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 –

Favorites: January 2019!

Good Morning and Happy Tuesday, everyone!

I know it’s early on in the week- but I hope it’s going well for you all so far! I’ve been working (of course) and enjoying a couple of warmer-than-expected days with friends in the outdoors- but February is just a few days away and it’s time for me to compile the things, products, odds and ends that I absolutely adored and was otherwise obsessed with this past month!

It’s a new year- and I’ve got some new followers- so I’ll just give a quick explanation. At the end of every month- I always, without fail- share two posts. One, which falls on the very last day of the month- is a recap of the previous days/weeks. The highs and lows, miscellaneous adventures and photos that didn’t quite fit in with any of my other scheduled content, etc. That post (which will be up this Thursday!) is my “In a Nutshell” post.

Before that, though- I photograph and do a little write-up of all the things I bought, found, was gifted, discovered, etc. that made the month all the more sensational. That would be this post you’re reading right now- and it’s my “Favorites” of January 2019!

But perhaps just simply showing you all the things I loved this month would be a little easier than trying to explain the process. So, without further delay…

First things, first- 2019 is all about keeping organized- and I turn to this lovely little teal and gold sparkly weekly planner from Orange Circle Studio! I write everything in here- my appointments, due dates for bills, meetings, scheduled blog content, plans with friends/family, and goals for each month.

This planner is the perfect size where it fits right into my purse- which means I can take it with me wherever I go in case anything comes up while I’m on the road- and the bright colors and shimmer stand out if I have it on my desk and need to find it in a flash. It definitely doesn’t get lost in the shuffle!

Speaking of staying organized- now that I’m working with my favorite theater company in the Pioneer Valley- there’s a lot of meetings and lot of information I need to keep track of! Not wanting to carry around a flimsy notepad or cover my space with post-it notes- I treated myself to this faux-leather bound Kate Spade notepad and binder.

The motto on the front, “Let’s Talk Shop”- is a nice touch that *I* think makes me look like I’m all business.

I mean, it does- right?

The lining in my wallet I’ve had for a few years now was finally starting to tear/shred and fray- and I decided that for the new year I’d treat myself to a new one. I am absolutely, head-over-heels in love with this New England Harbors-themed one from Spartina 449. It’s like a cute map of home and reminds me of some of my favorite places here in New England no matter where I travel.

The wallet has a ton of space, too- and it holds all of my cards, money, ID, etc. and then some. It’s definitely a welcomed upgrade!

As a belated-Christmas/early-Birthday present this year, my cousin Paige surprised me with this portrait of Oliver- done by the tremendously talented Tami Draws Stuff. It’s so accurate and so adorable and is presently hanging in my office next to an actual photograph of Oliver.

My co-workers absolutely love it. I linked to Tami’s Etsy shop above, so if you or someone you know has a fur-baby you’d like to get a personalized portrait of- either for yourself or as a gift- definitely check her out! Her work is really impressive and oh so cute!

Another Christmas present that I’ve been using pretty much non-stop lately is this gray/black pom-topped beanie from Crane Clothing Company my sister-in-law had given me. I have a collection of beanies (I do live in New England, after all-) but not too many of them have the poms on them so this is such a fun addition to my assortment and one that matches pretty much everything in my Winter wardrobe.

Also, it’s super comfortable and doesn’t move around when I have it on. There’s nothing worse than a beanie that keeps slipping down over your eyes when you’re trying to get things done!

Finally, to close out this month’s collection of items I was able to snap photos of- I’ve been indulging in some serious LUSH treatment throughout January. Specifically, their chocolate lip scrub (which works amazing and tastes delicious)– and their Oatifix mask/facial cleanser. I really love using this mask every few days- not only because it makes my skin smell like an oatmeal cookie- but because it clears out my pores in my oily areas while simultaneously hydrating and calming my dry areas.

This mask is perfect for combination skin- and even more perfect for combination skin during the Winter! It’s a lifesaver for me!

That’s it for the products- but a couple of other things made my list for January ’19, too!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

‘Surviving R. Kelly’ – The Lifetime Network, notorious for bad biopics and tantalizing thrillers for bored housewives, delivered a knockout punch to disgraced R&B singer R.Kelly earlier this month with their six-part docu-series detailing the singer’s troubled past, his multiple victims, and the people in his camp who enabled and assisted him with his abusing underaged girls and the subsequent cover-ups and payoffs.

The series is gripping, heartbreaking, and at times- difficult to watch- but it’s a story that needed to be told and was long overdue. I really hope that within the fallout from it’s premiere- R.Kelly finally gets put in jail and his victims find closure and peace.

– GAMES/APPS –

‘Resident Evil 2’ – The remake of one of my all-time favorite classic horror video games I’ve been waiting months for dropped last week and I have to say that it’s AWESOME so far. Between the graphics, the gameplay, the jump scares and the story (lightly altered but still pretty true to the original)– this is a huge win for Capcom and for the ‘Resident Evil’ franchise as a whole- which has sort of gone off the rails in recent years.

I can’t wait for the weekend so I can keep playing it without being interrupted by anyone or anything!

And there it is- my Favorites from January of 2019! A decent collection of things, if I do say so myself!

My recap of the month will be up on Thursday (and there’s so much to talk about!) but until then- I’m off to get some work done and make some dinner plans!

If you’d like to drop me a line or leave a comment to tell me some of your favorite things from January- feel free! I’d love to hear about them!

And there’s still some time to enter my BIRTHDAY GIVEAWAY BY CLICKING HERE IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY!

See you all soon!

xx

– Ashley –

Dinner Parties and Resolutions…

Good Morning and Happy “Hump Day”, everyone!

I hope you’re all having a fabulous week so far. I, personally, have been enjoying a little downtime following last week’s insane amount of work, hustle and back-to-back commitments! It’s nice to have a little time to catch up on some of the things on my “to watch” list on Netflix, curl up with a good book of magazine, play some video games- or mix all three with friends during a bundled up dinner party and game night like I did this past weekend when it was too cold to go outside- so we opted for some indoor fun, instead!

Our menu was simple but filling- wheat linguine with chicken and vegetables tossed in a cream sauce with some garlic bread. It was just so nice to stay warm and toasty and eat together, goof around, and catch-up with one another since it’s been undoubtedly crazy and non-stop movement since the holidays!

Which brings me to the point of this post- staying organized and sticking to goals! I know we all go into the New Year with the best of intentions, big goals/aspirations and earnestly plan to fully commit to achieving them- but by mid-to-late January we might pause and ask ourselves “wait, I have to do this for the whole year?”

I know I certainly get like that- which was a contributing factor to my not reaching some of the resolutions I had set for myself in 2018… And 2017…. And maybe 2016…

… You get the picture.

But while I’m usually holding my head in my hands and sighing in disbelief at my own lack of commitment by this time every year- I’ve actually found a lot of success by implementing one or two different techniques into my daily routine these past couple of weeks- and also by making just a few small, minor changes in how I do/approach things and which don’t disrupt my life in any capacity.

I figured I’d list them here- in the hopes they may help someone else reach their goals, too!

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Invest in a planner- and note it daily.ย We’re all digital these days- and everything we need to do/want to do is made even more convenient with the click of a button or an app- but I’ve found that writing things down in a planner (and picking out a pretty one is half the fun!) not only keeps me from forgetting important dates/times/due dates/plans that I may otherwise overlook while navigating through multiple applications I have open on my phone/computer at any given time- but there’s something really satisfying about crossing off the things I’ve accomplished each day as I go!

Additionally, I set small goals for myself at the beginning of each month and write them down in my planner, as well. It can be something as simple as renewing my passport before my birthday to something a bit more challenging- like running for a longer distance than what I’m used to when I go for a jog or doing 100 more squats- but having them in writing is a daily reminder that I have something to work towards. And, if I don’t want to have to do them the following month on top of other things I end up jotting down- I’m more inclined to accomplish them!

Build and commit to a schedule and a time frame that boosts your productivity: My job can get absolutely crazy sometimes- i.e., the holidays- and throughout 2018 I found myself getting overwhelmed, irritable, and coming into the office earlier/staying later than I or anyone else should ever have to do because I wanted to get things done. It ended up burning me out and really wearing me down- until I tried a trick a friend (who also has a pretty hectic office job) taught me.

I developed a time frame for every work day and dedicated certain tasks to fit into those time frames. They are the only things I focus on/get done until time is up and I move onto the next designated block of time/tasks. For example, I go into work at 7:30 a.m. From then until 9 a.m. I am drafting legal paperwork (and listening to music) since it’s the only time of day where my phone isn’t ringing off the hook and I can focus.

From 9 until 11, I am making calls and responding to e-mails, and from 11-1 I’m going through tasks, cleaning up files, etc. until I take a lunch break at 1- return at 2- and close out the last couple of hours of my day finishing up anything I didn’t get to in the morning. Since I started adhering to this semi-strict time allowance- I’ve been able to leave on time and not have to worry about things not being done- and it’s been amazing,

Factor in self-care and healthy choices, too: Of course, setting specific times and tasks for those times doesn’t just include work or office duties- but good choices for my body/mind, as well! During work I always make it a point to get up and stretch/take a quick walk and drink plenty of water- and after I leave the office for the day and have a light dinner- I allot a period of time to get some yoga/cycling/cardio in.

It may be Winter, but that doesn’t mean I can’t work out from the comfort of home or the gym!

It’s also crucial for me to schedule in some self-care. Be it catching up on a couple of episodes of a show I’m watching on my couch, taking a bubble bath, coming up with content for the blog, etc. My schedule may not be as strict when I’m not in the office- but it’s important for me to find that time where I can just take a deep breath, unplug from the world, relax and re-center myself.

Don’t beat yourself up- and allow yourself cheat days/days off: Listen, life happens- and things can come up without a moment’s notice that disrupt our schedules and plans- and that’s okay. If a day gets muddled up- it’s not the end of the world and you can start fresh the next day. If I were to say this plan has been implemented perfectly day in and day out without the occasional hiccup or setback along the way, I’d be lying- because sometimes I can be impulsive and run off to do something “just because”- that conflicts with my schedule or things I need to get done- but it hasn’t stopped me and I haven’t given up.

More importantly, you have to give yourself some “cheat days” or some time to indulge- especially those of us looking to be healthier or get into better shape. Don’t deprive yourself of the good, even gluttonous things in life- because you shouldn’t have to be miserable while you’re working hard to achieve your goals. Moderation is key- and if you reward yourself from time to time- it’ll be easier to get back on track than it would be if you didn’t stop to smell the roses (metaphorically, of course) at all.

For me, my “cheat days” or days to do whatever I want are reserved for the weekends- where I’m free to go wherever I want, stay out late without wearing myself out, etc. Then, come Monday- it’s back to work and back to focusing on the things I want to accomplish that month/this year.

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I know it’s still very early on in 2019, but those are the things I’ve been doing as of late and I’ve already seen wonderful results in regards to reaching my goals, better managing my time, increasing my productivity- and cutting down on stress!

I feel if I keep going forward with these tips/tricks and maybe implement new ones along the way- I will remain on top of my game and make 2019 a really successful year!

But, time is money- and I’m at work- so it’s off to get things done and prepare for my half day tomorrow (where I’m cooking up something really delicious for Friday!) and finalize some pre-birthday plans for this weekend!

If you’d like to share some of your own tips/tricks for sticking to your goals, staying organized, and time management- I would absolutely love to hear them! Please feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment.

Have a great rest of your Wednesday, everybody!

xx

– Ashley –