What Happens in Vegas…Isn’ t Always a Sh*t Show

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Recently my boyfriend Tony and I planned a last minute quick, mini weekend vacation to Vegas with another couple and we didn’t just GAMBLE. It can be done people. Granted we stayed for three free nights at Caesar’s Palace because of his gambling habits–which in this case was a good thing!

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Caesar’s Palace looks exactly as you can imagine–Gaudy and freezing. They seriously pump oxygen into the rooms to make you stay up and gamble–haha! It’s super big and overwhelmingly awesome. If you’ve been to Vegas you know that you can go a good 12 hours without seeing sunlight. So they add these fake sky ceilings to throw everything off.

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A long with the free hotel stay, a limo was included in the package to pick us up from the airport and take us to the hotel. Our limo was a little on the older side, but that made the experience even better. Our driver was very sweet! He drove us to a liquor store, because I had to have photo documentation of me drinking rose in a limo (obviously…). We met up with our friends and had a surprise that one of my friends was in town as well for work. So we grabbed some food at Smash Burger–which was pretty good. Pictured below is the Grilled Chicken and Avocado Burger I had. So this is proof that casino food isn’t all terrible for you. The fries did surpass the chicken burger though!

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The next day we went to the brunch buffet at the Belliagio–AMAZING. It’s definitely a must-do. Here’s a list of other great buffets in Vegas. Crab legs, eggs Benedict, doughnuts, etc. the list goes on. All of your food craving needs can be met in one place for only $79 for two people! Not bad–this doesn’t include bottomless alcoholic drinks–that was extra.

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We didn’t immediately start boozing because we were heading to the Hoover Dam. Before we set out on our adventure, we went to the casino at the Wynn which is AMAZING. Our friends we’re staying there and I’m proud to show off their view of the city. We didn’t have much of a view, but our stay was for FREE! So who cares.

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We hung out and had some pre-Hoover Dam drinks at the Black Jack tables and saw child-star Patrick Renna AKA the little red headed kid from the Sand Lot, with his catch phrase “You play ball like a girl!” He had his posse with him and I think one of the other guys was in the movie with him and they played blackjack with us–small world.

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The Wynn is decked out with flowers, lights and crazy tile design. After sight seeing and gambling with celebrities, we headed to Hoover Dam.

We drove to the iconic Hoover Dam and it was so unreal. To actually understand how big it is–you HAVE to see it. Afterwards we headed to Lake Mead marina which is the lake  and saw all this crazy fish–starving for food and attention. So of course we gave in and fed them. Poor things followed us as we walked down the dock with those eyes–they got us!

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After our adventure at Hoover Dam we headed to MGM for Brad Garret’s comedy club show. For those of you who don’t know who that is– (I didn’t until I saw him on stage) he’s Raymond’s older brother, Robert from Everybody Loves Raymond.

His commentary was HILARIOUS. My face hurt from smiling so much. He made a comment about how his career has come to an end since he’s in the basement of the MGM! Everyone died laughing. GO see it.

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We walked through the Cosmopolitanism which is another large hotel/casino with this gorgeous bar called the Chandelier Lounge.

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Had to stop at Taco Bell that night because the Taco Bell in Vegas sells alcoholic slushies. Yes, I repeat the Vegas Taco Bell sells alcohol! And to top that, as of August 7th, 2017 you can legally get married at that very Taco Bell. We were two weeks too early and missed the opportunity 😉 JK. As everything else in Vegas is over the top with lights and decor, etc.–Taco Bell is as well.

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We called it a night because I wanted to check out the pool scene the next day. Which I did! I’m really not into pool parties–not that I’m old or anything (25), but I don’t really want to deal with the whole peeing in the pool situation, long lines to get drinks and no where to sit–especially in Vegas during July. No thanks–I’m good. So Caesar’s Palace has it figured out. They have two pools–the party pool and the semi-normal pool.

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I enjoyed a few Pina Colada’s because it was necessary.

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And I treated myself and got this adorable hat to shield myself from the sun. I couldn’t find it online so I’ll keep looking and post when I find it!

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On our final evening we checked out Fremont Street. It’s known as “Old Vegas”, but it’s still very popular and has all the flashy lights! So we came straight from the pool to meet the guys for dinner and we were just looking for something quick to get our friends to the airport. We didn’t do the zipline across the chaos, but definitely will next time!

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We ended up finding what we thought was a dive bar in the basement of the Queen Casino, but was actually a five star restaurant called Hugo’s Cellar. Amazing food and service! When we walked down the stairs from the casino in our beach wear, we didn’t know that we were about to be handed roses. White linen table clothes and butlers in tuxedos were in front of us. We immediately started laughing and went with it. It was pricey, but it was our last night of vacation…so we went for it. We had Hugo’s Hot Rock Specialty for Two. Definitely have to try it. It was a filet of marinated Ahi Tuna, breast of chicken and shrimp on a sizzling granite slab medallions served with a trio of  special dipping sauces. They also have this amazing roll up salad bar where you pick your own toppings along with Grilled Stuffed Portobellos mushrooms and Spinach and Artichoke dip with crab. We were stuffed needless to say! My boyfriend enjoyed a delicious steak so I split all of that with my friend because her husband was on a roll at the blackjack table, haha!

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Tony rented a car for us to take our friends to the airport and to take us home the following day. The only cars they had left were the “exotic” cars…so he comes back to get us in a Mercedes C63… LOL. did we have fun in that bad boy. Literally goes from 0-60 in under a second it seems! We of course made the trip to the Vegas sign at night–there was a line so this was as good as I could get it with the time we had.

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On our last night we stayed in the hotel and watched the new episode of Game of Thrones, like the true fan I have become because of Tony! I wanted to get up early and see the Seven Magic Mountains before we hit the airport! I knew of these mountains because a few of my friends told me about them on their Vegas trip so I had to go see them myself. The backstory with these mountains is that they are an art installation in Las Vegas by renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. The installation has been in Vegas for two years and they are seven thirty to thirty-five-foot high “dayglow totems” comprised of painted, locally-sourced boulders. The purpose of these mountains and location is “physically and symbolically mid-way between the natural and the artificial: the natural is expressed by the mountain ranges, desert, and Jean Dry Lake backdrop, and the artificial is expressed by the highway and the constant flow of traffic between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.” This is directly from their website so no one can think I plagiarized or am giving the wrong description! 🙂

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They were amazing and are definitely another must see when traveling along Interstate 15 outside of Vegas.

Needless to say there are TONS of things to do in Vegas other than gambling. You can go and do something different every time which is what we plan to do.

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Hope this helps when planning your next Vegas trip and I’ll keep you posted on our next adventure 🙂

–Erin

 

 

Homemade Ravioli Bolognese

Homemade Ravioli Bolognese

Prep Time | Total Time

     10 min.  |  1 hour

 (Wine depending)

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[ Ingredients ]

Wonton Wrappers (Kroger)

[ Bolognese Filling Ingredients]

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 1/2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 4 tbsp. Tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 4 tbsp. Water
  • 2 tbsp. Heavy cream
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

[ Pasta Sauce ]

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup marinara ( I used vodka sauce as well )
  • Reserved pasta water

[ Instructions/Filling ]

  1. Heat a medium Dutch oven to a medium heat. Add olive oil. Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic and salt. Saute for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add ground beef and pork. Use a wooden spoon to break the meat up, brown until cooked through.
  2. Add tomato paste. Cook 1 minute. Add wine. Cook until reduced by half and then add Italian seasoning, nutmeg, water and heavy cream. Simmer until thick and almost all of the liquid has evaporated, about 3-4 minutes. Turn the heat off and transfer to bottom of food processor. Cool completely. Once mixture has cooled completely, add cheese and process in the food processor until completely ground. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Flour a surface and lay out wonton wrappers. Note you will need (2) to form one ravioli. Whisk one egg in small bowl for sealing.
  4. Spoon 1 teaspoon of filling in the center of each wonton wrapper. Use finger or brush and wash all four sides with egg wash. Place another wonton wrapper on top and use the end of a fork to crimp all edges. Keep wontons floured or they will stick to each other causing the pasta to rip when boiling.
  5. Bring a large pot of water seasoned with a splash of olive oil and a generous portion of salt. The olive oil will keep your pasta from sticking together and the salt will season your water which you’ll later use in your sauce. On a side burner add a heaping spoonful of marinara and vodka sauce to a large skillet on medium to low heat. You will transfer pasta as it becomes ready.
  6. When you’ve reached a rolling boil begin to drop several wontons in. I do about 5 at one time. When they are ready they will float to the top, usually about 3-4 minutes.
  7. Immediately transfer to heated skillet with sauce. As you add more ravioli spoon more sauce. I typically add a splash of cream as well as a few spoonfuls of pasta water. Top with shredded Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.

 

[ Prep ]

Chop: Carrots, celery,  onions and garlic

Cut and food process meat: Pork and beef

Whisk eggs in a separate bowl

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THEN….

Place wonton wraps out on flour covered parchment paper. Spread butter on wraps and add meat and veggie mix unless your a vegetarian then don’t add meat 🙂 Top wonton and meat/veggie mix with another wonton wrap like a sandwich.

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Use fork to form and seal ravioli shape. Cover with a dash of flour.

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Boil water until rolling bubbles and place three to four rav’s in the pot–3-4 minutes.

[ KEEP GOING ]

In a separate pan heat pasta sauce–can be store bought or homemade (up to you).

Start placing cooked rav’s into pasta sauce and keep em’ coming!

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Garnish with herbs, salt, pepper, WHATEVER.

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Now grab another glass of wine and enjoy! You kinda sorta made ravioli and it’s damn good. We were drinking a Sauv Blanc White Haven + a Cab Layer Cake because who said we couldn’t have both?

Recipe cred goes to my friend Lexi–thanks for sharing! Now start your own blog lady ❤

–Erin

The Things I Do for the Perfect Picture…

Long before I began my blog I always took a million pictures of my food, of brick walls, trees and my travels–obviously I still do. Whether it’s something I  saw while driving, on vacation, or something I made or ordered–you will see it. I don’t post shitty photos. I work really hard getting the right angle or right lighting. When cooking at home, I have to place my food just right for my photo. I wipe off the excess residue from the main course that spilled out to the middle of the plate before it soils the vegetables and makes my plate look dirty. Can’t have my masterpiece lookin’ a mess! These photos are for me–I really do go back and look at what I made for inspiration for myself or to share with others. It’s a large part of why I wanted to start a blog–to share my adventures, recipes, food spots and fun secrets.

The downside to getting the “perfect” picture is the process leading up to it, but it’s oh so satisfying. At home I just have to worry about my food getting cold, and my boyfriend getting annoyed with me because he waits on me to eat. He knows the drill now after two years to just start without me! Food pictures I’ve pretty much mastered, but when traveling I’m the worst with sight seeing pictures. The worst I mean by–it’s an ordeal. I’ve laid down in streets when there was oncoming traffic coming towards me to get the cool street few of puddles on a cobble stone street in Edinburgh. I’ve caused a line at the San Francisco bridge because I wanted the PERFECT cute kissing photo. I’ve been in situations where strangers think I’m taking a photo of them when I’m not and that’s so embarrassing/stressful. I’ve held my ice cream cone for so long that it’s dripped all down my arm to my shoes. I’ve also waited in line to take a photo in the basic spot that everyone else does at a festival like Austin City Limits or on the roof at Nine Mile Station at Ponce City Market of the skyline. Selfies are the hardest…I don’t post them often, but when I do it’s an event–just see below.

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^Me trying to get the perfect photo of my new balayage hair…LOL.

I’m not a model or genetically set. I like to think I’m somewhat photogenic, but we all have our “sides” or angles that we prefer when being documented. I have no shame admitting it. If you like to take photos–do it and share them with the world! BUT remember there is a time and a place for everything. A selfie a day is excessive. I’m more into taking photos of things and of others. and I love seeing other people’s perspectives of the same places I eat or locations I travel to. Pictures help us remember things and they take us back to a time that we can no longer be in and they take us back to places that we may never get to see again. From my perspective photos have so much meaning from the sense that remind you something you may have done, wish you had done or said at that time. By having a photo of that moment, you can reflect on it. I did not major in History, but photography has been around since sometime around the 1800s (I looked it up on Wiki). Back then, it was mostly for commercial use. Now in 2017, it’s so accessible for anyone to take photos and share them with the world. How cool is that? Remember when we had to upload photos from a camera–how archaic?! What I’m getting at in the end of all of this is that photos are the gateway of our memories. Good or bad. It’s a great way to connect with people from the past, present and those you meet in the future. That’s why I take so many damn pictures.

The things I do for the perfect picture. It’s always worth it.

–Erin

Choices

Choices. We make them, all of us–and we will continue to make them all of our lives. The thing about choices is that they are your own and are a reflection of who you are. When making choices we are constantly under different circumstances like high pressure for instance. Whether it’s from family members or friends, your professor or an intimate moment you find yourself in. No matter the circumstance you find yourself under, you have to think for the long term. You have to take control and think about how and who  this will affect and how long  you/they have to deal with it. It’s a fine line and so many of us cross it–myself included. I’m not perfect. I’ve definitely had my fair share of mistakes, but I’ve learned over the years to not only think of myself but to think of others. I’ve also thought about the long term affects.

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I feel too much. That’s my problem. I want everything to be perfect. Whether it’s a relationship or an event I’m planning. It’s unrealistic. You have to pick your battles in life and move forward and grow from mistakes. OWN IT. Especially in work situations. The more upfront and honest you are, the more people will respect you. Be yourself and be a little selfish. At the end of the day all you have is yourself so you better be certain that you like who you are and where you’re going.

That’s my Monday night rant everyone. Wine and emotions were involved–hope you enjoyed.

–Erin

 

Farmer’s Market Feels

Growing up in the small town of Blairsville in the mountains of North Georgia, I had access to all of nature’s fruitful offerings. My mother has quite the green thumb so there was no shortage of tomatoes, green beans, zucchini or squash in our home. Even with 9 mouths to feed. Yes, NINE. That excludes my father, who wasn’t interested into vegetables at that time in his life–those are two completely different stories that I’m not getting into today… another time!

For now I’ll share my farmer’s market finds with you. The Ponce City Market Farmer’s Market takes place every Tuesday in the Shed off the BeltLine from 4pm-8pm. I always see it, but am usually going for a run, or day drinking, but today I decided to stop by and even dragged my boyfriend along. Excited to see some homegrown options from nearby farmers and some stuff not to far from where I grew up. I of course stopped to smell the wild flowers and pet a few dogs, and purchased some peaches and a jar of raspberry pepper jelly. Successful day. Below are some photos from mt finds! Click on the photos to be redirected to the farmer’s market page and the websites where I got the goods. Shop local people and get outside!

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IMG_4428Bountiful floras: Levity Farms

IMG_4429Perky peaches: Pearson Farm

IMG_4432IMG_4431Baked Goods: Proof Bakeshop

Are you drooling? 🙂

–Erin

Hello, it’s me.

So here’s a little more about me and my plan for this blog. I’m Erin, and I’m going to share my life with you. Past, present and future. Whatever I feel like sharing really. Get ready for rants, questions, answers and photos of food, drinks and travels. I’ll throw a few previous blog posts out there that were during my transitioning or “troubled teen” years. Growing up isn’t the same for everyone. Some have it easy and some have it hard–and most of those that think they have it hard really have it better than most people and vice versa. That’s one thing I’m still learning with age is understanding people. Everyone comes from different backgrounds. Some people grow up with parents or grandparents and some grow up with strangers in an orphanage. Some people have dark pasts who moved homes every year and some people graduated from college and still have their bedroom in their childhood home. I’m a different breed. I come from a past that’s not too dark, but not too light. 

You’ll learn about me soon enough.

cropped-011821-pma-258-e1500433250375^Yeah, that’s me. A drink in my hand and singing terribly–pretty standard.

 So I’ve been writing for over 10 years, but I’ve keep it to myself for the most part–only disclosing a few things here and there with close friends. I write because it feels good and I run because it feels good (believe it or not). I’ve always thought that writing and running were my two escapes from the business of life. Somehow running hasn’t been the problem keeping up with over the years, it’s been writing. I realized the reason for that is that I used to only write when I felt alone or depressed. Now who wants to read that? Not me and not YOU. So welcome to my blank canvas that I will fill with my life and those in it. Enjoy the show.

PS: Follow me on Instagram

–Erin