Notes From The Big E…

Notes From The Big E…

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it!

As much as I would love nothing more than to just sleep through this entire weekend since I am absolutely wiped out from these past couple of days (not including work!)– there’s still plenty of things left on my September “To-Do” list I  want to see through before this month begins winding down- and this coming weekend is the time to do it!

One thing I managed to scratch off my September/Fall Bucket List this past Wednesday was popping by The Big E for a late afternoon/evening filled with the unhealthiest (and delicious) fair foods, carnival rides and bizarre attractions. It’s pretty much a must-do for New Englanders- often a tradition for my friends and I- and I wanted to make sure I could enjoy it for a few hours while the weather was nice and the sun was shining!

Now that I live in the Valley, getting to The Big E takes no time at all- so I was able to park and walk in without having to sit in post-work-pre-dinner traffic for hours on end (another less favorable tradition…)

I had a lovely time squealing over cute farm animals, eating half my body weight in Friskie Fries (and fried Oreos!) and soaking up the sunset amid all the flashing lights and rickety rides while simultaneously wondering whether or not I needed any of the unusual gadgets and accessories vendors were pitching in the exhibit halls.

Naturally, I snapped some photos along the way…

Such a nice way to spend a Wednesday afternoon.

The Big E is up and running through September 29th if you want to check it out for yourself!

Next week on Blondie Birdie- I’ve got my annual Autumn playlist ready to go for those in need of a dreamy soundtrack, more photos from my early Fall adventures- and some of my favorite things from this past September (and believe me- there’s a lot!)

But until then- enjoy your weekend, everybody!

xx

– Ashley –

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice…

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

While the thought of returning to work after such a great weekend isn’t exactly ideal- I take comfort in the fact that I’ll be heading to The Big E in a couple of days for some early-Autumn fun- so at least that will break up the humdrum of daily office life. I am more than ready for some fried Oreos, hot apple cider- and carnival rides that may or may not have passed “mandatory” safety inspections!

This past weekend was also filled with some early-Autumn fun. After hosting my show on Indie617 and performing in Salem on Saturday night- I made a point to spend my Sunday at Red Apple Farm to pick some apples, find myself the perfect pumpkin, and indulge in all the farm-fresh snacks I could find- all with my beloved little Oliver in tow!

It was a beautiful, sunny- and comfortably cool afternoon. Oliver was completely fascinated by the apple trees, the tractors that were driving by, and the goats and piglets the farm has available for viewing/feeding/petting. I’m pretty sure he’d be okay if I were to adopt a pet pig in the future. They’d probably get along famously.

Naturally, I picked up some apple dumplings, some all natural peanut butter and some homemade strawberry-apple jam before we left for the afternoon- and I’m excited to dive into all of it in the coming days!

But of course, I’ve got to dive into my caseload at work, first- and make sure I stay ahead so I can get an early jump on this coming weekend!

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful start to your week. I’ll be back on Wednesday with a pretty fantastic appetizer recipe that takes no time at all to whip up!

xx

– Ashley –

August 2019: In a Nutshell

Good Morning and Happy Saturday, everyone!

I’m writing this from the comfort of bed, coffee in hand- although it’s not a pumpkin spice latte (yet. That tradition begins bright and early tomorrow morning!) and reflecting on this past August and the Summer 2019 overall, really.

Typically I make lengthy and wild “Bucket Lists” for every season- jotting down places I want to visit, things I want to do and see, food I want to cook/eat, etc. The beauty of living in New England is that with the seasons being so vastly different from one another- there’s many unique experiences to be had. It’s part of the reason I find the idea of leaving permanently so unfathomable.

Until the dead of Winter, anyway- then I’d rather be anywhere *but* here!

Usually I accomplish nearly everything on my bucket lists- however Summer 2019 was the first time in a long time that I felt I had barely scratched the surface. It didn’t feel like failure, or disappointment- but it did leave me asking myself “what happened?”

And the answer is easier to find than you’d think. Summer 2019 was the first one in my new apartment and neighborhood- which meant a lot of my day off activities were spent locally and not out by the ocean, traveling to opposite coasts, etc. I made new friends and went to community potlucks, saw shows in the next town over, soaked up the sun by a local lake, so on and so forth.

I was also working three jobs this past Summer- my full-time office job, my Saturdays with Indie617, and frantic and busy afternoons/evenings with PaintBox Theatre– which wrapped up for the season just a couple of weeks ago and freed up some of my time.

It was definitely Summer- just a new and different kind- which is a bit exciting in itself!

So in Summer 2020, while I’ll definitely have things on my bucket list as usual- I fully plan on practicing better time management and incorporating all the hidden gems within the Pioneer Valley during the hottest season of the year, too!

I’m excited for the Fall- the usual things I always make a point to do like apple picking, pumpkin carving, etc.- and the newer experiences I’ve already planned out here in Western Massachusetts (the foliage is going to look amazing and I cannot wait!)

But first I want to bid farewell to August 2019- a month that saw plenty of travel, time with cherished people in my life, growth and change personally and professionally. It started like a firecracker- with my first trip to MASS MoCA to see Maggie Rogers perform, The journey there inspired a separate visit to the Mohawk Trail just a few days later during some time off I had taken from work.

August saw me straddle the Massachusetts and New York state lines with help from Troy during a surprise trip to Bash Bish Falls– which was one of the most amazing days I’ve had in recent memory. I also celebrated the annual passage of Summer Slam with friends in Salem and mini-golfed for the first time since I was a kid (and lost, but that’s besides the point.)

And with so many changes in my location, career opportunities, etc. I figured I could change my appearance a bit, too- and returned to my brunette roots with help from an incredible stylist. Chocolate-hued hair seems fitting for the Fall- and I wanted to get the jump on it.

So what’s in store for September? A lot of early-Autumn fun- including Hampton Beach’s annual Seafood Festival, The Big E, local Harvest Fairs (I’m stopping by one tomorrow!) and the usual assortment of recipes and peeks inside my closet. My Fall wardrobe is shaping up to be amazing- and I can’t wait to show some of it off!

So expect my Instagram feed to be loaded with pictures of apple cider doughnuts, pumpkin-everything, and leaves, leaves, leaves!

But until then- here’s to August 2019- a busy month that was filled with fun, new adventures, lots of changes- and hope for the weeks ahead! With Monday being a holiday- my posting schedule will be Tuesday and Thursday next week before I return to the normal schedule the week after. I’ll have lots to talk about!

Enjoy the rest of your long weekend, everyone!

xx

– Ashley – 

Tax-Free Splurges…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

As my life and my posting schedule falls into some semblance of normalcy (as normal as it can, anyway)– I’m recovering from a bit of retail therapy from this past weekend where I dipped into some local shops in-between working on a couple of my side jobs and projects.

Saturday and Sunday was our annual “Tax Free Weekend” here in Massachusetts- and it’s exactly what it sounds like. For two days, there’s no sales tax on anything- and considering we typically get taxed quite a bit on any other day (they don’t call us Taxachusetts for nothing)– it’s the perfect opportunity for people to buy those big ticket items they’ve had their eyes on- like furniture, home goods, electronics, etc.- and still be able to save a bit of money.

And while I’m all set with furniture, appliances and TV sets- there were a couple of recent fashion/accessory items I’d spotted in storefront windows in and around my neighborhood that I thought I’d snatch up while they were not only on sale- but not being taxed, too.

I didn’t go completely overboard, of course- because a girl still has to eat- but I am loving what I was able to buy and couldn’t wait to share them here!

The first is this crop-top/sweater from ENJOY. in Shelburne Falls. While I’m definitely going to be pairing this one with a blue or white tank top underneath (I don’t think I’m fully ready to embrace the crop-top lifestyle just yet)– I can’t wait to wear this near the end of Summer/beginning of Fall when it starts to cool down a little but we’re all still spending as much as time by the water as possible.

The cure little “lake” written on the front in white was what sold me. Designed by Wooden Ships– this was marked down considerably from $112. Sold!

Also from ENJOY. is this stainless steel necklace that I’ve been eyeing for quite some time. Designed by Close 2 Ur ❤, this durable pendant depicts two bears in the forest- and is made in the USA. How cute is this?

This is another piece I’m going to be sporting a lot in the late Summer/early Fall since I spend a lot of time out in the woods photographing the foliage and change in the season!

Down the street from ENJOY. is Bridge Street Bazaar, another little local boutique with the cutest tops and accessories.  Right away I spotted this light, thin white tank top- covered in the most adorable bee pattern- on one of their mannequins and popped in to snatch it up.

I want to say that the company who makes these tops might be a mass-producer ala Primark (I couldn’t locate an official website)– but it was $19.00 and without tax- that’s good enough for me to have something fun to wear in these last few weeks of Summer.

And finally, a Bridge Street Bazaar original was this moonstone statement ring that turned colors as I was holding it in my hands (it sort of reminds me of cotton candy- since it fluctuates between bubblegum pink and sky blue.)

On sale and without tax- I gladly parted with my $10 to have a new ring to wear to work and out on the town. It’s so pretty and fits perfectly on my finger- no adjustments needed! You can see a photo of it on me HERE.

With under $100 spent and no tax- I’d say I made out pretty good with two cute new tops and two new pieces of jewelry I’ll be incorporating into my growing wardrobe here in the Valley. I’m very pleased- and so is my wallet! I can’t wait to do it again next year. Maybe by then I’ll be in need of a new mixer or a TV or something.

But until then- I’m off to work! Enjoy the start to your week, everyone! Let’s push through to Friday!

xx

– Ashley –

Late Night Watch…

Good Evening and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it to another weekend!

Today’s post is, obviously, being published much later in the day than usual- and for good reason. I pulled a (near) all-nighter last night that was simply sensational and worth the current groggy, foggy feeling I’ve got going on. I’m going to sleep beautifully tonight!

After dodging some late-afternoon/early-evening thunderstorms and micro-bursts in the Valley yesterday on my way home from my office- it was off to another delicious and beautiful meal with Troy at Galaxy in Easthampton– which is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to hang out and stuff my face.

And, I won’t lie- I got a little tipsy-topsy on the most delicious rum and coconut cocktail ever. I’m going to miss all the Summer-themed drinks come September/October!

Hours later, long after I sobered up and well past midnight- I headed around the corner from my apartment to drop by and visit friends who were hosting an all-night art/photography exhibit in Bank Row in Greenfield.

Over the weekend, someone(s) ripped down and destroyed stunning portraits that were hanging downtown of local legend, drag queen- and absolutely wonderful and talented human being- Joe Dulude II. The portraits were bright, fun, and livened up the area- and their destruction caused a lot of distress to those who know/knew Joe and are familiar with the work he does for, and the joy he brings to the community.

Last night, as a sign of resilience- multiple portraits of Joe in drag (all done by the same incredible photographer who had taken the ones that had been vandalized) were projected on the side of the former First National Bank where the originals had once hung. The impromptu art installation lasted all night- wrapping up this morning- and when I stopped by at nearly 1 a.m. the party was still going strong.

It was wonderful to see everyone, talk, laugh, admire the photos- and say hello to other night owls that were passing by. It was such a positive outcome for such a negative and destructive act.

Next week on the blog, I’m talking Summer Slam, makeup, and recapping an upcoming visit to one of my favorite New England stops during the Summer!

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful weekend ahead. I’ll see you all again on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –