Prep Craze: LLBean Boots & Alternatives!

So today was just meant for me to write this post. I wore my Bean boots for the first time this year today thanks to this rain in MA and Bean boots made the news this morning. That’s right folks, there is already a shortage of Bean boots even before the Christmas rush and here in New England, that makes the news!!

Here are my boots. I have the 10″ Maine Hunting Shoes boots because I liked the all brown leather look AND the sole of the hunting shoe is a little more flexible than the traditional Bean boot.

This pic is from this past winter, oh hey Mizpah!
This pic is from this past winter, oh hey Mizpah!

So feel free to check out the LLBean Boots, there are quite a few options and prices from $89 to over $200 depending on the style you pick. If you can ever get to New England, the outlet store in Freeport ME has a few racks of discounted returned Bean boots. Good deals there!

The popularity of the Bean boot which I remember just calling duck boots growing up, has brought about some awesome alternatives. The Sperry Duck Boots look beautiful, lots of colors and fabric combinations. Prices range from $120-150 for the taller boots, $100 for the slip ons, comparable to the Bean boots. They don’t have the same story of being handmade in Maine of course, but Sperry is a great company too! Lots of retailers are carrying these too from Zappos, J Crew, Country Club Prep to department stores. My next pair of duck boots will be the slip on shoes like these from Sperry:

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Ok, here are some other alternatives you all might not know about!

Steve Madden Tillis Leather-Accented Duck Boot at Lord & Taylor for $79, also available at Zappos & Belk.

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Harlequin Duck Boots from GH Bass for $128, and they do a 20% off coupon for signing up for their emails (I believe these are gone now, here is a link to their selection of duck boots)

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Another great boot that is a slightly different style for $150 is the Sorel 1964 Premium LTR Boot. These look very sturdy and warm, probably more than just a rain boot.

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If you are just looking for rubber duck boots, then think about some of these alternatives for not only their price, but to be unique with different colors/fabrics AND because of availability. If they have to be from LLBean, I get it, but you may have to wait.  They are an amazing company that really guarantees their products. I mean, the first 90 pairs of boots Leon Leonwood Bean sold in 1912 were defective and he refunded all of them, fixed the problem, and carried on. That kind of customer service is what the company is built on.

Maybe at least buy them when they are giving away the $10 gift cards? I think the Bean boots might be coming back out tomorrow with this rain, I hope you all have nicer weather where you are!

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What Starbucks did for National Coffee Day

I found out yesterday that today was National Coffee Day. I have my grad class on Tuesdays, so I was psyched because I usually go to Starbucks before hand for a drink and hang out reviewing stuff before class. I did a quick google search to find out what the deals for today were going to be and was disappointed there was no deal for Starbucks!!! Free dark roast at Dunkins!? I like Dunkins, but there is a Starbucks right next to the library at school!

I of course then had to find out why Startbucks didn’t have some giveaway or deal and what they did instead really warmed my heart. Starbucks kickstarted their One Tree for Every Bag campaign by giving away one million coffee trees!!! These trees are resistant to the coffee rust that has been plaguing coffee trees in Central America. They are donating $0.70, the price of one tree, to Conservation International for each bag of coffee sold too. These trees will be a huge help to coffee farmers who have aging trees or trees infected with the rust.

If you want to learn more, here is the website for the story on the Conservation International website: Conservation International

Here’s the story on the Starbucks blog 1912 Pike

Would have definitely been nice to get a free Starbucks drink today, but this campaign is pretty amazing too!!! Btw, International Coffee Day is October 1, 2015….this year is the first official one, more free coffee??

Happy Tuesday!

c/o Mon

Sunday Funday at Myopia Polo

Yesterday a few girlfriends and I ditched football and spent that afternoon watching some polo! Myopia Polo is the oldest active polo club in America, the grounds are beautiful. They host matches for Harvard, Boston Polo, international matches, and they have quite a few family teams from the area that play in tournaments for Myopia. Yesterday’s matches were between some of the Myopia teams in remembrance of Patti Lahey who passed away from cancer in August. She was an amazing woman in Massachusetts’ North Shore horse community. They had her friends come up and tell stories about Patti during breaks in the match, it was very sweet and touching.

One of the Myopia teams is called Stage Hill Polo and they also do lessons. I am planning on doing a lesson with them in November thanks to an awesome Groupon!  Other places in New England that do lessons for polo are Newport Polo in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, which also does matches and tailgating, and then Patch Wood Farm in Sandown NH does lessons for other riding disciplines too. I did a lesson at Newport Polo and it was awesome, but its just too far a drive. I am so happy I saw the Groupon for Stage Hill. I love finding new things to do with horses 🙂

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It was a lovely fall afternoon. They charge $10/pp for admission, and we grabbed some champagne, OJ, Boursin  & crackers from the grocery store. My friend brought some smoked bluefish caught right off Martha’s Vineyard. Like our table?? Its a cooler with my friend’s horse’s Baker sheet over it ha! Not too shabby!

Hope you all had a lovely weekend and got outside to enjoy some fall weather activities!

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Alumni Crew Race!

I went to Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester MA and was a member of the women’s crew team for all 4 years. We had a fall and a spring season, and it was the best thing I did in college. I started rowing the summer after my junior year of high school during a week long camp. Up until then, I had been playing tennis and competitively Irish Step Dancing annnnnnd my knees had just had it. I have patella femoral syndrome. Its really common in women who sorta grew really fast causing their hip/knee angle to be off. Basically my kneecap tracks diagonally, outside to inside, so there can be swelling & pain. My orthopedic dr did crew and actually suggested I do it in order to strengthen my quads. That summer, I fell in love with rowing at a camp at Northeastern University. Senior year I drove myself to CRI on the Charles 3 days a week after school to row with a program. College crew wasn’t something I randomly found at the activities fair during orientation, it was something that I looked forward to my entire senior year.

My senior year, I was captain of the crew team with my best friend. She was in my sorority, we studied abroad in Thailand our junior year together, and spent soooo many hours together for crew, we practically shared a brain. She passed away in 2008 from a heart problem. She just died in her sleep, very peacefully. My world was rocked, I was devastated. Those first two years out of college, we went to races together, supporting our team as alumni. We raced in the alumni race, hung out after for the cookout and then headed to campus for the rest of the homecoming activities.

After she died though, I couldn’t bring myself to do it anymore. The loss of her was so pronounced at crew activities. When we fundraised enough money to buy a boat and name it after her, I went to the homecoming race as a spectator and went in to the dark boathouse to visit her boat like a grave. This year though, I got dragged into the alumni race. I didn’t even have clothes, but people had spandex and a tshirt for me to borrow. It was so fun. I still cried when my former coach along with my best friend’s family announced the amazing endowment in her name that states there will always be a boat named after her for WPI crew. Grief is a strange thing. It sharpens and fades, like changing the focus of a photo from the foreground to the background. I am going to watch some of my fellow alums race at the Head of the Charles this year. It has taken me a long time, but my feelings of loss and sadness are starting to fall to the background and I am able to love crew again.

Here are some pictures from the race. It was an awesome morning 🙂

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The Ferrari of Ponies

Last night I was so blessed to be able to get a lesson with one of my best friends on her amazing intermediate event horse. I have been riding since January 2007, and I have had a few leases, but have mostly ridden school horses, or horses that belong to the barn for lessons. School horses have taught me sooooo much. They can be frustrating to work with because they will really make you work for everything, but I  think they are very rewarding too.

My friend’s horse is an OTTB, or off-track thoroughbred. He wasn’t meant for the racetrack but he is a brilliant event horse, especially the cross country phase. We did a dressage lesson in the indoor arena, and it was so fun. His level of training is so much higher than the school horses, so I really just got to ride instead of spending the whole time trying to work through issues brought on by too many bouncy little kids 🙂 Riding him is kinda like leaving the 1988 Honda Civic to ride in a ferrari. He’s perfect. Someday when she retires him from competing, I know he will be the best eventing/dressage school master.

She took a few pics, they are blurry but I actually kinda like how the blurriness softens the pictures. IMG_2016 IMG_2017

It was the kind of night when you drive home smiling the whole time, like nothing could bother you after that. That’s the good stuff. Happy Friday!

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Prep Craze: The Quilted Riding Vest

I am really just getting on board with the whole layering with vests for normal activities business. For as long as I can remember, down puffy vests were for xc skiing and quilted water repellent vests were for horseback riding. When I realized people wore these vests around just normally and even indoors I didn’t jump on this trend right away. I did have some fleece vests which are just so comfortable over a nice long sleeve in the cooler months, but anyways, back to the quilted vest…

I always thought that quilted vests were insulated, but not necessarily down, light and usually water repellent. Down vests are super warm but most lost their loft when they get wet. A lot of what you see at stores for people buying these vests just for everyday layering are vests that are just for fashion- they are not water repellent like a nice quilted vest and not super warm like a nice down vest.

So this is the quilted vest that I ride in, especially in the indoor in the winter for only $39.99- Riding Sport Quilted Vest. The tack stores that we buy our stuff from around here, Dover Saddlery & Smartpak have a bunch of different quilted & down vests for really great prices.

As far as what other stores are offering, LLBean has a bunch of vest options. Here is there basic quilted riding vest at $109- Quilted Vest

LLBean also has a waxed cotton down vest that I would really like to check out, a little more pricey at $149, but it looks nice- Upcountry Waxed Cotton Down Vest

Here is the very popular J. Crew take on the vest, it is quilted and insulated with down for $120 although there is a 25% off sale going on- Excursion quilted down vest This vest also comes in a gray flannel and buffalo check.

Eddie Bauer I feel is often overlooked for people shopping around for whatever the latest prep craze is. They have some nice looking quilted vests. This one is $99 and is a tweed sort of pattern Year-round Field Vest (might go on my Christmas list :)and then their other colors Year-round Field Vest in colors. These are actually really nice looking because they are insulated & water repellent.

Finally, this is the one I just recently purchased from J. Crew Factory in navy. It was on sale 35% off with free shipping which made it $63! Not too shabby! Its comfortable, warm but not too toasty and not water repellent- Quilted Puffer Vests There are other colors, some prints like the very popular herringbone, very nice for the price.

I tried the quilted vest from Old Navy  thinking I was really getting a steal, but honestly, the material felt very cheap and it was a very boxy fit on me, so I spent a little more for the J. Crew Factory vest. Here’s the Old Navy one- Quilted Vest. Its $28…its the right look but just didn’t work on me.

My advice would be to look for sales on the J. Crew vests, they are really nice but I wouldn’t pay full price. Dare to be different though! Check out the quilted vests at Dover Saddlery and Eddie Bauer! Be the one girl in your group with a cheaper vest that looks unique, don’t be afraid to stand out AND save some dollars!

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Wednesday woes fixed by a trail run

Today was a rough day. I am a high school teacher in a regional district and I always think, man I have seen everything, and then a student’s story will get me. I have been teaching for 8 years….I have had a student whose father died in 9/11, another whose father committed suicide, alcoholic or junkie parents, alcoholic suicidal students, quite a few homeless students, parents in jail, more depression/anxiety than I ever imagined. So today my coteacher and I find out why a certain student has been out for almost a week. He lives with his grandparents (sooo many kids live with grandparents), and his father was released from jail last year. He’s been hospitalized. This isn’t that strange, we have numerous students hospitalized for depression and manic/violent behavior. His grandparents are at the end of their rope and are thinking about handing him over to the state. Mother is MIA, I am guessing Dad is at some sort of home.

Devastating, it literally caught my breath. An angry 15 year old entering the foster care system. He might not even come back to our school depending on where he is placed. I remember the day he got dismissed early because his dad was being released. He came in the next day and said his dad let the dog out and the dog was gone. The thing that gets me is of course this kid is angry!!! I hate that he takes his rage out on his grandparents, but cmon, this kid is in a tough situation. Ugh, this really stayed with me today.

I came home feeling heavy. Tried to read, I am finishing up The Nanny Diaries, made a green smoothie, and then finally decided to take the pup on a trail run. Instantly, I started to feel lighter. Its tough, being a teacher we become invested in the future of our students, and when situations like this arise, I just feel powerless. Running in the woods, watching my dog gleefully run down the path without a care in the world brings me back to my even, happy self. Free therapy 🙂 I didn’t want to go, my heaviness made me feel lazy, but thankfully, I went.

Today reminded me that I haven’t seen it all, but I am capable of coping with whatever comes my way. We don’t have to be happy all the time, but we should learn along the way what brings you back to happy.

Here’s my pup in the late afternoon sun 🙂

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I hope you all had a lovely Wednesday, and if you didn’t, I hope something steered you back to happy by now 🙂

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Spotted: Foxhunt in the town forest!

This morning my fiancé took our dalmatian, Mizpah, for a trail run at the town forest in Groton, MA. Old Northbridge Hounds were also there for a hunt! I guess all the hounds were ahead of the horses and swarmed Mizpah, she must have felt like the belle of the ball. They were called back to the master and the hunt went down a different path. In the past, my fiancé and Mizpah were actually on the same path as the hunt and little Mizpah walked right next to the horses like she was in the pack before coming back.

I am attaching a few pictures from my fiancé. He said there were probably ~20 horses today. Everyone is wearing their informal hunt attire, formal hunt attire doesn’t start until October. I know of 3 hunt clubs in Massachusetts- Old Northbridge is in Concord, Myopia is up on the north shore in Hamilton, and Norfolk Hunt Club is in Dover. They do hunts usually on Tues/Sat and also hunter paces that some people from my barn go to with their horses. All of them are drag hunting clubs. That means there is no fox, they drag the scent through the woods for the hounds to follow. There is usually some sort of reception afterwards like a tea or luncheon.

A really fun way to learn more about fox hunting is to read Rita Mae Brown’s fox hunting mysteries. I absolutely love them. It took me a little bit to get used to the fact that the animals all have dialogue in her books, but now I like it ha. Here is her website: Rita Mae Brown Books She also writes books about cats…..

Here are links to the Massachusetts Hunt Clubs:

Old Northbridge Hounds

Myopia Hunt

Norfolk Hunt

If I had my own horse, I would definitely want to get involved in a hunt club. They are great social groups and its great exercise for all species involved 🙂 Maybe someday when I have extra money…soooo probably not until retirement!!!

Here is the older picture from last year of Mizpah, the blur between some horses. It must have been later in the fall because they are wearing formal attire!

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Hope everyone had a fabulous Tuesday! I think this week’s Prep Craze is going to be quilted vests because I just got a really nice navy one from J. Crew Factory, 35% off- Free Shipping! Gotta find ways to get those fall essentials without ruining your budget right!? Stay tuned!

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Pre-foliage Mt. Tecumseh Hike

Wow what a weekend! Friday night I did dinner with my two best friends from high school, Saturday was my fiancé’s work party at Kimball’s Ice Cream in Westford MA, and then Sunday we hiked Mt. Tecumseh in the morning before the Patriot’s game!

If you are ever coming to Massachusetts to do something west of Boston in the summer or driving through, Kimball’s is a great stop! They have pony rides, bumper boats, a driving range, mini golf, and batting cages for things to do, and amazing ice cream, burgers & fries, and fried seafood to eat! Its an amazing place, usually crazy packed too!

I am from Massachusetts and my fiancé’s from New Hampshire so we are Patriots fans!! The game was at 1 PM yesterday so we had to hike something quick. Mt. Tecumseh is 4003 feet and the trailhead is right next to Waterville Valley in NH. I am hiking the 48 4000 footers in NH and have completed 30 of them! I have already done Mt. Tecumseh but thats ok, I did it in the winter last time so it was nice to see it green! The leaf peepers are officially out, we saw 2 tour buses on our way up, but the colors have really changed just yet.

Hiking mountains is one of my escapes from everyday life. The trails are so beautiful, I absolutely love it. I am so happy when I am hiking and feel so accomplished when I finish a peak. I can’t believe I only have 18 left before I finish the 48. We did the 5 mile loop for Tecumseh in just under 3.5 hours. It was a perfect way to spend our morning. Mizpah, my dalmatian loved it too 🙂

Hiking in the White Mountains in NH just costs gas money and a few bucks to park at some of the mountains. We pack a little cooler with sandwiches and fruit and chips for after the hike. We even pack a special beer or two sometimes too! Hiking is amazing exercise, and great for clearing your head. It costs very little and brings me so much joy. I hope everyone had a great weekend!

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Prep Craze: Barbour Jackets & Alternatives

Years ago, I was looking for a waterproof jacket for the fall & spring. I have a rain jacket with a hood, its from Marmot and its fluorescent green…great for hiking/running, but I wanted something more muted for every day. I found Barbour! I love the waxed cotton, but I almost had a heart attack when I saw the price! J. Barbour & Sons opened in 1894 in England and made thornproof, water proof jackets, hats, & trousers. Waxed cotton came from the sailing/shipping industry. They waterproofed sails with oils, and used the same technique to make capes for the ship’s captain. Barbour originally marketed itself to fishermen and actually motorcyclists, then farmers & hunters & equestrians, and now to anyone who will pay >$300 for a jacket.

I do own a Barbour jacket. I got it at a closing sale at Fishing the Cape down in Harwich on Cape Cod. Barbour never goes on sale, ever. You can get 10% off if you buy it through Orvis.com or Tuckernuck.com if you sign up for their emails. My Barbour is an Argon, a men’s jacket, that has quilting instead of the tartan lining which makes it a little warmer than the Bedale/Beadnee/Beaufort. Now, if you look hard enough, there are MORE expensive waxed cotton jackets out there from Belstaff & Burberry, but here are some waxed cotton jackets in our beloved sage/navy that are more affordable than Barbour.

Here’s my Barbour, just got it this past summer.

Barbour Argon I got for 65% off :)
Barbour Argon I got for 65% off 🙂

Here is my favorite from Jack Murphy on countryandstable.com for $130! Darina Waxed Jacket This website has a lot of awesome deals from British labels.

Here are a couple from J. Crew: The Downtown Field Jacket for $148 and the Hooded Downtown Field Jacket for $228 that’s a little longer with a hood and a zip out vest.

Here’s one from H&M that has more insulation for $69.99 Waxed Cotton Parka

And now of course, the LLBean take on waxed cotton for $199 Town and Field Waxed Cotton Jacket and they also have a down version for $189 Upcountry Waxed-Cotton Down Jacket

And finally, this company Cotopaxi which is definitely worth checking out because of their generosity has a great waxed canvas jacket, a little longer, maybe a little snowboaderish but clocks in <$300 at $279 Bengal Waxed Canvas Jacket

Here are pics of the jackets mentioned!

I don’t know guys, I just happened to get an amazing sale the weekend I was down the cape with my friend. If a waxed cotton jacket has been on your radar, consider some of these. Barbour clearly doesn’t have the market on waxed cotton cornered 😉 When we see bloggers and instagrammers sporting Barbours, it can be hard to imagine that there will ever be a better jacket…#barbouriseverything right? Don’t forget though, they often get those jackets for free, look for the little c/o at the bottom of their post. If nobody is sending you free Barbour jackets, and you want a waxed cotton jacket this fall, do it while saving those pennies!! We all want to look like we have a family estate in the English countryside right? But what if you saved your money to actually go to the English countryside!!!

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