Not too long ago, I wrote about how I hadn’t been out and about in my home state of New Hampshire in awhile (more specifically, my city of Manchester). I dedicated this week to having some fun around the great state of “Live Free or Die” (I’ll take live free, thanks).
Shiloh, as you may know from previous posts as my partner in crime (or rather in adventure), got a promotion at work and had a vacation week before starting the new position. She suggested we attend a paint night, and I emphatically agreed, as that had been on my to-do list for awhile. Paint nights, where you gather a group of people and take a one-night painting class, are having a moment with women (and men too!) of all ages.
We chose to go to Muse Paintbar in downtown Manchester. The painting for that night was a beautiful landscape, a lake with a dock surrounded by trees and mountains. It was a perfect evening for an artistic indoor activity – outside it was downpouring and windy. Once inside Muse, I immediately felt cozy and happy, sheltered from the bad weather, surrounded by creativity. The atmosphere of the space was warm, inviting and, of course, inspiring. Shiloh and I walked around and found our names on blank canvases, our paint palettes and brushes all ready for us. The excitement was building! Shortly after we arrived, our friend Amanda met up with us as well.
The bar at Muse served a variety of wine, along with some beer and other beverages. We all ordered the house white wine. Appetizers and snacks were also on the menu, so Shiloh ordered mozzarella sticks and I ordered turkey meatballs, which were brought to our seats when they were ready. Each paint night is led by what I would call a Master Painter. The MP goes step by step with you through the entire painting, from showing you exactly how to mix the colors, to which brush to use for which sections, to what the strokes should look like, etc.
I was nervous because while I love to write, I’m not so good at anything crafty or hands-on, and on top of that I’m a perfectionist. I may have been slightly more neurotic than my paint partners, but I’m actually pretty proud of the way my lake scene came out! Shiloh and Amanda did an excellent job as well. Shiloh decided to paint white caps on her mountaintops, even though that wasn’t part of the lesson. I thought it added a great final touch to her masterpiece, so I did it too!
A few tips if you would like to plan a night out at Muse Paintbar: The nights sell out fast, especially the weekends. We signed up online for a Wednesday night class, and I think there was only one other weeknight left. If you’re planning on going to Muse as a group, make sure one person registers first and creates a group. When the rest sign up, they can select that group, so you will all be seated together. Be aware that the $35 you pay upon registration does NOT include any drinks or food. Lastly, parking in the Citizens Bank garage across the street is free after 5:00pm!
By the weekend, the bad weather we had experienced midweek was a thing of the past, and I was craving some fresh air. Nick and I decided to go trail walking. We drove to Twin Bridge Park in Merrimack, a spot I hadn’t been since I was a child. In 5th grade, we had to write an essay about our favorite place, and I had written mine about the Twin Bridge trails, and drew a corresponding picture. I wish I could find it!
The temperature was perfect for walking – not too hot, and not too cold, with very minimal bugs. The Merrimack River was so close that I climbed amongst the rocks and touched the water as it made its way through the crevices, babbling with a comforting, peaceful sound. I told Nick that I wished I could record the sound in high def, so I could fall asleep to it at night.
We continued walking, enjoying the serenity of nature after a week spent amongst the noise and lights of cities. We even saw a group of chickens and roosters roaming through the woods! I was thrilled that I had been able to visit my favorite childhood location, even though I am a little too big for the playground area now…
Not ready to wrap up my adventures just yet, this morning before I got to work writing this post you’re reading, I decided to go downtown in search of a new coffee shop to try out. After doing a bit of research, I decided upon A&E Roastery, which opened it’s second location in Manchester (the original is in Amherst) last month after taking over JDub’s Coffee. A&E makes a variety of beverages in their cafe, and also sells fair trade organic coffees and teas within the shop, along with items for brewing and drinking.
Since the weather was a bit cooler today, I ordered a hot Dark Chocolate Latte, my first warm beverage in months. Heavenly! Unlike at many chain coffee places, where the mocha drinks taste like a bottle of Hershey’s Syrup, this latte still had strong tones of the espresso, while also balancing it with just the right amount of chocolaty sweetness.
I sat outside to drink it, while listening to the sounds of Nirvana over their speaker system. Afterwards, I made a quick trip to the Farm & Flower Market to grab some fresh fruit and yogurt for breakfast. As I drove home with my windows down, I realized the day just felt different. I definitely sense fall coming, sooner than usual. In fact, as I look out the window while I am writing this, I distinctly see red leaves appearing amongst the green on a tree in the distance. After a fun week, I can’t wait to see what adventures the upcoming season in New Hampshire will hold!
Places Mentioned (in order):
Muse Paintbar – 42 Hanover Street, Manchester, NH 03101
Twin Bridge Park – 417 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, NH 03054
A&E Roastery – 1000 Elm Street #121, Manchester, NH 03101
Farm and Flower Market – 15 Webster Street, Manchester, NH 03104