I survived Vegas and I had a great time! Who knew?! I might even hate it less than I used to, which is amazing because you know how I feel about Sin City and gambling and nightlife that doesn’t quit…it just makes my head hurt. But not anymore!
Payam’s Birthday Bash was everything we hoped it would be and more. It was really, really fun. Mostly because the company we were with would be fun anywhere (and I mean anywhere) and because The Cosmopolitan is an amazing hotel that I could probably live in and never leave.
The view! Our travel agent hooked us up big time. If anybody is thinking of going to Las Vegas email me for her info. We had a balcony on the 26th floor over-looking the Bellagio fountains and I could sit out there for hours watching the light change and the fountains play. It was so pretty and peaceful to be in the middle of all the hubbub but to be above it, just watching all the twinkling lights. I really enjoyed it.
I also really enjoyed The Neon Museum but I have to admit I may have gotten my hopes up a little too high. It fell short of my expectations. Mostly, because we had tickets for the middle of the day and the sun was beating down so hard on the white gravel that my eyes hurt. It was SO BRIGHT!! I never wear sunglasses and I really wished I would have. While I was bugging out about all the cool colors and fonts (stuff graphic designer dreams are made of!), I was also squinting and holding my hands over my eyes because I felt like a headache might come on.
Secondly, the actual lot that houses their collection of neon signs is small. Really small. There are lots of signs all stacked on top of each other so there is a lot to look at but I thought we’d wander around an acre, maybe a warehouse or two like the parade float museum in New Orleans. It was barely the size of a small block. They also make you take a guided tour which means you’re stuck in a group trying to lean this way and that to take a photo so that the lady’s umbrella in front of you isn’t blocking your frame.
We got a lot of umbrella shots. It’s actually really nice that they provided umbrellas though because it was hot in the sun!
I did like listening to the guided tour. Who doesn’t love a good old Vegas gangster story? But I also like to be able to wander independently so that was kind of a drag that we were tethered to our guide who rambled on and on. I would definitely recommend taking this tour during the morning hours or even better, sweet time (sunset) when everything would be glowing with golden light. The one good thing about our middle of the day tour was that the sky was super blue. So bright! So blue!
So graphic! It was a lot to take in. We were glad to be done with the brightness and heading back to our oasis of a hotel afterwards.
Which, let me tell you, is an oasis! I loved the Chandelier bar in the middle of the hotel. Sadly, I didn’t take any photos of the long sweeping pink beads that hang and drape from the ceiling and down two floors to create this massive illusion of a giant chandelier but you can see them on their website. It was so pretty! I loved the light blue satin couches that you could lounge on behind the bar and nobody really cared if you were drinking or just hanging out. We hung out there quite a bit.
We also tried their Buzz Button drink that is on their secret menu. Yes, remember this and order it if you are ever there because it was A TRIP! It’s this little flower bud (acmella oleracea, common name: toothache plant) that when you chew it, it creates this really strong tingling, cooling sensation in your mouth that is enhanced by the citrus in your drink. I was a little scared to try it at first, thinking they were serving me acid or something off their “secret” menu but it’s not hallucinogenic or anything like that and it only lasts for a minute or so. It’s a fun surprise for your mouth! You might even want to try it and kiss someone like certain members of our group who decided to do that while the rest of us wolf-whistled and lost our minds laughing. It was a crazy bunch.
We threw a little party in our hotel room suite the first night (enjoying the view on the balcony mightily) and then the second night we went off the strip to The Artisan for a private dinner. I have so many mixed feelings about The Artisan. It was a good find but lacked in some areas.
The Artisan is a really really funky, dark, gothic, vampiric boutique hotel that looks like it really goes off after hours. Unfortunately, our dinner party was before those going off hours. In the normal light of day, without the writhing, dancing bodies and bumping beats from the deejay, it was a little worse for wear.
The bar itself was awesome. They have art and mirrors on the ceiling and the whole room looks like something funky is going to happen, maybe a haunting, maybe a party? Who knows! Our private dining room on the other hand was sad. I was so disappointed. It was pathetic.
It was a small back room with a fake marble plastic table in the middle. When I first walked in, the fluorescent chandelier lights were on full blast and it looked rinky-dink and cheap. Plastic glasses, no table cloth, our names printed on cards with Times Roman. I was so sad. This is what you get when you organize events remotely. I immediately dimmed the lights and that made it about a thousand times better.
The food was sad too. Frozen mushy vegetables out of a bag?! Thankfully, the rib eye was tasty and so were the mashed potatoes (and I hear the lamb and shrimp were good too) and more importantly our guests were off-the-hook fun so nobody but me really seemed to care about the food. Too bad I’m a micro-managing party planner and these things really bum me out.
We made the best of it. We laughed the night away with all the usual shenanigans. Payam has a raucous group of friends who always make my sides hurt from laughing so hard. My smile muscles ached worse than usual that night and I got over the lousy food eventually. We sang happy birthday, ate cake, toasted the birthday boy and all and all had a pretty great time.
Here are some of us lounging in the bar. You get the idea. Very funky. I don’t know if I’d recommend staying here overnight but if you are a vampire you might like getting your groove on. There was this one couch that was so old and dilapidated you immediately sunk to your ankles as soon as you sat down on it. And then you were stuck wriggling like a bug trying to get your butt up out of it. We had a lot of fun pranking our unknowing guests as they arrived one by one with that one.
Then back to our hotel for a little gambling (for Payam), a little drinking (for Payam) and a little sleep (for me!) so we could get our butts back home in the morning! Nothing like a whirlwind Vegas trip to make you appreciate your regular boring old life. Which by the way included a ton of traffic on the drive home. Next time we HAVE to leave earlier because that drive home was the pits. Hours and hours of standstill traffic.
Good thing I can pretty much block that drive home out with all these other good memories!
It’s that time again. Time to dump some instagrams and catch up a little so I can show off my new April banner. I don’t pay $79 bucks a month to keep this site up for nothing. I know, it’s ridiculous isn’t it? The price I pay to maintain all these memories because I’m too lazy to figure out a better way. Someday I think it will pay off. Someday…
Let’s catch up!
- The kids are rollerblading every day. It’s amazing. Their legs hurt at night because they use their muscles so much. Rollerblades were the smartest Christmas gift we ever gave them. If you have kids with Minecraft addictions, I cannot recommend rollerblades enough. It’s made them kids again with real things to talk about instead of mods and skins and jokes from people who talk in Australlian accents on their Youtube channels.
- It’s Spring! The nature trail where I walk the dogs is busting at the seams with wild flowers and it’s divine. I walk along cataloging how much each stem would cost in my old flower stand days. I could make a fortune!
- Vegetables. I signed up to get another subscription-based box of vegetables delivered to the house and I LOVE it. It’s so fresh and best of the season. I think I might never go shopping again. I admit though, I might have a delivery dependence because it’s so cool to get boxes of surprises delivered to your door. (So far I’ve got stitch fix and blue apron…) But have you calculated how much you spend on stupid seasonal Target end-cap displays? Here’s my theory: if you don’t see them, you don’t know you need them and that is a savings right there.
- I have an iPad pro! I’m kinda upset that it doesn’t work like a wacom tablet but it is a pretty good tool and I use it for filming craft videos which is kind of awesome. More on that later.
- Kids in their new spring outfits! We went to the ballet a while back and it was a nightmare trying to find the kids something to wear that was “fancy”. They pulled out sundresses five sizes too small and matched them with dirty converse and different colored footie socks. I hung my head in shame. This is what happens when you don’t go to church every Sunday anymore. So I marched them to Target (and yes, I fell for some seasonal end-cap crap) and bought everyone new Spring outfits. Now they have at least two fancy dresses to wear for special occasions. No more excuses and no more growing!
- Blue pancakes! Because why not? Now that everyone has Moana fever it seemed appropriate.
- Daffodils from Trader Joes! That seems like old news now and I guess it is but is there anything more announcing of Spring than when the daffodils come in?! I wish I could grow them in our yard. I have before but they always peter out after a year.
- Joon in her glasses looking cute. Got nothing else there.
- It’s a lone duck. I’m so bored of the lake. I used to walk there everyday with the dogs but it’s just the same old lake over and over. Plus, I run into so many other dog owners and it’s always mayhem and I’m just tired of it. So now we go to the nature trail and risk being circled by crazy guys on bikes (yes, that happened), howling coyotes (happened 2x now) and old men who have it out for me. Not really but there was a brief time when I though this one old man was trying to chase me out of the park.
- Bug in her pajamas on the couch with Cody. Who lets their big ol’ stinky oaf of a dog on the couch?! It’s a bad habit we’ve picked up, sadly. And there ain’t any going back now. We’re holding out on the bed though.
- Snoring. Both Payam and I snore. It sucks. I never used to but I guess old age has finally caught up to me. Thankfully, I do not have sleep apnea though. I seem to have escaped it! Yay!
- Straw hair: Bug’s great hair-coloring experiment has run it’s course. The colors have washed out and I’m not keen on re-inventing them. I think we are just going to trim the dry straw off and let it grow back to it’s normal color. End of story. Hopefully she got it out of her system. And even though it often looks completely unnatural and like something went really wrong with her hair, it has been kind of rocker-fairy fun.
- It’s an octopus with a brush! This means nothing. I was just staring at the illustration on Bug’s detangler spray and I was impressed. Now that I illustrate everyday and I know how long things take, I’m kind of in awe that we buy so many products with hours and hours of artwork put into them and often we don’t even notice. It’s kind of sad that illustrators are so often overlooked. I was at my publisher’s house and she was showing me this easy reader book that had amazing illustrations but the story was nonexistent. It didn’t even make sense or have an ending. It just left you hanging there, forcing you to make up the rest of the story in your head. I felt bad that some artist worked so hard and their work ended up so haphazard and disrespected. It’s kind like walking in front of a live band playing and not acknowledging that they are creating something really cool. It’s worse even. It’s like pretending the live band was wall paper that you can push your rusty old garage refrigerator up against and pop open for a can of beer with your gut hanging out while you sit facing the opposite direction. Wow. I feel strongly about this. Who knew?!
- There was candy at the ballet! We went and saw Whipped Cream by the American Ballet Theatre and it was so good! I don’t even know where to start. The costumes and interpretations of the Mark Ryden’s art was amazing. I will be inspired by this ballet for years! If you have a chance to see it you must!
- It’s Snot Fair! I swear this is the book that probably has the most chance of getting me famous and I am forever going to be embarrassed of. Yes, I illustrated snot and farts and toilets and lion puke. You’ll have to buy it to believe it.
- Absolutely no progress on the Buddha painting. Sad face.
- The girls at the ballet in what they cobbled together as a “fancy outfit”
- Whiskey. I love him when he needs a haircut. His face is so much cuter when you can’t see his beady little eyes that are too close together. I’d be happy to leave him with his puppy muppet hair forever if he didn’t stink and get mattes under his ears. So off to the groomer he goes! I did try to take a shower with him and groom him myself once. It was only mildly successful and a TON of work.
- Payam made me a pen holder stand for my apple pen! I have an apple, I have a pen… (don’t click on that link, you’ll hate me forever.)
- Kids and swimming, what is the fascination? Why do they think that if they break a mild sweat it means you must go swimming that very minute? Why do they think spring weather is swimming weather? Why do they think we should go swimming when it’s time to cook dinner and then if you give in they want to know why dinner isn’t ready because they are STARVING? Why?! I’d laid down the law and said that I only go swimming if it’s after 2pm and over 80. They don’t like my rule very much right now but they’ll get payback come summer.
- Aww Whiskey. Such a love.
- Cook’s Corner! Payam and I attended an 80-something year-old’s birthday at this old biker bar and let me tell you, it was a hoot. Talk about getting out of your rut. They had the best music and we were right in the front row dancing until we got sweaty. It was a lot of fun. The $4.99 spaghetti dinner wasn’t too bad either.
- More blue pancakes. What can I say? They might be bad for you but they sure are photogenic.
- Daffodils in their full glory and my grandmother’s old blue china pitcher. I love that pitcher and I especially love it with daffodils in it. If it ever breaks I will cry.
- One day I woke up and realized I had gained thirty pounds without even realizing it. Yeah, I skipped a whole block of numbers on the on the scale without ever even seeing them go by. Everyone says to throw out your scale but I did and look what happened! Of course there are other factors like a huge lifestyle change that included happiness and my age…but still. So I’m back on my scale and using the My Fitness Pal ap. I have a love hate relationship with tracking calories. It works but I have to not be too strict or else I catch myself rebelling which is even worse news. But I do have to say I am getting back to my old self and it feels really good. If you’re on this journey too you should friend me on the ap so you can watch me lose the same six pounds over and over again. It’s fun. All that because of a picture of a salad. Salads are like crack when you cut calories. You can eat so much lettuce and it counts for almost nothing! Salad dressing on the other hand is the devil himself.
- Hah! Here I am going on about a healthy diet and then I show you a picture of our first picnic of the year with McDonald’s of all things . I am not sponsored by McDonalds in any way but they should sponsor me because I do love them. I hate our local drive-through with the passion of a thousand suns but I am particularly happy with their artisan chicken sandwiches. So much flavor for only a smattering of calories. Sadly, french fries and I are not seeing each other any more though.
- Spring outfits being springy!
- Hej da! That means see you later guys in Swedish. But to us it means meatballs and ice cream!
- Swimming in April is for the birds.
- Spring in the nature trail. It’s bananas.
- So have you checked out my craft movies? I’m having a lot of fun with them. The best one is still yet to come. I don’t love the music in the dragon eggs one but it was a fun craft to make. You should definitely try it if you are up to a few glue gun burns. So worth the pain. These girls in the trees are my modeling crew. They are a fun bunch. I don’t know what I’m going to do when they outgrow me.
- Bangs! I’ve stopped parting my hair on the side and it’s been one of my smarter decisions. I was so stuck in my 90’s high school hairstyle. So stuck.
- Bug wears my clothes sometimes for pajamas. It’s adorable but also scary!
- What are they doing here? Puking up post-it notes? We were rollerblading to the local school to let the dogs run in the field and these post-it notes were stuck on a random trailer on our way. This is the pose they made. I don’t complain I just click away with my camera phone because it’s not every day they like their picture taken.
- Aww…they look so cute in their Spring outfits. This was taken on Norooz, the Persian New Year. It really goes off around here because we have a high population of middle-easterners and they like to party and by party I mean have a gigantic picnic in the park that blocks traffic for three miles in all directions. Crazy time! But also fun.
- This block is kinda moody but it’s really just a trick of the light and not symbolic of anything. Bug and I have Wednesdays together every week when she is with her dad and it is the best thing ever. I took this photo on our dog walk. The kids don’t always come with me on dog walks but when they do they always rollerblade.
- For a short time I was waking up at the crack of dawn and running with my new workout friend. While it was great for seeing sunrises it did not last long because my calves kept cramping up. It was like I was running on stumps of bloody murderous pain. It was terrible. I’ve since decided that my on-going vitamin D deficiency (that I’ve known about since my last doctor visit a year ago) is the culprit. My arms and legs were hurting all the time. So I upped my vitamins and gave up running. Yoga and dog-walking is filling the gap and I’m no longer in pain. Vitamins and dogs for the win! Your 40’s are all about moderation. That’s what I’ve learned.
- Repeat duck. Oops.
- Hey there! It’s Gigantic Brenda and Payam! Whenever I post a picture like this I always get a lot of likes which translate to dopamine hits and so I’m now addicted. Everyone loves a love story and ours is a pretty good one.
- All dressed up for the ballet again. We aren’t ballet fanatics usually. Just two ballets in the span of a month. We went to see Shen Yun and sadly, I slept through the second half. Yes, I feel bad. Morning people are so rude when they stay up past their bedtime.
- Dragon Eggs! They are very cool. Not so great at hiding treasure inside of but very fun to hunt for and do kids really need more candy anyway? I say no.
- Oh hey! Did you know I have a new book out? Yeah, it came out last month and it has NO REVIEWS! If you bought it you should go find the link and review it because I really need reviews. And then you should tell me so I can send you some chocolate or something.
- iPad drawing of Little Hoo. I got nothing else.
- Me and kids. I do love these knuckleheads. Things are going so much better between them. They say they aren’t friends but I think otherwise. They have a bond that will go beyond me and Payam I think.
- Speaking of that mother daughter day, Bug and I had the best shopping day this week. I had some extra funds that I don’t usually have so we made sure that we spent it twice-over in true mis-managing money fashion. We had breakfast and lunch out. We bought some new outfits…and had macarons at our favorite place. It was great.
- Joon at the beach getting covered in sand, her favorite pastime. The kids are on Spring Break this week but they are at their other parent’s who work full time, which means I got to steal them back here and there for a few days to help out. It’s been nice. I always feel bad for the kids when they get stuck bored during their vacation days because grown-ups have to work. Of course that means I didn’t get much work done either but that’s the beauty of freelancing. I’ll make it up somewhere else.
- Bug looking kawaii next to a giant ice cream cone.
- It’s a bunny! It’s a blob! It’s a latte made for me by Joon! She is the best barista in the house these days even though she doesn’t touch a drop of coffee. Bug on the other hand sneaks sips. I think she is going to be a coffee-aholic like me someday which of course makes me super happy.
- Oh yes, Whisky on the dog house roof. Those of you who follow along on my instagram feed already know all these stories including the one about Whiskey and his many issues with Cody vacuum-cleaning up his food. Whiskey would like to recline and eat kibble by kibble daintily all afternoon at a very leisurely pace. Cody would like to EAT ALL THE THINGS!!! as fast as he possibly can and have some more, please. You can see why this might become an issue between the two dogs. Whiskey is getting bent out of shape and sulks. I think someday we might have to put him on prozac before he starts chewing at himself and going crazy, the poor dog. I had the bright idea of putting Whiskey’s food up high where I thought only he could get it because he’s a little more agile than big ol’ Cody. That did not work. Now we have ninety-pound Cody jumping up on top of the doghouse that was not built to hold ninety-pounds. All the puppy manuals say not to feed your dogs separately because this causes territorial issues but I think the puppy manuals did not meet Cody and Whiskey. We have not solved this problem yet. Stay tuned.
- That’s it! I’m sorry this was a pretty boring post.