February Monthly Goals

It’s FeBRRRRRuary! Despite the cold, some of my favorite things take place this month -last night’s Super Bowl (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), Valentine’s Day, a local chocolate and wine festival, and two after-the-holiday holiday parties.

Since our schedules always seem to be jam-packed with fun things and family events, I’m finding it hard to accomplish monthly goals on top of the Winter Bucket List that I’m still trying to complete. Now that we’ve added wedding planning to the mix, I feel like I’m just about flat out, and so I’ve decided that for now, one of my monthly goals will be wedding-related to help move me along in the process.

2015 Monthly Goals - February

We still need to choose a photographer, have an engagement shoot, design our own Save the Dates, address them, and get them out. So while this goal only appears to be five words long, it’s one that may take me a good part of the month to complete.

Since I didn’t do so well at cutting down on all the sugary sweets last month, I’m adding that one back in with the hopes that Valentine’s Day will not equal boxes of chocolate. Now that Dan bought me a ring, he says he’s covered on gifts for the rest of my life, so I think I’m safe. 🙂 But there is that 75% off sale the day after…

Finally, I just bought a Fitbit One with my tax return, so I’m challenging myself to get outside and go for some long walks to increase my step count. And obviously my health as well. Find me and we can be Fitbit friends!

What are some of your goals this month?? Do you have any tips for me on accomplishing mine?

January Goal Recap

So January was a month full of ups and downs. Dan and I got engaged, but we also had a death in the family. There were a few 50 degree days, but there was also a blizzard with three feet of snow.

My monthly goals suffered their own highs and lows this January. Here’s what I was attempting to accomplish:

2015 Monthly Goals - January

I did read 4 books, as well as several wedding magazines that were the size and weight of books. The first book I read was a guilty pleasure, and I will tell you, but get your judgey pointer finger ready and cue the laughter. Are we ready?

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Amber is one of MTV’s Teen Moms. How would you feel about me if I told you I also watch Pretty Little Liars? This book was as bad as you would expect it to be, both in content and in writing style, but there’s something about getting a peek into someone else’s life that I really enjoy. Which leads me to book #2:

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I saw rave reviews for this book by bloggers who had been gifted an early copy. When it finally became available to the rest of us, I snatched it up on my Nook app immediately and finished it within a few days. I loved loved LOVED this book and am recommending it to you also. It’s not just a diet story, and I think many people can relate, but even if you can’t, her writing will suck you in anyway.

The third book I read was gifted to me to help with wedding planning. At this point, I’ve read so many things about wedding planning that I feel like I could write my own. While there were some good ideas and checklists in this, most of the information is very traditional and slightly outdated (it talks about getting the “film” from your photographer).

Dan’s grandmother loaned me the last book and it came with a great review. Her and her friends couldn’t put it down, and while it isn’t something I would normally pick up to read on my own, I also found myself getting really into it. It’s a bit of a history lesson, but it’s a great story and I’m interested in reading more of her books. I think it’s also being developed into a TV mini-series this year.

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As far as creating a night time routine, I don’t think the word “routine” can really be applied yet. I would say I successfully washed my face and flossed my teeth before bed about 1/3 of the nights this month. While it’s not great, it’s more than the teeth-brushing followed by an immediate face plant into a pillow that I usually do. I’m going to keep working on this one.

And finally, never EVER set a goal to eat less sugar during a month when you are hosting a sweet swap for your friends. That was terrible planning on my part. Not to mention all of the Christmas candy that was still around and the celebratory engagement drinks. I’m not going to pretend like I climbed Mount Everest or anything, but the fact that I didn’t develop diabetes this month is accomplishment enough for me.

Stay tuned for February’s goals! I’m off to apply some eye cream and floss all that sugar away.

Sweet Swap Story!

This past weekend I hosted a sweet swap at my place. I’ve always wanted to take part in a cookie swap, but I couldn’t discriminate against all other forms of sugar (hi, have you met me?), so I decided to turn it into a sweet swap, which just sounds nicer anyway, don’t you think?

Sweet Swap Invitation

I created an invite (address blacked out above) and emailed it to a few of my girlfriends. The rules were simple: bring food and take food home! Prizes were given out for the best tasting and most creative treats.

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Before the swap, I bought a tin for each guest to use to take their sweets home in. Since I couldn’t find pink tins, I decided these Valentine’s Day ones were perfectly girly and appropriate.

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I simply lined them with tissue paper and stacked them on the counter for guests to help themselves.

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I made some simple favors using baking-themed items and a few crafty supplies.

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A little “Thank you” written using a white Sharpie paint pen on black paper kept my chalkboard theme going.

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Add some sparkly stickers and a little bit of ribbon and you have yourself a favor!

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Display cards were created using the same black paper, white Sharpie, and stickers. I wanted these to let everyone know what they were eating and, more importantly, who created the treats they were enjoying!

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The dollar store has some great trays to use for displaying your desserts, and the best part is that instead of washing them, you can choose to toss them afterwards and not feel guilty!

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What goes best with diabetic-coma-inducing levels of sugar? Why, hot chocolate of course! Serving this in a slow-cooker is an easy way to keep things warm while allowing guests to serve themselves and add their own individual toppings.

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Don’t forget the important ones.

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Plan to have lots of water for your guests as well – it even got 1 vote as the “best tasting” item of the day!

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Check out some of the delicious things my clever friends made:

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Those wedding cookies? Adorable! Such a great idea considering recent events. It was also a good idea to have someone bring “real” food so that when things got too sweet (is that really a thing?), we could snack on cheese and crackers instead.

Have you ever been to a sweet/cookie swap? What are some of your favorite recipes? Could you mail them to me for a taste-test? 😉

I Have a Feyoncé

I just spent a good chunk of time trying to figure out how to share my news all “guess what?” style, but then I remembered it says fiancé (sort of) right up there in the title. Sooo…maybe not necessary?

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Dan proposed this past weekend while we were in Boston! I think I spent the first few minutes just asking “is this serious?” before I actually said “YES!” And then for a few more minutes after I said “yes”.

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We had some random strangers congratulating us and taking our photo, and I think it was one of the most surprising moments of my life. Somehow it was out of nowhere, but yet nine years in the making, all at the same time.

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This is my new favorite photo of us, even with the streaks of snow and all of its grainy, cell phone glory.

I dove straight into wedding planning the next few days, and then promptly climbed straight back out of that pool. These things cost how much?! They take how long to put together?!

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If any of you who have already been through it have any tips on how to keep the whole process manageable, affordable, and stress-free, please share them in the comments!

For now, any of you who follow me on Pinterest are safe from an onslaught of wedding boards. We’re taking some time to just enjoy being engaged and not having to rush to plan anything. When the time comes, I’m sure I will DIY the crap out of this thing, so be on the lookout for plenty of crafty favors and centerpiece ideas.

In the meantime, I’m hosting a Sweet Swap at my place this weekend and can’t wait to share it with all of you when it’s over! Have a great weekend!

Happy New Year! | Monthly Goals

Happy New Year!!

I know you’re all busy at the gym, or food shopping for fruits & veggies, but when you get tired of that next week (or tomorrow, if you’re me), I hope you will come back and read this.

We had a pretty good 2014, but I’m hoping that 2015 is filled with bigger and better things, mainly apartments and salaries! And ok, maybe some smaller things, like stomachs and stress levels.

Instead of doing resolutions this year, I decided to pick a few goals to accomplish monthly. It seemed much more manageable to me that way, although there are times that I do miss my weekly resolutions from 2013. What I don’t miss is the time crunch every week that came with choosing, planning, accomplishing, and blogging about each activity. I figure if I pick only three things each month and spread them out over 30ish days, I can take my time to really get into each one without rushing through it. Or, you know, leisurely wait until the 29th to start all three, giving myself the anxiety that I seem to thrive on from creating projects like these for myself.

SPOILER ALERT: Positive thinking is not one of this month’s goals.

But here’s what is:

2015 Monthly Goals - January

I think the first and second goals might end up tying into one another, but what I really meant to focus on was taking some time at the end of each night to wash my makeup off (I’m so bad at that), floss my teeth (I’m even worse at this), and do all those other routine-like things people do at the end of the day before crawling into bed with a book. I’m hoping it will help my skin, my mind, AND make dentist visits less terrifying.

The final goal is something I’ve been tossing around in my head for a few weeks. I’m not entirely sure how I’m planning to go about it yet, but I definitely need to cut down on syrupy lattes, holiday cocktails, and gum with fake sugars! Stick around to see how I do…

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? What’s on your list this year?

DIY Deco Mesh Christmas Tree

It’s become somewhat of a tradition for me to do a holiday-themed craft each year. You might remember seeing my ornament wreath as part of last year’s Holiday Bucket List?

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I still really love how that came out and it’s hanging proudly from a shelf in my living room. This year, I decided to DIY myself a Christmas Tree since my cats have forbidden us from bringing a climbable one inside the house. We currently have this little guy on the balcony that I light up and stare at through a closed door each night.

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I felt like I needed something for inside though. Something I could hang up (WAY up) high and enjoy every night without a pane of glass in between us. I found this pin on Pinterest, but it’s a dead link (big pet peeve!) and if you Google all combinations of “DIY” and “tree” and “wreath”, it’s as if the internet doesn’t want you to figure out how to make one. There are plenty of full-sized shapes, but I needed something that would lay flat against a wall.

And thus began my mission.

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Here’s what you will need if you want to make a tree of your own:

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  • A triangular-shaped frame ( I used an easel, but you can also look for a work wall cone – be sure it says “wall cone” as this will ensure it has one flat side to lay against a wall)
  • pipe cleaners (if you purchase a work cone, you won’t need these, as it will already have something similar attached)
  • deco mesh
  • ribbon
  • ornaments
  • scissors
  • hot glue gun

By watching YouTube tutorials on how to make a deco mesh wreath, I was able to get a good idea of the steps I would need to take to make my tree. If your frame doesn’t already have ties on it, you will need to start by wrapping a pipe cleaner 1-2 times around a section of wire at the top of your frame.

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You can cover the whole frame with these before adding the mesh, but I chose to do them as I needed them.

Next, secure the end of your mesh to the frame by wrapping the pipe cleaner around it and the metal. This step will be repeated over and over again to form your wreath. You want to gather small sections of mesh and tie them to the frame using pipe cleaners. You can use each pipe cleaner more than once, just be sure you wrap both ends completely around each gathering of mesh.

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I found it easiest to do a couple in one spot and then move left to right (and then back right to left) across the entire frame. You can make as many or as few gathers as you like and you can vary the size and shape of each one very easily.

When you finish doing this, you should have something that now resembles a tree. Yay!

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Now it’s time to decorate!

I lucked out with my ornaments because they have ties on the back of them that made it very easy to secure them to my frame.

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If you can’t find similar ornaments (mine were from a craft store in the floral section), you will need to use your glue gun. I had to attach my word ornaments this way since they had no backing or ties to them.

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I applied the “lights” the same way – by applying a drop of hot glue to the back of 2-3 per strand and sticking it to a relatively flat piece of mesh. I did NOT glue each bulb down as I wanted the lights to have a more realistic, dangling effect.

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Finally, I watched this video to find out how to make a bow and applied the finished product to the tree (with hot glue) as my star.

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I debated covering the bottom of my frame with cutouts of presents, or finding wire cutters strong enough to take them off. You won’t have this problem if you use a work wall cone, but since I used an easel, I had a lot of extra space at the bottom. In the end, I decided to leave them as is because it worked well to prop the tree up on the top of a tall bookcase behind a photo album and some holiday decor.

_DSC0092editWhat do you think? Cat-proof? Is this something you would attempt for your own home? If you do, I would love to see photos of how it turned out!

 

Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt

December 7th? What? WHAT?!?

It feels like just yesterday that I posted my Winter Bucket List, but I’m now in a mad rush to get things crossed off before Christmas. Including things that are not even on my bucket list, like decorating, sending a holiday card, buying gifts, wrapping those gifts, and trying not to lose my sanity (too late?) when I see that there is only slightly more than two weeks left until the big day.

While some things on my list can be done any time this season (splurge on ice wine, try a new winter sport), there are a few that have time limits on them due to the nature of the task, and a Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt is one of those things.

Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt

If you search for these on Pinterest, you will find tons of printable lists ready to be taken along on a night time drive. Since I can’t make anything easy on myself, I decided to create my own. I picked several of my favorites from the existing lists and made the one you see above. I plan to take it with us one night this week as we drive around the neighborhood admiring the displays.

Feel free to print out my list and conduct a scavenger hunt of your own! Maybe you want to have a contest to see who can be the quickest, or maybe you want to split up and see who can find and photograph the most things in one hour. Maybe you just want to make paper airplanes with it. There are no rules, anything goes!

Actually, that’s not entirely true. There is ONE rule:

You absolutely MUST bring a cup of hot chocolate with you on your hunt. Bonus points for whipped cream.

Happy hunting!

Winter Bucket List 2014-2015

Happy December!!

I’m so excited for this one! I love how the design came out, and I think that makes me even more excited to complete the things on the list. Can you find all 15 items?

Winter Bucket List

I tried to branch out a bit this year and stay away from just holiday-related things. I also tried to do a few more unusual things, instead of just “drink hot chocolate” or “bake cookies” 17 times, not that I wouldn’t enjoy that, but because a bucket list should be things you’ve been wanting to try as opposed to things you’ve already done. That being said, I also threw in a few traditional things as well because it wouldn’t be true to the season if I didn’t add them. I tried to add a new twist to those things, for example, instead of just taking a drive to look at Christmas lights, we’re going to do a Christmas light scavenger hunt! (More on that in a future post!)

What things made your list this year? What would you really like to try this winter, or what’s one tried-and-true thing that you do every year?

Fall Bucket List Recap

I hope everyone has stuffed themselves full of delicious Thanksgiving food and unstuffed their wallets on all kinds of great Black Friday deals! Now that this holiday is behind us, I feel it’s completely appropriate to retire the Fall Bucket List and bring out the Winter version!

Before I reveal my Winter list, I wanted to share how I did with Fall. Here’s what my list looked like:

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And here’s how I did!

[[Go apple-picking & bake something with the apples]] – I did this one early on. We had more fun picking the apples than I thought we would, but I mistakenly added mint extract to my apple crisp instead of vanilla. I still ate it though! Thumbs up

[[Horseback riding]] – Loved this one after I got over being terrified! Thumbs up

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[[Wear a Halloween costume out somewhere]] – I dressed as Gronkowski with a mask and a jersey for work, then made myself into some sort of spider thing for going out at night. Thumbs up (but thumbs down for the tiny cell phone picture)

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[[Decoarate a pumpkin]] – Also a Thumbs up

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[[Take new fall foliage pictures]] – Did this one several times and also found a few new places to photograph! Thumbs up

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[[Make Butterbeer]] – Made 4 glasses to split with Dan, but somehow drank….4 glasses. Thumbs up

[[Donate to a food drive]] – Have a bag full of canned goods in my car right now waiting to find a food drive. Thumbs half up

[[Find a favorite pumpkin drink at Starbucks]] – Turns out my favorite pumpkin drink is no pumpkin drink at all. I tried a pumpkin latte and a squirt of the flavored syrup in my chai latte, but it’s just too sweet and too…pumpkiny? for me. I consider this a win though because I just discovered caramel brulee lattes, so I can change up my drink order when I want to now. Thumbs up

[[Watch 1 new Fall TV premiere]] – Started watching Scorpion, which was good, but it didn’t hook me. Stalker on the other hand? Obsessed. Also loving How to Get Away with Murder. Thumbs up

[[Get apple cider donuts]] – Obviously done. Thumbs up

[[Make an appetizer for Sunday football]] – Just bought the ingredients to make these for tomorrow’s game. Salivating. Thumbs up

[[Make a fall craft]] – Made some paper pumpkins that my cats promptly destroyed. Also helped make fall-themed decor for a friend’s October wedding. Thumbs up

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[[Watch a horror move that I’ve never seen]] – You’re Next. Still terrified. Thumbs up

[[Make a Crockpot meal]] – You guys already know how this one turned out. Thumbs up

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[[Cook a dish for Thanksgiving dinner]] – Sort of? I made corn dog muffins (corn bread with hot dog pieces), but I’m not sure if this can be considered a “dish” so we’re going halfway on this one. Thumbs half up

[[Try a new fall makeup trend]] – Tried matte lipstick in a fall-ish wine color. Not a fan of the matte, it felt very 90s, but I did like the color! Thumbs up

[[Try a new brand or flavor of cider]] – Found a pumpkin cider I loved at a brewfest in September. Was slightly drunk on samples, came home and bought a 6 pack, but it just doesn’t taste the same. Thumbs up

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[[Go to a haunted house]] – This one was a bit of a fail? I made an attempt, but got uncharacteristically scared about 2 feet in and forced Dan to turn around and walk back out with me. Ugh. Still annoying. Thumbs down

[[Visit a local winery]] – Conveniently, there is a winery about two minutes down the street from us. We’ve already done two tastings in the past month and purchased several bottles. Thumbs way up

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[[Bake something with pumpkin]] – Made pumpkin muffins, but promptly got sick of pumpkin this year and haven’t had much since. Thumbs up

So there it is! 18 thumbs up out of 20, and once I find that food drive, it will be 18.5. Not too bad, but let’s see if I can get 100% of my Winter list complete this year!! Stay tuned tomorrow for the big release 😉

What was your favorite thing you accomplished this fall?

LEGO Adventures

Last week, Dan and I went a little LEGO crazy and attended two different LEGO events right here in the Boston area. They each had their own distinct feel to them, but we loved them both and are still in awe of all the creations we saw.

[[The Art of the Brick – Faneuil Hall, Boston]]

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This exhibit had a museum quality to it, as each piece was presented as a work of art with a written description. Each piece definitely WAS a work of art, especially since some of them were LEGO replicas of actual sculptures or paintings.

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Mona Scream Starry collage

The detail in a lot of these pieces is just incredible. I played with LEGOs a lot as a kid (who didn’t?!) and I can only imagine the time it must take to “paint” a portrait with them.

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There were a lot of original works as well, including my favorite one below. At first glance, it looks to be a crowd of people in many different “colors”.

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But as you walk further away, the colors turn into a shape of their own – an eye!

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Another favorite of mine was partly due to its presentation. The entire area around the swimmer sculpture below was filled with blue waves thanks to some great lighting.

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While pieces like these certainly have an artistic feel to them, there were plenty of replicas of everyday objects as well. I wonder which is harder to create?

Pencil Apple Dog collage

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And can you even imagine taking this on?

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The whole exhibit took us about an hour to walk through and photograph. While it might seem like I shared a lot of photos, I promise I didn’t spoil the event for you and there is much more to see! The Art of the Brick will be around until January, and I definitely recommend it for both kids and adults, but I do think grown ups might have the most fun at this one since there is no touching or building involved, and some of the works of art may not be recognizable to little people.

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[[Legoland Discovery Center – Assembly Row, Somerville]]

This place opened earlier this year and both Dan and I were pretty bummed to learn that you had to be accompanied by a child to attend. We thought about having one, but having to raise it to the point where it would be old enough to attend, well, I just don’t have the patience. Lucky for us there is a monthly Adult Night!

And I don’t think either of us acted like an adult the entire night.

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Can you tell what the theme was?

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I actually woke up around 3am one night recently, and when I couldn’t get back to sleep, I went on Facebook. It was there that I saw an article about a Star Wars Adult Night at the Legoland Discovery Center, so I quickly grabbed the joint credit card and bought us some tickets hoping (knowing) Dan wouldn’t be that upset about my middle-of-the-night shopping spree.

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When you first walk in, you get to wander around an entire room full of Boston landmarks created from LEGOs.

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Its SO well done, and the creativity is apparent in every single scene, including this one with a picnic shared by a woman eating a chicken leg, the town drunk, and the guy from the Planet Fitness commercials.

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There are several little surprises along the way, like a window underneath the Beacon Hill area that reveals the bar from Cheers and plays the theme song when a button is pressed.

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My favorite areas were the sports stadiums (Fenway & Gillette) where, again, the detail was incredible. They nailed every part right down to the lighthouse in Foxboro and Pesky’s Pole at Fenway. Can you find Spongebob in the stands? He’s a Sox fan. So is the Stormtrooper and the person eating a grapefruit at a baseball game.

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As you walk around admiring all the city scenes, the lights start to dim and the whole room goes into night mode. It makes it feel as if it’s a whole new place with lots of new details to find and photograph.

Boston Landmarks NIGHT

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If LEGO Boston isn’t your thing, there’s also an area where you can build your own race car and send it through the test track.

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When you’re done with that, you can take a spin on one of their rides, play a game, or even see a 4D movie.

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Everything is superbly decorated, right down to the walls.

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There were a few things we missed because we just ran out of time trying to take it all in, so you can bet we will be back for the next adult night to check out the factory tour and Kingdom Quest Laser Ride!

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Ironically, although this was strictly an adult night, this event felt more “childish” (in a good, fun way!) than the first event. I would recommend this to any adult looking to have a great time being a kid again, and I can certainly see why it’s popular with kids on every other night! We can’t wait to go back!

Have you visited either of these attractions, or are you planning to? What did you think about them, or which event looks like it would be your favorite?