Kicking off 2015 right — in Europe.

Happy new year, everyone! Hoping you all were able to spend some time with your family and friends. I was lucky enough to spend Christmas in Los Angeles, and then New Years in Oslo with my absolute favorite Norwegian. And, I finally got to see Norway in the snow, and I have to say that I’m smitten. The winter is actually worse here in DC… so I’ll probably just have to move to Oslo at some point in my life.

Real talk, though, I’d really like to just take a couple of months off to live in northern Norway during the winter — chasing the aurora borealis would be my jam.

Itching for more Norway photos? Check out my summer snapshots from Bergen and Oslo.

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On New Year’s Resolutions.

The family

I’ve been putting off writing here for weeks.

Yes, I was swamped with freelance before my California trip, and yes, I had a ton of free time during my trip, but a girl needs a break.


Cody -- my family's old, deaf, and grumpy but adorable Lab.

I’ve been home for a few days, and, like every year before this one, the new year creeps up from behind. Before you know it, another one hits you, another resolution appears on your plate, and you find yourself saying, “This year will be my year.”

No joke. I said that one year ago. And, despite a few rough patches, 2012 was, in fact, my year.

Whether you are resolution keeper or dropper, I think everyone has a common goal in mind: make this year even better than the last. Whether we’re trying to lose a few pounds, find a new job, find a new city, or simply just trying to get out of a rut, what matters in the end is this question: what are you actively doing to live a fulfilling life?

Kevin got to decorate his own tree this year. It seems he is just as crafty as I was at that age -- perhaps we have another creative in our family?

My dad makes his own adirondack chairs and grows his own California-native meadow grass. Each tuft has to be grown from seed, which starts with just one blade. This took years.

Fresh eggs made great chocolate souffles for a Christmas dessert.

When I was thirteen, I was an eighth grader at a Catholic school in L.A. We had to apply to the Catholic high schools — like a mini college application process. We took mini SATs, wrote mini personal statements (hand-written, back in the day), and all awaited the thick or thin admissions envelopes in the mail. Naturally, having never really written a personal statement before, I was blinded by all the talk of grades, extracurriculars, and other extraneous number values. And when I asked for help, my dad simplified everything down to this: when it comes down to anything — especially a personal statement — what you’re trying to communicate to the reader is that your goal is to lead the most fulfilling life as possible, and what will help you live that fulfilling life. Numbers aside, my statement needed to be my way of conveying why a certain school, path of study, or personal experience was important to me. And ever since that first essay, I’ve held that statement very close to my heart.

In fact, it’s something that I think about almost every day. Because some decisions are determined by financial need, some by selfish or non-selfish reasons, but when it comes down to the very fact, our own happiness is too easily clouded over by numbers or lists of pros and cons. Our goals each and every year should measure up to what we, as individuals, want to be remembered by: respecting not only ourselves but the everyone around us (regardless of political affiliation or personal differences), giving and following wise advice, finding love, and raising children who will hopefully and ultimately follow in the paths we start for them. And what more could we want for our posterity (or ourselves) than to look back on their own lives and feel rewarded, accomplished, and happy with their decisions?

Fresh limes. My parents are spoiled by their own garden. Fun fact: they brought that wine barrel home from a post-honeymoon trip to Napa Valley.

So, this year, I hope everyone takes 2013 into his or her own hands. If you’re unhappy at your job, apply for new ones. If you feel out of place, find a new city to live in. If you can’t think of a new year’s resolution that you absolutely love, then perhaps you should simply strive to make each day better than the one before. And if you think your life doesn’t have room for improvement, well, you’re probably settling for less than what you deserve.

You can say it, too: 2013 will be my year.