Aiken, SC Part 2: Sunday Polo!

Steeplechases, foxhunting, eventing, trailriding, and polo; all the horse activities make for an equestrian oasis in Aiken, SC. There are so many options for places to ride in the area, and unlike some equestrian paradises in the winter, Aiken has a pretty happening social scene! The Willcox, Malia’s, Tako Sushi, Aiken Brewing Company, Locals….so many great places for dinner and drinks!

Anyways, back to the horses! If you have seen equestrian sports in the olympics on TV, you have probably seen some large, athletic horses! Jumpers, eventing, and dressage has lots of warmbloods, maybe some thoroughbreds. Maybe you have watched some horse racing and seen the incredibly graceful and powerful thoroughbreds, or you have seen the gentle giants, clydesdales, pulling the Budweiser wagon in a parade. Polo ponies are literally a different breed! They are smaller, stocky, but nimble and athletic. The ones that we rode, and many like them, are from Argentina. They are bred from mixes of ranch ponies (quarterhorses), and thoroughbreds. They call a quarterhorse/tb mix an appendix horse.

Polo ponies are trained to accept being up close and personal with other horses. They must have a quick stop, quick turn, and quick acceleration. With that though, they also must be a quiet mount, that at the end of the chukker, will walk quietly back to the line. They are smart, aware of the ball, mallet, and other players. My friend that was down in Aiken for the winter had her horses in a paddock next to seven happy little polo ponies. The amazingly talented exercise rider for these ponies took my friends and I out to play a little polo on Sunday. This man typically will ride one of the ponies, and “pony” (tieing other horses to the one you are riding) the other 6 to exercise all 7 at once…amazing. Here are some pics from the adventure:

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Just before we headed back, ponies were awesome, noone fell off, all is well 🙂
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The ride back to the stables from the polo field. Don’t we look so official carrying our mallets??
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Post polo pony picture (P.P.P.P)
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Always nice to come back greeted by a cute horse face! His name is Guy 🙂

We had an awesome time. My horse’s name was Big Mayo, even though he was pretty small. We had a short little trail ride to the polo field, then did some warming up and practicing hitting the ball with the mallet, and then we played a little game. I have taken a couple polo lessons, but this was the longest amount of time that I had that mallet, and man, my right hand/arm is still sore!!

It was the perfect way to end the weekend, laughing and riding with my best girls. Just a couple more weeks until my wedding! Despite the fun, I was happy to come home to my lovely fiance and pup who were hard at work finishing last minute things up for the big day!! 🙂

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Aiken SC Part 1: The Willcox & Steeplechase!

Aiken SC….its sorta a horsewoman’s paradise. The town was/is referred to as the “winter colony”, a place where the wealthy northerners like the Vanderbilts would come play- especially during that gilded age. Summers in Newport RI, winters in Aiken SC, what could be better? The trifecta of activities was polo in the morning, golf in the afternoon, and foxhunting at night….leisure activities only please.

This past weekend I headed down to Aiken with some friends from the barn I ride at for the 50th running of the spring Aiken Steeplechase (they have one in the fall too)! We got in Friday night for tempura asparagus & key lime martinis (the best) at Tako Sushi and then headed over to the The Willcox for dinner. The Willcox is a hotel with an amazing restaurant. The architecture of the building, decor, as well as the beautiful pool area makes you feel like you have been transported to a time when women carried parisols, and really dressed for dinner. You can almost hear the clip clop of hooves pulling well appointed carriages and their well appointed passengers for dinner. We ate in the lounge area with a piano player. We had wine, chicken liver pate & port wine gelee with toasted bread  (which is amazing), the mystic melville cheese with cranberry preserves and crusty bread, sauteed brussel sprouts, and the pasta of the day which was a delicious pasta primavera with shaved parmesan. I can’t say enough good things about the food. Here are some pics from The Willcox!

From there we went out to Harry’s Local Oyster Bar, called ‘Locals’ by the locals. This place is a really fun sorta dive bar, really laid back, super fun staff. We stayed out way too late, but needed to get our Locals fix because Locals was closed Saturday for the Steeplechase and Sunday!

Saturday, we were off to the Steeplechase. We had such a fun day. We got tickets to be in the guarantor tent which included great parking, an awesome buffet lunch, a live band, a spot right at the second fence to watch, and an open bar! If you have never been to a steeplechase, it is a race ran on grass usually, and there are jumps! The buffet lunch included some southern comfort food like fried chicken and a cheesy hashbrown casserole, a great salad, fresh fruit and cheese, quiche, and grilled asparagus. It rained intermittently throughout the day so we were very thankful to have the tent to run under!

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Our spot to watch was right at the second jump! Wearing my Lilly Pulitzer (old) and Palm Beach Sandals!
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Palm Beach Sandals & Jack Rogers, Lilly Pulitzer and Sail to Sable

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It was such a fun event despite the rain. Everyone was dressed smartly, I have never seen so much seersucker and Lilly in my life. Lots of brightly colored pants and fun bowties for the gentlemen, Lilly prints, bows, and hats for the ladies. We went to Malia’s for dinner that evening and then met other friends out at the Aiken Brewing Company for a drink before heading back to the farm. Malia’s was delicious, but I will say that Willcox was my favorite 🙂

Tune in for part 2 of my Aiken trip about the farm that my friend stayed at this winter AND our awesome polo lesson!

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Mizpah’s 1st Trip to Wingaersheek Beach & Rockport!

This past weekend was so beautiful in Mass. My fiancé was out on his bachelor party with his friends, and I knew that I wanted to take Mizpah to the beach! I was so excited to learn that a couple of my favorite beaches, Good Harbor and Wingaersheek in Gloucester, are off leash every other day in the off-season! Wingaersheek is off leash on odd days, Good Harbor is off leash on even days. I think the season starts May 1? Growing up in Merrimack Valley in Mass meant that the north shore beaches on Cape Ann were the closest beaches. I have many awesome memories of going to Wingaersheek, Good Harbor, and Crane Beach (Ipswich). My mom grew up in Reading MA, so the north shore beaches are her favorite.

Mizpah was literally the happiest dog in the world running in the sand and surf. Wingaersheek has a really fine sand beach, fun rocks to climb and play on, and the water is clear and not very sea-weedy. There were so many dogs there and because it was a dog day, everyone was happy to see dogs. Its nice because if you want to walk the beach without dogs, you just go to the other beach, or wait a day. Keeps everyone happy!

Here are some pics from the beach! My hat is from Harding Lane, monogrammed quarter zip is from Trendy Tulip Designs (Etsy), my boat shoes are Sperry Authentic Originals, and my bracelet which I think you only see in one pic is from KJP but sadly I think the navy/green color for turk’s head bracelets is gone now.

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Swimming pup!

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Annisquam Lighthouse there in the distance!

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The awesome thing was that the sand is so fine and it was such a dry day, I just rubbed her down with a towel and we were ready to go! I really hope I get to go back with her before the season starts. From the beach, we headed to Rockport MA. Rockport is a really cute coastal town, lots of little shops, cute harbor, cute houses, very New England. This is a typical second stop for my family after the beach, another typical stop would be Woodmans in Essex….beach, fried seafood, and ice cream, the stuff summer dreams are made of. Here are some pics from Rockport!

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Mizpah & me in front of Motif #1 on Rockport Harbor

Motif Number 1 on Bradley Wharf is known as the “most often painted building in America”. The building you seen in the pictures is actually a replica; the original built in 1840 was destroyed in the blizzard of 1978. The replica was built that same year. A painter named Lester Hornby is credited with its name because it was such a favorite among artists to portray. In the 1930s, it was owned by John Buckley, who used it as a studio, and then it was sold to Rockport in 1945. It stands as a tribute to all from Rockport who have served in the armed forces and is still a popular subject for painters and photographers.

This weekend is not going to be as nice I don’t think, which might be good because the fiancé and I have a lot to do for the impending nuptials!! It was definitely nice to get a little beach time in though, and its always nice to see Mizpah enjoying the nice weather!

What’s your favorite beach? Is it a lake or an ocean? Tell me all about it!

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Higgins House & Gardens at WPI

Last week I got to go back to my alma mater to chaperone my students at the Worcester Regional Science & Engineering Fair. The fair was in the campus center, so during my lunch, I took a couple minutes to admire Higgins House. Aldus C. Higgins was the owner of the home, and his father Milton Higgins was the founder of Norton Company in Worcester. The house was built in 1921 by Grosvenor Atterbury. The tudor style three story home was donated to WPI in 1971 after the passing of Aldus, and the home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. I have so many great memories of events at Higgins House. I was thinking about it, and honestly I am shocked that none of my friends ended up getting married there. I snapped some photos of the garden side of the house. Its so beautiful, makes you feel like you have stepped through some sort of time warp to an old English countryside home and garden.

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Love the flowers just starting to grow in their beds 🙂
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That little balcony, so cute. I also love the brick pattern and that chimney!
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Those chimneys…

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Joining of the stone and brick sections of the house
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This little door is where you enter the Higgins gardens and lawn from the rest of campus. 

I will be back at WPI in June, so I will head back to snap some pics with the beautiful flowers and vines that grow in the gardens. I didn’t walk around to the other side of the house, but this picture from the WPI website shows the beautiful stone tower on the other side.

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I loved my four years at WPI. My fiancé was my friend, teammate, and co-captain at WPI, and I still have many girlfriends from WPI. A lot of us will be together for my wedding in a few short weeks. I was so proud of my students at the science fair, and getting to walk around my old stomping grounds a little was just icing on the cake!

Where did/do you go to college? Does your campus have a big old beautiful building for events that you just want to move into? 🙂

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PrepCraze: Wellies! Hunters, Joules, & Beyond…

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Above is my little collection of wellies, rainboots, galoshes, whatever you want to call them. I have gone through many pairs of wellies in my life thanks to the abuse I used to put them through working at the barn. The Joules to the left were the last boots to see a stall as I really haven’t worked in a barn in maybe 5 years. Spring is here, and so are spring showers, lets discuss rain boots!

I will be honest, my Hunters in the middle are my favorite. I have the original tour boots for $150, which are durable but lightweight. The shaft of the boot folds over to decrease their size to be “packable”. The rubber uppers of the original tall boots are a bit stiffer. I chose the matte finish instead of the gloss because I was nervous about the maintenance of keeping them glossy. Word of warning, they are very slim in the calf, but they do make the “Huntress” version that has a more roomy calf. If I was going to get another pair, I would love these short navy ones. One of the Hunter advantages is definitely the different colors. Here’s the lovely Princess Diana in green Hunter boots with Prince Charles back in 1981. Love her.

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My Joules boots on the left in the top photo were a Christmas gift from my aunt. Joules wellies come in a variety of colors too and prints!! Mine are from probably 7 years ago, but they have held up well. The only thing that has been damaged is one of the side straps coming off : /

Here are some (current) printed Joules Wellys, all around $75. In general, these are a little more roomy in the calf than the Hunter boots. There are so many different prints depending on which website you look at. Some websites like backcountry.com and different tack shops have older prints still.

 

Navy Horse Welly Print // Olive Bulldog Welly Print // Stripe & Floral Welly Print

For solid colored Joules Wellys, there are some options! The first two are still $75, half of the price for Hunters! Some nice colors kicking around too! The last one is the Evedon from Joules, which I believe was meant to compete with the glossy Hunter. There are some different colors in these too. They are sold at Nordstroms. They are gorgeous with the ribbon, the cut of the cuff, the natural color sole, and gold emblem, but at $165, they are not for me.

Glossy Tall Rain Boots // Matte Tall Rain Boots // Joules Evedon Rain Boots

And finally the black boots in the very top photo all the way to the right! They are from Sperry, and have some fabulous little features. I love the satin quilted cuff with the big peacoat buttons, and these have a wedge heel, making them my dress rain boots! They were more glossy, I need to rub a little olive oil on them. I got them at an outlet years ago and they are still waterproof and comfy.

This is what Sperry has these days for rain boots, not duck boots mind you, rain boots. The fog boots are $70 on sale, the spray boots are $90. I will be honest, these are not for me. The leather straps on the fog boots and the lacing on the spray boots I could do without.

Walker Fog Rain Boot        //          Walker Spray Rain Boot

Now, to finish this post….the masterpiece of rain boots/wellies….definitely expensive, but very popular with the British royalty these days…Le Chameau.

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Check out Country and Stable USA’s collection of Le Chameau  here! They are also sold through Orvis & Zappos. I am not positive which version Kate is wearing here, but she wears them often.  There aren’t many color options with these. I love that she finds something she likes, and rewears it, ya know? Like she doesn’t need to same thing in every color, and doesn’t wear something once and toss it.

There are probably plenty of other awesome retailers to snag a pair of wellies this spring. We are in the midst of some cool rain right now in Massachusetts, so this seemed like a good time for this post!!

Which ones would you pick? Any brands that I forgot??

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Spring Trail Runs!

I am so excited that the weather is getting warm and with the lack of snow, we have kinda skipped mud season! Woo! Now I am not sure how this will affect us moisture wise, like if we will have a bit of a drought without all that snow melt, but I can’t help but be excited to get out and run on the trails!!

Here are some pictures from our runs lately!

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One muddy pup, comin right up!
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This is an adorable little sitting area to pause and enjoy nature 🙂 

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Mizpah and me are so much happier when we can get out and run on the trails together. I need new trail running sneakers though!! Any recommendations from anyone??

Here are a couple I am checking out:

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor Trail Running Shoes

New Balance 1210v3 Leadville Trail Run

Salomon XR Mission Trail Running Shoe

I would love gore tex but the price of trail running shoes is up there! I try to remind myself that these are my feet, ankles, knees….and its worth it. I will certainly be keeping my eyes open for deals!

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Blogger Recognition Award!

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Hello!!! A little while back I was nominated for a blogger recognition award by Jessica from An Historian About Town. It was so cool to be recognized for my little corner of the web, thank you so much!!!

I started my blog this past fall as really just a way to record things going on in my life like different hikes, and also to help motivate me to shop smarter! It’s also been a great outlet for my love for New England and the preppier things in life. Being a teacher and a grad student, it’s nice to have something thats not so serious in my life.

If I had to give some advice, I would say blog when you can and want to, don’t feel obligated to post. This past week was crazy and I didn’t get to post, and thats ok. This week  will be better. Also, be patient with your blog. Blog for you, and followers will come.

Thank you again to An Historian About Town, I love your greek life and style saturday posts, and of course your love for Ireland, dogs, and ballet!

A couple of my favorite blogs that are certainly deserving of a nomination for a blogger recognition award:

Wonderful Life Farm

Witty n Pretty

Garden State Proper

And here we have the rules:

1-Select other blogs you want to give the award to (up to 15).
2-Write a post to show your award.
3-Give a brief story of how your blog started.
4-Give a piece of advice or two to new bloggers.
5-Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
6-Attach the award badge to the post.
7-Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them.

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Southern Presidentials Hike to End February

Oh man is this week kicking my butt! Between work, classes, homework, and wedding stuff, it feels like my free time is nonexistent! Today I finally took my wedding dress to get altered though, so that was a huge check off my list! Woo hoo accomplishment! This past weekend, we hiked Mount Jackson and Mount Pierce in NH. These are the southern most mountains in the Presidential Range and the trails start in the beautiful Crawford Notch area. Fun fact- Mount Jackson is actually named after Charles Jackson, the state geologist back in the 19th century NOT Andrew Jackson, our seventh president.

Jon, Mizpah, two friends, and myself set out on Sunday morning around 9 AM. Immediately we all put on our traction, three of us have crampons, and one of our friends just had microspikes. The trail was solid ice from melting snows. Wearing crampons is pretty serious business. You have to be careful of every step, making sure you don’t slice yourself or one of your hiking companions. Super scary with Mizpah running afoot. The day started a little gray, but over the course of the day, the sun came out and blue skies prevailed! We had pretty good views of the rest of the Presidentials. Mizpah had a great hike with the warmer temps and her claws were perfect in the soft ice. She will probably never hike the northern Presidentials (Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison) because of the rocky terrain, but the southern ones are ok. Her hut, the Mizpah Spring Hut, is on Pierce 🙂 Here are some pics from the hike!!!

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Crawford Notch Depot- station for the Notch Train of the Conway Scenic Railroad which will resume service on June 14th!

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Winter wonderland trails, like our very own Narnia
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View from Jackson- up on the left you can see Bretton Woods Ski Resort and thats the Mount Washington Hotel in the middle. The red roof is really easy to see up on the mountain, not so much in the photo!
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It’s really important to remember to bring food for yourself AND your dog. We bring a bag of Mizpah’s food for her to eat on the trail, and a water bowl!
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Yep, that ice is the trail, crazy!!
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For hiking on ice….here are my La Sportiva Nepal mountaineering boots, Grivel crampons, and EMS Gaiters (similar here) . Winter hiking is pretty awesome if you like to collect gear!
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The rest of the Presidential Range from Mt. Pierce- the ridge to Mt. Eisenhower looks so cool. Mt. Washington’s summit is in the clouds.

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Frozen waterfalls on the Crawford Path down from Pierce
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Picturesque little pup in her Ruffwear jacket and collar
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Had to take a quick snap on the way home of the Mount Washington Hotel and the Presi’s

My fiancé broke his toe the other day soooooo we might not be hiking again until April! Poor guy. I had already done these two mountains, but we were with a friend sort of new to hiking and wanted a short hike with nice views for him. This hike was about 6 1/2 hours. I still have 9 peaks left to finish the New Hampshire 4000 Footers. Goal is to finish by the end of this summer!

Hiking, horseback riding, trail running, swimming, biking…I love anything that gets me outside. What do you like to do to get outside? Do you have any outdoorsy goals for this spring/summer??

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Bridal Shower at Gov. Rolland Spaulding Estate

This past Saturday, my mother and future mother-in-law hosted my bridal shower at the Rolland Spaulding Estate, now a part of the Governors Inn Hotel. There were 27 ladies in attendance, and we had the best afternoon. The estate and inn were built back in 1920. Brothers Huntley and Rolland Spaulding lived in the two buildings and both of them were governors of NH! The Spaulding children actually grew up in Townsend MA, went to Lawrence Academy in Groton and then Philips Exeter Academy in NH when they moved up to NH. Their father, Jonas, and their uncle Waldo started Spaulding Brothers in Townsend, a leatherboard manufacturing mill. They expanded into millwork in Rochester NH making fiberboard and thats where the estate and inn are!

We had a fabulous luncheon, bridal shower bingo, so many amazing gifts, and then read through some wedding advice. Some of the gifts included a Kitchen Aid Mixer (so excited) and a Ninja blender (also so excited). Jon and I are so blessed to have such generous family and friends. For the occasion I wore a cerise cashmere & merino crew neck sweater  for $36 (I think its down to $34 now!) and an older Lilly Pulitzer crab embroidered skirt that I got from Ebay for $36 with navy tights and riding boots. The Lilly skirt is white label….but its not “The Lilly”, so its probably from the early 2000s, not exactly vintage, but its one of my favorites 🙂

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One of my lovely bridesmaids Alex, also in her Lilly 🙂
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I loved the rich green upholstery of this chair with the carpets. It was a great occasion to wear my J Crew Factory bracelets! I love them but usually feel they are too dressy for everyday life.
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Can you believe my future MIL made this cake? Talented lady, and it was delicious too!!!
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Beautiful centerpieces
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Fireplace in the parlor room #fireplacegoals
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Loved all the fox hunting prints in the estate

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View out the windows of the oval dining room where the food was set up. They do weddings out on this lawn in nicer weather….the snow is just about gone!
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Oval dining room where our food was set up
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There are guest rooms in the inn and the estate. Presidential candidates and dignitaries traveling through NH often stay here because of the historical significance of the property and its founders.
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Walking out to the sun porch.
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Sunning out on the sunporch
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With the other half out on the sun porch after he lugged all our gifts out 🙂

Jon and I actually went to a wedding at the Governors Inn Hotel this past summer, and I fell in love with the place. Now I have a whole new set of memories at the property which makes it so special.

I hope that you all had a great weekend! It was so nice today in the 50s here in MA, what do we think? Is it officially spring or do we think winter will have one big storm left??

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