Friday, February 26, 2010

Ode to Amsterdam

I just accidentally erased my post about Amsterdam and I am not happy. I was almost done and had been working on it for an hour! GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. So, like it or not, this may not be as good as I was. I guess no one will really know the difference, but I will. It was good. And it was witty. Probably the best post I have ever written, but now you will never know.

So, this is what you are going to get. I am so mad at my clipboard right now. But mostly because It was totally my fault. GRRRRRRRRRRRRR again.

Many of you, well probably all of you know that Dane and I decided to skip town this weekend and hop on a direct flight to Amsterdam from Houston. Why Amsterdam you may ask? Well, it was pretty much the only place that was wide open, we knew we could get back, it is a small enough town we thought we could see it in a day, and we had been dying to try our hands at first class. We had not really planned on going anywhere last weekend and so much like our trip to Boston, it was very last minute.

We got onto a flight out of IAH about 3:00 pm, flew 10 hours and arrived in Holland about 8:00 am. We made our way by train and then tram to our hotel, resisted the bed and headed out to see the city and make the most of our time there. After all, we would be jumping back onto the same flight to head home in 26 hours. So if you do the math it is easy to see that almost half of our trip was on the plane. This may sound awful, but looking back this may have been the highlight. First class is sweet!

We came to enjoy it all. Everything from the pillows and blankets, to the personalized TV's in our armrests, to the wide cushy seats--complete with footrests--that reclineback farther than I thought possible on an airplane.

Would you like a newspaper publication? Yes please! Let's see, how are the Winter Olympics going in Vancouver?

Please select your main course from this amazing menu while enjoying some warmed nuts. Oh, and just in case you don't read English, it is also in Dutch.

Warm dinner rolls and appetizers: coconut chicken with a mango chutney, vegetable spring roll and (not pictured below because this is what Dane had) a warm lobster bisque. Also not pictured below, an amazing salad. Notice the indavidualized butter and salt 'n pepper shakers, so cute!

Dane's dinner: some mustard, bbq chicken thing that was way good with grilled veggies and rice.

My dinner: mushroom ravioli bowl with veggies and a cream sauce. And yes, that is a pretzel roll!

And just in case you aren't already stuffed, the flight attendants brought around a cart of assorted cheeses, European crackers and grapes. And last but not least, ice cream sundaes!

When I woke up, it was time for breakfast. Yum, right? I was still way full from dinner and not really ready to eat, but I knew it would be good and we figured that the more we ate on the plane we would not have to eat in Amsterdam. Breakfast was just as good and beautiful as dinner, but sorry, no good pics.

So, about Amsterdam:
I had been to this town before under similar circumstances a few years ago with my parents. I think we had a 17 or 18 hour layover. So with my parents we had seen a little bit of the city. Dane's sister also visited the Netherlands last year at this same time, so we had a few ideas of things that we wanted to see before jumping on the plane. I did a little research and needless to say found a lot more things to do than we had time.

The weather was forecast to be about 3o degrees with a good chance of snow. Ikk. But we went anyway, and in fact it was quite nice. There was a little wind, but actually ended up being a little sunny, so that made the cold a little more bearable.

Our hotel was just a short walk from a lot of great sites. Our first stop, the Rijksmuseum. We didn't actually go in because we didn't want to get warn out on art all day, but took a picture instead. This museum is on of the most famous in Holland and houses many famous works by Rembrandt and Vermeer.

We did go into the Van Gogh Museum, however. It was lovely, and fun to give Dane a little lesson on the beginning movements of modern art. Here we are in the gift shop after because we couldn't take pictures inside the museum. Can you tell I am trying to look not tired? he he.

Next we went to go see the "Anne Frank House". This is the appartment that has the annex where she and her family hid for two years during WWII. Unfortunately by the time we got there, the line had wrapped around the building and was about 2 blocks long. There was no way that we were going to stand in line for who knows how long in the cold. So, we just took a picture in front of the building. (sorry it's so over exposed...)

We stopped in at a little cafe next to the Anne Frank house to get warm and share a hot cocoa and a chocolate croissant. You know we couldn't have gone to Europe without eating one of these :).

Walking along the canals. The sun came out and I just had to capture the way it bounced off of the buildings here.

Amsterdam would not be Amsterdam without the canals. It is so beautiful. We walked around the for a while longer, debated renting bikes but opted to go on a canal tour. It was warm, and nice to have somewhere to sit.

Here are a couple shots we took from the canal tour:

This mobile-home-looking thing is just that--but the Dutch version. I think on the tour they said there were over 2500 of these homes that just float along the edges of the canals. Talk about a water bed :).

Oh, yeah, and I took this picture too. Poor Dane he was so tired.

Again, us trying not to look tired :).

This is a parking garage near Centraal Station just for bikes. Can you see them all packed in there? There has got to be thousands of them in there.

So, in spite of being tired, we had an amazing trip! It was a ton fun, and definitely worth it. We have finally recovered from the loss of sleep, and I guess time will tell where we go next.

Louis waving goodbye to Amsterdam on the train back to the airport. He had a great time too. For some reason, lobsters don't experience jet lag the same way we do.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Visitors for Valentine's!!

I am going to keep this short because it has basically already been said. But we had a great weekend this last Valentine's. Dane's parents were so great to come and visit and bring some traditions with them. (And they have already posted about it with all the pictures here.) Each year while Dane was growing up, his mom made sugar cookies for each of the kids. Now, these weren't just ordinary sugar cookies, they apparently were towers of cookies. Like these:

She and I made some to surprise Dane on Friday, but of course, he found them on Saturday. I think it is a tradition I would love to continue.

So about the rest of the weekend. Dane's dad served his mission in the San Antonio/Houston area and so we spent some time on Saturday driving around to some towns that he served in, New Braunfels and even made it to San Antonio to see the temple and the Alamo.

Check out the link above to hear more and see more pictures!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Last Friday, Dane gave me a call at about 10:30 a.m. from his training and told me that he had finished way early and was on his way home. Then he asked if I wanted to go to Boston. "What? Of course I want to." I replied. "When?"
"Right now. We can make it on a flight at one o'clock today."
Quickly, I was doing the math in my head....leave at one, be at the airport by noon, leave home no later than 11:30. That's in an hour.
"Sounds great!" I gave him my sister-in-law, Aubrey's phone number so that he could make sure it was ok with them for us to come crash their weekend, and jumped in the shower. I had an hour to shower, clean and pack.

My brother, Stuart, and his wife live outside Boston in Cambridge. It is a beautiful city, rich with history, culture, and architecture. It was the first time for both Dane and I to this town, and we know it will definitely not be our last.

So, here are all the pictures:
This is Dane and I in front of Fenual hall
This is the old state house. This is where the Declaration of Independence was read for the first time to the people in Boston from that little beige balcony. So cool. And, I may be mixing this up, but the Boston Masacre happened right on that little spot in front of the building. (This used to be one of the biggest buildings in the city. Now look how small it is!)

This is a small view of Boston Commons (kind of like the Central Park of Boston). This place is old--it's where the Red Coats camped out during the Revolution when they were taking siege of the city. Through the trees you can barely see a building with a gold dome. This is the State House.

I can't remember what this is. Sorry. Aubrey can you help us out? I think it is a church.

We also visited a grave yard downtown as saw some pretty famous headstones. This is the grave of Paul Revere. I did a report on him in 7th grade. So, I feel a connection to him and his night ride.

This is a monument built over the grave of John Hancock. I think it is a little comical how well known this guy is for nothing other than his signature. I am sure he did some other cool stuff because you would have to to be one of the ones who got to sign the Declaration of Independence, but who knows what else he did. I wonder if he had any idea how his name would go down in history...

This is the graveyard. That big monument on the right says "Franklin" on it. This is where Benjamin Franklin's parents are buried.

It doesn't really look it, but it was COLD! The wind was blowing and it was very overcast. This is how Stuart and Charlotte kept warm.

Ok, so now for the food. It was way good. For lunch we had Japanese/Tai. Below are the gyoza that we devoured before I enjoyed my sushi.

And this is Small Plates. Honestly the-best-food-I-think-that-I-have-ever-eaten. It is a Spanish style restaurant where you order tapas instead of entrees. (See the attached wiki article for an explanation.) We ordered a number of exquisite dishes and shared them around the table. We had eaten over half before we remembered to take pictures. AND these pictures do not give the food justice. Honestly, I would go back to Cambridge just for this place. Lovely food. Lovely environment. Lovely company.

This is a squash linguine veggi dish.

Gnocchi. (potato pasta)

Cowboy steak. Sirloin cubes in an amazing Tabasco flavored sauce with blu cheese on top of polenta. This one was soooooooo good.

After, we went to a chocolate shop to indulge in the most rich and splendid hot chocolate of my life. This little thing was 2 bucks! The price made us skepticle, but it was very good.

We got lucky on Sunday with our flight. There was enough room on the later one and so we had time to go to church with the Laytons. They met in a charming old factory that is being rented out by the church until their stake center is done being built. As we rushed into Sacrament Meeting, low and behold who ran up to say hi? Brittany and Wyatt! What a small world. Wyatt had an interview for dental school at Tufts University so they deiced to make a weekend out of it. It was really great to be able to catch up with them.

Bye Bye Boston! We will miss you, but we will be back! (Waving goodbye on the jetway with Louis II, our newest finger puppet. If you want to know who Louis I was, ask Leslie Ann.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


What do I love about March? Girl scouts. Actually, just their cookies. It always seems like there are never enough Samoas in the world. Luckily I figured out how to servive the rest of the year. I have never really been one to post a lot of recipes on my blog, but just wanted to let the wide open world out there know I have discovered a treasure. They take a little bit of time, but that is exactlly what I have these days.

Home made samoa bars.

I got the recipe here.
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