Pastel Pinstripes…

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

It has been such a busy week so far- and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be calming down anytime soon! Between work, writing, a scheduled theater company meeting a little later on this afternoon and prepping for some radio work tomorrow evening- I’ve been going non-stop while simultaneously getting over a 24 hour stomach bug that swept through my office like wildfire earlier this week.

And despite feeling pretty awful on Monday- I did still manage to put together a cute outfit that added some much-needed color and brightness to my pale, cold and clammy skin while I was recovering and trying to get things done at the same time.

The first day of Spring might be a week away- but I’m pretty much forcing an early arrival by wearing pastels and anything floral as often as I can. My most recent attempt to summon the warmer weather (and it seems to be working, by the way!) was this pastel-striped blouse that ties in the front with a pair of skinny jeans and a larger-than-life pink flower necklace.

The blouse itself is revealing if you don’t wear anything underneath it- and seeing how this was what I wore to my office (while I was ill…) I opted to keep a basic white tank top under it to keep it work-appropriate- but I like that I can definitely play around with different colored tops under it, too- since there’s so many pastel hues I can match/coordinate it with!

And the necklace, while bold and fun- is admittedly a bit heavy- but you get used to it after a few minutes and from there you can barely notice it while you have it on!

I’m looking forward to wearing this outfit with one of my gauze or linen midi skirts and some sandals once the last of the snow finally melts- which I know won’t be for a little while longer- but it’s fun to plan those late Spring/early Summer outfits ahead of time.

I’m off to get some work done before I head out to the Pioneer Valley to continue efforts with one of my favorite side projects and meet up with some friends in the area. I’ll be back this coming Friday with some tips/tricks for Spring cleaning (and with a few updates on blog maintenance I’ve been performing!)

Here’s wishing you all a lovely “Hump Day.” Enjoy it! We’re so close to the weekend!

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 –

In Bloom – A Spring Playlist

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We’ve made it to another weekend!

Earlier this week I talked about getting into a Spring state of mind since the snow, sleet, ice, and bitterly cold temperatures were starting to get me down. While I ready my floral print everything, pastels, and spend time in local greenhouses and at flower shows in an attempt to inject some nature and brighter colors into my life- I also needed a seasonally appropriate soundtrack to keep my spirits up until the warmer weather gets here!

Using 8Tracks– which remains one of my favorite ways to create/swap what are essentially good ol’ fashioned mixtapes online- I created “In Bloom”- a brief, ten-track playlist of some of my favorite upbeat and dreamy songs that range from recent releases to a couple of older, classic indie tunes.

I also lined up these songs in Spotify for when I’m in the car- and honestly they make my commute feel a little more cheery and calming despite the fact that there are still some pretty intimidating-looking snowbanks along the roadsides here in Massachusetts.

But I digress! You can listen to the Playlist below (or by CLICKING HERE)

And for the curious- here’s the tracklisting:

  1. Lucy Dacus – La Vie en Rose
  2. Cults – Go Outside
  3. Belle and Sebastian – Another Sunny Day
  4. Deerhunter – No One’s Sleeping
  5. Jenny Lewis – Red Bull & Hennessey
  6. Tall Heights – The Deep End
  7. Soccer Mommy – Blossom
  8. Billie Eilish – When The Party’s Over
  9. Beirut – Gallipoli
  10. Death Cab For Cutie – Northern Lights

This coming weekend I’ll be visiting one of my favorite art museums in the city and bracing myself for some much-needed Spring cleaning around my closet and bedroom- all while losing an hour of precious sleep once Daylight Savings Time kicks in on Sunday morning!

I’ll be back on Monday (and will undoubtedly be sleepy and confused when I am)– so here’s to a fun, warm, safe weekend to you all! Enjoy!

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 –

“Now it’s all covered with flowers…”

Good Evening, everyone! Here’s hoping you’re all having a wonderful Friday night- or getting ready to, anyway!

My night is actually going to be fairly quiet and reserved tonight- consisting of watching a movie with friends, eating some pizza and sipping some hard cider since I have to be up for early morning plans first thing tomorrow. And honestly? I just really need a night in so I can wear sweatpants and veg out a bit.

This past week has been crazy at work, and when I wasn’t in my office- I was at networking events, keeping track of E3 coverage (hello, ‘Resident Evil 2’ remake I’ve been waiting for since I was in my teens!) and trying to soak up some Vitamin D whenever I got the chance- including taking an afternoon off for an impromptu beach trip in Manchester-By-The-Sea.

Last weekend, before I got swirled up in Manic Monday and all the tasks/errands/to-do’s that came with it and the subsequent days that followed- I actually ventured out to the wild, wild Western part of Massachusetts to lovely, quaint and picturesque Shelburne Falls to see the famous Bridge of Flowers that frequently make appearances on my friends’ Instagram feeds.

I’d never been, but neither the bridge itself or the scenic drive to and from there along some of the state’s winding back roads- dotted with farmhouses and fields- was well worth it. The footbridge (formerly a trolley bridge) stretches over the Deerfield River and is the home to hundreds of different types of flowers. It’s a very peaceful, pretty walk to take- and naturally I snapped some photos!

Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pics!

If you’re ever venturing out by Western Massachusetts this Summer- the bridge is definitely worth a quick stop! It’s open ’til October!

In other beautiful destinations I visited this past week- I took a half day at work yesterday afternoon to stop by Singing Beach in-between errands to meet up with my best friend, Sean, for lunch/coffee and to watch as the boats rolled by the marina.  Even though the sun disappeared on us (more than once)– it was still a lovely way to spend an afternoon. The view was definitely better than the one I’m used to in my office, anyway!

Every time I travel to Manchester By The Sea, I try to visit at least one new shop or restaurant since the community has so many hidden and adorable seaside finds to discover. Yesterday’s dinner saw us watching game show re-runs from the 1970s while we ate burgers and fries at Superfine Food, and then grab a couple of ‘Aloha’ lattes (coconut and white chocolate) at Allie’s Beach Street Cafe.

Everything was so delicious- and the staff at both locations were very friendly! I highly recommend them!

But now, with friends on the way for movie night with food in tow- I’m off to be lazy, eat all the carbs- and get ready for the weekend!

Good night, everyone! Have a great weekend!

xx

– Ashley –