Wedding Bells!

December 28, 2010

I’m still alive! It’s been insanely busy with shows and baking. But somewhere in all of that, I’ve managed to actually start planning our WEDDING! Not just in words, either. In deeds.

We have booked The Flamingo’s Gazebo Chapel for October 1st, 2011. That will be our 7 year anniversary. So far we have a lot of people who say they will be joining us, so I am thrilled!

We also booked an amazing photographer, Ron Miller (http://www.ronmphoto.com/blog/ ). My wedding pictures will be what I’ve always dreamed of!

I think I’ve found my dress too, and it’s an amazingly low (for me) $750.

We are working on a reception location now. We are anticipating around 100 guests, and finding a location that will work (and doesn’t cost $15K) has been difficult.

We think we’ve found one at The Platinum Hotel, just off the strip. It will be a little more traditional than we were hoping, but it will have a definite Vegas flair. The food will be amazing, and the restaurant connects to the pool deck, which overlooks the Strip. We’ll have awesome views, a fun outdoor area, and 4 hours of open bar. That sounds like a Vegas party to me!

The only downside is that their minimum is $9,000. And that is after they lowered it for me! I feel like the value is there, but we are going on a budget DIET in the new year. We’re lucky that my parents are contributing some, but it is not enough for our current plans.

I’m looking forward to celebrating with a smaller group than we would have back home. It gives us a chance to really treat the people closest to us. Those taking the time (and the money) to come celebrate with us. We aren’t saving any money by doing it in Vegas. But we don’t have to scrimp on things like food and drink like we would at home.

We will be having a big picnic-style party back home a few months after the wedding. We’ll show the video and pictures, but it will be very casual, and a chance to catch up with those who couldn’t make it out to Vegas.

So stay tuned for wedding FEVER!

Getting Nervous

June 17, 2010

I have a lot of baking to do in the next week and a half!

Monday is Iron Cupcake, so Sunday afternoon and evening will be spent baking and decorating 12 dozen mini cupcakes!

Tuesday evening I will be baking a few cupcakes to take to my friend when I go to visit her new baby on Wednesday.

Saturday I am baking 10 dozen (full size) cupcakes for the wedding of two friends. This will be started on Thursday evening. I’m nervous about this because, even though the flavors are going to be simple, I have no idea about the logistics of baking 10 dozen cupcakes! I feel like it won’t be that hard, but a couple of weeks ago I baked 5 dozen, and it took me well over 8 hours to do all the baking and decorating.

The decorating on those 5 dozen, however, was a little more complicated. But cute! Check these out:

Fortunately I just have to make these 10 dozen look pretty. Swirly frosting, maybe some sugar pearls, but nothing as intense as marzipan ladybugs!

Then, of course, after the cupcakes are done I have to find the energy to party at the wedding! I hope I can do that, because it is sure to be a fun tonight.

I’m nervous because this is a lot of baking! I was hoping to spend most of the week prepping. Cleaning my kitchen, getting all my supplies purchased and in order and ready to go. Now I’ll have to do that a little quicker than planned. I will post pictures when it’s all done. And maybe of the tornado that sweeps through my kitchen.

In other news, David and I are trying to plan our wedding. BUT we’re so confused by all the options! Right now we’re not even sure WHERE we want to get married- locally, or in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas sounds like FUN, and it would combine a honeymoon into one trip. We’d get married on a Friday night, and then spend the weekend in a nice suite. It wouldn’t be eloping, because we would still be inviting a lot of people to join us. But of course, some people won’t, because it is expensive.

That means the biggest pro of the in-town option is that all our family and friends could be there. We’d have a party back in town if we got married in Vegas, but it wouldn’t be the same. Sure, my parents and a few friends would join us in Vegas, but what about people like my grandparents? Vegas hold no particular appeal to them and the airfare would put a huge burden on them. So they wouldn’t be there. Can I handle that? I’m not sure. What about aunts and uncles that have watched me grow up? Will I just ditch them? What about friends who would LOVE to come, but really can’t afford it with their student loans and their rent payments? Is it fair to ask them to come, knowing that it will set them back, or they won’t be able to?

Just because Vegas is fun?

Baking 10 dozen cupcakes is going to be much easier than planning this wedding.

Is This Thing On?

February 24, 2010

It’s sad that I had just finished writing about Las Vegas on here, and have already been back for a second visit. I miss my blog! I think it’s about to turn more into a baking and cooking blog, because there is TONS going on in that department.

It’s almost impossible to recap the last few months, so I’ll just talk about things as they come up. In the meantime, here’s my favorite latest creation:


Pistachio Petit-Four cake!

I’ll be back soon!

Friday!

June 5, 2009

I have to thank my blog for calming my irrational fear of my weight loss. I gained a bunch of weight back over the holidays, and have been painfully bereft of motivation to get back on the diet and exercise train. About a month ago I finally found it again and have been going strong on South Beach again. I’ve been doing a good job and was going crazy when I saw how slow the weight was dropping off. But looking back to my blog entries from a year ago, I’m only a couple pounds behind where I was then. Last year I lost about 10 pounds in the first month, and now I’m only at about 7. That’s not too bad, and it’s enough to keep me going.

It’s so much easier to eat healthy in the summer (almost summer). Fruits and vegetables are beautifully in season and lighter foods and cooking styles are so much more appetizing.

I would define myself as more of a winter person, but there’s something about the reemergence of life all around me and the sun and warmth that makes me feel alive and optimistic.

This weekend I hope to tackle and finish a HUGE uncluttering project in my house. Our front room, aka one of our three bedrooms, is currently a disaster. You can’t even walk in there. It’s about half our stuff that was shoved in there upon move-in, and half David’s dad’s stuff that he couldn’t take while he was working on his new house. But now there is reason to get it cleaned out, and I am looking forward to it! I say this about every other week, but I really want to get our house to the awesome-level. Cleaned, organized, decluttered. It needs it, and it would make me much happier. Hopefully this will be the big first step that can kick me into some spring (summer?) cleaning.

My baking addiction is still going strong. I’m entering a cupcake competitionon Saturday and just baked about 4 dozen cupcakes last night in preparation. I also signed up to be a member of the Just Baking blog group, so I’ll be sure to talk about when my first post goes up! I successfully made macarons a couple weeks ago, and they were delicious and quite possibly my newest obsession. I’ll post some pictures soon.

TGIF! I will be enjoying the weekend by going to David’s play, Noises Off, twice. You should too! I mean, not twice, but you should go. It’s hilarious.

Vegas Finale

May 27, 2009

Time for my final bout of Vegas reminiscing.

By Thursday morning we were understanding why people say 2 or 3 days in Vegas is all you need. We were exhausted and probably overstimulated. We slept late and eventually found the motivation to get out on the strip and see what we hadn’t seen. We had a long day in front of us. We weren’t planning on sleeping until getting on the plane to leave at 6:30am!

We caught the Deuce bus down to the southern end of the strip. We got off at Excalibur and decided to start our wandering there. But first we needed food. We ate at the Excalibur buffet, which was cheap, but also pretty awful. They did, however, have corn dogs, which made up for the rest of the barely edible food.

The Excalibur decor is so 70s “Knightly” that it’s kind of awesome. Once we were done eating, we didn’t really stick around. But I did get a picture with my favorite spongy cartoon character. Nevermind where his eyes are…
spongebob

We walked on to the Luxor, which was also kind of 70s. Although, when we walked into the giant open pyramid, we were kind of blown away. We wandered around in there for a little while, appreciating the scenery. I love all things Egyptian, even the fake stuff, so I thought it was pretty cool.

We trekked on to Mandalay Bay, which was fabulously luxe. We gambled a bit here, but weren’t very lucky. David wanted to check out the Shark Reef, so we set out to find it. When you go looking for something like that, you realize how huge these places are. It felt like we were walking forever. We walked past the wedding chapel (OOOH!!) and business offices and convention halls and finally got there. We had decided that if it was $15 or less, we’d go explore. I think it was $17.95. But after walking all that way, we decided that was okay!

I’m glad we did. It was pretty cool! There were lots of aquatic animals, like fish and sharks, and even sea turtles! The sharks were awesome, and I really enjoyed the Komodo dragon and the jellyfish. Watching the jellyfish was like having a meditation session. It was a relaxing diversion from the craziness of the strip.
mandalay bay

By this time we were feeling exhausted and decided we should go back to the hotel to rest before our long night. We decided to check out two more places on that side of the strip. First was the MGM Grand, to see the lions. They were not that interesting. The set up is kind of cool, but they just laid there on top of the walkway. We guessed it had to be heated to keep them up there.

We did stop in the M&M store, and were underwhelmed. We skipped the rest of the shops and hotels and tried to avoid the “porn slappers” on our way to the Paris. Those who have been to Vegas probably know what I mean by that term. The (probably illegal immigrant) men and women who stand on the edge of the sidewalk and offer you escort trading cards, for lack of a better term. They are thick cards and they slap one down on the pile in their hand and it makes this incredibly loud slapping noise. I actually found it pretty amusing. They aren’t too bad. If you don’t reach for a card, it’s not like they hound you to take one. The best was a row of about 20 of them right before an intersection. Standing on the corner was a street preacher, talking about how God will save us and to turn away from sin. Um, dude? Wrong town…

The second best thing was this family. Walking down a very crowded sidewalk that was already narrowed by construction barriers. We could NOT get around them for the longest time. It was incredibly irritating, so rather than going into a crazed rage, we made fun of them, right behind their backs,  wondered why someone would take so many small children to Vegas, and imagined potential embarrassing conversations related to all the adult visuals. Please note the escort-card strewn ground and the downward-tilted heads of the little boys.
family
Yes, she is pushing a doublewide stroller. Errrgggghhhhhh.

I’ve never been to Paris, but it is high on my list of places I must go before I die. I imagine it is quite different than this casino, but it was pretty cool! It had a lot of the sky-painted-ceiling going on and occasionally you could catch wisps of French music floating through the air. We did not pay to go up the Eiffel Tower, but looking at it from outside was pretty impressive.
eiffel tower

We played slots here too, and did pretty well. Then we lost it all on the big nickel Wheel of Fortune slot game right by the entrance. We thought “ooh, it’s by the entrance, we should win a lot to entice people to come in.” That seemed to be true for everyone else playing, but we burned through about $40 in just a few minutes. Le sigh.

After that, we caught the bus back to our hotel to give our aching feet a rest. I think David took a nap and I took a long, warm shower. It felt great and left me refreshed enough to get dressed and face our long last night.

We got dressed up and went right to the Bellagio to pick up our tickets for “O.” Our show was at 10, and it was already around 8:00, so we didn’t have a ton of time to wander too far. Fortunately, the Bellagio is so amazingly gorgeous. Just walking in stunned us, especially David, who is a huge fan of Dale Chihuly, the creator of this foyer ceiling:
chihuly

I neeeeeded to see the fountains, but we also needed to eat. Throwing caution to the wind and ignoring our budget, we got in line to eat at the Bellagio Buffet. The line was long, and after waiting for many minutes, we started to get anxious. Would we have time to eat? Would we miss the fountains before our show? We almost left the line. I know we wouldn’t have known what we missed out on, but the idea of not eating that meal is so sad!

Seriously, eat at the Bellagio Buffet. I have never seen so much amazing food in one place. We stuffed ourselves silly. I tried anything and everything that looked good. I ate sushi and pesto mashed potatoes and roasted lamb and sea bass and veal and tiny individual ramekins of mac & cheese and the list goes on. And that doesn’t include dessert. I almost fainted when I looked at the dessert counter. Hundreds of tiny, perfect, delicate pastries, cakes, pies and chocolate creations looked back at me. I couldn’t help but sample a healthy portion of those, too! I was so full that it hurt, but it was so worth it. Let me just say this. We finished eating around 9pm on Thursday night. I didn’t eat again until Saturday afternoon. I didn’t feel the need.

Afterwards, we rolled ourselves out to watch the fountains. This is when it really hit me that we’d be leaving this place. The fountains were magical. I cried. I could have stood there for hours, just watching and thinking about this crazy city, in the middle of the desert. It’s like the modern Brigadoon. Things happen here that are totally surreal, and you won’t really be able to explain to people back home! Or maybe you just don’t want to explain…
bellagio fountains

The view of the strip was gorgeous, especially the Paris.
paris at night

We eventually made our way back inside, full of anticipation for our BIG BUDGET show. So in reality, we got “obstructed view” seats for less than $100 a piece. Do this. We were a couple feet away from seats that cost $50 more than ours, and it really was not obstructed at all. There was a railing that might have gotten in the way, sort of. It didn’t matter in the slightest.

Here’s a random picture I snuck before the show started. This is a weird chandelier thing on the ceiling. I knew it would be used in the show. I was right.
O

WOW. O. What an amazing show. It’s weird and gay and French Canadian, but it was SO AWESOME!!! I couldn’t even speak afterwards. The stage was incredible (it turns into a POOL!!!) and the performers were mind blowing. I haven’t seen any other Cirque shows, but I can’t really imagine anything better than this. I would even see it again in a heartbeat. It was breathtaking. I can’t even fathom the work that went into this. And how do you even come up with that kind of stuff?! Wow.

So it felt like the night was over when we left, but it was only around midnight. We had over 4 hours before we had to be at the airport! I wanted to be “daring” and play some quarter slots at Bellagio. I finally found some and even found this cascading slot that we liked a lot. I think it was called “All That Glitters.” I put $20 in and was blown away by how fast it almost disappeared. But it didn’t and I ended up tripling my money! That was exciting, though it just made me want to play MORE! Thankfully I had level-minded David with me, and he got me out of there.

We walked through New York NY, though we didn’t get to do the roller coaster (next time!). The streets were really cool! We played some slots, continuing with our average luck. I wish we could have gotten back to the Venetian, but we went again to visit the Encore and Wynn. The Encore is just as opulent as the Bellagio, but it still feels slightly less cool, maybe because it’s so new. We played a bunch of slots here, wandering between the two, and looking for luck.

I really wanted to try out Roulette, so we decided to leave and head over to Slots-a-Fun, our last stop before heading to the hotel to pack up. I just wasn’t brave enough to get into a table game! I know dealers are nice and if I was confused about something, they’d help me out, but I just didn’t want to seem like a total novice. So I chickened out and played Star Wars penny slots. David and I got on machines next to each other, and mine was hot! I turned $5 or $10 into $30! I wanted to play a different game, so I hit cash out. Apparently S-a-F hasn’t caught onto the “high tech” ticket approach to cashing out (which I love, by the way) so instead I got $30 worth of nickels pouring out of my machine. It was kind of obnoxious, but it was also kind of cool! There aren’t many places you can get that anymore!

We played a little more and finally decided to head back to our hotel. We packed up and caught a cab to the airport at about 4:30am. We were exhausted, but something about the air in Vegas after midnight had kept us going.

We had a moment of awesome hope in the airport when our flight had been overbooked. We volunteered to change our flight if they could get us a direct flight to Milwaukee. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. The travel home was fairly miserable. I don’t remember much about it at all, except that I puked on the plane. I hate that. And the flight attendant made me feel totally bad and embarrassed about it.

We got home around 3pm Friday, Milwaukee time, and pretty much went right to bed and slept until around 11 on Saturday. We even slept through our midnight show!! We felt bad about that part, but the sleep was awesome.

So Vegas is an amazing city. I don’t feel the need to rush back, but I would love to visit again. It would be great to spend another couple days there and have some time to relax and see things that we missed. I know, however, that I can’t go back without having some serious cash to spend. Sure it’s fun to look at and do the free stuff, but I am drawn to the expensive excitement and glamour! David and I had a great time, and it was a totally awesome way to celebrate his golden birthday.

Say What?

May 8, 2009

Who just paid off her first MAJOR credit card? Oh, that would be me!

This baby was hovering around $2,000 just a year ago. WOW does that feel good.

Of course I had to have proof.
credit card

Clicking that “Statement balance” radio button felt pretty damn good!

Now onto the next one…

Calgon, Take Me Away

May 7, 2009

I wish I could go on vacation right now. I’d leave town tomorrow if I could afford it. But I can’t, so I’ll try to chill out by reliving the second half of my Vegas vacation. Live! Right now!! Right here on my blog!!! Can you tell I’m strung out?

We decided to sleep in for as long as we needed on Wednesday. We planned on staying up all night Thursday, until heading to the airport, so we figured it would be good to get the rest now. However, I didn’t really anticipate sleeping until 11:30! We had passed our magic “pay for a breakfast buffet 3 minutes before it turns into lunch” time. Oh well, we had bigger issues- like what to do that day! (Our 11:30 wakeup was made more amusing to us by the fact that Sandy and Jeff were with friends in NYC- where it was already 2:30 in the afternoon!)

We wanted to see some sort of burlesque show while in Vegas. I wasn’t really interested in an overpriced strip club. I (and David) wanted something a little more interesting and exotic. I was thinking something along the lines of Dita Von Teese, but David had found a crazy burlesque type show called “Bite.” I’d link it for you, but I’m at work and don’t quite trust it to be SFW, considering it’s a “topless revue.” We had it recommended to us, and at first I thought it sounded lame. Erotic vampires? Lord Vampire searching for the perfect female? But as we read more about it, it started to seem kind of cool. There are many ways to get 50% off each ticket, so we decided that this would be our nekkid Vegas show.

“Bite” is at the Stratosphere, so once we were dressed we decided that we’d walk there to get the tickets (you can’t order ahead of time with the coupon) and stop somewhere for food on the way. We ate at IHOP which was kind of lame and almost as expensive as the Circus-Circus breakfast buffet! But we wanted somewhere cheap because that night was our big fancy splurge meal.

Stratosphere is FAR. And it was hot! It’s true that things seem misleadingly close in Vegas. We took in some of the scenery, like empty lots, bilboards and the Sahara. And this:
sunblock
Gosh, maybe we should have just taken the bus.

We got our “Bite” tickets and enjoyed the Strat’s air conditioned casino for a few minutes. Then we hopped on the bus (which I highly recommend. $15 for a three day pass.) and took it to The Mirage.

The Mirage is quite lovely and home to our second-place Cirque show “Love.” There are plenty of Beatles references, like the Revolution bar. This place looks pretty cool and we wanted to come back at night, but we never found the time. Add that to the list of things to do on our next trip!
revolution
That’s David sitting in the “U.”

We had a little luck at the casino here. I think we came out $10 or $20 ahead. We also visited Seigfried and Roy.
lion

It was already getting close to the time we had to head back to our hotel to change for our dinner reservations at 7, so we rushed over to Caesar’s Palace and the Forum Shops. We didn’t have much time, so we didn’t get to see any of the living fountains, or stop in every store that drew me in. I limited it to drooling over the really BIG time stores that I’ve never seen or been to. One of the big ones for me was Agent Provocateur. I spent five breathless minutes in this incredible lingerie store. I guess there are several places in the US where you can buy their stuff now, but for a long time I think Vegas was the only store. Someday, when I am thinner and can fit into their skimpy items, I am definitely splurging on something. Also, I love their crazy marketing and advertising.
agent-provacateur

The only other store in here that was a MUST for us was Vosges. We had the hot chocolate in the SOHO store when we were in NYC many Novembers ago. In honor of the 80-90 degree weather we were experiencing, I wanted to try their ice cream.

OMGDELICIOUS. I had the Naga, one of their original and most famous flavor combinations. It was a sweet Indian curry custard with hints of coconut and other spices. It was rich and creamy and amazing. David had the Red Fire, another classic of their flavors. Dark chocolate, ancho and chipotle chilies, and cinnamon. YUM!! They were both amazing. We also bought some goodies to take home with us, including the Comfort Food tower and a mini chocolate bar set. We left the Forum Shops feeling alive and decadent!

We promptly rushed “home” to change for our evening plans. We hadn’t even been out that long, so we didn’t have to deal so much with the draw of the big comfy bed. We changed and headed out to our first stop of the night, the Sirens of TI. This is the free show at Treasure Island. I guess they revamped it recently, as it used to be more of a pirate battle. Now it’s trying really hard to be soft core porn. The special effects and sinking ship were cool, though the lighting and fireworks of course would’ve been better had we seen it at night.
sirens-of-ti

After that we caught a cab to the Hard Rock Hotel. We had dinner reservations at Nobu!! We got there a little early and had time to wander around and play some slots, where we won $50! Perfect timing, as we were heading into the most expensive restaurant of our trip.

I almost wish I had taken pictures, but I let myself hang out and enjoy the experience. The food was incredible. It was very possibly the best meal I’ve ever had. We started with Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapenos and the Black Cod with Miso. WOW! The black cod was indescribable. Our server told us it was marinated in Miso for three days. It was served warm and it melted in my mouth. We also had an order eggplant with miso, because why not? It was good, but not as good as these “signature dishes.”

After that we moved on to some tempura, and got a couple pieces of asparagus and avocado tempura. The avocado was so interesting! We love avocado, but to taste it with a crispy outside and a hot creamy inside was certainly different.

We couldn’t eat at Nobu without eating sushi! I think our server was wondering how much we were going to eat, but we ordered anyway. We got an assortment of fish, like salmon and scallop, but the big momma of it all was the Toro. If you’ve ever had real Toro, you know what I’m talking about. This is the fattiest cut of the tuna; pink, tender, and melt-in-your-mouth. I think it was $18 per piece. It was worth it. It may have been the most amazing thing I have ever eaten.

We left in euphoria. How could we go home to Milwaukee after this?! I’m so glad we chose Nobu for our fancy dinner. Our bill was just under $200 after tip. Including that toro! I think we would’ve been well over $200 if we had splurged at one of the other restaurants we were considering, like Le Cirque or Aureole.

stratosphere

We floated off to a cab and let it whisk us away to the Stratosphere. Our night was only just beginning! We played penny slots and got a little tipsy on free alcohol before our show time. We had paid a little extra for up-front seats. They were right next to the stage!

So… “Bite.” You should see it, if you’re ever looking for that kind of entertainment in Vegas (with the 50% off coupon). It was cheesy, but it didn’t take itself to seriously. The dancing was acrobatic. It was like a cross between a strip club, a cheerleading competition, and Cirque du Soleil. With a classic rock soundtrack. It was long too! Props to those girls for dancing forever! The topless part wasn’t really that much more exciting, but whatever. The girls were athletic and fun and some of them had major kickass attitude. We had a good time!

After that spectacle we waited for a bus to take us to the “old downtown”/Freemont St. The buses are nice, but we had bad luck with them. Whichever way we WEREN’T going, we’d see several buses pass before having one come on our side. That was lame, and we ended up getting downtown after midnight. I think the giant light display must shut off then, so we didn’t get to see the crazy stuff there. We played some slots at some of the “classic” places like the Golden Nugget and Binions. It was kind of dead though, and we weren’t really winning much, so we went to catch the bus back after a couple hours.

I might have gotten us a big lost and we waited for the bus on a very deserted part of Las Vegas Boulevard. I was totally creeped out, even though we didn’t see anyone or anything scary. We probably only waited 15 minutes for a bus, but it felt much longer. It was a relief to get on that bus and head back to our hotel. We went right to bed, as we had a full day of plans. We were going to use our last day in Vegas to the max.

I’ll recap our final day in my next entry. I want to go back so badly!

Alive!

April 13, 2009

Has it really been almost a month since I left for Las Vegas? It seems like just yesterday I was enjoying myself in the city of sin.

We left work a couple hours early on Monday and headed straight to the airport. I used to not care much about layovers on flights, but it’s starting to NOT be worth it. Fortunately our layover in Houston was quick. It was agonizing to be traveling all day when we were so excited to be in Las Vegas already!

We were staying at my aunt’s timeshare, and she had been there for a few days already with another aunt. They were leaving as we arrived and they met us in the airport with hilarious fanfare.
arrival

We got directions to the hotel, and with that we were off into the Vegas night. We took a cab to our hotel (which was at the far end of the strip, near the Riviera and Circus Circus) and made it there around 11:30. We were tired, but wanted to go out and explore a little bit. We got changed and wandered over to the Riviera and then Slots-A-Fun. We lost about $11, and ate a giant hotdog before deciding to head back for some sleep. As we were standing outside Slots-A-Fun, we saw the greatest thing. A hooker getting arrested. Now, I agreed with the S-A-F cocktail waitress who said “Let the poor girl make her living” but it was quite the welcome to Vegas. That’s nothing I’ve ever seen in Milwaukee!

It’s also weird that prostitution is not legal in Vegas. For a city that essentially sells sex along every street, they won’t let you actually consumate that deal? Legally, anyway.

Anyway, we got up kind of early on Tuesday and went to the Circus Circus buffet at about 10:45. We timed it out, because I like breakfast, and David likes lunch, and they switch to lunch food at 11. The food was pretty good and cost less than$25 for the two of us.
breakfast
MMmmmmmm breakfast.

It was St. Patricks Day, and they had cream puffs with green filling! It was cool. We ate a lot, as we weren’t planning on eating until dinner. That’s the way to do it!

Our hotel was not on the strip, but it was close. Here’s our hotel, as seen from the strip. It’s the middle-height blue building in the middle of the picture. Royal Resort. It was very clean and comfortable and the staff was very nice.
hotel

We started at our end of the strip, and walked east (I think?), checking out hotels as we passed.

We also wandered the malls, as I was very curious to see shops that I don’t have access to. Fashion Show Mall had the most peculiar design, and made me think of the size and design of the malls in Bangkok. HUGE.
fashion-show-mall
Outdoor escalators?! AWESOME!!

We gambled a bit in Treasure Island and I tried to take pictures of everything. But I was too busy having FUN! We played penny slots most of the time and I occasionally remembered to take cheesy tourist pictures like this:
us

We crossed the street and checked out the Venetian, which was just so beautiful! We put in a few bucks and won back some money on this awesome Star Wars slot machine:
star-wars-slot

We were wandering around the main casino floor, and I wanted to find the Canal Shoppes, so we started going up on an escalator. We were chatting, and I looked forward, and saw the shopping area, which took my breath away.
venitian

We probably spent half an hour wandering in this little courtyard, taking pictures and watching the gondolas. We realized that we had to get going if we wanted to get back to our hotel in time to change for our show that night- Penn & Teller live at the Rio!

First I was able to fondle the shoes at Barney’s, though I’m kicking myself for not trying any on. Why do those shoes and sales people intimidate me so? The window display was so cool- a shoe made out of clothes hangers!
barneys

We caught the end of the living fountain show on our way out. Another thing to check out on our next trip! The 30 seconds we saw was pretty cool.
living-statue

We wandered through the Palazzo, Wynn and Encore on our way back to the hotel. I liked these places too! Very swanky. And we won some more money! I think at this point we were only down about $10. The penny slots were nice to us. We’d lose $10, then win $20, then lose $20, then win $30. That made this day even more fun!

I was loving the feeling of being in Vegas. We had saved up money, and sticking cash in slot machines wasn’t stressing me out. We had no responsibilities and were enjoying our time with each other SO MUCH!

As if it could get any better, we were seeing Penn & Teller that night. We changed and walked to Harrah’s to catch a shuttle to the Rio. We got there early (thanks to a super nice bus driver who decreed David as the last person in line allowed on that bus, but let me sit on his lap) and we wandered. We picked up our tickets, lost a few bucks at slots, ate at an overpriced and undertasty Chinese restaurant, and showed up at 7:00 for P&T’s 8:00 show.  (Bonus: While waiting to get into the theater, David got a call from the director of “Noises Off” back in Milwaukee. Someone had to drop out, and he was now IN!! Vegas is lucky!)

There’s a jazz duo (“secret:” Penn is the bass player) and some fun activities before the show. The jazz was great, but I couldn’t wait for the show to start. It was incredible! David loves Penn & Teller and he was not disappointed. I was constantly amused at how they would show us how a trick is done, and then somehow do it differently and blow us away! I was totally amazed. We had great seats and they put on a great show. What a night!

Oh, and there’s no way I’d forget to mention that they hang out in the lobby after their shows. They sign autographs and pose for pictures. They were super nice. David was in heaven.
penn
I had to get in on the action too.
teller

We were exhausted from our long, exciting day, and had planned to go to the “old downtown,” but we couldn’t. We went back to our hotel and SLEPT. In fact, we didn’t wake up until after 11 on Wednesday.

I’ll recap the rest of our trip in the next entry. I feel like this is way too long already :)

Bonus!

March 13, 2009

I got a paycheck and a bonus today. I had enough to pay one credit card off completely, and still have the other half of our Vegas money left over. Of course, then I’d pretty much have no money for when we got back and need to, you know, eat.

So I bumped it down a little bit to have a buffer for when we get back. But look at how close I am to paying off the first (and the largest) of my credit cards:

debt1

I’ll have a balance of $216! BEFORE going to Vegas! Wow, does that feel good! Who knows, maybe next month I’ll be able to click that button for “Pay Current Balance.”

Except now I’m totally thinking, well, maybe I could buy a pair of awesome shoes in Vegas…

Nerves and Debt

March 12, 2009

On Tuesday I auditioned for “Noises Off” at Sunset Playhouse. I was so nervous! That is my favorite play and it has been so long since I’ve auditioned for anything. There were about 20-ish people there, but I heard that there were around 50 the night before. Wow!

I got a callback, which is an accomplishment in itself, as only about 1/3 of the people got called back. David and I both went to callbacks last night, and it was the strangest experience I’ve had at an audition.

First of all, the talent that was in one room was amazing! There’s no reason that this show won’t be awesome. I was put into a group of four to read a scene. Two women, two men. We went into the auditorium and read, and the director had us switch parts and read the piece again. I felt pretty good about my reading for Poppy, the frazzled stage manager.

We went back out to the lobby and waited. A couple people were told they could leave. This, of course, does not mean these people aren’t cast, but as actors, we never want to be the first to leave a callback audition.

I sat around for a long time, while other groups read. Finally the remaining people (still a large number) was split into two groups to read a full-cast scene. Some people in these groups would swap in and out of roles, to give readings for different characters.

There were four women leftover, not in these groups. I was one of them. The stage manager for this show walked around and let three of them go. Not me.

She’s a friend of mine, so I gave her a look like, WTF??? At this point, I feel like I’m going to pee on myself. Why am I the only one left sitting here? Is that good? Is that bad? I asked her if the director was going to walk out of the theater and see me sitting there, and say “Oh yeah… you’re still here? You can go home.” Of all the things at this audition, I did not want to be forgotten about!!!

She said she couldn’t tell me yet if I could go home or not. That she wasn’t sure. Okay…. so I sit there. One of the big groups goes in to read and the other stage manager comes out and says that I can leave.

OKAY NOW REALLY WTF.

I started laughing because I was just so confused. I talked with one of my friends, trying to figure out what this could mean. I went in to read ONCE, then waited for about an hour, then was told I was done.

I thought maybe they waited because, of course, David and I drove together, and he wasn’t done reading yet. Except he still wasn’t done reading when they told me to leave.

So NOW I get to sit awkwardly in the lobby, knowing I’m done, but unable to leave until David is done.

After a short while, the director comes out to get another group, a group of two men, and sees me sitting there, and asks, since I’m still there, if I can come in and read two random lines in the middle of these dudes’ scene. One line is a man’s line, one is a woman’s line. My job was just to stand on stage and say these lines, so these guys could get through their scene smoothly.

I know I was stuck there, and not doing anything, but part of me thinks, why would he pull me up there if I was out of consideration for any part?  The director is also an actor, and I know he probably doesn’t take any joy in causing any of us additional stress.

I didn’t read for the part I really wanted, but I also don’t have the ideal body type for that part. I would love to be Poppy, and I think I would do well and make that role funny to its fullest. But I am just SO CONFUSED! Normally I can leave an audition and say “eh, I don’t think I got it,” or “Go me! I did awesome!” But everything going on in this audition has just left me at a loss.

There’s no point in overanalyzing, of course, but I have checked my phone and e-mail so many times today. Even though we might not get an answer until Sunday.

I won’t even be heartbroken if I don’t get it. I’ll be sad for about 10 seconds, but not being in rehearsals and shows for two months opens me up to more activities, including furthering my cake decorating education!

But on the other hand… this is my favorite play! See my craziness?

And now, a random debt update. I was doing good with my credit cards, and then put Vegas tickets and dental bills on there, and it looked like I had done nothing. But then I cashed out a CD, and my “BIG” credit card (the first one I’m paying off), went down to just under $1,000! I haven’t seen it that low in a LONG LONG time.

It might go up a little bit in Vegas, but we have a big chunk of cash and we should be able to put some of that on my card when we get back to make up for any expenses. PLUS I get my bonus paid out tomorrow!

I’ve been watching my little cash flow meter, on mint.com, and that red line is the lowest I’ve seen it. I will be so ecstatic the day my net worth is in the green!!
debt


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