Saturday, May 31, 2008

Ethel M. Chocolate Factory Tour

Just outside of Las Vegas, about 10 miles from the MGM Grand is the Ethel M. Chocolate Factory.
I've wanted to go by there every time we go to LV and this was the year!
Besides it was Mother's Day and mothers get to do what they want and they want chocolate!

Here is the first poster......... which tells now chocolate is made.
From the cocoa plant, harvesting the seeds, drying the seeds

Since it was Sunday the actual Chocolate making room was empty.
But here are pictures of the copper kettles for making the brittles and caramels.

Next are the mixers for making the creamy centers. Circular silver tubs with the white bottoms.

Then are the cooling tables for pouring out things to cool on the long tables
Frank Mars was the founder of Mars candy. M&Ms, Snickers, etc.
Ethel was his wife's name.
She wanted to make gourmet candies so she started her own factory.

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A Day in Pompeii and Natural History Museum

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

7:35 p.m. Do you know where your camera is?

Who knew that my camera went across the street at approx. 7:35 p.m. to take 18

pictures of the neighbors' cats??

I'll only bore you with one of them.

Friday, May 16, 2008

10:45 a.m. Prince Caspian Movie

We are off to be first to see the "Prince Caspian" movie @ 10:45 a.m.

We read the book in 2 days, then watched the DVD of LWW to get us even more excited for the new film.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

have you tried for free e-books?

I was browsing yesterday and thought I'd remind you of it.
Look around at the free books. Then you make a wish list "Queue" and then download 3 books a day; up to 30 in a month.

I got the activity books for Leonardo da Vinci, the Greeks, Romans, Colonial & Pioneers

There is a whole Medieval Series

This is a remake of a Mexican or So American Folk Tale. For the kids, I read it yesterday..... it also has pretty artwork.

I'm ordering the solar system book
We'll be doing Astronomy soon. We are finishing up Zoology 2 by Apologia and will do Astronomy next.

Today I got the Myths & Legends
James is into Greek Myths and we've been reading those. I like having different versions of tales for comparison readings.

I think he will like "Jamestown Discovered". Written about the archaeological dig of the possible Jamestown location.

And his Shakespeare group may be doing "Taming of the Shrew" next.

And how about Grey's Anatomy for science of the human body?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

Yummy chocolates chosen at the factory and hand packed.

They made it 333 miles home too!!

Top left 2 are Raspberry filled, next 2 are orange.
next column are 4 peanut butter
then carmel with the silver one being coconut
2 Margarita flavor
creme brulee, tiramisu
pina coloda
2 toffee in gold foil (like roca)
and a chocolate covered almond bark.

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Cactus Garden @ Ethel M Factory

The Botanical Cactus Garden outside of the Ethel M Chocolate factory just 10 miles from Las Vegas, NV

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Kiddie gambling

"Kiddie gambling" @ Circus Circus

Derek was pretty good at this game.
You get 5 balls and shoot 1 at a time and they fall through the pins. You have to catch it in a U shaped handle.
He caught 3 most of the time and once he caught 4.
3 won an alligator. Then he traded 2 alligators in for a manta ray.
4 automatically won a manta ray.

He played once more to take home an alligator.
The pig is from throwing darts.

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Treasure Island hotel Las Vegas

We were hoping to catch the pirate show outside Treasure Island but it was cancelled.

So I took some fun photos of the kids instead.

We took "the Deuce", a double decker bus from the MGM to Circus Circus.
It took quite a long time, because the bus stops every few blocks and just sits and waits......
It cost $2 for adults and $1 for kids over 6.
Cheaper than a cab I'm sure.

After having fun at Circus Circus watching the VERY brief circus acts that occurred every 1/2 hour or so, we started walking back, and walking and walking.

We made it to the Fashion Mall and there was an Italian restaurant on the corner.
I wanted to check out the Mall map and found a CA Pizza Kitchen. With kids, a familiar restaurant, especially one they have been asking to go to, is easier to convince them to eat.
Yes I have children that don't want to eat, unless it is that golden arches place for one of them.

After dinner we went into Macy's and I found the Croc sandals I was wishing for.
Then we kept walking to the Treasure Island and waited around, asking lots of people what happened to the 7 pm show. It was cancelled and the next show, at 8, would probably be cancelled too.
We kept walking.
The Volcano at the Mirage is under construction, so there is nothing there to see.

We crossed over to the Venetian .....

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The Venetian hotel & shopping mall

Views of the outside of the Venetian Hotel. Sorry it is dusk and hard to get a sharp picture.
You can take a Gondola ride around the outside and then the ride takes you inside the mall.

The water and gondolas come right into the Mall you can watch them go by as you are shopping. There are tunnels, which are bridges around the mall. The gondolier sings to the passengers in the boat. We didn't look into how much it costs. I think it is $15-20 a person.

Geoff and the boys opted to take the Monorail back to the MGM. Katie & I stayed to go shopping in the Grand Canal Shops.
Her goal: Haagen Daz ice cream cone.
My goal: Dooney & Bourke store!
We became lost and went the wrong way a couple times but finally found our way to the D&B store. When we walked the the salesman (Scott) recognized the bag I was carrying from their store last year. We chatted about how much I like that bag and wanted another bag similar, but in another color. (Mother's Day is tomorrow) He gave me a $50 coupon. whooo hoo. Happy dancing!
I found 3 bags I liked, then narrowed it down to 2. I was trying to decide and he passed me off to a saleswoman. She was also very helpful. She suggested another design and all the colors it came in.
I changed my mind to her suggestion. Which was better anyway. The purse I was looking at was $235 and this one was $175. The coupon was for a $200 purchase. So I chose a wristlet that was $45. So it put me over $200 and basically I got it for Free.
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lions playing at MGM hotel

There is a glass tunnel and the lions are most often lying on top of the tunnel.

Everyday we went by the Lion enclosure at the MGM to see what the lions were doing.
Today they were playing with the trainers and balls.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Adding to my croc collection

I finally got a pair of sandal crocs called "Cleo".

I was going to get the black ones, but decided to get the brown & pink.
I got them at Macy's in Las Vegas. There were croc carts in the malls but they didn't have my size. Plus I had a Macy's coupon for 20% off. yeah.
I love them. They are light as air and I even wear them to church!

I've had the blue ones for 3 years. I wear them EVERY DAY!
I forget I have them on and just come and go.. sometimes I hop in the car and go "OH, I 've got my crocs on!"
They are the most comfortable shoe ever. I mainly wear them as clogs and prefer to have socks on.

The red ones were from my mom last Oct.
We went to Disneyland and her feet were hurting so she bought them for herself.
After a few weeks she decided they were too big for her. She had 2 pair already, so she passed them on to me.

The flip-flops I got @ Costco in Hawaii in december. I don't like them as much. The rim of the shoe in the front is higher than the bed where your toes are and my toes slip forward and bump the rim. They are OK> I wore them walking all around Las Vegas.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

The long haul.... I mean Hall

Imagine you had dinner,
sat through a spectacular show.... "KA" by cirque du soleil (click to see a short preview video)

and drank a super big gulp margarita...........

and you are not able to run ...

at least the kids ran ahead of me and

unlocked the door...of room 136.

This is the view from the room back to the elevators....way way down there.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Guess where we went??

Las Vegas!!

From our house it takes about 5 hours.
300 miles

This is our 4th year visiting.

For 3 yrs we stayed at the Monte Carlo. But last year they were doing construction behind it to build "City Center" and the noise was unbearable. We had to change rooms. We tried that first because we didn't want to be changing hotels if we could avoid it.

We like the Monte Carlo hotel for the kids. They let you make reservations for a family of 5 persons.

It has a wave pool and a lazy river. The lobby has Mc D's and Starbucks, pizza, ice cream....

This year we are trying the MGM Grand.

It has a lazy river and a couple pools.

Pictures of New York, New York Hotel across the street from MGM.

MGM Grand Hotel

I liked it fine, but it was a LOT of walking to get to the pool. You have to go down the entire "Food Walk" to get there. Past fancy restaurants, like Emeril's and Shibuya (a sushi place), Craft Steak (Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio's restaurant)and Sea Blue. There was also a good sandwich shop.

For the kids there is a mini food park with a McD's, Nathans Hot dogs, Pizza and Starbucks.
Guess where we got food for certain children who love pancakes and nuggets.....everyday?

The prices were outrageous! The normal latte at that S place here at home is like $3.60 and there it was $5. plus tax. yikes!

The Lazy River at the pool was fun. I liked jogging under the water around it keeping up with the flow of the river and the kids. So I got a bit of exercise in.

Wed night we arrived and went straight from our room to finding the pool. It was about 4:30. The pool was closing at 6. ? Oh well, it was great to cool off, relax and then go out.

We went over to the Excalibur Hotel. They have a bottom floor that is a carnival, full of kiddie gambling games, where they can win tickets or stuffed animals.
Each of the kids won 3-4 animals and Geoff won a big stuffed lion in a grabbing machine.
After that we went upstairs to the Krispy Kreme store to watch donuts being made. The kids had donuts.
We went back to the MGM and went to the Rainforest Cafe. Geoff ordered a steak & shrimp dinner, the kids shared some fries and I ate his soup.

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Wanderlust strikes again...

There are lots of sickness bugs going around, and I've caught the travel bug.

I had it last year too. I planned for weeks and weeks for an across the country Amtrak adventure.
You can buy a month long ticket on Amtrak and see the country.

After a while the $$ started adding up in my mind and I dropped it. For a while.

One of those "travel for cheap" emails came thru from Jet Blue and snagged me.

We could fly from Ca to NYC for $318.
The game is on! I'm thinking this September or early October. After the heat of summer and maybe after school starts. The joys of homeschooling! We can go whenever we want.
ANY ADVICE on the best 2-3 weeks to come out that way??

Next comes checking out books from the library: see photo :)
Asking friends' advice, mapquest, travel guides online, reading other blogs, reading Yahoo questions, posting a question, Fodor's Itinerary ideas.....

The plan right now is definitely Washington, D.C. and NYC. Then over in mid New York state to see my brother and his family, the Erie Canal and Niagara Falls.
I'm also looking into seeing Philadelphia and Boston.

Anyone with advice on getting around once we fly to the East coast. Rental car, train, bus or flying?
With gas prices .... I'm thinking about Amtrack again. I don't know how much airfare will be going up.
The month long pass on Amtrack is a great deal, but we would have to pay extra for sleeping cars, which I think we would want. At least we could easily fulfill the "enter Canada" rule because we would be going to the Niagra area of New York.

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