Pre-Thanksgiving Thanks…

Good Morning and Happy Tuesday, everyone!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around my neighborhood- with decorations and lights going up in all the storefronts and the common at breakneck speed. I believe there’s more than one tree lighting ceremony being kicked off this coming weekend around the Valley- whereas I’m still shopping for my own little tree to commemorate my first Christmas in my new apartment. I haven’t found the perfect one yet- but there’s still time and I’m getting closer, I think!

Of course, Thanksgiving is going down in a couple of days- and I’ll be packing up the apple dumplings I recently picked up at Red Apple Farm and the salted chocolate pie I pre-ordered from Florence Pie Bar before I head over to my mom’s house to mingle and eat- but I have my monthly “Favorites” post lined up in the morning, too! It’s a short but sweet one!

I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude and what I’m thankful for this year. My friends and family, of course- it goes without saying- and as crazy as my full-time job can make me at times, I’m thankful I’m gainfully employed since I know so many others are out there struggling to find steady work/income right now. I’m thankful to Indie617 for giving me a show on Saturdays and allowing me to grow and learn in a field outside what I’m normally used to- and have an immense amount of fun while I do it.

I’m grateful for my health, my beautiful apartment, my kindhearted and artistic community for welcoming me with open arms- and the deepening friendships/relationships I’ve forged since moving out here.

I’m also beyond thankful for the time I’ve been able to spend with someone near and dear to me. He’s moving for a job opportunity in early 2020 and I’m going to miss him very, very much- but I’m so grateful he’s been such a major part of my life for so long and that we’ve been able to make such wonderful memories together this past year.

I’m especially grateful to this blog and it’s followers/subscribers- who have made 2019 one of my most productive and successful to date. There’s big changes coming to “Blondie Birdie” in early 2020 that I’m excited to share- and I hope you’ll all be excited, too!

But before I get ready to get some pre-holiday work done at my office- here’s some helpful links for those of you who might need a little backup as the day of unapologetic gluttony and super comfy elastic-waist pants draws closer and closer!

Need a last minute recipe? I got you!

Need some holiday outfit inspiration? I got you there, too!

Need a soundtrack for dinner? Oh, you know I got you!

Enjoy the rest of your day, everybody!

xx

– Ashley –

Getting Spooky…

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! Another work week is done and in the books!

I had wanted to share photos of the absolutely gorgeous foliage we have going on here in Western Massachusetts with all of you this morning- but as most of you know- sometimes life and other obligations come up unexpectedly and plans can change at the last minute.

It’s been a very busy week for me- both at work and outside of the office where I’ve been coordinating upcoming events and social gatherings with friends and family. October is usually a pretty packed month for me anyway- and this year is no different!

This weekend marks my annual trip to Rock and Shock in my hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts- where I’ll spend a day celebrating all things horror movies and Halloween. And then on Tuesday through Wednesday- I’m coming back to Boston to catch a show from Bon Iver at TD Garden and spend some time in the city I love and miss very, very much!

But needless to say, my days post-work have consisted of a lot of planning and a little packing for my upcoming mini road trips and overnight stays. It’s left little time to go out and photograph the changing season properly!

Despite my hectic schedule as of late- I intend on snapping plenty of photos over the next few days and getting them up here on Blondie Birdie ASAP. I’ll also be stopping by some of those creepy, spooky, possibly haunted locations around New England I’ve been talking about to share here on the blog and on social media, as well- and, of course- I’m going to start preparing my Halloween costumes! Yes, costumes. Plural. I never do just one!

In the interim, if you’re looking for some content to keep you busy until I’m back on Monday morning- you can check out the following recommended links!

But that just about does it for me for today, everyone! I’ve got lots to do before I leave work for the day and officially begin my Saturday/Sunday commitments!

Have a great weekend, y’all! Stay safe and be kind out there!

xx

– Ashley –

August 2019: In a Nutshell

Good Morning and Happy Saturday, everyone!

I’m writing this from the comfort of bed, coffee in hand- although it’s not a pumpkin spice latte (yet. That tradition begins bright and early tomorrow morning!) and reflecting on this past August and the Summer 2019 overall, really.

Typically I make lengthy and wild “Bucket Lists” for every season- jotting down places I want to visit, things I want to do and see, food I want to cook/eat, etc. The beauty of living in New England is that with the seasons being so vastly different from one another- there’s many unique experiences to be had. It’s part of the reason I find the idea of leaving permanently so unfathomable.

Until the dead of Winter, anyway- then I’d rather be anywhere *but* here!

Usually I accomplish nearly everything on my bucket lists- however Summer 2019 was the first time in a long time that I felt I had barely scratched the surface. It didn’t feel like failure, or disappointment- but it did leave me asking myself “what happened?”

And the answer is easier to find than you’d think. Summer 2019 was the first one in my new apartment and neighborhood- which meant a lot of my day off activities were spent locally and not out by the ocean, traveling to opposite coasts, etc. I made new friends and went to community potlucks, saw shows in the next town over, soaked up the sun by a local lake, so on and so forth.

I was also working three jobs this past Summer- my full-time office job, my Saturdays with Indie617, and frantic and busy afternoons/evenings with PaintBox Theatre– which wrapped up for the season just a couple of weeks ago and freed up some of my time.

It was definitely Summer- just a new and different kind- which is a bit exciting in itself!

So in Summer 2020, while I’ll definitely have things on my bucket list as usual- I fully plan on practicing better time management and incorporating all the hidden gems within the Pioneer Valley during the hottest season of the year, too!

I’m excited for the Fall- the usual things I always make a point to do like apple picking, pumpkin carving, etc.- and the newer experiences I’ve already planned out here in Western Massachusetts (the foliage is going to look amazing and I cannot wait!)

But first I want to bid farewell to August 2019- a month that saw plenty of travel, time with cherished people in my life, growth and change personally and professionally. It started like a firecracker- with my first trip to MASS MoCA to see Maggie Rogers perform, The journey there inspired a separate visit to the Mohawk Trail just a few days later during some time off I had taken from work.

August saw me straddle the Massachusetts and New York state lines with help from Troy during a surprise trip to Bash Bish Falls– which was one of the most amazing days I’ve had in recent memory. I also celebrated the annual passage of Summer Slam with friends in Salem and mini-golfed for the first time since I was a kid (and lost, but that’s besides the point.)

And with so many changes in my location, career opportunities, etc. I figured I could change my appearance a bit, too- and returned to my brunette roots with help from an incredible stylist. Chocolate-hued hair seems fitting for the Fall- and I wanted to get the jump on it.

So what’s in store for September? A lot of early-Autumn fun- including Hampton Beach’s annual Seafood Festival, The Big E, local Harvest Fairs (I’m stopping by one tomorrow!) and the usual assortment of recipes and peeks inside my closet. My Fall wardrobe is shaping up to be amazing- and I can’t wait to show some of it off!

So expect my Instagram feed to be loaded with pictures of apple cider doughnuts, pumpkin-everything, and leaves, leaves, leaves!

But until then- here’s to August 2019- a busy month that was filled with fun, new adventures, lots of changes- and hope for the weeks ahead! With Monday being a holiday- my posting schedule will be Tuesday and Thursday next week before I return to the normal schedule the week after. I’ll have lots to talk about!

Enjoy the rest of your long weekend, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –Β 

Brunette Birdie?

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it yet again!

It’s funny and fascinating what changes in your life- big or small- can do to you. They can completely turn your world upside down, or have you re-examining and reevaluating your priorities and your goals- or rejuvenate you, refresh you and set you on a new path you may not have even known existed.

There have been a lot of changes in my life in recent months. A new apartment, a new community, new neighbors and friends. There have been changes in my job(s), changes in my personal relationships- and I’ve been attempting to navigate those changes as gracefully as possible while simultaneously reassessing so many of my wants/needs and clumsily preparing for whatever is going to happen next.

Not all of the changes have been good ones. Some have been heartbreaking. Some have been infuriating- but they’ve all shaped the person I am becoming in this new chapter of my life. It’s a scary thing sometimes, but it’s also exciting in a way- because I’m learning so much about myself, what’s truly important to me, and my resilience in the face of the unknown and uncertain.

And lifestyle/personal changes affect you physically, too. While the first month or so after my move was sluggish and had me feeling tired with daily commutes to work, waiting for the arrival of much-needed furniture, not exactly eating or sleeping the best due to long hours- I’ve since got a handle on things and have been actively and regularly working out, preparing better-for-me-meals and sleeping through the night undisturbed (especially now that I’m no longer living near the city!)

And this past Wednesday, when it came time for me to update my blonde curls yet again with help from my stylist- I decided to go bold, try something new- and ditch the golden hues for a more chocolate-inspired look, instead.

That’s right- I’m a brunette again!

I’m still getting used to the new look, which has been well-received by friends, family and co-workers- and it feels like a fitting way to wrap up Summer 2019 and prepare for impending Autumn and the next chapter of my life I’m preparing to write.

And no, I will not be changing the title of my blog from “Blondie Birdie” to “Brunette Birdie” or any variation anytime soon. I’ve grown quite accustomed to my nickname and my little corner of the internet- and I intend to stay here!

Next week I’m going to be visiting one of my favorite coastal towns here in New England, sharing my favorite things from this past month- and getting ready to leap into September after taking a look back at all the highs and lows of August!

Until then- enjoy your weekend, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

July 2019: In a Nutshell

Good Afternoon and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

While posting this late in the day always makes me feel a bit unproductive- I’ve actually been anything but. I’ve been working from home since 7:30 this morning after a super fun (but super late) night out last night. I’ve been running on fumes but getting SO much done today!

Not bad for someone who hasn’t even had coffee or a shower yet, right? Gross, I know- but that’s next on my “To Do” list for today.

Speaking of “To Do” lists- my Summer 2019 Bucket List is still chock full of things I want to accomplish in these final hazy, humid August weeks ahead before September and Fall creep up on us as they always do. Autumn may be my favorite season, but that’s not to say I don’t love the Summertime, too!

With tomorrow marking the first day of a new month, it’s that time where I look back on the last few weeks and recap the highs and lows of the month that was- and July was full of them.

I started the month by meeting my neighbors and making new friends at a community potluck for the 4th of July– and cooling off at what has quickly become one of my favorite spots in the Valley after I was introduced to it by a friend last Summer while I was visiting the area. I’ve returned to Ashfield Lake multiple times this month- especially when New England was being gripped day after day by heatwaves and scorching temperatures.

I also began to further plant some roots in my community as I embraced and attended the Green River Festival– which takes place a short walking distance (and drive) away from my apartment. Although I had only gone for the day- I had a wonderful time in the sunshine listening to music, eating fun food and buying cute clothes.

Of course, July isn’t without sad memories and reflection. This past month marked seven long years since my father passed away, and I opened up to pen a tell-all about the aftermath, the trauma, and the recovery with losing someone you’re close with so abruptly.

Additionally, work was difficult this month- both at my full-time job where tensions are running higher than the temperatures outside between co-workers, supervisors and at times- myself- but also within the Pioneer Valley theater community where I am preparing to ride out the last few shows of my contracted season while simultaneously juggling a plethora of other responsibilities.

And to top it all off- I got an insane flu during what have been the hottest days of the year to date. I was miserable- but thankfully was able to bounce back without a trip to the ER.

All in all? July left me TIRED, y’all!

But August is just a few hours away, and I’ve edited/re-tweaked my Summer Bucket List to better balance with my still hectic schedule. There’s a lot of fun things I’m determined to do/see and I’m excited to finally get around to it- starting this coming weekend- and of course I’ll take plenty of pictures along the way!

So although July was an emotional, physical, and mental roller coaster at times- it wasn’t all bad. It had it’s wonderful moments between sticky days, sweaty nights, sunburns and sneezing fits. I’ll cheers to the good times, for sure!

But I’m also going to toast to August- a new month filled with new possibilities that I hope is good to us all and doesn’t require nearly as much air conditioning to feel comfortable as July did.

And If you’re in need of some late Summer assistance- don’t forget to:

GIVE MY SUMMER 2019 PLAYLIST A LISTEN!

TRY SOME OF MY RECENT SUMMER-INSPIRED RECIPES!

And also go see a movie because there’s so many good things playing right now. Popcorn AND A/C? Yes please!

I’ll be back on Friday with a look at last night’s shenanigans. Enjoy your “Hump Day”, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –