My 10 Favorite Photos From 2019

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! It’s the last “TGIF” of the decade!

I cannot believe that in a few days 2019 will be on it’s way out and we will be welcoming 2020. I am still in the process of *trying* to finalize my New Year’s Eve plans with minimal success- but there’s still a couple of days left to make reservations and book accommodations- so I’m struggling not to lose my mind too much.

I’ll have my annual “Year in Review” post up bright and early on Tuesday morning before I head off to wherever my date for the evening and I end up choosing as our champagne and countdown location- but before I do- I wanted to revisit some of my favorite photographs I’ve snapped over these past twelve months and give a little backstory on each of them!

Narrowing down hundreds of photos from 2019 to just ten was no easy feat- and in-between marveling at just how many interesting places I visited and how many surreal experiences I had this year- I agonized over what pictures to include and what ones to keep in the digital scrapbook.

But I DID emerge with ten photos I am very, very fond of- and am excited to share before I head off for the last round of holiday parties this weekend!

10. Green River Festival (Greenfield – July 2019):

Shortly after moving to the Pioneer Valley in the Spring, I discovered that the famed Green River Festival took place within a short walking/driving distance from my apartment. Having never been but hearing nothing but good things from the locals- I decided to head down on it’s last day to check it out.

I had a great time watching live, local bands/artists perform- eating plenty of snacks from surrounding food trucks and shopping small business vendors who had set up impromptu tented storefronts on the grounds- but the fields itself were vast, rolling, and very picturesque. While looking for some shade so I could sit and listen to the music without getting sunburnt- I snapped this photo of a gigantic tree in the middle of everything- just looming in the distance against the blue sky.

I thought it was absolutely lovely.

9. “Bad Bitch Falls” (New York – August 2019):

When Troy tells you he has a surprise for you and that he’s picking you up for an adventure- you just roll with it. Such was the case in August when, after a successful dance performance in Salem the day before- he thought he’d take me somewhere new and beautiful to celebrate.

Over an hour in the car and one grueling uphill hike over the Massachusetts/New York State Line later- it paid off. Bash Bish Falls remains one of *the* highlights of my Summer and 2019 overall. It was breathtaking, refreshing- and despite there being a ton of people with the same idea coming and going- for a little while it felt like Troy and I were the only two people there.

And that feeling was divine.

8. Hozier, Boston Calling (Boston – May 2019):

After joining the Indie617 on-air team in March- I never in my life expected it would lead to me being considered “MEDIA” at the biggest Boston-based festival of the year. But, sure enough- I was all over the place that weekend- hosting my show from a nearby hotel/restaurant, running around the press area, having drinks with friends and watching some of my favorite artists perform insanely good sets.

I snapped this photo of Hozier from the lighting rig just as the sun was setting- and right before I had to run across the field to catch the opening of Tame Impala’s set from a different stage.

I got plenty of sun, cardio, and possible alcohol poisoning during Boston Calling ’19- and I hope I get to do it again for 2020.

7. Now It’s All Covered in Flowers (Shelburne Falls – June 2019):

The only selfie of 2019 comes courtesy of my best friend Sean, who snapped this photo of me while visiting my new place one weekend during the Summer. While showing him around my neighborhood and surrounding attractions- we stopped at the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls to take photos and dodge a LOT of bees.

While walking near a moss/leaf covered building just across the street from the bridge on our way back to my car- Sean snapped this photo of me in my little black and pink floral dress with the impressive backdrop behind me.

I always liked how bright and vibrant the colors were in this picture- and I wish I could have made it back in the Fall  to see the difference the season made.

6. Spider Gates (Leicester – October 2019):

While highlighting some of the creepier, more notorious areas in New England this past Fall- I made a stop at the famed Spider Gates cemetery as I was en route to visit my mom. One of the oldest Quaker cemeteries in Massachusetts- Spider Gates has a chilling (but long since debunked) history of the supernatural.

When I visited in October, however- I was the only one there- which is highly unusual given it’s a popular attraction leading up to Halloween. The grounds were- admittedly- a little eerie, and I ended up getting out of there a little quicker than normal after I’d snapped some photos.

This one, showing the entrance gates and the alleged “hanging tree” overhead- was one of my favorites.

5. Hiking Mount Grace (Warwick – January 2019):

A few days after New Year’s of 2019, Massachusetts experienced our annual “January Thaw”- where the temperatures get a little warmer than usual and any accumulated snow begins to melt. The result is typically rainy, foggy mornings/afternoons.

I went hiking that weekend at Mount Grace- and captured this photo of myself crossing a rather rickety wooden bridge over a rising stream of melted snow and rainwater with the remnants of the Fall leaves passing through. Out of all the pictures of snow-covered trees, mossy rocks and storm clouds I had managed to collect- this one was my favorite- because it reminds me of my favorite king of weather here in New England.

4. Orchard House (Concord – February 2019):

I haven’t seen the new adaptation of “Little Women” yet (although I’ll probably catch it tonight after work or later on this weekend)– but back in February I decided to visit Louisa May Alcott’s home on a whim for a tour and to snap some photos of it’s gorgeous and historic exterior.

If you’re ever in Concord- which is a beautiful town all on it’s own- this cozy little home is a must see. I’m sure with the success of the revamped movie it’ll see an influx of tourists flocking into town to experience it for themselves- but don’t let that stop you. It’s a piece of history and the staff there are extremely friendly and kind.

3. The Eyrie House Ruins (Holyoke – October 2019):

I love this photo for a lot of reasons. Not only because I love abandoned and creepy places- and not only because the story of how this hotel burned down to nothing but ruins in 1901 is a borderline comedy- but because I almost died hiking to get there and this photo is a sort of testament to my own strength and resilience.

Following a heavy rainfall in October, I began the longest and steepest hike of my life to the summit of Mount Tom to photograph the ruins. Soaked, slipping, and out of breath by the time I got there- I was ready to just collapse and curl up- but the ruins were worth the trouble and I had the best time exploring them and taking photos.

Next time I’m wearing proper hiking boots, though.

2. The Stolen Artwork (Boston – March 2019):

There are a lot of places in the Greater Boston area that I have yet to visit- and in 2019 I wanted to scratch a few of them off my Bucket List- starting with the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum where I got to see the empty frames that held still missing artwork- stolen from the museum back in 1990.

Although the museum was absolutely packed the day that I went- I had a wonderful time- and caught this photo without interruption despite the crowds. The galleries are beautiful and I could have easily spent hours longer in there admiring the art and the indoor courtyard- which made even a frigid March day feel like the middle of May.

1. MASS MoCA (North Adams – October 2019):

And finally, on another one of my “Troy said we’re going on an adventure” outings- this shot was taken in the stairwell of MASS MoCA on a rainy October afternoon. Despite all the art, all the intricate paintings and sculptures and prints and designs around the museum- this shot of the building while I stood in the stairwell with Troy was one of my favorite moments of that day and of 2019 because I was so indescribably happy at the time.

That, and MASS MoCA is a beautiful building in a beautiful town.

It had been a perfect day.

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And there you have it- my ten favorite photos from 2019!

I’m hoping to have even more photos to choose from in 2020, since I intend to take my camera with me wherever I go- but for now I’m just going to reflect on these ones I’ve chosen for this year and remember how many good times and good trips I’ve had so far.

I’m off to get some work done and prepare for the very, very busy days ahead. Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

I’ll see you all again on New Year’s Eve!

xx

– Ashley –

MASS MoCA’d…

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Amid all the Halloween-related fun last week and a busy workload at my office this week- I’d nearly forgotten to share some of my photos from a recent outing to MASS MoCA I had gone on when my dear friend Troy surprised me with day passes one rainy afternoon about a week or so ago.

The last time I’d been at MASS MoCA (The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art,) I’d gone to see Maggie Rogers perform at an outdoor space in the museum’s courtyard during the Summer. An unexpected and pretty wild thunderstorm forced the crowd inside for a while- so I got to see parts of the museum/exhibits while we waited for conditions to become safe enough to venture back outdoors and continue with the show as scheduled.

I had mentioned to Troy, who was also with me during that outing- that I had wanted to come back and see the museum in it’s entirety someday.

And what better day to do it than a chilly October afternoon when it was pouring outside?

We walked from room to room, wing to wing, for a few hours while the rain beat down on the roof above us. It was a beautiful, relaxing day. Some of the exhibits stood out to me than others- like James Turrell’s “Into The Light,” Rafa Esparza’s “staring at the sun,” and my girl Annie Lennox’s “Now I Let You Go”- but overall it was a really incredible experience.

And, naturally- I snapped photos! To enlarge any of the images below, simply click!

Afterwards, Troy and I wrapped up the evening with an early dinner at Freight Yard Pub (in North Adams)– which was superb- before it was time to head home, dry off and warm up from the rain.

Such a good day.

I’m off to work bright and early today as usual- but a little later on this week I’ll have a peek inside my Fall makeup collection and some links to where you can buy what I’m wearing before we break for the weekend.

Until then- enjoy your “Hump Day,” everybody!

xx

– Ashley –

“If you leave the light on- then I’ll leave the light on…”

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We did it! The week is pretty much over!

Have you ever had a day/night that was so perfect- just a whirlwind of excitement, unexpected moments, picturesque scenery, incredible company and, if you’re lucky- a fantastic soundtrack to back all of it up- that when the night is over you can’t sleep because you just don’t want any of it to end?

I’ve had a few nights like that throughout my life- but this past Tuesday night was definitely one of them and a really wonderful way to wrap up July.

I’ve never been to MASS MoCA before- which is now a good 45 minutes away from me as opposed to the 2+ hours away it was before I moved. So, when Troy extended an invitation last week for me to come see Maggie Rogers perform there this past Tuesday night- I jumped at the chance. The weather was going to be beautiful (I’ll get to that momentarily) and there’s really nothing quite like spending a beautiful Summer night listening to good music in a new place and with someone you absolutely cherish who can make you laugh ’til it hurts. It’s magic.

The drive to MASS MoCA took us through a portion of the Mohawk Trail- which was absolutely incredible. I’m pretty sure I stayed glued to my window like someone who had never seen rocks and trees before but it was breathtaking and exploring more of it is definitely on my “Summer 2019 Bucket List” now.

The stage/show itself was set in an outdoor courtyard looking area of the museum- between a series of wings of contemporary art. It was a really unique setup that provided great surround sound as we settled in and watched the opening band. It *also* provided a pretty good few of a storm that was starting to roll in from the distance.

By the time Maggie took the stage, we had what looked like a heat lightning storm looming overhead. It didn’t look/feel dangerous- almost like fireworks- but we had been warned that if things started to take a turn for the worse, the show would be delayed until everyone got the okay to return to their designated seating/standing areas.

Sure enough- the storm got worse mid-set, and we were told we’d have to take refuge in the museum until it blew over. We were ushered into one of the wings just as the torrential downpour started- with way more severe lightning.

But, we’re not quitters- we never have been- and we used the time to walk around the wing of the museum we were being kept in (so I essentially got to see some art for free- always appreciated!) before the Powers That Be deemed it was safe enough to go back outside. Maggie, bless her heart- was a trooper and finished her set spectacularly even with some light drizzle and fog. It was incredible.

And even though I was feeling pretty tired while working from home on Wednesday morning- and certainly looked a little haggard pre-coffee- it was without question one of the best nights of 2019 thus far and I’m so, so thankful to Troy for bringing me along for the experience.

While I didn’t have my “professional” camera on me (it’s so heavy!) I did manage to snap some photos throughout the chaos with my phone. You know the drill- click on a photo to enlarge!

I’m thinking of heading to MASS MoCA on the next rainy day to see the rest of the museum since I was so captivated by the wing I had been hiding out during the storm. I’m itching to see what else there is to check out!

But for now- I’m off to get started on my work day. Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be hosting my usual 12-4 show on Indie617 before I head on over to Salem for a performance and prepare for a little post-show pampering Sunday morning!

See you all again on Monday. Have a great weekend!

xx

– Ashley –

Gardners and Gardens…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

I hope you’ve all recovered from “Springing Forward” with Daylight Savings Time yesterday morning. I am admittedly still a little bit out of it- especially since I typically go to work so early in the morning- but I should be adjusted and good to go within a couple of days. I know I’m going to feel much better when I can leave work and be able to get in a workout while it’s still light outside!

Prior to time traveling an hour on Sunday morning, I spent a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon browsing the galleries at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum– which is a stone’s throw away from the Museum of Fine Arts here in Boston (another favorite weekend spot of mine!)

I was a kid the last time I visited Isabella Stewart Gardner’s collections- but the museum is just as breathtaking and beautiful as I remember- and the enclosed indoor courtyard was so lush and green that it made me forget all about the fact that there was a lot of snow and slush melting just a few yards away outside whenever I walked around it! It was like I had been transported to a private villa in a tropical destination somewhere.

Well, somewhat private anyway. The museum was surprisingly packed full of people to the point where I felt claustrophobic at times trying to get in and out of rooms/wings- and I normally don’t get like that in crowds at all!

And, not to get preachy- but I have to say it- I love a good selfie as much as the next person. I think it’s wonderful for people to feel good about themselves and have fun and want to share that with the world. Post as many selfies as you want and I will like them all- but if the process of getting the perfect photo involves a full-blown photo shoot that obstructs other people’s views of something or delays/inconveniences others- then you should really reconsider your process and make changes to accommodate and be more considerate to the people around you.

While trying to see a painting yesterday, I had to wait about 15-20 minutes for a clear view while more than one person held up the crowds of people so they could pose, examine the photo, pose again, edit the picture, select a filter- and finally choose the hashtags they wanted on their social media post. It was, frankly, obnoxious and really put a damper on what was otherwise a lovely day.

All I’m saying is that if you can’t get the photo you want within a couple of minutes, maybe loop around and try again a little later so that others can enjoy their stay, too! It’s not the end of the world- I promise!

The only other reason I could think of for the crowds was that this month marks the 29th anniversary of the infamous museum heist that took place there when two thieves, posing as Boston Police Officers- tied up the guards assigned to look after the museum overnight and made out with $500 million worth of paintings that have yet to be recovered.

13 works were stolen total- and the pieces are commemorated around the museum with empty frames where they were once displayed. It was a bit of a treasure hunt trying to locate all the vacated spots as I went from room to room.

Below are some photos I snapped during my stay. As always- you can just click them to enlarge them!

I had a really nice time, despite the aforementioned crowds and impromptu, doorway-blocking modeling sessions. I’d love to go back on a less busy day and spend a little more time in each room!

A little later on this week I’m sharing some pastels in a new OOTD post- and doing some pre-Spring cleaning- both in my home and here on the blog. I’ll have the updates, as well as my tips and tricks ready to share soon. I’m no Marie Kondo by any means- but my system has been working for me!

But with it being Monday, I’ve got to dive into work and get a head start on a busy week. Here’s hoping you all have a good day! Stay strong!

xx

– Ashley –

My 10 Favorite Photos From 2018

Good Morning and Happy Friday (the last one of 2018), everyone!

Before we break for the weekend and I finish writing my recap of this past year- which will be up on Monday morning- I wanted to take a photographic journey through 2018 and share some of my absolute favorite pictures I’ve snapped over these past twelve months and the stories behind them.

Going through my phone’s camera roll, my tablet’s drive and my Instagram feed over the course of my Christmas break has been a delightful and sometimes nostalgic walk through memory lane. The people I saw! The places I traveled to! The things I got to experience! 2018 was the year I made “getting away” and sightseeing both home and afar a priority- and I was very fortunate to capture many of my journeys in various snapshots.

Of course- and this happens every year I’ve been participating in this fun little tradition across social media and on my blogs, past and present- narrowing down my wide assortment of photos and then putting them in an order I deemed fit or appropriate proved to be a challenge.

But I worked tirelessly- and I think these photos tell a beautiful story about my life this past year- and I hope you all enjoy them as much as I do.

Without further delay, here are my 10 Favorite Photos From 2018!

10. After The Storm (Worcester – October 2018):

During a series of wild weather in the Fall- which included more than one severe thunderstorm, insane hail, and tornado warnings in Central Massachusetts as the weeks wore on- one storm in particular, which hit as the sun was beginning to set on what had been an otherwise uneventful weekday- ended up delivering the most breathtaking visuals.

After being advised to find cover as quarter-sized hail began to fall in Worcester County- the tornado warning was eventually cancelled and I ventured outside to make sure the hail hadn’t damaged my windshield (it thankfully hadn’t!) This semi-intimidating visual of the storm moving away was what I saw, instead.

The dark, ominous clouds against the bright blue sky was one of the coolest- and scariest- things I’d ever seen.

9. Springtime in The City (Boston – April 2018):

Boston is one of those rare and fortunate cities that can look beautiful regardless of the climate or weather. Old cobblestone streets, beautiful brownstones and large, spacious parks filled with pathways and trees are lovely when they’re blanketed in snow, changing foliage or petals during Springtime blooms.

Such was the case this past April when I had ventured to Back Bay to run a couple of errands and happened to have a few moments to admire the trees that line the sidewalks blossoming as the warmer weather stuck around longer and Spring inched it’s way closer to us.

This tree in particular, blooming in front of a chocolate-colored brownstone and spreading pink petals all over the stairs- was my favorite.

8. One-On-One with Obama (Washington D.C. – May 2018):

While recovering from a night-out during a weekend trip to Washington D.C.- I found myself at the National Portrait Gallery while on a quest to find coffee- approximately ten minutes before the gallery opened to visitors for the day. Wanting to see the newly acquired portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama- I opted to put my caffeine fix on hold and check them out…

… And ended up being the first one in the building *and* the first one at Obama’s portrait. There was momentarily no line, and I got to really admire just how cool this painting was/is and how fitting it was for my (still) favorite President.

Side Note: Michelle’s portrait was beautiful, too!

7. The Bridge of Flowers (Shelburne Falls – June 2018);

During one of my Summer weekends out in the Pioneer Valley where I got involved with theater and dance and embraced nature and the laid-back Western Massachusetts way of life- I also made a stop at the famous Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls to soak up the scenery and snap some photos of the hundreds of blooms left undisturbed along the waterside footbridge.

Out of all the pictures I snapped that day- this one was my favorite. Between the flowers, the river, and the old houses and mills along the waterside- there’s a reason I spend so much time out in that area and I think this photo captures it perfectly. It’s a little piece of heaven.

6. Birthday By The Beach (San Diego – January 2018):

This past year I had wanted to spend my birthday someplace warm and sunny since nearly every single one leading up to now had been spent in bitter New England cold, sleet and snow. I wanted to celebrate another year on this Earth on a beach with my feet in the sand and the sun on my face.

I got my wish- and then some- with this beautiful sunset at Ocean Beach in San Diego the night before my birthday while I was out getting tacos and beer with longtime friends that live in the area.

What you can’t see in this photograph are how big the waves were as they crashed against the rocks. It was awe-inspiring and took my breath away,

5. Shadowplay (George’s Island – July 2018):

During a Summer outing on the water and a few miles away from Boston Harbor, my best friend and I made a quick stop at Georges Island where we explored Fort Warren and hoped to have an encounter with the infamous ‘Lady in Black’ ghost while crawling through darkened corridors and long-abandoned living quarters.

While we didn’t find any supernatural entities- we did find an old gunpowder storage room which was nearly pitch black if not for a small bit of sunlight that poured in through the entrance way. My friend snapped this photo of my silhouette while I was dancing around and otherwise making an ass out of myself- and I loved how it came out.

Note to self: spend more time out by the Harbor next Summer.

4. In the Hot, Hot Sun (Nevada – September 2018):

While spending a week divided between Nevada and California back in September- my WCW (West Coast Wife) and dearest friend, Kelsey, and I headed out to the desert to check out the Seven Magic Mountains roadside attraction/art installation miles outside the Las Vegas strip and to roast under the sun for a little while.

Sure, the art installation was pretty neat- and provided some shade at different angles-but the surrounding desert itself wowed me, too. I snapped this photo while disregarding a rattlesnake warning sign since it felt like we were truly in the middle of nowhere- and it was pretty awesome.

3. Takashi Murakami Exhibit (Boston – January 2018):

Trying to escape Boston’s snow, ice and bitter cold earlier this year- I ducked into the Museum of Fine Arts one lazy Saturday to catch a peek of the Takashi Murakami exhibit- among other works. The pieces- bright and fun and more than a little crazy- warmed me right up and were such an experience to look at as I went from room to room in the gallery.

This photo, where I had attempted to capture one of the larger illustrations on display in the gallery- was made even better by the family who ended up crossing and eventually standing in front of me. I thought their silhouettes, dark in contrast to the bright colors in the Murakami piece- ended up creating a very cool photo.

2. High Rolling in Vegas (Las Vegas – February 2018):

During 2018’s Super Bowl (which I don’t want to talk about…)– I was staying in Vegas for a brief vacation to visit friends and check out real estate. Splurging a bit, I booked a room at The Cosmopolitan- and the view from my room was nothing short of incredible. This photo, snapped in the middle of the night- looked like something off of a postcard- and was what I showed everyone and anyone who asked about the highlights from my trip.

The only downside is that after having such an amazing view of the Strip- I don’t think I can stay at any other hotel in Vegas ever again! I mean, how do you top something like this?!

1. Love of My Life (Colby Farm – August 2018):

In August, wanting to spend a perfect and Sunny ‘National Dog Day’ with my beloved Oliver (and my mom, who I also love very much)– the three of us piled into my car and headed to the famed Colby Farm to see their vast and endless fields of sunflowers while they were at peak bloom.

Between the flowers, the huge fields to run around in, and playing with other dogs who were also there that day- Oliver looked positively ecstatic. This was taken while my mom was holding him so I could adjust his leash- and I couldn’t stop laughing over how it looked like he was smiling.

I’ve since printed and framed this picture- both for myself and for my mom- and it is hands down my favorite photo from 2018.

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And that, my dear readers- is my Top Ten Photos of this year. So many fond memories and wonderful moments that I will look back on and cherish forever.

If you’d like to share some of your own favorite photos or memories from 2018- feel free to leave a comment or drop me a line! I’d love to hear about them!

But, for now- I’ve got to get some work done since it’s my last day at the office for the remainder of this year. I’ll be off on Monday and Tuesday- and I’ve got one grand finale of a post to share bright and early first thing on New Year’s Eve!

Enjoy your Friday and your weekend, everyone! Make it count!

xx

– Ashley –