November 20, 2008

Diet Coke Cupcakes

All you need is boxed cake mix and diet pop, then follow baking directions on box. I'm told any kind works. I used a can of diet Coke and Devil's Food Cake mix. I was skeptical, but the cake is moist and tasty. Great way to cut some calories and fat.

From baking

From baking

From baking

November 17, 2008


Frank took my car to Jiffy Lube to get the oil changed. They changed the oil and then crashed it into the wall. The attendant wasn't paying attention, he left it in reverse and hopped out. It rolled back until the wall stopped it. Nice, huh? Frank worked out the details and had them sign an agreement that they'd pay for all repairs and a rental car. Then, they had the nerve to want to charge for the oil change. Unreal. Frank took my car to a collision repair shop, they said it'll likely take two weeks to make the repairs. He walked over to Enterprise from there, they gave him a Dodge Nitro. Here's hoping they do a good job fixing my car.

For whatever reason I cannot have a car free of accidents. This is my fifth incident. Not once was I at fault. Two occasions the other driver had no insurance, so I was left to live with the damage or foot the bill. I lived with the damage. I refuse to be screwed again. This better be resolved and hassle free.

Shooting fun

From Shooting fun

Yesterday, we headed out to the trails near the house to do some shooting. Along the way we spotted the above Nissan. It was recently torched, we checked for a VIN, but it wasn't visable.

We found a place to shoot. And set up our first target, a Dell Computer. We loaned it to Frank's uncle a few years ago, it finally died and he returned it. Frank wanted to see how it stood up to gunfire.

From Shooting fun

Those cases are pretty tough, the first few bullets did not penetrate to the otherside.

From Shooting fun

I took my shots and finally broke through in the bottom corner.

From Shooting fun

Here's a bullet that didn't make it through.

From Shooting fun

After taking our shots with the Glock, Frank switched to the shotgun

From Shooting fun

Then we brought out a phonebook. We were curious how far the bullet would penetrate that. It goes right through it.

From Shooting fun

The shotgun didn't make nearly as far, but it does more damage

From Shooting fun

From Shooting fun

Next, we wondered if a 9mm bullet would go through three phonebooks

From Shooting fun

It does not, it stopped shy in the third book around S.

From Shooting fun

After that, Frank made confetti

From Shooting fun

Then the sun began to set, so we cleaned up our mess and headed back home.

From Shooting fun

From Shooting fun

Honey Cookies

It's been a while since I baked, so Saturday I whipped up a half batch of honey cookies. They are likely the best sugar cookie I've tasted, but they are very sweet.

From baking
From baking

From baking

1 1/3 cups oil
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup honey
4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups flour
Sparkly sugar or Turbinado sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, stir together oil, sugar, eggs, honey, baking soda, salt and vanilla. Mix well, then stir in the flour, stirring just until it is mixed in.

Shape the cookies into balls about ¾ to 1 inch in diameter and roll them in sparkly sugar (or Turbinado). Place 2 ½ inches apart on ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes. They should be nicely browned around the edges, crackly and golden.

Makes 7 dozen.

November 14, 2008

Big Spender

Last night, Frank and I were relaxing in the hot tub, basking in the moonlight, cigar and beer in hand. He questioned what I had in mind for our week off. He surprised me; he'll be off the whole week of Thanksgiving with me, instead of just the weekend. I told him I planned to finish painting, he interrupted with a big OR we could head to Mesquite or Laughlin for a couple days. I grinned and said I'd rather go to Laughlin. There's more to do, I like the river, the outlet mall, and we haven't been there since we moved (from there). We didn't have the same fun living there as we did on our quick touristy jaunts. So, I'm looking forward to revisiting those days - the ones filled with cheap blackjack and craps, penny slots, full-pay video poker and many free-flowing cocktails.

I checked rates this morning. I booked the Colorado Belle. Yeah, it's old, dingy, and smells a little funny, but we like it. Or should I say, we liked it, we haven't stayed there since Marnell took it over from MGM/Mirage. I doubt it's changed much. Can you guess how much our lovely two night stay will be? Give up? Nine dollars a night! Grand total with tax was $20.22. Yep, we’re big spenders.

November 13, 2008

Plan C

All my hopes didn’t pan out. We are not going to Mexico. We can’t afford it, if we went we’d just add to the pile of debt we’ve accrued this year. We tossed around the idea of going to San Diego, instead. But the trip would cost only a few hundred dollars less than Mexico. At that rate we mine as well go to Mexico. Rather than acting on our impulses, we acted responsibly and completely nixed traveling.

Our last thought was to getaway in our own backyard. Finally, we have a winning idea. We’ll stay at the Signature for two nights, found a site that offers suites for $89/night; we’ll relax, order room service and enjoy a couple great meals by taking advantage of fall tasting menus. I’m interested in trying Fiamma and giving Craftsteak another try.

I’ll only need two days off for this excursion; that left three vacation days remaining. I opted to take those, the days leading up to Thanksgiving. That will allow me to stay home for a full week. I’ll be able to finish up some home projects, likely get started on others, bake and still set aside time to unwind. Frank plans to take Thanksgiving weekend off, as well. It’s been a few years since we’ve spent the holiday together. That will be nice. However, I’m not sure what our plans entail. I offered to host dinner, but my mom injured her back a few weeks ago. She hasn’t been able drive or handle a long car ride. So, we’ll play it by ear; hopefully she’ll be well enough to make the drive by then.

November 12, 2008

Aliante Station Opening

Yesterday, Station Casinos opened their eleventh property. Scheduled opening 11/11 at 11:11pm, cute, huh? We arrived at 10pm we wanted to catch the firework display. Traffic was backed up on the 215 and it was slow going getting into the property. We caught most of the display from the street in the car. The rest we saw from the parking garage. It was a great show. We were allowed in before 11pm. We toured the banquet rooms, the hotel lobby, and the casino. Staff was friendly. The casino was nice and the parking garage had a great design. I doubt we will be back, it's a haul, but those that live in the area will love it. We played video poker and tried our luck on penny slots, hoping for good fortune like when South Coast opened. But no royals or jackpots for us, we took the regular Station's beating.

Check out photos and video of the fireworks in the link below:
Aliante Station Photo Album

November 7, 2008

Forget Elmo, Hannah Montana or Transformers

Save yourself the cash and get a stick for the ankle biter on your Christmas list. According, to this article a stick made the National Toy Hall of Frame. I’d argue and say it should be the card board box, but then I saw it was inducted a previous year. It got me thinking about other favorite toys. Sure my Cabbage Patch kids (Donna Kelly and Cara Ann), My Little Ponies, and Barbies were fun. But my favorite toys were my Smurf Big Wheel

From retro

I’d ride my big wheel for hours, do spinouts and when I’d get tired, I’d flip it upside-down and make ice cream. Why ice cream? I have no idea, but I’m sure you did it too.

And my Sit N' Spin. I never tired of making myself dizzy. Which brings me to my favorite non-toy toys, eventually I outgrew my Sit N’ Spin. Not the spinning, I just literally outgrew the toy. No worries, I found new joy with an old 70’s dining chair that was stored in our basement. I’d spin myself until I’d cling to the back of the chair. No wonder I loved the Gravitron, years later, at carnivals.

Couch cushions! They could be anything, you could make a mountain, a soft landing for super skilled jumps, or you could grab sheets and make a fort. Hours of entertainment, I tell ya.

Bubble wrap was another fun way to kill sometime. Some how the 52nd pop was just as fun as the first one. My oddest non-toy was an ironing board. It raised and lowered for whatever I needed it for. I remember using it as a grocery store check-out counter most often. I’d set up a cash register at the end of it, and ring up goods over and over again.

There's no doubt the over-sized cardboard box was the best. I’d play house inside of it until the walls would weaken. Then, I take it outside and roll around inside of it. Great times.

November 4, 2008

Election day!

Martha Stewart can’t vote, but you can. I voted last week, but it’ll be interesting to see the true numbers roll in today. I’m tired of speculation, the hubbub, the phone calls and mailings, I'm ready for the campaign trail to end. I wonder how long it’ll be before we know who our next president will be.

Today is also my nephew’s 2nd birthday. Happy birthday, Nicky!!! It seems like yesterday Amy and I were wondering what he’d look like or what his voice would sound like. Fun to imagine, but it’s a true joy to know. I wish I were with them today to celebrate.

I heard Nicky had fun trick or treating. They paid my in-laws a visit; it was one of the first houses they stopped at. They were invited in and they visited for a bit before carrying on their way. After that, Nicky wanted to go into everyone’s house.

I had one little girl dressed as a princess that wanted to come inside my house while I handed her brother and sister their candy. There was another little boy dressed at Woody (from Toy Story) that was cute as can be. He tried with all his might to reach my door bell and he wouldn't leave until he got it. It was a fun night. We had about 60 trick or treaters. We had quite a bit of candy left over so the kids that came during the last hour received large handfuls.

The rest of the weekend was pretty quiet. Weather turned cooler, the 90’s are gone for good, I'm pretty certain the 80’s are too, hopefully the 70’s hang around for a long time. I don’t want to deal with temperatures chillier than that. I never thought this summer got too hot, so I’m afraid I’m going to FREEZE this winter. I’m not looking forward to it.

I only tried one new recipe over the weekend. It was for parmesan knots. An easy and tasty way to liven up refrigerated dough.

2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Dash pepper
1 (12 ounce) can refrigerated buttermilk biscuits

In a small bowl, combine oil, cheese, parsley, oregano, garlic powder and pepper; set aside.

Cut each biscuit in half. Roll each portion into a 6-in. rope; tie in a loose knot. Place on greased baking sheets.

Bake at 450 degrees F for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown; immediately brush with the Parmesan mixture. Serve warm or freeze for up to 2 months.