A Day at Green River Festival…

A Day at Green River Festival…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

I’ve taken a personal day from work today. Originally, I had plans with some friends to head down to the Cape for the morning/afternoon- however our schedules and respective obligations caused a delay and the trip is now postponed until further notice.

Today also happens to be the anniversary of my dad’s passing- which is always a pretty difficult day to get through- so I’m opting to keep busy and spend the day with my mom so we don’t have to be alone in our memories and grief. We’re going to do some shopping and dining out in my neighborhood- which I’m excited for.

I’m also low-key recovering from stopping by the Green River Festival yesterday and roasting under the sun for a few hours. The festival, a 3-day music/art/cultural celebration- is only a couple of miles away from my new apartment- so parking and reaching the festival on foot were no problem at all. It was a beautiful and sunny Sunday afternoon- and while I’d heard of the festival in the past- I’ve never had to opportunity to go and enjoy it for myself until now.

I saw some fantastic performances, ate some great food, and shopped some local vendors in-between ducking into the shade and snapping some photos.

If you’d like to see bigger versions, simply click!

My favorite find of the day came courtesy of Taproot Threads, based out of my town. All of the artwork featured on their pieces is hand-drawn, and printed on fair-trade garments with water-based ink. The material is soft, lightweight and cozy- and I’m wearing this t-shirt today when I go to spend time with my mom!

Look at how lovely the illustration is up-close!

It was such a great day, and next year I may try to go for all three days (Friday-Sunday. With my work schedule this year, yesterday was the only day I could pull off!)

With many local businesses now going into post-festival “recovery mode”- I anticipate it will be quiet day around the neighborhood. The perfect opportunity to rest and relax.

But I need coffee and I need it now- so I’m off! Here’s wishing you all a good start to your work-week. I’ll be back on Wednesday!

xx

– Ashley –

The Waters Fine…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

It’s back to work bright and early for me this morning, unfortunately. Always a daunting and difficult thing to face after a long weekend that was filled with sunshine (and only one or two freak thunderstorms in passing.) I hope those of you who also had an extended holiday weekend for the Fourth of July enjoyed it- and those who didn’t get a break really soon!

My Fourth of July was not spent on a beach or at a park watching fireworks and eating hot dogs and hamburgers (not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course)– but at a community potluck thrown in my neighborhood. I was invited by a new friend-of-a-friend, Kat- and met a bunch of new faces and some additional newcomers to the Pioneer Valley while eating fresh salads, pasta, grilled vegetables and different types of pies. I also got to wave a sparkler around for the first time in about twelve years- which was very, very exciting for me!

I had a really, really good time and I’m looking forward to seeing new friends at upcoming events this Summer.

In the days after the 4th, I made sure to spend some time with my mom and Oliver- including lots of couch snuggles and binge-watching TV in front of the air conditioner in-between errands and ordering pizza. With the heat and the humidity at an all-time high on Friday and Saturday- there was no way I was turning the oven on.

Yesterday, knowing it was my last day of freedom before I returned to the office- I made sure to stay cool and go off the grid for a while- opting out of driving two hours to the beach and instead traveling about thirty minutes away to Ashfield Lake (where my phone has no service at all) for a quick dip.

I had my camera with me- and stored it somewhere dry- but I managed to get a couple of photos while I was lounging.

It was a beautiful afternoon/evening. I’m still very much an ocean girl- but I’ll never say no to a quiet, clean, peaceful lake.

A little later on this week I’m sharing one of my favorite “comeback” pieces from my Summer wardrobe (I love when old trends turn up again!) and whipping up a really delicious- and icy- dessert recipe to cool you all down before this coming weekend!

But before that- I gotta’ get to work. I don’t want to- but I have to.

Hang in there, everybody. Let’s push through to Friday. We can make it if we try!

xx

– Ashley –

Lazy Sundays…

Good Morning, Happy Monday- and Happy July, everyone!

To call my Sundays “lazy” isn’t entirely accurate. My Sunday mornings are typically pretty busy, filled with errands- like grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning or paying bills- before I launch into plans throughout the afternoon and evening to try and have a little fun before I head back to work each Monday morning (like I’m getting ready to do right now… Ugh.)

Yesterday, though? Absolutely a “Lazy Sunday.” After laundry and grocery shopping- it was all about eating junk food, laying in bed, napping, and doing absolutely nothing except count down the minutes for June (and my subsequent “June Gloom Curse” to end. See my last post for more information on that.)

Granted, in-between errands and prior to my laying down for the count in the late afternoon/evening- I did manage to visit two wonderful local places: one new and one familiar.

The first, en route to Northampton- was this adorable little roadside farm/flower shop called Sunset Acres Farm in Whately (which I snapped a photo of above since it looks like a secret garden!) It was lovely- and I really would have stayed longer of a rather nefarious looking thunderstorm with cloud-to-ground lightning hadn’t rolled through the area while I was perusing tomato plants to purchase.

I’m absolutely going to head back when the weather isn’t so unpredictable!

The second, the place I’m familiar with- was Local Burger. I was starving and craving a cheeseburger (and buffalo/blue cheese fries.) I haven’t been to Local in a long time, but it never changes. The decor and the food is always the same and it’s always really, really good.

With a food coma brewing- I wrapped up my errands before heading home where my last task of a on/off rainy Sunday was finishing the changes to “Blondie Birdie’s” layout! Yes, if you look now- I’ve gone teal and a bit less cluttered with my site. An appropriate way to begin July and the peak of Summer, if I do say so myself.

Obviously, I’m keeping an eye out for any glitches or issues- so if any of you happen to see anything pop up or look out of place- please let me know so I can fix it!

But that just about does it for me today. It’s going to be a busy day at the office- what with the upcoming holiday weekend- so I’ve got to try and get a handle on things before they inevitably go off the rails.

Have a great start to your week, everybody!

xx

– Ashley –

The Summer 2019 Bucket List Is Underway!

Good Evening, everyone!

It’s later than usual for me to update “Blondie Birdie,” and I had wanted to get this post up and running earlier this morning- but life happens, and work happens, and errands- and sometimes my schedule just doesn’t go as planned. I’m here, though- resting comfortably in my air conditioned apartment with a sheet mask and a cold glass of lemonade after a long day at the office.

And I’m happy to report that my Summer 2019 To-Do/Bucket List already has one thing scratched off of it!

When I first moved to the Valley, I had talked about wanting to explore pretty much anything and everything there was to do- from off-the-wall attractions, to theater, to parks and museums- and really good places to eat. I’ve grown familiar with certain spots in Northampton I frequent regularly for coffee or dinner- but this past weekend while I was out running errands I happened to pass by Captain Jack’s Roadside Shack in Easthampton that I’d heard about through the grapevine but had never actually visited before.

The place looked pretty busy but not overcrowded- and I was starving- so I stopped with the intention of ordering some fries and a lemonade or something light to get me through the remainder of my afernoon. But, then I saw their lobster rolls- and I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the floor. I had to have one.

LOOK AT THIS!

It was huge, delicious and worth every penny- and I loved the thin cut fries that came with it, too!

If seafood isn’t your thing, no worries- they also had chicken, burgers, pulled pork, and plenty of sides to choose from! And the portions are massive. I managed to power through the lobster roll and some of the fries but there was no way I could eat all of it on my own in one sitting!

I know I’ll definitely be heading back there soon (they have a crab roll that is calling my name) but for now- I’m just glad I got to scratch “eat a lobster roll” off of my Summer Goals list this early on! Next on the agenda? Hitting the beach, obviously!

A little later on this week I’m going to be sharing my favorite things from this past month. There’s a lot of makeup and hair care included now that the heat and the humidity have arrived here in New England- but I’ve found some great products I’ve been loving and I can’t wait to show them off!

Until then, though- enjoy your night and your Thursday! I’ll see you all again on Friday!

xx

– Ashley –

Immersive Theater: Sam’s Place…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

If anyone ever asked me what my earliest immersive theater experience was, I would immediately say “Sleep No More”– but not the obscenely priced incarnation that exists in New York City today- but the smaller, more intimate, more eager version that took place in an abandoned school in Brookline, Massachusetts circa 2009.

My best friend Sean was the one to discover “Sleep No More” that Fall when we were looking for new things to do around Halloween that didn’t involve tripping over children at haunted attractions or getting stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic in Salem. This discovery, in turn, served as my introduction to immersive theater. For those who have never experienced it before, immersive theater is a play/production that goes beyond the limitations of a single stage and allows the audience to participate and explore the performance spaces freely, interact with the actors, and sometimes change the outcome of the performance with the decisions they make along the way.

It’s a very unique style of performance art and has quickly become one of my favorites over the years. I am by no means an actress or a seasoned veteran of the arts- but if given the opportunity to perform in an immersive theater play- I would absolutely agree because it’s not a matter of learning lines or the repetition of motions. Everything is spontaneous, off-the-cuff- and depends entirely on the audience member you’re interacting with. It’s improv- and like improv- you have some basic guidelines to drive your character. The rest is completely up to you- and the crowd.

“Sleep No More” has become the pinnacle of immersive theater- with hundreds if not thousands of people flocking to see it at it’s current home within the McKittrick Hotel in NYC every year. I’ve been to many of their performances and parties over the years- and I’ve always had an incredible and memorable time- but the problem with “Sleep No More” is that it’s so big, so expansive, and so easy to get off track. If you wander the wrong way for even a moment- you risk missing huge parts of the play/story, if not the whole thing. Actors/Actresses move from room to room, they separate and head into different directions- and with four or five floors with multiple rooms, nooks and crannies to cover- it’s easy to get lost.

I’ve seen “Sleep No More” possibly seven or eight times- potentially more- and I have yet to see the full performance. Even following guidelines that have been laid out by other enthusiasts online to help those in similar situations has left me stuck- roaming from empty room to empty room in silence until a stage hand directs me to the big finale and that’s it.

I’ve kept my eye out for other companies doing similar work but on a smaller, more tightened and less sprawling/confusing scale. Last year, my dearest Troy invited me to see an immersive theater performance he had been involved in called “Deux Ex Machina” which was put on at the Shea Theater Arts Center in Turners Falls by Eggtooth Productions. I was blown away by the show- which encapsulated everything I loved about immersive theater but with a more reasonable price of admission and a venue that prevented audience members from getting lost and/or missing out on key elements and moments of the show. We were still allowed to roam freely- but there was always a cast or crew member to guide us back to the action if we were getting too far off track.

The sets, the costumes, the spooky, sort of otherworldliness of the story and the characters was spectacular- and I’ve since become a big fan of Eggtooth’s other works.

Since moving to the Valley, I’ve met a few people- friends of friends, etc.- who have been so kind, welcoming and enthusiastic about me being a part of the community now. Through Troy and my own curiosity, wonderful people affiliated with Eggtooth had encouraged me to come to their most recent event: Sam’s Place (which was also held at the Shea.)

The event spanned across three nights- with each night representing a different era in the club/bar scene. This past Thursday night’s performance was inspired by 1920s speakeasies. Friday night’s performance was a nod to 1960s folk clubs- and Saturday night- the event I went to, was a neon and Aquanet soaked throwback to 1984 and all it’s decadent glory. Although I didn’t really have a 1980s inspired outfit to wear- I did rock some teased hair and neon eyeliner- so at least I can say I tried.

I had an incredible time, and the multiple interactions I had with the cast in various areas of the theater were so wonderful. I left with a pocket full of mementos that were handed to me at various intervals (pictured above)– including a portrait of me that was done by one the actresses who never actually looked at the paper. She just stared at my face and drew. An uncanny likeness, if I do say so myself.

And closing out the night dancing to 80s club hits (I lost my mind at “Sheila” by Ready For The World) was a pretty perfect way to end an evening and wind down what had been a pretty long, tedious week.

Speaking of winding down- June is nearly done and over if you can all believe it- so the next few days will be spent recapping my favorite things from this past month as well as looking back at these past few weeks a whole in my “In A Nutshell” post (which will be up on Sunday!)

On Wednesday, though- I’m giving you all a glimpse into an incredible roadside Summer shack I discovered over the weekend. I’m still so full of lobster and fries as I write this!

Have a great start to your work week, everyone! Let’s see it through to Friday!

xx

– Ashley –