Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Can't seem to catch up

There is so much to blog about, but I barely have time to breathe these days. I'm exhausted and I'm trying to enjoy the season, which leaves little time to blog about the things I'm doing that are trying to maintain a sense of normalcy this holiday season. With that said, I'll try to get some pictures up of the following things one of these days, but for now, here is a rambling post full of bullet-points:

* We hosted our annual party for some of our good friends last weekend. I made a bunch of appetizers, which meant I was cooking half of Friday and all day Saturday, but they turned out great and it was fun living in my kitchen for awhile. The highlight for me was making mini pumpkin cheesecakes (so yummy!) and Gingerbread Snowflakes from Miss Martha. If I do say so myself, they turned out adorable!

* I've done the vast majority of our Christmas shopping this year online. I've found good deals, lots of free shipping and I haven't had to run around all over the place looking for stuff. With only 2 gifts left to purchase, my holiday shopping is almost complete. Thank God!

* I was in charge of our office holiday party for the second year in a row, after swearing that I wouldn't do it after last year's craziness. Well, now I've officially had it. I'm out for next year. It's frankly not worth the bitching and moaning from folks and the work involved in putting it all together. On the upside, I provided the holiday music and two of my worker bee co-workers who helped put the party together liked it so much that they've asked for a copy of it. :) They said it was a great mix of all those songs you hear out in the malls, but can never remember once you get home. It's such a silly thing to be proud of, but oh well. Ha!

* As of today, I know of 9, count 'em n-i-n-e people who are having babies sometime in 2009. And about half of them are close family and friends. I'm so happy for everyone, but no joke, I'm buying stock in Babies R Us! Oh, and we keep telling my mother-in-law about the babies and she finally replied with "Okay, I don't want to hear anymore about your friends babies." Implying, of course, that she'd like to hear about our babies! Hahahahahaha! Yeah, not for a loooong time, if ever.

* Instead of real babies, hubs and I are starting to consider a baby of the furry variety, namely a puppy. We have a short list of breeds we're considering and will likely head to a dog show after the first of the year to see the breeds in person, talk to the breeders, etc. Once we finally decide on a breed that would be good for us, we'll get more information from AKC breeders and local breed-specific rescue groups. Most of the dogs on our list are also known for being good therapy dogs with proper training and this is something I'm really interested in. Not only would we be giving back to the community, but we'd be ensuring we'd have a well-behaved dog in general. We're not exactly sure of the timeline yet, but 2009 will likely see us adding a furry friend to our home. Very exciting!

* Lastly, I chopped my hair. This was sort of inadvertant as I asked the stylist for a "long bob", but she didn't so much hear the "long" part. I'd been toying with the idea of going short for some time, but I didn't have the guts to go for it. It was much easier for the stylist to accidently goof, at least for me. Super easy to style and such in the morning and it's just fun to have a very different look.

And that's the long, somewhat convoluted version of what's been going on these days. Things with my dad are still sticky, but I'm trying to leave most of the crazy to the lawyer and only get involved when absolutely necessary. So far, so good. And I seem to be having more good days than bad, but I'm not sure how much of that is due to accepting what happened vs. being too busy to really take it all in. Time will tell.

Hope everyone is having a happy holiday season!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Still upright, barely

As most of you already know, we found out on the 20th that my father had passed away. My brother received a call from the police that morning for permission to enter the house for a welfare check after concerned neighbors had contacted them. What they found was not good and it started a whole storm of events that is still ongoing. Those first few hours passed in a blur. My brother called me at work and I lost it, but quickly tried to regain my composure to deal with everything. I walked over to Jim's office and he sat with me outside for awhile so I could try to wrap my brain around everything. As I've talked about here, I'd had very little contact with my dad in the past year, which makes his death even more complicated than it would have been otherwise. I also had to quickly make a decision on whether I'd continue with my plans to walk in the 3 Day Walk as I was scheduled to get on a train to SD a few hours later. Ultimately, I decided to still participate in the walk and I'm so glad I did. Alyssa and I talked a bit about it at the beginning of the trip and then I put it aside for the duration of the weekend. I think the distraction was good for me, but it didn't stop my nights from being very long and holding little in the way of sleep.

Without meaning to, my brother and I divided the tasks that needed to get done with him serving as point person for the coroner and funeral home and me dealing with all the legal stuff once I got home from the walk. To say that things are complicated would be an understatement. Aside from the swirl of emotions surrounding his death, there is also the financial hornet's nest that we are left to deal with. Earlier this year, my dad switched me from being executor of his will to just a backup, in the event that his tax attorney couldn't perform the job. Thank God he did that. Even without being the executor, the amount of paperwork I'm having to sort through and the information I'm having to provide the attorney is taking days to get through. We took a trip out to my dad's house in Arizona over the weekend, which was tough for a bunch of reasons that are just too much to post here. We came back with 6 file boxes of paperwork that needed to be sorted and organized before I could decided what needed to be copied and mailed to the attorney. I'm still in the middle of it and it's just draining.

In terms of the emotional fallout, it's been pretty low for me. With the exception of my outburst when I first found out, I haven't really been able to cry and deal with the emotional stuff. I think part of this is having to stay strong to deal with all the practical stuff and part of it is still being angry over what happened earlier this year and the mess that has been left. How calloused to be angry with someone who is no longer here, right. And yet, I can't stop ping-ponging between being so incredibly sad and so very angry, with a background anxiety that I can't shake at all. I also feel like my brain in a fog , which makes focusing difficult. And sleep. Ha! Haven't had a good night's rest in almost 2 weeks. I sleep, but it's light and I wake up a lot in the middle of the night and feel just as tired in the morning as I was when I went to bed. I'm sure a lot of this is just going to take time to sort through.

Originally, my mom was going to stay home for Thanksgiving because she had made plans with a family friend to hang out. Once we realized we'd need to make a trip out to Arizona that weekend, she came down early and we had a good little Thanksgiving dinner at the house, just the two of us. [Jim and my brother hung out with us in the morning, but we insisted they do they're normal dinner plans that afternoon.]Even in the fog that my brain is living in, I managed to pull together an honest to goodness traditional dinner in a few hours. With enough leftovers to eat on when we got back Saturday night. It was really nice to have a real holiday with her in the midst of all this, even if we did do it in our pajamas. :)

I'm back at work today, but it's hard getting back to the real world. I've been tucked in my little cocoon of family, our house, a few friends and the tv for so many days that it's hard getting back into the swing of things. For everyone that emailed, called, sent Facebook messages, etc, thank you so much. They mean a lot to me and I'm so grateful to have such warm and caring friends. There are still many that are unanswered and I swear I haven't forgotten about you, it's just taking me awhile to get to everything.

I'm trying to take things one day at time and just get through as much as possible each day. I know things will get better. I know that eventually all of the craziness will be worked out and I'll be able to actually grieve properly. But for now, I'm floating along, trying to keep everything in order and maintain some semblance of normalcy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

T Minus 2 days....

** A quick note about the last post. I'm glad that it was as coherent as it was because I was still really dopped up on Ambien when I wrote it. Why I decided to blog then is beyond me. The 2 hour layover in Newark is a blur as is the horrible turbulence we felt on the flight out. Drugs, I tell ya. **

The wedding was fun and I have pics to share, but it's going to have to wait til after this weekend. Why, you ask? Because this week has been devoted to final prep for the Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk which starts before sun up this Friday. Eeeeee!

I'm mostly packed, save for a few last minute things that need to be thrown in, I have my train ticket to SD and I'm ready to do this! I'm also mostly excited with a few nerves thrown in for good measure. I think I'll chalk the nerves up to the fact that it's a new experience and once I actually get out there, it should all disappear. Lastly, I'm worried that I'm going to be a sobbing mess here and there during the weekend, especially on the last day. I mean, really, I started tearing up during the safety video we had to watch to finish registering for the walk. Yeah, probably doesn't bode well for keeping the tears in check on the event itself.

Please keep Alyssa and I either in your prayers or your thoughts this weekend. The forecast is clear and I'm hoping for a great experience for us. :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Red eye fun

I'm blogging this at the Newark airport as we wait for our connection to New Hampshire. We took the red eye flight and I took an ambien to try and get some sleep. I'm not sure that I really slept, but I was definitely in a fog. So much so, that I'm sure I resembled a drunkard as I stmbled off the plane to get to our connection. The upside to the drug is that the flight seemed very short and the very cute, but potentially loud toddler sitting in front of me, didn't bother me in the least.

We're here the rest of the weekend for a friend's wedding and then back to sunny Cali on Sunday night. Should be a fun trip, except that I'm already tired and feeling a bit off. I'm sure the sleep meds have nothing to do with this ....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Project House

We've been in the house for a little over 4 months now and it's finally starting to feel like home. I think this is a combination of actually living here and continuing to add all those little finishing touches to make it feel like our home. The last couple of weeks, in particular, it's been all house stuff, all the time. I'm tired, but things are coming together really well.

Kitchen:
This room was basically good to go when we moved in... except for the terrible door handles and drawer pulls and the icky kitchen curtains. Blech! I found a dark oil-rubbed bronze set that is a little bit modern and a little bit traditional. Amazing how just changing out the hardware can change the whole look and feel of the room.

Before

After

The curtains were more difficult. For some reason, the only kitchen curtains I could find were either covered in fruit or had more ruffles than an Easter dress. Ugh. I wanted to get something up, so I settled on a cream cafe curtain. Not great, but better than what was there before.
Before

After


Living Room:
We started off with a good couch, tv stand and bookshelves, but we've recently added a rug, a new coffee table and side table. Those three things alone make the room so much cozier!
Before

After

With the temperature dropping, we picked up fireplace accessories so we could finally use our fireplace. Target had a simple, clean line collection that was not only inexpensive (dude, those screens can be $$$), but fit the style of the room well.

A few decorative pumpkins jumped into our cart, too. Aren't they cute?

In the future, we'd like to add a console table next to the front door and set up a reading nook in the corner of the room next to the picture window.

Enclosed Patio aka The Bar Area:
It's finally getting some character! Some wrought iron wall decor and tall dark wood candlesticks and voila -- it's starting to look pretty.

Master Bedroom:
During the summer the light that would stream in in the morning was awful. Curtains suddenly became a necessity. Not only are they useful, but I think they add a bit more interest to the room, no? Oh, and we finally got around to hanging that picture frame, too.

Guest Room:
This was formerly the kid's room and it was a horrible lilac color. So not us. We opted for a warm creamy-beige for the walls, which was a nice background for the dark funiture and deep red linens. I'm actually excited now to have people spend the night!
Before

After


Bathroom:
We only have one full bathroom and when we moved in it was soooo ugly. Dark blue-ish purple walls with tons of white tile, painted white cabinets and a faux marble counter. Ugh. I seriously cringed whenever I walked in. Since we feel like one of these days, we're going to do a major renovation of the bathroom, we opted to just change the paint and accessories to give the room a different feel. While the layout would still not be my first pick, it looks SO MUCH BETTER! The pictures don't do the transformation justice. The wall color is Cloud (a very light blue) from the Restoration Hardware Baby and Child line and the cabinets went from boring white to a rich dark brown. We swapped out the cabinet pulls for a matte silver that gives the room a more modern feel. Towels and accessories were a mix of good 'ol Tarjay and Lowe's. I absolutely love this room now. Love it!
Before

After



The last room that is undergoing huge facelift is our basement aka my home office/craft room. I'm still adding some finishing touches so I'll wait to post pictures, but let's just say that it's becoming a little slice of heaven for me. ;)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's a beautiful morning

I've got my first Peppermint Mocha of the season and I'm still enjoying the after-glow of the historic win by Barack Obama last night. Such a freaking great day!

A few personal thoughts from last night:

* I thought McCain's concession speech was really good. It felt like the first time we've seen the real McCain all campaign, which is a bit sad. I'm glad he went out on a positive note after a hard fought campaign.
* Palin still scares the crap out of me. I stand by the fact that she was the nail in McCain's proverbial coffin. I know a lot of folks for whom she was an absolute deal-breaker, which doesn't surprise me in the least. I truly hope that she is not the future of the Republican party.
* I was already aware of this, but OMG, how great of an orator is President Obama?!?! He is the perfect blend (at least for me) of pulpit-style rallying and eloquent speaker. It comes so natural for him, which is not an easy feat. I think that many Americans find his style comforting and I think this will bode well for him in the years to come.
* I feel so hopeful after last night's speech. Many parts of it brought me to tears as I felt like he was really speaking to each of us personally, charging all of us with helping him get this wonderful nation back on track. I'm excited, I'm hopeful and I can't wait to see how the next few months will unfold.
* It looks like Prop 8 will, in fact pass, which makes me sad. I'm fairly confident that it will eventually be over-turned by our courts, but what a sad day for many couples here in California. Sigh. I think we're definitely moving in the right direction as a country, but we're obviously not completely there yet.

Happy Hump Day everyone!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Weekend Recap...a week late and other tidbits

I haven't done one of these in a while and it was a good weekend so yeah, here's the recap way later than expected. Heh.

Friday
We made sort of last minute dinner plans with two other couples and headed out to Culver City to dine on Korean BBQ at Geynari. No pictures, as this group isn't quite as used to my blogging/picture taking ways, but the food was delicious. The conversation was even better especially seeing there was lots of good, fun news all around. It's a bummer that we all live so far apart, but we still know how to have a great time when we get together.

Saturday
Most of the morning and afternoon was spent hanging out at the house and recovering from the long week. That night, Wan picked me up and we headed off to a fun evening of singing with a bunch of crazy gals. Great recap with pics on WeeMo's blog. Such a fun night! I also got to finally meet Miss Diabolina, who is a complete sweetheart. Can't wait for next year's sing-a-long. :)

Sunday
So. Freaking. Lazy. That perfectly sums up the day. We slept in, we lounged around on the couch and watched a ridiculous amount of tv. We ate yummy food that was bad for us and basically did as little as possible. Eventually, we did venture out to Target to pickup some house necessities, but that was about it. Excellent way to end the weekend.

--------------

This week has been good as well. We've had painters here for most of the week, giving a much needed face-lift to several rooms in the house. A full pictorial to follow once they're done. Already it's looking fantastic, so I can't wait to see how good everything looks once we get finishing touches in there. Eeeee!

Have a safe and fun Halloween everyone!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Political Ramblings

I don't normally get into politics. It's not my thing and I often don't feel informed enough to discuss a lot of issues with others. However, like a lot of people, this election season has sucked me like never before. This was the first year I voted in the primaries and it will be the first time since high school I've voted in a presidential election.

I've watched the debates, I watch CNN's political coverage regularly and I've read a variety of blog entries about the candidates and various propositions that are on the ballot this November. All of this has really forced me to take a look at myself and what I believe in. To try and reconcile religious beliefs with the founding principles of this great nation. I've been struggling with these issues for weeks now, but I think that in that, I've grown. A lot.

I was raised in a Christian household and I'd say the principles of Christianity really shaped my childhood. Things were taught as being right or wrong, according to the Bible, with very little middle ground. I still hold onto a lot of this value system, but as I've gotten older, I've come to realize that the world often exists in shades grey. In addition, I've also come to understand the reasons for the separation of church and state and why this is so important.

Living in this country means I'm able to practice the religion I choose to and have the value system I have without fear of religious persecution. That also means that my neighbor gets to do the same, even if it's the polar opposite of what I believe. I respect that and am grateful for it. But, that also means we can't use one religion or one set of beliefs for the basis of all our laws. Let's take, for example, the issue of abortion. Personally, do I believe that it is right? No. My value system tells me otherwise. But, do I think it should be illegal? No. Besides the public health ramifications of such a move, there are also those pesky shades of grey again. What about rape victims? Incest victims? When the mother's health is at stake? Yeah, it gets sticky pretty quickly.

If we were ever to have kids, it would be up to us to teach them our value systems, not to rely on the country to have laws in effect that would prohibit behavior with which we don't agree. But, keeping abortion as the example, it'd start with topics that came waaay before that one. It'd start with sex, what that means, and everything that goes along with it. You know, that whole personal responsibility thing. It seems to have gone the way of the dodo bird in this country, but it's something we need to get back to and soon.

So, I guess this was a rambling way of saying that I've come to a place where I seem to have found a good balance between my religous beliefs and my political ones. It wasn't easy to get to, but I think I've learned a lot about myself in the process. And I'm hopeful for this country come November 4th. Let's hope it's a day that we turn a corner and start heading in the right direction again.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Animal Planet

When we bought our house, we knew part of the charm was its proximity to nature. The neighborhood is lush with foliage and the mountains are practically in our backyard. However, where there is foliage, there are also animals. Lots and lots of animals.

The Cuddly

Squirrels: I'm not ashamed to admit that the abundance of squirrels in the area was a huge selling point for us. We have two large trees in our front yard, which they use as their personal play things. We've seen them treat our pool as a watering hole, they bury nuts in our grass and are beyond funny when, during the heatwaves, they flop down on the tree branches with their little limbs hanging off either side. They're cute, cuddly and provide us with loads of entertainment without actually bothering us.

Birds: Okay, I know that most of you reading this aren't bird fans, but I am. I enjoy them and while we don't have a lot, we have enough to keep me happy. My personal favorite is the hummingbirds that are attracted to our Morning Glory plant in the backyard.

Bears: No, we haven't seen one yet. However, last summer there was documented instance of a very large bear that strolled down the street and into some driveways just a mile or so away from us. If I ever see this first-hand, in the words of Mr. Cosby, "first I'll say it, then I'll do it!" I'm cool with the squirrels drinking from our pool, but I'm not cool with a bear splashing around in it. You just gotta draw the line somewhere, you know?

Assorted Dogs and Cats: These don't technically count as part of "nature", but I run into a lot of them when I'm out "walking the earth" (as Jim likes to say) and they always put a smile on my face. That is, if they're not trying to bite my ankles....

The Ugly

Coyotes: Thankfully, we haven't seen them, but OMG, we've heard them alright! There are nights when they sound like they're just up the street from us. Our neighbor said that he has, in fact, seen them cruising down our street before and warned us to keep any small dogs and cats indoors in the evenings. Lovely.

Crickets: Sure, crickets seem harmless, but try sleeping at night when they're all rubbing their little legs together at the same time :/ We sleep with a fan for white noise, but even that didn't completely drown them out. But, the worst part? They're a freaking food source for...

The Down-Right Scary

Black Widows: Yeah, we had a TON of them outside our house. Crickets are like a buffet for them. We had a ton of crickets. You do the math. We kept seeing them in the same places and even after killing them, another would pop up in its place. One night, Jim went on a "hunt" to see how many were actually out there. He killed 18 and those were only the ones that he could catch before they skittered away. Ugh. Ugh. UGH! When the exterminator came out he was shocked! He sprays our next door neighbor's yard, but she doesn't have any. We, on the other hand, not only had black widows, but also brown widows! YAY! Thankfully, we've sprayed, they're gone for now and we've set up a bi-monthly regimen to keep them at bay. But still, so gross!

[Note: For those of you who have never seen a black widow and are wondering, "How do you actually know it's a black widow?" we wondered the same thing. Oh, but those little punks have this way of building their crazy ugly webs so that they hang upside down and you can see their bellies. They make it very clear what they are. I get all wigged out just thinking abou it.]

Bees: Sure they're nice when they're pollinating things and making honey, but after having been stung 3 times, I'm kind of not their biggest fans. So imagine my horror when I came home earlier this week and heard one of the trees in our front yard literally humming. I looked up and if there was one bee, there must have been at least a hundred. OMG! Can we stop with the icky creatures already?! I freaked out, obviously, but it seems as though they were swarming for the late afternoon and we thankfully haven't seen (or heard) them since. I'm still leery though. The next sign of them and the exterminator is so getting a call!

And that folks, are the benefits of living with Mother Nature as your next door neighbor! I know you're jealous ;)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Catch up

Behind in blogging again. Well, what else is new? ;) Let's do this bullet-style 'cuz it's just easier that way.

* I took a couple of weeks off from walking to sort of catch up on life, but I'm back at it. This past Monday, I popped some advil before going on a 14 mile walk because of cramps and well, that was a stupid idea. It masked some early signs that I was straining my hamstring, so by the time I knew there was a problem, it was really a problem and I could barely get back to my car. Lovely. Thankfully, it healed quickly and I'm back on track. Only 5 weeks til the big weekend!!

* I went to a book signing for Ferran Adria - the famous Spanish chef of El Bulli - last week and it was really cool. I bought his new book A Day at El Bulli and had him sign it. I tried to act professional, but instead I just stood there smiling like an idiot and saying "Thank you, it's a pleasure" over and over. The funny thing, my co-worker did the same thing! Yeah, we're lame. I'm guessing the fact that he only spoke Spanish threw me off my game a bit. It was still a freaking awesome experience!


* After the book signing, I met up with Wan for dinner. While the food was good, it was far surpassed by the company. We laughed til we cried... always makes for a good night.

* It's finally getting cooler at night so we bought a screen and tools for our fireplace. I had no idea my husband likes building a fire so much! He resembles a kid in a candy store when he starts one and then tends to it for hours. Too funny.

* I've been carving out more time for cooking, which is making me very happy. I've tried new recipes for lasgana, hoisin shrimp stirfry, artichoke and cheese stuffed chicken breast and a whole host of other yummy things. While takeout can be good, I was really missing the food that comes out of my kitchen.

* We attended a surprise birthday party for our friend Dubber over the weekend. His wife was worried that someone would spill the surprise, but no one did. Fun night of drinks and hanging out with friends.

* Saturday we went to the UCLA-Stanford game and tailgated with MoP and T-dogg. The group they tailgate with go all out for games. We noshed on chicken paninis, green salad, mac n cheese, chips and lots of booze and played beer pong (the hygenic version) in between eating and drinking. The game wasn't a disappointment either, as we got our 3rd win of the season - Yay! Still way under .500, but it's something at least.




And just like that, all caught up!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Last day in Vegas

Even after staying out super late, we were still up by 11am. Ugh, what is wrong with us?! We were determined to have breakfast which led us to the Canyon Ranch Spa Cafe at The Palazzo. Although the descriptions sounded good, we should have gone somewhere else as soon as we saw calorie counts on the menu. See, the food looks pretty, but the taste? Yeah, not so much. :/


After a less than thrilling meal, we headed back out to the pool. When we originally booked the trip a few weeks ago, we had planned on visiting the spa on Monday afternoon. But, after having such a good time at the pool the day before and not wanting to spend most of the day in separate rooms in the spa, we canceled our appointments. I think we made a really good choice. The afternoon was pretty much a repeat of the day before. We did manage to go back upstairs at a decent hour so we could do a little shopping and have a snack before dinner.

The shopping was mostly of the window variety, but let's talk about the snack. I didn't realize there was a Bouchon Bakery in The Venetian until reading the blurb about it on the receipt from dinner the night before. And once I saw that, we had to stop there. There were a ton of options to pick from and they all looked soooo good. The best part was the taste totally trumped their looks! Absolutely, positively delicious!! Jim opted for a cheese danish and I had a carrot cake cookie with cream cheese filling. ::drool:: Even the coffee was out of control yummy. For this die hard Starbucks girl, quite frankly, it blew Starbucks coffee out of the water. I would seriously keep the place in business if there was one close to us.


We finally made our way to dinner around 8pm. And what was the choice for the third anniversary dinner? Carnevino! We really enjoyed the restaurant when we ate there in February during their soft-opening, but this visit confirmed it for us -- it's our favorite restaurant in Vegas, hands down!

While making our reservations, I let them know that we were celebrating our anniversary (no, I didn't tell them it was dinner #3, ha!) and we were greeted warmly when we initially checked in. We were presented with menus and as were were figuring out what to order, the sommelier came by, asked us how we were doing (great!) and then said "Well, why don't we make it even better." And yes, prosecco does in fact, make everything better!

We noshed on rosemary bread and fresh out of the oven asiago cheese puffs while we waited for our appetizer and they were delish.

For our appetizer, we split a half portion of the Gnocchi Bolognese. Best.bolognese.sauce.ever. I've already downloaded the recipe for it. Yeah, it'll take me all day to make (and then some), but at some point this winter, it's gonna happen.

The main entree was a no-brainer for us -- steak! Jim's New York steak last time was deemed the best steak either one of us have ever tasted, so we both ordered it this time. And yeah, it didn't disappoint. I actually watched Jim take his first bite and his eyes literally rolled back in his head. For sides, we ordered spinach with hot peppers (still looking for that recipe) and "Tuscan Fries", basically fingerling potatoes that are roasted, then quickly fried, then tossed with garlic, parmesan and parsley. They were even better than they sound.


We spent the mealing moaning and groaning our approval. It was one of those meals that you just couldn't eat in silence. After we stuffed ourselves to the brim, our waiter came over and wanted us to try a special muscat dessert wine that they offer. Just a sip, no obligation to buy. The color was much deeper than most muscat wines I've had and the flavor was so smooth. I took one sip and Jim said "Yeah, she'll have a glass." Ah, he knows me so well. :)

In addition, we also ordered a trio of fresh sorbets - huckleberry, grape and pear - that came with a special message from the kitchen.

The bottom line is the meal was absolutely fabulous! We really love everything about this restaurant including the staff and the space itself. It's pricey, yes, but so worth it. <3 <3 <3

The rest of the night was spent playing on the casino floor. We split another cigar (not as good as the first one, but still enjoyable) and playing some slot machines. Jim likes video poker while I prefer the penny slots. We even went back to a hot machine Chaz had played earlier in the trip and I took a $25 slot credit and turned it into $50 on the machine. Wheeee!

Once we tired of being on the casino floor, we wandered back over to Lavo and had a drink at the bar. We learned that they are now serving absinthe in the US, but it's different from the one in Europe as it doesn't have the same hallucinogenic properties. After we finished our cocktails, it was time to call it a night. The trip was so much fun, but it was time to head back to reality the next morning. :(

Bye Vegas, we'll miss you and can't wait to visit again soon.

Note: I was so obsessed with Bouchon Bakery that I insisted we go back Tuesday morning to get breakfast and a box of goodies to go. I had a chocolate croissant that rivaled once we had in France. As for the goodies-to-go, I worked on those for several days at home. The brownie bites were fabulous, the macaroon was good (not great), but the foccacia was the real winner. Topped with tomato, basil and goat cheese it was huge and so delicious! I cannot wait to go back!!

Boo/Yay!

It's been a long week. I'm guessing I'm not the only one that feels that way. So, to close it out, I feel like pulling a page from Wan's patented Yay/Boo style blog posts, but let's reverse it so we end on a happy note, 'kay?

Boo: After a meeting at work on Tuesday, I was told a project I've been working on for months, but that kept getting stalled for one reason or another was going live on Thursday... but the final prep work wasn't finished yet.
Yay: This project has been languishing for months, so it's good to get it done already.

Boo: In order to get the remaining prep work done and the project rolled out appropriately, I needed to get to the office at 6am on Thursday and Friday, meaning the alarm went off at 4:30am. :/
Yay: Since I was already running early, I stopped at Starbucks both mornings for their new Signature Hot Chocolate. Sooooo good!!

Boo: Having extended hours at the office this week has put a real cramp in my walking schedule seeing as how it's getting dark so much earlier now.
Yay: I took advantage of the extra time at home in the evening to make yummy teriyaki chicken and rice using Thatgirl's recipe.

Boo: I had to put in over 11 hours on Thursday, all of which was spent working on databases, which don't run fast enough to keep the process going quickly nor slow enough to give you enough time to go work on something else while it's loading.
Yay: I had pre-existing dinner plans with some of my awesome co-workers for dinner at Din Tai Fung and we didn't have to cancel them. It was a really fun treat after a long day (and led to lots of laughing when we wondered what the staff were thinking with the lone white girl at the table doing the ordering while my asian co-workers let me go at it).

Boo: There were a multitude of fires that had to be put out today that led to some not fun exchanges with a few co-workers.
Yay: Some people really surprised me by being very helpful with the project and supportive of all the work that had gone into it.

Happy Friday everyone and have a good weekend!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

All you need is Love

Sunday morning rolled around and Jim thought it would be a good idea to get up at 9am. Um, no. I lazed around in bed until we both fell back asleep and when we woke up for good, it was after 11am. Much better.

We changed into our suits and headed down for some food and pool time. We opted to eat at Riva, a casual dining cafe by Wolfgang Puck, next to the pools at The Venetian. The only downside to waking up that late is that even in Vegas, the poolside cafes stop serving breakfast at noon. Boooo. We had to settle for lunchtime goodies, a club sandwich for Jim and a burger with balsamic onion marmalade for me. Both came with a heap of fries and mini condiments - so cute! Jim enjoyed his sandwich and my burger was awesome. The white cheddar and onion marmalade gave it so much flavor, much more than I was expecting.



After lunch, we made our way back to the Palazzo pools and settled in on lounge chairs for a few hours. We read, we had a couple of drinks, we went in the pool - basically it was just a lazy afternoon in the super hot sun. Around 3pm, we headed in to get ready for the evening festivities. Since we were skipping lunch and it would be awhile til dinner, we stopped for a snack. Gelato is so yummy!

We have talked about seeing a show in Vegas forevah and this trip we finally made it happen.

The lobby of the theater was very cool.

I would have taken pictures inside the theater, but the big warning on the tickets made me think twice. In hindsight, I'm glad I wasn't worried about taking pictures and instead just sat back and enjoyed the show. It was fabulous! If you've ever seen a Cirque show, you know they're a bit wacky and this one was no different. But, since the real focus was on the music (of which, the arrangements were done so well) the wackiness was toned down a bit. There was a ton of different dance styles - everything from hip hop to modern - and tons of rope tricks. Our favorite number was to "Something (in the way she moves)" with 1 guy in the middle doing modern dance with 4 girls dressed in white on wires doing lyrical dance all around him. Just stunning. Our favorite trick was 4 girls that were pulled up from the bottom of the stage on ropes. The catch? They were sitting in a perfect lotus style with nothing but a rope wrapped around one leg to keep them upright. Even Jim turned to me and said that he didn't think people got just how difficult/cool that really was. We both highly recommend this to anyone who is a fan of The Beatles or Cirque de Soleil.

We danced our way out of the theater with the rest of the crowd and headed back across the street to The Venetian for dinner.

I had heard that the restaurant was good, not outstanding, but I still had to try it. I mean, it is a Keller restaurant, after all. The place wasn't packed when we got there for our late reservation and yet somehow, they still gave us a crappy table. I should have asked to be moved, but I just chickened out. Oh, and we are fairly certain that our waiter had a faux french accent. It took all we had not to call him out on it. Lame-o.

But, what about the food, you say? It was a mixed bag. To start, Jim ordered the Squash Salad (a special for the evening) and I had the mixed greens salad with goat cheese and herbs de provence. Jim's salad was just meh at best. My salad was awesome though. Simple, yes, but executed really well and the flavors were delicious.

For the main course, Jim went with another special - smoked sturgeon with cippolini onions and fingerling potatoes. Just okay. I guess the sauce was throwing things off, but once he took that off, he thought it was better. The bite I had was alright, but nothing special. I ordered the salmon with sauteed chard, red onion confit, english cucumber and buckwheat crepes. There was a lot going on, but it all worked really well together. The salmon was cooked perfectly and it all just tasted really good.


For dessert, we opted for the profiteroles, which were yummy. But really, can you screw up cream puffs with chocolate sauce? I guess someone could, but these were done really well.

All in all a good dinner. But our best dinner (and a pretty damn amazing snack) was yet to come.

Dinner ended and it was still before 11pm. I checked my phone while Jim used the restroom and saw that Vino, Spurs, Dressing Queen and some of their family were at the Wynn having drinks on the outdoor patio and that if we had time we should join them. She also mentioned something about seeing Daniel Boulud and that she hoped we had dinner at his brasserie and that we got to see him, too. (What a crummy night to eat at Bouchon!)

We high-tailed it over to the Wynn and settled in for drinks. Conversation was had, alcohol was consumed. Quite the typical scene for us all. Spurs and Vino looked so happy, but also tired. And who can blame them? It had been a long week for them. We had a good time watching the crazy watershow and making time for a quick pic.

Around this point, Jim and I got a second wind and decided to check out the new club at The Palazzo called Lavo since we had a card for ladies to get in free. They tout themselves as a "restaurant, bathhouse and nightclub." Mmm, okay. We got in quickly and made our way through the "restaurant" portion before going upstairs to the "nightclub". On our way up, we saw parts of the bathhouse:

Yes, those sinks had running water the whole time. We hoped they were just like a fountain system and that somehow the water was recycled. We also couldn't get over how that set up was just begging for someone to use those sinks for unintended purposes. I mean, seriously, how often do you think they'll have to "sanitize" those bad boys? [/rant]

Once we got up to the dance floor, the place was hoppin'. The DJ was awesome, the crowd was energetic and our drinks were yummy. Even though we're old and didn't really dance, instead opting to hangout on the side, we still had fun.

At this point, I was pretty sober, so it was fun to watch all the super drunk folks and how quickly security would descend on them and whisk them out the back door. We also found the addition of a saxaphonist on the go-go dancing stage during one set interesting.

Later in the night, as they were running out of songs, they played "Footloose". This resulted in all the white folks dancing like crazy people and everyone else just looking around with a "WTF? How the hell do we dance to this" expression on their face, go-go dancers included. Jim and I were cracking up as they played this at Vino and Sporty's weddings and everyone went nuts. :P

Finally, around 3am, we called it a night.