This Week I Have Been Mostly….

this week i have been mostly

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!

Adulting & Growing Old: What Adults Never Told You When You Were Young

I’m coming up to 34 years old next month, and I have to be honest, I still feel 19 in my head. I think I always will.

I’ve been blessed with a young-looking face, and people always think I’m about 6 years younger than I actually am. I used to hate this but now I like it, and I hope it doesn’t change.

Me and my husband used to look at photos of when we had first met and compare them with current ones, then comment on how we hadn’t changed. But now we look at those same pictures and notice a massive difference. I’m getting old! Not really, but I’m definitely looking older.

Last week I found my first white hair – not grey, white – and I was so happy. I love the idea of getting older, and I feel like I’ve hit another milestone. I’ve been looking for greys for a while now, but since I dye my hair (and have done since I was 16) I rarely see my natural colour. For some reason this time around, my mousey-roots making an appearance hasn’t bothered me so I’m holding out dying my hair until I snap back into hating it again. My plan is that if my hair goes white I won’t have to dye or highlight it any more. I’m aware that won’t work, but let me dream for a while.

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When I was a kid, I knew that as soon as I hit 18 I’d be an adult and have it all sussed out. But along with no one telling you how much aftercare having a tattoo takes and what REALLY goes on when you give birth, it’s one of those things that people don’t tell you when you’re a kid and leave you to work out yourself;

You’ll never really feel like an adult. (Shh don’t tell the kids).

I often see a term banded around on twitter – ‘Adulting’, and I think it’s perfect. For example “I had pizza for breakfast #adulting” or “Spent the afternoon doing my accounts, and now I’m off to a wine bar #adulting” It’s used perfectly to illustrate the psyche of an ‘adult’ who has the brain of a teenager doing things they feel that can or should do but not quite feeling like an adult.

I’ve always said that I never want to feel like an adult. If I start feeling that way, things will be dull and boring and I will have lost the fun. I also say you’re never truly old until you hit about 80, so I’ve got some time to go.

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You spend your young life learning how to be when you’re thrust out into the big wild world, but you never really stop learning. You can continue to educate yourself both academically and by learning from experience and the experience of others. Everyone you meet teaches you something about people and about yourself. You never stop making mistakes, learning from them and choosing which path to take.

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I find growing older to be the biggest adventure. It’s exciting. I want to be a sponge taking it all in, adapting myself to it and moving on to the next thing. I know a lot of people who went through a funk when they hit 30, but I was the most excited. This year I turn 34 and whilst I’m not so keen with my skin changing, my ability to go out in the evening on a ‘school night’ diminishing and my life responsibilities going up, I still know there’s so much ahead of me. There’s time to learn, change, experience and move forward. There are people I haven’t met, places I haven’t seen and so many things I need to learn about myself.

Who wouldn’t want to move forward and experience all of that?

Playing Tourist with London Duck Tours

If you’re a regular reader of mine you’ll know I’m a big fan of London, and visit whenever I can – especially in Summer. So when I was asked whether I wanted to play tourist and go on a London Duck Tour, the answer was a resounding YES!

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I’d heard of Duck Tours before but wasn’t really sure what they were, having just seen the big yellow boat-like vehicles cruising through the streets of London. I was definitely intrigued. Me and hubby arrived at the Southbank on the day of our tour, and basked in the gorgeous sunshine until our transport arrived.

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The DUKW vehicles (affectionately referred to as Ducks and painted an appropriate yellow) are so-called thus: D = First year of production code “D” is for 1942, U = Body style “U” utility truck (amphibious), K = Front wheel drive, W = Two rear driving wheels (tandem axle). These vehicles were used to carry supplies and were most suited for this due to being able to go on both land and water. Fitted with a lovely roof, they are very accommodating on both grey and gloriously sunny days.

We hopped onto our Duck, Titania (all the Ducks are names after female characters from Shakespeare plays) and got comfy in our seats. Our tour guide Mark quickly gave us a brief of the journey ahead and then we were off!

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The tour started in Waterloo, then Westminster;

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Parliament Street, Whitehall, Downing Street, Trafalgar Square, Pall Mall, Piccadilly;

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Grosvenor Place and Buckingham Palace, MI5 and Lambeth Bridge before splashing down into the Thames next to MI6.

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We then travelled by water past the Tate Gallery, underneath Lambert Bridge and then turned around beside the Houses Of Parliament before heading back to dry land. Back on solid ground, we passed through the Vauxhall area and then back towards Waterloo.

Considering I’m a regular visitor to London, it was great learning so much about places I’ve seen many times, as well as noticing things I’ve never seen before and travelling through parts of the city I’ve never seen. I even learned that the Thames isn’t as dirty as I’d once thought, and its only the colour it is due to the constant churning of clay and soil on its bed. Who knew?! (Well, obviously Mark, our guide knew….)

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I loved the tour. Our guide was informative, funny and really knew his stuff. I honestly felt like I was on holiday, and the time we spent on the water was so relaxing!

I’m so pleased I got the opportunity to take this tour. I’ve seen that London Duck Tours also do themed tours including James Bond and D-Day. I might have to look those up! I visit London so frequently it’s so easy to forget about the landscape and history surrounding you in such a fast-paced environment. I LOVED playing tourist!

I was given the opportunity to take this tour for free by London Duck Tours, but at under £30 per adult ticket I’d say it’s worth every penny, for such a unique way to see and learn about London. You can find out more about their tours, and buy tickets and vouchers here, at their website London Duck Tours

Have you ever been on one of these tours, or even one of their themed tours? I’d love to know what you thought. Leave me a comment below, and tell me about it!

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I was given two tickets to the London Duck Tours for free, in return for my honest review of the experience. All views are my own and totally unbiased. If you like the look of the tours, go try one and see for yourself!

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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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 😀

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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.

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

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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!

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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!

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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….

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