Life List 41-50

October 30, 2013
    41. Create a non-profit.

    42. Strike up a conversation with a stranger.

    43. Have dinner at Joel Robuchon, MGM Grand.

    44. Be completely debt free.

    45. See autumn leaves in New England.

[Photo: Huffingtonpost]
    46. See spring blossoms in DC.

[Photo: Pictify]
    47. Host a dinner party.

    48. Celebrate 50th wedding anniversary.

    49. Visit make up counter.

    50. Start a tradition.

I would love to be so independently wealthy that I could invest my time in a worthwhile non-profit. Something that would make the world a kinder place. Possibilities are endless.

I'm not one who actively shares. I'm much more comfortable being an observer. Outside of work, it usually takes me a few encounters to feel comfortable shedding my shell. I've never been one to strike up a conversation just because. Doing so, would be a good way to get me out of my comfort zone.

$435 Tasting Menu? Yes, please! Honestly, I'd be satisfied with one of their Prix Fixe menus $127-$250. I imagine it would be an experience of a lifetime.

Debt free seems like a dream, doesn't it? We are well on our way for that dream to come true. We have no mortgage and no credit card debt. I paid off my car a while back. Currently, the only debt in my name is the loan for our RZR 900 and the bed we purchased in June. We could pay off the bed, but no interest is accrued so we're making payments to ease the burden. Frank only has a loan in his name for his truck he purchased this summer.

Fall foliage and Spring blossoms would be such fantastic sights to see! Timing is everything.

I've hosted holiday dinners and had friends over for dinner. I'm thinking of dinner party with three courses or something along those lines.

I would love nothing more than to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary (and more). That would be April 17, 2054 (crazy!) My heart melts whenever couples weather all those years together. My cousins grandparents just celebrated their 62nd anniversary. How awesome is that?!

It seems silly that visiting the make up counter made the list, and it might be, but it is what it is. I never learned to apply make up so you'd think it'd be natural to pay it a visit, but for whatever reason I am extremely intimidated by the idea. One of these days, I need to bite the bullet and try.

Traditions usually begin when you start a family, since it's just Frank and I we've never really established anything. I tend to make gouda pork chops for Christmas dinner and we try to make an annual trip to San Francisco each fall for crab season. Maybe those count?

Sapphire's Comedy Hour

October 28, 2013
Comedy at a strip club? Well, I'm sure comedy occurs in clubs all across the country. But an actual show? Yes, you'll find that here in Vegas, Friday and Saturdays at the Showroom inside Sapphire; the World's Largest Gentlemen's Club, they even have entertainment for the ladies with the Men of Sapphire. The Comedy Hour, however, was news to me. I didn't know about it until the lovely and talented Linda Lou announced she was performing. Comedy. Not dancing, just to clarify. I was fortunate that I was placed on the guest list. Frank was unable to go, but my brother happily tagged along. Strip club? Sure.

Before the show started, we were entertained with funny videos, magic and body painting. Our host was Donnie Johnson. Guest comedian was BReal Robinson, Linda Lou was the feature act, and P.J. McGuire headlined. In between, the darling Buttercup Delight dazzled with her burlesque. Scandal and Mon Dre entertained us with their slight of hand and other tricks and there was plenty of eye candy throughout. It was a fun evening. I might be biased, but I think Linda stole the show.

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The unexpected joke of the evening is that the Men of Sapphire actually perform in the Showroom. I did not know this. I figured it out when the room filled with ladies when the headliner neared the end of his bit. My brother was clued in about the same time. He couldn't believe I brought him to a male review. The promo video was enough for him to bolt. He wanted to wash his eyes out with soap, but it was coconut scented. Instead, we popped over to the lavish area where the ladies perform. It was indeed the largest room I've ever seen, classy, too. I'm sure it is a fun way to part with loads cash. We were welcome to stay, but we headed home. Party poopers, I know.

Life List 31-40

October 23, 2013
   31. Skydive

   32. Jump off the Stratosphere

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   33. Swim with sharks

   34. Roadtrip with no predetermined destination.

   35. Photograph an active volcano

   36. Experience Yosemite

   37. Drive the coasts

   38. Visit countries my family is from: Scotland, Sweden, Ireland, and Germany.

   39. Own my own business

   40. See Seven Wonders of the World: Roman Colosseum

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I've wanted to Skydive as long as I can remember. I think it would be such a thrill! After, several injuries to my ankles I didn't think they could handle landing so I wrote the idea off. Recently, I saw that when jumping tandem the person with experience puts their feet down first. So, there is a chance.

Although, I'm just now getting around to sharing, I jotted this life list down in January. I actually jumped off the stratosphere in April, so I can cross that off the list. What a rush! But not quite as thrilling as I expected. Still, I'm pleased that I did it. The photo above taken while getting suited up for the jump. You can tell by my big grin I was awfully excited.

Another adrenaline rush would be to swim with the sharks or one of those cage dives would be awesome. I have a hard enough time remembering to breathe while snorkeling so it will probably never happen, but I'd certainly give it a try given the opportunity.

Road trips are such fun. It would be great to head out one day and see where the road takes you.

I admire photographs from all over the world - I love me some Earth porn. While it's wonderful to see places through others eyes, there is nothing quite like it experiencing it yourself and having a keepsake from your perspective. Shortly, before we toured Italy, the Sicilian volcano, Mt. Etna had erupted. That was the closest I've ever come. I did photograph Mt Vesuvius, which is considered active but its last eruption was 1944.

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Who wouldn't want to visit Yosemite? Its beauty in photographs alone is breathtaking.

We've nearly driven/rode the entire west coast. We've driven from the US/Mexican border to Monterrey. We've taken the train and driven the coast between San Jose and San Francisco. We've also taken the train from Seattle to Vancouver. Someday soon, I want to fly into Portland, rent a car and drive to San Francisco. Then, we'll have traveled the entire west coast. Afterwards, we can begin planning the east coast.

I love experiencing various cultures, how great would it be to see where you came from? While, I've stepped foot in Germany, ate their sausage and tasted their beer, it's hardly enough to satisfy my desire to travel there. In fact, it only made me what to experience it more.

My only hesitation in owning my own business is the lack of vacation time. I know for a long while trips would be put on the back burner. But I think if I were doing something worthwhile, it would be worth the sacrifice. We've positioned ourselves to make it a real possibility, the only thing holding us back is that unique idea. If only I knew what I wanted to be when I grow up. Life would be much easier.

There are multiple versions of the Seven Wonders of the World, modern, ancient, etc. I'd love to see any seven of them. One down, six to go.

Foodie Fest

October 21, 2013
We couldn't resist the crave. We went to the Foodie Fest at Silverton on Sunday. The festival was three days, admission was $10 and you could return each day with the wristband. My brother went on Friday and only waited 20 minutes for White Castle (in the 10 or less line). In spring, the wait was four hours, they added more grills and were better organized this time around. We went in the 30 sliders or less line for a crave case. Who doesn't love a briefcase filled with sliders!?! For Frank, this was better than Christmas. The scent of grilled onions wafted in the air; after an hour wait, I admit I was hungry too. I haven't had White Castle in years, I don't miss it like Frank and many others do, but I ate two jalapeno sliders. Fortunately, I didn't regret it. These tasted like the real thing, not the crap you get in the freezer aisle. I still prefer In & Out, but these were a special treat.

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There were thirty or so other trucks on hand. We avoided the local trucks (knowing we can enjoy them during StrEATS) and sought out others from California. We've had a few before at the Food Truck fest at Del Mar and at Liquid Aloha at Liberty Station. Dogzilla was one worth repeating, we tried it at Del Mar and our minds were blown. Our tastebuds jumped for joy over the Furi Dog's spicy link with savory grilled onions piled high on a sweet King's Hawaiian roll, but it was the sushi like flavors (from the spicy Japanese mayo, homemade teriyaki sauce, furikake seasoning, and kizami nori strips) that put it over the top. We had never had anything like it, whenever we've visited LA we've been on the lookout for Dogzilla and here they were, they came to us. Yes! We had the Furi Dog ($7) and a Dogzilla ($7) (the beef frank), the Furi Dog is where it's at, it's damn good.

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We also stopped at the ToPo's truck which specializes in Tornado Potatoes. We ordered a Truffle Potato ($7) but there was no hint of truffle oil. It was good, but definitely not seven bucks good. The profit margin here must be huge!

A great find was the California Grill Truck. They were serving up Jalapeno Bombs ($6). Think of jalapeno poppers on steroids, these poppers were stuffed with meatballs and cream cheese then topped with sushi mayo and sriracha. Frank ate half the order before I snuck a photo.

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The final stop was a tent serving up deep fried treats. Twinkies, Oreos, Nutter Butters, PB & J, Nutella, cheesecake, brownies, candy bars and bacon. I chose the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup ($5). I had them hold the powdered sugar. This was another item with a high profit margin. The batter was a bit thick and held too much oil, but the gooey Reese's was a decadent treat. But, boy! Did it make me thirsty!

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Gold Mine Tavern

October 18, 2013
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Last Friday night, we went to Gold Mine Tavern to see, our friend's band, Priceless Advice. It's a small bar in downtown Henderson, we've been once before for a Dirty Heads after party. Back then, the venue didn't have outdoor space. The patio was such a pleasant surprise. It an open air, cozy space with tables, couches and heaters. It's also where bands and comedians perform. Priceless Advice put on a Nirvana Tribute show featuring music from In Utero. They got a late start, but they sounded great and it was a good time. The bar had some good choices on tap, which is always a bonus - Sculpin IPA flowed all night.  I love these small bars that host local bands.

Life List 21-30

October 15, 2013
   21. Visit Australia and New Zealand

   22. Climb a pyramid

[Photo: playa.info]


   23. Paint a painting.

   24. Drink a glass of wine in top ten wine making countries of the world: Italy,    France, Spain, Australia, Chile, US, Germany, Argentina, China and South Africa.

   25. Visit 20 islands.

   26. Taste 50 regional/local specialties.

   27. Pass through the Panama Canal.

   28. Learn to make tamales.

   29. Learn to make tortillas from scratch.

   30. Camp at the Racetrack, Death Valley.

Racetrack, Death Valley


Our next big trip will be Australia and New Zealand. We started saving for it right after we returned from Italy. I'd like to go next year, but time off might be a concern.

When we visited Coba in Quinto Roo, we had the opportunity to climb Nohoch Mul which is the tallest pyramid in the Yucat√°n peninsula. However, I didn't learn of it until after our visit. Yes, we completely missed it. I'm still not sure how it is possible. It served as a good lesson to research sights beforehand so you're armed with must sees.

One time we stayed at Colorado Belle in Laughlin and upon check in they gave us a paint by number picture of the Belle, a paddle wheel river boat. I had such fun with it, I think I'd really enjoy one of those Wine & Canvas parties.

Wines I've had in Central California and Italy, particularly, Orvieto, have been outstanding. It would be awesome to sample wines from the other eight top wine making countries.

Islands are relatively new to me, I'm pretty sure I've only been to four: Manhattan, Capri, Venice, and Guidecca.

I am fascinated by regional foods. It's probably my favorite part of traveling. I'm pretty close to achieving this life list item. If I count multiple local specialties from one city, I've exceeded 50 by far. Tying this into our ballpark visits has been fun, we've had Little Caesars in Detroit, Ichirolls in Seattle, knish in New York, Crab in San Francisco, just to name a few.

I'm not one that fancies the idea of a cruise. However, I think one that passes through the Panama Canal would be very neat.

I need to be adopted by a Mexican family. I absolutely love tamales and fresh tortillas. I'd love to learn to make both.

Years ago, Frank and I went to the Racetrack at Death Valley. It's an extremely remote location. We can only imagine how bright the stars must be at night. We decided one day we'd return to camp. We've since learned you can't actually camp in the Racetrack, but there are designated areas nearby. I'm sure the stars are just as bright.

Stripburger

October 11, 2013
If it were a few years ago, I would've recommended Stripburger. It used to be a favorite. Prices went up, competition grew fierce and it wasn't as convenient for me to frequent it so its been a long while since I've been.

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My brother and I were reminiscing and decided to grab dinner there tonight. I was pleased to see they still had the atomic fries on the menu. I recall them being delicious. They were still good, but I missed the heavy hand of jalapenos. These were pretty sparse. I ordered the jalapeno popper burger and he couldn't choose between the BBQ Whiskey burger or the Blue burger so he opted for the sampler of three sliders so he could try them both. He also got a shake since he used to love it. The burgers should have been prepared medium, they were medium well at best. The buns were dry, the meat crumbled. The fried cheese on my burger tasted like flour and grease. I pulled it off so it would be edible. His BBQ burger came with mayo and really threw off the flavor. At least, the shake was decent.



The waitress never asked how our meal was, but she was pretty prompt refilling drinks and taking our order. $40 later, we were wishing we went to In & Out and bought doubles for everyone in line. Money would have been better spent. It's a shame how bad this place has become.

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Life List 11-20

October 9, 2013
   11. Grow and eat my own vegetables.

   12. Set foot on all seven continents: North America, Europe, South America

   13. Attend Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque.

[Photo: kincaidcoachtours]


   14. Throw worries off a cliff ~ Frank's idea to write "worries" on a rock and let them go.

   15. Live in another country.

   16. Do something I never thought I'd do.

   17. Hike Cinque Terre, Italy.

[Photo: viaggixestate]


   18. Go to airport and buy tickets for random flight.

   19. Visit Niagara Falls.

   20. Fly first class.

Growing a garden seems simple enough, right? I've had zero luck in the desert. We had gardens growing up, so I have eaten fresh produce. There is no comparison. One day I'll get a garden to grow. One day...

Continents? Two down, five to go.

The Balloon Fiesta was just this weekend. We booked it last year, but we weren't able to go. What a sight it will be!

"Throw your worries of a cliff watch them as they plummet" inspired by Dirty Head's Day by Day, Frank suggested we toss our worries off our favorite cliff in La Jolla, CA. Last visit, I completely forgot a marker to write on a rock. Next time, for sure!

Living in another country sounds like such an adventure. Moving cross country as worked out for us. I'd love to live in Europe, there are so many travel possibilities nearby. And I'm often tempted to move to Mexico and spend my days on the beach. Last winter while the pond and pipes were freezing, I was thisclose to making it a real possibility. If the desert isn't warm enough for me, I'm not sure where else to go.

Doing something I never thought I'd do. Surprising yourself is pretty amazing. Facing fears (bridges and needles - allergy shots) and being published are a couple of examples of things I'd never thought I'd do. But I've done 'em. I think it's a good ongoing challenge.

Cinque Terre was supposed to be a stop for us on our adventure through Italy, but it had suffered damage from floods and it wasn't fully operational. We scrapped it to keep from wearing ourselves too thin and decided to visit on another trip when we could experience it in its full glory.

Travel Roulette seems so exciting. I'd love to hop on a plane and just go!

Frank has been to Niagara, but I haven't. It seems like it would be so magnificent.

Flying first class is a luxury, I'd love to experience. I get excited enough when we're booked on southwest flight that isn't full and the middle seat is left available.

I Love Sushi

October 7, 2013
What can I say? I pink puffy heart love I Love Sushi. We moved across town and it has been our favorite find. It's a real gem. The staff is great (bar and table service), the fish is fresh and the rolls are fun and mighty tasty. In the past few months we've been half a dozen times.

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When it comes to rolls we prefer those that are spicy. Sexy Time Special, Kiss of Fire and Sun Devil are favorites. They are a must each and every time. We also enjoy the sashimi. The yellowtail is like butter. The screaming orgasm is a great alternative. We've enjoyed others, but their names escape me. Each and everyone is delicious, though. I have no doubt everything is well executed. I am so thankful, it's not AYCE. I much prefer quality to quantity.

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Novecento Pizzeria

October 4, 2013
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If you were to marry Settebello and Custom Built pizza, Novecento would be born. I stopped in for dinner. It was pretty quiet and no wait, I ordered a margherita pizza with fresh tomato ($10). The staff seemed to be pushing the salads, I had four ask if I wanted salad - No thanks (x4). A wide spread of toppings is on display, much like Custom Built, but here it'll cost you a pretty penny if you add more than a couple. The crust is pretty thin and wet so you'd probably only want a few at most. But possibilities are endless. By the time I filled my drink and grabbed a seat my pizza was ready. It had a nice char, I wish it was a bit more crisp, but it had good flavor, and fresh ingredients. However, it is Settebello that brings me right back to Italy. My pizzas there have been more evenly cooked and a bit better flavor and texture. Had I never been there or Italy, I'd think more highly of Novecento.

Within a half mile on Eastern you can have solid NY style at Grimaldi's, great Chicago style at Windy City Beefs N Pizza and Novecento provides a taste of Italy with its Napoletana style pizza. It's win-win, for whatever your mood.

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Life List 1-10

October 2, 2013
At the beginning of the year, I set out to make 2013 a more fulfilling year. My intent was to improve my days by doing something for my mind, my body, my spirit, my relationships, my creativity and my passion. I wanted to focus on things that bring me joy. As the year has unfolded I strayed from the path I originally set out on. Instead, focus shifted to simplifying our lives to do more of what we enjoy. We've gotten a taste, but we haven't been able to fully reap the rewards from all the changes we've made this year. The good news is we've set ourselves up for a pretty amazing 2014 and years to follow. Operation simplify has been carried out so now it's time to again appreciate all that is joyous.

In January, I came across the notion of a life list. I was truly inspired by the idea, rather than a bucket list, this is a list to make life while living it a bit more lovely. Small goals, large goals, dreams, aspirations... whatever you want. I want to share my list before we fade into yet another new year. How is it that we're less than 90 days away? Crazy, isn't it?

My list is in no particular order, it's just how I scribbled it down in a notepad. It's a lengthy list so I'll be sharing it in segments.

   1. Step foot in every state.

   2. Visit every MLB Ballpark.

   3. Cross the Capilano Suspension Bridge.

[Photo: tourisminfo]
   4. Climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

[Photo: filmapia]
   5. Visit the Grand Canyon.

   6. Go Ziplining.

   7. Take my nephew to Cedar Point.

   8. Go to Oktoberfest in Munich.

   9. Visit a winery.

   10. Learn to say "Cheers" in every language.

I have 23 states under my belt, so I'm nearly half way there. And I've been to eleven ballparks.

Bridges were a fear of mine. I first conquered the fear by riding a bicycle across the Golden Gate Bridge. I didn't hear of the Capilano Bridge until after we visited Vancouver. It's a fantastic food city, I know one day we'll return. That's when I conquer the suspension bridge, I'm also eager to Climb Sydney Harbor Bridge. I have no doubt the views are amazing and what a feat it would be.

I'm just waiting on Nicky to get tall enough to ride all the rides. It could happen as early as next summer, but 2015 is more likely. Ziplining, visiting the Grand Canyon and a winery sound easy enough, but I haven't done them. Oktoberfest will take some planning, prost!

Stack

October 1, 2013
Las Vegas is all about change. Favorites come and go. Some remain solid and by the time they bid farewell we are left saddened. Then, there are others that were once good, but those days have come and gone. I'm sad to say this happened with Stack at Mirage. Eight years ago it opened with Brian Massie at the helm. The space was beautiful, service was exceptional and the food was everything good ole American comfort food should be, and the playful twists made it fun. Over the years, we've dined at Stack more than any other fine dining restaurant. We loved the relaxed vibe, the stacked waitresses and the classic tunes. The hot rocks, pork chop and lamb shank were outstanding. The bacon cheddar bread? Oh my goodness, we couldn't get enough. We'd return for that alone.

Over time, they no longer offered the bread. The classic rock was replaced by club beats and the prices climbed while quality sank. We noticed a decline about a year ago, and it was confirmed a few months back when we took Frank's cousin out for her birthday. My brother joined us, too, he was eager to try the lamb shank he's heard so much about. I even called beforehand to confirm it was still be served. You can imagine our disappointment when we couldn't locate it on the menu. We waived down our waiter and sure enough, it's been eliminated. This was likely the sign to leave, but we ignored it. We've always been pleased with the steak selection and everyone but me opted to go that route. I chose the halibut ($42).

We started with hot rocks ($21) they were still excellent. The Spicy Crab ($21) was a new item and it didn't pack any punch. It left us pretty underwhelmed.

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We've enjoyed the porterhouse for two at Brand. We expected the same quality here at Stack but it fell a bit flat ($96). It was plenty for two to share, but it wasn't as flavorful or tender as we know it could be. We also shared tater tots ($11) and roasted mushrooms ($9). The tots used to have pieces of rich smoky bacon and cheese would ooze when you'd bite into eat tot. That's not the case anymore.

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This was my brother's first fine dining experience. he went all out and ordered the porterhouse ($62). I wish I could say he was able to reap the perks and find the value of a quality piece of meat. It was very average at best. He was disappointed and I was bummed for him.



My halibut was the best dish of the evening, the exception being the hot rocks. The halibut was nicely prepared with a hard sear and it was very fresh.



After finishing that meal, the warm comforting mahogany walls suddenly felt somber. A longtime favorite had faded. We knew we wouldn't be back. We suspect it would soon shutter. I didn't see it surviving long after the opening of Tom Colicchio's Heritage Steak. I haven't heard any news of it closing, but I certainly wouldn't be surprised if it did.

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