Sleigh Bells Ring…

While I have many favorite Holiday traditions I like to participate in year after year with my friends and family- two of them, without fail- always happen earlier in the month when I’m still coming off the fringes of Thanksgiving weekend. I’m talking about visiting the local tree lots and nurseries outside the city- particularly when they’ve only just started putting out their seasonal items and decorations.

To me, it’s the first real taste of Christmas- and the smell of pine needles, mint and spices always puts me in a festive mood and gets me ready to hang up my lights, grab some eggnog, and start wrapping presents. Although I’ve had an artificial tree for as long as I can remember- I’m hoping someday I’ll be able to commit to a real one. I would have done it this year, but I had heard there was a shortage of trees as a result of the recession a few years ago- so spending an insane amount of money on one was out of the question. Maybe next year!

Regardless, I still stopped by Russell’s Garden Center this past weekend to check out their selection (and marvel at their impressive nutcracker collection!)

My other favorite tradition, and the trick is to timing it just right so you can avoid all the pedestrian traffic- is going to see the HUGE Christmas tree in Faneuil Hall and catch one of it’s timed light displays every half hour. Sean and I headed down right before the last display of the evening this past Saturday night- and although there were quite a few people milling around near some of the bars in the area- we were still able to get nice and close to the tree to snap a few uninterrupted photos and videos.

And of course, as is tradition- we met up with our friend Chris and proceeded to start the long walk to and through Boston Common and down the illuminated Commonwealth Avenue. The city always does such an amazing job with the lights- and I know it’s going to look even more beautiful if and when we get the first legitimate snowfall of the season!

I’m looking forward to sharing photos of my own Christmas display after I’ve finished decorating my tree and my windows this coming weekend. They are nowhere near as elaborate as the ones around Boston- but they’re still nice!

But I’ve just got to make it through the rest of this week, first. Halfway there already!

Enjoy your Wednesdays, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

Advertisements

Fall in The Emerald Necklace…

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Before I dive into my caseload for the day and prepare for a couple of meetings I have a little later on in the afternoon- I wanted to share some photos from a recent hiking excursion some friends and I went on over the weekend before the weather took a turn for the Winter-esque earlier this week. I heard there’s a possibility for some snow in the forecast within the next couple of days- and I am not ready for it.

On Sunday, prior to the sudden temperature drop- I headed a few miles outside the city to hike a large portion of the The Emerald Necklace Conservancy and drink in the last glimpses of a Fall. Although my legs have been killing me since I got home- it was worth it. I saw an incredible Bonsai garden, some still bright & bold foliage, the city skyline like I’ve never seen it before- and even some wild turkeys who I think were hiding out until after Thanksgiving is over.

Although sections of the Emerald Necklace aren’t far from me at all- I rarely visit. I’m not sure why, really- but I fully intend on making more frequent stops there in the future. It’s breathtaking!

Here’s a few snapshots I took along the way during my afternoon:

After such a long and strenuous hike, our group managed to keep on walking from the park all the way to Centre Street in Jamaica Plain to grab dinner and coffee at City Feed and Supply– a market and eatery that prides itself on staying local and supporting neighborhood farms/businesses- and which also make some really great sandwiches (the turkey and brie one is my favorite right now!)

If you’re ever in the area- you should definitely drop in and grab a bite to take on the go with you. It’s worth it!

And now, I’ve got some work to do while I bundle up at my desk in my sweaters and jackets!

Have a good one, everybody! We’re almost near the weekend!

xx

– Ashley –

Protests, Roller Coasters and SummerSlam 2017…

Good Morning, everyone! Have all of your eyes adjusted back to normal after looking at the solar eclipse yesterday? I shared a pair of those special protective glasses with some of my co-workers yesterday when we viewed the phenomenon from a clearing outside our office. Pretty neat stuff- even if it didn’t get as dark out as I had thought (and sort of hoped) it would!

Before I launch into what I did this past weekend, I wanted to get serious for just a couple of minutes.

I try not to get too political here on Blondie Birdie. It’s not because I’m not interested in current events and it’s certainly not because I don’t care about what’s happening in the world around me- a peek into any of my social media would disprove that misconception very quickly considering how vocal I am surrounding the issues I care about deeply- but a good portion of the news and politics continues to be depressing, infuriating and downright horrifying 99.999% of the time. For that reason, I try to keep things light here. Not only for my readers and subscribers- but for myself, too. Sometimes it’s nice to have a small corner of the internet to escape to when things are looking bleak and rough literally everywhere else.

I do have to comment on what happened in Boston this past weekend, though- because I was on the sidelines for a brief period of time and couldn’t have been prouder of my city for the display of unity, decency and peaceful protest that sent a message to the world and set a precedent for how to drive out hatred and bigotry when it dares come knocking at your door.

For those of you who didn’t know, a small group of white supremacists/Neo-Nazis/”Alt-Right” enthusiasts had scheduled a “Freedom of Speech” rally in Boston Common on Saturday so they could get away with as much hate speech/rhetoric and propaganda as they wanted. Following the events in Charlottesville just days earlier- Bostonians weren’t going to just let it stand- and the handful of losers who ended up hiding and huddled together with police protection in a gazebo right in the middle of the park were surrounded by 20,000+ peaceful protesters  who came armed with nothing but signs, banners, and chants until the Nazis (and let’s not mince words. They’re Nazis) were eventually escorted out of the area and back to their basements in armored police vehicles while the crowd cheered, clapped and hollered.

Now, the section I was standing in was well-behaved. I’d heard about a couple of people getting riled up and who attempted to start some trouble long after the rally disassembled- but there’s always and inevitably going to be a few bad eggs in groups that large- and they were far outnumbered by good, decent people who knew that Boston’s strength comes from and relies heavily on the diversity of it’s citizens. I was so, so proud of each and every single person who showed up. THAT’S how you get rid of ignorant and hateful cowards.

And if anyone thinks what happened in Boston didn’t change anything or doubts it made a difference- a bunch of scheduled and similar white supremacy rallies around the country were cancelled following what happened in my city. It DOES work.

Candid. Six Flags. 8/19/17

Following my stopping by the Common to voice my support alongside those fighting against inconceivable and poisonous hatred- I wanted to close out my Saturday with something fun and carefree- and headed to Six Flags New England with some friends for the remainder of my afternoon/evening to ride roller coasters until I sustained a mild thoracic spine strain (those wooden coasters will get you every. single. time- but I’m healing up nicely!) and eat gigantic ice cream cones until the park closed. My friends continue to buy season passes to Six Flags and then never use them for reasons that are beyond my comprehension- but I get a discounted entry when they bring their passes with them- so it works out for me, anyway!

My favorite coaster is still the Superman (formerly the Bizzaro)– because there’s that .3 seconds where you feel like you might legitimately fly out of your seat and die- but they’ve got a couple of re-vamped ones that I really enjoyed, too- prior to my injury, anyway.

The cost of food and beverages in that place is a whole other story, though. If you ever get the urge to go to Six Flags- pack a good, filling picnic lunch and enjoy it outside the gate before you re-enter the park during your stay. You’ll save yourself a small fortune. I promise! Charging $5 for water bottles during the hottest days of the year are NOT okay.

On Sunday, after a long time in the kitchen making sure my baked goods came out just right- I headed over to Allston for my friend Phill’s WWE ‘SummerSlam’ party to view the event with a group of equally passionate professional wrestling fans. Phill has 3 events per year for the three biggest PPVs- the Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, and SummerSlam- and up until now I’d never been to one of his parties. The rules were simple: don’t cheer Roman Reigns (a universally disliked and over-hyped character)– and if you bring a snack, it had to be wrestling themed.

My contributions to this event- and my attempt to win the coveted SNACK-Down Championship Belt (AKA best party food) was my “Undercaker” chocolate cake shaped like a wrestling ring- complete with turnbuckles and ropes!- and some gluten-free Balor Club cupcakes specifically for an attendee, James, who I was informed had an allergy and who I didn’t want to exclude. Overall I think everything paired nicely with the huge SummerHAM that one of Phill’s friends- dressed like John Cena, naturally- brought, as well as a dip called ‘Bean Ambrose’- among many other snacks.

The creativity was seriously awesome, and I had the best time- and while I was debating dressing up like Alexa Bliss, I went for a more simple look and rocked my WAY oversized Finn Balor/Demon King shirt- just in time for him to re-emerge in all his body-painted glory for his match. To say I was delighted is an understatement.

Next time, for sure- I’m rocking the Alexa look. New Cosplay project!

Overall, I had a really fun, really fulfilling weekend- and needed a full day yesterday to recover in-between work and catching up on some errands and much-needed sleep at home. My posting schedule is a little off as a result- but it should be back to normal by next week.

Enjoy your Tuesday/Monday 2.0, everyone! I’m getting ready to throw an impromptu, in-office, surprise Bachelorette party for one of my co-workers who is getting married this weekend! I’ll be sure to take some pictures!

xx

– Ashley –

OOTD: Midweek Pinstripes

No, despite first glances- I did not cosplay as a mob boss the other day while I lounged around Bunker Hill Monument with my friend. The outfit pictured above was my post-work-pre-dinner-plans ensemble for when the weather is hot, dry- and I don’t have enough time to change into shorts and a t-shirt after darting out of my office to beat traffic and meet with my party at the designated location. The pinstriped capris, courtesy of Primark– and the black patent leather Steve Madden heels say “I’m a professional just trying to keep cool, comfortable and chic in the Summer heat”- while the black tank top and wide-brimmed hat from Jack & Lucy say “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse,” or “leave the gun, take the cannoli.”

All joking aside- this is one of my favorite Summertime workday outfits because of how comfortable it is. When it’s as hot or as humid out as it’s been lately- I just want lightweight, breezy and breathable fabrics that let me move around and perform my job with ease- but I also want colors and patterns that are easily interchangeable from daytime to nighttime if I make plans after work and can’t stop at my place to raid my closet for a different aesthetic in-between engagements. Pinstripes, like polka dots- are really easy to work with and style around!

I felt like a savvy professional walking around Charlestown in this outfit during the day- and still thought I pulled off a put together and cute, fun-with-friends-appropriate look when I stopped for dinner at Sweet Rice on Main Street for some steamed vegetable gyoza and the best Pad Thai in town later on in the evening. Save your pencil skirts and frocks, ladies and gentlemen. Right now I’m all about a sharply tailored pair of trousers that show off just the right amount of leg and a practical, yet classic pair of heels to give me some height and perfect my posture!

And while I could have easily accessorized this outfit with a rose gold necklace or some bangles to give what little skin that was exposed a bit of extra flashiness- I let the hat speak for itself. It’s really the only accessory I need when I go out because it pretty much draws all the attention to itself!

xx

– Ashley –

Madrid and Margaritas…

Good Evening, everyone!

I hope you’re all enjoying your Friday night. It’s a bit unlike me to post after dark (I usually update Blondie Birdie early in the morning before I head into work or while I’m waiting for my coffee to brew)– but I took a long-overdue “Selfie Night” for myself today in order to catch up on e-mails I’d been neglecting for the better part of a week, enjoy a long bath while I started binge-watching the new mini-series for “Wet Hot American Summer” on Netflix (I’m nearly finished and it’s so over-the-top crazy-funny. I love it!)– and catch up on some much needed overall rest and relaxation. After I post this, I have a feeling I’ll be crawling into my clean and freshly folded sheets to try and get a full night of undisturbed sleep. I’m exhausted!

My last attempt at a “Selfie Night” was supposed to have been last Sunday, but my plans became a bit rearranged when- as I’d mentioned in my July “In a Nutshell” post earlier this past week- my best friend Sean returned home from a month-long stay in Spain after he came down with a severe case of food poisoning/dehydration that resulted with him spending a significant amount of time in the hospital. It’s a scary thing- to have someone you care about be so sick and so far away from home- and I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like for him to go through on his own. Thankfully, he’s back in the States and on the mend- and once he had stepped off the plane- some of our friends and I (and his mother!) who had showed up to surprise him at the arrival gate outside the airport snatched him up to get him some food and a couple of drinks so he could tell us all about his trip.

While Sean had been in Madrid prior to falling ill, he picked me up this really beautiful paper and lace fold-out fan that he gave to me at dinner. I love it. The imagery on it is really gorgeous- and even though I briefly used it to cool myself off in the car ride home since the temperatures were scorching- it’s since been placed neatly and delicately on display near my nicer dishes and silverware in my dining area. I don’t want anything to happen to it- and that’s the safest spot!

It’s just really nice to have him back home. I missed him a lot and I’m glad he’s feeling better and doing okay. We have a lot of catching up to do- starting tomorrow, more than likely! While there’s a few different weekend getaways planned throughout the month of August- I believe the next day or so will be spent in the White Mountains for the first time in over a year. I’m sure I’m going to have plenty of pictures to share!

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

All You Need Is Love…

I’m a straight woman who was fortunate enough to be raised and currently reside in Massachusetts. I say fortunate because Massachusetts- and most of New England, really- is one of the more liberal and progressive areas in the country. Our impressive list of schools and businesses bring in so many different people from all races, religions, cultures and orientations that my state is like a big mixing pot of never-ending educational and growing possibilities. If you spend any significant amount of time in any of the neighborhoods around Boston- you get to know some of the most incredible individuals and can learn so much from them at the same time.

So when Boston has it’s annual Pride celebration for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, you know it’s going to be a fun time and that all are welcome with open arms- no matter what- compared to other areas of the country where homosexuality/bisexuality or being transgender is either not properly understood, accepted- or both. I’m grateful I get to be in a city that celebrates the variety of life instead of trying to suppress it or refuse to acknowledge it’s existence. People say a lot of things about Boston- some good and some not so good- but you can’t deny that we are a city that takes care of our residents and look out for one another.

I have a wonderful group of longtime friends from the LGBTQ community, and every year I like to meet up with them while they hop to and from multiple events around the city for the celebration. While I missed the parade this year due to a prior commitment- I was able to head down to Back Bay for a huge block party with plenty of drinks and dancing. The weather was absolutely perfect- so much that when our group eventually dispersed from the party, we were able to enjoy a delicious outdoor dinner in the shade at nearby TICO.

If you stop by, be sure to try their truffle guacamole and watermelon margaritas. You won’t regret it (and yes- that’s a side dish of macaroni and cheese. A girl has to get her carbs when she’s having a little bit of alcohol in the sunshine!) TICO is a bit on the pricier side for tapas- but it’s worth the splurge every now and then. I certainly don’t have any regrets- and the view from their outdoor patio where we were seated was pretty spectacular.

The party eventually made it’s way- and winded down- at Dillon’s on Boylston Street where we once again found ourselves lounging on an outdoor patio and sipping refreshing, chilled (and fairly strong) cocktails under the sunset. When more of our friends arrived from their own dinner reservations elsewhere around the city- we all started to head in different directions. Some friends went to a drag show in Cambridge, others went to a different bar, and I headed home to get some much needed rest after a busy day and an even busier work-week.

Exciting, I know- but I had a lot of stuff to get done and errands to run around Downtown Crossing on Sunday!

Speaking of getting things done- I’m headed off to the office for the day. Have a good Hump Day, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –