Monday, Monday…

Good Morning and Happy (ugh…) Monday, everyone!

I suppose I can’t complain too much since I have the day off from work- and with Friday being my half day- it’s shaping up to be a quick, easy and painless week at the office for me. Although the sun seems to be indecisive this morning as to whether it wants to come out or not- it’s warm out and I’ve got a lovely drive ahead of me. Not to/from Montpelier, Vermont as originally planned- since there was a change in scheduling (I’ll get to in a minute)– but to meet with my soon-to-be-landlord at my soon-to-be-new-apartment to go over some final details.

I’ll also be taking the remainder of the afternoon to visit one of my favorite places in the Valley and, more specifically- Montague, Massachusetts. It’s been ages since I’ve been and today seems like just as good a time as any to go!

Don’t worry- I’ll have the photos/recap up shortly. It’s one of my favorite well-kept-secrets out in Western Mass!

Did everyone who celebrated Easter have a good one? I’m still a bit sluggish from the huge dinner I had at my mom’s house last night- but the company was great and the weather was perfect. The only downside I can think of is that we were missing a few people due to unexpected illnesses and last minute scheduling conflicts- including my uncle who I had been preparing to pick up in Vermont and bring down to stay with my family for the weekend. He couldn’t make it- although there’s talk of planning a Summer cookout/BBQ for his birthday to make up for it, instead.

Regardless, we all had a wonderful time and I have enough leftovers to last me a few days- which is always appreciated. I even managed to dress Oliver up in his Sunday best for the occasion!

He looks like he’s ready to lead the Debate Team to victory.

As April winds down over the next few days and we prepare for May- I’m also preparing for a week-long trip to the West Coast in a couple of weeks, my move to the Valley, the Boston Calling Festival and other late Spring/early Summer plans and travel I have lined up locally. There’s so much happening and I’m just trying to take it day by day and not burn myself out!

Later on this week I’ll have the photos from my adventure in Montague this afternoon up and running, and then on Friday I’ll be sharing some of my favorite things/items/products/odds and ends/etc. from this past month.

Here’s hoping you all have an easy and stress-free start to your week! I’ll be back on Wednesday!

xx

– Ashley –

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 –

“Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas…”

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone! We made it to another weekend!

With December officially in full-swing and Christmas just a little over two weeks away- these past few days have been spent decorating, cooking/baking, doing as much gift shopping as possible in-between work and spending time with friends/family- and that’s not including trying to iron out the details of my New Year’s Eve plans and finalizing the last of my blog posts for 2018!

As much as I love this time of year, it can be a little crazy schedule-wise- so I’ve been trying to plan/coordinate my time accordingly and days ahead of time, allotting a couple of hours here and there to get things done so that I don’t get overwhelmed, stresses and flustered. I want to enjoy the holidays, after all!

Earlier this week saw me doing what has become one of my favorite Christmas traditions in recent years- getting Oliver dressed up so I can take his photo for my annual holiday cards. While past cards have just featured Oliver in various, festive outfits by himself in front of a cute backdrop- this year I decided it was time for Oliver to meet the man himself and brought him to my local, independent pet store to meet Santa for a fun little pop-up and fundraiser they had planned.

The store in question were taking donations to help fund the construction of a new dog park in my neighborhood- which I’m really excited about- and they were so good with Oliver. The photos came out amazing- and I can’t wait to get the cards in the mail early next week!

This coming weekend kicks of the series of Christmas/Holiday parties I’ve got lined up over the next couple of weeks- and I’ll be at Idle Hands Craft Ales in Malden for Indie617′s first ever holiday gathering- with an ugly sweater ready to go! If you’re in the area and you want to stop by for some good beer and great tunes- come say hello!

But for now, I’m off to get some work done at my office, get my finances in order since it’s Pay Day today- and make sure my calendar and my planner are all organized for the next few days.

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful Friday and a fun, safe weekend! I’ll be back next week with some new recipes, a re-cap of my festive fun- and plenty of photos along the way!

xx

– Ashley –