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.

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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 –

OOTD: Now It’s All Covered in Flowers…

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it to the weekend!

It’s been such a busy- but wonderful- week and I’m excited to spend some time with my mom and my brothers tonight at our bi-weekly family dinner, head into Boston for a few hours to do my radio show tomorrow afternoon- and then soak up a little sun back at home while I’m out and about on the town running errands and just exploring my neighborhood!

And while I’m doing that, I’ll more than likely be wearing one of my favorite Summer weekend ensembles- a sundress or romper with bright and fun sandals. Much like I did last weekend when I took my best friend to visit the Bridge of Flowers while he was visiting from the city!

I love a good, simple, comfortable and loose-fitting sundress with a cute print. This one, adorned with hot pink flowers- also has an open back to it- so to keep myself from looking like I was going out to the club when I was really just walking around the more “sophisticated” Shelburne Falls during the afternoon- I opted to wear a pale pink tank top underneath the dress to look a bit more modest and not show off too much skin since there were plenty of families and small children running around!

And if these sandals look familiar- it’s because they’re the ones I had picked up at ModCloth last year and wore for pretty much the entirety of Summer 2018. After pulling them out of my closet and bringing them to my new apartment with me- they are officially back and ready for more (and are still ridiculously comfortable!)

And, as cute as this dress and these sandals are- it’s Shelburne Falls that was the real MVP of this “Outfit of The Day” post. No matter where I turned, the entire village itself was the perfect backdrop for photos and selfies. Look at that wall of ivy! Look at the Deerfield River behind me! They made the dress look even better, honestly!

And that just about does it for me this week. I’m going to be back on Monday with more warm weather clothing, some Summertime recipes, peeks around the Pioneer Valley and celebrating Blondie Birdie’s second year here on the web (!!!)– but here’s wishing you all a lovely, safe weekend ’til then!

Now get out there and go have some fun!

xx

– Ashley –

Stop and Smell The Flowers…

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

While I prepare to launch myself into what will undoubtedly be another busy day at work and an evening of post-office plans- I wanted to look back on this past weekend- which was actually super relaxing, sunny, and warm!

I had mentioned last Friday when I was wrapping up the month of May and how it had been for me that my best friend Sean- who still presently resides just outside of Boston- was coming to spend the weekend with me so he could see my new place for the first time and be introduced to the Pioneer Valley with an impromptu tour. I had an idea of a couple of the places I wanted to take him while he was here (weather permitting)– but the rest was very much a spontaneous adventure!

I knew that after showing Sean my apartment and the surrounding neighborhood that I wanted to take him to Northampton- which is sort of the hub of the valley. We spent the entire evening walking around looking at all the shops, artwork, and scenery- and made sure to grab a bite to eat at Mama Iguanas and iced maple lattes at The Roost (we even had a special appearance from Troy who stopped by our table at dinner to say hello!)

Sean was blown away by just how much there was to do and see around pretty much every corner- and when our feet started to hurt from walking so much- we popped by the Tunnel Bar for a nightcap before it was time to return home.

On Sunday morning, we opted to stay a little closer to my neck of the woods and had brunch at the nearby Hope & Olive– where I had the best frittata and home fries of my life and met some of Troy’s theater friends- who he’d quested via text to find me and say hello since they were also having brunch in the same restaurant. It was a pleasant surprise and everyone was very, very kind.

Afterwards, with the sun shining bright and the temperatures (and humidity) rising- I took Sean to the two locations I had planned early on. One was the Montague Bookmill, which I had blogged about during my last visit there on a rainy day in April– and the second was the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls.

It’s been just about a year since I last visited the Bridge of Flowers- give or take- but what I love about it is that every time I come back- there’s something new and different to look at. The flowers are beautiful and the views of the Deerfield River are breathtaking. While we were there- I managed to snap some really great photos of the scenery and some of my favorite blossoms.

If you’d like to enlarge any of the photos below- just click on them!

By the time a couple of late afternoon thunderstorms began rolling through the area- Sean was already en route back to the city and I was back at my apartment doing laundry and cleaning. Perfect timing!

I’m hoping to visit a couple more destinations on my “to do” list now that I’m becoming more established in the area- and if the weather is as sunny and bright as the forecast is predicting- then this weekend is looking like a good time as any to check them out!

But before we get to this coming weekend- we have to finish up the actual weekdays, first. I’m off to get started at my office and have some much-needed caffeine- but here’s hoping you all enjoy your “Hump Day!”

See you again on Friday!

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 –

“Now it’s all covered with flowers…”

Good Evening, everyone! Here’s hoping you’re all having a wonderful Friday night- or getting ready to, anyway!

My night is actually going to be fairly quiet and reserved tonight- consisting of watching a movie with friends, eating some pizza and sipping some hard cider since I have to be up for early morning plans first thing tomorrow. And honestly? I just really need a night in so I can wear sweatpants and veg out a bit.

This past week has been crazy at work, and when I wasn’t in my office- I was at networking events, keeping track of E3 coverage (hello, ‘Resident Evil 2’ remake I’ve been waiting for since I was in my teens!) and trying to soak up some Vitamin D whenever I got the chance- including taking an afternoon off for an impromptu beach trip in Manchester-By-The-Sea.

Last weekend, before I got swirled up in Manic Monday and all the tasks/errands/to-do’s that came with it and the subsequent days that followed- I actually ventured out to the wild, wild Western part of Massachusetts to lovely, quaint and picturesque Shelburne Falls to see the famous Bridge of Flowers that frequently make appearances on my friends’ Instagram feeds.

I’d never been, but neither the bridge itself or the scenic drive to and from there along some of the state’s winding back roads- dotted with farmhouses and fields- was well worth it. The footbridge (formerly a trolley bridge) stretches over the Deerfield River and is the home to hundreds of different types of flowers. It’s a very peaceful, pretty walk to take- and naturally I snapped some photos!

Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pics!

If you’re ever venturing out by Western Massachusetts this Summer- the bridge is definitely worth a quick stop! It’s open ’til October!

In other beautiful destinations I visited this past week- I took a half day at work yesterday afternoon to stop by Singing Beach in-between errands to meet up with my best friend, Sean, for lunch/coffee and to watch as the boats rolled by the marina.  Even though the sun disappeared on us (more than once)– it was still a lovely way to spend an afternoon. The view was definitely better than the one I’m used to in my office, anyway!

Every time I travel to Manchester By The Sea, I try to visit at least one new shop or restaurant since the community has so many hidden and adorable seaside finds to discover. Yesterday’s dinner saw us watching game show re-runs from the 1970s while we ate burgers and fries at Superfine Food, and then grab a couple of ‘Aloha’ lattes (coconut and white chocolate) at Allie’s Beach Street Cafe.

Everything was so delicious- and the staff at both locations were very friendly! I highly recommend them!

But now, with friends on the way for movie night with food in tow- I’m off to be lazy, eat all the carbs- and get ready for the weekend!

Good night, everyone! Have a great weekend!

xx

– Ashley –