Fall Festivities at King Richard’s Renaissance Faire

“So I found this LivingSocial deal…” said my friend, and that’s how this adventure got started. She found a deal that offered reduced admission to King Richard’s Renaissance Faire in Carver, MA. I’ve never been before, but as it turns out, there is a whole medieval village hiding in the woods South of Boston!
This was the most fun I’ve had people-watching in a while! It’s highly recommended that you dress up, and don’t forget to wear comfy boots 🙂 Bring some cash that you can exchange for food tickets and be prepared for a day full of jousting, practicing your archery skills, engaging in traditional fair games, riding somewhat questionable-looking wooden theme park attractions, purchasing herbs and potions, ogling really sharp swords (too pricey, who can afford these??), and general merriment.

At King Richard's Renaissance Faire

The jousting was fun to watch, especially when one of the four knights competing for the honors of winning the tournament for his king really poorly fell off his horse (the joust is staged). I also loved all the great costumes people were wearing, and how they helped put you in character.

At King Richard's Renaissance Faire

Unfortunately, the veggie food choices were a bit slim, but I had anticipated this and stashed a snack or two (shhhh, technically not allowed!).
We also attended a cat show, about which I had mixed feelings. They didn’t make the animals do tricks, they just showed them to “raise awareness” but I still feel that the cats would probably be happier hanging out in a more natural habitat. That being said, it was great to see a Bengal tiger and a snow leopard in real life!
In general, though, it was a fun day and I do think I might have to go again next year 🙂

At King Richard's Renaissance Faire

First round of apple picking

McIntosh apples on the tree

People, it’s Fall!
When I say this out loud, everyone start groaning, because no one wants to give up summer, but since Fall is such a short season in Boston, I treasure it. I love the cooler temperatures, Fall fashion with scarves and tall boots, covering up on the couch with hot tea or chocolate and a book, and driving up North for some leaf-peeping and apple picking.
Last weekend, we didn’t see any colorful foliage just yet, but we did find our first peck of seasonal McIntosh and Cortland apples — so yummy! Unfortunately, the orchard experienced some hail damage (noticeable pinky-finger-nail-sized bumps on the apples) but this doesn’t diminish the taste at all!
At home, I immediately emptied the bottom drawer of the fridge and filled it with the apples — if you don’t have a cold dark basement, that’s the best way to store them (in my opinion). Although I expect they won’t last long… 😀

First round of apple picking of the season!

Highland Cattle

Hanging out with Rusty and Sven

Goats and sheep at the petting zoo

Practicing Gratitude

Busy #bee #lavendar in #fostercity

Somehow, my summer was more stressful than I had anticipated. So I tried to hold myself to reflecting once a day on three things I am grateful for. It could be anything, from something that made me laugh that day, to something that made me feel lucky or appreciated, or something that made my day a bit easier.

And as it turns out, for every stressful moment, I found a few happy, peaceful, relaxed, or otherwise pleasant moments. You just need to notice them and give them the proper attention!

I’ve actually been doing this for a few year nows (since late July 2012!). I keep a Google calendar, but I know other people like to just write things down in a small book or an actual calendar. Me? I’m a digital person, although I see the appeal in the act of physically writing something down.

The rules are simple: reflect for a bit, and choose three or four items that made you feel grateful today. The idea is that by consciously focusing on something positive in your life, the negative doesn’t get a hold on you.

A nice side-effect: flipping back through the (virtual) pages of your gratitude journal is like reading a diary of only happy events in your life 🙂

Hiking Mt Cannon

Hiking Mount Cannon

My friend and her dog have been busy all summer: they are trying to tackle all 4,000 footers in New Hampshire on foot/paw!

Before she told me, I hadn’t even heard of this concept of “hiking all 4,000 footers” but apparently it’s a big thing — books have been written about it, and there are resources online detailing how to approach each of the 48 peaks.

Me? So far I’ve only hiked Mt. Monadnock, which is too short to count 😛

In an attempt to check of my first 4,000 footer, I joined my friend, two other girls, and Frisco the dog to hike Mt. Cannon 🙂

Mt. Cannon stats:

  • Considered “moderately difficult hike” by AMC
  • 4100 ft elevation
  • It took us 5.5 hours to hike up and down (this includes three longer breaks with snacks 🙂 )


  • Good thing we started hiking early at 8:30am, that means less crowded trails!
  • Hiking poles are helpful on the way down.
  • Bring a lunch, it tastes great on the summit!
  • Bring lots of water.

I would definitely like to hike more mountains in the White Mountains area, but unfortunately it’s a bit far from the Boston area. I slept over my friend’s place the night before so we could get an early start, because driving up the day of the hike would probably be very tiring. Another option would be to take a few days off and go camping somewhere closer to the mountains. I think I might as well start making plans, if not for this Fall, maybe next summer…!

Hiking Mount Cannon

Hiking Mount Cannon

Hiking Mount Cannon

Hiking Mount Cannon

Hiking Mount Cannon

Long Weekend in Montreal

The problem with the month of August is that there is no federal-holiday-inspired long weekend! So we decided to sacrifice two precious vacation days to make our own 🙂 We found an AirBnB and packed our bags to drive up to Montreal.

According to Google Maps, driving to Montreal from the Boston area should take only five hours. We took a scenic route through Burlington Vermont. We stopped for a great lunch and then made our way up to the border. Unfortunately, what Google did not factor in was the wait time at the border. Apparently, there was some sort of Canadian holiday week that was ending, so we stood in line with a large group of Canadian motorcyclists waiting for the border patrol to inspect our passports.

As soon as we crossed into Canada, our cell phone signal vanished! They must have installed cellphone jammers all along the border. Thankfully, our GPS system still worked, so we made it to our AirBnB no problem 🙂

As usual, our AirBnB was great! So far, we’ve really had good experiences with the service. However, if we ever go to Montreal again, I’d spend some extra money and live closer to the city center. It took us a bit over an hour of bus + train to get to the downtown area of Montreal, which wasn’t bad, but I think we could have been a bit more flexible had we lived closer.

A few highlights of Montreal we enjoyed:

Lachine Canal area (we got great Mexican food and a nice view)

Lachine CanalDowntown Montreal Downtown Montreal

Downtown MontrealA Chinese tea house — great vegan appetizers and so! much! tea! I wanted to move in. Chinese Tea House

Chinese Tea HouseA man-made beach :-] Manmade beach

Balloons over Rue Panet, a pedestrian no-cars-allowed street.

Rue PanetWatching the bakers make Montreal-style bagels by hand! (However, after tasting them, I still prefer NYC-style bagels) Baking Bagels

The Bagel Store


By the way, most of these sights we took in while on our guided bike tour. Montreal really is very bike-friendly, I was downright jealous! The bike tour, unfortunately, was on the slow side, so next time I’d probably just rent a bike for a day and explore on my own. A big plus, though, was that we definitely got to see “real” people living in Montreal, in their real residential neighborhoods — always a treat to get off the tourist-beaten path 🙂

Hiking close to home

Hiking in the Blue Hills Reservation

We had made plans to drive up to New Hampshire to go hiking last weekend. Unfortunately, as the weekend approached, the weather looked more and more iffy (possible thunderstorms!) so we spontaneously decided to go on a quick hike closer to home instead. That way, if they weather turned bad, we could just jump in the car and go home and spend the rest of the day curled up on the couch. Hiking in the Blue Hills Reservation

We decided to check out the Blue Hills Reservation, just a few miles South of Boston and were pleasantly surprised! The area contains 125 miles of trail and reaches a peak height of about 635 ft — nothing compared to what you can find in New Hampshire, but the proximity to the city makes it a worthwhile destination.

We only hiked a small 3 mile loop, but that involved some challenging climbs and rewarded us with views of the Boston skyline. Less than two hours later we got back to the car, and with temperatures creeping into the humid 90s, we decided to head back home towards a cool shower.

The rest of the day was spent in utter weekend summer laziness 🙂 This, I found, is another benefit of finding outdoor activities close to home: you have the rest of the day to devote to something else if you so choose.