Thursday, 23 January 2014

Wedding Planning... Overwhelmed! But persistent!

I am sure I cannot be the only one to feel like this, but man this wedding planning thing can be overwhelming! How much to budget for it? How much can we realistically save up in the next 18 months? What are we willing to sacrifice? What if I never fall in love with any dress, should I just get one I felt good in at £195 or wait and see if love at first sight truly happens with the dress?
The big question at the moment, is venue. It has to be said, no matter where we look at the moment, everything seems to be a lot of money. The first thing I seem to think do when I see an expensive venue is to convert how many months childcare we could get for both our kids for that amount...
We have an exact idea of what we would like... But after getting carried away at the beginning, we are beginning to get a clear idea on what we would really like, but also what we are happy to not have on our wedding day. I think that is the key element we are trying to focus on at the moment: what do Barry and I want for our wedding day? The main thing really: close friends and family to be there with us, some good food but not necessarily a formal sit down meal (loving the idea of a bbq at the moment...), and then dancing the night away! If guests can stay over the night too, and then we can wake up to an even more relaxed day with brunch with everyone, perfect! Everything else is not essential at this stage.
That still means that we need a venue which ideally, can sleep most guests, but without being too expensive. Now it gets complicated. We are at the stage we are comparing what we can get in England against what we can get in France, and at the moment, it seems price wise it might be similar... But in France we get sunshine (hopefully), a swimming pool, French food, baguettes, etc.... a piece of home for me really :) I think deep down we know what we really want, but as always, money will help decide, as well as logistics around it all.
I think the next step is to book a few visits, get all the info and then compare and boom! make a decision! :)
Right. My head hurts. And Hugo is still waking up 2/3 times a night so ought to get some sleep while I can... Night night everyone!
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*All images unless otherwise noted are my own, so please do not use them without my permission.*

Friday, 17 January 2014

Wedding planning for dummies.... Where to start!?

Hello lovelies,
I hope January isn't proving too hard for you and you're looking forward to this new year, as I am. At the moment, if I am honest, as well as my return to work in two weeks, sorting out the neverending laundry, trying to qualify, etc.... my mind is primarily on wedding planning!
We do not think we will get married prior to Summer 2015 simply because of funds... Having done things the slightly awkward way by getting mortgage first (although really glad to be on the property ladder!) and having two kids (ie childcare costs for both), we have virtually no funds so we are definitely going to have to find ways to save up each month! (on that note, Aldi truly has made an amazing difference in our weekly shop, in line with going back to planning meals each week.... honestly it's impressive!).
The first thing we need to do, is set up our budget... Instead, we got carried away and started looking at venues etc to "get an idea" on pricings. This is where it has already got completely out of hand! In an idea world, we would love to get married in the South of France, in Provence of thereabouts. We can picture sunshine, aperitif on the terrace, getting married near a mediaval village with lots of character, in a Mas with a swimming pool we can all relax by the following day.... Like I said, that is our ideal.
Elegant Wedding At Le Mas De La Rose Provence #rockmywedding #frenchwedding
As quotes started coming in, we thought, maybe not.... but why not near where my parents live? There seems to be flights from Bristol to Lyon even in the summer, and my parents being locals could have its advantages.
As quotes come in, this seems a lot more realistic, but still way above budget... We are still considering this but deep down, I can't see how we would make it happen...
I therefore told Barry I think we should consider venues in the South West too, even if only to compare what we can get for our not-yet-existant money, so we can have a good comparator. My head hurts so much it's painful!
I am convinced there must be ways to plan a cheap wedding/wedding on a budget, but where do you start? And what is considered a cheap wedding? I'm thinking I wouldn't want to spend more than £6 - £7k but at the moment that seems really unrealistic... My head hurts...
Then there is the dress...
I have always said I cannot imagine spending a lot of money on my wedding dress, as you only wear it for one day and then what? Obviously, that was before I was even engaged, and the dress I love the most so far from the really talented Jessica Charleston... is circa £3,000.... Obviously. It is stunning, and Jessica is very talented. But that's not going to happen. Prior to meeting Jessica, I had another appointment where I tried on every type and shape there was, but hardly any got me emotional... at all... Just one pretty dress after another. Interestingly, I found one, also at Jessica's store, which was pretty much exactly what I had always imagined myself wearing if I got married, and although one of my favourites, I no longer think that's what I want.
After being on a massive high from trying on the dress with my sister, I became massively disheartened the following day in a proper toddler tantrum grumpy way. I've now come back to earth and reasoned with myself that I simply would not be comfortable spending that much, especially the way things are financially in the current climate. But it has given me a lot of ideas of what to look for, and i remain very excited about that part!
When discussing the matter with friends, they all seem to picture me in very different types of dresses, all supposedly "very me", therefore I can't help but get excited at how they might react when they see the dress I will eventually go for, and whether it matches what they expected from me or not. Did you find that? Did you pick a dress that was exactly what your friends expected? Or did you really surpise them with your choice?
And venues.... Have you planned a wedding in France? Did you get married near Bristol? I would love to hear your advice for choosing the right venue on a budget. Ooooooooh weddings!
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*All images unless otherwise noted are my own, so please do not use them without my permission.*

Monday, 6 January 2014

Happy Epiphany! (you get to eat cake, and be king/queen for the night!)

As many other people, my mum would always wait for 6th January to take down the Christmas decorations. I would usually too but this year I was eager for a fresh start so took them down last week! Anyways... In France, we would also celebrate Epiphany by eating cake (naturally!).  More specifically, a Galette des Rois. According to google, this translates as a classic cake celebrating the 12th night of Epiphany for the last feast. Traditionally a bean or coin was placed into the cake and who ever found it in their slice was king or queen for the night. They get to wear a crown and everything! These days, it tends be a "feve", or little figurine made of either ceramic or plastic. I have one of Hermione Granger and one of Gandalf, clearly stating what was popular at the time I got them :)

When we were kids, the youngest child would also have to sit under the table and shout the names of who should get the next slice, to ensure that whoever got the feve truly was selected at random.
Siena is never far when cake is being baked!
I am not always a fan of frangipani, but I do love this recipe:
  • 500g/1lb 2oz ready-made puff pastry
  • 125g/4½oz butter, softened
  • 125g/4½oz caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 medium free-range eggs
  • 125g/4½oz ground almonds
  • 2 tbsp plain flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 4 tbsp raspberry jam (optional but adds a nice taste, a little similar to a bakewell tart) 
    Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
    Cut the pastry in half and roll out each piece on a lightly floured surface until large enough to cut out a 25cm/10in round.
    Using a dinner plate as a template, cut out two pastry circles. Put the pastry circles on two baking trays and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
    Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl with the vanilla extract in a food processor until light and fluffy.
    In a small bowl beat the eggs and set aside 2 tablespoons of the egg for brushing the pastry later.
    Add the remaining beaten egg to the sugar and butter mixture and blend until smooth. Add the almonds and flour and mix until well combined.
    Remove the pastry rounds from the fridge and, if using, spread jam on one of the rounds, leaving 4cm/1½in around the edge. Spread the almond mixture on top of the jam.
        Brush the pastry edge with a little of the reserved egg and place the other pastry round on top.
    Press the edges firmly to seal, then roughen the edges with a sharp knife to help separate the layers so that they puff up while the cake is cooking. To do this, hold the knife at a right angle to the edges and gently tap the pastry.
    Score the surface with a sharp knife, then brush with the remaining beaten egg.

    Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until puffed up and golden-brown. Et voila!

Remove from the oven and serve warm or cold.
 Yum! Just watch out when you eat in case you find the "feve"!
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*All images unless otherwise noted are my own, so please do not use them without my permission.*

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Bonne Annee!!! Happy New Year!!!

So 2014 is upon us... Happy New Year everyone! May you all be blessed with good luck and good health for this new year!
It seems I have not blogged for almost a month so I am determined to get back on track. To say December was a little manic is a huge understatement! Siena had several birthday parties with glitter galore. I went up North once again for grand-dad's funeral. Drove down the next day as Siena turned three and had her very own Pirate party complete with twenty or so toddlers, bouncy castle, tattoos and mould wine for the adults (I might have gone a little crazy but it was really worth it!). Siena making a super cute Mary at the nursery's carol service. We also took Siena to the cinema for the first time to see Frozen. She also got a bike for her birthday so we took her to the park several times to teach her how to ride it.
Then obviously Christmas happened. Hugo's first one! We went to Barry's mum on Christmas eve and had a really relaxed evening. We then spent it just the four of us this year, and my family arrived late in the day on Christmas day to spend a few days with us. It was the first year where Siena truly understood what was happening so we had great fun making everything sound really exciting... it's truly contagious! We had a lovely roast goose, and far too much lovely French wines and cheeses over the last week or two... Amazing! I was very tired due to Hugo not sleeping great due to eczema/teething/growth spurt/being a baby so I didn't always feel very chirpy, but it was great to see all my family and just have an excuse to relax. I also managed a few runs, including a very challenging one on New Years Day in the crazy rain and winds we've had of late, but glad my sister dragged me out and kept me going on the day!
Now we prepare for 2014. Christmas decorations are down, the house is (finally!) tidied and clean (apart from the never-ending pile of filing... and the laundry... oh my god the laundry!). I am feeling good and motivated generally. I am finalising aspects for my return to work next month. I am focussing on eating well and continuing my training for the marathon (94 days..... aaaaaaaaaaah!). But also, and this is very exciting, Barry and I can start thinking about... our wedding! He proposed to me on Christmas day! It was perfect! The ring is absolutely beautiful, I am so so soooooo happy!
I have told myself I can't start organising anything until I have completed forms to qualify in my profession... Hopefully that will be enough motivation for me to get them done asap, and then the fun can begin! :D So "Planning a wedding for dummies" posts to follow shortly (hopefully)... Right. I could complete the professional forms now... or go sit down with a Baileys... or go to bed... decisions decisions.... It seems it is watching a film with a cuppa that wins... *bliss* *happy*

 Boxing Day

 New Year's Eve
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*All images unless otherwise noted are my own, so please do not use them without my permission.*
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