Wrapping up 2016 with a massive picture post!


I have so many photos to share with you. I should have blogged all the events while they happened but you know how that goes. Whiz-bang gone. So I’m just going to post them in reverse order and prattle along descriptions like I do.

This year we had my first ever New Year’s party. Usually New Year’s parties and I are like oil and water, as in you can’t have them both at the same time because I fall asleep. I never stay up to ring in the new year. However, I always feel guilty about my not staying up, like I’m old and boring or something. This year we decided to run the espresso maker all night long and host a bash.


And bash it was! We turned out all the lights (except a few with red lightbulbs–shout out to my post Paris party!) and lit dozens of candles all over the place. We made a really good play list and cooked up a bunch of Chinese food (my specialty: homemade pot stickers, fried rice, sticky chicken wings, Asian slaw) and threw together a few other favorites like chips and Trader Joes bruschetta lentil dip.


We set up the ping pong table in the garage and of course fell for all the usual Party City decorations. But everyone likes to take photos right? Flash photography be what it will.


It was really fun. A few guests brought guests of their own (surprise!) and next thing we knew some French lady that I didn’t know put on her playlist (we didn’t even get to play ours) and we were dancing to the Macarena of all things. (!) It was the most fun I’ve ever had on New Years, not counting that one year in San Francisco at Union Square.  I didn’t even get a chance to watch the ball drop on tv because I was dancing and talking and having my own ball. I didn’t even feel tired once.


Now rewind to a few days before New Year’s. Descanso Gardens!!! Have you ever been? I saw a picture of The Enchanted Forest on a friend’s Instagram feed and I knew I had to go. And guess what? It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! Seriously. It was so worth the two hours of traffic we had to sit in to get there. (That says a lot coming from a freelancer who never has to drive anywhere if she doesn’t want to.)


It’s a one mile walk through a mysteriously lit forest with music and interactive installations. It’s a photographer’s dream and nightmare because it’s so hard to photograph but such a tempting challenge anyway!


I managed. It was actually a really good way to learn how to photograph in low light situations. Payam and I muddled and messed our way through AV, TV and full manual mode on my camera (which is actually his camera that I have taken over and purchased a few lenses for).


I loved this tunnel of star lights so much. Payam is a true gentleman, taking pictures of me whenever I request. Have I mentioned how much I love him?


Along the way they offer food and drinks which is charming. We were really excited to have a drink but the martini I had turned out to be so watered down it was kind of a disappointment.


More lights and more lights! It went on and on forever which was so pleasantly surprising! I really loved the moody music that echoed here and there so lightly.


This interactive display was the best, especially for kids. I wished we had brought the girls but they were with their other parents. Next year we are already making plans to bring them.


The tour ended in this Japanese tea garden with hundreds of red paper globe lights. I think it’s a nod to the fact that many acres of the gardens were acquired from Japanese who owned nurseries but were sent to internment camps during World War II. I’m not sure of the whole story on that. I need to do some more research.


Rewind again to a few days before Christmas. Cookies! This is the first year I really did all the things I wanted to do. Every year before this I have always wished I had baked cookies or made a special dinner or made homemade ornaments or gifts or whatever and every year Christmas just snuck up on me and I couldn’t pull it off. But I’ve been taking notes and I’m getting smarter at holidays.


Payam spent his pre-Christmas days making me a table. Isn’t it beautiful?!! He’s been making all kinds of intricate wooden things with different kinds of exotic woods these days. I’ll have to write a post on all his creations. He also made his mom a jewelry box and a really pretty striped tray that he’s thinking of selling in his Etsy shop. I plan to photograph everything soon.


The girls and I also made air-dry clay ornaments that totally turned out better than expected. They took a few days to dry but after a coat of paint and some spray gloss they almost looked better than ornaments you can buy in the store!


The fire has been going regularly, which makes Whiskey and I very happy.


That brings me to Christmas… games, tea, family time…


The girls put on a concert and I actually cooked a special dinner. It didn’t turn out so great. How can you screw up a pre-cooked ham and mashed potatoes? It wasn’t horrible but it was meh which of course makes me more sad than I should be. It’s the effort that counts, right? But even so I’m thinking pizza next year or maybe my Chinese food specialties. I’m done with trying new things on guests.


It was a really sweet time though. My family doesn’t celebrate Christmas so I didn’t grow up with any of these traditions but I have to say they are starting to feel more and more sentimental and familiar and I like that.christmas-2016-5

There were so many presents! Pusheen anything for Bug and unicorn everything for Joon. It is quite easy to shop for these two which is a good thing and a bad thing.


I wish they could stay this age forever.


And that was that! Stick a bow on 2016 and put it in a box! Just kidding. But that is all I have to say about 2016. I’m really excited about 2017, now that I’m getting the hang of holidays, work and family so much more.

2016 Christmas Photos


We got our Christmas pictures taken last month. It’s the second year we’ve had Vanessa Brooke take them for us and I absolutely love them. I don’t care what kind of middle-class, white-woman bandwagon, marketing ploy I’m on…it’s just cool to take family pictures every year and since I design Christmas cards for a living (well, at least one month of the year I do) I might as well make some for us too!  So that’s why I still send Christmas cards. Don’t judge.

I love seeing how much the girls change from year to year. It’s going to be hard to take last year’s photos off the wall because last year’s were really cool too. I haven’t aged as well as I’d like and I think I look better last year but whatever, right?! Time marches on!  I only have so much wall space. Next year I’ll probably feel the same way about this year’s.


Last year (I can’t find my old post on last year’s photos. Did I not post them? Musta been on Facebook only.) we had our pictures taken out in the country, walking through brush and amongst oak trees. It was so pretty. I love how the magical sunset time of day makes everyone seem all aglow.

This year Vanessa asked us if we wanted to do country, city or beach and the kids picked beach of course. I was voting for city but obviously my vote means zip. I was stressing big time too because the beach kinda knocks out all my favorite shoes. I was planning on wearing my boots, that I wear every day with everything, but that’s not gonna work with sand and surf. Flip flops seemed too casual and heels were obviously not an option.

Thankfully the day we took these photos turned out to be unseasonably warm and I wouldn’t have wanted to wear boots anyway. In fact, we all made completely different outfit choices because it was so hot! But I like it. It’s more representative of our usual Southern California lifestyle.  We don’t dress up. No Christmas sweaters here. Sometimes a random outfit from the back of the closet shows a better slice of life than some perfectly chosen one.


The orange loafers that I chose out of desperation last minute are probably my favorite thing about our Christmas card photo this year. Sometimes the wrong thing is just right.


Like kids pretending to get along just for a photo. Just kidding. They actually got along great this day because, duh we were at the beach and there were about a thousand Pokemon creatures to catch that we’d never seen before.


Most of my favorite shots are of us on this rock where you can’t even see the ocean. I don’t mind though. I love the rough texture of the rock and the colors.

November is prime beach-photo-taking season and everywhere you looked there were other families doing the exact same thing. It was hard for Vanessa to get a shot of us with the ocean in the background without having to do hours and hours of photoshop to clone out everyone else. But she managed.


Then the sun went down and we got this goober shot.

Thank you Vanessa!