christmas in oceanside

We hosted Christmas day for the first time in our new place in Oceanside this year. Jen's parents, brother, brother's girlfriend, and uncle joined us for a day of food, presents, and games. 

First up, Jen made her famous biscuits and my Mom's sugar cookie recipe. 

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After biscuits and coffee we went for a walk along the beach and pier. It was packed with everyone out on the strand trying to see and be seen. 

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Jen and I skyped with my siblings and their kids and I called my Dad to Facetime the sunset view. 

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Next up was the pierogi dinner Jen had spent all Christmas Eve making.  

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The full dinner menu Jen put together was:

Jen's new guilty pleasure is the Guinness can that adds the head to a pour "like in Dublin". 

Jen's new guilty pleasure is the Guinness can that adds the head to a pour "like in Dublin". 

We always do a shot of whiskey for a toast on holidays because that is what Poppo, Jen's Dad's father did.  

We always do a shot of whiskey for a toast on holidays because that is what Poppo, Jen's Dad's father did.  

Pippa wanted some alonetime by the time dinner came around.  

Pippa wanted some alonetime by the time dinner came around.  

Next we gave our secret Santa presents to each other. I got Jen this year.  

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Happy Holidays to you and yours! 

- Caleb, Jen, & Pippa

houston

In May my entire family went to Houston to visit my Aunt and Cousins. We had a good time. I wish I would have taken more photos, but I did manage to snag a few by the pool during a mini celebration for my mom's birthday.

I hope this becomes more of a thing. We used to see each other at least once a year, but as we've all gotten older it's gotten harder. I think if Rachel and I have our way though, visits like this will become more frequent.

girona, spain

Ok guys, Girona. Whoa.

I was feeling a bit dejected by Lloret. It was fun and we had some good food, but it was not at all what I was envisioning when I thought of Spain. 

A while back, Gary Arndt, a well known travel photographer, asked Caleb to shoot a course on travel photography and despite speaking at TBEX, shooting with Gary is the main reason we're here.

The plan was to catch a train to Paris but the day before we left Gary asked about how we felt about driving. Road trip through Spain and France? Hell yes. 

We caught a bus to Girona and rented a car but instead of leaving right away Gary wanted to shoot inside the Giona Cathedral and we needed special permission to do so. We were scheduled to go in the next day. Caleb and I spent the first day walking around the town grabbing B roll of the city.

Girona is amazing. The river is lined with colorful buildings and the city center is buzzing with locals and filled with those tiny streets we all love to wander. I lost myself in the light, the architecture, and the smells. The amazing thing about the city is that there are no tourists. The streets are not overcrowded with tours and cameras and waiters trying to entice you with their "American Menu". It was bliss. 

Gary spent three months in Girona over Christmas and knows all the great places to eat. He took us to a cafe called The River, named so after one of Bruce Springsteen's albums. The place was covered in Springsteen memerobilila. The owner just loves the guy, he can't help it, but the food was incredible. We ordered some tapas. Nachos, patatas bravas, and olives. Delish.

On day two in Girona we went to the Cathedral with Gary and shot both inside and out on the steps. After lunch of divine Indian food and a siesta we went back out to shoot along the walls of the city. The view was breathtaking and wandering around the gardens at the base of the walls and climbing teeny staircases to get to the top was so much fun. We finished the night at a cafe where the  pizzas we ordered turned out to be ginormous slices of bread broiled with perfectly crusted cheese and toppings.

lloret, spain

Lloret, Spain. How might I describe thee? A little vacay town on the Coast of Spain (Costa Brava) that Europeans flock to when they need to get away for some sun and coctails. 

Imagine Cancun, but with more night clubs. Imagine Cabo, but with more litter. That being said. The beach was absolutely stunning and Caleb and I were so jet lagged that we missed the opportunity to explore some of the more beautiful sites. We were in Lloret for Caleb to speak at TBEX (an international travel blog conference). The conference hosted several events and parties that we attended, but I think my favorite part of Lloret was eating at the local food truck festival and walking along the coast with Leb and snapping photos along the way.

I have never been so jet lagged on a trip to Europe. I think it was a combination of not sleeping much on the plane and then making the rookie mistake of falling asleep when we arrived at the hotel at 5pm local time. I was up all night and then slept until late afternoon the next day. Fail. It therefore took several days for me to feel normal.

The opening party was a ton of fun and the food and culture of Costa Brava was on full display. Wine, cheese, craft beer, Cava, and local delicacies were being handed out to passersby as we mixed and mingled. I particularly enjoyed a lesson hosted by a local chef on how to make the perfect Pa Amb Tomaquet. Toasted bread, garlic, olive oil, and tomatoes? It's like they knew I was coming or something.

We wandered along Lloret del Mar snapping photos and people-watching and then later that evening met up with some of the other attendees at the food trucks. There were few options for a vegetarian, but while Leb munched on delicious pork sammies, I found some chips and guac and a scrumptious dish of potatoes with asparagus and goat cheese, topped with an egg. We sipped on mojitos and vermouth and enjoyed the company of our new friends.