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!)ย 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.)ย 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 –

October 2019: In a Nutshell

Good Morning, Happy Thursday- and Happy Halloween, everyone!

Today is looking like it’s going to be a cold, rainy and windy one outside- but that hasn’t stopped me from reaching peak spooky spirit for tonight’s festivities! My apartment is decorated, I’ve got my bowl of candy prepared to put out for my neighbors- I’m dressed in something bone-chilling (but in actuality isย quite warm for the weather!) and I’m ready to watch scary movies, eat pizza, and pass out candy to the trick-or-treaters with family and friends later on- as is tradition!

With tomorrow being the first day of November, and- sadly- it marking the beginning of the end of this most lovely of Fall seasons as Winter and the holidays draw closer and closer- I wanted to take some time to show my appreciation for my favorite month out of the year! October has always been one of the busier, more action-packed times of the year for me- and 2019 was no exception to that!

To keep things at peak-creepy when I wasn’t working- I made it a point to visit/photograph plenty of unusual (and potentially haunted) locations in New England/Massachusetts throughout October. Like this one, or this one, and this one, too– but I made sure to leave the poltergeists where I found them when it came time to share new recipe posts or peeks into some of my favorite mid-Fall finds in the depths of my closet.

I enjoyed capturing the New England foliage at it’s peak, spending a couple of days in Boston with someone beloved to see Bon Iver together– and hanging out with friends from work to marvel at thousands (literally) of jack-o-lanterns! And, of course- I enjoyed movies, meals and quality time with the people I care about when I could.

So, what’s in store for November? After the Halloween-related events wind down this weekend- it’s all bout preparing for Thanksgiving, Winter and beginning the process of reflecting on 2019 and my hopes for 2020 as the holidays are right around the corner!

I’ve got some more Autumn-inspired recipes to share, more cold weather outfits to pose in, and a little more local travel planned within the coming weeks (with some more live shows in my future!)– and I’m so excited to share it all here!

But for now, I’m going to get some work done from home- make sure I’ve got my backup candy on hand- and get ready for tonight! I’ll be back next week on my normal blogging schedule (Monday, Wednesday and Friday)– so be sure to check in!

Have a fun, safe, and thrilling Halloween, everybody! Go get that candy!

xx

– Ashley –

“Cause every place I go- I take another place with me…”

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

It feels weird to be back at my office after having two days off during the week and then working from home for a half day yesterday- but I’m here and determined to get some stuff accomplished and get ready for the weekend after a planned dinner with my family a little later on tonight.

What an interesting few days it’s been, though!

As most of you already knew since I was pretty much gushing about it on social media- Tuesday was when Troy and I headed into Boston for the day to enjoy the weather (pre-bomb cyclone) and catch a set from Bon Iver at TD Garden from the front row. We had everything planned well in advance- but as most of you know and probably attest to yourselves- rarely do things ever go exactly as expected.

Things were off to a rough start when our AirBnB (which I will refrain from linking to on here even though all my instincts are telling me to put our host on blast) was not only not at all as it was advertised- but was also incredibly risky to both our health and privacy. We didn’t feel safe leaving our personal belongings there or sleeping there- so we opted to drive back to the Pioneer Valley after the show, instead.

For those of you who may not be aware- that is a LONG drive.

I was admittedly gutted- since I had been looking forward to being in the city for a couple of days- but when life gives you lemons and all that. Instead, we made as much as we could with the time we *did* have- including grabbing dinner and drinks in the North End at Assaggio and strolling around the city prior to the show starting.

Bon Iver was, of course- brilliant- and our seats were fantastic. Feist opened the show (and played “My Moon My Man”- which absolutely made my night) so I was very, very happy. I remain so grateful to everyone who facilitated getting us the seats after I had phoned in a favor. The chain of people is still a little foggy- but I’m hoping to get the specifics so I can send the proper thank yous accordingly.

On Wednesday, having returned to the Valley in lieu of tolerating unsatisfactory AirBnB accommodations- we opted to spend a lazy, rainy day dining out, driving, and catching peak foliage from Poet’s Seat Tower- which is just a short drive/hike away from my apartment and looks over all of Greenfield.

You bet I took photos. Click to enlarge!

Closing out the evening, before having to get ready for some work yesterday morning- Troy and I swung by the West End Pub in Shelburne Falls- right near the Bridge of Flowers- right before the night’s storm rolled through and took down most of the leaves (and a few trees, as well.)

Maple cheesecake is apparently a thing there- and I am filled with regret that I didn’t know about it sooner because it ruled.

And now, a couple days later and still a little groggy and in “mini-vacation mode-” here I am. Reluctantly getting back into a work state of mind.

Next week on the blog I’ll have some more creepy, kooky (mysterious and spooky) locations around the New England area to share, a return visit to one of my favorite Halloween attractions in Rhode Island to dissect- and maybe another peek into my closet before it comes down to the final hours ’til Halloween!

Until then, though- enjoy your weekend, everybody! Stay safe out there and be good to each other!

xx

– Ashley –