The RunDisney Castaway Cay Challenge

Yes hi, I am still talking about all the running that I did in January – I think its because I haven’t done any running since so I’m looking back on better times!

So many people thought that I was mad enough to run a FRICKIN’ MARATHON midway through my holiday in January, and most of these people were even more baffled to find out that only a few days after running the longest distance of my life AND while still on holiday, I ran a further 5K race, but here me out on the logic behind it.

You see, I wanted another medal.. Yep, that’s basically it.

Every January, following the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, the Disney Dream cruise ship sets sail from Port Canaveral for a 4 night cruise. Its the same route and same cruise that the Dream does from Port Canaveral all the time, but this one particular sailing is jam packed full of runners recovering from their weekend races, who have mostly all booked it for the RunDisney Castaway Cay Challenge.

The challenge is this: if you participate in any race during the WDW Marathon Weekend – so this could be as little as the 5K – you can sign up for the challenge, which means that on the morning that the Dream docks at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, you take part in a special RunDisney organised 5K on the island, and as well as receiving the standard Castaway Cay 5K, which any guest can earn on any cruise that stops at the island, challenge participants also receive this challenge medal to round off their collection.

As with all other WDW Marathon Weekend events, bib and t-shirt pickup was done at the RunDisney expo at ESPN Wide World of Sports, but t-shirt exchange and merchandise were only available on the ship itself. Merch itself seemed a little lacking to me, there was a pin, a hanging ornament and a tech t-shirt available in two different colours, and that was all – although you could also buy a normal Castaway Cay 5K t-shirt in the gift shop on the island itself.

The challenge 5K starts earlier than the usual race, and takes a slightly different course around the island, meaning that if anyone is mad enough to want to take place in both 5Ks that will happen that morning, there’s a bit of variety. We had to meet in the ship’s theatre at crazy o’clock in the morning, and there were some drinks and bananas available there. There was a brief introduction and then each corral was led off the ship and to the start line, which was quite a walk away from the boat and it was still pretty dark at the time, but the sun had started to rise before the race kicked off.

Mickey and Goofy led us through a pre-race warm-up, and each corral were set loose on the island. There was only A, B and C, about 700 people participating, so it felt tiny compared to the other races I had done the weekend before, but it felt a lot less pressured with fewer people about. We started and ended on the island’s disused runway, and along the way there a handful of characters including Stitch, Vacation Genie, Captain Hook and Max, which was a nice surprise as I wasn’t expecting any characters on the course.

Despite recovering from the marathon relatively well, I found the first 3k HARD work, but we took it nice and easy and many people were walking – it all felt very relaxed. By the last mile my legs had found their strength again and we ran most of the leg, nicknamed by the cast members as the Ring of Fire, probably because it felt like it went on FOREVER, and then all of a sudden we were at the finish line! The finish line was complete with the usual bottles of water, bananas and snacks – I swear I still can’t face bananas – but there was also a bar set up where guests could purchase champagne and cocktails etc.

Doing the 5K was a really great way to see the island a bit before the rest of the guests descended on it, and you can stay on the island from then onwards, but we were starving and in need of a Cabanas breakfast, so we went back to the ship to eat and shower before the day of fun ahead of us!

Another one off the RunDisney bucket list!

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Hi, yes, I do care about my Instagram followers thanks

I know I’ve written a similar post to this in the past, but in light of the recent Instagram ‘glitch’, and that my opinion on this now comes from a slightly different standpoint, I thought I would come out and say this again.

Yes, I know that social media is just that – a website or an app – and followers ‘shouldn’t matter’, but I’m gonna be straight with y’all here: they do to me.

You see, in the last 9 months or so, my social media pages have become less about me personally, and more about my small business. I took my Etsy shop full time back in July after leaving my accounting job to relocate, and it’s been absolutely wonderful. It’s always been my dream to be self-employed, and being able to do something creative and to my own rules to boot, I’ve loved every second*

*Except, ironically, the accounting.

It’s also no secret that the way that people are swayed by trends and products now is mainly through social media. Brands now focus a lot more on social media marketing, full-time bloggers and influencers have become a legitimate thing and I’m honestly just so grateful that I had a blogging background when I decided to start my shop as it meant I knew all of this from the start, and so my Instagram page has become less about my blog and life, and more about my business, which I am totally cool with.

BUT this does change the pressures on it. Yes I am still very much me on Instagram, and I still use it as a social outlet, but probably 80% of what I consciously do on Instagram now is promote my business. The more I grow, the more people see my creations, the more people become potential customers, and as a small business this is SUPER important.

During the Instagram glitch, I lost almost 200 followers. No big deal, some might say, right? So I’ll just have to wait a bit longer until I hit my next follower milestone, that’s not the end of the world? You might think that and honestly I’m not offended if you do, but from my perspective, that’s 200 potential customers lost. That’s 200 people who may not have seen that I released a new product yesterday. That could be the difference between me being able to pay my mortgage this month or not.

My business aside, there are so many full-time bloggers and influencers out there who could lose out on work if they lost their followers. I may have only lost 200 followers but I know of others who lost thousands. That could be the difference between working with a particular brand or not.

I know this might all be sounding a little dramatic, but I just want to reduce the stigma around people being upset about losing followers, or even just not being able to gain them. We all know how hard it can be to gain followers on Instagram these days, so even if you’re not reliant on your follower count for your income, you’ve probably still worked pretty hard to get to where you are with it, right? Just be mindful about slamming people for something that might be important to them, even if it’s not important to you.

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Colourpop Chasing Rainbows Palette – Swatches and Thoughts

What’s that? Another Colourpop palette added to my collection? I’m not even gonna pretend this was an accident..

I asked my mum for Chasing Rainbows for Christmas, perfectly timed with a 48 hour free international shipping offer, and although that meant I had to wait until New Years to get it, I’ve never found Colourpop products to not be worth the wait.

So this is the fourth Colourpop palette that I have reviewed on here, and if you look back over all the previous ones, you would quite easily come to the conclusion that I have a thing for bright eyeshadows, and that is 100% true, which is why this particular palette jumped out at me – well, that and the super cute packaging..

As the name of the palette also suggests, the range of colours covers a good amount of the colour spectrum, with some staple browns and golds to round it out, and as the swatches below show, the pigmentation is of a classic amazing Colourpop standard.

Left to right: Realness, Feeling It, So Meta, Blurred Lines, Wiggles

Left to right: Not Playing, Keep Cool, Manifest It, Wish List, Woke

Top to bottom: Lucid, Bring It, On One, Eclipse, Prism

I really like the versatility of Colourpop palettes; it makes life so much easier when I’m travelling if I can take just one palette but am able to produce a whole bunch of different looks from it, and this is no exception. Special mention goes to the shade Lucid, which on first look didn’t look like my cup of tea, but when I swatched it I discovered its blue-ish duo-tone effect which is really beautiful.

I feel like I’m often spouting the same spiel when it comes to Colourpop, but the fact is in my eyes there’s not a whole lot they can do wrong.

PS I’m super interested in trying out their No Filter Foundation, so if anyone has ever tried it or reviewed it, please let me know in the comments below!

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February Focus

I tell you what, if you ever want January to go quickly, go on holiday. I’ve never been so shocked to find that we’re at the end of the month.

February is always a decent month in my eyes. Its just 4 little weeks that always seem to fly by, not to mention one of my favourite national holidays (I know its not a real holiday) Pancake day. Its just really manageable, y’know? And much like how I feel about Mondays, I always enjoy the fresh start that a new month brings, and having come back from an amazing holiday with a renewed sense of motivation and drive for the rest of the year, I’m bringing all that energy into February with some new goals and plans for the 4 weeks ahead.

Reorganised office

Towards the end of 2018 I was so caught up with finishing up Christmas orders and then making sure I had everything ready for our trip in January that I let my office get a little chaotic and a messy work space is not helping my productivity BUT I am already in the process of sorting it all out. I’ve got shelves that I still haven’t put up since moving in, so that’s first on the list and then I just want to streamline and tidy everything up so that I can take the rest of the year by storm.

House to-do list

In the last week Matthew and I have been trying to make a dent in the to-do list for the rest of the house – basically the stuff we’ve been putting off because its not vital – but there’s still quite a bit left to do and I’d really like to get through as much of it as we can while momentum is on our side.

Mini-goal weight

One of my New Years resolutions was to regain the body confidence that I lost in 2018, and for the first time in ages I’ve actually been successfully losing weight over the last few weeks. I’m already 5lbs down on what I weighed at the end of December, and although I know that the number on the scale isn’t everything, I’m also feeling so much better. I’m not following any particular plan, just eating better and hitting the gym as usual but I seem to be doing something right, and although I’m not going to divulge the number, I have a particular weight that I would like to hit by the end of Feb and I’m feeling pretty positive about getting there.

Work and save

If there’s any month that’s best for setting a spending ban, its February. January sales are over, there’s no more parties or presents to buy, and if nothing else, its shorter than every other month so you’ve got a better chance of sticking it out for 2-3 days less. So the plan is to get my head down and be too busy with work to spend any money, and just pray that I don’t stumble across anything that I’ll want to break the ban for!

Happy times and happy habits

With January being a bit of a blur for me, going into February I am ready to hunker down and get myself into a good routine with self care, positivity and life in general. They say it takes 21 days to make a habit, and I’ve got 28 to get it right, so let’s go February!

Are you up to much this coming month?

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Things I’m Doing to Love Instagram Right Now

You know, it’s really starting to feel super cliche when I complain about Instagram; it’s just not what it used to be.

On the flip side though, I do have to think that back when our feeds were chronological and the dreaded algorithm didn’t really exist, I didn’t have the following that I do now, so truthfully I can never really compare engagement, and maybe even I wouldn’t have my 5000+ followers now if not for the changes. Who knows, right?

Despite all this, I honestly do still love Instagram. It’s my favourite social media platform because I feel it’s where I can be the most creative, and it’s gone from a place where I post occasional life and holiday photos and promote my blog, to all of this plus being the primary place where I promote my business and a place where I’ve made a lot of really good friends.

Over the last few weeks I’ve made a couple of changes in how I approach Instagram, and honestly they’ve all really boosted my positivity around the platform, and have also possibly contributed to an increase in engagement for me as well!

Getting chatty

I see so many rumours and theories flying around about what helps boost posts and I really don’t know where they come from or if they’re true, but supposedly comments really help. Whether this is urban legend or not, I’m actively making sure that if I scroll past a photo and have a thought about it eg ‘ooh I’d love to go to this place’ or ‘wow I need those shorts’, I put that thought into writing. If nothing else, I know how much I love getting comments so if all I’ve really done is given someone a little internal ‘yay’ then it’s a success in my eyes.

Now I don’t know if this is coincidental, or possibly that other people are having the same thoughts as me, but I have noticed since doing this that I am getting more comments and generally more likes, especially within the first few hours of posting, so I might be on to a winner. If nothing else though, I feel pretty good about it.

New editing software

I went from ‘what is this Lightroom thing that everyone’s banging on about?’ to ‘wow this is fantastic’ in approximately 2.5 seconds. Sure I still don’t fully understand it but I’m having fun winging my way through it! And yes, I guess it is just another additional step I’ve created for myself before being able to post to Instagram, but I really enjoy editing photos and I really love the results.

Planning ahead a little

I really take pride in my Instagram, so it does stress me out sometimes when I can’t find the perfect photo to post and sometimes that means I don’t post for days which makes me sad. I know this might sound ridiculous to a lot of people, but like I said earlier it’s one of my biggest creative outlets so while it may just be Instagram, it’s kinda like an artistic wanting to paint but not having any brushes. You get me?

Anyway, I’m tackling this head on with my handy sidekick, the app UNUM, which I’ve had for about a year now. I don’t religiously plan my posts, but I do like to know what I’m doing for the next day or two, with maybe a couple of blank spaces for ‘of the moment’ inspiration, just like I do with my blog posts, and it means I’ve always got something to fall back on if inspiration is lacking a little.

Staggering photos

I came back from my recent Disney trip with, no joke, THOUSANDS of photos. I posted maybe 2-3 photos a day while I was out there, but especially being on the cruise for a few days with no WiFi, I still have so many photos that haven’t seen the light of Instagram yet. Sure, I could post them all back to back, but I sometimes worry people will get sick of them and I also like to keep some content back to fill the gaps between trips (not that I’ve really got many gaps this year if all goes to plan!), so I spread them out between current photos for variety.

Not getting too hung up on numbers

No one likes not being liked, I get that, but Instagram is a weird and wonderful place full of bitchy politics and bots, and I’m just learning to accept that. Fact is, if you’ve seen your follower count drop overnight, it’s more likely to be courtesy of bots dropping out or accounts being deleted or deactivated that it is that many people making the conscious decision to take you off their feed. Hakuna matata.

As for people playing the follow/unfollow game, I just think that they must be having a really miserable time on Instagram if they feel the need to do that all the time, so they can do them and I’ll just be over here having a fabulous time because it’s so much easier than stressing over it.

At the end of the day, I know its just an app, but its also an app that is very important to me for a lot of reasons, so its so much easier to enjoy what I’m doing on there, don’t you think?

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The cariPRO Ultrasonic Toothbrush from Smile Brilliant | AD

The following post contains some affiliate links and features a gifted product. All views are my own.

Let’s face it, we all feel better when we look good, right? Well, the truth is I can be a little lax in that area, and it does affect my mental health, so one of my personal New Years resolutions for 2019 was that I wanted to spend a bit more time taking care of myself and my appearance.

At first, I thought that this would be taking a bit more time to do my makeup, or being stricter with my skincare routine, and it never even really dawned on me that I could also benefit from focusing more on my oral hygiene, until I was contacted by Smile Brilliant to try out their new electric toothbrush, the cariPRO Ultrasonic.

I don’t think I’ve ever really used an electric toothbrush before, except maybe a kiddy one as a child, so I was excited to see if brushing with a little bit of power would actually make the difference that you always see dental adverts claiming. I’ve never really had any concerns about my teeth; I’ve never had a filling, braces or really needed any sort of treatment, so I’ve always thought I was doing just fine with a manual toothbrush, but how do I feel now?

My first impressions of the cariPRO toothbrush were surprising. I expected it to be quite heavy in the hand and bulky compared to the manual toothbrushes that I’m used to, but it was surprisingly lightweight and a lot slimmer than other electric toothbrushes I’ve seen before, and its soft touch grip means it holds really nicely. The brush head is quite a bit smaller than on a manual toothbrush but this makes it easier to focus on each tooth individually to get a great clean all over.

The cariPRO has five different brushing modes – Clean, Whiten, Massage, Gum Care and Sensitive – with each one having a different vibrating effect, and it also has a built-in 2 minute timer, and every 30 seconds there’s a small pause to indicate when you should be moving on to the next section of your mouth, which is super handy if, like me, you never really stop to think about how long you’ve been brushing for. The toothbrush also comes with extra brush heads, a wireless charging dock and a 2 year warranty – oh, and did I mention its totally waterproof?!

But are my teeth cleaner?

Well, they definitely feel it, but not only does using the toothbrush make my mouth feel better, it also actually makes me want to clean my teeth. I now like taking the time to brush thoroughly, alternate between the different brush modes and ensure that I am getting a full 2 minute brush in, whereas before I used to see cleaning my teeth as a bit of a chore.

Are you interested?

Well it might just be your lucky day because I’ve teamed up with Smile Brilliant to give you the chance to win your very own cariPRO Ultrasonic Electric Toothbrush by simply clicking hereAnd if you don’t win or you can’t wait to try it out for yourself, you can save 20% off your purchase using discount code ‘lottiedoes20‘ at the checkout, so everyone’s a winner really!

Be sure to head over to the Smile Brilliant website to see all the other excellent products they have on offer, and check out the FAQ page if you want to know anything else!

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electric toothbrush
//www.smilebrilliant.com/widget-caripro-article/lottiedoes/773/228

My January Trip Disney Haul

I’m normally that person who leaves it FAR too long to unpack their suitcase after coming back from holiday, so I’m pretty shocked by myself that I am unpacked with the washing done within only a few days of arriving back. I mean sure, I partly did this so that I could do this haul post, but I usually just unpack the washing and my new buys and leave the rest for as long as I can get away with, so this is impressive for me.

This haul is a combination of buys from Walt Disney World, RunDisney merch and some purchases I made during our Disney Cruise on the Dream!

I felt like I didn’t go too overboard with shopping while in the parks, mainly due to the fact that the big expense of the trip was my Walt Disney World annual pass – Matthew and I are hoping to go back a couple of times this year and with our DVC discount it was much more cost effective to get APs than regular tickets! For this very reason I felt justified in buying a couple of magic bands, millennial pink and light turquoise, as well as choosing an orange AP magic band, just so I’ve got options, y’know.. It also meant that on our final day in the parks, which was the first day of Epcot’s Festival of Arts, we could pick up an annual pass holder magnet from Mouse Gear!

The other things I knew that I wanted was a DVC Alex and Ani bracelet, which Matthew bought for me, and the Its a Small World spirit jersey (because did you ever see anything so ME?!) and I also couldn’t resist buying the new Mickey celebration sipper cup!

The Small World spirit jersey was not the only spirit jersey purchase of the trip.. Well I had to round off my collection with the new RunDisney spirit jersey and the navy/rose gold Disney Cruise Line one, so I now have one of all the Disney spirit jerseys!

As well as the cruise spirit jersey, I also bought the Castaway Cay Challenge pin and this cute little cruise cupcake pin which was in a blind bag, and Matthew also bought me the DCL Alex and Ani!

I always try to be restrained at RunDisney expos, and in all fairness I do tend to be happy with the participant t-shirts that runners are given for taking part in the races, so I rarely buy any extra t-shirts at the expo, but as I’m going to shout about it for the rest of my life, I couldn’t not buy the ‘I did it’ t-shirt for the marathon, as well as the headband, and I also bought the mini medal replica pin!

The bottom two photos are the participant t-shirts for the 10K, marathon and Castaway Cay Challenge, and the ear hat was also given out at the end of the marathon which I was very happy about – I even got it embroidered! (or at least my friends did while I tried to recover from running..)

So mainly pins and spirit jerseys, but I’m pretty happy with all my buys, even if my credit card doesn’t exactly agree..

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