October Goals

I’m in the middle of writing my September Spending Round-Up, and I’m going to be honest – it’s far from as impressive as I wanted it to be. There are several reasons for it, but in the end, the key reasons were lack of planning, and visa applications. October is likely to be another spendy month, which I’m hoping to offset by a relatively impressive set of side-hustle options. However, the discipline of tracking my spend was instrumental in not totally losing the plot as I have in previous months, and allowed me to put $1000 into savings.

This month, I’m aiming for a $2000 savings contribution. It’s going to be tough – I’m likely going to need to fly to Sydney, and incur some very irritating medical costs. This will eat significantly into my savings accounts, even if I try to just use my side-hustle money. Some of the main ways I’m seeking to cut costs and increase income is to heavily reduce grocery spend (when you see my September breakdown, you’ll see how much hosting several dinner parties decimated by grocery spend), to not purchase clothes (save for three pre-planned wedding-related outfits) and to sell some more of my unwanted items on eBay.

My October side-hustles are private tutoring, university tutoring, selling on eBay and Swagbucks. I think this month will be the month I close down my etsy store. I’ve really loved having a little online store, but the stress on top of my normal job, and expenses I have to regularly incur to maintain it, significantly outweigh the income and joy it brings me. I have a few personal projects I want to complete using my Silhouette, but after that, I’ll be selling it online and putting that money towards my savings. It feels like the end of an era, and I do think I’d run another online store, but I don’t think I’d make stickers again. While it is so gratifying to create a product people love and use, it is a surprisingly time-consuming activity, and quickly falls to the bottom of a priority list. My bigger dream is to one day create a stationery line, and I’d rather focus my efforts on that.

My personal goals in October are to close out my very long list of wedding jobs, to catch up on my 365 journal, and to reinvigorate my personal empties challenge. The ever-irritating rent inspection has caused me to deep-clean my bathroom again, and I’ve come up with (somehow) MORE pots of moisturiser that I need to make my way through. The roaccutane is still doing wonders on my face, but my whole body is starting to dry out like a wrinkled prune, so that moisturiser can make a positive difference.

Lastly, I’m seeking to write more. I haven’t been prioritising reading or writing for pleasure; a lot of that is due to a very tough last six weeks, which left little time for self care or self improvement. As I face the last 6.5 weeks as a faux-single gal, I want to make sure I prioritise myself. I’ll share more in the future, but I suffered the very real physical effects of over-exertion for the benefit of others in an absolutely destructive cold, and it was a true reminder of how important it is to reflect carefully before committing to things. Spending time to recharge, however that is done for you, is vital, and your body will tell you if you aren’t helping yourself out.

Looking forward to sharing a little more about my spending report, and wedding progress in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I’m going to take some time to meditate before heading off to my Sunday afternoon tutoring side hustle and dinner with my family.

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Roaccutane: Early Days

So I've talked a lot here about the variety of skin care undertakings that have defined my year. I've trialled all different cleansers, exfoliators, toners, topical treatments, vitamin C, masques and oils. It's been fun. My forehead has smoothed out to that of an 18 year old (okay…a stressed 18 year old, but it's better than the 40-year-old vibes I was getting at the end of 2016). My skin looks much brighter and is softer to touch.

But I could not move the angry red marks on my cheeks. No matter how patient I was, they refused to budge. I over and under exfoliated. I moisturised. I tried gentle cleansers. I switched birth control methods. Then I cracked the shits, got a referral to a dermatologist and, after a bit of fussing around, began the confusingly controversial acne wonder drug, roaccutane.

Roaccutane is basically a big fat dose of vitamin A, that you take orally by tablet. You may recall I tried the topical treatment Differin, which is a retinoid (or vitamin A derivative) a while ago, unfortunately to minimal effect. Roaccutane (also known as accutane), works from the inside to shrink your pores and effectively cure you of acne (this description is definitely woefully inadequate, so I'd give it a Google if you'd like a more comprehensive / accurate summary of the work it does).

When I was younger, I remember a few people (my brother included) going on it, and the litany of scary side effects: depression and suicidal tendencies; not being able to even look at alcohol for fear your liver would curl up and die; severe sun burn; thoroughly dried out skin (think shrivelled up like a sultana); painfully dry lips; and not being allowed to fall pregnant, admittedly not as much of a fear when I was younger. Turns out the main, legitimate, side effects are dry lips and an absolute kibosh on falling pregnant, as vitamin A causes severe deformities to unborn foetuses.

The main things I was warned about was to take care in the sun (particularly living in Western Australia, renowned for its particularly burny sun, and also my painfully pale skin), mitigate the guaranteed dry lips by regular chap stick application, and, as said above, adopt two forms of birth control because pregnancy is a big no. Otherwise, alcohol is fine, just not to excess all the time (although the occasional drunk night is fine), and I would need to have a blood test prior to starting the drug, and before my six week check up.

I was prescribed a 20mg dose once a day for 60 days (leading up to my next appointment), equating to one tablet to be take with food a day. While waiting for the results of my blood test to begin taking the drug, I spent many hours looking at before and after photos, and looking for blogs where people shared their roaccutane experiences. Of course, most were over dramatic. I read posts of people who claimed they were so dry they moisturised their entire body ten times a day, or felt deeply depressed. Some people said they stayed on the drug for years. Some people said they had hangovers for days. On a straw poll of the many friends I have who have taken it in recent years to farewell adult acne, the worst side effect was dry lips and, for some, a sweatier face when exercising.

I've now been on the drug for 2.5 weeks. In the interests of honesty, I'll share my 'progress' in the form of extraordinarily unflattering photos.

Pre-Roaccutane:

All I felt was embarrassed. Big red marks and bumps all over my face.

Week One:


At the end of week one, I'd experienced dry lips (although not as bad as I thought they'd be) and a noticeably dry mouth when I woke up in the morning. Otherwise, generally fine and no emotional swings, no noticeably dry skin anywhere but my lips and thanks to it being winter and me applying sunscreen, no issues with sunburn.

Week Two:


At the end of week two, my lips continued to be slightly dry, and I had the occasional dry mouth. Again… that's pretty much it. As you can see, not much has changed at this stage. I feel as though the acne is getting slightly worse (which I was warned about prior to commencing treatment – minimal to no change in the first six weeks, with a high likelihood of things worsening a little as the drug begins to take effect from the inside out.

I've pared back my skincare routine, as many people warned me your skin gets very sensitive while taking roaccutane. I'm now using a gentle milk cleanser in the morning, followed by serozinc, hydroluron and miscellaneous moisturisers, before slathering on the sunscreen. Evenings, I double cleanse with Clinique Take the Day Off and another milk cleanser, followed by serozinc, hydroluron, moisturiser. Sometimes I'll use an oil because I just love face oils – but generally, this is all my skin has wanted. And during the day, as some of the red cystic acne had come to a head, I will use a little of the Aesop control gel to try cool them out.

I miss using Vitamin C, but I'm holding off to see how my skin goes. I've gifted on some of my fancier products so they get used instead of expiring in my cupboard. But generally – that's all I do!

I'll keep you updated on progress. It's a slow burn, and generally a six month treatment, but I'm feeling confident this is the right choice for me.

30 June 2017

This date feels so monumentally significant to me today, and yet, as always, somehow mundane. In a total chaotic flurry that happened in the blink of an eye but was filled with more weight and people than I could have imagined, the first half of 2017 is behind us. In it is the full spectrum of wins, whims and woes that make up a life. Early alarms, overflowing baskets of washing. Rent inspections. Long, rambling complaints about work. Sunshine and plants. Beautiful friends. Performance reviews. Boozey lunches. Boxing, exercise and more and more and MORE exercise. Meal prepping and Instagram and self doubt. So much self doubt! And somehow, healthy doses of self love. All seasons of all shows on Netflix. Tearful airport goodbyes and long and frustrating calls on every medium offered by a smartphone. Yarn everywhere I look, sometimes turning into something beautiful, and sometimes entangling itself into webs of anxiety. Work idols. Wedding expos. Charity balls and Friday night drinks in windowless rooms, laughing and complaining and sharing and eye rolling. Friday nights on the couch. Learning to paint. Hours on eBay and hundreds of packages. 

In six months, we have a wedding. In many ways I can’t comprehend that reality; and importantly, it is one very large but only one aspect of who I am and what this year is about. 

The goal for the next six months is to continue to build into the kind of person I always wanted to be.  Inner confidence reflected in outer humility. Healthy dose of self discipline with a sprinkling of flexibility. Outward-focussed and committed to others. Follows through. And meditative. 

I’m very fascinated by the picture I have of the kind of person I want to be. She’s the girl I see from the corner of the room, who I desperately want to be friends with. She’s fun and interesting and different, she has strong personal style and looks fit and strong and confident. She gives to others without being submissive and champions them and their achievements. She is kind, but in the non-submissive way. My goal, in the next 6 months, is to build up the courage to meet her. 

Birthday…

I have always been a birthday fanatic. I love the presents and the fanfare and the celebration and the singing and getting to eat your favourite cake. 

And joy of joys, my birthday is tomorrow! The celebration of the end of my 27th year on earth and the start of my 28th. Typically this is the night I begin my exceedingly lengthy list of goals set for the upcoming year, spanning all facets of life from personal to financial to career to fitness. 

But this year, I just can’t do it. This upcoming 28th year on earth is stuffed just about full of every conceivably life-fulfilling thing – marriage, physical distance, moving countries, changing careers, buying a home. I can’t possibly mentally squeeze anything else in. In writing this all down, I realise that there is only one goal: calm. 

I have been blessed with practically every wonderful thing in life, but struggle to maintain a sense of balance and perspective. And so, this year, in amongst every fabulous life high and fear-inducing risk that awaits, I commit to holding on to calm. Equanimity. Balance. With a healthy side dose of balloons.

Point Redemption / Freebie Round-Up

One of my favourite things in the whole world is a good old bargain. I love walking away having purchased an item that has been discounted, preferably twice, and heavily. I love collecting points – it would be fair to say that I dedicate well over 70% of my wallet real estate to all loyalty cards I can get my hands on. I’m a sucker for a free gift with purchase. And I especially love layering up points, freebies and discounts to maximise each dollar I spend.

I’ve written before about my point-collecting obsession, and how it has paid off in flight to Melbourne to visit my childhood bestie and maid-of-honour, as well as four upgrades on a mega-haul return flight to the United States. Of course, I don’t limit my point-collecting to Qantas (although a more comfortable flight experience is what dreams are made of). My primary sources of point-collecting options extends to Flybuys, the MyerOne program, the Priceline Sisterhood and Swagbucks. It doesn’t stop there – I am often sourcing coffee shop loyalty cards (although only when I’m buying coffee, which has currently been cut to once a week #weddingbudget) and checking out what freebies I can get through my health fund.

It’s been a particularly successful few months in my magpie-tendency to collect shiny points and turn them in to benefits, and I thought it was high time I did a round up! Note that earning points is only a benefit if you are buying the things or spending the money anyway. Buying things merely for the sake of earning points (unless it’s a judicious choice – see more below) is a great way to let the big bad corporates win. But on to happier things – like free stuff!

Flybuys Cash-In

Alongside my Qantas point habit, I’ve been extremely dedicated to beefing up my Flybuys account. To do so, I’ve made a point of using the hard copy vouchers that are mailed to you each quarter (although I always go through the self-serve check out when I use them because for some reason, I feel slightly ashamed), which typically get you bonus points – either a 1000 point bonus or triple point bonus on your total shop, with individual bonuses for particular product purchases. I’ve also jumped on board checking the Flybuys website about once a week. By logging in, you are given plenty of online bonus offers.

This month, the Flybuys points total added up to 10,000 points, which I cashed in for a $50 Coles voucher. This kept my groceries to an even $0 for the week (hooray!). My new goal is to collect enough Flybuys points to convert into Coles vouchers to make our annual Thanksgiving extravaganza dinner free. So I am secretly regretting spending the $50 voucher already, but hey – free money is free money no matter when you spend it.

Thanks to religiously checking the Flybuys website, I have amassed 4000 points in the last three weeks. This is mainly due to buying a $30 Dymocks voucher, which generated a 2000 point bonus. Of course, this appears to break my cardinal rule of not spending purely for the sake of points; however, first, 2000 points is equivalent to $10 in a Coles voucher, so the Dymocks voucher has an actual value of $20. Second, with all the birthday events coming up over the next few months, I will benefit from being organised and being rewarded for my spend (since I often buy people books for their birthday anyway). Extra bonus, I have a Dymocks loyalty voucher (are you surprised?) so I can collect points on whatever I purchase with this Dymocks voucher, which can go towards a future book purchase.

So, pro-tip: check out the Flybuys store relatively regularly, and make sure you activate the offers that work for you and suit your spending. The points will add up fast!

Priceline Sisterhood Points Redemption

This particular redemption was quite a nice surprise! The Priceline Sisterhood membership used to be a real pain – I was never able to find my card, and there was no way to look up a member online, or collect the points by calling in later with your receipt (yes, I actually do that). It’s significantly improved in recent months, particularly since you no longer have to wait for any hard copy reward to be mailed to you – they tell you right at the counter when you scan your card whether you have points to redeem! Thanks to my skincare rehaul, I’ve been making a few trips to Priceline over the last five months. It has been worth every cent, as  my skin is clearer and more hydrated than it has ever been. Plus, when I recently went back to buy a new tube of Hydroluron ($35 / tube), I was informed at the counter I had $22.46 I could redeem against my purchase. Best surprise ever!

While I do love Priceline, I am focussing more of my non-high end beauty spend at Coles now, to concentrate my point-collecting to Flybuys. However, there are still products that are only available at Priceline, so I’ll continue to scan my card when I go – just not as frequently as I have been.

MyerOne

MyerOne is just so ubiquitous. I literally don’t know a soul who doesn’t have a MyerOne card. Weirdly, I wouldn’t say I spend a huge amount at Myer, but the points had obviously added up and I had a $20 voucher arrive in the mail. I am hoarding this one until my Clinique Take the Day Off runs out. I absolutely love this product, so will always repurchase, but at a cool $50 a pop, any discount never goes astray. I also am not loyal in my purchasing location for Clinique – it is available across many online stores, as well as at big department stores, and typically has the same price tag, give or take a few dollars which is mitigated by shipping costs. As a result, I just purchase at whatever location rewards me best at the time I’m restocking – for a great example, see my next item!

David Jones Clinique Freebie

I don’t typically shop at David Jones – primarily because I don’t think I’m classy enough (yep). However, I also hate that they don’t have a loyalty program separate from having a store credit card. But, I had been hanging out to purchase the Clinique Extra Moisture Thirst Surge moisturiser, ever since my friend gifted me a sample a few months ago, but didn’t want to part with the $60 for a tub for nothing. Fate shined down on me, and David Jones was running a promotion where if you spent $60, you got a free nine-piece cosmetic bag of samples, which conveniently included a sample of the moisturiser, and the hydrating masque I had hoped to try at some point. Of course, I didn’t stop at the free sample bag – I also requested some samples of one of the cleansers I wanted to try.

Entertainment Book & Crown Towers

The Entertainment Book is, in my humble opinion, an absolute must buy. It offers a tonne of discounts across a variety of services, including retail and travel. This month, I was particularly enamoured with both spending our wedding night at Crown Towers, as well as getting ready for the wedding at the hotel with my maid of honour and mum. Booking through the Entertainment Book got the total price for two nights down by over $150.

Kikki.K Voucher

This one isn’t strictly a points-collecting scheme, but it does show the power of the consumer, and the importance of asking! I received a beautiful leather Kikki.K handbag for my birthday last year. While the bag itself remains in amazing condition, the colour leather on the handles has completely worn away – and this had happened within the first three months of getting the bag. Initially I didn’t do anything at all about it, but it was really starting to bother me that the body of the bag was beautiful, but the overall look was completely undermined when I put the bag down as the handles are so gross. I am a (scarily loyal) Kikki.K customer, and always have my membership noted when I purchase. Annoyingly, you don’t collect points, but I have received a lot of extra freebies for my insistence on spending all my money there, so you know, it probably all comes out in the wash. I contacted the customer service line, explained what had happened, and as the bag is no longer available and no replacement could be provided, I was given a  $70 Kikki.K voucher to compensate. I’m pretty thrilled, since I had been eyeing off a new travel wallet (mine has endured 7 years of exchange, long-distance relationships and general travel obsession and is literally threadbare), but couldn’t justify the cost – typically around $70! Of course, I’ll be waiting until the travel wallets go on sale, since this is far from an urgent purchase, to maximise the value of my bonus $70. But there you have it – ask, and ye is much more likely to receive.

So there you have it! A pretty decent haul, adding up to around $312 in value + a free cosmetic bag with samples. Everything I spent to gain these rewards I had planned for, or fits within my financial rules for the rest of the year.

Oh! And I forgot – I also redeemed two free coffees with some loyalty cards I’d hoarded in my wallet, which was a nice top off to a successful few months.

Like anything, incurring these rewards takes a bit of thought, planning and research. Of course, you can just scan your cards as and when you remember, and the points will eventually add up, and that’s great! But if you’re willing to put in the time, you can really make these programs work for you.

How to pick your wedding colours

In some ways, I can’t even believe I’m writing this post. I had this great idea in my mind that I was going to be this super breezy, chill bride, who just casually throws together a few neat elements and BOOM, instagram-worthy wedding without even trying. In reality, those instagram-styled weddings you see covering the internet involve significant planning, thinking, and creating, to get to the final product – much like any stunning photo, there is work behind it.

As I was trying to pull together the threads of my wedding, particularly, trying to get everything booked in and deposits paid (which means the nitty gritty can be decided on later), I was having a constant low-level panic about what the heck I actually wanted my wedding to look like. I sent my very patient maid of honour a panic email (I know that typically the groom would have to suffer, sorry, help with this part, but my sneaky groom is off in the USA for 6 months, so I’m bearing this heavy burden alone), saying I just had no idea what the heck I wanted! I wanted everything I saw on Pinterest – after all, I only get to be a self-indulgent bride once, and I want my wedding to have all of the trinkets that come with the modern wedding. On the other hand – I wanted the style I saw on Pinterest, not just a panic-strewn room of ill-thought out details, only added so that I didn’t miss out. I wanted cohesion and order, and a real sense of us, while also preserving the desire to have the feeling I had everything I wanted at the wedding (mitigating against FOMO).

That’s when I realised that, despite my original derision, picking wedding colours is a really good idea. Having wedding colours, or a wedding palette, gives you a starting point on which to base everything else. For example, I’m pretty passionate about the glossy white LED dance floors happening at weddings lately, while also loving the soft candle-light and greenery styling, and being besotted with the oversized vintage letters. These are all great things. But if you have all of them, you don’t have a cohesive style, which isn’t a bad thing, but it makes decision-making hard. Not only are weddings dictated by your budget, they are also dictated by your style, and the more decisive you are on both from the beginning, the more fun the rest of the planning.

After my maid of honour patiently wrote back, distilling everything I’d written to her into two clear themes (seriously, the woman is brilliant), I had a better picture of what the options were. And after assessing where I was at the time, I realised I knew exactly what I wanted – which made briefing the florist (and getting a very affordable quote) so much easier. It made picking a dress style so much easier. It made everything so much easier (and also more fun!) because I knew what I wanted now.

Are you as lost as I was? Trying to avoid all bridezilla stereotypes while also trying not to get stuck in a wedding vortex? Just looking for a way to make a darn decision? Then read on my friends, for this is how I discovered my wedding colours.

1. Get a Pinterest account

I know. Maybe you’ve held out for all this time. But I promise you, it will be worth it.

2. Search ‘wedding’ / ‘wedding colours’ / ‘wedding styles’  / ‘party styles’ / bouquets

And then pin the things you find that you like to three boards: Styling Inspiration, Colour Inspiration and Flower Inspiration. If you are wittier than I, feel free to come up with much more interesting titles.

3. Repeat for a few weeks

Just check in whenever you have some down time, and pin a little more.

4. Open up your boards

This is where it happens. You are only pinning things you like, and that stick out to you. Over time, a pattern will develop. And then, when you open your boards, THERE IT IS. Your colour scheme (and, if you’re lucky, your ‘theme’ or ‘style’).

Obviously, this won’t be perfect – sometimes you have a specific taste, other times there’s a vague theme and then, in the middle of it all, you’ve pinned a circus but that circus looked seriously fun. That’s okay. That helps build all the detail around your party. Maybe you have a photo booth. Maybe your wedding takes place inside a circus tent! But the core theme, and the thing around which you base all your billions of wedding elements, will be there, and you will know that you personally created it.

Good luck, brides. Planning a wedding is not for the faint of heart. Although it is so much fun, and in many ways, I’ve never been happier, there is a significant amount of stress-inducing expectation that comes from many external parties, and from yourself. Any time it starts to overwhelm you (including when looking at Pinterest), just take a step back, and remind yourself of what really matters. You get to marry the person you love. You get to have all the other people you love there to celebrate with. And you get presents.

Dusting off (again)

I am exceptionally bad at regular blogging! I have this dream of being the kind of person who writes regularly, and entertainingly, about the little parts of life. A lot has happened since I last wrote. I epically failed my spending challenge, mainly because I tried to cure the sadness that comes with separation with spending and material goods. Surprise: it doesn’t work. I said goodbye to my fiance for the next six months while we trial our next life, and have surprised myself with how quickly I settled back in to a long distance relationship, and at how little has changed.

I’ve been totally hooked on The Good Wife. I did a triathlon! I re-read The Handmaid’s Tale (for the first time since high school…a scary decade ago), and watched the four episodes of the television show in quick succession. I’ve hosted multiple dinner parties, as I work through my cookbook, and kept up my daily journalling project and my daily video project. I have spent time with my darling friends, and I bought tickets to Hamilton the Musical (just purchasing the tickets is a life highlight). I’ve admired the biceps that have come out on display. I did some hard-core wedding planning, and have now booked basically everything that can possibly be booked, and committed the entire inventory of BHLDN to memory. The wedding is now under 8 months away, so I’ve also begun a much more committed #shreddingforthewedding campaign which has involved working out twice a day (doubling up as therapy from the office) and eating vegetarian for dinner, as well as eating fresh and clean foods every day for snacks and not eating chocolate. In a shock twist, I received a free Tim Tam with my Skinceuticals purchase (another eye-wateringly expensive but extraodinarily exciting skincare development…stay tuned), ate it (my first chocolate in ages), and didn’t proceed to binge on any more. I don’t want to get carried away…but I feel as though I may have taken big steps towards breaking a sugar addiction.

My hair is growing, and I have folded a large number of paper cranes (which is simply delightful) for a charity ball. There have been multiple podcasts, the whole season of 13 Reasons Why (and many phone calls breaking it down over and over to work out the flaws and the fabulous of this very unique show). There have been hikes and bike rides, and dedicated skin care self love. There have been loooong phone calls, and the unwelcome return of the Skype call sound; and the unwelcome hello to the even more aggravating facebook messenger call sound.

There’ve been hundreds of cups of tea – rooibos, peppermint and chai on rotation. Fresh ground coffee in the mornings. The high of potential new race goals, and the realisation that sometimes it’s nice to just do things for the sake of it. There’s been budgets…many budgets…so many budgets. Loads of washing, and dirty hair. Consistent morning alarms (successful people wake at 5.30, and so now I wake at 5.30), and compensatory Sunday naps.

And with all of that, the picture of life. It is full of the random moments, the serene and the tears, the restless nights and the streetlights. The joy and the music, and the quiet and the fear. The rising of the sun and the rising of the moon and it happens again and again, but don’t worry, I’m back, and you’ll be stuck with my musings all over again.

Wedding Adventures: The First Foray into Finding the Dress

Weddings are made up of so many things – rings, and vows, and family tiffs, and cake, and food, and terrible dance moves, and planning, and tears, and perfect photos, and flowers, and confusing table decorations, and panic, and questioning. But, at least if the movies / the media / the magazines are to be believed, all of this fades in importance in comparison to THE DRESS.

According to every movie I’ve ever watched (and there’s a lot – I watched Bride Wars on repeat to get me through writing my honours thesis), the search for the dress is a magical time where you waltz into a dress store, and, overcome by the white and the tulle and the sparkle, the lace and the beading and the soft gentle smell of calm bride, you casually point to a random dress, try it on with the assistance of experts who tell you how beautiful you are, only to walk down the runway and onto the block, surrounded by mirrors, while your friends subtley blink back tears and tell you what a stunning bride you are. And boom, decision made. You find THE DRESS, and then go about your merry way being a perfect bride.

Well, that’s a big fat lie. I went for my first foray into finding the dress and it sucked. In fact, it was worse than looking for venues. When I finally escaped from the whole nightmare and got home, I’m not ashamed to say that I sobbed into my fiance’s arms for over an hour (okay I am a little ashamed about that, but it happened, and I can’t change it – it doesn’t even include the drive home where I sobbed by myself. Tragic).

The day started off perfectly. We’d had our engagement party the day before, and I was still flying high on the joyful emotion of that day. I was so excited I woke up at 5.30 that morning. I’d made an appointment at one store, and found another that was open on a Sunday, who hadn’t emailed me back, but I assumed was fine. When it was a more humane hour, I picked up my friend to go meet my maid of honour for breakfast and for a debrief, full of excitement and wedding discussion and life planning. It hit 10 and we left to collect my mum, and it was a real girls adventure to the first store (the one with no booking). I was starting to feel a bit nervous, but we had discussed at length the pros and cons of various styles and it all seemed okay.

We arrived, and the store assistant, sitting there doing nothing, informed me that they had a free slot at 12.30 to try dresses on. Since the only appointment I had for the day was at 12.30, that didn’t quite work for us, so we just browsed. Everything was overwhelmingly wrong: tacky material, weird necklines, no train, weird lace. I felt my hopes start to drop, and thankfully we bailed quickly and got ourselves juices and discussed options for an hour until our next appointment. When we walked into the store, I felt myself give up. The store was full of the worst of the worst in wedding gowns. Everything screamed horrible. I felt like I was having a very bridezilla nightmare where I could not bring myself out of the funk of hating every single thing I hung on my poor body (which was suffering a lot of hatred at the time). I stood on that little wooden block, surrounded by mirrors, and wanted to cry. There was definitely no say yes to the dress moments, and I was dying to get home and put the whole experience out of my head.

The world of weddings is dictated by insanely highly expectations thanks to Pinterest, the millions of wedding blogs, and the social expectation of a perfect, slim, calm bride walking down the aisle having effortlessly pulled together a chic look with the trust fund with limitless zeros that funds every brand name candle making up the complex table settings. This first dress experience sent me crashing back to earth again – realising that in fact, weddings happen in the real world. They happen to women with real bodies, and real jobs, real fiances and families, real budgets and real life emotions.

Since that first occasion, I did go on another search – and had one of those magical moments where tears prick the back of your eyes when you stand in the gown. It was so special, and a moment I’ve looked back on through weeks when work sucked and I panicked about the photographer selection. But the dress is one of millions of decisions you make in planning your wedding, and planning your life, and I’ve learned it’s important to constantly remind yourself to go easy on your dreams and hopes and expectations. Just getting to waltz in to a dress store, with your most special family or friends in tow, to mess around with what you’ll wear to celebrate your marriage, is special. The dress..well…if you can guarantee one thing in life, you can be certain that your dress will be out of fashion in a few years anyway.

A new goal – the 365 Journal

If you’ve been reading this blog a while, you may know I am a little goal-orientated. Properly expressed, I am goal-obsessed. I love goals. The more the better. Big goals, like moving across the world, and being an entrepreneur. Small goals like sticking to my skin care regime or making my bed every day. I turn basically every small part of life into a goal.

I also am obsessed with stationery. I love it more than life itself. I was recently informed by my fiance that we have too much paper in the house. So, when Kikki.K sent me a 30% off voucher last year, to thank me for being an overly spendy customer, I knew exactly what I’d be applying it to. In amongst every single gold desk accessory, I also got myself a 365 Journal. I’ve talked about it a little – my beautiful 2017 cover page was the start of a committed journalling practice.

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I’d been gifted one of these the year I went on exchange to Michigan – I was careful about recording something about each of my days. I do love to collect paraphernalia, and I filled that little book with notes, and pictures and Starbucks cup holders, and it is a really lovely testament to that year. And I knew that 2017 was going to be pretty epic in a lot of ways – lawyering, planning a wedding, planning for visas and moving and living in a new apartment, and pushing ourselves to try new and hard things, and I wanted to record it. I also wanted to use up the vast array of stickers and paper paraphernalia I’d collected over the last two years, and I do much prefer journalling when I make the pages pretty.

So I’ve been sticking to this goal – I journal almost every night, and if I forgot, I make a conscious effort to catch up on the missing days. It’s amazing what you can fit onto one page – and how, when you do journal every day, all the small but magical things that build up your day and life that are so quickly forgotten by the next week. I’m committed to recording these little memories now. The most important thing for me has been recording things, with stickers and my own hand-writing, and not doing it for instagram or facebook. Not trying to capture things for the sake of sharing it, but capturing memories for me. I also just journal whatever comes to mind. I’ve written before about following the 5-minute journal process, and I still think that is amazing and beneficial for growth and building the habit of writing. But I extra love writing about the little pieces that make up my life. I know that I am the star of a movie that only I am watching – but I learn a lot about who I am and why I do things by writing about them at the end of the day. I am proud I’ve stuck to this little goal of mine for almost two months now – and I really look forward to thumbing through my 2017 365 journal in the years to come. And hopefully, my 2018, 2019, 2020 versions…

 

 

Unboxing: Erin Condren Wedding Planner

Is it bad that I knew what wedding planner I wanted months (and months and months) before my darling fiancé popped the question? If so, whatever, I don’t care, because I have had my heart set on the Erin Condren Wedding Planner, and I’m so thrilled I have one in my hands!

Thankfully having overly high expectations did not ruin the eventual arrival of the planner; it is absolutely wonderful and makes the (surprisingly stressful) planning process a lot more fun. I also think it’ll make a really cute keepsake at the end of all of this.

In classic Erin Condren style, the planner came in an absolutely gorgeous box. Annoyingly it arrived on a day I wasn’t at home, so I had to wait an agonizing 24 hours (yep, drama queen) until it was re-routed to work.

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Everything about this is just too much. I love the thought and care that goes into some decent wrapping, especially when you’ve forked out the big bucks for a luxury product.

As with all Erin Condren planners, you can customize the cover. I had picked out the fireworks style for a while – I wanted something sparkly and fun, but not too girly (so no flowers). Of course you can purchase any other cover any time, but I’m happy to stick with this one, especially since we’re planning for our wedding to take place on 30 December, right around New Years 🙂


The inserts are great – the cover page made me extremely excited. There is a tab for each month of the year (which, luckily for me, was calendar year – but you can pick the starting month and whether you need 12 or 24 months).

And then for the serious stuff – places for lists!! The tips and suggested schedules are really helpful, since there are more moving parts than you’d even think with a wedding, and it was a great trigger to remember to do certain things, or at least write down they’re needed for later.

 And it wouldn’t be an Erin Condren without a tonne of stickers to come with it! There was a promotion on where you got three sets of stickers with your planner, plus it came with customised wedding related stickers at the back.


So planning my wedding has been so much more sticker-filled fun than I even thought! While this planner does set you back a pretty penny, I do think it will make a really fun memento of the process. I’ve filled pages with collages of images I liked from bridal magazines (like a real-life Pinterest!) and collected together the various paper paraphernalia from bridal expos so that it’s all in the one place. I brainstormed venues and thank you cards, and tracked our engagement gifts. And I even filled out the budget section, and started tracking the money out (although I’ll be setting up a proper and comprehensive spreadsheet to that effect – numbers move and change, and you need all the help you can get to avoid a wedding blow out).

This wedding planner has been a source of so much fun to me – and I’m so happy I went for it! I’m excited to keep filling it up with ideas and inspiration 🙂