Thunder Down Under

Saturday morning I woke up about 7:30am. I got a good solid 6 hours of sleep and apparently that’s all I needed! Β Anna was still asleep so I got dressed and went down to the gym. The Bally’s gym was SO NICE! One of the best hotel gyms I’ve used (The Monte Carlo being my other favorite). They had half a dozen treadmills, about 7 ellipticals, some stair-masters, exercise bikes and TONS of weight machines and free weights.

I was one of three people in the gym that early. My friend Debby and the people she went to Vegas with were on their way to Red Rock Canyon for a hike (which sounded awesome to me). I warmed up on the elliptical, did some body weight exercises (burpees, jumping jacks, crunches, etc) went through the weight machines, did some free weight stuff and finished up with a half mile run on the treadmill.

My legs were tired from all the walking we did on Friday. I knew I should take it easy with the lower body cardio because we were going to do even more walking on Saturday. I got a fantastic workout in, burned some calories and then checked out the spa that guests could use. They had a body temperature hot tub, a hot hot tub, a dry sauna, a steam room with eucalyptus and then your typical spa services. The men’s and women’s spas were separate and there were a bunch of ladies in there waiting for massages. I told Anna that we should make good use of it (especially since we were paying $20 per night for the “resort fee” to use it) but sadly we ran out of time and didn’t get to it.

I got cleaned up and then Anna and I went out in search of breakfast. I was staving! We walked over to Paris (which is right next to Bally’s) and the fancy Parisian outdoor cafe was packed! The line just to get to the hostess to get on a wait list was at least 20 people deep. We decided to keep walking. Next door was something called The Sugar Factory and they also had a huge outdoor patio.


While we waited we sat at their bar and got some coffee and Bloody Mary’s. πŸ˜€ Their coffee was AMAZING!!! The best coffee I’ve ever had. We asked the bartender, waiter, waitress and no one seemed to know what brand of coffee they served. I was disappointed because I totally would have bought some if I knew what it was! Their Bloody Mary’s were fantastically spicy. They used a spicy infused vodka in the bloody mix. The salt was huge, flavorful crystals that clung to the glass, there was a hint of lime and cucumber in the drink and there was a cucumber and olive garnish. So tasty.


It took about 20 minutes and then we got our table outside. There was a gorgeous breeze and it was about 70 degrees so far. We were across the street from the Bellagio. It was a peaceful, relaxing time as we lounged on the patio. It was hard to decide what to get. I REALLY wanted the carrot cake pancakes but I knew the cream cheese frosting would just be too much sugar first thing in the morning. The blueberry pancakes sounded great and let’s be honest, so did the Fat Elvis Waffle (ok not really).

I decided to go for the croissant sandwich. It was ham and cheese and came with crispy potatoes (that were exceptional). The sandwich was big and honestly half would have been the perfect portion. The croissant was heavenly–flaky, buttery and perfect. Dang, I want another!


After breakfast we walked over to the Bellagio and caught the bus to Mandalay Bay. We walked around the gardens, checked out their AMAZING pool (it was packed!) that had a lazy floating river, and then went to see the Shark Aquarium (which was kind of expensive so we skipped it). Then we saw MICHAEL JACKSON!! Woot!!! The street performer was great! He sounded, looked and danced just like the real thing. It was great getting a picture!


We meandered down to The Luxor and then decided to take aΒ gamblingΒ resting break in New York New York. Our feet, legs and calves were aching. I could have used a massage. πŸ™‚

We decided to hop on the bus back to Bally’s (our poor feet). Thankfully our bus pass was still valid! I have to admit, we stopped for more $2 tacos at Bally’s (they were that good) and then went down to the pool. We stayed out fairly long and the sun was hot hot hot! It was around 88 degrees on Saturday. It felt like heaven. For months I’ve been craving that exact thing–sitting poolside in the sun with a cool drink and a book.

After the pool we got cleaned up and dolled up and we were ready for the night! First we did some gambling at the Bellagio and got lucky! It was nice! We had an hour to kill before meeting up with my friend Debby and her party at Excalibur for Thunder From Down Under!! Debby goes every single time she’s in Vegas and talks about it all the time so I said, sure why not? It could be fun. We liked the movie Magic Mike. πŸ˜€

It was a huge auditorium packed full of women of all ages. There were a ton of brides-to-be with the veil and tiaras. There were a bunch of girls there for birthdays. There was this one girl that was called onto the stage because it was her 21st birthday and her mom had brought her! Awesome! Debby and her family were sitting over on the other side of the room and Anna and I were at a table with a bunch of adorable little old ladies that were doing Jello Shots. LOL!!! My friend Debby:

Hell ya we did Jello Shots! It’s been like 10 years since I had them. Haha! So the show…It was totally awesome. It was worth the money for the ticket and the guys definitely looked great–just like the photos. Afterward we could get pictures with the guys. πŸ˜€ We all got a free pass to a nightclub in the Luxor and free drinks til midnight but the line to get in was kind of long and I was starting to get tired (and blisters on my feet). Debby and her people ended up dancing til 2am! Anna and I walked back to our hotel, enjoying the nightly sights on the way.

Why I decided to book us a flight so freaking early on Sunday morning is beyond me. UGH. Coffee was needed. We had a few minutes to hit the tables before leaving and we both left winners! I got a hit on #29 and won $35 buckaroos. I was happy to leave after winning. Debby had rented a car (a bright blue mustang convertible) and she kindly offered to take us to the airport. It was so AWESOME riding through Vegas in a convertible! One of the highlights for sure.

Our flight was super turbulent — like the first hour of the flight I felt like I was going to barf and then die–and that sucked. The winds had started late Saturday night and Sunday was just as windy. I guess that was the cause of the turbulence. Dang it was not comfortable and I spent most of Sunday feeling nauseated. I was glad to be home and on LAND. Bella gave me lots of kisses, Fat Kitty gave me lots of love nibbles and it was so good to see Michael again.

I had a fantastic weekend. Everything was great and it was SO good to spend time with Anna. We were travel buddies for a really long time and then she moved to Morocco for the Peace Corp and was gone for about 4 or 5 years. We were still in sporadic contact (email and phone calls) but not seeing her for a long time made us drift apart a bit. It was nice to reconnect. And lay by the pool. And drink some umbrella drinks. πŸ˜€

Stirrin’ and Fryin’

On my bike ride home last Friday night after work, geared with ice cold water in one bottle and Gatorade in another bottle to beat the heat, I started to fantasize about dinner. Michael was going to be out that night and all I could think about was taking a cool shower after biking in 95 degree weather and eating something awesome. I was famished and craving something with peanut sauce. Don’t ask me where this random craving came from but once I was home, showered and comfortable in the air-conditioned house, I looked through the pantry to find some things I could use.

I decided to make a stir-fry. It’s been ages since I’ve had stir-fry and I love it because it’s simple and you can throw whatever you want in it. I started by making jasmine rice. While that was cooking, I gathered my ingredients. There was a leftover cooked chicken breast that I diced up. I minced some fresh garlic, cut some green onion and lined up the random jars I had: Thai Peanut Sauce, minced ginger, Sesame oil andΒ sriracha. I had a bag of frozen veggie stir-fry mix in the freezer I quickly defrosted. It was something like snap peas, carrots, okra, mushrooms (which I picked out) and onions.

I dug out the wok I hadn’t used in ages and used the Sesame oil in the skillet. The one thing I remember from all those Top Chef-type shows I love was that you’re supposed to make the skillet or wok as hot as humanly possible before adding the ingredients and do it fast! So that’s what I did. There was some splattering of oil but it wasn’t too bad.

Looks like a mess but it was a beautiful mess.

I loved the flavors. Using two spoonfuls of the peanut sauce was just enough for this portion of food. There was a hint of the peanut but it wasn’t overpowering. I added some of theΒ sriracha to it to add some heat. Next time I make this, I will use fresh veggies instead of the frozen that’s been hiding in my freezer for a year.

I would also chop up some real peanuts to add to the top of the dish. I think the crunch of real peanuts and not just the sauce would be a fantastic addition. I loved my dinner and I had one more serving left for lunch the next day. Perfect and fast.

Since I opened that little jar of Thai Peanut sauce, I’ve been looking online to figure out other uses for it. I think my next experiment will be a chicken lettuce wrap with the peanut sauce. Totally looking forward to that.

Before I headed out to the Soap Box DerbyΒ the next day, I went for an early(ish) morning run outside. I’ve been stuck on the treadmill all summer when I run because I want to also get some kind of weight workout done too. It’s kind of a hassle to run outside in the neighborhood and then drive to the gym to lift weights but once in awhile that’s exactly what I do.

This particular run was really, really good. I gauge a good run by how often I have to take walk breaks, if I feel fast on my feet and if I don’t have any weird aches and pains. This run was one of the good ones. It was a cool morning, which was nice after the heat wave, and I just enjoyed running outside in the fresh air. I did take a few walk breaks to snack on some wild blackberries along the way.

Then I hurried to the gym to get a good set in with the weights. I WOULD do it at home but the free weights I have are too light (5 and 10 pounds) and the kettlebells Michael has are too heavy (35 pounds).

It felt good to work out with the weights AND run outside for a change. I cleaned up, ate my leftover stir-fry for lunch and met my friends at the Derby. When I woke up on Sunday morning I was in bad shape, though. Lots and lots of sore, stiff muscles. My legs were not happy with me. I think the combination of running outside (which is harder than a treadmill PLUS my neighborhood is very hilly) and lots of squats and lungs made me regret my workout a bit. It’s never fun when you wake up THAT sore…Off to the pool to stretch out those muscles.

After my swim, I went to a friend’s house for lunch. She made her delicious tuna salad and put it on lettuce with lemon cucumbers and tomatoes fresh from her garden. It was a delicious lunch and then we treated ourselves to pedicures. I apologize for showing a picture of feet! I know some people get creeped out by that but I just had to show off the beautiful flower. Usually the art work doesn’t look that great on toenails but this girl was clearly gifted. She said she did some real art of her own on the side. Good for her. She’s obviously talented. And my pretty-flowered toes are ready for the beach!

QUESTION: What’s your favorite use for Peanut Sauce?