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It’s all about Las Vegas…

I have to be honest Las Vegas was not on the top of my list of places to visit this year, I was thinking, London, Italy and maybe the odd trip to Florida or South Carolina… definitely not Vegas, although it was most definitely on my list of places I wanted to visit some day, just not right now.  

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Well why should the boys get all the fun, when they announced they were all getting tickets for the Furer verses Wilder fight, I announced that I would be gate crashing… and so our mini vacay was born.

What happens in Vegas will always stay in Vegas, but I’m here to give you a few hints… 

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I have to tell you the whole trip exceeded my expectations, what a crazy place to visit… as I sat last night in the Venetian Hotel sipping a rather nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc, listening to Opera singing and watching the world go by, I decided that Las Vegas was Disneyland for adults, and you know that I just love the Disneyland for kids, so why wouldn’t I just love the adult version too.

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We were all deciding which part of the vacay was our favorites, obviously Pauls most favorite part was the awesome fight he watched on Saturday evening, Florrie and Tate could not decide, there had been way too much fun to just pick one… for me it was all about the food, I am a total food snob, if I eat out and I think I could have made this better, I’m not happy, but I have to tell you from Eggslut to Eataly the food was awesome, but I do have to tell you that Hell’s Kitchen was my most favorite part, I was grinning from ear to ear the whole time, or so Paul tells me. 

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We have played a few slot machines, we didn’t win a dime, we have walked for miles and miles around hotel after hotel, we have drunk more Starbucks drinks than I care to mention, my bank balance is feeling a little lighter from the hefty price tag of each drink we bought.  We have drunk Happy Hour flights of wine with our older boys, and I have to tell you the $100 bottles of wine we got to sample definitely go down rather nicely. In all of our Las Vegas escapades I have been totally surprised and totally delighted in every way possible.

My favorite hotel by far was Ceasars Palace with the Venetian coming in a close second.  I loved the retro feel of the pink Flamingo Hotel, it felt very Vegas past to me, and I totally loved that vibe.  From cute outdoor wedding chapels to Gondolas floating through hotels, a skyline that looked just like New York to a beautiful castle that looked like it was from Disney, the Las Vegas Strip is the craziest place I have ever been to, but in a truly fantastic way.

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Now let’s talk about food and wine just a little bit more, my quick guide to great food if you ever decide to visit this fair place… Tom’s Urban had an awesome Happy Hour between 4 and 6pm, all alcohol whatever you wanted was 50% off, and when you are on the strip believe me Happy Hour is the way to go.  Eataly in the Park MGM Hotel was like a culinary trip to Italy, an upscale huge food court with an Italian flare, regional wines and delicious cheeses, they even had Happy Hour wine flights at different times of the evening, who wouldn’t want to sample a $90 bottle of red wine before they leave.  Now most of you know I mainly eat a very plant based diet when I’m at home, but these last few days I have treated myself to the most delicious cheese board, I had coddled eggs with puréed potatoes at Eggslut, well worth the 20 minute line to order, even the fresh cooked fries our children ate from the little food court were so delicious.  I did share the scallops on a puréed celeriac in Hell’s Kitchen with Lewis, and I have eaten simple delicious grilled cod with olive oil, salt and Pepper in Eataly… all absolutely delicious, I wish I could start again and eat them all over one more time.  The Crack shack had a delicious poblano and avocado scramble bowl, we’ve eaten shaved roasted brussel sprouts in Tom’s Urban and Eataly, oh and polenta frites they made were a treat for your taste buds.  

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We knew Hell’s Kitchen was a must, Dom had already been when he was on a trip with Jord a couple of years ago, so he went to bed after he stayed up all night in the Casinos… we got to Hells Kitchen earlier for brunch and Lewis joined us, we were a little disappointed not to see Gordon at the pass, as Paul had said hi to him getting in a Limo the night before, after the Boxing, we are still laughing at Paul getting the thumbs up from Gordon Ramsay as Paul shouted over to him. The whole experience in here was so professional from start to finish, our waitress could not have been nicer, the wine was on point, now I know it was brunch but when in Hells Kitchen it just had to be done, the food was absolutely amazing, Lewis raved over the beef Wellington paired with the most perfect red wine, the scallops melted in your mouth, my eggs Florentine on a beautiful green polenta cake was something I wish I could eat every single day… now if you know me well you will know I am not a desert person, but we all decided we had to at least share a couple… now don’t get me started on the sticky toffee pudding, I may be converted to a desert person after all, the chocolate mousse  cake was a master piece, and so delightfully delicious, it was hard to choose a favorite, but if I had to tell you which one… well it would totally have to be both. 

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From Casinos and arcades to beautiful warm swimming pools and gorgeous gigantic hotels The Vegas strip is well worth the trip, and if you think it’s not for kids, think again, there is something for everyone there, whether you are a big or a little kid… now if you haven’t visited this awesome place, I’m guessing your lungs will be thanking you, my one complaint is the cigarette smoke everywhere, when we walked from the sign yesterday it was so nice to be out and away from all that smoke, but with that said Las Vegas we will miss you, we weren’t quite ready to leave, it was all Pauls fault I  was all set to book a few days longer but he needed to get back to work so he can get some much needed money back in our bank account… LOL.  

So long for now… but we will be back!

VIVA LAS VEGAS!!!

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No more resolutions here.

New Year… new year always finds me tearful, I don’t know why because it’s just another day, but I spend the days leading up to it being so reflective, I am a deep thinker, I am my own worst critic and I am an emotional person, I wear my heart on my sleeve, that is who I am and who I have always been. I read an article recently about being the best person we can be, about spending each day accepting who we are and growing from that… so I no longer have resolutions, but I do plan to be a better version of myself this year.

Accepting who I am is a difficult one, especially as I age, my reflection in the mirror seems strange to me, I am not the person I once was, but I have to stop avoiding my reflection and embrace it. I saw a woman in Starbucks recently, I think she was older than me, but she was me 10 years ago, her style was who I am, in that moment I told myself even as I age I need to keep me, sometimes I feel it slipping away because I no longer look like I used to, and I have always sworn to myself I would always be me, in my 60’s I’ll be lacing my DM’s and I’ll still be wearing my ripped jeans, I will always be a little boho and a little vintage because that is who I am and I am going to be that person again this year… I refuse to grow older with dignity.

I am definitely not the most organized of people, sometimes my house is not pristine and tidy, sometimes we eat pizza for dinner and sometimes my laundry pile is over flowing the hamper… this is me, but this year I am working on that, I have a schedule for everything, a schedule for housework, a schedule for home schooling and a schedule for exercise… one thing I do know about myself is, I work so much better with schedules, if it’s in writing I try to keep to it, I don’t over push myself, I believe in not stressing and doing what I can do, after all I am only one person, and Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I often feel as we accept our limitations and accept who we truly are, we achieve greater things, we take the pressure off of ourselves to be someone we are not… and through that we grow… and that is exactly what I have done, I have accepted all of my flaws, and believe me there are many, and I am learning to be just me, but I want to be a better version of me.

Food has grown to be an important part of who I am, I was anorexic in my teens, I had a love hate relationship with food, since then I have always suffered with IBS, some would say it’s a made up disease, some would say it can be miserable and believe me I never really understood I just accepted that was the way I am. In recent years I have discovered the key to being healthy is feeding our bodies with nutritional foods, I have discovered that I can help that IBS by eating well. I have always cooked from scratch, well I guess not back in the early days of being a new mom, but I have grown into the role of cook, chef, of our house, I have taught myself all about nutrition, I am in no way an expert but I do understand what we need to fuel our mind and bodies.

I have always been a menu planner, it keeps me on track and organized, but recently I have not been feeling it, whenever I sit down to work out what we will eat my mind goes blank, what do we like to eat? nothing, blank, what do I normally cook? nothing, blank. So I have devised a new system, again with the schedules, I have gone back to the olden days, when we would have egg and chips every Monday, mincemeat on a Tuesday… I have devised a plan to have days of the week for certain meals , but each week I will change up the dish, so let’s take Saturdays, I made that baked potato day, I love baked potatoes, warm comfort food to the max and the list of toppings are endless, last Saturday we had broccoli cheese on our potatoes, it was a huge success, then this weekend we are having chili topped baked spuds, you can add in some roasted vegetables to the mix, even a huge salad, same meal every Saturday but with a twist… ingenious!

Monday is casserole day, yesterday we had a pasta casserole with a colorful salad, Tuesday is Taco day… of course, think of all the different combos of tacos we can have. Wednesday is Buddha bowl day, one of my favorite meals, nutrition the max. Thursday is sandwich night, it always has been, I’m just changing it up a little… adding in a soup or a salad occasionally. Friday is pizza night, but instead of ordering in we make our pizza fresh, last week I made the pizza dough in the morning, stored it in the refrigerator during the day, took it out and let it rise for an hour, then everyone created their own pizza with lots of healthy toppings… it worked well. Well that’s if you don’t include the clear up process. Saturday is baked potato day, I think this maybe my favorite day food wise. And finally Sunday has a loose interpretation of a roast dinner… last week we had two types of pilgrims meatloaf… one with meat and one without, steamed red cabbage and tiny steamed potatoes. Each day has its own theme that can be changed and interpreted in different ways.

In life we need to accept who we are, we need to learn to not be so hard on ourselves, and in my case I need to embrace the lists, organize my life with schedules, I do know one thing, I am a much happier person when I am organized… so this year is all about embracing life… stopping and smelling the roses, enjoying beautiful sunrises at dawn, taking time to sit down and write or drawing, both things that I love to do, making time for yoga or meditating just a little bit longer, eating well and adapting to change… we need to just be ourselves, whoever we may be.

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Looking back over 2019.

DSCF1585As is life, 2019 was full of ups and downs, but I am most definitely choosing to focus on all of the best that 2019 bought us… and 2019 did not disappoint…

The year started with lots of snow, and although I am not the biggest fan of winter and being cold, if I have to go through this season living in the cold, snow is the way to go, when it snows the world is peaceful and calm, then the blue skies appear and the snow glimmers, our fire roars inside our house keeping us toasty warm and two little children get so excited, my camera comes out as snow boots are put on and foot prints appear in that newly laid snowed… I’ll take that any day over gray rainy days that go on forever.IMG_3113

The beginning of last year saw most of us revising for our US citizens test, I think I was the most nervous out of everyone, everyone’s appointments were at different times on different days, one by one my children added to the number of Americans living in our house until it was our turn, Paul, Blu and I, I do have to say that I think my nerves got the better of me, I could barely sign my name on the iPad they provided, Paul and Blu took it all in their stride of course… we swore allegiance to the Flag and sung the national anthem, I think that was the moment it really hit me… I was an American Citizen.098D69F8-2EF4-4141-AC87-100896701A30

Around May time, Paul needed a break from work so I booked our little trip to Savannah Georgia… oh my what a wonderful week, we did not hire a car, we walked everywhere, we sampled a few bars, who knew in Savannah you could walk around outside with an alcoholic beverage.  The weather was perfect, although it was warm the outdoor pool in our hotel had not heated up just yet, we did not care, we swam everyday, well that was after it took me 30 minutes to actually get in.  We sat by the docks and watched large container ships travelling through, trying to guess their final destination or where they had come from.  My camera had a field day with all the gorgeous buildings, it really was a perfect week for all four of us.IMG_6784

2019 was a year that academically saw two of my children reach milestones in their life… first came Lewis, the first person on either side of our family to graduate with his Masters Degree in environmental science, we drove into Newark for the ceremony, and for once in our lives we were actually early, we even had time to grab some food and beers for Paul and Lewis before the ceremony began… Jordan joined us after work, and surprisingly the ceremony did not last too long, tears most definitely flowed, we laughed, we clapped and I snapped a few photos here and there… an extremely proud moment in time, held there for just one moment.  Next came Mabel, really High School flew by in my minds eye, one minute she was a freshman worried how she would find her way around the huge new school, the next she was graduating with honors, crazy right? The ceremony was held inside due to construction on the field, but to be honest it did not matter in the end, the pride you feel as a parent is the same no matter where you sit.  The best part of both graduations for me was the fact that they were live streamed and all those people that could not be there in person could most definitely watch that moment wherever they were, including my Mom who was 3500 miles away.

It was around a quarter of the way through the year that our lives got turned upside down… we were told that Pauls job would be moving to Columbus Ohio… at first we thought there would be no way we would ever go, but now… we’ll let’s say things change.GPTempDownload

July saw us packing again, we made a quick detour to Philadelphia PA for a night, we headed into this beautiful city for lunch, then Paul and Lewis headed out to watch ELO in concert, which by all accounts was fantastic, then it was time for our final destination, Delray Beach Florida, a last minute change of location and hotel, left us at Palm beach airport with no hotel booking,  when I changed the booking I had forgotten to press the final confirmation button on my iPad… yikes!  Luckily our hotel of choice had one, yes just ONE double suite left, how lucky were we, I wasn’t panicking at all… ha ha.  The rest of our vacation was one of the best I had ever had, resort hotel, beautiful pool and gorgeous beach literally across the road, why wouldn’t it be fantastic. But let’s just add in a cute little seaside town into the mix, free local bus service and quality family time… why indeed would this vacation be anything other than fantastic!

August was tinged with sadness for me, how could I let my big girl head to college, how was she really old enough to fly our little nest… but the time came, we packed up our car full to the brim and moved her into her dorm room, I left with tears in my eyes… but it’s funny how change becomes our new norm, we adapt much quicker than we think is possible… and to be honest it has given us opportunities to visit her and stay in hotels for a few nights away… which is always a plus in my book._dsc0412

The next few months saw my Mum and Dad arrive… yay!  We experienced Family Day at college, Florrie and Tate’s best day EVER, we went apple picking in October on the hottest day, 90f… we managed a few late season swims in Jill and Bobs pool before it closed… and we simply chatted and chatted. This was also the time Jill and Bob moved back to England, our Monday’s definitely changed over night, no drives to Rockaway and no lunches sat around their table chatting about anything and everything, but as I said before the thought of change is daunting but when it happens it’s funny how quickly we adapt, but in all honesty it really doesn’t mean that we still don’t miss them… 7 years of memories is hard to forget for me, that’s for sure._DSC1496 (1) copy

The last part of our year has flown by, we have have visited Princeton, New Hope in PA, Lambertville, Madison and Ewing just a few times.  We have experienced beautiful sunrises, ice rain storms and a huge amount of snow.  Two of my children have left their jobs and are about to start new ones.  We have reconnected with old friends, which I love… and this year for the first time ever we have changed the Holidays up a little, starting the Christmas Break with a wonderful getaway to Long Branch New Jersey, followed by nine days of nothing, just being in the moment, enjoying our family before our busy new year begins.DSCF1553

Change is inevitable, often the thoughts leading up to that change are far worse than the time that follows… the one thing that I have learned as I get older is to try and stay positive even if you are totally scared of what will come next…

Happy New Year everyone.

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What is it like to be a Mom for Senior Prom…

It all starts many months before the actual day with Prom dress shopping…. well it does for us Moms of teenage girls. Junior Prom dress shopping turned into a nightmare last year, we could not find the perfect dress for our budget, we spent day after day, month after month visiting dress shops, we ordered and bought 4 dresses in total and then we finally decided on a dress that M had tried on in the very beginning, which by the way was always one of my favorites and ended up being such a bargain with extra discounts. Moving onto this year, with last years experience under my belt, I had a plan and a budget… one giant outlet dress shop and a free afternoon… well my plan was even more successful than I thought it would be… one shop, first dress we saw, 20 minutes later we were off to get lunch with the dress in our hands… so organized and off to a good start this year.

Next on our prom to do list was organizing the hair appointment well in advance, luckily our last minute hair appointment was so successful last year, we decided this was the perfect place for this year. We did leave shoe and bag shopping a little late but that worked out well in more ways than one. To be honest in all the preparation I was not prepared personally for the actual day….

After having 5 boys who I absolutely adore by the way, I got a beautiful dark hair baby girl, I remember touching her after she was born, trying to take in every moment of her being here, she is almost 18 now, she has challenged me in more ways than I thought possible, there have been fights, tears, laughter and so much joy, but I feel like I blinked and she was here going to Prom. I wasn’t prepared for the emotion that went along with Senior Prom before the actual day. I was and am so proud of everything she has achieved, this year has been challenging for her, but not only has she come out of High School on top with fantastic grades, a few Honors societies under her belt, but she has grown so much as a person, to see her smile light up on Friday melted my heart in ways I have never felt, different ways… I am so proud of each one of my children for who they are, who they have become, and each one of their achievements… and Friday afternoon was no different, except this time my baby was wearing a beautiful pink dress that made her sparkle in every way possible.

So what’s it truly like being a Mom of a Senior at Prom… well my day started with collecting the boutonnière for M, it was then my emotions began to go haywire, it was then I realized that today was truly bittersweet, my heart lit up with pride at this beautiful person she has become, but deep down I felt a huge weight, this day really does signify change, time to move on, but as a Mom it’s hard to let go, I’ve tried so hard this weekend not to be the over bearing mother of a daughter partying at Seaside, so many times I wanted to check she was ok, but I didn’t because I know this will be our life moving forward… college awaits this smart beautiful girl and I want her to enjoy every single moment of this new and exciting life… but I can tell you one thing I was so happy when she text me to say she was home yesterday afternoon.

Time please stop moving too fast, please slow down just a little, let me stay a while in this moment before we move on to a new and very different life… being a mother is challenging in so many ways but the rewards are more amazing than we ever imagined… that’s what being a mother of a Senior is all about… boy or girl they challenge us in ways we never expected but when it is time to fly our little nest called home, are we ready, will we ever really be ready… I think the answer to that will always be no, but we know the time has come to let our babies fly away but deep down inside we know they will always want to come home to us… life changes but our love will never change it will just grow and grow and grow.

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The land of the free…

Memorial Day weekend feels a little early this year, I guess because it’s almost a week before May closes out and June begins… despite feeling a little odd that we have celebrated and we have almost a week left in this month, we had an awesome time.

We celebrated an event that happened earlier last week on Saturday, Lewis’ Graduation with a glass or two of Prosecco, followed by an awesome family evening of chatting and laughter. Sunday was a fun day… NOT, we tackled the crowds at Costco in desperate need for some food it was a must… not one that I would have chosen if our cupboards weren’t completely bare.

Memorial Day was so much fun though… it started relatively early for us, Paul was preparing to take F and T to our local town parade, candy bags ready for the big collection and I was getting ready to take M to meet someone she has been chatting to on her college forum. We arrived in Morristown a little early so Century 21 is always a must to look around, for those of you who don’t know what Century 21 is, it’s a shoppers paradise with 3 floors of discounted brand clothes, shoes, homeware , make up, bags… you name it they have it… always so much fun to mooch around.

Later I had a couple of hours to myself, so after my much needed Starbucks I took myself and my new camera off to explore, it felt really weird for it just to be me, normally I have someone with me… but today just for an hour or two it was me, myself and of course my beloved camera… I love to people watch, so combined with awesome buildings Morristown didn’t disappoint, it was totally alive with Memorial Day crowds, sitting, chatting eating and just simply walking around.

Time flies when you are having fun… my final stop for the day was our friends Pool for a swim followed by a delicious BBQ. I met Paul and our children there, by the time I arrived F and T were already in the pool, splashing around with Jill, they had had an awesome time at the parade with their Dad and their candy bags were full, well fuller than they had been when they started the day, the sun was shining but the temperatures were so pleasant… it really was the perfect way to spend Memorial Day afternoon into the evening… friends, good food and beautiful weather.

Back to a normal week… last few weeks of schooling both home and High School… counting down until school is out for Summer Break, finally I will be able to kick back and relax a little… well almost I forgot we are about to enter Birthday Season in our house, and that is always a crazy busy time.

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New year…

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I’m not sure it really feels like New Year to me yet, for the first time ever I slept right through it, getting stomach flu on vacation was not quite the plan but it happened anyway, hot, cold shivers, violent headaches, stomach pains, nausea and the dreaded run to the bathroom, all led to me wanting to just sleep in bed for three days, but I didn’t, you are only on vacation for such a few days and I wasn’t going to let this thing keep me from getting out and enjoying Arizona, but I did let it allow me to sink into bed early each night and sleep on and off through each evening and night, including New Years Eve… so there were no tears of something lost and happiness of something new this year, just sleep and then more sleep.

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Although I was still kind of out of it on New Year’s Day, feeling a little better but not even 75%, we spent the day in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been privileged to go to… Sedona AZ… if ever you are lucky enough to travel to Arizona make sure Sedona is on your places to visit list, well that’s if you don’t decide to just stay there for a few days… everywhere you look the views are just stunning and surreal, sit in Starbucks sip coffee and the views are phenomenal, grab lunch at one of the many places to eat and the views are out of this world… my only criticism would be that some of the places are a little too touristy and the shops tend to be a little generic, but I wasn’t there to shop, even though we did do a little, obligatory teenage girl Sedona sweatshirt shopping, Mom and Florrie got handmade healing necklaces, oh and an unexpected find of summer Harlem pants… to just sit relax and take in that fantastic scenery that just surrounds you everywhere you look is just amazing and so calming.

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I don’t know why but I always feel a little apprehensive at the New Year… the thought of what a New Year can bring, has had me a little depressed this year. It is silly because really it’s just another day, but it really seems such a big deal… I was reading all these positive New Year posts on social media and I had to stop and give myself a good talking too, although last year was tough with my Mum getting sick there were lots of positives… three of my older sons all have good jobs now, we have had three vacations, one was unplanned to see my Mum, but we still got to see family and friends and see the new regeneration of a town we grew up in and our older children grew up in, our children are all doing well and are happy, Paul and I are in a really good place with our relationship right now and my Mum is through her chemo now and on the other side, she is the bravest person I know and I am very proud of her. So I think I need to start looking at New Year in a new light from now on… how exciting is this year going to be?

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No resolutions from me this year, another first… just intentions to be a healthier more positive me… I want to continue my healthy eating campaign… get back to the cardio and yoga I was doing until I damaged my ankle, no more excuses though, more meditation and learning to relax… and over this winter I want to stay in the warm hibernate by the fire and fuel one of my passions photography, I want to improve my skills, more reading and practicing, I want to be as good if not better than the talented people of the photography Facebook groups I follow.

But for now I am going to enjoy my last two days in Sunny Arizona… relax in the warmth, soak up as many rays as I can because on Saturday when we arrive back home it will be freezing and I need this warmth to last through until Spring… Happy New Year everyone 🎉

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A true diary of photos…

My daughter often tells me I shouldn’t post more than one photo a day on Instagram… But I always tell her I don’t care what I should or shouldn’t do… Oh to be 12 again, and to worry what my friends might think… From the very first day I discovered Instagram it became a diary of photos for me, back then, oh all of 2 years ago, Instagram wasn’t a Facebook for teens and it wasn’t about advertising your business, it was truly about your photos… And that is how I see it…

After being woken up at 4.30am this morning, I sat looking back at photos on Instagram, my children, places, things that would have been forgotten are there for me to remember, sometimes fondly, sometimes with horror, but most of all just there to be savored again and again… Sometimes people are quick to criticize the social media, the fact that as bloggers we put our lives out there, but I think for me it is like an ongoing diary of events, people and places that I would have misplaced over time, lost into the forgetful memory that I have!

I may not be 12 anymore and look at Instagram as my everything social media, but I have always loved it from the first time I discovered the app, I didn’t know many people on there and it was all new and different… To all of my family and friends who are now on Instagram… Please, please, please keep the photos coming… I totally love seeing each and every one of them and do not worry, I think we as adults are allowed to post more than one photo one day if we want to!

So please forgive me for all of my ramblings and if you follow me on Instagram all the endless photos I continue to post… For me this is my life and I get to look back from time to time and think ‘oh yes I remember that day well…’ I also love to share these memories, and share in other people’s memories too, for me this is one of the best parts of social media as we know it… No more photos put away in dusty old closets that no one will ever see… Just lots of memories out there for family and friends to enjoy!

Happy Instagramming!

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