A Proper Farewell to 2013.

// Snapped this in the park. I found Cruella de Ville, people. I'm pretty sure she's an East-sider. //

Hi, 2014. Bye, 2013.

Well, happy new year, friends! I hope you're staying warm wherever you are! I've spent the past 2 weeks completely unplugged. Believe it or not, the laptop began collecting a bit of dust. It was pretty marvelous. I've had a bit of time to reflect and refresh and I would encourage you to go for it, too! Although many of you probably already have. It really does wonders for the soul.

I'm still processing 2013 and I think I will continue to reflect over the coming weeks. A lot has happened this year! However, I'm also crazy excited about what 2014 holds and I can't wait to share all kinds of new content with you. But before diving into a slew of healthy recipes and goals and resolutions, I want to say a proper goodbye to the memories of 2013.

Farewell, 2013. It's been REAL. I feel like we really lived this one.

// From the top: Skiied this springTWICE. Oh the mountainous glory. // Harvard in the famed NEMO blizzard // These girls, braving the storm! MISS YOU! // Marveled at the Colorado Rockies // Traipsed through Venice. No wait, ATE through Venice... // Witnessed my best friend accomplish his dream. // Visited Disney for the 1st time! // Family Vacay with these beautiful people. Sheesh. // All my favorite ladies had babies this year! Yes! // Venice, again. It's just ridiculous. // Us in Paris. We were on our best behavior at Notre Dam. // Saw the REAL castle that Disney was based on. In the mountains of Southern Germany. Oy. // Under the Tuscan sunset.// My niece was born! Hallelujah! Photo Cred: Kara B. // Um, had an encounter with a really bad bird. // I picked the Lion's nose. In Florence. Supposed to represent St. Matthew. //

// Watched a duck chill out in the alps. // Mom visited me in NYC! Party girls! // Had Pimms in London. It was a genuine treat. // Threw a Downton Abbey party. It was, hilarious. // Reflected into Chicago's "bean" // Spooked the birds in Siena. // Ah, Serenbe with the Spencers. Only my dream meal. // Yep, that's the view from the Amalfi Coast. Don't cry. Just go to there. // Locked our love to the bridge in Paris // Saw Taylor Swift with my besties!! // That's a precious bicycle. In precious Florence. // Just us, hanging out. In our new hood on the Upper West Side. // My view from the top of Copper Mountain, ready to dominate a black run! It was breakthrough for moi. // A sign on the city streets. // Taking tea at the famous Fortnum & Mason. The queen awaits my return, I'm sure. // My new home, New York City. //

Things I didn't love about 2013? 

1. I think I let my head spin a lot. I was always rushing around, often caught up in chaos, too many to-do's and plans for the future.

2. I missed my friends and family.

3. I spent a lot of time indoors because of the freakishly long New England winter.

Things I loved about 2013?

1. I had SO MANY adventures this year! I saw a huge part of the world I have spent my lifetime dreaming about: Western Europe. And it was even more epic than I ever imagined.

2. I watched Stevie fulfill a massive dream: graduating from Harvard Business School. I can remember sitting with him by the Sacramento river when I was 18, and he told me he hoped to one day, maybe, just maybe, apply to HBS. I remember thinking, is that in Boston? And here I am, 7 years later, with the privilege of watching him walk down the grassy lawn at Harvard Yard, getting that diploma (in a slightly creepy monk-like outfit.) Absolutely priceless.

3. People were literally exploding with children everywhere I turned. My best friend had her first baby. My sister just had her second. My other sister had her third! Along with my OTHER sister who also had her first. Not to mention about 10 more of my dear friends, sprinkled all over the country, who also gave birth to their first sons and daughters this year. Absolutely miraculous. Also, there must be something in the water.

4. I completed a running challenge. It might not seem like a lot to some super intense athletes, but it was a great way for me to be accountable and accomplish something I had never done before!

5. We moved from Boston to New York City. This is an insane life-long dream. I am drinking in every moment here, because I know this won't last forever. But for now, I am an Upper West Sider and loving every moment.

I hope this coming year holds more surprises, adventures, dearer relationships, better recipes, hilarious stories and lots of peace. Above all, I hope 2014 holds more laughter and joy than ever before. Here's to 2014!

Noel: Gift Guide For the Traveling Soul

Christmas Gift Guide: For the Traveling Soul

Christmas Gift Guide: For the Traveling Soul by knhale // 1. Moma Vintage New York Post Cards // 2. Piperlime Spun by Subtle Luxury Infinity Chunky Sweater Knit Scarf // 3. St. Helena Global Salt Trio // 4. The New York Times 36 Hours in Asia & Oceania // 5. Anthropologie Love Note Cuff // 6. Paula Scher Highline Map Poster // 7. Piperlime Pim & Larkin Eiffel Tower Stud Earrings // 8. Sundance Fleece-lined Handwarmers // 9. Frye Company Carson Lace Ups // 10. Anthropologie Patchworked Socks // 11. Urban Outfitters Lomography Camera //

For the Traveling Soul.

We all have a friend like this. The curious, half-wild dreamer who is always up for a road trip, a day trip, a hiking trip, any kind of adventure. Always snapping photos, circling destinations on a map, with a stocked car ready for an endless day away. I am actually glad to say that I have more than a few friends like this, and quite a few family members, too. I love people who LOVE to travel, because they are always armed with eclectic stories, odd recipes and a bounty of enticing photos to share. But even more importantly, my friends who are traveling fiends maintain a gracious open mind that is enviable. Not bogged down by the bible belt's staggering insulation or the political trends of the moment, these folks are peaceful, easy to please, fast to laugh and even faster to encourage.

These traveling buddies are capable and composed, yet completely vulnerable and allow me to peel back their layers, ask tough questions and examine their experiences for myself. What a lucky girl I am. To be more of a traveling soul, well, that's my goal. And I've got such great role models to look to.

I believe you will find that any of the above gifts will add a little sparkle to your friends' lifelong voyage. So go ahead, give them a little something special that tells them you believe in their courageous journey, too.

Spencers at Sea

Beach Time.

I am a smidge obsessed with my family. I'm just going to start by saying that.

We went on vacation this past week to the beach. Stevie and I haven't been to the beach with my entire family in years, and it really hit me when we were all together again. Wow, I have missed this. It's hard to put the beats of my heart into words, but these pictures really capture the essence of this much-needed trip. Babies. Cousins. Corona. Bocce Ball. Seafood. Sand in absolutely everything. Big hats. Small itinerary. Coffee clutch. And a million new miracles to celebrate. Oh, we found the time to celebrate.

I can't find enough words to encompass how much my hurried little heart needed this pause. The sea has a way of getting underneath my skin and smoothing out the folds of my unnecessarily-panting mind. Clarity always surfaces. God always speaks. And my family always, always makes me laugh big. Being at the beach with these astounding individuals is like taking a deep breath, holding it in and treasuring the moment, and then exhaling like a new woman. I am so thankful for them. The tan is a just an added bonus.

// Victory lap. For laying out all day. //

// Are your teeth rotting yet? That's how sweet these folks are. //

// Sisterhood looks like. We just need some traveling pants. //

// Mom and Cousin Amber (who might as well be a sis) // Sun setting like a champ //

// I know. Dorky. All-American. Linen. I don't even care. //

// Kites really don't get enough credit for being whimsically awesome. //

// These people again. I can't get enough. //

// Cousins. Their babes. Gobble gobble gobble. And again I want more. //

// Dad volleyballing like a champ. //

// The family models. // Rachel Lynn and her main squeeze Charlie. //

// Snorkeling (obviously) // Posing (what's new?) //

// Sunset and family love, with a side of Bocce //

// Morning running club (Los cuatro corredores!) // My mother looking like a French bike lady (we've seen too many Hepburn movies) // Views and Seafood //

This is a mere snapshot. My hurried heart finally took a breather and for that I am so glad. With the upcoming transition of this week, I feel like my head is on straight and my eyes are restfully focused forward. I hope you get the chance to vacation with your favorite people this summer. Take the moments you get with them and cherish it. Because somehow we are all growing up SO stinkin' fast.

Love love love.

Reflections: The 2012 vs. 2013 Boston Marathon

Today the city is sunny, sullen and tinged with an eerie quiet. The community of Cambridge wants to wrap our big brother Boston in a bear hug and not let go.

Yesterday morning I woke up with a head cold and grumpily turned on the televised race footage. We were eager to go downtown to celebrate this day with our friends, but I was physically feeling puny and we reluctantly decided to stay home. Stevie worked on papers and I watched the race for hours from the comfort of my couch. This cold was perhaps a blessing in disguise. I won't re-hash the details of the horrific bombings that have been covered in excess by the news. After several panicked phone calls to friends we knew were downtown at the Finish Line, Stevie and I began to pray for safety for the victims and for all plans of evil in our city to be thwarted. Thankfully, our friends who were running the marathon and watching from downtown were all safe, though many of them were in the vicinity of the blasts and watched the horror unfold.

Patriots' Day

For many of you who don't live in Boston, you might not understand the importance of Patriots' Day in this city. Before I moved to Boston I didn't understand why people got the day off of work and school.

Patriots' Day is a civic holiday celebrated in Massachusetts (and Maine) to commemorate the Battles of Lexington and Concord. These battles mark the beginning of the American Revolutionary War, and therefore, celebrate freedom and independence.

In my extremely limited experience, it is a day that I can only compare to a robust 4th of July on steroids. Bostonians are fiercely proud of their heritage, and on this day, that pride is honored throughout the city with jubilation. It is an infectious tradition that makes you wish you were a permanent cog in this community. As a native Atlantan, I've never experienced a city-wide event so richly steeped in heritage and celebrated so widely. Everyone celebrates the marathon by showing up in droves to watch the runners. Strangers cheer for the athletes, high-five each other, children wave American flags. There is no distinction between race or creed, gender or age, even hometown heritage. On this day, no matter where you're from, you are a cheering Bostonian and you are happy.

We were amongst those who watched the race from Commonwealth Avenue last year, at the 2012 Marathon. I want to share a few photos and a video for you to understand the intended joy of this day, which was captured a year ago when we attended this event:

Boston Marathon 2012 from Kristen Hale on Vimeo.


I share this with you so that you may have a deeply sensitive appreciation for what the community of Boston is enduring. It's okay to be angry, it's okay to be sad, but in times like these I hope the processing of these emotions will lead to greater compassion and empathy for others.

Keep in mind all the goodness shown by people in these moments of terror. Marathon runners tearing off their clothes in order to stop the bleeding of victims, marathon volunteers carrying victims into ambulances, emergency-response authorities cooperating with complete strangers in order to minimize the volume of panic and pain. Even more amazingly, a googledoc was passed around by Boston residents who opened their home up for strangers to stay. Many visitors to Boston (for this particular event) had been displaced by the hotels in the area that were shut down due to the blocked-off crime scene.

These acts of kindness should be at the forefront of our appreciation to God's goodness in people. Feel free to post your comments, thoughts and prayers.