Is it that time of year already to be in new season, new ideas blog mode? I think there’s still plenty of the present season to home decor show and tell about, but the window of summer is beginning to close. We will say so long to outdoor living, patio parties and summer soiree home decor finds that will disappear from our favorite store sites and shelves. On the bright side however, one of my favorite words, clearance, is heading to a home decor department near you in the very near discount future. I’m beginning to hear the rumblings of fall is right around the corner retail chatter. With all the inspired ideas floating around for the upcoming blog season, I find I’m not quite ready to throw in the summer beach towel just yet. The summer of 2015 has been a stylish one, and has turned out to be an interior decorating and home decor success in terms of trends and retail offerings.
Home accents, decor and furnishings markets are gearing up to reveal what’s new for the upcoming fall season in decorating trends and home decor. Interior decorating, tailgating times, holiday happenings, fall colors on parade decor accents and accessories suggestions and inspired ideas to dish and decorate around will follow, and I for one can’t wait! The summer blogging pace is slowing down for a few weeks in anticipation of a full-on fall preview. I am looking forward to things to come, and hope you will tune in for the Places In The Home fall 2015 design and decorating show and tell. I promise it will not disappoint.
Today’s blog post is brought to you by the letter R for rental refresh upgrades. The conversation of late between mama and papa Places In The Home and our soon to be college graduate son heading up to the Great White North to begin his career has revolved around rental property viewings, interiors, exteriors, accents (eh?) and scads of all things house that make a home (rented or owned) furnishings. This is the time of year when thoughts of apartments, condos, townhomes and single-family houses for rent and rental refresh upgrades begin to take center stage in the minds of college bound students, career starting college grads and newlywed couples. According to recent real estate and business reports, millennials trend more toward renting than buying.
The genius of internet listings, video viewings, real estate apps and Skype proves an essential tool in locating a property. With a few clicks, well placed phone calls and virtual tours, our son has successfully rented a two story Victorian-era style home. Now comes the fun part- the rental refresh upgrades. He and his girlfriend are currently in putting a stylish spin on his new abode mode. This is not our son’s first time at the rental rodeo. He knows all too well renting comes with caveats, and property management firms have rules and code restrictions that must be adhered to. Addressing the aforementioned right off the bat clearly defines the can and cannots. Fortunately, the home owner is on board with the updates and rental refresh upgrades our son wants to do to the property.
Fresh paint rules the rental refresh upgrade playbook. I ran across this quote yesterday and it really hit home.
“Color is the least expensive thing to put in a house.” —Ruthie Sommers
Color often gives the biggest return on your interior decorating investment. Paint is an instant update and covers a multitude of previous tenant color choice sins and the scuffs, streaks and uh-ohs made when moving out. As a housewarming gift, Mr. Girlfriend’s Dad is painting the entire interior and key exterior areas of the house. Going with a neutral color palette allows more breathing room in regards to accents and furnishings. Landlords and property managers love neutral palettes, and come closer to approving the request for painting with this color choice.
My inbox is experiencing a high volume of before, during and after pictures. It’s exciting to be in the loop, share in the progress and to be asked to be a part of the process .
Does it makes sense and cent$ to make updates and improvements to a rental property? Absolutely! Focus less on the fact your new residence is a rental and more on the fact that your new residence is where you call home. All things house that make a home come together to make the out of your own pocket rental refresh upgrades worth it for the sake of your comfort, convenience and personal style touch.
So worth it rental refresh upgrades good to go as in take it with you when you go ideas range from a programmable thermostat, stylish mirrors in bathrooms, accent rugs, light switch and wall plates, cabinet knobs and pulls, new shower head(s) and focal point light fixtures to exterior walkway lighting, planter boxes and a decorative mailbox. Renting or buying, it really is amazing how a sense of personal style, displaying objects of individual interest and decorating with accents that capture and convey your personality makes a house a home.
Who’s ready for summer? The first day of summer officially arrived yesterday. No calendar needed. It was hot, it was outdoor living at its finest, it was an excellent party guest! Summer is on tap.
Dave the Builder snapped the pic of my brother’s freshly cleaned swimming pool right before he dove in. A cool summer splash revives the mind and refreshes the body on a hot summer afternoon. All winter long we wished for summer, and believe me, the great genie of hot with a huge dose of humidity granted our wish. Do be careful what you ask for.
I am seriously considering developing a signature paint color in a stunning shade of pink to pay homage to my first true color love. The name of my paint color? I pink therefore I am. I have a long history with the color pink. My first design and decorating endeavor dates back to the late 1960s, when my very brave and trusting Mother allowed me carte blanche with the paint color and wallpaper selections for my bedroom. The standout feature of this wallpaper was the texture. The colors and pattern design captured the flower child chic groovy sign of the times, but it was the the texture of this wallpaper that made an impression on me.
I love the summer of 1968 movie With Six You Get Eggroll, starring Doris Day and Brian Keith. Inspiration is everywhere, and evidently it was at the movies for me. I don’t believe it a mere coincidence that my bedroom design and decorating choices closely mirrored the master bedroom of the McClure residence as shown below.
Summer is a three month fest of vacations, outdoor living it up entertaining, interior updates and refreshes with summer colors, patterns and textures and relaxing on the patio, porch or deck with a cool beverage embracing the lazy days of summer. Who’s ready for summer?
Lost, destroyed, misplaced. These are not the words we want associated with the photos of our lives. A couple of weeks ago I received an email from my have camera, will photograph uncle with these blast from the past photos attached. Tears rolled down my cheeks for the memories and thankfulness to have these back in my life as we know it photo file once again, grainy finish and all. I have titled this blog post the decorating way, way back. For the hip and happening hashtag crowd, let’s go with #WaybackWednesday on this #ThrowbackThursday eve.
These photos were taken at our old house. Originally we purchased this house as an investment property, but it made financial and logistical sense (and cents) to just move into the property while we were in all out renovation mode with our present home. On this particular afternoon in early 2000 when these photos were taken, family and close friends gathered back at our home after the funeral of my maternal grandmother. My grandmother, a self-made woman and antiques dealer extraordinaire, taught me the world of antiques. I see her everyday when I glance at the many items given to us by her and proudly displayed throughout our home. Dave the Builder and I have always been big on including family mementos into our decor. Decorating with what you love makes a house your home.
The decorative anchors of the fireplace mantel consist of two of my most treasured treasures.
The vintage rose bowl was an anniversary gift from Dave the Builder. I spotted it in a friend’s antiques store and commented to Dave how I wished I could find one similar to it in our treasure hunting rounds. As soon as I opened the anniversary gift and saw the rose bowl I knew its new home would be on the fireplace mantel. Of course, this was before my graceful handling resulted in its chip and crack demise.
The Hull Magnolia ewer on the other end of the mantel was Dave the Builder’s paternal grandmother’s. When Dave and I first started dating he was using the ewer as a doorstop. A doorstop! Dave, this is an exquisite, mint condition piece of American pottery. Please visit your local home improvement store for all your doorstop needs. It is a sheer miracle the ewer did not end up like the rose bowl.
The den was painted in Sherwin Williams Fired Brick. The photos cast an altogether different color.
This is the dining room in our present home painted in Fired Brick. Lighting is key to true color reads.
Addresses, hair colors, waistlines and fashions have changed over the last fifteen years. Trends have ushered us toward painted furniture, neutrals as color and new traditional modern. If I had to do the interior of this particular style home all over again, I don’t believe I would change too much of the original interior selections. They say you can’t go back, but you can remain true to your personal interior design and decor style without apology or comparison. It’s called decorating with what you love.
Making things pretty on a penny is always a subject of interest to me, clients, friends, family and judging from the emails I receive, most of my readers.
The summer retail season is heating up, and the stores, outlets and online sights we love to call favorites are rolling out seasonal finds much to the delight of decorators, designers and gotta have it guys and gals. Seasonal decorating is nothing new, but the items in which to accomplish this mission of home decor beautification are. Summer style spotting with pen, paper and bookmark icon ready to jot and save is proving to be successful on the summer finds front. Here is the first round of the Gotta Have It List summer 2015 edition.
H & M continues to impress with decorative accents big on visual quality and style at an affordable price. You just can’t go wrong with an accent piece in the decorating darling duo of black and white. A classic color combination paired with a trending pattern in pop of zebra detail places this ceramic jar accent at the top of the Gotta Have It list summer 2015 edition.
Named after English architect Charles L. Eastlake, the design of this late 19th century style of furniture is one of my least favorites. This mass produced style is actually more of a “in the style of” interpretation of what American professional cabinet makers serving as master furniture designers deemed an authentic replica of Eastlake’s design. Charles Eastlake was not impressed with the results. Mr. Eastlake and I are of the same school of thought. His words say it far better than mine.
“I find American tradesmen continually advertising what they are pleased to call Eastlake furniture, the production of which I have had nothing whatever to do, and for the taste of which I should be very sorry to be considered responsible.”
~ Charles L. Eastlake
That being said, the Eastlake style chair in the above image from Style Me Pretty demonstrates how a chic update can transform an otherwise dated piece into a hip and happening accent chair focal point. Not all antique furniture pieces are prime candidates for paint, but in the case of Eastlake furniture I say pick it out, shake it up and paint it pretty.
Late summer means treasure hunting days at one of my favorite haunts, Korner Shoppe Antiques. This gem of a joint is full to the gills with my kind of treasures, trinkets and trash. Inspiration struck as I perused the shoppe’s Facebook page so I did what all deal dreaming decoristas do- I sketched out plans for an upcoming project around copper pots and pans.
One very brilliant episode of Mad Men placed Howard Johnson’s back into the thoughts of a generation of hungry Americans who ordered up cups, plates and scoops of American fare under the iconic bright orange roof.
Memorial Day signals the beginning of the summer entertaining season. That’s ninety some odd summer days and nights brimming with opportunity to gather together with family and friends. Is there a summer is here big party blowout in your Memorial Day weekend future or is the plan for something in the neighborhood of quality over quantity for just you, yours and a few close friends? Here are five tips to help you master the summer entertaining season.
Summer Entertaining Season Tip #1
Regardless of the numbers involved, the ultimate party favor you can give to you and your guests is an enjoyable and relaxing time. Endless hours of planning and preparing does not a successful party guarantee. However, what does come very close to guaranteeing a successful party is setting an at ease example. Guests usually take the party lead from the attitude of the host and/or hostess which sets the tone for a comfortable let the good times roll atmosphere.
Popular points of culinary and entertaining interest set an inviting place at the summer table. I like to take my tablescape in a casually elegant direction. I know there is quite a bit of considerable thought put into achieving the anything but uptight, stuffy finished result through the right accents, lighting, selected place settings, serveware and flowers, but I want the memo to read effortless chic. This look is achieved with simple finds from my usual haunts- antiques shops, new to you shops, dollar stores, arts and crafts stores and the always handy in-house treasures, trinkets and trash closet. Visually impressive table settings need not be an expensive or exhausting endeavor.
Summer Entertaining Season Tip #3
Kick off the summer sippin’ season with the unofficial official fruit of summer, the watermelon. Watermelon Strawberry Citrus Sangria, anyone? Dazzle the thirsty through sight and taste. Nothing says welcome to our summer soiree quite like a cool summer appropriate beverage.
Shape via Joy the Baker
Summer Entertaining Season Tip #4
Summer just isn’t summer until something is basted, marinated or smothered in a stellar Southern BBQ sauce. In Louisiana we don’t need an excuse to jazz it up, fire it up and kick it up, but if we did, summer would be all the excuse needed. Good barbecue is what we call summer stock. We aren’t afraid to turn up the heat, spice or seasoning, but when entertaining we dial back the kick to a respectable c’est si bon level to accommodate the taste bud timid. Good cooks and even better hosts know a little goes a long way in the flavor department and account for all tastes considered.
Summer Entertaining Season Tip #5
Balance is key. Entertaining mirrors interior design and decorating in regards to balance. When selecting the music for the party playlist, I aim to keep the types, styles, genres and decades balanced somewhere between current hits, grooving to the oldies, what movie is this from, smooth and easy jazz, lounge lizard standards and the soundtrack to high school and college days gone by. Balance the bar to the standard rule of party planning with help from the handy drink calculator from Total Wine & More. Balance safety with responsibility. As always, drink and host responsibly.
Inspiration is everywhere made good on its promise this Mother’s Day. Dave the Builder heard the something out of the ordinary call, gifting me this most unique and exquisite Italian heather plant for Mother’s Day. This visually striking plant in all its classic pink and green color combination glory is summer planter poised and ready. Giving thought to what type of planter befits this beauty, the usual suspects in my traditional rotation failed to impress. It appears a decorating style metamorphosis is taking place, a planting the seeds of change decorating 180.
“In gardening, architecture, landscape design and interior design the principles are interchangeable – or, at the very least, highly adaptable.” — Charlotte Moss
The preferred decorating style of choice at Places In The Home is traditional with a twist, but styles and tastes evolve as they should, and mine are no exception. If only on an experimental basis for the fresh and updated look of it, try introducing one or two accents, colors or patterns from a different decorating style to the space. A decorating 180 turns up the volume just enough to keep things visually interesting.
I paid a visit to the Hopefully Classic warehouse (storage unit) a couple of weekends ago to do a bit of shopping. Shopping from within is a tremendous concept. I become reacquainted with items in the inventory, an afternoon of hunting and digging for treasure qualifies as an excellent workout and the prices can’t be beat. I pulled a set of decorative concrete planters (one of which is shown in the above image) to pair with two small boxwood plants I bought marked down at Lowe’s. The picture does not do the planter justice, and as stunning as these planters are, do these lovelies qualify as my personal decorating 180?
Hold the phone! This Orlandi Statuary basket planter may be all the style sashay towards a decorating 180 needed to calm the winds of change. The style deviation is subtle enough not to overwhelm the process while staying true to the traditional foundation. Throw the eye a curve ball every now and then and hit a style home run.
First up we take a look at our house favorites, the marble and natural stone kitchen sink. Marble and natural stone sinks impress the eye with a timeless and tasteful touch of luxury balanced with performance capability. The porosity of natural stone makes this material easily susceptible to stain which gives pause to some when considering the use of these types of sinks.
Acidic and oily substances will penetrate the surface of the natural stone leaving a stain to deal with. Over time the patina of these sinks “rests” and becomes a perfectly imperfect design feature, one that accentuates the natural beauty of the stone.
Vintage beauty merges with modern function in the home of Braxton Dixon, the master builder behind the iconic homes of country music legends Johnny Cash and Tammy Wynette. Implementing one-of-a-kind architectural elements into the design of his houses sets these works of building and designing art apart from other exterior and interior standard house designs. This is most prevalent in Mr. Dixon’s choice of a kitchen sink in his Tennessee home. A vintage copper candy kettle becomes an architectural showpiece, kitchen sink and unique focal point all-in-one while remaining true to the original integrity, storied provenance and design style of the home.
What do real estate and sink placement have in common? Location, location, location! The optimum placement for a prep sink is adjacent to or across from the stove and refrigerator and for good reason- that’s the area of the kitchen where the prep magic happens. The prep sink is the single most helpful kitchen design feature I have ever become dependent upon in the context of cooking, baking and recipe creating.
Convenience and usefulness alone make it easy to understand why I am a huge fan of the prep sink and consider it a kitchen design necessity. I look forward to the addition of a prep sink coming back into my kitchen culinary life sooner than later.
Although these sinks come in both single and double bowl models, the features of the single bowl model seems to make it the most preferred, especially when it comes to the ever popular farmhouse design style. Sink size does matter in the day to day KP duty routine we all endure, and the width of the farmhouse sink is a natural fit feature able to hold dishwashing court with pots, pans and bake ware of varied sizes.
Let me also clue you in on another well known design advantage of the farmhouse sink. When there’s too much dish at the end of your I’m pooped out day, the depth of the apron-front sink works fabulously to your advantage as it conceals many a dirty dish. That’s my kind of sink oh d (as in design) my oh kitchen sink styles celebration!
All good things and great vacations come to an end. Tripping Down Memory Lane Spring Break Trip Report Part III winds down our 2008 spring break trip to Las Vegas in getting back to Vegas basics style.
Filling In The Vegas Days and Nights: Hotels, Casinos & Restaurants
Spending the afternoon at Venetian surrounded by copies of and renditions of famous Italian works and decor was the plan for our Thursday afternoon. The machines, bonus rounds and green felt covered tables will take a backseat to sightseeing and lunch at Grand Lux Cafe at Venetian.
People often comment negatively in regards to Grand Lux as a dining choice while in Las Vegas. “It’s a chain. Why in the world are you eating at a chain restaurant?”
How do we love Grand Lux Cafe? Let us deliciously count the ways:
The food is always excellent. See images above.
The menu offers a wide variety of delicious something for everyone dishes.
The dining room design and decor is lovely.
The price is right.
If it ain’t broke…
I did not break with my dining at Grand Lux tradition ordering the seafood salad and a shared order of double-stuffed potato spring rolls. Dave ordered the fish and chips and gave it 4 forks out of a possible 5 review. The casino at Venetian was packed. I played $1 Top Dollar slots with no big wins. Dave didn’t fare too well at the tables so he was in hot pursuit of a $1 Double Top Dollar slot machine to play. We both love Top Dollar and Pinball. I did not receive an ounce of respect, love or pay from the numerous Top Dollar or Pinball machines I played during this session. I now fondly refer to them as “sucker machines” and Dave now fondly refers to me as a sore loser. If it was in the cards for me to be a loser, at least the rocking band playing at La Scena (casino floor lounge that sadly is no more) was churning out some fantastic music. Win, lose or draw I like to get my boogie on. We have boogied to really fantastic lounge acts playing the casino lounges. That part of old Vegas is slowly going away too. My parents tell of the now famous singers they saw years ago in Las Vegas when the entertainers were up and coming lounge acts.
I got it together earlier than usual so we could be on our way to lunch at the Paris Le Village buffet.
I knew I would want to play before lunch and also figured the line to be seated could be rather long on a Friday afternoon. I could not squeak out a win, but left the casino floor for the buffet line even. That’s always a win in my book! The lunch at Le Village was good, but this is a buffet that shines at breakfast. Dave pointed out the French onion soup and I informed him I had worked the French onion soup enough for a while. However, the crepe station did call out to me and I answered apple with raspberries, blueberries and crème fraîche, se il vous plaît. 5 forks out of 5 very French c’est si bon forks.
I packed the room up with a cup of in-room brewed strong Louisiana coffee in hand. Traveling with a coffee pot isn’t for everyone, but we do it for two reasons. In extremely short order after my eyes pop open in the morning and my feet hit the floor or carpet I need coffee- hot, fresh and Louisiana strong. I also like to have a cup or two in the afternoons or early evening when we are relaxing in the room before dinner or a show or just regrouping. The other reason is pure economics I swear we would go broke by the third day in town feeding our coffee fix. A fellow Vegas travel nut cued me in on a coffee pot travel tip.
There are several Walgreens and CVS locations up and down the Las Vegas Strip. Pop in a pick up a coffee maker and supplies and ignore the initial sticker shock investment. It will pay for itself within the first day. If you don’t want to contend with packing it up and carting it home, simply leave it in the room. Easy peasy. It is ridiculous what hotels charge for coffee ordered from room service or in the coffee shops, and speaking of coffee shops- coffee shops are quickly becoming an extinct dining option on the Strip. I am not the biggest fan of the buffet, but for breakfast dining the beverage selection and cost included reasons this to be a reasonable option. Dave went down to visit with the host with positive results. We checked out over the television and said goodbye to Treasure Island.
Our host at the Rio met us at VIP-Diamond check in and assigned us a room in the Ipanema Tower. The room reminded me of the suites at the Stardust we loved. These rooms impress me more in terms of size and layout vs decor. Various tell-tale signs give the age of the property away, but nothing we can’t live with for five nights. We got our gambling on for about an hour, and finally I declared victory with a $$$ win on a five-line .25 3X 4X 5X machine in front of the performing stage. Cocktail service at Rio was fast and frequent. My server took my Coke order. “Is Pepsi okay?” My “not in this lifetime” answer produced a chuckle on his part. I changed my order to a Shirley Temple (I was on the hard stuff this afternoon) and returned to my play. In a flash he returns with his own version of comedy with a “You had the ice-cold Pepsi?” I spun my seat around to find him standing there holding my ST with the biggest grin on his face. We both laughed and he became my cheering section for a big win. The time clock was ticking for me to be back to the room to get ready for Cher. Time clocks can be a good thing or a very bad thing when gambling. It was a good thing this go round and the $$$ win money made it to the room.
I covered the Cher experience in a previous installment. We hit The Cheesecake Factory in The Forum Shops for our post show dinner of a shared pepperoni pizza, strawberry shortcake and two glasses of Riesling. Very tasty.
Happy Birthday, Dave! Shopping for birthday gifts and perhaps something new for both of us to wear to the birthday celebration dinner this evening is the plan, and Vegas knows shopping. Dave was a sport and kept me company while I spent the afternoon shopping at the Fashion Show Mall. Starbucks supplied our very light lunch break of shared pastry and coffees- just a quick bite of something to keep a headache at bay. Our plan for the birthday celebration evening was for a quiet and relaxing dinner at the Range Steakhouse at Harrah’s (presently Ruth’s Chris). We enjoyed dinner at The Range so much on our last trip. We were seated by the window and with James as our waiter (requested). His personality and professionalism adds to the evening. Dave started with the lobster bisque and I selected the blue cheese and fresh apple salad. For our entrees we both ordered the 12 oz. center cut pork chop and shared Yukon gold mashed potatoes. The manager knew we were celebrating Dave’s birthday and sent over the most fantastic chocolate cake with strawberries and coffee for two. The food presentation and preparation was done very well. The service and the wait staff could not have been more professional or friendly, and it all equaled a memorable birthday meal in Vegas.
We were dressed and waiting in the Rio valet at 8:15 AM Wednesday. Trust me, I am not the up and dressed and ready to greet the day while on vacation kind of girl. By the time of day and level of enthusiasm, Dave realized I was serious about this slot tournament. I grabbed the keys, gave the valet a good morning hello and it was touchdown Flamingo events area.
The tournament was open to all Total Rewards card holders so Dave put down a few $20’s and we were registered for 10:30 AM, 11:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 12:30 PM, 1:00 PM, and finally 2:00 PM. Wow! That’s a lot of hope and fun packed into a late morning and early afternoon at the dirty bird, and you would think we had a snowball’s chance in the desert of winning. Goodness knows as many times as we entered we sure thought we did! We didn’t even come close to placing, but we had an absolute ball trying.
The last day in Vegas gives me a pit in my stomach no words can describe. Staying busy cures it. Gambling for this trip was officially over. I had not been able to win enough to make it accumulate over what I started with, and the wins were too far apart from each other to save me. I find it is easier to swallow if I quit without too much damage to the initial bankroll. The suggestion of In-N-Out Burger for lunch and a business mixed with pleasure venture was met with no complaints. We headed out to dine in style and visit a few design and antiques shops.
We saw parts of Vegas new to us, and I lucked up on a few items I could easily pack. We grabbed a couple of coffees, parked and watched the airplanes landing and taking off from McCarran International. I must admit after nine full days and nights in Vegas this was a nice change. We caught a couple of afternoon fountain shows at Bellagio and it was Monte Carlo time.
Dave and I discovered the Wizard of Oz penny slots complete with flying monkeys, the yellow brick road and the wizard himself. The graphics and sound effects are amazing, and Oz turned out to be a magical place. I put in a $5 voucher and cashed out with $$$ for a nice win. The beautiful Glenda appeared to me in bonus round goodness resulting in the big hit. I could become addicted to these machines with no problem. There’s no place like home and Vegas on a sunny winning afternoon.
The Friday going home wake up call came at 5:30 AM with coffee shortly after. We checked out of Rio and at the car rental return by 9:15 AM. We were through security and to Continental gate D 20 with fifty minutes to spare. I took in the final sights of the Strip from my window seat on the airplane. I settled in for the three-hour flight with good tunes, better memories and big plans for our next trip. Getting home to a full house of family and friends on Hurricane Gustav alert and all he dumped on Central Louisiana naturally put priorities where they should be. Normalcy is back in our reach and has allowed me to share with you my trip report. The overall casual tone was the right way to go for us this Vegas trip. It was easy on the schedule, expectations and the wallet. I wasted no time bringing to Dave’s attention with all the money saved this trip it would be stupid not to book another trip out to our desert oasis within the next six months. My logic has him thinking about it. Then again, my logic always has me thinking about Vegas.
There is no match for seeing a production show, concert or headliner in Las Vegas. There’s a reason why Las Vegas is known as the entertainment capital of the world. Over the years, we have been fortunate enough to have seen some of the best entertainers in the world perform on the stages of the infamous Las Vegas showrooms. Our entertainment selections for this trip fit the playbill, mixed the old with the new, paid tribute to a legendary group of lads, had us hearing voices, and rocked our Friday night in Vegas world.
Cher at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace
Cher at Caesars Palace~ then and now
My first time to see Cher live was in 1980. It was my first trip to Las Vegas, Caesars Palace and the infamous Circus Maximus showroom. Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world for a reason, and the best of the best performers and entertainers play Caesars for the same reason- it is the gold standard. The stages of the Vegas showrooms invented the celebrity A game of which Cher is a master player. This engagement at Caesars Palace was a production extravaganza of Cher’s Take Me Home tour. I was a wide eyed kid in the Vegas candy store on a sugar high of glamour, glitz, feathers, sequins, female impersonators and Bob Mackie creations custom made for a Vegas state of mind. It was gloriously flashy, dramatic with a capital D and exquisitely orchestrated by the incomparable entertaining brilliance that is Cher.
I saw Cher again at Caesars Palace in the Circus Maximus showroom the next year with the same enthusiasm and a new Cher convert, my brother. Cher’s “surprise guests” Bette Midler and Diana Ross completely fooled my brother. My mother and I knew the ladies were in fact female impersonators and informed my brother of it, but he was totally convinced we were out of our minds. He was amazed at their physical and theatrical likeness, and when he thought about it for awhile he again wasn’t quite convinced. Fast forward twenty seven years to a new entertainment venue at Caesars (my third time to The Colosseum aka the house of Celine, Dave’s first) and a curiosity to see if lightening would strike thrice. Dave and I were through the security monitors (another new aspect of Vegas) and seated quickly in our seats on the first mezzanine. Cher and company delivered like Domino’s! When she performed a medley of her greatest hits from her 1970s discography, the ones that in 1980 and 1981 were relatively new hits, Cher turned back time. Dave loved every minute of the show, lightening bolts and all. This was a great way to spend an evening in Vegas.
Mama Mia at Mandalay Bay
Kept the memories, lost the program. Thank goodness for Pinterest!
We Saturday night in Vegas different from most. The circus arena on steroids atmosphere of a Vegas Saturday night can be too much at times. It’s become the norm for us to see the 6:00 p.m. performance of Mama Mia at Mandalay Bay and have a late gourmet supper at In-N-Out. Stick with us, kids and we’ll take you to the best burger joint in Vegas! This is our ninth time to see Mama Mia, and while I like Mama Mia, Dave loves Mama Mia. For this trip we had front row seats A 16 and A 17. The lobby of the Mandalay Bay Theatre (presently the Michael Jackson ONE theatre) has an Art-Deco style reminiscent of vintage movie houses.
This photo of Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Before the show began we visited with two of the nicest ladies from Salt Lake City seated to our left and a local mom and her six year old daughter seated to our right. Meeting new people continues to be a part of the Vegas experience that pleases. Dave and I both agreed this particular performance was one of the best yet. It doesn’t take but a tweak here and a small change there to step up a performance. As it is with interior design and home decor, placing a new spin on an oldie but a goodie helps to keep things fresh and relevant.
We lip synced and kept time to the music throughout the entire show, and the Dancing Queens that we are surfaced during the finale. Along with most of the audience we were up out of our seats and dancing with the cast members to the feel good gotta love it songs of ABBA. If this is in fact our last time to see the show in Vegas it made for a great memory. It was indeed our last time to see Mama Mia! in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay.
Danny Gans at Mirage
In all the time we have been going to Vegas this would be our first time seeing Danny Gans (October 25, 1956 – May 1, 2009). I purchase discount entertainment vouchers and restaurant coupons to use on our trips, and one of the best outlets is the radio shopping show from local Las Vegas radio station, KSHP. I stream the show via the internet, purchase the vouchers and have the show mail them out to me. This particular trip the station was running a promo on one of their afternoon shows. I answered a trivia question correctly and scored two tickets seventh row center section to Danny Gans at the Mirage. The theatre was full to capacity, the vibe of the room and the audience was high energy and the laugh-o-meter was set to hilarious. We loved the band and the live music, and Danny Gans’ impression of Johnny Carson and his The Twelve Days of Christmas skit was fantastic. He sang Creed’s “With Arms Wide Open” and while his performance was good his band’s performance was great. I have to admit only a small percentage of the audience seemed to be familiar with Creed, but those that were gave him a standing ovation.
We left the theatre thoroughly entertained and ready to put the hurt on the Mirage in the gambling department. The Mirage was well armed for battle against us giving me the honor of being seven for seven in the “I can’t win a damn thing in this casino” category. Amazing how the Vegas night air and a volcano eruption can make things all better.
The Places In The Home gang loves this Beatles tribute show. We’ve seen this late afternoon show nineteen times based on the following criteria: the price is right, the 5:30 PM showtime is perfect and the entire performance is live. This is a fun show with lots of audience interaction. The four gentlemen who recreate musical magic bring the voices and songs of The Beatles to life with spot on accuracy, and did I mention the entire performance is live and very well done. The set list covers the hits of the Beatlemania, the band’s US invasion, Sgt. Pepper (see photos) and the Abbey Road phenomenon. Howard Arthur’s performance as John Lennon is amazing.
Sheryl Crow, James Blunt and Toots at Planet Hollywood:
It Was Just One of Those Vegas Nights
Toots is a Jamaican performer Sheryl Crow discovered and invited to tour with him. We had never heard of him so going in we had no opinion one way or another. Toots and band put on a great opening show incorporating the audience in the fun with sing-a-longs. The sweet soulful reggae spin he put on John Denver’s classic hit, “Take Me Home, Country Roads” was worth the price of admission. This sing-a-long finale ended his set on a high note, and the good mood kept concert goers happy as the crews were breaking down his set and getting James Blunt and Company in set up. More concert goers started to trickle into the theatre signaling the people watching part of my brain to get busy taking it all in. People, clothes, conversations, pairings- it all fascinates me. We humans are an interesting people. It was hard not to notice the large cameras, cranes, booms and cables being set up in and around the theatre. I commented to Dave it appeared some type of filming would be taking place during the evening. We learned the filming was for a feature showcase for A&E’S Private Sessions.
I also noticed a couple to my left heavily making out. A girl in what I guess to be her mid 20’s and her mother are seated to my immediate left, and suffice it to say we are privy to this up close and way too personal floor show. The mind doesn’t kick in quick enough with the stop looking command when it is stunned. About the time I am turning away, busted! Make out man decides to strike up a conversation with me, the mom and her daughter. He tells us they have been married twenty five years, are empty nesters, and just want to, how did he put it? He and his lady love just want to “be all over a good time.” Is that what they call it now? Believe me, these two were all over something for sure. Their show within the show picked up steam as the night went on, and by the end of the night it was a free for all with a few added cast members. They were in ecstasy, if you get my drift. To put the cherry on top of the cake, about every five minutes this guy would scream out Sheryl (Sh-air-real) in a sort of New York/New Orleans blended accent. How many times do you think Dave had to hear me mimic this guy’s cry of Crow for the rest of our trip? All in all an excellent evening that far exceeded my expectations in the very best way. To date, this is the best time I have ever had at a concert in Vegas. We entered the venue at 7:10 p.m and walked out at 11:15 p.m rocked and ready for a Vegas Friday night turning into Saturday morning.