Home for the holidays

I’m still learning this blog thing… Here the post is on the right blog! I’ll get it some day!

I got to go home for Christmas! My dad had a hip replacement in early December so I wasn’t expecting to get out of the house much, but I was pleasantly surprised on what a good time I/we all had! It would only have been better if Eric and Jen were in town.

I couldn’t last 3 days in California without seeing some of the nieces and nephews! After dropping Cecilie off at the airport I headed to Santa Rosa to see the Spurlocks, and this little one:

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We had a good time at home playing on all our electronic devices and entertaining dad in his rehab chair! It seemed weird not to get together with the Hanks fam on Christmas, but I’m sure that’s not the first time it’s happened. But Melissa and Jake indulged my by going to see Les Misersbles! It was so good! I laughed and cried, it was definitely worth seeing in the theater! Melissa could have lived with her noisy neighbor eating popcorn so loud, and I could have lived without the smell of the jalapeños in the nachos of the girl next to me… Thankfully Mom is the best mom in the world and slaved away on Christmas dinner all by herself. It was delicious, thanks Mom! A much needed break from whatever the people in the theater were eating!

Dad really started to make a turn for the better, so we decided we could get out of the house and leave him to fend for himself one day. Cecilie told me about a few amazing gingerbread houses on display in the city and I just had to see them! Luckily Rush and Hailey decided it would be ok to come with us. Jake wanted to take Rush to the Ferrari store first and it turned out to be SUCH a hit! He loved it so much he kept saying: “but I NEED a Ferrari,” and it melted my heart. We got him a little Ferrari toy to hold him over until he starts driving. He would NOT let that bag go!

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It was real cute. Hailey was one step ahead of Rush though, she is already driving!

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We finally did make it to the gingerbread house in the Westin, and it was HUGE! I made Rush and Melissa pose in front of it, and Rush was so proud that his eyes were closed…

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Funny kid… But seriously, this gingerbread was ridiculous. I had to take a picture of the stats, 120 pounds of gingerbread, 400 pounds of royal icing, 80 pounds of flour! So glad we made the trip there.

We did get to meet up with all of the Hanks family! And we got to meet baby Vivian! She is too cute! She was so little! I didn’t get any pictures of her, or anyone else that night. But it as so nice to visit! I guess there aren’t very many pictures that she is in when she isn’t crying.

We did break a few puzzles out per tradition. It was cute that Melissa and Jake both got each other puzzles for Christmas. We opened the 1,000 piece puzzle of Tahoe. Scott, Melissa and I were the major players on the puzzle team, but Scott was the one that put the last few hundred pieces in! It was a masterpiece!

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It was wonderful to be home! Thanks to the Spurlocks for sacrificing a week to spend with me in Fremont! It was a long week by the end with a sick little girl and an exhausted little boy. I hope you still had your sanity when you got home! And thanks to mom and dad for hosting!

Ringing in 2013 in Asheville

Apparently I don’t know how to work my own blogs… I posted this to the wrong one! Alas, here it is and you don’t have to read it twice if you already read it!

I heard that the Biltmore has an amazing tour during the holidays, and finally decided to go! I went with Brandy (who I used to live with), and Lisa and Rachel from my ward. We drove up after I got off work on Monday, and we had a good time singing our hearts out in the car. It was dark by the time we got to Asheville, but we made it just in time to go on the candlelight tour of the Biltmore. Somehow we got the price of 2 days for the price of 1! We got to see most of the 255 rooms in the house, at night, but we also got to enjoy the Christmas decorations the next day, too! This is us waiting in a quick line to get in (while it was freezing!):

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After the candlelight tour, we were starving and needed somewhere pronto to spend the new year celebration that was more exciting than our hotel room (although that was nice too!). The only place open and that could seat us was a bar about a mile away from our car (ok, but it FELT like a mile!). It was a little less exciting than people watching usually is, and we left smelling like food and the champaign that the bar tender sprayed all over everyone to celebrate. As we were walking down the street to the car some random drunk guy shouted out Lisa’s name… I had no idea she was so famous, or that the guy was so good at guessing names! We still wanted a little celebration that was more our pace. Luckily, Brandy packed a bottle of Martinelli’s, and not so luckily we forgot the bottle opener. But, on the our way to our car, we did find someone who worked at a winery and could help us. Lucky girl didn’t know what she scored: a bottle that had rolled around the car for a few hours and then sat in a purse for a day! It sprayed ALL over the place! Lisa’s eye, Brandy’s coat, my face and hair, it was epic. Although, somehow I don’t remember the girl who gave us the opener getting we at all. Oh well, she was probably too drunk to remember us (hopefully).

On New Year’s Day we were able to go back to the Biltmore to look around the gardens and what was outside in the dark the night before. Lisa was a good distraction from the scenery though

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I was the only one who forgot my boots, so my feet had bigger puddles than the ditches! Which made my feet freezing, and my hair frizzy. The Biltmore has quite the beautiful grounds, even when nothing is growing outside.

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Although I did enjoy the green house where they sported these two bad boys:

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It was rainy and cold pretty much the whole time we were there but that didn’t stop us. I researched a few places to go, and was really excited to try them out. Among them was a chocolate cafe!!! We tried it out and it was a dream come true! The hot chocolate was made with a ganache, and it was a little thicker than regular hot chocolate and was D E L I C I O U S. I’d go back to Asheville just for that.

Hopefully we get to go again!

gone coastal

At the end of September, my mom came out to visit me!  She’s been here a few times before, but this was her first ride solo.  For some reason I wanted to take her anywhere and everywhere!  So we packed in as much fun as we could in a few short days!  Mom still isn’t sure where we were and where we went.  Some day I’ll get her a map and highlight our route so she can see that we didn’t leave the country!

I picked her up from the airport on Thursday night and we started our journey straight to Charleston, South Carolina.  It’s a 5 hour drive, and we drove through Columbia.  I drove as fast as I could to get us to the LDS temple there before dusk, but, alas, we made it just after dark.  It was a beautiful sight to behold nonetheless.

I had never been to Charleston, but I have heard rave reviews about how wonderful it is there.  I was told there were 2 MUSTS: a carriage ride and shopping in the market.  I figured the carriage ride would be best to do first because it gives a tour of Charleston and we could have time to look around and see what we wanted to do.  Mom was most worried about sitting right behind the horses and smelling like a horse when we were done.  Luckily, that didn’t happen.  Our tour guide told us about a house that had a free-standing stairwell, and we were intrigued.  So, we moseyed our way over to the Russell House to have the official tour.  We were on the last leg of tours that is allowed to walk up the stairs (they were stopping in November).  It was very pretty:

Now, you would think that the lady in that picture is Ms. Russell, no?  You would be wrong.  It is a “time piece” and was bought to put somewhere in the house.  It was full of stuff like this, and I thought that was very odd.  I was starving when we left the Russell House, and I got a recommendation from the Mackay’s to go to Magnolia’s for lunch.

Mom had the most DELECTABLE crab cake.  It was worth driving all the way out to Charleston again for!  Seriously, it was good.  Mine was a Lowcountry Bouillabaisse, and it was good as well.  This gave us enough fuel to get to the Market and shop our hearts out, and we did!  The market is an indoor/outdoor market and has everything from sweaters and paintings to jelly and cards!  Mom was especially captivated by the sweetgrass baskets the the women were making and selling.  We would have bought one but they were SO expensive!!

I had heard about a plantation to go to out in Charleston, but wasn’t sure it would work out to go.  We made it to Magnolia Plantation in time to get the house tour and walk around the grounds before we got kicked out.  It was quite an experience!  Apparently the lady who lived there didn’t like tap water.  She had a contraption built to save rain water and have it stored somewhere under the house!  It looked like a chimney that went to nowhere.  The grounds were very pretty though, and we enjoyed the Spanish moss and the bridges and foliage.

Then with haste we drove down to Savanna to eat dinner at Paula Deen’s restaurant!  It was so delicious, and everything tasted like it had a whole stick of butter in it!

I got a chicken pot pie, which was the best I’ve ever had.  Mom got some kind of shrimp and potatoes on a bed of baked collard greens.  Collards aren’t something that grace the west coast, probably for a good reason!  It was quite a discovery for my mom to have them on her plate, and needless to say she won’t ever order them again!  She did love the shrimp and potatoes though!  The next day we took a tour of charming Savanna.  We left just in time to get to the Whistle Stop Cafe from Fried Green Tomatoes.

It was less than spectacular!  It was such a ghost town!  I was disappointed the Cafe was closed by the time we got there, but Mom was not so convinced!

The last big event of the weekend was a traditional southern dinner from Greenwood’s treated by the Mackay’s!  They are wonderful company, and great friends.  It was nice to sit and talk for a while in the beautiful fall air.

It was a great weekend!  I love when Mom comes to visit!!  Thanks, Mom!

Regular homemaker

I decided to take on a DIY project! My mom is coming into town, so I found the motivation I needed to finish a few things I wanted to do in my room. The first and only major project was finding something to do with this empty place in my room where I had some camping chairs sitting… I was too embarrassed to take a picture head on, but you get the gist from the side of this picture.

So I bought a cedar chest I knew I could fix up with some cute upholstery:

Then I turned it into a DIY marvel!

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sweet southern comfort

#27: I secretly LOVE the South!  I love everything from the trees and green all around me to the welcoming southern hospitality.  I love experiencing to all the things that I haven’t done anywhere else.  For example:

 

Christmas light show at Calaway Gardens

 

seeing enthusiastic dogs at the Cherry Blossom Festival

 

driving by people expressing their love for the South (in a totally different way than I do)

and finding new things at the grocery store that I have NEVER heard of, and would never eat.

Every day is a new experience to me, and I’ve lived here 3 years!  I have found a strong sense of community down here.  And I have found it very interesting to work for the prison system.  My co-workers are interesting and really have a sense of a “team” and the people we work FOR (inmates) keep us entertained.

It’s a great place to live, and to visit!!  Nudge, nudge.  Wink, wink!

And that concludes 27 things about me leading up to my birthday!!  I hope you enjoyed getting to know me better.  HAPPY GOLDEN BIRTHDAY TO ME!!!!  355 days until I can talk about my birthday again!

 

summer activities

#26: I’m not built like Michael Phelps (shocker?).  But for some reason I joined the swim team in high school.  No surprise I didn’t make it past JV.  One year on the team though, I was loyal, in a matter of speaking.  American High School (yes, our mascot was the Eagles and colors were red, white and blue) opened a brand new pool the year I was a freshman.  They started an all new water polo team and looked to the swim team for players.  There wasn’t even a cute guy involved in my convincing to be on the team!  I’m still not sure what I was thinking!  Don’t believe me?  I’d be skeptical too, but I got some proof:

I don’t know why the picture is sepia, I only graduated 9 years ago!  I’ll let you guess which person in the picture I am.  I was only slightly embarrassed to admit to being on the team.  I had cousins 45 minutes away who actually knew what they were doing, and could randomly show up to a game.  Luckily that never happened!   I was pretty active in high school.  Here are the activities I filled up my letterman jacket with:

I wasn’t the smartest crayon in the box, but I did brown-nose enough to get the student of the month recognition!  And I got a letter in Athletics and Activities (by being the senior class publicist):

Thanks to Cecilie for the pictures!  And thanks to Mom, who financed the letterman jacket.  It brings me pride to look at it!  She is still upset that we all got letterman jackets, and that we all don’t wear them every time the sun goes behind a cloud.  Mom, it’s not cool to wear until I can rock it at my kids sporting events!  And now the back of the jacket.  The hood was so feminine, and my last name fits perfectly on the back of the hood.  I love being a Bain!!

too cool for skool

#25: You may not know how cool I am.  My mother liked to document us when we had milestones in our life.  In the Ashton house, she would usually have us stand by the piano and put one arm up to “model” for the camera.  This was a major milestone for my sisters and I, we had reached ultimate coolness:

Let’s talk about how long Cecilie’s pants are.  Also, how Melissa squished earring stickers that are holding on for dear life to her ears.  And, how I wanted to show off my sunglasses so I had to show the side profile- too cool to show off my whole face.  Yep, so many awesome things going on in that picture.

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