California Vacation ~ Part 1

Posted on October 17th, 2010 by Jean

Our family reunion/vacation has come and gone. It really flew by, as I knew it would. Our first day consisted of driving to Vegas, hopping on a plane, landing in Sacramento, renting a car, and checking into our hotel. At 4pm, we gathered at my brother’s house for my sister’s surprise birthday party hosted by our nine year old nephew. He had the dining room decked out in a Spider Man theme, and had personally made spidey cupcakes to compliment the bakery cake my Mom brought. High on a sugar rush, the kids played Wii games while we adults talked, laughed, and absorbed the warmth of family.
 

 
After the sun set, our rumbling stomachs insisted we toss down a sacrifice, so we gobbled burgers, nuggets and fries to appease them. We slept well in our new surroundings, but I dreamt of cutting open my pillow and removing half of the stuffing. I wasn’t meant to sleep with my chin resting on my chest, eyes staring at toes.
 
At 5am, we woke and began to kill time before contacting family. We drank coffee and fed the kids ramen noodles. The girls bathed, using the cinnamon-scented soaps and lotions. Tom retrieved plates of complimentary bacon and english muffins. Finally the hour was respectable enough to make a phone call, and we were soon in my parents’ kitchen. The girls wasted no time drawing pictures to adorn Grandma & Papa’s fridge.
 

 
At 11am, we caravanned to the Texas Roadhouse for lunch. I hadn’t heard of this fine establishment, but we were encouraged to throw peanut shells on the ground while the staff burst into spontaneous dancing. Birthday celebrants, such as my sister, are forced to sit on a saddle while patrons yell, “Yee Haw!” Don’t believe me? Watch the short video.
 

 
After a delicious lunch, we ventured over to the Jelly Belly Factory for a tour. The best part? Samples were handed out along the way. We tasted honey and plum beans and juicy pear centers.Family at Jelly Belly The pace was brisk, and we soon popped out at the Gift Shop. I couldn’t resist buying souvenir socks, water bottles, sour worms, and super fruit beans for the girls. Of course, I grabbed a bag of chocolate malt balls for myself. I love chocolate!
 
Still full from lunch and jelly bean snacks, we walked to a local pond, admiring the ducks & geese, and tossing them bread.
 
Returning to my brother’s, the kids entertained themselves with Wii until Uncle Jim performed an impromptu magic act. Tom got in at the end, and it was dueling card tricks to the astonishment of us all. Note to self: Learn a card trick!
 
We called it an early night because the next day we were heading to Six Flags.
 
To be continued.
 
• When was your last family reunion?
• Have you been embarrassed in a restaurant on your birthday?
• Know any card tricks?

Vegas Day Trip

Posted on May 7th, 2010 by Jean

Just returned from a day trip to Vegas. I love it there!
 
First stop, in Henderson actually, was Trader Joe’s. I brought a cooler and ice packs for the frozen items such as the Japanese ice cream the kids are so fond of. I also picked up a bottle of the new Clementine Sparkling Juice. Two thumbs way up!
 
After filling the cooler half way and securing the non-perishables, I ventured over to the Mandalay Bay hotel & casino. It is the first resort as you enter the strip from the south end, and offers quick access to their parking facilities.
 
The restaurant formerly situated next to the Burger Bar has been replaced by the new Hussong’s Cantina. It being Cinco de Mayo, I was in the mood for a margarita and Mexican fare. Ok, I’m always in the mood for a margarita and Mexican fare.
 
Hussong’s was having “The Most Interesting Man” Look-Alike contest. Had I know, I would have tried to bring my husband. He has the beard & mustache!
Well, regardless, I made my way to the entrance and requested a table for one. I was given a nice little table off to the side, a basket of chips & salsas, the menu and time to review it.
 
Hussong’s offers an Original and a Traditional margarita. I honestly didn’t know the difference, but assumed the original would be loaded with alcohol. When my waitperson approached, she offered me advice on my cocktail selection as well as my lunch choice. The Original uses all fresh ingredients while the Traditional uses a mix. I opted for the Original (both cost $10/ea.) I was torn between the lobster tacos and the avocado shrimp salad, and my server raved about the salad, calling it one of her favorite dishes. I ordered the salad, then sat back, enjoyed my chips, salsa and cocktail while listening to the laughter of fellow diners.
 
Soon my meal was approaching… an entire avocado, breaded and deep fried, filled with cooked shrimp and served on a bed of lettuce. Interesting! Tasty. Not sure I would order it again. The batter was rather thick on the avocado, but not bad overall. I gave Hussong’s 4 out of 5 stars on Yelp.
 
After lunch, I went to see my stylist, Brooklyn at ARCs, also in the Mandalay Bay. She gave me a trim and brightened my color (i.e. covered my gray). Her lovely assistant, Little Kelly did an amazing job rinsing & washing my hair and massaging my head & shoulders.
 
On the way out of dodge, I swung by the Cheesecake Factory for a few slices for my family; original with strawberries, key lime, and red velvet. I can attest the key lime is fantastic!
 
To view highlights of the day, just push play.
 

 
• What is your favorite day trip destination?
• What do you do there?
• Do you Yelp?


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