This evening was the multi-cultural festival at my daughter’s daycare. There were some great points of interest, including a lady that would do your name in Korean calligraphy and performances by a band (I missed that one), ballet folklorico, and an Indian dance group. Pretty amazing for a daycare.


They asked parents to bring dishes to share that were representative of their background. Well, hell, on my side that meant jello salad or tuna casserole or something that didn’t seem cultural never mind multicultural. So, since Olivia is half half (that’s a quarter for you fractionally challenged) Colombian, I made arepas. They are corn cakes, made on the griddle, that are crisp on the outside and creamy smooth on the inside. Apparently there are very strong feelings about whether arepas originated in Venezuela or Colombia. I say, who cares where they came from? They are delicious now.

golden crispy goodness…nomnomnom

My MIL gave me her recipe and technique. Normally I would have just asked her to make them, but she was out of town. I practiced the night before with a batch that J and I gobbled up for dinner. And I left work early today so I could do them fresh for the event. And they turned out pretty good. So, I guess I’m kind of glad she wasn’t here. I don’t think I would have ever made them otherwise.

Don’t tell anyone, but the secret ingredient is….cream cheese. How’s that for multicultural?

Three years. Not quite three years. That’s how long it’s been since my last post. And that’s pretty crazy. Hell, I wasn’t even sure it would let me log in. But it did. Hooray?

So what’s happened in the last three years? I got married. I had a kid. She’s two. I didn’t blog. So, there’s that.

I want to say more, but I think I just dozed off and drooled on my iPhone a little. Blogging from your phone. How awesome is that?!?

The Airport

I got to see it in two different modes. When I arrived on Thursday morning, the place was a madhouse. Absolutely filled with people. The baggage claim area was well-done, I thought, even if it did take a while for the luggage to show up. The taxi lines were long but well-managed. Those guys are serious about their job.

On the way home, when I had to spend five hours here, I saw a different airport. The vibe was low key. As the driver who drove us to the airport remarked, people leave Vegas different than they arrive–hungover and sometimes poorer, always quieter. I also discovered that there’s free WiFi and and outlets to power up. Thank you, LAS for being a passenger-friendly airport.

The Hotel

We stayed at The Venetian. It was completely over the top, very ornate with murals on the ceilings and lots of mirrors, marble, and gilt. It was beautiful, of course, but overwhelming. Definitely not how I would prefer to live on an every day basis–too much of everything, but that seems to be the theme of Vegas overall.

The Venice theme was everywhere, from the casino floor, to the muraled ballrooms in the meeting area, to the shops on the canal. Yes, an actual canal. It’s dyed that unreal water-blue. I know for sure that the canals in the real Venice are not that color–nor do they smell like a mixture of chlorine and bath products from one of the nearby shops. But you can get a gondola ride. And we took one. It’s about 15 minutes, and probably a rip off at $16 per person, but still our gondolier Pia was actually from Italy, and she sang “Volare” to us as we moved through the blue water.

The Venetian, unlike, say, The Bellagio, is not laid out on a grid, and the signage–in an effort, I can only guess, to keep it on theme–is not terribly legible, so it can be difficult and confusing to find where you want to go. It is also much dimmer than The Bellagio. And smellier. If I have a serious complaint about The Venetian, it’s the smell. Not just the smell of cigars and cigarettes and liquor and all kinds of food and lots of people. But the hotel pipes in this sickly sweet scent (my friend said it’s violets, but I don’t know) to help cover those other odors. No. And no again. It’s terrible. Awful. And it’s everywhere. There is some escape in your room (although they pump that same scent into the WC), thank god, but any time you are in the public areas, the smell is enough to make you nauseous.

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The room was very impressive, large and well-appointed, with a sunken living room area that included a sleeper-sofa. And I was happy to see that the decor in the room was contemporary and elegant but definitely scaled back. Only the bathroom edged toward ostentatious, and that’s usually true of most hotel bathrooms, so that was a relief. Speaking of the bathroom, the shampoo and soap provided were actually enjoyable–I even took the extras which I never do. The scent (bitter orange) reminded me of Constant Comment tea, one of my favorite drinks when the weather turns cooler.

The Weather

Speaking of the weather, Vegas did not deliver what I was expecting. And this is a good thing because I was expecting hot, hot, hot. Friday was sunny and 84. Saturday partly cloudy and 78. We were able to get some time in at the pool and actually enjoy it, even in the sun. It made all of us want to escape the overwhelming and constant smells of the casino and get some fresh air. I heard it was 110 last weekend. All I can do is thank the weather gods.

The Scenery

Las Vegas was also unexpectedly beautiful. I don’t mean The Strip, which is of course beautiful in that same way that Times Square is beautiful. Full of color and people and energy and an almost overpowering commercialism. It’s amazing, really, more than beautiful. Even one of the more actually beautiful things–the dancing fountains at The Bellagio–which are truly amazing, are ruined if you think about all that water in the middle of the desert. It’s obscene. Beautiful. But obscene. I almost felt guilty while watching it.

But what was unexpected about Las Vegas was the natural beauty. From the desert as you fly in, to the amazing sight of Lake Mead and Hoover Dam–awesome even from the plane. And rising sharply in the distance are the mountains, made more stark by the sheer flatness of Vegas. They seem close, as does everything really, because the air is so clear and the land is so flat that distance is hard to judge. I’m not really an outdoorsy person, and I find deserts frightening (visions of broken down vehicles and being stranded in the baking heat–I know, I watch too many movies), but even I wanted to explore this other side of Vegas.


This is already long, so I’m going to do the food, the show, and the gambling in a follow-up post.

So, I don’t know how successful I’ll be, but I’m going to try to do episode recaps for this season. Here’s the one for last night’s premiere: Season 3, Episode 1 “Bad Blood” (original air date: 6/13/2010).

I’m in the airport. It’s 11:30 am. I have already been here for 45 minutes. My flight, if you are interested, doesn’t depart until 4:30 pm.  I’m still not sure why exactly I’m here. Check out was officially at 11. But I think we probably could have gotten late check-out if we’d asked. The two friends I was with were on the 2:00 flight (luck bastards) but still, 10:45 is early even for them. I think it’s because one of them–I won’t name any names–is completely neurotic about travel and once it was time to go, it was time to go right fucking then. Never mind hours wasted in the airport when we could have been poolside or gambling. (Did I mention that this same friend won $250 on the penny slots? How does this happen? I think I ended the weekend breaking even and feeling lucky for it.)

So, to make matters worse, they are both traveling on American and I’m on U.S. Airways. So, they can’t even keep me company until they board. And, I can’t even check in and hang out with them in a restaurant because I can’t check my luggage until 12:30. Really?

Well, it’s about to be 12:30 now, so I’m going to go see if I can check my bags and see if they’ve even assigned a gate to my flight yet.

Oh my god, it wreaks of coconut air freshener. How can a plane smell like coconut air freshener? It’s seriously making me want to puke.

Wedding planning has been temporarily interrupted by a trip to Vegas with some girlfriends. I’ve been planning the trip longer than the wedding. Priorities.

My flight was at 6:15 this morning. You’d think that the airport would be nice and empty at this time. Just you and maybe a few business travelers. You don’t really need to get there an hour early. But I’ve learned my lesson. It’s packed. Where is everyone going so early? What can you do when you get there? I’m wondering that myself. I’m hitting Vegas after a layover in Phoenix at 10:15 or so. I’d take a nap, but I’m sure I can’t check in that early. The first of my friends that are joining me doesn’t arrive until late this afternoon. So I’m on my own and will be drifting through the casinos. I do need a pair of coral flats. Maybe I’ll try my luck shoe shopping. Ooooo…or maybe I’ll see if there’s a good salon with an opening. I like getting my hair done in new places.

I’d already planned on sleeping through the flight to Phoenix. Four o’clock in the morning is fucking early. I’ve got my side of the row to myself, which means an empty chair next to me. Yay! Seating success!

But, wait. Seriously? Bitch, you need to turn that shit down. This girl, she’s in my row, but on the other side of the plane…the window seat opposite from me. But you can hear her fucking HEADPHONES from where I am. Not just barely, either. I can hear them well enough to tell you that she has been listening to the same fucking song on repeat since we took off two damn hours ago. What the fuck?

My phone has been dying slow battery death, so I didn’t want to use it as an ipod if I didn’t have to. But finally, I had to put my own headphones on and turn my music up to blaring levels just to drown out the grating awfulness of it. People’s complete obliviousness to the people around them never fails to amaze me. And not in a good way. I never thought I’d appreciate when the flight attendant demands that all electronic devices with an on switch be turned to off at the end of the flight. Amen to the final approach.

Further disappointment comes in the form of the “fresh baked” blueberry muffin I picked up from Austin Java on my way to the gate. Fresh baked? Hah! Like last week. Muffin FAIL.

In Phoenix, it’s a 5 mile hike–with no fewer than 10 separate sections of slow moving sidewalk–to switch from the B gates where I landed to the A gates where I need to catch the flight to Vegas. And what is it about airports that makes you want to rush from point A to point B (or in this case from point B to point A) no matter if you have 2 or 3 hours to kill. There’s something about the vibe that makes me rush, even if it’s running to stand still. On the plus side, I found a Starbucks, this terminal smells like Cinnabon, and the airport has free wifi. Phoenix for the WIN!

The Search for the Dress

I don’t even want a wedding dress. No miles of satin and lace. No beading or sequins. It doesn’t even have to be white. I just want a dress to get married in. I guess it should be pretty. I mean, I suppose every bride wants to be pretty. Hell, every girl wants to be pretty any time she puts on a dress. So, yeah, it should be pretty. And it needs to fit. Sure. Because it doesn’t matter how pretty it is if it doesn’t fit, right?

So, that’s a pretty short list of reasonable demands. How hard can this be? Well, I bought two dresses online, hoping one of them would work. Nope. And I’ve looked at a billion other dresses online. Some are pretty, but wouldn’t fit. Some might fit, but ugh. Too formal. Too casual. Too long a wait time when I’m getting married in five weeks.

After two years of delay, J and I have set the date….like five weeks from now. Oh, yes. You read me right. July 10. Okay, maybe that’s six weeks. Either way, that’s a very quick turn-around for planning a wedding. Six weeks wouldn’t be too bad if we were running off to Vegas (hey, I made that suggestion!), but planning an actual wedding and reception? Hah! And already the craziness I dreaded has begun.

I have written here before about the…shall we say…lack of freshness?….of food items found in my parents’ kitchen. Perhaps some of you felt I was exaggerating for effect. Well, I offer as evidence the following image, emailed to me from my sister today, June 2, 2010.

I'm pretty sure that's a 5.

My niece turned 6 on Wednesday, so J and I took Friday and Monday off and made the trek up to Dallas for the usual fun and adventures in crazyconservativeland.

Oh, Mustard, Where Art Thou?

In The Great Mustard Caper of 2009 I told the horrifying story of condiments gone bad. The upshot of it was that, over the Christmas holidays while making J a sandwich, I discovered three bottles of mustard gone bad in the parents’ fridge. Then the bottles mysteriously disappeared. It wasn’t me, I swear! This caused a huge scandal in the house that everyone is still talking about. Seriously.

When I arrived on Friday, the first thing my stepdad said was that I needed to keep my hands off his mustard. That he had counted the bottles and knew exactly how many there were. And this continued throughout the weekend. In fact, the entire family (and in my family that is a lot of people) was brought into it. I continued to deny–it really wasn’t me–and he continued to heckle. And when I left today, I hid all the condiments in the house.

Everything is Louder in Dallas

For my mom’s birthday earlier in the month, she received four seasons of The Closer on DVD. Now, I love that show; I’ve seen all the episodes. And I’m happy–ecstatic–to watch them again if only so that I don’t have to watch fucking Glenn Beck on FOX News. The parents turned him on for a few minutes, and I nearly vomited while throwing my glass of water through the television screen. Anyhow, we’re watching an episode from the first season, and the conversation goes something like this: What’d she say? I don’t know. I can’t understand. *volume goes up* Wait! What was that? I can’t hear anything. Can you turn it up a notch? *volume goes up again–several notches* Hon, can you hear that? No, not really. I still can’t hear it. OK, I’ll turn it up.

At this point, the volume goes up again and blood begins to drip from my nose and ears and the dog runs from the room.

My Dogs are Tired

My sister doesn’t have much luck with dogs. She’s had three dogs–three crazy as fuck dogs–in the last 10 years. The first one, Terrence, was a scruffy, ill-behaved mutt. He was fairly sweet until my sister had my niece. At that point, he tried to bite the baby, and, failing that, he pooped  with frequency in her room. Needless to say, he found his way into someone else’s good home.

The next one, Gary (yes, named after the snail in Spongebob Squarepants), was a gift from my sister’s crazy boss. Let me state, in case no one has ever told you, that it is absolutely not cool to give pets as gifts. Apparently, or so my sister says, it is also not a good idea to give musical instruments, but that’s a story for later. Gary was a small bag of bones with thin, long white hair that allowed his very pink skin to show through. He was very sweet but had a strange love for sheetrock and drywall. He chewed several holes in the walls of my sister’s condo. And, he needed special (read expensive) grooming and vet care. Eventually Gary was given to a family that could better appreciate his uniqueness.

One day my sister came home with this gorgeous blond on her arm. She had a big chest that narrowed to a slender waist. Her thighs were muscular. She was very athletic and loved to run. She was named Sophia. She’s part golden lab, part greyhound–actually, I have no idea what she is, but her coloring and size are lab-ish and her shape is like a greyhound. She practically vibrates with energy, and her tail wags very enthusiastically and causes her hips to sway. We call her WiggleButt.

You might think that the oddest thing about Sophia would be that she has, in the last couple of months, twice drank an entire liter of canola oil. Or that she once ate a loaf of bread. Or that time she ate a bag of flour. But, no.

On Sophia’s left side is an enlarged nipple. Seriously. Huge. As in Really Fucking Big. As in, it’s just hanging out there and you can’t look away. It’s got to be as big around as a dime and at least an inch long. Maybe that doesn’t seem very big, but just think of it. You’ll get there. I wish I had a picture because words just don’t do it justice. But when I tried to take one, my sister got all pissy and said I was mean. But, hey, I’m not the one that nicknamed her The Big Nipper.

All the World’s a Pizza

Friday night we ordered pizza. Finding decent pizza in a town where half the population is Hispanic, half is Vietnamese, and the other half is White Trash is nearly impossible. So, we settle for mediocre pizza from a local place the parents love, and we’re grateful, frankly, that we’re not eating some processed meat product from my parents’ pantry. So there we all are, eating our veggie pizza. As far as I know, there were no discussions going on about politics, race, religion, or any of the other topics that might unfortunately be brought up when we visit my parents. My stepdad says to me, as he puts a veggie slice on his plate: “See, I’m not a racist, I eat the black ones.” I’m assuming he was referring to the olives. What I want to know–what does it say about me that I don’t even like olives, that I, in fact, loathe olives? I mean, I had no idea that my eating or not eating olives was a reflection of my attitudes on race. I’m not who I thought I was, that’s for sure.


“Back Home Part 2” will be posted soon…and it will have pictures.

shelves of shoes

Now *this* is a lot of shoes!

To buy or not to buy those fabulous pair of shoes that I just saw in the store, online, in a catalog….you get the idea. Yes, I have shoes. Some people (like J) think I have a lot of shoes. It’s not like I’m Imelda Marcos. I just happen to like shoes. J has tried to tell me that when you buy a new pair of shoes, you have to get rid of an old pair. But that only works if the shoes are equivalent. Those incredible coral peep-toe sling-backs can’t replace the red croc pointy toe pumps. It just doesn’t work that way.

seafoam green pumps with bow

Jeffrey Campbell pumps at ModCloth

So, what prompted this post is I fell in love with a pair of shoes I saw online today. When I texted J about them, he was like, Why are you shoe shopping online instead of working? What’s up with that? Are you my boss, or something? I was on checking out a new retro dress inspired by friends of ours the Casserole Queens. And there they were, a suggested pairing with the dress (and they would look fabulous with it…June Cleaver eat your heart out.) So, should I buy them? Well, on the one hand, I should probably be saving up for my upcoming trip to Vegas. But, on the other hand, I don’t have a pair of seafoam green pumps with the most fabulous feminine bow on the back. And these Jeffrey Campbell pumps would look fabulous on the Strip.

My parents own their own business that they run out of their home. My sister has been working for them. They don’t pay her very much, but the hours are flexible and it makes it convenient for caring for her daughter. Frankly, I think she’s crazy…and she frequently sends me text messages that confirm that opinion.

So, the other day she called me. Apparently, the parents were heading out to run an errand, leaving her alone in the house.

girl with guns

Get the fuck out of my house! (Note: this is not my sister or my parents' guns.)

Dad: Now, we’ll lock the door, but if someone comes in the house, there’s a .45 in my desk drawer. It’s loaded. There’s one already in the chamber. You just have to turn off the safety.

Mom: No, that’s too big for her. There’s a .38 in the nightstand by my bed. It’s also loaded. That would be much better for you.

Dad: Well, there’s the 9 mil in the clock in the living room. What about that?

Mom: Oh, yes. That one should work for you.

Sis: Who do you guys think is coming in here?

Dad: You never know. You should be prepared.

MacBook Pro

13-inch MacBook Pro

So, last week I was completely surprised when J had a new MacBook delivered to my office. My old one had finally gone to laptop heaven. As it lay dying (a long, lingering death for the last couple of months) the monitor had begun to flicker rapidly and pretty much constantly. It was like being inside of a disco. WARNING: Surfing the Internet may cause epilepsy. Then it would go dark. And for a while you could smack it around a bit and it would come back on, but eventually, one day, it faded to black and left us forever.

Let me count the ways:

  • back-lit keyboard (which conveniently darkens when not in use)
  • looooooong battery life; props for this one, MacPeeps.
  • noise. as in, there isn’t any except for the pitter-patter of my fingers. My last one sounded like a jet taking off.
  • quick, like a gazelle
  • screen feels so deep, it’s like I could dive in and swim in the type
  • function key icons…they are awesome
  • coolness. I mean this literally. The old one ran very hot and would often leave red marks on your legs after some lap use. Convenient for warming  you  or your hot chocolate on cold winter day. Less convenient as summer approaches and it’s 100 degrees outside.
white laptop bag

"The Kate" laptop bag by ACME MADE

ACME MADE Smart Laptop Sleeve in black on white

Smart Laptop Sleeve by ACME MADE

I want to carry it around with me everywhere, clutched to my chest, maybe sucking on the corner a little bit like a very tiny–if somewhat hard–security blanket. So I got a sleeve, for when I don’t need to keep the cord with me–and thanks to the fab battery life that is much less often. And a larger bag that could fit both of our laptops and accessories.

Ugh. I hate being sick. And I really hate throwing up. I know I am not alone in this, but, still, you feel really alone when your crouched over the toilet and your insides are trying to come up your throat and out of your mouth. It hurts. And it’s disgusting. So, I’m glad that’s over with. Yep.

In her post “I’m Definitely Not Dead,”Allie Brosh at Hyberbole and a Half provides the perfect visual for how I am feeling today.

Life In Photos

Toast the dog gets a hug from a little girl

Toast gets a hug

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