Two Completely Different Weekends

I am such an awesome fiance. This weekend, Jase is off with one of his groomsmen and another friend for a long weekend boys trip to Amsterdam. I was invited too, but declined because - well, it's a boy thing. We've both been to Amsterdam together previously, and I'll be visiting later this year too - so he's off roaming free with his friends. And besides, I've already had my solo vacation where I ditched Jase and headed to Sydney for a girls trip, so it's only fair that he gets a turn. We're a good couple like that.

So in the midst of all the partying and utter Amsterdam-ness that I'm sure is going on, he still manages to be the sweetest thing on the planet. I sent him a text this morning to make sure he was still alive after his first night there, and he replied with 'Currently in a diamond shop'. To that, I immediately wrote back saying something along the lines of 'Woohoo! What a great present, thanks!' - joking, of course. And what did he write back? 'Looking for wedding bands.' (He's a man of few text-words.)

Yes, my friends, the boy went looking for wedding-related jewelery on his boys trip. My heart, it melts.

I'm using this weekend to indulge in some much-needed ME time while he's away. I finally watched The Time Traveler's Wife (wah!) and I'm revisiting the first Sex and the City movie to get into the spirit of it all. I've spent some time with the boys from Supernatural. I've gone back to the first few seasons of Grey's Anatomy.It's basically been a weekend chock full o'Denny. Love.
So in summary? We couldn't be having two more different weekends if we tried. And as much as I love wandering about that crazy Dutch city, I'm happy to be here on my own for now. Although, there are only so many conversations one can have with their cat. And the aforementioned cat wasn't particularly sympathetic when I managed to crash into the wall carrying laundry, and bent my thumbnail completely backwards. Need sympathy, pronto. And cupcakes. Please.

I hope you're having a fantastic weekend, whatever it is you're doing.

That Time I Cooked Fish

So, I'm on this quest to be healthy, to lose weight and you know, get fertile.. eventually. And as well forcing myself to visit the gym a whole lot more, I've decided to learn to cook. I bought a few cookbooks I'd read good things about - and I picked a few of the first recipes in the book, and off I went. The first recipe? Fish.

I should preface this by saying I hate seafood. Seafood including fish. The only time I'll eat fish is if it's battered and with chips, in the traditional English pub fashion. Other than that? Nope. Never. Yick. The thought of it makes me gag. The boy always makes fun of me but seriously, the thought of eating fish freaks me right out. Even just the smell of seafood. And don't even get me started on the bones inside, because that just creeps me out.

Anyway, I decided to bite the bullet and give it a go - because apparently fish is healthy (aren't most awful tasting things?) and I can't have the tastebuds of a seven year old for the rest of my life, can I? (Probably. But that's a whole other blog post. You can make fun of me later.)

So, here's a quick picture recap of my first adventure into cooking - Smoked Haddock parcels with Coconut Rice.

Ingredients. Except for the foil. You can't eat that. Or you could; it's got no calories?
This is me. With fish. I'm actually standing about a metre away from that board, trying not to puke.
As much as I dislike most vegetables, I love how they look chopped up. Colourful!
Fish buried in vegetables. And lime for flavour.
Wrapped up and all ready to bake.
And while that was baking away, I made coconut rice.
This is what the picture in the cookbook looks like.
And here's how mine turned out. 

As for the verdict? Well, my rice was pretty freaking amazing, if I may say so myself. Except, as I do, I cooked way too much of it and we ate coconut rice for the next two days, so I don't really want to eat it again soon. As for the fish? Meh. It still tasted like fish, just fish with veggies on top. It wasn't awful but it wasn't great. It wasn't even good. It was just, meh. Jase liked it, but I think I'll have to face it. I just don't do fish.

Have you got any sure-fire easy recipes that this beginner-cook can handle?

The Luckiest

Today is my lovely fiance's birthday. I've been teasing him about how OLD he is getting for the past few days now. In truth, he's hardly old, and it's hardly something to tease him about but hey, I'll take what I can get!

As well as presenting the boy with a few token presents of a new electric shaver and some clothes, I got up early to make him breakfast this morning before he headed off to work. I also wrote out little mini cards in envelopes and scattered them around our apartment and he'll have to find them all when he gets home this evening. Unfortunately I started hiding them yesterday and he managed to discover half of them already - so I spent this morning giving them all new homes. The little scavenger hunt consists of twenty eight different reasons why he is awesome. (He really is, you know. Awesome.)

If he finds them all, he'll get a secret gift - another little present bundle that he doesn't know about yet. As well as that, I'm cooking him a nice dinner, complete with a soup starter and main course. Today also saw me putting on my baking hat and making a huge mess in our kitchen as I attempted to bake red velvet cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. Unfortunately, my red velvet cupcakes turned out kind of peach-coloured. As for the cream cheese frosting? I stirred it with a spoon with red food colouring left on it, so it changed colour - and since it had already started changing, I decided to make it red too. Except, you guessed it, it didn't turn red. It turned pink. Like, super pink. He'll be getting some pretty er, manly, cupcakes with candles on top.

Sigh. Well, at least I'm trying, right? And as long as they taste good...

I love birthdays! Even when they're not my own. And especially when they are celebrating someone as kind and sweet as my boy. I can't top the present Jase organised for me last year - the surprise birthday/engagement trip to Prague - but I can do my best to try and put a smile on his face.

So, happy 28th birthday old man, and may this next year bring you so much joy.

The Grand Reveal - Our Wedding Venue!

If you've made it this far, by now you've seen a snapshot of the types of venues we considered for our wedding next June. (Squee, next June! I'll never tire of saying that.)
Looking back, I think it was a good mix. There were some classic venues, some modern venues and a few disappointments - but thanks to some good company along the way, we had fun with it. At the same time, having the whole process over and done with was a big relief, let me tell you. Literally as soon as I had been given the a-okay from Jase to go ahead and book, I was on the phone to my two winners to arrange appointments to put down the deposits and secure the date.
I've been so excited to share these with you... so here they are!
This is our church.
The one stipulation Jase had with our wedding is that it is a traditional Catholic ceremony. We are both baptised Catholics, only I am not practicing anymore - but I do like the meaning behind the vows, and I had no problem with this... as long as the church was pretty. And I found one.
It is big enough to fit our 100 guests in comfortably, but not too small that they'll be squished together. The grounds are nice and there is a little sandstone cemetery around the back that gives it a bit more character. And most importantly... it's going to look great in photographs!
If you get your angles right, you can get the whole church in one shot. When I walked in the first time, I could totally picture the wedding taking place there. I guess that's a good sign. The church is also beautiful and simple on the inside - it has gorgeous open arches throughout, the timber is light and airy and it has lovely arrangements already organised. Honestly, you could leave it exactly as is and I would be happy being married there - though I think I'm going to consider just a few simple sashes on some of the pews to give it a tiny bit more colour. We'll see!
This gorgeous picture is taken by the lovely Miss K. Love the light!
I'm not sure yet if we'll go anywhere in between for photographs, because it'll be a winter wedding and we may be hard-pressed for time. But regardless, our wedding reception venue is only a fifteen minute drive away!
Let me preface these next images by reminding you that I am not a girly girl. I don't want a pink wedding with poofy dresses and fancy flowers. But I did want a reception venue that was unique and just a little bit different.
Yes, folks. It's a castle.
Well, it isn't really a castle persay, but it IS an awesome building. It was once a private residence turned Catholic seminary and is now a function centre. It's massive and has lots of different rooms, but we will be occupying the first floor of the castle - with its private entertaining lounge, main dining room & all of the surrounding balconies, including the amazing one at the very front of the building. (Ah, the pictures... I can't wait!)
The room is NOT huge. It's cozy and comfortable and will be a very relaxed feel - so no giant central dance floor or big open spaces. The bridal table is in the middle of the room but not a big feature, so nothing too scary for Jase since he's terrified of being the centre of attention.
The dance floor is off to the side, so people don't have to feel a) intimidated by getting up and dancing or b) end up shouting over music if they choose to stay at the tables or mingle at the bar. And most importantly, our guests will have access to the balconies for fresh air all night long - so it's something a little bit different.
And did I mention it's IN A CASTLE?
Our room was setup in two different ways on our two different visits - once with chair covers & sashes and once leaving them plain. I've basically made my mind up that I want them left without, as I think it opens the space up and looks less traditional, but the option is there to choose between them at a later date. But honestly? Just like the church, I am already happy with the room, even prior to decorations being added. It has gentle roof draping and chandeliers already arranged, big classic framed mirrors on either side of the room opening up the space, and lots of natural light streaming in from all sides - it's so me. I love it. And luckily Jase had already seen this venue online before I had left; so he was happy with it as well.
As a bonus, the venue is located on gorgeous manicured grounds - there are quite a few old oak trees, gazebos and of course the sandstone structure itself to take photos alongside. Kirby took some artsy pictures while we visited; don't you think they're lovely? I can't wait to see what magic our photographer can capture on the day.
So there you have it!
We have a date. We have a church. We have a venue. We have a photographer.
And with that, we're on track for a real, actual wedding. Woo!
Now that I've got those things out the way, I'm feeling much more relaxed. Being that we're still over a year out, there isn't a lot more planning I can do yet - but I will be doing everything I can to keep busy and organised and have my homework done ready for when we move home and get this ball rolling.
We're getting married - squee!!!

Hindsight. Evil, Evil Hindsight.

A friend is crashing my blog today as a guest poster - I'm sure you'll make her feel welcome! -Aly

Writing this blog post has been very difficult. The biggest dilemma was if I should write completely honestly, including any scathing, bitter comments I've been harbouring for however long, knowing who could potentially read it - or should I play it safe? But why do that when you can go semi-anonymous?


Six months ago, I became single. I've blogged about it before. On my own blog. Someone told me I was a rockstar for how I was handling it. I'm still pretty proud of that because, yes. I DID handle it like a rockstar. I guess six months is long enough time for me to wait before really letting loose with some stuff, isn't it? Besides.. if he's still reading after six months, then clearly his x-box is being neglected and he should go give it some lovin'; those Guitar Hero songs on expert won't play themselves. I'm assuming he'll be far too busy with The Crackwhores to bother.

First, allow me to brief you on after the initial 'whattheballs?' of it all wore off, roughly 36.5 hours after it actually happened, I kind of realised how awesome it was and how it'd been a long time coming, really. I'd had doubts. Big ones. And for whatever stupid, girly reason, I didn't act on them when they first came up. Note to Self: Go with your gut. If you suspect someone is a douche, assume they're a douche and get the balls away while you still can!!

I still think being single is pretty effing amazing, actually. I pretty much love it so much I doubt I'll be rushing into any relationships again any time soon. I guess it'll happen at some point, but I'm kind of loving being unattached right now. But the fact that I had my doubts and my concerns and never acted on them? Well that just leaves me a little disappointed in myself, really.

I've been passive aggressive with this stuff before. Like that time I talked about how Glandular Fever/Mono is particularly gross because what if the guy you were kissing was kissing someone else, and you caught it from him carrying it on to you? Or that time I mentioned the person who told me my photos were 'generic'? What about the post about me being an art snob yet how I had to sit there looking at sketches and say I liked them when I didn't, because they were actually really bad? Or what about that time I mentioned how much people who think they can sing when they can't really, really bug me? Interesting, isn't it?

The part that really bothers me is my role in all of this; by the time the last few months rolled around, I'd gotten love and hate so genuinely confused I had no idea what the hell I was feeling any more. Incidently it was hate. And now it's resentment because I sat in a room in Scotland for two weeks, bored out of my fricking mind when all I really wanted to do was stay in London. Or go to the Greek Islands and Barcelona with J. Yes. Big, bold statement number one. By the end of it... I pretty much hated him. I'm not going to deny it. I knew it wasn't right. I knew He wasn't right. I knew I hated him. But the Dumb-Girl inside me who was so convinced she'd never do better stuck with it. Dumb-Girl really annoys me sometimes.

Dumb-Girl nearly knocked herself out on a ramp today. That was annoying, too. And made Smart-Girl very dizzy for several minutes. Smart-Girl also now wears a green t-shirt at work. Score. That doesn't actually mean anything. Just that it's green.

But still. It was such a relief to get back to London and to see J dancing around on the platform waiting for me, knowing that for the next few days I could travel the way I need to travel, the way I love to travel, and do what I want without any concern for anyone else.

Okay. That's not entirely true. I had concern for my awesome travel buddies. You know, the ones who let me stop for photos? J and A. We saw fireworks. In a park. In the freezing cold. It was awesome. I got very depressed five days later when I had to leave A and go meet him in London. I did not want to leave A.

I'm just annoyed at myself for noticing all the stupid things that should've been deal-breakers. Like that time he pissed my BFF off so much that she physically wanted to strangle him. She's not a violent person. And how not just the BFF, but pretty much all my female friends, including the ones he was friends with or knew as well, told me they always thought he was a douche but never said anything to me because they thought the fact that my then boyfriend was a douche was probably a little awkward to bring up in conversation. Second Note to Self: If BFF doesn't approve, the boy is no good. Be done with him. If not just BFF, but all your female friends don't approve... runthefuckaway. Fast.

Or how about finding out that he'd asked one of those friends for photos of her in her underwear. While he was with me? Smart-Girl knows better than that, but Dumb-Girl clearly knows how to Jedi-Mind-Trick Smart-Girl's ass all over the place. I hate Dumb-Girl. I hope she trips on her own shoes and breaks her mouth so she shuts the hell up for a while and let's Smart-Girl run this show, because stuff like that IS a dealbreaker!

I suppose the clarity of this is that I'm not upset it ended. I don't miss it. I don't want it back. I know I'm better than that. It's the disappointment and frustrations I have with myself for knowing all along it was wrong, and pursuing it anyway because I didn't think I could do better. And hell, for a while, I even managed to convince myself that there was nothing better. Dumb-Girl rears her ugly head yet again. What a cow. Clearly there is better. I'm just mad at myself for not seeing it sooner.

Why stay with someone who makes you feel inferior? Or tries to change you? Or has no idea how to clean his front yard? Or who's parents and family practically ignore you and then when they do talk to you, tell you there's something wrong with you because you don't want to eat their gunky oil-swimming food? Sorry. I just don't want to die of a heart attack before the age of thirty. Why stay with someone who makes so little effort? Why stay with someone who spent a large portion of your holiday sitting in front of a computer playing online games? Why stay with someone who thinks you're stupid? The guy who takes away your spirit, claims to know you but really only knows the version of you that he wanted you to be?

The biggest things that should've made me realise?

He'd never be the kind of guy who would wander the streets of NYC with me all night, just to see the city in the sunrise. He'd never stand in front of something monumental like the Grand Canyon and stop, just to breathe it in. He wouldn't be like Nick in Nick and Norah. Or Ben in Licence to Wed, or Robbie in The Wedding Singer. He didn't match me. He would never match me. Our values were too different. Our morals were too different, and our ideals were too different. And if a guy won't wander NYC with me, or stop to breathe in the moment of wherever we might be, whatever we might've been standing in front of, then those are the biggest deal-breakers.

And more importantly... why stay with a guy who apparently loves women so much he can't stick to just one of them and then lets you spend two weeks in Scotland when you don't want to, knowing all along that he's probably going to break up with you when you get home? But also the guy who apparently respects women so much, but lets the one he supposedly loved waste her time with him. I don't believe it was a spontaneous breakup at all. I don't believe anything he said in the last few months. Heck, in hindsight I don't believe any of it. I don't believe there wasn't someone else. I don't believe I didn't meet her.

Oh well. One man's trash is another man's treasure.

Three from Three

I can't believe that it's Friday - my first week as a lady of leisure and it's over already. I've already made some progress with my goals, and since my gym membership got renewed on Wednesday, I'm at 3 from 3 visits. Go me! I'm thinking I need to make my own little star chart, just like the motivated and super-awesome Britt.

Being back at the gym is eerily strange. The same people are there, and once again, I'm the biggest person there working out. The whole self conscious thing will fade after a few weeks, it always does - but ugh, I really hate feeling this way. I know, I know, nobody cares, it's a gym. And losing weight is why I'm there, right? 

And so, I walk. I walk it out and I get into a zone, and that's what works for me. Every time I visit, my goal is to walk for at least 20-30 minutes at the beginning of my routine, before I switch to what suits me that day. I'm trying to switch up my days with arm weights & leg weights, and I plan to hunt down some classes that suit me too - but that takes a little bit of time for me to get comfortable with too. Once I get my fitness levels back up, I intend on braving spin classes again and I'm really keen to try out this Zumba phase that seems to be all the rage right now. I really wish that I had a buddy I could drag along with me.. ah well, bygones.

I don't just walk, though. I boogie. I boogie-walk. You know when you're walking and you hear a song with a decent beat, and you change your walk to match that beat? That's what I do. And if that means I sashay while I walk, so be it. It gets me pumped. I like to imagine that I'm strutting down a runway, America's Next Top Model style. Except that I'm wearing joggers. And I'm sweating. And huffing. A lot. I can only imagine seeing me from behind (although I think that I'm being discreet.. of course) - and I certainly don't want to know. All I know is that I like to boogie-walk.

Do you have any quirks that get you through your workouts?

Blog Goes Snazzy

For this post to make any sense at all, you'll need to hop off your feed reader and mosey on down to my actual site so you can see my lovely new design in all of its magnificent glory and hope and wonder.

I got in touch with Teresa at Splendid Sparrow a few weeks ago after seeing a few awesome bloggers recommend her - and she was fantastic to work with. I think that being easy-going about a blog design can sometimes be more difficult than knowing exactly what you want... but she straight away came back with a range of options to choose from that matched me really well. Plus, with the time difference - I always woke up to a lovely email, or a funky screenshot of the work in process, which was good fun.

Ack! The cuteness! I can't stop looking at it. Those wee little lovebirds scattered throughout the page, they make my day. And most importantly, I got my green, grey & white colour scheme - which is something I really wanted to incorporate into the design. Why those colours? Time will tell... or you can take a guess!

Let me know what you think! And a big thanks to Teresa for getting everything so perfect in such a short amount of time. I love it, I love it, I love it, etc. etc.

The Great Wedding Venue Search of 2010 - Part III

We're nearly there folks, I promise!

I left you last time with a rather unfortunate review of the golf club that the boy had chosen as his venue of choice. (Sorry, Jase!) Well, it wasn't just him - because the next venue was another golf course/function room, this time one that I had chosen!

The balcony of the room looked over the course and right out to the ocean which was absolutely stunning - but it just didn't pop out for me. It was just another room - and it didn't feel like it was meant to be.

After seeing our share of more relaxed venues, the next one was quite a splurge for us - for starters, it was located in Manly. If you don't know where Manly is, it's here. It's north of the city and super famous for its beaches, and this particular venue was located right on the top of the hill with a spectacular view.

It once belonged to the Catholic church, and still has an on-site chapel which is functioning, but the rest of the building is now a college. From the outside, I was sold. The views were breathtaking and the building is amazing - but unfortunately, the inside was a classroom. A dark, navy carpeted classroom, that they were charging an extraordinary amount of money to turn into an artsy reception space. As much as I loved the location, it just wasn't worth it. Plus, Manly is miles away for most of our guests, so it wasn't ideal anyway. Check out the building though!

We had three other venues scheduled for the following day, however only ended up going to see one of them. Why? I was completely exhausted. Plus, I'd basically made my mind up on which venue I wanted to choose (those details to come soon...) and all of the dud visits were just reinforcing that. There was one other local spot we'd wanted to see though, since it was a venue recommended to us by a few different people and was only a fifteen minute drive away from my parents house.

This venue was located in a national park and while nothing special on the outside, it had lovely untouched grounds and a nice big open function space. It was actually a nice, simple venue on the inside and was done up very nicely. I fell in love with the bridal table - it was raised up a tiny bit and had a gorgeous fairy light backdrop set up at all times, as well as stunning vases with fresh flowers that stayed up constantly and already matched our colour scene. I'll admit, I was slightly tempted to just say yes SOLELY because the bridal table was gorgeous.

But again, it just didn't feel like 'The One'. Plus, being so local, I would've placed bets that at least half of our wedding guests had probably either been there for a reception previously or heard of it, and I wanted my venue to be just a little bit special.

After we'd finished up here and armed with coffee from Starbucks, mum and I sat down and made a list of our top venues to weed our way through and eliminate some of the options. That decision-making process took all of fifteen minutes, because let's face it - my mind was already made up. I organised a Skype call with Jase, had a chat about what I'd fallen in love with, and got the all-clear to go ahead and book.

You've made it this far.. stick around - are you ready to see 'The One?'

The Great Wedding Venue Search of 2010 - Part II

And now we continue with the second instalment of venue hunting - if you need a little reminding on where I'd already visited...

The next venue was one I've been to before, as it was actually the location for my high school formal/prom. It is another older house and has some very pretty gardens - but it was very basic. I was hoping to be shown a few different room options in the venue, however was a bit disappointed that the room they decided would be 'right' for our numbers was exactly the same room where we'd held our formal!

It was a pretty basic room in the daytime, though we were shown photographs of the room set up at night and it's amazing what a difference a few fairy lights can make! This was the cheapest venue option by a long shot, so I kept it on our maybe list just in case.

I'm going to throw in an extra shout-out here to my partners in crime, my Mum and the lovely Miss Kirby, who found themselves dragged along to view nearly all of the options with me. Look, aren't they wonderful?

Our next drive was a little terrifying, being that the venue was an inner city hotel and we had one panicking driver on our hands. It didn't help that our GPS Navigator tends to be a little delayed in the city, so it ended up having us drive over the Harbour Bridge twice! Let me just say, as nice as our famous bridge looks from afar, it's actually an express-way and it's really, really difficult to navigate its million changing lanes and tolls.

That venue ended up being a stuffy boardroom with a view of.. get this.. an air conditioning unit out the back, so I refused to take any pictures. It was that bad.

We then headed out into the Ku-ring-gai Chase region, which is a beautiful area north of the city. It's very green and really lush, and I had high hopes for our next visit. We drove into a big old underground car park and caught the lift up to the main reception entrance and I was blown away - it was modern, spacious and had beautiful gardens.. looking good.

Unfortunately, things went downhill from there - the first room we were shown was tiny and had a massive pylon in the middle which cut the room in half, and the second room was a HUGE empty ballroom with no windows and all artificial lighting. Was a shame too, as it could potentially have been a very nice venue. They did have beautiful floral arrangements, though!

Taking a break from the contemporary designs, I had chosen another heritage house to visit - and it was beautiful. It had a much more laidback feel to it, and everything was family run which was lovely. I loved this venue as you weren't just getting one room - our guests would have access to the entire lower level of the house, including a separate dancing room, bar, and formal lounge as well as the traditional dining room.

The flaw with this one? The owner wasn't a very pleasant person. I'm sure he runs events well, but the idea of having him as my sole wedding co-ordinator was a little iffy. It was close to the church that I loved though, so we kept this on our potentials too.

I'll interrupt my flowing commentary to throw in a little bit of trivia for you - most of these venues I had found through either recommendations from friends or through searches online. It wasn't all ME ME ME though, as everytime I would find a new potential, I'd show Jason and he would very kindly pretend to be interested in it.

There were a few he wasn't keen on which we ruled out, but for the most part, they were my choices. In one random Bridezilla moment though, I threw a bit of a tantrum that went something along the lines of 'Why is just ME doing all of this.. Wah Wah Wah - YOU try finding a venue that fits out budget, this isn't easy you know, Wah Wah Wah.' Imagine, if you will, a real stomp at the end, just for effect.

And so the boy begrudgingly did a search of his own and came across a clubhouse in a lovely golf course, and deemed his job done. Of course, I promised to view it as a potential while I was home. And so we did.

While the grounds of the course were lovely, unfortunately the clubhouse was just that - a clubhouse. It had horrible beige carpets, and just wasn't.. wedding-y enough. Sorry Jason!

And so the search continued...

Blatantly Honest and Slightly Awkward

If you've followed me over since my old blog, you'll probably notice that I don't tend to refer to that blog by name anymore. It's actually incredibly hard not to use it/type it here - I used it for years, after all - and every time I log into my main email, or my Facebook account, or any of the online groups I'm a member of, I'm reminded of it. The whole point of moving everything to an anonymous blog was to avoid popping up in Google searches and to have a little bit more freedom to blog; something I just wasn't able to do before.

Don't get me wrong, it's not like I had imaged a massive following of stalkers or anything; it's just that there are people out there that I didn't particularly like having access to my inner most thoughts. I could have made my blog private, but what's the point in that? I'm a firm believer of a blog being public for a reason - because what is blogging without the interaction of fellow bloggers relating and commenting?

And so, for a while I avoided blogging about the personal stuff and things flowed along fine. But one day I stopped and realised that hey! I do want to write about personal things. I want to write about the awesome things that are happening in my life. I want to write about the mundane things too. And the not-so-good things. And I want to stop writing things in a 'stalker-proof' way, to avoid those few people finding me and having access to my rantings. Unfortunately to make sure I remained anonymous throughout the transition, I think I lost a lot of readers along the way... but I'm hoping that they'll find me again at some point - I miss them!

So now, here I am, with my first personal blog since the move.

I've been putting off writing this post until things were a little more concrete and until I was completely removed from my work environment - again, just on the off chance that people are cleverer than I'd anticipated and had found this new blog home. Yes, as of today, I've finished up at work. My days working in an office are over, and I'm feeling a whole lot of relief at the thought of not having to go back to ten hour work days for a little while. I don't have a new job, and I don't have any grand plans. I'm finishing up because I have another focus right now.

When I was back home in Sydney, I'd made it a mission to go and have a medical check-up, as I knew that things weren't right with me and wanted to visit our family doctor. I'd visited a few GP's in the UK and no real testing had been done, so I was adamant that I wanted to be checked out. To sum things up, here's a rough idea of my medical history crammed into a few giant sentences:

Unbearable pain and cramping with periods since they started when I was 12; weeks of heavy bleeding followed by months of nothing; put on birth control pills at 14 to manage odd cycle; pain, oh lots of pain. Went off birth control two years ago; periods MIA for five months at a time; pain, oh lots of pain, negative pregnancy tests taken in fits of panic when my period was missing YET AGAIN; break-outs worse than the teenage years; crazy weight gain that was impossible to get off; hair growth on chin (CHIN!) and subsequent embarrassment... and the list could go on and on.

I'm sure anyone reading those symptoms would have a rough idea that something wasn't right - but all I was told to do was to keep tracking everything and give my body time to adjust to being off the pill again. Ha. I think nearly two years is MORE than enough time. Apparently not. In the short two weeks that I was home, my doctor took blood, looked at the notes I'd made on myself for the last few years and ordered several ultrasounds to check out everything internally, and lo and behold, there was a problem.

I have Poly cystic Ovarian Syndrome. My hormones are completely out of whack and I have dozens of visible cysts on each ovary; dozens! I've been put in Metformin tablets initially to try and manage my insulin resistance and to attempt to restore a more regular cycle - but as for eventually trying to fall pregnant, well, that's another story.

It's a bit of a shock to the system when you find out that you're more than likely going to struggle having children naturally. It's even more difficult to take in when you're not even ready to consider children yet - when we're not financially, emotionally or heck, even in the right country to be prepared for the responsibilities involved in falling pregnant and having a baby. Our general plan was always to get a little more stable with our lives back home, and obviously focus on the wedding first, and then look at where we stood in terms of a baby - but now that 'plan' may not be as smooth as we'd hoped.

I'm sure there are plenty of women out there with PCOS who conceive naturally. And since we haven't started trying yet, and won't be for a little while, I'm trying not to jump to conclusions and declare myself infertile. To be honest, I don't know enough about this whole thing to make judgements. I just know that it's scary and worrying and I'm glad I have an actual diagnosis now, to prove that I know my body and I know when something isn't right.

My doctor informed me that losing weight can also help to kick-start cycles into gear so using the drugs as a boost, I'm taking this time to get healthy and to get fit. It will be more difficult than usual, thanks to the insulin & hormonal problems, but I'm determined. I want to have children. I want to be healthy! And thanks to my hardworking fiance and my own little pocket of savings, now is as good a time as any to take some ME time and get this sorted. Lord knows we'll have a whole stack on our plate when we return home, so it has to be now. And now it is!

So there you have it - I think this qualifies as a ripper of a personal blog.

Do you have any experiences or information about Poly cystic Ovarian Syndrome that you'd like to share? I'd welcome your thoughts!

Thinking Out Loud

It's supposedly Spring right now - though from walking around in Central London, you wouldn't know it. It has been COLD lately. And you know it's cold when I say that, because I tend to walk around in my own little temperate bubble. But just when I thought it was safe to put away the bigger coats and bring out the skirts, the weather snapped. Unpredictable, yes. That's what I love about living in the UK: you get the most random weather imaginable.

I'm having a battle at the moment - it's a battle with tights.

I hate them. Really, hate them. I get why they're necessary - because the thought of spending the entire winter wearing pants (I'm sorry, trousers - you'd think I'd have learned to say that by now...) is a little bit depressing. I just can't warm to tights. (Ha! Warm to them. I am so funny sometimes.)

Maybe it's my shape and size? I certainly don't have stick thin legs or a nice flat torso, so maybe that's why they're so uncomfortable? I've tried going up a size, but they still annoy me. I find I'm constantly hitching at them and noticing them all the time. And if they're thinner and more like stockings, they're either scratched or stretched after a few wears. And the thicker tights just feel like pants - and then I feel stupid wearing pants under a skirt or dress. I can't win.

I think it's because I don't buy in to the whole tunic top phase that's going around at the moment. If I pick something off the rack and can't clearly distinguish if it's meant to be a top or an insanely short dress, I can't do it. And don't even get me started on the whole 'jegging' craze that's hit the high street here. Kudos to you if you can pull it off, but I'm going to stick with my grandma persona and enjoy wearing my bootcuts, thanks.

Considering I'm not a fan of the warmer months, I'm going to enjoy this last batch of cooler weather. I guarantee you in about four weeks I'll be moaning about living in London in the summer, where air conditioning is in short supply and when public transport gets just that little bit more horrendous. So, enough from me; I'm off to enjoy walking around Chancery Lane/Fleet Street in my lunch break - IN MY PANTS.

(I still wish I could rock the tights though.)

The Great Wedding Venue Search of 2010

I've been meaning to write up a recap of our adventures in wedding venue hunting with images, and I'm finally ready to get into it. I wish I had taken better pictures of some of the venues - however I found that as soon as I was shown inside and was having the details explained to me, I got completely sidetracked and simply forgot.

I should tell you, I had this visit planned out months in advance.

I had contacted my favourite reception venues and churches, booked in times to see them and with Jason's help, put together a spreadsheet of costs, inclusions, extras and all sorts of other random information I probably wouldn't need. People thought I was crazy for being so busy on my 'holiday' - but this was a business holiday, people! I knew what I wanted to do, and I had two weeks to make a decision and get this wedding sorted.

I also had an itinerary. It looked a bit like this:

If you look really closely, you'll notice that I had even scheduled in time visiting friends and family - because I honestly didn't have enough free days to just let things happen naturally. I was a one-woman machine on a mission. And it worked out pretty well, thankfully - I caught up with nearly everyone who made the effort, and made it to all the appointments I had hoped to view.

This will be a fairly long blog, so I'll be breaking it up into a few posts to make it a little easier on the eyes.

I flew into Sydney on Friday night and after visiting my Nan and eventually getting home, I fell straight asleep - only to wake up bright and early to head off to very first 10am appointment! The first was a heritage listed house in the western suburbs.

It had been restored beautifully and had lovely gardens, but the inside was fairly small. There were two rooms available; but the room that fit our numbers wasn't what I was looking for - and little things I noticed inside had me worried.

For one, the room was set up for a wedding when we arrived... and it wasn't set up well. The linens looked creased, the chair covers were really mismatched, the curtains were a garish pink shade that would have clashed with our colours, and the little details just weren't done fully - the kind of details that I would have been mortified to see on my wedding day. For lack of a better description, it just seemed a bit half-arsed. We went to see a few churches around the area and I wasn't blown away either, so that venue was ruled out fairly quickly.

As for our afternoon visit, well, you might remember a little blog I wrote having a rant and rave about our second venue in The Rocks; where we drove all the way into Sydney on a busy Saturday, paid for parking, road tolls and stress (on mum's part, anyway; she was such a trouper driving where she wasn't comfortable) only to be told we had no appointment and couldn't view the venue that day. Not impressed!

We did eventually go back and see the inside of the venue on a later day but you know, it wasn't all that special. Let's face it - the room had a spectacular view. But the staff weren't helpful, I didn't trust the co-ordinator after bungling up our original viewing, so I just wasn't sold on the venue as a whole.

But really.. what an amazing view.

A few months ago, two of my favourite people went to a bridal expo held in Sydney. I wasn't there of course (well, only in spirit) so my Mum and Kirby, my Maid of Honour extraordinaire, spent the day checking things out on my behalf - and came back with quite a few eyebrow raising ideas, let me tell you. Turns out there was a second bridal expo in Darling Harbour the weekend I arrived, and I wanted to check it out for myself.

Well. I can't say it wasn't entertaining? We got a whole lot of junk mail and brochures, entered a whole lot of competitions (which I haven't heard back from... yet) and saw a whole lot of brides. And bridal parties. Too many women in one auditorium! Aaah! We also watched a fashion show which was probably the most amusing item on the day's agenda - and since when did 'bridal couture' become slang for 'bridal gowns now with extra fug and a few too many misplaced feathers'? My goodness. They lost me at the gown that resembled a peacock. I was done for. Finished.

I'd deliberately scheduled the first Monday home to be a very busy day. I'd had a feeling from my research that these would be my top picks - and wouldn't you know, my two favourite venues happened to be from that first day. I'm going to hold off on showing you the winning venue for now - just to keep you intrigued, of course! :) It's so amazing, I can't wait to share!

One of the hardest things for me to narrow down was an appropriate Catholic church for the wedding ceremony. Neither Jase or I have ever had a specific church in mind to be married in, and one of my stipulations for the wedding was that it be in a 'pretty' church. I know that sounds horrible, but you should see some of the churches around - they don' t look like churches! Maybe it's a result of living in the UK, where the churches are older and beautifully designed, but that's what I wanted for my wedding.

In my searches, I came across an old Catholic Monastery. It was a bit off the beaten track, but it was absolutely beautiful. The building was so big that I found it difficult to capture it, and the drive was covered in trees obscuring the view. The chapel was so peaceful, it really was. It was also very dark and formal looking though, which while traditional, isn't what I was looking for.

After our visit to the Monastery, we drove in to Pyrmont in the city to view our next venue. This was the most modern of all the venues I had picked, and I loved its contemporary design that was really unique. The venue was located on an old converted pier, and had an amazing view of the Harbour Bridge.

It was an interesting loft design - the lower floor was a bar and a dance floor, with scattered furniture throughout so people could relax if they wanted to. The second floor was the dining level, set up with long oval tables. Then there was another level, stairs leading up on either side of the dining level - so there were two mini rooms at the very top which could be cordoned off to act as a bridal storage room. It was a lot of space! This was my runner up venue because it was so original, but I ended up turning towards the more traditional of venues instead. (Plus, the stairs wouldn't have been great for our older family relatives.)

It was really hard to take pictures of, since it was so spread out. Even though this wasn't the one, I can still imagine the gorgeous photographs that could have been taken here - with Jase and I twirling around the dance floor below while our guests watched on from the upper level. Le sigh.

Stay tuned for the next batch of venues!


Click here for Part II.
Click here for Part III.
And finally..
Click here for The Winner.

Can't Blog. Reading.

I'm in the midst of a reading frenzy at the moment.

I've blogged before about my undying love of second hand books, and thanks to an abundance of Oxfam and Cancer Research charity shops around good old London town, I've got myself a nice little stock-pile ready and waiting to go.

So I have this old book lying around - it's been half finished for some time now, and I've just not had the energy to get through to the end. It's not the easiest read, and I've been so sidetracked with other options that it's been neglected on my bookshelf.

Imagine my surprise when I picked it up last night to give it another shot and saw THIS:

Slightly ironic and yet appropriate fang marks, eh?

Though I'm fairly sure that those bite marks didn't come from Dracula.
(Why would he go for a recycled book when, fresh neck, hello, right here?)

No, I'd put it down to a slightly possessed cat who has a tendency to sit on the bookshelf and make noise/knock books off shelves at 3am every morning when he wants attention.
But still... fang marks! Ha!

Speaking of vampires, I've been reading the Charlaine Harris/Sookie Stackhouse novels for the past few months as well - they're good 'train books'. Because my commute into London every day is a bit all over the place (walk, bus, tube, walk) I need books that I can easily pick up where I left off - and these books fit the bill. And even though they're short books, they've taken me ages to get through for that very reason. A work colleague loaned me the ninth book and I'm just about ready to start on that... almost in time for the new edition. Oh Eric, Eric, Eric.

And speaking of loans, another kind friend has just lent me the first book in the Milennium series - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - and I'm really hoping to get into that soon too. Let's not even mention the other stack of unread goodies I have sitting on our bookshelves here.

What can I say? I'm a book nerd. And proud of it!

Got any real gems you'd recommend? I'm always up for suggestions.. or hand-me-downs!

All Things Seem Possible In May

May is going to be fabulous, oh yes it is!

I mean really, any month that starts and ends with a long weekend is good in my books. The UK seems to fall short of public holidays compared to home in Australia BUT May makes up for it slightly.

So what's happening this month then? I will be...

Finishing up at work.
Re-joining my gym, in preparation for the months ahead.
Completing the Sookie Stackhouse books ready for the new novel.
Celebrating the boy's 28th birthday.
Trying to avoid going mental with the joy of wedding planning - considering there are still 404 days to go. (!)
Getting on top of this little apartment's ever growing laundry pile.
Attending a work pub quiz and hoping not to come last.

There are quite a lot of things I have in the pipeline to blog about - I'm excited about actually having some content this time around.

I also have quite a lot of wedding ideas floating around my head, even though it's very early on - I sort of feel like I should be writing them down somewhere, else I'll end up forgetting them in the same time it takes to complete this sentence. See? They're gone.

London weather has been gorgeous lately; with the exception of this long weekend. It poured with rain all day on Saturday and Sunday, and the sun has typically just emerged now. I love a short week, so hoping I can stay busy and keep active at work this week to make the time go by quickly. If there's one thing that drives me insane, it's having nothing to do.

(At work, anyway. I can always deal with having nothing to do at home in the comfort of my pyjamas and slippers.)

Anything exciting going on in this month for you?

About our Date

Now that our wedding date is set in stone, the rest of the planning is a little less daunting.

While I love, love, love the date we've settled on, it wasn't necessarily the one I would have chosen for myself.

For the longest time, I'd predicted that we'd be married in May next year. I spent some time looking at Saturday dates that occurred in 2011, and had decided that the 21st would be perfect. Why? Because in a kind of nerdy and more than a little ME sort of way, I liked the way the date looked. For background purposes: I'm the kind of person who, when bored, has a tendency to sign her name repeatedly on any paper object in from of me. I'm not a doodler. I'm a signer. It's what I do.

And so I signed.
And I sketched.
And I wrote out mock invitations on paper.
And I played the date over and over in my head.
And after all of that, it just looked.. right.

Slightly odd and obsessive-compulsive, I know.

During our venue visits, I threw that date out there to see what the general vibe was. Our May date was always available, which was great! I assumed it was because I'd gotten in early with my madly efficient planning skills, but after a few different visits I soon figured out why - turns out that most venues have off season discounts, that become available from June 1st. Yes, you read that right - June in the Southern Hemisphere is the start of the Winter months. We're having a Winter shindig, and I couldn't be happier.

There are loads of reasons why I love our chosen date in June.

· It writes well. It has a swirly letter 'J' - yes, that's important to me. I know. I love the date in its shortened format* and it also still looks lovely when written fully in script. Bonus!

· As I've said, our wedding became classified as an off-season event - which worked out perfectly for us, as our reception venue gave us 10% off our booking AND threw in a few additional extras as well.

· I am a warm-blooded creature, meaning that even in the middle of winter, you can find me in short sleeves and sandals. A cooler wedding month will be great, since I'll be wearing a heavy wedding dress and will likely have had pretty hair and makeup plastered on me... the less sweat, the better! And don't worry - since both the ceremony and the reception will be indoors, my guests won't be freezing. :)

· My parents wedding anniversary is in June, close to the same time, so that's nice.

· The 11th of June happens to fall on an Australian long weekend in 2011, as we celebrate the Queens Birthday on the second Monday of each June. That means that we'll be getting married on the Saturday and will have an extended weekend to bask in our newlywed glory. This works really well for us, as we don't know what our work lives will be like next year and may have to delay our official honeymoon - we'll see what happens there.

· Following on from our long weekend wedding date, that means that every year our anniversary will fall on, or very close to, a public holiday. That means that Jase will have no excuse to ever forget our anniversary (not that he would, of course!) and will work out nicely if we want to celebrate it by going away or doing something special.

It's perfect. I love it! Now the count-down begins.

So my wedded friends, how did you decide on your wedding date? And for everyone else, do you think you would keep a special date in mind?

*Have you noticed anything strange about the way I write our wedding date? In Australia, the shortened date format we go by is 'day-month-year' - so 11-6 is NOT November, it is actually the 11th of June. It definitely confused quite a few of my Northern Hemisphere friends, that's for sure!

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