Fall Wardrobe Picks!

Good morning!!! Happy first day of fall!!!

I am sitting here 39 weeks pregnant, home from work with gestational high blood pressure (not preeclampsia thankfully) trying to stay busy! I will be on maternity leave and really trying to save money this fall/winter so I am committed to NOT shopping for a while, but I couldn’t help sharing my faves for new fall staples!

The two websites I always gravitate to are J Crew Factory and LLBean, so here are my picks!

J. Crew Factory

Cotton V-Neck Sweater in Light Mustard- $29.50 Its time for the sweaters to come back out!!! I love the v-neck because it looks great by itself, and then later in winter you can layer the button downs and flannels underneath. The light mustard color is great for fall.

Tweed Mini Skirt- $51.00 Every year J Crew Factory has a cute plaid mini or tweed mini that becomes such a classic, and I am really loving this one!

Cuffed Striped Boatneck Shirt- $29.50 So this shirt might not scream fall so much, but I love a long sleeve navy and white stripe shirt as it gets cooler and while I am not sure how nice the cuff looks in real life, I would be open to checking it out!

LLBean

Mountain Pile Fleece Jacket- $79.99-89 I am really loving this fleece zipup with the Katahdin LLBean logo tag. This is the sandstone color which is one of the ones that is on sale for the cheaper price point.

Tumbled-Leather LLBean Boots- Flannel Lined- $149 These Bean boots are a part of the small batch boot collection. They are being released in October but you can order them now and the website says they are backordered at the moment. I want these….real bad, but I know I should resist- we’ll see haha.

Scotch Plaid Shirt Slightly Fitted- $49.95 I can’t recommend the LLBean Scotch plaid flannel shirts enough. I want them in every color and want to live in them all fall and winter. The color I featured is ‘Princess Mary’ which I really like. These sell out pretty fast usually, so get em now while all the colors are still in stock!

Signature Cotton Fisherman Tunic Sweater- $99.00 I have a couple of the regular sweaters which I love, but I really like this longer tunic sweater too! I would definitely get the black cherry color because I think its such a nice fall color.

Signature Merino Textured Fair Isle Crewneck- $99.00 This is the one thing that I actually DID buy! I love bird sweaters, and am obsessed with loons. I have been looking for a loon sweater for a few years now. This is a reproduction of a sweater LLBean made back in the 80s I believe. I can’t wait to be able to wear this one 🙂

What are your fall favorites this year? I will admit, every year I look forward to all the fall bucket list/fall wardrobe staples blog posts. I love this season; its so fun that my little boy will be a fall baby! Enjoy the first weekend of fall!

Signature 2

Advertisements

Stroll around Phillips Exeter Academy

So the April Fool’s Day snowstorm was crazy….we had about 10″ of snow from Friday afternoon to Saturday evening. It was heavy, wet snow, the kind that makes all the branches droop. Sunday was a really nice day though and the snow is already on its way out! I wanted to get out of the house and go to Laney & Lu’s for a treat, so I took Mizpah along for a walk around Exeter NH’s historic district after.

There were so many others out and about walking so it was the perfect walk for Mizpah to do some socializing. Mizpah is a dalmatian and they have a reputation for not always being the most social breed. She’s a dog who needs exercise daily, but more than that, she needs mental stimulation too daily. Having to walk on a sidewalk to my left and manage all the new smells and say hello (or not say hello) to other dogs on leashes, children, and adults is a lot of stimulation.

FullSizeRender-4
The Squamscott River looking good with all the snowmelt! This river eventually empties into the Atlantic by Portsmouth NH
IMG_9536
The Jeremiah Smith House, built in 1730. There are quite a few historic homes in Exeter but I sorta fell for this one because its green! You don’t see a lot of historic homes in green! Jeremiah Smith was a governor of NH BUT I didn’t think he was born until the 1750s, so not sure how this house is connected.
IMG_9531
Here is the Jeremiah Smith Hall, the main administration building at Phillips Exeter Academy
IMG_9532
The Academy Building at Phillips, home of the assembly hall….totally in love with the tall ship weathervane
IMG_9524
Phillips Church, built in 1895 as a congregational church in Exeter and later sold to Phillips to be their school chapel
IMG_9538
Here is the tower of the chapel, the stonework is beautiful and reminds me of a similar chapel at Groton School in Groton MA.

So these images are of the Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, NH, not to be confused with Phillips Academy in Andover, MA. Phillips Academy in Andover was founded by Samuel Phillips, Jr in 1778 and Phillips Exeter Academy was founded by his uncle, John Phillips, three years later. As you can imagine, there is quite a rivalry between the two schools. Phillips Academy is the one that the Bush’s went to as well as JFK Jr. Phillips Exeter is where Franklin Pierce, Ulysses S. Grant, and Abraham Lincoln’s son Robert went. Also if you ever read A Separate Peace by John Knowles, he is a Phillips Exeter alum soooo Devon School is really based on his alma mater.

The classic New England boarding schools with the brick buildings, crisp white accents, stone chapels, and grassy courtyards are beautiful. I wonder sometimes if I could live the teacher life at a boarding school. Maybe when I have retired from public school teaching and have gotten my PhD in biology (which I totally want to do, I will be the old lady shuffling around the lab with the 25 year old post docs saying things like “Back in my day..”), I will teach at a private school to supplement my summer travel account!!

Signature 2

Hampton Beach with Mizpah

Yesterday was quite the day for my pup Mizpah. We did off leash fun at a park with awesome trails near us and then made the short trip to Hampton Beach. Massachusetts and Maine both have beaches with more lenient rules for dogs in the offseason. Maine beaches and some of the beaches on the cape actually allow dogs during the summer before a certain time and after a certain time…usually before 9 and after 5. I moved to New Hampshire, the land of live free or die, and our short coast line here is made up of state parks and there is a hard and fast rule that there are no dogs allowed. Even the short sections of beach that are considered “town beach” can’t be accessed without going through state beaches.

We went expecting to just walk along the boardwalk- not as good as walking on the beach, but still nice views. When we got there though, sure enough there were lots of people walking their dogs on the beach! They were all on leash. It seems like the rule is in effect, but just not enforced because the rangers aren’t around patrolling.

img_9177
Pretty unbelievable that all the snow melted in much of the trails! My outfit was perfect for the weather. The needlepoint hat from Smathers & Branson, my Barbour Argon jacket (sold out but similar here) , LLBean scarf (sold out), and my LLBean boots held up nicely on this cool day. 
img_9153
One end of Hampton Beach, past here its mostly rocks up against the wall
img_9178
Mizpah loves the feeling of sand between her paws
img_9180
Running around the beach with Mizpah
img_9163
Down at the other end of the beach, a very brave surfer heading into the water

It was strange to be at Hampton with all the stores and restaurants boarded up, but it was also so nice and quiet! Hampton Beach is…..lively in the summer. The first time I went to Hampton was in 6th grade with two friends and I was totally overwhelmed in a good way I guess. The beach, arcade, and all the food. I had only ever been to Wingaersheek, Crane, and Good Harbor on the North Shore in MA where we brought our food in a cooler and just ran around the beach. The best deal on the boardwalk was at Sal’s Pizza- $5 for a huge slice of pizza and a can of soda. There’s the Candy Corner, the numerous trashy tshirt companies, and leaving the beach, we always had to stop for ice cream at Hodgie’s Too. Hampton is certainly not the most classy or picturesque beach, but it is definitely fun. Ok, time to stop procrastinating and pack for Florida!

Signature 2

Reflecting on horses in 2016

I started riding horses back in January 2007, so it has been 9 years this year. Crazy. I graduated college in 2006 and thought about staying in crew. I almost joined Riverside Boat Club in Cambridge but got scared off by the cost and time. I was working in Cambridge and my cubicle neighbor owned a couple horses. I started riding at Harmony Horse Stables in Littleton MA. I still remember my first lesson on a chestnut thoroughbred named Penny Lane. There have been quite a few horses since, Flora & Squirt, Jolie & Ivy, Gemma, Acoya, Sterling, Sofie, Derby…..etc etc 🙂

When I was reflecting on my year, I couldn’t help thinking about horses. I moved this year up to NH and had to leave my barn, Orchard Hill Equestrian Center, where I had been riding since 2010. I started riding at OHEC for a mare named Cheval, Chevie for short. She was a huge white percheron/TB cross that I leased for about a year. She was sold and then I basically have just been riding school horses ever since. This past May, a very special horse became a school horse named Beau. He was/is my dream horse. Forward with a big floaty trot, rhythmic rocking horse canter. He’s a big Oldenburg, early teens. Ground manners and manners on the cross ties aren’t great but he is perfect under saddle. I actually just heard on Friday night that two instructors have sadly labeled him as an unsafe liability because of his ground manners. The real issue is that becoming a school horse has led to some bad habits. He has learned that because of his size, his beginner/inexperienced riders are scared off when he makes a big fuss on the cross ties. It is unfortunate because what I see is a horse that would really benefit from a consistent, confident rider…not a rider who shows up for their one ride a week that doesn’t want to deal with a problem horse. The life of a school horse.

When I moved, I was so sad to leave my barn and all the amazing friends I had made there and become accustomed to seeing every week. The family that owns that barn is very near and dear to my heart. I love going down to MA to see them. When I was going through my divorce, I actually lived in one of the apartments on the property while we sorted out housing. These people are seriously solid people. I was also sad to leave Beau, wondering what the next horse I would find to ride would be like.

I ended up hitting the jackpot. I found a small quiet farm near the new house and the horse I have been riding since September is named Chandraki. He is a Georgian Grande; an interesting breed that is half friesian, a quarter saddlebred, and a quarter draft, in Draki’s case his grandfather was a percheron. He is safe, likes the ring and the trails, and is a beautiful mover. The catch is he can be lazy, and he can be a bully. He has really forced me to be an assertive rider that uses spurs and a dressage whip when he isn’t listening. This assertiveness has been tough for me, a person who usually shies away from confrontation. Not surprisingly, this new attitude while riding has bled in my life a little, making me a more confident and assertive person. When faced with adversity, I can’t help but think, hey, I pay someone to fight with a 1000+ lb animal….what do you got!?

I have learned so much about riding, and really myself from riding Chandraki. This weekend we took a lesson with Adam Cropper, a dressage trainer who helped Chandraki’s owner when she first got him. It was a really great ride for us, and a great confidence booster for me. Oh and of course Chandraki is so handsome and extremely respectful yet affectionate on the ground…so there’s that 🙂 His owner has used him for eventing as well as fox hunting, and he has a real talent for dressage. I am hoping he will be one of the best parts of 2017. We’ll see!

Signature 2

Barbour Dog

My Barbour Argon jacket, which I picked up at an amazing going out of business sale on the cape, is a jacket that I wear pretty much all spring and fall. I love the olive waxed cotton and when I saw that they made them for dogs, I of course snagged one for my four legged companion, Mizpah. Sadly, the medium was too small around her deep chest, and the large was too big. My hopes dashed, I put my dream of being preppy matchy matchy with my dog on the shelf.

A couple weeks ago, a Barbour loving coworker (her coat collection is enviable to say the least) gave me the quilted version of the dog jacket because her dog outgrew it. I put it on the pup, did some strap adjusting, and it was a perfect fit! We took it out for a spin at the trails down the road from my house, which is sadly where she got attacked on Friday so not sure how much we will be going there in the future, but the jacket has been trail approved. This is the one that she has Barbour Quilted Dog Coat but its only available in small and medium on that site. Not sure where this jacket would be in stock. Orvis would be my usual suspect to carry this but they have some other version of the Barbour quilted dog coat without the cute corduroy collar.

img_8166img_8170img_8205img_8199

Now, Mizpah has other coats. My husband was actually quite pleased we ended up with this jacket for free because she does have other coats….and I have really been trying to see his argument that a dog doesn’t need multiple coats….but this was free so yay! Her other coats are from Ruffwear, there’s this one and this one.

New problem though…I have a waxed cotton coat, and now I want a quilted coat to match her. First world problems huh? Here are some posts I have written about Barbour in the past, actually I think a trip to the Milford Clearance Center might be in order soon!

Signature 2

Christmas Wish List 2016 Edition

I can’t believe that Christmas is coming up this weekend!!! This year has been full of big changes for me- getting married, moving to NH, buying a house, new job…my husband and I decided that really the best thing we could get each other would be a weekend away full of winter fun and relaxation! We will be spending a weekend later this winter up at The Eagle Mountain House in Jackson NH. Its one of the big old hotels in the White Mountains and I can’t wait to stay there.

When it comes to the other people in my life asking for ideas for Christmas presents, here are some of the items on my list! I try to think about people’s budgets when I come up with lists for the family. A bunch of items in the $30-50 range is nice because it gives people some flexibility with their budget. If their budget is $30-50, well perfect, if they are looking spend more like the gift is from multiple people, they can double up and do a couple gifts. Of course I think that time and conversation are the best gifts from family, but I also get the frustration trying to come up with gift ideas, and a well thought list can really help your family out!

  1. First up! A winter hat from LLBean! The Katahdin Pom Hat in midnight at $29.95. Many social media influencers were given the more colorful version of this hat, but I really like the classic navy and white of this one. fullsizerender-8
  2. Next, I am in love with this snow globe sweater from Talbots! Its currently on sale from $89.50 down to $53.70. fullsizerender-9
  3. This past summer I got so much use out of my Harding Lane mountain needlepoint hat. I decided I could use some more hats for this coming summer so here a few that I told my elves about!
    fullsizerender-10
    Harding Lane @ $35
    fullsizerender-12
    Port Royal Outfitters @ $20

    fullsizerender-13
    Smathers and Branson @ $30
  4. I love my KJP bracelets. I realized this past year that a color combination that I could really use is blue and white. Here is one called Mackarel Cove at $40.00. KJP has really blossomed into so much more than just a bracelet company. I love this pearl necklace too! Maybe a birthday present? fullsizerender-11What are some things on your wish list this year? I truly love all the holiday blog posts, keep em coming everyone!

Signature 2

Christmas Lights on the Nubble Lighthouse

Maine is home to many lighthouses; 65 to be exact. Maine along with being called Vacationland is also called the Lighthouse State! The closest Maine lighthouse to me is in York Maine on Cape Neddick. The lighthouse is on Nubble Island with a house and a couple other buildings. The lighthouse was built in 1879 and became automated in 1987.  I believe the official name for the lighthouse is the Cape Neddick Light, but many call it the Nubble Light. The Sohier Park has a gift shop and parking area so you can see the island. You can see the cable contraption to send packages from the park over to the island. It’s a pretty cool spot to visit.

The official lighting for the Nubble was the weekend after Thanksgiving. They had carolers and cookies and Santa; its quite an event. The lights will be on from dusk to midnight until New Year’s Eve. I went the weekend after to see it so I could have a little privacy with the Nubble. Here she is.

img_7799img_7811

Oh and if seeing a lighthouse in Maine light up for Christmas isn’t enough, on the way in and out of the park, you can see this lovely lobster trap tree!

img_7822

 Signature 2

Tree Lighting Evening in Portsmouth NH

One of the best things about my new home in New Hampshire is our proximity to Portsmouth!! Portsmouth is on the water, but not really the ocean. Its on the Piscataqua River which is an estuary to the Atlantic. There are “the decks”, which is what we call the restaurants that overlook the river, and then Market Square, and Strawberry Banke. Market Square is sort of the hub of walking in Portsmouth, and the Strawberry Banke is this area that preserved all the historic homes there. There is a museum and tours and such there. Then there is Prescott Park which sadly doesn’t allow dogs, but is a nice place to look out at the water.

The tree lighting takes place every year right in Market Square, followed by the annual illuminated holiday parade. The many holiday activities throughout the month are called “Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth” The Strawberry Banke is decorated with carolers and horse drawn carriages and ice skating. In the evening, they put on all their Christmas lights and their tours are called “candlelight strolls“.

img_7743-2
Beautiful Christmas Tree, and yes bottom left corner is an LLBean hat haha
img_7875
It was definitely a night for the down jacket!
img_7873
All of the light posts in the city have illuminated wreaths with bows, love it.

I loved everything about this night. The tree was great, not as big as the Boston tree, but great. This was the first holiday parade I had ever been to, and I haven’t seen that many lights since the Disney parade. The marching bands even had lights on their instruments.

img_7874
There were a bunch of illuminated and decorated antique VW’s. I loved this pickup truck, so cool! Think it would fit under the tree?
img_7768
The Grinch and Cindy Lou Who!
img_7772
Yep, a Christmas train with a hot tub car. Definitely a fan favorite!
img_7773
Santa! I know him! This was the end of the parade, the kids went wild!

We walked around the perimeter of the Strawberry Banke to check it out, and decided that we are going to do the candlelight stroll next year!!

img_7795
The ice skating rink, Christmas tree, and crowd around the fire pit at the Strawberry Banke- so festive

It was cooooold out standing to watch the parade. We got hot cocoa at Starbucks after to warm up walking around. Breaking New Grounds is my favorite spot to get a hot drink in Market Sq but sadly the line was out the door! This is a tradition that I hope to go to every year! I need a better camera to take pictures at night huh? That WOULD certainly fit under the tree ❤

Signature 2

Boston Ballet premieres Le Corsaire

This fall, the Boston Ballet’s Le Corsaire was the North American premiere of original choreography by Marius Petipa from the 1800s and Ivan Liska from the early 2000s. Petipa’s Le Corsaire originally premiered in St. Petersburg in 1863, and much of this new version was reconstructed by Liska from Petipa’s choreographic notations. Ivan Liska’s version premiered in Munich in 2007, and has now made its way to us in Boston in 2016.

My mother loves the ballet, and so I grew up attending the ballet as well as playing many of the famous classic ballets in youth orchestras. Le Corsaire was beautiful, dramatic, dreamy, and exciting- everything I hoped for. Corsaire is French for pirate, and there are swashbuckling fights, treasure, and scandal! The basic premise is that Conrad, leader of the pirates, falls in love with Medora, the foster daughter of Lankedem. Lankedem disapproves, but eventually agrees to sell Medora to the Pasha. Conrad vows to save Medora, and he rescues her to the pirate island. Lankedem is angered because he will lose his payment from the Pasha so he goes along too, and takes his chance to get Medora back when a fight amongst the pirates breaks out. Conrad wakes from a sleeping poison to find that Lankedem has taken Medora back to the Pasha and vows to again rescue her. Conrad and his fellow pirates go to Pasha’s palace disguised as pilgrims. The Pasha puts on a show for his guests only to have to pilgrims reveal themselves and rescue Medora in the end. The final scene is of the pirates, led by Conrad and Medora, on their ship off to the next adventure!

My husband came to this ballet with me, and we of course observed all rules and traditions of my trips to the ballet. We dressed up (even though I was not feeling great), walked around the Boston Common a bit, got a goodie at Boston Common Coffee Co (carrot pecan muffin top, so good), got a fancy drink at intermission (chardonnay for me), and no making fun of the male ballet dancers, which wasn’t hard at this ballet because they were all pirates. The costumes were exquisite; I especially loved the tutus in the Jardin Anime scene. The next ballet that I will attend will be The Nutcracker in December and then The Sleeping Beauty in the spring. Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev ballets are my favorite 🙂

img_7490
Despite feeling under the weather, I managed to throw on my gray wool skirt, black tights, penny loafers, and a sweater for the occasion.
img_7487
Boston Common is so beautiful, all the colors right now are stunning
img_7485
Looking up in the lobby of the Boston Opera House
img_7480
The Boston Opera House has such beautiful ornate moldings and chandeliers

img_7481

img_7484
Another beautiful chandelier, this one in the lobby.

Has anyone out there been watching The Crown on Netflix? I just started, and its been very well done so far. I’ll be honest, I could use more English countryside and horses, but I am only in the 3rd episode.

Signature 2

North Country ATV Adventure

This weekend we headed up to the Great North Woods of NH to a friend’s family camp for some ATV fun and beautiful foliage. We boarded the pup so that she could have fun and socialize with other pups while we played out on the ATVs. We got up there on Friday night and headed on the ATVs Saturday morning. Up in North Country NH, there is an awesome trail network for ATVs called Ride the Wilds established in 2013. There are 1000+ miles of trails connected, which include town roads and sections of highway when necessary to connect sections. Eleven different clubs within the region take care of the trail system with donations only- no tax dollars were spent on them.

Before 2013, the trail network wasn’t as connected and was really dependent on permission from private landowners. The signage along the trails was amazing and really helps keep people on the trails and off land that the landowners would like to keep private. There are restaurants, lodges, general stores, and campgrounds along the way. For this adventure I wore my LLBean fleece, Harding Lane mountain hat, buff to cover my face for the dust, jeans, my old Merrell boots, and my Fox mountain biking gloves.  It was definitely a day for functional clothing that you didn’t mind getting dusty/muddy!

Our first stop on our ATV adventure was the Blueberry Hill Inn & Cafe for breakfast. The food there is fabulous- our party got blueberry pancakes, grilled blueberry muffins, bacon, homemade corn beef hash, home fries, and endless cups of coffee. The blueberries for the pancakes & muffins come from blueberry fields right on the property and of course, the maple syrup was locally produced.

From there we headed up the Cree Notch Trails to a great lookout/picnic spot. Along the way we rode along a railroad, saw glimpses of the Connecticut River, & rode through a Christmas tree farm.

img_7112img_7114

img_7116
Along the railroad trail was the most dust, but I liked it because it was cool to see the old school telephone poles still standing

img_7120img_7121img_7123

img_7130
Feeling like a bandit through the dusty parts
img_7180
The Christmas tree farm!

The views from Cree Notch were amazing. The foliage was just breathtaking.

img_7142img_7147

My husband Jon and I rode on a Polaris Sportsman ATV. He drove the whole way out, and I drove part of the way home. Our friend was on a Kawasaki ATV, and then his parents, our amazing hosts, were in a Polaris side by side. They have had their camp up north for about 30 years and have really been there since the beginning for ATVing up there. img_7219

From there we headed to Bear Bait Mountain which also had some beautiful views. As the day progressed, the clouds rolled in and there were even a couple rain drops but thankfully nothing that disrupted our day. We saw a juvenile moose alongside the trail coming down from the notch view. It was early in the day for it to be out and about, and it didn’t move when we approached. Sadly the poor thing might be sick with something. We didn’t stick around too long in case mom was close by. It may have had some sort of tick borne disease like lyme. It was still a pretty cool encounter.

img_7165img_7173img_7192img_7201img_7197img_7199

After our amazing day of four wheeling, Jon did some fishing at the brook right near camp, and we had a campfire to warm up before dinner. He caught and released six beautiful brook trouts to hopefully grow and increase the healthy trout population.

img_7208
Beautiful brook trout, caught & released

img_7203img_7216img_7210

We had such an amazing day and made it home on Sunday in time to watch Tom Brady play with the Patriots for the first time this season. I am pretty sure this weekend is the peak foliage for northern NH, but southern NH still has a week or so. I am just loving all the fall colors, and secretly I am totally getting excited for snow and skiing in a few months hopefully!

Signature 2