Thursday, December 22, 2016

Favorite Photos from 2016

As 2016 draws to a close, I am reminded how much I rely on my photos to jog my memory about all that I've done throughout the year. If I didn't take photos, I swear that I would completely forget half of it. That's part of the reason why I blog... to remind myself of where I've been. There are a few images, however, that stand out in my mind either because I like the visual or because of the story behind it. Here are some of my favorites from the past year.

The Light Inside by James Turrell

The above photo is the underground tunnel connecting two buildings that make up the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. As the minutes tick by, the color gradually morphs from one part of the spectrum to another. I had talked my tween daughter into joining me for the Kusama special exhibit, and I'd been pleasantly surprised by how engrossed she was by the rest of the museum, especially when she had her camera out. This was such a special day for me as I was finally able to relinquish my "nervous mother hen" role that I typically play when my kids are surrounded by priceless, delicate objects and did not feel compelled to rush before my child got bored. When it was time to go, neither of us felt ready to leave. I can't remember any other time that's happened at an art museum.

Big Top Candy Shop on South Congress Street in Austin, Texas

When I took this photo, I didn't realize that my shadow was serendipitously aligned with my daughter so that it blocked the window reflection, allowing her face to come through. I like the effect. This was taken at the end of a great day playing tourist in our hometown with other local friends. Everyone always talks about how cool SoCo is, and attending a sewing summer camp a few blocks away gave us an opportunity to finally explore.

Sadly, I've just found out that the sewing store, Stitch Lab, which is located in an adorable, decades-old cottage will soon be permanently shutting down so that the cottages can be demolished and a modern condo tower built in its place. The property taxes were simply getting too high as this area becomes more gentrified. It's a typical Austin tale that I do not enjoy.

The Shambles in York, England

Getting to explore England was a dream come true. While in York, we spent some time on The Shambles which has been nicknamed by Google Street View as "Britain's Most Picturesque Street." I was already getting a Harry Potter/Diagon Alley vibe when I came across this Wanted poster for Bellatrix Lestrange. That clinched it. My family waited impatiently as I tried to angle my camera to capture both the poster and the narrow street. When we later visited the indoor movie set for Diagon Alley at the Warner Brothers Studio Harry Potter Studio Tour, I was surprised to see that it was much wider than The Shambles.

Catching Pokemon at Stonehenge

Pokemon Go and our trip to England will be forever intertwined in my memory. The game had been released in the USA right before we started our trip but had yet to be released in the UK. Hence, my kids were one of the few people playing at each of the touristy places we visited. My boy captured the gym at Stonehenge, and it stayed captured by him for the remainder of our time on site. I could see others surreptitiously looking over my kids' shoulders to see how the game was played and whispering to their friends about it. I will admit that allowing my kids to play gave me some extra time at Stonehenge before they started asking when we could leave. For some reason, they didn't want to listen to every single track on the audio guide as I did.

Tent camping

This photo is more about the memories connected with it than the actual image itself. This was my first time tent camping in almost 20 years. I'm not really a tent camping kind of gal. I'll pick glamping — or better yet, a 5 star resort — over a tent any day. My oldest son, on the other hand, received a Boy Scout patch for tent camping more than 50 days total. Yet, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and woke up to this view. Why in the world did I do it? I am a Girl Scout troop leader. I was so nervous about tent camping that I practiced setting up all 3 of my tents — one for me, and two for the troop — in my living room that week. The campfire and s'mores went really well; then, all heck broke loose when it was time for bed. To make a long story short, one of the troop tents was entirely abandoned, and seven girls crammed into a tent that really wasn't designed to hold that many. Imagine a bunch of sardines in a sauna, and you will get an idea of how crowded and hot their tent was. So, whenever I see this photo, it's with a sigh of relief that everyone got through the night with no additional drama.

Not watching the in-flight movie

This photo sums up air travel for my tall husband. He has zero leg room. He keeps nothing under the seat in front of him so that he can attempt to stretch out his legs. The seat back is often not high enough for him to rest his head on it. And when the person in front of him reclines, he can no longer tilt the screen enough to view the in-flight movie. He's also too courteous to ask them to put the seat upright much less install one of those recline blockers. The struggle is real. (Not quite sure why I'm categorizing this as a Favorite Photo. I must be twisted.)

Carrément Chocolat cake

This photo has nothing to do with travel. It's all about my other loves — baking and chocolate. In 2016 alone, I visited both a chocolate museum in York, England and a chocolate factory in Vermont. I had been staring at the cover of Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan for while and drooling over the cake pictured on it. When my birthday rolled around, I figured it was a great excuse to make it for myself. It's just as delicious as it looks. Chocolate cake is soaked in a simple sugar syrup and layered with a silky, chocolate custard. The whole thing is covered in luscious chocolate ganache glaze then piled high with shards of salted chocolate. It was tons of work but turned out fantastic and looked just like the cookbook cover, so I had to take a photo of course.

For those of you celebrating it, Merry Christmas!

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  1. Soda Shop and Shambles are wonderful photos and the tent story and photo make me smile. :)

  2. Oh your poor husband. I guess there really are advantages to being as short as I am, and one is fitting into the snug confines of an airplane these days. Loved the shots you offered. Happy Holidays to you~

  3. What a lovely collection of memories, and well done to your son for owning the gym at Stonehenge for so long. We also got hooked up with Pokemon-go and walked many many kilometres.

  4. Yes, air travel is one of the times that I'm really glad I'm short. I can even stand up straight underneath the overhead compartments.

  5. Yes, I remember your Pokemon Go post. It's an engrossing game, isn't it.

  6. Looks like you had a wonderful year. I also enjoyed the Harry Potter studio after visiting York a number of years ago.

  7. Love all the photos! Looks like it was a wonderful year! Thanks for sharing!

  8. I love the photos. I'm sure they bring back many wonderful memories from your year. Sometimes I think that I didn't do much during the year but when I go back and look at photos, I realize I've done so much. Thanks for sharing! #weekendwanderlust

  9. Looks like you had a fun year and I like how you've picked photos that represent memories rather than places. You definitely hit some fun spots in England and would love to spend more time there. I have to say finishing with a shot of that delicious cake is a little evil, all I want is that cake now! #WeekendWanderlust

  10. Weren't those studios amazing? It's great to see how they make that movie magic.

  11. I think my kids now remember things better than I did. I blame the mommy brain -- or perhaps the abundance of experiences I've had.

  12. That cake was soooooo yummy. I need to make it again.

  13. Great photos to link to great memories :) I guess in-flight movies screens should have a tilting option! :)

  14. I always take a lot of photos as well .. probably for the same reason as you! I absolutely love looking back on them and they always bring a smile to my face and fond memories come flooding back. I love that you went on a Pokemon hunt and found one at Stonehenge - now that's a unique shot! Thanks for sharing your favourite pics with us, it's lovely to have an insight into your 2016! Merry Christmas and here's to many more photos in 2017!

  15. Great photos, especially the one in the museum! I find that I take more and more photos lately: a few of the particular subject or view or whatever, but then also a quick snap of the sign that explains it or names it. That way I hardly ever have to take any notes because the information is there on the next photo. Thank goodness for digital photography!

  16. The chocolate cake looks delicious and must have been a wonderful treat for your birthday. Great baking! :)

  17. Hi, Michele! Lovely photos and memories. Your pokemon adventure made me laugh. I have never figured out the fascination, but if it keeps kids entertained when you're trying to visit an historical site, why not! I would not be as polite as your husband. Sometimes i don't say anything and just put up with the seat in my face, but other times I smile and do the tap and tap and point at my knees...(hehe). Your chocolate cake looks amazing. This summer I discovered the best maple syrup ever. It's produced by a farm in Nova Scotia just down the road from where I will be living sometime in 2017 or 2018! I brought two cans back and am trying to make the second can last as long as possible. Thanks for linking up this week. #TPThursday Happy New Year!

  18. Lovely post Michelle. The chocolate cake looks delicious and I so understand your husbands 'tall' problem. My husband has the same problem on airplanes:)
    Also many thanks for commenting on my blog. I'm a new blogger so I'm grateful for the support.

  19. The Shambles is such a great street to visit, a real time capsual


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