November 2018: In a Nutshell

Good Morning, Happy Friday- and Hello (Almost) December, everyone!

Christmas and New Year’s Eve are practically here- and there’s still so much to be done before we deck the halls and prepare to ring in 2019! Yes, it’s officially the busiest and one of the most beautiful times of year again- and I’m both excited and anxious (mostly excited, though!) It feels like I can’t sit still!

Before I tumble into December with my Christmas decorations, various gingerbread recipes and gift shopping lists in tow- I wanted to take a look back on November and all the late-Autumn fun that came with it. In a year filled with months that seemed to come and go in the blink of an eye- November actually felt much longer than usual- which had it’s ups and downs, of course.

November started off with a celebratory bang- with one of my dearest long-time friends getting married in a beautiful ceremony (with an equally gorgeous reception) a few days after the month had kicked off. This was followed-up by a different kind of celebration as one of my other friends celebrated their 35th birthday and then yet another friend announced her engagement! It was a solid 72 hours filled with laughter, ecstatic squealing- and cake…

… So much cake, you guys.

With Daylight Savings Time and the first significant snowfall of the season taking place this month and pretty much sending the message that Winter was well on it’s way- November became less about pumpkin spice and crunchy leaves and more about hot chocolate and bundling up. By the end of last week- temperatures had dropped significantly enough to where I needed a hat, a scarf, and an ice scraper for my windshield.

Only in New England, I suppose- but I love living here- and have to take the bad with the good.

Of course, as November began to wind down- it was all about the food. Multiple Friendsgivings and the actual Thanksgiving meal itself left me stuffed and overly lazy these past few days- but the quality time spent with family and friends was worth having to practically crawl to my couch by the time dessert was done.

Admittedly, November had it’s not-so-great parts, too. With the holiday(s) came stress, and with the decreased sunlight came that first wave of Vitamin D deficiency (and seasonal depression.) Late last week and then earlier this week I had a bit of a falling out with a guy friend of mine I’d been spending a lot of time with for most of the year and leading up to now. He’s overwhelmed. I’m overworked and exhausted- and now our future heading into December is a bit uncertain.

It’s not a great feeling, especially with things like Christmas approaching- but I’m trying to stay busy and optimistic. Whatever is meant to happen will happen on it’s own and in due time. The silver lining is that the experience gave me some much-needed perspective and now, as I prepare to draft my resolutions for the New Year- I’ll have some tangible goals to put into motion.

All that being said, what do I have planned for December? A *ton* of holiday stuff, obviously! That includes recipes, festive OOTDs, plenty of parties, travel to some of New England’s most beautiful and picturesque Christmas-y locations and attractions- a few retrospectives and recaps on the more memorable moments of 2018- and a lot of shopping and preparations!

I’m determined to make December one of the most fun months ever- and to see 2018 off properly! And I’ll be blogging as I do it, of course.

But for now- it’s time to get to work before I head off for the weekend!

Enjoy your Friday and the coming days ahead, everyone! See you all again on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –

September 2018: In a Nutshell

Good Morning and Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope you’re all having a fantastic weekend so far!

October is pretty much here, and I couldn’t be more excited since it is undoubtedly and unquestionably my favorite month out of the entire year. Fall is in full swing- apples and pumpkins are ready to be picked, the leaves are glowing orange, red, and yellow- and when you add in the thrill of all things spooky and Halloween? I’m sold. It’s the best.

And while I have plenty of things planned for the coming weeks- I wanted to take a look back on September- a month where Autumn had just started to peek out shyly and slowly from behind the Summer and a month that was filled with travel, good food, and lots of time with friends and family.

The month kicked off the way nearly every September in New England does- with people scrambling to savor those last bits of Summer before the temperatures dropped. I, personally, honored this tradition by heading to the beach to wear shorts by the surf one last time to enjoy Hampton Beach’s annual Seafood Festival with my mom, cousin and my dog. I stuffed my face with lobster, successfully located some great deals during the three-day sidewalk sale, and enjoyed the scenery of the boardwalk before it closes up for the season.

Mid-way through the month, I was able to see a band that means the world to me- and whose songs have helped me through some really challenging, difficult times throughout my life. Interpol played the Orpheum Theatre and it was a breathtaking performance from start to finish. I definitely cried a couple of times, but thankfully the people standing around me were incredibly kind and fun and made the experience even better. It was right up there in my top favorite shows I’ve ever been to (side note? The Orpheum is an amazing venue!)

Prior to my planned trip to the West Coast closer to the end of the month, I had celebrated two milestones for my family and friends. my cousin’s girlfriend, who is due to pop with their first child (a boy!) any day now- had her baby shower on one of the warmer, sunnier days here- and the following day marked my longtime friend Stef’s Autumnal themed bridal shower/brunch. She’s getting married in early November- so we’re in the final stretch of parties and planning before her big day.

And of course, my trip to Vegas and San Diego was a fitting way to wrap things up by the end of September. It was absolutely wonderful to see my BFF Kelsey and her beautiful, sweet, perfect little baby for the first time in months. It was invigorating to spend time both in and around Vegas, familiarizing myself with the counties and suburbs away from the strip since it recharged my batteries and reignited the spark I needed to continue to motivate me to take steps to get out there after a couple of financial setbacks had pulled the rug out from under me earlier this year and had me feeling a bit down.

And even though our journey through the desert to San Diego had ended with one of my friends I’ve known for years hurting my deeply- it was an eye-opening experience I think I needed to put some things into perspective. That revelation, coupled with other friends in the area going above and beyond for me to make sure my stay was salvaged- was worth it. I did ultimately have a really good time.

I can’t wait to be back there.

And now, with September over- I’m preparing for October and Halloween and all the fun I’m sure will be prominent in-between tomorrow and the 31st. Sure, I’ve got plenty of haunted houses and horror movies planned- but there’s a lot more, too! My friend from Ireland is coming to town for work within the next few hours. Stef’s bachelorette party is within a couple of weeks. There’s apples to be picked, pumpkins to be carved, and costumes to be put together. I’ve got foliage to photograph, Fall-inspired recipes to bake, and chilly weather-approved outfits to show off!

So here’s to September, a roller coaster of a month if I’ve ever seen one- and a lovely way to welcome Autumn.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everyone! I’ll be back tomorrow- bright and early- with the first official pumpkin recipe of the season!

xx

– Ashley –

August 2018: In a Nutshell

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

We’ve made it to another weekend (and it’s a long one thanks to Labor Day!), to the end of August, and really- to the the end of Summer 2018. I know the first day of Autumn isn’t technically until September 22nd- when I’ll be right smack in the middle of a vacation on the West Coast- but something about the beginning of September feels new and exciting every year.

Maybe it’s because the regular football season is starting soon, or the Pumpkin Spice Latte is already back in coffee shops- or kids are returning to school and sweaters are beginning to pop up in the storefronts. Either way- it’s time to say goodbye to Summer and welcome in the Fall season- which is especially fun and beautiful here in New England!

But respects must be paid this past August, which was jam packed with as many Summertime activities that my friends and I could fit into our schedules!

Even though the month started with a F1 tornado dropping in on my mom’s neighborhood while I was visiting- the following weeks were filled with day trips to the beach, to seaside communities in Connecticut, to dairy farms out in Western Massachusetts where we filled up on ice cream and French fries- and most recently to Colby Farms in Newbury- where the sunflowers were in full bloom and where I brought Oliver for National Dog Day this past weekend to spend some quality time together!

While at the farm, I made sure to grab some sunflowers to bring home- as well as a couple of peaches to bite into once I’d returned to the comforts of my kitchen and my air conditioning!

I caught a George Clinton show earlier this month, went to my friend’s Summer Slam party to watch Finn Balor and eat a ton of good food a couple of weeks ago, saw a couple of great movies (the most recent being “Operation Finale” the other night- and it was incredible!)– did plenty of grilling and began packing away my Summer wardrobe while simultaneously prepping my Fall one for the coming weeks!

Overall, August- much like the majority of my Summer- was pretty busy but oh so fun and filled with sun! I’ve got the tan lines to prove it!

So, what’s in store for September?

Well, as I said earlier- I’ll be taking a week off near the end of next month to head out West and split time between Las Vegas and San Diego to catch up with friends and browse the real estate in Henderson, Nevada. I’m also getting ready to launch into the Patriots’ regular season with a trip to Gillette Stadium and some tailgating parties- and I’ve got plenty of Fall recipes, outfits, and a pretty great Autumn-inspired playlist to share in the coming weeks!

So before I head into my half day at work, a planned dinner with my family later on tonight and my long weekend- here’s to August and the Summer of 2018- which was wild, a little unpredictable, sweltering hot at times- and a whole lot of fun. I’m gonna’ miss it!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I’m taking Monday off from blogging for Labor Day festivities- but I’ll be back on Wednesday with a really great dessert recipe to share!

Enjoy your Friday, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

July 2018: In a Nutshell

Good Morning and Happy Monday 2.0, everyone!

This week’s posting schedule is a short one (today and Thursday only)– not only because the last day of July happened to land on a Tuesday- but because I’ve got a pretty busy few days ahead of me and have been coordinating different events, meet-ups, errands and deadlines around an already packed work-week!

Can you all believe we’re getting ready to dive into August? That means there’s only one solid month of Summer left before we start to gradually transition into the Fall. Cooler temperatures, shorter days, changing foliage- and the return of pumpkin spiced everything. It’s pretty wild- and I, for one- intend to savor the next few hot and sunny weeks ahead as much as possible!

But before I get ready to change my calendar and start planning as many beach days as I can get away with- I thought I’d take a look back on the month of July- and all the fun (and sometimes insanity) that came with it!

The beginning of this past month was marked by tragedy, unfortunately. Following the suicide of an old friend near the end of June, the first few days of July saw me return to my hometown in Central Massachusetts to pay my respects and spend some much-needed time with mutual friends I hadn’t seen in many years who were also in mourning.

While the circumstances were indeed grim, being able to catch up with so many people I’d missed and care about- and both laugh and cry as we shared memories from a long time ago- was pretty cathartic. I’m making more of an effort to find time to see these friends more often, despite our busy schedules and home lives- because it shouldn’t only be tragedies that bring people back together.

By the time July 4th rolled around, I was also getting back in touch with nature- hiking, swimming beneath waterfalls and in lakes, and catching ferries around Boston Harbor’s islands to get a taste of the ocean and get out of the city for a few hours at a time. By the time Friday the 13th rolled around, I was a pro at packing backpacks filled with SPF, bug spray, and snacks- and had no issues camping out in the middle of the woods for a Jason Vorhees-inspired film festival at Rocky Woods Reservation!

And despite quite a few scattered thunderstorms and sun showers- I caught plenty of outdoor cookouts and backyard BBQs with friends and family (take a peek at some of my SUMMER RECIPES posts for a few of my favorite dishes!) as well as taking in some local children’s theater to support one of my best friends and enjoying some Summer blockbuster action flicks in air conditioned theaters!

This past weekend, with July winding down- I kept things closer to home. Friday night was the Arctic Monkeys show at TD Garden. I love those brilliant boys from Sheffield- and it was a real trip to see them play for thousands at the Garden when I can remember so clearly watching them play for about 100 people in small venues throughout New York and London in our early twenties! Alex may have shaved off his beautiful hair last week, but he was still just as dashing and charming as ever- and hearing some of the bangers I love best reverberate off the walls of the arena was such an incredible feeling.

Live music can make you feel invincible sometimes. I swear.

Following the gig, friends and I took the after party to the Coolidge Corner Theater for their midnight screening of “The Room” (AKA the best worst movie ever made) ala “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Within three minutes- the entire crowd was laughing hysterically- and by ten minutes in, we were throwing plastic spoons at the screen after being given handfuls of them by the staff upon entry. If you’ve never had the opportunity to go to a midnight screening, don’t even hesitate to buy tickets if one is available near you. Grab your friends and go. It’s a riot.

By the early afternoon on Saturday, my friends and I- having gone to bed around 4 a.m.- needed to recharge and sleepily walked to downtown Melrose to get brunch at our favorite weekend spot- Cappa’s Trackside Kitchen. We all split omelettes, toast, hash, home fries- and my personal favorite- banana Nutella French toast- before grabbing coffees to go and heading out into the sunshine to wake ourselves up a little.

Sunday was my day to rest, although I did take a bit of time to get a few errands for the week accomplished- but the majority of the day was spent in pajamas, surfing the web, watching trashy reality TV, and eating nachos. Sometimes you just really, really need a lazy Sunday- and it seemed like a fitting way to bid farewell to an otherwise jam-packed and busy month! Decompressing and getting ready for the next one!

So what do I have planned for August? Well, as I mentioned earlier- definitely as many beach days as possible! I’m also hoping to spend a little more time in some of my favorite seaside towns before that tricky New England weather starts to change again.

I’ve got Boston Comic-Con and Summer Slam coming up within the next couple of weeks, too- which is going to require some creativity and dressing up on my part!

And, of course- I’ll have plenty of recipes, outfits and recaps to share as Summer 2018 begins to draw to a close!

But I’ve got a meeting at work this morning before I get right back into my daily grind- so here’s wishing you all a wonderful end to your own July- and a lovely rest of your Tuesday!

xx

– Ashley –

June 2018: In a Nutshell

Good Morning and Happy Saturday Morning, everyone!

The end of this beautiful, sunny, and often scorching hot month falls on a weekend this year- so before I get ready to get a long overdue mani/pedi and head down to Foxwoods for ComiCONN this afternoon- I wanted to take a quick look back at June 2018 and tip my hat to all the fun and fond memories I made over these past few weeks!

June could easily be summarized with two words: Road Trips. While I didn’t cruise Route 66 across the country (yet) or take my family’s longtime favorite 3-day scenic down the Florida- I spent a lot of my days off and down-time heading to places like Manchester-By-The-Sea, Brattleboro in Vermont, and especially spots in Western Massachusetts like Shelburne Falls and Turners Falls- just really beautiful, relaxing and picturesque locations in the New England area.

And even though it required a lot of time in my car to get to those places (not that I mind- I love driving!) I spent enough time soaking in the scenery and the sun where I’ve developed a bit of an actual tan AND my hair got a little blonder! I’m the East Coast version of a West Coast beach babe, after all.

I saw a lot of great art and performances throughout June, too- from the annual “Film Wars” festival/competition in my hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts- to the hypnotic “Deux Ex Machina” at the Shea Theater. It was a great month for talent and creativity- and an even greater month to enjoy that talent and creativity outdoors. With the exception of a couple sporadic tornado warnings and watches around the area- June was filled with sunny days and lovely sunsets nearly every night!

Robbing the wardrobe department in Deux Ex Machina blind.

I also celebrated a year of blogging and over 100 posts here at Blondie Birdie with a fun, beach-themed giveaway earlier this month (now closed. Sorry! I’m sure there will be another one soon, though!) and, through some local networking events sprinkled throughout June- am really excited for some planned partnerships and collaborations I have in store for the coming weeks!

So, what else do I have planned for July? More travel around New England, of course- but I’m seeing some more great performances by local artists, putting together a guide to Summertime dining in the area, sharing some more backyard BBQ-friendly recipes, continuing to let everyone into my wardrobe for a peek around at what I wear during the hottest months of the year- and celebrating Friday the 13th with some good, ol’ fashioned camping!

Here’s wishing you all a fantastic weekend! I’ll be back on Monday morning with a new recipe to make your 4th of July easy and cute before I break for the holiday- but you can keep an eye on all my Comic-Con adventures over at my INSTAGRAM in the meantime!

See you all soon!

Summer Solstice!

xx

– Ashley –