End-Of-July Check In 

I made a summer bucket list a while back and I wanted to do a quick check in of things that I’ve already done! My summer doesn’t end until work starts up again so I still have quite a bit of time to do more but I think keeping tabs on myself helps keep my goals in check. 

1. I went to a Spinning Pottery workshop


I signed up for a one-off Spinning Pottery class when I made my list and I went the week I came back from Florida! It was a bit intimidating because I was the only one who signed up. Oops. 

Turns out weekdays at 4PM isn’t a very popular time for them, so my “workshop” turned out to be a one-on-one session. I felt a bit awkward taking photos for my blog considering all the attention was on me, but I ended up really enjoying it! The instructor was very nice and I was able to produce one wonky looking pot, which I then painted w/ colored glaze and left in their hands for baking. 

I’m supposed to get a text within two weeks to go pick up my masterpiece, but I didn’t leave the shop empty handed! My teacher was telling me about how her job was cool because she was allowed to make all sorts of creations in the clock and I spotted this little guy… and I just had to have him. 


He’s a character called Lion from Steven Universe, and the girl made him by hand! I love supporting local artists and she was so excited that I wanted to buy her artwork. He has a special little place on my desk now. Isn’t he adorable! 

2. I got a proper mani-pedi


I think I conquered my fears of salons. I went with my friend to get the mani-pedi (originally I kind of wanted to conquer the fear alone) but she only got a manicure. So, technically I did the whole shebang on my own. 

I don’t know why I’m so scared of these places. Its probably just a combination of me not used to being in that environment and being afraid that they’ll say something mean about my feet. I’ve never actually gotten a pedi, so it was nerve wracking and a bit terrifying if I’m honest. 

I’m so glad I asked around for recommendations because the salon I went to was wonderful! They had great music and they were very clean about everything. I’ve heard some horror stories about nail salons, so I’m just grateful that this experience was a good one. 

As for colors… I did want to be adventurous and go for something bright, but I ended up getting a mauve color on my pedi and the good ol’ Samoan Sand on my mani. Maybe next time I’ll venture out into something else. 

3. I read three books


Books I Read: 

  • A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Many Waters by Madeleine L’Engle
  • The Martian by Andy Weir 

I finally finished my reading of the Wrinkle In Time quintet! I’ll have to reread the first one before the film comes out next year but I’m happy I got to experience that universe again. I’ll probably make a post about the series because I have so much to say about it! The Martian was also amazing and I’m so glad I waited to watch the movie until I read the book. So worth it. 

Currently reading: 

  • Good Omens 
  • How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are 

That’s about everything that I’ve done up until now, which isn’t as much as I wanted! I don’t think the trip to our local beach is happening, but I am traveling to a foreign beach with friends! So that’s happening soon. I have a lot of things to try and accomplish come August. Wish me luck! 

xx 


 

July Favorites

I’ve sort of been AWOL for a week or so, life decided to throw a curveball of horrible bouts of hay-fever since I’ve been back from Florida. Everyone says it’s been the change of climate, which I can’t understand because Texas is equally as hot and humid. In any case, I’m feeling a whole lot better now and hopefully back on the ball on here. I have so many blogs to catch up on reading!

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July has passed by so fast, I feel like it’s only been a week since I did my June favorites post! There’s a few other things I wanted to include in this post but I’m gonna hold off until I use them a bit longer so I can also write a review.

Style

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  1. Adidas Superstars ($80.00, Journeys) 
    Yeah I know, I know. Everyone and their mother has these. I’m late to the game because I sort of resisted in following the trend. I bought my white Old Skool Vans Leather Zip shoes in an attempt to veer off of the normal path, but those have gone completely rotten after so much wear. I figured I might as well get them considering how much I really wanted them after putting it off for nearly two years. I’m still breaking them in, but I love them so much already!
  2. Fossil wallet ($30.00, Fossil)
    I’ve been looking for that perfect bag, which has proven to be absolutely impossible considering I’m not exactly a bag person. I haven’t been able to find one, but I did find this gem at the Fossil outlet store near me, at an extremely discounted price. Original cost was $75, which was such a bargain. I’ve only ever had Mighty Wallets so this is my first venture into “adult wallets”. I think it’s super pretty and it’s got so much room!
  3. Apple iPhone 7 Silicone Case, Hot Sand ($35.00, Apple Store)
    I got this as a gift from a friend who was donating her old cases, and I love it! I like the texture of the actual case, and considering it’s second hand it’s lasted really well! Again, I’m a bit late on the whole “Millennial Pink” craze, but I feel like it’s a really simple statement trendy case. It isn’t too distracting to have at work and doesn’t look unprofessional at all.

Beauty

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  1. Becca Shimmering Skin Perfecter Highlighter ($41.00, Sephora) 
    I was a bit nervous with this highlighter because the actual product is pure white, which I somehow wasn’t expecting, but I bought it at the recommendation of a friend, so I took the plunge anyway. I’m really glad I did because I love this highlighter! It takes such a minuscule amount to give a beautiful shimmery effect that I’m sure this will last ages, so it’s definitely worth the price.
  2. OPI Nail Lacquer, Samoan Sand ($9, Target) 
    My nail varnish of choice this month! I’ve been loving a bit of a nude nail color lately, which honestly is such a me thing. I think I might venture into something different this week considering I’ll be traveling to tropical locations soon.
  3. Velour Liquid Lipstick, Gemini ($18.00, JS Cosmetics)
    I got this as a Christmas gift a long time ago, but I’ve recently dug it out and been using it a lot lately. I’m not a big fan of buying from this line, just because I’m not such a huge fan of the person behind them, but the lipsticks are incredible, so I do, begrudgingly recommend.
  4. EOS Shave Cream Pomegranate Raspberry, Travel Size ($2.50, Target) 
    I have this in full size as well, but I’ve bought the travel sized one to take on my trips this summer because I absolutely love it! My legs feel so much smoother when using it and the smell is so gorgeous. I do love everything raspberry, to be honest.
  5. Origins Drink-Up Intensive Overnight Mask ($17.00, Sephora) 
    I mentioned this in my Flight Travel Essentials post a while back, but it’s on this list for another reason completely! This mask saved my nose. Having such intense hay-fever had me rubbing at my nose with napkins all day and within three days my nose was raw and cracked and in so much pain. I chucked a bit of this on the area for about an hour and my nose was quite literally resurrected from the jaws of death, it was so incredible. The mask itself is really good for regular night-time hydration masks but I’m so happy that I tried it on my nose because it worked like a charm.

That’s about it! I opted for keeping it short this time around because something tells me that August is gonna be a massive one. Hope you all have been doing well! I’m going on holiday again in a few days, but I plan on having a few posts going up in my absence just in case I’m not able to get Wifi in another country.

Bunches of love, cant wait to see all your July favorite posts! Please link me in the comments if you’ve put one up recently, I’d love to read them. xx

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Day 6: Jump Scares & Sore Feet (Islands of Adventure) 

The truth is in the name, Islands of Adventure always proves to be some kind of adventure or another. We went in with the energy of someone who knows they’re in the last leg of a race. That is, with great enthusiasm only barely covering the masked pain. 

I checked our Health vitals on my phone, and we’d been basically covering 8.5 miles a day. And that’s considering my phone was in a locker for a good portion of time. 

Once we entered (on time, I might add), we headed straight to the new attraction in town. 

Skull Island


As of now, Skull Island only has one attraction: The Reign of Kong. Its a pretty great ride! There’s 3D goggles involved, and you get to ride an “expedition vehicle” (which basically looks like a huge jeep). 

The 3D effects are quite impressive and there’s also some really cool animatronics involved near the end. 

My only complaints about it were: 1. I hate giant worms, 2. The Skull Island natives scared the shit out of me, and 3. Did I mention I hate giant worms? 


If you hate giant worms like I do, I’d recommend sitting on the far left side of the tram, where I thankfully happened to sit. As for the natives, the people at Universal decided it would be a good idea to hide scare actors in the queue. As you’re walking through the darkness, at any moment a “Skull Island Native” could jump out and scare you. 

I may or may not have let out a blood-curdling scream. I got really scared ok! 

Jurassic Park

I love this area, its such a classic. The Jurassic Park River Adventure is always one of my favorites, although this time around we kept getting told off for taking pictures while the ride was in motion? 

 

 I really wouldn’t have a problem with this, but their only rule had been no flash photography, beforehand. Our phones were in a plastic protector! Nothing would’ve happened. It kind of harshed my mood while on the ride, but it was still lots of fun like always. 


My favorite newish attraction in this area is the Raptor Encounter, where you can meet with a raptor trainer who lets you pose for photos with an animatronic velociraptor. 

I knew that it was an animatronic but somehow it was still scary? The raptor reacts in real time to anything you do and the noises are so lifelike! For a moment I was genuinely terrified. 

Seuss Landing


This area is great for kids! As a teacher I kind of went wild buying things in this area, because, well, finding good Dr. Seuss merch is nearly impossible. 

All the rides are geared towards children in this area, so it would be a great destination for little ones. 

The Lost Continent

 This area used to be a lot bigger before the integration of the Harry Potter area, so The Lost Continent now boasts a total of two attractions: The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad (a live stunt show) and Poseidon’s Fury (a walk-through show). 

Both of these are great but haven’t been updated in a very long time. I’d say Poseidon’s Fury is my favorite of these two, just because the effects are super cool. 

Marvel Superhero Island

 

A part of me loves seeing the old comic book heroes come to life in this area of the park. There’s something very nostalgic about the cheesy, old-fashioned, original superhero costumes that makes me happy. 

The Hulk is the must-ride roller coaster in the park, its so good! Fast and thrilling, the coaster never stops being a favorite. 

We also happened to eat in this area, we did lunch at Captain America’s Diner, where sure enough, Captain America was hanging out for photo ops. 

Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hosmeade

The crowning glory! Who doesn’t love seeing the Hogwarts castle in the distance? It made me all kinds of emotional. 


The Forbidden Journey is the ride inside of the castle. We did the whole queue despite single rider being available because, well we wanted to walk through the whole castle! 

I think its possible to do the walk through without having to do the ride, but I love the ride so I didn’t actually bother asking. 


After a quick ride in the Twiwizard Tournament Dueling Dragons, we sat for a quick frozen butterbeer. It did wonders to combat the Florida humidity. 


We did a bit of shopping and saw the Twiwizard Tournament Pep Rally, where you get to see Drunstrang and Beauxbaton students perform on stage, much like their intro in Goblet of Fire. 


Like I said before, I really do love the performances over in Diagon Alley much more, but both of the ones in Hogsmeade are still worth a look. The second performance is the Hogwarts School Choir performing various acapella songs, complete with frogs! 


It just so happened to be International Ice Cream Day on the day we were in Hogsmeade, so I nipped in to The Three Broomsticks to get a bit of ice cream to celebrate. I got Strawberries and Peanut Butter while my little sister opted for a Butterbeer Ice Cream. I liked mine but I really wish I had gotten the Butterbeer flavored one, it was delicious. 

The biggest issue with Hogsmeade is space. While it is technically rather big, it always feels so cramped with space! There’s never anywhere to sit. Thankfully, this year I discovered a bit of a hidden nook! 


Next to the Girl’s Restroom, where Moaning Mrytle lives, there’s a small passageway that leads to the back of the Hog’s Head. 


Tables galore! And with wonderful shade no less. We spent a good half hour here. This seating area has wonderful views of the lake and of Hogwarts! It seems like most people don’t know about it because it was practically empty. 

I love that I can still find secrets at Hogwarts, no matter how many times I’ve visited. 

We called it quits rather early. Not only we’re our feet insanely sore and bruised up from so much walking, but my inner thighs had a rash from so much rubbing together. Thick thigh girl problems, eh?

Either way we were able to finish this park surprisingly early, considering how long it took us to finish Universal the day before. Not that I’m complaining, I needed a rest. 

xx

Day 5: Mostly Potter (Universal Studios) 

Since the last time I’ve been to Universal, there hasn’t been a great many positive changes other than one: the new Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon attraction.


However, the Twister and Beetlejuice Concert were given up as a result to this. I can say that the ride was fun and the queue inside of “Fallon’s Studio” was a blast. They had live performances from the Ragtime Gals! 


Hashtag Panda also made an appearance but by the time he stepped out on to the stage to dance, our ticket color had been called for “recording”. 


Maybe it was because the day before had granted me the best motion stimulator ride I’d ever been on, but Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon was just … alright. It’s worth getting on, especially since the queue is basically watching a performance, but it was just alright. 

More to the point, it seems like this year Universal had more removals than additions to their park. Previously mentioned Twister and Beetlejuice Concert were retired, as well as the Disaster Studios ride, which is one of my classic favorites. 

I couldnt really stay angry though, considering that the Harry Potter Diagon Alley section is still something that exists. 

  

Its every Harry Potter fan’s dream. Everything from interactive “magic” points that you can do with the wands at Ollivanders, to the shops and food sold on location. 


Diagon Alley is actually my favorite place to chill out in-park. It feels like it has much more space than Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure, and the performances are so much better! 


The Tales of Beetle and the Bard are told using elaborate puppetry by very talented puppeteers. Its absolutely beautiful and you cannot miss it! 


In the same area, every hour on the hour, magical songstress extraordinaire Celestina Warbeck performs the top hits, including Molly Weasley’s favorite “A Cauldron Full Of Hot Strong Love”. 

 

The featured ride in this area is the Escape from Gringotts Bank, where you get to escape the safest bank in the world via dragon riding. 

Universal kind of surprised us a bit by cutting Single Rider queues for a few of the rides. We usually depend on those to cut our waiting time, so we had to wait the full 30 minutes to get on the bank cart. 


I wasn’t too upset about this because 1. the queue is in air conditioning, and 2. it’s just really fucking cool. 

For lunch time, we boarded the Hogwarts Express to cross over to Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure. We went to our usual, and absolutely best place to eat: The Three Broomsticks. 


We had to pay for park-to-park tickets beforehand to board the train but I think it’s well worth it. The next day’s schedule would be too hectic to allow lunch at Hogsmeade. Our usual order is The Great Feast. Its a platter for four people and a cool chef in a funky hat brings it to your table. 


How good does that look? Its insanely delicious, I’ll tell you that. With our bellies full and appetite sated, we boarded the train again to go back to Universal and hang out in Diagon Alley. 


My little sister bought an interactive wand and had lots of fun figuring out all the spells throughout the area. I’m an idiot and left my interactive wand at home, so I spent my money on something I’d been wanting for a long time. 

A robe! 

Slytherin Pride!


Univeral Studios is honestly more shows than thrill rides, so we got a slight rest on our feet after hour days of walking parks from morning till night. We did leave a bit early to rest up for our final day, but not before taking the required photo at the phone booth in London 


If you happen to visit this phone booth, be sure to call the number on the phone for the Ministry of Magic! There’s a cute little message that plays. 


By 8 o’clock, we were heading back to our hotel. One more day and my feet will get a breather! 

xx 


Day 4: The World Of Pandora (Disney’s Animal Kingdom) 


I could pretend to write a long post about everything in Animal Kingdom. I could talk about how the animal exhibits are beautiful and how the musicals are worth watching. I could talk about the awesome rollercoaster thrill that is Expedition Everest and how amazing all the usual attractions are, but I’d just be beating around the bush. 


The new gem of Animal Kingdom is Pandora. Without a doubt. It is quite honestly the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced, and I’m not even a huge Avatar fan! 

Obviously, being the new attraction, this area was destined to be packed with people. When we arrived at the park, one of the two rides already had a 60 minute wait! 


We decided to do the 20 minute line for the Na’vi River Journey first. This is a beautiful boat ride taking you through the beauty of Na’vi nature. Not only is it beautiful, but I have to say the animatronics in this ride were incredible.

 
Most of the ride features “bioluminescent” lighting, so it was very hard to take photos that properly captured the beauty of it, but believe me when I say that it was gorgeous. I’m glad we took advantage of the short ride though, later in the day the wait went up to an hour and a half. While the boat ride was beautiful it definitely wouldn’t be worth a wait that long. 


By the time we got out of the river ride, we went to make queue for the Rite of Passage attraction, which had managed to go up to two hours. It was insane! The line winded its way throughout all of Pandora and out into Africa! 


On the bright side, we got to see all the beautiful sights in Pandora. We stuck in that line until the bitter end. In all honesty, once the line went into the actual cave, the wait didn’t feel all that long at all. 

There was so many interesting things to see! Markings on the cave walls made way to bioluminescent Pandora flora.


The beautiful cave-dwelling plants eventually led to a science lab for the conservation and discovery of everything o do with the “banshee”, of which the basis of the ride revolved around. There was even a massive Avatar floating in a water capsule that looks like a movie scene in photo, but is EXTREMELY life-like in reality. 

I want to shake the hands of all the Imagineers who took part in creating this queue, it was incredible. 

The ride itself required the rider to sit in a motorcycle-like chair to connect with an Avatar that would ride on the back of a Banshee. 

I’ve never experienced anything quite like this ride, and I’ve been to a lot of theme parks. It was so immersive? That’s the best way I can explain it without waxing poetry about it. While following the road that was paved by Epcot’s Soarin’, Rite of Passage takes this type of experience to a whole new level. 

I felt the movement of the banshee beneath me, movements that were integrated into the seats. The “flying” movement simulation was perfect. You could both feel AND smell the ride! I’m serious. You could smell the waters when the banshee flew near the beach, you could smell the foliage when flying through the jungle, and you could smell the dirt on the paths made by creatures. It was a complete five senses simulation! Its so hard to explain this ride without resorting to weird hand gestures and flabbergasted noises. It was just insanely cool. 


After a full day finishing the rest of Animal Kingdom, we went back to Pandora and did the full two-hour queue to get on Rite of Passage again. It was that good. A friend of mine had recommended we take blacklight paint for a bit of fun in Pandora, so the second time around we spent a majority of the time painting our arms. By the time we reached the “cave flora” bit of the queue, our arms lit up with the numerous black lights in the room. 


Everyone really liked it and it sparked a lot of conversation with so many people in the queue, it was lots of fun! 

The Pandora area also has a lot of cool stuff in terms of food and snacks. They have a full-fledged restaurant that we weren’t able to try out, but we did try a snack stand called Pongu Pongu. 

“Pongu Lumpia” is basically a spring roll with pineapple and cream cheese inside. It was good, if only a bit too unsatisfying size wise. I think deep down I would’ve liked a churro or a soft pretzel instead. Very good for a one-time tasting though! 

The drinks are what really stand out! They’re brightly colored with different colored boba balls on top, and if you shell out a few more bucks, the drinks glow. 

 

I ordered a “Night Blossom” and absolutely loved it. The drink is non-alcoholic and tastes a bit like a SweetTart candy, in a weird way. The passion fruit boba balls were delicious! 

They have an alcoholic option that I desperately wish I could’ve tried because it looked so good! The woes of traveling with family, I guess. 

We usually never stay late at Animal Kingdom. However, there was a new night show that debuted a couple of months ago, and we stayed to watch it. Frankly, a part of me wishes that we’d just stayed in Pandora instead of seeing the show. 


“Rivers of Light” is okay, but I think it’s very much a one-time viewing. I wouldn’t go racing to go watch it again any time soon. If anything, I wish that time had been spent experiencing Pandora by night instead. Maybe next time around I’ll get to see the nighttime luminescence throughout the park. 

Even for a casual fan, I’d say Pandora is well worth a visit, if only to experience the amazing talent of world building that Disney has managed to reach. If this is what Avatar gets, I can’t wait to see how immersive Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be like! 

xx 


PS: I’m back home now and about two days behind on my travel posts, so hopefully I’ll have those up tomorrow! Then I can get to all the award nominations that you wonderful people have given me within the past two weeks, thank you!! 

Also, thank you to any new followers I’ve gotten recently, as well as people who have been liking, commenting, and interacting! You guys make my day! x