explore Joshua Tree NP in 2.5 days

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you may have noticed that I recently embarked on an outdoor adventure that spanned 9 days and included 2 states (CA and AZ), 2 National Parks (Joshua Tree and Grand Canyon), 1 Peace Park (Sedona, AZ) and endless memories! I have SO many stories, recommendations and reviews to share with you all that I am going to dedicate one blog post to each of the three distinct parts of our trip 1) Joshua Tree, CA 2) Sedona, AZ and 3) Grand Canyon National Park. So here it goes... 

Blog post # 1: JOSHUA TREE, CA

Born and raised in the Northeast, I was mesmerized by the flat desert and hot temperatures (80-90 degrees) that Joshua Tree provided in late March/early April. The vegetation (cactus and Joshua trees) was extremely different than what I am used to but I have to say ... I LOVE being able to see miles and miles around me as a result of minimal vegetation and elevation. Not only are you able to see EVERYTHING but it immediately makes me realize how vast our beautiful country is and that we are just a small piece that inhabits it. It's that feeling of being just a small "ant" among the world that draws me to the outdoors. It quickly puts life in perspective and makes me appreciate even more all that surrounds us should we wish to seek and experience it. 

Matt and I had just 2.5 days in Joshua Tree so it was essential that we planned ahead to see, eat and hike everything we wanted to. Below is overview of our days in the park and local spots we explored in addition to reviews. I hope you enjoy and happy trails in Joshua Tree surrounded by the "Tree of Life"! 

Love, Abby


Day 1: western side of Joshua Tree NP

  • Parked at Hidden Valley Nature Trail lot and hiked Hidden Valley Nature Trail (.8 miles).
    • This was a great, light warm up trail with beautiful introductory scenes of the park. Minimal elevation gain/loss so the trail was crowded but well marked. After hiking the initial ~.2 miles from the parking lot, the trail leads you between two massive boulders. Once through this point and on the other side of the boulders, the landscape opens up for miles and you witness the vast Hidden Valley where animals used to be kept and protected from intruders. 
  • Walked from Hidden Valley Nature Trail parking lot to Barker Dam Trail head
    • This walk was further than we thought (~1.5 miles) but if you have the time I recommend doing it. On the way, we saw Intersection Rock and watched climbers accent the face. Also, we were able to scope out Hidden Valley Campground, view the amenities and peruse the sites it offered for our next trip! :) 
  • Hiked Barker Dam Trail (1.2 miles roundtrip) immediately followed by Wall Street Mill (2.6 roundtrip with all stops)
    • These hikes start right next to each other which makes access easy. Both hikes are flat and short which made for lots of crowds but are well worth it and unique in their own way. Barker Dam trail is a loop and half way through there is a dam with water that has formed a small lake. Being in the desert I did NOT expect this and it was stunning. We sat on the rocks near the dam, had a snack, enjoyed the ducks that floated in the water and took in the views before finishing the trail. On our way back to the trailhead we stopped to view the Indian petroglyphs which were just .1 miles off the trail. This is well marked and extremely easy to access and view. 
    • Wall Street Mill trail was an out and back hike full of mine history and relics. At the main mine site, the structure is gated off but I recommend walking around the entire perimeter to take it in. I was amazed by the structures and it was hard to fathom how people not only got the equipment there but also worked in the desert conditions. While at this site we got lucky and saw 3 big horned sheep in the distance relaxing on boulders.  
  • Took the free park shuttle from this lot back to Hidden Valley and drove our car down Keys View Road to Lost Horse Mine Road where we parked to access the trail (we even picked up hitch hikers on the way who hiked some of this trail with us!). It is important to note that we chose to drive and park at the trailhead which reduced the overall mileage of this hike. We made a conscious effort to do this as we didn't want to burn out on Day 1 of our trip. Two things to note about this parking lot: 1) it is only accessible by a dirt road and its recommended you have 4 wheel drive (we rented a Nissan Rogue) and 2) there is very limited parking at this site so keep that in mind should you want to explore this area on the weekends and or peak times.
  • Hiked Lost Horse Loop Trail (5 miles roundtrip from parking lot)
    • If you hike this loop clockwise, the views and trail after the mine are breathtaking. This was our favorite hike at Joshua Tree due to the remoteness, views and moderate to difficult terrain. The terrain on this hike was very different than that of the previous trails we hiked in the morning. Lots of rock, more elevation and wildlife were present in this area.
  • Drove from Lost Horse Loop Trail to Keys View for Sunset 
    • Everything we read said that this sunset view was a must do and I couldn't agree more! Beautiful panoramic views from the top of Keys View made for an epic sunset. It was extremely crowded but I would recommend going at least once to witness it. Pro Tip: Don't forget to pack a tasty beverage so you can enjoy it during sunset (this is a must pack for us as we tend to be very active during the day and enjoy a refreshing beer at the end of the day!)

Day 2: eastern side of Joshua Tree NP

  • During our time at JT we rented an Airbnb just outside of the park's West Entrance off of Quail Springs Road. Our Airbnb was absolutely perfect and one of the benefits was its close proximity to the park (~4 miles) and downtown (~2). On Day 2 we drove from the West Entrance all the way to Cottonwood. This drive took ~1.5 hours and was very scenic. I was amazed at the different types of vegetation and landscape we drove through - everything from Joshua Trees to cholla cactus to ocotillo trees (my favorite!).   We did not stop anywhere along the way as we wanted to get in a long hike that day and scope out the stops for the way back that afternoon/evening. 
  • Once at Cottonwood we parked at the end of Cottonwood Oasis Road where the trailhead for Lost Palms Oasis (4.4 miles one way) was located. 
    • The first .7 miles of this hike are crowded as there are a few palm trees at the beginning and most people just hike to this point to witness them. After passing this point, the trail is extremely exposed and much less crowded. The trail is very well maintained, mostly flat (until you reach the lost palms canyon ~4 miles in) and very remote. There are some sections where you feel like your walking on beach sand and then you reach the hard packed desert soil which is a relief! Beach sand is tough to hike in! :) Once you arrive at Lost Palms Canyon its like your in a different world from the previous 4 miles. In this desert canyon stand HUGE palm trees that tower over everything. It looks as though they don't belong there but it was such a gorgeous scene so we found a rock, had lunch and enjoyed the views before setting back on the one-way trail. 
      • Because this trail is so exposed to the weather and heat I recommend hiking it either in the early morning or late afternoon. Bring lots of water and food as there are no services on the trail. 
    • As we made our way back to the car, we decided to extend the hike by taking Mastodon Peak Loop (1.4 miles) which intersects with Lost Palms Oasis. On the loop we summited Mastodon Peak - to access the peak we had to scramble up rocks to the top. Once at the top you had 360 degree views of the area. I highly recommend making this scramble if your comfortable on this terrain. The remainder of the loop was flat and easy all the way back to the car. 
  • Once at the car, we replaced our hiking shoes for flip flops (best feeling ever when you do this!) as we knew that was our last extensive hike of the day. We stopped at Cottonwood, filled up our water bottles, CamelBak and set off to Cholla Cactus Garden. The garden was very crowded since it's easily accessible off the main road (Pinto Basin Road) and has a well maintained, short path through the garden (~.2 miles). It was a nice, low key stop but I would not go again - once was enough with the crowds and there are cholla's all over the national park.  
  • After the garden we set back on the road, arrived at our Airbnb, showered and headed out for dinner and live music at Pappy + Harriet's. We had read online that this was a very popular spot so we arrived around 7:30pm, put our name in and finally got a table just before 9pm when they stop serving food. The atmosphere (indie, rustic, eclectic), food (local and fresh), drinks, people and music were great - I would recommend this place but do note that it gets very crowded and if your hungry the wait can be long but worth it! 


Day 3: ryan mountain, Joshua Tree NP

  • Unfortunately "all good things must come to an end" and on Day 3 we were leaving Joshua Tree and heading to Sedona, AZ. We knew this was going to be a long ride so we wanted to get in one last hike before hitting the road so we got up early (on the road at 7:30am) and drove to Ryan Mountain Trailhead which is ~30 minutes from the West Entrance off of Park Boulevard. 
  • Ryan Mountain was a 3.4 mile out and back trail that quickly gains elevation immediately from the parking lot. The trail is well maintained since it is highly trafficked but being on it early had its advantages included a summit all to ourselves! This trail was moderately difficult due to the steepness but the summit views are worth it. The summit is just over 5,400 feet and provides gorgeous 360 degree views which was a perfect way to end our time in Joshua Tree. On the way back down to the parking lot, we passed a lot of people heading up so I would recommend tackling this hike on "off hours" to avoid the crowds. 
  • After this hike we drove back to our Airbnb, showered, packed up and went to The Natural Sister's Cafe in downtown Joshua Tree for an early lunch. This Cafe is very small, offers outdoor seating and fresh, delicious food and smoothies. Matt and I each had a Vegetarian Burger (we aren't Vegetarian but they looked amazing!) and they were delicious. I really enjoyed this spot but it does get extremely crowded so I would avoid peak times if possible. 
  • After lunch, we walked the local farmers market and then got back in our rental car and headed to Sedona, AZ (~ 5 hours). Sedona is where blog #2 begins! 

If we had more time in joshua tree what would we have done? 

  • Geology Tour Road: You must have a 4 wheel drive vehicle for this Road but it gives you access to the backcountry and there is a lot of mining history to be found along the way. 
  • Integraton: This is an acoustically built structure that offers Sound Bath experiences. You must reserve a spot for the classes offered here weeks/months in advance. Unfortunately we did not learn about this until we arrived so we were unable to attend but I would go back to Joshua Tree just for this. In fact, we met 2 people at Pappy & Harriet's that drove from LA just to attend a class here. 

Reducing Food Waste

Hi Everyone! 

I am SO excited to share with you my first ever Vlog (video + blog)! I have always wanted to create this type of content and felt extremely compelled to do so this morning in my pajamas - ha! 

Today's Vlog was inspired by a book I recently finished called "The Yoga of Eating". I read this book as part of my Yoga Certification and it was a fascinating read that caused me critically to think about the food I consume. It's not just what you put in your body but this book got me to think about the entire process of that food - how is it raised, how it transported (to the grocery store, to your house) and ultimately how it is consumed and digested. Many of use take for granted the food that is accessible to us and its important to take a minute and recognize all that goes into its preparation. I am a firm believer that "we are what we eat" and this book reinforced that quote! 

After reading this book, I have made a conscious effort to evaluate where I can reduce waste in my life throughout the food process. This Vlog discusses two recent products I purchased to help attain this goal - reusable mesh grocery bags and food wraps! I hope you enjoy the vlog and if you have any waste saving go-to products comment below. 

Enjoy and Happy Eating! 

Abby xoxo

I recently finished the "Yoga of Eating" and it was a fascinating book that has caused me to take a step back and critically think about the food I consume. It's not just about the physical act of eating, but this book taught me to think about the entire food process.

striving for simplicity in 2018

The New Year naturally brings a time of reflection for most. Like many of you, I took time during the first few days of 2018 to reflect on the past year. While I am typically not a fan of odd numbers, 2017 was my most memorable to date. Not only was it my most challenging year both professionally and personally but it was also the most rewarding. From taking my first solo international trip, to road biking 192 miles with over 6,000 strangers, to having difficult conversations at work, I forced myself out of my comfort zone SO many times throughout the year.  While going out of your comfort zone is not an easy task, it ultimately made me stronger, happier and more confident. Not only did I learn a lot about myself but I also experienced people and places that I will NEVER forget and shaped where I am today. Speaking of today ... because of the risks (calculated of course - ha!) I took in 2017 I am writing this post from a new home, with a new boyfriend and with new memories that I will have forever. I couldn't be happier for how 2017 unfolded and can't wait to see what lies ahead. 

Now ... onto 2018! 

 

This year my focus is on simplicity - simplicity in my possessions, simplicity in what I consume (food, drink, entertainment) and simplicity in life. I chose this "theme" because last year I started to work on emotional self-care by reading Eckhart Tolle, meditating daily, practicing yoga, completing Five Minute Journal and listening to Abraham Hicks. As a result, I found I was more content, present and at ease with every aspect of my life. It is SO easy in today's society to go a mile a minute that we forget to stop, breathe and be thankful for everything that surrounds us - supportive family/friends, beautiful environment and endless opportunities to do what brings us joy and happiness. Through self-care I have found and now practice gratitude daily. Gratitude has allowed me to slow down and give thanks for the small things that we all take advantage of - clean air, fresh food and freedom. As a result of focusing on the basics I am slowly but surely removing things I don't need/want (TV, clothes, negative people, home decor, etc) and replacing them with what makes me happy. While I am thankful for all of the technological advancements that exist today, we can't forget that its the air we breathe, things we consume (media, food) and thoughts we think that allow us to live each day with purpose and positivity. My challenge to you this year is to live a more conscience and simple life. Thoughtfully choose the things (people, items, hobbies, food) you allow into your world and focus on the ones that bring you ultimate joy and happiness. Like Albert Einstein said, "any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex...it takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." Let's all become simple genius's in 2018.

Cheers to a great year ahead! 

Love, Abby xoxo

 

The #vanlife

Last week I had the opportunity to make one of my dreams a reality. To celebrate my 33rd birthday, my boyfriend (yes I am dating again and found myself a keeper!) rented a Volkswagen Westfalia ("westy") from Maine Campers in Eliot Maine. I have always been fascinated by the #vanlife.  I follow numerous Instagram accounts, read books and listen to podcasts about this way of living and what attracts me most to this lifestyle is the simplicity and adventure.

In today's society we over-complicate everything. Our homes are full of objects that may (or may not) be used regularly, our closets are full of clothes so we don't wear the same outfit twice a week and we can't go more than 5 minutes without an advertisement (billboards, radio/TV commercials) to buy something we don't need. While some of today's modern day technologies are nice to have (iPhone) if we strip them all away we don't need much to survive and we are surrounded by a beautiful world that provides an amazing playground should we take the time to explore it.

Speaking of explore ... that's exactly what Matt and I did. For 7 days we explored the coast of Maine (Schoodic Point to Freeport) out of a Westy! As you can imagine, there is NOT much room in a van so you are forced to bring only items that are useful and must-haves. That includes everything from clothes to food to supplies. Each item we packed, from a toothbrush to a sweatshirt had a specific purpose and spot within our home on wheels. While I am going to let Matt provide you with the details about our trip in a separate post (where we stayed, places to eat, things to see/do. etc.) there were a few items that we brought/bought along the way that were useful and at times bailed us out of what could have been tough situations. If you are planning to rent or buy a VW below are a few tips/tricks we learned along the way that may be helpful:

  1. Single Bottle-Top Propane Tank
    • Our first morning we ran out of propane mid breakfast/coffee making. Although we were able to find sticks, make a fire and finish breakfast/coffee over the fire pit, on our way to the next campground we purchased a single bottle-top propane tank. This came in handy multiple times throughout the week when we didn't feel like cooking in the van or burning through the 2.5 gallons of propane that are onboard a Westy. 
  2. Tent
    • Believe it or not we only slept in the van one night throughout the week rental - ha! Fortunately for us, the weather cooperated all week and we stayed multiple nights at the same place so we popped our newly bought tent (highly recommend it!) and broke it in! While it takes some work to set up a tent, rainfly and equip the inside with a blowup mattress and sheets, we found the extra space to be beneficial. This allowed us to have two very separate and distinct sections of our campsite; 1 for sleeping and the other for working/cooking. It may not seem like much but it made a difference so we didn't have to continuously set-up/breakdown the van into sleep/day mode. 
  3. WiFi
    • WiFi on this trip was a must have for both of us as this was not a vacation. We both had busy work schedules and while the iPhone "personal hotspots" came in handy, many campgrounds offer free WiFi. Each campground we stayed at had Wifi which allowed us to stay connected (at no extra charge!) to our careers (and family/friends).
  4. Firewood and Paper
    • While most campgrounds sell firewood, I highly recommend buying wood prior to arriving at camp. Not only will you find better prices but typically you will get "more bang for your buck". Each night, we went through ~ 1 bundle of wood while we shared stories, caught up on the day and had a beer/nip (so classy but a necessity while camping!). For the paper, we took extra copies of weekly ads that are available at the grocery store. Best part ... they are FREE! So if you are on a budget or don't have any more cardboard/paper to burn you can always get resourceful at a local market. 

I hope you find these tips/tricks helpful! As you can see from the above list, if you use existing resources and invest in necessary/space efficient items you don't need much. These items allowed us to make the same delicious pour over coffee, open faced breakfast sandwiches and nutrient rich dinners that we have at our homes on a typical week ( Side note ... I want to create a camping cookbook because we eat VERY well on the road - thats a post for another day!). 

If you ever have the desire to find your "inner hippie" I highly recommend renting a van from Jim at Maine Campers. It was an exceptional experience and a week I will never forget. Thank you to Jim for providing the transportation/sleeping accommodations and my boyfriend Matt for bringing a dream to life , creating an exceptional itinerary (including waterfront campgrounds) and sharing a week worth of memories that will last a life time. 

Although this was my first #vanlife experience it will not be my last.

Zucchini Bread

What do you do with a garden full of home grown zucchini's? Make delicious zucchini bread!

For the past 3 weeks I have been making 2 loaves of zucchini bread a week. Yes, this may seem like a lot but I don't want good vegetables to go to waste so I channeled my inner Betty Crocker and put them to use! I have zucchini bread in my house, my friends homes and in my freezer for a nice winter treat in 2018! 

Below is my "secret" recipe for YOU to try. The applesauce, cinnamon and brown sugar make this bread a moist and flavorful treat. And the best part ... you only need one big bowl for the entire recipe! 

Let me know what you think and if you make any changes be sure to share so I can try. Enjoy!


Zucchini Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of himalayan pink salt (namaste!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional) *I tend to add more because I like nuts and texture

Steps

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottoms of 2 (8x4 inch) loaf pans with cooking spray and/or butter
  • In large bowl, mix zucchini, applesauce, coconut oil, eggs, vanilla and sugar until well blended
  • Stir in all remaining ingredients except walnuts until well blended
  • Add walnuts last if you wish to have a "nutty" bread
  • Spoon batter into pans (and lick the spoon!)
  • Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes
  • Cut a piece and enjoy
  • If you want to freeze, I remove loaf from pan. Once fully cooled wrap tightly in aluminum foil and place in freezer bag

 

Why I Ride...

In just 18 days I will be participating in the Pan Mass Challenge (PMC). For those of you that are not familiar with the PMC, it is a bike-a-thon that raises money for cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. 100% of every dollar raised is donated to Dana Farber. Since the PMC started in 1980 the organization has raised over half-billion dollars for cancer research!

I look forward to this event every summer. For over 5 years, I have been volunteering for the PMC with my Mom. There are multiple sites where you can volunteer to support the over 6,000 riders that participate in the event, but our favorite spot is in Provincetown where we have the privilege of watching the riders cross the finish line (including my brother who has finished the race 9 times!). The energy at the Provincetown Inn finish line is hard to put into words. There are smiles, laughs, tears of sorrow and tears of joy. Unfortunately most people know someone or they themselves have been affected by cancer. The finish line is a celebration of life (past, present and future) where everyone comes together in hopes to find a cure. As I type this I get goosebumps thinking of the emotions that surround that day. It's SO special to be apart of it.

This year is an extra special PMC for me. It will be my FIRST year participating as a rider. My mom has a family wedding to attend during PMC weekend so I thought "if I don't have my volunteer buddy, I should ride". So just like that, I registered to ride the 2 day race from Sturbridge to Provincetown. Over the course of those two days I will bike 192 miles (yes you read that correctly ... one hundred and ninety-two miles!).

In addition to this year being my first as a rider, I have the privilege to ride with my brother and as the captain of Team Hologic (where I work!) This is the companies first year participating in the event and it was a natural fit since Hologic develops cancer prevention products for women's health. My hope is that this is the first of many year's Hologic participates in the event. 

I am dedicating my first year as a rider in the PMC to my Uncle Ken. My Uncle Ken passed away over 3 years ago to cancer. He was an AMAZING man whose life was unfortunately cut short by this awful disease. I will never forget his positive energy, polka moves and whoopie pie kisses. He truly was a one-of-a-kind individual who made an ever lasting impact on everyone's life he touched. 

Please help support me as I ride in this year's event. My goal is to raise at least $4,800. You can make a donation by clicking the link below. I appreciate your love and support. "Just keep pedaling!" 

How I hold myself accountable for exercise!

For me, exercise positively increases my physical and emotional state of being. It is my 30 to 60 to some days 90 minutes a day of "Abby time" where I focus on the workout at hand and let go of all the distractions that surround us each day. Like most of you reading this, there are days when I can get up at 5:30am without a problem and workout BUT then there are days when I have zero motivation and just want comfort food and my bed! To try and avoid the latter I have begun to journal my exercise patterns and it has been life changing.

I am one of those people that needs to write things down (hence the blog!) to get my thoughts in order and feel accomplished/focused. It was only natural that I took this approach with my workouts. I have a monthly calendar that sits open on my desk and each day, I write my workout on it (some days I don't write anything because a rest day is needed!). Not only does this allow me to track my workouts but it forces me to be accountable and GET MY BUTT OUTSIDE or TO THE GYM! There is a sense of accomplishment after a workout - I go to my home office, grab my felt pen (my favorite type) and write down what I did that day. It's an amazing feeling to put pen to paper because I know I just took time for myself to do something that makes me happy.  My favorite part is to look back at the previous day, week or month and see what I accomplished. This part is particularly important as I don't think we take enough time to acknowledge where we come from and what we accomplished. We should all take time to be proud of what we have done over the previous time period. Life is not easy so take time (even if it's only 2 minutes) to celebrate and acknowledge what YOU chose to do for yourself!

Whether you have a journal, a friend to text each day (I do this with my sister!) or write a quick note in your phone, write down your workouts so you can track progress and hold yourself accountable. 

Hope this tip helps and let me know what you think! 

P.S. - check out my inspirational quotes that surround my calendar. They are daily reminders I try to incorporate into each day. 

 

 Here is my April exercise journal. I have one of these for each month since August of 2016. 

Here is my April exercise journal. I have one of these for each month since August of 2016. 

What are your values?

Hello 2017! I can't believe its been 3 months since my last blog post. Time sure does fly by and I am ready to give you my first blog of the new year. I have to say, I prefer even numbers but I am so happy 2016 is behind me. Although 2017 is an odd number I am looking forward to what it has to bring and so far it has not disappointed! In less than two months I have traveled to 2 new cities (Dallas TX, Alexandria VA), celebrated my oldest niecest 14th birthday, skied Loon mountain and began dating. If this is any indication of what's to come I am looking forward to the rest of the year! 

So that is a VERY quick update on me - now onto the blog...

For a year and a half I have been a Jess Lively groupie! I found her podcast through a magazine article and after listening to just one episode I was hooked! Her positive outlook on life and relationships was contagious and exactly what I needed to get through 2016. 

Jess Lively is dedicated to helping people live from their intuition and values based intentions. At first, I had no idea what she meant by "intuition" and "values based intentions" but I am now incorporating both into each and everyday. After listening to countless episodes (currently 198 to be exact!) I began to get a sense for what these phrases meant and could resonate with her stories/topics. I decided to take it a step further and enrolled in her Fall 2016 Life With Intention Online (LWIO) class. This was a 4 week, online class with Jess and women from all of the world that had one thing in common ... "looking to transform our approach to life". I realize that most of you reading this right now are probably thinking "Abby is crazy" or "has she gone off the deep end" but this coarse taught me SO much about myself that I want to share it with you in hopes that it can give you a new perspective as you start 2017.

Each week during class, Jess gave us new content to review and homework to complete. Now I am not going to giveaway all her secrets but the most important takeaway was to focus my energy on living every aspect of my life with values based intentions. Although you may think this seems easy, it takes ALOT of work to identify what these values are and then deliberately act on them to ensure they are incorporated into each day. During the four week coarse I learned how to "peacefully accept reality and live in the present moment" (aka intuition) and identified the "things that are most important to me which bring fulfillment, joy, peace and are enduring (aka values). We started first by writing down our values for 4 aspects of our life; 1) possession 2) personal habit 3) relationship 4) career. These values were select words or phrases that captured what was most important to me. To give you an example, my values were:

  • Possession: Calm. Beautiful. Joy. Serenity.
  • Personal Habit: Healthy. Simple. 
  • Relationship: Positive. Loyal. Compassionate. Love.
  • Career: Flexibility. Creative. Balance. Financial Independence. 

Although it has been a few months since LWIO these values still hold true for me today. As my life continues to evolve they may change but for now they resonate with me. Once my values were selected, I created a simple sentence that included them to produce my "values based intentions". And here they are:

  • Possession: Create a calm and beautiful environment that exudes joy and serenity.
  • Personal Habit: Explore a healthy and simple life each day.
  • Relationship: Surround myself with positive, loyal and compassionate individuals who appreciate love
  • Career: Pursue a career that gives me the flexibility to be creative, financially independent and live a life of balance.

These values based intentions are my current mantras for 2017 and I can tell you that they are making a positive impact in my life. It is easy to get distracted in today's world but these intentions have forced me to take a step back and focus on what matters to me most. And when you do this for yourself, you become happier and as a result everything around you (work, relationships, etc.) does as well. This result is a by product of the "Law of a Attraction" which is a topic for another day! 

Now it's your turn. What are your values for each of the four aspects of your life? 

It's only appropriate to end this blog post like Jess Lively ends each podcast ...  "May something wonderful happen to you today"!

Source: http://abigailmscott.com/blog/values

How do the Outdoors make YOU feel?

The past month and a half has been full of travel which is both exciting and exhausting. I have been to Chicago, Atlanta and Orlando for work and although I had limited free time to explore I met some amazing people in the Gynecological industry across all three cities.

After busy work trips I always find myself coming home and wanting to connect with the outdoors. Being outside surrounded by nature revitalizes me. It forces me to slow down and be present which can be challenging in the fast past world we live in. Whether hiking, running, biking or going for a walk I crave the fresh air and beauty that surrounds us. It has a calming factor and puts life into perspective. 

I always wondered if others felt this way so I took to the internet in search of other like minded, outdoor females. In addition to following family and friends on Instagram, I follow a number of outdoor photographers and companies including REI, National Geographic, Yosemite National Park and Idle Theory Bus. It was through a post on Idle Theory Bus that I found She Explores. Rachel Goldberg from Idle Theory Bus was featured on the She Explores podcast. Rachel shared her journey about living with her husband James in their 1976 VW Kombi called Sunshine. Rachel and James travel North America and work out of Sunshine. I have always been fascinated by people that "live on the road" as it forces them to live a simple life and enjoy the small things. After listening to the episode and learning about the mission of She Explores I was hooked!  

She Explores is an online community for "Inquisitive Women in the Outdoors, on the Road, and Besides." The founder, Gail Straub (Boston native!) started the website for creative outdoor women to connect, inspire and empower one another. Her site features stories, photographs and artistry by females all over the world. In addition to the website, Gail started a podcast. I LOVE podcasts and find this type of content very easy to consume. I will play them in the car, at the gym or even in the background while cooking or doing chores around the house. 

In Gail's second episode she asked listeners to submit their answer to the question "How do the outdoors make you feel?". Because I have a passion for the outdoors, I wanted to participate. I submitted my answer via a voicemail and didn't think much of it. A few weeks later Gail sent me an email and said she would like to feature my submission on the upcoming podcast! I never imagined this would happen but couldn't be more excited to share my experiences with other outdoor females. You can listen to Gail, myself and other women on Micro Epsiode 3A

Enjoy the podcast and comment below on how the outdoors makes you feel!

Four Eyes!

Anyone that knows me, knows my love for a good pair of glasses. I feel that this necessary accessory (say those 2 words 10 times fast!) is an extension of my personality, so I am always looking for a fun, different frame to accompany me everyday. 

The one problem to fun, different frames is that they are typically expensive. Although I don't mind paying the extra money for something that brings me joy and I wear every day, I have been searching for a quality frame at an affordable price. That's when I found Warby Parker.

Warby Parker's objective is to offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses. Not only did the company vision speak to me but I liked their "buy a pair, give a pair" concept. Almost one billion people worldwide lack access to glasses, so the least I could do was try to help this population in my quest for my next frame! 

I took to WarbyParker.com and selected their "Home Try-On" program. I chose 5 frames from their website and had them delivered to my home. The process was convenient, easy and quick. 

 

Here is where I need your help ... 

 

Below are 5 selfies, each with a different Warby Parker frame. Comment below and let me know which selfie you like the best.

Four eyes for life!  

 

Source: www.abigailmscott.com/foureyes

A Farm to Table Dinner Experience

Because I am in denial summer is coming to an end, I wanted to re-live one of my favorite dinners from Summer 2016 with you. 

As a health conscious individual and advocate for "buying local", a farm to table dinner was right up my alley! After running by Peppers Fine Catering on my way to the gym one evening, I noticed they had a sign out front their building promoting a Farm to Table Dinner at Indian Head Farm in Berlin Massachusetts. I was adamant that I would not let this years experience go by without attending, so I went to the farm the next day and bought a ticket. At first, I was hesitant to spend $80/person but I can rest assure you that you get every penny worth and much more.

For those of you that have never been to Indian Head Farm it is an adorable New England farm that has been owned and operated by the same family for over 175 years (yes you read that right ... 175 years). The farm focuses on growing and selling small fruit and vegetables including pick your own berries and flowers. Prior to attending the dinner, I have been to the farm on a few occasions to pick my own flowers. The farm has few rows of various, gorgeous flowers that you can make your own bouquet from. You are given a bucket and scissors. From there, you stand amongst the flowers and make your own creation. If your a gardener like me, its heaven! 

On August 24th from 5-8pm I attended the farm to table dinner. The weather was perfect that evening which set the tone for a great night ahead. After parking at the main farmhouse, I walked down a gravel access road past the fields of flowers and vegetables. As I turned the corner around the greenhouse there was a large open field where the event was to take place. In the field were two long tables for guests attending dinner and two white tents; 1 for live music and 1 for the food. The setting was absolutely beautiful and looked as if it came out of a wedding magazine.

Not only was the setting perfect, but the food that evening was delicious. Indian Head Farm partnered with at least 3 local companies to provide all the food and beverages. Peppers Fine Catering used the fruit and vegetables from Indian Head Farm and the meat from Lilac Hedge Farm to serve an amazing dinner. Wormtown Brewery provided a few beer options that complimented the menu. The menu consisted of the following:

  • Passed appetizers included Zucchini, Lemon & Mint Bruschetta and Eggplant Caviar
  • After that, we sat at the tables in the field and started with our first course which included Chilled Local Corn Soup and Field Green and Herb Salad, Shaved Radish & Herb Vinaigrette
  • Next was the main course which was buffet style and included Nicoise Potato Salad, Braised Cabbage with Apple, Lilac Hedge Ham and Spit Roasted Beef with horseradish sauce and pickled red onion jam  

Everything I listed above was just as good as it sounds. The food was fresh, local and had amazing taste. If your wondering ... I did try everything and yes I was extremely full but it was worth every bite.  

Just when I thought I could not eat any more, everyone was asked to walk back up to the greenhouse where they served coffee and dessert. The greenhouse was transformed into a beautiful rustic coffeehouse where people sat on hay bails and enjoyed the live music that continued. 

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, this event was worth every penny spent. In addition to having a great meal, you were surrounded by like-minded locals and an amazing setting. This night was truly one of my favorite memories of this summer and I highly recommend you try to go if they host one next year. 

Bon appetit!

 

 

Never enough Avocado!

As we enter Labor Day weekend I wanted to share one of my favorite appetizer recipes that you can "make and take" to your holiday parties. 

There are a number of things I love about this recipe including how easy it is to make, how delicious it is to eat and how versatile it can be once complete. You get all of this in just 5 (sometimes I use 6) ingredients! 

AVOCADO SALAD

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ripe Avocado
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil
  • 1 small to medium clove of garlic (minced)
  • Pinch of salt & pepper
  • Pinch of red hot pepper flakes (this is optional but a great addition for a little kick)

DIRECTIONS

  • Peel and cut avocado into chunks
  • Add dressing and mix lightly
  • Let sit in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to an hour before serving cold

The above recipe serves approximately 2-3 people. I typically double the recipe because not only is it a family favorite but I like to have leftovers so I can use it as a spread on my sandwiches and on top of quesadillas. You can serve the recipe with chips (Stacy's pita chips or tortilla chips) or crackers - either are a good complement! 

I hope you enjoy and leave a comment to let me know what you think. 

Happy Labor Day Weekend.

 

Source: avocadosalad

#BlogHer16 and Origin of abigailmscott.com

On August 3rd I left for Los Angeles California to attend #BlogHer16. I had never heard of the conference before my career at Hologic started in February. Hologic has been exhibiting at the event for a few years to raise awareness of their women's health products. Although I was attending the conference as an exhibitor I was extremely excited about the opportunity to connect and listen to other digitally savvy female entrepreneurs. 

So you may be asking, what is BlogHer? BlogHer is the premier conference for women online. According to their website, it is the worlds largest event for women who create content, build communities and wield influence online. Every year, approximately 3,000 individuals attend the conference to listen, learn and network. This years conference featured keynotes from BIG name celebrities such as Kim Kardashian West, Sheryl Crow, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Mayim Bialik. 

The conference was an AMAZING experience on so many levels:

  • As an exhibitor I had the opportunity to meet women and educate them about Hologic's treatment options. I work in Hologic's gynecologic surgery division and it is my responsibility to raise awareness of our products through digital marketing (websites, email, social media, public relations, etc). I had no idea until I joined Hologic that 1 in 5 women live with heavy periods. Put another way ... approximately 10 million women suffer from heavy menstrual bleeding*. Thats A LOT of women! Periods are one of those things that every woman has or had, but we never talk about. At Hologic we are creating a movement by openly discussing the P word (period)! Periods are apart of every woman's (and males - they often get the brunt of it!) life and they should be discussed. Heavy periods in particular are our passion and although there are many different causes everyone should know that there are treatment options to help elevate them. This is exactly what Hologic set out to do and achieved at #BlogHer16. 
  • One of the ways I have been coping with my relationship with Adam is by consuming GOOD content. Whether reading or listening it has been comforting knowing that other individuals have experienced similar situations and survived. During hardships it is easy to get down on yourself but knowing you are not alone is consoling. The content I have been consuming over the past few months has positively impacted my life and I was excited to be surrounded by 3,000 other females in LA that loved content as much as myself. 

#BlogHer16 was EXTREMELY inspiring and empowering. I met so many amazing women (shout out to Whitney Bond and Alex Moroch) with different backgrounds and passions. Although diverse, everyone had one common goal - create GOOD content and share it with the world to help others. Needless to say, I left the conference energized and confident. As a result, I came back to Boston ready to share my story with all of YOU. And that is exactly what I did. Last week, I publicly shared my website on Facebook. I can't thank you all enough for the kind words and support. It is difficult to be vulnerable and open yourself up to the world but I knew I had to take that leap of faith. So many people have created and shared content that helped get me to where I am today. It was only fitting that I do the same in hopes I can help educate and empower all of YOU.

*Cooper J, et al. A randomized, multicenter trial of safety and efficacy of the NovaSure system in the treatment of menorrhagia. J Am Assoc Gynecol Laparosc. 2002; 9:418-428.

July 2016 Favorites

I know I'm a few days late writing/posting my July recap but I figured" better late than never" so here it goes...

July was an EXTREMELY emotional month for me full of ups and downs. I was anxiously awaiting this month to come and go since early 2016.

In February I made one of the hardest decisions in my life. I cancelled my wedding which was to take place on July 16th. As you can imagine, this weekend was full of tears, frustration and luckily some smiles as I was able to face what was to be one of the happiest days of my life and put it behind me. I am not going to indulge on the details around my relationship with Adam but I can tell you that I am a believer of "everything happens for a reason". Adam and I had an amazing relationship for 9 years that included moments I will never forget (living in Salt Lake City, buying our first home, securing dream jobs, etc) and shaped who we are both today. Luckily, we have been able to maintain a relationship through the hardship. A lot of people wonder how this is possible but it works for us and at the end of the day that is all that matters. If there is one thing I learned through the past few months you HAVE to do what makes you happy and focus on those things. For me, Adam is one of those things and I'm grateful for that. 

After going through something this difficult, I have learned that only YOU have the opportunity to control your destiny. I had two paths I could take after going through this: 1) feel bad for myself, continue to cry and be sad OR 2) put the past behind me and continue to live the life I was given to its fullest. I choose #2 and as a result I am sharing my favorite July moments with you.

Rather than sit at home and sulk on the weekend of July 16th I traveled to Washington DC and New York City by myself. As Jess Lively says, I let "flow and adventure" take over and it was liberating. It was important for me to prove to myself that I could successfully travel on my own. I had to build up my confidence and get back in tune with my independence. I did just this!

While in Washington DC I was a complete tourist. This was my first time in the city and I only had 2 days so I walked and explored as much as possible. I toured all of the monuments, White House, Spy Museum, Air and Space Museum and Ford Theater (where Lincoln was assassinated). I averaged ~14 miles of walking each day! On Sunday morning I took the Acela from Union Station to Penn Station in New York City. I highly recommend this form of transportation between the cities - it was easy, reasonably priced, convenient and comfortable (free wifi and much more room than on an airplane). I only had 1/2 a day in New York to sight see and I had my heart set on touring the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. I was at the 9/11 Museum for almost 2 hours. It was an emotional and moving afternoon for me - I'm just happy I got to honor all of those who lost their life on that tragic day. 

July ended with a week long vacation at Cape Cod with my family. My Aunt and Uncle have a house in Brewster which overlooks the Cape Cod Bay. Our days were full of exercise (check out this new trail I found in Wellfleet: Great Island Trail), sun, beach, food, drinks and Cape Cod Baseball (Go Whitecaps!). It was nice to end the month surrounded by my family full of support and love. 

As you can see, July was a busy month for me (emotionally and physically). I explored new cities and learned a lot about myself during one of the hardest months thus far in 2016. The most important thing is ... I SURVIVED! I focused on what makes me happy and executed on it. I proved to myself I can do anything I put my mind to and so can YOU! It starts with a change in your mindset - focus on the positive and anything can happen. 

Homepolish: The "Uber" of Interior Designers

One night as I was creeping around Instagram I came across the Homepolish account. I knew nothing about the company other than they showed up in my "search feed" so they must have something in common with my Instagram interests. 

Immediately after seeing their photography I fell in love with the brand. Clean, crisp, simple interior design images that I could not take my eyes off of. The imagery was as if it came directly from a West Elm, Anthropology or Crate and Barrel magazine. If you like any of these brands I can guarantee you will enjoy Homepolish! 

I liked the brand so much I clicked through to their website. It turned out ... Homepolish is a personal interior design service that you pay for by the hour. I had been wanting to revamp my living room so this service peaked my interest! There are a few steps to the full Homepolish process (if you wish to go through with them all) but the first, is a complimentary consultation. I thought to myself, "what do I have to loose" by trying it. So thats exactly what I did! I completed the required profile that included questions such as my location, style, space I wanted to decorate and budget. After submitting my profile, Homepolish matched me with a local interior designer that fit my profile (this is why I call it the "Uber" of interior designers!). Within a day, I received an email from Homepolish introducing me to my "Queen Bee" interior designer, Jen Elsenbeck. 

Within one day, Jen was at my house for the consultation. Jen spent over an hour at my house talking about the space I wanted her to help me decorate, what my style is (I love mid-century) and what home furnishing companies I gravitated to. After our session, Jen sent me a detailed email recapping our conversation and estimated a number of hours she felt the project would take based on the consultation. From here, YOU have the option to proceed by buying design hours or not continuing with the process. I have to admit, its been a month since that consultation and I have not yet bought design hours. I have every intention of buying a few design hours (there are multiple design packages) but haven't pulled the trigger. I am hoping to make this happen at some point this summer. 

I will be sure to share an update once I have completed the full Homepolish process! In the meantime, check out Homepolish's site for inspiration and sign up for a consultation. Happy home designing!

 How can you not love Homepolish with this living room setup?

How can you not love Homepolish with this living room setup?

A Summer "Must-Have" at the Dinner Table: Nectarine Salsa

Although I am not a picky eater, I don't typically crave pork chops for dinner. I knew that if I was going to make them I needed to have a REALLY good side dish to accompany. I took to the internet in search of "summer grilled pork chop dishes" and found Nectarine Salsa. What appealed to me about the recipe was the fresh ingredients and how easy it seemed to be - only twenty minutes to make! I made a few alterations to the original recipe I round on All Recipes that are included in my version below. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did and plan to do all summer long! 

NECTARINE SALSA

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 nectarines, pitted and chopped
  • 1 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Himalayan salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  • Prepare and mix all ingredients in order listed above in a bowl
  • Toss to blend and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes
  • Cover, and refrigerate 30 minutes to blend flavors (the longer it sits the better to blend flavors)
  • Serve