Thursday, September 18, 2014

Huckleberry Picking!

Have you ever had a huckleberry? If not, you are missing out!  They are similar to a blueberry but smaller and a darker purple color. My sister Mindy, Camron, Kiley, and Cade invited me to go huckleberry picking with them back in July. We enjoyed Kiley's homemade Italian Sodas on the drive up too. :)

One of the reasons why I love North Idaho so much is the free reign of huckleberry picking up in the mountains! It is just so amazing to me that you can drive up a little ways, go into the mountains, and everywhere you see these bushes plum full of little purple berries that you can enjoy! It is amazing to realize all the things that Heavenly Father has created for our enjoyment while we are here on earth. He created such yummy fruits and vegetables that grow for us to eat. The huckleberry is one of his best creations I would say! And the best part is they are free! The land is government owned so anyone is allowed to go and pick them. Every little berry is like gold because these suckers sell for $50 a gallon! They are quite expensive because they really take forever to pick. But of course we didn't sell our berries. We made them into pie, cobbler, pancakes, and smoothies. Yum!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My First Facial!

Now that I have some free time and not having teaching take over my life....I am able to finally catch up on my blog! So a lot of these posts are older and happened over the summer but better late than never right?

One of my students from Pinebrook in VA gave me a certificate to the Red Door Spa for an end of school gift. I was so excited because I love going to the spa but I never want to pay to get things done there because I always wonder if it is really worth the money. The prices kill me! So when I got the gift card I was ecstatic! And the Red Door Spa isn't just any old spa- it is a really expensive, nice spa right in the middle of an expensive outdoor shopping center in Virginia. I was so excited!

After debating to get a pedicure, manicure, etc, I decided I would get a facial because unlike the others, I had never had a facial before and I had always wanted to try it.  It was such a fun experience and I felt very pampered. First, they take you to a special room where you change into a comfy robe and slippers. Then you sit in the relaxing area and drink lemon water on these beautiful couches while reading a magazine. When it was my time to go in, I followed the lady into her room. She had relaxing music playing and the lights were dimmed. She was so friendly and made me feel so comfortable. It was the perfect place to unwind and relax after a stressful year of teaching.

She put on this orange cranberry face mask and I could feel it tingling on my skin. She said it was because of the enzymes in it. There was this steam machine that was pumping out steam onto my skin the whole time to open up my pores. She heated up big arm holders for me to put my arms in and warm up and she covered me up with a comfy blanket. It was divine. The part that was the craziest was when she was sucking out all the dead skin cells off of my face and I could see them going down the little tube. It was kind of disgusting. Then she started picking into my face and nose area to get the blackheads out. That part was pretty painful but I was grateful that she was doing it! The red laser was interesting. She said it was to "kill the bacteria".... hmmm, ok..... It was an hour of complete meditation and relaxation and I loved every minute of it!
After putting a collagen mask on my face during the facial she secretively snuck it into my robe and told me to take it home and use it twice more. She said she wasn't supposed to do that because they sell them in the spa and they want customers to purchase them. But she did it anyway because she liked that I was a teacher I think and because it was my first time. :) So the next couple days I wore that mask for 15 minutes day and night and here is a picture for your enjoyment.....
When I sent it to my mom, she replied, "What is that?" Who is that?" She couldn't believe that it was me and I got a pretty good laugh out of it!

All in all, I loved my facial and wish that I could afford to do it once a month! My skin looked amazing afterwards and it was so smooth and soft. It was such a fun experience that I would highly recommend anyone to do!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

New York City Day 5!

Our last day in NYC started off with a good old French breakfast from Bouchon Bakery. We got the yummiest eclairs that took us back to our time spent in Paris when Nate and I would stop at every pastry shop that we saw, and I ate so much rich food that I think I got an ulcer....anyway, Nate got a chocolate eclair and I got a blueberry mascarpone cheese eclair. We also got some quiche and some fresh squeezed orange juice. Yum!

Levain Bakery is known for their cookies. It is a cute little bakery shop that is hidden in a basement of a building and if you blink you will miss it. We tried two of their cookies- chocolate chip walnut and chocolate peanut butter chip. We now know why they are famous for their cookies! Yum!

When we were on the subway, we ran into the elders! Of course we started chatting and they told us they are serving in Chinatown and are Mandarin speaking missionaries. One was from China and one was from Utah. They seemed to be having a rough day so we invited them to go get lunch with us, on us. They took us to an authentic Chinese restaurant in Chinatown that they like. My potstickers were amazing and everyone else loved their ramen bowls and meats. It was so fun to sit down with them and talk about how the missionary work is going in NYC. I always love hanging out with missionaries because it brings me back to my mission 5 years ago in New England. It makes me miss that life of constant service in the gospel and only be concerned about helping and teaching other people about Jesus Christ instead of worrying about normal life pressures and responsibilities. I really miss it. I am glad we ran into them that day. We blessed them with a free meal but they blessed us even more with their spirit, stories, and testimonies. 
Going to 911 memorial was a humbling, and quite depressing experience. It was great to see the new tower that they built to feel that American pride. What got me the most was all the names of the people who died that were written around the outside of the previous buildings that are now giant fountains. Seeing all of those names and realizing that they are real people in that building and on those is just so sad. So many people lost! I remember that day, the moment I heard the terrible news, and the feelings of sadness and fear rushing over me.

We caught the ferry that goes from Manhattan over to Staten Island to see the Statue of Liberty. The weather was perfect and it was a beautiful day for a ferry ride. And even better, it was free! It was fun seeing the Statue of Liberty as well as the gorgeous view of the New York skyline on this fun tour. 

Until next time New York! 

Hopefully we will see you again soon! 

Friday, September 12, 2014

New York City Day 4!

Day 4 in NYC was mostly spent standing in line......

Nate and I are pros at getting cheap tickets to expensive theater. In London, we would get cheap tickets for 5, 10, and 15 pounds each so we were able to see a ton of theater! Being students also helped and permanently living there to go during the down times like January and February also was a bonus. 

We wanted to get cheap tickets to see Aladdin so we heard about the lottery drawing. What you do is go to the theater 2 hours before the show starts and put your name in a drawing. They give away 20 $30 tickets each night which is a steal when regular tickets are $200 a seat. So we went to the Aladdin theater 3 different times and put our names in the drawing and waited. Sadly, we never got called. There were just too many people there doing the same thing that we were doing. At least we tried!

So we went the 2nd route to getting cheap tickets. We wanted to see Newsies as well so we put the time in and got 2 tickets for $30 each. We got to the theater super early and waited in line. The first 20 people in line get the cheap tickets. When we got there at 7:50 there were already 2 people waiting. So we sat ourselves down on the sidewalk outside of the theater, made ourselves comfy and waited for 3 1/2 hours. Nate wasn't too happy about it, but hey! We got cheap tickets! We thought we only had to wait until 10:30, but we were wrong. They opened at 11:30 so we had to wait a little longer than planned. But I say, it is totally worth it. Nate left for a while to go find us some breakfast. He came back with these super yummy NYC bagels from a famous bagel shop with warm cream cheese. They definitely hit the spot and made waiting in line a bit more bearable. But boy did we get close seats! We were in row D on the right and then at intermission moved to row B in the center. 

The dancing in the show was incredible. If you have seen the Disney movie version of Newsies you might understand how the dancing would be in the live show. Wow! All of these guys up there doing flips here, and turns there, lifts and tumbling, everything you could imagine. There wasn't a boring second in the show! I even got emotional at the end because the dancing was just so touching and so dang good! I didn't want it to stop!

National History Musuem
The Manhattan LDS Church Building and Manhattan Temple

Going to church there was a really neat experience. Here you are right in the middle of Manhattan and surrounded by all the business and craziness and NYC brings. Then right on the corner where people walk by every day, there is the LDS church. It is so hidden and you don't even realize it is a church until you look up and see the lettering on the building. And what is even more amazing about it is that this is where the Manhattan temple is too! You walk in the doors and to the right is the stairs up to the church area and to the left and right in front of you is the temple entrance. They even have the Moroni statue on top! It was such a testimony to me when I walked in those doors that day. Outside I felt stressed and rushed and as soon as I walked in the door I felt peaceful. It was so quiet and calm in there. It was like the world stopped for just a bit. In the chapel during sacrament meeting, the windows are covered with drapes so you can't see out. You wouldn't even guess that you are in the middle of NYC. It seemed like a regular chapel in there completely quiet and reverent. It was nice to have a break from the business and remember what is important in life. Plus, I saw three people there that I knew! Some friends from London and a girl from one of my classes at BYU! I am grateful that I can travel literally anywhere in the world and go to the same church with the same doctrine every Sunday, and know that Christ's church is the same no matter where you are. 

The rest of our day was full of food and looking around. I already talked about my love for gourmet mac and cheese....well we found another awesome restaurant that was under the "Talk of the Town" section on Urban Spoon. It is called "S'Mac" and it is so yum. It is a whole restaurant centered around mac and cheese. We got the sampler platter to share honestly because we couldn't decide to what kinds to get. With the sampler, you get to try a little bit of everything. They even gave us a paper and tells you which kinds are in which sections. Yum! I am in love with this little place.

And for dessert we went with an authentic Italian gelato place called, Grom. The people working there are Italian with strong Italian accents. Their gelato is made strictly from organic and local products. It was heavenly and so fresh. Yum!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

New York City Day 3!

Day 3 in NYC we went on a new adventure. We got on the subway to leave Manhattan for the day and said hello to Brooklyn! I am so glad we did! Brooklyn is such a fun place to visit. There is so much going on there especially on the weekends. It is a fantastic place to people watch. You never know what you are going to see! We luckily found out about this "Smorgasburg" going on and it was AMAZING.
Nate and I travel for food. We are always researching and finding out the best places to eat the most unique and gourmet foods wherever we go. The Smorgasburg was amazing. It is full of young, hip NYC chefs that are trying to make it in the real world. They are trying to make it big and open up a store front in the city. It is this huge space full of 100 gourmet food trucks with every type of food that you could ever dream of. Some of the ideas and foods that they were making were so creative and unique. It was so fun!
I have always been a sucker for grilled cheese sandwiches and mac and cheese. But not just the regular old boring kid kinds with white bread and cheddar and some macaroni from a Kraft box....I like grilled cheese and mac and cheese that has a grown up twist to it, with a gourmet exciting edge. When I saw the Milk Truck, I knew that it had my name written all over it. They were selling my three favorite things! Grilled Cheese, Mac and Cheese and Cold Shakes. Good thing I'm not lactose intolerant! The lines were so long but it was well worth the wait. My sandwich had baked granny smith apples on it with a mix of gruyere, brie, and parmesan cheese, with a rosemary and herb sourdough bread toasted perfectly. I was in grilled cheese heaven. Nate on the other hand went to some other food trucks, ones with a bit more meat. He found a BBQ place that looked awesome so he stood in a huge line and waited patiently for his turn to sink his teeth into his sandwich. We also got some fresh squeezed maple lemonade, and a nutella, chocolate ice cream sandwich. We were very impressed with a place that had the biggest line of all, Ramen Burger. We didn't think it was worth the wait but I still snagged a picture. They make burgers out of compacted ramen noodles for the bun. Pretty genius I must say. Of course there were lots of ice cream places, even vegan ice cream places, fire grilled pizza places, homemade natural popsicles, and lots of shaved ice where they are scraping the ice right there in front of you from a big ice block. Nate and I both wished we had 3 stomachs each because everything was so dang good and we wanted to try everything!

After lunch, we went over to a limited time art exhibit in the Domino's Sugar Factory. This factory is closing down. Instead of just closing the doors and calling it done, an artist decided to make an art exhibit out of it from sugar for people to come and see. She sculpted statues made 100% out of brown sugar. They are supposed to depict the sugar factory workers. What is crazy out it is that every day the museum art pieces change little by little because they are slowly melting away in the hot summer heat. Some statues have already crumbled to the ground. As soon as all the statues have collapsed, the art exhibit will close. I am glad that we were there when it was going on!

They also made a giant woman statue out of white sugar! 100% white sugar! It is shockingly huge as you can see in the pictures. It really was unlike anything that I have ever seen. Very artsy. And there is a little kinda gross surprise from the back view....

And of course no trip is complete without a visit to my absolute favorite place....Laduree! It brought back memories of London and Paris....sigh. We tried some new flavors but mostly stuck to our two top favorite ones- raspberry and salted carmel.
We walked through Grand Central Station, took some Taxi rides, and did some window shopping to all the high end stores. Christian Louboutin is now my new favorite shoe designer and when Nate is a rich Lawyer one day, I am going to buy myself a pair of his heels! :) 

We ended the day with some glorious Thai food. We went to Sea Thai and it was so good. We got some spring rolls, curry and coconut rice, and a fun bubble drink. My taste buds are salivating right now just thinking about it!