From our wedding: personalised photo place cards

When we were planning our wedding, we set out to add as many personal touches to the day as possible which, in the era of Pinterest and Instagram, wasn’t quite as easy as I thought it would be! There were millions of ideas at our fingertips but not all of them a) seemed very ‘us’ or b) were all that original.

Backtrack to November 2019; Andy and I flew to NSW for my friend Claire’s wedding to her fiance Chris. I knew the bride and her maid of honour, Andy didn’t know anyone! We had such an awesome night meeting new people and chatting away. One thing that really helped was that when we got to our table, sitting on all of our plates was a photo. A polaroid-sized snapshot of a memory with the bride or groom (or both!) or a photo swiped from a social media account. It was more than a place card, it was an instant ice-breaker and a talking point with the people around us as we all compared photos and explained when they were taken. It was genius.

So we stole the idea.

We gathered photos of all our guests from our cameras, phones, laptops, social media and then ordered polaroid sized prints from Poster Candy. I take so many photos all the time that I only had to source a few from Facebook- finally my excessive snapping pays off!

It was so much fun finding the photos and deciding if I should pick the nice vacation snap or the photo from a white trash costume party (the costume party always won).

I wish I could have been there to see everyone’s reactions to the photos we selected, thankfully our wonderful photographer captured some of these sweet moments:

So many people mentioned that they loved the idea. Andy’s aunt said to me “it showed that you had taken a moment to think of each one of us and how to make us feel special”. I love that, it’s very true.

You could use photo place cards at any event, not just a wedding. Maybe I’ll do them again for an over-the-top dinner party once social distancing is a thing of the past.

We had a seating chart but it was totally redundant as people seemed to prefer wandering around looking at the photos. A huge thank you to the team of family and friends that set this up on the day.

More wedding DIYs to come! All photos by Kyra Boyer Photography.

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Introducing Albie

Last Friday we went and picked up the cutest, tiniest, wriggly-est miniature dachshund whom we named Alberto. Albie for short. We are completely besotted with him.

Andy and I have yearned for a dog for a long time and since we are both working from home, now seemed like the perfect time. We’ve had our eyes on dog rescue websites for months but there were so few small dogs and many listings cited a backyard or a companion dog as mandatory. Our two-bedroom apartment does not make us attractive candidates or able to home a Bull Arab, Mastiff or large Bulldog- the breeds that sadly seem to dominate these websites.

After getting permission from our landlord a quick spin on Google led me to Albie and his siblings. I got in touch with the breeder, we organised a socially distant meeting on his front lawn and the rest is history.

As I type this, Albie is curled up in a ball under the desk, atop a blanket next to his plush donut toy. He goes from hyperactive to sleepy in about an hour. Albie loves (which also means wants to destroy) our broom, the couch, our shoelaces and toes. He’s doing really well at sleeping in his crate at night and we only have to take him out once for a bathroom break. We have a trainer and are watching online puppy school to help establish good habits early.

I have quickly transformed into a dog person who won’t shut up about the minutiae of my pup’s day. And I love it. I feel like I’ve been waiting to get into this club for years and I’ve finally made it. Now for more photos:

The house where Albie was born

First trip in the car

Being cute

Nap time

Before we rolled up that rug and it got put far away from tiny puppy teeth for an indefinite period

CRONCH

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How are you?

How are you feeling during this utterly bizarre and scary moment in time? I’m up and down. One moment it feels quite cosy to be tucked up on the couch with a cup of tea and the next I’m floored by the despair of wondering when I’ll get to hug my parents or sister again. It really helps not to think too far in advance, and to think about what I’m grateful for, like having a job where I can work from home.

Both Andy and I are working from home, he’s set up in the spare room and I’m at the dining table next to a giant dried floral arrangement from our wedding. It seems OK so far!

Watching: a TV show made in 2015 called The Last Man on Earth. It may seem like the opposite of what you’d want to watch right now- it’s about the last few remaining people in the world following a major virus that wipes out humankind, but it’s actually hilarious and quite uplifting! We just started Ozark on Netflix, which is totally bleak. And like everyone else in the world we watched and enjoyed Tiger King.  I can’t understand why Carole Baskin has copped the most hate given that everyone on that show is bonkers. I binged Unorthodox on Sunday which was excellent.

Cooking: A bunch of things I’ve never made before! Stuffed peppers, eggplant parmigiana… but the real MVP here is Andy who has made brisket, matzah for Passover, fried chicken, potato bake and a very delicious green couscous salad from Ottolenghi’s Plenty cookbook.

Baking: Andy’s has baked beer bread, is working on sourdough starter, has made choc chip cookies and his childhood favourite- an chocolate oatmeal cake. So far I have made 3 ingredient peanut butter cookies, cinnamon tea cake.

Listening to: not a lot to be honest. I mostly listen to podcasts on the commute to work or the gym, I’ve been listening to my usual favourites while walking including  My Favorite Murder and This American Life.

Ordering: ice cream from Piccolina’s and puzzles! We also ordered a beautiful wedding album from our photographer, Kyra Boyer. Can’t wait to get it in the mail.

Walking: through rain, hail or shine.

Buying: not bread flour. We tried three supermarkets yesterday and can’t find it anywhere!

Wondering: like everyone, when things will go back to normal. It feels weird to be in an endless holding pattern. Still, please follow your local lock down restrictions so we can return to something resembling normal ASAP!

How are you going? Got any book/show/movie/recipe recommendations? Stay safe and healthy x

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My favourite moments from our wedding

Our wedding day really exceeded all my expectations.  Looking back at our photos is such a delight and our wedding photographer Kyra Boyer really captured everything perfectly. Here are some of my favourite moments:

Getting ready

I am so fortunate to have an amazing hairdresser and a fantastic makeup artist as good friends. With Jess doing our hair and Claire on makeup it was such a lovely, relaxed day and I was really comfortable in asking for what I wanted and for tweaks here and there. My sister Sarah, bridesmaids Bec and Kate and mum were all so happy with how we looked. We had pretty much a whole day of hanging out and we chatted about the most bizarre range of topics from superannuation to Jessica Simpson. It was a very calm way to get the ball rolling.

Claire touching up my face while Jess shows Bec how to attach my veil ❤

Walking down the aisle 

It sounds obvious that the aisle would be a big moment but I can’t believe the relief of getting to this point (and not tripping over or catching my dress on the nearby miniature train tracks… ). I was so happy to be walking with dad to my bridesmaid Bec and my good friend Rob performing Can’t Help Falling in Love and the excitement and calm that came with finally seeing Andy at the end of the aisle. Expert tip: get yourself talented friends.

Looking out at our guests during the ceremony 

I think I read on a blog somewhere to take a moment to look out at your guests during the ceremony and I’m so glad I remembered to. It’s quite surreal to have everyone you love assembled around you, smiling. And looking pretty damn fancy as well. I’m not sure I’ll ever have this again.

Seeing people actually playing croquet 

Our ceremony was in a park in front of a huge old gum tree. We approached the neighbouring croquet club to use their facilities for our cocktail hour, so we’d have access to a kitchen and bathroom, and mostly so we wouldn’t get fined for public drinking. They said they would have some of their members to lead the croquet playing but I really thought most people would be preoccupied with drinking and chatting. I was thrilled to see people really getting into the croquet and lawn games! Random, but fun!

Playing finska

Entering our reception

We planned for the groomsmen to walk into the reception to Lonely Boy by the Black Keys, the bridesmaids to Shake it Off by Taylor Swift and then we’d follow to Layla by Derek and the Dominoes. I had worried it might be a bit flat and lame but I guess after two hours of drinking and general excitement, our guests were bound to get into it. There was cheering, clapping, singing, air-guitaring, the lot. It was so much fun, Layla really has the greatest guitar riff of all time. Some of my favourite photos were captured during this part of the day:

“Laaaaaaylaaaaa”

“You got me on my kneeeees”

Changing out of my wedding dress (in the street)

My friend  and wedding coordinator Shea kindly stored a short, sparkly dress for me to change into in her car. We had planned to bring it inside but it turned out to be easier just to change right there, next to her car, in the street. So I stood there, a couple of bridesmaids unhooking the many buttons, someone holding a phone for light, and someone helping me into the sparkly dress. It must have looked pretty bizarre to the poor unsuspecting souls driving past. It was such a relief to get the big white dress off, I felt like a reptile shedding a particularly large, bulky skin for some fun sequin scales.

Seeing friends mingle 

There is nothing more satisfying than socially engineering great conversations via your seating chart. I loved seeing unlikely chats take place between our favourite people.

Burning up the dance floor 

As far as I’m concerned the best part of any wedding is its dance floor. All the formalities are done and you can just let your hair down. The novelty sunglasses were a bonus. This is when I felt the most at ease. Our first dance was a cha cha to Come and Get Your Love by Redbone.

So fun.

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Our Wedding Day

If you follow me on social media, you will have seen some snaps from the wedding already. I hope you don’t mind seeing them again!

We were so incredibly lucky to have our wedding, with close friends and family flying in from all over Australia and the world, before the COVID-19 shutdowns really took hold. It breaks my heart to hear about people having to cancel and indefinitely postpone their big day. Yes there are worse things happening in the world right now, but a lot of time, money, work and emotional labour goes into a wedding day so it would be hugely disappointing to have that disappear overnight.

Our wedding day could not have been more perfect. It was 27 degrees and sunny. Somehow all our friends and family made it to the right place at the right time. Some very special people worked really hard on setting up spectacular decorations at our two venues, and ensured our day ran smoothly. While it was a celebration of our love for each other, both Andy and I were quite overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from our family and friends in the form of their help, their time and effort. It just wouldn’t have happened without them. Andy and I actually cried the next day we were so grateful!

I will be sharing lots of aspects from the wedding and honeymoon in the coming weeks as I literally have nothing else to talk about.

We got our wedding video yesterday, if you’d like to see:

It’s by Bright Light Weddings who did a fantastic job. Our photos are by Kyra Boyer Weddings. We cannot rate Kyra highly enough, she is a delight and we can’t wait to receive our beautiful hard-copy album in a few weeks time.

Our wedding was in the small central Victorian town of Euroa, where my mum lived for 11 years. We had our ceremony in front a beautiful big old gum tree in the Seven Creeks Park followed by drinks at the neighbouring Euroa Croquet Club. We then walked the short distance to Northern Republic, a modern Italian restaurant in a beautiful old flour mill, for our reception. Our flowers were done by the local florist The Nest. My dress was from Raffaelle Ciuca in Brunswick , my bridesmaids got their dresses from ASOS and the boys suits are from Hallenstein Brothers. We danced to Groove Junction and had leftover wedding cake for days from Tegan’s Custom Cakes.

More to come…

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Summer reading

Reading Cloud Street by Tim Winton in Santorini back in 2016

Recently finished reading: over the Christmas break I read Educated by Tara Westover, which was pretty harrowing. For a palate cleanser after that I read a very trashy beach read called Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand, which is set in the US Virgin Islands and absolutely hit the spot (although made me hungry with constant descriptions of delicious Caribbean food). Of course the trashy beach read ended on a cliff hanger! So I had to read the sequel What Happens in Paradise. 

Currently reading: Three Women by Lisa Taddeo. It took a while to get into but now it’s hard to put down.

On my list: Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton is next on my list and already downloaded onto my kindle.

Recommendations: do you have any? I have a honeymoon coming up and need a pile of (virtual) books to take!

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5 unforgettable animal encounters

Someone recently arrived at my blog by searching ‘Kangaroos at Lucky Bay’ which is a beach in Esperance, Western Australia. Lucky Bay is famously popular who roos who love to hang out and provide the most Aussie photo opp imaginable. This got me thinking about animal encounters and how fortunate and fascinating they are. Especially as we lose so many of our precious species to deforestation and climate change. Here are my top 5:

Kangaroos at Lucky Bay

Skippys on the beach

A kangaroo lazing on a white sand beach, what’s not to love?! While there are usually kangaroos hanging out here, it took me a few visits before I saw them on the sand and not just in the nearby car park. It’s frustrating that tourists have taken to feeding them, which is a bad idea.

Sadly, we’ve lost a lot of kangaroos in the 2019/2020 bushfires. Among the charities helping wildlife are: Victorian Wildlife and NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES).

Gorillas in Uganda

The silver back gorilla (aka the adult male in charge of the troop)

I was quite nervous ahead of our gorilla trek in Uganda. What if a huge silverback ripped my face off?! Turns out our gorilla cousins (at least these ones) could not care less about humans and completely ignored us. We hiked up a dense hillside and heard a loud rumbling heading towards us, suddenly a gorilla somersaulted through a bush, landed comically in front of us and kept going. Later a mama gorilla walked past within touching distance, while a tiny human-like baby clung to her back. It was magical.

Whale Sharks at Ningaloo

A 6-metre long Whale Shark and I

I love snorkelling of any kind but this trip was absolutely next level and a highlight of 2019.  Photos just don’t do justice to how big these fish are. We were lucky on our trip and had a whale shark that was happy to let us swim alongside him for over an hour. It was amazing to see how they glide along so quickly with the tiniest flick of their tail.

Lioness and cubs in Tanzania

Lioness and her cubs

Going on safari is hands down one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had and I could do an endless list of amazing safari moments. But this one really stands out. We were about to leave the Serengeti National Park when my sister Sarah spotted a lioness stalking a gazelle. It got wind of her presence and sped off but we kept watching and the lioness walked back to where her three cubs were waiting. They pushed their way through the thick scrub and walked directly below us before heading off down the road. They were tiny and adorable.

Giraffe trying to bust into a flower farm in Kenya

“Excuse me, large hungry boi here”

Navaisha, Kenya, is a flower growing region that supplies florists around the world (those air miles eeek). There are large flower farms all over the countryside and obviously the local giraffe population is well aware of this! One evening we were riding our bikes back to the hire shop when we passed a huge hungry giraffe trying to get into a flower farm for a feast. Workers couldn’t get in or out and it was causing quite a spectacle among locals. Eventually they got him away by lightly swatting him with a stick. A very Kenyan reason for being home late!

And a bonus 6th animal encounter… any sea turtle, anywhere!

A beautiful turtle in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve in Caye Caulker, Belize

They are just beautiful creatures.

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2020

Here we are. It’s 2020, bushfires are raging all over my country and it feels like we are on the brink of World War III. What a time to be alive! I’ve just returned to Melbourne and work from a lovely two-week break in Tasmania. It was a wonderful time, balanced with the nagging guilt of enjoying myself while other people sheltered on a beach to escape flames while homes and wildlife burnt. If you can make a donation, please do. Here’s a list of ways you can help.

We had Christmas at Andy’s parents place in the north of Tasmania. We swim in the river, went on twilight walks and kayaking missions to spot platypuses, ate and drank way too much and hung out with dogs, friends and family.

Christmas Day in the inlaws’ vineyard

Festive Andy with Syd

Andy and his dad admiring the view

After having leftovers for dinner on Boxing Day Andy and I took our glasses of gin and tonic for a walk before sunset:

Up the garden path

A beautiful huge old gum tree

Do you reckon he feels like the black sheep of the family?

We spent hours by the river, swimming and kayaking up around the bend. Andy and I braved the Boxing Day crowds to buy two giant inflatables (a unicorn and an island) which provided hours of entertainment. On one swimming excursion Andy and his sister spotted a snake crossing the river and yelled out to me, which I took as ‘warning! a snake is headed straight for you!’ and promptly took off in a panic.

Relaxing with no snakes in sight

Andy and his sister on the island

You’re pretty much guaranteed to spot a platypus in this part of the Mersey River, but your odds are higher at dusk and dawn.

Platypus spotters

Did you know the collective noun for platypuses is a ‘paddle’?

Andy and I saw lots of them on our last evening

For New Year’s Eve we headed to the coast, staying at Bridport with a group of good friends.

The beach was so beautiful

Sun smart

Half our NYE crew

We turned Joe into a merman

It seemed only appropriate to ring in the 20s in flapper style! We danced on the wide deck, drank Aperol Spritzes and greeted midnight with sparklers and Mambo No. 5.

Andy and I in our dollar store costumes

It was a quiet New Years Day. I spent six blissful hours on the beach while others came and went, diving into the icy water to clear fuzzy heads. Over the two weeks I read two and a half books: Educated by Tara Westover plus two trashy beach reads by Elin Hilderbrand, the undisputed queen of that genre.

Me on my mostly solo beach day ❤

Bridport’s dramatic coastline

We took the very long way to Hobart from Bridport, stopping along the east coast for lunch at Devil’s Corner winery for sparkling wine and oysters. The view was pretty hazy due to smoke from bushfires.

Sally and I in our almost matching outfits at Devil’s Corner

Natural is the only way to have oysters

On our first night in Hobart we ordered Indian takeaway and watched Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which I loved. Have you seen it?

I love Hobart architecture

We headed to the Taste of Tasmania and continued our trend of overeating and overdrinking. I shouldn’t have worn high waisted jeans.

Just a lovely hydrangea bush

On our last evening of the trip we celebrated our friends’ Aimee and Ed’s engagement. That night we were treated to an absolutely spectacular sunset. Probably helped in part by the smoke in the air, unfortunately.

Face smush

Magic

On our very last morning a big group of us ate at Bear With Me, where I had an Australian classic known as s’ghetti on toast. It’s usually made with tinned spaghetti, dumped unceremoniously onto a slice of toast but in this case it was delicious tomato ragu pasta on sourdough, topped with pecorino and an egg. It really hit the spot.

Bye Hobart

We drove back up to Launceston for our bumpy flight to Melbourne where we were greeted with cool weather and much smokier skies.

My focus is now on our wedding (next month!). I hope you have a wonderful 2020.

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Lately

Kate and I at her Hen’s Party last Friday ❤

We are on the cusp of wedding season! I have four amazing weddings in the next month and I could not be more excited, particularly for my friend-since-high-school Kate’s Big Day feat. my debut role as Maid of Honour. What an honour! We celebrated Kate on a balmy Friday night with many cocktails and off-brand polaroids (see above).

Some things from around the internet I’ve been enjoying lately:

This article about sliding doors moments has one of the best comments section I’ve ever read

Why the best day of the week is definitely Thursday

How much money this fashion blogger makes and what she spends in a week

I watched three episodes of Modern Love, based on the New York Times column by the same name and it is excellent. Makes me yearn for NYC.

These Lizzo costumes win Halloween this year.

I started listening to this great podcast and I’m already hooked.

Apparently this colour clash is the thing for summer.

“I could care less” when you mean that you couldn’t care less and other misunderstood phrases. Mine is the mispronunciation of ‘pseudo’, a word I felt looked similar to ‘suede’ when I was young and hence why I used to say ‘sway-doh’ instead of ‘sue-doh’. Lol.

Have a great week xx

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Tips for making friends as an adult

New and old friends ❤

When I returned to Melbourne in 2016 following a five-year absence I went on a new friend making mission. Yes, I had my super close friends but many had moved interstate or overseas. The larger group of acquaintances that come with growing up in a place had slowly peeled away after years of only the odd ‘happy birthday!’ Facebook post back and forth, which unsurprisingly, failed to breathe life into our admittedly flimsy-to-begin-with friendships.

Falling into friendships is easy as a child and a teenager, but as an adult in a big city, can be daunting. Unfortunately we don’t pursue friendships with the same gusto as romantic relationships. Here are some tips in case you’re interested:

Put yourself out there

I recently sat next to the loveliest lady at the nail salon. We chatted about our respective upcoming weddings, about travel in the USA and about where we worked. As her manicure wrapped up I wondered if we should swap numbers to set up a coffee date. But before I could internally prepare my pitch she leaned over to say goodbye, said how nice it had been to meet me and I bade her farewell in return. I immediately regretted it and when I got back to my desk I used my freshly lacquered fingertips to google various spellings of her name and workplace like the creepy stalker I am. To no avail. I failed to put myself out there and so I failed to make a new friend*.

On the flip side, a few years ago my housemate (and good friend!) Dim and I planned to host some drinks at home. When we talked about who was coming she mentioned she’d invited our mutual hairdresser Jess whom she’d just met the week before. I was seriously impressed. We’ve been friends with Jess ever since! It’s just that easy. Lesson learnt: if you want to be friends with someone just invite them somewhere! The worst someone can say is no, but honestly, I don’t know anybody who wouldn’t want a new friend.

(* this story has a happy ending! My friend Lucy started working at the same place as my nail salon friend and managed to track her down. Apparently she also tried to find me on social media! We have plans to catch up for a drink some time soon.)

Woo the friend-of-a-friend

The easiest way to find friends is through the friends you already have. Say your friend Boris is having drinks for their birthday, go along and try to chat to someone you haven’t met or someone you’ve met in passing and would love to know better. Then in the following weeks, ask Boris if he wants to go to dumplings and to bring the friend you chatted up. Boom! You’re on your way.

I recently went to a hens party where I only knew the bride, I met so many great ladies that night and then we danced up a storm at the wedding. Now we are all going to drag queen bingo in a couple of weeks. Voila! A friendship love story.

Meet your online friends IRL

Meeting strangers from the internet is not weird or lame, it’s actually the best. Case in point: there are SO many Tinder weddings these days. Romance aside, it’s also a great way to make friends. I find Instagram to be the best friendship source. The aforementioned bride Sarah and I first ‘met’ through our respective WordPress blogs before following each other on Instagram. A few years later I realised she was friends In Real Life with my school friend Claire and now we attend each others’ weddings. So good!

I also met my friend Carmel, through Instagram. She lives in Hobart and we catch up for a drink every time I’m down there. I have two other Insta friends earmarked for a coffee soon, we just need to find the time.

Invite the work friend out

This is probably the second easiest way to make friends as an adult, but transitioning from work pals to weekend pals can be a challenge. The best way I’ve found, is to start with grabbing coffees together and then perhaps an after work drink and then move to hanging out outside work hours. I remember when my friend Brodie and I organised our first brunch together with our partners, it felt like a first date! I was nervous. Fast-forward a few months and the four of us are taking a ski trip to Mount Hotham together. Brodie and Andy now take each other on nerd movie dates. With my friend Lucy, I invited her to come to a really casual Christmas catch up at my house- friends ever since!

Join a club

I can’t speak from experience of joining a club in a city. But it definitely worked in the country (read about that here). The options are far more abundant in a large city so joining a sewing club or a pole dancing class or a table tennis squad is your ticket to finding friends with mutual interests. After a few weeks you can suggest going out for a coffee/drink/breakfast after training/class/rehearsals and go from there. That reminds me I’ve been meaning to join a salsa class for the last three years…

Reach out to a long-lost friend

There is absolutely no reason why you can’t become good friends with someone who has fallen off the radar (unless you accidentally ran over their guinea pig or something equally horrific). Unfortunately, the only people who seem to randomly reach out on social media are former schoolmates trying to sell you plastic containers or weight loss shakes. But that’s why it would be a wonderfully pleasant surprise to hear from an old friend, keen to catch up and talk about old times. Since moving back to Melbourne I reconnected with an old work friend and we regularly catch up, it’s super easy when people know your back story. The worst that can happen is they don’t reply. Oh well! Their loss.

Finally

Follow up and stay in touch! We are all busy people, no one is going to have endless hours for face-to-face catch ups but it’s super easy to send a ‘it was great hanging out last weekend!’ text or a ‘thought you’d enjoy this meme’ DM to stay in touch with someone. I was recently disappointed that I hadn’t seen a friend in a while so I put in my headphones and called her on a random Thursday night. We chatted for 45 minutes. We talked about the Bachelor, our careers, what was for dinner etc. It was like we’d just sat down for a coffee together but I was able to do the dishes at the same time. The older I get, the more I appreciate my friends and their assistance in wading through life’s tricky waters. So I’m going to cling to them like proverbial life rafts. How do you make new friends?

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