Las Vegas – Miss American 2013 – Day 2

After being out so late, I managed to sleep until 7:30 a.m., when I could see the sunlight coming in through the windows. Got up and showered and looked for somewhere cheap for breakfast – if there is one thing you should be able to do cheaply in Vegas, it is eat breakfast.

So I went to Ocean Prime, which promotes a $5.99 breakfast, there is also a $3.99 breakfast but I figured I would save that one until later in the week. I had the poached eggs instead of fried (healthier, huh?) with potatoes, truly excellent bacon, rye toast, and a much-needed Diet Coke.

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Miss SD’s mom saw on Facebook that I was eating breakfast and used that as motivation to get up and get going, so she came down and had coffee with me and we caught up on the events of the evening and what was going on today.

I also got the pictures I took last night uploaded to Facebook.
Then I popped in to watch talent rehearsal – they take the first half of that night’s group, and they run through each talent, after doing some initial setting with lights, mics, sound, etc. And then they have a little break and then run through them again. One very different talent in this group is an artistic roller skater, she was kind of marking through her routine the time that I saw it, so I was  excited to see it in full performance mode.

After talent rehearsal, I zipped back up to my room (how did it get to be 11:30 already?) and worked on my blog post about yesterday, edited photos, etc. At 12:30 I decided I better grab lunch quick, so i went to “Lobster Me” in the Miracle Mile Shops and had a lobstersicle. I am not sure if $14 is a good deal for a fried lobster tail on a stick, but it was good.

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Burned my lip again – burned it last night on the cioppino too. I do appreciate my food hot but apparently I need to let it cool down a bit. I thought about having a frozen margarita or pina colada from Fat Tuesday to cool it off but decided that 12:30 was a little early for that.

I was thinking I might be able to get in a buffet for dinner, so a lighter lunch was reasonable. Then I checked out the rest of the mall, mainly looking for a place that stays open late tonight so we could go have a drink after the pageant and visitation. The “PBR Bar” claims that they are open until 2:00 a.m., or “whenever people quit drinking.”

I still had a little time before rehearsal started, so I popped back up to the room (thinking it was a very good idea to stay at this hotel instead of shopping for a cheaper one) and paid my $14 for 24 hours of wireless, and got a draft of my blog for yesterday posted, didn’t quite have time to get everything together, but with about 10 more minutes of work it would be ready to go.

Back down to the theater for evening gown/swimsuit rehearsal. Miss SD looks stunning in her black gown.She really had 4 different evening gowns that would have worked, but the black one was my favorite.

Some notable gowns in this group – IL had a RED dress with a very large area of ruffling at the bottom that extended into a train. Very beautiful but you would have to be careful if you were the contestant walking behind her. Lots of black and white in this group, including KY in a very simple, sleek-lined black and white dress – white bodice, black skirt, neck band and cuffs. NE and ND both chose green dresses, a nice note of color. MT wore a powder blue one-sleeved gown. WV was also in red.

I forgot my cell phone in the room when I came down for rehearsal, and there was no wireless in the theatre, so that was slowing me down a little bit. Waiting for the contestants to change from evening gown to swim suit, I was thinking Nap? Buffet? Nap? Buffet? Hmmmmmmmmm.

There was enough time to TRY to nap and then go eat, so I tried, but was not successful. It was good to lay down at least and I did some reading. Decided to go to the Aria buffet for dinner – this was roughly “across the street” but nothing is ever that simple in Las Vegas. Fortunately some kind soul had put directions on the internet on how to get across the street, through the Crystals mall, and then WAY through the Aria resort. It is very beautiful, but man, the buffet is way in the back. At least I walked off some calories.

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I checked out the lay of the land at the buffet first and took lots of pictures – I started with the seafood, liked the big peel and eat shrimp the best, and then the regular crab legs rather than the king crab legs. The mussels were just fine – I like my mussels in sauce or broth, I should have grabbed some of the cioppino broth but I just thought of that now.

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Then they had an interesting assortment of shooters, etc. – like scallops in lychee, shrimp ceviche, Ensenada seafood shooter, oyster shooter in tomato sauce – they were all quite good. The shrimp ceviche just bordered on almost spicy enough for me to really like.

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Then I had some sushi rolls, which were not labeled, and were not particularly special or identifiable. Should have skipped those and went for cioppino.

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Then I had some from the Asian section, a little steamer with three kinds of dumplings. They were ok, could have used some dumpling dipping sauce. The clams were good, only about half of them had actual clams in them, but the ones that did were good.

Unfortunately at this point, I was already getting full, so I decided to fit in a few desserts before I got too full. I had the butterscotch shooter, the panna cotta (possibly sugar free) and the little tiramisu cup. I think the panna cotta may have even been sugar free, but it was the best of the three.

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Then I had some fresh mozz and a little mozz/heirloom tomato salad from the mozzarella bar, the mozz unfortunately had a little bit of crust from being sitting out, but it was tasty.

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Then I had a peanut butter chocolate cake pop, which was pretty amazing, the little mini whoopie pies didn’t have a lot of taste. At this point I was pretty full and I knew I should quit before I felt ill.

Then it was the loooong walk back to the hotel. Took advantage of the deep tub again and read my book and tried to relax.

Got dressed, wore my new black pants, sequined black shirt and black and white striped top that the girls at Torrid talked me into. I got compliments, so it must have been OK.

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Met my Miss SDOT co-producer and her BF at Cabo Wabo to have a Toasted Colada, which was good, but I don’t know if it was $12 good.

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And on with the show – I thought Miss SD looked amazing and had to be in the top 3 in swimsuit, but I am slightly biased. I was not surprised that Miss IL won swimsuit. I didn’t have Miss MD as one of my talents that I thought would win, but I liked her voice and thought she did a good job. I also really liked NY’s tap dance, ID’s piano, and GA’s ballet. Dena the MC was hysterical once again. By the end of the evening she had herself, Lee Meriweather, and the current Miss America all wearing $12 ‘pleather’ pants, and had given a pair to judge McKayla Maroney, who had insisted that she couldn’t do flips on the stage because she was wearing a dress. Also, quite probably the first time the phrase “tape worm” was used on the Miss America Stage.

After the visitation, which was even more hot and crowded than the night before, I just hit the hay – too tired to do anything else, but also apparently too tired to sleep…

I’m Back – Now, Live from Las Vegas

I am currently in Las Vegas, supporting Miss SD at the Miss America pageant. And eating. And blogging.

Well, Las Vegas is kicking my butt so far – my one word description of how I feel this morning is “puffy.” Got in last night a little after 1, and was probably asleep by 1:30 but then I was awake at 7:30, so I am hoping a nap is in store this afternoon.

I am pretty happy that the only thing I seem to have forgotten so far is the pair of tights that I generally wear with the skirt and top I wore together on Tuesday night.
I slept poorly Monday night into Tuesday, I had pageant on my mind and when I did sleep I had weird pageant dreams. So I was ready to get up and get on the road. I still had some packing to do, and rounded up a few additional things. I got done in time that I decided I had time to go to Jack and Grill for breakfast. I read my paper and had Huevos Rancheros – hash browns were not crispy enough, eggs and chile were good, but then I turned out to not be that hungry, but I did enjoy the home made tortillla and eggs. This would come back to haunt me when I was hungry on the plane.

Got to the airport and parked at Wally Park and got on the shuttle just fine. I had much more luggage than I usually have traveling for business – way more jewelry, support garments, and then at least two outfits a day. So I had one suitcase at 48 pounds and then a duffel bag full of shoes and etc, which was also heavy, so it was a relief to check those in. I thought I was still full from breakfast so I just grabbed a bottle of water for the plane.
From my observations at the airport: Travel would be much more enjoyable if all of my fellow travelers would 1) shower 2) not wear excessive smelly cologne or perfume and 3) appropriate underwear, please. That is all I am going to say about that.
The flight was fine, uneventful, and I had an empty seat next to me, which is practically unheard of in these days of full or overbooked flights. And then I started to get hungry, so I had to buy some Chex Mix. I don’t really get my money’s worth out of Chex Mix because I only like the Chex and the bagel chips, but oh well. And then it all got loose in my carryon bag, I have not even dealt with THAT yet.

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Landed in Vegas  – I had not rented a car in Vegas before, I was not aware you had to ride a bus for 15 minutes to get to the “on-airport” car rental facility. Got my car from EZ-car rental, I don’t know how much I will use the car this week but for $128, that covers a couple of taxi rides, and I have to pick up Ken at the airport on Friday, so hopefully it is worth it. The rental car place is just minutes from the hotel- the confusing part was finding the valet parking, which was kind of off on a side street.
I had read online that the hotels were now not letting you check in until 4:00 unless you pay like $20 extra – so I ditched my luggage with the bell captain, and headed in to see what rehearsal was going on at the theatre.  The contestants were about to run through the opening number, so I got to see our Miss SD! She looked great. Found our pageant producer and watched the rehearsal with him and he gave me a rundown on the talent rehearsal he had seen that morning.
When it was 4:00, I checked in – I had also read online that it can be to your benefit to tip the front desk person who checks you in, because they are so rarely tipped, sometimes it can get you a good room upgrade. I think this was extremely correct in this instance – I think if the hotel wasn’t so booked up I would have had a mini suite, but since the pageant is here the hotel is pretty full. But for $20 and the simple fact of being nice and pleasant to the young man who checked me in, I got a room that is bigger, has a south strip view, and would normally cost $50 more a night. So that was well worth it. My luggage was up there shortly after I requested it, and I changed into LESS LAYERS and questioned my wisdom of bringing more sweaters than I originally packed.

Nice South Strip View: planet hollywood south strip view

The room was great – especially the bathroom, which is about the size of our bedroom at home. It has both a lovely glass walk-in shower AND a huge soaking tub. Now, we could probably fit a tub like that in our house, because it is deep rather than long, but it would be very bad for our water bill. Two full counter with sinks, lots of space.

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Now by this point I was starving. Looked quickly on my phone for restaurants in the Miracle Mile mall adjacent to the, and decided that cioppino sounded good. It WAS good – kind of expensive at $31 but I don’t get to eat cioppino very often, so I seized the day. Made sure to concentrate on the good stuff first (the good stuff in my opinon) – mussels, clams, calamari and shrimp, and broth! Ordered it with bread instead of pasta, because the bread comes on top, the pasta sits there and soaks up all the good broth, and then you don’t get the broth. So that was actually a pretty quick meal and I had time to run up to the room and take a quick bath to rejuvenate a bit before pageant.

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Put on my outfit, discovered the lack of tights, oh well, have to wear my boot with no socks, will let them air out THOROUGHLY before the next wearing.

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Several of us from the pageant met up down around the bar in front of the Planet Hollywood theater. It is always great to see everyone again. Found out as we were headed in that we weren’t allowed to use cameras in the theater (THAT is new, I believe) so I zipped up to my room to drop mine off. Sorry, Miss SD fans, only pics from the visitation afterward, hopefully the Miss A organization will post some from last night’s competition soon.
As the pageant has evolved over the years, the format has gotten shorter. They used to have production numbers and the whole shebang, and televise for 3 full hours. Well, tastes have changed, and American Idol happened, and so the talent portion has been cut to 90 seconds for each girl – when I competed, it was 2 minutes and 45 seconds. So that is quite a change. It is somewhat to the advantage of dancers, who can “leave it all on the table” in 90 seconds, and be really energetic, and to the disadvantage of vocalists and instrumentalists, who don’t have as much time to develop/grow a piece and show variation.
Miss New Jersey, Dena Blizzard (One Funny Mother) MC’d the preliminary competition, and she is outstanding. Very fine comedienne, good improv. She noted that there were some available seats in the front and she would be monitoring twitter, with her twitter handle “onefunnymother” and letting people whose tweets she liked move up to the front. Well, a good way to NOT get moved to the front is to tell her that she needs a spray tan and you could set  her up. A good way TO get moved to the front is to tweet that you think she is a HOT cougar but you need to move closer to see.
Half of the talent competition was the first event of the evening, then swimsuit, then  on-stage question, then the other half of talent, and then evening gown. In the first half of talent, I particularly enjoyed Miss Indiana’s baton routine, and Oklahoma’s tap dance. She had some really incredible spins.
Then swimsuit – I had South Carolina and TX circled as my two two swimsuits, but all of these girls looked fabulous.
Talents I particularly enjoyed in the 2nd half – Arizona with lyrical dance to Man in the Mirror, Florida’s ballet, Utah’s Chopin piano piece, and Alabama’s aria from La Traviata.
Evening gown – lots of white gowns tonight. Some bold moves – I liked Oregon’s dress that was like a mini skirt with a chiffon overlay with a slit – hard to describe but striking. NY had  lovely, almost Grecian and very simple gown with a one-shoulder short off-the-shoulder sleeve that was stunning.
The preliminary winners announced at the end of the night (they only announce swim suit and talent) were Miss South Carolina in swimsuit and Miss Oklahoma in Talent.
Then we adjourned upstairs to the visitation, where you gather your state in a group and get to visit with your girl about a half an hour before the contestants are called back to rest for the night. It was great seeing Calista and she is having a great time. She has found a group of contestants she really enjoys spending time with, and they eat their meals together and have crazy conversations. We had 17 people there last night for the picture, with a few more folks who went home right after the show because they had been up traveling all day, so we had a great crowd!

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Meredith, Miss SD Outstanding teen, and Calista. Look at those arms on that girl, she is in SHAPE.

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After the visitation, we all decided we wanted drinks and something to eat – well, this is Vegas, we should be able to find that, right? Well, I wanted to go to Cabo Wabo and have a toasted coconut pina colada, and they were closed – this is kind of their off season, since they have an outdoor patio, so they shut down about 11:00. We wandered around, sent out explorers, and texted and called each other, and finally ended up at Planet Dailies in the hotel, where we could have  a beer or some wine, and sandwiches or salads – my turkey club was not my idea of “exciting dining in Vegas” but it sure hit the spot at that point. Tonight I will try to do some research and see where we could go – but since it is only Wednesday, again, places may not be open that late. I will do some investigating and see. Some places in the casino are a little smoky, so I am trying to avoid that – it is something that you are just not accustomed to, with smoking indoors being banned in so many places now.
Notable fashion trends – since Miss USA won Miss Universe with a big bun on the top of her head, I am seeing a lot of that type of hairstyle. Also sighted last night, a skirt screen printed with Elvis. The King is not dead. He is on your torso. I do not recommend.
Oh, something else that I wish I would have remembered – a bigger bag that would fit my netbook better – I could buy a bag here but I have so many…actually it does fit in my purse pretty well, surprising. But I am dragging the netbook around to rehearsals, etc. It works very well – except for the lack of free wireless in the hotel. Trying to time things the best so that I get the most out of paying $14 for 24 hours of wireless in my room – so I am trying to get my blog post all set and the pictures all edited before I upload.
Thinking of my DH Ken and wishing he was here with me, he has grown into quite a pageant aficionado over the years and has judged several pageants, so he always has an opinion on things.

Thanksgiving Vacation to SD

What did I do on my Thanksgiving vacation?
I spent more time than planned in Wheatland, WY.
I made cream cheese mints.
I watched a football game.
We headed for South Dakota on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Ken had some video he needed to edit, so I drove.

I have a new car mascot. He was very happy to go along for the ride. He does not have a name yet, suggestions welcome.

20121121_100050We originally were going to stop in Hot Springs and use our friends’ wireless to upload, but Ken was done with the editing pretty early. So we stopped at the Platte County visitor’s center in Wheatland and used their free wireless, which we had located by driving around town a bit. Unfortunately it was not really enough bandwidth for what we needed. The first, short video uploaded just fine in about 20 minutes, but the next one was going to take about 3 hours. I hadn’t really budgeted THAT in my travel time. Ken walked over to Arby’s and got us lunch, and there was still like an hour to go. So I had the great brainstorm of going to the Wheatland library and using their computers. So we tried that. Unfortunately, their computers were EVEN SLOWER, even though they were hardwired. So we gave up and headed to SD, deciding that he could upload the video at my Aunt’s house when we were there for Thanksgiving lunch.
After Ken switched over to driving, I discovered that I DID NOT have the additional yarn I thought I packed for the baby blanket for the 1st new nephew who will be arriving on December 11. I am sure you could hear my anguished shriek all over Wyoming. But I did, fortunately, have yarn for other projects along, and so I worked on those.  The afghan is this one, in a different color, with a different border.

This is the pattern I then worked on, using up some sock yarn to make baby booties. They still look a little big for newborns, so I either need to try with smaller needles or reduce my stitches.

We got to the ranch abou 7:30, after we stopped to pick up pizza at Lintz Brothers Pizza in Hermosa.  I really wanted the Texas Tornado (hot sauce, red sauce, chicken, onion, green peppers, pineapple and cashews), but I couldn’t remember what it was called, so between what I remembered and what my Mom wrote down when we were on the phone, I had a pizza with barbecue sauce, chicken, and jalapenos. Which was still good. Ken had his usual pepperoni, and Mom and Dad and my uncle shared a Hawiian.
I think that was the only night I got any knitting done. The rest of the time was too filled up with everything else.

The weather was fine on the drive, other than the usual wind in Wyoming.

More on the rest on Monday, hopefully back to a regular blogging schedule.

Quilting, Knitting, Crabs and Owls

Look at this marvelous octopus my friend K. crocheted for me! I love him! I put him on the TV stand, right in front of the cable box, so he had to get moved a little bit. I think he makes a lovely centerpiece.

When I saw my friend E. had a pink solar crab, I immediately had to have one. I am pretty sure this is the website I ordered from. It had to come all the way from China. I did order three, so I gave two away to my nieces as birthday gifts. Everyone needs a happy, solar waving crab. His arms wave and his eye stalks go up and down.

So when I saw the happy head-turning owl, I had to have him too. I found him at Zandbroz in Sioux Falls.

His head turns when it is light. But only sporadically in the room light. I am trying to decide which of these to affix to my dashboard. Both seems like it might be a little too much.

Besides my other projects, I am allowing myself to be randomly distracted by making pink and white quilt blocks. For what? I have no idea. But now I have purchased more pink fabric. Kind of defeats the purpose of being scrappy.

This is the new fabric, from The Quilt Store. Luscious, isn’t it?

The top for my one niece’s pieced baby quilt is done! Look at that fancy border! Look at all of those little pieces! Looks nifty, but NEVER AGAIN! She is getting a one-of-a-kind.

I made this quilt entirely from a pattern in a book, which is kind of unusual for me. Usually I wing it in one way or another, adding or subtracting.

This is my mom’s sock - all repaired. After I re-knit the heel incorrectly about 3 times. Apparently I need to knit more socks so I know what I am doing. It had a giant hole in the heel, so I ripped out the whole heel and leg (just a shorty, so no big deal) and re-knit. It would have been done in a jiffy if I hadn’t tried to knit a top-down heel on it instead of a toe-up heel. No wonder it wouldn’t work. Then I knit a couple of different toe-up heels, trying to figure out the correct one. OF COURSE it wasn’t one from the book that the pattern was from. That would be WAAAAAY to obvious.

You can’t even really tell in the picture where the old yarn starts and the new begins. You can tell in person, but it will be less noticeable after a few washes.

I am going to make some more denim potholders, for my Mom this time. She likes owls and mushrooms. It is quite a quest right now to find realistic looking owls and mushrooms, there are a lot of cutesy, cartoony ones, which is not what I wanted. I think this will work.

And that is a brief summary of SOME of the projects I am working on right now. Some of them are presents, so they are SECRET. Tune in later to see them. Maybe after Christmas.

Happy Thanksgiving, I will be back on Tuesday if not sooner!

More Restaurant Round-up

It is a good thing I take food pictures on my phone so often, because then I have something to write about when I have no ideas. Of course, my niece would rather see me write about something exciting, like, um….I don’t know. Cats? Our exciting and adventurous life? Sorry, being an adult is actually long periods of the mundane, sometimes punctuated by the exciting. Quite often the exciting is something you DON’T want to happen.

Last week was a good week, socially and in a friend-seeing manner. Went out with my friend E. for ramen on Weds night, that was good. She says it is not the best ramen she has had locally, but it was far more interesting that most of the ramen I have had, so that was good. This was at Hana Japanese Bistro, in Louisville.

It was good. This is the pork ramen. The Hawaiian Sushi roll, with avocado, eel, and macadamia nuts, was also pretty awesome.

I was having a craving Thursday night, so in the midst of cleaning the house for company, I made Chocolate Chip Muffins. They are lovely. However, this makes too many for two people to eat. Should have sent a bunch to work with Ken.

Saturday there was a watch party at a bar in downtown Denver to watch the SDSU/USD rivalry football game. The two teams used to play every year when we were in school and they were both Division II. Now they are both Division I, but this is the first time they have played each other. So both USD and SDSU (South Dakota State University, NOT San Diego) fans were invited.

We got there a little late, but that didn’t really matter, because they hadn’t been able to get the satellite feed set up at Tavern Downtown. So we missed the first quarter, which was when SDSU did most of their scoring, but oh well. Even if we had been there, we wouldn’t have seen it. And it was a pretty lo-res feed and there was no sound, but it was still fun.

And of course we had food. And I had a mixed drink, that was kind of spendy, and not too strong. So then I had a $3 Bud Light in a plastic cup. “Tastes like college.” I did not finish it.
I had to try the pretzel rolls, since I try everything that is a pretzel, especially if it comes with cheese dip.

They were meh. Too much roll and not enough pretzel. The cheese sauce was not very tasty. The mustard, on the other hand, was EXTREMELY spicy. Lots of horseradish, I think. I can’t imagine a normal person like this. On the other hand, I thought it was quite delicious.

Ken said the sliders were fine, not very exciting. He could barely taste the onions and cheese.

The buffalo chicken egg rolls were the best thing, but I don’t know if they were almost-$9-good.

And here we are, all dolled up for the game in our SDSU garb!

Visit to Houston

I had too much time to get ready for this trip. The flight didn’t leave until 1:00 p.m. or so, so I had too much time to pack, which means I didn’t really pay sufficient attention to my packing list and/or what I was actually packing. So when I got to the airport, I realized I didn’t have any books along to read. AAAAAAAA! Must have books. Well, that is easily remedied, they sell books at the airport. OK. Problem solved. I ended up kind of being disappointed in the book I got, but it served to keep me entertained.

Had lunch at the airport at Tamales by La Casita’s, which is relatively new. It is a nice change from the usual spots. I had the tortilla soup, big surprise that I had soup, huh? I wasn’t that hungry after the large breakfast (see last Friday’s entry about LePeep.)

Also, when the bill shows up on your work credit card, it is posted as being in Greenwood Village, which makes the office manager wonder what you are doing there and why you are expensing this meal.

As I settled in on the plane, I thought, “OK, I am going to read my book, and then after the plane levels out I will get out my knitting.” And then I reach into my bag and NO KNITTING. My three different projects are sitting at home on the couch with my BOOKS. Oh, the pain, oh the mental anguish. So I had to just read my new book. And I knew I would need to buy another one before I flew home, because I read really fast and one book wasn’t going to last the entire trip.

We stayed at the J.W. Marriott near the Galleria Mall in Houston. I didn’t even get to shop at the mall, we just walked through it to get to a restaurant once or twice.

It was a nice hotel. I asked for a quiet room, and was put on the top floor, which was actually NOT quiet, because I think the elevator mechanism was right about me. I heard the elevator motors ALL NIGHT LONG. So avoid the top floor if you ever stay there.

The room was perfectly nice, good chocolates on the pillow (they had some herb or seasoning in them which I now cannot remember.)

Do we really need phones in the bathroom? Then again, it is probably more expensive to take the phones down and patch the wall tile than it is to leave the phones there. I did not check to see if the phone worked.

I turned my board loose on their own that night and went out to eat with my best friend from high school, Brian, who works in Houston. Until this summer at our class reunion, I had not seen him for 25 years. So it was extra fun to get to see him again this year. We ate at Pappasito’s Cantina. The parking lot was jam-packed so I was a little concerned about how long we would have to wait, but we were seated immediately. This is apparently a great place for getting together, having your birthday, etc. It was very busy for a Wednesday night.

I had the tortilla soup. Big surprise. It had zucchini in it, which was new and unusual.

And I had the ceviche. I know the soup and the ceviche would fill me up sufficiently, and it did. I am pretty sure I also had some large alcoholic beverage.

They also had EXCELLENT chips and dip, including both salsa and a creamy dip (tomatillo maybe?) that you can see in the background here. Apparently there is a Pappasito’s Cantina in Denver, (well, Greenwood Village), we are going to have to eat there sometime when we are down south.

The next day we had a hotel-catered lunch which was really very good. The mixed greens salad had beets, which I love. The pork loin was well cooked and tender. I did not take any pictures.

That evening we went out to eat at Sullivan’s Steakhouse with another state board. Again, I knew if I enjoyed the appetizers that were ordered for the group (Calamari, Cheesesteak egg rolls, and a couple of other things that they made special for us that I don’t have pictures or recollection of) and wine, I would never be able to finish an entire entree. So I had the raw oysters, mmmmm, I try to take advantage of being closer to the ocean.

They were good, but ever since I had raw cherrystone clams in Boston, oysters just haven’t been the same.

The french onion soup was fine, I recall thinking it could have been warmer. We had a nice bottle of wine, too, no idea what kind it was, tho.

The next day three of us went to Kona Grill and had sushi rolls. It was excellent, fun to have three people so we could order a variety of rolls. No pictures, though, sorry.

That evening we ate at the Oceanaire Seafood Room. I really wanted stone crab claws, but they were just a little spendy. You could only get them by the pound, not any less than that. So I had the “Fin and Shell” seafood stew. This was very good – mussels, crab legs, shrimp, fish, and more. They give you a bib, which was a very good idea in my case. It was quite messy, cracking the crab legs. Sorry for the terrible picture, it was dark in there.

Everyone was very happy with their meals there. One of the sides was got was the best macaroni and cheese I have ever had: MAC & CHEESE Applewood Smoked Bacon, Smoked Gouda & Jalapeno. It was amazing. Not sure I would be able to duplicate it, and not sure Ken would eat the Jalapeno anyway. Yum!

For our last meal (lunch) in Houston, we walked down the street to the Grand Lux Cafe. This restaurant is owned by the same people who own Cheesecake Factory. I had soup and salad – the soup was tomato and white bean, and the salad was the Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese salad. I love beets, and I love them best when someone else prepares them for me. Mmmmm. They were both very good.

We got to go home on Saturday night, so that was kind of nice! Half of the weekend at home!

Friday! And food and crafting stuff

I am continuing to clean up by writing about the photos hanging around on my phone and hard drive – hmmm, lots of them are of food, go figure.

You might think these look like wonderful delightful fried dumplings, but you would be wrong. They were some of the worst dumplings I have ever had. Sad day. I will be avoiding China Wok on Harmony in Fort Collins in the future.

 

Same thing for the “Special” wonton soup, unfortunately.

I make a crocheted baby afghan, a pieced quilt, and an embroidered quilt for each of my nieces and nephews when they are born (or, hopefully, shortly thereafter, although there is a five-year old who will be getting her embroidered quilt for Christmas this year….). I also offer repair service on these items if they are repairable. This is the latest from my nephew C., age 7.

This was pretty easy to fix.

This one, I am not sure about. It is actually HALF of an afghan I made him (he got two, because he was allergic to one of the yarns in the first one, but he is over that now)  – this aghan kept growing each time it got washed, so I cut it in half and finished the edges so he could have two. This one half is having a problem. I am working on unraveling the tangle right now. Considering I don’t even remember which pattern I used to make this one, I may not be able to have it repaired by  Christmas.

This is the new pumpkin pie bagel from Panera. Apparently this is a seasonal thing.

Their website describes it as: Pumpkin Pie Bagel NEW! Freshly baked bagel featuring pumpkin and spice with a crumb topping and cinnamon sugar mixture, sprinkled with powdered sugar

I thought I might like it because I love the Cinnamon Crunch bagel (which is the highest in calories of all of their bagels, oy vey). Also – what is the point of Cheesecake flavored cream cheese? I tried it because it was also new, but HUH??? It has some brown bits in it that are supposed to be cinnamony-graham cracker crust flavor, I believe. I will stick with my honey walnut from now on. It was not bad, but not better than the Cinnamon Crunch.

It took me forever to remember where I ate the food in this next photo. It is a good thing that my phone puts a date automatically in the photo properties.

This is a crab omelet (or maybe lobster?) with brie cheese and avocado at the Le Peep near my house. I should learn my lesson, I like over-easy eggs or breakfast. But every now and then I get a wild hair and try something else. This was fine, better with the Hollandaise sauce for dipping. The toast was really QUITE well-done enough for me, I really prefer undercooked toast, I might have to start specifying that.

This was the morning I was to leave for a trip to Houston, and the fact that I had TIME to go out for breakfast bodes well for where my head was when I was packing, but that is another entry……

More MEH recipes

I was on a tear trying out new recipes this weekend. The chicken enchiladas were Friday night (they were a keeper, the ONLY one of the weekend), then Saturday lunch was not a new recipe, it was stuffed shells I made two pans of in August and froze for later. Saturday night was uh, some kind of meat (it is just SO wrong that I can’t remember what we ate on Saturday night, must not have been spectacular) and a new recipe for potatoes I wanted to try.

This was good, but I am not sure it was good enough for the effort. That was a lot of work, several dirty dishes,  and they were not that amazing. Not as good as my go-to fattening potato recipe, that is for sure (which I will have to post later because I can’t find it right now…).

Saturday I went to Showers of Flowers, a large local yarn store, on a quest to find some yarn that I THOUGHT I bought enough of when I started the project, but apparently had not, after tearing my studio apart to find the proverbial missing skein. From my internet search, it appeared that this color was now discontinued. However, Showers of Flowers still had 3 skeins, so I bought two. And then I did a little happy dance around the store.  So now I have enough yarn to finish my shawl/shrugigan (which they call the Nancy shrugigan but I call the Christi shrug because my friend Christi made one first) (and it says one skein in the pattern but I used a different yarn because I LIKE TO MAKE MY LIFE DIFFICULT) but I am working on a million other Christmas  and niece/nephew projects.  Plus, I was so inspired by finding the yarn I needed that I bought more yarn, for a different project. Plus a few skeins that were on sale that I am sure I will have a use for.

I also went to the Trollheim Lodge Sons of Norway Christmas craft sale. I bought some new refrigerator towels. These are always good to have. And my old ones are getting very, very stained. I guess I need to do like my mom does and SOAK them in something good (not pure bleach, I guess) to see if it helps. But now I have two new, cheery ones. I have a hard time letting go of some of the old ones because my Grandma made some of them, so I am attached to them.

I THOUGHT I was done with the Octopus Juggling quilted wall hanging, but I did not do the hanger right. I guess there is a reason they make the hanging sleeves on quilts so wide – if you make it narrow, it makes the top of the quilt stick out oddly from the wall. So I am going to have to tear that off and do something different. This not helping with my goal of “finish one quilt a month.”

See it bulging?

There, see it NOW?

Sunday lunch was not something I am going to cook again, so we will just move on from that. Sunday dinner was Honey Butter Pork Tenderloin.   This made the house smell like I was making bread or cookies. The sauce wasn’t too strong on the pork loin, but it didn’t really do much for us either. It was just OK. I think I will stick with my old standard,  which I have only done on the grill. Maybe I will try it in the oven this winter. I think the secret to a good pork tenderloin is standing by with the meat thermometer and pulling that bad boy off the heat when it reaches 145°.

We also had Cheesy Corn, from a recipe I found in one of my Mom’s Reminisce magazines. I don’t know what I was expecting, but this was not as fabulous as I had hoped. It was corn. With cheese. I would rather use my cheese on something else exciting. Ken even turned down the leftovers, so he really didn’t care for it.

Here is the whole plate, including mashed potatoes that were kind of an experiment too, as I had made a while bunch a few weeks ago and froze them. They were OK, needed some extra sour cream to perk them up. No complaints from Ken at least.

Not a stellar job of plating, Iron Chef judges would deduct for presentation.

MaryAnne says she is deducting points because we should have just given HER the cheese instead of putting it on that corn.

More Random and a Trip Home to Sioux Falls

Once upon a time, when it was still warm and the grass was green and not covered with snow, we had two large mushrooms in our yard. I wonder how many of the neighbors wondered just what I was up to, laying on the grass, taking pictures of mushrooms.

The mushrooms survived until a marauding pack of squirrels shredded them and scattered them in little bits all over the yard. It was a mushroom massacre.

Miss South Dakota came to our house to visit (and to go to her friend’s wedding) and we shopped like crazy women for 3 days, looking for things for her wardrobe for the Miss America pageant. We were worn out. Shopping like that is not nearly as fun as just shopping for entertainment. We had a MISSION. By the third day we were making sure to wear comfortable shoes!

And we fit everything in her ONE pretty small suitcase. Cute pink blazer from H & M, lots of good stuff from Macy’s, lots of shoes from Nordstrom Rack, we had hoot at Charming Charlies. Love the leopard shoes!

I did get some sewing done for my Mom’s community club bazaar. I have been able to attend and help a bit with the bazaar the last several years, but this year a friend of mine was getting married the same weekend, so we were in Sioux Falls. I made my traditional three southern belle Barbie dresses, complete with hats and petticoats, wrist warmers and a baby hat from Fancy Image Yarn, and denim pot holders that I found the pattern for on http://nebraskaviews.blogspot.com/2011/07/denim-pot-holder-tutorial.html. I am making some more of the wrist warmers for Christmas presents. I will be making more of the pot holders too, they turned out well. I am not sure why this is such a terrible picture, or why I didn’t take more, I think I was extremely pressed for time to get these in the mail and to my Mom on time.


Here is a picture from the wedding, featuring two very cool people getting married and a delicious and amazing cake. AND cream cheese mints. Cream cheese mints are very important at midwest weddings. I had a dear family friend make them for our wedding (ahem) years ago. I made them for my grandmother’s 90th birthday party. Planning on making some for Mom and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary next year.

I got to see a niece and nephew. They were having fun jumping in the leaf pile.


We also took some pictures of us as a couple before the wedding. Of course, the one that turned out is the only low-res one. Probably will be unsuitable for printing up copies, darn it. This is seriously, the only one where I don’t look totally nutso.

I don’t know quite how that happened but I am blaming Instagram.

The visit to Sioux Falls was a good time. Got to see a bunch of people I hadn’t seen in a while. Had dinner with a college friend that I don’t get to see often enough. Went up to Brookings and saw my good friend/pageant producer and scanned in a bunch of Miss SD historical pictures, which I haven’t had time to edit yet. Had lunch with him, Miss SD, and Miss SD’s mom. Drove around the SDSU campus and were the typical alumni: “Wow, it has sure changed since we were here!”

New TV and Couch! Out with the Old!

I haven’t posted about the great living room “remodel” yet. Ken has been itching for a flat screen TV for years, and I have been putting him off, because the 19-year old TV we bought before we got married still worked just fine. Granted, it weighed a ton and only got about 60 channels, so we had to run the cable through a VCR so we could get the rest of the channels, but hey, it worked. In my family we don’t believe in getting rid of things if they still work. Or even if they don’t work, you might want to save that for parts for a while. This policy has worked out pretty well for my Dad and his machinery.

I think when Mom and I cleaned out the garage attic (how many years ago now?) we tossed about 6 ancient vacuum cleaners. Vacuum cleaners are not a “keeper.”

Anyway, Ken was director of photography for a local film and got paid for it, so we discussed that maybe a good use for that money would be a new couch for the downstairs living room and a flatscreen TV. He started watching the newspaper for sales.

We were out for breakfast one Saturday morning in September, after we had dropped his car off to be worked on, and he was lamenting that there were no sale ads in the Saturday paper, so I handed him the ad that popped up right in front of me. And there was a TV, on sale, that was just what he wanted. He did some research on the internet to make sure it was an acceptable brand and model and went off with my car to buy it. Well, even with my hatchback, it couldn’t fit in the back of Mimi the Matrix, because it is a plasma TV and can’t be laid flat for transportation, it has to be kept upright. So we got set to have that delivered the next day.

I said that as long as we were doing that, we might as well go ahead and get the new couch then. We only had a love seat in the downstairs living room, as you have to go down stairs to get down there, and a big couch did not fit around the corner of the stairs into the hallway.  So we were limited on our options there. But the loveseat and chair really only gave us space for three people to sit. Then IKEA arrived and saved the day! All of their furniture comes in pieces, so I knew that was idea for our situation. We could get a larger sectional couch, and still get it down the stairs.
So off we went to IKEA and purchased the couch, by buying it on a Saturday, you get to specify that it is delivered on a Sunday, and that means you can choose your delivery time by the hour, rather than just knowing it will get there between 8 and 5 o’clock.
The couch arrived on schedule, the TV arrived on schedule, Ken called our handy teenage neighbor and asked him to help haul the old couch outside, and we were ready to go!

We also had a sewer issue that Sunday morning and THAT repair person did not arrive on time, but that is another story.

The old, huge entertainment center has been moved to a different wall, and a space cleared for the new couch. MaryAnne has to be in the middle of everything, as usual.

Just a few homeless books, waiting to be relocated.

The old loveseat was put outside with a “free” sign on it and was soon gone.

The couch arrived in three rather large boxes. It doesn’t help that I was working on some sewing project that required the back up sewing machine be set up in the upstairs living room at the same time.

Ken was downstairs assembling the couch while I was upstairs stuffing the couch cushions into the slip covers. Not as easy as you might think. There were several different variations, and you had to match them up by shape. This is not something I am very good at.

We were trying to get this all put together so we could go meet our friends from Hot Springs, we often go out for lunch together before they go to the Broncos game. Well, we could have left the couch and TV as they were, except that we were waiting for the drain-rooter man. So we kept on working.

By the time the Broncos game was on that night, it was ready for action. Both of the cats had discovered they could hide UNDER this couch, which made it quite popular. Leo, especially, is always looking for more hiding places.

MaryAnne and her glowing eyes.

More or less cleaned up:

Yeah, I probably need to get something put up on those walls…..

So now we need to get rid of the old entertainment center, which is huge. Ken thinks the smaller bookcases are fine. I think we should get rid of the whole shooting match and get more modern shelves, again, perhaps IKEA. I may take the old taller units for storage space in my studio. But those decisions are many months and many saved dollars down the road….