November 2018: In a Nutshell

Good Morning, Happy Friday- and Hello (Almost) December, everyone!

Christmas and New Year’s Eve are practically here- and there’s still so much to be done before we deck the halls and prepare to ring in 2019! Yes, it’s officially the busiest and one of the most beautiful times of year again- and I’m both excited and anxious (mostly excited, though!) It feels like I can’t sit still!

Before I tumble into December with my Christmas decorations, various gingerbread recipes and gift shopping lists in tow- I wanted to take a look back on November and all the late-Autumn fun that came with it. In a year filled with months that seemed to come and go in the blink of an eye- November actually felt much longer than usual- which had it’s ups and downs, of course.

November started off with a celebratory bang- with one of my dearest long-time friends getting married in a beautiful ceremony (with an equally gorgeous reception) a few days after the month had kicked off. This was followed-up by a different kind of celebration as one of my other friends celebrated their 35th birthday and then yet another friend announced her engagement! It was a solid 72 hours filled with laughter, ecstatic squealing- and cake…

… So much cake, you guys.

With Daylight Savings Time and the first significant snowfall of the season taking place this month and pretty much sending the message that Winter was well on it’s way- November became less about pumpkin spice and crunchy leaves and more about hot chocolate and bundling up. By the end of last week- temperatures had dropped significantly enough to where I needed a hat, a scarf, and an ice scraper for my windshield.

Only in New England, I suppose- but I love living here- and have to take the bad with the good.

Of course, as November began to wind down- it was all about the food. Multiple Friendsgivings and the actual Thanksgiving meal itself left me stuffed and overly lazy these past few days- but the quality time spent with family and friends was worth having to practically crawl to my couch by the time dessert was done.

Admittedly, November had it’s not-so-great parts, too. With the holiday(s) came stress, and with the decreased sunlight came that first wave of Vitamin D deficiency (and seasonal depression.) Late last week and then earlier this week I had a bit of a falling out with a guy friend of mine I’d been spending a lot of time with for most of the year and leading up to now. He’s overwhelmed. I’m overworked and exhausted- and now our future heading into December is a bit uncertain.

It’s not a great feeling, especially with things like Christmas approaching- but I’m trying to stay busy and optimistic. Whatever is meant to happen will happen on it’s own and in due time. The silver lining is that the experience gave me some much-needed perspective and now, as I prepare to draft my resolutions for the New Year- I’ll have some tangible goals to put into motion.

All that being said, what do I have planned for December? A *ton* of holiday stuff, obviously! That includes recipes, festive OOTDs, plenty of parties, travel to some of New England’s most beautiful and picturesque Christmas-y locations and attractions- a few retrospectives and recaps on the more memorable moments of 2018- and a lot of shopping and preparations!

I’m determined to make December one of the most fun months ever- and to see 2018 off properly! And I’ll be blogging as I do it, of course.

But for now- it’s time to get to work before I head off for the weekend!

Enjoy your Friday and the coming days ahead, everyone! See you all again on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –

Hello, Pumpkin…

Good Morning and Happy “Hump Day”, everyone!

It’s a short work week for me, which is nice- since I’ve got a busy weekend ahead to prepare for (including my hometown’s annual horror convention, my friend’s bachelorette party- and decorating for Halloween!) But the extra day off this past Monday has also given me the opportunity to spend more time outdoors in this lovely and brisk New England Fall weather.

This past three-day weekend was filled with scenic drives, stops at local farms and pumpkin patches, walks through the woods (some of which required umbrellas for unexpected rain!) and plenty of photo ops along the way. The foliage may not have quite reached maximum Autumnal potential just yet- but it’s quickly getting there as the days go on! I’m sure I’ll have the obligatory “rolling in the leaves” pics up on my social media soon enough (I’m not sorry, by the way. I love those!)

What made these past couple of days so special, of course- was that they were spent in the company of my family. I work a lot, and my ten year old niece is in school- so being able to take an afternoon together to sip coffee (and cocoa) and help her find the perfect pumpkin for her front porch, pet goats at the farmer’s market, and grab lunch with her and my mom was the ideal way to spend an October afternoon. Best of all? Oliver came too- and he was the most curious, cuddly, well-behaved pup imaginable!

Below are some of my favorite photos I snapped along the way. Feel free to click to enlarge them!

The rest of this week, leading up to Friday night, at least- will be mostly spent indoors between my office and home (or at the movie theater, since I’m seeing ‘Venom’ with friends from work tonight!) but it’s going to be so nice to be back outdoors in just a few short days! Bring on the rain and the chilly air. I’m here for it and I’ve got my boots ready to wear for the occasion!

But I’ve got to get some work done today before I get head out on the town to stuff my face with popcorn and watch Tom Hardy in IMAX. It’s the only way to watch Tom Hardy, really.

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday and an easy, stress-free transition from your work week into Friday. I’ll have a recipe waiting for you when you get there!

xx

– Ashley –

Notes From the West Coast…

Good Morning and Happy “Hump Day”, everyone!

So admittedly,  I am no longer on the West Coast. After quite a few flight delays and cancellations- I found myself back in Boston early yesterday morning at approximately 2 a.m.- just a few hours shy of when I was supposed to be heading back to work!

Naturally, I called out- something I rarely do- and took an opportunity to sleep late, get myself adjusted to the Time Zone change, unpack my suitcase and do laundry, etc. And now I’m back in my office- bright and early as per usual- and getting ready to catch up on over a week’s worth of e-mails, voicemails, cases, etc.

How soon is “too soon” to take another vacation?

Anyway, prior to my airport debacle when I was trying to get home on Monday- I had been in San Diego since Thursday afternoon after Kelsey and I packed up our things (and her baby!) and started the 4+ hour drive through the desert- which was really awesome, by the way. If you’re into abandoned places as much as I am- then all the long-since-shuttered gas stations, diners, roadside shacks and houses is pretty incredible. I’d love to make that trip again- but definitely stop at quite a few of those places on the way!

Once in San Diego, Kelsey and the baby stayed with her mother and grandmother while I took up residence at a cute little AirBnB in Golden Hill at a friend’s recommendation after he’d located the listing and sent it my way so I’d be within walking distance of both his home and his job.

Unfortunately, this longtime friend then proceeded to ghost me for most of my stay due to his not being particularly forthcoming about some things going on in his life- which put a damper on my trip and a considerable strain on our friendship- which I’m presently re-considering and reflecting on. Without getting too detailed and “snarky” about it- if you’re going to invite a friend from just under 3,000 miles away to visit- maybe try to *not* to be a dick when they get there. It’s just good manners.

I digress. Kelsey swooped in to make sure I had at least SOME fun in SoCal- and other friends in the area were so kind and eager to grab a drink, catch up, and hang out. So it wasn’t a total loss- but between the frustration and seeing the traffic leaving the city firsthand as we were first arriving on Thursday- Kelsey and I opted to cut our stay a little short and return to Vegas on Sunday night as opposed to unreasonably early on Monday morning. We made excellent time- and it was ultimately the best decision.

I had been told early Monday morning that there were issues with my flights, and as the delays gradually increased from one hour, to two, to three- and then to four- I spent the final hours on the strip and thrifting in Downtown Vegas before it was time to head to the airport and begin the grueling, uncomfortable process of TSA pat-downs and layovers.

But here I am- relatively unscathed and only a little tired- although I’m sure by the end of today I’ll want to curl up and nap for another day and a half.

Overall, I had a really laid-back, relaxing and fun trip- filled with good friends, good food, and no sunburns. My determination in moving to the Las Vegas area has only increased given how hot, dry, and beautiful the climate and scenery is- and how it’s been pouring out and freezing here in Massachusetts since I got home. The decision to leave seems pretty obvious at this point!

I’ve got some posts planned to wrap up the month of September later on this week before we launch into October and I reach maximum spooky power- but I’ve got to get some work done here, first!

Enjoy your Wednesday, everyone! Let’s get through this week together!

xx

– Ashley –

July 2018: In a Nutshell

Good Morning and Happy Monday 2.0, everyone!

This week’s posting schedule is a short one (today and Thursday only)– not only because the last day of July happened to land on a Tuesday- but because I’ve got a pretty busy few days ahead of me and have been coordinating different events, meet-ups, errands and deadlines around an already packed work-week!

Can you all believe we’re getting ready to dive into August? That means there’s only one solid month of Summer left before we start to gradually transition into the Fall. Cooler temperatures, shorter days, changing foliage- and the return of pumpkin spiced everything. It’s pretty wild- and I, for one- intend to savor the next few hot and sunny weeks ahead as much as possible!

But before I get ready to change my calendar and start planning as many beach days as I can get away with- I thought I’d take a look back on the month of July- and all the fun (and sometimes insanity) that came with it!

The beginning of this past month was marked by tragedy, unfortunately. Following the suicide of an old friend near the end of June, the first few days of July saw me return to my hometown in Central Massachusetts to pay my respects and spend some much-needed time with mutual friends I hadn’t seen in many years who were also in mourning.

While the circumstances were indeed grim, being able to catch up with so many people I’d missed and care about- and both laugh and cry as we shared memories from a long time ago- was pretty cathartic. I’m making more of an effort to find time to see these friends more often, despite our busy schedules and home lives- because it shouldn’t only be tragedies that bring people back together.

By the time July 4th rolled around, I was also getting back in touch with nature- hiking, swimming beneath waterfalls and in lakes, and catching ferries around Boston Harbor’s islands to get a taste of the ocean and get out of the city for a few hours at a time. By the time Friday the 13th rolled around, I was a pro at packing backpacks filled with SPF, bug spray, and snacks- and had no issues camping out in the middle of the woods for a Jason Vorhees-inspired film festival at Rocky Woods Reservation!

And despite quite a few scattered thunderstorms and sun showers- I caught plenty of outdoor cookouts and backyard BBQs with friends and family (take a peek at some of my SUMMER RECIPES posts for a few of my favorite dishes!) as well as taking in some local children’s theater to support one of my best friends and enjoying some Summer blockbuster action flicks in air conditioned theaters!

This past weekend, with July winding down- I kept things closer to home. Friday night was the Arctic Monkeys show at TD Garden. I love those brilliant boys from Sheffield- and it was a real trip to see them play for thousands at the Garden when I can remember so clearly watching them play for about 100 people in small venues throughout New York and London in our early twenties! Alex may have shaved off his beautiful hair last week, but he was still just as dashing and charming as ever- and hearing some of the bangers I love best reverberate off the walls of the arena was such an incredible feeling.

Live music can make you feel invincible sometimes. I swear.

Following the gig, friends and I took the after party to the Coolidge Corner Theater for their midnight screening of “The Room” (AKA the best worst movie ever made) ala “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Within three minutes- the entire crowd was laughing hysterically- and by ten minutes in, we were throwing plastic spoons at the screen after being given handfuls of them by the staff upon entry. If you’ve never had the opportunity to go to a midnight screening, don’t even hesitate to buy tickets if one is available near you. Grab your friends and go. It’s a riot.

By the early afternoon on Saturday, my friends and I- having gone to bed around 4 a.m.- needed to recharge and sleepily walked to downtown Melrose to get brunch at our favorite weekend spot- Cappa’s Trackside Kitchen. We all split omelettes, toast, hash, home fries- and my personal favorite- banana Nutella French toast- before grabbing coffees to go and heading out into the sunshine to wake ourselves up a little.

Sunday was my day to rest, although I did take a bit of time to get a few errands for the week accomplished- but the majority of the day was spent in pajamas, surfing the web, watching trashy reality TV, and eating nachos. Sometimes you just really, really need a lazy Sunday- and it seemed like a fitting way to bid farewell to an otherwise jam-packed and busy month! Decompressing and getting ready for the next one!

So what do I have planned for August? Well, as I mentioned earlier- definitely as many beach days as possible! I’m also hoping to spend a little more time in some of my favorite seaside towns before that tricky New England weather starts to change again.

I’ve got Boston Comic-Con and Summer Slam coming up within the next couple of weeks, too- which is going to require some creativity and dressing up on my part!

And, of course- I’ll have plenty of recipes, outfits and recaps to share as Summer 2018 begins to draw to a close!

But I’ve got a meeting at work this morning before I get right back into my daily grind- so here’s wishing you all a wonderful end to your own July- and a lovely rest of your Tuesday!

xx

– Ashley –

Very Superstitious…

Good Morning and Happy Monday (ugh…), everyone! Time to get back into that workday grind!

This past weekend was a lazy and relaxing one- with my time divided between an outdoor festival with friends in Western Massachusetts on Saturday and a family cookout on Sunday- but it was enough to recharge me for the week ahead. I’ve got a lot to do over the next few days!

Before I kicked things off in Greenfield on Saturday morning, I was in Medfield overnight for the Friday the 13th-inspired movie screening put on by the Coolidge Corner Theatre! Specifically- the theatre’s “After Midnight” program, where they screen classic horror movies, low-budget 70s flicks, and so-bad-they’re-good cult favorites like “The Room” and “Batman & Robin”- late at night.

Every Friday the 13th- rain or shine- the theater turns the Rocky Woods Reservation in Medfield into Camp Crystal Lake and screen two back-to-back Jason Voorhees movies. There’s plenty of refreshments provided by local breweries and volunteers- and one or two very tall, muscular and intimidating guys that dress like Jason and walk around at random to help creep up everyone’s night.

This year’s movie selection consisted of “Friday the 13th: A New Beginning” and my personal favorite in the series- “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan”. Both, part of that so-bad-they’re-good category- had all of us in attendance laughing hysterically for hours on end. By the time the night was over- my face hurt from cracking up so much- but the rest of me felt fine thanks to some serious bug spray I used beforehand to keep mosquitoes and ticks away! You can never be too careful, after all.

The Coolidge will be showing classic horror movies through the end of the Summer, so if you’re looking for something to do on a Friday or Saturday night and want to stay somewhere air conditioned and surrounded by good people who like to laugh- I definitely recommend stopping by!

I personally can’t wait for their “Troll 2” night. So, so awful. It’s going to be a blast!

And now I’ve got to get to work and get things done before my phone starts ringing!

Enjoy your Monday, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –