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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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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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Can you believe 2015 has been and gone.

DSC_5627Like many people at this time of year I am not only reflective but also hopeful for a simple new year with lots of love and happiness around me.  As we enter 2016 I am thinking about how to improve my life, my list is as always, be more organized, spend lots more time with my family and friends and learn to move on, I always linger in the past wishing for simpler days, when really I should, look to simplifying my days going forward.

2015 bought many good memories along with some not so good ones, fortunately last year the good out weighed the bad, so I consider myself very lucky.  The year started with struggles in life in general, but there was hope that things might improve,  I am a firm believer in what hurts us only makes us stronger, and this is so true in my life, as I get older I definitely learn by the mistakes of the past.

The beginning of last year was brutally cold, our sad propane heating struggles to heat our house at the best of times, but last winter it failed miserably, but looking at the positives, meant it gave me determination to resolve the situation with a beautiful wood burning stove that heats our house perfectly now.IMG_0639

March bought about two special Birthdays and a new job in our house, my little Tate had his first Birthday  and two days later Paul turned 50 with a bang, a few days after that and after 29 years in his previous job, he very bravely started his new job, which so far seems to working out.IMG_0962

Our Easter tradition seemed to have started with our second Easter Saturday at the shore in April, it was very windy and chilly but it didn’t stop my Florrie from getting on the sand with her Dad.  May is always a busy month in our house with two Birthdays, an anniversary and of course American Mothers Day, but last year we added to our busy month with two graduations resulting in new degrees and then eventually two new jobs later in the year.  Florrie had her fourth Birthday, it seems hard to believe that this year she will be five, has it really been five years since that little ray of sunshine entered our lives.IMG_0751

Mabel graduated from Middle school at the end of June and we enjoyed a beautiful summer before she became a High School student, although I considered not letting her go, she is growing up so fast.  Summer flew by in a blink of an eye, but this year we managed to get away for a week to Cape Cod, a much needed break for Paul and myself.  We finally managed a trip into New York City to meet up with an old friend and his son,and we finally walked along the High Line, a trip we had been planning for a couple of years. August was filled with High School Soccer, heat week training, early morning practices and the start of the freshman and JV games for us, busy, busy, busy.IMG_1189

I have mixed feelings about Fall, on the one hand I love all things pumpkin, the beautiful Fall colors, warm soups and casseroles and apple cider donuts, but on the other hand, Fall means that we will be entering my least favorite season, Winter very soon, this year we have been very lucky though the weather has been mild and beautiful on many days leading up to Christmas, we even managed a day at the beach in December then sat outside a small coffee shop sipping coffee into the evening.  Fall brings along the pumpkin patches, corn mazes and lots of fun for Florrie and Tate, I love this season for all of those reasons and this year has been no different for me.DSC_3034

I consider myself a vey lucky ex-pat, I get to spend almost 3 months at a time with my parents, I love the time I spend with my Mum, but when she leaves it is the hardest part of living here.  Just before Thanksgiving, both of my parents arrived to spend a lot of this winter with us, Christmas day was in my opinion one of the best we have had for a few years, the day was so mild, my Mum and I drove to Starbucks for a quiet while after a very busy few weeks, we drove home to have a champagne brunch, opened presents, cooked and ate more food, my children all played board games, we then played Yankee Swap and then some more board games… just perfect.IMG_1431

We are very lucky to have some very kind friends both here in New Jersey and far away, this year we got to celebrate New Year in style with our very kind friends who live a 45 minute drive away from us… we love their family and their friends, it was so much fun to see them… thank you, you know who you are.

Life has its ups and downs for all of us and of course the past year was no different for us as a family, one of my children was diagnosed with an illness that can only be managed, and although as a mother I struggled and still do with the thought that I can not change this, I am learning to deal with it day by day and I think he is learning everyday too.  This year also saw the loss of a friendship for me over something so silly, if anyone knows me well they will know I do not give up on any of my friendships easily and this one was no different, but unfortunately she did not feel the same so I have had to move on, it makes me sad that this friendship came to an end, I miss her and her family a lot, but I have had to learn you really should not stay up until 5am drinking with friends, because some things that are said can never be taken back, even 2 years later.

I have no resolutions this year, I find I never stick to them so I just have hopes and goals… my one hope is that we all stay healthy and then the rest will hopefully fall into place… Happy 2016 to everyone, lets hope it is a good year filled with lots of laughter for all of us.