26 March 2016

Afternoon Tea at the Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas

When we first booked our holiday to Las Vegas, one of the first things I did (of course!) was look for a good afternoon tea for our trip!

You may not consider a serene afternoon of sophisticated nibbles and alcohol-free beverages a 'typical' Las Vegas activity ... but there's never a bad time for tea and cake!

Dragon tea set

I'd heard that the afternoon tea at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel was the one, and I fell in love with the place when I first saw a picture of their impeccable tea room on their website, so persuaded the other half that it was a must-do for our trip!

The Mandarin Oriental is a beautiful hotel. In a city well known for its opulent accommodation, this place still manages to stand out  - an oasis of calm and tranquillity amongst the bustle of the Strip.

View from Mandarin Oriental Tea Room Las Vegas

The view wasn't bad either!

tea set at mandarin oriental

Everything so far had been of such dazzling quality, it should have come as no surprise to see that tea menu was as extensive as it was. Alongside the more standard (but still impressive) black, green and oolong tea options stood a selection of blooming teas and herbal infusions to promote health and wellbeing.
With such a broad range of options, it was perhaps a little unadventurous of me to select the Mandarin Orange Blend - a black tea with orange and mandarin favours and vanilla undertones - but I regret nothing! This custom black tea blend was picked specifically for the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas, so it did seem like the obvious choice while we were there! My companion chose the Ginseng Oolong, and a generous pot was provided of each.

afternoon tea in las vegas

Before too long, a well stocked and colourful cake stand appeared next to our table -......

tea and cake las vegas

The savoury section was certainly a lot more aesthetically exciting that the finger sandwiches that I'm used to! The mini ice-cream cone looking things were chicken curry in a sesame cone, and an absolute delight. The crab remoulade with mango and cream cheese was a cheery little addition to the plate too.  I'd pre-warned the hotel about my unsophisticated aversion to smoked salmon, so instead of the smoked salmon and tarter cream brioche on the menu we were presented with double the black forest ham and brie lollipops, and I couldn't have been happier!

curried chicken cone ham lollipop

The scones were served warm, which I love. I'm kicking myself now for not being able to remember what flavour they were - one was definitely plain (a far too dreary description for something so delightful of course, but accurate enough in that it had no other flavourful additions!) and the other one I'm sure was cherry, or white chocolate, or white chocolate and cherry?

afternoon tea scones las vegas
Either way they were amazing, light and fluffy and absolutely scrumptious with the provided preserves (strawberry and blueberry jams) and a hearty dollop of delicious clotted cream!

las vegas scone preserves

las vegas cream tea

It was the miniature cakes and pastries though that had captured my attention since the cake stand arrived! I do appreciate a brightly coloured selection with lots of variety and that's exactly what we got!

afternoon tea cakes on the strip

I was most giddy about the blueberry puff - all cakes should come with mini-macarons! And purple too, so pretty! The cranberry tart was a gloriously put-together creation with a crème brulee style topping, and I can't get over the absolutely perfect appearance of the key lime dome. In terms of taste though, the chocolate praline truffle was my winner - divine!

mini macaron on a cake

The full afternoon tea (priced at $38 each) does need booking in advance, but the tea lounge is open from 10am to 10pm if you just fancy a nice brew and some peace and quiet! The staff were wonderful, both on the day of our booking, and beforehand when I bombarded them with a million questions via email when trying to decide if we could fit this into our trip - I'm so glad we did!

21 March 2016

A Professional Aura (Print)

I've been blogging for a long time now - years, in a couple of different spots, and I'm still no good at it. I know so many dedicated bloggers - with fully organised schedules, lists of pre-written posts ready to schedule at will, and unshakable beliefs in their power to entertain and inform their readers.
I, on the other hand, am useless. I've never scheduled so much as a single tweet. I get excited at getting fun emails, then completely forget to reply. I forget to photograph things before using/eating them. I'm not organised or professional in any way.


BUT!!! Now I have these awesome new business cards so I can PRETEND to be organised and professional!

auraprint business cards

Yup, these flashy new things arrived in a recent delivery from Aura Print - a company that ARE completely organised and professional! Not only is the final product really rather lovely, but they did a grand job of dealing with an annoying customer like me - as well as being a bit rubbish at doing stuff (I mentioned that already I believe!), I'm terrible with any kind of decision making and anything design related so my instructions on how the cards should look were about as detailed and concise as 'maybe something that looks a bit like whatever is already on the site'.
Smooth, right?

colour core business cards

Despite that, their great design team did a great job of putting together my simple, pretty cards - they were so fast is sending the proofs back too and getting them all out to me. I really couldn't have asked for a smoother process!
My favourite thing about these cards, the thing that really sets them apart from others I've seen is the coloured core. I opted for a cheery 'daffodil' shade, but there's a range of hue options for Impakt Colour Core Business Cards - some subtle, some intense, so something to suit all circumstances!

tea and cake blog cards
The coloured core is not only really eye-catching, but leads to a really thick, study card that feels excellent quality too. There's no way these bad boys will be getting crumpled!
Now I just need to work on actually passing these out to people! Hopefully my faux professionalism will inspire me to be a little more 'on it' in other respects of blogging too!
* Thanks to Aura Print for providing this much needed inspiration free of charge.

17 March 2016

#MyHavenDays at Primrose Valley

Now, I'm not one of those bloggers to apologise for not posting for a day or two (mainly because I'm sure no one has really noted my absence over the last couple of weeks, nevermind cared) but I can't deny it's been a little quiet on the blog front recently...

But the reason for my lack of posting isn't just an existential crisis about the futility of blogging, oh no! I've also been on holiday! Well, holidays, actually....

sea view from primrose valley

I had an incredible week of sipping Margaritas in Las Vegas, followed by a lovely family weekend away on the Yorkshire coast. And while hopefully tales of the glitz and glamour of sin city will be interesting to some of you, I have about a million photos to sort out from the trip before I can get them in any sort of blog order so I thought I'd start with sunny Scarborough!
We've enjoyed spring-time Haven breaks with the kids for many years now, and its not a tradition I'm in a rush to break. These were the holidays I had as a little one and I have such great memories - - I wouldn't want my two growing up without that!

primrose valley accomodation

I feared we'd been a little spoiled by last years Presthaven Sands stay in a Prestige caravan, as I only booked standard accommodation for our weekend away at Primrose Valley (figuring we didn't need the space for a two night stay that we needed for a full week!),.. but the newer standard models have central heating now which is the most important thing! Even though it took me a little while to figure out how to get it on......
west pier cafe haven primrose valley
We didn't arrive 'til after dark on the Friday so just quickly dropped our stuff on at our new home and headed out to find food and entertainment.... We spotted West Pier on our way into the club and it looked perfect for our needs (as in, it was open, with empty tables, and it was serving hot food!) I don't think I've seen one of these establishments on a Haven park before - I'm not sure if they're new or they've just not had them at our most recent locations - but it was a nice casual spot serving mainly burgers at a pretty reasonable price. Though I wish we'd ordered more than one portion of the bacon cheese fries to share!
Once satisfied, it was onto the arcades for the obligatory seaside 2p machine session before a brief call into the club before heading back the caravan for tea, cake and Run Fat Boy Run on TV (I'm sure this was on at our last holiday too!)

seaside 2p machine

We had great intentions to be up and out early Saturday morning to explore the great attractions on offer in the region,.. but a combination of jetlag and general laziness meant we didn't actually get moving 'til early afternoon so we just rambled on into Scarborough town.

american diner in yorkshire

We stumbled across East Coast Kitchen, an American themed diner, on our way down to the seafront. It might not be exactly what you think of when you think 'British seaside food' but I don't like fish and 'twas a bit breezy out so we were all more than happy to head in here instead! The menu has some great sounding burgers, hotdogs, and other meaty goodies and there are some fun sounding food challenges too if you are feeling brave (though I'll warn you that there were a lot more pictures on their 'wall of shame' than on the 'wall of fame'!)

east coast kitchen scarborough

This was a real fun, friendly place to stop - and I love anywhere I can get my paws on a Root Beer Float - and I'd definitely recommend it if you are in Scarborough and want to nibble on something the seagulls can't pinch off you!

drinks for dessert

We didn't stick around for dessert though - ice cream on the beach is pretty much a prerequisite, no matter what the weather!

ice cream cone at seaside

As is building a sandcastle, of course. Though I'm not sure 'castle' is quite the right description for this,.. err,.. structure.

yokshire coast

We hit the kids club a little late again so missed some of the earlier entertainment but were in plenty of time for a spate of 'retro' party dances,... all of which I've never heard of. I must be pre-retro. (#GettinOld), young 'uns had plenty of fun though!

cupcakes with no weighing scales

After Saturday's late start I'd love to tell you that we were up and at 'em early on Sunday,... but if anything we were even more lazy chillaxed, as my daughter would say. The boys went off for a swim but Missy decided she'd rather stay in and bake. Quite the challenge with no weighing scale in the caravan but we had a fair old go at it nonetheless!

primrose valley dining

Once swimming, baking and packing was all completed I suggested heading off to stop somewhere fun on the way home but no one was in a rush to go anywhere so we toddled on over to the on site 'pub', the Mash and Barrel, for some food. I'm sure I had this Spicy Cajun Chicken Pasta last year but really liked it then so was happy to tuck in again! The menu had loads of choice - including kids meals - but I'm sure I saw someone in the restaurant have an Afternoon Tea cake stand delivered to their table so I really need to read more thoroughly next time to make sure I haven't missed any cakey options!
haven primrose valley playground

After we'd eaten it was too early to set off home, but too late to go anywhere else so we let the kids run riot on the play area for a bit - they had plenty of excess energy to burn off after our relaxed start to the day!

giant deckchair

primrose valley cliff

We had a really lovely time at Primrose Valley, but our trip did seem all too short. I think it was a combination of having a full week away on our last Haven holiday by comparison, and the late starts to the days that seemed to make the weekend fly but hopefully we'll get another adventure in soon!