Monday, 17 July 2017

July - Weeks 1 & 2 in Review

Hello again, hope you have all had a lovely weekend and are enjoying this glorious weather we are having. Hasn't this been the best Summer we have had in a long time? So far July has been relatively quiet and laid back month for us which is nice as its meant we have been able to sit back and relax a little.

The weekend before last we had no plans at all and as Tom had no overtime we made the most of quality time together and the good weather by spending a lot of the weekend outside. After a bit of food shopping on the Saturday we headed outside to do a little bit of gardening, although mostly it was just getting rid of the weeds and generally tidying up our bit of outside space. To be honest I have no idea what I am doing where the plants are concerned but they seem to be thriving and are all in bloom so I must be doing something right. Saturday evening was also spent outside as a couple of our neighbors came to join us for a cheeky G&T or three - I do love it when the weather is good, there is nothing quite like sitting outside on a warm Summers eve!! On Sunday morning I woke early so I got up and left Tom sleeping and headed to my craft room where I had planned to scrap. As it was the room was a bit of a mess so I decided to have a little tidy up before I started - four hours and several bags of rubbish later and I finally emerged from my room without having done one single bit of crafting lol. I did have a very clean and organized craft room though. The rest of the day was spent outside in the sunshine, as much as I wanted to scrap I also wanted to make the most of the weather so there was no way I was sitting inside.
On Wednesday of last week I went out for dinner after work with my friends Christine and Theresa. We went to Browns up at Butlers Wharf and it was ok but it was nothing special and to be honest I actually thought it was a tad expensive for what we had. The riverside location of the restaurant is fabulous but that's about it really - not somewhere I would recommend or rush back to. Luckily the company was much better and us ladies spent a good couple of hours just chatting and catching up. I also had my very first Aperol Spritz which I rather enjoyed - I think I may just be partaking of a few more of those in the coming weeks.
Friday evening saw me do my first Scentsy party for a while. It was in my local tenants hall and I didn't actually have very high hopes for the sales on the night to be that good but in the end it was my best order to date. This is great news as it means I am again active for at least the next three months, plus hopefully my new customers will start to place regular orders which means I wont have to worry too much about my targets. As I was the 'hostess' I got to claim the commission and benefits - cue new a warmer and lots of waxes coming my way.
I didn't sleep well at all on Friday night, in fact I was wide away and up at 4am on Saturday. I tried to snooze on the sofa but I couldn't get nod off so I just (quietly) pottered about and did a few bits and bobs around the flat. Once Tom was up we took a drive down to Crafts U Love as I was desperate for some card stock to use for the holiday scrapbook I am making. I enjoyed wandering around the shop and as planned I got a nice stash of bazzil as well as some lovely new papers. Tom bought me a Project Life kit but that is going away for my birthday (only a couple of weeks to wait to get my hands on it). After shopping we went over to my Mums to celebrate her birthday - cue lots of family fun and plenty of cake!
Yesterday I was home alone as Tom went into work on overtime. I managed a far better nights sleep on Saturday and woke at a decent hour which meant I felt nice and refreshed. After doing a few household chores I headed to my craft room where I managed plenty of pages for my LA, Disney and Vegas album. I am so pleased that I have finally started it, my mojo has returned along with the enthusiasm to actually do some scrapping.
I have made a bit of a major purchase this month in the way of a new compact camera. I have sort of had my eye on the Canon G7x MkII for a while now but couldn't really justify buying it yet as I only bought a larger bridge camera about a year ago. I took the larger camera on holiday with us and while I used it daily I did find that it was quite cumbersome at times and a bit of a pain to use and keep lugging about. After doing some more research and a lot of debating I took the plunge and bought the smaller camera. Its picture quality is up there with the other one and having had a little play with it over the weekend I am so far very pleased. On the plus side it also takes fab video footage which will come in very useful on next years holiday (separate post to follow on that snippet of info). I think I will get far more use out of the compact camera as it fits neatly into my handbag and is therefore a whole lot more user friendly. Sorry Canon Powershot SX camera but you are now up for sale!

Thanks for stopping by, please feel free to leave me a comment and a link back to your blog if you have one.

Love and hugs, Jane xx

Thursday, 13 July 2017

June 2017 in Review

As we arrived home on a Thursday I spent the first few days/weekend at home dealing with the unpacking and washing. It was nice to have those extra days to relax a little and catch up on chores before the reality of having to go back to work hit. By the time my Monday morning commute arrived I was suffering with a huge dose of jet lag and the post holiday blues - the office wasn't where I wanted to be! Luckily for me I didn't come back to too much of backlog of work so I was able to ease myself back into it at a fairly relaxed pace.

So what did we do in June apart from mope about and moan about the fact that our holiday was done?? Well for the second year running we were gifted tickets to Taste of London at Regents Park by our favorite Argentinian steak restaurant Constancia. Taste of London is a foodies heaven with loads of different restaurants, bars and food/drink suppliers all vying for your trade. There are plenty of samples to be snapped up as you go around but if you want to actually buy something to eat and drink its really quite expensive for what you get. As eating out is something we both like to do we really enjoyed the event but agreed that its not something that we would actually pay to attend due to the high cost of both the entry tickets and whats available to buy once your inside. Still there are far worse ways of spending a warm Summers evening in London.

The first weekend after our holiday Tom started doing overtime again. Now as much as I don't enjoy spending chunks of my weekends alone I do know that its the overtime that pays for the nice things in life and that at anytime the it could dry up so its a take it while you can situation. As our 2018 holiday is now in the planning (more about that in another post) I am happy to suffer it.

We celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary on Thursday 22nd June however as we were both working we put off the celebrations until the Saturday when we went out for a lovely meal at the Argentinian that had given us the TOL tickets. Its just around the corner from where we live and although its not cheap its now our go to place for special occasion. The steaks there are amazing, probably some of the best I have ever had.

The weekend working continued for Tom so I had a couple of shopping/lunch days out. One was with my friend Jules and her lovely daughter Tinks. We met in London and spent a afternoon wandering around Lush, Benefit, Irregular Choice and Liberty. I was quite restrained and only bought a couple of beauty items from Urban Decay and some bath bombs in Lush. I did spot a lovely pair of shoes in IC which may have to be snapped up next time I go into London. I also met up with my sister and niece, for a little shopping trip to Dartford. It wasn't the best of places to go to be honest but I managed to little Primark haul which is never a bad thing.

I had my first post holiday weigh in and was pleasantly surprised to have only put on 2.5lbs. All that walking obviously paid off.

That's it for now, thanks for stopping by.

Love and hugs, Jane

Monday, 10 July 2017

The Most Amazing Holiday Ever - The Cosmopolitan Days

So we were now in the last 3 days of our holiday, our adventure was sadly coming to a close, but not without us moving to one more hotel before we left. For the last part of our trip we chose to stay in the Cosmopolitan which is one of the newer hotels on the Strip. The main reason that we wanted to stay here is that some of the rooms have terraces that overlook the Bellagio fountains. Hotels rooms with terraces are a real rarity in Las Vegas as the hotels don't want you sitting out there admiring the view, they want you on the casino floor gambling, or drinking in one of their bars. The reason that you will find them on some of the Cosmopolitan rooms is that this was never intended to be a hotel, when it was originally built it was to be condo's but then the crash came and no one wanted to buy them so the building was turned into a hotel.

Anyway after a hassle free check out we waved goodbye to the Encore we headed down to the famous Las Vegas sign so we could have our picture taken. It was very hot and the queue was quite long but we were done in about 20 mins. Luckily there was a guy on hand who would take your picture for you using your camera or phone. He was there last time we went and is a pretty good photographer who will take loads of pics so we didn't mind having to tip him for his efforts.
Next stop was a little more shopping, but this time rather than general items of clothing etc I had my eyes on something a bit more specific. For years now I have wanted a pair of cowboy boots, something that its impossible to get in the UK unless you want a pair that look like something you would wear to a fancy dress party. Anyway I was pretty overjoyed and excited to see a huge great store called the Boot Barn a just a little bit further down the road from the sign so with time to spare we made a little detour so I could take a look. At first I was a little overwhelmed as the store is huge but a lovely assistant called Betty came to my aid and between us we found me the perfect pair of boots. I had been looking online before we went away and the ones I liked the most were by a company called Ariat which are exactly what I got. Everything about the boots is of the highest quality from the leather to the stitching and even better they are super comfortable. Now I just need someplace over here to wear them - am thinking the Lady Antebellum concert that I am going to in Sept could be the perfect outing.

Shopping done we headed back to the Encore to collect our bags which we had left with concierge. We stopped at the first Wynn to have lunch in the Terrace Point Café, there was quite a lot of people in front of us as we seemed to have arrived at the same time as a load of conference delegates but we didn't have to wait too long for a table. We chose to sit inside as it was around 106 degrees on the outside terrace. The food and service here were fab and we would love to try it out again, maybe when its not so hot so we can sit outside and enjoy the pool views.

We arrived at the Cosmo around 3pm and left the car with valet parking as we couldn't be bothered to find self parking and then trek back with our cases. There were quite a lot of people in the lobby and it was a little difficult to work out who was trying to check-in and who was trying to check out. The whole atmosphere here was completely different to that at the Encore, it was noisy, a little disorganized and not relaxing or welcoming at all. The room we were given a Premium View Terrace Studio on the 31st floor of the Chelsea Tower floor facing the Bellagio fountains and the Strip. As we made our way up to our room we both already knew that we didn't really like the Cosmo and that to change that thought the room would have to blow us away. Our room was lovely, it was a lot nicer and a little bigger than we expected and the views from the terrace were amazing but that was about it. I am glad that we stayed there and experienced it and we would stay there again if it was the only option, however as far as we are concerned the terrace is the only thing it has going for it, if it wasn't for that it wouldn't even be a contender. After unpacking and freshening up we went for a wander around the hotel and further down the Strip. We walked down to NYNY and made a few purchases in the Hershey shop, it was here that Tom found the biggest KitKat we have ever seen! Honestly it was the size of a small suitcase (and no we didn't buy it). Next stop was the Chocolate Bar where we both had a chocolate martini - delicious and not too sickly sweet at all. We mooched about for a little longer and then headed back to the hotel where we stopped for a drink in the Chandelier Bar - we didn't stay here too long though as it was so busy and noisy that we couldn't really hear ourselves think. I will also add that the service here wasn't all that, the waitress really didn't seem that interested in serving us at all. In the end we gave up and headed to our room to have a drink and a couple of slices of 'secret' pizza on our terrace.
We spent the next couple of days just relaxing on the balcony, chilling out, wandering around and enjoying Vegas. We took a trip down to Fremont Street to see the light/canopy show which this year had a very patriotic theme, all stars and strips and the national anthem. We walked down to the new Container Park area where we had planned to have a drink and something to eat but it was so quiet we didn't bother, instead we decided to just head back to the Strip. We ended up in Virgil's BBQ in the Linq which was really, really nice. Food and service were great and it was pretty reasonably priced too. Afterwards we went to Ghiradelli for ice creams and to stock up on chocolate supplies for home. Whenever we are in America we always hunt down a Ghiradelli, as far as we are concerned its just the best chocolate and ice cream in the world. Once back at the hotel we headed for the Chandelier bar again but it was heaving, there wasn't a table to be had anywhere so we wandered on and eventually found the Vesper bar which is right by the hotel lobby. This is possibly the nicest bar in the hotel, its a lot quieter and because of where it is it feels a lot more open and not so 'clubby'. We sat at the bar and our barman was really nice and chatty, in fact he was probably the only Cosmo employee who actually made us feel welcome.
For our last night we had originally booked a table in Top of the World at the Stratosphere but as neither of us fancied getting dressed up and travelling down to the other end of the Strip we cancelled it and opted to go to the Cheesecake Factory for one final blowout. As anticipated the meal was lovely the portions were huge but we still managed to make some room for cheesecake, although we did share it. Our chosen flavor this time was Lemon Raspberry - delicious. After dinner we took a slow walk back to the hotel taking one final night time look around, we stopped to watch the fountains, Tom had his photo taken with a couple of showgirls and we sat and played some slots before heading to Vesper again for drinks. We ended the night with a bottle of wine on the balcony , had to enjoy that view one last time. We sat there talking about the holiday and how we couldn't quite believe this was our last night and that our holiday was over, it had gone way too fast.
On our last morning we went to the Wicked Spoon for a breakfast buffet and although it was nice it was no where near as good as the Bacchanal buffet in Caesars Palace.We headed down to reception to check out and once again we were met with total chaos, the queue was huge as it was the same line to check in and check out. Seriously Cosmo your front desk and customer services need a little looking at! We dropped the car off at the car hire terminal and made our way to the main airport where we were told that we had a 1.5 hour delay - boo, who wants that on the way home. Luckily in the end it was only about an hours delay so it wasn't too bad. The flight home was fine, no major turbulence and we both managed to get some sleep which was an added bonus.

So that's it, the end of our our trip - I hope you enjoyed my report. If your thinking of planning a trip to Vegas and you have any questions please feel free to ask me, I am more than happy to help out if I can.

Thanks for stopping by to read. I will be back to 'normal' everyday blogging soon.

Jane xx

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

The Most Amazing Holiday - Part 4 - The Encore Days.

Now if you know me or if your a long time follower of this blog you will know just how much Tom and I both love Vegas, and with this trip completed we have now been there 8 times. People often ask us what it is we like so much about it and to be honest I really cannot answer that question. We don't gamble that much, we don't go to pool parties or night clubs and we don't drink to excess. I don't know what it is but there is just something about Vegas that is slightly bewitching and its this that draws us back time after time. I have lost count of the number of times I have said that we wont be going back for a few years as we are taking a break from it and we end up booking another trip. Anyway this was our first trip to our happy place since Oct 2015 and although that was a great trip it was also quite draining as we were both carrying the ends of really heavy colds and chest/sinus infections. In hindsight I don't think we enjoyed that trip as much as we had hoped and we certainly didn't do as much as we had planned as we just didn't seem to have the energy or enthusiasm. Anyway as we did manage to do so much this trip this is another long and photo heavy post, hope you enjoy it.

So Thursday June 1st had finally arrived - it was time to get up, pack up and head off to Vegas baby (part 8)! After breakfast on the hotel terrace we set off on the 4+ hour journey through LA and the Mojave desert. Having been warned about the heat going through Death Valley we made sure that we had plenty of fuel and that we had water and snacks to keep us going. The drive wasn't that bad at all, we made one brief stop at Peggy Sues diner which was pretty cool to see, if your ever driving this way make sure you pop in and ladies make sure you check out the toilets. The scenery in parts was amazing, the desert was stunning to look at but as we got further out of LA and closer to Vegas the outside temperature was climbing higher and higher, it was getting HOT out there.

In the end the drive took us a little over 4.5 hours, seeing Vegas glistening in the distance as we were approaching was pretty cool and certainly got out excitement levels rising. When we were planning this trip we were pretty undecided on where we wanted to stay this time, and in the end we had two hotels (the Encore and the Cosmopolitan) on our shortlist. As we couldn't narrow it down to one we made the decision to split our trip and spend three nights at each with our first three nights at the Encore. As we pulled up to the valet station we were totally wowed by the level of customer service and as we entered the hotel the wows didn't stop coming. The hotel is stunningly beautiful, its most definitely the best hotel we have ever stayed in. Check in was a breeze, our host was lovely and she made sure that we had a great room on the 61st floor with a view towards downtown Vegas and the mountains. We even received a gift of a little box of chocolates from her as she knew we were there to celebrate our anniversary. The room was beautiful and the view from the floor to ceiling windows was pretty amazing. The Encore is one of the top, and therefore more expensive hotels in Vegas but that title and the price tag are very well deserved. I could not fault the hotel in any way, shape or form and going forward this will now be our Vegas home, even if I have to sell a body part to be able to stay here.
After we had unpacked we headed out to the North Outlet village for a spot of shopping. There are two outlet villages in Vegas but the North one is by far our fave. We spent a good few hours wandering around and buying ourselves some new clothes etc. With the weak exchange rate things are certainly not as cheap as they used to be but there are still plenty of bargains to be had if you shop around. We headed back to the hotel to drop off all our goodies and then made our way down to the Vegas icon that is the Peppermill. We have been here once before on a previous trip but that was to the main restaurant, on this visit we were going to try the Fireside Lounge. This is somewhere that was recommended to us and it was fab, a really lovely laid back cocktail lounge with a indoor fire pit. We spent a couple of hours just chilling out and enjoying some drinks and the biggest plate of nachos ever! The night was finished off with a couple more drinks in the lobby bar of our hotel.

The first full Vegas day dawned and although we had plans we were in no rush so we just enjoyed the comfort of our room and took our time getting showered and dressed. We took a leisurely stroll along the Strip and ended up at the Bellagio as we wanted to see the display in the Botanical Gardens, as usual it looked and smelt amazing.
We also walked through Caesars Forum shops where I shopped a little more (yes I love to shop and I LOVE to shop in the States). I picked up some bits in Sephora, A&F and Victoria's Secret before we realized we needed to dash over to Harrahs Piano Bar for to catch the Big Elvis show. Pete Vallee has been performing as Elvis for years and years and every time we go to Vegas we say we will go and catch one of his shows but we have never managed it until now. Its a free show although its in a bar so I guess you are expected to buy a couple of drinks. I am so pleased that we finally managed to see the show, I even got a picture with the man himself. Honestly if your in Vegas and you like Elvis and fancy a fun hour singing along get yourself down to Harrahs, just check the show times before you go as they are subject to change.
We went back to the hotel to chill out and freshen up before heading out for the evening. Our plans for tonight didn't involve us going to far, we just walked down to the Linq where we did a ride on the High Roller (like the London Eye but higher). Last time we were in Vegas we did a night time ride which was amazing and we decided before we went away that we would like to do it again but this time during daylight hours. Its a pretty cool way of getting a birds eye view of Vegas and the surrounding area. Dinner tonight was in one of our fave Vegas restaurants - Margaritaville. We both love it here, its a really cool, fun place to eat and the food is great too. After dinner we went next door to the 5 o'clock somewhere bar which is also part of Margaritaville and is somewhere that we like to go. However on this occasion we didn't like it as much as previous years, service wasn't as attentive as it usually is and the bar area was filthy, it looked like it hadn't been cleaned in god knows how long. Anyway we had one drink and then headed off to finish our night elsewhere.

Saturday dawned and we were up and out early as we had tickets to the Neon Museum in Downtown Las Vegas. Now I have wanted to visit here for ages and I am so glad that we finally managed it, honestly if you are into Vegas history you have to come here. For now I am just sharing a couple of pics as I plan to do a separate post on the museum at a later date. We also went to the Mob Museum which was ok but after about 20/30 mins I was a little bored. Tom enjoyed it though as he is pretty interested in the mob and all that.

Once back at the hotel we decided to have a little pool time but that only lasted about 1.5 hours as it was sooooo hot, I think it was around 104 degrees! Far too hot for us.

Saturday night was our big night out to celebrate our anniversary in Vegas. We had made a reservation at a restaurant in the Encore called Sinatra which is Italian with a modern twist. The restaurant was really busy but we were given a fab table by the windows that overlooked the outdoor patio and we were also given cards to wish us a happy anniversary and Tom a happy birthday. The food and service were amazing and the chocolate dessert which we shared was the best, I am so glad that we chose to have a pudding in the end as we very nearly opted not to have one. Its not a cheap restaurant but if your celebrating a special occasion or you just want to treat yourselves then give it a try.
After the meal we took a stroll over to the Wynn where we had a couple of drinks on the outside terrace in Parasol Down. Its the perfect place to just sit back and enjoy a cocktail or two in beautiful and relaxing surroundings. We finished the night off by playing (and winning) on the slots. Sadly this was our last night in the Encore, tomorrow morning we would be packing up and heading to the Cosmopolitan for our last 3 nights.

Thanks for stopping by, and if you made it all the way through this post I thank you! Please feel free to leave a comment.

Love and hugs, Jane xx