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 –

August 2018: In a Nutshell

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

We’ve made it to another weekend (and it’s a long one thanks to Labor Day!), to the end of August, and really- to the the end of Summer 2018. I know the first day of Autumn isn’t technically until September 22nd- when I’ll be right smack in the middle of a vacation on the West Coast- but something about the beginning of September feels new and exciting every year.

Maybe it’s because the regular football season is starting soon, or the Pumpkin Spice Latte is already back in coffee shops- or kids are returning to school and sweaters are beginning to pop up in the storefronts. Either way- it’s time to say goodbye to Summer and welcome in the Fall season- which is especially fun and beautiful here in New England!

But respects must be paid this past August, which was jam packed with as many Summertime activities that my friends and I could fit into our schedules!

Even though the month started with a F1 tornado dropping in on my mom’s neighborhood while I was visiting- the following weeks were filled with day trips to the beach, to seaside communities in Connecticut, to dairy farms out in Western Massachusetts where we filled up on ice cream and French fries- and most recently to Colby Farms in Newbury- where the sunflowers were in full bloom and where I brought Oliver for National Dog Day this past weekend to spend some quality time together!

While at the farm, I made sure to grab some sunflowers to bring home- as well as a couple of peaches to bite into once I’d returned to the comforts of my kitchen and my air conditioning!

I caught a George Clinton show earlier this month, went to my friend’s Summer Slam party to watch Finn Balor and eat a ton of good food a couple of weeks ago, saw a couple of great movies (the most recent being “Operation Finale” the other night- and it was incredible!)– did plenty of grilling and began packing away my Summer wardrobe while simultaneously prepping my Fall one for the coming weeks!

Overall, August- much like the majority of my Summer- was pretty busy but oh so fun and filled with sun! I’ve got the tan lines to prove it!

So, what’s in store for September?

Well, as I said earlier- I’ll be taking a week off near the end of next month to head out West and split time between Las Vegas and San Diego to catch up with friends and browse the real estate in Henderson, Nevada. I’m also getting ready to launch into the Patriots’ regular season with a trip to Gillette Stadium and some tailgating parties- and I’ve got plenty of Fall recipes, outfits, and a pretty great Autumn-inspired playlist to share in the coming weeks!

So before I head into my half day at work, a planned dinner with my family later on tonight and my long weekend- here’s to August and the Summer of 2018- which was wild, a little unpredictable, sweltering hot at times- and a whole lot of fun. I’m gonna’ miss it!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I’m taking Monday off from blogging for Labor Day festivities- but I’ll be back on Wednesday with a really great dessert recipe to share!

Enjoy your Friday, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

“Now it’s all covered with flowers…”

Good Evening, everyone! Here’s hoping you’re all having a wonderful Friday night- or getting ready to, anyway!

My night is actually going to be fairly quiet and reserved tonight- consisting of watching a movie with friends, eating some pizza and sipping some hard cider since I have to be up for early morning plans first thing tomorrow. And honestly? I just really need a night in so I can wear sweatpants and veg out a bit.

This past week has been crazy at work, and when I wasn’t in my office- I was at networking events, keeping track of E3 coverage (hello, ‘Resident Evil 2’ remake I’ve been waiting for since I was in my teens!) and trying to soak up some Vitamin D whenever I got the chance- including taking an afternoon off for an impromptu beach trip in Manchester-By-The-Sea.

Last weekend, before I got swirled up in Manic Monday and all the tasks/errands/to-do’s that came with it and the subsequent days that followed- I actually ventured out to the wild, wild Western part of Massachusetts to lovely, quaint and picturesque Shelburne Falls to see the famous Bridge of Flowers that frequently make appearances on my friends’ Instagram feeds.

I’d never been, but neither the bridge itself or the scenic drive to and from there along some of the state’s winding back roads- dotted with farmhouses and fields- was well worth it. The footbridge (formerly a trolley bridge) stretches over the Deerfield River and is the home to hundreds of different types of flowers. It’s a very peaceful, pretty walk to take- and naturally I snapped some photos!

Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pics!

If you’re ever venturing out by Western Massachusetts this Summer- the bridge is definitely worth a quick stop! It’s open ’til October!

In other beautiful destinations I visited this past week- I took a half day at work yesterday afternoon to stop by Singing Beach in-between errands to meet up with my best friend, Sean, for lunch/coffee and to watch as the boats rolled by the marina.  Even though the sun disappeared on us (more than once)– it was still a lovely way to spend an afternoon. The view was definitely better than the one I’m used to in my office, anyway!

Every time I travel to Manchester By The Sea, I try to visit at least one new shop or restaurant since the community has so many hidden and adorable seaside finds to discover. Yesterday’s dinner saw us watching game show re-runs from the 1970s while we ate burgers and fries at Superfine Food, and then grab a couple of ‘Aloha’ lattes (coconut and white chocolate) at Allie’s Beach Street Cafe.

Everything was so delicious- and the staff at both locations were very friendly! I highly recommend them!

But now, with friends on the way for movie night with food in tow- I’m off to be lazy, eat all the carbs- and get ready for the weekend!

Good night, everyone! Have a great weekend!

xx

– Ashley –

OOTD: In Bloom

Good Morning, everyone!

I’m so beyond grateful it’s Friday. It’s been such a busy week- with work, post-office plans nearly every day, trying to find the perfect Mother’s Day gift before this coming Sunday- and squeezing in enough time for the gym and getting enough sleep to function like a relatively normal person. Although tonight is my bi-weekly family dinner with my mom, brothers, sister-in-laws and niece- I have to admit I’m looking forward to just being able to relax and sleep a little late tomorrow morning. I need it!

Earlier this week I had dinner arrangements with friends at The Local in Wellesley (one of my favorite towns in the Greater Boston area!) and thought it was just as good a time as any to break out an oldie but a goody party dress I’ve had since my early-to-mid twenties so that I could match the blossoming trees along Wellesley’s main street/historic district.

This lightweight, cotton dress with detailed embroidery and a floral print is the most beautiful shades of sky blue and pastel pink- and hits a little ways above the knee- making it easy to wear to both my office (with a modest button-up cardigan over it) and out with friends where I can expose some shoulder.

Wearing heels with this dress, however- can make it look entirely too short. Instead, I paired it with my pastel pink flats (which have made an appearance in some past OOTDs!) to stay comfortable and keep from exposing a little too much to those who were enjoying the late Spring afternoon/evening around the town.

And for my makeup- some shimmery pink eye shadow and lip balm was all I needed to keep things in a light, pretty and seasonal state.

I have a similar dress in a different pattern that I feel is more Summery given the colors- so I’m sure that will be making an appearance on the blog at some point after Memorial Day!

But I’m off to finish up some work for the week and get ready to catch up with my family tonight. I’ll be back on Monday- and in the meantime- I hope all the moms out there from all corners of the Earth and all walks of life have a truly beautiful Mother’s Day: filled with your favorite foods, maybe a little wine, some quiet time- and lots of pampering. You earned it!

I’ll be spending Mother’s Day with my own Mama- where we have brunch and some shopping plans in mind- so I’m hoping the nice weather holds up so we can spend more time outdoors.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

Favorites: April 2018!

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it to the weekend!

With only a couple of days left in April, this coming weekend is shaping up to be packed with some mid-Spring activities and some much-needed time outdoors (weather permitting- although the forecast is looking pretty good!) around the city and the park tomorrow.

But before I kick things off by closing out some cases at work and heading over to my family’s home for bi-weekly dinner with my mother and older brothers- I wanted to share some of my favorite odds and ends from this past month. While my overall and more in-depth thoughts on this lovely month that was will be up on the blog via my “In a Nutshell” post on Monday morning- it’s worth mentioning that April was sprinkled with a lot of new finds- from beauty, floral fashion, binge-worthy shows, fun (and thought-provoking) apps, as well a little bit of desert-inspired home decor.

Let’s see what made the list, shall we?

The weather at the beginning of April was admittedly a little moody. One day would give us a glimpse of high 50s/low 60s temperatures- and then the next would have us hiding under umbrellas as it snowed/sleeted. Mother Nature’s inability to make up her mind claimed no bigger victim this year than my skin- which did it’s best to keep up with the sporadic climate changes but eventually dried out completely for a couple of weeks.

While applying extra moisturizers and serums in the mornings and evenings helped a little- it took this cucumber-infused roll-on mask from Yes To to give my complexion a boost to get back on track. Cooling, calming, hydrating and mess-free- I’ve been keeping this tube in my fridge and then rolling it on about twice a week for some insta-comfort. This stuff is a lifesaver on the chillier, dryer days- and I’ll be buying these in bulk when it comes time for me to head out to the desert!

Speaking of the desert- I absolutely covet anything with either palm tree or cactus print- including clothing, accessories, stationary, etc. I thought I’d take that love affair and use it to transform my office a bit since it was feeling a little on the boring side lately- and turned to Modcloth for some much-needed and adorable assistance.

These battery-powered fairy lights- shaped like cacti, of course- have found a home along the side of my desk where I keep them illuminated on those more stressful days where I need a little bit of fun to keep me from losing my cool. The cactus-shaped and magnetic desk organizer, however? That stays visible at all times- since it holds my pens, paper clips, and rubber bands in place. I love it!

This time of year, I’m also a big fan of floral prints- and I try to incorporate them in subtle ways so that I don’t look like Spring threw up all over me. A pretty, tiered top? A bright and cheerful blossom-covered dress? Comfortable (and seasonally appropriate flats?) I own ’em all- and I’ve been wearing them throughout April while I wait for the trees and flowers to show off their own buds and blossoms!

  1. Blue and White Floral Top (Primark)
  2. Pink Blossom Dress (Forever 21)
  3. Flowered Flats (Old Navy)

In April, I complimented my floral finesse with some subtle makeup- limiting myself to just a couple of color combinations and nude, moisturized lips. This was made possible with two very simple products. The first, an all-in-one blush, highlighter and eye shadow palette I stumbled upon by chance from Maybelline while I was trying to find replacement mascara at a reasonable price since mine had unexpectedly gotten clumpy.

The ‘Urban Light’ palette includes a soft pink blush, a shimmery golden/peach highlighter, and two eye shadow combinations- one a pink/fuchsia mix, and the other a mint green/yellow combo. I’ve been wearing them daily- mixing and matching to create my own unique look- and every color is so flattering (a rarity with many palettes that cost double the price.) For $11.99- how could you go wrong?

For my lips, which also fell victim to that aforementioned dry-spell- I kept things simple. This color-less, moisture-packed coconut lip balm from Sephora has become my life source and has smoothed and saved my pout time and time throughout the month. At $6 a tube- I got a few of these (for my purse, my office, and my car)– just in case I misplace one. It’s always good to have a backup!

I think that’s everything that could pose for a photo- but a few other things made the list this month, too!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

indie617 – I’ve been really lucky to have met and connected with friends from various radio stations in Boston over the years. They always open my eyes to new and upcoming artists while simultaneously showing appreciation for the things I grew up listening to- and conversations about shows, albums, recording, etc. are always fascinating. Recently, friends of mine from BCN-turned-Radio BDC launched their own independent streaming radio service- indie617- and it’s AWESOME.

Not only do they play fantastic new music from local and international acts, but they’ve got their finger on all the hottest shows in the city. They sent me to a Franz Ferdinand performance at the House of Blues earlier this month- and I had an amazing time.

You can tune in HERE– but if you’re on the go, the indie617 app is available for iPhone and Android, too! Just check your app store!

Big Mouth – I’m a little late to this raunchy Netflix cartoon about a handful of kids going through puberty, but my BFF Sean introduced me to it a couple of weeks ago by playing one episode and I was immediately hooked and had to binge the entire first season right then and there.

Created by Nick Kroll, ‘Big Mouth’ has a pretty impressive list of celebrities lending voices to the characters- including Jordan Peele, John Mulaney, Kristen Wiig, Jenny Slate and Maya Rudolph (who voices the Hormone Monstress and is INCREDIBLE.) It is laugh-out-loud funny and I’m really excited for season two.

– TECH/APPS –

HQ Trivia – Okay, so my co-worker is the one that got me hooked on this one. I love trivia- even moreso when I can wish cash from playing it- so HQ Trivia is right up my alley. Twice a day on weekdays and once a day on weekends- everyone who logs into the (free) app answers 12 trivia questions in a live, game show environment. Answer all 12 correctly and you and the remaining players who also answered all the questions right split a pot of money that ranges from $5K to upwards of $300K.

With occasional celebrity hosts (like The Rock and Robert De Niro)– the game gets really challenging but still remains a lot of fun. I’ve been having a blast playing with my co-workers and friends after work.

And I think that’s it for the month of April! Just a lot of cute, fun things that made these past few weeks even more fun and memorable.

And with that being said- I’m off to wrap up work for the week.

I hope everyone out there reading this has a fantastic weekend- and I’ll see you all again on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –