Rainy Days and Book Stores…

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

When I had initially announced my impending move to the Pioneer Valley earlier this month, I had mentioned that I wanted to highlight some of my favorite places to pass the time out that way. For any of you who have followed this blog or it’s past incarnations- you probably know that I predominantly write about restaurants/bars/shops/attractions in the Boston area or around my hometown in Central Massachusetts.

Being out in Western Massachusetts, close to the Berkshires, and truly in one of the most beautiful, clean, environmentally conscious and artistic parts of New England opens the doors for me to discover and share so many new people, places and things will all of you- and I knew right away that an old favorite (but a goody!) would be first on my list to reacquaint myself with.

The Montague Book Mill, which is a used book store, art gallery and restaurant(s) within an old mill from the mid-1800s- is one of my favorite places to go, curl up by the window with a good read, sip a cup of tea and just relax/zone out for a couple of hours while I listen to the nearby Sawmill River flow past.

I’m never the only one with this idea, and the Mill have utilized a lot of their nooks and crannies by turning them into quiet, peaceful places for those looking to work/study without interruption and in a unique location.

I haven’t been in a few years- but made it a point to stop by on Monday during my day off while the rain was falling outside. As always, I ended up exploring and snapping some photos!

To see the enlarged version, just click the picture!

Before I left to head back home, I popped into The Lady Killigrew Cafe for an early dinner (their brie, apricot jam and marinated apples sandwich rules!) and a quick cup of coffee. How I’ve missed that place. I promised myself I wouldn’t wait another 2-3 years before I went back again- and now that I’ll be living less than 30 minutes away- it’s a promise I can keep!

I’ll be back in the area tonight after work to meet up with Troy for dinner and drinks- and will more than likely make another appearance over the weekend since I’m on the prowl for new furniture.

Until then, though- it’s all about getting things done at my office and getting some caffeine in me as soon as possible!

Enjoy your “Hump Day”, everyone! See you all again on Friday!

xx

– Ashley –

Favorites: February 2019!

Good Morning and Happy Tuesday, everyone!

It’s a short posting week for me- both because of how busy my schedule is over the next couple of days and also because of the way the last day of the month and the first day of March falls. Before I jump into Daylight Savings Time, Saint Patrick’s Day, and the beginning of Spring- I wanted to share a few of my favorite things from February- including some skin care, makeup, and a book I have not been able to put down since I started reading it about a week or so ago!

My full re-cap of the month will be up on Thursday- but until then- here’s my Favorites from February 2019!

And, as usual- the other odds and ends that I couldn’t quite capture with a camera will follow the photos and details below.

Every few months, when I’m running low on body wash and lotions- I like to stop by Bath & Body Works to take advantage of their “Buy 3/Get 3 Free” sales (such a good deal!) and stock up. With Winter winding down and my bottles and containers of pumpkin and mint-scented body care nearly empty- I’ve got Spring and floral scents on my mind.

To leap into a new season and a new fragrance, I made my semi-annual trip earlier this month and picked up the newest addition to their collection- the ‘Rose’ body wash, lotion, and perfume mist. The scent, which is a lovely combination of rose, jasmine and musk- is sweet and light- not heavy and overpowering.

It’s perfect for this time of year and I look forward to using it every morning when I’m getting ready to start my day!

With an impending change in the seasons ahead- I’ll undoubtedly need to re-tweak my skin/hair care routine and products to stay ahead of the temperature and climate shifts here in New England. Until then, however- I’ve got to keep myself hydrated and protected against the still bitter cold that has remained strong and fierce where I live.

Lately I’ve been incorporating an extra step into my morning and evening skin care- this Vitamin C-loaded and lightweight ‘C.E.O. Glow’ serum from Sunday Riley. A couple of drops covers my entire face post-toning and pre-moisturizer- and the result is a softer, smoother, noticeably brighter complexion.

My skin feels amazing after I apply this stuff- and since I began using it earlier this month- I’ve noticed that some darker spots that typically pop up during PMS vanished in a matter of days and haven’t been back since. Consider me a lifelong fan!

With February being the month of all things Valentine’s Day, it should come as no surprise that I turned to a lot of pinks and reds with my makeup, fashion and accessories choices over the past few weeks. Two of my favorites- for my lips and my nails, respectively- were bright, fun- and got a lot of compliments.

First, I looked no further for a bold, neon pink lip than Fenty’s Stunna Lip Paint in their latest shade, “Unlocked”. Super pigmented, non-drying, and ultra long-lasting (my lips stay slightly tinted for a day or so after I take this off with makeup remover- that’s how strong it is!)– this liquid-to-matte lipstick definitely turns heads and had me feeling a bit more romantic each time I wore it.

Not to be outdone, I relied on NCLA’s red/pink polish in “Call My Agent” to get my digits through the month of February unscathed. I love this Vegan and cruelty-free cream polish- which adds so much color and shine to my nails without all the harmful chemicals.

Best of all? It’s pretty resilient, too-which means I don’t need to touch up my nails every couple of hours!

This absolutely adorable red beret with floral accents made an appearance on Blondie Birdie last week, and it is definitely one of my favorite accessories from this past month. I wear it everywhere- and will probably continue to do so right up until the moment Spring is here to stay.

The hat, a gift from a friend of mine, is just the right amount of vintage and cutesy charm to make me look like a starlett from the Classical Hollywood era whenever I have it on. It goes with everything, too- from wool coats to fancy sweaters to jeans and t-shirts on my more casual days.

I love the fit, the color, and the flowers that stand out along the side!

A show that made the ‘Favorites’ cut this month (which I’ll get to in just a moment) was inspired by the memoir and fascinating true life/true crime story I’ve been lowkey obsessed with for a while now. Fauna Hodel, granddaughter of the notorious George Hodel- a prominent physician and aristocrat in Los Angeles during the 30s and 40s who was thought to be the perpetrator behind the still unsolved ‘Black Dahlia’ murder- spent the first part of her life with an adoptive black family in Nevada. When she finds out who she really is- she sets off to find her real family- and uncovers the most INSANE secrets.

Honestly, the phrase “truth is stranger than fiction” has never been more appropriate than it is for Fauna and this book is one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve read.

And with that, my photogenic favorites are complete- but as they say in infomercials- wait! There’s a little bit more!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

‘I Am The Night’ – The TNT-based miniseries, which draws inspiration from Fauna Hodel’s memoirs- definitely strays from the book in terms of action, suspense, and additional characters- but the core story is still there and it’s beautifully shot, directed, and acted.

I love when Patty Jenkins and Chris Pine make magic together- and this series is no exception!

Okay, NOW my monthly “Favorites” post is completed!

A little later on this week- I’ll take a look back on February 2019 from start-to-finish (with some recent travel photos added in, as well!) but if you’d like to share some of your favorite things from this past month before then- I’d love to hear about them! Leave a comment or drop me a line!

See you all again on Thursday!

xx

– Ashley –

“Love is a great beautifier…”

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it to another weekend (thank goodness!)

Today marks another later-than-usual afternoon post and what I hope will serve as the period or otherwise final punctuation mark on what has been a pretty busy week for me! I had mentioned it on Wednesday right before sharing my Mozzarella-Stuffed Pizza Bread/Super Bowl recipe, but the beginning of this week was packed with work (as usual,) the Patriots celebration parade, and my dear friend Duncan visiting from San Diego/Chicago while he was in town for a job interview and conference.

Additionally, shortly after receiving my car back last week following the repairs for the hit and run accident I had been involved in last month right before my birthday- I had to turn right back around and return my poor Hyundai to my mechanic again for unrelated brake repairs/replacement.

If I never have to drive a rental car again, it’ll be too soon!

I digress- as tired and sleepy as I am right now- I’m grateful that my car is fixed and that I’ve been able to stay active and productive- all things considered! I *definitely* earned the mani/pedi I’m going to treat myself to this weekend, though. At least that’s how I’m justifying it!

Despite a hectic schedule these past few days, I did manage to take some time for a relaxing day trip to picturesque Concord, Massachusetts- where I visited Louisa May Alcott’s house to scratch yet another historic New England location/landmark off of my 2019 travel bucket list!

I love historic homes, Concord in general, and “Little Women,” so to be able to learn more about all three and about a much beloved author from my state in the same place and at the same time was an exquisite way to spend an afternoon off.

Although photography inside the Alcott home is prohibited given how old some of the artwork and relics are- photos of the exterior are encouraged and I was able to get the loveliest pictures just as the sun was starting to set.

Now that things seem to thankfully be calming down and returning to normal (someone, anyone reading this right now knock on wood for me, please!) I can try to relax and focus on the evening and days ahead. I’m having dinner with my family tonight as part of our planned bi-weekly get-togethers- and next week is all about Gal-entine’s Day, Valentine’s Day- and my latest take on the celebrations- Pal-entine’s Day (for your pals, of course!)

I’ll have a recipe for a romantic dinner fit for two you can cook up in 30 minutes or less to share, a look at one of my favorite holiday-appropriate-but-still-casual date night outfits- and some photos from planned weekend travel and day trips I have coming up within the next 48 hours!

But for now, I’m off to eat a quick lunch and head back to work and meetings for a couple more hours.

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful and relaxing weekend! See you all again on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –

Favorites: February 2018!

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone! What a wild weekend I had- which I’ll be talking about in a couple of days when I share my month’s-end “In a Nutshell” post- but for now it’s back to work for me, while simultaneously grieving over last night’s mid-season premiere of ‘The Walking Dead’ (for real- I cried so much that it was actually kind of gross.)

But before I dive into my morning meetings, e-mails and phone calls- I wanted to share some of my favorite things from this past month. Admittedly, there isn’t a lot of products/items since I did a pretty significant amount of traveling throughout February and many of my favorites from January carried over as a result- but there were a few things that stood out and even more odds and ends that I couldn’t photograph that made the list!

Let’s get right into it, shall we?

Despite fluctuating temperatures here in Massachusetts, it’s still pretty cold at night, and this mermaid tail blanket- a gift from my Aunt and Uncle earlier this year- has definitely come in handy on the nights I’ve spent throughout this month lounging on the couch and watching TV or getting some late night work done from the comfort of my dining room table.  This blanket is really warm and really fun- and has made more than one appearance in a selfie or on my Snapchat throughout the past couple of weeks.

Oddly enough, I recently read an article where someone said the mermaid and unicorn-themed clothing and accessories for adults are “juvenile”- which to that, I say- awesome. I’m warm, and that’s all that matters!

I’ve been wearing a lot of turtleneck sweaters lately, which makes accessorizing my neck a little difficult unless I go for statement pieces that are big and bold. I recently rediscovered this peacock necklace that my mother had given to me a couple of Christmases ago and I’ve been rocking it to work and out on the town nearly every day/night ever since.

I love the teal and purple colors- which stand out against my usual Winter-neutral shades of black, tan, and grey- and matching my eye shadow or eye liner to them proves for a fun, pre-Spring look without getting overly light and bright too prematurely.

With plans to potentially move out West later on this Fall, I’ve been revisiting something I’ve had on my ‘Bucket List’ for quite a few years but have never had the opportunity to complete until now. I’m talking about traveling cross-country on the remnants of what was formerly Route 66- complete with cheesy roadside attractions, cheap motels, diner food, and an amazing classic rock playlist.

I picked up this book a while back to see what this journey had to offer- and although it’s a little outdated- a lot of the attractions are still very much in existence (The Blue Whale of Catoosa! Cadillac Ranch! Prada Marfa!) I’ve been enjoying researching the must-sees and marking them down along my personal route map now and then over the past few weeks. It’s going to be an adventure!

And finally, one skin care product I’ve been obsessed with as of late. When I returned from my trip to Vegas earlier this month, my skin needed some serious TLC. The dryness of the desert, followed up by the harsh cold here in New England when I came back home- did a number on my complexion. I turned to this gel textured, 10-minute mask from First Aid Beauty to even out my face- restoring moisture, softening rough areas, and brightening any dull spots that appeared along the way.

I swear by this mask- which I use 2x a week- and achieve fantastic results every single time!

And I think that’s it for the photogenic stuff! Moving on, however-

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

‘Far Out\Thaw Out’ – I had shared my most recent, Spring-inspired playlist on 8Tracks a few days ago here on the blog, but it’s worth mentioning again because I truly love each song I hand selected for it and have been listening to them on a rotation (typically on my way to and from work) and thought it was worth posting again!

‘Black Panther’ – WAKANDA FOREVER. Not since ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ have I been so thoroughly in love with a MCU movie as I am with ‘Black Panther’ right now. It was perfect from start to finish- and I have to give a standing ovation to my Queen, Danai Gurira (who rules on ‘The Walking Dead’, too!) I practically shrieked with joy when she showed up on my screen.

I’m actually planning on seeing it again this week with friends who haven’t had the privilege of watching it yet- and I’m just as excited as I was the first time around!

– GAMES/APPS –

Overcooked – I can’t remember the last time a video game caused my friends and I to frantically scream burger ingredients to each other, but here we are. My BFF Sean discovered this game and wasted no time in getting the rest of us on board- but we’ve been obsessively playing it at get togethers all month and we’re showing no signs of stopping any time soon.

The premise seems simple, but the execution can get complicated REAL quick. You play as little cartoon chefs and have to prepare, cook, and serve recipes in the order that they come in. Once the recipes become more complicated and the orders start coming in faster and faster- things turn into an absolute shit show. Our group’s friendship has been tested- more than once- with this game. Over cartoon cheeseburgers, of all things.

And I think that’s it for my February Favorites! I’m off to get some work done- and I hope you all have a great start to your week! Here’s hoping your Monday goes by quickly and painlessly!

xx

– Ashley –

POPSUGAR Must Have Box Review: November 2017

Good Evening, everyone! I hope you all made it through your Mondays unscathed. It feels a bit odd to be updating my blog at night as opposed to first thing in the morning, but I experienced a bit of technical difficulty this past weekend when my laptop- the one I’ve had and have been using since I started college (I’m a firm believer in “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”)– finally died out on me for good.

After my initial freak-out, followed by a proper burial and a stunning rendition of “Taps” on trumpet (just kidding- I just packaged it up to have it taken apart by the manufacturer)– I had to make the switch over to my trusty little tablet for all my e-mail and blogging purposes. Of course, transferring all of my stuff took a little bit of time- hence this semi-late night post!

To start off this week of scheduled posts, I wanted to share what I received in this month’s POPSUGAR “Must Have” Box- which arrived at my doorstep late last week and prior to the aforementioned laptop implosion. It was another good one, which should come as a surprise to no one who has been actively reading my reviews of the service.

But let’s take a look inside!

This month’s theme/inspirations go hand-in-hand with the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday: SWEET, GATHER, GRATEFUL, FAMILY and HOST. I only knew one spoiler for this month’s box thanks to POPSUGAR’s e-mail list- so I’ll go ahead and share that, first!

I don’t typically get invested in celebrity couples and never understood the media’s obsession with them- but I fully admit I thought Anna Faris and Chris Pratt were adorable- if only because they’re both so incredibly likable individually, as well. I was thrilled when I found out I’d be receiving a hardcover copy of Anna’s new book, “Unqualified”, where she offers up relationship advice based on her own awkward encounters and hilarious history over the years.

The foreword, penned by Pratt- is sweet and equally funny in it’s own way. I’m really looking forward to sitting down with this during the coming weekend to read it cover to cover!

One of my favorite items in this month’s “Must Have” box is this simple, chic and sturdy rose gold metal headband by Chloe + Isabel (in partnership with celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin). Forgive how messy my hair looks in the above-photo. I’d been out in that oh-so-wonderful Massachusetts rain/fog right before I’d taken it- but the headband still looks lovely, doesn’t it? It’s very comfortable and classes up even the messiest of ponytails!

I love, love LOVE Tarte products- so receiving their ‘PRO Glow To Go Highlight Contour Palette’ was like having Christmas come early this year! I’m a big fan of natural, subtle shimmer lately- and the shades in this palette are so pretty and complimentary against my skin tone. They’re easy to blend and create both bold and everyday looks with ease.

But wait- there’s more!

Time for a snack break! It’s that time of year when peppermint reigns supreme- so I’m really looking forward to munching on these dark chocolate and peppermint covered pretzel rods from Fatty Sundays at work this week when I take a much-needed break in the afternoons. I’m already confident they taste amazing- but it needs to be mentioned that they also look so pretty, too! Talk about Instagram-worthy.

Anytime I get gift wrap around the holidays is a time when I’m thankful indeed- especially when it’s a unique and interesting print that sets my presents for my friends and loved ones apart. Case in point- this newspaper gift wrap (where the pattern sort of reminds me of a rock climbing wall for some reason!) from Knot & Bow which I’ll be using for some of my upcoming Christmas shopping now that I’m getting more and more into the holiday spirit!

Finally, one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in a POPSUGAR “Must Have” Box (and are sure to be a hit at Thanksgiving!) are these chalkboard style paper placemat setting pieces from Hester & Cook– with the appropriate pencils to allow for freestyle doodling. My niece- who often sets the table at my family’s get togethers- is going to LOVE these. Designing the seating for some of the guests at Thanksgiving this year is going to be a dream come true for her considering how artistic she is.

I’m so excited to see the look on her face when she realizes what these are!

Now, I never really have problems with POPSUGAR because they almost always hit it out of the park with their “Must Have” boxes, but unfortunately- there was one hiccup with November’s assortment of items- and that was that something was missing. Apparently, I was supposed to receive a $25 voucher to BloomThat– but it was nowhere to be found- even after I turned the box upside down looking for it.

The voucher must have slipped through the cracks. It’s not the end of the world, of course- but it is a little disappointing since it would have been useful to pick up a lovely bouquet to set at my mother’s table for Thanksgiving.

Oh well.

Apart from that teeny, tiny setback- I loved November’s “Must Have” Box. It was fun, festive, and full of lovely surprises. Next month will be the annual Christmas box- and I can’t wait!

Enjoy the rest of your night, everyone! My posting schedule will be back to normal on Wednesday morning!

xx

– Ashley-