Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mounted Shooting

This weekend we went to watch my husband's dad compete in a mounted shooting event near Pahrump. I had never witnessed such an activity and looked forward to attending the event the minute we were invited.

Way in the dusty outskirts of Vegas, past new and developing homes sandwiched together so close, they would have made for an effective "Please pass the Grey Poupon" commercial, was a good plot of land with several stables for horses.

My father-in-law is good friends with the man running this event. The man gave him a horse to ride and a gun whose value could've purchased me a really nice Dolce Gabanna bag (or two)!

There were people at the event from all ages, novice and experienced. The youngest appeared to be 7 years old and she was also competing in the event.

I am pretty proud of Johnny's dad for his involvement in this activity. Especially since he has passed his senior mark by several years but looking at him, I would not have guessed his age if it weren't for his gray hairs because he is still very active and fit. Often times, he and his wife do more in a day than Johnny and I can do sometimes in a week. They are constantly doing something, washing the cars, repairing the fence, planting and replanting plants, changing the oil on their cars, remodeling the bathroom--you name it, while running a business that makes authentic reproduction of Old West style leather goods, Western Star Leather.

So while Johnny, his mom and I chat on the sidelines, munching on two of my favorite snacks, jerky and sour apple rings, they started to set up balloons in two rows. There are different stages and this one is the first and easiest. The riders have to ride along one row and shoot the balloons and back up the other row, shooting those balloons and then past the timer. (By the way, they are shooting with blanks and I had my share of education about revolvers that day).

We weren't able to stay for the entire event but Johnny's dad placed third, I believe, out of all the competitors there. Not bad...not bad at all.

After that, my husband and I went to the Oyster Bar inside the Sunset Station Casino for lunch. I had a delicious bowl of creamy shrimp and crab roast and Johnny had a mega lobster sandwich. It was good! I'll post pics in my Food Journal soon.

Our holiday weekend wasn't without some sad news. Our friends who purchased a brand new home in the KB development near our house had their new appliances delivered to their house a couple days before moving in over this weekend. Mind you, this was about $4,500 worth of appliances--refrigerator, washer and dryer.

Nothing spoils a nice fresh start in a new home when you discover the front door kicked in and the new appliances STOLEN. Johnny and I were just sick to our stomachs when we heard the news. It felt as if WE had been violated. In disbelief, we asked them questions and after we hung up, our sadness for our friend's unfortunate event turned to anger.

How can someone simply steal things from people who have worked so hard to purchase and own? $4,500--gone in minutes, worse odds than a hand at the blackjack table I'm sure.
The police officers at the scene said this was not the first and isolated incident. Apparently several homes in that development had been broken into and stolen from in the same fashion and they suspected the construction workers. Who else would have known that some new appliances were delivered? And since there are few neighbors (they are all scattered through the development), there would be no witnesses to heinous act.

We hope our friends will be able to talk to KB's into replacing their appliances. The least the development company can do, KNOWING that these crimes had happened before, is warn our friends or hire security guards which is not an uncommon thing to do for developing new properties--probably for reasons like theft.

If not, I would be willing to pass out flyers to current homeowners and prospective buyers warning them to either protect their homes or not purchase a property in that development because KB will not take responsibility.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Tears of Pain or Tears of Joy?

Boy, so much has happened, I barely have time to write everything down. Just when I thought that the new year came to0 fast, I found myself smack dab in the middle of February!

My job has been going well. I'm learning a lot and already feel like I have been in my new position for a month.

Friday was the second week at my new job and a couple faculty members from my previous department took me to eat at this new Indian restaurant near Paradise Road and Harmon Avenue called Origin India.

The exterior of the eatery screamed casual dining with the bright red patio umbrellas and flashy signs hung up along the front of the restaurant was deceiving to the hip interior and fine dining focus of the restaurant.

Inside the restaurant was a different image. White cloth tables with formal settings of wine and water glasses, the chairs were black leather with silver studs, and the square white dinnerware was a nice touch. (I especially liked the bar area--it appeared to be fully stocked!) We could have even sat under a little room with a canopy but we opted for a table in the open area. It was nice to have the entire restaurant to ourselves before the lunch rush began.

From the menu, we chose Murg Makhani (chicken tandoori), Murg Sagwaala (chicken cooked with spinach) and Lamb Nihari (slow-cooked lamb flavored with mild spices) to share family-style.

Each dish came with rice and cucumber salad with the main dish in the middle. Since what we chose had sauces, the food was served in a little bowl with a handle.

We dished a little bit of each item onto our plate. I have only had Indian food once in Burbank, CA and must say I wasn't a real fan of Indian food (or Thai food because I don't like curry) but this was delicious. Everything we ordered was tasty--not too much spices. I especially liked the Lamb Nihari.

The portions were perfect and light for lunch. I would definitely go back there again and I will definitely take my sweetie.

My husband, who normally would not pick Thai food as his first choice when we're looking for a something to eat, decided he wanted to go to our favorite Thai restaurant for dinner.

Bangkok 9 is a hidden little establishment in a strip mall on Stephanie Street. We really like the interior because the decor makes us feel like we're in Thailand. From the red walls to the little Thai statuettes and the silk-woven sarong tableclothes. The restaurant is always clean, the staff friendly and courteous, and the delicious Thai-Chinese cuisine speaks for itself. There is never a wait to be seated (even when they're busy) and the bill is easy to swallow.
The head waitress recognized us and came to our table to greet us. We started a small conversation and this time, Johnny asked the head waitress her ethnicity. We had always suspected that she was Cambodian or Thai but she was in fact Laotian--and she was equally surprised to discover that I was also. (Most people think I am Filipina.)
We chatted in Laotian on and off throughout the night (or shall I say I responded in my broken-Laotian...LOL). It's rare for me to meet Laotians and even more rare in Vegas so I rarely get the opportunity to practice my native language skills.

Even when speaking to my parents, I use a combination of English and Laotian. There are some words I know in Laotian that I don't know in English and many words in English for which I do not know the Laotian translation. Without regular practice of my native tongue, I am afraid I will soon forget how to speak though I will always understand auditorially.

This particular evening, I asked for my Som Tum (papaya salad) and Yum Shrimp and Quid(broiled seafood tossed in a salad of lettuce, scallions, red onions, chili and limejuice) hot. Until tonight, no restaurant--even Thai restaurants claiming to be authentic, has made any dish I requested made be hot, really SPICY. Until now.

I guess the head waitress must have said, 'make it hot--Laotian hot' or something to that effect because my food was SO HOT. The hairs in me ears were on fire, tears rolled down my eyes, and beads of sweat formed on my forehead.

You know the saying, 'hurts so good'? Well I couldn't stop eating despite losing all sensation in my tongue and having to wipe my nose every few seconds. Now THAT is GOOD (and truly hot) Thai food!!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Our First Valentine's Day

Our first Valentine's Day as a married couple was especially nice though we were not able to have dinner with Johnny's parents. We had a reservation to Sonoma Cellar Steakhouse and wanted to take them to dinner for V-day and celebrate his dad's birthday, which was the day before Valentine's Day, but they had to cancel dinner plans with us. Johnny's dad had been (and still is) recovering from a nasty cold and dinner just wouldn't be the same without them so we decided to stay home together.

V-Day card and pearl earingsI didn't feel like fighting the crowd that night. There's nothing worse than waiting to be served (whether we had a reservation or not) like this past Sunday when we ventured out to find a new place to have lunch. We can always have a nice dinner, and we often do, but staying home and taking a nice long hot bubble bath with some music, candlelight, and wine sounded way better.

It is not often that we get to indulge in some quiet time alone for several hours and Wednesday was a great evening to do so since it's the first night of the week where I get home earlier than 10:20 p.m.

When I got home, Johnny's mom had given him my Valentine's Day gift. This cute navy-slate blue 3/4 arm button v-neck shirt with a lacy tank top inside. A perfect fit and I'm wearing it today.

My sweetie had made me a beautiful card (he likes to do that, just like card he made for our first Valentine's) and gave me these gorgeous natural pearl earrings. Ever since my mother-in-law let me wear her pearl earrings on my wedding day, I had wanted my own set. Except her pearls were given to her by her mom to wear on her wedding day. Hopefully, I can hang on to these and not allow them to go pairless and end up in my box of single earrings. I think it is neat to have a gem from the ocean.

The lovely plant at my desk keeps me in touch with nature.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

New Toy and Thai Food

HP Pavilion dv2000
Guess what I got this year for my Valentine's Day gift...a new laptop! The HP dv225 nr from Best Buy. Partly funded by a gift certificate from my previous job and the rest from my husband. He got a nice referral check from Towbin Dodge and gave it all to me so I can have a new laptop.
It's nothing fancy, just lighter than the Gateway he purchased for me a couple years ago, larger memory, hard drive and other features. I love it, love it except one minor detail...it comes preinstalled with Windows Vista and a lot of the software that I currently have does not appear to be compatible with Vista. It will take some adjustment...

On Sunday, what was a simple adventure to try new restaurants for lunch turned out to be a lengthy ordeal. Upon a recommendation we checked out this new restaurant called Smokehouse B.B.Q. Grill on Horizon Ridge Parkway in Henderson. After minutes of sitting there without acknowledgement or request for our drink order, a quick scan of the customers already in the restaurant (seeing that some had drinks while others were hungrily staring at their menu, waiting to be served)--we left. Clearly, they were a new establishment and understaffed.

Then we drove to the Fiesta, a casino near our house and we have never stepped foot inside after living near there for a year. The buffet was packed so we went down to the cafe on the first floor. It was a 25-minute wait but the bar was first-come first serve so we seated ourselves. Three times the waitress walked past us, back and forth, but she never once gave us a menu or greeted us. At least a simple, "Hey there! I'll be right with you". We understood that it was busy but that wasn't an excuse to not be civil. So we left.
Frustrated by the lack of customer services, we decided upon one of our favorite restaurants. We knew we could count on the cheerful demeanor of the staff and prompt service.

So we went to our favorite Thai food restaurant, Bangkok 9, on Stephanie Street in Henderson. We started with an appetizer of chicken satay and cucumber salad.

Spicy Noodles: stir-fried wide rice noodles with chili sauce, shrimp, squid, and chicken, with hot green chili and sweet basil leaves.

Crab Fried Rice: succulent pieces of real crab meat stir-fried with rice, eggs, and scallions.

My fortune. I always keep them because they have a way of coming true.

Finally, we were able to get some lunch--and really good food, too!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Beta of My Work Week

Without a break from my previous job, after the weekend, I started my first day of work, ready to rock and get right down to do the job. I had been informed that my supervisor will not be in the office until 10 a.m. so I had to make myself scarce for the morning until then. The doctor's appointment for her son ran later so it was nearly 11 a.m. when she showed up.

My network account had not been switched from my previous department and without me there in the morning to sign-in to Novell, the IT techs could not make any progress. Once my log-in had been figured out, it was already time to go to lunch.

Paymon's Mediterranean Cafe (Take One)
On my first day of work, my supervisor was taking several girls in her office to lunch, including me, so we can all be introduced. Since I was not picky as to where I would like to eat, she chose Paymon's Mediterranean Cafe & (Hookah) Lounge. We walked briskly across and ten minutes later, found ourselves a the restaurant.

I had never been to the restaurant, only the Mediterranean Gourmet Market adjacent to the cafe. Once we stepped in, the wonderful smell of lunch wafted out the door. The restaurant was packed full of people having lunch. From their attire, I could tell they must be from nearby businesses. When I didn't think they could fit any more people in that restaurant, we were seated immediately in the courtyard.

We started with a plate of creamy hummus and the softest little pillows of warm pita bread to dip with. I washed it down with a cool glass of Arnold Palmer.

Of course, I had to try the gyros with a side of Athens Fries. All I can say is was so flavorful and the meat so tender. YUMM!!!

Boy was lunch delicious!

After lunch, we headed back to the office. My supervisor had a meeting to attend so she asked that I entertain myself for do homework for the hour and a half while she is gone. Then 2:30 p.m. rolled around and it was time for me to head to class. She had told me I could leave for the day after my class ended at 3:45 p.m. but since I had an evening class to hang around for, I insisted on returning to the office. So for the remaining hour, she gave me a tour of the office, this time introducing me as the new hire when before, I had toured as a prospective hire.

That was my first day and the rest of the week went pretty easy like this. I had a lot of time to myself while my boss was in her meetings. Another day, I needed to turn in my paperwork to Systems Admin across campus so she let me off at 3 p.m. to do so and then study in the library. Usually, she leaves 10 minute until the end of the day to pick up her son from the rec center and so she said I could also leave early so that I could beat traffic (which was such a blessing). And because the classes I take during the middle of the day is longer than my alloted lunch hour, I had felt an obligation to make up the time by staying late or coming into the office earlier but to that, my boss said the time is fungible because there will be times when we'll be working our butts off.

To sum it up, I had a pretty easy week and started to train in the areas that I will be responsible for. I am learning a lot of new things and it will take some time to adjust to a new environment but I think I will be okay.

I did miss my old office though. Not seeing the usual smiley people every day. Most of all, I miss the coffee we use to brew every morning. But I just put flavored creamer in my coffee mug and my boss and I would walk over to the Starbucks in the Student Union nearby to get our fix each morning.

Paymon's Mediterranean Cafe (Take Two)
So Friday, after a cluster meeting with the other divisions of Student Life, I went to lunch with Janice and Shaida. Janice earned her doctorate through my last department and is teaching part-time for the University. Shaida is an undergraduate student, like me, and we also share an interest in collecting make-up (though she is more of a make-up junkie--hands down!).

They took me to Paymon's Mediterranean Cafe (wow, I must be so lucky to eat there for the first and second time in my life--in one week!). I had no problem with that since my first visit was just great.

We were seated in the hookah lounge. You have to see the virtual tour. The mood and decor of the place made me feel like I was in our own lounge at home (except we do not have quite the huge bar as Paymon's). Shaida had split pea soup and warm dolmos (pictured here) while Janice had the chicken caesar salad.

I ordered the chicken pita (chunks of boneless, skinless chicken breast marinated in herbs, broiled and served with lettuce, tomatoes and their homemade Tahini sauce) wrapped in a warm Greek-style pita bread. I almost ate it all!!

When Friday ended, a couple of co-workers from my previous department, Jonelle and Rolanda, asked if I wanted to eat at the dining commons on campus. I accepted as it would be a good chance to catch up on things. Plus I haven't seen them for a week and it would be nice to see familiar faces.

We sat in the dining area, ate, and chatted until almost 8 p.m. when they had to leave to attend a play and I had to go home to my sweetie and start the weekend. I have never been so spoiled with food and friends in my life! I was a great week!!

Make-my-own salad at the dining commons.

Baked pollock, hush puppies, and mac & cheese.

My version of McDonald's soft serve chocolate ice cream on a cone!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Note to Self

Try not to peek under the 12" saute pan to ensure that the gas burner turns on. You'd think I'd know better.

(I must confess that my crop of baby hairs are not new hair growth resulting from significant hair loss due to stress.)

Monday, February 05, 2007

Goodbye PSY, Hello SER

Friday was my last day in the department where I worked for almost 2 1/2 years. I had started there as a student worker, then Clerical Trainee, then Administrative Assistant I, and finally Administrative Assistant II. I couldn't have done it without my friend and boss, Annejelynn, who gave me every opportunity she could to grow.

So on my last day, a group of us from the office went to Bahama Breeze for lunch. Like its name infers, the restaurant serves Caribbean cuisine. The last time I went with my husband, Johnny, we tried the mojito (made with real sugar cane juice) and one of the hottest jerk chicken wings.

This time, I chose the Lemon Breeze (lemonade with with fresh squeezed sugar cane juice) to quench my thirst. I would definitely need something refreshing to pair up with the grilled jerk chicken wings we ordered. This batch wasn't as hot as I remembered though I think the hot jerk chicken has been renamed to the habanero chicken.

I looked around the table and thought about how much I would miss everyone. The stories we shared and these people always had a way to make me smile (and laugh) at work.

My move was premature but the opportunity came and I had to make a tough decision in such a short amount of time.

The rest of lunch was delicious. I ordered the jerk painted wood-grilled mahi mahi. It came with a side of spicy tropical salad, fried bananas and cinnamon sweet potatoes (I thought the slices of fried plantains was a nice touch! It looked like rabbit ears.

Kashmir brought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers and the ingredients to make one of my favorite drink, gin and tonic. (I could use one right now as I am sitting at my new desk, killing some time between work and my late class.)

I will miss you guys!

Then we were off to my goodbye party that Annejelynn put together so beautifully for me. Kashmir's flowers added a beautiful touch and Krista brought the yummy cake from Costco.

Of course I cried when I read the card from the department. I couldn't hide the fact that I was so grateful for all the caring, support, and kindness these people have given me. And now, as my parting gift, a beautifully engraved business card holder with a touching message and a generous gift card to my favorite store, Best Buy. My tears rolled and rolled. I was speechless and I hope they knew how much it saddened me to leave and how touched I was with them being there to wish me luck.

In a flash, the my last day in that department was over. I couldn't believe it as I walked out the door with my box of personal items. It wasn't that I would be gone forever but that I would sorely miss working with those people every day.

The weekend flew by even more quickly. Friday night, we head to our friends, Jason & Cinzia's house for dinner. Those guys are so much fun to hang around and, boy, do they like to drink! I don't think I've met another couple who can outdrink me...LOL!!

Sunday was my only free day with my sweet husband. We went to the gym together and I worked on the house and studied all day while Johnny washed and detailed my car and tended to the yard.

On our way back from the gym, we stopped by Whole Foods Market in the Green Valley District and there's never a shortage of ready-to-eat food there. The last time we went, we grabbed a buffet full of food and boy was it good (you'll have to check out the photos in my Food Journal)!!

Before I knew it, Monday rolled around and so it was the start of my first day at my new job. I will have to share this with you after my evening class.