A Pho First

September 30, 2010
Earlier this week I had nothing at home to bring for lunch, so I knew it'd be take out. My throat was sore and my sinuses were wonky so I thought it'd be a good time to try Pho. Da Lat is a place practically around the corner. So I called in an order for pho tai. Drove over and minutes and $7 later I was back at my desk with this...





I dumped all the fixings into the broth and had myself a tasty concoction.



It was fun to see the beef cook before your eyes. I will definitely get it again! I'll have to dine in and explore more Vietnamese treats.

SmashBurger

September 29, 2010
After dotting all the i's and crossing t's at the dealership, we drove over to the nearby SmashBurger for a bite. I've heard mixed reviews about the place so I knew I'd have to see for myself.

SmashBurger started in Denver. Locations are all over, but not many on the eastcoast, mainly west, midwest,... texas has a bunch.

Menu boards are on the wall, you walk up and place your order. You're given a number and you take a seat. Later, your food is delivered.

Frank's Avocado Club, multi-grain bun; haystack onions



My Spicy Baja, chipotle bun; sweet potato smashfries



Frank's burger and bun were far better than mine. My bun was dry, the meat was flavorless and the only taste that stood out was the chipotle mayo. Even that wasn't very good. My burger was a complete flop. My sweet potato fries were no better. They were limp, greasy and practically inedible. Frank definitely made the better choice, his bun was pretty good, and his burger was juicier than mine. His haystack was overly greasy.

The tab was $20, I'd much rather have Fuddruckers. They're far better and you get more for less.

New addition

September 28, 2010
So we bit the bullet and bought a new toy. We bought a '99 Suburban a while back and it was pretty good to us. It was just a gas guzzler and it needed a lot of maintenance. We just did $500 worth of repairs and it was the start of a long list of things that needed to be done. We bought the Suburban for easy off-roading and to pull the Jimmy to further destinations. We never used it to tow because it was too expensive. Furthermore, we've already done a fair amount of work to it, Frank didn't want it to become the money pit the Jimmy has. Enough was enough. Frank swore off buying a new car, but after taking everything into account, he ate his words. Buying new at 0% is too good to pass up. It was with my '06 Impala and this time was no different.


We bought a 2010 Avalanche with an off-road package. Timing was right that we were able to snag a great deal. This is Frank's first time owning a brand new car. He works hard, he deserves the experience. I don't like taking on a new car payment, but we we practically had one between the insane gas bills and regular repairs. When you put all the numbers side by side, it's only the registration that will cost a hefty sum compared to the Suburban. Nevada's broke, so we're doing our part to help them raise funds. That's the way I'm looking at it, anyway.

It's a smooth ride. It has lots of bells and whistles. No heated seats much to my dismay, but it has satellite radio. Which I'm mighty jealous of at the moment. Not only do I miss it terribly, but my cd player recently died. I've since been stuck listening to commercials. It's hell. Soon, I'll break down and buy an MP3 player. Then, my misery will come to an end.

This purchase boots me from my spot in the garage. I've enjoyed my two+ years of covered parking, but those days have ended. It's back outside for me, I'm left to battle the elements once again. I make it sound like I'm still in Chicago, my days at my apartment with tandem parking that back up to the alley was pure hell in the winter. As soon as you'd unbury the car, the plow truck would come by and bury you again. I know it can be much worse. But I'm a complete wuss in the cold so I'm really dreading this winter. I work so close to home that my car won't even warm up until I get to work. I deal with the same thing all summer parking outside at work, I'm home before my car cools down enough to feel the A/C.

Aside from losing my spot, I'm sure I'll love the Avalanche. I'm anxious for a road-trip. We're talking about finally seeing the Grand Canyon. With any luck, we'll make it happen.

Sleep. I need it.

September 27, 2010
I have piles of laundry. A kitchen sink filled with dirty dishes. A dishwasher filled with clean dishes. A house in disarray, that's in need of a good vacuuming and mopping. Two dvrs loaded with tv to watch, despite overlooking the premiere of new fall shows. My allergies are giving me hell for the first time in ages. Helps none that I exposed myself to dogs, smoke, hay, and dust much of the weekend. I had little sleep this weekend, instead, I spent much time playing and chasing after a three year-old and sneaking out during early morning hours to play at the casino with my sister. The start of the work week came much too soon this morning. I did not want to get out of bed. All I wanted was SLEEP. I have a to do list a mile long, but I'm fairly certain tv will win out tonight. That's if I don't fall asleep first.





This weekend we went to Pahrump's Fall Festival. I rode all sorts of carnival rides with Nicky. We had a lot of fun. But goodness it was pricey. Had I known how many tickets we'd need, I would've gotten us two all-day wristbands for $50; it would've only been $10 more. I haven't been to a carnival in 15 years so I suffered a bit of sticker shock. It was worth every penny though to see his excitement and hear his laughter.



We also went to Henderson's Super Run to check out the classic cars. The show was even bigger that last year. Amy made her first bet on football at the El Dorado. Too bad she didn't pick a winning parlay.

We had a number of meals out. Lucille's BBQ, where we ran into the world's slowest server. At the least the food was good. Then, quick bites at Chipotle and Jersey Mikes.

Amy and I went to Orleans after Frank and Nicky went to bed since we've haven't had the chance to get out. We played slots and keno, since the table games were crowded and limits were higher than usual. We had some fun. People watching was interesting, there must have been a body building competition or convention in town. The family also played at Pahrump's casinos. They tried their luck at craps, roulette and blackjack. Amy has picked it all up, but hasn't been fortunate enought to get on a good run, and my mom still doesn't grasp any of it. Some people are meant to play slots.



We did a little swimming, and took Nick to the splash pad at Town Square's park. In between, Nicky and I played cops. He loves to get the bad guys. We had so many arrests it's unreal. It's exhausting, but he's too cute to say no. I did try to encourage breaks and attempted to entice him to do other things, but no such luck. We had to get the bad guys. At most, I was able to convince him to stop for donuts and coffee. Those gave my feet a minute or two rest.

Back with photos

September 24, 2010
The fun we've had so far...

The Ice Cream man will have good sales this month.



@ Children's Museum









Cruising in the cul-de-sac





Ridin' the tram



Being a wild and crazy guy @ Bellagio's Conservatory



@ the Las Vegas Locos game







Off-roading: Carpenter Canyon





Looking out on Pahrump





@ mom's















@ The Putt Park









That's all for now.

Thursday, already?

September 23, 2010
It feels like my week has just begun and the weekend is nearly here, already. I'm not complaining. It's just been a crazy few days and I'm treading water to keep afloat.

I took Monday and Tuesday off to spend with the family. Frank and I had initially planned to take them to San Diego, but that didn't pan out. Amy had a class to take to reduce a ticket she got while visiting earlier this year. She couldn't miss it, and to get her there on time wouldn't have left us much time in SD. We couldn't make the trip work any other time during the visit. So that's a bit of a bummer, but we have made alternate plans to visit OC next weekend. We'll spend time at the beach. My mom misses water terribly. Maybe hit the zoo, and stop at Ikea. It'll be a girls trip, plus Nicky. Football season is well underway and Frank can't get away.

This past weekend was filled with lots of swimming and general play. We also went to the Children's Museum. Nicky had a blast. Saturday, we drove out to Sam Boyd Stadium to see the Las Vegas Locos. Sugar Ray performed during half-time. Nicky didn't much care for watching football, he was pretty adament that he wanted to play. We kept him occupied with boom sticks. He thought they were pretty neat.

Monday we attempted an off-road excursion to Carpenter's Canyon in Pahrump. It was a bust, because we ran into troubles with the 4WD, we didn't know it at the time, but the fuse blew. The trails we did explore ended up being too narrow for the Suburban they're more for ATV's and bikes. We did stop and have a picnic. So, all was not lost.

That night my mom checked into the Plaza. She had a couple nights to use. I stayed in with Nicky, our adventures were limited to the arcade and an attempt to watch a light show, but Nicky wanted no part of Kiss and insisted we go back to the hotel. Meanwhile, my mom played slots at Plaza, and Frank and Amy hit Fremont Street to casino hop. I'd say it was her first night wasted in Vegas, but I'm pretty certain that's not true. I seem to remember her riding the grain train courtesy of my friends and La Bayou on my wedding night. She and Frank played poker and table games. She has a new found love for roulette at Fitzgerald's. She had the most luck there. Elsewhere, she lost the money as quickly as Frank won it. Fortunately, Frank was winning and he was able to bankroll her play. They came rolling in at 4:45. We said good-bye and Frank and I drove home and climbed into bed just before the sun came up.

Our last activity was Tuesday. Frank and I took Nick to the Putt Park. It has 18-holes. He was interested for the first eleven. Then he was over it. He did really well, though, he even got a birdie.

Tonight, I rest.

I planned to share photos, but I failed to upload them to Picasa, and Facebook is down. So, they will come later.

Most photographed boobs

September 17, 2010
Our fine city loves the ta-tas. I wonder whose are the most photographed? Holly Madison might be up there. Her cleavage can be spotted all over town. Then, there are all ads for stripclubs and escort services. Not too mention, those for clubs. I could go on and on, but I think Mandalay Bay has itself an unexpected tourist attraction, the body wall outside Shanghai Lilly near Aureole. Particularly, the boobs.


Men and women alike can't resist the urge to touch 'em and pose with them for an ultimate Vegas souvenir. I know it's always a big attraction with those I visit with, my sister's boyfriend was no exception. Amy's final outing before Nicky arrived was to Mandalay Bay's Shark Reef. And this is what I remember most.

I was reminded of it last Friday when Frank and I dined at StripSteak. You can read all about our meal over at LLV, Vegas Values: More Than Steak at StripSteak. I was meeting Frank, I arrived early and he got stuck in traffic so I waited outside the restaurant a good 15-minutes. The people-watching was wildly entertaining. If I had to guess those boobs were photographed at least once every two minutes. The funniest was a group of girls celebrating a bachelorette party that stopped to pose with their penis straws. They must have taken a dozen obscene photos. They had a riot, and it was just as fun to watch.

Have you fondled these jugs? Do you have photos to prove it?

Part fish, I swear

September 16, 2010
Ever see a duck soar? Well, here you go.



It was SO GOOD to see Amy and Nicky. They were at the house with my mom when I got home from work. Nicky was hiding under the kitchen table. They tried to tell me he missed the plane. He surprised me, and we exchanged a big hug. Then he pulled me around asking a hundred questions. He was quite perturbed that my cooking frog was gone. It was a lawn decoration the previous owners left behind, it had gotten old and cruddy so we threw him away. I never knew it made such an impression on him.

We played a little frisbee golf, then he had me sit--top stair, Auntie Kellee... by me. He's grown more. Looks even more boyish. And he has the cutest freckles on his cheeks. He calls them angel kisses. Amy said when he finds a new one, he says Grandma Rose visited me last night. Very sweet. The ice cream man came. Mom bought us all ice cream. Nicky was hysterical with his excitement. We all ate our ice cream in the backyard. Nicky wanted to check on the fish in the pond. He tried to catch one and nearly fell in in the process. He told me, "get it, get it! Auntie Kel! I want to touch it". "No way!", I said. I told him to name the fish. He said he needs to hold them to give them names. Not a chance. He then relented and named them Symbol. All of them.

He convinced me to swim. Frank heated the pool to 83. It was still damn cold. I froze. I sucked it up best I could. I think there was a 10 minute window where I got used to it after the initial chill, but then the chills set back in. Nicky swims really well, and has no fear about going under. It was really wonderful to see he's still a fish. Frank got home and swam with Nicky. They had fun making big splashes. Mom rested, Amy and I prepped dinner. Frank grilled, Nicky and grammy played while Amy and I got salad together. Rosemary ranch kabobs, greek salad and garlic bread for dinner. Tasty.

We played some more after we ate. Then, Frank and I took Amy to Sahara for $1 Blackjack. Mom stayed home with Nicky. Amy's first hand was a blackjack. Too bad she only bet a dollar. We played a couple hours, she and I lost $20; Frank lost $50. Drank a couple beers while playing, earned free play from the current blackjack promotion, played that, lost and came home. Nicky and grammy were both passed out. It was fun to have Amy at the tables and share a drink with her legally. Wild to think my little sister is old enough, though. When we got home, she finished Nicky's juice box. Seeing that reminded me she'll be my little sister forever.

Shocked! I tell you...

September 15, 2010
Each morning on my drive into work I listen to one of the local radio shows. Last week they had some time off. When they returned they told tales of their vacations. Mercedes, the female voice of the duo, went to New York with her family. She shares that it's become tradition that every NY trip she buys a new purse. This trip was no different, but rather than making a day of shopping they stopped at the store after the Yankees game. Still in game attire, they weren't treated with the best customer service. In fact, they were ignored until her husband commented and pointed to a bag that she already had. That perked up the staff's attention and finally they were assisted.

She chose a purse, and asked to have it shipped. When she got back to her hotel she had buyer's remorse and called to have the transaction cancelled - why reward a snooty staff with a large purchase? As she told this story, the male counterpart on the show worked to pry the cost of the bag from her. She refused, claiming she was embarrased. But later, admitted it was more than $2000. She plans to purchase this purse with her regular purse lady, that had since changed stores.

$2000 on a purse?! Do you know what kind a trip I could take with that kinda money? I was completely shocked. It's hard enough to believe that designers would ask that much, but for people to actually pay it?! Wow. Celebs, and the rich ok... Spending is relative. But geez. I was completely blown away. I listened to Playboy radio (I miss it terribly, btw) daily for a couple years, and I heard all sorts of weird, wild and crazy things but not one story or caller shocked me the way spending $2000+ on purse did.

I'm still flabbergasted. It seriously does not compute. My purse cannot cost more than I can regularly carry inside it. I don't think I've ever spent more than twenty bucks on a purse. I realize I'm pretty cheap, and way under the average, but still--$2000 is just plain nutty. Mine is on the ground half the time. If you carry around a purse that costs thousands what to you do with it while you eat at a restaurant?

What makes this whole story even crazier is that her husband supports this purchase. He encouraged it. This must be fiction, it can't possibly be true. Can it?

Onomatopoeia

September 14, 2010
Some words just make me smile. Onomatopoeia is one. Go ahead, say it. It's fun, isn't it? Discombobulated is another amusing word. Both have stuck with me since I first heard them in school as a kid. Skedaddle is another favorite.

Anyhow, how's that for randomness? It's feeling like a random thought sort of day.

Been sending out lots of healing vibes. Glad that Mikey has made great strides since his scare. My cousin's husband is also in the ICU. His diagnosis isn't clear, he went in with difficulty breathing. He's not doing well. I'm hopeful they get answers soon. To be in such bad shape at 32 is terrifying. Also, heard today that a friend's baby needs hernia surgery. Particularly worrisome when they're so wee. Hopeful for full and quick recoveries for all.

Makes me particularly grateful for my health and days. I'm so excited about Amy and Nicky's arrival tomorrow. I can barely contain myself.

Caught up with an old friend. Among other things she said "you've always had your shit together" talking about Frank and me. It was nice to hear. We do try to make the most out of whatever. We do our best to do so with a clear head.

I do feel like there's more for me out there. Not sure what it is. But I'm working toward making smaller goals a reality so I can go after the bigger ones.

I'm dying to go to Italy. A blogger in my reader has been sharing details of her trip. I am in awe. There have been few things I've wanted more. I must experience Italy. I'd love to make it happen in 2011, but 2012 seems more realistic.


What is it about fall that stirs up change? I always get antsy. Last year, I cut my hair short. It has taken forever to grow back. I won't be doing that again. Instead, this year, since I got over my fear of coloring my hair and all; I decided to go darker. This is my new color for fall.

Can you believe my eyes are still healing from the sunburn I got in San Diego? I saw the eye doctor on Friday. He suggested lubricating drops, I hadn't been using them because my eyes were super watery. It seemed futile. But after his explanation it made sense that they can be useful. Same idea as lotion or aloe vera on the skin after a sunburn. He urged me to wear sunglasses. Similarly, last week, the Dermatologist urged me to wear a hat and more protective sunblock. As much as I love the sun it doesn't love me. Fair-skinned redheads weren't meant for the desert - I need to accept that. I must be diligent to protect myself. Otherwise I might curl up like a raisin in the sun. So, I'm working on it. I'm working to make wearing sunglasses while driving a habit.

I need to go hat and sunglass shopping. When I was out over the weekend. I thought about looking at hats. But all I heard in my head was my mom yelling at me "don't put hats on your head, you'll get lice". Yes, it was like I was a 10 year old girl. I tried to get past her words, but I couldn't do it. I was skeeved out. Must suck it up and shop.

I've been craving sushi like mad. Must correct that soon. Also, thinking I need to try Vietnamese food. I think I'd like Pho. It's time to seek a place out.

I suppose I'll end the randomness with food. It's lunch time and I'm hungry. Grumble.

Press "2" for English

September 13, 2010
You might remember earlier this year, April 1st to be exact, I booked our hotel and airfare to Xpu-ha, Mexico. This has been a long awaited trip, what was once an annual event had been cancelled two years in a row. When this year rolled around we weren't letting anything stop us. Funds were in the bank, time off was available so we made all the arrangements. We were booked! Eight months in advance to boot. All we had to do was countdown the days...

Or so we thought. Turns out Mexicana's great deal on airfare was too good to be true. The airline has went bankrupt. Lovely. This means my funds are tied up until who knows when and I need to find new flights.

I filed a claim with Mexicana, and then they changed the forms online so I had to resubmit. In order to do this I had a make half a dozen phone calls. The first attempts were to lines that were automated espanol only. I can pick up on some spanish, but I'm not that good. Finally, found another number that had an English option, and after several tries I even spoke to a person. After all the hassle, I got the scoop. Mexicana has until December 15, 2010 to contact its customers that have paid for their flights. They are working hard to get out responses before that date. I was told to expect word in 35 days. Not clear what that means, will I be refunded? Will I be told to stick it, we spent your money? I guess I wait and see.

In the meantime, I have to book airfare for the specific dates we took off and reserved the hotel. Surprise, surprise, fares are quite a bit higher today than they were in April. Not to mention half the flights send us on a goose chase across the country. In what world does Las Vegas to Cancun via Detroit make sense? Delta has a flight we might book. It's the lowest fare offered and its connection is in Atlanta. I'm just not sold on the price. It has come down since I started looking, and other airlines are $62+ more so I should probably book, especially since we are less than three months out. Decisions, decisions. Why can't other airlines be like Southwest? I love that I can rebook if fares drop and use the credit for a future flight. Better yet, why can't Southwest fly to Cancun. It would make my life much easier.

Sage, as promised

September 10, 2010
Earlier when wrapping up Restaurant Week, I mentioned that I had one last meal to share, and the details would come on Friday. Well, today's the day. Check out the scoop on Sage at Vegas Values: Sage Delivers

A GRRReat Day!

September 9, 2010
I saw a commercial for Frosted Flakes the other day, it was the first time in ages. Tony has been stuck with me, since. Gosh, commercials are terrible ear worms. Anyhow, yesterday really was a great day.

First, I got final confirmation that a photo I took will be featured in Esquire Magazine. It'll be published in the November 2010 issue. I've been published online, but this is my first time in print. I'm very excited.

Second, airfare from Chicago to Las Vegas dropped. My mom and I booked tickets for Amy and Nicky to come visit. It's been 6 months since they were here and we've missed them terribly. I was ready to book a flight to visit them over Thanksgiving, but this is so much better. They'll be here for nearly three weeks. They'll split time between my mom's house and mine. Best part is they come in on Wednesday. We have very little time to wait for their arrival.

I guess we had good timing washing Nicky's car. While we had the powerwasher out over the weekend Frank gave it a touchless wash. It had been kept at my mom's house, but he had trouble riding it in the dirt and rocks. We thought he might be able to enjoy it more at my house - he'll be able to cruise better on the sidewalks. Plus we live on a cul-de-sac, the neighborhood kids play out there all the time. Nicky can probably pick up some chicks with his ride.

The weather is cooling down so visits to the park will be easy. We can also take advantage of outdoor activities. Nicky really enjoyed hikes on past visits, I think we might have to do another. Weather is cooling down, but it's still warm enough to swim. Well, for most people. For me to get in there we're going to need some help from the heater. The gas bill will be worth it to have those memories with my nephew. Then, this trip is partcularly special for my sister. It will be her first time in Las Vegas being 21. The poor girl has visited two dozen times in the last decade. Finally, there will be no place off limits. She might find Las Vegas isn't so bad when everyone isn't telling her you can't be here, you gotta stay over there.

Kolob Canyons @ Zion

September 8, 2010
The last leg of our trip was to Kolob Canyons. I'm glad we didn't miss it.







Internet worked there, too.









This guy crossed our path during our Timber Creek hike



















It was an enjoyable scenic drive and hike. All in all, Zion is a must see. The sights are just amazing. I'm anxious to return in Spring.

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