Thursday, July 31, 2008

Viva Michoacan

My husband and I were on our way to eat at Outback Steakhouse (since it has been a while since we've had dinner there) when we passed Viva Michoacan Mexican Restaurant and decided to take a detour.
It's always fun to sit at the bar of any restaurant, in my opinion, but we passed up on it.
We were promptly seated at a booth and it must've been early for dinner because we were one of the few but not for long as other guests started to arrive. The mariachi band made an entrance to provide music for the evening. They played everything from La Cucaracha to La Bamba and Beseme Mucho, beautifully performed by the 3-man band.
The restaurant has a really big menu, it was hard for us to decide on what we wanted for dinner.
Margaritas are always a great start...LOL.
There's a quote on the back of these glasses, which I would love printed on a bumper sticker or tank top that says, "Save Water, Drink Margaritas".

Then our dinner came. Johnny ordered the Pollo Amador. YUM!!
I picked the Polla al Chipotle (Parangaricutirimicuaro). Say wha..???

The menu stated, "If you are "gringo" and can say this word without stopping you will win a free margarita or a tequila slamer." I've been practicing and it is pronounced, paran-gari-cutirimi-cuaro. Simply delicious; nice and spicy.
We left happy and satisfied. What a great evening and we were glad we took a detour.

Home with our kitties

I brought this chair home from my office and the girls seem to love it. They lounge on it, take naps in it and like to "mark it" with their scent as Havi is demonstrating.
Tonight was Elgy's turn to sit in the chair. She absolutely loves it and I most definitely love her. She's so darn cute, I had to take photos with her and she gave me a kiss (either that or smelling my sweatiness; I haven't changed since coming home from working out at the gym).
Havi looks on and I took some photos of her. In this one, she was in attack mode. Her target was Elgy of course...LOL.
Then I went to see what my husband was doing. I can usually find him working nonstop in the kitchen washing the dishes from dinner but he took a moment for a photo with me. This is our typical night, just us and our girls.
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Tomato-Basil Baked Fish

I tried this recipe from the August/September issue of Taste of Home. It's really easy (takes less than 15-minutes) and I imagine it's pretty healthy. My husband loved it. I didn't leave a crumb on my plate (pictured above) but I was pretty hungry...LOL!!!

Tomato-Basil Baked Fish
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
8 ounces orange roughy, red snapper, cod or haddock fillets (I used Alaskan haddock though I think roughy would be best)
1/4 teaspoon dried basil (I substituted fresh basil because didn't have any dried basil)
1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced (I substituted heirloom tomato mix and used tons)
2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese

Combine the lemon and oil in a shallow dish and add fish fillets, turning to coat. Place only the fillets in a greased baking dish. Sprinkled with basil, salt and pepper. Arrange tomatoes on top, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cover and bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

I served the fish garnished with grilled eggplants (seasoned with oil, balsamic vinegar, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper) and rice (instant white rice cooked according to instructions with a cube of chicken bouillon added to the boiling water).


Goal Reached but Running on Empty

I have reached my weight loss goal and have been hovering around it for a couple weeks now, fluctuation 1 or 2 pounds--yay!! This week has been especially hectic for me with added job responsibilities due to transitions in my department. I am completely out of my element and in two new office locations so my eating habits have fallen off the train tracks (or shall I say, lack of eating habits).

Every day this week up until today, I've had barely anything to eat. I can always count on my morning protein shakes and coffee but the rest of the day has been nearly nothing. Kashi chews, grapes and cheese one day until dinner. Yesterday I had a Kashi chew and diet Pepsi. 370 calories for might be fine for someone who may be anorexic, it certainly is not sufficient for me--I've got my bums to feed!!

Running around from building to building in this Vegas heat and, somehow, I still managed to get my workout in during lunch. But this hectic schedule drains me by the end of the day; I'm just pooped and I can feel it. All because I didn't properly feed my body. When I've been running on empty, I realize more than ever how important it is to have small meals throughout the day.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Antipasto Dinner and Ratatouille

We invited mom and dad, John and Maggie, over for dinner and a movie. When I'm out of ideas for creating a half decent meal (either that or I'm just being lazy), antipasto as a meal is always a great idea and we decided to watch the computer animated movie, Ratatouille. It's a story about a rat who wants to become a chef and my husband and I love it--tonight will be the third or fourth time that we've watched it.

The ingredients for dinner came off the shelves of Trader Joe's. I think we were hungry when we went shopping because we grabbed a little bit of everything. A variety of cheeses, meats, grapes, mix of olives, hearts of palm, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, a few bottles of wine and a baguette. The dishmate liquid was a necessity and not served for dinner...LOL.
My husband tackled the first course, Caprese Salad. He prepared it all by himself and I think he did a fantastic job; I'm proud of him. If you're bored of a traditional salad of mixed veggies, try this salad. It's very easy to do by alternating slices of soft mozzarella and tomatoes, throw in fresh basil leaves (my husband slices them so they're easier to eat), dribble with olive oil and vinaigrette, sprinkle crushed black pepper and some salt and serve.
Then the main course came along.

We sat right in front of the t.v. so we could watch the movie while we nibbled.
My plate...but I had to sample just a little bit of everything.
We opened a couple bottles of wine and enjoyed the cheeses and bread over conversations.
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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pirate House in Boulder City

Friday after work, I grabbed a bikini and dashed over to John and Maggie's home for a swim before dinner. Cousin Franny and her friend, Cassandra, from Temecula, CA were in town. Boulder City was their first stop along a road trip to New York City. Their friend, Jen, also from Temecula (but living in Henderson) also joined us.

Momma and pappa quail visited us again. I missed capturing a shot of them kissing. John said that's probably why they lost all their babies to the pool because they're too busy kissing. Baby quail is still alive; that evening at least.

From John and Maggie's home, we can see at the top of the hill this massive house with a pirate's theme. A shipwrecked vessel looms at the center of the property. We refer the marvel as The Pirate House and always wondered what it looked like inside.

This evening, Franny was on a mission to make her way onto the property for a tour. Jen, Cassandra and I were equally as curious so we walked down the street and up to the hill to the larger than life home.

In the spirit of where we were, Franny put on her pirate face after we were invited inside (also because the sign said No Trespassing, Pirate Only. We'll be pirates for a tour--aargh!!). I felt like I was in Disneyland going on the Pirates of the Caribbean theme ride as we ascended the stairs.

Once we were at the main level we could see to the left was a yard. Underneath the palapa umbrella, we signed a waiver in case we got injured on the property. A floor to ceiling glass wall protected the massive kitchen and living area inside. This shallow pool suits my swimming skill level...LOL. I love the table at the bar made out of what looked like beer barrels.

We walked on to a deeper pool where the pirate ship was embedded. The scared-looking skeleton with the snorkel gear and floaties remind me of myself if I were unsuccessful in swimming lessons...LOL.

There's a water slide that starts at the top level and spiraled down two floors through a dimly lit tunnel, exiting underneath the ship. The blue mat floating in the pool can give you a perspective of how grand this pool area is. There is another bar to the left of the blue floatie or the right of the stairs that lead into the pool underneath the waterfall.

With me being a novice swimmer, I passed up on the slide opportunity. Franny was the first to go, grabbing a mat and up to the top she went. Meanwhile I cranked my neck to look up at this tall mast with three points from which to dive off of and into the 22-foot deep pool down below. NO THANKS...

After all three girls went down the slide, I finally gathered the nerve to try the slide--with a life vest on of course. O...M...G!! It was a blast!! As I swiftly moved through the windy tunnel, it felt like I was on a roller coaster out of control except I was on a mat anxiously anticipating when I would finally drop off. When I finally exited into the pool, I was so thankful that I had a vest on. Plunging into the water was disorienting.

After all four of us girls went down the slide on one mat like bob sledders we toured the rest of the house. Our ride together was the scariest because with our combined weight we picked up momentum, sliding faster and faster. I was worried that we would land on each other and someone would get hurt but we made it through okay. Prior joy riders have flipped in the tunnel so laying keeping our head back and down helped us from turning over.

I took a video from the bar area:

At the top level, we could see the quiet valley and beautiful homes on this lake side of Boulder City (that is not smoke but a mister clouding my view). There was another pool and an ice cream machine (I nearly screamed). We were welcome to help ourselves at any of the bars and the ice cream machine but we were too occupied to take care of our thirst or sweet tooth.

On our way back down, we observed the shipwreck. The animated skeleton at the helm was steering his ship while his fair maiden contemplated abandoning the ship. Don't jump honey, you're already dead.

From our parents' home, we can see the waterfall cascading down the top of this hill. This time I got a closer view from the courtyard. Every where I look there are skeletons and pirates. I felt like I was in a town besieged by pirates!

It was impossible for us to tour the entire place with the limited time we had. We took some more photos before we must get back to spend time with our family and have dinner despite their generous invitation for us to join them for dinner (thank you but I wouldn't miss Maggie's cooking for anything). They were very nice people and the children made cute hosts when they gave us the tour. While we were interested in looking around, I think the kids found us non-pirates fascinating. ;)

One last photo before we strolled back sporting a look as if we just off the Magic Mountain ride, soaking wet but thrilled.

Dinner was absolutely delicious and fitting for a warm summer night. Maggie prepared grilled chicken, salad, boiled corn and sweet watermelon for dessert. What a perfect night as always. Family, friends and good food and drinks are my favorite ingredients.

Photos from my Flickr album, Pirate House and Family Dinner
(you can also click on the title of any post to access album of photos in that post)

Funny Cubicle Business

My department is moving to a new building over this weekend but I'm not moving there entirely. The office for the position to which I was recently promoted is in the new building but the project I am joining full-time on Monday will be operating from a different building and I will work from a cubicle rather than an office. I don't mind, especially knowing the new appointment comes with a small pay increase. I honestly could care less whether I'm in an office or cubicle (everyone on the project will be in cubicles as well) as long as there's plenty of natural light (there are floor to ceiling windows surrounding the cubicles).

A few days ago, when I went to check out my new home for the first time, I took over just one item: a cubicle hanging file organizer and hung it on the outside of the panel (where others could leave files for me without entering my space). Most of the work spaces, including mine, were empty besides the desk, chair and shelving system since they were just recently set up.

When I started moving the rest of my stuff over yesterday, I noticed my hanging file organizer was gone. WTH? was my initial reaction. I thought maybe it was thrown away or not allowed because it didn't conform with the structured look of the cubicles or maybe because it was somewhat dusty. Then I spotted it hanging off another cubicle not far from mine. My organizer and I could tell that it was mine because it was the same dusty thing.

I wanted to take it back and hang it over my cubicle where it had been. Perhaps the person who took it thought no one was using it since my cubicle had been bare. This time they won't be mistaken because by then I had everything set up in my area. The person will get the hint when the tray is back on my cubicle right? Besides, how could they take something from another cubicle that was not theirs? I didn't take the tray back because that would certainly cause some awkwardness when that person finds out that I knew they took my tray. I don't want to start off a relationship on the wrong foot with someone I've never met; especially someone I may have to work closely with. I decided I want a shot at being cubie-friends and not enemies.

Then I thought to send an e-mail to our group with a message like, "Does anyone have information on the whereabouts of a file organizer tray that was hanging outside of cubicle number _ _? It could have been mistaken for trash but I am actually using it." They may get the gentle hint and return it. After all, I don't think they meant to steal it and were only mistaken as to whether the tray was actually being used by somebody or not.

Finally I decided to just forget it and leave it be. Pick my battles and that's certainly not one I would choose. If the person took it, they must need it more than I do. It would be nice to have one but I don't need it that bad. (Why not order another one? First, I really try to keep my office accessories simply and second, our project is on a budget and I don't like to spend others' money needlessly).

I think when I finally meet this person, I'll say something like I'm glad you like my hanging file organizer and let them know they can certainly keep it...LOL.

Sweating on the Stationary Bike

I think I've found a new love at the gym today when I stepped on a stationary bike for a weekend workout! An hour later, I was in love. Blame it on a surge of endorphins surging through my brain. Sweat dripped freely from my arms, hands, forehead and chin onto the floor and down my chest (don't worry, I wiped the machine down before and after use with disinfectant). By the time I was done, my entire tank top was soaked except for two bottom corners.

I had merely wanted a short ride before circuit training. After 20 minutes of riding I thought I'd use my heart rate monitor to get an analysis of my workout. I'm a numbers person and enjoy finding meaning from them--especially when it comes to my cardio routine.

10 minutes went by...then 20 minutes went by and I thought, okay...I'll just ride to 30 minutes. A few more minutes later I was close to 40 and wanted to keep going even after realizing that I had been riding for just over an hour. But the days' errands were calling so I needed to pry myself away from the gym. Besides, I did more than I had planned to do.

A look at my heart rate monitor gave me the following readings based on my age, height and weight:
41 minutes
167 bpm average heart rate
184 bpm peak heart rate
34:30 minutes in zone 5 (165-180 bpm)
611 total calories burned

A workout that would make my cycling husband proud. Now I understand why he enjoys it so much and how he easily shedded almost 40 pounds off of his 6'0" frame. I think I have to get a road bike and take this party on the wide open road!
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Never Walk These Halls

We are moving our offices to a new building today. Some of my co-workers have reported to this building, Frazier Hall, for over two decades. It's the only building they've ever work in. After today, they'll never walk through this hall again and neither will I.

Constructed over 50 years ago, this old building was the first of our institution and so that makes it the oldest on campus (50 years is considered old in a town that is constantly constructing new buildings). Though this building has a lot of history, it will eventually be torn down (which is a controversial issue for many people). There's a great article in the Las Vegas Sun covering the building's history, its last days and plans for the space on which it stands after it is torn down.

All I have to say (and this is my personal opinion and feelings though others may disagree) is that those who want to save it, have never worked a day in this (with all due respect) moldy, bug infested, patchwork, creaky, dark and dingy one story "shoe box" of a building. In the article mentioned above, there's a line that says the building speaks. It says, “Come in, do your business, and get the hell out.” While waiting in line for student services, people have complained about the smells coming from the bathrooms nearby.

Frazier Hall has been financially cumbersome to maintain and too costly to renovate--especially during a time when the state has a budget deficit. If the building was in good shape as it stands, it might be worth preserving. After all, this building was once the epicenter of all services (library, labs, classes and administrative offices) but Frazier Hall has had better times in its glory days. Unfortunately those days are history. A history I'd rather enjoy through photos and the memories I have--good and bad.

Come Monday, we will be in a new building that is much more inviting and student friendly (staff friendly too) and that is a good thing. A building that will better serve all those who step foot in it.

Frazier Hall in the Past
The building that began UNLV was undoubtedly beautiful back in the days with a story and history to match.

Present Day Frazier Hall
Now the only beautiful thing about Frazier are the shrubs and trees (some planted in memory of those who worked in the building and have since passed on) surrounding it. I don't think Frazier Hall is as beautiful now as it was then and I say this not to insult its spirit. The structure is, in my personal opinion, not salvageable.


Look what I uncovered in the nook and crannies of the office cabinets. He's kinda darn cute in an Oscar the Grouch kind of way.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Little Lake Time

John and I ran the boat on Lake Mead this late afternoon for a little bit. It's been weeks since we took it out and now that we have it back from being tuned and tweaked at the shop, we wanted to run it around. Open it up and burn some old fuel. Though it was breezy, the water was strangely glassy allowing us to hit three-digit speeds without even realizing it.

This time we launched at Hemenway Harbor because of the (forgive my French) idiots at the defunct Lake Mead launch ramp. Time after time, lines of cars snake from the water line waiting to launch their water vessels. There are plenty of spaces in the water for someone to back into but for some reason people keep waiting or, worse, they're getting their boat ready: loading coolers, tents, fixing the wake tower, loading kids and the baby pen (no kidding). Meanwhile everyone behind waits for them to launch and the person immediately behind doesn't have the nerve to ask them that--if they aren't ready to launch, can the next person take the available slip? So the people who are ready to go are waiting and waiting because no one wants to be rude and cut in line. But there's a limit to our patience.

This afternoon was like that--a clusterf*ck of people waiting to launch and we waited and waited and waited because of a holdup at the front of the line. The first people in line didn't have the decency to wave people forward; ahead of them--which I think is freakin' selfish because they must've been thinking know...they'll just get in the line to launch first and then get ready before their turn comes up to drop their boat.

You see, there exists such a thing as a READY LANE where people can pull over before the launch line to prepare their water crafts so when they get to the launch line, they are READY TO LAUNCH their boat or jet ski. As much as my husband and I are eager to get out on the water, we never want to inconvenience others by getting ready at the launch ramp. So we pull over, take off the straps, put in the plugs, turn on the battery and fuel lines, load our coolers and life jackets--in other words we do everything possible so we are ready to dump the boat in once we hit the water and get out of the way. Not to sound like snobs but if we were timed from the moment there's a spot available on the water and pull the truck with trailer out of the water, we would take less than two minutes tops. Still, there are others in the water messing with their straps, loading coolers and doh! forgot to put the baby on the boat. O.M.F.G.!! This is one of the times when my blood pressure rises and tonight, it was boiling. You know what? In Lake Havasu, the ramp we used is operated like a tight ship--we've never experienced this kind of circus.

If the ramp is a mess when we launch, it will be a bigger mess when we try to pull out of the water because by that time people are tired and if they're incompetent launching, they're worse when leaving the lake. We'll never launch there again though we've said this many times prior but I am SO done with that launch ramp at Lake Mead. I've spent all my patience card for inconsiderate assholes and it's not just incidents like this. We've seen others crash their boat into other boats in front AND behind them. People not dropping their drive and spewing water every where but yet can't figure out why their boat won't back up into the water ... and so forth.

We are usually really patient because we expect a level of chaos at that ramp but tonight pushed us beyond our threshold. It was so frustrating for me to watch but have no control. More frustrated than I was my husband at the guy behind us who said, "Hey--there's a line you know!". We tried to launch after it looked like nobody in front of us knew what they were doing. The guy didn't say, "Sir, I don't know if you know there's a line but we are also waiting." like we would've said when people unknowingly cut in front. And while my husband was on the verge of getting physical with the guy after verbal reasoning didn't work (it's been a long time since I've seen John so mad), people behind us were trying to launch because they lost their patience for waiting. Can I say it was a mess again?

As I pushed my husband back into our truck because I didn't want our night to go this way let alone waste our energy on an idiot, the same guy said, "Yeah listen to your wife..." and I almost, almost got into his face and said, "That's because he f*cking respects his wife unlike the looks of you." As much as I desired to back hand him like Andy Roddick, I wouldn't hit him because the same rule applies to both men and women: don't hit unless you want to get hit in return.

My husband is the most courteous man I know and is not a wuss (he may be smaller in size because of his weight loss but he's actually stronger than he has been). He would have defended his ground if that man stepped a foot closer. So that old bag lake lice was simply lucky I didn't allow the situation to escalate.

Besides that incident, our evening was as great as can be. Boat is running like a bullet and is doing well on the market. There are several buyers in line to take it off our hands so we can purchase a second home. With that income stream and yet another promotion for me, we can finally invest in a second property. You know that promotion I got over a month ago? I barely blinked before an offer of a lifetime fell on my lap. The opportunity to be part of an ERP team to develop the new student information system; the first of many modules. The project meetings start this coming Monday. Another path in the journey of my life so here we go again...the more we make, the more we spend...LOL!!!