Backyard BBQ Recipes: Grilled Watermelon-Feta Skewers

Backyard BBQ Recipes: Grilled Watermelon-Feta Skewers

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

I am so excited for this weekend- not only because I need a little break from what proved to be a rather busy and hectic work-week- but also because the weather is supposed to be really nice and I’ve got a lot of outdoor stuff I want to do around the Valley!

One of those outdoorsy things may include some grilling- and I recently came across a super simple, super quick backyard BBQ recipe that combines fruit and cheese (a great pairing in itself, really)– but in a fun and unique way.

Meet watermelon and feta skewers- the Summertime recipe you didn’t know you needed in your life ’til now!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • About 40 (1-inch) pieces cubed watermelon
  • About 20 (1-inch) pieces cubed feta cheese
  • ⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups arugula (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh basil (optional)

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Set your grill to high heat. Thread a piece of watermelon, a piece of feta and a second piece of watermelon onto a 6-inch skewer. Repeat with the remaining pieces of watermelon and feta.
  2. Once the grill is hot, brush the skewers on all sides with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Grill until lightly charred on all sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove from the grill and cool slightly.
  3. To serve, mound 1 cup arugula onto each plate and top with 5 skewers per plate. Drizzle each salad with 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with chopped basil. Serve immediately.

Even though the original recipe calls for some extra ingredients for presentation purposes- my skewers were well-received even without being placed on a bed of arugula or sprinkled with basil. I put them out with a little bowl of standard cream cheese fruit dip and another little bowl of vanilla Greek yogurt and my friends devoured them just the same!

The sweetness of the watermelon with the saltiness of the feta was an unexpected flavor journey as I ate a couple of these skewers myself- but it was definitely delicious and something I will absolutely make again- although I think the next time I might leave them on the grill for a little longer to get a bit more of a charred surface. I was admittedly afraid of melting the cheese too much during this go at the recipe!

That just about does it for me this week. I’ll be back on Monday with more recaps of my time around the Valley, another look at my Summer wardrobe and maybe- just maybe- a custom-made Summertime soundtrack to share! You’ll have to check back to find out!

Here’s wishing you all a sunny, safe and fun weekend ahead. Be good to yourselves and each other!

xx

– Ashley –

OOTD: Now It’s All Covered in Flowers…

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it to the weekend!

It’s been such a busy- but wonderful- week and I’m excited to spend some time with my mom and my brothers tonight at our bi-weekly family dinner, head into Boston for a few hours to do my radio show tomorrow afternoon- and then soak up a little sun back at home while I’m out and about on the town running errands and just exploring my neighborhood!

And while I’m doing that, I’ll more than likely be wearing one of my favorite Summer weekend ensembles- a sundress or romper with bright and fun sandals. Much like I did last weekend when I took my best friend to visit the Bridge of Flowers while he was visiting from the city!

I love a good, simple, comfortable and loose-fitting sundress with a cute print. This one, adorned with hot pink flowers- also has an open back to it- so to keep myself from looking like I was going out to the club when I was really just walking around the more “sophisticated” Shelburne Falls during the afternoon- I opted to wear a pale pink tank top underneath the dress to look a bit more modest and not show off too much skin since there were plenty of families and small children running around!

And if these sandals look familiar- it’s because they’re the ones I had picked up at ModCloth last year and wore for pretty much the entirety of Summer 2018. After pulling them out of my closet and bringing them to my new apartment with me- they are officially back and ready for more (and are still ridiculously comfortable!)

And, as cute as this dress and these sandals are- it’s Shelburne Falls that was the real MVP of this “Outfit of The Day” post. No matter where I turned, the entire village itself was the perfect backdrop for photos and selfies. Look at that wall of ivy! Look at the Deerfield River behind me! They made the dress look even better, honestly!

And that just about does it for me this week. I’m going to be back on Monday with more warm weather clothing, some Summertime recipes, peeks around the Pioneer Valley and celebrating Blondie Birdie’s second year here on the web (!!!)– but here’s wishing you all a lovely, safe weekend ’til then!

Now get out there and go have some fun!

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 –

May 2019: In a Nutshell

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

We’ve made it to another weekend- and we’re leaving another month behind us! It’s hard to believe that June is here and we’re halfway through 2019 already. There’s still so much I want to accomplish and do before Winter creeps up on us again- and now the pressure is really on since Summer is pretty much here now!

I plan to do a mid-year “check in” regarding my New Year’s Resolutions, goals, aspirations, etc. now that we’re a few hours shy from being six months into 2019- but before I do that- I wanted to focus on taking a look back on May.

This past month has been one of the busiest, most surreal, exciting and unexpected for me- filled with big life changes, travel, a festival for good measure- and lots of time with friends and family. I’m still in a bit of a daze that these past few weeks happened- but when I think about them, I can’t help but smile!

The biggest and probably most important thing to happen in May was that I packed up and left my life and nearly everything I’ve ever known as a city girl behind- choosing instead to move out to the more rural, picturesque and “rustic” Pioneer Valley to forge a new chapter in my life and be a bit more independent while living on my own. I’ve only been here for a couple of weeks- but I truly love it here and I have lots of fun posts planned as I continue to familiarize myself with my new neighborhood and all it’s quirky attractions.

I had posted some photos of my apartment in the “bare bones” stage just hours after my move in- but I’m expecting the last of my furniture to arrive in the days ahead so be prepared for a LOT of home decor talk on here and my social media in June! I’ve got a Pinterest account and an empty shopping cart on Etsy- and I know how to use them.

Cambridge, MA. May 25th.

Just prior to that, I spent a week in Nevada- with a road trip to San Diego to see White Lies perform mixed in– with my West Coast Wife, Kelsey- and her husband and little girl. My days were super relaxing, laid-back, and filled with air conditioning, binge-watching true crime dramas and lots of good food- which is how all vacations should be, really. I couldn’t have asked for a better stay and I am so excited to head back there this Fall.

And then there was Boston Calling- where I stopped by last Saturday to spend time with my Indie617 crew, my good friend Steven who was in town- and see some incredible artists while the sun was shining bright. I had the most perfect day while I was there- and I can’t wait to gush all about it during my show tomorrow at the station (from 12-4 PM EST!)

I’m already speculating about next year’s lineup- that’s how eager I am to do it all over again!

And as always- there were plenty of dinners and celebrations at my mom’s house, with my friends in and around the city- and in the Valley as well.

I’m hoping to carry some of this momentum with me into June. I’m already kicking things off with a visit from my BFF Sean- who is coming to stay for the weekend so I can show him around my place and my neighborhood- and the 16th season of PaintBox kicks off near the end of the month- which I have been tirelessly preparing for and am so thrilled and anxious to see just how all the hard work myself and all of the cast and crew have put in these past few months pays off (fingers crossed!)

I also intend to show off some of the Valley here on Blondie Birdie, share some recipes from my sparkling new kitchen- and give a glimpse into some of my favorite Summer ensembles now that warmer days and sunshine are- hopefully– on the way!

Here’s to May- and June being just as lovely for all of us!

I hope you all have a wonderful, fun and safe weekend ahead. I’ll be back on Monday to get the Summer season going!

xx

– Ashley –

OOTD: Dressed-Down Dog Walking…

Good Morning and Happy “Hump Day”, everyone!

Although next Monday is the sort of unofficial “First Day of Summer” with Memorial Day, the past few days have been hot, dry, loaded with on/off thunderstorms- and super sunny- so I think it’s safe to say we may have skipped right over Spring this year in New England and just went straight for Summertime, instead.

It’s not that I mind, really- except that it makes dressing practical and comfortably a little tricky with rising temps and blustery winds whenever a storm rolls though. Luckily, I have a fail-proof set of Late-Spring-Early-Summer outfits for such occasions/forecasts- and I happened to be wearing one on a windier day earlier this week while I checked in on Oliver and took him for a walk.

The ensemble isn’t exactly groundbreaking- skinny jeans or Capri pants with a bright tank top, a lightweight cardigan and comfortable flats/sneakers. It’s the essential errand/lounging/casual hang out outfit that women have made look sensational for years- but I’m quite fond of this outfit in particular because everything was purchased at Old Navy and cost under $60.

I just moved, guys- I need to grab good deals when I find them!

Also- I am absolutely feeling all things marigold lately- so this tank top is my new “gonna’ wear this ’til it gets destroyed” article of clothing.

And you may not be able to see it in the brightness of these photos or because Oliver is just the cutest ever- but I found a new set of stacked bracelets I’ve fallen head over heels in love with courtesy of Pura Vida. This stack in particular is their 2019 collection, “Dreaming Outloud”- a Summer-inspired set of colors and charms (including a VW bus- my favorite!)

Pura Vida help generate jobs and income for artisans around the globe- while donating a portion of their proceeds to numerous charities worldwide. I love independent fashion and accessory brands that give back and do something positive for their communities while simultaneously creating cute things I love to wear all the time- so I’ll be buying more in the future from this company for sure.

These bracelets will also- most certainly- make my “Favorites” list for May!

But that does it for me today, everyone. There’s lots of work to be done at the office this morning and lots of preparation to go into this upcoming long weekend! I’m looking forward to touching base on Friday before I head back into the city for Boston Calling!

Enjoy your Wednesday, everybody! Be good to one another!

xx

– Ashley –