Monday, January 19, 2015

A BRIGHT AND SHINY NEW YEAR

Welcome to 2015!  My January, for the past few years, has started with a trip back home to spend some holiday time with loved ones not so near.  The lights of Vegas at Christmas somehow pale without the reflective snows of CO - yes, I miss the seasons!  A few bright and shiny pictures seemed an appropriate start to a fresh new year.
All in ONE yard, this eye-popping display had everything but the kitchen sink (which may have been under the snow) ~ a nativity; Santa; Disney, Peanuts and Sesame Street characters; a working carousel; hot air balloon; Broncos emblem; a peacock; etc., etc., ETC.!  Not an exceptionally big yard, but optimal light use WAS made!
The downtown suburb hubs shone brightly!  Denver has a fun little "tradition", in that the Civic Center is lit for Christmas and the lights don't come down until the end of the National Western Rodeo and Stock Show, towards the last week of January.  Many of the residents around town follow suit, happily...  
And another festive soul had his own boastful "forest" of twinkling trees.  I was overjoyed the traditions are being followed, allowing me to wallow in the AFTER-Christmas merriment!
To all who happen by, I hope this New Year brings you health, love, happiness, and "BRIGHT AND SHINY" by the yard-full!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

MERRY CHRISTMAS, TO ALL MY "WHOS"...

"Welcome Christmas, bring your cheer...
Cheer to all Whos, far and near.
Christmas Day is in our grasp...
So long as we have hands to clasp.
Christmas Day will always be...
Just as long as we have we!
Welcome Christmas, while we stand...
Heart to heart...and hand in hand!"
In keeping with the movie theme started two days ago, lyrics from "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" seem fitting this beautiful Christmas morning.  Photos taken at the Bellagio Conservatory and Atrium - the 42 foot tree houses 7,000 led lights and 2,500 ornaments.  Snowglobes, with animatronic figures inside, are 12 ft. high - 28,000 poinsettias blanket the floors, cushioning the trains and chocolate houses.  A chance to see the process of changing out spent blossoms on the bears this year...quite possibly the best job in town, in this beautiful setting (click on the photos to enlarge).
From my heart and hands, to yours...
Merry Christmas, my darling Whos - XOXO

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

"CAMERON, WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN TODAY?"...

..."what do you mean nothing good?  We've seen everything good.  We've seen the whole city!  We went to a museum; we saw priceless works of art!  WE ATE PANCREAS!"...Ferris Bueller

Well, maybe pancreas is stretching the truth a bit, but fried bologna anyway.  Two days until Christmas, and my friend Jackie and I had, what we term, our "Annual Christmas Party" today.  It was actually more like "Ferris Bueller's Day Out" - we saw everything good, in just the way Vegas does Christmas.  This is the lead-up to some really nice photos in two days, on Christmas, but these were a few of the fun things we saw along the way today...and because Jackie told me she's sick of looking at the pumpkin/brownie pie!
CUTE COWS!  At Holstein's Shakes and Buns in the Cosmopolitan, where we were trying to find the ice skating rink...on the top of a hotel...in the middle of the desert...in 70 degree heat today...we were kinda' underwhelmed once it was found.
Liberace's rhinestone encrusted Duesenberg, at the same joint.
A 50 ft. Giselle Bundchen; a large, golden framed photo of Tempest Storm in the Cosmo (for my dad); a Santa "swimsuit" for no-one, in a window of the Cosmo (well, it was a swimsuit store, but I don't think anyone was buying that it was anything but undergarments...and bad ones at that - alas, we do live in Vegas); and some square (lots of squares) purple woman in the hallway.
A LARGE sculpture made entirely of real canoes; a skylight looking up to a "sky scraping" hotel next door; Dom; watery tornadoes in Plexiglas tubes; and Mescal in groovy skull bottles.
Window shopping at the ritziest mall in town (WINDOW being the key word here) - The Crystal Shops at City Center.  The Mikimoto pearls were a single necklace that measured 100" worth of pearls!  I would SO rock those glasses, by the way!
Lunch at our favorite Pub - Todd English...always a tasty treat!
And leading up to lots and lots of Christmas and Santa, too...the jolly guy in the lower right (along with all of his packages) is entirely made from fondant and chocolate.  The tree and reindeer were enormous, as was the fun we had today.  Yep, two days until Christmas - I hope you're ready.  See you back on Thursday...two days left!  Make sure to take the time to notice the "fun stuff" around you.

"Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it"...Ferris Bueller

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

PUMPKIN-BROWNIE SWIRL PIE - HAPPY THANKSGIVING, FROM MY OVEN TO YOURS...

Seems the holidays are fast upon me ~ I can tell, as I've left little time for the blog (and/or reading) amongst that which has kept my hands busy this month, sadly.  Yesterday I had a request for a "holiday-ish" pie for a husband's office party.  Food Network Magazine published this recipe, just this month, and it was begging for a "go".  I gave it one - HIT IT OUT OF THE PARK, pretty much.
(1/2" brownie "crust" on the bottom)
Sharing with friends for a little different (and EASY) take on Pumpkin Pie this year.  Hope your day is happy and spent with those you hold dearest!  I'll be back to blogging (yes, and reading) in the next few weeks...HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
PUMPKIN-BROWNIE SWIRL PIE

INGREDIENTS

BROWNIE FILLING:
1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for the pie plate
1 12-oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 C. packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 C. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

PUMPKIN FILLING:
1 C. pure pumpkin puree
1 C. heavy cream
1 large egg
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. salt

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter the bottom and side of a 9-1/2" deep-dish pie plate.  Make the brownie filling:  Heat the butter, chocolate chips and brown sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the butter and chocolate are melted.  Remove from heat.  Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla, whisking until smooth.  Whisk in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt until combined.

Pour about one-third of the brownie batter into the prepared pie plate; set aside the remaining batter.  Bake until just starting to set and the top is shiny, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the pumpkin filling:  Combine the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, egg, granulated sugar, flour, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a medium bowl; whisk until smooth.

Pour the pumpkin filling over the warm brownie layer.  Stir 1 Tbsp. water into the remaining brownie batter, then spoon the batter (in about 6 scoops) onto the pumpkin filling.  Use a knife to pull the brownie batter into the pumpkin filling and create a swirled pattern.  Bake until the pie is set, 40 to 45 minutes.  Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Recipe courtesy of FOOD NETWORK MAGAZINE

Monday, November 10, 2014

A "LOVE/HATE" PROJECT...MY "FEARLESS ZOMBIE HUNTER" SHAWL

Unwittingly, two friends provided me with the absolute best AND worst project ever, for my birthday this year.  Finished just yesterday, my "Fearless Zombie Hunter" scarf (or The "Walker" Wrap).  A TRUE "love/hate" relationship, if ever there was one.  The original name on this pattern, for all you Ravelry chicks, is LES MISERABLES, and clicking on that will take you there (just like in Oz). 
The knitting bag and alpaca lace-weight yarn that inspired the creativity, coupled with a pattern I had catalogued in my stash.  MANY hours spent knitting a very well-written pattern, with mind-numbing amounts of stockinette stitch, while watching Daryl Dixon and his crossbow prowess on The Walking Dead, Sunday evenings.  And then, American Horror Story Freak Show started, and I knit right through that on Wednesday nights, too.
Felted yesterday morning, this came out SO soft and "drapey" - about 65" x 9" of intentionally tattered alpaca love. 
Pre-felting, this measured about 96" in length - or long enough to wrap a zombie (yeah, slight exaggeration).  Really fine, lace-weight yarn, coupled with large needles, made for scary knitting - LOTS of it.  So much stockinette stitch that it got VERY boring in the middle parts.  The fun came in watching the intentional runs being knit into the piece, and letting them ravel downwards.
Whether for Zombie Hunting, or simply as a fashion statement, it's going to keep me warm (I say, while secretly longing for a trek through the woods with a cross-bow wielding man, instead of just driving around town with it on).  LOVE/HATE for sure, on this project - and evidently I hated it so much that I've pulled out another skein I have squirreled away, to make a white one next!  Nuts? Undoubtedly.  Thank you to Jackie and Christy, for providing the "vehicle" for staying awake on the couch during countless nights of horror shows this past month. May YOUR week be zombie free!

Friday, October 31, 2014

HAPPY HOWLOWEEN!

Oh, the things you resort to when your kids are too big to trick-or-treat...
Our little 8 lb. Voltron! with his bad-ass mohawk...
The look he was going for - the Mohawk guy from Mad Max Road Warrior...yep, NAILED IT!
From our house to yours...a SAFE and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Monday, October 6, 2014

"BRIGHT LIGHT CITY" - LAS VEGAS, NV on "TRAVEL TUESDAY"

"...gonna set my soul, Gonna' set my soul on fire"...Viva Las Vegas ~ Elvis Presley

This week's Travel Tuesday finds me playing in my own backyard.  "Gambling Capital of the World", "Lost Wages", "Sin City", "Glitter Gulch", and "The Entertainment Capital of the World" - it's VEGAS!  Once a year my dad goes hunting in CO, and Mom hops a plane to visit us here in the sparkling desert.  We pack as much fun as we can into 10 days, which isn't hard to do in this town.  In addition to the obvious (slot machines are in every grocery store and gas station in town - they're not just for casinos anymore!), are the shows.
Seven in ten days this year (eight, if you count the new Jane Fonda movie, the same day as the last show we took in).  And, after taking my Dad to a few Burlesque shows for his 80th birthday this summer, I figured "turnabout was fair play", and YES, I took my Mom to Chippendales!  My daughter treated the three of us girls to the fabulous Broadway production of KINKY BOOTS (if you get the chance, GO!), with the remaining days filled with shopping, Blue Man Group, Viva Veracruz (a Mexican National dance extravaganza that Planet Hollywood brought in to celebrate Mexican Independence Day), Steve Connolly/Spirit of the King (you should always throw an Elvis show into the mix in Vegas), Chippendales, Rita Rudner, and Legends in Concert.
Our choices for entertainment are plentiful and varied here - this past weekend we got the chance to see the great Rod Stewart, yet again (the quintessential showman), and Jim Belushi and The Sacred Hearts blues band the following night.  My friend, Jackie, and I love nothing more than good blues and old rock.  WAY up front for both shows - fabulous THISCLOSE seats - it's been one hell of an entertaining fall, one month in!
But, the fun isn't ALL to be had right on Las Vegas Boulevard - The Strip, as it's affectionately know. Fremont Street, downtown, is the original Vegas.  A street of firsts - the first hotel was built here in 1906; first telephone went in in 1907; first street paved in 1925; first Nevada gaming license; first traffic light; first elevator; and the first high rise.  It also boasts the first structure designed, from the ground up, to be an actual casino...the Golden Nugget.  (These three and the one on the upper left below are stock photos - credit where credit is due.  The rest of the Vegas shots are all me, baby!).  It's changed a bit over the years, but the iconic landmarks are still in place.
By 1992, more than 80% of the Vegas casino market was on The Strip.  Looking to breathe new life into the Fremont Street area, a 5-block strip of the street was closed to traffic, and a 90 ft. high, 90 ft. wide, and 4 block long (1500 ft. in length) video screen was erected overhead - completed in 1995. Dazzling light shows, nightly, are shown on the Viva Vision Screen, comprised of 12.5 million energy-efficient LED lamps.  The 6 minute show changes hourly, with high resolution imagery in perpetual motion, and concert quality sound resonating under the "big top"!  Why, there's even a zip line under there, originating from the massive "Slotzilla" at the east end of the street.
They tried to keep the integrity of the original casino fronts and signage.  In fact, Las Vegas has been paramount in bringing back the original old neon signs from years gone by.  Restored and placed strategically throughout the downtown area - we're happy to see them enjoying new life.
Vegas Vicki and Vegas Vic have always been there - and always will be.  They're married, you know.
One of our 10 nights found my Mom, another friend from CO, and me at a show on The Strip - after which the friend inquired about what Fremont Street looked like after all these years, which was all I needed to hear.  Always "game" for an adventure and a chance to show someone the sights and sounds, we headed downtown for an hour at 10:30 p.m...
Putting us there just in time for the 11:00 light show - psychedelic merriment by graphic artist John Van Hamersveld on the massive screen overhead, while Time of the Season, by The Zombies, resonated throughout Fremont.
Lucky enough to have remembered to grab my real camera for the evening...the colors and images were eye dazzling!
Peace, love, and pop images, circa 1968.  There are also various stages positioned throughout the area, with live concerts going on during the evening...and it's all free!
Groovy cats...and kittens!  Dig it?!
While I know a lot of visitors with small children head to Fremont Street because of this draw (and because of the "free" thing - I get it), PLEASE be forewarned that it's really NOT as "family oriented" as one might want to believe.  This is still a gambling town, first and foremost!  Street performers, many in various stages of undress, line the four blocks during the raucous evening hours.  It's a different atmosphere from The Strip - definitely something everyone coming through town should experience at least once.  The people watching is PRIME - it's just not a place for the little ones.  REALLY!
You WILL be amongst a crowd on any given night.  But, it's actually fun...even if it's for an hour only. There's just something about Fremont Street that you won't get anywhere else in town!  Maybe, thankfully!
Universally considered to be the "Neon Capital of the World", as well.  Where else are you going to find a neon showgirl seemingly stepping out of a huge neon martini glass, complete with olive (I admit to being positioned at just the right angle to make this appear so).  You can see it all, here...and you will.  Viva Las Vegas!  There's music below, if you can find the arrow in the middle...