Bloom Where You’re Planted…

Bloom Where You’re Planted…

Good Morning, Happy “Hump Day” and Happy (official) First Day of Spring, everyone!

It seems fitting that the season of blossoming and blooming would start just as so many exciting new opportunities and changes are happening for me/around me right now. I know I always briefly mention how busy I am lately- but I really mean it! I’ve been going non-stop!

Back at the end of 2018, I had mentioned a couple of new projects I was preparing to start working on and had admittedly been excited to delve more into the details when the time was right. One project was for a radio station based out of Boston, and the other was for a family theater company based in the Pioneer Valley. Considering both of those projects are essentially on opposite sides of the state- I go back and forth fairly often!

I also maintain my full-time legal specialist position and still make sure to find time to spend with family and friends- all of whom are thankfully very understanding to my occasional time restrictions- so with everything finally coming to fruition and all the smaller, more intricate details being ironed out- it feels like I can relax much more easily now!

So, what’s the news?

Well, beginning this Saturday- I’ll be starting my very own weekly show on Indie617 from 12-4 PM where I’ll get to play the music I love, talk about upcoming shows, recap recent events around the city of Boston, etc. I’m so excited since I simply adore everyone at the station and have been having a blast popping by for occasional sit-downs/chats over the past couple of months during the “Morning Glory” show.

You can stream my show online at the website or download the Indie617 app (it’s free- so no excuses!)

Additionally, I’ve taken on the role of Marketing & Publicity Director at Paintbox Theatre– a company I have loved and held dear for a very long time now. The work that they do for children and families in the Pioneer Valley is beyond admirable and I’m so thrilled to be a part of all the fun, crazy, and adorable things they have planned for their upcoming Summer season!

Of course, working across and around the state has sort of grounded me in the New England area- which is funny considering it was around this time a year ago I was earnestly and vehemently talking about moving out to Las Vegas/Henderson, Nevada- and as I continue with my year of self-reflection and attempts at bettering myself by learning from past mistakes and missteps- I think that’s one flaw I need to tackle head on: my eagerness to move to a new location- sometimes places that are thousands of miles away from everything I’ve ever known or worked for- without addressing the reasons why.

First it was San Diego, and my main drive behind that was because I wanted to be closer to friends (and yes, a guy I liked at the time)– but I had never stopped to really consider career opportunities or the astronomical cost of living out there. Granted, where I live is on the pricier side as well- but I can still live and support myself without stretching myself out too thin.

I had just assumed my career could be easily transitioned across the county- but that wasn’t the case.

With my planned move to Las Vegas, my intentions were more fine-tuned- I wanted to live somewhere warm, close to my West Coast Wife, and in an area where the cost of living was infinitely more manageable (and I still do so much!)– but being so far away from my family, my friends and restarting a career over in a part of the country where the turnover rate of the population is nearly non-stop was a bit intimidating.

Plus, financial setbacks throughout 2018 kept delaying the process- and now here I am- finally getting my momentum back.

While Vegas/Henderson is not off the table by any means- I need to rebuild my foundation, first- and I need to do it here at home and by utilizing the aforementioned opportunities/projects I’ve taken on to build up both my finances and my resume (should I decide to switch career paths at any given time. I have to show I’m versatile!)

That means making the best of what I have here (“bloom where you’re planted”) for the time being- which includes potentially finding a less expensive place to live within the Pioneer Valley or outside of the city so I can better accomplish my short-term goals- and gradually work my way towards my long-term ones.

With smaller plans in play and these new projects keeping me occupied and focused- I can say with all sincerity that I’m excited for the future and looking forward to what’s ahead without any nervousness, uncertainty or anxiety- something that plagued me in the past when I was trying to relocate/reignite my life and passions.

And hopefully the future will be warmer here in New England real soon!

I’m off to play catch-up after an unexpected day off from work yesterday- and a little later on this week I’m dabbling with floral print again. I’ll have the photos to show you all what I mean!

Enjoy your Wednesday, everybody!

xx

– Ashley –

Gardners and Gardens…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

I hope you’ve all recovered from “Springing Forward” with Daylight Savings Time yesterday morning. I am admittedly still a little bit out of it- especially since I typically go to work so early in the morning- but I should be adjusted and good to go within a couple of days. I know I’m going to feel much better when I can leave work and be able to get in a workout while it’s still light outside!

Prior to time traveling an hour on Sunday morning, I spent a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon browsing the galleries at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum– which is a stone’s throw away from the Museum of Fine Arts here in Boston (another favorite weekend spot of mine!)

I was a kid the last time I visited Isabella Stewart Gardner’s collections- but the museum is just as breathtaking and beautiful as I remember- and the enclosed indoor courtyard was so lush and green that it made me forget all about the fact that there was a lot of snow and slush melting just a few yards away outside whenever I walked around it! It was like I had been transported to a private villa in a tropical destination somewhere.

Well, somewhat private anyway. The museum was surprisingly packed full of people to the point where I felt claustrophobic at times trying to get in and out of rooms/wings- and I normally don’t get like that in crowds at all!

And, not to get preachy- but I have to say it- I love a good selfie as much as the next person. I think it’s wonderful for people to feel good about themselves and have fun and want to share that with the world. Post as many selfies as you want and I will like them all- but if the process of getting the perfect photo involves a full-blown photo shoot that obstructs other people’s views of something or delays/inconveniences others- then you should really reconsider your process and make changes to accommodate and be more considerate to the people around you.

While trying to see a painting yesterday, I had to wait about 15-20 minutes for a clear view while more than one person held up the crowds of people so they could pose, examine the photo, pose again, edit the picture, select a filter- and finally choose the hashtags they wanted on their social media post. It was, frankly, obnoxious and really put a damper on what was otherwise a lovely day.

All I’m saying is that if you can’t get the photo you want within a couple of minutes, maybe loop around and try again a little later so that others can enjoy their stay, too! It’s not the end of the world- I promise!

The only other reason I could think of for the crowds was that this month marks the 29th anniversary of the infamous museum heist that took place there when two thieves, posing as Boston Police Officers- tied up the guards assigned to look after the museum overnight and made out with $500 million worth of paintings that have yet to be recovered.

13 works were stolen total- and the pieces are commemorated around the museum with empty frames where they were once displayed. It was a bit of a treasure hunt trying to locate all the vacated spots as I went from room to room.

Below are some photos I snapped during my stay. As always- you can just click them to enlarge them!

I had a really nice time, despite the aforementioned crowds and impromptu, doorway-blocking modeling sessions. I’d love to go back on a less busy day and spend a little more time in each room!

A little later on this week I’m sharing some pastels in a new OOTD post- and doing some pre-Spring cleaning- both in my home and here on the blog. I’ll have the updates, as well as my tips and tricks ready to share soon. I’m no Marie Kondo by any means- but my system has been working for me!

But with it being Monday, I’ve got to dive into work and get a head start on a busy week. Here’s hoping you all have a good day! Stay strong!

xx

– Ashley –

My 10 Favorite Photos From 2018

Good Morning and Happy Friday (the last one of 2018), everyone!

Before we break for the weekend and I finish writing my recap of this past year- which will be up on Monday morning- I wanted to take a photographic journey through 2018 and share some of my absolute favorite pictures I’ve snapped over these past twelve months and the stories behind them.

Going through my phone’s camera roll, my tablet’s drive and my Instagram feed over the course of my Christmas break has been a delightful and sometimes nostalgic walk through memory lane. The people I saw! The places I traveled to! The things I got to experience! 2018 was the year I made “getting away” and sightseeing both home and afar a priority- and I was very fortunate to capture many of my journeys in various snapshots.

Of course- and this happens every year I’ve been participating in this fun little tradition across social media and on my blogs, past and present- narrowing down my wide assortment of photos and then putting them in an order I deemed fit or appropriate proved to be a challenge.

But I worked tirelessly- and I think these photos tell a beautiful story about my life this past year- and I hope you all enjoy them as much as I do.

Without further delay, here are my 10 Favorite Photos From 2018!

10. After The Storm (Worcester – October 2018):

During a series of wild weather in the Fall- which included more than one severe thunderstorm, insane hail, and tornado warnings in Central Massachusetts as the weeks wore on- one storm in particular, which hit as the sun was beginning to set on what had been an otherwise uneventful weekday- ended up delivering the most breathtaking visuals.

After being advised to find cover as quarter-sized hail began to fall in Worcester County- the tornado warning was eventually cancelled and I ventured outside to make sure the hail hadn’t damaged my windshield (it thankfully hadn’t!) This semi-intimidating visual of the storm moving away was what I saw, instead.

The dark, ominous clouds against the bright blue sky was one of the coolest- and scariest- things I’d ever seen.

9. Springtime in The City (Boston – April 2018):

Boston is one of those rare and fortunate cities that can look beautiful regardless of the climate or weather. Old cobblestone streets, beautiful brownstones and large, spacious parks filled with pathways and trees are lovely when they’re blanketed in snow, changing foliage or petals during Springtime blooms.

Such was the case this past April when I had ventured to Back Bay to run a couple of errands and happened to have a few moments to admire the trees that line the sidewalks blossoming as the warmer weather stuck around longer and Spring inched it’s way closer to us.

This tree in particular, blooming in front of a chocolate-colored brownstone and spreading pink petals all over the stairs- was my favorite.

8. One-On-One with Obama (Washington D.C. – May 2018):

While recovering from a night-out during a weekend trip to Washington D.C.- I found myself at the National Portrait Gallery while on a quest to find coffee- approximately ten minutes before the gallery opened to visitors for the day. Wanting to see the newly acquired portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama- I opted to put my caffeine fix on hold and check them out…

… And ended up being the first one in the building *and* the first one at Obama’s portrait. There was momentarily no line, and I got to really admire just how cool this painting was/is and how fitting it was for my (still) favorite President.

Side Note: Michelle’s portrait was beautiful, too!

7. The Bridge of Flowers (Shelburne Falls – June 2018);

During one of my Summer weekends out in the Pioneer Valley where I got involved with theater and dance and embraced nature and the laid-back Western Massachusetts way of life- I also made a stop at the famous Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls to soak up the scenery and snap some photos of the hundreds of blooms left undisturbed along the waterside footbridge.

Out of all the pictures I snapped that day- this one was my favorite. Between the flowers, the river, and the old houses and mills along the waterside- there’s a reason I spend so much time out in that area and I think this photo captures it perfectly. It’s a little piece of heaven.

6. Birthday By The Beach (San Diego – January 2018):

This past year I had wanted to spend my birthday someplace warm and sunny since nearly every single one leading up to now had been spent in bitter New England cold, sleet and snow. I wanted to celebrate another year on this Earth on a beach with my feet in the sand and the sun on my face.

I got my wish- and then some- with this beautiful sunset at Ocean Beach in San Diego the night before my birthday while I was out getting tacos and beer with longtime friends that live in the area.

What you can’t see in this photograph are how big the waves were as they crashed against the rocks. It was awe-inspiring and took my breath away,

5. Shadowplay (George’s Island – July 2018):

During a Summer outing on the water and a few miles away from Boston Harbor, my best friend and I made a quick stop at Georges Island where we explored Fort Warren and hoped to have an encounter with the infamous ‘Lady in Black’ ghost while crawling through darkened corridors and long-abandoned living quarters.

While we didn’t find any supernatural entities- we did find an old gunpowder storage room which was nearly pitch black if not for a small bit of sunlight that poured in through the entrance way. My friend snapped this photo of my silhouette while I was dancing around and otherwise making an ass out of myself- and I loved how it came out.

Note to self: spend more time out by the Harbor next Summer.

4. In the Hot, Hot Sun (Nevada – September 2018):

While spending a week divided between Nevada and California back in September- my WCW (West Coast Wife) and dearest friend, Kelsey, and I headed out to the desert to check out the Seven Magic Mountains roadside attraction/art installation miles outside the Las Vegas strip and to roast under the sun for a little while.

Sure, the art installation was pretty neat- and provided some shade at different angles-but the surrounding desert itself wowed me, too. I snapped this photo while disregarding a rattlesnake warning sign since it felt like we were truly in the middle of nowhere- and it was pretty awesome.

3. Takashi Murakami Exhibit (Boston – January 2018):

Trying to escape Boston’s snow, ice and bitter cold earlier this year- I ducked into the Museum of Fine Arts one lazy Saturday to catch a peek of the Takashi Murakami exhibit- among other works. The pieces- bright and fun and more than a little crazy- warmed me right up and were such an experience to look at as I went from room to room in the gallery.

This photo, where I had attempted to capture one of the larger illustrations on display in the gallery- was made even better by the family who ended up crossing and eventually standing in front of me. I thought their silhouettes, dark in contrast to the bright colors in the Murakami piece- ended up creating a very cool photo.

2. High Rolling in Vegas (Las Vegas – February 2018):

During 2018’s Super Bowl (which I don’t want to talk about…)– I was staying in Vegas for a brief vacation to visit friends and check out real estate. Splurging a bit, I booked a room at The Cosmopolitan- and the view from my room was nothing short of incredible. This photo, snapped in the middle of the night- looked like something off of a postcard- and was what I showed everyone and anyone who asked about the highlights from my trip.

The only downside is that after having such an amazing view of the Strip- I don’t think I can stay at any other hotel in Vegas ever again! I mean, how do you top something like this?!

1. Love of My Life (Colby Farm – August 2018):

In August, wanting to spend a perfect and Sunny ‘National Dog Day’ with my beloved Oliver (and my mom, who I also love very much)– the three of us piled into my car and headed to the famed Colby Farm to see their vast and endless fields of sunflowers while they were at peak bloom.

Between the flowers, the huge fields to run around in, and playing with other dogs who were also there that day- Oliver looked positively ecstatic. This was taken while my mom was holding him so I could adjust his leash- and I couldn’t stop laughing over how it looked like he was smiling.

I’ve since printed and framed this picture- both for myself and for my mom- and it is hands down my favorite photo from 2018.

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And that, my dear readers- is my Top Ten Photos of this year. So many fond memories and wonderful moments that I will look back on and cherish forever.

If you’d like to share some of your own favorite photos or memories from 2018- feel free to leave a comment or drop me a line! I’d love to hear about them!

But, for now- I’ve got to get some work done since it’s my last day at the office for the remainder of this year. I’ll be off on Monday and Tuesday- and I’ve got one grand finale of a post to share bright and early first thing on New Year’s Eve!

Enjoy your Friday and your weekend, everyone! Make it count!

xx

– Ashley –

Holiday Hangs…

Good Morning and Happy “Hump Day”, everyone!

It’s been such a busy week so far- both with work and pre-holiday preparations- but today is my half day at my office and the only thing I intend on doing once I leave for the day and head home is partaking in some baking and staying bundled up in my cozy pajamas and blankets with a hot cup of cocoa while I watch some classic Christmas movies and work on my end-of-the-year posts for the blog.

I need a day of doing the bare minimum- just to recharge my batteries a bit!

I might still be recovering from this past weekend, really- which saw me stop by Idle Hands Craft Ales in Malden for Indie617‘s first annual ‘Holiday Hang’. While I had a couple of drinks and caught up with friends, the station spun some festive tunes and gave away different prizes- including concert tickets and Idle Hands swag. The turnout was great- as was the food provided by Spoko Polish Street Food. The perfect pairing with my cranberry-orange beer, really!

Also, I have to give credit to the seasonally appropriate video of Nick Offerman sitting in front of a fireplace, occasionally drinking whiskey- that was looped for ten hours and played across a wall at Idle Hands from a projector. It really set the mood.

If you want to get the video rolling at your own holiday party (all ten hours of it!)CLICK HERE.

I’m going to be back and live on air with Indie617 this coming Friday (12/14) at 9 a.m. during ‘Morning Glory’ to talk about some of the biggest indie stories of 2018- so be sure to tune in! I’m very excited to recap what has been a crazy year in music.

A little later on this week (also on Friday, to be more specific)– I’m going to have a new bake-free dessert recipe up here on Blondie Birdie- just in time for a Tree Trimming dinner party I have planned with my family later on that night. I’ve got the cocktails ready to go and a soundtrack ready to play- but I’m admittedly still digging out ornaments from storage that my brothers and I have had since we were little kids! It’s tradition, after all.

A little hint about the recipe, by the way- if you love sugar cookies and white chocolate- you’re going to love what I’m going to share.

But for now, I’m going to get some work done and count down the minutes until noon. Here’s wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday!

xx

– Ashley –

“She’s creepy and she’s kooky – Mysterious and spooky…”

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it!

That photo above would be the pumpkin a group of us (and mainly one of my more talented co-workers) carved at work. It came out pretty great!

While my weekend is looking pretty busy with my friend’s wedding and some Sunday Self-Care in the works- this past week has been extraordinarily fun! Halloween was a blast, kicked off with a large potluck brunch with everyone in my office (nearly all who came in some seriously kick ass costumes!) and an impromptu Red Sox/World Series celebration while the parade was happening.

I really do love our Rolling Rallies whenever a hometown team wins a championship. It’s an absolute free-for-all and a great excuse to take a day off of work- and everyone is in such a great mood. The feeling of camaraderie is really fantastic!

Following the party, it was time to set up my Halloween decorations (and the weather both on Wednesday and yesterday was warm, sunny and lovely!) and prepare for an early evening with my niece, brother and sister-in-law. While my niece made out like a bandit with all the candy she got trick-or-treating, pizzas were prepared and AMC’s ‘Halloween’ marathon was on full-blast.

Yes, that included “Halloween III: Season of The Witch’. Such a bad film that it’s actually a classic.

As the night drew to a close, Troy and I- both still in costume- decided to catch a late night movie and stopped by a screening of ‘Bad Times at the El Royale’ which was fantastic. We both loved it. Great cast, terrific acting, awesome soundtrack- and a really interesting/unpredictable and keep-you-guessing story.

Don’t sleep on that one, guys! It’s worth a watch!

But for now I’m going to be powering through some work today (and probably heading into a little early-evening overtime with it as well) so that I can return from my weekend refreshed and as stress-free as possible this coming Monday. It’s always good to stay one step ahead of the game.

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful, warm, and fun weekend ahead! I’ll have plenty of photos to share next week from my friends’ nuptials.

It’s going to be a beautiful ceremony- but I know for a fact the reception is going to be insane.

xx

– Ashley –