Christmas/New Year's this year was a holiday season of compromises. I participated in two gift-opening sessions, one at home (above) and the second visiting my parents in Orlando. Last year, you may recall, I had gone to New York City over the holiday. The real season started at the head of December, when I set down to plan for what has become a somewhat traditional holiday party at our house. I had originally purchased these Tours Eiffels in France to give to folks, but we never did. They became a "theme" for the party. We made food that had a French whiff about it, like these open-faced salmon sandwiches. I also made this composed salad from a recipe by Thomas Keller from his Per Se cookbook. Needless to say, I let my cooking website domain name expire. I didn't have the energy or time to keep my restaurant reviews and cooking adventures going. After my schooling is done, perhaps I will re-emerge as another internet-based cuisine obsession. I ate at one of my favorite French restaurants one evening, here in town, called Can Can. I also traveled to Virginia Beach, VA for a work-related conference. From my balcony I could see their tradition of lights on the beach. Back at home, we erected a light-up Eiffel Tower in lieu of a tree. After all, we'd be out of town for Christmas, and this was a lot simpler. It helped reinforce the theme. You might say I've become a Francophile. I helped a friend learn more about French cuisine, with my own version of Beouf Bourgignon. The French cuisine at Epcot Center wasn't up to my own abilities, despite their advertisement of having "Chefs de France." At the pool in Orlando, I read about Paris. Here's me, receiving a CD gift of French Baroque music. We ate, however, Italian. Here, my parents. I really liked this restaurant, especially for it's layout of the table. It was cozy, and in clear view of their woodfired oven. It was also nice to take a break from work, where this green M&M awaits me. Happy New Year, 2013. Thanks for taking a stroll in my non-musical, personal life for a little spell with pictures. Since I was on a French theme, here's a French breakfast from May, 2012.