Monday, October 6, 2014


Back in September Petey and I decided to take advantage of the long Labor Day weekend and head to Louisiana. New Orleans is only a 5.5 hour drive from Houston and we had both been wanting to go for a while. Petey had that Friday off of work, which made this trip even better!

Our first day we drove to Baton Rouge and stayed the night. We visited Louisiana State University's campus. LSU's campus is GORGEOUS! Old brick buildings surrounded by giant trees covered in Spanish moss. I never knew how pretty and green Louisiana was until we got there. While on LSU's campus we stopped by their gigantic and impressive football stadium and then visited their mascot Mike, the tiger. Mike's habitat is amazing! Unfortunately Mike was sleeping when we visited him, but I still loved it :) We ate dinner at a yummy pizzeria and then explored Baton Rouge some more. We stopped by the Baton Rouge LDS Temple so I could get some pictures. It is gorgeous! Then we drove around and stopped when we saw something cool. We stopped outside of a pretty church so I could get some photos, the Louisiana State Capital Building, and then looked at old Governor's Mansion.
Driving through the Atchafalaya Basin

This stadium holds 102,321 people. It is the 6th largest
football stadium in the NCAA. 
Sleepy Mike!

Baton Rouge LDS Temple
Pretty Church
On Saturday morning we drove from Baton Rouge to White Castle, LA where we visited the Nottoway Plantation. When I started doing research of what to do in Louisiana I came across so many beautiful plantations. I chose this one because I think it is breathtaking, but we will defiantly visit more plantations next time we head that way! The Nottoway Plantation is gorgeous!! I was hoping that the weatherman would be wrong and that it wouldn't rain, but boy was I wrong. We arrived for our tour early and I was able to take some pictures around the plantation grounds before the torrential downpour hit. Our tour was about 90 minutes and very educational! Here is some history about the plantation:

The Nottoway Plantation was completed in 1859 for an estimated $80,000 for the Randolph family. It is 53,000 square ft, and has 64 rooms, 165 doors, and 200 windows. The ceilings are 15 1/2 ft high and the doors are 11 ft tall. The owner Mr. Randolph, had a teacher teach the slaves working for him how to read and write, which was illegal at the time. No slaves were ever killed at the Nottoway Plantation. Today, the Nottoway Plantation is worth $63,000,000! It is registered on the National Register for Historic Places, and now serves as a museum and hotel. There is also a Randolph family cemetery on the grounds. I loved the tour and thought it was very interesting. I think Petey liked it, but visiting the plantation was more my desire than his :)

The craftsmanship in the woodwork is stunning! 
The famous White Ballroom

The original bed in the master bedroom. 

After our tour we headed to New Orleans. Once we were settled into our hotel we wanted to go and explore since it had stopped raining. We drove around for a little bit and stopped at a park so I could get some pictures of the beautiful trees covered in Spanish moss. They are so magical looking, I love them! Then we headed to the world famous Bourbon Street....WOW! We had heard that Bourbon Street was worse than the Las Vegas strip,but I was still pretty shocked. All of the buildings are really cool but it's funny that there can be a gourmet fancy pants restaurant and then 2 doors down there is a strip club with the strippers literally hanging out in the doorway. I think Petey and I were the only 2 people walking around Bourbon Street that were not W-A-S-T-E-D! We walked around the French Quarter and got some pictures in front of the St. Lewis Cathedral. We had heard from numerous people that we had to go to Cafe De Monde and try their beignets. We did and they did not disappoint! Since it had been raining earlier in the day the weather was really pleasant! Seeing the old buildings with all of the French flare was my favorite part of the Bourbon St./French Quarter area. There are tons of museums in N.O., but they have weird hours and Petey and I never had time to go to them. Kind of a bummer!

Bourbon Street

St. Lewis Cathedral 
I got into the Mardi Gras spirit
Yummy beignets!

One of my favorite things about New Orleans
is all of the color!!
The USU Aggies played their first football game of the season this night, so we headed to a Buffalo Wild Wings to watch. They were getting killed so we didn't stay to watch the whole game. It was sad.

On Sunday we had to get up super early so we could go on a Honey Island Swamp Tour.It was awesome!!! I would do it 100 more times! It was so much fun! We saw around 13 alligators, countless turtles, a blue heron, and an osprey. Our tour guide was really fun and had tons of information about the animals and the swamp. We loved when our guide would 'hit the gas' during the straight stretches of the swamp. We got going fast! My hair was blowing all over the place. Whenever we saw an alligator our guide would throw marshmallows in the water and put hot dogs on a long stick into the water to lure the alligators to come close to the boat. The alligators were not afraid of boat or of us at all! And they really like marshmallows and hot dogs :) It was kind of crazy to see all of the little camps on the swamp where New Orleans residents spend their weekends to catch catfish, shrimp, and crawfish, among other things. The swamp tour was probably my favorite part of our trip!
Ready for our swamp tour!
The first alligator we saw. All of us
 on the  tour were really excited!
So pretty!
Love my hubby!

Our guide referred to this BIG BOY as Grendal!
The guide estimated he was 13-14 feet long. 
When our guide was hitting the gas. I'm
glad that I had a ponytail to (kind of)
control my hair!

Mmmmm marshmallows!
After our tour was over we visited the Metairie Cemetery. Everywhere I read about what to do in New Orleans, it suggested we visit a cemetery. Due to the high water table the deceased have to be buried above ground in crypts. Some of them are beautiful and giant mausoleums. I could've walked around for hours but the 100 degree heat was too much! The Metairie Cemetery is 142 years old. There are 9 Louisiana Governors, 10 New Orleans Mayors, and the famous singer, Louis Prima buried here.

After walking around the cemetery we went and got some food and then headed to the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden. It's a free little garden that has multiple sculptures. Petey and I enjoyed walking around... and we enjoyed the FREE part :)

We then headed to the Garden District. When Petey told me that he wanted to take me there I thought it was just a section of town with a lot of flowers, but I was SO wrong! Haha. The Garden District is actually an older high-end neighborhood full of colorful and beautiful homes. I could've walked around for hours, but it was sooooo hot! We even stumbled upon some famous homes in the Garden District.
This house was used for the movie, 'The
Curious Case of Benjamin Button'.

I want this house!

While walking around Petey was on his phone
trying to figure out if anyone famous lived
in the area. We found out that Sandra Bulllock
lived in the Garden District. We walked around
for a while trying to find it, with no luck. When we
were heading back to our car (because once
again it was SO HOT), we looked at the house
we had parked in front of and it was in fact
Sandra Bullock's house! Notice the extremely
high bushes. Apparently Brad Pitt and
Angelina Jolie own a home in the area too,
but we couldn't' find it.

After sweating multiple pounds off in the heat headed to the famous Creole Creamery. It was much needed and so so so yummy! We headed back to Houston on Monday morning. Our trip was so fun but not long enough! There are still plenty of things we want to still do in New Orleans, so we will be back!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Home Sweet Home

I got back to Houston last Monday. I honestly can't believe how fast my time in Utah went by! I missed my husband like crazy, but I wouldn't change the time I spent at home! I'm so grateful that I was able to go home for a month. It was really good for my soul. I was super busy during my month long stay and I accomplished pretty much everything on my Utah bucket list. Here is a summary of my trip, complete with wayyyyy too many photos. Enjoy!

I flew home on July 11. My parents picked me up at the airport and the first thing I made them do for me was stop at In-N-Out. Man, I have missed that place like crazy! I ate In-N-Out every once in a while in Utah, but now that I live somewhere that doesn't have one I crave it ALL the time. The next day I headed to Park City where I played with my lovely friends Tayler and Brooke. We ate dinner on Main Street, got some treats at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, and then stayed up talking and laughing. The next day we shopped at the outlets and then rode the ski lift to the top of Park City Mountain Resort. It was absolutely beautiful! We had such a great time together.

On July 16 I was able to attend Wicked at Capital Theatre in SLC with my mom, 3 aunts, 6 cousins, and a bonus mom. I saw Wicked when I was 18 during high school choir tour. We had driven all night to California and I had little-to-no sleep. I was so tired and loopy during the show that I didn't remember much, so I was so so SOOOOO excited to see it again! My mom and I met up with everyone at The Cheesecake Factory where we ate before we headed over to the show. I took way too many pictures with the Wicked signs, but hey I had a good time :) Our seats for the show were awesome!! Wicked was absolutely incredible!! The singing and acting was phenomenal and the show is really funny. I had forgotten a lot about the show so it was like I was watching it for the first time all over again. There is something HUGE that happens at the very end that I had totally forgot about after my first time seeing it. It is safe to say that my entire family and I had an amazing time!!

Our group! 

July 18-20 we had our Saunders family reunion in Green River. It was horrendously hot! Two of the days we were there the high was 102. We all had a great time enjoying each others company and playing games. Most of the guys golfed in the hot weather. All of us women thought they were crazy. My dad golfed 72 holes in a little over 24 hours. Crazy!! During the hottest hours the kids played in the water and had snow cones. We had a great and sweaty time! Haha. I wish we would've gotten a photo of all of us together, but we didn't :( I didn't get a photo of my uncle Alan and his family either. Oh well!

Cute cousins Olivia and Ashlyn

My sweet nephew. What a ham!

July 21 I was supposed to go to Bear Lake to meet up with Brooke and Tayler again, but my car had a different idea. I was driving my dad's car and after a slow down on the freeway it started to make this crazy rattling sound that was scaring me. After talking to my dad he told me to go and take it in to the nearest shop because it didn't sound good. The nice mechanic looked at my car and fixed it (it was a minor issue) and he did it all for free! By that point Brooke and Tayler were heading down to Riverdale to meet me and we had cancelled Bear Lake. That was a bummer! Tay and Brooke met me and we went out to lunch and then headed to Beyond Glaze Doughnuts for a tasty treat. My friend served these doughnuts at her wedding years ago and I had been craving them ever since. They are so pretty and taste even better! 
How beautiful!
 July 24-26 my parents and I headed to my great grandpas cabin up Weber Canyon. It is truly one of my favorite places on the planet. It is so beautiful and there is always other family members at the cabin that make our trips even more enjoyable. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery, yummy food including foil dinners and s'mores (everyday...), and good company. There had been a bear sighting near our campground so I was a little freaked out at night when we sat around the fire, but we all survived :) Going to the cabin will always remind me of my grandparents and I have such fond memories there. I can't wait to make even more  memories over the years! 

On the 29th I went to the new Living Planet Aquarium with my friends Bailey and Brooke. Going to the new and improved aquarium was on my list and I'm glad I got to go with such great friends! We had a good time. I loved the penguins :) After the aquarium we went into SLC and got some delicious gelato and macaroons at Dolcetti Gelato. We like our dessert before our dinner! After our treat we drove around The Avenues and picked out our favorite houses before heading to dinner at Red Rock Brewery. I have such great friends and I'm so glad we have stayed close! I love my ladies! 

August 1 my mom headed down to Price where I was able to meet up with my oldest and dearest friend Kyrie! I hadn't seen her since my wedding day over 3 years ago! She is such a beautiful person inside and out and I'm so glad that we've stayed in touch over the years! My mom and I were able to meet up with Kyrie, her husband Daniel, and her mom Kim. We had a lovely time catching up and reminiscing about old times.  I am so glad that I was able to see her while I was home! We will be friends forever! 

August 2 my parents and I drove up to Sundance to hike Stewart Falls. We rode the ski lift up the mountain, which was breathtaking, and then we hiked down to the falls. It was a gorgeous day!! Stewart Falls is beautiful and I love going there. This was my 3rd time hiking there. We brought water shoes are got our feet wet to cool off. My crazy parents both walked under the waterfall to get some heat relief. CRAZIES! After our hike we stopped at one of my all time favorite fast food joints, Barry's and got some lunch. After that we headed home, cleaned up, and then headed up to my brother and sister-in-laws place to visit and play games. It was a great day! 

August 4-7 was busy! August 4 was my mom's work party at Seven Peaks. My mom's BYU Sports Medicine Department rents out Seven Peaks for the night and the employees and their families come and get dinner and then play in the water. The night was kind of a bust because of storms. The party started at 6:00 pm and no one could get in the water until 7:30 pm because of some lightning. Once we got the all clear and could play in the water it was so chilly that all I wanted to do was sit in the hot tub. There were plenty of water slides that I wanted to go on, but it was too dang cold!! Around 8:45 pm another wave of the storm rolled through with lightning and horrible rain!! No one stayed to wait it out, it was raining so hard that everyone packed up and headed home. So it was kind of a bummer! Darn weather. August 5 I went to Bountiful and had lunch with my sister-in-law Megan and mother-in-law Jill. It was good to see them to catch up and the food was yummy! Later that day I met up with my friend Alyssa Craig and we had dinner in Orem together. I hadn't seen her in forever! August 6 I met up with one of my good friends Caitlin Corbett and we spent nearly 4 hours at The Pizza Factory talking. It was such a good time! I've missed her and it was good to see her! August 7 was my cousin Jenny's baby shower. She is having twin boys!! Her shower was a really fun and a lot of family was able to attend.

August 8-9 was our annual Saunders girls shopping trip to Park City! We started off the day at the Traverse Mountain outlets and then headed up to Fashion Place mall to eat at The Cheesecake Factory. After lunch we did some shopping at Fashion Place before we headed up to Park City. Once we got to PC we walked around Pier 1 and then headed to dinner. We had dinner at Red Rock Brewing and later headed back to the hotel to play some card games. Around 10:15 pm we all hopped in our cars and drove down to Cold Stone for a late night snack. YUMMY! The next morning we went to the Park City outlets and did some major shopping! We had lunch at the Loco Lizard Cantina, did some more shopping, and then headed home. I haven't been able to go to the Park City Saunders girls trip for a few years so I was so happy that it was going on during my trip home! It was really fun hanging out with my cousins and aunts. I sure love them! 

I love my Mom so much!!!!!!!! 
Our Saunders gang

August 10 was my last full day in Utah :( My parents and I went to church and then they helped me pack once we got home. My brother Tyler, his wife Jennie, and their baby Easton came to my farewell dinner as well as my aunt Diane, her husband Nick, and 2 of their 4 boys Bronson and Micah. We had chicken and steaks {my mom and I only had chicken haha}, mashed potatoes, homemade rolls, fruit, corn, and then fruit pizza for dessert. It was sooooooooooo good!! My mouth is still watering over that meal :) After dinner we all chatted and then said our goodbyes :( 

How cute it he?!!! Seriously!! 

I love them! I won't see them until Christmas :(
During my trip home I also got addicted to pink frosted sugar cookies, ate lots of doughnuts, slept in A LOT, learned how to make one of my favorite meals, went on a lot of mini trips, got addicted to Married at First Sight on the FYI Network with my parents, bought wayyyyyyy too many clothes (seriously... I had to mail some home separately), fed the ducks multiple times -- one of my favorite things to do, laughed everyday, and spent some amazing quality time with my parents!!! I love them so much and I am so beyond grateful for everything they did for me while I was home, and everything they have done for Petey and I. I am so lucky to have such an amazing family and husband! 

We were popular at the lake!
My mom drove me to the airport on August 11. We both cried when she dropped me off. Seriously, my trip home was amazing!!!! I missed my husband terribly, but that time with my parents will always be so precious to me. I also cried when I get in the airport and when I was on the plane. I'm kind of a mess ;) Now that I'm back in H-town reality is setting in and I'll be getting a job soon-ish. My parents are flying to Houston for Thanksgiving and I can't wait!!!!  My trip home was fantastic!!!! Thanks to everyone who saw me and made my trip so much fun! And a huge thank you to my incredible husband that let me go home for that long, he supported me, and let me spend his money on clothes :) I'm so lucky!!! Below is my new favorite quote:

"How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." - A. A. Milne

Seriously - I hit the jack pot when it comes to family!! I love you all!!