2019: In a Nutshell

2019: In a Nutshell

Good Morning and Happy New Year’s (Eve) everybody!

I know that it’s pretty much obligatory at this point for every single person looking back on and/or writing about this past year to say “I can’t believe how quickly time flew by!”– and I’m sure many of you are sick of that sentiment by now with all the recent recaps, revisits and reviews of 2019 that typically pop up between the day after Christmas and now as we shift gears from presents, mistletoe and ugly holiday sweater parties and prepare for 2020- but here we are and yes- I feel that this year was truly accelerated at lightning speed.

It feels like it was only a few days ago that I was standing on the observation deck of Top of The Rock in New York City on January 1st and making grandeur plans for the year ahead. I had very specific goals/resolutions in mind, and I’m happy and proud that twelve months later- I’ve accomplished and achieved nearly everything that was on my list at the end of 2018. It wasn’t easy by any means- and there were plenty of setbacks and hurdles along the way- but where 2018 was the year I became aware of myself as a person and honest about my strengths and weaknesses as a human being- 2019 was all about implementing what I had learned about myself, sharpening my skill set and redefining my goals in a way that better suited me- and then putting my plans into action to achieve what I wanted to gain.

2019 was filled with changes- big and small, personal and professional. The biggest and most significant change in my life this year was that I relocated to the Pioneer Valley in Western Massachusetts- a move that took me a couple hours away from my family, friends and career- and essentially gave me the opportunity to find new passions and projects in a new community filled with new people (and a few longtime friends that have been established out here for a while now, as well.) It’s been exciting, sometimes and admittedly a little frightening- but overall very rewarding. I love my apartment, I love my neighborhood- and I love the exciting opportunities that lay ahead.

Professionally, I managed to juggle not one, not two- but three jobs- simultaneously and successfully. And, while I had to overcome a brief period of office drama, slander and sabotage at the hands of co-workers at my full-time office job- it is my Saturday show with Indie617 that brought me the most joy and fulfillment- and I cannot wait to continue that into 2020. Additionally, a Summertime stint with a local theater company earned me some extra income and a couple of connections here in the Valley that I hope will have prosperous potential in the future.

And then, personally- and perhaps the thing I’m most proud of this year- was that I kept my promise to myself to not allow negative people to drain me of my energy and spirit and reduce me to a doormat. I put my foot down in 2019- and I severed ties with people who were either toxic or did not have my best interests at heart. In releasing myself and putting needed distance from those negative and often abusive friendships/connections- I became more honest and upfront with what I wanted without fear- and the result was forging stronger, more meaningful and healthy friendships/relationships with those around me.

This past year was also filled with travel (from new and unfamiliar locations here in New England all the way to Las Vegas and San Diego this past Spring), incredible live shows from Boston Calling and Green River Festival in the Summer to Bon Iver and Hozier in the Fall- and big changes for my friends and family- including engagements, new babies, and buying new houses!

And with all the progress and all the changes that have happened in 2019- I feel like I’m better equipped to enter 2020 with new and attainable goals. I have a new list of resolutions- which I’ll share at the end of this post- as well as some exciting blogging news in relation to the future of Blondie Birdie.

But first, as is tradition- I’d like to recap some of the headlines, trends, pop culture phenomenons, memes and everything in-between in what I call 2019: In a Nutshell.

Let’s take a look back, shall we?

(Image via Reuters)

Corruption was the talk of the town: I didn’t want to kick this off with anything related to Donald Trump. I’ve made no attempts to hide my contempt for him or his rabid followers since well before he took office- but this has been *the* news story of late 2019 and as it’s still ongoing- it’s worth the first mention.

Following the revelation via a still-anonymous whistleblower that Donald Trump had enlisted the help of the newly appointed President of the Ukraine to investigate Trump’s 2020 political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden and Joe Biden’s son in exchange for previously approved financial and military aid that would assist the Ukraine in their fight against Russian aggression- all bets were off in late September when an impeachment inquiry was launched by House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi.

In the weeks/months that followed- a number of witnesses were called to the stand to testify. Some of the testimony remained private to the public while other testimony was televised for days on end. Witnesses included former ambassadors and officials associated with the White House- and what they saw/overhead did not look good for Trump and his associates- who had vehemently denied any wrongdoing. Trump, unable to control his temper tantrums- went as far as to participate in witness intimidation in real time while Diplomat Marie Yovanovitch took the stand.

The Republicans, desperate and grasping at anything throughout the process- ceased to ask pertinent questions and instead began to simply shout over or attempt to degrade the witnesses- often resulting in brutal hashtags and memes on social media poking fun at their expense.

And on December 18th, Trump became the third president in U.S. history to be impeached following a long and tedious vote by the House on two articles of impeachment – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

While pre-trial proceedings remain ongoing and we await the formal decision on whether or not Trump will be removed from office (hopefully forcibly-) it goes without saying that at this point it is glaringly obvious even to the most stubborn MAGA hat-wearer that Trump and everyone has has placed in his inner circle to aid and abet him are criminals.

(via CNBC)

Epstein didn’t kill himself: Jeffrey Epstein has been a known predator for a long time, particularly after a prior conviction in 2008 where he had admitted to soliciting a minor for prostitution- but that didn’t stop the wealthy financier with powerful friends (including politicians and members of the Royal Family) from getting a slap on the wrist and released from his sentence in a minimal amount of time.

Years later, with multitudes of women and young girls coming forward- and after a lengthy and extensive investigation (prompted by a detailed exposé about the crimes being committed under everyone’s noses)– Epstein was arrested again in July of 2019- this time on federal charges of sex trafficking minors in Florida and the state of New York. The arrest brought to light his affiliations with other wealthy and prominent people/institutions- and it was widely speculated that he would name those who had assisted him with his crimes of abusing underage girls as part of a potential deal.

In August, after being placed on suicide watch following a previous attempt/assault within his cell just a few days earlier- Epstein was found dead with a broken neck. The official ruling was suicide by hanging- but many people had speculations and suspicions given the timeline of events and Epstein’s elite connections. Foul play has been widely insinuated- and as recently as November- two prison guards who were responsible for monitoring Epstein have been charged with conspiracy and falsifying records detailing what had happened the night he died.

(via CNN)

The Notre-Dame Fire: In April of 2019, all eyes were on Paris when the famed Notre-Dame cathedral was reportedly engulfed in flames as a result of a structural fire. For hours, onlookers watched in horror as flames destroyed the roof and spire before finally being contained and extinguished. In the interim, security personnel and responding firefighters managed to remove priceless artifacts and artwork from within the cathedral to safety before they could be damaged by the flames or heavy smoke.

The structure of the cathedral proved to be beneficial when remnants of the roof and spire had collapsed- as it helped shield a good amount of the interior from significant destruction- and pieces that were located and found to be damaged were expected to be sent out for repair/restoration.

And perhaps the most miraculous of all was that there were no fatalities and only a couple of minor injuries reported in the aftermath.

It didn’t take long for the donations to begin pouring in from around the globe to assist with the restoration and rebuilding of the damaged sections of the cathedral- and if you happened to be on social media that day- you were no stranger to the endless barrage of Parisian vacation photos paying tribute to the location. We get it, guys- you went to Paris ten years ago. Calm down.

(via NASA)

We got our first look at a black hole: Also in April of this year, the science world and space enthusiasts everywhere got a real treat when the first image of a black hole was released. Using an Event Horizon Telescope- which I have no business trying to explain because that’s how advanced and technical it is- a group of astronomers managed to secure the above photo. NASA went on to explain in their press release:

Using the Event Horizon Telescope, scientists obtained an image of the black hole at the center of the galaxy M87. (There is a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy — the Milky Way.)

The black hole is outlined by emission from hot gas swirling around it under the influence of strong gravity near its event horizon.

Space has always intrigued and terrified me beyond comprehension (every movie where the plot focuses on people in space has *never* ended well for anyone)– but even I thought this was a fascinating peek into what lies beyond the stars.

(via Boston Herald)

Aunt Becky is probably going to prison: Earlier this Spring, the news broke that a group of celebrities, CEOs and moguls were being charged with conspiracy, money laundering and fraud (among a whole lot of other crimes) in relation to a college admissions bribery ring. The accused- which included Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman, David Sidoo, Gamal Aziz and many, many more- were found to have paid exorbitant amounts of money to have their children’s testing scores and extra curricular credentials changed- if not outright fabricated- in order to essentially buy their way into prestigious universities around the country in what was deemed “Operation Varsity Blues.”

While many of the accused plead guilty over the following months- serving brief sentences and paying hefty fines as punishment for their participation- it was Lori Louglin’s nonchalant attitude towards the whole scandal that caught everyone’s attention. She has outright denied any wrongdoing despite what looks like substantial evidence against her- and faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.

I have a feeling I’ll be revisiting this one by the end of 2020.

(via HBO)

IT’S FINALLY OVER: As confusing and often convoluted as ‘Game Of Thrones’ could be throughout it’s eight seasons- I enjoyed the show. It was filled with compelling characters, plenty of surprising twists, a LOT of sex and violence- and it’s cast have long since become familiar and household names.

By it’s final season this past year, however- things began to unravel- which was not surprising since the series did not have sturdy source material to follow as it had outpaced the published novels in which it was based on. The story became predictable and dull- and multiple gaffes throughout the season (including visible Starbucks cups and water bottles in various scenes) brought heavy criticism against the directors’ perceived “laziness”- as well as plenty of memes.

In May, the final episode of the last season aired- and the ending divided longtime fans between those who thought it was an appropriate and well-rounded finale- and others (like me!) who were left underwhelmed and disappointed.

Here’s hoping whenever “The Walking Dead” wraps up that the writers take some notes on what to do and not do in terms of setting off a social media frenzy.

(via BBC)

The Climate Crisis Crusaders: If there was still any speculation by cynical and overly harsh Baby Boomers that the world was going to be left in the hands of lazy or self-indulgent children/teenagers- they need not worry. The future generations proved that they have a lot more on their minds than social media and getting”likes” these days- particularly in 2019 when the ongoing climate crisis became the central focus of youths around the world who were/are actively working to reverse and prevent years’ worth of damages that are threatening the only home we have.

With Sweden’s Greta Thunberg at the front lines- taking the brunt of unfair criticism and mockery from adult climate change deniers (like President Trump, for example-) the 16-year old inspired countless others of all ages to reevaluate their carbon footprint, make significant changes to their lifestyles to prevent further damages to the environment while supporting/providing funding for projects looking to do the same on larger scales.

And despite attempts to detract her message or silence her- Greta’s efforts paid off- as she was named TIME Magazine’s “Person of The Year” in 2019.

Not bad at all.

(via Reuters)

The Hong Kong and Santiago Protests: Additionally, all generations took to the streets in wide scale fashion in 2019. In Hong Kong, protesters continue to fight back to show their disapproval following the introduction of the Fugitive Offenders Amendment Bill as it could have potentially lead to direct violations of citizens’ and those visiting the country’s civil liberties if it had been put into effect. The protests have resulted in multiple clashes between protesters and the police, as well as between protesters and counter-protesters- with two deaths reported to date. Thousands of injuries and arrests have also taken place.

However, the protests (that sometimes turned into riots) appeared to be effective- with the bill being withdrawn in the Fall.

Additionally, Santiago saw it’s own share of protests/rioting that began in October following increases to the city’s public transportation and overall cost of living. Citizens took to the streets to show their frustrations with perceived inequality and demanded reform in their wages, healthcare and education. These protests, however- resulted in many more deaths and injuries- mostly due to fires set around the city.

Both protests remain ongoing.

(via The Weather Channel)

Hurricane Dorian and the Australian Bushfires: Like every year before it, 2019 was no stranger to natural disasters- some more severe than others and some still happening as we speak. One of the worst and most catastrophic events took place back in September when Hurricane Dorian- a Category 5 hurricane with recorded wind speeds of 185 MPH hit the Bahamas head on- resulting in over 70 fatalities (and counting, as hundreds are still missing) and billions of dollars worth of damages.

And presently ongoing in Australia, deadly and dangerous bushfires continue to sweep through the area- worsened with dry conditions and little to no rain. As homes are destroyed and acres of land are reduced to nothing- eyes have been on the koala population- which suffered a significant hit and resulted in a rise in donations to local koala hospitals that have been working round the clock to tend to dehydrated and injured bears who have no habitat to return to.

We lost people along the way: And, like every year before it- we had to say goodbye to a few beloved names and faces in 2019, too. Some losses, while not necessarily anticipated- were easier to bear given old age or ongoing illnesses- as was the case with Doris Day or Albert Finney.

Some passings, however- were completely unexpected. Luke Perry, who died of a stroke at the age of 52 in March- comes to mind almost immediately. As does The Cars’ Ric Ocasek, who died unexpectedly following complications from surgery in September.

We also lost internet legend and the base of so many memes in May when Tardar Sauce, AKA “Grumpy Cat”- passed away following an infection. I’m still insanely sad about that one, really.

________________________________

Now, as is the tradition with all of my yearly reviews- there are a few things I wanted to include but wasn’t quite sure where to place them- and as a result they’ve ended up here in the “Honorable Mentions” section. Important moments, events, pop culture trends- but not quite as extensive, intricate and detailed as politics, global movements, scandals and scientific breakthroughs.

Nonetheless- they helped shape 2019!

– Baby Archie!!: When Meghan Markle and Prince Harry tied the knot, it was definitely a big moment and a highlight of 2018- and the birth of their first child earlier this year was certainly cause for celebration. With tabloids being unnecessarily cruel and invasive towards Markle for the duration of her pregnancy and well after she had given birth- there were concerns the new mother may crack under the pressure of the non-stop scrutiny that had plagued her mother-in-law for years leading up to her death. But the Duchess persevered with a strong showing of grace and class- and the newest addition to the Royal Family is absolutely adorable.

– Baby Yoda: The only other baby to make his way into the wrap-up with potential royal status. Everyone knew Disney+’s new series, “The Mandalorian,” was going to be great- but nobody expected that the breakout star of the show and fan favorite would be a puppet. Baby Yoda (aka, “The Child,”)– has sparked countless memes, merchandise and conversations- and for good reason. It just might be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I couldn’t even tell you what happened in the most recent episode because I spent the whole time worrying about Baby Yoda.

And I’m perfectly content with Baby Yoda continuing his reign of cuteness into 2020, honestly.

– Jussie Smollett: In January of 2019, “Empire” star Jussie Smollett made headlines after he sustained injuries in an early morning attack that was investigated as a possible hate crime given the actor’s race and sexual orientation. As preliminary details emerged- there was an outpouring of support for Smollett and a call for those responsible to be found and face justice.

Things took a turn for the strange, however- when the completed investigation revealed that Smollett himself was responsible for orchestrating the attack in an apparent attempt to increase his pay on “Empire.” After hiring two men to stage the assault- Smollett was charged with filing a false police report- a felony.

The charges were later dropped, but it’s unlikely Smollett’s reputation and career will ever recover.

– The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final: I am admittedly not too into soccer, but even I had a blast watching the Women’s World Cup Finals earlier this Summer when the United States secured a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands. It was impossible not to get swept up into the frenzy of it all- especially considering the ongoing struggle for women athletes to be paid as much as their male counterparts was still very much a hot issue that was brought up over the course of the finals as the team gave it everything they had.

With Megan Rapinoe as the standout star of the team for her efficiency on the field and both her outspokenness and philanthropy off of it- she was later named as Sports Illustrated’s 2019 Sportsperson of the Year.

– Comic Book Movies Continued Their Momentum: After years of comic/superhero juggernauts Marvel and DC reining supreme at the Box Office- 2019 was the year of the blockbuster finales and highly anticipated re-imaginings of notorious characters/stories.

Whether it was Marvel’s ambitious conclusion to their Avengers series with “Endgame” or DC’s darker, grittier and more violent interpretation of how The Joker came to be- crowds flocked to the theaters and records were once again broken over the course of the films’ respective opening weekends.

With more comic/superhero movies expected to be coming down the pipeline over the next few years- I don’t think any will compare to the cinematic showdown we saw happen in 2019.

________________________________

And there you have it- 2019: In a Nutshell!

I know there were plenty of other headlines, trends, memes, and wild/bizarre moments I more than likely missed- but those are the things that stood out to me when I began reflecting on this past year about a month or so ago. I’d like to think I did a pretty good job covering some of the prominently discussed things,

For New Year’s Eve tonight, Troy and I are venturing back to Boston for dinner and a quiet night in the Theater District with some champagne and what I’m hoping will be a spectacular view of the city to close out the decade and usher in 2020.

And I’m sure I’ll have plenty of photos from the evening.

But, before I depart to get dolled up and ready to go- I wanted to share some of my resolutions for 2020. It’s a pretty standard, typical list- the type you’d see from nearly anyone making resolutions- but I’m ambitious and eager to see if I can accomplish any of them by the time 2021 rolls around.

Get Healthier/Take Better Care of Myself: This is the one that makes the rounds on everyone’s resolutions list- but for me it’s a necessity. While I make conscious efforts to eat right, work out regularly and sleep fully and undisturbed at night- I have admittedly become a bit more lax about it since my move to the new apartment this past Spring and it shows. I don’t think I look as great as I could and I certainly don’t feel as great as I *should*– and I’m more depressed and lethargic as a result. It’s all connected and can turn into a pretty vicious cycle.

In 2020 I want to continue my efforts in the gym, be more mindful of what I’m eating (instead of “bored snacking”) and make it a point to get a full night’s rest so I’m not dragging myself to work every day. Additionally, I want to be more strict about my skincare, more mindful of the makeup I use, and treat myself to occasional small, relaxing luxuries- like facials or massages- to better improve my mood and reduce unnecessary stress and tension instead of letting it interfere with taking care of myself properly.

Budget Better: Living alone has taught me many things- most of them how to fix appliances via YouTube tutorials or the wonders of decorating more than just a bedroom or a bathroom at a time- but it’s also taught me to be more wise and considerate of my spending.

Gone are the days of frivolous shopping sprees and extravagant gift-giving- and in are the days of monitoring my accounts/credit score regularly, making wise and thought out purchases instead of impulse buys- and setting a weekly/monthly budget for myself to ensure my priority bills are taken care of and that there’s still enough left over to enjoy myself from time to time.

Travel/Experience More: The money that I save to treat myself will not be used on purchasing a brand new wardrobe or a closet full of shoes- but on experiences. I want to travel more in 2020- including to places that have been on my longtime bucket list like New Orleans or Nashville.

It’s easy to take an amazing trip without spending a fortune these days with help from things like AirBnB and the airline points I’ve racked up over the years- so my next adventure is hopefully right around the corner and one for the books!

Channel My Passions: I love, love, love working at Indie617. It’s a job that brings me genuine joy- so in 2020 I’d like to focus more on what I can do to become more involved- as well as finding other side hustles/jobs that spark my creativity and leave me feeling inspired and fulfilled.

It’s good I’m living in the Pioneer Valley- where so many artists with so many ideas flock to leave their mark on the world.

And I just may be one of them in 2020!

And that just about does it for me, everyone. I’m off to Boston and I’ll be back with big blog news bright and early on Thursday morning after I get back!

I wish you all the happiest of New Years and I hope that 2020 is better, or more peaceful, or more adventurous, or more kind and gentle- to anyone out there who needs it. I’m rooting for you!

See you all soon!

xx

– Ashley –

Favorites: July 2019!

Good Morning and Happy Monday, y’all!

After a busy Saturday in Boston (my first time downtown in over two months!) with Indie617 and spending my Sunday catching up on errands I had fallen behind on while I was ill last week- I think it’s safe to say I’m back to full health and ready to return to my normal work and blogging schedule.

With only a couple of days of July left- and no, I can’t believe it’s over already either!- my attention turns to recapping the month and preparing for some serious “Summertime Bucket List” cramming in August. I have a lot of thoughts about July- which was filled with many ups, downs, surprises and heatwaves- but I’m reserving those for Wednesday morning’s scheduled “In a Nutshell” post- as is tradition!

Today I want to focus on some of my favorite things from July. Products, thrifty finds, entertainment, etc. As always, I start with the things I was able to capture on camera and work my way down the list from there.

So without further delay- let’s get started!

First things first, you’ll notice this month’s items are placed on what is undoubtedly the greatest welcome mat ever created. I decided to truly make my new apartment a *real* home by investing in a proper mat for my door- but not any old one would do. I needed something that perfectly captured my personality and the laid-back, silly vibe I want radiating through my home for anyone who comes to visit.

What better way to do that than by capturing the most infamous line in “The Room” and proudly displaying Tommy Wiseau’s face in the process? This mat, courtesy of TheMatadoorCo, arrived super quick and is high quality. I love it!

I’ve been trying to make time to read before bed each night (when I’m not out late, obviously) since I have so many unfinished books in my collection. I recently added one more, and I haven’t been able to put it down since it arrived via Amazon. Natalie Wood was/is one of my favorite actresses of all time- gone too soon- and this biography by Suzanne Finstad, which was a New York Times Best Seller, is fantastic.

Featuring insight from the people who knew Natalie best and never before seen photos- I’m learning even more about such an incredible and gifted woman whose death still remains a troubling mystery.

I can’t tan. Actually, let me correct that- I can tan, but it requires getting a painful and dangerous sunburn beforehand. And, growing up in the nineties and early 00s- I am not stranger to self-tanners. All of them have left me orange. ALL. OF. THEM.

I was late getting on board the Jergens’ “Natural Glow” train because I assumed it would result in the same, tangerine-tint on my legs and arms that wouldn’t wash off or fade for weeks. Desperate for just a little color- I gave it a shot earlier this month and I’ve been swearing by it ever since. Obviously, this cream works as a moisturizer so my skin stays soft and smooth- but after a couple of weeks of daily use- I have a natural sun-kissed look, too.

It’s nothing too dramatic. I definitely don’t look like I’ve been in Cancun all July- but I also don’t look *as* pasty as usual- and it’s much safer and way more comfortable than getting a sunburn and waiting for it to gradually turn!

Out of all the steps I take in the morning when I’m getting ready for my day- my least favorite is fussing with my very thick and very curly hair. I just like to throw some product in and let it air dry while I tend to more pressing things. However, a lot of products are hit or miss. Some work well, while others leave my hair looking and feeling stiff or crunchy (the worst!)

I recently stumbled on this butter cream product from Garnier– specifically for curly hair and for air drying- and I don’t think I will EVER use anything else other than this moving forward. Not only does it smell delicious- but it softens my curls, tames frizz without making my hair feel heavy and hard- and actually repairs my ends while it’s left in. I have gotten more compliments in the few weeks I’ve been using this than I ever did with other and often more expensive products that were aimed towards women/men with curly hair.

I wanted new sunglasses before Summer wrapped up, and I wanted them to be unique and bright. Being in my early thirties, however- makes finding such a thing at a bit more difficult- especially since I’m a working professional and would be seen entering/exiting my place of employment in them.

I can’t necessarily walk into my office with bright pink flower-shaped sunglasses without raising a few eyebrows.

Instead, I opted for these chic and modified heart-shaped frames from Sojos that give me the best of both worlds- color and a fun, interesting shape- but subdued enough where I can wear them to work or out and about without looking like I’m trying to dress like a teenager.

These come in a variety of shades- but I am absolutely sold on the candy apple red!

When my last tube of mascara got a little goopy in the July heat- I knew it was time for a replacement. While in my local pharmacy, I scoured the aisles for something lengthening, long-lasting and waterproof (a must-have in New Engand humidity.) I spotted the striped packaging for Kokie’s “Stay Dry” black mascara and was immediately intrigued.

I ended up buying a tube, and it has not let me down since. The mascara softens, lengthens and thickens my lashes without making them look too fake or clumped together- and the formula has outlasted sweat, humidity, lake water and unfortunately a few unexpected tears as well.

Best of all? It’s only $7.00 a tube- so I think it’s safe to say this is my new go-to Summertime mascara.

And that just about does it for my photogenic favorites- but a couple of other things made the list, too!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

“The Lion King” – With a recent string of childhood movie re-makes and re-imaginations (and more scheduled to come)– this CGI re-telling of what is undoubtedly one of Disney’s most beloved, celebrated, and possibly traumatic children’s movies ever made was surprisingly really, really good.

The effects were breathtaking, but it was the excellent choice of voice actors that really made this one worth the watch for me- particularly Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner as Timon and Pumbaa. I was actually laughing out loud in the theater whenever you could hear them on screen. It was perfect.

– MISCELLANEOUS –

Starbucks’ S’mores Frappuccino – AKA, the only thing that helped my throat while I was sick. They’re a limited edition Summertime drink- so be sure to grab one before they start rolling out the Fall beverages in early-to-mid September if you haven’t done so already!

And that just about does it for me today, guys. Like I said earlier- I’ll have my full recap of July up and running this coming Wednesday before we swan dive into August. This month was a doozy.

As always, if you want to share some of your favorite things from this past month- feel free to drop me a line!

Enjoy your Monday and here’s hoping it’s an easy start to the work week ahead. Cheers!

xx

– Ashley –

A Midsummer Night’s Flu…

Good Afternoon and Happy “Hump Day”, everyone!

So, like most things in my life- I like to keep my blogging/blog posts on a semi regular schedule. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are typically the days I share content while en route to my office for my full-time job, unless there’s a holiday or something- in which case the posts are delegated to Tuesdays or Thursdays.

Last week, after I had posted my tribute for my late father commemorating several years since his passing- I had already started drafting my content for Friday morning before I left for the weekend and I braced myself for the heatwave that was scheduled to blanket New England until late Sunday night/early Monday morning.

But then I started to feel a little funny. It wasn’t too alarming- not at first- I just felt unusually fatigued and I kept losing my voice at the strangest times. I spent my Thursday and Friday in a bit of a pre-cold fog and, frankly- forgot to post all together. All I could do was sleep in-between grabbing dinners and seeing a couple of movies with friends (“The Lion King”, which was excellent- and “Rocket Man”, which was… Well.. It was something?)

By Saturday afternoon, after I’d left the Indie617 station and was trying to protect myself from triple digit temperatures outside- I had a full-blown, Midsummer’s flu. Coughing. Sneezing. Fever. The works.

And while fevers are problematic on their own- fevers during a severe heatwave are a major cause for concern. I just couldn’t cool down, and on more than one occasion- friends and family were considering taking me to the hospital since I was borderline delirious and nothing was working at lowering my temperature and making me feel better.

Of course, I had to keep working during all of this- between my office job, volunteering for the Pan-Mass Challenge, and my work with PaintBox Theatre– so I was essentially running on fumes until Monday evening when I could finally rest right and properly with the A/C on, the blinds closed, and an ice pack on my head. No worries, though- I kept my mouth/nose covered and slathered antibacterial gel all over my hands on what felt like a ten minute routine.

Thankfully, the fever has since broke- and I’ve been on the mend and getting better and better since Monday. Today, both my “Work From Home Day” and mercifully a half day as well- is the best I’ve felt since right around this time last week. I’m up, moving, talking, and taking plenty of medicine and getting a ton of fluids. I’m even considering braving the outdoors today for some much-needed fresh air and even more needed coffee!

Volunteering for Pan-Mass!
My favorite volunteer at Pan-Mass.

Of course, being sick had me in a bit of a funk/depression- especially when bedridden and all I wanted to do was scratch more things off of my “Summer 2019 Bucket List”- but I’m resolved not to waste what’s left of July and cram whatever is left into August. Being sad and sick is the worst. Being said and sick during a heatwave is torture. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

All that being said- thanks to everyone who heard through social media I wasn’t well and touched base. It meant a lot!

I’m excited to get “Blondie Birdie” back on track and savor the last few days of July!

I’ll be back – bright and early – on Friday morning! Until then, enjoy what’s left of your Wednesday!

xx

– Ashley –

Stay-cations, Horror Movies and Chicken Coops…

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

As we reach the halfway point to the weekend and I prepare to share some big and exciting news in a couple of days (I gotta’ make sure the ink is dry, first!)– I’m taking a look back on what was a pretty exciting weekend that took me from one side of the state to the other. Lots of driving? Sure. Worth it? Absolutely.

On Friday, after I’d left work for the day and ran some errands- I partook in a little “Stay-Cation” in my hometown of Worcester with Troy who was working a conference in the city over the weekend. We ate locally, had some super strong drinks, and watched the re-make/re-telling of “Pet Sematary” which was… Not that great. I’m nearly certain I’ve said it before, but Stephen King movies rarely translate well on screen. I’m not sure if it’s because what you dream up in your head as you’re reading his work is infinitely more scary than anything any director can pull off- but many film adaptations of his stories rarely work properly (except “Misery”, “Stand By Me” and the re-make of “It.”)

I digress. “Pet Sematary” was a serious let-down (except for the cat. I loved the cat!) and if our tickets hadn’t been discounted- I probably would have been really mad when I was leaving the theater.

Side Note: where is the trailer for “It: Chapter 2?”

On Saturday, after leaving the Indie617 station in Boston for the afternoon- it was off to the wilderness of Barre, Massachusetts to visit my friend Stef and her husband Andy in their new home they’d recently moved into for dinner and a late night horror movie with some of our circle of friends. Our film of choice? “Sleepaway Camp”!

Stef and Andy are budding farmers, and now that they’re out of the city and living in a very rural, remote location- they’ve been able to start using their land the way they’ve always wanted. They’ve already started getting their animals in order and are planning what fruit/vegetables to grow once the weather gets a bit nicer.

While I was visiting, I met Stef’s newest family addition- a bunch of little chickens! They’re not for food, by the way (they’re way too cute) but Stef is hoping to have fresh eggs when they get big enough.

I’m trying to convince her to invest in some alpacas, too. We’ll see how that goes.

Sunday, after sleeping entirely too late (I needed it)– it was all about errands, preparing meals for the week, and catching up on e-mails with an iced coffee in one hand and a pizza bagel in the other in and around my home- where I sometimes just need to sort of veg out and be still in for an afternoon or an evening to re-center myself and relax.

For now, I’ve got to get to work and attempt to stay one step ahead of the game despite how busy it’s been lately- and get ready for Friday!

Here’s wishing you all a lovely “Hump Day!” Talk soon!

xx

– Ashley –

Killer Clowns and Bachelorette Bliss…

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone! We’re nearly to the weekend! Are you excited?

This coming Saturday is shaping up to be a relaxing one, spent in the countryside of Vermont (weather permitting) where I’ll be visiting some of my family, photographing the foliage/scenery- and enjoying some of Montpelier’s finest dining. I’m excited to visit some old spots I haven’t had the opportunity to stop by in years- and discover some new places, too!

The trip will undoubtedly be vastly different to the craziness of this past weekend, of course- which kicked off on Friday night when friends and I bundled up and headed out to the Rocky Woods Reservation to catch a late evening screening of ‘It’ (the 1990 one) in the middle of the woods, courtesy of the Coolidge Corner Theater’s “After Midnight” program.

Along with snacks and beer from local breweries, the screening also included a live Q&A with the film’s screenwriter, Lawrence D. Cohen and a look at Pennywise’s original costume prototype. And- of course- there were red balloons everywhere. Despite the chill in the air by the end of the 4+ hour event- it was a lot of fun.

Saturday saw me out of the woods and back in the city for my longtime friend Stef’s bachelorette party. She’s getting married in a few short weeks, and this past weekend was the only real chance that we- and a bunch of our hometown friends- could get together to celebrate and see her off properly!

Now, while there were plenty of penis-shaped party favors (and a cake) and an appearance by a blowup doll at one point during the evening- as is the tradition of many, if not all bachelorette parties- we actually did things a bit different and opted for entertainment that would keep all of us on our toes and guessing with our alcohol-fogged brains.

The first stop of the night was Boston’s “Escape The Room” experience. Most of us being avid gamers thought this would be a breeze to get through if we worked together as a team- and we opted for the “Clock Tower” escape sequence. Having done a couple of smaller, less intricate escape rooms in the past- I was *not* expecting the level of detail, complexity, and difficulty of the puzzles required for us to maneuver from room to room. It was hard!

With just under ten minutes on the clock to spare, we did eventually make it out before the buzzer- but I thought the #FAIL sign was too funny not to hold up during our group photo.

If you ever get the opportunity to participate in one of these escape rooms- make sure you’re well-rested and on top of your game! It’s really fun- but you’re going to need to stay sharp during it!

Following our victory, we headed down the street to Papagayo’s for a quick snack and a few delicious margaritas that were mixed up by the bartender, Adele- who was lovely and super accommodating to our party.

After getting a little tipsy, our group walked (see: stumbled) through Downtown Crossing to Elephant & Castle to participate in a mob-themed murder mystery dinner- something Stef has always wanted to join in on. The actors/wait staff were adorable, and while dinner was alright- the dessert ruled and the comedy in the show was worth coming back for seconds.

Oddly enough, I guessed the killer correctly for the “who dunnit?” portion of the evening- and won two tickets to any of their upcoming events- so I guess I really will be coming back for more!

Following dinner (and a few more drinks)– the lot of us hit a couple more bars before we retreated to the hotel room that some of the bridal party had got for the night for some late-night conversation and photo ops with “Standy”- the blow-up doll that was supposed to represent Stef’s fiancé, Andy.

We eventually dispersed when exhaustion started to take over- but it was a night spent well. We don’t get many opportunities to spend time together as a whole group since we all have careers or families- so events like this and/or holidays are particularly special and something to really be cherished and looked forward to. I had so much fun- and it was so great seeing everyone in one place again. I’m really excited for the wedding!

Sunday was, thankfully, a day of rest- brunch and football, really- and a chance to catch up on some much-needed sleep before I returned to work on Monday morning. The weekend, overall- was one for the record books, however. It was truly a blast! A little crazy at times- but a blast nonetheless.

But before I start preparing for this coming weekend, I’ve got to get some work done at my office (and I gotta’ take off early today, since it’s my half day!)

Enjoy your “Hump Day”, everyone! I’ll be back on Friday with a true sweater weather-inspired OOTD post!

xx

– Ashley –