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London in photos

This post is only two months late in coming, but I had the good fortune to spend a week in London for work back in November. Here are some highlights, including yummy food, sights, and pics from a street art tour:

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Aloha, Hawaii

Last week I had the amazing experience of spending a week on Kauai, Hawaii, with my colleagues. I’ve never visited a place so lush. We worked (no, really, we did!) and connected over delicious food, spirits, and even a helicopter ride.

Printing in the age of Instagram

Initially I was kind of an anti-iPhone-photographer snob… but I’ve found I’m way more likely to document the moment with my phone than dig out my hulking digital SLR with its inconvenient manual-focus portrait lens, not to mention the time it takes to transfer the resulting photos to my computer (provided I can find the camera cable, which is a challenge in and of itself) and process them in Photoshop, then wait for them to upload to the printing company. In the face of all that hassle, the simplicity and ease of use of the iPhone camera cannot be denied. It may not be fine art, but my family memories aren’t fine art, and truth be told, I love some of the photos I’ve taken with that camera.

All but three months of Gwen’s first year were stored not in an album or keepsake box, but on Flickr and Instagram. I thought about this a few weeks ago — I haven’t printed a single snapshot since Gwen was three months old. And I thought about how strange and uncomfortable that felt. Ellie has a thick baby album full of 4×6′s, Gwen has… an Instagram account.

I love digital photography, but there’s something satisfying about holding a photograph in my hands, the tactile richness of a stack of freshly-printed images, the thrill of receiving a new packet of photos in the mail. So I decided to do something about it! I went back through my archives, beginning with this photo, taken last Christmas when I first got my iPhone:

Baby Gwen

And the latest photo of my little mischief-maker:

*melt*

 

… and everything in between, which, when I sorted through it all, came out to about 300 photos.

That was almost enough to make me throw up my hands and add a few dollars to Gwen’s therapy jar (I have a few years to come up with an excuse as to why her sister has an album and she doesn’t, anyway) but after some research, I settled on PostalPix, which lets you order prints (and other products) directly from your iPhone. A few weeks later, I have a handful of envelopes full of beautiful prints, and I’ve assuaged my guilt (at least temporarily — I still haven’t worked up the ambition to put them in an album). Plus, new photos never have to touch my computer — I take them on the phone and have prints in my cart with just a few clicks. So easy.

My only complaint is you can only print in batches of 40 (when I started this process it was 60) so having a large backlog of photos meant I had to be methodical about what I’d already printed and what I hadn’t. Now that I’m caught up it’s better, but it would be much easier to purchase unlimited prints in one go. All the more reason to keep my standard printing company (iPrintFromHome — have to plug them because I love them) for large orders, and use PostalPix for snapshots.

Another iPhoneography-related service I tried recently was StickyGram, which turns your Instagram photos into magnets (I’m kind of a magnet addict). Sure, I could just use an ordinary magnet to stick my kid’s photo to the fridge, but what would be the fun in that? Photo magnets up the cute-factor. While I won’t be using StickyGram as often, it has nothing to do with their quality or service — it’s just my bank account might get mad at me, and my fridge can only hold so many magnets.

santa’s village

I’ve had a difficult time getting into the Christmas thing this year. Not sure why, although I’m guessing a last-minute trip to North Carolina for a funeral and the stress of going back to work had something to do with it. In any case, I just wasn’t feeling the holiday cheer… I’m way behind on shopping, we’re not even putting up a tree until Christmas Eve, and I ordered Christmas cards but I kinda forgot where I put them. Oops.

santa's village

Last Saturday I woke up and decided I wanted to do something to change that. So in a rare moment of spontaneity, we booked a motel room, strapped the kids into the van and were off to New Hampshire to visit Santa’s Village for the weekend. We figured this would be one of Ellie’s birthday gifts since she’s just as excited about experiences as toys (and she already has way too many of the latter).

cozy and warmIt was cold, but only in New England do people still flock to an amusement park when it’s 25 degrees out. We spent most of the time bundled up in layers with the occasional pit stop into a restaurant to warm up. You don’t see Gwen in many of these pictures because she was tucked away in her stroller, wrapped in a snow suit and a couple blankets with a canopy cover to keep the wind out. In fact, she slept through the majority of the park, waking only to eat and smile and smugly prove to us just how easy-going a baby can be.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the park was especially friendly to little kids… there was more than enough stuff to do in the two days we were there. I was worried Ellie would get scared on the rides but she LOVED them–the train, the monorail, the spinning cups, everything. She liked visiting with the reindeer and decorating her own gingerbread lady (and then inhaling it, of course.) The light display after the sun went down was spectacular (I’d hate to see their electric bill) and Tim and I both enjoyed watching Ellie soak it all up with wide eyes.

hi (rein)deer!

riding the carousel    gingerbread lady

Ironically, the only thing we didn’t do was visit with Santa… the line was too long for a three-year-old’s attention span. But you know, I don’t think Ellie missed out–the whole “sit on an old man’s lap to get candy” thing probably seems pretty creepy to a kid who is finicky around strangers.

cupcake girl

We know it was a successful trip because by the end of the day, Ellie was an overstimulated grouch. She passed out in the car on the way home and didn’t wake up for two hours. Operation: Exhaust the Preschooler was a success!

daddy's better than any stroller

And wouldn’t you know, I found a bit of Christmas spirit along the way (and a pound of homemade fudge from the candy shop certainly didn’t hurt).