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 –

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 –

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 –

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 –