Travel: Tahoe not white Christmas

Winter Break 2011 found T and I in Tahoe for Christmas with my Mom's side of the family. We did this for the first time two years ago and you can check it out here Tahoe Xmas 2009, if you missed it. Two years ago I had my first White Christmas. The snow was so good that T started skiing again after a 20-year break and we ended up spending a lot of time in Tahoe that winter. That was the winter I learned to snowboard. There was a lot of snow that winter.

There wasn't any snow this year and it kind of surprised me. In my head I was thinking we would be skiing all week like a lot of people did two years ago but that didn't happen. Instead we were able to hike and run, ice skate and sit around and read books if we wanted to. It was a completely different holiday.

Three moments stand out in my mind about this Tahoe Christmas:

Happy Hour everyday. The middle sister decided long before we drove up to Tahoe that we would have happy hour every night. She created themed nights that had signature drinks and appetizers. In theory happy hour was supposed to start at 4 or 4:30ish but I remember a day when all the girls were home and we started at 2. Hey, it's happy hour whenever you're thirsty! Nothing screams "snow bunny" minus the snow like happy hour. It was awesome.

Christmas morning.
Because there was no snow, there never seemed to be a time when all ten of us were together for long. I'm not sure if snow makes everyone hunker down or what but this year there were three days when people drove into Reno and were gone the whole day. Needless to say they missed happy hour and, as my mom would call it, "family time". The only time we were all together was Christmas morning.

But Christmas morning was awesome. My cousin made Panattoni French Toast and we all exchanged "stocking stuffers". I loved watching my family open their gifts and I got some great things too!

Another things that stands out in my mind is ice skating and morning runs. The middle sister and I started the morning runs and different days different people went with us. It was cold out (about 17 degrees when we would start) and I tried to layer and wear my snow gloves when we went out. I still felt frozen when we would get back from the 4 mile run / walk. Running hills at altitude is definitely harder than running flats at sea level and I got worked over pretty well. I really need to start doing some hill training when I run in 2012.

A friend of my uncles' arranged for all of us to go ice skating one night on a local pond that had frozen over. The cocktail sister brought hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps. Someone brought a fire pit and electric lights allowed us to skate well into the night. It was awesome!


Strawberries for Christmas?

I am not having strawberries for Christmas even though I am still seeing shriveled up versions of them in the Farmers Market (I know I live in Southern California but that is too much). Hello! Strawberries are a Summer food. Stop trying to grow them year round, they taste like paste this time of year!

Unless you live in Australia.

I had a strange "ah ha" moment last week when I received a Donna Hay magazine in the mail and all the Christmas dinners looked like summer BBQs. And it dawned on me, it is summer in Australia during Christmas. Weird. It would be like us celebrating 4th of July right now. In the cold and rain with all the wrong foods!

First I have to remind you that I am not crazy. It makes perfect sense that Australia is experiencing summer right now because they are south of the equator. Everyone south of the equator is experiencing summer. It just dawned on me how experiencing summer during Christmas completly changes what you get to eat!

Food is a very big deal to me. I love it. Eating is one of my favorite things to do but all of a sudden it felt very wrong to be eating strawberries for Christmas. So wrong that I thought about it for days. And not in the judging kind of way but in the way where it made me realize things about myself. Like how important certain foods are to me at certain times of the year. And how I have somehow started eating seasonal foods and when I see things that are out of season I notice it.

I am lucky to live in Southern California where we have Farmers Markets year round. I watch the produce go through seasons and get excited when certain things start to show up. The idea of strawberries for Christmas just seemed crazy!

(In other news I absolutely adore Donna Hay magazine and save issues like this to use when we are having summer.)


Inspired by the unexpected

A "moment" captured by me in the Dominican Republic.

On Friday I saw a free lecture by Joe Buissink, a "Beverly Hills Wedding Photographer". I didn't walk in expecting anything, I can't even remember if I knew he was a wedding photographer but I walked out inspired and looking for every beautiful moment I came across.

Joe was a story teller with his words and his images. He was passionate about catching as many "moments" as he could and being able to give those "moments" to someone forever through the pictures he captured. Joe talked about "shooting from the hip" and trying to capture everything "in camera" instead of correcting later in Photoshop.

I studied photography when photoshop was starting to be taught in colleges. My first years of photography were all traditional darkroom and film stuff. I loved it. I had to trust that I had the shot with film. There was no "checking the back of the camera" to make sure. Joe talked about a lot of things but one of them was this idea that photographers that shoot digital miss a lot of great moments because they keep checking the image on the back of the camera. I started laughing at this because it is so true. I see it happen all the time. I see it at weddings, family gatherings, and even just walking by people taking pictures. They take the picture and the minute they look at the back of the camera the photo they really should have gotten happens. They miss the moment.

I have a few moment pictures and after listening to Joe I went home and looked through my old portfolio. He had recommended doing this at the lecture and said something to the affect that each picture you shoot has your footprint in it. Or a way of seeing yourself in each picture you took. It turns out he is right. I pulled out some of my pictures and found my footprint. These pictures took me right back to the moment I shot them. It was incredible. This idea of shooting pictures for myself. Loving the images I had and capturing a moment. It almost made me want to start being a photographer again.

Joe Buissink inspired me take more pictures and find the "moments" in life. The Friday night lecture turned into the most inspirational thing I've done in a long time. Thanks Joe!