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 –

“But you’re the Pumpkin King!”

Good Evening and Happy Friday, everyone!

While my posts typically go up fairly early in the morning- I opted to sleep in a little late today before work after a night out- and figured I’d update while I was curled up and cozy and getting ready for a much-needed quiet night in.

The World Series is on, and then it’s a late night horror movie marathon before I kick off my weekend bright and early tomorrow morning!

This past week has been wild- in a good way. Shortly after I shared my Game Day recipe for Loaded Baked Potato Chips on Wednesday, I was live on Indie617 during ‘Morning Glory’ with Michael Marotta where we talked Jack White looking miserable at baseball games, the time Ryan Adams baby-sat me, the good ‘ol days of VH1 reality television- and debated which Strokes album was the best. If you missed the segment and want to give it a listen- CLICK HERE.

My time with Indie617 is extending to tomorrow, as well- where I’ll be making an appearance at their Boos & Brews Halloween Party at the Idle Hands Craft Ales in Malden (DETAILS HERE). I’m so excited to listen to some good music, have some drinks, and savor some pizza skulls- yes, you read that right- pizza skulls!

Last night, my good friends visiting from Pasadena for the week met up with me at Franklin Park Zoo so that we could catch up while we walked through their Jack O’Lantern Journey display (which runs through November 4th!) It was really impressive- and definitely made me want to step up my own Jack O’Lantern game!

It was really good seeing them, since it’s been a couple of years- and I’m looking forward to visiting their neighborhood once I’m out on the West Coast again!

But it’s time to watch the Red Sox and get ready for a busy day tomorrow! I’ll be back on Monday with some of my favorite things from October and a recap of this lovely, spooky month come Halloween!

Enjoy your weekend, everyone! Don’t forget to stock up on candy for the Trick-Or-Treaters before the stores run out!

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 –

Killer Clowns and Bachelorette Bliss…

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone! We’re nearly to the weekend! Are you excited?

This coming Saturday is shaping up to be a relaxing one, spent in the countryside of Vermont (weather permitting) where I’ll be visiting some of my family, photographing the foliage/scenery- and enjoying some of Montpelier’s finest dining. I’m excited to visit some old spots I haven’t had the opportunity to stop by in years- and discover some new places, too!

The trip will undoubtedly be vastly different to the craziness of this past weekend, of course- which kicked off on Friday night when friends and I bundled up and headed out to the Rocky Woods Reservation to catch a late evening screening of ‘It’ (the 1990 one) in the middle of the woods, courtesy of the Coolidge Corner Theater’s “After Midnight” program.

Along with snacks and beer from local breweries, the screening also included a live Q&A with the film’s screenwriter, Lawrence D. Cohen and a look at Pennywise’s original costume prototype. And- of course- there were red balloons everywhere. Despite the chill in the air by the end of the 4+ hour event- it was a lot of fun.

Saturday saw me out of the woods and back in the city for my longtime friend Stef’s bachelorette party. She’s getting married in a few short weeks, and this past weekend was the only real chance that we- and a bunch of our hometown friends- could get together to celebrate and see her off properly!

Now, while there were plenty of penis-shaped party favors (and a cake) and an appearance by a blowup doll at one point during the evening- as is the tradition of many, if not all bachelorette parties- we actually did things a bit different and opted for entertainment that would keep all of us on our toes and guessing with our alcohol-fogged brains.

The first stop of the night was Boston’s “Escape The Room” experience. Most of us being avid gamers thought this would be a breeze to get through if we worked together as a team- and we opted for the “Clock Tower” escape sequence. Having done a couple of smaller, less intricate escape rooms in the past- I was *not* expecting the level of detail, complexity, and difficulty of the puzzles required for us to maneuver from room to room. It was hard!

With just under ten minutes on the clock to spare, we did eventually make it out before the buzzer- but I thought the #FAIL sign was too funny not to hold up during our group photo.

If you ever get the opportunity to participate in one of these escape rooms- make sure you’re well-rested and on top of your game! It’s really fun- but you’re going to need to stay sharp during it!

Following our victory, we headed down the street to Papagayo’s for a quick snack and a few delicious margaritas that were mixed up by the bartender, Adele- who was lovely and super accommodating to our party.

After getting a little tipsy, our group walked (see: stumbled) through Downtown Crossing to Elephant & Castle to participate in a mob-themed murder mystery dinner- something Stef has always wanted to join in on. The actors/wait staff were adorable, and while dinner was alright- the dessert ruled and the comedy in the show was worth coming back for seconds.

Oddly enough, I guessed the killer correctly for the “who dunnit?” portion of the evening- and won two tickets to any of their upcoming events- so I guess I really will be coming back for more!

Following dinner (and a few more drinks)– the lot of us hit a couple more bars before we retreated to the hotel room that some of the bridal party had got for the night for some late-night conversation and photo ops with “Standy”- the blow-up doll that was supposed to represent Stef’s fiancé, Andy.

We eventually dispersed when exhaustion started to take over- but it was a night spent well. We don’t get many opportunities to spend time together as a whole group since we all have careers or families- so events like this and/or holidays are particularly special and something to really be cherished and looked forward to. I had so much fun- and it was so great seeing everyone in one place again. I’m really excited for the wedding!

Sunday was, thankfully, a day of rest- brunch and football, really- and a chance to catch up on some much-needed sleep before I returned to work on Monday morning. The weekend, overall- was one for the record books, however. It was truly a blast! A little crazy at times- but a blast nonetheless.

But before I start preparing for this coming weekend, I’ve got to get some work done at my office (and I gotta’ take off early today, since it’s my half day!)

Enjoy your “Hump Day”, everyone! I’ll be back on Friday with a true sweater weather-inspired OOTD post!

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 –