Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Vegas Rundown

FOOD

I was fortunate to be traveling with girls who love good food! Each night we dined somewhere nice and mostly had good things to say. The Eiffel Tower vegan dinner on Wednesday was great, as was the roasted mushroom and onion pizza from Wolfgang Puck’s Spago on Thursday.

But you already heard about that!

Friday night we dined at Gordon Ramsey Steak – the new restaurant at the Paris resort/casino and the prize for the most recent season of Hell’s Kitchen. I’ll be honest…..I watch the show and for me, eating there was more about meeting Christina (the winner) and seeing CT get SO excited to be there (she’s a huge fan of the show also) than it was about the food for me. Gordon Ramsey is known to be a relative jackass when it comes to accommodating veggie people. He’s admittedly lied about using chicken stock, etc.

So here’s my review. They were stumped on what to do for me. I was given the market green salad without the meats and cheeses…so it was an iceberg wedge with a side of olive oil and red wine vinegar. Not very inspiring. My main dish, which was off menu, looked fun, but was very bland. It was essentially a warmish brussel sprout salad over a purple potato mash (that didn’t taste like anything). Don’t get me wrong….it wasn’t bad…but my food is significantly better. CT and AC enjoyed their dishes. Word is HBF’s was salty. But did I mention we met Christina?? Pic below 🙂

Saturday night was at Yellowtail at the Bellagio. Fantastic! I had a carafe of cold sake served in bamboo, to-die for edamame (one was a spicy-sweet chili oil one), agadashi tofu, tempura veggies, and veggie rolls. We ordered a ton and ate family style, so there was plenty. The girls got into my food photography and helped arrange plates and provided diffused lighting via this cell phone lights!

FITNESS

Hee hee. Such a funny thought. Walking in heels is enough of a workout. Calf muscles and blisters are rockin.

LIFE

I have learned two valuable lessons.

1 – relying on an iPad app to teach yourself the fine intricacies of a game like craps lulls you into a false sense of awesomeness and ability.

2 – craps is fun, but I still have very little clue about what I’m actually doing.

I have the basics down and some great guys working at the casino helped the best they could. I went way up and way down all weekend. Broke even(ish), had fun, and there was plenty of vodka cranberries to be had. Fun times.

We ended the festivities by attending a late night showing of Cirque du Soleil’s “O”. It was absolutely brilliant. These athletes should be in the Olympics!

Over our nearly 5 days there, we did some shopping, people watching, gambling, and lots of picture taking. Not too many over indulgences of any kind (at least none that I’m going to tell you about)! We were essentially very well behaved ladies. Trust me 😉

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Day Two Vegas is In the Bag

FOOD

First full day in Vegas! Breakfast was a Vega smoothie on ice. I didn’t have any bananas or frozen fruit, so it was just the powder blended with water and ice. Still not too bad.

Lunch was at PF Chang’s (yes yes, I know…I’m in Vegas where there are a billion unique restaurants to eat in, don’t judge). It was fantastic though. I had the steamed tofu and veggies on brown rice.

Dinner was the Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant Spaggo’s at Caesar’s Palace. Super fantastic mushroom pizza.

In between these were some pringles, twizzlers, and vodka cranberries.

FITNESS

The girls hit up the Miracle Mile shopping mall while I did the gym thing. I ran 5 mi on the treadmill and then did an upper body strength training session of:

3 sets of 12 dumbell curls
3 sets of 12 zottman curls
3 sets of 12 arnold presses
3 sets of 12 front raises
3 sets of 20 sit-ups

Afterwards, I hung out by the pool for about an hour.

LIFE

We had a fun day in Vegas! We did some gambling at the Planet Hollywood casino. I actually braved going to a craps table! Well, really only because AC was there too. It was a lot of fun, the dealers were helping, and when I was the one rolling, the table was hot! I was up about $60 by then. Then I got cocky and ended up being down $85 or so when we left. It was still a ton of fun.

We went back to the condo and got cleaned up and headed to Caesar’s. The goal was to walk the strip and check out a ton of hotels, but that never happened. We stayed at Caesar’s until it was time to head back. Two more days here, so hopefully we’ll get to see more! Either way, the entire trip so far has been really awesome.

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Getting Nailed in Vegas Baby!!

FOOD

My flight was really early yesterday morning, so all I had on the way to the airport was coffee (much needed coffee!). At one point on the plane, I did eat my leftover hummus and veggie wrap I brought with me from Tuesday night’s dinner. It was exactly what I needed.

I’m guessing the three bloody mary’s and 2 beers on the way there counted as lunch.

Dinner was at the Eiffel Tower restaurant in the Paris casino. It was a french restaurant, so of course my dinner was off menu. I was created a lovely red kale, green bean, and mushroom dish. I think it was the best on at the table!

FITNESS

Yesterday was a wash, unless hiking around Vegas in spiky silver heels good. Today is a going to be a run day on the treadmill at the resort.

LIFE

Well, we had a great and adventurous day yesterday! The flight was really early, and I traveled with my own 12 pack of vodka! Yes….if they are less than 3 ounces, you’re cleared through TSA.

We landed in Vegas around 11am, hit up the resort village we’re staying at, and got back to drinking. After a little while AC and I decided we needed a pedicure. The concierge at the resort pointed us towards a place down the street, and she and I took off while the other girls took naps and/or hug by the pool. What looked on the map like a block or two walk, turned into a nearly 2 mile hike into the ghetto of vegas. We found the studio – Get Nailed 24/7, and timidly walked into the door. We walk in the door wondering if it was a nail salon or a porn site. Anyway, we managed to get our pedicures, and admired the man there who looked better in a dress than I did.

We eventually got back to the room, chilled out for a bit, and then got ready for a night on the town! Tonight was our more formal night, and so we were all dressed up. When you go out, you realize that Vegas isn’t a dressy and glam place. It’s old people with fanny packs and hookers. We looked killer anyway.

Dinner was nice, and then it was off to the Excalibur Hotel for the Australian Male Review show, the Thunder from Down Under. It was fun and a little kitschy, but totally a good time.

We had intentions of staying out all night, and even had a second wind by then, but we eventually decided we were fading. By the time we went to bed, we had been up for 23 hours.

Today should be more fun, and I’ll be sure to update everyone….though things may be edited a bit 😉

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Tacos When It’s Not Tuesday and Musical’s About Pee. Welcome to My Weekend.

FOOD

Oh, where to begin?  I’ve made a few simple dishes, like a spaghetti squash stir fry – onion, garlic, and tomato tossed with freshly nuked squash.

spaghetti squash with onion, tomato, and garlic!

no-fail tamales! Yummy stuff, with a homemade spicy green sauce.

Tonight’s taco night was more fun though.  I will say, my themed dinner nights apparently have awaked some odd OCD in my oldest child.  She came into the kitchen to ask what was for dinner.  I told her tacos.  She ran from the room screaming “BUT IT’S NOT TUESDAY”.  Hmmm…..

Well, these were new tacos anyway.  And if you know me, you know that any excuse to put something on a tortilla, and I’m there.

Crissie’s ‘It’s Not Tuesday’ Tacos

Ingredients

*1 cup soya granules (or TVP if you have it….or ground tofu or tempeh really)

*2 cups water (if using granules or TVP)

*1 onion, diced

*1 red bell pepper, diced

*2 tsp cumin

*1 tsp chipotle pepper

*1/2 tsp sea salt

*1 tsp adobo seasoning

*1/2 tsp Mexican oregano

*1/2 tsp Epazote

*2 tbsp tomato powder + 1 cup water (or 1 cup tomato sauce)

Directions

*If using the soya granules, boil the water and pour over granules, and cover at least 20 minutes.  Sort of like making instant rice really 🙂

*If you’re using the tempeh or firm and pressed tofu, break into small “ground” pieces.  I like to boil the tempeh in chunks for about 15 minutes, and then stick into the food processor to break up.  Either way, saute in a non-stick pan until starting to brown.

*add onion and bell pepper to a non-stick pan on med-high heat and saute until soft, about 4 minutes.  (if making with tofu or tempeh, add to that mixture already sautéing in your pan).

*add all the spices, and stir fry an additional 1-2 minutes.

*add tomato powder + water or tomato sauce.  Simmer for a minute.

*add soaked soya granules, bring to a boil, and simmer for 15 minutes (or if using tofu or tempeh, just bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 min).

my soya granules courtesy of Amazon.com. Fantastic added protein and texture boost for spaghetti, sloppy joes, tacos, etc.

taco spices!!! Most of these came from AC for my bday last year 🙂

decided to take a “candid” shot of actually stir frying the onion, pepper, and garlic…

corn tortillas packed with rice, taco filling, and fun toppings!

FITNESS

Yesterday’s run was less than stellar.  I hate it when that happens.  It makes me wonder why the hell I laced up to begin with.  About half-way through, I decided it was best to just keep pushing because I’d feel like a jerk if I didn’t.

So in the end, I was glad I finished the run, and my pace was even fine, but I just didn’t feel this one.  Not sure if it was bad fueling, not enough sleep, or my head wasn’t in it.  Oh well….I know that those crap-run feelings aren’t the norm, so it’s not like I’m going to skip the next one!

Okay, maybe I did.  I was planning to run today, if for no other reason, then to prove to myself that my bad run on Saturday was a fluke.  I ended up doing yoga instead.  My right quad is killing me to the point where I think I pulled something.  It’s hurt since squat hell on Monday, but the rest of the sore muscles quickly faded and this didn’t.  It’s not “sore muscle” pain, but “I screwed something up” pain.  Today my hip hurt – which I think was me compensating during this week’s runs.

And we’re not going to mention how my husband told me how I have to get up and wander around the plane Wednesday to prevent a DVT!  Okay, so I just mentioned it, but he totally freaked me out.  So AC (buddy, pal, neuro expert) – if I stroke out on the plane, tell the emergency crew that you think I have a deep vein clot from my right leg likely blocking my heart or lungs.  Thanks.

LIFE

So this weekend was fun.  Busy, but fun!  I don’t recall Friday that well, other than a really deep desire to go to bed at a decent hour.  The entire week was late nights (3 of them at 9pm or later).

R had her 9 yr old check-up.  She grew 3 inches in the past year, so she’s now in the 25th percentile (no laughing, I’m not quite 5’2″
!).  She’s also a whopping 51 lbs, which the doctor said was near the bottom and she’s her typical slim self.  She was quizzed on her grades, her dietary habits (needs to eat more fruit), and exercising.  Doc is thrilled she’s a swimmer…and so am I.  She’s happiest in the water, and she hasn’t figured out yet that it’s great for her!

R the swimmer!

Saturday I had a fun night planned for D and me.  I am doing a boat load of travelling (4-6 work trips and 1 fun trip) before the end of the year, which means D is doing all the heavy lifting at home.

My morning started early, but peaceful.  I had appts at the spa for a few things, including a manicure.  I needed a pre-Vegas color, and had a wide range of suggestions via Facebook.  In the end, I went with something in the red-ish family, but picked it really based on the name of the color…Cha-Ching Cherry!  That HAS to be good luck, right???

Saturday night was hilarious though.  I was looking for something atypical for us (basically, not a movie).  I decided on a musical called Urinetown.  Yes…you read that right.  A musical.  About pee.  Fight for your right to potty!!!

It’s set in a mythical reality where there’s been a drought for 20 yrs, and going to the bathroom is heavily regulated and you have to pay for the privilege.  If you decide to rebel, pee at home or in the bushes, you’re carted off to “urinetown” which is a myth…they really take you out the city limits and kill you.  Opressed with legislature-passed rate hikes, the populace revolt against the pay-to-pee standards.  Many parallels are drawn to today’s society (the Occupy movement, impending presidential election, etc).

It started its Broadway run in 2001 and has eventually made its way here to Norfolk via The Generic Theater, which is where we went.  It was…odd.  The potty humor was funny, but it wasn’t quite enough to keep us interested.  The cast was good, and their singing fantastic…but we were in a basement theater with our bums going numb in fold out chairs.  In the end, it didn’t really hold our interest…though.  The songs were sung so fast it was hard to understand most of the time, and since it was a musical, most of the dialogue came via song.

Regardless, we had a great time.  We went for a drink after, and we were home by 1030.

Today was spent hanging out with the family and doing typical sunday stuff like cleaning and cooking.  I also did the majority of my packing for Wednesday’s trip to Vegas!  I swear, I’m going to learn how to play craps before I go….

Tamale No Fail and Having a Fish For a Daughter

okay, so I can’t believe it’s been another week without a post.  I seriously thought I did one…getting senile in my old age!

FOOD

I went to another vegan meet-up last weekend.  The theme was Latin food, so I thought I’d show off my culinary skills by making some homemade tamales!  I used the black bean/chipotle recipe from Veganomicon – one I had used successfully in the past a few years ago.

I made the filling Friday night, and started the actual tamales about 4 hrs before I had to leave for the party.  These buggers are a time committment like few other dishes I’ve made!

They have to steam for about an hour to firm up.  I put the first batch in my makeshift steamer (about 7 fit).  An hour later…still mushy.  Crap.  I steam them for another half hour.  Mush.  Double crap.  I bust out the electric pressure cooker, put the steamer basket in, and start a batch for 15 minutes.  Mushy.  Oh hell….

By now, it’s 430 pm, I have no tamales for a party where 25 people have RSVP’d, I haven’t showered, and I have to leave at 5 to make it on time.  What’s a girl to bring when she had a total tamale fail?  Lots and lots of wine.

I’m pulling into the party when my husband calls.  I had set aside my tamales to cool off before pitching them.  He tells me they’re firmed up – apparently I just needed to let them cool down to set.  Crap.  Tamale no-fail after all, and now I have the makings of about 40 tamales.  LEFTOVERS!!!

The party was nice, the food other people brought was yummy, and the wine was appreciated.  Disaster averted….but honestly…the tamales were rocking!

FITNESS

The past week has been peppered mostly with solo runs and a couple of strength training sessions.

I ended up in squat hell, and 4 days later, I’m STILL sore.  Oh well 🙂

LIFE

The biggest news is that my youngest R tried out for and made the swim team!  She just turned 9, so she’s pretty stoked.  Tryouts were last Saturday afternoon, and there were about 30-40 kids trying out.

all focus and watching everything that’s going on around here.

R was second on the list, so we watched the first kid.  The tryouts were to swim a lap front crawl and a lap backstroke.  If you could do butterfly or breast stroke or anything else fun, then let the coach know so you could swim that too.  The first boy did those, got out, the coach wrote some things down and said she’d let his parents know after everyone tried out.  Okay cool, we weren’t going to find out today, but I didn’t expect that we would when there were that many kids trying out for a limited number of openings.

clarifying with the coach exactly what she’s supposed to do

R did her front crawl (to which her brother M said “holy crap, she’s FAST) and backstroke.  Then said she could do flip turns and breast stroke.  No butterfly yet.  She did those, and as she was getting out of the pool, the coach – smiling broadly – put her hand out to shake R’s, and said “welcome to the team”!.  Okay, so no waiting after everyone tried out to find out if she made it.  Yes, she’s that good and I’m that proud!!!!  🙂

front stroke

welcome to the team!!! (oh, and dig the suit out of your bum at the same time!!!)

Team practice was every day this week for an hour, and she has a private lesson also for a half hour one day (to work on form and technique and new strokes she doesn’t know yet, like butterfly).  Every single day she was stoked for practice, and all the while in the pool, she’s smiling.  One of the Dad’s said to me on Wednesday “doesn’t she know this is a hard workout and not fun?”.  My response is that I hope she always finds swimming fun.

 

in her swim team suit and cap! Personally…I think she just loves wearing a swim cap 🙂

 

This weekend is planned a lot of time with D and the kids (some together, some separately).  I leave for another trip on Wednesday (VEGAS), and home for two weeks, then head out again for the first of 3-4 work trips left this year.  It’s tough on everyone when I’m gone that much, so hopefully I’ll get to spend as much time as possible with them when I’m here.

Family, Food, Fun, and Calling Two Places Home

FOOD

As usual, it’s really nice to be home.  I miss my kitchen and my food, and even though I was pretty set while I was away all week (thank goodness for travel blenders!), it’s always different to be in my own space.

Dinner last night was actually out.  It was R’s choice since it was her birthday, and she could either have any home cooked meal or restaurant she wanted.  She picked Carrabba’s, which was absolutely no surprise.  It was a nice dinner.

This morning I slept in (830!).  After my coffee, I decided I didn’t want a smoothie.  I whipped up a heartier meal, and it was awesome!  I still had part of a box of brown minute rice in the back of the pantry, and while that was going, I sautéed some onion, roasted red bell peppers, mixed frozen veggies, and fire roasted canned tomatoes, added half of a can of black-eyed peas, and voila!  Breakfast!!!  It made two servings, so I packed one up for a lunch at work this week.

have I ever missed having something filling for breakfast! Don’t get me wrong…grateful for my ability to have green smoothies while traveling…but sometimes a girl just needs to chew….

Lunch was Subway while out and about running errands (I took today off).

For dinner, I made a roasted Portobello mushroom burger and braised cabbage.  The mushroom was on a bun with avocado, tomato, onion, and dijon mustard, and I braised the cabbage real quick (hello, only 2 minutes) with cumin seed in the pressure cooker.  It was fantastic.

people who don’t eat like this just don’t know what they’re missing

FITNESS

Today was supposed to be a family run, but my teenagers sadly had plans.  M went to his high school football game, and A took her friend out for dinner to celebrate his birthday.  So instead of a family run, it was just me and the little one!  We did two miles, and I swear she smoked me.  I was giggling the whole time as she sprinted ahead of me over and over again.

after our run, looking very pleased (if not a little crazy-haired) in her new running outfit

Earlier in the day, I did two workout videos.  I knew the family run would be shorter as they’re building up (doing the couch-to-5K program), so it was either workout twice, or do the 2 miler, and then go out again for another run.  I’m glad I did the videos since it would have impeded my ability to make dinner if I’d gone out again.

LIFE

I met my first celebrity yesterday!  I was boarding my flight from La Guardia to home, and Tamara Tunie was on my flight.  Better known as the ME from Law and Order SVU.  She was really sweet, and much prettier in real life!  I should have asked her for a picture….

D met me at the airport, we ran some errands, and then picked up the birthday girl at school.  She had swimming and didn’t want to skip, so we all went out to dinner, then did presents and cake, then bed.

I took today off to catch up on housework, laundry, meal planning, grocery shopping, etc.  It was very needed, and a nice chill day.  It’s going to be a jam-packed weekend, so having today to catch up was wonderful.

I didn’t get to talk much about my trip, and since it was predominantly work related, that’s no big loss for any of my readers.  However, a few cool things DID happen….

I got to visit my sister and her family.  We took the kids swimming at the Y and had a great time.  C (my sister) swam some laps while I played with M and G.  My parents surprised us all by popping in at her house around noon.  We hung out, and then C and I left in one car and her hubby and the kids in another as we went to our cousin’s house for the GB Packer game and taco bar!

S (our cousin) made sure there was plenty of vegan black beans for me, which was sweet.  There were 4 cousins there plus their kids and spouses.  It was absolutely amazing and did give me that pang of wishing I lived closer.  I love VA and it’s my home, but WI is my home too, and I miss it.

I even got to talk to my Uncle B.  He lives in FL, and happened to call his daughter P (my cousin), and when he found out I was there, wanted to talk to me.  We have a very silly relationship.  I post pictures of my food on FB, and he comments on how awful everything look and how he’d die if he had to eat my food.  And I tell him his food is killing him, and we continue the banter.  It amuses all the rest of the family too.  Then I threaten to unfriend him for being rude, and he tells me he loves me.  See….silly.

The other cool thing was going to a conference with 14000 attendees and finding someone who reads my blog!  It’s a long and convoluted story, but I tweeted something about being at the conference, she saw it, works for the company that was hosting the conference, and told me she’s a reader!  She emailed me a ton of veg-friendly restaurants in the area, and when I’m back in October, we’re going to have dinner together.  Crazy but totally cool.

So here…pictures!!!!  (sorry the post is so long!)

M opening a package from my Dad. GOLF CLUBS! He’s very excited…not only does he really want to play, but he got my Dad’s old clubs, which is just neat.

R playing with her legos…with her Minecraft Steve box head she got from M

me and my cousin S. You know how your first best friends are your cousins? Yeah….she’s still that cool.

my folks, sister, niece, and nephew. LUNCH TIME!!!!

S and a gaggle of children. 3 of them are her’s and one is my cousin P’s little one. All decked out in their Packer gear!

 

 

Crissie’s A Bad Blogger

Okay, true confessions time. Don’t worry…it’s nothing seedy like the old TV show!

I have thought about blogging in the past two weeks since my last post. I thought about it nearly every day. I had every intention of doing it too. It’s just that my execution has been somewhat lacking.

No good excuse, but it’s just been incredibly busy. Back to school for the kids, trying to find our groove again with that, and then a nearly week-long work trip (I’m on the flight heading back home as I write this).

So….no good excuse other than my time management skills are apparently not as awesome as I think they are!

Here’s some recaps….

FOOD

Mostly great here, even with all the traveling. We’re getting back into the habit of meal planning and shopping in advance to make weekday dinner times easier. I’m planning a lot of crock pot and pressure cooker meals when the temps start to drop. D’s still the consummate grill master, and is taking a lot of the heavy lifting of cooking during the week off my shoulders.

I’m used to doing Sunday bulk cooking for MY foods, but I’m going to start experimenting doing that for the family. Can I prep a lasagna, stick it in the freezer, and then just good and go? Dunno…but I plan to find out!

This week I’ve been in WI. I brought my Tribest personal blender with me, some Vega packets, and breakfast has been whipped up easy in my hotel room. I picked up some bananas, and my cousin gave me a huge bag of fresh watermelon when I saw her on Sunday.

The conference I was at caters to all dietary concerns, so I had no problems eating there. Veggie chili and pumpkin hummus wraps were high on my list of fun meals.

Dinners out were always checked, but stayed safe with lots of salads. All in all, navigated well without resorting to the less than healthier fare.

FITNESS

Running and hot yoga are still reigning supreme in my life at the moment. The was a nice hot yoga studio near my hotel that had early classes (5am), and I did that two days, as well as running three days on the hotel treadmill.

I’m looking forward to being back home (at least for a couple weeks) and hitting the weights again. I also hope we have more family runs on the horizon.

LIFE

I really touched on things earlier, but it’s just been incredibly busy. The kids are all back in school, which is both great and challenging. My oldest A has an internship in the costume making department of a theater group. It’s great for her, and she goes twice a week.

I now have 3 nights per week that are tied up until 10 pm, so my weeks are now more hectic than they have been in a long time.

Oh, and I have 4 trips coming before mid-November. One to Vegas (HELLO GIRLS WEEK), and three to WI for software training. Based on some conversations I had earlier this week, I may also be heading to CA for more training in Dec. I’m nervous about the disruption all this travel and long nights will have, which is why it’s so critical that I hit that groove with getting everything I have to do balanced with everything I want to do!

I’ll figure it out, and Crissie will go from Bad Blogger to hyper-organized super woman!