Sunday, January 31, 2010

1 Month Anniversary - Ben & Jerry's

After a stressful week at work, we had a date night at Manly. We had dinner at a great little local joint, then had dessert and Ben & Jerry's.

 

  

 

I can't believe it's been a month since our wedding. It really feels like it never happened sometimes! It feels like we've been together forever, and it's funny to look down at my wedding ring and think "oh, that's right, I'm married now!"

Summer is slipping away, and the stresses of work, finding a new home to live in (we're moving this week!) as well as everything else are piling up, making it hard to focus on my personal goals for the year. I feel like I'm constantly waiting till "something" is over to start my dreams "When we've moved", or "when this busy week at work is over", etc. It's so hard to find the time to do everything I want, and I'm not sure how to get the time. My goal right now is to spend an hour each night on my projects, but it's hard after work, particularly after working back late.


I'm trying to focus on what I have to be grateful for this year as well, to help me through the times I have getting through. I've started a "gratitude" journal, where I write in it three things I'm grateful for and notes for the day. It's especially helpful when I'm having a crappy day to write in it to focus on the many good things I have going on in my life.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Xenia - Water Cat

Xenia is clearly a water cat. To save our sanity with her incessant meowing at the tap, we bought her her very own cat drinking fountain. As you can see by the video, she totally loves it. Can a cat explode if they drink too much water?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

January: Out and About

I love Sydney in summer. We've had a busy two weeks back at work, going out lots during the Sydney Festival.

At the Opera House after seeing Bale De Rua.


At Spanish Tapas in Glebe.
 

Outside Glebe Point Diner on the way to see Six Characters in Search of an Author at the Seymour Centre.
 


Friday, January 22, 2010

Australian Food Blogger Award@ La Mint Restaurant

I managed to score myself an invite to the launch of the first Australian Food Blog award category, hosted by the Australian Association of Food Professionals at La Mint Restaurant in Darlinghurst with my friend Forager.

I've never been to a food blogger meet-up before, so was super-keen to check it out and meet some more bloggers.

The event was hosted by Australian Pork, and we were shown the new Australian Pork TV commercial before it aired on TV.



Afterward, I stayed for dinner and got to know some excellent bloggers like Peter G from Souvlaki for the Soul and Ed Charles from Tomatom. The food was also excellent - a whole page of the menu devoted to vegetarian options. Yay!

I was inspired to start a new blog just for food, as I find there is a huge lack of Australian food blogs out there. My new blog is Peas For Me - check it out!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Post-wedding - Deconstruction

Yesterday I wrote about my feelings surrounding the wedding. Today I wanted to touch on details of the event.

Decisions I'm Glad We Made

  • To have a small-ish wedding. We had about 84 people and it felt huge. I didn't get to speak to many guests, so I can't imagine if you had more people than that, how you would get to speak to anyone!
  •  Splurging on the venue. Gunners' Barracks was our only choice. We felt it we perfect the moment we saw it, months before we got engaged, and it made our wedding just magical. 
  • Choosing a great photographer early on. We knew we wanted Vincent Lai also well before we got engaged after we saw photos he took of a friend's wedding. As soon as we had a date, we locked him in - and were prepared to be flexible with the date if we couldn't get him. The photos so far have been stunning, and he was a dream to have around on the day.
  • The "thank you" sign I ordered from Etsy.com and made Alec and my mum assemble for me. It made for great photos that we are using in our thank you cards.
  • Spending the night before at my parents' house and the night after at our apartment. It felt home-y and comforting.
  • Going straight from the ceremony into the reception. It was great having everything in the one place and knowing the portrait photos were all out of the way!
  • Having a small bridal party and involving our friends in other ways. Our bridal parties organised our hens/bucks events and helped support us on the day, while our other close friends were our emcee, made our cake, read a poem, performed as usher, sang a song at reception, took care of music, etc, which spread out the ways people could be involved and let them showcase their talents more than if we had a just huge party instead.
  • Asking friends for help and entrusting them with the details. I'm a control freak, so letting go was hard for me. Once I did, it was magical, and our friends all came through in the most amazing way. It also meant the day was really filled with love, as every detail was either made by hand by me and my parents, or by our friends.
  • Organising a wedding in five months. The insanely short time period meant everything was full-on from the engagement onwards, but it also meant no time for dilly-dallying with tiny, insignificant details. I didn't have time to change my mind multiple times about things or fuss over things like flower arrangements. It was a simpler process as a result and didn't mean the entire year or longer was consumed with wedding planning.
  • Keeping a blog and scrapbook of the whole process - I love having these to look back on. I'm getting my blog printed and bound into a book.
  • Getting gorgeous shoes - surprising how many people commented on my shoes!
  • The dress - it cost a small fortune but was totally worth it.
  • Choosing a local florist. Kat from Petals and Leaves lives near my parents. She did an amazing job at a great price and we got fabulous service which we didn't get when trying to get quote from other, bigger, florists.
  • Cutting costs on things we could make ourselves. The DIY projects cause a lot of angst, but were totally worth it. I love that we made all of the stationary (with some help from our very good - and patient - friend Sally). Even though it didn't look especially professional, it really summed us up.
  • Ditching hire cars and using the vintage Chrysler. Rental cars cost a bomb and are no-where near as fun as the road trip we had across Sydney in the Chrysler with the "suicide doors". That's right. Need to be careful as to where one puts one's elbows in a car with suicide doors.
  • Including my bridesmaid Rosalie's three-month-old baby, Chiara, in the ceremony as our flower baby. She wore fairy wings and stole hearts. The perfect beginning to our ceremony.
  • Holding a pre-wedding brunch for people involved in the day. It enabled key people to know each other before the wedding.
  • Engagement photos. Vincent also took these a few weeks before the wedding. It was great to have the dogs involved since they couldn't be involved in the wedding, and the photos looked amazing framed at the venue. Plus, now we have really gorgous photos of our little family framed on the walls at home!
  • Spending a few days up the coast at Nelson's Bay after the wedding to unwind. We were exhausted. Mentally and physically wrecked, so we spend four days sleeping, eating, then sleeping some more. Our honeymoon is in April, which gives me something else to look forward to, and as a result, I'm not feeling any post-wedding blues. Hooray for holidays!
  • Creating a wedding site to give guests info and using a Google form on the site to collect our RSVPs. Made it all very simple to organise.

What We Could Have Done Without
  • The "just married" sign I bought from Etsy.com and had placed on the back of the car. I don't think anyone saw it and it was a hassle for the best man to get on the car in time for our exit.
  • Trying to be creative with sparklers when we were leaving the venue with the idea of getting a cool photo out of it. Better off letting everyone just enjoy playing with them and heading straight to the car in retrospect.
  • Family drama. It was minimal in comparison to what it could have been, but zero drama would have been better.

Things That Surprised Me
  • How much people wanted to help us plan our wedding. It made me feel so loved to know we had such amazing people in our lives who loved us so much.
  • I was sad that the wet weather meant our ceremony had to be held on the terrace instead of the lawn, but when I look at the photos, it looked amazing! 
  • How great our dads' speeches were. So funny as well! Nice job, dads.
  • The fans and tea cups we provided guests with were popular. I thought for sure we would be left with a legion of fans and tea cups to re-home, but they all vanished!
  • How glad I was when it was over and we were married. I felt so much happiness and contentment the next morning knowing the next step of our lives was now on its way.

Cutting the giant cupcake Julia made for us. Don't the cakes look amazing?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Post Wedding - Looking Back

Sunday marked two weeks since our wedding and my feelings about our wedding day have changed so much since the actual day.

On the day I felt a mixture of stress, anxiety, excitement, happiness, and immense pressure to be everything to everyone. I felt quite queasy during the evening as the stress got to me, and felt terrible that I wasn't walking to as many people as I wanted to.

The next day I felt 100% relief that it was over and we were married (yay!). The following few days I was on a rush of pure happiness combined with huge guilt for not speaking to enough people, or getting photos taken with everyone (we had table photos taken with about 50% of the tables, but didn't get to everyone). I also was filled with worry in case people were upset that I didn't speak to them enough or have enough photos taken with them.

Now though, 2.5 weeks later, those feelings have faded and instead, having spoken to so many of our wonderful friends and family who were with us on the day, I feel totally at peace and happy with how our wedding day went down.

What I think of now and remember the strongest, are the feelings of love and pure joy that consumed and surrounded us. I've never seen Alec so happy or smiling so much, and my parents still can't stop talking about how happy the day made them. We've fielded many many emails, phone calls, letters and in-person chats with guests who tell us what a wonderful, loving wedding it was, and it makes me so happy that the focus that we tried to put on all things regarding our wedding day certainly seemed to shine through for everyone present.

My highlights of the day:

  • Alec arriving in the morning and exchanging gifts with me.
  • Getting dressed with my bridesmaids.
  • Road trip to the venue - a vintage Chrysler with no air-con and seat belts, belonging to the best man. Hairy ride to say the least. Seeing the people in toll booths do double-takes when we paid the tolls,  looking like we were on our way to a major costume party - priceless.
  • Seeing my mum in full hostess mode, loving talking to all of our guests.
  • The moments just prior to, and then walking down the aisle, with my dad.
  • The entire ceremony. I thought my face was going to fall off it was so sore from smiling so much. I have never been so happy in my life so far as I was at that one moment.
  • My friend Beck reading the poem "I carry your heart with me" during the ceremony - I got teary. 
  • Accepting congratulations from all of our guests straight after the ceremony finished - so much love it was overwhelming.
  • My sister-in-law Michele and cousin-in-law Liz performing a stunning rendition of "Bubbly".
  • Seeing the cake my friend Julia made for us - it looked stunning!
  • The speeches by our dads. They were so funny and touching, I'm so glad I have them on video.
  • Our bridal dance to the Hawaiian version of "Somewhere over the rainbow". We just swayed a lot, but it was a beautiful moment.
  • My dress - it made me feel like a princess. I want to wear it every day as my one outfit.
  • Calling Alec my husband for the first time. "Where is my husband?!" 
  • Waking up the next day - married! The most amazing feeling ever.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

House Guest - Welcome Xenia

Alec and I ended up with an unexpected house guest who will be staying for most of the year. Xenia is Shelley's Himalayan cat who was in need of a temporary home while Shelley and Eric are off in the UK.

She arrived on Saturday and it has been an interesting transition period for all of us! Xenia is so sweet natured and affectionate, she is a great little friend to have in the apartment. She does however has a persistent meow that keep going after dark. The first two nights we got little-to-no sleep. We bought Feliway, a cat pheromone that is meant to calm down cats, and locked her in the kitchen out of desperation at night. We found one of these worked - not sure if it's one or the other, but she is definitely calming down and settling in. Last night I was only woken once by some meowing that only lasted a few minutes. I count that as success! Hopefully she will continue to feel more at home and stop the night-time singing.

She has a thing for drinking water out of the basin. I caught her doing this last night ...


Close-up - look at that tongue!
 

Dissatisfied I turned off the tap.
 

Slurping off excess that sprayed on her nose. Very tidy.
 

It's really nice coming home to a little person at night, especially since I'm usually alone a lot while waiting for Alec to get home from work or wake up on weekends. Alec is really enjoying having a little friend while he is up late working as well.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Taronga Zoo with the Family

Our overseas guests requested a day at Taronga, so on their last day in Sydney we all met up at the zoo for some siteseeing. It was so great having everyone together. I'm really sad they're leaving for the US tomorrow.

With my brother, Tim.


Dad, Mum, Tim, Michele, Liz.
 

With the new husband!
 

Group shot.
 

Today is our one-week anniversary (woot!) and it seemed almost like a nice circle to return to the zoo, as Alec and I were last there just before we started dating. Our first outing where we started to get to know each other, in August 2006, was at Taronga. Awwww... :)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Mel's 30th Birthday

My friend Mel's 30th birthday party capped off an excellent Saturday night.

Happy birthday Mel! Hope you have a fabulous birthday day and week.



 

Farewell for Beverly

I was beyond thrilled that Beverly and Chris flew out from Shanghai for our wedding. To see Bev off in style, we spent her last day in Sydney in our typical fashion - eating, shopping, and eating some more.

Breakfast for lunch in Paddington.


With Chris, about to begin our shopping extravaganza.
 

Post-shopping, dinner at Counter Burgers, with Emma, Bev and Lisa.
 

The whole gang - check out the photo-bombers in the restaurant behind us.
 

So long for now Bev - hope to see you in Shanghai later on this year!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Nelson Bay Mini-moon

After the wedding, Alec and I head up to Nelson Bay for a post-wedding break. We are going to Hawaii in April for our real honeymoon, so this was just a quick break to de-stress and enjoy being married.

We had originally booked to stay at Amarna Resort, but when we arrived we found it completely unsuitable (no privacy, room with glass wall on the ground floor on a main thoroughfare, over-priced, over-crowded beach). I was pretty upset as it was already 3pm and peak season, so I thought we either wouldn't find somewhere else, or if we did, it would be just horrible, but we were so lucky and found a two-story apartment vacant at Nelson Bay Breeze Apartments. The apartment was roomy, private, with air-con, and only 200m from the beach.

Dinner at Sanook Thai in Corlette. Excellent Thai food.


Nelson Bay - the end near our apartment.
 

Checking out my new wedding ring! Every time I look down I can't believe I'm wearing a wedding band.
 

Marina at Nelson Bay.
 

Newlyweds!
 

Being sun-safe at Fingal Bay.
 

Posing. Of course.
 

Oh hai!
 

Paradise.
 

Stunning weather, not another soul in sight.
 

Wheee we're married!
 

Alec jumps for joy at being a husband.
 

Dinner out at Zest restaurant in Nelson Bay, the wine going to my head.
 

 

Climbing to the summit in the national park.
 

Looking down on Shoal Bay.
 

Self-portrait as the clouds roll in.
 

Yay, holidays!
 

Taking a dip after bushwalking at Shoal Bay.
 

Sweaty bettys.
 

Check out the crystal-clear water.
 

Dinner back at the apartment - pizza and Buffy marathon. Blissful!
 

Last day - morning tea at the Inner Light Tea Rooms, at the Nelson Bay Inner Lighthouse.
 

We had such a fabulous, amazing break, where we spent time just enjoying each other and bring married. It was three days filled with bliss, joy, and so much love it was overwhelming. I'm loving being married!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Post-wedding Lunch and Bridge Climb

Since we knew we wouldn't get to spend anywhere near as much time with our guests as we wanted to, we arranged a post-wedding lunch at Bungalow 8 for anyone who was free to come. We didn't ask for RSVPs, just hoping that we didn't turn up by ourselves, lol.

We were surprised and delighted to find about 15 friends and family make the effort to stop by, including several overseas guests. Result!

We had a fabulous relaxing lunch, finishing it up with some wedding cupcakes left over from the night before.

OMG SO good.


Shanghai guests Chris and Bev.
 

With Lisa and Beck.
 

My family!
 

Masa, my NYC guest.
 

After lunch, Masa, Michele, Liz and I took off to do the Harbour Bridge Climb. Yes this was timing lunacy, but couldn't be avoided. Masa and I had booked in to do the climb the week before but had such terrible weather we postponed to the Monday after the wedding, when Michele and Liz decided to join us as well.

 Masa and I in our sexy suits.


 



After the climb, I returned home, legs shaking, delighted that we were heading off on our mini honeymoon the following day ...