Into The Woods…

Good Morning and Happy “Hump Day”, everyone!

I hope you’re all having a wonderful week so far- and are staying strong as we work our way to Friday and another weekend ahead. Just a couple of days left and we’re free!

Tonight after I leave my office, I’ve got to head over to Cambridge where I’m meeting an old friend of mine I haven’t seen since this past Summer and some of his co-workers/business associates for a belated holiday party they had invited me to. The plan is dinner and an escape room experience- which should prove to be interesting. My closest friends and I were at each other’s throats the last time we all got locked in a room together for an hour- so it should be pretty entertaining to see how it goes with a few complete strangers!

This past weekend saw me actually escape the city instead, however- as I headed out to Western Massachusetts (and a bit North into New Hampshire) to jump start my New Year’s fitness regimen and spend a little more time outdoors and in nature- and hiked a good portion of the forest surrounding Mount Grace.

It’s been an odd mix of rain and snow here these past few days- and Saturday was no exception. I ended up bringing an umbrella with me to avoid getting sick because of the low temperatures and on/off sleet. It helped a little, but made some of the navigating and balancing myself as I stepped across wet/icy leaves and steep inclines a little difficult. I admittedly took more than one tumble during my trek- but thankfully no serious damage was done!

Best of all? I captured some really nice photos as the fog rolled in and out. You can click on the photos below to enlarge them!

There’s apparently a guard tower that you can scale to get a better view of the forest and surrounding areas- but I didn’t get an opportunity to locate it. That, and with the sun setting early these days- I also didn’t want to chance getting lost in the woods in the dark!

I’ll definitely have to go back and find it when the weather clears up a bit.

I’m hoping to be outdoors some more this coming Saturday/Sunday, although with everything I have planned- I think most of my time is going to be divided between driving to and from- and being indoors with friends and family as we celebrate belated birthdays and milestones that were overlooked around the holidays.

But I’m off to get some work done before the pandemonium goes down in Cambridge tonight. Here’s wishing you all a great rest of your Wednesday!

I’ll be back on Friday with a peek into my Winter wardrobe- provided I make it out of the escape room, of course!

xx

– Ashley –

“Life’s no fun without a good scare…”

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone! (As happy as a Monday can be, anyway!)

What a weekend it’s been! Last night was the first full night’s sleep I’ve gotten in a few days- so I’m feeling pretty refreshed today and eager to get things done at work so I can stay one step ahead of the game!

As Halloween creeps closer and closer, my days (and nights) have been filled with horror movies, outings to creepy locations, costume preparation and baking spooky-inspired goods for friends, family & co-workers. It’s been so much fun- and I’m going to be pretty bummed out come November 1st when all the terrifying-in-a-good-way thrills and chills take a backseat until next October!

I think one of my favorite things this year has been finding new places to visit (and scream my head off!) with my friends. Case in point, this past Friday night I made a 2-hour trek to Lee, New Hampshire to check out Haunted Overload with a group of friends and acquaintances. The outdoor haunted trail- located at DeMeritt Hill Farm- was recommended by my friend Chris who had visited it last year and spoke very highly of it.

The theme of the trail changes every year, so you never know what to expect- and it’s SO intricate, detailed, creepy and fun! It wasn’t at all what I expected- and I loved every second of it! Between the HUGE scary wood carvings and the full-sized structures (including a decrepit old Victorian era house) that you run in/through/around while being pursued by evil clowns, butchers wielding chainsaws, etc.- I was hoarse by the end of the night.

Luckily, the farm offers warm apple cider (and snacks) at their stand at the end of the trail- so I made sure to have a drink and pick up some cider doughnuts for home before I left! I’d love to come back next year- or even better, check out the trail during the day to get a better look at the craftsmanship during one of their kid-friendly afternoon events before the season wraps up!

If you find yourself in Lee, New Hampshire before Halloween- definitely stop by. You won’t regret it- and tickets to the trail are way more affordable than other local and highly publicized horror houses that are half as interesting as Haunted Overload is!

Saturday was a little less horror-centric but still picturesque and lovely as I headed up to Montpelier, Vermont (via the scenic route- a 4+ hour drive through the mountains and valleys) to visit my Uncle with my mom and Oliver before he reports to a scheduled surgery in a few weeks.

We left early in the morning, giving us plenty of time to sight-see and admire the foliage along the way. Vermont is a truly lovely state, filled with beautiful farms, old homes, hidden cemeteries and winding roads through the woods- so with a Spotify-generated Fall-themed playlist and some hot coffee- it felt like the perfect Autumn day enjoyed with family.

And even though I’m not a fan of Winter- at all- I’d love to head back up to the area for the holidays since I’m sure it’s absolutely lovely blanketed in snow and Christmas lights!

This week is shaping up to be another busy, exciting one. I’ll be re-appearing on Indie617 this coming Wednesday (where I’ll also be catching a live set from The Wombats later on in the afternoon!) as well as checking out a Jack O’Lantern exhibit with some dear friends who are visiting from the West Coast for a few days.

I’ve got another recipe to share a little later on this week, plus some photographs from my adventures along the way over the next few days- but before I get too ahead of myself- I’ve got to make it through work today!

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful week ahead! Let’s get through it together!

xx

– Ashley –

Seafood and Shopping…

Good Morning and Happy Hump Day, everyone!

I’m still recovering from last night’s Interpol show at Orpheum Theater (in a good way- they were phenomenal!) and getting ready to launch into my work day- but I wanted to share some of my favorite steals/finds and photos from my annual trip up to Hampton Beach this past weekend!

Labor Day might be the unofficial end to the Summer, but to me and my family- the *true* way to send off the season and get ready for the Fall is to eat as many lobster rolls, scallops and crab cakes as we can while stocking up on bargains at the Seafood Festival.

This year’s festivities were particularly special since it was the first time we were able to bring Oliver with us! He’s such a wonderful, curious and friendly dog- but crowds and loud noises can sometimes make him anxious- and not everyone in Hampton is as mindful of their pets as I am with mine. On the other hand, I didn’t want to leave him home alone all day- which makes him terribly depressed- so I opted for a somewhat unconventional middle ground.

I bought a dog stroller- and Oliver LOVED it. Not only was he able to see all the action (and eat the occasional French fry I’d sneak him)– but when he got worn out from excitement, he was able to lay down comfortably and sleep peacefully while I wheeled him around from booth to booth. Of course, once we’d left the actual festival- I brought him to the shore so he could run free and enjoy the sand and surf, too!

If you’ve got a smaller/medium sized dog that might need one of these in busy, crowded situations- I highly recommend checking out the selection of carriers on Amazon. Mine was made by VIVO- and it was great quality and super easy to assemble, and even easier to clean, pack up and store for safe keeping when the day was done. There’s plenty of storage space for your pet’s treats, toys, etc. and yes- a cup holder for you, too. I kept my much-needed coffee within reach most of the morning.

Overall, it was such a fantastic day- even though it was a bit chilly along the coast. It was nice spending the morning and afternoon eating great food, watching the ocean, and playing some really old arcade games (that have been around since I was a kid!) along the boardwalk with my mom, my cousin- and Oliver.

Of course, I didn’t just eat amazing food. I did some shopping, as well- and scored some really great deals at some of the shops who were clearing out their merchandise for the season before they shutter their store fronts for the Winter!

While there were plenty of novelty t-shirts, sandals, bikinis and bikini cover-ups on sale- I found a couple of Fall-appropriate pieces that I’ve already started integrating into my wardrobe over the past couple of days!

This grey and white striped, collared sweater was hanging out all by it’s lonesome outside of Dudley’s– and when I tried it on and realized not only how flattering it looked but also how warm it would keep me in the Fall- I had to have it. The end of the season price? $7.50. How could I say no?

Additionally, I spotted this peacock feather printed maxi skirt in the very back of one of the boardwalk shops- where it was marked down to $17. How beautiful are the colors in this skirt? I recently paired this with a pair of brown, knee-high boots and an olive green turtleneck during one of our chillier days- and it looked so lovely.

I had mentioned earlier this week that I’m a big fan of anything with sea life printed on it- so when I saw this sterling silver octopus pendant (marked down to $12)– I knew I had to have it to layer with my other pendants and plain chains.

I really love unexpected and unique designs like this- and I feel the octopus (which is a bit sinister looking, really!) is going to catch some attention if people see it mixed among my other every day necklaces!

I tried a sample of this easy-to-make dip from Moose Creek, and oh my gosh- was it delicious! All you need to do is add a little mayonnaise, a little cream cheese, the dip- and as much lobster meat as you want- and you’ve got a really tasty appetizer to serve at your next get together.

Each packet of dip was $4 and can serve quite a lot of people- so it was well worth the price!

And finally, no trip to Hampton is complete without a stop at Sanborn’s Candies! This year I scored some individually wrapped “chocolate leaves” and a half pound of their soft, decadent and amazing chocolate nut fudge to share with my mom and cousin on the drive back home. It was the sweetest way to end the afternoon!

If you’re ever in New Hampshire at the end of the Summer and have the opportunity to check out the Seafood Festival- I strongly recommend it. Parking and traffic is easiest first thing in the morning- and going on an empty stomach is pretty much mandatory so that you can try a little bit of everything from all the great restaurants and food trucks that come to town to showcase the superstars of their menus.

And be sure to bring cash- since not all of the vendors are equipped to handle debit/credit transactions. It’s thankfully not too common- but it does happen!

I know I’ll be back again next year for it!

But now, I’ve got to get to work and get things done. Enjoy your Wednesday, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

OOTD: Feeling Crabby…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

In exactly one week I’ll be soaring above the clouds on my way to fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada to embark on a much needed vacation and road trip through the desert with my West Coast Wife- but before I do that- I’ve got to get through this work week, first!

This past weekend, although cloudy and a bit chilly- marked the 29th annual Seafood Festival at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. It’s a bit of a tradition for myself, my mother, and my cousin to attend at least one of the three days of the festival together every year- and after scoring this crab sweater from ModCloth on sale near the end of last month- I knew well in advance I’d have an appropriate (and fun!) outfit to wear for the occasion!

This sweater, knitted and fitted- features white stripes along both sleeves and a bright red crab front and center. It kept me warm, sure- especially when we stopped along the shore to watch the waves for a while- but it was also a huge hit with other attendees and vendors who kept asking me where I got it.

I’m a big fan of Nautical style, which is pretty prominent along the coastal towns in New England. Anything with anchors, lighthouses and seashells automatically catches my eye- but I’ve been really feeling anything with sea life print, too. Crabs, octopus, seahorses, etc. When done subtlety and simple- like this sweater- they can look so cute!

I paired this new wardrobe favorite with a simple pair of white lace shorts and my white and silver glitter slide sandals so I could stay comfortable while I was scarfing lobster and scallops and looking through the racks of the seaside shops for great deals and steals. I found some fantastic stuff- which I’ll share a little later on this week.

And now, like every Monday morning- I’ve got to throw back some coffee and get to work. There’s even more to do this week since I’ll be out of the office by this time next Monday- so I’ve got to stay one step ahead!

Later on this week I’ve got a haul post where I’ll share some of my finds from the Seafood Festival- and yes, plenty of photos of the food itself. I’m also putting the finishing touches on my Autumn Playlist- which seems appropriate more than ever since the forecast calls for some rain and brisk temperatures over the next few days. Fall is officially here- and I am ready for it!

Here’s hoping you all have a great start to your week and that we make it through the next few days unscathed! One step closer to Friday!

xx

– Ashley –

Sunsets and Sandy Toes…

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We managed to make it to another weekend!

This week got progressively more hectic at work as the days wore on, and with the first half of the week being filled with a lot of rain- I started to get a little stir crazy at home and in my office. Luckily, I managed to find some downtime to break up the monotony with a couple of visits to Western Massachusetts (where I’ve been treated to lovely dinners and some incredible chocolate chunk cookies from Insomnia Cookies courtesy of my dear friend Troy.)

I also managed to clear a bit of my schedule and find a lovely spot at “The Wall” at North Beach in New Hampshire for myself to catch one of the most breathtaking of sunsets I’d ever seen after the clouds had cleared for a while.

The area is settled right across the street from one of my favorite surf shops- Cinnamon Rainbows– who are always open late. Once the sun had vanished and the stars were out, I popped by for a few minutes to browse bikinis and boards. I get paid today, and I have a feeling some of that money is going to be used at the shop this coming weekend while “Treat Yo’Self 2018” rages on. They have the cutest clothes!

Today is my half day at work, so by noon I’ll be out of my office, changing out of my heels and my dress into shorts and sneakers- and running some errands before it’s time to launch into my weekend. I have boat-related plans over the next couple of days (if the sun can stick around!) involving checking out some lighthouses around Boston Harbor, a possible burger date in my hometown at one of my favorite spots to eat- and I’ll be cooking up a *ton* of buffalo chicken wings for my friend Phill’s annual ‘Summer Slam’ party in Salem on Sunday night!

As always, I’ll have my recap up at some point next week (alongside a great chicken recipe I stumbled across)– and you can follow-along my journey(s) over at my INSTAGRAM.

Here’s wishing you all an amazing, safe and sunny weekend! Remember to take some time for yourself to decompress- and stay hydrated. It’s hot out there!

See you all on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –