Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Massive Massachusetts Recap!

I thought a run-down of my recent time in Massachusetts would be good for me - to both relive the memories as well as share some pictures with you all!

After the planes, trains and automobiles I had to take to get to the east coast, I finally arrived at my sister Mallory's house in Pittsfield on Saturday June 7, where I immediately found my niece and nephew playing in their driveway while their dad (my brother-in-law) Doug tinkered away on a new "toy" in the garage. Doug is constantly finding/buying/fixing up toys like 4-wheelers, John Deere Gators (more on that later), and - his newest project - a Pennsylvania Panzer. The kids love it... and so does Doug.

We spent that afternoon playing outside - it was a gorgeous day with sunshine and hot temperatures. That evening after the kids were asleep, Mallory invited some of her friends over and we played some cards and drinking games out on their deck. And by "played drinking games" I mean that I nursed a single Twisted Tea drink for about 3 hours while playing Asshole (that's how I roll).

One exciting surprise that was waiting for me in Pittsfield was my good friend Sarah (who you may remember came to visit me in Vancouver earlier this year!). Sarah currently lives in Missoula, MT where she attends school for physical therapy, so imagine my surprise and delight when we realized that we were both in western Mass at the same time! She promptly invited me over to her mother's house for a potluck dinner with some other excellent ladies. It was a delicious and fun evening with good food and wine - and especially nice because of how unexpected it was.

The first Thursday of my visit was a special day because my nephew Cohen was graduating from his pre-Kindergarden program. Living on opposite coasts means I typically miss out on things like this, but it was timed perfectly with my visit :)  The group of 4- and 5-year-olds sang us a few songs before receiving their end-of-the-year binder full of all of their pictures and projects from the year. Cohen is getting so bigggg!

My nephew's pre-kindergarden graduation

My nephew's pre-kindergarden graduation

Showing off his end-of-the-year notebook:

Cohen showing off his end of the year graduation notebook

Tierney found the toys in the classroom and got right to work playing with them all in the corner:

The next day (Friday June 13) I headed across the state from Pittsfield to Boston in a brand new Chevy Cruze rental car.
Drive from Pittsfield to Boston, Massachusetts

My friend Kim would be getting married the following day in Lincoln, MA (at the beautiful Codman Estate), so my plan was to turn the whole weekend into an Eastern-Mass friend-fest. That Friday night, I caught up with my faaaabulous friend Kara at her Cambridge apartment before we headed out for a night of bowling with our friends J-rod, Derek and Adam. I was way, WAY worse at bowling than is reasonably excusable (I bowled a 48 my first game and a 69 my second game), but it was sooooo muchhhhh funnnn. Why on earth don't I go bowling more often?? I could OBVIOUSLY use the practice.

The next day I made my way to my friend Steph's new condo in Canton, MA to get ready for the wedding that evening. Getting dolled up with friends is way more fun than getting dolled up alone. I wore a colorful tie-dye/floral inspired dress...

Floral tie-dye colorful dress, multi-colored
.  definitely a picture from last year  .
.  look how sassy my bent leg is  .
... with the pair of white wedges that I showed you guys in this blog. Accessorizing such a colorful dress was a blast. With pink, purple, mint, green, yellow, violet, and navy all represented in the dress itself, color options for accessories were pretty much endless. I went with a purple and aqua-inspired theme, with a navy/rhinestone bracelet (a recent Salvation Army find), mint-rhinestone silver Forever21 earrings, and a slim mint-turquoise stretchy Forever21 bangle that I've had for years.

Aqua accessories for the wedding

I also wore a dainty little ampersand ring from Forever21.

Bracelets, ampersand ring, rhinestone earrings

I found that beautifully violet-hued, dazzling blue clutch at American Apparel back in May. I own a wallet in the same color, but I needed a clutch to fit a camera/phone/etc for the wedding. It took me an afternoon of scouring every store along 4th Avenue before deciding upon this one.  My nail polishes were Luminous Tulips by Sally Hansen (on my fingernails) and Endless Blue by Sinful Colors (on my toes).  Endless Blue is a gorgeous bright blue that looks amazing against white sandals, by the way. I borrowed that polish from Mallory, but Sally Hansen's Pacific Blue (shown above) is a close dupe. For perfume, I only packed one option for my trip - Bright Crystal by Versace (not an affiliate link). It's a versatile enough scent for day/night/wedding/beach/winter/summer, so it was a good choice for travel. (Travel Tip Sidebar: I save all of the boxes for my perfume bottles, to make it easier to travel with them. If you don't have a travel-sized version of your favorite perfume, you can just throw the large bottle back into the secure box that it came in, wrap that box up in a t-shirt, and then pack it away into your suitcase.)

To finish off the wedding guest look, I straightened my hair and put it into a side fishtail braid. Would you believe I never got a detailed picture of my full outfit/makeup/hair/accessories? Because I didn't. But here's a close-enough look:

.  this is not my picture - i stole it from the beautiful babe in the center of this pic  .

The Codman Estate was an absolutely stunning wedding venue. It's a historical site with a dreeeeamy Italian "secret" garden and a great barn for dancing.
Secret garden at Codman Estate, Lincoln, MA
.  the garden, site of the ceremony  .
.  beautiful bride kimbo and her handsome dad!  .

.  kim and sam mid-ceremony  .
And here are the newlyweds arriving at their wedding reception!

.  whoohoo!!!  sew happy  .

Kim was a radiant bride, Sam was quite the dashing groom, and the bridesmaids all looked like Grecian goddesses. The weather was a bit iffy at first - but just when it seemed inevitable that it would rain upon the wedding ceremony, the sun began to come out. By the time we walked across the estate property to the reception tent area, it was a beautiful and warm sunny day! There were yard games, delicious appetizers, good wine, good music, and a BBQ-style buffet that was a huge hit. We had a blast dancing up a storm and playing with the party props that were brought out onto the dance floor at some point during the night. Each guest even got to take home two insanely delicious, homemade chocolate chip cookies as favors (a personal touch, care of Miss Kimberly herself). An after party at the hotel with a million Dominos pizzas was exactly the right way to end the night. The next morning I drove back west to Pittsfield and dropped off my rental car.

Back in Pittsfield, I enjoyed a night out for a spectacular dinner with my grandmother (aka Gram) at Mazzeo's Ristorante in Pittsfield, where we each had a feast of pan-seared scallops with sautéed spinach & oven roasted tomatoes (finished with a lemon wine butter), mashed potatoes, salads, and bread. Gram even kicked it with a glass of white wine, that feisty gal! It's always great to chat with my Gram - she's a real wealth of knowledge, and I adore picking her ear about "the old days." She just turned 94 (!) this week, and though her sight has failed her at this point, her mind is still perfectly sharp, and she continues to enjoy life. This summer she actually made the decision to put her house on the market and move from her home into an assisted living community. It will be good for her to finally rid herself of the burden of maintaining a home. That can be a real bitch, with all the yard work and lawn care and dusting and painting and snow removal. Not to mention the laundry and cooking that also needs to be dealt with. It was probably a tough decision for her to make, but ultimately I think she'll feel extremely relieved to no longer have to deal with the house.

That night after dinner at Mazzeo's, she and I talked at length about family history and she even showed me a detailed family tree document that her own second cousin had been working on. It was incredibly interesting for me to pour over the tree and learn more about the family members who preceded my grandmother (and me!) in her lineage. Sometimes I feel ashamed and disappointed in myself for not caring about these kinds of things when I was younger and had more time to ask my Gram questions about her and her family. I wish I knew more about her siblings and parents and late husband (my mom's father). I try to really absorb everything she says when we're together. If your grandparents are still around, you would do very well to ask them as many questions about their lives as you can while you still have the chance.

And now I realize I just wrote an awful lot about my Gram. Can you tell I love her? :)

Before leaving Pittsfield for good, I made a trip out to Windsor, MA with Mallory, Doug, Cohen, and Tierney to pick up a new John Deere Gator for Doug's arsenal of toys. The man who owned the Gator had amassed a solid collection of Man Toys himself - his barn garage was FULL of tractors, John Deeres, ATVs and skidders. All of which Cohen could identify, by the way. At 5 years old, he is already a boy genius when it comes to trucks, tractors, Gators, and whatever else Doug brings home.

Once home with the new Gator, the kids got to work putting it to some (parked) use in the garage:

.  note the seatbelts. safety first  .

On Thursday, June 19, in preparation for an epic bachelorette weekend for my good friend Abigail, I said goodbye to my family...

.  me and tierney girl, the little angel  .
... and rented a car in Pittsfield to drive it out to Boston. The rental "car" ended up being the biggest Dodge Ram truck that anyone has ever seen, but it was all they had for me at the Enterprise. Knowing that The Largest Pickup Truck of All Time wasn't an ideal vehicle for me to take across the state and into Boston, the good folks at the Pittsfield Enterprise comped me a half a tank of gas for the inconvenience. However, they weren't anticipating the struggle of trying to park a gargantuan truck in the Enterprise Parking Garage at the other end of my trip, so that created a bit of an obstacle once I actually arrived in Boston. Height limits for parking garages aren't something you typically have to think about when casually renting a car, but now I know better.

From Boston, it was off to Kennebunk, Maine for the rest of the weekend to celebrate Abigail's bachelorette! We had a great crew of ladies with us for our stay in a freaking mini-mansion right on the water. I'd never been to Kennebunk before, but it's a cute little New England beach/port town about 1.5 hours north of Boston.

The house was incredible, with an amazing kitchen/stove, a grill, full walls of gorgeous windows with beautiful views, a deck on every level of the house, a million bedrooms, several luxurious bathrooms, a grand piano, a subzero freezer, and really interesting artwork throughout. It also had a grassy backyard that ended up being perfect place for us all to lounge in the sunshine.

The house was even within walking distance of all the parts of town we wanted to check out. The town itself was full of cute fish restaurants and markets, beachy souvenirs and nautical-inspired home decor and fashion.

On that Friday night, we all put together a fabulous spread of food in a potluck-gone-right:

Table full of food for our potluck!

While we were making food, we realized there was a massive fire of some sort burning outside in the not-so-distant distance, so we ran up to the third floor deck to see what was going on...

Fire in Kennebunkport, Maine. June 2014

It did end up being a house fire - some sort of multi-family residence was badly burned, we found out the next day. Thankfully no one was hurt, but the amount of smoke the fire produced was really remarkable...

Fire in Kennebunkport, Maine. June 2014

On Saturday (June 21), we decided to forego the beach and instead opted to spend the day at our McMansion, where we could enjoy the sun as well as all the conveniences of our luxury vacation home. It was an excellent decision. We were able to relax in the backyard in our bathing suits, bask in each other's company, do plenty of chatting and mimosa-drinking...

Making mimosas

 And toasting to our bride!
Toasting with mimosas
.  abigail is the babe in the stripes!  .

Toasting with mimosas
.  cheers!  .

After a perfect day in the sun, we watched the sunset from the third floor deck... a much nicer sight to see than a blazing house fire:

Sunset from Kennebunk, Maine

Pink clouds at sunset

Pink clouds at sunset

That night we all had fun pre-gaming at the house by playing drinking games while getting ready to go out to Federal Jack's, one of the best bars for 20- and 30-somethings in the Kennebunkport area. Federal Jack's was also the go-to spot for a random wedding's after-party as well as another bachelorette party that night, so there were a lot of people celebrating in the bar that evening. We met some interesting characters, and made our presence known - as gaggles of bacheloretting ladies tend to do. The night ultimately ended at the house around 3 AM when just a handful of us were still up and putting in a fabulous dancing and singing performance in the kitchen, much - I'm sure - to the delight of our housemates. Don't worry though - Abby was among that late-night handful of revelers. :)

The next morning, we needed to be out of the rental house by 10 AM, so then it was back down south to Massachusetts. My friend Jenna (whose wedding, you may remember, I was in last summer) had generously volunteered to feed and house me for the remainder of the night, as I'd be flying out of Boston the following day to head back to Vancouver. The two of us spent the rest of that Sunday afternoon sprawled shamelessly across the couches in her living room, trying to regain a bit of strength and energy (and dignity) after a fabulously draining weekend. Then, as if she got her second, third, and fourth winds all at once, Jenna set about preparing a feast for us for that night - chicken, pork chop, garden-fresh salad, wine, roasted vegetables, salmon... Ermergerd. She's such an incredible cook, guys. You are a lucky person if you are ever invited to be a guest at her table! Though you might not want to bring your man with you, because she will inevitably make you look like a chump cook in comparison. We were joined that night by Jenna's hubby Dan, as well as Kara and her boyfriend Kyle. (Sorry Kara, but I guess that means Kyle's probably been judging you.)

It was a satisfying conclusion to a long and jam-packed trip. By the time I got onto my plane at Logan Airport the next afternoon, my Dramamine-induced drowsiness was exactly what I needed to settle me in for my long journey home!

Thanks for reading my re-cap. I'm aware it was the length of Moby Dick.

Who else is doing some traveling this summer? I'm thinking of taking another trip very soon - just a weekend jaunt to somewhere warm, like San Diego, Hawaii or Las Vegas. Where should I go?? What should I do??

1 comment:

  1. 1. How cute are your niece and nephew?!
    2. Your hair in that fishtail braid - perfection
    3. That. Sky. Omg!

    Sounds like an amazing trip!
    Isn’t That Charming.


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