Monday, December 31, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. For this meme, bloggers post what they finished last week, what they're currently reading, and what they plan to start this week.
My comments are not meant to be recaps of the story lines as I include a link to Goodreads for their synopsis of the book. I am merely stating how I felt about the book without giving any spoilers.

This is the last post for 2012 and I am a little disappointed that I didn't reach 100 books, however do excuse myself that it has been a very busy year.


Synopsis here.

Neverwhere answers the 'what if' question about a city that some of us wonder about. Is there a London Below, a strange world which consists of Underground railways, tunnels, sewers, and sometimes uncannily parallels the London that the average inhabitant thought they knew but didn't, and in a way that seems a lot more interesting? London is one of my favourite cities and I am quite familiar with the geography so it was easy for me to picture where the character was. I got a big chuckle out of some of the names used in London Below, such as Night's Bridge for Knightsbridge. I loved the night market held in Harrod's, I could easily believe that this happens.
Now I must read more Gaiman!!


The Corrections

After almost fifty years as a wife and mother, Enid Lambert is ready to have some fun. Unfortunately, her husband, Alfred, is losing his sanity to Parkinson’s disease, and their children have long since flown the family nest to the catastrophes of their own lives. The oldest, Gary, a once-stable portfolio manager and family man, is trying to convince his wife and himself, despite clear signs to the contrary, that he is not clinically depressed. The middle child, Chip, has lost his seemingly secure academic job and is failing spectacularly at his new line of work. And Denise, the youngest, has escaped a disastrous marriage only to pour her youth and beauty down the drain of an affair with a married man—or so her mother fears. Desperate for some pleasure to look forward to, Enid has set her heart on an elusive goal: bringing her family together for one last Christmas at home.


Blue Monday

Venetian Casino Las Vegas December 2012

Sunday, December 30, 2012

An Accidental Blog - Dreaming of France

The rules for this meme are: Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.
Maybe we can all satisfy our yearnings for France, until we get there again.

So here goes my contribution. We were in France in August 2012 on a week-long river cruise with good friends. The Eiffel Tower at night was an amazing sight! 

Las Vegas - Food

It is certainly strange to be spending the winter in Las Vegas. This is certainly an interesting place and there is a lot more to do than just hang out on the Strip.

We have been here for two weeks so far, over Christmas and New Year's.
Christmas Day we went to the Strip and were amazed at the number of people out and about, everywhere was crowded.
We came back to the condo and cooked our own turkey dinner a ten pound turkey for $11!!!

Eating and drinking along the Strip is very expensive, long gone are the days of cheap meals. An average beer is $11 + but if you go off the Strip or down to Fremont then the prices drop dramatically.

It is worth checking out Happy Hours.

People go crazy for the buffets, no matter the casino it was impossible to get into one on Christmas Day as people were willing to line up for ages.

Some of our favourite meals so far:

Best burger at Rattlecan in the Venetian, soooo juicy just the way I like a burger.

Best delivery pizza from Dine Inn.

Best pizza by far was at Romaine Course Caesar's Palace in the Cypress Street Marketplace. This was just like having a slice of pizza in Rome, thin crust and no tomato sauce. Loved it!! As you can see I had eaten half of it before we remembered to take a picture. We will definitely be going back here for another slice.
This is not an ordinary food court with the same old, same old tired restaurant chains; these are unique food vendors selling upscale food.It is even included in a Frommer's review.
I will be trying the Lobster Chowder Company and Ah So which sells Asian soups.

Best steak and lobster for the best price is at TGIF's in the Gold Coast and if you go between 3PM and 6PM (we just make it lupper after the movies where we have popcorn for lunch) then  it is only $13.99!! They cook your steak to order and the tail can be either grilled or steamed. You get your choice of potato and vegetables. We've had this twice in two weeks!!

We have reservations January 7 for Gordon Ramsey's Steak at Paris and we are really looking forward to it.

We also plan to eat at his Pub and Grill. We were going to go there on Friday as we were in Caesar's Palace but couldn't find it when we went back to look for it! It is located in the Forum Shops which is a massive place and really hard to find your way around.

Getting around:

We have been using the various shuttles offered by some of the casinos. We can take the Rio shuttle to either Harrah's or Bally's/Paris which is so convenient. When we were staying at the Wyndham they ran a shuttle from the timeshare to Harrah's as well.

The monrail is not cheap as one trip is $5, there is a daily pass at $12 if you are going to be traveling around all day.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Ultimate Road Trip Southbound - Recap

Finally I am getting around to writing a recap of our trip. to put this trip into perspective you can read about our crazy year leading to this endeavor.
Since we were downsizing as we unpacked in our new condo we put aside a plastic bin to capture items we thought we might need in our temporary accommodations over the winter.
This bin was not meant to be unpacked until we were settled in a condo. It remained in the car until Sedona.
Some of these items were:
Portable toothbrush charger - we had two so one stayed in Toronto.
External hard drive - it has backups of our photos that would provide projects over the winter such as scrapbooking.
Winter gloves, hats and mitts - in case of storms on the road south or north bound.
Extra kitchen supplies - we had extras of dishwasher tablets, aluminum foil, baggies, j-cloths etc.
Extra bathroom items - medicines, creams etc again extras from home that might come in handy and also a good way to reduce all the extras we had.
Night lights from the dollar store - handy in hotel and condo bathrooms to find your way during the night.

We packed a small bag that contained a few days clothes and personal items that we would take into our hotels during the drive.
A cooler (thanks K and B) for any food items such as cheeses and bread that we bought along the way either for dinner in a hotel when we didn't feel like going out or for lunch on the road.

We also had all our electronic paraphernalia with us, cameras, laptops, iPad, e-reader and all the associated converters and plugs. We wanted/needed to have access in the same manner as at home.
We considered bringing a printer but decided we didn't need it.

We left on Monday November 26, 2012 with plans to be in Sedona AZ by Saturday December 1. On the 26th we left at 10:30 and here is a recap of the first day.  After crossing the border into New York we then entered Pennsylvania We spent the night in Springfield Ohio.

Day 2  we left Springfield OH early morning, crossed into Indiana, Illinois where we stopped to see the World's Largest Wind chimes, Missouri and spent our 25th wedding anniversary in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Day 3  we woke in Jefferson City, MO and had lunch in Claremont OK and made Clinton OK our stop for the night.

Day 4  we realized that we were making excellent time so decided to slow down and enjoy some of the sights on the way. We spent time at the Route 66 Museum in Clinton OK.

we spent the day meandering across Oklahoma and into Texas making many stops along the way. Our destination for the night ended up being Amarillo Texas as we realized that the Big Texan had a motel.

Day 5  started out in Amarillo TX and we traveled into New Mexico again taking our time.

We lodged in Gallup NM for the evening after crossing the Continental Divide.

Day 6  we spent the morning sightseeing in Gallup NM. Then it was time to head to our first stop Sedona AZ.
We made a stop for lunch in Winslow AZ to revisit "Standin' on the Corner".
We sailed into Sedona in time for our check-in at Diamond Resorts Ridge on Sedona Golf Resort.

Day 7 and we're quite pleased not to be packing up the car and getting on the road for a week.

One of the week's highlights was a hot air balloon ride.

A recap of our seven days in Sedona.

Next leg of our journey is Sedona to Las Vegas with an overnight stop in Hualapai Resort with a stop in Jerome AZ.

Getting settled in Las Vegas for a week at the Wyndham Desert Resort then we moved to our final location in Vegas for two months a rented condo off the Strip across from the Rio Casino.
Sunset from our window

Snow on the mountains from our window

What would we have brought along that we didn't or forgot?

More cleaning supplies rather than having to buy them.
Extra condiments such as coffee, tea, salt and pepper, corn starch and other spices etc than you might want to use. However we did get asked at US Customs if we were bringing in any food.
DH forgot his cigars so bought a travel humidor and stocked up.
Had to buy a potato masher!!
Definitely should have packed some plastic storage containers.
Ice packs for the cooler.
I should have packed something crafty to do, especially my knitting as I could have done a lot while in the car. But then again, I would have missed a lot of photo ops!!

Good ideas - emptied plastic water bottles are great for storing and moving some items. We had bought soup stock that comes in a box which didn't transport very well so we used the water bottles.

We also used emptied water bottles as ice packs we froze them with tap water.

Gas - $425
Hotels - $622
Timeshare condos (2 weeks) - already owned paid RCI exchange fees of $500. Will try to avoid that fee on the way back using internal resorts with no exchange fee.
Condo rental Las Vegas - 2 months
Timeshare condo (2 weeks) planned end February 2013 - no exchange fees
Air fare to Mazatlan - not yet booked
Internet - was free at all hotels. Diamond Resorts charged $45 for the week (shame on them).Internet is included in the condo rental.
Cell phones

We could probably have flown for that price, however, once here we would have had to rent a car for three months which would have been prohibitive.

Hotels could have been cheaper as we mainly stayed at Hiltons. They ranged from $100 to $125. This could have been cheaper if we had booked ahead of time online or phoned ahead.
However, having having stayed in one Super 8 for $60 I was quickly reminded why I would rather spend the extra money for cleanliness and comfort.

Every hotel (except The Big Texan) included breakfast. I didn't calculate the cost of our meals as this is a vacation as well.
Our food costs while in Las Vegas are not included as we would have had to eat at home anyway. However, food is much cheaper here as are many other items such as hair cuts and pedicures.

Once we were established in one place we changed our cell phone coverage. DH obtained a new SIM card for his with a local phone number. Since I hated my phone I bought a new one and bought a monthly plan with no contract from Straightalk.
We also opened a mailbox at UPS so our mail could be redirected by our friends.

TCHOTCHKES (Souvenirs/junk) TO DATE:

DH - 4 t-shirts Route 66/Jerome
      -  1 golf shirt
Me  - 1 hoodie Jerome
       -  1 cat.shoe box
Us - 2 coffee mugs
     - 2 beer glasses Harley Davidson

Saturday Snapshot


Saturday Snapshots is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books.

These were taken yesterday at Bellagio Las Vegas in the Conservatory. The display will close on January 5.
The next display will be Chinese New Year's. 140 expert horticulturists theatrically arrange gazebos, bridges, ponds, and water features uniquely for each season.

These bears are made out of white carnations.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Blue Monday

Taken in Elk City, OK November 2012 at Old Town Museum

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. For this meme, bloggers post what they finished last week, what they're currently reading, and what they plan to start this week.
My comments are not meant to be recaps of the story lines as I include a link to Goodreads for their synopsis of the book. I am merely stating how I felt about the book without giving any spoilers.

Wish You Were Here

Synopsis here.

This book is set in modern day England against the backdrop of the "war on terror". Jack's brother has been killed and Jack sets out for the "repatriation" of his body as the British and Canadian military call the return of the remains to the family.
This story takes place over a few hours as Jack agonizes and reminisces over his life with his brother and family.
This story takes us all back on a journey of life's little miseries that are part of all our lives.
I have a love-hate relationship with Swift's writing and while this was written beautifully it was a very sad book.


When Richard Mayhew stops one day to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London pavement, his life is forever altered, for he finds himself propelled into an alternative reality that exists in a subterranean labyrinth of sewer canals and abandoned subway stations. He has fallen through the cracks of reality and has landed somewhere different, somewhere that is Neverwhere.

2012 books read (94 to date):
The Coast Road - John Brady
Still Midnight - Denise Mina
The Bulgari Connection - Fay Weldon
Good Bait - John Harvey
The Heretic's Treasure - Scott Mariani
Dead I Well May Be - Adrian McKinty
The Devil's Elixir - Raymond Khoury
A Darker Domain - Val McDermid
The Impossible Dead - Ian Rankin
GB84 - David Peace
The Emperor's Tomb - Steve Berry
Stonehenge Legacy - Sam Christer
Inquisition - Alfredo Colitto ABANDONED!
The Troubled Man - Henning Mankell
Nineteen Seventy-Four - David Peace
Faithful Place - Tana French
Dead Like You - Peter James
Brother and Sister - Joanna Trollope
The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton ABANDONED!
A Beginner's Guide to Acting English -Shappi Khorsandi
The Snowman - Jo Nesbo
The Leopard - Jo Nesbo
The Stone Cutter - Camilla Lackberg
Miramar - Naguib Mahfouz
The Gallow's Bird - Camilla Lackberg
Nineteen Seventy- Seven - David Peace
Timeline - Michael Crichton
Millennium People - JG Ballard
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
Birdman - Mo Hayder
Clara Callan - Richard B. Wright
The Paris Vendetta - Steve Berry
Little Girls Lost - Jack Kerley
The Reutrn of the Dancing Master - Henning Mankell
Nemesis - Jo Nesbo
Dublin Dead - Gerard O'Donovan
City of Bohane - Kevin Barry
This Beautiful Life - Helen Schulman
The Copenhagen Project - K. SandersenPrague - Arthur Phillips
Fortunes of War - Gordon Zuckerman
The Cold Cold Ground - Adrian McKinty
Before the Poison - Peter Robinson
The Mozart Conspiracy - Scott Mariani
Dancer - Colum McCann
Pig Island - Mo Hayder
Old City Hall - Robert Rotenberg
The Paris Wife - Paula McLain
The Last Good Man - A. J. Kazinski
Homesick - Roshi Fernando
Black Friday - Alex Kava
Only One Life - Sara Blaedel
A Perfect Evil - Alex Kava
People Like Us - Dominick Dunne
The Ottoman Motel - Christopher Currie
Even the Dogs - Jon McGregor
The Red Book - Deborah Copaken Kogan
Faith - Jennifer Haigh
The Salesman - Joseph O'Connor
The Last Hundred Days - Patrick McGuinness
The Girl Below - Bianca Zander ABANDONED!
Hocus Pocus - Kurt Vonnegut
Drowned - Therese Bohman
Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
The Paris Directive - Gerald Jay
Criminal - Karin Slaughter
The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Moshin Hamid
The Good Muslim - Tahmima Anam
My Korean Deli - Ben Ryder Howe
The Ghosts of Belfast - Stuart Neville
Bad Boy - Peter Robinson
The Guilty Pleas - Robert Rotenberg
The Vault - Ruth Rendell
A Train in Winter - Caroline Moorehead
Turn of Mind - Alice La Plante
The Buddha in the Attic - Julie Otsuka
Swipe - Evan Angler
Absurdistan - Gary Shteyngart ABANDONED!
The Butterfly Clues - Kate Ellison
The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes
Attachments - Rainbow Rowell
Viral - James Lilliefors
Keepsake - Kristina Riggle
The Butcher's Boy - Thomas Perry
Death in Summer - William Trevor
The Broken Shore - Peter Temple
The World Without You - Joshua Henkin
Friend of the Devil - Peter Robinson
Headhunters - Jo Nesbo
Zoo - James Patterson ON HOLD
Stonemouth - Iain Banks
Wish You Were Here - Graham Swift