Erica and Cristen Visit Salt Lake – Part 1

I thought about titling this post “Reunited and It Feels So Good!” because it’s been 7 long years since Erica and Cristen and I were all three together. My friendship with them pre-dates this blog, so let me explain. They were my lifelines during the two long years we were in graduate school together at Purdue. I’ve seen them both separately since we graduated in 2007. Obviously Cristen and I went to Europe together almost two years ago, but she also visited me in New Orleans. Erica and British Kevin visited me in New Orleans, too, (although, that never got blogged about because they visited in between blogs) and I visited her back in our old stomping grounds in Lafayette. But the three of us have had to rely on Facebook chats while watching Project Runway and group text messaging. Until they so kindly came to visit me in Salt Lake last weekend. (I know it was just so they could both add another state to their lists, but I’m grateful they came anyway.)

I had to work during their first day of exploration, but on the next day, I was excited to show them around Temple Square and the crown jewel of Salt Lake – the temple.

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I took them to the South Visitor Center to see the model of the temple, but they were much more interested in finding their family lines on the computers set up with Family Search. It was exciting to find our great-grandparents and grandparents in census records and immigration forms.

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After touring the Beehive House, I showed them one of my favorite little gardens behind the Beehive House and Lion House and we found one of the first blossoming trees I’ve seen this spring.

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We took the elevator to the top of the tallest building in Salt Lake City and saw the view from 26 stories up.

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Having visitors gives me an excuse to go places I usually don’t, like on a tour of the Conference Center. Our tour guide was Buff, and she was pretty much amazing. She flies into SLC from Arizona every Friday to give tours of the Conference Center (she’s a flight attendant, so she can do stuff like that). She told us all sorts of interesting facts and showed us all the art.

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And then she took us to the rooftop garden. It would have been more lush in the summer or later in the season, but the views were still pretty great.

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Our time downtown was cut short because I had to pick up my car at the mechanics before 5:30, but we had just enough time for one more visit, the very posh Hotel Utah (aka the Joseph Smith Memorial Building). We got on the elevator to view the lobby from the mezzanine, but I was distracted by people and didn’t actually press the button for the mezzanine. When an employee saw us with our cameras, he assumed we were riding all the way to the tenth floor. I had no idea what was on the tenth floor (my experience with the building has been limited to the first two floors, really), so I was delighted to see a different, more on-level perspective of the temple.

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And when I was showing them the beautiful chapel where Matt and Izzy once attended church, I learned something new. It used to be the grand ballroom for the Hotel Utah (before it was renovated to be the Joseph Smith Memorial Building). It still has the grand ceiling.

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More of our adventures to come.

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Rue de Lis Desserts

I was in Washington DC all last week attending a training class for work, but of course I used my free time to visit all sorts of museums and historic places. I’ll be sharing about those soon, but I wanted to first share some photos I took for my friend’s catering company, Rue de Lis. Hilary makes the most beautiful desserts, but they are just as delicious as they look. I had so much fun taking photos. Unfortunately, it was quite a rainy overcast day, so it was hard to get the lighting just right. Still, I hope my photos do the desserts justice. Don’t you just want to eat them all up?

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(And the best part is that I got to take some home with me.)

Snowy Salt Lake City

I think it’s almost safe to say that spring has arrived, but before we get too comfortable with it, I want to remember a snowy morning in January (now that I’m all done blogging about EuroAdventure 2012). I was feeling some cabin fever from being cooped up sick all week. Even though because it had snowed the entire night, I knew there’d be some pretty pictures, so I bundled up tight and headed downtown. It was quite blustery still, and at first I wasn’t sure it would be worth it. But then I warmed up from brisk walking and started to see the beauty around me.

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And since no one else was out and about, I had plenty of time to observe all the fine details and cute shops along Main Street.

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Then I walked a block over to State Street because I wanted photos of the Eagle Gate. I’ve been a little obsessed with it lately. I just find it so stunning. This gate was erected in 1963, but an eagle gate has existed for over 150 years, ever since the pioneers first came to the Salt Lake Valley. It’s been widened and moved a few times, and the original eagle on top (perched on a beehive, the state symbol) was replaced with copper (the original is in the Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum). But because it’s right int he middle of a buys intersection, it’s always been really hard to photograph (also, I just hate those traffic lights right in the way!). But on a snowy day when few people are out, it’s easy to quickly pause in the middle of the road for a snapshot.

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And then there are the Beehive House and the Lion House, where Brigham Young and several other prophets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints once lived. I have always loved them. (You probably know that since I often post pictures of them.)

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And from there, it was a snowy walk to Temple Square.

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The only other people I saw were sister missionaries, one small group of tourists, and other photographers. That seemed about right. It started snowing again, though, and I was ready to head back to my warm house, so I walked back up Main Street.

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I almost didn’t make it out of my parking spot, though, because the roads were so slick. Eventually, with some smooth maneuvering, I was able to back up. I have to say that even though I kind of like those snowy mornings, I am so happy it’s almost spring.

Twinkly Christmas Lights

Merry Christmas! I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday. I actually celebrated Christmas last night with my family, so today has felt like a pretty typical day, except that I didn’t have to work. Hooray! Being single with no kids makes Christmas kind of anti-climactic. There’s nothing exciting to wake up to, but it is rather exciting to just be able to sleep in.

It’s a good thing that Christmas isn’t really just about one day or it would be totally disappointing. I really love the build up to Christmas — all of the gift hunting and little activities. One of which is visiting the lights at Temple Square. Even though I go every year, it is always magical. I even went twice this year. Once on accident. I just happened to be downtown on the day after Thanksgiving when the lights came on. Since I already had my camera with me, I decided to walk through on my own. Even though I had to squeeze through lots of crowds, it was really nice to be alone and just enjoy the atmosphere. I walked past the Nativity and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was piped through the speakers singing The First Noel. I’ve never even liked that song (too repetitive), but my heart was just swelling with Christmas spirit.

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The following week, Matt and Izzy invited me to see the lights with them. We also stopped by Macy’s at City Creek to see the candy window displays. They used to create these candy window displays when I was little, but they stopped for several years. It was so fun to take Claire and Liam to see them again. The displays this year were huge ornaments all made from candy. They were incredible! I wish I had gotten better photos of them.

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When Claire saw this fountain, she immediately jumped on the ledge and gave me her “sexy pose.” First of all, when did Claire get old enough to call anything her sexy pose? It was so hilarious and kind of sad at the same time. I both love and hate how quickly she is growing up.

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We were going to get some hot chocolate at the Nauvoo Cafe, but the line was super long. We decided to stop somewhere after instead, but going inside the Joseph Smith Memorial Building gave us a chance to see the beautiful Christmas tree they have.

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Liam loved it!

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I wish peace and joy for all of you. Happy holidays!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch.

I really had no idea that I would be blogging about my trip last September for two months straight. And I still have a week’s worth of EuroAdventure 2012 to blog about, but I thought I would take a break and catch up on some of my normal life back in Salt Lake City before I get too far behind. I mean, these first photos are from way back in October. But I couldn’t not share them with you. I was so worried that I missed all of the fall color while I was in Europe, so I was incredibly happy to find that the canyons were still bright and bold.

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Of course, it wasn’t too long before they were covered in snow. We had a huge snowfall in early November.

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Liam spent the weekend during the huge snowfall, so we spent lots of time playing choo choos (I wish you could hear him say “choo choo.” It’s the most adorable.) And he loved Max (from the Grinch).

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Ever since I stumbled upon Em’s near the capitol a few years ago, I’ve been wanting to try it out. It just looks like such a charming little place. I finally went with my friend Emily to celebrate our November birthdays, and it was delicious.

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And finally, we just celebrated another birthday, Izzy’s! My mom made her famous, traditional ice cream roll. With lots of candles.

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Coming up are some photos from my recent trip to Denver and lots of sparkly Christmas lights. If I don’t post those now, I won’t get around to them until April.

Liberty Park Greenhouse

I am such a sucker for a greenhouse. I don’t know what it is. I just find them so beautiful and elegant. And it’s not even the plants. Of course, they are gorgeous, but it’s really just the building – the white glass. Maybe it’s also the contrast of the bright flowers against the white glass, so in that way, it is the flowers. I only recently noticed that there is a greenhouse at Liberty Park. It’s not quite as beautiful as the Lyman Plant House (my favorite building at Smith College), but it is lovely and the flowerbeds are definitely colorful against it.

Combine the beauty of the greenhouse and surrounding flowerbeds, a chat with my best friend, and a pomegranate smoothie and you’ve got the makings of a pretty great Saturday night.

South Temple (Brigham Street)

In seventh grade I wrote a report about Brigham Street, otherwise known as South Temple. It was basically a book that described each of the houses along the street. I wish I had a copy of that book or of my report. It’s funny how many times I’ve thought about it as I drive up and down South Temple. The street has obviously changed a lot in the past 100 years or so. I wanted to document it as it is right now, so I got my friend, Kylie, to go on a little photo excursion with me.

We kind of started in the middle of South Temple on 700 East and headed west. The first building of note is the Masonic Temple. I think it’s absolutely beautiful and loved exploring the symbols. I’d love to learn more about it. They actually offer tours, but unfortunately they are during working hours. After my trip to Europe when I’m not saving up all of my PTO, I might have to take an afternoon off and visit it.

One of the most apparent symbols on the temple is the lotus flower. It’s the bottom of every column and represented on the ironwork around the doors and windows. It represents life, birth, re-creation, light… all such wonderful things.

Here’s a historic house built in the style of an Italian Villa. According to a plaque in the driveway, it’s being renovated. A lengthy process because it’s been happening since 1998.

A little further down is the Governor’s Mansion. It’s also under a little construction, so I avoided the orange cones at the base of the building.

I remember taking a tour of it in high school, maybe as part of my Interior Design class. I’d love to take another tour, but unfortunately, they are almost always during working hours. What’s up with these buildings? Don’t they realize that most people have to work?

Let’s take a break and look at something we can enjoy outside of working hours — sunlight streaming through the trees. It was really the perfect time of night.

There are still some beautiful houses along Brigham Street, but most of them are used for commercial purposes now. And with some of them, it wasn’t always apparent if they are private houses or not. I think this one is for rent for commercial purposes, but isn’t it lovely? I want to live there.

I’m not sure about this building. It had a historic plaque but it didn’t really give any information. There’s a carriage house behind it, though, that I also would love to live in. (I think it’s bigger than most houses!)

I loved the combination of yellow and purple flowers in front of this building.

A few blocks down are some historic businesses. Mrs. Backer’s is still going strong. It’s actually the bakery whereat my sister got her wedding cakes. My mom used to stop there for a little treat back in her single days. They have beautiful cakes, but I also love their sign.

I was saddened to see that the business across the street is gone. I would have shopped there if I had ever had need of a bridal registry or china. I at least hope that whoever leases it leaves the signs. They might be a little dilapidated but I love them.

Kylie said I could always buy it and live there, which would be kind of awesome. I wouldn’t mind living on South Temple. Maybe I could find a place at the Ritz.

I’d be right across the street from the IBM Building.

And next door to the former LDS Business College, which recently moved to some ugly buildings. Wouldn’t it be disappointing to sign up to attend a college that used be housed in a pretty building only to find that it now occupies some floors of an 80s office building?

The First Presbyterian Church was built in 1903 in the Gothic Revival style. It has beautiful stained glass windows and intricate details. I like the swooping gargoyles at the edge of the doors. It also smelled of lavender.

For some reason, the next building has been one of my favorites. I think the scallops look like eyelids or eyebrows. It looks much better when you’re driving past it, though. Looking at it straight on for the photo made me realize how run down it is. It looks like it might be kind of depressing inside, which is too bad because it’s such a unique building. Of course, I could be wrong about that.

The bark of this tree stopped me in my tracks. It looks like a mosaic.

We stopped our little photo excursion at the Cathedral of the Madeleine. It’s such a beautiful building. Not only on the outside, but on the inside as well.

We didn’t stay inside the cathedral for long because they were cleaning up and it was getting late, but I would love to spend some more time there looking at the stained glass and the paintings. We walked back to the car and headed back on First Avenue. You might remember that First Ave leads straight to the front of the temple. We just happened to catch it right as the sun was setting.