Thursday, 27 July 2017

Meet Jessie the Corgi!

We're now the proud owners of a Pembroke Welsh Corgi! Jessie is sixteen weeks old and she's been in our lives for six days so far.

I've gone from never having a pet (apart from lots of goldfish) to not being able to imagine life without this energetic ball of fur. She makes me smile every day, however mischievous she's been, and I love that warm fuzzy feeling I get when she curls up on my lap to go to sleep. Even when I've frantically been shouting 'Jessie, no!' for the last hour and a half, it's all worth it when she settles down with me for a cwtch.

We obviously had to have a Disney name for our puppy, and we eventually decided on Jessie (Toy Story 2/3). They've both got red hair, after all. We bought an adorable Minnie Mouse collar when we were in Walt Disney World a couple of months ago, just to cement the Disney theme, and I'm completely in love with the way it looks on her.

I also bought some puppy milestone cards from Kessey Crafts ready for Jessie's arrival and I've managed to use a couple of them to document her journey so far. There's just one problem... I can't put the cards too close to her while she's awake because she tries to eat them!

Jessie loves to chew EVERYTHING and she's never happier than when she's galloping around outside, either in the garden or on a walk, and chewing an interesting leaf/flower/stick. She's such a friendly little thing and won't let anyone walk by without making a fuss of her, but she might try to chew their bag or their walking stick if they're not careful! Although she has her wild half hours, she actually sleeps a lot more than I expected. She's found some unexpected places to curl up, including on our fireplace and on the shelf underneath our coffee table.

We bought a few toys for Jessie before she arrived and she's also been lucky enough to receive lots of toys from our friends and family. She's very clever and quickly finds the squeaker in her toys, much to our delight!

I was determined that I wouldn't be one of those people who sets up a separate Instagram account for their dogs, but by her second day with us I'd done a U-turn on that because she was completely taking over my own account. You can follow Jessie on Instagram here - don't forget to watch her Instagram stories as well as checking out her photos.

Has anyone else blogged about their new puppies? Do you have any tips for me? Let me know! 

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Restaurant Review: Moksh

If you've read my last blog post, you'll know that I had one of my three monthly check ups at the hospital last Friday. We always make an effort to go to a special restaurant in the evening after these check ups, and this time we decided to try somewhere brand new based on lots of positive recommendations from various friends - Moksh in Cardiff Bay.

We booked our table for 7pm and it was pretty quiet when we arrived. We'd already decided that we'd spoil ourselves and go for a three course meal as the starters and desserts sounded just as amazing as the main courses. I also treated myself to a glass of Prosecco as it was technically a celebratory meal, and it wasn't much more expensive than a soft drink!

I was torn between quite a few starters, but I finally decided on the Chicken James a la Indiana with CO2 Essence. What on earth is CO2 essence, I hear you ask? I wondered exactly the same thing... 

Don't ask me about the science behind it, but the waitress poured water into the container above and it erupted into an impressive steam show which smelt of cinnamon. I am quite easily impressed, but I thought this was a great spectacle. The food itself was really good, and was a deceptively large portion for a starter. There's half a naan bread hiding underneath all that chicken and sauce!

For my main meal, I decided to go for chicken again and ordered the A.D.I.D.A.S. (All Day I Dream About Spherification). It came with rice which meant I didn't have to worry about side orders, and it sounded very intriguing. 

It was completely different to what I was expecting, but it looked absolutely amazing. The spheres were visually impressive and full of fruity flavour, and the chicken was beautifully flavoured too. Oh, and there was LOADS of it. It also came with a chilli Cantonese inspired sauce which was a little spicy, but not overly so. The sauce meant that the meal wasn't too dry and 'samey' and was the perfect accompaniment. 

We also ordered a garlic and coriander buttered naan to share which was really tasty. It was quite thin which suited me fine as I didn't have room for a big wedge of naan bread on this occasion!  

Although we were very full after our main course, we heroically decided to go ahead with our original plan of ordering desserts as they sounded so unique and unlike anything we'd ever had elsewhere. I went for the Arabian Nights dessert which came with pistachio mousse, curry ice cream, dates meringue, gold dusted sweet hummus macaroon, edible sand and the magic lamp. 

There aren't many things I love more than an instagrammable dessert. The magic lamp was similar to CO2 essence I had with my starter, but even more aesthetically pleasing as the steam came out of the spout and tiny little holes on the lid to give a bit of a mystical effect, The pistachio mousse was probably my favourite element of this dessert, closely followed by the macaroon and the meringue. The curry ice cream didn't do it for me unfortunately as I didn't think the combination of flavours worked very well. However, I've heard others raving about it so it's just down to personal taste. 

The service was quite slow when the restaurant got busier towards the end of the evening, but the staff were all polite and we weren't in a rush so we didn't mind. The restaurant is quite small and doesn't feel overly crowded, and I loved it that everything was colour coordinated (orange, in case you were wondering). This was one of our more expensive meals in the UK at £78 but, considering the quality and quantity of the food and the special atmosphere, as well as the unique nature of the experience, we thought it was worth it.  

I also appreciated the opportunity to get dressed up and to put some make up on... I've been struggling lately and hadn't made an effort with my make up on for about a month, so it was nice to spend some time getting ready for a nice occasion! 

Have you ever been to Moksh? What did you think? 

Thursday, 13 July 2017

A year on, and it's not getting any easier

This was originally supposed to be a cheery blog post about my birthday. However, I found my birthday really difficult this year and I’ve been in a bit of a downward spiral ever since, so I thought I’d write an honest account of how I’m coping instead.

All the anniversaries are coming up for the horrors I went through last year. It’s been just over a year since my smear test, and on Saturday it’ll be a year since I received that terrifying letter. All those dates are etched in my mind and I can’t erase them. My mind keeps lurching back to this time twelve months ago and I can’t do a single thing to stop it.

My birthday was particularly difficult because I kept thinking back to my 30th birthday last year. I had no idea that there were cancerous cells multiplying inside me and I enjoyed a lovely few weeks of celebrating with family and friends. I was doing well in my job, I was looking forward to our holiday in September, we were making lots of exciting plans for the future, and it felt as if things were looking up. Then, out of nowhere, my whole life got turned upside down and everything fell apart.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that everything still feels just as bad (if not worse) and as raw as it did right at the beginning of this cruel journey. I’ve suffered a huge loss, and I’m grieving. Grieving that I’ll never carry my own child or experience any of the milestones that go along with that, grieving that cancer has taken something so precious and irreplaceable away from me, grieving about the impact this has had on my husband and other family members, and grieving that this had to happen to me.

I always feel as if I need to try to be positive, or try to be grateful that the cancer was caught early. But actually, right now, I don’t feel positive and I most certainly don’t feel grateful. I feel angry, sad, anxious and isolated. And, to top it all off, I feel guilty about not feeling positive or grateful.

Most people probably aren’t aware that I’m still going back to the hospital every three months for check-up appointments. Although it’s reassuring that I’m seen regularly, these appointments are hideous. The stress and anxiety beforehand, the drive to the same hospital where it all took place, sitting in the same waiting room where I sat for 45 minutes before hearing the worst news of my life, the discomfort of the appointment itself, that hollow feeling when the doctor tells you ‘it’s all fine, nothing to worry about’ but deep down you feel as if nothing will ever feel fine again… it’s all hideous. I’ve got one of these appointments tomorrow and my stomach is currently tied in knots and has been for weeks.

I live in constant fear of big gatherings where I don’t know many people just in case someone obliviously asks me ‘so, when are you having kids?’ I want to yell ‘are you crazy?!’ at people who ask me if I want to hold their newborn babies, but I just smile and politely decline. I feel sick when I’m within earshot of a conversation I feel uncomfortable with, and I still feel as if I’ve been punched in the gut whenever the tiniest of triggers pops up as I scroll through my social media feeds or turn on the TV. I sometimes lie awake for hours with thoughts tumbling around in my head, and it takes every fiber of strength I possess to get out of bed in the morning on a really bad day. And those niggling physical symptoms I mentioned in a previous post? They're all still there. My inner critical voice is constantly screaming that this was supposed to get easier with time, so why is it getting harder?

Possibly the biggest struggle of all is feeling as if I can’t talk to anyone about what’s going on in my own head. I’ve become steadily more skilful at hiding my feelings and pretending everything is fine, and it's become pretty commonplace for me to go a whole day on the brink of tears without letting them spill over. If they do threaten to spill over of their own accord when everything gets too much, I escape to the toilet for ten minutes then emerge with puffy eyes and carry on with whatever I was doing. I often wonder why people aren’t asking me if I’m okay and why they just don’t ‘get’ the enormity of it all, but in reality I’ve probably become so good at pretending that other people wholeheartedly believe the lie. I’m caught up in an endless cycle of feeling low, then feeling lower because I feel so isolated. I rage internally because I’d prefer it if people just said ‘I don’t know what to say’ rather than not saying anything, but perhaps people don’t even realise that I need them to say anything at all.

Even now, I still feel as if I should try to finish this post on some kind of positive note or with a 'things will get better and I need to stay strong' platitude. However, for today, I’m going to leave it on this more honest note instead.

Cancer may have left my body ten months ago, but it will never ever leave my life.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

My Walt Disney World shopping haul

I always have a major case of the holiday blues when I come back from Walt Disney World, and this year was no exception. In order to combat the inevitable post-Disney sadness, it was obviously essential that I bought plenty of goodies to help with the cheering up process once I got home. This was also our first holiday since my operation last September and the resulting all-clear, so we quite rightly thought we deserved to treat ourselves.

Along with our Disney Dining Plan deal which I've already explained in a previous post, we also received a $100 gift card with our booking to spend on Disney merchandise. Gift cards are just fantastic, aren't they? Guilt-free spending!

I put together a pre-holiday shopping wishlist before I went away, and this actually helped me to focus my mind and narrow down my choices when I was surrounded by all the Disney merchandise you could ever wish for.

So, what did we buy in Walt Disney World this year?

This beauty was a special present from Neil and my parents. It was partly an early birthday present and partly a gift to mark everything I've been through over the last year. I've wanted a Disney Dooney & Bourke bag since the first time I set foot in Florida five years ago and I absolutely adore it! 

I also bought a new charm for my ever-growing Disney Pandora bracelet. I decided on the firework charm on the left hand side as it'll always remind me of the last time I saw Wishes at the Magic Kingdom. I also bought these Disney pens which are proving to be excellent photo props... 

I bought three Disney teddies this year to add to my extensive collection - Minnie Mouse in her pink and white dress, a special edition ShellieMay from the 2017 Flower and Garden Festival, and Baymax! Oh, and there's those pens again. 

I love this Minnie Mouse tshirt. It was so difficult to choose just one from the vast array of choices available and I didn't manage to make the decision until our penultimate evening!

I'm now the proud owner of a Chip mug. I bought it in Florida because I couldn't get hold of it in the UK, and since I've come back there are hundreds of them in Cardiff's Disney Store. You live and learn. 

This mug was Neil's choice. As I said in my last blog post, how on earth can two circles and a line be so cute?! An excellent addition to our overflowing mug cupboard. 

My parents-in-law have these coasters in their house and I've always loved them, so I was delighted when I finally got my hands on a set for our own house. I love the little Mickey holder!

I can't possibly go to Walt Disney World without bringing back a fridge magnet. 

I did tell myself sternly that I wouldn't buy any costumes for Duffy and ShellieMay this year, but I couldn't leave this Lady costume behind! In my defence, I managed not to buy any Duffy costumes so I did keep to half my side of the bargain. 

My new Disney gym bag makes every exercise session a little more appealing (and my old gym bag was literally falling apart at the seams). 

We're getting a puppy in a few weeks so we took the opportunity to buy her some Disney treats in advance of her arrival. We bought two bowls, a Minnie Mouse collar for her first few months, and a purple collar and matching lead which she can wear when she's a little bigger. She'll almost definitely have a Disney dog name... watch this space. 

I also bought two pairs of Mickey earrings (one in silver and one in rose gold), but I couldn't get a decent photograph of them so you'll just have to imagine what they look like I'm afraid. 

I absolutely love all my Disney purchases and they do go some way towards helping with those pesky holiday blues. 

Have you blogged about your Walt Disney World shopping hauls recently? Send me your links!