28 July 2009

viva las vegas!

while i have some time, i wanted to post about my wonderful trip to vegas! it feels like everyone in the blog world has been to sin city recently, but i'm going to add my two cents to the pile anyways. hang in there with me....this one's a doozie!

i had to head to vegas for a work conference, so my company was already paying for my airfare, hotel, and meals. since my mother had never been to vegas and had a truckload of about to expire frequent-flier miles, she decided to take advantage of a free week's hotel and join me. the only bad part of the trip was that unfortunately we had to stay at the monte carlo, as that was where the conference was held. the monte carlo used to be one of THE luxury resorts on the strip. that was clearly many moons ago. don't get me wrong: the beds were comfy and the bathroom was adequate {although the toilet flushed at g-force levels}, but the pool{s} were TERRIBLE, the casino reeked, and since it's next door to the City Center project, there were construction workers and their accompanying noise in and out of the hotel at all hours.

ceiling at the bellagio

now for the fun stuff. my FAVORITE part of vegas is all the fabulous wining and dining. our first night, we hit up pink taco at the hard rock for happy hour margaritas and some scrumptions chips and guac and fish tacos. we then headed over to the bellagio. the look on my mom's face when she first saw the blown glass ceiling was priceless. some window shopping led me to chanel, where i picked up {yet another} one of new fall glossimers in venus. looks scary hot pink in the tube, but is GORGEOUS on. we spent the rest of the evening at my favorite place in all of vegas: fontana's bar. it's just off the casino floor and has the most gorgeous marble balcony that overlooks the fountains. you can sit and have cocktails and munchies {bellinis and the italian cheese and fruit plate for us} and enjoy watching the wonderful show.

the next evening took us to mon ami gabi at paris, courtesy of muffy's recommendation. let me tell you, our girl is spot on! this is the most darling french bistro and feels so authentic! i had the mussels and frites {divine} and mi madre had the frisee salad with poached egg and lardons {sublime}. we split the profiteroles for dessert and put away a few bottles of pinot blanc for good measure.

casino floor at the encore


wednesday found us at my interior design meccas, the wynn and encore resorts, for drinks and dinner, respectively. parasol down is a darling little bar at the wynn in between sw and daniel boloud. here i introduced my mother to the humble martini. no, she had never had one. the one at parasol down is vodka {stop yelling, gin enthusiasts, it's still delicious!}, very dry, and has a bleu cheese-stuffed olives. suffice it to say, i may have turned my mother into an alcoholic because from that point on, she was never without martini in hand. hilarious. it was a cucumber collins for me. dinner was at wazuzu at encore. not wonderful, not terrible. atmosphere is FABULOUS though and the servers were all sweet as pie.

thursday was my favorite. brunch at bouchon at the venetian. oeuf au gratin for me, sourdough waffles for the madre, toasted brioche and cherry preserves for the table. need i say more? oh yes...the woman sitting next to me ordered oatmeal. WHO ORDERS OATMEAL AT BOUCHON, for chrissakes?!?! i was personally offended. in and out burger for combination lunch/dinner. if i had to eat only in and out burger every day until i die, i would be the happiest person on the planet...assuming they find a way to add vino to the menu.

finale of LOVE

and then the very best part of the trip...taking mom to see LOVE at the mirage. first of all, the show is marvelous. the beatles are wonderful on their own, but then the wonderful cirque performers and effects just put everything over the top. my favorite number is "something". so beautiful and certainly the song that will be first dance at my wedding. but the best part was watching my mom. she is having such a tough time right with everything happening with her sister and the show brought back lots of wonderful memories for her. she was reminiscing about their first go-go boots and what was happening in their lives during each of the songs. it was so nice for her to be able to enjoy herself and think of some of the happier times, even if just for a few hours. the laughter continued courtesy of the confetti we were pulling out of our dresses for the rest of the night.

all in all, a really wonderful trip with some much needed mother-daughter time. she's already planning our return trip next summer for my sister's 21st birthday.

whew! long post!! what are YOUR favorite things to do/see/eat in vegas? any first-timers headed out there who have any questions or would like any tips?

27 July 2009

i'm still here!

hi lovelies! i realize it's been ages since my last post, and i do apologize, but my life has been topsy-turvy recently. i returned from a weeklong work trip/vacay in vegas {also known as how i corrupted my mother in 72 hours} to find out that my aunt has taken a turn for the worse and is not expected to live through the week. i've been back and forth home here and home with my family the past few days and imagine this pattern will continue for as long as necessary. i promise to be back soon with lots of blogging fun, but in the meantime, please keep my family in your prayers, especially my uncle and two cousins.

15 July 2009

oh happy day!

mad men season 2 hits my mailbox via netflix today.

harry potter and the half-blood prince hits theatres today.

belle on heels hits multiple dry gin martinis today.

which lean cuisine betty draper-esque meal i will be whipping up tonight is yet to be determined. i'll probably just double up on the olives and face a tub of popcorn. sounds about right.

happy wednesday, m'dears!

10 July 2009

an open letter

disclaimer: yes, i was at taco bell. i didn't feel like making lunch and my boss was paying. and i needed my weekly once in a blue moon fix. stop judging.

dear 16-year-old with the metallic blue nail polish and boyf with questionable chin hair in line behind me at taco bell,

i realize that raging hormones and small-town selection have led you to believe that you are in love. and that's sweet. no, really, it is. but there is NO need for you to wrap both of your arms {tightly, i might add} around his waist, nestle your face into his neck/armpit, and grab his face every 30 seconds to make-out in front of pillars of the community me.

i promise you, he is embarassed when you do this. i was embarassed for him. it is not becoming behavior for a lady, and while i realize you may not be striving for that illustrious title, it is also just plain gross. not what i need to see before i eat my lunch.

keep it in your pants,
the belle

p.s. you are way cuter than him. and he didn't strike me as one of the but he's got a great personality types. just sayin.

09 July 2009

things i lurrrve

note: 'lurrve' is 'love', pronounced a la celine dion.

*watching the yahoo who tailgated me halfway down the interstate last night {i was in the right-hand lane...use the left for passing, buddy!} get pulled over by the coppers. oh, sweet satisfaction.

*great deals to be had at michael's and marshall's. picture frame for my newly won bit of ebay art for 7 bucks, bringing project total to $13. green zebra print michael kors beach towel for $10. fu dog bookend set for $16. cooking light 2008 annual recipes cookbook for $6. jackpot.

*sonic tater tots and a diet cherry limeade to refuel from above shopping. we have no sonic in my little town {sobbing}, so a visit is ALWAYS necessary when spending the evening with the parentals.

what are you lurrving right now?

08 July 2009

what's cooking wednesdays

i miss the old fresca cans.

now that our fiscal year has come to a close, i am actually getting home for work from a decent hour and, as such, i have been a cooking fiend these past two weeks. so lucky for you, this week you get not one, not two, but three recipes for WCW. i know....try to control your overflowing excitement.

first up, a recipe i stole from one of my FAVORITE design gurus, the darling eddie ross. i have a borderline manic obsession with him and as soon as i saw his no-fail sangria recipe in july's country living, i knew i had to make it for fourth of july festivities. i used a $5 bottle of sutter home sav blanc {you're pouring soda into it, people....this is no time to be a snob}, about 60% of a 2-liter of fresca, and garnished with green apples, white peaches, and strawberries. combined in a lovely green hand-blown glass pitcher and chilled in the fridge for an hour or two....HEAVENLY. i had five or six two glasses on my own, and despite the tons of libations at the party, the sangria was the first to go.

next up, my impromptu pea pesto pasta salad {say that five times fast...}. some of my best meals {and, coincidentally, some of my worst} come from standing in front of the fridge trying to get rid of whatever's in there. sunday this meant penne pasta, store-bought pesto, half a package of frozen peas {thawed, natch}, and the crumbled remains of a block of feta. a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper, toss it all together, let refrigerate. this delicious and summery salad has been my lunch all week. so easy, so yummy.

last, dinner last night, another product of my attempts to clean out the fridge/freezer/pantry. i had grits and frozen pork chops i needed to get rid of. i entered 'pork chop' on the recipe finder on cooking light and voila! smothered pork chops with cheddar grits. i gave this recipe my own little spin. i cooked the onions separately, carmelizing them with a pinch of sugar and herbs de provence. the grits i cook to paula deen's specifications {30 minutes, instead of 5}. put it all together on a plate and i had a gourmet southern dinner on the table on a tuesday night in an hour.

so there you have it....what i've been up to in the kitchen lately. enjoy!

07 July 2009

hooray for hollywood!

i was supposed to be returning from my adventure vacation in jackson hole/yellowstone tomorrow. but due to some unforeseen and quite trying circumstances, i had to cancel that trip. although it cost me a small fortune to get my frequent flier miles recredited and a bit of a hassle to cancel all the different accomodations and activities i had scheduled, like most things, it was for the best. because....

i'm going to california! palm springs, to be exact. my aunt and uncle live there and have been begging me to come out and visit for ages. the timing had never been right, but things finally fell into place for this summer. my aunt is the director of events at a famous palm springs resort, so not only do i get unlimited access to the resort's pool{s} and spa {orange blossom body facial, here i come!} , i also get unrestricted access to the cases of vino that my aunt receives from vineyards trying to promote their products to the resort. so from august 12-17, you can find me working on my tan and drinking myself silly on the left coast. my sister will be joining me, which makes it even better.

so.....SoCal bloggers, i want to meet you! annabel, angela, icing, muffy....i am talking to you. i will have use of one of the aunt and uncle's cars, and am planning on spending at least a day in the city of angels, so i am pretty flexible. leave me a comment with your e-mail address if you are interested in meeting and i will be in touch.

time to start bikini shopping!

06 July 2009

i. die.

so....i found my bed. i popped into crate and barrel yesterday while out shopping with the madre and sister, and if it had been a snake, it would've bit me.
i am in LOVE with this bed, and it's even more gorgeous in person. it is going to take me awhile to come up with the cash, as it costs over 2 months rent, but i don't care. it is sooooo worth the wait.

so now all major decisions have been made for the redecorating of the bedroom. now just to find room in my bank account for all of them!

04 July 2009

happy 4th of july!

make sure to put your puppies and kitties inside!

"a little rebellion now and then is a good thing" ~thomas jefferson

hope everyone is enjoying beautiful weather and delicious cookouts! i am decked out in my red, white, and blue and celebrating in true revolutionary fashion: i am in mr. jefferson's beloved home town {and home of my beloved alma mater, THE university} of charlottesville, virginia.

monticello, mr. jefferson's beautiful home. i could give this tour blindfolded in my sleep.

all of the men {and women!} of the american revolution were truly extrodinary, but i hold mr. jefferson dearest in my heart. as the father of my university and as an incredibly fascinating character. check out this nytimes post from last week if you don't believe me. i dare you not to cry at the words he and his wife wrote to each other in her final days.

today i am not only saying prayers of gratitude for the men and women who protect our freedom today, but for the men and women who dared to believe we deserved freedom many years ago. do yourself a favor: go out and rent the john adams miniseries produced by tom hanks and hbo last year. better yet, read david mccullough's book. too often we think of these men as the blank faces on their currency, but this film did a phenomenal job of showing their humanity and just how much they risked when they embarked on the journey of the united states.

committing treason is fun!

so thank your lucky stars {and stripes} for the brave folks in our past and present who keep us and our freedom safe. i'll be having mine with a side of hot dogs and peach cobbler.