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 –

Favorites: January 2019!

Good Morning and Happy Tuesday, everyone!

I know it’s early on in the week- but I hope it’s going well for you all so far! I’ve been working (of course) and enjoying a couple of warmer-than-expected days with friends in the outdoors- but February is just a few days away and it’s time for me to compile the things, products, odds and ends that I absolutely adored and was otherwise obsessed with this past month!

It’s a new year- and I’ve got some new followers- so I’ll just give a quick explanation. At the end of every month- I always, without fail- share two posts. One, which falls on the very last day of the month- is a recap of the previous days/weeks. The highs and lows, miscellaneous adventures and photos that didn’t quite fit in with any of my other scheduled content, etc. That post (which will be up this Thursday!) is my “In a Nutshell” post.

Before that, though- I photograph and do a little write-up of all the things I bought, found, was gifted, discovered, etc. that made the month all the more sensational. That would be this post you’re reading right now- and it’s my “Favorites” of January 2019!

But perhaps just simply showing you all the things I loved this month would be a little easier than trying to explain the process. So, without further delay…

First things, first- 2019 is all about keeping organized- and I turn to this lovely little teal and gold sparkly weekly planner from Orange Circle Studio! I write everything in here- my appointments, due dates for bills, meetings, scheduled blog content, plans with friends/family, and goals for each month.

This planner is the perfect size where it fits right into my purse- which means I can take it with me wherever I go in case anything comes up while I’m on the road- and the bright colors and shimmer stand out if I have it on my desk and need to find it in a flash. It definitely doesn’t get lost in the shuffle!

Speaking of staying organized- now that I’m working with my favorite theater company in the Pioneer Valley- there’s a lot of meetings and lot of information I need to keep track of! Not wanting to carry around a flimsy notepad or cover my space with post-it notes- I treated myself to this faux-leather bound Kate Spade notepad and binder.

The motto on the front, “Let’s Talk Shop”- is a nice touch that *I* think makes me look like I’m all business.

I mean, it does- right?

The lining in my wallet I’ve had for a few years now was finally starting to tear/shred and fray- and I decided that for the new year I’d treat myself to a new one. I am absolutely, head-over-heels in love with this New England Harbors-themed one from Spartina 449. It’s like a cute map of home and reminds me of some of my favorite places here in New England no matter where I travel.

The wallet has a ton of space, too- and it holds all of my cards, money, ID, etc. and then some. It’s definitely a welcomed upgrade!

As a belated-Christmas/early-Birthday present this year, my cousin Paige surprised me with this portrait of Oliver- done by the tremendously talented Tami Draws Stuff. It’s so accurate and so adorable and is presently hanging in my office next to an actual photograph of Oliver.

My co-workers absolutely love it. I linked to Tami’s Etsy shop above, so if you or someone you know has a fur-baby you’d like to get a personalized portrait of- either for yourself or as a gift- definitely check her out! Her work is really impressive and oh so cute!

Another Christmas present that I’ve been using pretty much non-stop lately is this gray/black pom-topped beanie from Crane Clothing Company my sister-in-law had given me. I have a collection of beanies (I do live in New England, after all-) but not too many of them have the poms on them so this is such a fun addition to my assortment and one that matches pretty much everything in my Winter wardrobe.

Also, it’s super comfortable and doesn’t move around when I have it on. There’s nothing worse than a beanie that keeps slipping down over your eyes when you’re trying to get things done!

Finally, to close out this month’s collection of items I was able to snap photos of- I’ve been indulging in some serious LUSH treatment throughout January. Specifically, their chocolate lip scrub (which works amazing and tastes delicious)– and their Oatifix mask/facial cleanser. I really love using this mask every few days- not only because it makes my skin smell like an oatmeal cookie- but because it clears out my pores in my oily areas while simultaneously hydrating and calming my dry areas.

This mask is perfect for combination skin- and even more perfect for combination skin during the Winter! It’s a lifesaver for me!

That’s it for the products- but a couple of other things made my list for January ’19, too!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

‘Surviving R. Kelly’ – The Lifetime Network, notorious for bad biopics and tantalizing thrillers for bored housewives, delivered a knockout punch to disgraced R&B singer R.Kelly earlier this month with their six-part docu-series detailing the singer’s troubled past, his multiple victims, and the people in his camp who enabled and assisted him with his abusing underaged girls and the subsequent cover-ups and payoffs.

The series is gripping, heartbreaking, and at times- difficult to watch- but it’s a story that needed to be told and was long overdue. I really hope that within the fallout from it’s premiere- R.Kelly finally gets put in jail and his victims find closure and peace.

– GAMES/APPS –

‘Resident Evil 2’ – The remake of one of my all-time favorite classic horror video games I’ve been waiting months for dropped last week and I have to say that it’s AWESOME so far. Between the graphics, the gameplay, the jump scares and the story (lightly altered but still pretty true to the original)– this is a huge win for Capcom and for the ‘Resident Evil’ franchise as a whole- which has sort of gone off the rails in recent years.

I can’t wait for the weekend so I can keep playing it without being interrupted by anyone or anything!

And there it is- my Favorites from January of 2019! A decent collection of things, if I do say so myself!

My recap of the month will be up on Thursday (and there’s so much to talk about!) but until then- I’m off to get some work done and make some dinner plans!

If you’d like to drop me a line or leave a comment to tell me some of your favorite things from January- feel free! I’d love to hear about them!

And there’s still some time to enter my BIRTHDAY GIVEAWAY BY CLICKING HERE IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY!

See you all soon!

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 –

Notes From the Desert…

Good Morning (and Good Afternoon to everyone back home!) and greetings from fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada!

I’m popping in to check my e-mails and keep this blog going in-between vigorously applying moisturizer and chap stick (it’s very, very dry here) before I get ready to go get some food and enjoy my final hours in the desert before my friend Kelsey and I pack up to head out to San Diego tomorrow morning for the second leg of my West Coast trip.

I think a common misconception about spending any length of time in Vegas is that the bulk of things to do revolves around the Strip- and when you’ve done all the drinking, gambling and sight-seeing you can- there’s not much else left for Vegas to offer. But, this is untrue- because while the Strip is certainly the heartbeat of the city- there’s still so much to do/see and enjoy well beyond the rows and rows of casinos, showgirls, and $9 margarita stands.

For example, Kelsey and I have been keeping it local around the surrounding suburbs of Henderson and Summerlin. I’m getting to know areas I’ll be residing in/near shortly- including restaurants, bars, shops and roadside attractions. Yesterday, after driving a few miles and well into the desert- we stopped at Seven Magic Mountains- an art installation in the middle of nowhere. The “mountains”, spray-painted boulders stacked up on top of each other- are a “blink and you’ll miss them” attraction from the roadside.

And up close? They were pretty cool- even when we were baking in the sun while taking photos of them.

Of course, last night saw us at Peppermill (my favorite!) for burgers and drinks, followed by a quick stop at Fremont Street and at the Cosmopolitan for a nightcap- but even spending the afternoon away from slot machines and club promoters was a welcomed change of pace and a lot of fun. I’m really looking forward to finally moving here and doing more exploring. A couple of days never feels like enough time!

But I’m starving and in need of a shower and some sunscreen. More updates from the road will follow- and be sure to check out my INSTAGRAM for more!

See you all soon!

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 –