Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012; Year in review

2012 was a busy year for Alex and I.  This year was different than others in that we did fewer home projects and more traveling!  In late December 2011, Alex and I made a trip out to Oregon.  We spent a few days in Bend to see Crater Lake (which we didn't, because it was too foggy), then we spent the rest of the time in Portland.  Oregon was so much cooler than I expected.  See my post about it!  We drank lots of tasty craft beer, ate some great food-truck food (Thank you, Grilled Cheese Grill!), met a lot of cool people, and saw some amazing sites!  One of my favorite parts of Oregon was hiking the trails and seeing the waterfalls.  It truly felt like we were in another world! 


Though we didn't get to see Crater Lake, we stumbled upon another amazing natural wonder nearby.  We had breakfast at a small restaurant in Bend that morning before driving to Crater Lake and our waitress recommended we check out the Umpqua Hot Springs.  We were both so happy she recommended this because it was incredible!  See my post about it.  It saved the day!

In February, Alex and I tackled a small home project we'd be putting off for years!  We ripped up our foyer flooring and tore out the foyer closet shelving.  We laid tile, put in a built-in bench, a few shelves, and coat hooks. See the before and after below.  It looks different now that we have coats and a seat pad there but you get the idea.
Before

After 
Some of Alex's and my friends were expecting their first child earlier this year and I did a photo shoot for them.  Here are a couple of my favorites!

I picked up crochet this year and made a baby blanket for those two featured above!

I turned 26 in March and celebrated at Snowshoe Resort in West Virginia.

I welcomed spring in April!  I put in a lot of hard work in the garden; it's always rewarding seeing those plants come up in the spring.

In May, I shot a wedding at Meadowlark Gardens in Vienna.

Later in May, I completed another baby blanket for a faraway friend who I miss dearly!

Also in late May, we finished our third Warrior Dash race!

One night on a walk, Alex and I came upon a cat!  He was extra friendly and followed us home.  Little did I know, this guy would adopt us and we would have a pet!
 You are quite familiar with Strauss, no doubt!
In June, I planted more flowers!
In July, Alex and I celebrated our fourth anniversary!  We also celebrated Alex's 27th birthday with a smoker myself and his parents went in on.  I think he liked it!

In August, I shot a wedding in Hamilton for an old high school friend.


In September, Alex and I attended our long-time friends', Adam and Catherine, wedding.  We made a weekend trip up to Boston and had a blast!  It was so great to see them tie the knot!  On our drive to Boston, we stopped at a Venezuelan restaurant in Connecticut called Valencia Luncheria, famous for its' Arepas.  It was phenomenal!



One of the biggest adventures of the year for us was our three week trip to Europe.  We visited Belgium (Brussels and Brugge), France (Paris and Nice), and Italy (Lake Como and Rome).  We had tons of beer, chocolate, and waffles in Belgium! 




We took the train to Paris and stayed in a tiny flat on the 5th floor.  Around the corner was the best bakery!  Every morning we'd get a croissant and whatever else looked tasty!  We visited all the major museums and sights.  We were in Paris for a solid seven days.
 This is the view out the hatch of our loft
 The Belleville Gardens; one of my favorite spots in the city!
 We had a grocery store across the street and got great stuff like what's pictured above.  All that was about 10 Euros.  One of the most famous restaurants in Paris was right around the corner from our flat; Le Chateaubriand.  Due to neither of us knowing any French, we couldn't get a reservation in time but we did get into its' sister restaurant, Le Dauphin.  It was a wonderful meal and we had something totally new and different; squid ink risotto!  It's so black, it stains your mouth.
 We visited Notre Dame, of course
 Another of my favorites spots was the Luxembourg Gardens!  These gardens were incredible
 yet another favorite, Palace of Versailles!  We spent all day here walking around the massive gardens.

 here's a shot of the stairs we'd walk up every day to our flat

 The Pere Lachaise cemetery was incredible.  We spent several hours walking around
On our last day in Paris, we checked out The Catacombs.  It was fascinating.

From Paris, we took the train to Nice.  I think both Alex and I were sad we didn't have more time in Nice as it was gorgeous and the food was phenomenal!
 We hiked up to one of the highest points in the city!
 On every Thursday morning there's an open-air market with all kinds of stuff: fresh flowers, spices, fruits, vegetables, crafts, cheeses, etc.
 It was incredible!  Alex and I both expressed how wonderful it would be to be able to stock up on fresh spices every week and all the new dishes we could make
 On our second day in Nice, the sun came out and it was lovely!  Most of our trip up to this point was cold!  We hadn't anticipated the cold so we were a bit unprepared in Belgium and Paris.  I took the opportunity to break out my summer clothes I packed!  In case you are curious, this is everything I packed for three weeks in Europe:


 This is a place Alex and I had lunch, Nissa Socca. The style of food in Nice is called Nicois.  A typical Nicois food is ratatoille.  Alex ordered that for lunch and it was one of the best dishes I've ever had!  It was so flavorful. 
Our dinner that night was just as memorable at a restaurant called La Table d'Alziari.  It's a family-owned restaurant where the menu always changes.  The owner spoke a bit of English and was kind enough to explain the menu to us.  We had an excellent dinner and it was very affordable!  We found Nice was much cheaper than a lot of the other spots in Europe we visited.  We both ordered appetizers; I ordered zucchini flowers (a Nicois food).  We had a few pitchers of wine, both had main courses and both ordered desserts.  The whole meal was around 70 Euros, and another of the best meals I've ever had!

We took four different trains to our next stop, Mennagio, on Lake Como in Italy.  We checked into our adorable B&B and met our lovely hostess, Nadia.  She greeted us with coffee and cookies!
We learned very quickly that the coffee in Belgium and France is not very good.  This was the best coffee we'd had our whole trip!  I think she learned quickly how much we liked it, because she'd often send her son up with some french-press coffee. 
 Here's the B&B with the awesome peaks behind!
 Nadia told us about a wine fest a few towns up (accessible by train) that happens once a year.  It just so happened to be while we were there and she thought we might be interested.  She did warn that we might be the only tourists there as it's more a locals thing.  We learned that people come all the way from Milan for this wine fest!  Boy was it a treat!  This was probably one of the most memorable parts of our entire trip.  The wine fest winds through a small town called Morbegno, taking place in the cellars of local restaurants.  You purchase a package of tastings and follow the map with your specific color (it's all color-coded).
 We arrived a bit early but enjoyed exploring the small town of Morbegno.  We later learned this is where our hostess Nadia grew up.  We tasted a unique wine, available only in Italy, called sforzato.  If you're interested, read about it!  All the wines were absolutely amazing!  We even had a 1999 vintage wine.  Everyone was extremely friendly and made the extra effort to explain the wines in their broken-English.  We were so appreciative!
 Another day, we took a water-taxi around the lake and hit a few towns; Bellagio included.  I think Bellagio is one of the more popular spots around the lake.  It seemed more touristy than the others.
 A short boat ride from Bellagio took us to Villa Balbianello; featured in Casino Royale and a No Doubt music video. 
 The views were outrageous!
 This was our view from the restaurant we stopped at for lunch.
 To reach town, we had to walk through many fields; here's one of them!
 Our last day, we walked into town for lunch and found this cafe that had wonderful local food for a great price!  I knew it was going to be good when I ordered coffee with cream and the woman came back with a cup of coffee with a scoop of ice cream in it!  I ordered gnocci, a quesadilla type thing, and Alex got pasta specific to Lake Como.  With both our coffees and all the food, it was about 20 Euros.  The servings were HUGE!
See, told you she brought us lots of coffee!  This was on our balcony where we'd sit and write about our journeys.

Last on our journey was Rome.
 We saw a lot of the local sights; The Vatican Museum, The Colosseum, Palatine Hill, the Trevi Fountain, The Pantheon, etc.
 It was HOT in Rom!  We got to break out the summer clothes again

We had a TON of delicious gelato.  On our last night in Rome, we ate at a fantastic restaurant known for their beef tartare.  It was a great way to end our trip!

Coming home from Europe brings us to October.  I did a shoot for some friends of their baby for Halloween.
In November, we spent Thanksgiving with my family and helped them remove an old hot tub in preparation for a new one.  Alex got to operate his first fork lift!
 We even smoked the turkey!
In December, I decided to tackle one more house project before the end of the year; replacing the back splash in the kitchen.  We also added under-cabinet lighting so it really lights up the new tile!
 old, blah
new, yay!

What better way to finish out the year than a trip to snowboard in Colorado!  My family flew out to Steamboat Springs for 8 days and had some of the best skiing/snowboarding I've ever ridden in!  Steamboat got a ton of snow
So here we are, it's officially 2013!  This is the first in four years that Alex and I have been home (let alone in our home state) for New Years Eve.  Alex picked up a nasty cold on our trip so we spent it mostly on the couch.  It was kind of nice to have a low-key NYE, as so many of our others were so busy:  Vegas, Pittsburgh, and Portland! 

Who knows what 2013 holds! 

1 comment:

Marie Withrow said...

Wow - a great year! Enjoyed all the photos... Happy New Year!