6 Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Las Vegas Vacation

Mrs. Christensen isn’t the only one who went to Vegas recently. I just returned from a long weekend there with my husband and two of our closest friends. We went for a “babymoon”/30th birthday trip for Michael and it was everything we needed and more. I thought, since you’re not likely to find my reviews on TripAdvisor (yes, I use it for planning and I review things too), I thought I’d share some things I learned on my trip or things I did to ensure we had a great time:

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 12.51.05 PMWe loved The Bellagio. First time to stay there for us.

1) Plan out each day
Everyone’s favorite night of our trip was Michael’s birthday night. His best friend and I spent months planning a very full and exciting night for him. Each activity was a surprise. It was so fun. But what we noticed the next night—a night on which we purposely didn’t plan anything so we could just relax and wing it—was that there are so many – maybe too many – options in Vegas. And if you don’t have a pretty firm plan in place, you might find yourself overwhelmed and unsure what to do next. Or, like with us, you might find yourself gambling more than you planned and/or you’ll wander for “miles” trying to decide on the perfect restaurant for lunch. Or you might find yourself at The Bellagio Buffet one night and live to regret it (like we did). It was ew. #LubysLasVegas

2) Stay at a centrally located hotel.
This will cut down on the amount of walking you have to do (saves energy), the amount of taxis you need to take (saves money) and you’ll be right in the heart of the action. We loved The Bellagio for so many reasons. Not only is it nice inside and out, centrally located, beautiful and clean, and classic Vegas, but it’s also one of the nicest, best laid out casinos; it has many of the nicest restaurants in the whole city on site; and it has the most accommodating and friendly staff ever.

3) Try a new restaurant every meal.
Don’t get lazy and just head back to the places you went to last time you were in Vegas. The restaurant lineup is constantly changing and improving, and there are so many new celebrity-chef eateries to try that you could never get to them all, even if you ate five times a day. Our favorites among the many places we tried were:

  • PRIME at The Bellagio – I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing and worth it it was to dine here. $200+ for two, but AMAZING (try the peppercorn new york steak with a side of au gratin potatoes and the brocolli w/pistachios).

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 12.50.47 PMIMG_5255-0PRIME on Michael’s 30th birthday.

  • BurGR at Planet Hollywood (try the Jalapeno Poppers, the Jalapeno Margarita–it’s really spicy and strong, and any of the burgers. We each got something different and loved them all.).
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The flaming sign outside BurGR. This is definitely a casual spot, and it was packed even though we were eating a late, late lunch at 3:30 p.m.

  • Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesar’s Palace – The BLT is to die for! Also, the lamb burger is supposed to be amaze, but our boys weren’t impressed. (BTW: We aren’t obsessed with Gordon Ramsay, it just happened that we went to two of his restaurants while we were there.)
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The BLT—The bacon was so thick and covered in a yummy glaze!

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 12.52.32 PMAt Yellowtail with my baby. 

  • Spago at Caesar’s Palace – I say go for a nicer lunch and people watch since it’s at the Forum Shops, but dinner is popular there too. We shared the most amazing pizza (one of the best we ever ate) and a caesar salad (just average). The pizza we had was their Italian Sausage & Goat Cheese pizza; try it!

IMG_5176This was the first official picture I took on our trip.

4. Don’t bother hiring a VIP nightlife service.
There’s no need. Club promoters are out during the day looking for nicely dressed people and groups with cute girls to give free entry (and often free drinks) to. We got on the list at the Encore Beach Club, The Bank, Hakkasan, etc. just incase we did end up wanting to go. By getting on the list with these promoters two things happen: 1, you don’t have to pay the expensive cover charges and might get a couple free drinks out of it, and 2, you’ll get to walk right in past all the lines. We decided to go clubbing one night and DID use a service – at Tryst at The Wynn for Michael’s bday night – and it was great because we knew we wanted to go to that exact club. If you don’t really care where you end up, don’t bother with a service, cause you’ll get in a bunch of places for free without their help. You might not bump into a promoter for the exact club you’re hoping for though, so being flexible on where to club is key.

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IMG_5292Pics from Tryst on Michael’s bday night.

5. Stay three nights MAX.
Michael and I broke this rule because it was our first trip away from Baby Grace and we wanted a couple extra nights of uninterrupted sleep (thank you Lord!), and so that was awesome. But the reality is, two “wild” nights in Vegas is sufficient. That’s enough time to scratch your Vegas itch for the year, as well as gamble just enough not to lose your house. It’s time enough to try a few great restaurants, do plenty of shopping, and even get in some golf or pool time.

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 12.52.50 PMScreen Shot 2014-10-08 at 12.52.57 PM

IMG_5189 IMG_5195A little golf with my honey the first day at TPC Las Vegas!

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Mimosas by the Bellagio pool Saturday. One of my favorite parts of the trip.

6. Go with good friends (friends who like the same kinds of things as you).
You don’t want to go to Vegas with certain people (you know who they are). Don’t bring the guy that wants to stay up till dawn every night and club hop if you’re not into that. If you’re a foodie and want to dine at the latest and greatest, be sure you’re with people willing to spend the dough to dine with you. You get the idea. Friend trips are so amazing, especially when you go with friends like ours (heart y’all!), but it can get a little uncomfortable if you or your friends are secretly not interested in the same things or don’t have the same mindset about money (like taking taxis v. walking, seeing a show v. gambling all day …) Vegas brings out all sorts of personalities (for me, I spend money on vacation like I’m rich and get home to remember I’m so not, while others come with a strict budget and need to stay on it. That person and I wouldn’t have as much fun together on vacay, prob. LOL).

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Such good friends!

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 12.52.40 PMFortunately, Jen and I both love to shop…her even more than me….
and we both got an early start with Tory Burch shoe purchases (I got these) Friday night!

Ok, so that’s my advice. Take it or leave it.

Now… off to New York I go (trip 2 of 2 commence!).

In My Suitcase: Bridal Week in New York City

Being an editor in the magazine biz — while not the most lucrative career — does have it’s perks. One in particular: Business trips. Usually my job doesn’t require these, as I run state and regional magazines, like Arkansas Bride. I mainly stay close to … Continue reading

Breast Milk Popsicles: Cooking Up a Teething Cure

So many good ideas are exchanged at the hair salon. Case and point: At my latest beauty appointment, the hairstylist inquired about my baby and, of course, the stories flowed. One of the things I shared is how Grace is teething pretty bad, and in an effort to avoid baby medicines as much as possible, I was thinking about ordering a bunch of different teething toys from Amazon (like this one, and this one here).

That’s when she told me about an idea she’d seen on Pinterest – breast milk popsicles!

Sounded like something that might work, so I immediately went home to try it. I figured it’d be pretty easy to do too. Well… I was right! Here’s all I did:

1. Pour breast milk into a few ice cube tray holes. I just filled them a tad more than halfway because I wanted to make sure she could fit them in her mouth later (but not too small that she could choke on them). Or you can try one of the many versions of this from Pinterest. The pacifier idea seems neat.
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2. Cover really good with ice tray cover or press and seal wrap … Something you trust to protect it from freezer burn. Let the freezer do it’s magic.

3. Pop out and put into a teether toy like this one.

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Or this kind here.

4. Pass it off to baby for them to teeth and suck on and enjoy.

5. Store the extras cubes for later.

I guess the breast milk is just a good lure to keep the cold on their gums and in their mouth. I know Grace likes teething rings but they lose their cool sooooo fast and other items like those aren’t fun for very long and she just drops them in exchange for her hand. So these popsicles are great for her cause she loves her milk! I love that she actually keeps it in her mouth and gnaws on it long enough for real lasting relief… Or so it seemed. Haha

She clearly loooovvvvveeeees this idea, and so do I! 🙂 Here she is enjoying them!

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Gotta love this reaction! She was IN. TO. IT! 🙂

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IMG_4990.JPGHappy mommy and baby selfie because of our successful little breast milk popsicle experiment!

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I only made three cubes this go-round, so I only had to stow away two cubes for later, but I’ll be making a tray of extras ASAP so she’s never without one when she’s having a bad teething sesh.

IMG_4992.PNG I’m gonna try this flavor combo next because Grace loves, loves, loves the bananas I made her! (I’ll have to post next time about my adventures in baby food making! 😎)

A Nursery Filled With Love (Because of You)

IMG_2806.JPG Photo by Lyndsey Sullivan Photography

The sweetest part of my day is the time I spend with Grace at bedtime.

Sitting there, rocking her in the nursery, feeding her and whispering softly to her, or maybe not even making a sound, it’s just soothes me so.

I never expected to come to need that time for myself too. Those quiet, serene, love-drenched moments truly recharge me after a full day of work and baby rearing.

Often times, once Grace has dozed off after her bedtime bottle, I remain. Holding her. Staring at her little face. Thinking about how much I love her. And as she falls deeper asleep, I find myself looking around the dimly lit nursery.

What I see, beyond the reddish starry-sky night light, is the generosity of others – of the people who care about us and filled the room with its contents.

I see my 3rd grade school teacher in the humidifier she gave us. The one that helps keep Grace’s sniffles at bay each night.

I see all of Grace’s grands when my eyes land on the gorgeous crib and dresser. Pieces that will stay in our growing family’s home for years–probably decades. A constant reminder of the love they had for Grace, long before she was born.

I see my sweet friend Kami in the two little fox jars keeping the changing station organized and tidy. She found them and just had to get them for Grace’s fox accessorized nursery, even after she’d already gotten me a gift and helped throw me a shower. Those jars now also remind me of how eagerly she watches Grace for me sometimes. How she knows I have no family in town and lovingly wants to help (and cuddle a cute baby).

And my eyes always wander to Grace’s closet. The rocking chair is right next to it, so it’s hard to miss. Usually ajar, I’m able to see the fullness of all the racks. I bring a picture into my mind of the monogrammed sleep sack my neighbor had made for Grace after she was born. And I picture–cause it’s dark and I can’t see it–the clothes with little whales that my Grandy so excitedly picked out. The effort put in by Susanna who made baby clothes by hand. Her excitement to give gifts always makes me smile.

Each night, my thoughts hop about to various items in the room and an overwhelming feeling of gratitude fills my heart. I just can’t believe how many people cared enough about us to give us the things we rely on to care for our baby.

I mean, really. When you stop to think about a shower gift you are giving … You’re gifting new parents with the things they will use to pour out love on their new baby in the form of feeding, swaddling, changing, bathing … Parents use those things with love. They help create a bond between parent and child. Each item adds to the collective, and that collective powers us parents along. It gives us the tools to lovingly care of our babies.

So it’s not just a gift. It’s a beautiful, generous, amazing thing.

And that’s why, sitting there, with my innocent little baby asleep in my arms, I can’t help but take a deep breath and send up a prayer of thanks to God for it all. A prayer of thanks for you and your giving hearts.

Thank you for helping me raise my baby.

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Photo by Lyndsey Sullivan Photography

Today’s Post from Mrs. & the Misc.

I was going to write a wonderfully insightful post today…    but I’m a new mom.

I was going to pump for my daughter three times today at the office…    but I’m a new working mom.

I was going to dry my hair this morning…     but I’m a new mom.

I was going to finish editing all these stories today…    but I’m a new working mom.

I was never gonna be like this when I had kids…      but I’m a new mom.

And I get it now.

The end.

Signed,
Mrs. Irvin

word cloud mom guilt DTB

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Three Months Later… We Have a Baby, Whole New Life

All the Mrs. have been MIA for a while … big stuff happening. Two of us had babies, in fact. Three months since my last post, and since the birth of my daughter, I’m finally returning to share this part … Continue reading

The Nest Revealed: Peach & Gray Fox Nursery for Our Baby Girl

THE NURSERY It’s finally time to reveal the nursery we’ve created for our baby girl. Yesterday marked my 38th week being pregnant, which means I have a maximum of three weeks left (that’s a week extra if she’s late). Your … Continue reading

A Fox-Themed Baby Shower for My Girl

After a foxy baby shower here in Little Rock in January, and a sweet office shower the week after that, it came time for me to return  home to Dallas to reunite with some of my closest hometown family and … Continue reading

My Prize-Winning Soup Recipe: Jalapeño Popper Chicken Chili

Last week, our office hosted a SOUPer Bowl Cook-off Lunch in celebration of last weekend’s big game. Employees were invited to enter a soup in the running for a $50 first-place gift card to Target or a $25 gift card … Continue reading

Third Trimester Update: Maternity Photos, Showers & More

35 WEEKS It’s been an eventful past two months. I’m sitting here one day shy of 35 weeks  pregnant with about 5 weeks left… figured I should check in now and show you how things are going. THIRD TRIMESTER 28 weeks … Continue reading