Sangria & Spanish Tapas

19 Apr

Spanish omelet

Spanish Omelet made with potato and onion with red pepper aioli.

Another happy hour out with another girlfriend.  I just can’t get enough of those girls’ nights.  We decided to meet up at a Spanish tapas restaurant.  And who doesn’t love happy hour?!  Happy hour equates to “discount” and my eyes invariably light up.

Tapas are basically Spanish appetizers—and since you don’t have a full course meal in front of your face, the focus is meant to be more on the conversation among friends while snacking on these delights.

And happy hour is the best time to go!  Half-price sangrias, half-price tapas—let’s just get one of everything, shall we?

We ordered a Tortilla Espanola which was a Spanish omelet made of potato and onion and had a red pepper aioli on top of it—so good.

We also had Queso de Cabra Al Horno which was goat cheese that was baked in a tomato fresco and served with crunchy crostinis.

Then we tried the Albondigas Caseras which were meatballs in a yummy spicy garlic cream sauce.

And, of course, if Sangrias are half-price—why order a glass when you can order a whole pitcher full at that price?!

So, if you have nothing else to do today, try a Spanish tapas restaurant with friends and family.

Take-Away Life Lesson:  The small portions of tapas allow you to try pretty much one of everything—which is always fun to do.

Meatballs To Love

12 Apr

Meatballs

Meatballs with marinara, Parmesan, & basil.

I love when I get a chance to hang out with any one of my girlfriends.  It doesn’t happen as often as I would like it to, but when it does—we have a good time.  There’s nothing like having good food while catching up on the latest gossip.

I wasn’t very hungry by the time we met up at this restaurant so I order this dish of three meatballs for an appetizer while my friend ate a salad.  The meatballs were divine, I must say, and they were just enough to satisfy me.

And, ohhh, the things you can find out during a gossip session.   But I’ll never tell.

So, if you have nothing else to do today, meet up with a friend for some good food, drinks, and chit-chat.  Sometimes you need time with your friends to escape the mundane ins and outs of every day life.

Take-Away Life Lesson:  Sometimes three meatballs is all you really need for a good chit-chat with a friend.

My Trip To Dubai (Part 6)

1 Apr

Me

I just loved waking up every day in Dubai to my next adventure.

I had no idea today was going to be a doozy—but a doozy it was!

Desert Safari

I had SO much fun on this 6-hour safari.  Here we had the pleasure of meeting a couple from Canada and a couple from America as we all piled into the land cruiser once the driver picked everyone up from their prospective hotels.

The safari carried on from about 3:30pm-9:30pm and I loved every minute of it—well, almost every minute of it.  There was a bit of dune bashing that threw me for a huge loop.  I was NOT prepared for that, I can tell you.  What started off as a smooth ride soon turned into chaos.

I had absolutely NO IDEA we would be in a land cruiser with our driver tearing across the sand hills like a freaking maniac!!!  What was that about?!  At first I thought we were just going over a few bumpy parts to get across the desert, but NO—apparently, it’s all part of the safari adventure!  They actually hire drivers to drive around like nut jobs across the desert on the way to camp.  What?!

And my date and I were sitting in the very back seat which made the experience that much worse for me.  You can feel everything in the back seat—all the bumps and everything!  I swear I don’t know how many times I thought we were going to tip over and go rolling down any number of those hills.  Geez Louise!

One of the guys in our group took an excellent video of some of it and was kind enough to send it to me.  But in the video below, yeah, you can hear me carrying on in the back seat—but not nearly as much as I really was.  This is because the video is only 30 seconds long but our maddening ride on those hills was 30 minutes long!  And the video doesn’t make the ride seem nearly as rough as it really was.  Trust me.

Video courtesy of Scott McQuistan

It was all I could do to keep myself from getting nauseous, dizzy, and throwing up vomit in the back seat—considering I noticed there was absolutely no way to let the windows down in the back seat just in case I had an accident.  Seriously?!  Is this really happening right now?!  My date tried to help me through it all best he could, bless his heart.

Somewhere along the way to camp, we stopped at a local store for about a 5-minute rest break.  We grabbed some snacks to eat the rest of the way to camp.

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My Trip To Dubai (Part 5)

28 Mar

Me

Ready to go on a dinner cruise in the Dubai Marina.

I couldn’t wait to get on the boat and sail down the Marina while having dinner buffet-style.  You know I love food.

The Dhow Cruise

When we arrived to the boat, there were fresh sweet dates waiting on a platter before we even stepped onto the boat.  I can’t begin to describe how sweet these things were!  Omg.  I couldn’t eat just one.

I finally had to pull myself away so I could board the boat because my date kept encouraging me to try another one and another one because he saw how much I liked them.  I’m telling you—I could have eaten the entire platter myself.  Which means there’d be none left for the rest of the crew—but such is life.

This cruise was one of the most beautiful and romantic ever!  I loved looking out the window at the water and all the beautiful buildings.  It was a sight to behold.

Me

 Me and my dinner escort.

The buffet-style dinner was lovely.  Of course, I had to get one of everything which required more than one plate.  And since I don’t have eight arms, I could only carry one plate back to the table.  But my date surprised me by bringing me a second plate with food from the other side of the buffet—which I hadn’t made my way to yet.  But you knew I was headed there, right?

For someone that’s only known me a short time, he figured me out pretty quickly when it comes to food!  He was such a gentleman taking care of me.  Ahh, I just absolutely loved meeting people in Dubai.

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My Trip To Dubai (Part 4)

22 Mar

Me

I’m all ready to go see the famous Burj Al Arab hotel.

Now I’m on my way to Jumeirah to see the Burj Al Arab.  Ohhh, my goodness gracious I’m so excited.

The Burj Al Arab

What can I say about this magnificent creature?  I’m speechless, I tell you.  Totally speechless.  I can’t even begin to describe its beauty.

I was on my way to have lunch at the Al Muntaha restaurant.  First of all, you’re not even allowed to go up the long drive that leads directly up to the hotel without having a reservation either at the hotel or at one of the restaurants at the hotel.  You have to show security at the gate that you actually have a reservation or you’re not getting anywhere close to that bad boy.  No siree!

The taxi drivers will even ask you when you first get into the car if you have a reservation there because they already know they aren’t getting past a certain point if you don’t have one.  So don’t even try it!

I found this interesting video on how the Burj Al Arab was built.  It totally blew my mind.

I did some sightseeing outside the hotel and wandered around the inside of the first floor.  Then I made my way to the restaurant’s personal elevator/lift that goes directly from the first floor straight to the restaurant.

And, oh my goodness, what a view of the sea from that glass elevator ride!  I wanted to ride it all day long like a little kid—up down, up down.

The view from the restaurant windows is even more fabulous.  You look directly out the window and all you see below you is the beautiful Persian Gulf/Arabian Sea.  Pure gorgeousness!  You’re literally out on the sea in this hotel!

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My Trip To Dubai (Part 3)

18 Mar

Me

Excited for my next adventure today.

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Today was the day I took a trip to Abu Dhabi to see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.  I took a charter bus to get to Abu Dhabi from Dubai and it took about an hour and a half to get there.

I thought the charter bus would take me all the way to the mosque, but it dropped off at the bus station and I had to take a city bus the rest of the way to the mosque which was another 20-30 minute ride.

The bus station in Abu Dhabi was segregated with a “ladies waiting area” and a men’s waiting area.  I had no idea until I saw a sign.  Interesting that the ladies had such a small waiting area while the men had massive room for seating.  What’s that about?  But I just went straight outside to wait for the bus.

There’s also a prayer room inside the bus station and people were taking off their shoes going inside to pray.

When I got onto the city bus, I didn’t realize the men and women had their own separate sitting areas.  I almost sat with all the men but turned around and saw an empty seat next to a lady—so I sat down.  That’s when I looked up and saw a sign that said “ladies only.”  Whew!

You also have to open the door on the city bus yourself by pressing a button.  You have to do this whether you’re getting on or off the bus.  Of course, I stood there waiting for the driver to open the door for me until he told me.  (I mean—how lazy can a bus driver be?!)

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My Trip To Dubai (Part 2)

13 Mar

Me

Roaming the streets of Dubai—with my apple juice in a large cup from McDonald’s that I can’t seem to get in the States.

There are seven emirates in the UAE—Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah.  I was in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and briefly touched down in Sharjah.  But the goal next time is to visit all the emirates no matter how briefly—just so I can say I’ve been to them all.  And you know I’ll do it just because!

The Palm Jumeirah & Dubai Creek

I had my own personal escort to the beautiful Palm Jumeirah and the Dubai Creek.  I can’t even begin to describe the beauty I saw as we drove around the crescent of Palm Jumeirah.  It’s a sight to behold.  We also went to a couple of nightclubs that week and I had a blast.  It was not a problem for me to be out late at night especially since it was still daytime in America—my body clock was still trying to adjust to the time difference.

The time difference in the Middle East took some getting used to at first, but I survived.  Since we had just turned the clocks back an hour in the States, I was in a country that was 10 hours ahead of America.  But the first day I landed, I was determined to get on the Middle East schedule.  And, boy, did I have fun once I did!

Here’s a video I found from the “Documentary & Life Discovery Channel” on how the Palm Jumeirah came about.

The Dubai Mall

The Dubai Mall is so massively huge that I didn’t have time to hit all parts of it.  But I did see some of the highlights.  I actually went to the mall on two different occasions with two different gentlemen who were kind enough to keep me company.

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My Trip To Dubai (Part 1)

9 Mar

This girl woke up early on Wednesday, Nov 12, 2014 doing her usual “getting ready for work” thing like any other normal day—and within an hour of getting dressed for the day decided out of the TOTAL BLUE that she was going to go to the Middle East the very next day all by herself!

With absolutely NO PLAN, NO FORETHOUGHT, and NO IDEA HOW to pull it off she set her mind to it.  My bosses at work looked at me crazy for giving them ONE day’s notice—but even I only had a day’s notice to plan everything since I had just decided that very morning to do something so, obviously, insane.

And with the help of a few awesome friends, I was able to pull off the impossible and figure it all out and left the next day on a 12-hour flight overseas to Dubai, United Arab Emirates for 10 days!  THAT GIRL’S A THUG!!  WHO DOES THAT?!

(I have SO many beautiful pictures and videos that this will be a 6-part series.  I hope you enjoy all the videos and pictures from my time in the UAE.  Wish you could have been there!)

This trip was so last-minute that I still didn’t even have a hotel reservation when my friend arrived at my house to take me to the airport!  I was booking one on my computer as she stood there waiting for me.  Then off I ran out the door!

My family and friends were freaking out and texting me all day when I was overseas checking on me—“where are you, what are you doing, who are you with?”

I don’t travel and have hardly been anywhere in my life that doesn’t involve cars, buses, or trains because I’m terrified of planes.  Hence, my face in the second picture above when it just dawns on me at the airport what is about to happen!  First of all, BY MYSELF; second of all MIDDLE EAST; third of all PLANE!

I don’t know why I snapped when I woke up that morning but I did.  And now my life was about to get even more exciting.  I didn’t have time to research ONE THING about this place I was going to.  So I figured when I landed I was just going to “wing it” each day.  Yes, I clearly lost my mind.

But, ohhhhhh, how I absolutely fell in LOVE with this city—and the entire country.  As soon as I landed and got through the insane customs line, I pulled out of the airport in a cab and within 20 seconds I swore I never wanted to go back to America.

Someone asked me if I felt “safe” in this country.  I felt much MORE safe than I ever feel in America.  I did things in this country by myself that I would never even attempt to do in America.  The emirati have this country on lock.  They don’t play.  Cameras are everywhere, too.

Me

I just loved waking up every morning in my new home away from home.

I loved meeting so many people along the way.  I was wedged between two awesome guys on the plane in a really tight space.  We took selfies together.  One lived in the States but was from Tehran, Iran and was going to visit family; the other guy was from America and told me all about his travels to Afghanistan and such.

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Oh, That Sports Bar Food

1 Jan

Chicken Pasta

Smokey Chicken Pasta with garlic bread; Maytag Potato Chips with smoked bacon & green onions; and Irish Nachos made with fried potatoes, jack & cheddar cheeses, bacon, green onions, and ranch dressing.

This sports bar has been in town here for a while but I never had a chance to try it out.  So when they opened another new location closer to my whereabouts here, I decided to head down to try it out.

I loved the atmosphere and it’s a great place to watch sports—but I think I like my other sports bar better that I frequent.

The food was pretty good.  But to tell you the truth, I wasn’t that thrilled with the appetizer potato chips.  I did, however, fall totally in love with the Irish Nachos.  Oh my goodness—they were delish!  I had to get a second order of those suckers to take home with me since the ones on my plate didn’t last but a hot second.

So, if you have nothing else to do today, get a plate of those Irish Nachos from somewhere in your town.  I’m tellin’ ya.

Take-Away Life Lesson:  Don’t wait on folks to go out to eat with you either.  The good thing about it is you get to eat all that marvelous food by yourself.  There’s no such thing as ‘sharing’ when you’re eating out by yourself.  Take advantage of it while you can.

RELATED ARTICLES:
A New Sports Bar In Town
Two Games In One
The World Cup Excitement!
A World Cup Watch Party

Stalking That Man El DeBarge

17 Dec

Me

Oh, lordamercy!  My night was made.  There’s really not much to say other than I acted like a total crazy person stalking this man when he came to concert.

I don’t know if any of you have ever been on a stalking spree before, but there’s a process involved.  You, first and foremost, have to do your research.

  • Find out when the person is coming to town,
  • The hotel the person will be staying at,
  • The restaurants he’s likely to eat at while in town,
  • The cars he’ll be riding around in,
  • Someone who can give you the GPS coordinates of said car at a moment’s notice, and
  • Someone who can possibly get you front row seats along with backstage passes (namely the man himself)

Secondly, you have to make sure you look your absolute best, otherwise your chances are that much less.  What those less “chances” are is anyone’s guess though.  But dream on, I say!

El DeBarge

I’m pretty sure he was singing “Stay With Me” directly to me personally.  I mean—I don’t know who else he could have possibly been singing to when you really think about it.

I took a marriage license along in my purse on the stalking spree “just in case.”  I’m not sure how real I thought the “just in case” was going to be, but a girl can dream, can’t she?!

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