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 –

Stay-Cations and Solo Debuts…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

I’m writing this on Sunday night from Troy’s dining room table while I listen to The Cure and munch on a crab cake sandwich from a takeout order I had placed at Fitzwilly’s just down the street. I’ve been staying at his place in downtown Northampton these past few nights- some of which while he’s been away in San Diego for his job- as a bit of a “Stay-Cation” to get away from minor office/home stresses, be closer to the Pioneer Valley while I work on side projects and look at real estate in the area- and just be able to breathe in some fresh air and do a little sightseeing around town.

It’s back to work for me this morning, though- and I’ll be diving into work-mode as soon as I get into the office bright and early momentarily. The good news and the upside, however- is that my little venture/vacation in Northampton left me feeling a lot more refreshed! I desperately needed it after all the Spring cleaning I’ve been doing and all the big changes and opportunities I recently talked about.

This past Saturday saw my brief return to Boston, however- when I launched my Saturday afternoon radio show at Indie617! Although there were a couple of technical difficulties at the very beginning that left me rattled- I got the hang of it and loosened up- and had a really good time! The response has been really kind and positive, too- which is amazing. If you missed it, I’ll be back this coming Saturday from 12-4 PM! I play good tunes and share upcoming and super fun events in the area- so you definitely don’t want to miss it!

Prior to this weekend, however- I’ve got a pretty great breakfast recipe to share on Wednesday- followed by a recap of my favorite things from March on Friday! With Sunday being the last day of the month, my full summary of these past few weeks will be up whenever I roll out of bed for brunch- which means a shortened posting week next week- but it’ll be a good one nonetheless!

For now, I’ve got to get the jump on my work and caseload for the week- and indulge in some post-office burgers and fries with friends after I clock out for the day. I won’t be laying my head in the Pioneer Valley tonight for the first time in a long time- which is a shame- but I’m sure I’ll be heading back *real* soon! It’s so peaceful there!

Enjoy the start of your week, everyone! We’re all in this together and we can push through to Friday!

xx

– Ashley –

Think Spring…

Good Morning and Happy “Hump Day”, everyone!

I have Spring on the brain. While this past Winter certainly hasn’t been the worst we’ve seen here in New England (that honor still belongs to 2015 as far as I’m concerned)– it’s still going strong and I’m slowly reaching my breaking point when it comes to dealing with snow, slush and ice.

I want warmer weather. I want to start wearing less layers and lighter sweaters- and I want to be able to exercise outside without risking frost bite!

To hold me over until March 20th (the official first day of Spring!)– I’ve been incorporating more florals into my wardrobe and accessories. I’ve been leaning towards more pink/rose shades for my makeup- and I’ve been trying to find some indoor activities to lift my spirits when the weather outside is frightful.

This past weekend I hit the jackpot with a stop at the Botanic Garden at Smith College in Northampton. Their annual Spring Bulb Show is currently underway (through March 17th)– and it was absolutely beautiful. The garden consists of a series of greenhouses filled- wall to wall- with various tulips, lilies, irises, etc. The show is free to get into- although donations to keep the garden up and running and welcomed and encouraged.

I managed to snap some photos during my stay. To see larger versions, just click on any of the pictures below!

The trip- as brief as it was- definitely got me out of my Winter funk for a little while and has me looking forward to warmer days ahead!

A little later on this week, I’m sharing a Spring-inspired playlist with some old and new favorite songs for the impending season- before it’s time to break for another busy weekend.

In the meantime- if you need something to listen to ’til then- why not check out this snippet from yesterday’s ‘Morning Glory’ segment on Indie617? I dropped by to talk about the 20th anniversary of ‘Cruel Intentions’ and other guilty pleasure movies from the 90s. It was a lot of fun!

I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday as we work our way over the hump and towards Friday. I’m off to play some catch-up at the office!

xx

– Ashley –

Post-Birthday Recovery…

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

My posting schedule has been a little off this week (and will be next week, as well- given February kicks off next Friday!) The days leading up to and following my birthday are always a little crazy and hectic since I have such a big family and my friends are scattered around Massachusetts and New England. My time is always stretched a bit thin since people come and visit, I’m going out to meet friends for birthday-related fun- and also working full-time. It leaves little time for blogging this time of year!

Tonight is one of the last birthday celebrations planned for me as far as I know- and it involves eating lots of Chinese Food and cake with my mom, my older brothers, my sister-in-law and my niece! Then it’s nothing but sleep, catching up on e-mails, touching up my hair on Saturday- and heading to Salem on Sunday for my friend Phill’s annual ‘Royal Rumble’ party. Always such a good time.

The past few days have been a lot of fun- with the exception of a crazy snowstorm, single digit temperatures and a lot of rain. My actual birthday was a really relaxing affair- mainly because after I had left my office for the day- Troy treated me to dinner and a “Spa Night” at East Heaven in Northampton. I got to completely unwind during a soak in an outdoor hot tub (and despite the cold weather- it wasn’t bad at all) and an hour long massage. Absolute bliss!

He’s a gem.

My co-workers surprised me with a dozen of my favorite doughnuts, my best friend surprised me with a pink frosted cake (pictured above) and other friends loaded me up with carbs earlier this week during a surprise luncheon. If people thought the holidays were the time of year where everyone threw their diets out the window- they haven’t seen anything yet!

With January winding down next week (already?!)– I’m in the process of putting together my favorite things from this month to share next week, as well as writing up a summary of the beginning of the year for my “In a Nutshell” post that should be up next Thursday. I’ve also got a Super Bowl to prepare for following that absolutely INSANE Patriots/Chiefs game this past Sunday- so expect some fun, party-friendly recipes in the coming days.

I want to thank everyone again who texted, called, e-mailed, or dropped me a line on social media for my birthday! I know Tuesdays are pretty much the worst day of the week by default- but my birthday was still wonderful and I’m very appreciative of all the love and warm wishes!

By the way- there’s still time to enter my birthday giveaway!

Enjoy your weekend, everyone! I’ll see you all next week!

xx

– Ashley –

Ahoy, Mateys!

When it comes to theater and the arts- I wouldn’t exactly call myself a refined, sophisticated know-it-all- and I like what I like without apology. I was a trained ballet dancer through my teens and a Fine Arts major in NYC for all of thirty seconds in my early twenties before I made the switch to wide-eyed traveler, tenacious law student and tireless writer. But my interest in performances and painting never waned.

I like immersive theater the best- and anything dark, broody or supernatural and spooky is right up my alley given my self-proclaimed “Halloween Queen” title- but sometimes family-friendly and downright silly can be an unexpected delight that I treat myself to from time to time. When that type of theater happens to take place right in the heart of Western Massachusetts- an area I frequent often and truly enjoy spending time in- it’s even better.

My first introduction to Paintbox Theater was in the Summer of 2014 after a return trip from San Diego Comic-Con (speaking of- I hope everyone attending this week has a great time and uploads an obscene amount of photos so I can keep up!) My longtime friend, Troy- an actor with an almost intimidating resume and now company manager at Paintbox- had picked me up at the airport and invited me to come along to a rehearsal so I could see firsthand what it is that they do.

He was also borrowing my car that week- which I’m sure impacted his decision to invite me to some degree- but that’s neither here nor there.

Paintbox- founded by Tom McCabe, a celebrated storyteller (who also serves as a writer and director of the company’s productions)– puts on three shows every Summer that not only interact heavily with it’s teeny-tiny audience members- but simultaneously encourages literacy, kindness, and friendship with each performance. All the things this world so desperately needs right now, really.

They do this by incorporating audience participation and allowing children to add their own artwork to the set- drawings that are shown via a projection screen over the stage that are used to depict scenery, characters, points in the story, etc. It’s a nice and adorable way for kids to feel like they’re *in* on the play and included in the shenanigans and sometimes absolute pandemonium (in a controlled, safe way of course) happening with the actors onstage.

And if you’re worried that there isn’t anything to keep the adults entertained during all of this- think again. Some of the jokes, which are subtle enough to go way above a toddler’s head- are pretty perfect for any parent or grown-up patron who needs a good chuckle.

I was completely moved by the company’s efforts to reach and entertain children back in 2014- and have popped by performances now and then through the years to say hello. Now, in it’s celebratory 15th season- Paintbox is getting ready for their second show of the Summer: “Pirates!” and since I’m always looking to share fun things to do around New England- I thought this would be perfect for those of you reading this (with or without younger ones) who might want to travel to one of the more beautiful areas of Massachusetts and catch a show while supporting a great group of hardworking people.

I, myself, have been a proud supporter of Paintbox for years now- and think you’d all enjoy it!

Saturday- July 21, 2018 @ 10:30 AM & 1:00 PM – Sunday- July 22, 2018 @ 10:30 AM

Williston Theater @ 18 Payson Ave, Easthampton, MA. 01027

(the Sunday show will immediately be followed by a 2nd annual “Pirate Day” with games and activities.)

Wednesday- July 25, 2018 @ 10:30 AM (Rain Date: Thursday, July 26, 2018 @ 10:30 AM)

Millside Park @ 2 Ferry Street along the Manhan Rail Trail

Tickets can be purchased at the website linked above, or by CLICKING HERE.

Enjoy your Wednesday, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –