The Kryptonite to Creative Evolution

Flicking through my Facebook feed recently a video came up. It was the commencement address made by the actress Octavia Spencer at Ohio’s Kent State University earlier this year, and whilst I’m not too familiar with her work, her words spoke to me.

One point she made, as a young female person of colour , was that if when she’d been an up and coming actress she’d taken notice of the ‘lists’ – you know 25 actresses who made it by 25, or 30 richest lists – she would have stayed in bed, and not become as successful as she is. She referred to the ‘trap of comparison’ and told the graduates not to get caught in it, because they would continue to evolve in ways people had never thought of yet.

And this is what really struck me: comparison is the Kryptonite to creative evolution. And I’m not just talking blogging because it hits home to me, or in this situation acting, I’m talking all creative walks of life.

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Imagine the world if we’d had no David Bowie, for example. He came from the same places we did, but the creativity he brought to his field were totally unique – if he’d compared himself to his peers, and allowed that to bog him down, we would have never ended up with the Bowie we loved.

Think of any outstanding creative in any creative field and you can say the same. The ones who are most revered are usually the most unique. And let’s talk diversity – you don’t have to think back that long ago, and in some cases it’s still the same today, where these lists I mentioned earlier wouldn’t mention a single person of colour, or certain race or even feature a woman.

And I’m not trying to make this about diversity – I’m trying to make this about you. Just you sitting there. We all sit and compare ourselves. We flick through social media, and read gossip magazines online. We look at the success of those around us in our field and think “Well, if they’ve been successful and I haven’t, I need to be more like them” But then we end up with a world of clones. How boring.

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It’s the harder route, to be yourself and graft until you’re successful. And not everyone will make it to the ‘big time’ in their field. But if you readjust what success means to you – it’s not all about being top of the pile, the most famous or having the most money – then you might just find, with that mindset, you might rise higher than you’d thought.

Towards the end of Octavia’s speech, the underlined message she conveyed was

“The journey you take now, will be lead by you alone.” 

It’s a scary and powerful concept, but it’s true. Only you can carve out your path for the future, and only you are going to take it. So why would you want to carve out a path someone else has taken or is meant for a different person. Your path will have failures and disappointments, but that’s all part of learning. Because of this, you don’t backtrack on this path, you simply learn and move on.

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Life isn’t simple or easy – it’s hard graft, but if you really do work hard at it, you can earn your best life possible.

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

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It’s been both a busy and quiet few weeks. As you can see from my blog posts, I’ve been busy writing content, and I have been working alongside a few brands to bring more to you over the next few months.

I’m trying hard to save money at the moment, so I haven’t really been out and about. I did, however, make a little splurge, and pick up an Amazon Echo during their Prime Day, for around half off.

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We use one at work, so I knew I wanted one for my home, and we’ve been using it every day since we received it (it arrived on Same-Day delivery – I love Amazon sometimes!)

We’ve also watched a few movies and TV shows. We’ve just started watching Breaking Bad – only a few episodes in but I’m enjoying it so far. We re-watched The Night Of, which is a fantastic HBO series. There aren’t too many episodes, but they’re riveting.

I also watched a film called Blue Valentine, starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. It was good whilst we were watching it, but it ended a little abruptly and I couldn’t get on board with the female character. And we finally watched Drive, which again features Ryan Gosling. I can’t get over how much I loved this film. The direction, the music, the acting. So so good. I really must buy it so I can watch it over and over. It was reminiscent of so many things for me – comic book shot framing, Grand Theft Auto, Scarface. I swear I didn’t breathe through the whole of one scene and my hard was thumping in my chest. If you haven’t seen it yet, I’d definitely recommend it if you’re a fan of any of those influences.

I’ve also been working on a few creative projects, which may or may not come to fruition. We’ll see, but if they do, I’ll be sure to let you know on here!

I’m also edging ever closer to 1k followers on twitter, and once I do, I’ve planned to hold a giveaway so if that interests you, don’t forget to go and follow me. I’m found at @Shutterbug_Blog.

And I think that’s it for now. Hoping to have a proper life update and news for you soon, so keep ’em peeled!

Why I…. Love Disney!

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This time around in my Why I series, I’m going to talk about why I love Disney!

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As a child one of my favourite films was The Little Mermaid. In fact, I was devastated when our VCR chewed up my tape of the movie and we had to wait until the 10 year anniversary of its release before I could re buy it (Disney videos were only on short release back then!) In the period between this though, I wasn’t really a massive fan. I didn’t go crazy for Mickey and I could take or leave The Lion King and Aladdin.

There are many Disney films that came out around my early teens that I still haven’t seen, and would never reach for.

But after meeting Gary and having the chance to visit Disneyland Paris, my love for Disney just grew and grew.

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There’s something about the parks that’s just…. magical! There, I said it.

I’ve always had a thing for Tinkerbell and had so much merchandise with her on it, so the fact that Disneyland Paris really focusses on her as a character, was something special.

If you’ve never been to a park, I’ll explain. They are so immersive. So much thought has gone into them and every detail is considered. And I don’t feel like it’s full of American over the top cheesiness that people might think it is. It’s full of happiness and joy. I adore the place.

If you’re not a regular reader of Musings of a So-Called Shutterbug, you might not know that I was able to visit Disney World last year to celebrate my 10 yr wedding anniversary. It was an incredible two weeks and really blew Disneyland Paris out of the water. Don’t get me wrong, Paris Disney is amazing and there are some elements that I prefer over Florida Disney (the Paris Castle is the prettiest in my opinion) but there is so much of it, with 4 parks, each of which bigger than you could even imagine, there’s so much to see and so much Disney magic to go around.

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You can go back and read my old post on my trip to Disney World if you would like. I’d been to Disneyland Paris twice before, which had cemented my love of Disney, but Disney World turned it into an obsession.

There’s so much detail involved in just the planning of a WDW holiday, and then once you’re there, you are (and I don’t mean this to sounds obvious) IN a world of Disney. I know that sounds stupid, but as I mentioned it’s completely immersive. It’s most definitely my happy place! You can be a kid again and all there is to do is have fun!

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There’s me looking pale as, at the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. I think I could happily live at the Magic Kingdom.

As part of preparing to visit WDW we watched a load of Disney and Pixar films. I love a lot of the Pixar movies and have found a love for some of the older Disney ones. Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland are firm favourites. Tangled and Frozen are up there too. But my favourite Disney film has to be Enchanted. It’s fairly new and not everyone has seen it, but I really love it every time I see it. I think my favourite Pixar film is Wall E. It’s so beautiful and the music is amazing. Considering the majority of the movie has no speaking in it, I think it’s probably more of a film suited to adults, but I could watch it every day. It’s so relaxing!

I don’t think my love for Disney will ever end. I would really like a Disney related tattoo at some point, and I have an idea of a couple I’d like. Later this year we’re visiting Orlando again, and there’s possibility we might visit Disney for one day. But if not, I’ll still revel in the Disney-ness at Disney Springs.

They say Disney Parks are the happiest places on Earth, and to me, they absolutely are!

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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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This Week I Have Been Mostly….

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Hello Spring! I think…. it’s been bitter and raining, and even though we had a glorious spring-like day last week I fear that was our lot…

But I had a busy weekend, with a family wedding on the Saturday, lots of chores Sunday and then the weekend ended with a trip to the cinema to see Beauty and The Beast.

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And I think I’m the only person in the world not to enjoy it! We saw the film in 4DX which I usually enjoy, but this time around it seemed really unnecessary. I actually felt a little sea sick at parts. I enjoyed Emma Watson in the film, and Gaston and Le Fou were awesome, but the rest not so much. I didn’t like Emma Thompson as Mrs Potts, and I didn’t like the changes made to the original songs (time changes in Tale as Old as Time, whilst they danced) and the new songs were just major cringe. Sorry world, but I wasn’t won over.

I’ve spent a lot of time listening to Childish Gambino’s back catalogue this week. After hearing Redbone and LOVING it, and having recently completed watching Atlanta on Netflix, I have become a big fan of Donald Glover and his music is continuing to consistently impress me.

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Work has been tough and intense and trying to get things wrapped up ahead of my holiday next week, I’m focussing extra extra hard on leaving things in a good way before I disappear.

I’m so excited for my trip to Rome though, and I’m really looking forward to some sunshine and a slower pace for a few days. I’m also really looking forward to taking photos whilst I’m there. If you don’t already follow my instagram, then head over, because I’ve been sharing some of my favourite photos I’ve taken over the years and it’s been a great trip down memory lane.

I’ll be posting my Favourites a few days early this month, as it’ll be scheduled whilst we’re away – and then once I’m back I’ll tell you all about my holiday! But until then, fingers crossed for some more spring-like days – come on Britain, I know you can do it!

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

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February has hit with a smash and a bang. Just as we’re trying to get used to the New Year, to the new “President” (I kinda like writing it that way) and longing for the Spring, we’ve been greeted with February. The groundhog says it’s going to be a long winter, but I’m hoping he’s just rodent with a long shadow.

I seem to be on a never-ending spending spree, and every weekend congratulate myself for a whole week without buying something, only to remember something I just bought or to go out a treat myself. This needs to stop, but at the same time there’s always something I need or want.

This week ColourPop got me with a new range of lip products called ‘Blotted Lips’.

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I knew I needed to get them, but with ColourPop being so hard to ship to the UK (not to mention expensive) and with the sting of customs charges, I didn’t think it would be on the cards. But then my American friend told me she was heading to visit family in a couple of weeks and would I like her to pick anything up for me. I knew this was meant to be so asked if I could ship something to her parent’s home. She said yes! So I filled my basket and got everything I’ve been lusting over for the past 6 months. This included a heap of lip products and one highlighter. I’m planning on doing a ColourPop video once it’s arrived. I’m so excited!

I’ve been really enjoying filming and uploading to YouTube and though I haven’t got many followers and there’s so much competition, I’m really enjoying the process and the comments I get from my viewers.

I babysat for my Niece this weekend, just past, and she gave me this picture she’d made for me:

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Apparently the night before she’d been so excited that her YouTuber aunty was going to be in her house and babysitting for her. She’s told all her friends I’m a YouTuber – which is technically true – I YouTube, so I’m a YouTuber! I love that I’ve got a fan!

I’ve also started working on a new series of blog posts called ‘Why I….’, the first of which will publish in a few days. It’s all about why I have made certain life choices and the affect it’s had on me. I hope you’ll enjoy reading them, and I look forward to seeing any discussion they stir up.

Having recently completed binge-watching the second series of The Man in the High Castle (awesome!) we had a TV void to fill, so we’ve just started watching The OA on Netflix.

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I’ve seen a few of Brit Marling’s films and though I find them self-indulgent, they’re incredibly interesting and unique, not to mention intelligent. We’re part way through and I’m hooked. I’m really interested in seeing how it ends – no spoilers please!

The week to come promises to be cold and icy, and all I long for is some sun, warmth and not to feel so pasty. I hope Spring comes soon, but until then I’ll just look at instagrams of tropical islands and pretend I’m there. Bring on Summer.

If you’d like to see my latest YouTube video, that went live this weekend, then go ahead below. It’s one for book worms – all about my favourite books!

ColourPop image copyright to ColourPop. OA image sourced via Google Images.

January Favourites

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And so we move into the second month of the year, in the hope that we can bypass the cold weather and all of a sudden be honoured with Spring-time. I wish!

It’s been crazy cold, icy, some people have had snow; but we have had plenty of lovely winter sun, so it’s not all bad.

This month, as well as upping the frequency of my blog posts a little, I’ve been able to post up a couple of videos to my YouTube channel, which is really exciting.

As well as that there have been some fab things on the TV, great music and I’ve had the chance to try out some of the beauty things I got for Christmas AND splurge a little on the January sales…

Let’s start with some music.

Ed Sheeran announced his new album and released two tracks from it, which went straight to number 1 and 2.

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My favourite of the two is Shape of You which I’ve had on repeat ever since. I can’t get enough of it, and I’m excited to hear the rest!

I mentioned in a past post I wrote about my 2016 in blogging, a planner that I’d picked up from Dot Creates.

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The Ultimate Blog Planner is a spiral bound notebook with sectioned pages designed to allow you to plan out your blogs as and when inspiration hits.

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I’ve actually started to really fill up the pages! Because it’s not dated you can write in it as and when you want, and it means you’ll never forget that glimmer of an idea you have because you can run and write it down when you have it! They come in 3 designs and are really inexpensive, so if you blog – go get one!

On a recent January sale shopping excursion we headed into The White Company, a shop I didn’t really go into, and saw they had a sale on their towels. We really needed to replace our towels since they were a wedding present 10 years ago – they’re still going strong, but they’d been washed and washed and washed… you get the picture. Anyway, we found these amazingly soft and HUGE bath sheets, hand towel and face cloth all in their sale.

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I swear when I wash my face with the face cloth it’s like rubbing my face with a fluffy puppy…. and when I get out of the bath and use my towel – woah mumma!

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Next, I finally took the plunge and bought a Beauty Blender. I’d never actually used a beauty sponge, but thought I’d see if they had any discounts on the Beauty Blender website. I managed to get a gift set which contained a pink and black sponge, a black micro sponge, a black oil blotter sponge and black sponge cleansing soap for £32 which I think is pretty good! They also included a free mini white sponge cleansing soap and mini cleansing liquid bottle too! So I think I got a great deal.

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Anyhow, I used the micro sponge and the pink Beauty Blender this past weekend and I’m really impressed. I’m mostly impressed with the micro sponge, and how it’s improved the look and longevity of my undereye concealer. Win!

Next, I want to talk about cleansing. I’ll admit it, that before Christmas I ONLY used miscellar water makeup wipes. They did me no harm, and they did the job. But since receiving the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish cleanser at Christmas I have seen the error of my ways. It’s amazing.

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Not only does this variation smell amazing, but it’s so soft on my skin. It’s moisturising, gets all of my makeup and mascara off my face without needing to scrub and it leaves my skin feeling amazeballs!

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And last is this incredible body scrub from The Body Shop. I picked this up in their sale for about £6 I think.

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If you were reading my blog last year, you’ll know I’m pretty obsessed with any body products that are coconut and pineapple scented. So when I saw this, I HAD to get it.

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Not only does it smell amazing though, the product is incredible. It’s very soft and has just the right about of exfoliating grit in it. You rub it over your skin and afterwards you feel soft and moisturised for DAYS. I mean it – no need to moisturise afterwards but you’re not feeling greasy or anything. I’m obsessed!

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I’m hoping this is a whole range because I’ll definitely be picking up more scents if it is!

And that’s it for another month! Have you tried any of these? I’d love to hear what you think 🙂

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

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This week I have been mostly hiding from the cold! It’s been in minus degrees quite a lot this week. I’ve had to scrape ice off the car more times than I’d care to think about, and my black car starts to look white before I’ve even finished work.

I spent the week catching up on TV in the evenings, I got rid of my mousey blonde roots and added highlights. I had a lovely pamper session on Friday evening (this was after my dinner of a Big Mac meal and 6 nuggets on the side…. Yum!)

I decided that I wanted to try my hand at general day vlogging this weekend, so that’s what I did on Saturday. We had some errands to run and then headed off to the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre to see Gaslight. Originally a play, I have see both iterations of the story in film but really wanted to see what the play was like.

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I really enjoyed it, and Gary (who didn’t know anything about the story at all) was really impressed with it too. We were both enthralled until the end.

If you saw my last post, you’ll know I recently picked up some new beauty bits, and this week I’ve been trying out my Renaissance Palette. I’ve really enjoyed how versatile it is, all the colours blend so nicely together and last a really long time on the lids. I can see me using it a lot this year!

Now we’re a few weeks into January, I have to say I’m kind of missing taking a photo each day to upload to Instagram. If you aren’t aware, last year I completed a 365 project where I took a photo a day for the entire year. I’ve completed this project 3 times now, and I think last year’s was the easiest. It made a huge difference that I was uploading to Instagram instead of Flickr, and what with having the camera on my phone instead of an actual camera, it was so much easier to upload and edit the photos in super quick time. But now I don’t have to take a picture every day, and as I say – I’m missing it! Maybe I need a new photo project. Does anyone know of any good ones?

On Saturday I also filmed my Q&A video, which has now gone live on my YouTube channel. I really enjoyed filming this one, so I might do it again at some point, depending on how well it’s received. Have a look if you fancy it!

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!

Planning Your Trip to Walt Disney World: part 3

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Whoo hoo! You’re at Walt Disney World. All your planning has paid off and you’re finally doing it!

If you’ve missed parts one and two of this planning series, then feel free to head back. But if you’re ready to enjoy your holiday, why not see what I consider to be awesome tips for when you’re there.

What’s Important to you?:

If seeing characters and getting autographs is important to you, then make sure you don’t just walk past photo ops when you see them. You don’t know when you’ll see that character again so spend the time waiting for your chance to meet them.

Don’t Miss Out:

If you see a piece of merchandise that you must have, don’t let it go. If you’re staying on Disney property it can be delivered to your room so you don’t have to worry about lugging it about, and some merchandise can only be bought in one or two stores. You might forget where you saw it, or even just never make it back to that part of the park.

This can be said for food too – if you don’t pick up that Dole Whip when you see it, you might never get to have it!

Rest:

It’s really important that you plan in rest when you can. The afternoons get HOT and if you’ve been up early and plan to be awake late then you’ll need a mid-afternoon rest. Take a nap in the hotel or even just chill out with a drink somewhere air conditioned. This is a great way to avoid arguments, feeling unwell or just plain exhaustion.

Really Work Your Fastpass:

There were a couple of occasions when we arrived for our fastpass and the wait for the ride was only short anyway. You have an hour period to use your fast pass in, so on these occasions we stood in line for the short wait (10-20 minutes), rode the ride in the standard line and then once we were done we walked right back and used our fast pass. By this time the wait was often longer the second time around, and so we managed to skip the line. This meant we got to ride twice within half an hour!

Be Flexible:

Even if you have a plan like we did, be prepared to change things dependent on weather or just how you’re feeling. We had a hurricane on the way when we were there which meant we had to skip our trip to the beach, reschedule a visit to Epcot and hide out in a mall when the rain set in!

Take Advantage of Freebies:

On our arrival, we were asked if we were celebrating. We told them it was our wedding anniversary so we got given badges each. It was my first visit too, so I got a 1st visit badge. If it’s your birthday they have badges for that also! Whilst out and around the parks and resorts, the cast members take note of your badges and acknowledge that you’re celebrating. We also got given a free cake on one of our quick service visits!

Take Advantage of Your Package:

On our last full day, we knew we had lots of Dining Plan quick service meal credits left – I mean A LOT so we headed to Goofy’s sweet shop in Disney Springs. Here they allow you to split your quick service meal credit for three snack credits and this meant we could get anything in the store that was snack credit eligible for FREE (most of the store was eligible). We had around 80 credits left at this point which meant we filled our basket full of sweets for back home and gifts and got them all for free. We felt quite guilty about taking advantage in this way, but the cast member who served us actually encouraged us to buy more and more and told us to come back the next day if we still had credits left. We had planned to, but the hurricane meant we couldn’t.

We also took advantage of the photo pass we had received in our package and whenever we saw a photographer with no or a short line we got our photos taken. This was a great way to keep a memento of our time in the parks and meant we were never waiting around for a photo op. The only photo line we stood in for a while was during our Halloween party night, but we knew we wanted a keepsake of that!

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We also each received a refillable mug as part of our package. If you have this, do take advantage of it. The mugs are plastic refillable cups that retail for $18. They are activated at the counter and then for the duration of your stay you can have free Coke Freestyle drinks as often as you like (one every 5 minutes, if you wish) at all the Disney resorts. This also includes coffee, tea and water. We used these every day and found them to be a real treat.

Go Off Site:

We rented a car which meant that we were able to go off-site to the stores and pick up cases of bottled water, iced coffee and snacks for our room. Our room had a mini fridge and so we were able to take cold bottled water with us whenever we left the room, and save money on buying water in the parks.

Check Your Receipt:

A lot of the receipts in the parks have money off codes or coupons at the bottom. These can save you money on future purchases in and around the parks and resort stores. So make sure you inspect your receipt and don’t just throw it away!

Stay Hydrated:

It’s essential that no matter how much fun you’re having you keep drinking water. It’s so easy to get distracted and forget to drink so keep an eye on how you’re feeling. There are water fountains everywhere and places selling water. But we took our own bottles and the backpack we carried had water bottle holders in it meaning we didn’t have to worry about carrying freezing wet bottles in our hands.

And on that note: Make sure you wear sunscreen – hats, sunglasses and sunscreen – and don’t forget the top of your ears. You don’t want to ruin your trip with sunburn and heat exhaustion. Look after yourself!

So, those are my hints and tips for an epic trip to Disney World. There’s so much more, but I could go on and on – and you should probably learn them for yourself! So, go ahead, have an amazing time, and enjoy yourselves. And don’t forget to come back and tell me all about your trip to the happiest place on earth J