Boston, You Had Me at Hello.

Shortly after posting about my less than desirable experience with New York City, I had many ask me about our time in Boston.  I have expressed, probably more times than necessary, that I loved every minute I spent walking the historic streets of Boston, but I never really articulated what, specifically, stole my heart.

Honestly, before going, I was absolutely terrified I wouldn’t like Boston.  I felt a sense of pressure because it is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for years and had created this dreamy painting in my head.  Plus, being committed Bruins fans, to cheer for the team, but not for the city would surely be a shame.

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We arrived in town mid-afternoon and big beautiful snowflakes were softly falling from the sky.  As the cab drove us from the airport to our hotel I craned my neck to look out at the brownstone buildings as they blurred past the taxi cab’s windows.  Our first view was already promising.

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Knowing we were touring a walking city, we planned to explore much of it by foot.  We walked the Freedom Trail, soaking in the history throughout the cobble stone streets.  We wandered in and out of quaint little stores and planned our lunches around the sandwich shops close by.

Speaking of sandwiches, we’re big fans of a great sandwich and Boston takes the trophy on this one.  If you’re in the neighbourhood, grab lunch at Sam Lagrassa’s.  I’ll pay for your sandwich if it isn’t one of the best things you’ve ever tasted.  Trust me, it’s that good.

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This sequence of photos makes me nose-snort-laugh every time I view it!

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Ok, so after sandwiches, the next thing you need while in Boston, is beer.  My recommendation is to take the bus out to Harpoon Brewery, grab a seat at one of the long wooden tables, and order a pretzel and a flight.  Also, once the pretzel shows up you’ll quickly realize you won’t want to share, so don’t (aka – ensure everyone has one of their own).  Your relationship with your travel mates will be saved by this tip.

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Aside from delicious sandwiches and great local beer, Boston has many other incredible things to offer.

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The brownstone buildings filled the frames of many of the images I took and I loved getting lost among the headstones in the burial grounds behind nearly every church.  The organ music we were greeted with while touring Trinity Church still causes goose bumps to cluster on my arms when I think about it, and the boats gently swaying on the waves made me want to stay, never to return to my prairie home.  If they would have allowed it, I would have set up camp in the Boston Public Library, and offered to work for free for the remainder of my life in exchange for a permanent space under the green glass lamps.  The people were kind and helpful, the city inspiring, and the experience, unforgettable.  It is a vibrant old city with all of the big city highlights and small-town charm.  I’m still on a high from our time there and Boston has earned a well-deserved and permanent spot at the top of ‘favorite cities visited’ list!

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New York – I find you particularly mediocre.

After spending time in Boston and falling head over heels in love with everything the beautiful historic city has to offer, New York had a lot to live up to.  However, before boarding the train to the Empire State, I had a pretty good feeling that it may not be on the top of my ‘must return to’ list.  I tried with all I had, to give it a fair chance and approach the city with an open mind.  New York, had other plans.

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I understand the appeal; the bright lights, the shopping, the arts, the adventure.  I strive for a slower pace though.  So, when Mr. T. and I planned our short adventure out to New York, I feel I had a relatively accurate expectation formulated in my mind.  The shows were absolutely incredible, the streets felt safe(ok, this one I was a little surprised by), the cheesecake was decadent, and the shopping, expensive.  However, there were a few things that I didn’t anticipate.  The first being the smell.  I’m still lacking the vocabulary to describe this one to you.  Something hot, rotting, and absolutely vile.  Our first endeavor with the New York City subway tested our nostrils… and stomachs.  Fortunately, this seemed to be where the worst of the smell stemmed from, but it definitely wasn’t our last encounter with it.

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The second bit of New York trivia I was not informed of prior to our trip was just how dirty the city is.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not typically one to get my mind running crazy with thoughts of the number of germs crawling on every surface, by my goodness we went through a LOT of hand sanitizer while visiting the city.  Mind you, we earned our right to feel this way… a few days into our visit, we returned to our hotel room from a long day of walking and shopping and Mr. T. plopped down on the bed to take off his shoes and relax.  I glimpsed the bottom of his runners – normally florescent yellow, were now heavily smeared with bright red and accents of lumpy brown.  To this day we still have no idea what he stepped on and I’m not sure I want to know, but his shoes were immediately quarantined to a plastic bag and disinfecting showers were had by all.

2014-04-16_0002Maybe our mistake was ending this trip with New York opposed to starting it there.  Or possibly, I gave my whole heart to Boston and couldn’t handle the guilt of cheating on my new lover.

2014-04-16_0003In all honestly, I would love to return to take in a few more shows, buy cheap seats for a baseball game and gather the courage to try a street hotdog.  I just need some time to clear my nostrils and possibly update my tetanus shots.

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Goals – 2014

Most people do their New Year’s Resolutions post on January 1st… so I’m a little bit behind.  Honestly, I was kind of scared to make this post.  By writing these things down and committing them to the unforgiving expanse that is the internet means I’m allowing others to hold me accountable to these goals.  And, for the first time in a long time, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to accomplish my goals.  But gosh darn it, I’m going to try!

We’ll begin with, what I hope, is my most attainable goal.

I desperately want to get to a point where I’m able to read 100 novels in one year.  In an effort to get to that point I’m bumping last year’s goal of 50 novels up to 65 for 2014.  I’ve been tracking my progress on my Goodreads account.  If you’re on there, please add me as a friend and join in the journey!

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I’m a workaholic.  This isn’t necessarily a good thing.  Because November is my birthday month (the big 30 this year, eck!) and it’s also NaNoWriMo, as a gift to myself and a celebration of my birthday, I’m going to save up for the rest of the year so that I can take most or all of November off to participate in 2014’s NaNoWriMo.  This is a scary one for me for a number of reasons.  1. I have no idea what I’m getting myself into.  2. I do not have a game plan, with my novel-to-be or how I’m going to make this happen.  I’m not even sure what I’m going to write about?  3. What if I don’t finish, or what if my novel sucks (realistically, it probably will, but what if it REALLY sucks?).  Wish me luck with this one!

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Get active!  I want, so badly, to start running again, take a yoga class, play floor hockey with my husband.  All of it.  I used to run, every single day and I miss it more than I can tell you.  I always allow my job to take over and never make time for me, to make time to do the things I love.  I know it’s important, so I’m going to start making that time.  I need to.

Shoot more film.  I love my film cameras and love shooting film.  I learned the art of photography using an old 35mm Pentax camera and I miss it.  Again, it always feels like life is moving too quickly to slow down and take the time to shoot a few rolls of film.  I really want to add film as an ‘add on’ to my photography packages and in order to do that, I need to start shooting it more often!

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Strive to learn and grow as an artist.  I never want to stop learning, growing, and challenging myself so I always add this goal to my yearly list.  The first steps I’ve made with this goal this year is to book myself a space in Sam Hurd’s workshop in Chicago this summer.  He is an INCREDIBLE photographer and I can’t believe I’m finally going to have the opportunity to spend a day with him, learning his creative ways.

So, that’s my list for this year!  Feel free to hold me accountable, ask me how I’m making out with these goals, or pester me for slacking off!

Update!

It has been nearly a year since my last post.  It’s ridiculous, really.  I have been busy with work and life, but I miss blogging.  I miss writing for me.  I miss sharing my photos and adventures!  So, I’m going to catch you up with what has been going on over the last ten months and then we’ll try this personal blogging thing again 🙂

In 2013 I…

*Photographed 18 weddings and over 200 portrait sessions!  Honestly, I’m not even quite sure how that’s possible, but my records say it happened so it must be true.  Interested in looking through a few of those weddings or sessions?  You can check them out on my site here: Ali Lauren Creative Services

*I said goodbye to my dear sweet bunny and had a tattoo done in her honor.

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Still needs a bit of work in this image, but it’s completed now 🙂

 

*I traveled overseas for the first time with Mr. T. to Dublin, Ireland.

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*I was published by these guys: Lemonade and Lenses!  I had another article published with them in January and have a third coming out in the March issue 🙂

*I was asked to join the team at City Slicker.  I’ve been writing for them for a few months now and I feel extremely fortunate to have joined such a great team of people.

*I participated in a handful of art shows and was asked to join the crazy talented team at the What Women Show for the Red Carpet photography.

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*We dropped everything and bought three tickets to game 5 of the NHL playoffs!  My Dad is a Blackhawks fan and we love the Bruins so it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

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*I crossed the two final bands off of my ‘Must See’ list 🙂  Great Big Sea and Sir Paul McCartney.  I cried at both concerts.

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*I drove in a vehicle for 70 hours with my Mom, Dad, and Uncle, to shoot my cousin’s wedding just outside of Alaska.  It was worth every long minute of the drive!  You can view the wedding photos I shot while there on my website here!

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*The CFL team Mr. T. works for, the Roughriders, won the Grey Cup!!!

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Us trying, and failing horribly at taking a self-portrait with the cup!

*We brought another fuzzy bum into our family.  We adopted a Staffordshire Terrier named Anglea Lansbury.  Jelly, for short.

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And, just for good measure, a really funny picture of Gertrude to make you smile!

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With that, I think you’re caught up on some of the major events since we last spoke.  I truly do miss this space so I’m doing my best to pencil ‘blogging’ into my work schedule, which hopefully means you’ll be seeing more of me 🙂

 

 

Howth, Ireland

One of the very first times I dipped my toes in the ocean was on a trip to Prince Edward Island.  I fell in love with the water, the boats, the seafood, and yes, even the seagulls.  The scent of salt on the air was comforting and I, so desperately, wanted to call the East coast, ‘home’.

On our recent trip to Ireland, we planned a quick adventure out to see the ocean.  We spent the morning exploring the quaint little coastal village of Howth.  Seconds after setting foot on the damp pavement, I spotted a sign for a used book sale and knew it would be a great morning.  After feeding my weakness and purchasing many smelly old books I don’t really need, we wandered around the water’s edge and watched some of the fishing boats come in.  The breeze was heavy with the scent of fish, attracting seals into the harbor.  We have a fantastic video of the fishermen feeding the begging seals as they were unloading their boats.

We stayed in the village for an amazing lunch of fresh seafood before heading back to Dublin.  Our morning in Howth definitely tops the list of one of my favorite stops while visiting Ireland!

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