Going North West To One Of Mexico’s Most Livable Cities

Travel and adventure are what makes my heart happy, so I’m always looking to learn of new places to explore, especially ones that aren’t on the radar of regular tourists. I’ve been a lucky girl who has seen lots of places but Mexico is so far, still unexplored by me. It’s now being nudged to the top of my travel list though, for it’s history and sights which I really wanna see. In the northwestern state of Sonora, Mexico is having a little industrial revolution. The city of Hermosillo was voted to be the one of the nation’s most livable cities in 2013, it’s up and coming, and you can see why. A recent spur of automobile production, improvements to local education, office buildings being born and artistic cultural revivals, the city is now getting kinda competitive as a cool and cultural place to visit. With a population set to be around 850,000 by the end of 2018, the city is fast becoming the powerhouse of not just the state but the region too; I wanna see it before it becomes busier. It’s the capital of Sonora and like all capital cities, the history of Hermosillo is fascinating and goes far, far back. There’s archaeological evidence of the most earliest residence of settlers coming there 3,000 years ago, ooof, that’s a lot of lovely stuff to learn about! 

Religious roots  – Mexico is mostly, a really religious nation, with Catholicism as the dominant choice. It was brought to the country by the Spanish and has stayed as the chief church. The La Catedral de la Asunción (also known as the Cathedral of Assumption) is a place where locals living in the city come to worship and it looks like something you’d wanna put on your list of things to see in this city. The architecture is very early European style Baroque with an elegant emphasis on detail and grandeur. Painted in pale sandy yellow, the entire cathedral has a classic Mexican charm. Either side of the building are the two towering pillars that both have large iron bells which ring almost every day. I adore seeing places and forms of worship in the world. With no religious leanings of my own I’m intrigued by the variations of peoples devotion, it fascinates me, and places like this cathedral, well, the grandeur just makes me gasp.

Desert landscape – The largest desert biosphere reserve El Gran Desierto del Pinacate is right there in Sonora. The amaaaazing volcanic landscapes (El Pinacate) and sand dunes (Gran Desierto de Altar) have meant it has become part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the architecture of Sonoran Stadium is actually inspired by this one-of-a-kind natural monument.
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In the courtyard – Contemporary and very cool, the Courtyard Hermosillo looks like an ace place to stay. When I’m dreaming of travel I always check out hotels to see which one I’d wanna book, this one looks like a pure paradise. Verging on the near perfect score of 5 out of 5, the service seems superb, and the cleanliness too. The hotel stands conveniently next the large Plaza Sendero mall that is just 350 meters away, so Mexican shopping can be on my list too. All good hotels in hot places have a pool, and the pool here looks like perfection. If you don’t have time to pop out to the nearby local eateries, the hotel restaurant Centro will feed your energy stores with classic Mexican cuisine or room service. The rooms have hip modern decor that mixes Mexican and Western styles, it is always nice to have a bit of home comforts while away. With wi-fi and big televisions too, you’ll be able to upload your Instagram pics from the day and watch a movie before bed, a holiday haven indeed. 

Tribal history – Sonora is a happy home to 8 indigenous groups and seven of them live in their own autonomous regions, which I think is wonderful. The Yaquis are the indigenous group with most inhabitants, said to be around 35,000. Sonora’s state symbol is their Danza del Venado (Deer Dance) which represents a battle between the hunter and deer.

It’s really rare to find a city that thrives in a subtropical and desert environment, and with it’s traditions and history, Sonora looks like a place I really wanna visit soon.   

Adventure Accomplished

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Close your eyes and jump! I said to myself as I hit the *Book Now* button on a 10-day solo trip to Bali. I wanted my very own adventure, just for me. I wanted to become my own best friend and learn to rely on myself, but I was also kinda terrified. New territory, new terrain, somewhere as far away as possible where all I recognised was the skin on the back of my hands. A self-proposed challenge, I faced it fuelled by a whole heap of anxiety and anticipation. I wanted to do this to grow. I had to.

Bali, well, it bloomin’ embraced me. New sights, sounds and smells surrounded me so densely that I didn’t have a chance to feel alone. Engulfed by new experiences, my eagerness to explore replaced the doubts which had dominated, my senses were too preoccupied with pleasure. I based myself in Ubud, a haven of Hindu traditions. Green, green rice fields, temples and streets strewn with the prettiest Canang Sari; twice daily handmade flowery offerings to the gods, thanking them for peace. Such a calm pace of life I could hardly even contemplate for life back home, their dedication to devotion defied my usually busy life. This calmness was the coolest feeling I have ever had.
image-5Walking the patchy pavements avoiding holes and uneven surfaces, I felt I was forever stepping carefully over these sweet scattered offerings, so many that the streets looked like they’d been littered with Party Poppers, explosions of cute colour at my feet. Scooters swarmed like mosquitoes, injecting a rush of activity, Mothers straddling bikes, no helmets, with children held on laps, trusting their own way of life. Markets had a super stench in the heat. Leather, spice and sweat coupled with constant calls to buy, all stimulating my senses to the point where, I could not stop smiling.

I visited a Hindu healer, with no idea what it would hold. After him repeatedly banging hard on my head and pushing his thumbs so forcefully into my closed eyes that I wondered if it was a joke, he told me, I had to be my own hero.

As I spent my last evening watching the sunset at Tanah Lot, I took it all in, every single bit of it. I’d had monkeys on my head, eaten fruits I’d never heard of, shared a bedroom with lizards and lingered with locals. I had done this, I had navigated my own adventure. Faraway from anyone I knew, I felt an intrepid confidence blooming. Teaming tour groups around me, selfie sticks obstructing the view, and with a somewhat hands-on tour guide trying to sit too close, I caught on to just how far I’d come. I realised right there, I already was my own hero.

Mon Dieu, Dior! An Impulsive Pop to Paris

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So, Paris is always a good idea, so the saying goes, and I kinda think it’s true, as I discovered when I impulsively popped to the very pretty city. Paris played host to what I can now confirm to have been a dreeeeam exhibition of Dior, and since it opened in July 2017 I had been properly pining to go. I wrote it off as too indulgent and costly, but, when I realised I had no plans for New Years Eve, and that the exhibition ended in early January of 2018, well, the pangs for Dior proved to pull me towards booking a solo trip. A treat for myself after a very tough year. ‘Couturier De Reve’ (dressmaker of dreams) was an exhibition I just couldn’t miss. I imagined being an old lady and saying ‘I nearly went to Paris to see that amazing Dior exhibition, but didn’t go in the end’, and that thought made me sad, so I booked a seat on Eurostar, and went.

Pop! Paris was calling.

It did cost me money, and it did feel feel indulgent, but it did make me very happy and I’m so bloody glad I went. Dior did not disappoint, not one teeny bit. Paris itself was wonderful, an exciting and elegant city, and travelling alone was just what I needed, (more on the city and travelling solo in my next posts) but Dior, damn, it was divine. Celebrating 70 years since The House of Dior was created, it was an exhibition of epic proportions. I’d arrived late one afternoon so wandered down to The Musee Des Arts Decoratifs so that I knew where I’d have to get to the next morning, and what the queuing set up was like. Getting there from my hotel was straightforward as the Metro was real easy to navigate, and even though the museum was due to close in an hour the queue was still wiggling a long way down the street. Gah, I’d have to pitch up real early in the morning to ensure I got in on my only full day in Paris. So I got there bright and breezy with a croissant in my tummy on the morning of New Years eve, and the queue was pretty short. Phewf! I stood and chatted in line with a lady from Stockholm and we got in as soon as the doors opened. I kinda knew I’d be flabbergasted by it all, my tummy was all of a fizz with excitement. It totally blew me away. Like a combination of all the best bits of any fashion exhibitions I’ve seen in my life, this was simply spectacular. I’m a girl in love with dresses, and this Dior show was dress paradise. It was insightful, educational, expertly curated and so, so beautiful. There were loads of rooms, each completely different to the next, and it covered Dior himself and his design beginnings and went on to showcase the work of all the designers at the helm of this house up until now. It was an absolute heck load of lovely. And, as a vintage dealer who has often referenced his iconic New Look outfit -which defined a decade of dressing- to see that in up close was pretty fluppin’ brilliant. It was busy, but calm, all of us in awe of what our eyeballs were seeing. The final room of course had been instagrammed to the heavens and I was most excited to get in there for real. It was like a fashion finale with everyone in there like, literally gasping at the utterly magical feeling it created. Sparkling lights like stars moving around the high painted ceilings of this grand space, music kissing our ears, and dresses, showstopping dresses which I’ve only ever seen in fashion history books, right there in front of my own face. I don’t think I’ve ever been this immersed or amazed by an exhibition before, absolute perfection. Dior sure made my dreams come true in Paris that day.

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Christmas – Make Your House Twinkly!

IMG_4710Christmas is a pretty time of the year, and one of the most fun parts of it all is without a doubt decorating your home. There are soooo many different styles you can go for during festive fun times – you could go for that classic white winter wonderland feel, keep it modern with metallic and copper, or just go all out with Quality Street coloured tinsel and fairy lights like the good old days.

If you’re looking to decorate your house within the next week or so for the start of December, here are some of the things you’ll wanna start thinking about.

Outside The House – The first thing anyone will see as they pass by your home during the festive season or come to visit you is the front of your home and your front garden, if you have one that is. One of the fun things about decorating your home during Christmas is being able to play with lights and make your home stand out from every other home on the street. You can pick from so many different types of lights for the outside of your home- you could go for colour changing bulbs, white icicles or even go all out and have Santa himself up on ya roof! If you have a few bushes or trees in your front garden you could also put a light net on there to make them sparkle and feel maaaagical!

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The Door- One of the most classic Christmas decorations you can get in your home in the winter is a festive wreath. You can buy a wreath from the store or if you are more crafty- make your own. All you’ll need is a hoop made from wood to start you off, or I often use a bunch of greenery and make it look pretty, add seasonal decorations such as holly, berries and baubles. Wrap the garland around your wood and then use glue dots to stick on some festive baubles, pinecones and bells to make your wreath perfect to hang on the front door. If you really wanna go all out, you can wrap around some battery-operated lights to make it sparkle in the evenings.

The Hallway – Next up is your hallway. Although you and your family won’t be spending the whole of your festivities stood in the hall, it’s still nice to have some decoration there to really tie everything in your home together and make it all feel as festive as you can. To start off with you can have a small table by the door with a tabletop Christmas tree and some scented candles to make your home smell super festive. And then you could have a stocking hanging on the coat rack, some lights making their way into the home- and maybe some small festive ornaments. You don’t need to go nuts with the hallway- it is just nice kinda cosy to have a few festive touches in there.

The Stairs – One huge part of your hallway will be the staircase, and depending on how big your home is- it could be made into a huge design feature during the winter period. The most simple way to decorate your stairs would be to wrap some lights and tinsel around the banister going all the way down the stairs. If you want to go for a more nature inspired theme, you could get a long holly garland and wrap that around the bottom of your stairs- placing small pinecones in there to add extra dimension. And finally, if you want to go all out on your staircase and turn it into the ultimate festive feature- you could wrap a garland and lights at the bottom and then hang large white paper snowflakes on the stairs. This is a better idea if you have a large home- but it will look pretty ace if you can pull it off!

Fireplaces – If you have a fireplace or two in your home, you can make these into a festive feature by placing a garland on top and then adding things such as sparkly leaves, dried oranges and pinecones. And of course, you can’t have a Christmas fireplace without a few candlesticks or a large scented candle jar. You can thread some fairy lights through your design too if you know it is the room you’ll be spending a huge amount of time in throughout Christmas.

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The Tree – The tree is without a doubt the most exciting part of decorating your home at Christmas- there’s simply nothing better than spending the 1st December in your festive pjs with a Christmas movie playing as you decorate the tree with your family. Everyone will have their own jobs when decorating the tree- one person will assemble it, someone will do the lights (after spending hours un-tangling them), and then you can all play around with the baubles. And of course, someone will have the honour of putting the star on top of your creation at the end. Dance around and take your time with this part of the decoration- it will be the focal point of your home and is the perfect centrepiece to your festive design in the home. As for the colour scheme on the tree, you have a whole load of options available to you at this time of the year. You can go for a Scandinavian look and stick to neutrals and white, a classic look with reds and greens- or just put every single colour of the rainbow on there, because it’s Christmas so you can!

The Table – The table is the final piece to add to your festive feels, and if you’re hosting Christmas dinner this year, you’ll want to make the most of the space you have on the table while making sure you can fit all of the food on there on the day. Practice by laying out the dishes you’ll be serving the vegetables and meat in on the day, and you can then see what room you have left for a centrepiece and some candles. Your centrepiece can be as simple or extravagant as possible- and you can really fit it to the style you are going for in the rest of the home. The thing I personally enjoy the most about this season is that it’s an excuse to go crazy with fairy lights and sparkle, go make your home all twinkly, and enjoy! 

I’ve Got A Blank Space, Baby (And It Needs Decorating)

The blank wall. Every home has one. You promised yourself you’d put something ace up when you first moved in, but it’s fallen down that to-do list over and over again, you’ve walked past that blank space of yours so many darn times you don’t even realize it’s there anymore. So, the obvious answer to all this is to create a photo-gallery wall. There’s nothing wrong with this obvs; it’s just a little bit, kinda cliche. It’s been done so many times that it hardly makes an impact anymore. I’ve pulled together a list of creative ways you can add a lil’ bit of color and creativity to this gaping canvas of yours. You’re welcome.

A Gaggle Of Baskets… Baskets come in all shapes and sizes, colors and patterns, yet they seemed to always get stuffed within each other and then left below the coat rack in the utility room. Well, hows about hanging a bunch of decorative baskets on your wall to make a statement. It could be that you collect baskets from each of your holidays from now on, or just start painting the ones you spy in thrift shops – so long as there is a mix of sizes, styles, shapes, and colors you will be smiley by the results.

Letter Of The Law… I adore any look that takes the worlds of rustic and contemporary and slams them together to create art, and that’s exactly what you’ll get from hanging giant metallic letters on your blank wall. Having a couple of letters is gonna make a cool creation no matter where you put them. It could be your initials, a combo of yours and your spouse’s, or your kid’s names; slightly overlapping a pair of letters is a neat idea too, ya know.

Embrace The Wall Brackets… Everyone seems to think you have to hang your art on the wall, with the bravest of this bunch a) hanging their art at different heights or b) not hanging it and choosing to lean it instead. Well, a great way to make your favorite bird art standout in a whole new way is to put up some decorative wall brackets and then stand your framed bits on these. It’ll just add another dimension. You could even paint the wall brackets with accent colors to make ’em pop even more. Or, I love to hang my vintage shoes, bags and dresses on the walls, either with antique coat hooks or creating a cool way to both store and display your wares! 

Use The Wall Itself… Your wall is blank and bare, but that doesn’t mean your only option is to hang something on it. Hells no. A great way to make a wall standout is to turn it into something special in its own right. You could do this by creating a taped-off graphic statement, painting a wall in a lovely base color, waiting for it to dry, applying tape across it at angles and then painting over it to create a lovely statement. Or you could add some subtle wood paneling if you fancied. Perhaps, just framing some wallpaper would be enough. The options are almost infinite. Happy home making, y’all!