Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Christmas Roundup 2013

Christmas was a whirlwind of activity. Party after party with family and friends, as well as plenty of handmade crafts and cookies. I start of course, with the obligatory out of focus Christmas tree shot. This was the first year we'd set the tree up since Addy and I moved back home and she behaved herself. Good work, Addy!

The first get together I attended was a Milford Camera Shop Reunion. MCS closed in January of 2003 and although we'd gotten together a few times after the closing, it had been several years since we caught up. I was absolutely thrilled with the turn out and got to catch up with a lot of my former coworkers and friends. These are the people that got me into photography, so they are all dear to me.

Derek, who you've seen before on my blog with these family portraits and one of his wedding pictures is the first image on my main website, and I were taking selfies on film cameras before that was even a thing. This was a pretty typical pose for us.

Bruce was the man that told me to inquire about a job at MCS. He'd been taking my picture ever since I was a little kid; my dad used to hire him for team photos in sports for as long as I can remember.

Jeff, Derek and Dave were really sporting some beards!

For a friend's holiday party, I finally busted out the Ninja Bread Men cookie cutters my brother had gotten me last Christmas. They took a while to decorate, but they were a hit of the party.

That is of course, until they got to their Christmas gift. These friends only asked their guests to bring a handmade Christmas ornament to add to their tree. I thought it would be fun to make them personalized ornaments of their two cats, Murray and Lucy. I found a website that sells dried and cleaned gourds and painted them on a snow day. Jo Ann's sells scraps of suede which I used for the ears. They came out pretty ridiculously cute!

A family tradition that my brothers and I do every year on Christmas Eve day is make cookies. Grandma Soup used to make these and we've carried it over. The May side of the family always smiles to see them and Uncle Richie says we are getting better each year. This year, Aria and Grace got the feel for the dough. We teach 'em young!

Jimmy and Nick are much better at working with the dough than I am. Below is a shot of Grandma Soup in the middle of bow production.

The end results are what we've been calling Bows and Balls. The bows look like aids ribbons and are covered with powdered sugar while the balls and covered in honey and rainbow nonpareils. As per usual with our family, we didn't know there was a specific name for these cookies, we just know how to make them. I brought a batch to another party and I got a response I would never have expected. Several members of the family rushed over to me in shock, exclaiming that I had brought Struffoli! Apparently, that is the Italian name for the honey balls. After some online research, I found that they are a Neapolitan Christmas cookie and in Calabria they are known as Scalilli. So there you go!

On to my cousin's Christmas party, where my holidays are complete with a cup of hot wassail and a piece of steak tartar. Don't judge; it's the one time of year I have it!

I cracked up at the wrapping of this present under their tree.

Hannah is getting better at that standing and walking thing...

My friends host a Christmas Eve party called the "Fon-do / Fon-don't" party. You bring an item that you know will be good in the fondue and one that will probably be horrible. We alternate between cheese and chocolate, and this year was a cheese year. My do was soft pretzels and my don't was a tangerine marshmallow. I expected it to be worse, so I was a little disappointed. The winning don't was a junior mint. It was ghastly. The rules of the night are that you have to try whatever you bring, so that keeps everyone honest and has helped us avoid crickets and anchovies. Of course, Santa Cletus makes an appearance every year. That's him with Mia above. Cletus is one of the most calm cats you will ever meet.

What about Addy? Don't you worry; she was treated to a brand new gigantic scratching post. She went to town on that thing acting pretty playful and of course, providing me with some ridiculous photo ops.

Christmas morning. Hannah has developed this annoying adorable habit. When you raise a camera, she squeezes her eyes shut and holds it for a few seconds. Then she opens them and laughs about it. It took me a few tries of waiting it out before I recognized the pattern. Oh you little devil, you!

Papi was the center of attention this year.

Grace playing with Grandma's orange pillow.

Hannah constantly on the move!

Aria and Michele opening presents.

James hamming it up over his Skylanders toys.

Presents with four kids was a little bit chaotic. It felt like everyone wanted each others presents and to open everything in sight.

My brother Jimmy made the ladies earrings based off of the birthday pig stamp I created for Grace's birthday. Michelle, mom and I model above.

Nick and I try to get each other silly presents every year. I thought the funny side up egg mold was pretty ridiculous. Below, he's testing out the foul smelling scratch and sniff stickers I got him.

James loved his mother's present, which was a couple of pictures of himself and Aria.

Jimmy showing off a nifty mask from Bali Thai Imports.

My mom was super excited to get a family portrait.

Jimmy finds another use for one of Hannah's toys and James had to follow suit.

James V. and James N.

Papi and Aria

Hannah and James spending some quality time together.

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