Hot Air Balloon Tips

Hot Air Balloon Tips

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If you wonder why some of you see my feature picture twice,  I post it twice so that those who subscribe and read from their emails can see it too. 

In this post I will share a few tips on how to prepare for your first hot air balloon ride. I consider myself an expert now that I have been up in one exactly one time! Lol

Ok so I am not an expert, but I can share a few tips, here we go!

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We were driven to the desert where we watched the balloons being set up and filled with air, they were way bigger than I thought they would be.
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This photo was taken by my friend Sean Miller, he brought his big camera, I just use my iPhone.
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Photo by Sean Miller.

Hot Air Balloon Fashion

The perfect way to ruin your ballooning experience is to show up dresses improperly. Chances are you’ll have to be onsite before dawn; make certain you’re warm enough to get you through till sunrise. We had a few in our group who were cold and cranky before we even got off the ground. I was happy we didn’t end up in their balloon.

The trick is to dress in layers, I had a t-shirt, my trusty black turtle neck and a light fleece like zip jacket. I threw a pair of light gloves in my cross body purse before leaving the house and I actually wore them before lift off. It gets cold in the desert before sunrise.

You also need sneakers; sandals and flip flops are a no, no. And make sure you are wearing socks. When you are in the air, your bottom half can get cold, while your top half gets hot; the big burners that heat the balloon air give off a lot of heat.

You also have to climb into the balloon basket, like literally climb, straddle the side and get yourself inside, so make sure your pants will accommodate this movement. I wore jeans with stretch.

If you have long hair tie it up or wear a hat, you don’t want your hair getting caught up in the burners.

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What Should You Bring With You?

The views are absolutely spectacular, so make certain your phone is charged, you’ll want to take a lot of pics. My friend brought his camera and small case; I had a cross body purse that I use when I travel. There isn’t much room in the balloon basket so just bring a small bag.

The air is cool the higher you go, so I packed tissues and my sunglasses in my bag. They provided us with a bottle of water.

Safety First

You will have to sign a waiver, we had to sign two. The captain will go over the safety rules and will make you practice a rough landing position, aka a crash landing. I obviously knew there isn’t landing gear on these things, but I never really put much thought into how they landed. They can hit pretty hard, bounce and drag before they come to a full stop…oh and the basket can tip over…with you in it.

We had a smooth landing, but I was ready! My knees were slightly bent and I was facing in the direction that the captain had instructed us to face. I took these rules very seriously; I may or may not have “bossed” other passengers to turn around and face the other way??? I can’t really recall for sure in all the excitement, but that could have happened?? Lol

What I found a bit surprising is that the balloon basket is sub divided into sections. So there isn’t a lot of room to move around. This is so you don’t bounce around in the event of a rough landing.

I am not really scared of heights, but I am scared of falling to my death. The basket sides are high, I am 5’7, the side of the basket was mid boob height on me, lol. This made me feel secure; you aren’t dangling over the edge, you are pretty contained.

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You can see the basket dividers in this pic. There is another divider between me and the lady beside me. You can fit 2 people per section.

Enjoy the Ride!

It was such a cool feeling to float, we reached a maximum speed of 12 miles per hour. It was very peaceful and serene. I would highly recommend a balloon ride to anyone visiting, who is feeling adventurous; and to locals who want to see Vegas from above. It was $140, tax included, so not crazy expensive.

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This pic was taken by moi, not too shabby!

The colorful balloons against the blue sky were so pretty it almost looked fake.

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Vegas Hot Air, Sin City Balloon Rides, is the company we went with; they had three balloons in the air that morning. There were a few other balloons from different companies in the air when we ventured out. They look deceivingly small in the air.

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We flew over this balloon, the view and colors were awesome!

We got a great view of the strip in the distance, but the view of the mountains that surround Vegas was spectacular. I am fairly certain most tourist that stay on the strip aren’t even aware that Las Vegas is in a valley. You don’t see the mountains when on the strip.

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Photo by Sean Miller

What Goes Up, Must Come Down.

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I think we were in the air for over an hour ish? Time flew bye, pun intended.

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It’s a balloon tradition to have champagne after each ride. Captain Mike was awesome, all the staff were friendly and made it fun. Side note, captain Mike had the nicest teeth, lol. I felt, I needed to add that completely irrelevant detail… you are welcome!! 😜

I highly recommend Vegas Hot Air Sin City Balloon Rides, tell them Liette sent you. They will have absolutely no idea who the heck I am, lol.

Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any ballooning questions!

Muah!

Liette

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Dim Sum Yum! Chinatown, Las Vegas.

Dim Sum Yum! Chinatown, Las Vegas.

(for my subscribers, if you are reading from your email, click on the title, it will make everything look fancier).

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Lots of cities have Chinatown’s; New York, San Diego, Vancouver are just a few that come to mind, but did you know that Las Vegas has it’s very own Chinatown? Neither did I until I moved here. It’s just two miles from the strip, along Spring Mountain Road.

Anyone who has been to Las Vegas in the past few years is painfully aware that it has become a very expensive city; especially if you are staying and eating on the strip. I encourage you to take a super short Uber ride over to Chinatown. It’s by far the best bang for your buck! And what a yummy bang it is, lol.

Dim Sum

I am not a Dim Sum expert by any means…like really not. I am just a French Canadian girl trying new things and sharing my experiences. So let’s get started; and by started, I mean let’s eat!

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The first advice I was given about Dim Sum, was not to fill up on rice or noodles; so what were the first two items we got? Yup, rice and noodles, lol. The second advice was don’t order coffee, because they serve tea. So what was the second thing we did? You guessed it, my friend ordered coffee; we were off to a great start!

Dim Sum is traditionally served for breakfast, but in the US and Canada, it’s more of a brunch thing.

If you have never been to a Dim Sum, here’s how it works; they roll out carts of food and you select which small plates you want, no menus needed. It’s perfect for sharing, so bring a few friends.

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The carts come out in random order and they keep coming, so take your time. You can let a cart go, it will come back; I promise!

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Chinatown has an abundance of restaurants; we went to Honk Kong Garden, there are two of them, this one serves Dim Sum, see above.

There are so many hidden gems in Chinatown, we have visited a few so far. We used Yelp for a bit of guidance; all have been fantastic and cheap!!!

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The top left dish was shrimp and top right was pork, sorry I didn’t get the official names, the carts were just coming at me so fast I couldn’t keep up, lol.

We ate a lot!! You will leave full, but please save some room for desert.

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Hong Kong Garden is my friend, Michael’s fav restaurant, even though you can eat desert first, he advised against it. So I did wait to eat one of these custard filled rolls until after I was done dim suming (yes, I know it’s not a real word); and omg, it was so good! It was still warm, crusty sugar on top and a gooey custard in the center.

So here is my hard hitting question for you; how adventurous are you? Would you have tried the chicken feet? I passed, but I did try a few new things and like them.

Chinese New Year is quickly approaching, it’s Feb 5th; so Happy Year! This year is year of the Pig, in case you were wondering…you’re welcome.

Thanks for reading!

Muah!

Liette

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Tips & Tricks for Packing Light!

Tips & Tricks for Packing Light

Is it possible to pack for ten days with just a carry on suitcase? Yes! Do I do it often? No! Lol, but I can, I just chose not to most of the time.

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Proof that I practice all my tips included in this post. Me in Paris, getting ready to go out; dressed in black! 

I recently went to Paris with one carry on; here’s how and what I packed.

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Love my new suitcase! My friend Claudia and I got matching ones…just because. 
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Claudia proving that we did carry on. The guy behind her looks super impressed. Chivalry may be dead?? Please note that Claudia follows the same packing rules, she’s wearing her black turtleneck.  Keep reading, it will all make sense ish. lol

The key to having a chic wardrobe is to stick with one main color; my uniform is black, but my frequent flyer and anti-bag checker friend Cindy, prefers navy to black. Do you boo!

The trick is that everything needs to go with everything; when traveling light you need to be focused and plan things out.

My number one item of clothing that I couldn’t live or travel without is a black turtleneck, not in summer, obviously.

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I bought this black turtleneck in Toronto in August. #1. I wore it in Moncton, Canada, in November. #2. Paris in October, #3. Christmas Eve, again in Canada; I wore with faux leather leggings and boots, in case you were wondering; and finally #4. January in Las Vegas, yes it does get cool enough.

My point here is that I have been wearing it for months and I don’t think anyone has really noticed how often I have been repeating it…I guess until now, lol. I paid close to $200, which seemed pricey at the time, but some things are worth paying more for. Go for quality over quantity.

What’s in my suitcase

  • 1 black turtleneck
  • 2 pairs of black jeans, 1 pair of blue jeans, 1 pair of black faux leather leggings and one black pair of yoga pants. If sharing a room, it’s good to lounge in your yoga pants.
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Blazer, 3 pairs of jeans and 1 pair of faux leather leggings.
  • 2 black t-shirts, 1 black and white blouse.
  • 1 black blazer, I worn mine to dinner, it made me feel dressed up and polished.
  • 1 large scarf, mine is leopard. 1 hat and 1 pair of sunglasses, don’t forget your sunglasses!
  • I do all black underwear, my rule is if I am gone 7 days, I pack 9 pairs of panties. 1 black bra, 1 one piece bodysuit, 2 black tank tops and black socks.
  • 1 travel tote bag for the plane, in my previous post, I shared my tips on what to carry in your tote bag, if you haven’t read that post, go read it now…we will wait for you to finish.
  • I travel with a black leather cross body, it’s a men’s Coach bag, I love it!! A cross body bag is a must for travel; make sure it crosses in front of you when in pickpocket areas. I also pack a second smaller leather cross body; I use it for nights out when I just need my wallet and lipstick. I pack makeup in it in my carry on so it is serving a purpose and not just taking up space.
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Invest in good leather bags and they will last for years!! 
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All my bags, for the plane, I put my bigger purse inside the tote bag. 
  • 1 black light weight puffy jacket, depending on where I am going. I didn’t pack for Paris, but did for Canada. The beauty of this jacket is that it balls up into a small pouch that can be used as a travel pillow. The scarf goes in my red tote bag and can be used as a blanket on the plane; planes get cold!!
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Scarf, hat, jacket…check!
  • Black leather ankle booties, black sneakers, mine are Nike and I brought a pair of black knee high suede boots that took up a lot of space; did I need them? No, did I only wear them once? Yes.

Pack it up!

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I rolled up my blue jeans, black jeans, leather leggings and yoga pants. Rolling your stuff does save on space. I do a combo roll and fold; I folded one of my black t-shirts and my blouse. My go to travel outfit lately is a pair of black jeans, black t-shirt and my turtleneck. I always layer up! I also like wearing my Nike sneakers, just in case I need to run to make my connection.

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My toiletries bag looks huge, it’s really not. 

In the picture above, I added my freezer Ziploc with my underwear and socks; and my bag with my toiletries, no liquids!!! Keep your baggie of creams and liquids in your tote bag. You don’t want to have to open your suitcase while going through security, that would be a rookie mistake!! Lol

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I folded my blazer on top and locked and loaded everything in…ok I clicked them in, locked and loaded sounded cooler, lol.

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I have my booties and knee high boots in the other side. I stuffed my hair straightener and other stuff in the boots. Side note, if traveling internationally, make sure you have the proper outlet converter.

My suitcase expands, but make sure you can fit everything in it without expanding, so that if you buy things on your trip…ok, when you buy things, you have some room to…well to expand lol.

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The picture above is what I carry in my tote, again, for more details check out my Flying High post.

In addition to what is pictured above, when I am flying with a carry on suitcase, I add more stuff in my tote bag.

In the bottom of the tote is my jacket, yup it fits!! I also add my larger leather cross body purse. I zip my passport and my iPad in my purse, so this purse in a bag serves as extra compartments. And the very last thing I add is my small baggie with my creams and liquids so that I can take it out quickly when going through security. Please don’t be that person who acts all stunned when it’s your turn to put your stuff in the binds in security….PLEASE!!!

You need to focus or others will hate you!! Joking, a little; put your suitcase on the belt, put your tote bag in a bin, take your liquids baggie out of the tote, lay it beside the tote and take your iPad or computer out too. Take your shoes off and move along!

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Everything has it’s own place and there is nothing rolling around. This tote is great, there is still lots of room for more stuff!  Once through security, I always buy a big bottle of water and shove it in. 

511CE729-062E-41B4-BDF2-FABBAD834D33.jpegYes, I realize my tote bag is almost as big as my suitcase, but you are allowed two bags. The suitcase goes in the overhead compartment and the tote bag with everything you will need during your flight goes under the seat in front of you. It all works!!!

Do you have any packing tips? If so, please share!

Thank you for reading, like and share if you are feeling generous.

Bon voyage!

Muah!

Liette

Nuts for DoNuts!

Nuts for DoNuts! In search of Las Vegas’ best donuts.

Now in the spirit of the new year and in honor of our collective resolutions to eat better…to be better; I am going to take one for the team and taste test one of Vegas’ best doughnut shops…you are welcome!

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Yes I wear glasses and no, I don’t have a lazy eye even though it looks like I do in this pic. Not that there is anything wrong with a lazy eye… oh never mind, lol

We will be taste testing donuts from Las Vegas Donut Bar. They are hugely popular in San Diego and now making waves in Las Vegas. They have great social media buzz; we are going to see what all the buzz is about and we’ll let you know if you should spend the calories and your hard earned cash there.

They are located at 124 S 6th St. #140, which is in the heart of downtown. Having been told that they open early and stay open until they run out of donuts, we made sure to get there early. We arrived and were busy eating before the crowds showed up, so yay us!

My brave volunteers tasters today are Lynn and Olivia.

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Lynn and Olivia, up for the donut eating challenge!

Today’s special was a French toast donut and a grilled cheese donut. I am a lover of grilled cheeses, so I am currently kicking myself for not trying it, but it’s because  I was swayed by the pretty colors and sprinkles of the other donuts.

(OK side note!! Canadians spell doughnut like this, not like “donut” this, lol. I am using the American spelling because I thought “DoNuts” in my title was cute and Las Vegas Donut Bar spell it “donut”. Now we can continue, just needed that out of the way, lol.)

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Sooooo many choices

The staff were super friendly and welcoming; we chose three donuts and Olivia got one free, she’s just that cute.

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We chose the unicorn donut…how could we not??? The strawberry shortcake and the crème brûlée, that’s the smaller one in bottom left, in the image above. BTW the crème brûlée donut is not baby sized, the strawberry shortcakes and unicorn donuts are just extra big. Olivia got the purple spider.

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The reason why I didn’t get the grilled cheese donut was because I thought it would be too sweet. But their actual donut isn’t sweet, it’s very light and fluffy. Even though this donut was massive it didn’t feel heavy, the cream was light, the powdered sugar on top was really the only sweet thing. It was yummy! I should have tried the grilled cheese one though, not doing so is clearly a donut mistake! But the strawberry was delish, will just need to go back to try the grilled cheese.

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Lynn’s crème brûlée donut had a hard sugar coating on top and a beautiful custard inside, mmm!

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Olivia’s purple spider donut was a hit too. Her white shirt wasn’t so white when done, lol.

Being the team player that I am, I gave the unicorn a taste even though I was already full and found it fresh, light, fluffy and yummy!

We are giving Las Vegas Donut Bar, 4 Timbits out of 5! Which is an amazing score, my Canadian friends will get the reference, lol. Their store was clean, staff friendly and the donuts looked and tasted expensive and bougie, but we’re very reasonably priced.

If you are a local, give them a try; if visiting from away, check them out!! They would probably be great after a festive night of out…if you know what I mean?

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If anyone knows of another donut hot spots in Vegas that I should try, let me know! And let me know what your favorite flavor is?

Thanks for reading!! Be sweet and share or like…do you!! lol

muah!!

Liette

Christmas Photo Shoot in the Desert.

Christmas Photo Shoot in the Desert.

On an early…really early morning in October, my friend Sean and I ventured into the Las Vegas desert to take a few Christmas photos. Sean is a great landscape photographer and wanted to practice portraits. I needed a few shots for my upcoming Christmas card, so off we went. Here are some of the pics.

Cover Shot

It’s always best to take pictures at dawn, dusk or when it’s overcast. Sean and I are both from the East Coast of Canada; we didn’t realize how quickly the sun rises in Vegas. Because Las Vegas is in a valley surrounded by mountains, the sun doesn’t slowly rise, it just pops up.

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Sean wanted to try a few shots with the sunlight behind me. I clicked away with my iPhone while he set up.

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The sun peaking out from behind me, makes me look like I am glowing…like an angel! lol. That’s not what he was looking for though.

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This is the shot he was looking for. It looks like it was taken at sunset, but it was taken just a few minutes after the previous pictures above. I think it looks really cool! My head is blocking the sun, making the rest look dark. Well done Sean…well done, lol.

Desert View

This is a classic Sean landscape shot. Different photographers have different ways of working. I am used to moving and the photographer taking shot after shot in quick succession. For most of these, I needed to stand still for longer periods of time…without talking, lol.

My prop for the day was a large Christmas wreath. I still think it’s odd that Christmas happens in places without snow…that seems very unnatural to me.

& magic mountains

These shots in front of the Seven Magic Mountain sculptures were the first shots we took, before the sun popped up, hence no squinting and shadows. These sculptures are 15 minutes off the strip. There were two other photographers taking pictures while we were there. It’s a popular spot!

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I have discovered that it’s hard to maintain a natural smile when standing still.

Wreath

The picture below is of a Joshua trees; there are lots in and around Las Vegas.

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Trying to be artistic with my wreath. 

Here is Sean and his big lens! He now thinks he needs a new camera to go with his big zoom lens. I took all of these with my iPhone; not to brag, but I am a fairly good photographer as well, lol.

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And that’s a wrap!! Thanks Sean!

I will use some of these pictures for future blog stuff. Just wanted to share.

Muah!!

Liette

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Thanks for reading!!