Friday, 17 August 2018

Pink, grey and white with a touch of Disney

We started a colossal re-decorating project a few months ago which all started with us deciding we needed to spruce up our bedroom.

Our room is pretty small and we weren't making the best use of the space available to us. Also, some of our bedroom furniture was looking a bit worse for wear as we'd spent as little on it as possible when we moved in to the house four years ago. If anyone ever tells you that buying a house and planning a wedding at the same time is a great idea, please don't believe them for a second.

We decided a fitted wardrobe on one end of the room was the best way to maximise the space. Of course, if we wanted a fitted wardrobe, that would mean replacing the carpet as it was looking a bit worn. And if we were replacing the carpet in our room, it made sense to replace it everywhere else too. And everyone knows that you might as well re-paint all the walls before you get a new carpet fitted. Can you see why this suddenly became a much bigger project than 'we need to sort out our bedroom'?

Anyway, to cut a long and boring story short, we re-carpeted all the carpeted rooms in the house and painted all the walls. You can see the results from our guest room in one of my recent blog posts. Our bedroom was the most time-consuming room of all and was the last to get finished, but it's been well worth the wait.

We opted for two single fitted wardrobes with a dressing table and two top boxes. I've got my own fitted wardrobe in the opposite corner of the bedroom, so these wardrobes are for Neil's clothes. However, the dressing table area is definitely my domain! I bought a grey stool with in-built storage and a little white drawer unit to make the most of the space underneath, and I was all set. 

The dressing table itself took a little longer and a lot of re-arranging before I was completely satisfied with it. I'd had my white jewellery box for a few years and it was the perfect match, so that was always going to be my centrepiece. I fell in love with the baby pink vase in Next so that went straight in my shopping basket, as did the white flowers from Wilko. I bought the little white pots from Ikea for all my make up brushes and tubes, then Minnie Mouse and Marie were given the honour of sitting on the dressing table and looking pretty. I just needed a nice white mirror to finish it all off and found one in Argos for £7. Bargain! 

The walls and the carpet are slightly different shades of grey, so we went for a grey bed from Dreams to continue the theme. It's an ottoman type which means the bed frame can easily be lifted up with ample storage underneath. We chose baby pink accessories to complement the grey and the white, and it all works together really well. I also loved having the excuse to buy new colour-coordinated bedding to go with the theme! I haven't photographed the bed in its entirety as I can never manage to make the bedding look all tidy and crease-free, but it's a big improvement on what we had before and looks so cosy. 

We put a floating shelf above the bed to house some of my many Disney teddies and Disney Traditions figurines, and my Dumbo print from Florida has been put up in pride of place. All the teddies on the shelf are pink, grey and white... I feel as if I've spent a LOT of time contemplating which Disney teddies fit in with various colour schemes over the last few weeks. 

No room is complete without some nice meaningful photos, so I wanted to make sure we had plenty of nice photographs in our room. We've got 7 small white and grey photo frames along our windowsill which are filled with a mix of Disney postcards and photos, and I also bought this larger white frame to hold some of our holiday memories. Jessie also has a whole row to herself which is just the way it should be. 

So, after a few months of hard work, I think we've finally finished re-decorating and re-arranging our entire house. What do you think of our pink, grey and white bedroom? Do you think there are enough Disney touches or should I try to sneak some more in...? 

Friday, 10 August 2018

Breakfast review: Bill's

Going for breakfast at Bill's has become a little bit of an obsession for us over the last few months.

I've visited Bill's loads of times for lunch and dinner, but we'd never got around to going there for breakfast until the end of May. We were missing our American breakfasts after coming home from Florida with a particular craving for pancakes, and we'd heard that Bill's was a pretty good substitute.

There's a Bill's in Cardiff city centre and in Cardiff Bay, and I've been to both restaurants several times over the last few years. However, when we go to Bill's as a couple, we always go to the one in Cardiff Bay as it's more convenient for us and is set in beautiful surroundings, especially on a sunny day.

On our first visit to Bill's back in May, I ordered the banana, strawberry and blueberry pancakes. You can choose between a 3 stack or a 5 stack, so I opted for the 3 stack to be on the safe side. I've got a hefty appetite but, for some reason, I REALLY struggle to finish all my food when it comes to American pancakes. 

I think you'll agree that this is a very instagrammable breakfast. The pancakes come with a decent helping of Bill's 'pancake syrup', which is basically their own branded maple syrup. The fruit adds the sweetness that's needed to break up the texture of the pancakes, and the whole dish just works perfectly. These pancakes are slightly thinner than their American counterparts which means they're more manageable for me, and I can comfortably clear my plate as long as I order a 3 stack. 

On our second visit to Bill's for breakfast in June, I chose the smoked streaky bacon pancakes. I think I marginally prefer the fruity variety, but that bacon really was cooked to perfection. My only slight issue with the bacon pancakes is that they come with a big dollop of very rich butter as well as the pancake syrup, and this meant the meal felt a little too rich for me towards the end. 

Bill's has plenty of options for breakfast if you don't fancy pancakes, but I don't think I'll ever be able to order anything else just in case I'm disappointed! There are also plenty of beverages on offer including tea, coffee, orange juice and a very tasty apple, carrot and ginger juice. 

Our breakfast usually comes to around £22, and Bill's will also add an optional 10% service charge to your bill. I think this is pretty reasonable for a good quality breakfast, and it's always a lovely experience with great service. We definitely need to plan our next visit soon. 

Have you been to Bill's for breakfast recently? What did you think? 

Friday, 3 August 2018

It's all yellow

Wearing yellow used to be a big no-no for me.

I used to think I could never wear yellow because it clashed spectacularly with my hair. I also happened to be in the yellow team in both primary and secondary school, so anything remotely yellow always reminded me of dreaded sports days. I've always been terrible at any kind of competitive sporting activity so sports day was consistently my least favourite day of the year.

It's not difficult to see why I didn't used to be a yellow fan... 

Fast forward a few years and I've suddenly become a big fan of all things yellow. I stopped caring about things clashing with my hair a long time ago, and yellow is such a lovely sunny colour which always cheers me up. In the past I would have hastily scrolled past any yellow items while browsing my favourite websites, but now I've actively started seeking them out. 

My very yellow dress and shoes for this year's birthday meal

This yellow dress and matching flip flops were perfect for our
holiday to Walt Disney World earlier this year.


I even chose a yellow MagicBand for this year's holiday! 

I couldn't resist buying this denim jacket from New Look, and these shorts from ASOS were an excellent find just before our holiday. 

I bought the dress on the left with this year's birthday money and the one in the middle with last year's birthday money, both from ASOS. The playsuit on the right was a bargain a couple of weeks ago from New Look. 

My rapidly growing yellow obsession hasn't stopped with my clothing. We've been redecorating the house over the last few months which has resulted in a major overhaul for several rooms, and the guest bedroom has ended up with a yellow and grey theme. It's beautifully bright and sunshiny and I love it!  

I've obviously got a selection of Disney teddies for every colour coordination under the sun. 

My Winnie the Pooh shelf looks perfect on our yellow wall. 

Any other yellow fans out there? Please send me your recommendations! 

Friday, 27 July 2018

Our first year with Jessie

Can you believe that we've had Jessie for a whole year? Although it sometimes feels as if the last twelve months have flown by, I find it quite difficult to remember what life was like without our furry whirlwind.

I thought I'd summarise Jessie's first year with us by talking you through some of her main milestones...

We picked Jessie up from Pembrokeshire on Friday 21st July, 2017. She'd travelled over from Ireland on the ferry with her siblings earlier that day so she was completely exhausted and very confused when we first met her. It took us two hours to get back to Penarth and she slept peacefully nearly all the way home. 

We brought her home and let her explore our kitchen and the garden as she got used to her new surroundings. She was a little apprehensive on her first night with us, but she soon made up for her shyness by being a stereotypically inquisitive and slightly destructive pup. Jessie made herself at home in no time and we were immediately smitten (and very tired). 

In the blink of an eye, Jessie had been with us for a couple of months and had turned six months old. She'd started to calm down a bit by this point, and we were actually able to watch TV for a whole hour at a time without saying 'Jessie, no!' every two minutes. She was also enjoying her walks a lot more at this age and was getting more confident and playful every time she stepped foot (or paw) outside. 

Jessie's next milestone was her first Christmas! She wasn't a big fan of the festive season at first because she wasn't allowed to play with the Christmas tree decorations, but she quickly got into the swing of things. She came along with us to Neil's parents' house on Christmas Day and to my parents' house on Boxing Day, and she absolutely loved being spoilt rotten with all her new toys and treats. 

A couple of weeks after Christmas, Jessie celebrate her nine month birthday and I (again) couldn't believe how quickly the time was going. We were marvelling every day at her increasing fluffiness, and it's fair to say that her little chest was magnificently Corgi-like by the time she reached nine months of age. 

Jessie started her first season at the end of March which meant she unfortunately celebrated her first birthday right in the middle of it. She still had a lovely time and had lots of presents from us and both sets of grandparents, as well as a doggy birthday biscuit from Pets at Home. We'd had Jessie for nearly nine months by this point and I was getting a little more obsessed with her every day. 

And, just like that, Jessie's 'gotcha day' came along last weekend and she's been with us for a whole year. She was spayed the day before her first anniversary with us so we weren't able to celebrate much, but we'll make up for it once she's completely recovered. 

If you'd have told me ten years ago that I'd have my own dog one day and that I'd be celebrating all her milestones with blog posts and puppy cards, I'd have laughed in your face. How times change, eh? I love celebrating all her little milestones and I wouldn't change Jessie for the world. 

Here's to the next 12 months! 

(Yes, Jessie is most definitely the boss of everything.)

Friday, 20 July 2018

My 2018 Disney character meets

After writing a more personal post last week, I'm back to posting about a combination of two of my favourite things... holidays and Disney!

I'm not massively in to character meets which means they're not my biggest priority when we go to Walt Disney World, but I do try to fit a few in around our other plans.

I absolutely have to meet Pluto every year because he's my favourite, and I also pledged to meet Goofy on this year's trip before we left. I didn't have any others in mind at the beginning of the holiday so just decided to wing it whenever I saw a short queue.

It's become a standard tradition for me to meet Pluto in Epcot on our second full day. He's always got a short queue at his Epcot spot and the cast members there are always so lovely and enthusiastic. I wore my custom-made Pluto ears from Closet Geek for this meet, of course!

A few days later, we were leaving Hollywood Studios after a flying visit and happened to see Daisy and Donald Duck at the entrance. Donald had a massive queue but Daisy's was much shorter, so I quickly got in line as I'd never met Daisy before. We happened to be very colour coordinated which was a happy coincidence.

Towards the end of the holiday, we'd booked fastpasses for the Character Spot in Epcot as the attraction fastpasses were thin on the ground for that day. Neil didn't use his fastpass as he hates meeting characters, so I braved it on my own. I assumed I'd only meet one character and was trying to figure out how to choose, but I actually got to meet Goofy, Mickey and Minnie which was a lovely surprise. I would definitely recommend getting a fastpass for this experience as the standard queue length was around 50 minutes. The meets were slightly rushed as there were lots of people behind me chomping at the bit, but I still had a decent amount of time with each character.

I did go on a hunt for Donald in our last couple of days as I was on a mission to complete my Sensational Six collection, but I unfortunately didn't come across him for the rest of our trip. He'll have to go on the list for 2019.

Who's on top of your character meet list?

Friday, 13 July 2018

Two years on... learning to live with it

A year ago from now, I wasn't in a good place.

Two years ago, I'd just received that fateful letter and had no idea what kind of nightmare was hurtling towards me. Fast forward twelve months to last July, and I'd sunk into a very low place mentally which was just as traumatic as the diagnosis and surgery itself.

I did start to feel much better in October/November last year, but it was a slow and sometimes frustrating process. In October, I blogged about how I shouldn't be feeling guilty about my state of mind and also berated myself for not being more open with people about what I was going through. Ironically, now that my mind is clearer, I can see that I still felt guilty and was trying to justify myself to... myself. I still felt angry that people were skirting around the impact of my diagnosis and surgery even though I desperately needed to talk about it, and I shifted that anger onto myself for not being more honest about my feelings. My mood deteriorated in December for a number of reasons, so 2017 finished just as negatively as it had begun.

I'm pleased to report that, so far, 2018 has been a lot better than the previous two years. It had a rocky start as I was still trying to get through my low patch, but I managed to turn things around. I forced myself into a few situations I didn't think I could handle, and I did handle them. This made me feel stronger and made me realise that I'm more determined and resilient than I give myself credit for.

I'm not going to pretend everything is brilliant all the time. I still have days where I want to scream, cry, withdraw, or all three at once. I had an unexpected 'I hate everything this cancer has done to me' meltdown as recently as four days ago, all because I had a call from the hospital about yet another appointment I need to arrange. Some triggers still hit me like a punch in the stomach, particularly when I'm not expecting them, and I think they always will. However, on a 'good' day, those triggers aren't as all-consuming as they used to be and I'm able to take a deep breath and try to focus on something else.

I can pinpoint a few things that have helped me to feel better over the last few months:
  • Spending time with Jessie, my beautiful Corgi puppy. She makes me smile every day and makes everything seem a little bit better with one wag of her tail. 
  • I started a new job in March and I absolutely love it. Although leaving the place where I'd worked for ten years was scary, it was 100% the right decision for me and gave me the fresh start I needed. 
  • I've been trying really hard to practice mindfulness. I've let this slip over the last couple of months so need to pick it back again, but I think it's made me more aware of my downward thought spirals and how to combat them.  
  • Even though the funding for my support group abruptly came to an end a few months ago, I'm still in touch with the lovely ladies I met through the group. Speaking to people who 'get it' makes all the difference in the world. 
  • As I mentioned earlier, I've forced myself out of my comfort zone and pushed myself into situations I know I wouldn't have been able to handle last year. Even though these situations were difficult at the time, they're enabling me to slowly build up that 'milestone' bank. 

Having said all that, some things are still very distressing and I suspect they always will be. I now have check ups at the hospital every 6 months rather than every 3 months, and I think people are starting to see them as a formality as time goes on. This obviously isn't the case for me. My anxiety levels still peak a few weeks before each appointment and stay high afterwards if I've got to wait for any kind of result. Also, this might sound incredibly ungrateful, but being given the 'all clear' at these appointments is quite difficult to celebrate. Cancer has taken something irreplaceable from me and all the all clears in the world won't bring it back. But on the plus side, those good results do give me a sense of relief to cling on to until the next appointment looms. 

Every twinge, ache or slight abnormality makes my heart feel as if it's beating out of my chest. I suffered with health anxiety for years before my diagnosis, but this is on another level. I no longer have that tiny voice of reason telling me that it's very unlikely to happen to me, because it HAS happened to me. And as I've said in a previous post, that uncontrollable fear that 'it's back' is hideous. I had an MRI scan after my last check-up because the doctor was slightly concerned about one of my symptoms, and I nearly drove myself mad during the three-week wait for results. I no longer believe that 'no news is good news' as my initial diagnosis took so long to be confirmed, so I morphed into a massive bag of nerves as time went on. Thankfully, the MRI scan showed no evidence of recurrence so I can breathe easily until the next ache or pain comes along. 

Taking the good and bad into consideration, I do feel so much better than I felt this time last year (and two years ago, for that matter). I've worked really hard on helping myself as much as I can, and I do feel as if I'm making slow progress even if it is a tough slog at times.

I finished last July's blog post with a very stark statement: 'Cancer may have left my body ten months ago, but it will never ever leave my life.' Although that statement is still true and will always be true, I do feel as if, one day, I'll be able to learn to live with it. 

Friday, 6 July 2018

Walt Disney World shopping haul

There are only two things that provide a quick fix for those unrelenting Disney holiday blues. One is booking your next trip, and the other is making the most of everything you bought while you were there.

I blogged about my holiday shopping wishlist a couple of weeks before we left and I managed to pick up most of the things I wanted to buy. It's also quite fair to say that I bought a few extras. We received a $200 gift card with our holiday booking which was a great bonus, so lots of the items in this post were bought using that. Free money!

We also had some productive trips to the many shopping outlets outside of Walt Disney World, but I'm just focusing on my Disney haul for this post.

Two of my favourite purchases! A little Dooney and Bourke bag and a Mickey Mouse topiary charm for my Disney Pandora bracelet. 

I bought some lovely clothes this year, including a baby pink spirit jersey which was even prettier than the rose gold one I'd coveted beforehand. I also bought a pin for my office lanyard, and I couldn't say no to these two pairs of amazing Disney Parks ears. 

I bought some practical items for the house including fridge magnets, a new mug and bowl, and several pens (which I definitely didn't need but just had to have). I also bought a beautiful Dumbo necklace, just to go with the continuing Dumbo theme. 

As per my wishlist, I bought the special edition Flower and Garden Festival Minnie Mouse. Look how pretty she is! I also bought Figment, Dug, and a Tramp costume for Duffy. I wasn't supposed to buy any more costumes for Duffy but it was $10 in an outlet store so I couldn't resist.

We spent a long time over several evenings in the fascinating Art of Disney store and eventually decided on this beautiful Dumbo sketch and a Mickey, Minnie and Pluto postcard for our newly redecorated bedroom. 

We bought a new Minnie Mouse collar and tag for Jessie along with some Disney toys. The pictured toy only lasted a day before she broke it, but her squeaky Mickey waffle is thankfully still going strong. 

Have you blogged about your Disney hauls recently? Send me your links, I'd love to read them! 

Friday, 29 June 2018

It's cocktail o'clock at Walt Disney World

This post isn't entirely about cocktails, but I love to alliterate.

I've already blogged about my favourite snacks, quick-service restaurants and table-service restaurants from this year's trip. As those posts were obviously very food focused, I decided to write a separate post all about the drinkilicious beverages we tried at Walt Disney World this year.

Most non-alcoholic drinks at your resort and at the parks are included on the Disney Dining Plan as a snack. Each person gets two snack credits per day on the regular Dining Plan, so these drinks are a great way to use up your credits as well as quenching that humidity-induced thirst. 

You also receive a free refillable mug as part of the Dining Plan which means unlimited soft drink refills at your resort for the duration of your stay. 

As well as all the free non-alcoholic drinks, the Disney Dining Plan recently announced an exciting upgrade.  Your table-service credits now include one alcoholic drink along with your main meal and dessert. We like to have an alcoholic drink with our evening meals and have previously just paid the extra for them, so this was a welcome addition for us. 

Here are my top ten non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks from this year's holiday. Enjoy! 

We had two LeFou's Brews from Gaston's Tavern this year. They're absolutely massive and great value as a snack credit on the Dining Plan. 

We visited Dockside Margaritas in Disney Springs many many times. The cocktails are really tasty (I always order the Rum Runner) and the outdoor seating area boasts this amazing view. 

I ordered the 'It's Showtime Mojito' at Planet Hollywood. I was expecting it to be a bit watered down but it was actually very potent! 

South Sea Breeze cocktail at Nine Dragons in Epcot's China pavilion. Always a winner.

I don't even like tequila as a general rule, but this Frontera Margarita from Frontera Cocina was pretty spectacular. 

Night Blossom from Pandora: The World of Avatar. Basically a huge tumbler of colourful slushy sugar with edible beads on top, so obviously I loved it. 

No visit to the Flower and Garden Festival is complete without a Violet Lemonade. 

We love wandering around Epcot in the evening with either a Prosecco from Italy or a glass of wine from France. 

My standard cocktail order whenever we go to Shula's Steakhouse. Blueberry Martini! 

Glow-tini at the Yachtsman Steakhouse. You'd have thought the lure of this cocktail was all in the souvenir glowcube (some of it definitely is), but it does taste really good too. 

What are your favourite drinks at Walt Disney World? I'm forever on the hunt for tasty (and instagrammable) beverages!