Monday, December 31, 2007

Hash House a Go Go Las Vegas

For lunch, my husband and I ventured out West to Hash House a Go Go where the food is just ... BIG. The Las Vegas location (just minutes from the Strip on Sahara Boulevard) is the only other establishment in addition to the first restaurant in San Diego, CA. Since its opening in September of 2007, we've never been so we thought we'd check it out before heading to a bicycle shop.
There was a 20-minute wait which we didn't mind at all (it's also a big holiday weekend) and just got ourselves a healthy serving of Bloody Mary from the bar. What struck us was one of the grumpy and rude hostesses (not sure what her problem was but she should quit if she's so unhappy there).
As I mentioned previously, everything at Hash House a Go Go is BIG from the food portions to drinks. Our Bloody Mary was served in what had to have been at least a 16 oz. highball and garnished with jalapeño stuffed peppers, a lemon, dill pickle, and pickled green bean. YUM--just what we needed to hold us over until lunch was served.
Soon after we were seated, our waiter greeted us. He was attentive and pleasant to us the entire time (which compensated for the hostess on PMS.) I ordered from the brunch menu one of the house hashes: chorizo served with two eggs, fruit and a biscuit. I loved it because it was spicy and full of flavor.
Johnny ordered the BBBLT which was a HUGE sandwich with loads of bacon and, to mitigate damages to the arteries, it was served with salad and a nice light dressing .
It's a good thing we were hungry because the portions were enough to choke a horse and would make any eater feel inadequate. As you can see, my husband was more than ready to dig in.
Would we go back to Hash House a Go Go? Sure. If you ever go there, make sure to go hungry!
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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas in Boulder City

The Friday before Christmas, my husband and I went to his parents, John and Maggie's, home for dinner and to open our gifts to each other. Upon entering, there stood a huge Noble Fir standing strong and tall in the living room. (My niece, Caelia, is 2 1/2 years old and she had said, "Wow, this is perfect!" as she swung her tiny arms in a huge circle to outline all that she saw; her face glowing. I had taken her to their house to check on John and Maggie's cat, Yazi, while they were at a gun show.) Everything, indeed, was perfect.

Through all the stress from the holidays, I had started to lose the spirit of Christmas but gained it back after stepping into what could have very well been Santa's home.
Their tortoise shell cat, Yazi, was soaking in our company and the warmth of gifts near the Christmas tree as we sat around the tree, admiring the ornaments and sipping cocktails before dinner.
After dinner, we started the opening of gifts. I received from John and Maggie what I wanted most for Christmas, a food dehydrator (I'll explain later why), a long-sleeve plaid shirt (something not yet in my wardrobe but will have the next time we take a trip to the outdoors like when we went to Ely, NV), and a couple tea cups that coordinate with our wedding dishware to replace the ones broken by our cat, Havi, when she jumped into the cabinet where our nice glassware is stored. Martini glasses, high balls, low balls were among the things broken but we've since replaced through the holiday sales.
Here John is modeling a hat worn by his brother in the movie, Dances With Wolves. The hat was given to us as a gift from uncle Frank and aunt Leanna, along with a scarf and t-shirt. It was truly a straight-from-the-heart gift that we'll always treasure.
What a wonderful evening it was. The perfect ending to a long work week and a great beginning to some much needed vacation time.

Until Next Year, Santa

I had been feeling like I haven't accomplished much after a week off from work. All these lavish plans I had to do some winter cleaning hadn't quite happened yet but seriously, who wants to do housework while on vacation? We've been so busy while our house became a disaster zone, some deep cleaning was a necessary evil that couldn't be ignored any longer.

So yesterday, I took down the Christmas decorations and lights around the house and freed our potted Mondell Pine from its burden from the holidays. Our cats, Havi and Elgy, leaped around me excitedly like the day we put the decorations on the tree until they were tired and had to relax in their favorite places.
Once I started cleaning, there was no stopping me as I found myself organizing body lotions and pampering items I had received as gifts! Doing house chores can be therapeutic and completing them very rewarding; seeing our familiar home once again. I felt a personal sense of accomplishment and now I can reply that I've done something besides, "nothing" when my husband comes home and asks about my day and what I did.
Normally I would feel the After-Christmas Blues but none of those emotions were present. I was actually excited about taking down the decorations and looking forward to next Christmas when we can admire the shimmering lights, sip eggnog, and listen to songs of Christmas again. I am ready to move on to the new year already peeking its head around the corner and not one bit sad about Christmas having come and gone.

Santa was very good to me this year and I will have to share all the goodies I've received. Also that I can look back a year from now and remember this year's Christmas.

My husband got me and 8GB iPod Nano to replace my iShuffle. I had been fine with the iShuffle but after playing with the Nano, I don't how I had lived without it in the first place!
I also got a new pair of pearls from him so I can stop losing the ones I had received last Valentine's Day. They were studs and for some reason, won't stay on my (fat) ear lobes! I lost of one them a few weeks later at our first wedding anniversary dinner and then my husband's mom, Maggie, gave me her pair which I would lose and find, lose and find. I've managed to hang on to all three pearls but this new set with a different clasp has stayed put!
And the last gift my true love gave to me was a black Harley-Davidson velour suit that I just LOVE to wear (I have another set from Victoria's Secret but of unmatched quality). I'm going to wear these babies out! Too bad they don't come in different colors so I can have several pairs.

I would have to say this Christmas was just one of the best! I have enough sweet memories to last me until next year.

Basketweave Scarf

After many foiled attempts, I successfully knitted a scarf for grandma Nancy just in (the nick of) time for Christmas. Even though it was my first knitting project (and if you only knew how much I struggled with knitting a simple scarf), I felt I needed something more challenging than the garter stitch I used to make the scarf (where I basically knitted every stitch). I have seen patterns for a basketweave stitch and so I thought I would improvise.
basketweave scarfI picked up a size 10 1/2 Takumi bamboo knitting needle and a skein of Lion Brand® Wool Ease® bulky weight yarn in Wheat. With 86% acrylic, 10% wool, and 4% rayon, this chunky yarn is kind of stiff but it may soften after washing. The yarn is machine washable and dryable but we'll see if it is Daly-proof.

Here is the pattern I used:
Cast on 32 stitches
(To make five rows of squares)
Row 1, 3, and 5: *knit 2, purl 4, repeat from * until end of row
Row 2 and 4: *purl 2, knit 4, repeat from * until end of row (basically knitting the opposite/wrong side so the stitches are consistent)

(To make opposite rows of squares)
Row 6, 8, and 10: *purl 2, knit 4, repeat from *until end of row
Row 7 and 9: *knit 2, purl 4, repeat from * until end of row (basically knitting the opposite/wrong side so the stitches are consistent)
Lion Brand has a basketweave pattern but they knit 4 and purl 4 (making even blocks of squares). You may need to create an account before you can view the pattern but their website has tons of patterns so it might be worth your while.

I am having lots of fun so far knitting this scarf. Wish me luck and cross your fingers that I don't knit triangles or something!

Chia Pet Turtle: Day 1

One of the greatest gifts we received this year is a turtle Chia Pet! It came with a digital alarm clock that plays the Ch-ch-ch-chia! song when it goes off ... .
So I followed the instructions and this morning, our pet turtle is admiring the scenery outside while waiting for its "hair" to sprout.
Hopefully it will have a chance to grow a lush coat before our cat, Havi, eats all the seeds off its body!

I never knew the story behind the name, Chia. Chia (salvia hispanica) is a plant of the mint family. Eaten as food and included in medicines, it was popular among the Aztecs. Chia seeds were ground into flour and pressed for oil ... interesting. Who would have guessed it would also serve a purpose as "hair" covering for a terra-cotta clay pet!
The care instructions suggested that seeds of similar herbs can be used including basil, alfalfa, marjoram, and thyme which is great because I had purchased some herb seeds several months back to start an indoor garden but haven't had the chance to do so. Now I'll be able to use the seeds on our Chia Pet!

When It's Cold Outside

On this Sunday morning, it is about 50°F in the Las Vegas area but still sunny, clear skies with low winds about 6 m.p.h. I don't know about where you live but it is cold for us desert rats but luckily we have a gas log heater in our living room to warm us up.

When our cats are not basking in the sun rays coming through the windows for warmth, they like to cuddle up on the tiles in front of the fireplace and I don't blame them for wanting to be extra toasty.

DESA's Online Outlet carries indoor and outdoor heating products including space heaters and vent free heaters. I would love one of these umbrella heaters for our patio and another vent free gas log heater for our master bedroom or master bath to keep us warm during these chilly months.

We have a couple more months of low temperatures before things heat up to the three digit temperatures where that suits our comfort but until then, these room heaters can heat our place up.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

You've Got No Mail

It's amazing how drastically our incoming mail drops after Christmas. For a time, we enjoyed all the Christmas cards that came in the mail each day and then like cold turkey--they stopped coming. It was so nice to get personal greetings rather than the slew of junk mail, bills, and invoices you know?

Now I am sure everyone will go back to their busy lives and we'll never hear from them until next year. Isn't that just sad?

This year, I resolve to send more greetings via snail mail and not solely for Christmas. Just to let our friends and family know that we are thinking of them. I am sure they are also thinking of us but life just moves too fast and often times we don't get a chance to mail cards to let each other know we're are in each others' thoughts.

You might say that's why there's e-mail but even with that, we don't hear enough from each other as often as I'd like. And then there's the good old fashion phone but I am always afraid I'll be interrupting something like...their life so I don't call. (I am SO bad about being on the phone anyway).

At least I have a blog as a medium to keep our family and friends posted. It's convenient for me to post an update on our lives and our family and friends are able read at their leisure. Now ... if only I can get them to build one of their own I would be a happy camper !

From Dances With Wolves

My husband and I received one of the most thoughtful and unique gifts this year from his uncle, Frank, and aunt, Leanna: a cap and scarf worn by Frank when he was casted as Lt. Tucker in the Kevin Costner movie, Dances with Wolves and a t-shirt which was given to the cast and crew during production.
You may recall that uncle Frank has Alzheimer's and so we participated in the Memory Walk this year in honor of him. To receive something so special made our Christmas that much better. We will frame his shirt, hat, and scarf to display in our home.
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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Casting Off

I finally had the sense to switch to a size 13 needle from a size 8 after scrapping the scarf that I had started knitting as a Christmas gift to my husband's grandmother. The first scarf I knitted initially was coming along really well but in the end became a scarf for my cats. The needle size 8 was too small for the bulky boucle yarn I had been using and I was constantly picking up extra stitches or dropping stitches--quite frustrating.

So the weekend before Christmas, I picked up a pair of size 13 bamboo knitting needles from Michaels Arts & Crafts Store and an assortment of colorful skeins of yarn. With larger knitting needles and a less fancy yarn than the boucle, I was able to knit less stitches per inch and my project went a lot faster.
I started the night before Christmas Eve and knitted the entire drive from Las Vegas to Corona Del Mar (about four hours) and I was almost done by the time we had arrived at Grandma's house. Just one more hour and I was ready to cast off and add the finishing touch, the fringes.

There's a helpful video on casting off for all sorts of projects but basically you 1) knit two stitches 2) pick up the first stitch and drop it over the second stitch and off the needle (so you have one stitch left on the needle) 3) knit another stitch (so you have two stitches) and repeat step 2 until you finally 4) tie off the last stitch.
By the time we were ready to have dinner and open gifts thereafter, I had the sharf done for Grandma. (We called it a "sharf" because it was a little short in length to be a scarf and not quite wide enough for a shawl so it became a sharf." (It was a good 4 1/2 feet.) Here I am in the den proudly displaying my completed knitting project before wrapping it up.
Grandma LOVED it! She knew how much I was struggling with knitting and was impressed to see how much I had improved (which was literally overnight).

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bundled Up for the Holidays

On this last Saturday before Christmas, I was out shopping for last minute gifts when I found this pink sparkle long hair sweater for Elgy.
And this Simply Sophisticate brown sweater with fur for Havi.

While Elgy was not comfortable in her outfit, Havi rather enjoyed her new sweater and lounged around in it for a while.
I think skirts would look really cute on them or some reindeer antlers I found but I thought this was enough torture for one day!

~.~ ~.~ ~.~ Later this evening ~.~ ~.~ ~.~

I tried the front button sweater on Elgy and she seemed to like it much better as opposed to the pink one (which was a slip on).
Diva Elgy says I'm too sexy for this sweater!
I think she definitely loves it (and her new collar with a bell). Elgy appears to be more animated with the bell. I think she likes the sound of it when she prances around though it acts more like a cow bell. Havi loves knowing exactly where her target is and I've noticed more cat fights since afternoon.

Perhaps their fights were more out of jealousy. I don't think Havi appreciated Elgy borrowing her sweater. She is pictured here sticking her tongue out at Elgy saying, "You do not look half as good as I did!"

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Kitchen: Walls Painted

It dawned on me that I never posted photos of our kitchen with the walls painted. We found a great swatch and picked the lighter color (Eiffel Tower) for the walls and the darker color (Star Anise) for the ceiling. The two colors really make the white on the light canisters and window sills pop.

The entrance from the living room with the cabinets painted black and stainless steel bar pulls.

I can't tell you how much we use the counter space to the left of the stove since we've installed two additional cabinets and extended the countertop across.

The kitchen is actually not as dark as it appears in these pics.

The hanging light in the breakfast nook will be replaced with track lighting.
A view at night where Havi has found find shelter between the upturned chairs to take a nap.

There is bar on the side of the kitchen sink with an opening that looks into the lounge. We will eventually install three pendant lights in the opening area to shine down on the bar.
We are almost finished with the facelift of our kitchen. Though there is still more work to be done, I think we've come a long ways in transforming our kitchen from what it was before. You can follow us from the beginning of our project through this link.