Sunday, November 29, 2009

Gone With The Wind...Tennessee style

When I was younger, I always wanted to be a southern belle. Not sure why, but I loved the movie Gone With The Wind and I love the Civil War era. So I guess it makes sense that I always wanted to be the belle of a huge southern plantation, that included a house with huge columns and lots of open fields for the front yard. I got to see them in Tennessee. Celia and I sought after our dreams by visiting the Rippavilla Plantation, Carter house and the Carnton plantation in Franklin Tennessee.
First Rippavilla Plantation:

One day my house?

At the Carter house, we found the headquarters for the Union soldiers who were going to be participating in the Battle of Franklin Re-enactment taking place later. Yes, we were there for a re-enactment. It was great!!

We were introduced to Gigi's.

While in Nashville, the Gholson's and G&G Christensen introduced Celia and I to Gigi's bakery. Bry, you would love this place. This little bakery boutique carry's AMAZING cupcakes. It's pretty crazy what they can do with cake and frosting. So we got to enjoy these little cakes of delightfulness. Mine was yellow cake with strawberry frosting, a Miss Princess cupcake. Appropriate? ;)

Celia and I also made our first ever trips to Sonic. I have to say, getting tots instead of fries is pretty dang good! Their burgers were pretty good too:) It was a great culinary holiday weekend!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Yes, Celia and I love our history

On Friday after Thanksgiving, we dived into some local history. What would a trip with two History majors be without that. How many of you knew that Tennessee had so much Civil War History? I knew from the last trip here about 10 years ago, but didn't get to see to as much as I would have liked. So on Friday, we ventured down to Murfreesboro, TN to see the battlefield down there. Tennessee had quite a bit of fighting during the Civil War. It was a Confederate border state and many cities went back and forth between Union and Confederacy. The battle outside Murfreesboro was called The Battle of Stones River. It was a big clash south of Nashville in 1862 into 1863 that saved a vital road and railroad line for the Union. While the South claimed victory, the south left the field first, leaving it to the North. Lincoln told Rosecrans that he gave the Union hope with his victory, after the war had been going badly for the North so far.

There was a place on the battlefield called the Slaughter Pen. The union forces retreated into this wooded area and tried to find cover behind the limestone natural to the area. But there wasn't much cover for the mass of soldiers who ran into there. And it was so rocky the cannon couldn't make it through so many broke down.

There is a cemetery across from the battlefield for the Union soldiers. It is pretty dramatic the amount of headstones there.

We also drove by the headquarters for the Union general.

So, we did get in some history. Wait for it...there is more on Saturday:)

I think I've been deprived, but Thankful I've found it now.

My sister Celia and I joined my grandparents Christensen and Aunt Karen and Uncle Ronnie in Spring Hill, Tennessee. We have immersed ourself in the southern culture as much as possible. Firstly, the Thanksgiving feast. I was introduced to a new dish, but not new to the south. Corn Pudding. I have been deprived by not enjoying this dish before. My uncle supervised my first attempt at making it. It tasted good to me, and the experts said it tasted good to them, so I guess it turned out okay. I got the recipe from them so I can transport this dish west. My uncle cooked up the turkey perfectly, my aunt showed me how to make HER funeral potatoes recipe, Paula Deen's Old country dressing recipe was cooked up by my uncle and was fabulous and grandma showed us how to make gravy. Add rolls and fruit salad to the mix and this was a fantastic thanksgiving feast. And leftovers for days!

I was able to think about all the things I'm thankful for this year and I have many things. Mainly, I'm thankful for the gospel. I have had a few experiences lately that have taught me how the gospel makes you free. I've seen friends who aren't members of the church, have the consequences of choices they made in the past, come back to find them. I have seen how when we make an early choice to not do something and stick to that decision, we don't have to worry about the bad consequences that may come. The gospel keeps us free. When we have a testimony and choose to follow the commandments, we are more free. I have seen friends lose jobs because of past choices that were made in a moment but affected their lives further down the road. It's been wonderful to turn to my testimony and prayer to find comfort in the gospel. So I'm grateful for that.

I'm also grateful for my family. The more I'm with family, the more I wish I wasn't far away from them. I have loved being with my grandparents, and my aunt and uncle and my sisters this holiday. But even more is that during this holiday, I've felt more that Heavenly Father knows my family and is mindful of them and all that they are going through. While jobs and illness may be tough trials right now, we are watched over. So Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays!

We did take video

So we took some video of our trip. The first one is of our apple picking adventure. The second is of our drive in Marblehead. Beautiful scenery. I'm sorry there isn't any sound, I have yet to figure out how to record sound, I think I need a microphone.:(

Meet me in....the Atlantic?

Our Boston travels took us to the far reaches of our country...this is as far as I've ever been.
But even out there, we had help for us to find our way...light is never far off. It has always been one of my goals to visit Atlantic lighthouses. So I probably got pretty annoying by trying to get our group to head to all these lighthouses. We marched through brush and field to get there but we got some good shots!

We decided that we could be flexible in our sight seeing, so we headed up to New Hampshire to check out the "American Stonehenge." Scholars are not sure and argue about where these formations came from. It looked like stone tables, some chambers, possible sacrificial areas. We're not sure, but it was pretty cool to go up to another state, it was only 20 miles away! Everything seemed so much smaller there. This is a photo of Cassie standing next to some clay depressions that were used by whomever built American Stonehenge.

...and a shot of the drive.

We jumped into local activity by heading to the Topsfield Fair, one of the oldest fairs in the country, if not THE oldest. It's like many other fairs, except this one has the largest pumpkin contest! Check out the size of this one. We enjoyed the food and fun of the day and went back to our little home happy, full and content with how our trip had been going.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Should probably get more pictures of Boston up...

Since it's taking me a while to get my blog updated, I figured I should put up pictures and maybe tell my memories through the pictures I'll post.

We made it to Essex and Ipswich. We tried clam cakes, no not crab cakes, but clam cakes. They were really good! I didn't think it would be that good, but we really liked them. From there we headed over to Gloucester and checked out the harbor, one of the oldest in the US.

We drove down the coast to Marblehead and saw the beautiful Atlantic seaboard...

One of my favorite parts of the trip was seeing the Massachusetts countryside. I liked the city and thought it was fun, but I love exploring the surrounding areas. It was just nice to drive and see what was out there. I don't do that in San Diego. One of my goals is to see more of America, the countryside and all that is here! So this was my start!
Here's the scenery...

Here is the Trinity Church. Our vacation rental was within walking distance of this church and other beautiful buildings. This church was built in 1733.
We stayed near Copley square and had a fun time seeing the sights.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Monday Monday...It was actually a great day!

Day 3 in Boston was one fabulous day! Surprising for a Monday! We started out by traveling outside of Boston, exploring the less touristy surroundings. We picked up our rental car in a not so pleasant part of town. We thought we were purchasing our rental car from the cheapest enterprise rental car. That should have tipped us off. As we walked from the T to enterprise, we kept looking around thinking this looked kind of sketchy, but oh well.

So we hopped in our car...

We were so excited to be traveling outside of the city, to see what Massachusetts had to show us...

Our first stop...IPSWICH, MA! What would fall in New England be without checking out the local produce. Cassie's coworker grew up in the area and recommended we try a local apple farm. Having worked on a fruit farm in high school, it was really fun to be there. We picked apples and checked out the pumpkin patch. Did you know there were so many different varieties of apples? It was fantastic, if we could have made a pie, we would have!

Second stop...MARBLEHEAD, MA, but on the way we had to stop in ESSEX, MA to get some fantastic clamcakes. We stopped at Woodman's to try the local fare.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Let Freedom Ring!

We began Day 2 refreshed after having finally slept! Can I tell you a little about our vaca rental? We stayed in the Back Bay area of Boston, in an old brownstone. We had the penthouse suite. It had 2 bedrooms, one bath, a TV area where another person could sleep on the couch and an aero bed, a living room, a dining room and a kitchen. I would suggest a vacation rental anytime. It was cheaper than a hotel and had the amenities of a home. Fabulous time in our Boston home!

We began the day with the Freedom Trail.

We started at Boston Common and walked the red line through the city, viewing all the historical points of interest. I was so excited to be standing and viewing the same buildings as the founding fathers of our country. I can't tell you the thrill I had of being in some of the oldest European settled cities our country has. My ancestors walked these streets, participated in the events of the day and helped found this great country and I was able to walk a little bit into their lives.

In any case, we walked the freedom trail, starting in Boston Common, the oldest public park in the country. Here colonists grazed their sheep and cattle and during the siege of Boston, the redcoats pitched their tents and participated in their training drills.

From there, we moved onto the Massachusetts state house, onto King Chapel, the oldest and original Church of England in the colonies, later to become an Episcopalian congregation. Here famous folks were buried at the Old Burying Ground, including Paul revere, the Winthrops, John Hancock and others.

We continued on to Old South Church, to the Old State House, Fanueil Hall where orators such as Samuel Adams made their opinions heard. Quincy Market was next and then onto the North End where Paul Revere's is. We toured his home and learned more about his livelihood. He worked with metals, forming bells, anything to do with copper. He was one of THE metalurgy workers in the area and many of the old churches have bells made by him.

We heard about this place in the North End called Mike's Pastries. So of course since we were right there, we HAD to stop by. We went back to that place another day, it was so good. They had amazing canolies, whoopie pies, cookies, and other fabulous desserts. We stocked up and walked back along the Freedom Trail to our house where we watched the last session of conference and made Bryonny's fabulous soup. Cozy way to end a fall day in Boston, wouldn't you say!

(Our friend Jake from San Diego was able to join us Day 1 and Day 2. He was out checking out the Boston colleges. Thanks to him for putting up with our plans and occasionally being our T-train bodyguard, he had 4 girls to look after!)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We Don't Do Weather-Beantown Day 1

Day 1, We have arrived!
Flight 10:30 pm, Friday night, yes we took a red eye, yes we were crazy. I don't think any of us realized how long the night was going to be. I personally have never taken a red eye before and came to the conclusion that adrenaline can take you to places you've never been. We arrived "red and puffy eyed" in Boston at 7am, ready to start our adventure!

7am, Saturday, Logan International airport: We look outside, and our first day in Boston is rainy. But we'll go with the flow! We will be experiencing all of Boston's faces. We get our luggage and head for the shuttle buses, where we take off the for the T (Boston's subway system). We figure out the Blue line to the Orange line will drop us off a few blocks from where we are staying. I will say, Boston has a pretty good subway system. We're utilizing it quite often on this trip. But BART takes the cake for having the trains come to you and then go off on their different lines instead of Boston's process of the people moving to the different pick up points. In any case, not a bad system. The events that have happened so far include: the nod of approval from a guy in the subway ticket area. We got a nod that to us, signified that even in our tired, no make up, no contacts, yoga pants state, we were still worth a look and not bad. All that before 7:30am. (In case you didn't know, Boston is 3 hours ahead, so all this took place in the wee hours of a California morning).

We in Boston!: the subway ticket agent asking us if we needed help. If you were to look at 4 girls/women who had 4 bags of luggage and backpacks, dressed in comfortable clothes that did were more colorful than anything the native Bostonians were wearing, would you think they were from out of town? Yes, we stuck out and yes we needed help. We couldn't check into our vacation rental until 11am, so we have 4 hours to kill. And we were hungry! This woman directed us to a place up the street that served buffet breakfast!! Hello, can we say answer to unspoken prayers! We headed off that way and apparently still looked lost because she came running behind us telling us where to go and sending us jaywalking across the street, asking "where you all from, New York? We in Boston, cross the street!" So she stopped traffic and directed us across the street to our first glorious meal in Boston.

Homeless men swoop: As we were leaving the train station, we really felt like targets. A homeless man (we know he was homeless cause we are at the moment, homeless as well and we know our people), swept in to get the door for us. But, to our chagrin, another one of our peeps swept in behind us. We were in a homeless sandwich. Luckily, in about 20 minutes, we will not be homeless anymore. What do two homeless men want with our wallets? To our relief, we went one way away from our two friends as they searched out other potential victims of the homeless swoop.

RAIN!!! Yes, it is raining here on our first day. In our homeless state for 4 hours, we experience our own handcart trial. We were carting our luggage for blocks trying to get to the ticket counter for our duck tour, finding breakfast, and then finding our vaca rental. We decided, we don't do weather. Our pioneer ancestors might find us to be sad progeny and pathetic degenerates and disown us in the eternities, as Bryonny slept on a bench in The Pru shopping center, psychotic from lack of sleep. We're missing our "essentials " kit of "food, shelter and love" and mumbling to ourselves, "eleven o'clock, eleven o'clock."

And by the way, restrooms in Barnes and Noble have long lines and are hard to find....

Eleven o'clock came! We were able to finally check into our Apple of Boston B&B penthouse. We are staying in the top 2 stories of an 1870s home on Appleton St, in the Back Bay area of Boston. The place is pretty awesome, with it's brick architecture, 4 stories from the outside, gables on the top floor and narrow staircases within. The four of us are having a great time getting to know our home away from home. We were able to nap and shower after our travels and then hit the town. We first did...

A Duck Tour! These WWII transport marine and land vehicles were turned into tour boats/all terrain vehicles. It took us around the city, giving us brief glimpses of what Boston has to offer and of it's past. We got a bunch of ideas of things we want to do or places to go eat. Come to find out, Boston Creme Pie was invented here and we found the place it was, I think that requires a visit! The Omni hotel I think is where they said it was, We saw a bunch of places we're going to see on our Freedom Trail walk.Luckily, we can see a lot of it on our own.

On the recommendation of our landlady, we tried a restaurant called Brassierie Jo's, it's a french place. Nothing totally awesome about it, except to hungry travelers, it was just food! We plan on hitting up the Union Oyster House, America's claim of oldest restaurant is their novelty. We also want to hit up the North End for dinner, where all there is a community of Italians and there are over 100 italian restaurants. Sounds so good!!

The night ended with the Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park. We got to watch America's pastime at America's oldest sports venue. Fenway park was built in 1912 I believe and is a great place to go for a game. I noticed the Boston fans are more of a participating group than any other fan base I've seen. They were fun, loud and obnoxious on their way home but you could tell they loved their Sox.

It was a fun filled packed day, we're SOOO tired. It's beyond tired, so good night world, these 4 ladies are just starting their world of adventure in Boston!