Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Self Portrait

I know it is so important as a photographer to do self portraits. I have to say, not only do I rarely do any of myself, but I also rarely let anyone else get me on the other side of a camera long enough to take a photo. Not sure why. I always tell my clients how important it is to capture real life and not put it off until tomorrow as sadly, I have a few too many stories of those who did not get a tomorrow. And even if they don't like the photos of themselves when they first get them back, I tell them to put the images away for five years and promise them they will love how they look when they take them out again a few years down the road. So why do I never give myself that lecture or listen to my own advice? So as a baby step in the self portrait direction, I tried to take a few of myself in the Christmas balls this year. I have seen this done so well so often, and no idea how people do it or what lenses they use, but these are fun, even if they are not works of art of technical masterpieces. And of course I don't like them now, but I am sure I will love them to pieces in five years time.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Eve and Christmas Morn

The lead up to Christmas Day was so fun. I just adored spending so much time with the children and watching how important they felt. Now that Olso is six, he really was able to get into every aspect, from the giving of gifts, to the wrapping and the fun of giving. He would jump up and down with excitement at the thought of our faces as we opened our gifts from him and he had such fun learning to use the tape and curl the ribbon himself. Indigo was so into it too, though her wrapping skills could use a little improvement (mind you - they still soar above Ben's in neatness!)

I think my heart broke as Oslo wrote some of his notes. Can you see this one - it says how much he loves Indigo - and for him to write that on his own accord just made me melt a thousand times over.

I have to say, I was so sleep deprived this holiday and had nobody to blame but myself. On Christmas Eve, I didn't go to bed until well after midnight, even though we were home from our friends' house by nine. And then I woke at five, and was so excited about seeing the children discovering their stockings, that I didn't go back to sleep. They woke up at 6:15, but then chatted for a half hour before remembering that Santa had come!! Can you imagine? So We followed them into the living room and it was so dark so please forgive the blurred images but I was having a hard time focusing my lens. But the feeling is captured all the same. And although Santa didn't make as big a mess as last year, he still left crumbs everywhere and half nibbled food, but who can blame him if he has to eat something in every house he goes to! 

The kids were spoiled rotten. Santa had actually come to Oslo's school and when Oslo was on his lap, Santa asked him what he wanted. Oslo turned around and looked straight at him. "Didn't you get my list??!!!" he asked. Hilarious. Not even a letter, but a list. Just like to clarify it was a very polite and loving letter, even though he did get very tired writing. And Santa had indeed received it, for he had lots of fun goodies in his stocking, and then underneath were pressies of Star Wars lego and two real glowing Light Sabers. He has never even seen any of the movies, but is so into the paraphernalia nonetheless.

Indigo had asked Santa for a pwincess dwess and so he surprised her and also gave her this beautiful wand that is also a bubble blower.

Santa was kind to all of us - my sister and Tin Tin included - and we all were so lucky and happy that he knew exactly what it was we wanted. And also so happy that we hung the stockings in the fireplace upstairs since we still hadn't used it yet this winter or I would probably still be cleaning up Santa's sooty foot prints!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Day...

Anyone who lives here knows that, like last year, we have been having pretty rotten weather this autumn and winter. It is not like Bermuda. Usually, when the rest of the world is cloaked in frost and grey, we are enjoying blue skies, and just a mild nip in the air. But last year, the winds and rains came for the entire winter, and it feels like the more of the same this year. And in the weeks leading up to Christmas, the weather was so wet and windy that I think people dared not even go shopping. Even Christmas Eve offered bursts of torrential rain and storming winds. But Christmas Day was different. A break in the clouds and in the gales graced us for the holiday. We had ten adults and four children for lunch on Christmas Day and we were blessed enough to eat outside. Throughout the entire meal, as everyone was engrossed in meaningful conversation, I kept interrupting to make toasts about how thankful I was for the sun and that we were eating outdoors. We stayed outside all day and ended up lighting a fire and the kids roasted chestnuts. It was a day from Heaven.

My sister Amanda made the beautiful flower arrangements, Oslo did the place cards, and Ben did all the cooking. I was on the back end of things and didn't stop the entire day either though hard to tell what my contribution was from these photos!

The kids had their own table next to ours and it was so sweet how important they felt and how much fun they had. Oslo and I made these crackers ourselves - such fun and so personal.

Here is what we did. First of all, we cut up cardboard rolls. You can gather loo rolls, but we just used the rolls after the wrapping paper was finished. We cut two smaller ones that we used for all the crackers, and then slightly longer ones that remained inside the crackers.

We cut some wrapping paper just long enough to cover the main middle roll with the two end bits and wide enough to go all the way around.

We folded one edge so that it was neat and tidy. We taped the unfolded edge to the middle roll, then as tightly as we could, wrapped the paper around the rolls. We taped the folded edge down so it was a neat tube.

The kids looked around the house for toys that were in good condition that they didn't mind giving away. Indigo was not keen on giving up her hair tooties and bracelets, but it was the perfect opportunity to talk more about the spirit of Christmas and in the end, she was happy to share. The kids and I Googled some holiday jokes and wrote down our favourites on pieces of paper. We wanted to make hats but had no tissue paper, nor enough time, so decided those could be for the next batch.

We slightly pulled out each end bit and as we did, gently and evenly squeezed in the paper until it was gathered enough for us to tie the ribbon around it. There will be a slight hole, but it needs to be small enough that nothing is going to fall out. We filled the middle tube with the joke rolled up and the toys, and then did the same paper gathering on the other side.

We curled the ribbons and voila - beautiful homemade holiday crackers!

 I hope everyone else had as wonderful a Christmas as we did. Just such a lovely holiday and all the feelings and meanings that go with it. It is a time for family, for thankfulness, for believing, for sharing, for giving and for remembering. Merry Christmas. xx

Happy Holiday Home

Thought I would share some more images of our holiday decorations. Do so love this house we now live in - suits our style and spirits so much, mad as it is. So my friend Jen invited us over for a craft evening which we couldn't make, but when I saw what they created, Oslo and I decided we had to copy immediately. I googled 3d snowflake craft and found a video to teach us how to make these glorious snowflakes. Aren't they just so elegant and dreamy - want to make loads and use them in a shoot one day  - just so lovely.

Found these sweet little birds to finally put in my antique chinese bird cage.

And this star was another treasure found in my decorations this year - turns out they are all from my lovely friend Sarah who left the island a few years ago. Think because our tree was only the size of a cat last year, didn't really have to dig too far into the box before we ran out of room. But this house is like a maze and so full of nooks and crannies that it was such fun to decorate.

Ben is not the king of laying a fire so I decided to lay them in both rooms so that we didn't have to have a smoke filled room rather than a roaring fire - notice our kindling made from my parents' tree from last year - it burns so well - like a fireworks display - the kids love it. And yummy cedar logs on top - just the best.

My lovely assistant, Lana, gave me this sweet heart frame decoration - so thoughtful.

This is a glimpse into my second favourite room in the house - it is officially the front door foyer and it is a tower and I just love it so much. I use it as my photo studio since the light is lovely, and so of course have filled it with some of my mad antiques.

The arch is such a gorgeous detail and I had hoped my friend Shelly would be able to make a statue narrow enough to fit on the ledge, but in the meantime, I bought some willow branches and they just fill the space beautifully. So well in fact that I think I won't even need a statue there, but there is always room for another fun piece of art.

 This holiday has been one of the best yet. I am not sure if it is because we are so happy in this house, or if the kids are just at such a heavenly age, or if we are just aware of how incredibly blessed we are, but no matter the reason, and I am sure it is the combination of all of them, I am so very thankful for the holiday season. Merry Christmas! xx

Friday, December 24, 2010

Indigo's Tree

You may remember I posted some images of Oslo's Christmas tree already. So I was finally able to replace the dodgy sad excuse of a cedar for one that we could actually use as a Christmas tree. Luckily she didn't notice and is incredibly proud of this one, and rightly so - it is so perfectly shaped.  But even if she had known about the sneaky swap, she is so good natured that I know she wouldn't have minded now that she no longer has to carry it. So a few days ago, we finally decorated it in our cosy den and although I couldn't find any lights (all my strings were too long and therefore too bulky for such a wee tree) we thought it would look funky to decorate the pot with the pile of lights instead!

I have to say I prefer matte balls, but the shiny ones do reflect the lights so beautifully (if we had them!) so I like to mix it up.

Oslo was smelling to find out if is smelled as heavenly at a proper Christmas tree - sadly not!

This is the first Christmas Indigo is really really getting everything. She is so excited about Santa and all the mystery that he holds. She felt so important decorating her tree, and so thoughtful about the placement of each ball. She is singing Christmas caroles at the top of her lungs and playing so many imaginary games and keeps moving the pressies around the house and making piles and sorting.

Don't you just love these dragon flies - no idea where they came from - they just appeared in my Christmas decorations box this year - I must be on the hand-me-down list of somebody with great taste!

 Aren't these little stars sweet - the kids stuck them on the balls when we had a craft day - so simple yet makes them a little different and festive.

And two of these angels miraculously appeared in the decorations this year as well - I just adore them - so dreamy and natural so one is on the top of each tree.

The painting below usually is there, but I took it down to give honourary attention to Indigo's little tree. Can't see my lovely angel so well, but the rest of the tree pops more so I think it makes sense, even though the painting is now hanging precariously on a hook on the back of the door so hopefully no big winds will slam it.

The den is our sumptuous room, compared to the living room, which is our Zen room and decorated in only neutral colours. This room is decorated in reds, golds and warm autumnal colours - delish and perfect for dropping the blinds and snuggling up to watch films on the shower curtain! Shower curtain you wonder - was that a typo? No - I am serious. We watch movies that are projected onto a white shower curtain (with little white decorative dots) - we just haven't gotten around to getting a proper screen and we don't have a tv so it hangs on a piece of bamboo hung with string over the roman blind's curtain rod - so professional. Who knows - maybe Santa will know just what we need for Christmas this year!

So Indigo - thank you for not minding that your Mummy is obsessed with the aesthetic and insisted on swapping the tree you wanted for one that had a better shape. And thank you for decorating it so beautifully and most of all with so much love. xxx