Reader’s Choice 2019!

Good Morning and Happy Thursday, everyone!

As we ready ourselves for Friday and the weekend- I wanted to take a moment to talk about some super fun developments with the family theater company I’m involved in- and ask for your help (and it’ll only take 2 minutes of your time- I promise!)

As some of you (most of you?) know- I signed on earlier this year to work with my friends at PaintBox Theatre based out of the Pioneer Valley. I’m their current marketing and publicity director, and even though the season doesn’t officially kick off until the end of June- it’s been a really fun journey so far!

A little background information on PaintBox: they are a family theater company, gearing up for their 16th (!!!) season. They take beloved children’s’ stories and give them an updated, modern twist on stage with enough subtle humor to keep the adults laughing, as well- all while encouraging literacy, self-expression, creativity, inclusiveness, kindness and play. The costumes and props are easy to replicate and made with simple materials- so children can utilize things they have at home while letting their imaginations take care of the rest.

And all of this is done with a talented cast, a dedicated crew- and the love and support of our community and sponsors who keep us going!

All that being said, we’ve been nominated for “Best Summer Theater” in the Daily Hampshire Gazette– an honor we won last year and a title we hope to hold onto this year, as well!

Voting takes- legitimately– a minute, and it would mean the world to me, the company and everyone PaintBox has made smile over the years if you could take the time to vote for us. Our category is under “Arts & Entertainment.”

CLICK HERE TO VOTE

If you did- thank you so, so, SO much!

And if not, the voting is open until 5/19/19 at 5 PM (EST.) Please consider helping out!

And of course, if you’d like to learn more about the company and our impending Summer season- please feel free to visit our website (linked above) or our social media accounts (you’ll see my designs on each!) It’s going to be a wonderful season of really great shows the whole family can enjoy!

I’m off to work for the day, and then keeping busy tomorrow through the weekend. I’m going to be back on Monday when the posting schedule returns to normal- and right before I leave for my trip to the West Coast!

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful rest of your week and a warm, safe, fun weekend!

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 –

Pirates and Piglets…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

Before I begin another week at work and try to stay dry during what is shaping up to be a rainy few days ahead- I wanted to dial it back a bit and share some of my favorite moments from this past weekend! There was a lot of driving, a considerable amount of delicious food- and a little bit of theater!

On Saturday, I had made the mini-trek down to Mystic, Connecticut for the first time in a couple of years. My original plan was to do a little shopping in Olde Mistick Village (a series of shops, boutiques and restaurants set within a 1700s style-inspired Colonial village) and then grab a slice of pizza over at Mystic Pizza over on Main Street. Yes, *the* Mystic Pizza.

What I hadn’t anticipated was the traffic- both road-wise and pedestrian. When I was a kid, my family typically visited/stayed in Mystic during the Fall- and it was never particularly busy. That all changes in the Summer, however- when tourists flock from all over to get a taste of that small, quaint, seaside New England charm. Not only was getting from point A to B a hassle in itself- but parking was pretty much impossible. After doing some shopping in the village and driving by Mystic Pizza (sadly, may I add-) I eventually returned home to get rested up for yesterday.

I did manage to buy my mother and my dog each a cute present while I was in town, though- so not all was lost.

Yesterday morning, with coffee in hand- I swung by Easthampton to catch my friend Troy in his performance for Paintbox Theatre’s “Pirates!” (which I blogged about last week!) The show was, I believe, sold out- and the auditorium appeared packed to capacity with very excited children and amused adults as they watched the pandemonium take place on stage, in the aisles, and even in the audience.

It was beyond adorable- and I’m so, so proud of the incredible cast and crew who were involved in what ended up being Easthampton’s official Pirate Day- per the mayor- who also happened to be in attendance!

After the show, I headed out so Troy could get going on the planned activities for the kids for the remainder of the afternoon- heading back out towards Central Massachusetts and dodging sunshowers (that turned into thunderstorms) that rolled through the area. Famished before I could reach my destination, I saw signs for Stone Cow Brewery in Barre and decided to stop and indulge in some of their BBQ, a beer, and the scenery. I’ve passed by the place so many times in the past but never had the time to stop- but I’m sure glad I did!

Not only was the food amazing (their corn bread is some of the best I’ve ever tasted)- but the surrounding farmland was beautiful and seeing some baby animals while I strolled the area was the cherry on top of a perfect afternoon.

Although I did feel a little bad when I came across the baby piglets. Especially since I had just eaten a pulled pork sandwich. Yikes.

Overall it was a pretty fun weekend- and being back at work is definitely a downer!

This week I’ve got a fun grilling recipe I’m excited to share with everyone, as well as a peek into some of my favorite products, items, odds & ends from July- so keep an eye out!

Until then, though- I hope you all have a fantastic start to your week. Let’s get through it together!

xx

– Ashley –

Ahoy, Mateys!

When it comes to theater and the arts- I wouldn’t exactly call myself a refined, sophisticated know-it-all- and I like what I like without apology. I was a trained ballet dancer through my teens and a Fine Arts major in NYC for all of thirty seconds in my early twenties before I made the switch to wide-eyed traveler, tenacious law student and tireless writer. But my interest in performances and painting never waned.

I like immersive theater the best- and anything dark, broody or supernatural and spooky is right up my alley given my self-proclaimed “Halloween Queen” title- but sometimes family-friendly and downright silly can be an unexpected delight that I treat myself to from time to time. When that type of theater happens to take place right in the heart of Western Massachusetts- an area I frequent often and truly enjoy spending time in- it’s even better.

My first introduction to Paintbox Theater was in the Summer of 2014 after a return trip from San Diego Comic-Con (speaking of- I hope everyone attending this week has a great time and uploads an obscene amount of photos so I can keep up!) My longtime friend, Troy- an actor with an almost intimidating resume and now company manager at Paintbox- had picked me up at the airport and invited me to come along to a rehearsal so I could see firsthand what it is that they do.

He was also borrowing my car that week- which I’m sure impacted his decision to invite me to some degree- but that’s neither here nor there.

Paintbox- founded by Tom McCabe, a celebrated storyteller (who also serves as a writer and director of the company’s productions)– puts on three shows every Summer that not only interact heavily with it’s teeny-tiny audience members- but simultaneously encourages literacy, kindness, and friendship with each performance. All the things this world so desperately needs right now, really.

They do this by incorporating audience participation and allowing children to add their own artwork to the set- drawings that are shown via a projection screen over the stage that are used to depict scenery, characters, points in the story, etc. It’s a nice and adorable way for kids to feel like they’re *in* on the play and included in the shenanigans and sometimes absolute pandemonium (in a controlled, safe way of course) happening with the actors onstage.

And if you’re worried that there isn’t anything to keep the adults entertained during all of this- think again. Some of the jokes, which are subtle enough to go way above a toddler’s head- are pretty perfect for any parent or grown-up patron who needs a good chuckle.

I was completely moved by the company’s efforts to reach and entertain children back in 2014- and have popped by performances now and then through the years to say hello. Now, in it’s celebratory 15th season- Paintbox is getting ready for their second show of the Summer: “Pirates!” and since I’m always looking to share fun things to do around New England- I thought this would be perfect for those of you reading this (with or without younger ones) who might want to travel to one of the more beautiful areas of Massachusetts and catch a show while supporting a great group of hardworking people.

I, myself, have been a proud supporter of Paintbox for years now- and think you’d all enjoy it!

Saturday- July 21, 2018 @ 10:30 AM & 1:00 PM – Sunday- July 22, 2018 @ 10:30 AM

Williston Theater @ 18 Payson Ave, Easthampton, MA. 01027

(the Sunday show will immediately be followed by a 2nd annual “Pirate Day” with games and activities.)

Wednesday- July 25, 2018 @ 10:30 AM (Rain Date: Thursday, July 26, 2018 @ 10:30 AM)

Millside Park @ 2 Ferry Street along the Manhan Rail Trail

Tickets can be purchased at the website linked above, or by CLICKING HERE.

Enjoy your Wednesday, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –