Stay-cations, Horror Movies and Chicken Coops…

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

As we reach the halfway point to the weekend and I prepare to share some big and exciting news in a couple of days (I gotta’ make sure the ink is dry, first!)– I’m taking a look back on what was a pretty exciting weekend that took me from one side of the state to the other. Lots of driving? Sure. Worth it? Absolutely.

On Friday, after I’d left work for the day and ran some errands- I partook in a little “Stay-Cation” in my hometown of Worcester with Troy who was working a conference in the city over the weekend. We ate locally, had some super strong drinks, and watched the re-make/re-telling of “Pet Sematary” which was… Not that great. I’m nearly certain I’ve said it before, but Stephen King movies rarely translate well on screen. I’m not sure if it’s because what you dream up in your head as you’re reading his work is infinitely more scary than anything any director can pull off- but many film adaptations of his stories rarely work properly (except “Misery”, “Stand By Me” and the re-make of “It.”)

I digress. “Pet Sematary” was a serious let-down (except for the cat. I loved the cat!) and if our tickets hadn’t been discounted- I probably would have been really mad when I was leaving the theater.

Side Note: where is the trailer for “It: Chapter 2?”

On Saturday, after leaving the Indie617 station in Boston for the afternoon- it was off to the wilderness of Barre, Massachusetts to visit my friend Stef and her husband Andy in their new home they’d recently moved into for dinner and a late night horror movie with some of our circle of friends. Our film of choice? “Sleepaway Camp”!

Stef and Andy are budding farmers, and now that they’re out of the city and living in a very rural, remote location- they’ve been able to start using their land the way they’ve always wanted. They’ve already started getting their animals in order and are planning what fruit/vegetables to grow once the weather gets a bit nicer.

While I was visiting, I met Stef’s newest family addition- a bunch of little chickens! They’re not for food, by the way (they’re way too cute) but Stef is hoping to have fresh eggs when they get big enough.

I’m trying to convince her to invest in some alpacas, too. We’ll see how that goes.

Sunday, after sleeping entirely too late (I needed it)– it was all about errands, preparing meals for the week, and catching up on e-mails with an iced coffee in one hand and a pizza bagel in the other in and around my home- where I sometimes just need to sort of veg out and be still in for an afternoon or an evening to re-center myself and relax.

For now, I’ve got to get to work and attempt to stay one step ahead of the game despite how busy it’s been lately- and get ready for Friday!

Here’s wishing you all a lovely “Hump Day!” Talk soon!

xx

– Ashley –

Post-Birthday Recovery…

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

My posting schedule has been a little off this week (and will be next week, as well- given February kicks off next Friday!) The days leading up to and following my birthday are always a little crazy and hectic since I have such a big family and my friends are scattered around Massachusetts and New England. My time is always stretched a bit thin since people come and visit, I’m going out to meet friends for birthday-related fun- and also working full-time. It leaves little time for blogging this time of year!

Tonight is one of the last birthday celebrations planned for me as far as I know- and it involves eating lots of Chinese Food and cake with my mom, my older brothers, my sister-in-law and my niece! Then it’s nothing but sleep, catching up on e-mails, touching up my hair on Saturday- and heading to Salem on Sunday for my friend Phill’s annual ‘Royal Rumble’ party. Always such a good time.

The past few days have been a lot of fun- with the exception of a crazy snowstorm, single digit temperatures and a lot of rain. My actual birthday was a really relaxing affair- mainly because after I had left my office for the day- Troy treated me to dinner and a “Spa Night” at East Heaven in Northampton. I got to completely unwind during a soak in an outdoor hot tub (and despite the cold weather- it wasn’t bad at all) and an hour long massage. Absolute bliss!

He’s a gem.

My co-workers surprised me with a dozen of my favorite doughnuts, my best friend surprised me with a pink frosted cake (pictured above) and other friends loaded me up with carbs earlier this week during a surprise luncheon. If people thought the holidays were the time of year where everyone threw their diets out the window- they haven’t seen anything yet!

With January winding down next week (already?!)– I’m in the process of putting together my favorite things from this month to share next week, as well as writing up a summary of the beginning of the year for my “In a Nutshell” post that should be up next Thursday. I’ve also got a Super Bowl to prepare for following that absolutely INSANE Patriots/Chiefs game this past Sunday- so expect some fun, party-friendly recipes in the coming days.

I want to thank everyone again who texted, called, e-mailed, or dropped me a line on social media for my birthday! I know Tuesdays are pretty much the worst day of the week by default- but my birthday was still wonderful and I’m very appreciative of all the love and warm wishes!

By the way- there’s still time to enter my birthday giveaway!

Enjoy your weekend, everyone! I’ll see you all next week!

xx

– Ashley –

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

We did it! We made it through the week and it’s time to kick back and enjoy the weekend- unless you live in New England, that is- in which case you’re probably getting ready to start shoveling yourself out of whatever the incoming Winter Storm Riley has in store for us.

It’s been rather lovely outside these past few days- albeit a little chilly- so to suddenly have about a foot of snow dropped back on us is a little disheartening, to say the least.

Regardless, I’m determined to enjoy my weekend- and have set aside a little “me” time to get my hair and my nails touched up for the Saint Patrick’s Day festivities and the First *official* day of Spring in a couple of weeks. I’m also looking forward to cooking up a couple of new dishes- provided that the storm doesn’t knock out my power since we’re expecting to get some pretty high winds where I am.

Now that it’s March, I’m getting an early start on my Spring cleaning. Old mail/bills are being shredded, bedsheets and pillow cases are being washed and refreshed, odds & ends that have been laying around all Winter and collecting dust are being rounded up and discarded- and I’m starting to rotate out my Winter wardrobe to donate the things I don’t wear anymore while simultaneously clearing up some space to fit my Spring/Summer clothing and accessories.

I have taken some time to enjoy the little things this past week, though. On Wednesday night I had a friend-date in Western Massachusetts with a guy I’ve known for a long time that included a pretty good blue cheese burger at a local brewery, followed by a late-night Sega Genesis game session at said friend’s apartment. He dug out Maximum Carnage (one of my favorites from when I was a kid!) and I honestly needed a minute to compose myself from the excitement.

Last night, after I’d run some errands and returned home- I enjoyed a long, hot soak in my tub while I flipped through the Spring issue of InStyle Magazine and enjoyed a glass of wine while a Lush Bath Bomb fizzed around me. I slept like a baby last night once I’d dried off and gone to lay down- that’s how relaxing it was!

Weather permitting, I have a luncheon scheduled with some friends from work a little later on this afternoon- and from there- I’m hoping it’s smooth sailing as I wrap up this work week (which was unbelievably productive for me!) and jump right into my Saturday plans.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone! I’ll see you on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –

Sweet(heart) Treats: Chocolate-Filled Puff Pastry Hearts

Happy Hump Day- and Valentine’s Day (and belated Gal-entine’s Day), everyone! For those of you who are partnered up- I hope you have special, romantic, and fun-filled plans with your significant other- and for those of you who are single- live it up! Enjoy your own company or the company of friends who are also on the prowl for a good time. That’s what I plan on doing tonight with some of my girlfriends after I leave the office. There’s a glass of wine with my name on it somewhere!

Whatever your relationship status- we can all agree that tomorrow is the REAL holiday when all the Valentine’s Day candy gets marked down, right?

Speaking of candy. I thought I’d share a quick, easy, chocolate-y and festive dessert for those of you who might be looking to whip something up for your own Valentine today/tonight. It only takes a handful of ingredients and about 40 minutes of your time!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • Four 9-inch refrigerated pie crusts (not in a shell)
  • 16 DOVE Dark and/or Milk Chocolate PROMISES Squares, unwrapped
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one pie crust until it is about 10 inches in diameter.
  3. Use a small heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut 8 hearts out of the pie crust. Repeat with the remaining pie crusts.
  4. Transfer half of the heart pieces to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them evenly. Place a piece of Dove chocolate in the center of each heart.
  5. Brush around the edges of each heart with cool water. Top with one of the remaining hearts and use a fork to press and seal the edges all the way around. Repeat until you’ve topped every heart.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with 1 tablespoon water to combine. Lightly brush the egg wash over the top of each heart and then sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Cut a small line into the top crust of each piece to create a vent.
  7. Bake until the crust is golden brown, 17 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely before serving.

I served these to a recent date with some strawberry puree and whipped cream to mix up the flavors a bit. The pie crust was crispy and lightly sweetened- and the chocolate was a warm, melty bit of heaven. Needless to say- these went over really well!

I’m off to my final meeting of the afternoon at work before I can break free and go have myself some single girl shenanigans- and I hope you all have a great holiday!

xx

– Ashley –

OOTD: Birthday (Dress) Suit

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! I’m still adjusting to being back on the East Coast- but not too much- since I’m leaving for Vegas at the end of next week! I don’t think I even need to fully unpack my suitcase at this point, but we’ll see!

While I was in San Diego a few days ago- I took some time to doll myself up for a planned birthday dinner one of my dearest friends (and numero uno West Coast man-crush) had planned for me prior to his falling ill to some weird stomach bug that was apparently going around the area. I’ve successfully managed to dodge catching it on both coasts now since it was running rampant around here before my departure, as well.

I’m just attributing my seemingly being immune to it on my ability to just sort of fly away from it on a whim. Those airline miles really came in handy for that!

Anyway, I wanted to wear something that could be easily mixed/matched and accessorized with- that had a touch of femininity without being too frilly- and that accentuated my legs since I can’t exactly where high hemlines in Boston this time of year and I really wanted to embrace the SoCal temperatures by showing some skin.

What I found was this adorable black and white number that was fitted just right. It hugged my curves in all the right places.

This ensemble is actually a combination of two pieces: a white cotton crop-top and the black and white, long-sleeved wrap-dress with ruffled detail that tied over everything. Paired with my patent leather black Steve Madden heels- I’d like to think I looked like a combination of “Bad Ass Boss Bitch” and “Sultry Minx”- but that may have been just me who thought so.

What’s great about this outfit is that it can easily be transformed from proper date night wear to professional/business attire with little to no effort at all. Putting on some black tights or trousers instead of going bare-legged makes all the difference- and I feel that I’m bold enough to wear this to my office on any given day and still be taken seriously. It’s all about the details- and I love the ruffles so, so much!

And despite the fact that this outfit saw Downtown San Diego for approximately 15 minutes before things took a turn for the chaotic- I felt super confident (and comfortable!) in it. I gave my eyes a bit of a dramatic pop with some black liner and a couple of layers of black, lengthening mascara- but my lips stayed rose/pink and matte.

As tempting as a bright red gloss sounded- I wanted to keep the dress as the focal point of this outfit- and I felt red would have distracted from it a little too much.

I’m looking forward to cashing in my dinner rain check with this outfit the next time I’m in Southern California. Maybe I’ll wear even higher heels next time, too!

Tonight I’m having a (Belated) Birthday Dinner with my family- and this weekend I’ll be catching up with some friends I haven’t had the time to see since I got back- but next week I’ll be sharing some of my favorite things from this past month, talking about my trip and memorable parts of January overall- and sharing a Super Bowl appropriate recipe right before I make another journey out West and catch the game. Go Pats!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –