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That holiday feeling

It's finally that time of year and I'm so happy it's here. It's been a great year but some seafood, beaches and shopping for a week is definitely in order.

So 2011...
...I surprised my mum for her 60th birthday back in Oz
...two of my close friends got married and we had a rocking time at both weddings
...two of my best girls got engaged
...my brother got engaged
...I finally bit the bullet and agreed on a wedding (are you sensing a theme here?)
...I met one of my cousins for the first time
...I reunited with one of my cousins after thirteen years (she's all grown up and gorgeous!)
...I discovered Glee (it makes me happy)
...I found my muse
...I braved an audition for the first time since high school (super fun)
...I started writing again
...I went to Budapest, Iceland, Lyon, Warsaw, Champagne, the Red Sea, Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, New York and tomorrow - Florida!

It's definitely been a good year.

And to sign off for 2011, here are a few things from my week that I defy you not to like too:

Christmas lights in London

Mixed pasta shapes - there's something seriously fun about short and long pasta

Dancing under disco balls...lots of disco balls

Happy holidays everyone!

Under Pressure

What's possibly worse than being a reluctant bride? Being a bridesmaid, for the third time, before my wedding. Now, being a bridesmaid is not the issue. I love that I am going to be part of a fabulous day with my friends, and hell, have a holiday home to see the family at the same time. What I don't love is being on the opposite side of the world and being entrusted to buy my own dress. Like it wasn't stressful enough making a decision about my own wedding dress(es)?! Now I have to make a decision that might affect how someone's wedding photos turn out. A decision I am not capable of making on my own! March just doesn't seem far enough away...

Not one, but two

Introducing the secret life of me.

Have I mentioned I'm engaged? To an amazing, ever patient, wonderful man. Or the Creative Genius, as he likes to be known. Who I love and adore. Who waited for two years from the point of proposing to me agreeing to actually get married.

So, what's the problem here? Simply put: while I don't mind getting married, I don't really want a wedding. The Creative Genius, however, most definitely wants a wedding. Despite my persistent asking every week whether he really wants to force all our friends and family to have to attend another wedding. "Yes!" he cries.

In May, I cracked. I wanted us and our two closest friends in Vegas. He wanted a full English wedding with everyone we know. We compromised on Thailand with a maximum of 40 people. We agreed low key. We looked at villas, found an amazing place and booked it for September. 2012. "Phew," I thought, "far enough away to not have to worry."

Some months passed. In October, I went to New York and on a whim visited Cymbeline, tried on a handful of dresses and decided I had found exactly what I wanted and need not look any further. The only problem is I found exactly two perfect dresses. "How did this happen?" I wailed, "How could I go from not even wanting a wedding to being the kind of bride who is actually considering buying two dresses?"

(For the record, there is definitely a need for two great outfits - more on that later).

The lovely ladies at Cymbeline contacted me and offered me a good price for both. My fabulous friend now living in Paris put me in touch with her friend who coincidentally works for Cymbeline in Paris. All things considered, with travel to Paris being slightly more convenient, I told New York I wouldn't be coming. They offered me an amazing price.

I deferred some more. I told myself to just choose one. I told myself to get a grip. I told New York I couldn't really justify the airfare. They offered me a price that dreams are made of.

Still I procrastinated. I had a full scale breakdown. I accused the Creative Genius of wanting a wedding but not doing anything to organise it (despite nothing needing to be organised). I decided the wedding was off. The CG conceded that while he did definitely want the wedding, my happiness was more important.

Then I did get a grip. And I remembered the reason I agreed to marry the CG in the first place. I love him. And every single day he makes me happy. What's a wedding between lovers?

So today, I called up and ordered two dresses (eek!). I'm hoping this isn't a slippery slope to bridezilladom...

Second time lucky?

I'm genuinely freaking out today. I have discovered it is actually possible to be simultaneously great and terrible at commitment. For instance, I am great at committing to social engagements weeks ahead of time - and I actually show up for them. However, I'm terrible at booking flights. Even when I know I have to be somewhere on a certain date and there nothing is going to change that, I find it extremely hard to press the "continue" button and move to the next page to input payment details.

Today, I'm surrounded by love. I'm older, I'm confident, and I think I finally know myself. I'm happy, and I want to make people I love happy too. But I'm having to drag part of me kicking and screaming along with the sensible side of me. I know what I should do, I know what the right thing to do is...so why is it so hard to do it?

Secret fan

I never thought I would describe myself as impressed by celebrity, but I have to admit - I actually have a girl crush on Gwyneth Paltrow.

For starters, she was fabulous in Glee (and if watching Glee doesn't make you want to sing, dance and laugh, then I really have to question how cold blooded you are).

Secondly, I discovered her cookbook. Now admittedly, I have only cooked a few things out of it. But what I absolutely loved about it was the tone in which its written. Her love for her father and her love of food is apparent, and it makes you love them too.

Then yesterday, I was directed to her website GOOP - and this is why I really fancy Gwyneth right now. The idea around GOOP focuses on a few key ideas: make, go, get, do, be and see. It's so simple, but so perfect a way to set myself a little challenge each week.

I'm going to be a little less literal and stretch the ideas a bit, because I don't really think I should be aiming to go get (read: buy) myself something specifically each week. But, you get the idea.

So! Next week's challenge is:

MAKE: a new recipe involving chicken
GO: to my work Christmas party (an easy one for my first week!)
GET: the Christmas shopping done
DO: something nice for a stranger
BE: inquisitive (or potentially annoying) and ask why at least once in every conversation
SEE: if I can go a day without logging onto facebook or twitter

Wish me luck!

Fabulous Friday

I had a great day today. I often have great days, so that isn't exactly unusual, but today was especially great because work was crazy and depressing as ever but at the end of the day I actually just shut down the laptop and stopped worrying about it. Why? Because I've got other things to worry about now. Like what to write - and it's an exciting thing to have to worry about.

I recently discovered jottfy, a great community of people who want to read, write and share. It has been a real pleasure getting to understand how it works a little better this week, and it is truly humbling to see the talent that people have.

Not wanting to look like a stalker who doesn't contribute, I forced my first few words out this evening which I am pretty proud of despite it being a pretty laughable attempt. Still, I'm hoping this is just the start of bigger and better things...

Meeting of minds

So in all the excitement I forgot to say - I met a cousin of mine last month. For the first time ever.

Thanks to the wonder of facebook, somehow living on the opposite side of the world (then slightly closer a mere 5,571kms away) doesn't seem to be a barrier to getting to know someone anymore. So after a few exchanges and a recognition of similarities, I went on a blind date weekend with my cousin in my favourite city in the world - New York. Kind of crazy right?

Was I a little bit nervous? Hell yeah. What if we didn't get on? And we had a whole weekend to spend with each other?

I needn't have worried. I couldn't have asked for a more amazing weekend with a like minded soul. If she wasn't my cousin, I'd probably have a huge girl crush. I hate to say it, but facebook - you rock my world.

Nightmare inspiration

So I've resolved (not for the first time) to write a book. But this time I actually might have something worth writing about. And it was all inspired by a nightmare I was having about work, being unable to find my father, visiting some scary log cabins....and finally chatting to a new guy who says "I can't believe you're turning 32!". BINGO.

Love and other four letter words

Four letter things that I love. This is really hard, try it sometime.

Food. Pics (do abbreviations count?). Wine (sometimes, usually not the morning after!). Eyes. Pink. Life.

Sometimes I really dislike people

Well, I wasn't going to get much sleep anyway, so why not post a quick blog.

If you believe the news reports, London is about to implode - it's currently being burnt and looted by a bunch of opportunistic, cowardly thieves.

The thing is, it's happening right here where I live. And it really is the saddest thing. Watching news reports of the street fifty metres from your front door, and seeing shop fronts being smashed and trashed, and thieved from. Hearing police helicopters directly over your house, shining spotlights down.

People's lives are being ruined, their homes and livelihoods being destroyed. And it's all because of other people who just don't care.

Incentive not to bring another life into this world?

It wasn't my fault

The blogger gods conspired against me and I was thwarted in my attempts to publish any further photo diary entries. Well, that's what happened on Thursday anyway. And then I forgot yesterday. Did I mention I'm easily demotivated? Maybe easily distracted and bored would be more accurate. And is it kind of sad that I'm still proud of the fact that I kept it up for over a week?

Anyway, here's one last photo from Thursday. This really did surprise me once I noticed the shop - there are a vast amount of people still using sunbeds. And while I readily admit that I do (despite knowing all the risks) still feel better about myself with a tan, I'm still surprised that so many other people seem to feel the same way about willingly doing damage to themselves - and paying for it! I love people. We might be silly and vain, but at least we look good.

Proving my point

Massive fail. Forgot the whole photo gig. So today it's a dodgy picture of my crappy rug. It's that or a photo of my sagging wardrobe rail. I hate when I suspect I don't have the staying power and I prove myself right.

The less said the better

I'm not even going to attempt to make sense tonight. Very jolly after cocktails with the usual suspects, think it's now time for bed before I embarrass myself even further. I'm pretty impressed I've even completed my photo for the day. It's a new me!

Night y'all.

Just popping to Paris for the day

Even though it's only a couple of hours on the train, there is still something (for an Aussie) pretty glam about going to Paris for a business meeting. And the view from the office ain't bad either.

The perfect Sunday recovery

A hearty breakfast, walk in the sunshine, and my favourite chemical with some idiot box viewing guaranteed to make me laugh.

And despite the slow Sunday brain, I've just noticed that all my posts since coming to the UK are still based on Australian time. So I was actually posting in the future. And now that I've changed my timezone, every single one of my posts from the past just moved even further back into the past. Virtual nostalgic time travel? You be the judge...

An oasis of calm

Just a slice of what I love about London - a historical building, layered with iconic red phone boxes, where (in a city of nearly eight million people) someone can find a quiet place.

Emotional designs

What you don't realise, as the average girl on the block, is just how much thought goes into every small detail that you read everyday. Marketing managers, editors, publishers, design, advertising, public relations and market research agencies (to name just a few) have pored energy and attention into ensuring that the typography is just exactly so.

Rounded at the edges enough to take the hard edge off the message; soft, slanted and curling to convey romance; bold and upright and straight lined to portray authority and demand attention. I love how the simplest change of font can elicit different emotions, even when the words stay the same. In the same way, I love how the simplest nuance of tone, the way someone can say something even as familiar as your name, can take your breathe away.

The last of the spoils

As far as chocolate goes, it rates behind any kind of salty savoury snack, and any kind of gummy lolly. And if I was going to eat chocolate, it certainly wouldn't be this brand. And it definitely wouldn't be in block format.

So why, in the aftermath of probably the craziest Easter I've ever had the pleasure of attending (think three roast birds, their eggs for breakfast, and a frantic hunt - thank you Essex), am I still helping myself to a seemingly endless supply of chocolate?

The proverbial glass ceiling

I've been here 5 times in 8 days. A sign I need to move forward?

It's a little bit fuzzy

This pretty much sums up my day: slightly out of focus, awash with fragments of bright light, and full of eye drops. My right eye seems to be taking an eternity to recover - and I always thought the left one would be the lazy one.

Life through a mobile phone

I've become a slave to "technology" - and I'm not even sure how most of it really works.

There's something very wrong with the fact that the most recent "would you rather?" I came up with didn't involve boobs, vomit, faeces or smack down wrestling, but was instead a rather more sedate (yet worryingly difficult to answer) "would you rather live without a mobile phone or the internet?".

I love it. I waste endless hours on it. On my phone or kindle while in transit, on my laptop when at home, on my iPod whenever I feel like living my life to music. And my only complaint is that all this unseasonal glorious sunshine makes it difficult to see the screens.

So, I'm going to combine my love of devices and connectivity with my resolve to procrastinate less. I believe it was, oh, December 2009 when I decided to keep a photo diary of my travels. That ended quite prematurely when I promptly forgot on the first few days to take a picture and subsequently wrote the whole thing off (what can I say, I'm easily demotivated). Today I am going to try and start with something a little more manageable - a photo a day for a month. Fingers crossed.

Summer embodied in shoes...