Thursday, December 22, 2011

Las Vegas for the First Time

Once again we stuck with our recent tradition of traveling around Christmas. Usually we are gone during Christmas, but we decided to get a tree this year and stay home. We went to Las Vegas for the first time. I thought I would hate it, considering I don't like "nightlife" that much and I expected to get tired of the artificial-ness. I actually really liked it. I loved seeing Cirque Du Soleil twice. I really liked Mystere, but wasn't a big fan of Ka. Anyway, there were more shows I would have liked to see, but we ran out of time. There were lots of things to do for the Holidays. We went to several hotels - The Bellagio, The Wynn, The Venetian, and Caesars Palace. With the last two being really cheesy and fake, while the others were actually really pretty. We LOVED the Cosmopolitan. It was quite entertaining just to walk around and see all the art, bars and restaurants. It was all very entertaining to look at.

We got there on Friday night and went out to dinner at Holsteins, a fancy burger place. I don't think I've ever eaten that much food. We started out with a chocolate peanut milkshake (alcoholic of course) and deep fried pickles,  then we all ordered burgers, which were huge and very good. When I was definitely ready to be done eating, the waiter surprised us with desserts made by Carlos from Top Chef. I am a huge fan of that show and could not miss an opportunity to try them.

On Saturday we took a drive out to the dessert to visit some friends and their dogs. The scenery was really pretty just a few minutes outside of Las Vegas. We got back and met up with the family for Tapas at Firefly. This place was okay. Not amazing. Everything was really spicy and just average tasting. After Finley went to bed, we went out to a Cirque show. Ben walked home pushing me in a wheel chair. Oh yeah, I tore/pinched my meniscus. It turns out it's OK to walk, but I didn't want to risk ruining my knee so I got pushed all around Vegas.

On Sunday we toured the Bellagio and Caesars Palace and then went to Mandalay Bay to the aquarium. See Vegas is really kid friendly! Then we went out to Ethel M Chocolates to  see the light display and get some handmade truffles. So good!  We had to see the "Winter in Venice" show at the Venetian. This was the cheesiest thing we saw in Vegas. I really can't even explain it, but it was bad. The only interesting thing was the ice skating rink made from plastic instead of ice. Then on Monday we started out with a huge breakfast at Hash House Agogo, where we were served portions that were so massive. I ordered a hash, which was served in a full sized cast iron skillet. Ben's Fried chicken benedict was very tall. To keep Finley entertained we then went to the Lied Childrens Museum. She loved it. It wasn't as good as others I've been to, but it's always fun to give her the opportunity to explore and not have to be strapped into her stroller. Later we went to an early dinner at China Poblano at the Cosmopolitan for some Chinese & Mexican food, owned by Jose Andres and then another Cirque. We were busy!

We couldn't leave Vegas without trying a buffet. Ugh. I won't do that again. We went to the Wynn buffet for lunch. It was gross. The food was okay - typical buffet/cruise food. Nothing special but lots of choices. After another drive to the desert, we got our plane back to Seattle!

Surprisingly, I can't wait to go back!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Our Holiday Display

Our first full size Christmas tree. We got it from the Forestry Dept at UW. Not the prettiest tree in the world, but really fun to decorate and see our collection of ornaments. We also have two Menorahs. Despite not being religious at all, we'll to celebrate some generic American version of both Christmas and Chanukah. Lots of presents, baking, Santa, making wreaths, candle lighting. We haven't celebrated Chanukah before, but we have some Christmas traditions. We used to travel every Christmas, but when we are home we plan an elaborate dinner and breakfast for Christmas morning. We sit around all day in our PJs, slowly opening presents throughout the day. We usually don't leave the house and just cook and relax. I'd like to start some new holiday traditions that will be fun for Finley. I need some ideas!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A girl with personality

I am way behind on taking photos, but did manage to get some of Finley this morning. It's so much fun to watch her personality come out. She has lots of opinions about things now. She likes to pick out her clothes, especially which shoes she will wear. Her favorites are shiny magenta colored mary janes. It's also quite amazing how many things she can identify. It's hard to understand things she says, but it you ask her to point to anything in the house or go get something and she knows it....even if I've never taught her. She points to EVERTHING and says "this?" or "that", wanting to know what it is. We put up holiday decorations this week. We've got stockings, a Christmas tree and two Menorahs. She knows all of them...although she is slightly afraid of the tree. She points at it and says "HOT". She is really into her Dad right now and gets extremely excited when he gets home. Ben's not sure what to think because she points at him and laughs, saying "dada" dada" while laughing. She still loves books and toys that are challenging. She is also still totally fine with being left with people other than Ben or I, which is very nice. We get to go to flyball tournaments and don't have to worry about her missing us too much.

We are going to Las Vegas for the first time (for me) next week! I probably won't like it, but I'm looking forward to laying around and doing nothing but eating, walking around and relaxing for a few days. Oh and also Cirque Du Soleil X 2! Very excited about that!

I haven't done anything to get ready for our move, other than get rid of more things this week. That helps right? Time is going by really fast right now and it's a bit overwhelming. The countdown continues to find out if Ben gets an interview. We should know in a month or less. 

 My owl photos got slightly of from 1 per month. I took these today and as of Nov 28th Finley is 19 months. I told her to smile for the camera and she did! What a good girl!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Small Thanksgiving

We had a small thanksgiving for the first time at our house. Or the first time I (with a little bit of help) cooked everything. I kept it pretty standard. I made a roasted turkey which was flavored with butter, thyme, garlic, onions, salt and pepper. It came out fairly well. The first time we took it out it was undercooked and after another 1/2 hour if was better. I've had better, but I also realized that I don't love turkey all that much. I'd love to try another main course next year, maybe brisket or some sort of pork or beef roast. I also made roasted vegetables (fennel, potatoes and Brussels sprouts), sourdough stuffing, gravy, blanched green beans with lemon and shallots and homemade dinner rolls. And for dessert we had a French apple tart with cinnamon maple whipped cream. My favorite thing from the meal was the stuffing and the gravy.

The apple tart looked the prettiest :)

Sourdough Stuffing 
(adapted from a recipe by Dave Lieberman)


  • 1-pound loaf sourdough bread
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/2-inch thick in both directions
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 to 4 stalks celery with leaves, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • About 10 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped from the stems
  • 10 to 12 fresh sageleaves, chopped 
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 2-quart baking dish and set aside.

Cut or tear the bread into 1-inch cubes and spread it evenly on 2 baking sheets. Toast the bread in the oven until completely dry and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and a few pinches of salt and saute, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add celery, onion, 2 tablespoons butter, and thyme. Once the butter has melted, cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Add sage and remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Add chicken broth to skillet and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste
Transfer toasted bread cubes to a large bowl and add the walnuts and cranberries. Pour the chicken broth mixture over the bread cubes and toss to combine until the bread cubes absorb the liquid. Pour the mixture into the greased baking dish, and sprinkle with parsley. Bake in the center of the oven until heated through and the top is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool about 15 minutes before serving.

Overall we had a nice relaxing Thanksgiving at home with my parents. I cooked all day Wednesday and Thursday. We watched movies, had constant fires in the fireplace and stayed out of the nasty, cold rain. Ben was gone all day Saturday at an agility trial. My parents and I checked out the Seattle Childrens Museum, an Etsy craft show and then went to the YMCA for a swim. And of course Sunday was flyball practice and back to our regular lives.