Vegas 2012 – Day 4 – More Travelling

May 26th, 2012

We woke up early (5am) and decided to make the most of it and headed straight back to the Grand Canyon. We wanted to try going on the red route shuttle buses to see the canyon from a different view. It’s an 80 minute round trip of you don’t get off the bus but it has a number of view points to stop at and take photos, with another bus in 15 minutes to hop back on :)

Even waiting for the first bus there was a pretty view :)

Grand Canyon

The first stop gives a lovely view of the Bright Angel trail which we had attempted yesterday. Now we could see where we got to and where the rest stop was… Glad we didn’t keep going, it was a long way still!

Bright Angel Trail

Bright Angel Trail

We walked to the next 3 stops as it wasn’t far, taking photos along the way :)

Little Tree!

Grand Canyon

Little Tree Again!

Grand Canyon

Silhouettes

Hopi Point

At Hopi Point we hopped on the next bus and then off again at The Abyss cos it had a cool name. Chris made me sit on a rock for a photo!

River!

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

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At this point we decided we had best stay on the bus as time was ticking by faster than expected and we really wanted to get to the end.

Hermit's Rest

View at Hermit's Rest

At the ‘end’ there’s a gift shop which has some tshirts you can only get there, saying things like “I hiked to Hermits Rest” – having used the bus for most of it we didn’t feel we’d earnt one of those! We did buy a cinnamon roll each from the snack shop to stop our grumbling tummies though as we’d skipped breakfast!

We then hopped on the next bus and back to our car, via Kolb Studio so I could adopt a lion :)

We bought some more souvenirs at the hotel gift shop and then back to the room to pack up and head off. The drive was rather dull, no exciting scenery at all! The best we had was “Ooo, there’s a wind farm” but it was too far away to photograph. We did get to laugh at occasional silly road signs:

Once my phone signal improved I started researching lunch options. The only town on the way is Kingman so I asked Trip Advisor where to eat and the number one place was Redneck’s Southern Pit BBQ which was fab! You can read my review over on TA – Lunch Review

The next stretch was equally boring. There was one scenic view point:

Scenic View

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Then we drove straight past the Hoover Dam without even seeing it! Apparently the new bridge doesn’t give you any view at all!

The view got more exciting once we got near Vegas and started playing spot the hotel through the haze :) Eventually we arrived at Luxor! Yay! :)

We were pleasantly surprised to discover that even at Pearl we could use the express check in line, rather than the ever growing normal line. Just one person in front of us before I did my first ever check in (everything is usually in Chris’ name!) It was very quick and easy and suddenly we were in this awesome pyramid suite for free! :) We have 3 free nights and then $112 for the last night, which is awesome since we were expecting to pay over $900 for the room!

After we’d taken some photos of the room and finished marvelling at the awesome view, we headed of to Walmart for supplies of the snackable and drinkable kinds :) This was followed by enjoying a bath with a view back in our room :)

Bath with a View

Then it was time for food. We had reservations at 9:30 but after walking across town too quickly (we were there before 9) and then realising the food we’d been eyeing up on their menu when we’d booked was basically what we had for lunch, we abandoned that plan. We walked a little slower back and stopped at Man Chu Wok for dinner in Monte Carlo. It’s fast food Chinese which was a quick easy dinner :)

Alas, when we returned to our room we called to check the hot air balloon flight time for the morning to find it was cancelled :( Time to collapse into bed and find a new way to spend tomorrow.

Vegas 2012 – Day 3 – Grand Canyon

May 24th, 2012

Today started early, but once time was lost to getting yesterday’s blog post finished, it was already about half 8 when we left the hotel. We headed to Wendy’s for some breakfast which I forgot to photograph as I was too hungry! I had the sausage biscuit (scone for the English!) which had egg and cheese in it too :) It came with an oatmeal cookie which was scrumptious :D

Then, after a quick stop at the garage for fuel and snacks, we headed over to the Grand Canyon :) We handed over $25 for a 7 day pass (there’s no 1 day option!) and then followed the car in front to some parking ;) We started at the visitor centre and had a bit of a read of the information boards. Mostly they wanted to tell us to keep drinking water and don’t do anything stupid! ;) Apparently people think they can walk from rim to river and back in one day! Madness!

We decided to start off easy with a walk along the paved path around the rim and then if we were feeling up to it, a little wander down into the canyon. So off to the rim we headed :)

First view of the canyon. It was rather a hazy day, but still awesome :)

First View of the Grand Canyon

Here’s a bunch of photos :) Tap through for larger versions on Flickr with titles and descriptions, there’s also more photos on there which I haven’t included here :)

Panorama

Grumpy Man Rock

Chris at the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Panorama 2

Panorama 3

Panorama 4

Grand Canyon

We stopped at the Arizona Room for lunch (after deciding El Torva looked too posh!) We had some tasty foods and enjoyed watching the people walking along the rim outside. Some people had clearly just jumped out their car to take a photo and had only a camera with them, others had big backpacks of supplies and walking poles. I was amused by the couple who walked past looking all serious, then I noticed the guy had a teddy bear peeking out the top of his backpack! :)

Lunch With A View

After lunch had settled we decided to venture down into the canyon for a bit. The first rest stop is 1.5 miles, which we thought sounded doable. Alas, there was no indication of distance on the path once you started walking, and no further information signs. After about 35 minutes we stopped in some shade and considered. The signs all said you needed to allow twice as long to get up as it took to get down, and since we were almost a third of the way through our water supplies, we figured it best to turn around as we had no idea how far we’d come!

Grand Canyon

Panorama 5

Mules!

Grand Canyon

Panorama 6

Grand Canyon

The walk back up was exhausting! They weren’t kidding! It was slow going, but eventually we made it, and rewarded ourselves with tasty ice cream :) Then we hopped on the free shuttle bus to go wander round the shopping area to buy random souvenirs (more awesome socks, some stickers and a pretty vase) :) Then back on the bus to find our car :)

All in all, a fun but exhausting day :) Lots of pretty photos, but very sore feet! Hopefully tomorrow won’t involve quite so much walking ;)

We finished the day with a trip to the imaginatively named “We Cook Pizza and Pasta”. Despite the name, we didn’t want either, we wanted their “World Famous Hot Wings”…

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“It’s like a volcano in my mouth” was Chris’ description! Certainly the hottest wings I’ve ever had! It was something of an endurance challenge getting through the dozen wings, but apparently through the fire-y burning they were very tasty and we couldn’t stop! :)

Vegas 2012 – Days 1 & 2 – Travelling

May 23rd, 2012

Welcome to another series of holiday posts, likely filled with photos of food :) This year we’re doing rather more travelling than last, and staying for almost 3 weeks! Step 1, as always, involved getting here. Monday morning, bright and early, we get up after only a few hours sleep to head up to Manchester airport. A short flight (so short that we had to guzzle our drinks at hyper speed as the captain declared it time to land before they’d even given everyone their snack!) and we were in Heathrow :) Here there was a larger lounge with tasty salad to keep our tummies from grumbling :)

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Then onto our plane after a slightly mad dash across the airport (we started moving when it said boarding, we were the penultimate couple on the plane!) First up was the new muppets movie (awesome!) whilst we were fed some tasty foods. We’d managed to get our favourite seats by the partition so we could setup the projector to watch some Eddie Izzard for the rest of the flight.

We flew into Phoenix, where there were helpful people in purple jackets :) We picked up our rental car and went on a hunt for our bed for the night. We’d chosen the Travelodge in the hopes of something a little nicer than the scary motels… Alas the name didn’t mean much!

Travelodge?
(This photo was taken the next morning, it wasn’t this light when we got there!)

Obviously despite being fed twice on the plane, we were hungry, so off we went to Carl’s for a burger :)

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Then it was time for some sleep after a long day of travelling.

Our first proper day was also spent travelling :) Our mission for the day was to get to our hotel by the Grand Canyon, with multiple distractions along the way. Although first, we needed some breakfast!

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The first distraction was Sunset Point rest area, where we found not only a pretty view but also our first geocache of the trip :)

Flowering Tree

Sunset Point Panorama

Being a rest stop, there were a number of vending machines… and it was hot… so we had ice cream! :o)

Next up was Montezuma Castle, which is neither a castle nor anything to do with Montezuma!

Montezuma Castle

It’s like an ancient block of flats! They built walls to block in a natural cave and then split it into rooms. Alas, we’re not allowed to explore anymore, just view from a distance.

Montezuma Castle

Then a bit more driving, heading to Sedona, but stopping for pretty views along the way:

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Sedona Rocks Panorama

Where we found some awesome socks! :)

Sedona itself was like a seaside tourist town, except with big red rocks instead of the sea. Also, it had roundabouts! Roundabouts! That was a shock. We drove straight through as it was oddly busy, deciding we’d find lunch in Flagstaff instead.

Our scenic detour included a crazy squiggly road, which went up, up, up a mountain!

Once at the top there was a viewpoint, where we stopped so I could take the following photo to show just how far we’d climbed :)

High up!

Look How High We Are!

This wasn’t our highest point of the day! Maximum I’ve seen on a sign so far is 7335! It’s high up here!

Once in Flagstaff we found some lunch at Coco’s Bakery :) It was a random choice because we turned down a dead end and were using their car park to turn around. The food was very good though, hoping we find another!

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The next stop was Flintstone Bedrock City :) A rather sadly dilapidated ‘theme park’. Still great, but I bet it was awesome once upon a time. There wasn’t another person there, other than the staff, who never ventured out where we were. It was a little eerie.

Still, lots of good photo opportunities!

Fancy a drive?

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I like driving in my car!

Barney's Front Room

Flintstones-House

Finally, we arrived at The Grand Hotel. Much nicer than last night’s motel ;) After a little rest and a little work we went down to the restaurant in the hotel and ate tasty foods whilst a man played his banjo :) Mmmm, first ribs of the holiday!

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Weekend Productivity

April 15th, 2012

Despite being rather ill all week, I’ve had quite a productive weekend. In between the coughing and the headaches. Saturday morning I got up and baked some fruit scones :) I followed this recipe and it was great :) Apparently so great that we ate them all before I remembered to take a photo! Oops!

Then Saturday evening I finished my new set of table mats…
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A nice 454g to add onto my destash total, and some rather lovely place mats and coasters :) I am slowly filling Chris’ house with crocheted items ;)

Helen popped over yesterday to collect her new laptop and came bearing a present!
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Last weekend she’d commented that I needed an apron (I might have been covered in flour at the time!) and this weekend she appeared with one for me! :) Very happy me! :)

Of course, a new apron demanded I get up and do more baking, oh the hardship! ;) So in the oven this morning are some savoury muffins which smell delicious! Mine have got carrot, orange pepper, parsnip, and some of last nights leftover “rice, tomato and cheese bake” Chris made :)

Oh! Timer just went off! Let’s see how they look…
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Mmmmm, smell and look gooooood! Now to see if I can wake Chris up and try one :)

Startitis

April 10th, 2012

Apparently I can’t focus on one craft project at a time right now. After dabbling on eBay and gaining some fun things for my parchment craft (a year of magazines with lovely patterns, more templates and stencils and card blanks) I haven’t done any more. In my defence, I had an incident with a bread knife and didn’t feel particularly capable of anything intricate.

So I did some knitting. My huge fluffy blanket is now past halfway! :)

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Apparently, it’s impossible to take a photo of the blanket without a cat on it! They do seem to love the fluffy! :)

My pretty summery cotton top got to the point where I really needed to try it on and stopped because I needed a longer cable. I ordered and waited and waited, finally realising I’d ordered them to the wrong address! I have now tried it on and it fits so far :)

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In the mean time though I started a plaited rug made from strips of denim taken from old jeans. It requires quite a lot of sewing which I’m not so fond of, and hence a lot of my eyes. Not a project for in front of TV I want to watch!

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Saturday I decided I wanted to make some coasters :) A few hours later I had 4 rather pretty ones:

Then I finished off a fifth in a lacy pattern Sunday morning which might get a second to match later.

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Then I decided I wanted to make placemats and am now halfway through the second one of those!

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Oh and because I got my new cables I also got my new sock needles and want to start a pair!

I really need to focus on finishing some things and not keep starting things! :)

Free Pattern Giveaway

March 22nd, 2012

One of my friends set up a little Etsy store a while ago. She sells a bit of a random assortment of items – there’s some pretty jewellery, some cute mini aliens, some rather nice crochet, knit and cross-stitch patterns and other things too :) Right now she’s offering a free pattern to anyone who buys anything!

My little bear was made with her pattern:

As was my Aces cloth (pattern):

Patterns at Celeena Cree Creations

If you write a blog, getting a free pattern is even easier! :) Write her a little post like this one, send her a link to the post with your pattern choice and you’ll get a free pattern :) I’m personally looking forward to making that cute little robot :)

Musical Outings

March 12th, 2012

Two concerts over 3 evenings results in a sore throat and rather achey legs! :) However, much musical enjoyment :)

Friday night we went down to Wolverhampton to see Presidents of the United States of America (POTUSA from here otherwise my fingers will get worn out!) Their support band were the Straight Lines:

They had a good tshirt, so I wanted to like them more than I did. They were a little generic… nothing really stood out about them to make me want to spend money on their merchandise. Not to say they weren’t good and an enjoyable band. They were nice and chatty with the audience, they just didn’t grab me.

The main act of Friday night, POTUSA, are a band I’ve been aware of for a very long time. Oddly enough, Chris too :)

As you can tell from my photos, we were rather close… which turned out not to be a great idea! Apparently, POTUSA fans are rather, urm, crazy! I can cope with jumping around and enjoying the music… but it was all getting a bit vicious and dangerous. After a few manic songs of jumping with the crowd, some stomped on toes, and a fear of losing my glasses, we moved back a little which was much safer!

They’re a very silly group and quite chatty and enjoyed letting us all do the singing a few times :) A good night out other than the bruises!

Then on Sunday night we travelled up to Manchester to see Three Doors Down, supported by Seether :) I love it when you know and like the support acts, since it’s like getting two concerts for the price of one, rather than having to stand through randoms.

After the battering on Friday night we hung back a bit on Sunday. Seether were good, though clearly I need to buy their latest album as there were a number of songs everyone else seemed to know which I didn’t! Still, I thoroughly enjoyed singing and bouncing along to the ones I did (and still bouncing to the ones I didn’t!) :) It’s the second time I’ve seen them as a support act… maybe one day I’ll see them as the main act!

We managed to sneak a bit closer and more central before Three Doors Down came on. It seemed to take forever for them to make an appearance, which given it was a Sunday night and we were an hour from home, was making us a little grumbly! Again, I seem to be an album behind! So I need to go and buy more music (such a shame!) :) However, they played all the well known older ones too, so there was lots of singing along :)

He was nicely chatty with the audience and clearly happy we all knew the words! Though I really didn’t want to know that he flunked out of school and wrote the lyrics to some of my favourite songs at age 15 instead of paying attention in maths lessons! :( Fairly sure a band shouldn’t be advocating ignoring your education and aiming for stardom!

At one point he had the audience singing Another Day in Paradise by Phil Collins a cappella – a little bizarre!

One slight upset is that because of the late start, they managed to get kicked off before playing Kryptonite! Nyargh! They came back for an encore and played some random new song most people didn’t know instead of the one everyone was expecting. So obviously that was the first track on once back to the car with my pretty new tshirt :)

Parchment Craft

March 8th, 2012

Some time ago, Nikki and I went to a craft show where we saw parchment craft for the first time. I was inspired by the delicate designs, by the fact it looked very similar to the embossing techniques I already love, and I wanted to try. Alas, the foolish people had no beginners set, no deal for a newbie to get the basics, no temptation to spend.

I was a little sad to leave the show without the new craft, but fear not! Nikki found a beginners kit in Hobbycraft shortly after and it was soon gifted my way :)

Then it sat. Forgotten in a corner for quite some time. Till Chris turned on Create & Craft TV and got me wanting to spend money on my card making again. Then I remembered I already had a lovely new thing to try :)

Finally last night I got out the kit, sat down for a couple of hours, and made this…

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It was fun and fairly fast and created something rather lovely :) It’s a bit wrinkly and needs sticking to some card to flatten it down some! But it’s pretty :)

Tonight I made an actual card…

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I think it’s a really lovely effect and I’m looking forward to making the rest of the patterns in the kit and then designing my own :)

What do you think? Have you ever tried parchment craft? What’s your favourite card making technique?

A Proposal

March 2nd, 2012

No, not a proposal for you, dear readers ;)

There’s one day, every four years, when tradition allows a reversal of roles. There had been hinting from Chris that he thought this a fabulous day, and I had been contemplating for a while whether I should go for it and take the pressure of “that perfect romantic moment” away from him.

Then along came Gü asking for any ladies thinking of asking the question as they wanted to make it extra special. It piqued my interest so I replied and then forgot about it for a while.

On the 21st an email appeared from them with the offer of a Gü chocolate heart filled with truffles, and a message of my choice iced on top. So I thought and I contemplated and I figured even if I didn’t go through with it, yay for chocolate! :) I chatted with Laura and arranged the message and delivery for the 28th and then I started wondering what would make that “perfect moment”.

A quick google later and I’d found a lovely looking 5 star hotel and spa just 20 minutes away! I was amazed there could be somewhere so close which would fit my requirements, so I sent them an email to check that the recent bad review on Trip Advisor wasn’t normal. Lucy assured me it was just a grumpy man who’d tried to cancel his 12 month gym membership and not taken kindly to having to pay for the full 12 months… since I wasn’t intending to join the gym this was fine by me ;) Lucy and Laura were the only people who knew of my plan beforehand and were both very encouraging :) Lucy arranged for a complimentary bottle of wine to help calm my nerves for the big question :)

Then, the challenge of a gift. We have an attachment to toucans, those of you who know me well have probably seen the toucan on my bracelet, so I decided he should have a toucan to match. I googled around some more, looking for a toucan (key)ring seemed appropriate. I finally found something I thought might work, and it turned out despite being on eBay, it was actually in a shop just down the road! I let fate guide me and headed over there that afternoon to buy it :)

Planning all sorted, I just had to wait for the day, and then manage to drag Chris away from his desk ;)

After a little tour of the facilities and our welcome juice, we went for a walk around the grounds. The sun had come out and the skies had cleared. It was warm enough to walk just in our tshirts through their little wooded area :)

After this point, there aren’t many photos because we discovered there was no signal on our phones! Absolutely no service whatsoever across the whole place! Something of a surprise, but actually very nice to escape from work completely for 24 hours :) So we mostly didn’t take our phones with us and hence no camera!

We spent the afternoon making use of the spa facilities – sauna, steam room, hydrotherapy pool and a swimming pool :) Much relaxation and warmth :) Then back to our room for a little while before dinner. We weren’t sure what to expect of the 5 star dinner, whilst the menu had sounded fine I had been wary that it might be tiny gourmet foods, so had packed lots of snacks. I needn’t have worried, there was lots of food and we were stuffed afterwards! I had the silliest crispy shredded duck pancake ever – it was in fact a Staffordshire oatcake rather than a pancake :D Now I want to make my own that way too :) Whilst Chris started with some garlic mushroom bruschetta which was most tasty. For mains I had some pork with the yummiest crackling *ever* and Chris had a tasty steak :) His steak came with triple cooked chips – why 3 times? We don’t know… but they tasted good :)

We shared a bottle of rather tasty wine over dinner too :) By this point it was almost all gone and we were rather full. How could we possibly resist dessert though, after the first 2 courses had been so good?! ;) Chris had a warm chocolate and almond tart served with custard and chocolate ice cream. I had a hot chocolate cake with mint choc chip ice cream :) Both were must yummy :D

We headed back to the room, now rather inebriated, and I decided I had better actually ask the question before I ran out of day! I had been considering doing it over dinner, but the restaurant was a little too busy, and we’re not the kind of people to want a public spectacle! So I ask :) Presenting him with the (key)ring and chocolates, and obviously he says yes :D (Otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this post, now would I?!) :)

The next morning there was more sunshine, a little more spa usage, and a yummy chocolate back massage :) Followed by a hunt for a ring! We tried Longton (as we were driving through) and then Hanley, and when that failed headed back to cuddle the kitties for a while before heading up to the Trafford Centre. We walked round all the jewellers, and finally narrowed it down to three rings. We took photos and then had some dinner (mmmm, barburrito!) whilst we contemplated. Then we went and bought a ring :)

This is just a temporary ring whilst we choose a diamond ring, but it didn’t feel right that I was engaged and didn’t have a ring :) It’s white gold with tanzanite and is very pretty :) Conveniently, my ring finger on my right hand is the same size, so it will still get lots of wearing once we finally choose a “proper” ring ;)

Now to do that wedding planning thing! :D

Destashing

February 8th, 2012

I do a lot of crafting, particularly with yarn. Over the years I have built up rather a large stash of lovely smooshy yarn :) Perhaps too large a stash! So this year I intend to work at reducing the pile. Each project I complete is being marked on Ravelry with the total weight so I can keep track.

To celebrate my first kilogram I thought I would share my projects on here too :)

First up was Sasha’s bed:
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This was an awesome stash busting project using a whopping 850g in only a few hours :)

Next came a pattern test for a friend:
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This was a slow knit as I’ve not done double knitting before and I suck at following charts! It used up 85g.

A very quick donut mug cozy:
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A random creation for Chris after he saw mug cozies on Ravelry but wanted something more unique. I particularly like that the side he drinks from says “nut” :) Only 10g though!

Then another pattern test of a cute bear:
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Chris named him “Squidgey Yay Bear” which has stuck :) Including his stuffing, he weighs 35g.

Next up was some random yarn from Abakahn, bought in a sale and lacking a ball band. I thought the colours were lovely and it was soft enough to want near my skin, so I used up every last yard making these:
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That was 120g of yarn used in some improvised gloves and hat :)

A total of 1.1kg so far and still going strong :)