20 September 2016

My Top 3 Disneyworld Planing Podcasts

In the last few years I have turned into a bit of a podcast fiend!  When I’m not listening to true crime podcast changes are I’m listening to some kind of Disney planning podcast, even if I’m not actually planning a holiday there yet!  I love keeping up with all the changes, new stuff and rumours!

When I head to Florida next month it will have been 4 years since I last headed over, one of my longest gaps ever, and oh boy has there been some changes!  Not least the addition of Magic Bands/ My Magic Plus, the most stressful change at all for someone not used to that system!  Here are the podcasts I’ve been listening to keep me ahead of the game, and try and rest my stressed out planning brain!

The Dis Unplugged
I’m starting off with the very best, and The Dis is definitely it.  Their insights into all Disneyworld related news, rumours and reviews, even of the smallest elements, are second to none.  On top of that they don't sugarcoat their opinions.  If Disney do things they don’t like, they aren’t afraid to say it, and will give you advice on how to make Disneyworld for you no matter what your holiday group consists of.  I have also started listening to one of their sister podcasts, The Dis Unplugged Universal Edition for info on Universal Studios which is also great.  If you are only going to listen to one, make it this one!

The Unofficial Guide’s Disney Dish with Jim Hill
I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how good the book The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World is, it is the one thing you need to get if you are looking into a Disney World Holiday.  If The Dis Unplugged is the must have Podcast, this is the must-have book.  The Unofficial Guide Podcast is created by the same person who creates the book, and features Jim Hill who is a Disney historian who knows seemingly everything about the parks and their history.  They switch between news and advice, to some really fascinating historical overviews of the parks, well worth a listen!

The WDW Radio Show
I think this is one of the first fan-based Disney World media projects I ever followed, originally via their Youtube channel years ago.  Presented by Lou Mongello, an expert on all things food related in Disney, this podcasts involves reviews, news and answers questions submitted by viewers.  A great place to find an answer to any of your concerns or worries, or just to find some great snacks in the parks!

So there you have it, what do you turn to when planning a holiday?

16 September 2016

What I Wore: Yelp 50's Party

Do you ever fall in love with a dress, and realise it’s on sale at the same time?  It’s a rare combination, but when it strikes you’ve got to get it fast!  Recently, as both Lindy Bop and Collectif had amazing sales on, I spent a bit too much money taking advantage of both.  One item I fell in love with and just had to get my hands on, was this Marion Red Anchor Print dress by Lindy Bop.

Now we all know that Lindy Bop products can vary when it comes to quality and sizing, so I was disappointed but not surprised when this arrived in a size that should have fit me well, but was actually way too big.  They were out in the smaller sizes so my heart sunk.  However I had really fallen for the dress, so I stalked the website until the size I was after suddenly appeared.  This is from Lindybop’s more expensive ‘made in Britain’ range, and after seeing the difference in quality I would definitely order from this range again.  The material is thicker than usual and elasticated, it fits so well and it’s completely comfortable.  The material also never needs ironing when it comes out of the wash which is a major win in any book for me!  My only criticism is that as I have worn this more and more, I feel like the neckline is getting lower and lower and it’s becoming a little indecent, I don’t want to have my bra on show.  I often have this issue as I have a short upper body and shoulders, I wonder if it is stretching in the wash?
Bandana: old
Hair flower: Collectif, old season
Belt: from a different dress
Bag: Banned Clothing, gift
Petticoat: Lindy Bop
Shoes: ebay, no longer available
Pics by Lissa
In these pics I was headed to a 50’s themed event ran by Yelp at Love, Die, Late, along with Greece playing in the background, free cocktails and amazing food it’s hard to think this event wasn’t made just for me!  To add to the 50’s aesthetic I wore my new Petticoat with the dress, another find in the Lindybop sale.  I tried a 30-inch length (way too long!) and a 28 inch and this is the 28.  In hindsight it’s actually still too long, even when I have it pulled up over my waist it still just peaks out, I think in future I'll be looking for 26’s to fit my 5 foot 3 frame, you live and learn.  I got this petticoat for a total steal and was surprised at the quality.  I’ve owned a few petticoats in the past but this one feels like my most luxurious.  I love the shape it gives (sometimes I find petticoats that flair out too high up just make me look bigger, instead of the desired 50’s shape) and it is seriously soft.  It also has a really nice lining which stops from the dreaded itch which has made me tear off some of my cheaper versions in the past.  

Shoe wise I was heading straight from work and wanted to walk to the event, so as usual I choose comfort over style with these £5 ebay finds, wish I’d got these in more colours now!  I am still yet to master doing anything interesting with my super annoying thick hair so I added a red bandana and Collectif hair flower to my ponytail to give me a more ‘teen on her way to a sock hop look’.  Do I also get points for matching my nails, Fitbit and bag?  Totally not accidental….

Overall I have to say I really enjoyed wearing this outfit, and I got compliments from strangers and you can’t ask for more than that.  I’d love to hear your thoughts?

14 September 2016

Top 10 Unmissable Universal Studios and Island of Adventure Rides

My last visit to Universal Studios was in 2012, and as Universal can turn out half a new park in the same time it takes Disney to finish building a car park, you’ve got to believe there is a ton of new stuff I want to explore here, as well as re-visiting some old favorites!  Here are the attractions I can’t wait to jump on in each of the parks next month (OMG I can say next month now!)

Universal Studios
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
This is the big one from Universal!  I have heard nothing but praise about this next generation immersive ride, and nothing but dread about how crazy the queues get!  I will be making a beeline for this at opening that’s for sure!  I’ve heard the queue theming alone is incredible.  None of Diagon Alley was open during my last visit so I can’t wait to see it all here.
Revenge of the Mummy
One of my most favorite roller coasters of all time, it doesn't even seem like a rollercoaster throughout most of it!  Between the special effects, the surprises, and the incredible set this is no ordinary coaster!  I could ride this all day, and the queue fits in perfectly in Universal’s ‘backstage at the movies’ aesthetic, as it takes you from movie set to the supernatural as you head further in.  It’s a little scary, and a lot of fun!
Men in Black Alien Attack
This is Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin’s bigger and more hardcore brother, and as long as you can hold on to your lunch, it’s much better!  The set is huge and incredible, there are a lot of unexpected twists and a competitive element that ups the ante from the Disney version.  Don’t forget to never press the red button….
Transformers: The Ride 3-D
This is another new addition since my last visit, and I am a huge Transformers!  Transformers is the perfect addition to universals repertoire and again, I’ve heard good things about this rollercoaster come simulator ride.  
Hogwarts Express
This isn’t listed as an actual ride and it is technically classed as transport, as it goes between both parks but I chose to add it here because we all know it’s a major attraction!  Apparently each way show different scenes and I can’t wait to see both.  It's seemingly really realistic too, I’ve seen some pictures of their version of King's Cross station and it’s early similar to the old version of King’s Cross here in London before the reascent re-do.
Islands of Adventure
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
I love this ride!  It’s worth it for the queue alone, it’s a fully detailed Hogwarts!  Honestly, the special effects in the queue are almost as exciting as the ride.  You wind through the castle before you board visiting the defense against the dark arts classroom, Dumbledore's office and so much more.  The ride itself is so immersive that you totally lose sight of what is actually real.  It’s so in depth I can’t even describe it, but image you're on a broomstick, being flung around on a robot, while simulated and real scenes play out in front of you, with roller coaster elements to boot.  Often described one of the best rides ever created for immersiveness, this is as good as it gets!  However, because of this it is also bloody terrifying!  If you don’t want to have a Death Eater coming right into your face while you are helpless to get away, ask for the castle tour which just takes you through the queue area, skipping the ride.  
Dragon Challenge
I have loved Dragon Challenge ever since it was called Dueling Dragons back in it’s pre-Harry Potter days.  It went through an overlay when Harry flew into town but the actual ride stayed the same, with a couple of relevant props added to the already cool cave like queue line.  The premise is simple, there are two coasters that run alongside each other and race to the end, each one is supposed to be a different kind of Dragon from the Triwizard Tournament.  It’s heart racing and a lot of fun!
Skull Island: Reign of Kong
This is the newest ride to either of the parks and I can’t wait to try it out.  It’s had some crazy hype about it’s use of scare actors, technology and the scale of the set.  I have great memories of the old king Kong ride from the 90’s so I'm looking forward to giving this grown up, seemingly terrifying version a go, if I don’t chicken out!
The Incredible Hulk Coaster
As far as coasters go there is nothing really crazy technology wise at play here, other than the vertical climb that blasts you, somewhat unexpectedly, to the top of the track so fast you’ll be wondering what’s going on.  However, this is one of the smoothest coasters around and there’s a reason it’s often voted one of the best coasters in Florida.  There are more twists, turns and drops here then you can shake a stick at.  It’s recently had a new queue added and a track replacement, bringing it more up to date, which I am hoping they do with the rest of Marvel Superhero Island before Disney create their own version in the near future.
The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman
Another beauty from Marvel Super Hero Island and one of the rides that set the standard for all rides that followed at Universal.  This is another that mixes rollercoaster ride technology with simulators to give you a really immersive experience.  The queue for this is always long but it is so much fun!

An extra nod goes out to the water rides at Island of Adventure as no one gets you wet like Islands of Adventure (take that as you will!)

What’s your favorite ride at Universal?

12 September 2016

Moving in Together After a Long Distance Relationship

As you are possibly aware if you read my Fun Date Ideas for Long Distance Relationships, I’ve been in a long distance relationship for several years.  I’ve moved a few times while we’ve been together and we ended up getting further and further away from each other.  That is until this May, when things finally lined up and we moved into a flat of our own in London.

The biggest difference, is that there isn’t one.  For a while afterwards people kept asking if we still got on, were there any problems etc?  Personally I had expected to feel some big, important change, the truth is there wasn’t one.  We still got on the same as before and there was no big shift or dramatic realisation about each other like you get in a romcom.  

I thought the hardest thing for me was having to fully share things for the first time.  I’ve never shared a bed on a permanent basis for instance.  Sure I’d had people stay over, for weeks at a time even, but it was still my bed, not ours.  Now someone else was going to have as much say in everything in the flat as me.

And to be honest, I think I’ve dealt with it all pretty well!  Compromise is something that is important for all relationships as well as knowing what triggers each other.  Mine is cooking, I hate it, on the whole I need to be left alone when I cook so I don’t get snappy!  I told Harry that my teddies had to say on the bed as they’d been around then he had and he’s fine with it as long as they are on my side as they do take up a lot of the bed….

It’s important to make sure you don’t start off your new life on  a bad foot by arguing on moving day, something that can be easily done as it is supposed to be one of the most stressful experiences of your life!  Planning is essential, get some boxes ahead from Davpack (use code Student10 for a discount), make a checklist to ensure sure you don’t leave anything behind, and make sure you communicate with each other so you don’t end with two of one thing and nothing of another!

Honestly, I love our little flat and buying things we both love to fill it!  I actually got excited about buying a bin the other day, that’s how ridiculous it is.  Long distance is hard, but it  worked for us, and it was more than worth it in the end!
This post contains sponsored links, all words and opinions are my own.

9 September 2016

I’m Doing a 20k Sponsored Walk for Charity, Here’s Why.

This month, on the 25th of September, I am joining some of my friends for a 20k sponsored walk to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.  

MS is a horrible, debilitating disease that has touched two people in my life.  The first person is Chloe, who actually organised this walk and whose group, The Majestic Pandacorns, I am walking with.  We are banding together to raise as much money as possible for this important charity.  Chloe was diagnosed a few years ago and it came as a total shock that it could happen to one of my friends, and someone so young.

The person I am doing this for is for my Aunt Hillary.   I never knew my aunt when she wasn’t suffering from the disease, it comes in different forms and she had the most extreme.  I never knew a time when she wasn’t in a wheelchair and her ability to speak stopped when I was still a child, but i do have a lot of fun memories from her.  Most of all I remember her love of music and football!  I’m walking in her memory.

For the first time a cure for certain types of MS is on the cards, and it’s within reach!  Now is the perfect time to support this charity and help change people's lives.  So if you want to spur me on, and help me reach my target for this fabulous charity, then I would absolutely love it if you were to sponsor me.  You can donate as much as little as you like, honestly every pound counts and will help me towards my goal!

As an extra incentive for the bloggers amongst you, I have created a fun little competition!  At the time of writing this, I have had two fabulous bloggers donate, one from the North, and one from the South.  So I thought it’s time to see who's the more generous in an old fashioned North vs South stand off!

Once you donate, if you want to take part, just tweet me or email me at shystrangemanic@gmail.com and I will add your name and blog link to the list below!  There’s no minimum amount just donate what you can.  You can donate here.  Who is best, Northerners or Southerners?  It’s time to Find out!

Northern Bloggers
Lizi of Glasses Girl
Ally of Digital Diva

Southern Bloggers
Haydy of Squib Vicious

Any advice for doing a sponsored walk?  I’d love to hear it!  Can’t donate?  That’s ok, I’d love it if you could share my sponsorship page, it’s a real help in getting the word out!

7 September 2016

Travel: Exploring Cologne Day Two

Missed day one? Read it here. Sunday was our last day in Cologne, it had come around so fast!  Feeling surprisingly fresh after the cocktails and lack of sleep the day before, myself and Lissa headed to the Chocolate museum to meet Rachel and Hayley whilst the other guys split off to go to the spa.  
The Chocolate museum was great fun and the smell of Lindt chocolate wafted throughout.  It takes you through the history of various chocolate companies and shows you how the factories are run.  Just a few weeks before I had gone to Cadbury’s World and to be honest I found that one more entertaining, and you got much more chocolate!  However the views from this glass structure, which sits right on the Rhine, is stunning!
We headed to the cafe after to choose some chocolaty treats!  I opted for the chocolate waffle which was very filling, sweet and totally Instagram worthy.  The service wasn’t great but we had a fantastic view of the Rhine.
Some of our group had early flights back so myself and Lissa walked back into the centre of Cologne.  From here we headed to the Basilica church of St. Ursula which we were happy to find was open this time.  At first we couldn’t find the small room, but a member of staff soon came to open it for the cost of a few euros.
This is one of the most underrated parts of Cologne, so few people seem to know about it.  The room is filled with skulls, bones and other such macabre items.  The person who worked at the church couldn’t speak English, so I didn’t get the full story of why this was here but she did her best to point things out to us.  Particularly striking where the heads in boxes, and the bones spelling out words high on the roof.  It was fascinating and well worth the trip!
After this we headed to for food again in the centre of Germany, then off to another cafĂ© for a milkshake.  I’m not going to go into too much detail on that as I have another post just on the food of Cologne coming up soon!
Just like that it was time to head back to our hotel and pack.  The weekend went by so fast and I had such amazing fellow bloggers for company!
Have you ever visited Cologne?

5 September 2016

Super Easy Adult Slushies

You won't see many recipes on this blog, that's because I can't cook, and I hate cooking.  I am the epitome of Can't Cook, Won't Cook.  What I can do, is drink alcohol and upgrade drinks you loved as a child!

Who doesn't love slushies?  When I was a kid, being old enough to go to the shop around the corner and get a Slush Puppy on you own was the height of responsibility.  One time a kid we were with asked for a pump of every flavour, what a rebel!  He became the James Dean of our street after that as we all got high on sugar, none of us admitting of course, once you'd had the first few slurps and drank the syrup, you were just left with a cup of ice that no one really wanted.  You had to drink to of course to prove your parents wrong when they told you that this exact thing would happen if you wasted your pocket money on one.

So how do you make this childhood experience even better as an adult?  Simple, ditch the syrup, add the alcohol.
This recipe is super easy, so easy you might think to yourself 'how the hell as she made a whole blog post about this?'  It goes like this:

In a freezable container, add 1 part of any alcohol, to 2 parts of any mixer, freeze for 4 hours.

That's it, done!  The genius here is because of the alcohol freezing point it won't freeze solid, you can instantly scoop it out in the perfect slushie consistency.  Also, you can add any variation of alcohol/ mixer you want.  I went for spiced rum and Pepsi for this trial that's what I had to hand and it's pretty great.  I just added one jug of rum to 2 jugs of Pepsi (I don't mess around!).  Admittedly I could have gone for pretty coloured drinks that made better blog pics, but I just wanted to chug some frozen rum and coke, ok!  There's plenty of time for faffing around with coloured cocktails next time I try.

If it's too strong for you, you could experiment with adding more mixer, but be careful, if you add too much it will freeze solid!  My basic recipe works for all mixers, I enjoy it straight but my boyfriend tops his slushie up with more pepsi so it isn't as intense.

Want to give it a try?  Tweet me your pics, I'd love to see your concoctions!


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