Piscassic Greenway with Mizpah

New England is truly beautiful this time of year. After many days of rain, the fields and forests in this area are so lush and green! The rainy days can be tough, but now on the nicer days we can see the beautiful scenery as a result. We entered the Piscassic Greenway trails from Bald Hill Road in Newfields, NH. The Mraz trail starts there through a beautiful field and then enters the wooded area. There is a community garden that might have a charitable purpose at that entrance as well. In these photos I am five months pregnant (eep!) and I managed these trails really well.

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Mizpah on the grassy path before we entered the woods

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Action shot! Happiest dog 🙂

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Shorts from J.Crew Factory // tshirt from J.Crew Factory // hat from Vineyard Vines // bracelet not available anymore at KJP, click link to see others!

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Love the lilly pads and how the sky/clouds reflected off the water

The greenway is a part of the Southeast Land Trust of NH (SELT) and the rules in general (although you should check the site for each individual property) are that dogs should be on a leash OR under owner voice control. We went on a Sunday before lunch and had the place to ourselves. We kept Mizpah on a least until we passed the community garden and then let her go! We only ended up doing the Mraz Loop and we did the Byrne Trail/Spur to the scenic outlook. There is more Byrne Trail to see and the Otis Hill Trail.

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Part of the cellar hole for a large building out in the woods. I wish I knew exactly what was here!

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A little Americana here in the woods

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We saw so many pink/purple lady slippers! In New Hampshire, lady slippers, loons, and lupine are held sacred.

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I don’t know about you, but my baseball cap collection saves my skin in the summer! Sometimes its nice to see my back because I still look normal aka not pregnant from the back haha!

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One last shot on the way back to the car!

This property has an interesting history. We saw many cellar holes and rock walls indicating that it was most likely a few family farms long ago. In 2005, it almost became a 102 unit subdivision called “Mill Woods”, but thankfully SELT stepped in and made a deal with developers to protect this land. The property has fields, wooded areas, and wetlands that are important habitats for NH wildlife, so I am really happy they found a way to keep it undeveloped!!

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Some Florida snaps during Blizzard Stella….

A couple weeks ago was the school vacation week in New Hampshire, so I took some time to run away to Florida and see my lovely parents. They are a bit outside of Tampa, living the retired life! Now I am sitting in my living room watching the blizzard through the windows definitely missing the sunshine and warmth! Besides spending some time in Tampa and at my parents’s house, we also spent some time in Tarpon Springs and Clearwater.

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One of my favorite things to do at my parents’s house is just walk around or go for runs to enjoy the nice weather. The birds are so pretty down there, and so are all the flowers and plants. My parents have a couple palm trees and beautiful hibiscus flowers in their yard. Their backyard is actually the golf course, and it makes for some fun people watching from the lanai.

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I wore this outfit for a luncheon with my mother and some of her friends. Lilly Pulitzer shirt is sold out but this one is similar. White jeans here from Vineyard Vines and sandals are here from Palm Beach Sandals!

Tarpon Springs is a coastal city on the Gulf of Mexico northeast of Tampa. It is an important location for harvesting natural sponges and the historic sponge dock area has fun shopping and Greek restaurants. Tarpons Springs has the highest percentage of Greek Americans of any city in the US.

It was so nice to be near the water and all the sponge boats. My past few visits to the water had been pretty cold compared to this one 🙂 Walking around Tarpon Springs, there are lots of decorated bikes. My favorite was the one above decorated in sponges. They started appearing in the spring of 2015, and they are truly art. Warren Gregory is the artist behind the bikes. He was inspired by many years living in Amsterdam. From Tarpon Springs, we headed south to Clearwater for some beach.

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The Clearwater Beach sand is very fine, so soft on your feet. I love all the palm trees and the dunes here.

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Clear water indeed!

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The hotels along Clearwater Beach are so colorful

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Dress from Mahi Gold// Hat from Vineyard Vines// Sandals from Jack Rogers// Bracelet from Kiel James Patrick

Watching the snow fly and blow around outside, its hard to believe I was ever in warm Florida. I have gone down every February since my parents moved down there, and it really is such a nice winter getaway. Hopefully anyone else affected by this winter weather is staying safe and warm and maybe, just maybe, my pics will help get you through!

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Talkin Derby 2016 Looks & Bets!!

Today is the Kentucky Derby! Attending all three of the Triple Crown races as well as the Maryland Hunt Cup is on my bucket list. Last year I went with some friends to a Derby party in Boston, right on the water, it was so fun. This year, the weather has been so blah that we didn’t make any plans. My husband and I will probably just go somewhere local and grab a drink to watch the races. I think that derby day is a great time to unleash some floral prints as it is the race for the roses. Here are some fun dresses that I found for a nice price!

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                                                Eliza J Floral Fit & Flare Dress @ $54.97

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                    Db Signature Sabrina Floral Dress @ $39.50 not in many sizes now, but there               was a huge selection of floral dresses at Dress Barn

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Mahi Gold Paradise Parade @ $98.00 in Hydrangea Walk- the most expensive out of the 3 but with the iconic Cape Cod blue hydrangeas…I need this. Mahi’s dresses are so soft and comfortable. Mahi Gold is definitely one reason why I love shopping in Chatham.

Now, one retailer that I have left off of my list is Vineyard Vines. They are the official style of the Kentucky Derby. They have a rose print dress that is gorgeous BUT its $248….and they have a white dress with a rose print sash for $198. If I was going to the event I would steer clear of these because you will see a lot of ladies wearing them and they are expensive….so unless you got it c/0….I mean, just look this year at all the gentlemen wearing the rose print sport coat from VV. If I was going, I would want to wear a dress that wouldn’t break my budget and that I wouldn’t see on every girl there 🙂

I am not much of a big hat girl, but I can’t wear headbands for a fascinator because I will get a headache. What I would actually probably do is decorate a hair clip to match my dress. These fabulous hair clips would definitely be my inspiration!

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Hair Clip via Etsy

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Hair Clip via Etsy

Making a decorated hair clip means it can’t have too much weight, so I would probably do mesh/organza and feathers- maybe one flower….but you can’t do too much or it will be too heavy to stay in your hair!

As for who I am rooting for this year at the derby, Nyquist is the favorite. Nyquist is one of three babies, along with Mo Tom and Outwork, in the derby that have the same sire, Uncle Mo. Crazy. If we look at trainers, two proven trainers have contenders this year: Bob Baffert has Mor Spirit who is a favorite, and then Todd Pletcher has Destin and Outwork. Steven Asmussen has Creator and Gun Runner in the race, and he has had some good horses out there too. His career survived a PETA investigation in 2014 and now he has 2 horses in the derby- not too shabby. Nyquist is the top money winner in the field with over $3 million in earnings, and surprisingly Lani with not so great odds is 3rd place with the money at $1.3 million. Second place is Exaggerator at $1.7 million but he has pretty good odds right now.

Nyquist is a safe bet, there is a good chance this guy will be in the winner’s circle. If you are looking for a horse that would be fun to bet on because they are in the mids for odds, then maybe Mor Spirit, or Destin, or if you are just looking for a fun name, then I like Oscar Nominated. The rules to name a thoroughbred for the Jockey Club make for some creative names!

Alright folks, from rain soaked Massachusetts, I am wishing everyone a fabulous Kentucky Derby day, I can’t wait to see all the looks on blogs and instagram, and watch the most exciting 2 minutes in sports tonight. Enjoy it!

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Sunny days in Florida

Hello everyone!! Sorry for my absence this past week! I was in Florida enjoying the sun, and then right to Killington VT for some skiing, and then I have had 2 exams for classes already this week!

My parents retired to Florida a few years ago. Its hard not having them just a drive away to have dinner on a Sunday or meet up, but certainly having family in Florida has its perks! I wasn’t down there very long at all, so we focused on just relaxing instead of hitting up any parks or tourist attractions. I didn’t even want to waste time on driving to the beach, so we  hung out at the pool…which is heated….so nice!!!

Here are some pics from my quick but awesomely sunny and warm visit!

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Hangin with this little sand crane!!  #edsftg

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Not a cloud in the sky at the pool!

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Not a bad spot for lunch! Loved being able to eat outside!

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Sunset on the golf course my parents live on

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Pano of the lovely sunset!

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Til next time Florida!

You can see I am kinda obsessed with the palm trees down there ha! I also looove the birds down there. They have sand cranes that walk around in pairs, and they are so cute. You can see a little bachelor sand crane in my first picture. The sunsets are beautiful too because they are on the western side of Florida. I love February vacation as a teacher because I get to run away to Florida for a dose of sunshine.

Where would you go to get a little sun and warmth this winter!?

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Valentine’s Day is comin up fast!

So Valentine’s Day is coming up, like next weekend!! I don’t know if its the lack of wintry weather up here in New England or what, but it just doesn’t feel like February around here! From my person, I don’t expect a big gift for V-day. We do small things, like <$50, because really its more about just showing you were thinking about the other person than the price tag. Valentine’s Day is a holiday where I really do think its the thought that counts. I also don’t think that there should be this pressure to pick out a very romantic or sentimental gift. If you have an idea for something like that, then run with it, but I know that for me, it will be the dinner we have after exchanging our little gifts that will be romantic. Ok, enough of my gift philosophy.

Here are a few things I have been checking out!

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This long sleeve tee from Vineyard Vines for $49.50 is so cute and perfect another holiday we all love, St. Patrick’s Day! The front has a little pocket with the same whale/shamrock on it.

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I am always on the lookout for great bracelets. Many of you who read and follow along on instagram know that I love the KJP bracelets. This navy horse bracelet is from Hampton Ivy, an Etsy shop that has an awesome instagram and great products. I have fallen in love with this bracelet because it is handmade here in the US of A, the materials- leather and antiqued gold pewter, and the price is an affordable $26!! I love the horse head, but I also loved the one with a lobster and with anchors on it!

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I am in love with this mountains hat from Harding Lane for $35.  Hats, belts, key fobs, flasks….labradors, nautical flags, horses, fish, and ducks….needlepoint is a world of preppy variety. Some of the names in needlepoint are Smathers and Branson, Tucker Blair, and Harding Lane. Being from Massachusetts, I am more inclined to check out Tucker Blair and Harding Lane from Boston and Dedham respectively. Smathers and Branson originated in Maryland. That being said, the way that I have organized my needlepoint vendors is to say that if I buy a needlepoint hat, it will come from Harding Lane (they tout themselves as the original needlepoint hat) and if I need to buy a needlepoint belt, I will get it at Tucker Blair. Speaking of belts, Tucker Blair is currently doing a sale on retired styles.

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Finally….this tote from LLBean. You didn’t think I would have a wishlist that left out LLBean did you?? The totes from LLBean come in different sizes, different colors, open top or zip, shorter or longer handles. I would really like a medium tote with the longer handles which is $29.95.  You can also monogram them for $8….and something I have just recently realized is you can put up to 10 characters on there. SO if you want your name, awesome….if you want BEACHBUM….you could do that too….. LOVE&SAND…..ACKBOUND…..SUNGODDESS…DRINKSAT5…SUNSETLOVE…POOLSIDE…so many possibilities!

I won’t say too much about what I am getting my fiance for Valentine’s Day….BUT this is a “cool” thing to get for a guy who likes to have a couple beers on the weekend. This brand, Arnold Steiner, has beautiful menswear items, and I have been checking out this pocket square to get monogrammed for my fiance’s wedding tux (its a gray tux with a navy bow tie).

For Valentine’s Day, we like to cook a nice meal together instead of going out. This year we are going to do something including marinated grass fed beef and homemade tiramisu! What are you planning for Valentine’s Day next weekend? A galentine’s day party? Maybe brunch on Saturday? Staying in watching your favorite classic romance movie? Anyone having an anti-Valentine’s Day party?? I went to one of those back in college….flowers spraypainted black….a broken heart cake, it was actually really fun!!

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Prep Craze: The Fair Isle Sweater

It has been very warm in Massachusetts this week, but the cold will come. My winter uniform is a sweater over a button down….I wear all the combinations I own until the weather warms up. There is so much variety in sweaters….cable knit, crew neck, fisherman, v-neck, honeycomb, aran, argyle, intarsia, wool, cotton, merino, cashmere……I could go on and on. Today though, we talk about the fair isle sweater.

Fair isle is actually a knitting technique from the Fair Isle of Scotland. The designs that we know as being fair isle are supposed to be in rows that go around the sweater circularly, no more than two colors per row, and really no more than five colors per sweater. There are rules about how many stitches the patterned rows can be too. All that being said, we can probably assume that not all sweaters that we call fair isle are actually fair isle. Popularity of this knitting technique started back in the 1920s when the Prince of Wales, later to be Edward VIII, wore fair isle tank tops.

Here he is in a fair isle v-neck. I love it, this was actually a portrait of him with his dog that was used for this advertisement….the media…even then.

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Anyway, I have jumped on the bandwagon as affordably as I could. Here are my two sweaters from Old Navy, both older…..the navy one on the right is probably not a true fair isle because the stitching is more just around the neck, like a yoke design I guess.

Fair Isle Style Sweaters from Old Navy
Fair Isle Style Sweaters from Old Navy

Currently, I can’t recommend any fair isle sweaters from Old Navy. What they have right now under fair isle looks more like just geometric shapes…..not the classic fair isle. And then here are my two fair isle sweaters from J. Crew factory. The one of the left is old, the one on the right is current. Its on sale too, $34.50. Its very soft, we will see how it holds up.

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So where else can we find deals on fair isle? There are always a few from Vineyard Vines. I remember the photos of Sarah Vickers, Macy Medema, and Devon Mackenzie from the KJP crew all wearing c/o Vineyard Vines fair isle sweaters a few years ago. It was lovely, but those sweaters are hitting you at ~$140 and upwards? The sweaters are really nice looking, but a little pricey for me.

Here it is, I think its from a couple years ago…its kinda preppy perfection with the scenery, vest, Barbour, bean boots, and Hunters.  Fair isle has always been a winter trend, but I remember around this time it became a really hot trend for the preppy crowd.

Devon, Sarah, and Macy in their beautiful fair isle sweaters, C/O

Woolrich has some nice looking ones Mohair Fair Isle Sweaters at $99. I am concerned though because reviews for some of their other motif sweaters have been negative, and there are no reviews on these yet…

Woolovers has a nice crew neck sweater in lambswool, all different colors, and I can speak to the excellent quality of these sweaters: Fair Isle Sweater and these ring in at $48 plus shipping from England haha. The only thing that stinks is returning sweaters to England is expensive, so pay attention to reviews and sizing info. Here is my favorite.

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Talbots always has some nice fair isle options…although they too have some that they are labeling as fair isle even though its just some zig zags and diamonds….here’s my two faves together actually! The one on the left I know is actually a dress but its here for $119 and the sweater on the right is here for $89. Great thing about Talbots though is they have awesome end of the season sales, so get one their email list and wait if those prices are still too high.

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Here is one from Brooks Brothers. The color combination is not for me, but $88 is not a terrible price for a sweater from them. Its kinda a weird one though because the pattern is only on the front and the elbow patches? They have another one for $148….which puts it in the same category as the Vineyard Vines sweaters…..beautiful, but not realistic for me…and probably many of us right now.

And lastly, LLBean….this sweater from the LLBean Signature collection is on my Christmas/birthday list. I love the colors, and I am sure that the merino is very soft. Its $94…..which is out of my price range, but…its a wish list item, something I wouldn’t buy for myself. We can dream right?

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Another amazing place to check out would be Etsy. There are sooooo many vintage sweaters on there from LLBean, Ralph Lauren, Lacoste, and others. You have to be careful because some of the Etsy stores don’t accept refunds and sizing has changed over the years but there are some real gems if you have the time to look. Then when people ask where you got it….you can say, oh, its vintage.

My fiancé and I are doing an engagement photo shoot this weekend….which of those J Crew sweaters should I wear? Looking for opinions! Its an outdoor shoot….so there’s either the cream sweater with navy and orange stitching OR the gray with navy, mint, and white stitching….lemme know what you think!!

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Heading to Freeport ME, home of LLBean!

For the second year in a row, we are camping in Winslow Park in Freeport, ME, right on Casco Bay for Labor Day weekend. It’s an amazing spot- waking up to see the ocean is a gift that I got more often 🙂 Freeport is the home of really great shopping, which will be packed for Labor Day sales and back to school shoppers.

Last year we did a stand up paddle boarding discovery course through LLBean. The courses are very affordable, around $25, and they provide everything you need. This year we are doing sport clay shooting!

I am writing this post to remind myself as well as anyone else out there, just because its on sale and has your favorite brand on the tag doesn’t mean you need it. It will be tough, there’s a J Crew, Patagonia, Vineyard Vines, and of course LLBean in Freeport. We usually hit up the shopping on the same day we do the course at LLBean. A trip to the Ben and Jerry’s there is usually part of the deal too! 😉

Only buy things you NEED and will love and will not go out of style next year, try to get it on sale, and hopefully we won’t feel that buyer’s remorse looking at our bank accounts on Tuesday. Many times, I walk up to the register, and then decide to put a couple things back, and its usually for the best! I am also looking forward to biking, sitting around the fire, catching up with friends, maybe doing some swimming….and those things fit very comfortably in my budget, more than that mint VV shep shirt I have been eyeing!

What’s everyone else up to? Happy Labor Day weekend!!

c/o Mon

Smoothing feathers

When I showed my fiancé my first post and my about section, he said, “wow, are you sure you aren’t going to ruffle some feathers?”. The reason being that my best friends DO own horses and DO have money from their families. I love them like sisters, they are so down to Earth and generous, I sometimes forget that. My post wasn’t about shaming them though for what they have or what they were born with. Plus, lets be honest, no matter what you have, we are all tempted by what we don’t have.

My post, and really the reason why I am writing this blog is because I need to remind myself, and maybe some of you out there, that NOT having things that you want right now is ok…..maybe even better than ok! Spending money that we should be saving because we alone will be making that downpayment on our first homes in order to look like we inherited Jackie O’s closet does not bring us any closer to having that house in Newport, or boat on the cape. Paying off debts is what makes us free to maybe use some money for something fun like a new Lilly shift or J Crew tweed skirt.

With instagram, tumblr, Facebook, and blogs, it can be easy to think, “I have a job, a good job, I deserve a new Vineyard Vines dress, I work hard”. Admiring #jcreweverything and #buymelilly posts from our friends, can make us feel like we should have those things too. What we actually deserve though is to save our hard earned money to do real things for us, like pay off our cars or pay off student loans. I am writing this blog to constantly remind myself that being smart with my time and money and being with my friends/family is what makes me happy.

Thoughts shared free of charge, sponsored by no one,

c/o Mon

In the beginning…

I am a New England girl that has a taste for the finer things that has grown frustrated with the price of marked up “preppy” wares and SOME of the blogs that promote those “preppy” wares. I grew up in a suburb in Massachusetts, am from a middle class family. I never wanted for anything but I went to public school, no old family money, and I probably won’t be able to afford a horse until retirement…and while I like classic, timeless apparel, beaches, horseback riding, and a good glass of chards, bills and savings goals should come first. I did crew in hs and college, but have no vintage rowing blazer. I am more J. Crew Factory than J. Crew, and I sell my Lilly dresses on Ebay. I do ride horses, but have paid for every lesson and ride with my own money while living on my own. I love to hike, but own very little Patagonia/The North Face…..because its expensive and I get the same stuff at EMS or LLBean. I spent years now going along with what my favorite instagrammers told me. That dress really is everything! Well…no it isn’t. It’s just one thing that you probably didn’t even pay for 😉 I’m here with you on the quest to have it all, finding the balance between wearing rags to save for that Newport house and buying the entire Vineyard Vines catalog to have collectors come after your credit card debt.