|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.