29 September, 2015

Reflecting back on September

September's Monthly Reflection

At the end of each month, I like to reflect back on any achievements and set new goals for the next month. As a relatively new blogger and an intermediate cake decorator, I think it's good to set goals and think about what went well and what didn't! Plus, it'll be good to look back at the reflections at the end of 2015. If you'd like to read my monthly reflections so far, you can see them all here.

This has been a fairly quiet month for me actually, not much has happened but I've been pretty glad of that- it's nice to have some time out. We've had a lot of work going on in our house which has taken up a lot of time and effort, so it means there's been less time for other stuff! October is looking very promising though!

September's Achievements

  • Finally getting back into fitness! Recently I've had a slump in my fitness motivation, but luckily I've been able to pull it back and start working towards my goals again!
  • Opening an Etsy shop I finally decided to open an Etsy shop to sell some of my drawings. It's something I've always wanted to do, but was too scared to! You can find my Etsy shop here.

October's Goals

  • Draw more for my Etsy shop Feel free to request things! :)
  • Continue with the more "daring" bakes Because we've had some work going on in our house this month, I haven't been able to do much baking at all which is really annoying! I'm definitely going to try and do a lot of baking ready for next month though!
  • Blogtober I'd love to do Blogtober, where you post every day for the whole of October. I've always wondered if I'd be able to post every day, so I thought I would give it a go! Wish me luck...!

What are your favourite moments from this month? Let me know!

27 September, 2015

Fitness Update- September

September's Fitness Update

In February this year, I decided to start getting fitter and try to lose some weight ready for my holiday. Since then, most months I've written an update on my fitness, letting you guys know the highs and lows of my journey! You can read the previous posts here.

Motivation is a bitch funny thing right? Last month I was talking about how I didn't have any motivation and it was so hard to get back into the fitness & healthy eating. I was SO bad and even at the beginning of this month I was still really struggling. I've always had a problem with being... well... greedy when it comes to food and I'd definitely slipped back into my old ways, which I'm really annoyed about.

However, I'm pleased to say that this month I've been feeling a lot better and my fitness & healthy eating motivation is getting much higher! It's taken a long time but finally, something seems to have clicked inside my brain and I am now officially back in the game!

A few months ago, a few friends and myself did a kind of "slimming club", where we would whatsapp each other when we needed some willpower and encouragement and once a week we would weigh ourselves and tell each other how much we had lost. It was definitely helpful and I lost a lot when we were doing it. I think it's nice to know that you're not alone in your journey and be able to turn to someone else. I was talking to Jilly and Jess one day, two of my blogging friends, and they are both trying to lose weight and get fit too- so I suggested doing the same to them. Amy joined in too and now we use #GetFitBloggers and a private chat to keep each other motivated and help when we're feeling low on our journey. You're more than welcome to join in with us- or if you and some of your friends are trying to lose weight/get fit, why not start your own? Let me know how you get on!

So at the end of this month, I've managed to lose 3lbs which is fab- and now I only need to lose 2lbs more to be back where I was before I went to Florida, so yay!
Thank you to everyone who's been so supportive when I've been writing these posts, especially last month when I was feeling pretty down. It's definitely helping me to write these posts, so thank you all!

25 September, 2015

What a Disney Parks visit means to me...

What a Disney Parks holiday means to me
Disneyland Paris 1999- Chip was my favourite!

In this post of my series about my 2015 Walt Disney holiday, I thought I would write a post about what visiting a Disney park means to me.

Most of the time if I plan a holiday, it's usually to a Disney Park, whether that be Paris or Florida. Most of my friends and family ask me why I don't try and visit somewhere else, but the answer purely is that I would prefer to spend my money on a Disney holiday than anywhere else.

I thought it would be nice to share with you just why I love visiting Disney Parks so much!

What a Disney Parks holiday means to me
Disneyland Paris 2007- Ugh, what was I thinking with my hair?! 

  • Everyone is always so happy and cheerful- Obviously the staff "have to be cheerful" as websites like The Sun and The Daily Mail LOVE to write about (there can't be any of them that actually enjoy working there obvs), but also the visitors are happy too- I don't think I've ever been able to feel sad when I've been walking around a Disney Park... unless it's the day we're going home!

  • Everywhere is so clean- I am a germaphobe, and I love that although it's hard for them to keep on top of cleaning all the tables etc., the majority of the park is very clean and tidy, the staff work SO hard to keep the place looking perfect and it makes it so much more enjoyable!

  • You can meet your favourite characters- You can't do that anywhere else can you?! (P.S I wrote a post full of tips on meeting your favourite characters here)

  • You feel very much immersed in the world of Disney- Walt Disney's vision was for a place that people could go where they couldn't see the outside world, where everything felt magical and excluded from the harsh realities of real life- and I think they still achieve that today. When I'm in a Disney Park, I feel completely as if the real world is so far away, rather than lurking just outside the parks. Of course, nowadays we have mobile phones etc. to keep us in the loop and contacted with the real world, but what could be nicer than escaping from all that for a while?!
What a Disney Parks holiday means to me
Walt Disney World- June 2015

I'm hoping to revisit Disneyland Paris next year, as a much smaller holiday now that we're saving for our own house. We will definitely return to Walt Disney World one day, but for now we're setting our sights on Disney magic that's closer to home!

What a Disney Parks holiday means to me
Walt Disney World May 2014
One day, I would ideally love to visit all of the Disney Parks- Disneyland in Anaheim, California, Tokyo Disney, Disneyland Hong Kong and the new Disneyland being built in Shanghai. Will I be able to visit them all? Probably not, but I can dream can't I?!

What Disney Parks have you visited and what do you like most about visiting them?
What a Disney Parks holiday means to me
Walt Disney World June 2015

22 September, 2015

Making a Rose out of fondant | Cake Decorating for Beginners

It's been months since I last wrote a cake decorating tutorial, I'm so sorry! I've got a few planned now though, so you'll be seeing a lot more of these from now on! :)

A while ago, I made these Rose cupcakes which everyone seemed to really like, so I thought I would show you how I created the little roses from fondant so that you can make them too!

All you will need for this is some fondant- you can use tools, but I'm going to show you how to make them without tools!

How to make a rose from fondant icing

First, roll a small ball of fondant between your hands.

How to make a rose from fondant icing
How to make a rose from fondant icing

Then, roll a slightly smaller ball of fondant and then flatten with your fingers (or you can use a ball tool if you have one). You'll want to make it as thin as you can, without making it too flimsy that it will fall apart!

How to make a rose from fondant icing
How to make a rose from fondant icing

Wrap the flattened ball of fondant around your first ball, moulding it to the shape of the ball like above.
Then just keep repeating! Wrap them around the sides, experiment with larger and smaller petals etc., until it looks something like the below:

How to make a rose from fondant icing

It really is that simple! I always thought roses looked quite difficult to make until I learnt how to do it, so don't be afraid! I'd love to see your creations too, so make sure you tweet me or tag me on instagram- I'm @cakeydreamer on both! :) Also with Halloween coming up next month- black roses will make any cake look spooky yet pretty!

How to make a rose from fondant icing

20 September, 2015

Cruisin' on the River Thames

Boat ride on the River Thames
I doubt it's actually called cruising if it's on a small boat, but sailing didn't seem right either!

I recently met up with an old friend of mine in Kingston-Upon-Thames, which is near where I'm originally from, and we went shopping and had some lunch together. Unfortunately, it was the weekend before payday and therefore was only window shopping- and I don't know about you, but for me there is nothing more depressing than window shopping!

We then decided to go for a walk along the Thames as it was such a nice day and we found that you can get a boat along the Thames, either to Hampton Court Palace or to Richmond Park. I'd actually been to Hampton Court the weekend before, but as the Richmond boat took a lot longer and was less often, we decided to go back to Hampton Court anyway.

I was actually surprised how affordable the boat was, it only came to around £15 for both of us for return tickets- I expected it to be a lot more than that considering you're on the River Thames and it's such a "tourist" attraction!

The boat itself was really lovely, there was outside seating (albeit limited and obviously the most popular choice on a sunny day) and inside of the boat there was a licensed bar which means you can completely relax as you cruise along the river. (We LOVED looking at all the different houses, they're SO gorgeous and who wouldn't want a garden leading down to the Thames?!)

Boat Ride on the River Thames
The trip each way took around 35 minutes, so plenty of time to enjoy yourself and get a good walk around the boat. The trip to Richmond I believe takes around an hour each way and therefore costs a bit more and is less often. I haven't been to Richmond in YEARS so I definitely think next time I'm back in Kingston I might try that journey!

If you want to find out more about the cruise I went on, you can find out more on Turks' website. You can also hire the boats for birthdays and weddings, so maybe Dan and I will have to keep that in mind when we plan our wedding! ;) (I love that I'm always thinking of potential wedding venues wherever I visit now, I was the same at Hampton Court!)

I also want to quickly say that Turks do NOT know I have written this post and have not asked me to either- I just really enjoyed the experience and wanted to share it with you guys! :)

18 September, 2015

Walt Disney World 2015- Memorable Moments

I hope you're still enjoying all of my posts about my recent trip to Walt Disney World! If you haven't seen the previous posts, you can find those here.

The last few posts have been all about the different parks, my favourite restaurants, characters etc. This post is just pretty much going to be some of my favourite moments from Walt Disney World!

Splitsville Bowling Alley- Walt Disney World
Ultra cool drinkware from Splitsville Bowling Alley in Downtown Disney! We got to keep them too, pretty cool huh?! ;)

Meeting Lady Tremaine and the stepsisters in Walt Disney World
Meeting Lady Tremaine and her, er, beautiful daughters- they were hilarious. Anastasia saw my ring and said "yay, you're marrying for money, well done!" and clapped. I laughed SO hard. Then they asked where we were from and Anastasia said "I've been to England in my dreams. I looked beautiful." to which Drizella whispered in my ear, "that's the only time she looks beautiful!". Amazing meet and greet!

Disney Floral & Gifts Surprise!
Dan's aunt was the only person who knew about the engagement as she works for a travel company and booked the holiday for us. She and his uncle and cousin sent this to our room! What a lovely surprise!

Meeting Alice in Walt Disney World
"You must be the King and Queen of your Kingdom! Does it work the same way as in my Kingdom- all ways are the Queen's ways?" Why yes Alice, yes it does *insert sassy girl emoji here*

Rainforest Cafe- Downtown Disney
Rainforest Cafe make amazing cocktails! I can't remember what these were (because I have a bad memory, not due to drunkenness), but I do know we enjoyed them!

I have a million more photos and moments, but I feel that I should end it here before I bombard you too much! I really, really hope you've enjoyed this series of posts about my trip and that I haven't gone on too much. I've really loved sharing the photos and memories with you all, and you all seem to have enjoyed them which is great! <3 Let me know if there's anything else from my trip you would like to see or know about in the comments!

13 September, 2015

Following my dreams & opening an Etsy shop!

Etsy Shop

Hello everyone!

I'm super excited to be writing this post, because this week I finally did something that I never thought I would do. I opened an Etsy shop to start selling some of my artwork.

Last month, I posted this post about my old dreams and showed you some of my favourite drawings from the past and recent times. I'd always liked them, but never thought they were that good, until so many of you commented on the post and told me how good they were, or took to Twitter or other social media to let me know how much you liked them. So, I'd really like to thank each and every one of you for giving me the confidence to finally do something with my art, rather than just letting it sit in a folder doing nothing.

I'm not expecting a lot, but even if I just sold a few I would be happy. At the moment I have a few pieces for sale, but I am working on more and I'm hoping to maybe do commissions in the future. Plus, it's pushing me to spend more time drawing, which is the push I needed to start doing more.

You can find my Etsy shop here, and I would really appreciate any support from you all- and thank you SO much again for helping me to build my confidence!

11 September, 2015

Downtown Disney/Disney Springs!

We spent quite a bit of time on our trip at Downtown Disney, we absolutely love it. Soon to be transforming into Disney Springs, it is THE place to go if you're looking for good food, drinks, or just some fun experiences. Oh, and shopping- if that's your kinda thing ;)
I've already featured a lot of Downtown Disney's restaurants and bars in my post about my favourite restaurants in Walt Disney World, so I thought in this post I'd focus more on the shopping and experiences!

World of Disney
World of Disney is the largest character store in the world. That's right, the LARGEST. It is filled with toys, homeware, clothing, stationery and so much more and is probably the most dangerous place for a Disney fan like me to enter. You will not leave with the same amount of money you had when you enter, that is for sure. I bought SO much from this store it is unbelievable and I defy anyone to try and leave without finding at least one thing you want.

Once Upon a Toy
This is a super fun toy shop and yes- there are toys in here that you can't find in World of Disney! Dan liked that you could build your own lightsaber and I loved the Princess part- even if I was still disappointed in the lack of merchandise for Snow White and many of my other favourite princesses. Tons of Frozen stuff though, but that probably doesn't surprise you! This is also the only place that sells Tsum Tsums in Walt Disney World (that we could see anyway!).

The Art of Disney
As a self-confessed dreamer of being an animator, this shop appeals to me because of the beautiful artwork that you can buy. Plus, there are artists inside who will draw a picture especially for you! Now that's pretty cool right?! You can also find beautiful ornaments and trinkets to take home. I didn't buy anything here unfortunately because I didn't know how I would get it home safely, but it was hard not to!

This is probably Dan's favourite thing we did in Walt Disney World, Design-a-tee is a shop where you can create your own T-shirts! It's really cool and Dan designed a t-shirt with Mike and Sulley on, he was SO chuffed with it bless him!

Splitsville Bowling Alley
Splitsville Bowling Alley
Moving away from the shops and onto the experiences- Splitsville is probably the best bowling alley I've ever been to! Look at the glasses you get to drink your soft drinks from- and there are free refills in this all day long! You can also have a full sit down meal while you bowl and their menu is pretty spectacular. I don't think I've ever seen a bowling alley offer sushi before!

AMC 24 Dine in Theatre
On our last night before coming home, we booked to see Inside Out at this cinema (if you've seen Inside Out, what did you think?!) and were not disappointed at all. Before the film starts, a server will take your order for drinks, main course and dessert. Their menu, by the way, is SO good and features things from Bacon Cheeseburgers to Shrimp Tacos! Then, before the film starts they will bring you your main course and drinks, and once you have finished, they will bring your dessert out at a suitable time. It didn't feel rushed, they didn't try to force you to eat your food quickly, it just felt like a really nice addition to watching the film. Actually, I think more cinemas should be able to be like this! It definitely wasn't cheap, but felt so worth it. Also- chairs that lean back without affecting the person sitting behind you are always a winner too!

If you've visited Downtown Disney before, what are your favourite experiences?! I could write a whole bunch more but I will stop myself there! If you haven't been, let me know if any of the above sounds good to you!

EDIT: Downtown Disney has now changed it's name to Disney Springs- in case you're confused when you go and there's no Downtown Disney! ;)

P.S., you can see the rest of the series about my 2015 WDW holiday here.

08 September, 2015

A taste of the 50's at Nelson's Diner

Nelson's Diner
Ever since I watched Grease as a child, I've always loved the idea of the 50's. Not everything about it of course, but the diners and the outfits, the music, it all seemed like such a fun time to be a teenager!

Near where I live is Nelson's Diner, a place in between Basingstoke and Newbury which serves American style food, with 50's style decor and servers dressed in 50's style attire. I've been coming to Nelson's for years, but thought I would share my most recent visit with you!

One of my favourite things about a visit to Nelson's is the milkshakes. They have over 50 flavours and all are just as yummy as the next. They even have a few unexpected flavours- like Christmas pudding!

Nelson's Diner
The food portions are always HUGE as well, but no different to the actual portion sizes you receive in America! I'm a huge fan of their burgers, which range from the usual cheeseburgers to the unusual "Hawaiian" burger. They also serve breakfast, which I'm yet to try myself but I've heard they are amazing- I can imagine their pancakes being incredible!

Nelson's Diner is pretty infamous in and around where I live- a lot of my friends go there and I know they all love it too. There are a lot of regular customers and their loyalty was proved recently, when they had an awful break in. Luckily, the support of their loyal customers helped them to rebuild their beloved diner to it's former glory. I think that's what I love about Nelson's, they genuinely care about their customers and therefore their customers really care about them.

If you're ever in the area, I definitely recommend visiting Nelson's Diner!

06 September, 2015

Tower of London

As I mentioned in one of my previous blog posts, recently my mum's American penpal came to England to visit us and to see the sights we have to offer. I told you all about our visit to Hampton Court Palace, but the next place I visited with them was the Tower of London.

The Tower of London has a pretty bad reputation as a bit of a "torture palace", due to it being the place that Henry VIII used to lock up all of the people he assumed to be traitors and where the majority of them were killed. But before that, it was actually a place for protection for the Kings and Queens against enemies and it was really interesting to learn about that! 

Having said that... I did find the trip a little boring. It probably sounds a bit gory, but I actually wished you could have seen where people died and where they were locked up to await death, simply because that is a huge part of the tower's history and what most people know it for. You can see where Anne Boleyn was beheaded, however it's only a patch of grass with nothing on it, so there isn't really much to show for it :/

I did enjoy seeing the Crown Jewels however. You can't take photos inside so I unfortunately can't show them to you, but they are absolutely magnificent and something you should definitely see for yourself. 

If you are looking for the more "gory" side of the Tower, there is an area which shows you some of the instruments they used to torture traitors, like the rack. There was one called the Scavengers Daughter, which I had never heard of before but apparently they would make the person put their calves against their thighs and their thighs against their chest, so they were basically curled into a ball, and then they would crush them slowly to death. It was the most barbaric form of torture, it sounds awful!!

I thought I'd share some of my favourite photos with you like I did in my Hampton Court post- let me know what you think!

In the original part of the Tower, this was the previous throne room. The throne looks grand but it was surprising how bland and boring the actual room was!

This is Traitor's gate- where traitors were brought in to be locked up or beheaded. This is where Anne Boleyn would have been brought in. Isn't history interesting?!

I love this picture of Henry VIII's suit of armour- look at the groin area hahaha! Pfft, he wished...

How odd does it look to have the olde-style Tower of London against the modern buildings of London?!

I do think the Tower of London is worth seeing, but maybe have something else planned for afterwards! My mum and her friend loved it, so maybe I am alone in thinking it was a bit boring, so let me know what you think if you've visited before!

04 September, 2015

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom Tree of Life
I hope you're still enjoying all of my posts about my recent trip to Walt Disney World! If you haven't seen the previous posts, you can find those here.

When we visited Walt Disney World in 2014, Animal Kingdom was probably our least favourite park. We just didn't think there was much to do there but we were SO wrong! I think it's because as we only had a week last year, we rushed around a lot so we missed things, this year it was more relaxed as we had two weeks, so we found a lot more to do, now it's definitely NOT our least favourite park at all!

I think what I love about Animal Kingdom is how beautiful it all is and you really feel like there is nature all around you. They're very involved with looking after the environment and animals and it is mentioned in a lot of places, but without it being too in your face which can be a bit annoying. So, as with my previous posts in this series, let me tell you what I personally think are the top things to do in the Animal Kingdom!

Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom
Kilimanjaro Safari
This is the number one thing to do at Animal Kingdom. This safari takes you round to see lions, elephants, zebras, giraffes and SO much more. I haven't seen an elephant in real life since I was a little girl (remember when London Zoo used to have those poor elephants?!) so I was so excited to see them again. I don't even know where my closest zoo with elephants is if I'm honest though! This always has long queues, so we had a fastpass for it. I think I actually would queue for this though, it was that good. I love how the safari guide is so knowledgeable (yeah, it's definitely a script but they still had to learn that script!) and that they tell good jokes. The ride is bumpy though, so if your camera has a sports setting, use it. Mine unfortunately, does not. :(
Also, Disney recently announced at D23 that they will be doing sunset safari's, so they will keep the ride open later, which sounds like it will be amazing!

Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom
Dinosaur has given me trust issues guys. I was told by a friend that it was a harmless simulator ride like Star Tours, so you know it's not real and it's not scary at all. Well, I was lied to because it is NOT a simulator ride, you actually do drive around in a little car and you go RIGHT up to the dinosaurs and I screamed my lungs out. You know a ride is scaring you to death when you have to chant to yourself "little kids can do this, little kids can do this...". Do go on it though, it's a lot of fun!

Kali River Rapids
I really think this ride is the best when it's your first time. It's always fun though, but when you don't know where the drops are it's so funny. This ride is a water ride (so you WILL get wet) that will spin you and drop you (only small drops) and is just so much fun.

I hope you're still enjoying reading these posts as much as I'm enjoying writing them! It's helping me keep the Disney magic alive for a little bit longer! And to finish, here's a bonus picture of me meeting Tarzan ;)
Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom

01 September, 2015

Making Cake Pops!

A while ago, I wrote about a book I had bought on Cake Pops and said how much I would like to try and make them. I had tried before buying the book but they'd gone very wrong and I hadn't tried again.

This bank holiday weekend, I finally got round to retrying making cake pops with my best friend. Neither of us had done it before so we were both a bit apprehensive about how they were going to turn out...

We bought a cake pop mould to make the actual cakes (You can just make a normal cake and then crush it all up and put it back together, but to be honest I think this way is a million times easier and more likely to be successful!), and we just used a normal vanilla sponge recipe.

Cake Pops
Luckily, they turned out much better than when I previously tried them! We found the hearts and stars had done much better, but then they didn't need to rise as much as the balls or "cupcakes" did.

To decorate, we tried using candy melts, however we thought that the consistency was a bit too thick and when we tried to melt it again we microwaved it for too long and it went VERY weird- we decided not to use the rest haha!

Cake Pops
Cake Pops
So, plan B became use normal icing and then cover in sprinkles. #sprinklesmakeeverythingbetter (That's actually an Instagram hashtag!) We managed to salvage them and they look pretty good don't they?!

I definitely think I want to try cake pops again, they're perfect for children's parties but as my friend and I were saying, how cute would they be at a wedding?!

Have you tried making cake pops before? Feel free to leave me some tips!

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