Links of the Week


Some stuff from the internet you may enjoy (and continuing the theme of having a goofy picture with these posts…)

All of us were devastated by Robin Williams’ untimely death last week. This is probably the best Robin Williams tribute I’ve seen.

You should also read Mara Wilson’s post.

Super cute dog comic.

My friend Laura created a very important tumblr.

Maisie Williams sees Saved By The Bell for the first time.

I want to give this one hour dress tutorial a try.

I liked this post about not complaining during pregnancy.

And this surprise wedding post from March is adorable.

I’m planning on getting one of these travel wedding dress boxes for our big day. Anyone else travelling with their dress? When I worked for Air NZ we’d often hang them up in business class, but I think I’ll take it in one of these to be sure it stays with me.

I’ve always wanted to write a novel. Writebox looks like a great tool.

And as always, The Toast delivers – Ayn Rand’s The Devil Wears Prada.



Lately on the blog:

The Dress / On girliness and wedding dresses / Project: our dining chairs



Coming up:

About our home, Apps I Love, a post on anger, and about being grateful.





The dress


Soon after my last post, I had two appointments booked in with bridal boutiques, had rounded up my Edinburgh girls, and was going to have good fun trying on dresses and chatting and ooh and ahhing.  I looked forward to the really girly day.

And then the boutique I had previously visited announced that they were closing down.

Alfred Angelo 2430 Back detail

I’d tried on a dress in there before that I quite liked (see above) – the Alfred Angelo 2430, and it was £1000, which was pushing my budget but do-able if I was paying it off.  I planned to go back on Saturday after the appointments and see if I still liked it (if I hadn’t found anything else in the appointments), but decided that if this sale was going on, I better check it out!  A quick look on Facebook revealed it was now £400 which, if you’re getting/have gotten married, you know is insane.

So we made a rush trip to the store last Thursday. I grabbed 4 dresses I had seen on the sale listings and tried the first two on – pretty but not for me.  And then thinking that I was still super keen on the 2430 above, I left it til last, and tried on another.

Which was the dress.  I mean, I tried on the 2430 again and I did like it. I like the back, I like the lace a lot, I liked the belt. But the one I picked was even better.

I’ll tell you a few sneaky details – it’s ivory, still lacy, still has a belt, but it also has a train. Which is so romantic and dreamy.  The sample I bought is sliiiiiightly too small (like, I need to lose maybe 3-5lb to get it fully zipped) and I’ll need to adjust a few things, but what bride doesn’t? And it’s not the same style as the 2430. But that’s all the info you get!




It’s in my closet, folded up, but I’ll soon be whisking it away to live at someone else’s house for while. I trust Dave, but I still want to make sure he doesn’t see it!  I’m old-school that way.  I’ll then take it in for adjustments in the new year.

(Oh, and it was £500!)

I took just Helen along with me, and we had a celebratory drink afterwards.  It was a different experience than the one I’d always thought about, but it was still great, and I’m so pleased with the dress!

Thanks again for the lovely comments/tweets/notes about my last post – I really appreciated it. I felt better immediately after posting it: I think I just needed to get it out.  I can’t wait for everyone to see my dress in April, and am so excited now about being a bride.




On girliness and wedding dresses



Wedding shop in Glasgow


It’s kinda hard to express what’s been going on in my head lately.  And I’ve kept quiet here while I’ve tried to work it out and I think keeping it in is a bad idea and I have no idea why I have.

We live in a world of expectations and fairytale movies and I feel like I’m caught up in this wedding industry lately, and it’s hard and weird.

I promised myself and worked really hard on early planning to make sure that I don’t let this wedding get the best of me. I’ve seen brides turn into maniacs; women who are intelligent and mature turn into bridezillas and control freaks.


Husband to be


Folks ask why I’ve done certain things so early and it’s really just a simple thing – space it out and it won’t freak you out.  There is still a bit of a freak-out going on in my head sometimes, but that’s mainly because I’m so, so far away from everything related to my wedding.  I chose to get married in NZ, because that’s always where I wanted to, but it turns out we have so many friends here that we know won’t make it, and that’s kinda bittersweet.  And all communication with suppliers is over email or through my mother, and that’s never ideal – despite hating the phone, we still don’t always communicate that well with emails. Tone, and all that.

The main thing in my head at the moment, which is making me super sad, is the wedding dress shopping. I started it when my friend Deb was visiting a few weeks back, because I thought after being friends for so long, it’d be a nice way for her to be involved, and it was a ridiculously hot day, so I was sweaty (horrible getting dresses on and off) and didn’t look my best and I felt self-conscious being in my underwear around a stranger, and though I tried on a dress I really liked, I felt less than bridal, and quite homesick.


Scotland is beautiful lately


I watch a lot of Say Yes to the Dress (I started for ideas, now I just do it to torture myself), and I know that I have always pictured that moment when you get your wedding dress and it’s perfect for you and you have that special feeling of knowing it’s yours and what you’ll look like on your wedding day. I feel like I’m supposed to do this with my bridesmaids and my mother and I’ve been a bit deprived of that.  I never like to dwell on or pity myself for things that I have chosen, and I know I’ve chosen to be here. But it still hurts a bit.

I know we discussed doing it when I was in New Zealand, but I felt so very unattractive and overweight at the time, and it just didn’t really come up. I have put off even looking (other than occasionally online) because I don’t want to be the one who can’t fit a wedding dress sample size, and when I went a few weeks ago, I only really fit one of the dresses. It was a bit sucky and felt a bit deflating and I just feel like I’m missing out.


Part of our wedding venue


And it’s silly because I know I’ll get that moment when I’m getting ready in the morning of my wedding and my mother and sister and everyone sees me in my dress all ready to go and we get to share that together.  And it’s so very cliche and girly to want to stand on a podium in a bridal shop while everyone oohs and ahhs and tells you it’s “the dress” but.. I want it. I really want to feel special in this and enjoy this.

I’m losing weight and working on that and also working on telling myself that it’s not 100% necessary for me to be the size I want to be before I try things on. If I lose the weight I want and feel body-confident for my wedding, then that’s awesome, but I don’t need to wait to find a dress until I do. I’ve been telling myself that I have to wait for too long and I need to stop getting myself down and just get on with it. Adjustments can be made and dresses can be changed and geez, I’m not enormous. I’m just bigger than I want to be and bigger than I’ve been most of my life and I go into bridal shops and want to yell at everyone I’m not usually this big I assure you like I’m hiding inside a big person’s body or something. And sometimes it feels that way.


Me in June


So I have appointments again in a few weeks and we’re going to go for a coffee in-between them and have lunch afterwards and a drink or two and really try to enjoy it. I’ve reached out to girlfriends here and asked them to be my replacement family for some upcoming shopping trips, and hopefully some will join us then, but if not, it’ll be a nice morning out with Helen.

I think I’ll feel so much more excited about the wedding once I find my dress, and I think I need to just let go a bit and trust everyone around me that the day will work out how I’ve envisioned it.  These 8 months are going to fly by.




Project: Our dining chairs


It all started with Kirstie.  I saw her “Fill Your House for Free” show where she painted and distressed a chair (except I hated the colour she used) and thought, “Geez. I’d love to paint our TV unit/get some chairs to do that”, and asked for her book for Christmas last year.  A new project was born.



At the Canonmills EFI (go visit them, they have great stuff and do great work for the homeless!), we found 4 chairs for £40 that Dave was quite fond of. I wasn’t 100% sold, but they seemed really well-made, despite the hideous cushions.

These steps can be replicated for any piece of furniture you want to repaint/distress for a vintage feel!

If you’re doing chairs or anything with a fabric seat, the first thing to do is to pop out the seats and sand the shell of the chair. It doesn’t have to be extreme sanding, just to take any varnish away and allow the paint to “cling” to the wood.  We used a small pointed hand-sander from Dave’s Mum.

Then paint ‘em with a good few layers of brilliant white matte emulsion paint, available from any hardware store, as a primer.




After they’ve had a chance to dry, paint ‘em your chosen colour.  Be careful to smooth over any drips, and flip the chair over to do the underside. Go back again later on with a smaller brush and touch-up anywhere you missed.  Then after that’s dry (no more than a day so the paint isn’t too hardened), use a putty scraper to scrape away both layers of paint from the edges/legs/anywhere you’d like it to look “distressed”. If you’re not going for a vintage/distressed look, then feel free to leave ‘em looking new and modern!



Then they need 2 layers of clear gloss varnish (“decorator’s varnish”, apparently. We just found clear gloss wood varnish).

Then you need to move on to the cushions.  If yours are like mine, they’ve had fabric wrapped/folded over the foam and stapled to the bottom. A good solution! and one I’m going to use. Just not with the ugly fabric.  One chair cushion was covered with a pillow case.




This requires a bit of grunt work – use the back of a hammer/pliers to pull the staples out and pull the old fabric off.  Confession: I had Dave do some of this – sorry for the blur, he moves fast.

The next bit will be a breeze for folks who like/are good at gift-wrapping. I have a strange skill for it (so have been designated “household gift-wrapper”) so thoroughly enjoyed this.




If the foam under the old fabric is in good nick, you’re good to move on. If it’s crumbly or damaged or just plain gross, measure it and go get yourself some foam and cut to size. Luckily ours was perfect and even had wee grooves in it to fit the chair.

Cut around the cushion, cutting out a piece big enough to wrap up and over the wood edges. Tip: If it has a pattern on it, like mine does, make sure it’s facing the way you want it to!




Pull the fabric up and get it as neat as possible on the edges. Staple in place as you go.




Don’t worry, if like me, you didn’t cut particularly cleanly because you couldn’t find your sewing scissors. No one’s gonna see it.  Make sure to fold it neatly over each corner (think kinda hospital corners for bed sheets) and staple in place.




Then put it back in the chair and marvel at your creation!


7 8 9 10


This one’s not so perfect with some paint blobs here and there – remember to smooth over any drips or blobs in your paint as you go.  Once I learned this, the other 3 chairs came out great. And I used the blob parts as a guide for where to scrape when distressing. These blobs above came off nicely with a scraper and I varnished over the nice wood below.



Et voila! a collage of piccies.  I was so pleased with them I wept a tear or two (I am a big sook). I can’t wait to repeat the process again sometime, possibly with our TV unit, and then again when we move to NZ – we’ll need to find us some good chairs there!

Enjoy! And if you do a similar project, let me know!





New Zealand 2014


Below are some pictures of our most recent trip to NZ in April-May (Instagram):



And some camera shots from my Dad’s birthday (I also photographed our wedding venue, but you’re not getting to see that!):




Pity I didn’t use the camera a bit more – I think I was just enjoying it, without trying too hard to capture it.


Under 9 months to go til we go back!








[500th post on the blog!]




I’ve started this post about 10 times but I think I’ve just been awash with work since coming back.

To fill you in, the day after my last post, after I booked to go into the dentist, my condition worsened greatly.  I had a streaming nose, a headache and the toothache just seemed to intensify by the hour. There was no sleeping going on, a lot of painkillers being taken and quite a bit of crying happening.  I felt so helpless to relieve the pain and the more sleepless hours I had, the more difficult it became to cope.



Sunday morning I phoned NHS24 and then the Lothian Dental Advice service, and got myself an appointment for the emergency dentist.  It says a lot about the pain I was in that I couldn’t bring myself to wait any longer. I was going to jump head-on into one of my worst fears – one of the worst situations for me to get myself into.

When I phoned and organised the appointment, I mentioned my fears. I have a problem, however, with saying this without tears, which is kinda funny in retrospect. I mean, I could right now, but I had this ridiculous problem where I would choke whenever I tried to express that I was scared.

They got the point.

I believe she put a note on my file, because when I went into the room (Dave in tow, bless him), they were unbelievably kind and gentle with me, and explained absolutely everything as they went, and while I felt like a small child in that chair that day, I appreciated it so much.



They explained that the crown had broken on the wisdom tooth, and that it was badly infected and needed to be extracted.  After it was pulled she explained that there was “communication” into the sinus cavity, and that was why I had a runny nose and headache, and an awful taste in my mouth.

I was told to rest, not to lie flat, to take ibuprofen and decongestants and was given high-dose antibiotics.  I went to bed.

For a week.



I spent some time on the couch, but mostly I was in bed, sleeping for around 3 hours at a time, sitting propped up, counting the hours between each drug intake.  The pain in my tooth (or where it was, rather) lasted barely any time at all, but the sinus infection raged like crazy through me.  The headache was almost unbearable at times, I was weak and dizzy and so tired, but the worst was the infection coming into my nose and mouth.  I wasn’t allowed to blow my nose, only to wipe if needed, and honestly. I’ve had meningitis. I’ve had pneumonia.  Hell, I’ve had vestibular neuronitis.  All of them were more pleasant than this.  I don’t want to gross y’all out, but it was like having bin juice in my nose and mouth. Or pus-y water. Or something.  It was downright disgusting and after a few days it became seriously depressing.



Despite the joy of eating as much icecream as I could, I spent quite a bit of time crying.  Then I spent quite a bit of time chastising myself for crying.  But I just desperately needed sleep and relief from the pain and the.. discharge.  Once it finally did start to ease and I felt human again, I vowed to never again take for granted not being in pain. I’m typing this right now, pain-free, and I’m so grateful.



And the main positive out of all this? (because I am nothing if not disgustingly positive), I went to my new dentist on the Wednesday, and I wasn’t scared.  I lay in the chair and felt like most other dentist-goers, feeling nervous but not terrified. And despite the fact that my other upper wisdom tooth needs to be pulled in a few weeks? the rest of my teeth are fine.  Like, honestly. Who goes 10 years without a dentist and gets no fillings? I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.



Once I was up and moving again, I put my effort into improving my immune system, yet again.  Vitamins and manuka honey and sleeping at a reasonable hour and getting back into exercise. I’d stopped running because my shoes were terribly unsupportive, so I got myself some new shoes. They’re kinda like running on air.

Oh and I refinanced my debt, which is going to save me like £500.  And I sold some stuff and upgraded my iPad.  That has given me a wee happy boost.



We’ve also had some good times with family lately – Dave’s brother and his wee family are moving back to NZ in September so we’ve tried to get together a bit lately.  Dave’s brother turned 40 and then wee Imogen turned 4, so we’ve had a few celebrations.



And the weather has been pretty good to us, too.  So I’m trying to put that week behind me and focus on the now.

I’m also now the world’s most obsessive teeth-cleaner.







Facing fears



I decided (possibly naively) that this year I was going to face some of my fears. Bold move!  But I turned 30 and thought: now or never.

I’d like to say I don’t have many fears.  But I do.  And as a start, I wanted to tackle 2 of the biggest ones.




That, good friends, is a picture of the entrance to my loft.  Behind the trap door is the entrance to our office/spare bedroom, so you can see how bright and sunny a day it is. Up in the loft, it is pure darkness.

I’d like to say that I was a little girl who was terrified of the dark who grew up to be a woman who scoffed at it, but I’m not.  I don’t know if it’s the films I’ve tortured myself with my whole life or my over-active imagination (probably both), but I still struggle with the darkness.



I used to, as a child, read under the covers for hours and hours with a light – any light I could find. I’d get tired enough that I couldn’t stay awake, and then I could finally sleep. As I got older I have used lamps, hallway lighting (coming a bit into my bedroom) or, well, Dave to help me sleep in the darkness.  When he is on shift, the hallway light stays on until he is home.  He makes me feel safe enough to handle the dark the rest of the time.



I don’t know anyone else with these issues. Sometimes I wonder if it’s just because I don’t ask anyone about it, but I doubt that the majority of my friends panic when they hear a weird noise and burst into tears when in their panic they can’t find a light switch.

So I’m working on it.  My first step is that I tell myself it’s okay. I try to breathe normally. I let my eyes adjust for longer.  I know evil presences are not in my home, and things are fine.  It’s working a wee bit.  I came down from the loft last week holding a box in my hands and I was so very very close to dropping it and jumping down from the ladder just so I could get away from the loft.  Instead, I  took deep breaths, carried on slowly down, and slowly used the pole to close the trap-door.  It was small, but a step.



My other, major, more pressing issue is my fear of the dentist.  I’ve discussed this before, but it’s not a nervousness or a hassle to go, it is panic attack territory. Crying in public territory. Taking 6 months to work up the courage to walk in territory.

When I was a kid, I had a dentist. She wasn’t kind. She wasn’t gentle. And she didn’t believe me when I told her I was in pain: that her injections were not working. She didn’t believe that she had cut the side of my gums when she slipped with her drills until she realised how much I was bleeding. She told me to “stop crying”, that I was “being a baby” and that she’d treated kids in Guatemala who were braver than I.



I’ve never forgotten that feeling – being told that my feelings and fears were invalid, that I was stupid and small and a baby for putting my hand up to say I was in pain.  I lived in fear of this every time I went, and together with the fact that I knew it would cost me thousands (living in America and then New Zealand, where socialised medicine unfortunately does not cover dentistry), I eventually stopped going.  I think it has been well over a decade since I last went.



Well. Today, I walked in. I’ve been in pain for days, and I’ve been so scared to do anything about it, but I can’t put it off anymore.  Luckily, we have the NHS, so it will be affordable, and everyone I met when I registered today seemed nice.  I asked for an appointment with a dentist who was good with nervous people, and hopefully she will be. I go back on Wednesday.



Part of the motivation for all of this fear-facing is that it’s likely that I might be pregnant at some point next year and become a mother, and if I can’t look after my own teeth or cope with my own home then how am I going to chase away the big bad for my little ones? How am I going to convince them that dental hygiene is important if my teeth are rotting away and I’m ignoring the pain?

And I think what makes me break down over these issues and cry is that I am so hurt by these two things that are so very irrational. I know there is nothing in my loft or waiting in the dark for me and I know that I need to look after my teeth and not all dentists are horrible, but my own brain is fighting me on it.  It’s like my own mind is failing me, and that is so disappointing.  I need to stand up and say that I am bigger than these fears.

I need to be able to be brave.  And so I go.  Wish me luck.