Hello, 2017…

Comment 1 Standard

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!)

Click on any of the images to make them bigger!

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:



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!

Click on any of the images to make them bigger!

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!


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


2016: In a Nutshell.

Leave a comment Standard

(.gif via Tumblr.)

Whenever I go to write one of my annual year-end wrap-up posts, I like to take a look back on the last one I put together- not only to track my progress with the resolutions I had set for myself and adjust any of the ones I didn’t accomplish so that I can try to complete them again- but to also see what events/news changed over the course of the year that followed, too.

Oddly enough, this little snippet from New Year’s Eve in 2015 caught my eye:

Indeed, I’m a little anxious for 2016. Not necessarily in a bad way, but I’m eager for it to begin- not only because it marks the year I will be turning thirty (gasp!) and I’m actually quite excited to enter a new decade of my life with all the wisdom I’ve gained over the past ten years of laughter, tears, triumphs, tragedies and PLENTY of mistakes (and believe me- I’ll have a post up with all of those juicy details and some well-intentioned advice within a couple of weeks just for the occasion!) but because, overall- 2015 was a bit rough for me- and I don’t believe it would be an exaggeration to say it was possibly one of the more difficult years I’ve had since my father’s untimely death in 2012.

Of course, had I known exactly what a dumpster fire 2016 would turn out to be- I never would have taken a moment of 2015 for granted.

Listen: 2016 had good moments. Even the most awful of years have them- and I’m truly grateful they were peppered across the past twelve months. Indeed, my turning 30 was a joyous and wildly celebrated occasion by both friends and family alike. One of my best friends got married to a wonderful guy whom she loves very much. I had an amazing vacation in Las Vegas and San Diego and another (and equally amazing) mini-vacation in Virginia and around D.C. I excelled in my career, I spent time with old friends I hadn’t seen in a very long time (including my long-time West Coast family- Tom, Andrea and their beautiful baby boy, Lorenzo!) I met new and incredible people, and traveled to new & different places- some local and some not-so-local- that I would have otherwise overlooked or missed entirely during my somewhat sporadic days off from my job. Plus, “Captain America: Civil War” came out this year- and that was awesome, right?

But 2016’s rough patches often overshadowed the good times- and not just for me- but for a lot of other people, too.

The biggest blow came at the beginning of Summer when I ended a 7-year relationship (which tied into a 15 year-friendship) that I documented here on “Legally Redhead” shortly after the dust had finally settled. Although in my heart of hearts I know it was for the best and that I had made the right decision to cut the man who had hurt me and betrayed my trust beyond comprehension out of my life entirely- it was still an agonizing ordeal that really screwed me up emotionally and mentally for a long time after the fact. I would be lying if I said that it still doesn’t sting just a little bit when I look back on it- and although I formed a new friendship with another woman who had been hurt by the same guy at the exact same time, which was really the only silver lining to the whole mess of a situation- it was still devastating and draining to me in so many ways.

The breakup had a negative ripple effect into some of my longtime close friendships with a couple of different guys in my life, too. Men I’d known for years and who I thought I had a mutual understanding and respect with suddenly tried to swoop in and become romantically (or just plain physically) involved with me despite my working through a considerable amount of pain and anguish and making things downright uncomfortable and confusing at times. It goes without saying that I’ve been cleaning house and “taking out the trash” in certain aspects of my life for the past few months- actively trying to rid myself and surroundings of people whom I feel have a negative impact on me, my life, my progress, and my overall happiness. It all ties into my resolutions for 2017- which I’ll get to in a bit.

This past year also saw my encounter some financial setbacks due to unforeseen circumstances. A change in my living situation stood to help me save more money, however my old car finally dying once and for all caused a considerable amount of stress when I had to rush out to purchase a new one in order to get myself to/from work and my daily activities. Although I adore my new Elantra- the extra payment every month definitely hurts whenever I dare look at my bank account statements- which isn’t exactly ideal for someone trying to budget a move to the West Coast. I’ve been putting in a lot of overtime at work to help make up some of the funds- and with a recent change in my schedule that provides me a but more flexibility- I’m hoping it will all become easier to manage in the coming months and new year.

Before I jump into my hopes, goals and aspirations for 2017- I wanted to take a look back at this past year that was: the headlines, the trends, and the odds  & ends that made up a wild and unpredictable 12 months that I don’t think any of us are going to forget anytime soon.

This is 2016, in a nutshell:


(Image via People)

What the actual f*ck, America?!: In one of the most stunning upsets in politics and in history in general, former reality TV star, corrupt businessman and present-day puppet to Vladimir Putin (with absolutely no control over his temper- a brilliant combination if there ever was one)- Donald Trump actually convinced people that despite multiple scandals and bankruptcies- he was somehow fit to run a country and was elected President of the United States after a long, volatile, and downright ugly campaign against actual experienced politician, Hillary Clinton. Since then, each and every day’s news headlines just seem to be “oh God, did he really just do/say that?” and sure enough- he did.

I wrote about my feelings on the election results back in November- so reiterating my disgust with Trump, the people he has surrounded himself with, and his supporters isn’t necessary at this point- but I’m hoping that the recent findings of his ties to Russia, Putin, and their proven interference with the election changes the course of this sham of a decision and this embarrassment of a “leader” (and even bigger embarrassment of a man) gets impeached A.S.A.P.


(Image via New York Times)

What the actual f*ck, England?: Not that it helps me feel any better, but America wasn’t the only country who lost their collective minds this past year. In another shocking development- the United Kingdom willingly opted out of remaining in the European Union- “breaking free” after campaigns filled with fear-mongering and anti-immigration sentiments were concocted by those leading the brigade to abandon the EU- and which also played a role in the public assassination of Parliament member Jo Cox- and thus changed their country’s course forever.

Immediate changes included David Cameron stepping down as Prime Minister and the pound quickly (and alarmingly) losing it’s value- although long-term consequences are still up in the air and many are left feeling uncertain about their futures and the future of their economy, national security, livelihoods, healthcare, etc.

We know how you feel, England. You can come sit with us. Let’s talk about it.


(Images via various news sources)

Who DIDN’T die this year?: If you’re reading this, then congratulations- you’re alive- and that’s more than so many beloved musicians, actors/actresses, sports legends and cultural icons can say after 2016. I had a feeling things were going to be bad this year when David Bowie and Alan Rickman passed away unexpectedly within days of each other- but I never anticipated someone like Prince (I wrote about my feelings on his passing here) or Anton Yelchin to go in the horrible ways they did, either. It felt like we were losing people we loved and admired left and right in 2016- and even as I type this- I’m afraid someone else will leave us before I get the chance to publish this post. That’s how frequently it’s been happening.

I know we’re going to lose people in 2017, too. It’s inevitable- but I really, really hope that the losses are few and that most folks get to stick around and enjoy more days ahead just a little longer.

[EDITED TO ADD] Since starting this post, I’ve had to add two additional celebrities to the collage- George Michael and Carrie Fisher. That’s how brutal this year has been.

[EDITED TO ADD II] Rest in Peace, Debbie Reynolds.

(Image via CBS News)

(Image via CBS News)

Flint, Michigan poisoned it’s own residents: Although the contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan started back in 2014- the rest of the Nation didn’t really hear much about it until this year. Following officials’ failure to properly apply corrosion inhibitors after changing the source of Flint’s water supply- the area’s drinking water became contaminated with high levels of lead and dangerous neurotoxins. To date, it’s possible 10 people have died due to complications stemming from ailments caused by ingesting the water- and up to 12,000 children have been exposed to the elevated lead amounts- which can cause serious health issues in the future.

Flint was declared to be in a State of Emergency back in January, with officials scrambling to solve the problem at it’s source- and criminal indictments have come down on negligent members in the Department of Environmental Quality and Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services- but many residents to this day still do not have access to clean drinking water. It’s completely unacceptable and the crisis serves as a painful reminder that we are not being diligent enough in keeping people- especially kids- safe.

(Image via CNN)

(Image via CNN)

This waste of Oxygen got a slap on the wrists for being a rapist: Oh, to be a wealthy white male in 2016. You can get away with pretty much anything- including raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster until two good Samaritans find you and pin your ass on the ground while they wait for the police arrive to put you in cuffs. Such was the case of Brock Turner- a student athlete at Stanford University who was sentenced to six months in prison (but only served three) after he was spotted sexually assaulting an unconscious woman following a house/fraternity party in 2015. Although a jury found Turner guilty of three felonies at the end of his Spring 2016 trial- Judge Aaron Persky handed down one of the lightest sentences imaginable- citing his concern that prison may have had a harmful effect on this piece of shit.

The decision was, understandably, met with harsh criticism and protest. Turner has been banned from competing in any USA Swimming event, and his father faced backlash and public shaming for crude and irresponsible remarks he’d made about the crime following the sentencing. Perhaps the only good thing to come from such a despicable series of events was the victim’s pull-no-punches impact statement- which has since gone viral and has shined a light on the ongoing epidemic of on-campus sexual assaults throughout colleges and universities across the country.

(Image via NY Mag)

(Image via NY Mag)

Oh my God, this gorilla: Back in May, following a toddler climbing into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo- the attraction’s 17-year old gorilla, Harambe- was shot and killed by staff after he’d grabbed at and started to drag the child around. Officials at the zoo explained that there was no other option as the toddler’s safety was in jeopardy when Harambe reportedly became more and more agitated at the panic and hysteria from the onlooking crowd that had gathered. The entire incident was captured on video and uploaded onto the internet where it spread like wildfire across social media.

Tragic? Absolutely. Infuriating? Of course (who doesn’t keep enough of an eye on their child to not catch them climbing a four-foot-high fence and crawling through bushes at a wild animal enclosure?)– but I don’t think any of us expected the memes that followed. Each tribute to Harambe was so over-the-top, so inappropriately funny with it’s exaggerated sincerity- that poor Harambe easily became one of the most recognizable memes to emerge from 2016- spanning across the internet, television, and music alike.

But really, all joking aside- if you take your child to a zoo- watch them carefully, for f*ck’s sake.

(Image via NPR)

(Image via NPR)

Our hearts broke for Orlando: On June 12, 2016- the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida became the site of the deadliest terror attack on American soil since 9/11 and the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history following an attack by a lone gunman with ties to ISIS that left 49 people dead and 53 injured- most of which were members of the LGBT and Latino Community. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Facebook implemented their “Safety Check” feature for the first time in America which allowed those in the area to notify friends, family members and followers that they were out of harm’s way- as stories of courage and bravery amid the chaos from survivors who had risked their lives to help others began to trickle out to various news outlets.

In the aftermath of the shooting, gun control was once again brought to the forefront of political debates and arguments on all facets of social media- and the nation rallied together to voice their support for the victims’ families, the survivors, and for the LGBT Community. The club has since been purchased by the city of Orlando with plans to convert it into a memorial to honor those who had lost their lives while simply trying to have a fun night out dancing and being who they were.

(Image via NYMag)

(Image via NYMag)

Do you believe in miracles?: Coming from Boston, where I witnessed the Red Sox break their own curse back in 2004- nothing gave me more of a thrill than watching the nail-biter, edge-of-your-seat final game in the 2016 World Series, where the Chicago Cubs looked to clinch their first series win since 1908 against the Cleveland Indians (who hadn’t won a series since 1948). With a tie-up that lead to extra innings, a rain delay, and the game running well into the late night hours- seeing the Cubs finally come back and win the whole thing was one of the few truly touching and inspiring sports moments- and moments in general- of 2016.

And although I’m not a Cubs fan by any means- it was an absolute joy to see how happy their supporters and the city of Chicago were following the victory- including a parade that was attended by nearly five million people. I wish I could have been there!

(Image via Variety)

(Image via Variety)

“Hamilton” reigned supreme: Although this Broadway musical made it’s debut in early 2015, it took the show being nominated for- and then winning- 11 of 16 Tony Awards for a lot of people to stop and take notice. Written by and initially starring Lin-Manuel Miranda as the lead role, “Hamilton” tells the story of the life and death of Alexander Hamilton with some of the catchiest songs imaginable- making it infinitely more entertaining than anything I ever watched or read about in history class.

The show took off in 2016- selling out months and months in advance and sparking both a national touring production set to hit the road in 2017 and an overseas residency in the West End in London. Getting tickets for the show is like trying to get the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory- but I’m hopeful I’ll get to see it someday without having to sell my car to afford it.

I mean, if anyone reading this has tickets and wants to just casually slide them over to me- I won’t mind…

(Image via Huffington Post)

(Image via Huffington Post)

The Pipeline was thankfully stopped: With the largest gathering of Indian tribes in over 100 years and the eyes of the world watching- it was announced on December 4th that the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL for short) would be halted. The pipeline, being built throughout parts of North Dakota- was set to assist with the carrying of crude oil across 1,172 miles. It was discovered after a re-route through the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, however- that the pipeline not only threatened the tribe’s water supply, but could contaminate their sacred burial grounds, as well.

Protests against the DAPL gradually began to gain momentum in the Spring of 2016- eventually growing to a full-blown movement with thousands of people standing with the tribe come Summer and Fall, however supporters of the pipeline retaliated- using attack dogs, high-powered water cannons (in frigid temperatures) and alleged concussion grenades to try and shut the protests down in order to clear the area and resume the building of the pipeline. The lead-up to the December 4th decision was looking grim, indeed- but the halt of the pipeline’s construction serves as a victory for the Sioux tribe. I’m hoping their land stays protected.


It feels like there is SO MUCH MORE news that needs to be discussed- and I’m absolutely sure I’m missing some key events/headlines- but the above-listed stories are the ones that come to mind whenever I think about this past year. They are the ones that either impacted me and my life directly, or stood out more prominently over these last twelve months.

Of course, there were some other brief, not-so-major stories that should get some recognition, too. As always in my year-end “In a Nutshell” review, here’s the Honorable Mentions:



– Creepy clowns were a horrible, horrible thing: You know how sometimes stories go viral on the internet but there’s never any proof that the events in question ever really happened and it all just seems too absurd to be true? That’s how I felt at the first reports that people were dressing up like clowns (of the circus variety) and terrorizing people around the country by chasing them or running up to their stopped vehicles- sometimes with weapons to make it all the more frightening- as some sort of deranged prank. That was, until- my friend spotted one in Nevada. Then another friend saw one in New Hampshire, and then another and another- and although I still haven’t seen any clowns running around and causing chaos with my own eyes- it was enough to briefly make National news and even resulted in a statement from the White House.

– Pokémon Go got people out of their houses (and occasionally hit by cars): If there was one thing in 2016 that could cause our divided Nation to come together as one- it was chasing cartoon monsters with our phones. 2016 saw the debut of Pokémon Go, an app that allowed people to capture Pokémon using just their mobile device and their own two feet and surroundings. Pokémon would randomly spring up in yards, on subways,  in bathtubs- and random buildings (usually unbeknownst to the owners) would occasionally be designated as gyms where players could gather to battle their Pokémon together. The game caught on like crazy- resulting in more than one incident where someone chased a Pikachu into moving traffic and got tossed up over someone’s hood- but at least it got people moving, right?

– Notorious older cases were thrust back into the limelight: With FX’s debut of their mini-true crime series, “The People Vs. O.J. Simpson” getting critical acclaim (I didn’t see the appeal- and I was much more invested in and moved by ESPN’s “O.J.: Made In America” documentary released earlier this Summer that better tackled subjects like the racial divide in the country leading up to and following the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman- as well as really focusing on the victims themselves)– our morbid fascination with brutal “cold” cases  was reignited. Along with the resurgence of interest in the O.J. Simpson rial was the still unsolved murder of JonBenét Ramsey- whose mysterious death shook the nation twenty years ago. Both cases saw multiple TV specials, mini-movies, and magazine cover speculation throughout 2016.

– It was not a good year for Samsung: As an owner of a Samsung Galaxy 7- nothing made me side-eye more than when I heard the Samsung Galaxy Note 7s were experiencing technical difficulties this year. Specifically- they were exploding- and after a massive recall, their replacement models were exploding, too. A battery flaw in the phones were causing more than one person to have to stop, drop and roll when their Note 7 would randomly burst into flames or blow up- which made the TSA screening process in the airport all that much more faster and enjoyable. The problem became so big that Samsung ended up discontinuing the model all together- and are attempting to save face with the Note 8s which are due to debut (and hopefully will have an attached fire extinguisher with it) in Spring 2017.

– There were some kick-ass (and some guilty pleasure) comebacks this year: Whoever thought that a science fiction/horror series set in the 1980s could be so good? I’m talking about “Stranger Things”, of course. The Netflix based series- which brought Winona Ryder back into our homes and hearts- developed a cult like following in 2016 and for good reason. It was well-written, brilliantly acted, and the story was filled with all sorts of nostalgia that hit you right in your feelings. Also making a comeback this year via Netflix? “Full House”- only the follow-up to the cringe-inducing family comedy from the late 80s & mid 90s was called “Fuller House” and focused on the grown-up Tanner girls (sans-Michelle because the Olsen Twins couldn’t make an appearance) raising their own families. The star of “Fuller House”- much like the original version- was, is and will always be Kimmy Gibler, though.

Both “Stranger Things” and “Fuller House” have been renewed for additional seasons.

– Ryan Lochte remained painfully stupid: Olympic medalist and shameless buffoon Ryan Lochte had everyone talking this year following a fact check on his fabricated story of being robbed at gunpoint by a group of armed men with police badges while in Brazil for the 2016 Summer Olympics. As it turns out, a security guard had wielded a gun at Ryan and his friends after their drunken vandalism of a gas station bathroom. Surveillance footage from the gas station corroborated the security guard’s version of events- and it was quickly established that no armed robbery ever took place.

As a result of his dumbass behavior- Lochte was suspended from swimming for ten months and lost a bunch of endorsement deals- reduced to appearing on ‘Dancing with The Stars’ to pass the time. I knew there was a reason I liked Michael Phelps better.

– LEO FINALLY GOT HIS OSCAR: Much like the Cubs winning The World Series, another curse was broken this year: The DiCaprio Curse. For years, poor Leonardo DiCaprio poured blood, swear and tears into his roles and performances- and nearly every year he’d get nominated for an Academy Award only to get snubbed at the last possible second. This year, he finally got to hear his name read from the envelope and hold his very own gold statue for his performance in “The Revenant”. Although I’m going to miss the Leo/Oscar memes- I was genuinely and truly happy for him. He looked so relieved that he wouldn’t have to actually die in his next role to score a win.


And there it is! 2016 in a nutshell! What a crazy year, right? Just looking back on everything is enough to make my head spin- but now that it’s (thankfully) over- it’s time to look ahead towards 2017.

I’ve been contemplating my resolutions for the upcoming year for a while now: editing them, erasing them, re-writing them, editing them some more- but I think I’ve finally got them in order and just the way I want- and I’m ready to share each of them with everyone. 2017 is the year I turn it all around. I’m determined and driven and I’m ready for it.

1. Get healthy and in good shape again: After my early Summer break-up and the months of stress that followed it- I won’t deny that I let myself go. Although I had spikes of energy where I’d work out, eat healthy and get enough sleep to get me feeling like a normal and semi-functioning human being again- I’d often sink back into a depressed slump of eating too much junk food, staying up too late, and not really wanting to get off my couch much unless it was absolutely necessary (and even then- I’d stall.) I don’t feel as great as I did when I actively took care of myself and as a result- I don’t feel I look as good, either. That changes this coming year. Now that the holiday feasting and partying is over- I’ve got my meal and fitness programs planned, my bedroom has been re-vamped so I can get the most restful nights of sleep imaginable- and I’ve taken up meditation and yoga to help melt away any residual stress from my work or personal life. I’ll be chronicling my journey here on “Legally Redhead” as I bounce back and get into the best shape of my life again.

2. Spend more time on my own: It’s not that I’m anti-social. Quite the opposite, in fact- but grief was hard to work through in 2016 when I was consistently surrounded by people at all times and I feel like I lost pieces of myself as a result. In 2017, I plan on taking some time now and then to enjoy my own company and really focus more on rediscovering myself, my interests, my talents and the world around me on solo trips and outings, or even just watching a movie or playing a video game on my own in the comforts of my living room. That’s not to say I won’t spend time with anyone ever again or anything- but I really do think it’s important to have private time now and then, too. You have to be comfortable on your own and confident with yourself before you can truly be comfortable and confident with others.

3. Get organized!: Another consequential setback of falling into a depression earlier this year? Good Lord, did my work and personal space get cluttered! Even my email inbox was a mess for a while, and I’m still getting things tidied up! In 2017, everything that has a place is going in said place- and everything that doesn’t is getting donated or trashed. I was given a beautiful new monthly planner for Christmas, and I’ve already been laying out my upcoming appointments, deadlines, and scheduled social events to keep me in check so I’ll never run late or fall behind again. I’ve always prided myself on staying on top of tasks- and this coming year is when that talent shines through again!

4. Focus on blogging and take ‘Legally Redhead’ to the next level: While I did have some quality posts this year, ones that I’m quite proud of- I admittedly slacked on the blogging front these past few months- mostly due in part to me being extremely distracted with all that was happening around me and in my personal life. Writing was temporarily put on the back burner and for someone like me who takes such pleasure in creating content- that’s simply unacceptable. In 2017, I have big blogging plans I’m looking forward to starting and seeing through. More partnerships, more posts that cover a wider range of topics (while still featuring plenty of the usual stuff!), and more utilizing social media. “Legally Redhead” will be getting a makeover soon to make navigation a bit easier- and I’m excited at new networking prospects that are coming up! Even if I’m not a redhead anymore- I truly love writing this blog and I’m so thankful for everyone who reads it and supports it. I want to put out the best possible stuff for you all and I hope you all enjoy what I have in store during the coming year!

5. Get my finances in order: A move to the West Coast costs money, as do trips to New Orleans, Nashville and all the other places I want to visit in the next year or so- and with a new car throwing a bit of a wrench in my plans- I’d like to save more money in 2017 and better balance my budget. I know it’s going to take a bit of practice to get back into the swing of things now that I have an extra expense to take into consideration- but I’m confident I can do it and store plenty of money away to go on my next great adventure- and working hard will make it all the more enjoyable when I do!

Those are the big ones I’m going to strive for in 2017! There are some random ones, too- like “get my motorcycle license”, “don’t date assholes” and “visit/tour Paisley Park”, for example- but the above five are the ones I truly want to focus on since I feel they will bring me the most peace, satisfaction and happiness in the new year.

And with all that being said- I’m heading up to Vermont for an extended weekend in a Victorian mansion-turned-bed & breakfast to quietly see out 2016 and peacefully usher in 2017 while lounging in front of a fireplace and getting lost in a good book by myself. I wanted to hold off on sharing my New Year’s Eve plans until the last possible minute- since sometimes things can get compromised or intruded upon- but it all looks good to go and I can’t wait to kick off the new year in a new way!

I hope you all have a safe and joyous New Year! If 2016 was a good year for you, and I’m sure it was for some- then I hope your good fortune and happiness continues well into 2017.

And if your 2016 was less than satisfactory, like it was for so many- myself included- then here’s to better, brighter, and much more wonderful days ahead! You made it all the way to this point- even if it feels like you barely got here and even if you’re completely and utterly exhausted- and that’s a feat in itself. Be proud of yourself for surviving such a tough twelve months and making it to the end!


See you all in 2017!


Top 10 Photographs of 2016

Comments 2 Standard

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.


#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.


#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!


#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.


#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!


#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!


#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.


#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.


#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.


#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.


#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!


The Halfway Check-In!

Leave a comment Standard
Channeling Edie Sedgwick with a fun pixie wig. 6/5/16

Channeling Edie Sedgwick with a fun pixie wig. 6/5/16

At some point every June, which marks the year being halfway over (crazy, right?)– I like to look back on the resolutions and goals I set for myself for New Year’s and see exactly what I’ve accomplished so far and what I still have to work on. It’s a less stressful way of checking in as opposed to, say, waiting until December 1st so I can be overtly hard on myself for anything I didn’t quite get to/completely forgot about. It also serves as a nice kick in the ass to re-motivate me- especially during the Summer months when it’s easier to get things done before it’s time to go back into hibernation mode.

To make it easier to keep track- I re-list and re-post my initial goals, noting my progress- before I add some side-things I’m hoping to incorporate before the end of 2016 if I know it’s not going to make my head explode.

So, here’s what I jotted down on December 31st, 2015:

1. Take better care of myself:

I’m actually quite relieved/pleased that the very first resolution I had on my list in 2016 is the one I’ve been wildly successful with thus far. With my anxiety/panic attacks finally having slithered back into the fiery hell they emerged from- I’ve found an enjoyable and most importantly- manageable- routine with eating healthy, working out, and getting enough sleep where I can function like an actual adult. I’ve lost ten pounds. My body is tightening and toning itself in ways I didn’t think were possible. My skin has cleared up and my hair is healthy, thick and not going grey every time I have a bad day. I look better- and I FEEL better- which is the most important thing.

Diet and exercise aside- 2016 has really been the year I’ve taken a stand for myself emotionally and mentally, and I couldn’t be prouder. Gone are the days of simply tolerating and/or overlooking mistreatment, negligence, dishonesty and negativity. I put my foot down. I speak up- and I don’t compromise with anyone or anything that refuses to meet me halfway to find viable solutions to problems or conflict. I recently held my ground and delivered an ultimatum to someone who had hurt me- and I was met with newfound respect, understanding and reassurance as a result. 2015 or 2014 Ashley wouldn’t have gotten that- but 2016 Ashley is moving forward and taking control.

2016 Ashley is finally finding zen and “YAS QUEEN” status.

2. Thrive at my career:

This is another resolution that I’m happy to report has been working out well for me. I started my job back in December, and have gradually been finding my footing as I traverse through training, new responsibilities, new co-workers and new clientele ever since. It took a little while, but I’m finally comfortable with my current position, the team I work with, and my own knowledge of the company and how to be a productive and valuable asset to it. I’ve been getting glowing reviews and recommendations from supervisors and customers, too- which I’m sure will come in handy when it comes time for me to work my way up that corporate ladder to get where I want to be.

My job is very different from my former position at the firm- but I enjoy it- and the benefits and perks are infinitely better, too.

3. Relocate:

This is the resolution that is very, very close to happening. After locating what I can only describe as a dream apartment in Western Massachusetts a couple of months ago, and going as far as to submit a completed application to my would-have-been-landlords- I had to withdraw after a couple of test runs to/from the area proved to be a hassle in my getting to work in a punctual (and safe) manner. With the dynamics of my relationships in that part of New England ever changing, as well- I opted to hold off for a little while on moving to the area- until a chance conversation with an old friend I hadn’t seen in a while happened. Said friend, now a real estate agent- has taken over the search on my behalf and is keeping an eye out for places more suitable to my ideal location, my price range, my commute to and from work- and my own personal tastes.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what he finds for me.

4. Finally get my first tattoo:

This resolution isn’t even close to happening right now, and I can’t say I’m all too upset about it since I have so many other things on my plate for the time being. I’ve settled on a Beatles tattoo, the lyrics from ‘Hey Jude’ or ‘Dear Prudence’ (the two songs I used to sing all the time with my dad,) but I’m still trying to figure out a font, a size- and a place to put it that isn’t going to be excruciatingly painful. I’d prefer the inside of my wrist, but then the daunting task becomes finding a skilled and suitable artist who knows what he/she is doing and won’t screw it up.

Thankfully, my inked friends have been more than forthcoming with their recommendations (and some have even offered to come hold my hand while I get it done!) which has been really helpful- and hopefully by the Fall- I’ll have my long overdue tribute tattoo to the greatest man I’ve ever known.

5. Visit New Orleans!:

Like my goal to relocate, this is another resolution that will be happening in due time. I’ve been putting as much money away as I can for my planned week off in mid-September- where I am aiming to spend a few days in New Orleans hitting each and every thing on my NOLA bucket list I’ve been compiling for a solid five years. Ideally, I’d like to get a couple of my friends in on the action and have them come with me- but if I have to fly solo due to conflicting schedules- than so be it. I’ve never been afraid to travel alone- even to a new and unfamiliar area for the first time.

Overall I’d say I’m making some pretty solid strides and some real progress towards the big five goals I set for myself for 2016. There’s always room for improvement and some tweaking of course- but I’m quite pleased with myself and all that I’ve accomplished so far in such a short amount of time.

On a side note, moving forward into the Summer, I do have a couple of minor things to add to my list of goals/resolutions:

1. Maybe consider trading in my car for a newer one: I adore my little white KIA oh so much, and we’ve been through a lot together over the years- but with over 100,000 miles and an engine that sounds like it’s ready to explode- I think it might be time to trade in and trade up for something a little quieter and that hasn’t been ridden quite as hard. Also, maybe something that doesn’t still have a CD player in it.

2. Finish my HGTV-inspired renovations: One of the bathrooms in my place is completely gutted, and a spare room has been turned into a makeshift storage unit while myself (with a lot of help from family and friends) re-do the walls, floors, ceilings, and everything in-between. A lot of things in my home were long overdue for updates/replacements- and the Summer of 2016 is when I went into full blown “Property Brothers” mode to fix and redecorate pretty much everything. New paint, new appliances, and new furniture. It was time to make a change. Out with the old and in with the new.

I think that’s everything! I can’t load up on too many more goals since I want to have time to actually enjoy my Summer, after all.

How’s everyone else doing with their 2016 resolutions? Have you accomplished everything on your list? Did you throw in the towel and call it quits? Do you need a mid-year refresher like I do/did? I’d love to hear all about it!


“Hello, 2016” – A Playlist

Leave a comment Standard

The other night, when Sean and I were returning to Boston from Hyannis after our New Year’s Eve/Day celebration in Nantucket- I designated him vehicle DJ while I was behind the wheel and put him in charge of compiling a playlist that would keep me awake (it’s a long drive) without being TOO loud. While he and I have many things in common from our favorite movies, video games, and food- our musical tastes can be pretty different at times- and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Sean surprised me, though- and put together a 15-song soundtrack of dreamy, dance-able songs that I loved so much- I insisted he share the track listing with me so that I could upload it to my 8Tracks account and share it with everyone!

So here is ‘Hello, 2016’ – a playlist to welcome the New Year! I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!


  • Tame Impala – Let It Happen
  • Arcade Fire – Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
  • Gossling – Never Expire
  • Beck – Dreams
  • Kylie Minogue – I Was Gonna’ Cancel
  • Florence + The Machine – Spectrum (Say My Name) [Calvin Harris Remix]
  • Nelly Furtado – Powerless (Say What You Want)
  • Tei Shi – Bassically
  • Pompeya – YAHTBMF [POKO COX Remix]
  • Phantogram – Black Out Days
  • ASTR – We Fall Down
  • Kotomi – Swimming
  • Chad Valley – Now That I’m Real (How Does It Feel?)
  • Roosevelt – Sea
  • Paradis – Garde Le Pour Toi


New Year in Nantucket.

Leave a comment Standard


Good morning and Happy New Year, everyone! Although we’re only a couple of short days into 2016- I’m already having such a tremendous amount of fun. Last night was spent in the company of some of my closest and dearest friends at a delicious dinner in Rhode Island for our annual (but very belated!) Friendsgiving/Friends-Mas/Few-Beers-Eve party. It’s not often we can conveniently gather eighteen people in a room to have a sit-down meal together- but we pulled it off and I’m so glad we did! It was a wonderful way to wind down after a hectic holiday season.

Today I’m heading into work to kick off what is sure to be a busy and productive month at my job, but I wanted to share some photos from this past New Year’s Eve- where my best friend Sean and I traveled to Nantucket to ring in the New Year in dazzling style!

After nearly missing our 5 p.m. ferry (gotta’ love I-93 traffic jams)– Sean and I set sail on Thursday evening from Hyannis to the shores of Nantucket- and specifically- The Nantucket Hotel, where we had tickets to the resort’s ‘A Night to Remember’ ball to welcome the new year and an overnight reservation to stay in one of the hotel’s beautiful and spacious rooms.

From the moment Sean and I entered the hotel for the first time (a quick walk from the docks) the staff at the Nantucket Hotel were so friendly, accommodating, and fun. Everyone was in such high spirits and it was impossible not to smile and laugh right along with them.




The room itself- located in a separate wing away from the rest of the hotel- was perfect for Sean and I. It was quiet, cute, and had a big modern bathroom that the two of us didn’t have to fight over. The rubber ducky by the sink- and the handwritten card (with a little box of chocolate covered raisins!) that was waiting for us on one of the dressers was a nice touch, too.


I had been under the impression that the ball Sean and I were scheduled to attend following what would prove to be one of the most incredibly delicious dinners I’ve ever eaten in my almost thirty years on this Earth (I’m still craving the butternut bisque. I couldn’t get over it. I almost licked my bowl- that’s how good it was!)– was an early 1900’s themed gala. As it turned out- the evening was inspired by ‘Titanic’. From the White Star Line menu (and the little “Heart of the Ocean” necklace chocolates that were placed on our plates!) to the ballroom-turned-first class promenade deck, or the staff dressed to the nines in their best crew member and ship officer ensembles- to the actual movie ‘Titanic’ being projected on one of the exterior sides of the building- I was stunned and floored in the best way possible at how much effort and detail was put into every conceivable aspect of the evening. It was awe-inspiring.


And despite the mix-up with the night’s theme- Sean and I were thankfully still dressed quite dapper for the occasion, if I do say so myself! Special shout-out and thank you to Troy who surprised me by gifting me with the vintage cigarette holder I held onto all night. He saw it in an antique shop and thought it would go perfect with my outfit. I love it.





The ball was filled with folks in the most incredible costumes I’ve ever seen (I especially loved the guy who was walking around with a ‘RMS Titanic’ life preserver on), and the very talented and energetic live band that entertained us all with big band classics and modern favorites did not stop to rest until their final song shortly after 1 a.m. when the event was coming to a close. I danced, drank champagne, ate one-too-many macarons from the dessert buffet, hammed it up in the photo booth set up in one corner of the ballroom and swooned over Jack and Rose’s tragic romance as it graced screens all over the room until the final seconds of 2015 counted down- and into the confetti-covered wee morning hours of January 1st, 2016. (No, they didn’t flood the ballroom at the stroke of midnight to keep up with the theme of the evening.)

Would I do it again? Absolutely. I had the time of my life.



Sean and I, wanting to get a head start on our New Year’s Day- went to bed shortly after the event ended so that we could get up early enough to enjoy breakfast in the resort (which was also really, really good) and do a little exploring around Nantucket before we had to catch our ferry back to the mainland. Of course, with the area being a mostly Summer-friendly travel destination and the day being a holiday for most people- many businesses and restaurants were closed for the day/season. After stopping by the Brant Point lighthouse to take some photos and the docks for a brisk (and windy!) stroll- we were able to hang our hats and warm up with lattes at the Handlebar Cafe for a little while until we once again headed out to do some exploring.




After walking down a bike path that I hadn’t spotted during my last visit to Nantucket, Sean and I came across the above-pictured Quaker burial ground just as it was starting to lightly snow/drizzle on the island. Loving historical finds like this, I took a couple of photos of the moss-covered markers alongside the worn down fence before the two of us headed back downtown to charge our phones and grab an early dinner at The Bean (awesome sandwiches!) until we made our way over to the Steamship Authority to catch our ferry and head home.

I’m sometimes superstitious, and I remember hearing somewhere along the way that the manner in which you ring in the New Year and how you spend the first day of the year in terms of your attitude and ambitions is supposedly indicative to how the remainder of your year will be. If that is indeed true- then 2016 is looking pretty promising already. I had an absolute blast greeting it, and the first of the year was a relaxing, serene, peaceful and simply beautiful way to kick it off.

I’m so excited to see what else is in store for the comings days, weeks and months!



2015: In a Nutshell.

Leave a comment Standard


My goodness- here we are again! Another year has come and gone in what feels like the mere blink of an eye and we’ve arrived at another New Year’s Eve, just a few short hours away- where it will be spent reflecting and celebrating the past 365 days and making hopeful wishes and promises for the next 366 days (leap year!)– before 2015 is a thing of the past and a shiny and sparkling brand new year is here with all it’s mystery and endless possibilities.

Indeed, I’m a little anxious for 2016. Not necessarily in a bad way, but I’m eager for it to begin- not only because it marks the year I will be turning thirty (gasp!) and I’m actually quite excited to enter a new decade of my life with all the wisdom I’ve gained over the past ten years of laughter, tears, triumphs, tragedies and PLENTY of mistakes (and believe me- I’ll have a post up with all of those juicy details and some well-intentioned advice within a couple of weeks just for the occasion!) but because, overall- 2015 was a bit rough for me- and I don’t believe it would be an exaggeration to say it was possibly one of the more difficult years I’ve had since my father’s untimely death in 2012.

Don’t get me wrong- 2015 wasn’t all bad. It really wasn’t- and I’m truly grateful that I had/have it considerably better than many others who aren’t as fortunate as I am and who undoubtedly faced way worse circumstances than I did. I’m just summarizing my own personal experiences over the past twelve months. I had my fair share of fun, adventures, and my usual brand of sarcasm and silliness with friends, family, and strangers alike. I accomplished a great deal within my field and at work and pulled off some truly rewarding collaborations with different companies and fellow bloggers here on “Legally Redhead”- but it felt as though the year was also chock-full of more-often-than-usual challenges and maybe a brief bout of bad luck for a short period of time.

I was unexpectedly laid off from my place of employment of just over five years in the midst of budgeting cuts this past Fall (but, on the brighter side- I quickly found employment elsewhere! I’m still currently getting situated within my new office and position), plagued by consistent car issues that required substantial and expensive repairs, saw drastic changes to my love life and personal relationships (I plan to blog more about those experiences in the future), and spent a good portion of 2015 really tackling my anxiety issues head-on- which proved to be utterly exhausting at times (and is something else I plan on blogging about eventually, too!)

… It also didn’t help much that I spent most of the first few weeks/couple of months of this past year completely buried under snow during what was unquestionably New England’s worst winter in a very, very long time. I swear, I was starting to slip into Jack Torrance mode for a little while there. “All work and no play makes Ashley a dull girl…”

But I digress- I endured and emerged unscathed, and I grew more as a well-rounded person with the knowledge I obtained from each experience I went through this past year- good AND bad. I’m ready to begin 2016 with a clean slate- and with new goals and aspirations to work and strive towards. I’m excited, maybe even a little nervous- but ready!

But before I get to my resolutions for the coming year and my final thank you’s of 2015- I wanted to complete a small round-up of some of the biggest news stories, pop culture happenings, trends, and general craziness that transpired over this past year.

This is 2015, in a nutshell:


Image via PBS.

Mass shootings occurred ALL THE TIME: As I write this, there have been a total of 355 mass shootings in 2015 within the United States alone. Movie theaters, college campuses, churches, restaurants, medical facilities and most recently- an office building in San Bernardino- which took place just days after an attack on a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs that left three dead, including a responding police officer. It seemed that no public place was off limits from attack or truly safe this past year- prompting more heated debates between gun control advocates and those who feverishly support citizens’ rights to bear arms despite the fact that the Second Amendment was written way before assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons were even conceived and muskets that took twenty minutes to load and fire were still a thing.

The seemingly never ending shooting sprees have also sparked controversy as to how the media reports on them- and specifically- the responsible shooter(s.) While violence perpetrated by any non-white person often results in broad generalizations for anyone who looks like the suspect (i.e.- any crime committed by a someone of Middle Eastern descent causes any and all Muslims to be labeled as violent terrorists), white male shooters are often described as “troubled lone wolves” by news outlets and humanized with accounts of their difficult childhoods or marital/financial struggles.

As of now- the final day of 2015- it seems that the heated debates (and ugly Facebook arguments between relatives and former high school classmates) hasn’t made any difference whatsoever, and the push for proactive change will continue on into 2016. The question remains, however- how many more innocent people will have to die before it finally happens?

Image via TIME Magazine.

Image via TIME Magazine.

The United States wasn’t the only place that saw unspeakable acts of violence: All eyes were on the City of Love in 2015 as Paris was attacked by terrorists not once, but twice. The first, a January 7th shooting that took place within the offices of controversial satirical newspaper- Charlie Hebdo- which left 12 dead and resulted in a massive two-day manhunt until the suspects were eventually located in Northern France and killed when they began to fire at approaching authorities.

The second attack, carried out in November with mass shootings and multiple suicide bombings across Parisian cafes, restaurants, France’s National stadium during a soccer match- and the Bataclan Theatre in the middle of a performance by the band Eagles of Death Metal- resulted in 130 deaths and over 300 injuries- marking it as the deadliest attack on French soil since World War II.

Both attacks were carried out by radicalized Islamic extremists, prompting leaders across the globe to come together in the aftermath and attempt to figure out a swift and effective strategy for dealing with ISIL. Meanwhile, horrified onlookers from around the world joined in support and to show their solidarity with France and the people of Paris as they attempted to move forward from such unfathomable anguish and horror.


Image via CNN.

The Syrian Refugee Crisis: With ISIS/ISIL wreaking havoc with coordinated attacks and sheer brutality throughout 2015- civilians in some of the hardest hit areas of Syria began fleeing their homes and families by the thousands- risking their lives as they crossed treacherous territory and oceans to seek safety and refuge in other countries. While many European nations welcomed them with open arms and an overwhelming show of support and compassion- some areas closed their borders to the plight of the less fortunate, citing fear of unknowingly allowing terrorists posing as refugees into their land where they could potentially attack innocent civilians. Following November’s attacks in Paris, when it was reported one of the responsible terrorists was found with Syrian refugee documentation on them- a handful of Governors across the United States also vowed to ban further refugees from obtaining citizenship.

The coverage of the crisis spiked, however- when multiple, disturbing, and sobering photos of small children who had drowned with their desperate families while attempting to cross bodies of water to safer locations and who had washed ashore began circulating among news outlets and on social media- prompting many officials to finally take a long look at themselves, commit to a course of action- and assist those in need. Recently, Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, personally welcomed a plane of Syrian refugees to Canada- offering them warm words of encouragement and winter coats as they disembarked to begin their new lives in a new, and safer country.

Image via Business Insider.

Image via Business Insider.

A leathery looking clown with bad hair and an inability to apply bronzer properly decided he wanted to run for President: Donald Trump- of reality TV and gaudy skyscraper fame- and who is no stranger to controversy after openly criticizing and questioning every decision President Obama has ever made throughout the entirety of his term thus far (as well as his citizenship), decided this past year that he was going to “make America great again” and run for President himself in 2016. Although Donald has been incapable of providing a single viable solution to any of the multitude of problems and concerns plaguing the country right now (and no, forcing Mexico to build a wall along the border isn’t a feasible answer to immigration concerns, Mr. Trump)– his campaign has essentially dissolved into nothing more than outbursts of insults, bigotry, racism, and sexism. His most recent proposal- the banning of any and all Muslims from entering the country- drew comparisons to Adolf Hitler and his rise to power, which Trump has since shrugged off as “no big deal.”

Unfortunately, using fear and intimidation tactics has somehow worked in Trump’s favor- and he’s gained quite a fan following despite being a real life version of a ‘Saturday Night Live’ parody character and despite the rest of the GOP collectively shunning him and his antics. Whether he’ll continue onto the actual election remains to be seen (I’m hoping he throws in the towel and soon since I’m sick of seeing him and hearing about him) but he definitely made headlines this past year- and not in a good way.

Image via Vanity Fair.

Image via Vanity Fair.

The world met Caitlyn Jenner for the first time: In a year that saw monumental strides in understanding and acceptance for the transgendered community, perhaps one of the most noteworthy stories was former Olympian and Kardashian-centric reality TV star Bruce Jenner’s public transition from male to female. Following a touching interview earlier this Spring with Diane Sawyer where Jenner discussed the difficulties of protecting oneself, family and friends while struggling with gender identity from an early age- Caitlyn was formally introduced via an editorial and cover shoot by Vanity Fair Magazine. Since then, Jenner has gone on to be presented with the Courage Award at the ESPYs and act as an advocate for transgendered youth while starring in her own reality show/mini-documentary, ‘I am Cait’.

Caitlyn is not without controversy, however- as some of her commentary on same-sex marriage and what she considers to be the priorities of females (i.e. clothes and makeup) have drawn heavy criticism and backlash. While she is still getting used to the media attention and the responsibilities that come with being a champion of transgender rights (like thinking very carefully before you speak or give an interview,) it’ll be interesting to see what Caitlyn accomplishes in 2016.

Image via Washington Post.

Image via Washington Post.

We got to see Pluto up-close and personal: Over the Summer, NASA’s ‘New Horizons’ probe performed a fly-by of everyone’s favorite, forgotten little dwarf planet- a mission over nine years in the making. As the probe passed by Pluto, capturing images while it floated on- what was once just a round and blurry speck in past photographs was now displayed in extensive and intricate detail. Craters, mountains, canyons, and a coloration that resembled a heart (Awww!) meant that the world got to see the surface of Pluto in a new and exciting way.

To make things even more interesting, further research showed that Pluto- like Earth- has blue skies and patches of icy water on it’s surface, which opens the door to even more discoveries that can be made about it’s atmosphere and the possibility of living organisms beyond our own planet. There’s still no definitive proof that extra terrestrials exist out there, but I’m going to go into X-Files mode and just say “I want to believe…”

Image via NY Daily News.

Image via NY Daily News.

Some people needed a reminder that the South lost the war: Following the June 17th mass shooting in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina by a 21-year old white supremacist- which left nine churchgoers dead- multiple images of the shooter were promptly found depicting him posing while holding a handgun and/or the Confederate battle flag. While the subject of gun control was once again discussed at length in the aftermath of the attack (and again- nothing was done to change the current laws and regulations)– the topic of the Confederate Flag and it’s racist symbolism in American history was also brought to the forefront of controversial debates. Many agreed that the flag represented a dark and despicable time in the South’s past during the Civil War- but others argued that removing it from the front of the South Carolina State House was insulting to those who viewed it not as a flag celebrating racism- but as a relic from our Nation’s history.

Eventually, the South Carolina Senate caught up with the North- and the flag was removed from the State House in July (not counting activist Bree Newsome scaling the flagpole and removing it herself in late June before being arrested by officers who had been waiting below)– and major retailers pledged to stop selling items that featured the flag emblazoned on them.


Images via CNN & The Boston Globe.

2015 was the year Massachusetts’ jurors were NOT screwing around: If anyone living in or visiting Massachusetts this past year considered committing any type of violent and/or depraved crime while within state lines- all they had to do was tune into any of the three major trials that unfolded in the state throughout 2015 to realize that it probably wasn’t the best idea. April saw the conviction of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (and May saw his being sentenced to death for his federal offenses), only to be promptly followed up by the conviction and maximum sentencing of former New England Patriots’ tight end- Aaron Hernandez- for the 2013 murder of his friend and former football player, Odin Lloyd. Hernandez will be facing a second trial and additional charges in the coming months for his part in an unrelated 2012 double homicide.

Finally, the trifecta of justice was completed with a ‘GUILTY’ verdict for Philip Chism- a high school student who stalked, raped and murdered his math teacher- Colleen Ritzer- in October of 2013. The details surrounding Chism’s gruesome crime were especially disturbing- as was his “insanity” plea where he attempted to delay his trial for as long as possible with bizarre courtroom behavior. His sentencing for the first-degree murder conviction is scheduled to take place in the coming weeks.

Well done, Massachusetts jurors. Well done. Please continue the diligent work throughout 2016 and keep monsters like these off the streets.

Image via Tumblr.

Image via Tumblr.

The Kim Davis memes were fantastic: After June’s Supreme Court ruling that finally legalized same-sex marriage across the country, most of the nation celebrated the monumental equal rights win accordingly (and with a LOT of rainbows!) but all was not sunny and cheery in Kentucky, where county clerk, unapologetic bigot, and possible real life bridge troll- Kim Davis- found herself in some hot water by defying the ruling and denying same-sex couples marriage licenses, citing her religious beliefs as an excuse to not do her job.  Davis was promptly hit with multiple lawsuits by couples she had turned away, and was eventually found to be in contempt with the court’s order and taken into custody. Since her release and return to work under the stipulation that her office MUST issue marriage licenses to any and all couples- including same-sex couples- Davis and her legal team have filed appeal after appeal to stall the process- all of which have been shot down.

During Pope Francis’ visit to America in September of this past year, it was reported that he’d met privately with Davis. While Davis’ lawyer gave details of the meeting- insinuating that the Pope supported her actions and encouraged her to “stay strong”, the Vatican wasted no time in shooting down those rumors- and even went as far as to state that the meeting may have been manipulated by Davis and her Attorney.

The internet had a field day with Kim- be it for her unfortunate haircut and wardrobe choices, or the fact that it was revealed she has been married four times to three different men (making her more than a little hypocritical, no?) but the resulting memes were a hilarious highlight in an otherwise infuriating situation.


Image via The Daily News.

Everyone was talking about Tom Brady’s balls: In one of the only NFL scandals in recent history that didn’t involve murder, rape, and/or domestic abuse- 2015 brought us “Deflategate”, AKA- the most unintentionally hilarious controversy in New England. Following the Patriots’ 45-7 annihilation of the Indianapolis Colts in mid-January, an unfounded accusation that the footballs used in the game had been deflated by the Patriots and/or their staff- thus giving them some sort of advantage over the Colts- began to fly. The rumors eventually grew serious enough that a full investigation was launched, resulting in quarterback Tom Brady giving the best press conference ever where he told a room of reporters just how he liked his balls to feel (and those of us in Massachusetts who are perpetually immature took it and ran with it.)

After the dreaded Wells Report was released, condemning Brady for having knowledge of misconduct- he was suspended for four games in what would be the 2015’s regular season. Brady went on to fight the decision- all the way to Federal Court- where his suspension was eventually thrown out in September. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has a lengthy history of poor decision making and questionable choices- once again was made to look like an incompetent fool- and The Patriots began what has since been dubbed their 2015/2016 Revenge Tour just a few days after the decision.


Collage compiled from images obtained through CNN, MSN, HTV, and E!

We lost a few folks along the way: Just like every year before this one, some familiar and beloved entertainers, musicians, and public personalities left us behind in 2015. Although the list is lengthy, and I acknowledge that I’ve unfortunately omitted quite a few names- a handful of celebrities who passed away this past year include classic film star Maureen O’Hara (aged 95), the King of slasher flicks, Wes Craven (aged 76), Whitney Houston’s only daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown (aged 22), the logical Mr. Spock – Leonard Nimoy (aged 83), the very funny comedienne Anne Meara (aged 85) and soul-singer Ben E. King of ‘Stand By Me’ fame (aged 76).

Image via Google.

Image via Google.


– Rachel Dolezal lied about her race, and the backlash was hilarious: When it was revealed that the the former president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, Rachel Dolezal, was not actually a black woman as she’d been portraying and promoting herself as- but of German and Czech descent- the fallout was a delicious blend of insanity, confusion, and hilarious reactions from social media (the #AskRachel tag was one of the best Twitter trends of 2015.) Dolezal, who resigned from her position shortly after being called out and confronted on her deception- maintains that she is a woman of color- attempting to make terms like “transracial” an actual thing while childhood photos of her with blonde hair and blue eyes have been plastered everywhere- but the internet doesn’t forgive so easily- and it certainly doesn’t forget.

– We bid farewell to David Letterman, ‘Mad Men’, and ‘The Daily Show’: 2015 was, in many ways, the end (and beginning) of a few TV eras. David Letterman retired from late night, passing his chair to Stephen Colbert who took the reins of ‘The Late Show’ in September. Over at AMC, the Emmy-winning powerhouse and 1960s drama ‘Mad Men’ aired it’s last- and slightly confusing- episode in May. And finally, Comedy Central saw a shift with it’s brilliant news program ‘The Daily Show’ when longtime host Jon Stewart stepped down from the program- giving newcomer Trevor Noah the chance to take over (and so far- it’s been pretty good!)

– The world collectively hated a dentist from Minnesota: When it was revealed in July that Cecil, a popular and beloved adult lion in Zimbabwe- had been lured away from his sanctuary and killed by a big game hunter- it didn’t take long for sleuths to track down the man who had paid an exorbitant amount of money to commit the act: an American dentist named Walter Palmer. It took even less time for Palmer and his practice to feel the wrath of the media- who condemned his multiple big game hunts and briefly sent him into hiding until the initial outrage blew over. Palmer’s Yelp page for his practice continues to receive negative ratings and reviews on a daily basis.

– Robert Durst “killed them all, of course”: With the staggering success of murder mystery podcasts like ‘Serial’ and real life crime dramas like ‘Homicide Hunter’, it was no surprise that all eyes were on Andrew Jarecki’s HBO miniseries- ‘The Jinx’- earlier this year. A 6-part documentary, ‘The Jinx’ detailed the bizarre life and trail of even more bizarre crimes that have followed eccentric real estate heir- Robert Durst- since the still-unsolved-disappearance of his first wife in the 1980s. What WAS a surprise, however- was Durst’s chilling confession (made unbeknownst to him when he failed to turn off his microphone post-interview with Jarecki after he was faced with severely damning evidence.) In the confession, Durst- between burping and mumbling- admits he had “killed them all.” He was arrested on first-degree murder charges a day before the finale- which featured the startling confession in it’s final minutes- aired.

– What color was that dress, anyway?: The nation has never been more divided than it was back in February, when a photo of a dress and accompanying question- what color was it?- went viral out of nowhere. While many agreed that the dress was blue and black (which it clearly was)– SOME PEOPLE (see: people who were wrong) argued that they saw gold and white when they looked at the photo. Thus, the debate to end all debates was kicked off- and everyone from celebrities, politicians, scientists, and even my own mother- weighed in on it. I don’t think any resolution was ever reached- but it sure was fun while it lasted.

– ‘Jurassic World’ was awesome, and ‘Prattkeeping’ was my favorite meme of 2015: ‘Jurassic Park’ was the first movie I ever saw in theaters as a kid, thanks to my dad disregarding the PG-13 rating- and it blew me away. I’d been anxiously awaiting the release of ‘Jurassic World’ earlier this Summer- and wasn’t disappointed in the least when I saw it during it’s opening weekend- but perhaps one of my favorite memes that resulted from the movie’s success was when zookeepers around the country uploaded photos of themselves posing with their animals, mimicking Chris Pratt’s iconic “raptor taming” pose. If you haven’t seen it- simply Google “Prattkeeping” and try your best not to laugh out loud.

And there it is- 2015 in a nutshell! As you can see, a lot has happened over these past twelve months- even more so when you take into consideration that my review barely scratched the surface of the year that was.

We now come to the trickiest part of preparing for a new year- and that’s the resolutions. I personally think I did a decent enough job at keeping most of my promises to myself in 2015- but as with anything else in life- there’s always room for improvement. After much reflection and careful review- taking many things into consideration- I think I’ve compiled a pretty good list and one loaded with things that I can actually accomplish in 2016!

1. Take better care of myself: Taking care of myself isn’t just limited to eating healthy, exercising, or getting enough sleep- although those are all things I plan on doing in the coming year, too. To me, taking better care of myself involves strengthening myself mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, too. I want to meditate more. I want to put myself and my feelings first now and then. I want to rid my life of people and things that bring me unnecessary stress and/or negativity- and instead surround myself with people and things that build me up, support me, value me for all my strengths and flaws, inspire me to be the best version of myself I can be- and encourage an overall healthy and stress-free lifestyle. I want to move forward and stop giving third, fourth or fifth chances to people who have hurt me- and I don’t want to let people take advantage of me. All in all, I want to be more confident in myself, stronger, and in a more peaceful and zen state of mind.

It won’t be easy, but 2016 and turning 30 means an all new chapter for me- one I’m determined to begin writing the right way.

2. Thrive at my career: I’ve only been at my new job for a few short weeks now, but I’m already really happy there. I love the laid-back environment. I truly enjoy the people I work with. I’m very appreciative of the benefits and the perks I receive- and I’m even more grateful for how fair and fun everything is thus far. 2016 is the year I plan to fully thrive within my new position and work hard to be the best employee I can be for an already established business that is looking to expand it’s horizons and grow. I’m excited to chase new opportunities and learn all that I can!

3. Relocate: I love where I live right now. I love who I live with, and I love my location- not only because it’s conveniently close to anything and everything from my job, restaurants, shops, music venues or even nature trails and hiking paths- but also because my city is sort of ingrained into who I am as a person. I have a lengthy history here. I have so many fond memories- but as I get older, I’m hoping to make a fresh start somewhere else and provide a different backdrop for that aforementioned new chapter in my life I’ll be writing in 2016. It could be anywhere from beautiful Western Massachusetts to somewhere as far as San Diego (or Las Vegas! You never know!) but I’m hoping to seek out a change of surroundings in the coming months.

4. Finally get my first tattoo: Long before my father passed away, I had wanted to get a tattoo. Of what, I wasn’t sure- since my ideas changed constantly- which is exactly why I hadn’t sat down and gone through with one yet for fear I’d regret it a week later. Since his death- I’ve had one single idea that has stayed consistent for a few years now. A subtle and small way to pay tribute to him on the inside of my wrist. In 2016, I’m hoping to finally get the ink done at one of the three local parlors I’ve been researching for a couple of months now. While I won’t give away too much- the tattoo features Beatles’ lyrics from one of the songs he and I used to sing together all the time.

5. Visit New Orleans!: Finally, I’d like to take a real, legitimate vacation in 2016 and visit one of the locations on my travel bucket list that I haven’t had the chance to see yet- New Orleans. I already have an itinerary of things I want to do/see, including a cemetery tour and attending a jazz performance since I’m such a big fan (and also eating so much food!) but I keep adding more and more to my plans so it’s shaping up to be a pretty busy week if and when I do decide to go. I’m thinking of heading down in mid-September, after the crowds disperse just a little bit- but we’ll just have to wait and see!

And with all that being said and all my resolutions, hopes, and aspirations in writing- I’m off to bid farewell to 2015 and welcome 2016 with wide, open arms! I’ll be ringing in the New Year in Nantucket this evening with my best friend- where we’re attending a 1900’s themed costume party. I’ve got my pearls and my crystals ready to go- but I’ve got to head out to catch the Ferry to the island!

I hope you all have a safe and wonderful New Year. I’ll be seeing you all in 2016!


A Bewitching New Year’s…

Comments 2 Standard






My cardio for the new year!

For the past few years, I’ve spent New Year’s Eve in NYC- dining, drinking, and dancing- until the wee morning hours of New Year’s Day. It’s become a tradition for some of my friends and I, and something I look forward to every year as the holidays approach. Bidding farewell to one year while welcoming an entirely new one surrounded by people, some strangers, can be a simply magical experience (and worth the mild hangover I’ve occasionally incurred in the process.)

To ring in 2015, however- I wanted to do something different- something quiet, low-key, and relaxing. That’s not to say I’m done with parties in one of my favorite cities in the world- but I think it’s important to break from certain traditions from time to time to try and experience new things. For this New Year’s Eve, Troy and I headed to The Salem Inn, a cozy bed and breakfast located in historic Salem, Massachusetts. We reserved the honeymoon suite on the top floor of the main building, the Captain West House (built in 1834,) to count down to midnight by a beautiful fireplace and toast with the bottle of champagne that was provided to us (as well as a box of chocolates!)




Found this on my camera, so this image is courtesy of Troy!

Our room (and the entire inn, really) was beautiful and immaculate. With a warm fire and a soak in the Jacuzzi tub that was in an attached room of it’s own, I could have easily fallen asleep well before midnight with how relaxed I was. Troy and I toughed it out, though- tuning into Anderson Cooper and CNN to watch the ball drop while we enjoyed a little bit of bubbly before we turned in for the night. It was a lovely, peaceful, romantic evening- just what I needed.

Yesterday, after (reluctantly) checking out of our room, the two of us headed out onto the frigid streets of Salem to try to find a decent breakfast. Right around the corner from the inn was the Gulu-Gulu Café on Essex Street, which looked unique, warm, and inviting. We took a chance and went in- and I’m so, so glad we did. Not only were the staff just the nicest bunch of people you could hope to meet, but the food was AMAZING– quite possibly the best breakfast I’ve eaten in years. I enjoyed an egg, cheddar, and bacon croissant with a strong macchiato (and was so impressed that I ordered a follow-up parfait of greek yogurt with fresh fruit and honey while Troy opted for seconds on his breakfast sandwich.)


If you find yourself in Salem and looking for a place to sit and eat some fantastic food, I can’t recommend this place enough. I’ll definitely be going back soon!

After our breakfast/brunch, Troy and I spent a little bit of time walking around downtown Salem- taking in the beauty of the older houses, some of the cobblestone streets, and more than one gaudy psychic parlor or “Witch Trial” themed gift shop (which seemed to be the only things that were open for business at the time.) As the afternoon wore on, and the arctic temperatures started to get to us- we headed back to my car, and from there- back home. I know that a day consisting of a delicious meal and walking around in the cold with a person that you love might sound so simple or so ordinary to some- but it really was a perfect day- and an even more perfect way to begin a brand new year.

I’m so excited to see what else is in store for 2015, and it’s only just started!

Spotted during our walk.

Spotted during our walk. Yikes.



2014: In a Nutshell.

Comments 2 Standard

It seems crazy to me that yet another year is coming to an end and that I’m already gearing up for 2015, which will be the last year of my twenties and my third year of blogging here at Legally Redhead! Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older, but it felt like all I did was blink- and these past twelve months flew by me so quickly! In an attempt to start 2015 off on a more low-key, slower-paced note, I’m foregoing my usual fun and frenzied celebration in New York City (and the all night party I’ve gone to these past couple of years,) for a quiet evening in with Troy at a lovely bed and breakfast we reserved in Salem for tonight. A roaring fire, a Jacuzzi hot tub, and a little champagne as we count down the minutes to a new year filled with endless possibilities and opportunities seems like a relaxing and refreshing change. I hope all my friends who are traveling to NYC tonight have a blast, though! I can’t wait to see your photos and videos!

Respects must be paid to 2014, of course- a year consisting of the usual ups and downs of life but loaded with new adventures, new challenges, and new faces. From frequent weekend getaways to rural Massachusetts, New York City, Cape Cod, Maine and Vermont- among others- to photograph snowy scenery, historical landmarks, beaches (and sometimes food!) to my horrific faceplant in my own driveway back in the Spring that resulted in a temporary gap in my teeth (and now a permanent fear of black ice.) This past year also saw the moving and triumphant comeback of the Boston Marathon in all it’s glory, and my very first attempt at cosplaying when I won the geek lottery and got to attend San Diego Comic-Con in the Summer! I took on more responsibilities at work in 2014 and rose to the occasion as best I could- and also took on the part-time responsibility of getting my six-year old niece to school on time a couple of days per week (which has proven to be infinitely more challenging than anything I do at my office.)

2014 also saw some really fun and really rewarding collaborations with a few different companies here on the blog- and I want to say it now before I go any further with this post: thank you- ALL OF YOU– who read, follow, share, and otherwise support Legally Redhead. I really love connecting with so many of you through my posts and within my comments, social media, and e-mails. I try to write for me, because it’s truly what I love to do when I’m not working- but I feel so blessed and am so thankful for each and every one of you who encourage me to keep going and keep blogging even on those days where I’m sparse for time and/or content because it means that my passion and my effort extends beyond just myself- and that’s everything to me. I hope to continue bringing new content and ideas to this blog that inspire, entertain, and enrich those who read- well beyond 2015!

Of course, there were obstacles this past year. An old friend from high school tragically passed away over the Summer. A plan to move to Western Massachusetts fell through, as did a trip to New Orleans with my girlfriends due to scheduling and financial conflicts- but those instances of disappointment paled in comparison to the overwhelming amount of fun and excitement I had in 2014- and they also served as motivation towards achieving new goals and resolutions in 2015- which I’ll get to shortly.

As is tradition, I’ve compiled a little round-up of some of the biggest news stories, pop culture happenings, trends, and general craziness that transpired over this past year.

So here is 2014, in a nutshell:

Image courtesy of the International Business Times.

Image courtesy of the International Business Times.

Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Ferguson and the “Black Lives Matter” Movement: Perhaps the most prominent news story in 2014, the aftermath and resulting protests still happening as we speak- were the shooting of unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri by white police Officer Darren Wilson- and the strangulation of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, in Staten Island- by white police Officer Daniel Pantaleo- the latter of which was caught on tape. Both deaths (just two among many other deaths of unarmed black citizens by white police officers this year,) as well as the failure of investigators to remain as transparent as possible while they reviewed evidence and witness statements, sparked unprecedented nation-wide protests and brought racial tensions and the lack of trust between the African-American community and various police departments to the forefront. While militarized police forces clashed with protesters on a seemingly nightly basis- using tear gas and riot gear in residential areas of Ferguson- the unrest reached a boiling point when Grand Juries chose not to indict either Officer Wilson or Officer Pantaleo of any crime or wrongdoing.

With the recent shooting of Antonio Martin in St. Louis earlier this week, and the subsequent protests and confrontations between residents and police officers at the scene of the incident- this is a news story that I think will go well into 2015, too.

Image via TIME Magazine

Image via TIME Magazine.

The Ebola scare reaches American Soil: Following the wide-spread Ebola outbreak in West Africa earlier this year, which resulted in high mortality rates across Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone- it didn’t take long for panic to spread to the United States- many citizens unfamiliar with the disease, it’s symptoms, or how it’s spread- causing flights to and from affected areas to be halted and many people having recently arrived in the country from those locations being quarantined at the smallest sign of illness.

In September, Thomas Clark Duncan, a Liberian who had come into direct contact with the virus and had then traveled to the United States to visit relatives- became the first person to be diagnosed and later die from Ebola in America. As a result, two health care workers who had aided in Duncan’s treatment while in Dallas also contracted the virus (and were later cured,) and Duncan’s family and sections of the apartment complex where they lived were placed under a temporary quarantine to avoid further spread- which only seemed to intensify fears across the country as confusion grew. Once the panic had died down, mostly due to the realization that Ebola is not, in fact, airborne- things seemed to return to normal. TIME Magazine has recently revealed Ebola fighters, who are still staying strong in West Africa as they continue to try and stop the spread of the virus- as their “Person of the Year” for 2014.

Malaysia Plane

Image via Forbes.

Malaysia Airlines had a really, really bad year: On March 8th, 2014, Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 disappeared without a trace- with 239 individuals on board- while en route to Beijing. The disappearance, which included no distress signal and produced no wreckage- prompted the most expensive multinational search for the flight in aviation history and became the focal point of 24-hour news programs for weeks on end. With lengthy investigations into the pilot, co-pilot, crew, and passengers- even inspiring theories that included the plane being hijacked and flown to a remote location, among others- Flight 370 was eventually determined to have gone down in the Southern Indian Ocean and leaving no survivors.

Months later, on July 17th, Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed in the Eastern Ukraine after being shot down by a surface-to-air missile by pro-Russian separatists in the troubled region. All 298 passengers and crew members were killed.

Following the tragedies, many of Malaysia Airlines’ in-flight crew members resigned. That, coupled with the company’s highly-criticized attempts to boost sales with poorly phrased posts on social media later on in the Fall- resulted in one of the most disastrous years an airline could possibly have.

Image via The Guardian.

Image via The Guardian.

The CIA tortured people (some innocent) and The White House knew about it: In a post-9/11, sometimes overtly Patriotic America, there was no greater black mark on the Nation’s reputation in 2014 than when the contents and often-gruesome details from the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” report were recently released. Those who were concerned and disgusted with the extreme brutality and atrocities committed against prisoners- some of whom were later proven to be innocent- began the discussion of how far was too far in the name of anti-terrorism and keeping Americans safe? Furthermore, what message do such tactics send to our allies or to other countries who are far more barbaric?

Worst of all, the report indicated that at the height of these tactics, the Bush Administration- who continuously denied the use of torture on prisoners- knew fully well what was happening and made no attempts to stop it, thus creating further distrust between the citizens of the country and those who are/were in charge of it.


Image via PARADE.


Image via the New York Times.


Image via The Mirror, UK.

We had some unexpected losses this year: While no year is without it’s share of notable celebrity deaths, 2014 seemed to have quite a few shocking ones. Among older, beloved figures who passed peacefully from old age or while courageously battling illnesses (Shirley Temple, Harold Ramis, Bob Hoskins, Oscar de la Renta, and Lauren Bacall- just to name a few,) it was the accidental overdoses of younger celebrities like Peaches Geldof (aged 25) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (aged 46,) and the suicide of Robin Williams (aged 63-) that seemed to come out of left field and stun everyone.

via Reuters.

Image via Reuters.

The Sochi debacle was a glorious train wreck: The Winter Olympics are an inspiring display of skill, hard work, athleticism, and perseverance- but all of that was overshadowed in the 2014 games held in Sochi, Russia (of all places-) when the lead-up to the opening ceremony was plagued by problems. Corruption, threats of terrorism, deplorable hotel conditions for journalists and visiting athletes (those photos of the yellow drinking water will haunt me forever,) and the euthanization of Sochi’s numerous stray dogs in order to make the city look “more presentable” in time for the games. For those reasons and more, it was hard to get into the spirit of the sports- and gold medals should have been awarded to those in the media who were sent over to cover the games from start to finish.


Image via NBC.

The Ice Bucket Challenge goes viral: In the Summer of 2014- athletes, actors/actresses, politicians, internet personalities and everyday folks committed to the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS.) The challenge was simple- pour a bucket of ice cold water over your head (or have someone do it for you,) and make a donation to the ALS Foundation or a charity of your choosing. From there, nominate three or more people to do the same. Although the significance of the ice water as it pertains to ALS is still unknown- the challenge caught on like wildfire- and to date the foundation has received over $100 MILLION dollars in donations since it’s gone viral.

That’s AMAZING- and for the record- my favorite Ice Bucket Challenge video thus far has been Chris Evans’ (YouTube it if you haven’t seen it yet!)

Jennifer Lawrence

Image via TODAY.

Hackers stole photos, and a long look at victim-blaming and sexism ensued: In one of the many hacking scandals in 2014 (I’m skipping over SONY’s biblical security breach since it’s still ongoing at the moment,) a hacker/hackers stole private, nude photographs of Hollywood starlets- most notably Jennifer Lawrence- and plastered them all over the internet. As a result, a refreshing amount of women came to the victims’ defense- shutting down those who attempted to blame and shame Lawrence and others for taking the photos in the first place.

In a year where violence against women and misogyny has been a hot topic with eye-opening calls for change like the #YesAllWomen trend following the Elliot Rodger shooting rampage in California in May, and the #WhyIStayed trend following the released footage of NFL player Ray Rice knocking his then fiancée unconscious in an elevator- it was really great to see females, celebrities and non-celebrities alike- supporting other females and calling the appropriate men out on sexist nonsense once and for all.


Image via Tumblr.

Bill Cosby is NOT Cliff Huxtable: In another saga that I anticipate will extend well into 2015, the long history of sexual abuse that has otherwise been kept under wraps by Bill Cosby’s camp came back to haunt him in a big way this past year with multiple (and I do mean multiple) women coming forward with allegations against the comedian. Appearances were pulled, specials were axed, and honors the ‘Ghost Dad’ star had received throughout his life and career were revoked as more and more women spoke out- all with horrifyingly similar stories of drugged drinks and associates who turned a blind eye to the assaults. It’s been a disgusting scandal to see unfold- not aided by Cosby’s refusal, to date, to acknowledge or answer to any of the accusations.

Image via Google.

Image via Google.


– “Conscious Uncoupling”: Back in March, actress Gwyneth Paltrow took her GOOP-y pretentiousness to a new, formerly uncharted territory when she announced her split from husband Chris Martin. Rather than simply ask for privacy during the proceedings (or better yet, say nothing at all since it was nobody’s business,) Paltrow instead blogged a brief, nonsensical explanation of the couple’s failed attempts at making the marriage work.

– Oscar Pistorius got off easy: In October 2014, Oscar “Blade Runner” Pistorius, the paraplegic sprint runner- after a dramatic trial that was built up by months of crying, shaking, and vomiting in a South African courtroom where he stood trial for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp- was convicted of culpable homicide and reckless endangerment- and is currently serving a five year sentence.

– “The WICKEDLY talented, Adele Dazeem.”: Poor John Travolta. Earlier at this year’s Oscars ceremony, “Let it Go” singer Idina Menzel was set to perform live following the insane success of the movie “Frozen.” Travolta, who apparently didn’t bother to read a cue card or even do the slightest bit of homework before announcing her performance, butchered her name so badly that within an hour the internet had blown up with “Travoltify Your Name” generators and tweets- which were admittedly really, really funny.

– The former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers is old, racist, and a little crazy: While there were plenty of sports scandals in 2014, perhaps the biggest was when a racist voice mail left by then owner of the Clippers, Donald Sterling, for his mistress- was leaked to the press. The justified fall-out, which included the Clippers and other teams in the NBA rallying to get rid of him while Sterling himself gave a damning, borderline senile interview to CNN- finally ended with the old man being banned from the NBA for life and being forced to sell the team.

– We said farewell to “The Colbert Report”: 2014 saw the end of one of my favorite satirical programs on Comedy Central, with the final episode airing just a couple of short weeks ago. After 1,447 episodes, it’s going to be strange not laughing along with Colbert’s political pundit character- but I’m looking forward to seeing what he brings to “The Tonight Show” after he takes over for Letterman next year!

– “It’s about ethics in gaming journalism!”: If there was a bigger intimidation tactic/neckbeard dude-bro clusterfuck on social media than #GamerGate this year, I don’t want to know about it. What started as a smear campaign against a select few female game designers and feminist game reviewers by some misogynistic losers with no lives, quickly escalated into an all-out crusade against female gamers in general and anyone who defended them. With multiple accounts belonging to the targets being hacked into and their personal information being posted online with vile threats of physical and sexual violence- the hashtag made headlines and once again put misogyny and sexism in the spotlight.

– A guy in Ohio raised $55,000 on Kickstarter to make potato salad: Yep. Nothing more to say about that, really.

And that’s it- 2014 in a nutshell! I know there’s a few things I left out, like weddings, scientific breakthroughs, and a certain terrorist group whose barbaric crimes have made headlines over the course of the year (and who I refuse to give attention to on this blog,) but I have to end this post at some point!

While I managed to mostly stay diligent in the resolutions I made for myself in 2014- accomplishing a couple of the things I set out to do (like attending San Diego Comic-Con, for example,) there were a few that I missed the mark on completely and am hoping to try for again in 2015. Here are my resolutions for the new year!

1, Get into the best shape of my life: I feel like this resolution is on everyone’s list, every year- without fail- and I really did start 2014 off with the best of intentions. For the most part, I ate right, I slept as much as my schedule would allow, and I tried to work out whenever I had a chance- but it still doesn’t feel like I reached my goals in terms of re-sculpting my body and getting to my healthiest level. In 2015, I’m re-evaluating what went wrong in my initial plan and making the necessary changes for success- starting with re-arranging my schedule and meal plans to ensure that I am eating the right foods at the right time, sleeping a proper amount- and working out every day instead of every other day or every few days. It won’t be easy- but I’m determined and I refuse to back down or give up.

2. Get organized: This resolution sort of goes with #1. I’ve purchased a planner to help me better manage my time and priorities- including hitting the gym, work-related deadlines, travel and blogging plans. Once I have my schedule figured out and have mastered managing it- I’ll be able to make more time for spontaneous adventures and quiet “me” time, which is also important.

3. Blog to my fullest potential!: Over the past couple of months, I’ve had so many ideas for new content for Legally Redhead but haven’t had the opportunity to bring those plans to fruition. That changes in 2015 with my more organized mindset. I’ll be bringing weekly posts (including my usual subscription box reviews, movie commentary, and photography,) that will include but aren’t limited to “inspired by” makeup looks, spotlights on my wardrobe, gaming reviews (and maybe some play-along video!) renovation and decorating projects, and more cooking/baking posts since they’ve been far and few between. I’m really excited for the changes- all of which are good, in my opinion- that are coming to this blog, and I hope everyone who reads it will be, too!

4. Start looking to re-locate: As much as I love my living situation right now, I think 2015 will be the year I start looking to change my scenery- even if it’s just a little bit. That’s not to say I’ll be making any moves, minor or major, in the coming year- but I would like to start looking at other options in other locations- possibly San Diego (finally?)

5. Get my kicks on Route 66!: This resolution was on my list of goals for 2014 as well, and is my wildcard resolution in a lot of ways- but in 2015 I’d really love to take a couple of weeks near the Summer to head out on the road and travel what’s left of Historic Route 66 to Santa Monica. If I’m able to secure San Diego Comic-Con tickets again, I could make a pilgrimage of it- but even if I don’t- I’d still like to take the trip, either on my own or with any willing friends who want to join me!

And with all of that being said, it’s time to raise a glass (right now, mine has orange juice in it- but later it will be filled with champagne,) to 2014. It’s been a wonderful year! Truly!

I hope you all have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve tonight, everyone! I’ll be seeing you all in 2015! Let’s make it a good one!


Hello, 2014…

Comment 1 Standard

The view from our hotel room!





Happy New Year, everyone! I’ve arrived home from a wonderful night (and day) in New York City and I’m only a little tired. Just a little. I hope everyone had an incredible time counting down the seconds to 2014 wherever you were last night. For the second year in a row, I welcomed a new year within the McKittrick Hotel with good friends and very fun strangers- dancing, singing, checking out some live jazz acts and lounge singers, wandering the hotel, and drinking champagne well after midnight and into the early, early hours of the morning until my feet were sore and my eyes were starting to droop.

I didn’t want to carry around my purse and my camera all night, since it can get pretty heavy after a while, so the photos of the party I’ve posted above were taken at random intervals during the night with my phone. Sorry if they’re a little blurry- everyone was moving around so fast- including me!


Via ModCloth.com



This year’s party theme was “The King’s Winter Masquerade,” and required black & white attire- as well as a mask. For my dress, I turned to trusty ModCloth. I found, and fell in love with, the black dress shown above, which had a comfortable, flattering cut, white lace trim along the bottom hem, and strategically placed cut-outs that showed just the right amount of skin to be flirtatious without going overboard. I paired the dress with black thermal tights since it was pretty cold out last night, and black & white Oxford-styled pumps by Poetic License. The shoes gave me a little bit of height without hindering my ability to dance for hours, and held up well when I went searching for a cab after I’d left the party.

The mask came from Pier 1 Imports, and was the piece that pulled my whole ensemble together. It was beautiful, elaborate, fancy- and I received a ton of compliments on it throughout the night. It didn’t fall off or fall apart- and I look forward to using it for a future Halloween party (or any occasion that pops up.) It’s gorgeous.


Just to give you all an idea of how massive the windows in the room were! My knees made an appearance.

Just to give you all an idea of how massive the windows in the room were! My knees made an appearance.



When it came time to rest and recharge after the festivities, I retreated to my room at the ink48 Hotel, which is hands down one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed at while in NYC. My friends and I were given a corner room on the top floor which provided two breathtaking views from the floor-to-ceiling windows. On one side, we had a brilliant view of The Empire State Building and Times Square (perfect for New Years Eve!) and the other was a crystal clear overlook of the docks down by the Hudson River. See that aircraft carrier in the last photo? That’s the Intrepid- where Sean and I participated in “The Walking Dead: Escape” last October! I hadn’t realized it was right there until this morning when I was looking outside and spotted it in the sunlight.

The hotel’s toiletries were also provided by C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries, which was a huge hit for me- and the staff were so unbelievably friendly and helpful (they brought me a bottle of contact lens solution directly to the room at 4 a.m. when I’d realized I forgot to pack some in my bag and asked the front desk where the closest drug store was so I could go purchase one!) If you’re looking for a great place to stay while in NYC- this is it. Definitely my new favorite.

Before we headed back to Boston, we grabbed breakfast at Market Diner down the block from the hotel on 11th Ave, which was probably the best meal to start a new year with. The food was delicious (as always, I stuffed my face with a Greek omelette), filling, and reasonably priced- which was a lot better than the meal we’d had at Ristorante Amarone on 9th Ave last night before heading over to the McKittrick. That’s not to say the food wasn’t good- it was okay– but it wasn’t anything extraordinary- and it was kind if overpriced for the quality. Oh well.

Overall, last night was the perfect, fun way to bid adieu to 2013, and today was a beautiful, relaxing day to usher in 2014. I had such a lovely time.