Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day off!

Who says only those who are working get a day off? A stay-at-home wife like me should get a day off too. Hehe...Being a simple housewife here in the U.S. is no easy feat. You practically have to do everything since there's no parents, in-laws, nor maids to help. Not to mention if you have small ones to take care of on top of everything, so my hats off to the dedicated SAHMs out there. In my case since I don't have a small one yet, I have so much time in my hands at home so most of the time, I'm left with nothing to do but sit in front of the computer and T.V. I've worked in the IT department at a bank for a year. I've enjoyed it, but after a while, I miss the freedom that I used to have. I miss just bummin' around the house, you know! Haha! So I decided to just stay at home and enjoy all the free time that I'm having. However, staying inside the house for days can get boring to a point, right? Good thing that hubby thought the same thing, so during his days off from work (which is Friday to Sunday), he'd take me out for a date or something usually on Saturdays. And I'd like to think of it as my day off from the house, hehe. Last weekend, we went to watch "Valentine's Day". Yeah, I know, Valentine's is over but the movie isn't, so off we went. I liked it, hubby didn't. Most guys don't like chick flicks anyway so who cares?

Taken before heading out

After the movie, we had dinner at El Chico, a Mexican restaurant.

I had some Chicken Mushroom Enchiladas while he got some Beef Enchiladas.

Ooh! Yep, it's me again taking a sip of my Margarita. It's actually just my second time to try Margarita. I heart it, so definitely not my last! Hehe. Looking forward to another day off this weekend, Haha!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What Happens in Vegas Started at Graceland

Two months before I was born, the King of Rock 'n Roll, Elvis Presley died in 1977 at his estate in Memphis, Tennessee. I may not have been fortunate enough to witness the fame and glamour while he was at the peak of his career, but at least in my lifetime, I was able to set foot on Graceland, a large, white-columned mansion with 13.8 acre estate that was once home to Elvis Presley in Memphis. I thought the tour was interestingly fun and it's something any one should experience at least once in their lifetime. Trust me, you don't have to be a fan to appreciate the vastness of his popularity and the mystic of the place. While I only know some of his songs, but by the end of the tour, somehow it felt like I have taken a glimpse into the life of the legend. I walked in skeptical and walked out having a better appreciation of Elvis as a person.

This was our first stop on our Valentine's weekend getaway. It's a must-see tourist destination in Memphis so we didn't want to leave the city without coming here. The mansion was smaller than what I had expected. It was very much well-maintained though. We paid $10 for the parking fee which we thought was pretty steep. We stayed in a hotel just one block away from Graceland, so had we known that was the parking fee, we could have just walked and saved us some bucks. Oh well, we were already there so we went ahead and parked. The admission fee costs us $33/each. Dang! That could have already bought us a nice decent meal at a fancy restaurant! Well, what could I expect? The parking fee should already tell us something. They also have nice gift shops in there. I tried not to go crazy with the items sold so I only bought a pretty pink cadillac magnetic holder and a ring-like key chain with a huge pink stone. That cost me another $20. Haha! Anyway, it's a given that when you go to huge tourist traps like this, you'd better be prepared to shell out big bucks.

Now here comes the official tour. The shuttle bus takes the tourists for a ride across the street to the mansion. There were hundreds of visitors in a day so they take us in groups. I believe we're on trip #7.

*Click photos to enlarge*

Before you'll get inside, a staff would brief you on the Do's and Don'ts inside the house as well as a short history and facts of the estate. You can take pictures but no flash and video cameras are allowed. Headphones are issued to the visitors for a self-paced audio guided tour.

Upon entering the house, you'll see the Living Room to the right. They made certain renovations to some parts of the house but most of the stuff that you'll see especially inside the mansion are old school and were dated back to 50's-70's era .

The next room shown is Elvis's parents' bedroom. White is the predominant color with a dark-purple bedspread that drapes onto the floor at the foot of the queen size bed.

Below is the Dining Room. I love the classy looking chandelier hanging over the table.

This pretty china cabinet is an eye-catcher as well.

Next is the Kitchen. These are top of the line appliances...for the 70's, hehe...

You could imagine this is where Elvis's housekeepers fry up his peanut butter and banana sandwiches! Yep, Elvis's favorite sandwich.

Here's my favorite room in the house...The Jungle Room. Most people find this the tackiest room, with all the astroturf ceiling, animal printed furnitures and shaggy green carpet decorations but hey I think it has the most relaxing ambience and the "waterfall" is pretty cool.

I obviously liked it because I have taken multiple shots at different angles. Gosh, how I wish I have a DSLR camera, lol! Since I'm not a professional photographer, I guess I'll just have to be contented with my Canon Powershot S2...for now!

This colorful room is his Media Room or Audio-visual room or Entertainment Room as you may call it, with its 3 television sets.

Could Elvis have watched 3 different shows at the same time? Why else would you want more than 1 TV set in a room? Haha!

It appears that the guy had a thing for monkeys, which adorned several of the rooms throughout the house.

Adjacent to the media room is this nicely decorated Wet Bar.

Second favorite room of mine is the Billiards Room decorated with fabric in ostentatious colors.

We've reached the open, grassy backyard of the house. Lisa Marie's (Elvis's only daughter) playground and the grounds where the horses were kept and the go karts were raced.

Ah! The Trophy Room...this is where you'll know why he is called the King. I was awed with the extensive collection of trophies, awards, long playing records, movie posters and other old time memorabilia.

The signature Elvis Presley outfits. Nobody wears it better than Elvis. First picture in the row is his famous 1957 Gold Lame' Suit.

Elvis Aaron Presley got married to Priscilla Ann Beaulieu on May 1, 1967 in Las Vegas. Middle was their wedding photo, the bride's wedding gown on the left and the groom's wedding suit on the right.

When I was 7, I remember I used to envy our neighbor for having this kind of TV back then. We owned a very small cheap looking black and white TV and I thought it was cool to have a big one like this, haha!

The last part of the tour is a visit to the Meditation Garden, where Elvis, his mother, his father and his grandmother lie buried.

Fans from all generation leave wreaths, flowers, cards, stuffed toys and other gifts to Elvis's grave.

A pretty keepsake from a fan. It's Elvis Time indeed!

The upper floor which housed Elvis's bedroom was off limits to the tourists out of respect for the Presley family. His bedroom and bathroom which was reportedly the site of his death remain unchanged from the day he died and are only accessible to the family. It didn't break my heart that I didn't get to see the "bathroom", it would have just creeped me out I guess. The tour took a few hours. Was it worth it? Yeah. I enjoyed it so much, even without being an Elvis fan.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Adventures in Memphis II

The Memphis adventure continues...

As I've mentioned before, that trip includes a lot of food binging. I wouldn't be surprised if I gained back the minimal amount of weight that I lost from our Philippines vacation. After all, it's easier to gain weight than lose it, right? Anyway, on Valentine's Day itself, we were supposed to do 3 things. Go mall shopping at Wolfchase Galleria and visit Pink Palace and National Civil Rights museum, but both museums open at 1:00 p.m. and close at 5:00 on Sundays so we thought we could only hit one museum when I'm done shopping and call it a day. But I lost track of time and didn't realize it was already 4 until it felt like I was literally ready to drop from exhaustion. Jeff was usually just seated in one corner reading a new book he bought at the mall, unmindful of his wife's predicament, haha! Well, that's way better than him hovering around, probably feeling silly standing in a women's intimate apparel section. I know guys normally don't go crazy over shopping so I'm fine with him just waiting on me somewhere in the mall.

Some of the stuff that I bought are hoodies and jackets from Aeropostale, Tommy Hilfiger cool pink sweaters, a pair of boots from Macy's, some colorful jammies, Victoria Secret garden collection for Mama and other good deals from JC Penney mostly winter clothes which I failed to take a picture of. The red love bug was a gift from hubby.

Since we didn't have time to do anything else besides shopping, we went straight to Bonefish Grill. We didn't make any reservations so we expected having to wait. It took an hour before we were ushered to our seats. Restaurants are crazy on Valentine's Day. It was raining so hard in Memphis that night but apparently, it didn't stop people from celebrating.

I ordered their specials for that night, Rockefeller Mahi-Mahi. It's wood-grilled and topped with sharp creamy spinach and lump crab served on Jasmine rice. It was excellent. Jeff had Lily's Chicken. It was chicken breast, goat cheese, sautéed spinach, artichoke hearts and a lemon basil sauce.

I have been told that barbeque in Memphis is excellent so we didn't miss the chance to try it. I did some research and found good reviews for Cozy Corner. I meant to take a picture of the food once served but it was only until after I ravaged most of my pork sliced bbq that I remember to take a picture so here it was. Sorry for the not so pretty shot, hehe. It was the best pork bbq I've ever tasted so far. I've had a few in Ozark but it didn't make my mouth water like this one, haha!

On our last day in Memphis, before we leave the Tennessee border, we had another barbeque stop at a different place this time. Central BBQ has raving good reviews from people but Jeff and I think it's only second best to Cozy Corner. I had smoked sausage that time, while Jeff had pulled pork sandwich.

This is me looking on the food intently

While driving out of Memphis, we saw this fully decorated, colorful tartanilya or horse and carriage ride as what Americans call it. Jeff asked me if I'd like to ride in one as it's supposed to feel romantic, but I readily told him no, thanks, because I've ridden in those thingy countless times in the Philippines, you know. It's one of my mode of transportation from home to school back when I was in high school, haha! So I'm gonna save you some bucks by skipping this one. He rolled his eyes and replied, "Where is the LOVE?" Hahaha!

I'm not sure if I had mentioned it, but Jeff has a younger brother. We couldn't see them as often as we would want to because we all live so far from each other. But I've met them on several occasions including their youngest baby's shower. Before heading home, we thought of dropping by at their place . But first we went to my DIL's house, returned the Dexter Season 1 dvds and borrowed more, then off to Jaime and Lisa's place.

They have 2 cute and adorable kids, Brad and April Genevieve.

I think I'm ready to be a mom, haha! See...I know how to hold a 10-month old baby.

I hope you enjoyed all the photos. Next time, I'm gonna take you to a tour to Elvis Presley's Graceland Mansion. See you all there!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Adventures in Memphis I

I love taking road trips. I find it refreshing to visit new places, take lots of photos, explore the area, try out new food and spend time with Jeff without having to worry about what to make for dinner or worry about laundry, dishes and other chores. Whenever we get the chance especially on long weekends and other holidays, we try to take a break and indulge ourselves on mini-vacations. The most recent we had was last Valentine's weekend in Memphis. The city is famous for its great tasting barbeque food and the town where the King of Rock 'n Roll, Elvis Presley grew up in. There are so many things to do in Memphis and I think our 4-day stay was not enough. We intend to leave the house early morning on Friday, but we slept in so we didn't get to leave until 10:30 a.m. We got there probably around 3:00 p.m.

We stayed in a hotel within the Graceland vicinity since that was our first stop, a visit to Elvis's home which is the Graceland Mansion. I'll take you to a tour on Elvis Presley's mansion in Memphis on a separate post.

I was amazed with how the hotel lobby was all filled up with Elvis's photos and memorabilia. They play his music all day long. I bet the staff have already memorized the lyrics by heart, lol. The swimming pool which is closed at this time of the year was even designed like a guitar depicting Elvis's love for music and performing. I think it's quite interesting until we get inside our room.

Lo and behold! More picture frames of the King of Rock 'n Roll. At first I thought it's scary to have pictures of a dead man inside our room whom I don't know personally, but I have gotten over the creepy feeling after a while.

This is what happens when you drive straight 4 hours. I have his consent for this photo to be included on my blog. He said as long as he's not drooling or with mouth gaped open, he's fine with it! Haha!

After that much needed rest, he took me out to dinner and a movie date. We had dinner at IHOP. He had some coffee while I got my favorite hot chocolate. I lurrvv hot chocolate on a cold winter night. But I think they overdo the cream and sugar on this one since it tasted too sweet for me, so Jeff had to finish it for me.

See how happy I was after my much needed "chocolate fix?".

I decided to go a little healthier that time so I ordered Grilled Tilapia w/ hollandaise sauce, steamed cheesy broccoli and mashed potato with brown gravy. Yum! Yum! There's no fishy taste to it and I love that! It's mildly flavored and it just literally melts in your mouth, hmmm. I think Jeff ordered some breakfast food, hahaha, layers of pancakes and omelette if I'm not mistaken, so I didn't bother taking pictures of it.

After the scrumptious dinner, we head straight to Majestic Cinema. Now, here's a little story. I've heard about "Dear John" and "Valentine's Day" movies from my Facebook friends and I was like, "Yeah, I gotta watch that too!" It's Valentine's and I need to watch something mushy. But the next day, I came across my good friend Joanne's blog and she said about how she slightly dislikes it when it seems like all movies they show on Valentine's Day are mushy stuff like it's some kind of a movie marathon, then I thought, "Wait a minute, I think I have the same take on this one". Don't get me wrong, Joanne and I both love romance and girly girly mushy stuff but I think the world has so much to offer. Besides Jeff and I could still watch romantic movies together at the comforts of our living room courtesy of Netflix, so I opened my eyes to other great possibilities and gave in to my preferred movie genre, a comedy-thriller-action John Travolta movie "From Paris With Love." I didn't have regrets. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. It was a different John Travolta. Definitely not a fan but I can't help but notice his acting. He was so effective as a tough-looking, trigger-happy, loose cannon CIA special agent who's out in a mission to stop a terrorist attack in Paris. You must have realized by now that it's a violent movie but with a purpose I must say. It has a good ending, bad guys never win in the end. Overall, we enjoyed it. I guess that makes us an odd couple huh! Hehe.

Here are some snaps of me on different moods and locations. Taken on a Valentine's Day morning geared up for some shopping frenzy at Wolfchase Galleria.

This one is on a Saturday stroll at the Graceland Mansion grounds. Nope, that's not a phone nor an IPOD hanging around my neck. It's actually an audio player or something, I forgot the exact name of that thing but it kind of guides you through the whole tour of Elvis Presley's Mansion.

Pardon for the bad lighting on this one. Taken inside an Indian Restaurant. Does that smile tell you something? It just says I feel so bloated. Who wouldn't? I just finished 4 big pieces of Tandoori Chicken. What a glutton! Harharhar!

India Palace...I've never tried Indian foods before. But recently, I came across a good blog authored by Ameena of L.A. She's an interesting writer and I love reading her posts. She mentioned one time about Indian foods, though she said she's yet to find a good Indian restaurant in her place but still that sparked my interest and I thought I'd give it a try. I'm not very adventurous when it comes to food but I thought I should try at least, then if I don't like it, I won't eat it again. Haha!

I ordered Tandoori Chicken as Ameena had suggested for a first-timer like me. It was good. Couldn't equal our own Chicken Adobo though but still it was good. Too bad the piece of lime landed on the floor before I could even squeeze it on my food.

Jeff ordered Pork Shish Kabob. It was yummy too. I had a few bites.

Below is a Naan, a leavened, oven-baked bread. These are excellent as well.

Sorry for a very long post. Thank you guys if you've reached this far, lol! I decided to make this as Part One. It's hard to fuse everything that we did for 4 days in just one post so expect another round of photos and mediocre narration. I have so much of them and I just wanted to share them all. It was a memorable weekend for me and reliving it through my blog is my idea of fun. See yah!