Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Good Morning and Happy Marathon Monday, everyone!

Now that my big moving day news is out of the way as of last week- I have been focusing on the actual move itself- including the lengthy and tedious process of beginning to pack, buying new furniture to replace older pieces I don’t necessarily want to take with me, coordinating the delivery and installation of those new pieces for when I’ve returned from a brief stay in the West Coast just prior to my mid-month move-in date, so on and so forth.

It’s exciting and admittedly stressful for sure- as is the case with any move of a significant distance (and moving anywhere out of the city can be considered a significant distance!) but I’m taking it day by day and finding joy wherever I can.

When I’m not working or packing my life away in boxes, I’ve been exploring my soon-to-be-new-neighborhood, as well. I’ve been to the Pioneer Valley plenty of times over the years (including multiple visits per week for work and friends in recent months) but there’s still so much to see/do/uncover. I have my favorite places established for coffee and food, i.e. The Roost and Mama Iguana’s in Northampton, respectively- but with any community with a budding and prominent art/theater/music scene- there’s a lot of hidden gems that may otherwise go overlooked if you don’t seek them out!

Troy has been a huge help in showing me around, introducing me to new places and people, giving me tips/tricks on what’s worthwhile and what to avoid, etc. He’s lived in the Valley for years and knows nearly everyone/everything out in Western Massachusetts.

Last Friday night, he brought me to the Tunnel Bar for the first time. It’s an old railway tunnel from the 1800s tucked away in downtown Northampton that was turned into a very chic cocktail lounge. The space is unique for sure- and would be amazing for a performance piece. Based on notes on my phone and a napkin I found in my purse that Troy and I had scribbled on as we drank- it looks like we had started to develop a script while we were there?

I think I’m going to start developing a series of posts highlighting some of those unique and must-see places for anyone reading who wants to visit the area- and I could probably start as soon as this week!

But for now, today has me back to work and back in the city for Marathon Monday- even with the current torrential downpour and thunderstorms. It’s one of the best days to be in Boston- as the Marathon showcases incredible athletes’ resilience and the city’s enthusiasm for their dedication (and excitement for Spring!)

I’ll be sure to post plenty of photos/videos on my social media throughout the day, and I’ll be back a little later on this week to share one of my favorite Springtime vintage finds from my closet!

Have a wonderful start to your week, everyone! Stay dry and be safe out there!

xx

– Ashley –

Pioneer Woman

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it to another weekend (relatively) unscathed!

For the past few days, I’ve teased at having big news I’ve been anxiously waiting to share with everyone- and now seems like the perfect time to finally divulge the details. I had been waiting for the right time and for the ink to dry before I said anything outside of my immediate family and my employers- but as of May 18th- I’ll be a resident of the Pioneer Valley for what I’m calling/considering a year-long trial period.

I’ll be moving into a lumber-mill-turned-luxury-loft because I’m a walking Pinterest board.

The road of my life will eventually lead to Las Vegas and the West Coast, I’m sure- but I’m not done here in Massachusetts and New England yet. I’m working, actively participating in my community in various projects, having the time of my life at Indie617 and am hesitant to walk away from my family, lifelong friends and a personal relationship I’m very happy with right now.

But, at the end of the day- cost effectiveness, the need for my own space in a clean, safe area far outside the city and away from the traffic, congestion, and pollution- and wanting to be closer to more work opportunities and a community of artists and creators I’ve come to love and embrace has both inspired and persuaded me to make this change.

I’ll still be working with the same company, who have graciously offered me the chance to work remotely when needed so that I don’t have to leave them. I’ll still be hosting my radio show on Saturdays. I’ll still be attending all sorts of events in and around Boston as if nothing has changed- and things like commuting, travel expenses, etc. have already been heavily considered in my decision making and solutions have been discovered with the help from friends and family- but this is something I need in my life right now: mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and financially.

It’s simply getting too expensive to live where I am right now, and having lived with people for as long as I can remember- from growing up with my parents and brothers, co-existing with friends/friends-of-friends/strangers, etc.- having my own place for a fraction of what I spend now to simply keep a roof over my head is going to be such a refreshing change of pace for me.

It has been a joyous journey for the past few years and I’m admittedly excited, scared, happy, anxious and a little sad to be moving somewhere new and kinda’ far out in the country- but it’s a whole new chapter and adventure and with that comes stories to share as I’m meeting new people, visiting new places and trying new things- so at least I won’t be lacking for content here at ‘Blondie Birdie!’

So that’s the news! It was nothing salacious or anything and my apologies to anyone who was getting their hopes up that it was.

I’ll be sharing all sorts of photos of my new place and the process while I’m moving in a few weeks- both here and on my social media, for sure- but here’s to new beginnings!

And also, here’s to the weekend! I’m off to work for a few hours before I head on over to Down The Road Beer Co. for our fourth installment of IndieBrews tonight with The Devil’s Twins. Come on by, have a drink- and bring your dogs so I can pet them!

See you all again on Monday, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

Bloom Where You’re Planted…

Good Morning, Happy “Hump Day” and Happy (official) First Day of Spring, everyone!

It seems fitting that the season of blossoming and blooming would start just as so many exciting new opportunities and changes are happening for me/around me right now. I know I always briefly mention how busy I am lately- but I really mean it! I’ve been going non-stop!

Back at the end of 2018, I had mentioned a couple of new projects I was preparing to start working on and had admittedly been excited to delve more into the details when the time was right. One project was for a radio station based out of Boston, and the other was for a family theater company based in the Pioneer Valley. Considering both of those projects are essentially on opposite sides of the state- I go back and forth fairly often!

I also maintain my full-time legal specialist position and still make sure to find time to spend with family and friends- all of whom are thankfully very understanding to my occasional time restrictions- so with everything finally coming to fruition and all the smaller, more intricate details being ironed out- it feels like I can relax much more easily now!

So, what’s the news?

Well, beginning this Saturday- I’ll be starting my very own weekly show on Indie617 from 12-4 PM where I’ll get to play the music I love, talk about upcoming shows, recap recent events around the city of Boston, etc. I’m so excited since I simply adore everyone at the station and have been having a blast popping by for occasional sit-downs/chats over the past couple of months during the “Morning Glory” show.

You can stream my show online at the website or download the Indie617 app (it’s free- so no excuses!)

Additionally, I’ve taken on the role of Marketing & Publicity Director at Paintbox Theatre– a company I have loved and held dear for a very long time now. The work that they do for children and families in the Pioneer Valley is beyond admirable and I’m so thrilled to be a part of all the fun, crazy, and adorable things they have planned for their upcoming Summer season!

Of course, working across and around the state has sort of grounded me in the New England area- which is funny considering it was around this time a year ago I was earnestly and vehemently talking about moving out to Las Vegas/Henderson, Nevada- and as I continue with my year of self-reflection and attempts at bettering myself by learning from past mistakes and missteps- I think that’s one flaw I need to tackle head on: my eagerness to move to a new location- sometimes places that are thousands of miles away from everything I’ve ever known or worked for- without addressing the reasons why.

First it was San Diego, and my main drive behind that was because I wanted to be closer to friends (and yes, a guy I liked at the time)– but I had never stopped to really consider career opportunities or the astronomical cost of living out there. Granted, where I live is on the pricier side as well- but I can still live and support myself without stretching myself out too thin.

I had just assumed my career could be easily transitioned across the county- but that wasn’t the case.

With my planned move to Las Vegas, my intentions were more fine-tuned- I wanted to live somewhere warm, close to my West Coast Wife, and in an area where the cost of living was infinitely more manageable (and I still do so much!)– but being so far away from my family, my friends and restarting a career over in a part of the country where the turnover rate of the population is nearly non-stop was a bit intimidating.

Plus, financial setbacks throughout 2018 kept delaying the process- and now here I am- finally getting my momentum back.

While Vegas/Henderson is not off the table by any means- I need to rebuild my foundation, first- and I need to do it here at home and by utilizing the aforementioned opportunities/projects I’ve taken on to build up both my finances and my resume (should I decide to switch career paths at any given time. I have to show I’m versatile!)

That means making the best of what I have here (“bloom where you’re planted”) for the time being- which includes potentially finding a less expensive place to live within the Pioneer Valley or outside of the city so I can better accomplish my short-term goals- and gradually work my way towards my long-term ones.

With smaller plans in play and these new projects keeping me occupied and focused- I can say with all sincerity that I’m excited for the future and looking forward to what’s ahead without any nervousness, uncertainty or anxiety- something that plagued me in the past when I was trying to relocate/reignite my life and passions.

And hopefully the future will be warmer here in New England real soon!

I’m off to play catch-up after an unexpected day off from work yesterday- and a little later on this week I’m dabbling with floral print again. I’ll have the photos to show you all what I mean!

Enjoy your Wednesday, everybody!

xx

– Ashley –

February 2018: In a Nutshell

Good Morning, everyone! Can you believe it’s the end of February already and that March- and Spring!- are right around the corner? I sure can’t. It feels like this month flew by- although I’m sure my traveling and long-term-plan-making kept me pretty occupied (and maybe a little distracted!) as the days went right by me!

February- as short and sweet a month as it is- had it’s fair share of incredible, memorable moments that I’ll carry with me through the rest of 2018. I kicked things off with some of my dearest friends in Las Vegas where I got to catch up with people I love and who I hadn’t seen in what felt like the longest time, enjoy a hometown show from one of my favorite bands (The Killers, obviously!) and ultimately made the decision to move to Henderson, Nevada later on this Fall. Talk about a busy weekend, right?

While I was in Vegas, The Patriots sadly lost the Super Bowl in what was really one of the only low points this past month- which was a bummer, for sure- but what an incredible season they had! I had so much fun reigniting longtime rivalries with friends who support other teams, going to multiple tailgating parties, and enjoying all the amazing game day food- and I’m looking forward to next season where I’m sure my boys are going to dominate again.

But until then- it’s almost time for the Red Sox resurgence!

I was surprised with a Belated-Birthday-Party by my friends this past month, as well as a semi-surprise dinner date for Galentine’s Day courtesy of a guy friend of mine who went above and beyond to cook me a homemade meal (I’m still a little heart-eyed over that one, to be honest!) and rang in the ‘Year of The Dog’ with my own puppers and some Chinese takeout for the Lunar New Year.

With hints of warmer weather teasing us here in New England every so often over these past few weeks- some days were spent out in the sunshine, savoring the rising temperatures- while other, chillier days were spent driving through places in Western Massachusetts and Vermont with the heat cranked up and some hot coffee within reach to decompress and unwind.

And then, of course- there was this past weekend- where I took my friend from work- Bryan- with me down to Mohegan Sun to catch an impromptu show from some of my favorite local boys and longtime friends- the Dropkick Murphys! The guys were nice enough to hook Bryan and I up with an All Access pass so we could roam backstage and stage-side freely- and what a view we had of the show!

The show was the kickoff to their annual Saint Patrick’s Day celebration- and what an incredible performance it was! The crowd was awesome, the setlist was pretty perfect- and we had such an amazing time. Bryan hadn’t seen the guys in years, so I was really glad that he could come along and watch it from what was undoubtedly the best spot in the entire arena with me!

And afterwards, of course- I had to thank Ken- who has been so lovely to me over the years since we first met back in my early (like, really early) twenties. We made sure to take an updated photo, too- since the last one was from circa 2013.

It was truly one of the best ways to wrap up the month, and I hope I get to see the guys again in a couple of weeks at any of their Boston shows. They’re so much fun!

Speaking of- what else do I have in store for March? A long overdue trip to NYC, stopping by the South Boston Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, breaking out some of my Spring wardrobe to share with you all- as well as some new recipes I’ve been experimenting with- and a few other tricks I have up my sleeve!

Enjoy the rest of your day, everyone- and be sure to tip your hat to February. It was a good one!

xx

– Ashley –

“It only takes two hours to Nevada…”

Since my early twenties, when I first began venturing out to the West Coast for days- and then weeks- at a time, I always said the same thing right before it came time for me to grab my suitcase and return home: “I need to live here.” The weather, the scenery, the music and art scenes, the food and the nightlife? Everything about places like California, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada resonated deeply with me- and it didn’t hurt that so many of my friends were/are peppered throughout different cities and States out that way.

I never feel alone when I travel out West- and given how much more active I am in warmer weather as opposed to being cooped up here in New England during the Winter months- meeting new people when I’m out and about is always pretty easy for me.

Over the years, different friends have tried to convince me to take the plunge, make the commitment- and move to places like San Diego or Los Angeles- and although I would have loved to. I really, really would have loved to- personal circumstances and the inevitable financial strain were unavoidable and caused multiple delays in potential plans to relocate for over a decade.

For example: plans to move years ago were abruptly halted when my father was diagnosed with cancer and later passed away during his post-surgery chemo and radiation treatments. Spending time with him and taking care of both him and my mother while she tried to remain strong for my entire family were understandably the priority- and nothing else mattered at the time.

A couple of years following his death and my recovery from the grief and brief anxiety disorder that I developed in the aftermath of the trauma- an attempt to head out to SoCal for the long haul were once again cut short when the law firm I worked for closed abruptly and I was subsequently laid off months before my scheduled departure without warning- resulting in a HUGE hit to my finances as I scrambled to find work and try to figure out my next step that wouldn’t leave me drowning in debt as I attempted to pay bills and afford transport/travel expenses that would ultimately get me to my destination.

And then, of course- there was the messy, devastating breakup with a long-term love of mine near the end of 2016. A split that left me so dazed and confused that I eventually just put moving on the back burner all together so I could focus on my career, my personal life with my friends and family, and piecing myself back into a person I knew and recognized bit by bit until I felt whole again. I’ve been rooted here in Boston and Massachusetts ever since- occasionally popping by various areas out West every so often to say hello and work on my tan.

But, it looks like things are changing in 2018.

After careful consideration, weighing the pros/cons of the decision, and discussing it at length and in-depth with my immediate family and close friends- I’ve decided that the time is right and the time is now: I’ll be re-locating to Henderson, Nevada later on this Fall to give myself a year-long trial of living my life out West- in the desert- to see how it goes. Everyone I’ve spoken to about this plan has given me their blessing- as well as some friendly advice, of course.

Why Henderson? Well, for starters- it’s a nice, safe area about 20-30 minutes outside of the Vegas Strip. Close enough to go have fun, see a show, gamble and drink if I truly felt like it- but far enough away from the action where I can avoid drunk people who are getting sloppy by the end of the night and get a full night’s rest without being disturbed by bright lights and loud voices/music. I love Vegas, but being *IN* Vegas full-time would be utterly overwhelming and exhausting for me!

My West Coast Wife, Kelsey, also lives in Henderson- as well- so being able to spend more time with her instead of only seeing her a couple of times a year is definitely a bonus!

But one of the biggest perks to moving to Nevada is the cost of living vs. anywhere else- including where I live now. Real estate is incredibly reasonable in Henderson. You can buy a home, or rent a beautiful and spacious apartment/condo without having to work four different jobs or sacrifice your time or sanity to make ends meet. That sort of freedom- and being able to have actual options on where you live and what you can do for work- is a luxury these days. With Vegas being a bustling, tourist-filled city- you can find work pretty much anywhere and everywhere- and not feel boxed in or forced to choose something just for the sake of earning a paycheck.

Listen- I love San Diego- and if I could live anywhere in the world, it’d be there– but it is financially impossible for me. The same way it’s nearly impossible for a lot of people I know out there who are really struggling and working themselves to the bone in order to afford the ever increasing cost of living. I want to enjoy my time in the sunshine- and not work 3-4 jobs just so I can pay rent for an apartment that is essentially the size of a broom closet. That’s not the type of life I want- and in Henderson- that isn’t the type of life I’d be forced to have.

Besides, if I REALLY get lonesome for Ocean Beach? San Diego is a 4 hour drive from Vegas (and a 45 minute flight!)– which is a lot better and a lot more convenient than being 3,000 miles away like I currently am!

So, what’s the plan?

While no set or specific move date has been established- I’m pushing towards a mid-November date to pack up and head out of Massachusetts. Not just because it’ll be right before we start getting slammed with snow again so I can dodge that nightmare in time, but also because my friend Stef is getting married right after Halloween- and moving furniture and heavy objects in breezy Fall weather sounds a LOT more appealing than moving it in the middle of the Summer.

I’ve been cutting expenses and saving as much money as I can as of late to make sure I’m prepared- and have been actively reaching out to and talking with knowledgeable folks in Henderson about renting an apartment/condo. I have a trip planned sometime in the Spring to go and look at some property in-person (as well as meet with some local businesses in regards to starting a career out there.)

It definitely helps that my friends in the Vegas area are so eager and willing to assist, as well. I’ve been offered work opportunities and places to stay until I’m on my feet- which is comforting when I remember I’ll be a lot farther away from all that I’m familiar with here in New England.

And, of course- I’m savoring each moment I have with my family, my friends here at home, and even at work- since I know I’m going to miss it all like crazy once I head out and start driving West.

I fully intend on updating with my progress as things begin and continue moving along- but I’m excited, nervous, anxious, and hopeful to begin this new chapter of my life in a new location and surrounded by different scenery. It’s going to be interesting- that’s for sure!

Enjoy your Friday and your weekend, everyone! I’ll be back next week with my favorites from this past month, a look back at all the highs and lows throughout February- and will have a fun recipe to share with all of you, too!

xx

– Ashley –