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 –

Very Superstitious…

Good Morning and Happy Monday (ugh…), everyone! Time to get back into that workday grind!

This past weekend was a lazy and relaxing one- with my time divided between an outdoor festival with friends in Western Massachusetts on Saturday and a family cookout on Sunday- but it was enough to recharge me for the week ahead. I’ve got a lot to do over the next few days!

Before I kicked things off in Greenfield on Saturday morning, I was in Medfield overnight for the Friday the 13th-inspired movie screening put on by the Coolidge Corner Theatre! Specifically- the theatre’s “After Midnight” program, where they screen classic horror movies, low-budget 70s flicks, and so-bad-they’re-good cult favorites like “The Room” and “Batman & Robin”- late at night.

Every Friday the 13th- rain or shine- the theater turns the Rocky Woods Reservation in Medfield into Camp Crystal Lake and screen two back-to-back Jason Voorhees movies. There’s plenty of refreshments provided by local breweries and volunteers- and one or two very tall, muscular and intimidating guys that dress like Jason and walk around at random to help creep up everyone’s night.

This year’s movie selection consisted of “Friday the 13th: A New Beginning” and my personal favorite in the series- “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan”. Both, part of that so-bad-they’re-good category- had all of us in attendance laughing hysterically for hours on end. By the time the night was over- my face hurt from cracking up so much- but the rest of me felt fine thanks to some serious bug spray I used beforehand to keep mosquitoes and ticks away! You can never be too careful, after all.

The Coolidge will be showing classic horror movies through the end of the Summer, so if you’re looking for something to do on a Friday or Saturday night and want to stay somewhere air conditioned and surrounded by good people who like to laugh- I definitely recommend stopping by!

I personally can’t wait for their “Troll 2” night. So, so awful. It’s going to be a blast!

And now I’ve got to get to work and get things done before my phone starts ringing!

Enjoy your Monday, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

Film Wars!

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone! We’re almost to Friday (not that I’m keeping track or anything…)

The good news is that I’ve nearly fully recovered from my recent cold/flu- save for a little residual congestion that has been giving me the worst headaches imaginable- but I’m back on my feet, working without interruption, and making all sorts of plans!

The bad news was that this past weekend, that pesky aforementioned cold/flu was still leaving me bit lethargic- and although I got a few errands done (with some difficulty)– I didn’t accomplish nearly as much as I had hoped during such a lovely and sunny couple of days.

One thing I *did* do, however- was head to my hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts- and to my favorite dive bar, Ralph’s, to catch their annual local film festival/competition- the Worcester Film Wars!

The premise of Film Wars is pretty cool- and anyone can enter the contest whether they have a background in acting/directing/editing/etc. or not. You and your team of friends fill out the online registration form, and then you or a representative from your team attend the launch event (also at Ralph’s) where you’ll get to spin the wheel of movie must-haves (and referred to as the “Devil Wheel.”) Whatever the spinner lands on- be it a wardrobe piece, a line of dialogue, a specific color or sound effect- is something you and your team will need to incorporate into your movie!

From there, teams have exactly 72 hours to write, shoot, edit and submit their films (3-7 minutes long!) to the judges where they will then be premiered at the actual competition the following week in front of an outdoor audience who will individually vote on their favorite of the bunch. Winners get some really great prizes from local sponsors/companies- and it’s an overall fun, silly, boozy time for everyone.

I had a blast catching up with friends from back home, having a couple of drinks, and watching all the participating teams’ efforts. It was so much fun- and the weather held up nicely despite there being possible rain in the forecast!

You can actually view some of this year’s (and past years) submissions by CLICKING HERE. Just be warned that we’re from Massachusetts- and we swear. Like, a lot. Most of those short films are probably not safe for work.

For now, I’m heading off to get some work done before my phone starts ringing off the hook, though- and then it’s onward to some dinner plans tonight!

Keep an eye out this coming Friday before I break for the weekend, however- since I’ve got a pretty fun dessert recipe to share!

Have a great day, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

Favorites: February 2018!

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone! What a wild weekend I had- which I’ll be talking about in a couple of days when I share my month’s-end “In a Nutshell” post- but for now it’s back to work for me, while simultaneously grieving over last night’s mid-season premiere of ‘The Walking Dead’ (for real- I cried so much that it was actually kind of gross.)

But before I dive into my morning meetings, e-mails and phone calls- I wanted to share some of my favorite things from this past month. Admittedly, there isn’t a lot of products/items since I did a pretty significant amount of traveling throughout February and many of my favorites from January carried over as a result- but there were a few things that stood out and even more odds and ends that I couldn’t photograph that made the list!

Let’s get right into it, shall we?

Despite fluctuating temperatures here in Massachusetts, it’s still pretty cold at night, and this mermaid tail blanket- a gift from my Aunt and Uncle earlier this year- has definitely come in handy on the nights I’ve spent throughout this month lounging on the couch and watching TV or getting some late night work done from the comfort of my dining room table.  This blanket is really warm and really fun- and has made more than one appearance in a selfie or on my Snapchat throughout the past couple of weeks.

Oddly enough, I recently read an article where someone said the mermaid and unicorn-themed clothing and accessories for adults are “juvenile”- which to that, I say- awesome. I’m warm, and that’s all that matters!

I’ve been wearing a lot of turtleneck sweaters lately, which makes accessorizing my neck a little difficult unless I go for statement pieces that are big and bold. I recently rediscovered this peacock necklace that my mother had given to me a couple of Christmases ago and I’ve been rocking it to work and out on the town nearly every day/night ever since.

I love the teal and purple colors- which stand out against my usual Winter-neutral shades of black, tan, and grey- and matching my eye shadow or eye liner to them proves for a fun, pre-Spring look without getting overly light and bright too prematurely.

With plans to potentially move out West later on this Fall, I’ve been revisiting something I’ve had on my ‘Bucket List’ for quite a few years but have never had the opportunity to complete until now. I’m talking about traveling cross-country on the remnants of what was formerly Route 66- complete with cheesy roadside attractions, cheap motels, diner food, and an amazing classic rock playlist.

I picked up this book a while back to see what this journey had to offer- and although it’s a little outdated- a lot of the attractions are still very much in existence (The Blue Whale of Catoosa! Cadillac Ranch! Prada Marfa!) I’ve been enjoying researching the must-sees and marking them down along my personal route map now and then over the past few weeks. It’s going to be an adventure!

And finally, one skin care product I’ve been obsessed with as of late. When I returned from my trip to Vegas earlier this month, my skin needed some serious TLC. The dryness of the desert, followed up by the harsh cold here in New England when I came back home- did a number on my complexion. I turned to this gel textured, 10-minute mask from First Aid Beauty to even out my face- restoring moisture, softening rough areas, and brightening any dull spots that appeared along the way.

I swear by this mask- which I use 2x a week- and achieve fantastic results every single time!

And I think that’s it for the photogenic stuff! Moving on, however-

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

‘Far Out\Thaw Out’ – I had shared my most recent, Spring-inspired playlist on 8Tracks a few days ago here on the blog, but it’s worth mentioning again because I truly love each song I hand selected for it and have been listening to them on a rotation (typically on my way to and from work) and thought it was worth posting again!

‘Black Panther’ – WAKANDA FOREVER. Not since ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ have I been so thoroughly in love with a MCU movie as I am with ‘Black Panther’ right now. It was perfect from start to finish- and I have to give a standing ovation to my Queen, Danai Gurira (who rules on ‘The Walking Dead’, too!) I practically shrieked with joy when she showed up on my screen.

I’m actually planning on seeing it again this week with friends who haven’t had the privilege of watching it yet- and I’m just as excited as I was the first time around!

– GAMES/APPS –

Overcooked – I can’t remember the last time a video game caused my friends and I to frantically scream burger ingredients to each other, but here we are. My BFF Sean discovered this game and wasted no time in getting the rest of us on board- but we’ve been obsessively playing it at get togethers all month and we’re showing no signs of stopping any time soon.

The premise seems simple, but the execution can get complicated REAL quick. You play as little cartoon chefs and have to prepare, cook, and serve recipes in the order that they come in. Once the recipes become more complicated and the orders start coming in faster and faster- things turn into an absolute shit show. Our group’s friendship has been tested- more than once- with this game. Over cartoon cheeseburgers, of all things.

And I think that’s it for my February Favorites! I’m off to get some work done- and I hope you all have a great start to your week! Here’s hoping your Monday goes by quickly and painlessly!

xx

– Ashley –