Weekend Warrior

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The weather here in New England is almost always unpredictable, to say the least- and most weather reports are taken with a grain of salt until we actually see snow/rain/sun/tornadoes for ourselves. I knew well before this past weekend that I wanted to go to the beach, regardless of the conditions- so when the scheduled sun was blocked out by the clouds and occasional showers- I didn’t let it stop me. Myself and a couple of friends headed over to Singing Beach in Manchester-By-The-Sea to lounge around on the near-empty landscape and watch the waves roll in for a couple of hours.

It wasn’t anything like laying on Ocean Beach by the Pacific in San Diego- but it’ll do for now.

Apart from a strong gust of wind every so often, it was a pleasantly warm afternoon. We had a small picnic with the snacks we had packed before eventually making our way to Captain Dusty’s Ice Cream for a couple of cones to bring with us as we headed back into the city.

Singing Beach is quickly starting to become one of my favorite Summer spots- not only because it’s impossibly clean and picturesque- but it’s also a lot easier to navigate to and less crowded than some of the other, more popular beaches in New Hampshire or down by the Cape. I’m tempted to do a write-up of the area, similar to my comparison post about Hampton Beach & Old Orchard Beach back in 2015- to assist those visiting for the first time! There’s truly a lot to see and do around the neighborhood. You just have to know where to look and how far to venture!

With Summer 2017 officially underway (albeit delayed because of the rain throughout Memorial Day Weekend kind of messing things up)– I also saw my first Summer blockbuster yesterday with my friend Stef after a late brunch during a long overdue girl date. We made it a regular women’s celebration and saw an afternoon screening of ‘Wonder Woman’- and wow. It was incredible, you guys. I’m not as big on the DC Universe as I am with Marvel- but it completely blew me away. It was powerful, action-packed, funny, sweet, AND heartbreaking- and I’m honestly just so thrilled with how well it’s doing at the box office because I would LOVE sequels.

I might even go see it again later on this week- that’s how much I enjoyed it from start to finish!

Today I’m all about work and getting things done at the office since it’s shaping up to be a pretty busy week. On Wednesday, I’ll have a really awesome and delicious recipe post to share- and then Friday is the date I’m announcing my big blogging news!

Enjoy your Monday, everyone!

xx

Return To Marble House

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Of all the mansions in Newport, Rhode Island- my favorite, by far- is Marble House. The interior decor, heavily influenced by the Palace of Versailles- is like stepping into another world when you first walk into the main hall. The house is big, bright, sparkling and luxurious- and especially pretty around sunset when the light hits all of the gold in areas like the dining and ballrooms just right- which is around the time I stopped by this past weekend to kill an afternoon since I hadn’t visited in quite some time. I had originally stopped by Cliff Walk before making my way over on foot. It was brisk outside, but not too cold- which made wandering the grounds a lot more bearable than if I’d gone during a chillier day.

By all accounts, the home’s original owner- Alva Vanderbilt- was a pretty tough and no-nonsense woman (and a badass feminist with her women’s suffrage efforts!) who was hell-bent on building up her family, their name and status no matter what it took. She went all out when choosing how the rooms were going to look- and her eye to detail really shows. It’s no wonder her neighbors and the community flocked to every party she threw here. I could just spend hours wandering from room to room all by myself!

I always said that if and when I ever get married- Marble House is one of my dream places to tie the knot. I’m sure it would cost a small fortune- but it’s on my wish list nonetheless. I’ll have to find a groom first, of course.

Below are a few of my favorite photos I snapped during my brief late-afternoon stay. Alva’s Chinese Tea House is currently fenced off for renovations/repairs (I believe!) but I’d like to go back in the Summer to see it a bit more closely.

I’m planning another trip back to Newport soon to visit Rosecliff and the Chateau-sur-Mer- both of which were closed during my last stay for various reasons. By then, the flowers in the gardens should be blooming and the trees should be blossoming- which will make for some really lovely scenery!

xx

Cha Cha Cha!

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The city of Boston has essentially been in non-stop party mode since Sunday night’s Super Bowl- and I’m still in a state of bewildered bliss, myself. I cannot BELIEVE that comeback. I mean- did that really happen or was I dreaming? Am I still dreaming? Prior to Lady Gaga’s amazing performance at halftime (side note: someone please point me in the direction to where I can buy one of those glittery/studded leotard things she was wearing. I want one for myself!)– the game was just downright painful to watch as the Falcons were mercilessly pummeling the Pats. I didn’t think there was any way to come back from that beat-down…

… But I guess miracles really do happen and it’s never truly over until it’s over. I went from borderline heartbroken to nail-biting levels of nervous, to a stunned/ecstatic mix of emotions and then straight into frenzied celebration mode in a matter of minutes during overtime on Sunday night and let me tell you- it was EXHAUSTING– in a good way, of course!

Today was the Patriots’ homecoming party in the form of my city’s favorite victory tradition: the Duck Boat Parade. Work and rough weather conditions prevented me from going, but some of my friends mustered up the courage to call out sick and bundle up to brave the sleet and ice to find a spot along the parade route early this morning- and their photos/videos were giving me life in my office all day. I couldn’t stop smiling.

The celebration will continue well into this weekend for many, I’m sure- and I’m already eyeing some commemorative gear to  splurge on as a memento for what is hands-down my most favorite Super Bowl I’ve ever watched (so far, anyway!)

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Prior to Sunday’s big game, I did some pre-gaming of my own with friends at a couple of new spots in Everett and Melrose. On Saturday, I finally got around to checking out the Cha Cha Cha Taqueria in Everett- a hole in the wall/blink and you’ll miss it Mexican food spot I passed by chance a few weeks ago while on my way home and had made a mental note to check it out ever since. Although the place is pretty small on the inside- it’s some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had. I ordered a chicken quesadilla, which came rolled in a seasoned corn tortilla instead of pressed flat in a flour one- and what a difference it made!

I ended up eating the entire thing (and also- yay for street tacos!) with chips and homemade guacamole. Completely gluttonous and worth it. I’ll definitely be going back.

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Later on that night, when I was back in Melrose and needed to walk off my gigantic quesadilla (and get a coffee to keep myself out of a food coma)– my BFF Sean and I took a brisk walk over to Main Street and, specifically- D’Amici’s Bakery. I’d only ever been in there once before for a quick cappuccino last Fall and didn’t take the time to sit down and really savor the place, so it was nice to do it this time. Their coffee/tea/hot chocolate selections are fantastic- and their baked goods are delicious. I ended up getting a chocolate cannoli to eat while I was there, but I also picked up a few of the above-pictured Patriots cupcakes to bring to my Super Bowl party the following night and they ended up being a big hit.

I think I know where I’ll be going the next time I need to pick up sweets for any functions/parties!

Overall, it’s been a very exciting weekend and week so far- and I’m very much looking forward to a day or two of downtime after a couple of big meetings I have lined up at work within the next few days so that I can pause and catch my breath for a moment- and also finish some much-needed renovations here on the blog without distraction. I’m excited to reveal the changes once they’re done.

We’re almost to the weekend everyone. Hang in there!

xx

Bundling Up and Burgers…

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Jamaica Pond, 1/8/17

When you live in New England, making concrete plans between the months of late November through mid-March can be a tricky thing. Our weather is unpredictable, to put it mildly- and snowstorms/blizzards can delay even the most local of get-togethers. If walking along Boston sidewalks is stressful enough- then NOBODY wants to brave driving or public transport to get where they’re going. Nobody.

Such was the case this past Saturday, when Winter Storm Helena rolled through the Northeast and left highway pileups, plow/sanding delays, and dangerously cold temperatures in her wake. The storm seemed to be a surprise birthday present for my best friend Sean- who had made dinner and drinks plans with a large group of us to commemorate his special day well before anyone even knew the storm was coming.

Sadly, Helena hit earlier in the day than expected- leaving me trapped in Central Massachusetts where I had been running some errands until early Sunday morning when the roads were finally clear. I had attempted to get back into Boston in time for Sean’s party- but after the third or fourth time my poor Elantra began fishtailing on the ice was when I eventually gave up and turned back.

That doesn’t mean we didn’t celebrate in our own way, however. Once I was back in the city on Sunday- Sean and I (as well as our friend Stephen) made dinner arrangements at Grass Fed JP, an all-natural burger joint on Centre Street in Jamaica Plain that cooks up some of the best burgers (and truffle fries!) I’ve ever tasted. I went for The Cali Burger and have no regrets. It was delicious.

They also offer up some tasty sounding alcohol-infused milkshakes, but since I was driving- I opted to save trying those for another time (and also it was way too cold out for milkshakes!)

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I’m actually tempted to try my hand and making my own truffle fries this coming weekend- so be on the lookout for a recipe post at some point next week! I doubt they’ll be as awesome as Grass Fed’s, but it’s worth a shot.

After dinner- Sean, Stephen and I popped around the corner to grab our caffeine fix (although I stuck with hot chocolate since I was still running on a jet fuel level espresso I had earlier that afternoon) at 7 Pond Coffee Bar. It’s a cute, quaint, and tiny hole in the wall that you may miss if you blink as you pass it- but if you’re ever in the area- you have to drop in. Their cocoa is some of the best around- and Sean couldn’t get enough of his cappuccino, either!

With hot drinks in hand and Stephen heading off to meet up with his family- Sean and I braved the arctic tundra temperatures to take a quick stroll by Jamaica Pond before eventually retreating to the warmth of my car and then the apartment after we returned to Melrose for some much needed video games and binge-watching on Netflix.

My birthday- the next in line- is a couple of weeks away, and I’m just now picking a place for my friends and I to gather for some food and a couple of cocktails. I have a few ideas in mind- but here’s hoping Mother Nature doesn’t intervene and disrupt everything again!

As part of my “blog more/create more content” pledge for 2017- I’m going to start highlighting more of my favorite local eateries, too. Whether they’re old favorites or new finds- I’m always looking for recommendations for good food and enjoy sharing them with others, too. Grass Fed JP & 7 Pond Coffee Bar are just the tip of the iceberg of excellent places to check out in the Boston area!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

xx

Hello, 2017…

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New Year’s Eve, Vermont. 12/31/16

Good Morning and Happy (Belated) New Year, everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend ushering in 2017! I’ve been preoccupied at my office the past couple of days, staying busy and on top of my first-of-the-year workload- but before I dove into that, I spent an exquisite weekend in Springfield, Vermont savoring some much needed peace and quiet at one of my favorite New England getaway destinations- The Hartness House.

The Hartness House is a former Victorian-style mansion (which belonged to James and Lena Hartness) turned inn that is a popular destination for locals’ weddings, formal functions, and for skiers and snowboarders to lay their heads for a night before hitting the slopes in the early mornings. My first trip to The Hartness House was when I was about eight or nine years old. My parents brought me up for a weekend during the holiday season and I quickly fell in love with the house, the surrounding gardens, and the underground tunnels that lead to the gigantic Hartness Equatorial Turret Telescope on the property (James was a big fan of astronomy, as it turns out.)

One of my most vivid memories of my first trip to the inn, however- was sitting in front of the fireplace and a massive Christmas tree in a large library area and reading a book undisturbed while my parents sat nearby and played board games. And then, of course- was the food. The inn boasted an impressive menu and talented kitchen staff. My family and I were so thrilled with our first initial visit that we ended up making a few more stops there throughout the next few years.

So when it came time to make plans for New Year’s Eve, and the idea of doing anything other than fall off the grid for a few days and relax was enough to make my head spin- I thought of re-visiting one of my fondest childhood memories and booked Lena Hartness’ suite for the New Year’s weekend. I had heard the inn had gone through some renovations and a change of ownership in recent years- so I wasn’t sure what to expect- but my mind was immediately put at ease when I first walked in and saw the main hall in all it’s splendor (and still decorated from Christmas!)

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Every room- including mine- was adorned with Christmas trees. It was such a nice treat to walk into- and right away the staff were so unbelievably friendly and accommodating. On New Year’s Eve, as the clock ticked closer and closer to midnight- I crept down to the inn’s tavern to grab a drink and a bite to eat. Not only did I get those things, but I got some funky 2017 glasses, a tiara and a confetti popper from the ladies who were bartending, too! By the time midnight rolled around- most of the kitchen staff had gathered together with those of us lounging at the bar- including a few locals who had dropped by- to celebrate and share a toast with us. I could not imagine a more pleasant group of new faces to drink champagne and ring in the New Year with!

By the end of the weekend, we were all on a first name basis with each other. Even though I had gone up to the inn solo- I never, not once, felt lonely. Everyone went above and beyond to make me feel welcomed and comfortable during my stay. I’m so grateful for their hospitality and laid-back natures. It was so refreshing.

And remember how good I said the food was when I was a kid? It was even better this time around. The head chef, Nick- is AMAZING– as made evident by my delicious NYE dinner and the follow-up brunches and breakfasts I had during my remaining days there. I couldn’t help but snap a photo of the menu and one of my meals before I dug into it- because it even photographed incredible:

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And while I caught up on plenty of rest at The Hartness House, I did take some time to explore some of the surrounding towns, as well- Charlestown, Rockingham, and Bellows Falls- where I did some antique shopping and marveled at the mountains while I sipped a hot cup of coffee.

I also discovered a lot of abandoned places around the section of Vermont I was traveling around, too- which is going to make for a nice follow-up trip to photograph them once the warm weather rolls around and I don’t have so much snow blocking my views!

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I returned home on Monday, the 2nd- but not before making a pit stop in Melrose to meet up with Sean, grab some Mexican food and catch up since we hadn’t had the chance to see each other since right before Christmas. His birthday is tomorrow- and we’ve got some big plans I can’t wait to get to!

Overall, my New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and Post-New Year’s Day were wonderful and very chill. If anyone reading this should ever find themselves in Vermont- I strongly recommend you make a stop and take a night to rest at The Hartness House. Being there is an experience in itself and you won’t regret it! I promise! Every room is unique and gorgeous in it’s own way, the staff are an absolute joy, the food cannot be beat- and it’s the perfect spot if you just want to get away for a little while. I came home feeling positively refreshed, radiant- and ready to take on the new year!

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Not a bad start to 2017, if I do say so myself!

xx

Top 10 Photographs of 2016

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Combing through all of my photos from this past year has been a trip. I’ve been to so many incredible places, have met and spent time with equally incredible people- and have been fortunate enough to occasionally just be in right moment at the right time to catch a perfect shot. Narrowing down hundreds of photos to just ten, and then ranking them proved to be quite a challenge- but this is one of two year-end traditions here on ‘Legally Redhead’. The other, my “In a Nutshell” post that will summarize 2016 in it’s excruciatingly long entirety- will be up tomorrow! I wanted to do this the right way, after all!

All but two of these photos were taken by me (and the two in question have me in them and were taken by other people)– and most are from my travels around New England and across the country this past year. It’s been a lot of fun re-visiting those moments and memories as I organized these pictures for this post- and I hope everyone enjoys them as much as I do!

Without further delay, here are my ten favorite photographs from 2016.

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#10: Coney Island (July 5th)

In the early, sunny morning hours following the 4th- my best friend Sean and I hopped a train bound to New York City for a day out together. The original plan had been to try and get a crazy elaborate milkshake at Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer and maybe hang around Central Park for a while- but we ended up riding the subway all the way to Coney Island, instead. I had never been- and Sean hadn’t been since he was a kid.

On the agenda was riding the famous and historic Cyclone roller coaster and strolling the boardwalk for a couple of hours. The weather was perfect, it wasn’t too crowded- and I snapped this quick photo of the Cyclone before we headed back to the subway so we could catch a quick dinner near Grand Central Station before our train departed for home. This is a nice memento from such a beautiful day.

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#9: Negan(ette) & Eugene (July 30th)

Some of the most fun I had in 2016 was cosplaying as Negan from ‘The Walking Dead’, and when you combine that aforementioned fun with the hilarity that Josh McDermitt (who plays Eugene on the show) brings each and every time he’s in town- you’ve got the making for a pretty epic photo- even if the roles are reversed and he’s the one holding Lucille! This phone selfie, taken by Josh, was taken at the ‘Walker Stalker’ convention this past Summer when it rolled through Boston for a long weekend. It was my first time wearing my Negan costume- and it was a big hit.

There were a lot of photos from that weekend- but this is by far my favorite. It never fails to make me grin. I had so much fun and I can’t wait to go back next year if it returns to Boston!

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#8: Last Night in The Chelsea Apartment (July 23rd)

I swear, not all of my favorite photos are from July of this past year- but a lot was going on then- including saying goodbye to the beautiful apartment in Chelsea following some unforeseen circumstances with the landlord selling the place and booting all the tenants out per the buyer/developer’s request. After a “moving out” party, which involved my friends and I eating way too much pizza and drinking way too much alcohol- I snapped this photo at sunset from the balcony that overlooked the Mystic River, the Tobin Bridge, and the Boston skyline. It had been unbelievably hot out that night- and a thunderstorm was blowing in from the West- making the sky explode with pinks, purples and oranges.

It was a bittersweet scene, really- and I couldn’t think of a better send-off to a place my friends and I hung out hats for years and years.

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#7: “Didn’t they film The Shining here?” (April 23rd)

Back in the beginning of Spring, Sean and I decided to take a weekend road trip up to the White Mountains in New Hampshire and spend a couple of days at the (allegedly haunted) Mount Washington Hotel- which eerily resembled The Overlook Hotel from “The Shining”. The history of the hotel is fascinating, and the entire place was stunning inside and out- complete with a former speakeasy-turned-fully-functioning-bar, restaurants, a cafe, movie theater, arcade, indoor swimming pool, spacious conference areas, etc.- and Sean and I opted to stay up all hours to explore as much as we could in-between zip-lining over and repelling down huge trees in the still-snowy mountains.

This photo was taken on our last day at the resort, from across the road that leads up to the hotel. I thought it was such a beautiful scene with the mountains looming behind it. I’d love to go back in 2017!

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#6: Overlooking The Atlantic (January 1st)

I spent last New Year’s Eve and this past New Year’s Day on the island of Nantucket- drinking champagne, dancing the night away, and then trekking through the quiet cobblestone streets and taking in the views of the big, beautiful houses and the ocean until it was time to catch a ferry back to my car in Hyannis. Sean captured this photo of me by one of the lighthouses on the island and I think it sums up the “aimless wanderer and avid traveler” part of my personality perfectly- beanie on my head and backpack stuffed with my belongings.

Even though it was January, we were on the waterfront, and it was cloudy out- the weather wasn’t too chilly or windy that day- and it felt nice being outdoors. I miss Nantucket, and since it’s technically the off-season for tourists, I think I’ll head back for a visit soon!

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#5: Stop & Enjoy The Foliage (October 11th)

After a stressful Summer and a long return flight home from San Diego a few days earlier, it felt nice to take a day to stroll through the pretty, picturesque New England Autumn scenery- which always brings me so much calm and comfort. I stopped to take this photo on a cloudless, brisk afternoon hike through Sudbury, Massachusetts before heading to a friend’s apartment for dinner plans we had made. While most of the trees were only just starting to turn various shades of oranges, reds and yellows- this one was already in full-blown Fall mode- and I thought it looked gorgeous against the blue sky.

When I eventually leave New England- it’s days like that one that I will miss the most.

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#4: San Diego After Dark (October 5th)

On my last night of my Fall vacation in San Diego, during one of my usual “but I don’t want to leave!” bouts of sadness at the prospect of having to return to chilly Massachusetts the following morning- I went for a late night stroll around downtown and The Gaslamp Quarter and came across these illuminated palm trees not far from the convention center (where San Diego Comic-Con is held.) There wasn’t another single soul around apart from me, so I basked in the light and their leaves and snapped this photo with my cell phone to look back on whenever I got homesick for the West Coast.

It was a lovely night and an unexpected find to wrap up my trip.

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#3: The Most Bizarre Snowstorm Imaginable (February 5th)

Growing up in New England, I’m no stranger to unusual and unpredictable weather. Blizzards? Heat waves? Tornadoes? Hurricanes? I’ve seen just about everything- but the freakish snowstorm that blew through the area in early February and covered EVERYTHING with a heavy blanket of snow that stuck to the trees like glue was something new to me. I captured this photo in my mother’s driveway, where literally INCHES of snow clung to every single part of every single branch instead of simply falling to the ground- making her neighborhood look like a weird, cartoon version of a Winter wonderland.

High winds blew all of that snow off the branches that very same night- but it was really neat looking as the sun began to set and this is one of my favorite photos I took of it as I was losing daylight. It really was something to behold.

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#2: “I see London…” (September 30th)

What can I say about my Vegas trip at the end of September, apart from that it was incredible? Seeing one of my favorite bands perform one of my favorite albums at the venue it was named after was just surreal- and sharing the experience with people I simply adore and cherish and who have become lifelong friends and family made it all the better. I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the Sam’s Town sign with the marquee advertising The Killers weekend performances there. I completely had a fangirl moment the very first time that I saw it (I had never been before!) and needed to commemorate the occasion.

Side Note: Don’t ever drink too much whiskey in Sam’s Town. Yikes. I’m still feeling that one.

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#1: “The Echoes They Left Behind…” (October 18th)

Leave it to me to have something completely morbid and maybe a little depressing at the top of the list- but I’m still not over this discovery of discarded grave markers Sean and I found thrown away in the woods on the outskirts of what was formerly the Danvers State Hospital/Asylum. Each marker represents a person with a past, a life, a family somewhere- and their death- and to see these things just heaved into the woods like trash was a sobering moment for me. I’ve been photographing abandoned buildings and places for years- and sometimes you see some pretty messed up stuff- but this admittedly got to me and made me a bit emotional.

I took this photo not only because I couldn’t believe what I had seen- but as a reminder that those who lived and died within Danvers’ walls shouldn’t be forgotten.

And there they are- my top ten photographs from the year. Looking back, I really did travel to some gorgeous and exciting places- a tradition I hope to continue well into 2017 where I plan to take even more pictures and make it even harder on myself to narrow them down come the New Year’s Eve before 2018 starts- but I shouldn’t get ahead of myself.

Here’s to documenting the finer moments of 2016 and keeping the memories they’ve left in my heart and mind forever!

xx

Legends of the Fall

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Even though I am missing the weather in Las Vegas and San Diego like crazy- it hasn’t completely interfered with my love of all things Fall here in New England- especially with the foliage just starting to hit it’s peak color-changing potential. There’s still some green here and there- but everything has gradually been turning bright and beautiful shades of red, yellow and orange since I got back home. It’s my favorite transition between seasons- even though I know that transition is eventually going to lead into frigid and snowy winter in what I’m sure will feel like no time at all.

I’ve been putting in overtime at work since my return to the East Coast last week (planning an eventual cross-country move is gonna’ cost money, after all-) but Tuesday afternoon, after putting in a few extra hours at the office in the morning- I took the opportunity to take a long and winding drive to visit friends North of Boston. On my way, I stopped at the historic Wayside Inn in Sudbury to go on a little hike and snap some photos of the surrounding scenery.

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Hurricane Matthew had dumped quite a bit of rain on us recently (and I’m thankful that was the worst of what we saw here considering how bad it got down South,) but it couldn’t have been more perfect outside during my excursion on Tuesday. It was warm- but not too warm- and sunny. There wasn’t a single cloud in the sky- and it held out that way until the temperatures started to drop by the time the sun began to set just as I was finishing up a delicious Thai dinner in Melrose.

This coming weekend is the annual Rock & Shock convention in my hometown, so I know I’ll be too preoccupied checking it out with old friends to head out and take more pictures of the leaves until next week at the earliest- but I’m quite content with the photos I’ve snapped so far!

Next week I’m going to have the details for my Halloween Giveaway up and running- and of course a few more “Horrors of Netflix” posts, too!

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xx

Scenes From Snowpocalypse ’16!

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When I woke up to get ready for work last Friday morning, after a warm-but-kind-of-rainy evening in Northampton the night before- my heart dropped into the pit of my stomach when I looked out my window and saw the beginnings of what looked like a horrendous blizzard. The roads were awful (not only did my car slide all over the place- but so did I when I tried walking to the entrance of my office), it was so bitterly cold outside- and no one knew when it was scheduled to stop- making being trapped at work for the weekend until my co-workers and I could dig ourselves and our vehicles out of our parking lot an actual possibility.

To say I had panic-inducing flashbacks of last Winter’s endless onslaught of snow and ice storms would be an understatement- and not even the large quantities of pizza my company sent us to get us through the day could put my mind at ease. I just kept thinking about the shoveling, the cabin fever I experienced throughout last January-March, the shoveling, dodging sliding vehicles when I braved the outside world- the shoveling…

Thankfully, by the time I left for the day- the snow had stopped and the sun had actually come out. Sure, it took the help of two of my co-workers to dig my car out of the snow so I could get home (and the roads weren’t nearly as bad as they had been in the morning!) but it was the post-storm scenery that stopped me in my tracks. In all the years I’ve lived in New England- I’ve never, not once- seen the trees look the way they did on Friday afternoon. They were all covered in so much snow that they didn’t even look real. I had to stop and take a few photos before the temperatures rose again and everything began to melt.

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I’ve been keeping warm these past few days between my home and my office in my usual fashion- bundling up in all the layers ever, drinking plenty of hot cocoa (with marshmallows, of course!), and getting as much writing done as I can here on ‘Legally Redhead’ from the comfort under my fleece blankets.  It’s been a fun little balancing act between work, play, and blogging- one that has definitely kept me busy!

But, of course, I managed to put aside the time this past weekend to enjoy the Super Bowl, the advertisements (I’m still really, really confused by that “Puppy Monkey Baby” thing,) and do what everyone does during the big game- stuff my face with the unhealthiest foods imaginable. Last year, my contribution to my friends’ annual Super Bowl party was an impressive buffalo chicken dip. This year- I opted for tater tot nachos (served on paper plates, because amped up football fans and breakable dishware is not a good combination.)

Like conventional tortilla chip nachos, there are literally 100+ ways to prepare tater tot ones depending on your tastes and how much time you have to get the ingredients together and do a little cooking- but I chose the fail-proof old fashioned method of cooking up the tots, spreading an even layer of seasoned ground beef and shredded cheese over them in a glass bowl, heating them in the stove until the cheese melted- and then smothering them in shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and sour cream (salsa and guacamole were separate!)

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They were a pretty big hit. I’m thinking my next attempt will incorporate Monterrey Jack and maybe some Gouda cheeses. The possibilities with these are endless!

And now that you’ve all been given the updates on the past few snowy days- I’m getting ready to share some fun collaborations I’ve been working on, review a couple of my monthly subscription services, and dive into my February Hits List in the coming days!

‘Til next time!

xx

Christmas in Nantucket

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Although I am no stranger to Cape Cod, often visiting a couple of times every other Summer and sporadically throughout the “off-season” (see: Fall/Winter months), it’s been a really, really long time since I stepped foot on the island of Nantucket. So long, in fact- that I can’t quite remember when it actually was. I obviously must have been little the last time I ventured out that way- because my return trip there near the end of last week to visit my cousin who is currently residing and studying on the island was like seeing the small, seaside community with fresh, new eyes for the very first time.

The great thing about beach communities around Christmastime is that they are rarely, if ever crowded. You can walk down the streets without bumping into a handful of people (or a ton of tourists) at any direction and the shops, restaurants, and attractions that remain open year-round are usually priced much more fairly as opposed to mid-June or July when rates go up as available space in hotels or places to eat go down.

But the best part about visiting a beach community this time of year- and specifically Nantucket, which is just gorgeous in it’s own right with it’s cobblestone streets and very old and historic homes and neighborhoods- is that you get to marvel at the beautiful holiday decor the locals take the time to set up.

After hopping off the ferry from Hyannis and greeting my cousin on the dock- my day on the island was essentially a non-stop walking tour through Nantucket’s historic downtown shopping district, along the waterfront and surrounding docks (where I got to see firsthand exactly how seagulls hunt for food and dear God- is it brutal and fascinating at the same time!), and beside a festive-looking and fully-functioning lighthouse.

The weather was unusually warm and sunny for most of the day (I didn’t need a jacket over my sweater!) which made my visit even more enjoyable since I wasn’t freezing with every step I took.

We also stopped for a delicious early dinner at the Rose and Crown as the sun began to set and the temperatures gradually began to drop little by little and before I had to catch my ferry back to the mainland. If anyone visiting the area stops by- I highly recommend their grilled cheeses and bacon jam baguette sandwich- which is what I ordered and proceeded to wolf down shamelessly since it was so good. I think I’ll have to attempt to make my own one of these days.

All in all, I had a beautiful day. It was wonderful to see my cousin again and spend a good amount of time with her since her initial move there a couple of months ago- and I have fallen completely in love with Nantucket. I plan on visiting again shortly after the New Year and hopefully spending an extended weekend there to do more exploring (and shopping!)

Below are just a few of my favorite photos I snapped throughout my stay- but they don’t do the island nearly enough justice. It’s such a beautiful, peaceful place- and many of the locals I encountered were unbelievably friendly!

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xx

“The scent of apples – I am drowsing off…”

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BrookfieldOrchardsSept20151

One of my favorite Autumn activities in New England is, without a doubt, going apple picking at any of the beautiful orchards located in the more picturesque parts of Massachusetts. I usually take an entire morning and/or afternoon for the occasion so that I can enjoy the scenic drive along back roads to and from the orchard and still have plenty of time to pick my apples while sipping a cup of warmed cider or nibbling on a freshly baked apple dumpling. It’s such a wonderful (and delicious) way to welcome the Fall.

This past Sunday, although drizzling on and off, was just as good as any other day to head to Brookfield Orchards (a longtime favorite location for my family and friends- and one I’ve been going to since I was a little kid,) and stock up on fresh apples for snacking and baking. The trees were unbelievably full- the most I’ve seen them in years- which led to a lot of great photos and quite the haul!

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Couldn’t resist a selfie!

I also made it a point to pick up a few of Brookfield Orchard’s very popular apple cider donuts- which you can watch being baked fresh right inside their country store. They’re pretty addictive, and taste amazing when paired with a hot cup of coffee or tea. I really need to find a recipe so that I can try to make my own at home one of these days.

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With plenty of apples to get me through the next few days (or weeks), I’m getting ready for my other favorite orchard/Autumn activity- pumpkin picking. I love piling into my car with my friends and going on a state-wide search for the biggest pumpkin imaginable. It’s a time honored tradition!

xx