Return To Marble House

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

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

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

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

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


Top 10 Photographs of 2014.

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Last year around this time, in the midst of drafting my summary of 2013, I had compiled a list of my ten favorite photographs that I had taken/were taken of me throughout the year. I’ve recently completed my “In a Nutshell” post for 2014- due to be published on New Year’s Eve, and thought that I would put together another post ’til then of my ten favorite photographs from this year!

It was hard to narrow it down to just ten photos, because I saw so many great places, did so many fun things, and met so many wonderful people this past year- so I was frequently re-arranging my list- adding and omitting things- but I think I finally have it sorted. Here’s my “Top 10” pictures that span the course of 2014!


# 10: Fireworks in Cape Cod (July 5th)

The best thing about the Fourth of July landing on a Friday this year was that any and all celebrations of the holiday were extended well into the weekend. Such was the case when my girlfriends and I headed to Cape Cod on Saturday, July 5th, to spend a day at the beach and watch some delayed fireworks displays. The shot above, taken as the sun was setting over nearby Hyannis, captured a group of teenagers setting off some smaller firecrackers near where my friends and I were lounging. It was a beautiful, memorable night.


# 9: Brighton Sharbino smothering me at Boston’s “Walker Stalker Convention” (June 14th)

While I met a lot of really fun actors and actresses at Boston’s very first “Walking Dead” centric-convention (Jon Bernthal and Steven Yeun being two of my favorites,) I had the most fun posing with Brighton Sharbino- the beautiful young lady who portrayed the unhinged Lizzie Samuels in Season 4. Brighton was a sweetheart, and was more than happy to oblige me when I asked her if she could smother me for the photo the way her character attempted to do to baby Judith in one of the most unnerving scenes of the show to date.


# 8: Abandoned House, Rhode Island (May 24th)

On a beautiful, sunny Spring day, after cleaning out and washing my car- I found myself traveling along the back roads heading towards Rhode Island to spend an afternoon in Newport. On the way, I passed this abandoned house- nearly being taken over by the elements and plants growing around it- and had to stop to snap a few photos of it, the partially collapsed garage next to it, and the abandoned VW Bus tucked away under a tree across the street. This was my favorite picture out of the bunch that I took that day.


# 7; The William H. Mason House. Thompson, CT. (March 16th)

This was another find while driving aimlessly one Sunday afternoon after grabbing a coffee and running some errands. I found myself in Connecticut, and spotted this beautiful (and unfortunately decaying) home off the side of the road. Some research into the area turned up information- specifically that this beautiful structure was once known as The William H. Mason House, and is currently scheduled for demolition due in part to the current owner (a wealthy New York-based interior designer,) failing at any attempt to preserve it. It’s a shame, really- because the building is gorgeous and could be turned into a number of things.


# 6: “Is my grin cheesy enough?” Old Orchard Beach (June 22nd)

While I visit Hampton Beach a lot throughout the year (it’s one of the easiest beaches to get to, after all-) June 2014 saw me returning to one of my favorite locations, Old Orchard Beach in Maine, for the first time since my teens. In the photo above, taken by my best friend Sean, I attempted to re-create an identical picture of me that was taken in the exact same spot when I was 16. Although my hair is much redder and my fashion sense is considerably better than it was at the time of the first photo- my big, cheesy grin is pretty much the same.


# 5: My favorite Starbucks date (October 2nd)

In the Fall of 2014, my niece began kindergarten and my brother started a new job. Because of scheduling conflicts- he recruited me to bring my niece to school a couple days every week. Since then, we’ve mastered making pancakes or french toast sticks in the a.m. while still getting her to her classroom on time. Sometimes, on the days we’re running a little behind and don’t have time to cook in my kitchen- we stop at Starbucks. I snapped this picture of her, mid-sip of her hot chocolate (because I’m not giving caffeine to a six year old,) while we were walking to her school.


# 4: Sleeping Red Panda, Roger Williams Park Zoo (May 18th)

As someone who has to bribe my dog with treats to get him to hold still for photos, it was a pleasant surprise to be able to snap a couple of pictures of some Red Pandas during a Springtime visit to the zoo/conservation society in Rhode Island. Granted, they were sleeping soundly at the time, so it wasn’t a challenge getting good shots- but this one, taken from a distance- is my favorite. His/Her little face is just so precious!


# 3: The Lizzie Borden Sofa, Fall River (February 15th)

I traveled, on a whim, to quite a few places in 2014. One of my earlier outings in the year, a short drive to Fall River, brought me to the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast one snowy afternoon where I, and maybe 5-6 other people, were given a tour of the legendary crime scene. I took this picture of the couch where, in 1892, Lizzie’s father Andrew was found murdered (the picture of the scene is easily available on Google- if any curious minds have the stomach to see it for themselves.) The tour was fun and informative, and the home is beautiful, if not a little bit creepy- and this will always be my favorite photo from the day.


# 2: Oliver’s Sunday Best (April 20th)

As a joke to surprise my mom this year, I dressed up my miniature schnauzer, Oliver, in a button up dress shirt, vest, and bow tie that I had picked up in the children’s department of a clothing store for Easter dinner at her house. I only kept the outfit on him long enough to take the photo above while he sat on her couch, but all of my relatives that were present at the time thought it was the cutest thing ever. Since then, I’ve turned this picture into a greeting card for friends and family alike. My little guy looks like such a dapper gentleman!


# 1: Ashley Dixon, San Diego Comic-Con (July 27th)

I hope a photo of myself ranking at #1 doesn’t come across as conceited or egotistical- I just really had the time of my life dressed as Daryl Dixon from “The Walking Dead” while at the biggest comic convention in the world over the Summer. This picture, snapped on the last day of SDCC by a stranger who had asked me to pose with his children a few minutes earlier outside the convention center- was taken just a half hour or so before the event and weekend came to a close. I was tired, hungry, and my feet hurt more than a little- but it was worth it and I really hope I can do it again someday.

And there they are- my top 10 photos from 2014! It’s been a blast going through all of my photos and albums from this year. So many good memories and great pictures from throughout the months.

Here’s hoping there’s even more of them next year!

Where the Wild Things Are

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Back in January, I had gone to Roger Williams Park Zoo at my cousin Paige’s insistence. Even though it had been snowing/freezing rain most of that day, we had seen quite a few animals, and I had mentioned coming back in the warmer weather so that we could check out the rest of the park- including a couple of new areas that, at the time- were under construction.

Last weekend, I had given Paige the option of choosing a daytime destination as a belated birthday present since our schedules didn’t permit my planning something for her actual birthday a few weeks ago, and ever a fan of looking at animals- Paige once again chose the zoo. Above are some of my favorite pictures I snapped while we spent the afternoon walking around in the sunshine. Not surprising, more of the animals were out and about- including the kangaroos which were too adorable for words.

And now, with a beautiful three-day weekend ahead of me, I’m off to enjoy this wonderful weather (and maybe get some work and errands done. I can’t make any promises on that, yet!)

Into the Wild.

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This is Kate- and she is most definitely not camera shy.

This is Kate- and she is most definitely not camera shy.




The Marco Polo Trail.

The Marco Polo Trail.


Sleepy moon bear.

Sleepy moon bear.


Despite the fact that it was varying between snowing heavily/freezing rain all morning and well into the afternoon, I agreed to visit Roger Williams Park Zoo in Rhode Island with my mom and my cousin Paige on Saturday. I know there are many mixed feelings about zoos, especially when it comes to the ethical treatment of animals, but one of the things I’ve always loved about Roger Williams is how well they take care of their animals and their conservation efforts to save endangered species and educate the public about the benefits of going green as it pertains to the environment. The staff is dedicated, educated, and very compassionate- and the animals are well fed and have plenty of space to move around freely.

The zoo is open year-round, and although some of the exhibits change in the colder months, we still saw plenty of animals we hadn’t expected- including zebras, giraffes, elephants, and red pandas- and it was pretty amazing to see how they reacted to the weather. While it was snowing, the zebras and wildebeests kept running out from underneath an awning where they had been eating to check things out . When the snow turned to freezing rain, the red pandas (my favorite!), who seemed to be enjoying sliding around in it at first- eventually looked at each other in what I can only describe as a “screw this” kind of way and retreated indoors where it was warm. The only animals that didn’t seem fascinated or phased by the snow/ice were a huge snow leopard (obviously,) a couple of sleeping moon bears, and the red wolves.

There was an indoor area kept nice and warm for the giraffes and elephants to eat and exercise. I had a lot of fun with an elephant named Kate who kept approaching where I was standing and hamming it up for my camera every chance she got. She even cut in front of the other elephants- Alice, I believe- when she saw me taking her picture.

When we left, we were soaked through and chilled to the bone (we never think to bring umbrellas to outings like these for some inexplicable reason,) but it was a nice time. I’d like to go back during the Spring or Summer to see some of the exhibits geared towards more warmer climates- especially the Australian animals.

Christmas by the Sea.

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Yesterday, on a bit of a whim, I headed down to Newport, Rhode Island with Troy to spend a day relaxing with no real itinerary in mind, and taking in the scenery. I had visited around Christmastime a couple of years ago and it was breathtakingly beautiful. Last night was no exception, made even more lovely by how unseasonably warm outside it was. At one point, I had shed my winter jacket and was comfortably walking around downtown in just a cashmere sweater- admiring the Christmas lights, the mansions, and window-shopping.

During a stroll on Cliff Walk, after stumbling upon a poor dead dolphin that had been washed up against the rocks (seriously- talk about a bizarre find,) Troy and I ran into a very nice woman visiting from Russia who took a couple of the above photos of the two of us together after she talked about the comparisons between the architecture of some of the mansions along the coast to that of buildings from where she’d grown up, and despite the fact that I pulled ridiculous faces in most of them, I’m grateful she was able to capture a couple of good shots with such an amazing view in the background.

Between the warm weather, the scenery, and the really good company- I think it was just what I needed to help me unwind before the Christmas Eve/Christmas Day rush where I’m (usually) left scrambling to visit family & friends and drop off gifts within a certain amount of time. I can easily see Newport becoming an annual holiday tradition.


And, of course, I couldn’t just end this post without wishing a very Merry Christmas to all of you reading this. I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday!