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 –

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year…

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

Today I wanted to show off this year’s ugly Christmas sweater after an impromptu Holiday-Card-Photo-Shoot earlier this week- but I’m still waiting on the finished pictures to arrive, which is fine- because I’ve definitely been keeping busy since then.

With my holiday shopping *nearly* done (and I’m utterly exhausted from it,) I took some time off on Wednesday night to venture back into Boston with Troy and show my support for Indie617 and our nominated morning show at the Boston Music Awards at the House of Blues.

Although we couldn’t stay for the entire show (we live on the opposite side of the state, after all!) we had a wonderful time. It was great seeing friends and colleagues. catching a quick set from Future Teens and watching one incredible tribute to The Cars’ Ric Ocasek. And, even though it was late and cold out- we grabbed a quick bite at Yard House before hitting the road to come home.

It was absolutely worth being a little groggy yesterday morning.

I’m aiming for a nomination next year for “Best Saturday Show Hosted by Someone Who Calls Herself Pelvis Costello.” Wish me luck!

This weekend I have friends visiting my neck of the woods from out of town for a pre-holiday dinner and long overdue get-together- so I’m really excited- and next week on the blog I’ll have more festive finds and photos as Christmas comes closer and I prepare to wind down 2019 and get ready for the New Year. Time always flies by so quickly these last few weeks of December!

Until then, though- enjoy your weekend, everybody!

xx

– Ashley –

November 2019: In a Nutshell

Good Morning and Happy Saturday, everyone!

Christmastime is officially underway, and so is the countdown to the end of 2019- which means the next few weeks are going to be spent doing a lot of shopping, even more gift wrapping- and plenty of cooking/baking and traveling to various holiday functions and get togethers. December is a busy month for most people, and I’ve known for a while now that things are going to be moving pretty much non-stop for me!

Here on “Blondie Birdie,” I’ll have plenty of holiday cheer to share throughout the month ahead- with ceremonial tree lightings, local events, gift-giving ideas/tips and some of my favorite seasonal recipes for the culinary curious to try out- but I’m also going to be putting together my annual Year-In-Review post to mark the end of the decade while preparing some big blog news and changes for the beginning of 2020. I’m very, very excited!

But before I jump ahead into all of that- I did want to tip my hat to November 2019- a month that was just as busy, exciting and unexpected as December is shaping up to be.

I kicked off the month with one last scare for Halloween with a trip to Haunted Overload in New Hampshire before they closed for the season, only to then enjoy a daytime adventure (in the rain and cold this time around) to the Three Sisters Sanctuary in Goshen just a few short days later.

By mid-month, things had taken a surprising and thrilling turn when Troy and I went to not one, but two Hozier shows in the span of 72 hours– one in Boston and the other in Connecticut- which made for some excellent stories and photographs while we enjoyed ourselves and the company of my dear and longtime friend, Steven, who was the mastermind behind the spectacular light shows for each of Hozier’s shows during this tour. The Connecticut show marked Troy’s first time in a casino- and naturally I had him play a slot machine for the first time, too.

I’m a terrible influence like that.

November saw me return to the Ski & Snowboard Expo to represent Indie617 (our Top 100 Songs of The Decade is streaming now through the weekend, by the way!), the UMass Fine Arts Center for a dance performance, and Red Apple Farm to stock up on ingredients to prepare for this past Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day feast- which didn’t disappoint. I have so many leftovers in my fridge that I’m pretty sure I can feed everyone on my block for a couple of days.

And now, with a couple of quiet, more low-key days ahead of me before I return to work on Monday morning (where the posting schedule will return to normal, as well!) I’m looking forward to decorating my apartment, scratching a few things off my Holiday Gift Shopping List- and indulging in more than one hot chocolate since snow is just ahead in this week’s forecast!

So here’s to November- one for the history books, indeed!

I’ll be back on Monday morning- bright and early as usual- so enjoy the rest of your weekend ’til then, everybody!

xx

– Ashley –

The Monday After…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

I am, admittedly, not too thrilled at the prospect of having to return to work so bright and early today- especially after having a few days off since last week. Going from having such a fun and exciting mini-vacation to reporting back for what is typically a high stress job isn’t exactly the best feeling in the world- but my bills are sadly not going to pay themselves- and I’ll need that income now that the holidays are right around the corner!

As I had mentioned last Friday- I wrapped up my impromptu time off with a trip to Foxwoods to catch what would be my second Hozier show within a 48 hour period. The trip was a milestone in another way, as well- as Troy had never been to a casino before. Myself, having gone to Vegas more times than I can remember- was fascinated by this since I had just assumed those of us who grew up in and around New England had all been forced to go Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun at one point or another by our grandparents or to celebrate a 21st birthday. It’s almost a rite of passage.

Naturally, I insisted Troy try a slot machine- and he successfully won 64 cents before wisely cashing out. I lost $5 during my own gambling endeavor- so maybe he’s onto something with not going to casinos at all, ever.

I digress- the show was incredible as usual and I had a really, really nice time. I’m so grateful to Troy for coming and experiencing a whole lot of music, good food, long drives, and sub-zero wind chills with me- and to my longtime friend Steven for hooking us up so fantastically with passes, amazing seats- and a few drinks! So much love to them both.

On Saturday, before I finally let my body catch up on sleep and I got around to cleaning my apartment (I’ve been living in Greenfield for six months as of today, by the way!)– I stopped by the Boston-Dot-Com Ski & Snowboard Expo to rep Indie617. I ended up broadcasting my show live from the venue, and got to meet a ton of great people face-to-face while giving out a bunch of free stuff. I’m awful at Winter sports- but everyone’s enthusiasm was infectious and I had a really, really fun time.

But now I’ve got to head back into the real world- and my morning/most of my afternoon will more than likely consist of catching up on e-mails, voicemails, meeting summaries, etc. while dodging phone calls and small talk around the office. A typical Monday morning, if you will.

A little later on this week I’ll be back with my go-to Thanksgiving ensemble and a recipe for those of you who are looking for something quick, easy- but still delicious- to bring to the final Friendsgivings or to the main event itself next week!

Until then, enjoy your Monday! Stay warm and focused. We’ll get through this one together!

xx

– Ashley –

“Be Still My Foolish Heart – Don’t Ruin This On Me…”

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

What an unbelievable whirlwind of a mini-vacation it’s been- and the party has been unexpectedly extended into this weekend! A little later on today, after I have some coffee, freshen up, and make sure the errands I put on the back burner until now get done- I’ll be heading back down to Connecticut and to Foxwoods Casino as a continuation of the North American Hozier tour.

This comes after an absolutely incredible show in Boston the other night- where Troy and I managed to watch the performance from the front row of the absolutely breathtaking Boch Center (also known as the Wang Theatre- which always gets a chuckle from people visiting from out of town.) Prior to the show, we did our best to stay warm in the colder-than-usual temperatures with a quick dinner at Citrus & Salt. Troy had churros for the first time- and that in itself was a wonderful experience. For me, anyway. I enjoyed it.

It was, by far, one of the best shows I’ve been to in years. So much talent on one stage- from the opening act, Angie McMahon- all the way to the encore that resulted in a deafening ovation from a sold out venue. There was even a birthday toast for one of the Hozier bandmates- resulting in everyone on stage wearing a red wig to match her hair as they drank whiskey and the crowd sang along to “Happy Birthday” for her. Such a sweet, adorable moment.

And after some catch up and some drinks with a dear friend backstage- it was time to get moving onto the next venue. The tour life, after all!

Needless to say, I’ve been on a bit of a cloud nine. I’ve been having so much fun. Monday might be only a few short days away- but work is the last thing I’m concerning myself with right now. I just want to enjoy these final days off!

Tomorrow, I’ll be making the brief trip into Boston to host my Indie617 Saturday show- with a bit of a catch! I’ll actually be broadcasting live from the Ski & Snowboard Expo at the Seaport World Trade Center. If you’re in attendance- come by our booth and say hello!

And after I fully rest and recuperate this weekend- I’ll be back on Monday morning with another recap, I’m sure- as well as some holiday-inspired posts and a look at what I wear to look cute (but stay comfortable) when I’m going to be stuffing my face on Thanksgiving.

Enjoy your Friday and the remainder of your week, everybody! Stay warm and safe out there!

xx

– Ashley –