Wednesday, 30 April 2014

A to Z Challenge: Z

A to Z Challenge










Z

Z is for...Zumba Fitness

Around 18 months ago I found out about a zumba class being held in work for employees. The class is held twice a week, an absolute bargain price, and the instructors are fantastic.

I love cardio workouts and the zumba classes are so much fun, we have such a laugh for the entire hour that apart from the sweat and heavy breathing, you could almost forget that you're working out. Slow, toning exercise has never been for me, I get bored and distracted so easily, but with zumba, it's so fast paced and go go go, jumping straight into the next track and throwing yourself about like a crazy person.

I can't always make it but I try my best to catch at least one class a week and even if I've had a really long, crappy day and I'm not in the mood at all the zumba around, once the class get's going I can't help but enjoy myself and always leave with a worn out but beaming smile on my face.

How do you like to keep fit? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

 

And with that comes the end of the A to Z Challenge 2014! Hurrah! We made it! It's been a long month and what a challenge! It's not been the easiest but I'm so glad I took part! I've had the chance to write some varied blog posts and discovered some great new blogs and picked up a few new readers along the way! Win - win situation if you ask me!

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

A to Z Challenge: Y

A to Z Challenge







Y

Y is for YES!

I've been making a hugely conscious effort this past year to say yes more. It's not that I said no to everything, but having never been the most confident person, no was always a safe bet with me. No to trying something new on a menu, no to situations that put me out of my comfort zone, no to things I actually really really wanted to do but just didn't feel like I could for whatever reason my brain could come up with.

I was so frustrated with myself, why couldn't I just say yes and put myself out there? Sometimes, when you've acted a certain way for long it becomes the norm, a safety net, and it's difficult to break down those walls and change.

But change I did. I saw my life going in a direction I wasn't all too thrilled about and I knew only I could do something about it. And it all started with a yes. I started saying yes to things I knew I would have once said no to, I started venturing out to restaurants I'd never try before, picking things off the menu I had no idea about. Saying yes more started to open up so many more doors I was struggling to get myself through all of them.

Going to my first blogger event was a big yes moment for me. In the past a room filled with unknown people and some amazing bloggers I'd admired through the blog-sphere would have sent me straight into the no zone. But I didn't want to be that person anymore, so I said yes. And you know what? I had the most amazing time!

Could you do with saying  yes a little more in your life? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,


Monday, 28 April 2014

A to Z Challenge: X

A to Z Challenge







X

X is for Xtreme Challenges!

I'm not exactly known for a love of extreme or scary things, I don't exactly have fears as such, I just don't like things that scare me...things like doing a 200FT abseil down the side of my work place!

Yup. What seems like forever ago now a couple of colleagues of mine heard about a 200ft abseil the Royal Liverpool hospital does every year to raise money for St Pauls Eye Clinic. Now, I love doing my bit for charity but that usually involves fancy dress, fun days or charity runs - not pushing myself backwards off the top of a building.

One thing led to another and I was either feeling particularly brave that day or stupid, but I agreed to join the team and take part in the abseil. It was so far off that I didn't really think about it after saying yes. So much so that I actually managed to forget about it entirely until about 2 days before the event! Insert lots of panicking, watching YouTube videos of abseils, and trying to raise some much needed sponsorship!

Then it was the day. I felt sick from the moment I woke up and my stomach was churning like a washing machine on a sports wash! We watched a few others take part and make their 200ft descent and I'll admit, after seeing the building and watching others complete the challenge I oddly felt much better about the whole thing - it didn't look too bad and everyone came down with some sort of smile on their face!

That's me, the tiny speck on the left!


The came our turn. We stood on the roof of the hospital, 200ft up in the air taking in some of the most amazing views of Liverpool and the Wirral I have ever seen. I've never seen my city that way before and I've got to admit, it looked damn fine!

Getting strapped up, talking safety and how tos with the instructor was great, I was feeling pretty pumped and eager to go over the edge and get on with the whole thing. Then it came to actually standing on the edge of the building, my back to the word and the balls of my feet hanging over into thin, windy air. Suddenly I didn't feel so pumped or at all eager to go over the edge - but I pretty much had no choice, if there's one thing I hate, it's not following through with something and I did not want to be that person who walked away.

My less than graceful descent underway!

Slowly, very very slowly and shaking as I went, I leaned back over the building, the wind whipping up around me, eyes wide with fear, my stomach already plummeting to the ground 200ft below - I started to give the rope some slack and take my first tentative steps backwards down the wall.

It was unbelievable hard! The rope felt so heavy, my arms shook and both hands had a death grip on the ropes. With the wind blowing against me sideways and my feet slipping against the wall I found it impossible to keep my legs straight and feet flat against the wall. My game plan was to shuffle, release some slack on the rope, shuffle some more and so on. This worked for maybe the first 10 or 15 shuffles, then my feet really started to slip against the wall. I tried to regain my stance but I was pretty much tip toes against the wall by this point and there was no getting my stance back. I swung about oh so ungracefully, trying to figure out what to do, queue some less than lady like language and some very nervous laughter!

Pretty much free-falling the last 20ft or so!

Eventually I got myself into a slightly too speedy descent, using one foot to bounce against the wall as I gave slack to the rope, before I knew it I was down! Shaking, sick and wind swept, the instructors now removing my harnesses and congratulating asked me how much I'd enjoyed myself and if I wanted to go again?

In short no. At the time I really didn't enjoy it, I was so scared and my arms hurt so much! My hands where shaking so much I couldn't even get my helmet off!

But I'd done it. Once it dawned on me what I'd done and accomplished I couldn't stop smiling! I was, and still am, so proud of myself. I'm glad I took part, though I didn't get much of an adrenaline rush, I got an overwhelming sense of achievement and pride that I will never forget! I won't be rushing back up to do another one any time soon but never say never! Now I know I can do something so far out of my comfort zone I've had a massive confidence boost and who knows what that could lead to!

So far, I've raised £105 for St Pauls Eye Clinic and you can still sponsor me by going to my JustGiving page! As a team, we've raised close to £2000!

Have you ever taken on any xtreme challenges? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,




Saturday, 26 April 2014

A to Z Challenge: W

A to Z Challenge








W

W is for...What I've been watching lately!

I watch a lot of tv. Probably too much to be honest, I blame have Sky+! It just makes it too easy to record too many shows - and then there's Netflix! It's just a never ending cycle of opening scenes and ending credits. Here's a quick run down of just a couple of the shows I've been watching lately!

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia 

Mr.Man is always throwing quotes at me from this show so I decided it was about time I checked it out. It took me a couple of episodes to get into but now I'm sailing through and laughing so hard it hurts! It's not exactly hard hitting drama but it's just so slap stick funny and I've fell in love with the characters. Each episode is only 20 minutes long and a laugh from start to finish. And it stars the ever brilliant and always entertaining Danny DeVito. You can catch all 9 seasons (so far) on Netflix!

Arrow

I am loving all the Marvel movies/tv shows coming out at the minute! I didn't really click with the first season but I've been loving the second season so far. Much more character development and some really kick ass fight scenes.

Greys Anatomy

I was a huge fan of ER back in the day and Greys Anatomy filled that medical drama hole in my heart quite nicely. It's pretty much one of the only shows that never fails to make me cry at least several times a season. I love how long standing characters have grown in the show and how far they've come.

The Following

I have to watch this show from behind a cushion! It's not exactly 'jump out of your skin horror' but the psychopaths in this show just creep me the hell out! Kevin Bacon is pretty awesome in it too. It's had me hooked since the first season and I can't wait to see where they go with it!

Walking Dead

I love me a zombie or two - have to say I was growing really tired of this show last season but it's finally picked up and is improving by the episode, and there's actually zombies in it now! I've avoided the graphic novels so nothing is spoilt for me but I'd love to check them out when it's all finally over!

They're some of the most recent shows I've watched, do you watch any of them too? What are you currently watching? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,


Friday, 25 April 2014

A to Z Challenge: V

A to Z Challenge







V

V is for...VERY close to the end!

After today's post there are only four most posts to go in the April A to Z Blogging Challenge! Eek!

There have been day's where I've been convinced a post wasn't going to happen, or where the writers block has been so bad I've come close to launching my whole computer out of the window! Then there are days like today when I've just got no idea what to write for this letter so I figured a rambling post is better than no post!

If you've been following my challenge posts so far, you'll remember in my O for Oh I don't know post I talked about how difficult the challenge has been so far. I wanted to make the end of the challenge as easy as possible for myself so I've been taking my own advice for a change and have set out to write up and schedule all the remaining posts in the challenge. Note, I'm writing this post on 20th April 2014. So far so good - today alone I've managed to schedule 5 blog posts! If only I could always be so productive!

How are you finding the A to Z Blogging challenge now the finish line is in sight? let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,


Thursday, 24 April 2014

A to Z Challenge: U

A to Z Challenge








U

U is for University...what I'd do differently...

The more I think about today's topic, the harder I find it to believe that my University days are already so far behind me, it's terrifying! A bit of background here...I  started University September 2006, embarking on a 3 year joint honours course at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk. My course? Creative Writing and English. After 3 months I fell so far out of love with my English course that I dropped it and moved over to Media Communication. I'd always loved English, it was one of my favourite subjects but I just couldn't gel with the course and it was really getting me down. Some of the friends I'd made over in Creative Writing where also studying Media Communication, and I'd been pretty good at Media in college, so I decided to make the switch.

3 years later I graduated with a 2.1 and was accepted onto the Writing Studies Masters, still studying at Edge Hill University. I stayed on for 2 years, studying part time, and eventually walking away with a Merit (the equivalent of another 2.1). And that was that. Along the way I'd met some amazing people, some of my closest friends, had up's and down's, learnt to down 3 Steamboats in under 15 minutes, enjoyed the delicacy that was a Wednesday morning hash-brown barm, sang sex on fire at the top of my lungs, came close to releasing a duck in the library, rescued a friend when her hand got stuck in a box (long story) and probably shed a tear or two too.

Don't get me wrong, I loved my time at Uni and I'd go back and do it all over again in a heart beat, but there are a couple of things I wish I could have done differently.

Move out. Sure, staying at home saved me thousands of pounds but you know what? I'm honestly not sure it was worth it. I really wish I'd moved out, I regretted not doing so from day one. I really do feel as though I missed out on something here, almost a right of passage. I'd say if you can do it, go for it, or at least give it a try.

Summers abroad. There are so many Summer programs out there for University students to take advantage of. Working in Summer camps, theme parks, internships, holiday repping etc, there's pretty much something for everyone. I really wish I'd gone ahead with going for a summer job at Walt Disney World or pushing forward my application for working at an American Summer camp. Turns out, your Uni days really are the easiest, if not the only, times you will be able to do such things before life gets too involved and puts a cork in the idea.

Blogged. I actually started a blog several times when I was in University. I don't think I stuck with any past a couple of posts. Talk about foolish! Imagine if I had started this journey all those years ago? I genuinely regret not keeping up with blogging back then. I regret not writing enough outside of my assignments too.

Have you, or are you currently studying at University? If your starting University this year, what are you most looking forward to? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

A to Z Challenge: T

A to Z Challenge






T

T is for...tea!

I couldn't let today's letter pass me by without giving a big shout out and much love to my glorious elixir that is tea. I bet you all saw this coming a mile off! What can I say about tea? I love the stuff. Some people can't stay their day without a steaming cup of extra strength coffee - I can't leave the house without having had at least one extra large cup of green tea (which probably has as much caffeine in as that extra strength coffee!)

I've always been a traditional tea drinker up until a few years ago when I discovered there's a whole world of tea out there. Loose leaf exotic flavors that are just waiting to be steeped and tasted. I can't walk past a tea shop without going in and coming out with some tea-ful wonder. It pretty much drives my Mum crazy as I'm slowly filling her kitchen cupboards with more tea than one person could probably drink in a lifetime. Oops.

Instead of banging on about my love for tea, how about I make this post a little more useful? Here's a couple of reasons why you should drink more tea today!

  • Tea is linked with lowering your risk of Parkinson's disease
  • Tea drinking can reduce the effects of smoking (but in no way justifies smoking!)
  • Green tea is packed full of anti-oxidents
  • Green tea has also been found to improve bone density ad strength
  • Tea is great for re-hydrating
And of course, it tastes lovely!

What's your favourite kind of tea? Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

A to Z Challenge: S

A to Z Challenge







S

S is for...Spring Skater dresses!



For those who don't know, I've become a bit of a dress obsessed nut-job recently, dresses, more specifically, skater dresses are pretty much the only thing I wear 95% of the time

With Spring in full swing and Summer on it's way, (I already have the sunburn to prove it!), it's become pretty apparent to me that the majority of my wardrobe is navy and black, the only pops of colour tending to be darker shades of purple. It's all very Autumn/Winter, so I need to start injecting something a little brighter!

Popped on over to one of my favourite high street stores, New Look, to see if they could give me any inspiration for my Spring/Summer skater dress collection and I wasn't disappointed!

(From left to right)

Parisian shell pink chiffon leaf print £22.99

Navy is still one of my favourite colours at the minute so I love the scattered leaf print on this dress. The lighter shell pink makes this less Winter wear and more 'hello Spring'. Also comes with the belt which I think is really cute! I've got a similar dress in darker colours with a similar design on (birds instead of leaves) that I love and get compliments on all the time.

Mint green sleeveless floral print £14.99

I have nothing mint green in my wardrobe right now and I love this colour for Spring. I'm a bit of a floral-fanatic too so this ticks that box! I can just see me sitting back and relaxing in the park wearing this, a book in one hand, a iced tea in the other, bliss!

Pink roll up sleeve floral print £14.99

Love the little capped sleeves on this, I burn really easily so this will really help keep me a little more sun-safe! I love the colours going through this dress, so bright and cheery! Pretty sure I already have the perfect sandals to go with this too - bonus!

Orange contrast applique trim £22.99 

Damn this one is bright, and a touch out of my colour-comfort zone, but I'm in love with it! I'm pretty sure it's been scientifically proven that seeing the colour orange does make you happier, so hopefully they will be a lot of smiling faces around when I wear this! I'm a touch on the pale side so hopefully it won't make me look too ill!

Now all I need is for someone to come along and take me shopping....and if they want to pay, even better!

What are your Spring picks?

Until next time,



Monday, 21 April 2014

Birch Box UK April 2014 - What's in the box?




I love coming home from work to find a brand new Birch Box on my doorstep! I’ve done pretty well at keeping my self spoiler free too so it’s generally always a surprise what’s inside. This month was no different, and knowing Spring is in full swing now, I was expecting some Spring-tastic goodies.

This month, the Birch Box team are taking inspiration from local food markets and kitchens to come up with a box that’s, good enough to eat. From foodie scents to indulgent elements, the contents of this months box are sure to get your mouth watering and your taste buds tingling.

So, now that I’ve got you thoroughly salivating, lets have a look inside at Aprils Birch Box UK goodies!



The Balm Cosmetics How ‘Bout them Apples? Cheek & Lip Cream

So not only is the packaging to die for, but the shade I received, pie, is oh so pretty indeed! This creamy lip & cheek balm is perfect. It’s also the perfect size too, for traveling and days out. I’m not the biggest fan of cream blush but as a lip colour I love it. The pink really pops on the lips, and a quick coat of clear gloss finishes a perfect Spring lip! It feels lovely on too!



RMK make-up base

Not a brand I’m familiar with, this pearlescent light weight formula evens and hydrates the skin prior to applying foundation. I’ve yet to give it a full test drive but on the surface it seems really hydrating and smells quite nice too! Will it replace my Laura Mercier primer though?



Club Colour Gala’s Gems nail polish

Based on a collaboration with London based Spanish blogger, Gala Gonzalez, I received the shade Heirloom Pearls from the 4 shades available. Now, this isn’t a shade I would have picked out for myself, the blues and greens caught my eye, but after a quick test coat I’m intrigued. It’s a very white polish that doesn’t have half as much shimmer in as you would think, but I kind of like it. I’ve never been a fan of white nail polish but this one does look very pretty in the sunshine. 



Laura Mercier Crème Brûlée body butter

I won’t lie, I squeal every time I find a little Laura Mercier goodie in my Birch Box, and I’ve been lucky to pick up quite a few over the last few months. I’m also wondering…are the Birch Box team sneakily reading my blog? I’m in love with Crème Brûlée right now, it’s my favorite dessert and this body cream smells exactly like it. This sample sized body butter is perfect for my up coming trip – it’s gone straight out of my Birch Box and into my suitcase!



Yin Yang skin cleanser

Not a brand I’m familiar with and usually I’m less than impressed with sample cleansers but I have to say, this one smells amazing and feels lovely on the skin. It’s an all natural skin balancing cleanser containing coconut, sweet orange and wheat germ oils. I also love that it’s British made too. Will be giving this a try and reporting back!



Propercorn sweet coconut and vanilla

I loved my last sample bag of Propercorn and have picked it up a few times in the supermarket since. I'm munching on this as I write and it's delicious! Full of flavor, it tastes like summer! I will have to pick up some more of this!
                                                                                                                          
Which of the above products is tickling your fancy this month? Did you get anything different in your Birch Box? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,



A to Z Challenge: R

A to Z Challenge









R

R is for...River Country!

In case you haven't figured it out by now, I'm a bit of a Disney..nut...shall we say? Especially when it comes to Walt Disney World. I haven't done many Disney centric posts lately and today's letter reminded me of River Country, Disneys abandoned water park! I've always been fascinated by abandoned places, but a Disney abandoned place? Insert mega excites here!

A little back story on River Country. River Country, Walt Disney Worlds first water park, opened it's gates June 1976. It was the only Disney water park for 13 years, and ceased operation November 2001, after 25 years of gushing slides and lazy rivers.


You can still access the old River Country entrance from Fort Wilderness! (source)

Nothing out of the ordinary with that, places open and close all the time. But here's where it gets a little less ordinary. Disney have done nothing with what's left of River Country. They simply closed the turnstiles and ticket-booths one day and put up a fence. That was that. To this day, 13 years after it closed, they still light up the water park and play the music every night. Seriously. I have no idea why they do this, surely it's a waste of resources and Disney being Disney, I'm sure they could have come up with a use for the land - but they've yet to do anything.

Even abandoned those slides look like fun...not sure about the murky water though! (source)

Disney have never been totally forthcoming on the reasons they closed River Country. Some say it was due to the opening and popularity of the other two water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Others believe it was a brain eating bacteria found in the nearby waters of Bay Lake. Now that doesn't exactly sound like dreams, wishes and Pixie dust, does it? 

Unloved but still so picturesque! (source)

Hands down I would love to take a real life look at what the place looks like now. All those dried up slides, deflated rafts and rings, plants growing up and through the whole lot, nature itself claiming back the land. I find it so hard to believe that in a place such as Walt Disney World, something so unloved and derelict can be found.

Did you ever visit River Country back in it's hey day? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,






 

Saturday, 19 April 2014

A to Z Challenge: Q

A to Z Challenge







Q

Q is for...Quotes!

For as long as I can remember I've collected quotes. I used to have this purple spiral bound notebook that I kept any and all quotes I found in. Some where from famous people, some song lyrics, some from films. Pretty much anything I heard or found that I loved or helped me out in anyway I put it in there.

For the life of me I can't find that notebook. I've got no idea where it's gone and that makes me kind of sad. Some of those quotes really helped me during difficult times so it would be nice to find them again.

Luckily this delightful digital age we live in has enabled me to find and collect quotes in a different way, Pinterest! (Did you see my post for P during the A to Z Challenge?) As long as that site doesn't disappear then my quotes are safe on their servers.

I thought I'd take a quick look through my quotes board and pull out some of my favourites!

"It always seems impossible before it is done" - Nelson Mandela

"Why worry? If you've done the best you can, worrying won't make it any better" - Walt Disney

"You don't get that many people in your life that you can tell anything to" - Lauren Conrad

"Don't save anything for a special occasion. Every day of your life is a special occasion" - Thomas S Monson

"If I listened earlier then I wouldn't be here. That's the trouble with me, I give myself very good advice but I seldom follow it" - Alice in Wonderland

"We're all stories in the end. So make it a good one, eh?" - Dr Who

Fancy sharing some of your favourite quotes?

Until next time,

 


Friday, 18 April 2014

A to Z Challenge: P

A to Z Challenge







P

P is for...Pinterest!

Does anyone remember when Pinterest was invite only? I remember hearing about this thing called Pinterest and wanting to get my hands on an invite so bad. I can't remember who sent me one but I think it was on a forum somewhere. So I got one, I created my account...and then promptly forgot about it.

Fast forward to present day and Pinterest has well and truly sucked me in. I love it for work-out graphics, quotes, clothes and of course, my favourite...furniture! With a move on the horizon I am forever looking at decorating ideas, info-graphics on making the most of small spaces and the top 10 ways to maximise storage space and colour swatches!

Generally I use Pinterest on my phone whilst I'm commuting or during TV ad breaks, I know I know, I could be doing something more productive with that time but sometimes you just have to let Pinterest suck you in for a little while and get lost in all it's goodness. I've got to say I've learnt quite a few things and picked up some great recepies!

I really need to re-organise my boards, at the minute they're pretty generalised, so I want to make them more specific - not entirely sure how to do this without loosing my current pins so if you know, let me know in the comments below!

Follow me on Pinterest here! If you Pin let me know below, I'd love to check out your boards!

Until next time,


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