My Favourite Florida Buys

20 September 2015

I had originally planned to split my holiday purchases out in to three haul posts (Disney World, Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Sephora), but there was so much stuff that it all felt a little bit overwhelming. Instead, I've opted to share my favourite selections from all three categories.

I have to start with the obvious one, my Chip mug. I'd seen this little guy all over the internet and heard rumours about how he was only available in one specific location and in limited supply, so on our first night in Disney I power marched us to said shop for my first Disney buy. There were plenty of him and we saw him all over the place (Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Downtown Disney), so if you're off to Orlando soon I'm sure that you'll have no trouble buying one. I amazed myself by making this my only mug purchase of the holiday, but I absolutely love him.
My actual first buy of my Orlando adventure was my Gryffindor lanyard from Universal Studios. As we spent the first three nights of the holiday at the Hard Rock Hotel we had the on-site benefit of Front of the Line passes for most rides, so to save me from constantly digging around in my backpack for this pass, I bought a lanyard to wear it round my neck. I'll definitely pack this for future trips. I also treated myself to a Gryffindor pin to go on the lanyard, because you can never have too much house pride (Pottermore might've sorted me in to Ravenclaw...). On the subject of pins, I grabbed one at Disney featuring one of my favourite rides, Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid. The third and final Harry Potter item that I've chosen to showcase here is my Time Turner necklace. I ummed and ahh'd a lot about buying this, but in the end I'm so glad that I did. It was pricey, but it's so delicate and well crafted.
I surprised myself by buying a lot more makeup than I'd originally intended to on this trip.  I couldn't say no to the Becca x Jaclyn Hill Shimmering Skin Perfector in Champagne Pop, which is a truly beautiful highlighter. I've started wearing my brows a little darker than normal, so I treated myself to the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo in Ash Brown. Sneaking in to the top photo is the Sephora Bright Future Gel Serum Concealer, which I have in the palest shade for under eye cover-up. The bath salts were a Downtown Disney purchase from Basin. We went in to this shop on our last morning, and if it had been any earlier in the trip then I probably would've bought the whole shop, as everything smelt divine. My last two beauty items featured are both lipsticks: MAC's iconic Whirl liner in lippy form (need I say more?) and the Buxom Big & Sexy Bold Gel Lipstick in Sinful Cinnamon. This is another Kylie Jenner-esque shade, plus the lid clicks on magnetically, so what's not to love?
My final few favourite purchases are - of course - all Disney related. The two dreamy vinyls feature the soundtracks to Beauty and the Beast and the Little Mermaid, aka two of the best Disney soundtracks ever in my opinion. I'm so excited to listen to both of the records, and I adore the artwork. The back of each vinyl is also beautifully illustrated (featuring Beast and Ursula respectively). The beautiful Sleeping Beauty notebook pictured above actually flips over to reveal Cinderella on the other side, and I've started using this, along with my Minnie Mouse pen, to keep a rather therapeutic daily journal. My other book purchase (shown below) is titled "Fairest of All", and tells the story of Snow White but from the Evil Queen's perspective. I'm hoping that this will be similar to Once Upon A Time, which is my favourite show. 
Lastly, there was so much amazing artwork available to buy in Disney, I could've spent days looking at it all. Unfortunately I didn't have an unlimited budget, so I opted for two of my favourite illustrations in post card form, which I'll frame. The Mermaid Lagoon artwork is by Liana Hee, ad I believe that it's also on display in some of the Polynesian Resort rooms. The Jasmine image (entitled Rajah Dreams) is by the artist Jeremiah Ketner. Kenner is also the mastermind behind my favourite purchase of the whole holiday, the beautiful Tangled print, titled Message From Home. It captures the scene perfectly, and I can't wait to hang this up.

What's In My Florida Beauty Bag

6 September 2015

Aside from the obvious (SPF, a conditioner to combat the humidity etc), there are a few items that I like to pack in my beauty bag when travelling to the United States. Here are my essential contents.

Base wise, I always purchase a tube of my trusty Caudalie Vinosource Moisturising Matifying Fluid if I'm travelling somewhere hot. Not only does this leave my skin feeling hydrated, my makeup sits on it beautifully and I'm fairly sure that by being matte, it extends the longevity of my foundation. Regardless of if you're visiting a warmer climate, if you struggle with oily skin I'd recommend giving this a go. I'm also packing two newly discovered base essentials of mine, the Make Up For Ever Hydrating Primer and Mist & Fix Setting Spray. I find that when paired together, these help my foundation to stay in place really well throughout the day, so fingers crossed they work as well in Florida.

In terms of makeup I'm hoping to keep things as simple as possible (the less I put on my face, the less there is to slide off in the heat!), but I'll be taking my beloved MAC Whirl Lip Liner with me for a pop of colour. I'm a little bit wary that lipsticks might melt in the heat, but this liner will last me through even the messiest of meals.

In the 'doesn't fit in to a category' category there are two essentials. The first is a medium sized Wet Brush. I honestly can't brush my hair with anything else these days, so I bought this slightly smaller version to take on my travels with me. This Wet Brush works just as well as the full sized, and I'd definitely recommend it for taming your locks. The last item is one that I wouldn't leave home without, an anti-bacterial hand gel. There will be lots of opportunities to pick up germs (railings, doors etc) in theme parks visited by thousands of people every day, plus lots of sticky ice-cream eating, so I like to have a pocketbac in my bag at all times. I'll be stocking up on some more of these in Bath & Body Works.

Florida 2015: 1 Day To Go

30 August 2015

After almost eleven months of planning, my Florida holiday is just around the corner. Tomorrow I'll be getting ready to head up to Manchester Airport, before my flight departs on Tuesday morning. My bags are (almost) packed, my documents are organised, and I can't wait to spend ten nights in the happiest place on earth. There were a couple of last minute dramas (my sister was no longer able to join me, but my other sister has stepped in to her place), but on September 1st I'm off to spend 3 nights at the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal followed by seven nights at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, and I can't wait. 

Here's the recap of everything that we've done to prepare, in case you're looking to book an Orlando holiday:

What's Done So Far:
  • Booked and paid for the holiday.
  • Checked in to our Disney hotel online and personalised our magic bands.
  • Progressed with my holiday diet - over five stone down.
  • Finished my holiday shopping and packed my luggage.
  • Booked and paid for airport parking/security fast track etc.
  • Selected seats on our flights.
  • Booked our ADR's and FP+ for Disney.
  • Purchased Memory Maker.
  • Updated our ESTA's.
  • Purchased travel insurance.
  • Printed and organised our documents.
What's Left To Do:
  • Online check-in for our flight (tomorrow morning).
  • Relax and enjoy every second of it.
I've managed to schedule some blog posts for while I'm away, sticking to my normal Wednesday and Sunday posting schedule, but for the whole of September my blog will be fairly Florida themed, so if that's not your thing then I can only apologise now. If you want to keep up with my travels as they happen then make sure to follow me on Instagram or Twitter (@josieowenx). It's holiday time!

Lush Online Haul

23 August 2015

After reading a few blog posts about the new Oxford Street Lush range now being available online, I decided to place an order. I'd only ever ordered from Lush online once before, but it took around four working days for my order to arrive via standard delivery. Lush believe in naked packaging, so the products aren't wrapped in anything on arrival. Unfortunately a couple of my Bubble Bars didn't make it here in the best shape, but they still smelt positively dreamy, so that's what counts! I'm saving these goodies for a warm bath on a rainy day, but here are my first impressions.

Bath Bombs.
I only ordered one bath bomb this time, and that was Twilight. This will supposedly turn my bath water a deep purple colour with a lavender scent. Apparently Twilight is good for helping with sleeping problems, so fingers crossed on that one.

Bubble Bars.
Most of the bubble bars that I bought are new to me, starting off with Milky Bath. The design of this is adorable, I love the silver bottle cap. Milky Bath is orange scented (one of my favourite fragrances), so I'm excited to give this a go. Another new purchase is Pink Flamingo. I won't lie, this was ordered purely for how flipping cute it is, who doesn't want to dip a flamingo on a stick in to their bath? From what I can gather, this is basically a cocktail for your tub, which sounds perfect for a pre-night out scrub to me. The third new bubble bar in my order was the Yuzu and Cocoa Bubbleroon. Not only does this look like a rather convincing macaron, it also smells of a rather heavenly chocolate and orange combination. If I can't have Terry's then this will do nicely.

I re-ordered two of my all time favourite Lush products too, the Creamy Candy and the Comforter bubble bars. Both smell incredibly sweet (Creamy Candy is the same scent as the Christmas legend that is Snow Fairy, whilst the Comforter is a gorgeous fruity bergamot blend), give me plenty of bubbles, and feel like a truly relaxing treat to use in my tub. Creamy Candy has been reformulated too, so it's now a much brighter shade of pink. I find that I get two or three baths out of each bubble bar, so although they're on the pricey side at around £5 a pop, they're worth the cost.

Show Creams.
Finally we're on to the purchases that I was most excited about, two of Lush's new shower creams. I went for my beloved the Comforter scent, as well as Yuzu and Cocoa. The Comforter smells exactly the same as the bubble bar, so if you like that (and lets be honest, who doesn't?) then you'll love the shower cream. Yuzu and Cocoa once again has that delicious blend of chocolate and orange. I'll mainly be using these products as shower gels, but it's nice to have the scents corresponding with my bubble bath.

I sometimes struggle to find products - other than the Comforter and Snow Fairy - that I love from Lush, so it's really nice to see that they're expanding their range. Now that I've built my stocks up again, my next big purchase will most likely be from their Christmas collection. Roll on November!

Gravity Defying Cake

19 August 2015

My Mum & I saw (and loved) Holly Bell's gravity defying cakes on This Morning recently. We decided to give one a go for my sisters birthday, so here's the easy-peasy cheat guide.
We began our lazy cake with a couple of pre-made Victoria sponges from the supermarket. We used Betty Crocker chocolate icing (I could eat this by the bucket) to 'glue' chocolate fingers around the outside of the cakes. These looked really sweet, but they also stopped the Maltesers from rolling off the top of the cake.

Next we sticky taped a couple of wooden barbecue skewers together and poked these in to the cake. Place your empty sweet packet on top of the stick as a guide to how high up you need to place your chocolates. Using the same method as with the chocolate fingers, we pasted the Maltesers to the skewer. This gives the gravity defying impression, as if the Maltesers are being poured from the packet and on to the cake.

Once you're finished with defying gravity (now try and get the song out of your head) spread a thin layer of your yummy icing over the top of the cake. Pour your Maltesers on to this et voila, the top of the cake is sorted. We added extra Maltesers in certain locations to pretty the cake up/hide the base.

The last step was to add a the Maltesers rolling down the side of the cake. Again, this is easy peasy. Use the Betty Crocker icing to attach the chocolates to the fingers in a trailing pattern, as if the Maltesers are spilling over the top of the cake. Place a few at the base too and you're finished!

Although it was a little time consuming and fiddly at points, creating this gravity defying cake was actually a lot simpler than I initially expected. For a first attempt I'm pretty proud of how ours turned out. The best part is that you can use the favourite kind of chocolate/sweet of whoever the cake is for to personalise it. Oh, and it tastes pretty good too.

My Florida Wish List

16 August 2015

I've been dreaming up my Florida shopping wish list ever since we booked the holiday almost twelve months ago. As a huge Disney/Harry Potter/beauty/food fan, Florida is pretty much my ideal destination, so I had visions of filling an empty suitcase with goodies that I'd bought over there. Unfortunately my cash flow isn't unlimited, but I've been saving hard over the last few months to make sure that I can treat myself to a few bits and bobs whilst we're away. These are the items that I'm really hoping to be able to get my hands on.

We start off our holiday with three nights at the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal, specifically for the early entry in to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. There are about a zillion things that I want to buy from here (I'm sure that a few chocolate frogs will be hopping in to my case, for example), but I've featured three items specifically which I'll make sure to come home with. I'd really like to buy an interactive wand ($47.95) so that I can cast some spells around the park. It seems to be fairly hit and miss as to whether Hermione's Time Turner necklace ($49.95) is in stock at the Wizarding World, but if it is, then I'd love to buy it. It's a pretty gold plated necklace which would make me feel a little magical when I wore it. I've also got my eye on a couple of pins for my collection too, I particularly like this golden snitch ($9.95). 

After our time at Universal, we move on to Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort to soak up the Disney magic for seven nights. My Disney wish list is even longer than my Universal one, so I've featured a little selection (not shown essentials include some new pens, pins and Minnie ears, of course). I've fallen head over heels for the chalk board home range, so I'll definitely be adding this Beauty and the Beast inspired plate and bowl ($12.95 a piece) to my collection. I'm going to try and not come home with too many mugs, but if I manage to find this adorable Chip cup ($19.95) in stock then it will be purchased. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for this tie dye t-shirt ($29.95), which I think would make a great lazy day top. Lastly I couldn't come home from Disney World without a plush of some form, so I think that I'll treat myself to a pillow pet to sit on my bed. There are lots of different characters available, but my current favourite is the Cheshire Cat version ($32.95).

Sandwiched in between our time at Universal and Disney, we're hoping to get some off-site shopping done at Florida's numerous malls and outlets. Still on the Disney theme, I'd like to swing by Hot Topic to add a couple of new Funko Pop's to my collection; I particularly like this Ariel one ($12.50). Vans are so much cheaper in America that I'll be bringing at least one pair home for myself, so far I like the look of the Windsor Wine Authentic Lo Pro ($45). Of course I'll be hitting up Sephora to stock up on some of my favourites, including a new rollerball of Daisy ($25) and my absolute favourite, Tarte Amazonian Clay Foundation ($39). I'll also be looking to try a few new products too. I've got my eye on this Kat Von D Shade + Light Contouring Palette ($46), as I'd like to get to grips with contouring. The beauty theme continues as I'll be stocking up on my favourite Victoria Secret fragrance mists ($14) as I'm almost out, these make great gifts too. Lastly there will of course be an awful lot of American candy consumed over the course of the holiday. I've got white chocolate Kit Kat's ($0.89) on the brain already...

My Everyday Highlighters

12 August 2015

It's taken me years to finally get the hang of highlighting. Many a time I've left the house looking like a disco ball, but now I think that I've finally found a few perfect products to help me have a healthy glow without looking like an explosion in a glitter factory. Here's the roundup of my favourite highlighters, these three are the products that I reach for on an almost daily basis.

To kick things off is the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light, which is the darkest in colour of all of my highlighters. It has a peachy undertone, and I mainly use it as a setting powder which gives me a soft and subtle glow. Dim Light makes my skin look really natural, the highlight isn't too OTT, and it does a great job of holding my makeup in place too. If you want a low key light to the skin then this powder is perfect, but it can also be paired with a more obvious highlighter for beautiful skin.

Next up is the NARS 413 BLKR Illuminator, which is my personal favourite of the trio. It's a liquid product with a smooth texture and a beautiful pearly champagne colour, which blends out really prettily, particularly along the top of the cheeks. As well as the colour, it's the consistency of this product which wins for me, as it's so easy to blend with your fingertips. I always joke that I feel a little bit like Kim K when I wear this highlight, as it really does add a beautiful healthy glow to the skin and helps to create the illusion of cheekbones. I  particularly love the look of 413 BLKR paired with Dim Light for beautifully lit skin.

Finally, the MAC x Cinderella Beauty Powder in Mystery Princess is the latest addition to my highlighting collection, and it's also the most pinkish in tone of all the highlighters that I own. It's quite similar to Dim Light in that it has a more subtle, pretty look than the more obvious results of my NARS favourite, but it's still a great highlighting option if you prefer powders. I like to use Mystery princess on lazy days, as it's a no fuss product. A swirl of your brush in the pan will leave you with a lovely shimmer.

My Top 5 Weight Loss Tips

9 August 2015

I'm by no means a weight loss expert, but at five stone down so far this year, I thought that I'd share a few of my tips for anyone who's trying to shift a couple of pounds. I've only set myself one 'don't do this' as I've gone along, because it's all about the positive changes.

1. Don't Set Unrealistic Goals.
On a recent cleaning spree, I found an old notebook that I'd attempted to use as a fitness journal. I'd written my first weekly target as "lose 5 lbs and exercise for 260 minutes". Needless to say this went straight in the bin, but reading both of these goals made me feel really sad, as both would only leave me feeling disappointed and disheartened at the end of the week. Losing 5 pounds in 7 days is both unhealthy and unsustainable, and I'm not about to put a time limit on my exercise routine. If one week I feel full of energy and manage to swim most nights then that's great, but likewise if I'm having a hectic time of it and only make it to the pool once then that's okay too. My longterm goal now is to continue to improve my wellbeing, and to reach and then maintain a healthy weight. It's all about being consistent in the long run, not setting ridiculous short term goals which aren't maintainable.

2. Do Find Your Own Motivation.
As someone who's always struggled with their weight, people have often said to me "you've got to lose it when you're ready". I never really understood what this meant. I was desperate to lose weight but couldn't stick to a 'diet' for longer than a day or two at a time, so I always assumed that I had poor willpower. However, at the beginning of the year with a holiday in sunny Florida to look forward to, I was finally able to commit to taking control of my weight. Now that Florida is almost here, my motivation going forward is how much happier and healthier I feel right now. 

3. Do Up Your Water Intake.
You'll have heard this a million times before, but it'll make a big difference. If you only make one change to your health, then stop drinking (or at least reduce) fizzy drinks. I was a total Fanta fiend, I'd have 6 or more glasses on a daily basis. Going cold turkey was tough for the first couple of days, I had migraines from the sugar withdrawal. Now though, my skin is much clearer and I feel much less bloated and sluggish. I have so much more energy and I've trained myself to actually enjoy the taste of water. I still have the occasional glass of Fanta as a holiday treat, but I no longer crave it, and love getting my eight glasses of water a day.

4. Do choose healthy substitutes.
Switching up simple things - such as trading white bread for brown - can make a whole world of difference to a healthy lifestyle or weight loss regime. All of my carbs these days are whole grain, and I can't see that changing any time soon. If you can't commit to a total overhaul (and that's okay), why not cook yourself a burger and chips instead of ordering a takeaway? I can guarantee that you'll feel better for knowing where all of your ingredients came from, and from making the odd healthy exchange.

5. Do Find An Exercise That You Love.
They say that weight loss is 80% diet, but exercise is still a key factor. Since I took up swimming a couple of months ago I'm feeling a million times better. I can run up a flight of stairs without being out of puff, and my posture has improved too. I've rediscovered my love of walking so I've been incorporating this too, via my FitBit Zip and iPhone Health app. You wouldn't catch me on the cross trainer if my life depended on it (but if that's your thing then go you!), but because I enjoy swimming and walking they don't feel like a chore to me. *Whispers* I enjoy exercise now.

And Finally... Do Remember To Tell Yourself "Well Done!"
Losing weight, or maintaining a healthy weight, is hard work. We're very quick to criticise ourselves, but not so forthcoming when it comes to complimenting. Don't forget to take five minutes every now and then to congratulate yourself on how far you've come. I'm still getting the hang of this, but my confidence is growing on a daily basis.

The Make Up For Ever Foundation Sandwich

5 August 2015

The Make Up For Ever foundation sandwich is a bit of a lengthy title, but it's a pretty apt description for my new favourite base trio. It took me forever to try MUFE HD foundation, but now that it's in my life it's a great substitute for my absolute favourite (but hard to get) Tarte Amazonian Clay Foundation.

Worn on it's own, the HD foundation gives a satin finish which is nice, but not a game changer. However, sandwiched between the Hydrating Primer and Mist & Fix setting spray it's incredible. The formula looks matte, but my skin still has a healthy inner glow, and it lasts all day. Even when I'm wearing my glasses, the foundation on my nose sits intact, which never happens. This is a hefty, full coverage foundation so concealer isn't really needed - other than for highlighting - and it's perfect for special occasions where cameras will be flashing.

I credit the first step of this trio, the Hydrating Primer, as not only the perfect tool for a smooth base, but also for being the only primer which I actually want to use on a daily basis (I'm normally terrible for neglecting primer). I don't have a massive problem with my pores so I can't comment on how it helps with that issue, but I love how soft this primer makes my skin feel. It has an almost velvet-like texture which the HD foundation sits really well on.

The third step, Mist & Fix, is like no other. It's seriously the perfect setting spray. It doesn't soften my makeup like my beloved MAC Fix+, but it makes sure that it doesn't budge all day long, so I tend to use the two together. If you're looking for a setting spray which will give you incredible staying power, give Mist & Fix a go. I've since ordered full sizes of this setting spray and the primer, so they'll be staying in my life for the foreseeable future.

Florida 2015: 30 Days To Go

2 August 2015

It's definitely a case of long time, no update. The last time that I posted about our impending Florida holiday was a whopping 140 days ago, so the planning has moved forward quite a lot since then!

I've managed to tick most of the items off my 'Still To Do' list from my last post, so here's the updated round up. 

What's Done So Far:
  • Booked the holiday.
  • Paid our full balance. This was done back in May, so now we're definitely going.
  • Personalised our magic bands. I've chosen yellow and Phillippa's gone for pink. 
  • Checked in to our Disney hotel. Our room request has been made, fingers crossed.
  • Progressed with my holiday diet. I'm around five stone down now!
  • Almost finished the holiday shopping. I just need a couple of last minute bits (swimwear etc).
  • Booked and paid for the airport hotel/parking/security fast track. We'll be driving up to Manchester the day before we fly and spending the evening at the Radisson Blu at the airport. I really hope that this helps with my pre-flight anxiety.
  • Booked our ADR's. And changed them. Again. And Again.
  • Selected seats for our flight. This was free of charge at our 60 day window.
  • Booked our FP+. This was done at 5am (zzz) on our 60 day mark, and I managed to get everything that I wanted, including the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Anna & Elsa.
  • Purchased Memory Maker. So now we can have nice photographs taken around the Disney parks.
  • Updated our ESTA's. We're definitely allowed in the country!
  • Purchased travel insurance. This was ridiculously expensive because of my pre-existing medical condition, but it's a relief to have it all sorted just in case.

What's Still Left To Do:
  • Finish off the holiday shopping. I'm sure this won't be too much of a challenge...
  • Book an ADR for House of Blues. These still aren't available, but I'm checking back regularly.
  • Online check in for our flight.
  • Get some more dollars. I've got some cash already and some more currency loaded on to a FairFx card, but I'd like to top this up a little more to give me maximum shopping potential.
  • Print off and organise all of our documents. I've started to do this, but I'm holding off from printing final copies in case there are any last minute changes.

The final thing left for me to do is relax and enjoy the holiday! Planning an Orlando holiday has been a total labour of love - which I never imagined when I first contemplated booking one - but I'm sure that it'll be worth all of the planning.

Dinner at Annette's Diner, Disneyland Paris

31 May 2015

Annette's Diner is one of the first things that you see as you walk in to Disney Village. You can't miss the neon lighting, fifties music being played from the building, or the vintage cars parked up outside.  It also happens to be one of my favourite places to eat in Disneyland Paris, so when we paid a visit on the first night of our February trip this year, I decided to take a few snaps to share on my blog.

One of my favourite things about Disneyland is the detail in all of the theming, and Annette's is no exception. Annette's perfectly captures how I'd imagine a 1950's diner to be: all bright lights, pale pink decor and rockabilly outfits and music. Each individual booth features a replica juke box, and the servers all wear rollerskates! Bringing a tray of food to a table on skates looks like no mean feat, but they manage it with ease.
As I was still trying to be reasonably good(ish) on holiday, I opted for the classic cheeseburger instead of something loaded with more toppings. What I didn't realise is that it would arrive with a mountain of fries! This was the first cheeseburger I'd had in a long time, as I'd spent quite a while as a vegetarian, so I enjoyed every bite. I didn't manage to work my way through the entire plate, but I'd happily give it another shot. The burger was delicious, and the fries were the perfect crispy skinny variety. 

Annette's is no fine dining experience, but if you're looking for filling, reasonably priced (for Disney) food in a restaurant with more ambience than your average, then make your way over to Disney Village. As they don't accept reservations there can be a bit of a lengthy queue on the door during peak dining times, but they also offer a takeout service if you'd rather eat on the move and skip the queue. Be sure to check out their yummy milkshakes too!

My Weight Loss Jars: 3 Stone 9 lbs Lost

27 May 2015

I haven't updated on my weight loss journey since the beginning of March, when I reached the 2 stone mark. Although my pace has slowed down a little since then (as expected), I've managed to lose a further 23 lbs, bringing me to a grand total of 51 lbs lost so far in 2015.

Food wise I've stuck to having three healthy meals a day, although I have made a few too many trips to the biscuit tin lately, so I need to put a stop to that. However, the main difference that I've made to improving my health is starting swimming again. I used to love swimming regularly, but fell out of my routine whilst at university. It's the only form of exercise that I've found which doesn't aggravate my skin disease, and I'm really enjoying having a bit of 'me time' two or three nights a week to clear my mind and focus on the pool. This has definitely boosted my weekly weigh ins.

I've finally started to notice the change that weight loss is making to my body. I've dropped a few dress sizes, and had to buy some new clothes as everything was too big to continue wearing, which is a lovely feeling. Being able to physically see the difference that my routine is making to my body is a great motivator. I'm also in a much better place mentally, and have lots more energy to burn off. I'm excited to see how the next few months of my journey go; there are only three left til Florida!

Currently Loving 07: The Beauty Edition

24 May 2015

 It's been what feels like an absolute age since I last felt motivated to share a beauty post. So when I came to gather together goodies for the latest addition to my (rather neglected) Currently Loving series, I surprised myself by solely selecting makeup. Here's the roundup of my recent favourites.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Foundation has become my base of choice since I started using it twelve months ago. I'm on my third tube, and will definitely be stocking up in Florida. This foundation provides a flawless, airbrushed base, my skin looks healthy but more matte than I tend to favour. To combat that, I use this in combination with my NARS 413 BLKR Illuminator which I've previously reviewed in a post here. None of my other powder/cream highlighters are really being used, as this adds a beautiful glow to the skin, and helps to chisel out some form of cheekbone.  The final base product in this edition is my beloved MAC Pro Longwear Concealer. I ran out of this recently, and as soon as I repurchased it I noticed what a difference it does actually make to my under eye area. I couldn't be without it.

Lately I've been a little fickle when it comes to eyebrow products. Pencils, powders, I've been giving them all a go. After returning to my Anastasia Dipbrow Pomade, I can confirm that I won't be straying again any time soon. I love the fullness that this product gives my brows, and for want of a better word, it's so pliable. I can apply this product to sit exactly where I need it to, so that I end up with well shaped brows. Concluding my current favourites is MAC Lip Pencil in Whirl. Yes, I gave in to the Kylie Jenner hype, and added this pencil to my order. I've never really been a liner fan before now, I own a couple but never bother to use them. However, I absolutely love the shade of Whirl, it compliments my natural lip tone really well, and I can finally cheat an extra little bit of fullness without looking OTT. Et voila: five products for a 'my face but better' look that I've been favouring lately.

Pay Day Purchases

22 March 2015

Ever since booking Florida, I've been using my wage to chip away at our holiday balance. However,  after a run of bad luck last month (which saw me breaking one iPhone, losing one iPod and having another crushed along with my car) and in celebration of my two stone weight loss, this month I decided that I deserved a treat or two. 

The first thing that I decided to do with my wage was buy an iPod touch. This was an extravagant purchase for someone who's meant to be living frugally, but I'm so happy to have music (and portable technology) back in my life. Next up, I couldn't resist buying something from the MAC x Cinderella collection. It's no secret that I'm a huge Disney fan, and although there wasn't much that appealed to me, I went for the Beauty Powder in Mystery Princess, which is a beautiful highlighter. As this was my first beauty purchase of 2015 I threw in another bottle of my beloved Fix+ for good measure. Beauty wise, my only other purchases were a bottle of the Bumble & Bumble Invisible Oil (not pictured), and some Bondi Sands tanning lotion. So far I'm loving both of these purchases, and although the oil isn't the cheapest, it's working far better than its predecessor.
Because I'm a total Disney nut, I can never resist a step in to Primark. I purchased an amazing Finding Nemo pyjama set which has gone straight in to my "pack for Florida" bag under my bed, and these Olaf pyjama leggings and a matching top. I'm not sure about whether to save the Olaf ones or not, I love them so much that I want to start wearing them ASAP, and I do have far too many pairs for my holiday already. My last Primark purchase was these amazing Aladdin flip flops for only £2! Yes, they're probably not the comfiest thing in the world, but they'll be absolutely perfect for the walk from our room to the pool. Plus I love Aladdin, so how could I say no?

My final couple of purchases are both also for my Florida. First up is the beautiful gold "I'm really a mermaid" shell necklace from I Love Crafty. I can't wait to wear this when meeting Ariel because I'm that kind of geek, plus it's such a simple piece that it'll add a touch of mermaid magic to the most boring of outfits. Lastly is the Mickey Mouse moleskin journal. This is for me to keep all of our notes/reservation numbers/receipts etc in so that I can write up a full trip report when I get back from Florida (if I manage to drag myself on to the plane home). It might seem a little early to be preparing like this for a trip that's not until September, but I'm a planning nut and this is the perfect size for our travels.
So there we have it, this is the what I've splashed out on over the last few weeks. I'm going to try my hardest to not buy anything else for Florida for a month or two, but we'll see how long that lasts...

February 2015 Scrapbook Page

18 March 2015

It's that time of month again! I really enjoyed sharing my January scrapbook page on the blog, so I'm back again with February's installment. As the month went by I found myself really looking forward to working on my pages, and spent a good chunk of time putting them together at the end of February.
This month was so jam packed that I found myself flowing over on to two pages. Even then, I struggled to fit everything in without making my pages look too crowded. I'm so happy with the finished layout though, and think it's a big improvement on my January page!
February began with a joint celebration of my siblings' birthday. My little sister turned 18, and my little brother celebrated his 17th birthday. As a surprise, we filled the living room with 75 pastel pink and blue balloons on the day of their actual birthdays - hence the polaroids. I saved some of the ribbon which we tied on to each balloon, and used it to make my February bunting. I also cut out little pink and blue card balloons, and made two for each page, to tie the pages together.
The next major event in February was of course my holiday to Disneyland Paris. I had the best time ever, and as well as including plenty of photographs that I took during the trip, I also stuck in my park ticket, some yummy chocolate coin wrappers, and a serviette that I saved from the trip. The little gold bow is some of the leftover ribbon that I used to wrap my siblings birthday presents with.

The end of February saw my long awaited trip to the Harry Potter Studio Tour, where a definite highlight for me was getting to meet the real life Hedwig. Once again I included photographs, my entry ticket and a post card as a memento of an amazing day. Every time I look back on my February pages I can't help but smile at how brilliant this month was.
Lastly, to finish off my pages, I once again attacked them with washi tape. This time I chose to use mainly gold stars and red polka dots to represent Minnie Mouse and Harry Potter. I am so pleased with my finished February pages, they truly represent what an eventful month it was. Arranging them was so much fun, and I'm still really enjoying having a little relaxing creative time every month. Only ten more fun-filled months to go before I have a finished year to look back on in scrapbook form.

Florida 2015: 170 Days To Go

15 March 2015

Inspired by Amy's Disney World countdown series, I thought that I'd share a post on how my trip planning is shaping up. For an OCD planner like myself, a Disney holiday is perfect - you get to book your meals (ADR's) 180 days in advance! As we're staying at the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal for the first few nights of our trip, our 180 day ADR date (for Disney) rolled around on Sunday 8th March.

What We've Done So Far:
  • Booked the holiday. On Tuesday 1st September, my sister and I will be flying out to Orlando for ten nights. The first three will be spent at the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal, and the last seven at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. The trip was booked as a package with Virgin, and we have tickets for Universal and Disney, as well as the Disney Dining Plan. So far we've paid our deposit and chipped away at the remainder, but we need to pay the full balance by early June.
  • Started our holiday diets. I'm trying to lose six stone in total, so far I'm on track.
  • Started the holiday shopping. I'm trying to hold off buying the bulk of my holiday clothes until I've lost more weight, but I couldn't resist stocking up on Disney and Harry Potter pyjamas from Topshop and Primark, and a bargain pair of Birkenstock's from TK Maxx.
  • Booked our ADR's. I had nightmares about doing this for weeks beforehand, but luckily I managed to secure everything we wanted.
What's Left To Do:
  • Pay the full balance of the holiday. This will be done on a monthly basis, and all paid off in plenty of time to get saving spending money.
  • Book our Fastpasses for Walt Disney World. This option isn't available until 60 days before our Disney check-in date, but I've already started planning our selections.
  • Purchase Memory Maker. This is a photo package that means we'll be able to download all of our ride/character photographs, as well as shots taken around the park. I'm hoping that we'll get some good ones!
  • Get saving. I want to take as much spending money with me as possible, so I'm having to be stricter than normal when it comes to my monthly budget.
  • Renew my travel insurance/update our ESTA location. These are the essentials. I have a pre-existing medical condition, so it's important for me to make sure I'm covered. Plus, I doubt that immigration at Orlando airport would be impressed if our ESTA's still had our Vegas hotel detailed on them!
  • Make room in my bedroom for a wand. No explanation required, I'll most definitely be paying Mr. Ollivander a visit.
Our ADR's:
Last Sunday as soon as 12pm hit I was dialling the Walt Disney World dining reservation number. I managed to get straight through, and secure every ADR I wanted with perfect times too. Here's what we have booked:

Day Four: Dinner at Planet Hollywood - 7.30pm.
Day Five: Breakfast at Tusker House - 8am, dinner at Rainforest Cafe - 4.30pm.
Day Six: Breakfast at Crystal Palace - 8.05am, lunch at Be Our Guest - 1.30pm.
Day Seven: Dinner at Ohana - 7pm.
Day Eight: Lunch at Sci-Fi Dine In Theatre - 1.35pm.
Day Nine: Breakfast at Cinderella's Royal Table - 8.05am, dinner at Beaches & Cream - 7pm.

The only thing that I have left to book is dinner at the House of Blues on our last night, but reservations for this don't open up until closer to the holiday. I am so happy with all of the reservations that we've secured, and can't believe how quickly the trip is creeping up on us. It'll be our fastpass day before we know it.

My Weight Loss Jars: 2 Stone Lost

11 March 2015

Last Friday was a big day for me. I managed to move all of the pink lb straws back in to my "To Lose" jar in exchange for another gold one, as I have now managed to lose two stone! So far I've only been eating healthily to lose weight, but I'm going to give myself an extra boost in March by taking up swimming too. I can't believe that the next time I move a gold straw over, I'll be half way to my six stone loss. 

Over the last two weeks or so I've started to notice that a lot of my clothes have become quite baggy, so it's definitely getting closer to time to refresh my wardrobe. I'm excited to treat myself to a big pre-Florida shopping spree once I (hopefully) reach my six stone target. At a party recently a family friend noticed that I'd lost some weight, and promised to take me shopping if I managed to hit my target, which I thought was incredibly sweet.

Losing two stone feels like a big achievement, and I'm really proud of myself for sticking with it so far. I've had little treats along the way, so hopefully this change is something that I'll be able to sustain in the future. I've got just under six months to go until Florida now, so hopefully all of the gold straws will be moved over by then.