Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ode to Our Current Weather

Rainy snow, rainy snow ~
Oh, how we'd love to see you go,
Sooner rather than later.

Struggling to get up Ski Hill
Then riding my brakes to avoid a sliding spill
Make my heart race faster than my car's accelerator.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

So, NOT my bag, baby!

The good or the bad first????
The Bad: Like a bottle of wine, I smelled the chips upon first opening the bag, which wasn't appealing. Initial taste was pretty good, sweet & salty...aftertaste = awesomely horrendous!!! I tried 2, maybe 3, chips to be sure, then I had to thank Chris for buying them for me and apologize that there was absolutely no way I would consume anymore. EPIC fail for this new flavor!! You have been warned.
The Good: I won't be gorging on Jay's Chicken & Waffles chips.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

When Life Gives You Snow

Well, the weather forecast called for mixed precipitation all day, which would turn into all snow, blanketing us with anywhere from 3 to 6 inches of the fluffy white stuff.  So, I decided that today would definitely be another "lunch at my desk-don't leave the office until you have to" day. 

Usually, this entails reading my current library book.  But, today, I figured I would go CRAZY and ... also paint my nails!  Most of you don't know this, but I tend to only paint my toenails b/c my fingernails just chip too quickly and/or I mess them up almost immediately!  My toenails, however, they stay great for weeks (seriously, sometimes I am too lazy to remove the polish!). 

I am now sporting my new Wet n Wild Disturbia.

Side note: at present my toenails are polish-less, so I am the complete reverse of what I said above.  Hmmmm...don't think the irony of the nail color name is lost on me at the moment!

Monday, February 25, 2013

February musings

Clearly, I am on track to write one post at the end of each month!  UGH!  Recapping requires so much thinking and referring to my (many) calendars, in the hope that I don't forget anything! 

Let's see...February, the month of LOVE, also happens to be the birth month of my honey!  Chris turned 43 on Valentine's Day.  But, that is the middle of the month and I have a few things before that big day!!!

Unfortunately, we lost a couple friends this month, both somewhat tragically.  Our friend, Pat, who we know from IGT (along with his wife, Wendy) committed suicide.  We don't know the "why", but we do know he left behind Wendy and 2 teenage sons, one who is autistic.  I can't wrap my brain around how a person feels there isn't one other option available.  We also lost a high school classmate of Chris's, Tina Danilaitis, with whom I became friends over Facebook.  Tina, 41, had suffered from a medical issue wherein her body wouldn't properly absorb nutrients.  It seemed that after 10 years of treatments, in & out of the hospital, her body just couldn't go on.  Sadly, she would have loved to live a longer life, alongside her daughter, with whom she shares her birthday.  Attending the memorial was akin to a bizarre high school reunion.  It was pretty wonderful, tho, to see how many former CPHS-ers' lives Tina touched.  I hope she was there taking it all in, with her mega-watt smile beaming down on us.

February is also the month for Mardi Gras, aka Fat Tuesday!  I enjoyed 2 Fresh Strawberry packzis from Beck's Crown Bakery this year!  Oh.So.Good!!!  I also wore a cute headband with the traditional green/purple/gold colors in the shape of a crown, or maybe it was a jester's hat!  This year, Chris decided to try his hand at making jambalaya and let me tell you it was, handsdown, one of the best I have tasted!  This, for sure, will be his signature dish in our house!  We complemented it with biscuits I got at Popeye's on my way home from the gym.  We spent our evening indulging in cajun fare while watching episodes of Treme.

We celebrated Chris's birthday a day early, in order to avoid the rush of Valentine diners.  I won't belabor the issue, but our dinner at Martini's wasn't up to par and we don't care to return.  I gave Chris WEN hair care products before his actual birthday and then actually surprised him with Tim Burton's book on his day.  (He said he didn't even know Burton had a book out!  Win for me!!!!)

Chris has rejoined LA Boxing...a HUGE surprise to me when he came strolling in one day while I was in class!!  He still has some yoga classes to finish, too (seriously, how does HE get to have TWO places for fitness when I only get one?!?) and one last massage from the Groupon I bought him.  (Think we might both do a little spa day soon as I have some gift cards I plan to use for a facial and chemical peel.)

We had a great time yesterday with our friends, Dave & Sandra.  It was sort of a belated celebration for Chris and an early one for Sandra.  We met up for bowling, which none of us has done in YEARS!  We bowled 3 games and it wasn't until our last one that we even hit the 100 mark!  HA!!  Dave got 101 and I got 100...he took that game, but I won the other two!  WooHoo!!!  Following bowling, we went to have dinner at one of their favorite restaurants, a Thai place, called Asparagus.  I was pleasantly surprised at how fancy the decor is inside; the outside of the place is so plain, it's very deceiving.  And the food was so good!  I got the Drunken noodles with chicken and, altho I might have been able to set my fork down to have leftovers, I couldn't stop eating!  Chris got Thai fried rice with chicken ... and he made a point of stopping so he could take some home for today's lunch!   

Also on Valentine's Day was our niece, Kennedy Harper's, first birthday.  We weren't able to join the celebration, of course, b/c they live in Florida.  Come to think of it, my sister, Kelley, hasn't even shared any photos on FB.   Hmmmmm...gonna have to check on that!

My mom's birthday is today (which is also the full moon for this month).  We called her up this morning before all of us started work.  And, even tho all of the family lives there by her, we were the first to give her birthday greetings this year!  Yay!  Our "gift" to her is for her to join us for several days during our Key West vacation that we are planning for June.  We have had to adjust our accommodations slightly b/c my mom can't do all the walking that we can, but this might be the only time just the 3 of us will vacay, so we are making it all work!

Let's see...history was made in MMA this past Saturday when the first-ever women's fight in the UFC was held.  Ronda Rousey was given the title from the outset and she was defending it from Liz Carmouche, the only fighter to want to challenge her.  The fight ended as expected, with Rousey taking the win by armbar.  Honestly, it didn't matter to me which of them won, but I wish it had gone, at least, 2 rounds.  

Still loving my gym and the workouts, especially circuits.  I know I have become stronger b/c of the exercises Nick sets forth for us to accomplish.  And I still work on my pullups, which are hard as f*ck!  

We started watching a few TV series, "Cyndi Lauper~Still So Unusual" and HBO's "Girls".  Love, love, love Cyndi!  Always have!  We watched the entire first season of Girls (b/c it was getting so much good press) one Sunday and really liked it.  It is currently in the second season and we have also been watching those episodes On Demand, but we aren't really "feeling" this season after 6 episodes. Something is off and I hope they get back to the formula from the first, and super successful, season; otherwise, it's no longer makes our list!  

Work is work....mostly slow, so I have been reading plenty of library books.  Which I secretly REALLY enjoy!

Friday, February 1, 2013


It's already one full month into 2013 & this is my first post!  Since Google won't let me add any more photos (even tho I have deleted some from older posts) without paying to upgrade, my desire to blog fell to the way side!

That said, I will try to wrap up things since my last post, mid-December.  We held our holiday cocktail party and, while it was a bit underattended, we had a very enjoyable and laid back time with our friends who were gracious enough to accept our invitation to come to the Dunes.  Our guests, in no particular order, were:  Nikki & Phil Norwine, Dave & Sandra Marek, Joe Rincon, Robin Campbell, Bart Botkin and Bobby Binford.  This little mixer combined people who didn't really know one another, but some had connections that made for easy conversation and, maybe, new friendships. We enjoyed drinks and snacks, chatting one another up.  It was a delightful way to share our "home" with our friends and to usher in the holidays.

Here is the Christmas miracle everyone did NOT expect: I went to my in-laws' house on Christmas Eve!  Chris didn't see it coming either, as I sort of decided it last minute!  We haven't attended the holiday gatherings at Chris's parents in several years.  (Chris, however, did go for a short visit at Thanksgiving this year.)  So, I threw back several glasses of wine pre-trip and took a bottle with me that I pretty much drank by myself while there!  All in all, it was an okay time.  It was good to see our two oldest nieces, who arrived from Wisconsin, and to chat with one of our younger nieces who we rarely see.  All but Chris's sister, the youngest of the brood, made it over.  Had Natalie made it, it would have been (almost) like the old days ~~ I'm talking 15-20 years ago!  Unfortunately, neither of us thought to grab the Costco gift card for his parents....and it's still in our possession!!

On Christmas day, we went to my aunt's, as usual.  One big difference, however, is that she asked her husband to leave and is getting a divorce, so he wasn't there.  Both of my cousins were, tho!  Kyle, who lives & works in Iraq, came with his girlfriend, Stacy (our first time meeting her).  Matt, who lives in Denver, came with his girlfriend, Emily, who we met a few months earlier.  The big news:  Matt & Emily are expecting!  Since the boys are more like brothers than cousins to me, I will be an aunt again!  We should get out to Colorado right after the new Long is born!

We celebrated the New Year Sin City style!  A week in Vegas!!!  It was far chillier than any of our other 3 visits, but we knew that going in and packed for it.  Our days were filled with lots of walking.  One of the days, we decided to forego the Strip and walked to the Red Rock Casino, which ended up being just over 5 miles (each way) from our timeshare.  Our original intention was to go on to the Red Rock Canyon, but after getting to the Casino we were informed that we would have another 5-10 miles to get to the canyon.  We decided that was not going to happen!  (Our one regret about not renting a car, after all.)  The timeshare we stayed in was several miles west of the Strip, so it was a much different view from our previous stays (Flamingo, Polo Towers and a Marriot timeshare).  We got a much better view of the mountains ~~ it was like being on 2 different vacations in one week! 

We did the haunted attraction The Goretorium.  I am a big chicken when it comes to haunted houses, so after watching the trailer for this one, I was pretty well already scared!  We looked around the Shop the day we bought our tickets (we went back the evening of New Year's Day for the "fun"!) and I saw a tshirt that read "I Shit My Pants".  So, that made me even more on edge!!!  And made me wonder if I should eat before (and possibly vomit or crap my pants) or after (which may not happen depending on what I see in this haunted hotel).  Fortunately, for ME, another couple got in line with us (otherwise we would have been doing this thing just the 2 of us...meaning, no way for me to hide btwn 2 people, which is my standard in haunted houses!).  And altho we were there first, I sort of maneuvered them in front of us!!  So, the girl got more of the in-your-face stuff throughout the whole thing.  I did yell out a couple of times, but I have to say, it really wasn't all that scary!  I don't know if it was because I wasn't the focus for the "scare-actors" or b/c I had told myself over & over to remember it isn't real!  I took the time to really look at my surroundings and they did a very good job on all the stuff to set the scenes! 

One of the top things I/we wanted to do was visit the Neon Boneyard.  They have many old neon signs from the various Vegas hotels over the years.  I LOVE it!  A definite must-see!  Vintage Vegas is so interesting!  The signs are art come to life!  Only a couple of the signs are in working order and we got to see one of them (from La Concha) lit up at the end of our tour.  (It is just so darn expensive to repair the signs!)  In addition to the Boneyard, many signs have been restored and can be found at Fremont Street Experience and along North Las Vegas Boulevard.  Chris got a lot of great pics that I intend to print, frame & hang the next time we are gonna land for more than a year! 

We also did the tour of the new Mob Museum.  We highly recommend a visit, if you are interested in organized crime (nationwide) and/or Las Vegas history.  We are from the Chicagoland area and were both surprised and happy to see the original wall from the St. Valentine's Day Massacre on display here.  The Museum was able to acquire it from a personal collector and they then opened February 14, 2012, in honor of the massacre.  The museum is 3 floors with much to see & read.  There are interactive parts, too.  Please allow yourself a couple/few hours.  We took 2 1/2 hours, and could have done another hour, but it was closing time. 

What vacation wouldn't be complete without a food recommendation, right?  I stumbled upon a tidbit about a restaurant inside Imperial Palace (which is transforming into The Quad) that had been visited by Man v. Food AND that had chicken & waffles (my new favorite meal!!!).  We simply HAD to go to Hash House a Go Go!  OMG!  My chicken & waffles was a masterpiece: in looks and taste!!  I kid you not!  The waffles had bacon baked into them!!!  And the portion sizes are out of this world!  While waiting on our food, we saw a table delivered a pancake (yes, one pancake) the size of a platter...not a plate, but a platter!!!  I ate 2 of my 4 waffles and 1 piece of chicken and we took the rest to go (stuffed into my backpack for the rest of our day!!!) ~ which I graciously shared with Chris the next day after warming it all up in the oven!  AND...guess what....there is a Hash House a Go Go in Chicago!!!  We are definitely getting there before our move cuz, to me, there is no other chicken & waffles I will eat! 

We bought more $1 chips to add to our burgeoning collection.  Somehow, tho, we thought we already had Riviera, but came home to find we do not.  We are concerned that that casino/hotel will be one to close soon (the Sahara has been shuttered since our last visit), so I have asked a friend who is going out there in April to grab one for us, if she makes it that way.  We visited some off the Strip casinos, too, like, The Orleans and the Palms.  We wanted a chip from the Palms, but they don't sell the $1 at the cage ~ and I wasn't going to a gaming table to see if I could purchase one from the dealer!!! 

We saw 2012 out and 2013 in at Fremont Street.  A New Year's Eve party under the VivaVision was the party we decided to attend (the cheapest, too), where they had several bands performing throughout the nite on different stages along the street, to include BuckCherry.  It was a chilly, chilly nite, but we were able to warm up now & again inside a casino.  It was "cool" to celebrate NYE somewhere other than NWI!!!

Our timeshare was perfect!  We used the fitness room once, but we were getting so much walking throughout the week that we didn't feel the need to use it.  There was also a pool and hottub.  I would sit at the hottub a couple mornings with my feet and lower legs submerged, while enjoying either wine or coffee.  I didn't bring my bathing suit, so I did buy a clearance suit bottom at Target (on our walk back from Red Rock Casino) which I paired with one of my sports bras, so I could get all the way in!  Glorious!  Chilly temps but oh-so-warm (102 degrees, I believe) in the hottub!  I did a quick run over to the pool, but it's 82 degrees seemed downright freezing!  I know, I know, as I was doing it, I thought to myself that I should have done my dip in the pool first, then run over to the hottub!  But, I wanted to be able to say I was in the pool in January in Vegas!!!    Either way, I warmed up in the hottub after the cold pool!  We were about a half mile walking distance to the grocery store, which we visited the first morning and then again about mid-stay.  We brought one bottle of wine and a bottle of rum with us in our checked luggage; we bought and drank 2 more bottles of wine the first grocery run and 2 the second!!!  The rum was all gone by week's end, too! 

We sent my mom a postcard, as I always like to do anytime we vacation!

We got our usual coffee (Illy) inside the Venetian, which is my favorite of all the casino/resorts!  We rode the bus and our resort's shuttle often.  We even figured out how to take the bus near our resort, make a transfer and get to the airport for our flight home.  It saved us a ton of money (our taxi upon arrival cost almost $50 and we didn't want to do that again), but it took longer and was far colder than a taxi ride would have been.  However, it was fun!  We had an awesome & cheap dinner at  Ellis Island Casino and Brewery , which was recommended by 2 of our shuttle drivers and confirmed by other timeshare guests!  We also got $10 each in free play, which we used on video poker, and tried our hand at craps (only $20). 

The rest of January has been filled with work, the gym, Chris taking a yoga class once a week (from a Groupon I bought for him) and both of us looking into Colorado jobs.  We also had a fun nite out this past Saturday with friends for another friend's birthday.  We met Dave & Sandra for dinner and drinks before heading out for drinks and dancing to the sounds of Dick Diamond and the Dusters at It's Vegas Baby inside the Blue Chip Casino.  We didn't get home until 4AM!   Good times, Good times! 

So, here we are already February 1st!  We are planning to have a nice dinner to celebrate Chris's birthday this month.  We are also doing bowling and dinner with Dave & Sandra.  Mardi Gras is this month!  And our love for New Orleans hasn't faded one bit!  We will eat jambalaya (made by Chris) with Popeye's biscuits that I'll grab on my way home from the gym while watching the last 3 episodes of Season 2 of Treme.  I'm going to enjoy a Crown Bakery fresh strawberry (with cream) paczki earlier in the day...hence the need to make it to the gym btwn the sweet treat and dinner!!!  Kennedy Harper turns one on Valentine's Day (the birthday she shares with her favorite Uncle Chris) and my mom has a birthday on the 25th.  It will be another full month, with some time spent near the beach and in the dunes, too, of course!  We have to get out there and enjoy as much nature as we can while living in the midst of it! 

I am putting together a group for the Dirty Girl Mud Run in Chicago in June.  Should be a fun event!  It's a 5K course that isn't competitive!  We will have a crazy, muddy time making our way through (or for some, around) the obstacles!  I dubbed us Team DRRRty GRRRls (which is a play off of our LAB circuit Team GRRR).  This will be my breast cancer activity as I will miss my annual Pink Ribbon Society Tea, which is the last Sunday in September (so, after our move).

And....I have that vacation itch, so I am working on our next trip ~ Key West!  Most likely, in early June. 

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