Late Night Watch…

Good Evening and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it to another weekend!

Today’s post is, obviously, being published much later in the day than usual- and for good reason. I pulled a (near) all-nighter last night that was simply sensational and worth the current groggy, foggy feeling I’ve got going on. I’m going to sleep beautifully tonight!

After dodging some late-afternoon/early-evening thunderstorms and micro-bursts in the Valley yesterday on my way home from my office- it was off to another delicious and beautiful meal with Troy at Galaxy in Easthampton– which is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to hang out and stuff my face.

And, I won’t lie- I got a little tipsy-topsy on the most delicious rum and coconut cocktail ever. I’m going to miss all the Summer-themed drinks come September/October!

Hours later, long after I sobered up and well past midnight- I headed around the corner from my apartment to drop by and visit friends who were hosting an all-night art/photography exhibit in Bank Row in Greenfield.

Over the weekend, someone(s) ripped down and destroyed stunning portraits that were hanging downtown of local legend, drag queen- and absolutely wonderful and talented human being- Joe Dulude II. The portraits were bright, fun, and livened up the area- and their destruction caused a lot of distress to those who know/knew Joe and are familiar with the work he does for, and the joy he brings to the community.

Last night, as a sign of resilience- multiple portraits of Joe in drag (all done by the same incredible photographer who had taken the ones that had been vandalized) were projected on the side of the former First National Bank where the originals had once hung. The impromptu art installation lasted all night- wrapping up this morning- and when I stopped by at nearly 1 a.m. the party was still going strong.

It was wonderful to see everyone, talk, laugh, admire the photos- and say hello to other night owls that were passing by. It was such a positive outcome for such a negative and destructive act.

Next week on the blog, I’m talking Summer Slam, makeup, and recapping an upcoming visit to one of my favorite New England stops during the Summer!

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful weekend ahead. I’ll see you all again on Monday!

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 –

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 –

Stop and Smell The Flowers…

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

While I prepare to launch myself into what will undoubtedly be another busy day at work and an evening of post-office plans- I wanted to look back on this past weekend- which was actually super relaxing, sunny, and warm!

I had mentioned last Friday when I was wrapping up the month of May and how it had been for me that my best friend Sean- who still presently resides just outside of Boston- was coming to spend the weekend with me so he could see my new place for the first time and be introduced to the Pioneer Valley with an impromptu tour. I had an idea of a couple of the places I wanted to take him while he was here (weather permitting)– but the rest was very much a spontaneous adventure!

I knew that after showing Sean my apartment and the surrounding neighborhood that I wanted to take him to Northampton- which is sort of the hub of the valley. We spent the entire evening walking around looking at all the shops, artwork, and scenery- and made sure to grab a bite to eat at Mama Iguanas and iced maple lattes at The Roost (we even had a special appearance from Troy who stopped by our table at dinner to say hello!)

Sean was blown away by just how much there was to do and see around pretty much every corner- and when our feet started to hurt from walking so much- we popped by the Tunnel Bar for a nightcap before it was time to return home.

On Sunday morning, we opted to stay a little closer to my neck of the woods and had brunch at the nearby Hope & Olive– where I had the best frittata and home fries of my life and met some of Troy’s theater friends- who he’d quested via text to find me and say hello since they were also having brunch in the same restaurant. It was a pleasant surprise and everyone was very, very kind.

Afterwards, with the sun shining bright and the temperatures (and humidity) rising- I took Sean to the two locations I had planned early on. One was the Montague Bookmill, which I had blogged about during my last visit there on a rainy day in April– and the second was the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls.

It’s been just about a year since I last visited the Bridge of Flowers- give or take- but what I love about it is that every time I come back- there’s something new and different to look at. The flowers are beautiful and the views of the Deerfield River are breathtaking. While we were there- I managed to snap some really great photos of the scenery and some of my favorite blossoms.

If you’d like to enlarge any of the photos below- just click on them!

By the time a couple of late afternoon thunderstorms began rolling through the area- Sean was already en route back to the city and I was back at my apartment doing laundry and cleaning. Perfect timing!

I’m hoping to visit a couple more destinations on my “to do” list now that I’m becoming more established in the area- and if the weather is as sunny and bright as the forecast is predicting- then this weekend is looking like a good time as any to check them out!

But before we get to this coming weekend- we have to finish up the actual weekdays, first. I’m off to get started at my office and have some much-needed caffeine- but here’s hoping you all enjoy your “Hump Day!”

See you again on Friday!

xx

– Ashley –