Top Ten Tips - Planning A Holiday To Orlando

Universal Studios, Florida 

What do you think of when you hear the word, Orlando? Mr Bloom or a fantastic holiday destination packed full of things to do and places to see!?

I have been to Orlando, Florida, on a number of occasions and can't rate it highly enough for families and also grown-ups with a sense of adventure and fun.

So where do you start when booking a holiday to Orlando? This is a guide to my top ten tips.

1) Read About The Destination

My first port of call when booking any holiday is to read about the destination, be it in guide books, travel brochures, apps, or the Internet. There is a wealth of information out there.

Visit Orlando is a good place to start to read about places to stay and things to do in Orlando. Visit their calendar of events for up-to-date seasonal news.

Two guide books I recommend are The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and The Brit Guide to Orlando. In the back of The Brit Guide, there is a section of vouchers for money off attractions.

A great site for those that like Disney is The Dibb - Disney With A British Accent. They mainly focus on the Disney theme parks but also cover other theme parks and travel advice too. To get real insider information it's the website to check out.

Of course, Trip Advisor is a great site to compare reviews of hotels, restaurants, and attractions. The forum section is very useful if you have a question to ask.

2) When To Go

Many of you may be confined by school holidays however if you can consider going out of high season to save money.

Package holiday prices and flights will be higher if you fly from the UK in the school holidays. This can severely impact on your budget! Other dates to take into account are the 4th of July, Spring Break, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The parks will be very busy on these dates and hotels are likely to be more expensive.

If you can go out of high season try May, September or November for quieter parks and cheaper prices. September however, is in the middle of their hurricane season - the heat can feel oppressive at times and you will get thunderstorms but these clear quickly.

If you want to stay at a Disney hotel many have free Disney Dining at certain times of the year, you usually have to buy theme park tickets at the same time as your booking to qualify.

If you can't go out of high season a great time to go is October half term, as most parks will have some sort of celebration for Halloween and this often goes on for the whole of October. Halloween is celebrated with Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party in the Magic Kingdom which is suitable for little ones and the Halloween Horror Night at Universal which is only suitable for older teenagers and not for those of a nervous disposition. My personal favourite is the Halloween Horror Nights at Universal but M.N.S.S.H.P. is great for those with young children.

Another great time to go is the end of November and December for the Christmas celebrations in the parks and beautiful festive decorations.

Hollywood Studios 
3. Package Holiday Vs DIY

Firstly think about where to stay.

One of the main areas is International Drive, which is in the heart of the action, close to Wet and Wild, Universal Studios and Seaworld and surrounded by shops and restaurants. This area has a range of affordable accommodation too.

I like staying on site at Walt Disney World and Universal Studios but this is a more expensive option. The main advantage of staying onsite is that you can often enter the parks earlier.

You may prefer to stay in a villa, apartment or condo instead of a hotel for more space. There are a lot of independent places to stay and you can get some good deals.

My personal favourite hotel is The Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Studios. With movies at the pool, early entry to the park and a great rock 'n roll vibe it's a perfect hotel if you have teenage kids. Another great place to stay is Vista Cay near Universal Studios. These condo apartments have very high-quality accommodation and are reasonably priced.

When booking holidays I price up a package holiday and compare it to a do it yourself holiday where I book flights, accommodation, and tickets separately.

Compare package holidays with companies like Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and Thomson.

A flight comparison site such as or can help compare prices for the best deals on flights, and accommodation is often cheaper if you book direct, however, hotel comparison sites such as Trivago are useful for booking hotels at the best price.

Go to the travel agent with your dates and preferred hotels/areas to get a quote. Can they match what you have found online? Most allow you to pay a deposit to book flights or a package so you don't have to pay for the flights immediately as you would if you were booking direct. I have often found DIY is the cheapest option, but some people find good deals so it's always worth checking out your local travel agent.

4. Theme Parks

Most people visiting Orlando will visit a Disney theme park, or two or three. It's the home to The Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Universal, Islands of Adventure, and Seaworld and that's just for starters!

The parks are vast so consider buying a multi-park ticket to get the most out of your stay. These can be bought from the Theme Parks direct on the day or through specialist ticket agencies where you can sometimes get a good deal. Always go through a reputable company. I check out Money Saving Expert for some great advice on where to buy theme park tickets.

My favourite parks are Universal, Islands of Adventure, and Hollywood Studios, as I love the movie theming in these parks and I feel they cater for slightly older children, perfect for my teenage son. Amazing rides include Aerosmith's Rock and Roll Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios and Spiderman in Islands of Adventure. If you love Harry Potter you must go to Islands of Adventure and visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Hogwart's is amazing.


5. Shopping

Orlando has shopping for everyone, whether you are after great bargains or are happy to splash the cash.

The Mall at Millenia is a designer oasis, with brands such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Cartier.

Orlando Premium Outlets on International Drive has a range of discount outlets from Ted Baker and Tommy Hilfiger to Michael Kors and Hugo Boss all at great prices and Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores has Converse and a Disney outlet amongst others.

Downtown Disney has a wide array of over 40 shops including a great Lego shop where you little kids (and big kids) can play with their creations.

6. Restaurants

Orlando has plenty of budget options but also lots of high-end restaurants too. I find Trip Advisor great to give you a general idea of restaurants in the area. There are just so many places to eat and drink I can only talk from personal experience.

For a meal on a budget consider I.H.O.P., Dennys, and Earl of Sandwich at Down Town Disney. For a moderately priced meal, I rated Olive Garden and Bahama Breeze on International Drive.

Regarding high-end restaurants, the best meal I had was at the Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney's Yacht and Beach Club. A delicious starter of scallops, beautifully cooked steak, and a fabulous vanilla cheesecake, with impeccable service with a smile. Another recommendation for a special meal is the California Grill in the Contemporary hotel. If you time your meal right you can also view the fireworks over the Magic Kingdom.

Hollywood Studios

7. Tipping

Tipping in the USA is expected especially for those that are paid relatively little like porters, chambermaids, and restaurant staff. Tipping is a way of showing your appreciation with the service you have received. It is considered really bad form not to tip if the service was good, so I feel it is best to budget for tips in your spending money.

A general guide to tipping in the US which I have taken from various websites:-

15-20% waiters/waitresses.
15-20% for taxi drivers.
1 to 2 dollars a drink for bartenders.
1 to 2 dollars a bag for porters.
Housekeeping staff 2 to 5 dollars a day.

Obviously, don't tip if you have had poor service but it's rude not to if the service was good or exceptional.

8. Transportation

Many package holidays offer "free" car hire but you almost always have taxes and fees to pay on top, so read the small print. You can always book a car yourself and car hire is relatively cheap in the US. Driving is fairly simple in Orlando, lanes are wide and generally, traffic is not fast moving around the theme parks.

If you do not want to drive, many hotels near the parks have shuttle buses that are free or have a nominal fee to use.

If you are based on International Drive, the I-Ride trolley can take you up and down the street, to Wet and Wild for example.

9. Off The Beaten Track

Kennedy Space Centre

There are some great attractions if you want to explore slightly further afield.

Kennedy Space Centre is an easy 45-minute drive away and is a fantastic place to visit for older children and those with a love of space. A trip to the coast to visit Clearwater or Sarasota is also to be recommended.

There are many places to explore and interesting attractions within the Orlando area, so please take some time to go outside of the theme parks and explore further.

10. Take Time Out

If you plan too much you will be exhausted after a few days. The theme parks are huge and you maybe walking for miles. This coupled with jet lag may find you flagging by the third day. Plan in some downtime, early on, such as a day spent by the pool, or visiting a beach resort. Your body will thank you for it later in the holiday.

This maybe a once in a lifetime holiday or you may have gotten the Orlando bug and find you will be back. Don't forget to savour the experience, and take time every night to reflect on your adventures. There is so much to see and do you may try to cram so much in after a few days you may be exhausted!

The Magic Kingdom

So this is my top ten tips on planning a holiday to Orlando. I hope you enjoyed the photos as they were all my own. Let me know if you have been or if you have a top tip too. I would love to hear from you!

A Seaside Town In Winter

I hope you all had a great Christmas. One of my resolutions for 2014 is to improve my blog. I was very pleased therefore to have a new Bridge camera for Christmas. A Bridge camera forms a bridge between a compact point and shoot camera and a Digitial Single Lens Reflex camera (DSLR). So I have been out and about, getting some practice in and snapping my little seaside town of Porthcawl in South Wales. I used Pic Monkey to edit the photos, an online digital editing tool. I love taking photos, but I am a novice, so I will be looking to improve my skills further in the coming year.

Let me know what you think.

Silent Sunday

Christmas Recipe Linky

Christmas is coming and I am getting fat.... but I am not surprised if you see how many delicious Christmas recipes there are!

Would you like to add your recipe to my blog linky? I thought it would be great to have all those wonderful Christmas recipes in one place. If you’d like to spread the word about it on Twitter using #ChristmasCooking then super, if not – no worries!

The Rules are simple! 

1. Link up a blog post of your own using the Linky tool below
2. Add the Christmas Cooking badge to your blog post so your readers can find other Christmas inspiration
3. Read and comment on at least two other entries.
4. It's good etiquette if you follow some of the lovely bloggers here too.

If you can tweet the page link with the hashtag #ChristmasCooking then that would be lovely

 Happy #ChristmasCooking!

Narovia - Jewellery and Fashion Accessories Review

Sometimes you just want to treat yourself or want to purchase a jewellery gift that's pretty without breaking the bank. In these times of recession the smart shopper keeps an eye on prices but always looks for quality pieces that will last. You CAN get beautiful costume jewellery, that looks good without being tacky, doesn't fall apart and is keenly priced. How do I know? I know because of a website called Narovia.

Narvoia is a jewellery and fashion accessories company that sells jewellery, scarves and bags and is keen to promote themselves as offering some of the best prices on the World Wide Web. For the purpose of this review they have sent me some pieces of jewellery to review and share with my lovely readers.

The first item I would like to talk about is the shamballa bracelet. This bracelet features 9 Swarovski crystal balls on a black cord adjustable strap. I really liked this bracelet. The cord felt very strong, with the waxed like finish, and was incredibly sparkly. When I adjusted he bracelet to fit my wrist, which you do by holding the corded knot it felt satisfying stiff to adjust. This is great as you do not want these type of bracelets to get too loose. Priced at only £5.99 it is a true bargain.

Then I received an item from their Outlet section. If you think £5.99 was a bargain you should have a look here. All items on their Outlet section at present are only £1! The white crystal earrings they sent me would be a perfect gift for a fashion conscious teen. A great stocking filler or a little treat for your daughter perhaps, the sparkly crystal stones would pick up the light on a night out clubbing for example.

I've kept the best until last. The last item I received was the 18 carat white gold plated Swarovski heart necklace. This pretty necklace has a gorgeous Swarovski crystal stone in the centre which is a beautiful shade of blue. The adjustable chain lets you alter the length to suit you which is a fab idea. This necklace would make a lovely gift or a treat for yourself. A very pretty necklace of great quality for the price.

If you would like to order from Narovia, postage is a very reasonable £2 for items under £20 and free over this price. At the moment if you enter the code DIARY13 when you place an order you will get 25% off as well. So if you have some Christmas money, why don't you have a browse to pick up some bargains, or maybe even start your Christmas shopping for next year? It's never to early!

* I was sent these items to review for a honest post

Mel's Meatballs and Rustic Pasta Recipe

Serves 4


A handful of fresh rosemary or 1 tablespoon of dried
12 Jacob's cream crackers
2 heaped teaspoons mustard
500 g of minced beef
1  tablespoon dried oregano
1 large free-range egg
salt and pepper
olive oil

A handful of fresh basil, chopped 
1 medium onion, chopped roughly
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 red pepper or 1/2 red and 1/2 yellow pepper, chopped roughly seeds removed
2x 400 g tins of chopped tomatoes or chopped tomatoes with added Basil and Garlic
Two big squirts of Tomato ketchup

Oregano, optional

400 g dried spaghetti or penne
Grated cheese - Parmesan or cheddar

Put the mince in a bowl.
Add salt, pepper, mustard, chopped rosemary, oregano and egg.
Mix well with a fork.
Put the crackers in a plastic bag, cover with a tea towel and bash with a rolling pin until all broken up.
Add the crackers to the meat mixture and mix up with a fork.
Make sure your hands are washed and dry and take some of the mixture and roll into large balls - this will make approximately 8.
Sprinkle with olive oil.
Fry the meatballs in a frying pan in a small amount of oil until browned all over.
Set aside.
Add a little oil to a pan and fry the garlic and onion for a minute or two.
Add the peppers and fry until softened.
Add two cans of chopped tomatoes with basil and garlic or tomatoes with oregano (If using plain chopped tomatoes add basil and oregano here).
Add salt, pepper and my secret ingredient - two large squirts of tomato ketchup.
Add the meatballs to the mixture and simmer
Cook until the sauce has thickened and the meatballs are cooked through - this will take approximately 15/20 minutes.
Cook the pasta according to the instructions. 
Place pasta in a dish, add sauce then the meatballs.
Top with chopped basil, cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.
I think I need to work on my presentation skills

Cool Candy Media Website Design Offer

Have you got a small business and are you looking for a cost-effective way of moving your business online? Maybe you are looking for an online shop or just a web presence with a contact page and details of your business and products. If so, then Cool Candy Media can help you get online.
Cool Candy Media is run by Richard Williams from his office in South Wales. Richard has found that so many local businesses do not have a website including plumbers, decorators, and builders, or even hairdressers, beauty therapists and independent shops. Often adverts in magazines and newspapers cost hundreds of pounds and say next to nothing about the business. This is where an eye-catching website can help you gain an advantage over your competitors at a very competitive price too.

Small Business Example - Action Blast Porthcawl

At the moment the offer for this Small Business Package rate is only £300. Payment is easy with a small deposit on commencement and balance on completion, when you are 100 percent happy with the finished website.

Richard and his small team are also there at the end of the phone whenever you need any help and advice. He can show you in person or via Facetime or Skype how to update your website yourself, or he can do it for you whenever you need it for a small charge.

If you know someone who is looking for this type of package if you refer someone by the end of January, you will also get a £25 Amazon gift voucher, on completion! 

 E-Commerce Example - Pomi-T Food Supplement 

Cool Candy Media are also experienced in social media management, including Twitter and Facebook, Ecommerce and SEO.

Do you need someone to -

Create and update your website
Create your Twitter / Facebook and Pinterest accounts and update them
Create and update your Blog
Run a competition via your website or social media
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Help improve your traffic to your website via Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Set up an online shop and payment gateway

Cool Candy Media is there for all your online needs.

E-Commerce Example - RMA Williams Jewellers 

You can contact Richard here for further information. So what are you waiting for, get your business online today, and if you spread the word and refer a company then a £25 Amazon voucher could be on its way to you soon.

Marzipan Sweets Recipe

Hello, it’s Erika from Eclectic Enchantments here.  You may or may not remember me from when I last wrote a guest post for Mellissa.  I hope you don’t mind me sharing a little something with you today! 

Christmas is such a busy time of year and sometimes I think it is so hard to cram everything in.  I am a big believer in giving and one of the things I really enjoy giving over the holiday is homemade sweets.  I know what you are thinking, ‘who has time for that?’  Everyone, especially if you make my Marzipan Sweets.

I remember years ago, that my Nan would always have marzipan sweets, they looked like little tiny fruit.  It sparked an idea in me when I was trying to come up with some ideas for sweets to give as gifts.  Could I make my own?  At first I tried to make the fruit and long story short, it was a disaster.  Modelling the fruit was fine, but then you have to colour them and it got very messy in my kitchen!  Surely there is an easier way?


1 x block of marzipan (check the cooking aisle in the supermarket)
1 x bar of dark chocolate
1 x bar of white chocolate
1 x bar of milk chocolate
Cocoa powder

What you need to do:

  • Chop the marzipan block up into little squares.  They need to be big enough to grab with your fingers.
  • Take a saucepan and boil some water.
  • Break up one of the bars of chocolate and place it into a pyrex dish.  The dish needs to be just the right size to sit on top of the saucepan.
  • Once the water has boiled, pop the bowl with the chocolate over it and ensure that no water is touching the bottom of the pan.  Be careful to not get any water in the bowl either, as this will make your chocolate seize.
  • Slowly stir the chocolate as it melts.

Now for the fun bit.

  • Take on of your chunks of marzipan and dip it into the chocolate.  You can go half in, all in or just the edge, it is entirely up to you.  
  • Place the chocolate covered marzipan onto some greaseproof paper and continue to repeat the process with the rest of the chocolate.
  • Once you are out of chocolate, repeat the steps to melt it with one of your other bars.
  • You can then really have fun and cover half in dark, half in white or drizzle different colours over.  
  • Roll up some marzipan into a ball and dip them into the chocolate and then coat with cocoa powder.
  • Add grated chocolate, hundred and thousands, whatever your heart desires.
  • Leave to cool

There you have it, marzipan sweets.  Really simple and straightforward, but they look so effective once you have finished.  

I hope you have enjoyed my little recipe, thank you for reading and to Mellissa for hosting my guest post! 

Chocolate And Caramac Roulade Recipe

I first made this delicious roulade years ago when I was in school. The Caramac adds a twist to the chocolate log recipe. If you do not wish to use Caramac you can use dark or milk chocolate or fill it with cream and cover it with chocolate buttercream instead.


4 eggs
6oz caster sugar
2 oz cocoa sieved 

4 30g bars of Caramac or plain, milk or white chocolate
10 fl oz of whipping cream or alternative I used Elmlea double light

grated Caramac


Set oven to 190C, Gas 5.
Grease and line a 8 by 12inch swiss roll tin. 
Separate the egg yolks and whites.
Whisk egg yolks with castor sugar until thick and mousse like. 
Fold in the sieved cocoa.
Whisk egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff then fold into the other mixture.
Spoon into the swiss roll tin, level out and bake for 20-25minutes on a middle shelf until well risen and spongy to touch.
Get a damp tea towel and turn out the roulade onto this. 
Cover with another damp tea towel and cool.
Whip the cream in a bowl until stiff.
Break up the Caramac into a bowl, and melt over a pan of hot water or in the microwave for between 1 to 2 minutes.
Stir in whipped cream.
Cool slightly then spread over half the cream mixture over the roulade
Roll up.
Cover with the remaining cream mixture.
Grate some Caramac over the top and then sieve some icing sugar over the roulade to look like snow.

Eat and enjoy!

pin for later

Link up your recipe of the week

Slumberdown Quilted Mattress Protector Review

I am a Slumberdown blogger and recently I was sent a Slumberdown mattress protector to review. Manufacturing high-quality pillows, duvets and mattress protectors since 1970, Slumberdown has been part of the British bedding industry for over 40 years so they are a name you can trust.

Mattress protectors are a great idea, as well as protecting the mattress from accidents that naturally happen with little kids, it can help keep the mattress new looking and spills from drinks and stains from food if you have a child that likes to eat in bed! 

If you are caring for elderly infirm relatives it can also give that added reassurance and protection.

What I liked about this mattress protector is that it is very quilted for added comfort. It is of obvious quality and I can imagine it would last until your children are older and out of that 'accident' stage. They say mattress protectors prolong the life of the mattress too so this is a bonus, keeping the mattress clean and aired. 

My son is now a teenager and he doesn't really need a mattress protector on his bed but we tried it out. He said the mattress felt more quilted and comfy than before. It does make a slight rustle sound with the protective backing but nothing that you would notice unless you were looking out for it.

The kid's waterproof mattress protector is available from good stockists including Tesco, and is very reasonably priced at a little over £10. Of course, it is easily washable too at 40 degrees and with it's polycotton cover any wetness stays away from the skin.

You can follow Slumberdown on Twitter and Facebook too, if you need to ask them any questions, they have a great customer service team.

What do you think of the mattress protector? Would you have use for one?

*I was sent this item for an honest review.

It's a Close Shave!

English: A shaving brush, for use with traditi...
A shaving brush, for use with traditional shaving soap to build foam and lather, then to apply directly to face. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Close Shave Society is a great concept. A regular subscription service for the best razors as a fraction of the price of some of the well-known brands. Run by Dane and Zach they offer a well priced, convenient method of getting razors to your door. I interviewed them to find out more about their company and their top tips for the best shave.

Do you have any tips for preparing the skin before shaving? 

Our top tip would be to either shave during or after the shower – the steam will prepare your skin and facial hair for the close shave you deserve!

What do you recommend to use to shave - traditional soap, cream, gel, or oil?
Zach, from Close Shave Society comments: ‘Personally, I like the cushioning effect shaving creams offer – my Houdini razor blades gently glide over my skin without any annoying nicks.”

Dane, from Close Shave Society prefers shaving soaps: ‘It has to be shaving soaps, I’ve perfected my lathering technique giving me the perfect the cushion when shaving!’

Any useful tips to avoid irritation?

Shaving can remove up to two layers of skin, so it comes as no surprise that after shaving is when the skin is most vulnerable. We would recommend that after shaving you rinse the face with warm water and use a facial wash, rinse with cool water and pat dry with a clean towel (no rubbing! Just a gentle pat; love your skin).

What would you recommend to apply after a shave?

An after shave balm or moisturiser is an ideal way to replace lost moisture and soothe the skin – and come on, use one made just for guys (no stealing your girlfriends, sisters or mums!) not only because you’re a man, but these formulas are designed to absorb quickly and not be too greasy - your beautiful face deserves it!

How often should blades be replaced?

Blades should be replaced every 3-5 shaves, at Close Shave Society we send 4 razors on a monthly or bi-monthly basis – with our beautifully German engineered blades your face will never feel the wrath of a dull razor again!

What's unique about your company?

At Close Shave Society we offer the high quality of the big boys and the low prices of the bargain buckets. How? By stripping off all the unnecessary cost components driving up the prices of razors sold by the big brands today. We also send our razors directly to you, all you need to do is choose a blade, choose a plan, and watch the fresh razors rolling on in keeping your face perfectly smooth! Our annual subscriptions are a great Christmas present for loved ones giving them no excuse to ever not be silky smooth! Perfect!

What I like about this company is that us ladies aren't left out either, as we have our own subscription service. I will certainly be looking at this as a gift idea this year.

The Close Shave society also sent me some razors to try. The ladies packaging is in pink with the blue razors and the men's is black. Perfect for shaving my legs I found the razors sharp and the detachable heads easy to use.   

What do you think about this concept? Would you try it out or give it as a gift? Let me know!

La Jewellery Giveaway - Ends 31/12

I think you all know I LOVE my jewellery by now! I also like to support British businesses as I feel it is important to the economy.

Well, I have a lovely prize today to give away on my blog, a beautiful necklace by La Jewellery.

Designed by Lisa Anne and inspired by her love of Wales, she also takes inspiration from the environment, the changing moods of the landscape and mountains. She sources her materials locally and aims to leave a 'lighter footprint' on the environment by using recycled materials and packaging where possible.

All the jewellery is made in a small studio from traditional techniques and made with love the 'old fashioned way'. The jewellery has a hand-crafted look and is designed to be just that bit different without being too quirky. You can see Lisa below in here workshop creating her unique pieces.

Today I have this beautiful necklace to give away. A delicate heart necklace this is a perfect gift for someone you love or a little treat for yourself.

Petit Love Necklace 

To enter this competition visit La Jewellery and come back and answer the questions on the Rafflecopter application below. You have to enter a blog comment but all other entries are optional. You can bookmark this page as you can gain a daily entry for a daily tweet.

This competition is open to the UK only and you must be 18 + to enter.

You can follow La Jewellery on




a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'd Love To Be A Mark Warner Mum

I'd love to be a  #markwarnermum.

I do love to travel, come far or wide,
I've a sense of adventure, with my family by my side.
I've travelled to London and seen Big Ben too,
I even fed the penguins at London Zoo.

At the Edinburgh festival we had a fun time,
We saw jugglers, comedians and even a mime.
Orlando was awesome, Orange County land,
The theme parks were great and the water parks had sand!

LA and Vegas, a rare lifetime trip.
I saw the Hollywood stars and the Las Vegas strip.
Dubai had the world's tallest building to see,
My hands were like jelly and so were my knees.

Austria was pretty, the hills were alive,
The hiking was tough but the spas did revive.
So why do I love all this travel you ask?
I will try to explain in this little task.

The culture, the sun, the scenery too,
The beautiful places that travel takes you.
The smile on the face on my teenage son,
Memories never forgotten, come rain or sun.

If I was so lucky to be picked today,
I'd blog about Mark Warner in my own way.
Showing great locations, sports that compel,
The sense of achievement, with childcare as well.

I'd tweet you my pics of a fabulous time,
Biking and windsurfing, food and the wine.
My goal is to thrill you, I hope you don't mind,
As Mark Warner holidays are one of a kind.

Here are tales of my travels, my passion for fun,
If you're picking reviewers, I would love to be one! 
I am honest, succinct, and enthuse all the way,
This is my dream, what more can I say?!

Silent Sunday - Prague's Christmas Markets

Louise's Beauty Inspiration For Christmas

Beauty Gift Ideas

Hello Mellissa's readers - how are you today?!

Ah, I see that look on your face! You're thinking "Who is this? And what has she done with Mellissa?!" Well, I'm Louise, and I'm here to fill in while Mellissa takes a well deserved break. I promise to be nice ;)

Mellissa knows that I am just a little obsessed with beauty products so she kindly asked if I could share some Christmas gift inspiration for beauty lovers with you. And I said yes. I hope you don't mind? You don't? Then let's go ...

First up I've chosen the Festive Bath & Shower Collection from Aromatherapy Associates. I absolutely adore this brand because each little bottle smells absolutely divine and is designed to target specific things such as back pain, headaches, stress etc and I've always found that it does exactly that job. I picked this particular collection to show you today as it has 10 of their bath and shower oils in, including the new 'Inner Strength' one (which is just gorgeous) and, as you can see ... it's shaped like a Christmas tree. I couldn't resist. Each little bottle should last for one bath or shower but I find that you can usually get two out of them.- £35.00
In my 2 years as a Beauty Blogger, I've noticed that lots of ladies are partial to a little bit of O.P.I - and I'm no exception! My favourite collection of theirs at the moment has got to be the Mariah Carey Christmas Collections, with my favourite being this trio of Liquid Sand polishes. There are two pinky shades and a purple and they have a lovely, textured finish. They are truly gorgeous and I can't recommend them highly enough! £11.55

If there's one thing any beauty lover is happy to receive at Christmas time it has to be fragrance. The one I have a 'test' at every time I'm in a department store is Midnight Rain from La Prairie. Just look at the bottle ladies - isn't it beautiful? Imagine that sitting all beautifully on your dressing table! Stunning. Aside from its prettiness, it also smells delicious. Now, I'm useless at describing fragrances (true story) but it's definitely quite a woody scent to it. I can only describe is as being quite sexy. I feel that this could easily be the women's equivalent of the Lynx effect! You'll have to trust me on this one ladies. £76.00
Ok, I have a confession to make. I've gone on and on and on and on about wanting this mirror. My poor family have heard nothing but "I wish I could afford that mirror". So guess what? My lovely mum has bought it me for Christmas. Aww. The reason I've been after the Illuminated Make-up Mirror from No 7 is that it helps you see your skin in better light. I often find that I apply my makeup in the bathroom and it looks great, but when I look in a mirror somewhere else it doesn't look as good. I always hear such good things about make-up mirrors and this one is often found at better than half price which I think makes it the best value one on the market. £49.99
I have to admit, I love it when brands make little gift sets of their best selling products. And this year This Works have done just that! Eek. This little duo contains two of their products to promote a better night's sleep. Aptly called the Dream Team, this set contains a Deep Sleep Pillow Spray which has a divine French Lavender scent and a Stress Less rollerball, which you pop onto your pulse points. I often use the full sized version of this and find that it helps me relax and just forget about the day I've had. It's wonderful. £10.00
Another fragrance gift? Oh yes! I treated myself to this little beauty last week and it's amazing! If you've ever smelt any of the Benefit fragrances before you'll know that they are just gorgeous, and this limited edition Crescent Row Gift Set includes 4 mini versions. Each set has a lovely dinky bottle and comes with a box - so if you have 4 friends to buy for you could actually split them up and give them individually. Again, I can't recommend these highly enough. They're all just delicious. £29.50
I'm pretty sure that the Curl Secret styler from Babyliss will be every beauty lover and fashionista's wish list this Christmas! This unique styling device actually draws your hair into a special chamber and when you release it you have the perfect curl. Amazing! This is definitely going on my Christmas list this year. £120
I remember posting about the Naked 3 Palette from Urban Decay on my own blog a few weeks ago, and lots of my readers replied to say that this little beauty would be on their Christmas list this year. And I can totally see why. Although this is another neutral palette, it contains more pinky shades than the others. There seems to be a nice mix of shimmer, satin and matte shades within it and as a girl can never have too many neutral eyeshadows, I really think this is the perfect gift.
(Due for release sometime in December).
Beauty lovers are often candle fanatics, and I love this little Christmassy trio from Diptyque. It has 3 mini candles, each of which has a nice festive fragrance. They are designed to be used either all together or separately. Either way they will smell great! A smashing gift set for anyone who loves scented products. Can I have this one as well please?£60.00

And last but certainly not least we have the Ciate Tree Trinkets. I love this product because it contains 6 mini Ciate paint pots (nail polishes) inside baubles! How unique?! Just imagine these hanging on your Christmas tree! Each bauble also features the iconic Ciate Bow as a finishing touch. What an awesome gift £30.00

And there you have it - my gift inspiration for beauty lovers.
What do you guys think? Be sure to let Mellissa and I know by leaving a comment :)

Thanks for reading

Louise x

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