In the spirit of the Lenten season...forgive me, friends, for I have sinned. It has been almost four months since my last blog! (Though I have been doing very well with what I have given up for Lent, which is caffeinated drinks! How I miss you, morning latte...) As you will see in our pictures, it has been a fun and eventful few months. I could tell you that the lack of documentation of all the fun we have had was due to how busy I was this winter, and that would be partly true. But the truth is, for reasons big and small, it was also because I was feeling a little down this winter. It was hard to find the motivation to write upbeat posts about all of the great things in our life (and there are many great things) when on the inside, my brain was focusing on the not so great elements. I am glad to say the clouds have lifted, I am in much better spirits, and am now once again a proper narrator for the ongoing story of our Hokanson household.
So what is new, you ask? Here is part one of our adventures.
1. Vacation! David and I decided to go to Las Vegas to celebrate his 31st birthday and to take a much needed vacation. Here are the highlights:
We stayed in the Paris hotel, and it was truly fantastic. Here is a daytime view of the Eiffel tower outside the hotel. For a small fee (which of course, we paid because I insisted), we went up to the top of this structure and had a fantastic view of the entire strip (even if it was a very COLD view). I will not post those pictures because my camera was really unqualified to record them, but check out any panoramic view of the strip and you will get the idea.
We saw two great shows while we were in Vegas, though I do not have any photos of them to share because I was too busy enjoying them. David wanted to see Bite on his birthday, and we also saw Zumanity, a Cirque du Soleil show. Neither of us had ever seen a show by Cirque du Soleil before, and it was truly worth the wait. I couldn't get over how beautiful it was. From the lighting, to the costumes, to the music, to the dancing / acrobatics of the performers, everything was spectacular.
Being the foodies that we are, we also ate at two great Vegas restaurants, and enjoyed wine at this bar in Mandalay Bay. The wine bar was amazing because if you ordered a bottle rather than a glass, they sent an acrobat on a harness to get it from a tall tower of bottles (and do flips while she was at it). We happened to pick a bottle that was pretty far up the tower, so we got to see her do a lot of acrobatics before she brought the bottle down to us. The restaurants we ate at are both run by two chefs from Top Chef Masters - Hubert Keller's Fleur de Lys and Rick Moonen's rm Seafood. Both were delicious!
Here is David's birthday dessert that was brought out at Fleur de Lys. I am glad he shared it ;) We also had yummy lobster mac and cheese at this restaurant too.
Surprisingly, though Hubert was our favorite personality while watching the show, we liked rm seafood better. But maybe that is because we met Rick Moonen! While we were dining, we mentioned to our server that we were huge fans of Top Chef Masters, and so our waiter asked us if we wanted him to check if there were any signed cookbooks for us to purchase. We said sure (though at that point I am not sure if we were totally interested in buying a pricey cookbook). When the waiter came back, he said he had good news and bad news - the bad news was they had no more signed cookbooks in the back, but the good news was that Rick was in the restaurant and would sign one for us momentarily...
...and I looked up to see him across the room! (I know it's hard to see from this not so great photo, but the restaurant was dark AND Rick Moonen was wearing black. If you squint, you can see that he is in the center of the photo below the light on the right side, laughing at something someone else said.)
Here we are with Rick Moonen. He was incredibly nice, and stayed to chat with us for several minutes before working the room. I now take back all of the snarky comments I made about his ego during his season of Top Chef Masters.
Our cookbook page. I like how he said "Best Fishes." Cheesy, yes, but also awesome.
Also during our vacation was the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Jets playoff game. Despite the fact that it was David's birthday, I selfishly made David change our dinner reservation at Fleur de Lys so that we could watch the game first. Here is me wearing my fancy dinner clothes AND my Steelers jersey (I did take the jersey off for dinner and the show). I think this may be the start of a fantastic fashion trend, provided there is an NFL season in 2011.
I was so excited to bet on the Steelers, but didn't have the courage to bet more than $10. I should have bet more, since they ended up winning by 4 (which is exactly how much they needed to win by in order for me to win money), but I still won $9.
And finally, what would Vegas be without gambling? I became addicted to a slot machine game at New York, New York's casino called Slingo Bingo. This game brought me so much happiness, and I did also win $6.
Las Vegas was definitely more fun than I could have expected, and there is still so much I would like to see and eat!! We will have to go back again sometime.