Reader’s Choice 2019!

Good Morning and Happy Thursday, everyone!

As we ready ourselves for Friday and the weekend- I wanted to take a moment to talk about some super fun developments with the family theater company I’m involved in- and ask for your help (and it’ll only take 2 minutes of your time- I promise!)

As some of you (most of you?) know- I signed on earlier this year to work with my friends at PaintBox Theatre based out of the Pioneer Valley. I’m their current marketing and publicity director, and even though the season doesn’t officially kick off until the end of June- it’s been a really fun journey so far!

A little background information on PaintBox: they are a family theater company, gearing up for their 16th (!!!) season. They take beloved children’s’ stories and give them an updated, modern twist on stage with enough subtle humor to keep the adults laughing, as well- all while encouraging literacy, self-expression, creativity, inclusiveness, kindness and play. The costumes and props are easy to replicate and made with simple materials- so children can utilize things they have at home while letting their imaginations take care of the rest.

And all of this is done with a talented cast, a dedicated crew- and the love and support of our community and sponsors who keep us going!

All that being said, we’ve been nominated for “Best Summer Theater” in the Daily Hampshire Gazette– an honor we won last year and a title we hope to hold onto this year, as well!

Voting takes- legitimately– a minute, and it would mean the world to me, the company and everyone PaintBox has made smile over the years if you could take the time to vote for us. Our category is under “Arts & Entertainment.”

CLICK HERE TO VOTE

If you did- thank you so, so, SO much!

And if not, the voting is open until 5/19/19 at 5 PM (EST.) Please consider helping out!

And of course, if you’d like to learn more about the company and our impending Summer season- please feel free to visit our website (linked above) or our social media accounts (you’ll see my designs on each!) It’s going to be a wonderful season of really great shows the whole family can enjoy!

I’m off to work for the day, and then keeping busy tomorrow through the weekend. I’m going to be back on Monday when the posting schedule returns to normal- and right before I leave for my trip to the West Coast!

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful rest of your week and a warm, safe, fun weekend!

xx

– Ashley –

April 2019: In a Nutshell

Good Morning and Happy Tuesday, everyone!

I had mentioned last Friday that the posting schedule would be a short one this week- mostly due to the way the end of the month fell and my other obligations over the next few days as I prepare for my West Coast vacation and my move (!!!)

April has been insanely busy, surprising and filled with new and exciting changes from start to finish- a theme I foresee carrying over into May and possibly June, as well. The biggest news of all, of course- is that I’ll be moving from the city and out to the Pioneer Valley (and into a lovely loft) within a couple of weeks after quietly and discreetly looking around the area and coordinating the arrangements before I finally got to make the big announcement recently when I’d signed my lease agreement and it was official!

I’m so excited to share my new neighborhood, community and discoveries/explorations as I adapt to life in an absolutely beautiful, picturesque area of the state! I recently shared one of my favorite places (so far!) during one of my last trips out to the soon-to-be-apartment- The Montague Bookmill!

There have been some changes at my full-time job, as well- including a new office space after there was a readjustment and realignment within the company that left some of my co-workers in different departments. I am, admittedly, still adjusting to those changes since I’m now working with an entirely different team that I’m still getting to know over these past couple of weeks- but so far, so good!

As always, I spent time with friends- including ones visiting from out of state and ones that just moved a little further away- and my family, as well. Easter was particularly fun and laid back– and despite all the changes I’ve been adapting to- of course I still had time to talk about the most recent season of “The Walking Dead.” Priorities!

So, with April packaged up nicely with a bow- what’s in store for May? The move, obviously- but next week I venture out to fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada (with a quick pit stop in San Diego, California) to spend some long overdue time with my West Coast Wife and her daughter. I’ve also got some fun Memorial Day Weekend plans lined up- as well as my usual assortment of recipes, OOTD/Fashion posts and recaps of nights out in and around the area.

I’m so excited for the coming weeks and hope you’ll all join me here and on my social media as I share my journey(s). April was a great month for making big decisions and taking huge steps towards goals and opportunities- and I’m sorry it has to end so soon!

I’m off to work for the day, but I’ll be back on Thursday with some updates from the family theater company I’ve been working with, as well as some odds and ends before the posting schedule returns to normal next week.

Here’s wishing you all a great day!

xx

– Ashley –

Rainy Days and Book Stores…

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

When I had initially announced my impending move to the Pioneer Valley earlier this month, I had mentioned that I wanted to highlight some of my favorite places to pass the time out that way. For any of you who have followed this blog or it’s past incarnations- you probably know that I predominantly write about restaurants/bars/shops/attractions in the Boston area or around my hometown in Central Massachusetts.

Being out in Western Massachusetts, close to the Berkshires, and truly in one of the most beautiful, clean, environmentally conscious and artistic parts of New England opens the doors for me to discover and share so many new people, places and things will all of you- and I knew right away that an old favorite (but a goody!) would be first on my list to reacquaint myself with.

The Montague Book Mill, which is a used book store, art gallery and restaurant(s) within an old mill from the mid-1800s- is one of my favorite places to go, curl up by the window with a good read, sip a cup of tea and just relax/zone out for a couple of hours while I listen to the nearby Sawmill River flow past.

I’m never the only one with this idea, and the Mill have utilized a lot of their nooks and crannies by turning them into quiet, peaceful places for those looking to work/study without interruption and in a unique location.

I haven’t been in a few years- but made it a point to stop by on Monday during my day off while the rain was falling outside. As always, I ended up exploring and snapping some photos!

To see the enlarged version, just click the picture!

Before I left to head back home, I popped into The Lady Killigrew Cafe for an early dinner (their brie, apricot jam and marinated apples sandwich rules!) and a quick cup of coffee. How I’ve missed that place. I promised myself I wouldn’t wait another 2-3 years before I went back again- and now that I’ll be living less than 30 minutes away- it’s a promise I can keep!

I’ll be back in the area tonight after work to meet up with Troy for dinner and drinks- and will more than likely make another appearance over the weekend since I’m on the prowl for new furniture.

Until then, though- it’s all about getting things done at my office and getting some caffeine in me as soon as possible!

Enjoy your “Hump Day”, everyone! See you all again on Friday!

xx

– Ashley –

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 –