Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Four Years and Counting

 We met in the fall of 2008.

Summer of 2009, he proposed on the Oceanside pier. I, of course, said "yes".

The week leading up to our wedding in fall of 2009, I remember feeling excited nervousness. My life was about to change drastically. While I was nervous I never had any doubt in my mind that Zach was the one for me. Of course I doubted being worthy of him every minute. But despite my trying to convince him otherwise he still loved me and decided I was worth it.

The day of the wedding was absolute bliss. I had spent the last week getting all the nerves out of my system and absolutely loved every minute of my wedding day. I was able to make sacred covenants that bound me to Zachary for time and all eternity in the San Diego Temple. I plan to do all I can to remain worthy of him.

Now 4 years after that perfect day I am still madly in love. Its amazing to me that its only been 4 years. I feel like he has become so much of me that there was no time with out him. I love it.

Thanks for sticking with me. The rest of our lives are going to be awesome! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

5 Best Burgers in NYC

Guest post by our good friend Chelsea Kasen:

The best things in life are good friends, good food, and good jokes.

Best kind of good food? BURGERS.

Thankfully, New York City does not have a shortage of delicious burgers. You can find it all! From a $2 burger served at a fast-food joint to a $30+ burger served at an exclusive, reservation only restaurant, the city can make your wildest burger dreams come true.

After consuming countless burgers over the last 2 years in the city, I've created a "5 Best Burgers in NYC: According to Chelsea Kasen" list. Without further ado...

5. Steak 'n Shake's The Original Double 'N Cheese Steakburger. If you are looking for a solid, cheap burger that will leave you more than satisfied, look no further! This slab of meat has prime real estate in Midtown Manhattan, next door to David Letterman's Studios, and a few blocks south of Central Park. Added bonus: their milkshakes are delicious.

4. Burger Joint's Burger (Le Parker Meridian or Greenwich Village). I love how Burger Joint keeps it simple. What do they serve? Burgers, grilled cheese, french fries, brownies, milk shakes, and drinks. That's it. My favorite part of their burger is tasting the char. Just like home. 

The ambiance, at both locations, is great. At Le Parker Meridian you feel like you are going to an exclusive club behind the red curtain, only to walk into a real dive with graffiti covered walls. Warning: this location is CASH ONLY. 

At Greenwich Village, you skip the crowds, and dine in an intimate setting surrounded by local artwork. This location accepts cash and cards.

Two things are guaranteed at each location: good music, and an even better burger.

3. Shake Shack's Double ShackBurger. New Yorkers either love or hate Shake Shack. Obvi, I'm in love. The beef is excellent (bonus points for using beef that has never ever been treated with hormones or antibiotics), and the Double has the perfect meat to bun ratio. Oh my goodness, the bun. It's out of this world. The first time I ate one of these beauties I couldn't get over the deliciousness of the bun. 

If you're looking to kick your burger up a notch, try the Shack Stack, a ShackBurger and a 'Shroom Burger ALL IN ONE. The 'Shroom is a crisp-fried portobello mushroom filled with melted muenster and cheddar cheeses. A true explosion of flavor.

2. Umami Burger's Truffle Burger. A few months ago this California chain made it's debut in Greenwich Village. Critics say it's hype is a fad, but I beg to differ. Eat the Truffle Burger, look me in the eyes, and tell me that you won't be dreaming about the melt-in-your-mouth meat, served on a brioche bun, in all of it's truffle, aioli glory for the next week. Yep, that's what I thought. You can't.

1. Cafe Ghia's Grass-Fed Burger. Located in Buschwick, this burger is literally the best I've ever eaten. It's creators describe it as, "Infused with bacon fat. With Vermont Cheddar, roasted tomato aioli and alfalfa sprouts." Yes, you read right. It's infused with bacon fat.

My taste buds were blown away after taking my first bite. I couldn't believe a burger could taste so divine. The bun melts in your mouth. The bacon flavor is distinct, but not overpowering. The alfalfa sprouts are refreshing. The cheddar is the perfect compliment to the infused meat...long story short, the trek to Cafe Ghia is worth every savory bite. 

Warnings: (1) These burgers are not served on weekends or holidays (they take up too much space on the grill). (2) Remember, these are in Bushwick. The neighborhood is gentrified, but just be smart. (3) You'll leave the restaurant smelling like bacon.

Here's to good burgers all over the world, and to good friends (like the Allens) who are willing to travel great distances to find the best burger out there.

*Upset that your burger didn't make the list? Tell me about it. What makes it so great? Where can I find it?
**If you find yourself in NYC and need a burger buddy, holler at your girl! I'm always down to consume these culinary creations.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Top 5 Pizzerias

This is our list of our favorite places to get pizza in New York City.

4. Joe's Pizza - Greenwich Village
We only ate here once, even though we walked by it as we explored Greenwich Village often. It was delicious. The crust was thin, the slices large, and the uniquely flavored pizza sauce was unforgettable.

3. 2 Bros. - All over Manhattan
The fastest, largest, cheapest, most convenient slice of pizza you will find in NYC. I argued putting 2 Bros. at the top of the list for those very reasons but because it is not a gourmet pizza, decided to put it in third place. I thoroughly enjoy the times where I had a minute to watch the pizza assembly line while I ate my dollar slice of cheese pizza. They work so fast and efficiently in such a small space that it really is mesmerizing. It is one experience I already miss and will never forget.

2. Grimaldi's  - Brooklyn
This is where we fell in love with the margarita pizza. The first time we went we were figuring out how to recreate their signature pizza. If you are willing to brave the hour long lines to get in during the summer we recommend it otherwise wait until January and have any seat in the house. They serve fun Brooklyn sodas, perfect thin crust pizzas, and have a fun atmosphere and view right under the Brooklyn Bridge. Grimaldi's is dear and near to our hearts and we will recommend it to any and all.

1. Da Mikele - TriBeCa
The fanciest pizza I have ever had, (and probobly ever will have). We came here with Zach's cousin Lexie when we announced we were pregnant with little Anna. The atmosphere is perfect with the exposed brick, wood floors, and dimmed lighting. We all tried different pizzas that pushed the boundaries on what we considered "pizza". So many fabulous ingredients and robust flavored cheeses. It was a gastric experience unlike any other.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Funeral

We gave our final goodbyes to Zach's Grandpa, Bruce Papenfuss, on November 9th. While it was heard to see him go, we felt a great deal of comfort knowing he was in a better place and that we would see him again.
The funeral service was truly beautiful. It was so nice to see all the family and friends that could make it and to enjoy each other.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


It was so nice to be able to talk with Brock face to face again. The mission stories were amazing and we hung onto every word. We enjoyed eating a Zimbabwe meal with the traditional hand washing and sitting on the couch. Brock was a good sport as Anna did her best to steal the show and be the constant center of attention. The 4 days we got to spend together were not enough. We are so grateful to be living on the same side of the country to enjoy that taller, more mature, still every bit as fun, and fashionably aware, Brock.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Eager Anticipation

It was Wednesday, October 30th.
Elder Brock Allen would be flying into Great Falls Montana that very night. One brother, a sister, a sister-in-law, and one new niece headed up the 1-15 from Utah to Montana to welcome him home. Our stomachs were all a flutter as we cruised on that day. Not only were we about to be reunited with our best friend, but it was a surprise. To Brocks knowledge Paige was in Utah until the weekend working, and Zach, Me and baby Anna were living in New York planing to see him over Christmas. Oh how clever we felt as we talked about what kind of reactions he might have. We all knew, no matter what, tears would be shed by all.


We waited at the airport in eager anticipation. We stayed hidden off to the side to really drive home our surprise. When we saw him walk off the plane to give the family he expected to see hugs, we could barely stand it. The minute he turned around Paige went running and the little Zach Allen family followed. It was a sweet reunion. The look on his face was priceless. The smiles were endless, the surprise was evident, and tears of joy were shed.


Welcome home Brock, we're so glad you're home.

Friday, November 15, 2013

New York, NY 10040

This apartment was so good to us. It was a small studio but being on the 5th floor with large windows we got a lot of natural light that helped make the space feel open and comfortable. We would like to copy aspects of this apartment in our future homes. It was a good place to live and while I miss it dearly I am excited for what ever place we move into next.