Husby Turns the BIG 3-0 in Vegas!

To celebrate turning his latest multiple of ten, I planned a Vegas weekend for the husby! I actually took him on a surprise Vegas trip for his 26th birthday four years ago. This year's surprise was that joining us in Vegas he would find....

His mom (who greeted us in the Venetian lobby with one of the performers playing the happy birthday song):

And his friend from Texas plus his fiance (here we are after dinner at Joe's in Caesar's Palace- delicious!!) 

We spent the night playing Black Jack. My crazy husband likes to make ridiculous plays. He says he has math behind him and most of the time it works out. At one point he split tens - which you should never do ever- and promptly got two Aces making two blackjacks! The dealer was stunned. Of course when he got the whole table to do it everyone lost. I'll also point out I did not take his advice and ended $100 up that night ;)  

At midnight Max officially turned 30! Here's the photo to document : )

The next day we celebrated with a birthday lunch at the Grand Luxe inside the Venetian. 

Then we headed over to the Bellagio for a backstage tour of Cirque Du Soleil's O! We first saw the show on Max's birthday trip four years before (I chose it knowing he loved water and the entire show is done over a ginormous pool). We saw it again on our anniversary last year, and I would seriously watch it over and over. Each time we had tons of questions about how they do everything, so going behind the scenes was incredible!

We learned about the rescue divers under the water, the tons of regulators to provide air to the performers, and we even got to go on the stage and under the pool. Photos were only allowed at the end of the tour so of course we snapped a couple.

Then it was off to the Bellagio's beautiful conservatory. 

I loved this art made of flowers! 

The Bellagio is home to Todd English's Olives, where we went for apps and drinks before the actual O Show.  

We learned about some interesting new alcohols, like this one called hum

A bonus at Olive's, you can see the Bellagio fountain show! 

Then it was off to see O

Again, photos were prohibited however I snagged this one from the Cirque Du Soleil website. It gives a glimpse to the amazingness of the show. 

To cap off the actual birthday, we dined at Sensi at the Bellagio (where we also celebrated Max's 26th birthday!).

The birthday treat came out in its own container made of ice, so neat! 

The next day there was lots of Craps playing. Max came out about even, and that's including the tips for his numerous White Russians ; ) Finally we were on the plane and headed back to Phoenix. So long, Vegas! 

Cabining Ladies

To celebrate summer, my sweet first grade teammate from last year (Patty) invited me + all our other teammates up to her beautiful cabin in Forest Lakes, AZ. 

It was a lovely few days of relaxing and laughing! Getting out of the Phoenix heat was the icing on the cake! 

The new school year is quickly approaching and I can't believe I'm not going to be teaching with these wonderful ladies next year! I'm going to miss them so much! 


Drink Coupon Update

Southwest must have known I was blogging about them (ha!), because the day after I posted my mini rant, Max received this in the mail: 

Yep, new drink coupons. With expiration dates. My ever rational husband tried to explain to me that the old (expiration date-less) drink coupons must have been an accounting nightmare for Southwest. The company would have had to continue keeping millions of dollars worth of these coupons on the books, carrying over every year without knowing if or when they would be redeemed. Now they can more accurately keep track of what's out there, knowing they will expire each year. 

Notice that I didn't get any coupons - just Max. He tried to tell me that he's flown more than me this year, however I think Southwest just doesn't like me anymore! ; )

Thumbs Down, Southwest. Thumbs Down.

I feel this post needs the prefacing label #firstworldproblems 

When we were debating our move to Arizona, we became very friendly with the airport in Phoenix (PHX). We learned PHX has two main carriers based here: Southwest and US Airways. Oddly, they are ranked first (Southwest) and last (US Air) in customer service. It was a no brainer who we'd do our flying through. We already loved Southest. Their flight attendants are funny, their pilots do humorous things like congratulate themselves on the intercom for nice landings, and they even have a heart in their logo! What's not to love? 

When we were flying from Phoenix to San Jose for our wedding, they had even arranged for champagne to be delivered to us on the flight! (We ended up having to change our flight for the next morning after already checking in and checking bags because we had forgotten our SCUBA gear, so it ended up not happening. Southwest, however, was awesome with letting us switch with no charges, getting us on the very next flight, and having our luggage that had already been checked waiting for us on the other end). 

Sometime ago (circa 2010), Southwest announced they were giving one year's notice before they would be discontinuing their drink coupon reward system. Under this old system, with every eight roundtrip flights flown, passengers would get a free roundtrip flight and two coupons for free alcoholic drinks. Yum. Beer, wine, G&T, whatever. With all of our flying, Max and I had accumulated some number of these drink coupons (which had no expiration date!). I remember dismissing the announcement, thinking perhaps they weren't serious about no longer honoring the old coupons. 

Somewhere at the end of 2011, the new system went into effect. True to their word, Southwest stopped taking the old drink coupons. Someone is actually suing them over it.

I definitely flew Southwest over the holidays, and didn't give it a second thought. I'm guessing though that passengers must be trying lately to still use these coupons because when flying out to San Jose a few weeks ago, instead of witty jokes in the intercom I heard this: Southwest is no longer accepting drink coupons with no expiration date. If you have one you will not be able to use it.

Where were my jokes about traveling with kids or adults who act like kids? This was probably the meanest thing I'd ever heard over the Southwest intercom. And it didn't even make sense! Not honoring coupons that had no expiration date? I had old drink coupons I'd been using as a bookmark. I looked down at them. Seriously, Southwest? There was no expiration date! They shouldn't expire! 

Apparently Southwest had put too many of these coupons out into circulation and wanted to purge the system. Well in my opinion, that is Southwest's own fault and they should not punish their loyal customers. Of course Southwest still does a bajillion other very nice things for their flyers. I mean, bags fly free? If you're a two-bag a trip kind of gal, that's saving $200 in baggage fees for a round trip flight. I in fact had checked two bags for this California trip. So looking at my drink coupons (estimated former value $10) and thinking of the two free bags I had just checked (a cost of $100 on any other airline) I resigned myself to that fact that I was still getting a good deal : )

Click here for a drink coupon update!

Summer Eats: Roast Chicken Salad with Peaches, Goat Cheese and Pecans

The summer Max and I were married (2009) I came across this recipe in Cooking Light for peach salad. I was obsessed with it. All the ingredients just work (I often omitted the chicken and served it as a side salad - with the chicken, it's a whole meal!). I made the salad probably ten times just in the first month. I think I might have overdone it because I had no desire to make it the next couple summers. This summer came around, however, and I knew I had to have it again! 

Roast Chicken Salad with Peaches, Goat Cheese and Pecans

  • Ingredients: 
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
  • 2 cups sliced peeled peaches 
  • 1/2 cup vertically sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • (5-ounce) package gourmet salad greens 
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese 
  1. Directions: 
  1. 1. Combine first 8 ingredients; stir with a whisk.
  1. 2. Combine chicken and remaining ingredients except cheese in a large bowl. Add vinegar mixture; toss gently. Sprinkle with cheese.

*In my opinion, the effort of making the dressing from scratch, peeling the peaches, toasting the pecans etc. is totally worth it! This salad is amazing.


SLR Takes the City by the Bay

One of my California days was spent as a girls day with my family doing a tasting tour of San Francisco's Little Italy. I broke out the SLR for the day:

We parked in Chinatown, and all the parking spots had fortunes on them! 

 Just around the corner was Little Italy!

The tasting tour started at Cafe Roma,

where we learned about coffee beans and roasting (the tiny bean is a green coffee bean pre-rosting - after it turns unto the big dark sort). 

 We moved on to sample biscotti, 

and famous San Francisco sourdough. 

We peeked in to see how it's still made in old, old ovens.  

The sun came out sometime after! 

Cute cousin pic: 

It was a beautiful San Francisco day!

The tasting tour led us to saltwater taffy,
 and fudge...

Then fish tacos, 

 and profiteroles!

Such a fun (and tasty!) day with the family! 
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