January 31, 2011

Aranya Thai Bistro

Before I found Archi's Thai, I tried a half-dozen other Thai restaurants and not one was able to get me coming back. Once I found Archi's the quest had ended. I found delicious Thai eats. It is my go-to place, however, every now and then I'll try somewhere new just to be sure I'm not missing out on something great. This weekend we tried Aranya Thai Bistro. It's located on Flamingo near Grand Canyon Pkwy. We've been by it a bunch of times, but we're usually grabbing Fuddruckers or cupcakes from Mad Hatter. We were lured in because Frank's uncle had a discount with the Entertainment Book card.

The space is relaxed and nicely decorated, but frankly I don't care what a place looks like if it's tasty and priced right. Still a nice atmosphere is always appreciated. Frank and I ordered our standard Thai dishes: pad thai and spicy eggplant (staples that serve as a basis for comparison). Pete ordered spring rolls and stuffed chicken wings.

The peanut sauce was the highlight and the spiciest of the dishes despite specific requests for spicy. The eggplant was waxy and sweet. I was not fond of it. However, it was better than Frank's too sweet pad thai with overcooked noodles. He gave me a small portion to try and I had no desire to finish it. It was some of the worst I've encountered in town. Pete wasn't impressed by his selections either, and he's not biased he's never had Archi's.

To make matters worse, prices were on the high side and service was below average -- Timing was off and refills were slow. As you might imagine we'll continue to hit up Archi's to settle our Thai cravings.

Aranya Thai Bistro on Urbanspoon

January 27, 2011

One Can Hope, Right?

Last Friday, I got a call from our buyer's agent. The buyers were driving in from California and wanted to come by on Saturday to see the house. I agreed. They are already contracted to buy it, may as well show them what they were getting for their money.

Saturday morning came, and they arrived just before noon. They're a cute elderly Chinese couple. They toured the house and backyard. They were pleased with everything they saw and told me "you keep a very clean house." We were wrapping up the visit and their agent asked if we'd be interested in renting the house. In my mind, I thought, HELL YEAH! But I contained myself and said "we were interested. We plan to rent and stay in the area." "It's worth negotiating", I added. We agreed to discuss it at a later date when we knew more.

The more I thought about it, the more I loved the idea of renting our house. I wouldn't have to pack. We wouldn't have to find a new place and deal with everything that it takes to get settled. We wouldn't have to move. There'd be no need for for address changes and all that. We could stay in the house we love, in the area we love... Yes, this could be perfect.

It all comes down to how much they'll ask for rent each month. Frank has come up with a list of ways to bargain with them to get the number we'd like. They're paying cash, so it's just maintenance, taxes, association dues and insurance they need to worry about. I'd like to know sooner than later, because it means the difference of me packing and finding a new place to live or staying put. I figure I'll give it a little time, and then see if our agent can prod them a bit to see if we're in the same ballpark. I figure it's best case scenario for them, too. They have a built-in renter that has proven they take care of the house (non-smokers/no pets to boot). They'll start recouping costs immediately. They won't have to buy any appliances (they are not part of the contract) but if we stay we'd use them, obviously. We'd sign a 2 year lease. As far as I can see the monthly rent is the only deal breaker. It would be such a relief if this all works out.

First step is getting the bank to approve the sale. I got an email from the person currently handling our file, it was laughable. It asked for a bunch of information and stated how they were there to help sell our house. Too bad they failed to realize we already had an offer and it was under review with their negotiator.

There is no reason the offer should be denied, but who knows? I thought that once before when we had a cash offer on our condo. The bank refused it, and after our deed-in-lieu of foreclosure it took the bank 9 months to sell it for $20k less than that cash offer. Anything is possible.

January 26, 2011


I mentioned the other day that we will be taking vacation next month. We originally booked New York, but post-poned that until April. I was able to get the same price on flights during a much warmer month, it was an easy decision. That freed us up in February, we've been looking to get back to Chicago. February '09 was the last time we visited (we went back a couple weeks apart, due to death and illness). We haven't had a planned trip since 2007. It's time! We've been watching fares since last year. Damn, flights between here and there got expensive. I found a deal that worked for us, if you can call $247 a deal. It's just the lowest price I've seen for as long as I can remember. We never used to pay more than $200, and it makes no sense that it is cheaper for us to fly to New York than it is to Chicago. It is what it is. It will be worth it, though. We'll get to see family and eat old favorites, but I'm most looking forward to seeing my favorite boy. He called me the other day with a very important message. Ready for this? "I NEED suckers," he says. Then, Amy told me about this exchange while we chatted the other day. They were at my dad's watching Fraggle Rock. I gave my dad the entire series on dvd as a Christmas gift.

"Where did you get this, Grandpa Gary?"

"Aunt Kellee gave it to me for Christmas."

"You know her??"

"Yes, she's my daughter."

"No! My mommy is."

"Well, your mommy and Aunt Kellee are both my daughters."

"Oh", he says. He thinks for a moment then adds, "But she's in Las Vegas."

"Yes, she is. She mailed it to me."


I miss that boy.

When he heard we were coming he was so concerned over sleeping arrangements. He asked me to bring my own pillow because "he doesn't have enough." He's not sure where uncle Frank will sleep, "he won't fit in my toddler bed." I assured him there was no need to worry Frank would be staying at his mom's house. Amy says he's anticipating our visit. He knows we come after Valentine's Day. So, he continuously asks "Is it Valentine's, yet?" The worst will be the time after the holiday and the time we actually arrive. I'm pretty certain he will drive Amy mad.

So, we traded one cold destination for another. We'll be traveling late February so I'm hopeful it'll warm up by then.

January 25, 2011

A Pahrump Find

Pahrump isn't known for much outside of being the gateway to Death Valley and having legal brothels. It's home to Art Bell, Heidi Fleiss, my mom and 40,000+ other residents. It's a small town with good 'ole boy -- wild west -- appeal. Most residents escaped Vegas during the peak of its growth and headed for the hills over the hump for cheaper land, acreage and horse-property. The master-planned communities and concrete jungle developments chased them away. Pahrump offered these folks refuge. The town has grown in its own right, it now has a Home Depot and three street lights. It's fast-food offerings are growing, the casino restaurants and cafes are holding their own, but the mom & pop places struggle more than ever before during these challenging times. It's no hot bed of culinary delights, in fact, despite trying a number of places it's only the Mexican restaurant, Su Mesa, that I enjoy. However, its doors are hardly "always open" they've had a string of fires that closed them down for business. Fortunately, they're up and running once again. With Su Mesa consistently being inconsistent with its hours, it was time to seek out something different.

This weekend while visiting mom we had dinner at Villa Locale (670 Basin Ave, Pahrump, NV). It's been open six months or so. Mom doesn't like Italian food. Heresy, right? I told her to see if they serve steak. Most do, and I knew that would satisfy her. She ran into the owner a couple months back (small town and all) and she chatted him up and learned steak is indeed on the menu. So, when hunger struck, it was fairly easy deciding on Villa Locale. It has been praised for freshly made pastas and home-grown produce.

We dined in on Saturday night. There were a couple other tables with diners. Not terribly busy, especially for a Saturday night. I had to remind myself I wasn't in Summerlin anymore (for those unfamiliar, every restaurant is packed to the gills on weekends and during peak times in Summerlin - there is always a wait). One quick glance at the menu, and I knew my mom would not be happy. There was nothing on the menu she would eat. There was no steak. The best chance at pleasing her was a pork medallion dish with mushrooms and Gorgonzola cheese sauce. The waitress pleasantly came over to get us started. "No steak?", my mom questioned. "No, we've changed the menu", the waitress responded. "I don't like Italian", my mom uttered. I jump in, "can the kitchen make an alternative sauce with the pork?" "Hmmm, I don't think so, but let me check" She returns, "We can do a Marsala sauce with mushrooms." "Hold the mushrooms, and we have a winner." Once that's settled, Frank and I have to make our selections. However, our quandary was entirely different, how do we pick just one? Plus, we were working hard to make choices that fit into our new found healthier eating habits (this was our first meal out since Circo. Yes, two weeks seems like eternity). I ordered Penne Arrabbiata (spice level 8) and Frank had sausage and peppers.

We snacked on some sort of focaccia with Parmesan and sun-dried tomatoes. It was a bit dry on it's own, it would have been better served with vinegar and oil. We didn't ask for it, since we shouldn't be filling up on bread anyhow.

Our entrees arrived. My mom's Marsala pork served over roasted potatoes came out well considering it was made off the cuff. The sausage and peppers were very good, it's likely the best Italian sausage I've had out since leaving Chicago. My penne was very good, as well. The dishes are kept simple to keep the main ingredients from being muddled. In true locavore spirit, farm to table provides a freshness you just don't experience otherwise.

Villa Locale supposedly take the farm to table notion a bit further, they boast seed to table. Sustainable produce is grown organically on the owner's homestead. Anything they don't produce on their own, they buy from other local producers -- as close to home as possible.

It's a concept that would better serve Las Vegas crowds, but maybe if word spreads they'll be willing to make the 50 mile drive. It's a neat find, and prices by Las Vegas standards are very reasonable. Pahrump residents, however, will likely reserve Villa Locale for special occasions. Our dinner for three was $50.

January 24, 2011

Football is over

I know we still have the Super Bowl and all, but I no longer have interest. I know the Steelers and the Packers have a large fan base, but I have zero interest in supporting either team. I bought squares a couple weeks ago, so however those pan out will be my only interest in the game. It was a good season, I won my Fantasy Football league and it looks like I've locked up a victory in my Pick'em league.

With football drawing to a close, that means Frank will soon be back to Sunday and Mondays off. He'll probably be disappointed to lose golf time (he golfs, Mon/Tues), but having a common day off will allow us some adventures together. I want to get back to Red Rock Canyon and get more hikes in. Weekend getaways will be possible once again. We already have one weekend planned in San Diego. Then, we take vacation and it's back to working around the clock in preparation for March Madness. He'll get a brief break so we'll catch Spring Training in Phoenix, then it's back to the grind with the Madness Crowds. Then, there's a lull until the Derby. The damn derby has foiled plans of catching a Dirty Heads concert in Anaheim before a 3-game set of Angels vs. White Sox. The Dirty Heads have no Vegas dates for their spring tour and I hear they're going overseas for summer. It might be fall before I can see them again. Boo.

Back to football, those games yesterday were beatings. Seriously, the Jets and Bears played terrible. I caught much of the games with friends that were visiting from the Baltimore area. Our group of seven had lunch at America inside NYNY. Food and prices were better than expected, service was a bit slow (she seemed overwhelmed), but otherwise good. I had an enjoyable time playing tour guide. We went to Hard Rock and Flamingo, as well. Margaritaville was our destination at Flamingo, but they only have a few tvs, it's a terrible spot to watch games. I had no idea. I've only popped in for margaritas previously. We ended up having drinks and watching the Steelers/Jets game at Flamingo's Garden Bar. It sufficed, but my friend's cranberry and vodka was served in a dirty cocktail glass. It was rather gross. I said my good-byes and wished them well. Later, I got a text that she had hit a Royal Flush playing Jacks or Better. Lucky girl! It's been 7.5 years since my last Royal, which also happens to be my first. All in all, it was a good time. Lots of laughs! It sure is nice living in a city that so many frequent.

January 21, 2011


I love a good cheesesteak! One of these days I'm going to have to get myself to Philly to try an original. Then I can join the debate over who is better? Geno's or Pat's. In the meantime, I'll have to settle for what Vegas has to offer. Fortunately, we have some good options. My favorite Philly Steak Out (at Ft Apache/Trop) closed down awhile back. It was a sad, sad day when I learned I'd never get that tasty bite again. Ever since, I've been looking for replacement. I've had dozens of unmemorable sandwiches, some should be ashamed to have called theirs cheesesteak on the menu. However, a couple are stand outs. Before finding POP's I liked the cheesesteaks at Capriotti's. Then, Frank turned me on to the real deal over on Decatur. Get the details at Vegas Values: Direct from Philly.

Yes, I could really go for a cheesesteak and cheese fries about now. But I'll behave and enjoy my spicy chicken stew for lunch. One day I shall be reunited with that ooey gooey cheesy beefy goodness.

January 20, 2011

Vegas Help Line

My mom was in town the last couple days to enjoy time with friends that were visiting from out of town. I first brought her to Las Vegas in 1999, she came as a tourist numerous times before making Pahrump her permanent address. She drove limos and shuttles busses so she was pretty well versed on the city. After a succession of injuries she could no longer work; these days she spends much of her time on her ranch and as a result she's a bit out of the loop on Vegas happenings.

This is a second visit for her friends. They stayed downtown last time and missed much of the popular Vegas attractions. This time she was determined to show them around. Her navigation skills are a bit rusty and billions (like 12) of dollars have been spent on resorts since her tourist hauling days. Las Vegas isn't the same place as it was a few years ago. So, I served as her help line.

Are there discounts to Love? Where should we eat before the show? Where are the restaurants located? How do I get into the Cosmopolitan's parking garage? We should we eat at MGM? Location? Anything worth seeing at the Tropicana? Where is the Planetarium?

Whenever she had a question, she called for general information, directions or recommendations. Fortunately, I have the strip and downtown mapped, and I'm filled with useless knowledge that likely bores my non-obsessive Vegas cohorts. They do exist -- I know, it shocks me too. She only came close to stumping me with the Planetarium question. I knew it was part of CSN, but I wasn't sure which campus it was located. Seconds later, I had the address and hours. I love sharing the information. If my experiences can aid in a better Sin City adventure, I've done my job.

I know there are apps for and dozens of websites dedicated to unlock the plethora of information on Las Vegas, but sometimes a phonecall is easier. I was happy to answer the call.

January 19, 2011

Lettuce Wraps

Frank helped with dinner last night. We made Asian Lettuce Wraps based on this recipe. Here are my changes:

For the sauce:
3 tsp. hoisin sauce
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 1/2 tsp. rice wine vinegar
2 1/2 tsp. Sriracha hot sauce (we like spicy!)

For the filling:
2 tsp. canola oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 green onions, chopped
1 lb. ground chicken breast
2 cups mixed vegetables (I used veggie stir fry mix, chopped frozen in my chopper)

To assemble:
Butter lettuce leaves, washed and separated

Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and mix to blend.

To make the filling, heat a skillet on high heat with cooking oil. Once the pan is hot, add the garlic and green onions to the pan, and stir fry for a few seconds, just until fragrant. Add the ground chicken, breaking into small pieces, and cook until almost cooked through. Add the vegetables to the pan and cook for 5 minutes or until done. Mix in the sauce and cook for about 1 minute until thickened slightly.

Serve the filling in lettuce cups.

Even by doubling the sauce from the original recipe, we thought it was a bit dry so I made another batch of sauce for serving.

For the sauce:
1½ tsp. hoisin sauce
1 tsp. soy sauce
1½ tsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. Sriracha hot sauce

They were good and I was quite pleased that they weren't a dinner disaster. I was pretty convinced that they would be. Instead, we had ourselves a tasty healthful meal.

January 18, 2011

Veggie Lust

I grew up with corn and potatoes. The only greens in my diet were cucumbers and iceberg lettuce. Let me tell you, I've come a long way from my youth. My favorite veggies today are Brussels sprouts, asparagus and broccolini. I'm also a lover of eggplant (a fruit, I know, but I treat it like a veggie). Aside from raw celery, there are few vegetables I don't enjoy.

I suppose that made last week's meatless meals an easy success. Going vegetarian for a week was far easier and far more enjoyable than I ever imagined. The week of detoxing proved to be a success too. I lost 6 lbs and Frank lost 14 lbs. That's right, 20 lbs combined! It's a great start and it's very motivating to boot. We realize losses this week won't be as substantial (water weight and all that) but we're looking forward to maintaining steady losses.

This week has more of a low-carb focus, we have chicken on the menu a few times. I improvised on light version of buffalo chicken wraps the other night and it was a disaster. The Frank's Red Hot Buffalo sauce was terrible. Rotisserie chicken and lettuce turned to mush when mixed with the sauce and placing it in a soft wrap made it an ultimate failure. We tossed it, and opted for tuna. I also made Flat Out Pizzas with turkey pepperoni. They weren't nearly as satisfying as I remember them. This week is shaping up to be a bust. If it ends as such. I'm going back to meatless.

With veggies no defrosting is necessary. The produce is fresh and ready to go. Even when using frozen products there is no need to defrost. I love this. I hate defrosting meats. Hate it.

As I was shredding the rotisserie chicken I bought, I was reminded how disgusting chicken is. When I buy it raw, I buy in bulk from Sam's club. When I get it home, I start the tedious job of making it edible by removing the fat, blood clots, weird film and other nasty bits. I've tried buying the trimmed breasts at Smith's and other grocers, but I pay a ton more and it's not trimmed to my liking. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. So, I do. I leave behind a grotesque pile of yuck. It's disgusting, it really is, but better to see that pile of yuck rather than consuming it. Just the thought sickens me.

When I was slicing or chopping vegetables for meals last week. I enjoyed the experience. Each brightly colored veggie looked enticing. There was no disgust. I didn't need to run around the kitchen like a mad woman sanitizing every surface either. It was quite nice.

Last week's menu had the following:

Greek Salad
Eggplant Spaghetti
Ginger Veggie Stir Fry
Veggie Stew
Baked Spinach Ziti
Veggie Fajitas or Vegitas as Frank has coined them.
Eggplant & Red Pepper Sandwiches

Only the veggie stew was a flop, I used my beloved Spicy Chicken Stew recipe omitting the chicken and doubling the vegetables. Lunches were salads and leftovers, and breakfast were my usual variety of yogurt and triscuits (I have an addiction). Frank had salads at work, and Cheerios for breakfast.

I never really used red pepper before. My goal each week is to introduce a new ingredient each week. Just to expand our horizons a bit. The Red Pepper was great in the stir fry and the fajitas. My favorite use was broiled with the eggplant for those sandwiches. It was so fresh and delicious.

I could go for one now. However, for tonight's dinner I'm giving lettuce wraps a go, with ground chicken. This will be my first time using ground chicken. Hopefully, it'll be a success. I'm not sure I can take another failure this week. I don't mind trying new things, but it's beyond frustrating when recipes or creations are disasterous. I won't waste calories on bad food, so it's such a waste of time and effort. I find it very discouraging. Wish me luck.

January 17, 2011

Movies & TV, okay football too

TV and movies combined have been dreadful. Seriously, I don't know how the Golden Globes were able to choose winners. The Academy should just cancel the oscars, truly. The best movie I saw in 2010 was the Social Network. Has Facebook invaded our lives so much so that is the best Hollywood has to offer. Really? The (HFPA) Golden Globes apparently thought so. I do agree it earned the Best Screenplay, but best picture? How sad is it that it was likely best picture (I haven't seen The Fighter or Black Swan)?

This weekend we caught The King's Speech and True Grit. Neither movie interested me in the least, but after complaining about such drivel friends urged me to see both. Admittedly, they were better than I expected. The friendships formed in each film were extraordinary. Both were well acted, but I didn't love either one. Each fell short, they took SO much time to build the story the endings fell flat. I couldn't help thinking, "I waited ALL this time, for this??"

As for TV, "Boardwalk Empire" was great. It's the best tv I've seen since "Breaking Bad". I cannot believe the BB premiere is delayed until July, by the way. Pure torture, I tell you. I liked "The C Word", "Louie" and I'm currently on board with "Episodes" but aside from those I failed to enjoy anything else new. Most shows seem to have trouble writing past the first season or two "Always Sunny in Philadelphia" might be one of the few exceptions. Well, that, "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men". Old favorites have grown to be ridiculously trite like "Dexter", "Californication", "Big Love", and "Weeds" must be the worst offender. Even "United States of Tara" was a disappointment.

I had high hopes for "Shameless" I was loving the idea before the premiere, now, two episodes in, I like it less and less the more I watch. I wish they'd stick with the grit and forego the hokiness. Yet, "Episodes" is clever and witty. I hate hollywood fakeness and they poke fun at it like mad. It's the most clever thing I've seen since "Curb Your Enthusiasm". At least, I can look forward to that each Sunday night for the next few weeks.

While talking TV I mine as well mention football, because I anticipate the highest ratings in years next week. Bears vs. Packers, talk about a rivalry. Noise pollution in Wisconsin and Illinois will go up several decibels. Even right here in Vegas, it's going to be crazy! Steelers vs. Jets, now that's a big game, too. Bars are going to make hand over fist this Sunday. I'd put money on it.

The Bears' NFC championship rests on Cutler. I'd love to see him have a good day, it'd be great for Chicago and Bears' fans across the country to see them in the Super Bowl. I'm siding with the Jets, as well. As long as they put their best foot forward, they should have the game locked up. Har.

January 14, 2011

Going down

I love seeing the numbers on the scale go down. We've been meatless since Sunday, it seems our detox is going well. Frank said he was missing meat, but admitted it was probably in his head. I haven't missed it one bit. I won't be going vegetarian or anything but I can see myself committing to more meatless meals. I made my first stir fry this week. It came out well. However, we've learned Frank isn't a fan of ginger so I'll be cutting that out, and I'll also add siracha next time. The red pepper flakes weren't cutting it. We like heat!

I altered this Ginger Beef Stir Fry recipe.

1 tsp. cornstarch
¼ cup cold water
2 tbsp. plum sauce
2 tsp. ginger
1 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp. red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thin
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced thin
1½ cups small broccoli florets
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
4 green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp. lightly salted peanuts, chopped
Rice, for serving

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water; whisk until smooth. Stir in the plum sauce, ginger, soy sauce and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

In a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat, add the oil to the pan and heat through. Add the peppers, broccoli and carrot pieces to the skillet and stir fry until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Mix in the green onion and garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the sauce to the pan, stirring well to coat everything. Cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes more. Stir in the peanuts.

Switching gears, I'll leave you with this week's article Vegas Values: Time is Running Out. Check it out for more details about The Lion King at Mandalay Bay.

January 13, 2011

Aye! Sold?

Yesterday, we got a cash offer on our house sight unseen. I've been dodging showings because we're in no rush to move. Well, my plan back fired. Unlike the previous offer we received this one had nothing for us to counter. It's obvious they're investors. It's clear, cut and dry. All we could do was sign it and send it off to the bank. Now, it's in Wells Fargo's hands.

I have no clue how long approval can take, but we're hoping for a long while so we can stay put. Assuming the offer is accepted, closing will be 30 days after approval. I anticipate a mad scramble to find a rental and to set a moving date. I don't mind the idea of relocating, but I'm dreading the move itself. My mom's move was so nightmarish. However, ours is certain to be much easier. That's a guarantee.

I should look at the brightside, house hunting is always fun. It's not in our desired area, but look at this beauteous rental...

I think we'd consider the extra commute, it's gorgeous. Ultimately, we're looking to stay near our current neighborhood, we really enjoy the Southwest part of the valley. Once, we get the green light the search is on. In the meantime, it's time to purge and pack.

January 12, 2011

1:11 1/11/11

I just noticed that yesterday's post posted at 1:11 on 1/11/11. Pretty wild! The date made for a big wedding day in Vegas, too. Although, I think none can top the crowds that wed on 7/7/7. Yesterday, our friends also had their baby girl. What a fun birth date.

January 11, 2011

Changing My Porn Name

AVN just came to town -- the poor maids. The night of the awards show over at the Palms, I heard a commercial selling last minute tickets. I would never for over the cash to attend, why would pay to see porn stars clothed, when I can see them naked online for free? Anyway, during the ad I heard the best porn name ever, Craving Morehead. I want to trade mine for that. M'mmm k. You know your "porn name", right? It's when you take the name of your childhood pet and combine it with the name of the street you grew up on. Well, I'm trading in Corey El Morro. Corey was a good dog, but from here on out, I'm claiming her name was Craven. And there is Morehead University so why can't I have lived on Morehead Rd or something? No reason that I can see. So, that settles it then. No? Ok. Ok. But you've got to admit it's a great name. If you know of a better one out there, let's have it.

January 10, 2011

Much Needed & Shape Ups

I had a restful, yet fun-filled weekend and it was much needed. We really had a great time, and the best part was extra time together. We're coming up on 14 years and we still cherish time together. We haven't grown tired of one another -- imagine that. Frank only worked late on Friday, so we had plenty of time to just be us. We snuggled in bed, watched tv and laughed. A lot. We broke away to enjoy dinners at Raising Cane's, Miller's Ale House and Circo. Frank chose Circo as his birthday meal (over Delmonico) and it was a great choice. We had a perfect meal. Seriously, it was stellar. We also saw Lion King over at Mandalay Bay. It was good, but I felt they could have cut the intermission and a few scenes to package it into a 90-minute show. Still, I'm happy we got a chance to see it before it closes later this year.

All last week, we stuffed ourselves silly with our favorite eats. I've gained 5 pounds. I suppose that was the goal. Well, not mine, but Frank's, he wanted to bulk up right before weigh-in to be able to go after the biggest loss. My gain was casualty of being his dining partner in crime. Not that I'm complaining, my pants still fit. Thank goodness. Today starts our "Get Fit" challenge. I've planned 6 vegetarian meals to get us started. Yep, that's right we're going meatless! Tonight, detox begins. Greek salads are on the menu.

While I was out shopping for healthy groceries, yesterday, I couldn't help stopping in HomeGoods/TJ Maxx. I found a pair of Skechers Shape Up Toners for 40% off, I tried them on and they shockingly fit like a glove. I remember trying on a pair (by another manufacturer) when they first hit the market about three years ago and I felt like I was going to pop a knee cap. They were hard and generally very uncomfortable. These Skechers were like walking on air, so I bought them. I used them today during my workout, I'm still skeptical about their ability to burn more calories or provide additional toning, but I'll take any help I can get. Worst case, they'll tide me over until I need a new pair. Anyone been using these or something like it, and see results? Just curious.

January 7, 2011

Happy Friday!

I'm so happy the weekend is only a couple hours away. This has been a long ass week, but it's ended on a high note. It's been a great day! Frank was able to schedule an appointment he's been waiting a month to get. I registered for a photography class that'll start March 5. I also got a pleasant surprise when I opened my paystub, I got more money for Italy or a raise, depending how you see it. Things are looking up in Las Vegas! This is our first raise since 2008. The last couple years have been all about cost cutting, this is really fantastic.

I exercised 3x this week fulfilling my weekly goal. Frank and I are both geared up for the healthy challenge. This is our last weekend of indulgence for awhile. We have every intent to eat well, the piggies that we are. Tomorrow night we're seeing Lion King over at Mandalay Bay, I'm thinking we might check out Border Grill or Fleur. Frank hasn't cashed in his birthday dinner, so I'm thinking we might do that on Sunday. A fun weekend is ahead.

I'll leave you with the scoop on the New York-style slices at Cosmo, Vegas Values: "Secret" Pizza.

January 6, 2011

Southern Gaming

Last November Southern Gaming Magazine contacted me to write an article for their January issue covering what's hot in 2011. I jumped at the chance to showcase Las Vegas. As you all know, I love this city and I really enjoy sharing tidbits. There is a lot to look forward to in Las Vegas in 2011.

Without further adieu, What's Hot in Vegas: Sin City Spotlight.

January 5, 2011

Let's Talk Goals

The New Year gives us another chance to get it right. "It" can be anything. Some choose resolutions, others simply set goals, but we all generally want to achieve some level of improvement. I don't think I've ever clearly laid out resolutions or goals for that matter. Timing, luck and encouragement from friends and family has gotten me where I am today. I'm very grateful. However, this year I'd like to set real goals. Simply saying I want to travel more won't do. Although, I do want to travel more. I really really do. That brings me to my first goal.

Get thy ass to Italy. We've been talking about our dream trip for ages. The time has come to make it happen. We've opened a savings account solely for Italy. I get paid weekly, and with each check we're socking away $50 into the Italy fund. $2400 won't exactly get us there in 2012 like I want, but when coupled with extra income like gifts, gambling winnings and bonuses it makes it far more doable.

Shrink thy ass. January 10 is the start of our health challenge. Frank is taking part in a "biggest loser" sort of challenge through work, his team is competing for the biggest loss. I'm tagging along on this challenge to shed a few pounds and to tone up some flab. This week has been splurge-tastic, but then we buckle down for the long haul. We will exercise at least 3x week, anything beyond that is a bonus. I will menu plan 6 healthy dinners a week. We get one day to relax. No going overboard, but we'll earn a day of freedom for sticking to the plan all week. The challenge runs until April. The big reward, besides abs of steel and a smaller ass -- oh, and better health -- is New York. The sweet glorious eats in New York City.

Move thy ass. I've talked about doing the Santa Run for a couple years now. However, it's been all talk. I will take part in the Santa Run this year.

Wisen thy ass. I've been talking about taking a photography class or workshop for quite sometime. Again, it's time to do it. I also need to attend monthly writers meetings. Crazy schedules and excuses kept me from most in 2010, the time has come to make it priority. It's worth exploring...

and lastly, don't be an ass I will work harder to build relationships.

January 4, 2011

2010 Bests

All the snow has melted. I even saw the sun this morning. Now, if only we could have warmth... Soon. Soon. I was thinking about it yesterday, February is less than a month a way that means winter is nearly over. February has crisp days that are nice in the sun, nights are still chilly but I can certainly deal. I welcome 60's at this point.

Enough of my bitchin', how about some bests of 2010?

Best Bite - Sage at Aria, they blew me away with the restaurant week menu. I really need to return to see how their everyday menu measures up.

Best New Restaurant - Windy City Beefs N Dogs, It's fun to feel like you're in chi-town without ever leaving home. They've added gyros to their menu and they're good. Real good. They are scouting future locations, I hear there is even talk about a strip location. Imperial Palace is likely.

Best Find - Sushi Mon, we stumbled on this place and what a find?! All-you-can-eat fresh and delicious sushi.

Best Recipe - Spicy Chicken Stew, it's tasty, easy and healthy. 'Nuff said.

Best Getaway - Our spring trip to San Diego. We ate, we drank, we were merry.

Best Vacation - Xpu-ha, Mexico, this trip was long overdue. It recharged our batteries. It was just what we needed.

Best Concert - Dirty Heads, Henderson Events Center, small venue, dirt cheap tickets and one helluva show. Additionally, Any Port in a Storm was my favorite album this year.

Best TV Show - Breaking Bad, and I cannot believe I have to wait until July for Season 4. The horror. The horror.

Best New TV Show - Boardwalk Empire, with Scorsese, how could it be bad?

Best Movie - Social Network, even I'm a little disappointed in my pick. But this year was just dreadful for film.

Best Book - Winner Takes All, it's an older Vegas tale, but I read while in Mexico. It's a quick and enjoyable read. And one of the better told and fact checked books on Las Vegas history I've read. Interesting time to read it, too. Las Vegas' weak economy, Wynn abandons Vegas for Macau, Wynn had just snatched Marilyn Winn from Harrah's and CityCenter struggles... while Cosmo was gearing up to open.

Best Feat - In the worst times of Nevada history, highest rate of foreclosures and unemployment, Frank and I were both able to keep our jobs. Working in gaming and construction that's quite the achievement, we are incredibly fortunate. It was pretty bleak for awhile there. Here's hoping a better year is ahead for Sin City.

There you have it, the Best of 2010, according to me, based on my experiences.

January 3, 2011

Cold and Snow

We had the coldest New Year's on record. It was certainly not my preferred way to start 2011. I never saw the mercury rise above 33 on New Years Eve. I swore I was going to stay in all day just so I could pretend it didn't happen. I did venture out, however, we soaked in the hot tub leading up to New Year on the Eastcoast. To celebrate our own we dressed and drove up the mountain near the house. It provides spectacular views of the valley. There were about 5 bonfires keeping revelers warm, we kept toasty inside the truck until midnight was near. Then we hopped in the bed for unobstructed views. Happy New Year! The fireworks began. The 8-minute show was at least 3-minutes too long. It was just too cold to enjoy such a lengthy display. We stuck it out, but the second it ended we dashed into the truck for warmth.

Frank fought the crowds all weekend. He swears it was the most crowded New Year he's seen. He was beat when he got home last night. We relaxed in the hot tub. It was pleasant except that our Sunday night hot tubbing was interrupted by snow flurries. Fortunately, they were short-lived and none stuck.

This morning I peeked outside when I got up, at 6:15 it was dark and dry. No snow had fallen overnight. I went in the shower, the sun came up and by the time I got out giant flakes were falling outside the window. Say it isn't so.

I dressed and head downstairs. Not only only was snow falling, it was sticking. Yuck. 2010 was the only year I escaped snow. Every other year snow has fallen where I've lived, 2011 is no exception.

Nearly eight years ago, I moved to the desert to be free from snow... It looks like the joke is on me.

January 1, 2011


I caught an article earlier this week detailing 12 things that have become obsolete in the last decade. Ready for the list? Calling, Classifieds, Dial-up Internet, Encyclopedias, CDs, Land Line Phones, Film, Yellow Pages and Address Books, Catalogs, Fax Machines, Wires, Hand-written Letters.

It got me thinking about other things that no longer serve a purpose or things that are on their way out. Ready for my list?

Movie stores, land lines, newspaper, deposit slips, the VCR, watches, tv guide, grocery cashiers, maps, dictionaries, pay phones, bills by mail, checks, stamps, 900/976 numbers, incandescent bulbs, answering machines, tape recorders, boom box/stereos, travel agents, the need for spelling and complete sentences – thanks, texting and twitter. Thx.

I tend to think books, magazines and book stores will be on their way out. It’s all about e-readers and iPads. Trees will be saved, but how much battery power will be needed? Eh, that’s a topic for another day.

What say you? What is or will be obsolete?