Stay-cations, Horror Movies and Chicken Coops…

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

As we reach the halfway point to the weekend and I prepare to share some big and exciting news in a couple of days (I gotta’ make sure the ink is dry, first!)– I’m taking a look back on what was a pretty exciting weekend that took me from one side of the state to the other. Lots of driving? Sure. Worth it? Absolutely.

On Friday, after I’d left work for the day and ran some errands- I partook in a little “Stay-Cation” in my hometown of Worcester with Troy who was working a conference in the city over the weekend. We ate locally, had some super strong drinks, and watched the re-make/re-telling of “Pet Sematary” which was… Not that great. I’m nearly certain I’ve said it before, but Stephen King movies rarely translate well on screen. I’m not sure if it’s because what you dream up in your head as you’re reading his work is infinitely more scary than anything any director can pull off- but many film adaptations of his stories rarely work properly (except “Misery”, “Stand By Me” and the re-make of “It.”)

I digress. “Pet Sematary” was a serious let-down (except for the cat. I loved the cat!) and if our tickets hadn’t been discounted- I probably would have been really mad when I was leaving the theater.

Side Note: where is the trailer for “It: Chapter 2?”

On Saturday, after leaving the Indie617 station in Boston for the afternoon- it was off to the wilderness of Barre, Massachusetts to visit my friend Stef and her husband Andy in their new home they’d recently moved into for dinner and a late night horror movie with some of our circle of friends. Our film of choice? “Sleepaway Camp”!

Stef and Andy are budding farmers, and now that they’re out of the city and living in a very rural, remote location- they’ve been able to start using their land the way they’ve always wanted. They’ve already started getting their animals in order and are planning what fruit/vegetables to grow once the weather gets a bit nicer.

While I was visiting, I met Stef’s newest family addition- a bunch of little chickens! They’re not for food, by the way (they’re way too cute) but Stef is hoping to have fresh eggs when they get big enough.

I’m trying to convince her to invest in some alpacas, too. We’ll see how that goes.

Sunday, after sleeping entirely too late (I needed it)– it was all about errands, preparing meals for the week, and catching up on e-mails with an iced coffee in one hand and a pizza bagel in the other in and around my home- where I sometimes just need to sort of veg out and be still in for an afternoon or an evening to re-center myself and relax.

For now, I’ve got to get to work and attempt to stay one step ahead of the game despite how busy it’s been lately- and get ready for Friday!

Here’s wishing you all a lovely “Hump Day!” Talk soon!

xx

– Ashley –

Film Wars!

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone! We’re almost to Friday (not that I’m keeping track or anything…)

The good news is that I’ve nearly fully recovered from my recent cold/flu- save for a little residual congestion that has been giving me the worst headaches imaginable- but I’m back on my feet, working without interruption, and making all sorts of plans!

The bad news was that this past weekend, that pesky aforementioned cold/flu was still leaving me bit lethargic- and although I got a few errands done (with some difficulty)– I didn’t accomplish nearly as much as I had hoped during such a lovely and sunny couple of days.

One thing I *did* do, however- was head to my hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts- and to my favorite dive bar, Ralph’s, to catch their annual local film festival/competition- the Worcester Film Wars!

The premise of Film Wars is pretty cool- and anyone can enter the contest whether they have a background in acting/directing/editing/etc. or not. You and your team of friends fill out the online registration form, and then you or a representative from your team attend the launch event (also at Ralph’s) where you’ll get to spin the wheel of movie must-haves (and referred to as the “Devil Wheel.”) Whatever the spinner lands on- be it a wardrobe piece, a line of dialogue, a specific color or sound effect- is something you and your team will need to incorporate into your movie!

From there, teams have exactly 72 hours to write, shoot, edit and submit their films (3-7 minutes long!) to the judges where they will then be premiered at the actual competition the following week in front of an outdoor audience who will individually vote on their favorite of the bunch. Winners get some really great prizes from local sponsors/companies- and it’s an overall fun, silly, boozy time for everyone.

I had a blast catching up with friends from back home, having a couple of drinks, and watching all the participating teams’ efforts. It was so much fun- and the weather held up nicely despite there being possible rain in the forecast!

You can actually view some of this year’s (and past years) submissions by CLICKING HERE. Just be warned that we’re from Massachusetts- and we swear. Like, a lot. Most of those short films are probably not safe for work.

For now, I’m heading off to get some work done before my phone starts ringing off the hook, though- and then it’s onward to some dinner plans tonight!

Keep an eye out this coming Friday before I break for the weekend, however- since I’ve got a pretty fun dessert recipe to share!

Have a great day, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

My 10 Favorite Photos From 2017

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone! I hope those of you who celebrated Christmas had a wonderful, relaxing and fun weekend surrounded by loved ones. My holiday was lovely, spent mostly with my family and a few friends- and we actually had our first white Christmas in years- having been buried under a few inches of snow overnight on Christmas Eve!

As 2017 winds down and we prepare to welcome 2018- one of my favorite year-end traditions is looking through all of my photos over the past few months and narrowing them down to create a “Top Ten” of the year- and while the task has been relatively easy in the past- 2017’s collection proved to be a little more daunting. I visited so many amazing places this year, met so many amazing people, and participated in so many amazing things- that picking only ten photos from such an extensive collection of memories was a lot harder than I thought it’d be!

I digress- I’m satisfied with my top ten- and each photo tells it’s own fun story about a place/time from this past year. Stories I’m excited to share again!

Here are my 10 Favorite Photos From 2017!

10. Tranquility in Vermont (Wilmington – September 2017):

Over Labor Day Weekend, my best friend Sean and I decided to use our time off to head up towards Wilmington, Vermont to spend the extended weekend hiking, antiquing, and relaxing at an old mansion-turned-bed & breakfast and neighboring ski resort (that still had plenty to offer in the off-season!) On our last day, while going for an impromptu hike- we came across a footbridge that crossed over a river- and I snapped this photo of the view with my cell phone.

I’d love to go back to Wilmington and re-visit this spot during the Winter to see how much different it looks covered in snow.

9. Where is Spring? (Boston – March 2017):

In contrast, this photo I snapped of an empty outdoor patio area on St. Patrick’s Day in Boston painted the picture of what was undeniably one of the coldest days of the year. Blocks away, people were still lining up to get into pubs and bars to drink (and warm up)– but I was the only person as far as the eye could see in this small section of the city.

I’d ducked into the walkway of this cafe/restaurant- which was closed for the holiday- to answer a text message without taking up the sidewalk- and thought it was too neat-looking NOT to photograph.

8. That’s not creepy at all… (Medfield – October 2017):

During one of our annual stops at Medfield State Hospital in the days leading up to Halloween, my friends and I discovered that the fronts of some of the abandoned buildings and wards had been decorated with Jack-O-Lanterns that were carved by a Boy Scout Troop who had planned an overnight camping trip on the grounds.

What had been a fun and festive activity ended up creating some pretty interesting and spooky photos for those of us who were visiting! This one was my favorite out of the bunch of pictures we took that day.

7. Neighborhood Watch (Boston – May 2017):

After spending most of the morning and afternoon with my own mom on Mother’s Day- I dedicated a good portion of my evening to my fur-baby, Oliver, where we participated in his favorite pastime- watching the neighborhood from the window and howling at any other person/animal that happened to walk by (our neighbors love us.)

My mother took this photo of us mid-spying on the UPS guy who was delivering packages across the street from my place- and I loved the way it turned out.

6. Stacked Rocks and Seagulls (Hampton Beach – July 2017):

While cruising the coast in New Hampshire this past Summer, I had made an impromptu pit stop along the shore to stretch my legs and soak up some sun when I stumbled across an entire section of the beach that was lined with stacked rock formations from prior visitors. I had my camera with me, and spent some time snapping some photos of them (a few of which were really tall and impressive!) when this seagull flew into one of my shots and refused to move.

I think he adds a little charm to the photo, don’t you?

5. “Hiya, Georgie!” (Worcester – October 2017):

Out of all the movies I saw this year, I think the remake of “IT” was my favorite- so much in fact that I went as the ill-fated Georgie for Halloween. What was probably my least expensive and easiest costume to make in all my years of cosplaying ended up being one of my most popular- with people stopping me to take photos while I was out and about in this (and keeping one arm tucked up into the sleeve to give me a “just bitten” look.)

I had so much fun wearing this throughout Halloween and I hope I get the opportunity to sport it again!

4. First Snow of The Season (Belchertown – December 2017):

One of the more recent photos on this list came from a couple of weeks ago following the first significant snowfall of the season while I was in Western Massachusetts. I had stopped to take some photos along a popular hiking/biking trail by a local reservoir and found that I was the only person there- which made for some really nice, uninterrupted quiet time to stop and take in the scenery and being able to take some decent photos without having to wait for my surroundings to be clear of people or vehicles.

This photo in particular was my favorite out of the bunch.

3. I got Catfished (Worcester – May 2017):

While attending a film festival/competition at my favorite bar in my hometown one weekend back in the Spring- I had a fangirl moment when Nev and Max from MTV’s ‘Catfish’ (one of my favorite shows)¬†showed up unexpectedly. It turns out they were filming an episode locally, and had taken a break from production to come check out the festival, too.

They were incredibly nice and obliged me when I asked for a photo- which at first I was going to just send to my mom since she’s also a big fan of the show- but eventually posted on my social media to show that they were really who they said they were online.

2. My Aesthetic (San Diego – May 2017):

While visiting with friends on the West Coast during the Spring, I found myself at Ocean Beach in San Diego during some of my downtime one afternoon where I drank cold beers and sat by the surf with artists and musicians who told me their life stories and played music for me.

One group of happy travelers arrived in a bright blue VW Bus- a vehicle I’ve ALWAYS wanted to own- and the photo I took of it perfectly captures a lot of what I love most about Southern California- including the palm trees towering in the background.

1. Vegas, Baby… (May 2017):

It’s been a tough year for Vegas- for people I love in a city and landscape I adore- so this photo, taken during a West Coast excursion in the Spring- seems especially poignant given recent events this year.

After spending the afternoon attending open houses for real estate that was on the market outside of the strip, and a good portion of my evening drinking and gambling a little- I snapped this photo with my phone while I was en route back to Caesar’s Palace- where I was staying during my trip. The fountains at the Bellagio were right in the middle of going off (bottom, right-hand corner) which added a little something special to this.

It was a warm and beautiful night- and I remember feeling perfectly content and safe.

____________________________

And there they are! My ten favorite photos from 2017. A lot of landscapes and a couple of selfies- but they all tell stories about really fun high-points of my year- and I’m looking forward to documenting more incredible memories in 2018.

And if you have photos you’d like to share about special moments in your year- feel free to send them my way! I’d love to see them!

Have a great day, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

Medieval Times

When I was a kid, one of the the unanimous favorite places for field trips and birthday parties was the Higgins Armory Museum in my hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts. The building- overwhelmingly huge in size and overlooking most of the city- was a showcase for medieval armor and weaponry, as well as art and literature. Even more impressive was that a good portion of the interior was designed to look like the inside of a castle- complete with stone pillars, balconies, alters and stained glass.

Years ago, the museum also hosted an annual beer-tasting festival where breweries from all over New England would come down for a couple of days and my friends and I would go get tipsy off of endless Dixie cups filled with various wine and beer samples before we stumbled back to our friend’s nearby (former) apartment a few blocks away and ordered pizzas. Those trips were always a lot of fun.

Higgins unfortunately closed down a while ago, and most of the armory was shipped to Worcester’s Art Museum for display- rendering the big, beautiful and spacious building where majestic suits of armor, shields and swords once sat- empty and unattended for quite some time.

Until recently, anyway.

My friend Anita got married over the weekend to her now-husband, Brandon- and the reception was held in what was previously the castle-themed room at Higgins- which had been renovated and decorated absolutely and breathtakingly gorgeous. My cell phone photos simply don’t do it justice.

Now, admittedly- I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I first walked into the museum. The castle room is on the third floor of the building- and when Sean and I first entered the main hall on the first floor and were greeted by rows upon rows of empty hallways and cleaned out display cases- we weren’t sure we were in the right place. The second floor, which appeared to house a couple of offices but not much else- had us in a panic, but when we reached the third floor and saw what had been done with the space- we were ecstatic. Not only did it accommodate everyone comfortably- but we could play the music and cheer as loud as we wanted for as late as we pleased- and we didn’t have to worry about disturbing anyone!

The ceremony was lovely, laid-back, and a lot of fun. You could tell that Anita and Brandon just wanted everyone to have a good time and made it as free-spirited and wild as they are. I was also appreciative of how Anita included a lot of her culture in the ceremony (and the food!)– from her dress changes to the music choices to the decor. It was fascinating and I had a blast meeting and mingling with her family. They were all extremely nice- and they definitely know how to party!

Anita also happens to know a lot of people I used to hang out with in high school and during my early twenties- some of whom I hadn’t seen in a long time- so there were quite a few happy reunions and a lot of catching up going on during the course of the night.

I had an amazing time, and I would seriously consider throwing a Halloween party in that space someday!

Keeping up with the theme of Knights and fair maidens- on Sunday I headed over to Carver, Massachusetts with a group of my friends to check out King Richard’s Faire for the first time. Open on the weekends, the Faire runs from now through October 22nd and is essentially a large collection of vendors, shows and attractions in the middle of the woods. It’s a pretty neat setup- one that I had a lot of fun exploring- but the place is definitely on the pricier side. General admission tickets were $32 each and that doesn’t include the price of food or beverages (all considerably marked up, of course)– and if you’re thinking about buying any kind of authentic steel or leather goods- you better have your wallet and a lot of cash on you!

Astronomical prices aside- it’s an interesting way to spend an afternoon- especially to catch some of the jousting tournaments they have throughout the day. A lot of people went in costume, naturally- so I opted to go as Cersei Lannister from’Game of Thrones’- just for fun!

I love that wig so, so much.

Overall- I had a great weekend. It was action-packed and exciting- and I was really happy I got to see and spend time with so many of my friends all at once. Work can get a little crazy sometimes, and the weekends are often pretty hectic- but it’s awesome when we can all find the time to hang out together- even if it’s just for a couple of hours.

Here’s to Wednesday and the work week almost being over! Hang in there, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –