"My mind sees that I am nothing, my heart sees that I am everything, between these two poles my life unfolds."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Middle Earth News

Are you getting excited yet?

The world premiere of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' took place in Wellington, New Zealand yesterday and an estimated 100,000 New Zealanders turned out for the celebration -- and what a celebration it was, with all the stars and production crew (including Peter Jackson of course) there as well.

'The Hobbit' won't be out in the theatres here until December 14th and I don't expect to see it myself till a number of days after that - I will wait to see it at a matinee showing, after some of the hub-bub has died down.

As most of you may recall, I was blessed this past May/12 with an unexpected journey of my own, when I was given the opportunity to travel to New Zealand (& Australia) and while there, visit the official Hobbiton movie set. If the truth be known, I still haven't come down yet!

For anyone who has still not yet seen the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy, you have my sincerest sympathies, lol! When you finally do see it, you will realize just WHAT you've been missing... maybe all your life :D The Hobbit (which is also going to be a trilogy), is in effect, the backstory to The Rings trilogy.

Above are a few postcards and a pendant I purchased in the gift shop situated on set.

It's a rock with the form of a silver tree inset (carved) into it, for which I paid $80... but it's from Hobbiton - so it was worth it and I truly treasure and wear it quite often. It came in the little leather pouch you see. Aside from a few postcards and a fridge magnet, it was probably the only thing I could realistically afford in the entire shop. I had hoped to purchase 'The One Ring,' but the cheapest ring there was priced at $800! There was a line of Elvish clothing, with some truly gorgeous pieces (wool capes for example) that were around $1000. Middle Earth sure is pricey!!

Here's a shot from inside the gift shop, which was much tinier than I'd expected.

Hobbit mania has apparently gripped everyone in NZ.
Yesterday, the weather was announced in Elvish, for the very first time ever!

When you have the time, check out my Middle Earth page, which I've put back up. I had foolishly deleted it when I took my extended bloggy-break back in August, but I managed to source out almost everything I previously had on it - and a few new ones. You'll find the link under my header pic.

Oh what I'd give to board this airlines again...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Are You Driving Your Neighbours Crazy?

We really like you Dan - but could you please move your van?

The other morning while my husband and I were having coffee, the subject of why our neighbour Dan, insists on parking in front of our house (despite the fact that he has both a driveway and a garage) came up once again. For some reason, this really bugs us!! Poor Dan - if only he realized we don't want to look at his van every day, right outside our front window - no matter how lovely it may be.

I got to thinking afterwards that we can't be alone in this. I expect everyone has something that drives them crazy about their neighbour. Small, ridiculous, petty complaints. It's inevitable.

Our neighbours on the other side also irritate us in tiny ways that they are, in all likelihood, completely unaware of. They seem like very nice people - that's why we wonder why they only cut their half of the green strip we share between our driveways - while JJ Hubby cut the whole thing for years (now he only cuts our half, lol!)

When we first moved into this home, close to 12 years ago, I remember these same neighbours shaking their heads at the previous homeowner, who liked to vacuum at 11 pm, with a very loud built-in vacuum system.

This all makes me wonder what WE do that drives our neighbours crazy... ! I bet Dan doesn't like that my vines start to crawl under his fence by about mid-June every summer. Especially since he literally doesn't have a tree, bush or flower in that backyard to speak of - another thing that really irks us, haha!

As for our neighbours on the other side, it could be anything - maybe I water too often or too long. Perhaps we don't pay enough attention to their dog when we happen to meet them on the street (that dog creeps me out for some reason - it's quite unfriendly itself). I bet they suspect I try to avoid them when we are all outside at the same time. I admit I do - I am an introvert, after all!

This isn't to say that over the years we haven't had to address some issues; we've had to politely work things out with Dan on a number of occasions - he regarding where our drain spout was pointing - we regarding his drainage hose. But these are legitimate concerns. How do you go about telling your neighbour where to park? You don't - you just chew about it over coffee :D

Well, what does your neighbour do that bugs you? What do you suspect is driving them crazy about you?!!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Viva Las Vegas, Part 2

Lol!! Here I am, living it up in Las Vegas! Do you like my new bikini top? I think I may be in danger of a wardrobe malfunction if I don't watch out... :D Until my visit this summer, the above is what used to spring to mind whenever Las Vegas was mentioned,

or this. 

When in fact, this was more my experience.

I really enjoy taking a guided tour whenever we visit somewhere new. I think the insights a tour guide imparts are invaluable. On the first part of our tour, our guide walked us through many famous and incredibly beautiful hotels, sharing the history behind each and pointing out many, many details we would never have found out on our own, simply wandering about. As well, we were driven all around 'The Strip', visited the famous Las Vegas sign and toured a bit of Old Las Vegas (which included the quickie wedding chapels Las Vegas is known for). Today's post, I'll share pics from my favourite four of the hotels we toured: The Cosmopolitan, Wynn, the Bellagio and Palazzo. I feel it only fair to warn you ahead of time that although I've whittled down to a few select pics for each, it's still a fairly heavy picture load nonetheless.

1. The Cosmopolitan

The Cosmopolitan which opened in 2010, is the strip's newest hotel. It cost a whopping 3.9 billion to build and boasts 2,995 rooms. Like all the hotels, (they are essentially resorts) it is a world unto itself with it's own casinos, nightclubs, pools, restaurants, convention rooms, spas, stores and an 1,800 seat theatre all nestled under one roof!  

Some of my pictures didn't turn out, but I am posting them anyways. There were a number of these stunning glass towers in the foyer when you first walked in - a photograph simply can't do them justice.

As you can see, this hotel is all about the opulence. It's very Art-Deco in style.

You are looking at 6 million individual Swarovski crystals in this chandelier. It was otherworldly.

2. Bellagio

When the Bellagio opened in 1998, (to an original construction estimate of 1.6 billion dollars), it was the most expensive hotel ever built and is now considered to be one of the world's most spectacular. My neighbours, who visit Vegas at least once a year always stay at the Bellagio. They love it and I can certainly understand why.

In the lobby you are greeted by this astounding murano glass ceiling entitled 'Fiori di Como'.
I wish I could remember what it's valued at... a lot!

Built around a garden theme, there are flowers and fountains throughout.

The hotel contains a Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. As well, a Gallery of Fine Art.

It's a sight to bee-hold :)

The Bellagio has been the setting for a number of movies, including: 
Ocean's Eleven & Thirteen, Rush Hour 2 and 21.

The above picture is comprised entirely of living plants! It's watering system is housed within the frame.

3. Wynn

The Wynn, built by developer Steve Wynn (who was also responsible for developing the Bellagio), is a luxurious, visually stunning hotel - which is why I am surprised I didn't take more pictures of it while I was there... !! I think I was overwhelmed. 

It opened in 2005 to the tune of 2.7 billion. On a side note, it sure makes you wonder the amount of money that Vegas must bring in on an annual basis.

4. Palazzo

The Palazzo Waterfall & Atrium Gardens

When it was completed in December 2007, The Palazzo displaced the Pentagon as the largest building in the United States in terms of floor space! The 1.8 billion dollar resort is reported to be the eleventh largest building in the world, in terms of available floor space and is also currently the second-largest building in the Western Hemisphere.

The sheer scale and opulence of everything in Vegas far surpassed anything I could have imagined. 

Hope you enjoyed our walking tour. Viva Las Vegas, Part 3, will have us move outside for some street scenes. I will try to keep the picture load down.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Viva Las Vegas

When JJ Hubby turned 50 in August, we celebrated this milestone by heading to the city of fun, sun & sin, Las Vegas, Nevada. Our son, David (now 27) & daughter, Caroline (25) accompanied us, making the occasion even more memorable. I know a lot of people visit Vegas regularly (something we now hope to do as well), but this was our very first time there and in a word: WOW! 

What's interesting is that up until my brilliant idea (if I say so myself) of doing up Dan's 50th in true style, we had no interest at all in visiting 'Sin City'. Our preconceived notions of what Vegas was (insert hookers, strippers, all those stories of people gambling their homes and retirement funds away) had held us back for years from what turned out to be an incredible experience. There's SO much to see and do, that you needn't be tempted to spent even one dollar in a casino, unless that was your thing - some people really enjoy it and are responsible to set and keep themselves within a daily limit.

We took an official tour of the city, saw a number of shows (The Mentalist, Criss Angel & Cirque Du Soleil), visited Hoover Dam and soaked up some rays by the pool. I can't wait to go back just to lie in the sun - it reminded me again of the first time I stepped out of an airport in California many years ago into that glorious warmth enveloping you like a blanket, right through to the bones. For someone who'd always lived in northern Canada, that intensity of heat was seriously mind-blowing.

 Yes, but it's a dry heat!

I plan to share few highlights of our trip with you over the next number of posts (not necessarily back to back), including pics from a fabulous botanical cactus garden we toured on our way back to Las Vegas from Hoover Dam.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ways to Enjoy Winter More, #1

Snow gear is so much more forgiving;
you can always blame your winter coat if you're looking a little 'hippy'!

Don't be alarmed - we don't have quite this much snow here yet, lol - this pic is from January, 2012!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hanging On For Dear Life...

I have flabby thighs, but fortunately my stomach covers them.
~ Joan Rivers

Yesterday while sitting in line at a car wash, I glanced in the rear view mirror and suddenly realized I am in desperate need of an earlobe lift! When did this happen? My poor (obviously) strained lobe is now paper thin and my earring is in imminent danger of literally falling through!!! Gravity, combined with many years of wearing heavy earrings has taken it's toll folks. I'm falling apart; crumbling (or should I say melting) from the top downwards. In the words of Kramer, "Don't look at me, I'm hideous!!!"

Realistically, we have to make certain concessions every few years as we age and I'm guessing my days of dangling earrings are soon to be behind me. In the meantime, I've worked out a compromise. The above are very light and camouflage my 'problem area' quite nicely. Pretty soon though, I'll be wearing stud or button earrings and then probably the dreaded clip-on, if my lobes even last that long...

Stumbling across this pic made me feel a whole lot better about my predicament. 
Angelina has obviously had to make the same difficult choice - and she's younger than me!

The thing is, I never had much lobe to begin with - you may recall I previously discussed my condition here. Woe is me, I should have taken better care of what little I had, lol!! But isn't that just the way - you never truly appreciate what you have until it's gone?!!

Makes me wonder what's next to go - perhaps some of you older readers (I'm 49 - and barely holding) would care to enlighten me. To any younger readers - quickly now, form a line - there may still be a chance we can save you!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

You Really Can't Judge a Book By It's Cover

Isn't this just about the cutest book (& most intriguing title) you've ever seen? A few weeks ago, a friend lent it to me - I'd been with her when she purchased it and had waited impatiently for her to finish till I could get my greedy little paws on it! Thankfully she's a fast reader :) I was feeling quite excited as I drove home with it tucked in my purse, immediately made a cup of coffee and expectantly dove in... well, you guessed it: Disappointment - with a capital D. I won't go into my reasons for not even attempting to finish - tastes are so subjective - ironically though, the title, which first attracted me in the first place, perfectly sums up the whole experience, lol!

What was the last book you abandoned like a mouse rat from a sinking ship? 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Weird Homes

I am fascinated by weird homes! A few years ago there used to be a regular tv series by the same name (now cancelled), whose host travelled all over North America featuring the oddest homes you could ever begin to imagine. In many cases they were inhabited by the most endearing characters, as well. Perhaps you remember this series yourself? I was sorry to see it go.

I hope you also love the odd, the strange and the bizarre when it comes to homes...? Moving forward, I'd like Weird Homes to become a regular feature - hey, if nothing else, maybe we can all get some decorating ideas!

This short (1 minute) clip features the world's narrowest home, 
which was recently built in Warsaw, Poland.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Shame On You!

Are you sick of this meme yet?

With all the pet shaming pics out there, it's getting really hard to choose..!
Hopefully here's a few you haven't seen yet :)

Yes, but do you have to look so proud of it?

The buddy system at it's finest!

This may be the one and only crime that could (possibly) shame a cat!  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

This Weather Is For The Birds!

When I was out shovelling yesterday afternoon (in the middle of a snowstorm) I heard the unmistakable cries of Canada geese overhead. They were making their getaway and if I had wings, I'd have joined them. It started snowing first thing in the morning - a very wet and consequentially heavy dump - and it never let up all day - I ended up shovelling 3x's in a futile attempt to keep ahead of the game! You can see how dull & grey the sky was.

I do love the winter wonderland of a fresh snow, provided I don't have to travel in or shovel it.

I got to wondering where the expression 'for the birds' comes from and found out there seems to be no definitive answer as to the origin of this avian insult. The closest I could come to an answer was that it originated as US Army slang towards the end of WWII. "That's for the birds" is a shortened form of the more vulgar version "that's shit for the birds", in reference to the habit of some birds pecking at horse droppings in order to find seeds. Lol, just thought you'd like to know!

I noticed a few hearts formed up against this post - do you see them? I guess it's not all bad after all :)
I've decided to try to look for ways to appreciate winter - we have many months of it still ahead...

#1: The spiders are sleeping!

Hope you're warm & dry where you are.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bird's Nest Soup, Anyone?

Seeing as this is my third 'bird/nest' reference in as many posts, I'll bet you're wondering how much longer I'm going to keep this going... me too, hehe :)

I have a obsession deep fondness for tree houses. In fact, all odd houses delight and spark my imagination; be they hobbit holes, fairy houses, gnome homes (which can be found under old trees, in renovated rabbit holes or even under pine-tree roots, in case you were wondering) or teeny-tiny people homes.

Here's a tree house in Thailand of a different sort - a dining pod set high above the forest floor. Imagine the bird's eye view you'd have from these dizzying heights. Once customers are seated in their nest, they are hoisted up six metres by a series of safety winches.

Here comes our waiter now, courtesy of a zip line!

 I guess they don't have to worry about D&D here!