Day Off Date!

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It’s not very often that my BFF4Eva Sean and I get the same days off during our presently hectic schedules, so when we do- we try to make the most of them- especially now that Spring is in the air and spending a significant amount of time outdoors doesn’t feel like a punishment anymore. Case in point? This past weekend where we had a lovely Sunday afternoon driving through small towns en route to Medfield State Hospital (including a pit stop for coffee at Jasper Hill Cafe & Bistro in Holliston.) Sean, in all his travels across the globe, has actually never been- so I thought it would be a nice surprise for him to see it in all it’s spectacular and spooky glory.

Needless to say, he wasn’t disappointed.

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Every time I return to Medfield, I always seem to find something new. In this case- spotting a three-legged chair just randomly propped up outside one of the buildings along the perimeter and a fenced in and dilapidated bench-swing near what I assume was a recreational area caught my attention- previously unseen during my last handful of visits. The place is always a mystery- and seeing Sean experience it for the first time was truly a lot of fun. We stopped every ten feet so he could marvel at the buildings or take photos. I didn’t mind, of course- since I was snapping many of my own along the way!

I do have to say that the recent rule changes to the grounds have me a little concerned, however. While foot traffic has always been allowed and encouraged (permitted those visiting don’t enter the buildings- since the floors and roofs have been left untouched and unattended to the mercy of the elements for YEARS and the amount of asbestos still lingering in the wards poses a serious health hazard)– apparently vehicles are allowed on the property now, as well. While Sean and I were walking around- we had to move out of the way for more than one car as clumsy drivers struggled to maneuver themselves over the long-untended roadways- avoiding potholes and other visitors.

Apart from the obvious threat this poses to pedestrians- I’m worried about the property itself, too. Medfield State Hospital is already in delicate condition as it decays. It seems adding vehicles to the mix is just a recipe for disaster and some extensive property damage when someone isn’t paying attention to where they’re going.

Oh well.

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Continuing with the rather morbid/macabre theme of this installment of ‘Day Off Date’- I spent Tuesday morning and most of the afternoon running some errands before Sean and I (in another rare instance of having the same day off!) took a stroll around the apartment on one of the many beautiful walking paths along the Mystic River. I cannot stress how lovely the weather has been lately- especially when compared to last year when we were still attempting to shovel ourselves out from underneath mounds of snow around this time. I don’t want to jinx it when I say that it feels like Mother Nature is finally showing New England just a little mercy.

I digress. While passing through Medford en route back to the apartment- I spotted this little memorial for ‘The Black Dahlia’, Elizabeth Short. For those not familiar with the famous unsolved murder, you can catch up HERE (a strong stomach is highly advised.) Elizabeth grew up in the area prior to being murdered and buried in California, and this little stone monument- hidden between an apartment building and a very busy rotary where her home once stood- was an unusual find. Not pictured were the long since dead flowers someone had left by the stone, which I thought was a nice gesture- especially for something that so many people pass by everyday and may not notice. It’s kind of sweet that people remember these sorts of things- no matter how much time has passed.

I swear, next week I’ll try to do something a little more upbeat and less grizzly/dreary during my next days off.

xx

Day Off Date!

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Much like my recently implemented monthly “Hits List!” posts, I thought I’d try something a little new and a little different here on the blog to coincide with my new work schedule and create weekly/bi-weekly “Day Off Date” posts. You see, since I started my new job- my typical weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) off has shifted into having Sundays and Tuesdays off, instead. It’s not terrible- since having a weekday off means I can properly schedule appointments, run errands, or take time to do something fun for myself during the day without having to deal with weekend crowds and/or traffic- and my shift on Saturdays is still early enough in the day that it allows me plenty of time to partake in weekend party plans, too!

I’ve decided to seize those days off and have myself a different adventure every week- a way to treat myself with some quality solo time- and since I always have my camera in tow- documenting my travels, destinations, and food (of course!) will be very easy for me.

This past Tuesday I ventured out to the Museum of Fine Arts to scratch one thing off of my lifetime bucket list- seeing a real Picasso painting up close. The exhibit, ‘Pairing Picasso’, is running at the MFA from now through June 26th. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend checking it out!

Of course, I also took a couple of hours to explore the rest of the museum, too. I haven’t had the opportunity to go in a couple of years- but the place is so beautiful- and during the week it’s delightfully quiet, too!

While I was at the museum, I enjoyed a light lunch near the contemporary and digital art exhibits before I popped into the gift shop to pick up a Picasso print for my mom (everyone could use a little unusual art in their home!) and then headed uptown for a quick manicure and a coffee.

Of course, this past Tuesday marked ‘Super Tuesday’, as well- so near the end of my day I took the time to vote before meeting up with Troy for the night. While the results of the polls weren’t exactly what I had hoped for- I’m trying to stay optimistic for the coming election. I really, really am. I mean I’m REALLY trying.

All in all, my first ‘Day Off Date’ was a success! I had a lovely time at the MFA, and even accomplishing something as small and as frivolous as making my nails look nice again was rewarding for me. It was a stress-free and relaxing day (apart from when I stepped in gum inside my Town Hall’s polling station. Ew) and I’m already planning a couple of things for this coming Tuesday!

For now, though- I’m off to work for a couple of hours!

xx

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Scenes From Snowpocalypse ’16!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Til next time!

xx

Top 10 Photographs of 2015.

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As has become a bit of a tradition for me since I started ‘Legally Redhead’, I’ve put aside some time to comb through all of my photos- ones I’ve taken myself throughout all of my adventures and ones that have been taken of me (some flattering, and some not so much)– over the course of this past year, and believe me when I say there were a LOT of them. So many, in fact- that narrowing down the photos to just ten to include in this list proved to be much more challenging than I’d been prepared for! I had an idea going into this post, sure- but once all of those photos were laid out in front of me- all of them filled with such wonderful memories, travels, and some with just plain silliness- my idea was thrown out the window and it was like starting from scratch!

I digress- After multiple edits, rearrangements, and more edits- I think I’ve formally and finally selected my favorite ten photographs from 2015!

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#10: Oh, the HUMANITY (February 26th)

Some may be surprised that a photo from one of the worst winters imaginable (barely) made it onto the list, considering how miserable the non-stop blizzards made me, and the rest of New England- but this picture I captured on my cell phone from inside the parking garage at my last job after yet another storm shows just how serious things were starting to get when we began running out of places to put all of the snow. The back of my car, pictured in the bottom, left-hand corner- shows how close the buildup was getting to what was my designated parking spot at the time.

That pile wasn’t completely melted until late May/early June, by the way.

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# 9: Barely able to contain my excitement with Hayley Atwell at Boston Comic-Con (August 2nd)

While the image quality might not be the best (it’s a photo of a glossy photo, after all-) the laminated copy of this picture snapped during this year’s Boston Comic-Con is proudly on display in my bedroom. While I simply didn’t have enough time to make multiple, elaborate costumes like I did for San Diego Comic-Con in 2014- the one costume I DID take the time and the effort to make, a homage to one of my favorite female Marvel heroes- was a gem in my cosplay résumé. When I got to wear my costume and pose next to Peggy Carter herself, Hayley Atwell- I was pretty much inwardly screeching with joy. When Hayley complimented the outfit- I couldn’t stop beaming- and that’s right around the time this photo, which definitely highlights my overjoyed megawatt grin and subsequent squinty eyes- was snapped by the hired photographer for the event.

Meeting Hayley was the cherry on top of a truly fantastic weekend I had that month. Not only did my longtime friend Steven attend the convention with me (and we saw ‘Ant-Man’ that night!) but it was also the day before Brandon Flowers’ incredible performance at House of Blues.

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# 8: An evening in The Morgan Library (January 18th)

In the first of many day/weekend trips to NYC my friends and I took in 2015- January 18th saw me catch a train to Manhattan all on my own specifically to spend a couple of hours perusing and relaxing in The Morgan Library and Museum on Madison Avenue. While it was a tad difficult to get a perfect shot without other visitors looking and looming around in the background- I always liked this one the best. I thought it captured just how gigantic the library really is- and the stunning artwork that brightens up the ceiling (that feels like it’s a three miles high.)

The visit to the museum was absolutely worth the train ride- and the gigantic bruise I sustained on my hip after I fell on ice shortly after my arrival in the city earlier that afternoon.

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# 7: Central Park Pretzel Squad (June 20th)

During another day trip to NYC, this time during the Summer and with a group of some of my best guy friends- what was going to be a quick visit proved to be a nearly 24 hour walking tour of the city (we only took the subway back to Grand Central Station when we reached Brooklyn and literally couldn’t move our legs anymore.) The trip was with- and for- our friend, Nick- who had never visited NYC before. We were determined to show him as many tourist attractions as we could (and I thought we did a pretty good job!) but I snapped this photo with my phone in the middle of the afternoon when our group stopped to take a break in Central Park. It wasn’t until we’d all taken a bite when I realized that we’d all ordered some variation of a cart pretzel- which are really the best.

I was going to omit food photos this year (because I did a lot of really tasty baking and thought ten photos of my kitchen concoctions might be a bit much for one post)– but this one was too good to pass up.

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# 6: Historic Deerfield (July 27th)

2015 was the year I rediscovered (or rekindled?) my love of Western Massachusetts, specifically the Pioneer Valley. I spent a lot of time in Northamption, Amherst, Hadley, and Deerfield- especially the historic area- lined with pretty houses, old fences, and plenty of flowers. I stopped by the area one afternoon in July to take a walk while I waited for my friend to finish up at work so we could go about our scheduled plans. After taking a corner, I was greeted by all these bright and beautiful flowers- some that had grown almost as tall as me- and I took a few photos while trying to avoid the bees that were buzzing about.

This one was my favorite of the bunch. I love all the different colors in this photo.

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# 5: Making a friend at Ocean Beach, San Diego (January 25th)

Days before the first of many historic blizzards and Winter storms were set to hit the East Coast at the beginning of the year, I was in sunny San Diego celebrating my 29th birthday with friends. On my last day before I was due to fly back home- I headed down to Ocean Beach- my favorite spot in SoCal. While there, I watched surfers ride the waves, ate some awesome tacos, and strolled the boardwalk- which is where I spotted this guy just hanging out. Even as I inched closer and closer to him, he didn’t budge- he just sat on the railing and watched me- and then he let me take his picture with the beautiful ocean and palm trees in the background.

Sadly, I didn’t see him this past October when I returned to San Diego for a vacation.

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# 4: Quabbin Reservoir (September 6th)

As Summer slowly but surely began to slip away, making room for Autumn- I headed out for one last evening hike along the Quabbin Reservoir one late afternoon in September before I made my way to Northampton for a dinner date. My timing as I hit the trails was perfect, because I caught this beautiful and serene shot just as the sun was first beginning to set. I was the only one there for a short period of time before a couple of hikers came by, and I remember just being so blown away with how lovely the water looked as it reflected the sky. It was like something out of some far away fantasy movie.

It’s a shame swimming isn’t allowed in the reservoir- because I would have dove in- in a heartbeat!

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# 3: My final set list of my 20’s (August 3rd)

I had mentioned it above with my photo with Hayley Atwell- but August 2nd-3rd were so unbelievably fun for me. The 3rd, my second day of getting to spend time with my Irish BFF, Steven- was also the day Brandon Flowers brought his ‘Desired Effect’ tour to Boston. Since my teens, The Killers and their individual solo work have played an integral part of my life. I’ve met so many people and have made so many friends because of the band’s existence and through their wide and diverse fan base- and their music has, on more than one occasion- been a soundtrack to different ups and downs since my late teens.

The set list shown above, a gift from Steven after the show- marks my final B.Flow performance of my 20’s. Come mid-January, I’ll be entering my thirties, and while I don’t anticipate never seeing a show again, ever- it’ll be within a whole new era of my life.

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# 2: Viva Las Vegas! (October 16th)

Despite the fact that we’ve known each other for 20 years, my best friend Sean and I have never actually taken a vacation together (apart from the occasional weekend in NYC or New Hampshire or something.) All of that changed when my long lost twin sister, Kelsey, tied the knot in Las Vegas this past October and Sean was more than happy to fly across the country and come along as my date. We had an absolute BLAST there- from hitting the strip, going from casino to casino, to being apart of Kelsey’s beautiful ceremony at the M Resort- which marked my first time seeing her in a few years! It was by far one of the best trips I’ve ever been on- and the photo-of-the-photobooth-strip above is just a snippet of our overall carefree and silly attitude during our stay.

We’ve already agreed that we need to head back to Vegas together A.S.A.P. and catch a show or two (and do some gambling.) Maybe it’s in store for 2016? We’ll just have to wait and see!

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# 1: Stone Arch Bridge – Upstate New York (April 25th)

In April, I set off to Bethel, New York, for a long weekend of relaxation in the middle of nowhere and to revisit areas I had stopped by with my parents during a family holiday over five years ago. One spot in particular, the Stone Arch Bridge, proved to be one of my favorite places to pause, sit, and take a few photos. The area was still feeling the aftermath of Winter (the trees were bare and it was a bit chilly out) but it ended up working in my favor. I loved all of the pictures I took during my stay- but this one in particular really caught my attention while I was reviewing it after I’d come home. It’s very similar to a photo my father took the last time I was there (only the trees were much fuller and I was actually on the bridge in his version.)

Because of how sentimental the area is to me, and because of how lonesome-looking but lovely this picture came out (I’m quite proud of it!) I’ve dubbed this picture my # 1 of 2015.

And there it is! My top ten photos from this past year. I’m very pleased with my list- and I’m looking forward to snapping even more pictures come 2016 with all the big plans I’ve been making for the upcoming year!

xx

Christmas in Nantucket

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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xx

“Sunsets and Neon Lights…”

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It’s always sort of surreal returning from a vacation on the opposite coast- like I’m re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere for the first time in years. My mind is fuzzy and foggy, my body (usually) aches from long plane rides, and it takes me a couple of days to adjust to the time zone and climate change- especially this time of year where I spend more than a few days in Summer-like temperatures and then return home to Boston where it’s particularly chilly.

I digress- I’m back from a near-week-long trip to fabulous Las Vegas and sunny San Diego! I hit the ground running, having jumped right back into work at my office mere hours after my plane touched down- and I fully admit that I’m way, way behind on my e-mails and messages (but plan to catch up today!) Sometimes it’s just really nice- and healthy- to unplug for a while. I can’t even tell you all how many people I saw during my trip that were so immersed in the screens of their phones/tablets that they were oblivious to everything and everyone else around them (including bumping into so many people/things!) and couldn’t really experience the excitement of Vegas or the beauty of Southern California right there in front of them.

And then there were the planes- where people flat-out REFUSED to stop mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and Twitter (much to the aggravation of the poor flight attendants) before and during take-off. On my flight home, a layover from Nashville to Boston- the man sitting to my side was back on Facebook the second the plane touched down- before we’d even come to a full-stop and pulled up to the gate! He was just furiously scrolling like his very existence depended on it!

It was eye-opening, for sure.

And yes- I occasionally updated Instagram and other social media from time to time during my vacation- but I made a point to have face-to-face interactions and dialogue with the people I care about out West, and whom I don’t get to see nearly as often as I’d like. I highly recommend it for those who plan to be traveling soon (or even just sticking around where you live!) Put the phones/tablets away for just a little while. I promise, all those Facebook photos and Tweets will still be there when you get back!

But here I am getting preachy when I don’t mean to. My apologies!

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The view from our breakfast table!

The view from our breakfast table!

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My main reason for visiting Las Vegas was for my beloved friend Kelsey’s wedding to her very lucky (now) husband, Andrew. I haven’t seen Kelsey since the last time I was in town- roughly 4-5 years ago- but it was so great to be back. I had prepared for endless sunshine and heat stroke- but was pleasantly surprised that there were some clouds during my stay- and even some light rain! I think it followed me from New England.

Kelsey’s wedding took place at the M Resort Spa and Casino, which is also where I stayed with my best friend Sean- who arrived in town a few hours after I did (and who thought I wasn’t coming into Vegas until the day after he got there- which led to a very nice surprise in the lobby when he showed up and I was waiting to help him with his luggage.) The property is beautiful, about 15-20 minutes away from the Las Vegas strip but with an incredible view of the towers and casinos in the distance- so you can actually relax at night without being disturbed by loud music or bright, neon flashing lights in your window.

Sean and I spent a lot of time at the resort, mostly eating- because oh my God the food was amazing- and taking turns swimming in the gigantic bathtub in our room- but he had never been to Vegas before, and I insisted we catch a shuttle to the strip the day before the wedding to do a lengthy casino-to-casino tour so that he could drink in all the fun, tourist-y stuff the city had to offer a couple of geeks like us.

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Sean and I got an early start, heading into town (by the Wynn) and working our way down the strip until we got to the Luxor and Mandalay Bay later on that night before we backtracked to the resort to sleep off a full day of walking, running, sight-seeing, shopping, and riding the roller coaster at New York, New York. Sean got to see his very first fountain show at the Bellagio, while I got to ooh-and-aaah at the interesting decor in The Cosmopolitan (my favorite hotel/casino!)

We didn’t have the time- or the energy- to catch any of the shows taking place at any of the casinos, but I made a mental note to come back as soon as possible to see Britney Spears perform at Planet Hollywood and take a peek at the ‘Absinthe’ show at Caesar’s Palace because if you’re going to go to Vegas, you HAVE to see a show- right?

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Since Kelsey’s wedding took place in the evening, and we had more than enough time to get ready- on Friday morning/afternoon, Sean and I once again headed into town so that he could see a couple more locations we didn’t get the chance to hit the day before- namely The Stratosphere and historic Fremont Street. During our brisk walk, we passed more than one drive-through wedding chapel (and sent our friends and loved ones a photo of the exterior of one particular Elvis-themed church asking them if we should take the plunge and get hitched for fun. The responses were golden.) and plenty of gift shops.

Sean, who has been terrified of heights during the entire 19 years I’ve known him- surprised me when he willingly took the elevator up to the top of the Stratosphere to get a bird’s eye view of the strip- and watch people who had WAY more courage than either of us free-fall jump from the top of the building (a new attraction that hadn’t been there the last time I was in town.) Maybe next time I can convince him to try it with me. I admit- it looked like fun.

Fremont Street, which has always felt delightfully dirty and sketchy to me- was a treat, too. I picked up a couple of SUPER tacky gifts for a few folks back home and ate a pretty fantastic street taco while we bobbed and weaved through the crowds under old neon signs and through historic casinos like The Golden Nugget and the Four Queens. By the time mid-afternoon rolled around- we knew we had to hightail it back in order to make ourselves presentable for Kelsey’s special day.

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The wedding itself was beautiful. Kelsey looked absolutely gorgeous (which isn’t hard for her at all since I consider her to be one of the most stunning girls I know!) and the reception was one of the most fun things I’ve ever attended. It was a pleasure seeing some of our mutual friends (Erica! Beth!) and meeting loads of new people between drinking, dancing, and hijacking the adorable photo booth that was set up to commemorate the occasion. I am truly so, so happy for Kelsey and Andrew- and I wish them a lifetime of happiness, love, and good fortune. I can’t thank them enough for including Sean and I in something so wonderful!

On Saturday, following the wedding reception- Sean headed back to Boston while I continued West to stay in San Diego for a couple of low-key and relaxing days off the grid where I did my usual tour de force of my favorite burger and Mexican food restaurants- and had more than one night of late night drinking with my dear friend, Jimmy. It was the perfect way to unwind and prepare myself for the flight home and subsequent return to work and New England life.

I’m hoping the next time I head out to San Diego, it’ll be to move into a new apartment (fingers crossed!)

But now that I am officially back on the East Coast for the time being- it’s time to catch up on those e-mails, review the subscription boxes that arrived at my door in my absence, prepare to select a winner for my Halloween Giveaway, and get ready to watch a few more awful horror movies on Netflix!

‘Til next time!

xx

“Slip Into the Autumn Shade…”

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Even though I’ve had to gradually add more and more layers to my wardrobe over the past couple of days because the mornings and evenings have been particular chilly- I have been having the absolute best time outdoors with friends hiking through the woods and past old cemeteries, as well as driving down leaf-lined back roads to farm stands and pumpkin patches. While many of the trees still have a lot of green on them, it looks so beautiful mixed in with the yellows, oranges, and occasional reds that are practically glowing on the branches.

On Saturday, I took a long and aimless drive to Brattleboro, Vermont (which isn’t much farther from my beloved Western Massachusetts) where I stopped numerous times to photograph the foliage, pick up a pumpkin for my mom’s front porch (it’s a tradition!), buy some locally grown vegetables and baked bread, and take in the cozy charm that only the small and picturesque communities in Vermont could offer.

… I also got to feed a baby goat- which had me in near hysterics with how cute it was. I’m such a softie for baby animals.

Each time I visit the area, I always end up asking myself why I don’t spend more time up there. It really is lovely. Especially this time of year.

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If Saturday’s excursion wasn’t enough nature for me- I also headed to the Middlesex Fells Reservation on Sunday afternoon with a group of my friends for a couple of hours of hiking and posing for plenty of photos before the sun began to set and we had to start back to where we’d parked before it got too dark out. The Fells is such a massive area to explore, and even though we were there for quite some time- we’d only covered a very small fraction of all there was to do and see. I’d love to head back in the coming weeks before it gets too old (or worse- icy!) to explore a little more. It’s simply awe-inspiring- especially when you catch a glimpse of the area (and the far away Boston skyline) from the top of Wright’s Tower.

All in all, I had such a relaxing and beautiful weekend. My photos just don’t do it justice.

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A day in the wilderness isn’t exactly easy on hair like mine.

xx

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

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

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

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Couldn’t resist a selfie!

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

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

xx

“Then Labor Day came and went…”

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SoLongSummer20151

“And we shed what was left of our Summer skin…”

And just like that- Summer 2015 has come to a close. I hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend! I’m back to work this morning, falling back down to Earth after a few beautiful days spent with good friends- and also with nature- to bid a fond farewell to the season.

Saturday night, I headed to Reading for a low-key “Wet Hot New England Summer Send-off”-slash-housewarming party at my friend Holly’s new apartment, where the group of us made tacos, had a couple of drinks, and binge-watched the ‘WHAS: First Day of Camp’ series on Netflix together. It was fun, relaxed, and especially nice since our circle of friends can’t always find the time to see each other and hang out as often as we’d like now that we’re all well into the wonder that is adulthood.

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If you haven’t watched the ‘Wet Hot American Summer’ series yet- you’re missing out! It’s just as funny- if not funnier- the second time around!

On Sunday, prior to spending an evening shooting pool (see: dominating the table) with a friend in Northampton, I managed to catch a breathtaking sunset at the Quabbin Reservoir in Belchertown. It wasn’t planned. I had opted to take the scenic route to Western Massachusetts instead of driving the never-ending highway of despair known as the Mass Pike- and I just happened to pull into the parking area for a section of the Reservoir to stretch my legs for a half hour or so.

A half hour turned into nearly an hour and a half- although I’m sure it’s easy to see why. It was so gorgeous and so peaceful there. I plan on heading back for another late-afternoon stroll once the leaves begin to change colors. It’s going to be stunning!

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Knowing that any attempts to head to the beach yesterday for the actual Labor Day holiday were going to be considerably difficult with traffic and with finding a place to park- I opted to spend my extra day off closer to home: running some errands I’d put off and enjoying the sunshine until it came time to prepare for the work I need to do this week. I may not have had the sand under my toes one last time for 2015- but I had an iced coffee and air conditioning- and that’s just as good in my book.

The next few days will be spent at my office, because I have to get SOME work done, after all- but I’m venturing out this coming weekend- first to Hampton Beach’s annual Seafood Festival, and then to participate in one of my favorite seasonal activities: apple picking! I’ll try to keep the apple-filled recipe posts to a minimum (I have one lined up for later on this week that contains no fruit whatsoever!) but I’ll definitely be taking a bunch of photos.

‘Til next time!

xx

July 2015: In a Nutshell.

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Deerfield, Mass. July 2015.

First and foremost, I’m so proud to say that this is my 300th post here at “Legally Redhead!” It’s been a couple of years since I started this blog with nothing more than just a slightly vague idea of what I wanted it to be about and how I wanted it to look- and it’s blossomed into such a fun and fulfilling project for me. Over the course of these past 300 posts I have met and networked with so many interesting people and have made so many new friends- both near and far- and I have gotten to experience new things and travel to new places. “Legally Redhead” has truly played a crucial part in opening my eyes and mind to all sorts of adventures and possibilities!

From a business perspective, “Legally Redhead” has enabled me to form strong partnerships with different brands and companies that I otherwise would have missed out on had I not taken the initiative to begin this blogging journey- and I’m truly thankful to the representatives of those brands/companies that continue to support and encourage me and who continue to promote my content.

But mostly I’m thankful to those of you who follow my blog or even just casually read it from time to time, and who communicate with me through the comments/social media/e-mail/etc. or share my posts with your friends and/or followers. Connecting with all of you is what makes this worth it for me and keeps me going- even when I hit that occasional slump of writer’s block from time to time or get overwhelmed at work and am unable to post for a bit while I catch up at my office.

Deerfield, Mass. July 2015.

Deerfield, Mass. July 2015.

From the bottom of my heart- thank you all so much! Here’s to another 300 posts!

I also want to say HAPPY FIRST DAY OF CAMP to my fellow “Wet Hot American Summer” enthusiasts and Netflix subscribers who have no doubt already started marathoning the mini-series as soon as it launched today. I’m anxiously waiting ’til after I leave work this afternoon to head home, close my blinds, make some popcorn- and get started. I’m so excited to see Gene and his talking can of vegetables again- and I promise everyone I will refrain from incessantly quoting the series all day, every day.

What can I say about July? It was a beautiful, often scorching hot month that I spent most of outdoors at backyard BBQs, bonfires, and the beach. When I wasn’t slathering on SPF like my life depended on it- I was following the San Diego Comic-Con feeds (and inwardly shrieking at all things “Walking Dead”-related) and preparing for the upcoming craziness of a jam-packed August. Earlier this month, my best friend Sean headed to Spain for a month-long study abroad program through his college (and he returns home tomorrow!) while another friend moved back to the area after nearly a year living and working in Upstate New York! It’s truly been a fast-moving few weeks- and it isn’t going to be slowing down anytime soon.

Deerfield, Mass. July 2015.

Deerfield, Mass. July 2015.

To kick off August, I’ll be heading to Boston Comic-Con this weekend (in my full Agent Carter costume, which I will happily share photos of as soon as possible!) to meet the lovely Hayley Atwell and the man, the myth, and the legend himself- Stan Lee! I’ll also be reuniting with my longtime friend and absolutely brilliant lighting designer, Steven, as he heads into town for a stop at the House of Blues with the always wonderful Mr. Brandon Flowers (I’ll be sharing photos from the show, too!)

Even though August marks the winding down and near-end of the Summer season, I’ll still be sharing some of my favorite hot weather-friendly recipes and my “Battle of the Beaches” post that compares Hampton Beach in New Hampshire to Old Orchard Beach in Maine for others like me that love the ocean and the boardwalk no matter what time of year it is. I had initially wanted to have it up in July, but I’m still making some final edits and changes (plus, it gives me a reason to head to the beaches- again- for a couple of days for “research purposes”!)

Also in August? The “Walker Stalker” convention returns to Boston for it’s second year to thrill other ‘Walking Dead’ fans like me in the area. I can’t wait to see some familiar faces and meet some new ones- too!

I’m so excited for these coming weeks and to close out Summer 2015 in style!

xox

Deerfield, Mass. July 2015.

Deerfield, Mass. July 2015.

Deerfield, Mass. July 2015.

Deerfield, Mass. July 2015.