Friday, May 30, 2008

The Salad Days.

Yes, summer is upon us here in the ATX. Big time. Thankfully we've gotten a wee bit of a reprieve from the INSANE humid-laden heat of this past weekend, but still... Spring is over. Around my house that means that there are two things you can count on finding in the fridge: a container of iced tea, ready to be poured, and some salad to eat.

I mentioned a few posts back that I'm on a big main-dish salad making kick right now. I've been using recipes I find in my homemade recipe notebooks (i.e., stuff I've collected from friends or clipped out of magazines over the years) and from the Moosewood Simple Suppers cookbook. For now.
This week I prepared "Potato, White and Green Bean Salad" AND "Southwestern Black Bean Salad" both from the Moosewood book. Don't they look good? They were.

In fact, they were both SUPER yummy the first night they were served and also made insanely good leftovers. Now I'm stressing about what salads I'll make next. Let me know if you have suggestions...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Las Vegas: The Recap

Day 1, Tuesday
It was 105 degrees when we arrived, with a very hot wind blowing. Got checked in to the hotel (Bally's) and walked over to Paris for lunch. After that, we wandered across the street to the Bellagio to check it out and do a little gambling. Mom won nearly $200 at a nickel slot machine. I didn't win jack squat. Went back to the hotel to get ready for our 6:30 dinner reservations. Met my friend Lisa at Todd English's "Olives" at the Bellagio. Got a seat close to the windows over looking the Bellagio lake. Had a couple of cocktails. AMAZING food. Great service. Mom went back to the hotel after dinner. Lisa and I wandered over to Ceasar's to gamble. We parked our butts in front of a couple of blackjack machines and ordered a couple of cocktails. Lisa was doing math and really paying attention to what she played. I was just punching buttons. I ended up winning about $80. I don't know if Lisa won anything. Went back to the hotel, took a shower to wash all the cigarette stink off of me (you forget how annoying that shit is when you live in a pretty smoke free environment most of the time), and went to bed.

Day 2 (Wendesday...or Dia de la Diva!)
Woke up fairly early because both mom and I had booked spa appointments at The Spa at Bally's. Her: Classic facial and 1 hr. Swedish massage. Me: Express facial and 1 hr. Therapeutic massage. The spa was pretty nice, and I enjoyed my facial (although I hate it when the aesthetician wears latex gloves...it feels icky and smells funny). However, the massage? Worst. Massage. EVER. I swear, this lady just gave me a glorified back rub. I bet you she didn't even have a license to practice massage--THAT'S how bad it was. And I'm such a weenie, all I did was fill out a comment card to complain. I should've asked for my money back. For reals.

After that, mom went and bought this because she felt like her hair looked bad, and that a cool "Las Vegas" visor would do the trick on making it look better. I will NEVER understand that woman's relationship with her hair. Never. Then we walked our hungry asses down to the Wynn to check it out and eat at Red 8. Luckily, it was much cooler on Wednesday than it had been on Tuesday. Cooler and very sunny. Two observations: A city block on a map looks waaaaaaaaaay shorter in length than it actually is when you walk it. And seriously? The amount of old geezers clogging the sidewalks on rentable Rascals is sort of mind-blowing. Anyway, we finally made it down to The Wynn (gorgeous, by the way) and to the restaurant. But I gotta say, I was really underwhelmed by both the food and the service. ESPECIALLY given the price tag. Gambled some at the Wynn (lost!), and then made our way over to the Forum Shops at Ceasar's Palace where we did a lot of window shopping and only bought one thing...for the Geej (natch)...at FAO Shwartz. And y'all? There was an entire FLOOR of that store devoted to babydolls and babydoll accessories. The Geej would have lost her everlovin' mind!!On the way out of Ceaser's, back to our hotel, we stopped at Spago and made reservations for dinner and stopped by the "Will Call" desk and picked up these:
Awwww yeah.

The show was supposed to start at 7:30, but the dude at the ticket desk said, "You need to be here by 7:00pm." By the time we got gussied up and got back over there (at 7 sharp) there were already 4 LONG lines coming out of each one of the auditorium entrance doors. And this guy was next to us, and his ass was seriously fantastic:

God bless drag queens!

Once inside, I was SUPER happy with how awesome our seats were: orchestra level, stage left. We were about 12 rows back from the edge of the stage. The audience was a mixed bag: Women and men my mom's age (and Cher's age), some people my age (primarily coupled gay men), and a few random "what the Hell are these tow hefty fanny-pack wearing farmers from Iowa doing here" types. It was packed.

To start the show, Cher--in true diva fashion--descended from the rafters in a golden chariot looking contraption wearing a truly undescribable golden glittery ensemble, complete with insane head dress while singing U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." And it only got more outrageous from there. I managed to sneak my camera in, but was too scared to whoop it out and start shooting since we were so close to the stage. So, I suck. But Cher didn't. She was funny, her voice was in fine shape, and girlfriend DELIVERED on the glitz and "Vegas" factor when it came to the costume changes. It was seriously hilarious. The dancers/aerialists were very good, but they were really only there to distract you for a few minutes while Ms. Thang got in to her next fabulous get-up. And when she came out in a tastefully updated version of the "If I Could Turn Back Time" outfit, the audience--including my mom--went wild.

After the show, we went for a late (and yummy/extravagant) dinner at Spago where we got to watch a transvestite hooker dine with a Russian mafia type--complete with frosted mullet, acid washed jeans and chunky gold jewelry AND a dude pop the question to his lady with a box from Tiffany and she didn't say yes, instead she kept him on his knee squirming for a loooooong time and then finally took the ring and placed it on her right hand. They spent the rest of the meal in a very serious and uncomfortable looking discussion.

Went back to the room and crashed.

Day Three, Thursday
Tried to sleep a little late, but was woken up at 7:20am by a work-related text message on my cellphone. I texted back, "I'm on VACATION! Can this wait until Monday? If not, please as [my boss]." I get no respect, people.

Ate breakfast, checked out, and headed to the airport.
We were scheduled on one of those Southwest flights that's kind of like a bus because it makes so many stops (this one was Denver-Dallas-Austin), and it got delayed because of storms (that turned out to be deadly tornadoes) in the Denver area. Finally, they moved all the passengers that were going to Austin on to a flight that was going to El Paso-Austin, but that left a couple of hours later. No big whoop, really, other than the fact that we got back around 10pm rather than 7:45pm as originally planned.

The good news is that mom and I got along famously and that, although I certainly didn't win, I really didn't lose my ass gambling. I was also smart enough to plan on taking the next day--a Friday--off to recuperate, run errands, and generally catch my breath before the weekend.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I know I owe y'all a post about Las Vegas and Cher and whatnot, but I'm so flippin' hot and sweaty due to this damn humidity, I can barely think. So, in the meantime, please feast your eyes upon our sweet dawg, Shiloh, beating the heat by slurping up a frozen treat made just for dogs called "Frosty Paws."

video

Awww...yeah.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Believe

I'll be absent for a few days while I do Vegas with mom in tow. But I'm sure I'll have LOTS to share when I return. In the meantime...

Enjoy:

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bullet-Point-A-Go-Go

  • Sorry I haven't posted since Wednesday.
  • Pretty typical goings on around here, really.
  • Except for the crazy storm on Wednesday night.
  • But other people have posted about that.
  • All in all, things are looking green and vibrant, which is nice because--at least thus far--we've gotten plenty of rain.
  • BH and I have been on a planting/yard-improvement kick.
  • Not only have we planted two different kinds of peppers, tomatoes, garlic, rosemary and orange-mint, we've also planted plumbago, hisbiscus, and created an entirely new flower bed in the front yard that we're planting with native decorative grasses and drought-resistant native flowering plants. Very exciting.
  • We've also been working HARD to rid our weed-infested front yard of clover and stickers without using chemical weed-killers. But it's a labor-intensive, tedious process. And I SWEAR I've personally pulled 7,000 weeds (which is half of what BH has pulled), and it looks like we've barely made a dent.
  • I got my third quarter bonus on Friday and I'm spending it on...GUTTERS!! For the back of the house!! How utterly domestic and boring!!
  • I'm also going to spend some of it gambling, getting spa treatments, and eating great food in Vegas, because I'm going there with Dah on Tuesday.
  • She hasn't been in 25 years, so I bought us 4th row tickets to see Cher at Ceasar's. It was her Mother's Day gift. Yes, I'm awesome.
  • I need this break from work because it's just nucking futs right now.
  • La Turista is going to help take care of the Geej while I'm gone, and The Geej is beside herself excited.
  • I got some new contacts this week and OMFG, y'all. They're a completely new type than I've ever been able to wear (because of the level of my damn blindness), and they let in like 500% more air, so my eyes don't get dried out all the time. It has made the biggest difference.
  • This is great timing too because my eyes always get so dried out when I'm in Las Vegas.
  • That, and I'm thirsty like a fiend all the time.
  • Damn desert.
  • I've been on a big salad making kick, since the weather has turned so warm. This past week or so I've made a spinach/gorgonzola/walnut/pear salad, a couscous salad, and a white bean salad that is one of my favorites. I love making The Big Salad and then eating on it for a couple of days.
  • Washed my car for the first time yesterday, then it got rained on. Of course.
  • Also stuck my first bumper sticker on to her: "Don't Mess With Texas." I can't stand litterers, as you know.
  • The Geej has grown 4 inches since this time last May. And her feet? Growing about a size a month.
  • Speaking of The Geej, here she is enjoying the weather--and the sprinklers--today:

video

  • She is a nut.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Analyze this:

Had a dream this morning that I was waiting to check out at a small mom-and-pop type corner store/market thing, and was falling asleep standing up...kept nodding off. So, it's finally my turn, and I talk to the cashier/owner about how tired I am, and shuffle off down the street.

The end.

Monday, May 12, 2008

It's a catchy little ditty, no?

Apparently, The Geej has got a "boo-teh," and she wrote a little song about it. Wanna hear it? Here it goes:

video

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Broken in.

We took the new car on her first road trip this weekend: up to the D/FW area and back. And can I just say that it's official: I love her. She got 30 mpg, was comfortable, handled well, was quiet, and in general, just rocked. I even figured out how to re-program the automatic door locking thingamajig so that the locks will undo when you turn off the car (it was my only pet peeve, and now it's taken care of)!

BH and I went up there (w/out The Geej...she was with Dah) so that we could attend a high school friend of our's mom's surprise 60th b-day party. It was out at this GORGEOUS piece of property just east of Dallas, and there were about 150 people there, a band, catered food (including, by far, the most heavenly fried shrimp I've ever eaten in my entire life), tons of balloons and decorations, and huge, blown up photos of the guest of honor from all through her life. You could tell that she'd had a helluva lot of fun in her life (thus far) and was well loved by her friends and family. I just kept thinking, "Damn, when I turn 60, I hope I'm this happy and I have this many friends to help me celebrate." It was pretty amazing.

Today we had breakfast at...wait for it...THE WAFFLE HOUSE in Mesquite. Just so you know, I had mine scattered, covered and smothered. We ate with the future brother and sister-in-law (who'd also been at the party the night before). First up, let me just say, I LOVE the BIL and SIL to be. They are fun as Hell, and have been happily married for 22 years. (They were Jr. High School sweethearts, and have been together ever since.) I pretty sure the reason they have such a happy marriage is because they really make each other laugh. You can tell how much they enjoy being around each other when you hang out with them. It's inspirational and completely sincere.

Today we took Hwy. 281 back to Austin so that we could pick up the Geej at Dah's house on the way home. I'd never been that way before, and once you got west/south of Cleburne, it was a GORGEOUS drive--hilly, and green, with TONS of wildflowers, especially Indian Blankets, straddling the road.

Do I have any photos to document this wonderful weekend? Why, no. I'm a dork and left my camera at home.

It was a good Mother's Day. When we got home, BH worked on our new flower bed, mowed the back yard and then (drumroll please) went to the grocery store to do the weekly shopping!! I swear, this was like a gift from the gods. I seem to spend every Sunday afternoon at the damn grocery store (Geej in tow, of course), and really, that's the LAST place I want to be since I work at a grocery store Monday thru Friday. So yeah. It was freakin' awesome.

Oh, and then we cooked out on the grill and had an awesome supper on this wonderful cool, spring evening.

Yes, life is good.

By the way: To all you mommies out there (you know who you are...most of you on on the blogroll there on the right) HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!! You all rock, hardcore.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Random Photo Monday

The view from the floor-to-ceiling windows in the "Signature Room" ladies' room on the top of the Hancock Building.




Other women who had the same idea as me, lined up to take pictures in the loo.



A mellow dog sleeping in a store-front window in Roscoe Village (Chicago). The sign reads, "All dogs appreciate the value of naps." There was another canine snoozing on a couch just inside the window area.


A cool, sort of freaky photo of Shiloh taken by The Geej.


Some lemon/basil veggie and shrimp kebabs we made on the grill this weekend. YUM.


A very self-satisfied little girl, her dirty babydoll, and a very patient dog.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Progress?

This photo was taken out of the window of the 6th floor of my office building in January, 2005.

This one was taken from the same location on Thursday.

Developers are absolutely ruining this city, and the local government is just letting it happen. It makes me terribly, terribly sad.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Will somebody PLEASE explain this to me?

Mankind has figured out how to do amazing and awesome things. Go to the moon. Perform open heart surgery and separate cojoined twins. Fly airplanes across vast distances.

But then we also insist on doing things like starting unfounded wars that may never end, deep frying Twinkies, creating baby beauty pageants and hanging faux nut sacks off of vehicles.

During my research, I have discovered there are two main culprits in the scrotal vehicle accessory market, trucknutz.com and yournutz.com. Clearly, they're both clever capitalist endeavors (as evidenced by the sassy use of the "z" instead of "s" in their company names/URLs). But they are, indeed, distinct entities. Trucknutz has a "Truck Nutz Girlz" section and a "Bad Assed Rides" section to their site, and they also sell "Biker Ballz." Intriguing. But Yournutz has a FAR larger selection of inventory, including this patriotic little number here--They're camo nutz with the poignant yellow ribbon that honors our brave service men and women risking their lives for American freedom...the same freedom that gives us the ability to purchase and display the very nutz that honor them.

And if nutz aren't your thing, they've also got Glad Hands (extra points for the Texas plates):

Beautifully designed light up LED pins with cheerful slogans:
And the undeniably unique "Messanutz" described on the site as "Slightly Irregular 2" plated Bronze keychain Nutz":
But don't you think it would be a far better world if trucknutz and yournutz would join testicular forces and merge into one nutz selling powerhouse?


I, for one, do.


God bless Amurikuh.