April 2019: In a Nutshell

Good Morning and Happy Tuesday, everyone!

I had mentioned last Friday that the posting schedule would be a short one this week- mostly due to the way the end of the month fell and my other obligations over the next few days as I prepare for my West Coast vacation and my move (!!!)

April has been insanely busy, surprising and filled with new and exciting changes from start to finish- a theme I foresee carrying over into May and possibly June, as well. The biggest news of all, of course- is that I’ll be moving from the city and out to the Pioneer Valley (and into a lovely loft) within a couple of weeks after quietly and discreetly looking around the area and coordinating the arrangements before I finally got to make the big announcement recently when I’d signed my lease agreement and it was official!

I’m so excited to share my new neighborhood, community and discoveries/explorations as I adapt to life in an absolutely beautiful, picturesque area of the state! I recently shared one of my favorite places (so far!) during one of my last trips out to the soon-to-be-apartment- The Montague Bookmill!

There have been some changes at my full-time job, as well- including a new office space after there was a readjustment and realignment within the company that left some of my co-workers in different departments. I am, admittedly, still adjusting to those changes since I’m now working with an entirely different team that I’m still getting to know over these past couple of weeks- but so far, so good!

As always, I spent time with friends- including ones visiting from out of state and ones that just moved a little further away- and my family, as well. Easter was particularly fun and laid back– and despite all the changes I’ve been adapting to- of course I still had time to talk about the most recent season of “The Walking Dead.” Priorities!

So, with April packaged up nicely with a bow- what’s in store for May? The move, obviously- but next week I venture out to fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada (with a quick pit stop in San Diego, California) to spend some long overdue time with my West Coast Wife and her daughter. I’ve also got some fun Memorial Day Weekend plans lined up- as well as my usual assortment of recipes, OOTD/Fashion posts and recaps of nights out in and around the area.

I’m so excited for the coming weeks and hope you’ll all join me here and on my social media as I share my journey(s). April was a great month for making big decisions and taking huge steps towards goals and opportunities- and I’m sorry it has to end so soon!

I’m off to work for the day, but I’ll be back on Thursday with some updates from the family theater company I’ve been working with, as well as some odds and ends before the posting schedule returns to normal next week.

Here’s wishing you all a great day!

xx

– Ashley –

Monday, Monday…

Good Morning and Happy (ugh…) Monday, everyone!

I suppose I can’t complain too much since I have the day off from work- and with Friday being my half day- it’s shaping up to be a quick, easy and painless week at the office for me. Although the sun seems to be indecisive this morning as to whether it wants to come out or not- it’s warm out and I’ve got a lovely drive ahead of me. Not to/from Montpelier, Vermont as originally planned- since there was a change in scheduling (I’ll get to in a minute)– but to meet with my soon-to-be-landlord at my soon-to-be-new-apartment to go over some final details.

I’ll also be taking the remainder of the afternoon to visit one of my favorite places in the Valley and, more specifically- Montague, Massachusetts. It’s been ages since I’ve been and today seems like just as good a time as any to go!

Don’t worry- I’ll have the photos/recap up shortly. It’s one of my favorite well-kept-secrets out in Western Mass!

Did everyone who celebrated Easter have a good one? I’m still a bit sluggish from the huge dinner I had at my mom’s house last night- but the company was great and the weather was perfect. The only downside I can think of is that we were missing a few people due to unexpected illnesses and last minute scheduling conflicts- including my uncle who I had been preparing to pick up in Vermont and bring down to stay with my family for the weekend. He couldn’t make it- although there’s talk of planning a Summer cookout/BBQ for his birthday to make up for it, instead.

Regardless, we all had a wonderful time and I have enough leftovers to last me a few days- which is always appreciated. I even managed to dress Oliver up in his Sunday best for the occasion!

He looks like he’s ready to lead the Debate Team to victory.

As April winds down over the next few days and we prepare for May- I’m also preparing for a week-long trip to the West Coast in a couple of weeks, my move to the Valley, the Boston Calling Festival and other late Spring/early Summer plans and travel I have lined up locally. There’s so much happening and I’m just trying to take it day by day and not burn myself out!

Later on this week I’ll have the photos from my adventure in Montague this afternoon up and running, and then on Friday I’ll be sharing some of my favorite things/items/products/odds and ends/etc. from this past month.

Here’s hoping you all have an easy and stress-free start to your week! I’ll be back on Wednesday!

xx

– Ashley –

Pre-Easter Prep

Good Morning and Happy (Good) Friday, everyone!

I’m not a particularly religious person. My family, rooted in Catholicism since way back when- have grown considerably more lax in our religious beliefs than say, my grandparents or my great-grandparents were in their day. While Easter was all about God and Jesus and uncomfortable, overly-starched frilly dresses or suits for my parents when they were little- they’ve thankfully raised my brothers and I to just make it all about food, fun, and being with family.

A holiday I can get behind, really!

This weekend- which will be spent at my mother’s house- is going to be a bit chaotic, to say the least. In-between all the cooking, cleaning, and decorating- I’m also taking on the responsibility of picking up and bringing back family members who reside way up North in Vermont- more than a few hours away. I don’t mind, since it’s a lovely drive and Spring has sprung and all- but it’ll take place in-between my gig at Indie617 on Saturday and work obligations on Monday.

Needless to say I’m going to need one serious power nap come Monday afternoon/evening- but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. For now, I’m just excited to see my family again before my big move next month! It’s going to be a bit time consuming and hectic around that time- so I’m looking forward to the calm before the storm where I can eat, drink, laugh and catch up with cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.

I’ve got some fun photos, re-caps, and my “Monthly Favorites” to share next week when I return to Blondie Birdie bright and early post-holiday on Monday morning- but I’ve got some handy links for those of you who are still getting your Easter breakfasts/brunches/dinners together that I hope will help!

That just about does it for me this week. I’ve got to get going at work and get ready for some plans I have later on today/tonight out in Western Massachusetts.

I hope you all have a fun, safe, candy-filled Easter! I’ll see you all again on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –

Easter Eats: Cookies-and-Cream Shortbread Cookies

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

In my family, both immediate and extended- making the time to have occasional big, family dinners with lots of food and conversation is really important. The older everyone gets, and the more responsibilities and other commitments/engagements that come up- the harder it is to get everyone together.

We all know and understand that- which is why we treasure holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter (and sometimes the 4th of July or Memorial Day during the Summer!) It’s when everyone can be together and eat, drink and be merry.

My mother hosts Easter at her home every year- and while she typically enjoys taking charge and putting together the menu- she never says no to any dishes anyone wants to bring with them to share. When I bring food, I typically gravitate towards appetizers (they’re so much fun!) and side dishes- but I’m also known to whip up some pretty good desserts, too.

This year, in lieu of my usual “safe desserts” like thumbprint cookies or my experimental cakes and pies- I thought I’d bring this fun spin on shortbread cookies, instead- which is a chocolate lover’s dream!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

FOR THE COOKIES:

  • 15 chocolate sandwich cookies
  • ½ cup (56g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup (226g) cubed unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (241g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

FOR THE GLAZE:

  • 1 cup (113g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. MAKE THE COOKIES: Preheat the oven to 300°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the cookies until they form fine crumbs, about 1 minute. Remove 2 tablespoons of the cookie crumbs and reserve in a small bowl.
  3. Add the confectioners’ sugar to the food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and process until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl of the food processor well.
  4. Add the flour and salt, and pulse until the dough comes together, about 30 seconds. Add the vanilla and process until combined.
  5. Divide the dough in half and then form each piece into an inch-thick disk. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to ⅓ inch thick. Cut the dough into circles using a round fluted cookie cutter and then transfer to the prepared baking sheets.
  6. Bake until the cookies start to brown at the edges, 15 to 17 minutes. Cool completely.
  7. MAKE THE GLAZE: In a medium bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar and cream until a thick glaze forms. Working one at a time, spoon 1 teaspoon of glaze on top of each cookie. Let the glaze set for 5 minutes, then sprinkle the reserved cookie crumbs on top of each cookie. The glaze will fully set in another 10 to 15 minutes and then the cookies are ready to serve.

I had opted to sprinkle crumbled up sandwich cookie chunks on top of the still-setting glaze as opposed to the finely pulsed cookie crumbs I’d initially used to create the dough- since I thought it gave these a more fun look- but you can do it by the book if desired!

The result is a sweet, decadent dessert that serves as the perfect finale to a great meal! I can’t wait for my mother to see (and eat) these when I bring the next batch to her house.

And with that being said- there are lots of big changes happening at my job this week, which I’ll discuss at a later time when I have a free moment- and I’m here bright and early to get the jump on them and stay on top of things!

I’m off- but here’s wishing you all an easy start to your day and your work week!

xx

– Ashley –

“Hippity, Hoppity…”

Good Morning and Happy Hump Day, everyone!

It’s worth asking “is it Friday yet?” even though I already know the answer. This week feels like it’s dragging- and the on/off again snow and rain isn’t particularly helping things around here. That’s right- we’re still getting flurries here in Massachusetts- and it’s enough to make me want to just scream into the abyss at this point!

Sunday, however- was lovely- and not just in terms of the weather (which was sunny and warm most of the morning/afternoon.) My family- immediate and extended- gathered for a huge Easter dinner together and it was so much fun since the last time all of us were together was on Thanksgiving!

Being able to catch up with everyone all at once was refreshing. One of my cousins announced he was expecting a baby with his longtime girlfriend, while another cousin is heading down to New Orleans for a vacation through this coming weekend. The food was fantastic, the Sox won, and my mom surprised everyone with mini Easter baskets/presents loaded with candy- which was a huge hit with my niece and my cousin’s younger step-sons.

And while there was definitely tons of snacks/desserts- my mom planned ahead and stocked up on some cheap Tupperware so she could send each and every single person home with plenty of leftovers at the end of the night! Smart thinking- since none of the food will go to waste- and also because she had a lot less to clean up the following day!

But I’ve got to get to work. Today is filled with meetings and phone calls- so I’m really looking forward to getting home tonight and being able to decompress (and work on perfecting a recipe that I’m hoping to share this coming Friday!)

Hang in there, everyone! We’re almost to the weekend!

xx

– Ashley –