Three Sixty Five Days of Hipness

I've held off on plugging a little project of mine for the past month - mainly because I wanted to see if I could stick to it properly, but also because I wanted to let it grow a bit before I share it. See, I kind of forgot to set myself resolutions this year - though that was kind of accidentally on purpose, you know? Rather than make a big song & dance about resolutions, I decided I'd focus on trying a few things out this year. These are the top contenders:

  • Have a wedding that is all kinds of fabulous
  • Make myself as appealing on the eyes as possible before the aforementioned fabulous wedding day, and afterwards too, of course
  • Document the little things that happen in our non-travelling, home-bodying existence
  • Save money by watching a whole lot o'television & reading a whole stack o'books
Let's face it: most of those will be a work in progress for the rest of my natural life. But one of them I've begun to document via blogging. I started a Tumblr account at the end of last year & have been uploading a picture each day since the first of January. It's my take on the 365 project, but I've added my own little twist to it, using the Hipstamatic iPhone app to take each photograph. Here's the link, as well as a few token pictures for good measure.
Feel free to add it to your readers or follow along every now & again - especially if you're as in love with slightly off-centred & golden-shuttered pictures of incredibly random images, as I am.

My Mistake

Have you ever made a decision about something that ultimately came back and kicked you up the butt?

I have. And it did.

It was in that post-engagement glow period, where all I wanted to do was tell everyone! make decisions! book the entire shindig! all in the space of about a week. I was so far away from friends & family while we were in England, that I was itching to share all of my big plans with anybody who was willing to listen. (And even some who weren't willing to listen, if you know what I mean.)

One of the first things I wanted to do was to choose my bridal party. Before I was even engaged, I knew that I'd be asking my bestie, Miss K, to be my Maid of Honour - it was a given. But as for other bridesmaids? I wasn't sure. Newly engaged Bees, this is where I give you some advice: don't pick your wedding party too early. It's common sense for most people, but from personal experience, I know how tempting it can be to go with the moment and get busy asking straight away.


I asked two other girlfriends to be bridesmaids for me: one, a university friend of mine, who is one of my all-time favourite people and is always there for me, even when we're thousands of miles apart. Miss E is one of those rare friends that don't come along every day; the kind where you can not see them for months, organise a catch up session & feel like not a second has passed. She's brilliant and was thoroughly excited to be a part of our wedding day.

And then there was my final bridesmaid: let's call her Miss X. I've known Miss X for the past few years, though since she lives interstate I don't see her as often as I'd have liked. She is a mutual friend of Miss K & I - so I had grand visions of us having epic planning sessions and enjoying our time doing all things wedding together.. and, well, it seemed like a good idea to ask her at the time.

There were a few warning signs that things weren't starting off well. My parents, while polite about my decision, were worried that she, being a few years younger than myself, wasn't the right choice for a bridesmaid. (I believe Miss X sealed the deal with them when she made jokes at our reception venue about being placed near the 'open bar': I could see visions going through my mother's head of drunken and belligerent bridesmaids sloshing alcohol all over the pretty carpet.) While looking at bridesmaid dresses, Miss X shot down every single one of my suggestions: no long, no fancy, no satin, no strapless & also wasn't very supportive of my colour scheme. I'm not a diva of a bride, and I don't even have a specific dress that I want my girls to wear, but I felt like all of my suggestions were being thrown back in my face. And the last straw for me? Along with Miss K, we travelled through Europe together this past October as a threesome. Arguments happened, feelings were hurt, and true colours really shined through - suffice it to say that through travelling, I learned a lot about Miss X that I hadn't known before. After our travels were over, I finally stopped and listened to all the alarm bells ringing in my head, before realising that I'd made a huge mistake: I should never have asked her to be a bridesmaid.

Guys, there is nothing harder to do than to tell someone that you're sorry, but that you don't think that their being a bridesmaid is the right decision to have made. Since I had no phone access at the time, I spent days drafting the perfect email that would explain the situation to her and when I finally sent it off, I felt awful. I knew it was the right thing for me to do, but that didn't stop me from feeling bad about doing it. Since I was still overseas at the time and with limited phone & internet access, I received her response a few days later: she was upset but she understood and hoped we could still be friends. I was relieved and thoroughly happy that she seemed to have taken things well, and on a personal level, it felt like a massive weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Unfortunately, the next week when I checked my emails once again, she had experienced a change of heart & sent me a long and hurtful email, ending with a request to 'not bother inviting her to the wedding, it would be too awkward'. I'm sad she feels this way, but I do understand the awkwardness -so I don't hold it against her: it would've been hard for any friendship to survive that whole debacle.

Here are a few tips that I learned throughout my whole snafu of an experience:
  • Like I said before, don't rush when it comes to asking your nearest & dearest to be in your wedding party. Particularly if {like yours truly} you have a VERY long engagement - there's no real need to get that sorted immediately, and you never know what might happen in twelve or eighteen months time.
  • Weigh up your pro's & con's of asking each member - what is your friendship or relationship like now? Has it gone through any weak spots? Do you see your friend still in your life in 1, 5 or 10 years time? Do they get along with your family members, your fiance?
  • Trust your gut instinct. If you have a niggling concern, listen to it. You can always involve your friends in other wedding-related activities without having them be a bridesmaid, which is a potentially safer option if things go sour later on.
  • If in doubt, fix things early. I was lucky in my situation, because no financial decisions or purchases had been made when it came to the girls. Things only get harder when money is involved - so I'm blessed that I made my decision early.
So that was my epic mistake when it comes to wedding planning so far. In a way I wish things had turned out differently, but I know now that I did the right thing and should have gone with my gut feeling all along. Oh, and in case you were wondering, I have a new third bridesmaid now: one who I was honest with sharing my story with, so that she wouldn't feel like a 'replacement' bridesmaid & who my heart tells me is a very, very good choice.

Originally posted on Weddingbee: view it here.

Wedding Related Lovely Stuff

So it's about time I caught this here blog up with everything wedding related, I think. I've been a busy little bee (excuse the pun) writing as Miss Jaguar at the Weddingbee blog, but I realise I've completely neglected to keep YOU, my lovely blog friends, up to date with all things wedding.

Along with travel recaps & general life happenings, expect to be seeing a whole lot of wedding related goodness popping up in your readers over the coming weeks. It's time to get this blog moving again, so let's get to it!

So. Wedding stuff. One of the hardest things that I've learned to come to grips with when it comes our ceremony, is the lack of freedom. A Catholic ceremony, while beautiful and traditional in its own right, is very rigid in terms of how it works. It's still a wedding celebration, and it's still about the couple, but it's based on the principles of the church - so you work within their guidelines to enjoy your ceremony.

There are still a whole stack of ceremony details we haven't gotten into yet & won't be tackling for a few months yet. You'll hear me talk about more in depth ceremony details later on down the line, but for now? It's all about the music. Now that's something I can research without being there in person.. fabulous!




I would've loved to walk down the aisle to something I picked myself - a church appropriate song, of course.. no busting it out to Akon's 'Sexy Chick' as one of my bridesmaids is longing to do! All of our music choices need to be approved by the church though, so we're not left with a great deal of choice. That means that my dreams of walking down the aisle to 'Everything' by Lifehouse, aka: the band that brought us together, was out the window.

One option, if the church & priest agree, is to find an instrumental version of a modern song that we love and see how that goes. I've been scouring You Tube and online for covers of songs, whether by piano or by guitar/strings, and there are loads out there. Unfortunately, none has jumped up and screamed 'I'm the one!' - except I did find a guitar instrumental of 'Everything' that is a pretty big contender.

The more common option is to go with classical music, which is what I'm leaning towards right now. I'm pretty sure I'm going to choose 'Canon in D'. {Click for link} It's classical, but not quite so obvious as Wagner's 'Bridal Chorus'. Also, I could listen to it for hours on repeat, it's just so beautiful, so that's a good sign. I love how it builds up - from soft at the beginning, to more pronounced as it goes on. I think that would work really well with our Catholic ceremony, since the church I'm using prefers you to use only one piece of music for the entire procession.

The next step is to try and figure out how we'll get the music played on the day: if my budgeting goes well, my dream would be to have a string trio playing in person before, during and after our ceremony. I'm already swooning at the thought of how beautiful that would sound in our cosy little church. That's not a necessity though, as much as I'd love it to be one, so next up will be getting everything onto audio copy and seeing how that works in the church's facilities.

Any other church-friendly music suggestions out there? Spill the beans!

An Aussie's Travels: Lucerne

Spending a bit of time in Lucerne is always nice. Tucked in next to a lake and in the shadow beautiful Swiss alps, it's a picture perfect town, even in winter. The last time I visited Lucerne, we were lucky enough to actually stay overnight in the old hotel at the top of Mt Pilatus - so I had high expectations and fond memories. This time around, we stayed in the suburbs, a little bit of a commute away from the city centre.
We caught a bus into town in the early hours of the morning, and strolled around for quite a while. It was eerily quiet then too, and though we passed a few people headed for work, the tourists hadn't yet emerged from their hotels or bed & breakfasts. In the beginning, it was so foggy that you couldn't even see Pilatus towering over the town, but it cleared up nicely as the day progressed. The Lion Monument is always a must in Lucerne (can you see the pig?) as are all of the kitschy Swiss shops - chocolates & macaroons are to die for in this town. 
Having explored the town on foot, we wandered over the Chapel Bridge, meandered around the maze of back streets for shopping, and then had a coffee overlooking a farmers market that was going on next to the lake. So many locals were out walking with their babies or with their dogs, it was just the most comfortable and relaxed place - completely opposite from our previous stop in Paris. For lunch, I went for the traditional fondue: wow, that was some strong cheese. That was followed by a sausage and potato dish that I practically inhaled, it was so good. 

Switzerland isjust precious. 
For more countries visited on this whirlwind trip, you can start reading from here:

How's my Dialect?

I can't help it - I'm a followed AND it's been months since I v-logged. Here's the video: and here are the prompts that I discovered through the lovely Britt's blog - I wish I had as cute an accent as her Canadian one!

Also: WHY must my frozen screencaps in Vimeo always be so revoltingly unflattering? Ugh, it's terrifying.


Say these words: 
Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught

Now answer these questions:

-What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
-What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
-What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
-What do you call gym shoes?
-What do you say to address a group of people?
-What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
-What do you call your grandparents?
-What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
-What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
-What is the thing you change the TV channel with?

Introducing: Our Little Apartment!

So after a few full days of cleaning and unpacking, as well as impromptu fit of chaos thanks to a faulty telephone line & random real estate inspections, we're finally settled. Oscar is back with us again {phew!}, we have our little laptops connected to the interwebs, and we're mostly all done here. Now we can relax, I hope!

Anyhoo, enough with the boring stuff. Onwards to the pictures! Let's start with the lounge/dining room. This is my favourite room of the house: it's big, lots bigger than our last place, and it's light, airy & just plain comfortable. Plus, the telly & the laptops live out here, so it's here we spent most of our time. There is also an air conditioning unit here too, which may be another reason why I'm always, always in here. Maybe. Probably. Definitely.

Here's the view as you walk in the door:
And here's the view looking at the room from the opposite side:
Ah, my wee vase of sunflowers: they've been in my room for as long as I can remember, and I love that they've transplanted (ha!) with us here to the new place. Also, I adore our new scattering of furniture - we are living off hand-me-downs for the most part, but all the off-white stuff that you see is from my shop o'dreams, Ikea.
What's that? You want a closer look at the bookshelf? Sure!
This is only half of my DVD collection. Mama needs more space! You can also see the artwork I had commissioned by an artist on Etsy; it was a Christmas present for Jason & will also be making an appearance in our Save the Date cards for our wedding. I love it so.
We even splurged and *gasp* bought a dining table for the first time. Why is that weird? Well, in London, neither of our flats had one included & we made do with eating on our laps. It's SO nice to actually have proper back support while eating and geeking it up online. Having a table makes us feel like grown-ups.
Moving on to our teeny tiny but loveable kitchen:
It's not huge, but it's got everything we need. It's also got a surprisingly large amount of storage space, which is lucky because we had a surprisingly large amount of 'stuff' for the kitchen that we brought with us. Except for baking trays. I forgot to buy baking trays. Must remember to buy baking trays.
Leaving the lounge room now, this is the hallway leading up to the bedrooms. I'll spare you a picture of the laundry and the loo, but they're in their own separate rooms that are off to the right of this picture. Again, it's so nice to have a laundry! In the UK, washing machines are usually somewhere in the kitchen. So weird.
This is the spare bedroom - but for us, it's our storage room. When we're set up and have some funds, we'll invest in a PC for the desk there, but for the meantime it's just for boxes. Oh, and also Jason's clothing! The wardrobes are really small in this place, so we've had to split the cupboard space - my stuff is in our room, his stuff is in here. Compromise. We go well together.
And last but not least, the main bedroom. We didn't buy any furniture for the two bedrooms - these were all pieces we were given from our parents when we moved out. They were both our childhood (well, teenage, really) bedroom sets, so I'm sure the parents were glad to be rid of them and get some storage space! 
We also have a hidden ensuite in our room: I say hidden, because it's located RIGHT BEHIND the main door to the bedroom. So, for example, if you open the bedroom door and walk in leaving it open, you wouldn't even know it was there. You only see the door once you've shut the main bedroom door. Confusing, eh? I wouldn't have even noticed it, save for my mum poking around when we viewed the property before renting it.
So that's that: our new place. 
We're lucky in that it's in a new complex, so we're the first ones to live here & it looks modern and really does feel shiny and new. We have our own undercover locked garage, an intercom system & our own lift - even if it doesn't go all the way up to our floor! It's cosy, and it's starting to feel like home already.

Things I've Been Up To

  • Moving. Which you'd know if you're a friend of mine on Facebook or Twitter, because that's literally all I've talked about for the past week. Packing, unpacking. Cleaning, more cleaning. I'm on to my final project - sorting out the clothes & storage space in our main bedroom. After that, it's organising boring stuff like filing and paperwork. I promise I'll put some pictures up asap, I've been taking them as I finish each room, but I'm not quite there yet.
  • Driving. Yes, I've quickly fallen in love with my new car. It came home with me on New Years Eve, and I've been driving as much as possible ever since. I'm not as terrible as I thought I was going to be after three years not being behind the wheel, but once again, I've discovered I cannot park. Really. I fail at parking.
  • Friending. It's been SO good being home and spending time with the bff. She puts up with my crazy, lets me drive like a grandma without commenting, and doesn't judge me for being unemployed, stingy & on a major budgeting kick, with the house stuff & wedding stuff eating away at my dismal savings.
  • Bridesmaid-dress-buying. You heard that right! After shopping with Miss K & picking out two top contenders, I managed to wrangle all of the girls together for an afternoon to a) meet each other, and b) try them on! I didn't really expect a decision to be made straight away, and I was totally open to letting them decide whether they wanted to pick their own unique dresses, or go the traditional 'matchy-matchy' route.

    They tried on a few and all decided that they liked the one style - which came in my ideal colour preference, slate grey, and that was that. They all looked smoking hot, the dresses were absolutely stunning on them, and we managed to keep it mostly on budget. I can't wait until three-four months goes by so I can see them all in the right shade, side by side. And the best part? Rather than just paying for a deposit of the dress, all three decided to pay up front to make it easier on everybody. I'm seriously the luckiest bride-to-be around, I really am. Couldn't ask for better bridesmaids!
  • Internetting. Or at least I'm trying to - doing everything off wifi at the moment, thanks to the snafu of epic proportions involved with an apartment rented out with no phone line installed. Anywho, I'm still a little behind on my blogging, both here & at Weddingbee. I tend to blog a lot when I'm in the right frame of mind, and I haven't had a big spurt in a while. I'm pretty sure I'm due for one. Now, if only I had more interesting things to talk about, apart from our new apartment, the cat & the wedding. No, wait, that's my life right now.
  • Blog-friend-meeting. I've had a pretty hectic start to my 2011 so far: in the first week of the new year, I was lucky enough to meet two lovely Sydney bloggers who I've been friends with online for some time now. The first, Jade, is currently living in London - and I'm sad she is headed back there so soon, as she was so lovely in person. The second, Carly, is super sweet & lives close to home, well, my 'old' home - and I hope we can hang out again soon. I love what blogging/tweeting can do!
  • Operating healthy-ing. It wasn't a resolution of mine this year; to be honest, I never really made any. Instead, it's more of a continuation of last year's goals to keep on moving down into a healthy weight range. My last weigh-in, three months ago in October, saw me at 88kg. Since then, thanks to travelling & the holiday season, I've put on a few more kgs, so I'd say I'm back up near to 91kg? {We have no scales here, so I'm just guessing.} I feel frumpy, what a difference a few kilos can make, and I'm back on with a vengeance. When we shopped to fill our cupboards, we only bought healthy stuff & a few low calorie treats, and I've been doing well so far. It's nice to get back into the routine, you know? I'm looking forward to going for some walks around our new neighbourhood once things settle down a bit, because we can't afford a gym & that's all I've got to use at the moment. No excuse: it just means I have to get my butt out moving more. 
What have you been up to so far in 2011?

Annnnnd.. we've moved!

You know, I always thought I was a pro when it came to moving house.

Moving to the UK doesn't really count, since I left most belongings at home & focused on packing my humble little suitcase. The first real move that we went through was the switch from East London to West London, halfway through our time overseas. I loved packing our things and getting everything sorted and labelled. {Though I didn't love the cleaning that came along with it, I'll admit.} I loved being able to unpack at our leisure, to be able to choose where I wanted things to go: which drawer, which cupboard, where to put the furniture? Call me obsessive compulsive, but I loved it.

We packed up ready for our move back to Sydney too, of course - but I can't comment on that just yet, since our boxes are currently somewhere in a port waiting to be examined by quarantine: if we get them back sometime in the next year, I'll be happy.

Also, a brief side-note: I feel like I've paid more than my due's to the Australian quarantine sector, first the obscene amount of money needed to get the cat brought over, and now for our boxes - I'm just going to put it out there and say NO, we have not smuggled in any exotic birds, wood products or seeds, and I'd really, really like it if you sent our boxes to us soon because I'm tiring of wearing the same four summer outfits over and over again. Phew, epic sentence right there. Sorry about that.

Moving right along: this is the first time either Jase or myself have moved house here at home. I found the perfect rental apartment before the holidays, but the move-in date wasn't until Friday gone by - so we had plenty of time to prepare. After researching removal vans & nearly dying at the insane cost of hiring one for a few hours, my dad offered to drive a rented van for the day, and he, Jase & future-fil spent the day loading and unloading box after box.

We were lucky. Our flat came unfurnished, but we had hand-me-down furniture from both of our families, and we had lots of accumulated gifts {mostly kitchen related - like fry pans, kettles, cookware} that made it super easy to move. Add in a crazy trip to Ikea with Miss K a few weeks ago, where I picked up a trusty dining table, bookshelf and side table, and we ended up moving a lot of stuff.

The apartment is gorgeous. It's brand new, never been lived in before - done up in very neutral colours and has a lot of space. We even upgraded to two bedrooms, a good decision because of the amount of belongings we have now. I can't show you a picture yet, because it stills look a little like a war zone, but it's fabulous. The only downside is that it's upstairs: the boys were completely stuffed after hiking up and down carrying furniture and boxes. We couldn't have done it without them! There have been a few minor problems so far: we only got one key for the front door instead of two, our intercom doesn't seem to work, and it turns out there is no phone line connected in the place.. but they're things we can work with.

The hardest thing we're dealing with right now is keeping Oscar-cat a secret. We smuggled him in on our first night with no problems, but we have to keep him hidden for the whole time we are here. It doesn't help that for the last two nights, he's cried. all. night. I've hardly slept for fear that someone is going to knock on our door and complain, though I'm sure the walls are thicker than I'm imagining.

Pictures to come soon, but in the meantime - tell me what's the favourite room in your current place? Maybe it's because this room is the most 'finished', but I don't want to leave our new lounge/diner area. Like, ever.

Blog 1000

I didn't wake up this morning thinking I was going to be writing a ground-breaking blog piece. In fact, I was feeling particularly rushed, since I have so many things that need doing before the big move (!!) into our new flat tomorrow, that I was planning on using bullet points. That was until now, when I realised I was sitting at 999 posts - making this one the big one thousand. That calls for something a trifle more reflective, yes?


This blog has documented a lot of things during it's 1000-post history, including:

  • My first two years fresh out of university & learning on my feet as a beginning teacher
  • A few name changes, most recently from 'Aly---bear' to 'Breathe Gently'
  • Pets that we've lost in years gone by: Max, Lucy, Bella
  • Pets that we've gained in years gone by: Bailey, Oscar-cat
  • Moving overseas to London & our three years spent abroad
  • Countless travel opportunities, to places near and far
  • Mine & Jason's relationship, from dating, to long distance, to living abroad together, to engaged & finally planning our wedding - woo freaking hoo!
  • Meet-ups with blog friends, all over the world. If you'd told me six years ago that I would've met strangers from the internet, I would've laughed at you. Now, I feel like such a lucky person to count those 'strangers' as 'friends'. They're just scattered, kind of long distance friends, is all!
I've gained readers along the way, I've lost readers along the way, my stats soared and my stats fell. I've blogged daily, I've blogged sporadically, I can't tell you how many memes I've filled out in my time, but I've finally come to accept that this blog changes along with me. At the moment, it's pretty devoid of wedding stuff - because I've been blogging every few days about that over at Weddingbee (are you reading it yet? are you?) but since time has started to speed up again, I'm sure that my blogging will take off again with it. 
2011 is going to be a pretty big year, and I'm so glad I have this outlet to channel it all into. I'm so grateful to everyone who's been there with me for the ride so far.. and for sticking around to see what comes next. 
Blogging would be nothing if it wasn't for the people I've met along the way. Thank you!

An Aussie's Travels: Paris

The last time I attempted to do travel recaps, I got half-way through my American road trip & then got sidetracked, never to finish it again. It's a shame, really, because some of my favourite shots were taken in Washington & New York City. Maybe one day I'll go back and highlight some of my memories from that trip.

Instead, I'm going to go right ahead and catch up with my (somewhat-epic) travel recaps from the last few months. The first month was travelling with Miss K, rediscovering Europe in Autumn and very early Winter. I hope you'll enjoy my little adventures, or at least the pictures that go along with them.

Oh, how I love Paris. 

Really, I can't put how much I love Paris into words. I feel so lucky that I was able to visit this beautiful city on so many occasions - twice with Jason, once with my little brother, and twice with my best friend. It's so big and so vast that every time I visited, I got to see something new and different. I find it very easy to fit in there, despite being a very obvious snap-happy tourist: it's a city I could see myself living in one day.

This visit was only fleeting, but we crammed in lots of sightseeing, as would be expected. This time, I got to explore Les Invalides & Napoleon's Tomb, as well as Montmartre & Pigalle by night. Okay, enough with the talking: it's time to get on to the good stuff: the pictures!











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