Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Best of 2011

I took waaaaay too many photos in 2011. About four thousand in Guatemala alone. On average, nearly two hundred for each weekly photography assignment. Easily two thousand more during one week at Frontier Ranch. Several hundred here and several hundred there. About midway through the year, iPhoto gave up on me due to an overwhelmed capacity. Adobe Bridge however, plus the addition of a new external hard drive, has remedied the situation quite well. Overall, my like Nikon has seen its fair share of action....from climbing mountains in Colorado, kayaking in Austin, ascending pyramids in Tikal, or descending active volcanoes. Here are my favorite photographs from 2011.
p.s. Last year photographs: Best of 2010

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Season's Greetings

This time of the year is filled with traditions whether it be Christmas Eve pajamas, caroling, driving around to look at Christmas lights, lighting the menorah, sitting by the fireplace, last minute shopping, spinning the dreidel, or rushing to send out holiday cards. To be honest, the cards have become one of my favorite parts of the season. Last year I devoted a whole post to sharing the holiday cards we received. In keeping with tradition, here are some of 2011's Christmas/holiday cards. Note: I do not post cards with family photos, but they were especially cute and creative this year!

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I hope everyone is having a wonderful and blessed time with friends and family!
Let it be rich in meaning and influential in creating memories!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Concrete Jungle

New York!
Concrete jungle where dreams are made, oh
There's nothin' you can't do
Now you're in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Let's hear it for New York, New York,
New York


         Part Two of the trip began with a ride on the "dinky" from Princeton University to Princeton Junction. Kathryn pretty much packed her whole dorm (jk) in less than thirty minutes and then we rushed to the station...only to...drat. Missed the train by two minutes. Then we missed the only cab. Double drat. Well, things happen for a reason so might as well spend some leisurely time at the station. Sure enough, minutes later a second train arrived.
         Thoughts on trains: How exciting! Why don't these things exist down south?! The idea of riding trains is not ancient or backwards. They are exciting, wonderful, Harry-Potter-magical-like. Once arriving at Princeton Junction and boarding the second train, NJ transit or whatever, we found a quad of seats on a lower level that had facing rows. Am I child? Yes. Because I was so thoroughly impressed and amused by the train and these seats and the people and the stopping and the starting and the ever-changing view outside of my window.
         Then we arrived in New York City, hailed a cab (I sound so New York), and were off on another adventure: navigating the streets of New York. For one, I am never going to driving in that city. Ridiculous. And I thought Houston/Austin/Texas in general was bad. NOOOOOO WAYYYYY. NYC cab drivers are def skilled. I wish now, as I write this, that I had interviewed each cab driver we had so I could refer to them by name and such. Ahh well, c'est la vie.
         Then we arrived at our hotel, the Lombardy Hotel, "an upscale boutique hotel located at Park Avenue and 56th Street in Midtown Manhattan New York City." Even better, we arrived just in time for Preston to watch the UT basketball game! Perfect...for Preston :) Perfect for Kathryn and Victoria meant ignoring our hunger pains to instead hit up the boutiques and mega stores in Soho.
         Soho. Soho. Soho. A girl's dream. But really. It was great to see stores like Madewell, C Wonder, and Topshop in person, aka not just online shopping but actual store fronts. Too much fun and damage to be done.
         Following, Kathryn and I returned to the hotel to pick up Preston, stop at the concierge for dinner recommendations, and then venture across the street to dine at Montebello. Really all I need to say is delicious. But I'll elaborate. Kathryn ordered best-- RAVIOLI DI ARAGOSTA: lobster ravioli with champagne and shallots in a lite aurora sauce. Myself second best-- POLLO AL TARTUFO: grilled chicken breast with mushrooms and a truffle-scented cream sauce. Preston third-- CALAMARI: lightly fried squid and zucchini. (Rankings courtesy of P4.)
         Then we were off to sightsee. Bloomingdales? Check. Rockefeller tree? Check. Saks window displays? Check. Times Square? Check. NYC freezing weather? Check. Check. Check.

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         Rise and shine upper east siders! :) Well we were almost there anyways. So Sunday morning we woke up and got ready for church. Preston wanted to attend Brooklyn Tabernacle after reading a book written by the head pastor, Jim Cymbala. After the hotel's continental breakfast, we hailed a cab and made our way toward Brooklyn. A bridge or two later, and after forking over twenty dollars to our cab driver who claimed "expensive cab ride just for church," we had arrived at BT. For the next two hours, I sat next to a wonderful man who's deep voice rang out, beautifully rising above the rest of the congregation and often times bringing me to tears. I held hands in joyous celebration with my neighbors on either side. I was reminded the purpose of Christmas, but more importantly the anticipation of Christ's second coming. All in all, it was a truly unique experience. AND I want so badly for you to listen to it, so keep checking back HERE HERE HERE! (click me nowwwww!!) Then message me or text me or call me and let me know that you listened to the sermon. Kay thanks.
         Following church, we tried to go to THE MOST AMAZING PIZZA PLACE IN THE WORLD, Grimaldi's. Too bad that time restraints, cold weather, and long long long lines caused a change in plans. But note to self and anyone visiting New York-Brooklyn: eat at Grimaldi's. (Holla at Kathryn, aka pizza connoisseur). So we settled for a different pizza place. Def not bad at all. 8/10 really but I don't remember the name so whoops.
         We finished eating in time to make it to our reservation at the World Trade Center memorial. After going through security and walking through several checkpoints, we made it to the two memorial fountains. A little about the fountains (as taken from the website)...
         The National September 11 Memorial is a tribute of remembrance and honor to the nearly 3,000 people killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center site, near Shanksville, Pa., and at the Pentagon, as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993.
         The Memorial’s twin reflecting pools are each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest manmade waterfalls in the North America. The pools sit within the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood. Architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker created the Memorial design selected from a global design competition that included more than 5,200 entries from 63 nations.
         The names of every person who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks are inscribed into bronze panels edging the Memorial pools, a powerful reminder of the largest loss of life resulting from a foreign attack on American soil and the greatest single loss of rescue personnel in American history.
         Following the 9/11 memorial, we wandered around New York a bit before making our return to Soho. Typical. Then return to the apartment. Duh. Then back out to the streets hitting up Dylan's Candy Bar (three stories of my favorite food group), checking out Serendipity (two hours thank you), and a three story Urban Outfitters.

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         Our last day in New York City. :( Our last day on the Eastern Seaboard. :( :( Our last day in twenty-thirty degree weather. YAY! So we woke up, packed, and then hit the streets for one last night. We visited FAO Schwarz (!!!!!!!), Central Park, NikeTown, and finally Tiffany's. The latter had to happen, especially since we watched Breakfast at Tiffany's over the course of the weekend (Kathryn's first time seeing it!).

         All in all, the trip was GREAT. I loved every minute spent with Kathryn and her brother Preston. Really, the company was what made this trip amazing. I cannot wait to visit Princeton again, hang out with Preston at "The University," eat at Grimaldi's one day, and go running with Kathryn tomorrow.