More Autumn Fun in Charlestown, MA & Portsmouth, New Hampshire!

Continuing to share a bit about our New England adventure (part 1 here). This was a long but incredibly spontaneous day. Which I’m learning I really really love and makes me feel alive, making spontaneous travel choices. Don’t get me wrong, I plan a ton for the trips when we travel. But then once we’re finally there, I like to deviate and have lottttts of flexibility within “the plan”. Which makes for a fun day! So on this particularly chilly autumn day, we started off walking around Charlestown, touring the Battle of Bunker Hill and showing Everett the U.S.S. Constitution (he was obsessed!), but things started getting seriously wet and cold… so we had to make a choice. Go back to the hotel and hunker down. Or, you know, drive to Maine and get some lobster rolls. Which one do you think we chose??

Charlestown, Massachusetts


Outfit Details:

Anthropologie Top, Old Navy Jean Jacket (like 10 years old! Similar here), Nordstrom Jeans, Sebago Boots, Madewell Scarf, Stella & Dot Knot Bracelet


(And this is just a side note but I found the most amazing natural nail salon in Atlanta where they do fancy polish and nail art - Lark and Sparrow!)

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

We drove up to Kittery, Maine (such a great lighthouse!), and then turned around and found our way into Portsmouth, NH. These towns are right next to each other on the water, and we decided to walk around quaint little Portsmouth and find some dinner. Not too many pictures from this spot because it was drizzly, but we all cozied up in a little cafe and the boys had quesadillas and we had lobster rolls. I know, we are all sorts of culinary excellence ;)

Truth be told, we had to pull out the kindles for this meal, and Stevie didn’t love it. We don’t like to be those parents who shove technology in their kid’s faces all the time, but sometimes if you want to have a nice meal, and you’re all traveling together, and things are getting fussy… yep. Kindles to the rescue!


And that was our drizzly cold, 40-degree day in Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire. Okay, the Maine part barely counts, but it’s still KIND of fun to count it because it makes us sound like road warriors. Which, in a van with two toddlers demanding “Frozen” songs over and over for hours, we kind of became.

What are your travel go-tos when your children are sort of melting down? I would love to hear!

Tour of New England (Part 3): The Crane Castle

Chapter 3.

The third and final installment on the Tour de New England is a real crowd-pleaser. I wanted to share this with you before the weekend hits because, honestly, who doesn't want to see a pretty castle on a happy Friday? Where there are castles, my heart is usually not far behind. And this castle is located in Ipswitch, Massachusetts. Massachusetts! You heard me right! Who says Europe wins the award for romantic castle beauty? K maybe they do. But still. Check this out.

They Exist.

Well, I don't know how many castles are nestled into the foothills of greater Massachusetts, but this fine establishment is tucked far away in a funny-named town called Ipswitch. The Crane Castle (known fondly by the family as Castle Hill) is located atop a hill on The Crane Estate. Can you imagine calling your parents' house Castle Hill? Haaa that's really something.

This land was first  purchased by John Winthrop Jr. (yeah, the son of the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony), and remained farmland for more than two centuries. In 1910 Richard Crane purchased the land and transformed it into an estate, developing the land and gardens and building an enormous Italian Renaissance villa for his lovely wife, in the vein of the Newport mansions. She didn't like it. He tore it down and replaced it with a (more modest) 59-room mansion, overlooking the ocean and expansive grounds on all four sides. It's a hard life, but someone's gotta do it. I'm glad his wife had all those rooms. You know, to put her trinkets and jewels and puppies in.

Today the mansion is open for tours. People who love castles (like me) frolic around the grounds and chase deer whilst imagining growing up on such a mass of land. Our fearsome foursome had a wondrous time.

Fun Fact

// Richard Crane is the great-great grandfather of beloved actor Chevy Chase.

// Deer photos courtesy of Steven Hale. He has such a soothing presence that he didn't spook them in the least. Also in his spare time he is a dog whisperer. //


// I mean, whose back yard doesn't open up into a mile-long processional into the Atlantic? //

// Boys throw snowballs. Because why not. //

// Geez, I wonder if it ever gets old being so darn cute. //

// Found one home error: I could see straight through the keyhole! Bad for insulation, Richard. //

Okay, so it's seriously beautiful right? New England is chock-full of grand surprises and this was the perfect way to end a day of lighthouses and seaside bliss. So in love.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend of sunshine and flower picking. Spring is officially springing up here and I am amped to enjoy it. Also, come Monday I may or may not have some photos to share from my jaunt down to Atlanta to see Taylor Swift in concert. I'm feelin' RED!

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.