Saturday, October 22, 2016

San Diego

Two weekends ago, after unpacking and settling in as much as possible in Austin, Peter and I headed off to San Diego to attend his grandpa's wedding. It was a really quick trip, but neither of us had ever been there before, so we made sure to check out a few sights. In  hindsight, I wish we would have brought our real camera (aka not my iPhone), but it was packed away somewhere and that was pretty much the last thing on my mind after the move! 

We arrived on Friday afternoon and went straight to check out Torrey Pines Golf Course. Peter loves to golf (I can't for the life of me hit the ball off the tee) so he wanted to look around and grab a souvenir in the gift shop. He picked up a bag tag, which Ali saw sitting around the apartment the other day and thought was a large metal bracelet. Shows how much we know about golf, I guess!
Afterward, we checked into our hotel and then walked around downtown La Jolla, which is pretty much the cutest little city ever. Being by the water with the beautiful cliffs in view reminded us a lot of Australia and how much we miss it!
The weather was perfect the whole time we were there, which apparently is pretty typical of San Diego.

This beach had a big colony (pack? herd? IDK?) of seals living on it. They were super cute but smelled horrendous. There were people swimming with them, despite signs that warned of high bacteria levels, which was pretty repulsive. People will do anything for a good selfie, I guess. 
I wasn't sure how close you could get to the seals without being attacked, or whatever seals do, so we kept our distance. They looked nice and friendly but then a few started fighting pretty aggressively, so I decided to keep my distance. Plus, some of them were massive. Like, monster seals. Another reason not the wade into the bacteria-infested waters, if you ask me.
We got a drink at this cute rooftop bar and watched an amazing sunset before dinner. The weather, the sunset, and the scenery were all pretty idyllic.
The wedding took place on Saturday morning and was held at the beautiful Melrose Ranch in Escondido. The weather was perfect, of course, but you could definitely feel the difference in temperature between the coast and inland. We were pretty warm by noon. 
I took a picture of the ceremony, which was attended by about 15 immediate family members. It was such a nice service, and Peter's grandpa Ed and his new wife Jean looked great!
We took a few pictures after the service and then had some brunch before exploring the ranch a bit. 
There were a couple rescue donkeys on the ranch and they came right over to us when called. So cute! This place got me dreaming of the farm I'd love to own someday, which Peter isn't exactly on board with....yet! He's convinced I would play with the animals and he would get stuck doing all the non-fun barn chores. This is probably true.
We drove up one of the hills and got a great view of the ranch. It was pretty much the perfect venue for a fall wedding, complete with a large renovated barn (for weddings and other events) that I didn't take a photo of apparently.
On Saturday evening we stayed in San Diego and got a chance to explore the downtown area. We had an awesome Italian dinner in the Little Italy neighborhood followed by gelato, of course.
I had a 6 am flight to catch Sunday morning, so it was a fairly quick trip, but Peter and I definitely enjoyed our first visit to the San Diego area. 

For the first time in years, we don't have a trip on the calendar. We're focusing on getting settled in Austin at the moment, but we do plan to take some weekend trips in the coming months, so stay tuned!
Friday, October 21, 2016

Tacos and Ice Cream

In the short time we've been in Austin we've gotten a chance to check out the local food scene a bit. This is pretty much the most important part of any city, right? So far, we've pretty much focused on tacos and desserts. Obviously.


Okay, Torchy's Tacos is the greatest restaurant ever in the history of the world. I'm not kidding. There are a million different tacos to pick from and they're all soooo good. Plus, they're huge and you can kind of customize how spicy you want to make them. Side note: coming from the North, I think we have a different concept of "spicy" because I typically order mild but even that here is pretty hot. Ali accidentally ordered a taco with "diablo sauce" and pretty much had a heart attack.

There are a bunch of Torchy's locations, each with a different style/atmosphere, and I have a personal goal to visit every one of them.
We headed to Snooze on Sunday morning for brunch, and I ordered these breakfast tacos. I asked for the spice on the side, which was a good move. Snooze is actually a Denver-based chain and it's extremely popular. We woke up early and got there before 9 am just so we didn't have to wait in line. When my mom, Ali and I were in Austin over Labor Day weekend visiting, we tried to eat a late brunch at Snooze and ended up going elsewhere because the wait was almost two hours. 



Ali got pancakes at Snooze, which pretty much count as dessert ;). You can order three different flavors, so she got one chocolate chip, one cinnamon roll, and one blueberry danish. They were equally amazing. 

There's a cute little food truck area in the South Congress neighborhood not far from where we live, so we decided to try out Hey Cupcake! and all agreed they were some of the best we had ever had. P.S. they aren't kidding about the traffic being TERRIBLE in Austin. We live about two miles from this area, and it took exactly six minutes when we went after dinner the other day when there was little traffic. But, during the day it takes a good 15 minutes to get there. We've driven around at 2 pm and encountered rush hour level traffic that you'd expect in a much bigger city. Pretty much, we just avoid 35 altogether if possible.
The other night while Peter was out of town, Ali and I heard about free scoop night at Lick ice cream. Parking was a bit of a struggle, but the free (and really good) ice cream made it worth it. Plus, Lick gets all its milk products from a small family farm in Texas, which is really cool. 
Lastly, we went for a drink the other night at a coffeehouse nearby and I spotted this Minneapolis-based coffee for sale! Kind of random, but fun to see something from home.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Hello From Austin!

We're settling into life in Austin, so I thought I'd share a few pictures and a little update. We arrived last Monday and spent the week feverishly unpacking before departing again on Friday for a wedding in San Diego (more on that later). We barely left the apartment all week and when we did it was to grab household items we forgot/needed at Walmart. Sidenote: I think I've found the most bizarre Walmart on the's right here in Austin! I thought nothing could beat the Branson Walmart, but this is definitely a contender. Over the course of our multiple trips last week I saw three people carrying dogs through the grocery section (since when is this socially acceptable?), someone in the parking lot tried to sell us drugs, and we saw a semi-nude child riding in a cart. Luckily, we discovered the sole Super Target in Austin near our house and have been sticking to that ever since. 

So, we arrived Monday and checked into the leasing office to get our keys and parking pass (for the car we don't yet have). This is the cute little communal coffee bar across from the offices. 

And here is the common living area, where you can hang out, watch TV, or work.
Our apartment complex has two buildings: the first was completed earlier this year and is full, and then the second is still under construction. We are some of the first tenants in the second building, pictured below, and when we arrived there were only two other cars in the parking garage. Since the building is still under construction, our amenities won't be finished until early December, so we have to trek to the other building down the street for the pool and gym until then. A bit annoying, but we got a great deal on our rent, including the first two months free, so we can't complain too much!
And now for a few pictures of our actual's the kitchen.
And a wider view of the kitchen from the living room area. Excuse the dirty I said, there's still a bunch of construction going on so the hallways are a bit dusty!
The living room:
I snapped (If you want to see additional fascinating content follow me! My username is laurahinderaker) this picture, and the sentiment remains true. It's still in the 90s here in Austin and there's no sign of it cooling down anytime soon. Any Texans reading...does it ever cool off?!
I spent the better part of one day last week assembling this IKEA TV stand. I have a serious love/hate relationship with IKEA. Mostly hate. We've moved around a lot, which has translated into a lot of IKEA furniture building and I'm sort of over it. If I never have to put together another LACK or MALM item, I'll be extremely happy. Once I finished this stand, I went to attach the back panel and realized I was missing a few pieces. At least, I thought I was. IKEA directions are the most confusing/least helpful thing ever. So, Ali and I went back to IKEA yesterday and tried to get the missing pieces. I felt like a complete idiot when the guy informed me that the piece I thought I needed more of was actually just supposed to be one piece that was basically a tool that I thought was a legitimate part. Awkward. So, today I'm going to tackle the rest of it.
After our weekend in San Diego, I flew back to Minneapolis to make the drive down to Austin with our roommate, aka my sister Ali! She stayed to work an extra week at her job before moving down, so her room has been used as a pseudo storage area until now. We took two days to drive down, which wasn't so bad given that we could switch off driving every few hours. We got to see a lot of sights between Minneapolis and Austin...aka fields and not much else ;). We've now got the basics set up and are settling in nicely. I'll post some more pictures when we have everything finished! 
Thursday, September 29, 2016

Austin Visit/ Fixer Upper Pilgrimage

As I revealed in my last post, we're officially moving to Austin, Texas on Monday!

In preparation for our move, I visited with my mom and Ali (who is also moving!) on Labor Day weekend to tour the city and scout some apartments. Neither Peter nor I have really been to Austin before, minus a quick drive through for me on a classy spring break trip to South Padre in college. We loved the city and the visit pretty much solidified our hunch that Austin was the right place for us to go. The only downside of our visit was the fact that it was still about ten million degrees in Texas, and our hotel's air conditioning broke one night. Needless to say, it was a really, really uncomfortable night of sleep! Other than that, we enjoyed our trip and can't wait to explore Austin some more starting next week. If anyone lives in/has been to Austin and has some recommendations for things to do/see/eat, let me know :). 

There's a Man V. Food episode in Austin that features Round Rock Donuts, so we obviously had to go. Unfortunately, we got there a few minutes after the cafe part closed, but we were still able to drive through. The line was about 20 cars long, but it was worth the wait! We'll definitely be back to this gem. 
Another restaurant featured on the episode was Salt Lick BBQ, about 30 minutes southwest of Austin. This place did not disappoint! The BBQ was amazing, as was the entire restaurant, which consisted of about 4 buildings. Below is the outdoor waiting area, where you can BYOB while you wait to be seated. The line seems to be pretty long at all hours of the day, so this area is probably a lifesaver on busy weekends when I can imagine the wait would exceed an hour.
They had freshly-squeezed lemonade for sale, which was a genius idea given the scorching heat. I can't imagine how much money they rake in on the lemonade sales alone.
I ordered this GIGANTIC pulled pork sandwich. I could only eat about half of it, which was annoying because it was amazing.
 The barbecue pit. I think there were two or three of these spread throughout the restaurant.

Waco Day Trip

Everyone and their mother is watching Fixer Upper on HGTV these days, so we had to make the trip down to Waco while we were so close! It took us about an hour straight down 35, so it was an easy day trip from Austin. We went directly to the silos, where there's a cute bakery, food trucks, and this warehouse full of Joanna-inspired merchandise. I could have purchased everything in this place.
My mom, me, and Ali outside the Magnolia store. It was HOT on this day and we pretty much melted, but it was worth it! I think being hot is going to be the theme of our lives very shortly.
Ali with this super-Instagrammable sign. 
 The silos!
We then drove around Waco obsessively trying to locate houses that had been featured on the show. First of all, Waco is pretty small and there's really not a lot there except Baylor. Secondly, we were only able to find one of the houses, but it was my favorite they've done- the shotgun house!!
We then creepily tried to find Chip and Joanna's house (unsuccessfully) and headed back to Austin. We rested up for a few minutes at the hotel and then drove out to Lake Travis for dinner. The lake is more of what we Minnesotans would consider a river, but I suppose in a state without 10,000 lakes you take what you can get. It's really pretty and was a great place to watch the sunset.
 Lastly, a bit of street art!

We found an apartment on the south side of town and can't wait to get moved in this next week! More pictures to follow, I'm sure.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What We've Been Up To And Where We're Moving

After a bit of a blogging break, I'm back!

We've been in Minneapolis for about five and a half weeks now and have been fitting in tons of fun activities with family and friends. Our time in Minneapolis is winding down, but I thought I'd summarize some of the highlights.

Lake Vermilion

We spent a few days on Lake Vermilion in northern Minnesota with my family immediately after arriving back in the States. We stayed at Ludlow's Island Resort, an old favorite that I hadn't been to since the summer before college, I think. It was a quick trip, but fun to hang out with family at the lake. 

Our cabin for the long weekend:
My youngest sister Kathryn had a few friends come up for the first couple days of our trip. They (along with Peter) tried stand-up paddle boarding, which looked entirely too difficult/risky to me. My other sister, Ali, and I took out one of the paddle boats and followed them instead.
Best part of the weekend? Spending time with my adorable niece, Hadley.
Each time we head up to Lake Vermilion we rent one of the resort's pontoon boats for a few hours and make our way across the lake to have dinner. The trip is always fun and sometimes eventful- one year we ran out of gas during a thunderstorm and had to be rescued. Based on this information, you may assume we aren't great boaters, which is absolutely correct. 
 We caught an amazing sunset on the way back from dinner and thankfully had our nice camera out to capture it.

Minnesota State Fair

I could do an entire post on the ridiculous amount of food I consumed at this year's state fair, but I'll spare you and just post a few photos. Let me just say: you haven't lived until you've been to the Minnesota State Fair.

Deep fried macaroni and cheese on a stick. Amazing. 
 Cheese curds, which would be utterly disgusting in any other setting but somehow taste fabulous at the fair.
 Sweet Martha's Cookies.
This one's a little blurry, but chocolate covered key lime pie on a stick. Yes, that's a thing. 

Family, Etc.

My mom and I met my grandparents for lunch in the town where I attended college. It was so fun to see them, and also to drive around campus and reminisce a bit. 
The Six Pack, where I lived my junior and senior years of college with six other girls. Last I heard, the house had been condemned and was set to be torn down, but #stillstanding. Apparently, there was black mold in the basement or something, which is entirely believable and a bit unsettling.
 One of the greatest places on Earth.
 And finally, our moving truck all packed and ready to go! We're moving on Monday.

Where is it going, you ask?


And the best part? We somehow convinced my sister Ali to move with us, so it's basically going to be a giant party. More details on that later...

I think I'm going to keep blogging about random insignificant details of my life, but I might need to change the name of my blog since we're not exactly Down Under (although, Texas is technically down and under Minnesota). So, suggestions for a new name welcome ;). It remains to be seen if anything interesting enough to actually write about happens now that we've moved our lives back Stateside. Time will tell!


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!




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