Showing posts with label Recommendations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recommendations. Show all posts

Monday, June 23, 2014

Hornbaek Flowers...

I mentioned last week that Ilse Jacobsen pretty much owned the town of Hornbaek, I really meant it.  To include this gorgeous flower shop...I couldn't stop staring and it's one of those places that's so pretty that you're almost afraid to take anything from the abundant displays for yourself, for fear that it might ruin the whole image.

In the back, there's a little shop full of gourmet goods, to include some ready to make apple sorbet mix that's on our list to take a stab at once we're back in town.  Seems like it would taste the best over a table of these flowers though...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Saying Thank You...

Saying thank you...I should do it more.  Really.  I mean, I say thank you, but not as often in a formal format, that is, with a card dropped in the mail as I should.  And it didn't necessarily used to be like that - paper correspondence, of all forms, was a bit of a signature of mine.  It used to be that when I went on a trip, I wrote postcards upon postcards...but that somehow has been replaced by Instagrams, or even just wanting to relax.  I'm not even sure if people noticed when I stopped writing post cards.  I still do some paper correspondence, but not at all like before.  The real victim of this lapse has been thank you cards, and lately I've been determined not to pass on this bad habit to my daughter.

Minted was kind enough to collaborate on some stationery for her, so we put together a simple little set of cards, ready to go when the occasion called for it.  One set with flamingos and her picture on the back for the more traditional notes, and then one set that was more casual, with a little girl blowing bubbles much like she likes to do.  My daughter is three so we're not at the stage of writing yet, but a few colored markers let her make her own artistic impression on the cards.  Throw in the envelopes and the stamps and a copy of our holiday card address list, and you're good to go.  And don't forget the return address labels - not only are they a pop of color on the envelope, for me they are also a huge time saver.  I tend to write cards and then carry them around endlessly in my purse until I address them so anything that saves me time on that increases the likelihood that the card will actually find its way to the intended recipient.

Now to remedy my own bad habits, I should probably put a box together like this for myself, then there will be no excuses - only beautiful cards!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A dark and dismal flower...

What happens when a little girl opens up a packet of mysterious seeds? About the same thing that happens when super talented friends of yours pair up with super talented friends of theirs AND with their super talented daughter...The result is a beautifully animated and illustrated story of what each of the seeds yield and the life lessons they impart in an app-based story called A Dark and Dismal Flower.

It's meant as a children's story, but because the narrative has both an adult's and a child's perspective, you'll find that it goes much deeper than that.  As an adult, I can't stop staring at the amazing graphic design work - and the diplo-tot, as a child, can't wait to see where each seed takes off into.  This is definitely one for our new travel repertoire for the phones (good thing as we have a long road trip coming up next week!).  You can also expand the seed packets so that it stays fresh and exciting.  There are also sorts of updates and behind the scenes illustrations and videos at what goes into animation like this, which is pretty fascinating from the process and technical component perspective, over on their Facebook page as well.

The team was kind enough to share a few graphics (which only leaves me with the question of when are these going to be posters?).  Just like a good book, you won't be able to put this one down...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

THE Guide to Copenhagen Guides...

Believe it or not, we're coming up on 10 months in Copenhagen. It doesn't feel like it at all...Maybe it's been all the travel but I find that I'm often still getting my bearings around the city. I have, however, developed a little arsenal of guides and sources that I turn to when we have a bit of time to explore the city. Since this weekend, bloggers from around Europe will get together for the Hive Conference (and for once, an event is somewhere I don't have to travel to!), I thought I might pass along these lists of mine (and for those with other thoughts on go-to sources and guides, definitely please contribute your thoughts in the comments - I'd love to learn more!).  

Whether you're coming for the converence or coming to visit Copenhagen, welcome to our city! 

1. Best Books - it probably is a sign of my old-schoolness but I still love a good guidebook.  Well thought out, full of tips on classics and well writtten. It's a dying art but these two are still top of my list for copenhagen:
  • Lonely Planet Denmark : Hands down still the best book for getting around both in the city and outside of it with witty language to boot.  I'm heartbroken these guys don't publish on paper any more so snag them while you can.
  • Top 10 Copenhagen : This is such a great series of "best of" books - we have them for so many cities and they end up being such go-to guides.  It's perfect for when you just need to know quick ten places, ten cafes, ten things to buy, whatever.  Small so it fits in anywhere, good maps, just a great "all-arounder".
2.  Best Newspaper Guides:
  • New York Times 36 Hours: Like the above, this series is  staple for nearly any city, especially when I only have a few hours somewhere, as is often the case for work.  The Copenhagen article could use an update as it's from 2010 but still full of great ideas.
  • The Guardian's Copenhagen Guide: A great aggregation of information and articles and some cool tidbits like favorite spots in the city from The Killing Actors or Rene Rezdepi.
3.  Best Apps:
  • Wallpaper Guide: Cool for the funky stuff off the beaten path.  Because this guide often features more of the mod squad things to do, always check to see if the places are still open but another great concise way to have a list of great things to do in the city.  The map also helps with the "what should I see in this neighborhood" question.
  • Smorrebrod App: Chances are, you're not leaving Copenhagen without having some smorrebrod (open faced sandwiches on rye bread that are overflowing with toppings) so you might as well know where the best ones are.  Have a little fun with this one!
4.  Best Walking Tours:
  • Copenhagen in 24 Hours: I realize most people are often only here for the weekend, or might have a day after an event so this is a great way to see the "best of".
  • Scanorama Vesterbro Walking Tour: While there are a multitude of things that drive me a little nuts abou SAS, their in flight magazine is not one of them.  Scanorama is actually something I look forward to in the seat pocket every month - its' so well produced, has beautiful layout and photography, and unlike most in flight mags, actually has really really useful articles, usually on destinations I happen to be going to.  I clipped this one on the Vesterbro neighborhood walking tour - a mix of parks and shops and cafes, and we had a great time taking the day to discover this corner of the city.
5.  Best Kiddie Guides:
  • Kids Height Guide: This is Visit Copenhagen's section devoted to your smaller counterparts.  It's a mix of recommendations, and from time to time they have special guides on what to do during a particular school break or month.  I wish they would keep it updated more but this is a great place to start if you need current activities or ideas for littles.
  • MiniCPH City Guide: Hands down, the best go-to guide for wee ones in Copenhagen.  It has comprehensive lists of parks and playgrounds (even indoor ones, which comes in handy on the really bad weather days), and pools and museums and all kinds of ideas.  It used to have a  weekly newsletter with ideas for the weekend, but sadly, those aren't around anymore.  Still the standing guide is the first place I check facing the question of "What should we do today?" with the diplo-tot. 

6.  Best Foodie Guides:
  • Michelin Star Guide: You like Michelin stars? We like Michelin stars.  If you want stars, Copenhagen has them aplenty - here's a comprehensive list of where you can spend many, many, many kroner all in one sitting.
  • Bo Bech's Little Black Book: One our our haunts in pretty regular rotation is Geist Restaurant; here are the chef's picks for his finds and treasures across the city.
7.  Best Copenhagen Blogs:
  • Traveling Mama: Tina has been such a great source for inspiration and ideas about little finds, pretty spots and places to check out around town.  It also helps that she's just as sweet in person as she seems to be on her blog. 
  • Dejlige Days: This is a nifty little blog I found through the Hive, Melanie regularly posts on things in Copenhagen that I often would not have found myself .
8.  Best Instagrams:
  • @IdaLaerke: Okay, so technically these aren't 'guides' but they will get you into the Copenhagen spirit.  Ida is part of that whole Kinfolk set, and posts beautiful minimalistic pictures - they used to be mostly of her breakfasts but lately have been more of her newest wee one, Saga, the ocean and general Danish living.
  • @Zakkatography: This guy is all things cycling and biking so following along will definitely set your expectations about how big a role bikes really play here.  Here takes pictures of people on bikes, of people carrying things on bikes, of his kids on bikes, of himself on bikes...  And then he teaches other cities how to incorporate bikes more.  In case you can't tell, bikes are a theme here.
9. Best updates on "the haps":
  • The Copenhagen Post: This local english-version newspaper will give you loads of factoids to drop at cocktail parties such as the fact that the new aquarium is already renovating after less than a year, or when Thomas the Tank Engine will be chug chugging in these parts, or the fact that one in six danish men has paid for sex.  Okay, maybe don't drop the latter one at a party (or do) but this gives you a flavor of recent "headlines".  You can always find a little something offbeat about the word on the street.
  • Visit Copenhagen: Copenhagen is a tough city to figure out sometimes since there really is no one place to see "what's on", like you might check Time Out in London, or Washingtonian in you have to cobble together the haps yourself.  All of these sources are in good rotation with me, but Visit Copenhagen, when they take the time to do the editor's picks can be really good for for this and when all else fails, ask around....there's definitely not a shortage of things to do!

So the only question now is...when are you coming to visit?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Paris Encore...

2014 seems to be the year of Paris for this reason...I guess its' like that with clients sometimes, you never really know where work will take you - or how often.  I think this has been my fourth trip since the start of the year.  But that's not a complaint !
This time around I tried a couple of new places.  I was shooting to be close to an early morning meeting the following day and came across the Hotel Bradford Elysees - the room was super reasonable and had the extra treat of a balcony.  Naturally, a view I'd be happy to wake up to.  Actually, I would have loved to enjoy it lounging around with a cafe creme but somehow, not a lot of time for that when you travel for work...

Spent a little time wandering around in the Quartier Latin...more of a haunt in my student days and walking around at night, it's amazing exactly how much hasn't changed.  Other than the fact that the crowd looks younger to me, and I probably look older to them...One night I hit up the Creperie Saint-Germain (not pictured) which is where I had my first dinner in Paris when I arrived as a student, and with my roommate we went with the trusted recommendation of the Lonely Planet book.  The restaurant is still there, still looks great, still full of mostly French students, and still cheap.  The only thing that's changed is that the creperie is on google plus and that Lonely Planet doesn't publish books anymore...

Also scoped out a new place courtesy of my colleague who know's a friend who know's a friend who owns this place type of thing.  Peres et Filles is run by  - a group of fathers and daughters so its appropriately named (go figure).  Pictured above, it's a pretty classic bistro with a classic menu but everything has a bit of a twist from the decor to the steak tartare.  And that wild mushroom starter with organic egg..mmmmmmmm. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

A few new apps...

I was going to be one of those parents that didn't let her kids watch TV.  I wasn't raised with very much of it, but I definitely enjoy it as a guilty pleasure from time to time and I imagine those two things are going to be related.  My daughter still doesn't get very much of it, though movies like Finding Nemo and shows like Dora seem to be finding their way in.  And since we often watch together, I don't even mind that much.

I was pretty much of the same mind about phones and all that -screens are screens right? But those iphone screens are a funny thing.  They really aren't kidding when they call these kids digital natives.  And part of me thinks that if there is something to interact with at some level, does that mean that it's bad? I don't know yet, but I do know that my daughter - who is three - is faster on my phone than I will ever be and she doesn't even get all that much screen time.

Recently a few companies reached out to see if we'd give their apps a whirl so I've compiled a few ideas here based off of that, along with a few other favorites:

1.  Endless Reader: This is pretty much a dream app...spelling, reading, trouble making monsters? It's all here.  Also lots of variety to boot.  Endless alphabet and endless reader are pretty much the best combination of engaging and educational out there.

2.  Pandora/Adventures of Pan/Hullabalu: Personally, I'm a bit on the fence about this one, but my daughter adores it.  Visually, the animations are pretty cool.  It's a story that you follow along with but has interactive features that extend the story and make it more entertaining.  I'm not crazy about the voices and diction (which you will hear repeatedly if your toddler likes an app) and wish they had an option to change the language of the story.    But diplo-tot is a fan of all things panda and all things app, so a panda in an app is a guaranteed winner in her eyes.

3.  Moose Math: This is also a golden standard.  We started out with the free version and are just about to upgrade as she's catching on more.  Basically, the app uses counting and very basic math to add up to various smoothie recipes.  Diplo-tot was a huge fan of some of the Duck Duck Moose music apps earlier on, and we've loved nearly anything we tried from them.   This was a natural next step and just as popular with her, though it took her awhile to get the whole blender concept.

4.  Caribu: Candidly, I'm still figuring this one out, since it also requires the coordination of someone else on the other end, but I'm loving the idea so far and it's just a question of getting the grandparents to really get through the installation phase (other parents, you likely know what I mean).  But the app combines storybooks - it comes with one but you can purchase others  - and video calls to allow you to "read" books together when someone else is far away - a parent, a grand parent or anyone else.  Basically it's a dream for military, Foreign Service or otherwise separated parents to still get that evening storytime in (and here too, other parents, if you've ever had to miss that for whatever reason, you also know what I mean).  For us especially, with living far from family, and two parents who travel I think this one will be start to come into rotation more.

While I do try to keep a lid on "screen time", I also try to be realistic about it. So what else is out there in terms of good apps to try?

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

A few last Croatia Recommendations...

A few people have reached out and asked where we stayed at in Croatia  and if we had any recommendations, especially after watching the video (and yes, that includes the hamster wheel inflatable balls!) so I thought I'd pull them all together here in one post.  The caveat is that we were only there in the end for four days so all of this was quick, quick, quick and by no means the definitive word but a few ideas to get you started!

We were mostly based in the Opatija area, which as I mentioned has a lovely Miss Havisham way about it.  Lots of crumbling villas but lovingly maintained gardens and walks.  It's an extremely rocky, but beautiful, beach so pack those aquasocks and be prepared to rent chairs and cushions in the beach area.  But the best stuff is just soaking it all in so bring a good book and an appetite for people watching!

1.  Pansion Stanger - our whole extended family took up residence at this little Pansion about 10 km outside of Opatija in a town called Louvran.  The rooms are simple but clean and well-kept and most of our rooms opened up with a window and balcony out onto the water.  Pretty much a winner on that merit alone, except for they also had a lovely terrace that faces the water for breakfast which is included.  They have a very good restaurant as well and when you see the fish being prepared tableside and the flaming desserts in the video, that was here as well.

2.  The Strand - I'm calling it that as I'm not sure what else to call it.  But in and around Opatija is a wonderful promenade that follows the water and weaves in and out of parks.  There are artists and musicians, and little boats docked and people singing opera...A big part of the day is just exploring that with frequent stops at the little bars and cafes for refreshments.  My grandmother is  - incidentally - wheelchair bound and if you have a stroller or someone with mobility issues, there are some rougher patches, but for an Eastern European area, there actually is still a large part which is smooth pavement.

3.  Retro Fun - One of the fun things along the promenade is that there is still some very old school retro fun to be had.  For example the little electric boats (should electric boats be in the water carrying toddlers? not sure, but she had a blast), or the "hamster balls" pictured right behind her.  There are also electric cars and other fun little things that you won't have seen in years and probably saw pictures of your parents doing.  It's all part of the charm.

4.  White wine - Anything local, served cold.  Go for it - it's all going to be good and it's all going to go beautifully with that grilled fish you ordered...And that sunset you're watching....And just about anything else you choose to eat or do on the coast here.

As detailed here, Cres was where we spent a large part of our day long road trip.  It's a less visited and less inhabited island but wonderfully dramatic in its views.

1.  Getting there - there is a system of ferries around between the Opatija area and the surrounding islands.  The hotels can set you up with schedules and ports but give yourself plenty of time.  Those curved roads take longer than you think and since many of them are single lanes in each direction, it can get congested, especially in peak times or high season.  But once aboard, those car ferries are great - get out on the top deck to enjoy the ride.

2.  Hibernicia - I'm not sure that there is more than one restaurant really in Lubenice, the village at the top of Cres, as we were there not in high season but whether it's one of one, or one of many, it's definitely worth a stop.  If there are groups around, my guess is that this place isn't going to be the quickest but then again, if there are no other places, what does it matter.  It's a local place to stick to local things and keep it simple and I think you'll find it delivers exactly what you need...

3. Cres Marina - in the town of "Cres" right on the island.   Really just such a charming little port - the Marina is definitely worth a walk around and definitely worth a stop for Gelato.  You'll forget whether you're in Croatia or Italy or some place in between.

4.  Enjoy the Road! This island will pretty much redefine hairpin turns for you.  And many roads are just barely that so you'll be surprised how long it takes to get from points A to B sometimes.  But the views and isolation are very worth it - budget lots of time to get around so that frustration doesn't eat up the wonder.

These don't necessarily fit squarely in a city but wanted to call out two more things:

1.  The Rijeka Stadium: Near Opatija is the city of Rijeka, much larger and while there are definitely things to see in a more citi-fied sense, it's not quite as high on the charm.  However, this stadium that's built seemingly right into the ocean caught my eye.  We didn't see anything but this seems like it would be an excellent way to pass a warm weathered evening watching a soccer match or perhaps even a concert.  If you're in the area, ask to see whether anything is on.

2.  The Zagreb Airport and Playground - We flew into Zagreb and drove the rest, but in waiting for my family to arrive, diplo-tot and I were pleasantly surprised when we discovered this charming playground literally right outside the airport, across the street.  It helps pass the time waiting for flights as there isn't much in the terminal to do and it's still a tiny airport (which I appreciated in so many ways) .  This would also be a good place to have the kiddies get their energy out while one of the adults picks up or drops off the rental car or similar, and I wish more airports would incorporate nice, clean, safe green space so close by.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Last time in London...

We just got back from five days in London, although sadly, I don't have too many pictures from that time around (though it was nice to take my diplo-tot and nanny along for a bit of change in scenery for all of us).  Between some crazy work hours and the tube strike, it seems like most pictures I could have possibly gotten were the crowds of people trying get on the limited amount of trains, or then trying to get off.  London was a hit with all the ladies and it's so nice to have such a fantastic city nearby.  

But on my last trip, we changed it around and it was diplo-husband that got to join along and we tacked on the weekend to celebrate my birthday - here were a few highlights...

I've actually always been really lucky I think with London weather.  For all the bad rap that it gets about being rainy and dreary, after Copenhagen, it practically seems like Hawaii and usually I'm lucky to get a day or two of sunshine.  This last trip it really was pretty rainy but I think that was true for just about everywhere in Europe.  The umbrella installation right off of Borough market and the colorful accents just seemed to pop all the more (check out the fantastic vegetables and treats of Borough Market here).

And while the holidays seem long gone at the moment, I'm going to indulge in one last holiday photo below.  I was rushing into work one morning to be greeted by this entire troop of wee ones singing Christmas carols for charity.  Makes for a pretty cheery start to your morning...

Because we had the weekend, we had a little more time to do the daytime things that are hard to squeeze in on work trips, like a walk on the Thames...

Or catching an exhibit or's been years since I had been to the Tate Modern so it was nice to catch up there - though I really miss that original sunset installation that they had when they first opened.  I still think it's one of the most tremendous pieces I've seen...

The nice thing about the weekend was the perfect storm of friends who live there and friends that were passing through, so one of my closest girlfriends put together such a wonderful birthday evening, and not one I'll soon forget.

We started out with drinks at Paradise by Way of Kensal Green.  My little phone photo here isn't doing justice to the totally over the top decor that was in this place, and a local friend explained the title to me - a good thing too since it would have otherwise been lost on me.  Kensal Green is a neighboring cemetery but was the first non-church burial ground in London, and figures in a poem of the time as "getting to paradise by way of Kensal Green".  In their own words, they're the home of "the restless and the eclectic". Ha.  Love that.

After drinks, we headed to dinner at the Dock Kitchen - a restaurant with a rotating menu and located above Tom Dixon's shop.  Given how much the brass and copper Dixon fixtures seem to feature in Copenhagen right now, it seemed like such a perfect fit for this particular year.  And there is nothing like a big table full of close friends, a good meal, and a festive number of wine bottles to make you feel young in years but older in appreciation of how special all those things are.

On our last day, the diplo-husband treated me to an afternoon of shopping at all my favorite haunts (yes, that includes Liberty), but I had to pop in and see the new J.Crew in London as well.  It's got all the mix of the US store and some absolutely unbelievable paper installations for the windows.  What it also has is all the exact same prices - kind of - you'll see all the digits you recognize from the US, just replacing pounds for dollars.  Which makes everything about 1.6 times more expensive.  So I think I might still continue to buy in the US but those windows are definitely worth a dream or two...

Friday, December 20, 2013

Recommendations For: San Francisco...

A few pictures earlier today and a few suggestions to close out this week on San Francisco!

1.  The Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf: See previous post about the fact that the Wharf is touristy.  It is.  But for some reason, this property always seems to have availability when I need it and it is colorful and friendly and they always make my stay pleasant.  Generally I've had a great experience in all Starwood family hotels in SF, and this one has come up a few times. 

2.  Running on the wharf: Maybe about the best thing about the hotel above is the proximity to the water.  And when you go out early in the morning it feels like you  - and fellow runners, walkers and swimmers have the ocean all to yourselves.  It actually makes me want to run.

3.  In'n'Out Burger: One of the best things about California trips.  Simple but just good.  Not gourmet, just really good.  Love these guys.  And love that there's one right around the corner from the hotel.  Only went once and made sure to "earn" it with two runs before but worth every bite.

4.  Jungle Red Hair Salon for a haircut.  And I needed one - badly.  The recommendation came originally from the Goop Newsletter and when a meeting cancelled, they squeezed me in.  Couln't have been friendlier, and Lucas, did bang up job on both the cut and the color.  Feels nice to look nice.

5.  Bix Supper Club: The pick of a good friend for dinner and not only did I have good company but also a great steak tartare and classic cocktail.  Also, I had never been to the Gold Street area - since I got to the restaurant early, I got to walk around the neighborhood and my only regret was that I didn't have more time to come back in the daytime when all the antiques shops and importers were open - such a lovely neighborhood.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

4 Camera Apps for the Holidays....

My phone camera has pretty much become a go to for documenting home and travel whenever I don't have the big captures all of those little every day things and you can bet it will be out in full swing for the holidays. 
I've tried a lot of "stuff" in terms of apps, but over time, there are a few I keep coming back to over and over again.  You can lose yourself in your phone just as easily as we can lose ourselves in our computers, so I've found recently that a few key apps keep coming up for me as a way of keeping things streamlined, without being overwhelming. 
To take pictures and video, I am always on the native camera.  I know there are better options out there but really, I pretty much always use the native camera anyway.  It's faster, for one.  And that makes it easier.  But once the photor or video is captured, here are my four go-to's:
1. VSCOCam: Easy editing, intuitive, and not overwhelming - you'll wonder what you ever did without their exposure slider.  You can now purchase more presets as part of their store, but the trick here isn't to have a billion presets and use them all, but to find the couple that make your photos come to life in the way that you see them in your head, and stick to that as a style.  With a little time, you'll find that you edit your photos mostly in the same way - that way they look all good together.  Again, I know that people often like other options like SnapSeed or others, but I find I'm quickest on VSCOCam and I love the touch touch of classic film that it brings to the most digital media we have.
2. Videolicious: You know how you end up with all those little video clips that you don't know what to do with later? They are moments that mean something to you, but to someone else wouldn't tell a story? Enter Videolicious.  While Annabelle Mintz and Evergreen Lane Productions is my go-to for bigger videos (think video journals of travel and family trips), this app helps me to make little every day videos to share.  The free version is likely enough to get you started for most stuff but you can upgrade to have the ability to make longer videos, more music etc.  I've also played around with Cameo, but don't find it as intuitive yet, so at least for now, sticking to what I know.
3. Artifact Uprising Mobile: Love Artifact Uprising.  And love now that I can make albums of those little phone shots that don't necessarily every get printed, right off my phone - no more downloading and uploading and whatever.  Just got my first one in the mail and it looks good.  As in, really good.  And they just added the update that allows you to make prints and the wood block set which makes this pretty much perfect.  My grandmother says that a photograph isn't really photograph until it's printed on paper.  She's right.  Which is why I'll be mailing here a whole lot more prints with this.
4. LifeCake: My newest favorite - largely because this solves the problem that pretty much any parent has.  First problem is sharing family moments with those in the family.  If you're a parent, you probably have a 1000 pictures of your child on your phone. You can't (or shouldn't) put them all on  This app organizes photos and videos by date as a storyline of your life, you can add text to tell a story, and you share it with people who are most interested in your life's little details - grandparents...extended family....etc.  From the perspective of someone who lives far away from family often, this is a fantastic way to keep us all connected.  Your closest circle doesn't feel like they "miss" anything, and you get a bit of the "This is your life" feeling...You take away the burden of oversharing on more broad social media channels, and you also solve the second problem, which is that you keep the photos secure and in one place.  No more worrying about whether your daughter's bath photo is going to show up on some n'er do well website in some obscure place.  And the best part? You can pull all the photos and stories together from both parent's phone into one feed and make a book from the accompanying website.  After all, it's not really photograph until it's printed...right?
Bonus: For blog stuff, I sometimes will use StudioDesign  as a backfill for photoshop to get a photo with text up quickly, but I don't use it much for personal use - but if you like adding text and shapes etc, give it a whirl  - takes time to use but much faster than Photoshop, and you can still share/apply to any of the four above.
So that's you think about the holidays - think about simplifying, but don't miss out altogether.  Here's what you need to edit your pictures to look their best, tie together videos in a story, print your photos to life and share the key details with your closest circle.  Here is to your holiday memories!