The Ultimate Vegas Weekend for Geeks

When you think of Vegas, visions may pop up of gambling, flashy lights, nightclubs, and impromptu marriage. But there is much more to Sin City, and you can have a great time without blowing tons of money or doing anything you’d regret. I recently organized a trip for a group of 11 friends, and wanted to share some of the best activities we did. Adding any of these into your trip plans will guarantee an epically geeky time.

Alibi

If you’ve ever wanted to take part in a heist, this is the show for you. Part scavenger hunt, part interactive show, you make your way around Downtown Vegas finding and interacting with characters as you try to help “The Mastermind” with his heist. It’s a goofy good time, and a great bonding event for everyone in your group. You will solve puzzles, do goofy things, and laugh a lot.

The 2.5 hour “show” also includes a meal and two alcoholic (or non-alcoholic) drinks throughout the run, making it a great deal and a fun mid-day activity. We chose to do it in the afternoon, and then stayed in Downtown Vegas after to keep exploring the area.

The Nerd - Premiere Las Vegas Bar, where Cosplay Meets Cocktails

The Nerd (and the rest of Neonopolis)

As soon as we walked into The Nerd, we knew we were home. The bar has props and costumes from famous films, signed posters and comics on the wall, cosplay for sale, a bowling alley, and a huge board game and video game library. You can play games and bowl for free while you hang out. Plus, their bartender makes amazing drinks and the prices won’t break the bank. The Nerd often has themed nights and viewing parties for popular shows, and cosplayers get a discount on drinks. You HAVE to check it out. (And while you’re in Neonopolis, make sure you check out the epic vintage toy shop on the first floor. It’ll make you super nostalgic and you’ll want to re-start your TMNT action figure collection.)

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Container Park

Go for the shops, restaurants, and people watching. Stay for the fire-breathing praying mantis.

Countdown Las Vegas Escape Room

If your group enjoys puzzles and is relatively sober, an escape room is a great mid-day activity (and a fun way to beat the heat!). Countdown Las Vegas offers a variety of rooms, and we tried a classic: their Sherlock Holmes room. This escape room is extremely difficult with a 10% success rate. #HumbleBrag, this group defeated it, but with only 41 seconds left on the clock. If you go, let us know if you beat our time!

If you prefer your escape rooms to be more about the ambiance, I’d suggest their “Atelophobia” room. It’s a horror room, described as “part escape room, part haunted house” and uses an actor for a part of the experience. When we were there, a few members of that room left early and refused to go back in, because they were too scared. (This clearly just intrigued me further!) I would definitely try this room next time I was in Vegas!

Tournament of Kings

What if I told you there was a place where you could eat a medieval-style meal with your hands while watching knights joust on horses and maidens dance and also there’s pyrotechnics? You would buy a ticket immediately, that’s what. I refuse to go to Vegas and not go to Tournament of Kings. This was my third time, and it was just as much fun as the first. Between the meal and the entertainment, it’s one of the best values for a show on the Strip, and it’s legitimately great for all ages. If you’ve never been to Tournament of Kings (or Medieval Times, a similar experience), I would make it a “must” for your next trip.

What are your favorite geeky activities in Vegas? Sound off in the comments!

Some of these locations provided free or discounted tickets in exchange for a review. All opinions and words are my own!

Deer Lord: The Perfect Dinner Party Game

Thank you Deer Lord! for sponsoring this post. Grab your new edition of Deer Lord! social party game, available through Target retail stores starting July 30.

You know that feeling when you find the perfect party game, and it just makes you exclaim “Dear Lord!”? Well, meet Deer Lord.

Deer Lord is a social party game that encourages you to challenge your friends to “duels” (or silly dares) and “dupe” your friends by behaving bizarrely, but hopefully discreetly enough that they won’t notice. It just recently came to the US, and is now available in Target! (Have you noticed that Target has been rocking their game section lately?) The Target set will include the base game, as well as “Broadway” and “Gangsta” sets that include themed duels and dupes.

While you can easily play this game on its own, I wanted to throw a themed party around the idea of dueling your friends. And where else would you do that than the fanciest dinner party? (Exclaiming “Dear Lord!” whenever you catch your friends doing something out-of-the-ordinary was a ridiculously fancy bonus.) I emailed the following invitation to some of my most charismatic and daring friends:

And I began prepping the dinner party. I decided to go with a white and slate theme to tie into the board game box, and as an excuse to give everyone their own mini cheese plate.

I made name tags with toothpicks and stuck them into the individual cheeses. (I may have also embellished my friends’ names a bit. Because FANCY.) And a simple white table cloth and some candles added to the elegance of the table.

As they arrived, I greeted them at the door with prosciutto wrapped melon (literally the easiest thing to prepare and it looks SO fancy) and an Old Fashioned. They then found their place setting and were able to share their various cheeses with each other, and pair them with the cracker assortment in the middle of the table. At this point, we went over the rules of the game, looked at our cards, and began the challenges. We got so into the game, that it wasn’t until we were nearly finished that I remembered to serve the rest of dinner! (This is really why every great dinner party needs a butler or three.)

For dinner, we had salad in Parmesan cups, steak and broccolini, and some small cakes from Trader Joe’s gussied up with some caramel and chocolate syrups. My goal was to do the least amount of work and still have a wonderful meal. The item I was most proud of was the Parmesan cup salad. All of my guests were impressed with the cups, and they were so easy to make. You just put 2 TBS of shredded Parmesan in a circle on top of a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, and place it in an oven heated to 350 degrees for 5 minutes. As soon as you remove it, carefully place the melted circle into the cavity of a muffin pan, forming a circular bowl. Let it cool, and voila! I was able to make these a couple hours in advance and put the salads together in minutes once we were ready.

But back to the game. Duels included things like “Who can do the most amount of push-ups,” “who can gargle the longest,” “who can come up with the best one-liner,” and “who can tell the most exciting story.” Dupes included “take a phone call,” “touch another player,” “ask another player about their family,” and “give a standing ovation.” My friend Liz took a phone call from her dad, and I “duped” her by asking how he was doing. Little did I know that she was also “duping” me by faking the phone call! This game gets into Inception-level layers of deceit.

If you’re interested in seeing more of the game in action, check out this video from Lark and Clam below:

What are your thoughts on party games? Will you be picking up Deer Lord? And do you think you’d be able to dupe all of your friends?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Skywalker Olive Oil: Fit for a Space Princess

Some of you may be familiar with the name “Skywalker.” It’s the last name of some characters from a space-themed entertainment franchise. Or perhaps you’re familiar with the creator of the Skywalkers, George Lucas. The namesake doesn’t end with fictional characters. Lucas has a well-known ranch by the same name that hosts a sound design firm, an inn, and even a vineyard and seven-acre olive grove.

That’s where the Skywalker Olive Oil comes in. Even if you’re not lucky enough to be able to stay on the Ranch, you can feel like one of Lucas’ personal friends for just $25. You see, while the wine has been available to purchase for a while, the olive oil was historically reserved for close friends and family (until now!).

There are two types of olive oil available, Il Convento sul Trasimeno for $35, and Viandente del Cielo for $25. I bought a bottle of the Viandente del Cielo on a whim, and I’m thrilled I did. Not only do I have a beautiful talking point for the next time I have guests over, but the olive oil itself is fantastic.

I paired the olive oil with some fresh ciabatta bread, and compared it to my typical olive oil, Trader Joe’s Kalamata Olive Oil. While the Kalamata oil is extremely strong and tastes purely of kalamata olives, the Viandente del Cielo was light, fresh, and complex. The website says that this oil “is a unique blend of Frantoio, Pendolino, Leccino, Moraliolo and Cipressino olive varietals, to which it owes its mild characteristics and notes of artichoke, straw and pepper.” You can definitely taste the pepper. The smell of the oil is very bright, and the taste is smooth with a fantastically peppery finish. I would highly recommend it!

You can find both olive oils at SkywalkerVineyards.com. Will you be picking up a bottle?

Which Meal Delivery Service is the Best?

If you’ve been on Facebook or ever listened to a podcast, you’re sure to have heard of Blue Apron. It’s one of the original Meal Delivery Services, a box of food delivered to your door, pre-portioned to create easy and delicious recipes. But is it worth it? And is Blue Apron the best service, or just the first?

 

I reviewed four different services back-to-back and ate a whole lot of home-cooked meals to give you the scoop.

 

Spoiler: Meal Delivery Services are awesome.

 

Pros:
  • I tried new things. New recipes, new foods, it got me out of my comfort zone and cooking rut.
  • I ate out less. Having a meal in my fridge ready to go in 30 minutes or less meant less impulse delivery/take out orders.
  • It saved time. I didn’t have to plan out my meals for the week or do a big grocery trip.
  • I spent more time with my husband. We agreed to make all of the meals together, which meant we had a fun activity to do together each day.
  • The meals are (mostly) portion-controlled. The meals only make 2 (or 4) servings, so I know I’m not over doing it. (Like I do every time I make pasta…)
  • The meals were good! The food was delicious and I was proud of a lot of what we created.
Cons:
  • It’s a bit pricy. The meal plans run around $10-11 a serving, so while it’s cheaper than going out to eat, you could definitely save more money by going to the grocery store and buying sale items/items in bulk .
  • There are no leftovers. While I like that it’s portion-controlled, I didn’t love that my fridge was fairly empty and I didn’t have as many options for lunch/additional dinners.

 

First of all, let’s talk about the process. You sign up for a plan, and then you are invited to pick a certain number of meals each week to have delivered to your door. You can initially personalize your plan with diet preferences, and then it will continue to send you weekly meal deliveries unless you skip that week. (It’s very easy to skip weeks, and you can schedule them out fairly far.)

 

Your box of food will arrive at your door on the day you specify, and then you’re ready to cook! The ingredients come labeled and with recipe cards, so you know exactly what you need for each dish. The meal plans assume you have some basics: salt and pepper, oil, access to pots, pans, and bowls, a cutting board and knife, and access to a stovetop and oven. The most important ingredient is a large nonstick pan (I’d recommend around 12″). A lot of the meals involve cooking everything in a single pan.

 

The recipes come with pictures (and often the websites have supplemental video) if you need assistance with cooking it. And then, voila! You’ll have a delicious meal in front of you in around 15-45 minutes, depending on the service you use and the dish you’re making.

 

Below are a variety of Meal Plans in alphabetical order with info on pricing, what makes their plan unique, what we made, and our reviews. When they’ve been available to us, we’ve also included promo codes that will give you a discounted first box. I’d highly recommend trying a discounted box. You’re getting a great deal on a few meals, and it’ll give you a good idea on if you like the service or not. You can cancel any time! (Full Disclosure: Many of the promo codes are affiliate links, and will provide me with credit for future boxes or a small stipend. Basically, when you use them, we both win.)

 

Let me know in the comments which Meal Plans you’ve tried, and what your thoughts were!

 

$8.99-9.99 per meal
Get $30 off your first order with this link
TL:DR; It’s the most well-known for a reason. It’s a great first box and you’ll keep coming back to it.

 

What Makes It Unique?
Blue Apron was one of the first services and they’re continuing to adapt and get better as they grow. You get to choose between 8 meals each week, and they also offer wine boxes and any tools you may need for your kitchen.

 

Meals Tried
  • Spiced Beef Pitas and Garlic Lebneh
  • Seared Cod and Creme Fraiche Sauce
  • Taiwanese-style Chicken
Pros/Cons
+ The food was all tasty. Not the most amazing dishes in the world, but nothing was a “dud”. Great home-cooked meals.
+Portion sizes were perfect.
-They encourage you to wash and pat dry EVERYTHING and salt and pepper EVERYTHING. You really don’t need to do that.
-Meals can take up to 45 minutes to make.

Would We Get It Again? Yes. And we have!

 

$11.95-13.95 per meal
Receive a FREE dinner kit for two with this link
TL:DR; This is the quick, gourmet, and FILLING option. It’s the closest to dining at a restaurant in your home.

 

What Makes It Unique?
Gobble delivers meals that can be made in 10-15 minutes. This means some things are pre-made and most of the veggies are already pre-cut for you. There are 10 meal choices to choose from each week, and you only need to order a minimum of two different meals. Gobble also offers side dishes, desserts, and cocktail mixes for you to purchase ala carte.

 

Meals Tried
  • Focaccia Grilled Cheese (plus soup and salad)
  • Bistro Filet au Poivre
  • Crispy Chicken Sandwich and Cabbage Slaw
Pros/Cons
+It’s quick! Great for busy nights.
+These meals tasted the best out of all the kits we tried.
+-The portion sizes are HUGE. (This is a pro and a con. Great for hungry appetites or people who want leftovers. Not great for portion-control or diets.)
-You’re not learning how to cook a meal from scratch, so you won’t easily be able to replicate these dishes on your own.
-It’s slightly pricier than the other services.

 

Would We Get It Again? Yes. On a busy week when we don’t have time to make full meals.

 

$8.74-9.99 per meal
Get $40 off your first order with this link
TL:DR; HelloFresh may have the prettiest packaging, but the food lacks compared to other services.

 

What Makes It Unique? HelloFresh has the best packaging. Each meal comes packed in its own box that fits perfectly on the shelf of your fridge. You can choose between meat & fish or veggie packages, so it’s vegetarian-friendly. HelloFresh has a breakfast option as one of the 8 meal choices for each week. They also have a wine box and a store for kitchen tools.

 

Meals Tried
  • Shrimp Saganaki
  • Chicken Lo Mein
  • Winning Pork Medallions
Pros/Cons
+The packaging is wonderful!
+The various meal options (vegetarian, breakfast) were nice to have.
-The meals themselves weren’t the best. (It felt like the flavors were unbalanced.)

 

Would We Get It Again? Possibly, if a fantastic menu comes up. But we just weren’t super impressed with the meals.

 

$9.95 per dinner serving, $7.99 per lunch serving, $4.99 per smoothie or fruit basket
Get $30 off your first order with this link
TL:DR; Home Chef is delicious, healthy, and has the widest range of options.

 

What Makes It Unique? Home Chef has 12 dinner options, 2 lunch options, a smoothie option, and a fruit basket. Your first order comes with a binder to store all of your recipes in.

 

Meals Tried
  • Chicken Moutarde
  • Teryiyaki charred Broccoli and Shiitake Mushrooms
  • Steak au Poivre

Pros/Cons

+Each meal comes in its own labeled pouch, which is handy and doesn’t take up tons of space in the fridge. The packaging it’s shipped in has printed instructions on how to break it down/recycle it.
+The food is delicious, and many of the options are healthy. (The majority of the meals I’ve received have been under 600 calories per serving.)
+They have tons of choices available, and having the option to add on lunches/smoothies is very helpful!

 

Would We Get It Again? Absolutely, and we have. This has become our go-to service.