Salem in November

Everyone wants to visit the infamous Salem in the Fall, but if you’re looking to beat the crowds and still enjoy New England in the Fall, consider visiting “off season” in November.

It’s important to note that some businesses do take time off right after Halloween for a few days or a couple of weeks to take a breather after the rush that is Halloween season, but we found the second week of November (around the 8th) to be perfect timing!

If you’re not needing to experience all the spooky Halloween specials, decor, and events, then November is the perfect time to explore the shops, streets, and main attractions that Salem has to offer.

We never had to wait in long lines to get in or to see anything. Most of the time we were able to walk right up and in. This was especially true of the Witch House. Usually, this place has hordes of people lined up to take a picture in front of the house, but when we went, there was only one other couple taking photos. Once they were done, I was able to snap a few pictures without being rushed.

Witch House – Salem, MA

Initially, because the area by the house was so empty, I figured the house itself must be closed, but the trick is that you have to enter from the back of the house, which is a little hidden off the main street so many people probably didn’t see the door at first. We were the only ones in the entrance when we arrived, no wait, and we were able to get in right away and explore the historic home.

One of our favorite attractions we visited was The Daniels House. It was one of the oldest still standing mansions in town, and is actually still lived in today by the family who owns it. You can also stay at the house, as it functions as a bed and breakfast too. Pretty cool! We enjoyed a wonderful and insightful tour here. It was just us and one other couple and our tour guide. One of the highlights of the tour was getting to have a mug of tea as you learn about the history of the home, the family, and the town. Our tour guide was absolutely fantastic, and was the best one we encountered during our trip.

Daniels House – Salem, MA

If you’re a big Hocus Pocus fan like me, you’ll definitely want to check out some of the sites and buildings from the movie. The Ropes Mansion and Garden wasn’t open during this time of year, but you could walk around the outside and the gardens for free. It didn’t seem like many people knew this house was in Hocus Pocus because I was able to walk right up the front door and pose without interruption. The gardens in November aren’t looking their best due to the weather, but it was still fun to do a quick walkaround.

Ropes Mansion – Hocus Pocus – Salem, MA

After checking out Alison’s house, you might be inclined to drive by the main house from Hocus Pocus, where Max and Dani lived. It’s important to note, the house is a private residence, and the people living there rightfully don’t want you coming up to the house and disturbing them. The house is also surprisingly right on the waterfront in a quiet neighborhood, something you don’t realize from the movie. If you must see it, consider just driving by or standing by the waterfront or sidewalk for a really quick picture.

Salem, MA

If you’re looking for another tour of a historic building, or you’re a fan of classic novels, you might want to consider seeing The House of the Seven Gables. The tour takes a while, and the buildings on the grounds are not well ventilated or air conditioned, so it can get a bit stuffy. When I went, (Nov 2022) masks were still required, which I was grateful for, but it did cause you to heat up more easily. Tours are pretty packed, and not as quiet or private as some of the others we took. Also worth noting, some of the “secret” spaces you visit are not for the claustrophobic, those with mobility issues, or people who are a bit bigger (think very tight spots). Everyone on our tour got through the “secret” spots of the house ok, but I’m not sure what would happen if you opted out. You might just need to wait outside during certain parts of the tour?

The House of the Seven Gables – Salem, MA

For those who are National Parks fans, which my boyfriend and I are, you might want to consider checking off Salem Maritime National Historic Site on your list of Parks, or getting your National Parks Passport stamped at the visitor center. Apparently, Salem is the first National Historic Site in the United States. As sites and parks go, I was disappointed. By the waterfront, there’s a number of old buildings from when Salem was the busiest sea port around, but you can’t actually go into any of them. Not sure if this is a yearly thing or an off-season thing, but it was disappointing.

We wanted to check out the replica of the Friendship of Salem, an old merchant boat, but they were repainting it during our visit, so we couldn’t go on it. You can walk along the pier by the boat, which was completely empty, and get up close to a small lighthouse at the water’s edge. A cute spot for a quick photo.

Friendship of Salem

The main “building” for the National Historic Site is the old armory across town, the Salem Armory Visitor Center. It’s a pretty decent visitor center, but not super exciting. We looked at a few of the displays, checked out the gift shop section, used the bathroom, and stamped our passport and called it a day.

If you’re looking for a great quality gift shop, look no further than the gift shop of the Salem Witch Museum. You can enter it from the street without going through the “museum” if you’d like. The shop had a lot of great souvenirs from traditional Salem witchy stuff, to books, Hocus Pocus items, Harry Potter gifts, clothing, jewelry, and more! This is not your traditional cheap souvenir store.

A lot of people have strong opinions on the Salem Witch Museum itself, and if it’s worth it or not. We did end up going in, and bought tickets right on our phone. It’s a popular attraction, even off season, but there was a lot of availability the day of. The displays could use some updating and the audio some level tweaking, but it’s a good storytelling spot if you want to learn a bit more while sitting down for most of the time. Do not expect a traditional museum that you walk around and see displays in.

While on the topics of museums, the Peabody Essex Museum is famous and well regarded. We stopped by, even though I’m not the biggest museum fan, and spent a couple hours exploring. They have some interesting displays of nautical artifacts, Asian art, a small section about the Witch Trials, and the Yin Yu Tang house.

If you have a sweet tooth, check out the oldest candy shop in the US, Ye Olde Pepper Companie. They’ve been open since 1806! It’s a short walk from the waterfront, Daniels House, or The House of Seven Gables. It’s a tiny shop, but worth a visit. How many people can say they’ve been to the oldest candy shop?

Ye Olde Pepper Companie

Finally, round out your off-season visit with a night tour around town. There’s a number to choose from, depending on interests. Expect to do a couple hours of walking, regardless of rain! We did the Bewitched After Dark tour, and had fun. I don’t know if we learned a whole lot of new things, but Sarah was a great storyteller.

Overall, if you’re looking to visit Salem, consider going during the less crowded months of the year. We were able to walk to all the main attractions without issue or crowds, and do just about everything there is to see and do. November is a great time to visit with decent weather, cheaper prices, and more availability of attractions and no lines!

Continue Reading

Skin Cancer Screenings – Do it!

Over the past month and a half I’ve been on a journey with my skin. As a natural redhead, my skin coloring is pale, and the sun loves to burn me until I resemble a little lobster. I’ve seen some posts on TikTok and even some stories in the news about skin cancer scares and that it’s always a good idea to get frequent skin checks. It seemed like a sign from the universe to finally get myself checked out.

I was a little nervous for my first skin check because I read that if they find something suspicious or concerning that they’ll take a sample right then and there. I’ve never been a fan of going to doctors or the prospect of any sort of procedure due to fear of needles, pain, and surgery. However, with Covid-19, my fear of shots has basically been healed, although I prefer to not look or see the needle.

During my visit, they did a thorough check of my whole body. There was a mole on my back that I’ve pretty much had my whole life, or as long as I can remember. Yea, it was a little sketchy looking and definitely had some characteristics you’re supposed to look out for, but I never thought much about it. It’s also hard to see your own back! Of course when the dermatologist saw that, she said that it needed to go. What she really meant at that phase was that a sample needed to be taken.

Before I knew it, they were using a pretty painful shot of anesthesia in my back and getting to work. While I could feel movement of them “shaving” a piece of the mole off, there wasn’t pain associated with it, which was good! The shot, as the assistant in the room warned me, was definitely the worst part. Not sure why it hurts so bad, but it’s not as painless as a Covid shot.

Ten days later I got my results, and while I didn’t have cancer, the cells were extremely dysplastic (or unusual) and something they needed to take care of right away, or it could lead to cancer. Within 2 more weeks I was back in the office, this time laying on my belly to have my mole cut out of me. I was quite nervous this time because the dermatologist, when she called to give me results, told me it was more invasive and would require two layers of stitches. I’ve never had stitches! After 2-3 shots of anesthesia (go redheads!), which were painful again, the procedure began. The doctor and her assistant kept talking to me the whole time to keep me relaxed and to make me comfortable, which was great. When it was time for the stitches I could feel the strings rolling around on my back, but thankfully didn’t feel any pulling or needles going in and out of me. Overall, the procedure was a lot less scary than I anticipated, and I was quite proud of my bravery. Brian took me out to lunch afterwards, and we took the day off to relax.

I recently got the results back and the stitches out. All clear! I’ll now be going for annual skin checks, and recommend you do too! These visits should be covered by your insurance and are important for everyone, regardless of age or skin color. I’m glad I went and got checked out. If I can do it, you’ll be just fine!

Continue Reading

Donating my hair to Children with Hair Loss

Today, I did something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now, I donated some of my hair for those in need. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I hadn’t had a hair cut in well over a year and a half, so I’ve been meaning to get it cut. The questions that came to mind were where should I donate, and is my hair long enough for their requirements.

After doing some research I was surprised to see the “big names” we all hear about when it comes to hair donations didn’t have the best reputation, and actually charged people for the wigs, which didn’t sit well with me. Eventually, I found a non-profit that gave wigs to children who were suffering from hair loss, and that they could receive a wig at no cost to them or their family. That charity is Children With Hair Loss. I also liked that they would take donations as small at 8 inches, as well as previously dyed hair or even grey hair. I found their inclusiveness to be really attractive.

As a redhead, our hair color is really special to us and hard to find in the wild, so I wanted to donate at least once in my life to help a fellow redhead have their special color back. I imagine red hair donations to be far and few inbetween so I wanted to support my fellow gingers out there in this small step.

I hope you’ll consider donating your hair one day if you have the opportunity. You could make someone’s day a little brighter.

Here’s my before:

And here’s me 10 inches shorter.

Pandemic hair no more!

Time to package up my ponytails and send my donation out the door! So happy I could finally donate.

Continue Reading

DIY Home Improvement – Lighting

During the pandemic, my significant other and I decided to purchase our very first home. While the house wasn’t a fixer upper by any means, it needed a little TLC, aka paint and a little modernization here and there to make it our home. Follow along as I chronicle some of the improvements, tasks, and projects we take on.

One of the more recent projects we took on was replacing outdoor light fixtures. We have a balcony off of our kitchen that had a very dated light fixture that was original from when the homes in this neighborhood were built around 15 years ago. Below this balcony is a little patio area on the ground floor that had the same matching light fixture, so we figured we’d tackle both and make sure they matched since we were replacing one.

We live right off of the water, and get super crazy high wind gusts every now and then (I think the highest we recorded from our personal weather station was in the 50-60 mph range). Due to the wind, one evening the light off the kitchen fell to the ground. The fixture was made of glass panels, and one of them even chipped a bit, but we were able to put everything back together and use the light still, but I felt it was finally a sign to take on our outdoor lighting plan. It’s also worth noting that due to the wind, and living right off the water, there was also a lot of water damage/erosion done to the metal of the light. The metal had a rough texture and really lost its shine and former glory. Because of these factors, we decided to get a dark color metal/base for whatever light we ended up choosing.

Looking around at the porches of our neighbors, it seems just about everyone has kept their original lights on their porches and patios, expect our next door neighbor, who had replaced them with black sconces. Figuring we should blend in a bit with her style, and because it looked clean and nice, we decided to be on the lookout for something that was simple, not too eccentric, and would look like it belonged with the house. What we ultimately chose was a simple black sconce, similar in design shape to our neighbor, and to the lights we all have above our garages at the front of the house.

Hampton Bay Wall Lantern – Home Depot

Why black? It’s modern, clean, and can go with any aesthetic, it also doesn’t seem to “date” as much as say gold fixtures do, like the ones we had. We also decided to go with some vintage style light bulbs, going for the edison bulb look, mainly because I think they look cool, but also because they give off a nice warm light.

GE LED Vintage 60W Light Bulbs

The replacement was pretty easy. Brian did one of them, and had me do the other so I could get an understanding for the wiring and installation steps. I appreciate getting hands on in these types of home improvement activities because it gives me a new skill, confidence to tackle projects I want to do, and makes me feel like I’m living my dreams of wanting to be on one of those home improvements shows in the 90s and early 2000s.

Here’s how the new lights look fully installed. We’re super pleased with them, even though we don’t use the lights that much, it gives the outside a nice clean updated look.

Upstairs Deck
Under deck patio

On to the next project…

Continue Reading

Luvn Beauty, an honest review on quick fashion

Quick fashion companies seem to be all the rage lately due to sites like Facebook, Instagram, and perhaps more than any other site, TikTok.

On TikTok you’ll find tons of videos of women trying on clothing items from a lot of the Quick or Hot Fashion websites that have popped up and gained popularity on the internet. Most of these companies tend to be from overseas in Asia, where sizing and quality are really up in the air and it’s almost like a game to see what you end up with.

I was feeling the quarantine boredom and blues and made the decision to click around a site advertised to me on social media (most likely Instagram) called Luvn Beauty. The clothes looked cute, the prices were cheap, and there were reviews on the site for the items I was looking at, so I figured it couldn’t be that sketchy, could it?

I gave in, and purchased two rompers after what I thought was extensive review of the items, the size charts, and the customer feedback. I ended up purchasing the Sleeveless Round Neck Stripy Romper in a size medium, and the Fashion Sleeveless Round Neck Tie Button Romper in a size small. I really went back and forth a bit on what sizes to get, and it seemed based on size charts I was a different size in each. I figured the items were cheap enough that hey, let’s get the different sizes and it’ll help me understand better for the future what size I really am from this company.

Both looked cute, the first one a little more form fitting, and the second baggy and loose. There were reviews for each and people seemed to love the items, so why not?

Then reality kicked in.

I used paypal to checkout, and then a couple days later on my mobile banking app I checked to make sure the purchase went through and saw the paypal purchase went to a random place in China, no reference to Luvn Beauty. That was my first clue I had made a mistake haha. I had hoped this wasn’t coming from China, because I knew shipping would be slow and that what I got in the mail may not be what I ordered.

After talking to support, eventually my item shipped. It appeared to sit in Jamaica Queens in New York for several days after it “shipped” which probably meant after it made it to America, and then after a week or two after that it made its way to me. What was strange on the package was that the from address was in New Jersey, another odd indicator that this was a strange setup.

The first item, the stripped white and blue romper seemed decent-ish. The fabric was not what I expected. From the photos the fabric looked a bit heavier and stiff. This romper had very silky thin fabric instead. From a fit perspective, I was able to get it on and fit into it, but it was a bit loose in the armpit chest area, and was longer on my torso and legs than I expected.

The second, tan-ish looking romper which gave me safari vibes, was cheap looking. The fabric was very thin, didn’t look great, and was just a disappointment right out of the bag. Trying it on was another thing. It felt like it was riding up on my lower half of the body, and I couldn’t get the buttons to button around my chest. Of course as I was putting this post together and looking for the item on the site I realize I was wearing it backwards and the buttons are supposed to go on the back, but I would need help with that.

I reached out to learn more about returns, but of course they wanted me to send it back to some random address in China, which I expected would be costly and take forever so it wasn’t worth it. I bet they do this on purpose, knowing most people won’t go through the hassle. I did end up wearing the blue and white romper this week while working from home, and it was ok, but I’m not sure I like how big/loose it is on my frame, but alas it’s acceptable for a day at home.

While I was browsing Reddit in bed this morning, I saw a post in one of the Women subreddits about what’s something you saw and bought from social media, but regret. One of the comment threads was about clothes you see advertised online, that look good, seem well priced, but end up being a fail. The one company I recognized the name of in the thread was Shein, which I see everywhere on TikTok. For the commenters it seems that site is a hit or miss, and from TikTok it seems most people enjoy the items they get, but I think I’ll stay away. Maybe it’s time to try a clothing subscription box again. Stitch Fix maybe? I’ve also heard a bit about Wantable, and they seemed to have decent reviews. We’ll have to see what the Summer months bring to my wardrobe.

Continue Reading