21 July 2014

Because These Things Will Change

Full time work makes for a dull blogger!

I'm afraid thing are going to get mighty quiet around here, as now i'm working full time i just don't have the time or the content to post. However, have no fear i'm going nowhere and i will be back, i just don't want to force blogging because that's when it stops being fun. In a few weeks i'm going away on a semi-roadtrip up to Northumberland, York, Durham and then up to Edinburgh so hopefully i'll be back to share my adventure with you after i'm back.

I hope you're all staying well and hopefully i'll be back in no time. When i do return, i'll probably be blogging a lot less than i have been previously simply because i just don't have the time now, perhaps once a week or something similar.

You can still follow my day-to-day life on Instagram and Twitter, both at _legseleven.

See you on the flip side!


9 July 2014

Disney's Art of Animation Resort EXPERIENCE & REVIEW

Last Summer i was lucky enough to stay in the newest Walt Disney World Resort called Disney's Art of Animation Resort, on property. It's considered one of Disney's Value resorts, along with Disney's All Star Music, Movies and Sport, Disney's Pop Century and The Campsites at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort. Here, you have the choice of staying in a standard room; with two double beds or one king size bed, sleeping up to four, or in the new style suites; one queen size bed, 1 double sized table bed and 1 double size sleeper sofa, sleeping up to six. Like many of the value resorts, Art of Animation has four themed buildings: the Little Mermaid, the Lion King, Finding Nemo and Cars. The Little Mermaid is made up of only standard rooms, but the other three themes has the suites available. My family and i stayed in the Little Mermaid standard room.

If you couldn't tell by it's title, Disney's Art of Animation resort is illustration/animation/art themed, and as you can see from the images above and below there's artwork everywhere. Outside, when you're driving up, there's a display of what looks like paintings of the four themes. Displayed above is Lightning Mcqueen, Ariel and Nemo, and these go all along the main building. Each of the buildings has it's own artwork linking it's theme, as you'll see later on in the post.

The lobby is probably one of my favourites of all the Disney resorts i've been lucky enough to stay at; the walls are coved with sketchy, sometimes unfinished, illustrations and i love that laid back feel. It feels like you're really going back to Disney's roots. You can see some of your favourite characters, and some you might know already know. Behind the check-in desks is a long, colourful wall of light that is always lit up. It's so bright and welcoming, and definitely wows you when you first walk in. You can also find benches, covered in drawings, in the lobby too if you need somewhere to sit while the rest of your family checks-in, etc. There are always people around here if you need help with anything to do with your stay; you can find out more information about bookings and tickets here, if you have any problems with your room or if you want to find out the opening times of the parks that day, they'll do their best to help you out.

Off of the lobby you'll find the Pixel Play Arcade, full of classic games to entertain you in the evenings or perhaps on a rainy day, as well as the Ink and Paint Shop. In the shop, you can find all sorts of Disney gifts, kitchenware, clothes and nick-nacks, as well as food and drinks. A fun addition is in the Ink and Paint Shop you can find a little white board that, every day, gets new trivia questions and fun Disney facts. Honestly though, apart from the Art of Animation logo-ed items, most of the things found in this shop can be found all around the theme parks so most of it isn't anything special. However, it is nice to buy a resort themed mug, t-shirt or some sort of memorabilia to remind you of your stay.

The dining in the Art of Animation is all in the Landscape of Flavours, as well as the optional in-room pizza delivery service. It's a quick service eatery, with a selection of choices from fresh fruit to burgers. Here you can also find the refill station for your Disney mugs, if you so wish to purchase them for your stay. The easiest option here is using the refrigerators which are full of cold drinks; such as chocolate milk, water and your favourite fizzy drinks, as well as fresh fruit, salads, sushi, pre-made children's snack trays, pre-made cheese and fruit snack trays, yoghurts and cakes. These are easily taken out by yourself and can be taken straight to the cash register. If you're looking for something more substantial, for breakfast you have all your usual options; including make-your-own yoghurt parfait and blend of cereals, french toast, vegetarian breakfast options, traditional breakfast platters with eggs, sausages, bacon, etc, pancakes, steak and eggs, omelettes and the famous Mickey waffles. This is all served between 6am and 11am.

For Lunch and Dinner there's a wide variety of food options available to you, but in four made categories: salads and cold sandwiches, Tandoori and Mongolian, Italian or burgers and hot sandwiches, and this is all served after 11am. In the salads and cold sandwiches menu you can choose from a variety, including a caprese sandwich, turkey sandwich - both served with 'chips', or crisps depending on where you're from - as well as the build your own salad bar. Here, the lovely cast members will build you a salad depending on what you'd like to fill it. It all varies in price but to give you an idea the caprese sandwich retails for $8.99 and the build-your-own salad for $9.99, both plus tax. On the Tandoori/Mongolian station you can have anything from Tandoori Portuguese Sausage, Tandoori Acorn Squash - both served with naan bread and sides - Mongolian Grill Fish or Mongolian Grill Beef Stir Fry - both served with a choice of rice and a side. The Tandoori options range in price from $8.49 to $10.99 and the Mongolian at about $12 (plus tax). This station is a lot more exotic than you'll find in many other Disney resorts, so it's nice to see a little variation. The Italian station is home to all your favourites: a choice of pizzas, a meatball sandwich, and a create-your-own pasta bar. Here you can also pick up large pizza sizes, perfect for sharing and these cost around $14 to $16 without tax. The individual pizzas are around $10 and the pasta dishes about $11. The pasta bar gives you the freedom to choose exactly what you want to eat; starting with your pasta type, you can choose from Campanelle, Bow Tie or Multi Grain Linguine. You can choose a sauce from pesto, alfredo or marinara and then you can choose what's going in it, from shrimp, chicken or sausage to mushrooms, roasted red peppers or olives. Lastly, there's the hot sandwich dishes; which can include a surf and turf burger, a build-your-own custom burger, or a pastrami cheeseburger. These can be bought from $9 to around $11, plus tax. When it comes to building your burger, it comes with a 1/3 lb Angus beef burger and then you can choose from a range of cheeses including cheddar, pepperjack or provolone, and other options include bacon, pickles cajon remoulade.

Available all day is a selection of treats including build-your-own smoothies, ice cream and a range of coffees and soft drinks, including Iced French Vanilla Mocha and All Natural Pomegranate Lemonade. There's also a pastry case open all day filled with everything from cupcakes, including gluten free, and rice crispy treats, to muffins and cinnamon roles.

When i was visiting, the food court was always buzzing. So you should expect a bit of a wait for food, similarly to other Disney dining locations, especially in peak times. Something to point out is that you should bare in mind that if you're going for the build your own, or fresh dishes then you will have to wait a little longer as they're cooked especially for you, but i would say that that is a nice touch and it's refreshing to know it hasn't been sitting around for a long time. I think it's great to see such a variety of food types in one location, as usually on Disney property each each restaurant, quick service, etc is specific to a certain type of food.

Another interesting addition to this dining experience is that it's the first value resort dining location to offer real silverware, which is a lovely touch. It probably should be noted that although the majority of the rooms at this resort do have microwaves there is a distinct lack of microwaveable food available, with really only popcorn to choose from. So, if you're wanting to stay in a suite and use the microwave facility you'd probably need to head off property to a nearby supermarket to stock up.

So, once you're done in the food court if you walk out of the main doors towards to the resort rooms you'll come upon the Finding Nemo rooms. Something that's  very traditional with the Disney value resorts, if you've never visited before, are their gigantic statues of characters and props themed towards to the block. Here, as you can see below, are Crush and Mr Ray, and in the swimming pool there's also a sea anemone with Nemo hiding inside.

They're pretty spectacular, and great for theming and to really get you into the atmosphere. I don't have any pictures of this, bizarrely, but the Finding Nemo section is the home to the main swimming pool of the resort, and the largest pool on Walt Disney World property, called The Big Blue Pool. It's perfectly themed with the rest of the section, and holds 308, 527 gallons of water. It has unique underwater speakers playing familiar favourite Disney tracks, and you can swim past Nemo, Dory and a school of jellyfish. There's the Schoolyard Sprayground for little ones featuring jets and gushing water, as well as Squirt's Righteous Reef for those that prefer to stay dry while playing. This pool also boasts The Drop Off pool bar that serves alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and snacks.

The Lion King block is the only segment without it's own designated pool, but it is right in-between the Finding Nemo 'Big Blue Pool' and the slightly smaller Little Mermaid pool. I would say, however, that the Lion King is one of the most brilliantly themed. As you can see from the images above, there are life size figures perched in appropriate spots, such as Rafiki, Scar and Mufasa up on the pride rock, not to mention Simba, Timone and Pumba depicted in the famous crossing the log scene. You really are immersed in the film, and there's even the Boneyard where the hyenas watch over an eery tunnel and bouncy, sponge flooring allowing children to run around and play. The one thing i do feel about the Lion King block is that it's more of a through path than a real section, you have to walk through here to get to the Little Mermaid from the main lobby or vice versa to the Lobby, or the food court. Nevertheless, it's my favourite theme and it does play host to the new family suites.

The Little Mermaid block is the only one made up entirely of standard rooms. So here you do get the feel of a few more adult parties, young couples or those without larger families or smaller children. The biggest con of these rooms is that they are the furthest away from the lobby, food court and Big Blue Pool. However, it does have it's own smaller pool and it's not an awful walk either. This where my family and i actually stayed, and i have to say that i enjoyed my time here. The theming is just as wonderful as the rest of the resort, with some of Ariels who-sits and what-sits lining the walkway up to the section. You walk by a treasure trove full of jewels, a large, golden smoking pipe as well as a dinglehopper too.

These rooms are the only ones i can talk about as i haven't stayed in any of the others, but the rooms here in the Little Mermaid section are honestly very standard Disney rooms. They're spacious, clean and have everything you need. They boast two his 'n' hers sinks, hanging space, a mini fridge, a safe box, table and chairs, a small bath/shower room and plenty of personality.

Last is Cars, home to Lightning Mcqueen, Sir Tow Mater and the Sheriff, along with plenty of their friends. They're life size figures of your favourites from the movie and most are available for pictures, and getting up close and personal. As i mentioned earlier, the Cars segment has it's own pool too named the 'Cozy Cone Pool'. This is by far the quietest of the three available pools, so if you're looking for something a little more calm then head here. This swimming area is circled by large, orange traffic cones fondly named the Cozy Cone Cabanas. These are small, shaded seating areas that just add to the more laid back feel of this smaller pool.

Something else that's kinda special about this resort is that just over a the lake, a short walk away via Generation Gap Bridge, is Art of Animation's sister resort called Pop Century. It's set up is very similar to that of Art of Animation, but it's theming is classic and famous fads from the 1950's to the 1990's. Each building is themed towards a different era, decorated with everything from Yo-Yos to Rubiks Cubes, and rollerblades to juke boxes. It's a lovely experience being able to walk to another resort, try out their food court and take in the sights.

If you're not up to walking across the lake to the Pop Century, then just walking around Art of Animation is a lovely way to spend an afternoon or an evening. Every building has so much to offer, at the end of each block is a large notebook with a large animation of some of your favourite characters. Along the way, there's also little trivia boards giving you facts about the movies hosted in the resort. You might even spot some wildlife friends along the way, as i spotted bunnies and birds along my route.

Art of Animation has a multitude of amenities that you, and your family, can take advantage of as part of your stay. Following on from walking around the resort, you also have the opportunity of taking a jog on the 1.38 mile scenic trail along the outside of the resort. Another great amenity is something called Movies Under the Stars. It's pretty self explanatory, but in the evenings a large screen is erected in the Lion King section of the resort and each night a different Disney film is played. There are seats available and you can bring your own drinks and dinner, snacks and you can come and go as you like. Brave, The Little Mermaid and Tangled have all been known to be shown here.

Some of the more convenient amenities include complimentary WIFI, free parking, laundry services and of course, the Disney buses. The buses can take you from the front of the resort directly to any number of Disney locations, including Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Downtown Disney. Once at any of these spots you can get another bus to any of the other Disney resorts. They're completely free and super easy to navigate your way around. Another great benefit of staying not only at Art of Animation, but most of the Disney resorts, is the merchandise delivery and pickup service. Basically if you purchase things inside the parks or Downtown Disney, you can choose to have your buys sent straight to your resort, meaning you don't have to carry it around all day.

There are so many great facilities available to you while staying on Disney property. I feel like i've stuffed an awful lot of information in this post, and i'm sure there's plenty more i could tell but anything else i'm sure you can find out if you choose to stay here.


7 July 2014

Yes to Tomatoes Clearing Face Mask

Yes to Tomatoes Clearing Face Mask

I have been going through a pretty turbulent time with my skin lately, and i'm always on the look out for new products to try to tame my oily, acne-prone, combination skin.

While browsing the aisles of Boots, one day, i came across the new 'Yes to' brand that before now, i only knew to be available in the States. I had heard American Youtuber upon Youtuber talk about Yes to Carrots, Yes to Blueberries and so on. But it wasn't until i saw the brand in Boots, that i knew we could purchase it here. I was a little disappointed when i saw that the line directed at my skin type was Yes to... Tomatoes. Not so enticing, when the other lines available in included Yes to Grapefruit, Blueberries and Cucumber. However, i decided to try out the mask as i really enjoy clay type masks and there must be something good about these tomatoes.

The Yes to Tomatoes Clearing Facial Mask for combination skin comes in a little, 50ml white tub with a screw lid and does come with a foil seal too. It looks like any other clay based face mask that i've tried before, but when applying i did find that the consistency was slightly different. I found the formula to be a lot thicker, and dryer than what i had experienced before. When trying to apply it over my face, i found it hard to smooth over my skin but i did find it easy to get a thin layer - which it does ask for. Many other masks i have tried before are very creamy, so end up being smeared in a thick coating all over my face. However, once applied it was fine and looked like any other mask. It also has a really nice, fresh scent too.

It asks to be left on for only five minutes, which i did, and then i cleaned it off with a warm, damp flannel like i would any other mask. It seemed to dry very quickly, and wasn't at all sticky afterwards. It was smooth and silky to the touch, which was a pleasant change from some of the messy, sticky masks i've used in the past. Another pleasant surprise was how easy it was to remove; with the warm, damp flannel i gently wiped away the product and it came very easily. There was no need for scrubbing or tugging, and left my face feeling fresh and not sore.

Afterwards, i found my skin to be a little tight but i haven't found a clay mask yet that doesn't leave some tightness to the skin and it wasn't irritating or sore, just clean feeling. My skin felt overall very clean, fresh and soothed. I noticed that blemishes and breakouts that, before, had been red and irritated were smaller, and less noticeable which is really impressive for a mask. My skin looked clearer and i really enjoyed the experience this mask gave.

It is a little pricey at £11.99 from Boots but i feel like it's definitely worth the price, especially as you need so little product for your face.


All products mentioned were purchased with my own money and all views are my own.

4 July 2014

#OOTD | Pop of Pink

New Look Tall Dress | ASOS Crop Top | Rock N Rose Necklace | M&S Tights | ASOS T-Bar Tights

I think that having a simple, plain black dress in your wardrobe is an essential and since having a huge clear out of my wardrobe, it was something i lacked. So i bought this one from New Look, after having lots of success with their Tall range dresses and skirts previously. It fits beautifully, and is very true to size. It skims everything and flares out at the bottom, in a classic style, and actually has a sweetheart neckline that you can't see. It hangs wonderfully and i love the way it looks.

Since i loved it so much, i didn't want to end up saving it just for special or formal occasions, so i decided to pair it with this cute pop of pink crop top to make it Summer appropriate. This is easily worn with or without tights, and looks great with black pumps or even something pink, to match.

I just think this is a great way to get more wear out of your wardrobe. This dress is easily worn alone too, and colour could also be added in your tights, your shoes or even just in your make up. It's perfect for more formal occasions or day-to-day.

If you'd like to see my shoes up close, then be sure to check out my Summer shoe collection post.


2 July 2014

Universal's The Wizarding World of Harry Potter EXPERIENCE & REVIEW

As it's nearly Summer, i thought i'd share with you my thoughts on an exciting theme park that i don't think i ever spoke about. You can read all about Disney in my posts which is posted during the Summer two years running, but today i'll share my thoughts and experience at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Two years ago, i was lucky enough to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. Although Universal, as a whole, isn't really my thing, visiting the Harry Potter segment of the park was amazing, and the attention to detail was out of this world. If you're looking for a review full of photos, then this one isn't for you as i think that the detail and imagery is what makes the Wizarding World what it is and i don't want to ruin it for you. So i've just put a few in so you can see what to expect. If you really wanted to have a look for yourself, there are images all over the internet.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter now spans both of the Universal Orlando parks, but i will only be talking about the slightly older segment, representing Hogsmeade, which can be found in the Islands of Adventure park. Diagon Alley is now being built in the Universal Studio park and will be opening some time in the Summer of 2014.

Opened in June of 2010, Hogsmeade took two and a half years to build after it's announcement in 2007. Hogsmeade is home to three rides, including Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey in the iconic Hogwarts School building. It also boasts the Olivanders experience, The Three Broomsticks Pub, Honeydukes Sweet Shop and Zoncos Joke Shop. Both regular and frozen Butter Beer can also be purchased from carts on the street. 

Walking into Hogsmeade is spectacular; it's everything you'd hope it would be with it's mismatched, snow topped buildings, cobbled looking streets, quirky shop signs and the infamous Hogwarts Castle towering over in the background. The attention to detail is amazing, something even Walt Disney would be impressed with. (If you haven't noticed by now, i'm really a Disney girl). There are smells and sounds coming from all around, which bring you right into the story. There are things that, i'm sure, someone who's not a huge Harry Potter fan would miss but if you know your Potter then you'll be delighted. Don't miss Moaning Mertle harassing women in the toilet, or Professer Lockhart being his charismatic self in the window of Flourish and Blotts, see if you can find Sirius' Wanted poster and watch it come alive. It really is quite something, and that's something to go for if nothing else.

Along the street in Hogsmeade, you'll find shop fronts as well as walk in stores. Some have been recreated from the Harry Potter franchise, but others have been created especially for the park. As you may know if you're familiar with the story, but Olivanders can usually be found in Diagon Alley and not in Hogsmeade, but when the Diagon Alley portion of the Universal Studios park is completed  in Summer 2014 there will be an Olivanders in both. The one found in Hogsmeade is portrayed as a branch of the original where Harry picks up his wand in The Philosopher Stone. Unlike the other establishments, Olivanders can create quite a wait time as guests are allowed in, in groups of only 20 to experience the famous 'the wand chooses the wizard' mantra linked with the shop. A guest is selected by Olivander himself to test a variety of wands until the right one is found. I won't give too much away, but there are a few mishaps on the journey of finding the right one. After finishing with the experience, you enter the larger wand shop to purchase your own. I have to admit that i'm glad that i did it but in peak Florida heat, it was a bit much for me to stand in the blazing sun to wait for a five minute performance. Personally, if i hadn't already done it, i don't think i would choose to if the queue is very long. There's no cover to shelter guests while waiting outside and although it is something special, it's just a bit much.

You can also get a good look at the Hogwarts Express, found at the entrance to Hogsmeade, and it makes for a great photo opportunity. If you're lucky, the controller might be there too and you can have your photograph taken with him too. It's huge, puffing smoke and whistling too which is a lovely addition. You can also find The Owl Post in Hogsmeade, a working post office where postcards and letters will be delivered with an official Hogsmeade postmark. You'll also be able to purchase stationary, stamps and owl-related gifts.

The Three Broomsticks is the main dining establishment in Hogsmeade, selling a variety of British themed meals and beverages, including Butter Beer. Butter Beer, which can be bought in a souvenir mug or plastic, is a non-alcoholic drink that can be drunk frozen or regular. In the Three Broomsticks you can spot ghosts and house elves hiding in the rafters, another lovely detail. You have the choice to sit inside or out, but it can get very busy so try to eat before or after the lunchtime rush for a slightly better chance of bagging a table.

In Honeydukes Sweet Shop you can buy some of your favourite Harry Potter sweet treats, including a chocolate frog, peppermint toads, sherbet lemons and the famous Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans.

The other stores available for the purchase of merchandise are Dervish and Banges; selling magical items and Quidditch supplies, Zonkos the joke store and Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods; a general gift shop selling souvenirs such as clothing and stationary.

As i said earlier there are three rides: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the Dragon Challenge and the Flight of the Hippogriff. The Forbidden Journey can be found inside the Hogwarts Castle and is simulator touring the castle, following Harry, Ron and Herminone on their broomsticks. Now, if you're prone to getting motion sickness then you might want to think about sitting this one out. You do find yourself getting thrown around quite a lot and moving from dark space to light, and there's also some flashing lights. However, it really does put you right into the movie. You feel as though Harry is talking to you, and asking you to follow him through the twists and turns of the outside castle walls. Before even getting here, you take a tour through the castle itself and interact with some of the movies favourite characters including the Sorting Hat, a speech from Albus Dumbledore, watching Harry, Ron and Hermione escape a class using the Invisibility Cloak, give the Fat Lady the password and listen to the paintings on the wall talking to each other. Again, the detail is spot on and there's plenty to keep yourself occupied in the often long queue. Personally, i am so glad that i didn't sit this one out as although afterwards i did feel nauseous, it's the most iconic ride to the Wizarding World and completely encapsulates the films. It's worth it just for walking through the replica of Hogwarts, as it feels as though you're right there. I'm glad i've done it, but i'm not sure i would do it again.

The Dragon Challenge is a duelling roller coaster, built with two tracks that weave and intertwine with each other as if going head-to-head. It's name comes from the first task of the Tri-Wizard Tournament in which Harry had to duel a dragon, and steal it's egg, from The Goblet of Fire. Each coaster is named after one of the well-known species of dragon: The Hungarian Horntail and The Chinese Fireball. On your way up to ride the roller coaster, you pass many Potter relics such as the Tri-Wizard Cup and the Goblet of Fire, as well as Hagrid's Hut and the blue, stolen Ford Anglia belonging to Ron's parents. This ride i actually did give a miss, as upside down coaster are definitely not my thing, it did look brilliant though and i think the concept is ingenious.

The last ride is the Flight of the Hippogriff, and if you haven't watched the films or read the books then you won't know that a Hippogriff is a winged creature with the front legs, wings and head of an eagle with the hind legs and tail of a horse. It's features include a steel coloured beak, piercing orange eyes and deadly talons on it's front legs. The Flight of the Hippogriff is a family orientated roller coaster and it's story is that Hagrid is teaching young wizards all about the Hippogriff, just like in the film and book the Prisoner of Azkaban.  On your way to your lesson you'll pass by Hagrid's Hut in the grounds of the castle, and using a wicker replica of the creature Hagrid will guide you in how to approach the Hippogriff perched on it's nest. You'll then embark on a fast, quickly twisting and turning roller coaster themed to feel like your flying on the mystical creature. I really enjoyed this ride, it was a lot of fun and is definitely very quick, you'll find yourself shooting round the corners but it is over fairly quickly. The line can be found to be fairly long so you'll have to work out whether it's worth it for you, and your family.

Overall, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an amazing experience for non-fans and Potter-buffs alike. It is a fairly small patch of the park that they have packed with detail and attractions. I've heard that the Dragon Challenge and the Flight of the Hippogriff were previously different themed rides, and the basic ride hasn't been changed, they've just had a face lift and theming change. I think that's a little sad, and something you would never find in Disney as everything there is built for it's purpose. However, it is a special place and for Potter-buffs it really is something special. I think it'll be even more exciting once the new Diagon Alley section is built in the Universal Studios park as it'll make the Harry Potter segment a lot bigger and the Hogwarts Express will be able to take you from Hogsmeade straight to Diagon Alley. It really is quite the experience, and something special to do while on holiday - especially if you're a Potterhead.

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