June 30, 2009

Las Baygass!!!

Amy, Jeff and Nicky got in late Saturday just as planned. It was great seeing them again. I was in shock by how much Nicky has grown. He has long little legs. He’s too cute. A few freckles have sprouted on his cheeks, and his hair is cut short (no more curls), both make him look older. The baby has grown up he’s all boy, now. He’s always on the go, so that hasn’t changed a bit, but it’s hilarious how overwhelmed he becomes when he’s riled up. I suppose, there’s too much to do, in such little time… he simply loves the sunshine, moon and stars, and he gets a kick out of the airplanes that fly over the house (he shouts, goin' Las BAYGASS!). The kid is a fish. We swam and swam and then swam some more. He likes to go under, he practically mastered holding his breath and keeping his mouth closed. He hates floaties, though, and won’t trust inflatable toys, even if they are Spongebob. I thought since he lives under the sea, it might help Nicky feel safe, but nope. We’ll keep encouraging him to try; maybe he’ll surprise us?

The boy loves to sing. "You are my Sunshine" is the cutest and "Viva Las Vegas" is the most amusing. He thinks he's a rockstar.

He reads me stories about counting and ABC's

We have lots of fun together. It amazes me how much he remembers. He knows where I keep his toys, snacks, and towels for the pool. The best part is he fully remembered uncle Frank, grandma and me. Past visits it took a little time for him to warm up to us. This time he took our hands and said let's go! They didn't even get their bags yet. I know this month will fly by so I'm doing my best to cherish every moment.

Frank and Jeff gambled at Sahara and with my mom at the Plaza. They played blackjack and Frank introduced Jeff to craps. No wins, though. My mom had two rooms comped for two nights at the Plaza. So, they stayed downtown on Saturday and Sunday nights. Sunday we had brunch at Siena Bistro, aside from that we’ve grilled the rest of our meals at the house.

Vacation is near for me, only four hours of work left. Unfortunately, I have dentist appointment at 3:00. I need to have my temporary crown removed and replaced with permanent crowns. I’m hopeful that it will be quick and painless. I’m sure it’ll take time to get used to my new bite, but as long as I don’t have pain like I did two weeks ago. I’ll be pleased.

Since I ‘m not sure how I’ll be feeling I won’t be seeing the family today, they left for my mom’s last night. Nicky will have fun with all the animals. Tomorrow they’ll come back to Vegas and they‘ll stay with us until Thursday. Then, it’s back to Pahrump, Frank and I will spend Friday out there. Pahrump has a great firework display each year on the 3rd. We’ll check that out again. We’ll celebrate the 4th back at our place and Sunday is up in the air. Jeff goes home on Monday. So, they’ll be in Vegas to see him off. We have no firm plans for the rest of the week. However, if the weather isn’t too hot, there are two or three parks I’d like to take Nicky to see, and I think he’d really enjoy the airplane viewing area on Sunset. We’ll definitely have to check that out. We’ll play the rest by ear.

Hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday!

June 29, 2009

Review: Studio B

As I mentioned last week, Friday we had dinner at M Resort with Frank’s uncle. We decided to try the buffet because we had two coupons ($5 off and one free buffet). We got there around 6 o’clock the line was very long, I’d guess it would’ve been well over an hour wait. We didn’t want to wait so we thought we’d try one of their restaurants instead. However, we lucked out, Frank’s uncle ran into a friend who works at M, he was able to get us into the VIP line. A few minutes later, we were being seated. Connections, you gotta love ‘em - a definite perk of being a local.

Fridays are seafood night a regular priced dinner is $25.95, but they knock off a couple bucks when you show your player’s club card.

The buffet is center stage with tables all around so no seat is far from the food. They have the standard offerings: salads, Italian, meats and veggies, Asian but theirs includes Thai (a welcomed addition), there is also a selection of meats, cheeses and breads, a variety of sushi, salmon, and on seafood nights they offer shrimp (boiled, fried and tempura), snow crab (hot and cold) and oysters. There is a wide selection of desserts, including gelato and a coffee bar. Also, wine and beer are included with lunch and dinner. They offer chilled glasses to boot. I thought that was a great touch.

Over the years I’ve grown tired of buffets. Given the choice I’d rather have a similarly priced meal at a sit-down restaurant. Though, I got to say M’s spread was nice. Everything I tried was good. That is a rarity; usually I have at least five or so things where I won’t take more than bite. Studio B exceeded my expectations (discounts and no wait surely helped). It is definitely the best local's casino buffet and I think it rivals the better ones on the strip.

I personally wouldn’t wait hours or pay regular price, but I do recommend it. Watch for player’s club coupons for discounts and try to hit the buffet at off-peak times for shorter waits. Dining before 5:00 and after 8:00 would likely be best for dinner. If you’re dining during peak times see if you qualify for a VIP pass at the player’s club.

June 26, 2009

Bring on the fun and chaos

Ahh! The weekend is nearly here. It’s been another long week. Temperatures have finally warmed up, though; it’s feeling more like summer. The pool is beginning to warm back up. It’ll be nice to go for daily swims again. Wednesday and Thursday we saw rain. The storms were hit and miss. Clouds would occasionally open up and pour a quick shower. We had a few strong ones rip by the office. It made for a very muggy commute home on Wednesday.

Amy, Jeff and Nicky arrive tomorrow. I’m so excited. I last saw them in February, but it feels much longer. I miss my favorite boy.

He likes to paint. I wonder why?

Jeff can’t wait to gamble. He wants to play poker and blackjack. We’ll also swim, go shooting and off-roading, and there’s a couple parks I’d like to take Nicky to if it’s not too hot. I'm also sending Amy and Jeff out for a date night. I'll look after the boy for the night. It's something I wish I could do for them often. All mommies and daddies need a break.

Amy and Nicky had planned to leave with Jeff on July 6, but she’s since decided to stay until August 4. She took a leave from school so she can look after my mom. Amy figures it takes about a month for changes to become routine. So, she’ll stay to help her get adjusted so mom can succeed in getting healthy. It’ll be nice to have the extra time with them.

Frank and I brought our old grill out to my mom last night; we had dinner and lent a hand getting things done around the house. She’s been too exhausted to manage it all. I hope the grill will encourage her to cook up something healthful instead of relying on quick processed meals. She’s only ever used charcoal grills before. Since it’s just her most of the time, it’s too much work to fire it up. I think she’ll find the propane grill convenient.

We stopped for fireworks while in Pahrump. Fourth of July is Frank’s favorite holiday. In Chicago, we put on great displays each year. We haven’t done our own show since we’ve been here, it wasn’t possible at the condo and last year we couldn’t afford it since we just moved into the house a few weeks before. This year, though, we’re set. We bought Saturn missile type things - these are 300 shots each, and a bunch of mortars and artillery shells. It ought to be a good show.

I have cleaning and child-proofing before they arrive tomorrow. Tonight, Frank and I are having dinner with his uncle. I think we’re going to M Resort, but I don’t know if we’ll be trying the buffet or one of the restaurants. In any case, I have lots to keep me busy before their arrival. Hope to wrap things up early tomorrow and earn myself a short breather before the fun and chaos begins.

June 24, 2009

Camera shopping

November, 2007 my friend hooked me up with a great deal on a Kodak Easyshare Z1275 Digital Camera. When it came, I retired my Olympus which was my first digital camera. I got in in 2004 a couple months after we got married. Each camera has been an upgrade to the last, but I’ve been pleased with both. My only disappointment with my Kodak is that indoor photos don’t turn out too well.

My camera has been along for all of our off-roading adventures. It’s really taking a beating this year. I’ve dropped it a few times in the desert. It held up fine until swung it off the seat of the Jimmy. When brushing away tree debris, the camera went flying and so did the battery. Turns out I broke the door that held the battery in place. The last few months I’ve kept the camera together with electrical tape. In the heat, it doesn’t hold up too well. I’m always having to adjust it, not only is it a pain, but I’ve also missed a few good shots fumbling with it. Then, the last time we went off-roading I broke the lens cover and dust has been embedded into the lens and zoom. The camera is on its last leg.

I’ve been toying with all kinds of ideas the last couple months. Do I want another point and shoot or should I upgrade to a DSLR? I’ve been more interested in photography lately, so it’d be nice to have the ability to take professional quality shots. After much thought I decided against the DSLR, I enjoy the convenience of a point and shoot far too much. I was told Canon offers point and shoot camera with additional settings; I thought that might have been the answer. Until I remembered how badly I’ve beaten my Kodak. I then considered using that one for off-roading and I’ll pick up a new one to capture other outings. Still, I knew there had to be a better solution.

It took an article in Entertainment Weekly, of all things, to bring the Canon Powershot D10 to my attention. It’s waterproof to 33 feet, has an operating temperature range of 14 to 104 degrees and is shockproof to four feet. Now, we’re talking, I was practically sold.

However, before any big purchase I research the product and price to be sure I’m getting the best value.

My search turned up the Olympus Stylus Tough-8000. It is shockproof, waterproof, crushproof, freezeproof, sandproof and dustproof. Supposedly, it can sustain a 6.6 ft fall. I think I am in love.

I also considered the Ricoh G600, Pentex Optio W80, and the Lumix DMC-TS1S, but I preferred the features on the Canon and Olympus.

I haven’t turned up feedback about indoor photo quality on the Olympus, but if it has that, too. I believe I have a winner. I just need to save my pennies.

June 23, 2009

Always something

So, the weekend was good. Frank and Shane converted the brakes on the Suburban and replaced the fuel pump and other parts on the Jimmy. Meanwhile, I worked in the yard, trimming bushes, vines, and clearing out fallen leaves and debris. Frank was a sweetheart; he picked up masks for me to wear while working in the yard to help curb my allergies. They actually helped a lot.

Nights were spent at Sahara playing blackjack, drinking, and having laughs. We walked away with minimal losses. Over two nights I played for eight hours and only lost twenty bucks. I can’t complain about that. They went to M, Klondike, Joker’s Wild and Skyline on Sunday night. I was a good girl and stayed home, since I had to be at work early in the morning. I wasn’t up for a near all-nighter.

We had Amore, Original Pancake House, and Siena Deli. And also grilled a couple meals at home: souvlaki and ribeyes. Good eatin’, indeed.

Over the weekend, an allergic reaction developed from one of my shots on Thursday. It was sore, red and swollen. There’s still a mark today, but it’s feeling much better. Monday they gave me a lower dose; so far so good. I think I’m out of the woods, it’s been well over twenty-four hours.

Also, my mom received unfortunate news. She’s been fighting back pain since October. But aside from that she’s been feeling miserable lately. Her doctor ran a bunch of tests; the results revealed that she is suffering from Pneumonia and Diabetes. The news has been hard on her, but it explains a lot. Like I told her, now that issues are known she can take the steps needed to feel better. She’s pretty upset about being diabetic. She was prescribed meds, which she has started taking. Those will surely help while she gets a new diet under control. She’s been getting by on processed foods, red meat, breads and starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes for as long as I can recall. She needs to realize a healthy well balanced diet can be achieved. It’ll just take some research and more effort on her part. I’ll offer encouragement, support, tools and fresh ideas. My sister arrives on Saturday (I have vacation days next week) so we’ll be spending a lot of time together I hope to set her on the right track and she’ll heed the advice and take care of herself. She can be quite stubborn so it won’t be an easy task, but I’m up for the challenge.

In healthier news, Frank’s ankle is healing nicely. Now, he just needs to follow through with his PT exercises. That’s a big relief.

I'm beginning to feel like a walking version of WebMD. It'd be wonderful if we could put medical issues behind us, so we can get back to living healthy carefree lives. But there's always something isn't there?

June 22, 2009

A defining moment

If you could take one picture to remember a moment in your life, what would it be?

I was presented with this question a few weeks back. It’s stuck with me since, but on that day I knew exactly the picture I wish I had…

Frank and I first visited Las Vegas in 1997, we were only seventeen, but we fell head over heels for Sin City. The weather, the sunshine, the mountains, the desert, the neon lights… it felt like home. We vowed one day it would be.

Six years later, Frank was laid off from his job and had difficulty find work, I was in a dead-end job and we both had recently received our degrees. The time had come, it was Vegas or bust.

We made the 1,760 mile trek across the country. We drove separately I followed closely behind Frank’s lead. I can remember refueling in Denver just before you head into the Rockies, and I lost Frank on the way back onto the expressway. He took the wrong exit. I briefly panicked. I had never driven mountains, I barely knew the way, and the only means I had to reach him was by walkie talkie. I pulled onto the shoulder and hoped we’d somehow be close enough to gain a signal between the radios. Minutes later, although, it felt like eternity, we had faint communication. We found each other and continued on our way.

The following day we arrived in Las Vegas. I will never forget the moment I caught my first glimpse of the strip coming down from I-15. We arrived! I was filled with such emotion. It wasn’t just the relief of making it or the excitement of seeing the city; it was also joy, nervousness, anticipation and fear of the unknown. I felt it all.

That’s the moment I wish was captured on film. I have photos from all the other special times in my life. That’s the one that got away. It was such a defining moment, too. It was when I started living for myself, instead of those who depended on me. It was a gamble to move away from family and friends; I had to put my faith into Frank. He’s all I would have. We were newly engaged, I felt his commitment, but there was part of me that was nervous. What if Vegas changed us?

Well, that was six years ago today. My concerns were needless. I had no idea how great our lives would be. I'm so thankful we had the guts to do it, to follow our dream. We're not the same people that we were six years ago, but we've grown and learned together. We're stronger because of our experiences, individually and as a couple. We're not afraid to take risks, some have paid off and we've lost on others. Either way, we don't sit idly and let life happen, we make it happen. Had we stayed in Chicago, I don't think that would be the case. Opportunity was too stagnant. I truly believe we’re better off here. We’re happy, we’re in love. Not only with each other, but also with the city we know is home.

June 19, 2009

The week where time stood still

This has been one long ass week. I'm still two hours away from the start of the weekend. It's funny how time at the office stands still. Yet, time at home ticks by in an instant. It's not fair, but that's life...

I had my follow up appointment today. Unfortunately, my CT Scan revealed abnormalties. The doctor rambled off the issues and they made no sense to me, so I asked what all of it meant. In short, my sinuses are diseased. Fortunately, it's not bad enough to require sinus surgery. It seems my condition has been caught early on before too much damage has been done. He said some people require the surgery before attempting any type of treatment. He performed another endoscope to confirm his assessment of my scans. He wants me to continue the allergy shots and see him again in three months. He'll have another look then, and we'll go from there.

My sore throats, ear discomfort, and other symptoms are all resulting from my allergies, just as I had suspected.

All I can say is these allergy shots better work! But only time will tell.

An hour forty-five to go... C'mon weekend. Shane is in town from Phoenix, he'll be staying with us through the weekend. It should be a good time. I'm sure we'll hit up Sahara for dollar blackjack, have some drinks and probably chow down on a few good eats.

June 18, 2009

Feeling like a lab rat

Tuesday I spent nearly three hours in the dentist’s chair being tortured. Okay, not really, tortured, but it did feel like it at times. I had two replace two childhood fillings with crowns. The work was done on the two molars furthest back on the right lower side. The dentist really had to get in there, and it triggered my gag reflex or made me feel like I was choking. That really complicated things. Then, my gums bled like mad. I was a mess.

I was in a world of hurt afterwards, and thru most of the day yesterday. Fortunately, the throbbing stopped late afternoon. It was brutal for a while there; it took 45 minutes just to eat 8oz of yogurt. Today my jaw no longer hurts, unless I open too far. I only feel pain when I bite down or aggravate it. It’s a nice improvement. In two weeks, I go back for my permanent crowns. More fun. Joy.

This morning I went for my first set of Allergy Shots. I received four injections (glycerin, antigens for trees, molds, weeds and animals) I’ll have to watch for a reaction, but so far so good. I go for my next round on Monday. Today I was given my complete list of severe allergens, ready?

Kochia Weed
Arizona Ash
Bermuda Grass
Sheep Wool
Honey Bee
Rabbit Bush Weed
Fesque Meadow Grass
Sycamore Tree

Phew! Once you add my allergies to antibiotics and painkillers, I’ve got quite the list.

Hopefully, it won’t take too long for the shots to take effect. It would be so nice to feel good.

Tomorrow, I see the ENT doctor for a follow up exam and to get my results from my CT Scan. I’ve felt better since last month, but I haven’t had a good day since April, maybe? Each day I suffer from some kind of allergy symptom. This week, I’ve had a very sore throat, in addition to the usual congestion. Also, my ears have felt no better since I last saw him in May. I'm hopeful that the swelling around my sinuses has improved. We’ll see what he says…

I'm tired of feeling like a lab rat, I'd like to move on. Hopefully, he has good news.

June 17, 2009

Another water lily

They keep flowering in the pond. They've been such a nice surprise this year. Hopefully, they continue to bloom.

From flowers

June 16, 2009

Las Vegas Wetlands

Did you know Vegas had Wetlands? Seems like an odd fit for the desert, huh? I know I was surprised when I learned about them years ago. To this day I've still never made it to the Wetlands Park, but this weekend we found ourselves at the Wetlands.

We were cooped up all weekend and we had to get away from the house for a bit. Take in some fresh air, feel the warmth of the sun, and get a change of scenery. We went for a drive, we were headed toward Lake Mead, but the Wash caught our attention and we took a detour. We took a few off-road trails until we came to the Wetlands. We had little interaction, just a brief look, Frank stayed in the truck while I took a few photos. It felt like we were worlds away, but the strip in the distance served as a reminder that we were home.

A natural wash runs across the valley, the twelve mile channel leads to a water treatment facility at the end of Flamingo Rd. after water is processed it is released to the Wetlands and filters through Lake Las Vegas and eventually deposits into Lake Mead. To see the wetlands first hand was a treat. The smell is some areas, not so much, but once the weather cools down (assuming normal temps will return) we'll definitely have to pay the park a visit.

From LV Wash

From LV Wash

From LV Wash

From LV Wash

From LV Wash

From LV Wash

From LV Wash

June 15, 2009

One hundred thirty

Two weeks and a total of one hundred thirty injections, later, I'm officially done with Allergy Testing! Woo-frickin'-hoo!!

Today was the worst, 42 injections. I was allergic to a bunch today, too. Dogs were most surprising. Roses were most frustrating, I have 10+ bushes at home that the previous owners planted. I was also allergic to bees, wool, crickets, alfalfa, rabbit weed and I'm sure I'm forgetting a couple others.

This whole experience has been enlightening and pretty facinating. Thursday I begin immunotherapy. I start with one shot at the office twice each week, then I think I go weekly and eventually I'll pick up doses bi-weekly. I could be wrong, but that's my current understanding. It'll become clear as I go along.

Friday, I see the ENT doctor to go over my CT Scan. Hopefully, all will look good and I can wrap up all these doctor visits.

In other news, Frank took a spill at work on Friday. He hyperextended his ankle as a result of his fall. He's on crutches, an aircast stirrup and walking boot. Needless to say we had a very quiet weekend, it was filled with rest and quite a bit of channel surfing. He seems to be healing well, hopefully, he'll be on the mend in no time.

June 12, 2009

What you want and what you get

I saw an article that named the top five cars newly licensed teens wanted. It listed:

Toyota Corolla
Volkswagen Beetle
Honda Accord
Honda Civic

And the number one most desired car is a Ford Mustang.

I’m not sure if old models were acceptable or if these kids polled wanted a brand spanking new ride.

Insane as it is, I know there are kids that are handed keys to a brand new vehicle for their sixteenth birthday.

Others get the family hand-me down.

Some have parents that'll pick up a used vehicle for a couple grand or maybe co-sign a loan for a used car.

Then, there’s a few, like me, whose parents felt if you want a car, buy one you can afford. This was another example of where I learned what you want and what you get are often two very different things.

I started working part-time when I was fifteen but I was seventeen before I was able to collect a fair amount of savings to purchase a car. Prior to that, I drove my mom’s mini-van when I had permission. After awhile, I was desperate for freedom. I decided my piggy bank was as full as it was gonna be, I had about $1500 to spend. I shopped the Pennysaver. This was before Craigslist and regular use of the internet. Hell, my family had just gotten a home computer and dial up. I can remember introducing my mom to AOL. What a mistake that was, but that’s a story for another day. I found an ad for a 1979 Monte Carlo. I took it for a test drive. I was in love. It could’ve only been sweeter if it were a Chevelle. Sadly, the Monte was not meant for me. It needed some work, the price was more than I could afford and they didn’t accept my best offer. Disappointed, but I was back on the hunt. I had trouble finding a reliable car in my price range. Then, my mom mentioned a friend she made on AOL (ironically, enough) was selling a car for a grand. It was an ’89 Nissan Sentra. It was beat up and worn, the body was rusted midway up the doors, but it ran well. I offered a couple hundred less than the asking price, he accepted. It might not have been the Monte Carlo or a Chevelle, but eight hundred dollars bought me freedom. All things considered it was a small price to pay.

That Sentra got me everywhere I needed to go. It wasn’t cute, it only got uglier over time, the windshield cracked, and the driver’s window stopped rolling down. Other than regular oil changes, the only time I put money into it was when I slid on ice and hit a median on the way to class one snowy cold day. I did a number on my control arm, but it still got me where I needed to be. I couldn’t complain.

I drove that car for a couple years and racked up miles with 25 mile commutes between home, work and college classes. Eventually, I was ready to take on a monthly car payment and I was able to get employee pricing on a Ford Contour (Frank was working for the dealer, at the time). I couldn’t get anything for my trade, so I sold it privately. My dad’s coworker had a daughter that just turned sixteen. $250 and it was hers. I’m sure it wasn’t what she wanted, either, but it meant freedom. I was happy to pass on the torch.

So, what did you want? And what did you get?

June 11, 2009


Frank wanted something different than our usual ground beef tacos, he suggested using pork. I turned up a recipe for Slow Cooker Carnitas and gave it a try.

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (4 pound) boneless pork shoulder roast
2 bay leaves
2 cups chicken broth

Mix together salt, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, coriander, and cinnamon in a bowl. Coat pork with the spice mixture. Place the bay leaves in the bottom of a slow cooker and place the pork on top. Pour the chicken broth around the sides of the pork, being careful not to rinse off the spice mixture.

Cover and cook on Low until the pork shreds easily with a fork, about 10 hours. Turn the meat after it has cooked for 5 hours. When the pork is tender, remove from slow cooker, and shred with two forks. Use cooking liquid as needed to moisten the meat.

The prep was easy as can be, I threw it together in the morning before work. Came home, and dinner was done. You gotta love the crockpot. The carnitas were good. We had a lot of leftovers. Fortunately, the flavor of the pork was mild enough to use in shredded BBQ pork sandwiches. After two meals, there was still enough leftover for a third so I added a packet of taco seasoning to the meat and we had pork tacos. It worked out well. This recipe is a keeper.

June 10, 2009


One dollar blackjack. One dollar blackjack is back at Sahara.

As tourists we played dollar blackjack at the Sahara regularly. It was great! We’d play for hours, drink and usually walk away even. Once we became locals those tables only lasted a little while longer before going up to three or five dollar minimums. We were sad when it became a thing of the past.

Then, yesterday, I got word that they brought it back. I mentioned it to Frank, he was just as excited as I was; he wanted to play. We convinced Laura, her sister and her friend to join us.

All the tables back by the Nascar Café have dollar minimums. Blackjacks pay even money, unless you bet five or more, then it is 6:5. So, yeah, that sucks and obviously there are better games in town. However, at a dollar table I’m not looking to make money. I’m looking to have a good time and enjoy free cocktails. Twenty bucks at the table will last a helluva lot longer at the table than in a slot machine. And you know a cocktail waitress we be making rounds. So, there is value there.

We couldn’t all get onto one table so we split up, three and two, so we could all play. After a few hours, seats opened up and we were able to get on the same table. The dealers were having fun, we were having fun, and drinks flowed. I love being in tourist mode. We played for nearly five hours before I had to be the party pooper, it was after one o’clock and I had to be up in six hours. I lost $20, but Frank made $40, combined we walked out twenty bucks richer. I’m not sure how the girls did, they were still playing when we called it a night. Win or lose we had a great time.

June 9, 2009

Put me in a bubble

Nothing is ever easy. I should’ve learned this by now. Allergy testing has stalled because I’m highly sensitive to glycerin. Glycerin is used as a preservative for the allergens in the injections for Immunotherapy. Every dose so far has given me a terrible headache and a welt-like red bump at the injection site. Before I can continue tray testing they have to get the base at the proper dosage. Each day the headache is milder, we were hopeful today’s dose would be the right one, but the headache has reared its ugly head once again. Maybe I’ll have better luck on Thursday. Now, tray testing will lead into next week. I was really looking forward to wrapping it up this week, too. Tuesday, I have a dentist appointment. I need two crowns. I’m dreading it my last crown took a long time to get used to. I need a total of three – childhood fillings are falling apart and there’s not enough tooth left to have them replaced. The two are next to each other and are in the worst condition from grinding and clenching, so I’ll get those done first. It’s a huge hit to the pocketbook so I’ll wait to do the third.

I’m really growing tired of the daily poking, prodding, appointments, driving across town, etc. I cannot wait until the tests and upcoming dental work are complete.

This weekend I went through all my products checking for glycerin. I can’t use anything that has it listed as a first or second ingredient. Fortunately, most of my stuff was okay because I’m also allergic to cocoa butter therefore I choose many hypoallergenic products. However, all my body lotions were bad. Water, glycerin… in every single one. Shopping for a safe one was a challenge, Frank helped me read bottles to speed along the process, finally I came across Aveeno, and I had a winner.

I’ve suffered from headaches for ages, I’ve never pinpointed a trigger, and I’ve always attributed them to sinus issues and allergies. I never gave it more thought than that. It’s highly likely glycerin was the cause of my grief. Wild.

We’ve replaced our air filters at the house with the highest allergen reducing kind Lowe’s carried. Hopefully, they will make a difference. I figure I’ll try whatever I can to help myself feel better. Frank may even benefit from the changes, as well.

Everyone teases I should be put in a bubble, I tend to agree, that would probably be the easiest cure. But knowing my luck, it’d be made of plastic containing Phenol. Another chemical on my ever-growing list of allergies.

June 8, 2009

Cool weekend

Friday, after I picked Laura up at the airport, we met Frank back at the house. We caught up a bit and then had dinner at Amore. She was thrilled to have stuffed pizza. Then we had margaritas back at the house before we decided to go to the Pinball museum. We played a bunch of games and air hockey. We returned to the house, chilled on the patio before turning in. We literally chilled, it really cooled down this weekend. Temperatures have been in the 80's. Unusual for this time of year. It's also been cloudy and more humid than normal. It works out well, though, for friends that are visiting this week. Both parties were concerned about the heat.

Saturday, Frank worked, while Laura and I had breakfast at the Cracked Egg and went for a hike. A few months ago, I heard about a short hiking trail near a 55+ community in Henderson. It was known to offer nice views of the valley. It didn't disappoint, and it worked out perfectly. We didn't have a whole lot of time because Laura's sister and friend were due in at 2:30. We enjoyed the hike and the view.

Looking east to west

From McDonald Ranch trail

From McDonald Ranch trail

From McDonald Ranch trail

From McDonald Ranch trail

Her sister's flight was late so we rushed back for no reason. We hung by the house talking and I shared all kinds of ideas of things to do, places to see. Her sister picked her up around 4:30. Too early for good-byes, she'll be in town until Wednesday we'll get together again. Frank got home about 20 minutes later and we headed out.

We were invited to an open house at a fellow off-roader's repair shop and then we had plans for a night run. However, when we got out there, the place was locked up. Turns out it is next Saturday. Oops! We went and saw The Hangover instead. We loved it as I previously mentioned. It was surreal sitting in a packed theater watching a movie about a place we all live. I didn't think crowds would be too bad since a lot of people here have the attitude Vegas, yeah, yeah, what happens here, stays here... I get it. But I was wrong the theater was PACKED. Everyone was laughing it up. If you see it, don't miss the credits.

Sunday, we went for breakfast at the Original Pancake House. Laura invited us along for a Mt Charleston hike, but we passed on the offer. Instead, we ran errands, did a few things around the house and lounged in the pool. It was the nice lazy day I had hoped for. Yet, it was another weekend that went by far too fast.

June 7, 2009

The Hangover

Go see it! That is all.

June 5, 2009

A week's wrap up

I saw the funniest thing this morning…

I'm stopped at the light at Wynn and Flamingo, right in front of the Palms Casino. There is a Mustang headed east on Flamingo also stopped at the light. The guy gets out of the car, younger guy - mid-20's, my guess, he stands there and raises his hands in the air and gives the Palms a double middle finger - Fuck you! He dances back and forth shoving his hands higher in the air. Ahh! The things you see.

It brightened my day.

Beforehand, I was at the Allergist for my fourth day of Allergy Testing. I hate Hate HATE needles. So, I’ve had to find all kinds of courage to psych myself up for these tests. Fortunately, the injections aren’t too bad. Facing my fear is doing me good. If I could only get past the cold sweats I think I may overcome it. Intravenous and blood draw needles are a different tale; I’m still terrified of those. And I don’t think I can handle the self-injections when the Immunotherapy starts, but who knows maybe I’ll surprise myself.

I had twenty-four injections today, twenty-two yesterday, two on Tuesday and three on Monday. And I’ve handled them like a champ. Previously, I never would’ve thought that was possible. I’m a big girl now. Heh.

I’ve had mild reactions to most everything, but I’m definitely allergic to Phenol and Glycerin, as well as, Kochia weed and Arizona Ash trees. The first two left welt-like red bumps for days. The effects of the tray testing look like Braille on my upper arm. Those haven’t turned into welts because they’ve given me cream to keep the reaction at bay. Testing continues Monday and then I wrap up on Tuesday. Wednesday, I go for my CT scan. All these appointments are becoming tiresome.

This week has also been hectic at home. The house is either acting out for us being away for a week or it knew our first year anniversary was coming up, it seems like everything has gone haywire.

First the neighbor told us our garage door was open for two days while we were on vacation. He came by and closed it. I know it closed before we left. It magically opened at some point, which it has done before. We’ve been having issues with it. Luckily, nothing has been stolen. I did find it odd that it looked like a cat tap danced across my car (we have no cats). Frank found a dead bird in the garage, too, courtesy of the tap dancing cat, no doubt. It all made sense when the neighbor filled us in. Anyway, the garage door opener is covered under our homeowner’s warranty (set to expire tomorrow); we called and scheduled a repair call. We had a bunch of loose parts and supposedly the florescent light bulbs are a no-no because they create problems with the transmitter, only incandescent bulbs are to be used. Easy fix.

Then, the ceiling fan in the office began making weird noises. That, too, is covered so we called for repair rather than fixing it ourselves. Turns out use caused vibration that loosened the parts causing the loud noise, the motor wasn’t going as we had expected. After tightening the parts, it was good to go. Another easy fix.

Frank noticed a leak in the front yard sprinkler. The overflow of water created a large hole exposing the pipe. Frank bought epoxy putty to fix it, but later that day we discovered the back yard sprinklers weren’t working right. There wasn’t enough pressure to push the heads fully out. Frank tinkered with it a bit, but made no improvement. The next morning the backyard was soaked and the pool was overflowing. Unfortunately, sprinklers are not covered under warranty. I called a repairman. It turns out we had a leak in the backyard, a tree root snapped the pipe, that was replaced, as was a valve, and the front yard pipe was repaired. $250 later we were as good as new. The money was well spent, though, the hole to dig to fix the backyard leak was large and laced with tree roots. It would’ve been a nightmare had we attempted to fix it ourselves.

Hopefully, the worst is behind us, and now we can relax. It’s just crazy how when it rains, it pours.

I’m thrilled the weekend is here. After work I pick up an old friend from the airport. She’s staying with us tonight. I’ve been friends with her since junior high, but haven’t seen her since our wedding. It’ll be fun to catch up. We also had the Jimmy fixed this week. We plan to take it out for a night run on Saturday. I’m looking forward to that. Sunday, I’m hoping for a lazy day, but we’ll see what unfolds.

And lastly, Amy, Jeff and Nicky are coming for a visit. I'm thrilled! They'll be here later this month, June 27 - July 6. Amy told me Nicky is very excited. Every day since they booked their flights he asks, see horsey grandma, auntie Kellee and uncle Frank soon? So sweet. Also, lately, everytime he sees an airplane fly over head he asks Amy to catch it. When she reaches her arms up and says she can't reach, he asks to be put on her shoulders so he can try. Too cute. I cannot wait to see them.

June 4, 2009

San Diego

Friday was more of the same dreary weather. We drove by Bread and Cie, another bakery and café for lunch, but it was busy and it failed to lure us in. So, we held true to our word and went back to Con Pane. It was just as wonderful as the day before. I couldn’t stray from the salami sandwich, Frank tried the turkey and we ordered a walnut chocolate chip cookie for dessert and a loaf of hazelnut raisin bread to go. The cookie was served warm, it was delicious. We dug into the loaf as soon as we got into the car. It was also terrific. Again, I was in heaven after another superb meal.

We stopped at Shelter Island after lunch.

From San Diego

From San Diego

We spotted the Seal Tour while there and thought it’d be fun. They reminded us of the Duck Tours in Wisconsin Dells. We saw they boarded in Seaport Village so we headed there next.

From San Diego

We couldn’t find where the tickets were sold. We gave up after realizing that it would be awfully chilly out on the water.

We saw the USS Midway Museum on our last visit and really enjoyed it.

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We thought we’d check out the Maritime Museum this time. Admission was $14 per person, the Dolphin wasn’t there, so we decided against it. Maybe we’ll see it another time when all the ships are there?
From San Diego

From San Diego

Before leaving we stopped at the giftshop and bought a few postcards. Frank wanted to send them out. I thought it was kinda silly. I’ve never done postcards, I thought they were more for when you go on long trips – like out of the country long trips. But whatever, we filled them out and thought we’d find a post office easily since we spotted a dozen the day before. Well, this turned into a nightmare. Nearly two hours were wasted in search of postcard stamps. We gave up and returned our hotel for our last siesta. Before heading to the room we checked with the front desk and gift shop for stamps, they directed us to the post office across the highway in the mall near the Sports Chalet. We retired to our room. Later, hunger struck we headed out for dinner. We tossed around a bunch of ideas before settling on Giorgino’s Deli. They are known for their cheesesteaks, since our favorite place closed in Vegas, we thought this would hit the spot. The bread was the real stuff. The meat was good, I prefer a chunkier grilled onion and I’m not a fan of the white American cheese. I prefer Provolone. Needless to say, it was good, but it too lacked that something special.

We parked at Horton Plaza and figured we'd spend the rest of the night downtown. No movies caught our interest. We walked around a bit.

From San Diego

From San Diego

From San Diego

We had no better plan so we went back to Los Panchos for more margaritas. The mariachi band was playing. We kicked back with our chips, salsa and margaritas and pretended we were in Mexico. I told Frank we were going to make our own sunshine. It was a busy night, they ran out of margarita glasses after our first one, our next two were served in soda glasses. No complaints from us. After we finished up we walked a bit before heading back to the car. Parking was free because I noticed the validation booths inside the mall. Never noticed those before, they may be new? We picked up more Pacifico and lotto tickets before returning to the hotel.

All week I planned for us to visit Little Italy on Saturday and pick up goodies from a few delis and the Farmer’s Market. When I woke up that morning, it was dark outside. Who knew the clouds could get thicker? It poured, it rained, it drizzled. We packed up and checked out of the hotel. I told Frank I didn’t want to fight the rain so let’s skip Little Italy. Instead, we’ll grab a bite and head straight home. He agreed, but wanted to stop at the post office inside the mall beforehand. He had me run in from lower level parking. I take the elevator up only to find that this is an outdoor mall. Great for when it’s sunny, but real crummy for rainy days. I dodged the rain the best I could, but I got incredibly frustrated when I found the Sports Chalet and the post office was no where near it. I located a directory and pinpointed the post office. It was on the otherside of the mall by Macy’s Home Store. Joy. Finally, I arrive, I wait in line, I get my stamps and have them mail the postcards. Never again.

We consider a couple of the breakfast places on my list, but then asked ourselves, who are we kidding? We are going back to Con Pane.

I got my perfect sandwich one last time. Frank tried the Roast Beef. It rivaled my sandwich, simple and fresh go a long way. It was simply great beef, with onions, tomato and goat cheese smothered in between a French banquette. I think the perfect lunch would be a half of each sandwich.

From San Diego

We didn’t stop there. We ordered a cinnamon roll for dessert, and three more to go, as well as, a loaf of Gruyere and Chive bread.

We left a little sad, Con Pane was the highlight of our trip. I will miss that little slice of heaven.

On the five hour drive home, we ate all but one slice of bread. It was a true treat, light and fluffy with a crispy crust, a hint of onion with chunk of Gruyere baked in. Bliss. Pure Bliss.

From San Diego

Inside that box were the remaining cinnamon rolls we enjoyed them the following day.

From San Diego

We’ve had better times in San Diego. We weren’t prepared for the cool temps and lack of sun, but we handled it the best we could – with a lot of whining. It was just such a shock to the system. All month, we’ve had sunshine and temps in the 90’s. I heard on the local news we never saw temps below 64 degrees in the entire month of May. It never got that warm our entire time in San Diego, but we had loads of laughs and ate some great food. I can’t complain about that.

June 3, 2009

San Diego - Imperial Beach, Balboa Park

Thursday, the crummy weather continued. We were introduced to the term May Gray Day courtesy of the local news, they anticipated it to continue all week and become June Gloom. Cute, eh? Not so much. I wanted the sun. I wanted warmth. I was over winter. Yes, it felt like winter and I swear we were having winter blues flash backs.

Once we got out and about we headed to Point Loma for an early lunch. Before the trip I collected a list of eateries to try. At the top of the list was Con Pane Rustic Breads and Café. Fortunately, it was an easy find and parking was available, too.

We stepped inside and I thought I was dreaming. Everything looked delicious. It was certainly a place where carb-lovers dreams are made. I ordered the Italian Salami sandwich on Rosemary Olive Oil (one of their daily breads). Frank chose the Turkey Cobb on Sourdough (another daily). And he ordered a cinnamon roll to share for dessert.

Mine was the best sandwich I ever tasted. The bread totally made it, but the sundried tomatoes, pepperoncini, lettuce and basil pesto was like icing on the cake. We shared our sandwiches; I ate half of Frank’s Turkey Cobb. It was also delicious, but not out of this world like mine. Again the bread was fantastic. I didn’t think lunch could get any better, but then we dug into the cinnamon roll. Usually, I think the purpose of the outside of the roll is to keep the center moist. Not in this case. The outside was better than most cinnamon rolls’ center. I can’t even put into words how tasty the inside was. Seriously, I must be dreaming!

We left on cloud nine vowing to be back tomorrow. We decided to check out Coronado. We’ve heard it’s a must see and finally took the opportunity to see it for ourselves.

Driving on the Coronado Bridge.

From San Diego

View of San Diego from the bridge.

From San Diego

We followed the street and it led us to the Military Base. We had to explain to the nice guard that we drove up by mistake. He let us turn around and then we drove around more. Passing quaint house after quaint house, then finally, we came to Hotel Del Coronado. We caught a glimpse from the street. We were low on gas and on the hunt for a gas station so we didn’t stop. Somehow, we found ourselves in Imperial Beach before we found a gas station. We filled up and then had a look around. It was damn chilly. We thought we’d rent bikes in Coronado and ride the shore, but it was much too cold. I dipped my hand in the ocean at Imperial Beach just to say I was in it. It felt warmer than the air. Previous visits it has felt ice cold.

Imperial Beach Pier in the distance.

From San Diego
USS Ronald Reagan deployed that day I think that might be it in the distance.

From San Diego

From San Diego

From San Diego

We kept on, eventually coming up on the Tijuana Estuary and not long after we found ourselves on the I-5. We weren’t sure how that happened, but nothing on Coronado stuck with us that made us want to return so we headed to Balboa Park. Another attraction we missed on previous trips.

We started at the Rose Garden, which offered a huge variety of blooms.

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From San Diego

From San Diego

And then we walked through the Desert Garden.

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From San Diego

From San Diego

From San Diego

This was a wild tree. It was practically hollow inside.

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I could semi-comfortably live inside it, it was roomy enough.

From San Diego

The huge fig tree outside the Natural History Museum

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We checked out the free exhibits inside the History Museum and Photographic Arts Building and then continued on to find the Japanese Friendship Garden.

First we came across the Botanical Building but it was closed. However, we enjoyed the lily pond.

From San Diego

From San Diego

From San Diego

View of the Museum of Man.

From San Diego

Finally we found the Japanese Garden we stopped for tea to warm up. Admission for the two of us was eight bucks. It wasn’t worth it. The garden was small and we didn’t find anything impressive to see.

From San Diego

From San Diego

After that we had our fill of Balboa Park. We returned to the hotel for our daily nap and then set out for dinner. I chose Café Chloe for dinner. When looking for parking I realized the Kebab Shop was on the same street. It was another restaurant that made my list of places to try. We walked into Café Chloe and no one greeted us, we bailed when Frank said he didn’t see a single diner with food. We walked over to the Kebab Shop. I ordered Beef Köfte Kebab with caprese salad and saffron rice. Frank had Lamb Shawarma with saffron rice. Despite the rave reviews on Yelp, we thought it was pretty weak. My kebab reminded me of meatloaf and we’ve had far better lamb at “Greek Joints” back in Chicago. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t special.

We walked to the gaslamp district and stopped in Ghiradelli for dessert. Frank had a banana split and I had an Intense Dark Sundae with dark chocolate fudge and coffee flavored ice cream. It was rich, but oh, so good.

From there we walked around until we found ourselves back at Los Panchos for more margaritas. They brought us chips and salsa, too. We couldn’t let that go to waste. Oh, no!

From San Diego

Two margaritas, and who knows how many chips, later, I felt like I was going to burst. No mas. We walked back to the car. And a quick five minute drive later, we were back at the hotel. After another five minutes we were relaxing in bed sipping back Pacifico. Take that convenient trolley.