London, Manchester and Carrying On

Just under two weeks ago I had a couple of days off work booked, because I was supposed to be seeing Ariana Grande at the O2. As you might know I’m a huge Ariana Grande fan and it was going to be the highlight of my summer.

I don’t need to tell you why the concert was cancelled, and I don’t want to go deep into my feelings about it here. We had a hotel booked (the Intercontinental O2, which is right next to the O2) and we’d paid already so we decided to go and have a couple of days in London in the sunshine despite the attack.

I’m really pleased we did. London in the sunshine is beautiful. Our room overlooked the O2 and we could see the people walking over the top of it – we were that close!

IMG_1359

We had a lovely time wandering around. We never really have the chance to just mill about, since we’re usually in London for a particular reason. Stands selling fresh fruit, juices and waffles pop up this time of year, and they look and smell so inviting.

IMG_1366

We ate dinner at The Diner, and I had this yummy corned beef hash.

IMG_1381

The next morning we grabbed breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien and sat outside on Covent Garden markets – it was already too hot to sit in the sunshine, but we had a lovely warm breeze from our table.

IMG_1395

I won’t lie, the police presence was both reassuring and scary. I have an issue with guns, they make me nervous just by seeing them. I know they’re in capable hands in this circumstance but they can still be used in error. Besides that it was a lovely couple of days and a nice way to spend it in lieu of the events.

As I type this, the afternoon after the London Bridge attack, my heart is heavy once more. The Ariana Grande concert for Manchester is this evening, and I don’t suppose my eyes will stay dry. The whole situation is frightening and frustrating. No one knows how to behave in these kinds of situations and people are sensitive for varying reasons. Arguments are being caused because of people’s differing opinons in situations like this and no one knows what to do. No one feels in control. All we can do is do the right thing and continue to live our lives.

I’m glad we decided to keep our reservation in London and continue our day. London is beautiful in the sunshine, everyone was happy and it was lovely to see so many people enjoying themselves.

This Week I Have Mostly….

this week i have been mostly

Hi guys. This is just a quick post to catch up with the past couple of weeks.

I’ve been busy making some exciting plans in my personal life and that’s kind of overtaken things, so I haven’t planned many blog posts.

That being said, my ColourPop cosmetics order arrived so I plan to do a post on the items I bought (there’s some crackers!) Here’s a preview:

IMG_1246

Last week I was also featured in John’s Road to Volunteering blog, in his Community Champions blog post. It was an honour to be asked to be featured and to be considered amongst such an amazing bunch of lovely bloggers was wonderful. John’s words about me were so kind. Make sure you click the link above and have a read. And whilst you’re there, check out John’s blog and the other ladies featured and follow them too!

In other blogging news, I had what I consider to be an inspired idea for a new blogging series which could even turn into a YouTube series too. I can’t get started on it just yet, but I’m hoping to be able to start working on it within the next few months. If you’re intrigued, follow me on Twitter @Shutterbug_Blog and keep an eye out, because I’ll be needing help from other bloggers!

In TV I’ve just gotten up to date with Riverdale (one of the worst shows I’ve seen in a long time, and who knows why I kept watching it), and we’ve been flying through watching Twin Peaks. We’re determined to watch it all, and the film, before the new season airs. I think we might manage it (fingers crossed!)

Spring seems to be making its presence known, and it’s been so nice to have warm sunshine at last. I’ve even been going outside without a coat on. It’s amazing what the weather can do to lift my mood, and I’m hoping this is the warmer weather here to stay until September. Fingers crossed!

So that’s it for now. Keep your eyes peeled for my upcoming ColourPop post, and I’ll be back soon!

 

How Waking Up Earlier Helped Me Feel Less Tired!

I’ve always needed LOTS of sleep. Since I was a kid my bed time was always way earlier than anyone else I knew (or know now) but now I’m an adult I’ll happily go to bed at half 8 without complaint.

They used to say you need at least 8 hours sleep in order to fully recharge, but I think that’s been changed to 6 hours now. I feel like a good 6.5 hours is all I really need, and a few years back I realised that I will actually feel worse if I have too much sleep.

IMG_1169

There’s a lot of research about different types of sleep, you can get apps and trackers that will tell you how much ‘useful’ sleep you’ve had and such.

But a while back I decided that I’d just wake up a little bit earlier in the normal working week and see how that affected my tiredness. After a little trial and error I found that waking up around 45 minutes earlier than I had been (and I usually go to sleep around the same sort of time every night) lead me to feeling more awake and refreshed than I had when I’d slept a little longer.

IMG_1168

I was sold! I’ve also tried a few other things to help with getting a good night’s sleep. I’ll put my phone down as soon as I go to bed, and watch tv for a bit before falling asleep. I don’t like to use my phone after around 9:30 if I’m honest, just because it’ll give my brain a little rest. iPhone recently added a feature that takes the blue out of the screen backlight after a time set by you, which is supposed to help your brain switch off and be less active ahead of sleepy time.

I was also sent a few sample products by the brand Kiss the Moon to try out. A couple of balms and face oils.

 

One was a temple balm and one was a face scrub and since my skin is so picky and changeable I didn’t really want to try the scrub. But I do love a nice face oil. I’ve given them all a go and though I didn’t find them to aid my sleep at all, they did have lovely calming scents. There’s three types and each one is aimed towards a different skin type. I decided to take one on holiday to Rome with me.

IMG_0936

The calm oil is my favourite scent of the bunch, but I’ll be honest they’re very ‘herbal’ scented and not really my cup of tea. I did find them to be calming, as I mentioned before, but they didn’t do anything for my skin. I have face oils which when I wake up I can feel they’ve made a difference to the softness of my skin, and with these oils they didn’t seem to make a difference, so I can’t say I’d reach for them. That being said, that’s not the primary point of these. They’re designed to relax you in an essential oil kind of way, and in that this succeeded.

Of all the things I’ve tried out, to help me wake up feeling more refreshed, I’d say setting my alarm to an earlier time was the most successful. It took a couple of attempts to know when was best, but now I’ve done it I’m so pleased I did. My brain has enough time to wake up, I’m not rushing to leave the house, and I’m calm and relaxed. I’m so pleased I did it!

IMG_1167

 

Kiss The Moon sent me a few samples of their products free of charge to give a go. You’ll be able to tell my opinions are my own and I have recieved no financial benefits for posting this article.

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

this week i have been mostly

It’s been a busy few weeks and feels like I haven’t slowed down! With so much to do it’s important to plan in down time, and thankfully I feel like I’ve managed to book in some of that too!

Two weekends ago I spent a lovely evening with my Mum and Sister at a local pub for a girly meal. It was a really great evening, despite the waitress mixing up the drinks and telling us the alcohol was in the wrong one. Doh!

Then this weekend I had an awesome Five Guys on Friday evening, Saturday was spent in London, at the Glamour Beauty Festival. I met up with a fellow blogger Sophie Kate, who had won tickets to the event via Pixi Cosmetics and chose to take me along!

IMG_0710

The event was really great – we didn’t have much time due to prior engagements, so skipped on our talk, but got to see all the stands and grab our goodie bags. Stay tuned for a post dedicated to this event, coming soon!

There was also an awesome food market just outside the Saatchi Gallery that I had a little look at before heading off.

IMG_0719

IMG_0720

After the event I met up with Gary and we headed to get some lunch at Bodeans in Soho. We love this place, as it’s really authentic BBQ, done right. The food is so good, and they have Key Lime pie on their desert menu – so we had to go there, really 😀

IMG_0722

After lunch we wandered towards Covent Garden, and Neal street as there was a store Brandy Melville I wanted to pop into. On the way we came across a really powerful women’s march, against male violence towards women. It was really wonderful seeing women of all colours, races and cultures marching together. Many of the banners spoke of first hand experience and really struck with me.

IMG_0700

Ironically after we’d been to Neal Street (where I bought I lovely grey and so so soft sweater at Brandy Melville) we came across a load of police standing by as a group of drunk, aggressive football hooligans threw cups of beer into the shoppers and made utter fools of themselves. After seeing the women’s march, to see this from these men was like seeing two polar opposites of human nature. It’s amazing how humans can be both so strong and inspiring, and so disappointing all at once. It was a really grounding experience.

We also popped into the Minalima store and exhibition in Soho. We’d been given a flyer when we saw The Cursed Child, and hadn’t had the time to pop in, but it was great to see what they had in there. The building was 3 floors up, creaky floorboards and all, which really suited the theme.

After this we wandered around for a bit and then decided to head home because we had gotten up super early, eaten too much were really tired! It was a really awesome day. And once we’d gotten home I had a root through my goodie back from the festival, and OMG. You’ll have to check back for my post to see what I got!

I also posted my ColourPop video to my YouTube channel, so make sure you have a look if you are interested in seeing what I picked up. I’ve linked the video below.

The next few weekends are really busy too, so I don’t know whether I’ll have videos to go up for a couple of weeks. Next weekend is a family wedding, and then the following weekend I fly to Rome. The weekend after we’re off to Secret Cinema Moulin Rouge – Hopefully I’ll have video of some of that to go up afterwards.

In the meantime, keep up with me on instagram and twitter!

 

Why I…. Stopped Wearing A Bra

whyi

Yes, you read that right. I stopped wearing a bra over 6 months ago. Before I carry on, I’m just going to give my Dad, who I know reads my blog, permission to stop reading this post. Don’t feel bad, I wouldn’t want to read a post about my kid’s boobs either.

I think the last time I wore a bra was at my friend’s wedding last year, and before that maybe Spring last year.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not walking around totally hanging out. I wear bralettes instead. But I want to write about what a difference it’s made to my life.

img_0469

Firstly, I’ll let you know I was never blessed with a full rack. I’m a small 34B, sometimes slightly bigger depending on hormones. I’ve never found I fit a bra properly, even in my size there will always be a gap and one boob is slightly bigger than the other so there’s nothing I can do about that. I can never just walk into a shop and pick up my size or buy online, without trying on first to make sure it fits.

I also have a twisted rib cage, so my ribs dip in on one side and protrude on the other. This isn’t a problem in everyday life, but means I can’t wear anything with boning or longline underwear. It also means underwire is often really uncomfortable. I never worked out why a cup size as small as a B would need underwire, but here we are!

img_0465

Because of my small size, I would always choose bras with ample padding or something to try and push me up, but as I got older I realised I preferred a more natural shape. I began to get used to my size and stop longing for a larger chest – something to fill out a shirt or bikini in a more feminine way.

But when I started to go to the gym more and wear sports bras, I began to appreciate my size and shape. Sports bras are designed to push in and support, and the more athletic shape is of a smaller chest size. I like that when I jump or run my boobs don’t move too much. And getting a sports bra on and off is hard enough with a B cup size, so I can’t imagine how hard it would be if they were any larger.

img_0466

Anyhow, I digress. Since the days of the sports bra I have purchased Calvin Klein crop tops which I love (though the bands are a little thick on my twisted ribs) and then after that I picked up a heap of Hollister bralettes. Not only are these comfortable, they’re pretty. They will go with any tops because they either match or contrast the straps of anything I wear AND they’re cheaper than bras.

img_0467

Also because of them being cross and racer back style, the straps don’t constantly fall down. Whoop! I have since bought some gorgeous lace front-fastening triangle bralettes from Victoria’s Secret and a halter bralette from Urban Outfitters. It’s really handy that these are so in fashion at the moment, because it means I have my pick!

img_0473

Now, I embrace my small shape. I love the freedom I get from ditching the underwire and I feel so much more comfortable all throughout the day!

Planning Your Trip to Walt Disney World: part 1

planning

So you’ve decided to go to Disney World! Good choice 😀

But before you can go and have all the fun, you need to make some decisions. You want this to be the trip of a lifetime, and for that to happen you need to have made all the right choices at booking stage.

Here’s what me and my husband did to plan and book our trip, based on a two-week stay for two adults.

There’s so much information to take in and so many factors to consider, so the first thing you need to do is:

Research!

Gary became a member of thedibb.co.uk – a forum and user based website for Brits planning Disney vacations. It’s got so much information including a vacation planner, tips, calendars on peak times, which parks to go on which days, special events…. And that’s not mentioning the wealth of information provided on the forums by the members.

Budget

You’ll already know this isn’t going to be a cheap holiday, but you’ll still be able to make some choices based on what you’re able to afford or save up for. Keep an eye out for the UK Disney Dining Plan offers which usually come out in April. We managed to get a great deal by doing this (but more of that later)

Hotel

Based on your budget you’ll need to decide whether you want to stay on property or off. There are schools of thought for both options and benefits to both, but we decided we wanted to stay on property and the option of the dining plan helped cement this for us.

Let me tell you a little about the dining plan offer. It’s basically offers you meals for free based on the type of hotel you choose, and means you won’t likely need to pay for much (or any) food when on Disney property. For two weeks in the parks this can make a massive impact on the amount of cash you need to budget for once you’re actually there.

There are 3 types of resort at Disney World – basic, moderate and deluxe. If you choose a basic hotel, you don’t get the option of the dining plan. However, if you choose a moderate hotel you get the option of a Quick Service dining plan, and if you choose Deluxe you get the option of the Table Service dining plan. These mean that for each day, and each person, in your party you receive 2 meals (either quick service or table depending on your plan) and 1 snack each. You can upgrade to the Table Service plan if you’re staying at the moderate resorts, however ideally we would have wanted to stay at a Deluxe resort and get the Quick Service plan – this wasn’t an option though.

Quick service dining locations are places where you go to the counter and order, then take a tray to the table yourself and sit. Table Service are exactly what you think; you’re waited on. But these kinds of restaurants require bookings more often than not, and serve heavier food. Gary and I knew we didn’t want to be restricted to eating times, or heavy food when we were hot and bothered, so knew that we wanted the quick service option.

For one Quick Service credit, you receive an Entrée (main course), desert and a drink – all for free!

We ended up choosing Port Orleans French Quarter (a New Orleans mardis gras themed hotel resort) for our stay, and were over the moon with our choice.

By staying on-site, we also received a free refillable mug each. This was a plastic cup with a chip in the bottom which allows free drinks refills at all Disney World resorts, from Coke Freestyle machines (also included Coffee, Tea, Hot Chocolate and Milk)

The offer we booked under also gave us a free $200 gift card which could be spent in most of the shops and resorts on site, and a free Memory Maker (worth $160) which meant all ride photos, videos and official photos taken in the parks and resorts were free and linked to our account for download. Awesome!

Another major pro of staying on-site is the free transportation to and from Orlando International Airport via the Disney Magical Express. Car parking at the parks is also free of charge for guests staying at Disney resorts but are otherwise charged at $20 a day for those staying off-site.

If we had decided to stay off-site we wouldn’t have gotten any of these offers.

Once you’ve chosen your hotel, you need to decide:

When to go

Again, The Dibb is brilliant for choosing what time of year to go. Obviously, I don’t have children so don’t have to consider holidays. We decided to go at the end of September because the temperatures usually cool down a little, it was Halloween season and also Epcot Food and Wine Festival time – all things we wanted to experience. It was also coming off-peak season so we knew it would be less crowded for the most part.

With all these things considered, you can now either go to a travel agent or book it yourself. We decided to book it ourselves without flights, and hold on a little while to see if we could get a better price on flights nearer the time. It really depends on what you’re comfy with – it worked out well for us doing it ourselves.

So now all you need to do is book (when the time and offers are right of course!)

But you might think that’s all the planning done…. You’re wrong! It’s just beginning! Head straight part two on how to plan the perfect Disney World holiday!

This Week I Have Been Mostly…

this week i have been mostly

You might have noticed no blogs last week. I decided it’s nice sometimes not to blog J So I took a little break. You could still find me on both my twitter accounts (@groggits and @Shutterbug_Blog) but I decided that as I was feeling tired, run down and had a relentless headache turned migraine, I would give myself a break.

Apart from feeling totally exhausted and run down this week, I’ve done a little cooking with some fresh ingredients. Last weekend I made a lentil salad for my work lunches, which involved roasting cherry tomatoes, red onions and a whole garlic. I’d never roasted garlic before but was pleased with the results. It all looked pretty and tasted good, but I’m not sure it was worth the effort in the end.

image

Towards the end of the week I made myself a nice scramble using leftovers.

image

We’ve been beginning to pick up bits and pieces for our Florida holiday in September, and I purchased this Yankees cap to wear whilst we walk the parks. I’m not great in the heat and relentless sun, being a true brit we’re rarely subjected to it. This cap is perfect and light in colour so hopefully will keep me cool. I’ll just have to deal with hat hair for a while!

image

We’ve been visited a couple of times recently, by a fox, who likes to hang out in our garden. Totally relaxed and dozing, he likes to sun himself on our lawn. The birds don’t seem threatened by him at all, and as a result neither are we. He can share our garden with us!

fox1

And this weekend, I have been mostly listening to the new Ariana Grande album Dangerous Woman. It’s really great and I might go as far as to say it’s her best yet. My favourites at the moment are…. actually I can’t choose one. They’re pretty much all good! Though I was surprised Focus on Me didn’t appear, and can only be found on the Japanese version of the album, which I obviously don’t have….

ariana-grande-dangerous-woman-new-song-album-preorder-lil-wayne-stream-640x640

What have you been up to? Have you heard Ariana’s new album? What did you think?

March Staycation!

staycationbanner

I’d like to start today’s post by letting you know I’ve been featured on Just Charlie G’s blog in her Bloggers Talk Beauty section, this week. It was fun to take part, and I’d love it if you’d have a read, if beauty is something you’re interested in!

This week Gary and I have been on leave from work. We’ve got tons done and right now we’re pretty shattered!

We started our time off last Saturday with a trip to London with our niece Leah. Her birthday falls on Christmas Eve Eve which means she misses out on her birthday pretty much every year, it being so close to Christmas Day. So we decided we’d wait until Spring and take her shopping in London and do lunch. Leah chose TGI Friday for lunch so we headed to Covent Garden as it’s a little quieter there. Leah also loves the street performers so it was the perfect place to head first.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

Lunch was lovely, relaxed and tasty. We then headed on to lots of shops for make up shopping and picked up some bargains and treats! I think we got everything Leah needed and wanted. We also headed to Canary Wharf to visit Gary’s work place and get an amazing view of The City from up high. By the time we’d almost finished shopping we noticed we were losing the light and it was coming up to 6pm! It was an awesome day.

We’d planned to begin working on revamping our bedroom and dressing room this week and so Monday meant a trip to Ikea. We headed first time Beckworth Emporium for a mooch, and were accidentally treated to an aerial show as some planes were practicing formations. It was really something. Lunch at Buddies and then to Ikea, where we got a lot of inspiration and ended up making 3 trips for measurements and then fitting things in the car!

Tuesday was supposed to be day one of flat pack building, but we woke up to glorious spring sunshine. We HAD to be out and about on a day like that so instead we took a road trip to Bluewater shopping mall for a browse and to enjoy the weather. It was a wonderful day, and when we returned we began building the first wardrobe.

Flash forward to Friday evening and the dressing room and bedrooms were finally complete. 4 wardrobes and 1 chest of drawers, three trips to the tip and a lot of sore fingers later! Not to mention a few more trips to Ikea (my iPhone will be telling me how long it takes to get to Ikea next week….) We’re so pleased with how it looks.

Check out this before and after of our dressing room:

image

And we’ve since added hooks to the sides of the wardrobes for running medals and necklaces.

image

I used little tealight holders to store my makeup brushes.

image

And I’m obsessed with these drawer organisers. We bought three sets and now pretty much everything I own is in its own little box!

So now it’s Saturday and we’re knackered! We still have some lights and artwork to get for the walls but it’s amazing how much changes like this refresh the feel of the house!

And now it’s almost Easter, so Happy Easter to you all! Tomorrow we’re having Easter lunch with my parents and then I’m on Bridesmaid duty with a trial makeup session with the girls. Then I think we’re off to the cinema to see 10 Cloverfield Lane. After that we still have another day off work! Since the weather promises to be wet and possibly stormy we’ll no doubt be spending it inside somewhere, but I feel like we’ve definitely made the most of this holiday!