Friday, October 12, 2012

Time Spent with the Men in my Life


Just a few weeks ago, this guy celebrated a birthday. And I couldn’t be happier, since he is six weeks younger than me. Let’s just say that those six weeks around this place aren’t always pleasant…it is an awful feeling being the eldest in our home.

To celebrate, we of course took advantage of the free-$10-for-your-birthday deal at three of our local restaurants, all owned by the same people. In a surprising twist, Hubby chose my favorite of the three for our dinner date.

I’ve mentioned Liberty Market before. It is heavenly, especially when enjoyed with good friends. But right across the street is Joe’s Real BBQ. And, since we’re crazy like that, we went there for some takeout after we finished a delicious meal at Liberty.

Hubby thus had wonderful (did I mention free?) barbeque to eat the next day for lunch at work. It just made sense in our brains!

The last restaurant, Joe’s Farm Grill, is a looooooong way from our home. We don’t always get there to utilize the free $10. It doesn’t make sense to spend that much in gas to arrive!


Hubby is somewhat of a burger connoisseur. Meaning, it’s his preferred dish in almost every place that we eat. He makes exceptions in Mexican restaurants but usually gets a burger in every other eating establishment that we try.

This particular evening, he tried Liberty Market’s weekly burger special, which had spinach artichoke dip on top. Let’s just say that, while skeptical when ordering, he grew to greatly love and appreciate this piece of meat on a bun.

And he ate his vegetables!


I opted to get a grilled chicken sandwich, which turned out to be one of the best that I’ve ever had. Although it looked like a fried egg on top, it was just melted cheese covering a yummy chicken breast. Then, it was drizzled with a chipotle sauce before being cooled down a a dollop of guacamole.

Holy smokes. I rather enjoyed this entire evening! Hubby should have birthdays more often!

Hubby was spoiled rotten by my family in presents and lots of calls from his family. Since they usually only talk once a year, he enjoys the calls from his siblings. I love hearing him talk to them, too.

Happy Birthday, Hubby! Thanks for finally becoming as old as me. Other than the creaky old bones and the now-required use of dentures, it isn’t so bad, huh?


Just a few days after celebrating Hubby’s birthday, I got to spend the day with my Dad. Have you met my Dad? I like him.

We started our day with lunch at a place that I’ve been before…The Cornish Pasty Company. It’s fun, British food that has every flavor combination imaginable…stuffed into a pasty and baked.


Other than my father’s excellent company, this was my favorite part of the meal. The oven fries, I must say, were wonderful. And they were completely baked in the oven, which makes them completely calorie-free. They were crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle.

Wowsers, these were good. I think it helps that my Dad grew up in Ideeho and thus has a deep admiration for all things potato.

He obviously passed that gene on to me.


In a very un-British move, we ordered two pasties that had nothing to do with Shepherd's Pie or Bubble and Squeak.

This was the Chicken Alfredo Pasty, which was delicious. It was very mild and had yummy sliced chicken breast inside, as well as ham and a healthy amount of Alfredo sauce. I wasn’t sure that I would enjoy it but fell in love after its arrival.

There was a good chance that we were going to enjoy this one.


And I decided to order their Carne Adovado Pasty, which had simmered pork and Hatch chilies. Unfortunately, this was a little too spicy for my wimpy sensitive palette, but my Dad couldn’t get enough. I actually didn’t eat my half entirely, but Dad is a champ and polished it off for me. Isn’t he nice?

“We can’t leave food on the plate,” says he.

I have really enjoyed my Dad being home these past seven months. He had been living in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico since 2005. This past winter, he decided to move back to Phoenix to be closer to family.

I’m so glad that he did. It has been really wonderful living in the same city as my Dad, which hasn’t happened since I was four years old. I love spending time with him, and he is a great conversationalist. I see so many traits of mine that I now realize that I got from him.

So, if you think that my house is too clean, now you know who to blame!


After getting our fill of pasties, we went to ICRAPPA to wander around for ideas for Dad’s new apartment. In the process, we saw these cool knives on display.


Did you miss it? Their perfectly-translated sign to keep people safe in their store?

You gotta those the Swedish people!

I love these two men and feel very blessed to have them in my life. When good food is also added to the equation, how can we possibly go wrong?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Book Review – The Book Thief

The Book Thief 2

I think that it could be fun to start letting you know about the good books that I happen to find along my way.

A friend recommended that I read The Book Thief last week, so I put the digital copy on hold at the library and then waited my turn.

It arrived on Sunday, and by Monday evening, I had finished reading the entire thing. It was that good. From start to finish, I read the book in about seven hours.

I won’t tell you the entire story in hopes that spoiling it for you will not take place. I’ll just give a few tidbits to motivate you to read it as well.

With Death as the narrator, we discover Nazi Germany through the eyes of a non-Jewish girl and her family. It is an incredible narration.

Markus Zusak, who wrote this book and is getting much-deserved acclaim for it, found such interesting ways to describe things. At one point, when some Nazis knocked on the door, he described the door as “humming” afterwards because they had hit it so hard. That is just a small example of the thousands of ways inside the book that be brings things to life. It was magical to read because of his unique descriptions.

The Book Thief 1

I’ve never experienced something written like this, and it was a sheer joy to read (other than the content subject, of course). I found myself wishing that I could write like this.

I really felt like I was there in the book with the characters. On Zimmel Street, in the basement, on the track, etc. You will experience the same thing, I hope.

And by the end of the book, I sobbed for the characters. It’s easy to love each and every one of them. Zusak is a true master at winding a story.

The story is clean with no language (at least not in English) and no physical interaction that made me want to skip ahead. I would recommend it for any age starting around twelve and up.

In fact, I wish kids and adults alike would read it. I think that we forget the horrors of war and often take our freedoms for granted. This story was a great reminder to me that freedom, or an impossible conquest to rule the world and eradicate “inadequate” races, for that matter, is never free. Someone has to pay.

When I finished, I found out that I needed to read more from Zusak. So I just began another of his books, I Am The Messenger.

Please read The Book Thief. You will be glad that you did.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

From New York to Denver to Home


They say that all good things must come to an end. And spending two days in New York City was definitely a good thing.


Before it was time to leave this afternoon, I snuck in a delicious lunch at Panera Bread. This is one of my favorite “fast food” places, though I don’t consider it the typical fast food joint.

How many McDonald’s do you know have the best white macaroni and cheese that you’ve ever tasted?


I got it with half a sandwich, the chicken salad, to be exact. This wasn’t my favorite part of the meal. That honor belongs to the cheesy goodness above.


Another thing that I love about this place is that they give random pieces of heavenly bread with your meal. In case a bowl of macaroni and a giant piece of bread for the sandwich hasn’t quite met your carb quota for the day.

I actually saved this and ate it a few hours later on our long journey home today.


At Meridian, I enjoyed some pretty airplanes while waiting for Gladys to be pulled up. We lucked out and got the closest spot for parking today…which is nothing short of a miracle in such a busy place.

Can you see New York City? You can even see the One World Trade Center just above the Gulfstream!


Blue skies in Teterboro are always a good thing. This airport is the first to be shut down in the event that any weather moves into the region. I’ve been stranded at the beginning of the runway, with engines shut down to conserve fuel, more than a few times at this popular airport!


Oh good! Here comes Gladys! We got her fueled and iced and papered before receiving a call that our passengers were on their way…two hours early! Perfect!


This shot, which would no-doubt embarrass Gladys if she knew about it, makes my pretty airplane look huge! Or at least, really long. It’s certainly the biggest airplane that I’ve ever been paid to fly.

Did you know that I’ve flown a Boeing 777 and 767 in simulators in Denver? Some of my favorite entries in my logbook… Holy smokes, it was awesome. And they are just a tad larger than my Phenom 300.


With our passengers aboard, it was time to taxi for departure. We watched a Falcon land while an approaching helicopter arrived from New York City.


Here he comes! Can you imagine being this type of chauffeur? You fly the boss to work in the morning, and then back home in the evening when he’s done making all of his money for the day.

East Coast is still rolling in the money. Don’t be fooled by no stinkin’ recession.


He landed right next to us, which was really neat. Helicopters are what got me into aviation in the first place…I wanted to fly for LifeFlight and save lives. I’m glad that I found out how expensive it is to train in them (it would have doubled my already-high student loans to get my certificates in helicopters as well).

Besides, flying airplanes is pretty fun.


Now that the helicopter is out of our way, let’s take off! Today, we are headed to an airport in Denver that I’ve been many a time. Our passengers requested somewhere with a nice restaurant for the fuel stop so that they could eat while we filled Gladys for the last leg home.


We can’t quite make it home in this pretty girl. We could have tried, but it would have been really close with fuel. And, like usual in the summer, there was always a chance to fly around some weather, which takes more fuel.


And we would have been required to fly at a lower speed to conserve fuel. Instead, we flew fast, got fuel, and still arrived home about the same time as if we had tried to make it all the way home from Teterboro.


Sitting in an airplane for five hours nonstop is a lot for a bum to handle, too, so I’m personally glad that we stopped. We passed Chicago on our way, and Gary, Indiana is in the bottom-center of the picture.

Gary, Indiana, Gary Indiana, Gary, Indiana, my home sweet home!


I love Chicago, and I promise it’s more than just for their deep-dish pizza. Though, if we’re being serious, what more reason than that would be necessary?

I haven’t been to Chicago since I began this new job in February. But I usually land at Chicago Midway on the south side of the city. And then, I stay in a hotel that is next door to the Tootsie Roll Factory. OK, there is another reason to love coming here!

Cue the angels’ choir! Do you have any idea how wonderful it is to wake up to the smell of fresh Tootsie Rolls?


Uh oh. Now I want a tootsie roll!

We were assigned the SAYGE 7 Arrival into Denver, but I sweet-talked a shortcut directly to SAYGE today so we didn’t have to go to all of the points. With hungry passengers in the back, who has time to fly the full arrival?!


On the flight, we were nice and high. This helped with our fuel efficiency and also sometimes gives lower winds, too. Coming this direction, we have a headwind. Which is why we can’t make it all the way home, like we did all the way to Teterboro just a few days before.

Hubby was with me on this flight, thanks to some icy windows. I was excited to see him after being gone for five days.


Look how simple and clean this overhead panel is! I love this airplane because they’ve streamlined everything to make it accessible and user-friendly. Most airplanes have a gazillion buttons overhead, but we only have a few switches for lights. Smart, huh?


We must be getting close to Denver with all of this traffic! Since the new airport opened north of town, Denver is one popular place!

At fifty-three square miles, it is the largest airport in the country in surface area! And lots of airplanes come through here. Can you see the one flying just below us before our final descent into Denver Centennial?


It must be fall…after a dry summer. You can almost feel how crunchy those fields are underneath! I hope that the Rockies have a better winter this year, so that there is plenty of water to go around next summer!


Cleared to land at Centennial, Runway 35R. For once, it isn’t very busy today. Or windy, as it usually is when landing here. I love visiting Centennial and have done it a lot in my day.


We spent just a few minutes on the ground getting fuel and fresh ice for the drinks. My passengers headed upstairs in the Denver Jet Center FBO to eat lunch at Perfect Landing, which (I know from experience) is delicious.


I love how wonderful the Multi-Function Display, or MFD, is in this airplane. All necessary information is available in a glance, including the engine gauges to the left, fuel just below it, landing gear position lights, and trim indicators. Then we have a map of the airport, which helps us taxi along when our airplane is shown as a small triangle (we are familiar with Centennial, but this feature really helps when we go to an airport that we’ve never been). To the right, we have the electrical page up for our reference during start. You can see with the soft keys below that many categories can be selected to show even more information about a particular system, including ice protection and more fuel.

It’s just a smart airplane and nothing shy of pure joy to fly.


One of the Phoenix Suns owners was here in Denver today. I wonder how on earth I knew that…


We love coming here and are always treated like royalty. Denver Jet Center has an awesome points program, too, so we can get extra stuff just for buying fuel. I love getting prizes for things that we need to buy anyway!


Gladys looks pretty on any ramp, but the weather was absolutely perfect here today. I could live in Denver…


The chocks were in the nose-wheel gear so that we could let the brakes cool down before takeoff. If you depart with hot brakes and need them for an emergency, they won’t be there to help you out. So cooled brakes are kind of important to us all.

Why are they hot to begin with? We used them on landing to decelerate after touching down.


We taxied to Runway 35R for our departure and waited for a few airplanes to leave and arrive before it was our turn.

Hi, little Cessna!


Hi, big Challenger! Welcome to Denver!


And we are off! After leaving five days ago, we are about an hour and a half away from landing at home.

Goodbye, Centennial Airport!


There were little clouds to avoid on our climb, but they made for a pretty picture today.


Soon, we had the Valley of the Sun in sight. Well, kind of. It was so hazy today that we had to get close to our airport before we could tell Phoenix Approach that we had it in sight! What’s with all the small hogs today?


If you see green below, it is a meticulously-maintained golf course. Not very many sane people decide to do grass in these parts.


Hi, Home! It’s great to see you! We landed around 5:30 PM local time after leaving around 2:30 Eastern from Teterboro. It was a great couple of flights home, but it felt wonderful touching down at home.

There’s no place like home.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Heavenly New York City – Part Six


Today is bittersweet, for it ends our six-post tour of New York City.

Need to catch up? Here are the other five posts.

Heavenly New York City – Part One
Heavenly New York City – Part Two
Heavenly New York City – Part Three
Heavenly New York City – Part Four
Heavenly New York City – Part Five


When we left off yesterday, I had just arrived in Battery Park via the Hop-on Hop-off Water Taxi of New York City.


And when I picture parks of New York City, this is always what I imagine. Maybe I have been mistakenly thinking that they were always in Central Park when filming movies? Battery Park might deserve some credit, too!


I’m not quite sure what this building houses, since there seems to be a plethora of entities. But I loved the building façade and the incredible giant stone tiles representing the various groups found inside.

I have always wanted to use the word “plethora” in a blog post. Check and check.


As you can see, the storm was still coming. In fact, just a few moments after I took this picture, the rain began. I think it cleared out the streets for me. But no one would be hanging out in the Financial District on a Saturday, anyway.

Except me and a few other tourists, that is.


The orange brick was beautiful against the approaching ominous storm clouds.


I found this map on a giant pole. You know that I love maps. “You are here.”


I bet that this place is packed during the weekday with all of the worker bees coming to their respective buildings. The parking structure seemed mostly empty this evening at about 6:00 PM.


I thought that this church looked ancient and beautiful. Look at those Gothic spires! How does something like this even end up on our continent?! I’m so glad that it did.

Hi, subway entrance!


These guys were helping a truck load in the middle of the road, so they blocked the non-existent traffic from zooming past.


And, though not much good occurs here, in my opinion, I thought that I should at least include some picture representing the Financial District today.


This was my main reason for coming to the south end of the island this evening. I wanted to see if I could gain access to the September Eleventh Memorial.

I couldn’t…since I didn’t arrive early this morning to get my tickets.


I was bummed but hadn’t really been expecting to get in. I quietly paid my respects from a distance. Last time that I was here, I bawled my eyes out. It’s just an emotional place to be.


They didn’t build the new tower in the exact location of the former buildings. Rather, those are being left as a gaping hole in the middle of Manhattan. Yet another reminder for us to never forget.


By this time, it had started to rain. Which made taking pictures rather difficult, since I try to keep my camera safe and new. I didn’t want it to be harmed from the rainfall just for a few pictures of buildings.

It rained for the rest of the night. It was nice at first because the temperature dropped about twenty degrees. But as I got more wet as the night wore on, I regretted not having at least a light jacket.

Dang wimp Arizonian.


I found overhangs from which to take some pictures. I even waited inside a music store for a few minutes until the pouring rain turned back into a drizzle.

There’s a dying breed…music stores.


At this point, I wished again for a smartphone that could tell me the nearest location of a subway entrance. I wandered around until I finally found one and descended the wet steps to escape the rain above.


I still had a few rides left on my Metro Card. Rather than letting them go to waste, while battling the relentless rain, I hopped on a train to take me north towards the Lincoln Center.


I waited inside the 78th Street Station for the rain to subside enough. When that didn’t happen, I braved the rain and walked to my next destination.

I wanted to visit a particular place that I had been before. I’ve even been inside before. Can you see it?


How about now? Any guesses?


Hopefully this Angel Moroni will give it away. Last time that I was able to see this building in person was actually during my last trip to NYC over four years ago. I came to visit Hubby’s aunt and uncle, who were running this building at the time. Being the temple presidents allowed them to live in an apartment actually attached to the temple!


It was a pretty neat experience entering the temple not from the main entrance. He checked my recommend first, of course.

Gratitude came for the beauty of the building this evening, as well as the overhang it provided for my protection from the rain.


I went inside but found out there that there wasn’t a visitors center. Shucks.


But what beautiful doors to the entrance! This used to be a normal chapel until they built the temple inside just ten years ago (the dedication happened in 2004). Thus, it has double walls and amazingly cuts out the noise of the city just feet away.


After I left the Manhattan LDS Temple, I snapped a soggy picture of Lincoln Center. It would be fun to attend so many of the cultural events hosted in this building, from Opera to symphony to Blues.


I continued my walk south towards Times Square, though I was several blocks from it now. My eyes were peeled for a possible place to eat dinner. There were so many lovely elements to enjoy as I walked, such as this patina light outside of a residential building.


I didn’t go inside this store since I have one at home, but I have only recently discovered its awesomeness. If you have access to one, go check it out. I would decorate my entire house from this store, if humanly possible.


Soon, I was on the southern edge of Central Park once again. This giant globe adorns the entrance to the Trump Tower.


Here is the Tower…in all of its glory. Did you know that Donald Trump even owned the famed Plaza Hotel for a few years? I think that he only made a few hundred million when he finally sold it to the next owner.


I was really loving the effect of the rain on the city streets. For one, it made it seem much later than it really was because of the dark skies.


And look at those headlight reflections in the wet asphalt! So pretty!


Man, I’m hungry. At this point of desperation, I texted my brother for directions to Carnegie Deli, which he insisted I try while in New York City. When I didn’t hear from him for over an hour, I decided to give AQ Kafe a try instead for my dinner choice.


It was a little bakery/café with all sorts of choices. And they all sound wonderful, when you haven’t eaten in hours and have been walking all over town.


I think that the rain kept people away. I loved the modern-yet-country feel of this place.


I decided to live a little and to do something that I had never done in my life…order a hotdog for dinner. With the crispy onion shoots and pickled cucumbers, I was excited to try something so new and exciting! (No shrimp salad for me, in case you’re wondering). Dry heave.


Unfortunately, the server soon came back to say that they were sold out of their hotdog. Wha?

Fine. I’ll get this tomato avocado sandwich instead. It isn’t quite a hotdog, but maybe that’s a good thing?


It was yummy. And the salad was perfectly dressed in a flavorful vinaigrette. It was a lovely meal, and I was tickled to try some place new. I hate eating at chains if I can help it. I would much rather try a local place instead.


While I ate in the safety of the café, it continued to pour outside.


Thus, I didn’t get a whole lot of pictures of the rest of my evening. My camera is too precious to risk ruining over a little bit of rain!

Hi, David Letterman!


Not a soul in the world is surprised that I found my way into the Hershey store at Times Square. They were passing out bags for the wet umbrellas at the entrance. Apparently, everyone had an umbrella except me.

Silly tourist. I live in Arizona. I don’t even own an umbrella!


Gallon-size containers of chocolate syrup? Yes, please. Some people might worry about these going out of date before being used up. This would never be a concern at my house.


I almost couldn’t lift this giant peanut butter cup container. I love Reese's. Can you believe that I left empty-handed from this store?

Yeah, me, either.


From the overhang at the Fossil store, I grabbed this quick picture of a chocolate paradise right in the middle of Times Square.

Really, there is no need to ever leave this place. I have everything that I need to survive.


Twelve years ago, I ate at this Roxy Deli with my sister. We had a sky-high deli sandwich with way too many pounds of sliced meat. But I fondly remember the brownies.

And I didn’t buy a single one tonight. I still don’t know what got into me.


This was my last picture for the night before I headed to the bus station to make the forty-minute trip back towards my hotel. I bought enough food to last me for my meals tomorrow, which was Sunday. A Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcake may or may not have been purchased from Crumbs.

If, by chance, it was purchased, then it was delicious.

This concludes our multi-post tour of one of my favorite places on earth. I already want to go back to see all of the things that I simply didn’t have time to do while I was there.

It’s simply a heavenly place to visit. I loved every second. Did you enjoy this trip?

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