... I see France.

After popping by London, our next stop on our jaunt through Europe was Paris, France. We took the train from London to Paris, and I had my first experience with the Chunnel. Aside from some ear-popping and slight anxiety about being on a train that whizzes through a tunnel under the English Channel, our commute from London to Paris was quick and easy.

We had beautiful weather in Paris, and we covered some serious ground. My first glance of Paris was the city at twilight with the Eiffel Tower illuminated in the background. Pretty awesome. It was beautiful in daylight as well. Then we walked along the Champs Élysées... where I sang Champs Élysées by NOFX to myself... it's the little things in life, people! My favorite part about our stop in Paris was lunch in the Luxembourg Gardens on a beautiful sunny day - complete with people watching and a band playing live music in the background. Again, the little things! Here are some of my favorite shots from Paris:


Just arrived from London... walking along the Seine at night.

Aux Champs-Élysées,
Aux Champs-Élysées.
Au soleil sous la pluie
A midi ou minuit
Il y a tout c' que vous voulez
Aux Champs-Élysées

Reunion with Alex's friend Marc from grad school


Approaching the Eiffel Tower

Walking the streets of Paris

Luxembourg Gardens

Luxembourg Gardens

Luxembourg Gardens

Making our mark on the Love Lock Bridge by Notre Dame

Notre Dame Cathedral

The Louvre

Passing through London

Over the summer, Alex and I went on a whirlwind trip through Europe. Five cities in twelve days. First stop: London! Here are a few of my favorite shots:

Our navigation captain Alex, without whom the
discoveries of this trip would not have been possible.
(Well... until he gave up mapping duties when we
landed in Berlin, at least.)

On our way from our hotel to check out
this city of London we keep hearing about!

Passing through Piccadilly Circus

View of Big Ben from one of London's oldest pubs

Surprise dinner at "Dinner by Heston Blumenthal" which gained
a Michelin star within a year of opening in 2011, and was
rated 7th best restaurant in the world in 2013, NBD!
I felt a little out of place showing up after a long day of
sightseeing in jeans and a t shirt but they didn't seem to mind.


Window gardens on our walk to the Tate Modern Museum

More from our walk to the Tate Modern.

A lovable pigeon who was hanging out on the pavement
when we arrived at the Tate, and was still
lounging on the pavement when we left
a couple of hours later. He was pretty chill.
Yes - I believe it was the same pigeon both times.

Borough Market: location of Alex's favorite sandwich
from the entire trip (salt beef sandwich for those wondering)
as well as two pretty incredible smoothies.
Plus many other delicacies we sadly did not get a chance to try.  

London Bridge!

Blue Trees of London

London residents in their natural habitat: Ye Olde Cheshire Pub.

I think this is Westminster Abbey but I honestly don't remember!

Pretty scene from a time when we stopped walking
from exhaustion and sat in a park.

Big Ben!

Trying to make it to Harrods before it closed at 9pm.
We missed it by a moment, but I enjoyed seeing it
from the outside at night, at least.

Next up... Paris, France!

Fall Photo Shoots: Family Fun Time

Fall might just be the perfect time of year for outdoor photo shoots in New England. I had the pleasure of doing a few family photo shoots this year before all the leaves fell off the trees, and before gloves and hats were mandatory (OK - one shoot was borderline on the chilly side).

Family photo shoots are always fun and interesting. Getting a child to smile can be challenging, but the final product is always worth the effort! My favorite shots sometimes even end up being the outtakes - the ones that might not be fit for a holiday card, but definitely reflect the subjects' true personalities.

Here are a few of my favorites from Fall 2013. We have Asher, Jackson, and Caleb... with special appearances by their parents and occasional pets. All great families, I'm so lucky to have the chance to work with them and help them capture family moments.

Asher, Laura and Nathan


Jackson, Beth and Brian (and Cupcake)







Caleb, Emily and Christopher







What a bunch of good looking people! They make my job too easy!


R.I.P. Hilltop Steakhouse



Hilltop Steakhouse, thanks for the memories!

I remember when I took this picture. When I worked in Malden, I would drive by The Hilltop on Route 1 all the time. Horrendous traffic aside, I really enjoy driving on Route 1 because each drive is like a trip through a sign museum. It's even better if I am a passenger instead of the driver so I can pay close attention to the details around me instead of paying close attention to the cars on the road. Route 1 is filled with signs that time forgot, and that's why I like it so much.

I had always wanted to take a picture of The Hilltop sign, but timing wasn't always right. I either didn't have my camera, the weather was bad, or too many lights were out on the sign (I can't remember the last time I saw it completely illuminated). Well one night everything fell into place. I was driving by, noticed that enough lights were working, it wasn't raining or snowing, and my camera was in my bag. I veered into the parking lot, found the best angle, and shot away.

I loved this sign not just for its unique design and towering height. I loved it for the memories it held, too. The Hilltop is one of the first restaurants I can ever remember going to with my family. I remember having to wait in line. I remember wondering if we'd end up in Sioux City, Santa Fe, Kansas City, etc. I remember Shirley Temples with extra cherries. And I remember my mom reminiscing about the good old days as a waitress there when she was younger.

I haven't been back in years, and that's probably for the best since the consensus is that the restaurant started going downhill a long time ago. The doors are now set to permanently close at the end of the month. Regardless of how it ended up, The Hilltop will hold a small place in my heart! I wonder what they will do with the sign. Here's hoping it spends the rest of its days in an actual sign museum.

Remembering Google Reader: Some of my favorite starred posts


I'm going to miss Google Reader. We have so many memories together. It's taught me so many things. But I guess nothing is forever.

As I was doing my final Google Reader business of exporting my feeds and making sure everything seamlessly transitions to Feedly, I went back through my starred items. I've been using Google Reader since 2008. It's funny to see how the topics of articles I've liked have changed and evolved as I have changed and evolved personally.

For nostalgia's sake, here are some of my favorite articles starred in Google Reader over the years:

What the Nose Knows | LOST Magazine, September 2008
White Pear Compote Recipe | Mad Tasty, December 2009
Stave Off Snacking by Brushing Your Teeth | Lifehacker, February 2010
The Etsy Seller Handbook | Etsy, November 2010
How to Survive a 10 Hour Flight Like a Lady | The Hairpin, September 2011
A Word About Cupcakes | HelloGiggles, October 2011
Dear Hydrangeas | The Hairpin, October 2011
Feed Any Vegan or Food-Allergy Prone Friend | Lifehacker, April 2012
Ten Thousand | xkcd, May 2012
DIY Strawberry Vodka | MakeZine, June 2012
Handmade Ryan Gosling | June 2012
How Many Have You Loved? | Mashable, October 2012
Progress | The Incurable Optimist, November 2012
The Annotated Wisdom of Louis C.K. | Splitsider, February 2013
How to Be Happy | I Will Teach You to Be Rich, April 2013

RIP Google Reader - you were a dear, reliable, wise friend!

leilockheart:

by George Bernard Shaw

It's been a lovely year.

Although this blog has been less than eventful in recent months, much of my creative focus over the last 366 days was on my daily photo project of 2012: Daily Lovely. I took a photo a day of something lovely, happy, fun and enjoyable in my day. I've always been one to try to notice the little pops of happiness in each day, but this really allowed me to hone in on that skill! I had a great time chronicling my year via Instagram. The project is over but the effect will be lasting on me. Here are a few of my favorites from 2012:


      


Other highlights of this year included:

  • Turned 30! So far things keep looking up and I am enjoying this new decade.
  • Setting a goal to train and run my first race - then running 3 total by the end of the year! Somehow I was able to make the habit of running stick and I now pull it off consistently several times a week.
  • Took an introduction to metalsmithing class and learned how to make jewelry. It was pretty satisfying to get behind the bench and learn the basics to help get a better knowledge of the craft. 
  • Read some great books:
    • Born Standing Up by the admirable and hilarious Steve Martin - a memoir about his stand-up career and early life in general. It made me love and respect him even more than I already did - and that is saying a lot considering he is my second favorite comedian next to Bill Murray.
    • You're Not Doing it Right by Michael Ian Black - another hilarious yet touching insight into the life of another one of my favorite comedians. 
    • I Will Teach You to Be Rich by my new financial hero Ramit Sethi. I had seen his guide to automating your finances a long time ago but only started absorbing the rest of his material this year. There is a LOT of information tailored to young adults that is invaluable and written in the most easy to comprehend manner I have seen since I started taking an interest in financial planning after I graduated college. 
  • Took an incredible vacation to Bermuda and then told hurricane Leslie to eat my dust.
  • Fell in love with thehairpin.com over and over again.
  • Kept my fingers crossed that Bill Murray would crash at my place on August 28. He was a no show but we still had a great time watching the best movie ever aka What About Bob.
  • Witnessed my first bluegrass live performance by Best Ever Chicken at Rosebud in Davis and can't believe I have been missing out on a ridiculously awesome genre in my life until now.
And lots more. 

Looking forward to 2013 and whatever the year decides to throw at me!