Friday, November 30, 2018

Introducing the Doods!

If you follow my Instagram you might have seen two little pups introduced in February of this year! I have two now 1 year old Goldendoodles called Albus and Remus. And yes, they do have their own Instagram. 

Goldendoodles, often referred to as Doods, are a cross breed of a standard poodle and a golden retriever. They are very big dogs with even bigger hearts and they think they are small dogs! 

Originally, I was only going to have Albus. When I went to see them as puppies he was instantly drawn to me. We had many, many snuggles! 

And then something bad happened. I saw that one puppy was left. Me in my dog lover emotional state was devastated that no one had wanted him, so, naturally, along came Remus. 

They were born on 25th November 2017 in Aberystwyth and I find it so apt that my pups are Welshies! 

I bought them home in early February 2018. They are my babies and I have them to thank for pulling me through the last year. They have been my rock and often my reason for living. I love them with all my heart and I hope you will too! 

Below is a timeline of the boys first year!

February was full of introducing everyone to the new Doods. They were quite big, even for 12 week old puppies but looking back now, they seem so small. They loved a good lap cuddle with my grandparents. I didn't originally tell people I had gotten two until they had met everyone. I got my grandparents to sit with their eyes closed and handed each of them a puppy. I still remember the look on my Gramps' face when he saw there were two! They were introduced to the Fire Engine by my dad and I still can't believe that they dit in there. I am looking forward to trying to remake this photo, but I know they won't fit anymore.

In March they saw their first ever snow fall! It is really unlike the UK to get snow, especially in March so it was really interesting to see what they made of it. Turns out, they loved it! March also brought Easter and obviously the boys had their own eggs! 

The boys didn't take long to settle in and by April had really developed their own personalities. Albus was a little bit smaller than Remus so was trying to be the dominant dog. Remus is just extremely dopey - and still is!

They both started to suddenly look like dogs rather than puppies. They had outgrown their puppy harnesses and their puppy collars and were in their adult ones! They were six months old and growing very quickly. 

In June they had their first hair cut and they also doubled in size almost overnight! They met their new friend, Fudge, and had a puppy play date. At this point, both boys were still cuddling their teddies - I miss that!

In July, the boys developed a love for the sofa cushions and also sitting on the cuddle chair and watching the world go by. They had suddenly become aware that cars and people walk by the window and smile at them. 

In August, they had a holiday whilst I went to Florida. They had a brilliant time and even got used to going in the car!

At this point in September, the boys were desperate for a hair cut (and still haven't had one) so we got acquainted with the man bun! They also had a play date with Caesar! They are so good with dogs smaller than them and let Caesar jump all over them! As you can see, they were also pretty big!

They experienced their first Halloween in October. Naturally, they had their own costumes and pumpkin! They also had their first bath in a couple of months. Albus is somewhat fond of the bath - he will jump in their if he is too hot and have a nap. Remus, on the other hand, needs a bit of encouragement. 

By November the boys are pretty much fully grown. They weigh about 40kg each, give or take, and take up all the room in my bed at night. They have their own Christmas elf ready for December and have an annoying habit of walking mud around the kitchen. 

The boys first birthday was on 25th November. We had a cake, well they did, and party hats! They were not fussed as long as they could have a slice of cake for breakfast and dinner. Which they did.

Now, we are getting ready for their first Christmas with me and looking forward to another year! 

They are the most incredible pups who love nothing more than a snuggle. They have such good temperaments and I have definitely struck gold with them. I couldn't live without these two massive bundles of fluff being in my life every day, licking me half to death and giving me big hugs every single day. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A Life Update: 6 Months On

It has been a while since I have done a life update. 

A year ago this week I completed on my new house. At the time, I was somewhat happily engaged and getting excited about making a house into a home. 

Fast forward one year, that house is on the market, you know the story about the relationship, I have two great dogs and I am looking towards to the next chapter.

Has that been smooth sailing? Far from it. 

That original transition from being in a relationship that I thought was it to being on my own in a massive house was difficult. I will be the first to say that I still find things difficult. I find it hard that I am so far away from the majority of my family who are all usually quite busy; I often feel isolated and lonely. I struggle on a daily basis with my mental health. Financially, things are hard. I am paying for the majority of my house on my own - my outgoings are not far off my whole salary. My ex pays for half the mortgage and council tax, but refuses to pay for anything else. Then he tells me he has no money and that this whole situation is my fault. I am not the one who cheated. 

But at the same time, I feel free. 

I can buy Christmas decorations that I want without someone controlling what the house looks like. I can wear Disney clothes if I want without someone telling me I can't leave the house with them on. I can sit and eat what I want without someone calling me fat. I can put a Mickey Mouse spoon holder in the kitchen because someone else hasn't put me down for wanting Disney in the house. I can let the dogs in the living room because someone isn't demanding that they are kept in the kitchen. I can come in from work and sit down for a little while because someone isn't sitting on their ass expecting dinner to be made as soon as I come in. I can relax on a Saturday because someone isn't refusing to do any housework. I can plan my weekends how I want because someone isn't demanding we do everything with their family and not mine. I can say no when my mental health isn't great because someone else isn't causing the problems. I have control over my own life because someone else hasn't. 

I look back over the last six months of being on my own and I see how far I have come. I have gotten over what happened and I have gotten over my ex. Yes, I still resent that he put me in this situation and blames me, telling me this is all my fault so I have no one else to blame. Yet, he had an easy life; never had to lift a finger, got his way on almost everything. His family were fantastic to me during the time we were together and we got on very well. They will, of course, support their family member, despite what he did and what he caused, and I am very aware and accepting of that. 

I have recently removed his family from my Facebook page, despite a few people telling me I should keep them. I decided that to move on, this was something I needed to do for me. I am not living my life for someone else anymore, I am living it for me. 

I have had people ask me if I am dating at the moment. The answer is no. I did try for a while but I have decided to take some time for myself and to learn to be on my own. I also would not want to bring someone else into this mess. It wouldn't be fair to them or to me. 

I have lived on my own in this house now longer than I lived with my ex. Living on your own is very liberating. I have never seen it as something daunting as a lot of people do. I have my own space, with my own belongings how I want them. You learn to enjoy your own company and the smaller things in life. I love sitting on my sofa, lighting my candles and having a snuggle with my boys. 

I am looking forward now to getting rid of the house. It will be a long journey, as it has been so far. The house has been on the market for six months and has recently been taken off, to be put back on in January. I am hoping to have it sold before summer next year so I can be in a new house for my holiday next year. I am really looking forward to not having to have any ties to him or his family so I can move on to this next chapter in my life. 

So for anyone in this, or a similar, situation. Keep treading water because one day you will float. 

I have a lot to look forward to over the next year, so hopefully my next life update will be a happier one! 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' Dinner Review

Homecomin' is one of the newer restaurants located in the expansion and overhaul of Disney Springs, formally Downtown Disney. Homecomin' is at the Landing section of Disney Springs opposite Morimoto Asia. 

Homecomin' is 1 Table Service Credit on the Disney Dining Plan. 

When you arrive, you check in outside with a Cast Member. We arrived very soggy and in ponchos because it appeared that we chose the rainy evening to walk from our boat dock to the opposite side of Disney Springs! When you check in, you will be told that you will receive a text when your table is ready. As we have UK phones that were on flight mode and only worked on wifi, we were told to just hang around under the cover of the restaurant and we would be called once our table was ready.

We were then called inside as our table was ready. However, we were then told to sit down on the indoor seats whilst our table was prepared. I was just glad to get out of the rain at this point! We were waiting all of a few minutes before the Manager came over to apologise for the delay. Within less than a minute after this we were then being taken to our table.   

Homecomin' has the option of sitting inside or outside on a covered veranda. We were lucky enough to be seated outside and next to the netted windows which had a stunning view of the Springs. 

We had a lovely server who was so nice to us. We also had a manager come and personally check on us throughout our meal and check everything was OK with the allergy menu and the options. I cannot fault the service here at all.

The menu reminds me of southern home-style food. I was spoiled for choice and couldn't choose between a few of the dishes. I asked on Twitter for recommendations of what to go for and went with the most popular option. 

I ordered the fried chicken and donuts. I swapped out the original side for mac and cheese because I had heard so many good things about it that I couldn't leave without trying it. Normally, I really struggle putting sweet and savoury foods together so I was a bit skeptical at first. But my, wasn't I surprised?! The chicken was amazing, there was so much of it that I couldn't finish it. The donuts were coated in brown sugar and the maple syrup tasted like "real" syrup I had in Canada and not out of a bottle. The mac and cheese was in a league of its own. It was packed with stringy, delicious cheese and is way bigger than it looked. I couldn't stop eating this to the point where I had to force myself to stop! 

When the dessert menu was passed round I almost had to say no, until I saw the chocolate cake! I expected a small slice with a little bit of ice cream. Then I remembered that we are in America and no portions are small!

I am fussy with my chocolate cake. I like a real chocolate fudge cake and for it to be moist, not dry. Well, this one really hit the spot. The cake, despite being massive, was lovely and moist and the ice cream, we were told, was made in Winter Park in Orlando! It was so good, but I had to put some in a box to take back to the hotel. 

We were pleasantly surprised by Homecomin'. I knew I would like it, but I didn't know I would like it as much as I did! Being sat outside was great and to watch the sun set from the veranda was really nice paired with our food. 

I would definitely recommend Homecomin' for older families. I didn't see a huge amount of younger children in there and I can't comment much on the menu, but it would also be a good dinner location for a family. I'd also recommend seeing if you can be sat outside, it really did make a difference to our experience and felt more peaceful than indoors. 

Have you been to Homecomin'? 

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Tony's Town Square Restaurant Dinner Review

Tony's is an Italian restaurant themed to Lady and the Tramp by the main entrance to the Magic Kingdom. It is a lovely restaurant, with three options for seating; inside the main restaurant, in the conservatory or on the balcony. The balcony is a great place to be seated if you want to watch the parade come by at 14:00. You can always ask to be seated in a particular area, you may just have to wait a little extra.

Tony's is a Table Service restaurant and is 1 Table Service Credit on the Disney Dining Plan. As with most table service restaurants, reservations open up 180 days before. Although I highly recommend getting a reservation at the 180 day mark just to be safe, it is not uncommon to find reservations closer to the time, even on the same day. They also accept walk ins, but you may have to wait longer for a table.

The restaurant itself is lovely and blends in perfectly with the Town Square Theatre style. Outside the main restaurant in the concrete by the balcony you can find the paw prints of Lady and Tramp in a heart. You may have to move a few strollers out the way, but they are there! 

As Disney is keen on Halloween, the decorations were up. All the buildings were beautifully decorated in autumnal colours of orange and deep reds. The front of Tony's was equally decorated in these colours and matched the remainder of the building.  

Check in for the restaurant is in an entrance to the left of the Town Square Theatre where you can meet Mickey Mouse and Tinker Bell. There are a couple of seats there for you to wait, as well as a large container of water that you can help yourself to.

We were seated in the conservatory and I much preferred it to being sat in the main restaurant where I have been seated before. It is much lighter and you can see right on to Main Street, another ideal seating location if you are there for lunch to watch the parade. 

The menu is delightfully Italian with multiple pasta dishes. They also have an extensive allergy menu which caters for most allergies. 

Before your main meals come out, your drinks will arrive followed by a complimentary bread service with olive oil. The bread, I believe, is a sourdough which is gorgeous. They also provide a separate gluten free bread with individual dipping oils. 

I ordered the Chicken Parmigana, a favourite of mine. The chicken itself was massive; extremely thick, moist and coated in golden breadcrumbs. The sauce was lovely and rich, but not too chunky. The pasta was spaghetti with holes in it...that is all I can describe it as. I have never seen it here in the UK, but it didn't feel as heavy as a huge bowl of spaghetti normally is. As with most the restaurants, the portion was massive. 

Another menu favourite is the trio which has a "small" portion of the parmigana, meatball and alfredo pasta. Most of my family had this and said it was lovely. 

For dessert I ordered the Cannoli. I love the cannoli's in Disney. You get two in a portion and they are coated on the edges with chocolate flakes which adds a nice flavour. The shells they are in are nice and crisp and equally as tasty. I definitely recommend just picking them up and going for it; cutting them makes them disappear on to the floor! 

Overall, Tony's was a huge success with my family and everyone loved their meals. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and our server was great. She dealt with the allergy on our table fantastically and even explained to my Grampy about how the steak is cooked and which part it is in order for him to decide how he wanted it cooked. 

Our reservation was for around 18:00. This is probably the best time to get a reservation for dinner, most people are still out in the parks, it is still light outside and still very warm in August. It is nice to split the evening up a little with a nice hearty meal. You may come out of it needing a nap though!