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Thursday, 8 December 2016

Disney's Art of Animation Resort // Our trip to Walt Disney World, 2016

When it came to booking our accommodation for our Walt Disney World holiday, we only had one real 'must' and that was that it must be an onsite hotel. Still being fully immersed in the Disney experience when we head back to our room each night is just something that neither a villa or any other offsite accommodation could give us and to be honest, I really don't want to miss a second of that Disney magic!

With so many Disney hotels to choose from, we honestly had a tough time deciding where to stay but in the end we settled on the Art of Animation resort because, well look at it, you couldn't get any more Disney if you tried. It also suited our budget nicely!

Disney's Art of Animation resort pays homage to four well loved films; The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Cars and Finding Nemo. It's a wonderland for animation lovers complete with incredible theming, stunning rooms, amazing dining options and family friendly swimming pools. We really had the best time there and I am so happy that this was the Disney hotel we chose for our first time in Florida.... it really didn't let us down!

I wanted to share some of my personal highlights because we found it offered such excellent family friendly accommodation. I won't type up a proper review because there are so many well written ones out there already but instead here are five reasons we loved Disney's Art of Animation Resort!

Theming

The theming is really what makes this resort special. It's colourful, it's fun and from the moment you step foot into Art of Animation you are completely surrounded by the magic and artistry of Walt Disney and Disney Pixar movies. As a guest, you are shrunk down and completely immersed in four of the finest animated movies. I can't tell you how positively overwhelmed my child was being able to walk through the Lion King area each day. It is her absolute favourite movie at the moment and spotting these larger than life characters was incredible for her! 

The attention to detail is absolutely everywhere you look, from the beautifully designed bedrooms to the outdoor areas and from the resort lobby to the swimming pool. No detail has been left out, there is so much to explore and see that even after a few weeks we felt like we still hadn't seen it all! 

The food

You know, I love my food. And the restaurant at this resort really did not let me down. The Landscape of Flavors offers an absolutely huge and varied menu which changes depending on the time of day. The restaurant is in a food court/cafeteria style setting which we found really easy to navigate.

We loved the create your own options which included everything from pasta and salads to smoothies. It's your chance to get creative with food and oh my goodness, everything we tried was amazing. I must point out that so much of the menu is made fresh.... watching our pasta being made was such a good experience. Portion sizes are super generous. And dessert options are plentiful..... so. much. choice!

The fact that most of the food is made fresh in front of you combined with the food court style layout meant that queues consistently super long and were slow moving. This is my one and only negative of this resort. So my only tip if you are visiting is divide and conquer; split your group up, join the different queues to collect your food and meet up again before you pay! It'll make things a whole lot more speedy. 

PS, the pizza is amazing. You need to try it if you ever visit!

The pools and entertainment

Disney's Art of Animation resort boasts the largest resort pool in Walt Disney World. Not only this, there are three swimming pools to choose from along with a Finding Nemo themed Schoolyard Sprayground which is suitable for younger children. We loved the Little Mermaid pool which is complete with an underwater sound system conducted by Sebastian! I told you, no detail left out! We certainly had some quality pool time, which was always complete with yummy cocktails from the Drop Off Pool Bar which can be found just by the main pool. Perfection!

Entertainment options at the resort are abundant. From daily pool parties to drawing lessons and even getting the chance to watch Disney movies outside under the stars. We were never short of things to do when we were not in the parks! 

The bedroom

We stayed in a Little Mermaid room and even though this is the budget option at this resort, I have absolutely no regrets. Once again, it's the little details that made our stay really special. From the shell print carpet and shell shaped chairs to the picture of Prince Eric on the wall and my favourite, the bathroom which was Ariel's cave complete with all her gadgets and gizmo's printed on the tiles. So cute!

We enjoyed the walk each day to the main lobby (here is where you catch the buses to the parks). We had read a fair few reviews that the walk from Little Mermaid to the lobby was a long one but honestly, it is less than 10 minutes. And we have a 3 year old who loved stopping to look at all the Lion King bits on the way. 

The room was more than adequate for the three of us and we had a full dining plan with our holiday so didn't require the use of a kitchen area. We had a little fridge though which was great for keeping drinks in! The other themed rooms might be better though in terms of size and equipment if you have a larger family, do bear this in mind. 

Housekeeping (mousekeeping!) kept us entertained each day by rearranging kiddo's collection of soft toys, positioning them in a variety of funny poses. Another highlight here, the staff. All so friendly, welcoming and efficient! Nothing too much effort for them, just wonderful.   

Agh, I miss our little room and the walk to it from the bus so much! It's was all so cute and just so magical! 

Ink & Paint Shop

Finally, we seemed to spend a lot of time in the gift shop at the Art of Animation so I should probably mention it as a highlight! We found the shop really well stocked, pretty much everything that I wanted to buy in the parks could be found in here too. A lot of the stock is really well matched to the theming of the resort too, kiddo got a lot of Lion King stuff here. We also loved the resorts own range of merchandise which is super varied with something for everyone. 

We also made use of the shopping service where you could get goods purchased at other shops sent to the hotel.... there's a desk at the back of Ink & Paint where you can collect your shopping. A really efficient service, we loved it!

What can I say? I like buying stuff! And Ink & Paint certainly offers a wonderful shopping experience, other resort shops we experienced were not as colourful, interactive or as well stocked! 

What is your favourite Walt Disney World resort hotel? & have you ever visited Disney's Art of Animation Resort? Let me know in a comment below!










Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Minimal, traditional, cosy or trend follower - Which home decor personality type are you?

The decor we use in our home is such a personal decision. To one person, a room may look just how they want it with the perfect blend of function and style. They can't imagine anything better.
Then you might show that same room to another person, and they will think it's a complete disaster zone. What the first person calls quirky; they call a mess. What one thinks is clean lines and minimal; the other thinks is unpleasantly utility-like. There really is no pleasing everyone!  

Whilst we are all unique however, there are some things that unite us. Recognising your personal philosophy towards decor is can help you find your own style and stick to it, rather than adhering to what trends dictate you "should" like. So which one are you?

The trend follower


Is everything in your home currently in line with the principle of "hygge"? Was it like that before everyone started obsessing over hygge? If so, you get a pass. If not - well, you might be a Trend Follower.

There's nothing wrong with following trends; they help shape and define us. That's why it's an individual style; because you find yourself loving things that are presented to you as fresh and new. The appeal is unlikely to be just following a style because someone says you should - you like it because it's different.

Your home is... Up-to-date and innovative. Right now, that means lanterns, cosiness, and a few rustic touches. You're more likely to choose style over function with your furniture. You may even have occasionally removed something that you love, just because it signals last season to you. You're also more likely to be accommodating to discomfort; you'll use uncomfortable bar stools in the kitchen as they look good. The fact you slip off them occasionally is irrelevant!

The cosy seeker


You were hygge before hygge was a 'thing'. Your home is all about comfort. If it happens to fall into line with current trends, that's fine - but it's not a priority. You always want to have somewhere to sit and you want to be comfortable while doing it.

Your home is... Textured, with plenty of fabrics and warm, inviting colours. Some of your furniture might be a little hotch-potch, amassed as a collection of things you love rather than a whole matching set. You're more likely to have sofas that you can sink into, Tempur mattresses and more cushions than you know what to do with. Your wall art is chosen for how it makes you feel rather than how it looks.

The minimalist


It's all about the Cs for you: crisp, cool, clean. Everything has its place, and every piece of furniture has a function; nothing gets you excited like the words "hidden storage". Clutter is the enemy and must be banished. The only way you could be persuaded to cleave your style to trends is if the current trend already fits in with the things you like.

Your home is... Simplistic and monochrome. Fabrics are kept to a minimum, and geometric prints and art-deco styles about. You cherish your cable tidy with the love most of us reserve for our first born. Furniture tends to be higher than normal, so there is more free space beneath - which of course, you place nothing to fill. Where others seek a nook and cranny to be decorated, you see a beautiful space of nothingness. Ornaments are kept to a minimum; wall art is more statement individual pieces than lots of small objects.

The traditionalist with a twist


In some respects, your home is not that different than your parents home would have been. And your grandparents. You have all of the key pieces of furniture you need, though it doesn't need to match to make you happy. Storage is there but it's okay if things clutter outside of it.

Your home is... The same as it always has been, with a couple of twists. The differentiation between the decades, for you, is about finishing touches. Once upon a time, you had a lava lamp. Now you have a geometric light fitting. The base look remains the same, while you indulge changing fashions in terms of the interior design and decor.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Things I've loved this week // 025

A little Sunday round-up, some of the little things that I've been loving this week!

Feeling Festive

We have a bit of a tradition where we'll get out our decorations on the last day of November and this year was absolutely no exception. Christmas can't come too early in my book! We've spent the past few days writing our Christmas cards, opening advent calendars and putting up our Christmas tree. I'm feeling super festive and ready to enjoy some Christmas fun now!


Moana

I've been looking forwards to seeing Moana for such a long time and yesterday we popped along to the very first showing of the day as we couldn't wait any longer! We saw the sneak peek when we were in Walt Disney World at Hollywood Studios recently and from then we knew it would be something really special. I am absolutely in love with the exquisite soundtrack and the animation is truly mind blowing. I need to see it again asap!  


Avatar

We've not been to a gig in a few months now so I was super pleased this week to break that silence by having the most amazing night out seeing Avatar here in Sheffield. They were absolutely brilliant and played an absolutely perfect set. Their enthusiasm was incredible and the crowd was insane (in the best possible way, of course!). If you've not seen them live before then try and catch them next time they are here in the UK, you won't regret it! Promise!


New bedding

You might know that bedding is my weakness so when I spotted this gorgeous duvet set heavily discounted at Laura Ashley this week, well I just had to buy it! The duvet cover was reduced from something like £80 to £22 and the oxford pillowcases were only £9 each. Absolute bargain! And I am just obsessed with grey at the moment so I thought that this was a perfect find!


Frosty mornings

We've had some lovely morning walks this week. I love getting wrapped up warm and getting out there for a bit of fresh air. The frost certainly makes everything looks so pretty and isn't as disruptive as snow or ice can be. Perfect winter weather, I love it!


What have you been loving this week? Let me know in a comment below!

Friday, 2 December 2016

Home improvement, dodgy DIY jobs and asbestos // #HealthAndHome

We bought our first home five years ago and we were well aware at the time of purchase that it was very much a bit of a fixer upper! However, despite the survey coming back ok and all the improvements we wanted to undertake being mostly cosmetic, it soon became apparent that we had much more work to carry out on our new home than we had initially planned!

Once we got the keys and we began the task of making the house 'our home', we discovered countless shoddy and dangerous DIY jobs from the previous owners.... dodgy electrics that required an entire rewire of the house, a garden shed that was built on top of an existing pond (what the heck?!) and damp walls that had been very, very cleverly disguised.
Also, let's not forget the doors that don't actually even vaguely shut, a shower that leaks more down the back of the pipe than out of the actual shower head and an actual wall that fell down when we attempted to remove the wallpaper from it. Honestly if you don't laugh, you'll cry!


But let's see the positives too. We decided to stay here and see this project through because, well I actually love this little house. It's a lovely little Victorian terraced house that is just the right size for us. We've DIY'ed our way around it, fixing up what we can and we have no hesitations in calling in professional help when we need it. It's the house we brought our daughter into, something which I am quite sentimental about. So for this reason, we have decided that 2017 is going to be the year we start tackling the big stuff. A new bathroom, new doors and woodwork, sealing up the windows and once and for all, sorting out the damp issue.

As much as I love DIY, upcycling old furnutire and putting together flat pack furniture though, I certainly know my limitations. We will be calling in professional help for the big stuff. A job worth doing is worth doing right and there is so much to be considered, especially where safety is concerned. 

A recent bit of research has shown that a whopping 48% of people are unconcerned about risks to their health when undertaking DIY projects and for example, there are a high number of people who would happily drill into a wall in their home without thinking about the potential threat to their health.


One thing I've never considered until very recently is getting an asbestos survey done but it is most certainly now on our 'to do' list for the new year. 

Asbestos was a popular building material once upon a time and exposure to it can cause cause mesothelioma which is a form of cancer that develops in the lungs or abdomen. It's symptoms can take 20 to 50 years to show up and whilst asbestos is now banned because of its health risks, it can still be found in homes, buildings and even vintage furniture. An asbestos survey will be a one off expense and will certainly put our minds at rest!

I wanted to raise some awareness for this because apparently 61% of people do not know what mesothelioma is and many of us have probably never considered getting a simple asbestos survey carried out.

Slater and Gordon have recently put together this amazing infographic which is filled with all the facts you need to know along with some super DIY tips which will help you detect where those potential dangers are. Go on, have a read!

Slater and Gordon are leading mesothelioma lawyers and if you have ever been in contact with asbestos then simply pop over to their website to see how they can help you with compensation claims!


Have you ever had an asbestos survey at home? Or do you have any DIY stories to share (the funnier the better in my book!)? Let me know in a comment below!

* This is a sponsored post but all words are my own

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Our trip to Walt Disney World, 2016

If you know me, you'll know how much I love my Disney holidays. I'm a Disneyland Paris girl through and through, we love it that much we even honeymooned there. It's such a magical place and a place that holds so many amazing memories for us. A trip to Florida to visit Walt Disney World has always been on the cards for us however and so with the ever rising prices of a Disneyland Paris trip, we decided to bite the bullet this year and book a few weeks of solid Disney fun in the sunshine state!

I can't tell how how long we have waited for this trip. Months and months of planning and thinking about it every day. And even longer watching Youtube vlogs and reading through trip reports over on the DIBB forums. Let me tell you, Disney holiday planning is so much fun, so many things to research and of course, so many restaurant menus to read!

November arrived all of a sudden and our Walt Disney World holiday was finally here.

I can't tell you how emotional I have been about this holiday. Maybe it's taking our daughter who is so, so into Disney. She's just at that age now where she understands, she really gets it. The whole concept is so real to her, the characters are real and that magic in her eyes and her enthusiasm for it all, it's something I want to make the most of whilst shes little and just soak in every second. I don't believe that you can ever been too young or too old for Disney. It really is magic in absolutely every way!

Stepping into Magic Kingdom at Disney World for the first time was a feeling that I just can't describe. I've dreamt of it for so long and it truly didn't disappoint. I fell head over heels in love with Animal Kingdom. We met so many characters, experienced countless rides and shows, dined in so many amazing restaurants and thoroughly enjoyed all that beautiful Florida sunshine! Our time there seemed to go so unbelievably quickly yet we packed in so much during our time there. It was all so incredible.

I want to share some snippets of our time at Walt Disney World over the next few weeks. I have been debating how best to do this and I think what I'm going to do is share one post every week..... maybe every Thursday? I won't write a trip report because that would be insane but I'll probably be sharing some of my highlights (the hotel, our favourite bits, my tips for visiting with a young child, things like that!). So let me know if there's anything you'd like to see and I'll see what I can do!

For now though, here's a few photographs from our trip......










Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Two remarkable wooden home craft projects

Using natural wood in your homes is super popular at the moment. The problem is that it can also be pretty expensive. Wooden items are not cheap because they need to be sourced from sustainable supplies and harvested correctly. However, it is still possible to get that natural wood look, without breaking the bank, especially if you make your own item instead of buying them. Read on to see how!

(link)

Faux wood panelling

Wood paneling is a room is very chic. It can give off either a baronial castle-like feel or that great 1920's art deco look. But either way, it's a pretty costly way of decorating a room, especially compared to just painting or wallpapering it.

But some bright spark has come up with a way that you can do this for a lot less money. All it takes is some wooden coving, wooden planks, a measuring tape, a pencil and some gloss paint. Plus a few nail and screws.

First of all, measure the room that you want to install the faux panels in. Then divide it up using the tape measure and the pencil into different sections. The sections will be the size of the finished panels, so make sure that the are symmetrical.

Then install the coving. Once around the edge where the floor meets the wall. Like a skirting board. Then again at around head height. Then run the planks of wood vertically down the wall where you have divided it into panels and fix them to the wall.

Once you're done, simply paint the wood and the walls with a gloss paint to get that wood panel effect. This looks great in a hallway, and the gloss paint allows for wipes and scuffs to rubbed off it necessary!

You can also affix some cast iron coat hooks to the cover for extra storage space that is stylish too.

Christmas wooden sign

A super easy craft project for the holidays is to create a wooden Christmas sign. You can display this outside or inside and hang fairy light from it to give it a really festive look.

All you have to do it to take a length of wood and stencil on your Christmas message. You can use recycled or reclaimed wood or get some from places like George Hill building merchants.

(link)

Then pick a Christmas message, something like a line from hymn or carol is nice. What about Silent Night or Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer? If you don't want to draw the letters on freehand, then download a font guide from the internet. Print off the letters at the correct size and use them to guide you as you draw them on.

(link)

If you are feeling particularly arty, you can create a stencil too. A reindeer would be great if you are using the Rudolph song. Or what about a star for one of the hymns? Then take some wood paint and carefully paint in the letters. Once it's all finished and dry, you can rest against the wall or drill two holes in it and string with rope.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

What I bought at Bath & Body Works

Ok, i'm home from Florida. It was simply amazing in every possible way and I can't even begin to tell you how magical Disney World was with kiddo. I have so many photographs to sort through and ideas for blog posts, I don't actually know where to start. 

So let's start with a little haul. 

A Bath & Body Works haul to be precise!

Now, I didn't go crazy with shopping whilst we were away because I just don't do "buying stuff" anymore. And we didn't spend more than a day or two away from Disney so we didn't get to many non-Disney shops. But on one of our days off we made a special trip to Orlando International Premium Outlets with the sole intention of visiting Bath & Body Works.

There are quite a few brands in the USA that are not readily available to us folk in the UK and Bath & Body Works are one of them. I have seen so many bloggers rave about their products over the past couple of years so I couldn't wait to see what all the fuss about!

Lets get straight into it. Here's what I bought on my first trip to Bath & Body works....


First up, I bought six of the hand soaps. I didn't have any intention of buying anything other than candles when I visited but I spied these and fell for the gorgeous packaging and delicious sounding scents. I love a good hand soap and always like to have a stash of them at home so these were welcome additions to my basket! 

I went for the festive bottles because well; cute names, cute packaging, plenty of glitter and..... yep, incredible scents! These hand soaps are so gentle and foam up so well. Kiddo loves washing her hands with these and my goodness, they leave your hands feeling refreshed and smelling so good! Hands down one of the best hand soaps I've ever tried.... i'll definitely be getting more of these when I run out.     


Next up, I bought a few of the travel sized products. I love stocking up on smaller sized body lotions and shower gels ready for holidays and these are just perfect. They had an offer which was something like three travel sized products for $12.50 so I popped six of them into my basket.


The body lotions are wonderful. Once again, the scents are incredible and they sink into skin beautifully leaving it soft and not at all greasy. A little goes a long way with these and I very much doubt that these little products will make it to our next holiday as i'll be using them up immediately! 


Finally, candles. My weakness. I really, really wanted to go nuts with these but alas, I chose three. Yep, three. I no longer have a candle cupboard at home and so i'd have nowhere to store them. Thoroughly regretting this decision now but hey, I can't do anything about it now haha!

I went thoroughly festive with my choices; "Winter", "Twisted Peppermint" and "Winter Rose". I'm not a fan of sweet scents, especially when it comes to Christmas so these are just perfect for me. Crisp, fresh and absolutely delicious. The pine needles and clementine in the Winter candle are so sharp and spot on yet satisfyingly cosy. Perfection. Also, I like the 3 wick design..... they burn so cleanly! 

The silver lids are also gorgeous, they look super neat when they are not being used. And I guess the flat lids mean they can be stacked too.... unlike Yankee Candles. Room to store more, eh?! 


Ahh, Winter Rose. I can't resist a rose scent and this one is just gorgeous, i'm yet to burn this one but if the other two are anything to go by then it will be perfection! 


Are you a fan of Bath & Body Works? What are your favourite products and scents? Let me know in a comment below!