Home sweet (expensive) home

Along with our wedding, we’re also house hunting. Whether you’re looking to rent or buy finding a home can become a very stressful process. But only if you make it one.

As your weekends become filled with open houses, measuring tapes and deciding whether the couch you love so very much will fit in the corner of the living room, slowly slowly you begin to realise how much there is to actually think about when it comes to choosing a home together.

If you’ve found the home, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

When you walk into your home… you’ll just know it’s the one.

It’s choosing which direction it faces, making sure the kitchen is in working order, making sure it has the right amount of bedrooms and bathrooms, whether there’s an internal laundry, whether there’s a parking spot… and through it all, it’s two people who have to be satisfied.

While we know what we want, my fiancee and I don’t believe we’re being too picky when it comes to our search. It has to have a balcony, at least one parking spot and if it’s a walk-up, no higher than first floor (let’s face it, baby #1 is going to arrive in this apartment and who wants to lug a pram up and down four flights of stairs or more?)

Trouble is, there’ll always be something wrong with the place. You could be in love with the size, but there’s no bath. Or the kitchen could be delightful, but the living space is too small.

We’ve seen several apartments that we both love. And while a few of them have satisfied the criteria, none of them are our home.

It’s like the perfect dress. When you put it on, you just know.

When you walk into your home… you’ll just know it’s the one.

Despite the strangers milling around you, you’ll picture yourself there with a glass of wine in your hand and the TV blaring with your favourite show. Yes, there may be some imperfections, but over time they’ll become your imperfections and you’ll grow to love them even more than the best features of your home.

My advice when house hunting: take a moment to let the atmosphere sink in while you wander through the rooms. Can you picture yourself there?

Guess who’s back

Ok, so I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus for the past three weeks. With all the public holidays and four weddings, I’ve barely had time to breathe.

But let’s talk about it.

With my own wedding less than three months away, a question I was frequently asked was whether I was making notes as I attended the four other beautiful celebrations.

Truth is, most of my wedding is already organised. While I am exceptionally anal when it comes to organisation, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to stay ahead of the game.

That’s not to say I didn’t learn a thing or two.

At wedding number one, I learnt how to deal with change. Bride number one’s ceremony was supposed to be outdoors, but due to the 40 degree heat, it was moved indoors. Side note: best decision she made! I sat with her while she mourned (yes mourned) the loss of what was, in her eyes, the perfect ceremony. She needed the moment in the bathroom sobbing her eyes out to come to terms with the change. It’s ok to cry. But then remember to move on.

At wedding number two, bride number three was fretting about the differences between the current function and her own. Should she also have the buffet entree? Should she have chosen a different dress? Should she change the music? To top it all off, she didn’t even enjoy the night because she was too busy stressing. Me? I took notes … of how not to act the week before my wedding. Honestly, what’s the point? You can’t change much by that time anyway.

Wedding number four was a beautiful ceremony in the gardens of a function centre … in the rain.  Yep. You read that right. All the guests were huddled under umbrellas while the bride and groom were wed. Thank goodness it wasn’t bucketing down. While it does add a bit of atmosphere, I can guarantee that many of the guests (read: ladies) were worried about their hair and dresses, rather than focusing on the beautiful moment in front of us. Nevertheless, the bride looked beautiful and the couple were ecstatic. And really, that’s the main thing, right?

I guess the number one thing I learnt throughout the two weeks is that no wedding will ever be perfect. Mine definitely won’t be. I’m absolutely positive that things will go wrong. But at the end of the day, who cares? What’s important is how you deal with the challenges you’re faced with on the day.

And really, what else matters except the fact that I’m marrying the love of my life?

The other thing I realised… I absolutely LOVE weddings!

I don’t like cricket … I love it?

It’s cricket season again.

I know this because the TV is always on and my fiancee hasn’t spoken about anything except wickets, pitches and batting averages for a while.

My television has been on Channel 9, and then GO when Channel 9 moved to the news (how dare they!), the whole day. Even while we celebrated my birthday with 20 close friends this morning.

I’ve grown up in a cricket household. Despite my dad having two daughters, he got lucky with my older sister. While I was at dance recitals and music lessons, she was at the cricket with my dad. The Sydney Test was daddy-daughter time. Eight years ago, when her husband came onto the scene, he joined them. And seven years ago, when my fiancee joined the family, it suddenly became a four-person excursion.

I hate to say it … but the only way to beat them, is join them.

I just queried something the commentators said. “Will Australia retain the ashes?” Hang on… don’t they mean REGAIN? My fiancee is constantly surprised when I mutter something about the cricket, when I tell him about a wicket, or when I show some interest in the game.

Truth is, I never disliked cricket. My sister just liked it more. My fiancee likes to think he influenced me in my appreciation of the game. In his words, he eased me in – taking me to a 20/20, then a one-dayer and then finally to a test match.

I hate to break his heart, but this appreciation of cricket has been 27 years in the making. My mum and I have been dealing with cricket for a very long time, especially my mother who dealt with a cricket-husband until he put away his wicket-keeping gloves when my sister was young.

So while he can claim victory all he wants, truth of the matter is, when my brother-in-law and my fiancee turned up, mum and I just became outnumbered. We eventually succumbed.

Wedding bells

I often wonder whether I should find a niche blogging subject, rather than just spilling my thoughts as they come to mind.

I’ve been reading a lot of other blogs lately, and most of them are based around one single topic. But then I think, well isn’t this supposed to help people get to know me? What better way to do it than to simply spill my mind as I see fit.

On my mind at the moment … weddings.

With four weddings coming up over new year and my own impending nuptials in just over three months, it’s hard not to think weddings all day.

So of course, the majority of blogs I’ve been reading revolve around weddings. Hair prep, make-up trials, dresses, table decorations. There’s so much to think about that it’s very easy to get swept up and become that dreaded B word. Yep, I’m talking bridezilla.

I’ve prided myself in not being a bridezilla and surprisingly, the wedding planning process has been relatively easy (did I just jinx it?). I don’t quite understand how people get to that stage of being so demanding that no one actually wants to work with you, or indeed, be part of your bridal party. But as I was talking to some of my girlfriends who have their own weddings coming up, I began to see how women can get there. Not that they’re there. They’re just facing some extra stress that I don’t seem to be experiencing.

I’ve been exceptionally lucky to have a wonderful fiancee who backs our decisions to anyone who questions them. And we’re both so fortunate to have four parents who so lovingly say ‘it’s your wedding and they’re your decisions’ while still quietly steering us in the right direction, yet supporting us even when they don’t necessarily agree with our decisions (here’s looking at you mum).

I guess my view is, and always will be, that there’s more to a marriage than the bride and the groom.

Those people who raised you, those siblings who have been by your side forever and those friends who will surround you and support you on your wedding day, they’re what a marriage is about – unconditional love, everlasting friendship and most important of all, family.

Paperback girl

My parents both have Kindles. So does my fiancee.

Me … I’m a traditionalist.

I love the feel of paper between my fingers as I’m turning the pages, fully engrossed in the words. The idea of pressing a button to turn a page just doesn’t sit too well with me.

People often tell me to move into the digital age. Print is dead! It’s so much easier to carry! Soon you won’t be able to buy books!

Truth is, print isn’t dead. It’s just people tend to ignore it a little bit.

I often see people walk into bookshops, have a little read around and then wonder whether they’re actually in the store to buy a book or whether they’re in there to do reconnaissance.

To me, there’s nothing better than sticking my nose in a book, blocking the world out and immersing myself in the stories of the lively characters. I’m not sure I would be able to conjure the same vivid images reading off a screen.

Recently, I saw this photo.

Print

It was accompanied by the caption ‘Smartphones make the world antisocial’.

Honestly though, it’s not smartphones that make the world antisocial. It’s the wonderful stories and the intricate details. To me, there’s nothing worse than having nothing to read on public transport. It’s just I prefer a book or a newspaper to my smartphone.

The world was always antisocial.

Who wants to get onto a train at 7am and strike up a conversation with a complete stranger? The only difference today is rather than ink imprints on your hands when you hop off the train, you’re left with wonky thumbs and sore eyes.

Budding artist

TootiDecember seems to be the month to get married, according to my friends that is.

A very close childhood friend is getting married in less than a month and to celebrate her upcoming nuptials, we threw her a kitchen tea, spoiling her with the fun, quirky accessories you would never buy yourself. Things like glass labels, funky tea towels, heart-shaped frying pans … all the things that make a young couple’s home.

I put my hand up to make a couple of signs to make the bride-to-be feel special. One said ’27 days to go’ (minor freak out anyone?) and one that was strung above the kitchen saying ‘From Miss to Mrs’.

For a minute, I thought about buying the signs off Etsy. And then I remembered that I’d actually studied art until my late high school years. Why buy when you can create?

So off I went to the arts and crafts store.

As I was painting away in my pseudo-studio, I realised how therapeutic the activity really was. A lot of issues have been thrown my way over the past year and despite the thousands of thoughts running through my mind, at that present moment, everything seemed to melt away and all I could think about were the brush strokes and making sure the letters were perfect.

It actually made me consider taking up painting as a hobby. When people are stressed, some turn to exercise (I wish! I’d be stick thin by now), some turn to eating, some turn to friends … and some turn to art.

Has a song or piece of music made you feel happy or sad when you hear it? How about when you stare at a photograph or artwork and something in you changes, just that little bit?

Using art as therapy shouldn’t be too surprising considering the reaction many people feel when faced with something beautiful. In fact, many of history’s great works were created under stress or depression – think Picasso’s Blue Period or any Van Gogh for that matter.

Want a challenge? Next time you’re feeling stressed or down, pick up a paintbrush and throw your feelings on the canvas. You may even end up with a fantastic work of art.

Capture the moment

I’ve always been fascinated with photography. That ability to capture one, single moment in a ‘forever’ image astounds me.

My sister recently gave birth to a little boy. He’s about to turn one and I can’t believe how time has flown by. So much has happened in the past year that it’s astonishing to think that December is already around the corner and our little boy is growing up so quickly.

I’ve been going a little (read: a lot) overboard with taking photos of him. Not because I’m the crazy aunt (well maybe), but because I’m terrified I’ll forget these very special moments with him.

My sister and I have been brought up in such a tight family, so I’m fortunate enough to see my nephew almost every day. I witnessed one of his first smiles. I made him giggle that beautiful giggle, and of course filmed it to share it around. I watched as he figured out how to roll over, sit up and most recently, how to do the worm (his version of crawling).

And every milestone has been captured and recorded.

I think back to when my sister and I were little, exploring the world and finding our way. Our dad would follow us around with a video camera capturing our every step, sprint and jump. And every day I thank him for that. Because now, I’ll have those moments to share with my children.

I guess the difference now is the ability to share these pictures and videos around. Every time someone takes a photo of my nephew, it’s shared with the family within minutes. So no matter where you are in the world, you feel part of his achievements, no matter how small.

His recently milestone has me chasing him around the house snapping photos as he navigates the 1980s breakdance move. It’s definitely a work out … and worth every breath!