Making Peace with October

My father with our cat Sylvester

My father with our cat Sylvester

Today marks nine years since my father passed away. Sometimes it feels like more time than that and sometimes less time than that. Either way, any amount of time without my father has been difficult. However, as the years have passed, the actual day of his passing has lost some of the heavy weight it had upon my heart and I’ve learned to make peace with October.

Feeling sad without my father after his passing used to come around certain dates such as holidays, his birthday, family birthdays, and the day he walked on into the spirit world. It would also come at just random times when I’d be struck with a wave of sorrow that nearly knocked me off my feet. But time has lessened the pain and I’ve learned to enjoy holidays and birthdays again. While I miss him every single day and will always miss him, I also know that he doesn’t want me to dwell in pain and sadness. After all, when my father was alive he was very much into celebrating holidays, birthdays, and all special occasions with as much happiness as possible.

This year leading up to the anniversary of my father’s passing, I’ve been distracted by various things. I was working hard to save up for my recent trip to New England and the week before I left for that trip, I was battling wasps that had come through the wall of my closet. The wasps were an unexpected and unwanted adventure and the trip to New England was my little reward to myself for surviving that harrowing escapade. I think those distractions served me well, even though one was far less pleasant than the other. I had a strong feeling that I needed to go to New England this October because I hadn’t been out in October in many years, and I’m so glad I went! I know my dad was with me in spirit as always and sharing in my travels.

Today I spent the time just enjoying a lazy Sunday with my daughters. My mom stopped by briefly to drop off a new coat for my youngest daughter and we had a nice little visit chatting about various things. I’ve also been playing a bit of World of Warcraft with my oldest daughter, which is always fun and interesting. Then I did some beading of a new Halloween themed pin and had a nice talk with my youngest daughter about the tablet she uses for school and how it helps her with her homework.

This evening will be more along the lines of just spending time with my girls and being grateful for the blessings and happiness in my life. I know my father would want it that way and I know that he’s always with us in spirit. He watches over us, laughs with use, and most of all, loves us all.

From out and about to forced inside

Yesterday's sunset, wanted to remember what the sun looked like...

Yesterday’s sunset, wanted to remember what the sun looked like…

Took this picture today during a brief break from pouring to only sprinkling.

Took this picture today during a brief break from pouring to only sprinkling.

It rained all day here! It’s still raining in fact! It literally put a damper on any plans to go out and about but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Spending a day inside just relaxing is perfectly acceptable when on vacation. I enjoyed not having to drive the car anywhere and the girls enjoyed just hanging out playing and watching DVD movies.

The girls playing in the sunroom.

The girls playing in the sunroom.

Remnants of the girls playing in the sunroom lol

Remnants of the girls playing in the sunroom lol

Up until today, we’d been going out and about to various places every day. Monday was our adventure in Boston and we all had a great time! Yesterday we did some general errands and shopping in Amesbury, MA to stock up on toys for today’s rainy day indoor play. I introduced my girls to Ed Justen from Workspace 36, Kathi from Attentif’ Design and Deb from Parke Place Boutique and I was happy my daughters could meet the nice people I call friends in Amesbury.

My daughters with Kathi and Deb in Amesbury, MA

My daughters with Kathi and Deb in Amesbury, MA

Our adventures in Boston require a whole separate blog entry that I’m too tired to tell now but hopefully someday! I used today’s indoor day to catch up on my beading and redo the clasp on my handmade bead chain for my key pendant. I also started a couple other projects, took a nap and tried up online odds and ends. Having a day to regroup after running around was exactly what I needed so I don’t mind Mama Nature’s usual Wednesday “attack of the bad weather” tantrum.

My new heart shaped clasp end for my necklace. One side is blue, the other is silver =)

My new heart shaped clasp end for my necklace. One side is blue, the other is silver =)

Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and beautiful so we’ll be out and about on more adventures but for now, I’m still enjoying just relaxing. Oh hey! The sky is getting a lighter shade of gray! Maybe the rain will stop before it gets totally dark…

The Power of Three prepares to conquer New England!

The Power of Three in Newburyport last summer.

The Power of Three in Newburyport last summer.

This coming Saturday, my two daughters and I are heading to New England for a week-long vacation. We took a family vacation to New England last summer but it was only for my usual custody days with them, Saturday through Wednesday. This time I have them for an entire week and instead of staying in a hotel like last time, we’ve rented a cottage on Plum Island. This is the first week-long vacation we’ve ever taken just the three of us and I’m certain the Power of Three will find many new adventures!

Last summer’s vacation to New England was filled with ups and downs, including a trip into Boston that didn’t exactly go well. That was the first time I’d been in Boston in the summer and I was overwhelmed by the amount of people! We visited the Aquarium which was far too crowded and noisy to enjoy and went on a whale watch that evening. We did see some humpback whales which was amazing but the long boat ride out and back took a toll on all of us.

Girls excited about Boston on the train in.

Girls excited about Boston on the train in.

One of the whales we saw.

One of the whales we saw.

How the girls looked heading back on the Whale watch.

How the girls looked heading back on the Whale watch.

As I just went into Boston in June, I’m now better prepared for the crowds and I scouted some great places to take the girls. We’re driving to a T station and heading in that way because taking the train from Newburyport ended up being more exciting than we wanted when we had to take buses back for part of the journey due to a shooting at/near one of the train stations.

All threes of us crammed into one seat on the bus. It was a bumpy ride!

All threes of us crammed into one seat on the bus. The girls smiles are a bit more strained lol. It was a bumpy ride!

I don’t want my daughters having that last experience as how they remember Boston so this time, we’re going to take our time, have fun and take the T as much as possible to avoid getting exhausted from walking. I have faith they’ll enjoy Boston much more this trip!

I will of course be taking the girls into Amesbury, MA more than once during the trip so they can meet the new friends I’ve made there. We’re going into Amesbury Saturday night after we get in because I promised Jordan pizza from Flatbread as a second birthday dinner. This Friday she’s turning 12 and while we’re having a birthday dinner and cupcakes here at my house, it might be a bit hectic as I finish packing the car and such. My promise of a second birthday celebration once we’re in New England made Jordan’s eyes light up like fireworks and I’m sure we’ll all be happy to be munching yummy pizza after a day in the car!

We’ll also be venturing into Salem and Plymouth which I’ve been to and Gloucester which I haven’t visited yet. Even though I’ve been to places before, they’re always new to me when I have my daughters with me as they point out things I missed in previous visits. Three females on a trip together might not be all smooth sailing but we’ll navigate the waters in our usual Corbin woman way and return home with a boatload of great memories! Look out, New England, this Power of Three is coming your way!

A trip of firsts

IMG_6651

This past trip to New England was the first I’ve ever made in July. Last summer I skipped July because I went solo in June and then with my mom and girls in August. I was also still working at my office job last July so taking a road trip every month wasn’t yet a possibility. While I knew this was my first trip in July, what I didn’t realize was how many other firsts it  was going to be filled with.

Every trip I take to New England is filled with new experiences, some of them planned and some of them not-so-planned. This trip I planned to go to the community theatre show I was invited to Thursday night and then down to Plymouth and Cape Cod Bay area on Friday. My weekend plans were to attend the MCNAA Summer Moon Pow-Wow. I did everything I planned and it kept me busy with plentiful new adventures! But it was the firsts that stood out most in my mind.

This was the first trip to New England where I didn’t see any of my friends in Amesbury, MA. There were various reasons for that but it still made me a bit sad. This trip was the first time I attended any kind of show in New England. I’m glad it was The Village Theatre’s production of The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes because I felt honored to have been invited.

A bit bummed in Amesbury, MA.

A bit bummed in Amesbury, MA.

It was the first time I saw with my own eyes parts of the Wampanoag culture I’d only read about in books. I had my first experience with the craziness that is Cape Cod traffic and also my first meeting with an online friend from that area. It was the first time I was finally brave enough to go out and dance in the circle at a pow-wow for both the Round Dance and some Inter-Tribal dances. That last first is rather huge for an introverted semi-hermit like myself!

The inter tribal dances are a chance for everyone to dance together.

The inter tribal dances are a chance for everyone to dance together.

Along with expanding my knowledge of Massachusetts and its history, I also learned a lot about myself. I learned yet again that I’m stronger than I think. I faced some rather tough lessons, lessons I’d been certain would reduce me to rubble, but I didn’t crumble. In fact, I stood taller and prouder of myself. Certain life experiences add cracks in the foundation of my beliefs but I always fill those cracks with a truth that makes my spirit ever stronger and more determined.

Sunset as I head back to NH from Cape Cod area.

Sunset as I head back to NH from Cape Cod area.

One thing that will always remain true is that my trips to New England renew my soul, stimulate my mind and fill my heart with joy and fulfillment. The first time I see the “Massachusetts Welcomes You!” sign when I cross into the state makes me smile, take a deep breath and remember that I’m on the right path.

Massachusetts Welcomes You

Expanding explorations

A rough idea of where I'll be going this trip!

A rough idea of where I’ll be going this trip!

Tomorrow I’m heading out to New England for one of my monthly adventures. I make it a goal every trip to explore a new area of New Hampshire or Massachusetts and so far, so good! My last trip I explored new areas of Boston, scouting out places to take my daughters in August and finding the best route to get there. Despite getting lost once or twice in Boston, I found exactly what I was looking for and know the girls and I will have a ball in Beantown.

For my trip starting tomorrow, my newest exploration destinations are Plymouth and Cape Cod, MA. I’ll be staying in Seabrook, NH as usual but on Friday I plan on leaving rather early to head south to the Cape Cod Bay area. I’ve encountered the traffic to the Cape on more than one occasion and I know that the earlier I go, the better. I plan on visiting Plimoth Plantation and the Wampanoag Homesite and then wander wherever the spirit takes me.

Before heading to Cape Cod Bay Friday, I’ll spend Thursday in my favorite city/town of Amesbury and the surrounding areas. I plan on visiting my favorite businesses in Amesbury and investigating a couple of the new ones for future write-ups. There are also trails I’ve yet to walk and sites I’ve yet to see! I’ll scope out where the girls and I will be staying on Plum Island in August and visit the beach at least once.

On Saturday and Sunday I’ll be attending the MCNAA Annual Summer Moon Pow-wow in Danvers, MA and have volunteered to help out there on Saturday. It’s supposed to be a beautiful weekend and I’m looking forward to experiencing more of the Native American culture.

I cram a lot into my days in New England and I love having the freedom to go wherever I wish. This summer is going far too fast but I’m going to fill it up with endlessly expanding explorations as I pursue the path leading to my future in the area I love most!

The Steps of Amesbury, MA

An escaped hermit crab at Nest admiring the wooden Amesbury signs for sale.

An escaped hermit crab at Nest admiring the wooden Amesbury signs for sale.

There was a Block Party in Amesbury, MA the Thursday night I was in New England so I decided to attend. I’d never been to a block party before and I was curious and eager to experience something new. I visited Ed Justen at Workspace 36 shortly before the event started and I was impressed by how much the coworking space had expanded in the year since I first started visiting the area. I wished I’d taken pictures so I could do a fresh write-up but I forgot. Next time!

Ed said he’d be playing saxophone at the Block Party and I said I’d be sure to be there to listen for a bit. After a brief stop up the way at Parke Place Boutique and Attentif’ Design to speak with Deb and Kathi, I headed back to the hotel to freshen up and change into something warmer as the temperature had dropped considerably from the day before.

Once showered and dressed in a clean tank, lightweight sweater and capris, I returned to Amesbury and had no trouble parking in my usual lot. I walked up Main Street to where the block party was happening and things were just getting underway. A local stable was unloading ponies for pony rides and food vendors were busy making final preparations as people started to arrive.

Adorable ponies ready for the kids.

Adorable ponies ready for the kids.

In a very short amount of time, the grassy area in front of the church and the blocked off street were crowded with people. Couples, families with children in strollers or tagging along, people with dogs and others milling about near the beer truck. It was quite a busy scene!

Getting crowded!

Getting crowded!

I bought 10 tickets so I could sample the food available from local restaurants and shops. I had little pork sandwich from No. 8 Kitchen and Spirits, delicious paella from Amesbury Sports Park and numerous chocolate truffles from Ovedia Artistan Chocolates.

Yummy paella from the Amesbury Sports Park booth.

Yummy paella from the Amesbury Sports Park booth.

I stayed long enough to listen to Ed Justen play a few songs but then decided a block party just wasn’t my thing. I didn’t know anyone else there and felt a little out of place as everyone greeted familiar faces.

Ed Justen killing it on his sax!

Ed Justen killing it on his sax!

Carrying a bag filled with three chocolate truffles from Ovedia (I’d used my last 3 tickets on them) I headed back down Main Street toward Parke Place Boutique and Attentif’ Design. I found Deb and Kathi inside Attentif’ Design and we chatted a bit before settling onto the shared steps outside their stores.

It was a lovely cool evening and I really enjoyed watching all the people stroll by on the way to the Block Party. Deb and Kathi seemed to know everyone that walked by and greeted them happily and I was so thrilled to be there I’m surprised my inner glow wasn’t escaping to the outside.

Downtown Amesbury is so beautiful and I truly believe the people who live there are quite lucky. There’s no downtown like Amesbury anywhere near where I live and the level of friendliness doesn’t exist in the areas of NY I travel. To go to Amesbury and have people greet me by name with smiles and welcoming hearts is the most amazing feeling in the world! I fear I can’t seem to properly convey how much it means to me to feel like I’m part of Amesbury, even if it’s only an occasional, visiting part.

As we sat outside, Jon Mooers and his brother came along to work on hanging red, white and blue banners over the storefronts of Parke Place Boutique and Attentif’ Design. I dashed across the street quickly to take a picture of the scene and I think it captures the essence of what makes Amesbury such a wonderful town/city!

Locals visiting, talking, being social. It's lovely!

Locals visiting, talking, being social. It’s lovely!

Lots of people walked by with dogs and many of them stopped to chat. I learned that the large fluffy black and white dog/Shetland pony is named Lloyd but I didn’t catch the name of the other adorable pup that was sweet enough to give me kisses.

Lloyd

Lloyd

Deb and the sweet pup.

Deb and the sweet pup.

At one point Kathi asked me when I was moving to Amesbury and I said “Tomorrow if I could.” She thought that was very sweet and it was the honest truth. If not for the fact that I have shared custody of my girls and the divorce agreement states that I have to stay where I am until the girls are adults, I’d move to New England with them in a heartbeat! There’s so much more opportunity there than in NY and we could all learn a lot of positive things living there. When my girls are grown, I’ll definitely be moving to New England and then finally I’ll be where I belong.

I could have stayed there on the steps of Amesbury among all those friendly people all night but it was getting a bit cool and I had to get up early to head into Boston the next day so I headed back to the hotel. I am so grateful for the friends I have there and while I didn’t make it into town again this last trip, I’ll be back July 16-20 for more adventures!

Gorgeous Glistening Goddesses

Fiery me, fashion-forward Deb and creative Kathi represented as Goddesses. Image courtesy of VegaColors at DeviantArt

Fiery me, fashion-forward Deb and creative Kathi represented as Goddesses. Image courtesy of VegaColors at DeviantArt

When I arrived at the hotel for my latest trip to New England, I went about unpacking in the nice air-conditioned room. Once I’d driven out of the rain, the day had become hot, humid and sunny which left me feeling a bit bedraggled. After unpacking, I showered and felt much refreshed and ready to head out on some evening adventures.

I’m always pulled to Amesbury on my trips so I obeyed that pull and drove the 10-minute drive south from Seabrook, NH to my favorite little Massachusetts town/city. I parked my car in the lot by Crave like usual and then walked up main street breathing it all in. There wasn’t much of a breeze and the humidity was quite oppressive but I was still overjoyed to be back in Amesbury!

I walked up to Parke Place Boutique to see if the owner Deb was there and when I peeked inside I saw her and Kathi, the owner of Attentif’ Design relaxing and chatting. I was surprised their stores were still open at that hour on a Wednesday evening so I stepped inside and was happily greeted by both of them. That right there made my night! In NY, I’m basically a recluse with no local friends who spends most of her time with her dog. I live a good life but it’s not exactly exciting. That all changes when I return to Amesbury!

I sat and chatted with Deb and Kathi for a while and learned that they were both still open because they didn’t have anywhere else particularly important to be that evening. The subject of dinner eventually came up and as I hadn’t eaten anything in a while, I was very interested in a meal. It was decided they’d close up their stores and we’d walk up to Barking Dog Bar & Grill for food and that sounded divine to me!

I hadn’t eaten at the Barking Dog yet during my visits to Amesbury so it was obviously overdue. I enjoyed talking with Deb and Kathi and feeling like a social human being instead of a writing hermit. Deb, Kathi and I are all at slightly different stages of our lives but I didn’t feel out of place at all with them, in fact I felt very welcome and relaxed. We’re all strong, powerful, tenacious and determined women after all, goddesses in our own right. The food was delicious, the atmosphere was energetic and it was a great re-introduction into a social life for me.

During the conversation, the topic of the humidity and heat came up and the word “sweaty” was uttered. To which I said what my mother had always told me “Women don’t sweat, we glisten.” Glisten is a far lovelier word than sweat and as women are the lovelier gender, it makes perfect sense 😉 As the evening continued, the term “glisten” and “glistening” when referring to women perspiring came from the mouths of a few other people and I felt that to be an affirmation from the universe itself that it’s true wisdom.

When Deb, Kathi and I finished our meal and walked back down the street toward their shops, we were an impressive, beautiful and laughing trio of Gorgeous Glistening Goddesses, the likes of which Amesbury was truly fortunate to behold!

An anniversary of sorts

Amesbury mural by Jon P. Mooers

Amesbury mural by Jon P. Mooers

This coming Wednesday, June 25th, I’m heading to New England for one of my monthly/bi-monthly visits/adventures. I’m celebrating an anniversary of sorts because around this same week last year was the first time I made an official and well-planned trip to Amesbury, Massachusetts. I visited during Amesbury Days last year and this year’s visit is timed perfectly with that same event!

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since I started visiting the area that I immediately fell in love with during my first official trip to North Shore. After that first trip, I wanted to visit as often as possible and quitting my office job to do freelance writing full-time gave me the ability to do just that!

I’ve visited the area through all seasons now. Walking the sandy beaches in summer was invigorating, seeing the  autumn colors around Lake Gardner was breathtaking and I even found the area beautiful and welcoming when it was buried in three feet of snow. I caught a glimpse of spring’s beginnings during my April visit and by the time the girls and I visited for Memorial Day, the splendor of spring was in full bloom! I don’t live there (yet) but I know New England’s charm remains through all types of weather.

 

Plum Island beach

Plum Island Beach, MA

The beautiful color on Lake Gardner in Amesbury, Massachusetts

The beautiful color on Lake Gardner in Amesbury, Massachusetts

The deep snow in Amesbury, MA after a February 2014 storm

The deep snow in Amesbury, MA after a February 2014 storm

Spring flower boxes in downtown Amesbury, MA

Spring flower boxes in downtown Amesbury, MA

Girls playing on the beach at Salisbury Beach State Reservation

Girls playing on the beach at Salisbury Beach State Reservation, MA

My plans for my upcoming trip are flexible as always and I tend to go wherever the fancy strikes me. There’s the 16th Annual Amesbury Chamber of Commerce Block Party on Thursday, 6/26/14 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. that I’ll definitely be attending and a variety of other happenings around town I might investigate. I also think I’ll venture into Boston this trip since I haven’t been into the city solo since November of 2011. That first trip to Boston inspired me to write and publish my first e-book New England Adventures: Boston, MA and was the beginning of what has become an amazing and ongoing chapter in my life. I can only imagine what another solo journey will bring!

The conviluted walking route I took during my first visit to Boston

The convoluted walking route I took during my first visit to Boston, MA

I’m planning another visit in July and then August brings a huge first: the first time I’ve had the girls for a whole week of vacation since the divorce. I’m indescribably excited about spending that much time together! We’ve rented a cottage on Plum Island that comes complete with bikes and kayaks and we can even bring Jazz! The drive there is going to be unforgettable I’m certain as I fit an entire circus in my little Matrix but I know we’ll all have fun!

Before the fun for my upcoming trip can begin though I have to finish my freelance work so off I go! Is it Wednesday yet??

Bountiful Birthday Happiness

Cards from the girls and picture by Jordan

Cards from the girls and picture by Jordan

Yesterday was my 37th birthday. That’s right, I’m not ashamed to admit my age! It’s just a number anyway. I believe that you’re only as old as you feel and most of the time I still feel somewhere between 16 and 21. My body disagrees with me sometimes but eventually we reach a happy middle ground.

After I got my freelance writing done for the day, I took Jazz for a walk and then worked on a beading project. My friend from Japan was kind enough to feed my beading addiction with a large gift of Miyuki delica seed beads and they’d been calling my name!

These are like priceless treasure to me!

These are like priceless treasure to me!

Jaycie wants to give her teacher an owl pendant so I’ve been trying to create one. I’m starting attempt number 3 but that’s a story for a different day.

Owl pendant first attempt

Owl pendant first attempt

As per the divorce agreement, my ex and I each get my daughters on our birthdays and I was quite happy to have them on an afternoon and evening when they’d usually go their father’s. I picked Jordan up from school, we grabbed a few groceries, went home to relax for a bit and then headed out to school again to pick up Jaycie. By 4pm, I had a full house with my girls, my mom and our circus of animals.

I made my own birthday dinner which was fine by me. I enjoyed grilling out on the nice day and watching the birds go about their business. My local hummingbird strongly approves of my homemade nectar and frequented my feeder multiple times yesterday, much to my delight! He’s getting more used to me because he now comes to the feeder hanging on the swing even when I’m sitting in the swing. I haven’t been able to take any good pictures yet, but I will eventually!

For dessert we had ice cream cake which was delicious! Jaycie ate her entire piece for the first time instead of only eating the vanilla ice cream part. I nearly licked my plate but managed to resist. After dessert, the girls gave me their presents which consisted of two beautiful Audubon Bird Society cards with hand-written messages and a colored pencil drawing by Jordan of a few of my favorite birds. I felt so very blessed and filled with happiness! Nothing compares to a handmade, heartfelt gift from the ones you love.

Loving birthday wishes from the girls.

Loving birthday wishes from the girls.

Yesterday flew by so fast it was dark before I knew it! I feel the days will continue such a quick pace as summer nears and I embark on further adventures. At the end of this month I return to Amesbury, MA just in time for Amesbury Days, the event that marked my first official visit to the city/town last year. I can’t believe it’s been a year already! I really must find that slow motion button on life someday…

The Perfect Meal at Crave Brasserie & Wine Bar

Crave Brasserie & Wine Bar, Amesbury, MA. Photo courtesy of Crave

When I’m at my home in Upstate NY I usually make all my own meals and don’t eat out a lot but when I head up to New England for one of my trips, I splurge on delicious food. My hotel room usually has a microwave and fridge but as my trips are mini vacations, living off frozen dinners really doesn’t appeal. I love freshly made and delicious food and it’s  always a bonus when someone else makes it for me.

As detailed in my blog post A chilly evening stroll in Amesbury back in April, I spent my first evening in New England wandering Amesbury during my last trip. I was quite cold after walking around and the aromas from Crave Brasserie & Wine Bar pulled me in on the way back to my car. I went inside the restaurant with its cozy illumination and reveled in the feeling of warmth seeping back into my body. I was seated at a four chair table by the windows and happily took my coat off as the chill left my skin.

I ordered coffee to wake up a bit and further thaw out and then began looking over the menu. They had an extensive wine and beer list but as I had to drive home after dinner, I couldn’t indulge in any such spirits. My waitress was very friendly and helpful and everything I ordered came in perfect time. I was the only person there alone that I saw but I’m quite used to that by now and settled in to enjoy the atmosphere and food.

Interior of Crave. Photo courtesy of Crave.

As an appetizer, I ordered the Crispy Tomatoes and Wolf Meadow Farm Mozzarella because I loved the mozzarella I had during Wolf Meadow Farm’s grand opening during my previous visit.

Crispy Tomatoes with Wolf Meadow Farm’s mozzarella. Photo courtesy of Crave.

The tomatoes were flavorful, warm and had just the right amount of crisp to go with the delectably soft and creamy mozzarella and I cleaned my plate rather quickly!

For my main meal I ordered the Seared Sea Scallops because I love scallops and hadn’t had any in a while. When the entrée arrived on a nice rectangular serving plate, it looked almost too good to eat!

Seared Sea Scallops. Pic taken on my phone

Seared Sea Scallops. Pic taken on my phone

I forced myself to mar the perfect display in order to eat the food and they were the most divine scallops! Melt in my mouth, full of flavor, cooked perfectly and superbly complimented by the savory creamed corn and roasted potatoes. I didn’t quite clean that plate because I was growing full and wanted to leave room for dessert. There was a fridge back in my room but no microwave so taking leftovers home wasn’t feasible that trip.

To finish the amazing meal off, I ordered the Flourless Chocolate Torte for dessert. It came on a nice round plate with a scoop of ice cream on top and it’s bewildering to me that such sweet, divine and delectable chocolate heaven fit in that simple plate!

Flourless Chocolate Torte. Pic taken on my phone.

Flourless Chocolate Torte. Pic taken on my phone. I nearly licked the plate!

It was absolutely the best form of chocolate dessert I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating! It was like a warm brownie kicked up to the max of chocolate decadence and I devoured it, only to be quite dismayed that it was gone.

I was pleasantly full by the time I was done and glad that I’d finally treated myself to a superb meal at Crave Brasserie & Wine Bar. I highly recommend the restaurant to anyone in the vicinity of Amesbury and to anyone in the world! It’s just one of the many fine dining establishments in Amesbury, MA and definitely one I’ll be returning to on future visits! Why are you still reading this?? It’s Friday night, go to Crave and eat some bewilderingly delicious food!

A chilly evening stroll in Amesbury

looking downtown

I arrived at my hotel in Seabrook, NH at around 4:30 p.m. and was quite happy I hadn’t had to drive through any freak winter storms and minimal bumper to bumper traffic. It was a clear and sunny day if a bit cold and it felt wonderful to be back in New England!

After I unloaded my car and settled in my room, I took a shower and changed into fresh clothes because I felt like I’d been born in the clothes I wore for the drive. My next move was to decide what to do next. The first idea that popped into my mind was to go to the Amesbury Town Park and investigate the new playground I’d read about on Facebook. I don’t think I’ve gone on a trip to New England yet without my first destination being Amesbury. You might ask why I stay in Seabrook when I love Amesbury so much. The truth is that the only hotel in Amesbury is well outside my budget, so I stay just across the border in New Hampshire.

I arrived at Amesbury Town Park (a place I’d visited three times previously) and parked by the skateboard courts. I walked over to the new playground and found it quite nice! I’m definitely going to bring my daughters to play there during our upcoming summer vacation.

View of the new playground

View of the new playground

 

I then wandered into the grove of trees by the pond in the park and walked around the disc golf baskets to reach the central gazebo building. I imagine the gazebo was quite lovely in its prime but it’s a bit worn down looking and the pillars are covered with graffiti. I understand it must be difficult to maintain a building so open to the public like that but I still found it pretty.

Looking out from the gazebo

Looking out from the gazebo

After a walk around Amesbury High School to see that it was bigger than the entire K-12 school where I live in NY, I returned to my car and drove into downtown Amesbury. I parked in my usual public parking lot by Crave and walked into town. I love the birdhouses hung outside Greenery Designs and when I stopped and looked up, there were two sparrows acting as sentries on the shepherd hooks over the main door. I was able to take a picture of one on his hook but the other flew off before returning and settling atop one of the birdhouses.

Bird sentry one.

Bird sentry one.

Bird sentry two

Bird sentry two

I walked up Main Street but as it was almost 7 p.m., most of the stores were closed. Today is Thursday and several of the stores are open later into the evening so I’m certain I’ll get some shopping in. I did my usual rounds of the town and tried to take pictures of areas I haven’t before. I couldn’t resist taking photos of Powwow River Falls though and noting that there are less ducks there now than there were during my last visit in February.

I understand the reasons behind closing the Gallery but it still makes me sad.

I understand the reasons behind closing the Gallery but it still makes me sad.

Parke Place Boutique and Attentif' Design

Parke Place Boutique and Attentif’ Design

looking downtown2

So much character in downtown Amesbury

No. 8 opening soon!

No. 8 opening soon!

Sign in the Fiddlestix Toys window. I sure hope so!

Sign in the Fiddlestix Toys window. I sure hope so!

The water was moving so fast it's a blur on my camera!

The water was moving so fast it’s a blur on my camera!

raging rapids

Far less ducks than before. I'm sure they've found new homes.

Far less ducks than before. I’m sure they’ve found new homes.

After my chilly evening stroll around Amesbury, MA, I was feeling more content and quite cold! I was wearing my winter coat and gloves but apparently my blood has already been thinned by the few days of almost 80 degree temperatures we had in NY. I decided it was past time for dinner and I really needed to thaw out so I walked back toward my car. The mouth-watering aromas from Crave reached me and my feet steered me toward the door of the restaurant. I had a great meal, made a pig of myself and will save that story for a later post…

Answering the Amesbury question

This gallery contains 12 photos.

Usually when I meet someone new in Amesbury, MA during my visits and they learn I’m from Upstate NY they’re quite surprised and often ask what brings me to Amesbury. I’ve fallen in love with Amesbury because it’s so much lovelier than where I live. There’s far more plentiful opportunities for entertainment, business, recreation, dining […]

From ugly duckling to clumsy swan

I imagine many people go through an ugly duckling phase at some point in their lives. Not me though. I didn’t go through a single ugly duckling phase…I went through many!

I think I was a pretty cute little girl until about the age of 12. That’s when I first got glasses, a perm and started to get a bit rounder in all sorts of areas.

I don't think my outfit was helping my case...

I don’t think my outfit was helping my case…

I had the “pleasure” of enduring all sorts of lovely nicknames during that stage including “Feefee” “Blondie” (for the curly hair) and worst of all “Misery” after Kathy Bates in the movie Misery. Fortunately, I started horseback riding when I was 13 and that, along with puberty being nice to me, helped me blossom into an attractive young woman.

My senior ball which also happened to be my 18th birthday.

My senior ball which also happened to be my 18th birthday.

My lowest weight was 128 pounds when I was 18 and even then, I still felt like the awkward, overweight girl from my past. I gained weight after high school and was around 160 when I got married at 21. During the first few years of married bliss, I pretty much ate anything I wanted, didn’t exercise and I gained another 20 pounds. A healthy weight for my height of 5’5″ inches is between 114-144 pounds (114?? Seriously?!) so I was overweight and didn’t wear it well.

I was around 180 when I got pregnant with Jordan and to me, pregnancy was the perfect time to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted! I was around 220 when I gave birth and that definitely wasn’t all baby weight!

Over a year after having Jordan. I was around 200 pounds

Over a year after having Jordan. I was around 200 pounds

 

I knew I wasn’t a healthy weight and I wasn’t happy with my appearance but I didn’t have the energy or desire to try losing weight. I’m not an athletic person and I hated gym class growing up so the idea of exercise didn’t thrill me. I tried diet pills and shakes, anything that didn’t involve breaking a sweat or changing my diet but those things never work, no matter what the stupid commercials say.

My wake up call came when my father had his first stroke. He’d had diabetes for years but wasn’t taking it seriously. He didn’t eat right and he didn’t exercise and one horrible day when Jordan was still a toddler, he had a stroke. Seeing that happen to my father and watching what it did to him was sad and terrifying. I knew that if I didn’t get my rear in gear, the same thing could happen to me. I didn’t have diabetes and still don’t but I was at a higher risk for it being obese.

As I’ve said in previous posts, I worked out twice a day to DVDs and changed my diet to lose over 40 pounds. I kicked, punched, walked, jumped, weight lifted and did step aerobics until I got down to a healthier weight. I learned to be okay with sweating and I discovered that the more I worked out, the better I felt and the less I wanted to shove unhealthy food in my mouth. I put weight on again when I was pregnant with Jaycie and went through yet another ugly duckling phase, though this one was shorter because I knew how to take the weight off.

Shortly after Jaycie was born.

Shortly after Jaycie was born in July, 2006.

Still one of my fave pictures. October, 2010

Still one of my fave pictures. October, 2010

I’m still not at my goal weight of 140 pounds. I’ve been stuck at 155 for a few years now and according to all those lovely BMI calculators and height and weight charts, I’m overweight. As I think is true of a lot of people who were once heavier, quite often I still feel like that “fat girl” I see when I look at old pictures. I can’t compete with today’s skinny standards and while I know I’m beautiful, sometimes my belief falters.

When Ed Justen from Workspace 36 asked me at the Wolf Meadow Farm grand opening event in February if I’d model for him to help him with his photography portfolio, I immediately and enthusiastically said yes! It wasn’t because I have a big ego, it was because I was thrilled that someone thought I was attractive enough to model. I’d done several at-home photo shoots but the idea of someone else taking my picture sounded like much more fun!

The photo shoot for Koobis Photography & Media was fun and helped remind me that I’m a pretty darn attractive woman. While I’m still not at my goal weight, I do know that I’m not an ugly duckling anymore. Considering the number of times I trip over air pockets, stumble into walls, slip on ice, whack my head on car doors and that I even bonked my head on the stair railing during the photo shoot, I’m more of a clumsy swan these days…

One of the many photos taken by Ed Justen

Clothing springs to life at Parke Place Boutique!

Parke Place Boutique, Amesbury, MA

Parke Place Boutique, Amesbury, MA

As winter finally makes its way out of New England, it’s time to freshen up the wardrobe and bring in new spring colors, patterns and materials. Parke Place Boutique on 42 Main Street, Amesbury, MA is just the place to do that! With new items arriving almost daily, this lovely shop has everything you’re looking for to prepare for warmer weather. Shorter sleeves, skirts and lighter weight pants are exactly what’s needed to prepare you for the spring renewal we’ve all been waiting for!

Beautiful bright spring colors on the racks!

Beautiful bright spring colors on the racks!

Parke Place Boutique offers a shopping experience in a relaxed atmosphere. Their selection of fine women’s clothing is expertly arranged so you can find exactly what you’re looking for and more. From pants to skirts, sleeveless tanks to long sleeve tunics, you can update your wardrobe to layer for early spring’s unpredictable temperatures. When the weather truly turns warm, it’s time to revel in bare arms with tanks, camisoles and short-sleeve shirts and blouses. Everything in the store is soft, touchable and presented in a way to help you coordinate each piece into numerous fashionable outfits.

One of the best features of Parke Place Boutique is the large selection of clothing Made in the U.S.A. Seeing that tag on high-quality clothing is a welcome sight and a luxury in today’s society. People have grown far too accustomed to mass-produced, low quality big box department store clothing and there’s no reason to settle for inferior merchandise. Investing in quality clothing and modern fashions from Parke Place Boutique increases the versatility and longevity of everything in your closet.

An entire rack of clothing Made in the U.S.A.

An entire rack of clothing Made in the U.S.A.

Whether you’re in Amesbury, MA for a local event, to sample cuisine at one of the fine restaurants, or just out for a stroll, stop into Parke Place Boutique and enjoy a shopping experience that’s sophisticated, comfortable and on the pulse of both the latest clothing trends and the most timeless of fashions.

Attention to details at Attentif’ Design!

Attentif' Design front window

Image courtesy of Attentif’ Design Facebook page.

If you can walk by the window of Attentif’ Design and not notice it, you’re missing a unique shopping experience. The thoughtfully designed front window displays of this shop at 44 Main Street in Amesbury, Massachusetts are designed to grab attention and invite shoppers inside. The latest photo on Facebook of their front window display is proof of how eye-catching their designs are and why you need to step inside, have a look around and acquire whatever strikes your fancy.

There are always so many beautiful things to see in Attentif’ Design that it’s hard to decide where to look first. The store displays are creatively arranged to guide you through the store as your eyes drift across the lovely wares. Owner and interior designer, Kathi Gannett displays items in such a way that it helps you envision them set out neatly in your home. Displays are done by theme, object, color and even purpose and grouped so well that it feels as though you’re touring someone’s well-designed home instead of a shop.

I adored this romance-themed display during my last visit.

Romance-themed display.

Everyone’s interior decorating tastes are different and Attentif’ Design acknowledges that by having a bit of everything for everyone. Throw pillows are an easy, affordable and quick way to change the look of a couch, chair or window seat and there’s a nice variety inside the store. A pillow featuring a key design adds an antique touch and a brightly colored flower patterned pillow freshens up the living room couch with spring blooms.

Coveted key pillow.

Attentif’ Design features items made by local residents, including cutting boards quite capable of standing up to the abuse kitchen tools endure. The cutting boards are durable, sturdy, well-made and crafted with attention to detail and quality of work.

Blockhead Cutting Boards

Blockhead Cutting Boards

There are items in Attentif’ Design for homes of any square footage, from small detailed touches like jars, candles and figurines to larger pieces such as lamps, end tables and ottomans. When space is at a premium in a home, black and gold folding tray tables are a creative solution. The high rim of the tabletop prevents items from falling off. The table can remain set up as decoration or unfolded for extra surface area when needed. Truly a stunning addition to any interior design!

The folding black and gold tray tables.

Folding black and gold tray tables.

Attentif’ Design does custom orders of items and owner Kathi Gannett is happy to work with customer’s ideas and requests. She offers interior design services and judging by her store, there’s no denying the quality of her work. Attentif’ Design is open later hours on the third Thursday of every month, which allows people more time to shop and view the seemingly endless decorative, beautiful and functional items for sale inside this unique store.