Pirates and Piglets…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

Before I begin another week at work and try to stay dry during what is shaping up to be a rainy few days ahead- I wanted to dial it back a bit and share some of my favorite moments from this past weekend! There was a lot of driving, a considerable amount of delicious food- and a little bit of theater!

On Saturday, I had made the mini-trek down to Mystic, Connecticut for the first time in a couple of years. My original plan was to do a little shopping in Olde Mistick Village (a series of shops, boutiques and restaurants set within a 1700s style-inspired Colonial village) and then grab a slice of pizza over at Mystic Pizza over on Main Street. Yes, *the* Mystic Pizza.

What I hadn’t anticipated was the traffic- both road-wise and pedestrian. When I was a kid, my family typically visited/stayed in Mystic during the Fall- and it was never particularly busy. That all changes in the Summer, however- when tourists flock from all over to get a taste of that small, quaint, seaside New England charm. Not only was getting from point A to B a hassle in itself- but parking was pretty much impossible. After doing some shopping in the village and driving by Mystic Pizza (sadly, may I add-) I eventually returned home to get rested up for yesterday.

I did manage to buy my mother and my dog each a cute present while I was in town, though- so not all was lost.

Yesterday morning, with coffee in hand- I swung by Easthampton to catch my friend Troy in his performance for Paintbox Theatre’s “Pirates!” (which I blogged about last week!) The show was, I believe, sold out- and the auditorium appeared packed to capacity with very excited children and amused adults as they watched the pandemonium take place on stage, in the aisles, and even in the audience.

It was beyond adorable- and I’m so, so proud of the incredible cast and crew who were involved in what ended up being Easthampton’s official Pirate Day- per the mayor- who also happened to be in attendance!

After the show, I headed out so Troy could get going on the planned activities for the kids for the remainder of the afternoon- heading back out towards Central Massachusetts and dodging sunshowers (that turned into thunderstorms) that rolled through the area. Famished before I could reach my destination, I saw signs for Stone Cow Brewery in Barre and decided to stop and indulge in some of their BBQ, a beer, and the scenery. I’ve passed by the place so many times in the past but never had the time to stop- but I’m sure glad I did!

Not only was the food amazing (their corn bread is some of the best I’ve ever tasted)- but the surrounding farmland was beautiful and seeing some baby animals while I strolled the area was the cherry on top of a perfect afternoon.

Although I did feel a little bad when I came across the baby piglets. Especially since I had just eaten a pulled pork sandwich. Yikes.

Overall it was a pretty fun weekend- and being back at work is definitely a downer!

This week I’ve got a fun grilling recipe I’m excited to share with everyone, as well as a peek into some of my favorite products, items, odds & ends from July- so keep an eye out!

Until then, though- I hope you all have a fantastic start to your week. Let’s get through it together!

xx

– Ashley –

Ahoy, Mateys!

When it comes to theater and the arts- I wouldn’t exactly call myself a refined, sophisticated know-it-all- and I like what I like without apology. I was a trained ballet dancer through my teens and a Fine Arts major in NYC for all of thirty seconds in my early twenties before I made the switch to wide-eyed traveler, tenacious law student and tireless writer. But my interest in performances and painting never waned.

I like immersive theater the best- and anything dark, broody or supernatural and spooky is right up my alley given my self-proclaimed “Halloween Queen” title- but sometimes family-friendly and downright silly can be an unexpected delight that I treat myself to from time to time. When that type of theater happens to take place right in the heart of Western Massachusetts- an area I frequent often and truly enjoy spending time in- it’s even better.

My first introduction to Paintbox Theater was in the Summer of 2014 after a return trip from San Diego Comic-Con (speaking of- I hope everyone attending this week has a great time and uploads an obscene amount of photos so I can keep up!) My longtime friend, Troy- an actor with an almost intimidating resume and now company manager at Paintbox- had picked me up at the airport and invited me to come along to a rehearsal so I could see firsthand what it is that they do.

He was also borrowing my car that week- which I’m sure impacted his decision to invite me to some degree- but that’s neither here nor there.

Paintbox- founded by Tom McCabe, a celebrated storyteller (who also serves as a writer and director of the company’s productions)– puts on three shows every Summer that not only interact heavily with it’s teeny-tiny audience members- but simultaneously encourages literacy, kindness, and friendship with each performance. All the things this world so desperately needs right now, really.

They do this by incorporating audience participation and allowing children to add their own artwork to the set- drawings that are shown via a projection screen over the stage that are used to depict scenery, characters, points in the story, etc. It’s a nice and adorable way for kids to feel like they’re *in* on the play and included in the shenanigans and sometimes absolute pandemonium (in a controlled, safe way of course) happening with the actors onstage.

And if you’re worried that there isn’t anything to keep the adults entertained during all of this- think again. Some of the jokes, which are subtle enough to go way above a toddler’s head- are pretty perfect for any parent or grown-up patron who needs a good chuckle.

I was completely moved by the company’s efforts to reach and entertain children back in 2014- and have popped by performances now and then through the years to say hello. Now, in it’s celebratory 15th season- Paintbox is getting ready for their second show of the Summer: “Pirates!” and since I’m always looking to share fun things to do around New England- I thought this would be perfect for those of you reading this (with or without younger ones) who might want to travel to one of the more beautiful areas of Massachusetts and catch a show while supporting a great group of hardworking people.

I, myself, have been a proud supporter of Paintbox for years now- and think you’d all enjoy it!

Saturday- July 21, 2018 @ 10:30 AM & 1:00 PM – Sunday- July 22, 2018 @ 10:30 AM

Williston Theater @ 18 Payson Ave, Easthampton, MA. 01027

(the Sunday show will immediately be followed by a 2nd annual “Pirate Day” with games and activities.)

Wednesday- July 25, 2018 @ 10:30 AM (Rain Date: Thursday, July 26, 2018 @ 10:30 AM)

Millside Park @ 2 Ferry Street along the Manhan Rail Trail

Tickets can be purchased at the website linked above, or by CLICKING HERE.

Enjoy your Wednesday, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

Moose Crossings and Ice Cream Sundaes…

Good Morning and Happy Hump Day, everyone!

Every year, when Father’s Day rolls around- I like to take a day or two to just get out of town for a little while and visit new places, try new dishes, or see new art and otherwise keep myself preoccupied for a little while. My own father passed away from chemotherapy complications nearly six years ago- and while I don’t fall into a deep depression the way I did during the first couple of Father’s Days after he was gone- I still tend to get sad/emotional from time to time.

Thankfully, the weather was lovely this past weekend- which made taking a mini road trip up to Brattleboro, Vermont on Saturday all the more enjoyable since I could spend time outdoors in the sunshine. And, since I naturally took the back roads to get there- I was able to stop along the way at different farms and along trails and river edges to squeal at cute animals or dip my toes in the water to cool off.

I put a lot of miles on my cars, for sure- but it’s worth it. I love to explore, and on warm Summer days- nothing beats driving through the countryside with the windows down, listening to music, and sipping iced coffee or tea. It’s very therapeutic for me.

And with all the hiking I did on Saturday when I wasn’t behind the wheel- I made sure to treat myself with a little hot fudge sundae at Northfield Creamie. I pass by it a lot whenever I’m in Western Massachusetts, but had never actually had the chance to stop and savor their delicious desserts until now! It was well worth the pit stop.

On Sunday, one of my longtime and dearest friends out in Western Massachusetts invited me out to Turners Falls for an afternoon to get a behind-the-scenes look at a show he’s performing through this weekend at the Shea Theatre. It’s an immersive theater experience- which is right up my alley- and I’m excited to see the play in it’s completion this coming weekend. It was really interesting to see all the work and preparation that goes into it- and I had a lot of fun meeting everyone since they were all so unbelievably friendly.

After a dinner at Riff’s (their goat cheese and avocado quesadilla is the best, by the way) and doing a little street art tour by some of the building sides and alley ways- I had to bid my dudebro adieu and head home so I could get a good night’s sleep in me before sliding into work bright and early on Monday morning.

Overall, I had a beautiful, relaxing and food-filled weekend- and I knew my dad was there with me in spirit. He would have loved the scenery- since he was a fan of taking long and aimless drives, too. That’s where I get it from, after all!

Many thanks to the friends who took time from their days with their own fathers to check in and send good vibes (and more than one funny joke or meme to keep me in good spirits) and to the new faces I met along my travels who made me feel welcome and cherished. It means more than you’ll ever know!

But I’ve got to get to work and make sure I’m staying on top of my tasks today!

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful mid-week!

And, with only a couple days left to go- there’s still some to enter my Beach-themed giveaway! Get on that!
Turners Falls, MA. 6/17/18

xx

– Ashley –