Friday, December 14, 2012

Flashback Friday #7 - Christmas

Hello faithful readers! With Christmas coming up I figured I would do a write-up about this wonderful Holiday! Also, I might have to skip next week so I wanted to make sure I covered it before too long. What I wanted to talk about are holiday traditions. Every family has them and I love hearing what different ones people have. From the usual - going to church on Christmas Eve and driving around looking at the lights - the funny - going to a casino and playing the slot machines - and the daring - taking the Polar Plunge on New Year's Day. My family traditions have evolved over the years but I will share some of my favorite with you. In recent years on Christmas Eve my family and I will go see an afternoon movie (a tradition I proudly started with The Lord of the Rings), then join our community in setting out candle luminaries along the roads, drive around the neighborhood and look at all the Christmas lights, enjoy a light dinner of rosy seafood chowder, attend a church service in the evening, and then fall asleep to a roaring fire. Then on Christmas morning my sister will come barreling into my room at the crack of dawn and jump on my bed exclaiming "it's Christmas, it's Christmas!" (I have never once beat her in this tradition and she still does it at the age of 26). Our father then makes us wait while he "makes preparations" in the living room. When he finally calls the all clear my sister and I run out and start examining our gifts. As part of this tradition my sister and I always have un-wrapped Santa gifts sitting out on the couch or a chair. After the excitement comes down to a bearable level we eat a light breakfast and enjoy some hot chocolate next to a great fire as we spill the contents of our stockings. Lastly we take turns opening "under the tree" gifts and then fall backwards on the pile of wrapping paper and boxes! That is a pretty standard Christmas in the Painter-Pariani house. Some of the other traditions that have faded over time include playing a game of I-Spy with a hard to find green canoe Christmas ornament (the finder of which wins a special chocolate prize), opening one gift each on Christmas Eve, and traveling to North Carolina for a few days before or after Christmas to stay at the Grove Park Inn. What are your family traditions? Please feel free to share in the comments below. Thanks for reading and Keep it REAL!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Flashback Friday #6 - Bridge of Lions

This past week I was fortunate enough to have my great friend Thomas Thomas III (yes, that's his real name) come and visit for the weekend and one of the things we did while he was down here was explore St. Augustine for the day. If you have ever been there you know that seeing the Bridge of Lions is a must on your list because it is one of St. Augustine's most important and famous landmarks (just take a look at those photos!). The existing bridge was first constructed between 1925 and 1927 while the original wooden bridge was built in 1895. At the time it was the only bridge from St. Augustine to Anastasia Island and remains to this day to be the primary form of transport there. It is also a draw bridge that allows tall ships to travel in and out of the bay. In 1999, after 72 years of service, the bridge was deemed structurally unstable and plans for it's then uncertain future were discussed. Fortunately the right people spoke up and the decision was made to restore the bridge to its original glory! On May 26, 2006 the original bridge was closed, a temporary bridge put up, and restoration work begun. Four years and $80 million dollars later the "New" Bridge of Lions was once again open and the Lions restored to their rightful place guarding the bridge on the St. Augustine side. Which reminds me, the Bridge of Lions gets its name for two Carrara marble Lions that are copies of those found in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence, Italy. Lions are a symbol of the Spanish royal family, harkening back to St. Augustine's past as a Spanish colony. I love visiting this bridge and I do hope you can see it someday yourself. It is worth the trip, especially since Roads & Bridges magazine named the Bridge of Lions as fourth in the nation’s top 10 bridges for 2010! Anyway, thanks for reading folks and Keep it REAL!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Foods of New York Tours Photo Contest, November

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday my family and I visited my sister in New York. We were there for about a week and one of the things we did was go on another Foods of New York Tour. It was my second tour so far and fourth for both my parents and sister. My first tour was in March of this year and I was lucky enough to win their photo contest and score two free tickets! So, as you can imagine, I was out to win those tickets again, as well as enjoy some good food - that too. After enjoying our tour of Nolita/NoHo with our wonderful guide Anny Finnestad, I went to work editing my photos. I submitted several shots of food, locations, and people and the one they picked (shown here) was taken inside a unique French place called Tartinery. Here we got to taste some French wine and some ratatouille (you know, like that animated movie with the rat who wants to be a chef). We went to many other great places while on the tour and I am eager to attend my next tour with two free tickets in hand! If you like New York and are going there soon you should check out Foods of New York Tours on-line and on facebook! Thanks for reading and as always - Keep it REAL!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Art at Ponte Vedra Beach Public Library

This past Saturday, December 1st, I was able to hang a small new show at my local Public Library in Ponte Vedra Beach. This collection of photo work will be on display for the entire month of December and is completely free to view. It is also the first time I have been able to display my metal print dioramas in an exhibit space and I am very excited about that. So, come on down and see some great photo work and grab a book at your local library. Hope to see you there (PVB Library) and remember to Keep it REAL!