Saturday, 31 October 2015

365 Project 2015 Days 270 - 304

I've quite a lot of Project 365 to catch up on because we were away on holiday! Here are my photos from day 270 right through to day 304!

Day 270 - This was taken after midnight so Husband and I were pretty merry
Day 271 - Catching up on some college work
Day 272 - Walking to school, hand in hand
Day 273 - Nails all done for holiday
Day 274 - Happy birthday to me!
Day 275 - A Michael Kors purse from my friends for my birthday
Day 276 - Breakfast at the airport before we boarded our flight to Florida

Day 277 - The castle at Magic Kingdom
Day 278 - Enjoying breakfast with Disney Junior characters
Day 279 - The Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom
Day 280 - Craving Chinese food in Epcot
Day 281 - A lazy day at the pool
Day 282 - Meeting Pluto at Hollywood Studios
Day 283 - Meeting Mickey Mouse at Magic Kingdom - he told the kids to roar!

Day 284 - We headed to Disney Springs for some dinner
Day 285 - Our hire car for a few days
Day 286 - The boys went to Universal Studios
Day 287 - Miss C chose to be Jasmine for a Princess makeover
Day 288 - A rest day by the pool
Day 289 - Z meeting Captain Jack Sparrow
Day 290 - Time to come home

Day 291 - We were all feeling pretty tired today
Day 292 - We got pet gerbils called Jack and Jett
Day 293 - Sleep was definitely needed a lot this week
Day 294 - Cake for breakfast with a friend
Day 295 - Autumn is definitely here
Day 296 - The kids had friends over after school so we ordered Chinese
Day 297 - Miss C with Jack - she loves him!

Day 298 - Homemade steak pie for dinner
Day 299 - Autumn colours everywhere
Day 300 - A bowl of porridge to start the day
Day 301 - Jett having a peek out of his bed
Day 302 - I got my graduation certificate today
Day 303 - Walking to college
Day 304 - A day for baking

Me & Mine 2015 - October

A dream is a wish your heart makes. October: the month that dream came true.

A trip that was 600 days (almost) in the planning and organising finally arrived on October 3rd when we headed to Orlando, Florida to stay in Disneyworld for two whole weeks. So, of course our Me & Mine photo was going to be of us standing in front of the most beautiful castle (in my eyes) in the world. 

My favourite part of the whole trip was experiencing the excitement and magic through our children. Despite a rocky start with some upset tummies and sickness, the kids loved every second of their trip. They gazed in wonder, gasped in amazement and smiled from ear to ear. I also enjoyed the time we spent as a family of four. Husband works incredibly hard, long hours with weekends thrown in to the mix too so we don't always get to spend a lot of time together. Hardly ever to we get two whole weeks together so this trip was fantastic and we had such a wonderful time. There was no bickering either, except when it came to driving but that happens here all the time. We are both terrible passengers. 

Husband really needed a break from work so he was really excited at not having to be at work for a whole two weeks. Husband had a trip of his own on the holiday to the Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights. He had a fantastic time as he's really in to these horror movies and likes a good scare! He also loved having a Mustang to drive for a few days and eating lots and lots of steak. 

Z wasn't feeling too great at the start of the trip but thankfully it passed quite quickly! Z was most excited to meet talking Mickey. He kept the front page of his autograph book free for him. We didn't manage to meet him until the last day of our trip! Z was chosen to take part in the Pirate League Training show with Captain Jack Sparrow. He even got to go up against Captain Jack in a sword fight. Z and Husband had some boy time together at Universal which I know they both loved. Z is a massive Harry Potter fan; he's read all of the books and seen all of the movies. He bought himself an interactive wand that you can use around the Harry Potter land and he tried Butter-beer which, apparently, was quite sweet. 

Miss C aka the ball of energy. My oh my did she love Disney. She met all of the Princesses, took a liking to Gaston and Peter Pan and rode the carousel so many times. She became a Princess herself at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo Boutique and dined in Cinderella's Castle. She showed us how brave she was by riding Big Thunder Mountain (she cried!), Dinosaur (she loved!) and Test Track (another favourite). She was the only one of us who didn't get ill. She didn't complain once about having sore legs even when she was really tired. She really did have the best time and didn't want to come home. 

Coming back home to the routine of school, college and work has been hard but we made the most amazing memories this October and we'll definitely go back and make more memories in the future. 

dear beautiful

Friday, 30 October 2015

As Quiet As a Mouse - Book Review

As Quiet As a Mouse is one of three brand new picture books from Maverick Books. It is written by Karen Owen and illustrated by Evgenia Golubeva.

This is a story about an elephant called Edgar who has a new baby sister. He has to try and be a bit quieter because he keeps waking his baby sister with all the noise he makes. He finds this quite hard. Luckily he has a good friend called Ruby who sends him to meet some mice and learn how to be as quiet as a mouse.

This is a lovely story about friendship and how trying and trying again can help you become better at something.

The book is beautifully illustrated with lots of bright colours. I love that the elephants have different patterns of their ears. Edgar has triangles on his ears which offers you another talking point with your children as you read the story.

We received this book for the purposes of a review. The opinions expressed are my own. 

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Keeping Warm with Vertbaudet - Review

As much as I love summer and the spring/summer clothing collections, I really do love the warmth of the autumn/winter collections. Whilst I stock up on as many long sleeve t-shirts, tights, trousers and knitwear, jackets and coats can be expensive so I tend to only buy one really good one for the kids to last them the season.

Vertbaudet have a great range of parkas and jackets for autumn/winter and they sent me this really pretty wool mix coat priced at £39.00

It comes in 4 colour choices; grey, purple, strawberry and teal. I chose the strawberry one as I think this style of coat looks really nice in red shades.

The coat has a zip which is concealed once you button the coat together with the faux leather buttoned placket. It has two pockets that have decorative stars on the zips. It has a hood with a polka dot lining and it also has hooks for mittens or gloves to be attached to the inside of the sleeves. These are available to buy separately from Vertbaudet.

Inside the coat is a lovely fleecy lining, making this a really warm coat for the winter months. It isn't shower or waterproof because of the material but it is perfect for those cold winter mornings when the sun is shining. I think it will look really cute over a dress and tights combo with patent boots.

It is machine washable at 30 which is great because I thought it might be dry clean or hand wash only.

This is such a beautiful coat that feels really warm and cosy. I think Miss C will get a lot of wear out of this this winter.

We received this item for the purposes of a review. The opinions expressed are my own. 

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Super 4 from Playmobil - Review

Brand new to Playmobil is the range of toys inspired by the CITV series Super 4. They are themed around the different worlds of Playmobil: Pirates, Fairies, Knights and Top Agents. Super 4 follows the adventures of four heroes named Alex, Gene, Ruby and Twinkle. We were sent two of the new sets to review as part of our job as Playmobil Playologists.

Miss C chose to review the Lost Island with Alien and Raptor set (6687). The bright colours of the trees and the cute looking monkey/rabbit toy were the main reasons she chose this set. Miss C loves to find the animals in a Playmobil set; it's the first thing she looks for and is the biggest influence on her choice of Playmobil toy.

The set comes with an island with a space for a tree and some bushes, a set of toadstools, a Playmobil person, a mini dinosaur, a magnifying glass, a snake that dangles from the tree, an alien (the monkey/rabbit) and a boomerang.

This is a smaller set in terms of the range of Super 4 toys but that doesn't stop it from being a good play set. It's really easy to put together so younger children won't find it too challenging to complete themselves. Miss C managed to put everything together and was very pleased with herself at the end of it. Because it is a smaller set, it doesn't come with anything to store it in when you've finished playing with it so you might want to keep the box.

Miss C loves this kind of set so she really enjoyed playing with it. I think her favourite part was seeing how many ways she could hang the snake from the tree.

Z chose to review the Techno Chameleon with Gene (6692). Gene is one of the main Super 4 heroes and he's a spy. The Techno Chameleon is a kitted out car, complete with fancy gadgets and a robot!

Z managed to put the set together himself although he needed a bit of help getting the wheels together. It took him around 30 minutes to complete.

This is a larger set in comparison with the one Miss C received so there are more things to play with and more bits to it. Both Z and Miss C loved the door to get in to the car. It reminded us of something out of Star Trek. Really it's like a revolving door where you place your Playmobil person in, turn the top and then it opens out in to the car. The kids decided that both sets worked well together with Gene going off on an alien and dinosaur hunt and using his car to transport them back to their home planet.

The front of the car also opens up so you can place your Playmobil person inside the seating area. Gene has his own spy equipment such as a gun and a torch. The roof of the car also opens so you can play inside the back of the car, where all the cool stuff is.

This set can be stored away quite easily because all the bits can be placed inside the car and closed up.

Overall we were pretty impressed with the toys we received and the Super 4 range should be a great addition to the Playmobil collection.

Here is a video we made of the unboxing and building of these sets...

We received these toys for the purposes of a review as part of our role as Playmobil Playologists. The opinions expressed are my own. 

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Dining in Disney - Day Two

On our second day of Disney Dining, we had a reservation for Hollywood and Vine in the Hollywood Studios park. We didn't make any other reservations for that day as we decided to grab some quick service meals.

Breakfast at Hollywood & Vine - Hollywood Studios

This is a character themed buffet where you can meet characters from Disney Junior. The characters are there for breakfast and lunch only. This is quite a popular restaurant which is available to book from 180 days in advance of your stay. You can also have dinner here and pay a bit more for the Fantasmic dinner package.

We had an early reservation before the park opened so we were seated quite quickly from when we checked in. Our server told us it would take around an hour for all of the characters to get round to our table which was fine because it was early enough and we weren't in a rush for our first fastpass.

There was a great selection of food available including omelets made to order. We started with some fruits and pastries and finished off with pancakes, omelets and the famous Mickey waffles. They were OK but I wouldn't eat more than one.

The kids were really excited to meet the characters. We met Doc McStuffins, Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Handy Manny and Sofia. Z wasn't too fussed about meeting Doc or Sofia but he was really excited to meet Handy Manny and Jake. He used to love watching both shows when he was younger and it was really nice for us to see him excited to meet them despite no longer watching their shows. Miss C loved meeting them all.

During breakfast, the characters would stop their meet and greets and dance along with the children to some of the Disney Junior songs. The kids loved it! This happens every 20 minutes or so which is probably why it takes the characters so long to get round the tables.

We really enjoyed this breakfast and character experience. I'd highly recommend it!

Breakfast cost us $102 and we left a tip of $18 to make a total of $120.

Sadly, Z and Husband began to feel unwell so we headed back to the hotel. We skipped lunch and I missed dinner. The kids had a cheese pizza and Husband had noddle soup from Landscape of Flavours in Art of Animation. It cost around $15.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Florida Day Two - Hollywood Studios

On day two of our holiday, which was Monday, we headed to Hollywood Studios. We were up early again as we had a breakfast reservation at Hollywood and Vine. It's a Disney Junior character dining which I knew the kids would enjoy.

On the bus from Art of Animation, it took around 10 minutes to get there, if that. The park wasn't anywhere near as busy as Magic Kingdom had been the day before even though it was the same time in the morning. We got through security and the ticket entrance really quickly and managed to get some photos before heading round to Hollywood and Vine for our 8.25am reservation.

We had some Fastpasses booked for the day but we changed them around a bit as Z was complaining of a sore stomach and we didn't think it would be a good idea to go on Star Tours first thing. It's a simulator ride that isn't recommended if you suffer with motion sickness. Instead, we decided to go on the Great Movie ride.

As we started to queue, Z said he needed the toilet so we all rushed out. Husband took Z to the toilet and Miss C and I waited. They were ages!

Prior to going on holiday, the kids' school had an outbreak of the sickness and diarrhoea bug and it followed us to Florida. However Z and Husband were also complaining about the taste of the water and the food. Miss C and I were absolutely fine. We both have pretty strong stomachs.

When they eventually came out of the bathroom, Husband was complaining of a sore stomach. We decided to try and go to the Muppets 3D vision. Again, whilst in the queue, Z said he needed the toilet. I took him and left Miss C and Husband to enjoy the show. Husband loves the Muppets so I didn't want him to miss out.

Z was really feeling unwell so when Miss C and Husband came out of the Muppets show, we decided to head back to the hotel. We managed to meet Phineas and Ferb on the way out which cheered Z up.

Back at the hotel, Z was feeling much better but poor Husband was really unwell. He spent the day in bed and I took the kids to the pool at our hotel.

We went to the Nemo pool at Art of Animation and the kids had so much fun playing in the pool and splash area. It's such a fun themed pool! They also joined in with the poolside entertainment which meant I got some peace to enjoy the sunshine.

When we got back to the hotel, I started to feel a bit sick but I had had an omelet for breakfast and I don't always digest eggs properly...actually unless they are in a cake of some variety, I don't really eat egg so I know that's why I was sick. Husband took over looking after the kids whilst I went to bed.

An early night was in order. 8pm and we were all asleep!

Here is a short vlog of the day. Miss C had a go on the camera...

Sunday, 25 October 2015

The Week That Was #43

Last Sunday, we landed back in the UK at 5am. We cleared the passport check and baggage collection fairly quickly and got back to Bella and Pops' house by 6am. Husband went to bed and, one by one, Z, Miss C and I all fell asleep on the couch for a couple of hours. My Sister arrived with my niece, Miss K, and the kids played together before we had to leave. It took us just over 4 hours to get back to Scotland, the kids and I sleeping most of the way. We unpacked, did a food shop and ordered Chinese for dinner.

On Monday, it was an in-service day for the school so we didn't have to get up early. Jazz, our cat, woke me up at 9.30 with his miaowing. Z was up at 10.30 and we had to wake Miss C at 11.30. We headed in to town to exchange some left over dollars (I know, I was shocked too!) and buy Miss C boots for school. She didn't go with Lelli Kelly this time; she went for some lovely patent Geox boots. We also bought our pet gerbils. We decided to get a rodent type pet for the kids to give them the responsibility of looking after a small creature. They called their gerbils Jack and Jett.

On Tuesday, it was back to the routine of school and I started placement. The day went pretty quickly but we were all exhausted when we got home. An early night was in order!

On Wednesday, it was my day off college and placement so I dropped the kids off at school and headed in to town to meet up with a friend. We had coffee and cake and talked all about Disney since she loves it too. I picked the kids up from school and they decided to play with their gerbils. We got them balls that they can go in and walk about the kitchen without getting lost or hurt. They love them!

On Thursday, it was back to college after my break. It was hard. I felt so tired in my first class, I could have fallen asleep. After lunch I attended class rep training as I was chosen to be our class rep for this year. It was OK but getting free chocolate and crisps made it a lot easier to take in.

On Friday, I didn't have to go to college as it was closed for graduation day. The kids had friends over after school to play so we ordered Chinese for dinner and had a nice, chilled out evening. The kids had great fun with their friends. They are such a great little gang.

On Saturday, we woke up at 9am! We had 40 minutes to get up, get dressed and have breakfast before Z had to leave for Karate. We did make it which just goes to show what we can do if we need to! It would never happen on a school day though! After lunch, I decided to de-clutter Miss C's cupboards and drawers. It is quite embarrassing how many toys, books and games they have but especially Miss C. She has the smallest room in the house as well so we have to be clever with storage and maximising her space. We got rid of quite a few things and had a good tidy up. It probably won't last long. Friends popped over to visit after dinner and then we got cosy on the couch to catch up with Xfactor.

My Sunday Photo 2015 #43


Friday, 23 October 2015

Dining in Disney: Day One

I decided to do separate posts for all of our dining experiences in Florida as finding somewhere to eat is a big part of your holiday and I thought it would be easier to dedicate posts to food to make it easier for people to decide if they'd like to eat at some of the places we ate.

Breakfast at the Crystal Palace - Magic Kingdom

This is a character themed dining location that serves a buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can meet characters from Winnie the Pooh as part of the dining experience. This restaurant, like all of the table service restaurants in the Disneyworld resort, can be booked from 180 days before your trip.

The restaurant was really clean and beautifully decorated. I loved the "Friendship Day" banner. The buffet had a good selection of cereals, pastries, fresh fruit, pancakes, waffles and hot food such as bacon, eggs and sausages. A choice of soft drink, tea or coffee is also included with unlimited refills.

Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet visit your table whilst you eat, sign your autograph books and pose for pictures. We managed to meet all four of them within the hour. They go around the restaurant in a rotation so everyone gets the chance to meet them. They also have a mini parade around the restaurant which kids can join in with. The kids absolutely loved the interaction of this breakfast.

The meal cost us $102 and we left a tip of $18 to make the total $120.

Lunch at Columbia House - Magic Kingdom

This is a quick service restaurant, located in the Liberty Square area just in front of the Haunted Mansion. Quick service restaurants don't need to be booked; in fact, generally they can't be booked unless it's somewhere like Be Our Guest. This means you can just walk in and grab some food fairly quickly.

The kids and I had a kids meal each. We all chose chicken nuggets and a side of fries and the meal came with a bottle of water. All for around $6 plus tax. You need to check with these types of restaurants what sides come with your meal as you may also have the option of healthy alternatives such as carrots or grapes. Husband had a sandwich of some variety which also came with fries but without a drink. It cost around $12 plus tax. The kid meal portions are pretty generous so if you don't have a big appetite then you can save money by buying those instead of an adult meal. The food was pretty good and the restaurant had plenty of seating areas.

The meal cost us around $30. No tips required at a Quick Service restaurant.

Dinner at The Boathouse - Disney Springs

The Boathouse is one of the newest restaurants in Disney Springs (previously Downtown Disney). It is beautifully decorated with stunning views of the lake. You can hire an amphicar which will drive you in to the lake and sail you around before or after your dinner.

The menu was pretty good but we were a bit sad to see that there were no steak dishes on the kids' menu. Miss C and Z decided to have a burger and Husband and I enjoyed our first steak of the holiday. The food was served fairly quickly and it was really delicious. No veg was included with the meal; this is an additional side dish you have to order if you want it. We didn't have a starter or pudding as we weren't overly hungry. Husband ordered a glass of prosecco to have with his dinner which cost $9.

The kids loved that their dinner was served in an amphicar!

Dinner cost us $95 and we left a tip of $15 to make a total of $110.

I'd highly recommend all three of these restaurants!

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Happy Readers with Roald Dahl

Just before we went on holiday, we received some Roald Dahl goodies along with some information on the new range of books available in McDonald's Happy Meals. The kids had fun wearing some of the masks they were sent which included characters from The Twits and Fantastic Mr Fox.

Roald Dahl is one of our favourite authors and Z has read all of his books. He's excited to be exploring Roald Dahl and his work for his school topic.

McDonald’s has partnered with the National Literacy Trust, Penguin Random House Children’s UK and the Roald Dahl Literary Estate to help encourage family reading time in the UK with the McDonald’s Happy Readers initiative. The books will be available to collect in Happy Meals for a few more weeks.

McDonald's are also hosting Happy Reader events which are free for families to go along to. On Saturday 24th October it’s Glasgow’s turn to have James and the Giant Peach brought to life in the McDonald’s restaurant on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow town centre. On Saturday 31st October, the McDonald’s restaurant on Queen Street in Cardiff town centre bring to life Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

McDonald’s has also carried out research into story time and can reveal the top five ingredients for extraordinary Roald Dahl-inspired storytelling, voted for by kids aged 5-11:
1. Funny voices to bring to life different characters (70%)
2. Sounds effects and strange, surprising noises (43%)
3. Facial gestures and expressions to make them laugh (27%)
4. Parents, grandparents and siblings taking it in turns to read (20%)
5. Acting out scenes from their favourite storybook (17%) 
We received the items pictured as part of this post. 

Florida Day One - Magic Kingdom

On our first full day in Florida, we headed to Disney's flagship theme park; Magic Kingdom. It was a Sunday so we expected the park to be fairly busy especially with it being the Columbus Day weekend however I had booked our breakfast at the Crystal Palace which is a character themed dining with Winnie the Pooh and friends and as we had an early reservation, we got in to the park before it opened and captured some amazing photos. The park was all decorated for Halloween and will be like that until 1st November when it will change to Christmas.

I'll do separate posts on all of our dining experiences but breakfast was a lot of fun and really yummy. When we finished, we headed to Adventureland where the kids managed to meet Rafiki and Aladdin and Princess Jasmine. We went on the magic carpet ride and then headed round to Pirates of the Caribbean. We had a Fastpass for this ride but it only had a 5 minute wait so we decided to go in the stand-by queue and then go on the ride a second time using our Fastpasses. We loved this ride in Disneyland Paris and it was just as good, if not better, in Florida. Jack Sparrow features a lot in this ride.

After Adventureland, we headed over to Frontierland as we had a Fastpass for Big Thunder Mountain and for Splash Mountain. Miss C wasn't keen on Big Thunder Mountain and was screaming from the first hill. Z did much better than the time he went on it in Paris. As we came off the ride, we met Woody and Jessie from Toy Story.

Splash Mountain was definitely Z's favourite ride in Magic Kingdom. As it was quiet, we went on the ride in the stand-by queue. Miss C wasn't as keen on the ride so Husband and Z used their Fastpasses to go on again and Miss C and I waited for them. It was spitting with rain for most of the day which was a shame but it didn't spoil our day.

After Frontierland, we decided to stop at Columbia House for some food. It's a quick service restaurant so we were able to go straight in and grab something. It was also really close to The Haunted Mansion and as it also had a short queue, we went on it after lunch. Miss C managed to meet her first Princess; Princess Tiana!

We headed in to Fantasyland for a little while and went on It's a Small World and the Carousel. Miss C loves the Carousel so much so she was really excited to get on it. On the way out we met a family from the plane who had managed to meet Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, Donald and Goofy in under 10 minutes in the Storybook Circus area so we headed there. Miss C managed to meet Minnie and Daisy but the queue was getting quite long for Goofy and Donald so we gave them a miss.

We left the park just before 4pm and headed back to the hotel to dump our stuff and freshen up for dinner in Disney Springs at The Boathouse. Disney Springs was really busy and there was lots to see and do there. You could spend a full day there! We popped in to have a nosy in the LEGO shop and see the amazing builds. Dinner was really tasty but we decided not to have dessert as we were all shattered from the travel day and the time difference.

Here is a vlog of our first day in Magic Kingdom...

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