El Sanctuario de Chimayo

Driving to Chimayo, NM

En route to Chimayo, NM

Always up for an adventure, when my husband mentioned New Mexico for New Year’s Eve, I was packed in an hour. As it was last minute, I hastily researched where to stay, and it was decided: Chimayo, New Mexico. Chimayo, a great location between Taos and Santa Fe, is relatively small and can be driven through in about 10 minutes. Located about 40 minutes (scenic highway drive) to Taos, Chimayo is perfect for skiers, wanting to escape the overpriced rates (in Taos) charged during ski season. Within minutes of nearby town Espanola, one can also play the slot machines for a few hours, at the small-ish but clean, casinos (we did, and it was fun). Three things highly rated on Trip Advisor for the town of Chimayo: Casa Escondida-a bed and breakfast we enjoyed on this short jaunt, Rancho de Chimayo Restaurante – a good Mexican restaurant with strong margaritas, which we partook, and El Sanctuario de Chimayo-a religious and sacred site for many.

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El Sanctuario de Chimayo during the day

Sanctuario de Chimayo, a stone’s throw from the main road, is as lovely in mid-day as it is in evening hours. I am pleased I convinced my husband to do a drive by at night, as the grounds were lit with glowing Christmas luminaries (To potential travelers: I am unsure if there are luminaries throughout other seasons- but there definitely are during December holidays).

During Easter weekend, many make a pilgrimage to this place of worship, as it is believed to be sacred, and has been a location of various “miraculous occurences”. Within the church, there is a little room off to the front side of the altar, containing yet another small room which houses a shallow pit supposedly filled with healing “holy dirt” for the general public to take. As a skeptic, I wonder, how does the shallow pit stay filled with “holy” dirt, but again, a healing is a miracle, and miracles can not be explained.

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To visit the lovely Sanctuario, the location is easy to find, however the parking situation is somewhat of a hassle. The spots to leave ones vehicle are few, and are also difficult to get to as the entrance to the lot is barely big enough for two cars to pass. Once in, you could probably spend about forty five minutes, walking the grounds surrounding the church, neighboring church, and just reflecting on the moment and peaceful scenery. As a traveler, I would definitely suggest visiting at least once, however once seen, I don’t believe a second trip is necessary. For trip advisor, I would rate the trip and experience with several good gold stars.

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6 Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Las Vegas Vacation

Mrs. Christensen isn’t the only one who went to Vegas recently. I just returned from a long weekend there with my husband and two of our closest friends. We went for a “babymoon”/30th birthday trip for Michael and it was everything we needed and more. I thought, since you’re not likely to find my reviews on TripAdvisor (yes, I use it for planning and I review things too), I thought I’d share some things I learned on my trip or things I did to ensure we had a great time:

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 12.51.05 PMWe loved The Bellagio. First time to stay there for us.

1) Plan out each day
Everyone’s favorite night of our trip was Michael’s birthday night. His best friend and I spent months planning a very full and exciting night for him. Each activity was a surprise. It was so fun. But what we noticed the next night—a night on which we purposely didn’t plan anything so we could just relax and wing it—was that there are so many – maybe too many – options in Vegas. And if you don’t have a pretty firm plan in place, you might find yourself overwhelmed and unsure what to do next. Or, like with us, you might find yourself gambling more than you planned and/or you’ll wander for “miles” trying to decide on the perfect restaurant for lunch. Or you might find yourself at The Bellagio Buffet one night and live to regret it (like we did). It was ew. #LubysLasVegas

2) Stay at a centrally located hotel.
This will cut down on the amount of walking you have to do (saves energy), the amount of taxis you need to take (saves money) and you’ll be right in the heart of the action. We loved The Bellagio for so many reasons. Not only is it nice inside and out, centrally located, beautiful and clean, and classic Vegas, but it’s also one of the nicest, best laid out casinos; it has many of the nicest restaurants in the whole city on site; and it has the most accommodating and friendly staff ever.

3) Try a new restaurant every meal.
Don’t get lazy and just head back to the places you went to last time you were in Vegas. The restaurant lineup is constantly changing and improving, and there are so many new celebrity-chef eateries to try that you could never get to them all, even if you ate five times a day. Our favorites among the many places we tried were:

  • PRIME at The Bellagio – I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing and worth it it was to dine here. $200+ for two, but AMAZING (try the peppercorn new york steak with a side of au gratin potatoes and the brocolli w/pistachios).

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 12.50.47 PMIMG_5255-0PRIME on Michael’s 30th birthday.

  • BurGR at Planet Hollywood (try the Jalapeno Poppers, the Jalapeno Margarita–it’s really spicy and strong, and any of the burgers. We each got something different and loved them all.).
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The flaming sign outside BurGR. This is definitely a casual spot, and it was packed even though we were eating a late, late lunch at 3:30 p.m.

  • Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesar’s Palace – The BLT is to die for! Also, the lamb burger is supposed to be amaze, but our boys weren’t impressed. (BTW: We aren’t obsessed with Gordon Ramsay, it just happened that we went to two of his restaurants while we were there.)
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The BLT—The bacon was so thick and covered in a yummy glaze!

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 12.52.32 PMAt Yellowtail with my baby. 

  • Spago at Caesar’s Palace – I say go for a nicer lunch and people watch since it’s at the Forum Shops, but dinner is popular there too. We shared the most amazing pizza (one of the best we ever ate) and a caesar salad (just average). The pizza we had was their Italian Sausage & Goat Cheese pizza; try it!

IMG_5176This was the first official picture I took on our trip.

4. Don’t bother hiring a VIP nightlife service.
There’s no need. Club promoters are out during the day looking for nicely dressed people and groups with cute girls to give free entry (and often free drinks) to. We got on the list at the Encore Beach Club, The Bank, Hakkasan, etc. just incase we did end up wanting to go. By getting on the list with these promoters two things happen: 1, you don’t have to pay the expensive cover charges and might get a couple free drinks out of it, and 2, you’ll get to walk right in past all the lines. We decided to go clubbing one night and DID use a service – at Tryst at The Wynn for Michael’s bday night – and it was great because we knew we wanted to go to that exact club. If you don’t really care where you end up, don’t bother with a service, cause you’ll get in a bunch of places for free without their help. You might not bump into a promoter for the exact club you’re hoping for though, so being flexible on where to club is key.

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IMG_5292Pics from Tryst on Michael’s bday night.

5. Stay three nights MAX.
Michael and I broke this rule because it was our first trip away from Baby Grace and we wanted a couple extra nights of uninterrupted sleep (thank you Lord!), and so that was awesome. But the reality is, two “wild” nights in Vegas is sufficient. That’s enough time to scratch your Vegas itch for the year, as well as gamble just enough not to lose your house. It’s time enough to try a few great restaurants, do plenty of shopping, and even get in some golf or pool time.

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IMG_5189 IMG_5195A little golf with my honey the first day at TPC Las Vegas!

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Mimosas by the Bellagio pool Saturday. One of my favorite parts of the trip.

6. Go with good friends (friends who like the same kinds of things as you).
You don’t want to go to Vegas with certain people (you know who they are). Don’t bring the guy that wants to stay up till dawn every night and club hop if you’re not into that. If you’re a foodie and want to dine at the latest and greatest, be sure you’re with people willing to spend the dough to dine with you. You get the idea. Friend trips are so amazing, especially when you go with friends like ours (heart y’all!), but it can get a little uncomfortable if you or your friends are secretly not interested in the same things or don’t have the same mindset about money (like taking taxis v. walking, seeing a show v. gambling all day …) Vegas brings out all sorts of personalities (for me, I spend money on vacation like I’m rich and get home to remember I’m so not, while others come with a strict budget and need to stay on it. That person and I wouldn’t have as much fun together on vacay, prob. LOL).

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Such good friends!

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 12.52.40 PMFortunately, Jen and I both love to shop…her even more than me….
and we both got an early start with Tory Burch shoe purchases (I got these) Friday night!

Ok, so that’s my advice. Take it or leave it.

Now… off to New York I go (trip 2 of 2 commence!).

“Stay”cation…what is it?

outside waterfall cabinWe always need a vacation. Whether you’re a stay at home mother, work a full time job, or just got back from your vacation! I can’t tell you how many times I return from a trip, and am ready to hit the road once more, after the laundry is piled up from a week of fun, and I’m preparing for Monday.

A few people consider a “staycation” as taking a week off of work, and seeing the sights around town, but at night returning to sleep at their home. However personally, I consider a “staycation” as getting OUT of the house, staying in a hotel, motel, cottage or cabin…just so long as its still within a couple hours of home. On my “staycations”, I don’t want the distractions and duties that come along with my homebase. I physically have to leave the premise and not return at the end of the day, in order to welcome that fully relaxed state that occurs with “vacation”.

Earlier in the year I wrote a list of goals to try and accomplish for 2013, and while I won’t complete all, I was able to check #8 off. My #8 was to purchase a groupon getaway, for my husband and I to escape for the weekend. I found a site called “yelp“, which is similar to groupon’s deals, and purchased a one night $95 coupon that was good for $125 at the Anderson Creek Cabins located in Glen Rose, TX. We booked two nights: Friday & Saturday, applied the coupon, & were able to pay a little less than $300 lodging for the whole weekend!

I would recommend this refuge of accommodation for couples, families, or those not into “roughing it aka camping in tents”. We had all the amenities that are present with a normal hotel, except we were away from the hustle and bustle of city life., oh, AND we had a full sized kitchen.

The pleasant innkeepers of the quaint cabins provide: pancake mix, syrup, popcorn, starbucks tea, & coffee in each cabin, and then cut firewood which could be picked up any time throughout the day at a designated wood pile, for an enjoyable cozy campfire at night. Propane grills are provided on the deck of each cabin for grilling, and the spacing of the four cabins, is far enough from each, that you cannot hear or even see your neighbor “campers”!

We stayed in the “Waterfall Cabin”, which when provided with a decent amount of rainfall, produces a waterfall that can be viewed from your personal deck. Unfortunately, as we’ve been in a bit of a drought, there was just a lovely view of the rock face sans water.

If you enjoy hiking, nature, or have children who like dinosaurs, Dinosaur Valley State Park is less than five minutes from the Anderson Creek Cabins. The hikes are easy, not even intermediate, unless of course you are going to “get primitive” and decide to hike the path less traveled.dinodino printusAn amazing dessert place in downtown Glen Rose called, “Pie Peddlers“, creates homemade cream & fruit pies, so if you have a sweet tooth, make sure to try a slice of blackberry pie and key lime pie. It was delicious and so worth it!!pie peddlerspie

Next time you are interested in a inexpensive getaway for the weekend, check groupon or yelp, because you just might be packing your bags sooner than you realize! Have fun friend & share your finds!

Show Your Stripes!

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I would so wear this…

Not sure what it is about stripes. Perhaps I see them as a “classic”, or safe neutral, but they are my go to on days when I find myself staring at all of the clothes I own, thinking of how I have nothing to wear.

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1) The Kiki, Kate Spade 2) Viva Striped Tote, Tory Burch 3) Dolce & Gabbana 4) Tory Burch phone case 5) FAKE/REAL Forever 21

Stripes don’t have to always be in black and white to be classic. Check out the below examples of stripes in fashion colors. I love how a good navy and white stripe can make any outfit look polished and instantly put together.tumblr_me0ah1ZwlD1rrhfopo1_500

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colored stripes

1) Archival Dress, Anthropologie, 2) atlantic-pacific blog, 3) callmeclassy.tumblr.com 4) tatteredfeather.tumblr.com/post/12579269739

me in stripes

Me, mixing navy/white stripe top with floral skirt, and alligator belt

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Never would have thought to pair with a fur vest, but it works!

Here are some good black and white dresses:

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Some cute top ideas:

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Me in stripes for girl’s night. Dress by Virginia Taylor

Mini Post: Beach Style Snapshot of the Day

I’m on vacay right now, so this is a mini post / aka a summer style snapshot of what I’m wearing today in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida on the Gulf Coast.

1) Nautical-themed Romper by Sperry via Nordstrom.com 20130701-153551.jpg

2) Tory Burch flip-flops via the Tory Burch Boutique in Highland Park Village in Dallas, Texas
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3) White & Gold Floppy Hat via Target (as is the lime green bikini top you’ll see peeking through from behind the romper)
4) Chanel Sunglasses via The Artful Eye, Seaside, Fla. (vacay purchase)

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PS: Mr. Irvin’s beach style snapshot is:

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1) Lobster trunks via Brooks Brothers
2) Special Edition Steve McQueen “714” Persol Sunglasses via The Artful Eye in Seaside, Fla.
3) Nike Razorback ball cap via unknown

HAPPY SUMMER! SEE YA NEXT WEEK!

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