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Thursday, 23 February 2017

My top 5 table service meals // Our trip to Walt Disney World, 2016

Me and food. Food and I. As one of those people who is always thinking about the next meal, I couldn't not share a blog post containing some of the meals we had during our trip to Walt Disney World in 2016! 

The food at Walt Disney World and the amount of dining experiences available is quite simply incredible. We had the Dining Plan which gave us a quick service meal, a table service meal and snacks for each night of our stay. We found this plan was just right for us as we are a family who are really quite into eating out and this plan gave us the flexibility that we desired for our stay. 

We ate at a huge variety of places including everywhere from the Landscape of Flavors at our resort to Cinderella's Royal Table which is situated right inside Cinderella's Castle in Magic Kingdom. Each restaurant offered something different and unique. Honestly, we really loved the whole dining experience at Walt Disney World! 

Here's a list of five of my favourite meals from our trip. I've listed these particular ones not just because of food quality but the whole experience as a family with a young child too, whether that included Disney characters or unique theme! 

OK, Let' do this! 

Jungle Skipper Canteen

Location: Adventureland, Magic Kingdom

We made a booking for this restaurant as a last minute thing when we decided to spend another day in Magic Kingdom and I am so glad that we did this! It was one of my favourite meals of the entire trip. I loved this restaurant so much, from the beautiful interior to the exotic menu that explores the different cuisines of Asia, South America and Africa. 

The children's menu was super too, kiddo is usually quite reserved when it comes to new food so I was thrilled she tried some new tastes here. She was rewarded afterwards with a dessert of Monkey Bites complete with candied chocolate sunflower seeds and chocolate dipped banana bites. Yum!




Yak & Yeti

Location: Asia, Animal Kingdom

A beautiful Nepalese-style restaurant complete with a varied pan-Asian inspired menu. We just loved everything about Yak & Yeti, it was one of the meals I was most looking forwards to and it really didn't let me down! An impressive varied menu, brilliant choices for children and an amazing drinks selection. Perfect. 

We sat upstairs which had a great view down to the busy restaurant below. We dined here early evening as it was going dark and it was just all so magical. I'll definitely be making a booking here again next time.... we loved it!





1900 park fare: Cinderella's Happily Ever After Dinner

Location: Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

We dined here in the evening and oh my goodness, it was so wonderful. 1900 Park Fare is a character buffet on another level. It is housed inside the Grand Floridian resort which is super beautiful, I really want to stay here one day! The characters you'll meet here are all from Cinderella and here was where we met our only prince on our trip, Prince Charming. After waltzing around the restaurant with Cinderella, he turned and picked Miss E for a dance out of the entire restaurant.... such a precious moment! It made her day! 

The food here was super, the selections are representative of the different "kingdoms" all over the world and we loved the fact that there was a lower level children's buffet too complete with all of kiddo's favourite foods. It was ace!





Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

Location: Norway, Epcot

Our favourite of the character meals, we preferred meeting the princesses much more here than at Cinderella's Royal Table. The thing we loved was they really took their time at all of the tables but at the same time, we never had to wait long to meet anyone. There seemed to be a constant stream of princesses doing their rounds and we had the pleasure of meeting Snow White, Belle, Ariel, Cinderella and Aurora. 

Food wise, the lunch and dinner menus are Norwegian inspired and your meal begins with a 'Taste of Norway' buffet featuring imported cheeses, Scandinavian seafood and a vast selection of delicious fresh food. For your main course, you can pick from a selection of entrees and then to finish you are presented with a selection of Norwegian inspired desserts. All of which were so delicious!





Be Our Guest

Location: Fantasyland, Magic Kingdom

Finally, Be Our Guest! We ate here for lunch and dinner and oh my goodness, the quick service lunch was good but the sit-down dinner was quite simply amazing! Stepping inside Beasts castle was an incredible experience and seeing him stride through the restaurant as he returned from 'checking on the kitchens' was magical. The restaurant itself is beyond stunning, no detail has been left out and here, you really do feel like you are literally stepping into the movie! 

Meeting Beast at the end of the meal was a real highlight for me, Beauty and the Beast is my favourite Disney move so you can imagine my excitement!

The food was super lovely too. I had the grilled strip steak with garlic herb butter and pommes frites.... possibly the best steak I have ever had I dare say! I loved the fact that desserts were delivered on a trolley too.... we all tried "the grey stuff" and yes, it was delicious!






We're starting to think about dining for our next trip so if you have any restaurant recommendations then please let me know in a comment below! 

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Organising a sports day that kids of all ages will love

Whether you’re on the PTA at your children’s school and have been put in charge of organising sports day or are thinking of throwing your own sports event for kids in your area, then you are probably in need of a little inspiration. So, to help you plan the most amazing event that will be enjoyed by the kids and adults alike, here are some ideas that you could consider implementing!


Combine traditional races with new activities

As well as the traditional egg and spoon race, sack race, relay race, and running race, get creative and come up with some other activities to incorporate into your event. Sports days are all about the races, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t incorporate new activities into them. Things like hula hooping competitions, athletics events, such as shot put, long jump, and hurdles, dress-up races where the kids have to put one a funny outfit before racing, and plank races where the whole team has to walk as one on two long planks, are all great ways to put a new twist on sports day.

Get the parents involved


A great way to make your sports day event more enjoyable for everyone in attendance is to to find ways to get the parents involved. Don’t just have a couple of races at the end for the parents, incorporate them into races throughout the event. Perhaps every other race could involve parents so that everyone has the opportunity to get involved and have a good time? The best events to allow parents to join in are wheelbarrow races, piggyback races, and relay races - as long as each team has the same ratio of adults to children, along with other events, such as plank racing, for instance.

Have prizes

Don’t make the mistake of having no winners, like some kid’s sports events do. It’s important for kids to experience both winning and losing, which is why having prizes like trophies and medals to give our to the winners is a good idea. When a child wins a race, they deserve to get recognition for it, which is why having prizes is important. It doesn’t matter whether you buy proper trophies and medals or whether you pick up some kid’s ones, just as long as you’ve got something to award the winners with.

Make it more than a sports event


Why not make your sports day more than just a sports day and make it more of a community event by having food, music, and other activities going on? Perhaps you could even continue the event after the races, and sports activities have finished and make a day of it? Whether it’s a school sports day or a community event, continuing it into the evening could work well. Perhaps you could arrange a BBQ or a buffet, music, and other activities to keep the kids occupied?

Lighten the cost of living!


Living in shared flats and houses with some good friends can be a blast, but nothing beats having a home that you can truly call “yours”. While settling down somewhere and raising a family is a wonderful experience, you may be discovering that it isn’t the most affordable thing in the world! Fortunately, there are many easy ways you can shave the cost of living with minimal hassle…

Home energy

There's no denying that energy costs are massive these days so try and find some ways of making your home more economical in terms of energy consumption. Simple changes like weather-stripping, caulking your doors and sealing your windows can make a huge difference to your heating bill. Or if you have a HVAC system that is getting on in its years, it may be worth investing in a new, more economical one from a firm like Academy Air. These can be pricey up-front, but it will pay off massively in the long run. Smart thermostats are another great way to make sure you’re not using too much heat!

Food and groceries


Most of us spend thousands every year on groceries and they aren’t exactly something that you can cut out altogether either! We need to eat, so cutting down the amount you pay for something so essential can be hard to wrap your head around. However, if you can bear a few little changes here and there, it can make all the difference. 

A lot of us can save a small fortune simply by doing our shop less frequently. If you’re in the supermarket every other night before dinner, it can be easy to impulse-buy and make hasty, uneconomical decisions. By cutting it down to once a week or even less, you’ll get into the habit of planning out meals, and making what you have go further. Having a shopping list and sticking to it or experimenting with cheaper brands than you’re used to can also make a massive difference to the amount you spend on groceries. Make small changes in a lot of places, and soon you’ll see a huge improvement!

Taxes

Taxes have got to be up there with the most boring things to think about in the world. Naturally, this means that a lot of people put off looking at their taxes until the deadlines are on the horizon. Still, this is one more living expense that you can trim down in order to give yourself a little more financial flexibility. Using a tax-free ISA allowance, transferring your investments to a partner who pays less tax, and using your personal savings allowance, can all be great ways to reduce the amount of tax you have to pay. If you’re self-employed, there are even more opportunities to penny-pinch. You can read more options at Which

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Feeling the pinch? Money-saving strategies that work

Most people would love to spend less and save more. The cost of living is rising year on year, and if you haven’t had a pay rise for a long time or your family has expanded, you may be feeling the pinch. It can be tricky to balance the books, but hopefully, these money-saving strategies will help! 


Reducing your energy bills

How much do you spend every month on gas and electricity? If the answer is too much, there are a few ways you could bring your bills down. The first thing to do is shop around. Have you been with the same provider for as long as you can remember? If so, you may not be getting the best deal. Most companies save the best offers for new customers to lure them away from competitors. You can use online comparison sites to get some ideas and make some calls. You can also use this tactic to save on insurance costs, TV and broadband packages and mobile phone bills.

You can also cut your bills by saving energy. How often do you walk into an empty room to find the lights or the TV on? How often do you spend an extra 10 minutes in the shower or fill the bath too full? There are loads of simple ways you can use less energy by paying more attention to your energy usage on a daily basis. Fitting a smart meter is a good place to start. It’s also wise to make your home more energy-efficient. Swap old halogen bulbs for high quality LED spotlights, and replace broken or old-fashioned appliances with smart technology. 

If you spend a fortune on heating, look into insulating the loft or take a trip to the hardware store and buy some sealant for cracks in door and window frames. If you don’t have double glazing, you can buy affordable secondary glazing sheets that can be fitted in five minutes. They’re not as robust as effective as double glazing, but they’re a lot cheaper, and you should notice a difference.

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Saving on groceries

If you have a family, you probably spend a lot of money on food shopping every week. Growing kids have big appetites. Shopping online can save you money, especially if you tend to end up with a trolley full of extra items you don’t need every time. You can also save by using vouchers and pick up bargains at the end of the day. If you plan a menu in advance, you can save on feeding the family by batch cooking.

Cutting commuting costs

Do you spend a lot of money on a train or bus pass or do you feel like you’re constantly filling the car up? If so, why not explore options like cycling to work, sharing lifts with colleagues or working one day a week from home?


If you’re feeling the pinch, try these money-saving measures. Hopefully, you’ll have a little extra cash to put away for in a rainy day fund each month!

Easy house makeover in a weekend

There is no such thing as simple home improvements. Home improvements are by definition time and cost demanding, or at least that’s what many people think. Believe it or not, but you can improve your house without breaking the bank - however, this concerns only light home improvements as opposed to structural renovations and house extensions. Nevertheless, you can change the feeling of a room in a weekend only and even with a tight budget. 

Whether you are getting tired of the same old kitchen, or you living room is giving your headaches, there are ways to transform the room for the best and fall in love again with your home, sweet home. Have a look at the 5 most common room makeovers on a budget, that you can do in your house in a couple of days. Long live the DIY power and good luck with your home improvement works!

Get a bathroom makeover

Your bathroom is an important part of your house, as it is one of the busiest room. Every day the family queues to get ready for work or for school, and every evening everyone has their own bedtime rituals in the bathroom, from brushing their teeth to enjoying a relaxing bath. As a result, your bathroom will rapidly begin to look a little tired. Thankfully, there are easy bathroom upgrades that can give it a new youth without starting long-term renovation projects. Adding a mirror will, for example, bring new depth to the bathroom. Changing the tile grout can also make it look instantly brighter and cleaner, and it will take you only a few hours to do. If you are up for a challenge, you could add a fresh coat of paint to revive the bathroom; remember that bright colours will give it a new vitality while darker colour schemes might make it look small and close.


Give your bedroom a makeover

If your bedroom needs a little change, sometimes a little decor transformation can go a long way without needing to change the bed or to buy a new wardrobe. Creating a homely feeling in your bedroom needs no more than the right decorative objects for a start. Candles and light shades are the perfect allies in creating a new ambiance in a room. If you love fresh flowers, don’t hesitate to add a handsome vase with freshly cut white flowers, as these tend to create a peaceful and harmonious atmosphere. Not enough? Turn back to the lessons of Feng Shui to add a touch of soft colour to your walls that will help you sleep like a baby all night long!

Bring the living room back to life

It is easy to ignore the decor of your living room when the TV is on and the lights are switched off. However, this is the room that is at the heart of your home, from being the place where you welcome your guests to the nest where you spend quiet evenings together. So take a step back and look at the room as a blank canvas again. Think about the feeling that you want your living room to evoke before you can begin the makeover journey. If you want something open and minimalist, do strip the walls of bright colours to focus on neutral tones. If you want something sophisticated but simple, choose a colour scheme and use it on your walls and on your furniture, with throws and cushions - there is no need to change furniture! In short, be playful with your desires!


New kitchen

Nothing looks more depressing than an outdated and tired kitchen! But before you consider renovating your kitchen, there are a few tips to make it look modern and fresh again. If your kitchen cabinets are beginning to look grey instead of white, painting them is the easiest way to create a new look. If you prefer to change the design, you could consider adding colour with a feature wall using a wallpaper specifically designed for the kitchen. This will give you a new kitchen in an afternoon’s work!

Love your green garden 

Gardens can easily get forgotten in the great makeover scheme. Don’t overlook your garden: This is the first impression that your neighbours get of your family. So make it a good one by looking after your garden. One of the easiest way to transform your garden is to cut the lawn into a shape, like a circle for example. If you are looking for something more significant, planting a fruit tree in your garden can add the little homely touch that you were looking for.


Sunday, 19 February 2017

Things I've loved this week // 030

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

New tattoos

Another week, another round of tattoos! I seem to have found a nice routine of booking a few in one go, letting them heal and then having a break for a while. I'm super thrilled with my latest additions, they are perfect. I certainly think that having tattoos makes me feel more like 'myself' if that makes any sense?! I'm really enjoying working on my legs.... it's such a positive journey and I am really thoroughly enjoying the progress!



My birthday

Valentine's Day is my birthday and it's also my mama's birthday too so as you can imagine, we always have a good time! In the morning we popped out to Castleton in the Peak District for a walk and breakfast at the Rose Cottage, it was so delicious and just what I needed. Kiddo had her athletics class in the afternoon and then we had a party in the evening.... a busy, tiring but fun day!


Blue skies

I have really suffered with the cold and the darkness this winter. It's not something I can say that I have really experienced before but this year it has hit me hard. I feel like we've been passing viruses back and forth for the past few months and to be honest with you, it's left me feeling quite glum! I feel like spring is just around the corner though and I am craving longer days, milder weather and a holiday like crazy! Not long now, fingers crossed!


Lord of the Lost

Ah, forever my favourite band. They released a new video this week and it is perfect so obviously i'm going to include it in this post! I am so insanely excited that they are touring the UK this year too, I booked tickets as soon as I found out and I am genuinely counting the days.... even though it isn't until September! 


YouTube

This week I started uploading videos to YouTube with the intention that I will do it more regularly in the future too. Currently I haven't got a clue what I am doing but i'm uploading our trip to Walt Disney World in 2016 and i'll be using it in the future for vlogging days out and holidays, things like that! I'd love to be able to build up my subscribers and get some tips from fellow YouTube users so if you have a channel then pop your link in the comments below and let's get to know each other!


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

Friday, 17 February 2017

When it pays to buy quality

Being frugal and living simply is about more than just saving money, it is about spending your money wisely and investing in things that will last. It might be tempting to buy something cheap, but if it is not well-made, it will just end up costing you more in the long run. Sometimes it just makes sense to splurge on something of quality because you know it will save you money somewhere further down the line.


What frugal living is about

Living a frugal life isn’t just about being cheap and saving as much money as you possibly can; it is more about using your money wisely. It is absolutely fine to spend your money on the stuff that is important to you, whether that be a once in a lifetime family holiday or a beautiful Chesterfield sofa that was built to last. For me, the main goal of frugality and living simply is to allow me to save for those things that truly do matter, and for those emergencies that life throws at us all from time to time, by making smart, sensible choices with money.

Too many people get caught up in the idea of finding the cheapest version of whatever piece of furniture, service or appliance they need without taking quality into account. Doing this may see them with more money in their pocket in the short term, but when that cheap toaster breaks down after a couple of months, and the next one does the same, and the next one, and so on, they will soon be worse off than they would have been investing in the expertly manufactured toaster that cost £30 more than the cheap model they actually bought.

When it pays to spend more


That’s all well and good, but how do you know when it pays to spend more? Simply by balancing price and quality if you want to make the smart spending choice. If, for example, you are buying a new pair of jeans that you will wear every day, you should maybe buy a more expensive pair that has been expertly crafted from the most durable material. They may cost £100, but they’ll last you for several years, whereas a cheap £10 pair could be showing signs of wear and tear by the end of the month.

If, however, you are buying something that will rarely be used or which you do not consider to be important, such as cleaning products or a lamp for the guest bedroom, it is usually fine to go for the cheapest option. After all, it won’t matter if they don’t contain the latest fancy ingredient, or they don’t look as good as the other stuff in your home, as long as they get the job done.

Therefore, if you are going to use something regularly or it is of great importance to you, spend more. Otherwise, you can afford to be frugal, and the saving your make will enable you to spend more on what truly matters to you and your family.