June 2019: In a Nutshell

Good Morning and Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope you’re all having a great weekend so far!

It’s always a little weird posting on a weekend- especially a Sunday- since mornings like this are usually reserved for coffee, laundry, and trying to squeeze something fun or entertaining to do in the hours between now and when I return to work bright and early tomorrow morning. But. it’s the last day of June- and a day like that needs some acknowledgment!

I will say that I am excited to head into July. It’s the height of Summer, I’ve got some vacation days coming up- and now that I’ve got the last of my furniture in my apartment and am feeling a little more “at home”- I can cook, decorate, and blog more freely and comfortably than I could a few weeks ago when I didn’t really have much more than a mattress and a desk while I was waiting for the things I’d purchased on back order to arrive and be delivered.

It’s nice to finally and really have my own little piece of the Pioneer Valley to come home to every day.

Looking back at June- a month that has, historically, always had it’s share of troubles and woes for me over the years and for whatever reason- can be a bit difficult at times. Is Mercury in retrograde? Are my brief moments of stress, inconvenience, and/or sadness some sort of annual sacrifice for the Summer Solstice? Am I just consistently unlucky for this one month every year?

I’ll never know- but June saw my full-time job become overwhelming at times, one of my part-time jobs here in the Valley become absolutely chaotic with last-minute changes, departures, and poor preparation leading up to major deadlines and milestones- and one of my dearest friends fall victim to a malicious rumor and subsequent gossip that has essentially robbed him of his livelihood and joy as he struggles to overcome it and get back on his feet.

It was, well- a LOT– to deal with these past few weeks. But, the month also flew by relatively quickly so at least it was quick? Silver linings?

I digress. June wasn’t without it’s nicer, calmer moments as well. I spent a really beautiful weekend showing my best friend around when he came to visit me, my blog celebrated it’s second birthday, I dove headfirst into one of my favorite immersive theater companies and experiencesand naturally I got to eat at some really, really terrific Summer shacks in the area, too!

So what’s in store for July? Well, my usual recipes and OOTD posts, of course- but I’m also going to be doing a little bit of traveling in the coming weeks, as well! Not anywhere super far away or anything- but I’ll be crossing more things off of my “Summer 2019 To-Do” list with trips to my favorite beaches, outdoor attractions, local hot-spots, etc.

And I’ll have plenty of photos and updates along the way, of course!

So all that being said- here’s to June- a month that was not without it’s ups and downs. I truly hope all of us who need it have a better July!

I’m off to get a few things done and set off into this hot and humid day. See you all again tomorrow!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

xx

– Ashley –

Making a House a Home…

Good Morning- Happy Friday- and Happy First Day of Summer, everyone!

While I was in a full-Summer state of mind weeks ago when the temperatures first began soaring and I started wearing shorts outdoors on the weekends- I actually haven’t participated in any of the usual early Summer activities I’m typically diving into by now. There have been no beach trips, no lobster rolls, and no poolside hangouts- although there has admittedly been more than one ice cream cone in recent days.

A lot of my time, when not working- has been getting situated in my new apartment- where I’ve officially been for a month now! I’m still finding places for my things, still exploring my neighborhood and surrounding communities- and up until this this past Wednesday- I was still waiting on the last of my furniture to arrive. That’s not to say I didn’t make do without a bed frame. I’ve never been one to be too high maintenance to sleep on a mattress on the floor for an unknown length of time, after all- but this apartment never really felt like “home” until I had an actual bed and a couch in it. Now it feels more like “mine”- and I’m absolutely loving it.

There’s still a lot to do, of course. I need to get my TV mounted, actually decorate a little and organize my things- but I’m a lot more comfortable and cozy here and excited to see how my space develops over the next few weeks/months.

I digress, the point of this was also to say that now that it’s *officially* Summer and my life has a bit more stability in it- I can get started on catching up on that list of things I’m typically doing this time of year! The first thing is absolutely going to be eating a lobster roll, by the way.

Although prior to the arrival of my furniture on Wednesday-  I did have an opportunity to drive one town over to a little farm in the area where people could pick their own strawberries. I’d never done that before, but let me tell you- it was FUN– and I got some really, really good pickings!

So, so delicious!

This weekend I’ll be on indie617 from 12-4 (Saturday) and then I may catch a performance in Turner’s Falls Saturday night. Then on Sunday, with lobster roll in hand- I might venture out to explore MASS MoCA for the first time. Or, if it’s hot enough- take a dip in one of the local lakes or rivers around here!

Regardless of where I end up and what I end up doing- you can count on plenty of photos on my INSTAGRAM and here on the blog when I return on Monday morning!

Enjoy that Summer Solstice, everyone- and the weekend ahead! See you all next week!

xx

– Ashley –

Father’s Day in Hampshire County…

Good Morning and Happy Monday (yuck…) everyone!

While I had absolutely *grand* plans for this past weekend in anticipation of lots of sunshine and soaring temperatures- Mother Nature threw all of us here in the Valley a curveball and turned a beautiful and breezy Saturday afternoon/evening into a positively chilly and rain-filled Sunday. It wasn’t just an occasional shower or sprinkle, either- but big, fat cold droplets that seemed to last all day.

My scheduled strawberry picking at a local farm and an outdoor brunch unfortunately had to be rescheduled for a later date this week/month- but I did my best to make do with my afternoon after I finished some early morning errands.

Of course, yesterday was Father’s Day- which is always a rough day for me to get through ever since my dad passed away unexpectedly in the Summer of 2012. I’m usually able to distract myself or keep myself occupied so that I don’t feel too sad- and living in a new area where I’m still getting acclimated and familiarized is definitely a BIG distraction these days. I took the opportunity to drive a little further West than where I presently live to do some exploring and try to find a Father’s Day present for my mom.

To explain: After my dad died- my mother and I made a pact that for every Father’s Day and for what would have been her and my dad’s wedding anniversary- we’d celebrate it together. This could mean having dinner together, buying each other little gifts/cards, etc. We have a family dinner scheduled later on this week, of course- but I wanted to get her something special, too.

My mom loves anything Americana or kitschy, farm-related things- so my living in the Valley is a dream come true for her because I’m essentially surrounded by that stuff on all sides. As I was passing through Williamsburg yesterday- a charming little town Northwest of Florence- I spotted the Williamsburg General Store and knew I’d find something perfect for her there.

Sure enough- I came across this bumble bee watering can and immediately thought of my mom- who spends a lot of time outside tending to her yard and would probably use this for it’s intended purpose AND for decoration.

I’m excited to see her reaction when she opens it. I think it’s adorable- and don’t worry, she doesn’t go online much so unless someone shows this post to her before I visit her later on this week- my posting about it isn’t going to spoil the surprise!

I’ve actually got a short work-week this week, having taken Wednesday off to be present when the last of the furniture I ordered arrives and is finally delivered to my apartment. So, as much as I don’t want to be at work right now- at least I’m not technically here a full week.

But I’ve still got lots to do this morning- so this just about does it for me today!

Enjoy the start of your week, everyone. Let’s push through to Friday together!

xx

– Ashley –

Blondie Birdie Turns 2!

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

Although it’s never fun to return to work after the weekend- especially this past one where the weather was perfect and I had a lot of fun- I’m excited to get back into my office and push through this week as quickly as possible so we can get to Friday again!

This past weekend, which I’ll recap a little later on in the week- was also a commemorative one as it marked “Blondie Birdie’s” second birthday/anniversary/blog-iversary/etc! I started writing this little corner of the web two years ago on 6/9/17- and while some of my content has changed over the years (I no longer review subscription boxes, for example-) much of it has stayed the same in terms of delicious recipes, peeks inside my closet at my more fun wardrobe staples, and lots and lots of pictures from around where I live and when I travel!

It’s been a wild two years filled with adventures, surprises, eye-opening moments, self-discovery, major life changes, friends and family and so much more- and I’m so honored and thrilled to have so many of you along for the ride. I hope reading “Blondie Birdie” makes each of you as happy and eager to travel/cook/try new things as it does for me when I’m writing it- and I hope to give you all another two years (and many more after that!) or quality posts I take pride in publishing.

Of course, no birthday can go noticed/acknowledged without a little bit of site maintenance. I’ve updated my ABOUT ME and CONTACT pages to reflect more accurate and up-to-date information- and I’ve gone through to make sure there are no broken links/images in posts from the pasts. A daunting task, for sure- but a fun little stroll down memory lane regardless!

I’ll also be making some changes to the design/layout of the blog over the next several days- which I’m excited to see rolled out in completion as the preliminary testing is wrapped up!

And while last year’s 1-year anniversary saw a fun, Summertime-themed giveaway up and running- I’ve opted to wait until the Fall (my favorite season!) to put together something really, really special for you all that you can enter to win. I want to make sure it’s perfect and truly represents me and the person I’ve become over these last two years- and so far I think it may be one of my best giveaways yet. Be sure to keep an eye out in the coming months for more information!

All in all I’m really proud and grateful for these last two years and the progress I’ve made personally, professionally, and in terms of the quality of Blondie Birdie. I’m excited for the future- but if you’d like to peek at the past as I’ve been doing- here’s a handy link to some of my most popular tags:

* RECIPES *

* OOTD *

* TRAVEL *

* BEAUTY *

I’m off to get started on my e-mails, voicemails, etc. I’m going to be back a little later on this week with a look at my weekend and have a super easy, super refreshing Summertime recipe to share now that the temperatures are starting to rise again!

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful start to your week and a peaceful few days ahead! Thank you all again so, so much for continuing to support Blondie Birdie and yours truly. It means the world!

xx

– Ashley –

The “Halfway” Check-In!

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I had a wonderful couple of days that were spent both within Boston where I hosted my 12-4 Saturday show on Indie617– but also out in the Pioneer Valley with my best friend who came to visit through yesterday afternoon. The weather held up nicely until a series of thunderstorms rolled through last night- so I made sure to take him to a couple of great outdoor locations so he could drink in the scenery and the atmosphere.

A full recap of the adventures (with photos) will be up on Wednesday!

Before that, though- early June is typically when I like to “check in” on myself and note my progress since New Year’s Eve. The official start of Summer is just around the corner, 2019 is halfway over- and now seems like just a good time as any to reassess the goals/aspirations I laid out for myself back at the very end of December. I like to take pride in myself on anything I accomplished- and push myself a little harder on the things that I haven’t yet!

I copied my 2019 Resolutions list from my “In a Nutshell: 2019” post from December 31, 2018. Let’s take a look:

Get Healthier/Get Into Better Shape: As someone who loves food and enjoys a good “veg-out” session on the couch while I binge-watch Netflix and Hulu series- this one was admittedly a little harder to get into the swing of after the start of the year. But, now that I’m living in my own place and within a community that both values and encourages wellness, staying healthy and being active- it’s been a lot easier for me to find the time and motivation to make smarter choices about what I’m eating and to exercise regularly.

And honestly- with the views I’ve found in and around the Pioneer Valley since moving here- exercising outdoors is *SO* much more enjoyable!

Stop Putting Up With Bullshit – And Command Respect: I had started the momentum on this resolution near the end of 2018 after a disastrous trip to San Diego in the Fall and and on/off/on again relationship that left me more drained than happy. I began cutting people out of my life who were detrimental to me, my emotional/mental well-being and who were holding me back from achieving my goals- and I didn’t look back.

I’m happy to report that six months later, I’ve surrounded myself with truly wonderful friends I can count on and a guy I might not always see eye to eye with- but whom I’ve built a strong and trusting friendship and connection with and who I care for very deeply. The people who had hurt me, dragged me down, or tried to take advantage of me have all but faded into obscurity and it’s a huge weight off of my shoulders.

Hit Up Some of The Places on My Bucket List: I admit that this resolution is not one I’ve particularly accomplished or have been actively working towards. It’s been placed on the back burner, what with my recent move and everything- however I *have* been able to do some traveling to places like New York and most recently- Las Vegas and San Diego.

I’ve still got another few months to take that unexpected and impromptu trip to New Orleans or Memphis- so here’s hoping I’m able to pull it off!

Get Back Into the Arts: I’ve achieved this goal with a very enthusiastic “oh hell yes!” Between my work with Indie617 and PaintBox Theatre here in the Valley- I have been fully immersed in art, theater, music, creativity and self-expression. It’s been such a beautiful and inspirational journey and I find myself wanting to create my own work more and more with each passing day!

I’m sure living in such a diverse and creative atmosphere will keep me going strong with this resolution, too!

___________________________________________

Obviously, I still have some work to do to reach all of my goals- but I’m really happy with my progress so far. Between some of the completed/near completed resolutions and moving into a beautiful new apartment within this first half of the year- 2019 has been the year of big dreams and even bigger changes these past few months!

Additionally, I like to use the first few days of June for some serious self-care and reorganization. I scrub and dust my living space from top to bottom, make sure everything is spotless and fresh- indulge in a deeply moisturizing hair or face mask (or both if I’ve got the time!) and do some major clean-out of my email and social media inboxes.

I’ve found that with unsubscribing or blocking gratuitous e-mails from companies I had purchased something from months and months ago (and who have been contacting me non-stop ever since. Looking at you- Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret!) as they show up in my inbox- I feel so much better and less anxious whenever I check my e-mail because I can get right to the important stuff I *want* to read without having to worry that it was buried amid the coupon codes, advertisements for new merchandise, etc.

Overall, June is a month of self-reflection, self-improvement, and self-care- be it revisiting goals for the year, getting organized, or simply deleting a bunch of emails to de-clutter your inbox. Whatever and however you choose to “check in’ with yourself halfway through the year is completely up to you- and now is the time to do it so you’ll have more space in your schedule for fun Summertime activities!

And now that just about does it for me today, guys. I’m off to work!

Here’s wishing us ALL a safe, stress-free and laid-back Monday. To the work week ahead!

xx

– Ashley –