Monday, November 28, 2011

Awesome Grand Canyon

During Thanksgiving week we went on a one-week escape to Las Vegas.   We went on a one day tour of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  The long drive was worth it!  What an awesome sight.  Words nor pictures can describe it!  The pictures are good memories but the colors and depth must be seen.  We used “Grand Canyon Tours” but there are many other tour companies with other choices including overnight trips with hiking down to the bottom of the canyon.  We're glad we took the time to go!  It gave us a break from the strip and was perfect for us. 

Escape to Las Vegas

See my glitter shirt?  Watching Donnie and Marie

 We went to Las Vegas for 4 days 9 years ago with a tour of Hoover Dam and we have always wanted to go back.  Thanks to our children who gave us gift money to go for our 40th wedding anniversary, we started to make plans.  We knew that we wanted to see some shows, the Grand Canyon and do some slots. 
We thought that Thanksgiving Week would be a good week to go to with hotel prices low and not too crowded.  The kids were all with the in-laws and didn’t need us.  Well, we got good prices but it was so crowded!  We should have gone the week before or after.  My only other complaint was the smoke in the casinos.  Otherwise we had a great time! Read my other post about the wonderful side trip to the Grand Canyon

First we looked at hotels. We remembered the Bellagio and wanted to stay there but the price was 3 times as much as the Mirage, our second choice. I spent a lot of time looking at prices and I found that when we joined M- Life (free), we got a discount on the room.  That was the best deal!  They gave us a room at the end of the hall but it was quiet.  I didn’t like the long walk but everything is a long walk in Las Vegas!  When we got to the hotel we got the M-Life card that we plugged it in to the slots and received “credits”.  It was fun to see how we went up to 28 credits.  (It takes thousands to go to the next level up.) When I left the card in one of the machines by mistake, they gave me another one and a lanyard to attach to it.  That is why there is a whole punched on the corner! 
See the buffalo on the corner?
We were tempted by the tables and watched but decided that we didn’t want to loose money.  If the slots were any indication, we were not on a lucky streak!  We found the games confusing.  I asked if anyone gave lessons, but no. We’d sit at the slots when walking the strip to rest our feet.  We did a little of the poker lots and but didn’t like it – because we lost too quickly.  At the Mirage we found a machine that had a buffalo that made a noise when you won, and that gave bonus spins.  That became our favorite.  We’d start with $5.  We each played until we lost the spin then the other person played. Once we got to $36 and stopped at $20 and cashed it.  Another time we got to $23 and cashed it at $10.  Mostly we would only win back to the $5 or up to $9 and then back down until we used it all up.  Sharing the spins made it fun!

The Mirage has a “Secret Garden” with dolphins and lions.  The trainers were entertaining and we got so close to the dolphins!  We recommend it.
We walked to most of the hotels on the strip to see the lobby and what attractions some of them had.  They were so pretty!   
Treasure Island Hotel

Venetian - gondola outside ride - new ice rink show

My Ceasar - at Ceasar's Palace

MGM Grand -Lion Habitat - feeding them by hand!

Excalibur Hotel

Our favorite hotel display was the Bellagio.  In the Paris we rode to the top of the Eiffel Tower (tickets 2 for one).  The Venetian Gondola Ride with a singing gondolier was great! The Reef at the Mandalay Bay had very active octopus and jellyfish.  I chickened out on riding the roller coaster at the New York.  People who got off said it was good but I just didn’t want to get “sick.”  I guess my days for roller coasters are over…   
We found the shuttle to the Rio, and discovered that some of the hotels have walkways or shops that connect them.  It’s much better than walking on the street.  We took a taxi one time.  The busses were cheap burt crowded and the monorail was good but cost $5 each way.  We recommend good walking shoes.  I was dressed up except for the shoes! (I mean nice pants and tops – no dresses!)  We didn’t go to the night clubs where maybe the people were dressed up?!

For shows we enjoyed Donnie and Marie, David Copperfield, and the Circ de Soleil of the Beatles.  I picked up several souvenir glasses that people left behind.  (It reminded me of collecting the team cups at the football games!)

 We loved the buffet.  It is really the cheapest way to eat.  We usually had breakfast and another meal and were not hungry, and I only gained 2 pounds.  Some the dinner prices ($10 more) start at 3 others at 4 pm.  We started with the buffet at the Mirage until we discovered the ones in other hotels were also good and had atmosphere.  Our favorite was the Pairs.  I recommend the crème Brulee there.  I ate 2 of them! There as in some of the hotels you can buy a pass for the buffets but we didn’t know about it right away.  Check it out when you go.
The New York Hotel

Display in the Bellagio

Other things:  Get the little books for coupons at the hotels and monorail– not the stuff the people give out on the street.
We did not plan transportation to the hotel in advance because we read that there were shuttle busses and there were several to choose from.
We booked shows in advance but none were sold out so only buy in advance if they give you an upgrade online.
We did not take our computer but the hotel printed our plane tickets free and since neither of us have a smart phone, we did without email for a week!  There are booths that you can pay to access the internet.
Write me your questions and comments.  We would like to go back.  There is so much to see and do!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Friends in Retirement

We really haven't made any new friends since we moved here.  We love to spending time with our kids and we are busy with our personal projects.  I love talking to my mom and sisters on the phone but we live too far away.  I am friends with the teachers with whom I taught school but we don't have much  time to get together.  We want to make new friends but haven't taken time to become involved in activities where we can meet new people.  We love that whenever we go to St. Simons we get together with our friends there.  In September, we went to Chatanooga to see some friends who retired and moved there.  It was great and I remember my exhilaration when I was sharing with her about some little thing, and her reaction, and the fun we had.  It was a feeling that I hadn't had in a long time and I haven't stopped thinking about it.  What made me feel that way?  I love my retired life, but am I missing something? 

We like our house and our neighborhood.  All the neighbors have been very friendly and we greet each other when we are outside.  We have some special neighbors across the street.  We have been wanting to have them come over for dinner and they finally came.  Since we bought the house and moved from St. Simons, these neighbors have been great to us!  They are like family.  They get our mail and newspaper when we're not here and they are interested in what we do.  They are about 10 years older than we are and their health is not the best but they are so excited about life and whenever we talk to them they always lift us up!  On our first Halloween here, we took Lauren and Andrew over to Trick or Treat and they were so excited!  They love kids but they have one unmarried son and no grandchildren.  Because of this, I have been taking the grandkids over to their house.  They love Caroline but she is scared of them.  Each time Caroline does better with them.  Last time Willette was so happy because Caroline held her hand when we were walking to see the neighbor's dog.  When we were talking during dinner, I realized how precious our relationship is.  We talked and shared.  They ate our fish and grits and Cuban black beans with relish and praised us for our projects around the house and things that we do.  They are like our cheerleaders.  She even called me that next day to thank us for having them.   Thank you, Chuck and Willette for all you are for us.  We love you! 
Our house last Christmas - first snow.

Andrew and Don harvesting potatoes in our garden.  The fence keeps out the deer

 The toilet room in the guest bathroom.  I used our old records to decorate it.  Lime green paint on the walls.
The dining room table that Don made from Heart Pine.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Week of sewing and crafting - Getting ready for the Holidays!

This week I have been relaxing. crafting, and preparing for our upcoming trip.  I haven't even seen the grandkids all week.  I have been watching lots of my recorded TV shows.  One of the shows that I like to watch is Enjoying Everyday Life with Joyce Meyer.  I have been enjoying my everyday life! 

  I have read some blogs where people get too busy and regimented after retirement.  The only thing on my weekly schedule right now is Yoga on Mondays.  I have put off joining the Bridge group.  (I may have to join the beginners, and don't want to.)  Well, anyways, I'm not in a hurry to get busy.  I'm already filled!!

When I knew that I would have a few days straight for projects, I decided on doing one of the things love - sewing and crafting.  One of the things that keeps me from doing more crafts is having to put everything away before I'm done.  I knew that guest room/ craft room would be open this week so I can leave everything out until I get tired of it.  Now that I'm retired I can work on my crafts anytime.  I have so many things on Pinterest that I want to make!  I prefer sewing things that are simple and that I can complete in one day.  So, before I start anything, I make sure that I find any shortcuts and ways to make the project easier, that way I can make the best use of my time.  

These are some pictures of things that I made this week (with the inspiration of Pinterest.) 
First I made the window treatment with some Christmas fabric and ornaments from Hobby Lobby on sale.  It was fun!

This is the window where we eat.  It took me about an hour to hang the ornaments!

I sewed the fabric and pinned the ornaments  to the fabric using random ribbon I already had.  Original pin:
I ironed some doilies and sewed them to my pillows that I had made this Summer.  My daughter said they were too plain.  They are so much better!
My niece Faith is making lots of crafts.  She had a tutorial on making these fabric flowers.  I tried it.  The first one is on the left.  The last one is on the right.   Read her blog the life of Faith.  the link is on the sidebar.  She is selling her beautiful crafts on ETSY:

Fabric flowers on the pillows.  What do you think?

 Ever since I saw this Christmas tree skirt on Pinterest (see bottom of post), I have been wanting to make it.  I have wanted a new tree skirt for the last 3 Christmases but haven't found one I liked for the right amount of money.  Actually, I didn't like the last one I bought.  My other 2 tree skirts were small and I made them around 30 years ago (before I started to work) when I was a stay at home Mom.  They are still up in the attic in one of the Christmas boxes.  
  First I read the tutorial and see what I needed.  I have been frequenting the Goodwill store on Senior Day especially looking for fabric and crafts and baby items.  A few weeks ago I bought some cream colored fabric and a roll of yards and yards of this Christmas fabric.  I ripped a 3 inch strip to see what it would look like.  I made the ruffles wider than the tutorial but the circle 4 1/2 feet like it says. 
Round and round until the center.  I'm glad that I bought the long sticks of glue for the glue gun.
When I got to the middle, I did the center by folding it to the back.  I did not make ties because I'll just bring it together in the back.

 The color looks blue but it's green and silvery.
What do you think?  I can't wait to put it on the tree!
I'll post a picture when I get it under the tree!!  Do you think it will look as pretty as the one below?
This is the original pin with the picture.  and the link for the blog with the tutorial.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pictures of fun projects with the kids

These are the Halloween projects that I completed with the kids with the inspiration of Pinterest and other pictures...

We're making the wreath at my house.  Lauren didn't want to help at first but then she made some of the eyes.  When I bought the wreath at the Goodwill, it was white.  I spray painted it black.  I had the feather thing but too short.  I bought the eyes at the Dollar Store.  Does the yellow yarn complete it?
The finished Wreath hanging up in their house

Andrew drew and colored this at my house.  We finished it and is hanging at their house. I used yarn that I had to hang the creatures and wrapped a wire hanger (made into a circle) with the same yarn.
We made the mummies with the hot dogs for dinner one night at their house.
I did not make this - but this is Lauren with her new button dress (the buttons crafts on Pinterest)...  Look at the boots!
I can't leave out my sweet grandson Durham.  His mama, Angie, has been doing the picture in the basket each month as shown on Pinterest.  He is now 3 months!  The shirt from Etsy.

Freedom from My Diet Coke Addiction

Having Andrew, Lauren and Caroline sharing the back seat of our car.  This is what freedom is!
For about the last 2 years I have noticed that if I don’t have my one daily Diet Coke by 10 am, I start to get a migraine headache.  I sometimes have coffee but don’t like American coffee so much, mostly Cuban coffee.  So, I just have to have a daily Coke.  I have been enjoying one Coke a day for at least 10 years.  Well, one of the things that I wanted to do when I retired was to go off that dependency on the one Diet Coke.  Why does missing one coke affect me so much? 
I wanted to be “independent” so I developed a strategy after researching google and not finding much help out there.  I started by throwing away a little of each can for a few days. Then I bought two dozen small size cans and started drinking that.  I didn’t like that they were so expensive.  After one week I started to wait until I started to feel the headache coming on before I drank it.  It started to come a little later each day.  After I finished the cokes that I had bought I started to have a few dark chocolate chips each morning.  I hoped that would satisfy the caffeine need.  For about 2 weeks more I had to take advil for the headache but not every day.  Finally, I was free! 
This week I had my first Diet Coke since then and it was great!  I am not going to have more than one a week.  
It's been 3 weeks I feel so free!! I have had a Coke some mornings since, but even though I may think about it, I don't feel the urge to have one every day.  I have been drinking more of the Crystal Light decaffeinated green tea.  (And I still have my little bit of chocolate most days…)

These are freckles!

This is the biggest fish I caught in the river.  We had to return it to the water.  It was 26 inches - too big to keep!
We were in St. Simons for more than a week and went to the beach and fished. I got lots of sun - love it!  It was cool but not cold thank goodness!!  
One night while watching TV  next to each other, Don rubbed my leg and out of nowhere said, “What are these spots on your leg?”  I said, “I’m getting freckles!”  I’ve always wanted freckles and have noticed that in the past few years I can see some on my arms and hands and on my legs!  I love being in the sun and that is how you get freckles, right?  Anyway, I know that they are “age” spots and that people would say that I should use sunscreen.  I am always careful not to get sunburned, and being Cuban it doesn't happen very often.  I had osteoporosis and now I don’t.  I take medication and have made a conscious effort to get my vitamin D from the sun.  Now that I am retired, I try to be out in the sun for around half an hour on the days that I can.  I take calcium and a multivitamin and do my walking and exercises.  I am going to enjoy the sun and my freckles.  I will use sunscreen when I am a long time at the beach and when fishing but am not going to get upset about some beautiful freckles! 
Don't worry about me.  I plan to stay healthy for all the things that I want to do for myself, my family, and whatever God wants me to do for a long time!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Crabbing off the boat


We spent the week in SSI fishing and fixing up the condo.  I tried a new way of crabbing off the side of the boat while the fish were not biting.  Together we caught 11 fish – all cleaned and frozen- and I caught 10 large blue crab.  I was so excited.  Many times on the boat I wished we could crab and fish but never before figured out a way to do it.  I remembered how in Varadero we would go to the laguna  and throw out the bait on a string.  I don't remember how we brought them in but how excited we would get playing with the crabs.  So, I tied the chicken leg to a string with some weights and let it down beside the boat.  After a few times I could tell as I pulled it up that there was crab attached to it.  I lost a few when the crab let go and I did not get the crab into the net but I captured most of them.  They are bigger than the one we usually catch on the pier.  I called my 7 year old grandson and shared with him last night and he said, “Awesome!”  I cleaned all the crabs and put them in the fridge.  We will take the crabs to eat with them Monday.  He loves to catch the crabs and also to eat them!