rid of knick-knacks around my personal space that have been doing little more than collecting dust.

I’ve also been working on/off on keeping things tidy over here at ‘”Blondie Birdie.” That includes going through and testing links to make sure they still work properly, verifying that images are displaying correctly, getting caught up on e-mails and updating all of my contact information.

That includes finally opening a Facebook page for the blog. You can VIEW AND FOLLOW IT HERE. I promise, I won’t spam anyone with “Fit Tea” advertisements or invites to weird Pay-To-Play games. It’ll strictly be blog-related content!

In a couple of weeks I’m going to be linking my side projects here on the blog, as well- for those who want to participate or check in on all the craziness in the Pioneer Valley theater scene AND on the airwaves in Boston!

But that’s it for me this week. I’ve got to finish up at work. Thanks for everyone’s patience during the process. I’m looking forward to sharing a more streamlined and organized “Blondie Birdie”- with so much more fun content!

Enjoy your weekend, everybody!

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 –

Pineapple Prize Pack – Birthday Giveaway!

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

As I dig my way out of the ice and snow from yesterday’s visit by Winter Storm Harper and prepare to return to work for the first time since my car accident on Thursday night- I thought I’d kick off the week on a high note and share a giveaway I had planned as a bit of a pre-celebration for my birthday tomorrow (yes, tomorrow.)

Given that Massachusetts and most of New England are presently frozen over and the temperatures are going to remain in the single digits today- it seems fitting to have a warm-weather, Summer-inspired giveaway to lighten and brighten the mood! I’ve been on a bit of a pineapple kick as of late, and thought I’d put together some of my favorite things (and some surprises, of course) for one lucky winner!

With the help of Rafflecopter to keep things organized and fair when it comes time to randomly select a winner- this giveaway is currently open to those residing within the United States, Canada, Mexico and the U.K!

Before I get to the rules and how to enter- let’s take a look at what I’m giving away, first- shall we?

First things first- this striped black and white tote bag (with a bright pineapple printed on the side) to store all of your things- and then some! Despite the fact that it’s the dead of Winter right now- I feel like this tote would match most wardrobes this time of year since you can’t go wrong with black and white!

The pineapple is just a bright, fun splash of color to mix it up a little- and honestly- don’t we all need that when the temperatures drop?

A lot of what’s included in this giveaway is decorative and for the home since this is a time of year when a lot of people are planning on remodeling or redecorating their space.

My own home is transitioning into a Southwestern and tropical theme right now- with cactus print and bright colors to keep things cheerful- and I thought the winner would enjoy having some bright pops of color in their kitchen with this set of dishwasher and microwave-safe sturdy plastic plates and bowls (2 of each.)

Of course, no Blondie Birdie giveaway would be complete without a Yankee Candle (a New England tradition!) included- and keeping up with the theme of this assortment of items- I chose their Williamsburg Pineapple scented large jar candle to feature for this one.

I have a smaller version of this candle burning in my bedroom right now- and it smells lovely, clean, and crisp. It’s a nice change from the pine and Christmas cookie-scented ones I had burning throughout December!

I’m not sure how many of you are 21+, but for those who enjoy a strong adult beverage as much as I do- I included these gold metallic pineapple shot glasses to make your next brunch or girls-night-in a little prettier, Summer-y and fun. Best of all? When they’re not being used for drinking- they can be put on display and not necessarily hidden away in your cabinets.

And for those who aren’t 21+ or don’t like to drink- these hold other beverages just fine, too!

Wrapping up the home decor for this giveaway, I included this metal pineapple platter and yellow ceramic votive candle holder- too! Obviously, these can be placed around your home separately- but I like the way they look together (I’m very much into silver and bright yellows this time of year.)

And, just a warning- the silver platter is on the heavier side- so if you win it, just be mindful of where you place it! I recommend a hard, flat surface that can hold some weight.

Finally, to brighten up your Winter wardrobe and include an easy to incorporate (and very easy to match) accessory into your day- I added this multicolored, lovely, super comfortable wrap headband into the mix, too.

I have this style in a plaid print- and I love it- especially on days where I’m running errands and just want to keep my curls off of my face for a little while.

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And as I said earlier- there will be a couple of other surprises added in before I ship this off to the lucky winner- but I’ve got a couple of important rules/specific information for any and all participants to take into consideration!

The giveaway is running from now through midnight (EST) on Friday, February 1st, 2019- after which time a winner will be selected at random through Rafflecopter and contacted directly via e-mail to obtain additional information to process shipping (which I’ll be paying for!) 

If selected, you’ll have 72 hours to respond to the confirmation e-mail. If I don’t receive a response in that time, I’ll unfortunately have to select another winner, instead.

Nothing in this giveaway can be traded or swapped for something else. What you see is what you’ll be receiving if you win!

If all of that sounds good and there are no additional questions/concerns- then this is the moment you’ve been waiting for!

HOW TO ENTER:

First and foremost- please visit the Rafflecopter page for the giveaway by CLICKING HERE to make sure your entry is properly counted!

1. Comment on this post with your first name and e-mail address. (Please keep in mind that I have comment moderation turned on to avoid spambots- so if your comment doesn’t appear right away- don’t panic! I’ll put it through as soon as I’m able!)

2. You can tweet about the giveaway and link back directly to this post or to my homepage: BlondieBirdie.com

That’s it! Just two simple steps and you’re in!

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I look forward to selecting a winner and sending them this prize pack. I’m also looking forward to celebrating my birthday tomorrow with friends, family, and co-workers (no taking the day off for me!)

I’d like to thank everyone who has sent well wishes in advance over the past couple of days- both for my birthday and as I recover from Thursday night’s accident. I’m feeling much better and am being taken very good care of by my insurance company (and my mom- who made me a care package for my sore back!) so I’m very grateful and appreciative. It means the world to me!

Good luck to those who enter- and let’s have a good week, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

Dinner Parties and Resolutions…

Good Morning and Happy “Hump Day”, everyone!

I hope you’re all having a fabulous week so far. I, personally, have been enjoying a little downtime following last week’s insane amount of work, hustle and back-to-back commitments! It’s nice to have a little time to catch up on some of the things on my “to watch” list on Netflix, curl up with a good book of magazine, play some video games- or mix all three with friends during a bundled up dinner party and game night like I did this past weekend when it was too cold to go outside- so we opted for some indoor fun, instead!

Our menu was simple but filling- wheat linguine with chicken and vegetables tossed in a cream sauce with some garlic bread. It was just so nice to stay warm and toasty and eat together, goof around, and catch-up with one another since it’s been undoubtedly crazy and non-stop movement since the holidays!

Which brings me to the point of this post- staying organized and sticking to goals! I know we all go into the New Year with the best of intentions, big goals/aspirations and earnestly plan to fully commit to achieving them- but by mid-to-late January we might pause and ask ourselves “wait, I have to do this for the whole year?”

I know I certainly get like that- which was a contributing factor to my not reaching some of the resolutions I had set for myself in 2018… And 2017…. And maybe 2016…

… You get the picture.

But while I’m usually holding my head in my hands and sighing in disbelief at my own lack of commitment by this time every year- I’ve actually found a lot of success by implementing one or two different techniques into my daily routine these past couple of weeks- and also by making just a few small, minor changes in how I do/approach things and which don’t disrupt my life in any capacity.

I figured I’d list them here- in the hopes they may help someone else reach their goals, too!

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Invest in a planner- and note it daily. We’re all digital these days- and everything we need to do/want to do is made even more convenient with the click of a button or an app- but I’ve found that writing things down in a planner (and picking out a pretty one is half the fun!) not only keeps me from forgetting important dates/times/due dates/plans that I may otherwise overlook while navigating through multiple applications I have open on my phone/computer at any given time- but there’s something really satisfying about crossing off the things I’ve accomplished each day as I go!

Additionally, I set small goals for myself at the beginning of each month and write them down in my planner, as well. It can be something as simple as renewing my passport before my birthday to something a bit more challenging- like running for a longer distance than what I’m used to when I go for a jog or doing 100 more squats- but having them in writing is a daily reminder that I have something to work towards. And, if I don’t want to have to do them the following month on top of other things I end up jotting down- I’m more inclined to accomplish them!

Build and commit to a schedule and a time frame that boosts your productivity: My job can get absolutely crazy sometimes- i.e., the holidays- and throughout 2018 I found myself getting overwhelmed, irritable, and coming into the office earlier/staying later than I or anyone else should ever have to do because I wanted to get things done. It ended up burning me out and really wearing me down- until I tried a trick a friend (who also has a pretty hectic office job) taught me.

I developed a time frame for every work day and dedicated certain tasks to fit into those time frames. They are the only things I focus on/get done until time is up and I move onto the next designated block of time/tasks. For example, I go into work at 7:30 a.m. From then until 9 a.m. I am drafting legal paperwork (and listening to music) since it’s the only time of day where my phone isn’t ringing off the hook and I can focus.

From 9 until 11, I am making calls and responding to e-mails, and from 11-1 I’m going through tasks, cleaning up files, etc. until I take a lunch break at 1- return at 2- and close out the last couple of hours of my day finishing up anything I didn’t get to in the morning. Since I started adhering to this semi-strict time allowance- I’ve been able to leave on time and not have to worry about things not being done- and it’s been amazing,

Factor in self-care and healthy choices, too: Of course, setting specific times and tasks for those times doesn’t just include work or office duties- but good choices for my body/mind, as well! During work I always make it a point to get up and stretch/take a quick walk and drink plenty of water- and after I leave the office for the day and have a light dinner- I allot a period of time to get some yoga/cycling/cardio in.

It may be Winter, but that doesn’t mean I can’t work out from the comfort of home or the gym!

It’s also crucial for me to schedule in some self-care. Be it catching up on a couple of episodes of a show I’m watching on my couch, taking a bubble bath, coming up with content for the blog, etc. My schedule may not be as strict when I’m not in the office- but it’s important for me to find that time where I can just take a deep breath, unplug from the world, relax and re-center myself.

Don’t beat yourself up- and allow yourself cheat days/days off: Listen, life happens- and things can come up without a moment’s notice that disrupt our schedules and plans- and that’s okay. If a day gets muddled up- it’s not the end of the world and you can start fresh the next day. If I were to say this plan has been implemented perfectly day in and day out without the occasional hiccup or setback along the way, I’d be lying- because sometimes I can be impulsive and run off to do something “just because”- that conflicts with my schedule or things I need to get done- but it hasn’t stopped me and I haven’t given up.

More importantly, you have to give yourself some “cheat days” or some time to indulge- especially those of us looking to be healthier or get into better shape. Don’t deprive yourself of the good, even gluttonous things in life- because you shouldn’t have to be miserable while you’re working hard to achieve your goals. Moderation is key- and if you reward yourself from time to time- it’ll be easier to get back on track than it would be if you didn’t stop to smell the roses (metaphorically, of course) at all.

For me, my “cheat days” or days to do whatever I want are reserved for the weekends- where I’m free to go wherever I want, stay out late without wearing myself out, etc. Then, come Monday- it’s back to work and back to focusing on the things I want to accomplish that month/this year.

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I know it’s still very early on in 2019, but those are the things I’ve been doing as of late and I’ve already seen wonderful results in regards to reaching my goals, better managing my time, increasing my productivity- and cutting down on stress!

I feel if I keep going forward with these tips/tricks and maybe implement new ones along the way- I will remain on top of my game and make 2019 a really successful year!

But, time is money- and I’m at work- so it’s off to get things done and prepare for my half day tomorrow (where I’m cooking up something really delicious for Friday!) and finalize some pre-birthday plans for this weekend!

If you’d like to share some of your own tips/tricks for sticking to your goals, staying organized, and time management- I would absolutely love to hear them! Please feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment.

Have a great rest of your Wednesday, everybody!

xx

– Ashley –

OOTD: Let’s Talk Shop…

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

What a busy week it’s been- and while Friday nights are typically the perfect time to unwind with a bubble bath, a glass of wine and some serious binge-watching on Netflix- my schedule rages on through this weekend!

Tonight after I leave my office, I’ll be throwing on a pair of comfortable shoes and heading over to Down The Road Beer Co. in Everett to catch a set by Salem Wolves (who are unveiling their very own IPA they’ve created with Down The Road!) and Radio Compass as part of indie617’s newest venture- indieBrews! I love good bands and beer- so this is one collaboration I’m particularly excited for.

And then tomorrow, it’s off to Northampton to get started on my work with the lovely folks at Paintbox Theatre before I meet up with friends for dinner and drinks.

With all the traveling and commitments- I don’t have much time to change my wardrobe and usually have to wear something that is both comfortable and chic as I maneuver my way between work, meetings, parties, and events throughout the day/night- all while making sure I stay warm since it’s very, very cold where I live right now.

My current go-to ensemble with busy days like the ones I’ve been having lately are lightweight cotton dresses paired with heavier cardigans or chunky sweaters, thermal tights/leggings, and either ankle boots or modest heels to give me a little more height and accentuate my legs.

When I’m sporting a cardigan over a dress, I tend to only button the very top one so that the sweater doesn’t make me look “boxy” or sloppy. By leaving one button fastened, the sweater frames my body like a cape and doesn’t stifle my shape. It’s very flattering- and keeps me warm!

And, side note- but how lovely is this wool cardigan? I’ve had it for a few years now- and the design is inspired by some of the older Chanel cardigans of the same colors/cuts. It’s very cozy- and matches nearly everything in my Winter wardrobe!

Finally, there’s two things- apart from my keys, wallet and phone- that I never leave home without during these frigid New England months when my schedule is packed- and those things are a heavy beanie hat and my trusted Kate Spade notebook holder so that I can keep all of my paperwork, notes, ideas, etc. in one easy, convenient and cute carrying case.

And as for the hat? I think the little poof ball at the top really ties the whole thing together- don’t you?

All in all, this outfit makes me feel cute, confident and toasty warm- and is easy to wear to my office, post-work events, or to my plans with friends/family out on the town since it’s not *too* dressy but still looks sophisticated enough to command a little respect and attention!

But for now, I’ve got to get some work done before I head out and get started on my very busy weekend. You can follow MY INSTAGRAM for updates from the road as I go!

Here’s hoping you all have a wonderful couple of days ahead- and I’ll be back on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –