Dartmouth Outing Club & Mt. Moosilauke

I hope that you all had a good Thanksgiving and a great weekend!! I spent the weekend up in NH with my fiancé and his family. We celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday, and then his birthday on Saturday with an awesome hike to #optoutside on Friday in between.

I only have 7 hikes left to complete the NH 48 4000-footers…..but they are all pretty long. We wanted to be back, showered, and ready to go for dinner & drinks at Poor People’s Pub (good grub, cheap beer) Friday night, so we chose Mt. Moosilauke  for our hike. The trail we picked, the Gorge Brook Trail, had a book time of 5 hours. We did it in 4.5, but we had to add an hour because the gate to the access road was shut and locked so we had to walk another 1.5 miles in and out from the trail head. That happens in the fall/winter.

The Gorge Brook Trail, Al Merrill Loop, Ridge Trail, and Snapper Ski Trail all start near the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge. The lodge and bunkhouses are owned by the Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC) from Dartmouth College in Hanover NH. The DOC is legendary in the White Mountains. Their love for outdoor activities, particularly winter sports has made the White Mountains what it is today, a region dotted with ski resorts, and home to cross country ski trails, snowshoeing trails, and backcountry skiing. Really  many of the first mountaineers in the Whites were from the DOC, some from Harvard too. These were the first mountaineers out west in many cases too. They were men that loved sport, competition, and endurance….and had the privilege and opportunity to travel and play in the mountains.

I have already hiked Mt. Moosilauke from a trail on the other side of the mountain, Glencliff, so this was my first time seeing the lodge. It’s really neat, bunkhouses named after different classes, a swimming hole for the class of 07, and the lodge itself is huge! They offer lodging to the public, students/alumni get a discount, and offer meals too. It’s also home to the trail crew, a group of students that maintain 17 cabins and ~50 miles of trails between the lodge and the campus in Hanover.

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Ivy league bunkhouses folks
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Walking up the main lodge, it’s huge!!
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Tried not to be too much a paparazzi, but I loved this bunkhouse. You can just barely see the screened in porch on the right with matching hunter green adirondack chairs
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The lawn of the lodge- I picture frisbee games, picnics, and stargazing out here

The hike itself was great, trail was not too rocky, lots of rock stairs, some ice towards the summit. The trails are very well marked by orange signs and very well taken care of. There are a couple re-routes which can be annoying, but are also signs of good trail stewardship. For this mountain, they have been moving the trails up and away from the riverside because of erosion and damage from hurricanes in the past.

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Mizpah is very attentive when we stop for a snack
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Selfie with Miz!

 

Dartmouth owns the Gorge Brook watershed, something like 4500 acres on Mt. Moosilauke and the surrounding area. It is named after C. Ross McKenney, an avid woodsman who oversaw the building of the main lodge in 1938. The lodge was saved after many years of disuse in the 50s by Al Merrill, the Director of Outdoor Programs and Ski Coach at the time.

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Memorial for Ross McKenney at the last sure water stop 

The summit of Moosilauke is above treeline. It can be extremely windy up there because its the furthest west of the 4000 footers and catches undeterred wind all the way from Vermont. There is a stone foundation up on the summit, the remains of an old hotel up there in 1860. It was first called the Prospect House, later called the Tip Top House. The Carriage Road Trail was originally used to reach the hotel. It was lovingly run by Dartmouth students from 1920 until it burned down in 1942. The hotel on Mt. Washington was also called the Tip Top House. I just couldn’t get a pic of it on this hike, the wind was gusting to ~50 mph. It was tough to stand up and walk at times.

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Freezing in the wind on the summit, couldn’t take too many pics
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Muddy paws and ears flapping in the wind

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I absolutely love the history in the White Mountains. All the old hotels, mountain huts & shelters from a time when the train was the only way to get up there. To see what it looked like up there in its hey day. Not all of it was good of course, the White Mountain National Forest was almost leveled for lumber and to create farmland. I definitely prefer it with the trees, but the glimpses of the past are much appreciated.

I would like to explore the lodge more when its open. They open in May and close November 1st. Don’t worry, my fiancé is doing the grid for the 48, so he has done Moosilauke in 3 months so far, 9 more to go!

What did you do to #optoutside on Friday? Have I inspired anyone to come to NH and see the Ivy League accommodations at the ravine lodge? Please say yes! 🙂

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Thanksgiving Traditions

Every year since we all turned 21 except last year, two of my best friends from my hometown and myself have gone out the night before Thanksgiving. Last year there was a snow storm the night before Thanksgiving. Yep, turkey trot 5K in the snow, that’s happened a few years. There were a few particularly rowdy Thanksgiving eves where I just couldn’t the next morning, but most years, I do a road race on Thanksgiving morning. Oh and then there was that year that I really shouldn’t have run, but I did anyway, and I tripped and wiped out and like, 10 people came over to help me…..

I am so fortunate that every year of my life, I have had an amazing Thanksgiving dinner, sometimes two depending on family and boyfriends!! Every year that I have been a teacher, we get an email the Monday before Thanksgiving reminding all of us that for our students, the holidays is often sad and very hard on them. They will not all have a warm and fuzzy Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. For some students at our school, the breakfast/lunch program are their only guaranteed meals. We as teachers excitedly ask our students what they are up to for the holidays, and while many return our enthusiasm with plans at their aunts, or grandparents, or even neighbors, a few always pointedly look away, not wanting to meet our expectant gaze. It’s always a good time to remember that even without the turkey, all the food, the decorations, spending time with friends and family is a thank worthy & thankful occasion. If my Thanksgiving meal was mac and cheese with old Pabst Blue Ribbon pounders, as long as my friends and family could come, we would all still laugh and love and enjoy our mac and cheese.

It’s easy at this time of year when the internet and your social media are showering you with the top 10 Thanksgiving apps, NYC chefs top Thanksgiving desserts, decorate for Thanksgiving like a pro, 5 tips for setting your Thanksgiving table, and so on to forget what we are all getting together for.

This year I am thankful for my amazing fiancé Jon, my happy and healthy parents, my sister Brenda, and my four pawed best friend Mizpah. I am also thankful for my great friend group from home, college, work, and the barn and of course all the talented & patient horses in my life. I am thankful to be a woman in America, able to write here and feel safe thanks to our service men and women.

I hope you all have lovely Thanksgivings, and enjoy your traditions whatever they might be. Who’s going to #optoutside on Friday with me and the employees at REI!? Haven’t heard of the #optoutside campaign? Check out my post on it here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

c/o Mon

Presenting in my grad class

There are only two weeks left this semester at Umass Lowell. Then I will have a break where my weeknights are returned back to me before my last semester begins in January. I am certified to teach both biology & biotechnology in the commonwealth, and while I got my Master’s in Education back in 2009, I just can’t stay out of school! I started my Master’s in Science for Biological Sciences back in 2012 and have just been plugging away. I love the courses, I have loved all my professors in many different ways, and I will be sad to see it end in May. I’m getting a non thesis master’s, just coursework. It’s sort of a neutered degree, I know, but I am not getting it to do research! I enjoy taking classes, and saw I could get a degree from it, and figured why not? I’m a huge nerd, I love reading journal articles, I love googling all the words I don’t know, jumping around latin roots and comparing graphs…..judging images of fluorescence and bands in Western blots…..oh no, I’m losing you huh?

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My favorite building at Umass Lowell, the old alumni memorial hall

Anyway, this week was my turn to present in my class. It was a little nerve-racking because this is only grade in the class really. I guess he is going to count our attendance & class participation, but most of the grade is on this presentation. My paper was fabulous. An amazing new gene therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Did you know that the reason why its so hard to just come up with a gene therapy already is because the dysfunctional protein, dystrophin, is one of the largest proteins in the body so it has tons of opportunities for mutations!? Fascinating.

Powerpoint was done three weeks ago. Over the weeks I edited, added, deleted, and nurtured my little powerpoint like it was a finicky plant. I secured one of those little remotes with the USB thing that lets you click through your slides without having to walk over to the computer and has a laser pointer so you don’t have to stand IN the projector light to point at stuff on the screen all the while being covered in your own powerpoint. Then came the outfit. I like the dress nicer than usual for a presentation. Whatever I normally wear, I like to go a step up. Not everyone in my class feels this way. I think its nice to get up in front of your classmates and professor and acknowledge in your appearance that you are honored to present for them.

I wore an old tartan skirt from J. Crew Factory, navy tights, my cognac Seychelles riding boots that I got from Rue La La last year, light blue knockoff Ralph Lauren oxford when I lived in Thailand that I got for 199 baht (5 bucks folks haha), Daniel Wellington watch, KJP bracelet, AND a navy wool cardigan from Polo Ralph Lauren, vintage, that I got for $27.99.

The cardigan is comfortable, so warm, and I am just a little in love with it? Hunting for vintage Ralph Lauren is a fun little hobby of mine- I try to find sweaters from the past for under $40. Etsy & Ebay are the best places online to look, and then of course upscale consignment shops.

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My coteacher took this pic in my lovely classroom 🙂

I love putting together an outfit for something specific that makes me feel confident for that occasion without breaking the bank. Finding this cardigan came from a search for a navy blazer, and I think I lucked out because the cardigan is a little more casual and I will be able to wear it more I think. I like to imagine that the woman who owned this cardigan before me was a fabulous professor with a closet full of wool and tweed who gave away all her winter clothes when she bought a small horse farm on her last sabbatical someplace warm like Brazil, fell in love, and decided to stay.

I have today off which is so nice before Thanksgiving. I have some errands to run and then obviously a trail run this afternoon with the sweetest spotted pup who is currently curled up in the sun next to me. Happy Wednesday! I hope many of you are off and heading to see family and friends or at least you are getting out early today!!!

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Weekend Recap: Polo, trails, & sushi

Friday night, I had an awesome jumping lesson with Dutch, a very forward horse. We rocked around a course of gates and cross rails at the canter which is a huge step up for me. It was so fun. I still have a lot to work on though, more bend at the hip over the jump, better release of the reins on the horse’s mouth, and we have to get better at picking up the right lead to the next jump.

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Saturday morning I went back to Stage Hill Polo for another lesson. We played a little 2 on 2 scrimmage, and it was so fun. My teammate Lydia got a goal, and I got a goal…..and then I sadly got a goal for the other team. I was trying to hit it back away from the goal, but my own backswing hit it in the goal. Steve told me this happens all the time hahaha. This is it for me though, I will maybe go back in the spring/summer to play some more polo. Stage Hill Polo does take part in a winter arena league that  I was invited to play in but I have three afternoons of class this spring so its just not going to work out right now. I am going to be lucky to get a practice ride in on a day that I don’t have class at my own barn. This is Salsa even though I actually got to ride Jet, one of Steve Rudolph’s horses. Most of these horses are heading down to Palm Beach for the winter this week- lucky huh?

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Saturday afternoon I took the pup for a trail run, a nice 4 miler, and it was just beautiful out. Then Saturday evening, the fiancé and I headed out with a couple friends for all you can eat sushi up in Nashua NH. It…was…amazing. I love good sushi and we definitely got our money’s worth. My favorites are the spicy tuna roll, spider maki with the fried soft-shell crab, and any of those specialty rolls with the crab meat on top. I had a nice light Sapporo with my delicious sushi while a couple others shared a scorpion bowl- doesn’t taste like alcohol at all, super dangerous 🙂

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Mizpah out on the trail
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Don’t shoot the dalmatian! #notadeer
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So much sushi….arm party from KJP and Charming Charlie’s 🙂

Sunday was a rainy & cold day here in Massachusetts. We made bacon and eggs for breakfast and then later on made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with walnuts, so good!!!

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I have a very short work week this week- just Monday & Tuesday. I am so looking forward to seeing friends & family for Thanksgiving. What kind of trouble did you all get up to this past weekend? Anyone have any good black Friday sales they are planning to hit up? I will be opting outside Friday with REI hiking with family and the pup, but I might have to take a peak at some online sales 😉

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Prep Craze: Time to talk about watches

Like my punny title for this timely post!? 🙂 Ok, all jokes aside, a nice watch can really add to your outfit, wrist party, and your life. I wear a watch everyday to work because I like being able to tell the time quickly. I feel like its more professional to look at your watch instead of always grabbing your phone. It’s been especially important while my school has been under construction for the past three years. Correct time on the clocks hasn’t been priority at all times.

Watches can get expensive. I remember a few years back being on vacation and a couple honeymooning at the resort told me they were buying matching Breightling watches….I remember smiling in the sunshine saying how nice that was. Then I looked at those same watches out of curiosity at the boutique in the resort and they were selling for thousands of dollars depending on which one you picked! They might have bought watches for the same amount of money they spent on the honeymoon….

Your girl doesn’t have the money for all of that, but I have collected some watches over the years that are nicely priced, and I have my eye on some others.

First up, Daniel Wellington. This brand has a couple different face styles and sizes for women. This is a very common preppy watch. I see them all over instagram and other bloggers. I have very small wrists, so I purchased the 26 mm face. That face has little crystals as the 12 hour marks. My watch is older, the Classy St. Andrews found here on the Bloomingdale’s website. The watch most like it on the current DW page is the Classy St. Mawes. Sometimes there are great deals on these watches through Amazon, I think I got mine for ~$80. Definitely worth checking out.

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Next, Michael Kors. I have the two tone chronograph watch with rhinestones around the face. I got it at the Michael Kors outlet down in Florida when I was visiting my parents, so I got a great deal. I paid $110 for mine. It’s an awesome watch, like a tank, but pretty….a pretty tank.

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My other two watches are from Macy’s and they are both from Tommy Hilfiger. They are old and not on the current site, but here’s a pic of them. I have a black leather band with a gold rectangle face thats very small and feminine, and a bigger white and silver chronograph with a white silicone band that I wear mostly in the summer. I don’t wear the black one as much because I just don’t wear that much black. It’s also reversible to white, but if you reversed to white the keeper is still black? Definitely a design flaw. I just keep it black.

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When it comes to watches, I try to go very classic….a lot of graphics on a watch face seem more trendy to me…something I might not want to wear in 20 years? Kate Spade for example has some lovely classic watches, and then others with sayings on them that might not be relevant to me someday. Oh and Kate Spade watches are expensive, so if you get one, I imagine you would want it to last a while in your rotation.

I have a brown leather band, a black leather band, a metallic two tone, and a white watch….so I am really covered for just about any outfit. I like the navy and white band for the DW watches, but I can live without it and spend less on a navy and white bracelet from say, Kiel James Patrick. Then I am making my outfit/wrist party a little more interesting while saving money.

Here are some watches that I am looking to check out from Timex because they have some classy bands at a very nice price. The Timex Weekender has a very classic look to the face, in both gold and silver tones.

Here’s one with a fabulous tweed band Weekender Tweed for $42

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And another with a plaid band Weekender Plaid for $42 as well.

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And another thats similar to the navy and white DW watch Weekender Varsity Row for $36.

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Now,  the face is big, 38 mm…..so that might be too big for some ladies. Honestly, just poking around the women’s section of the Timex website, there are quite a few nice watches for $60 and under. The Easton Avenue collection has some very nice watches that are $44-52. Might be an option for anyone looking for a nice classy watch for a good price. Here’s my favorite Easton Avenue with a black leather band, and a mother of pearl dial face, so pretty for $44. It has a more mature look to it IMO, but would be nice for work for sure.

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Anyway, outlet shopping is definitely the way to get a Michael Kors watch, and Amazon is a great way to get an affordable Daniel Wellington. I hope mine last for many years to come. Don’t be too good to hit up department stores for good watches. I love my two Tommy watches. There were some awesome Sperry watches in the past too.  Get a few nice basic watches. You can always dress up that wrist with bracelets or cuffs. Watches are a part of our professional dress. If you have the dollars to buy some extra fun watches with graphics or sayings, or you have a more casual work environment, then do it up, but remember, they all tell time, which is their primary function. We like having multiple watches to match our outfits, but when it comes down to it, we only need one.

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Polo lessons with Stage Hill Polo

As I sit here watching Love at the Christmas Table on Lifetime snuggled up with my pup and some hot chocolate, its tough to remember just how cold I was Saturday morning up at Stage Hill Polo! Mizpah (the pup) is actually a bit damp right now because I had to bathe girlfriend after she got into something on the trails today…traildogprobs.

Anyway, I might be in love with polo. I don’t think I have aspirations of playing the crazy upper level polo, but I had so much fun Saturday! We just worked on hitting an arena polo ball at nothing more than a walk. Next time I am hoping for a trot. We’ll see. The groupon deal for these lessons was crazy affordable so I can actually afford to keep riding at my barn too while I take a few more polo lessons.

Not having a horse, finding opportunities like this to spend time with horses is amazing. Stage Hill Polo is run by Peter Poor and they compete at Myopia Polo’s tournaments. His father Joseph Poor and him are both polo legends. I mean, the arena at Myopia is named after Joseph Poor. Peter’s two daughters Amanda & Alyson are also amazing polo players.  I watched Stage Hill Polo play at Myopia recently actually (see the post here!). Dan Keating of Newport Polo learned how to play polo with Stage Hill. Here are some pics from the morning thanks to my amazing fiancé. I rode a horse named Salsa, owned by the Poor family, and her photo hangs at the Polo Museum Hall of Fame. The horses were all in awesome condition, you can tell they are truly loved and taken care of at Stage Hill.

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I think that there is a movement right now to make polo more accessible to the masses….instead of 3 amazing polo players and one rich guy which is what we often see in the higher level polo world, Stage Hill Polo is trying to create a polo community….where many moderately committed horse people pay bits of money to participate in the great sport of polo. Making polo less exclusive is profitable. Maybe one person for ever five that shows up for a lesson actually sticks with it, but the more people into the sport, bringing money into these barns, the better for everyone. More teams, more tournaments, more players….sounds good for Myopia. Now I am not saying that there isn’t some serious high quality polo going on at Myopia, because there is, but developing this community will create a feeder system, of younger athletes. We might not be socialites or royalty, BUT we just want to pay a fee to learn and use your horses. We aren’t at a place in our lives where we want our own barn of polo ponies to take care of, but we will contribute to yours in exchange. Stage Hill Polo doesn’t want to hide polo, or hold it up above our heads. Peter Poor wants to bring people in to the world of polo, not keep people out. Do as much as you can do or want to do.

Steve Rudolph was our instructor for this lovely lesson, and he was great. Everyone at Stage Hill was great, it was an awesome experience. The price thanks to Groupon was just right too 😉

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Some historic homes in Newbury/Newburyport & beer sampling!

This past weekend I played some beginner polo at Stage Hill Polo in Newbury, MA and afterwards did a bit of driving around/wandering admiring all the beautiful historic homes. There are so many gorgeous federal style homes in the area.

One really amazing home that was on my list of places to see was the Spencer-Pierce-Little farm in Newbury. It was built in 1690 which makes it 325 years old. If walls could talk huh? The building is actually a seventeenth century manor house with a farmhouse attached.  A family actually lived in the farmhouse through the 20th century. The manor house is really a remnant of a time when Newburyport was home to very wealthy merchants that profited from the trade coming in and out of the area. Now, it is a national landmark that does tours and educational outreach. They also have goats, donkeys, pigs, and I think I saw some sheep and a horse too. The animals are all from the MSPCA at Nevins Farm which is awesome. You don’t really get to see this style of home very often in Massachusetts, it struck me as something out of the English countryside, something out of one of my favorite Jane Austen novels.

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Spencer-Pierce-Little Farm
The 17th century manor portion
The 17th century manor portion
Farmhouse attached
Farmhouse attached
Front door of the manor portion of the building
Front door of the manor portion of the building

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The other home that I stopped at was the Caleb Cushing house in Newburyport built in 1808. It’s a gorgeous 4 story brick federal style mansion. So pretty, it has 4 chimneys for the multiple hearths/fireplaces we see in federal style homes. The windows are arranged symmetrically and there is a very nice little fanlight above the main entrance. The home once belonged to Caleb Cushing, a US Congressman from MA and the Attorney General under Franklin Pierce. Now the Historical Society of Old Newbury is housed in the beautiful mansion. Sadly, there’s power or phone lines right on the corner of the street that the house is on…..couldn’t they have considered the aesthetic of the future views of the home when they wired the area? 🙂 Anyway, this checks off a couple places on my list. I probably could have spent a couple days wandering around these two towns admiring all the homes.

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From there, my fiance, Jon, and I headed over to Nashua/Amherst NH area to shop for wedding bands and grab some food & drinks at Martha’s Exchange (careful hashtagging this one as it can look like Martha Sex Change). We tried all 8 of the beers that they offer, and they were all really good. My favorite was the Volstead. We swung up to Able Ebenezer’s ale room (no food) after and tried their beers…..I’ll be honest, Martha’s had better beers in my opinion. Martha’s also had awesome food and a candy/sweets counter to visit on your way out, delicious truffles.

Sampler at Martha's Exchange
Sampler at Martha’s Exchange
Sampler at Able Ebenezer's, my favorite was the Auburn, all the way to the left
Sampler at Able Ebenezer’s, my favorite was the Auburn, all the way to the left

My fiance and I are getting married this spring and then we will be house hunting. Part of me wants the old historic home because I admire them so much, but I also know they are a ton of work! More posts to come on Stage Hill Polo & my lovely Sunday at Equine Affaire out in Springfield! Hope you all had a lovely weekend!

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Luckiest Girl Alive by J. Knoll: Glad I kept reading….

This week I finished reading Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll. My feeling about the book now that I am done is positive, but it was a rough start. In the beginning, our main character, TifAni, is downright caustic…even a little vulgar. I found myself wondering if I was reading about a sociopath hiding in society behind a nice job, nice clothes, and a nice fiance. I forced myself to push on.

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Yep, another library book from a library in my area, free books. Love it.

As the book continues and you begin to learn about the secrets in her past that are alluded to throughout the beginning of the book, you start to learn why she is like that. Her personality starts to soften as you learn about the things that Ani went through at her private preppy high school, The Bradley School. By the end of the book, I was totally on Ani’s side and I started rooting for her to make the right decisions as the book comes to a close.

The writing itself was tough in some spots. The book goes back and forth between the past and the present, and sometimes, I had to use context to figure out where we were. The way that the author described sequential events was tough for me too…I guess I like more detail than she provided sort of taking you through an event from beginning to end and her writing was a little more choppy. Her description of an event was almost like snap shots as opposed a movie, not as continuous as I like.

Being a high school teacher & spending my days with adolescents, a lot of this book was familiar to me. The struggle for acceptance that doesn’t actually end after high school (we just don’t care as much) is very visible in my students. Even the way some of my students act like they don’t care about being accepted….they are actually gaining acceptance by others like them. Clothes, sneakers, backpacks, phones, earbuds, jewelry, lunch bags, hair style/color…..these are all badges they wear to present to their peers. They search for others that have the same badges. Sometimes they search for peers that have better badges, badges that they envy and want. High school is tough for many teens, thankfully it only lasts 4 years. From this book though, even though she was an extreme case that went through some traumatic things, our main character was still being plagued by things that happened in high school even in her late twenties.

Now, this is probably the 3rd book that I have read since the summer where the main female character had a dysfunctional relationship with an overbearing status-obsessed mother.

What’s up with that?

Can’t we write a fun, interesting, book with a female character that has a strong bond with her mother? Is that just not interesting? Is that not typical in the “preppy” world where many of the books I like are based? The Nanny Diaries that I read this past summer showed a nice relationship with parents with Nanny….but obviously Mr. & Mrs. X were not model parents. The Secret Life of Violet Grant, Everybody Rise, and now Luckiest Girl Alive all had weird family dynamics with the main characters. Elin Hildebrand’s books which I love in the summer usually have some good mother daughter relationships. I usually read one of her lovely Nantucket based books each summer, so perfect for the beach!

I hope that you all have great weekends ahead. After an awesome riding lesson last night, I am setting off into a horse filled weekend. I am working on my jumping skills and last night took a very forward, borderline impossible to stop, horse over cross rails. So fun. Happy Friday! TGIF!

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Engagement Photo Shoot

Today, I have the day off for Veteran’s Day. My father is a veteran of the Vietnam War, both of my grandfather’s were in WWII…and on my father’s side, we have fought in every conflict on American soil and overseas for America. My father’s family has been here since 1635 though, so thats pretty common in families that have been kicking around America that long. My dad is now the treasurer for his 82nd Airborne Association club down in FL, and my mom is pretty active in the Daughters of the American Revolution too, so they were both busy today. My dad has been in a golf tournament this week that ended today, and my mom served lunch at a Veteran’s Day assembly. I’m sure wherever I end up settling down with a family will be where I join the DAR. I feel very proud of my family’s military heritage.

It’s been raining here in Massachusetts today, so I have been catching up on laundry, reading (working on Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll), food shopping….I know, so glamorous. The peace and quiet of today has given me a chance to look over my fiancé, Jon, and I’s photos from this past weekend. Our photographer for our wedding offers a complementary photo shoot beforehand. I don’t really think of it as an engagement shoot so much because we have been engaged since August, but I guess thats the best thing to call it!

I was thinking about wearing this adorable gray J. Crew factory fair isle sweater, but when I put it on over my white button down, it just looked boxy!! I made a game time decision to wear my navy Woolover cashmere/cotton blend sweater instead. I wore a very simple outfit, but it was very “me” I think. Jon wore one of his many plaid flannel shirts; pretty much his uniform in the colder months, he’s too cute. The location was dog friendly, which was awesome because it meant Mizpah, our dalmatian, got to be a part of the photos. It was a cold and windy day, but I think our photographer did a great job getting some nice shots!

View More: http://studiolphotographers.pass.us/monica-and-john View More: http://studiolphotographers.pass.us/monica-and-john View More: http://studiolphotographers.pass.us/monica-and-john View More: http://studiolphotographers.pass.us/monica-and-john View More: http://studiolphotographers.pass.us/monica-and-john View More: http://studiolphotographers.pass.us/monica-and-john

These photos brightened my day. I love the one of us in our crew jackets from behind. Jon and I began as friends & teammates at WPI so many years ago. I could have never predicted that we would be here, so happy and getting married in the spring. Life is funny.

Hope you all had a peaceful Veteran’s Day and had a moment to just appreciate the sacrifices service men, women, animals, and their families have made to keep Americans safe.

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Next CEO of LLBean announced last week

As readers of my blog know, I love LLBean. I love their products, prices, quality, customer service, and I love Freeport ME. That being said, I will be watching closely to see what kind of changes will occur. The current CEO, Chris McCormick, took over in 2001, and has worked for LLBean since 1983. Mr. McCormick was the first leader of LLBean that wasn’t a member of the family, but he has a long history at the company, including serving the role of chief operating officer before he became CEO.

The man that has been chosen to replace McCormick is Stephen Smith, currently Walmart’s chief marketing and merchandising officer in China. Smith will start in January and McCormick will step down in February, so they will have a one month overlap. Smith did live in Portland ME with his family for 6 years, so its not like he is a total alien to the area. He is also involved in hiking in the White Mountains, cycling, kayaking, swimming, skiing/snowboarding at Sunday River & Sugarloaf, and says he wants to hike Katahdin. Despite all of that, he is the first CEO that is not a member of the family and didn’t come from working at LLBean.

I know that Smith has fantastic experience from working for Hannaford’s and Walmart, but when I heard that part of the reason why they hired him was to deal with the boot backlog AND that he has ties to retail in China, I couldn’t help but to have the worry that manufacturing Bean boots will end up being outsourced to China. I know, that is crazy talk. It won’t happen. He isn’t even involved in manufacturing, he’s a marketing guy. LLBean employs so many people in Maine, and Bean boots have always been handcrafted in Maine, and that’s the way it will always be, right? Right!? Look at these boots, made by human hands right in Maine. Love them.

BRUNSWICK, ME - JULY 31: L.L. Bean Boots after their rubber soles were topstitched to the leather in Brunswick, ME on Friday, July 31, 2015. (Photo by Whitney Hayward/Staff Photographer)
 Photo by Whitney Hayward/Staff Photographer of Portland Press Herald

Leon Gorman, before he recently passed away, gave his stamp of approval to Smith, saying that Smith was the real deal. I am all about LLBean becoming more and more successful, as long as quality stays the same or increases, prices stay lower than competitors, and customer service stays the same. Here’s the story from the Portland Press Herald.

I love this company & honestly see working at LLBean as a total retirement for fun job. I just sent off my LLBean wish list to family members that asked for Christmas gift ideas, can’t help but wonder how this changing of the guard will affect my beloved brand….I am going to choose to hope for the best though. Stephen Smith, I’m here if you ever need advice!

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