5 Must-Read Books By Women, About Women

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Hello friends, welcome to Day 2 of my International Women’s Day (or, rather, week) posts! Today’s post is a condensed list of my favourite books about women that are written by female authors. Although there are many, many books out there about women’s stories that I adore, I thought that listing them all off would be a bit much. So I narrowed it down, even though it was very painful to let some of my favourites go. I’ll do another post someday with a list of more of these sort of books… Maybe for next Women’s Day!

With that being said, here are 5 must-read books by women, about women…

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Out of this list, this might be my favourite (though, with these contenders, it’s extremely difficult to pick one favourite). The Alice Network tells the story of two strong women from the two World War eras of the 20th century. The first, Eve Gardiner, is desperate to help the Great War efforts in a way that counts and her wishes are granted when she’s recruited as a spy. The second is Charlie St. Clair, a young American who became pregnant out of wedlock and is on a search to find her missing cousin in the aftermath of World War II. The two women reluctantly join together to embark on a search for the cousin, bringing their stories (and hardships) to light. It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking story and I just love how brave each of the women are, in their own unique way.

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

This is actually a book I’ve not quite finished (only about 15% left to read!) but have absolutely loved every second of. You may recall Gloria Steinem from yesterday’s post. My Life on the Road is her memoir about her years of travel, both globally and domestically. In her stories, she recounts incredible tales that you wouldn’t imagine have all happened to one person. Her journeys brought her face-to-face with remarkable women and really opened her eyes to different walks of life, not only across the world but in the very country where she was raised. I loved hearing about the people she met, the things she experienced firsthand, and most of all, her activism for women’s rights and equality. If you’re interested in women’s history and/or feminism, this is definitely one of the first books you should read!

Women Talking by Miriam Toews

I only just read this book at the beginning of this year, but it has left such a lasting impression on me, that I had to include it here. This book is unfortunately based on a real-life incident which occurred in Bolivia. In the fictionalized retelling, a group of Mennonite women gather in the wake of a series of assaults on the women by the men of the community. The assaults occurred while women were drugged, and they were told that they had been visited by demons. Women of all ages, including children and the elderly, were affected. Now, they face a decision: do they flee, do nothing, or fight back? The novel is told through the minutes taken during their meeting by a man who has returned from excommunication. The experiences of the women were so hard to read and it’s even harder to imagine that it really happened in our world, not very long ago (the 2000s). It’s an excellent book that I highly recommend!

A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead

Yet another very difficult read, sorry! This one is a non-fiction about a group of female resisters during the German occupation of France in World War II. The women engaged in actions against the Germans that were highly dangerous, including the distribution of pamphlets and information to other resisters. Eventually, they are imprisoned and not long after, transferred to Auschwitz. It’s disgusting, and painful, and disturbing. But the point of this novel is not to showcase the horrors of concentration camps, although it does do that very well; it is instead to show the determination and the sisterhood of the women who were captured and arrested. They were all by each other’s sides from the start to the very end, as many became ill or even died. Their heroism was incredibly impressive, especially given the circumstances.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Last, but certainly not least, is a far less gruesome or horrific novel. This actually takes a really depressing real-life story, and makes it far less tragic and even makes it quite funny! Lady Jane Grey had a tough life. She was only sixteen when she was executed, after being Queen of England (maybe not even officially Queen) for all of nine days before Mary I came in and had her - and her hubby - imprisoned in the Tower of London. Her story is short, and sad, and pretty violent. But these ladies decided to change her fate. What if she never died? What if she actually escaped? What if her husband was…a horse? Yeah, it sounds bizarre but you have to take my word for it. This book is phenomenally funny and entertaining, a perfect YA spin on a terrible mark on English history. After all, it wasn’t even Jane’s fault that she was Queen. Why should she punished? This novel primarily features a bunch of strong women, including the not-so-nice Mary I.

Do you have a novel written by a female author that you’d like to share? Drop it in the comments!

Felicia x

10 Inspirational Quotes by Women

Some of you may not know this, but March is Women’s History Month! This month is meant to celebrate and draw attention to the contributions of women throughout history, a primarily overlooked component of our shared history. It also perfectly aligns with International Women’s Day, which is celebrated on March 8 every year and has been ever since the 1910 International Socialist Women’s Conference.

Since this Friday is International Women’s Day, I thought I’d do my own celebrating through a week (well, four days - I had a pre-scheduled review on Monday!) of posts related to women. For my first post, I wanted to share 10 of my favourite quotes by women, from either distant or near history. These women are often noted as being “powerful” women, although I think it must be said that all women are powerful. These are just the ones who history has noted, though so many stories and influential figures have been left to slip through the cracks over time. With each of the quotes, I’ve put a little sentence or two about the woman who was quoted, so that maybe you might learn something new about women in history today that might just encourage you to look deeper into the lives of these fascinating women!

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“I ask no favour for my sex; all I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.” - Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg (b. 1933) is currently serving as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. As one of few women in her class, she attended first Harvard University and then Columbia University for law school, where she graduated first in her class. Her career has been marked by significant advocacy for the rights and equality of women, perhaps most controversially supporting abortion rights in a time where abortions were particularly scandalized. She has been a justice on the Supreme Court since 1993.

“The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn. We are filled with the popular wisdom of several centuries just past, and we are terrified to give it up.” - Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem (b. 1934) is a journalist, feminist, and activist who has spent the majority of her life on the road. Creator of the liberal feminist magazine, Ms., she has spent her career actively fighting for gender equality, travelling across the nation in order to speak to and learn from a wide variety of American groups. She has also been involved in a number of political campaigns, from the late 1960s onwards.

“Here’s what I think. Feminism is not here to dictate to you. It’s not prescriptive, it’s not dogmatic. All we are here to do is give you a choice.” - Emma Watson

Emma Watson (b. 1990) is mostly known for her decade-long role as young witch Hermione Granger in the popular Harry Potter movie series. After filming the final instalment of the series, she continued her education at Brown University where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature. She has since been appointed a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, has travelled globally to promote education for girls, and has spoken at the UN Headquarters to launch the HeForShe campaign.

“I do not wish [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.” - Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759 - 1797) was an English writer and early women’s rights advocate. Her most well known work is her feminist writing, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) in which she opposed the presumption that women have a natural inferiority to men. This position was extremely controversial in an era where women had prescribed roles in society which placed them below men. She was also mother to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, author of the Gothic novel Frankenstein (1818) and another boundary-pushing woman of her time.

“No struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men. There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a third power stronger than both, that of women.” - Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai (b. 1997) is a Pakistani woman who is an activist for education of girls. In 2012, while on a bus after an exam, Malala was shot in an assassination attempt by a Taliban gunman who opposed her activism. Although she was hit in the head with a bullet, she recovered fully and now continues her activist work, despite further threats from the Taliban. She has since written a bestselling memoir called I Am Malala and in 2014, she became the youngest Noble Peace Prize laureate at 17 years old.

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you.” - Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

Charlotte Brontë (1816 - 1855) was an English novelist and a third of the famous Brontë sisters. Charlotte lived a short life plagued with tragedy - she watched her sisters pass away before succumbing to a pregnancy-related illness herself. While she wasn’t outspoken about women’s rights or equality, her famous novel Jane Eyre was driven by progressive ideas, such as the right for women to have an occupation and inner beauty. This quote from Jane Eyre is quite personal to me, and I think it really embodies women’s independence.

“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” - Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou (1928 - 2014) was an American poet and civil rights activist. Her work, particularly her autobiographies, have raised awareness of racism and sexism, through her own experiences of both throughout her lifetime. In 1993, she became the first female poet (and second poet ever) to recite poetry at an inauguration of a president. Her writings displayed the importance of intersectionality - she was not a feminist, nor a civil rights activist, but rather a combination of both.

“Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, ‘She doesn’t have what it takes.’ They will say, ‘Women don’t have what it takes.’” - Clare Boothe Luce

Clare Boothe Luce (1903 - 1987) was an American author and politician who was the first woman to be appointed as a U.S. Ambassador to another country. While she was not entirely feminist in her thinking, expressed most prominently through her belief that all women must marry and have children, her determination in progressing in her career, despite possible discrimination against her gender, made her a strong female role model in that sense.

“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.” - Jane Austen, Persuasion

Jane Austen (1775 - 1817) was an English novelist who wrote six main completed novels in her lifetime, two of which were published posthumously. Her novels analyzed and critiqued the English landed gentry, as well as place importance on a marriage for love rather than marriage for financial purposes. In her novels, she portrays women as being strong, independent and often courageous, which has led many scholars to view her writing as early feminism.

“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” - Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde (1934 - 1992) was an American writer, feminist, and civil rights activist. Throughout her career, she brought issues of race, sexuality, and gender to light through her writing, most specifically her poetry. She simultaneously attended Hunter College and worked to fund her education, and then after her graduation in 1959, she got her master’s degree in library science at Columbia University.

Review: Dumplin' - Julie Murphy

“I guess sometimes the perfection we perceive in others is made up of a whole bunch of tiny imperfections, because some days the damn dress just won’t zip.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction

Reading Challenge: 3 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

My Thoughts —

I’m a sucker for a good fluffy romance. (New drinking game: take a shot whenever I say that in a review).

Last December, I saw that the film adaptation of Dumplin’ had been put onto Netflix and because I have no impulse control, I watched it before reading the book. Big literary no-no, I know. But here we are. I really enjoyed the film but I had to wait until after final exams to read the book. So, finally, I got to read it and no shock, it’s SO much better than the film.

Dumplin’ has all the key elements of a great YA romance: an authentic female lead, a dreamy love interest, a complicated but enduring friendship, and of course, Dolly Parton, hero to all. To be honest, Dumplin’ really hit the mark for me. It pulled me in, got me invested in all the characters, and it just seemed authentic to me. I believed that these characters could be real teenagers, which I find is really difficult for some YA authors to capture perfectly. Being not so far off from a teen, I can still understand teen characters fairly well. Mind you, I feel like every day I feel less and less connected to teens these days lol.

I really liked how this book strayed from the reliance on stereotypes like a lot of YA novels do. Not only in terms of Willowdean, either. I thought it was really interesting that Bo could have easily been made into another mysterious, handsome, obnoxious private school kid. But instead, they made him into a multifaceted character. They also avoided having Willowdean desperately chase after Bo to the point that pining over him would be her only personality trait (I’m sure this sounds familiar). In fact, Bo actually chased Willowdean throughout the book. Willowdean is a strong, complex character with ambitions and goals, who happens to also have a crush on a boy. And I loved that about her.

Did you like the movie adaptation or the book better?

Felicia x

Review: The Sun Does Shine - Anthony Ray Hinton

“Everything, I realized, is a choice. And spending your days waiting to die is no way to live.”

My Rating: ★★★★★

Genre(s): Non-Fiction, Memoir, Biography, True Crime

Reading Challenge: 2 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

Anthony Ray Hinton was poor and black when he was convicted of two murders he hadn't committed. For the next three decades he was trapped in solitary confinement in a tiny cell on death row, having to watch as - one by one - his fellow prisoners were taken past him to the execution room. Eventually his case was taken up by the award-winning lawyer, Bryan Stevenson, who managed to have him exonerated, though it took 15 years for this to happen. Since his release, other high-profile supporters have included Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg and Amal Clooney.

How did Hinton cope with the mental and emotional torture of his situation, and emerge full of compassion and forgiveness? The Sun Does Shine throws light not only on his remarkable personality but also on social deprivation and miscarriages of justice. Ultimately, though, it's a triumphant story of the resilience of the human spirit.

My Thoughts —

As soon as I heard about this book, I wanted to read it. I immediately added it to my TBR and then at my first chance, I went out to hunt for it in the shop. (I actually ended up getting it on sale, thanks Books-A-Million!).

I was shocked that it could be possible that someone could not only be wrongfully convicted, but put on death row for decades. Even more so, his positivity astonished me. If it were me, I would be miserable as I’m sure many others would be. But Anthony Ray Hinton managed to get through it with his head high and full of optimism. He spread light to the other prisoners and honestly made me completely reconsider my perception of the prison system.

I was completely inspired by Anthony Ray Hinton’s story. It made me really reconsider my own position in life and be grateful for my privileges. Ray was imprisoned simply because he was poor and black - we can’t let the world fail people like Ray anymore.

Felicia x

Review: Mary Queen of Scots (2018)

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I think I should preface this by saying that not only am I a huge history buff, but that Mary Queen of Scots is my favourite monarch in history. Is it weird to have a favourite royal? I don’t think so. Who knows, might just be a history nerd thing. I was first introduced to Mary’s story years ago through the CW teen drama, Reign, which I still binge-watch at least once every six months. However, it isn’t exactly… ahem… a historically accurate source haha. Not to say that it isn’t good! It’s very enjoyable and I highly recommend watching it, so long as you look elsewhere for your facts. Anyway, it set me off on a years-long search to gather as much info about the tragic Scottish Queen as I could.

For those not familiar with the history, lemme break it down real quick. Henry VIII had 3 children: Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I. The way succession worked in 16th century England, if Henry VIII had not had any kids, the line of succession would’ve been passed onto his oldest sister, Margaret Tudor. The same, however, went if his children did not have children. Which they didn’t. Long story short, Elizabeth I not having a kid meant that the Scottish Queen, Mary, was the next in line (this was due to her paternal grandmother and father being dead by the time she was a baby). This caused a lot of anxiety for Queen Elizabeth I, who worried that Mary would come along and try to take the throne from her, as her own grandfather did to King Richard III in the 1400s. This was especially problematic as a lot of people were against Elizabeth as she was a Protestant, and Mary was a Catholic. See how this could be an issue?

Okay, let’s get into things.

You can imagine that when I heard there would be a film adaptation about her life, I was pretty bloody ecstatic. My mum (also a MQoS fan) and I meant to see the film in theatres last December, but with my exam schedule it just didn’t work out. Luckily, it’s out on dvd and I finally got to see it! And I thought, what better way to revisit my love of Mary than through a film review on my blog.

Disclaimer: these are just the opinions of a 20-year-old history fan who makes no claim to be a professional historian or film critic. I just love me a good period piece and love a good rant even more!

Caution - major spoilers ahead!!

First off, the cast. When I heard that Queen Elizabeth I was to be played by Margot Robbie, my reaction looked a lot like this:

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All I could picture was yet another Cate Blanchett depiction of a very polished version of the English Queen. However, my worries were completely unfounded as Margot Robbie pulled off a fantastic Queen Elizabeth I. They even showed off her facial scarring that she got from smallpox. I was pleasantly surprised. Saoirse Ronan wasn’t exactly who I’d have imagined playing Mary, but I think she pulled it off quite well. There were also some great actors in this film such as Brendan Coyle, Joe Alwyn, and David Tennant (more on him in a sec).

The film was heavily based on John Guy’s biography of Mary Queen of Scots, which you can tell because Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie’s faces are plastered on the book’s cover in every book store right now. If you’re interested in getting a more in-depth factual look at Mary’s life, I definitely recommend reading his biography which is the one in the picture at the top of the review. It’s highly acclaimed and a reliable source. Just make sure to not buy the movie tie-in version!

Let’s start off with the good things/things I liked.

This was the most historically accurate depiction of Mary’s story I’ve seen. Not to say that it’s entirely historically accurate, as there was a bit of artistic license used in order to move the plot ahead or make it more dramatic. But it was a far-cry from Reign lol. As for the two Queens, I’ve obviously pointed out how on-point Elizabeth’s appearance was (even her nose was spot-on!). Mary was given red hair, which was a plus, however it was a bit lighter/more orange than portraits made it out to be.

My FAVOURITE part of this movie was whenever Saoirse Ronan spoke French!! She spoke it often, too!! By George, I think they’ve finally got it. It’s the most overlooked part of her life in the film and TV universe. Mary would have spoken French. A woman who spent her formative years in France, who married the French king, would have spoken the country’s native language. It’s just facts. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

Moving on lol. David Tennant (see, told you we’d get to him!) was phenomenal in this film. I didn’t even initially recognize him when he came on the screen. It took me, however, 0.05 seconds to realize he was John Knox, the Protestant leader of the Scottish Reformation and overall woman-hater. In one sentence, he attacked the Pope and the female rulers of two kingdoms, so I was like aha that’s him. He did a great job at playing the villainous Scot and also reminded me why I hate Knox so much.

Onto the bad - as every movie, especially the period pieces, has its downfalls.

The omission of Mary’s early life made me sad. Yes, her time in Scotland is more “interesting,” but her time in France was equally as important. Her years there were relegated to a short blurb in conversation, whereas it was a huge part of her life. She spent a whopping 13 years in France, where as she spent a combined total of 11 in Scotland (5 of which she was a baby/toddler). None of her early years in French Court or her reign as Queen consort of France were depicted. And my poor heart couldn’t take that the only mention of her late husband, King Francis II was her offhandedly mentioning he was bad at sex. She loved him most of all!! How could they!! Toby Regbo did not die (twice) for this.

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The highly inaccurate face-to-face meeting of Mary and Elizabeth gave me major eye-rolls as well. Okay, so I know they included it because it’s anticlimactic to show two Queens writing letters to one another. But still. Especially that it was them meeting in a room of hanging sheets. The melodrama!! It was just not for me.

And her execution. Sigh. I thought that Adelaide Kane’s Mary execution in Reign was the most dramatized and fabricated version, because of how they gave her a grand total of maybe 5 grey hairs, propped her boobs up in a corset and hoped to God we’d believe her to be an ailing, malnourished 44-year-old woman. However, Saoirse Ronan didn’t even get that treatment. They just pulled her hair back. And then stripped her of her outer-garments to reveal crimson red underclothes, which was an over-exaggerated nod to the real Mary’s crimson sleeves representing martyrdom. There seems to be a trend in these adaptations of amplifying the execution scenes to make them seem far more dramatic and intense than they really were. The real Mary just stepped up to the block, forgave the executioner, and made a joke about stripping down in front of strange men. Classic.

All in all, it was a good film. It was (mostly) historically accurate, and the cast did a really good job. However, for me, there is only one Mary.

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Have you seen Mary Queen of Scots? What did you think of it?

Felicia x

A Charming Day in Niagara-on-the-Lake

I fully believe that Niagara-on-the-Lake is one of the dreamiest places in Ontario.

I adore this little town. Situated just a bit away from Niagara Falls, it’s like stepping back in time into a quaint 19th century town with all the boutiques and cafes your little heart could ever desire. I wish that I could spend every day walking along these beautiful streets with their little shuttered windows and beautiful brick buildings.

Steven and I recently had a week off from uni for midterms so we decided to take a day trip out to Niagara-on-the-Lake. Fortunately, despite it being the dead of winter in Canada, the sun came out, the weather was tolerable, and we had a positively lovely day! Since it’s one of the most photogenic places I’ve ever seen, I took tons of photos and thought I’d share them all on the blog today!

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We only visited Queen Street rather than exploring some of the historic areas throughout town, so we spent our day just popping in and out of the little shops that dot the street. There are a ton of local businesses along Queen St which I’ve come to appreciate even more since moving to a small town that’s reliant on their local shops.

One of the shops that isn’t a local business, however, is the Cows Creamery which is an ice cream shop. It’s actually a chain of parlours from Prince Edward Island that has somehow made it out to Niagara-on-the-Lake (and according to their website, Beijing too!) I love the ice cream there however it was far too cold for a scoop so instead we decided to check out their merchandise. It’s all hilariously cute, as most of it is cow-related pop culture puns. It sounds so hideously tacky (which it is) but I swear it’s funny! They actually had a line of pun-free crewnecks that were really nice and subtle, so I bought a large grey one that I intend on living in from now on lol.

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Every time I visit Queen St, I’m in complete awe of this building. You know me, I’m a history lovin’ gal. The Old Court House is from the mid-19th century and it’s a wonderful addition to this main street. I adore.

Walking down the streets and taking in all the sights was really the most fun ever. It was also really lovely to just spend a day alone with Steven, just chatting and enjoying the sun. Vehicle traffic on Queen St isn’t so crazy so it makes for a very quiet, stress-free stroll. They also have horse-drawn carriages that come down the road quite often which is beautiful. I love horses so much and every time they pass, I make Steven stop in the middle of the sidewalk so we can watch them pass!

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It’s simply not a trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake unless I visit Just Christmas. In fact, one of the reasons we went down there was to go to Just Christmas. Established in 1985, it’s known as Canada’s oldest year-long Christmas emporium. This store is MASSIVE. It seems like it goes on forever, up and down stairs, around corners, into little loft areas. For a Christmas fanatic (like myself), it’s a dream come true.

Just Christmas is a crucial part of my family’s Christmas traditions. Each member of my family has their own personalized red ornament ball that we put on the tree every year. It’s something that’s been a tradition for my family since before I was even born. Although my boyfriend has one (he got one within the first couple years of us dating), we realized just last Christmas that our dog doesn’t have one! Yes, we’re that crazy dog family that needs an ornament for our pet… So Steven and I went to get one for her haha.

We also bought a very cute marshmallow snowman ornament for our mini bedroom tree and a Jon Snow ornament for our main tree because he’s a cutie and it was only $3 lol.

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I’d always heard about the Prince of Wales Hotel growing up and I’ve seen it from afar but for whatever reason, I’ve never gone to see it up close. So this time, I insisted we went down that road and I’m so glad we did! The hotel was established in 1864 under a different name, being renamed the Prince of Wales after the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George V and Queen Mary) came to visit in 1901. It’s positively huge, not to mention beautiful. My little history heart just couldn’t take all the historic importance and the 19th century architecture. As we explored the exterior (I doubt we have enough money to go inside the building), I just kept saying “oh my GOD” really loudly and dramatically which gained me lots of looks from posh elderly patrons of the hotel and restaurant.

Also, it’s apparently extremely haunted. There’s a whole tale about an American soldier going into a wooden house which once stood in the spot of the hotel during the War of 1812. He allegedly mistook a woman looking out the window for an enemy British soldier and pierced her with the end of his bayonet. Not a great time. There’s even a Trip Advisor review that’s titled: “Great. But totally haunted.”

I won’t be staying there any time soon.

That being said, if the prospect of American phantom-soldiers intrigues you, Niagara-on-the-Lake is the place for you. The whole place is apparently spooky (i.e. haunted) as hell. Most old towns are considered haunted, especially ones that were ridden with war deaths. They even do walking ghost tours which I may gather the nerve to do one day lol.

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By the end of our day on Queen St, I was starved and Steven lured me into Nina Gelateria & Pastry Shop… Okay, so maybe it wasn’t that much of a struggle to get me in there. I had been there before for gelato with my godmother years earlier, but hadn’t ever tried anything from the cafe menu. Immediately after seeing they made crepes, I was hooked. Steven had shockingly never had a crepe before!! How have we been together 5 1/2 years and he’s never had a crepe? Luckily, I fixed that. I ordered us a Chocolate Hazelnut Banana crepe which is essentially nutella and sliced bananas. It was heavenly! Massive, too. If you happen upon Nina’s one day, keep in mind that the crepes can easily be shared between two (or more) people. But they’re extremely delish.

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Finally, we reached the end of our trip - sad. I should mention though that the parking on Queen St is… interesting. It’s primarily street parking which means the dreaded parallel park. Aka I made Steven drive and park there lol. There is limited parking behind some of the shops but those are the first spots that are gone. For parking on the street, you have to pay a parking meter - $3 an hour. We stayed an hour and a half so we paid $6 for two full hours as there’s no half-hour options, which was fine. But it wouldn’t accept our credit card! We tried both of our credit cards, our debit cards, and nothing. So we had to use change which we didn’t have so Steven had to go into a bakery to break a twenty while I waited by the car and prayed a cop didn’t come by to give us a ticket. It took a longgg time. So keep that in mind! Bring change!

We actually parked right in front of Starbucks which was fabulous as it meant I could easily pop in and grab a caramel macchiato before hoping in the car for the long drive home. Let me just say that this is the cutest Starbucks I’ve ever seen! Whenever I go inside, I talk about how badly I want to live in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It’s a very small, cozy cafe located in an old white building with beautiful green shutters and a green door. The barista who took my order was so friendly and nice. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day!

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And here’s my outfit that I wore to Niagara-on-the-Lake! Would it be a day out if I didn’t take a snap of my outfit, really?

Beret - Joe Fresh
Jacket - Forever 21
Sweater - Gap
Jeans - Garage (I only ever wear Garage High Rise Roller Jeggings, they’re so flattering and comfy!)
Ankle Boots - Madden Girl by Steve Madden

Have you ever been to Niagara-on-the-Lake?

Felicia x

January Favourites

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New year, new opportunity to try to remember to post monthly favourites! I always love writing up these favourites posts, but I find it so hard to remember to post one at the end of each and every month. My brain is so wrapped up in uni mode that I often neglect my blog :( But here’s to turning over a new leaf and making more of an effort with my blog!!

With that being said, here are my favourite things from January!

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Marc Anthony Hydrating Coconut Oil & Shea Butter [Shampoo // Conditioner]

Oh my goodness. This shampoo & conditioner set is truly to die for. I was in the market for a new shampoo and conditioner as I was pretty disillusioned with the one I was using before. I picked up this Marc Anthony duo on a whim, as I knew that Marc Anthony was a good brand (fun fact: my dad went to school with Marc Anthony himself!). It’s soo nice!! It makes my hair so soft and hydrated, and the scent reminds me so much of a tropical holiday! In other words, it’s a very strong coconut scent. If you don’t love heavy scents in your hair products, steer away from this bc it’s powerful haha. But the coconut scent is what makes me love it!

Bath & Body Works Comfort Body Butter [Similar: Body Cream]

If I could smell like Bath & Body Works’ Comfort scent 24/7, I would. Is there a way to make that happen that doesn’t involve going through ten tubs of body butter per month?! This Comfort scent is part of Bath & Body Works’ Aromatherapy line (which I absolutely love btw) and its fragrance is a combination of vanilla and patchouli essential oil. I think it’s an unusual but also really nice scent that isn’t too overpowering at all. Plus, the body butter is very hydrating on the skin. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem they’re selling it online anymore (I got mine in the semi-annual sale) but I’m sure the body lotion version - which I’ve linked - is very similar!

Bath & Body Works Stress Relief Body Cream [Body Cream]

Surprise, surprise, yet another thing from the Bath & Body Works Aromatherapy line!! I really love the Stress Relief scent so so much. The eucalyptus is lovely and genuinely soothes my anxiety. I’ve got this scent in a million different versions - soaps, wallflowers, sprays, you name it - but I find this body cream is one of my favs. It’s also very moisturizing!! And I got it for like $4 at the semi-annual sale this Christmas so I simply couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to buy it ;)

Aveeno Skin Relief Body Wash with Soothing Oat & Coconut [Body Wash]

This favourite of mine was actually a complete fluke! My boyfriend went to the store to pick up a few things and I asked him to pick up the Aveeno Skin Relief Body Wash. I typically use the fragrance free one as I have super sensitive skin, so I like to be careful with washing. But he accidentally picked up the coconut one and can I just say I am absolutely in love with it?! It’s completely added to my coconut scent obsession!! I find it doesn’t irritate my skin at all, so the skin relief part is still useful. But it just adds a lovely scent to my skin - so it’s a bonus!

The History Chicks Podcast [Website]

Unlike the rest of the world, I’ve not been totally obsessed with podcasts these past few years. For me, I’m very much a visual sort of person so I find that while listening to audiobooks or podcasts, my mind often wanders off as I get bored of listening. However, the one exception to the rule is The History Chicks podcast! I’ve been listening to this podcast on-and-off for the past year or so, and I’ve recently fallen back in love with it! It’s very simple - two women sit down and chronologically discuss the lives of prominent women, real or not, in history. Being a massive history fanatic, especially when it comes to women’s history, this is right up my alley! Personal favourite episodes include Jane Austen, Marie Antoinette, and Mary, Queen of Scots - because those are my fav historical women. However, there are hundreds to browse through and listen to!

Game of Thrones

I know I’m so late to the party, but I very recently started watching Game of Thrones and I’ve been loving it. Totally see what all the buzz has been about these last, what, 8 years lol. But whatever it’s all good!! I basically binge-watched the entirety of the available seasons in January alone, getting all the way up to the end of season 5. I’m v excited to see what the next two available seasons have in store and even more so what the final season has to offer! I’m pretty bummed that I’ll have watched all of Game of Thrones in just a few short months though… Feels like I missed out on the journey a little bit! If anyone’s wondering, my fav characters so far are Daenerys and Tyrion!

The Hunchback of Notre Dame Broadway Musical Soundtrack

It somehow managed to slip my knowledge that The Hunchback of Notre Dame had been turned into a Broadway musical at some point… How?! I absolutely love Hunchback, and always have, ever since I was a kid. And I adore musical theatre, if you hadn’t already guessed that. So I had to check out the Hunchback Broadway soundtrack and BOY am I glad I did!!! The OBC is incredible and although I highly doubt it’ll happen, I would be extremely grateful if they cast Michael Arden as Quasimodo in the upcoming Hunchback of Notre Dame live action adaptation.

So that’s all for this month! Hope you guys enjoyed reading about my little favourite bits and bobs of the month!

Felicia x

Review: Women Talking - Miriam Toews

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“When our men have used us up so that we look sixty when we’re thirty and our wombs have literally dropped out of our bodies onto our spotless kitchen floors, finished, they turn to our daughters.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Fiction, Feminism, Contemporary, Cultural (Fiction)

Reading Challenge: 1 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

One evening, eight Mennonite women climb into a hay loft to conduct a secret meeting. For the past two years, each of these women, and more than a hundred other girls in their colony, has been repeatedly violated in the night by demons coming to punish them for their sins. Now that the women have learned they were in fact drugged and attacked by a group of men from their own community, they are determined to protect themselves and their daughters from future harm.

While the men of the colony are off in the city, attempting to raise enough money to bail out the rapists and bring them home, these women—all illiterate, without any knowledge of the world outside their community and unable even to speak the language of the country they live in—have very little time to make a choice: Should they stay in the only world they’ve ever known or should they dare to escape?

Based on real events and told through the “minutes” of the women’s all-female symposium, Toews’s masterful novel uses wry, politically engaged humour to relate this tale of women claiming their own power to decide.

My Thoughts —

1. Do nothing. 2. Stay and fight. 3. Leave. Which one do they choose?

Wow. Just, wow. I have so many thoughts about this novel. There literally aren’t enough words. Or, maybe, just not the right words, to describe it perfectly.

While this is a fictional novel, it’s definitely important to note that the plot was based on the very real events that happened in Bolivia in the 2000s. What happened to these women - the fictional ones and the real ones - is absolutely horrific and appalling. But their bravery in the aftermath of these events is completely incredible.

It was absolutely shocking to me how strong the women in this story were. Not that I don’t think women are strong enough to deal with tough situations, but that I could not even fathom how I could be able to handle the situation if it were me. The women were terrified, of course, but were concerned more about their families, their children, and their loved ones than themselves. It was also horrifying to me, first of all, how they were conditioned to think that they deserved nothing better than the lives they were living, and second of all, they were faced with the dilemma of staying put in the most horrific conditions possible or leave but have no knowledge of the world outside their community. They were uneducated, unable to fend for themselves, and couldn’t even speak the language of their country. Just the thought of it all makes me shudder.

I can’t even begin to say how deeply this book affected me. I had honestly no idea how hard this book was going to hit me. Although, going off the description, I knew it was going to be a difficult read. I will say that a lot of the content, particularly the descriptions of the rape, is extremely difficult to get through. If you’re somebody who finds it painful to It’s awful to think how some of the women thought they had no choice but to obey the men of their community - the same men who have drugged and raped them and their daughters - because they have no options or even education. My heart ached for them and for the women who went through the real experience years ago.

If you’ve been on the fence about getting this book, here’s your sign: go buy it. It’s well worth the read and will definitely get your mind running. It’s interesting (and scary) to try to put yourself in their shoes while you read. What would you do if it were you in their place?

Felicia x

2018 Favourites

Hello everybody!!

As we’ve recently entered a new year, I thought that now would be the perfect time to look back on the last one and reflect on some of my favourite things from 2018! Although in the grand scheme of things 2018 wasn’t my favourite year, it was a really great year for entertainment and beauty products for me. I discovered a bunch of new things that I absolutely love which I can’t wait to share with all of you.

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BOOKS

1) “The Alice Network” by Kate Quinn - This book was crazy good!! I didn’t know I needed a book about female war spies until I read this book and it only left me longing for more. [FULL REVIEW]

2) “Beartown” by Fredrik Backman - As this was the last book I read in 2018, I don’t have a full review up for it yet. But trust me when I say that this book is FANTASTIC. In fact, it may just be the best book I read in the whole year. [FULL REVIEW]

3) “My Lady Jane” by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows - I was a bit iffy about this one, but I ended up absolutely adoring it. It was a completely fictional retelling of the history of Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Days’ Queen. The fantasy elements were both tasteful and hilariously impractical at the same time. [FULL REVIEW]

4) “Under Rose-Tainted Skies” by Louise Gornall - Prior to reading this, I’d never come across a book that I connected to in regards to mental illness. But this one captured anxiety, and mental illness in general, in such a relatable and comforting way. I saw a lot of both my teenage and adult self in the main character, Norah. I really hope that other teens can read this novel and feel like they aren’t alone in the world! [FULL REVIEW]

5) “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell - I loooove Rainbow Rowell, and Fangirl perhaps only reinforced my love for her writing. This is easily my favourite of Rowell’s novels. I love how she represented fandoms and also encouraged aspiring authors to write fan fiction, as it’s such a great creative outlet! [FULL REVIEW]

6) “All We Ever Wanted” by Emily Giffin - Woww this book was insane. It took on such a powerful, contemporary issue. I really hadn’t expected to be as impacted by this novel as I was after reading it!! [FULL REVIEW]

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TV SHOWS

1) The Crown - Technically not a 2018 TV show, but this is one I binged - and loved - this year! I tried to watch The Crown for the first time in 2016 but never really got into it. When I tried to watch it again this year, I absolutely fell for it. Can’t wait for the new season to come out this year!

2) This Is Us - I feel like a lot of people can agree with me on this one. This Is Us seems like it’s stolen everyone’s hearts these past few years. It’s honestly such a heartwarming family drama - and we all know how I feel about family dramas!!

3) Big Little Lies - Again, this one didn’t come out in 2018. I read the book last year around the time that the show came out but I don’t have HBO so I had to wait for it to come out on dvd. FINALLY I got to watch this in the summer and oh my god I loved it so much!!!

FILMS

1) Love Simon - Is it possible for a movie to simultaneously warm and break your heart?? Cause this one sure had that effect on me. Personally I think this movie was long overdue, but I really hope that now this one’s come out, it’ll pave way for more LGBTQ films in the future!

2) Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again - I’ve literally waited ten years for another Mamma Mia film and I’m sooo happy that it finally came out. This movie was everything I wanted - comedy, amazing music, strong female characters, and a fabulous storyline!

3) Bohemian Rhapsody - Ohhh my gosh. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of a film about Freddie Mercury, and Bohemian Rhapsody surely did not disappoint. Rami Malek did such an excellent job as Freddie, I was truly blown away!

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MUSIC

1) Hamilton - Many of you probably already know that I’m 100% obsessed with the musical, Hamilton. Like OBSESSED. And have been for like three years. But this year, my obsession only strengthened because I found out that the musical is coming to Toronto in 2019!! So exciting!!

2) Shawn Mendes - Shawn Mendes released his third album this past May and I loved it. He’s one of my favourite artists, everything he puts out immediately grips my heart. I just love him. I think my favourite song on this album has to be Lost in Japan. Sooooo good. Can’t wait to see him live in concert this year!

3) 70s Music (Fleetwood Mac) - This past year, I got very into 70s music. I’m into old music as it is, but before I primarily stuck to 80s, 90s, and country music from the 60s (weird I know). But aside from my already steadfast love of Queen and ABBA, I decided to broaden my horizons a bit this year and got really into Fleetwood Mac, Elton John and Dolly Parton - all of whom I liked before, but now I totally love!!

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BEAUTY

1) E.l.f. Cosmetics Eyebrow Duo Kit - This has been one of my favourite beauty products for quite a few years, but I always have to mention it anyway. Considering how much I use eyebrow products, I can’t justify buying really expensive ones. But this is definitely the best drugstore brand eyebrow product I’ve come across!

2) Rimmel London Wonder Lash Mascara - I’ve been straight up obsessed with this mascara since I picked it up on a whim during the summer. It makes my lashes soooo bloody long and thick oh my goodness. I think the argan oil infusion really does a lot to help.

3) Too Faced Peach Blur Translucent Smoothing Finishing Powder - I was gifted this for Christmas last year and absolutely loved it.

4) Too Faced Just Peachy Mattes Palette - I picked this up this summer and am completely in love with it. I’ve been very into orange-y shades in 2018 (and into 2019 as well), so this was completely perfect for me!!

5) Colourpop Lippie Stix - The Colourpop lippie stix have basically been my go-to for lip colour in 2018. I love these so so so much. They’re perfect, long-lasting matte lipsticks and they come in soo many different gorgeous shades. The majority of the ones I have are dark reds or mauves lol.

What were your favourites of 2018?

Felicia x

Review: Beartown - Fredrik Backman

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“Everyone has a thousand wishes before a tragedy, but just one afterward.”

My Rating: ★★★★★

Genre(s): Fiction, Contemporary

Reading Challenge: 37 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

My Thoughts —

It’s not very often that I give a book a 5-star review. I’m the type of person who can be a tad too generous with throwing around 5-stars, even if a book doesn’t fully deserve it, so I try to be a bit more critical and put more thought into my ratings these days. That being said, Beartown deserved every point on each and every one of these five stars - and more.

It’s pretty funny, in hindsight, how much I loved this book because when I bought it, I had the wrong idea about what it’s about. Like completely wrong. I thought it was just a feel-good novel about a small town that rallies together to help their local hockey team with the championship game. Yes, there’s a hockey team. Yes, they’re from a small town, that does support them fully. But that’s where the similarities end. There’s so much more of a complex storyline to this book that I couldn’t even begin to describe without giving away all the suspenseful bits that made it so enjoyable to read.

The writing is what initially gripped me. Fredrik Backman knows what he’s doing, that’s for certain. The first few pages completely engulfed me in intrigue and excitement. I wanted to know what would happen. I wanted to devour this book in a day. Unfortunately, it took me a month to read because of finals and Christmas events. I was constantly itching to get back to reading this novel. Apparently, it wasn’t even originally written in English. That just blows me away. Not a lot of novels translate well, but this one definitely did.

Honestly, if I were to only recommend one book that I read in 2018, it would be Beartown.

Have you read Beartown? Did you love it as much as I did?

Felicia x

Christmas 2018 Travel Diary: A Practically Perfect Day

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Hello friends!

Today I’m talking about one of my favourite days of the trip, and that is the day that we saw Mary Poppins Returns!! I’ve been dying to see this film ever since I heard it was being made and it’s been absolute agony waiting so long to see it. But finally, the day came along (thank god).

We went down to Disney Springs to see Mary Poppins Returns at the AMC Dine-In Theatre. The Dine-In Theatre is my absolute fave way to see films, as you get super comfy reclining seats and you can order dinner, desserts and/or sweets, which you can put on the table in front of you. Sooo comfortable and relaxing. If you live in the Orlando area or you’ve got a couple extra days on your next Disney vacation, I’d highly recommend seeing a film there!! For the film, I ordered the chicken quesadillas which were the HARDEST thing to eat in the dark lmao did not think that one through. But it did come with tortilla chips which were nice to snack on!

As for Mary Poppins Returns, I loved it!!! It was so visually beautiful and really reminiscent of the old Disney films. I thought Emily Blunt was a fabulous Mary Poppins, although she was no Julie Andrews obviously but I didn’t go into it expecting her to be which helped!! And, of course, Lin-Manuel Miranda, my love, my light, was fantastic!!! The choreography and music was absolutely phenomenal, and the whole thing warmed my heart entirely!

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After the movie, the fun wasn’t over!! We headed right on over to the Marketplace on the opposite side of Disney Springs to walk the Christmas Tree Trail! This is one of our Christmas traditions that we absolutely had to fit in before leaving Orlando. Before we headed into the trail, I had to stop at Starbucks and grab a Peppermint Mocha Frappucino to really get into the festive spirit (duh).

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We’ve been walking the tree trail ever since it was created three years ago and it’s honestly grown so much since the very first year. There are dozens of beautiful trees themed to different Disney films. Of course, I won’t overfill my post with pictures of the trees but I have included some of my favourites, including the gorgeous Haunted Mansion tree they added this year!! In the trail, they had a stand where you could buy cotton candy that tastes like candy cane or gingerbread which is crazy, and they also had the beloved Disney snoap and Christmas tunes throughout!! Soooo much fun.

I’d absolutely recommend checking out the Christmas Tree Trail on your next Christmas vacation - it is so much fun!!

Felicia x

Christmas 2018 Travel Diary: Bright Lights in Hollywoodland

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Welcome back!! Today’s post is going to be pretty long and very photo heavy, so get cozy!

There’s something so aesthetically pleasing to me about Hollywood Studios. Although it may not be my favourite park, I can definitely appreciate the overall theming of the park, especially the front entrance. I could stand on Hollywood Boulevard for hours and just take a million pictures to be honest. So for me, half the fun of visiting Hollywood Studios during the holidays is capturing every inch of beautiful decor throughout the park!

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We happened to accidentally time our arrival at the park perfectly with the March of the First Order (this was partially due to the fact that my Magicband, as usual, refused to cooperate at park entry and we spent about 10 minutes sorting that out lol). It was pretty cool as we got to stand right at the start of Hollywood Boulevard and get a great view of Captain Phasma leading the Stormtroopers down the street towards the stage!!

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My dad had a Fastpass right off the bat for Tower of Terror which is something I absolutely do not ride haha so while he did that, the remainder of our group spent some time checking out the shops and, of course, taking more pictures of the park duh. I’m just in complete awe of how beautiful this park is you guys!!!

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I think that the holiday decor additions that they’ve made at Hollywood Studios in the past few years have been really great! Especially around Echo Lake. The tree in the middle of the lake, the floating ornaments, and Gertie’s adorable Santa hat really add a special something to the park!! We also got in our first viewing of the Sunset Seasons Greetings show on Sunset Boulevard, which premiered only last year. We wanted to see it last year but ended up missing it because the weather was absolutely rotten lol. Fortunately, this year was much, much warmer! Sunset Seasons Greetings is a projection show off of Tower of Terror. It’s pretty short but super cute and runs intermittently throughout the night.

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One of the things I was most excited for at Hollywood Studios was the holiday additions to the new Toy Story Land!! As you probably know already, Toy Story Land opened this past summer (which you can read about here). When I heard there was going to be a Christmas overlay to the area, I was soo excited to see what they were going to cook up. Although we only got to ride Toy Story Mania, which is the only ride without any special additions (lol), we did get to see all the extremely cute decorations - JUST LOOK AT REX’S ANTLERS AWEE!!! They also added a Christmas themed soundtrack to the Aliens Swirling Saucers ride and a cute little jingle noise to the Slinky Dog Dash as it rolls by which I thought was an extremely adorable effect.

Lastly, we stayed in the park to see Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!, which is the nightly holiday fireworks show. It was a really cute show, but I couldn’t get any pictures as you have to be extremely close to the Chinese Theatre to see the full effect of the fireworks, which we were not. Regardless, it was a fun time! I was a bit annoyed though because I had my heart set on having a coffee during the show but Starbucks was closed!! Apparently Starbucks closed along with the park at 8pm and the show wasn’t until 8:30pm… No clue why they would close the park half an hour before the fireworks lol but it was pretty disappointing!!

All in all, it was a super fun day at Hollywood Studios! Check back in soon for my next post of the trip! :)

Felicia x

Christmas 2018 Travel Diary: Travelling the World Showcase

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By now, I’m sure you guys know how much I love Epcot. If not, here’s the gist: I love Epcot with my whole heart, I want to live there forever, there’s no greater sight than that beautiful ball lit up at night. Got it? Cool.

Last year, due to my anxiety, I wasn’t able to make it to Epcot (cue tears) but thankfully this year I’m feeling better than ever which meant is was Epcot time for me!!!

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We were extremely lucky as we managed to get fairly last minute reservations at Les Chefs de France, my fav restaurant in Epcot (maybe even in all of Walt Disney World??). So as soon as we walked through the park gates, we hightailed it on over to the restaurant and we were very quickly seated. Obviously, I ordered the Boeuf Bourguignon which is the tastiest meal. And I even got to see my fav waiter who served my boyfriend and I when we went in August!! If you’re ever dining at Les Chefs de France and you’re served by Kevin, you’re in for a treat - he’s the sweetest EVER.

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After dinner, we went on one of my fav rides, Frozen Ever After, and then took a stroll around the World Showcase to see all the beautiful holiday decorations. Epcot is so interesting during the Festival of the Holidays, their special holiday celebration where each country pavilion showcases their own cultural way of celebrating! Each pavilion is decorated so beautifully for the season, it’s such a sight to take in! I highly recommend strolling around and peeking into every pavilion - you won’t regret it.

After we walked the entire pavilion, we - of course - went to Mouse Gears, one of the best Disney shops. And then grabbed a Starbucks for the journey home. I actually managed to grab a Peppermint Mocha Frappucino, which I’d never had before but I’ve tried when my boyfriend has ordered. I LOVED it. So festive and delicious! I wish the holidays weren’t over so I could have another haha.

See you in a couple days for the next day of my travel diary!

Felicia x

Christmas 2018 Travel Diary: Celebrating in the Magic Kingdom

Welcome back, my darlings!

If you haven’t already read my first travel diary post, give that a read here first!

I truly believe that the most magical place to be at Christmas time is the Magic Kingdom. Everything is just so enchanting there during the holidays! Not a single piece of Main Street isn’t adorned with beautiful wreaths or garland, and there’s just a really homey feeling in Town Square. If I could live on Main Street throughout the month of December, I’d be the happiest gal out there!

So, it goes without saying that my favourite day of our Christmas trip is always the day that we go to check out the Magic Kingdom festivities!

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The very first thing we did when we arrived at the park was, of course, take in the beautiful sights. I got a million pictures of all the decorations, but I think my favourite is of the Fire Station! Everything is so beautiful at Christmas, I wish they could keep the decorations up year-round (except for at Halloween time, of course). We also took a little dip into the Main Street Emporium shop. They have sooo many new items in stock and I wanted to buy it all!! My dad ended up buying me the Mickey’s 90th Birthday ears which was extremely exciting because I didn’t expect them to still be available.

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Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime parade has always held a very special place in my heart and I’m so grateful that we got to see it this year!! There have been a couple years that we’ve had to miss it, so I made sure that we specifically planned to be at the park in time to see it go by this year. The parade is so fun and cute. My absolute favourite part is when the toy soldiers march by. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve just always loved seeing them go by in formation! It’s just so cool to me. And I especially love seeing Belle dressed up in her gorgeous Christmas dress! There’s not a year that goes by that I don’t wish I had that dress haha

“meet me under the mistletoe” shirt - shopdisney (old); christmas ears -  shopdisney

“meet me under the mistletoe” shirt - shopdisney (old); christmas ears - shopdisney

During Christmas time, the parks can get extremely busy. It’s one of the busiest times to visit, along with July 4th and Thanksgiving. For someone with anxiety, that can mean it gets pretty hectic, especially when waiting in queues upwards of 120 mins. So I prefer to just stroll around the Magic Kingdom, take my time in letting it all soak in, instead of rushing from ride to ride. We did get a couple of Fastpasses, including ones for Big Thunder Mountain and Haunted Mansion - two of my faves and pretty impressive scores considering their popularity! But aside from that, we just wandered and took in the sights. Personally, I found that much better than doing all the rides. As I have an annual pass, I can come at any time of the year and do rides. But during Christmas time, I’d prefer to see the decorations and relax.

If you haven’t ever been on Jungle Cruise during the holidays, then definitely add it to your bucket list because it is SO FUN! I already love Jungle Cruise enough on its own… But add a Christmas overlay to the ride and my love can only grow! The “Jingle Cruise” overlay adds a ton of festive decorations throughout the ride, as well as a bunch of Christmas-themed jokes told to you by the beloved Skippers. This classic ride is a must-do for me during the holiday season, so I always make sure to grab a Fastpass for this one as the queue can get quite long during the holidays (as do most ride queues during this time!).

Last, but certainly not least, we obviously had to see the Frozen Holiday Wish, where Elsa lights up Cinderella’s Castle with her magic ice powers!! The Dream Lights are the most beautiful thing in the park during the holidays. I’m always in awe whenever I see the castle lit up in shades of blue, pink, and white, no matter how many times I’ve seen it before. The show itself is also extremely cute, especially if you’re a Frozen fan like myself!

We decided to head out of the park shortly after the show (as my boyfriend was battling a cold) so it was the perfect way to end the perfect day!

Thanks so much for reading!

Felicia x

2019 Goals

Hello my friends… Happy New Year! Welcome to 2019. The last year of the decade. I can hardly believe that it’s nearly the 2020s. It even looks wrong to type.

Last year, I wrote up a post about the things that I wanted to accomplish in 2018; goals that I was going to try my best to stick to as the year went on. I’ve never liked the term “New Year’s Resolutions” because I feel like it’s so heavy with negative connotations. Most times, we hold ourselves to extremely unrealistic resolutions and when we aren’t successful, we end up feeling so down on ourselves. But I do like the idea of setting goals and trying to achieve them. Goals are more flexible than resolutions, in that resolutions feel more like something you have to be working on every single day, whereas goals are more long-term.

So, without further ado, here are my 2019 goals!

Read 35 Books

Sooo this past year, I set myself a goal of reading 50 books… Unfortunately, I didn’t make it. Not even close haha. I ended up reading about 37 books - which is still a lot, don’t get me wrong!! I definitely learned a lot about time management this year. And with my anxiety so bad at certain points throughout the year, I often lost my drive to pick up a book and read. But this year will definitely be better, in that sense. Instead of holding myself to another unattainable goal, I’m going to try to read 35 books in 2019.

Do More Things That Scare Me

At the start of 2018, my anxiety held me back from doing a lot. In fact, for the past 6 years, it’s been holding me back. But by the end of the year, I finally started to get control over my life again. Now that I have more confidence and less anxiety, I definitely want to try to push myself to do more things that scare me, things that I usually avoided doing because of my anxiety. One of those things is going back on a cruise. The last cruise I went on a few years back was horrible because of my anxiety, but we have another one booked this year and I’m excited to step out of my comfort zone!

Be More Outspoken - In Life and Online

A side effect of my anxiety, one that has really bothered me for a long time, is the fact that my shyness causes me to censor everything I say. I’m always afraid of going against the grain, or opposing someone else’s thoughts, so I tend to just agree with other people or not speak out about my thoughts/opinions just to keep the peace. Which is so unhealthy and just downright annoying. In the New Year, I definitely want to make a change in that. I’d love to be more open, not only in the “real world” but online as well.

Self-Care, Self-Care, Self-Care

It took me about 19 years to realize that self-care is important. And I know that sounds ridiculous, but think about it. How often do you put yourself first? I spent years and years putting people before me, at the expense of my own self-health. This past year, I really started to focus on myself. Being healthier, taking care of my skin, making decisions that weren’t only benefitting people around me. There’s a million small things you can do to improve your own self-health! I’m definitely going to make a conscious effort to continue to care for myself in 2019.

Start Vlogging

This is something I tell myself that I’m going to do every. single. year. And I never do it. But this year, I’ve decided, is different. Before, I stopped myself from branching out into the Youtube world with vlogs because my mind and anxiety always acted against me. It’s hard to put yourself out on the Internet like that. Blogging is different; I know how to write and it’s comfortable. But I can’t forget my 2nd goal: stepping out of my comfort zone! I’m going to be doing a ton of exciting things this year and I’d love to share them all with my followers through a different format than just written posts.

~ What are your 2019 goals? ~

Felicia x

2018: A Year in Review

Can you believe that it’s almost 2019?! We’re just hours away by now and it’s completely blowing my mind. It will never not be weird to me how we an go from being in one year to being in the next in just the blink of an eye. Crazy stuff!!

For my last post of 2018, I thought I’d finish off with a review of my favourite memories of 2018! A lot has happened this past year… In some ways, it’s been simultaneously a not-so-great and a great year. But no matter what, I think it’s always good to look back on the past year and see what you’ve accomplished!

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JANUARY

Happy New Year!! We started our year off with a bit of a blip, as we had a near-crisis where we thought that there was a gas leak in our house/garage. We called the fire dept and stood outside for over an hour, just to find out it was a false alarm! Shortly afterwards was one of my favourite memories of 2018 however, as it was when I got my first car!! I’m sure you’ve heard this all before, but in case you haven’t, it’s a used grey Kia Soul which I call Maggie (obvs, after Maggie Smith).

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FEBRUARY

In late January/early February, my mum and I snuck away for a ~super secret~ girls trip to Orlando. At the time, no one outside my family knew that I wasn’t in uni so we kept it very discreet. Our trip was soo much fun and it was really cool seeing the Festival of the Arts at Epcot, as I’d never seen that before!! Also in February, Steven turned 20 which was really really exciting!

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MARCH

Please look at this adorable picture of my pup sleeping in front of a fireplace omg. March was spent putting major work into my blog as this was around the time that I decided I wanted to take blogging more seriously. I was looking into different hosts, weighing out my options, and was starting to delve into social media more! This was also the month that my boyfriend bought his very first car!

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APRIL

April, things were starting to warm up (slowly, but surely). My boyfriend and I headed to our uni for an end of year celebration with our really good friends, who I hadn’t seen in ages because I hadn’t been in school. It was such a great time - albeit a tad freezing!! (This is such a bad photo I KNOW)

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MAY

As school was over for my boyfriend in late April and we had a month to spare before I left for Florida, we decided to spend some time exploring the south-western area of Ontario where my town is. We visited Ancaster, Port Dover, and Niagara-on-the-Lake. It was so much fun and I absolutely recommend acting like a tourist in your own town because you won’t know what you’re missing until you do!

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JUNE

June is when my family and I left for our summer trip to Orlando. Although I was still having a hard time with my anxiety in the summer, June was a lot of fun and we got to do quite a few things. My mum celebrated her birthday at the end of the month and we all had dinner at Be Our Guest to celebrate!

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JULY

The month started off with a road trip down to Orlando with my mum. I’ve never been huge on long-haul drives but we did get to go through Tennessee which is my fav state and it was as beautiful as ever! We also celebrated my dad’s birthday and my boyfriend came down to visit - I was so happy to see him, and the four of us go to see my beloved Sam Smith in concert (he was incredible, that man’s got TALENT).

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AUGUST

In August, my boyfriend, parents, and I went on a staycation to Walt Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter! We had such an amazing time and for the first time in a while, my anxiety was actually at a manageable level so that made the whole trip that much more enjoyable. I also celebrated my 20th birthday in Disney! You can read all about that vacation here.

SEPTEMBER

September marked one of the momentous events of the year: my big return to university. I was so nervous to go back to school, but luckily the transition went quite smoothly! If you haven’t heard about my decision to take a year off university, you can read about that here. My boyfriend and I also celebrated our five-year anniversary, for which he gifted me a beautiful Belle promise ring!

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OCTOBER

October brought one of my favourite of our annual traditions and that is our trip to Disney where we do the Food & Wine Festival and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!! These are two of my all-time favourite events in Disney World and I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to spend them with my boyfriend these last few years. This year, we dressed up as Mary Poppins and Bert in honour of Mary Poppins Returns coming out this year!

NOVEMBER

November signalled the beginning of stressful/busy times. Fortunately, at the end of the month, we did get to do some of our favourite Christmas traditions like our town’s Light Up Night (which Steven sadly wasn’t able to attend) and Santa Claus Parade. Mostly, we spent the month preparing for the upcoming exam season which was especially stressful for me this year as a) it was the first time I’d be writing exams since spring 2017 and b) it was my first time studying for exams whilst living with my boyfriend, which makes for a very different study atmosphere.

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DECEMBER

December has been the busiest month of all this year. We made a few trips out to Mississauga to visit Steven’s family, hosted my family’s annual Christmas party, wrote exams (I had two; Steven had four), and tried to keep ourselves sane with the mix of school pressure and upcoming holiday season. It was also the most triumphant month for my anxiety as I was told by my therapist that we would start cutting back on my appointments and I also did a number of anxiety-inducing things that went really really well!!


This year, ultimately, started off really crappy, but ended up turning into a really successful second-half of the year. Although I had a rough time, I proved to myself that with a bit of help I could overcome all my struggles and actually find what I wanted from life and how to get it, which was so so important. Hopefully, next year will all around be a better year than 2018 and I’m really looking forward to seeing what it has in store for me!

Felicia x

Christmas 2018 Travel Diary: Resort Hopping & Disney Springs

Hello friends! Merry belated Christmas.

If you haven’t been following along with my Instagram stories (shameless plug rn, follow me at @bookishbrunettegal) then you may not know that I’m currently away in Orlando on my annual Christmas family vacation! Our Christmas vacation is one of my favourite trips of the year. It’s full of festivities, and magic, and beautiful lights! So, I thought I’d bring you all along with me on my trip with some travel diaries! Starting off with our very first day on the trip, December 26.

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Our vacation was set in motion by one of my favourite new traditions, the Boxing Day brunch. For the past two years, we’ve had brunch on our first day at the Grand Floridian Cafe, which you probably know is my favourite brunch on Disney World property. This year, we got to sit out on the patio which probably because of how massively packed the restaurant was. Our reservation was at noon but still there were plenty of people waiting to be seated. Having our meal outside was sooo nice. The weather was absolutely lovely and we had such an amazing time. As usual, I ordered the traditional eggs benedict with a cup of coffee and it was delicious!!

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After brunch, we embarked on another one of our beloved Christmas traditions: the monorail resort hop. On Boxing Day, we love to go around to all the monorail resorts and check out their Christmas decorations, starting at the Grand Floridian. I already adore the Grand Floridian. But I love it even more at Christmas time. The decorations are so beautiful and delicate. They have a number of Christmas trees, including their massive showstopper on the main floor of the lobby, and of course, their famous Gingerbread House. This year, I actually remembered to buy a gingerbread shingle which you can actually buy at the counter inside the Gingerbread House. Unfortunately though, the line at the Grand Floridian was huge so I got my shingle at the Contemporary Resort later on in the hop - which is a good tip for anyone who doesn’t want to wait in a massive queue!

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Our next stop on the monorail journey was the Contemporary Resort. The Contemporary, unfortunately, isn’t a huge stop for decorations because of the monorail track through the middle of the resort. There is a huge tree outside of the resort by the road, but you basically have to stand in traffic to see it. So that’s not really an option. They do, however, have a really cute gingerbread set-up based on the Cinderella characters in the lobby. This is where you can buy a bunch of festive treats, like the gingerbread shingle!! Definitely a good alternative to the Grand Floridian shop in my opinion. You can also go through the number of gift shops at the Contemporary while you’re there which is always a fun time!

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Lastly on our resort hop was the Polynesian Resort! I loooove the Polynesian. It’s so pretty and tropical, and like the Grand Floridian, has a ton of trees of different sizes throughout the lobby. Idk I just think the Polynesian looks extremely cute dressed up in her Christmas decor!! My mum also loves visiting the Polynesian because it means rooting about the gift shops for Lilo merchandise. Why is it that there’s always Stitch merch but never Lilo?! So disrespectful. A neat fact about the Polynesian is that it is one of the places on WDW property that sells Dole Whip!! If you’ve ever waited in line for Dole Whip in Magic Kingdom, you know how long it can take as so many people are always queued up at Aloha Isle. But at the Polynesian, there’s usually a minimal line! Just pop on over to the Pineapple Lanai. Enjoy your treat!!

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After we finished our grand tour of the monorail resorts, we headed on over to Disney Springs for a little bit of shopping. As I hadn’t been to the parks since October, I missed the opening of the new reimagined World of Disney shop so I was extremely excited to check that out! What did you guys think of the new World of Disney? Personally, I miss the old character-heavy design, but I think that the renovation has made it a lot more roomy and open, which makes it a lot more manageable during the heavy season (like Christmas time!). Luckily, I found the Christmas spirit jersey there which I was sooo happy about because I hadn’t seen it anywhere on our resort hop. We popped into a few other shops, namely Zara and my absolute fav, Uniqlo where I bought the most beautiful, cozy sweater EVER!!

Afterwards, we went home and ordered some pizza. It had been a long day, especially after a pretty gruesome travel on Christmas Day. So, that’s all for our first day! I’ll pop back in soon to share our other adventures in another travel diary post!

What did you guys get up to on Boxing Day?

Felicia x

Blogmas 2018 Day Fifteen: My Favourite Vlogmas YouTubers

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Hello friends, welcome back!

I find that Youtube is a great place to really get into the festive spirit this time of year. So many Youtubers take part in Vlogmas (the Youtube equivalent of Blogmas) or just post holiday-themed videos throughout the month of December. As I’ve likely mentioned before, I like to watch Youtube videos while I’m getting ready in the morning and lately, it’s been really lovely to put on a Christmassy video instead. As this season rolled around, a lot of the Youtubers I regularly watch have switched into Vlogmas but I’ve also been introduced to new Youtubers as well because of their Vlogmas posts which is very cool!! So today I thought I’d share with you guys who and what I’ve been watching this past month.

AbigailsCupofTea [x]

I’ve only very recently discovered Abigail’s videos but I’m so glad that I did! She is honestly just a ray of sunshine and you can’t not be put in a good mood by watching her videos. In her most recent videos, she’s visited Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World and I’ve loved watching her vlogs, seeing her really take in the parks. She’s a huge Harry Potter fan (and a Hufflepuff, like me!) and you can tell that she genuinely loves the magic of the world!!

AcaciaCutie [x]

I’ve been following Acacia for a couple years now, since before she got pregnant with her first daughter, Brinley. Her family is so cute and so sweet. This year, they’re doing a Blogmas called “Kersmas” because their last name is Kersey (adorable, right??) Their videos are very casual and often have to do with family life or relationships. Acacia is also incredible at home decorating. Her husband renovated a trailer which they now live in and it’s honestly beautiful, so def check out their interior design videos!!

TheTimTracker [x]

I absolutely love Tim Tracker’s videos!!! His videos are primarily about Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando and other fun things in the central Florida area. I love watching his videos for the latest scoop on new rides, attractions or merch at the theme parks when I can’t be there to experience it for myself. Him and his wife are so dorky but in a really funny and cute way, I love watching them so much! Lately, they’ve been focusing on Christmas and winter themed attractions which has been especially cool to watch during the holiday season!

Zoella [x]

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Zoella, the Youtuber who originally introduced me to the concept of both Blogmas and Vlogmas!! I’ve been watching her Vlogmas videos for years and years now, and they’re always a good time. I love to see her beautiful house all decorated, as she’s a really talented interior decorator. She also throws beautiful Christmas parties which are incredible to see!!

What’s your favourite Vlogmas YouTuber?

Felicia x

To view a list of all my Blogmas posts, click here.

Blogmas 2018 Day Fourteen: My Favourite Holiday Red Lipsticks

Hi darlings!

Christmas is the perfect time for a red lip. In fact, is wearing any other shade of lipstick at Christmas even acceptable?? JK but no seriously, red lips are iconic during this time of the year. Red is one of my favourite colours so I take full advantage of sporting red lips during this season. I own about a dozen different* shades of red (* my boyfriend will tell you they’re all the same shade but they’re not *eye roll*). But today, I’m sharing with you guys four of my ultimate favourite shades and luckily, they are all drugstore brand/inexpensive! Us cheap gals need to stick together and help each other out, am I right??

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Revlon Ultra HD Matte LipColor in Love

This first one has been a staple in my makeup collection since probably my senior year of high school. It’s what I like to call a “fruity” red aka it’s a brighter, more fun shade of red than some of the others in my repertoire. It does give off a bit of a shine, so it’s not fully matte as they claim. And it’s a liquid lipstick which gives it a bonus point in my books however it is one that needs to be blotted a lot once applied as it produces a ton of excess product and is quite transferable. Something to be mindful of. Regardless of that, it stays put for quite some time and I think you could easily get through a night with only one or two freshen-ups. The nice thing is that it’s not at all drying, so if you apply a couple layers, it won’t make your lips disgusting (we’ve all been there…)

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ColourPop Lippie Stix in Love Life

I only purchased this lipstick this year but I absolutely knew almost right away that it would become a Christmas season favourite for me. I’m a huge fan of Colourpop’s lipsticks - both liquid and not - and these lippie stixs are wonderful. They’re so easy to apply and it’s hard to make a mess, as the product doesn’t easily smudge during application. Love Life is a beautiful matte lipstick which is described by the website as a “brownish brick red” which I think completely does it justice. I will say, when I was applying this the other night, a piece of it did fall off while I was pressing it (gently) to my lip soooo that was a bummer. Be very careful with this one!!

E.l.f. Cosmetics Matte Lip Colour in Wine

This is a very similar product to the ColourPop Lippie Stix… In fact, now that I’ve got a good look at both, the packaging looks eerily similar… Anyway, it’s the same concept as the Lippie Stix with a twist-up (plus there’s a hidden sharpener at the bottom of the tube!). In comparison to the Lippie Stix, however, this one is quite drying so I apply it sparingly and try not to reapply as often. It’s a full-coverage matte (do you think I have a type?) and it’s really a gorgeous maroon colour. I think of all of these, this shade suits my skin tone best. It’s really really lovely and SO inexpensive. I think it was about $3 or $4..

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NYX Liquid Suede in Kitten Heels

This will always and forever be my FAVOURITE red lipstick. This is actually my second tube because I completely misplaced my first one… Oops. I remember when the NYX store opened up in Mississauga and I dragged my bf out to the mall to grab my first ever tube of this lipstick in this shade, because every girl was talking about it, and it was completely sold out. For good reason, too. This is a sort-of-matte lipstick. I say sort of because it is very glossy when you first apply it but if you blot it a LOT, it comes out to a much thinner layer that’s still full coverage and quite matte. That’s the way I wear it because I really hate glossy slimy lipstick. It’s such a beautiful bright red shade and festive AF in my opinion!!

What’s your all-time fav holiday red lipstick?

Felicia x

To view a list of all my Blogmas posts, click here.

Blogmas 2018 Day Thirteen: Our Disney Christmas Tree

It’s probably no surprise to any of you that my favourite of our Christmas trees is the Disney tree. How could it not be?! We’ve spent so many years slowly building up the collection of Disney ornaments and last year, for the first time ever, we gave our Disney love a special place in our home. So today I thought I’d just chat a bit about our Disney tree, how we got all our ornaments, how we decorate the tree, etc. etc.

So our Disney tree is a regular sized, probably 7’ tall fake Christmas tree (for future ref, all our trees are fake! we’ve never had a real one!). At least 90% of the ornaments on our tree came from the parks at Walt Disney World and a few came from the Disney store which we just collected over the years. Like, I’m talking some of those date back to the very early 2000s.

Our Christmas topper and tree skirt are both from (I believe) the Disney store. They were from last year’s line of Christmas decorations and we absolutely love them both! Unfortunately, the topper - which has a battery pack to control the lights inside the decoration - is very dimly lit so you can hardly tell that it’s lit up sometimes. But other than that, it’s an extremely cute decoration!

We have a ton of different ornaments on our tree. Like, a ton. I think we might have started collecting ornaments back in 2012 or 2013, when we first started visiting the parks during the holidays. Before, they just went on our regular Christmas tree (at the time, we only had the one). Obviously, since the ornaments can fill their very own tree, you can probably tell that we’ve collected way more in the past couple years than we had ever intended to!!

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We have all four park ornaments (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios) as well as the WDW main gates ornament. Fortunately, we picked them all up last year before they changed them!! I’m not a huge fan of the new park ornaments AT ALL. For Disney ornaments, they look quite cheaply made in my opinion and just don’t go with the look of the rest of our tree. The old ones, which we have, are quite sturdy and multi-dimensional which is really really nice.

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Of course, I’ve also got ornaments for all my favourite Disney characters!! I’ve got quite a few ornaments of Belle, the other Beauty & the Beast characters, Rapunzel, Peter Pan, Princess Anna, and Olaf. I also very recently was gifted a Mary Poppins Jolly Holiday ornament (with the penguins!!!) from my boyfriend’s parents which is BEAUTIFUL and I am so so grateful to them for that!! Also, fun fact: in the Jolly Holiday scene, the penguins say my name to Bert!!! So, that scene is very near and dear to my heart, obviously.

We also have a couple ornaments dedicated to our beloved defunct Disney World attractions. As you may know, the last couple years have lost us quite a few long-standing Disney attractions and traditions such as Wishes and the Great Movie Ride - which are some of my favourites. Now I have the ornaments to commemorate those wonderful memories forever!!

If you’re thinking of building your own Disney Christmas tree, it’s not so difficult! Granted, it is quite expensive. Each ornament costs about $20 but sometimes much more, depending on how intricate or special the ornament is. However, Disney will often have sales like BOGO on their ornaments throughout the year, so make sure you look out for and take advantage of those! If you want to get your ornaments from the parks, you can absolutely do that!! I believe they have a Christmas shop in every Disney World park (maybe not Animal Kingdom… not too sure on that one) and one at Disney Springs as well. My favourite Christmas shop however is at Magic Kingdom, in the Liberty Square land. It’s sosososo cute and has a ton of ornament and decoration options. During other holidays, it will also have decor and merch for those (i.e. Halloween) so check that out! And you can also get ornaments personalized there for an additional price, which is pretty cool!!

Honestly, I think that having a Disney tree is just the perfect way to bring some of the magic home. Plus, collecting the ornaments throughout the year has become a really fun activity for my family to do together. And every year, we get so sentimental unwrapping all our ornaments to decorate the tree which is really fun!

Do you have any Disney ornaments or a Disney tree yourself?

Felicia x

To view a list of all my Blogmas posts, click here.