Busy bee

June 30, 2008
Time sure flies when you're busy. Let’s see what’s been going on…

Thursday, we had dinner with Frank’s uncles and his parents at Village Pub. I was pleased to learn that they serve up ribs just as tasty as Ellis Island’s on Thursdays. The cost is a couple dollars more $13.99 for full slab, but there’s no ridiculous wait or in my case no drive across town. There’s a Village Pub within walking distance of the house. Tasty and convenient - can’t beat that.

Friday, the in-laws went back to Chicago. All in all, we had a nice visit. Also, my replacement printer from Kodak arrived [back in December, I bought a camera, part of the deal was a free 5100 Kodak printer. We didn’t open the box until we moved, when we set it up it wouldn’t work, it had print head issues. Three print head kits later, it still didn’t work so customer service finally sent out a new one]. I set it up and I was thrilled to see it worked.

Saturday morning, I was back at McCarran to pick up my mom. She had a draining trip; we visited at my house and went through my grandma’s things that she brought back with her. We also sorted through old pictures. Most of which I had never seen. It was neat to hear old stories and reminisce; it was a healthy way for us to look back at my grandma’s life since there were no official services. I kept the pictures and told my mom I’d scan them for her. We had lunch at Viva El Taco, a small taco shop much like the Roberto’s chain. However, the carne asada was better. I didn’t come across a single fatty piece in my entire burrito. I’ve shied away from Roberto’s lately because of poor quality of meat. Needless to say, I was happy with Viva El Taco and I look forward to trying more items. I saw they offered tacos al pastor. I’m sure I’ll get that next time. The rest of the day and night were spent in the pool and spa, with a break in between for dinner – baby swiss cheeseburgers on the grill.

Sunday, I was up bright and early. I scanned my grandma’s pictures for my mom. Talk about breaking in the new printer, but it handled it like a champ. Once Frank was moving about, we headed out to Sears. We needed a leaf blower and power washer. Luckily, both were on sale, we also picked up a Craftsman tool set. Our former set is missing a bunch of items because they’ve broke over the last eight years. We figured Craftsman was a good investment since the tools are guaranteed for life. We were in and out, and $600 poorer when we left. We grabbed lunch at Jersey Mike’s and headed to the condo to pick up our fish. They survived the move just fine, although, they’re currently in a 20 gallon tank, I bet they'll be happy to move back into their 55 gallon home once we get it set up. We took an afternoon swim before getting started on yard work. Frank cut the grass (we bought a push-mower right after we moved in) I’ve gotta admit for a small yard, it does the trick. I’m quite impressed. I weeded and pruned the plants, trees and bushes in the front yard. Frank broke out the leaf blower and cleaned up the perimeter of the yard. I got started on weeding and pruning the backyard, only managed to get about half complete before the sun began to set. We did all this without realizing it was the hottest day of the year thus far. We didn’t know until we tuned into the eleven o’clock news. We grilled up BBQ chicken for dinner and then set out to Whole Foods for a few tasty treats. We picked up beef and chicken kabobs, chicken satay, asparagus, latkes, salami and cheese. We tried to behave and not go overboard, but somehow we managed to spend $100. I don’t know how people can shop there as their main grocery store. If we did, our monthly bill would be thousands of dollars.

As always the weekend was much too short. I’m looking forward to my four day week and long holiday weekend.

Bright light city...

June 25, 2008
We had another highly enjoyable meal at Seablue on Monday night. We ordered chilled gulf shrimp to start – Scrumptious, as always. Each of them created their own salad, all were unique and delicious. Frank’s parents had scallop skewers and cod. Frank and I chose halibut with lentils and rice, and asparagus. Everything is always light and fresh, it’s perfection.

Yesterday, the in-laws baked lasagna and made meatballs. That was a tasty treat. There’s plenty leftover so we’ll be feasting on it again today.

Last night, Frank and I attempted to hang our hammock in the sunroom, but a circuit blew when Frank drilled the first hole. Not sure if we hit electrical wires or if the power of the drill caused it. It took us nearly 40 minutes to locate our circuit breaker box. We eventually came across it outside on the side of the house behind some vines. Very strange, anyone could walk up and turn off our power. We made a note to buy a lock. We flipped the breaker, and power returned to the sunroom. However, we no longer felt like messing with it and we decided to hop into the pool instead.

An hour or so passed and we were all in the spa, when the entire neighborhood lost power. There were two failed surges to return power, but we were left in darkness. Neighbors flocked to the streets, Frank and his mom drove around to see how much area was affected; it was a few blocks in either direction covering our entire subdivision. The outage lasted about an hour. We lit a candle and ate ice cream to pass the time. It was odd; it’s been years since I’ve been without power for more than a couple minutes. Power outages just don’t happen often. I figure there must have been an accident that took out some of Nevada Power’s equipment. Even with the loss of power and lack of moon light, the skies sure were bright; it’s amazing how much light floods the sky from the glow of the strip.

Potato Ridge Photos

June 23, 2008
(Click photos for full size images)

Scenic Views



A cloudy day - Ha!



Additional scenic views





The part where the trail is washed out





Misc. house photos

The start of my Vegas memorabilia room: photos, matchbooks and room keys on display (Click photos for full size images)




Living room is sloooowly coming together.




Pool and spa at night.


Randomness

First, my grandma passed away early Friday evening. All five of her kids were there with her in her final hour. She was the strongest woman I ever knew. Her first husband passed away when my mom was two. She was left to raise three boys and two girls on her own. When all the kids were grown and moved out of the house, she remarried and moved to Wisconsin. I have vivid memories of visiting Gordon and her. Gordon passed away when I was 7 or so. My grandma returned to Illinois. It was nice to see her regularly. She’d liked to bake, she was an avid gardener and enjoyed crafts. She made sweet pickles like no other, among other tasty goodies. She will be missed.

The in-laws are still visiting; they’ll be heading home on Friday. We’ve had fun and some good times, but we’re looking forward to getting our new home back to ourselves.

Saturday we took them out to the Potato Ridge trail outside of Red Rock Canyon. They had an enjoyable time. They preferred the easy well marked portions of the trail compared to the parts that were washed out by floods a few years back. Those areas are among Frank and my favorite since we really enjoy rock crawling. I have photos to share, I plan to get those posted later today.

We ordered a Sirius Radio home dock. It arrived Friday and we've been listening to commercial free tunes ever since. It's wonderful.

Frank I have been living in Las Vegas for five years now. Amazing how time flies. We've accomplished quite a bit in a short time. We love the life we've created for ourselves here. Relocating from Chicago proves to be one of the greatest decisions we've ever made.

We ordered a hammock from Mexico. It should’ve shipped last week, but there was an error with the shipping address. Frank ventured to North Las Vegas this morning and picked it up at Fed Ex. I can’t wait to get it hung. I see a lot of siestas in our future.

Tonight the in-laws will be treating us to dinner at Seablue. We haven’t dined there since April (far too long), we are really looking forward to the meal.

Early bird catches the worm

June 18, 2008
So they say, anyways… I’m just damn tired. I woke up at 4 o’clock this morning so I could take my mom to the airport. She was on the first flight to Chicago. The hospice nurse notified the family yesterday that my grandma didn’t have much longer. Death rattle has settled in, she’s in and out, mostly out and naps all the time. Hopefully she’ll hang on long enough for my mom to visit, but pass soon enough that she won’t suffer.

Looking to the Brightside, the early morning sky was graced by a beautiful sunrise. Hues of yellow, pink and orange painted the sky and mountains in the distance. The temperature was a perfect 80 degrees, traffic was light, the city was quiet -- It was remarkably serene.

Off to a good start

June 17, 2008
I managed to stay awake and survive the frozen tundra (aka. my office) yesterday. Stepping outside into the 105 heat never felt so good. The toasty drive home was quite enjoyable, I was able to defrost.

I did dishes and laundry before we headed to the airport to pick up the in-laws. We made great time to McCarran, 6 minutes via 215. Nice! Their flight arrived on time so we were in and out, and on to the Mirage for dinner at Stack in no time.

Dinner did not disappoint. It's been way too long since we've enjoyed a fine meal. We shared all kinds of goodies, the following was ordered: Caesar salad, hot rocks, pigs in a blanket, bone-in cowboy steak, surf & turf, lamb shank, petite filet, adult tater tots, twice baked potato, and whipped potatoes. Everything was great! Frank's parents enjoyed every bite, as well. We skipped dessert, since we gorged ourselves. However, we stopped at Carnegie Deli to grab cookies to go.

From the Mirage we headed home. We gave his parents the tour of the house and then we hit the pool, followed by time in the spa. They had an excellent first night in Vegas.

Zzz…Zzzz…

June 16, 2008
I am so sleepy! The a/c is blasting in the office today. Unlike most people, cold air actually makes me more tired than if it’s warm. The chill makes me want to curl up and nap. I’m fighting off sleepiness with every yawn, I need to wake up or this is going to be a long day.

My cleaning spree continued through the weekend. Frank worked long hours Friday and Saturday, which allowed me to get quite a bit done. Saturday I went by the condo and got that place sparkling. Amazing how quickly I zipped through there, a definite upside to minimal square feet is less area to clean. After a couple hours, I returned to the house to continue my mission. I didn’t wrap up until 8:30 last night. There’s a few ceiling fans I didn’t get to in the living room and sun porch, but the house is as clean as it will be for the next ten days.

Frank's parents come in at 5:30. Frank wants to have dinner tonight at Stack. Of course, that sounds fantastic! We cashed in our MGM reward points so we'll only have to shell out a little coin. It'll be a nice treat.

Life is good!

June 13, 2008
Dinner was a hit, last night. The pork was tender, juicy and citrusy. I feel rewarded when recipes are a success. I had a string of bad ones for a bit there, but this makes three good recipes in a row. I’d like to see the successes continue. We had another rough night, we swam, and then wasted away in the spa smoking a cigar and drinking a few cervezas. We’re ecstatic over the house and new routines. It feels like we’re on vacation each night after work. Ahhh, yes, life is good!

Grilled Lemon Herb Pork Chops

INGREDIENTS
• 1/4 cup lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 6 (4 ounce) boneless pork loin chops

DIRECTIONS
1. In a large resealable bag, combine lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt, oregano, and pepper. Place chops in bag, seal, and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. Turn bag frequently to distribute marinade.
2. Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat. Remove chops from bag, and transfer remaining marinade to a saucepan. Bring marinade to a boil, remove from heat, and set aside.
3. Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill pork chops for 5 to 7 minutes per side, basting frequently with boiled marinade, until done.

25 Questions

June 12, 2008
1) What was the last CD you listened to? Majority of my music is ripped, I think I have 5 real cds, the one listened to last was likely Steve Miller Band’s Greatest Hits.

2)Do you have Tivo? If yes, what shows do you record? My old dvr holds 50 season passes, we’re maxed out. I haven’t tinkered around with the dvr to see if that number has increased. Not much good tv is on these days, with fx and hbo series on hiatus. At least, next week, Showtime comes through with Weeds and Bullshit. They’re also premiering a new show, so we’ll check that one out, too. Others in the current rotation are 30 days, First 48, Cobert Report, Dirty Jobs, and Jon & Kate + 8. I have a weakness for the organized chaos.

3) What book is currently on the nightstand? Finished my books, but the last 6 months of Maxim is waiting to be read.

4) What was the last DVD you watched? Knocked up? It was back in Laughlin. In Vegas, we rely on PPV, since we haven’t bought a HD dvd player.

5) What was the last thing you purchased online? Show tickets, I think.

6) If you were given $50,000 and told that you had to use it on a new vehicle, what would you buy? Assuming that it has to be new and not just new to me, I’d like a new Challenger SRT8. Otherwise, I’d like to pick up a restored Chevelle or two.

7) If you were given $50,000 and told you could use it on anything, what would you spend it on? I’d pay off the Trans Am and my Impala, pay off the credit card, add some to savings to cover a trip to Italy for when the dollar improves, and the rest would be spent updating the house. Everyday, I find something new I want to add/change.

8) If you were given ten days of vacation to go anywhere you want, all expenses paid, where would you go? Italy

9) If you could attend one major sporting event, which one would it be?
Seeing the White Sox clinch the division a few years back was a memory of a lifetime, it’d only get better if it were a World Series clincher.

10) What was the last alcohol you purchased?
two 6-packs of Pacifico

11) The last time you went out for breakfast, where did you go? Original Pancake House. Lunch? Buffalo Wild Wings. Dinner? Amore.

12) Favorite fast food joint? There are only 2 fast food places I’ll eat: In-N-Out and Carl’s Jr. for their $6 burger.

13) Which modern technology baffles you the most? texting

14) If you could live like a hippie, following a band around on tour, which band would it be? I love music, but I wouldn’t want to live that life.

15) Which do you own more of--purses or shoes? I own 3 purses and I have about 3x more shoes.

16) What was the last thing you bid for on Ebay? Wedding stuff, over four years ago.

17) Do you have a secret crush on anyone? No, and my celebrity crushes are widely known: Carmen Electra and Julian McMahon.

18) If you could go back in time 25 years and give yourself some advice, what would it be? 25 years ago, I was 3. Don’t think I would’ve understood anything more than cartoons and my dollies. My only regret is that we bought property in Laughlin; I wish we would’ve rented. Learning first hand that purchasing property isn’t always an investment was a costly lesson.

19) When was the first time you got high? Freshman year

20) Who was the last person you sent flowers to? My grandma

21) What was the last foreign country you visited? Mexico

22) If you could host a Jon Favreau-style dinner party, that would be filmed and broadcast on cable, who would your four guests be? And where would you dine? Martin Scorsese, Ted Nugent, Lisa Lampanelli, and Ginger Lynn... can you imagine the stories going around that table? I’ve only been to Cut (Palazzo) once, so it’s a bit premature to suggest it as a sure thing, but I’ll go with it anyway.

23) Do you have any weird food habits? None that come to mind, but when I was a kid. I never knew you were supposed to eat the crust of a sandwich, I thought it was there to keep the bread fresh (I learned by example, my mom still does not eat crust today).

24) Which company has made you suffer the most, customer-service wise? Toss up between Southwest Gas and Nevada Power. If other players ever break up the monopoly I’d be willing to pay higher rates to avoid either company.

25) If you had the chance to pelt one public figure with garbage and rotten fruit without getting caught, which one would it be? Nancy Grace, her presence is 10x worse than nails on a chalk board.

The Latest

The new place is beginning to feel like home. I still have a few rooms left to clean and organize, but we’re settling in. We’ve quickly fell into a routine after work with of a few laps in the pool, dinner on the grill, followed by relaxation time in the spa. I manage to squeeze in random chores between the fun stuff. It’s a tough life, but someone has to do it.

Let me tell you, the grill is the greatest thing since peanut butter and chocolate. We went far too long without the luxury. We can whip up dinner in no time now, and there’s less clean up. We’ve had BBQ pork chops, cheddarwurst, cheeseburgers, BBQ Chicken, and Italian Sausage, so far. Tonight’s dinner is a new recipe for lemon herbed pork chops. I mixed up the marinade last night, I can’t wait to try it.

The heater on the pool/spa was acting up the night before last, we called the home warranty company, they sent someone out yesterday. As it turns out the sensor was bad, they replaced it and now it’s running as good as new.

I only have a few more days to get the house in order. The in-laws arrive Monday and they’ll be staying with us until June 26th.

My grandma was given 1-3 months to live by her doctor on Tuesday. Hard to hear something so definitive… however, the doctors gave my other grandma 6 months and she was with us for a year. Although, she’ll be starting hospice soon, so it probably won’t be too long. My mom’s having a tough time, she wants to be in Chicago with her, but she doesn’t have any vacation time left. I suggested she do whatever she has to do, so she won’t be left with any regrets.

That’s about it.

Dreams do come true

June 10, 2008
It's so nice to finally have a house, we enjoy it more than we imagined. The move went well on Friday, the house was trashed by the time they left. It was a bit overwhelming to see our belongings scattered about everywhere. Saturday, I got started cleaning and organizing. Frank took time to learn our timers for lights, pool, a/c, sprinklers, etc. He configured the smart box to get internet and cable to run through the house. After DirecTv was installed we hung the tv in the master bedroom. As of yesterday, only the kitchen, linen closet, master closet, and guest bath were complete. The cleaning process is slow going, but it is coming along.

We're are loving the pool and spa. The bbq is great, too.

Here's before/after shots of the kitchen









and guest bath



Below are slideshows, first is the house after we moved in. The peacock in the window will be coming down along with all the other painted windows. And then there's the backyard. I love all the flowers! The roses are blooming, the morning glories and oleander are pretty, too. Hummingbirds love the oleander by the palm trees near the spa. The fountain in the corner empties into the koi pond.

House... trashed after moving

Backyard

Moving day!!

June 6, 2008
Closing went fairly well, the only issue is that property will not record until today. Technically, we shouldn't receive keys until this afternoon, but the sellers are sweethearts and they hid a key for us. Movers are due sometime between 8:30-10am today. Then, we can get this show on the road. I look foward to sitting in our very own hot tub tonight with a glass of bubbly to celebrate.

Nothing is ever easy

June 5, 2008
I've really had a hellish week, and it's only Thursday morning... Problems generally arise during the home buying process, ours, have all happened to erupt in the final days. We've had one issue after another. Nearly every problem has been due to lack of information and miscommunication by our lender. Needless to stay, they won't be receiving the 5 star rating that they've been begging for on every email, fax and mailed letter. We went to the title company for closing yesterday, but we refused to sign and we walked out empty handed. After hundreds of phonecalls and much frustration we're ready for closing attempt #2 at noon today. Hopefully, this try will go without a hitch. With any luck, funds will transfer in time to allow us to record today, so we can receive the keys to our new house by the end of the day.

With the good, comes the bad...

June 3, 2008
My mom just let me know that my grandma's throat cancer has spread to her lymph nodes. No more surgeries, no more treatments - It is what it is. I lost my other grandma to lung cancer in December, and thyroid cancer took Frank's gram in 2004, so I'm no stranger to what's ahead, but it doesn't make it suck any less.

Are we there yet?

What a day, yesterday... All last week we checked with our loan specialist daily to be sure they had all that was needed, we were golden. Then mid-morning the emails started. I was chasing docs and making calls until 4pm. It was crazy! We were short-handed at work, so that made things more challenging.

It was all worth while, closing is scheduled for 2pm tomorrow. Hooray!

In other news, remember how I mentioned our condo HOA was harassing us about the Jimmy? Well the saga continues… but first, let’s bring you up to speed. We’ve lived in our complex for 4.5 years with two complaints: loud music coming from the Trans Am, and my brother jumped off the waterfall into the pool once when visiting. In the 2+ months we’ve had the Jimmy, we’ve had three complaints. Lack of registration the morning after we purchased it, no repairs on property (we checked the oil), and mud chunks. I cleaned up the ring of mud (to avoid fines) the day Dolores called. As the mud continues to dry, pieces periodically fall to the ground. Since then, I’ve picked up the large pieces and swept around the truck. Yesterday, my neighbor informed me that the cunt, err, Dolores has been coming by daily to check on the Jimmy. The neighbor's husband calls her the FBI. She said she looks underneath the truck, walks circles around it, and she's complained to them that it's noisy and questioned if they had any issues. She said they didn't, and that she knew my mom had a farm in Pahrump, and explained that it would naturally get dirty... of course, that's not how it got dirty, but I appreciated her sticking up for me.

Does this woman have nothing better to do? I'm actually kind of amused that this woman's world is so shaken up over a muddy truck. Frank wants to stick a note under the truck that says something along the lines of …if you can read this, you must be Dolores, so fuck off!! I suggested we leave the truck there after we move just to torture her.

After all the days stresses, we had a nice dinner at Amore. Minestrone soup and stuffed pizza were tasty as always. As if we weren't anxious to move before, now, all the fuss over the Jimmy has us especially eager to leave. Plus, after the final walk-thru on Sunday it finally began to feel real. Ever since, one of us continuously mentions how we can’t wait to move. We’re as bad as kids asking their parents are we there yet?

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