Fun Night Out at Piero’s…

im-sorryFirst of all, let me begin with a BIG apology for being SOOO behind on my blog posts!  Things have been a little crazy and somehow I got caught up on the idea that I had to do all the entries in order…so if I missed one, I couldn’t move on until I did it.  I know, dumb.  Not necessary.  So, from now on my posts will come in whatever order they will.  Please forgive me…I promise to do better from now on.  “Scout’s Honor!”  (Okay, so technically I was never a boyscout, but my brother was and I used to go to all the meetings…really!)

Dinner at Maggiano's

Dinner at Maggiano's

So moving on.  A few weeks ago we had a great night out with my parents and our friends Karen and Jim Murphy.  First we went to Maggiano’s for dinner (got my favorite gluten-free Chicken Parmesan and g/f pasta with meat sauce…mmmmm, good!) then went over to Piero’s (near the convention center) to hear Carmine Mandia (of “Shades of Sinatra”) sing and celebrate the birthdays of our friend Catherine Cobeaga and my daddy.

Very fun!  Carmine is always able to draw a nice crowd into Piero’s…he’s there every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and the place is always packed.  If you’ve never been there, I really recommend checking it out.  Great atmosphere, terrific Italian menu, fantastic wine list, and live music!

Ron Singing "After the Lovin" to Catherine

Ron Singing "After the Lovin" to Catherine

Carmine got me up a few times to sing with him and the band…I sang “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” “Embraceable You,” and “Summertime” (done kinda blues/funk style), and then Carmine and I did a little Blues medley together consisting of “Route 66,” “Kansas City,” “Muddy Water” and “Stormy Monday.”

And guess what? Ron even got up to sing a few songs with the band!  Can you believe it?  One of the songs that he sang was “After the Lovin,” which he dedicated and sang directly to Catherine for her birthday.  She said it TOTALLY made her night!  He also sang “Old Man River”…truly spectacular!  But then, I may be just a little bit biased.

We had a fantastic time!  Carmine Mandia is such a great entertainer and a great host.  He always makes everyone feel so special and welcome when they come down to Piero’s.  As I said, if you haven’t been there before, or if it’s been a while since you’ve last been to Piero’s, you should go!  “Carmine and Friends” are there every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, 7:00-10:30pm.  I guarantee you’ll have a great time!

Visit the restaurant’s website at www.PierosCuisine.com to check out more about them!

You can read more about Carmine Mandia, and even watch video of him performing at www.CarmineMandiaLV.com.

Janet Rogers (mom), Me, Karen Murphy

Janet Rogers (mom), Me, Karen Murphy at Piero's in January

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Sherrie’s Weekend Visit to Las Vegas!

Lunch at Maggiano's!

Lunch at Maggiano's!

One of the BEST things that happened right after New Year’s was that my best friend Sherrie was able to come visit for the weekend.  She arrived on Friday, January 2nd and was able to to stay through Monday, January 5th.  What a GREAT time we had!

That first night we went to dinner at PF Chang’s (of course!) then we drove over to Santa Fe Station Casino to play a few slots (I actually walked away with some WINNINGS for a change!) and to see a movie (we saw “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”…a LONG, but really good choice).  The next morning, Ron joined us as we headed out to “Fantastic Swap Meet” to look for some inexpensive covers for the new Blackberry Storm” phones from Verizon that Ron and I just got.  Afterwards, we drove down to the strip for lunch at “Maggiano’s” at Fashion Show Mall (always a favorite of mine), and when Ron left for work, Sherrie and I decided to hang out there and do a little shopping (well, Sherrie did most of the shopping…I just did a lot of looking).

Starbucks on Sunday morning after our walk...

Starbucks on Sunday morning after our walk...

The next morning, Sherrie and I got up early to exercise (we went walking for about an hour) and have coffee at Starbucks (which has always been one of our absolute favorite things to do together).  Oh my goodness, it was COLD on our walk!!!!  I don’t think people realize just how cold it gets in Vegas sometimes (you can see how red our cheeks are in the photo).  Anyway, it was so wonderful to just sit and talk and catch-up on one another’s lives over coffee.  It had been WAY too long since we’ve had a chance to do that!

That night, we all (Sherrie, Ron, Mom, Dad, and myself) went to dinner at Chinois, located at Caesar’s Palace Forum Shops, to celebrate my Birthday and our Anniversary.  What a great meal!  They always prepare a FANTASTIC gluten-free version of their Special Fried Rice for me when we go there…love it!

Following dinner, we went to see Bette Midler in concert at the Coliseum at Caesar’s Palace…WOOHOO!  We were so excited because we got the tickets for less than $50 a piece (they were having a special on tickets for Locals…love when they do that).  The show was awesome and Bette was INCREDIBLE!  She is such an amazing entertainer…always “on”…always funny.  Plus it was fun to see a couple of familiar faces in the show (my friend Kamilah Marshall is one of Bette’s “Harlettes” in the show, and our “Shades of Sinatra” sax/flute player Rob Mader is in Bette’s band).  If you haven’t had the chance to see the show yet, I HIGHLY recommend it…you won’t be disappointed…the girl knows how to put on a show!

As always, I was sad to see Sherrie go back to California on Monday morning, but she needed to get home and prepare to go back to work (she teaches 2nd grade and her “track-break” was coming to an end).  But I am so grateful for her never-ending and unconditional friendship, and the time that we DO get to spend together…thanks for everything Sherrie!  I love you…

Mom’s Birthday Dinner at Maggiano’s!

moms-birthday-at-maggianos-8

On Sunday we picked up Ron’s mom and brother at the airport (they are visiting from Georgia through the New Year), and later that evening we all (including my mom and dad) went to dinner at Maggiano’s at the Fashion Show Mall to celebrate my mom’s birthday.  I won’t tell you what year this is for her, but it’s a BIG one! :)

Oh my goodness, I just LOVE this restaurant!  Chef Darrin is AMAZING and makes the greatest Gluten-free versions of his signature dishes for anyone who requests it.  We started with Mussels in a gluten-free tomato, basil (and I think Garlic) sauce that was to DIE for, and then my mom and I shared an order of Gluten-Free Pasta with Meat Sauce and Chicken Parmesan with a potato chip crust that literally melted in our mouths.

Dinner at Maggiano's!

Dinner at Maggiano's with the family!

My mother-in-law got a dish called “Mom’s Lasagna” (can’t miss with a name like that!), Ron’s brother Gary ordered Chicken Marsala, my dad had some chicken dish that he can’t remember the name of (but he said it was wonderful :) ) and Ron indulged in an incredible Lobster Fettuccine — of course, none of THEM had to order gluten-free…must be nice!!!  Although at THIS restaurant it doesn’t matter — even the Gluten-Free dishes are AMAZING!!!

After dinner, the waitress even brought out a complimentary Creme Brulee with a candle in it, especially for my mom, that we all shared.  Very nice!  And the best part??? The entire gourmet meal for six people (WITH 2 rounds of drinks) came out to LESS than $200!!!  Can you believe it???

Lisa and Ron SmithRon and I highly recommend this wonderful restaurant (whether you need to eat Gluten-free or not)!!!

To read more about Maggiano’s and their MANY locations across the country, please visit their website at www.Maggianos.com

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!

The Beatles’ “LOVE” at MGM-Mirage!

Dad, Mom, Lisa & Ron at "LOVE"

Dad, Mom, Lisa and Ron at "LOVE" MGM-Mirage

On Thursday, October 23rd, we had the opportunity to see “LOVE,” the Beatles themed Cirque du Soleil show at the MGM-Mirage.  Thanks to Katie Berry & Eric Ludacer who got us FREE tickets! Katie and Eric were part of the tech crew when Ron starred in the National Tour of “42nd Street” back in 2004.

We began the evening at my favorite Italian restaurant on the strip, Maggiano’s.  The chef, Darin, always does such a great job of preparing fantastic gluten-free meals for my mom and me (the gluten-free version of Chicken Parmesan with potato chip crust is my absolute FAV!!!).  LOVE that place!!!

Then we headed over to the Mirage to meet Katie and Eric.  I was curious to see how full the audience would be since this was the 2nd show of the evening and it didn’t begin until 10:30pm.  Um…apparently, that’s not an issue.  It was packed!!!  And at an average price of $100-$150 per ticket, you would never know that we were in the middle of an economic “crisis” in our country!  Seriously…packed!  Hardly an empty seat to be found in the 2000-seat theatre (you do the math).  Featuring 360˚ seating around the stage and a surround-sound system comprised of 6,500 speakers, the custom-built theatre is truly amazing!

Eric, Katie, Ron

Eric, Katie, Ron

Following the show, Katie even took us on a special backstage tour of this incredible theatre.  WOW!  So amazing and so much fun!!!  (A BIG “thank you, thank you, thank you” to Katie Berry for making it such a special evening for us.)

As for the show itself, LOVE is not your typical “Cirque” show.  While is does have some of the aerial acts and acrobatics you would expect, it is a much more theatrical and dance-oriented show than any of their others (which I really enjoyed).  And to quote a review from Kristine McKenzie of Vegas.com, “In the end, it’s all about the music…and if you’re a fan of The Beatles, you’ll have nothing but LOVE for this show.”

To find out more or get tickets for Cirque du Soleil’s LOVE at the MGM-Mirage, visit their webpage at www.mirage.com/entertainment/love.aspx

Do You Believe In The Law of Attraction?

Our Lunch at Maggiano's

Karen Merstik, Lisa Smith, Gret Menzies - Our Business Lunch at Maggiano's

Last Tuesday, the girls of “Dangerous Curves” got together for lunch at Maggiano’s, at the Fashion Show Mall, to discuss our business plan for this next year.  First of all, what a great meal!  The chef at Maggiano’s is so amazing and he always creates this INCREDIBLE Gluten-Free version of their Chicken Parmesan and Pasta with Meat Sauce for me (he uses potato chips for the coating instead of bread crumbs).  I absolutely LOVE eating there!

Anyway, we talked through what we’ve accomplished so far since Gret joined the group and brainstormed a bunch of ideas about where we’d like to go in the future.  One of the possibilities we discussed was getting into the Symphony Gig scene.  Almost 2 years ago, when Kai was still part of the group, we were approached by someone from the Riverside Symphony Orchestra following one of our performances, asking if we had a symphony show and would we be interested in working with them.  At the time, however, we were not in a position to even consider it.  But, it has been in the back of our minds ever since…and now we feel like we are finally ready to start considering it seriously.  But where to begin? Putting together a symphony show is a HUGE deal and a lot of work…not to mention a lot of money.  How do we make the contacts…how do we know what exactly they are looking for?  A lot of questions…not sure where to find the answers yet…but we decide to put it out there in the Universe.

Jung-Ho Pak - Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra Conductor

Well, how much do you believe in the Law of Attraction?  Later that night, I get home from rehearsal with the guys (“Shades of Sinatra” has a gig we’re preparing for at the Gold Coast Casino at the end of October) and I find that I have a Gigmasters notification email.  It’s from someone named Jung-Ho Pak, the conductor/artistic director for the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra, and he’s asking if I happen to have a symphony show prepared and if not, would I ever be interested in working with an orchestra.  Um…how weird is that?  So I email him back and let him that know that I am definitely interested, and that I also happen to have a female vocal-jazz trio if he’s interested in finding out more about that as well.  So we spend the next couple of days exchanging emails and talking on the phone…what a GREAT guy!  Seriously, one of the nicest people I have talked with in a long time.  Not sure where it will lead…we are discussing the possibility of me going there to sing with the orchestra for either a POPS Concert next summer, or possibly a Gershwin Show in a year or two.  As for “Dangerous Curves,” our biggest obstacle at this point is that we don’t have a lot of great video on us with Gret yet.  And in order to be considered by any of the larger symphonies, you need great video…or at least decent video.  So, for now, that’s one of the first things we need to get together.  In the meantime, we’ll keep getting more gigs here in town (trying to get some video from all of them), concentrate on finishing up our CD, and know that’s the type of gigs we are working toward in the near future.

As for me, I am really excited about the possibility of working with Jung-Ho.  He has a lot of great ideas and says he’s willing to sit down with me over the phone and talk through what would be involved in putting together my own symphony show…which is all new to me.  I know what to do here in Las Vegas…I already understand what the casinos and lounges here like (at least most of the time)…I know what Corporate shows need…but the symphony gigs are a whole different game.  Not sure yet where I fit into that…but I’m excited to learn!

To learn more about Jun-Ho Pak and the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra, click on the following link: www.capesymphony.org/cape-symphony-orchestra-meet-the-conductor.asp