Archive for December, 2010


Thursday, December 30th, 2010

It’s that time of the year again and I’ve just realized I never got around to making a Christmas post last year.  I may have to add that in retroactively once I’m finished with this one.

Having gone home and experienced Canadian winters last year, I was more than happy to stay in London where the thermometer rarely dips below 0°C.  Also, it was to be my first official Christmas with Danni so taking off and leaving her on her own didn’t seem like the thing to do for the festive season.

We spent Christmas eve together eating way too much and watching several Christmas movies (you can’t go wrong with Elf).  Sleep came easily after a few pints, a trick I’m willing to bet my mom would have paid good money to learn when I was an over-excitable child waiting for Santa.  There’s probably something to be said about giving children beer, but I’m sure there’s a balance to be struck there.

Christmas eve with our tree and table of snacks.

Danni was up shortly before 6am Christmas morning, but I made her sleep for another hour and she was content to open her stocking (sound familiar mom?) while I collapsed back into a coma.

After the gifts were opened (the winning gift being my new kindle!) it was time to get our Christmas dinner rolling.  We’d done a bit of prep work the day before but I’d never made a turkey myself so it was all a bit overwhelming.  Undaunted, and with the support of a few trips to youtube, some emails and phone calls home I was on my way.

Our turkey, ready for the oven.

Nothing says Christmas like a bacon wrapped turkey!  While it was in the oven doing it’s thing, we took the time to set up a mini photography studio in the living room to do some holiday portraits.  I love playing with the lights, but Danni tends to get impatient so it was just a simple 2 light setup on either side of the camera.  Large shoot through on camera right as the main light, small silver bounced umbrella on the far left.

Danni and I doing our Christmas portrait.

After the portraits, I spent an hour or so getting the side dishes ready and did quite well getting everything out in time.  We used the fancy upstairs dinning table for the first time since moving into this flat (as well as the dumbwaiter, which every flat should have) and it all turned out really nicely.

Our Christmas feast!

There are quite a few more photos in the gallery.

I thought I’d also make a quick mention of the project I’m going to attempt in 2011.  A photo a day for the entire year.  I’ve set up a separate website specifically for this endeavor, but the photos will be posted in the usual gallery and can also be accessed here.  I’ll likely post a monthly round-up at the end of each month with my favourite images from the previous few weeks here, just as a little reminder more than anything.

Wish me luck!

Christmas Snow

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Depending on how you look at it, London has been blessed or cursed with a fair bit of snow over the past few days.  For me, I love it!  It’s just hovering around freezing which means it’s not too cold to be out for a stroll or to shoot a few shots.  If you happen to have any desire to travel to or from London itself by any of the available means then it’s more akin to an extended Freddy Krueger style nightmare with very little chance of escape.

St. Katherine Docks

The Canadian in me can’t help but chuckle a little bit at these catastrophic weather events that bring tens of millimeters of snow and drag the city to it’s knees.  Back home we call this sort of weather June.

The HMS Belfast

Not one to be an ungrateful foreigner who moans about the country I feel I have to say I really do love living here.  But honestly, every year the snow falls and every year the government & transportation services look up into the sky and claim that Armageddon is at last upon us.  Everything shuts down for days while some department does a feasibility study on whether or not the country should invest in the infrastructure that would be able to handle such a mild dusting of snow.

The answer comes days after the snow is gone and is inevitably No, which sets us up perfectly to do it all again when the next blizzard arrives.

Path through the snow.

Anyway, the whole reason I was out on Saturday night (after consuming festive beverages the four nights prior) was to celebrate a friends birthday and enjoy some of the pre-Christmas spirit.  As a result, I felt at the time that my photos were a lot better than they actually were, hence all of the heavy processing to salvage a few of the shots.

The tunnel under Tower Bridge Road.

There are a couple more in the gallery as per usual.

Christmas Baking

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

One of the things I remember best about Christmas as a child is all of the yummy Christmas treats my mom used to make for us.  From about the end of November she would keep the kitchen in a constant state of activity and there was always something for us to help out with.  Decorating cookies, dipping chocolate cherries, washing dishes…but mostly ‘cleaning’ the icing mixers of all that pesky leftover icing.  Someone had to do it.

In an effort to get ‘into the Christmas Spirit’ and to really help Danni celebrate her first festive season, we’ve decided to renew that tradition and make ourselves fat bake all of my childhood favourites.  Last week was butter tarts and a new addition called Rocky Road Crunches.  (We’ll actually have to remake both of these this weekend as our supply has already run dry.)

This past weekend we made sugar cookies and something a bit more challenging but an all time favourite from my childhood.  The gingerbread house.

Sugar Cookies with my fancy new cookie cutters.

Not wanting to tackle the gingerbread house blindly, I picked up this book from Amazon last week and read all of the important bits before setting out on our confection construction.  I then spent a fair bit of time looking at gingerbread house images online to decide just how to design our first home. The book includes a design for a simple 4 walled affair, boring!    I wanted to branch out and push the limits a bit so I spent a good hour designing the templates necessary.  It was admittedly a little ambitious and would either be a great first attempt or a glorious mess of gingerbread and frosting.

I figured delicious either way, so why not go all out!

Baking the gingerbread house bits.

I messed up a bit on the actual gingerbread recipe by using too much flour so it was tough to roll out, but we managed after letting it warm back up to room temperature.  Patience is not easy and I’m sure as a 6 year old I wouldn’t have stood for this delay, but it was a necessary step.

One of the things I remember clearly about my mom’s gingerbread houses were the candy glass windows so I knew I had to recreate those.  There were instructions in the book on how to do it, but that involved making them separately  and gluing them in with icing after.  Certain that’s not how we did it as a child, a quick call to mom revealed the secret and we were on our way.

After adding the candy glass to the windows.

I really wanted to take a few photos of us doing the actual construction and decoration of our first home, but there was so much icing and powdered sugar everywhere so you’ll have to use your imagination for that part.  The final home looks like this:

The front of our new home.

Side view with the shuttered window.

The other side of our home.

Final shot of the front of the building, fancy trees and all.

Surprising 2 whole days later it looks exactly the same.  It may have something to do with the fact that I ate my weight in candy while building and decorating the house.  It turns out I still need my mom around to tell me to stop eating all of the sweets as I have the same self control my 6 year old self had when it comes to sugar.

There are a couple more photos of the house and cookies in the gallery.