Monday, May 15, 2017

Mother's Day Weekend

Happy Mother's Day to all of the mothers out there! We had a great weekend celebrating with my mom, who was in San Antonio for a short vacation. We met up a few times for dinner during the week, and then spent Saturday on the River Walk for a few hours before their flight back home. It's starting to get really hot here, and I hear we're just getting started. I'm starting to think that if I survive my first Texas summer, it will be a miracle. Side note: I went to Old Navy today to try to get some shorts and MAN, that was a rude awakening. Time to hit the gym! Why are flattering shorts so hard to find?

Here we are at the River Walk, sweating almost to death:

Watching the boats go by. We took one of these river cruises last time my mom was in town, and it was really fun. I think it was November, though, so it was much cooler and therefore probably more enjoyable. Also, that water is quite the unique shade of...brownish green. Yuck.
We stayed in San Antonio until mid-afternoon, and then headed home for the rest of the evening. I haven't mentioned this yet on the blog, but we're getting ready to gain a new roommate for the summer! My youngest sister, Kathryn, has an summer internship in Austin so she will be moving into Ali's room in a couple of weeks. It will be a full house, and I'm sure Peter's dream come true ;), but I can hardly wait! After spending two years in Australia and missing quite a few family events, it will be fun to catch up a bit on some lost time with all of us girls in the same city.

On Sunday, Peter set out early to get a round of golf in with a coworker before it got unberably hot, which happened to be at about 10 am. Ali and I went for brunch at Hillside Farmacy, an adorable little place in East Austin.

After regrouping at home midday, we decided to trek up to Cedar Park, a suburb about 20 minutes north of Austin, to check out the first Whole Foods 365 store in the country. As you probably know, Whole Foods has a reputation for being ridiculouly expensive. While I can always justify splurging on quality meat and fish, I don't necessarily want to spend $10 on generic brown rice, nor do I care if it's organic, etc. so I usually skip Whole Foods altogether. I know they have been working on a lower-priced store for some time to lure in millenials, and the first one is now open! It mainly features their own 365 brand, and is definitely cheaper than the flagship store. It's a good start, and especially if you're into organic food, but we still feel like H-E-B wins out overall.
We got a few things, including steaks we (Peter) grilled last night for dinner that were really good. I also discovered this juice, and I can't tell yet if I like it enough to buy it again. Turmeric is everywhere right now and is suppsed to be really good for you. I read awhile back that you should mix a teaspoon with pepper in lemon juice and drink it once a day. I tried it, and then made Peter try it, and we both almost threw up. So, I gave up on it altogether until I saw this juice, which I can confirm isn't horrible.
That about sums up our weekend. This week is pretty quiet with mainly work and planning our trip to London in June on the agenda. Peter is going home to visit his grandparents in northern Minnesota for Memorial Day, and Kathryn will be coming down that weekend, so we are anticipating a busy start to the summer!
Monday, May 8, 2017

Day Trip: Fredericksburg

Blog Revival


I haven't posted in forever. Don't fret, though...I'm in the process of renaming/redesigning the blog, so it's not going away anytime soon! For awhile, I didn't post much because I thought my life wasn't interesting enough post-Australia. Which may be true. I work full time now, and my day-to-day life isn't nearly as novel as it used to be. But then I realized that I like having a place to look back on all our pictures and adventures, however mundane they may be. Plus, the blogs I like to read aren't necessarily about earth-shatteringly interesting topics all the time, it's just fun to see what people are doing. I suppose blogging in itself is a little bit self-indulgent, but whatever. If people find it boring or don't care, then they don't have to read it!

So, I've got a few new names for the blog I've been tossing around (since we haven't been 'Down Under' in over six months) but any ideas are welcome! Please send them my way :) 

______________________________________________________


Day Trip To Fredericksburg


On to our latest day trip: Fredericksburg! If you have no idea what/where that is, you're not alone. I hadn't heard of Fredericksburg until a few girls from work mentioned that they attended recent bachelorette parties there. Basically, it's an adorable little old German town about an hour and a half straight west of Austin with TONS of vineyards and wineries. You could definitely make a weekend out of it, but it's also a pretty easy day trip from both Austin and San Antonio. We headed over on a Sunday morning, and since most of the wineries don't open until noon on Sunday, we didn't have to leave particularly early, which was an added bonus. 

Wildseed Farms


Our first stop was this adorable flower farm a few miles east of the main drag of Fredericksburg. Ali was googling around and found it somehow, but it's quite the attraction. In the late summer and fall, Wildseed Farms has amazing sunflower fields. According to Instagram, at least. We stopped into the cute garden store to look around and check out the spring flowers. It was the cutest little place, with tons of old people milling around. It was basically a grandparent mecca, and since we're old at heart, we fit right in.

 We mainly saw poppy fields this early in the season. They were so pretty!


We aren't gardeners by any means. Actually, we've never gardened anything. I'm currently on my longest streak of keeping a plant alive, and I think it's been six months. The point is, you don't have to be a flower fanatic to appreciate Wildseed Farms!

We drove straight into town and were pretty hungry, so we had lunch at a really good burger place and looked around a little bit. We must have been really focused on food because I took zero pictures. After checking out some shops, we headed to our first winery, Barons Creek. The weather on this particular day was perfect. It was chilly in the morning, and then warmed up nicely in the sun, but it wasn't hot and there was no humidity, which we cherished, knowing that we'll be dripping sweat in a matter of weeks here in Texas.

Barons Creek Vineyards


There were some cute villas in the back of this vineyard that you could rent out, and a really pretty patio area popular for weddings and events. The whole place was only a year or so old, but I foresee it being a popular weekend getaway!
We did a tasting inside, purchased a bottle of their white wine, and the headed out to the courtyard to enjoy the weather. It felt very Tuscan for Texas!



Grape Creek Vineyards


We headed over to Grape Creek Vineyards as we made our way back toward Austin, and it was hoppin' (that would have been a good brewery pun). There was even a private deck for wine club members, and we are all seriously thinking about joining. These people were LIVING. 

We grabbed a glass and sat near one of the fountains enjoying the weather, admiring the array of dogs people brought, and listening to the live music.

 We then headed over to look at the vineyard for a few minutes.



It was a great day, and we are already planning a trip back to hit up a few more wineries, see the wildflowers in bloom, and check out an alpaca farm in the area. More to come :)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Day Trip: Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch

Last weekend, in keeping with our life goal to visit every drive-through animal park in America, we decided to head down to New Braunfels, which is near San Antonio and less than an hour from Austin, to visit the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch. I sort of kid about this being our life goal, but sort of not. There was a place near us when we lived in Missouri called the Wild Animal Safari, and I'm 100% sure it was not legal. But it was also the greatest place on Earth. You could drive through and the animals were always hungry enough to run up to your car and stick their heads in. You could also purchase raw chicken at the front desk to stick on the end of a pole and feed to tigers, who would often fight over it. Like I said, probably not legal.


Anyway, thus began our fascination with wild animal parks, and here we are. The Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is much classier, larger, and probably more regulated than the Wild Animal Safari, which made for a fun day, but sadly not as many animal heads in the car. This was fine with Peter, who was mainly concerned with keeping any form of antlers away from the car, but Ali and I were trying to lure the animals as close as possible, naturally.

These deer totally DGAF that we were driving a few feet away holding some form of pellet food out to them. 
Looking slightly more interested...
Finally, some cow/deer hybrid thing made its way up to our car and Ali way overjoyed. 
Not entirely sure what these were, but they weren't too interested in us. Kind of the theme of the day. Part of our problem, I think, was that we visited the park on a Sunday during what we later figured out was spring break for most Texas schools. There was a legitimate traffic jam at one point, complete with a fender bender, so maybe the animals were a bit overfed on this particular day.
So pretty...whatever it is! Peter was especially concerned with this guy getting close to the car.
Ali was especially concerned with him walking away.
The classic giraffe exhibit.
Some more unidentified species hanging out. This places was HUGE and had some really pretty areas to drive through.

All in all, the day trip was totally worth it. The landscape was so pretty, and so were the animals, even though they weren't that concerned with us! There's some sort of cave attraction just next door to the wildlife ranch, so you know we'll be back to check it out.
Monday, March 13, 2017

Weekending: Franklin BBQ and SXSW

Hello, friends! I'm bringing you a few pictures from the last couple of weekends, including an epic trip to Franklin BBQ, and our first adventure at South by Southwest, which is currently in full swing in Austin.

The weather has been gross. We've gotten a lot of rain lately and it's been hideously humid at times. We've actually had plans to go to one of those drive-through animal parks for at least four Sundays in a row now, and it's been raining every single week, so we've been putting it off. A couple weeks ago, we decided to make use of the gloomy Sunday and finally try out the legendary Franklin Barbeque. This place is world-famous, at least that's what they say, and regularly has a two-plus hour wait, hence why we haven't tried it up until a couple weeks ago. We hoped the rain would keep the line short, but of course, that was wishful thinking. 

This was the line when we got there. Apparently, those at the front had been camped out since 6 am. Nope. No thank you. I'm not sure there's anything in the world I would camp out at 6 am for, to be honest. Other than maybe Taylor Swift. Maybe. 


 Our plate. It was pretty amazing, I must say.

Franklin is in a little run-down building in an up-and-coming part of town. Read: janky. We arrived around 10:30 am, and I'm pretty sure we sat down to eat around 12:45 pm. So, yes, it was a long wait. But we all had books downloaded on our phones, and they had foldable chairs to sit in so it wasn't so bad. Was it worth it? I'd say if you LOVE barbecue (Peter) and want to try out one of the most famous joints, then yes! If you're like me, and like barbecue but aren't that big on all the hype, then it's something that's fun to do once, but I'm not sure I need to go back. One of Ali's coworkers swears that it's overrated, and the 'real' BBQ is in east Texas. We might be making a pilgrimage out that way one of these days. Peter is pretty obsessed with barbecue and doesn't believe that anything better than Franklin's exists. I'll keep you posted.


Next up: a pilgrimage to Round Rock Donuts. I'm noticing that we make a lot of food pilgrimages. The big draw with this place is that it was featured on Man Vs. Food and sells a 'Texas-sized donut' which of course we ordered. It was amazing, and I'm sad to say that we finished it within two days. Did we each probably gain 10 pounds? Yes. Do we regret it? No.
 Here's another picture for scale.

Food pilgrimage #2 of last weekend was a trip to the new Sprinkles cupcake ATM at the Domain. The fact that this exists proves that there is a God. 


Speaking of food, because when am I not, Stitch Fix feeds us like queens. We get a catered lunch every Wednesday, and then catered snacks that are pretty much a full meal at least twice a week. I don't know that I've packed more than a handful of lunches from home since I've started working there because there is always so. much. food. The other day our lunch was salmon, roasted cauliflower, asparagus, and potato wedges. It was AMAZING. 

And that bring us to this weekend, which we kicked off at our local brewery, St. Elmo Brewing Co. This place has the CUTEST outdoor space, and some really good beer that I don't absolutely hate, which is saying something. It was pretty packed, but we found a table outside and played Uno for awhile. Ali LOVES games. She's one of the most intense gamers I know. Not like video games, but actual games. 


SXSW



On Sunday, we decided to venture out to South by Southwest to see what all the fuss was about. All week, more and more people were descending on the downtown area. On my walk to work on Friday, I felt like I was in some alternate universe filled with hipsters wearing lanyards dressed totally inappropriately for the weather. The last couple of days have actually been pretty chilly, but that hasn't stopped some of the hardcore festival goers from acting like it's summer. I was so fed up with these types roaming the streets and making my commute to work more miserable than usual, that on Friday evening, a lanyard-wearing hipster ran straight into me while staring down at his phone, followed almost immediately by a large cockroach running straight into my shoe. I decided I'd rather be bumped into by the roach. I kid, sort of.

Sunday was cold, so it did keep some of the crowds at bay. I think this is the 'interactive' portion of the festival (whatever that means), and later this week and weekend is primarily the music portion. We didn't purchase a pass, partly because they're upwards of $1,500 and partly because we're not cool enough. 

We did wander around and collect free food and drinks, though! Here we are at the maple syrup party at PF Changs, where they gave out maple-flavored cotton candy, free drinks, and free maple-glazed donuts and chicken wings. It was a definite win, especially because lots of these events are badge-only, meaning we couldn't get in and could only gaze at all the free stuff from afar (I'm looking at you, Twitter and Pinterest parties). 

We avoided downtown and focused mainly on Rainey Street, which had some really cool setups, like this 'awesome' word art.
There is an app called Gro, devoted to gardening, that sponsored one of the food truck parks. If you downloaded their app, they'd give you a token worth $5 to spend at one of the trucks. Ali and I combined our tokens and split this ridiculously amazing macaroni and cheese sandwich at the Burro grilled cheese truck.

We also got avocado bowls from a cool ATM-like machine at the Avocado Mexico stand (food ATMs must be a thing right now), but I was too busy eating to take any actual pictures. We will definitely pick another day or two to roam around. It's kind of like a State Fair for tech and music companies, and there's definitely fun to be had even without a badge. Also, you can RSVP to events as they become available and then stand in line and try to get in. To be honest, it's all a little bit confusing and under the radar. There's not a published list, at least that I've seen, that lays out where and when things are happening. I think that's intentional, but also a bit bewildering for those of us who really have no idea what this whole thing is about. 

Oh, and no celebrity sightings yet. On Friday, Ali and I met outside of our buildings to walk around for a few minutes, and there was a lot going on at the Paramount Theatre right next door to us. After returning back to work, a few of my coworkers came running in all excited that they had just seen Ryan Gosling arriving at the theatre. Ali and I missed him by a matter of minutes, apparently. We'll keep creeping, and you'll definitely see a picture if we catch a glimpse of anyone famous. 

I'm working from home all week, because of the traffic and general madness downtown, so I'll probably have some time to post again this week! 


Monday, February 13, 2017

Weekending: Watching/Reading/Eating

We have pretty much officially made it through winter without ever turning on the heat. We came close a few days in early December when we were a bit shocked (bummed?) to learn it actually does get cold in Texas. Occasionally. After a few days of 30-40 degrees, it never quite 'wintered' again, and we've now been experiencing 70s and 80s earlier than usual. In fact, we've used the air conditioning more than once this month already. Hey, I'm not complaining! Generally, we've had amazing weather this winter, with most days in the 60s, which is really hard to complain about.

I haven't really taken many pictures lately, partially because I spend most of my waking hours at work these days, and partially because my phone is forever running out of space and I haven't taken the time to clear out old apps and photos. So, I thought I'd keep it short and recap our weekend/the week in terms of what we're watching/reading/eating.

Watching


I'm obsessed with the Bachelor this season, as always. I actually don't really like Nick very much. He redeemed himself a bit on Bachelor in Paradise last season, but being the best on BIP is sort of like being the best inmate in jail. The bar is super low. So, he's blah, but I do love the drama. Last week when Jasmine went on that rant about choking him? Weird, to say the least. And then the Corinne drama. I actually am Team Corinne. Sure, she's ridiculous but the other girls are mean to her and I somehow find her likeable, especially when she naps through rose ceremonies. Oh, and Nick clearly likes her so that's worth something. If you didn't know, Corinne was in a 2Chainz video circa 2011 and it's absolutely worth watching on repeat.

Reading


This is actually the only picture I've taken in the past few days. I'm reading this book, which I like so far. Between all of our moves in the last few years, we did a lot of getting rid of stuff, but it's kind of shocking how quickly it accumulates when you have the space. I need to start purging stuff again!


Eating


We discovered an AMAZING brunch place on Saturday morning that I can't believe we didn't find earlier. Kerbey Lane Cafe is an Austin chain that's open 24/7 and has all-day breakfast and $2 mimosas. It's sort of like Perkins, but classier. It's pretty much heaven. Again, I somehow didn't take a picture but trust me when I say it's the greatest place and anyone who visits us is probably going to go.

That's all for now!








Monday, January 30, 2017

What We've Been Up To

Turns out having a full-time job greatly reduces the amount of free time you have to both blog about life and to do blog-worthy activities. But I'm back! Here's what we've been up to lately:

Last weekend, some of Ali's college friends came down to visit for a long weekend. We had so much fun and got to show them our favorite Austin spots and explore some new ones as well. They arrived late on Thursday evening, and we immediately took them to Torchy's Tacos and devoured a bunch of queso. I've started just ordering one taco so I'm not too full to finish the queso, because it's pretty much the greatest. Seriously, there's guac mixed into the middle of it. On Friday, the girls drove up to Waco to experience all things Fixer Upper while Peter and I worked. We had BBQ and then went out on Rainey Street on Friday night and discovered a cool bar made out of shipping containers, where we stayed pretty much the whole night. Peter drove us around the whole weekend, which basically makes him a saint. At one point he endured a car full of (post-multiple-bars) girls yelling Taco Bells orders at him, so that's what he had to deal with ;).

On Saturday, we explored South Congress and stopped for a drink at Perla's, an oyster bar with a really cute nautical theme. It was nice and sunny when we got there, and then randomly started pouring on us an hour or so later. Typical Autin. None of us minded, though, because sitting outside in January is a luxury for us Minnesotans, with or without some rain.
On Saturday night we ventured to The Broken Spoke, which is a famous tourist destination for traditional country dancing. Unfortunately, there was a special event going on that evening and the cover was $12, which seemed a bit steep to us. While we were standing in the entryway trying to scope out our next move, we started talking to a couple who was originally from a small town outside the area who told us about another dance hall down the road called Dance Across Texas. We decided to give it a try, and it ended up being the highlight of the weekend. There were tons of people who actually knew how to two-step and a few really amazing dancers who were so fun to watch. I asked some of my coworkers how/why everyone knew how to dance so well, and apparently line dancing is taught in Texas schools. Of course it is.

We fumbled our way through most of the dances, but it was so fun and Ali and I have declared it our new weekend hang out. If you want to have an authentic Texas experience in Austin, and potentially learn how to dance from a legit cowboy (Ali did!) I would definitely head here.
 We had to take all of the traditional Austin pictures, of course:

We had tons of fun having visitors, and I just want to throw out the fact that it's currently 77 degrees, so if anyone else needs to escape the winter up north...we have a large couch and an air mattress!

Other than that, I've been adjusting to work life and finally finished training last Friday. I have Sundays and Mondays off, so tomorrow is my first day 'in the wild'. Ali started a new job last week, and happens to work across the street from me! So we had lunch together a few days last week, which was fun. She is working at Nordstrom for a few more Saturdays, so she hasn't had too much time off lately, to say the least. Peter is in Rochester, New York this week for work, so I'm predicting at least a few large bug sightings and probably some appliance breakdowns ;). Just kidding. But really, these things always seem to happen when he's out of town.

I am off to run some errands and make lunch, but now that I'm settled into a routine at work, I plan to blog a bit more frequently, so stay tuned for more riveting tales from my life.
Monday, January 16, 2017

Long Weekend

We have been enjoying a long weekend over here since both Peter and I had today off of work for MLK day. Speaking of work, I started my new job last week and I'm really liking it so far! It's kind of weird to be back working full time after taking a couple years off, but thankfully the adjustment hasn't been too difficult thus far. 

For those who don't know, I'm working at Stitch Fix in the downtown Austin office. I'm one week into three weeks of initial training and am especially loving the laid back atmosphere of the office. There are snacks and drinks everywhere, multiple kitchens, and lots of couches and alternative work spaces for when the desk life becomes a bit too monotonous. I think I'm really going to enjoy it and I'm eager to dive in post-training and get into a routine. Finally! 

Oh, and this is the view of the Capitol from the terrace at my office building. Not too shabby...

We have continued to get out and explore everything Austin has to offer- especially the food/drink scene. There's a new office park/condo development/retail space going in down the street from us, and so far the only thing that's opened is the St. Elmo Brewing Company. We headed over last weekend to check it out and really liked it! There were games at every table and a cute little outdoor area under strings of lights, with a fire and a few chairs with blankets in the back. It was a bit too chilly to sit outside the night we were there, but we all agreed we wanted to head back when it warmed up a bit and hang out by the fire. 

Prior to checking out the new brewery, we ate pizza at another new restaurant in our neighborhood, Aviator Pizza, that just opened a few weeks ago. We've driven by this particular retail space a million times, since it's on our way to the grocery store and Target, and have kept tabs on what's taking up residence. There's a place called Super Donut that we've been essentially stalking but sadly there has been little to no progress since October, so we're kind of assuming the project ran out of money. Probably for the best anyway. A donut shop within walking distance sounds like trouble. Especially because I would drive there approximately 100% of the time.
The South Congress Cafe has also been on our radar since we moved here, so we finally had brunch there last weekend. We all really liked it, and the mid-morning mimosas didn't hurt either! 
We've done a pretty good job so far this year hitting some of our 'Austin bucket list' destinations and continued the trend on Friday night at TopGolf, a national chain that is best described as bowling, but golf. Plus food and drinks. If you live near one of these, I highly recommend it! It's something different than the usual bar or restaurant and isn't too expensive if you've got a group of five or six.

Peter was, of course, the best of our group, and the rest of us had fun but decided not to quit our day jobs ;). Our friend Esther came close to decapitating the guy in the bay next to ours. Whoops.


Speaking of cool business concepts...last night we decided to celebrate the long weekend by roasting marshmallows on our own personal flame at a cute little coffee shop downtown called Halcyon. A few different people have told us about their infamous S'mores dessert, so we (along with a billion other people) decided to give it a try. We waited for what seemed like forever for our tray to arrive, so finally Peter went up to the counter to figure out what was going on. Turns out, they forgot about us so they apologized and took the whole S'mores order off of our tab. Score!
Does anyone else like their marshmallows burned to a crisp, or is it just me?! 

And that about sums up last weekend and this weekend's activities. Wednesday is my birthday and Ali has several friends coming to visit starting on Thursday so I'm expecting an eventful week!

About


Welcome! I started Laura and Peter Down Under in July 2014 when my husband and I moved from the States to Melbourne, Australia for his job. I blog about expat life, our travels, food, and whatever else comes to mind. Follow along on our adventures Down Under!

Follow

Subscribe

Instagram

Search This Blog

Popular Posts

Pageviews

Awards

Powered by Blogger.

Contact

Name

Email *

Message *