THIS IS HOW I MAKE BREAD Sunday, Jun 29 2008 

I came across the greatest video on YouTube yesterday.

Even if you’re a loyal Atkins devotee (but is anyone still on the Atkins diet anymore?), this video will have you craving bread in the worst way.

Check it out:

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Pearls of Wisdom from Las Vegas Friday, Jun 27 2008 

Las Vegas was INCREDIBLE.  There are no other words to describe just how amazing of a time I had.

Before I get into the details, here are some pearls of wisdom I accrued during my trip:

  1. Wear flats — always! I’m a big fan of heels and I bought some super-comfortable heels that looked great.  Well, an hour into our walk, I was in so much pain that I had to buy a pair of flip-flops down by the MGM Grand.  I’m never in pain from heels, but the Strip will do that to you.  WEAR FLATS!
  2. Don’t bother bringing jeans if you go in the summer. It was so hot there — and don’t get me wrong, I loved it! — that you want to wear as little clothing as socially acceptable.  For me, that meant shorts, short dresses and short skirts at all times.
  3. Find contacts at the clubs in advance. I can’t imagine how people go to the clubs without a contact inside, especially someplace like Tao on Saturday night.  If you don’t know any VIP hosts, ask around — Yelp is great for that.
  4. Don’t fly out in the morning, especially if you’re coming from the east coast. I had a 10:00 AM flight, meaning that I woke up at 7:00 AM, or 4:00 AM Vegas time.  Even though I slept a bit on the plane, we were so exhausted by the time we had dinner that we had to take a nap and then have a latte before heading to Pure.
  5. Everything on the Strip is so far away. Plan to be walking for a LONG time.  It’s hard to estimate distances because EVERYTHING is so big — there’s nothing normal-sized for comparison.  And walking from TI to the MGM Grand and back is borderline torture, and Lisa and I are already major walkers!
  6. Madame Tussaud’s is a must-see. That’s where you’ll likely get the best pictures and have the funniest moments of your trip.
  7. The cheapest bottles of water are in that area on the East side of the Strip by the Hawaiian Marketplace. There are lots of stores that have water for cheaper than anything else — and it gets expensive in Vegas.  Try $3.50 or more for a regular-sized Aquafina.  Keep drinking because it’s important to stay hydrated in such a hot place.
  8. PEOPLE, DO NOT BRING YOUR KIDS TO VEGAS! Despite what some people say, Las Vegas is NOT a place for children.  People hand out fliers with naked women on them in the street, and the “pirate show” is a showdown between hott pirates and strippers.  Don’t kid yourself.  Go for a weekend with your significant other or your friends, NOT YOUR KIDS.

Pundit Kitchen: Hilarious Political Pictures Wednesday, Jun 18 2008 

I have recently discovered the fabulous site Pundit Kitchen.  It’s a division of I Can Has Cheezburger, home of the LOLcats.

Here are some of my favorite pictures:

 

But my all-time favorite is this one of Romney (and I could so see this happening):

Four Hott Vegas Outfits Monday, Jun 16 2008 

I’ve almost finished up my Vegas shopping!  I went and bought a ton of items at Express today, including a few new pairs of earrings to finish off the outfits.

Here they are:

Friday night:

Top and shorts: Express

This outfit is red-hot and a perfect way to start off our wild and crazy weekend.

The sleeves look a bit weird in this picture, but they hang very nicely, and the boat neck is flattering.  The top is very sheer, and I’m undecided about what to wear underneath it.  Probably a black tank top, just so the pictures come out okay.

Saturday night:

 

Dress: Roberto Cavalli

Saturday is our biggest night out, with Tao and who knows what else, and what better way to do Vegas than in a designer dress?  (Who cares if I got it for cheap off eBay?  ;-))  It’s got the signature in a few different places, it’s got the gold snake at the neck, and it’s sexy and backless.  And unlike anything I usually wear.  That’s a good thing.

Sunday night:

Dress: Express

On Sunday, we’re going to see LOVE, so I have to be a bit classy for that.  I immediately fell in love with this adorable, short dress from Express.  I love wearing pink and black together, and the sequins give it a little glitz — yet keep it very wearable, and it won’t wrinkle, either!

This will be good for going to Tryst afterward, too.  Perfect for a show and perfect for the club.

Monday night:

Top and shorts: Express

Okay, on Monday, we’re going to Chippendales, so I had to pick something fun and flirty!  This is a perfect outfit for that.  In fact, I’m wearing it right now, as I type this.  It’s SUCH a fun outfit, especially with my new big gold earrings.  It’s kind of hard to tell in this picture, but it’s a halter with a gold chain at the top.

As for daytime in Vegas, I’m either going to wear either pair of shorts or my black pants, and I’ll throw a black skirt in my bag, too.  I’m bringing a few of my standard going-out tops — leopard-print and hot pink — that are great for going out in Boston but not quite special enough for Vegas.  They’re good for daytime.  I might bring a pair of jeans, too, but I’m undecided about that.

And I still need to buy a bathing suit.  That will be tomorrow.  Maybe I’ll even get one of those crazy bikini-like one-pieces that are so hot right now.

Just think — five days from now, I’ll be partying at the Hard Rock with Lisa!

Vegas To Do List Sunday, Jun 15 2008 

I can’t believe Vegas is coming up on FRIDAY!  I still have so much to do:

To Buy:

  • Bathing suit
  • Top to pair with my red satin hot pants
  • Shoes to match Cavalli dress
  • Another dress?
  • Trial-size bottles (we’re not checking our luggage)
  • Use $50 off $150 purchase coupon for Express (that expires today!)

To Do (Plans):

  • Finalize nightlife arrangements
  • Confirm flights
  • Confirm hotel
  • Book airport transfer
  • Check to see if TI has irons and boards

To Do (Beauty):

  • Manicure
  • Pedicure
  • Home facial with brow work

This weekend is going to be the hottest mess ever.  I can’t wait.

Ten Songs I’m Loving (at the moment) Saturday, Jun 14 2008 

  1. Mary J. Blige, “Everything” — this is a song of my youth that I loved back in the day, and I think it’s so unabashedly romantic without being schmaltzy in any way, and it’s a great song to listen to when thinking about someone you want to be with.
  2. Ne-Yo, “Closer” — His music is the R&B equivalent of cotton candy.  Light, perfect, simple, available in large quantities.  Nothing too deep, but that’s okay.  And I love everything he does.
  3. Gavin Rossdale, “Love Remains the Same” — I think he sounds a lot like Seal, but in less of a club way and more of a rock way.  Beautiful song, too.
  4. Estelle feat. Kanye West, “American Boy” — This song has such a modern sound to it, and I love her voice, too.  And I love Kanye West.  Which brings me to…
  5. Kanye West, “Flashing Lights” — The best song on his album, which says a lot.  Still obsessed with it.
  6. New Kids on the Block, “Summertime” — Oh, come on.  You love it, too.
  7. Plies feat. Ne-Yo, “Bust It Baby” — by all accounts, I should hate Plies.  He has such a lazy style, I don’t like his voice, and he’s unnecessarily raunchy.  Yet I love everything I’ve ever heard by him…he collaborates wisely.
  8. Ashlee Simpson, “Boys” — I never, EVER thought I would enjoy a song by Ashlee Simpson.  EVER.  But while I can’t stand the sound of her voice, this is one of the best dance tracks I’ve heard by a mainstream artist since Nelly Furtado’s “Promiscuous.”
  9. Colby O’Donis feat. Akon, “What You Got” — a great dance R&B song.  But really, must Akon have himself saying “CONVICT” and the slam at the beginning of every song to which he contributes, not just songs of his own?!  Still, love it.
  10. Chris Brown, “Take You Down” — Is this kid really only 18?  Because this is one of the sexiest songs I’ve heard lately.  I love it because it sounds modern but with a lot of nods to Jodeci-esque slow jams of the 90s.  Love it, love it, love it.

Amsterdam deal….should I take it? Friday, Jun 13 2008 

I was surfing around, looking for airfare deals when I came across a sensational offer.

Amsterdam during Thanksgiving week.  Exactly when I want to go.

Leave the Friday before Thanksgiving at 7:15 PM.  Come back the Sunday after thanksgiving at 10:25 AM.

And here’s the best part: it’s a direct flight.  I can’t remember the last time I flew direct ANYWHERE!  (I don’t really count visiting Alexa in DC last year, since we flew from alternate airports that took a while to get to.)

(And can I mention that I hate flying from Manchester?  I hate it, hate it, hate it.  For some reason, most of my family and several of my friends love it.  I see absolutely no difference with flying from Manchester — apart from the occasional fare.  There are weather delays everywhere; you can have engine trouble anywhere.  The fact is, if you’re stuck in Manchester, you’ll have a much harder time getting another flight out, whereas if you’re in Boston, you’ll have no problem.  But I digress.)

The flight is absolutely perfect — it could not be better.

Now, for the price:

$800.  Including fuel.  Including taxes.

That is UNBELIEVABLE, especially with the cost of fuel these days.

Should I book it?  It’s tough because the deal ends June 30.  I’ll need to make a decision soon.  And though I just may strike it rich in Vegas next week, the odds are that I’ll end up with no money whatsoever.  😉  I’m not sure that I want to spend an extra $800 now.  And what if I decide I don’t want to go?

I don’t know…we’ll have to see…

But I really can’t wait to go to Amsterdam (and Luxembourg, and Germany, too).

Scary Lobster Dream Saturday, Jun 7 2008 

I don’t have nightmares very often, but when I do, they’re terrifying.  Last night was no exception.

It was so brief.  I was in my room, in my bed, and all of a sudden, someone tossed a giant lobster onto the ground next to the bed.  I started screaming, and I woke up screaming.

I was half-asleep and thought that there still might be a giant live lobster in my room, so I vaulted myself out of my bed and jumped into the hallway to turn the light on.  (My lightswitch is outside the room.)  It felt like an eternity before I saw light.

I went back into my room.  No lobster, of course, but it was still terrifying.  And it was only 4:00 AM.

I looked it up on Dream Moods, the best dream decoding site on the web, and I found the following definition:

To see a lobster in your dream represents strength and persistence. You will hold your own ground and overcome minor difficulties and problems.

I don’t know.  I think I’ve just had lobster on the brain, lately.  It’s summer in New England!

I can’t wait to get up to the Maine Diner for their seafood chowder and lobster roll, which is mayo-free, and the meat is soaked in butter.

I’ve been reading Thomas Keller’s recipe for butter-poached lobster.

And I saw the following LOLcat the day before yesterday:

Stay away, scary lobsters!

Most Traveled People Thursday, Jun 5 2008 

I’ve discovered a fantastic new travel site — Most Traveled People.  It is a community that ranks whom they consider to be, well, the most traveled people in the world.

(I wryly noted that the person currently ranking at number one is the site’s founder.)

Now, you know that I love travel and that I love anything that lets you chart your travel accomplishments.  But this site goes one step further.

Instead of simply checking off the countries to which you’ve been, you check off “places.”  Most of the time, “places” are countries.  Other times, they’re states — U.S. states, Australian states, South African states, Mexican states, Brazilian states.  And sometimes they’re just regions or areas.  U.K. Channel Islands like Jersey and Guernsey each get their own entry, as do Malaysia’s Sarawak, Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia, and countries that have declared independence or tried to, like Kosovo and Somaliland.

All in all, it adds up to 673.  The top 10 travelers have traveled to between 501 and 630 destinations.

I joined.  You can check out my profile here.

I soon received the following email:

Dear Kate,
Hello from MTP (MostTraveledPeople.com)!  We’re writing to say congratulations for passing a significant travel milestone!
According to our records, you have now visited at least 25 locations, placing you at the Tourist level among your traveling peers. It’s clear you have been on the road, and we respect that!
Right now we show you ranked as the 2702nd traveler in the world, and the 1631st traveler in USA (as well as the 51st traveler in Massachusetts), since you’ve traveled to 36 locations.
You might also be interested to know that, according to the number of actual member visits, the least-visited place you’ve traveled is Tamaulipas, and the most popular place you haven’t traveled is Germany (other).

I’m a tourist?!  Shudder.  That’s the one thing I try not to be.

Eh.  I know they mean well.

Tamaulipas is the region in Mexico where Beth and I went for the day.  It’s the northeastern corner of the country, and we were in the town of Nuevo Progreso long enough to buy kitschy souvenirs, eat weird fruit and get my hair cornrowed.

I like that it’s separate because it makes me feel less guilty about marking down Mexico after having been there for only two hours, tops.

Here are the top 25 most visited destinations on the site, with the ones I’ve visited bolded:

  1. France
  2. England
  3. New York
  4. California
  5. Germany
  6. Italy
  7. Florida
  8. Netherlands
  9. Nevada
  10. New Jersey
  11. Switzerland
  12. District of Columbia
  13. Austria
  14. Belgium
  15. Illinois
  16. Arizona
  17. Texas
  18. Spain
  19. Pennsylvania
  20. Massachusetts
  21. Virginia
  22. Vatican City
  23. Maryland
  24. Georgia (U.S. State)
  25. Colorado

As for the italicized destinations…

Well, they’re where I hope to go by the end of the year.  I’ll be in Nevada two weeks from tomorrow, and I’ll be in Chicago in September.

I’ve been thinking more about my Thanksgiving trip.  I’m now thinking that a great European weeklong trip would be to the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany.

I’ve wanted to visit Amsterdam for a long time.  (No, NOT for the drugs!  There is MUCH more to Amsterdam than drugs!)  If I went, I’d also visit Delft, the home of Vermeer and the setting of the book and film Girl with a Pearl Earring.  Also, Amsterdam is a city that’s great year-round, so a November trip wouldn’t be a problem.

Luxembourg City is supposed to be GORGEOUS.  And in Germany, I would go to Koln (Cologne) — because they apparently have a chocolate factory that Let’s Go claims is “Willy Wonka Made Real.”  I also have a friend who lives in Koln and keeps encouraging me to visit.  It’s very close to Amsterdam.  And, of course, my lovely German college roommate, Julia, lives in Mannheim, which is in western Germany, not too far from Koln.

(Ask about the time when my German roommate and I accidentally ended up watching a World War II movie together.  Great story.)

Best of all, these locations are all close together, so it’s very doable.  I’m not doing my usual budget flight circuit around the continent.

So, before I sign off for the day, here are my 36 places:

In Europe: Belgium, Czech Republic, England, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Monaco, Switzerland, Vatican City, Wales

In Canada: New Brunswick, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec

In Mexico: Tamaulipas

In the United States: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, United Nations Headquarters (New York), Vermont, Virginia

Or, if you’d like, you can just check out my map.  That world won’t be red for long!

For comparison, here is the INSANE map of the founder of the site, Charles A. Veley.  Yeah, the places where he has BEEN are green.  It’s unbelievable.

You MUST join this site.  It’s so much fun.

The best part: when you select a place, it glows for a few seconds.  It feels like it is humbly acknowledging your travel accomplishment.  I love it.

Jesus Camp: Praying to Bush Wednesday, Jun 4 2008 

Here is a clip from the phenomenal documentary Jesus Camp.  The film is about an evangelical Christian community in the midwest and how the children are indoctrinated to a level that some consider borderline child abuse.

But they don’t always have the kids pray to God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes they skip the deities and pray to George Bush.

Check it out:

It’s worth noting that after the movie came out that the people featured in the film, including Pastor Becky Fisher, Ted Haggard and children’s parents, were thrilled with the result.  They thought it depicted them exactly how they wanted to be portrayed.

It’s also worth noting that Ted Haggard used to be the gay-bashing pastor of one of the biggest megachurches in the U.S. and an advisor to President Bush.  Well, he was — until he admitted to receiving a “massage” from a male prostitute and underwent intensive therapy to “cure” his urges.  After completing treatment, his spokesperson declared him “now 100% heterosexual.”

But I digress.

I find this far more disturbing than anything we’ve seen in this election.

Yes, we can. Tuesday, Jun 3 2008 

I have so much faith in this man.

It’s time!

Las Vegas Itinerary Sunday, Jun 1 2008 

As you’ve likely heard by now, I’m heading to Las Vegas in a few weeks.  It’s my first time visiting — though I already feel like I know the Strip backward and forward.  (At my old job, my clients went to Las Vegas a lot and I worked with a lot of the promoters there.)

I’m going with Lisa and a few of our other friends.  We’ve been planning out our itinerary meticulously, and it looks like we’ve got it nearly finalized.  (And while I’m very lackadaisical when it comes to travel, Vegas is one place where you need to plan an itinerary in advance so you get the most out of your trip.)

We’re going within a few weeks.  Here is our itinerary:

Friday:

–Kate and Lisa arrive at 4:00 PM and check in at T.I. (formerly Treasure Island).
–After primping, exploring the immediate area and checking out the Sirens show, either grab dinner at Isla at T.I. or grab a cab to the Hard Rock and eat at Pink Taco.
–Hang out at the Center Bar.
–Check out the casino, maybe playing a tad of Blackjack or Roulette.
–Dancing at Body English until late.

Saturday:

–The others arrive at 10:00 AM.
–Head down to the Paris and have brunch at Le Village Buffet.
–Walk around and explore the casinos and attractions nearby, including the giant Victoria’s Secret at Caesars Palace.
–Back to T.I. to primp and get our hair blown out for the night.
–Lisa and Kate have dinner at Tao, then get drinks in the lounge.  (Simultaneously, the others have dinner on their own and go to Ray Romano’s show.  Yep, Ray’s still a family friend of hers.)
–Everyone meets up at Tao Nightclub and dances until late.
–I’d love to go to Drai’s, the after hours club, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen!

Sunday:

–Brunch at the T.I. buffet.
–Walk around the Venetian and check out the canals and shops.
–Visit Madame Tussaud’s.
–Head over to the Wynn to explore.
–Back to T.I. to primp.
–Dinner package at the Mirage.  I’m hoping for Japonais, but it will probably be somewhere else.
–See Cirque du Soleil: The Beatles LOVE at the Mirage.
–Head over to the Wynn to go to Tryst (likely just Lisa and Kate).

Monday:

–Brunch somewhere.
–Relax at the pool for much of the day, cocktails in hand.
–Get ready for the night and primp.
–Dinner at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Venetian.
–Head over to the Rio.
–CHIPPENDALES!!!!
–Hang out at Flirt Lounge and possibly also Voodoo Lounge for the view of the Strip.

Tuesday:

–Peel ourselves out of bed and grab flights home.  Land at Logan at 12:35 AM.  Work the next day.  Yikes.

There is so much that I want to do in Vegas.  After I do this basic trip, I kind of want to go back for a regular, 2-night weekend and just stay at the Palms the whole time.  We’re not getting to the Palms this time, but at least we’re getting to check out T.I., Hard Rock, Paris, Venetian, Wynn, Mirage and Rio at the very least.

We also got a pretty good deal.  We booked our tickets about a month and a half ago and got both the flights (switching in Dallas) and four nights at the hotel for $609 total.

I’m hoping to get a lot out of this — but most of all, I hope to get some incredible stories to tell!  I’m also hoping for a celebrity sighting or two — George Michael and Sarah Silverman will be there, but I swear, if I run into Wayne Brady, I will likely faint.

Good times are coming!  🙂