Foto Vrijdag 2.52 Project 365 Complete

Shroud [day 365/365]
It’s official. I successfully and honestly completed Project 365. One photo taken every day. There were days when it was a bit of a last-minute snap of random items, and I definitely seem to have done a better job the first half of the year, but I’m glad I completed the challenge. I certainly think it has made me pay more attention to things around me and certainly helped me get used to looking at things in new ways.

Today, despite the fog and light drizzle, I headed out to take my last photograph for the project. I wanted to get some sort of photo of the Domtoren. It’s one of my favorite spots in town, plus, my first photo of the year was taken there, so it seemed a nice way to end things. As I said, it is a very foggy day today, so when I first entered the square behind the Stadhuis (the location of this photo), I was shocked to realize that taking a photo of the Domtoren might not be so easy! It was hardly visible! Still, I ended up taking a number of photos of it, from all sorts of angles, and came up with some photos that I really am happy with, including this next one:
Pause

As for the second half of 2010, my photos definitely weren’t quite as good. I got a bit lazy with it, and I also used my camera phone a lot, so the quality wasn’t as good, either. On the other hand, I do feel like I ended up with photos that will serve as a reminder of random events, so what I lost in artistic style, I made up in memories. Still, no reason why you can’t have both! I guess that will be my general goal for future photos.

I don’t plan on specifically doing the Project 365 again at the moment, but I am hoping to post a photo-a-day of Utrecht here on my blog. Not every photo will be taken that day, but I hope to have new photos taken each week.

In the meantime, here are some of the photos from the last half of the year.
So Handsome [Day 188/365]

Funny Face [Day 189/365]

Contrast [Day 236/365]

Clouds Part [Day 266/365]

Golden Achievement [Day 269/365]

Goal for the Day [day 288/365]

Up the Nose [Day 232/365]

Birdie [Day 332/365]

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Project 365 In Review

Along with my Foto Vrijdagen (Photo Fridays), I’ve been doing a Project 365 challenge this year, in which I take at least a photo a day. I’m proud to say that as of tomorrow, I will have completed the project. While going through the photos, I thought I’d pull out my favorites this year and post them here. Some you may have seen before, others you may not have seen, for lack of relevance to Utrecht. I’ll post the first half today and the second half tomorrow, along with my final photo of the project/year/foto vrijdag. For what it’s worth, this is as close as I come to a year-in-review posting.

Personal Jesus [Day 18/365]

Just Married II [Day 22/365]

Snow Bike [Day 41/365]

Alessi [Day 50/365]

Twisty People [Day 52/365]

Casting Shadows [Day 61/365]

Window Seat [Day 63/365]

Café Cat [Day 71/365]

Continuation of a Theme [Day 84/365]

Nuts for Nuts [Day 94/365]

Watcher [Day 100/365]

Bonte [Day 105/365]

Power Sources [Day 136/365]

Geometric [Day 140/365]

No Little Plans [Day 146/365]

Oliebollen

Lekker Ding
The end of the year is drawing near, and that also means the end of the oliebollen season. Soon the kraam (stall) will be gone from Neude (and other locations), and any oliebollen will have to be made at home. Since that involves deep frying, it means I don’t get any until the next winter holiday season. So, before they’re gone from my life for another year, I’m enjoying a last few of these delightful fried dough balls. The powdered sugar is like the last dusting of snow that’s still on the ground here.
Oliebollen
I want to get a photo of the domtoren tomorrow for my last photo of the year. I’m pretty sure that will also entail one last stop at the oliebollen kraam. See the year out on a high note!

Kerstdagen Roundup

Ik Geloof
I hope you’ve all had a great few days, whether celebrating or not. We kicked off our celebrations Friday night with a delicious dinner of octopus (looks like an alien, tastes delicately like shrimp/lobster). Afterward, we headed over to the Potdeksel for a special Music Quiz Night. There were two games of five rounds. We didn’t do so well the first game, but the second game was a different story. We were getting correct answers left and right and eventually won the game with a tie-breaker thanks to our knowledge of local music sensation Sjarrel en Sjaan and their performance of the classic “Christmas in Cupertino”. 😉

We were ridiculously thrilled to finally win! Thanks to our Dutch team member, Mer, for her help with translation and famous Dutch voices, as well as her fine company! Our prize for the evening was a large bottle of Palm beer and an accompanying glass, as well. Rather snazzy! I think we might be cracking open a bottle this evening.
Palm Prize
Christmas day itself was lovely. A bit of a late start to the day, a bit of present unwrapping, and then a lot of food and wine! We went with what has become a tradition with my parents and me, skipping the massive turkey dinner and instead having a variety of finger foods/appetizers to snack on. We had deviled eggs (natuurlijk!), smoked salmon, cheese-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon, chicken pieces wrapped in bacon with a honey mustard glaze, blue cheese tartlettes, eggplant balls, and crepes filled with a cheesy spinach mixture. All lekker, if I say so myself, since I was the chef! Later in the evening, we did give a nod to the Italians at the table with some pasta and some pan d’oro for dessert.
Christmas Lunch

Our furry kids seemed to enjoy themselves, as well. They dined with us on a few nibbles and Pippo certainly enjoyed helping me unwrap presents. He never tries to tear paper any other time of year, but he seems to understand Christmas. He immediately grabbed a bit of wrapping paper from the gift I was unwrapping and started to pull. He did a fine job!
Xmas
Our Tweede Kerstdag has been quiet and mellow, with bits of sunshine popping out on occasion. A nice way to spend the day! I hope you all have had equally pleasant days, no matter what you’ve been up to!

Foto Vrijdag 2.51 White Christmas

Winter Wonder
The snow we’ve had this week seems to be sticking around, even though we haven’t gotten more in the last few days. So it might not be fresh snow, but it looks like we’ll still manage to have a white Christmas tomorrow; a rarity for this native Floridian. We went out earlier this week to do a bit of shopping and photographing. Utrecht is beautiful anyway, and with the snow, it becomes even more picturesque. The domtoren, as you can see, was particularly lovely, with the snow dusting the edges of the Gothic tracery and the icy tree branches framing it all. It looked like something out of a fairy tale, or Narnia, perhaps!

Winning with Rietveld

Rietveld Facade
Waar in Utrecht, in conjunction with Centraal Museum, has been hosting a Rietveld in Utrecht competition, in which snippets of photos of Rietveld’s buildings in the Utrecht region were posted, and you had to guess which building it was. I entered quite a few (okay, most) of the nine rounds of the competition, but didn’t win until the very last round. I was thrilled to win, because I get free tickets to the Rietveldjaar exhibition, along with some sort of extra goodies. The exhibit is over soon, ending at the end of January, so I’ll be going sometime in the next few weeks.

I’ve been celebrating the Rietveldjaar in my own way, going to look more closely at the various building facades he designed here in the city center. One of them is the one seen here, which is located right on the Oudegracht. It’s the office supply store, Mado, which went through an interior and facade redesign. Particularly of note is the way the window displays are a bit more free-floating and creating an encompassing entrance to the store. Rietveld also designed the lettering for the sign, although it has shrunk at some point over the years. The basic design of the lettering seems to be the same, though. The construction took place in 1961, and if you want to see it for yourself if you visit Utrecht, it’s located at Oudegracht 119.

If you like Rietveld and have an iPhone, I highly recommend the Rietveld Architecture app. It has current and old photos of 200+ of Rietveld’s buildings, along with information about each building and even maps and GPS coordinates to help you find the closest building to your location. It has been an eye-opener for me to realize just how many of his buildings I’ve passed on a regular basis. It also helped me win those last tickets!

Music Giveaway

The Phoenix Foundation
I’ve mentioned them here before, and it’s time to mention them again, because they’re awesomesauce. The Phoenix Foundation, a wonderful band from New Zealand, is going to be invading Europe in the beginning of the new year. Between now and then, I will be doing my best to win them new fans and acolytes, as they so richly deserve. You can find the full list of tour dates on their website.

I was lucky to see them for three shows in New York during their first mini American tour back in 2006, and I’m thrilled to finally get to see them again. They’re opening their European tour here in the Netherlands with a show at the Paradiso in Amsterdam. Sure, I was hoping for a gig here in Utrecht, but considering I had to take a plane to see them in New York, just taking a short train ride (weather permitting!) to Amsterdam is nothing! If you’re in the general Netherlands region on January 27, you too should go see them. I insist!

To get you more interested and exposed to their music, I thought I’d post a few of their videos from their four albums and give you a chance to win a free download of their latest album, Buffalo. Free, excellent music! Think of it as a Christmas gift from your favorite Utrecht Flamingo.

To enter, just leave a comment and tell me which song/video you liked best. Entrants must be from Europe (since it’s a European tour). I’ll do a random drawing Wednesday and post the winner. I’ll then e-mail a link and download code to the lucky recipient.

Let Me Die A Woman from the album Horsepower

Damn The River from the album Pegasus

Bleaching Sun from the album Happy Ending

Buffalo, from their latest album of the same name

Bonus video for the song 40 Years, on the Happy Ending album. The video was directed by, and stars, Taika Waititi, and was all done in one shot. Impressive and entertaining! Waititi wrote and directed Eagle vs Shark, as well as an episode of the Flight of the Conchords tv series.

Irresistible

Bridge Over the River Kwai
Look! It’s the bridge over the River Kwai! Oh, come on. Like you would have been able to resist taking this shot either. 😉 I like to think the restaurant specifically chose that spot just to be near one of the many bridges along the Oudegracht. And yes, there really are that many bikes here.

Foto Vrijdag 2.50 Golden Arch

Golden
The snow they’ve been predicting off and on all week has arrived with a vengeance, it seems. Transportation seems to have ground to a standstill across the country. I’m glad we’re snug at home. Still, I think it’s warmer than it was Sunday when we went to the Christmas market (kerstmarkt). It was a cold but pretty day, with some beautiful golden sunlight toward the later part of the afternoon. I particularly liked the golden reflection on this bridge, which is at the very southern end of the old city center of Utrecht.