Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sauteed Spiced Salmon

Made this Sauteed Spiced Salmon the other night and it was YUMMY!! Quick, easy and the crunchy crust from the spice rub added texture. We served with Mexican rice and snap peas.



We also tried a Sensational Spiced Salmon recipe and it is also delicious.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Scarf and Long Socks

John gave me a hard time for wearing over-sized sweatpants around the house. Well..they were his. The crotch hung at my mid thigh and I would tuck my feet in so they looked like footed pajamas worn by toddlers. I must admit, it was not the most attractive way to stay warm.

So I dug out my long socks (and matching candy cane earrings) which he thought was even more ridiculous than the sweats and so he had to take a photo of me (probably to make fun of through one of his forums though that would not be necessary since I already do a fine job of making a fool of myself, LOL).



The socks are keeping my legs and feet warm, so I am okay with that.

Well I have GREAT news! I finally finished the scarf I started last winter for our aunt Leanna in Montana. You see, I only knit during the winter but that does not excuse the snail-like speed of my knitting skills. What matters is the scarf is complete and I am sending it with hugs and kisses tomorrow.


Friday, December 26, 2008

Moving Forward

I don't know about you but I am ready to move on from Christmas and prepare for the new year. But first, I shall tie up loose ends like ship gifts we were carrying to my parents in WA and unpack my luggage.

John went to work so I am home with Havi and Elgy. I changed the template for my blog and as soon as I get off the computer will wash the dishes, tidy the house, write thank you notes, start dinner from a recipe in my new cookbook and if I have time, knit a scarf and read some books (note: I didn't say I'd complete a scarf today, LOL. At least I won't be back to work until January 5 so I have time).

The photos for our Christmas cards have been reprinted and should ship in a couple days. At least that will give me the chance to write in the cards or better yet, write a year in review note! Maybe I will get a chance to take a hot bath and dye my hair. I'm going dark! Hopefully I can download photos to the digital photos frames we purchased for each of our parents. And no, I don't dare venture outside into the Day-After-Christmas-Shopping madness.

We should get the DVD for Running Scared in the mail, a buddy cop comedy/thriller to watch tonight. My idea of a quiet, relaxing day. Gotta get going now...

Our Christmas in Vegas

I opened my eyes on Christmas morning hoping last night was a bad dream. For a second, believing that I was waking up in Washington state where my family gathered for Christmas. Instead my heart dropped. I was in our bedroom...still in Las Vegas and closed my eyes to fall back asleep. Because of flight delays due to severe weather, we canceled our trip to the Evergreen State. This morning I will not be opening gifts with my family or see the joy on my niece and nephews' faces when they open their presents.

A kiss on my shoulder and fingers running through my hair woke me up. "Good morning!" It was John pushing the messy strands away from my face, asking if I would like to go to breakfast.

I didn't answer him definitively after he asked several times before going into the shower and after stepping out of the shower. Even though I wasn't hungry, I should be since I went to bed without a bite of dinner, it would be unwifely of me to deprive my husband of a decent breakfast.

I rose out out of bed and got ready for breakfast, my face looked like I was in a boxing match from crying out of disappointment. During our drive to the Original Pancake House, the streets were quiet. Void of cars and people. It was like a ghost town. But we knew almost everyone was all doing what we should have partaken in Washington.

Breakfast was perfect, even without the Bloody Mary I had so wanted to warm up my stomach. John likes the chocolate chip pancakes with extra syrup and I stuck with strawberry pancakes and a side of honey maple ham.
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After breakfast we went to watch Four Christmases at the theater located in the casino we were in. The movie starring Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon seemed appropriate since it was Christmas Day. Great movie, by the way.

John couldn't resist being himself, making me laugh in the process.
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After the movie, I felt better and was over being bummed about missing Christmas with family. At least we were all together, just in different places. It can always be worse, right? We went home, drank eggnog and watched holiday programming and another movie, Identity, which I recommend--but not on Christmas Day, LOL.

Later in the same evening, we had some electrical issues so our outdoor Christmas lights went out as well as the lights in the master and guest bathrooms (though some of the outlets still work ). At this point, I can live with showering in the dark but when we reset the circuit breakers, the wireless routers lost its network settings. I HAD to do something about that and spent a good hour troubleshooting and reconfiguring the cable modem and wireless router. But hey--I'm back online to bring this important message to you!

I hope everyone had a VERY MERRY Christmas and got all that you had wished for!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Bloody Mary Christmas

Nothing has been going right so it is fitting that the restaurant in which we are having breakfast does not serve Bloody Mary (or any alcohol). Just a treat to help make things better and I couldn't get such a simple thing.

I have puffy eyes with matching bags underneath that Coach would proud of. The result of crying through Christmas Eve cursing winter until I fell asleep.

We were packed and was within an hour of leaving for the airport. Despite my dislike for flying, I was excited to see my family in Washington state. My grandmother and uncle were visiting from Laos, I would get to meet a new nephew I haven't seen since he was born and, of course, spend Christmas with my siblings, parents, niece and nephews. This would also be John's first trip to the northeast part of the state.

Then we got the phone call. Due to weather conditions, our flight out of Vegas will be delayed for an hour which means we will miss our connecting flight in Phoenix...the last flight out of Phoenix on Christmas Eve. The next available flight would be 4 p.m. the next day and it was booked. With no confirmed seats, we would be on standby (translated "no guarantee that we will board") so we'd be stuck at the Phoenix airport on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day while our hotel at our destination go unused and we miss the holiday with my family. The idea of a two day layover is right up there with flying.

We even asked if there were other flights out of Phoenix to another connecting city, adding another leg to our trip. We were willing to fly to Florida if it meant we'd end up home for Christmas but there was nothing available with our airline...or any other airline.

By the end of the evening, we canceled our trip and I put in a teary call to my family to let them know we would not be with them for the holiday. I will miss the chance to see my grandmother and uncle as they are returning to Laos the day after Christmas...not get to play with the kids and hold my nephew...no mom and dad...no Laotian food. We could do nothing about going to Washington state.

Since our bags were already packed, we drove towards California to spend our days with my husband's family. An hour and a half later when we were at the state line to use the restroom, we sadly turned around for Vegas, too emotionally and physically exhausted for the hours of driving ahead.

If anyone was happy about our series of unfortunate events, it was our cats. Havi and Elgy were THRILLED when we came home so I am glad that at least we will be together for Christmas. Even if it's just the four of us.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Reinder Wine

I'm not a big fan of Chardonnay but THIS is darn cute (and actually quite crisp and delicious)!!
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Hands

One of the most meaningful gifts we've recieved this year was the tracing of a pair of hands with a simple but beautiful note that touched our hearts. These hands are those of our uncle Frank, who is in the late stages of Alzheimer's disease. We hope to he will be with us for one more Christmas and ring in the new year.
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String of Christmas Cards

We never know what to do with the Christmas cards received from friends and family. If we display them on the tile counter near the entry way, our cats will inevitably plow them down while chasing each other around the house. So I thought to string them up across the entrance so we can read them well into the new year.

I admit, our greeting cards have not gone out. The photo I ordered to go in our holiday cards more than a couple weeks ago was lost in the mail and I didn't realize it until this late into the end of the year. Oh well...I think it is never too late to send notes from the heart.

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221 Shots

One morning I couldn't fall back asleep so I went to the breakfast nook with my laptop to get some work done. Havi joined me but she was more interested in the imaginary fairies floating underneath the shade of the light. I put my camera in high speed mode and shot off 221 images ... and only came up with this, LOL. What can I say...? She's my hairy cherub!

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Let it snow in Vegas

We are having snowfall...about 2 to 3 inches so far. My husband took this photo in between running errands.

I was on campus at the time and was pushing my scooter back to my office.





The president of the university allowed everyone who needed to leave for home off for the rest of the afternoon. The snow storm could break records set over 20 years ago and if I didn't leave campus immediately, I could be stuck in a cold cubicle.

The roads were crazy, visibility was very low. McCarren airport shut down and there were several freeway closures. The infamous Las Vegas sign lost power and there were many people taking photos in front of it.

It snowed into the evening and all was quiet and calm.





I was outside taking photos when I heard a CRACK! One of the branches from the neighbor's tree (in the background of this photo) broke from the weight of the snow (many trees on campus were experiencing the same thing).



I must admit, snow can be beautiful...but hurry up and melt so there can be hopes of sunshine.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Very Funny

The girls know better than to get on the kitchen counter. Today I think they wanted to surprise us and we couldn't help but laugh at the mess they made.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Compliment

I had just left the grocery store and was pushing the cart to my car when I got hit on.

"Excuse me. Has anyone ever told you how beautiful you are?", I heard. In my mind I thought, yes, my husband does every day.

I turned around and before me stood a young man. He couldn't have been older than 12 or 13 years old. This is a first.

I thanked him, impressed that such a young soul would find a 31 year old woman attractive and had the courage to pay me a compliment.

I loaded my car and started to push my cart to the storage carousel when he offered to take it for me. I smiled as I thanked him and wished him a happy holiday.

Maybe I made his day but he certainly made mine after a stressful morning. I think he will definitely make some girl really happy one day as I watched him get in the passenger seat with his mom or grandma. I wanted to tell her that she's doing a great job.

Not my morning

I had it all planned out today, the errands I needed to run. On my way to Costco, I was pulled over by a police officer for reasons I did not know. I was idle at the off ramp signal light when a police car drove up behind me and followed for a few feet before the lights came on, signaling me to pull over. What could it be, I wondered.

To my surprise, I was informed that a check on my vehicle registration was suspended and my car shouldn't be on the road. (My really dark tinted windows could have been a flag, prompting a run on my plates, probably thinking I could be a troubled teenager with warrants). My first thought was, "What?!". The last notice I received for insurance verification was August of 2007. I thought it was taken care of and haven't heard anything since then.

Apparently, the DMV does not have current auto insurance information on my vehicle which probably had to do with us switching our insurance company recently. To top things off, I didn't have a current insurance card with me. Why weren't we informed to take action before the registration was suspended? This meant it is illegal for the car to be on the streets! Rather than making me take the license plate off my car, the officer let me go--without citing me.

After a bumpy start to my morning, I was at Costco and realized I didn't bring my membership card with me. No big deal, I'll go back.

Moving onward I drove to the library to return a book...and the road that led there was closed, blocked off for a special event. Unfamiliar with the area, I followed the detour sign down a road that winded through the neighborhood and kept going further and further away from my destination until...I ended up on the same street but further down. Forget the book, I was now turned around and had to find my way out of there. I was SO close but yet so far.

At this point, I didn't get to fill up on gas at Costco nor was I able to pick up items needed from there and now I couldn't do something so simple as returning a library book. What else can go wrong? (At least I didn't get a ticket so I'm thankful for that.)

When I went to drop off my clothes at the dry cleaner, Murphy's law flashed through my mind as I handed my debit card to prepay for the service. I held my breath, I didn't have cash on me. It went through. At least I can cross one thing off my list before coming back home to regroup.

Okay. Let's try this again .


~- Updated 12:36pm -~

Well...I didn't get very far. With my auto policy declaration in hand, my first stop was the DMV to see if I can get this insurance verification resolved in person. I discovered that the DMV has no record of insurance coverage on my car back to August 2007! My question is how did I drive around for over a year with the license plate suspended and we never got any notice from the DMV? They usually send an insurance verification card if they need proof of insurance on record.

Wait. It gets worse. The root of the problem is that our last name on the title and registration is wrong so that when verification of insurance is sent to the DMV, the names don't match and is rejected by the system.

It's such a common occurrence that our last name is misspelled and usually it is not a big deal. But in this case with the DMV, there is a problem. Because people can't spell such a simple last name correctly, we have to go through all this trouble to get the title and registration changed and contact our insurance companies to verify current and past coverage.

Meanwhile, it is illegal for me to drive my car with the license plate suspended. The next police officer may not be so kind and write me an $1,100 ticket! We are responsible people, we've maintained continuous insurance coverage on our vehicles-- isn't that all that should matter? Not some technicality in a misspelled last name. But not for the suspension, the car is registered and insured. Isn't that the point?

Yeah...my day is going REALLY well and I have yet to make it to Costco. Something tells me I shouldn't be running errands today.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Vegavitamin

Calcium
B50
Potassium
Omega-3
Daily multivitamin

...ya think I over did it? Maybe this is why I haven't been so hungry today. I hate taking vitamins but I am doing this for my husband.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Something Forgotten

Every now and then, I will forget to pack an item in my gym bag. Socks, t-shirt (luckily my friend had a spare), sandals or (often) a hair tie. No big deal--I just make do and go without or improvise like use a paper towel to tie my hair. Today, I forgot my sports bra which is a first. Scenarios went through my head...a) do I wear my bra but since I sweat profusely, would have to be braless the rest of the day b) workout without support, after all the stationary bike is not that jarring. I chose the latter.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Waiting for milk

Elgy perches next to John as he eats cereal for breakfast. One paw rests on his leg while her eyes are fixed on the little pool of milk in the bowl that would be left for her to lap up when he's done with breakfast.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sam and Tiffany Wed

This weekend ended on a high note with the wedding of our cousin, Sam to long time sweetheart, Tiffany. We drove down to San Diego, CA to celebrate their special day.



The ceremony and reception was held at the Marriott in Point Loma where over 250 guests gathered on the green lawn as witnesses to the Sam and Tiffany's vows.





The ceremony was beautiful and personalized by our cousin, Bert, who was also the ordained minister at our wedding two and a half years ago.











The food was delicious and it was wonderful to see everyone. All in one weekend, I was able to see both sides of my extended family. I certainly have a lot to be thankful for.

Photos from Flickr album "Sam & Tiffany's Wedding".

Our Thanksgiving 2008

Our Thanksgiving in Newport, CA was special as usual but this year was without T.J. All the aunts and uncles on my mom-in-law's side gathered at Tom and Sue's home the day after their son's memorial service, bringing several dishes so we had a spread of things to eat...and plenty to drink.



There was the usual suspects, turkey, mashed potatoes, a variety of cranberry sauce, and stuffing...then beef tenderloin and OMG...the desserts!! Pumpkin pie, apple pie, brownies...I can't remember though I tasted every one of them. I just noticed no greens on my plate--yikes!!



Our second cousin and youngest member in our extended family, Robbie, was a hit. Who cannot find those clear blue eyes, chubby cheeks and red lips not adorable?!


Trip to Naples in Florida

My sister, Brandy, contacted me when her girlfriends flaked out on their planned trip to Naples, Florida. She had already booked her flight and hotel so she would be vacationing alone. Brandy desperately needed to get away from the single digit temperatures in Minnesota where she lives (I don't blame her one bit) and sunny Florida sounded like the perfect remedy. She also needed to temporarily escape from the craziness of her life and lean on me as she always had through her life when she needed sisterly advice (I am the younger one but she always thought I was the wiser).

Since John was unable to make the cross-country trip with me, I traveled alone late Wednesday night (November 19) which was something I hate to do: vacation without my husband and fly (luckily, a stiff gin and tonic and some Tylenol PM knocked me out before takeoff) but my sister needed support and I responded to her call for some sister time.



She met me with our rental car when I landed and soon we were in the green, sunny city of Naples. If you are looking for a quiet place to relax, this would be it. The area is known for the golfing, shopping and dining, catering towards those who have retired.

After we settled in our room, a studio with a spa tub that opened to the bedroom with a patio overlooking the main pool, we walked along Fifth Avenue South past shops and restaurants in search of a place to eat for lunch. Bella Maria Cafe offered an appealing menu so we sat down to a glass of Sangria with Red Bull for a start.



We shared a plate of seafood salad and calamari and they gave us their dessert of the day (Bavarian creme in philo sprinkled with powdered sugar) on the house.

Back in our room, we changed for Happy Hour and decided to stay close as we were exhausted from our long flight.




That night, the city had a wine tour and those who have purchased tickets could walk to 29 restaurants along Fifth Avenue and sample wine and hors devours. The last stop was our hotel and so we had plenty of company before the night was over. Brandy and I sat around appetizers and mojitos while we caught up on our lives.



Before the night was over, we had wine and coffee with dessert provided by the big event. We had an early night and it was not hard to fall asleep.

The next day, my sister insisted we go work out in the gym facility before we did anything else. Then she got a pedicure and manicure while I sat outside and stayed warm in the morning rays of the Florida sun. By the time she was finished, we were ready for some lunch and stopped by Sushi Thai Too. What we had craved was some spicy food and sure enough, the chef was more than happy to accommodate because he also liked Thai chili peppers to flavor his food. I ordered the Japanese ceviche and Brandy chose the Volcano Roll. We each had a bowl of mixed seafood Tom Yum soup and beer...YUM-YUM!!
The only thing left to do on Thursday was to hit the white sand beach of Naples and that's what we did!




By sunset, we were chilled to the bone so we soaked in the hot tub and grabbed a drink at the bar before getting ready for some dinner and dancing. Of course, we had to stir up the stairs where so many beautiful brides and groom graced for their wedding photos.



Dinner was conveniently at Sushi Thai Too. The restaurant owner and staff have been really nice and hospital to us. We were served dishes not offered on their menu but was made for themselves. We were really honored to share something so special and felt right at home.


We met some friends on the beach earlier that day who joined us with their friends at Yabbas (restaurant, bar and nightclub). We had so much fun and went to bed around 6:30 a.m. which I haven't done in a long time but hey, we were on vacation!!


Saturday, my sister and I drove to Miami. She had visited before but this would be my first time. It wasn't bikini weather but the experience of the environment was definitely worth it. To me, it felt like a mixture of the beach cities and Vegas because while there were restaurants and hotels lining the beach there were guys on the street promoting their night clubs and hostesses speaking for their restaurant as we walked by.


We picked a restaurant with the best Mojitos (I had a large and my sister chose the regular glass; I mean, how soon will I have Mojitos in Miami again you know?) As we sat on the sidewalk, people walked by (through our dining area which I thought was non-traditional) and pointed at our supersized drinks and seafood platter, LOL!!) and we did some people watching while chatting.




Before our two hour drive back to Naples, we checked out the beach and went shoe shopping. When we got to our room, we were both exhausted and decided against going to an exclusive party for the opening of McCormicks and Schmicks which we were invited to.

As I settled my head into the soft pillow to close my eyes, my sister started to talk to me. I tried to keep up with her but sleep tugged at my eyes and weary body so I drifted off...only to be smacked in the arm by her. "Are you asleep?" (Well I had been, sis). Then I remembered that I was there for my older sister; she needed to talk to me (though at one point I remember being frustrated about her timing; it was way past 1:30 a.m. and then 2:30 a.m.). We talked the entire night about everything sisters talked about. In the end, what I thought would be an advice session for my sister turned out to be chicken soup for my soul. My sister had gotten wiser in her own way and I learned from her just as much as she had from me. What stood out in my mind is sisters are forever and we will always be there for each other.

When 5:30 a.m. came, I rose out of bed to shower and we left for the airport without a wink of sleep. I was definitely sad to say goodbye to my sis, as we always are but I'd say we spent some quality time with a mix of fun and seriousness. At least for that time, I left my sorrow behind for our family tragedy when I landed in Naples and coming back home to Vegas was a mix of emotions. I missed my husband, cats and home but it also meant one the worst and best days were in the wings. But that is okay...that is just life.