Monday, March 29, 2010

How I saved $47.00 at the movies this weekend!

This past weekend I watched two movies. I had won two free movie codes and they were both expiring on March 31st. I wanted to use them before they expired.

On Saturday I watched the latest Dreamworks animated feature "How To Train Your Dragon" in 3D. On Sunday I watched the military action thriller "Greenzone."


I'm a fan of Craig Ferguson's talk show "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" so when I found out he was voicing Gobber the Belch, one of the characters in the movie "How To Train Your Dragon," I knew I had to watch it. I also thought the previews were cute and I was in the mood for a lighthearted story.

I decided to see it in 3D because I wanted to experience what it was like to see an animated film in 3D. The price of a 3D movie ticket at my local theatre is $13.75. I got two tickets so the total was $27.50. I had a movie code that I won from Coke's Twist Txt Get Instant Win Game (http://www.mycoke.com). The value of the code was $24.00 so all I had to pay for two tickets was $3.50! That's $1.75 per ticket.

The movie was all right. It wasn't bad but it wasn't great. I didn't feel much of a 3D effect while watching. My favorite character in the movie was the dragon named Toothless. The expressions he made when he tried to get what he wanted like food were so adorable.

I give "How To Train Your Dragon" a B-.

Way back in 1997, I had the hugest crush on Matt Damon. The crush has long faded away along with my teenage years but I still like to watch a Matt Damon movie once in a while.

I had a Fandango code I won (see post February Freebies + Eliminate Full Price Moment of the Week! to see how I won the code) from Fandango's twitter (http://www.twitter.com/Fandango) and I decided to use it to watch his latest film "Greenzone." The code was good for two movie tickets valued up to $24.00 through Fandango's website (http://www.fandango.com).

The cost of two tickets for this movie was $21.00 plus a $2.00 convenience fee for using Fandango's online ticketing service. The total was $23.00 but since I had the Fandango code valued up to $24.00 I paid nothing to see the movie.

Matt plays Roy Miller a Chief Warrant Officer in the Army who is part of the "Weapons of Mass Destruction" unit. "Greenzone" is primarily a military film and is inspired by some of the events in the Iraq war.

The movie is fast paced so there were parts I didn't understand because my mind wandered off onto other thoughts. There's lots of explosions and shootings so if that's what you're into this movie is for you.

I also give "Greenzone" a B-.

Here's a rundown of my savings:

1. "How To Train Your Dragon" tickets

$27.50 (cost of 2 tickets) - $24.00 (My Coke Code) = $3.50 (Out of pocket expenses)

2. "Greezone" tickets

$23.00 (cost of 2 tickets) - $24.00 (Fandango code) = -$1.00 but it becomes $0.00

$27.50 (2 "How To Train Your Dragon" 3D tickets) + $23.00 (2 "Greezone" tickets) = $50.50 (Total)

$50.50 (Total cost of all 4 tickets) - $3.50 (Out of pocket expenses for "How To Train Your Dragon" 3D tickets) = $47.00 in savings!

Have you seen either of these movies? Let me know what you think about them. Also, if you've seen any other movies recently feel free to give me some recommendations.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Bare Escentuals Free Make-Under + samples with appointment (While Supplies Last: Mar. 26-28)

I scored a bunch of fabulous freebies at the Bare Escentuals boutique in Stanford Shopping Center today! I was able to get everything in the picture below without opening my wallet.

I went to Bare Escentuals because I wanted to redeem a prize I won from their Rethink What Matters Sweepstakes (http://www.rethinkwhatmatters.com)

The sweepstakes ends today at 11:59PM EDT so be sure to enter before it's done!

For those who aren't familiar with Bare Escentuals, they are a company that specializes in mineral based make up. I noticed there was a sign outside the boutique that said to come in for a complimentary make-under consultation between March 26-28 and get free samples.

A sales lady offered the complimentary consultation to me and at first I refused because she seemed so busy with other customers. She said it was no problem and asked if I could wait about 15 minutes so she could do the consultation with me. I figured since I was already there I might as well wait, so I accepted the consultation invite.

Once it was my turn, the sales lady, named Brittany, let me sample various Bare Escentuals products. First I tried the Rare Cleanser powder which felt really refreshing on my face. Then I tried the Rare Moisturizer.

After that, Brittany then gave me a tutorial on how to use the Get Started Kit which was the prize I won from the Rethink What Matters Sweepstakes. She helped me She taught me which brushes to use and how to apply the mineral foundation. MAC is the only foundation I've previously had experience with so it was interesting for me to see what the difference was.

I like how the Bare Escentuals feels on my face. It also looks very seamless. The size of my pores were reduced and the redness on my face vanished. The only thing I don't like is how many steps there are in the application. If I'm in a hurry to put on make up I'd probably go with the MAC foundation I already use. If I have time to put on make up then I'll probably use the Bare Escentuals mineral foundation.

For reference this is what's included in the Get Started Kit:
  • bareMinerals SPF 15 Foundation in Medium Tan 3C
  • bareMinerals SPF 15 Foundation in Tan 3N
  • Tinted Mineral Veil
  • bareMinerals Warmth All-Over Face Color
  • Full Flawless Face Brush
  • Flawless Application Face Brush
  • Light Stroke Brush
  • Get Started DVD
  • Bonus Gift: Well-Cared For Brush Conditioning Shampoo
The retail value of the Get Started Kit is $174 but is currently sold for $60. Fortunately in my case, I get all of it for free!

The consultation was a quick and easy. Brittany didn't pressure to buy anything which was a huge relief for me! (I've been through a few consultations at other beauty counters, like at Macy's, and most of them so horrible with pushing you to buy something when you don't want to.)

Since I did the consultation I was given the following 3 samples:

1. All Over Face Color
2. Active Triple Treatment Eye Cream
3. Flawless Definition Mascara

The icing on the cake for me was all my freebies were placed in a cute reusable shopping bag that says RETHINK WHY A SMALL PACKAGE IS OKAY, TOO.

If you have time this weekend and there's a Bare Escentuals boutique near you then I think it wouldn't hurt to make an appointment to get a consultation. I did notice most of the people who had a consultation before and after me had made an appointment earlier. The samples are also while supplies last and participation may vary at each location so I suggest calling your local boutique before going.

This promotion is listed on the Stanford Shopping Center website (Go to http://www.simon.com/mall/?id=841 & look under the Sales & Offers at Stanford Shopping Center section).

Here's a short blurb from the website regarding the promotion:

COLOR ADDICTION

Visit your Bare Escentuals Boutique Friday, March 26 to Sunday, March 28 and get a complimentary make-under, play with new products and take home fabulous deluxe samples. Receive a FREE gift** when you book your appointment in advance.

**Limit one per customer. While supplies last.

Let me know if you go through the consultation too and if you're able to get the samples without any hassle. I'm always interested in reading about free experiences.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mail Talk: Godiva Gift Card, DVD's, PH8 leggings, freebies from Swagbucks, & much more!

Happy St. Patricks Day everyone! Don't forget to wear green or I might just pinch you ;)

It's been a while since I've written about the freebies I've received in the mail. I gathered up a few of my favorites for a quick recap of what's arrived in my mailbox recently.

Food related wins:

Thanks to Jennifer from the Saving and Giving blog (http://savingandgiving.blogspot.com/) I was able to win a $50 Godiva gift card from Shop at Home (http://www.shopathome.com/)! I LOVE Godiva chocolates so this was a delicious win for me.

Kikkoman currently has a Chinese New Year Instant Win Game (http://promotions.kikkomanusa.com/chinese_new_year/) where they're giving away thousands of kitchen products and coupons! The game ends April 30th so there's plenty of time to play. I won a cute spoon rest in the shape of a Kikkoman soy sauce bottle.

To keep up with the theme of bottled sauces, I also received a bottle of Laughing Bull hot sauce from Marlboro.

Movie & television related wins:

During the release of the movie Dear John, iNetvideo was having a promotion on their Facebook page (http://facebook.com/iNetVideo/) where they gave away Dear John soundtracks. During Day 3 I won a copy! iNetVideo constantly has giveaways going on so go ahead and check out their Facebook page. I previously won a Lord of the Rings DVD from them last year.

One of my favorite TV shows is Make It or Break It on ABC Family. It's a show about a group of female gymnasts and the drama they go through. It's beautifully written and the characters are well developed. One of my favorite characters is Chloe Kmetko, played by Susan Ward. Chloe is mom to Emily who is one of the gymnasts. Chloe is so over the top and hilarious.

Thanks to @43KixNorCal on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/43KixNorCal) I received the extended season 1 DVD set of Make It or Break It! I wasn't even aware there was a prize being given away when I answered a trivia question they asked. I just answered it because I was a fan of the show. I had no intentions of winning anything.

I also received another win from @43KixNorCal yesterday! I won a Clash of the Titans prize pack which contained a t-shirt, inflatable ball, and 4 packets of sunscreen. (When I first saw the 4 foiled packets I thought they were condoms :p)

Week In Rewind is a website that specializes in the latest entertainment news. On their Twitter page (http://www.twitter.com/WeekinRewind) I won a Sony DVD prize pack for being the 30th person to retweet a specific tweet. The DVD prize pack included Rent, Center Stage: Turn it Up, and Stomp the Yard.

Clothing & beauty related wins:

PH8 (@PH8_Stores on Twitter) is the sport brand for Bebe and I was able to win leggings that cost $49.00 from them. They are very snug on my juicy booty so it only motivates me to lose weight.

I'm sure you've seen the commercials on TV where actress Sarah Jessica Parker is promoting the Garnier Ultra-Lift Pro Gravity Defying Cream. In December 2009, Allure magazine gave away 500 of those Garnier creams to the first 500 people to sign up on their website. I was able to receive one and I can't wait to try it.

Sue Devitt is a celebrity make up artist who has worked with plenty of actresses like Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez, and Jessica Simpson. Every Wednesday Sue has a giveaway on her Twitter page (http://www.twitter.com/SueDevittBeauty). On Wednesday February 24th, I was able to win her Mini Lip Gloss in Costa Del Sol. The retail value of the lip gloss is $18.00!

While I might not have been nominated for an Academy Award, I did win a RESTORE sample from YBF Skincare on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/ybfskincare) on the night of the Oscars. The full size retails for $120 so I'm glad I get to try it out for free.

Why Swagbucks is great:

Thanks to Swagbucks I was able to save up enough Amazon gift codes to buy Danielle Steele's latest book titled "Big Girl." Once I read the first chapter of "Big Girl" online and I knew I had to get the book. I also bought volume 2 of the Glee soundtrack. You should join Swagbucks if you haven't already. It's completely free. All you do is search on their website like you would on Google or Yahoo and earn Swagbucks that can be used for a variety of things like Amazon gift codes and gift cards to stores like Target.

You can click on the banner below to join. It's quick and easy to sign up!


Friday, March 12, 2010

Bag Bargain from Rebecca Minkoff's "Minkette" Line

A few weeks ago I discovered designer Rebecca Minkoff (@RebeccaMinkoff on Twitter) had created a handbag line called Minkette exclusively for the Home Shopping Network (HSN). The line includes four bags which are the Enchantment Leather Hobo, the Tenderness Croc-Clutch, the Valentine Studded Leather Hobo, and the Rapture Croco Embossed Leather Tote.

When I looked at all of the bags, I immediately fell in love with the Enchantment Leather Hobo. It looked simple and not at all flashy. The retail price of Enchantment was $350.00 but it was on clearance for $125.00. Even though the price was already lowered I held onto a small morsel of hope that HSN would drop the price again.

I monitored the bag everyday to check if the price had changed. My wish came true because last week the price went down to $62.47! I couldn't resist the price so I took the plunge and ordered the Enchantment in the Fuchsia color.

It arrived on Thursday and when I opened the box I was satisfied with what I saw. The Enchantment was bigger than I expected because in the pictures it looked small. I'm happy that it's a great size and that it can hold a lot.


What made this purchase even better for me is in November 2009, I had won a $20.00 gift card from Home Shopping Network's Great Gift Giveaway. I went ahead and used the gift card which brought my order total to $55.09!

Here's a quick rundown of my savings:

Full Price of Enchantment: $350.00
1st Clearance Price: $250.00
2nd Clearance Price: $125.00
3rd Clearance Price: $62.47

$62.47 (3rd Clearance Price) + $7.22 (Shipping & Handling) = $69.69

$69.69 - $20.00 (Gift Card) = $49.69

$49.69 + $5.40 (Tax) = $55.09 (Grand Total)

My total savings from this purchase is nearly $300.00!

If you remember from my previous post (My Prize from the Rebecca Minkoff Daily Giveaway) I had recently received a Rebecca Minkoff Benjamins wallet from a giveaway I won in November 2009. I thought the Enchantment would go nicely with the Benjamins wallet since they're from the same designer.

Here's my Benjamins wallet chillin' with its new friend Enchantment:


Here's how the bag looks on me. I just adore the color so much.


If you're interested in purchasing the Enchantment, it's currently sold out but the 3 other bags, the Tenderness Croc-Clutch, the Valentine Studded Leather Hobo, and the Rapture Croco Embossed Leather Tote, are still available on clearance at http://www.hsn.com. Just type in "Rebecca Minkoff" in the search box when you go to the HSN website.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wonderful Wednesday Savings at CVS Plus Freebies at Bare Escentuals & Nordstrom

Wednesday was a great day for me in the freebies department. I was able to get some free items at Bare Escentuals, Nordstrom, CVS, and Panda Express.

I started my Wednesday freebie adventure at the Bare Escentuals Boutique in Stanford Shopping Center. Bare Escentuals is currently running a promotion called Rethink What Matters. Each week they offer a different prize from their store. I've already won an All Over Face Powder (valued at $18) and Eye Cream (valued at $28).

I recently won the Smokey Eye Kit which is valued at $32. All I had to do was take a quiz at http://www.rethinkwhatmatters.com/ and submit my name and e-mail address. Don't be discouraged if you lose the first time you take the quiz. I lost about 3 times before I got the "You Won" message.

Once you win, Bare Escentuals sends you an e-mail with a coupon on how to redeem your prize. You can redeem your prize at the store or online. I chose to pick it up at the store because I didn't want to pay the $1.00 shipping free.

After I got my Smokey Eye Kit from Bare Escentuals, I went to Nordstrom to take advantage of another freebie. While supplies last, Nordstrom is giving away a free Lancome Juicy Tube lip gloss to females ages 13-29 who bring in either the April 2009 cover Seventeen Magazine or a print out of the Seventeen.com home page.

I printed out the home page of Seventeen.com and showed it to the employee at the Lancome counter. She let me pick from 4 different lip glosses. I selected the one called "Let It Rain" because I liked the color of it. Plus now that I think about it, it reminds me of a line in Jesse McCartney's song "Leavin'" where he sings You make me want to take you out and let it rain.

My next stop was CVS. I successfully eliminated full price on 4 different items because of coupons I used. I had to ship a package via Fedex and CVS happens to be a designated drop off location for them. I thought it would be easier if I drop off the package at CVS and then go shopping for some items I needed.

I was able to get $45.58 worth of items shown in the picture below for only $17.84. I saved $27.84!

In February, on Excedrin's website (http://www.excedrin.com/) they had a special survey online. After taking the survey, I was offered a coupon for a free Excedrin product up to a $5.99 value. I selected the Excedrin Tension liquid capsules which cost $5.39. The coupon made it completely free!

Last year I was able to get 3 special coupons from 3 different companies. Advil had a sweepstakes called Pursue Your Passions and they gave away 10,000 coupons for a free box of Advil Liquid Gels. The Advil cost $4.99 but I paid zilch.

Febreeze had an instant win game where they gave away 840 coupons for use on any one of their products to whoever won their game. My dad loves to spray air freshener around the house so I picked the Air Effects Meadows & Rain spray. It cost $3.29 but I paid zero.

On Herbal Essences' Facebook Fan Page in October 2009 (http://www.facebook.com/herbalessences) they had a promotion where they gave away 18,750 coupons to those who signed up. The coupon was good for either one bottle of shampoo or one bottle of conditioner up to 12 ounces. I need shampoo more than I need conditioner so I picked the None of Your Frizzness Soothing Shampoo. Getting frizz is one of my hair problems so it seemed like a perfect fit for me. Plus I thought the name was very cute. The shampoo cost $4.99 but I paid nada.

I'm a member of CVS' ExtraCare rewards program (http://www.cvs.com/ExtraCare) and sometimes they have special coupons available. I scanned my rewards card at their coupon checker in the store and I received a coupon for $4.00 off a $20.00 purchase.

I needed cottons balls so I found a bag that cost roughly $2.00. All I had to do then was find $18.00 worth of products so I can use the $4.00 off coupon. I decided to stock up on canned foods. Chef Boyardee Ravioli/Beefaroni/Spagetti cost $1.50 per can. I bought 12 cans which cost $18.00.

After taxes, the grand total of my purchase was $17.84! At the bottom of my receipt, it says I saved $27.84. If I didn't have the coupons I would've paid $45.68. Thank goodness I utilized my eliminate full price skills.

The cashier even asked me where did I get the coupons? I told her I get them online.

After CVS I went to Panda Express to use the free Honey Walnut Shrimp coupon I found on Panda Express' Facebook Fan page. The value of it is $2.25 but I got it for free!

I know you're probably wondering the same thing the cashier at CVS was wondering, where do I get the coupons?

Getting the good coupons online is all about timing. Most of the time coupons are sent to a certain amount of people who sign up first. There's really not a single source of where to get coupons. Different companies have different ways they offer coupons.

I know to some people coupons seem like a big hassle but I think as long as the coupons give a great discount then it's totally worth it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Panda Express Freebie: Single Entree of Honey Walnut Shrimp


On Wednesday March 10th, 2010, Panda Express is allowing people to try out a single serving of their delicious new selection Honey Walnut Shrimp. I found this wonderful freebie on Panda Express' official Facebook fan page. You can become a fan here: http://www.facebook.com/PandaExpress

All you have to do is print out the coupon from their Facebook page and bring it to your nearest Panda Express. According to the coupon no purchase is necessary, participation may vary, and it's while supplies last. This offer is only valid on Wednesday March 10th so don't miss out!

I had the opportunity to try the Honey Walnut Shrimp on my road trip last week which I wrote about in my previous post. It is so delicious! My tummy is grumbling just thinking about it. I definitely recommend trying it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Keeping Up With Kim Kardashian at the Sephora Venitian

Thanks to the Rio Vegas Hotel on Twitter (@RioVegas), I won a 3 day 2 night stay from their 500 Wild Weekends Twitter Giveaway. They were giving away 500 hotel stays to 500 Twitter followers. In order to win I had to put the hashtag #riovegas into as many tweets as I could.

I wanted to use the prize while there was an event like a concert or show going on. It had to be redeemed by March 31st, 2010 and I was having trouble finding something interesting to attend. All of the concerts like Mariah Carey at Caesars Palace were very expensive. The cheapest for a pair of tickets to almost any show was around $200.00.

My father and I were hoping Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. would have their fight on March 13th at the MGM grand so we could redeem the hotel stay during that weekend. Unfortunately, the plans of the match fell through.

The month of March was fast approaching and I was worried about the prize not being used. I worked so hard on Twitter to win the hotel stay. The main reason I entered the contest was to hopefully use the prize while Backstreet Boys did a concert in Las Vegas but they had no plans to tour until summertime.

I received an e-mail from Sephora (@Sephora on Twitter) in February about Kim Kardashian's perfume because I'm part of their Beauty Insider program. They usually send weekly e-mails about new products and what's happening at their store. I was already aware of Kim releasing her perfume exclusively through Sephora so I hoped she would do in store appearances at the store.

My hope came true when I read through the e-mail. It was announced that Kim was going to meet and greet fans at four different Sephora stores. The two closest locations to me on her promotion schedule were at the Century City Mall in California and the Sephora Venitian in Las Vegas, Nevada. When I saw Las Vegas as one of the places I immediately thought it would be perfect if I could use my Rio Vegas Hotel win during the time Kim makes her appearance at Sephora.

Kim's appearance at the Sephora Venitian was on Saturday February 27th. Since my prize was for 3 days and 2 nights, I wanted to book the dates February 26th, February 27th, and February 28th. I call the Rio Hotel Vegas reservation line and to my disappointment, there were no rooms available between February 27th and February 28th. I almost wanted to just forget going to Las Vegas and instead go to Kim's appearance in Century City but I felt that if I didn't use my prize as soon as possible it would go to waste.

I asked the Rio Vegas Hotel employee if I could instead book the dates February 25th, February 26th, and February 27th. She said that wasn't a problem. I thought if I could arrive earlier, I would just check out on February 27th and check into a different hotel for one night between February 27 and February 28th.

Once I had my Rio Vegas Hotel suite booked, I prepared a list of what I had to do for the road trip. I had some prepaid debit gift cards that I wanted to use so that I wouldn't touch the money in my bank account. My first priority was buying 2 Sephora gift cards to use for buying Kim's perfume with 2 $25.00 prepaid debit cards I won from Coke. A 1.7 oz bottle costs $50 plus tax so it was like I was getting the perfume almost free.

I then decided to use a $100 prepaid debit card I won from AT&T's Brain Teaser Instant Win Game on gas gift cards to use on the drive to Las Vegas. I went to Safeway and bought 1 $50 gift card to Shell and 1 $50 gift card to Chevron. I bought gift cards to 2 different gas stations just so that when I stopped for gas I had more options. I also had a $25 gift card to Arco. That brought my total for gas to $125 in gift cards.

When it came to packing my bags, I wanted to make sure to bring only 1 luggage bag that could fit my clothes, shoes, and 1 Chanel purse. Then I would also bring 1 bag with my tolietries, and 1 extra purse to use. The last time I went to Las Vegas in 2007 I ended up bringing too many bags so I wanted to pack light this time. The bag I used to put my tolietries and other road trip necessities was a tote bag I won from Glamour Magazine's Glam Alert Beach Summer Essentials Sweepstakes in 2009. It's a beautiful yellow and orange striped tote bag that is very sturdy and can carry a lot.

My laziness caught up to me because the night before I left for Las Vegas I had to scramble to find a hotel for 2/27-2/28. I looked at the Travelocity website and my top 2 choices were the America's Best Value Inn and La Quinta Inn. America's Best Value Inn was the cheapest choice but judging from the pictures I saw on their website it looked like there wasn't much parking. Plus there wasn't free wireless internet. In December 2009, I had stayed at a La Quinta Inn in Fremont and I was pleased with my experience. Free breakfast and free wireless internet are available at all La Quinta Inns so I chose that even though it was slightly more expensive than America's Best Value Inn. Plus I remembered how good the waffles were at La Quinta so that heavily influenced my decision.

Before booking a stay at La Quinta, I searched Google for possible discount codes. The first code I found was VISASAVE which when used gives a 10% discount for booking with a Visa credit card. While 10% is a good discount I kept on searching for another code. It's good I didn't use the VISASAVE code because I found the code AARONS on another website. The AARONS code is a 25% off discount! The discount brought the $89 a night rate down to $66.75. With tax included, I only paid $74.76 for the hotel stay. It definitely pays to search for codes before buying or booking anything online.

After booking with La Quinta, I made a list of places I wanted to visit in addition Kim's appearance at the Sephora Venetian while in Las Vegas. I knew I wanted to eat at the Carnival World Buffet in the Rio Vegas Hotel, visit the Coach Factory Store at 2 different outlets, eat at Chili's, get a cupcake at the Cupcakery in the Monte Carlo Hotel to see if it's better than Sprinkles, walk around the Las Vegas Strip, and visit M&M's World.

I was able to accomplish everything!

The drive to Las Vegas was about 9 hours. I left the house at around 8:00 AM and arrived around 4:40 PM I went with my dad because no one I knew expressed any interest in going with me. I would have loved it if my mom could have came along but she had to watch over my cousins. My cousins cannot be trusted without adult supervision. They sometimes forget to turn off appliances like the stove and room heater. Plus they have a history of stealing things. One of my cousins stole my parents Hennessey bottle that they just bought and my other cousin stole $100 from my mom before.

I only stopped for gas once at Lost Hills, Ca. That's when I had to go from Interstate 5 to Highway 46. When I stop on a road trip, I like to do more than one thing. I get gas, eat, and go to the bathroom. I don't like to stop too many times unless it's very necessary. I used a $5 gift card to eat at Wendy's and used a Shell gift card I had to put gas.

The drive was beautiful. It was refreshing to see the different landscapes from California to Nevada. I liked seeing the blooming almond trees along highway 46 in Wasco to the green mountains along Highway 58 near Bakersfield to the endless Mojave Desert along Interstate 15 from Barstow to Las Vegas.

Once my dad and I arrive, we checked into the hotel and unload our bags into the room. The Rio Vegas Hotel is an all suite hotel so the room was bigger than a typical hotel room. It had floor to ceiling windows that gave a grand view of Las Vegas and also the Palms Hotel and Gold Coast Casino.




I was both exhausted and hungry after being on the road for over 9 hours. My dad didn't want to lose the parking spot we had in front of the hotel so he thought it would be best if we just ate somewhere in the hotel. On my to-do list was to eat at the Carnival World Buffet at the hotel so that's where we went. They served many different types of food from Asian to American to Italian. What I liked the best was the salmon sushi, red velvet cake, and tiramisu sorbet.

After dinner, my dad and I go back to the room. While my dad was channel surfing he found the movie Hotel Rawanda starring Don Cheadle playing on My Network TV. We missed the beginning but I thought it was a very good movie. I chuckled to myself because I was watching Hotel Rawanda in a hotel. When the movie finished at 10pm, I wasn't sure if I wanted to stay in the room and rest or go out and explore Las Vegas. I thought it's not everyday I'm in Las Vegas, so my dad and I decide to go out.

My dad didn't want to drive to the strip so we took a shuttle from the Rio Hotel to Harrah's Hotel which is located in the south side of the strip. Upon entering Harrah's, I saw a Starbucks. I wanted to check my e-mail and Twitter because I couldn't get a free WI-FI signal at the Rio Vegas. Thankfully the Starbucks area had a free WI-FI signal so I was able to go online and check my accounts.

I wanted to see if I could look for the Sephora Venitian where Kim was doing her appearance. I was pleased to find that the Harrah's was very close to Sephora. Sephora was closed though so I wasn't able to go inside and ask for information on Kim's appearance. The store front had large pictures of Kim promoting her perfume. There was also a sign telling people she would be there on Saturday February 27th. Seeing that sign reassured me that the event was still happening. We walk around the strip some more before taking the shuttle back the Rio Hotel for a much needed rest.


The next day, my main priority was getting gas for my car because my tank was close to empty, eating lunch, and then going to Sephora to ask for information on what would happen for Kim's appearance on Saturday. I had read online that people who went to her appearances at Sephora in New York were not able to meet Kim because they didn't have wristbands even though they stood in line for over 2 hours. That is why I wanted to verify the rules so that I would be better prepared.

A Sephora employee told me that I could buy the perfume before the event on Saturday. That made it easier for me because then I wouldn't have to worry about the perfumes selling out. All I had to do was bring back the receipt on Saturday to get wristbands. I decided to get two perfumes, one for me and one for my dad to give to my mom as a gift. My dad felt that since he was already there he might as well get a picture with Kim and that we'd give the perfume to my mom.

Once we get the perfumes, my dad and I go to La Quinta Inn just to see where we would be staying after we check out of the Rio Hotel. Since going to the Las Vegas Premium Outlets was on my to-do list we go there next. There's a ton of stores but Coach is all I wanted to go to. I collect Coach keyfobs so I wanted to check out their selection. Upon entering the outlet I was given a 20% off any purchase coupon. I ended up buying a cherry keyfob. With the coupon the total was $25.08. I only had to pay 8 cents because I used a $25 prepaid debit card I won from Coke to buy it.
It's evening by the time we're done exploring the outlets. I had gift cards to Chili's I won from My Coke Rewards so my dad and I have dinner at Chili's. My dad and I ate half a rack of baby back ribs, fried shrimp, french fries, and broccoli. I got to drink a delicious pina colada.

When dinner is over, we head back to the hotel and take a shuttle back to the Strip. This time my dad and I took the shuttle to the Paris Casino which is closer to the north side of the Strip. The Paris Casino is in front of the Bellagio Hotel so I finally go to see the infamous fountains in action. The fountains were set to the song New York, New York. I also walked inside Caesar's Palace. I ended the night by going to Starbucks in the Harrah's Hotel and getting a coffee frappuccino. While sitting at Starbucks, Quit Playin' Games by Backstreet Boys starts to play which makes me smile. It's like the Harrah's Hotel knew a Backstreet Boys fan was present.



It was finally Saturday, the day I had been waiting for. My first priority was checking out of the Rio Hotel on time. Once that was done, my next priority was going to the Sephora at the Venitian to get my wristband and to see if a line had already formed. I've been to a lot of meet and greets and sometimes people arrive hours before the event starts. There wasn't a line when I went but the Sephora employee who gave me my wristband told me that people who have wristbands and arrive before 6 PM would be guaranteed to meet and get a picture with Kim. I was relieved that I didn't have to stand in line all day.


My dad and I then eat lunch at Panda Express because we were both craving rice. I also got to try a new entree called Honey Walnut Chicken which was so delicious. After lunch we walked around the Mirage Hotel area.


Then we left to check in at the La Quinta Inn. Check in time was 3:00 PM but we arrived around 2:30 PM. The room wasn't ready yet so we had to wait almost an hour because the hotel was behind on cleaning the room.

Once we were checked in I put on some make up and head back to the Venetian around 5:00 PM. There were 2 separate lines already formed along the side of Sephora. One line was for people with pink wristbands and one line was for people with white wristbands. I had a pink wristband so that's the line I went in. A Sephora employee announced that people with pink wristbands would go first and that the people with white wristbands would go after all the people with pink wristbands were done. I assumed that people who had the pink wristbands were the people who had came right around the time Sephora opened that day. I was happy that my wristband was pink. There were only 5 people in front of me so I was very close to the front of the line. It was also raining and sprinkling on and off so I had to stand under an umbrella most of the time.

Across the street was the Mirage Hotel so at 6:00 PM I got to see their volcanic fire display that shows every hour from 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM daily. The two hour wait wasn't so bad since I had waited longer at other events in the past.

At 7:00 PM a group of Sephora employees started to escort the people in the pink wristband line inside the store. We weren't allowed to take pictures with our personal camera's because there was a professional photographer taking pictures. I didn't mind and I was actually glad I didn't have to worry about my camera somehow malfunctioning. Before I had my turn with Kim, a Sephora employee said to everyone, "Don't speak to her." I follow the rules most of the time so I was expecting to just get my picture with Kim and then get pulled away.

When it was my turn, a Sephora employee tells me to go stand on the X marked on the floor. There's a table with flowers and bottles of Kim's perfume. She's sitting on one side wearing a cute dress.

Kim says, "Hi" and I say "Hi" back.

She then asks me, "How are you?"

I say, "I'm doing good. I drove 10 hours to meet you." (I honestly didn't know what else to say to her and that was the first thing that popped into my mind.)

Her eyes widened and she said, "Really? Where are you from?"

I reply, "San Francisco, California." (I just named the largest city closest to me because I figured she wouldn't know where Milpitas is.)

That was when the photographer got our attention by saying, "Okay ladies" and then told me to move toward the table in the middle. The picture is taken and a Sephora employee motions me to exit. Before I leave, Kim sticks out her hand and we shake hands. She says, "Thank you" and then I tell her "Thank you." I thought that was nice of her to initiate a hand shake.

I was actually suprised at how friendly Kim was because a week earlier I had met Lauren Conrad from The Hills at a book signing and Lauren didn't say much to anyone. She didn't shake hands with anyone. I really liked that Kim made an effort to have a small conversation with me even though the Sephora employee had said to not speak to her.

I then wait for my picture to be printed and once I get it I am satisfied with how it came out. I thought that was one of the most organized meet and greets I have ever attended. I wished the Backstreet Boys VIP meet and greet would go that smoothly. I wanted to see how many people were still in line so I go outside and see the line is still wrapped around Sephora. It felt good to be one of the first people to go through.

(Click on the picture of me and Kim to enlarge it)

I was hungry after waiting in line so my dad and I go to the buffet in the Harrah's Hotel. I know it's bad to eat too much food but we're in Vegas so I had to indulge in the endless food. It was the first buffet I ever went to that served cotton candy for dessert. I used to LOVE cotton candy when I was younger. After we eat, we go to the Mirage Hotel because I wanted to visit the Sugar Factory. I remembered on the premiere episode of Spindustry, a show which Kim executive produces, that she and other celebrities endorse lollipops sold exclusively in the Sugar Factory. I considered buying a lollipop until I found out how much they each cost. One lollipop cost $25.00! I couldn't bring myself to buy a lollipop for that much money. I thought I could buy a lot of Sprinkles cupcakes for the price of one lollipop.

After the Mirage we walk to Caesars Palace and then back to the Venetian Hotel. The Venetian has so many designer stores like BCBG, Herve Leger, Barney's and people have the opportunity to ride in a gondula indoors. I thought if only I had a boyfriend, I would so love to ride in a gondula. I was so exhausted from walking around so I buy a frozen lemonade at the Coffee Bean. It was so good and refueled my energy.


Sunday was a bittersweet day for me. While I was happy with how my trip in Las Vegas went, it was time to go home. Before checking out of the La Quinta Inn, my dad and I take advantage of the complimentary breakfast served there. I ate waffles and drank orange juice. After we check out I wanted to drop by M&M's World before heading home. I had seen people with shopping bags to M&M's World and I remembered in 2005 when I saw Backstreet Boys in Las Vegas, I drove by M&M's World but I didn't have the chance to go inside.

M&M's World is a store with 4 floors of everything to do with M&M's. Before going to M&M's World my dad took a picture of me with the a replica of the Statue of Liberty behind me. I giggled when I saw the picture because right behind me is a truck driving by advertising hot babes.

M&M's World is located right next to the MGM Grand Hotel. They had M&M's purses, keychains, clothing, and so much more. On the 2nd floor was where all the different colors of M&M's were located. They had exclusive colors you cannot buy in regular stores. I would have loved to get every single color but 1 lb. of M&M's cost $12.99! The colors I picked were pink, purple, teal, dark green, and maroon. All the M&M's I got were peanut M&M's. I wish they had peanut butter M&M's available in the rare colors. I also bought 1 postcard and an M&M's folder so that I could put my picture with Kim inside so it would be protected from getting bent on the car ride home.

I wasn't planning on going anywhere else after M&M's world but I thought I don't know the next time I would visit Las Vegas so why not make the most of it today? Rather than going back to the car and heading home, I tell my dad I want to go to the Monte Carlo Hotel to find the Cupcakery. I wanted to find out if their cupcakes tasted better than Sprinkles. Once we were inside the Monte Carlo Hotel, we almost didn't find it. Thanks to my iPod touch and the free WI-FI in the hotel, I was able to locate the Cupcakery. There were so many beautiful cupcakes to chose from. It was so hard to pick just one. I ended up picking a cupcake called Strawberry Shortcake and my dad picked a cupcake called Coconut Bliss. The two cupcakes cost $8.11! They were $3.75 each plus tax. I used to think Sprinkles cupcakes were expensive at $3.25 but at least Sprinkles doesn't charge tax. The Cupcakery is near a food court in the casino and I thought if I don't eat lunch now, it would probably be a while until I get a chance to eat. I was craving chinese food so we eat at Manchu Wok.


After we eat lunch, on the way out of the Monte Carlo, all the TV's had on the USA vs. Canada hockey game. My dad and I catch the replay of the winning goal by Canada. Then we go to the Coca Cola store which was filled with tons of Coca Cola merchandise. Coke has been so generous to me in the past year with their contests so I felt I had to visit their store and show my appreciation to them. While looking at a Coca Cola t-shirt, I hear something familar. I realize it's the song Straight Through My Heart by Backstreet Boys! I was so excited to hear Backstreet Boys being played for the 2nd time in Las Vegas. I looked around the store and that's when I noticed there were flat screen TV's hanging up playing the music video for the song. I thought it was a sign so I bought the t-shirt I was looking at when the song played. On the 2nd floor there was a place to eat. I didn't eat but I saw almost everyone was ordering something called 15 flavors of Coke from around the world. I wanted to try all the flavors but I was still full from lunch. Maybe next time I can try it.

Once we were done in the Coca Cola store it was time to hit the road and head home. My gas tank was half full so we had to fill it up. We stop and put gas at a Chevron in Primm, Nevada. Primm is located right on the border between California and Nevada. It's also the location of the Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas. Since the outlets were so close, I tell my dad I want to go to the outlet and check out the bags at Neiman Marcus Last Call and the Coach Factory Store.

At Neiman Marcus Last Call I saw Linea Pelle bags in person for the first time. I've been interested in getting a Linea Pelle bag ever since they sent me 2 bracelets for free. I love their unique designs. They had a brown colored medium Dylan tote I wanted to get but I didn't want to pay $270 for it.

Next, I wanted to see if the Coach Factory Store had different keyfobs than the other outlet I visited on Friday. Upon entering, a Coach employee hands me a 20% off any purchase coupon. The selection was the same as the other outlet and there wasn't anything exciting. I did see one letter X keyfob priced at $9.99. I went ahead and bought it because it was cheap and I thought it could stand for my x-rated brain.

By the time we hit the road it was 6:23 PM and the sun was setting. It was such a grueling drive because it was dark and foggy. Plus my dad and I were very tired. My dad drove first because he hates driving along route 152 which is close to home. For those who have never driven along 152, it's a crazy route filled with crazy curves in the mountains, going up and down at fast speeds, and two way traffic. Plus if I didn't drive the 152 part my dad would have driven 20 mph in a 55 mph zone and followed a big rig truck at the same time.

By the time it was my turn to drive it was already past midnight and I was so cranky. I did not want to drive but I knew I had to let my dad rest because he had been driving for over 5 hours. The upside to driving in the middle of the night was there weren't many cars on the road. The downside is I'm getting blinded by all the cars with their bright lights on.

Once I'm on 152, it's so dark. There's only lights from the few cars on the road and the moon. My dad told me afterward that while I was driving that part he was completely still and was so scared because I was driving so fast.

When I get to Gilroy, it was so foggy! I could barely see anything in front of me. What made it even more scary is I had to drive on a two way road while it was dark, very foggy, and I had a group of cars behind me. I just hoped and prayed that I wouldn't accidentally go off the road or crash into the approaching cars and trucks.

When I make it to highway 101 I breathe a sigh of relief. The fog is gone and I'm closer to home. The early morning commute is already beginning. It's past 4:30 AM by the time I get home. I immediately go straight to bed. Being underneath my blanket and snuggling against my pillow was so comforting. It didn't take long for me to fall asleep.

That was one of the best road trips I've ever been on. I got to visit different places and meet one of my favorite reality TV stars who turned out to be nicer than I expected. I can't wait till my next road trip and hopefully it'll be a road trip to some Backstreet Boys concerts!

Here's a list of my Eliminate Full Price Moments:

1. Rio Vegas Hotel stay valued at $200 - Free
2. Kim Kardashian Perfume valued at $85- Paid around $17 for 2 bottles
3. Dinner at Chili's valued around $44 - Free
4. 1 night stay at the La Quinta Inn - 25% off thanks to the AARONS Code
5. Gas - Free because I had a total of $125 in gas gift cards from prizes I won.
6. Coach cherry keyfob - only paid 8 cents because I had a $25 gift card AND 20% off coupon.
7. Lunch at Wendy's - $10 off total because I had two $5 gift cards.

and

8. Going to Las Vegas, meeting Kim Kardashian & getting a beautiful picture with her = priceless