Rainy Days and Book Stores…

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

When I had initially announced my impending move to the Pioneer Valley earlier this month, I had mentioned that I wanted to highlight some of my favorite places to pass the time out that way. For any of you who have followed this blog or it’s past incarnations- you probably know that I predominantly write about restaurants/bars/shops/attractions in the Boston area or around my hometown in Central Massachusetts.

Being out in Western Massachusetts, close to the Berkshires, and truly in one of the most beautiful, clean, environmentally conscious and artistic parts of New England opens the doors for me to discover and share so many new people, places and things will all of you- and I knew right away that an old favorite (but a goody!) would be first on my list to reacquaint myself with.

The Montague Book Mill, which is a used book store, art gallery and restaurant(s) within an old mill from the mid-1800s- is one of my favorite places to go, curl up by the window with a good read, sip a cup of tea and just relax/zone out for a couple of hours while I listen to the nearby Sawmill River flow past.

I’m never the only one with this idea, and the Mill have utilized a lot of their nooks and crannies by turning them into quiet, peaceful places for those looking to work/study without interruption and in a unique location.

I haven’t been in a few years- but made it a point to stop by on Monday during my day off while the rain was falling outside. As always, I ended up exploring and snapping some photos!

To see the enlarged version, just click the picture!

Before I left to head back home, I popped into The Lady Killigrew Cafe for an early dinner (their brie, apricot jam and marinated apples sandwich rules!) and a quick cup of coffee. How I’ve missed that place. I promised myself I wouldn’t wait another 2-3 years before I went back again- and now that I’ll be living less than 30 minutes away- it’s a promise I can keep!

I’ll be back in the area tonight after work to meet up with Troy for dinner and drinks- and will more than likely make another appearance over the weekend since I’m on the prowl for new furniture.

Until then, though- it’s all about getting things done at my office and getting some caffeine in me as soon as possible!

Enjoy your “Hump Day”, everyone! See you all again on Friday!

xx

– Ashley –

Gardners and Gardens…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

I hope you’ve all recovered from “Springing Forward” with Daylight Savings Time yesterday morning. I am admittedly still a little bit out of it- especially since I typically go to work so early in the morning- but I should be adjusted and good to go within a couple of days. I know I’m going to feel much better when I can leave work and be able to get in a workout while it’s still light outside!

Prior to time traveling an hour on Sunday morning, I spent a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon browsing the galleries at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum– which is a stone’s throw away from the Museum of Fine Arts here in Boston (another favorite weekend spot of mine!)

I was a kid the last time I visited Isabella Stewart Gardner’s collections- but the museum is just as breathtaking and beautiful as I remember- and the enclosed indoor courtyard was so lush and green that it made me forget all about the fact that there was a lot of snow and slush melting just a few yards away outside whenever I walked around it! It was like I had been transported to a private villa in a tropical destination somewhere.

Well, somewhat private anyway. The museum was surprisingly packed full of people to the point where I felt claustrophobic at times trying to get in and out of rooms/wings- and I normally don’t get like that in crowds at all!

And, not to get preachy- but I have to say it- I love a good selfie as much as the next person. I think it’s wonderful for people to feel good about themselves and have fun and want to share that with the world. Post as many selfies as you want and I will like them all- but if the process of getting the perfect photo involves a full-blown photo shoot that obstructs other people’s views of something or delays/inconveniences others- then you should really reconsider your process and make changes to accommodate and be more considerate to the people around you.

While trying to see a painting yesterday, I had to wait about 15-20 minutes for a clear view while more than one person held up the crowds of people so they could pose, examine the photo, pose again, edit the picture, select a filter- and finally choose the hashtags they wanted on their social media post. It was, frankly, obnoxious and really put a damper on what was otherwise a lovely day.

All I’m saying is that if you can’t get the photo you want within a couple of minutes, maybe loop around and try again a little later so that others can enjoy their stay, too! It’s not the end of the world- I promise!

The only other reason I could think of for the crowds was that this month marks the 29th anniversary of the infamous museum heist that took place there when two thieves, posing as Boston Police Officers- tied up the guards assigned to look after the museum overnight and made out with $500 million worth of paintings that have yet to be recovered.

13 works were stolen total- and the pieces are commemorated around the museum with empty frames where they were once displayed. It was a bit of a treasure hunt trying to locate all the vacated spots as I went from room to room.

Below are some photos I snapped during my stay. As always- you can just click them to enlarge them!

I had a really nice time, despite the aforementioned crowds and impromptu, doorway-blocking modeling sessions. I’d love to go back on a less busy day and spend a little more time in each room!

A little later on this week I’m sharing some pastels in a new OOTD post- and doing some pre-Spring cleaning- both in my home and here on the blog. I’ll have the updates, as well as my tips and tricks ready to share soon. I’m no Marie Kondo by any means- but my system has been working for me!

But with it being Monday, I’ve got to dive into work and get a head start on a busy week. Here’s hoping you all have a good day! Stay strong!

xx

– Ashley –

Think Spring…

Good Morning and Happy “Hump Day”, everyone!

I have Spring on the brain. While this past Winter certainly hasn’t been the worst we’ve seen here in New England (that honor still belongs to 2015 as far as I’m concerned)– it’s still going strong and I’m slowly reaching my breaking point when it comes to dealing with snow, slush and ice.

I want warmer weather. I want to start wearing less layers and lighter sweaters- and I want to be able to exercise outside without risking frost bite!

To hold me over until March 20th (the official first day of Spring!)– I’ve been incorporating more florals into my wardrobe and accessories. I’ve been leaning towards more pink/rose shades for my makeup- and I’ve been trying to find some indoor activities to lift my spirits when the weather outside is frightful.

This past weekend I hit the jackpot with a stop at the Botanic Garden at Smith College in Northampton. Their annual Spring Bulb Show is currently underway (through March 17th)– and it was absolutely beautiful. The garden consists of a series of greenhouses filled- wall to wall- with various tulips, lilies, irises, etc. The show is free to get into- although donations to keep the garden up and running and welcomed and encouraged.

I managed to snap some photos during my stay. To see larger versions, just click on any of the pictures below!

The trip- as brief as it was- definitely got me out of my Winter funk for a little while and has me looking forward to warmer days ahead!

A little later on this week, I’m sharing a Spring-inspired playlist with some old and new favorite songs for the impending season- before it’s time to break for another busy weekend.

In the meantime- if you need something to listen to ’til then- why not check out this snippet from yesterday’s ‘Morning Glory’ segment on Indie617? I dropped by to talk about the 20th anniversary of ‘Cruel Intentions’ and other guilty pleasure movies from the 90s. It was a lot of fun!

I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday as we work our way over the hump and towards Friday. I’m off to play some catch-up at the office!

xx

– Ashley –

“Love is a great beautifier…”

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it to another weekend (thank goodness!)

Today marks another later-than-usual afternoon post and what I hope will serve as the period or otherwise final punctuation mark on what has been a pretty busy week for me! I had mentioned it on Wednesday right before sharing my Mozzarella-Stuffed Pizza Bread/Super Bowl recipe, but the beginning of this week was packed with work (as usual,) the Patriots celebration parade, and my dear friend Duncan visiting from San Diego/Chicago while he was in town for a job interview and conference.

Additionally, shortly after receiving my car back last week following the repairs for the hit and run accident I had been involved in last month right before my birthday- I had to turn right back around and return my poor Hyundai to my mechanic again for unrelated brake repairs/replacement.

If I never have to drive a rental car again, it’ll be too soon!

I digress- as tired and sleepy as I am right now- I’m grateful that my car is fixed and that I’ve been able to stay active and productive- all things considered! I *definitely* earned the mani/pedi I’m going to treat myself to this weekend, though. At least that’s how I’m justifying it!

Despite a hectic schedule these past few days, I did manage to take some time for a relaxing day trip to picturesque Concord, Massachusetts- where I visited Louisa May Alcott’s house to scratch yet another historic New England location/landmark off of my 2019 travel bucket list!

I love historic homes, Concord in general, and “Little Women,” so to be able to learn more about all three and about a much beloved author from my state in the same place and at the same time was an exquisite way to spend an afternoon off.

Although photography inside the Alcott home is prohibited given how old some of the artwork and relics are- photos of the exterior are encouraged and I was able to get the loveliest pictures just as the sun was starting to set.

Now that things seem to thankfully be calming down and returning to normal (someone, anyone reading this right now knock on wood for me, please!) I can try to relax and focus on the evening and days ahead. I’m having dinner with my family tonight as part of our planned bi-weekly get-togethers- and next week is all about Gal-entine’s Day, Valentine’s Day- and my latest take on the celebrations- Pal-entine’s Day (for your pals, of course!)

I’ll have a recipe for a romantic dinner fit for two you can cook up in 30 minutes or less to share, a look at one of my favorite holiday-appropriate-but-still-casual date night outfits- and some photos from planned weekend travel and day trips I have coming up within the next 48 hours!

But for now, I’m off to eat a quick lunch and head back to work and meetings for a couple more hours.

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful and relaxing weekend! See you all again on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –

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 –