Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Oh Hardy!

I know. The time of the year when I theoretically have the most 'free' time I completely slack off in blogging. Life has been pretty busy this summer but it has also been a time of a lot of growth and amazing opportunities. One of the biggest changes is that we became parents! Meet Hardy, our 3-year-old Maltese-Terrier mix (though I've also been told long-haired chihuahua):

I know, he is pretty adorable.

Though he only weighs 8 lbs, he has been quite the handful. We quickly discovered he had pretty severe isolation anxiety. He was able to escape from a variety of baby gates and was generally frantic and unhappy when he was alone. He was rescued from a hoarding situation so we don't think he had ever been alone before. We hired a trainer and started working with him. He has gotten so much better! We can go about 5, 5 and a half hours where he is sleeping/laying down while we're gone. While it isn't up to the 8 hours it will need to be once the school year starts, we are so encouraged to have this improvement! 
He likes to keep me company in his chair while I work. He is
wearing his thundershirt here- helps with the isolation anxiety!
He has definitely made himself at home and has quite the personality! While at first he was very wary around Matt, he has warmed up to him considerably and will keep him company if Matt's the only one home. However, once I'm home or if my lap is available, you better believe he is my dog. We have found that he loves the garden store (seriously, he was prancing around it the other day he was so happy), peanut butter (but what dog doesn't?), and makes dinosaur noises. He doesn't bark (really, unless we're gone) but he makes little screeches like a dinosaur when he is super excited and wants our attention (typically after we get home).

This was the first time Hardy got in Matt's lap voluntarily. HUGE deal!

Yeah, he kind of likes me...

While he has caused us to adjust our lifestyle and schedule, he is definitely worth it. I mean, how can you not love that face??

Yes, everyone should have more Hardy pictures.
Doesn't he look comfortable?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Fourth of July!

I hope everyone had a great weekend celebrating our country's independence! We hosted Matt's (mostly) entire family for the weekend and couldn't have had a better time. We didn't know how it would go for a couple of reasons: 1) We were going to have 17 people over and we weren't sure how our new, shy dog would react (Oh, I need a post on Hardy, don't I??) and 2) Our AC downstairs broke Thursday evening. Yes. In Texas. Over 4th of July weekend. The joys of homeownership, right? 

I will spare you the suspense and let you know it all worked out. Even though we had a second location we could use if needed, we were able to make our AC limp along for the weekend and it never felt too, too hot! Our AC is fixed as of this writing (Wednesday afternoon), so here is hoping it sticks for the rest of the summer...

But anyway, back to the 4th. We all had a great time hanging out, playing games, playing with my adorable 5-month old niece, and eating. I am really enjoying hosting people in our home and so glad we bought this particular house with that in mind. Even though we had 17 people in the house, it never felt too crowded and people were able to spread out and be comfortable. There were also some fun nerf battles that happened, too, because cousins :)

Here are some pictures, courtesy of my mother-in-law, because I was a bit too busy to think about breaking out my camera. So glad she shared these with me as I love looking through them. I hope you do, too!

Because when one of the cousins owns a unicorn onesie, you have to :)
Father & son both wearing fox shirts
Based on this picture, you would think we only ate healthy.
This doesn't include the 3 different types of cookies, 2 kinds
of brownies, 2 pans of apple crisp, and vanilla ice cream that
was also available :)

Hardy and baby Bethany were quite interested in one another, but
neither knew what to make of the other. So cute! 
Bench pressing of the youngest cousin
Avocado is pretty delicious!

Bethany and the great grandmother  :)
Evidence that Hardy can indeed sit on other people's laps besides
Matt or mine. I wouldn't have believed it, either.
No 4th of July post would be complete without fireworks :)

Monday, June 13, 2016

Vegas: The Food

Congratulations, you made it through all of my trip recaps! For today's main event- food! When I research a trip, I tend to spend a decent amount of time in researching good places to eat. Sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor are a huge help and we have had pretty good luck in finding delicious restaurants while we travel. This trip was certainly no different, though there were a few misses due mainly to poor service. 

Lesson: If you want a nice dinner with good service and good food on the strip, you are going to have to pay at least $50/entree. Otherwise, go off the strip for a good experience.

Given the number of meals we were going to be eating out, we did not want to spend that much so we optimistically made 2 dinner reservations for restaurants that were more 'mid-range' but still not cheap by any means ($25+/entree; Searsucker & Mon Ami Gabi). While the food was good, the service was pretty bad. For example, the servers seemed less than enthusiastic to be there and (I know this sounds petty) they failed to mention it was our anniversary despite it being noted on the reservation. 

However, all of this was in stark contrast to another restaurant we made reservations for which was off the strip and ended up being one of my favorite meals of the trip (Honey Salt). This restaurant was in a more residential neighborhood about 20 minutes away and the service was perfect. The food was also amazing, so win-win! So lesson learned, unless you can really pay the big bucks, for a great dining experience go off the strip!

Anyway, here is a sampling of some of our delicious meals, for those of you who enjoy this kind of thing :)
Delicious BBQ at Rollin Smoke BBQ
This was their original smoker that they had turned into an
aquarium. Yes, there are fish swimming around with the 'meat!'
An appetizer one night of tomato soup with cheese and bacon dumplings at Therapy
Also at the same restaurant, we split this for dinner-
chicken & red velvet waffle sliders. Without a doubt
one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten
and worth every calorie.
One of my favorite restaurants was Honey Salt. We (yes, Matt too!) enjoyed a
delicious appetizer of raw and roasted local fruits and veggies.
We clearly needed it after the meal above :P
Don't worry, we got dessert at Honey Salt, too. Lemon-blueberry bread pudding.
And they celebrated our anniversary by giving us
double dessert- double chocolate brownies! 
We went to Lotus of Siam, a popular Thai restaurant off the strip.
Dude, they don't hold back the spice. I had a northern Thai dish
with chicken and noodles and thought it was spicy.
Until I had Matt's dish which was also from northern Thailand. This was the
epitome of spice but was also delicious! Highly recommend the restaurant!
So one of the restaurants we had bad luck at for dinner ended up having an
amazing brunch (Mon Ami Gabi)! This was Matt's breakfast of apple-topped waffles
with bacon and maple syrup. So good!
The final restaurant we ate at (and the other lackluster one)
was Searsucker. Our delicious appetizer consisted
of homemade biscuits, honey, and butter
And cookies and milk. Yes, the milk came with the cookies. They
were as amazing as they look.
And we finally got to try Sprinkle's cupcakes!
Our chocolate-vanilla cupcake was delicious :)
So there you have it, the reason I am spending a little bit more time working out than normal :P We definitely ate well and enjoyed many memorable meals!

I hope you enjoyed this recap and that it helped show there is far more to Vegas than gambling :)

Friday, June 10, 2016

Vegas: The Other Activities

Because the other posts were getting long, I decided to make a third post with other things we did. Yes, we fit in a lot in 1 week- I'm exhausted just typing all of it! :)

High Roller
Since 2014, Vegas has been able to boast that it has the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, standing at 550 feet tall. We went on a ride around 4 PM and ended up having an entire cabin to ourselves! The entire ride lasted for about 30 minutes and we were able to get a deal by purchasing the tickets online versus at the ticket office, so be sure to do that if you're going. The views were amazing and I definitely recommend it!

Super excited to have our own cabin!

Top Golf
While we do have Top Golfs in DFW, we had yet to do it together. Additionally, the one in Vegas had just opened a couple of weeks prior to our arrival, so it seemed like a great opportunity. Top Golf essentially combines golf with skee-ball-- you try to hit your ball into one of several targets down range. It is insanely fun, even for non-golfers like me!

Not a bad view!
Atomic Testing Museum 
I don't have too many pictures from this, but after we went to the Hoover Dam we went to the Atomic Testing Museum. Las Vegas is very close to the Nevada Test Site, so it was a natural location for this very interesting museum. It walks you through the history of atomic weapons and testing and has several interactive exhibits. We both really enjoyed it and would recommend it (look for a Groupon for admission- makes it that much cheaper). 

Have to know how to defend yourself from radioactive fallout while you're on the farm!

I promise, this is the last of the activity-related posts. But I hope you see how many different things there are to do in this city :)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Vegas: The Indoor Activities

While we did have an amazing time hiking, we also really enjoyed the time we spent indoors. 

Hoover Dam
Since we were so close, we had to go to the Hoover Dam! It was about a 45 minute drive from our condo and we got there about 30 minutes before it opened at 9. I am so glad we did because there was already a line out the door of the visitor center! While you can go to the dam and just pay for parking, if you want to go into the power plant and/or the dam, you have to book a tour. The power plant tour is about 30 minutes long and you can book ahead of time. However, if you want the tour of the dam (which includes the power plant tour), you have to buy it the day of and those tickets are very limited. We were probably within the first 20 families through the door but we were already on the second dam tour of the day! Regardless, it was very well worth it both from what we got to see and what we learned. Did you know that despite what rumors say, there are no bodies buried in the dam? Bodies would have ruined the structural integrity of the wall so they made sure to get the bodies out!

Line to enter the visitor's center before it opened 
Looking at the dam with Lake Mead behind it
Looking down at the power plant area
This was one of two tunnels used to divert the water but is now being used for the power plant
Power plant turbines
This is 1 of 4 vents on the face of the dam 
And this is the view from that vent!
So many long hallways!
Standing on top of the dam, looking towards Lake Mead
Standing on the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge

Battlefield Vegas
For part of Matt's anniversary gift (though I certainly enjoyed it, too!), we went shooting at Battlefield Vegas. This gave us the chance to shoot guns we had never shot before in both semi-automatic and automatic modes. We chose a package deal where we got to shoot a MP5, an Uzi, a M4, and an AK-47. I'm not going to lie, there was a little bit of bruising on our shoulders after shooting the AK-47 in automatic (and I only did that for 15 rounds or so), but it was an experience I won't soon forget! 

With our buzzer waiting for them to get our guns ready

The MP5


And of course the AK-47
The Shows
We did do some more stereotypical Vegas things and went to a couple of Cirque du Solei shows, specifically Ka and Beatles LOVE. Both shows were absolutely amazing though for different reasons. While LOVE centered around the music of the Beatles and was much more dancing-oriented, Ka featured a stage that could literally move in every single direction and was much more acrobatic in nature (here's a trailer so you can get a sense of the stage). If you are a fan of the Beatles, I would recommend that to you, but otherwise Ka may be a better choice if you can only see one. I look forward to seeing some of their other shows as the production value is unlike anything I've seen before!

Our amazing view!
This was technically both an indoor & outdoor activity, but I had to put it somewhere. We found we really enjoyed exploring the strip and the casinos/shopping areas, particularly in the morning hours before it was crowded. We found an amazing store that housed only rare books (think those signed by Thomas Jefferson, first editions of classic works, etc.) that would be any bibliophile's dream. The level of detail that was put into the buildings was also pretty astounding, so it just made for a fun and unique place to walk around. 

An amazing flower sculpture inside one of the hotel/casinos
It is undoubtedly beautiful at night!
Inside the shopping area of Ceasar's 

Outside the Bellagio
Inside the Bellagio they also had sculptures made from plants and flowers

Because who doesn't love chocolate?

This is the rare bookstore mentioned above
Are you exhausted yet? We did fit a lot into our week but we did take some time to relax. We both read several books that were non-work related, which hasn't happened in a long time!