More Wishes

I wish I was with my family this Saturday for my birthday, I miss them so much around the holidays.

I wish I had an unlimited supply of cash to play with. Okay, not unlimited. That's greedy. Let me rephrase that: I wish I had a nice little kitty of cash that I could dip out of that would make sending Oscar home and trying to squeeze some more travel time for ourselves, that little bit easier and less heart-attack inducing.

I wish I could make the boy stop worrying about things that are out of his control. I hate seeing him worry.

I wish I didn't enjoy being a homebody as much as I do, because it's going to be all the more difficult when I start going back to work and into the daily grind again.

I wish that I could lose weight as quickly as I can put it on. I also wish that I had a little more patience because this is not something that's going to miraculously happen overnight; but that's easier said than done.

I wish I could wear belts without them making me look ridiculous.

I wish that people would write back to emails quickly instead of always leaving me waiting for their reply.

I wish we had more carrots in the fridge. I'm having a major obsession with them & lite philly cheese right now.

I wish I could use spreadsheets as well as I can use pieces of flyaway paper. Maybe then I wouldn't be literally surrounded by scribbles in notebooks and on drafts. Unfortunately, I suck at making them work.

I wish for a puppy, even though I know that can't happen for a while yet.

I wish more of my old blog friends were still actively posting, and I wish that this blog had as many hits as my old one used to. It doesn't mean much in the long haul, but in all honesty, I do miss the love sometimes.

What are you wishing for right now?

The Long Way Around

Remember how I'm a slightly obsessed planner and an organiser?

Well as I mentioned a few days ago, I've been spending a lot of time planning for how the end of the year is going to work for us. It was one thing moving from Sydney to London - trying to plan for a life on the other side of the world with just one suitcase and a carry on bag to contend with. But that little life experience was nothing compared to how difficult it is preparing for the opposite journey home. People, it is harder than I imagined. Insanely difficult.

I should put it out there and say that we'll be officially out of the UK by November - which is only just over four months from now. I've already started the ball rolling for Oscar's departure and he's now the proud owner of an import licence from the Australian government quarantine officials, woohoo! Very soon I'll be handing over an extraordinary amount of money to a pet transportation company to arrange Oscar's flight details, travel crate, quarantine stay and vet fees, and then he'll be ready for the travel process in November when we are.

And as for Jase and me? Well, I've become a one-woman planning machine. I've started getting quotes for excess baggage. I've started donating things and throwing out items we won't be taking home with us at the end of the year. I've started researching travel deals some more and have been frantically trying to make dates match up to go on a travel adventure or two prior to heading back to Sydney - and that part has been more than a little bit stressful. It's not just our own travel dates that I have to work with here: it's tour operator dates, it's the date I return from Europe, and it's Oscar's travel preparation and flight dates. And, oh yes, it's the expiry  date on Jase's UK Work Permit in mid-November that we've been working with, too.

Wait, did I say mid-November? Silly me! After finally working out dates that matched up and getting a mock itinerary scripted - with papers and dates and prices strewn all around me, I had this horrible feeling that we were forgetting something. I went and checked the date on the boy's Visa and then I died.

Okay, so I didn't really die, but my heart did stop beating for just a few seconds & I believe I looked a bit like this:

When I'd asked what date we were working on him having to be out of the UK by, he'd sworn it was the 14th or 15th of November, so I was working on that assumption - which worked great with our dates: I returned from Europe on the 8th, we'd have a week to get the cat sorted out, finish cleaning and packing, hand over our apartment keys and fly away to our first travel destination. Er, no, not that simple. The expiry date on his Visa is NOVEMBER 7th.

(!!!!!!)

If you go back and read my last sentence, you might recall that I don't get back to London until the 8th. And the boy has to leave the UK by the 7th! Cue panic and freaking out. Basically, we're going to have to readjust everything - dates we leave, who does what, plan plan plan and so on and so forth. While I was going to be the one in charge of Oscar's vet visits and final transportation, that is now going to fall on Jase - so I'll have to get him up to speed and in charge of the paperwork very soon. It also means that he'll be finalising all of the apartment cleaning and handing the keys over - and then he'll fly over to our first travel destination and wait for me to join him a few days later. It's crazy: it also means that after living out of a suitcase for a month in Europe, I'll have no home to come back to - so I sense a whole lot of washing will have to be done in a random European laundromat somewhere along the way!

We'll manage, we always do. And I'm glad we found the spanner in the works this early on before all of our travel plans were booked and set in stone. See? Always have trust in your gut instincts. I firmly believe in mine!

We haven't done things the easy way; we never have. If we'd wanted that, we would have stayed back in Sydney, got married, bought a house and a dog and maybe popped out 2.5 children, or whatever the 'average' is nowadays. Instead, we've had an awesome adventure. We've travelled. We've saved. We rescued a cat, who is possibly the best thing that's happened to us since being here. We've lived together and learned together as a couple before finally getting engaged - and now we get to plan the long way around back to where we started from.

Wish me luck with this travel planning: to be honest, I'll need as much as possible to make this all work!

Inspire Me

While doing some more travel planning this weekend, I found myself combing through the bookmarks tabs in all of my browser windows: yes, silly me has separate favourites saved in IE, evil Firefox AND Chrome. I'm slightly too organised for my own good. I noticed while doing so, that I've saved an awful lot of wedding-related pictures and how-to's - which led to me wondering about how to showcase these more effectively.

I've been meaning to start a new venture & try blogging somewhere different, so I am. Only it's not for a group and it's not anything too special - it's just a second home for me, one where I can post as frequently (or as infrequently!) as I choose. There will probably be a lot of wedding related pictures there for starters, but we'll see where this goes. And if all else fails, it'll be a good way for me to keep track of my inspirations over the coming months and as the wedding countdown continues!
So feel free to stop by and visit sometime: 'Inspire Me' (also known as www.thingsalyloves.blogspot.com)
In non blog related news, I've been researching hotels for future travel plans all weekend and I'm starting to dream about expensive resorts in my sleep. I either come across insanely overpriced deluxe rooms, or small boxy ones with no windows for average prices - where is the happy in-between, folks? I'm desperately trying to find a way to stay in Hawaii on our budget, because I want oh so badly to see a sunset like this in my life.

An Aussie's Travels

I actually can't remember if I have ever mentioned our travel plans for later this year on the blog. I feel as though I have, as they've been on my mind ever since that day back in January when the boy and I sat down and worked out what our year was going to look like - or at least a rough idea of it, anyway. So if you've heard all of this before and it's old news, I apologise - and if you haven't, feel free to get excited along with me.

First of all, I'm travelling with my awesome maid of honour (Miss K) and an equally awesome bridesmaid (Miss J) which is exciting enough in itself! We're waiting for the traditional summer holiday period to end for a few reasons: a) We have lots of visitors stopping by over the summer and I couldn't take time away then, b) I hate, hate crowds and waiting in crazy lines in the summer season, c) It's hot, and d) Travelling in winter is amazingly beautiful and is a lot cheaper - which is perfect since we're on a crazy budget now. The girls will be arriving in early October and after a little while in London, we'll be joining a tour and re-visiting Europe! Other than small trips over the last few years, the last time I really went country hopping in Europe was in 2004 with Jason - we were such babies then! This time, we'll be visiting similar countries as well as a few new ones, and I'll be enjoying it with the girls.

The countries we'll be visiting include: France, Switzerland, Spain, Monaco, Italy, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic (Prague, love) Belgium and Amsterdam. I've never been to Spain before, so this will be a first for me, and there are a few cities like Berlin and Vienna that I can't wait to properly explore. The trip is for just under a month.

There will hopefully be one or two more bits and pieces on the agenda that will actually include Jason, I haven't forgotten about him! Being able to travel with two of my best girlfriends while he's finishing up at work and looking after Oscar; it is a huge reminder of how lucky I am to be with someone as generous and as amazing as he is. I'd like to think it goes both ways; we've both always been free to travel independently if we wanted to, yet we travel equally as well when it's just the two of us. A little bit of freedom does a happy relationship make.

Without giving too much away yet since things are only partially booked and in the cards, I can tell you that we're hoping to finish our time abroad with a bang! Instead of the usual long-haul flight from London-Sydney with its miserable 24 hour flight time, we're hoping to do things in a super random way and visit a few places we've never been before. I can't wait to update you all, once we know more. It's going to be fantastic!

If you could travel anywhere right now, where would you go - and why?

Good Things Come In Twos!

I'm squeezing in two posts today, because it's not every day a blog-friend has a virtual Baby Shower! Today's blog is dedicated to the lovely Erin, who is expecting twins in the coming months - and I couldn't be happier for her!

So as well as a day of double blog posts, I thought I'd share some of my very own favourite things that come in pairs:

Erin, have the happiest of days - while we've not met in real life, I think you're a doll and you're an inspiration for so many bloggers out there. Maybe one day I will be able to give you a hug in person, but for now, virtually will have to do! I just know that you & Ted will be fantastic parents and your twin girls are incredibly lucky to have you both.

Aly & Jase vs. Wedding Bands

We're in a funny cycle right now - where I'll go for weeks without thinking about wedding stuff too much, and then where it's all I can think about and right at the forefront of my mind. This past week has been the latter - and I have to say, I love it. It'll be nice when it's closer and it's one of the only things I can focus on but I'll take what I can get.

This weekend we caught up with the boy's brother and girlfriend, as they had just moved into a new apartment (with London city views!) and we wanted to check it out. It's just the two of them; J has asked M to be his best man at the wedding, and they get along really well - but don't really celebrate things like birthdays or buy each other gifts or anything. I can't understand that, so we brought along a bottle of bubbly as a house-warming gift for them, and lucky we did.. as they announced that they'd gotten engaged the night before! I did my best not to bombard them with questions since I remember from personal experience just how overwhelming that can be, but it will be exciting to see what they plan and when they set a date. I wonder if M will ask J to be one of his groomsmen?

Anywho, seeing her beautiful rock of a diamond led us to talking about wedding bands. My biggest fear with ordering wedding bands is basically down to my hands. You may call them slightly large for a lady; I call them man hands. It's ok, after twenty five years on this planet learning to love them (despite a certain jeweller actually laughing at my ring size when I was younger, ouch) I'll admit it - I have super large fingers.

If you've been a blog reader of mine before the move over here to "Breathe Gently" you might remember these posts: the one where my engagement ring was sent away to be resized just a mere day after our engagement, and the one where it finally came back to me all those months later. That wait was really, really difficult. But to this day, I've always been worried about what would happen when it came to choosing wedding bands - because no matter what kind we purchased, it would need to be resized and I would have to wait. (Patience is not one of my strong points.)

So here came the hard part: choosing the type of band to match to my ring. Jase has already decided that he wants the simplest of all white gold bands that he can find, and that's that. He'll be easy to buy for: we'll probably wait and get his ring back in Australia a few months before the wedding. Other than a watch, he doesn't wear any jewelery at all, so a ring is a big deal for him! I'm still torn about what to do with mine. Because I still think my e-ring is super beautiful and awesome, here's another picture for you - observe, the chubby man hands & wonky fingers!


The reason that the resizing took so initially, was because of the stones set in the half band that you can see. Logically, the easiest way to remedy that was to go for a simple white gold band at around the same width as the e-ring - 3mm. The plus side to this was also that it was the cheaper option too. But then, I really wanted to see how a sparkly band would pop against the my ring, so wanted to try a few on for size. Um, crazy move.

First things first, we went to a handful of random jewellery stores nearby. The plain gold band was nice, but was just that - just nice. Not dramatic, not amazing, just simple and nice. But alas! We couldn't find a diamond band to match the width or the size of my e-ring band. I tried on loads. They all looked wrong. One helpful friend told me that the only way to get a real match would be to head back to the store where the engagement ring was created... a fact which I relayed to Jase with glee, and then watched as he turned a nice shade of pale. I didn't specifically want or need a matching wedding band from a certain store, but it was worth looking anyway - so off we went.

And wow. I forget just how beautiful everything is there until I go and look at the display cabinets. I know it's super expensive and that you're partially paying for the brand, but the service at Tiffany & Co is great and they really, really know their jewels. I showed them my ring and they brought out a few options to try on, but there it was: the exact matching wedding band, right down to the size and sparkle of the diamonds. Of course, I had to examine it stuck on my knuckle with my e-ring loosely over the top, but you get the idea - it was beautiful.

What happens next? I have no idea. We haven't made up our minds yet - and I'm still in two minds, because one side of me is jumping for joy at the sight of those matching bands but the other side is feeling overwhelmingly guilty, because we could use that money to go towards our travels home or the wedding itself.  They have ordered in the wedding band in a bigger size for me to try on properly, so maybe we'll go look again and see what happens - or maybe we'll stick to the traditional gold band. It's early days yet, but I certainly want to get it ordered as soon as possible, because we'll be out of the country for a few months travelling later this year which will make ordering and waiting for a delivery to be virtually impossible to plan for. I guess we'll wait and see.

What do you prefer: the idea of plain, matching or mis-matched wedding bands? 

Wishes

Have you ever wished that you knew someone, anyone, in a particular field to help you out and throw a favour your way every now and again? I know I have - especially lately, since I'm trying to plan for so many things at once.

I wish I knew a travel agent, who could help me with my holiday planning later this year. I'm all for finding good deals on the internet, but making them run together smoothly at the best rate? I'm terrified of making a mistake and suffering for it later on. And any help to find amazingly cheap flights across the globe is always tops.
I wish I knew a violinist, who could play at our wedding ceremony without charging a fortune and costing me my first-born child. All I want is classical music to match our tiny church, but I don't think I can afford it.
I wish I knew someone who could help me with relocating Oscar back home. All the research I've done is apparently out of date and has left me having panic attacks over the inflated costs and about being a bad cat momma.
I wish I knew someone in the recruitment field back home, who could find me my perfect job for when I'm back in Sydney. This one's harder than it sounds though, because what is my perfect job? I have no idea in the slightest.
I wish I knew a hairdresser or a makeup artist, who could work with me and my girls for the wedding in June. Because it would be so much nicer to have a friend be in charge of making me beautiful, rather than a stranger.
I wish I knew a masseuse. Does this one really need explaining?
What are you wishing for right now?

Operation Healthy: Week 1

A week ago today, I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of my newest project - portion controlled meals that were going to be delivered to my door, hopefully making a difference in my weight loss journey (or lack thereof.)   I spent a good portion of that morning cleaning out the pantry, since I'd been in touch with a few ladies following the regime that commented on the sheer amount of food products that arrived each month. So I cleaned, and I organised, and I left a whole entire shelf empty - and when the delivery came on Thursday morning, I packed it all up neatly and began my journey.

It's one thing to fork out the dollars and mentally commit to a new health plan, but it's another to actually enjoy doing it. My biggest worry was that I wouldn't enjoy the food, wouldn't be satisfied, or would simply just let myself down. Either way, I grimly weighed myself that morning on the Wii, shed a few tears of pure horror and then promptly got busy with the healthy living, starting then and there all over again.
It's not rocket science. The food is portion controlled servings which you can add to, in order to hit your targeted number of calories per day. Breakfasts are usually porridge or granola. Lunches are soups, casseroles or dairy shakes. Dinners, well, there are loads of options to choose from. This week I've eaten mac and cheese, thai chicken curry, vegetable casserole with pork sausages and pasta with beef meatballs, just to name a few. And surprisingly, they taste okay! They also provide you with snacks to munch on: oatbakes, low GI biscuits, fruit and muesli bars - and of course, I add in my own fruits and veggies as well as a portion of brown rice or wholemeal bread/pasta once per day, if I choose.

I'll admit - the first day I was dubious of the whole thing. The portion of granola was oh so tiny, I didn't possibly think it would be enough to sustain me for an hour, let alone a morning. So I added a banana to it and proved myself wrong. The portions are a good size. Perfect, in fact. It just terrifies me to think of what a 'normal' portion has been for me for such a long time - let me just say that I was way off. (My usual bowl of cereal would easily have been about three times as big as the portioned controlled ones.)

Committing to this program has also made me very conscious of making sure I'm eating enough - in that I'm making an effort to eat my food spaced out throughout the day. I think that has helped a lot with adjusting to the smaller portions, and I'm definitely more conscious of calories now too. And you know what? Today, for the first time in the last two months of eating well and exercising religiously, I was excited to get on the Wii and weigh in. I've lost 6 pounds in my first week (well, I got too anxious and weighed in a day early!) and I couldn't be prouder. In six days, I've dropped more weight than I have in the past two months: basically all from portion sizes.
It's early days yet though and I don't want to get ahead of myself - I have a lot of weight to lose and a long way to go, and the first week's loss is always going to be the most drastic. But I have a lot more hope now and a lot more understanding - and even if 1-2lbs is all I'll manage to lose each week from here on in, I'll be happy. It's movement, it's in the right direction, and I'm learning. That's all I can ask of myself.
Now all I have to do is shake this flu that I somehow picked up over the weekend.. and then I'll be right back into feeling positive and throwing myself into the next week. 

A Disney Challenge

I've been trying to think of ways to add simple challenges on to 'The List' for the past few days now - and came up with the perfect one, with thanks to V at Simply Charmed. You see, I'm a big fan of anything Disney. I am obsessed with the theme parks, I own quite a few of the films and there have been several occasions over the past few years throughout my childhood where I came home from visiting the Disney store with giant stuffed animals. I have a real soft spot for Eeyore, I'll admit it. But how can you not? He's so gloomy all the time.

If I had to pick my favourite of the films, I would say Beauty and the Beast - closely followed by The Little Mermaid and Lilo & Stitch. How about you: do you have a particular favourite?

So.. here's my next challenge: I'm going to hunt down and watch the Disney animated flicks in chronological order. I'll include the list below so you can see the films I've decided to focus on - and if you spot any missing, feel free to let me know. I'm also limited in which ones I can access being here; so some may be skipped, depending on their availability. I've already made a bit of a start, since I declared myself a hermit over the weekend and spent the last two days in bed feeling sorry for myself and watching videos - I got through quite a few, too!
The films:
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: watched 10-July 2010
I always liked this movie, even if it is slightly morbid. I mean, a glass coffin? Really? And the whole love at first sight/sound (tra la laaaa) makes me cynical. Still, Snow White is so beautiful.
Pinocchio: watched 10 July 2010
Jiminy Cricket! Figaro and Cleo make this movie - they really do. I always wondered what happened to the island full of donkey boys though: did they just get left behind? Gotta love the Disney subliminal messaging: that's what happens when you're naughty, boys and girls, mwahaha.
Fantasia: watched 11 July 2010
I tweeted about this yesterday: "Watching 'Fantasia' while feeling ill was probably not a good idea. Good music but wow, my head 
is spinning." And it was, too. The scene with the enchanted broomsticks was more than a little scary. But not as scary as the next flick...
Dumbo: watched 11 July 2010
OH MY GOSH. Dumbo is so precious. I bawled like a baby watching this scene with his momma. LIKE A BABY. And then proceeded to snuggle the cat (much to his disgust) because heismybaby and WAH. And then later proceeded to freak the heck out from watching one of the scariest ever Disney scenes: SWEET JESUS THOSE PINK ELEPHANTS ARE ON CRACK, how is this a children's movie?
Bambi: watched 11 July 2010
I haven't watched this movie in years, because I always remembered what happened in the movie and I was too much of a sook. But, I watched it. And I cried again. And then I enjoyed it, because I love movies with cute and twitchy animals in them - but oh Bambi, GO LOOK AT YOUR BABIES.
Saludos Amigos: watched 12 July 2010
I'd never heard of this one prior to researching this list, but I watched it anyway and um, yep. Cute but wow, did I lose an hour of my life there or what?
The Three Caballeros: watched 12 July 2010
MEH. I get that it sort of follows on from Saludos Amigos, but MEH.
Make Mine Music: watched 12 July 2010
I had this playing while I was trying to nap earlier, so I was kind of half watching and mostly listening. I love what Disney does with music in the films, but to be honest, this was mostly cheese. The first scene would have been better with the 'Claire de Lune' music.
Fun and Fancy Free: watched 14 July 2010
I'll be honest; this one didn't interest me all that much. I was glad they were short.
Melody Time: watched 14 July 2010
As above.
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad: watched 14 July 2010
I never knew this was a Disney movie until now. Huh. 
Cinderella: watched 18 July 2010
Oh, this was lovely! The mice, oh I'd forgotten about them. This is a real classic, I really enjoyed watching it again.
Alice in Wonderland: watched 18 July 2010
Um, trippy? I still don't get this movie. (I always loved the 1984 version, non cartoon, that used to scare the life out of me when the Jabberwocky made its appearance.) I remember my mum once dressed me up as Alice for a book fair: I think if I ever try and do a Halloween party, I'll go as her again. Nice and simple. The caterpillar was definitely smoking crack.
Peter Pan: watched 25 July 2010
He's an ugly little man, isn't he? The way they portrayed the Native Americans was kind of cringe worthy (oh man, that song!) and Wendy's voice is about 50 years older than she is. Tinkerbell is so cute! And Michael's little teddy! Precious.
Lady and the Tramp
Sleeping Beauty
One Hundred and One Dalmatians
The Sword in the Stone
The Jungle Book
The Aristocats
Robin Hood
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
The Rescuers
The Fox and the Hound
The Black Cauldron
The Great Mouse Detective
Oliver & Company
The Little Mermaid
The Rescuers Down Under
Beauty and the Beast
Aladdin
The Lion King
Pocahontas
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hercules
Mulan
Tarzan
Fantasia 2000
Dinosaur
The Emperor’s New Groove
Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Lilo & Stitch
Treasure Planet
Brother Bear
Home on the Range
Chicken Little
Meet the Robinsons
Bolt
The Princess and the Frog

So there you have it: a nice little activity to keep me busy. And who knows? Maybe I'll have a new favourite film by the end, as there are certainly quite a few that I haven't seen on this list: the more recent ones in particular.
Are there any other challenges you think warrant a spot on 'The List'? Leave them in the comments!

Write To Me

I've been feeling really awful for the past few days, super nauseas and like I have a constricted throat - so chances are I'm coming down with something just in time for this next bout of hot weather in London. Awesome! I woke up this morning though and saw that Karen of Dream Once More had written in her lovely handwriting on her blog; and I figured I might just be able to scrounge up enough energy to do that too.

My own handwriting used to be much neater. It was nice and scripted through university, and then I easily managed to perfect the teacher's printing while I was teaching back in Sydney. But a few more years out of teaching, followed by a whole lot of office and computer work has seen my poor freehand suffer!

Funnily enough, I don't really have one style of writing. I can change it quite easily into a different style, so I find it hard to pinpoint what my usual handwriting looks like. Still, I thought I'd give it a go - following these prompts:

1. Name/Blog Name
2. Right handed, left handed or both
3. Favorite letters to write
4. Least favorite letters to write
5. Write: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
6. Write in caps:
CRAB
HUMOR
KALEIDOSCOPE
PAJAMAS
GAZILLION
7. Favorite song lyrics
8. Tag 7 people
9. Any special note or drawing

So here's my handwriting as of today - slightly frantic and rushed, crooked and a little messy... but me. 

Some Notes:
I actually have several songs I could've used - and actually would've chosen 'Everything' as Karen featured on her blog! (We have a mutual love of Lifehouse.) The lyrics I ended up choosing are by the same band, from 'Hanging by a Moment' - this is the song that brought Jase and I together back in 2001, so it holds a special place in my heart!
Consider yourselves tagged if you're so inclined and let me know if you do showcase your handwriting on your blog, so I can come and take a peek. They say handwriting says a lot about a person.. what does it say about you?

On The Wagon

A couple of weeks have passed since I last updated you on my health progress, so I thought I'd touch base on that now and share a new venture that I'm trying out. As you probably remember, I was complaining quite a bit about how my sensible diet and five days per week of exercise weren't making a shred of difference to my weight and/or size - but I stuck it out and kept going, thinking that things would balance out eventually.

It's now July.
 Things are still not balancing. {Insert stomping and general whinging here.}

This is usually around the time that I start getting irritated and am tempted to throw in the towel. 'If things aren't changing now when I'm being strict, I may as well go back to what I was doing before'.. you know, that sort of thinking. But 
NO, I refuse to be run over by the bandwagon just yet. I'm hanging on, even if it is just by my fingertips. I'm trying to keep making good choices (like the salad I had while out for lunch yesterday with a friend.. go Aly, go!) and force myself to keep moving. My gym motivation is wearing down, but luckily I have those classes to keep me going. And there's always the Wii Fit at home if I am truly not fussed.

I wish I could figure out what it is that's making this progress so difficult this time around. I automatically want to point fingers at my PCOS diagnosis because all my research & doctor visits have told me that it'll be more difficult with my insulin levels all over the place, but I just don't want to throw all the eggs in that blame-basket and find out it's something else entirely. What I'm focusing on and trying to remember is the main reason why I am working so hard at this: it's for me - my health, my weight, my fertility and of course, my wedding shape. So I'm pulling out all the stops while I can, and I'm trying something different.

I found a program online that delivers meals to your door - and it's all about portion control. It's not a miracle diet and it's not really anything special, but it's calorie counted already and it lets me pick out what food I want, so no chances of being lumped with a whole stack of dinners that I'll hate. My first parcel is due to arrive today and I'm super excited about it. I'm not going to be a program like this forever. It works for me right now since I have the time for it, but I'm not a silly eater and I know how to cook healthy meals. It's just that I need something to kick-start me; and I feel like a program with every single calorie counted for me might just be the booster I need to get me going. I'm trialling it for a month and if I hate it, I'll stop - but I'm hoping a few pounds will be shed within that month to make me feel motivated and happy to keep pushing forward.

Here's to trying new things... and hopefully seeing some positive results! Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Abracadabra

So I don't know about you, but my email has been eerily quiet this past weekend. I know I'm not alone (shout-out to the tumbleweeds, NPW) but man, it's been kind of sad. Who knew I was so attached to emails? There you go. These past few days have left me with some crazy downtime which (instead of doing useful things like cleaning out our pantry or vacuuming the cat fluff off the floor) has led me to discover that there are a few things I kind of wish didn't exist right now. Well actually that's a little extreme; let me change that statement to 'wishing that they could be altered slightly for the greater good'. Because I'm the centre of the universe and all - surely it's possible?

Carbs. Now I would never wish for a life where they didn't exist... let's face it, if carbs were actual people, they'd totally be my bffs, I love them so. But man, I wish that they could swap their calorie content with vegetables. Because that way, I could eat them with no guilt what-so-ever. And also, I wish that the wholemeal options tasted like the 'white' options, but without the sugar and extra bits that make them naughty. That would be great too.

Cat Fluff. It's everywhere. Everywhere. I'm not sure why I'm noticing it more now - maybe because I'm spending more time in the flat now? But I feel like all I'm ever doing is cleaning it up. And Oscar is a short haired cat! How do you guys with long haired cats manage? (We brushed him the other day and by the time we'd finished, we had accumulated the biggest patch of fur I've ever seen. Seriously, you could've stuck some googly eyes on it and called it Oscar the Second.) I hope this is just a seasonal thing, fingers crossed it'll be back to normal by the time Jason's parents come to visit. They're not big animal people, and we're worried enough about how they'll cope with Oscar - let alone passing judgement on the tumbleweeds of fur flying past them in the breeze.

Hulu. You might be thinking I'm insane and why this has made it onto my gripe list, and it's for nothing more than the fact that I can't use it as I'm not in the USA. Gack! Between this and the US iTunes store not taking my money (!!) how the heck am I supposed to watch/buy mindless reality teevee episodes? I get that it's for copyrighting purposes and all that but really? We see the episodes here at some point - why not share them?

One-sided Blog Relationships. I'm not sure how technical that term is or if it even describes what I'm talking about, so let me explain. I've been blogging for a few years now, so I'd like to think I've seen a few tricks in my time. I've got myself a nice little read-feeder of my favourite blogs, and I'm usually able to keep up with them pretty well - but having noticed that some of my favourites are no longer active anymore, I've been trying my best to venture out and find some new reads to visit and befriend. Commenting is a touchy subject - some people like doing it, others lurk. Can't change that. I like to comment; always have, probably always will, if time permits. But sometimes after reading a blog for a while and sharing comments often, it's a bit disheartening to know that there is no connection there; that while you are enjoying the written words on their part, your own writing goes quietly unnoticed. Now I'm not tooting my own horn here and declaring all of my posts are the bees knees and worthy of comment-love, but even just a response now and again is all it takes to make me feel better that I'm not wasting my time.

Doodle Jump. I can't remember how I found this iPhone app, probably mindless browsing one night - but it's so addictive. It's got to the point that I find myself needing to play a couple of times before trying to get to sleep. I lose thousands of brain cells every time I play it, but I. Just. Can't. Stop. I also can't seem to crack the 23k barrier either which makes me repeat the vicious cycle over and over again. But look how cute he is! Such a sweet little doodler.

The Gym. I'm teetering on the edge of the workout wagon, which is never a good thing! My hyper enthusiastic 5 day a week schedule is making me bored, so I think I need to switch things up a bit. I am still hovering at the same weight (kill me now!) and have launched into some desperate measures to try and start losing - there will be more on this later. Naturally thin people, take a moment and be super thankful for what you have! I doubt there's a way to banish the gym from this solar system, so for now this is just a grumble.. I'll be back in there tomorrow. (Sigh.)
So how was your long weekend (if you had one) - was your inbox as sadly empty as mine?

On Birthdays & Pretty Things

I love, love, love birthdays. I love working out what gifts to buy people, I love nice cards, I love going out for special dinners, and I love it even more when the birthday is my own. Some people dislike birthdays (why!?!) but I love the celebration that comes along with them. To be honest, I would be content with a non-present this birthday. I got the best gift of all last year, we're going to be moving home in six months so really don't want/need anything bulky that we can't take home with us, and I'm perfectly content with everything I have right now.

But, of course, I can always find a few things to swoon about. And since the boy always gets nervous with gifts - though I'm not sure why, since he always does a great job - I thought I'd put together a list of goodies that give me warm and fuzzies, as inspiration! (It's not my birthday until July 31st, maybe it will help him with time to spare?)

1. I have to be specific on this first one, but I'm desperately on the lookout for AMERICAN iTunes giftcards. I want to stock up on some television episodes (will you judge me if I tell you it's for Bridezillas?) and I can't access them through the UK store. Sadly I can't buy a US giftcard for myself, since I have no US credit details/address. Help? I can Paypal you! A big thankyou shout-out to the lovely VBG who has already helped me out with one. 
2. My bronze/brown Havaiana thongs are getting a bit worn down - I suppose trekking across the United States in Summer, as well as two English summers after that will do that to them! I think this classic black top pair will replace them nicely! (My stompers require a Size 8/9.)
3. I've linked to this little beauty before and I'm still lusting over it. Simple and perfect.
Epic Wish: This is my 'I'm dreaming' present option. I'm going to Europe at the end of the year, and imagine the shots I could capture with this baby! Oh, and Jase? It'd be your camera too. I'd share. Promise.
Have I mentioned how much I love birthdays? 
What are you lusting over right now?

July Is For Winners

Happy July, friends. I have to say, this is one of my favourite months of the year - mostly for selfish reasons. It's the halfway point of the year, it's usually leading into cooler weather (back home in Sydney anyway; here it's the start of warm European summer) and it's my birthday month. I love birthdays. Love, love, love.

Plus, if anyone happens to ask me wedding related questions, I can reply with a 'We're getting married in June!' rather than having to explain the month and year. Squee! 
I've been really busy this last week but it's been the good kind of busy - playing host to our lovely visitor and of course, playing tourist through London. We explored the British Museum, saw the Lion King in the West End (where I may or may not have cried during the 'Circle of Life' - gets me every time) and walked so much I literally had to stop in at the chemist and buy some bandaids for my poor blistered foot. This week I was also lucky enough to steal the lovely Lacey and her new hubby Dave away from their honeymoon for an evening. It was so great to meet her in person; they're both adorable and hopefully they didn't find me as boring or rambly as I feel like I am sometimes!
This morning saw me walking to the vet with a yowling Oscar in his cat carrier, since July also means that it's time for his yearly boosters. He's an indoor cat, but I don't like to take any chances with him picking something up - plus, the Australian quarantine regulations have lots of hoops that we'll need to jump through, so it's easier just doing it and having it over with. I love our vet's office here - it's tiny, the staff are so sweet and they always fawn over the cat like you would not believe. Between you and me, I think Oscar knows he has the ladies wrapped around his paw, because he struts his stuff in there and laps up the compliments (and treats.) He's in perfect health and everyone's in love with him, and now begins the long and arduous task of researching (and paying out of our ears) the best way to get Oscar home safely at the end of this year. I'm sure I'll be blogging about that as the time comes.
In other news, I'm ploughing through my summer reads - I had a parcel from Amazon arrive the other day (bad Aly, bad bad Aly) and I also found an Oxfam bookstore with a sale on, so I have around 20 novels to pick and choose from right now. But I'm being good, and trying not to start any new ones until I finish off the few half-read books I have lying around the house: This Charming Man, The Five Greatest Warriors, and The Queen's Fool
It's easier said than done. All I'm itching to do is crack open Breaking Dawn (I KNOW) and Dead in the Family. Must. Be. Strong. I'm loving Goodreads; I always mean to keep a list of books I've been reading but never got around to it.
What are you reading right now? 





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