Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Winter Wonderland

My Christmas weekend was spent in Eagle River, Wisconsin, which is the furthest north I've spent a Christmas.  I flew in from New York City to Milwaukee, where I grew up, and Dad and I then drove the five hours "up north" to Eagle River.  Eagle River is -- for those of you not in the know -- the snowmobile capital of the world.  I kid you not.  There is signage to prove it.  And gets its fair share of "lake effect" snow.  It was a winter wonderland with white, pristine snow coverage.  But yet, despite being far north in Wisconsin, it was sunny and relatively flake free while I was there.  Kind of funny that the big snowstorm happened in New York City instead.

We wanted to surprise my grandmother and other relatives for Christmas (more on that later), but while we were in Eagle River, we also enjoyed the great outdoors.  We hiked (well, more like walked a nature trail while both Dad and I took an insane amount of photographs.  I am truly my father's daughter in that sense) and went snowmobiling (you have to in the snowmobile capital on the world).  It was great to be outside in the fresh air.  I even enjoyed the light, fluffy snow that fell when we were hiking.  Plus it was fun to try to capture it using a very fast shutter speed on my camera.  

I'm headed into a different winter wonderland this weekend - Vermont - to be a ski bunny for the New Years.  Should be a good way to ring in the new year.  Happy New Years to you! 

(Eagle River, photographed December 2010)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Things I Like (Holiday Edition)

It's almost Christmas, and I'd like to share some of the things that have made me happy during the holiday season.  I hope everyone finds things that bring them cheer, peace and happiness this season and throughout the entire year.  

Happy holidays! 

1.  Light-up reindeer antlers on a friend

2.  A bar filled with Santas and elves during Santacon

3.  A specially-guarded tree in Rockefeller Center
(posted in honor of Black and White Wednesday, hosted by the Long Road to China.  Thank you for all your kind support, fellow bloggers on Black and White Wednesday!)

4.  Fruit, cheese and sausage plates at the start of holiday feasts

5.  Homemade pumpkin pie at the end of holiday feasts (with graham cracker crust because I don't like regular pie crust)

6.  And the best Christmas present I ever received, my Princess Monster Bella, who has been my furball friend for two years this Christmas

(Holiday Treats, photographed November and December 2010)


Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Cheer

It's almost time for Christmas and I can't wait.  Mind you, there's a lot to do before I can relax and just take in the holiday.  Last minute presents to buy, packing to do before fighting the crowds at the airport, and, of course, lots of assignments to finish at work.  But that doesn't stop me from feeling some Christmas joy.  I planning on blaring Christmas music at my desk today and counting down the days until I can officially celebrate.  "Tis the season.

So, in response to my earlier post on Christmas, my friend Laura asked if any of the photos were taken with my lensbaby (lots of links for you to follow!).  None were, but that got me thinking.  Why don't I take some photos of my Christmas tree with my lensbaby?  Deep thoughts, right?  Honestly, though, I hadn't taken photos with the lensbaby for awhile.  In an almost shamefully long time.  But I immediately knew what about the lensbaby I would use to capture my Christmas cheer:  the star- and heart-shaped aperture disks. 

And ta-da!  My tree as re-envisioned by the lensbaby. 

(my Christmas tree, photographed December 2010)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Purring with Delight (B&W)


Back-to-back posting on cats.  I wasn't going to do this.  Because I'm not a crazy cat lady.  

But it's been a while since I've participated in Black and White Wednesday, hosted by the Long Road to China.  I've been lax in posting to my little blog, thanks (unfortunately) to work and life obligations.  In November, I managed to scrape together three posts.  Three.  In the entire month.  No wonder I've been so grumpy and uninspired lately.  So now I'm making a concerted effort to keep these creative juices flowing.  And, in doing so, found these great black and white photos I took of my dad and stepmom's cats and thought these would be perfect for black and white Wednesday.

And that's how I got to back-to-back postings on cats.  Not because I am a crazy cat lady.  These aren't even my cats.

You have to admit, though, that these are cute cats.  Even if you are not a crazy cat person yourself.  Little Isaiah -- the one with the stripes -- was very perplexed at what I was doing, following him around on hands and knees, taking photos.  I think you can see the curiosity written on his face  in a couple of these photographs.  Luckily for my parents, however, curiosity did not, in fact, kill the cat.

(Noah & Isaiah, photographed October 2010)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cat in the Hat (or Sack)

"We looked!
Then we saw him
step in on the track!
We looked!
And we saw him!
The Cat in the Sack!"

“I know it is wet
And the sun is not sunny.
But we can have
Lots of good fun
that is funny!”

“Look at me!
  Look at me!
  Look at me NOW!
  It is fun to have fun
  But you have 
  to know how.”*

Whether it be a bag or a box, my sister's cat knows how to have fun.  She was very entertaining (and photogenic) when I visited during the Thanksgiving holiday

*quotes (slightly adapted) from The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Suess

(Kim Gordon, photographed November 2010)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Visions of Sugar Plums

I put up my Christmas tree last weekend.  It didn't take long.   

My tree -- which I've had for a few years now -- is a tiny, artificial, three-foot tree that came with its lights already strung.  Although I can't wait until I have a decent sized tree (not quite practical for my Brooklyn apartment) or a live tree (not doable since I go to Wisconsin for Christmas), I still manage to get pretty thrilled at the prospect of decorating my itsy-bitsy-fake tree.  Most of my ornaments have been collected during my globe-trotting adventures, so hanging them up on my tree not only gets me into the festive spirit, but also reminds me of the far-away places I've been.

If you have noticed any trend in my posting (or lack thereof), it's that I've been really busy with work the last couple of months.  I feel like my days have been reduced to going to the office, working late, then coming home and working even later on my laptop.  This leads to a very disgruntled, uninspired Kristen.  So, to try to counteract this bad temperament, I've been trying to post more (three posts in December already!) and take more photos.  Even if those photos are simply ones taken of my tiny Christmas tree at 1:30 in the morning, hypothetically speaking of course.

Although these are not the crispest photographs, I think there is something cool about the ethereal, semi-abstract quality of these shots.  The sublime bokeh affect really creates a dreamy feeling, when combined with the colorful glow of the Christmas lights.

(My Christmas tree, photographed December 2010)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Family Portraits (in Wine Country, of Course)

During my recent visit to Portland, Oregon, my sister and I went on a wine-tasting tour, with her husband Nick graciously chauffeuring us from vineyard to vineyard.  

Me, being me, I toted my camera around looking for photo ops while still savoring every glass of pinot noir.  And I found my perfect op while enjoying the view from a terrace of one of the vineyards.  The light was just perfect, I had my new portrait lens on my camera, and I was feeling very shutter-happy so I made Monica and Nick pose for some portraits.

Now, I'm a little nervous to post these photos without letting Monica and Nick see them first.  (So, Monica & Nick, if you don't like these, sorry, but also too late now).  But because Nick was so wonderful as our designated driver, I'm not posting any bad shots of him.  Favor returned, I think.

 (Monica & Nick, photographed November 2010)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

On the Vine

As I mentioned during my last post, I traveled to Portland for the Thanksgiving holiday.  It was a fantastic mini-vacation with my sister and her husband.  Although I still had to do some work (yes, even on my vacation), we packed a lot into the short week.  We cooked a delicious Thanksgiving feast, did some Black Friday shopping, hung out at the neighborhood bar and played some pinball, among other things.  Everything was fun, but one of the highlights had to be the wine tastings we went to on Saturday.  

Much to my delight, the weekend after Thanksgiving is when Oregon vineyards open up their doors for tasting specials and deals.  My sister had thoughtfully researched the various vineyards we could visit, and on Friday night we sat down to chart our course for the next day.  My brother-in-law graciously volunteered to be the designated driver so my sister and I could partake in as many of the five dollar tastings as we wanted (Thanks, Nick!).  We tried numerous pinots (I even grabbed a couple bottles of pinot gris to bring Oregon back to the big apple) and stumbled upon a cider tasting to boot.  As much as I loved the pinots, the scenery was pretty amazing, too.

 (Salem, Oregon, photographed November 2010)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Great Outdoors

I'm in Portland, Oregon, again this year for Thanksgiving with my sister and brother-in-law.  This is my second Thanksgiving out here and I'm stoked for the company and for the Northwest.  Only problem is, I'm still up to my ears in work (once again, as evidenced by my lack of postings).  But if I work really hard, I might still be able to find time to enjoy the great outdoors like I did last year.  The hiking trails around here are simply breathtaking, especially to a girl who spends most of her time in the concrete jungle of New York City.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

(Portland, Oregon, photographed November 2009)