Visiting the Neon Museum in Las Vegas

So I told you all about visiting the National Atomic Testing Museum while I was in Las Vegas,ย  and here is the other one I visited – the Neon Museum.

Neon Museum - Entry of La Concha

I thought the Neon Museum would be fun from a strictly retro nostalgia perspective, but in truth it was absolutely fascinating to see how the development and history of Las Vegas can be viewed through the trends and construction of neon signs!

Neon Museum La Concha Mosaic

There are two branches, if you will, to the museum. They have a handful of fully restored signs that are displayed in downtown Vegas and they are beautiful and lit up at night. They also have their primary museum space where they store the signs that have been donated to them over the years, and these are in various stages of disrepair. They do 45 minute guided tours through the yard that houses all these signs, and that’s the tour that I went on.

I took a ton of pictures that you can see below,ย  but I wanted to share this sign and the great story our guide told.

Neon Museum, O & T

This sign original spelled out the word hotel (here you can see the O and the T) but when it was all put together it probably measured about 80 to 100 feet high. See those little bars on the perimeter of the letter? Since they didn’t have hydraulic ladders or cherry pickers back in the day, when a light burned out someone had to use those rungs to climb up the sign to get to the light bulb. No thanks! That’s a little too high up for me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I very much enjoyed the Neon Museum and recommend it!ย  If you go, book your tour beforehand because they are small and sell out. And it is all outside in Las Vegas, so consider going in the cooler months! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Neon Museum - Row of H's

Neon Museum - Stardust Stars

Neon Museum - B and star

Neon Museum, letter Y

Neon Museum - Pole Dancing Clock

Neon Museum - R from Moulin Rouge

Neon Museum  Hi - Letters H & I

Neon Museum - Duck

Neon Museum - Hand Painted Sign Brush Strokes

My Visit to the National Atomic Testing Museum

What do you look for when you’re traveling to a new city? Entertainment? Food? Nature? One experience that I am always on the lookout for is visiting a museum – I just love them!

Last month I had a quick weekend in Las Vegas and I fit in a trip to not one, but two museums in one afternoon!

I come from a family of unabashed science geeks, so I was very excited to check out the National Atomic Testing Museum. Being in Utah, I am very familiar with the above ground testing in the 50’s, but I found the underground testing in the second half of the century to be just as fascinating! The had a great selection of science features, interactive multimedia sections, and pop culture references to put it all into perspective. They had a cartoon feature from the 50’s that talked about nuclear energy. I haven’t been able to find the exact ย cartoon, but this General Electric feature is very similar:

It was definitely on the side of “Nuclear Power is Awesome”, and they glossed over huge issues, like all the health issues and the downwind effect but, that said, it had some great exhibits. It might not be for everyone, but this is a well planned and executed museum.

Trees vaporized during an atomic test

I took a ton of pictures – so here’s a taste of the museum.

National Atomic Testing Museum - No Trespassing

National Atomic Testing Museum - Retro Machines

National Atomic Testing Museum - Mushroom Cloud

National Atomic Testing Museum - Machinery

National Atomic Testing Museum - Retro Office

National Atomic Testing Museum - Bomb

National Atomic Testing Museum - Radiation Badges

National Atomic Testing Museum - Geiger Counters

National Atomic Testing Museum - Safety Kit

Red Queen Book Arts – Fun in Salt Lake

One of the charms of Salt Lake is that there are enough people to support some really interesting, quirky, and fabulous small businesses. I wanted to share a bookstore that recently opened called Red Queen Books Arts, and owned by a friend of mine, Melissa Sanders.

Storefront for Red Queen Books Arts, Salt Lake City, Utah

Melissa has been involved in the Utah book community since High School, and it’s exciting that she’s opening a place of her own. It’s even more exciting to step inside and see the diverse scope of books she has on hand.

Red Queen Book Arts, Shelves inside the store

Red Queen is focused on “the book arts, illustrated books, decorative arts, and Lewis Carroll”, and the store reflects that with an eclectic mix of children’s books, multiple editions of Alice in Wonderland, and an amazing assortment of handcrafted books from the past and present. Here’s just a few that caught my eye:

Horton Hatches the Egg, signed by Dr. Seuss

They have a fun assortment of signed books, including this Dr. Seuss-signed Horton Hatches the Egg

Red Queen Book Arts, Face illustration

This is a great, albeit slightly creepy, illustration from The Fall of the House of Usher. Red Queen has a lot of diverse illustrations, from children’s books, to dramatic adult novels.

Red Queen Book Arts, Miniature Alice in Wonderland

Another focus of Red Queen is miniature books – this is a copy of Alice and Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. This copy is about 4″ tall!

Red Queen Book Arts, books on bookcase

Red Queen Book Arts is located at 171 East Broadway in Salt Lake City. They are open by chance, or by appointment, and I encourage you to head down there and see all the fun curiosities they have!

Red Queen Book Arts, Books and Book ends

Alt Summit 2013 : Quotes, Friends, Polka Dots, and Apologies

I spent last week at Altitude Design Summit – a conference for lifestyle bloggers, focused on creating, growing, and innovating. It was, not to put too fine a point on it, a phenomenal experience, and I’m spending way too much time in my brain trying to parse everything I picked up, figure out what I can do to be a better blogger, and make sure that Alt SLC ’14 is in my future. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here are a few of the sessions I attended at Alt Summit:

What I learned at Altitude Design Summit 2013

“We are all designers now. We might as well get good at it.”

There were three keynote sessions at Alt, and although they were all great in their own way, the one that resonated most with me was by Chris Anderson, who talked about the new Industrial Revolution that is taking place, and our part in it as people who want to, and do, create. Listening to him I realized that with creativity and tenacity, (and, of course, a little bit of money) you can create anything these days. It’s heady stuff.

I also admit to having a huge fangirl crush on Meg, the founder of A Practical Wedding. I started reading it in 2009, and haven’t stopped. Her blog has had a profound impact on how I perceive my wedding, my marriage, and the different roles I fill as a woman. So listening to her speak was, in a word, awesome. And she was talking about media kits, people! I think she’s going to change the world. Meg and Jasmine Star were two bloggers who really pounded home the message that blogging is just like any other small business – it’s not going to be easy, you can’t just expect magic to happen, and you will always be hustling. So get good at it.

One thing I was SUPER nervous about was meeting people. I had this worry that everyone would already know each other, and I would be too uncool to make friends with anyone. Fortunately, I met some great bloggers last week, from all walks of life. There were four, however, that I ran into many times, and they were always ready to share a smile and a kind word. Thanks Danae of Gather and Hunt, Danica of Good Heart, Marigold of Hideous! Dreadful! Stinky!, and Val of oh, hopscotch! You helped this lady tremendously. ๐Ÿ™‚

Sara at Alt SLC 2013

Photo by Brooke Dennis

I was looking through the photostream from Alt, and it has been proclaimed the year of the polka dot – so true! I admit to being a proud member of the polka dot army. It may be a little premature, but I’m calling it now so that everyone has time to get their wardrobe together… next year will be the year of houndstooth. ๐Ÿ™‚

I want to end with an apology. I’m a little bit disappointed that my city had such terrible weather while you were here! Salt Lake definitely did not put her best foot forward, and I’m sorry that the mountains were missing. Here’s a parting shot for you:

Mount Olympus, Salt Lake City

Come back soon, and hopefully the weather will behave!


Taking a Trip to the Amazon – via Opera

Have I mentioned lately how much I enjoy the opera? I haven’t? Well, then it’s time to tell you about Utah Opera‘s latest production, Florencia en el Amazonas.

The story of Florencia is that of an opera diva who is returning to her homeland to search for her long-lost love. The different characters represent different stages and forms of love – new, young love; older love that has soured, love that has been lost, and love for life. We both loved the story, the gorgeous and rich music, the talented voices, and the performers.

The Red Carpet at Utah Opera's Florencia en el Amazonas

Since it’s January, I went with a black velvet dress, and Rob looked handsome in his tuxedo.

Sara, Rob, and Preston at the Opera

I also put my hair up in the back. It lasted surprisingly well – here’s how it looked at the end of the night:

Front view of my hair for the opera

The next opera will by The Magic Flute in March. If you’re going, let me know and we’ll meet up!

Family Visit to the Lights at Temple Square

The best place for Christmas lights in Salt Lake City is Temple Square. It seems like every tree in the square is light up and colorful. It takes them months before and after Christmas to set up the lights. The few couple of times we visited it was just a happy accident, but now, it’s one of our Christmas traditions. We got the ladies all bundled up this weekend, and let them ooh and aah over the lights and colors. Enjoy!

The temple lights at Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah

The lights at Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah

Rob and the ladies Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah

Luminaries at Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah

The Lights at Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah

Really tall Christmas Tree at Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah

Lanterns at Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah

RubySnap Cookies – December is for Noelle

Even if you don’t know one other thing about me, you probably know that I love RubySnap cookies. The entire family are huge fans! I remember first hearing about RubySnap cookies in the spring of 2010, and I’ve been carrying on a love affair with their cookies ever since.

RubySnap is a cookie bakery in Salt Lake City, Utah, and they’re inspired by the best cookie recipe your great-grandmother passed down, but they take it to the next level. Oh, and all the cookies have cute retro pin-up names and pictures to match the cookie.

RubySnap Noelle cookies

Every month they have a special cookie of the month, and most of them are wonderful, but December’s cookie is hands-down fabulous – the best cookie I’ve had. I wait all year for this cookie! So, Saturday Rob, the ladies, and I headed down to RubySnap for the first Noelle of the season.

Noelle is maple, chocolate, pecan awesomeness! A maple sweet potato cookie with pecans and chocolate chunks, with a maple icing and pecan on top. Once we got there, for a split second I was worried that Noelle wouldn’t be as good as I remember her. Not to worry – she was!

RubySnap Noelle cookie - chocolate, maple, pecan, awesome.

The ladies love RubySnap and have been coming here since they were born. Now that they are walking and climbing, they like to climb up on the bench and watch the cars and people go by.

The ladies at RubySnap

Here is Gloria, our favorite RubySnap employee (The employees are affectionately known as Snapettes.)

Working hard at RubySnap

The cookies are to die for, but I also love the fun retro vibe of RubySnap – from the store to the pin-ups, and even the packaging:

RubySnap Cookie Packaging

If you haven’t tried RubySnap before, you’re in for a real treat! You can get fresh baked cookies in their store, or at some of the Whole Foods locations in Salt Lake. You can also buy their frozen cookie dough in their store, online, and at some Harmon’s in Salt Lake.

I will be there every week this month, getting my fix of Noelle. Hope to see you there!

RubySnap Cookies
770 South 300 West
Salt Lake City, UT

Utah’s Festival of Trees – Things to do in SLC

There’s nothing I love more than holiday traditions! It could be reading The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and eating sugar cookies for Halloween, or leaving colorful baskets of flowers and ribbons on doorsteps for May Day. I think that holiday traditions show, in a small way, what we really value in life.

Entrance to Utah's Festival of Trees, 2012

One of the Christmas traditions for Rob and me is the Festival of Trees. Festival of Trees is a fundraiser for Primary Children’s Medical Center, which has been going on for over four decades. People, groups, and companies decorate trees and donate them to the Festival, then more people, groups, and companies bid on the items, with the proceeds donated to PCMC. Last year they raised over $1.5 million! It blows my mind, but once you see the hundreds of trees, wreaths, centerpieces, quilts, and gingerbread houses on display, it’s not that surprising.

Wreath detail, Festival of Trees, 2012

Rob and I have been going to the Festival ever since we started dating, but three years ago we started to wonder if we could attend the opening night and bid on a tree. I’ll be honest, I was worried that we wouldn’t be *ahem* affluent enough to bid on anything, but I knew at the very least we would go and have a great time looking at the trees. I’m so happy we did! Although there are items that go for thousands and thousands of dollars, there are always centerpieces that start in the $50 range, and small trees and wreaths starting at about $100.

Chinese themed tree detail, Festival of Trees, 2012

Rob and I were excited. We found a tree that we loved. We were not the only people bidding on it. And Rob might have gotten a little cutthroat in his conviction that we needed this tree. In the end, this little gem came home with us, and has been proudly displayed in our living room each Christmas:

Our Christmas Tree from Festival of Trees, 2010

Tuesday we happily left the ladies under the watchful eye of my parents for the evening, and headed out to the Festival of Trees.

Wooden Christmas tree detail, Festival of Trees, 2012

This year, I was the one who was a little obsessed. We found this wreath, which is quite lovely and elegant, but even better, it also came with this gigantic moose:

Festival of Trees wreath and stuffed moose, 2012

For scale, this moose, if stood on it’s “feet” would almost stand as tall as Rob. I became captivated with the idea of the ladies crawling all over this guy! Furious bidding ensued. Unfortunately, another couple loved it a little bit more more than us, and they won the auction.

Fabric Christmas tree detail, Festival of Trees 2012

After all the bidding is closed, there are always a few items that haven’t been bid on, but they are still available for sale. Rob and I found this very elegant wreath that didn’t get any bidding love, and knew it would have a lovely spot in our home:

A Beautiful Season, wreath from Festival of Trees, 2012

If you’ve got a bit of a philanthropic nature, I encourage you to look into Preview night next year, and consider bidding on a tree. And if you haven’t got the means to do so, you can still head out there and see the trees in all their glory. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for kids.

Jewelry christmas tree detail, Festival of Trees, 2012

And just for fun, here are some more pictures of some of the centerpieces, wreaths, and trees that caught my eye this year.

Centerpiece from Festival of Trees, 2012

Centerpiece from Festival of Trees, 2012

Snowflake wreath from Festival of Trees, 2012

Wreath and mantle decor, Festival of Trees, 2012

Beautiful tree made of jewelry, Utah's Festival of Trees, 2012

Rainbow tree, Utah's Festival of Trees, 2012

Wooden Christmas tree, Utah's Festival of Trees, 2012

Chinese themed Christmas tree, Utah's Festival of Trees, 2012

Penguin Christmas Tree, Utah's Festival of Trees, 2012

Pinkalicious! Christmas tree from Utah's Festival of Trees, 2012

Fabric Christmas tree, Utah's Festival of Trees, 2012

Salt Lake City Sunset

I both love and hate November. It’s the month for my birthday and Thanksgiving, but it’s also the month for the time change and the days just keep getting darker and darker. However, I love the drive home in the second half of November, because I get to see the most beautiful sunsets every day. Here are a few pictures I’ve snapped in the past week:

Sunset in Salt Lake City - November

Sunset in Salt Lake City - November

Sunset in Salt Lake City, November 2012