Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Just a few Bellagio pictures

I loved the Chihuly sculpture in the lobby. I think I could have look at it all day, especially because my feet were killing me from all the time spent on The Strip and I needed a break! Also, I'm trying to figure out why I want to eat the flowers. It's either because they remind me of the edible flowers in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or jolly ranchers.

I missed the conservatory the last time I visited the Bellagio. Big mistake! You know what else? I just love poppies! It's because they look like crepe paper! It's like, "You thought this was flower, but it's paper. Sike. It really is a flower."

There was this neat walk way in the conservatory with "water arches." That's not a real term, but the pictures and video below will show you what I mean. They were neat.

The Bellagio is so romantic. See how in love we are... (ps. Alicia, I borrowed your shirt)

I was curious, so I just checked how much a room would be at the Bellagio for tomorrow night. The least expensive is $359. We're spending $200 for the five days at the place we're staying. We don't have dancing fountains, though, so the price difference makes a ton of sense.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Spring Break in Vegas: Day 1

Hi, this is Rob from Vacation. Las Vegas has been pretty fun/relaxing. Here are some things that we did on Sunday.

Church: We went to the Greenbriar Ward because it was the closest one to our resort. It turned out to be one of the best testimony meetings that I have been to. All the people were quirky/embarrassing but I could tell that they loved each other and they had awesome testimonies. I'm glad we didn't decide to do vacation church (although we did pop out after Sacrament).

After getting ready, we prepared for our trip to the Hoover Dam. We were pretty hungry so we stopped in Boulder City for some food. We were looking for a dive that wasn't too self aware of its retro feel. We finally decided on Mel's Diner.

A good choice. Mel's Famous Steak sandwich was totally awesome (and the fries weren't bad either).

After Mel's we were on our way to the Dam. However, it turns out that there was a lot of Dam traffic. It took us another hour or so to go 10 miles (You may be able to see the traffic build up behind us in this picture). That gave Steph plenty of time to sleep.

Here is a picture of the construction project to alleviate the Dam traffic. Thinking about driving on this bridge sometime in the future freaks me out too much.

When we got to the Dam, we decided to take the electrical plant tour. I liked it when the tour guide took us down into the dam. I wanted to explore these tunnels so bad.

I learned that lot of water runs through these pipes -- I can't remember where the water goes. I think it goes to makes the power.

After we saw where the water went, we saw where the power was made. I had serious issues with this room. There seemed to be very little between me and the 100+ foot drop to the marble floors below. Needless to say, I also had problems with looking over the edge of the Dam.

Stephanie, on the other hand, does not have problems looking over the edge.

Steph did have problems with this spillway tunnel. This is where the water goes if the water in Lake Mead gets too high. It reminded me of a water slide, a la the Howlin' Tornado at Great Wolf Lodge. I think it reminded Steph of the Howlin Tornado as well, hence why she doesn't like it.

Overall, the Hoover Dam was really excellent and a marvel of Engineering. I can totally tell that I am going to be one of those dads that drags my kids there on summer vacations.

Later on, we drove to the Silverton Casino to check out the aquarium there. It wasn't too big, but they had a bunch of sting rays and sharks.

Then to end the night, we filled my childhood dream by going to Circus Circus. My mom always tells me that Circus Circus is always the place that I wanted to go back to. I can see why. The place was loaded with kids -- crazy kids. We saw some Circus performers. Like these magician dudes from Russia.

I was convinced that the Russian Magician man hated his life. He didn't look like he was having fun. But the old drummer on the right is my favorite ever.

Oh yeah, and I totally won big.

Now I am nagging Stephanie over and over to let me go back to Circus Circus.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lights off in Vegas

We're in Las Vegas for Spring Break!

We got off the plane and drove onto the Strip at 8:45. Earth hour started at 8:30 - so it was a little dark in Vegas, pretty weird to see:

I'm glad we had heard about Earth Hour before we witnessed it in the city of lights (not Paris). What would we have thought? Power Outage? Terrorists? Ocean and his eleven? No one else on the road seemed concerned though. I don't know what it would have looked like if they were concerned, but I had my window down, just in case they pulled up beside us to ask.

By the way, we got a free upgrade for our rental car and we chose a Prius. I think Rob has finally figured out how to start it. Before that it was guess work, we would just push a series of buttons and eventually it would turn on.

Monday, March 16, 2009

City of Ember

So after a crazy weekend of getting ready for our fun houseguests: Jacob and Lisa, who are here for Alicia's wedding. Steph and I sat down to watch a movie that we have had from Netflix for about two weeks. It is called City of Ember, and it was a relatively obscure kids movie that came out late last year.

I am just going to say that I love this movie. It was by no means perfect -- there are a ton of holes in the narrative and the conflict towards the end isn't very satisfying. But underground worlds are awesome -- come to think of it, I love any movie where the main characters are trying to find an escape to the world around them.

In thinking about it, City of Ember reminds me of The 5th Element, only underground, and made for kids. While we were watching it I commented to Steph that it was the type of movie that our kids are going to watch over and over and most adults won't understand why.

Oh, and Bill Murray is in the film. And he's awesome.

Netflix it.

Friday, March 13, 2009

eat what we eat

I should have waited a week to make this recipe, it's green and perfect for St. Patrick's Day. It was the first time making pesto for me, and although it's not the traditional pesto, it was pretty exciting to find that it's really easy. Plus, I love using my food processor. You'll find the recipe on the Everyday Food website. It's too bad I don't take good pics of the food - when food is pretty it's so fun to eat!


Don't worry, you're looking at bread in the next picture. Apparently, our bread machine has become a little temperamental. Or maybe I was supposed to know not to run the bread machine on the dryer (where it can be out of the way) while the dryer was also being run? At least - that's the only thing I can figure out. Please don't ask if we ate it anyway.

Rob and I make bread instead of buy it, I don't even know how much we save, if anything- we intend to figure it out sometime. It's not like bread is that expensive, but this bread is tasty and hearty. We especially love it for curry grilled cheese sandwiches.

Here is the recipe that usually works, I guess you'll only be able to use make it if it has a bread machine, and I don't know how well recipes work between different machines, but here is it. It's good (all but this one time), and very seedy.
3/4 c water
1 T butter
2 T molasses
1-1/2 c flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c rolled oats
3/4 t salt
1 T each of sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and poppy seeds
1-1/2 T sugar
1 t quick-rise or bread machine yeast

Choose a setting for small loaf wheat bread.

While we're at it, here's another bread machine recipe that we like

Salsa Cornmeal Bread:
1/4 c water
1 c thick salsa
1-1/2 T olive or vegetable oil
3/4 t salt
1-1/2 T sugar
2 c flour
3/4 c blue or yellow cornmeal
1/2 - 1 T minced jalepeno pepper (optional)
1-1/2 t quick-rise or bread machine yeast

choose a setting for a small loaf

The last recipe to share is for a delicious and filling breakfast "pudding." Seriously delicious. Seriously filling. It's a weight watchers recipe, which explains some of the ingredients. In case you're interested - serving size is 3/4 cups (you'll be full, don't worry) and it's 3 points.

1-1/2 cups water
1 cup whole wheat couscous
pinch salt
3 cups fat-free milk
2 T packed brown sugar
1/2 t grated orange zest
1/4 cup fat-free egg substitute
1/4 cup wheat germ
3/4 t vanilla extract
optional and not included in points: sliced almonds and/or craisins for garnish

1. Boil water in large saucepan over high heat. Stir in couscous and salt. Reduce the heat and simmer until the water is absorbed, abt 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and fluff with a fork. Cover and let stand abt 5 minutes. Meanwhile, toast wheat germ in a frying pan over medium heat - it toasts quickly!
2. Whisk milk, brown sugar, and orange zest into the couscous. Bring to a boil over med-high heat, whisking frequently, scraping the bottom of pan to break up lumps and avoid scalding. Reduce heat to med-low and cook, stirring frequently until mixture is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat.
3. Whisk together 1/2 c. of the couscous mixture and the egg substitute in a small bowl. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring, until the pudding is thick and creamy, about 5 minutes longer. Add craisins at this point, if desired, so they can plump.
4. Stir in wheat germ and vanilla. Serve topped with almonds, if using.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Dear Casper,

My husband and I ate at your restaurant this weekend. We ordered the catfish po boy with sweet potato fries and hush puppies, it was all very delicious! Not only was the food good, but the place is pretty cool - the big windows and string of lights are what attracted us to eat there - and once we stepped inside, the tiny eating space and gator heads made it even cooler.

We were just wondering... if we recommend your restaurant to all of our friends and bring our out-of-town friends to eat there, then will you say hi to us and give us a free beignet? Because, although we really liked the food and the atmosphere, we did feel a little left-out when you came out to talk to all the diners except us. It's okay, don't feel bad, we'll still come back - we'll just be wanting more attention next time.

Thanks for listening. And thanks for the food (the hush puppies were my favorite!), maybe next time we'll order the gator.

The Nylands