New Year, New York…

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

What an absolutely fun, exciting and beautiful past few days I’ve had! Even coming back to my office on Wednesday morning to return to my usual weekday grind has been enjoyable- thanks in part to a new scheduling system I’ve been utilizing to better manage my time/tasks. I have to say that starting my 2019 *not* being inundated with cases and loose ends is a nice change of pace.

Of course, I have to talk about my New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day- which was spent between New York City, Western Massachusetts and finally- home sweet home.

I had wanted a cozy, laid-back New Year’s Eve- particularly since the past few celebrations over recent years have involved expensive, extravagant parties, bar-hopping, and/or spending entirely too much time in bitterly frigid New England cold. To see out 2018 and welcome in 2019- I just wanted to be warm, comfortable, have some decent food and a drink- and be somewhere a little different than Massachusetts so I could have a new experience to start the New Year off on the right foot.

And so, I turned to NYC- and entrusted my evening to the fine folks at the Hotel Indigo on the Lower East Side. I’m a frequent guest at their San Diego/Gaslamp Quarter location whenever I travel to the West Coast- so their incredible service, a spacious room with a view, and kick-ass amenities were not surprising. What was surprising was their lobby (with a wrap-around panoramic view of the city via floor to ceiling windows) being located on the 14th floor as opposed to on the ground level. I was a big fan of that twist.

I settled right in, ordered a fantastic cheeseburger from their Mr. Purple restaurant (and some cheesecake! I had to go big and gluttonous for the last night of the year!), grabbed a drink at a dive bar down the street while dodging the rain as much as possible- and then retreated to my room where I texted/video chatted with friends back home and abroad while we waited for the countdown to midnight via various news outlets. I opted to watch Anderson Cooper take shots of tequila and look like he was ready to throw up- and it was worth every minute. Truly.

After midnight, it didn’t take long for my body to give into the cheeseburger, champagne, and a day of train travel to arrive in New York- and I managed to successfully get a full night of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep. I awoke on New Year’s Day feeling refreshed, energized- and pleasantly optimistic! Even better? Monday night’s rainstorms and freezing cold had disappeared- and Tuesday saw plenty of sun and temperatures that reached the high fifties/low sixties for most of the day!

To kick off 2019, I wanted to honor a family tradition *and* do something different and daring. When I was a kid, my mother thought lighting a candle and saying a prayer to whatever higher power we believed in to wish our loved ones a blessed new year and express hope for our own happiness/prosperity for the months ahead. After grabbing breakfast- I had navigated my way to Rockefeller Center- and popped by St. Patrick’s Cathedral across the street to honor my mom’s tradition (I called her to let her know afterwards- and she was delighted!) and take in the beautiful architecture.

The city was still very much decked out for Christmas during my brief stay- and it was such a thrill to have a chance to catch a glimpse of some of the over-the-top decor before it gets taken down again. Below are a couple of photos I snapped with my phone. You can click them to enlarge ’em and see!

And, for my “different and daring” to-do for the day- I opted to face my fear of heights and ride an elevator 70 stories up Rockefeller Center to take in the views of New York from atop of the world at the ‘Top of The Rock’ Observation Deck. While the wind made things a little intimidating at first and it took a few minutes for my heart to stop racing- it was such an exhilarating and memorable experience.

The sun made catching photos of the Empire State Building (and snapping the perfect selfie) a little difficult- but I managed to get a few pics I was content with- and would definitely go back and do it again if given the opportunity.

After coming back down to Earth- and knowing I had plans with my friend Troy later on in the evening out in Northampton, Massachusetts- I managed to catch an early afternoon train home before the crowds and traffic got too bad with everyone trying to get out of the city all at once.

Once I was back in my home state a couple of hours later, I closed out New Year’s Day with a cozy night in watching movies and snacking on whatever was in Troy’s kitchen before I headed back to my own place to get another good night’s sleep and prepare for my return to work on Wednesday morning.

And now, only a couple of days later during this short work-week- and I’m ready for the weekend! I have a few things planned- including some local travel/hiking and a recipe post to put together for next week- but before I start all of that- I’m heading over to Allston today to catch a set by The Sheila Divine at Great Scott for Indie617!

If you’re in the area, come say hello! It’s going to be a lot of fun and a great way to kick off live music in Boston for 2019.

I’m off to get some work done before I take off for the rest of the day. I’ll be back on Monday, when my posting schedule returns to normal now that the holidays are done!

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

OOTD: Subtle Sparkle and Shine

In my late teens/early twenties, the New Year’s Eve ensemble code that my girlfriends and I always stuck to was simple: short dresses/skirts, the highest heels imaginable- and enough sequins and glitter that you’d still be picking them out of your hair by Memorial Day Weekend.

Now, in Southern California, Nevada, or Arizona- this dress code would not only be expected, but probably appropriate in some ways, given the climate- but we grew up in (and still reside) in New England. You know, the part of the country that has been consistently under a thick blanket of ice for a few weeks now? That corner of the United States that hasn’t seen temperatures come out of the negatives for days? Yeah, that part.

But we were young and dumb back then- and looking cute or sexy meant risking frost bite or hypothermia in the New Year. I can remember one New Year’s Eve where I wore open toed heels – OPEN TOED HEELS– during a snowstorm because I had a party to get to. I look back, cringe accordingly- and then see other girls around that age doing the exact same thing. I can’t help but laugh- because I know they’ll look back on it someday and have the same reaction, too. It’s a lesson every young woman has to learn when they grow up in parts of the country that experience some drastic season changes.

I digress- now that I’m older and (somewhat) wiser- I’ve learned that layers and practical footwear can be cute for New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day, too. And if I want to sparkle and shine for the occasion- I don’t have to look any farther than knitted sweaters that use shiny thread. Case in point? This oversized sweater I picked up at Primark and wore around New Hampshire and Ipswich on New Year’s Day.

Not only did I look festive AND comfortable- but I was beyond cozy and warm, too. Paired with fleece-lined leggings, knee-high wool socks and my black snow boots- I didn’t have to worry about being exposed to the elements or getting sick as a dog from being outside for more than a few minutes at a time.

I know some people think the material this sweater is made from feels “itchy” at times- but I was fine all day and well into the night wearing it. I think, moving forward- if it ever became an issue- it’s nothing a tank top or a thin, thermal long-sleeved shirt underneath wouldn’t solve.

I wore small, faux-diamond earrings and swiped some metallic gray eye shadow on my lids (and a metallic pink gloss on my lips) to complete the look without going overboard.

I loved the outfit, and it’s definitely something I would wear again- even on regular work days at the office where champagne toasts at midnight aren’t a requirement (but I wish they were!)

xx

– Ashley –