Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Psst...over here!

I'm moving my online home! Click over to My Monotonous Life, and update your RSS feeds because I'm working on catching up. :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A List: Things to Do This Summer

Summer summer summertime! Time to sit back and unwind.

Or time to get cracking on my latest seasonal to do list! You can see how I did on my Spring list here - not too bad! I'm going to carry over the two things I didn't get around to, because I've got a start on both of them and really want to see them through to the end. The rest of this is
  1. Watch a Movie By Moonlight and/or Free Friday Flick while eating a picnic dinner (pizza & wine qualify as a picnic dinner)
  2. Tour The Graves Light on Little Brewster Island
  3. Take an architectural tour of Boston...from the water
  4. Visit the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
  5. Attend a vintage baseball game on George's Island
  6. See Ansel Adams: At the Water's Edge at the Peabody Essex Museum
  7. Rearrange and decorate the bedroom
  8. Look into (and start?) volunteering at the Quincy Animal Shelter

What are you To Do-ing this summer?

Looking for some inspiration for your own seasonal to do list? Check out some of my past lists!
Spring 2012
Winter 2012
Fall 2011
Summer 2011
Spring 2011

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Number 2: Restart my running habit

Squirrel Run 3

I know you guys saw that photo and are wondering why I don't have people knocking down my door with fitness model job offers. I am, too. I mean, who doesn’t see legs that pasty and running form that amazing and feel instantly inspired to jump off the couch and work out? ;) (photo from The Squirrel Run earlier this month, stolen shamelessly from here. If you really want to, you can see photos from the Run to Remember here - including a video of me crossing the finish line while clapping for the first place male half marathon finisher who crossed the finish line at the same time)

Seriously though – the running thing. I’m running two or three days a week again, most often with our running club. I’ve also run two five-mile races in the last month, have another coming up at the end of the month, and am registered for a handful to keep me busy through October. Why yes, I do have an Excel spreadsheet that I use to keep track of races I’m thinking about/registered for! What can I say? I am my father’s daughter.

2012 Race Schedule

I'm as slow as always (I'm basically the caboose on our group runs - always bringing up the rear), but I'm out there and I feel good! Hopefully I can keep it up through the brunt of the summer heat!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Right Field Roof

My creation
Pete was given tickets to Sunday's Red Sox game by one of his coworkers, and we lucked out with perfect weather. The "seats" were actually for standing room up on the right field roof, which is one of the few sections of the park that we haven't been in before. I wasn't sure that I would like standing for an entire game, but I would do it again! It's much more comfortable up on the roof - you're not packed into the small seats and there's a constant breeze and plenty of room to move around. We were there early enough to snag a pretty sweet spot right along the small counter at the front of the space (overlooking the right field roof tables, which would also be awesome but are three times the cost), so we had somewhere to lean on and set our drinks. Maybe the best part of the right field roof is that the bathrooms are restricted so that only folks with the right field roof tickets can use them - there were never more than two women in line the entire game!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Number 1: Celebrate random (/awesome) holidays often


It's National Wine Day today, so I'm celebrating appropriately - with a bottle of Seyval Blanc from one of the wineries that Pete and I visited on our trip to the Farm Coast last weekend, Coastal Vineyards.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Got Wheels? Visit the farm Coast!


I first read about the Farm Coast a while back (I think on Lavender and Limes, but of course now I can’t find the post I remember…here is an article that she wrote about her day trip for Edible Rhody), and I filed it away as something that seemed like it could be nice to do some day. It seemed really far away at the time, but when Pete mentioned last weekend how he had been thinking about the afternoon we spent in Plymouth last December and that he thought we should do it again, I immediately said “oooooorrrrrrr we could go somewhere we haven’t been yet!” and started looking into the Farm Coast. Turns out it’s only about an hour from our house to Tiverton, which seemed like the right place to start our meandering for the day!

2012_05_19_FarmCoast_6I didn’t really expect to fall in love with these little towns when I planned this trip, but I fell hard and I fell fast. We kept driving past properties with “For Sale” signs and I couldn’t help but wonder what these properties were going for. It would be a horrid commute and it’s totally unrealistic, but it was nice to day dream about living in such a beautiful place as I was driving along. I always say “rural is rural” – driving in rural Wisconsin where Pete grew up looks just like driving in rural Pennsylvania where I spent summer vacations as a kid, which looks just like driving in rural Virginia where my parents live now. Rural is rural. But this rural? Rural that is minutes from the ocean? It is not the same rural. There are rivers and harbors that sneak up on you as you go around a bend in the road, and you catch yourself gasping at the sudden change from lush, green landscapes to sparkling, blue seascapes. It is amazing, and it is an entirely different kind of beautiful than I was prepared for. If I had been by myself, I would have pulled over a million times to take photos.

First order of business: re-caffeinate Pete at Coastal Roasters, which appears to be the place to be on a Saturday morning. Next order of business: visit the cheese store. I'm me, so the cheese store was a priority. Milk & Honey Bazaar did not disappoint, I could have spent a thousand dollars on all the tasty cheeses they had (and for the record, 10:00am is not to early to be sampling cheeses). I ended up buying two local cheeses - one from Massachusetts and one from Rhode Island - after being assured that with a freezer pack and an insulated bag they would definitely be okay in the car for the day.

We left the car at Milk & Honey and walked along to the intersection that is Tiverton Four Corners. After browsing through a few stores and a gallery in Tiverton Four Corners, we ended up skipping out on poking through most of the shops and galleries that were on our plan for the rest of the day and we focused on getting our drink on - three wine tastings and one beer tasting.

I could go on for hours about the wineries we saw, but I'll spare you the details and summarize: our first stop was Sakonnet Vineyards in Little Compton, RI. Everything we tasted was pretty great, and both of the women that poured for us were helpful and friendly. We walked out with a bottle of sparkling and a bottle of white, and I've already finished the bottle of white. I can't tell you how sad I was when I poured the last glass!

The next stop was Westport Rivers Winery, in Wesport, MA, which I knew was one my parents liked. They have three different sparkling wines, which I'm sure is why Mom is a fan! The wines were okay, but the tasting as a whole was the worst of the day (which is not to say that it was bad, just that it wasn't as great an experience as these others, which were great) - they were busy and the staff seemed to be a little overwhelmed trying to keep up with the tours and sales and tastings. We didn't love any of the wines enough to wait in a long line, so we moved on to the next stop, which was all about Pete.

2012_05_19_FarmCoast_13Just Beer is owned by the same folks as Westport Rivers, and you may have heard of them by their former name, Buzzards Bay Brewing Company. The brewery was a five minute drive from Westport Rivers, and Pete was happy to try out the beers they had on tap. Meanwhile, I played with the brewery dog, who is pretty adorable. Pete ended up walking out with two cases of their winter stout (it was discounted so they could make room for a new beer).

Our last stop was Coastal Vineyards. Which is amazing...and in the owner's backyard and basement. It is, by no means, the quality of wine you would expect to come out of some guy's basement. It is, by all means, our favorite from this trip. I left with only one bottle of wine, not because I didn't want to buy more but because by then I had already spent most of the money I had set aside for the days adventure. I'll be hunting down these wines locally so I can keep drinking them. If you don't want to do the other two wineries in the area...fine, don't. But do this one. It was so much fun, and the wines were great.

2012_05_19_FarmCoast_23I can't wait to spend more time along the Farm Coast...next time including the beach! If you’re interested in visiting the Farm Coast (and I hope you are!), I found the info on at farmcoast.com to be super helpful. I also found this guide for the area on Design*Sponge, which has a lot of duplicate information with a few additions. And if all you care about is the booze, you need to check out the Coastal Wine Trail.

In case you are too far away to plan your own trip, You can find more pictures from ours over on Flickr!

**I hope this post doesn't sound like an advertisement - it isn't, I swear! I just like to share when I find things I love, and I found a lot of things I loved on the Farm Coast!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Number 7: Ride my bike to Nut Island on a beautiful day


It’s on my life list to visit all of the Boston Harbor Islands (NPS site, more informative site), which is going to be tricky as there are 34 of them and less than half are open to the public. I’m still trying to figure out how to solve that problem, but in the meantime I’m trying to hit up at least one new-to-me BHI each year. Last year I made it to Long Island (not open to the public!), the year before I dragged Pete and a friend out to World’s End, and the year before that was when I first discovered the Harbor Islands with a visit to George’s Island while we had friends visiting from out of town. This year I’m hoping to add more than one island to me visited list, so I started easy with a bike ride to Nut Island.

I told you guys earlier, I’m riding the heck out of my bike! Nut Island is about 6 miles from home, depending on how you go. I was planning on a route that seemed like a compromise between scenic and direct…and brought me past Starbucks, because I hadn’t yet decided if I wanted an iced chai to kick off my ride or not. ;) I mostly followed that route, aside from missing a turn somewhere and then just guessing at turns – at one point leading me down a super fun hill (internal monologue: “weeeeee! This is going to be AWESOME, I’m gonna go SO FAST flying down this hill!”) that led to a dead end (internal monologue: “craaaaaaaaap! This is going to be SUCKY, I’m gonna go SO SLOW back up that hill!”), but that mistake was easily corrected and I was back to roads whose name I recognized soon enough. Then there was another giant hill. At which point I hopped off my bike and walked it, I’m sure significantly faster than I could have pedaled up it! Finally, on the other side of that hill, was that big, brown, National Park Service sign telling me I’d made it!

web_2012_05_12_NutIsland_6Nut Island is one of a handful of harbor islands that is no longer an island. It’s been joined to the mainland for some time now, and is home to a sewage screening facility. You can read more about that here, including a paragraph which I’m going to start quoting whenever people question my refusal to swim at Wollaston Beach: “The old Nut Island primary plant, which had been in service since 1952, has been demolished, ending more than 100 years of waste water discharges to the shallow waters of Quincy Bay.”

Nut Island isn’t huge, but it is beautiful. There are a number of trails for walking, running, or biking. There is a pier for fishing. There are benches with amazing views to the Boston skyline, Quincy’s adorable Hough’s Neck neighborhood, and a number of the other harbor islands. There are also stairs that lead down to a very rocky beach, where you won’t want to swim (see above) but you can easily spend a lot of time skipping rocks and searching for sea glass and shells. Or, if you’re the crusty old man I saw, you can spend a lot of time hiding amid the rocks tanning yourself while chain smoking. Small island, plenty to do! I was kicking myself for not having packed a snack and my Kindle so that I could lie in the sun and read for a bit before heading home. I was also kicking myself for not having packed lunch so I could enjoy a mini-picnic!

web_2012_05_12_NutIsland_8In fact, that’s what I think you should do! You can drive to get there, by the way, you don’t have to ride your bike. ;) Pack yourself a picnic lunch and a good book, and head to Nut Island. Don’t pack dessert, because rumor has it that Ginger Betty’s is pretty amazing and you’re going to pass right by it, so just stop in there to pick up dessert on your way. After you park, walk up the hill a bit to the big, grassy, open area with a great view of Downtown Boston, throw down your blanket, and enjoy your picnic lunch (and dessert). Maybe read a bit, maybe nap a bit, and then once you’re ready for a stroll drop your picnic leftovers at the car and head along the trails until you find the stairs down to the water. Practice skipping rocks, find a few pieces of sea glass and a few teeny tiny sea shells to take home as mementos. Then go home, happy to have found such a beautiful little slice of nature hidden in Quincy, of all places.

**You can see a few more photos I took while I was there over on Flickr