Thursday, October 25, 2012

Las Vegas: Sights to See

Before I get into all of the fun stuff we did in Las Vegas, I have to throw up a quick review of the bag I used as a camera bag and day pack.  As we were planning our trip, I heavily researched camera bags.  I wanted a comfortable camera bag that also allowed for additional non-camera items, was easy to access for quick pictures, and was airplane/TSA compliant.  Not an easy item to find, let me tell you!  Thankfully some other photographers out there turned me on to the Kata DR466i.  Though the bag did get heavy after hours upon hours of walking around, it was very comfortable to wear.  It also didn't let my back breathe well, but no backpack is going to do any better.  I carried my Nikon D5000 and a few accessories in the bottom of the bag and my Kindle, wallet, typical purse/bag stuff, and some snacks in the upper half with plenty of room left over.  I had absolutely no problem carrying my bag through the airport or onto the planes.  The tripod holder functioned very well as a loop to stick my fleece pullover through.  I really liked the chest strap as well, a nice addition.  The backpack is durable and seems to be constructed like a battleship.  I might not carry this bag as my every-day bag (Timbuk2 has my heart in that arena), but it is a great camera pack for sure, especially for hiking or vacations!

Now, onto the fun:

Hoover Dam looking from Nevada into Arizona
Hoover Dam was high on everyone's list.  We ventured out to the dam early on our first full day in Nevada.  Mom, Dad, and I (with my sister) went to Hoover Dam about twenty years ago (saying that makes me feel old), and it was over 110° last time.  This time, we chilled around 90°, a much more comfortable and reasonable change.  Being Oregonians, however, we were all very warm.  Yuck.  Dad and The Man went on a dam tour while Mom and I investigated things from the top of the dam and the gift shop.  I gave The Man my camera, so he took pictures inside the dam.  Being all terrified of heights, not a fan of large bodies of water, and generally hating heat, I was not thrilled to be at the dam.  Mom and I walked over to the Arizona side of the dam, so I can say I've been to Arizona twice now.  The Man and I bought a couple souvenirs at the gift shop, and then we all headed to our next destination.

Hoover Dam looking downriver toward the new bridge (which terrified me)
The Ethel M. Chocolate Factory was a ton of fun.  We walked through the beautiful cactus garden for quite a while before heading in to see chocolate being made, sampling chocolate, and then buying chocolate (hello lighter wallet).  I wish they'd take the Christmas lights off of the cacti in the garden during the non-holiday season, but I understand how difficult it would be to put them on and take them off each year.  The lights were distracting.  Otherwise we really enjoyed this stop.

Ethel M. Chocolate Factory: cactus garden (pretty, but so not my lush, green, allergenic grass)
After lunch, we agreed to check off another big thing on our lists--especially my list--"CSI: The Experience" at the MGM Grand.  I was so excited to do this as I used to be a big fan of the show (until William Peterson left, then I quit watching, because, really, he was the show).  CSI: The Experience is an interactive exhibit that teaches people about crime scene investigation both through videos and text, and the participants get to "solve" a crime as they tour the exhibit.  Mom's background in criminology and the legal system and my experience with science and observation made us a formidable team.  Dad and The Man bundled their extensive logic and craftiness to make the other team.  Our goal, according to the exhibit host, was to get through the exhibit and solve the crime--different crimes for each team--faster than the other team.  Game ON!  We started by watching a little video explaining our purpose, and then we moved on to the "crime scene."  We observed the scene (nothing gory or explicit, somewhat of a letdown actually), took notes, and then moved on to ballistics, trace, and the lab to gather more evidence before reviewing the autopsy and drawing our conclusions.  At the end, we presented our evidence and conclusions to Grissom and were rewarded with a certificate indicating we completed our task if we were correct.  We were.  I don't know if I was expecting something wildly different, but the exhibit was very disappointing.  I didn't have to use much of my brain at all.  Maybe little kids or drunk people would struggle with the exhibit, but we all thought it was pathetically easy.  Every time we went to the next section, we'd see the answer to something we were supposed to figure out in the previous section.  There was no possibility for error.  Lame.  We all finished at the same time and exited through the gift shop pretty quickly.

The one big thing everyone told us we had to do in Las Vegas was see a show.  Shows in Vegas are expensive, or at least more than I'm used to paying in Oregon.  We were shocked that some shows cost as much as $200 or more per seat.  Ouch.  We decided we'd go to a show on our third night, so that morning I started looking for tickets in a price range we didn't hate.  We all settled on going to a Cirque du Soleil show, so after comparing prices and seating availability, I suggested the Mystère show at Treasure Island.  At the last minute, I was able to find seats at center stage in the third row.  AWESOME!  Later that night, after standing in one of the longest lines I've ever seen, we wound our way into the theater for what amounted to an incredible, fantastic show.  The stage was great, the costumes and makeup were perfect, and the changing acts really kept a great pace.  While the aerial acts made me feel a bit lightheaded, I loved the Chinese poles, the hand-to-hand gymnasts, and the trampoline series.  We're all very glad we went to see this show.  The music--all performed live in the theater--was also incredible.  If you get a chance to see Mystère, GO!

That's about it.  Between flights, too much food, hours and hours of walking and seeing casinos, taking in sights along the strip, relaxing in the pool, and visiting the things mentioned above, we had a very full vacation.  I am so happy to be home, though, as there really is no place like home.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Las Vegas: Food Reviews

Las Vegas proved to be a culinary challenge for The Man and me.  We struggled to find moderately priced somewhat healthy non-fast food throughout the vacation.  We made a rule before we left that we didn't want to eat anywhere in Las Vegas that we could eat around home (so no Olive Gardens, no Burger Kings, and no bars--unless the bars were highly recommended).  We also didn't want to spend very much except for our anniversary dinner, and even that shouldn't be too expensive.

After many, many hours of researching the Big Name restaurants in Las Vegas (those tied to Puck, Batalli, Robuchon, et al.), we decided that we didn't want to take a chance on a celebrity chef taking food we love--chicken, for example--and smothering it in food we hate--any gooey sauce or fungus.  Ruling out Big Names and fast food greatly reduced the offerings in Las Vegas.  Few, if any, of the mid-priced or low-priced offerings had positive reviews online.  What's a family to do!?

In-n-Out Burger.  We don't have these in Oregon, so we've heard talk about the legendary fries and amazing burgers that can be customized into fantastic creations, but we'd never eaten there before.  Straight from the airport, we headed to the nearest In-n-Out to see about all the fuss.  The lines proved to be long, the scent inside delicious, and the turnover incredibly fast considering the crowd.  We only waited a short while for our fresh, hot fries and cheeseburgers to be prepared.  The fries were all devoured quickly, and the burgers didn't slow down much on the way into our bellies.  Very, very good.  We ended up going to another of these fine establishments the next day for lunch as well.  The die-hard In-n-Outers that I know swear by this place, but I have to say I'm a bit more devoted to Burgerville.  BV's fries are not as fresh, but they're a bit thicker (more akin to McDonald's, but better).  BV's burgers are better than In-n-Out due to the cheese and non-greasy buns.  I tolerate plasticky cheese just fine, but if someone gives me the option for Tillamook cheese, there isn't really a debate.  Fork over the cheddar ASAP!  In-n-Out gets a 4.5/5 from me.

My cheeseburger on the left and The Man's "Double-Double" on the right with 2x as much meat and cheese. YUM!
Our first night in Vegas included a long wait to get into Bootlegger on the south end of the strip.  Bootlegger is a family-owned Italian restaurant that you really, really need to have reservations for if you plan to eat there in the evening.  We didn't know this.  We know now.  Once we got seated, the service was excellent.  The menu had many things on it we all liked, and the prices were very reasonable.  My ravioli arrived hot and delicious, and The Man's chicken parmesan with alfredo sauce was to-die-for amazing.  Mom and Dad both complained a bit that while their food was very good, it was a tad salty.  I completely agree, especially about the house meat sauce.  I chugged pop like it was going out of style through dinner just to get the sauce down.  Otherwise this was an excellent meal for a good price.  4/5 from me.

Our second night in Vegas was a doozy.  We struggled to find a place to eat for a long time before we stumbled into Earl of Sandwich.  Not exactly high-brow food, but the sandwiches had excellent reviews.  We all learned why.  My "all american" turkey, cheese, lettuce, and cranberry jelly sandwich was awesome, and the house kettle chips were pretty good.  Not the biggest meal, but the price was great.  Relatively healthy food and lighter fare after a second burger lunch was greatly appreciated by all.  4/5 from me.

On our third night, we celebrated our anniversary at the Peppermill on the north end of the strip.  The menu looked amazing, and the prices were pretty good for mid-to-higher end casual dining.  The Man ordered a steak: he said it was good (if a little fatty), and the side dishes were very good.  I had chicken parm, but it was the weirdest--and most humongous--chicken parm I've ever had.  Two GIGANTIC chicken breasts, breaded, fried, and cheesed, layered on top of at least a pound of pasta, sauteed peppers and onions, and the lightest, sweetest tomato sauce on earth.  The chicken was incredible, and the pasta was perfectly cooked.  My $25 plate, however, could easily have fed two grown men.  I ate as much as I could hold, but there was still a solid meal left over.  The Man finished the majority of his meal at least.  It was all delicious, but I do wish the portion sizes were more realistic.  This is the only time I think I've ever whined about getting too much for my money.  4/5 for me (half a point off for the lack of atmosphere inside and dodgy characters outside, and half a point off for sllooooow service).

Our last night was actually the most difficult meal out of the week.  We were all stuffed from lunch still, and we didn't want a big dinner before going to bed early.  We ended up agreeing to hop down the street to Raising Cane's, a fast-food chicken shop.  We each ordered a small amount of food and took it all back to our room.  None of us thought it was amazing or really worth going back to, but it wasn't bad.  The fries were good.  The toast was rather unnecessary after fries and fried chicken, but whatever (just pile on the carbs!).  2/5 from me.

We did visit two buffets in Las Vegas, partly because everyone talked about how popular the buffets are, and partly because it was easy to please everyone by going there.  The most popular complaint I read online about the buffets was that the food is always cold.  Think about it though: if you start on one end of the buffet line and pick out the hot food first, of course it is going to be cold by the time you wind through the buffet and get back to your table.  Don't ding the buffet for your lack of speed getting the food to your face.  Take smaller amounts of hot food to your table and go back to the line with a clean plate more often.

The buffet at the Bellagio was really good.  The food was fresh, hot, and looked delicious.  The pizza appeared to be rather blah, but it tasted fantastic.  The Man enjoyed his turkey and ribs.  Dad hit the pineapple and frozen yogurt pretty hard.  While neither Mom nor I were particularly enthusiastic about the soup (crunchy potato soup? yuck), we both like the more traditional fare.  Aside from a killer raspberry sorbet and some decent cookies, the dessert bar is where the Bellagio fell flat.  The cheesecake wasn't even cold, not to mention most of the other desserts all tasted the same.  4.5/5 from me.

The Mandalay Bay buffet did not have good reviews online, but it was rated higher than most of the other buffets.  Since we were on that end of the strip on our last day, we had lunch at the buffet.  The selection wasn't quite as vast as Bellagio's, but the offerings looked really nice.  The bread baskets overflowed with rolls and bagels, and the pizza looked incredible.  I was also pleased to see some more ethnic offerings, especially the Spanish rice.  The pizza ended up being not so great.  The bread rolls could have been used to play hockey.  The rice was gross.  We all ate plenty to get full, but the food just wasn't great.  The desserts, however... hidden off to one side is the dessert bar, and there's a good reason it is hidden.  Any more obvious and that place would be crawling with people.  The desserts were AMAZING.  Dad was disappointed that they didn't have any ice cream or froyo, but he suffered through chocolate cake and apple turnovers, muffins galore and cheesecakes high and low like a trooper.  Poor guy, right?  I threw all sense of caution and reason to the wind and ate until I was ready to heave.  4.5/5 from me.

We all looked forward to vegetables and fruit when we got home--and big bowls of chicken noodle soup to detox our bodies from the onslaught of salty/sweet/huge meals day after day on vacation.  I've enjoyed being back in the kitchen whipping out healthier versions of our favorite restaurant food.  Seriously, celery and peanut butter never tasted so good.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Las Vegas: Casino Reviews

We hit the majority of the casinos on The Strip last week, whether as a destination or as a link to another casino.  Though none of us are gamblers (okay, we dropped a whopping $10 between three of us in some slot machines), we did want to see these places we hear about on TV and in movies.  I am not going in any particular order of our trip.  These are my own views that may not be shared by others on our vacation (although I'm pretty sure they agree with me for the most part).

First and foremost, ALL of the casinos allow smoking.  We, the Oregon hippies, did not realize the rest of the nation hadn't outlawed smoking to the extent we are familiar here in our enclave.  We're all used to the restaurants, workplaces, stores, and bars being completely smoke-free.  I don't remember the last time I was in a restaurant and heard someone ask for the "smoking section."  Las Vegas?  Didn't get the memo apparently.  And ALL of the casinos try to cover up the smoky smell with a hideous perfume or air "freshener" that only serves to thicken the air and make everything smell gross.  We all had sore throats and a hard time breathing in the casinos, especially the Luxor (poorly ventilated) and The Mirage (perfumed heavily).  None of the casino floors smelled pleasant.  This was a hard thing for us to get over.

Mandalay Bay was really big.  That's something that struck Dad right away.  The corridors are all very wide and quite tall, so the furnishings have to be equally large to fill the space.  The convention center was enormous, and the pool area was massive.  The casino here seemed so small compared to the rest of the hotel/resort.  We went in a few of the shops, explored the really nice lobby area with beautiful aquarium (containing sharks no less).  Though there was a wedding in the garden outside, we wish we could have explored that area as well as it seemed beautiful and peaceful.

We took a tram from Mandalay Bay to the Luxor next door.  The Luxor was probably the most unique casino on the strip.  Shaped into a pyramid with a spike of light streaming straight out of the top at night, the Luxor was impressive.  There wasn't much to see inside aside from the interesting terrace of hotel rooms above the casino, a few shops on the mezzanine level, and two very expensive exhibits we didn't visit.  Very neat inside, but nothing remarkable beyond that.

Fountains at Bellagio at night from the Las Vegas Strip.

Another tram took us over to the Excalibur, one of the most dated and overrated casinos on the strip.  The air quality was atrocious and musty, the carpets were gross, and there wasn't much to see.  I did enjoy the stained glass windows and interior architecture.  Everything was easy to find inside (bathrooms, information, shops, etc.), but nothing was special.  It just felt tired.  Oh, and the show there with the jousting and a meal? Over $60 per plate after taxes, and they don't even give you silverware.  I get the whole "but it's medieval and they didn't have forks then!" but seriously, give me a damn fork already.  We didn't see the show (did that as a kid).

New York-New York was also nothing to write home about.  Though the inside was attractive and the little shop area on the southwest corner was pretty cool, nothing about this casino evoked a welcoming environment.  The lobby area is a joke, the paintings are cartoonish (miserable fail at art deco), and the general ambiance is lacking.  While I really appreciated the outside architecture, the inside felt empty.

The Bellagio was opulent.  We all really liked the lobby with the Chihuly skylight and conservatory nearby.  I could have found a nice little home near the Chihuly store beyond the flower gardens.  We saw two fountain shows at night and loved them.  My only negative mark against The Bellagio would be the stores at Via Bellagio (the inside mall area): who buys Prada, Armani, Tiffany & Co., and all of those other name-brand luxuries?  Clearly I was not part of the Bellagio target demographic.  We tried to find a place to eat at this casino that served food in our price range that didn't take food we love and smother it in food we hate (leave the chicken alone!), but every restaurant was froo-froo or too high-brow for us.  Pretty, but not my type.
Bellagio lobby skylight with Chihuly glass.

One block up from Bellagio is Caesar's Palace and the Forum Shops.  More of the same expensive stores all over these two places, so it's safe to say our money didn't exactly make a run for it.  Caesar's is just huge.  The casino is quite separated from the rest of the place, which was nice, but it took us forever to walk past all of the shops, restaurants with famous names (and egos) attached, theaters, and slow-moving people.  This casino had an A-List feel, and we were definitely not part of the A-List.  While I liked the indoor shopping mall at the Forum Shops, I wasn't moved by the casino.  Terrible interior directions.

The Mirage had a nasty perfumed smoke that greeted us just inside the front doors.  Getting through the cloud and past the palm tree oasis entrance (pretty, but trite) was a challenge.  We did really like the Terry Fator Theater lobby area and shop nearby.  The casino area is large, but it was easy to navigate and was well well-marked.  We didn't get to see the volcano explode at night out front, but we did take the tram over to Treasure Island.  These trams really saved our feet, knees, hips, backs, and minds from the pavement and heat.

Treasure Island was probably one of the most well-traveled casinos on the strip by our little party.  We were everywhere in this casino.  The atmosphere, while dated, was lively.  The shops were clean and easy to find.  There didn't seem to be much of a lobby area, but the entrance out front was really neat with the lagoon and pirate ship shows 4x daily.  We didn't have any navigation problems here, and parking was super easy (although not well-marked).

The Stratosphere, for all of its height, failed to measure up.  This casino was probably the most underwhelming spot on the strip.  The interior was a bad attempt at everything, navigation signage was lacking, and the escalators were "closed" (hello? they just turn into stairs).  The shopping area was probably the nicest spot in the whole place simply because it was a quiet spot with few people and several penny masher machines for Dad.  I don't think any of us will be returning to the Stratosphere anytime soon.

Planet Hollywood is definitely a planet unto itself.  That casino and resort is absolutely ginormous.  The Miracle Mile shops are exactly that: a mile of shopping.  The size of this place alone is overwhelming.  While we didn't spend much time in the casino part and only briefly glimpsed the lobby, we wound through the maze that is M&M World and the Coca-Cola store forever.  Planet Hollywood is a sensory overload, and I feel like we would have needed a week just to get acclimated to the visual and scented assaults.  Too much!

MGM Grand was probably everyone's favorite casino from our group.  Everything about this place was grand.  The lobby was beautiful and appropriately large.  The casino was well-planned.  The place didn't stink too much.  The theaters and eateries were easy to find but not distracting.  We found maps helpful, and the maps were easy to find.  Shopping, likewise, was easily accomplished along a mall.  Parking proved easy.  Despite the construction happening and an odd layout on the block, the MGM Grand was a very nice stop on our casino tour.

We very briefly visited a couple other spots along the strip, but I didn't get enough of a look to comment on them.  Overall we learned we aren't casino people.  Too much smoke (seriously, it's tough for us), no loud clinking coins anymore (disappointing to see all electronic games), and not enough advertising for the mid-priced restaurants that don't display some big chef's name.

Tomorrow, food reviews.  Tonight, washing the remaining casino stink out of my jeans.

Monday, October 22, 2012

My First Flight!

Taxiing on the runway at Eugene: Las Vegas bound!
Sorry for the absence, dear reader, but I went on vacation to Las Vegas!  I experienced so many things over this last week that I'm going to take several posts to explore everything again.  To start, this post is going to be all about my first flying experiences.

Just popping out of the clouds after take-off (and an hour).
We flew on Allegiant from Eugene, Oregon, to Las Vegas, Nevada on Monday and home again on Friday.  Our airplane was an MD-80 for both flights.  My parents sat in the front two seats on the left side of the aisle, and we sat in the two seats right behind them.  There were three people on the other side of the aisle.  Our airplane was full for both flights as far as I could see.

The clouds thinned out once we reached Nevada.
We went through security in Eugene without much incident.  My zippers on my fleece pullover set off the alarm inside the full-body scanner, so I had to have my shoulder patted down.  The Man had done his hair Monday morning, and his hair gel set off an alert, so he had to have his half-inch hair inspected.  Dad forgot a nickel in a pocket that caused him to get a pat-down also.  Mom was apparently the only one who didn't wear any metal through the scanner.  She didn't get patted down at all.

MD-80: another plane just like ours at Las Vegas' airport
Our flight took off on time, thankfully.  The cabin pressurized quickly as we ascended through the thick cloud layer.  We all realized that the flight was going to be bumpy right away, so nobody was surprised or panicking as we got jostled every five seconds.  It was sort of like riding in a car over a potholed road, nothing too bad.  The plane was very noisy inside, so I wish I'd had ear plugs or something to muffle the engine, air, and people noises.  We broke out of the clouds just before reaching Nevada, so we descended in clear skies over Las Vegas.  I did really well on my first plane trip until we reached Las Vegas.  That's when the pilot turned our jet into a fighter jet and made two very sharp banking turns at what had to be a 90° sideways turn.  I looked out my window and didn't see sky anymore: it was concrete and desert through the glass.  Scary! I went into my happy place and tried to pretend I was just on a roller coaster.  That's about when the pilot turned our fighter jet into a bus for what was apparently a "soft" landing.  I bit my tongue on it, not hard, but enough that I didn't want to do it again.  We screeched to a halt and walked off the plane into Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport.  After a tram ride over to the twelve baggage carousels (that took forever) and a shuttle ride after that to the car rental place, we were on our way to The Strip.

Rain-streaked windows were fun to watch as we descended into Eugene.
Fast-forward to Friday morning about 5:00am, we were back at McCarran for our return flight.  This time I brought ear plugs and an extra fleece to use as a pillow on the flight home.  As we all got up at o'dark thirty, I had no problem zonking out for the duration of the flight.  Though getting through security was more nightmarish, we all went through without incident.  We had a much smoother ride home.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Buggin' Out

The Man and I have discovered we have housemates.  As this was rather unexpected, we are not exactly thrilled.  The only good thing I've noticed is that with the exception of the one eight-legged monster I discovered a couple weeks ago, our new house mates are decidedly less panic-inducing.  I wish I could tell you what the insects are, but I am at a loss.  They look like small maple bugs or boxelder bugs, but they don't have any red on them, and they don't seem to fly.  They are not bed bugs, and I don't think they're any variety of beetle, tick, louse, or roach.  They don't sting and haven't made any attempts to bite either of us.  I have probably killed ten of them in the house this week, all near the front door or in the master bedroom.  We don't store any food uncovered or unsealed, and they don't seem to be attracted to the kitchen for any reason.  The bugs have little triangles on their backs, six legs with antennae just about as long as their legs.  They are all just over a quarter-inch long.  The Man made a large circle around the perimeter of our foundation today spraying for bugs, but we don't know if that will help.  I'm a big fan of keeping all unwanted house guests at the curb.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Some Things are Better Left Unshared

We bought a carpet shampooer, and we're not sharing.

One item high on our list when we bought a house was a carpet shampooer.  I researched these devices at length before we moved, and I settled on a very popular model that was not too expensive.  We ordered it online and received it last week.  With the dust from moving all settled and painting complete downstairs, I set out this weekend to rid our carpet of the previous inhabitants' bad juju.  Or kool-aid.  Or whatever that orange stain is.

I used the shampoo that came with the unit this first time, but I used the majority of the bottle to clean the entire house.  I purchased another type of carpet shampoo (Biokleen) for my next round with the unit, but that may not be for a few months.  The free stuff has a slight smell, not offensive, but not my favorite.  I used it according to the directions.  After a whole house of that stuff, I can say I'm not impressed with its stain removing power.  The carpets seem cleaner, and the water I dumped out was nasty looking, so I know the unit worked.  Stains are all still there, though.  I had some difficulty at first getting the shampooer to dispense cleaning solution, but I missed a critical step in the initial assembly.  Thankfully it was a quick fix.  I didn't oversaturate the carpets, and I had to empty the dirty water just as often as I had to refill the clean water, so I feel like I pulled up the majority of the cleaning solution that got dispensed.  I did two very slow drying passes over the wet carpet, and my entire house was totally dry within six hours (the stairs only took two hours, but I dried them very well).  I think I'll see a bigger improvement with the next go-around.

The Man and I have decided that sometimes it pays to be selfish.  We thought about borrowing a carpet cleaner from family members that have one, but then we got into issues with pick-ups and drop-offs, who pays for the cleaner, and general wear and tear costs.  We were going to rent one, but it was almost $40 anywhere we saw to rent one, plus they make you buy a whole gallon of cleaner (I only used about a pint on my 2,000 sq ft).  I didn't like either option.  Knowing we'll use the one we bought more often since we own it and the fact that it will pay for itself within three cleanings, we went all in.  Though we're sure people will ask to borrow our shampooer, we've decided that we aren't going to lend it out.  With the experience of lending functioning items out only to receive them in worse condition later, we're positive our unit is going to last longer and function better if we don't lend it out.

Think of a carpet shampooer like a big toothbrush.  It cleans carpet, the largest expansive home of dust mites, allergens, and mold in your house.  Carpet is a lot like a tongue with regard to the texture and nasties-trapping ability.  Would you share a toothbrush with someone after they dragged it across their tongue and scraped out all the nasties?  The Man and I have a hard enough time not wheezing on the dust and mold in our house (and we have relatively clean air).  We aren't going to lend out our carpet shampooer, have someone gunk it up with their nasties, and bring it home and introduce those nasties into our living space.

We don't share toothbrushes.  That's just wrong.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Painting, Driving, and Almost Dying

Sorry about the silence around here for the last week.  I have a fantastic excuse though!  The Man was out of town last week for business, and I recruited my father to help me paint the office in our house while The Man was gone, you know, sort of a surprise.  I worked late one night and painted my arms off for two nights, so I was super busy.  I even took Friday off to make sure the office was all done and put back together before he got home that evening.  In my few minutes of spare time that afternoon, I managed to also whip the guest bath upstairs into shape.  Two rooms down in one week!

We have decided, after painting the bathroom and office, the downstairs paint is officially done.  We were waiting to bring in our bookcases and books until after we repainted all of the green walls, but since we actually like the color and are very much over painting ten-foot high ceilings, the green is just perfect.  We dragged our bookcases in from the garage this weekend and arranged them in the dining room like our own little library.  Our twenty cases of books came in one at a time as I unloaded and organized them by subject. Our kitchen counter--and we have a lot of it--looked like a used book store for a few hours!  My least favorite part of that book sorting adventure happened about two-thirds of the way through the boxes.  I lifted the lid on what was a box of my most beloved childhood books (Gary Paulsen, I'm looking at you!).  I was digging around in the box trying to wrap my fingers around a stack when something started climbing out of the box right next to my hand.  I saw skinny legs and lost it.  We're talking shrieking, crying, hyperventilating, shaking, full-out panic attack meltdown.  The Man burst into the room, looked in the box, and declared the spider was too big to kill.  I? was gone.  He fetched the vacuum to rid us of our evil roommate (and I later discovered that actually doesn't kill them--so someone had to empty the canister outside immediately).  My precious books sat in the bad box while I calmed down.  The Man helped me empty each box after that, checking all six sides of every book before handing it to me.  *shudder*

We made a fast trip to Portland this weekend to see my college roommate for lunch.  Of course, that also meant a stop at the Columbia Sportswear outlet in Woodburn.  Pretty sure they own us now.  We both love coats and sweatshirts and fleece, though, so our sale items are going to pay for themselves quickly.

I knew having a house was going to make me busier, but I had no idea how busy that would be.

Also, I hate spiders.  Hate them so much!