Monday, January 30, 2012

staying on theme

When I started these weekly blogs of my pictures last January, one thing I didn't really think about was when each post would start and end. I mean, obviously I'd just put one week's worth of pictures into each entry, and that would be that. But I didn't really factor the days of the week into the equation. At one point, I mentioned how weird it felt to be starting each post with a Saturday, since it's called the weekend for a reason. It would make much more sense to start with Monday and end with Saturday and Sunday, right?

Well, 2012 started on a Sunday, splitting up each weekend, but fitting the typical Sunday-Saturday calendar arrangement. What I'm learning that that means for these weekly wrap-ups is that most will probably begin with Sunday food pictures. Ever since the 52 Weeks of Food project and its overlap with work and last year's 365, Sunday has become the unofficial food photography day. In fact, on the Sunday of week two I completely ignored the given theme of "Your Sky" in favor of a food picture. However, week three's theme was actually flexible enough to work with a picture of our lunch. The prompt was "Happiness."

My original plan was to have pesto with the trofie pasta that Steve got in his stocking at Christmas, but it's not exactly peak basil season right now. In fact, the weather took a turn for the chilly that week. So what does one make at such times? Chili! Steve made Michael Symon's Pork Cheek & Black-Eyed Pea Chili with Toasted Cornbread for Super Bowl Sunday in 2010, but we hadn't taken a picture or even gotten around to making it again since. (That was about a week before I decided to institute the 52 Weeks of Food.) It was clearly time for a revisit. I also happened to find a couple bowls that we had purchased at a restaurant supply store last year, which I hadn't used for any food photos yet. Although I had a hard time finding a composition I liked for the picture, the chili made for a happy lunch indeed.

15/366 chili & cornbread

On Monday, after nine pictures of the day in a row taken at home, I decided that I needed to go out for coffee to find my Morning-themed picture. So I skipped my usual morning tea, put on my warm(er) coat, and set off down Valencia toward Four Barrel. I was hoping that it wouldn't be too crowded in the morning on MLK Day, but I was very wrong. The hipsters were out in full force, and the line stretched to the door. Remembering that The Summit hadn't looked very busy—probably because they were closing/moving very soon—I headed back there and ordered a mocha to drink while Instagramming. I used my "likes" page on my phone for this picture, only realizing later that I should have used the picture I had taken of my coffee before I drank it all. Oh well.

16/366 morning

Feeling ambitious again on Tuesday, I went on a field trip to find a "Water" picture. Crissy Field seemed like a good choice, and I realized that the Wave Organ wasn't too far away either. I had been meaning to check that out. The Wave Organ wasn't actually very exciting, though, since the waves weren't active enough to make much noise against the tubes. And visually, it was hard to capture the installation's shapes. I ended up getting a decent picture of the water and the Golden Gate Bridge from the East Beach at Crissy Field, but next time, I'll probably go to the Warming Hut/Fort Point end of Crissy Field. There's more to see and photograph in that area.

17/366 crissy field

Wednesday's theme was "Something You Bought." I don't buy things all that often, and there's wasn't anything I could think of that I really needed that day. Desserts would probably be used for upcoming themes, and I had just taken a picture of a coffee cup. Then I remembered that I had been thinking about taking a picture of our new cookbooks from Christmas, all stacked up. I only bought two of them for Steve, but that would be good enough for the theme. I spent the rest of the afternoon going through the bottom two for Valentine's Day dinner ideas. It's only about two weeks away now!

18/366 something i bought

"Sweet" was Thursday's word, and this would have been the time to go buy a dessert. I thought about going to Dynamo for a donut that afternoon, but I had to watch Elsa for a while. By the time I finished, it was raining and I didn't feel like going. Luckily, I had taken lots of pictures of Elsa, since I suspected I wouldn't make it to Dynamo that day. Elsa generally qualifies as sweet, and I chose the picture with the most personality to emphasize the option of an ironic interpretation (for the times when "trouble" might be the more appropriate description).

19/366 sweet

The rain continued on Friday, and I had "Someone You Love" to contend with for the prompt. By the time Steve got home, it was not only cold and wet outside, it was also getting dark. I would have taken a portrait of him in the alley otherwise. Instead, I told Steve to play with the Rubik's thingy that he got for Christmas. I had been thinking about incorporating it into a picture anyway. I didn't love the light in the pictures I took, but at that point, I didn't really care anymore. 

20/366 someone i love

Saturday worked out better. The theme was "Reflection," and we were finally doing our "soup-a-palooza" soup party with Dan, Carmen, Rob, and Traci. It made sense to take a picture of a reflection in a soup spoon. I took a few pictures upstairs that afternoon to make sure I would have options before dark, but I ended up using a shot that I took downstairs, before dinner. That way, I got the kitchen in the foreground (behind me) and the table blurred in the background. Perfect for our soup party.

21/366 reflection

And so ends another week of Project 366. For the first time this month, I went a whole week without ignoring one of the January Photo a Day themes—even if it did involve a somewhat loose interpretation to accommodate a Sunday food photo...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

close to home

Week 2 of the new year was pretty calm. Sadly, the sudden burst of inspiration that appeared the previous week was wearing off a bit. All these pictures were taken at home, partly because the daily themes lent themselves to that. But also I was being lazy.

I actually decided not to use the theme for that Sunday. It was "Your Sky," which sounded kind of boring to me. I wanted to take a picture of our lunch instead, since we finally got around to making the black bean salad with tomatoes, almonds, feta, and lemon zest from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day. It was a good combination of flavors and felt like a nice healthy lunch.

8/366 black bean salad

That night, we went to see the Mythbusters live show at the Golden Gate Theater. It turned out to be fun and entertaining, although it needed some more rehearsal. There were a few lags, places where they didn't remember immediately what came next or where to find their light to stand in, etc. And overall, I would have liked a little more explanation of the science behind the demonstrations. It kind of felt like they were just moving from cool demonstration to demonstration without really tying them together or explaining just what made them cool. It's still relatively early in their tour, though, so they should get more comfortable with everything and figure out what works. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera, because they allowed pictures (without flash, of course). They even had a quick photo op in the middle, during which they posed with a sledge hammer. I did at least take this shot with my phone before the show started. The ones with the sledge hammer didn't turn out as well.

Monday's theme was Daily Routine, which brought to mind images of toothbrushes. I, however, did not wish to take a picture of my toothbrush. I shot pictures of the shelf of shampoo bottles in the shower and my workout clothes sitting on my mat, and then I decided that those were about as interesting as a picture of a toothbrush. I finally dropped the "daily" and decided that "routine" was good enough. Monday is towel washing day, so I took pictures of the stack of freshly washed towels on the bed.

9/366 routine

Tuesday was Childhood day, which required a little brainstorming again. I had already taken pictures of my old quilt and bunny, my Raggedy Ann & Andy, and my toy rocking chair three years ago, during my first 365. Then I remembered that I still have my old stuffed Siamese kitty. I was always more attached to my blankies than the stuffed animals, but this one has stuck around. After taking a few pictures of the kitty, I went through my photo albums to find pictures of it when it was new. I got it for my first birthday—from my parents, I think—and apparently, it came in handy when it was time to take the Christmas pictures that Thanksgiving too. Click through (at the caption) to see the scanned pictures that I posted to the comments section of the Flickr photo.

10/366 childhood

On Wednesday, I had to take a picture for "Where You Sleep." This was something I had done before, back in the spring of 2010, after we bought that duvet cover and pillow. So rather than taking this shot a second time, I tried to shoot it straight on and get everything symmetrical. After tinkering with it quite a bit, I still couldn't get it perfect. This was about the best I could do.  

11/366 where i sleep

Next, it was "Close-Up" for Thursday. I put the extension tube on the camera and went looking for something around the house to shoot a macro of. First, I tried the cover of a little box that used to belong to my mother, and then I ended up taking pictures of the dried hydrangeas from my wedding bouquet. This hydrangea picture was the more interesting of the choices.

12/366 close-up

Friday was another theme that didn't excite me much: In Your Bag. I would have cheated and just taken a picture of my bag, but I've done that before with both of the bags I use frequently. (Here and here.) So I broke down and took a picture of the stuff I keep in my bag. No pretty hand creams or lipsticks here. It's mostly camera stuff and practical things. Click through if you want to read the whole list, since I'm not going to bother pasting it here.

13/366 in my bag

Last Saturday, the prompt was Something You're Reading. After a visit to the butcher shop with Steve, I settled into the big brown chair to read some more of Helene Dujardin's Plate to Pixel, which I started in November. I had to hold the camera over my head to take this, but I eventually got a composition that I liked.

Too bad I finished the whole Hunger Games trilogy on the Kindle iPhone app between Christmas and New Year's, because I would used that for a picture. With everything else going on then, I never did get around to it. The food photography book probably made for a more interesting shot, though. It certainly filled the frame more than my phone would.

14/366 something i'm reading

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

back to the beginning

Raise your hand if you're surprised that I'm doing another Project 365. No one? Yeah, thought so. I was actually kind of on the fence about it before New Year's, but then I figured I should at least start while it was still the first day of the year. I could always quit later if I thought better of it. When I did think more about it later, I realized something: at the end of the year, I'm more likely to regret not doing a 365 than I am to regret doing one. Might as well just go for it. Again.

The first day of the year was pretty easy anyway. Steve and I joined Dan, Carmen, and Elsa for brunch at Beretta, like we did last year. (But this time, we had Elsa and not Rob & Traci.) Last year's first photo was the coffee at Beretta; this time I went with the food. In fact, I went with my favorite of the food. We tried the mushroom risotto with truffle cream on top, and it was amazing. It's important to start the year right, you know.

1/366 ...maybe

Speaking of starting, I was a little surprised that it felt like a new beginning at all, since I never actually stopped taking daily pictures. I was getting pretty uninspired by the end of 2011, but the inspiration somehow came back with the beginning of 2012. It may have also helped that I saw a list of daily themes for January floating around on Instagram. I was too late to start with the 1st, but I decided I might as well use the list for days when I don't have other ideas.

Day 2's theme was Breakfast, but I had already decided to use my new calendar for my picture that day. Good thing it's a calendar of breakfasts! I took a few pictures of it that morning in rather flat light, and then I decided to try again before lunch. Usually, I won't use the dining room table in a spot where there's uneven sunlight, but this time the sunlight was a bit different—more diffused, not as strong. In fact, it was perfect winter light.

2/366 breakfast

Tuesday's theme was Something You Adore. I might have used Elsa as my subject, but I didn't see her that day. Instead, I took a walk up to Bernal Heights Park, bringing along the owl ornament that we bought at Anthropologie. It had been a while since I had gone up there, and I knew that I could take a picture of SF from the hill if the owl didn't work out. (Because I'm partial to this city too.) Well, I took my city pictures first, and then I took some shots of the owl ornament on the way back down. I spotted a little stump in the wooded area next to the stairs, which was the perfect perch. This is probably how I would have shot the picture of the owl in December if I hadn't come up with the animal print idea.

3/366 little owl redux

Next was "Letterbox" for Wednesday. My first thought was to add black on the top and bottom of the shot for the day. Other people on Instagram apparently thought that was what that meant too. However, I'm not doing this project on Instagram, and I don't like to manipulate my pictures of the day into different formats. So I decided that it could mean mailbox instead. Not long after, I saw that the creator of the list, an Australian, meant mailbox after all. (So much for being witty...) Anyway, I set out on another walk, to find the fancy mailbox in Noe Valley that I remembered seeing a few times before. I came back with a couple pictures of mailboxes, but the fancy one became my picture of the day.

4/366 letterbox

On to Thursday: Something You Wore. My plan was to take a picture of the moon earrings I got for Christmas, but I also got a haircut that day. When I realized it would be easier to make a wider shot work than a close-up of the earrings, I just went for a good ol' self portrait in the dining room. It had been almost two years since I had taken one, so I guess it was time. (This was the closest I got last year.)

5/366 something i wore

My Elsa photo op finally came on Friday, just in time for the "Makes You Smile" prompt. I was babysitting her while Carmen went to get a haircut. When I got Elsa up from her nap, I discovered that she was wearing one of the outfits we got for her in Florence. Added bonus! (It did indeed make me smile.) We did a quick photo shoot on the loveseat while she was still extra cheerful from getting up. And then she spit up down the front of her clothes. Luckily, I had just moved the bunny and had gotten enough pictures to work with.

6/366 makes me smile

For Saturday's picture, the theme was Favourite, and I happened to have one of my favorite photo subjects on hand: macarons! Carmen had brought some home for me from La Boulange the day before, which worked out perfectly. They may be a food photography cliche, but they're one of my favorite food photography cliches.

This time, I used the same set-up from the first owl ornament picture: linen napkin on the dining table, white foam board as backdrop, and a smaller white board on the right side to bounce the window light coming in from the left. For composition, the cover shot from this book came to mind, although I hadn't looked at that in quite a while. The macarons could have been more uniform in size, but I really like the shot anyway.

7/366 favourite

That wraps up week 1 of 2012, as well as my 100th post to this blog! I love a good milestone.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

a good year

Here it is, at last: the final post of 2011. (Nevermind that we're almost 2 weeks into 2012...) This was the picture for day 365 of my second project. Ta da! Project completed!

365/365 the crown of achievement

So New Year's Eve... Again, we spent it at home with Dan and Carmen. Sadly, Rob and Traci were still visiting family on the other side of the country, so they didn't get to come this year. As a result, it was pretty quiet. Steve cooked up the Baltimore crab cakes that my sister Sheri had shipped to us as our Christmas present, and he made the citrus salad that he usually does with it. Then, we watched Super 8 and finally, the Times Square coverage.

For my picture of the day, I got out the magnets that I had purchased for the end of my first 365 a couple years ago and tried to think of something to do with them. I figured that Christmas tree bokeh would be festive, and after some experimenting, I got the idea to stick the magnets to the side of Carmen's metal end table. She also dug out a crown from one of Dan's birthdays long ago, and I borrowed her new tripod so I could get a clean shot. I'm not sure if I like the result as much as I liked the first picture of those magnets, taken in Times Square (on January 7, 2009). However, I was very glad not to be Times Square for the final shot of this project.

Anyway, here's the December mosaic.

And now to recap 2011 a little.

It was a big year for vacations, mostly because of our trip to Spain and Italy. It had been on our bucket list for ages, but 2011 was the year that we finally made it happen. Side note: While we covered a fair amount of Italy, our time in Spain was not spent in Spain-proper. We went nowhere near Madrid, Sevilla, Granada, etc. Instead, we saw Catalonia (Barcelona) and Basque Country (San Sebastian and Bilbao). Both are regions where Spanish is spoken, but not as the primary language. Anyway, it was a fabulous trip. We especially enjoyed our time in Italy and the food there (truffles! pesto!).

We also took a vacation to Michigan and Illinois in May. We saw a lot of family and got spend some time in Chicago at last.

I took a lot of pictures in 2011 because of the vacations and the 365 project. I'm really glad that I did a second 365, since I seem to be happier when I'm consistently taking pictures that I feel are good. Without a project to force me into taking pictures daily, I tend to not pick up the camera often enough. I can't take good pictures if I don't get out the camera.

Despite all that, I felt a bit less invested in this 365 than I was during my first in 2009. Maybe it was because many of my Flickr contacts are spending more time on Instagram. Or perhaps I was so caught up in the backlog of photos after Europe that I cared less about making sure the photos I was taking were interesting. In any case, I think that my shots were more consistently better for this project—i.e., my half-assed shots were less lame than those from 2009. Aim high...

We also ate a lot of good food in 2011. In San Francisco alone, there were brunches at Plow, Beretta, and Foreign Cinema; and dinners at Beast and the Hare, Farallon, Gitane, Contigo, Heart, Mission Cheese, Chez Papa Resto, Fifth Floor, Zero Zero, Quince, Coi, and Local Mission Eatery. Our newest favorites of those: Plow, Fifth Floor, and Coi. (Contigo, Gitane, Beretta, and Zero Zero are the slightly older favorites that we keep visiting.)

In Chicago, we got to eat at Alinea, which certainly lived up to expectations. But we also went to Girl and the Goat, Blackbird, and Topolobampo. Girl and the Goat was especially good.

Then there was the Europe trip. Rather than listing all the restaurants for each place, here's our favorite for each city: La Taverna del Clinic (Barcelona), A Fuego Negro (San Sebastian), Trattoria dal Billy (Manarola, Cinque Terre), Trattoria Quattro Leoni (Florence), Ristorante i Sette Consoli and Trattoria dell'Orso (both in Orvieto), and Glass Hostaria (Rome). Also in San Sebastian, we ate at Akelare—our fanciest meal at three Michelin stars.

I started 2011 with the usual work stuff: Broadway Bound classes and the cabaret class. Following that, there was Thoroughly Modern Millie—the summer show. After Millie, my boss left to spend more time with her family, and I was planning to take some time off for the big vacation anyway. I did a little accompanying for mainstage's production of Gypsy before I left, but that was about it. When we got back, I filled in last minute on keyboard II for a high school production of Bat Boy, which was only about a week's worth of rehearsals and performances. Although I like working, it's been nice to have a break. I certainly needed the time after the trip to edit all those photos.

The big news of 2011 family-wise was the birth of Dan and Carmen's daughter, Elsa, in June. Big changes have resulted, of course, but it's been really fun being so close to our new niece. Bruce and Bonnie came for their annual trip in early June and stayed until Elsa was about 4 weeks old. As always, it was great to see them, and we really appreciated their help painting our hallway before Elsa was born.

Last, the meme thing I do every year:

Go to your archives and find the first entry for each month of 2011. Post the first line(s) of it, and that's your "Year In Review."

January: If you've looked at my Flickr page in the last couple weeks, you've probably already figured out that I've started another 365 project.

February: And now for a roundup of the last full month of food for the 52 Weeks of Food project. Only two weeks to go and we'll be done.

March: On the last Saturday in February, I braved the chilly weather and went to a food photography workshop downtown at Digital Media Playground.

April: Week thirteen was certainly different, weather-wise, from week twelve. The dreariness was past, and we got some warm, summer weather—without the chilly fog that we get during the actual summer.

May: The last full week of April was a busy one, with Easter and a visit from Steve's college roommate, Rich.

June: June has come already, and it's time to catch up a little. I'm still way behind in posting photos of our [MI/IL] trip, but at least all the ones I need for this post are up on Flickr.

July: Arrival of the In-Laws. Despite photographing our lunch of cauliflower soup on Saturday, June 4, I didn't really have anything I wanted to use for the picture of the day.

August: Last week was week 30 of the 365 project. Unfortunately, I was feeling pretty uninspired most days, so it's not exactly my favorite collection of pictures.

September: Last time, I left off with a trip to Hayes Valley. Macarons were purchased there at the newly (re)opened Chantal Guillon, but I already had plenty of options for the picture of the day.

October: So the Europe trip happened. We got back last Tuesday night, and I'm finally feeling like I'm in the right time zone again.

November: Not too bad: It only took me about 12 days to post enough trip photos for another weekly post. (Actually writing the post, however, took much longer...)

December: Wow, back to Florence. While I was getting towards the end of Rome in my photo editing and posting, it was back to Florence for the beginning of this post.

Monday, January 9, 2012

christmas actually

We didn't go back to the Midwest for Christmas this year; we had done enough traveling between the Michigan/Illinois trip in May and the big Spain/Italy trip in the fall. So like last year, we spent the holidays at home in San Francisco with Dan and Carmen.

For Christmas Eve, we decided to be very San Franciscan and have local dungeness crab for dinner. Steve made the carrot soup with crab, as well as the crab cakes again, and we all ate quietly while Elsa slept. For the picture of the day, I just shot the Christmas tree, since it now had presents underneath.

358/365 christmas eve

The bonus of staying home was that we didn't miss Elsa's first Christmas. (It was also her first half birthday.) We got up early to maximize Elsa's awake time and got her presents opened before her first nap. The downside: it wasn't particularly bright in Dan and Carmen's living room at 7am, so the pictures were more challenging than they would have been otherwise.

After presents, we had a while to hang out. Carmen and I took Elsa and got some coffee, Dan made himself some breakfast, and Steve worked on our Christmas dinner. Before long, it was time to Skype with the in-laws, with dinner following around 3pm. Steve made the usual prime rib, which was especially good this time. To go with it we had mashed potatoes, macaroni gratin, roasted vegetables, horseradish creme fraiche, and a beet salad that Dan made. For dessert, Carmen and I had made individual cups of tiramisu the day before. Stockings followed, and we finished the evening by watching Midnight in Paris and warming up some leftovers for supper.

359/365 elsa's first christmas

I didn't take as many pictures of the whole present opening process on Christmas morning as I have in the past, but we all got some good stuff. I received pretty much everything on my wishlist, plus some. Steve gave me the tabletop light unit that I had wanted for photos, and he got extra points for getting me a Heath vase. I hadn't put one on my wishlist, but I had been lusting over them for quite a while.

The day after Christmas was "play with your new toys" day. Steve spent some time hooking up the Blu-ray player that Dan and Carmen had given us. Meanwhile, I put together my new light and tested it out with my new Heath vase and the last surviving ranunculus flower.

360/365 christmas presents

Carmen and I went out for a girls night on Tuesday, after the boys had gotten home to stay with Elsa. We went to Zero Zero, where we got tasty drinks, pasta, and pizza. Of course, Carmen was probably most excited about the panna cotta for dessert. (See below.) We had planned to go see the muppet movie after dinner, but we were too busy enjoying our food and ran out of time.

361/365 girls night

Wednesday was relatively boring compared to the previous few days. I made room for our newly acquired cookbooks on the cookbook shelf, looked through the Miette book, and decided to take a picture of the cookbooks with the little Deglingos pig that I had put in Steve's stocking.

362/365 the cookbook pig

I played with the tabletop light some more on Thursday, figuring I'd try it out that night after having Steve make me some hot chocolate. Of course, actually waiting until dark to take my pictures made me nervous, so I set up a test shot with the chocolate bar and the toppings. But then we went for burgers at SouthEnd for dinner, and I wasn't hungry enough for my hot chocolate later. Oh well.

363/365 all i need now is the "hot"

Friday, New Year's Eve Eve was quite nice weather-wise, prompting me to take a walk through the park to look for pictures. Remembering the picture of the fall-ish pumpkins that I took last January, I picked this shot of some spring-y clover as my picture of the day. San Francisco is good at being seasonally ambiguous.

364/365 lucky new year

And that is where I end this post. (Cliffhanger!) Next time: day 365 and a look back on 2011.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

almost christmas

One week before Christmas Eve, Steve and I went shopping downtown. Certainly not my favorite time to be out and about in the city, but luckily we only had a few stops to make. We went to Anthropologie first to grab a present for Carmen and select our new Christmas ornaments for 2011. Then, we walked to the Ferry Building. We needed sunchokes, squab, and mushrooms; and Steve had to order our standing rib roast for Christmas dinner. We also fought our way through the crowds at Recchiuti and Miette for a couple more presents. While Steve was ordering the meat, I occupied myself at the Heath Ceramics store, drooling over the dishes and vases and linens.

351/365 a heath christmas

We decided that Steve would make the squab with sunchoke puree and mushrooms for lunch the next day. Usually we would eat it for dinner, but this way I was able to take a picture of it. Not our best food styling work, but it was tasty anyway.

352/365 squab & sunchokes

On Monday, I was inspired to take a picture of one of the ornaments we had bought at Anthropologie on Saturday. (Actually, I got the idea on Sunday, but I waited until a day when I didn't already have a picture to take.) While we were at Anthropologie, I saw a book of animal prints by Sharon Montrose. I had come across her work last spring and pinned it to Pinterest, but seeing the book reminded me of how much I liked it. So that was my inspiration for photographing the owl ornament. I just had to set up the appropriate white/neutral backdrop.

353/365 little owl

I watched Elsa on Tuesday morning, and since she was napping for the first half of it, I took pictures of Enzo. He was napping too, so I posed his snowman toy with him. He's been playing with that thing for a long time: long enough for Christmas to come back around and make it seasonally appropriate again.

354/365 a long winter's nap

I spent some of Wednesday afternoon wrapping Christmas presents with our two roles of wrapping paper. We also went to see Bring It On: The Musical that evening, and I took pictures of the fairytale-themed Christmas windows at Shreve & Co. Those were cute, but I thought the present pile picture worked better with the rest of the December pictures.

355/365 present pile

Thursday was Carmen's birthday, celebrated with an especially good dinner at Contigo and an impromptu visit to Tom & Jerry's Christmas Tree. (It's a house in the neighborhood with a huge tree and tons of decorations.) Then, we returned to our house and did cake and presents for Carmen downstairs.

356/365 tom & jerry's christmas tree

Finally, Friday was the day before Christmas Eve. My main outing was for some last minute stocking stuffers from a kids store on Valencia, so my picture of the day ended up being one of the star decorations in the window of nearby Casa Bonampek.

357/365 colorful star

Christmas is coming next!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

week fifty

Oh yes, there's more. I'm up to week 50!

That Saturday was a busy one. Steve and I met Pei for brunch at Foreign Cinema, where we (Pei and I) pointed cameras at our food. Then, after Elsa's second nap, I headed to the Presidio with Dan and Carmen's gang to take some Christmas card pictures. When trying to determine the perfect location for holiday portraits in not-so-snowy San Francisco, I thought somewhere foresty would be ideal. I don't know that many woodsy places in SF, but I remembered seeing pictures of the Wood Line in the Presidio. We managed to find it and took advantage of the quickly fading sunlight, despite the chill. It was challenging to get a shot with all three of them looking pleasant, though, especially when Enzo was added in. He and Elsa were easily distracted. We also had to keep putting Elsa's shoes (and occasionally socks) back on; she kept kicking them off. In the end, Dan and Carmen went with this shot for their Christmas cards. I, however, had trouble getting past the fact that that picture's focus was a little soft, so I went with the one below for my picture of the day.

344/365 family portraits

On our way back from brunch on Saturday, Steve and I stopped by Sun Fat for a couple dungeness crabs. It was time to take advantage of crab season, since we've been bad about that in the past. Steve used one of the crabs on top of carrot soup that night, and he used the other for crab cakes on Sunday. We had to choose between a couple styles/recipes for crab cakes, but Steve decided to try out the one from Ad Hoc at Home—a crab cake of the panko-coated persuasion. I was happy that, unlike a few weeks before, I had time to spend on plating the thing for my picture. The greens are little sparse in the back, but I liked this frame better than the ones I took after tinkering with it. Oh, and the crab cakes were tasty. Steve made them again for our Christmas Eve dinner with Dan and Carmen.

345/365 crab cake

Monday was devoted to baking several dozen snickerdoodles for a cookie party that I attended that evening. I spent about an hour in the morning throwing the dough together, and then it had to rest in the fridge for a while. The whole afternoon was spent doing the cookie shuffle: scoop, sprinkle, bake, rotate, bake, rest, transfer, repeat. I had chosen snickerdoodles, because they were the easiest I could think of. But using the small cookie scoop, the doubled recipe made way more than the necessary 6 dozen. I actually baked the last few dozen the next day, because I was running out of time and had plenty of cookies already. For the picture of the day, I shot some ranunculus flowers on the table with snickerdoodles cooling in the background. Coincidentally, I took a picture of snickerdoodles and ranunculus the year before too. 'Tis the season, I guess.

346/365 snickerdoodle production

After baking the rest of the cookies on Tuesday, I went downstairs to work with Carmen on a Blurb book of Elsa's first 6 months. The good thing about being so behind in blogging is that I can admit that that's what I was doing that day. :) The book was a Christmas present for the in-laws, as well as for Carmen's parents. And since it was all about Elsa, my picture for the day was her new stocking.

347/365 elsa's stocking

Wednesday was the continuation of the Elsa Blurb book work. This time, I took a quick picture of her toy bag on the kitchen counter.

348/365 toy bag

And Thursday was the day that our Christmas cards finally arrived. (Cutting it close...) I would have liked to take a picture of them for that day, but Steve was bringing the box home from work that evening. So I did the next best (easy) thing and taped up some of the other Christmas cards that had come in the mail. These are the people that were more on top of things than I was this year.

349/365 christmas cards

Carmen and I did a bit more work on the Blurb book on Friday afternoon, but I also went for a walk down Valencia Street to look for birthday and Christmas presents for Carmen. Unfortunately, I was too busy with the present finding mission and didn't take many pictures. One of the few I got was from the window of The Curiosity Shoppe. Apparently bears SF... Curious, indeed.

350/365 bears <3 sf

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

beginning to look a lot like...

Well, you know the rest. Early December tends to be pretty nice for the 365 project, as I finally allow myself to take pictures of the Christmas decorations that I've been seeing around since, I don't know, Halloween. During my first project in 2009, I stayed with the Christmas theme from December 1st through the 25th so I could participate in the 24 Days of Christmas group on Flickr. I had lots of ornaments at home that I hadn't photographed before, and it made for a more cohesive mosaic at the end of the month. But of course, it was also a little limiting, when there were better non-Christmas pictures I might have used otherwise, e.g. my first macarons.

So on the third day of December, I decided to let the Christmas theme slide this time. We had made a dinner reservation at Local Mission Eatery after seeing some very tempting new dishes that they had posted on Twitter, and the pictures I took there ended up being my only ones from that day. We ended up really liking the place: fun decor, mismatched china, and interesting seasonal food. They even offer half-sized portions of most dishes—perfect for those of us who like to share things and try more. The only thing I didn't like as much? It was rather dark for pictures in there. I guess we'll just have to come back for lunch or after the daylight savings time shift and hope for a seat near the windows.

337/365 local mission eatery

We had to babysit Elsa on Sunday evening, and I left my picture of the day until then. Luckily, I had lots of time to work on it after giving Elsa her bath, feeding her, and putting her to bed. Dan and Carmen had warned us that we might have to listen to a whole lot of crying, since they had just started sleep training with Elsa the night before, but she was asleep before I even put her in her crib. After that, I took pictures of some of my ornaments on the Christmas tree, including this elf that belonged to my grandparents. It's like the ones people use for "Elf on the Shelf," but way better.

338/365 elf on the tree

Noe Valley seemed like a good place to go on Monday. I probably had to go to the bank or maybe Whole Foods that day, so I kept an eye out for photogenic store windows. Urban Nest won this time with its nesting babushka glasses.

339/365 babushka glasses

I think I was starting to run out of steam around this time of the month/year, because I spent Tuesday procrastinating and leaving my picture-taking until after dark again. Steve and I ended up having burgers at SouthEnd for dinner, passing this tree on the way to and from the restaurant.

340/365 lantern & lights

Wednesday was a little better, though not much. I hadn't taken a picture of my little snowman in a few years, so I built a shot around that on the bathroom window sill.

341/365 big snow, little snow

The next afternoon was spent baking with Carmen and Elsa. We made the sweet & salty brownies from Baked Explorations, which had been on my to-do list since last Christmas. It was my first time making caramel myself, and it turned out really well! Definitely a good addition to the brownies, although the brownies ended up being pretty intense. Unfortunately, by the time the brownies were finished and ready, the daylight was gone. I shot a few pictures of the pot of caramel on Carmen's stove, but I thought it was pretty uninteresting. Then, on the way out, I noticed Elsa's mobile and shot that. Good enough!

342/365 mobile command center

Friday was easier. Carmen and I did part one of her Christmas card photo shoot: just Elsa, in my homemade portrait studio. I've posted shots taken this way before, but I don't think I've mentioned how I set them up. I use the box window in my bedroom, open all the curtains, drape a white bed sheet from the side of the bed to the floor, and cover Dan & Carmen's oversized bean bag with another sheet. The bean bag has worked pretty well to hold up the baby, especially since she's still working on the whole sitting-up-on-her-own thing. The challenge by the end of this session was that she can now roll, so she doesn't necessarily stay in one place for very long.

Anyway, we did pictures using just the bean bag under her, covering her Bumbo chair with the sheet, balancing a Santa hat on her head, wearing Enzo's antlers, and with her clutching some of the fake snowballs I got from CB2 last year. We even tried to get Enzo in on it, but that proved to be rather more challenging. Nevertheless we got a few keepers, including this one.

343/365 elf-sa

Part two of the Christmas card shoot came the next day, but that's another post.