A fair few months ago I discovered Sass & Belle when watching someone's Youtube video.. and ever since I've been lusting after some of their items on there. The great thing is a lot of it is affordable yet cute at the same time.. perfect for me! I know this shabby chic style isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I personally love it. I find it very feminine and elegant. If you prefer something a little less girly, there are other styles on Sass & Belle which I'm sure you'll love!
Here are just some of the things I have on my wishlist..
It's no surprise that I love travelling. I've been lucky enough to visit quite a few places in my time, such as The Maldives, Las Vegas, Florida, California, Italy, Paris, just to name a few.
Every country that I've visited (albeit one *cough* Turkey *cough*) I've loved, all for different reasons. However there's one that will forever have a special place in my heart, and this is Florida, more specifically Orlando.
I was spoilt as a child (yes, I hold my hands up!) and got to visit Orlando on many occasions. However once I hit 13, there was a massive 15 year gap where I didn't get the opportunity to go. So although my memories of Florida were still there, they were slowly fading over time. In 2013, age 28 I managed to go again, this time with my boyfriend in tow as well as other family members. I was a little apprehensive of this holiday, purely because I was nervous that my fond nostalgic memories of the place would be replaced by a more 'mature' outlook. I was also scared that so much would have changed that I'd feel my memories were no longer 'valid' almost...
I did heaps of research in the run up to the holiday, planning itineraries (sorry, but it's a must if you're heading to Orlando!), places to eat and shows to watch, in order to get the best experience possible.
Our holiday arrived and although a lot of my memories were vague, there were still some 'trigger' moments that took me right back to my childhood once I discovered certain things.
Upon my return to the UK and reflecting over my holiday through photos and video footage, it made me realize just how much we managed to do and see in 2 weeks. I loved the massive variety of Orlando as well as it's laid back atmosphere, and that's why this is my No1 favourite city in the world.
The food is out of this world.. every cuisine you can think of, you will find, somewhere in Orlando. People automatically assume Florida/Orlando is full of junk food - Wendy's, McDonalds, Taco Bell, Dunkin' Donuts etc. Of course it is! But there is so much more too! The famous Bubba Gumps for seafood, The famous Cheesecake Factory, 'Be Our Guest' for exquisite dining...
Not only is the food good, but don't forget you're in America, so everything is larger than life.. so definitely go on an empty stomach!
Not only is the food fantastic, but the dining experience no matter where you go is just as special. Every dining experience feels unique - you might get given a small game to play with whilst you wait, there maybe some fun 'rules' that you have to abide by during your visit (i.e. no elbows on the tables, eat with your mouth full etc.. yes, I'm looking at you 50's Prime Time Café!). Your surroundings maybe different from the average table... you may find yourself sitting in a makeshift car whilst you eat your dinner and watch a movie! Or you may just be surrounded by wonderful interactive décor/scenery/fish tanks/memorabilia... the list goes on. They definitely know how to make dining out an experience in Orlando. The only sad thing about dining out is how spoilt for choice you are, knowing that you can't possibly visit all these in a typical 2-week stay! Oh well... more excuse to visit again!
The Diversity of Orlando
People instantly assume Orlando is purely for thrill seekers or princesses that want to spend their days in the theme parks. Lets be honest, if you've ever visited Orlando, you'll know that the theme parks are some of the best in the world, but that's for section 3! If you hire a car in Orlando, (which many visitors do), the city is your oyster, so please embark of an adventure. There are SO many little laid back quirky sleepy villages that bring you right back to traditional America. These parts remind me of when I used to visit in the early 90's, and fortunately for me, a lot of things hadn't changed. You'll walk across the odd newspaper stand on the sidewalk that is asking for 20cents for a paper. Its then left to your devices to be honest and only take what you've paid for - there's no one there to monitor it. I think this reflects the beauty of the villages - the trust, respect and honesty of the residents. I love how laid back everything and everyone appears as opposed to central Orlando. How no one seems to care what you're wearing, or if you've done your hair or make-up that day. They seem to mind their own business, but are also friendly in the process. The lack of hustle and bustle, traffic, pollution and general noise seem to give a sense of security and peace. I love the little fishing villages with boardwalks that are lined with little quirky ice-cream parlours, shops and restaurants, almost vintage looking, knowing that this place holds a lot of history is also nice. Knowing that usually we are predominately surrounded by contemporary décor and cosmopolitan cities, with everyone comparing, judging and running to get the latest gadget, these types of villages definitely are a breath of fresh air. We drove and found this hidden rundown kayaking shack - of course we hired a kayak out for a few hours and glided across a lake... not a soul in sight except my dad, boyfriend and I. The water was so still, the sun was so hot. It was bliss. I loved the spontaneity of it all, not knowing what was round the corner (quite literally sometimes as well!).
How could I mention Orlando without mentioning the theme parks.. it's just not gonna' happen! Honestly, I don't care if you're not a Disney fan, a princess wannabe, a thrill seeker or a pessimist that refuses to fall into Walt Disney's trap of 'Dream's really do come true!'. Just visit one park and I can assure you by the time you leave your opinions on the parks would have changed. There really is something for everyone.. even if its just to see your child's face light up in awe at the magic that surrounds them, its worth it. I have visited a handful of times now, the last being almost 2 years ago (still with no children) and as an adult, I was in awe. Firstly, the thing that made the biggest impact was the effort they put into these parks. The designers (whoever you may be!) are pure geniuses. Everything you can think of, they have done. There is so much order to the point where everything ran so smoothly in every Disney park I went to, that it made a huge difference. All staff were so organized, trained extremely well, interacted so perfectly with the children (we had our 2 year old niece with us and each character made her feel so special, one even rubbing 'pixie dust' onto her arms!). The detail in everything was out of this world. The flower beds were preened in the shapes of characters, there were gold Minnie mouse statues on the bins (of all things!), queuing up for rides was entertaining in itself, with things to look at, games to play, TV's to watch. The rides themselves are something I just can't put into words. The stunt shows are something I'm definitely happy we made room for in our day, again, the detail that was put into these were amazing. The night entertainment, both in and out of the theme parks were just perfect. I think I saw 3 firework displays during my 2 weeks stay, each of them completely different but left me in disbelief at the prettiness of them.. definitely no 5 minutes of fireworks then over like it is in England on Bonfire Night! Part of the 'Wishes' firework display in Disneyworld actually consisted of a glowing tinkerbell zip-wiring across the crowd - something only Disney could think of! I also remember our time in Hollywood Studios were the rain failed to hold off - Monster's University band was playing some music, and everyone continued having a good time, dancing and splashing about in the rain like nothing mattered..
So, there are my 3 main reasons why I love Orlando so much.
This is my entry to @Accorhotels competition in which they are holding. There is a fantastic prize, as well as 2 runner up prizes (and something that's on this year's birthday wishlist!). But hurry if you decide to enter, it closes midday on Monday 26th January!
With it being a new year, this month's birchbox was based on health, fitness and wellbeing.
Kick starting your body and mind and getting it back to a healthy state after a few weeks of indulging!
HealGel (RRP £39.50). This lotion is packed with anti-inflammatory ingredients to calm and regenerate skin. Its the type of gel I'd probably take on holiday with me... I've got a lot of moisturisers piling up that claim to do a similar thing, so this product didn't excite me too much.
Caudalie VinoPerfect Radiance Serum (RRP £45) - I've tried one (possibly 2) Caudalie products before and I've loved them - especially the SOS serum (in fact I'm debating purchasing that if I can justify spending that amount of money on skincare!). I've already tried this a few times but it unfortunately hasn't blown me away yet.
Philip Kingsley Body Building Condition (RRP £19) - I've yet to try this, but I'm probably going to save it for a night away somewhere as my hair annoyingly needs washing almost every day now. This conditioner claims to transform lifeless locks and seal flyaways.
Activbod Shower Concentrate - I knew from the packaging that this was going to be a cheapie, it RRPs at a mere £5 so I wasn't overwhelmed with this item, although I guess its not always about the price! But from a subscription box I expect a little more than a £5 product. This shower gel has sea minerals and green tea mixed with almond oil, which sounds.. different!
Stila Lip Glaze (RRP £15). Honestly? I'm not a fan of lip glosses and haven't been for a few years. I find them sticky, stringy and just uncomfortable on the lips. Although I love the sheen this gives to the lips, it still ticks all the boxes I have just mentioned. I've been using this most days, just to get rid I think...
Pilates Band (RRP £7.99) - I need to look up some tutorials on how to use this because this confuses me no end!
Embrace Matcha green tea (RRP - £24.99) - I'm not green tea drinker, or herbal or flavoured tea drinker for that matter, however I've finally found a few work colleagues who appreciate these kind of tea's, so I'll be popping this in their stash, along with a load of others I've already given them!
All in all, this box didn't blow me away. I think now I've been receiving beauty boxes for almost 4 years I feel the novelty has kinda worn off a little. However I think I would miss it if I unsubscribed because I do look forward to knowing I've got my birchbox coming, even though I'm always a little deflated upon opening... I may have a go at switching my subscription around to something else that I still enjoy.. like a crafts subscription! If anyone knows of any, please do tell!
Although I'm a lover of all things nails, I don't often tend to wear false nails. However just before Christmas I was lucky enough to win 2 packs of Lily Allen 'Sheezus' nails. Although I've tried Elegant Touch nails before, I can't say I'd choose this design myself, however being one not to waste anything, I thought I'd give them a whirl..
I wasn't a fan of the claw look.. I felt a bit like a witch! And I definitely wouldn't have been able to do my everyday tasks so I trimmed them down to a more practical size for me..
The nails last me a week before I took them off, which I think is pretty good going! I got lots of compliments from my friends too. The design eventually grew on me too!
I've had several packs of Elegant Touch nails over the years and I've always been happy with the results.
Sorry this is a little late going up - everything got a bit busy with Christmas (which already seems like a lifetime ago!)
I'm going to start by saying how I love special little touches to things, which highlights how easily pleased I am at times.. but not only did the inside font colour change from green to red this month, but the box came with a festive sticker too.. the small things...
Lets take a closer look...
The Premium GlowWorm drinks I'd never heard of before - they were meant to be mixers for any alcoholic drinks one may consume over Christmas, but with me not being a bit drinker, and especially not in the home, I knew these wouldn't get used. I actually drank these alone, without any alcohol, and they were pretty tasty! There were 4 different flavours, each designed to mix with certain alcohol. I think I mixed a couple with some Robinson's juice that I had and it gave a pretty tasty drink!
The Bahlsen caramel and milk chocolate biscuits went down a treat - give me anything chocolatey (besides dark!) and I'll be a happy girl.. I wouldn't hesitate buying these in my weekly shop. Oats/Chia - This pack came with a packet of oats with berries, and the idea is to sprinkle the chia seeds over the top. Unfortunately I was trying to be clever one day and guess the amount of water required, instead of measuring. I guessed wrong and the oats were reluctant to soak up the water, so I had to throw it out. Eisberg Alcohol Free wine - I completely forgot I had this at Christmas, otherwise I probably would have opened it. It's still sat chilling in my fridge so I'm intrigued to know what this tastes like... Barbecue Pop chips - These didn't see the light of day. So yummy and moreish! They were like mini poppadoms, but thicker and flavoured, and a lot more healthier! (although probably not if you have the whole bag to yourself!). Perfect for sharing in the cinema! Bonne Maman orange marmalade - Unfortunately I'm not a marmalade fan. Is it wrong that I got more excited over the packaging of this than the actual product?! (I love the vintage style lid!)
Pukka clean green tea - These are some healthy tea herbs which everyone seems to be jumping on the band wagon for, but they just don't float my boat. I've tried all types of tea and dislike pretty much all of them except typical English tea. I might bring these to work with me and let people help themselves to them in the staff kitchen. Kents Kitchen Brazilian Moqueca Capixaba - I got excited about this because I received another of their products a few months prior and really liked it, however my boyfriend went to use this a few days ago and realized it was in fact for a fish dish, which we don't cook often, and if we do its usually fresh fish by itself with salad/potatoes, not mixed in with sauce and herbs, so I'm not really sure if this will ever get used. Fry Light Chilli Oil - This is right up my street. I love experimenting with flavours, and although its a fairly hard flavor to cook with (depending on the dish), I'm still excited to try this. I've just purchased the normal Fry Light, so this will make a nice change every now and then.
Do you receive Degustabox? If you want to treat yourself this year and subscribe to this monthly food subscription then head over to their website now!
I love starting a new year because with it comes new adventures and celebrations, and as we all know, I love a good adventure, whether it be a small day out, or a huge holiday. I also love to fill my diary up with celebrations, whether they are for myself or others.
I write this post because 2015 is a big (ish) year for both myself and a lot of my friends. It's the year we all turn 30. I'm glad to say I don't feel 30, I'm proud to say (and I know everyone would vouch for me) that I don't look 30 either, which goes in my favour. Sometimes I also feel like I don't think like a 30 year old. That's not to say I'm immature, but at times I worry too much (usually about what others think of me) and need someone to say 'Kate, get a grip, you're almost 30 years old!'.
Turning 30, although doesn't feel a big deal, when I think about it, hard, it is kind of a big deal, knowing that you've travelled at least a quarter of your way through life. What's even more scarier for me than my friends is I've yet to start a family. Maybe this will be the year, who knows?
This will also be the year that I get fit... fit for 30 I'm calling it! Minus 1 lb and I'm the biggest I've ever been. Although I'm not enormous, I'm bigger than I should be for my height, and I've got to the stage where I just feel ugly in everything I wear. Everything. Before I used to be able to put certain dresses off and pull it off, feeling half adequate, but now what little bit of attractiveness I thought I had has been sucked out. You know how we all have our lazy PJ days, hair scraped up, no make-up, feeling totally ugly. I feel like that every day, fully dressed with a face full of make up. However this is where the battle begins - when it concerns dieting, my willpower is zilch. Complete and utter zilch. I'm a yo yo dieter, and have tried every diet under the sun, to only quit days, sometimes weeks later, because 'that cake' looked a little too good to leave alone. However, now I'm developing health problems.. relating to my weight or not I don't know, but something needs to be done. If I aim to start a family, something definitely needs to be done before I get to that stage, because it'll only get worse. Therefore this week I am starting Slimming World with my friend. I've done SW before but always by myself, so hopefully going with someone will give me the willpower I need.
Another huge thing that is happening this year is our holiday to Florida. Just me and Mike. SO excited! Its one of those holidays that needs months of planning because you want to make it as perfect as possible because it's not somewhere that you can visit every year (unless you were on bloody good money!). Florida holds a nostalgic place in my heart and I'm determined to make this the best one yet. This will be the last 'big' holiday we have before starting a family so I'm going to make it a good one! Also hopefully this holiday will spur my weight loss on - I want to make it to the water parks this year!
I'm sure there will be lots of smaller events that crop up throughout the year too, like my Grandad's 90th birthday which we're hiring a function room out for, and my friends 30th's. And all the little bits in between!
I've decided to scrap resolutions this year. I've got some firmly set in my mind, but they'll never meet the paper, simply because I'd feel pretty deflated by the end of the year had I not many any.
Instead I'm going to blog about my highlights of 2014. After reflecting over the year I soon realized that apart from the weekends away and holidays, the bits in between were pretty... boring. I didn't have any main events that I went to, no weddings, no special birthdays, no job changes or mid-life crisis'... so because I love travel that much, I thought why not just highlight all of the lovely places I managed to visit in 2014.
March - York
In March we went for our first day trip of the year to York. This was my first ever visit there and it reminded me a lot of Lincoln how it was a mixture of modern high streets and historic cobbled passageways. The shops were pretty and we had one of the most gorgeous afternoon tea's in The Grand Cedar Court Hotel.
May - Paris/Disneyland
In May we jetted off to Paris to celebrate my 29th Birthday. In the 3 days we were there we managed to spend a day in Disneyland and also another day sightseeing in central Paris. The weather stayed glorious for us which was a bonus! I'd love to revisit sometime to spend a little more time in central Paris seeing the sights. Next time... next time!
August - Manchester
In August we went to see Ant n Dec live on their Saturday Night Takeaway Tour in Manchester. This was part of my Christmas present from the previous year. We spent 3 nights there - I was lucky enough to win a competition earlier on in the year which meant I could extend our stay. I love Manchester. We often visit there and it almost feels like a second home now.
September - Tenerife
Late September I grabbed a last minute deal (although still to this day I don't think it was much of a 'deal' considering how late I booked it!). I don't often go away this late in the year, but it was lovely to get some last minute sun before the year was out. We stayed in Playa De La Cruz, which I didn't realize till I got there that it was a rather quiet area of Tenerife. It suited us fine though because we wanted that laid back, relaxing style of holiday, something we don't often
get when we go away!
October - Alton Towers Scarefest
I've always wanted to experience Alton Towers at Halloween, and we finally went this year. It was a bit of a disaster to say the least, we got to ride very few rides (5 in total in the 10hrs we were there!), ate our lunch in the rain, the whole time interval slots they had introduced for the Halloween mazes were a complete waste of time, the weather was horrible all day... need I go on? I complained and got cheap tickets for this year with a few extras thrown in, so all was not lost. Hopefully this year's experience will be better!
November - Liverpool
November took us to Liverpool for a part of Mike's present that I had got him for his birthday - to see wrestling live. We stayed 2 nights and enjoyed another afternoon tea, shopping for Christmas presents and eating!
Safe to say I've had a nice handful of weekends away in 2014. This year see's a big 'un - Florida! *squeels* so I'm not expecting regular getaways as we'll be saving for that instead. I am going to try make them up with days out instead.
I love seeing what people received for Christmas both on Youtube and here, so I thought this year I'd create my own since I don't often film any more.
I'm not going to list each individual item that I got because I'd be here all day, so instead I'll let the photo's do the talking...
The blue 'house' on the left has little drawers that you can open.. I'm still deciding on what to put in these yet (probably jewellery) but it's sitting nicely on my desk :-)
The cute little trinket box next to it was from my little brother and he filled it with 4 yankee candles. I like it cos it's got a 'secret' compartment. I think I'm gonna store my dollars in here ready for Florida!
I think this is my most favourite section.. a bowl full of Lush products (that I selected a few days before Christmas so I knew I was getting this). Some new Armani Diamonds perfume (I had this a few years ago so it brings back memories!) and some rotating hair curlers (and straighteners!) in one, which I'm still trying to get to grips with as I'm not a hair person at all!
I really love candles, and I'm quite satisfied if I receive these as presents. Although the boxed yankee candles are for the festive season, luckily a lot of the scents you could get away with burning all year round, which is good. This is also my first ever Yankee Candle jar I've had! I begrudge paying yankee prices usually, so only normally go for sample sizes, however my mum treat us to this as part of our present.
One of my main presents from Mike was this bunch of dollars that he got me, and thoughtfully placed in a shabby chic frame which I'll definitely get use out of too. There's about 3 days worth of spending money there so that will help a lot towards my savings.
I received a bunch of vouchers as well, I seem to be collecting a nice pile of Dunelm Mill vouchers which I'm looking forward to spending nearer Springtime when they get some new stock in.
I got a few pairs of nice fluffy socks, as well as some knee high socks (although I think I'll just wear these as normal socks!) A nice coin purse as well, something I often use when I'm swapping from my work bag to weekend bag!
Last but not least, Christmas isn't Christmas without some chocolate! I'm embarrassed to say that most of these have gone now as well. I of course shared them with Mike though! My ultimate fave are Ferrero Rocher, which Mike always buys me on pretty much every occasion.
I got well and truly spoilt, especially by Mike this year and I'm so grateful for everything I received.