So long, 2014!

December 29, 2014
We have definitely had our share of ups and downs this year. However I will focus on the positive, Ecuador was amazing, we visited new cities such as Albuquerque, Louisville and Portland. We spent a lot of time with family, including celebrating a wedding in San Francisco and welcoming my niece into the world. Before ushering in the new year, let's look back at 2014.

As usual, we traveled as much as possible and enjoyed yummy eats and drinks along the way. We've had great new experiences and revisited old favorites.

LOCAL EATS

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Best new eats - David Clawson

They do a few things, and they do them extremely well.

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Late to the party - EAT

Those sandwiches are a thing of beauty.

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Reliable - Pizza Rock

Meatballs are a must and the Calzone? Yum.

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Favorite - Sage

Yet again, Sage is stellar.

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Greatest find - Mariscos Playa Escondida

We cannot stay away. Everything. Everything has been fantastic.

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Most welcomed - Buddha Belly Deli

Asian Fusion without any fuss.

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Biggest surprise - Giada

I didn't think it was possible for this restaurant to live up to the hype, but then I tasted the food. Color me impressed.

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Greatest Splurge - Joel Robouchon

We had two fabulous dining experiences here this year. Never dreamed that to be the case, I guess dreams do come true.

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RIP - Osteria del Circo

One of my first loves. Circo will be missed.



TRAVELS

Hornado is typical Ecuadorian fare served Mote (hominy) and llapingacho (potato cake with cheese). The pork was perfectly rendered and dripped with deliciousness. This here was our favorite meal in Ecuador.

Life changing - Hornado

Roadside roasted pig! The tastiest treat in Ecuador.

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Best eats - Tasty n Alder; Portland, OR

I'm still thinking about their fish tacos.

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Most disappointing - SLS Las Vegas

I wanted to love it, but I didn't.

Hosteria Mandala, Puerto López.

Most relaxing - Hosteria Mandala; Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

This oasis was a great place to waste away days laying in the hammock and sipping on cervezas.

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Biggest regret - Not going with Frank to Denver.

It seems like a fantastic city that I would enjoy.

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Hope to do more - Off-roading

I only went off-roading a few times this year. I haven't been in the RZR since May :(



ENTERTAINMENT

Best Album - Sonic Highways, Foo Fighters. Beautifully assembled, loved the history lesson provided by the concurrent TV Series documentary.

Best Song - Thinking Out Loud, Ed Sheeran.

Best TV Show - Fargo

Best Concert - SOJA

Best Movie - St. Vincent


With that, I wish you the best of everything and may the new year bring you the greatest joys.

Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2014
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How cute are these kiddos? I can't be with them this Christmas, but we'll be together in spirit.

I hope Santa brings you everything you've hoped for and more. Wherever you go and whatever you do, create lasting memories with those you love.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

Mariscos Playa Escondida

December 22, 2014
Spending Saturday nights with Frank has become a rarity, but this past Saturday was a nice treat. He was home early enough for us to go out to dinner. We were torn between pizza, Thai and German. But deep down, we were seeking something new. He made a few calls to foodie friends to see what ideas they had. All offered good suggestions, but it was a recommendation for Mariscos Playa Escondida that won us over. This Mexican restaurant specializing in seafood was completely off my radar. It's located on East Charleston near Maryland Pkwy in a stripmall tucked behind Tacos Mexico. It could easily be missed if you weren't specifically looking for it. It's a true hole in wall, but let me tell you it is a gem!

This was an experience equal to those we've had off the beaten path in the Riveria Maya. No flight or passports required. It's hard to believe they can achieve these flavors and create this delicious seafood in the middle of the desert. But they do it.

We let our friendly server guide us with our order. He recommended the aguachile tostada and the shrimp empanadas. We had to have both. The empanadas were too hot to handle from the fryer so we let those cool, while we dug into the aguachile. They offer spicy dishes on a scale of 1-10, we ordered an 8 for everything. There was no false advertisement everything had a nice kick just the way we like it. The aguachile is diced shrimp marinated in chiles and lime. If you like ceviche, you'll love this. We gobbled it up between bites of the house salsa and chips.

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The empanadas are the best I've had outside Ecuador. These were filled with tender shrimp, onions, tomatoes and garlic. Damn tasty! I'd go for some now, if they were only open on Mondays. Definitely a must a try! We had three for $8.



I was easily swayed on the whole snapper ($9/lb) its topped with spicy cream sauce, onions, jalapenos and avocado, and served with rice, beans and handmade tortillas. I prefer the corn to the flour. I've enjoyed snapper half a dozen ways but snapper tacos were a first; they did not disappoint. A two pound fish left plenty to share with Frank.



He ordered the appetizer of the el tecolote shrimp per our servers suggestion. He warned that it was a lot of work, but definitely worth the effort. He was right. The flavor was fantastic.

They have a nice variety of Cerveza ($3.50). We had five Victorias between us and a few pounds of seafood for $75. It was a steal and a real treat!

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Eat

December 17, 2014
I'm two years late to the party, but I finally ate at Eat. A few weeks ago, Frank was downtown on business and called me up asking for a recommendation for lunch. I told him to try Eat. Afterward, he told me about the awesome blta w/ egg sandwich he had. He took me to check it out the day of the Santa Run, but the santas kept us from getting to Carson and 7th so I'd have to wait to try Eat. Then, last week; success!

If driving be prepared to feed the parking meter. The restaurant sits on the lower level of Park Avenue Apartments. This tired building is sure to experience a revitalization thanks to the Downtown Project. Carson Ave has become a hot spot for downtown dining and it began with Natalie Young's Eat. She was the first to partner with Tony Hsieh and see her dream to fruition. She is currently working on her next venture, Chow.

Eat bustled on a late Saturday morning, while there was no line out the door. There was a wait for a table, but counter seating was available. We settled in and gazed over the menu. Our server asked, "Can I get cinnamon biscuits started for you?" Many might be duped by the question thinking they are complimentary, only to be surprised later by an $8 charge on the bill. It is a bit sneaky so be warned. Yet, we said, "yes, bring them on!" The tender biscuits swim in strawberry compote and are topped with berries. It reminds me very much of strawberry shortcake, add some fresh whipped cream and it'd be the perfect dessert.

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When it came to ordering we skipped right over the breakfast items and went straight for the sandwiches. I had to try the dwblta ($11) myself and Frank went for the killer grilled cheese with tomato soup ($9). During the week more sandwiches are available, they all sound fantastic. However, if I ever get a chance to dine on a weekday, the chilaquiles will be mine!



I added cheese to my dwblta, I skipped the egg; I don't dig runny eggs, blasphemy, I know. This sandwich was great! All components married beautifully and the sourdough bread held it together without being too bready. It was a thing of beauty, truly. Sandwiches come with a side of house chips, potato or tomato salad. I really enjoyed the tomato salad. Despite my best efforts I could only devour half of the sandwich. I took the rest home. This sandwich could easily be shared.



Frank added tomato, egg, and avocado to the killer grilled cheese. It was a tasty twist, especially when dipped in the soup. However, as good as it was we agreed we enjoyed the dwblta a bit more. In fact, it might just be the best damn sandwich in lv.

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Not Feelin' It

December 10, 2014
I haven't felt like writing. Honestly, I haven't felt like doing much of anything. I'm just anxious to get this year over with. Our Thanksgiving was nice. We had a no turkey, turkey day. None of us are particularly fond of turkey so it seemed silly to go through the hassle. I made gouda pork chops, stuffing, brussels sprouts, parmesan salad and grandma's potatoes. There were no mashed potatoes to stress over. It was a delight. It wasn't a perfect meal, I turned up the oven temp but failed to remove the items from the oven before doing so. I bought a different brand of gouda and much of it oozed out from the chops. Oh well, shit happens. It was all edible and we were together.

Since I lasted posted, Frank celebrated his 35th birthday. I'll join him in middle age in a few months. I say it all the time, but it's true -- It's wild how quickly the years go! I don't know when we became grown ups. Sometimes, I'd swear we were still seventeen in a fresh relationship. His responsibilities recently changed at work so he's been working a bunch, but he did get to sneak away to celebrate his birthday. I'm so proud of all he's accomplished. He's done great in his career, and he's a wonderful husband. I love him so. Somehow, I know the best adventures are yet to come.

My mom still isn't feeling well. This cough has really done a number on her. She's so sore and tired. She had a CT Scan done that revealed that she has inflammation in the lung that was previously healthy. Her radiation oncologist insisted that it was too early for pneumonitis. However, her oncologist felt it is indeed pneumonitis. We met with a new radiation oncologist last week for another opinion. He agreed it seems to be pneumonitis. The great news is everyone agrees that the scan shows that the previous lymph nodes are no longer identified and the tumor has reduced in size. In laymans terms, it seems the radiation did its job on the cancer, but also damaged healthy lung tissue; causing the decreased lung function/cough. Her doctors believe she will get better, but there is a chance the damage could be permanent. A follow up CT is ordered in two months. A short bit later she is due for her PET scan to check on the cancer. Her oncologist says PET will take care of both.

The first round of low dose steroids offered no benefit. She started Prednisone on Friday along with a new antibiotic. Hopefully, this combo will show improvement. Otherwise, she will be hospitalized. So far, she seems to be coughing a bit less, but still no relief.

My health insurance changed December 1st, it is funny how my policies get less affordable every year since the Affordable Care Act. Changing insurance every year is tiresome. This year is especially frustrating since I'm still in treatment from the car accident. It's really weighing on me. I just want to be better. I want to get through a work day without pain. I'd like to be active again. I miss offroading so much! I can't even use the treadmill without discomfort. My weight is spiraling out of control despite my efforts of watching carbs, etc. I need to move more, but it hurts. I'm so over it. Since I can't just run from it all, I'd like to hibernate until this awful year is behind me. I don't mean to sulk, I keep reminding myself how fortunate I am. I try to count my blessings rather than complain, but I'm doing a poor job. Anyway...

I have reviews to post. Hopefully, I'll be over my funk in a hurry and resume a regular posting schedule. In the meantime, I hope your holiday season is merry and bright.

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