My 10 Favorite Photos From 2019

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! It’s the last “TGIF” of the decade!

I cannot believe that in a few days 2019 will be on it’s way out and we will be welcoming 2020. I am still in the process of *trying* to finalize my New Year’s Eve plans with minimal success- but there’s still a couple of days left to make reservations and book accommodations- so I’m struggling not to lose my mind too much.

I’ll have my annual “Year in Review” post up bright and early on Tuesday morning before I head off to wherever my date for the evening and I end up choosing as our champagne and countdown location- but before I do- I wanted to revisit some of my favorite photographs I’ve snapped over these past twelve months and give a little backstory on each of them!

Narrowing down hundreds of photos from 2019 to just ten was no easy feat- and in-between marveling at just how many interesting places I visited and how many surreal experiences I had this year- I agonized over what pictures to include and what ones to keep in the digital scrapbook.

But I DID emerge with ten photos I am very, very fond of- and am excited to share before I head off for the last round of holiday parties this weekend!

10. Green River Festival (Greenfield – July 2019):

Shortly after moving to the Pioneer Valley in the Spring, I discovered that the famed Green River Festival took place within a short walking/driving distance from my apartment. Having never been but hearing nothing but good things from the locals- I decided to head down on it’s last day to check it out.

I had a great time watching live, local bands/artists perform- eating plenty of snacks from surrounding food trucks and shopping small business vendors who had set up impromptu tented storefronts on the grounds- but the fields itself were vast, rolling, and very picturesque. While looking for some shade so I could sit and listen to the music without getting sunburnt- I snapped this photo of a gigantic tree in the middle of everything- just looming in the distance against the blue sky.

I thought it was absolutely lovely.

9. “Bad Bitch Falls” (New York – August 2019):

When Troy tells you he has a surprise for you and that he’s picking you up for an adventure- you just roll with it. Such was the case in August when, after a successful dance performance in Salem the day before- he thought he’d take me somewhere new and beautiful to celebrate.

Over an hour in the car and one grueling uphill hike over the Massachusetts/New York State Line later- it paid off. Bash Bish Falls remains one of *the* highlights of my Summer and 2019 overall. It was breathtaking, refreshing- and despite there being a ton of people with the same idea coming and going- for a little while it felt like Troy and I were the only two people there.

And that feeling was divine.

8. Hozier, Boston Calling (Boston – May 2019):

After joining the Indie617 on-air team in March- I never in my life expected it would lead to me being considered “MEDIA” at the biggest Boston-based festival of the year. But, sure enough- I was all over the place that weekend- hosting my show from a nearby hotel/restaurant, running around the press area, having drinks with friends and watching some of my favorite artists perform insanely good sets.

I snapped this photo of Hozier from the lighting rig just as the sun was setting- and right before I had to run across the field to catch the opening of Tame Impala’s set from a different stage.

I got plenty of sun, cardio, and possible alcohol poisoning during Boston Calling ’19- and I hope I get to do it again for 2020.

7. Now It’s All Covered in Flowers (Shelburne Falls – June 2019):

The only selfie of 2019 comes courtesy of my best friend Sean, who snapped this photo of me while visiting my new place one weekend during the Summer. While showing him around my neighborhood and surrounding attractions- we stopped at the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls to take photos and dodge a LOT of bees.

While walking near a moss/leaf covered building just across the street from the bridge on our way back to my car- Sean snapped this photo of me in my little black and pink floral dress with the impressive backdrop behind me.

I always liked how bright and vibrant the colors were in this picture- and I wish I could have made it back in the Fall  to see the difference the season made.

6. Spider Gates (Leicester – October 2019):

While highlighting some of the creepier, more notorious areas in New England this past Fall- I made a stop at the famed Spider Gates cemetery as I was en route to visit my mom. One of the oldest Quaker cemeteries in Massachusetts- Spider Gates has a chilling (but long since debunked) history of the supernatural.

When I visited in October, however- I was the only one there- which is highly unusual given it’s a popular attraction leading up to Halloween. The grounds were- admittedly- a little eerie, and I ended up getting out of there a little quicker than normal after I’d snapped some photos.

This one, showing the entrance gates and the alleged “hanging tree” overhead- was one of my favorites.

5. Hiking Mount Grace (Warwick – January 2019):

A few days after New Year’s of 2019, Massachusetts experienced our annual “January Thaw”- where the temperatures get a little warmer than usual and any accumulated snow begins to melt. The result is typically rainy, foggy mornings/afternoons.

I went hiking that weekend at Mount Grace- and captured this photo of myself crossing a rather rickety wooden bridge over a rising stream of melted snow and rainwater with the remnants of the Fall leaves passing through. Out of all the pictures of snow-covered trees, mossy rocks and storm clouds I had managed to collect- this one was my favorite- because it reminds me of my favorite king of weather here in New England.

4. Orchard House (Concord – February 2019):

I haven’t seen the new adaptation of “Little Women” yet (although I’ll probably catch it tonight after work or later on this weekend)– but back in February I decided to visit Louisa May Alcott’s home on a whim for a tour and to snap some photos of it’s gorgeous and historic exterior.

If you’re ever in Concord- which is a beautiful town all on it’s own- this cozy little home is a must see. I’m sure with the success of the revamped movie it’ll see an influx of tourists flocking into town to experience it for themselves- but don’t let that stop you. It’s a piece of history and the staff there are extremely friendly and kind.

3. The Eyrie House Ruins (Holyoke – October 2019):

I love this photo for a lot of reasons. Not only because I love abandoned and creepy places- and not only because the story of how this hotel burned down to nothing but ruins in 1901 is a borderline comedy- but because I almost died hiking to get there and this photo is a sort of testament to my own strength and resilience.

Following a heavy rainfall in October, I began the longest and steepest hike of my life to the summit of Mount Tom to photograph the ruins. Soaked, slipping, and out of breath by the time I got there- I was ready to just collapse and curl up- but the ruins were worth the trouble and I had the best time exploring them and taking photos.

Next time I’m wearing proper hiking boots, though.

2. The Stolen Artwork (Boston – March 2019):

There are a lot of places in the Greater Boston area that I have yet to visit- and in 2019 I wanted to scratch a few of them off my Bucket List- starting with the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum where I got to see the empty frames that held still missing artwork- stolen from the museum back in 1990.

Although the museum was absolutely packed the day that I went- I had a wonderful time- and caught this photo without interruption despite the crowds. The galleries are beautiful and I could have easily spent hours longer in there admiring the art and the indoor courtyard- which made even a frigid March day feel like the middle of May.

1. MASS MoCA (North Adams – October 2019):

And finally, on another one of my “Troy said we’re going on an adventure” outings- this shot was taken in the stairwell of MASS MoCA on a rainy October afternoon. Despite all the art, all the intricate paintings and sculptures and prints and designs around the museum- this shot of the building while I stood in the stairwell with Troy was one of my favorite moments of that day and of 2019 because I was so indescribably happy at the time.

That, and MASS MoCA is a beautiful building in a beautiful town.

It had been a perfect day.

________________________________________

And there you have it- my ten favorite photos from 2019!

I’m hoping to have even more photos to choose from in 2020, since I intend to take my camera with me wherever I go- but for now I’m just going to reflect on these ones I’ve chosen for this year and remember how many good times and good trips I’ve had so far.

I’m off to get some work done and prepare for the very, very busy days ahead. Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

I’ll see you all again on New Year’s Eve!

xx

– Ashley –

May 2019: In a Nutshell

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

We’ve made it to another weekend- and we’re leaving another month behind us! It’s hard to believe that June is here and we’re halfway through 2019 already. There’s still so much I want to accomplish and do before Winter creeps up on us again- and now the pressure is really on since Summer is pretty much here now!

I plan to do a mid-year “check in” regarding my New Year’s Resolutions, goals, aspirations, etc. now that we’re a few hours shy from being six months into 2019- but before I do that- I wanted to focus on taking a look back on May.

This past month has been one of the busiest, most surreal, exciting and unexpected for me- filled with big life changes, travel, a festival for good measure- and lots of time with friends and family. I’m still in a bit of a daze that these past few weeks happened- but when I think about them, I can’t help but smile!

The biggest and probably most important thing to happen in May was that I packed up and left my life and nearly everything I’ve ever known as a city girl behind- choosing instead to move out to the more rural, picturesque and “rustic” Pioneer Valley to forge a new chapter in my life and be a bit more independent while living on my own. I’ve only been here for a couple of weeks- but I truly love it here and I have lots of fun posts planned as I continue to familiarize myself with my new neighborhood and all it’s quirky attractions.

I had posted some photos of my apartment in the “bare bones” stage just hours after my move in- but I’m expecting the last of my furniture to arrive in the days ahead so be prepared for a LOT of home decor talk on here and my social media in June! I’ve got a Pinterest account and an empty shopping cart on Etsy- and I know how to use them.

Cambridge, MA. May 25th.

Just prior to that, I spent a week in Nevada- with a road trip to San Diego to see White Lies perform mixed in– with my West Coast Wife, Kelsey- and her husband and little girl. My days were super relaxing, laid-back, and filled with air conditioning, binge-watching true crime dramas and lots of good food- which is how all vacations should be, really. I couldn’t have asked for a better stay and I am so excited to head back there this Fall.

And then there was Boston Calling- where I stopped by last Saturday to spend time with my Indie617 crew, my good friend Steven who was in town- and see some incredible artists while the sun was shining bright. I had the most perfect day while I was there- and I can’t wait to gush all about it during my show tomorrow at the station (from 12-4 PM EST!)

I’m already speculating about next year’s lineup- that’s how eager I am to do it all over again!

And as always- there were plenty of dinners and celebrations at my mom’s house, with my friends in and around the city- and in the Valley as well.

I’m hoping to carry some of this momentum with me into June. I’m already kicking things off with a visit from my BFF Sean- who is coming to stay for the weekend so I can show him around my place and my neighborhood- and the 16th season of PaintBox kicks off near the end of the month- which I have been tirelessly preparing for and am so thrilled and anxious to see just how all the hard work myself and all of the cast and crew have put in these past few months pays off (fingers crossed!)

I also intend to show off some of the Valley here on Blondie Birdie, share some recipes from my sparkling new kitchen- and give a glimpse into some of my favorite Summer ensembles now that warmer days and sunshine are- hopefully– on the way!

Here’s to May- and June being just as lovely for all of us!

I hope you all have a wonderful, fun and safe weekend ahead. I’ll be back on Monday to get the Summer season going!

xx

– Ashley –

“Here Comes The Calling…”

Good Morning, Happy Monday- and Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

My goodness, what a weekend I’ve had- and because today is a holiday and I have the day off from work as a result- I am absolutely looking forward to decompressing and taking it easy. I’ve got some laid back lunch/shopping plans with my mom during the day, and then a movie date a little later on tonight (I’m finally seeing “John Wick 3” and I couldn’t be more excited about it!)

I’ll also be sporadically applying aloe vera throughout the day since I got a teeny, tiny sunburn from Saturday. Come to find out- me, the Queen of SPF 50- managed to forget to apply a good amount to my collarbone area and upper arms in the frenzy that was Boston Calling. Not my proudest moment- but the redness and soreness will definitely serve as a painful reminder for next time. *DON’T* forget to apply sunscreen!

Yes, this past Saturday was an absolute whirlwind of incredible music, delicious food, and good times among friends. I spent my day at Boston Calling with the Indie617 crew and my dear friend Steven, who was in town to do lights for Hozier at the festival- and I had the absolute best time ever.

Things kicked off with a little patio pre-party from 12-2 at Casa Caña in Cambridge- where I broadcast my show, soaked up the sun and grooved to good tunes before it was time to make my way over to the Harvard University Athletics Complex- which is where the festival is now housed after moving from City Hall Plaza a couple of years ago.

From there, my day was spent hanging out with Steven where we got to walk around, catch up, and stuff our faces with our favorite festival must-have- the “BBQ Bomb” from The Smoke Shop BBQ. It’s essentially a waffle cone filled with meat, mac and cheese, beans and coleslaw- and it’s life-changing. Steven and I discovered them last year at Boston Calling when he was in town with The Killers- and it was pretty much the number one thing on our itinerary this past Saturday afternoon.

I also spent time at the Indie617 media tent where lots of great artist interviews and coverage was taking place throughout the three days of the festival (which wrapped up last night with a closing performance by Travis Scott.) The photos and videos will be up on the Indie617 website- but you can also peep our social media for clips and behind the scenes footage that we shot during the event.

There was also beer. A lot of beer- which is always appreciated on hot days. I work with an incredibly talented, eager, hard-working and super fun team of people at the station and I’m so unbelievably grateful to be apart of their ranks and to be able to participate in unbelievably cool events like this with them.

And, just a reminder- but you can listen to me on Saturdays from 12-4 PM (EST). I return to the studio this coming weekend! Download our free app or stream online at our website to listen!

And then there were the artists- and what an incredible lineup Saturday had. Clairo, Mitski, Hozier (and I had the best seat in the house to see the whole, stunning performance!) and Tame Impala’s mindblowing set to close out the evening. I sang along. I danced- shamelessly- and managed to take a few good photos when the moment was right!

As always, if you’d like to make any of the images below bigger- simply click on them!

It truly was an awesome day/night and I cannot wait to do it again next year.

That just about does it for me today, since I have to get on the road to go meet with my mom and start our adventure for the day. With May coming to an end this week (!!!) I’m going to be taking a look at some of my favorite things from this past month- before wrapping it up with a neat little look-back/recap on Friday morning.

I hope you all have a safe, sunny and fun-filled Monday. It’s the unofficial start of the Summer- so let’s get through this short week together!

xx

– Ashley –

May 2018: In a Nutshell

Good Morning and Happy Thursday, everyone! The weekend is so close we can practically reach out and touch it!

I am admittedly feeling pretty under the weather today. Ever since I got back from D.C., I’ve been battling a somewhat tough-as-nails flu that has rendered me essentially helpless and useless for the past 48+ hours. I’m hoping it breaks before the weekend so I’m not bedridden during my days off- but we’ll see! I’ve got plenty of things to binge On-Demand and on Netflix if it doesn’t.

But enough jumping ahead! This post is about jumping backwards (a little) and taking a nice, long and loving look at the month of May, 2018- and what a month it was!

In perhaps what proved to be one of my busiest, bustling, most jam-packed few weeks ever- May started off with a bang when my friends and I ditched work for a day to kick off the Summer slightly early at Singing Beach- and set off on a seasonal mission to try as many new restaurants and bars as possible (Citrus & Salt is a hit, by the way!)

Mother’s Day was spent brunching and shopping with my mom, and with the warm weather finally here to stay for a while- I spent more time working out/exercising outdoors (when we weren’t having tornado watches, anyway.) Thankfully- storms didn’t blow us away- but the Editors sure did during their show at the Paradise Rock Club on May 16th! Soooo good!

Romantics everywhere celebrated the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle while Bostonians everywhere mourned the ends of the seasons for both the Bruins and Celtics. Let’s go Golden Knights!

But of course, this past weekend and all the crazy fun that came with it was the perfect way to round out May. It started last Wednesday night- when my friend from Ireland came into town to have dinner and do some sightseeing while we caught up since we’d last seen each other in Vegas back in February. It was beautiful outside, which made the night even better- and that weather carried all the way over into Friday- which was also Day 1 of the Boston Calling Music Festival.

I was fortunate enough to have a VIP pass, and seized the opportunity to see acts like Portugal, The Man – Paramore, The National, and my favorite boys by way of fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada- The Killers! The whole day/night was absolute magic. I couldn’t stop smiling. Here are a few of my favorite photos I snapped of the scene with my phone (Click to Enlarge!)

It should be noted that one of those photos is of the “BBQ Bomb” they were selling at The Smoke Shop BBQ’s tent- which was a waffle cone filled with beans, queso mac & cheese, and pulled pork. It may have been one of the best things I’ve ever purchased (or ever ate, really.)

Come Saturday morning, it was off to Logan International to catch a quickie flight to Washington D.C. to spend Memorial Day weekend with my friend Duncan (formerly of San Diego- and now based in Chicago!) who I hadn’t seen since the last time we were in D.C. together a couple of years ago to attend a friend of his’ wedding ceremony. The warm weather held up for most of the weekend- save for a couple of showers and scattered thunderstorms- which was nice.

I forgot how beautiful and clean many section of D.C. were- and although certain parts of the city (particularly the monuments) were pretty packed in the afternoons- by nighttime everyone had cleared out and I was able to do some serious tourist-y stuff like walk the entire Mall to the Capitol Building and Supreme Court without seeing another soul for hours. It was pretty amazing- and the pictures I took speak for themselves!

While we were in town, we caught a showing of “Shear Madness” at the Kennedy Center, which was SO much fun- and I made sure to make stops at Arlington Cemetery to pay my respects and the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery to see the amazing new portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama before I had to head back home and beat the post-holiday traffic on Monday morning.

It was such a lovely weekend- and I took a lot of photos along the way. Below are some of my favorites! (Click to Enlarge!)

So what’s in store for June when I’m feeling better? More travel and beach days, I’m hoping! More Summer fashion and awesome cookout recipes, definitely- and maybe seeing some familiar faces who will be in the area over the next couple of weeks!

But until then- here’s to May- which was wildly fun and unexpected. Here’s to this coming weekend being filled with endless possibilities- and here’s to me beating this awful cold once and for all!

Have a beautiful, fantastic weekend, everyone! See you all next week!

xx

– Ashley –

Festival Survival: The Essentials

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Today is a busy one for me. I’ve got work, meetings, and dinner plans with a friend of mine visiting from outside the country who is here for this coming weekend’s Boston Calling Festival. I’ll be at the show bright and early on Friday- but then it’s off to Washington D.C. on Saturday!

Preparing for a day out in the sun, listening to some great bands and artists got me thinking about ‘Festival Essentials’, though. If you’ve got Instagram, then chances are your feed was being overwhelmed by posts from Coachella this year. Loads of pretty people wearing some seriously impractical outfits (and flower crowns) in the sweltering Indio heat. Sure, it looked great in photos- but how did it feel after a couple of hours? Probably not great, I’d imagine.

Inspired, I came up with some items that I consider to be reasonable and comfortable must-haves when it comes to braving those outdoor Spring/Summer music festivals- and things I’ll personally have on me when I roll into Boston Calling on Friday!

And while I’m sure dressing up in tulle, leather, or suede with lots of fringe is a good time- I’ll be sticking to a breathable pair of cotton shorts and a lightweight t-shirt, thanks! I want to be able to dance!

First and foremost- ditch the wedge sandals or the stilettos and settle on a practical and comfortable pair of sneakers, ankle boots or flats. You’re going to be standing for hours on end- or, if it rains- you’re going to want to keep as much material between your toes and the muddy ground as possible. Think support and think fitted insoles to absorb moisture and to keep the inside of your shoes from getting ruined..

I’ll be sporting this pair of moccasins I bought solely for flying (slip on/off = quicker TSA checkpoint time) and for standing for long periods of time. They’re soft, lined, and cushioned at the bottom- so my feet stay cozy and dry for as long as I have these on!

The second most important thing after reasonable shoes? Sunscreen. The higher the SPF the better. If you’re going to be roasting under the sun for an afternoon while you wait for your favorite band to take the stage- then you need to go all out and protect yourself from damaging UV rays that could cause skin cancer (and/or a seriously painful burn!)

I live for this spray-on SPF50 from Trader Joe’s- which makes applying/re-applying sunscreen during the day a lightweight and mess-free breeze. It’s not greasy or sticky, and doesn’t clog your pores. It just sinks in like water.

Speaking of H20- you need. to. stay. hydrated. I know the idea of spending $14 on a bottle of water is ridiculous (and it truly is)– but dehydration and heat stroke are serious business and need to be prevented at all costs. If security is strict and won’t let you bring your own bottle inside the venue- then splurge on one and seek out options for free re-fills. Some vendors will have a “one time purchase/unlimited refills” policy- so take advantage of it!

I’m not gonna’ sweat shame- because we all do it and it’s nothing to feel gross about- but if you’re looking for a quick and easy refresher to cool yourself off and make yourself smell a little nicer for when you’re huddled in a crowd with hundreds of strangers- then I highly recommend carrying a pack of deodorant wipes with you.

These ones from Pacifica have been a long-time favorite of mine. They smell crisp, clean and a little tropical- but they also soften and hydrate your underarm area so that you feel even more refreshed and are more inclined to throw your arms up during that one song you really, really like.

I, frankly, don’t have the time or the patience to apply a full face of makeup that I’m going to sweat off right away- so I keep it simple when I’m headed to a festival. A tinted moisturizer with sunscreen mixed in (of course!)– a hydrating lip balm, and a lightweight cream-to-powder eye shadow in a neutral tone to brighten my eye area for when I’m posing for that selfie by the side of the stage is really all I need to get by.

This coconut balm and shimmery beige shadow from Sephora keep me looking glossy (not sweaty) and put together. Add a couple of swipes of waterproof mascara and you’ve got an effortless look that won’t be running down your face by the end of the night.

And it goes without saying- but bring a pair of sunglasses. Even if it’s just to hide your tears when that one band plays that song that reminds you of your ex. You’re taking steps to protect your skin during this adventure- so you gotta’ remember to protect those peepers, too!

And when I know that electrical outlets may be scarce- I like to bring a portable charger with me to plug my phone into when it starts losing juice but I need to keep it up and running. This one- from Triple C- is the size of a tube of lipstick and can get my battery life up considerably in under an hour. I just connect it to my phone, tuck the phone into my purse- and let it work it’s magic.

And finally- bring a bag that is big enough to carry everything- but small enough to carry around comfortably. I typically use a small, drawstring backpack, my cross-body bag, or this mid-sized beach tote slung over my shoulder. The magnetic clasp sewn into the inside keeps my belongings secure and doesn’t weigh me down.

I also try to keep a big hat with me to protect my scalp from burning under the sun, too. It’s an area that often gets overlooked while we’re slathering on the SPF on our bodies and faces- but it can burn just as easily, too! This wide-brimmed hat was a purchase from Primark a couple of Summers ago for a beach weekend I had planned with friends- but it’s held up since then- and is still consistently useful!

And those, my lovelies- are my “Festival Essentials”- for a carefree and comfortable day out in the sun with other fans listening to music we love. I’m so excited for Friday!

If you’ve got your own Festival Essentials (I do love a good recommendation!) that you’d like to share- feel free!

But for now, I’m off to get to work. Enjoy your Hump Day, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –