Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Chicken on Waffles, Hush Puppies, and a Med Student's Wife

I'm finally going to attempt to give an update on the latest crazy adventure of ours: NC. Now, I wish this in some way referred to Natalie Cole, unforgettable Nat King Cole, or a run in with Nancy Carell (but really, who wouldn't want to be at a dinner party with Nancy and Steve). No, this NC adventure began with a car packed full of things, no space to spare, a trek through 6 states (Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee), changes in scenery, and 3 days later, North Carolina.

10 things we learned while driving:
1. 36 hours in a car is too long. I have never been happier to get out of a car in my life. And I have never not wanted to get in a car more in my life.
2. Colorado and Kansas have a lot, and I mean a lot, of nothing. And free land.
3. The I-70 is about 2,000 miles long.
4. 80's music is making a come back. Or maybe it never left. In every state, a few 80's music stations could be found. Along with 100 country stations.
5. Kentucky has a million frogs.
6. Don't take for granted an Ikea close to home.
7. A day in Nashville is not enough, but still pretty fantastic.
8. Utah might have the most active highway patrol officers. Much to everyone's dismay.
9. Hush puppies in the South are not stuffed animals or shoes but a version of cornbread. Fried cornbread. I don't recommend them, they are terrible. But maybe that's just me (Aside: after remembering Hush puppy stuffed animals I spent a good deal of time, much much more than I should have, reminiscing and looking at so called "vintage" toys on eBay. Polly Pockets, Littlest Pet Shop, Strawberry Shortcake, Rainbow Brite, Puppy Surprise. Can you believe these things are labeled "vintage" on eBay? I must be getting old).
10. In a battle of trees versus mountains, I'd pick my Rockies every time.

You probably already know but if not, you're might be wondering, why North Carolina?? We moved here (to Durham) at the end of July for Michael to start medical school at Duke. It's been an adjustment to be sure and we're still trying to iron out the kinks of everything.

A few things about Durham so far:
1. Dame's Chicken and Waffles. Chicken on a waffle? Sounded like an unlikely pair to me. Though skeptical, I tried it and it was incredibly delicious.
2. The American Tobacco Campus. This old tobacco factory in Durham has been converted to a fun complex with restaurants, a theater, and live music.
3. Nana Taco's spicy Mexican chocolate shake. When I tried this my heart stopped a minute. It's that good. It tastes exactly like the Mexican hot chocolate you can get at the Nordstrom ebar except it's a shake not hot chocolate. Which makes it that much more delicious.
4. Dreyer's ice cream is Edy's in the South.
5. I can't find Albers cornmeal. Anywhere. And it's very much a tragedy.
6. Heat and humidity. You feel as if your face might melt off the moment you step outside.
7. Trees, trees, and more trees. Everywhere you look.
8. Cicadas that never stop. And incredibly large insects.

And there you have it. A short (somewhat) summary of the adventures in NC so far.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

One More Paris Post

One last Paris post and then back to real life. Because, it's Paris.


Thursday, August 14th:
Louvre Day. And boy, was it insane. Utterly and completely. I had been to the Louvre once before. It was crowded but manageable. Today was packed! I have never seen so many people in one place before in my life. Good thing the Louvre is the largest museum in the Western Hemisphere. We may not have been able to fit everyone in. 

I was pretty excited when we discovered the audio guide was a Nintendo DS (Luke and Seth would have been thrilled). This excitement was short lived when Vati, Mutter, EP, and I found this younger generation's GameBoy was incredibly difficult to use. This dampened our spirits a little (well, a lot) as we scrambled around from room to room for the first half of the day.  

After a much needed lunch break and a crucial Diet Coke, we worked out a better method for the audio guides and were on our way again. We stopped at the Mona Lisa where thousands of people were crowded around to see the very small painting. Don't get me wrong, I love the Mona Lisa and I love Da Vinci but, it just won't do for people to walk straight past paintings from Raphael and Caravaggio, simply to get a glimpse of the Mona Lisa. Ah well. 

Several hours later, we made the walking trek back to Hotel de Nice, stopping at a delicious Crepe place along the way. 

Friday, August 15th:
Versailles. Friday we took a lovely bike tour to Versailles. However, by this time my legs were about to give out from so much walking and biking already so it made for an interesting ride. A few times throughout the day I thought I might not survive. 

Versailles was incredible. I had also visited here before when it was not so crowded. This time, it was as crowded as the Louvre. Or more so. And I have never seen so many Asian tour groups in my life. Ever. Fire safety must not be a priority for the French, as there were so many people in the palace we could not possibly have met any fire code. Anywhere. V, M, EP, and I thought we might be trampled a few times. After Versailles we went to see the Eiffel Tower and stayed till it lit up for the night. 

Saturday, August 16th:
My last day in Paris! This was the day we toured the Montmartre neighborhood (Sacre Coeur, Van Gogh's house, Picasso's studio, Moulin Rouge, and more). We also went to the Orangerie last minute on a whim (side note, on Friday night I said we needed to go to the Orangerie if we had time. Saturday morning, Dad asks me, "why do you need to go do laundry?" Me: "I don't need to, I'm leaving tomorrow." Dad: "no, you said you have to do laundry. You said that yesterday." Me: "No, I don't think I said that." Dad: "You totally said that. Maddie, Lauren said she had to do laundry right?" EP: "I didn't hear about any laundry. Oh it must have been the Orangerie.")

Anyway. The Orangerie was yet another highlight of the trip. Everyone must go there at least once. The Orangerie houses Monet's Water Lilies (sigh). These paintings span the entire walls of a large oval room. They are massive. They say the water lilies were painted when Monet was going blind and thus, when looking at the paintings, you cannot tell which direction Monet was painting the lilies from. Some even look painted from an angle underwater. I wish I could describe these paintings. They are some of my favorite in the world. Positively magical. I chose to obey the no photos allowed rule and thus have to make do with rulebreakers' photos found on Google. The Orangerie also had an incredible collection of other paintings. 

Lastly, we went to the Vaux le Vicomte. A small part of me thought we may have to buy a different kind of train ticket, but we headed onto the train anyway. An hour train ride later, off we went. In many stations in Paris you have to insert your train ticket in when you enter and when you exit. We inserted our tickets and viola! Nothing. We were stuck! And no one seemed to want to help us. After about a half hour of mouthing through the glass with crazy hand motions to the worker far away behind more glass, someone finally grudgingly came, muttered something frustratingly, and let us out. Tourist mishap. We finally made it to the mansion and, you guessed it, another highlight! I loved this place so much. The chateau was built and designed by Nicolas Fouquet, the head of finances for Louis XIV. Fouquet had a house warming (or rather chateau warming) party after finishing this masterpiece to which he invited King Louis. Long story short, the party was too lavish, too splendid, the house too luxurious, too sumptuous for King Louis to bear. Jealous Louis imprisoned Fouquet for life shortly after. Poor guy. Do not get on the king's bad side.

All in all, Paris was a grand time for everyone!!!


[The paintings pictured are some of my very favorites from the Louvre and Monet's Nympheas from the Musee de l'Orangerie. Louvre paintings: Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, Raphael's La Belle Jardiniere, and Vermeer's Lacemaker]

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Whirlwind Trip to Paris. Literally. Almost




Once upon a time B, E and I spent countless hours planning Mutter and Vati's trip to France. And once in a lifetime I did something crazy and bought a ticket to Paris one day before departing. As people always say, better late than never. So without further ado, here is a short (relatively) synopsis of a sporadic, fantastic week in Paris!MONDAY, August 11th, 2014 -Arrived in Paris at 6:30 A.M. Waited in the airport for 6 hours!!!!! to meet up with Mutter, Vati and EP. Made an incredibly long trek to our hotel (I nearly thought we wouldn't find it). Dropped our bags at Hotel de Nice (very lovely, strange little place) and wandered over to Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame.

TUESDAY, August 12th, 2014 
-The day we walked and walked and walked and walked. Literally. About 10 miles. Decided to Walk to the Musee d'Orsay. Spent the morning immersed in impressionism (I say, I quite fancy that Monet). Decided to walk to the Rodin museum with directions from Google maps which had never failed me before (this was the first time and hopefully the only failure). Google's "10 minute" walk turned into 35. Eventually made it to Rodin's and saw the Thinker as well as many other masterpieces. Walked down the Champs Elysees and stopped at Laduree (the best macarons in the world, as well as the most expensive). Walked another few miles back to Hotel de Nice.                                                                                                               

WEDNESDAY, August 13, 2014. {Email of the day's adventures}
Today we had quite the day. Luckily, it turned out fabulously and not fatefully. We had planned to leave the hotel at 8:00 sharp to navigate our way through the metro maze to meet our Fat Bike Tour guide. I got up, got ready, and went and knocked on the parents door. No answer. I knocked again. No answer. I knocked for about 10 to 15 minutes. Finally, I heard some grumblings. "Whhhaatt?? What is going on?" Pause. "It's 8:00!!!!" "What??????" The door opens and everyone is in bed, scrambling to get out. Thankfully, we managed to get our wits together and out we went at 8:30. We even made it to the meeting spot with a half hour to spare :) Off we went on the train to Vernon. Before boarding our tour guide kept repeating, "now everyone just walk very calmly to the train." I can only imagine how many frenzied, frantic, tourists they have dashing wildly to the train. The ride was about 40 minutes; dad and I had an interesting time trying out the train toilet- imagine an airplane bathroom wiggling around (I nearly fell off). 

We made it in one piece to Vernon and walked to get our bikes. They all had wild names- Earl was "Istanbul was Constantinople," Mom- Helga Hufflepuff, Dad-Mad Max, and me- Natural Balance. Fitting, they knew I needed to be naturally balanced today. First we went to gather items for our picnic. We went to a lovely boulangerie and got baguettes, a tarte, and an eclair Nutella. Then we headed over to the market and bought a lot of cheese. Also some cider which we later found was very alcoholic. We headed on our bikes with the tour in domination formation (covering the entire road) to our picnic spot. After picnicing, we headed off to Giverny- which I kept getting confused with Givenchy. Not the same, at all. We road on a charming little bike path that at one point had been a rail road track. Claude took the very path when moving to Giverny. French Claude, the painter, not to be confused with mom's friend, Jean Claude, the chef. 

 We arrived at the house and woah. Was it spectacular. We went straight to the Japanese gardens and stood on the water lilies bridge. We had a lovely time looking at all the many types of flowers in the gardens. Claude meticulously picked out flowers from all over the world and brought them to his garden. We walked through Claude's home, which was also amazing. He had Japanese prints all over! Very cool. After the tour we saw Claude's grave- him and a dozen other Monets. In the same grave. We then biked back the way we came and stopped at a small grocery store to, as our tour guide said, "reward ourselves with a beer." 

After the train ride home, we made the trek back to our eclectic hotel with Marie Antoinette 70's garb. We now have a four person room, the "family suite." It's sweeter than anything you ever did see for our little family. There is what appears to be maroon and white Asian wallpaper covering the room. And I mean covering, literally. Wall to wall, top to bottom, the whole ceiling is covered. We almost missed the wall paper covered dresser- two knobs gave it away. The bed spreads are also a nice maroon and white to match, with maroon carpet to finish it off. I also have yet to figure out the shower. There is no curtain. I turned the head into the corner as far as it would go and slide into the corner, trying to only get the wall wet. Needless to say, when I finished, there was water everywhere. I stayed in while M, D, and Earl went out to dinner. They brought me home a club sandwich. I was so excited to eat it, bit right in, and thought, this is so strange and slightly disturbing. I couldn't imagine what was wrong with it. It seemed spongy and soggy and, quite frankly, wrong. I opened it up and lo and behold, raw fish. So much raw fish. I wasn't very hungry after that. Now I am in the napping house; people are snoring, so it appears it's time to be off to bed!



Monday, May 26, 2014

Fast Forward: Meet the Petersons

Aside: I've severely slacked on blog writing duties and a lifetime of things have changed. So, here's to a fresh start, new beginnings, a blog transformation, and punctual life updates. 


Meet the Petersons:
I'm Lauren. He's Michael. March 2, 2012, we met on a blind date. Little did we know what adventures were in store for us. One thing led to another; we got to know each other. We danced, romanced, broke up, woke up, got rings, wedding things, connected the dots, and tied the knot. 

Michael is getting ready to start medical school at Duke in August and I am in law school at BYU (for now). 

This blog is henceforth dedicated to the adventures of us. 





Tuesday, July 31, 2012

We Buy Kimonos. And One Gigantic Lint Roller

Alright alright. So it has taken me 8 billion years to finish blogging about the Japan trip. And the joyous thing is that (or maybe not so joyous if you're tired of hearing about it) after this post I still have 4 days left to go. Maybe it's because a mini part of me doesn't want to be finished with it. Perhaps I will start combining the days. I am getting lazy in my old age. That's the depressing truth. But alas, I couldn't bring myself to combine this post with another. No, not Nara. Home of 1,200 little deer. Though it's tough to say, I might have to dub Nara as my favorite place in Japan. Mostly because little deer stood next to me and ate crackers right out of the palm of my hand. It was better than Disneyland. Almost.

Here's the quick and dirty (though not so dirty because Japan is impeccable in the cleanliness area). I wouldn't want to ruin the magic of Nara with a lengthly post.

-Isuien Garden: Lovely little garden that sparked a desire in me to get my very on Bonsai tree. One day.


-Todai-ji: Daibutsu, Japan's largest bronze Buddha which is housed inside the world's largest wooden structure. Each curl on the Buddha's head is as large as a human head.

-Kofuku-ji: A five story pagoda and many many deer.

-Totally Turtles: Hundreds of tiny turtles in a mini lake. I nearly jumped in 1. To catch one and bring it home 2. It was unbearably hot and I was sweating bullets.


-Tiny Old Japanese Men Riding Around Town: After walking for a million miles, I certainly envied them.


-Mr. Donut: These look incredibly delicious, do they not? I have never been more excited to have a donut. My heart fell the moment I bit into it. I thought I had crammed a handful of packing peanuts in my mouth by mistake.


-We Buy A Gigantic Lint Roller: We went crazy in the 100 yen store. Imagine the possibilities with this beauty. Next flight you go on, remember to pack one of these.


-Kimonos: After our Kimono renting experience, we couldn't leave Japan without purchasing three. Or rather, after being in the second hand Kimono store for over an hour, we couldn't leave without purchasing one. I'm still contemplating the perfect occasion to wear it.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Almost Famous

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

When I was young (those were the days) I used to wish I was famous. I hoped that magically by pure chance, I would meet a famous movie star that look exactly like me and we'd switch places for a bit. Just like in the Disney channel original, Model Behavior. If you haven't seen it, it's a must watch. That, along with Brink and Alley Cats Strike.

Becoming famous in America is hard work (at least I assume it is, I haven't actually attempted it yet, that's a hurdle to jump next year) but if that is your life goal, do not be deterred. I have a simple solution for you: Move to Japan.

Day 2 in Kyoto was as lovely, fabulous, and as jam packed as all the rest.

Here are the highlights:
  • My Love Amongst 1,001

Welcome to the Sanjusandgendo, the longest wooden building in Japan. Please forgive the poor picture quality, compliments of google bilder search. Inside the building are 1,001 statues (pictures not allowed, I think the above photo is a pic of a postcard. Possibly). Supposedly, hidden among the 1,001 is the face of your one true love. Did I find mine, you ask? Hard to say. 

  • Geishas In Kiyomizu-dera

As Lady Gaga says, Papa-paparazzi. Though, I'm not sure she was referring to elementary kids. Today, we dressed as Geishas for a few hours (any more, I'm not sure I could handle.) Barely able to breathe and a calf work out to boot, I got my wish from ages past. Famous. Almost. Never have I ever posed for so many pictures. Possibly over a hundred. In the space of an hour. Celebrities for a day. And it was exhausting.

  • Yakisoba
A fab fav dish of the trip. 

  • Dance, Dance, Dance In Orange Pants

Fushimi Inari Shrine. Like pioneer children, we walked, and walked, and walked, and walked through hundreds of Torri up the mountain. Lucky for me, the Torri matched my pants. Let's not forget, speed walking. M has quite a talent for it. Who knew?

(PS: On this day, we moved to the Best Western, in hopes of receiving the free breakfast as advertised online. Though much lovelier than the Annex, our breakfast dreams were dashed upon arrival).


Friday, June 15, 2012

Kyoto and Kaori

Tuesday, May 29: Off to Kyoto

Can I just say, Japan is amazingly spectacular. Every day I thought, "nothing can top this," yet the next day, it was even better.

Mad Dash Morning:
B and I had to make a 7:35 train. We were feeling pretty good, weaving in and out of a million Asians at the Tokyo station. It didn't last long. We were at the wrong station. With 15 minutes till take off. In a crazed frenzy, we: jumped on a train, jumped off a train, ran up and down a million escalators, ran to the wrong train, ran the right way, ran up 5 dozen stairs at least, jumped onto the train. Success. We made it.

Kyoto:
10:30, we arrived at Kyoto, met our guide Kaori, and off we went. Thank goodness Kaori helped us find our hotel. About a block from the train station, she says, "there it is." She points to a building with a huge green sign in Japanese. Apparently it says, Kyoto Hotel Annex. Alright then.

Off we go to see the sites. The weather is heavenly, the sun is shining. But wait, are those clouds I see in the distance? No, they can't be. Not when we've left both sets of ponchos at the Annex along with our umbrellas. Kaori: "Don't worry, my phone says it's sunny all day." One minute later:


Yes, that's about right. Little umbrella- Big rain. Even littler umbrella as there were two people under it (Me and B). It's safe for you to guess that, it started pouring. Just like in Nikko. We were too cheap to buy more ponchos and instead got an umbrella. It was broken after 10 minutes. I suppose we got what we paid for. 

We waited out the rain in a mini shop, dashed to a strange lunch shop that used to be a public bath (creepo if you ask me), and finally were on our way. 

What we saw: 
The Golden Pavilion 

Rock Gardens Galore. I think I may start one of these. I hear smoothing out patterns in gravel is soothing to the soul. 

Legend has it: if a carp can swim up the waterfall and drink from the top, it'll turn into a prince. To Do List: Get a dozen carp for the backyard waterfall. 12 Swimming Princes, I think yes.

Finally: Nap at the hotel from 5:00-8:40 (jet lag really did us in), woke up (luckily) just in time to dash to the train station and search for M (collapsed on the group and everyone peered at us improper Americans), found M wandering the station, back to the Annex (I'm still puzzling over why the hotel was called the Annex. As far as I know, it was simply a creepy, mini, taupe/brown/burnt orange room with scary 70's, floral bed covers. We were lucky to even wake up the next morning.)



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