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 –

Notes From Slay-Cation…

Good Morning (it’s still the A.M. where I am) and Happy Friday, everyone!

I’m updating Blondie Birdie from a broken tablet, courtesy of Logan Airport’s TSA staff who felt it was necessary to not only empty nearly all of the contents of my liquid toiletries from my checked bag all over my clean, dry clothes- but also crack the screen of one of my most important electronics, too- before they carelessly tossed it back into my suitcase.

I digress, that huge inconvenience aside- I’m enjoying the last of my time here in San Diego before I return to Las Vegas a little later on this afternoon with Kelsey. While my previous trip to Southern California last Fall had been disastrous to the point where I had debated returning here this time around for fear it would be just as awful- I’ve actually been having a wonderful time- AND I’ve been able to relax like a real, true vacation for once!

The journey here was a long one, but the view sure was nice. After picking me up in Vegas Wednesday morning- Kelsey and I made a quick stop for breakfast at our favorite spot further up the strip, Peppermill– before we packed up our bags and her daughter and started on the long, six hour drive through the desert to San Diego.

I had forgotten that this time of year is typically referred to as “Grey May” in Southern California, so as the hours ticked by on the road and the sun gradually vanished while we drove- being overtaken by clouds and fog- I knew it was going to be a chilly stay. Admittedly, the temperatures here have been considerably better than they have been back home- so I can’t say I minded much. San Diego is beautiful any time of year, really.

And one of the perks of this trip is that it has been all about food. Kelsey and I have been trying new places around Downtown San Diego- including a French Toast sampler from Breakfast Republic and a blondie mocha latte from Spill The Beans Coffee.

We have a few foodie places we’re going to be hitting up once we return to Vegas, as well- so I’m sure I’ll be taking more photos along the way.

Of course, our main reason for this little pilgrimage to and from the desert was to see White Lies last night at The Music Box. We love the band so, so much- but their Boston show had sold out and the San Diego one was the closest to Kelsey- so I opted to fly out to see it with her and get away from work for a few days!

The show was incredible, and the band sound just as fantastic live as they do on their albums- which is a rarity these days. We had the perfect setup from a balcony above the stage where we could see and hear everything crystal clear. It was AWESOME.

Post-show, we made a quick stop at Gaslamp Pizza (the best pizza you’ll ever have in SoCal- and right around the corner from the hotel we’ve been staying) before we passed out. I think it’s safe to say we’re officially in our thirties now. There’s no after-parties anymore. At least not any I can stay awake for!

But we’re getting ready to head out for brunch/lunch and pack up the last of our things for our drive this afternoon. I’ll be updating through the weekend on my INSTAGRAM, as usual- and then I’ll be back on Monday with some more recaps from the journey before I return home Tuesday evening.

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful weekend ahead! Have fun!

xx

– Ashley –

Like Real People Do…

Good Morning and Happy “Hump Day”, everyone!

Today is my newly assigned half day at work for the next couple of months before our company’s schedules shift again right before the new year- and I have a (hopefully) lovely afternoon planned at a local orchard after I head out of my office today! Unfortunately, I’m simultaneously fighting off a bit of a Fall cold, as well- so I may need to take it a little easy over the remainder of the week.

My sneezing and sniffles is the result of some serious rain and a sudden temperature drop in the past few days- and being caught unexpectedly in more than one frigid downpour when I was wearing nothing more than a thin cardigan came back to haunt me.

Of course, it’s all been worth it- since I’ve been having so much fun over the past couple of days. Monday night, after I all but tumbled out of my office in my hurry to get over to Fenway right away- saw me at House of Blues to catch a set by Hozier and meet up with my dearest of dear, longtime friends- Steven- who also happens to be the brilliant lighting designer/wizard for this tour.

Hozier’s made a few appearances in past Fall playlists I’ve put together- since he’s perfected the dreary, haunting vocals/vibe- but I’d never actually seen him live and was completely blown away at how insanely talented he, his band, and their backup singers are. It was truly incredible-and I watched most of it with my mouth hanging open in absolute awe.

The opening band, Hudson Taylor, were also fantastic and fun and had the entire crowd fired up. I enjoyed them so, so much!

And of course, seeing Steven is always wonderful. I wish he and I saw each other more often, but when we are in the same town at the same time- it’s always so great to get the opportunity to catch up, crack jokes, listen to good music and (if I’m lucky-) watch him work his magic with his stage designs. Last night, with how low-key and laid back the show seemed- sort of reminded me of way, way back when he and I first met so many years ago before tours got super extravagant and complex. It was really nice- and I’m hoping he comes back sooner than later.

The evening ended with a set list (my very first Hozier one!) and a late night cheeseburger on my way home- which is fitting for any Monday night out, really!

Last night, after working late and just starting to feel a tad under the weather- I opted to stay in so I could wrap myself up in fleece pajamas, warm blankets, and have a serious video game session with Sean (we played ‘Dead By Daylight’ in opposite rooms, obviously. It’s the only way to do it properly!) so it was a nice way to unwind while taking care of myself and getting some much-needed rest.

But today I am all about getting back out there and picking some apples and pumpkins- rain or shine- so expect quite a few photos on my social media along the way!

I’m off to get some work done first, though! Enjoy your Wednesday, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

Funk and Frosting…

Good Morning and Happy Hump Day, everyone!

This week has been filled with phone calls and meetings, and as we kick off the halfway mark to Friday- the momentum is still going strong. I’ve got so much to do today, and then immediately after work it’s off to a date in Western Massachusetts to decompress and relax with good company.

Although this past weekend took an unexpected turn with some wild weather and a F1 tornado dropping by my mother’s neighborhood for a couple of minutes- I still managed to find some time to take in a bit of impromptu live music, indulge in the sweeter things, and even pamper myself a bit.

On Saturday night, after recovering from the shock of the storm that ripped through the area- I headed back out towards Beverly to grab a couple of drinks and catch a George Clinton show at the Cabot Theater. One of my friends had rounded up a handful of tickets to the show and thought it would be a fun way to pass an evening. He was right- although the show itself was a bit… Unusual?

There was so much happening all at once and a lot of noise so it was a bit difficult to differentiate one song from the next (especially with 20 people on stage at any given time)– but everyone was in good spirits and the inside of the venue was really beautiful- so it all evened out and it was worth the price of admission. It was a unique experience for sure!

On Sunday morning, while nursing an unexpected-and-not-hangover-related migraine that seemed to materialize out of nowhere first thing in the A.M.- I opted to treat myself to some “Unicorn Poop” (yes, that’s the real name) cupcakes courtesy of Whoopie-Doo & Cupcakes, Too! while I was passing through the Sturbridge area. The cupcakes were *almost* too pretty to eat- with the rainbow swirled frosting, edible glitter and rich chocolate cake- but I powered through my remorse once I tasted how delicious they were.

And sure enough- my headache went away shortly afterwards!

Sunday afternoon and evening was all about errands and preparing for this most busy of work weeks- while also sneaking in an aqua-colored mani/pedi combo- but I’m looking forward to doing some more cooking this week (I have a great steak recipe to share on Friday morning before we break for the weekend!) and spending some long overdue time at the beach this coming Friday/Saturday- if the weather holds up, of course.

And Sunday is going to be all about Boston Comic-Con! I’m really looking forward to visiting some of my favorite local vendors and artists since I’ve been out of the circuit for a few months (I love to cosplay and attend the panels, meet and greets, etc.- but sometimes a girl just needs a break now and then!)

Expect a lot of pictures here and on my social media over the next few days!

But we’ve still gotta’ make it through this week- so I’m going to dial it back a bit and just say that I hope you all have a wonderful and stress-free Wednesday- and I’ll see you all on Friday!

Don’t spoil your appetites, either- because the recipe I have planned for Friday’s post is one of my favorites for the late Summertime!

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 –