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  Monday 12/25/17

Merry Christmas!

Westin Christmas treeWe're in Dallas, having a great vacation....

I stayed up way too late last night! Past dawn, in fact. We had lunch at the Westin because it was close by (too cold to walk very far), and we knew it was open. Our own hotel's restaurant was closed for the past two days. I doubt we will ever stay here at the Lorenzo again because it's not that close (walking-wise) to the rest of the downtown area (except for the movie theater, Alamo Drafthouse), and you have to cross a bridge to get to everything. Also, the neighborhood around the hotel is kind of seedy.  It was fun to stay there once because of all of the bizarre artworkone of the many weird art things everywhere, though.

I had hot chocolate and their very good salad again. Dallas has about the same weather here as we get in Magnolia, but it's just been pretty cold all week. I had a lot of hot chocolate on our vacation, usually with a shot of Bailey's, and whipped cream. Yum! Not good for me, though.

Later on, we went out to our Christmas dinner at a view out the Lark in the Park windowrestaurant called Lark in the Park. It's very fancy and they know about gluten.  The food was a little disappointing, but not as much as last year's dinner.  Everyone was very nice. The appetizer was great - I had some sort of pepper called a peppadew. They are very small, like cherry tomatoes. They were broiled and stuffed with goat cheese.  David and I shared that. It was pretty spicy, too.  Then, for dinner I had the goose. I never tried goose before. It appears to be similar to duck. This was not very good - it was chewy. Goose has a lot of fat, so it shouldn't be chewy.  The taste was okay but a bit disappointing, especially for the price. The goose came with gnocchi. David had the ham, which came with haricot vert (green beans) amandine (he's allergic to nuts). So we asked them to switch the side dishes, which they did. The gnocchi were not regular gnocchi. They looked coated with something and were very dry. I guess they must have decided that I shouldn't have the almonds, either, so they left the almonds off mine. The green beans were really undercooked (although I'm used to that because most restaurants seem to do that nowadays).  There were a lot of them, so I ate about half. The dessert was really good. The only one I could eat was the white chocolate ice cream.  The wine was great, too, and all the wine was half off,us at the Ritz-Carlton so we got a very good bottle. The dessert was free, too, so that was nice.  It was very festive and they played Christmas music. Really, the only problem were the entrees and their side dishes. Oh, well... It didn't ruin Christmas for us or anything. We had a nice time, anyway.

We walked around just a little (it was pretty cold) afterwards, and I took some photos of the Christmas lights. We stopped at the Ritz-Carlton for some snacks and drinks. Very fancy place. I don't think I've ever been in one before. The service was great, too. I had the waiter take a photo of us. I was dressed up a bit BlackFriarfor Christmas, wearing the sparkly shirt that David gave me for my birthday. I always enjoy seeing all of the Christmas trees and other decorations.

After that, we went to the other Irish pub that we thought was the one we'd been to last time, called Blackfriar. Turns out the other one had some other religious-sounding name - The Old Monk!  Anyway, this place wasn't as good. It was very loud. They were playing Christmas music, but it was very jazzy and just way too loud. I asked them to turn it down twice, and it was still pretty loud. The place was packed, so the service was really slow.  I got some burgers and fries to go, so I had some food to take my pills with. I would have eaten it there, but David was getting sleepy and the service was super slow, so I took it to go.

  Tuesday 12/26/17

We planned to go to a movie (David is not a big movie fan, so he lets me pick the movie).  IMe with Stormtrooper Christmas tree wanted to see either "Thor Ragnarok" or "Justice League," but neither one was playing at the theater near us, the Alamo Drafthouse. I got tired of trying to figure out where everything was, so I just decided to go see the latest "Star Wars" movie there. I had been hesitant to go see it because the last two movies were so depressing.

SPOILERS!!  Skip this paragraph if you don't want to know what happens in "The Last Jedi!" SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
I knew this guy, PT, on Facebook for years (I've met him in real life, too. He used to be in S.T.A.R.). I had posted earlier this week about going to the movies, and he suggested "Star Wars: The Last Jedi." I explained that I suspected that they were going to kill off Luke in the movie, since they killed off Han last time. I really didn't like the last two movies because they killed off so many people. Luke is my favorite character, so I didn't want to see that. Frankly, I was more upset that Luke didn't appear in 'The Force Awakens" until the very end, than I was about Han dying.  The movies have just gotten so depressing lately.  Every single Star Wars movie since "Empire Strikes Back" has been disappointing to me, but not all were that depressing. Some were just stupid or went on too long. Anyway, PT assured me that Luke didn't die. Now, perhaps I should have asked him to clarify that remark, but I took him at his word. Also, another friend told me that it wasn't as depressing as the last two.  So we went to see Last Jedi. It was a fairly good movie, with lots of action, and not too much that was stupid or boring. However, they did kill off Luke. I was very upset and angry at what that jerk told me. Even if I had decided to see the movie, knowing they killed off Luke, at least I would be prepared and it wouldn't have blindsided me. That ruined the movie for me. Also, it all sort of fell flat after that, story-wise. They didn't seem to have any other ending. Oh, and another thing...the way they showed it, there was no wound that we saw (Luke just sort of looked down), so there was confusion about how he died. I know because I read some reviews from other fans. Did he die because of the energy he expelled or because Kylo Ren ran him through with the light saber? I have no idea. Both his and Han's deaths were pointless. It would have been just as good if Kylo had left Han for dead and then he was rescued. Or if Luke had survived after defeating him. I assume Kylo Ren will come back in the next movie. The actor does a good job, and I like all of the characters, but I won't be going to see it. This is my last Star Wars movie. I'm done. I'm tired of them disappointing me. Luke and Leia were my favorite characters, and now both are dead. Han was my third favorite and he's dead. Clearly, they don't care anything about what the older fans want. They just brought back our favorites so they could kill them off.  And, that jerk that lied to me? He tried to defend what he said by saying that Luke doesn't really die - he just becomes part of the Force. Well, that's a cop-out because he knows I'm a fan and that I knew that already. That's all he would have had to say or hinted at. He didn't even apologize after I told him how upset I was. So obviously he's a cruel jerk. I unfriended him.  It's very sad that anyone would act that way, especially to someone who's supposed to be friend. It upsets me now even to think about it, so 'Nuff Said.

basketball gameOther than the movie itself, it's always nice to go to the Alamo Drafthouse. It's a fancy theater with really nice chairs, and they bring you food and drinks to your seat (including liquor). They have gluten free pizza, burgers and hot dogs, and fries. Last time I had the pizza, and it was very good. This time I had a bacon cheeseburger and fries, on a gluten free bun. It was delicious. I wanted to have a shake, too, but they weren't gluten free. They always do things up special. there. They show a ton of Star Wars commercials, fan films and more, before the movie. They had a special BB8-shaped menu for this movie. I wanted to take it home, but I was so upset after the movie, that I forgot to grab it. :(

We went back to our hotel for a while, and then we went to the basketball game. It was at the same stadium where we saw the hockey game. Thankfully, it wasn't as cold!  Our seats were not as good, though. We had an aisle seat at the hockey game and were very close. This was a little further up and we were stuck in the middle.  They were the only seats we could get that didn't cost a lot of money. Apparently basketball tickets are way more expensive than hockey tickets.  The people around us were nice, though. We had two visiting Germans to my right. The Dallas Mavericks team has two German players, and one of them is very famous because he was really good when he was younger.  In front of us was a very nice family with two kids. Behind us was someone that spoke Spanish the whole time. So we had a very multicultural basketball experience! That was kind of neat.  Again, we didn't care who won. It was mostly a close game, but the Mavericks won in the end. My phone was low on power, so I watched most of the game, instead, and enjoyed it. I don't love sports, but basketball is my favorite, if I had to choose one. Especially watching live.

One thing that was nice at both games is the extra fun stuff they do like giveaways and raffles. They had a free photo booth, for instance. They gave away free T-shirts and Mavericks posters at the basketball game. That is always a lot of fun!

We went back to the same pub after the game, Shooters, and I had another wedge salad. I'd just had a hot dog and some Cracker Jacks at the game for dinner.  Then we stopped briefly at our hotel bar. There were a few people there, and everyone was being very nice and having fun. I wanted a hot chocolate, but they didn't have it. The bartender made me a sort of chocolate drink with amaretto that was OK, but it wasn't as good as hot chocolate (and not warm).

  Wednesday 12/27/17

Our trip went very quickly! We had a great time. Too bad we couldn't stay longer.Denny's breakfast

I had a quick breakfast from the hotel, and then we drove home. I slept most of the way, and then we stopped briefly at Denny's.  They were out of the gluten-free English muffins, unfortunately. I was not really hungry, so I just had some sausage and hash browns. I had a long nap after I got home, too.

We had a few more Christmas cards waiting for us... Also, I got the marble cheese board I had ordered from Williams-Sonoma (using my SIL's gift card).  We didn't open our Christmas presents yet because some of them are still coming tomorrow. I hate waiting, though!

Windows did its update, but it took almost 5 hours! I was a bit annoyed.

chocolate cookiesWe just made do with the food we had at home... I mostly took it easy. It was a pretty lazy day. I wrapped David's presents.

I made some fairly low carb, gluten-free chocolate, chocolate-chip cookies as well. They taste a little grainy. I probably should have added some more liquid to them. Well, they're better than nothing.

Saturday we had recorded  "America's Top 40" with Casey Kasem from TV, so we listened to that. Since it's the end of the year, they played the Top Countdown of the Year from 1973.

  Thursday 12/28/17Brandy

David picked up Brandy from the vet's kennel, so I got the house ready for her return.   We were going to go to Flying Burger for lunch, but it was very crowded, so we went to Taco Bell instead. I always have their steak power bowl, which is pretty good. At least, it's healthy, and gluten free.  The girl who took our order didn't know that avocado and guacamole are the same thing! That's how you know that you're not in California...

We did shopping, first at the Dollar Tree, and then at Wal-Mart. Well, some of it. I forgot to bring my shopping lists.  The Dollar Tree still had some Christmas stuff left, and it was half off. I got a few more gifts I gotChristmas decorations, and some chocolate. They have my favorite, Sixlets.

The salmon I ordered for David didn't arrive, but we opened everything else. It was fun and just low-key. I got a Star Wars shirt, a Star Wars calendar, and some DVD's. The DVD's were "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (Blu-Ray)," "Beatles Anthology," "North and South Complete Set" and "Help!" So I did well :)  Oh, the calendar was from my SIL. She and her husband also got me the series "Constantine" (Blu-Ray) on DVD.

I walked Brandy in the afternoon, after we got back from the store. I unpacked all of our stuff from the trip and prepared to do the laundry (didn't actually do it, though). Other than that, it was a pretty lazy day.

I finally finished my blog post that covers the last two months!

  Friday 12/29/17

I tried to sleep in as long as I want, but Brandy was whining a lot, so I had to get up.pork chop

I didn't get sick once on our trip, but I've been sick every day since! (Due to gluten allergies)  Clearly, I did eat some gluten on the trip. I was very careful, and I usually asked about gluten, but I left my NIMA gluten tester at home, so...I couldn't test. Ah, well. Oftentimes, restaurants either don't really know the ingredients, or they assume that a packaged product is gluten free because it doesn't actually say that it contains wheat or gluten. They don't know that "natural and artificial flavors" may contain gluten.

I also got out of the habit of testing my blood sugar again. After I woke up, I didn't eat much for breakfast, and then I was sick.  Then I was sleepy and wanted to nap. I finally napped about 3:30. Then I woke up less than 2 hours later and realized that my blood sugar was probably low, so I had to cram chocolate and Doritos into my face until my blood sugar was normal. None of this is a good idea, so that's why testing, and eggnogeating regularly, is so important. Not to mention, not getting sick.  I felt terrible and tired for a long time after that.  We went to the grocery store, and I've just been working on this blog and tidying up around the house a bit. I made some low carb eggnog, which is really good.

Later on, I cooked up some pork chops that I had bought...I ate some of those and then saved the rest for later. They were really yummy!

I still haven't been doing what I need to, not only to take care of my health, but to train Brandy. Starting tomorrow, back on all that again! No more slacking off. Yeah, right...

  Saturday 12/30/17

I didn't get sick today, but I've been very tired and sleeping a lot. I finally did the laundry. I don't know how two people can make so much laundry and so many dirty dishes!

Brandy in the carI worked on my site a lot.  We went to the SAU trail with Brandy. It was cold, but not too windy. I didn't wear my jacket, just layers, so it was fine.

We watched some Lewis Black comedy DVD's that I got him for Christmas. Very funny! Later I watched the new fantasy movie "Bright" on Netflix. I really enjoyed it. Then I started watching the 6 part series "Alias Grace" as well. The first 5 parts were very good, but it got very weird and disappointing in part 6. Too bad! Plus, I stayed up way too late.

I keep getting this "Malware detected!" popup on my brand new phone (from the AVG antivirus program). It says RESOLVE and I click on that, and then it says something like "issue resolved," but then it keeps coming back. It says the problem is this program Soft Video Player. That came pre-installed on my phone. Why is Samsung selling phones with malware on them??? I know for sure that it's not something I downloaded or installed. So I uninstalled that program, and hopefully it will fix the issue. What's the point of having an antivirus program if it doesn't actually get rid of the malware for good?

Other than that, I'm enjoying my new phone...I did get a new front cover for it via Amazon. I put it on myself, but there are some air bubbles in it. I made it slightly better with a spatula, but it's still not perfect. I will have to take it to the Verizon store to see if they can fix it.

  Sunday 12/31/17

I got up pretty late, too. We went to El Compadre, the Mexican restaurant down the street, for "lunch." It's always good, and usually gluten free. I had to buy more gluten tester tubes, though, so I couldn't test. I only have one left. Hopefully they will arrive soon.Brandy and I New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve! I'm always a little sad on New Year's Eve because it means the end of Christmas (plus I have to take down all the decorations).  We used to have great New Year's when we were younger, when we had parties or would go out with our friends.  Lubbock wasn't bad, either, because we had some good places we could walk to, or our friend Lynn could drive us if she was around.  Alabama was kind of boring, but we did have our friend who was a cab driver, so I seem to recall that sometimes he would make sure we had a ride home if we chose to go out. We didn't stay out too late, though.  Columbus was pretty boring, and we just stayed home. It was too difficult to get a cab, or drive around with all the drunk people out there.

Honolulu was awesome for New Year's Eve. We lived right downtown, so we just walked around to various restaurants and bars. We had some really great fun places to go to, including some karaoke bars and Gordon Biersch.  Now we live in a small town with no bars and no cabs, so we stay home. It's OK for now.  I mean, we did just have a great time in Dallas for Christmas.  That's part of the problem of New Year's. It's too close to Christmas on the one side, and too close to his going back to work on the other, so we can't just travel somewhere for new year's. 

Brandy on my lapWe just listened to another America's Top 40 that we recorded (1972 this time) and watched other TV. We poured some Champagne just before midnight, and then we watched the countdown on TV.  It was pretty good Champagne, too. I wouldn't have thought that Barefoot makes good Champagne because their wine is so-so.  David's a morning person, so he went to bed pretty soon after new year's.

I've been watching a lot of the new shows on TV that I missed in November and December, trying to catch up. I have so much work but just haven't felt like doing it.

I've been trying hard to make sure that Brandy goes out often, and so far it's been working. Second day in a row that she hasn't had an accident! I hope we can continue with this. I haven't done any training like I planned to. Why do we always plan lots of things to do for our vacations and then never do most of them? It's pretty ridiculous.  Well, I have about a week and a half left of holiday. Maybe I can teach her something else.

I did the dishes, but there are way more to do.... I hope you all had a way more exciting new year that I did!

Happy New Year!

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