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 –

February 2019: In a Nutshell

Good Morning and Happy Thursday, everyone!

Another month down (although February is, of course, the shortest one-) and so much to discuss! These past few weeks have been filled with Super Bowl parties/parades, plenty of snowstorms, time spent with friends visiting from out of state, some love and romance around Valentine’s Day- and quite a bit of traveling around New England!

While there were plenty of things keeping me close to home this past month- like watching the Patriots win another Super Bowl and the subsequent celebrations that came with it (and yes, I’m just as disgusted by Robert Kraft’s behavior as the next person) and getting a surprise visit from my San Diego-turned-Chicago-BFF while he was in town for a job interview- I also made it a point to explore some other areas around my neck of the woods that I either hadn’t visited in a long time- or had never visited at all!

There was touring Louisa May Alcott’s home in Concord near the very beginning of the month, swinging by picturesque Newport, Rhode Island for their annual Winter Festival- and this past weekend I found myself out in Berkshire County where I spotted a Pepto-pink church while out and about (shown above!)

I reflected on dating now that I’m in my thirties, played around with Pantone’s “Color of The Year” and cooked up some amazing recipes to get everyone through the last leg of the colder months. As always, I took you all into my closet and into my Winter makeup routine/collection- and now here we are- getting ready to spring forward into March!

So what do I have planned over the next few weeks? Lots of things! In between my usual food and fashion posts- I’m looking forward to sharing some fun promotional opportunities and partnerships- as well as more stories/photos from the road where I’ll be visiting one of my favorite museums in Boston, a flower show/display in Western Massachusetts, a trip to my favorite seaside village in Connecticut- and a trip to Nantucket I’ve been eagerly preparing for and anticipating!

But of course, I’ve got to wrap up my work week, first- and today and tomorrow is all about tying up loose ends at the office before I head out with friends for the weekend and get ready for the unofficial start of Spring!

My posting schedule will return to normal first thing on Monday morning- but until then- here’s wishing you all an easygoing remainder of your week and a fun, safe weekend!

xx

– Ashley –

Weekend at The Elms…

Good Morning and Happy “Hump Day,” everyone!

One of my favorite things to do during the Winter here in New England is visit some of our more popular seaside towns and attractions when they’re essentially empty/abandoned due to the cold weather. Places like Mystic, Hampton, and Newport- which are usually wall-to-wall with people during the warmer, Summer months- are just as beautiful and far more accessible from the late Fall through early Spring.

This past weekend, I opted to visit Newport, Rhode Island- which is presently hosting their 31st Winter Festival through the 24th of this month. I browsed some of the shops downtown, stopped by a couple of the local cafes and restaurants for lunch and my coffee fix- and took a stroll through the interior and the grounds of The Elms– which is one my favorite mansions in the area.

I had my camera with me, and managed to capture some of the most beautiful photos while the sun was setting. Click on any of the images below to enlarge them!

It was such a lovely afternoon and I’d love to visit again soon before the Spring/Summer gets here so that I can enjoy the peace and quiet for just a little while longer. If you find yourself in the area anytime soon- I recommend taking a day off to enjoy it!

The next couple of days are shaping up to be busy ones- with work, my part-time gigs, dinner plans and so on- but a little later on this week I’ll be sharing an accessory that was gifted to me by a friend earlier this month and which I’ve been really enjoying on the colder days before we break for the weekend and I prepare to wrap up February with a nice little bow!

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday! We’re almost to the weekend. Just hang in there a little longer!

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 –

Post-Birthday Recovery…

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

My posting schedule has been a little off this week (and will be next week, as well- given February kicks off next Friday!) The days leading up to and following my birthday are always a little crazy and hectic since I have such a big family and my friends are scattered around Massachusetts and New England. My time is always stretched a bit thin since people come and visit, I’m going out to meet friends for birthday-related fun- and also working full-time. It leaves little time for blogging this time of year!

Tonight is one of the last birthday celebrations planned for me as far as I know- and it involves eating lots of Chinese Food and cake with my mom, my older brothers, my sister-in-law and my niece! Then it’s nothing but sleep, catching up on e-mails, touching up my hair on Saturday- and heading to Salem on Sunday for my friend Phill’s annual ‘Royal Rumble’ party. Always such a good time.

The past few days have been a lot of fun- with the exception of a crazy snowstorm, single digit temperatures and a lot of rain. My actual birthday was a really relaxing affair- mainly because after I had left my office for the day- Troy treated me to dinner and a “Spa Night” at East Heaven in Northampton. I got to completely unwind during a soak in an outdoor hot tub (and despite the cold weather- it wasn’t bad at all) and an hour long massage. Absolute bliss!

He’s a gem.

My co-workers surprised me with a dozen of my favorite doughnuts, my best friend surprised me with a pink frosted cake (pictured above) and other friends loaded me up with carbs earlier this week during a surprise luncheon. If people thought the holidays were the time of year where everyone threw their diets out the window- they haven’t seen anything yet!

With January winding down next week (already?!)– I’m in the process of putting together my favorite things from this month to share next week, as well as writing up a summary of the beginning of the year for my “In a Nutshell” post that should be up next Thursday. I’ve also got a Super Bowl to prepare for following that absolutely INSANE Patriots/Chiefs game this past Sunday- so expect some fun, party-friendly recipes in the coming days.

I want to thank everyone again who texted, called, e-mailed, or dropped me a line on social media for my birthday! I know Tuesdays are pretty much the worst day of the week by default- but my birthday was still wonderful and I’m very appreciative of all the love and warm wishes!

By the way- there’s still time to enter my birthday giveaway!

Enjoy your weekend, everyone! I’ll see you all next week!

xx

– Ashley –