Friday, March 26, 2010

Sweet Sixteen and Never Been Kissed: March Madness


Sixteen Teams are going to the Big Dance this weekend: Northern Iowa, Michigan State, Tennessee, Ohio State, Syracuse, Butler, Xavier, Kansas State, Kentucky, Cornell, Washington, West Virginia, Duke, Purdue, Baylor, and St. Mary’s. Syracuse, Xavier, Cornell, and Washington were eliminated yesterday. Today we will eliminate four more teams. The remaining “Elite Eight” will be whittled down to 4 teams for the “Final Four” playoffs next weekend.

Four possible Cinderella Teams have emerged: Northern Iowa, Cornell, Washington, and St. Mary’s. Cornell and Washington have already been eliminated leaving Northern Iowa and St. Mary’s.

Cinderella Team #1 is the Northern Iowa Panthers. Northern Iowa beat Kansas in the first round wrecking my bracket and many others. What a shake up! The University of Northern Iowa has never played in the Sweet Sixteen before. They have excellent defense this year and guard Ali Farokhmanesh has become a star this week after scoring the winning 3 points last week. Northern Iowa is favored to win over Michigan State tonight for their next dance in the Elite Eight.

Cinderella Team #2 is St. Mary’s of California. This is St. Mary’s first trip to the Sweet Sixteen too. The St. Mary’s Gaels (knight or warrior) are a cool, confident team who seem to get better every game. One of their best players is Omar Samran. The Gaels also have 5 Australians on their roster. The Australians add to the team’s confidence. They are not intimidated by the bigger and better teams in the NCAA. St. Mary’s will be playing Baylor, who is favored to win, this afternoon for a spot in the Elite Eight.

It is exciting and full of surprises. Everybody loves the underdog but only time will tell who is going to be wearing the glass slipper this year.!

It’s madness!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Decorate Your House for Spring


Although the calendar says it is spring, it doesn’t look very much like spring around here. The trees and shrubs are bare but starting to bud. Daffodils are starting to peek up out of the ground. The robins are back and birds are busy singing and building nests. Spring is in progress. I have some ideas of to how to make your home look and feel more like spring. You need to bring in the sunshine after that long, cold, dark winter!

Welcome spring with a pretty floral wreath on your front door. If you are feeling creative, go to a craft store and buy a grapevine wreath and an assortment of spring flowers, ribbon, birds, nests, or gardening tools. Arrange the items on the wreath and attach them with a hot glue gun. An old rake also looks great hanging on a door. It can be painted and embellished with flowers, ribbons, and other springtime items. You can also buy a completed wreath in almost any department or craft store.

Decorate your yard with an Easter Egg Tree. Tie plastic eggs, bunnies, ribbon, birds, and flowers to a small bare tree or shrub. Fill an empty planter with plastic eggs and a plastic bunny or decorative wooden stake.

Buy a tulip or daffodil plant to use as a centerpiece for your dining room table or as an end table decoration. They can be planted outside after their foliage turns yellow and will probably bloom in a year or two. No guarantees!

You can also bring a spring blooming branch inside and force it to bloom early. Cut a branch and slit the bottom of the stem. Rinse in lukewarm water and arrange in a vase of water in a cool, low lighted room. Change the water daily until the buds are ready to bloom. You can then bring them out into a brighter room but they will last longer if you keep them out of direct sunlight. Change the water every other day and mist the blooms to keep them from drying out. It will take 1-2 weeks before they bloom. Lilacs, spirea, dogwoods, fruit trees, pussy willows, and magnolias are good for forcing blooms. Most will have a lovely fragrance too!

Spread some sunny yellow around your house: a throw, pillows, candles, a vase of flowers, towels, dishes, and potholders will bring in the sun!

Celebrate spring with foods that remind you of sunshine and spring. Brew some sun tea. Make some lemon poppy seed muffins for breakfast. Make a seasonal spring dish using asparagus, lamb, mushroom, sugar snap peas, strawberries, lemon, or rhubarb. Make a special dessert for spring like a daffodil cake, strawberry shortcake, or cupcakes decorated with pretty spring colors. There are a lot of awesome spring recipes for spring dishes at Family Fun (http://familyfun.go.com/spring/spring-recipes/).

The look, smell, and taste of spring will lift your spirits especially on those dark, cold, rainy spring days. Bring in the sunshine! I love spring!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Perfect Boiled Eggs for Easter



Do you need a fool proof method for making perfect boiled eggs to color for Easter or to use for making deviled eggs? This method works for me every time. I use large, grade A eggs.

Poke the end of each egg with a sharp needle and place in a large roomy pan with a tight fitting lid. Cover eggs with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for exactly 23 minutes. Drain the water from the pan and flood eggs with ice water until completely cool. Refrigerate or peel under cold running water. Boiled eggs can be safely stored in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Helpful Hints:
1. Choose eggs that are close to their expiration date. They are much easier to peel.
2. Prick the end of each egg with a sharp needle before cooking to prevent cracking and also to make the egg easier to peel.
3. The best time to peel an egg is immediately after the cooking and cooling process. Shells will come off easier under running water.
4. Green egg yolks are primarily a result of overcooking. To avoid green yolks - do not over boil and cool quickly after boiling.

Williams-Sonoma has an electric egg cooker that will cook the perfect egg! It will cook 7 eggs at a time. You can get them just the way you want them – hard boiled, medium, or soft cooked. It even poaches eggs. It is called the Chef’s Choice Electric Egg Cooker and you can get on their website for $39.95. It looks to be about the size of a waffle iron. Reviewers are very enthusiastic about this product.

Egg coloring kits are fun and easy to use but you can get a lot more variety by using food coloring. Just add 20 drops of food coloring and a tablespoon of vinegar to ½ cup lukewarm water in an old cup. Gently lower a boiled egg into the mixture. The longer the eggs sits, the deeper the color. You can experiment with combinations of different colors. For example: red and yellow makes orange. Red and blue makes purple. There should be some suggestions on the food coloring box on how to make different colors. Many color wheels can be found on line which can also give you suggestions for color combinations to make.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Thrills of March Madness!


March Madness is here again. Prepare to be surprised and astonished! March Madness is a montage of basketball games, tournament brackets, cute college guys, television reruns, Sandra Bullock's marriage woes, game upsets, Cinderella teams, and vasectomies! It's going to be a wild ride this year!

March Madness refers to the NCAA collegiate men's basketball tournament. Sixty-four teams will be vying for the national championship. It is a tournament of wild upsets, unpredictability, uncertainty, and surprises! It is the madness of trying to watch or monitor 48 games in 4 days!

March Madness brackets provide the map to the tournament. Brackets make it simple for the whole country to participate. You can fill out a free one at yahoo sports and many other places and be eligible to win prizes or you can pay a fee and fill out a bracket for a chance to win money prizes at work or with friends. Gambling is fun. Watching basketball is fun. Combining them is even more fun!

If you watch college basketball, you will see a lot of cute, hot, sexy college guys. Here are just a few to watch: Chris Kramer (Purdue), Jeff Adrien (UConn), Preston Knowles (Louisville), Jonny Flynn (Syracuse) and my personal favorite :Greg Paulus (Duke).

Don't worry about missing your favorite television shows this month as most of them will be showing reruns.

Crazy March Madness does not always refer basketball. Poor Sandra Bullock! She wins her first Academy Award and her much adored husband is caught cheating on her! How crazy is that?

Back to basketball: There have already been many upsets on the first day of the tournament! Ohio was the biggest so far. There will be more to anticipate! This is what makes it so wildly entertaining.

I love the tournament's analogy to The Cinderella Fairy Tale. the tournament is often called "The Big Dance" and "Cinderella Team" refers to a low seeded team that upsets a high ranked team. (http://www.turnto23.com/mylife/11047810/detail.html) . Ohio from yesterday's games is being called a Cinderella Team. Other possibilities include: Murray, Cornell, Northern Iowa, Texas A&M, and Butler.

March Madness is the perfect time to get a vasectomy. Get a vasectomy Thursday morning and enjoy a long weekend sitting on the couch watching basketball. Many urologists are marketing vasectomies with basketball and even offering packages including pizza and subway coupons, free coolers and mugs, mandatory days off work, and frozen bags of peas to reduce swelling! (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/MensHealthNews/march-madness-means-bets-basketball-vasectomies/story?id=10140703). This is an odd but true March Madness fact.

March Madness is very exciting and fun entertainment for everyone. It is not too late to fill out a bracket just for fun. You can find a bracket in the newspapers or on line. Many bars and restaurants have drink, appetizer, and meal specials right now and it is a lot of fun to watch games with other fans. It is also a good time to have a party!

Enjoy the thrill of March Madness!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Surviving Daylight Savings Time


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I hope you are wearing green!

It is day four of Daylight Savings Time. I slept better last night and feel a little more alert but the last few days have been really rough. I had constantly felt like I had been hit in the head with a hammer. I felt dazed, sleepy,achey, irritable, and had a terrible craving for sweets. Large amounts of coffee did not help. I absolutely hate Daylight Savings Time.

At least I haven’t had any accidents. My niece slipped on an index card and fell down the stairs bruising her tailbone first thing Monday morning. Research shows that the incidence of auto accidents slightly increases during the first week of daylight saving time due to sleep deprivation. (Sleep Deficit, Fatal Accidents, and the Spring Shift to Daylight Savings Time (Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, 1/1/1998)).

Daylight Savings time is really bad for people who have Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. These people have depression due to the lack of light in the fall and winter and are just starting to feel better with the increasing light of spring. Treatment with bright light is very beneficial for people suffering from SAD especially in the morning hours when they first wake up. (National Alliance for Mental Health)

It also affects circadian rhythms. The circadian system works with the biological clock and is controlled by the brain. It is a 24 hour clock which is influenced by light and dark and regulates wake/sleep cycles, body temperature, and the release of hormones. Daylight Saving time can be very disruptive to a person’s biological clock.

Daylight Savings Time was Benjamin Franklin’s idea but it was first implemented during World War I to save energy. The purpose is to make better use of daylight allowing people to have an extra hour of sunshine to enjoy long summer evenings. There may be a slight savings of energy today.

There are a few things you can do to make daylight savings time easier. Move Saturday dinner up an hour the day before the time change to help your body start the adjustment earlier. Go to bed an hour earlier Saturday and especially Sunday evening. Prepare for Monday morning the night before. Eat a nutritious breakfast and keep up with your regular exercise to reduce stress. Take good care of yourself.

It will take a few days but we will eventually get used to it. We’ll certainly enjoy those long sunny afternoons and evenings!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Too Many Earthquakes?

I’m a little worried about all these earthquakes that have been happening. I live in a low risk area but it wouldn’t hurt to be a little prepared just in case. There have been at least 3 major earthquakes in the last few months: Haiti, Chile, and Turkey, and many other small ones. They have caused such tragedy and human suffering.

We have had around 40 quakes this year so far. According to the US Geological Survey, the yearly average of 6.0 to 6.9 magnitude earthquakes is 134. Although scientists say it is just coincidence, it is frightening. Earthquakes cannot be predicted but probabilities for future earthquakes can calculated. The USGS has maps showing the probability of earthquakes occurring in certain areas of the world. They use this information to plan land use and prepare for earthquakes.

So, how do you prepare for a possible earthquake? Plan and secure your home. Fix inadequate foundations and broken pipes. Know how to turn off the gas and water in your house. Pictures, shelves, and other items should be securely attached to your walls. Identify things that might fall on you like bookcases and heavy televisions during an earthquake so you know to avoid them. Plan a place to meet after an earthquake. Stockpile a fire extinguisher, wrenches to turn off water and gas, extra medications, first aid kit, water for two weeks, water purification tablets, flashlight, radio, and extra batteries, canned and packaged food, a mechanical can opener, camp stove or grill, and heavy plastic bags.

When an earthquake occurs: Stay inside if you are already in but get away from the kitchen and windows and appliances. Hold on to some heavy furniture or the walls in a hallway and protect your head and neck. If you are outside, get out in the open away from trees and power lines and things that might fall on you. If you are driving, stop carefully and move out of traffic.
After an earthquake, wear sturdy shoes, check for injuries and apply first aid. Look for hazards like fires and gas leaks and call for help. Put fires out and turn off gas, water, and power lines only if you know what you are doing. Do not touch power lines. Clean up spills.

So, remember to drop, cover, and hold on during an earthquake! Drop to the ground, take cover, and hold on until the shaking stops. Protect your head and neck. You are most likely to be injured by falling or flying objects. Be prepared and be safe.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Easy St. Patrick's Day Shamrock Crafts


It is easy to make decorated t-shirts, sweatshirts, tote bags, placemats, tablecloths, bibs, and glasses for St. Patrick’s Day.

The easiest way is to buy a shamrock stamp and some fabric paint and stamp your own creative design. Let dry and embellish with a painted rainbow, personalized writing, or flecks of gold paint. When everything dries, you will need to set the paint by ironing the fabric. Put wax paper between the fabric and the iron before ironing. If you can’t find a shamrock stamp, you can cut a stencil from heavy cardboard and paint over the stencil or cut a shamrock stamp out of a clean sponge. You can also use a heart stamp. A shamrock can be made from 3 heart stamps and a hand drawn stem.

Be sure to match the kind of paint you buy to the item you are painting. There are separate paints for metal, fabric, and glass.

Another cute idea is to tie dye the fabric before painting or decorating. It is very easy to do. Be sure to wear rubber gloves. There are several different designs you can tie your garment into. Check the RIT Dye website for ideas. Dissolve 1 package RIT dye in 2 gallons of very hot water. Immerse garment for 5- 7 minutes. Stir occasionally and remove when garment is a little darker than desired. Remove and rinse in warm water and progressively cooler water until water runs clear. Remove ties. Wash in warm water with mild detergent and rinse with cool water. Dry by machine or hang dry.

Appliqué is another way to decorate fabric. Cut shamrocks from small amounts of green fabric and fusible webbing at the same time and arrange on fabric. Follow fusible webbing instructions and fuse to fabric using a hot iron. Stitch around the edges with a zigzag stitch or outline with fabric paint to prevent fraying. Add painted accents, buttons, and trims.

Patches can be bought and fused or sewn to fabric for cute decorations. If you know how to crochet, you can make shamrocks from yarn and sew them on with quilting thread. They make a very professional looking t-shirt or sweatshirt. You can find a lot of patterns at Crochet pattern Central.com. You can buy readymade crocheted shamrocks at Etsy.com or on EBay.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Favorite St. Patrick's Day Desserts



I love dessert. Holidays are the perfect time to celebrate with a rich, delicious, sweet dessert. Here are some of my favorites:

Shamrock Sugar Cookies

Make your favorite sugar cookie recipe or buy some refrigerated sugar cookie dough and cut out some shamrock cookies to frost and decorate. Decorate with green or white frosting green sugar. If you don’t have a shamrock cookie cutter, cut out some circles and decorate with green or white frosting and sugar. These cookies can be eaten or used to decorate cakes and cupcakes.

Rich Mint Brownies
(Taken from the Honest to Goodness Abraham Lincoln Cookbook)

Brownies
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
16 ounces chocolate syrup
½ cup melted butter
4 eggs
Mint Frosting
½ cup softened butter
1 pound confectioners sugar
¼ cup milk
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
10 drops green food coloring
Chocolate Glaze
½ cup butter
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix together brownie ingredients and pour into greased 11x16 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, cool completely.
Beat together Mint Frosting ingredients. Spread evenly over cooled brownies. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. Melt chocolate glaze ingredients, mix together and spread on top of mint frosting. Refrigerate until firm. Cut into small squares.

Lime Jell-O Cake

1 box white cake mix
2 boxes lime Jell-o
1 8 ounce carton Cool Whip
Green food coloring
Nuts

Prepare white cake mix as directed on box. Pour into 9X13 greased cake pan and bake as directed. While cake is baking, make Jell-o as directed and put in freezer to thicken but not jell completely. Punch holes in baked cake with the bottom of a wooden spoon and pour jello on top of cake. Cool completely. Tint Cool Whip green with the food coloring use it to frost cake. Sprinkle with nuts and/or colored sugar. Keep refrigerated until served.

Green Velvet Cupcakes

½ cup shortening
½ cups sugar
2 eggs
2 ounces green food coloring
1 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
2 ½ cups sifted cake flour
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
Cream shortening, eggs, and sugar on bowl. In another small bowl, mix food coloring and cocoa. Stir into creamed mixture. Mix in vanilla and butter. Stir in flour and milk alternately mixing well after each addition. Stir in vinegar and baking soda. Fill cupcake papers 2/3 full and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees until a toothpick can be inserted and pulled out clean. Frost and decorate.

Grasshopper Pie
(Taken from Simply Recipes)

20 oreo cookies (40 halves), fillings discarded, cookies crushed
5 Tbsp butter, melted
3/4 cup hot milk
24 large marshmallows
1/4 cup creme de menthe liqueur
2 tablespoons white creme de cacao
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
Optional A drop or two of green food dye.

Preheat oven to 425°F. In a bowl, mix crushed oreo cookie halves and butter. Pat into bottom and sides of 10 inch pie dish. Bake in oven for 5 to 10 minutes; remove from oven and cool completely. Once cooled, place in freezer to chill.
In saucepan, melt marshmallows in milk over medium heat. Remove from heat and cool. Add creme de menthe and creme de cacao, and mix well. Add a drop or two of green food dye if desired. Fold in whipped cream. Pour into chilled pie shell. Freeze for 3 or 4 hours.Serves 8. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Festive Foods for St. Patrick's Day


Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!
We dress in green, drink green beer, and eat traditional Irish dishes. Traditional foods for St. Patrick’s Day include Corned Beef and Cabbage, Irish Stew, Soda Bread, Guinness Beer, and Irish Coffee. Recipes rely heavily on potatoes and cabbage, corned beef, and lamb, Reuben’s, Irish whiskey and Irish Cream liqueurs.

Here are a few more festive foods to eat on St. Paddy’s Day:

Breakfast:
Lucky Charms Cereal and milk, green tinted Scrambled eggs and ham, shamrock shaped toast, pancakes, and French toast with green tinted butter or whipped cream, and green tinted oatmeal.

Lunch:
Potato soup, split pea soup, shamrock shaped sandwiches, salad, lime Jell-O with green vegetables or fruits, Rainbow Fruit Kebob: Thread a skewer with the following fruits: watermelon or strawberry slice, orange slice, pineapple or banana chunk, kiwi slice or green grape, blueberry, and purple grape, green pasta, green tinted egg salad or cottage cheese, Lucky Clover Salad: Place a glob of green tinted cream cheese on a plate and arrange 4 slices of cucumber and one celery stick into a clover shape.

Dinner:
Traditional foods: Corned Beef and Cabbage, Irish Stew, Soda Bread, Corned Beef Hash, Shepherd’s Pie, Irish Banger Sausages, and variations of these. Beef Dishes with green tinted mashed potatoes, green beans or peas. Chef Salad or Rainbow Salad: lettuce, tomatoes, cheese slices, and shredded purple cabbage, carrots, ham, and turkey, cucumber slices. Stuffed Green Peppers.

Drinks:
Irish teas, Irish coffees, green beer, Guinness Beer. Green tinted milk, milk shakes, ginger ale, 7 Up, Sprite, Beer. Make green tinted ice cubes. Green Gatorade and green Kool- Ade. Grasshopper cocktails and Appletinis.

Desserts:
Shamrock shaped cookies, green decorated cupcakes, cookies, and cakes. Pistachio Pudding. Lime Jell-O and lime Jell-O cake. Grasshopper Pie. Mint or Irish Cream flavored desserts.

Snacks and Appetizers:
Green tinted Rice Crispy Treats, green apple slices, spinach dip and crackers or soda bread chunks, potato skins and roasted potato wedges and cheese sauce, celery sticks frosted with green tinted cream cheese, guacamole dip, green tinted popcorn balls, green tinted deviled eggs: add a little green food colored to water when boiling, and vegetable plate of green pepper slices, celery sticks, green onions, broccoli, and olives with dip.

Erin Go Braugh! Ireland forever!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Terry fator is the Best show in Las Vegas!


If you are going to Las Vegas, you must see the Terry Fator Show. It is the best! Terry is a singer, comedian, impressionist, ventriloquist, and puppeteer. He is extremely talented and funny!

Our friends told us that we just had to go see Terry Fator when we went to Las Vegas. We ordered tickets before we went because he only has shows on Tuesdays through Saturdays and we could only make the Tuesday night show. Tickets at the Mirage are $59, $79, $99, and 129$. We wanted the $59 ones but had to settle for the $99 ones. I’m so glad we got tickets because this is the funniest show I have ever watched!

The Mirage is a beautiful casino/hotel. The Terry Fator theatre is small but very elegant and comfortable. The doors open 45 minutes before the show. Before you go in, you can buy drinks, popcorn, candy, etc. just like a movie theatre. We were thrilled with our seats. We were up on a balcony with one other couple and we had our own table and chairs. It was so comfortable and you had the freedom to get up and around to get more drinks or use the restroom although once the show started you didn’t want to miss a moment of it because it was so good.

Terry is funny, talented, and so likeable. He will let you take pictures and videos of his show. He is a very charitable person. He asks for all servicemen to stand up and be applauded during his show. He gives all the profits from his fan store to charity. He has a meet and greet after his show to sign autographs and talk to his fans. He is a fine person and it is so easy to like and respect him.

There is a full band with drums, guitars, saxophone, piano, and trumpet and a DJ Ben Harris that creates lots of energy for the show. Terry introduces several muppet-like puppets who have funny and unique personalities and can imitate Cher, Garth Brooks, Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, the Pussycats Louie Armstrong, and many more. Terry brings them to life as they interact with each other and also with Terry. You almost forget that Terry is controlling the puppets because so much is happening at once. I don’t know how he does it and I can’t figure out how he can sing with his mouth closed! He is so talented! You will laugh and laugh!
One of the best parts is when he chooses a volunteer from the audience and makes him into a human puppet – so funny!

It is top notch entertainment and worth every penny. Terry Fator is a down to earth person who is grateful for his fans and humble enough to show it. Best of all – you leave the show with a warm, content, energized feeling of being completely entertained and appreciated!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Seeing Las Vegas


We wanted to get away somewhere a little warmer and relax and have a good time. We were not disappointed! We only had 3 nights and 2 ½ days to explore Las Vegas and we were on a tight budget. We tried to see a little of every casino on the strip but we didn’t make it to all of them. We also missed the beautiful pool areas because most of them were closed until spring.

Our favorite three casinos were Wild Bills. O’Sheas, and Casino Royale. They all have drink specials, slots, and blackjack and were not far from Bally’s. They were older establishments, less expensive, and more our style than the richer and more luxurious casinos. Wild Bills was across the street from Bally’s and was like an old West Saloon. It has a Victorian Restaurant with lots of Chinese food and a $6.99 steak and egg breakfast starting at midnight which is truly delicious. There are 99 cent bottles of Newcastle and strawberry margaritas and $2.00 drafts. Karaoke begins at 9pm and there are many props and costumes you can use. Karaoke is really fun here!

O’Sheas is a little farther down the strip and is an Irish themed bar. Ask the bartender for the $3.00 hot dog-beer deal. Drafts are $2.00. There is a food court with a Subway and a Burger King, pizza, Mexican food, and chicken wings. There is a beer pong gallery which is really fun to watch. There are lots of young people there.

Casino Royale is across from the Mirage. It has a free outdoor slot machine where you can win free slot play and drink specials. We signed up for a slot card and got a free coupon booklet for lots of free play and food and drink specials. Bottles of Michelob are $1.00 and margaritas are $2.00. Trust me, the strawberry margaritas are delicious! They have a food court with Subway, Dennys, and an Outback Steakhouse. We ate dinner at Outback and it was very, very good although maybe a little more expensive than the Outback at home. We were able to watch the Volcano Show across the street at the Mirage while we ate. It was awesome and we could feel the heat from it!

The second day of our trip was a little colder and windier but we walked up and down the other side of the strip. We walked through and played a few plots in each of the following: Planet Hollywood, MGMGrand, Hooters, Tropicana, Excalibur, New York New York, Monte Carlo, Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace, the Mirage, Treasure Island, and the Venetian. It was a long walk and our middle aged feet and legs were aching when we got back to our hotel. But we saw the Lion Habitat at the MGM, we toured the 3 story M&M’s Store, we joined the Owl club at Hooters and got $100.0 in free slot play, we ate lunch at the food court at The Excalibur, and we watched the choreographed fountain show at the Bellagio which would have been better at night but was still very impressive. The Bellagio is beautiful and luxurious. We saw the conservatory which is so pretty. It was decorated in the Chinese New Year theme. Apparently the theme changes with the seasons. We watched the Pirates battle the Sirens at the entrance of Treasure Island. It was surprisingly good but not for children. It gets very crowded too. We saw gondola rides at the Venetian and I definitely want to ride a gondola next time around. It is so romantic!

The Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace, Mirage and the Venetian are all very beautiful, luxurious, and expensive. Caesar’s is full of very exquisite and ritzy shops.

We were tired the last day of our trip and took the bus down to Circus Circus. The bus is very easy to use and very inexpensive. I wish we had used it the day before. We watched a couple of free circus acts that were very good and entertaining. Circus Circus is full of little kids and it is a fun place. Right next door is Slots of Fun. We played games for a while and ate lunch at the food court. There are a lot of food courts on the strip. We walked across the street and visited the Riviera. We stayed there quite a while playing slots and swilling free beer brought to us by the cocktail waitress. We hiked back to the hotel and got ready for our show.

We had the best time! Las Vegas has everything you could possibly want except for a beach and I’m sure there is a replica somewhere. You can have fun on a budget and even more fun if you have plenty of money to spend! There are all kinds of restaurants to try and shows to see. The shopping is awesome. There are museums. And there are lots of games. You won’t go home disappointed unless you lose lots of money!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Las Vegas is Fun!



I can’t wait to go back to Las Vegas! We had such a good time!

We flew out Sunday morning at 9:15 on Southwest Airlines. It was a little bumpy but tolerable. If you are flying Southwest, you must print out a boarding pass 24 to 1 hour before boarding. The pass tells you which group you are in: A, B, or C and gives you a number in that group. Group A boards first, Then B, and then C. You can also buy an early boarding pass for $10.00 per person, per flight which assigns your group earlier. We paid the extra $10.00 and it was well worth it. We were first to board and choose the first row which was very roomy and close to the restroom and drink service. Southwest serves a complimentary drink and snack on every flight. Our flight stopped in Denver on the way but we didn’t have to leave the plane. It was cold and snowy and our plane had to be de-iced before we left which was a little scary! Some passengers got off and we got some new ones in Denver. We landed in Las Vegas at 12:30PM , got our bags, and found a shuttle to our hotel. It was warm and sunny there!

Beware the time share sales people! They are everywhere and they are relentless! They offer free tickets to shows and free vouchers for gambling if you will just come to their info meetings about timeshares. It starts in the airport and continues into the hotels and casinos and on the street. Just keep walking and say no thank you and make no eye contact. Once they get a hold of you, it is nearly impossible to get away!!!!

We stayed 3 nights at Bally’s in the North Tower. The pool was closed due to cool weather. Our room was very spacious but old and worn. Everything is very expensive at Bally’s and a little worn but it has the perfect central location in the strip. We unpacked and had lunch at the pizza place in Ballys, then walked through the Paris Casino/Hotel which is connected to Ballys. Paris is very elegant and I think I would like to stay there on our next trip. It has a blue lifelike sky and a 540 foot Eiffel Tower. You can buy tickets and ride to the top for a great view of the strip! There are a lot of nice restaurants and shops at Paris.

Then we started walking down the strip! I'll tell you more about that tomorrow!!!