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?

AUSTIN, TEXAS!


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!
Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Hello From Minneapolis!

We're back! Peter and I left Melbourne last Saturday and flew home to Minneapolis. We had a three-flight journey, which was a bit annoying, and we ended up getting delayed a few hours in Denver. I'm not sure I've ever flown through Denver without both hideous turbulence and a decently long delay. We finally arrived in Minneapolis around 7 pm, headed straight to Walmart to get SIM cards for our phones, and then basically ate and went to bed. On Sunday, we woke up early and drove four hours north to Lake Vermilion to join my family for our yearly summer vacation. I'll probably post about that later, but first, some thoughts on our move:

1) We were able to fit all of our clothes/other stuff into seven suitcases, just as we did when we moved to Melbourne. I have no idea how we didn't acquire a zillion things, but I did end up getting rid of about four bags full of clothes before we left, which helped to create some more space. We intentionally furnished our apartment with IKEA and the like knowing that we would get rid of it before moving back to the States, so we weren't that attached to anything. We stayed with our friends Matt and Lauren on our last night and somehow managed to (barely) fit all of our stuff into their car. They graciously took us to the airport early Saturday morning, which was much appreciated. This is a super low-quality photo, but it illustrates the extent to which Lauren and I were literally unable to move in the back seat.
We have great friends in Melbourne who helped SO much with the move. Sylvie and her boyfriend Ari were willing to take tons of unwanted stuff off our hands that otherwise would have been thrown away at the last minute, which was so helpful. They also purchased a few of our bigger items for their future place, which was nice, since selling on Gumtree (Australia's version of Craigslist) takes a bit more effort and isn't as reliable. I tried to sell our IKEA kitchen table and chairs and had about 384290 people message me to come look at it. Exactly 0 of those people actually showed up to look at it, as is pretty standard when selling things to random people on the internet. Thankfully, Sylvie and Ari took it off our hands!

2) The move doesn't quite feel permanent yet. I still feel like we're just on a visit back home and will return to Melbourne in a few weeks. I think this feeling will probably subside when we make our next move sometime in September and are finally settled into our own place. We've been staying with family, which is great (and free!), but also not permanent-feeling. Plus, our stuff is still packed away in suitcases for the most part, which makes it feel even more like we're on vacation.

3) We avoided jet lag almost completely, partly because we arrived after dinner time and were able to stay awake late enough to get a regular night's sleep. We also headed straight up north for a few days and were pretty busy and active the whole time, which I think is key. If we would have been hanging around on the couch all day Sunday I'm pretty sure we would have fallen asleep.


A few things we're loving about being back in the States:


  • AIR CONDITIONING- We were welcomed back to summer in Minnesota with some high temperatures and even higher humidity. It's cooled off now, but the super-cold stores and restaurants were definitely appreciated on those hot days. Australia just doesn't air condition like we do here!
  • TARGET- A legit selection of food, clothes, home goods, toiletries all in one place. I've missed it.
  • FRIENDS AND FAMILY- I've gotten to see a lot of friends already and have spent a ton of time with family, which has been the best part of being home so far. 
  • ONLINE SHOPPING- Free shipping! Amazon! 
  • TV- Okay this isn't important at all, but it's nice to watch some of my favorite shows in real time instead of a day or so later.
  • TIME ZONE- I enjoy being in the same time zone as most of my family and friends again. On the flip side, I'm now in a totally opposite time zone to my Aussie friends, which is weird and annoying. Can't win 'em all I guess. 

And a few thing's we're missing about Melbourne:


  • PUBLIC TRANSPORT- I hate driving. Being home for a week and a half has reaffirmed this (extremely warranted) hatred. I would much rather sit on a tram, which is now not an option. Boohoo. 
  • CITY LIVING- We're in the suburbs right now staying with our families, so we're definitely missing city life, but no matter where we end up, we likely won't ever live in the heart of such a vibrant and walkable city again, which is sad! We'll see what happens, but our place in Melbourne can't be beat. 
  • FRIENDS- Our friends in Melbourne are amazing! We wouldn't have had such an enjoyable two years without them and we miss them all already. 
  • THE FOOD- I'm not sure there's any city in the world with a food culture like Melbourne's. The quality, diversity, and sheer number of restaurants is insane. 
  • THE VIBE- This one is vague, but those of you who have lived in/visited Melbourne will get what I'm talking about. When my friends in Australia asked me what I was going to miss most about Melbourne, the best answer I could come up with was the overall vibe/feel of the city. It's big enough but not too big, concentrated enough to walk the whole downtown area, safe and clean in comparison to similarly-sized American cities, easy to navigate, near the beach, and filled with interesting architecture, laneways, restaurants, museums, etc. Plus, there are so many different inner suburbs/neighborhoods to explore that each have their own unique feel. I'm fairly confident Melbourne is the best city in the world and we're definitely missing it! 
Wednesday, August 17, 2016

One Last Weekend

This weekend was our last in Melbourne, which is sad beyond belief. Luckily, it was pretty epic and consisted mainly of baby goats. If you don't like goats 1) you may want to skip this post and 2) why.

Main Ridge Dairy Tour


Peter and I spent most of Friday packing and doing non-exciting moving chores. Anyone else think moving is among the top 5 most annoying/time consuming/frustrating tasks in life?

Saturday Peter worked and I headed down to Main Ridge Dairy with Matt and Lauren for a little tour of the farm. Lauren is on the Main Ridge VIP email list (hardcore) and they did this same tour last year. After seeing photos of all the baby goats they got to hold, I was excited to join them this year.

I love how they just kneel down randomly.
Lauren is pretty much a goat whisperer. 
The owner of the farm gathered our tour and we headed into the field to meet the goats. They are clearly decently intelligent creatures, because they recognized the owner and came running over to us. I'm sure they were just hoping for some food, but we felt like they were super excited to see us. 
We toured the pastures where little baby goats were being born pretty much daily, and then stopped at the baby goat pen to play with the little guys. At first they didn't know what to make of us, but they quickly warmed up.
In fact, it turns out goats really, really love hair, so pretty soon Lauren and I were being mobbed by baby goats trying to eat our hair. Disgusting? Yes. Simultaneously cute? Yes. 
At the end of the tour, Lauren asked about what they do with all the goats. Main Ridge has a really amazing selection of goat cheeses, so some are used for their own purposes, but most of the males are given away. She actually offered us a few free goats, but we had to (sadly) decline, which was somewhat painful. I've always thought of myself as the type of person who would never, under any circumstances, turn down a free goat.

Footy Game


On Sunday, Peter and I went to our last footy game. We've been to four or five over the past two years and have really enjoyed them. We have been casual Richmond fans, and they were playing on Sunday, so it was the perfect opportunity to bid farewell to our careers as footy spectators. We got to see a beautiful sunset, and underdog Richmond was actually winning for the first three quarters. Unfortunately, they pretty much blew a huge lead to lose the game, which was sort of what we have come to expect from any team we cheer for. We are from Minnesota, after all ;).  It was still fun to watch, and we left a bit sad that we wouldn't be watching any more footy games (live, at least) any time soon. 
Peter enjoying a pint and a pie, despite his team's soul-crushing loss. 

This week has been a whirlwind of selling furniture, canceling services, setting up things in the States for our return, and feverishly trying to hit up all our favorite restaurants. I think we are in a bit of denial that our time in Australia is coming to an end in just a few short days. We are looking forward to seeing family and friends much more frequently, but it's not going to be easy to say goodbye to our lives in Melbourne.
Thursday, August 11, 2016

Mornington Peninsula Day Trip

A few weeks ago, we took a day trip to the Mornington Peninsula with our friends Matt and Lauren. I visited the area almost two years ago (on the windiest day in the history of the world), but Peter had never been. This visit was much less dramatic, thankfully. Also, linking back to the last time I was in Mornington at the beginning of my blog reminds me how terrible my early photos were. Apparently I did not know how to edit. Or resize. 

My favorite stop on this trip is hands down the goat farm. I have no idea if normal people are as obsessed with goats as I am, but I literally want a herd of them when I grow up. I may or may not have spent a few hours the other day researching farm land. 
Who could not love this face?!
The Mornington Peninsula is home to a bunch of beautiful wineries with stunning ocean views, like the one below, so we had to stop for some scenery and tasting.
We headed to Cape Schanck, which is the scene of my closest near-death experience to date and the sorce of the drama I referenced above. Read this post for context. I will admit I am a dramatic person, but I stand by the description in that post. Also, I had forgotten that it was in Mornington where I first saw a Huntsman spider. I've only seen one or two more since then, which is one or two too many. They are hideous creatures that I am not sad to leave behind for good in a couple of weeks.
The weather was so much calmer this time around and the hike down to the water was shockingly enjoyable in the absence of a hurricane/tornado.
We took the coastal route back to the city and stopped a couple times to take in the view.
And stopped at Dromana Beach, which is a highly underrated Melbourne beach in my opinion, just in time to catch the sun setting.


Happily, I will be making one more trip down that way before we head back to the States! There is an event at the dairy farm this weekend and I'm obviously going.
Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Big News!

It's official...after two glorious years in Melbourne, we are moving back to the States!

When we moved to Australia in July 2014 we planned to stay for two years (the length of our visas) and return to the States around this time. However, earlier this year, Peter's company offered the option to extend our visas for another year, which we immediately accepted. We both love living in Melbourne and weren't (and still aren't) ready to leave. We basically planned to stay until a promotion came up for Peter back in the States, which we thought would likely happen mid-2017. We were really excited about the opportunity to stay a bit longer than our original plan and fit in some more travel and adventure...I mean really, who would turn down an extra year in Australia?!

Well, long story short, that promotion in the States came up earlier than expected, and Peter was offered and accepted the job a few weeks ago. This is great news for Peter's career, but not so great news for our bonus year in Australia...we will be moving back to the States in a little under two weeks. We are really excited about Peter's new position, being closer to family and friends, and starting a brand new journey. We aren't so excited about leaving Melbourne, which has been a fabulous home for us these last two years, and the friends we have made here.

I haven't yet mentioned where we will be moving because.....we don't know. Peter's new job will be remote, as in he will be working out of a home office 50% of the time and traveling 50% of the time. He will have a portfolio of six or so accounts spread out around the States, so our location is pretty flexible, as long as we are living near a major airport. So, we have a few ideas about where we'd like to live, and what would make the most sense with Peter's new position, but I'll leave you in a bit of suspense until our plans are a little more solid ;). The plan for now is to stay with family in Minneapolis for a few weeks until we know where we're headed!

I plan to continue blogging about recent trips (Japan and Tasmania) and the moving process, and then I'm not really sure what will become of this blog? We'll see what happens. Also, if anyone in the Melbourne area is interested in buying a bunch of IKEA furniture....hit me up!
Saturday, July 30, 2016

Hello From Tasmania!

Sometime last week, we decided to take a last-minute long weekend trip to Tasmania and arrived yesterday. We are staying in Hobart, and have so far spent time exploring the city and surrounding areas. We are absolutely loving Tasmania and wish we had much more time here! Tomorrow we head up to Freycinet National Park, where the famed Wineglass Bay is located. Tomorrow is also Peter's 28th birthday, so hopefully he will get to do some celebrating despite all the driving! 

Here are just a few pictures from my iPhone (sorry for the janky quality- I'll post pictures from our camera when we get home). 

We stopped for lunch on our way in from the airport, and this place was amazing. I had a super-fresh Tasmanian salmon sandwich and Peter raved about his meat pie. 
Peter in front of our bed and breakfast, ready for a day of sightseeing. 
Our B and B...the cutest place ever. 
We drove up into the mountains and saw this group of kids frolicking in a rogue patch of snow. Exciting stuff for the Aussies! Not so much for us ;). 
Pirate's Bay lookout. 
A random beach we passed on our drive. 
A quick brewery stop before dinner tonight. 
We will be up bright and early tomorrow for another day of exploring before heading for home on Monday morning. 

Follow along on Instagram if you don't already! laura_christian89 and peterchristian21 

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!

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