Sky Suites at the Aria Hotel, Las Vegas

When I travel, I have been lucky enough to stay in a diverse range of hotels, homes, hostels and accommodations. From gorgeous suites to shared dorms, plush rooms to campsites, quaint B & Bs to mid-range hotels, there truly is a time and an occasion for everything!

In Las Vegas, however, I love a bit of luxury. In a city devoted to decadence, it's the perfect place to splurge on a suite and really enjoy the high life.

To quote Donna Meagle:

When Matthew and I went on our honeymoon in 2015, we stayed in two Vegas hotels, the MGM and the Aria. Both were nice hotels, but the Aria just blew us away with the quality of the rooms, the levels of service and the fantastic location, so when we added a Vegas leg onto our autumn trip last year, it had to be the Aria.
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I had to illustrate a post called Plates with a picture of some of my own pretty plates, right? These beauties are from West Elm, John Lewis, Monsoon, Laura Ashley, Marks & Spencer and one from my parents' wedding crockery. I love me some pretty plates!

Do you ever feel like sometimes you're trying to keep dozens of plates in the air? Like there's so much to do, and not quite enough time to do it?

Lately I've been feeling this, in a big way. I'm lucky enough to have a busy life (and lucky enough to have coffee and patience enough to whizz through said busy life), but this latest season is calling upon my inner acrobat a little. I've neglected my blog a fair amount, but one of the joys of having been in the blogosphere for over a decade means I'm well aware of the ups and downs of writing. With being back into full-time work (and what's more, full time work which I thoroughly enjoy), it's been the right thing to designate the blog to the backburner to simmer a while, whilst other more pressing tasks, activities and projects, from settling in with a new class, to helping backstage with the Year 3 play, to actually seeing my husband, have taken precedence.

So back to the plates. I like to think of each area of my life as a separate little plate, and one which I have to spin and keep in motion or it will falter and fall. Some plates are big and important - my job, my marriage, my home, my friendships. Some are smaller, but are shiny and beautiful and catch the light as they spin - these plates add so much to my life and are good for my health, my wellbeing and my soul. They include writing, blogging, exercising, cooking, walking, snuggling up with three very silly cats, reading and volunteering. Then there are the smaller plates, the ones which you can almost forget...until they threaten to fall.

We all have these plates. Yours might look very similar, or very, very different. But they will be there. This past few months, with a pretty big life change (from work at home writer and homemaker to full-time teaching is a big shift!), I've been working hard to keep the plates aloft, and I think I've managed it, for the most part.

All this to say, it's nearly Easter break, and I intend to do a good week of writing during the time off which is on the horizon. Brace posts are coming. I have holidays to recount, books to review, recipes to write up and so much to share.

But first, the end of term. And a jaunt to Italy. I'll see you soon, lovelies.
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Happy Monday #20

I'm back! And ready for the first Happy Monday of 2017. Inspired by the lovely Katy and Jasmin, these erstwhile roundups focus on the good things, big and small, that make it all worthwhile.

  1. Time with friends

Whether it’s brunch with Kaz, pizza and a movie with Shona, a baby shower for a dear JLL sister, silliness and fun with bloggy friends, dinner giggles, or catching up with Jenna after a two-and-a-half year break, I’m always grateful for time with the people who make up my tribe.

2. Lighter mornings

Isn’t it great to wake up and head off to work and it’s not pitch dark?

3. Dancing
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The Bear and the Nightingale

I have a soft spot for fairy tales. I think in the mystical, the fantastical, the other-worldly, stories can inhabit a special, revealing place, and I love getting swept up by a narrative that takes me to a different space.

The Bear and the Nightingale (Del Rey, out now in hardback; paperback releasing in October 2017), is a Russian fairytale, all about the sinister and unknown things which may lie around us, in the deep and unknown woods. The story, in its snowy, rural setting, is written in a lyrical and beautiful style, with vivid descriptions and exquisite pacing.

This is one of those books which hooked me from the blurb:

"In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, an elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of the family, tales of old magic frowned upon by the church.

But for the young, wild Vasya these are far more than just stories. She alone can see the house spirits that guard her home, and sense the growing forces of dark magic in the woods... "

I mean. For someone who loves a bit of Gaiman, Pullman and Morgenstern...that's my kind of intro!

The story follows Vasya, our headstrong, wild girl, the youngest child in the Vladmirovich family. Growing up without her mother, who died shortly after Vasya's birth, she is the baby of the family, who is doted upon by her older siblings. Vasya has inherited her mother's gift of the second sight and spends her time in congress with the spirits and guardians of the land around her. She befriends many of the spirits and tries to aid them as the rest of her village start to move away from them and from the ancient magic. Concerned that Vasya will never marry without changing her ways and becoming a dignified and proper young lady, her father remarries. From here, things begin to unravel, and the forces of the old magic and the modernising ways are thrown into conflict.

This is an evocative, unputdownable book, full of elegant prose and beautiful moments. I found myself gripped as the story unfolded and missed my tube stop on more than one occasion as I was so gripped by the world if snow, folklore, old gods and hearth-spirits. Recommended.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book to review from the publisher. All opinions, thoughts and ponderings are my own.
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