Tis The Season for the Flu

I've been sick all week so far with a gnarly cold/flu. Runny nose (then stuffy, off and on), body aches, fever of 101.2, and a box of kleenex constantly by my side. Every Fall season, I get sick. I've been off work for 2 days now, but going back tomorrow, with my handy dandy kleenex box in tow.

Being sick & laying around blowing my nose for days, got me thinking: is the myth of the "You get the flu with the flu shot" true? I don't get them anymore because every time I did, I would come down with the flu a week later. I just found it too coincidental. Plus, there are different stains of the flu and getting a flu shot doesn't protect you for all of them, so you could just as easily get sick anyway.

Do you get the flu shot every year? If you do, do you find that you get sick shortly afterwards? 

Well, that's all the rambling I can muster up with the amount of (more like lack of) energy I have at the moment. Stay healthy & stock up on that vitamin C. Tis the season!

"Carrie" (Remake): Movie Review

("Carrie" The Movie, a remake of the 1976 film.)

I've seen the trailers for the remake of the classic 1976 film, "Carrie", and I just couldn't wait to see it. I was anxious to see a new & updated version of the original, with one of my all time favorite actresses (Julianne Moore) playing a big role in it.

Chloe Grace Moretz ("Carrie") is hardly new to Hollywood, as she's been acting since 2004 and she's only 16 years old. You might (or might not) remember her from the TV series "The Guardian" and "Dirty Sexy Money" or perhaps in the movie "Big Momma's House 2" or "500 Days of Summer". Personally, I never heard of her but after seeing her in the remake of "Carrie" last night, I'll never forget her. 

The Short Conclusion:
It was borderline okay/good. It wasn't "Oh my gosh, ya gotta see it!" good, so don't be sad if you have to wait until it's out on DVD or Netflix. 

The Long Conclusion:
The movie is an updated version of the classic, so there was a lot of modern day stuff like texting, YouTube, taking pictures/videos of with cell phones, etc. The movie had ups & downs for me. Whenever Chloe & Julianne (Carrie & Carrie's mom) were acting a scene together, there were amazing moments of brilliant acting. Then in the next scene, I felt like I was watching an after school special for anti-bullying. It was up & down. Didn't have a consistent feeling or flow for me.

The one thing I did like about the film was that it was fast-moving. It seemed like we only watched 20-30 mins of the movie, when in reality, it was probably over an hour. (The move is 92 minutes long.) 

The original is much scarier and just..well...a classic. 
This remake is an okay upgrade of the film.

I'm looking forward to seeing more acting from Chloe Grace Moretz in the future, as I believe her acting was great in the film, as well as Julianne Moore's as usual. It was the high school scenes that made me feel like I was watching "Mean Girls" all over again and brought down the overall feel of it for me. 

I saw on IMDB.com that it got rated 6.6 out of 10 stars...that's pretty spot-on accurate. More than a 6, less than a 7. Yea, I'm gonna have to agree with that score.

Cheap Vegas Vacation: A Guide for First Timers

 (Pic of the Vegas Strip)
I'm back!! :D I originally wanted to do this post on Saturday, but I was completely jet lagged and exhausted, so sorry for the delay.

Okay, let's dive right on in!!

One thing I wasn't expecting, was that I actually loved Old Vegas (Fremont St, a mile or so away from the strip) way more than the Vegas Strip!!! The differences between the the Vegas Strip & Fremont St in Old Vegas, are night and day.

Old Vegas VS New Vegas:
If you don't mind crowds of people that walk into you constantly, slots that seemingly never pay out, loads of tourists, and walking a mile from 1 hotel to the next, then you might like the Vegas strip. If you're more of a laid back, chill person who likes their slot machines loose and blackjack tables to offer $3 or $5/hand with fairly quick (and free) alcoholic drinks being offered to you as you gamble, then Old Vegas/Fremont St. is for you.
(Pic of Freemont St in Old Vegas)
We stayed at The Golden Nugget on Freemont St and loved it! It was right in the heart of everything on Fremont St. We walked out of the hotel and boom..everything was there. Right across the street is Binions, a Casino & Hotel. It was small and had a good vibe to it. We played blackjack there for $3/hand or $5/hand, played slots, took a pic with $1 million dollars (which they give to you free), ate a buy 1/get 1 free burger and fries meal, and they also had poker tournaments there (we didn't play, but I plan on it next year when we go back). This was our go-to spot on Fremont St.

Every night, there was live entertainment on different stages on the street, and every hour they had a light show which was amazing to see! I recorded 2 of the light shows, one is "Monster Mash" and the other one is a tribute to the band "Heart".

"Heart Tribute"

"Monster Mash"
It's hard to capture the true vibe of Fremont St, but it's just...magical. It's like your own little world and down to earth party zone.

The Spirit of Fremont St:

We went to the Vegas Strip twice. We tried to see as many casinos as possible, but my feet were so sore and tired from walking, that I was a bit irritated and just wanted to get back to Old Vegas as soon as we could.

My Favorite Memory of the Strip:
We were in a casino (I forget which one, there's so many of them there) and it was daylight outside when we walked in, but when we walked out, it was nighttime and all the signs were lit up. It was breath taking!!!

Most Surprising Thing About the Vegas Strip:
It's nothing like you see in movies, TV shows, or pictures. Yea, those shots of people riding in a limo with their head out the window as they look at the lit up casino signs?...doesn't happen. It can't! Traffic is too backed up and such a clusterf**k, they would have to shut down part of the strip just to get that shot. Plus, there was a lot of construction at various hotels, which was disruptive to the views at times. The most eye appealing hotel & casino for me was New York, New York. Amazing!

There's 1 bus, called the "Deuce" (double decker bus) that runs from Fremont St the whole way up & down to the last casino on the strip, and back. This is the only form of transportation you will need down there. It's $8 for a 24 hour pass and so worth it! (You can also buy a 3 day pass for $20, which saves you some money.) The buses came pretty quickly. I'd say 90% of the time, we only waited 1 minute before the bus came. Another time, we waited about 5 mins. They run all the time. You can buy your ticket either from the bus driver, or more conveniently, from one of the many TVM's (Ticket Vending Machines).

Airport to Hotel Transportation:
We used a shuttle for $9/each way, per person. This is, by far, the cheapest option and it wasn't bad at all! It took us about 20 minutes to get to our hotel from the airport. When you pick up your bags in baggage claim at the Vegas Airport, there are ticket counters you can go up to if you wanna purchase a shuttle ticket. (If you don't see any, just ask anyone that works there.) On the day of your flight back home, make sure to call the shuttle service at least 2 hrs prior to your pick up time. (Eg: call at 10am if you want to be picked up at 12pm).

Hidden Costs:
Most, if not all hotels, will try to nickel & dime you to death. Well, that's pretty much the moto of Vegas, too. ;) If you want to use wifi, you have to pay $13/per day. (We had 4G service & never had to use it.) If you want that bottle of Fiji Water in your hotel room, that'll be $7. But our biggest shocker came from the baggage fees of Frontier Airlines (which I will never use again, but it's for a different reason other than the hidden baggage fees). We had to pay $170 more for our carry-on luggage. Yes, carry on luggage. (I'm surprised they didn't try to charge me for having my purse on the plane. Geez.)  So when you're looking on Travelocity for a cheap Vegas package, call that airline directly and ask them what their luggage fees are for both check-in bags and carry-on bags as well. Don't get fooled like we did. Luckily, this was our only costly "mistake" we made the entire trip.

Coupons, Coupons, Coupons!:
We didn't have any coupons prior to going to Vegas, but that's okay because they are all over the place down there! We had 3 buy 1, get 1 free meal coupons, drinks are free (as long as you're playing slots or a table game), and if you want to walk around the strip or Fremont St drinking, just stop into a liquor store and buy a huge can of beer for $4.

We ate at the Buffet in the Golden Nugget for breakfast & dinner and it was great food at a great price!

(Pic of the Golden Nugget Buffet)

I think breakfast was $10/each and dinner was $15/each during the week. That's the other thing, go to Vegas during the week because (1) everything goes up in price starting on Fridays and (2) the crowds get horrible for the weekend travelers coming into town.

Each time you go into a casino, sign up for their casino card. You will get a ton of free coupons doing this, plus comps in the future for gambling at their hotel. (We never racked up enough points in any casino to get comps this trip.) We got free slot play and free meals by doing this. Definitely worth your time.

Tix 4 Tonight:
These booths are everywhere! You can't miss them. And they will save you money on shows & dinners, usually good for 2 days. We bought tickets for the Mob Attraction (not the Mob Museum, which is in Old Vegas...the Mob Attraction is on the strip) and we bought tickets for Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, too. All at discounted prices. Both attractions were really good! Here's a video I took at the Wax Museum:

Walking Shoes:
I really can't stress this enough, BRING A GOOD PAIR OF WALKING SHOES!!!! This was my biggest mistake of the whole trip. I thought my Converse shoes would be good enough, and nope..I was so wrong. I literally had bruises on the soles of my feet from walking around so much in a pair of shoes that weren't made for walking that much. Next time, I will buy a good pair of walking shoes and break them in a month in advance. 

Vegas On a Budget:
We went to Vegas on a budget of $100/day ($300 total for the 3 days were were there) and we were successful at it! We were able to eat, drink, and gamble for hours on $100 or less every day. (One day, I only spent $60 thanks to getting lucky on slot machines & playing blackjack). You just have to know when to walk away from the slot machines or table games. So if you're on a budget, you can still have a blast for cheap!!

What Everyone Will Tell You:
When you tell people "I'm going to Vegas!", they will tell you 'do this' and 'do that', and it's overwhelming. And it's not because they're wrong, it's because they're right! There is so much to do & see in Vegas, and it would take a lifetime to do it all. So go at your own pace, do the things you want to do/see. Miss something this trip? Just see it the next time you go! (And trust me, you'll want to go back. ;) )

In Conclusion:
This was our first time in Vegas and we barely knew anything before going, but still figured out things along the way pretty easily. So don't be afraid to go, not knowing what to do. You'll catch on & fairly quickly! We didn't win big, but we also didn't lose big. (I think I lost $30 the whole trip to gambling, I won on slots most of the time and a few times at blackjack.)

What I Would Do Differently:
I can't believe I didn't do this in the first place. If you're signed up on Ebates.com and plan on using Travelocity (like I did) to book your trip (search in Vacation Packages), you get 2.50% cash back on Vacation Packages. I could have had $19.50 cash back (via a check in the mail) if I would have done that. Hey, $19 bucks is $19 bucks!

Total Budget Cost Breakdown:
Hotel, Airfare, Taxes: $390/each
Baggage Fees: $85/each
Food/Gambling/Drinks: $100/day budget x 3 days
Transportation Fees (Shuttle & Bus): $32

Total: $807/each for Tues-Fri Stay (3 nights/4 days)

If you've been to Vegas and you have some tips for anyone going, leave them in the comment section below! I'd love to hear them! :D

Going to Vegas, Baby!!

On Tuesday (Oct 8th), the boyfriend and I will be boarding our plane to go to Vegas for our Vegas Vacation! We're both excited & nervous, as this is our first time going to Vegas. We come back on Friday, so expect a post-Vegas Vacation blog on Saturday. I'll let y'all know what we did, how we saved money, and probably some first timers mistakes as well.

We used Travelocity to book our Vegas Vacation. We snagged up a killer deal!! It was $390/each (that includes hotel, airfare & taxes) for 4 days. Super duper cheap!! We booked a Tues-Fri trip.

While we have an idea of the stuff we wanna do while we're there, I'm sure plans will change off & on while we're actually there. Here are some of the things we're planning on doing:

*Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
*Mob Museum
*Fountains at the Bellagio (Free)
*Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage
*"Sirens of TI" Pirate Show at Treasure Island (Free)
*Volcano at the Mirage (Free)
*Taking a free limo to the OG Strip Club (Free Admission, too!)
*Enjoy free drinks while playing slots at various hotels
*Catching some kind of Vegas show while we're there

Since we're going to Vegas on a budget (I do everything on a budget lol), we're going to see what discounted show tickets are being offered at (up to) 50% off at any of the Tix 4 Tonight booths around town. They change shows every morning, so that will be a 'whatever we can get' kind of thing. They sell tickets for non-sold out shows for that evening. I'm hoping we can score a Cirque du Soleil show, as they seem to be the best.

The $20 Trick:
Ever since we booked our Vegas Vacation, I've been looking up Vegas secrets, tips, deals, etc. The one hot tip that I kept finding over & over again, was "The $20 Trick". So what is it? Well, if you want to upgrade your hotel room, you just slip a folded up $20 bill in between your drivers license & credit card and hand it to the hotel desk clerk. Most of the time, they'll upgrade your room for you. If they can't (due to rooms being booked up, or their manager nearby), they'll simply give you your money back. We're going to try this trick, so make sure to come back on Saturday to see if it worked!

According to TheTwentyDollarTrick.com, it seems that most hotel guests are successful at the $20 trick, except at a few hotels such as MGM Grand & Harrah's. (Those hotels have about a 50% success rate, while most others are around 80-90%.)

Airport to Hotel:
We were told by friends that the best way to get from the airport to the hotel, is to take a hotel shuttle for $9/each. While it might take 45 mins to get to the hotel because of the shuttle stopping to drop off guests are various hotels, it's the cheapest option. We were told that a cab ride would be around $40+ with tip and could take 20-30 minutes (depending on what hotel you're staying at & traffic). We'll take the shuttle.

Getting Around Town:
We were informed that if we want to get around Vegas (on the strip), then do not take a cab; take the bus. From what we've been told, it's $5/each for a 24 bus pass. 

Free Limo Rides:
Even if you're not a big fan of strip clubs, still take them up on their Free Limo ride! Most of them offer a free limo ride & free admission as well. You just call them up, tell them to pick you up, they take you to the club, and you get free admission as well. (Don't forget to tip your driver about $10-$20.) I think everyone should see Vegas from a limo, so we'll be taking them up on that offer. After doing the research, it seems that the OG Strip Club is the best bet, simply because of the location; it's on the strip. This means, once we're done, we can just go outside and walk the strip or take a bus. (Sapphires Strip Club is off-strip, meaning that you'd have to get a ride back to the hotel via cab. They also have the most expensive drinks from what I've read and a huge ATM fee if you need to use it.)

Sign Up for Deals via Email:
After I booked our Vegas package, I signed up for email alerts on our hotels website for special email savings, and boy am I glad I did! I just received an email about a week ago saying that if we booked by a certain date, then we'd get a Coupon Book at check-in with $250 worth of coupons. Well, since we technically already booked by that date, I wanted that coupon book! ;) I called them up, told them about the email I just received & that I'd like a coupon book as well. They said okay, and we will receive it upon check-in. Because I signed up for email specials on their website and was able to score the coupon book, we will be saving more money on things like:

*Buy 1, Get 1 Free Breakfast Buffet
*Buy 1, Get 1 Free Lunch Buffet
*Two Free Casino Cocktails
*$10 in match-play for slots

Just with those coupons alone, we're going to be saving around $80+ on stuff we were planning on doing anyways! Cha-ching! :D

Savings on the Go:
Since I'm already signed up with Groupon & Restaurant.com, I added the apps to my phone so that I can buy discounted food certificates for places near us whenever we get hungry. (You can buy & use the certificates right on your phone!)

That's it for this post! Tomorrow will be a busy day for us as we prepare for our early morning flight on Tuesday, so check back on Saturday for a new post, and make sure to follow me on Twitter, as I'll be tweeting pics from the trip all week long.

Vegas, here we come!! :D

Winter: Friend or Foe

Yes, it's only October, but if you've been to a your local mall or favorite store recently, then you've probably already seen Christmas decorations being put up; a painful reminder of what's to come.

Personally, I hate Winter! I hate the cold-to-the-bone temperatures, the idiot drivers who either drive too fast or too slow for weather conditions, the holiday shopping season (with the exception of Black Friday, which I love!) But I have to wonder, is Winter a friend or foe?

Like everything else in life, there are pros and cons.

*Pretty scenery of the snow, especially on trees.
*Sled riding, skiing, snowboarding..let's face it, it can't happen without snow!
*Hoodies & sweatpants weather..ahhhh tis the season to look like you just rolled out of bed.
*Snowball fights
*Christmas festivities (or is this a con? Hmm.)
*Nothing like snuggling up with a blanket & a cup of hot cocoa on a couch during a snowfall.
*It's okay to be a couch potato because everyone else is during Winter.
*Drinking with buddies around a toasty campfire.

*It's too freakin' COLD!!
*Not that I need to mention it again, but...idiotic drivers.
*Christmas festivities (again, not sure which category to put this in lol)
*Putting on 3 layers of everything just to go outside to walk your dog.
*Getting your car snowed in by a plow truck.
*Boredom sets in from lack of Winter-friendly activities to do.
*Can't drink with buddies around a campfire for more than 30 mins w/o freezing your a** off.
*Why is it only super windy during Winter & not during summer days when we want it to be?

Every year before Winter hits, I tell myself to look forward to Winter and all the stuff that you can only do during Winter time. By January, I'm usually so irritated with all the cold and snow that I start looking online for other states that I can move to that don't have Winters. The only thing that prevents me from making the move is that (1) snow & Christmas go hand in hand for me (I couldn't imagine a Christmas without snow) (2) I love sled riding!! I'm such a kid at heart. ;)

I guess it's up to you to figure out if Winter is your friend or foe. For me, it's a love/hate relationship, one that I will never leave. And I'm okay with that.

Halloween: My Favorite Time of the Year

It is now October, and that means my favorite time of the year is here!! I love Halloween, LOVE IT!!!! I wait all year for it. The haunted houses, ghost hunting, corn mazes, costumes, parties, decorations...ahhh...it's all so awesome!

Every weekend in October, you can find me at various Haunted Houses for the most part, or local cemeteries on a foggy night for the pure scare factor that oddly seems to never go away no matter how old I am. That's what Halloween is all about..bringing up childhood-like fears, whether it be scary clowns (*by the way, I freakin' hate clowns!), or an actor in a haunted house jumping at you from out of nowhere to scare you. It makes you feel like a kid again, and you're never too old to go to a haunted house! As long as I'm alive and I can walk, I will be forever be going to haunted houses.

There was a haunted house I went to last year here in Wisconsin (Burial Chamber Haunted Complex), where they had a Burial Simulator. After purchasing your ticket, you go into a coffin, they close the casket, and you begin to hear your own funeral, including the ride to the cemetery and being buried. The coffin moves around in realistic motions, to give you the sense of traveling on a gravel road, or shaking back and forth as you're 'being lowered into the ground'. It was really something else! Freaky? Yes. Worth the money? Yes. Would I do it again? ...I'm not sure. lol It was mentally disturbing because even though you know it's not real, it just starts to get to you. The thought of being alone in a closed casket, hearing your own funeral, not being able to move, then you start thinking about your own death..it's a mind-f*%# for sure! If you're lucky enough to have one in your area, I highly suggest you go & try it. It's definitely worth the experience.

While I certainly have my favorite haunted houses, my all-time favorite haunted attraction is called Haunted Woods in Waterford, WI. You buy your ticket (*I usually buy a hot cocoa while I'm at it), stand in line outside in a big field with steel drums that have fire in them, and wait for your hearse to pull up. Once the hearse pulls up, you get in with about 8 other people in the back (where the coffins once were during transportation), then they drop you off in the woods where you will have the best scares of your life! Things fly down from trees, actors come out from seemingly nowhere with real chainsaws revving , mystery sheds you are forced to walk through, which sometimes could be pitch-black inside...just thinking about it gets me excited to go back this year! I go every year and it's usually the 1st stop on my To-Do list for the Halloween season.

Tip: If you're planning to go to a haunted house, look on their website to purchase tickets. You can often get them cheaper than at the ticket counter.

If you're looking for fun Halloween stuff to do on a budget, check out deals on Groupon! You can often get Halloween deals for 50% off (or more) per attraction! I just bought a Groupon for 2 tickets for a Corn Maze for 50% off (so basically, buy 1 get 1 free).

It was only $6/person, instead of $12/person. You can download the app on your phone and you can redeem it by showing the person at the ticket booth.

I hope y'all have a wonderful Halloween season of haunted houses, scares, and screams! ;)