So Long 2014!

What a year it has been!

This has also been one of the worst years for my health. It seemed like I was ALWAYS sick this year. Getting a cold every other month, multiple sinus infections and also bronchitis. In that aspect I’d say I’m disappointed and hoping that 2015 is an improvement. Other than that, it was a pretty good year full of big events and lots of traveling.


I got to go on a girl’s adventure! Going to Vegas with my cousin Anna was so great. It had been way too long since we’d traveled together and it turned out that one of my work friends was also in Vegas during the same time so we all got together for a great show. 😉



It was a trip that I really needed and I love Vegas so much. The weather was fantastic and lounging poolside with drinks was a dream come true. Vegas is a place I could easily go to every single year. Maybe this is the winter weather speaking here but damn, I need to be back in Vegas poolside SOON. I never get sick of that city.

Trying New Things

Kayaking the Willamette River had been on my “to do list” for so long and I finally got to do it! It went well and I got more experience kayaking in Hawaii on our honeymoon. I am determined to make 2015 a year of kayaking! Michael is on board with this, too.

Canning Salsa had been on my “to do list” for several years, too. Ever since we started planting our own vegetable garden. Well this year I finally CANNED the stuff I grew! And it turned out well. I was surprised at how much fun it was canning stuff. I canned salsa, tomato sauce, raw tomatoes, I even made jalapeno jelly. All of those creations were a hit with people I gave them to as well. Next year will include a lot of new canning adventures.

Ran a 5K

After years of battling various injuries and flare-ups, I was able to run a race again. It took me pretty much all winter/spring to train for it. I know that 5k’s are pretty easy for most people but after being “out of it” for so long and not doing much running on a consistent basis, it was a really happy moment for me to be able to run another race.


I did have to take a few walking breaks, but my time wasn’t too bad and I finished it! I felt strong and was able to keep running the rest of the year injury free!


Yep! After a year and a half of planning, the wedding was finally here. (You can see the Engagement Pictures if you missed them.) And that of course included the Bachelorette Party! The Bachelorette Party was amazing and just perfect for me. I was really happy my close friends planned such a fantastic day and everyone could participate. Lots of happy memories there.

The wedding finally arrived and it was even more wonderful than I had fantasized about. We are STILL getting rave reviews from guests who loved the food and music and said it was the best wedding they’d been to. That kind of positive feedback makes me happy–all the stress of planning was worth it. (You can read the wedding posts here: The Wedding Details – Part 1, The Wedding Details – Part 2, The Wedding Details – Part 3, and Professional Pictures are Here!.)


It’s nice because I still love looking at our beautiful wedding pictures and when I hear certain songs on the radio that were played at the ceremony/reception I do get a little teary-eyed. I’m a softy, what can I say. So yeah, I’d say the wedding and honeymoon was the “big deal” for 2014!


What can I say about Hawaii? It’s paradise, of course. The weather was hot and sunny but not so humid you felt stinky. The flowers were aromatic and gorgeous. The sound of the ocean waves hitting beach while we enjoyed our breakfast on the lanai every morning is something I missed the second we returned home.


We did so many amazing things in Hawaii and one of the happiest memories I have is Michael actually running with me! Like, wow, that’s a huge deal. He is not a runner, has never expressed any desire to start running, but he joined me a few times on the honeymoon for a run along the ocean. How great is that? And of course, swimming and snorkeling in the warm ocean rates pretty high on my list.


After spending 9 days on a beach in Hawaii all I want to do is go on tropical vacations. Beach life is necessary!

2015 Goals

Get back to 145 pounds. That was my weight for many, many years. Then shit happened, including a glorious honeymoon where I ate and drank everything in sight, and gained a bit. When I got back I had about 15 pounds to lose. It was a hard road and I lost a bit, gained a bit, lost a bit. 2015 is going to be an easy, low-key year, I know it. I will focus on losing those extra pounds and get back down under my goal weight. I know I can do it. I did it a few times before. I just need to buckle down. Here comes the

Do more kayaking. I got the kayaking bug! It was so much fun the few times I’ve done it and now all I want to do is do it more. Of course I’m a wuss when it comes to weather so this goal will have to wait until summer time. I’m just not willing to spend hours out in the rain for this!

Travel. I have a trip planned to Tucson in the spring for my friend’s wedding. Other than that there are no major trips planned for me yet. Michael and I have been talking about where to go for our wedding anniversary in September. We talked about visiting the East Coast. I’ve always wanted to explore the historical towns and go to museums. We were originally planning a trip to Philly, Boston and New York but I think that might be a little too much–too much money, too much time away from home. We are currently discussing making a mini-trip and going to Philly (to see my brother and his wife) and then exploring Washington DC. The other destination discussed was Mexico and New Orleans. I have to admit, I am leaning more towards sunny, warm places! Stay tuned!

What were your 2014 highlights? Any New Year’s Resolutions?

Your Guide to Las Vegas

Las Vegas is a crazy place. Even if you aren’t a gambler, I recommend at least one trip in your lifetime simply because it’s such a wondrous, nutty, extravagant place. For example, my parents aren’t gamblers at all and don’t drink, but they’ve been to Vegas a few times (my mom checks out the art galleries and my dad golfs).

Vegas is what you make it. You can go there and completely avoid alcohol and gambling, and still have a fantastic time. There are amazing shows, decadent restaurants, cheap restaurants, and hilarious people watching. Besides, where on earth can you visit Egypt, New York, Paris and Venice all in one day?!

This post is about some of my recommendations and reviews from my experiences. I’ve been to Vegas four times and had very different trips each time.

Where To Stay

My advice: stay somewhere ON The Strip. Trust me, you’ll wish you were right in the middle of everything. First, it’s more fun there. Second, cab rides to the Strip are expensive and add up fast. Save money by paying a little bit extra to have a good location. I cannot stress enough how much of a difference the location makes.

Imperial Palace –

I stayed here the first trip to Vegas. I was with my cousin Anna for my 25th birthday.
Pros: Fantastic location! It’s on the Strip and right in the middle of everything, across from Caesar’s Palace. It was super cheap.
Cons: It’s old, the casino is rundown, smokey. The rooms were kind of like a Motel 6.

The Luxor –

I stayed here with my friend Robyn. Unfortunately the hotel was under major construction so it wasn’t that nice, the construction was loud and annoying and kind of a pain. I’d probably never stay there again.
Pros: Affordable, on the Strip, decent restaurants in the hotel, there’s a free tram that stops at the casino to make it easier to get around, the gym was really nice but you had to pay $25 a day to use it.
Cons: It’s kind of far from everything so there’s travel time, either walking or taking the tram. All those windows in the pyramid? Yeah–it made the rooms insanely hot. The gym was expensive.

The Palms –

Michael and I stayed here for free, otherwise we never could have afforded the place. The room was luxury suite, around $250 a night! Pricey but gorgeous.
Pros: The expensive room was amazing, the bathroom was bigger than the bedroom with an amazing Jacuzzi tub.
Cons: It’s off the Strip and an expensive cab ride every time, the casino was too expensive.

Monte Carlo –

Michael and I stayed here recently. It was a great place to stay.
Pros: It’s close to everything on the Strip, walking distance to MGM and NYNY. The rooms were decent but a bit dated. The gym was decent but small. The casino ventilation was fantastic–not smokey at all.
Cons: The pool area seemed to be in the shadow of Aria and City Center, which could be good or bad. The gym was supposed to be free, but we got there and there was a $20 charge to use it for the weekend, which felt misleading.

MGM Grand –

This was where Michael stayed for years. I think he’s been there at least half a dozen times. I’ve never stayed there but I saw his room.
Pros: Great location, lots of fantastic restaurants in the MGM, decent casino.
Cons: Rooms were old, they are doing construction currently to update the casino and the rooms. They got rid of the lions, which kind of sucked.

When To Go

My first trip was January and I’d packed all Portland weather clothing. When I arrived it was in the 80’s and had to buy a completely new wardrobe!

My second trip was in July and it was hotter than effing hell. So hot. Not quite miserable, but seriously, the heat was like a wall.

My third trip was in November. The days were nice and warm, high 70’s, low 80’s but the evenings were really cool–sweater weather.

My recent trip was in April. I had mixed weather–thunderstorms, humidity and rain for part of the trip but the weather was still warm. Two of the days there it was sunny, clear and 75-80 degrees.

Where To Eat

There are too many fantastic restaurants to go to all of them, even in multiple trips. You can eat well on any budget in Vegas, but my advice is to splurge at least once on a nice restaurant; it’s quite the experience. One tip: do NOT eat the pizza at New York New York; it was the most vile pizza I’ve ever eaten.

Craftsteak – I’ve gushed about this place too many times to count. It’s my favorite restaurant in the world, and probably always will be. Amazing meals. Expensive but worth it.

Wolfgang Pucks – I’ve eaten here for lunch and dinner and had great meals both times. This place has great food and is more affordable “fine dining.”

Tao – I have very, very happy memories of this place. I went here with my friend Robyn, Michael and his friend Jeremy. It’s a sushi restaurant and a nightclub. The atmosphere was romantic, trendy, modern and just totally cool. This is the place where I learned to love sushi. Expensive!

Luxor Buffet – I went here for breakfast with my friend Robyn. I remember the food being decent and the options were varied. Middle of the road in cost.

‘Wichcraft – It’s a sandwich place in the MGM by Tom Collichio. It was pretty good but not the best sandwich I’ve ever had.

Monte Carlo Cafe – This was a nice breakfast place. I liked it a lot and we ate there twice. I recommend trying the Cajun Eggs Benedict with andioulle sausage. It was delicious!

Margaritaville – The food wasn’t anything special or memorable but there is outdoor seating right on the Strip.

Hard Rock Cafe – Overrated. I felt like the food was basically a Red Robin and the service was awful.


Things To See/Do

Cirque du Soleil Show – I saw the Beatles Love show and it was breathtaking. What an amazing, amazing show. Wow.

The Wynn – It’s worth taking a peek at because it’s so new and beautiful. If you’re there, enjoy a cocktail “lakeside” next to the waterfall.

The Bellagio Fountains – It’s free! I love the Bellagio fountains. The show runs every 15 minutes or so and it’s beautiful and fun. I think they usually play Frank Sinatra music and the show is better at night.

Tournament of Kings at Excalibur – I did this the first trip and it was SO much fun! It was cheesy but I still liked it. At the time it was about $45 per person and it included dinner (that you eat with your hands) and the Knights of the Roundtable show.

Art – There is art everywhere and some of it is free. Definitely check out the Bellagio, The Wynn, The Venetian and Caesar’s Palace for some amazing art and decorations. The casinos themselves are art too.

Stratosphere Rides – Apparently there are rides, sky jumps and bungee jumping there but I will never do that. Eeek!

New York New York Rollercoaster – Not a fan of rides or heights, so I skipped it. My cousin Anna did it and loved it.

Venetian Gondola Rides – It’s on my “to do list” but I haven’t done it yet. There’s rides indoors or outdoors and it looks very romantic!

Fremont District – I’ve never been. Every trip I plan on going but don’t. It was the “first” Vegas.

Las Vegas On A Diet

Since this is a blog about weight loss, maintenance and exercise, I thought I would cover this topic. Someone asked me how I enjoy Vegas when I am trying to stay on my food and exercise plan. I understand how someone on a weight loss plan would be nervous about going. There is temptation everywhere.

You’re in luck. Vegas is a walking city. The casinos are an illusion–they are so massive that you think they are super close to each other and just a short stroll down the street. That is not the case; the walking you’ll do in Vegas will burn off your drinks at the blackjack table, trust me. Not only that, the casinos themselves are humongous, easy to get lost in, and take forever to walk through.

Most of the newer, nicer casinos have gyms in them but most cost extra money to use. I usually spend the money to get in a workout. But you can also take your fitness outside. When I stayed at The Palms I went for a run outside and had a great time.

Now, the food. The food is the hardest part because there’s so much good stuff everywhere you turn. I didn’t feel guilty about anything I ate because I was on vacation, I worked out first thing each morning and was walking everywhere. I’d be surprised if I gained weight.

Splitting entrees in Vegas with whomever you traveled with is a great way to save money and calories. And if you are in the middle of a training plan when you go on vacation, you can still find time to get your run in! Vegas mornings are really nice in weather and less crowded and fun to run outside in.

I avoid the buffets as much as I can. For a recovering binge eater, a buffet is not a good place for me.

QUESTION: What’s your favorite Vegas tips that I missed? Are you planning on going to Vegas someday?