Friday, April 29, 2011

effing effity eff eff eff

This morning I got a flat tire.  I've never changed a tire, but hey, I'm a grown woman.  I can do it.  Except that I can't.  Stupid blankety-blank lug nuts are on so tight that they won't budge.  So much for the sense of accomplishment I was looking forward to.  I hate that I'm going to have to rely on BB to change my effing tire for me.  Makes me crying mad, almost to the point where I'd ride my bike to a store to buy a breaker bar. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cheater Chili

So things are starting to heat up around here, and I want to sneak in a couple of wintery dishes before we hit triple digits.  It's supposed to dip back down to the 70s on Saturday, so I'll be making this, the only recipe I've come up with myself.  Cheater Chili.  Born of laziness and hatred of that lingering smell of onion on your hands that could scare potential suitors away while I was in college, Cheater Chili has actually become my favorite chili.

To be honest, the measurements listed are guesses.  I just tailor the recipe to what I have in the freezer/pantry and how long I want to eat leftovers. 

1 lb ground beef, browned (I usually get 93% lean conventional beef, or whatever is on sale if I get organic beef)
1 can low sodium or no salt added red kidney beans, rinsed (make sure you go with the low sodium, since you'll be adding a lot later on)
1 can chili beans (cheat #1.  I get mild) OR 1 can of any other bean, like pinto or black, rinsed (resulting in lower sodium.  The end result will still have a lot of flavor)
Salsa (cheat #2.  Get whatever heat level you like and whatever level of chunkiness you like for the veggies.  I like a lot of veg and very chunky, and often use a large jar of mild, chunky salsa + some smoother, mild salsa to thin the whole batch out)
1 packet of Chili-O or something similar (cheat #3.  I get mild or original.  Add slowly and taste.  Some are quite salty and you won't need the whole packet.)

Heat up the works.  Garnish with avocado or sour cream or grated cheese.  Use to top baked potatoes.  Anything goes.

Las Vegas Park Review #6: Nevada Trails Park

Nevada Trails Park - Corner of Mardon Ave and Rosanne St

- Fenced playground
- Separate playgrounds for ages 2-5 and over 5
- Four baby swings
- Clean (other than the dog poo issue on the grass)
- Courts for older kids/adults
- Fitness course (didn't see it until we drove away, but it looked great for an adult outdoor workout)
- A lot of grass*

- No shade
- *While there's a lot of grass, it was littered with too much dog poo to be an inviting place to play (although to be fair, we didn't venture far out into the grassy area after I saw the first 3 or 4 messes)
- This park neighbors an elementary school and is impossible to use when school gets out
- We were there around 2:30 on a weekday afternoon, and 4 or 5 teens were hanging out on and near the toddler equipment using foul language.  Another mom asked them to stop and was met with blank stares.  She eventually left, as did we. 

open space
big kid playground equipment
toddler playground equipment


tennis courts
fitness equipment

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hungry and cheap?

It wasn't necessarily intentional, but we've been eating frugally this week:
Johnsonville Zesty Italian Sausage Pasta - I substituted turkey Italian sausage and crumbled it, rather than slicing it.
Crock Pot Black Bean Soup - I used no salt added canned beans, excluded the bay leaves, and cooked it on the stove.
Cucumber Salad
Mediterranean Muffins

Pretty good all around.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend

Easter weekend was also the Rockabilly Weekender at the Orleans Hotel and Casino here in Vegas.  It's possibly the only rad weekend to stay at the Orleans in the whole year (disclaimer:  I've never stayed at The Orleans.  It might be fantastic.  I'm just saying "rad" is not a word oft-heard in conjunction with The Orleans.).  Unfortunately, we forgot about it until the last day (Easter Sunday), so we didn't see much.  Basically all you can see for free is a few rooms of vendors, but the people-watching is highly entertaining.  I agree that it's sort of lame to just go to the free events, but while we'd love to hear the bands and check out the car show, competitions, and fashion show, they do not sell one-day passes.  They only sell passes to the whole event (4 days).  Since they sold out on the 4-day passes, their policy is unlikely to change in the future.  That doesn't really work for me with my work schedule, the holiday, and my son being so young, but next year we plan on going to the car show (that event, alone, does have a 1-day pass). 

Anyway, I'm totally in awe of the ladies who can pull off the various Rockabilly looks.  Let's be frank.  My body isn't curvy in the right places to rock those dresses (although maybe I could do more of a Rosie the Riveter thing).  Then there's the hair and makeup.  Yowza.  I'm utterly incompetent in that arena.   I failed at the two curls up, one curl down bangs of the eighties (though in retrospect, I'm thankful for that). 

Here are a few pictures.  The yellow booth in the last picture was a pomade booth, and those guys had the best mustaches I've ever seen collectively. 

Another awesome Vegas event is the High Rollers Weekend scooter rally.  BB wants nothing more than vintage Vespa.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The price of babysitting

This morning I took C back to the doctor (for a lingering ear infection).  As we sat in the sick child waiting area, a little girl came over and asked if she could play with C.  Her mom and grandma were in the well-child waiting area, and didn't seem to mind (!), so I said yes.  Then I basically babysat her for an hour.  She was very sweet and well-meaning, but she kept wanting to pick C up even after I asked her not to.  C was getting visibly upset.  The cost of an hour of babysitting?  Apparently no more than a co-pay.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Las Vegas Park Review #5: Willows Park

Willows Park - 2775 Desert Marigold Lane

- Acres of grass
- Nice baseball fields and basketball courts
- Quaint sculptures from children's stories appear along a fantastic (yet short) walking path that winds through the neighborhood.
- Two playgrounds
- Quite clean
- Felt safe, even when walking through the tunnel that goes beneath Town Center Drive
- Birds galore (not in a gross, pigeon way, but in a beautiful song bird way)
- Covered parking!! 

- No baby swings.  Actually, no swings at all.
- No toddler playground, although we had plenty of fun on the bigger kid playgrounds (it was windy and early on a weekday afternoon, so we had the place almost to ourselves)

Notes:  I didn't see restrooms, but I suspect they were at the swimming pool/community center building.  I don't know if the general public has access to them when the pool and/or building aren't open, which was the case when we were there.

One of the baseball fields
First of two playgrounds, note the lion statue to the right of the tree
The tortoise and the hare along the walking path
At the end of the walking path is a secured access gate into a community trail.  I SO wanted to go in there.
The second of the playgrounds.  Pardon the angle, I tried to take it quickly, before a little girl went in the shot.
Didn't want to freak out her mom.
Grassy area behind the community pool

Earth Day 2011

In honor of Earth Day, here are my favorite Earth-friendly products.
A Slice of Organic Life by Shererazade Goldsmith.  I love this book as much for its idealistic projects (raising pigs an chickens) as for its more realistic projects, like container gardening and homemade butter. Maybe you could be extra Earth-friendly and get the ebook or check it out at the library.

The Bamboo Bottle, $25.  The next time I need to replace my water bottle, this will be mine....assuming I can figure out where to find it.  It's not currently offered online.  Constructed of bamboo and glass, the bottle is free of chemicals, easy to clean, and easy on the Earth. 

Method Wood for Good, around $5.  It's safe for my family, it works, and it smells fantastic, too.

Mrs. Meyer's Countertop Spray, $3.99.  I make a lot of my own cleaning products, but this is a good alternatvie.  Natural, earth friendly, cruelty-free, and effective.  Nice fragrances, too.

 Whole Foods reusable shopping bags, $.99-about $2.00.  These are the best I've found in terms of durability and volume.  I love how I can easily fit them over my shoulder, they hold bigger items like cereal boxes, and that they're made of recycled materials.  Plus, if one does give out, WF will replace it for free.  There is one drawback.  It's my understanding that these bags are made and shipped from China.  That's a pretty serious drawback, but I think that a bag that I'll actually use, and use for years, is better than a locally-sourced but inferior bag that I won't use.  It's your call.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Las Vegas Park Review #4: Summerlin's South Tower Park

South Tower Park at Park Vista Drive and Vista Center Drive, Summerlin

- Separate play areas for big kids and little kids
- Plenty of grass
- Several shade trees
- There's a water play space, although it wasn't on when we were there
- Nice equipment
- Shade over some of the little kids' equipment
- Felt safe (it was a Sunday afternoon, though)

- The circling ice cream trucks blaring their jarring music.  Vultures.
- Bored teenagers were hanging out at the park.  They were too big for the playground equipment and used foul language and threw a football at one another.  Hard.
- Overflowing garbage bins
- Just two baby swings

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Las Vegas Park Review #3: Gardens Park

Garden's Park, Summerlin

This park is in our old neighborhood and has some sentimental value, but it really is a great park.

- A lot of grass and many shady areas to land for awhile
- Nice sandy area for playing
- Nice playground equipment for very little kids with a slide, and imagination play area
- Tuesday evening farmers' market
- Nice tennis, sand volleyball and basketball courts, as well as a roller hockey rink
- Bocce and shuffleboard courts, horseshoe pits
- Has always felt safe to me
- Usually quite clean

- Just one baby swing (!)
- Very busy on weekends
- The bathrooms aren't great

Monday, April 18, 2011

Las Vegas Park Review #2: Western Trails Park

Western Trails Park

- Includes an equestrian park, so we often walk over to see if any horses are out and about. 
- There are peacocks in the area.  I say that's cool.
- Can be on the way to Target if we go to our second-favorite Target.  And Golden Spoon.  Yes, I categorize that as a "pro." 
- Generally clean (though I haven't used the restrooms)
- Feels safe - I've never witnessed any spooky types there, although I don't believe there is any type of security* (see below)

- Just two baby swings
- Playground equipment is geared towards older children
- A broken bench or two
- Short, rough grass and few shady grassy spots for lounging
- Grassy area is small and almost always being used by adults and big kids for football, frisbee, etc. (not great for a toddler)
- *Sort of desolate during weekdays, which can feel creepy

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Las Vegas Park Review #1: Mountain's Edge Exploration Peak Park

So over the past few months we've been on a hunt for a great park for our 13-month-old.  It's sort of tough here in Las Vegas.  Summerlin has a ton of parks, but otherwise there's not much to get excited about.  The public schools lock up their grounds, so we can't even access the slide, etc, at the elementary school that's one block away.  (Is that common?  They don't do that in Nebraska.)  Anyway, here's the wish list for The Ideal Park:

- Baby swings.  Preferably several.
- A lot of grass to run around in.  Preferably soft grass.  (I know, I know.  That's not Earth-friendly here in the desert, but it's the wish list so I can wish for it, right?)
- Slides for little kids. 
- Separate play spaces for little kids and big kids.
- Zero-depth water play spaces.
- Shade.
- Sand.  Not open desert "sand."
- Clean & safe. 
- Bathrooms that don't horrify me.
- Security.
- Oft-emptied garbage bins.
- Other activity centers for little kids, like those things they sit on that are essentially atop big springs.

We've been to several now, here's the first:

Mountain's Edge Exploration Peak Park
1. This park has fantastic grass.  Lush, green grass, and a lot of it.  C ran and ran in it.
2. Each time we've been there I've seen at least one, but usually two security guards with bikes.  I've never seen any unsavory sorts out there or even any rowdy teenagers. 
3. While people have their dogs there often, I've never seen much evidence that they don't pick up after them. 
4.  There's a nice-ish area with sand, although it's not really the sand I meant, it's pretty nice little area.
5.  There's a water feature, although it hasn't been running in the times we've been out there.  It's probably too soon.
6.  Clean and free of garbage.
7.  Many small shady spots.
8.  Beautiful and well-maintained plants.
9.  Walking trails, although they're not toddler-friendly.

1.  Just two baby swings.
2.  Playground equipment is geared more towards older kids.  Maybe age 4 and up or so.  It is fantastic equipment, though.
3.  Very busy on weekends. 

We haven't been in the restrooms, but the building looks nice.  Generally a security guard is in the vicinity, too.

water playground

between the tower in the background and the rope jungle gym is a slide that goes through rock

Surprise successes in the kitchen

I needed to head the the grocery store, but hadn't planned anything for the next few nights' dinners, so I printed a few recipes from the first web sites I visted without giving them any more thought. Sometimes it's best not to overthink things. Granted, they are sites I trust, but still. I had most of the ingredients on hand, so there's the added bonus.

Warm White Bean and Spinach Salad (from How Sweet It Is)
Sour Cream Noodle Bake (from The Pioneer Woman Cooks)

BB liked them both, too, and C thought the extra cannellini beans were fantastic.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Happy Friday

Ingrid Michaelson, You and I

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Eating, Doing

So we have been eating and I have been doing things lately.  Nothing's appeared here, but I assure you, it's true.  C's eating more and more of what we're having, sans salt.  Here are some of the things we've had lately for which I can link to recipes:

Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes (C ate, too) from the Williams Sonoma site (a go-to source for me)
Halibut a la Provencal over Mixed Greens (from Nov 2010 Cooking Light)
Chicken Stuffed with Spinach, Feta, and Pine Nuts (from Sept 2010 Cooking Light)
Braised Short Ribs in the crock pot  made WITHOUT the beer.  I used low sodium broth instead (C loved this, but we were underwhelmed)
Baked Eggs with Tomatoes, Herbs, & Cream

And what have I accomplished??  I survived C's first actual vomit experience without vomiting myself.  I have a weak stomach, so that's sort of miraculous.  Someone asked me once how you can tell if a baby has vomited or merely spit up.  Let me tell you, if you are not sure, then it was not vomit.  So sorry for mentioning this "accomplishment" if you, too, are squeamish. 

In addition,
- we finished the powder room.  That's been a long time coming, huh?  Anyway, I'll post some pictures after we hang a picture and I find a rug.  Maybe we aren't really done, then. 
- I bought a new car.  I had the old one for 10 years.  Trusty old girl. 
- we had C's 1st birthday party
- I organized the million recipes I've printed on full sheets over the years into a binder.  Still need to add sections (i.e. "appetizers," "soups," etc)
- C had his first dental appointment
- C and I participated in a project conducted by the UNLV psychology department

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Okay, so there shouldn't be an exclamation point in the title.  C was sick, so we couldn't go to Pet this year.  Ho-hum.  Anyway, I have it on good authority that there's some pretty awesome pictures, interviews, and performances here, on the Mix 94.1 site.  More to come, I suspect, so keep checking back.  I was so sad to miss it, and especially Andy Grammer.  I think we'll be hearing a lot from him in the future.  What say you?  Here's a cover....

Oh, and C is much better now, thank you.