Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Old-Fashioned Christmas Lights {16th & Broadway}

These lights make me happy. We used to have them on our house, and I loved seeing them in trees.

Empire State + Snow {Capture the Magic Project}

Taken 12.13.2010 - first snow of the holiday season

Christmas Market {Union Square NYC}

I love Christmas markets. They are all over NYC, and while most of the same vendors are at each of the shows throughout the city, I can't help be drawn to each like a bug to a light. Come to think of it, it is the lights that get me there.

Union Square is my favorite because the Christmas Market is parked next to the amazing farmer's market. You could definitely buy everything you need for a merry little Christmas right here- everything from unique gifts and decorations to fresh wreaths, Christmas trees, and all the fixings for a festive holiday feast. We seem to pick up a few wood ornaments and lots of yummy goodies whenever we happen upon one of these lovely markets.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Decorating our Tree {Capture the Magic}

Our annual decorating party has always been one of my favorite family traditions. We were all sick the week after Thanksgiving, so our party was a bit more low-key than it normally is, but we enjoyed mini pumpkin pies, candy canes, Trader Joe's chocolate, and sparkling cider. I love making to Ella's scale because she always feels so special. It has been a fun challenge this year to make our festivities fit for adults and children too.

my cousin Taylor was in town when we picked out our tree- they gave us free Charlie Brown trees for each child, and lucky for us delivery was included! So we didn't have to schlep it back to our apartment on our own.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Capture the Magic {Mama's Cinnamon Rolls}

I have been missing my Mom a great deal this holiday season- she is such a huge part of the magic of Christmas for me. I didn't realize it until I was grown, but she was the magic. Moms are pretty amazing.

As I was making dinner rolls from scratch on Thanksgiving Day, I was wishing I had my mom by my side for many reasons, but specifically because I'd never made dinner rolls without her. I thought I knew what I was doing (things seem easy when you are just helping), but I couldn't remember how many times she divided the dough, thick she rolled the rolls, etc. I immediately called my Dad and charged him and my sister Erin with the task of documenting how she makes dinner rolls. For posterity, you know.

I then recalled that I took some portraits of her as she made her famous sweet rolls one weekend in April while we were in their home. I am so grateful to have these for the next time I make try to make sweet rolls (never made those on my own either). Notice how I don't have any pictures of the finished product? Yea. I was too busy eating. They are seriously amazing.

How amazing would it be to have a family favorites recipe book compiled with famous family recipes with accompanying photos like this one? I guess I could start... sweet rolls with my mom, and tarts with my Grandma... I'm well on my way! I just need to add Grandma's fudge, my mom's peanut brittle, my mom's caramels, my Dad's homemade bread, my sister's baking powder biscuits, my sister's orange julius, my brother's German pancakes... the list goes on and on.

Try it this holiday season...

and my Dad proudly displaying Mama's handiwork:

Friday, December 17, 2010

Capture the Magic: Photography Assignment

Wow, this has been a crazy Christmas Holiday! Busy, busy, and packed full of holiday goodness I'm excited to share. You can expect a post or two every day from now until Christmas, so come back often.

For those of you interested in participating in the photography portion of the Capture the Magic project, here's the photography assignment:

Basically this is a "my Christmas in review." If you or someone else wanted to see what your Christmas of 2010 looked like, they would be able to see not just the big events, but the details too. I am hoping to provide a window into Jones' first Christmas and our first Christmas in NYC as a family with the pictures I take... so that if any of my family members wonder what it was like, they won't have to wonder... they will be able to see it. I feel taking pictures is a gift I'm giving to my children and grandchildren 20-50 years in advance.

Certainly they don't appreciate it now, but they will. Right? I wish I'd taken pictures of my dorm room decorated my freshman year, the windows around campus, my favorite trees... the first Christmas I was married, etc. Pretty much all the stuff you think to yourself "Oh, I'll remember that. No need to take a picture." Seems like those are the things you'll want to remember most in years to come. And in my short life I'm realizing that I never remember what I think I will. So do yourself a favor and take a half hour and check most of these off your list.

Do this in your own home, but if you are traveling for Christmas, be sure to document the festive surroundings wherever you may be.

  • Christmas tree
  • the street you live on
  • the outside of your home or apartment building
  • a few festive shots of your neighborhood
  • decorations at work/school (if applicable)
  • decorations at the grocery store where you shop
  • your front door
  • document making one of your favorite holiday sweets from start to finish
  • nativity or other favorite holiday decoration
  • photograph of your favorite Christmas book
  • your mailbox
  • a Christmas card addressed to you (showing your current address)
  • your Christmas card display
  • a photograph of the Christmas card you are sending
  • 1 image that communicates what makes it feel like Christmas for you (this will probably be one of the images you take above, but identify it as such)
  • and of course, don't forget to take some memorable shots of stockings, opening Christmas presents, etc. But instead of saying "here, smile with that shiny new toy motorcycle" try taking a candid shot as they open the gift, photograph the person who gave the gift as the recipient opens it, or the embrace that follows (unless you were the one giving the gift- that might be a bit difficult). Try to capture images that will help you feel something as you look back on them in the years to come.
Do you have anything else to add?

Happy Holidays, and good luck capturing the magic!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Audrey {Portrait of a Newborn}

Talk about a preview of grand proportions. There is something so special about this sweet week-old baby girl. She was angel from start to finish and I couldn't have dreamed of a smoother session. What a joy it was.

The love her parents have for Audrey is truly something to behold. I love these images because you can see that love and feel it too. It was an honor to capture this moment in time for Audrey and her wonderful parents.

I don't think most people really, truly enjoys being photographed (especially a few days after a woman gives birth, and let's be realistic, I don't know many men who willfully jump in a camera's path with a smile), but it is so important to take portraits regularly for so many reasons. I love what Justin Hackworth said in his blog post Why Take Pictures? regarding people who prefer not to be photographed (I am among them): "Don’t they see, the pictures aren’t for them. They are for their children, for their families, who will look at those pictures and be so glad someone had the foresight to take them."

Good photographs make you feel something.

I hope these new parents look back on their 2010 family portraits in 20 or 30 years and remember the wonder, the overwhelming joy, and the way it felt to be so in love with someone they'd only just met. Likewise, I hope that someday Audrey will look back and feel so blessed to be so loved.

Can you believe her? Posing on her own and grinning at one week old. Unbelievable. Watch out world, here she comes.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thanksgiving Roundup {Capture the Magic Project}

I spent a good portion of the day in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day, but it was so wonderful. Some of the most memorable moments that we created and captured were:

  • Our fall foliage mobiles that we put up in three doorways in our home. We picked up the leaves in Central Park, and after a semi-failed attempt to preserve the color in glycerin (only like 10 worked- the rest turned brown. Any suggestions?), we went with gorgeous fresh leaves and pressed them overnight. We suspended them with sewing thread, and I absolutely loved how the leaves would turn and sway when we'd walk past. I was actually sad to take them down to put up holiday decor. This will be a new tradition.
  • Going to see the balloons inflated for the Macey's Thanksgiving Day Parade the night before. I loved seeing all the people in the windows of the surrounding apartment complexes looking down on the balloons and the crazy crowd.
  • Making a "pa-corn turkey" (as Ella calls it), a brown paper turkey filled with popcorn (tutorial via One Charming Party). We "carved" it with a knife and ate the popcorn while we watched the parade and identified balloons we'd seen before. Definitely a new tradition
  • Having my darling cousin Taylor here from DC. Thanksgiving is fir families and we were so thrilled that she chose to join us.
  • Making pies with my daughter. We even made some mini pies just for her.
  • Eating candied yams and enjoying my successful first attempt at making dinner rolls. They were delicious, but my mom's are legendary, so I have a long way to go.
  • I cooked my turkey upside down on accident. I was kind of grossed out by the raw bird (must have been something to do with the neck and giblets and flashbacks to Pioneer Trek). I didn't even realize that it was the wrong side- they do look fairly similar since there is no head :) so I thought I ruined it when I pulled it out. Nope! It was so delicious! Nice and tender. After telling a few people about my little mishap I heard from more than one person that a lot of people do that so the juices drip down onto the breast. That's what I was going for all along, right? Yea, I was just trying to be gourmet. Right.
  • Going to the zoo and walking through Central Park the day after Thanksgiving - I'd never seen it so empty and it was really strange.
  • Buying our Christmas tree from the "tree lot" set up on the side of the street in our neighborhood was a definite highlight. We were worried about getting it home, but luckily the cost included delivery (that poor, poor teenage boy) and setup. Nice! We got free Charlie Brown trees for both of our kids, which was extra fun.
What were your favorite Thanksgiving moments? It's so interesting to me how often the most memorable moments are not the big ones, but the little ones, or the anticipation lead up to the big events.