“Walking in a Winter Wonderland…”

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone! It’s a short week for me at work- since I took this coming Wednesday-Friday off so that I can get the last of my Christmas shopping and gift wrapping done while spending some time with friends and family leading up to the holiday- so I expect the next 48 hours to be jam-packed with making all my phone calls and sending all my e-mails in advance.

I’m excited, though. It’s always nice to take some time off- especially around Christmastime since it gives me the opportunity to really enjoy all the fun and beauty that comes with the season.

This past weekend marked the first significant snowfall of the Winter season here in New England- totaling about 3-6 inches around various parts of Massachusetts. It was thankfully light and fluffy (and easy to shovel!) instead of the wet, heavy, sleet stuff we typically get. When I was done clearing both my and my neighbor’s driveways and walkways- I took some time to have a late afternoon hike and snap some photos of the aftermath of the storm. It was gorgeous! There’s a couple of my favorite shots below.

I’m sure I’ll be over and sick of the snow within a month, but for now- pre-Christmas- I rather enjoyed it!

After work tonight, I’m having dinner and drinks with some of my girlfriends- where we’re going to have a group therapy session to talk about last night’s mid-season finale of “The Walking Dead”. I NEED a cocktail after that one.

Enjoy your day, everyone!


– Ashley –


Sleigh Bells Ring…

While I have many favorite Holiday traditions I like to participate in year after year with my friends and family- two of them, without fail- always happen earlier in the month when I’m still coming off the fringes of Thanksgiving weekend. I’m talking about visiting the local tree lots and nurseries outside the city- particularly when they’ve only just started putting out their seasonal items and decorations.

To me, it’s the first real taste of Christmas- and the smell of pine needles, mint and spices always puts me in a festive mood and gets me ready to hang up my lights, grab some eggnog, and start wrapping presents. Although I’ve had an artificial tree for as long as I can remember- I’m hoping someday I’ll be able to commit to a real one. I would have done it this year, but I had heard there was a shortage of trees as a result of the recession a few years ago- so spending an insane amount of money on one was out of the question. Maybe next year!

Regardless, I still stopped by Russell’s Garden Center this past weekend to check out their selection (and marvel at their impressive nutcracker collection!)

My other favorite tradition, and the trick is to timing it just right so you can avoid all the pedestrian traffic- is going to see the HUGE Christmas tree in Faneuil Hall and catch one of it’s timed light displays every half hour. Sean and I headed down right before the last display of the evening this past Saturday night- and although there were quite a few people milling around near some of the bars in the area- we were still able to get nice and close to the tree to snap a few uninterrupted photos and videos.

And of course, as is tradition- we met up with our friend Chris and proceeded to start the long walk to and through Boston Common and down the illuminated Commonwealth Avenue. The city always does such an amazing job with the lights- and I know it’s going to look even more beautiful if and when we get the first legitimate snowfall of the season!

I’m looking forward to sharing photos of my own Christmas display after I’ve finished decorating my tree and my windows this coming weekend. They are nowhere near as elaborate as the ones around Boston- but they’re still nice!

But I’ve just got to make it through the rest of this week, first. Halfway there already!

Enjoy your Wednesdays, everyone!


– Ashley –

It’s the Great Pumpkin…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone! I’m still recovering from last night’s season premiere (and 100th episode- if you can believe it!) of ‘The Walking Dead’- so my apologies for any typos in this post and on my social media today- or for falling asleep mid-conversation should anyone run into me at any point throughout this afternoon. I promise I’ll be rested up and normal again by tomorrow!

Apart from gearing up for the return of Rick Grimes & Co. this weekend- I also stopped by Rhode Island this past Saturday night. Specifically, I headed to Roger Williams Park Zoo for their annual “Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular”. I haven’t been in a couple of years due to scheduling conflicts- so it was really nice to be able to go again- especially since the weather was beautiful throughout the weekend!

Featuring over 5,000 intricately carved Jack-O-Lanterns that cover both sides (and above visitors in the trees!) of a long, winding trail through a section of the zoo/wildlife conservatory- this year’s display had a trip through time and/or time-travel theme. Featuring dinosaurs, Ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece, through the Renaissance- and a pretty entertaining walk through the the decades spanning from the 1920s through now- each section included music/sound effects fitting of the time period. There were also vendors along the path (as well as at the entrance/exit of the park) that were selling hot apple cider, kettlecorn popcorn, sweets- and light-up accessories for the kids.

Tickets are pretty cheap and there’s a lot more to do in the area, as well- like the ski-lift style ride that carries passengers over the exhibit (and the park)– and glow-in-the-dark swan boats that circle an adjacent pond just outside the zoo’s perimeter. It’s a really fun, laid-back seasonal activity that is perfect for all ages and has become a “must do” for my friends and I every October.

Below are a few of the photos I snapped along the trail!

The “Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular” runs through November 5th- and prime night tickets (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) have to be ordered in advance online while tickets on Monday-Thursday can be purchased on-site- but I highly recommend going as soon as possible before the pumpkins start getting mushy and lose their shape. Also, you definitely want to go before it gets too cold out to fully enjoy everything!

And now, I’m heading off to get some work done and try to make it through the day without taking a nap under my desk.

Here’s hoping we all power through this week!


– Ashley –

Ghost Hunting…

Happy Friday the 13th, everyone! For those of you who are superstitious- be extra careful while you’re out and about today! As for me? Well, after work- I’ll be heading out with friends to catch honorary screenings of the first two “Friday the 13th” movies at Rocky Woods Reservation in Medfield.

Speaking of Medfield, by the way…

One of my favorite places to visit in Massachusetts (and it’s only about 45 minutes away from me)– is Medfield State Hospital- a long abandoned former mental institution that was first opened in 1892 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. Although the interiors of the numerous buildings spread out across the area are off limits due to asbestos and hazardous conditions after decades without routine maintenance, the grounds are still open to the public for those looking for a unique place to go hiking, biking, or- as my most recent OOTD post proves- want a semi-creepy backdrop for photos.

I’ve gone up to the grounds countless times over the years, and I’ve found that this time of the year is usually when it’s the best to visit- and not just because the place is pretty spooky- but because it’s not too hot (or too cold!) to be spending a significant amount of time outdoors, and even though much of the area is overgrown- the bugs aren’t nearly as distracting as they are during May or June, for example.

Usually when I’m visiting- I’m the only one there. On a couple of occasions I’ve been one of maybe a handful of visitors- but Medfield State Hospital is almost always eerily quiet- so imagine my surprise when I went up to take a look around with friends this past weekend and was greeted by an entire Boy Scout Troop who were camping on the grounds overnight as part of a Halloween-themed excursion.

(Side Note: That’s actually an insanely cool idea and I wish I’d thought of it!)

The kids were very sweet and were thankfully respectful of the buildings. Although they were all running around during the entirety of our stay- not once did I see them doing anything potentially dangerous or destructive. They actually carved Jack-o-Lanterns to place on the exterior steps to a few of the former wards and administrative buildings- which added a little something extra in a few of my pictures. It was pretty cool.

There are security personnel on-site 24/7 who do occasional drive-bys to monitor the property- and even they seemed excited about the appearance of a few unexpected pumpkins scattered around.

If you’re ever in New England- this is definitely a neat place to drop by. Just make sure you bring a comfortable pair of walking shoes and a fully charged camera/phone with you!

And now, it’s time to get some work done. Enjoy your weekend, everyone!


– Ashley –

October Sky

Good almost-afternoon, everyone (I slept a little late today!) I can’t believe my vacation is coming to an end and tomorrow morning I’ll be back at work bright and early- ready to play catch-up on all the calls and e-mails I’ve missed while I was taking a much-needed break. As anxiety-inducing as that thought can be- I’m looking forward to seeing my co-workers again and being productive- especially since I’ve been pretty lazy these past few days!

While today will consist of keeping out of the rain, binge-watching some TV shows I’ve fallen behind on, baking cookies (and maybe enjoying a bubble bath!), I spent most of my vacation outdoors- hiking trails in places like Sudbury, Medfield, Concord and Rutland- just to name a few. The weather has been a bit unpredictable lately- some days were overly humid and sticky while others were more cool and refreshing- but regardless of the temperatures, the leaves in my section of New England have pretty much reached their peak color for the season- so to say I’ve had the best views during my days off is an understatement!

Here’s a small gallery of some of my favorite photos I snapped along the trails:

Fall in Massachusetts really is something you have to experience for yourself. The photos (and even my descriptions of how wonderful it is) simply don’t do it enough justice. It has to be witnessed first-hand for the beauty and the magic to really make sense- especially to those who aren’t from around here.

With Halloween approaching, I have a few “scarier” events coming up with my friends over the course of the next couple of weeks that I can’t wait to post about- and I’ve been actively putting together my costume for the year- but it was nice to stop and enjoy some simple, pumpkin, foliage & apple cider-filled relaxing days before horror movies, haunted houses and getting doused in fake blood make their long-awaited comeback.

Here’s to a good week!


– Ashley –

Witch, Please…

Last week, I had taken Friday off from work so I could drive up to Hampton Beach for their annual Seafood Festival and attempt to get a head start to beat traffic, parking, etc. Unfortunately- I hit a pretty tight bumper-to-bumper snag on the highway that threatened to set me back considerably time-wise. It looked like a lot of people had the same idea as me!

Not wanting to spend the majority of my Friday stuck in my car or struggling to find a parking spot under $20 near the boardwalk (spoiler: it’s impossible), I re-routed to spend the afternoon in Salem, Massachusetts instead- and while I didn’t get an oversized platter of crab cakes like I’d initially planned- I still had a lovely time!

Salem is a beautiful town- maybe one of my favorite places in Massachusetts- and it’s filled with so much history, gorgeous scenery, incredible restaurants/bars and a LOT of bizarre tourist traps. Tons of people flock there come October to get in on the Witchcraft and Witch Trial-related activities given the spooky spirit of the season (say that five times fast)– but I find that it’s usually more stressful than necessary to try and navigate anywhere near the place around Halloween. I prefer visiting during the “off” season, instead- and I highly recommend it to any tourist thinking of dropping in. Save your cash and your sanity and soak in the history and sights when it’s much less crowded!

Anyway, while I was in town- I stopped by the outdoor Witch Trial Memorial, right next to one of the oldest cemeteries in my state that is open to the public for viewing and visitors. There were a couple of tours going on courtesy of a nearby museum- but it wasn’t that busy and I managed to really take in the experience without interruption or distraction.

Following a quick sandwich and a coffee at one of the local cafes (and successfully managing to dodge vendors who approached me offering to read my palm or throw sage on me for a pretty penny)– I headed a few miles north to Wenham, Mass- where I made a stop at Tendercrop Farms to stretch my legs. I ended up marveling at some of their produce and strolled through an endless field of sunflowers while I was there and a rainstorm was approaching from a distance- which made the afternoon feel a little more thrilling as the clouds rolled in.

I managed to snap a couple of photos before it started sprinkling out and I had to jog back to my car to keep my camera (and my Elantra’s interior- since I had left my windows rolled down!) from getting wet- but my brief time there was so pretty. I’d love to go back and pick a pumpkin in a few weeks!

Although my day didn’t go quite as planned- it was still an adventure and I’m glad it took the turn that it did. The unexpected stops during an unscheduled journey can sometimes be the most fun and exhilarating- and I started compiling my Autumn playlist while I was on the road, too- which I should have up and ready to go by this coming Friday! Most people know how much I love putting together seasonal soundtracks- so it’s been a lot of fun for me to pick and choose the songs I wanted to use from a whole bunch of new releases from some of my favorite artists!

I’m heading into work now to get my mid-week tasks done before I prepare for a belated-birthday dinner/party for my little niece tomorrow night with my family- so enjoy your Hump Day, everyone! We’re almost to the weekend!


– Ashley –

Mountain Air and Maple Lattes…

Good Morning and Happy Hump Day, everyone! With Labor Day and my taking this coming Friday off to jump start a long-overdue “Girls Only” weekend with my mom- I’ve been more than a little busy at work with trying to get everything done and wrapped up neatly since it’s a pretty short week for me at the office.

This past weekend was completely relaxing and maybe a little indulgent, however. My best friend Sean and I headed a couple hours North of the city to stay at the White House Inn overlooking the absolutely picturesque and rustic Wilmington, Vermont for an evening. Built in 1915 as a Summer home to a lumber baron- the house was spacious, beautifully furnished, and had breathtaking views of the Green Mountains (when it wasn’t pouring rain or foggy outside, of course!) It also had a hidden staircase (you can watch my video of it HERE on my Instagram!), a wine cellar and an old vault that was available to view. When Sean and I weren’t outside taking in nature- we were roaming every inch of the house we had access to.

My room!

The inn is associated with a ski resort a few miles away that offered a spa and fitness center for guests. Although Sean and I dropped by to utilize the facilities and take a look around (another beautiful building, by the way! I don’t ski but I’d love to see it in the Winter!)– any hard work put into achieving or maintaining fitness goals was thrown right out the window by the amount of food we ate during our stay!

We had headed into the small and quaint Main Street area of Wilmington a couple of times- including one stop on Sunday evening to have an early dinner at Dot’s Restaurant– but most of our face-stuffing took place back at the inn. Not only did I have one of the best breakfast sandwiches of my life on Monday morning before we headed back into town and then eventually returned to Boston- but Sean and I split two desserts (since we couldn’t make up our minds!) late Sunday evening that blew my mind. Tempura chocolate cake AND lemon & lavender pavlova. Absolute heaven. I’ve been looking for the recipes online on and off since we got back!

To close out the weekend, Sean had wanted to go antiquing to find some items for his bedroom that he’s currently updating/remodeling. With maple lattes in hand- we hit up a couple of spots in downtown Wilmington to browse some of the local goods and see if we could find anything with a cool history behind it.

Sean ended up walking away with a pretty nice picture frame he plans on fixing up and putting on display after he’s found an appropriate replacement painting for the one that had originally been inside the frame- and I found a book of poetry from 1886 that I plan on giving to my mom since she’s an even bigger fan of antiques than I am. I know she’ll find a good spot to show it off to her guests.

Overall, I had such an amazing time- and even though I ate way too much- I returned home feeling refreshed and relaxed and ready to get back to work. I am head over heels in love with the White House Inn- and with Wilmington, really- and I’m hoping to return again later on this Fall to take a longer look around and maybe stay a couple more nights since no ghosts or ghouls surprised me while I was trying to sleep. I’m sure the views of the mountains are even more gorgeous when the leaves start to change colors!

And now, I’ve got to dive right into my cases for the day.

Have a good Wednesday, everybody!


– Ashley –