Monday, August 31, 2015

Autumn Goals

I know these aren't very entertaining posts but they are so helpful.. The idea being that when I post about my goals, I actually achieve them. Hope you don't mind! I decided from now on, I'm going to do seasonal goals, that way I have more time to do more things.

In case you are wondering why I am declaring my Autumn (Fall) goals now, I am not trying to be obstinate but I guess I kind of am - to me, the seasons start on the first of the month. So to me, right now, it is Spring in Australia on the 1st of Sept, which means it is Autumn on the 1st of Sept in the US. I understand that's not how you all do it, but my brain can only take so much new information before it refuses to take anymore, you know?

How'd I do in August?

- Make one new recipe. I did! Just the one, mind. Paige's stir fry - we do not keep or cook beef in the house normally, so I made it with chicken. I would even try it with chickpeas next time. It was delicious. We served it over rice noodles and used different veggies, but whatevs. Same thing.

- Sell a few things on eBay. I certainly won't make a million dollars, but I listed 5 things. If I list too much, I get overwhelmed and I burn out. Baby steps.

- Don't eat out for lunch. Oh hey there big fat fatty fail, nice to see you.

- Cross something off my 30 before 30 list. Not quite. I bought some fabric to make myself an article of clothing but I was fairly 'busy' each weekend. Hoping to get to it this weekend.

- Stick to my half marathon training plan. I struggled this month, both mentally and physically. Here's to next month.

Now for Autumn Goals (Sept - Nov)

- Run. No pressure, just run, and enjoy it.

- Try not to eat out for lunch that much. Try to eat healthy.

- Sell some more things on eBay.

- Clean up my photos. They are an absolute mess. Need to clean it up, organise what ones to print, make photo books etc.

- Make 3 new recipes. 1 per month, easy as pie. Don't try to make pie.

- Do something different in Louisville. Try a new restaurant, do something, anything, to get to know this city more.

- Lose weight.

- Give up soda again.

- Call my mum and Nana. At least once.

- Have a totally awesome Halloween party

- Set up a cleaning schedule. Not rigid, just an idea so Chelsea's hair doesn't take over the house.

That's all - probably a bit ambitious, but it works out to be about 3-4 goals per month which isn't too bad. Most people get the Summer blahs, I get the Autumn blahs because it means... winter is coming. Sigh.

Any cleaning schedule suggestions? I don't want anything crazy, I'll still do a deep clean once-a-when-I-want-to, but I want something to keep the house looking decent during the week.

Friday, August 28, 2015

How Beauty & the Beast and Pride & Prejudice are basically the same.

Whenever people tell me they don't want to / can't read or watch Pride & Prejudice, I just tell them - don't worry, you already know the story. Not only have direct adaptions been done, like Bridget Jones, Bride & Prejudice and You've Got Mail (yes, really), but you could pretty much apply it to any boy meets girl story. Don't believe me?

There's a girl.

They both like to read, coincidence?

There's a guy.

They are kind of rude / hostile / awkward when they first meet.

The boy lacks certain social graces.

Before we get too far, there's another boy. He's not the nicest, and he screws things up.

oh my gosh, they are basically wearing the same thing.

There are also silly girls.

The girl and guy are thrown together under circumstances out of their control okay the beast holds Belle hostage whatever. There are some shall we say interesting moments.

There's a lot of eyes going on in both stories.

Hands and touching play a big deal in both.. in one, he's all like 'she's touching me and not repulsed!' and in the other 'he's touching me but he hates me and this is like olden days where touching is like way more than it is these days so woah it's a big deal'.

There's some good ol' fashion dancing.

and I'm pretty sure this is the same balcony.

The conflicts are overcome...

and everyone lives happily ever after!

Ah, happy endings.

Moral of the stories?

Preach, Charlotte.

No wonder these are two of my favourite movies, right? Happy Friday. I think I know what I'm watching tonight - how about you?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Why books should be one of the 7 deadly sins

First off, checking in with Kels and her summer reading challenge - I said I would read 30 books in June, July & August. In June I read 13 books, in July I read 12, and in August I read 12 (though I still have this weekend..) so the total is 37 in case (like me) you can't math. I'm at 111 for the year (woah. that's a lot of books). 

So why should books should be one of the 7 deadly sins? Actually, I think the 7 deadly sins should just be renamed 'feelings about books' or 'symptoms of being a book lover'.

  1. extreme anger (chiefly used for humorous or rhetorical effect).

How it relates to books: You have never known wrath until you have read allegiant a book with a horrible ending, am I right?

  1. intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food.

How it relates to books: Give me all the books, and then give me some more. I have over 200 books on my kindle waiting to be read, and about 100 physical books around the house that also need to be read, but if I go into a bookstore / goodreads / amazon, suddenly I need all the books.

  1. reluctance to work or make an effort; laziness.

How it relates to books: Any book lover knows what it's like to 'waste' a day (or five) away by reading, but it's not wasted is it? Course not. Also, choosing reading over doing something productive (but reading is productive! Right?) could be considered sloth like as well.

  1. a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.

How it relates to books: Us book lovers are proud to be so, am I right? It is the reason we recommend books, defend them and choose them. 

  1. very strong sexual desire.

How it relates to books: 50 Shades is popular for a reason, just saying.

  1. a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions, qualities, or luck.

How it relates to books: Envious of a character's life, chances and choices, or envious of the fact that someone else was approved / sent an ARC that you were denied.. envious of other people's fancy bookshelves, sigh. and yes, this includes the Beauty & the Beast library.

  1. habitual greed or excess in eating.

How it relates to books: Actually, this might be the only one I can't justify because there is no such thing as an excess when it comes to reading! Like too many books is a thing?! I don't think so.

ps. this post is a joke. If you are religious, I do apologise if it offends you. 

Okay, so am I alone here or do other book lovers feel the same?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

On giving up vs letting go of goals

I have mentioned (a thousand times) that my goal for a half marathon is sub 2 hours. But today, I am finally letting go of that goal. I'm channeling my inner Elsa.

Yep, I went there. I know last month I was all gung ho about it, but letting go of this goal does not mean I am giving up.

Right now, I am nowhere near my sub 2 hour dream. Maybe one day I will be, but it is certainly not this day. I am trying. I am running... But I am not running anywhere near what I need to be to do 13.1 miles in less than 2 hours.

I have been 'training' for this since 2012. I declared it at the start of the year, and my half marathon is in October. I have had more than enough time to get better, but I have only gotten worse. Every half marathon I do seems to be further away from my goal, and every time I berate myself for not training properly. What is stopping me from reaching my goal? Why do I keep doing this? I hate feeling ashamed and angry at myself. I'm so over it. I used to love running. I still do, but every time I lace up those shoes, I compare my pace to what it needs to be, and it's just not up to snuff, which makes me think that I am not up to snuff.

I am not complaining. I know it's all on me, I know I have to want it enough to do it, just do it. I know all of this, and I try, I do. But every time I run, I see the goal and it's so far away that it just... deflates me. I compare to myself, to others, to what I want to be. I have to let go of all this and just run. Just be happy.

I am pretty good at letting go of goals that no longer fit what I want out of life. I've changed my 30 before 30 list a thousand times because I've evolved away from a certain goal. But for some reason, this goal has stuck in my head because I was so close to it once upon a time. I have to let go of that.

I still like goals, though. Of course. I love to cross things off and feel accomplished. But like I said, I am not going to achieve my sub 2 while I am running an 11 minute mile. This is still a goal, I would still like to do a sub 2 hour half marathon one day but it will not change my life - for good or bad - either way.

Linking up with Alyssa and Tracy.


I am not giving up, I am just adjusting. Resetting. Starting smaller. Right now, my goal is to run my next half marathon and feel strong, happy and just plain good. Regardless of the time.

Do you ever give up or let go of goals?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Why you should use a travel agent for your Disney Vacation

I have been to Disneyland once, and Disney World twice. I have been planning my own vacations for several years, the last time I used a travel agent was almost 8 years ago. I am very confident in my ability to find good deals and plan a vacation perfect for me.

However. Disney can be confusing. There, I said it. If you are an expert, kudos to you, but there is a lot of information out there. I pretty much knew exactly what I wanted for our Disney vacation, but I thought it couldn't hurt to reach out to a travel agent, so I went online and found Small World Vacations. I had no intention of actually using them (I'm so rude), I just wanted to see. Well, I got such amazing customer service and it was all so easy that I decided to book my vacation through them and I am very happy with my decision and wanted to share it with you.

Why should you use a travel agent, when everything is so easy to do yourself online?

I have used a travel agent a couple of times (London 2007, US 2009 & 2011), although I had never used an American travel agent before, I'm sure they are very similar to ones at home. It was a lot easier for me to say what I wanted and have the travel agent book everything and tell me when to show up. However, once I flew internationally a few times, I started booking it on my own and haven't looked back since.

Although general travel agents aren't needed as much anymore, especially because the internet makes everything so easy and accessible, destination specific agents are definitely invaluable because they provide such detailed information and guidance for a specific place. I love to plan, reading and researching for a trip is my favourite part. However, even I started to get a bit overwhelmed, which is why I turned to an 'Authorised Disney Vacation Planner'.

I had heard of Small World Vacations from Mousesavers so that is who I turned to first. They sometimes offer discounts exclusively for Mousesavers newsletter readers, so sign up for the newsletter to make sure you don't miss out.

Small World Vacations

So, why use a travel agent?

It's free: This is the most important reason. A travel agent is free to you, so why wouldn't you use it? I was a little weary of this so I tallied up all the costs myself and came to the exact same price that I was given by Amber from Small World Vacations. Not a penny difference.

It can save you money: it can also save you money. As noted above, Small World Vacations sometimes offers discounts for Mousesavers newsletter readers, and any discount is better than no discount. I also got a bunch of other discounts, like for Downtown Disney restaurants and such. On top of this, a Disney specific travel agent will know the best time to go (for discounts) and they'll know of discounts that you won't.

They can retroactively add discounts: shortly after I had booked my vacation, I received an email from Amber about a discount that Disney had received that day. It wasn't available at my hotel, but if I wanted to change my dates or hotel, it could be. I didn't want to, but still. It was nice that it was offered.

They can book reservations: apparently they can book your dining reservations and such for you. I don't know this for 100% sure because I didn't ask Amber to do this for me. I did ask her if she had any secrets to getting dining reservations after 180 days that were already booked, but she was unable to. She did say something that made me do some googling and such, and with that I was able to get those hard-to-get reservations (post coming soon!).

You don't relinquish control, not really: I am a super planner freak, as I have mentioned, planning makes me happy. Someone noted that using a travel agent is not for control freaks, but I disagree. The reason I don't use travel agents / tour type vacations is because I don't like when something is out of my control or not my choice (for example, if I go on a guided tour around Europe and can't choose the city or how many nights, I would flip - I could never do that). With Small World Vacations, I got every single thing I wanted so it never felt like I had relinquished control. If you want to make changes, you do have to go through your travel agent anyway, but I didn't mind.

They have all the knowledge and experience: I like to plan and read like crazy, but not everyone does. My travel agent still shared a lot of information that I was not aware of, even though I'd been there before and Megan is somewhat of an expert herself. She always responded quickly and always had an answer, no matter how many questions I asked - and I asked a lot.

They can be a sounding board: you all know that KC doesn't love to plan. He also doesn't love when I talk about it - not in a mean way, just in a 'whatever you want!' way. So it was so good to ask questions and have someone give me their opinion.

They can book Non-Disney things: Amber also handled the Universal Studios portion of our vacation, including the transfers, park entry and hotel. They don't handle flights because they have to charge a fee and they are honest about the fact that you can book it cheaper yourself. Other travel agents might be able to book your flights, but because airlines no longer pay a commission, they will likely charge you a fee.

They are super helpful: this is obviously a vague point, but my travel agent, Amber, was ridiculously helpful. I changed so many things, constantly asking questions and asking for help and she never batted an eye (or maybe she did, but she handled me very professionally!). I wouldn't have even known where to start with the changes I wanted to make, and she handled it super efficiently.

You don't have to pay for it all up front: I am an extremely firm believer in not going on vacation unless you can afford it. If you cannot afford to pay for your Disney vacation right now, then you probably shouldn't be going. However. Although we had the money in our accounts, I didn't want to part with it all so soon after Europe, and KC wanted to build a new computer, but I wanted to book Disney before the prices went up, plus I'm just plain impatient. With Small World Vacations, I put a deposit down (the quote you are sent is valid only for a few days or so) and then I had a due date that was 45 days before the start of my vacation. I didn't want to be a pain in the butt, so I asked Amber if I could make payments or if I had to pay it in one lump sum, and she said I could make payments, so I did.

When I was ready to book, I called Amber and gave her my info, which she kept on file and I would just shoot her an email when I wanted to make a payment. Like I said, I don't think you should be going on vacation unless you can afford it, but Disney is so freaking expensive so it really helped to spread the financial burden out.

Just FYI: This is not a sponsored post, I am in no way affiliated with any of the companies listed, I just wanted to share my experience. There are lots and lots of Authorised Disney Vacation Planners, but I cannot vouch for those I have not used, therefore I highly recommend Small World Vacations.

Have you ever used a travel agent?