Short & Sweet

June 29, 2011

Two antsy fools in love had to get out of the house on a toasty summer day. They thought a cold and creamy treat would hit the spot.

Enter Nielson's Frozen Custard. Two concretes: Oreo and Carmel Cashew and $11 later, cravings were satisfied. Overly, so. Concrete is best when shared.

Went for this, bought that

June 28, 2011
To pass time on my way to work, I listen to the local radio morning show. Some topics pique my interest and are totally relatable and others make me feel like I live in a world of my own. I encountered one of each this morning. They asked for stories of when you went to the store for __________ but came home with _________. Frank and I are guilty of this on a couple occasions. We once went shopping for a desk chair and bought a bed. I think we also bought a fish tank while looking for a desk chair. No clue how that occurred, but I'm pretty sure we need to exercise extreme caution when shopping for desk chairs. One of the funnier tales was one guy went to REI for a backpack and left with a canoe.

Then, the conversation turned toward being overwhelmed at stores and shopping stress. Several people chimed in that stores like Bed, Bath and Beyond, Costco and Target are overwhelming. The vast selection is too much to bear. Others admitted to having troubles limiting purchases and they fill a cart in no time. I dislike shopping, I get the dread of needing to go to the store. My frustration often lies in walking out empty handed when I was in specific need of something... this could be clothing, shoes or a grocery item. Walmart stresses me out, long lines, crowded aisles, and screaming children. But none of these were means of stress for those on the show or that called in. More or less they were stressed by lack of discipline, how bizarre? I thought.

I suppose for some it's a good thing Vegas doesn't have an Ikea. Could you imagine the anxiety that place could cause?

Excessive shopping or being overwhelmed by selection is not something that's ever phased me. It reminded me of when I was a teen and my dad always teased me about my trips to the mall. I'd go with girlfriends and after hours of shopping, all I'd buy were Swedish fish from the bulk candy store. I had money to burn, but I was always more of a saver than a spender. Now that I'm grown, I enjoy experiences more than material things so shopping is a matter of necessity much of the time.

Anyway, I'm always fascinated by behavioral differences. Are you one to be overwhelmed by stores or do you have a "went for this and came home with that" story to tell?

Spontaneity

June 27, 2011
Saturday, after I running my usual errands plus a few others, Frank and I found ourselves in the pool. It was about 5:30 when he said to me, "We could have Mexican in Laughlin for dinner if we leave now." I gave him a look and agreed, "we could." There was no reason not to go, so we went. Before leaving we called to see if we could snag a comped room, it was available! Frank secured the reservation while I packed us an overnight bag. Minutes later, we were on the road. We made great time, only 70 minutes. The speed limit was raised to 75 (somewhat recently) and traffic was extraordinarily light.

We had dinner at Casa Serrano. Frank had his usual, the El Padrino ($10.50). I tried their carnitas for the first time ($11.00). They weren't bad, but not tasty enough to ever order again. The salsa and chips hit the spot, though. The tortilla soup was tastier than I expected and get a load of their drinks, thirsty much?







After filling our bellies, we checked into the Colorado Belle. Frank flipped on the tv and was surprised to find porn. That's one way to welcome guests. We hit the casino, initially losing at everything we touched. We wandered over to Edgewater, but didn't stay long. We walked over to Pioneer, they gave Frank $35 free play, $25 meal voucher and three $5 matchplays. He used his free play and match play. We walked out $36 ahead. Back at the Belle, he played poker and I went to the bar to play video poker. I did well, played awhile and eventually hit 4OAK to walk away with $100. Frank made a little playing poker, too. He played a couple slots, after, but I quit while I was ahead. Back at the room we were surprised the free porn continued. Free room, free porn and I broke even. Win!

Sunday, after a trip to the outlet mall, we drove over to AZ (cheaper gas) we had lunch at El Palacio for more yummy Mexican. We took advantage of the lunch menu and ordered tostado and tamale with chicken and cheese flauta. Of course, we enjoyed more salsa, as well. Bill came to $15, you gotta love it.





On our way out, my belly was once again full. I told Frank that I'm an Italian Mexican stuck in an Irish girl's body. He agreed it's true. It is, it really is. I need to adopt an Italian and Mexican grandmother to teach me to cook. Anyway, we stopped for lottery tickets and soon found our way home. It was such a great impromptu getaway it only cost us $45 and gas. We got home in enough time to complete projects around the yard, so it was still a productive weekend too.

Milos Redux

June 24, 2011
Our first experience at Milos was Christmas Eve. It cost several pretty pennies, but it was a neat experience fit for a special occasion.

A couple months back Milos debuted a $20.11 three course lunch special available Monday-Friday noon-2:30pm. Yesterday, Frank and I met for lunch at the Cosmo to give Milos another whirl.

When we arrived a few minutes past noon there was a growing line outside the restaurant. The servers were running behind and as soon as they finished up the meeting of the minds we would be seated. Just as we were about to walk away, they began seating. We opted for an indoor table since it was a bit warm - hmmm, only about 104 - and we were warned that the misters weren't operational as they had recently caused a flood.

When we were seated Frank's booth was sprinkled with crumbs. Not something you'd expect from a restaurant of this caliber even if we were in for a special. Frank seemed hesitant to stay, I offered the opportunity to leave, but we stuck around. Fortunately, there were no other issues during the meal.

We noshed on grilled bread and olive oil while we waited on our first course.

Tomato Salad; a great summery dish. Light and refreshing.



Shrimp Saganaki; think bruschetta with shrimp and feta. Very tasty and the shrimp were perfectly cooked.



Lamb Chop; extremely tender and well- flavored. However, the sides were not notable.



Lavraki; flaky, lightly seasoned. Overall, a nice preparation. On par, with the fagri we had before (at a much higher cost).



Walnut Cake and Greek Ice Cream; very nutty cake rich with spice. I liked it best with the ice cream. Frank disagreed.



It really is one of the better deals running right now. This lunch special is a great way to sample the refined Greek cuisine that made Milos famous.

Estiatorio Milos (Cosmopolitan) on Urbanspoon

For my amusement

June 23, 2011


Summer is definitely here, we've seen triple digits the past week and today we're set to reach 108. The hottest day so far this year. The heat must be getting to me because I've been easily amused, first, by the above cartoon.

Then, the list of prohibited and approved items for the Electric Daisy Carnival (the dusk to dawn weekend rave) gave me a giggle. Ready for this?

PROHIBITED ITEMS
NO Illegal Substances
NO Drugs or Drug Paraphernalia
NO Pets
NO Massagers
NO Laser Pointers
NO LED Gloves or LED Microlights used for Light Shows
NO Pacifiers or Dust Masks
NO Eyedrops (available inside festival at the General Store)
NO Glass, Cans, Cups or Coolers
NO Markers, Pens or Spray Paint
NO Large Chains or Spiked Jewelry
NO Stickers, Flyers, Banners or Posters
NO Balloons, Balls, Inflatable Balls or Frisbees
NO Tents, Large Umbrellas, Chairs or Blankets
NO Backpacks Over 10”x10”
NO Camelbaks or Bota Bags
NO Large Purses or Bags (Anything Over 10” x 10”)
NO Stuffed Animals or Dolls (Including Plush Backpacks)
NO Open Packs of Cigarettes or Unsealed Tampons (Upon Entry)
NO Outside Food or Beverages (Including Alcohol and Candy)
NO Weapons of any Kind (Includes Pocket Knives, Pepper Spray, Fireworks, etc.)
NO Professional Recording Equipment – Photo, Video, or Audio (No Detachable Lenses, Tripods, Big Zooms or Commercial Use Rigs)
NO Video Cameras

*subject to change
ACCEPTABLE ITEMS
OK Small Bags, Single Compartment Backpacks and Purses (maximum 10” x 10”)
OK Reusable Insomniac Aluminum Water Bottles (must be empty upon entry)
OK Fanny Packs
OK Non-Professional Flash/Still Cameras
OK Cell Phones
OK Sunglasses
OK Hats
OK Lighters
OK Closed Packs of Cigarettes
OK Sealed/Wrapped Tampons
OK Earplugs
OK Sealed Chapstick and Lipgloss
OK Glowsticks
OK Glowing/Illuminated Costumes or Jewelry
OK Sealed Packs of Gum

PLEASE BRING
• Your Ticket
• Your Photo ID (please see identification details)
• Smiles
• Comfortable Clothing and Shoes
• Good Vibes

ENCOURAGED
• Festive Costumes

It ought to be wild with 250,000 people at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Expect to see a lot of "Do Not Disturb" signs during waking hours and I suspect the hotel pool's will be ghost towns. Well... at those that welcomed the EDC crowds, anyway. I heard several strip hotels inflated rates beyond New Year's rates to keep "the kids" away. I won't want to be anywhere near downtown or the strip just before dusk or after dawn. That's a whole lotta people that gotta go to and fro.

Lastly, I'll leave you with this blog post that had me rolling, because who could resist a 5 foot cock? "That's Why You Should Learn to Pick Your Battles."

Vegas or Bust

June 22, 2011

"Vegas or Bust!" That's what we said when we loaded up the last of our belongings into our vehicles. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I followed Frank to I-80W. The interstate had been part of my commute for years, but never for a journey quite like this. I can't say if those tears were for sadness or joy. All I know for sure is I've never been so excited or had such a fear of the unknown before.

I was twenty-three, newly engaged, recently graduated, I had just quit my job of five years and left all of my family behind. I put all of my chips on Frank and our future together. I knew the open road led to a fresh start, new beginnings, challenges and opportunities.

And, that, it has. Eight years ago we arrived in Las Vegas to follow our dreams. We've celebrated the best of times and leaned on each other during the worst. Given it all, there is no place else I'd rather call home. It's been a wild ride thus far and I look forward to the times that lie ahead.

Curious, can anyone else spot what's wrong with the vintage postcard?

Now that's better...

June 21, 2011
Less than two weeks ago, I was whining about sneaky airlines and having no vacations marked on the calendar. Today, Southwest announced their 40th anniversary sale offering fares from $40-$120 thru 6/23.

I jumped on non-stop flights to New Orleans. I'm relieved to book on Southwest, too, because we'll be traveling in October during the tail end of Hurricane Season. This way, we can cancel and keep the credit for a future trip if need be. I also reserved our hotel. I can cancel without penalty up to 72 hours before so if a better deal comes along we can rebook.

I can taste the jambalaya already.

I also pulled the trigger on flights to San Francisco for our annual November trip. Flights are $2 more this year compared to when I booked on Southwest's 39th anniversary. At the rate fares have increased, I'll take it. Our usual hotel, Tuscan Inn is way too pricey right now. We might stay elsewhere. There are no great deals to be had right now, but since it's five months out I'm comfortable with waiting it out a bit. I'll keep an eye out and hope for a bargain.

I can't wait to dig into some Dungeness crab.

M'mmm, I'm hungry.

White Sox vs. D-backs

June 20, 2011
Friday we got a later start than we intended. We thought we'd make it up on the road, but outside of Kingman, AZ we came to a hault for nearly two hours. A tanker and truck were in an accident that resulted in the tanker catching fire. It burnt the truck to a crisp and the fire spread across the highway. Shutting I-40 down in both directions. All we could do was wait it out.





















As soon as we got to our friend Shane's house we left to head to downtown Phoenix for the game. We grabbed a bite at Crazy Jim's beforehand it was really good. They make their own bread, pita and dough. I had a calzone with chicken, feta and artichokes. We also shared saganaki to start. We'll definitely go back.

We were able to buy tickets for $10 each from a guy selling outside the ticket window at the ballpark. It saved us time in line and $15 bucks. Chase field is a nice park (it's also the sixth stadium we've been to this year if you count Spring Training). The roof was open for friday night's game. We lost, but stayed for fireworks. The first couple shots went off no problem, the third failed to reach the sky before exploding. The top of the garage caught fire. The rest of the show was cancelled due to technical difficulty. Yeah, I'd say.. Our second fire of the day, wtf?

Saturday afternoon we tried a new Chicago-style hot dog joint, FrankNSteins, that opened in Surprise. They have all the right stuff, direct from Vienna Beef. It was tasty, but their fries were terrible. Will never bother with those again, but we'd certainly return for the beefs and dogs.

Saturday and Sunday we had VIP parking and club box seats because Shane's employer holds season tickets. We went to Alice Cooperstown beforehand to get a couple beers. Cool place, large beer garden. Just had to down the beers fast. They get warm quick in plastic when it's 105. Game was great, fantastic seats, the roof was closed so the AC was kicking and we won. Ballpark eats were lacking, for my something special to the park I tried a Nach-yo dog (hot dog topped with cheese, sour cream and jalapeno). I thought it'd be way better. Afterwards, we went to Brookside Bar & Grille we had a couple rounds while playing darts. We got hungry so we moved over to the restaurant. We shared 50 wings and had nearly 20 left over. Their firestorm wings are pretty hot, we washed them down with a couple pitchers of Dos Equis. I suspect we filled up on beer and left little room for food. Shane and Frank played a couple more rounds of darts, I sat out after yet another embarrassing attempt earlier in the night.

Sunday's game drew a big crowd. There were many in attendence to see another White Sox win. After the game, we dropped Shane at home and said so long until next time. Fortunately we had a smooth (fire-free) drive home.

Chase Field has a retractable roof and real grass.





The park's claim to fame is the Party Pool & Spa



D'back mascots







Always funny to see first at bats for pitchers.



We saw Paul Konerko's 17, 18, 19 home runs, they happened on the 17th, 18th and 19th. This was #17.





It was neat that the background for each player was a Chicago landmark. It rotated between 5 or 6 different sights.





Fiamma Still Has It

June 16, 2011
We dined at Fiamma dozens of times and we've never been disappointed. It's been far too long since we've stopped in for a meal. The special tasting menu and local offers dried up so we had no excuse to return, that is until our stay at Signature. We had a 7 o'clock reservation. Service was friendly and timely. Let's get on to the food!

Fiamma, Caesar ($10). Good flavor, just a shame it was so terribly over-dressed.



Fiamma, Calamari ($12). Delicious as always.



Fiamma, Scallop & Prawn Risotto ($33). Would have been better without the prawns, otherwise it was very tasty.



Fiamma, Lobster and Lump Crab Cannelloni ($32). Doesn't look like much, but it was excellent. Rich and decadent. It was dinner and dessert in one.



Fiamma Trattoria (MGM Grand) on Urbanspoon

Signature Staycation

We were long overdue for a stay at the Signature. Months ago I booked a night and we anxiously away our stay. We were in tower 1 this time, which was a first. The room was comfortable as ever, we requested airport view, but oddly all they had was strip view. We lounged in bed, soaked in the tub and really enjoyed ourselves. It was just what we had been needing.

We napped a bit, then dressed and headed out to be tourists. Frank hit a straight flush on $1 Jacks or Better, we now had a $250 bankroll, but we took $20 to the cage and got two rolls of quarters for signma derby. We played for a couple hours, it was a fun crowd and drinks were flowing. We bet big for our last race because we had to get to dinner, we had 7:00 reservations and it was already ten after, but we lost. Tremendous fun for little money.

We had an excellent dinner at Fiamma, then we walked over to Trop to see the new look. They have up to a $200 money back guarantee on new sign-ups so we hit the high limit slots and played $5 slots. We won $300. It couldn't have worked out better. We took the money and ran. We checked out Hooters since we hadn't been inside since it first opened. What a depressing place. We did a lap and left. No cute girls, dead crowd, one $3 BJ table, the rest of the limits were $5+. Back at the MGM, we returned to sigma derby and played until our quarters ran out. We had prosecco back at the hotel, we enjoyed the warm night on the balcony and took in the lights before retiring to bed.

Monday, we lounged around and then packed up. Another great stay at the Signature was behind us. The only thing more fun than playing tourist, is being lucky while playing tourist.

Balcony views...







PH Westgate Pool



Signature Tower 2 Pool





More Eats From StrEATS

June 15, 2011
After our taco taste test, we were still a bit hungry. We were already downtown so I suggested we check out StrEATS. The line-up of Food Trucks were a bit different this month, but that's part of the fun... seeing who shows, and tasting the variety of grub.

At StrEATs.

Food Slingers, Philly Cheeze Steak ($8). Bread was dry, meat was tender and the cheese was nice and melty. However, overall, it was very average and hardly worth the wait.



Food Slingers on Urbanspoon


Muncheez, Cheesy Lovers Delight with Bacon ($5). Not good on any level. Dry flimsy bread, congealed cheese and bland bacon.



Muncheeze, Piggy Mac: bbq pork with jalapenos and mac n cheese ($6). Potential was there, but the wheat bread choice was really poor.



Muncheeze Grilled Cheese Truck on Urbanspoon

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