Digging Out of The Snow…

Digging Out of The Snow…

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

While I had wanted to get a post up, as usually scheduled, this past Wednesday- the Winter storm that began whipping though New England on Sunday night had other plans for me. With over two feet of snow accumulated where I live and occasional power outages due to strong winds- my primary focus became staying warm and safe until it was calm enough outside to shovel my way back into the world on Wednesday afternoon.

The storm marked the first significant one of the 2019/2020 Winter season- and while snow is always a welcomed guest throughout December (we’re dreaming of white Christmases and all)– by February I know I’m going to dread the sight of it. It’s like clockwork. It happens every year.

I digress. During a lull in the storm on Monday afternoon- I went for a little hike not far from my office to snap some photos of the aftermath. Little did I know another foot of powder was on it’s way- so I managed to get some nice shots before then.

On top of the snow, a lot of my friends and family have been battling some weird cold/flu that’s been spreading like wildfire- so needless to say I’ve been proactive with keeping myself rested, hydrated, and well until it blows over. The last thing I need during the busiest time of the year is to get taken down by a sore throat or a stuffy nose!

Yesterday, in-between glasses of orange juice and Vitamin C gummies- I headed out to pick up some things in order to finally get around to decorating my apartment for the holidays. November marked six months living in Greenfield- and this Christmas will be the first in my new place!

I picked up some small decor to place around my kitchen and living room areas- and while I thought a $15 artificial, pre-lit tree was the perfect addition to my place- it ended up looking more like something from “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” So comically odd looking. See for yourselves!

Next week on “Blondie Birdie” I’m going to have a recipe for a festive family favorite (say that three times fast,) a peek at my latest ugly Christmas sweater- and a recap of this coming Sunday’s Patriots/Chiefs game since I’ll actually be in attendance! I’m so looking forward to tailgating with friends- despite the cold!

Here’s wishing you all a warm, safe and productive weekend ahead. Be good to each other out there! ‘Tis the season, after all!

xx

– Ashley –

Tree Lighting and Pre-Blizzard Bridges…

Tree Lighting and Pre-Blizzard Bridges…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

I’m getting a late start this A.M.- due in part to it being a post-holiday-weekend-Monday and also because we have been getting absolutely buried under snow here in Massachusetts. The first significant Winter storm of the season began rolling in through the area late yesterday afternoon/evening- and has been going strong ever since. All forecasts are showing it won’t let up until tomorrow morning- so I’ve been taking it slow and steady today. Shoveling, driving, working- I don’t see the need in rushing myself and risking my safety (or sanity.)

Prior to the storm, I had a chilly- but fun weekend- where I finalized my holiday shopping list and participated in a few festive activities as well- including a ceremonial tree lighting in South Deerfield and a mini-road trip to Vermont where I managed to capture an authentic covered bridge en-route.

I thankfully had my camera with me during my journey(s) and caught some lovely photos along the way. As always, you can simply click any of the images below to enlarge!

I will undoubtedly be taking some photos of the aftermath of this storm, as well- since snow is always the prettiest in December. Anytime after that and it’s just a major inconvenience!

I’ll be back on Wednesday after I dig myself out from beneath the snow and ice and return home to my nice, warm apartment. If you live in the area- stay safe! And, if you don’t- wish us luck as we power through what I’m sure will be the first of many blizzards in the months to come!

xx

– Ashley –

Favorites: November 2019!

Good Morning and Happy (Black) Friday, everyone!

I had wanted to get this post up yesterday morning before making the journey to my family’s home back East for Thanksgiving- but as most of you know- the holidays can get pretty crazy. Blogging had to temporarily be put on the back burner so I could focus on retrieving a pre-ordered chocolate pie and packing up some presents to get on the road in time!

But I’ve since made it back to the Valley and slept in nice and late this morning to dream away the stuffing and mashed potatoes I over-indulged in last night- and avoid the Black Friday crowds in the early A.M. hours!

I’m going to be heading out in a little while to grab a much-needed coffee and try to get a jump on my holiday shopping- but before I do- I wanted to share some of my favorite things from this past month as we enter the final couple of days of November and the end of 2019 is officially upon us!

This month’s list is short and sweet- since a lot of my Fall favorites from September and October carried over into these past weeks as well- but some new things made the list that I’m excited to talk about!

Let’s take a look!

Earlier this month, I revisited my PS4 since colder/snowier weather is on the way and in the event I should be confined to my apartment- I’m going to need something to keep me entertained until the roads are clear (and there’s only so much Netflix a person can watch.) Troy, who appeared to be in the same mindset- surprised me with these wireless surround sound headphones from Turtle Beach a few weeks ago to take our online gaming to the next level.

They work awesome, and I’ve been having so much fun with late night GTA and “Resident Evil” sessions with some help from these. I haven’t tried them with a game that will be making an appearance a little later on in the post- but I should- since surround sound might help me understand the story a bit better!

To save myself time and money in the mornings before work, I’ve been living the K-Cup life. The problem is- sometimes they can taste really, really gross and you have to liven them up with some flavored creamer or sugar in order to get your caffeine fix without gagging.

I finally found a good (albeit limited time only!) creamer from International Delights that actually tastes like what it’s supposed to- French Toast!

As part of their Holiday 2019 flavors- I should really consider stocking up on this before it’s gone. It tastes really good, and just a splash of it in my coffee can make even the most stale K-Cup bearable.

One of my stops today- and probably not until much later on this evening- may be Kohl’s so that I can try and stock up on more of these knee-high wool socks- which have gotten me through the rainier, colder days this past November!

Thick without making my boots feel tight/uncomfortable, and high enough to wear over or under my jeans or leggings- these socks keep my legs and feet dry and warm regardless of how much time I spend outdoors. They’re super soft, too- which is always nice this time of year when my skin tends to get on the dry side.

Here’s hoping the Black Friday crowds left some for me!

As I prepare to decorate my apartment for the holidays- I’m also focused on making it a bit warmer and cozier for myself and guests who stop by when it’s frigid out. For myself when I go to bed- I want to be toasty and cozy- and I have been loving (and living in) these flannel sheets from Cuddl Duds throughout November.

With a very cute, cabin-inspired patchwork print- these sheets have made my bedroom look like a rustic little Christmastime getaway. I’m thinking I might try to stock up on more of these tonight, too!

And I think that’s it for the photogenic favorites- but I’ve got a few more things that made the list, too!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

Living the Hozier Life – Where October was all about Bon Iver and experiencing their Boston show from the front row- November was all about going on a mini-Hozier tour with people I adore and enjoying a few days off from work to celebrate good music, beautiful venues, and a weekend of firsts.

My VIP passes are proudly on display in my apartment right now.

– GAMES/TECH/APPS –

“Death Stranding” – Okay, so I have *no* idea what is even happening right now- but I love this game and I love listening to Mads Mikkelsen say “bee-bee” over and over. So, although I haven’t beaten it yet- I’m on the side of the fence of a very divided nation that thinks this is a pretty good, compelling, and odd video game to pass the time with!

And that just about does it for my November faves, everyone! Tomorrow morning on the blog I’ll have my full recap of this past month that was before it’s time to dive headfirst into Christmas, wrapping up this decade, and New Year’s Eve!

The next few weeks are going to be insanely busy- but fun and reflective- so I’m looking forward to a little downtime this coming weekend before we get into the thick of the seasonal spirit!

Before that, though- enjoy your Friday! Be safe out there- and more importantly- be good to one another!

xx

– Ashley –

The Monday After…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

I am, admittedly, not too thrilled at the prospect of having to return to work so bright and early today- especially after having a few days off since last week. Going from having such a fun and exciting mini-vacation to reporting back for what is typically a high stress job isn’t exactly the best feeling in the world- but my bills are sadly not going to pay themselves- and I’ll need that income now that the holidays are right around the corner!

As I had mentioned last Friday- I wrapped up my impromptu time off with a trip to Foxwoods to catch what would be my second Hozier show within a 48 hour period. The trip was a milestone in another way, as well- as Troy had never been to a casino before. Myself, having gone to Vegas more times than I can remember- was fascinated by this since I had just assumed those of us who grew up in and around New England had all been forced to go Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun at one point or another by our grandparents or to celebrate a 21st birthday. It’s almost a rite of passage.

Naturally, I insisted Troy try a slot machine- and he successfully won 64 cents before wisely cashing out. I lost $5 during my own gambling endeavor- so maybe he’s onto something with not going to casinos at all, ever.

I digress- the show was incredible as usual and I had a really, really nice time. I’m so grateful to Troy for coming and experiencing a whole lot of music, good food, long drives, and sub-zero wind chills with me- and to my longtime friend Steven for hooking us up so fantastically with passes, amazing seats- and a few drinks! So much love to them both.

On Saturday, before I finally let my body catch up on sleep and I got around to cleaning my apartment (I’ve been living in Greenfield for six months as of today, by the way!)– I stopped by the Boston-Dot-Com Ski & Snowboard Expo to rep Indie617. I ended up broadcasting my show live from the venue, and got to meet a ton of great people face-to-face while giving out a bunch of free stuff. I’m awful at Winter sports- but everyone’s enthusiasm was infectious and I had a really, really fun time.

But now I’ve got to head back into the real world- and my morning/most of my afternoon will more than likely consist of catching up on e-mails, voicemails, meeting summaries, etc. while dodging phone calls and small talk around the office. A typical Monday morning, if you will.

A little later on this week I’ll be back with my go-to Thanksgiving ensemble and a recipe for those of you who are looking for something quick, easy- but still delicious- to bring to the final Friendsgivings or to the main event itself next week!

Until then, enjoy your Monday! Stay warm and focused. We’ll get through this one together!

xx

– Ashley –

Breakfast Bites: Mozzarella Meatball Frittata

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

Another weekend down and another snowstorm to emerge from (relatively) unscathed. Here in New England we got a one-two punch- an overnight storm on Friday/Saturday and another one last night into this morning, Spring may be on the way- but Winter is not going to go down without a fight!

With all the snow, ice, and bitterly cold temperatures- I wanted to cook up something this past weekend that would warm me up from the inside out and keep me fueled for all the shoveling and for getting through my plans that were unfortunately pushed together and sort of rushed with all the weather delays (including helping one of my best friends move to her new house and unpack, stopping in Northampton for theater-related work, and squeezing in some pampering for myself!)

I love a good egg recipe- and frittatas are one of my favorites. This one in particular, which incorporates meatballs and a couple different kinds of cheeses- takes about 20 minutes total to prep and cook- making it perfect for those of you on the go who want a tasty, hassle-free breakfast or brunch dish to serve!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons slivered basil leaves
  • ½ pound meatballs (cut in half if more than 1 inch in diameter)
  • 4 ounces mozzarella, preferably fresh, cut into ½-inch chunks

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. In a large ovenproof and preferably nonstick skillet, heat ½ tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the tomato juices are viscous and glossy, about 2 minutes. Pour the tomatoes onto a plate and use a silicone spatula to scrape any sticky tomato juices onto the plate as well.
  3. Whisk the eggs until well blended, then mix in the Parmesan and basil. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat the remaining ½ tablespoon olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Place the meatballs in the pan, cut sides down if they have been halved. Evenly sprinkle in the tomatoes. Pour in the egg mixture, using a fork to evenly redistribute the tomatoes or basil if necessary. Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly across the top. Cook until the edge of the frittata starts to set, then use a silicone spatula to pull the cooked egg away from the side of the pan a bit, letting the raw egg flow behind it. Repeat a few times and cook until the eggs are almost set around the perimeter of the pan, about 5 minutes.
  5. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the eggs are just set in the center and the top is dappled with toasty brown patches, about 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 1 minute to help set the top and to foster bubbly, toasted cheese bites.
  6. Remove the skillet from the oven. The frittata is easiest to remove from the pan after resting for 5 minutes. Slide the spatula underneath to loosen, then cover the skillet with a large plate or pizza pan and invert the frittata onto it. Flip the frittata one more time onto a serving plate or cutting board so it is right side up.

You know a recipe is good when my brother- a somewhat picky eater who happened to stop by shortly after I’d prepared this- really liked it! It’s filling and loaded with so many delicious flavors (the tomato and garlic stand out to me the most) that work wonderfully together.

Next time I prepare this, I think I may incorporate some red pepper and maybe some onion, as well- just to add more vegetables to the mix!

And now, with a new week just starting- I’m off to shovel, try to get some work done at my office, probably shovel some more- and then curl up with a hot cup of tea and a good book a little later on tonight!

Stay warm out there, everyone- and enjoy your Monday!

xx

– Ashley –