Digging Out of The Snow…

Digging Out of The Snow…

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

While I had wanted to get a post up, as usually scheduled, this past Wednesday- the Winter storm that began whipping though New England on Sunday night had other plans for me. With over two feet of snow accumulated where I live and occasional power outages due to strong winds- my primary focus became staying warm and safe until it was calm enough outside to shovel my way back into the world on Wednesday afternoon.

The storm marked the first significant one of the 2019/2020 Winter season- and while snow is always a welcomed guest throughout December (we’re dreaming of white Christmases and all)– by February I know I’m going to dread the sight of it. It’s like clockwork. It happens every year.

I digress. During a lull in the storm on Monday afternoon- I went for a little hike not far from my office to snap some photos of the aftermath. Little did I know another foot of powder was on it’s way- so I managed to get some nice shots before then.

On top of the snow, a lot of my friends and family have been battling some weird cold/flu that’s been spreading like wildfire- so needless to say I’ve been proactive with keeping myself rested, hydrated, and well until it blows over. The last thing I need during the busiest time of the year is to get taken down by a sore throat or a stuffy nose!

Yesterday, in-between glasses of orange juice and Vitamin C gummies- I headed out to pick up some things in order to finally get around to decorating my apartment for the holidays. November marked six months living in Greenfield- and this Christmas will be the first in my new place!

I picked up some small decor to place around my kitchen and living room areas- and while I thought a $15 artificial, pre-lit tree was the perfect addition to my place- it ended up looking more like something from “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” So comically odd looking. See for yourselves!

Next week on “Blondie Birdie” I’m going to have a recipe for a festive family favorite (say that three times fast,) a peek at my latest ugly Christmas sweater- and a recap of this coming Sunday’s Patriots/Chiefs game since I’ll actually be in attendance! I’m so looking forward to tailgating with friends- despite the cold!

Here’s wishing you all a warm, safe and productive weekend ahead. Be good to each other out there! ‘Tis the season, after all!

xx

– Ashley –

Favorites: November 2019!

Good Morning and Happy (Black) Friday, everyone!

I had wanted to get this post up yesterday morning before making the journey to my family’s home back East for Thanksgiving- but as most of you know- the holidays can get pretty crazy. Blogging had to temporarily be put on the back burner so I could focus on retrieving a pre-ordered chocolate pie and packing up some presents to get on the road in time!

But I’ve since made it back to the Valley and slept in nice and late this morning to dream away the stuffing and mashed potatoes I over-indulged in last night- and avoid the Black Friday crowds in the early A.M. hours!

I’m going to be heading out in a little while to grab a much-needed coffee and try to get a jump on my holiday shopping- but before I do- I wanted to share some of my favorite things from this past month as we enter the final couple of days of November and the end of 2019 is officially upon us!

This month’s list is short and sweet- since a lot of my Fall favorites from September and October carried over into these past weeks as well- but some new things made the list that I’m excited to talk about!

Let’s take a look!

Earlier this month, I revisited my PS4 since colder/snowier weather is on the way and in the event I should be confined to my apartment- I’m going to need something to keep me entertained until the roads are clear (and there’s only so much Netflix a person can watch.) Troy, who appeared to be in the same mindset- surprised me with these wireless surround sound headphones from Turtle Beach a few weeks ago to take our online gaming to the next level.

They work awesome, and I’ve been having so much fun with late night GTA and “Resident Evil” sessions with some help from these. I haven’t tried them with a game that will be making an appearance a little later on in the post- but I should- since surround sound might help me understand the story a bit better!

To save myself time and money in the mornings before work, I’ve been living the K-Cup life. The problem is- sometimes they can taste really, really gross and you have to liven them up with some flavored creamer or sugar in order to get your caffeine fix without gagging.

I finally found a good (albeit limited time only!) creamer from International Delights that actually tastes like what it’s supposed to- French Toast!

As part of their Holiday 2019 flavors- I should really consider stocking up on this before it’s gone. It tastes really good, and just a splash of it in my coffee can make even the most stale K-Cup bearable.

One of my stops today- and probably not until much later on this evening- may be Kohl’s so that I can try and stock up on more of these knee-high wool socks- which have gotten me through the rainier, colder days this past November!

Thick without making my boots feel tight/uncomfortable, and high enough to wear over or under my jeans or leggings- these socks keep my legs and feet dry and warm regardless of how much time I spend outdoors. They’re super soft, too- which is always nice this time of year when my skin tends to get on the dry side.

Here’s hoping the Black Friday crowds left some for me!

As I prepare to decorate my apartment for the holidays- I’m also focused on making it a bit warmer and cozier for myself and guests who stop by when it’s frigid out. For myself when I go to bed- I want to be toasty and cozy- and I have been loving (and living in) these flannel sheets from Cuddl Duds throughout November.

With a very cute, cabin-inspired patchwork print- these sheets have made my bedroom look like a rustic little Christmastime getaway. I’m thinking I might try to stock up on more of these tonight, too!

And I think that’s it for the photogenic favorites- but I’ve got a few more things that made the list, too!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

Living the Hozier Life – Where October was all about Bon Iver and experiencing their Boston show from the front row- November was all about going on a mini-Hozier tour with people I adore and enjoying a few days off from work to celebrate good music, beautiful venues, and a weekend of firsts.

My VIP passes are proudly on display in my apartment right now.

– GAMES/TECH/APPS –

“Death Stranding” – Okay, so I have *no* idea what is even happening right now- but I love this game and I love listening to Mads Mikkelsen say “bee-bee” over and over. So, although I haven’t beaten it yet- I’m on the side of the fence of a very divided nation that thinks this is a pretty good, compelling, and odd video game to pass the time with!

And that just about does it for my November faves, everyone! Tomorrow morning on the blog I’ll have my full recap of this past month that was before it’s time to dive headfirst into Christmas, wrapping up this decade, and New Year’s Eve!

The next few weeks are going to be insanely busy- but fun and reflective- so I’m looking forward to a little downtime this coming weekend before we get into the thick of the seasonal spirit!

Before that, though- enjoy your Friday! Be safe out there- and more importantly- be good to one another!

xx

– Ashley –

Favorites: September 2019!

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

It goes without saying that I’m thrilled the weekend is here. After a particularly busy few days at work- I’m looking forward to some downtime back home in Central Massachusetts with my family and friends over the next couple of days before we bid farewell to September (!!!) and welcome in my favorite month of the year- October!

As always, I’ll have my review and recap of this past month up and running first thing on Monday morning since it’s the last day of September- but my blogging tradition is to share my favorite finds/products/random odds and ends, first. Today seemed like just as good a day as any with it being a casual Friday- and I’ve got a lot of things I’ve been obsessing over these past few weeks!

I’ll start off with the things I was able to photograph, first- before I dive into the random things that made September so memorable this year.

Let’s take a look!

In the Fall, my makeup looks take a fun and daring direction. I like to play up the neutral shades that frequent my wardrobe this time of year with rich golds, deep berry tones- and bright reds. This past month, I kept my nails shimmering with this shimmery polish (“What’s Gold Is New”) by essie. The shade is long-lasting and super flattering with pretty much anything I wear- and should carry me right through the holiday season!

For my lips, I pregame before applying any color with this exfoliating brown sugar scrub by e.l.f. cosmetics (which tastes delicious, too!) to buff away any dead or dry patches before I either go with a moisturizing berry-toned balm by Milk Makeup (Kush Lip Balm in “Plushberry.”) or get a little more extreme with a bright red matte lip with my NARS duo of  “Holy Red” lip liner and “Inappropriate Red” lipstick.

I’ve been loving these shades and how head-turning they are whenever I wear them out and about!

Of course, I can’t update my Fall makeup collection and not give my bath & fragrance choices a bit of a seasonal makeover, too! For my shower gel, body lotion and lightweight spray-on fragrance- I turned to Bath & Body Works‘ Autumn line and picked up the “Champagne Apple & Honey” trio earlier this month instead of the usual pumpkin or cinnamon scents I reach for this time of year. I figured it was time to try something a little different!

What I’ve always loved about Bath & Body Works products- apart from their awesome prices and sales- is that the fragrances are pretty much spot-on in relation to their name/description and are never overwhelming or nauseating.

This trio makes me smell like I’ve spent a day at the orchard- it’s sweet and seasonal without being overpowering. I love it!

Finally, I have been in full-blown Fall decor mode at my new apartment- eager to cover and fill in spaces with rustic and cute decorations inspired by my favorite season. In recent weeks I’ve found a *lot* of gems at my local Big Lots and HomeGoods– including but not limited to these fun wooden pumpkins and “Happy Harvest” sign that is displayed prominently on my center console at the front of my living room and around my bedroom.

Not pictured is my “Hello Autumn” wreath and multiple strings of maple leaf and pumpkin lights- which I’m still arranging to my liking. You can check out my INSTAGRAM for the final look when it’s done!

And I think that’s it for the photogenic favorites- but a few more things made the list, too!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

“It: Chapter 2” – I was pretty much at the front of the line of people who were excited about the long-anticipated sequel to the 2017 reboot- and it didn’t disappoint. “It: Chapter 2” had everything I loved about the first one- plenty of scares, poignant moments, and a believable cast that you truly thought had known each other their whole lives.

It also had Bill Hader- who stole every single scene he was in. Absolute Oscar-contender right there!

“Back To Autumn: A Fall 2019 Playlist” – So, a little shameless self-promotion here- but earlier this week I launched my playlist for the season and I’m really quite pleased with it. The 16-track soundtrack for pumpkin picking features some newer tracks from a few of my favorite artists- as well as some treasured older songs thrown in there, too.

Feel free to give it a listen and tell me what you think!

– MISCELLANEOUS –

“My Dad Wrote a Porno…” – A friend recently recommended this podcast to me, and after listening to the first few episodes- I was hooked and ended up binging the entire thing in a matter of weeks. Now in it’s fifth season, MDWAP follows Jamie and his two friends- Alice and James- as they struggle to read through a series of erotic novels Jamie’s dad wrote over the course of a few weeks a couple of years ago.

Hilarious, insane, and at times- really, really gross- I end up laughing to the point of crying whenever I tune in. I’m excited to see the Podcast’s live show when it comes to Boston next year!

Pumpkin Pie Chai – A Fall staple at Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters– this has become my go-to beverage here in the Valley since it tastes like a liquid dessert (without the calorie count.) A hot version is comforting on a chilly day- and an iced version is beyond refreshing when the temperatures tiptoe back into the mid-80s as they’ve done in recent days. I’m hooked!

And that just about does it for my September favorites, y’all! A pretty good early-Autumnal list if I do say so myself!

Of course, if you’d like to share your favorite things from this past month- feel free to get in contact or leave a comment! I’d love to hear all about them!

I’ll be back on Monday to say goodbye to September- but here’s wishing you all a lovely weekend ahead before I sneak back into to work for the morning!

xx

– Ashley –

Favorites: July 2019!

Good Morning and Happy Monday, y’all!

After a busy Saturday in Boston (my first time downtown in over two months!) with Indie617 and spending my Sunday catching up on errands I had fallen behind on while I was ill last week- I think it’s safe to say I’m back to full health and ready to return to my normal work and blogging schedule.

With only a couple of days of July left- and no, I can’t believe it’s over already either!- my attention turns to recapping the month and preparing for some serious “Summertime Bucket List” cramming in August. I have a lot of thoughts about July- which was filled with many ups, downs, surprises and heatwaves- but I’m reserving those for Wednesday morning’s scheduled “In a Nutshell” post- as is tradition!

Today I want to focus on some of my favorite things from July. Products, thrifty finds, entertainment, etc. As always, I start with the things I was able to capture on camera and work my way down the list from there.

So without further delay- let’s get started!

First things first, you’ll notice this month’s items are placed on what is undoubtedly the greatest welcome mat ever created. I decided to truly make my new apartment a *real* home by investing in a proper mat for my door- but not any old one would do. I needed something that perfectly captured my personality and the laid-back, silly vibe I want radiating through my home for anyone who comes to visit.

What better way to do that than by capturing the most infamous line in “The Room” and proudly displaying Tommy Wiseau’s face in the process? This mat, courtesy of TheMatadoorCo, arrived super quick and is high quality. I love it!

I’ve been trying to make time to read before bed each night (when I’m not out late, obviously) since I have so many unfinished books in my collection. I recently added one more, and I haven’t been able to put it down since it arrived via Amazon. Natalie Wood was/is one of my favorite actresses of all time- gone too soon- and this biography by Suzanne Finstad, which was a New York Times Best Seller, is fantastic.

Featuring insight from the people who knew Natalie best and never before seen photos- I’m learning even more about such an incredible and gifted woman whose death still remains a troubling mystery.

I can’t tan. Actually, let me correct that- I can tan, but it requires getting a painful and dangerous sunburn beforehand. And, growing up in the nineties and early 00s- I am not stranger to self-tanners. All of them have left me orange. ALL. OF. THEM.

I was late getting on board the Jergens’ “Natural Glow” train because I assumed it would result in the same, tangerine-tint on my legs and arms that wouldn’t wash off or fade for weeks. Desperate for just a little color- I gave it a shot earlier this month and I’ve been swearing by it ever since. Obviously, this cream works as a moisturizer so my skin stays soft and smooth- but after a couple of weeks of daily use- I have a natural sun-kissed look, too.

It’s nothing too dramatic. I definitely don’t look like I’ve been in Cancun all July- but I also don’t look *as* pasty as usual- and it’s much safer and way more comfortable than getting a sunburn and waiting for it to gradually turn!

Out of all the steps I take in the morning when I’m getting ready for my day- my least favorite is fussing with my very thick and very curly hair. I just like to throw some product in and let it air dry while I tend to more pressing things. However, a lot of products are hit or miss. Some work well, while others leave my hair looking and feeling stiff or crunchy (the worst!)

I recently stumbled on this butter cream product from Garnier– specifically for curly hair and for air drying- and I don’t think I will EVER use anything else other than this moving forward. Not only does it smell delicious- but it softens my curls, tames frizz without making my hair feel heavy and hard- and actually repairs my ends while it’s left in. I have gotten more compliments in the few weeks I’ve been using this than I ever did with other and often more expensive products that were aimed towards women/men with curly hair.

I wanted new sunglasses before Summer wrapped up, and I wanted them to be unique and bright. Being in my early thirties, however- makes finding such a thing at a bit more difficult- especially since I’m a working professional and would be seen entering/exiting my place of employment in them.

I can’t necessarily walk into my office with bright pink flower-shaped sunglasses without raising a few eyebrows.

Instead, I opted for these chic and modified heart-shaped frames from Sojos that give me the best of both worlds- color and a fun, interesting shape- but subdued enough where I can wear them to work or out and about without looking like I’m trying to dress like a teenager.

These come in a variety of shades- but I am absolutely sold on the candy apple red!

When my last tube of mascara got a little goopy in the July heat- I knew it was time for a replacement. While in my local pharmacy, I scoured the aisles for something lengthening, long-lasting and waterproof (a must-have in New Engand humidity.) I spotted the striped packaging for Kokie’s “Stay Dry” black mascara and was immediately intrigued.

I ended up buying a tube, and it has not let me down since. The mascara softens, lengthens and thickens my lashes without making them look too fake or clumped together- and the formula has outlasted sweat, humidity, lake water and unfortunately a few unexpected tears as well.

Best of all? It’s only $7.00 a tube- so I think it’s safe to say this is my new go-to Summertime mascara.

And that just about does it for my photogenic favorites- but a couple of other things made the list, too!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

“The Lion King” – With a recent string of childhood movie re-makes and re-imaginations (and more scheduled to come)– this CGI re-telling of what is undoubtedly one of Disney’s most beloved, celebrated, and possibly traumatic children’s movies ever made was surprisingly really, really good.

The effects were breathtaking, but it was the excellent choice of voice actors that really made this one worth the watch for me- particularly Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner as Timon and Pumbaa. I was actually laughing out loud in the theater whenever you could hear them on screen. It was perfect.

– MISCELLANEOUS –

Starbucks’ S’mores Frappuccino – AKA, the only thing that helped my throat while I was sick. They’re a limited edition Summertime drink- so be sure to grab one before they start rolling out the Fall beverages in early-to-mid September if you haven’t done so already!

And that just about does it for me today, guys. Like I said earlier- I’ll have my full recap of July up and running this coming Wednesday before we swan dive into August. This month was a doozy.

As always, if you want to share some of your favorite things from this past month- feel free to drop me a line!

Enjoy your Monday and here’s hoping it’s an easy start to the work week ahead. Cheers!

xx

– Ashley –

Making a House a Home…

Good Morning- Happy Friday- and Happy First Day of Summer, everyone!

While I was in a full-Summer state of mind weeks ago when the temperatures first began soaring and I started wearing shorts outdoors on the weekends- I actually haven’t participated in any of the usual early Summer activities I’m typically diving into by now. There have been no beach trips, no lobster rolls, and no poolside hangouts- although there has admittedly been more than one ice cream cone in recent days.

A lot of my time, when not working- has been getting situated in my new apartment- where I’ve officially been for a month now! I’m still finding places for my things, still exploring my neighborhood and surrounding communities- and up until this this past Wednesday- I was still waiting on the last of my furniture to arrive. That’s not to say I didn’t make do without a bed frame. I’ve never been one to be too high maintenance to sleep on a mattress on the floor for an unknown length of time, after all- but this apartment never really felt like “home” until I had an actual bed and a couch in it. Now it feels more like “mine”- and I’m absolutely loving it.

There’s still a lot to do, of course. I need to get my TV mounted, actually decorate a little and organize my things- but I’m a lot more comfortable and cozy here and excited to see how my space develops over the next few weeks/months.

I digress, the point of this was also to say that now that it’s *officially* Summer and my life has a bit more stability in it- I can get started on catching up on that list of things I’m typically doing this time of year! The first thing is absolutely going to be eating a lobster roll, by the way.

Although prior to the arrival of my furniture on Wednesday-  I did have an opportunity to drive one town over to a little farm in the area where people could pick their own strawberries. I’d never done that before, but let me tell you- it was FUN– and I got some really, really good pickings!

So, so delicious!

This weekend I’ll be on indie617 from 12-4 (Saturday) and then I may catch a performance in Turner’s Falls Saturday night. Then on Sunday, with lobster roll in hand- I might venture out to explore MASS MoCA for the first time. Or, if it’s hot enough- take a dip in one of the local lakes or rivers around here!

Regardless of where I end up and what I end up doing- you can count on plenty of photos on my INSTAGRAM and here on the blog when I return on Monday morning!

Enjoy that Summer Solstice, everyone- and the weekend ahead! See you all next week!

xx

– Ashley –