Ringing in 2013 in Asheville

I heard that the Biltmore has an amazing tour during the holidays, and finally decided to go! I went with Brandy (who I used to live with), and Lisa and Rachel from my ward. We drove up after I got off work on Monday, and we had a good time singing our hearts out in the car. It was dark by the time we got to Asheville, but we made it just in time to go on the candlelight tour of the Biltmore. Somehow we got the price of 2 days for the price of 1! We got to see most of the 255 rooms in the house, at night, but we also got to enjoy the Christmas decorations the next day, too! This is us waiting in a quick line to get in (while it was freezing!):


After the candlelight tour, we were starving and needed somewhere pronto to spend the new year celebration that was more exciting than our hotel room (although that was nice too!). The only place open and that could seat us was a bar about a mile away from our car (ok, but it FELT like a mile!). It was a little less exciting than people watching usually is, and we left smelling like food and the champaign that the bar tender sprayed all over everyone to celebrate. As we were walking down the street to the car some random drunk guy shouted out Lisa’s name… I had no idea she was so famous, or that the guy was so good at guessing names! We still wanted a little celebration that was more our pace. Luckily, Brandy packed a bottle of Martinelli’s, and not so luckily we forgot the bottle opener. But, on the our way to our car, we did find someone who worked at a winery and could help us. Lucky girl didn’t know what she scored: a bottle that had rolled around the car for a few hours and then sat in a purse for a day! It sprayed ALL over the place! Lisa’s eye, Brandy’s coat, my face and hair, it was epic. Although, somehow I don’t remember the girl who gave us the opener getting we at all. Oh well, she was probably too drunk to remember us (hopefully).

On New Year’s Day we were able to go back to the Biltmore to look around the gardens and what was outside in the dark the night before. Lisa was a good distraction from the scenery though


I was the only one who forgot my boots, so my feet had bigger puddles than the ditches! Which made my feet freezing, and my hair frizzy. The Biltmore has quite the beautiful grounds, even when nothing is growing outside.


Although I did enjoy the green house where they sported these two bad boys:


It was rainy and cold pretty much the whole time we were there but that didn’t stop us. I researched a few places to go, and was really excited to try them out. Among them was a chocolate cafe!!! We tried it out and it was a dream come true! The hot chocolate was made with a ganache, and it was a little thicker than regular hot chocolate and was D E L I C I O U S. I’d go back to Asheville just for that.

Hopefully we get to go again!

Home for the holidays

I got to go home for Christmas! My dad had a hip replacement in early December so I wasn’t expecting to get out of the house much, but I was pleasantly surprised on what a good time I/we all had! It would only have been better if Eric and Jen were in town.

I couldn’t last 3 days in California without seeing some of the nieces and nephews! After dropping Cecilie off at the airport I headed to Santa Rosa to see the Spurlocks, and this little one:


We had a good time at home playing on all our electronic devices and entertaining dad in his rehab chair! It seemed weird not to get together with the Hanks fam on Christmas, but I’m sure that’s not the first time it’s happened. But Melissa and Jake indulged my by going to see Les Misersbles! It was so good! I laughed and cried, it was definitely worth seeing in the theater! Melissa could have lived with her noisy neighbor eating popcorn so loud, and I could have lived without the smell of the jalapeños in the nachos of the girl next to me… Thankfully Mom is the best mom in the world and slaved away on Christmas dinner all by herself. It was delicious, thanks Mom! A much needed break from whatever the people in the theater were eating!

Dad really started to make a turn for the better, so we decided we could get out of the house and leave him to fend for himself one day. Cecilie told me about a few amazing gingerbread houses on display in the city and I just had to see them! Luckily Rush and Hailey decided it would be ok to come with us. Jake wanted to take Rush to the Ferrari store first and it turned out to be SUCH a hit! He loved it so much he kept saying: “but I NEED a Ferrari,” and it melted my heart. We got him a little Ferrari toy to hold him over until he starts driving. He would NOT let that bag go!


It was real cute. Hailey was one step ahead of Rush though, she is already driving!


We finally did make it to the gingerbread house in the Westin, and it was HUGE! I made Rush and Melissa pose in front of it, and Rush was so proud that his eyes were closed…


Funny kid… But seriously, this gingerbread was ridiculous. I had to take a picture of the stats, 120 pounds of gingerbread, 400 pounds of royal icing, 80 pounds of flour! So glad we made the trip there.

We did get to meet up with all of the Hanks family! And we got to meet baby Vivian! She is too cute! She was so little! I didn’t get any pictures of her, or anyone else that night. But it as so nice to visit! I guess there aren’t very many pictures that she is in when she isn’t crying.

We did break a few puzzles out per tradition. It was cute that Melissa and Jake both got each other puzzles for Christmas. We opened the 1,000 piece puzzle of Tahoe. Scott, Melissa and I were the major players on the puzzle team, but Scott was the one that put the last few hundred pieces in! It was a masterpiece!


It was wonderful to be home! Thanks to the Spurlocks for sacrificing a week to spend with me in Fremont! It was a long week by the end with a sick little girl and an exhausted little boy. I hope you still had your sanity when you got home! And thanks to mom and dad for hosting!


I changed my blog address and didn’t tell anyone!  I just did it a minute ago, but realized after I did it that everyone would have to change the blog address they follow (if you do follow me!).

I tried to make bainla my username when I first started this blog, and the username was taken.  I thought I’d try it again, and it worked!  I was a little surprised, but I guess whoever else claims to be bainla isn’t the REAL bainla!

Anyway, this is my new blog address:


so if you still want to read about what on earth I’m doing, you can see me there instead!!