The Happiest Wrapping on Earth*

Honestly, November has FLOWN by. Its now officially less than a month until Christmas, and I’m feeling super unprepared, but one thing I have got under my belt now, courtesy of the wonderful CoconuTacha, is some incredible Disney inspired wrapping paper, so at least when I do get my Christmas shopping done, the paper is all wrapped up, if you pardon the pun..

Tacha is an incredibly talented UK based graphic designer, and I love the unique style of each of the park icons featured on this wrapping paper. In each set you get 3 A2 size sheets of wrapping paper, plus 4 gift tags, so you’re completely covered for all your wrapping needs.

The paper is a really high quality – way nicer than your regular supermarket roll! – with a glossy finish, and its so beautiful that this is the kind of paper that you’ll want to unwrap carefully so you can keep it again! Also a great secondary use would be as a photo backdrop for blog photos – I may just keep a sheet for myself for this very reason!

And if you’re on the hunt for a cute little stocking filler, Secret Santa gift or just something to treat yourself with, Tacha also has this limited edition ‘Magic Castle’ enamel pin available on her store. Its so pretty and so different from any other castle pins I’ve seen and the colours are stunning together, and for £5 its a steal!

Cute wrapping idea: attach a pin to the gift tag of your present!

There’s currently 10% off both the wrapping paper and pin until the end of today so if you like what you see, head on over to Etsy now, and even if you’ve got your wrapping paper sorted, you should definitely check out Tacha’s designs on both her Etsy store where you’ll find an amazing selection of stationery, planner stickers, art prints and more, and also on Redbubble where you can get her designs on everything from t-shirts to phone cases.

Are you Christmas ready yet?

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*The items featured in this blog post were sent to me, but all views are my own.

Smells Like Magic* – Maple and Whisky Candle Review

I can’t believe that exactly one year ago Matthew and I were having the most magical time in Walt Disney World! I mean, I know we’ve had the craziest and most incredible year since then, but it still sucks.

In the crazy last year we’ve had though, we did buy our first house, and we’ve spent a lot of time turning it into the home that we love, with a big part of that being adding magical touches throughout to remind ourselves of our favourite places.

Maple and Whisky produce the most incredible scented candles inspired by your favourite Disney memories, including park foods like Mickey Waffles, rides like Soarin’ and resorts like The Grand. Quite frankly, if there’s a smell in a Disney park that you love, chances are, they’ve got it!

I’ve been a lover of Maple and Whisky for a few years now – I’ve got a constant stock of their wax melts on hand! – and they were super kind recently to send me three candles of my choosing to review, which meant I could fill the new house with some magical smells, although the hardest part was choosing just three! I took the opportunity to try two scents I’ve never had before, and to also get a new jar of my favourite M+W scent, Campfire Singalong.

Campfire Singalong smells truly of just that. Imagine toasting marshmallows and melting chocolate on an open fire at a Disney resort, and that’s what this is in a jar – its heavenly! For me, this is the ultimate autumn/winter candle as it fills the room with a wonderful warm scent and glow, but be warned, may cause chocolate cravings!

The second scent I chose was Beach Club, inspired by its eponymous Walt Disney World resort, and I chose it because our of all the resorts in WDW, this is my dream resort which I would absolutely LOVE to stay in one day! The smell is fresh and clean and it really does make me feel like I’ve just stepped into the air-conditioned lobby while taking a walk around the Boardwalk resort loop.

Finally, I picked Spirit of Aloha, which is inspired by the smell of the lobby at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. This time last year when we were in WDW was when Matthew and I joined Disney Vacation Club, and Polynesian is our home resort, so I wanted a candle to remind us of our second ‘home’! Not being the biggest fan of pineapple (and not having a super clear memory in my head of what the resort smelt like), I was slightly worried that I wouldn’t like this one, but actually its lovely! The pineapple is there, but its not at all in your face and is nicely balanced with hints of coconut.

Maple and Whisky offer candles in two sizes, 8oz and 12oz, as well as wax melts, room sprays and reed diffusers. The candles I received were the 8oz size, and they last a good long while! They’ve recently changed the design of their labels, so these aren’t exactly what they look like now but the new labels are even better!

What I absolutely love about these over other scented candles is that not only do they smell amazing up close, but they actually fill the whole room with their glorious scents, and that happens almost instantly, whereas even some big brand candles only smell when you stick your nose into the jar! I would absolutely recommend these candles, and as well as these scents some of my favourites are Adventure is Out There (grape soda scented), Butterbeer (for the Potterheads), Rice Krispie Treats and Sugar Rush! Head on over to their Etsy store to see more!

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*I was sent these candles for the purpose of review, but all words and views are my own.

The Perfect Cabin Suitcase

For someone who travels quite a lot, I’m almost ashamed to say that I have never used a cabin-sized suitcase until now. Whenever I’ve travelled hand luggage only I’ve kept myself to backpacks and holdalls, and while that has always been fine for me as I don’t do it often, I figured that as I now have the advantage of using Matthew’s staff travel to get super cheap flights, I’ll be going hand luggage only quite a bit more from here on out!

Another thing that swayed me was how adorable this suitcase is, so I decided to treat myself to the Minnie Mouse suitcase by American Tourister from the Disney Store website, and isn’t it a beaut?! I already have a large American Tourister case which I got for Christmas last year and I LOVE, so I knew that it would be a great investment.

Its a hard shell case with four wheels, and a built in 3-digit combination lock that the zip pulls click into, so you can secure it without having to worry about having a lock that needs a key.

The inside of the case it just as pretty as the outside, with its pretty pink and blue lining and details, and what I love about the AT cases compared to other brands I’ve seen is that it was a proper zipped divider that fully separates the top section of the case, and also has a big pocket built into it, which is the perfect size for 3-4 pairs of Mickey ears. The main compartment also has a little side pocket, which is perfect for charging cables and other little bits, and the strap keeps everything nicely packed in place!

The first outing of my case was my Disneyland Paris trip last month, and I easily managed to fit all my clothes and other bits for 4 days and still have a good amount of space, which given that I was packing summery clothes means I don’t think I’d have any problems packing 3-4 days of thicker wintery clothes.

The size of the case of course meets the size requirements of a cabin bag with most, if not all airlines, and I had absolutely no problem fitting it into an overhead locker on my EasyJet flight. The case wheels like a dream so walking through airports is no problem at all and it is just the cutest case ever, so if you do ever check it into the hold then you’ll have no problem spotting it on a luggage belt!

American Tourister do quite a big range of Disney designs, as well as normal styles, which you can usually get cheapest on Amazon. As I mentioned earlier, I also have a large Donald Duck suitcase which is the perfect size for a 2 week trip and just as amazing as this one, so I definitely sing the praises of all of their cases!

If I don’t make another little trip before then, the next trip this case will make will be to Walt Disney World in January!

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W7 Blazin’ Palette Review

So a few weeks ago I mentioned that I’d bought a couple of W7 palettes from TKMaxx, and shared the first one which I thought to be a potential dupe for a Too Faced palette. Today I’m reviewing the second palette, which I think could also be a possible dupe, but this time for Urban Decay’s Naked Heat eyeshadow palette, but as I don’t own that I can’t really do a side by side comparison!

So this is the W7 Blazin’ palette. The RRP is £9.95, but I picked it up from TKMaxx for £4.99, and looking around you can get it from a lot of places for under £5.

As with most of the W7 palettes, it comes in a tin form, and its quite a sizeable one, but I think it looks the part and the outside definitely gives a good indication of what’s to come on the inside. There’s also a double-ended brush included, but one end is a foamy applicator which I personally don’t like so won’t use, but the other end is fine!

The inside, however, is when it really starts to look like its Urban Decay counterpart, and looking at photos of Naked Heat the shades do seem to match up pretty well, but as I said I can’t do an exact comparison! I started off by swatching the shades, and the below swatches are one layer using just my finger.

First off, I really liked the feel of the formula – it was soft and buttery to touch, but when using a brush later on it did have a little bit of crumble to it but I personally like my shadows to be a bit powdery as it means they get picked up well by all brushes. I thought the pigmentation was really good for something that cost less than £5, with the middle shades coming off best I thought – my forearms are super super pale so I always struggle to get whiter shades to show up when I swatch them, but as you can see in the second swatch photo they did hold out ok, and when using them on my eyes I’ve had no problems. I felt like the darker colours could have been a little darker, but it really doesn’t bother me as those are the ones that I know I won’t use so much.

I have had a lot of fun playing around with this palette! There are a lot of looks that you can create, which surprised me considering there’s not much range in terms of colour, and I was also uncertain as I’ve not been much of a reddish shadow kinda girl before, but going into autumn I think this is definitely a palette I will use a lot. The colours build and blend like a dream and there’s a good mix of matte and shimmery shades so you’ve got all bases covered! W7 is also a cruelty free brand, so for £5 I have absolutely no complaints about this palette, and now I don’t need to fork out £30 for the Urban Decay Naked Heat one!

If you do have Naked Heat, let me know how you think these photos/swatches compare, I’d love to know!

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Mahabis Slippers – The Best Thing Ever?

From the first time I saw the advert on the tv, I knew I needed these slippers, and when I got my annual bonus back in March, I treated myself to a pair of Mahabis.

To the untrained eye, these might just seem like a regular pair of slippers, but the beauty of Mahabis is that each pair comes with a pair of rubber soles that clip onto the bottom of your slippers in a few quick seconds, meaning you can wear them outside without ruining the base of your slippers. The soles fit on with the help of a little popper at the back of each slipper, which you just attach through the little hole in the back of the sole, simple!

Now given that I love a good pair of slippers, and would happily wear them as my only footwear, the ability to wear slippers outside was super exciting to me. Now strictly speaking they’re only designed for light outdoor use, such as running out to get something from the car, taking the bins out etc, but the bases are pretty tough and I reckon they’d stand up to good wear – I actually wore mine on the drive home from Manchester last weekend and walked around Keele services in them no problem!

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the comfort, lets just say I could happily wear these all day! As you can see in the photos, they’re a bit more than a pump style, I’d describe them as being the slipper equivalent of a pair of Toms, with a lambswool lining that’s backed onto a synthetic base rather than sheepskin, and they’ve got a nice stretchy heel piece which is a little bit grippy also so there’s no risk of your feet coming out.

They’re a premium pair of slippers, but I honestly love them and am so glad that I treated myself to them. They also have some variations including a lighter design of ‘summer slipper’ and also a hardier pair of ‘outdoor slippers’, not to mention the fact that you can make your slippers fit your style with a range of colours of additional soles, including gold and pearl pink!

Are you a slipper person?

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Fitbit Flex 2 Review

So a couple of months ago I decided to expand my little Fitbit family by purchasing the Flex 2, in addition to the Charge 2 I’ve had for almost 18 months now. Yep, I’m that crazy, but I had my reasons.

I love my Charge 2, it does everything that I need it to, but the only occasional both is that its a little on the large side, and as it can only be worn on the wrist, its not always the most stylish option, even though I have multiple different coloured straps to colour co-ordinate it! This is where the Flex 2 comes in.

The Flex 2 is the smallest of all Fitbit’s trackers – its even smaller than the Zip, which is the cheapest tracker option, and the first device I owned. It comes with a wrist strap that you can just pop the device into, or alternatively you can get a clip for it (not official Fitbit merch but super cheap on Amazon), and if these options aren’t pretty enough for you, Fitbit also offer a bracelet and pendant that the device slots into, and no-one would be the wiser that you were wearing a fitness tracker! I bought the bracelet, although I bought an unofficial version from Amazon because the official ones will set you back £79..

But how does it stack up as a device?

Being one of Fitbit’s cheaper devices, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles; I think had I not owned a Charge 2, I’d have been more impressed by it. Of course it counts your steps, and it does auto-track some activities quite well, and unlike any other charger (minus the new Iconic) the Flex 2 is swim-proof, so if you want to be able to track your swimming, this is the only device you can get, and this was another one of the reasons I chose it as recently I have been swimming a lot more. Other features of the device are sleep tracking, and you can set it up for reminders to move and also call and text notifications.

The main difference, however, between the Flex 2 and its family of devices is the display – its the only tracker that doesn’t have a proper digital display, instead just having a little row of LED lights that light up according the your goals; if you have your main goal as being steps, for every 2,500 steps you do, an LED lights up, so when you hit your 10,000 steps for the day, all the lights will be lit. This means that you can only keep track of one particular focus, and you can’t use your Flex to check the time, like I keep trying to do.. Now of course if you’re wearing it in a pendant or bracelet, or even clipped away somewhere, this isn’t going to bother you all that much, but for me I find this a little annoying.

The other features that the Flex 2 doesn’t include which my Charge 2 does is heart rate monitoring, stairs climbed and it doesn’t have any sort of GPS, so when it comes to running, my Flex stays in the gym bag.

Personally, I think its a good little device if you’re just wanting to keep an eye on your steps and activity, and it works great in the water if you’re a swimmer, but as I’ve mentioned previously, I think if I didn’t have a Charge 2, I would have been much more impressed by the Flex 2. I do use it, of course, but I tend to wear it on days where I want to make sure my steps are counted, but I’m not doing any other sort of workout, apart from swimming, obviously! I also sometimes interchange my trackers during the day, so I’ll get up and go to the gym in the morning with my Charge 2, and then switch it for the Flex to wear to work – and if you’re wondering, this all works fine in terms of syncing with the Fitbit app as it combines the data from the two trackers!

The RRP of the Flex 2 is £69.99, but you can find it as low as £40-50 if you shop around!

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Kayla’s Bikini Body Motivation & Habits Guide

Now I’ve never believed in the term ‘bikini body’ or ‘bikini body ready’ – for me, a bikini body is any body in a bikini, simples. I’ve also never really trusted these fitness influencers or Instagrammers as I’m very wary of some of the products and diets that they endorse, so when it comes to Kayla Itsines I’ve generally not paid much attention.

However, I saw this book in the supermarket the other week; Matthew pointed it out as we’re trying to keep healthy and active in preparation for our trip to Hawaii in April, and at first I kinda scoffed, but then I had a little flick through and noticed that despite the title suggesting otherwise, at least half of the book is recipes, and I’m a sucker for a good recipe book, so it ended up in our basket.

Spoiler alert, I’m now treating this book like my bible.

The book is actually so insightful. The first part talks about habits and motivation, and some of the psychology that goes behind it, and how you can combat the set-backs and hurdles that many of us face day in day out. I must admit that I haven’t read all of this as I’ve got a lot of other books and journals that I use for habit tracking, so I didn’t feel this was particularly relevant to me, but after this bit, the book gets really good.

The next section of the book is all about nutrition and meal-planning. I went into this with a pinch of salt ready to read things suggesting certain foods are really bad for you, or you should cut down on this or that, but there wasn’t any of that and I did a little happy dance. Everything written is informative, well researched and completely balanced, and the nutrition part covers everything from your basic food groups to micronutrients to non-dairy, vegetarianism and veganism, so it covers a pretty good range of dietary needs, but what I love the most about this book is the meal planning.

Now the book itself has a 4 week food plan, including 3 meals and 2 snacks every day over the 28 day period, so if you like to follow something by the letter, this is absolutely great – it even includes your weekly shopping list! However, if like me you struggle to stick to an exact plan day in day out, Kayla also includes an example meal plan, that is a guide of how many portions of what food groups you should be eating each day, and how you can mix and match these to suit. Did I mention how much I love this?

Also included is a big glossary of example foods for every food groups, and portion sizes, so if for example your meal is going to be 2 grains, 2 veg, 1/2 dairy/alternative and 1 meat/alternative, you can simply flick to the back of the book, have a look at what these could includes and make up a meal from there. This makes everything so flexible and easy, and there’s absolutely no calorie counting, or cutting out certain foods – its all about getting the portions and proportions right. Its a meal plan, not a diet.

The recipes offer so many options, and not only have you got every recipe for the 28 day meal plan, there’s also extra recipes that you can substitute in if whatever’s on the menu doesn’t take your fancy! All the recipes are quick, easy, and based on a single portion, which is great because I hate having a recipe designed for 2 or 4 people and having to go through and scale all the ingredients down. Oh, and there’s also a section at the back for desserts!

I have been following the meal plan, in my own way, for two weeks now and I’m already noticing a difference (along side my regular gym workouts and running). Some meals I haven’t changed at all from what I was eating before, but I’ve just got a better balance in what I should be eating and the size portions I should be having. Its so easy to break down every meal into groups, so all I count is the number of portions of each group I’ve had – absolutely no stressing over calories or not eating this or that. Most importantly, I feel so good within myself because I’m eating well.

The final section of the book is workouts, and you get a little 28 day workout guide poster that you can follow along with your meal plan – again, given that I go to the gym 4-5 times a week as it is and know my stuff quite well, I wasn’t so bothered by this, but it is a good little plan.

So while the title of the book didn’t endear me to it in any way, I guess its just proof that you can’t judge a book by its cover!

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