Monday, December 23, 2013

Vegas...Part II

Can't go to Vegas without partaking in a little bit of gambling :

Although I think we spent more on taxis than gambling even though we were graciously chauffeured around a lot:

This game scares me, but our hosts walked the boys through the ins and outs:

There are no more pictures of us at the tables because I was asked by the house to not take pictures. Apparently that's a rule. Just call me a rule breaker. But I did enjoy playing a little Black Jack with DH where I also broke the rules by touching the cards. Oops.

And you cannot go to Vegas without talking about the food:

The portions are HUGE and everything was so good.

Wish I had taken more pictures. I had a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich that was so good I had it twice while we were there. The hotel had a great little spot for breakfast that was known for it's giant pancake that had a layer of thinly sliced apple running through it. It was so good and one pancake fed all four of us:

Our boss took us to a Tapas restaurant - be careful when you enunciate THAT!- I get raised eyebrows when I talk about it. :)  - called Barcelona that was the highlight of the trip. Oh my goodness - was it ever amazing. This picture pretty much sums it all up. I love this gal, but I can't take her anywhere. LOL.

Wish I had taken a picture of the Sangria - I am a lightweight when it comes to drinking, but they kept bringing this Sangria by the pitcher and the owner of the restaurant kept filling our glasses. It was the best thing ever. I am now on the hunt for that Sangria recipe.

And the booths at Cowboy Christmas!

It was endless and we only made it to 2 of the three venues. Even then, I don't think we saw it all. Truth be told, I was overwhelmed and didn't know where to look first. I didn't do too much damage, but I could have!

And we spent time at South Point which is where they have the roping and we all knew people there:

Everyone says you have to actually attend the rodeo at least one night:

We were completely amazed at how the beer was filled from the bottom. It doesn't take much to entertain us. LOL

We had amazing seats and enjoyed every minute:

 And on the 3rd night we went to see Terry Fator:

What a fun show and talented man! He gives all of the proceeds from the sales of his merchandise to St. Jude's and organizations that help wounded military. He gets my vote. After the show, we walked the strip for about 3 1/2 hours.

We just wandered in

And out of casinos

And saw the sights:

 We got lost in the MGM - actually I got us lost in the MGM :) , but eventually found our way out. Too crowded for our tastes, but very glad we wandered through. Don't know how we found ourselves in a mall, but we did and C and I meandered into this store:

I would SO break my leg wearing anything in there. When we came out, C's hubby said, "What? No Choos for you?"  It just cracked us up. There was a lot of that going on during this trip.

And I couldn't very well NOT take a picture in front of a store that showcases antique sewing machines in the windows:

What a very cool trip for us. I didn't expect to like Vegas as much as I did, but I'm thinking we are going to have to go back at some point and time during the NFR again!

We're incredibly grateful for the generosity and hospitality of the dear couple we work for. You two are the best, but we've always known that!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

What Happens in Vegas...

stays in Vegas...or so I have been told...unless you're a blogger. And with technology today, I imagine not much happens that doesn't end up somewhere on the Internet. That's a scary thought, but we just came back from 4 days there and my story is g-rated. ;)

But, WOW! We've never been to Vegas. Y'all know we never go anywhere, but this year, our very generous employer and his incredible wife flew

 us there during the NFR. It's something that's been on our bucket list for years and we were over the moon about going! We left out at 4 am on Saturday morning to catch our flight in Midland, TX. We had just had a second winter storm blow through that left us with 3 1/2" of snow and icy roads, but for the most part, we had smooth sailing. It was going to take more than a little snow and ice to keep us from Vegas.

Another fun aspect of our trip is that we have some very dear friends that run another ranch for the same people we do and they too made the trip with us. We've been friends for 20 years and have always talked about taking a trip together so that was just the icing on the cake for us.

We're not seasoned travelers at all, so even the airport keeps me entertained. In Texas, your hats get special treatment when rolling through security:

and our flight into Vegas was quite entertaining. I don't know if all flights are that way, but our boss's wife assures us that many of them are. People get really excited about going to Vegas. DH and I sat a midst a group of people that were ready to partake in the alcoholic beverages before we even took to the air, but they were really funny about it. Especially one guy who offered to pass out the peanuts in order to expedite the process. Those flight attendants have to have a great sense of humor on those Vegas flights.

They asked everyone to close their window shades as we descended and when a few people became concerned, the flight attendant assured everyone that everything was ok. Then they asked everyone to turn on the flight attendant call button and sing Happy Birthday to Joe. They really did look like candles and we all turned them off as Joe blew them out. And don't rule out Karaoke when you fly to Vegas either.

And these were our accommodations when we arrived:

looked to me like something that would be in Dubai.

Not that I've ever been to Dubai, but I was a bit overwhelmed. I felt like the country mouse that had wandered into the big city and I spent a lot of time walking around with what I imagine was an open mouthed stupid look on my face. Its kind of hard to look suave when you walk around like that.

The building is shaped like a wedge in order to be more energy efficient.

I took pictures, but I borrowed the above pictures from the website. This was our view from our room

I neglected to take pictures of our actual room, but we were pretty impressed with the amenities in the bathroom...that black rectangle in the mirror is a television.

Needless to say, we had SO much fun! I don't want to bore you to tears with a novel about our 4 days in Vegas, but since my blog is kind of a record of what goes on around here, there WILL be another post...or 2. :)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Baking Up a Storm and Cueing Up Christmas

I'm one of those, "Don't Mention Christmas Until the Sun Sets on Thanksgiving" kind of people, but Thanksgiving night, we break out the first Christmas movie of the year to herald in the season and this year the flour started to fly the very next day. With our girl home for a few days, baking is much more fun. Everything is more fun when she is around. She loves it as much as I do and she's always baking and cooking for her friends and neighbors when she's at college. Growing up, she preferred to be out at the barn with her Daddy, and she still does. Once a Daddy's girl, always a Daddy's girl and I love that.

 but I guess some of the endless hours of time her Mama spent in the kitchen rubbed off somewhere! And wherever the 2 of us are gathered, music will be playing and off key or not, chances are we'll be crooning along. Once again, we made herd of these:

This photo is from a previous reindeer making session.Every year I think I couldn't possibly need to make anymore and every year, I find myself making them. Our girl is taking them with her to college and then I have a date with my friend, Lora, who lives on the neighboring ranch to make more.

We're trying to get a head start on the baking this year so that we can pack a  box to send to our boy who is on the other side of the world for this deployment. It's hard to send Christmas in a box, but we're going to try. I usually don't start baking until later for the simple fact that it disappears really fast around here. :)

We've got a good start. We'll send jerky that DH made from the deer he brought home a few weeks ago, dried apples, these almond bark covered pretzels

which are not hard to make, but they take a lot of time.

the Pretzel Rolo Thingies that SOMEONE has been sneaking before they are even set. :)

  and Gingerbread Cowboys.

 We also made a batch of toffee, but  that was quickly packed and college bound before I thought to snap a picture. DD left a bag for her Daddy, but that didn't last very long either.

It's hard to know what to send when DS literally has no place to keep things, but I'm guessing that homemade baked goods won't hang around for long!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

1st Snow of the Season

We were in Lubbock on Thursday and by the time we headed home that afternoon, the storm was on our heels. We had a strong tail wind that carried us home and we hunkered down for the first storm of the season that left us with 4 solid inches of good wet snow.

It was a good weekend to snuggle under piles of quilts and let the tea kettle simmer on the stove and that's just what we did. I was recuperating from outpatient surgery so the only pictures you get are from inside my cozy home.

 Crazy cat wanted out:

Nothing serious and I'm fine, but it really was the perfect weekend to lay low and recuperate. And the only reason I mention it at all is so that I can brag on my hubby for a minute. What a guy! I'm telling you, I fell in love all over again with this man who cooked for me and tended to my every need. He did my chores and cleaned the kitchen too. And no, I don't just love him because he does things for me. He's the kind of guy you can count on in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, and through thick and thin...even after 26 years. Our girl told me we were just precious and that she wanted a marriage like we had. I've been praying for both kids and their future spouses from day one. I still shake my head that the good Lord brought us together, but you can bet that I don't take a minute of it for granted. Neither one of us is perfect, far from it, but the fact that we are perfect for each other is one that does not escape me. We make a good team. Marriage requires a lot of teamwork. I still shake my head and count my blessings.

We're gearing up for a quiet Thanksgiving around here and wishing our boy could be home, but our girl will be, and we'll be baking up lots of good things to send his way! The list of things I'm thankful for is long and I'm very mindful of the fact that I ought to be more thankful for them each and every day of the year. And today I am especially thankful for this guy:

Wishing all you a very Happy Thanksgiving filled with God's blessing and all of the traditions that bring you joy!

Monday, November 25, 2013

November Tomatoes

We've received almost 10" of rain this year. After 3 years with 3-4" of annual rainfall, 10" is a huge blessing. It sure does make us breath easier going into the winter with some grass in the pastures and those blessings spilled over into my garden. I have 8 tomato plants and 7 cherry tomato plants and we have been enjoying tomatoes since June. Then, in September we had a week of rain, and my tomato plants exploded.

 When we had out first freeze, I went out and covered them with flannel sheets. Yes, I really did. See?

 DH laughed and reminded me that it WAS the end of September and it was probably time to put the garden to bed for the winter, but I can't remember the last time I had that many tomatoes on just a few plants and I was determined to save them. And save them I did. However, now we were expecting a hard freeze for a few nights in a row and we were going to be away from the ranch so I spent one morning picking tomatoes.

My quality control assistant was close at hand:

And I picked:

 And I picked:

And I picked:

We munched on the remaining red ones and savored the last taste of summer. When we got back home, I set to making pickles and chow chow with my mountain of tomatoes.

I saw the green tomato pickle recipe on Judy's blog here so I made up a batch of those:

and then I hunted for what sounded like a good chow chow recipe. I have one, but it is an onion chow chow so I found one that had jalapenos and everything is better with jalapenos so that's the one I'm using. If they're any good, I'll share the recipe, but they've got to set a bit.

I'm hoping to get the rest ripened and make salsa and tomato sauce and soup. If you need me, I'll be in the kitchen behind a mountain of tomatoes and canning jars.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

When Life Gives You Apples...

you spend a lot of time in the kitchen...coring, peeling, slicing, and dicing. However, this is my favorite time of the year and we've had days and weeks of amazing fall weather and apples rank high on the list of my favorite fall things. For years and years, when we lived in Texas, we had orchards at our finger tips

 and we made lots of apple picking trips.

  I  miss those days.

However, I fondly recall those memories when I am up to my elbows in apples. I made apple butter and apple sauce

and diced apples for apple cake:

and made batches and batches of dried apples.

This batch goes to our boy who was just deployed the other day:

 - I dry some plain and some with a dash of cinnamon and sugar. I have 8 trays for my dehydrator and the top 2 trays are always empty by the time the apples are ready and I can't blame it on the kids anymore. DH is like a kid when it comes to sneaking into the cookie jar...or dehydrator. I'm saving back a couple of apples for a pie - hard to beat a good homemade apple pie!

Its been a productive couple of days:

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