Sunday, 24 April 2016
You may or may not know, but I am a huge book worm. I always have a book on the go and love nothing better than curling up and getting lost in a fictional world. Whereas I get bored with films and TV shows, books have a way of keeping me hooked in a way that no other form of entertainment can. Unfortunately last year I went through a massive reading slump and it wasn't until I started watching my friend Roisin's booktube videos, and from them the whole world of booktube, that I was really inspired to rediscover my love for reading again. To keep me on track I joined GoodReads and set myself a challenge to read 52 books in 2016, that's a book a week! Now to me, this doesn't seems like a lot as I've been known to devour 5 books in a week, but I guess it will have to make up for weeks that I'm working a lot or don't have much time to read.
As of April 24th 2016 I have read 16 books this year and have a "to read" list that is miles long! Books I have read so far include a series re-read in Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series and a part re-read in Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments Series (I originally read the first 4 books years ago, but never finished it, so am rectifying the situation). I have also started the Grisha Trilogy by Lee Bardugo and the Queen of the Tearling Trilogy by Erika Johansen, in which the final book is being released later this year.
My immediate "to be read" books are the final two Mortal Instruments Series books (City of Lost Souls & City of Heavenly Fire) which will then open up Lady Midnight to me, as i don't feel like I can read it until I've finished the original story. I'm also planning on finishing the Grisha Trilogy and a few other series "loose ends" such as the final book in the Sookie Stackhouse Chronicles that I still haven't read!
Do you enjoy reading? Have you set yourself a reading challenge for 2016?
Sunday, 10 April 2016
If you have followed me for a while you will know that in summer 2013 I was a cast member at Walt Disney World, so today I am going to share with you some "Rules" Disney has for employees and why most of these still apply to me today. Disney provides Cast Members with world class training and some of the things I was taught will stay with me forever.
1. The Disney Point. This is absolutely a thing. During training I was taught that we must only point or gesture using 2 fingers, as pointing with 1 can be considered rude in some cultures. I will now only ever point using 2 fingers, and I'm pretty sure most former cast members will agree that it just sticks.
2. Never say I don't know. It was drilled into us that were never to say "I don't know" to a guest if asked a question. Even if it was something we had no idea about, we had to radio the coordinators to find the answer.
3. The bend and scoop. Cast Members are encouraged to feel proud of their park both when working and when visiting as a guest, that meant picking up any litter hanging around. We were taught to do this in a particular way while walking, dubbed the bend a scoop, the name being pretty self explanatory for the action. Even though I am no longer a cast member, you will sometimes find me doing the bend and scoop in the parks while tutting and muttering about litterbugs.
4. Never break character onstage. This does not only apply to entertainment cast members, but everyone. From keeping a smile on your face to telling stories, we were all in character while on stage. Why is there a wire going from Cinderella's castle you ask? Well Prince Charming needs somewhere to hang his washing, doesn't he?
5. Disney Look. Disney are very strict on Cast Member grooming, which includes not having any visible tattoos or piercings (except 1 pair of studs in ears, female only), hair colour has to be natural and cannot show a difference of more than 2 shades (meaning no highlights or dip dyes, also dyed hair cannot have roots showing), men's hair cannot go below their ears, no extreme hairstyles, no jewelry (except a plain wedding band or religious symbols) and neat looking nails are among a few of the guidelines put in place. These are enforced, especially when becoming a new Cast Member. We were all "inspected" by a manager and if anyone was found to be not sporting the Disney Look they had to change it.
6. Make Magic. We were encouraged to always make magic for our guests. People spend thousands to come to Disney, and some may not ever make it back again, so making every moment count was key. From wishing someone a "Happy Birthday" to giving a free bucket of popcorn, it's the little things that keep people smiling during a hot, busy Florida summer.
7. Getting down to their level. Children are at the heart of Disney, and Cast Members are to treat them as equals. When talking to a child we were always to get down on one knee so we were at their level, making the child not feel talked down too, but like that are equally as important in a conversation. By making that child feel special and putting a smile on their face, it gives the parents a much needed break from a possible upcoming temper tantrum.
Being a Cast Member really was one of the most magical experiences of my whole life and really helped me develop my skills in the workplace while giving me memories that will last a lifetime. If only I could re-live that summer again and again!
Have you ever been a Cast Member?
Sunday, 28 February 2016
After seeing Sam and Sarah do posts like this, I thought I would join in and share with you some of my Disney confessions. I've really dug deep for these and have never really admitted them out loud until now. Some, I'm even ashamed at myself for. Please don't hate/disown me!
1. I don't watch Disney movies very often. When I say very often, I mean I probably watch 1 every few months. While I do love the films, I'm just not a big movie person. I get bored so quickly and most of the time end up wandering off half way though. This goes for all movies of course, not just Disney.
2. I called Walt Disney World "Disneyland Florida" up until I was 20. The shame! It's now one of my biggest pet peeves it's so shameful to admit that i made the same blasphemous mistakes in the past. These days I even correct people when they call it Disneyland. In fact, I only really started getting into Disney when I turned 21 and visited Disneyland Paris. Before then I wasn't massively fussed. Since then, a whole new world has opened to me and I feel like I've found my 'thing' in the Disney fandom.
3. I'm not a big fan of Toy Story. I know this is technically Pixar and was first released as such, but it falls under the Disney umbrella so totally counts. Anyway, I've just never really been into the franchise. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike it, I just wouldn't choose to watch it or buy the merchandise.
4. I never go on Soarin'. I've been on it in the past, and it just doesn't interest me. I don't want to waste a fastpass on it nor wait in a long queue for it. I will probably try it again when the refurb is over, with the new theme/scenes, but I doubt it will "wow" me.
5. I really miss 'The Sorcerer's Hat" in Hollywood Studios. Some old school Disney fans may hate on the hat, but I loved it! It means so much more to me than the Chinese Theater, as I'm not a film person at all. I feel that it really linked with Fantasmic and just brought the park together a little more, although if it was still there now I doubt it would have brought that current mess of a park together at all.
Do you have any Disney confessions?
Wednesday, 24 February 2016
One of the things I was most concerned about with being a Vegan at Disneyland Paris was the counter/quick service options. With table service it's easy enough to get something replaced or substituted, but most counter service meals are pre-made/made in bulk so it's harder to swap and change things. Luckily, I did manage to find some options that were meat, dairy and egg free. This, combined with some sit down meals, kept me well fed during my trip, although i would recommend taking some snacks for the hotel room/on the go munching.
Breakfast at Sequoia Lodge
The continental breakfast at Disney hotels, while very pastry and cold meat/cheese based, do offer quite a few vegan options. I did ask a cast member if any of the products I had contained any dairy/eggs, just incase, so as far as I am aware these items from the breakfast buffet are vegan. I pretty much got the same things everyday which included Frosties (frosties in europe are vegan friendly unlike their US counterparts), toast with jam and breadrolls dipped in chopped tomatoes that I used the microwave to heat up. I was also over the moon that soya milk is available so took advantage of stuffing myself full of cereal. There is also whole fruit and a fruit cocktail available, but the latter I wasn't a fan of as it tasted really bitter.
Earl of Sandwich
Earl of Sandwich has always been one of my absolute favorite places to eat at Disney, usually opting for the Caprese (€6.95). I had heard that they can substitute items in their sandwiches so off we trotted, keeping my fingers crossed that my obsession with EOS wouldn't come to a devastating end. When reaching the order point I asked the lady if I could substitute the mozzarella cheese in the caprese for avocado, to which she replied "are you a vegan?" Wait what... someone who knows what a Vegan is? Oh praise Walt! She then proceeded to ask the manager if i could get the avocado at no extra cost as i wasn't having cheese (usually its extra), to which they agreed. The lady then told me that she was becoming a Vegan herself and that the rest of the sandwich is suitable. Needless to say by this point I was beaming. We power walked back to the hotel and I devoured my sandwich, which I do have to say, was absolutely amazing. I need another one in my life asap!
Bella Norte is probably one of the only counter service locations in Disneyland Paris that has a Vegan meal already on the menu, that isn't salad or chips. The Rigatoni Napolitana (€8.99) is pretty much a pasta with tomato sauce, but its delicious! Simply yet satisfying. I had it twice during the trip, once as a meal (€11.99) with the side salad (the dressing for that is also vegan, having a white bean base for the light colouring). There is also a vegetarian salad that's vegan which my friend had and said its very good.
Market House Deli
Before I went to Disneyland Paris I read on a blog that the Bagnat aux légumes grillés (€6) served at Market House Deli had recently become Vegan friendly. It used to be made with pesto which contained dairy, but has since been replaced by an aubergine paste. The sandwich contains a medley of roasted vegetables and rocket, which combined with the paste makes a tasty lunch option. I'm not a big fan of wholemeal breads and seeds, but the filling sure made up for that. I would double check that it isn't made with pesto in future, as recipes can change, i asked the lady on the till and she confirmed there was no pesto in it.
I didn't have many snacks during this trip, mostly just devouring bucket loads of tea to counteract the cold weather. One evening I did treat myself to a bucket of popcorn, which the vendor said was made with popcorn kernels, sugar and vegetable oil. The popcorn in Walt Disney World is made this way and is suitable for vegans (I used to work on the popcorn stands in Magic Kingdom), so I'm pretty confident that Disneyland Paris follows suit. I also had a soya milk hot chocolate from Starbucks on the walk back to the hotel once or twice. There are also chips/fries available from most counter service locations which are great for a light lunch or for when you are feeling just a bit peckish, just ask to make sure they aren't cooked with the meat.
I do suggest you make your own enquiries when visiting Disneyland Paris, as recipes can change and language barriers can mean the wrong information is given. There isn't a massive selection of Vegan food as compared with the American parks, but it's a start and I hope in the future they will provide a lot more options for those with specific dietary requirements. Just know that you're not going to starve and that i would recommend doing your research before a visit.
Monday, 15 February 2016
Rémy Menu: 1 Starter & 1 Main Course €29.99
Starter: Mixed leaf salad without cheese and without dressing.
Main Course: Vegetable, tofu and white bean casserole without the sauce.
Eating Vegan is notoriously difficult in France, apparently its not really a "thing" there. So I was pretty nervous to whether I was going to be able to find something to eat during my recent Disneyland Paris trip. I've never really had a problem eating vegetarian there, so was hopeful that i could find something suitable. I am going to be doing another post on Quick Service/Counter Service options and my experience at Auberge De Cendrillion, but today's post is about a place I've wanted to eat at since it opened, Bistrot Chez Rémy. This a recent addition to Disneyland Paris, themed around the film Ratatouille in where you are "shrunk down" to the size of Rémy and his friends. As we visited Disneyland Paris during the off-peak season, it was easy enough to make a reservation on the same day, us opting to go for a late lunch. Upon being seated I told the hostess that I don't eat any meat, dairy or eggs, to which she then recommended the salad starter and Tofu and White Bean Casserole, both without the sauce. I knew I was going to go for this option anyway but it was lovely of her to reassure me that the dish can be made dairy-free. There are 4 different menus of "set meals" that you can choose, each varying in price and what dishes are served, to which I chose the Rémy Menu. This includes a starter and main course, and also happens to be the cheapest. With my annual pass we also got a free none-alcoholic "cocktail" as well as 10% off the bill. Not bad! I was concerned that without a sauce, the food was going to be a little dry but I had no need to worry, adding a little olive oil to the salad to make it just right. The main had no need for any such additions, being cooked to perfection and adequately moist. I thoroughly enjoyed the casserole, the only disappointing factor being when I finished eating it! Do note that portion sizes in Disneyland Paris are alot different to the American parks. They are a lot smaller, and as someone who is used to eating in Walt Disney World restaurants, I did kind of wish I had more food on my plate or some sort of side.
The service at Bistrot Chez Rémy was great, our server being friendly and attentive. There was a bit of a language barrier when my friend Daniel tried asking did the cheese have meat rennet in it, the server didn't really understand what we were trying to say (which is fair enough), so he just went without cheese just to be safe. I would be wary with having cheese in France if you're vegetarian, as french cheese can be made with meat products.
Overall I really enjoyed the meal and would totally recommend it to anyone, not only those looking for a Vegan option. It's a great atmosphere (if not a little bit of a squeeze, tables seem to sit much closer together in Disneyland Paris restaurants than I'm used too), amazing decor, lovely service and delicious food.
Have you eaten at Bistrot Chez Rémy?
Monday, 25 January 2016
When it comes to mascara, I've never really favored one particular brand or been inspired to try anything raved about. I just pick up whatever is there. However, after trying my sisters Lights, Camera, Action by Tarte, I just had to have one of my own. Opting for the waterproof version, as it was mere weeks before my annual Florida holiday, Lights, Camera, Splashes set me back about £15. Pretty steep for a mascara in my opinion, but when I consider how amazingly it has performed I won't hesitate to repurchase.
The packaging is a little strange, I don't hate it nor love it, while the wand has short bristles which I personally prefer as my lashes are really short and stumpy, so I can really "get in there" with the product for maximum effect. It successfully manages to lengthen while not clumping up and doesn't smudge at all. When I say waterproof, I really mean waterproof. I wore this to the pool when on holiday and it was still there 3 hours later. Now that does mean it is tough to remove, needing a dollop of cleanser and a good ol' massage, but I would personally prefer that over something that's going to smudge all over the place. I am 100% going to be repurchasing this mascara, although I think this time I'm going to go for the non-waterproof version to see how that holds up.
Pros: Lengthening, None-Clumpy, Doesn't Smudge, Very Waterproof, Easy Application, Pigmented, Cruelty Free.
Cons: Difficult to Remove.
Have you tried any Tarte mascaras? What's your favourite waterproof mascara?
Friday, 22 January 2016
It's been 3 weeks since I decided to embrace a Vegan diet, and surprisingly it's been rather easy. Heck, the most difficult part has been in eating healthy food, as I've been back and forth between my new home in Chester and my parents home in St Helens, due to my transfer at work being delayed. The more I learn about a Vegan lifestyle, the more I'm determined to stick with it and it's really encouraging me to be creative in the kitchen. Now that I'm 100% based at home, I'm going to get a little meal planner on the go so me and Craig can cook delicious home-made food around our busy working lives. Just to note, Craig hasn't gone Vegan or even vegetarian. He does primarily eat what I eat at home and rarely buys meat in, but he will eat whatever when he's out. I'm lucky to have such a supportive boyfriend, as I know some whose partners refuse to eat meat-free.
I put a little video together of my first week of Vegan eating, which is up on my second Lifestyle based YouTube channel. It's not the healthiest of weeks, but sometimes I just don't have time for more than "grab and go" food. As I learn more I'm sure that my skills in the kitchen will improve and expand!
Are you a Vegan or Vegetarian? What's your "go-to" meat-free dish?