Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving in Pictures

The long Thanksgiving weekend was a welcoming change of pace. Even though we didn’t necessarily get much rest we did enjoy it immensely. We got a lot accomplished too, doing Thanksgiving-related things and not so Thanksgiving-related things. Like taking our car for its much needed service and tune-ups. Everyday life necessities do not stop just because there’s a long holiday weekend.

In any case, our Thanksgiving turkey dinner was a great success. The bird came out more than perfect. Eat your heart out, Martha Stewart. And it was absolutely delicious. All the trimmings, side dished, gravy and desserts were superbly delectable. All of our guests just gobbled it up and went for seconds. We haven’t had such a scrumptious turkey meal in a long time.

All in all, it was a wonderful long holiday weekend. We even ended up going to the Las Vegas Strip and checked out some stores at some of the casinos and the Fashion Show Mall. On Black Friday...of all days. But since we didn’t do any shopping we weren’t fazed by all the madness. The clientele at the Fashion Show is usually a bit more sophisticated anyway and so the mall wasn’t all-out crazy.

Are you ready for the next big holiday? I know I am. Not so much for the whole Christmas and New Years hoopla as we really don’t make a big fuzz about that stuff anyway. We don’t even decorate our home or anything. But I will have some vacation time and I’m really looking forward to that part. We are still hoping to get away for a few days. Don’t know where yet. Maybe we’ll find some last-minute travel deal to a nice warm place? Or we’ll spend a few days in California. Who knows? Even a staycation sounds fine to me. As long as I don’t have to come up with some brilliant design idea to make a concrete flood control channel looks pretty.

I will not even waste one single second thinking about work on my upcoming vacation. My European side of me will not allow that. My American side will just have to deal.

I know, what a predicament.

Below are some photos from our Thanksgiving weekend.

Thomas drove in from California to spend a few days with us. That's him and Mary, his and George's mother.

Yeah, yeah, enough with the picture taking already. When can we finally eat that darn bird?

Uh-oh, boys in the kitchen. George, Thomas and my silly self.

Mary and Alice enjoying a delicious turkey dinner.

Thomas and our “chick magnet.” Or so he says. Oh, those heterosexuals.

Inside the atrium of the Wynn Resort on the Las Vegas Strip. They were already heavily into the next holiday spirit.

The pool area at the Mirage, right next to Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden. One of the hotel towers of Caesars Palace is peeking out from behind.

Mirage’s tropical atrium, all decked out for the holidays. Are you ready for the next big one?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's Turkey Day Once Again...

I’m astonished how quickly time passes. Is it already this time of year again? In two days is Thanksgiving. A few more days later we’ll move into the month of December and before you know it the holiday season is upon us. Followed by a brand new year. What ever happened to this year? Weren’t George and I not just in Germany, celebrating a new year? This year just flew by.


On the other hand, I’m glad this is a short work week and a long weekend is coming up. We don’t have too many of those. George and I are staying home this time. The last few Thanksgiving weekends were celebrated in California, where we stayed with friends and enjoyed a wonderful meal and a great time at their wonderful home. Or having a couple of fun days at Disneyland. This time we decided to make it all traditional, with cooking at home, having family visiting us and the whole nine yards. Without the hoopla of all these football games though.

We got ourselves one big turkey. Over twenty pounds. And we got a great deal on it too. Just by accident did we see that one of the local markets had a one-day special where they sold brand name turkeys at incredible low prices. We literally saved up to 75% compared to all the other places. That may not have made that poor turkey’s day but it sure made ours.

Starting tomorrow, we’ll be cooking nonstop for two days. And we probably will be eating for the following two weeks. But we have family over to help us. George’s brother will drive in from California and stay with us for the weekend too. We all love turkey dinners with all the trimmings but it has been forever since we’ve actually cooked a big meal like that ourselves in our own kitchen. It’ll be a treat. Especially since George has the magical touch to turn everything into the most delicious meals.

It will be a fairly traditional fair. Since we are not your typical all-American family, traditional American foods are not a regular staple at our homes. We are far too adventurous for that...in a culinary sense. So this meal will be a very special treat for all of us. A huge turkey with gravy, corn bread stuffing, cranberries, mashed cream cheese potatoes with sauteed onion bits and leek, corn and mixed vegetables. Some cakes, plus apple and pumpkin pies for dessert. Of course, tons of appetizers and snacks before, during and after the big meal. Is this American enough?

Like I said, we’ll be cooking for two days and eat for two weeks.

However, with all this feeding frenzy going on we will not forget to be grateful for everything we have. Isn’t that the point of Thanksgiving? To take some time to reflect and be thankful for what one has and has accomplished? We don’t need some special day to be reminded to be thankful though. We are fully aware of how lucky we are and we recognize this everyday and count our blessings.

But it happens to be Thanksgiving and it will bring us a nice long weekend. So we’re definitely not complaining and we’re trying to make the most of it. We hope you are too.

Happy Thanksgiving, ya’ll.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

Another weekend came and went. Too quickly, I might add. But I’m not complaining since George and I spent a wonderful time.

It started right after work Friday afternoon. George was off that day, so I had the car and drove home to pick him up before heading to the Las Vegas Strip for our big event that evening. But first, we had some dinner of course. We went to this little gem of a restaurant inside Neiman Marcus at the Fashion Show Mall. One can easily miss the unassuming door to the NM Cafe. Once you walk through the door you’ll be surprised by its simple contemporary design with bright warm colors.

The Popovers are a Neiman Marcus tradition.

The menu list is short and slightly in the higher price range. But the quality of food and a comfy atmosphere makes up for it. We both ordered...drum roll, please...cheeseburgers with fries. We figured if they can turn something simple like burgers into a great tasting meal than everything else on the menu is a no-brainer. We were not disappointed. The angus meat patties were grilled to perfection and the french fries tasted divine. Nothing was soggy and had just the right crunch and amount of spices. As an appetizer, George also ordered a Pasta Fagioli soup which was extraordinarily tasty. As some kind of an Neiman Marcus staple, popovers are served before any meal. These light scone-like breads usually are served with either a chicken broth dip or strawberry butter. The strawberry butter is a treat in itself.

After our meal we wandered through the Neiman Marcus department store, marveling at their eclectic array of unusual Christmas decorations, Japanese wafers and certain art work being displayed throughout the store.

Then the event of the day was drawing ever so closer. And it was finally time to take our seats for the Diana Ross concert inside the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. The place was packed. Not one seat was empty. I didn’t know what to expect. She is now 66-years old and couldn’t possibly be the same whirlwind she was when I last saw her in the 1980s. Back then, I was still living in Munich and she performed at the Olympiahalle. It was one of most energetic concerts I’ve ever seen and Miss Ross blew the iconic tent-looking roof off the whole Olympic Stadium complex.

Well, I didn’t need to worry. She’s still got it. The stage production wasn’t elaborate at all, which was fine by us. A live band, backup singers, a few dancers and Diana Ross. What more does one need? We just wanted to hear her sing those amazing songs. And that she did. This lady can sing the blues. And the Motown hits. And the all the other hits that followed after that period of her career. One song after another she sang. One hit after another. The audience went wild. We’ve seen Cher, Celine Dion and Bette Midler in this venue. But never have we seen people jumping out of their seats and dancing in the rows and aisles in this place before. She was amazing. These so-called stars of today, all these little flavors of the moment, don’t even come close to the talent and professionalism that is Diana Ross. Now this is whom I call a true Superstar. And there’s still no mountain high enough for this diva...

Diana Ross, as she was performing one of many songs at Caesars Palace’s Colosseum on Friday, November 12th, 2010. (Photo taken from the Las Vegas Sun)

The rest of the weekend was spent very leisurely. For the first time in a long time we both actually slept in both on Saturday and Sunday. That rarely happens. Later on Saturday, we had one of George’s friend, who does landscaping work on the side, saw off the top half of our apple tree. It started dying off and we suspected some kind of fungus. We’ll see if that helps to rescue the bottom half of the tree which is still green and growing. We had some additional tree trimming, pruning, raking and cleaning up done.

We also did lots of walking in the park, some shopping and caught up watching recorded movies on television. Yesterday we got our flu shots. And a big turkey for Thanksgiving next Thursday, where we’ll have the family over for a big dinner at our house. There’s going to be a lot of cooking going on. And I can’t wait for the feast.

Gobble, gobble!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Marines, Sailors and Bears...Oh My!

We have officially changed back to standard time again on Sunday. Europe did that last weekend already. Wouldn’t it make more sense if the whole world changed the times all at once? Or is this just one of America’s many exceptionalism thingys? Who knows?

In any case, while most people were able to enjoy that extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning, George and I did the exact opposite. Of course! We got up an extra hour early. Not because we felt so exceptional but because we just couldn’t sleep anymore. Darnit! So much for sleeping in a little longer.

It didn’t matter however. We still enjoyed a wonderful weekend. For the first time in long while we didn’t have any specific plans or obligations. So we decided to take things easy for a change and to just enjoy the moment.

On Saturday we drove to the famous Las Vegas “Strip” late afternoon, looking for tickets to see “Sinatra - Dance With Me,” which will perform at the Wynn Resort & Casino. This Broadway show, with Frank Sinatra’s music set to the choreography by Twyla Tharp, will have a limited engagement at the Encore Theatre. We’ll have to take advantage of this opportunity since “The Great White Way” is just a tad out of reach for us at the moment.

It was quite bustling on the Strip. After we got our tickets we made our way through a sea of people towards the Venetian, where we planned to have a nice dinner. Along the way we ran into the cutest bear cub. He was a real friendly fella with a handsome face and nice beard. Although he was straight as an arrow he was still a feast for the eyes.

The rest of the evening was filled with more sightings of rather dashing men. For some reason there were literally hundreds of Marines and a few sailors in town. While we didn’t find out what the reason for this “invasion” was, it was eye candy heaven to see these handsome guys strut their stuff in these sharp-looking dress uniforms.

Cliché be damned. I love a man in uniform.

For dinner, George and I had scrumptious Crispy Caramel Chicken and Four Cheese Pizza at the Grand Lux. We love that place. Afterwards we strolled along the Strip to walk off the gained calories and to google-eye all these cute guys in uniform. We also admired this year’s very nice lineup of men’s fall clothing at Banana Republic. Beautiful color combos this year. Of course, one will press hard to find one man dressed like this in Las Vegas. First, it’s still too warm here in the desert for these types of clothing. Even in winter. And secondly,...well, this is Las Vegas...this is Casual Clothing Central.

All in all, another nice evening in the City of Sin. Next week we’ll be back in the neighborhood again to see Diana Ross at the Coliseum at Caesars.


Below are few snippets from our evening on the Strip on Saturday.

Bright lights along the Las Vegas Strip.

The lobby of the Palazzo Resort & Casino.
The Shoppes at the Palazzo.
Carpet inside the Shoppes at the Palazzo. Some of the carpets inside Las Vegas’ casinos are an attraction by themselves.

There's always a crowd at the Sushi Samba inside the Palazzo.

After enjoying some gelato at the “Fountain of the Gods.”

The porte-cochère of the famed Caesars Palace hotel and Casino.
More bright lights on the Strip.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


When was the last time I actually posted something on this here blog thingy? I don’t seem to be on here that much anymore. There’s really not a lot of spare time left anymore nowadays. Granted, I seem to be on Facebook more often than I would like to be. A friend called it Facecrack. And I seem to have developed a slight addictive tendency towards it.

But a lot has been going on lately. In my case it was mostly work and George is still studying hard for his master in education. And would you believe it? Next Wednesday is his last official class. However, he still has to finish his student teaching at one the local schools here in the Las Vegas Valley. But he’ll be done with that too by the end of this month. Then my George is a fully licensed teacher. He will also have his first interviews for a teaching position with the County School District next week. I’ll be thinking very good thoughts and wish him all the best.

Ich drück Dir die Daumen! Or as the French say...fingers crossed!

I know, I just love to toss things around a bit.

The midterm election in the United States are finally over. And I’m using the term “United” very loosely here. I thought this political circus would never end. It has released some truly fascinating creatures into the arena. Some of these political clowns made for a good laugh but some other animal tamer’s acts just left us in sheer horror. At times, George and I weren’t quite sure if we were watching an awfully written fantasy flick or if some mentally challenged jokester wanted to turn this once progressive thinking country back into some draconian Taliban-style theocracy, where scholars will teach our future generation that Jesus had dinosaur steaks for dinner with some flatbread. Flat like the earth itself.

I had to stop reading the news. The so-called “news” that the American media was throwing at us, that is. We are getting most of our news from independent news sources or foreign news outlets. In my case it’s mostly from web site of German newspapers, magazine and TV stations. They are primarily neutral, objective and also report about other stuff that is happening beyond the fortress walls that has become America. Imagine that!?

Yes, Billy Bob. There is another world just behind Wal-Mart.

We have stopped watching TV networks altogether anyway. First, there’s really nothing on worth watching besides maybe one or two series. And second, they’ve forgotten what news are. Unless one considers the dumb hairstyle of Justin Bieber or some bimbos trashing each other “news.”

But there were a few bright spots coming out of this election. Total nutcase and loosely screwed Sharon Angle lost the race for the Senate in Nevada. First Lady in witchcraft and anti-wanking Christine O’Donnell also lost her Senator race in Delaware. Thank all who’s cocky and horny. And California didn’t completely turn red either. Despite the notion that some people thought they could just buy their way into governorship to the most populous state of the union. Image how the 160 million dollars, that Meg Whitman wasted on this useless campaign to become governor, could have been put to a much better use? It always amazes me anew how large amount of monies are being wasted in this country.

But I digress.

Most people in California have voted for a sane and equality-minded leadership. The voters have defeated Proposition 23, which would have prevented California’s climate law AB 32 from being enacted. Most people can dismiss and make fun of climate change all they want but it will not change the fact that it is happening as you read this. And with near 100 degrees temperatures, Los Angeles is currently experiencing the hottest days in November and just shattered a temperature record set in the early 1900s.

But California was always leading the way in progressing thinking. And it will again. It will take a while to recover from this economic crisis but California will come out ahead. Green energy is the future. There’s no other way. The rest of the country will get it eventually. If nothing else, they will be convinced by the profits a new industry will provide. It will not happen overnight, of course. But the Golden State is on the right tracks. Gotta love California. There’s a reason we always go there.

Speaking of which...George and I will be in the City of Angels again coming December. We got tickets to see the touring company of the “West Side Story” revival. We can’t wait to see it. It’s my favorite musical and I was lucky enough to see an original Broadway ensemble performing it on stage when I was still living in Munich. It was amazing.

Hopefully we will find time to meet with some friends too, since we are only going to be there for a weekend. Time flies the way it is already. And we’ve been thinking about what we could be doing for the long Thanksgiving weekend and the holidays. George is off anyway for Christmas school break and I will take my vacation between Christmas and New Year. Maybe we go on a last-minute trip? Maybe a staycation? We welcome any suggestions.

Then again, I would finally have some time to add some stuff on this here blog thingy.

George and I on one of our countless trips to Los Angeles. Here we are again at the Pacific Palisades in Santa Monica, a few years ago.