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 –

July 2019: In a Nutshell

Good Afternoon and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

While posting this late in the day always makes me feel a bit unproductive- I’ve actually been anything but. I’ve been working from home since 7:30 this morning after a super fun (but super late) night out last night. I’ve been running on fumes but getting SO much done today!

Not bad for someone who hasn’t even had coffee or a shower yet, right? Gross, I know- but that’s next on my “To Do” list for today.

Speaking of “To Do” lists- my Summer 2019 Bucket List is still chock full of things I want to accomplish in these final hazy, humid August weeks ahead before September and Fall creep up on us as they always do. Autumn may be my favorite season, but that’s not to say I don’t love the Summertime, too!

With tomorrow marking the first day of a new month, it’s that time where I look back on the last few weeks and recap the highs and lows of the month that was- and July was full of them.

I started the month by meeting my neighbors and making new friends at a community potluck for the 4th of July– and cooling off at what has quickly become one of my favorite spots in the Valley after I was introduced to it by a friend last Summer while I was visiting the area. I’ve returned to Ashfield Lake multiple times this month- especially when New England was being gripped day after day by heatwaves and scorching temperatures.

I also began to further plant some roots in my community as I embraced and attended the Green River Festival– which takes place a short walking distance (and drive) away from my apartment. Although I had only gone for the day- I had a wonderful time in the sunshine listening to music, eating fun food and buying cute clothes.

Of course, July isn’t without sad memories and reflection. This past month marked seven long years since my father passed away, and I opened up to pen a tell-all about the aftermath, the trauma, and the recovery with losing someone you’re close with so abruptly.

Additionally, work was difficult this month- both at my full-time job where tensions are running higher than the temperatures outside between co-workers, supervisors and at times- myself- but also within the Pioneer Valley theater community where I am preparing to ride out the last few shows of my contracted season while simultaneously juggling a plethora of other responsibilities.

And to top it all off- I got an insane flu during what have been the hottest days of the year to date. I was miserable- but thankfully was able to bounce back without a trip to the ER.

All in all? July left me TIRED, y’all!

But August is just a few hours away, and I’ve edited/re-tweaked my Summer Bucket List to better balance with my still hectic schedule. There’s a lot of fun things I’m determined to do/see and I’m excited to finally get around to it- starting this coming weekend- and of course I’ll take plenty of pictures along the way!

So although July was an emotional, physical, and mental roller coaster at times- it wasn’t all bad. It had it’s wonderful moments between sticky days, sweaty nights, sunburns and sneezing fits. I’ll cheers to the good times, for sure!

But I’m also going to toast to August- a new month filled with new possibilities that I hope is good to us all and doesn’t require nearly as much air conditioning to feel comfortable as July did.

And If you’re in need of some late Summer assistance- don’t forget to:

GIVE MY SUMMER 2019 PLAYLIST A LISTEN!

TRY SOME OF MY RECENT SUMMER-INSPIRED RECIPES!

And also go see a movie because there’s so many good things playing right now. Popcorn AND A/C? Yes please!

I’ll be back on Friday with a look at last night’s shenanigans. Enjoy your “Hump Day”, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

A Day at Green River Festival…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

I’ve taken a personal day from work today. Originally, I had plans with some friends to head down to the Cape for the morning/afternoon- however our schedules and respective obligations caused a delay and the trip is now postponed until further notice.

Today also happens to be the anniversary of my dad’s passing- which is always a pretty difficult day to get through- so I’m opting to keep busy and spend the day with my mom so we don’t have to be alone in our memories and grief. We’re going to do some shopping and dining out in my neighborhood- which I’m excited for.

I’m also low-key recovering from stopping by the Green River Festival yesterday and roasting under the sun for a few hours. The festival, a 3-day music/art/cultural celebration- is only a couple of miles away from my new apartment- so parking and reaching the festival on foot were no problem at all. It was a beautiful and sunny Sunday afternoon- and while I’d heard of the festival in the past- I’ve never had to opportunity to go and enjoy it for myself until now.

I saw some fantastic performances, ate some great food, and shopped some local vendors in-between ducking into the shade and snapping some photos.

If you’d like to see bigger versions, simply click!

My favorite find of the day came courtesy of Taproot Threads, based out of my town. All of the artwork featured on their pieces is hand-drawn, and printed on fair-trade garments with water-based ink. The material is soft, lightweight and cozy- and I’m wearing this t-shirt today when I go to spend time with my mom!

Look at how lovely the illustration is up-close!

It was such a great day, and next year I may try to go for all three days (Friday-Sunday. With my work schedule this year, yesterday was the only day I could pull off!)

With many local businesses now going into post-festival “recovery mode”- I anticipate it will be quiet day around the neighborhood. The perfect opportunity to rest and relax.

But I need coffee and I need it now- so I’m off! Here’s wishing you all a good start to your work-week. I’ll be back on Wednesday!

xx

– Ashley –

May 2019: In a Nutshell

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

We’ve made it to another weekend- and we’re leaving another month behind us! It’s hard to believe that June is here and we’re halfway through 2019 already. There’s still so much I want to accomplish and do before Winter creeps up on us again- and now the pressure is really on since Summer is pretty much here now!

I plan to do a mid-year “check in” regarding my New Year’s Resolutions, goals, aspirations, etc. now that we’re a few hours shy from being six months into 2019- but before I do that- I wanted to focus on taking a look back on May.

This past month has been one of the busiest, most surreal, exciting and unexpected for me- filled with big life changes, travel, a festival for good measure- and lots of time with friends and family. I’m still in a bit of a daze that these past few weeks happened- but when I think about them, I can’t help but smile!

The biggest and probably most important thing to happen in May was that I packed up and left my life and nearly everything I’ve ever known as a city girl behind- choosing instead to move out to the more rural, picturesque and “rustic” Pioneer Valley to forge a new chapter in my life and be a bit more independent while living on my own. I’ve only been here for a couple of weeks- but I truly love it here and I have lots of fun posts planned as I continue to familiarize myself with my new neighborhood and all it’s quirky attractions.

I had posted some photos of my apartment in the “bare bones” stage just hours after my move in- but I’m expecting the last of my furniture to arrive in the days ahead so be prepared for a LOT of home decor talk on here and my social media in June! I’ve got a Pinterest account and an empty shopping cart on Etsy- and I know how to use them.

Cambridge, MA. May 25th.

Just prior to that, I spent a week in Nevada- with a road trip to San Diego to see White Lies perform mixed in– with my West Coast Wife, Kelsey- and her husband and little girl. My days were super relaxing, laid-back, and filled with air conditioning, binge-watching true crime dramas and lots of good food- which is how all vacations should be, really. I couldn’t have asked for a better stay and I am so excited to head back there this Fall.

And then there was Boston Calling- where I stopped by last Saturday to spend time with my Indie617 crew, my good friend Steven who was in town- and see some incredible artists while the sun was shining bright. I had the most perfect day while I was there- and I can’t wait to gush all about it during my show tomorrow at the station (from 12-4 PM EST!)

I’m already speculating about next year’s lineup- that’s how eager I am to do it all over again!

And as always- there were plenty of dinners and celebrations at my mom’s house, with my friends in and around the city- and in the Valley as well.

I’m hoping to carry some of this momentum with me into June. I’m already kicking things off with a visit from my BFF Sean- who is coming to stay for the weekend so I can show him around my place and my neighborhood- and the 16th season of PaintBox kicks off near the end of the month- which I have been tirelessly preparing for and am so thrilled and anxious to see just how all the hard work myself and all of the cast and crew have put in these past few months pays off (fingers crossed!)

I also intend to show off some of the Valley here on Blondie Birdie, share some recipes from my sparkling new kitchen- and give a glimpse into some of my favorite Summer ensembles now that warmer days and sunshine are- hopefully– on the way!

Here’s to May- and June being just as lovely for all of us!

I hope you all have a wonderful, fun and safe weekend ahead. I’ll be back on Monday to get the Summer season going!

xx

– Ashley –

“Here Comes The Calling…”

Good Morning, Happy Monday- and Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

My goodness, what a weekend I’ve had- and because today is a holiday and I have the day off from work as a result- I am absolutely looking forward to decompressing and taking it easy. I’ve got some laid back lunch/shopping plans with my mom during the day, and then a movie date a little later on tonight (I’m finally seeing “John Wick 3” and I couldn’t be more excited about it!)

I’ll also be sporadically applying aloe vera throughout the day since I got a teeny, tiny sunburn from Saturday. Come to find out- me, the Queen of SPF 50- managed to forget to apply a good amount to my collarbone area and upper arms in the frenzy that was Boston Calling. Not my proudest moment- but the redness and soreness will definitely serve as a painful reminder for next time. *DON’T* forget to apply sunscreen!

Yes, this past Saturday was an absolute whirlwind of incredible music, delicious food, and good times among friends. I spent my day at Boston Calling with the Indie617 crew and my dear friend Steven, who was in town to do lights for Hozier at the festival- and I had the absolute best time ever.

Things kicked off with a little patio pre-party from 12-2 at Casa Caña in Cambridge- where I broadcast my show, soaked up the sun and grooved to good tunes before it was time to make my way over to the Harvard University Athletics Complex- which is where the festival is now housed after moving from City Hall Plaza a couple of years ago.

From there, my day was spent hanging out with Steven where we got to walk around, catch up, and stuff our faces with our favorite festival must-have- the “BBQ Bomb” from The Smoke Shop BBQ. It’s essentially a waffle cone filled with meat, mac and cheese, beans and coleslaw- and it’s life-changing. Steven and I discovered them last year at Boston Calling when he was in town with The Killers- and it was pretty much the number one thing on our itinerary this past Saturday afternoon.

I also spent time at the Indie617 media tent where lots of great artist interviews and coverage was taking place throughout the three days of the festival (which wrapped up last night with a closing performance by Travis Scott.) The photos and videos will be up on the Indie617 website- but you can also peep our social media for clips and behind the scenes footage that we shot during the event.

There was also beer. A lot of beer- which is always appreciated on hot days. I work with an incredibly talented, eager, hard-working and super fun team of people at the station and I’m so unbelievably grateful to be apart of their ranks and to be able to participate in unbelievably cool events like this with them.

And, just a reminder- but you can listen to me on Saturdays from 12-4 PM (EST). I return to the studio this coming weekend! Download our free app or stream online at our website to listen!

And then there were the artists- and what an incredible lineup Saturday had. Clairo, Mitski, Hozier (and I had the best seat in the house to see the whole, stunning performance!) and Tame Impala’s mindblowing set to close out the evening. I sang along. I danced- shamelessly- and managed to take a few good photos when the moment was right!

As always, if you’d like to make any of the images below bigger- simply click on them!

It truly was an awesome day/night and I cannot wait to do it again next year.

That just about does it for me today, since I have to get on the road to go meet with my mom and start our adventure for the day. With May coming to an end this week (!!!) I’m going to be taking a look at some of my favorite things from this past month- before wrapping it up with a neat little look-back/recap on Friday morning.

I hope you all have a safe, sunny and fun-filled Monday. It’s the unofficial start of the Summer- so let’s get through this short week together!

xx

– Ashley –