Preface: For noteworthy experiences, there will be separate posts, with detailed information, so as to help you- in your trip planning to Belize. When I begin the process and research of a possible holiday location, I start with my husband and I’s … Continue reading
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.
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.
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.
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:
We 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).
PRIME 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.).
- 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.)
- Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant & Lounge at The Bellagio – Amazing ambience. Great food (get the edamame appetizer). Great service. Yummy sushi. Nuff said.
- 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!
This 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.
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.
A little golf with my honey the first day at TPC Las Vegas!
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).
Fortunately, 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!).
Darlings, I know it has been some time since I have written on here-and a lot has happened. Starting off slow and brief today…..5 things:
1) I am officially in my 30’s! and pretty excited about it. As I am the oldest madam in our group of friends- I will admit-I don’t feel any different than when I turned the young age of 25. I’ve always believed age is relative when it comes to one’s self, and if you believe you are old, than you’ll notice your bones creaking and your skin sagging. Some in society today say age = limitations, but I like to think more positively and strongly believe we set our own countdown. So check it at the door, you negative Nancy’s!
2 ) Seriously, this has been the year of le bebe’s. First our own Mrs. Irvin, then our good friend Steph, a close cousin of mine, and then excitedly I will announce that I am a new auntie 2 x’s over. My sister and law gave life to a sweet little gal, and my little sister created an adorable little dude. Both babes are happy and healthy and the lovely mothers are also doing well.
3) New job-still in the design industry but completely different category. I now design ophthalmic and sunglasses for women, men, youth, and children AND I LOVE IT! The people I work with are freaking awesome and I’m challenged everyday (a good thing). Like I always say, “better to be extremely busy learning than stagnant and bored”!
4) I finally made it to Vegas AND its not my scene . I was there on business, and while the food is very tasty, and the gambling ever so addictive- I believe I will only ever go back specifically for business. Sidenote: While there, my team and I took a cab to Old Vegas- one evening after a day of meetings and it was exactly what I had imagined it to be. Lights, people of all oddities, dollar roulette, cheap diners- and I loved it WAY more than all the glitz and “created” glamour of the main strip.
5) Lastly, I will mention a state of mind I have been experiencing lately, and it is thankfulness. God has placed me where I’m at in my life for a reason, and I can only be grateful for all He has provided. Some days I wonder why specific prayers have gone unanswered for years, but I have to be mindful there is perfect timing in His plan and only He sees the full picture, while I see only the present.
Until next time…
Being an editor in the magazine biz — while not the most lucrative career — does have it’s perks. One in particular: Business trips. Usually my job doesn’t require these, as I run state and regional magazines, like Arkansas Bride. I mainly stay close to … Continue reading
Materialistically speaking……what I’m currently loving: 1. I’m a girly girl, so how could I not fall in love with these tulle skirts from Space 46. You could wear, as shown with an oxford, crisp white shirt, cashmere cardigan, as part … Continue reading
We 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.An 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!!
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!
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.
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)
PS: Mr. Irvin’s beach style snapshot is:
HAPPY SUMMER! SEE YA NEXT WEEK!