Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Skill By Any Other Name…

Friday night the husband and I were watching the Gymnastic Olympic Trials with our daughter.  We enjoyed watching all the routines and talented gymnasts.
One of the gymnasts was Sarah Finnegan from St. Louis.  Finnegan performed a skill on both the beam and in the floor exercise.  As we aren’t experts in gymnastics we didn’t know if this skill had a name or not.  Finnegan extended one leg and spun three times on one foot. (See video at 25 seconds)
I looked this up on the internet and apparently it is called a Triple Wolf Turn or as Finnegan likes to call it the Humphrey Turn after a gymnast Terin Humphrey who was apparently the first to perform this skill.
However, from now on as we go through to the Olympics the husband has proclaimed this skill as the Finnegan Spin-Again.  So we here claim the rights to this name – NBC take note if you use this during the Olympic Coverage we expect royalties.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Basketball Dreams

My husband and I are not huge NBA fans, but today we watched the NBA Draft.  And whether you like it or not, we are HUGE Kansas Jayhawk fans.  And there is no doubt that the program there builds great ball players.  I had to shed a tear tonight as we sat and watched Thomas Robinson selected 5th in the 1st round of the draft by the Sacramento Kings.  This was probably not the 1st choice for Robinson who is from Washington, D.C., but it will allow him to provide for his little sister which was his goal from the beginning of this Draft season.

I don’t care if you hate KU or if you hate basketball, but if you haven’t heard this young man’s story and you are capable of experiencing compassion, please take a few minutes to read this post.

It was his sophomore year and Thomas Robinson was playing for Kansas, not as a starter, he was still learning.  But as his season went on, he was gaining more experience and more play time.  Kansas was being led by Marcus and Markieff Morris who were the star twins on the Jayhawk team.  Robinson became friends with the twins and their mother.  This friendship would mean the world to him in the months to come.  Robinson was being groomed by Coach Bill Self as there was already talk of the Morris twins going to the draft at the end of the season.  

In December 2010, Thomas Robinson got news that his grandmother had died and just three weeks later his grandfather passed as well.  Robinson was suffering from a lot of grief, but at his mother’s insistence he stayed at school and continued playing.  On January 21st, 2011, just a few weeks after losing both of his grandparents, Robinson received a voicemail from his little sister.  On returning the call he learned that his mother had passed away as well. 

Robinson continued his season with KU, working through his grief and gaining a little more playing time.  The Morris twins left the team and entered the draft, meanwhile Robinson trained all summer and when he returned for his junior year, Robinson was ready to be a leader and lead he did.  Scouts were watching and it soon became apparent that the Draft would be his focus.  I am not a professional writer and I have not gone into great detail about this story – which was repeated several times over the following months during every KU game – but the story below is a must read:

http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/7207167/ncb-kansas-jayhawks-center-thomas-robinson-used-basketball-help-tragedy-espn-magazine

My life went on as usual and one Saturday morning I went to get my oil changed at one of those quick oil change places and they had ESPN Magazine sitting on the counter.  I picked it up when I saw Thomas Robinson.  I flipped to the table of contents, found the page the story (link above) was on, flipped to the article and read.  I had heard the story before, but seeing all the details in print held me to my seat. 

As I read the story, I sat there in the lobby of this shop with big, greasy auto technicians all around, and I cried.  I tried to conceal my tears, brushed them away with my fingertips, but I couldn’t help it.  I don’t even think it was my maternal instincts that had me crying, it was simply the idea of all the heartache this one young man and his sister had gone through in the course of a month.  It was the whole community of Lawrence, Kansas, the University of Kansas, the players and coaches and the NCAA itself that rallied around this young man, supported him, and gave him the strength to continue on. 

The shop was finishing with my oil change, I paid for the service, and explained that I was going to sit back down so I could finish the article.  The guy just smiled at me, he’d seen me crying earlier, and said, “no problem.”  I’m sure he was thinking that he wasn’t going to get involved in whatever my problem was and was likely hoping I’d just hurry up and finish the magazine and leave.  So I quietly finished the article, laid the magazine down, said thank you to the guy behind the counter, and left the building.  I sat in my car and bowed my head and said a silent prayer – for Thomas and his sister and their future as well as a prayer of thanks that I’d never had to encounter such hardship as I wasn’t sure I would make it through.

And now, 18 months after the start of Thomas Robinson’s sorrow, he has something to celebrate.  He has achieved something that would make his mother proud.  My response is – Way to go, Earl.  Now the mother in me has to say, be careful, be smart, and don’t let it go to your head.  Listen to those who have been in your place and made it through like Danny Manning and you will succeed in becoming a great man, a great ballplayer and a great brother.




Thursday, June 28, 2012

Nostalgic Noshes

My husband and I have been nostalgic lately. I mentioned a restaurant from my past and it just started a roll call of a bunch of the places where we ate when we were kids. This led to checking them out on the internet to see if they still existed.
As I grew up in Wichita, Kansas and my husband grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, most of our memories are not shared as many of our memorable places were regional to our area. That being said, I have more detailed memories of these locations than my husband. This is probably because I have a very unhealthy obsession with food.
One of my first memories is of a burger joint called Sandy’s. We had a location just at the end of the block where we lived. I can remember walking there from my house and, if I had pocket change, buying soda. This was set up like a typical fast food restaurant with a counter and grill behind the counter. However, on the sides of the kitchen there were glass walls with counters and bar stools. I can remember sitting on a stool, laying my chin on the cool stainless steel counter, and watching the cooks flip the burgers and drop the fries into the fryers.
Sandy was the plaid tam wearing girl used to represent this burger spot. I can remember the day I walked to Sandy’s to get a soda and saw that all the plaid markings were gone and Hardees had taken over. It was never the same, especially when they ripped out the counter seating and glass wall.
Occasionally we would go out for pizza and when I was really young we would go to Shakeys Pizza. There apparently are still Shakeys locations but none near where I live. See locations: http://www.shakeys.com/. I can remember the pizza being thin crust and served up by people wearing striped vests and Styrofoam “straw” hats with Shakeys hatbands. With Dixieland jazz playing while you ate there might be surprise live entertainment from a banjo player.

When fish and chips were desired for a meal my dad would take us to Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips. I can’t remember much about this other than it was located across the street from Wesley Hospital in Wichita. While searching the internet it appears that the Arthur Treacher’s name was bought by Nathan’s Famous, home of hot dogs. But apparently it is possible to get AT’s fish and chips there. Read about it here: http://nathansfamous.com/PageFetch/getpage.php?pgid=23
Once Towne East Mall opened in Wichita we took to visiting Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour. This place was an old-fashioned ice cream shop with soda fountain. They had a candy counter that had old-fashioned candy and the largest jawbreakers you could ever find. But the most fun was when someone ordered “Farrell’s Zoo® Serves 1-10 Every creation except the keeper. So huge it takes two strong Servers to deliver it to your table. Their knees sag under FOUR flavors of our famous ice cream. THREE fruit flavor sherbets, FOUR delicious toppings, whipped cream, cherries, and bananas. $49.99 Additional servings $4.99 per person.”  http://www.farrellsusa.com/index.phpFarrel's - Ice Cream Parlour Restaurants
I can remember when someone would order this – usually for a family gathering or a birthday party it would be loaded onto a carrier that two servers would put on the shoulders and run through the restaurant with music playing to deliver it to the table. Of course, with this fanfare, you couldn’t help but watch as the group tried to eat the ice cream and secretly wish that sometime the servers would deliver one to your table. But that never happened, however, I did usually leave with a monster sized jawbreaker that I would leave in the bag and have to slam on the ground several times to break it into pieces to fit in my mouth.  I had to do this because I was so doggone impatient to lick the darn thing.  So perhaps the next time I’m in California or Hawaii (yeah, right), I will stop in to Farrell’s and gather a group of people to chow down on the Zoo or maybe just settle on the Pig’s Trough – a treat for two.
Many Sundays growing up our family would head to the Lazy R (imagine that R backwards and leaning back). The interior looked like a place for ranch hands. They had the yummiest chili cheese burgers and Dad would oftentimes go back to the counter to order dessert which was typically one order of banana dumpling and apple fritters. We would split these among the five of us in my family. These fried delicacies had the sweetest, thickest syrup on top. This is likely what accounted for my extra poundage in my youth.
And I will leave you with my memories of a place called Casey Jones Junction. I don’t remember if the food here was good or not but, let me tell you as a young child under the age of 7, there is absolutely nothing better than watching a train circle the restaurant at different levels of the building, watch the fry cook place your burger and fries into a train car and watch it make its way from the kitchen to your table where it stops and you remove your food from the cars.
The husband remembers Burger Shef and Jeff and The Flaming Pit where they had all you could eat fried chicken and a treasure chest with toys for the kids as they left. His family also spent time at Dohack’s where there was once again all you could eat fried chicken. But his best restaurant memory from his youth was the Sunday nights spent at Bentley’s on Manchester Road in St. Louis where their regular waiter Arthur would greet them like family and knew their orders before they even sat down.  Typically it was prime rib.
 



Now that I’ve typed up the discussion of all these restaurants, I’ve worked up quite an appetite.  I would give anything for a plate of Lazy R apple fritters right now with the wallpaper paste thick coating.  Anybody out there have the recipe?

Share your favorite food joints of old either by commenting below or email us at ourtheoryonlife@gmail.com

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rice Krispy Cookies

The night before last I was craving something sweet and looked through my cookbooks. I came across this little ring bound booklet that I picked up at a book fair not long ago. The recipes came from Academy of the Sacred Heart Mothers’ Club Christmas Book from 2004. I needed to find something quick, easy and including ingredients I had in the cabinet. This one fit all those criteriaRice Krispy Cookies (2). Rice Krispy Cookies.
Out of the oven these were soft and flexible, but they firmed up and were crispy on the edges in no time. After I had my first cookie, I decided that these tasted much like a cookie we used to make in the Safeway bakery 30 years ago when I worked there. The crisp rice cereal and the quick cook oats bind to the rest of the dough and some of them crisp up in the oven to the consistency of a nut. The texture is crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside, even the next day.
I enjoyed the cookie and the flavor. The husband said they weren’t his favorite. But he much prefers chocolate chip. I did take a few to work to share with one of my co-workers and she said they were good. She said that she’ll use the recipe to make with her kids.
My friend has a first grader who will likely enjoy making these. The dough is very sticky and you must roll it in your hands to make a ball and then flatten it with the back of a spoon. Most kids that age will lRice Krispy Cookies (4)ove the stickiness of the dough.
Here is the dough (not the whole amount as I had already dished up a sheet of these before I remembered to take a picture). I rolled these into balls, but my measurement was off. This is suppose to make 3 dozen cookies, but I only produced 2 dozen – and because of that it took longer for them to cook than the 10 minutes.
Once the cookies were rolled into balls, my husband flattened the cookies with the back of a spoon sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. As I said, my cookies were larger so instead of Rice Krispy Cookies (5)the 10 minutes to cook, I cooked mine for 13-1/2 minutes until they just started to brown on the edges. It is possible that these cookies didn’t crisp up and brown as much as possible as I cooked them on our Silpat instead of directly on the cookie sheet.  I just hate cookies that stick, so I always use our Silpat.
Again, these cookies were nice. Not too sweet or rich. A nice combination of chewy and crispy. 
 
 




Rice Krispy Cookies
Rice Krispy Cookies (3)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rice a Roni anyone?

In the past few weeks, several of my friends have said they are planning a trip to San Francisco.  This is one of my favorite cities to visit.  The last time we visited was a few years back and we had a blast.
First of all, we flew into Oakland and were able to save a few dollars that we could spend elsewhere.  Once in Oakland, we took BART into San Francisco and disembarked in Union Square. Here we found a transit office and bought public transportation passes that let us use the cable car, street cars and bus system at will. You can find information at http://www.sfmta.com/cms/mfares/passports.htm.  Our hotel, the Westin St. Francis, was just an easy walk of a couple blocks away. I would highly recommend this hotel; we loved it! Convenient location and a very large, comfortable room was provided.
100_0172The famous cable cars run directly in front of the St. Francis and the street cars are just a couple blocks away in Union Square.  You have to take at least one ride on the cable cars all the way down to the bay and back.

Don’t forget to jump off at the top of Lombard Street to view one of the crookedest streets in the world.
100_0186



I personally preferred to ride the street cars from Union Square to the bay.  There are several cars running on the F route.  These cars have been brought to San Francisco from all over the world and restored to their former glory. The route runs past Union Square to the Ferry Terminal and then along the bay to Fisherman’s Wharf. I thought that it was a quicker mode of transport than the cable cars because you tend to have to wait in a long line to board them.

Just a short walk from our hotel was Chinatown.  Here there are many trinket shops and restaurants to visit. In an alleyway, just a block off the main street, there is a fortune cookie shop where you can see how they are made.  They sell the typical cookies that you get anywhere, but they also sell chocolate flavored cookies.  We bought a large bag of broken cookies in both regular and chocolate flavors for around $3. Delicious!!!
100_0157One of the main attractions of our trip was a tour of Alcatraz. We weren’t able to get a ticket for any of the daily cruises to the island, but our hotel concierge was able to get us on the night cruise.  This is a little pricier, but your boat of passengers are the only people on the island, kind of like a private tour.  
The ride to Alcatraz allows you to forgo a bay cruise, as it is almost the same.  You get a great view of San Francisco on your way to the Rock.  










Once there, you get a full tour of the prison and the Park Rangers even rack the cell doors allowing you to hear what the prisoners heard every night of their stay.
video




100_0288We also rented a car for a day and drove to Sausalito across the Golden Gate Bridge. This town is an artist area and there are many galleries to be browsed.  After lunch there, we journeyed to Muir Woods, just a short drive away.  I recommend an early morning visit here so you can grab a close parking space.  The tranquility of the sequoias is amazing.  It is very quiet in the woods and wildlife abounds.
By renting a car on the last day of our visit, we were able to use it to get back to Oakland and fly home.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

One Hot Saturday in June…

Yesterday, the third Saturday in June, we went to Cape Girardeau, Missouri to visit our daughter. Sam is going to school in Cape and is staying there over the summer to work and take a summer class. Our first task was to meet up with her at the Cape Riverfront Market; this is a farmers market in downtown Cape. The market is small with about 30 booths, but very nice. There were several vendors selling handcrafted items including baked goods, soaps, jewelry and garden decorator items, but for the most part it was fresh vegetables and fruit. There was an abundance of corn and peaches. Sam volunteers each week there at the information table. Find them at http://caperiverfrontmarket.com or http://www.facebook.com/CapeRiverfrontMarket.
Our main reason for the visit was to spend some time with Sam and to take her and her boyfriend, Alex to Lambert’s Café in Sikeston, Missouri about 30 minutes away from Cape. This restaurant is known for its throwed rolls. Do NOT correct my grammar – they call them throwed rolls, it’s their word not mine.  We arrived at 1:15 p.m. for lunch. Had it not been our ultimate destination we may have turned around and left as there were Sikeston, MOprobably over 200 people lined up outside and another 60 inside. They were giving out numbers and they were calling number 135 when we walked in and we’d been given number 213 when we signed in out front. There are two separate dining rooms and the tables were called quickly. Nonetheless the wait for our table was about an hour during which we talked a little and Sam and her boyfriend played a game on their phones.
The concept of this restaurant is that you order an entrée plate and have a choice of sides but while at your table individuals come around and offer you unlimited sides of potato and onion, macaroni and tomato (which had a dressing that tasted much like the Pepper and Onion Relish from Harry and David), black-eyed peas and fried okra. As well, they serve rolls that are huge and can be eaten with butter on the table or apple butter or sorghum molasses delivered at your table. Read more about it on their website at: http://www.throwedrolls.com/default.asp.
The husband had a special of the day which was Chicken Pot Pie at $10.95 with two sides. Sam had fried chicken which showed up as a four pieces of chicken with two sides for $12.95. Alex, her boyfriend, had the Fried Round Steak which was like Chicken Fried Steak topped with mashed potatoes and country gravy plus two additional sides for $12.95. Then I had fried pork chops with three sides for $12.95.  I failed to take any pictures.  I only thought about it after we’d started eating and I didn’t want to show you partially eaten food, that’s disgusting.
The sides we had included sliced beets, baby carrots, baked apples, sliced peaches. The meal was tasty and completely filling except my husband complained that the Chicken Pot Pie was small. However, not until he’d had some of Sam’s fried chicken did the waiter come around and ask if we wanted any reorders. Apparently if you finish your plate you can order items that you purchased – but double-check to make sure these are free refills. As we didn’t take advantage of it, I can’t confirm they are free, but it sounded as if they were.  Also, they don’t take reservations, nor do they take credit cards.  They say on their website that they take checks and they did have an ATM in the lobby of the Sikeston location.
So, now the fun stuff of the day. Sam loves the whole throwed rolls concept of this restaurant. She’s gone with college mates here before. The last time she ended up mishandling a roll and ended up getting hit in the face with it and having it explode all over. So today was her chance to redeem herself. The throwed roll attendant was pushing the roll trolley all the way across the dining room. Sam could not wait for him to come across the room, so when she saw him she raised her hands indicating she was ready for a roll. He nodded to her in acknowledgement of her request. He arched his arm back much like a major league baseball pitcher. He released the roll at lightning speed, it whizzed through the air, and smashed into Sam’s waiting hands from at least 35 feet away. The sound of the roll hitting her hands sounded much like a Jason Motte fastball slamming into Yadier Molina’s mitt (Go Cardinals!). The crowd erupted with cheers – okay that last part was in my head, but at our table we were amazed at Sam’s fielding ability and told her so.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Job With No Bosses…

A company that has no mid-level management bosses, can you even imagine? If you are like me you work at a regular job in Corporate America where there are Front Line Workers that work for Supervisors, Supervisors that work for Managers, Managers that work for Directors, and Directors that work for Vice Presidents and on and on.
But this approach is being pooh-poohed more and more by companies. See the beginning of the story below from The Wall Street Journal’s Rachel Emma Silverman posted on Yahoo! yesterday:
Who's the Boss? There Isn't One
Like many tech companies, Valve Corp., a videogame maker in Bellevue, Wash., boasts high-end espresso, free massages and laundry service at its offices.
One thing it doesn't have: bosses.
Valve, whose website says the company has been "boss free" since its founding in 1996, also has no managers or assigned projects. Instead, its 300 employees recruit colleagues to work on projects they think are worthwhile. The company prizes mobility so much that workers' desks are mounted on wheels, allowing them to scoot around to form work areas as they choose. At the videogame maker Valve Corp. employees recruit colleagues to work on projects.Source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/whos-boss-isnt-one-040100888.html
I find this idea quite intriguing. Imagine not having to deal with a supervisor every day or having to fill out weekly reports on what work you are doing. I believe this is a great idea especially for those individuals in project management positions. At Valve Corp. the employees come up with project ideas and work through them with a group of colleagues. They discuss the project amongst themselves and determine if it is workable.
How many times have you been given a project by a superior that you know will not add value to the organization’s success? I have before and even questioned projects but been told that upper management says it needs to be done and to just do it. The project is implemented and you track the process/progress and gather results only to see that it was a waste of time and money. At that point you so want to put your thumb on your nose, wag your fingers and tell your boss “nanny, nanny, boo, boo,” but you don’t. After all, you are a professional everywhere except in your head. Instead you and your colleagues, who agree with you that the project wasn’t worth the effort, gripe about how detached your bosses are from the actual work. Had you and your co-workers worked at a company like Valve you would have discussed the project in full and with your working knowledge at the front line level rejected the idea amongst yourselves and not had to tell your supervisor who would then pass your idea to the manager and on to the director and then on to the vice president.
The idea is that with employees involved in the hiring process, hopefully they wouldn’t recommend or hire anyone that they didn’t want to work with. But then you will have those individuals who can master an interview and bluff their way through. You have to have a knowledgeable HR team and Legal team to be able to get rid of any losers that you and your colleagues decided to hire. What nitwits you guys were to hire that idiot. And now he’s like the little geek in grade school with the glasses and runny nose that nobody wanted on their kickball team. He shows up for work, doesn’t get asked to work on any projects, and still gets a paycheck. Everyone resents him and unless he’s a Mark Zuckerberg brain-child he’ll never produce anything on his own or add value. He will stand around and talk about his Masters Degree. He will hypothesize about how much money can be saved by printing all your Powerpoint presentations four slides to a page double-sided and it doesn’t matter that the client can’t read them, they’ll be impressed with your cost management system. Oh my gosh, really?
And even with that possibility of hiring dead-weights, I can think about so many ways that my company could utilize this to their advantage. I’m already picking my team of co-workers and have my list of rejects, as well. I know that as you read this, you are doing the exact same thing.
Okay, so now I’m pumped. I’m going to work today and going straight to the top dog and sharing this article from WSJ and suggesting that we cut all management jobs between him and the front line workers. I’ll let him know that my team of workers will need a room to huddle on all our projects, a massage chair, and a high-end cappuccino machine to keep us caffeinated while we work hours on projects we have bought into.
Or I’ll just drag myself in, sit in my cubicle and work on my day to day tasks hoping that someday soon my lottery numbers will hit. Yeah, that seems much more feasible to keeping my job.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Quick and Crunchy Peach Cobbler

Quick and Crunchy Peach Cobbler
My mother made this recipe when I was growing up. We would have it every few months. I’m not sure where she found this, but it’s super simple and really delicious. So 40 years later I’m still making this a few times a year as my husband loves it. So with Father’s Day this past Sunday I decided it was time to bring it out again just for him.
A few things of note before you get to the recipe:
· Best results come from using a metal bowl;
· Put the butter/margarine in the bowl and place in the oven while it pre-heats to melt;
· After you have measured the reserved peach juice, make sure to drain the peaches completely;
· This recipe contains no eggs so even if you add too much juice and it doesn’t completely firm up, it is still good and I’ve never gotten sick on the few times I’ve eaten it juicy.
Quick and Crunchy Peach Cobbler
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 Tbls. Baking powder
2/3 cup peach juice from the canned peaches
1 large can peaches, drained except for the 2/3 cup juice above
1 stick margarine
1. Place margarine into metal bowl and place in 400° oven to melt.
2. Combine flour, sugar and baking powder.
3. Add 2/3 cup of juice and mix well.
4. Remove bowl from oven. Pour batter on top of the margarine.
5. Pour peaches into the middle of the batter. Do no stir, the batter will rise up around the peaches.
6. Bake at 400° for 45 minutes.
This is great served warm with ice cream.
 
Melted Butter with Batter on Top
Batter on Butter

Peaches Added to the Mix – Do Not Stir
Peaches added

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ice Cream Heaven

Last year we were planning a trip to South Dakota to see Mt. Rushmore. We planned to spend a night in Sioux City, Iowa after a day of driving from St. Louis. As I was checking out things to do in the Sioux City area I came across a mention of the Blue Bunny Museum and Ice Cream Parlor in Lemars, IA. Well, for anyone who knows us, ice cream is something we truly enjoy.  This was a must see for us.
So when we started out our road trip, we knew that we had to make good time to reach Lemars.  After a long drive we arrived at the museum just 45 minutes before it was going to close. We were told that we could enter the museum but we had to be out before closing time. It was cute seeing lots of memorabilia from the Wells Company, parent company of Blue Bunny and the history of Blue Bunny ice cream. Old Blue Bunny MuseumSince we visited they have taken an older building in Lemars and renovated for a new, larger museum, ice cream parlor and event space.
Inside the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor
The best part of the trip was our visit to the ice cream parlor. They had a sampler dish where you could choose six ice creams to sample. The cost of the sample dish was less than $10 and we were able to try a variety of Blue 1296013615273Bunny flavors that we had not had in the past. We hadn’t tried them either because we weren’t sure of the flavor when we saw it at the grocery store or because it wasn’t available in our area.
 
Our favorite flavor was Huckleberry. We were sad to hear that this flavor is only available to restaurants. I contacted their corporate sales department and found that unfortunately no one in St. Louis was selling the flavor. Perhaps we’ll have to contact them again to see if this flavor is available in our area now.
Do you enjoy ice cream? Do you have any recommendations for ice cream companies or flavors that we should try? How about other corporate museums – any you’ve been to and enjoyed?


Monday, June 18, 2012

Vegas Tips

This will be my final blog on Las Vegas and will mention a few helpful tips that I can pass on to you for any trip you decide to take to Vegas.
Our trip to Las Vegas this year was different from visits in the past. We had a little more money to spend, so we weren’t against splurging a little. However, there are some things that you just don’t want to spend a fortune on. The good news is that there are ways you can save a little money and not pay full-blown Strip prices.
It’s nice to browse the shops inside or attached to the Strip hotels and even shops at the Fashion Show Mall. But unless you want to buy a Coach bag for $300+ or plan on shopping at Chanel and have the means to do so, you can bargain shop on the Strip. Ross Stores, Dress for Less have several locations in Las Vegas including one on the Strip neRoss Dress for Lessar MGM Grand. This is much like a Marshalls or T. J. Maxx and we’ve always shopped here when we travel. Fortunately or unfortunately, this visit was okay, but I didn’t get anything there as we had a Ross store open up the week before our trip in the St. Louis area so it wasn’t a big deal anymore.
Walgreens and CVS both have stores on the Strip. One was right near The Venetian. We were able to stock up on soda and snacks here at regular prices and this particular one even had a fountain drink area with specialty coffee drinks. This was especially nice to get a coffee and breakfast treat inexpensively. http://www.walgreens.com/storelocator/result.jsp?_requestid=127845
For those of you who tire of the hustle and bustle of Vegas, you can take chartered trips to the Grand Canyon or Boulder Dam. However, for the price of a rental car we have previously takeRed Rock Canyonn a hiking trip about 30 minutes away from downtown to Red Rock Canyon. We did this one year during Spring Break when it was more seasonal and we enjoyed the day in the peace and quiet. The area is beautiful, although very arid, so no matter what time of year, take plenty of water with you.
The Imperial Palace Auto Museum was incredibly nice and cool in temperature as well. If you search online before you go you can find printable coupons to go for free. There are many vintage cars here and this was another delightful thing to pass time other than being in the casino.   SAM_0925 SAM_0884
I have a couple of warnings for you about a trip to Vegas. The first is that no matter how hot you are, never, ever buy water bottles on the street from vendors. We were told by a shuttle driver that they have found out that people are collecting used water bottles and filling them with tap water, sealing them with super glue and selling them on the streets. That’s so disgusting, I couldn’t even believe it. You can get water bottles at any casino if you sit at a machine because the drink hostesses come around all the time and if they don’t have a bottle on their tray will bring you one if you ask. Or stop in at Walgreens, CVS and many souvenir shops sell water.
Also, if you decide to walk the Strip – make sure you are wearing your most comfortable tennis shoes – and be ready to avoid the peddlers of prostitution. These annoying people will be trying to force flyers and business cards into your hands at all costs promoting call girls. One item of note, there are fewer of them on the Bellagio side of the strip. Also, it appears that the Harrahs groups of hotels and casinos have no problem with these jerks. But if you spend most of your time at the nicer hotels, as we did, you can avoid having to deal with them. They were right up to the edge of The Venetian property but did not cross over the property line.
Our trip to Vegas this year was a pleasant getaway, but I believe it will last us for a while and we probably won’t be going back anytime soon. We have a list of other places where we wish to travel. Now it is just about finding the time.

Reading back over this post it seems as if I am advertising for some of these places mentioned.  I am not receiving anything for these and have not been in contact with any of the brand names or locations that I have spoken about.  I just found these to help out with our trip.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Vegas Baby!

We had booked our Vegas trip through American Airlines Vacations and as such had to fly from St. Louis to Los Angeles and then catch another flight to Vegas after a layover in LA. By the time we reached our hotel, unpacked and settled in, we were ready for a light meal.
We took a stroll through The Venetian, through the Canal Shoppes, and entered The Palazzo. Here we found the Grand Luxe Café. This restaurant has two locations at the resort – one inside The Venetian and another inside The Palazzo. These restaurants are operated by The Cheesecake Factory so we were pretty sure the food would be good, but were worried about the cost since The Cheesecake Factory is somewhat pricey at home, we thought Vegas might be even more so. But we were pleasantly surprised. I don’t know if I enjoyed the meal because it was really good, or if I was just hungry, or both!
They have a section of their menu called Minis, Bites and Tapas. From that I ordered:
Warm Goat Cheese Salad
Crispy Goat Cheese, Baby Greens, Fresh Apple with a Touch of Honey

And
Zucchini and Onion Haystack
Fresh Zucchini and Onions Lightly Breaded and Fried Crisp. Served with Garlic Aioli

The husband ate the following:
Grand Club Sandwich
Freshly Roasted Turkey, Crisp Applewood Smoked Bacon, Arugula, Tomato and Mayonnaise on Toast. Served with an Organic Green Salad or French Fries.

After our meal we hit the casino for an hour or two before we headed back to end our evening somewhat early as we were prepared to get up early to make it to Hash House A Go Go (see Pancakes – Part II).
For lunch one day we happened upon Carnegie Deli at The Mirage. Since I’ve never been to New York and probably won’t make it there anytime soon, I told the husband I wanted to eat here. We waited in line about 15 minutes. As we were seated the waiter brought out a dish with pickles. We checked out the menu and couldn’t believe how expensiv20120310_134010e the sandwiches were. If I remember correctly the sandwich was $20+ and since we split it we had a plate charge and fries were extra, but look at the portion. We had Jeff’s Tatalah sandwich (http://www.mirage.com/files/carnegie_menu.pdf). We left stuffed.
For our Sunday night meal we had reservations at Delmonico’s Steakhouse, an Emeril restaurant. The experience here was fine dining and very enjoyable. The wait staff was extremely attentive and courteous. We both had rib eyes that were dry aged. They were cooked to perfection, but I can’t honestly say they were any better than the Costco rib eyes my husband grills at home. But they topped their salad with a candied pecan bacon that was to die for.
We were going to see Cirque de Soleil’s “O” one evening and went to the Grand Luxe Café at The Venetian. The menu here was different. They didn’t have the same minis that I enjoyed the first night. And to be honest, I cannot remember what we ate as my nosy self was too interested in the Italian family that was seated next to us. The story of this family deserves a posting of its own.
We had a late lunch at Paris’ Le Village Buffet and while it was acceptable, I wasn’t impressed, especially with the desserts. I would assume that the crème brulee at a “french” restaurant would be excellent, but it fell short. We had dim sum at Ping Pang Pong at the Gold Coast casino. We really weren’t sold on this and the wait staff spoke very limited English and were difficult to understand but most of the clientele was Asian and seemed to be locals enjoying the food.
This post has gone on far longer than I imagined. I promised you some non-food related information and I will follow up with that in another posting very soon.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Venetian Dreams…

In March of this year my husband and I went to Las Vegas and stayed at The Venetian. This was our first visit to the Strip in probably about 10 years when we stayed at MGM Grand. Things have definitely changed over the years.
The Venetian was exquisite from the lobby to the attached Canal Shoppes. It seemed that when they built The Venetian they must have gotten a great deal on marble because it was everywhere including this fabulous walkway that looks much like an M.C. Escher drawing. But when we got home our son, the Art major and recent visitor to Italy let us know that he believes it to be inspired by the floor in a gallery in Italy, something that he bragged of seeing in person.Venetian Walkway
Not only was the floor magnificent but the entire hallway was fabulous and if you could allow yourself a little imagination and block out the sound of the casino you could imagine yourself in the opulence and history of an Italian museum.  Look at the detail and the frescoes on the ceiling.
Venetian Walkway
The hotel was set up where you had to walk a short way to the elevators, but the good news was that unlike many casinos in Vegas you did not have to roll your luggage through the casino. You walked instead on a walkway that went around the casino floor itself.
Our room was a Luxury Suite. The hotel is nothing but suites and includes a sunken living room. Our room had a king bed with a huge bathroom including a soaking tub, separate shower, double sink vanity, separate make-up vanity, and stool room. Our only complaint about the bathroom was that the stool room was very small and if you wished to shut the door while doing your business, you had to straddle the toilet to shut it.
The bedroom portion included nightstands on both sides of the bed, a large dresser, and large flat screen TV. The sunken living room included a sofa, an entertainment center with a mini-fridge (do not touch or move anything or you’ll pay) and another flat screen television. There was also additional seating with a loveseat and a table with two chairs.
 
 
We were impressed with the room and the comfortable bed. But on a side note, if you can’t make it to Vegas any time soon, you can stay in a room almost identical to the one described and pictured above at the Ameristar Casino in St. Charles, MO.
Comeback soon and I’ll describe some of the places we chose to eat while in Vegas and a few things we found to make our trip a little more pleasant.

Monday, June 11, 2012

TV Show Changes You Hate

I absolutely hate when a successful television show decides to bring on new characters, especially ones that I hate. Why don’t they ask me? My opinion matters. I know what the people want and like. I could save many a show from cancellation.
What has me all upset? Well, a couple of years ago I started watching a show on Lifetime that ran in the summer – a treat from all the reruns. The show was called Drop Dead Diva and it started its new season last Sunday night. I was excited, the husband was not so thrilled, but he sat and watchedDDD_EP402_03132012_BM_0451[1] it with me anyway. And who should show up on my show but that dang Kim K. I’ve already let you know of my terrible dislike of her (see my June 2nd post Brother, Can You Spare a Dime). Well, on the previews for Drop Dead Diva earlier this week it showed that Kim K. is apparently going to be appearing on my summer show for several episodes this year. Well, guess what? I’m boycotting. This is just as bad when they brought Rebecca Romijn-Stamos to Ugly Betty. I gave up on that show shortly thereafter and it was cancelled a year or two later.
My hate of new characters goes all the way back to Cheers. When Diane left the show and they brought in Sam's new female boss, Rebecca. I took an instant dislike to Kirstie Alley – even though she was from my hometown of Wichita, Kansas. Don’t get me invested in a show and its characters and then ask me to accept someone else if they are annoying as heck.
So now, I have my Sunday nights free until Amazing Race starts its new season. Guess that will allow me time to blog a little and catch something like The Tony Awards instead.
So what person/character made you stop watching a show? Is there any character that’s been added to a show that you really liked?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Do You Remember?

An offer on Deals.Woot.com from Overstock.com this week sparked a trip down memory lane for my husband and me. They had an offer for aHogan's Heroes: the Komplete Series, Kommandant's Kollection (DVD)ll six seasons on DVD of Hogan’s Heroes for something like $60. We talked about how we both watched this in rerun form in the afternoons after school.
This then led to more talk about all the great and not so great shows that we would watch after school and before regular prime time programming. Read along and I’m sure, if you are over the age of 35, you probably will smile a little as you remember along with me.
Tops on the list was Gilligan’s Island. I think I probably saw each episode at least two or three times. Everything from the first episode to the one with the giant spider to the professor working to fix that darn radio. I watched The Brady Bunch and Peter was my favorite. Greg was too tall and that curly hair was too crazy. But when Marsha got to meet Davy Jones I was jealous as The Monkees started off every Saturday morning for me, followed by H. R. Pufnstuf and Jimmy. I was so young that I didn’t know about all the innuendo in that show. And it was during that time with Davy and Jimmy that I found my love of a good English accent. Sadly we lost Davy Jones this year and Jack Wild (Jimmy) died in 2006. And talking about crushes who didn’t love David Cassidy on The Partridge Family and his puka shell necklace.
 



There were some shows that I envied the living accommodations more than anything. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to live in Jeannie’s bottle or if I’d rather live with Uncle Bill and Mr. French in the New York City penthouse in Family Affair. Or in Beverly Hills with the Clampetts and their large winding staircase and big cement pond out back.
And I couldn’t decide if when I grew up I wanted to be That Girl or Agent 99 from Get Smart. But I think it was after the episode where she got her big toe stuck in the bowling ball that I opted not to be Marlo Thomas’ Ann Marie.
What would I do with Samantha’s powers from Bewitched. I know that I tried like heck to twitch my nose to see if I couldn’t transport myself somewhere. And even if he wasn’t gorgeous, I didn’t think Derwood was such a bad husband, except having that full body transplant between seasons. Who was your favorite Darren – Dick Sargent or Dick York? I think I liked Dick York more because he was so quirky.
Then there is a memory that happened later in my youth. When my husband and I were dating in college at the University of Kansas, we would spend the time leading up to the dinner hour watching Batman with Adam West and Burt Ward. The live action BAMs and KAPOWs were fabulous as was the shark that attacked Batman – so realistic it had to cost a fortune. Uh, yeah.
Now it appears the only place you can sometimes catch these shows is on a Nickelodeon channel or in a collection of DVDs or on the internet at places like Hulu.com or Youtube.com. But all it takes is a mere mention of a show to spark memories.
What show didn’t I mention that you foster great memories from?
TV Trivia – Did you know that Bette Nesmith Graham invented the correction fluid that later became known as Liquid Paper. Bette was the mother of Mike Nesmith from The Monkees.

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Conversation That Got Me Thinking…

Have you ever had a conversation that has stayed with you for days or weeks and made you question your choices and opportunities in life?
I met with a man earlier this week and we spent a half hour talking. We discussed the companies where we worked and the jobs we held. We discussed our general thoughts on workers and their roles in business today. This was an overall discussion of business in the world today by two business professionals who enjoyed the content of our conversation. As we parted ways the gentleman gave me what I consider a very delightful compliment. He said that I presented myself in a very professional way and that I must give a lot of presentations because I’m so at ease with people. I thanked him for the compliment and went on my way back to my daily life.
Days later I’m still thinking about his comments. I’m thinking back to when I ran my business (an administrative support business) and how, from the age of 24-37, I was able to meet with heads of business to introduce my services and always gained their business. Even in my youth, I was always confident in myself. I thought back to many of the bosses who I had worked for and the amount of authority many gave me because they were confident in my abilities. That’s even the case today in my current job.
My direct manager counts on me to help out with special projects, deliver presentations to co-workers and even to travel in the field and deliver presentations on my own. I’m one of the choice workers who she counts on to train new employees that join our department. And I absolutely love this part of my job. Unfortunately that part of my job encompasses about 10% of what I do.
So for the past week I’ve been weighed down questioning myself at mid-life why I’m not doing what I love and why I’m spending the majority of my time looking at numbers instead of speaking with people. The only benefit is the paycheck. But where does a person at 45 make the changes necessary to find that job they’ll love or even to know what job they will enjoy 100% of the time? I’ve often considered how to put a business together that could help people find a job they could love. After all, I can’t possibly be the only person in this situation, can I?
Maybe that’s why I decided my husband and I should start this blog. I needed a place where I could share ideas and thoughts without numbers to analyze or concepts of improvement to focus on. There are plenty of jobs in corporate relations, training and sales where I could use my abilities, but unfortunately I don’t have the experience, nor do I have the wallet to afford to take a huge pay cut. And sales, I can sell anything to anyone once I gain their trust. Unfortunately, I have a conscience and I can’t sell anything that isn’t a viable need or has the ability to increase a customer’s profits.
So instead of delivering presentations every day and building relationships with people I guess I’ll continue to sit behind my computer at work building pivotables and analyzing data waiting for the opportunity that happens 10% of the time and that is to present, train and even entertain an audience. Then I can come home and spend my time coming up with something that a few individuals out there might enjoy and even find value in by reading this blog.
What 10% portion of your job do you love the most and wish you could do 100% of the time? What’s holding you back? Can you resolve this situation in the next year? I’d like to hear from any of you who are in the same situation - email me at ourtheoryonlife@gmail.com or comment at the bottom of this post. And if you have a job that you love what you do 100% of the time, let me know, because I’d love to know that it is possible and might even wish to feature you in a future post.










Saturday, June 2, 2012

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

Ryan-Seacrest-NBC-Comcast-900-600I’ve been putting a concept together in my head for quite a while now. Thinking about all of the reality shows that are currently out there to watch, I wanted to find one that is actually reality. If I have to hear the name Kardashian (who cares) one more time I think I’ll scream. Shame on you, Ryan Seacrest! We are raising a world of gullible people who can actually believe that this is reality. Scripted reality, yes. Reality influenced by incidents provoked by the production team, yes. But reality in the true sense of the word, absolutely not.
But I’ve often talked to my husband about my idea for a reality show that I think would make Americans sit down and watch and be either disgusted or delighted with ourselves. Not disgusted in a Fear Factor – no, don’t eat that disgusting thing, but in a way that shows us how caught up in our own lives we’ve become. It would show us how we take our creature comforts for granted. But perhaps it might surprise us and show us that there really are good people out there. And no, I’m not talking about that stupid show, Undercover Bosses. Please – everyone knows that there is something up with that and if bosses everywhere would just treat their employees fairly then it wouldn’t seem like these bosses are oh so great when they pay for a family to take a trip together or someone to have some time off to take care of an ailing family member.
My show – and oh, by the way, if Ryan Seacrest or any of the major networks does run something along the same lines, I expect some credit - is very much in line with a Survivor theme. But rather than drop these people off in a remote area of the world and provide them with clean drinking water to live on a beach somewhere playing games, you take a group of individuals, strip them of everything except shirts and pants and drop them in the center of Manhattan. Without a job, cell phone, credit or debit card, or even shoes these individuals have to try to survive legally. They cannot tell anyone they are on a reality show, they cannot steal or make up grandiose lies, but they have to find a way to get clothed, stay clean, eat and sleep safely. They will have to find a job, secure housing, and anything else to gain a normal way of life. There is no privilege, no contacting friends or family, basically making their way just as if they were landing on Ellis Island with nothing.
No one gets kicked off, there are no individual tasks, and their task each day is simply trying to survive. They can pair up and try to work together, but there will be no alliances on how to make other individuals or teams give up or lose. This is just to see each of them survive and what means they use to manage on a daily basis.  We will watch their encounters trying to find shoes, employment, a meal and a place to stay.
I’m not even sure there should be a winner. I think that each of them will learn about the human condition and will take away a gift that cannot be obtained any other way – just learning about their own willingness to survive and the generosity of those around us or lack thereof.
I believe that their approach to trying to gain and maintain normalcy would be interesting and I know that the reactions they would get on the street would vary from nasty to actual nurturing and willingness to help. But I think America would be most interested to see how people treat each other. And it might influence a change around the country in the way others react to people in tight times.  I picked Manhattan because this is the most affluent area of the country and there are all means of living within a small geography, but each season could be completed in any metro area – Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco.

 
If you’d be interested to see this instead of Kim, Khloe and their crazy mom, let me know at ourtheoryonlife@gmail or comment below.