Saturday, 25 December 2010

The sweet things stats show you... and Happy Christmas!

Yes I know I haven't blogged for weeks and now I'm doing it on Christmas Day, of all days... Happy Christmas everybody!

Boringly, I checked my stats. I was online anyway and just thought I'd check...

Someone visited who I don't think will visit again - it was more of an accident I think. Because what they searched for was "words to say when you get down on one knee" and they found me.

And I'm so happy for whoever they are preparing to ask! Made me smile.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

A planning update...

A little bit of a wedding update for you today.

  • I’ve been losing a bit of interest in the wedding planning but I’m glad that that level of intensity has passed me by. It really takes over your life and consumes all your thoughts – well it did mine anyway. And what really grounded me in the end was the wedding in Tuscany. It made me realise that, no, I wasn’t the only person ever to get married and other people have lives too!
  • Bought my wedding shoes which I adored. I would love to share these with you because they are the prettiest darn things I have ever seen but I have readers who are guests and they are top colour secret. (Hence the beautiful shoes photo above instead!) The nerdy ‘To Do’ list and geeky budget spreadsheet were adjusted but after getting very excited when they arrived, I tried them on and just didn’t feel it. They were gorgeous to look at but just didn’t look as good on. In the end I sent them back because they didn’t give me ‘the feeling’. Yes, they are only shoes and I’m not even a big shoe fan but they had to feel good.
  • I love adjusting the To Do list and the budget spreadsheet and wish there was more I could get on/off it.
  • The lovely flower lady has been booked and I’m looking forward to meeting with her again to go over our plans.
  • I went along to a cake tasting appointment with my sister when the time came to book a baker. We had a brilliant brain storming session as well as some divine cake to taste! Chocolate Fudge Cake, White Chocolate and Raspberry and Zingy Lemon were the three flavours I chose to sample – all three were delicious and we’re currently waiting on sketches of what our cake could look like.
  • The bridesmaid dresses are due in at the end of January so getting a bit impatient about that because I expected them before Christmas.
  • Waiting to be called back for a second measuring session for my dress. This was due to happen just before they started making mine so the fact that this hasn’t happened yet is stressing me a bit because I also expected it to be in just before Christmas.
  • Card has been bought for the stationery and final draft of all invites etc has been settled.
  • Hairdressing and beauty appointments have all been made.
  • Wow when I look at this it makes me feel quite satisfied!

    I’m hoping to enjoy Christmas and then let the mania start in the New Year at which stage we can say “We are getting married in April!” instead of “next year” which was a big turning point when we entered 2010.

    Photo above by the fabulous NI photographer Paula O'Hara.

    Please go check out her website for some seriously inspirational wedding photography.

    Saturday, 20 November 2010

    One for the scrapbookers...

    At last I managed to do a layout - the first of the Tuscany ones. Well if they can't inspire me nothing can!

    I actually really enjoyed playing with paper again and it was all down to Mr M. At dinner one night this week he asked why I don't do it anymore. He told me how much he loved it and thought they were beautiful no matter what I felt about them not being as good as other people's. And then he told me he wants me to scrapbook an album of our wedding photos and that put the fear in me. We'll see whether this actually happens but I'd need to find my mojo to do that!

    Wedding-wise, this week we have been to that place called "Should We Postpone The Wedding To 2012?" and back.

    Wednesday, 3 November 2010

    Snapshots of Tuscany... (photo heavy!)

    Well, I knew I would have a fabulous time.
    Really, the best trip ever, and Mr M was nowhere in sight. If I could have shipped him over I would never have left.
    It was a great chance for me to catch up with my girlfriends, who haven’t all been together for over 2 years and I realised how much I miss and need my friends more in my life. I’ve been dreaming about us all being back there together again every night since!
    I want to share with you some photos from the trip. I did rather rashly buy a new lens for this trip, thinking that I couldn’t go without it and in the end never even took it out of its little case. Shame on me.

    The town of San Gimignano is so pretty, rustic and photogenic…

    The wedding, bride and groom absolutely gorgeous...

    Mmm, would put you in the mood to get married yourself ;)

    Tuesday, 19 October 2010

    Talking Italian...

    Mr M made me laugh last night.
    We were lying in bed, just about to fall asleep when I started talking, as I always do. I was jibbering on about how I needed to find out about some Italian phrases to get by when I'm away and how I could find them out, did I know any already etc etc etc etc (be quiet and go to sleep already!). I asked Mr M did he know any Italian and after a short pause he said "You talkin' to me?" from Taxi Driver.
    Just reminded me why I love him.

    Monday, 18 October 2010

    Hello Tuscany...

    The posts are coming thick and fast these days eh! Don't get carried away. I'm going to be missing for a little while (not that you'd usually notice by the general lack of posts!) to travel to Tuscany, Italy for one of my best friends' weddings. This is something I just had to borrow some money from the wedding pot for so I could join her and her lovely guy for their big day.

    She is marrying a fabulous photographer, Mark McCormick. Mark is a very successful Northern Ireland based photographer who shoots weddings as well as travel, press and fashion to name a few. He has launched a website after much badgering from everyone he knows to share his work. There are some stunning images on his site,, and I recommend you have a look, if only for a little daydream about the places he has been!

    I’m sure there will be beauty and inspiration overload in Tuscany and my little camera friend will definitely be joining me so hopefully I’ll have some photos to share with you afterwards.
    photo from here

    Sunday, 17 October 2010

    The one where Mr M asserts his independence...

    As a follow up to this post, Mr M carried through with his intention to pick the suits himself and took a whole day off work to dedicate to the task. He 'Googled' some local firms he had heard off and made an appointment for that afternoon at one chosen shop - solo. No best man.

    He confessed to me afterwards that

    a) he found when he got there that the staff/owner expected his other half to be with him and said something to the effect of "You're a brave man!"

    b) he wanted me to go with him again so I could help him decide on ties and pay a deposit.

    So off we went to met with Aaron at Groom Formal Hire in Banbridge - who was really lovely, absolutely knew his stuff and greeted me as "The Boss". At one point he tried to tell me that there was something I couldn't do but I had to warn him not to use those words or I would be determined that that was exactly what I wanted.

    I had a fab time dressing up someone else and them loving it! Mr M looked really hot and after trying on a few looks I told him which I thought he looked most fanciable in.

    The deal was done and Aaron reassured me that I could bring Mr M back anytime to dress him up and fancy him!

    Another job ticked off the list.

    photo from here

    Saturday, 16 October 2010

    6 years with Mr M...

    Today it is 6 whole years since I got together with my Mr M and I can barely believe it.
    Neither of us had been with anyone longer than 8 months before we met each other and after 2, 3, 4 years we would be so surprised that we had managed to be with each other for so long. Now I’m not surprised any more.
    I never imagined when we were first dating that I could love him more and more every year, I thought we would run out of things to talk about or grow bored of each other but in fact it’s the opposite.
    I love him more now than I ever did. And I think living together has done that. We are a team now and we have to stick together and get things sorted out.
    It’s funny, over the last few weeks I’ve been told by 3 different people that we are perfect for each other and that we have the perfect relationship. It’s definitely far from that but I’m more than happy with my lot.
    He told me just the other night that he loves me for “how I get on” (hmm think that means I’m a bit of a doofus), that he loves my humour (even though it’s weird) and my laugh and crazy ideas.
    I love him for his kindness, his affection and how me makes me feel confident to be my true self.
    If you’re reading, Happy Anniversary baby x

    Thursday, 14 October 2010

    UK National Chocolate Week...

    I heard today that 11-17 October 2010 is National Chocolate Week in the UK so I thought I’d share my favourite chocolate recipe with you. This is from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook but I found it in Easy Living Magazine about a year ago.

    Things can get messy as the mixture is pretty runny but you will get the most moist, fluffy and delicious cupcakes ever!

    Chocolate Cupcakes
    Makes 12 – Preparation 20 mins – Cooking 25 mins, plus cooling and icing time

    100g (3 ½ oz) plain flour
    20g (¾ oz) cocoa powder
    140g (4 ½ oz) caster sugar
    1 ½ tsp baking powder
    Pinch of salt
    40g (1 ¼ oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
    120ml (4 fl oz) whole milk
    1 egg
    ¼ tsp vanilla extract
    1 quality of chocolate frosting (see recipe below)
    Chocolate vermicelli or edible silver balls to decorate

    1. Heat the oven to 170ºC (gas mark 3). Line a 12-hole cupcake tray with paper cases.
    2. Put the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld whisk) and beat on a slow speed until you get a sandy consistency. Don’t overbeat the mixture, as the sponge will be too heavy.
    3. Whisk the milk, egg and vanilla extract together in a jug, then slowly pour about half into the flour mixture. Beat to combine and turn the mixer up to high to get rid of any lumps.
    4. Turn the mixer down to a slower speed and slowly pour in the remaining milk mixture (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until smooth. Do not over-mix.
    5. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two thirds full and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the sponge bounces back when touched and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
    6. When the cupcakes are cold, decorate!

    Chocolate Frosting

    300g (10 oz) icing sugar, sifted
    100g (3 ½ oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
    40g (1 ¼ oz) cocoa powder, sifted
    40ml (1 fl oz) whole milk

    1. Beat the icing sugar, butter and cocoa powder together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on a medium/slow speed until the mixture comes together.
    2. Turn the mixer down to slow and add the milk a couple of tablespoons at a time. Once all the milk has been incorporated turn the mixer up to high. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer it’s beaten, the fluffier it becomes.

    My last batch ended up looking like this:


    Monday, 4 October 2010

    Irish talent...

    Today I’d like to give a shout out to all the lovely Irish bride bloggers who have sent readers my way! They are such a talented bunch that if you haven’t actually arrived with me directly from them, you should definitely make a virtual trip over their way.

    First up is Lust Covet Envy. Marie is a graphic designer from Dublin so you can just imagine the level of detail she would go into for her wedding. She showcases all the things she, well… lusts, covets and envies!

    Bride and Joy is my latest find who shares her wedding planning fun and other great ideas with us brides to be. She has a great DIY and Downloadables section which I know will be very popular.

    Beating Myself Into A Dress is one sassy bride. She says it how it is and has some honest and witty insights into the wedding industry. She’ll have you laughing, nodding your head and cringing all at once!

    Sweet Kinds of Everything shares a real mix of her interests, from fashion to renovating her cottage as well as her plans and finds for her wedding in June 2011.

    Tinkerbelle Bride is literally newly wed this weekend past! She is always bringing us visual goodies and lots of wedding inspiration from around the web as well guest posts from Irish wedding suppliers.

    Happy reading everyone!
    photo found here

    Friday, 24 September 2010

    What makes a great photo...?

    Today I came to a realisation. Great photography doesn’t always depend on the photographer. Sometimes it depends on how beautiful the subject is. Well that is how I found myself perceiving great photography today.
    And that is a little scary because if my wedding or I don’t turn out as beautiful as I imagined, does that mean my photos won’t be either?
    I’m really hoping that I don’t see my wedding photos and rather than the gorgeous wedding I expected to see I just see plain ole’ me and a few pretty things.

    Thursday, 23 September 2010

    Vintage finds...

    There is probably quite a bit of stuff that I have now organised for the big day but forgotten to tell you about so I’ve had a little look through my colossal “To Do” list and see what I have checked off.

    - Book videographer
    - Order of Service designed
    - Bridesmaid dresses ordered
    - Save the Dates printed and sent
    - Honeymoon flights and hotel booked

    And of course not only are they added to the “Done” list they are struck off the “To Do” list. Double listing. Love it. It’s amazing how this list has changed my outlook on planning for our wedding. I feel so much more in control now that I have it all written down.

    (Note to self: Actually you’ve something more to add to the “To Do” list – Update wedding planning scrapbook.)

    The cutest shop opened closeby to where we live, the first of its kind in these parts – It’s Vintage Darling. I went along last week and scooped up this gorgeous china tea set and gold photo frame.
    I’ll be using both in the wedding décor in some way. I’m thinking maybe teacup centrepieces with strings of pearls tumbling out of them.

    The frame I want to use as a sign for our guest book. I was giving this some thought the other day and think I have decided that rather than a traditional guestbook we may have 4x6 sheets of card, printed similar to our other stationery, where guests can write us a message/wish and then insert them into a pretty photo album and we’ll add photos from the day at a later stage. Of course the idea of wedding wish trees etc are very appealing but more DIY than I can manage at the minute. My mum is starting to worry about all the work I am giving myself but I think it will be worth it in the end. That’s what it’s all about after all – making it personal to us.

    In the meantime the frame has pride of place in my dining room with my favourite quote from Mary Jean Iron in:

    "Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return."

    Still loving those normal days.

    Wednesday, 8 September 2010

    Getting busy with the digi...

    In the early days of this blog most of my readers were scrapbookers who came to visit through Shimelle's Blogging For Scrapbookers class. Sadly I think most, if not all, of these people are now gone and now I don't know who my readers are.
    (By the way, I know you are out there, I've seen you visit, but no-one says hello. Don't be shy.)

    In case there are any scrapbookers still out there, I want to show you what I have been up to today. Digi scrapping!

    I read on Donna's blog - Button Garden - that she was taking part in a course by Jessica Sprague called Up & Running With Photoshop - Beginning Digital Scrapbooking. At first I was considering taking part myself and then I realised that over the last few months I have probably already picked up the skills to digi scrap but hadn't realised. So today I downloaded two kits - one free from Shabby Princess and one from Jessica Sprague - and got to business. It was much easier than I thought and a year a go there is no way I would have contemplated even trying this.
    These are definitely created in my favourite graphic look (I'm going back to my roots here!) and it felt great to be doing simple pages again with no fuss or pressure to use all the latest trendy bits and pieces. I think digi scrapping may be the way forward for me if I could find a printer to do them justice. (As a side, I know drop shadows would be wonderful here but I seem to have lost them from my menu in Photoshop.)

    Are there any scrapbooking friends still out there?

    Tuesday, 7 September 2010

    Wish it luck...

    There’s been some more progress on the wedding front in so far as the bridesmaid dresses have now been ordered. I searched bridal shops high and low to find a stockist of the designer I wanted who had a dress in the colour I wanted but alas, to no avail. Therefore I have taken a huge leap of faith and ordered dresses that I have no idea how they will look. (Such bad English I know.) This is major for a control freak like me. I had a little swatch of course but it could look completely different when the dresses arrive. In the end I decided that it was the colour I wanted all along and so no other would do.
    I’m dying to show you all what they look like but know that some guests do/may read from time to time and so I’m keeping it under my hat. You’ll have to wait until April to find out what they are like!

    Mr M announced the other night that, for want of better words, it is not my business to accompany him to get his and his attendants’ suits! Needless to say at first I wasn’t best pleased with this as the best man had planted this idea in his head but after some thought I came around to the idea. After all I know what kind of suit he is looking for and so trust him completely that they will look good. I’m just a little nervous about the fact that he doesn’t know what we will look like and now I don’t know what they will look like so what if it all looks like a dog’s dinner when its put together. Ok, breathe… Choose your battles Angela.

    I stumbled across a new-to-me wedding blog today – a UK one! I’m sure some of you more savvy brides-to-be might already be aware of the fab Rock My Wedding but I ended up searching through 29 pages before I decided that was enough stalking done for the day. I just couldn’t help myself clicking on “Older Entries”. Fabulous photography to be found over there as well as good detailed information to accompany it so I was able to find out where everyone got their gorgeous shoes etc.

    In other news I bought a gym ball. I don’t mind admitting I’m on the “meaty” side. I like to reassure myself that if we all get diseased I’ll last the longest. But I was introduced to someone the other day – I came across The Cherry Blossom Girl (who recently got married and posted her wedding photo) and she has been the thorn in my side ever since. You see, she made me realise that I want to be a wife that Mr M is proud of. And right now even I’m not proud of me, so I have to start somewhere and so the gym ball is going to get it.

    Wish it luck…

    Sunday, 29 August 2010

    Project 365: 8/12

    Hello lovelies,

    Looking back, two posts in one month is pure rubbish.

    To try to squeeze in another in the nick of time I thought I would share with you some photos from the last month or so from my Project 365 or what I have come to call "my photo a day" when I am begging my loved ones to allow me to take a pick snap.

    I hope those of you who are doing a similar project are still managing to get your photos taken. I have missed quite a few days but no biggie I say.

    So without further ado:

    Monday, 9 August 2010

    I had a dream...

    Last night I had a dream about my wedding dress... or rather lack of it.

    It was my wedding day, 15 until I left the house and I was getting dressed alone. I put on my underwear and looked down and knew I hadn't picked it but thought it was prettier than mine.
    I put on my dress and looked in the mirror and it wasn't my dress.
    It was a dark biscuit colour with broderie anglaise and huge buttons on the front.
    I screamed like a child "Mummy, Mummy, Mummy, its not my dress".
    Poor mum told me it looked lovely on me anyway but I insisted I wasn't leaving the house until my own dress was picked up from the shop - no matter how late that made me for the church!

    Thursday, 5 August 2010

    The most important purchase of all...

    Yes, that's right the wedding gown has been bought! And the dress is so new (2011 collection) the designer herself hasn't got a photograph yet - believe me I've asked her - so unfortunately I won't be able to share.

    I will say though that it has a classic, timeless look which gives a great hourglass figure and will lend itself beautifully to a vintage style wedding. Oh I'm getting excited just typing that!

    Also on the wedding front our honeymoon hotel has been booked. We are going to Florida for 2 weeks for a bit of a road trip with a base in Orlando where Mr M's parents have an apartment. So although we have been before, we will hopefully be avoiding the Disney parks this time and exploring other parts of the state.

    I am really looking forward to our honeymoon and have great memories of a holiday together in Florida, cruising down the I4 in the car with George Strait singing "How Bout Them Cowgirls" on the radio, a song no band or DJ in Northern Ireland ever has when I request it!

    (Edited to add: If anyone has any suggestions of great places to visit in the Orlando or general Florida area, don't be shy about getting in touch. I'd like to see "real" Florida.)

    Wednesday, 28 July 2010

    Life in a series of little film montages...

    Wouldn’t life be great if the bad bits were nothing but a series of film montages? You know the bits in the movies where Rocky is in training really it is condensed into 3 minutes or when Doris Day in Calamity Jane gives her house a makeover in a total of about 2.34 minutes?

    I usually approach the difficult stuff in life with the belief that it will pass by like this and then when it doesn’t, I get very disappointed.

    Imagine how great it would be if a year of losing weight - all that going to the gym, eating lettuce for dinner and running the roads – could be condensed into 1.5 minutes of film.

    Same goes I guess for raising difficult children, making curtains and cleaning the house.

    That’s the kind of life I’d love.

    Thursday, 22 July 2010

    Centre stage...

    I've been spending way too much time thinking about tablecentres when I should really be making a decision about which dress I am going to order.
    Two dresses - one with a top I want the other a bottom. Since that is not at all possible I'm going to have to choose one but really its a win-win situation. And I'm excited.
    My maids also tried some dresses yesterday and we found one that made both of them look fabulous! Now I understand why some brides put their maids in naff dresses - I fear they may look better than me!
    I've been thinking about dresses so much that last night I dreamt Mr M left me the day I was to order it. He is away to England working this week so I guess that's also factoring in my dreaming.

    Anyway this morning all I want to think about it tablecentres. On a day trip to Bangor, Co Down at the beginning of the week I found pretty lanterns I could imagine on my tables. In Ikea that afternoon I picked up 30 tealight holders the same as I have at home, for only 39p each - 39p!

    So hey presto with a little lace tape there and a paper flower here I came up with this:

    And although it needs a lot of tweaking, tidying up and refining, it's looking like something I could love. That makes me very happy. And what's even better is that this little set up (at a grand total of £36.70 for candles and lanterns on 10 tables - yes that's £3.67 per table) would save us around £300 in flowers.

    Tuesday, 20 July 2010

    Pretty wedding buys...

    Today I wanted to share with you some things I've been buying for the wedding.

    The stationery has been a permanent fixture in my thoughts since the day I got engaged (and a little before!) and I've been designing and redesigning for the last year even though I have no decision yet on colour scheme. I came across this Etsy seller - Swann and Smerlin - from Ireland via Tinkerbelle's blog and fell in love with some of the things she had on sale. And with everything at a good price I couldn't resist.

    I've loved the idea of binding my Order of Service (ceremony programme) with twine and so ordered some black and white to have a play with the samples.

    I also ordered lace tape which was more beautiful in my hand that I imagined it would be. This was to be put on the front of the envelopes but now I've seen how pretty it is I don't know if I want to part with it.

    The parcel, when it arrived, was so pretty and beautifully wrapped that it was an occasion in itself to open it. My family were watching me oooh-ing and ahh-ing with amusement - my Mum even called me a geek! It came with a lovely personal message and I'll happily buy from Odette again.

    The next of the purchases was these padded hangers for my wedding dress and the bridesmaids dresses for getting ready photo taking. I read some advice that I should have pretty hangers for the photos or I would regret having plastic hangers in my photos for ever. I'm so happy with these and they only cost £1.50 each, with the 3rd one free when I bought 2. (Found here on ebay.)

    And the most exciting of all - the Anthropologie mugs I've been lusting after for longer that I care to admit! At only £6 each I know they aren't overly expensive but every time I went to click on "buy" I told myself it was silly. But after seeing more and more pics on the web of them in other people's weddings I decided to go for it.

    This is where they are also popped up and how they will hopefully look:

    (Source: Ken Kienow)

    (Source: Zofia Waig)