“Your aura is purple!”

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On occasion, I hear about places and things to do that are so unique and so unlike anything I’ve ever seen or done before that I don’t hesitate to grab my bag, my camera, hop in my car- and go check it out for myself. I love trying new things and exploring unfamiliar territory that it’s like a rush of adrenaline to just get up and go.

This past Saturday, I did just that- catching an early morning train into New York City for a day trip that put me right in the middle of Chinatown. My reason? To have my aura photographed and explained/evaluated to me in detail at Magic Jewelry on Canal Street.

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I believe in many things (I’m beyond fortunate to come from a very diverse family and have very diverse friends- all of whom practice different beliefs and all of whom I’ve learned many different things from,) so I approached Magic Jewelry- tucked away between massage parlors, nail salons, and souvenir stands- with an open mind. I was buzzed into the small shop where I was greeted and given a cup of really good green tea by a friendly older women while the other lady working attended to a group who were there for the same reason as me.

My photograph only took a few minutes to snap. I was seated in a little corner of the shop and told to rest my hands- palms flat- on two metal slates at my sides as I looked into the camera. While I waited for my photo to finish developing, I caught a glimpse of some of the photos taken of the other people who were waiting inside the shop with me and noticed that each one was very different from the next in terms of colors and intensity.

The photo of mine is above, and it’s very, very red! I was given a summary of the past three weeks- including things I’ve been concerned with and things I’ve been feeling (which was both remarkably and eerily accurate since I offered no information about myself leading up to it!) as well as predictions for the next three weeks. From there, I was given more tea while I perused the shop’s assortment of available crystals, charms, and jewelry- none of which were pushed on me- which was much appreciated!

I was pleased with the overall experience. It was new, different, exciting, and enlightening. If you ever find yourself in Chinatown and you’re looking to have an interesting experience- I recommend checking Magic Jewelry out!

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With my aura photograph tucked away safely in my purse and the sky opening up to make way for what proved to be a beautiful afternoon, I spent the next few hours walking around Manhattan and window shopping. I did stop to refuel at The Hummus & Pita Company/The Juice Shop on Broadway where I picked up a chicken, brown rice, and Moroccan bean pita and a smoothie that were made fresh (and were super tasty) before I opted to head back home for the evening before it got too late.

All in all, not a bad way to spend a Saturday. I’m going to be back in NYC with friends within a couple of weeks (for one of my friends, it’ll be his very first time there!) so it’ll be nice to spend more than a few hours hanging around town for a change.

And depending on how accurate the prediction I was given for the upcoming three weeks turns out to be- maybe I’ll take him to have his aura photographed, too.

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xx

Memorial Day 2015.

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I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! I spent most of the past few days going from beach to beach throughout New Hampshire and Maine- rounding out my overcast Memorial Day at Old Orchard Beach, where I spent a couple of hours watching the waves crash in beneath the pier (the water was freezing, by the way!) and doing a little window browsing at some of the seaside surf shops.

One of the things I love about OOB is that while most, if not all of the action is located primarily at the pier and the boardwalk arcade/amusement park- making finding whatever you want to do for fun very convenient- you can walk 10-15 minutes in any direction and be in a more quiet, less-crowded area without losing that “beach town” charm. There’s still plenty of cozy motels, bungalows, little stores and restaurants scattered around to check out.

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One restaurant in particular, the Sunset Bar & Grill, located just down the road from the pier, happened to be one of the places I stopped to grab a quick bite to eat and people watch from the outdoor patio. Although there were quite a few inebriated people seated around me who were growing increasingly louder and belligerent (Memorial Day weekend and all,) the food was good enough to distract me and my waitress was so sweet!

I’ve mentioned spending weekends this Summer in Concord and Upstate New York, among other places- but I’d really love to take a few days to head back up to OOB to swim, surf, and lounge. The sea air feels wonderful (although it does tend to make my hair huge.) Even though I was only there for a few hours- I left feeling so relaxed.

I’d actually like to do a comparison post this Summer of all the pros/cons of Old Orchard Beach and what I consider to be it’s biggest competitor- Hampton Beach, New Hampshire- since I usually frequent both throughout the Summer. It looks like I’ll just have to take a couple of  weekends to do some more thorough research. Poor me!

xx

April 2015: In a Nutshell.

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BethelApril20151“I’m going to camp out on the land. I’m gonna’ try and get my soul free.”

You’ll have to excuse my whimsical demeanor in this post. I’m still coming back down to Earth and re-adjusting to city life after a beautiful and sunny few days in quiet and quaint Bethel, New York. This past weekend- spent re-visiting the 1969 Woodstock Festival, hiking through a portion of the Catskills, photographing just a few of the breathtaking abandoned buildings throughout different counties, and enjoying some of the local cuisine- was the perfect way to round out what was overall a pretty good month. Some of my photos can be viewed in the album below!

I’d love to go back this Summer with more appropriate hiking and photography gear, since some of the long since emptied houses and businesses were a little tricky to get to due to their altitudes along the hillsides and the fact that they have been overtaken by the elements growing around them. I had packed ankle-length flowing skirts and boots with little to no tread on them this last time around- so I kept getting snagged on things every few steps! Lesson learned.

April was a busy month at work, which kept me on my toes- and between Boston juries returning GUILTY verdicts on both Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and former Patriots’ star turned murderer, Aaron Hernandez- it was an excellent month for the justice system in general, too.

This past month also kicked off the 2015 convention circuit for me. I had a blast at the New England Super MegaFest a couple of weeks ago, and I’m excited for the upcoming events in my area where I can get my geek on and wear some of the costumes I’ve been working on in my free time.

Not only that- but “Avengers: Age of Ultron” finally opens tomorrow! If that’s not the perfect way to start the comic-con season, then I don’t know what is.

So what’s in store for May? Definitely a little more traveling if I can manage it, some in-depth posts I’ve been drafting about fun things to do around my city, healthy recipes (that don’t taste like chalk- I promise!) and another “Inspired By” look that pays homage to the greatness that is the movie “Almost Famous.” I’m also doing some re-decorating in the coming weeks, so be on the lookout for a peek at the newest developments unfolding in my bedroom and bathroom. I love to paint, so it’s going to be fun (I’ve been watching a lot of HGTV lately and getting a TON of ideas. Someone stop me. Please.)

‘Til next time!

xx

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Bidding Farewell to Don Draper.

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Long before AMC ruined my life (and shattered ratings records over and over again,) with “The Walking Dead,” I was- and still am- infatuated with “Mad Men.” My biased love of 1960s fashion and music aside, it’s been a tremendous several seasons of scandal, heartache, history, great one-liners and memorable, touching moments as viewers watched the rise (and multiple downfalls) of the show’s main protagonist- Donald Draper. With clever and compelling writing and an immensely talented, stunning cast- saying goodbye to the show after all this time as it concludes it’s final season over the next couple of months won’t be easy.

This past weekend, after heading into NYC for a few hours, I made a point to stop by the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria to check out their recently unveiled “Mad Men” exhibit, which is open to the public for viewing now through June 14th of this year. Featuring replicas of some of the most famous sets, costumes, props, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at how the show was first conceived by Matthew Weiner and how it was/is written- it’s a must see for any die-hard fans who are planning on spending any time in New York this Spring.

My one gripe with the Museum of the Moving Image is that while most of the other exhibits in the building, some featuring impressive antiques- could be photographed freely (and some could even be touched!)– the “Mad Men” exhibit was strictly off limits to any type of photography at all. Now, I understand why flash photography is prohibited in many places, since it can damage pieces in an exhibit over time and is just distracting to the staff and other visitors in general- but you mean to tell me I can’t snap a cell phone picture of Betty’s stylish kitchen even though I paid the price of admission? Come on. That’s a little ridiculous.

Now, if there’s some sort of logical explanation for this rule that I’m somehow overlooking and anyone wants to enlighten me- feel free, because I’m always open to learning new things. It was just slightly off-putting to go from taking pictures around the museum with no consequence to suddenly getting screamed at as I took an innocent and flash-free photo of Don’s office at the agency (and I had completely missed the very small “NO CAMERAS” sign nearby- I swear!)

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I digress, other than that hiccup- I enjoyed myself. The museum is filled with a lot of really great pieces of cinematic, television, and gaming history. It’s fascinating to see how far we’ve come in terms of technology and entertainment. Even more fascinating is that I can remember playing some of the arcade games that were on display when I was a kid and thought they could never be topped!

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After I stepped out of the museum and grabbed a quick dinner, I started back towards Grand Central Station to catch my train home. Along the way, I ended up at Bryant Park just as the sun was setting and was treated to a spectacular view of the Empire State Building. I ended up staying and just marveling at how beautiful the scenery and the weather was long after the sun had gone down. The flowers may not have started blooming yet, and the trees still look more than bare around the city- but you can definitely tell Spring is in the air.

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With Love to San Diego…

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Whenever I write a post related to my leaving San Diego (and it happens frequently, since I’m here a lot!) the tone always feels- to me- like I’m writing a eulogy for a dearly departed friend or family member or something. I just feel so sad whenever I have to pack up my bag and head back home to Massachusetts- no matter how long the initial trip out here was.

That feeling is especially poignant today since most of Massachusetts and New England is set to be slammed with a pretty serious blizzard shortly after my plane is scheduled to touch down in Boston. Going from Summertime temperatures and being able to run around the beach in a sundress these past couple of days- only to return home to snow, slush, and frigid temperatures- is like a kick to the stomach. Yuck!

Pushing the impending cold out of my mind as best as I could, I spent yesterday- my last full day in SoCal- at Ocean Beach watching gigantic waves crash against the pier, window shopping at different little stores along the main strip near the water’s edge, and snapping photos while trying to get just a hint of sun-kissed color on my skin (it didn’t work. It never works.)

Despite my intensifying sadness at having to leave in just a couple of hours, overall I had an incredible post-birthday weekend. It was nice to see some familiar faces, enjoy the sunshine, surf, and sand- and just relax for a couple of days!

Another thing I always say in my San Diego-related posts is that I have every intention of moving out here but just never actually get around to starting the process. I promised myself that in 2015 I’d at least make an effort to get the ball rolling on re-locating- and once I’m done shoveling myself out of whatever this winter storm throws at me back in Boston- I’m going to start looking at potential condos and houses, both online and through my friends and networks out here.

Until then, it looks like I’ll be seeing everyone back on the East Coast shortly!

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xx

Planes, Cakes and Automobiles

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The view from my hotel room! 1.23.15

Hello from my hotel room in Downtown San Diego! I arrived in SoCal late yesterday afternoon for a long weekend of sun, sand, Mexican food, and some rest and relaxation. My 29th birthday was this past Thursday- and since I’ve spent pretty much every celebration of my getting yet another year older bundled up in frigid New England temperatures- I thought a couple of days in warmer weather would be a nice change and do me some good.

So far I’ve spent a little time working out, breaking into even more of a sweat in the sauna, and indulging in a little pampering- and I’m planning on doing some shopping this morning before I head to the beach and then meet up with some local friends for dinner and drinks later on tonight.

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Last year for my birthday, my mom surprised me with a small party where she went above and beyond to satisfy my love of all things “The Walking Dead.” This year, knowing how excited I am for “Avengers: Age of Ultron” to be released in the Spring- she decided to stick with a Marvel (and specifically Captain America,) themed party at her house for me with some of my family because even though I’m 29 now- on the cusp of 30- I can still love and appreciate cute toys to add to my growing display of nerd-dom.

I especially loved the chocolate “Hail Ashley” cake, a play on the Marvel baddies, HYDRA- which was so good it was practically evil (see what I did there?) The cake was also huge- so at least I know when I get back to my place from California next week I’ll have more than enough pieces waiting for me!

I can’t wait to see what she does when I turn the big 3-0 next year.

The Morgan Library

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This past weekend, I found myself in NYC for a couple of hours. It was pouring out in the city- damp, frigid and pretty miserable- and I ended up ducking into The Morgan Library and Museum on Madison Avenue for a short period of time to dry off, warm up, and browse Pierpont Morgan’s private library and study. I couldn’t resist snapping some photos (without flash, of course,) of the collection- because the rooms were just so gorgeous and awe-inspiring. I wound up slowly walking from shelf to shelf- exhibit to exhibit- staring through the glass at rare books and artifacts that had been accumulated over the years.

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Admission to The Morgan Library was $18 (for adult entry) and I recommend it for anyone who wants a quiet and quaint museum experience for a couple of hours while they’re in New York- with or without a torrential downpour outside.

Afterwards, prior to catching my train, I made a quick-stop a couple blocks down and around the corner at Black Shack Burger to grab a bite to eat- and although the service left a lot to be desired (the guy at the counter obviously wanted to be anywhere but there and seemed kind of irritated while I was doing a speedy browse of the menu-) the food was really, really, REALLY good. I liked the atmosphere of the place, too, which felt like an underground punk rock club with all the gig posters I saw tacked up by where I had sat down. I’d definitely stop by again- and hopefully the employees are in better spirits when I do.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad way to spend a rainy, chilly Sunday- although next time I’ll be sure to bring or buy an umbrella.

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xx

All Hallows’ Eve.

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In the past few years, my best friend Sean and I have traveled to New York City to attend ‘Sleep No More’ and some of it’s linked parties/productions at their McKittrick Hotel no less than a dozen times- each time vastly different and unique than the last. New Years Eve, Springtime celebrations, dinners, masquerades, etc. We’ve done it all and have always enjoyed ourselves immensely. The only party we had yet to check out was their yearly Halloween celebration. Working full-time has made Halloween a tad difficult to celebrate at maximum party potential- especially with it falling during weekdays in recent years- so to be able to take this past Friday off at the office and head into NYC for the ‘INFERNO: A Celebration of Sin’ party was exciting.

The dress code was simple- all black attire or costumes that adhered to one of the seven deadly sins. I’m not 100% sure everyone in attendance followed that dress code by the book, but I, myself, made an effort with a classic little black dress from ModCloth and my Edgar Allan Poe pendant from Fable & Fury.

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Shortly after our arrival at the McKittrick, we were served an incredible dinner that included lamb, fresh salad, raisin wine, some strong punch, and an assortment of rich desserts before we were ushered into the play to collect our masks and explore. Try as we might, Sean and I did end up getting separated- again (it ALWAYS happens-) but we each got to see some new scenes we’d missed during previous visits. When we found each other again later on in one of the bigger rooms, we managed to catch the end of the show together before it was time for the post-performance party to begin.

Now, a party that boasts a “seven deadly sins” theme is bound to have a fair share of surprises- and the staff at McKittirick didn’t fail to deliver. There was plenty of alcohol (I maybe, maaaaaybe drank a little too much champagne as the evening wore on,) nudity, simulated sex, and so on. I’m fortunate enough to be desensitized by most of it at this point- but it was pretty great to see some people who were seemingly in attendance for the first time looking on in shock. At one point in the evening, a card I had been given during dinner by one of the performers gained me entry into a private auction room where I was served more champagne and some grapes by a nude gentleman who was painted gold from head to toe. The item being auctioned off was another patron who had been picked out at random, blindfolded, and presented to us (I’m fairly sure there was a similar scene in the last ‘Purge’ movie?) 

Afterwards, when I had stopped by the ladies room to freshen up my lipstick and fix my hair- a woman dressed as Amy Winehouse was performing on a karaoke machine in the corner by the sinks. You seriously just NEVER know what’s going to happen or who/what you’re going to see.

Sean and I stayed and danced around the different rooms for most of the night, eventually losing steam around 2:30 a.m. when we grabbed what would prove to be regrettable White Castle sliders en route back to our hotel, The Muse on West 46th- which was beautiful, by the way.

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Yesterday proved to be rainy and cold in the city, but Sean and I weren’t content with just staying indoors all day until it came time to catch our train back home. We bundled up, grabbed some coffee, and headed out to walk through Central Park- which wasn’t crowded at all due to the weather. We were able to actually stop and take pictures of certain landmarks without having to duck and dodge other people attempting to get the perfect photograph, too. Sure, we were more than damp and chilly by the end of our hike- but it was worth it. It felt like for the most part, we had the park to ourselves.

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When it came time to grab lunch and warm up, we ended up at the Museum of Natural History. Growing up, Sean and I were big fans of the PlayStation game “Parasite Eve,” which involved fighting off monsters in various locations around New York City. One of those levels included battling the T-Rex in the museum that had been brought back to life by out of control cells (it’s one of those things you should probably Google since I’m absolutely terrible at describing the premise of the game. It’s basically about mutated mitochondria running amok in the city. It sounds insane but it’s actually a really great game- and so was it’s follow-up!)

Anyway, I haven’t been to the museum since I was about 16, so it was pretty fun to go and re-visit all the exhibits. The T-Rex unfortunately didn’t come back to life while we were there, but we took a few shameless selfies in front of it for good measure anyway. Also, while we were in the Central America display, Sean took a photo of me, bundled up in multiple layers and with my backpack in tow, in an attempt to re-create a picture my dad had snapped of me when I was still a kid in the exact same spot. My hair is a lot longer than my teenage bob and I’m not wearing my glasses- but the pose and cheesy grin is the same!

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By the time we left the museum, it had stopped raining, which was a blessing- but it was getting late and we (reluctantly) had to head back to Boston. Despite the post-White Castle nausea and the dropping temperatures, we had a phenomenal time in New York and I’d really like to come back before the holidays makes it impossible to get around the city.

Speaking of. On Halloween, we had passed by Radio City Music Hall en route to our hotel to drop off our stuff and get changed pre-McKittrick party. It was lit up as usual- but then yesterday, on our way back to Grand Central, we happened to walk by it again only to find the Christmas trees on each corner had been set up and illuminated. Not only that- but Starbucks red cups and holiday drinks are back already!

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We are not wasting ANY time this year! I mean, sure, that’s a photo of my hand holding a peppermint mocha latte in the back of a New York City cab the day after Halloween- but I mean, come on. They’re delicious. How could I not order one?

A Day in the Green Mountain State…

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The final weeks of September through mid-October tend to be the most beautiful here in New England, with the leaves changing brilliant colors before they tumble off the branches and onto the ground. It’s a transition that can be easily overlooked in all it’s breathtaking glory when you- say- work in the city, for example. Not content with missing a moment of foliage and having this past Sunday freed up of any specific plans or errands that needed to be taken care of- I hopped in my car, selected the “Scenic Route” options on my GPS- and made a four hour journey along the winding back-roads heading North to Vermont. My destination? A covered bridge tucked away near Rutland that I had hoped to photograph- but I found myself stopping (on more than one occasion) to check out various farmer’s markets, stunning views of the mountains, and lots of abandoned places along the way.

While there’s still plenty of greenery to be found- I did catch a glimpse of bright red and orange leaves showing themselves along mountainsides, in fields, and on farms. The drive was so relaxing that when I lost cell service and couldn’t locate the covered bridge for the life of me (and my GPS was rendered useless when trying to do so-) I didn’t even mind. Instead, I stopped for a late lunch/early dinner at Mr. Darcy’s Bar and Grill in Ludlow, Vermont (I loved their name- and their soup!) as well as a country store on my way home where I picked up some chocolate fudge as a surprise for my mother and some of my personal favorite- maple cotton candy- for myself.

I’m planning another trip to Vermont- more than likely this coming weekend- since there were plenty of places I had wanted to stop this past Sunday but couldn’t because of time limitations. I’m looking forward to pumpkin and apple picking, snapping a few more photos, and of course grabbing some more maple cotton candy.

xx

The Life Aquatic.

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The last time I went to Mystic Aquarium, I don’t think I’d turned 21 yet- and I also think I may have called out of my job at the time just so that I could make the trip to Connecticut with some of my friends (who also may have called out of their jobs, too. None of us were exactly responsible back then.) Before that, spending a day in Mystic was a family Summertime tradition for years- only gradually fading out as my brothers and I got old enough where we could bring ourselves or go with friends whenever we felt like it.

Much like Roger Williams Park Zoo’s efforts, Mystic has the distinction of not only being a great place to view so many species of fish and sea mammals in one convenient location- but the facility is also a leader in oceanic research and in the education of how to care for and protect the marine life within and around the waters. Their conservation efforts over the years have been really admirable- and there are so many ways visitors and locals can get involved to help, too.

This past Sunday, having a lazy afternoon with no concrete plans- my friend Stef and I decided to head down to Mystic for the remainder of the day (coincidentally enough, Stef was with me during the last pilgrimage there before I turned 21, too.) to look at the penguins, sharks, and seals. The place was crawling with temperamental toddlers, so we didn’t stay long- but we had a nice time for the couple of hours we were there- especially in the “Titanic” inspired exhibit within the indoor 4-D theater area. I’m not sure how long that particular exhibit will be on display, but it’s worth checking out if you’re in the area and need to escape screaming children for 15-20 minutes.

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Directly across from Mystic Aquarium is Olde Mistick Village, which was also a yearly stop for my family and I when I was a kid. OMV, which hasn’t changed much over the years- is just a series of pathways, small restaurants, and shops. When Stef and I left the aquarium, we headed over and perused a few different clothing boutiques, natural remedy shops, and even a store that specialized in Wicca/Pagan materials until we started getting hungry and headed towards downtown Mystic to grab some food.

Unlike the area on the Mystic River that I’m most familiar with (Chelsea,) downtown Mystic, CT. is charming and full of activity. While we were stopped in traffic, both Stef and I couldn’t help but comment in disbelief at how cute it all was. I’d like to go back before the Summer is over and take a few more photos of the area before it gets blanketed by snow- and check out the farmer’s market I saw advertised on a banner.

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It took a little searching, and more than one missed turn, but Stef and I eventually found a spot she’d located on her phone and thought we should try for dinner on Sunday night: Captain Daniel Packer Inne, which as you can probably guess- is an old inn turned restaurant/pub. Besides the really cool interior, the place also had some of the best food I’ve ever tasted- including but not limited to the salted caramel gelato I dove into when I was done chowing down on dinner. So, so good.

The entire afternoon/evening was such a nice time- such a wonderful way to end the weekend (and technically begin the week.)