How Running Changed the Way I Feel About My Body, For the Better!

I was never an athletic child, I hated doing PE, never went in for sports and in fact the idea of going outside even filled me with dread.

Then we hosted the 2012 Olympics and all of a sudden I became interested – to the point in which I started running. Let’s be honest, I wanted the shiny medals, but I also wanted to see how far I could push my body and what I could get it to achieve.

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My affair with running ended abruptly after a series of running injuries that I managed to stretch and yoga out and ultimately ignore until I couldn’t ignore them any more. But this isn’t about that (and if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll already know the back story). This is about how I now realise how much impact running and fitness had on the way I perceive my body and how I still feel about it.

I’ll start with how it affected my relationship with food. Before I started running I had never really considered food as fuel. Of course I knew it was, but I didn’t ever look at it in a clinical way. I feel like I began to see how different foods would benefit me in different ways, partially in how it would enable me to endure whichever activity I was participating in that day, but also how it could help me recover from those activities too. Once I started thinking this way, I was able to adapt this into creating healthy and useful meals so that it wasn’t all boring ‘healthy’ foods, but also things I looked forward to eating.

I posted in a recent article about how wearing sports bras affected how I felt about my small chest size, but wearing sports clothing also affected how I felt about my body all over. I had never liked the way my stomach looked when I sat down – blobby and rolly and much better if I was standing – and sure, eating well and working out makes a difference to that, but in turn because I knew I was working hard to be healthy and fit my opinion of how my body looked changed. All of a sudden I was proud of each part of my body for enduring what I was putting it through. Because my muscles, for the most part, were keeping up with the demand I was asking of it, I didn’t see my body in a negative light any more – my bum wasn’t shaped any better, my legs weren’t more shapely, my stomach wasn’t more toned – BUT I knew everything was doing its job. I was happy.

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Even though I have stopped being active in the same ways I was back then, due to injury, I still have most of that mentality. Yes I get a bit fed up if I start to feel bloated, but I know weight is relative, I know my body is strong and relatively healthy – and I know it’s working for me.

 

I’d never felt this way about my body until I started being regularly active, and I really enjoyed the way it made me feel about myself. This isn’t something I’ve forgotten since I’ve become more sedentary, either. I remember how I felt and I don’t lament over it. I’m so pleased I went through this phase, and who knows, it might rear its head again – but until then I’m delighted with the mindset it brought with it.

Here’s to feeling fit, healthy and happy with myself.

20 Ways at 20 Years; Buffy The Vampire Slayer Changed My Life

Something you might not know about me is that when I was a teenager I was obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer (or BtVS). And you might know that Buffy celebrated 20 years since it first aired, last month, so I thought I might share with you the many ways it improved my life.

Back when Buffy was first being shown, I was probably the targeted viewing age. A group of friends and I would watch the show religiously – those were the days when it was considered majorly geeky to show an interest in a tv show, binge watch or even just buy merchandise.

My first experience with the show was when a friend who had a Blockbuster membership found that you could rent Buffy on double episode VHS tapes. Buffy hadn’t started being shown in the UK at that point, so we rented the videos – I think they were Welcome to The Hellmouth, Surprise and Innocent and Becoming pts 1 & 2. They were obviously out of context but it didn’t seem to bother us. Then when Sky started showing it, I was able to borrow tapes of the show from friends (I didn’t have cable or satellite TV) and then eventually we found you could pay people to tape the episodes and post them over on VHS from America – and eventually onto disc via ripping from the internet.

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There are so many positive attributes to Buffy and if you’re a fan you’ll know all about them, but I thought I’d share how the show changed my life personally!

  1. Buffy gave me a shared interest which drew me to a fantastic bunch of friends. Since I was going through a massively hard time with anxiety and depression during my time at school, having a group of people to spend time with was so important. Without this shared interest I don’t know whether I would have survived school!
  2. I discovered some great alternative music – granted a lot of it isn’t that wonderful now but the style and feel of the music certainly gave me focus and was the catalyst to a lot of the music I listen to today. I still can’t hear Full of Grace by Sarah McLachlan without wanting to sob!
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  3. The fashion in the show isn’t always a hit, but I definitely emulated a lot of the looks from the show in my day-to-day wardrobe. Nowhere else would jack ups look cool – but they seemed to work on Buffy!
  4. My internet social life started with a love of The X-Files but I met a wonderful group of people on a BtVS message board, who I still speak to and sometimes see, today. I also made friends with some people across the pond and I still stay in touch with them now.
  5. BtVS could be the reason I started blogging. I had a fansite, made graphics, socialised with other webmasters and shared articles about the show. It was my first outing into making a mark on the internet and I loved it! I wish I had some screenshots of my site, but here’s one of the banners I made for the site. (My skills were awesome, right…… :D)
  6. gateWatching a tv show with strong female lead, and a bunch of other awesome females definitely wasn’t lost on me. It also didn’t hurt that Angel was a honey….
  7. And on that note, the vocab in the show was new, exciting and totally awesome. No one heard anyone speak California slang in Milton Keynes…. well at least until they met me!
  8. Even though Buffy was set in a world where Vampires were real, it also covered some really important subjects  – unrequited love, first sexual encounters, bullying, homosexuality, school shootings, rape, death of a family member, cheating, the complexities of friendship, fitting in, not fitting in….. I could go on….
  9. I mentioned music earlier, but I’ll mention it again, this time in the guise of score. The original BtVS score, composed by Christophe Beck, was the first time I really paid attention to incidental music in TV. I’d been a fan of The X-Files and knew about Mark Snow’s score (which isn’t to my taste) but in Buffy I discovered for the first time, the idea of theming. The concept that the same phrase of music could be used time and time again in multiple episodes of the show when a particular character or characters are on screen, was wonderful. The Buffy and Angel theme still gives me chills.
  10. Watching Becoming pt 2 was the first time I ever saw something on screen that made me feel deeply sad – and it was fiction. I didn’t get it – it was both beautiful and sad and I didn’t know what to do with the emotions I was feeling. Being a teenager is HARD!tumblr_n7q5z15MH71qiizz2o3_250
  11. Something that even the people I used to watch the show with, don’t know, was that until I began watching the show I was deeply terrified of Vampires and the idea of vampires. But watching BtVS cured me of that – thanks Joss!
  12. Also, to this day WWJD doesn’t stand for What Would Jesus Do, but instead stands for What Would Joss Do. And also Thank Joss It’s Friday, is something that often pops into my head. Joss is a genius…. Nuff said.
  13. I more often than once took this photo to the hair dressers (and sometimes I would come out with something similar….)Willow-Smith-550x440
  14. When I met Gary, Buffy was still being shown on TV – he knew how important the show was to me that he borrowed my dvd sets (it must have been love!) and binge watched them to catch up so we could watch the new episodes together!
  15. I wrote a letter to Joss Whedon and got a (print) signed cast photo back all the way from LA! I was so excited at the idea that it had come from America.
  16. My obsession with Buffy was apparently so strong, that one day my Mum took me aside and said to me ‘You do know you’re not Buffy don’t you?’…. And obviously I knew…. if anyone I would have been Willow, of course!
  17. Quotable Buffy changed my life, because not only did I find I was able to come up with a quote for every situation, but I found I was able to start coming up with quick quips of my own for every situation. You know those conversations where you think of something witty to say hours after the fact? Not me, I seem to have honed the skill of coming out with it at the right time. I have BtVS’ fast dialogue to thank for that!
  18. BtVS taught me that if the boy you like suddenly starts wearing leather trousers, he’s probably turned evil so it might be worth staying away.
  19. BtVS taught me the importance of friendship both via the show, and also the community that surrounded it.
  20. Out of all of the above, I have to say the most important thing BtVS taught me is that it’s okay to be you. Be you and be kind. Whether you’re the geek, the outcast, gay, straight, feel detached from the world, estranged from friends or family, feel uncomfortable in your own skin or even if you have a big secret you feel no one would understand – be you. And be kind – because no matter how hard you feel your life is, the stranger next to you is feeling the same. We’re all trying to muddle through this world – some of us are panicking about school, others are dealing with trouble at home, and who knows the girl next to you on the train might be dealing with coming to terms with being a Vampire Slayer.

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We Went To Disney World – the movie!

 

Okay, well it’s not a movie so much as the YouTube video I’ve been promising is now up!

It’s taken me a little while to get all the footage together, and in a way that got as much as I wanted in but without boring everyone!

And if you want to read about our trip, then you can read my blog ALL about it!

I hope you like it. If you do, don’t forget to give it a thumbs up and subscribe if you want to see more!

2016: My Year in Blogging

I think this year has to have been one of my most consistent blogging years, the last one being during my year of half marathon training.

And I know exactly what changed it; the blogging community on social media and actually being actively social.

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Blogging has changed a huge amount since I started. I’ve been writing a blog for around 15 years and this particular blog for 7 and a half now. I’m so proud that Musings of a So-Called Shutterbug is the way that it is and that people seem to like it!

I started the year with around 300 email subscribers and ended it with over 600. After having started dabbling with makeup I started to see my reader stats increasing and people seemed to be interested in that kind of content. I’m not going to lie, as much as my blog posts are written for me, no one will deny the draw to being popular. Especially in such a competitive environment. And it’s SO competitive.

When I started blogging it wasn’t popular. It was something emo kids and poets did. For the record, and though there’s nothing wrong with being either of those things, I’m neither. I was just putting thoughts to ‘paper’ and then releasing them into the great ocean of the internet. I think that’s why I get on with twitter so much. You have a thought, you release it, and then it’s gone (for the most part!).

When I began putting in that extra 10% effort this year, I could see it made all the difference. But I also saw that the world of blogging, this expansive Blogosphere, was totally different from how it was when I started. EVERYONE has a blog. The content is rarely original, but when it is, it’s so good. And people can really make money from blogging. People are jacking in their 9-5 jobs to work for themselves and become influencers full-time.

And not only that, the popularity contest is so fierce that people actually pay for followers. Things I didn’t know even existed were brought to the forefront – people spend hours scheduling tweets to go out on a weekly basis. They will plan posts months ahead, spending hours perfecting their Media Kit and profile pages to be PR friendly. I have, for the time being, decided that a media kit and PR related type stuff is not for me. The other day someone had to explain to me what an Insta Pod was – I’m still not 100% sure…

A few years ago I dabbled, and worked with companies reviewing their stuff. I worked with Vita Coco, Chobani and a few tea companies. I had chocolate and yogurt coming out of my ears and finding the time to review everything was hard. I found my content was becoming watered down this ad content and I decided to let it go.

I also found it’s so hard to get noticed in the seas of ‘young’ ‘hip’ bloggers who understand social media and branding way more than I can at my mid 30’s. It’s frustrating to think that the 40th review someone has read about the latest Zoella perfume can get so much more engagement than a post I write about travel or a favourite charity….. But still.

So since I considered myself pretty good at twitter I set up a second twitter account dedicated to Musings and let it loose on the world. I got a few followers but they were mainly people who I already knew. And nothing seemed to happen….. Then I realised that I was being totally dumb and in order for people to engage with me I needed to engage with them. It’s been to the detriment of my personal twitter account, I must admit, but even so, I have really enjoyed it.

Things really started to fly when I discovered The Bloggers Hub (or I think they might have found me!), a network of like-minded bloggers who chat, help each other and are really fun. The guys who run the network are great, welcoming, and really help to boost your exposure all at the same time. They seem like the kind of people I’d really get on with IRL and there’s zero bitchiness from anyone, which is the one thing that had put me off being involved in any other twitter blogger network. Their twitter chat was also the first one I ever participated in (and since I’ve never felt the urge to join in with any others, if I’m honest). Through them I’ve found some amazing, friendly and really down to earth bloggers. I’ve also had my eyes opened to some of the pitfalls of blogging, some of the drama and plenty of the scams.

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Through twitter I got the balls to start my YouTube channel too, which is still very much in its infant stage. But it’s great to know there’s an outlet I can push my videos through, when I really want people to know what I’ve been creating.

Something I’ve always had an issue getting over, so not just this year, is the fear of putting what I really think onto the screen. And by that I mean, I sometimes have the strong urge to write a response to something that might be going on in the press or something in my life, but I’m afraid of the responses I might get. Sometimes it’s a social or political issue that I don’t feel like I know everything about but I still have a strong opinion on. I might know enough to write a post about it, but someone who knows more about it than me might comment and I won’t be able to stand my ground. This is something I hope, in time, I’ll get over. But the more exposure my blog gets, the higher the chance that someone might respond negatively to what I’ve written. I mean let’s face it, beauty bloggers get flack for using too much product in their swatches so what hope do I have if I start to comment on politics?

I also had the chance, towards the end of the year, to attend a couple of Blogger events. One was too far from home, but one was right where I live, and I chickened out. Apart from it being too much money for what you got, I didn’t feel ready to take that scary leap and be social with people I’d never met. The fear was too great. But maybe this year I’ll take the leap. There’s one blogger I’ve been friendly with for the past year, who I would consider a friend even though we’ve never met. Maybe meeting her this year will be the first step to conquering this fear. I think I need my hand held!

So what does 2017 and blogging hold for me? This year I upgraded my Peanuts Moleskine notebook, where I usually write in long hand, a full blog, if I have the idea in my head and I need to get it out. I bought a Dot Creates Blogger Planner. Inside it’s got loads of space for planning upcoming blogs. Up until now I’d either use my Peanuts Moleskine or more often just open a new page on my iPhone Notes app. This can be a little clumsy and when it comes to things like this, I appreciate putting pencil to paper more. This blog planner will also be great for planning YouTube video ideas and it makes my brain feel a little more organised!

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So planning will be important in 2017, though I don’t feel like I’ll ever be the kind of person who can sit, plan and write out posts months in advance. I’m far too much of a spur of the moment, type out whatever’s in my brain right now, kind of blogger.

I know I’ll continue with twitter because it’s been so much fun, socialising with everyone and learning too. I considered dabbling with scheduling tweets, but I enjoy actually engaging in real-time too much. Even scheduling blog posts too far ahead of time makes me feel distant from my content, so for the time being I won’t be scheduling tweets.

I’m going to work on my brand, but I want to keep it real. I don’t want to find myself moving back to where I was when I was doing PR and collaborations. That’s not me – if I talk about a product it’s because I love it and I’m just doing the same as if I told my friends about something amazing that I’d tried. And I want my readers to know that too. If I’m telling you about it, it’s because it’s worth talking about!

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I can honestly say that 2016 was my most enjoyable year in blogging, and I hope 2017 follows suit. I now know that putting that little bit of extra effort in, finding your tribe and being social makes a whole heap of difference. There’s a reason it’s called social media but for someone who isn’t incredibly outgoing or social I was just a little slow on the uptake.

But it’s okay now, because I got there eventually. And I love it!

2016 Favourites: What’s Made the Cut?

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My one and only 2016 resolution was to learn how to use makeup. And I can honestly say it’s the only resolution I’ve ever kept! I’ve really enjoyed learning about and using makeup and have found an awesome community of people through it.

I subscribed to GlossyBox for one year, and though I’ve now not renewed my sub with them for next year, I can honestly say it did give me the chance to try some things I wouldn’t have otherwise tried.

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So, I’ve compiled a list of all the things I’ve talked about over the year, that have earned a place in my favourites for the whole year. They’ve stood the test of time and I think these are worth the hype.

I’ll start with non-beauty favourites and then get into the makeup!

Music:

Ariana Grande’s album Dangerous Woman has been my album of the year. Since it came out, it’s pretty much been the only album I listen to. Fact.

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TV:

I’ve watched so much amazing tv over the year. Here are the ones I LOVED:

  • Love
  • Gilmore Girls
  • House of Cards
  • Pretty Little Liars
  • The Night Of
  • The Man in The High Castle
  • Making a Murderer
  • The Jinx
  • Billions
  • Stranger Things
  • The Affair

That’s not to mention things I’ve continued to watch, but these are the ones I discovered this year.

I also got heavily into YouTube this year, partly through watching makeup YouTubers (that’s a real word now btw) and partly through watching Disney Vloggers.

So now onto the beauty side of things!

I started the year with the Laura Mercier Almond Coconut Milk and Honey bath, which was given to me as a Valentine’s gift. I’m still working through this jar, though I can see myself needing a repurchase towards the start of next year. It’s an amazing bubble bath, which smells so relaxing and gives the best bubbles. It’s a real treat every time I use it!

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Gwen Stefani had an amazing year collaborating with Urban Decay. I picked up the shadow palette and a couple of her lipsticks, but the one that really stuck with me all year was this blush palette. I’ve used it so much and can find use from every single shade. The powders are pigmented, buildable and blend-able and last all day. Plus the packaging is awesome!

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TheBalm Balm Shelter is a tinted moisturiser I use practically every day that I wear makeup. It’s pigmented, light, comfortable and gives natural coverage. Enough said. Oh and I bought it a year ago and it’s still going…..

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2016 was the year NYX came to the UK and I’m so glad it did because I’ve found a few staples for my makeup collection. The Tres Jolie gel eyeliner pencils, for tight lining, their Dark Circle under-eye concealer and their Pro Mix foundation lightener. Amazing.

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PIXI Glow Tonic (I no longer need to exfoliate, like, ever!) and the PUR Hydra Gel under eye primer – just buy them. Seriously, you’ll thank me.

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Makeup Revolution’s Radiance Palette transformed my summer look. I adore this palette and for basically no cost. The powders are pigmented and buildable and give the perfect amount of bronzing, shimmer and highlight.

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Better Than Sex by Too Faced and Cover Girl’s Clump Crusher mascaras have changed my eyelashes from straight thin wisps to fabulous girly lashes.

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My go to and absolute favourite lipstick this year has been the Charlotte Tilbury K.I.S.S.I.N.G lipstick in Stoned Rose. It’s a fantastic pinky, nude, brown. It’s long lasting, comfortable and smells amazing too!

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And lastly, I managed to pick up a full size of the Victoria’s Secret body mist in Coconut Passion, which I drench myself in daily.

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So, those are the things I’ve loved over 2016. Have you used any of these this year? I’d love to hear what you’ve been loving – comment with a link to your 2016 favourites! I’d love to have a read.

Keep an eye out for my 2016 overview!

Awesome Things That Happened to Me in 2016!

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2016 has been an amazing year. It started out with a trip to New York, and deciding to complete another 365 challenge, this time on Instagram.

I’ve really enjoyed posting a photo a day, and only had to miss two days when I got sick in October, which I’ve made up for.

January kicked off with me getting into makeup and starting to blog more. My blog has been through many phases alongside the phases I go through in my life, and I must say that beauty blogging has opened many more doors than any other subject I’ve written about. I’ve met so many people and a fantastic community of like-minded individuals.

February continued in this fashion with the start of my beauty favourites blogs, and I also saw the amazing film It Follows for the first time.

March began with seeing my Book Club girls, well half of them, for the first time in ages, and discovering Pretty Little Liars. I took a trip to London for my niece’s birthday

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and I spent a week off work turning my spare bedroom into a wonderful walk in wardrobe!

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In April, my Mum wrote a guest blog which people really loved, and I started my dedicated blog twitter account. I also discovered some fabulous podcasts and House of Cards became my new favourite tv show.

May teased us with 18c weather followed by horrid winter again. I visited London a few times, went for my only run of the year

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and Ariana Grande released Dangerous Woman! I also became obsessed with all things coconut scented.

June was a big month – Sarah’s London Hen Party was amazing, followed by her wedding in Cornwall.

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We spent a whole week in Cornwall and had an amazing time.

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I saw some great films, 10 Cloverfield Lane and The Gallows and this blog turned 7!

In July we said goodbye to Tash the only way we knew – over food! We had fabulous brunch in Dalston followed by cocktails at the John Lewis rooftop bar.

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I went to EDC, which was wildly out of my comfort zone but really fun

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attended a family wedding, Secret Cinema Dirty Dancing

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and watched Stranger Things.

August was filled with movies, including Finding Dory and Suicide Squad for my birthday. I bought my new Sony a5000 and we went to see Romeo and Juliet at Waddesdon Manor as part of the Luna Cinema festival.

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We also saw the Hot 8 Brass Band at a local venue and danced the night away.

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In September, though I didn’t blog a huge amount, I announced my brand new YouTube Channel! I also got very excited for Florida, celebrated by 10 year wedding anniversary and spent the weekend at The Savoy in London!

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October was the month of Disney World. We took the trip of a lifetime and had a blast.

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On my return I got the sickest I’ve ever been, and thankfully recovered within a week. We went to see the Harry Potter play

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went to a Bad Company gig and celebrated my mum and dad’s ruby wedding anniversary.

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November was the return of the Gilmore Girls and I also attended Jurassic Park Live at the Royal Albert Hall.

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From the end of November to present it’s been all about Christmas and New Year. I visited the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, and vlogged.

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It’s been an amazing year and I can’t wait to see what 2017 holds. There’s a lot of change in the air, and I’m really excited about it all. Who knows what I’ll be writing in a year’s time? Here’s to another great one 😀

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

We have now reached that awkward stage in the year where Christmas is over, the new year hasn’t arrived yet and we’re all sort of in limbo.

I like to use this part of the year to reflect on the last 12 months, as many do. I also like to take down the Christmas tree as soon as I can and start tidying and cleaning. No doubt some kind of diet or detox will be on my plan due to all the rich food and drinks I’ve consumed over Christmas. I also tend to try a new skincare routine, which I love for the whole week and then have to go back to work, lose the will to spend the time on my face and go back to soap and water….. (shock horror!)

Anyway, one thing I have done for the past 2 or 3 years is look back and look forward in a more tangible way. Each year, on Christmas Eve, Gary and I read a letter we have written the previous Christmas Eve. It’s a letter we’ve written to ourselves asking about things for the future year. Things we want to achieve, things we wonder and things we’d like to change. We read our own letters and then read out anything we want to each other. I honestly had no idea what I’d written in this year’s before I read it.

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I really enjoy this new tradition we started 3 years ago, because it really puts a timestamp on the mentality I was in when I wrote the letter a year previously, and it sets the tone for the next letter. A year goes so fast but it’s easy to forget how much we do, see and how much we change in that 12 months. Reading my letter year on year really reminds me of this. We keep each year’s letters and at some point in the future I’m sure we’ll re-read them. Or maybe we won’t. It’s just nice knowing they’re there!

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Another tradition we started last year and brought through to this year is a Happy Things jar. I cut strips of coloured paper, and whenever we feel grateful or particularly happy or excited about something we write it onto a strip of paper. Then we roll up the strip and pop it into the jar. On New Year’s Eve we open the jar and take it in turns to read out what’s written. I really enjoyed doing this last year so I’m excited to do it again this year.ny4

 

These are only new traditions, but they make me feel really happy. I love the idea of continuing this for many years to come. Counting my blessings is so important to me. It helps to keep me grounded and grateful for the things I have and what I have achieved. It calms my brain and makes me a better person.

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If you like the idea of these simple traditions, why not start one (or both!) yourself? It’s so easy to write a letter to yourself, and as long as you don’t forget where you put it you’ll have something to look forward to in a year.

I’d love to hear if you do anything similar in your family. Share your traditions with me!

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

 

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s finally here!

Over the years I’ve written loads of posts about Christmas. In 2013  I even wrote a blog a day for 24 days and called Shutterbug’s Advent Calendar. This was way before Blogmas was a thing… I’m such a trend-setter!

So I’m not going to bore you all with the same old stuff. But I have been feeling extra specially Christmassy this year. It might be because last year I spent Christmas Day travelling to New York. And yes, it was the most amazing holiday and such a special way to celebrate Christmas Day. But it did leave me feeling like I’d missed my usual traditional Christmas Day – the Christmas Day I’d been used to.

This year Christmas Day falls on a Sunday which means Christmas Eve is also a weekend day. So no work for us! And it means we get an extra day before Christmas Day to prepare and wrap and shop and eat!

This year I start my celebrations on Christmas Eve Eve with a trip to London to see Chic after work, and it means I can let down my hair and have a good old boogie knowing that I don’t have to work the next day!

So far, we’ve put up the tree, bought all the presents and started eating lots of gingerbread!

We also went to Winter Wonderland last weekend, and I vlogged so keep an eye out for the video which should be going up on my channel this coming weekend.

And now I can finally say that Christmas is next week. I still have to wrap the presents, but I’m just waiting for the last one to arrive. We’ve watched most of our Christmas films but there’s still Muppets Christmas Carol to go, and then The Holiday and Polar Express on Christmas Eve.

I can’t wait for a traditional family Christmas this year and it’s coming around so quickly!

If you haven’t seen it already, I posted a new video onto my channel in my Things I Like series. This time around it’s all about Christmas so take a look!

 

This is likely to be my last proper post before Christmas, so I hope you have an awesome day and wonderful break from work and school. Stay safe, eat drink and be merry! Merry Christmas!!

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Secret Cinema: Dirty Dancing

 

Way way back in July, I attended my second Secret Cinema event. This time was to see Dirty Dancing, and continuing my tradition, I vowed not to post a blog about it until Secret Cinema uploaded their video.

Finally, months later they’ve done it! So first of all if you want to watch their video of the event you can see it here:

And if you can watch that all the way to the end and not feel excited and uplifted then you’re dead inside.

The first Secret Cinema experience I’d had was seeing Back to The Future, and that was massively impressive. This was slightly less so, but still awesome.

I don’t know whether it was because I had so much going on in my life, but I didn’t really involve myself in the prep for this event as much as I’d done previously. But I still rocked my costume:

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With all Secret Cinema events, phones and cameras are banned so I didn’t take photos but you can get the atmosphere from the video. Everyone was getting involved with dance classes, volley ball and the talent show. There were different booths and areas to go and visit and characters from the movie were walking around.

The movie was shown and despite the sound not being great everyone was really into it, clapping, whooping, dancing and singing.

It was a great night and I can’t wait to see what else Secret Cinema have planned!

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We Went to Disney World!

Our recent trip to Disney world was planned to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. I’d never expected to be able to afford to go and so the fact that we were actually going was crazy.

The flight to Florida was fine and fairly uneventful – until an older gentleman collapsed and Gary found him. That was kinda stressful.

We arrived in Orlando after the sun had gone down but it was still balmy hot and it was lovely to be on the bus to the resort.

Once we’d checked in and been given our magic bands we headed to our room. We had chosen to stay at the Port Orleans French Quarter, a mardis gras themed moderate resort. We grabbed some food from the restaurant, took showers and unpacked.

Let me tell you about our Magic Bands. These things are AMAZING! Firstly they’re your room key, so you never had to think about remembering a key, or whether everyone in your party has one. They’re also payment – you can choose to link a card to it and charge things to the band in stores, restaurants and resorts. They store your fast passes, restaurant reservations and photo-pass pictures. They’re your park tickets, parking pass at parks and resorts, and they’re waterproof so you can wear them at water parks. This also means you don’t have to concern yourself over where to keep money when you’re having fun in the pool – scan your band when you want snacks and it’s charged to your room. Magic Bands also hold your dining credits, if you’re on a dining plan. You choose your meal, scan your band and voila – meal paid for! Another funky thing is that because they store all your information, on selected rides you might find your band has been scanned and the ride will interact with you based on what it knows about you. Our bands were also used at a restaurant so that the wait staff knew where we were sitting. It truly was magic!

Anyhow, our first full day saw us mastering the skill of putting on our Magic Bands, loading up on sun cream and heading out.  We knew we wanted to arrive at Magic Kingdom for rope drop so we got up early and headed out.

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We arrived at MK via the free shuttle from the resort and got there about 10 minutes before rope drop. It was really surreal being in the place I’d been researching for so long. Halloween and Autumn decorations were up and everything was shiny and pretty. The Welcome Ceremony was everything I’d hoped. I saw all the characters and Mickey in their finest. Day time fireworks welcomed us to the park and we were in!

I’m not ashamed to say I got a little emotional, and walking towards the beautiful castle in the sunshine and glorious heat. We had some fast passes booked, but as we were there a little while beforehand we wandered around and checked out the wait times. We came across the Winnie The Pooh ride which had no wait and jumped on. It was really nice to be back on a Disney ride!

The rest of the morning was wandering around, riding our fast pass rides and grabbing breakfast and lunch. I had the most amazing Chicken Parmesan sandwich – so good it was the first meal I ate and then happened to be the last meal I ate on our last day too!

After eating we rushed to the Disney Car Care centre to pick up our rental car. We were given Nissan Rogue and it was lovely! We drove it around a little, and then headed back to the hotel for a rest! We were still getting used to the heat, and jet lag was making us struggle! A little nap and a shower and then we were ready to head to Disney Springs.

Disney Springs is the new name for Downtown Disney, and it’s mostly new buildings, restaurants and places to shop. It’s a beautiful area, and we were able to get there by boat straight from our hotel room.

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After having a look around, we grabbed a table at Rainforest Café. It seems to be a Disney tradition for us to eat at Rainforest Café on our first night! We both had really delicious salads and then headed back to the hotel for sleeps!

I’m not going to outline the whole of our holiday – it’ll get dull for you, and if you know me in real life you’ve no doubt have already heard about it all!

So here are the highlights:

We LOVED Magic Kingdom, Disney Springs and Epcot. We weren’t enamoured with Animal Kingdom, though Everest is now one of my all-time favourite rides. Hollywood Studios is great, although would have been better if everything was open. We’re not Star Wars fans, so all of that was lost on us.

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We attended Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and it was fantastic. We also attended Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights, but it was way too intense for me.

Universal Studios was epic, though of the two parks we preferred Islands of Adventure. The Harry Potter areas were so good. I had a frozen Butterbeer and now I want to live there…..

The weather was amazing, and despite being chased home by a hurricane we didn’t have any problems with the rain. Only one evening was rained out and we had to change our plans. But any changes we made during the stay were for the best in the end.

We loved Epcot’s Food and Wine festival. The evening we spent there was amazing, food was great (and all on our dining plan) and we even saw Wilson Phillips perform as part of the Eat To The Beat event. The Japan pavilion shop as AMAZING and I now want to visit Japan simply from having spoken to one of the girls who served us.

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Food in general was amazing. In the parks there’s no shortage of choice. You’re walking a minimum of 10k in the parks so you don’t have to really worry about calories – in fact you should really up them. Outside of Disney we ate at Cracker Barrel for breakfast, which was awesome, and a few other places. Stand out eateries of our holiday were Blaze pizza and Homecoming in Disney Springs. I crave the Moonshine cake I ate there almost daily. I have to go back!

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We also at twice at Be Our Guest, which is beautiful inside, and Sci-Fi Dine In.

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The service, the atmosphere, the weather – the whole place! I’m in love with Florida. I also managed to pick up all the Starbucks You Are Here mugs they had going, both in the parks and outside the parks. I brought a total of 8 coffee mugs home!

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After having never thought I’d make it to Disney World, I’m now excited for the idea that we can, someday soon, book our return. The saddest part about leaving on the last day, after having taken our car back, was sitting on the shuttle back to Port Orleans to pick up our cases and hearing the announcement ‘Welcome Home’ – it felt like home after two weeks, and it was bittersweet that we were heading back to the UK.

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Until next time Disney World, until next time.

If you’re planning your own Disney World trip, I’ve posted about planning your holiday. Check that our here. And keep an eye out for part two, all about how to plan your trip once you’ve booked.