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Engagement on a budget

Yep, so you know that I’m engaged, right? After the squealing and the jumping up and down comes the scary bit. Oh my gosh the planning. So, so much stuff needs to be planned! I guess I hadn’t given it that much thought beforehand, but boy was I thinking about it when the whole ‘going to be married reaaal soon’ thing sunk in.

The first step was the engagement party. Matty and I wanted to have it as close to our engagement date as possible so that we could celebrate the event itself with all of our friends and family in one space, at one time. Saturday the 2nd of August it was.

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So the venue, the guest list, the decorations, whether we would be serving drinks and food… all of that stuff needed to be sorted asap. Ugh. So here comes the budget part.

For the venue Matty’s parents kindly agreed to let us use their backyard. Booyah, free! The decorations were of course crafted by me, no question there. The number of guests (we had approximately 100 or so) and therefore the food/drinks was the only real expense of the night. 

Matty designed the gorgeous invitations above and had them printed for a very reasonable cost.IMG_2207

We sussed out a catering and serving price from a company that I used to work for. Wow-ee am I glad that we did our homework. It was WAY WAY WAY out of our budget. I knew their food was good, but we couldn’t justify the expense. So we had a look around and found a company that could provide kitchen staff and servers for a much more reasonable price. 

I used my beloved Pinterest to help decide what food would work and could be made for 100 guests, as well as sticking to the party basics, then Mum and I got to work checking out prices. We scoured Costco (and took photos of everything!) and then the supermarkets to find the cheapest price for all the food stuffs (and liquor) that we needed.

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The creation of the ‘honeymoon fund’ envelopes

Costco ended up being an absolute life saver. We bought 90% of all the party supplies there. The rest came from Coles, Liquorland, the fruit shop and $2 shops. 

The food, aside from being cheap, was very time consuming to prepare. I may have over extended myself when I decided to make lolly skewers, cookies, antipasto skewers, fruit skewers and meatballs with dipping sauce. It was sort of fun though.

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The sign to accompany the envelopes

My snazzy fabric envelopes were handmade with fabric that I found for super cheap at a recent craft fair and the wooden tree sign was from a discount craft store outlet.

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I did have a whole lot of support from everyone. Mum helped me shop for all of the nourishment, as well as helping me thread skewers last minute. Sharon organised the entire marquee set up, and of course offered her house for the venue. My dad provided heating, chairs and fancy whiskey. Ron (and the other “uncles”) served as barmen. Matty set up the sound system and complained about being tortured whilst threading lollies onto skewers, haha. IMG_2412On the day we were actually pretty damn organised. Matty and I made some last minute food stuffs and then I was treated to a super fancy professional make up experience by my sister in law to be, Jess. IMG_2413

How all brides to be should look at their engagement party

How all brides to be should look at their engagement party

The night itself was fricking freezing. So much so that blower heaters iced over and many feet went numb. But the company was great, if not a little darn scary. Who knew that 100 friends and family in one place is reaaallly overwhelming? The food was delicious, the drinks were consumed, some terrible photos were taken (more on that in a later post), the kitchen/serving staff did a pretty good job, and everyone seemed to have a really good time.

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Our little ‘honeymoon haul’ definitely made us feel loved, as did all the sweet things that were written in our cards.

But back to the budget part. All up, the party cost a little over $2,000. For a guest list of 100+ including food, alcoholic drinks and kitchen/wait staff I feel that it was money well spent. 

My tips are: research, research, research (and document everything), shop around, do what you can yourselves and don’t be shy to ask for assistance (or to accept it!).

And I’ll just leave you with one of the many giggle worthy messages that we received. This one was from Matty’s indoor cricket buddies.

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365 Project: 1-7 July

Day 177: Last minute rush to the grandparents house when Mum's car decided to cark it in their driveway

Day 177: Last minute rush to the grandparents house when Mum’s car decided to cark it in their driveway

Day 178: MY SEEDLINGS ACTUALLY SPROUTED!!!

Day 178: MY SEEDLINGS ACTUALLY SPROUTED!!!

Day 179: The best place to sit is obviously on top of the blanket that is trying to be made

Day 179: The best place to sit is obviously on top of the blanket that is trying to be made

Day 180: There was actually some warmth in the sun

Day 180: There was actually some warmth in the sun

Day 181: Thanks Pinterest for instructing me on how to get curly hair in about 5 minutes

Day 181: Thanks Pinterest for instructing me on how to get curly hair in about 5 minutes

Day 182: This shot is actually from Friday night, but it's still how I spent my day in my feelin- sorr- for-myself/hungover state

Day 182: This shot is actually from Friday night, but it’s still how I spent my day in my feeling- sorry- for-myself/hungover state

Day 183: The finished wishing well envelope trio

Day 183: The finished wishing well envelope trio

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So I eat some weird stuff…

As I was spreading some liverwurst onto some wholegrain crackers as a belated breakfast this morning I thought to myself “so I really do eat some weird stuff”. I have always been a bit of an odd eater. As a child, and as an adult too, I don’t find myself bouncing up and down excitedly to eat all those typical breakfast foods, or any food really before 9am. Eggs: meh, verging on gross. Cereal: maybe, but I’m not really a fan of the whole milk thing. Toast: In this house we don’t even own a toaster, so you can probably see how much we eat toast.

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When I was younger I have some odd food memories, such as eating liverwurst on slices of apple. Yes this memory is why I decided to buy some recently. I also remember being scolded for eating crushed pineapple for breakfast by school teachers. There was also this thing with those Country Cheese biscuits which involved regurgitation that shouldn’t be mentioned ever again.

Half veg, half meat lasagne

Half vegetable, half meat lasagna

These days I suppose I eat more ‘normally’, with a few odd things thrown in here and there. Say, drinking the Chinese vinegar soy after the dumplings are gone. Ahem.

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But let’s talk about all the great foods that are out there. Here’s what I’ve been loving lately from my beloved Pinterest:

  • Green Bean Avocado Fried Rice. This was yummy and oh so filling the other night.
  • Shaved Asparagus and Whipped Ricotta Pizza. I made this last night for Matty and his parents and we all loved it! It even got Matty and I to try asparagus.
  • Easy Lemon Curd. I made this lemon curd to fancy up (and to replace some very sad berries) on a pavlova for Easter.
  • Cheesy Leftover Mashed Potato Pancakes. We’ve made this recipe a few times now and I’m putting it on the list for this weeks meals.
  • One Pot Pasta. I accidentally left the leftovers of this on the bench all night and almost cried on my way home from work the next morning when I realised.
  • Vegetable Bake. This recipe is GOOD. Who knew that grating and combining a bunch of veggies (and adding cheese and bacon) would be so tasty.
  • Roasted Rosemary Almonds. Matty requests that I made these probably once every few months. They’re great for a so-hungry-i’m-going-to-die-whilst-i’m-cooking-dinner-snack.
  • Roasted Beet Hummus. This was the recipe that started my ‘I’m going to make all the hummus’ feeling.

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So tell me about your weird food loves, or even hates. I wanna know!

 

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Look what I made: All the things edition

Lately I seem to be on the biggest craft kick. I have a million things I want to do and make, but more importantly I’ve actually been finishing projects. Not starting and then abandoning, or (and this is the worst) just pinning or writing down an idea and doing nothing else with it.

First was a frame to display my drop and hoop earrings. There’s plenty of ideas with lace or wire strung across frames, or just a piece of sheer fabric stretched to hook the earrings in, but I found the perfect solution with a crocheted table cloth my Grandma gave me. I love crochet. I do. But as a tablecloth, nope!

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It worked out extremely well. Easy to hook the earrings in, so simple to display, and the frame was even lighter than I thought because I forgot about removing the glass.

Second project was the completed catch-all crocheted from builders line. I had a little issue with the edges (they rolled in on themselves) but it turned into a ‘just go with it’ moment as I had passed the point of no return. A catch-all plate is perfectly acceptable.

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Third project was a knitted pixie hood. Pink Brutus had a very cute and VERY easy method to knit one up.

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I’ve noticed I have a ‘thing’ with knitting or crocheting. If the wool looks appealing I’m 100x more likely to keep at it and finish it in a reasonable time frame. If not I really have to force myself to get it done. The mustard colour of the wool and the natural wooden knitting needles kept my happy meter right up there and I got this project done in about a week. IMG_1561

It also has plaited tassel/cords which are hidden under my hair.

Lucky last was a large, but actually quite simple one. A macrame screen for the back door.

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Emma from A Beautiful Mess made a beautiful macrame screen for her study, which I adapted to be an insect screen for our back door. I know it’s not going to be perfect, but I’m sure anything is better than the wide open space that we currently have when our back door is open.

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The worst part was cutting up and attaching the cotton cord to the dowel. I’m pretty sure, even after measuring the pieces against each other, that each one is different. The macrame was dead easy, I used this tutorial here, but the ends leave a little to be desired. They’re all different lengths, but y’know what. I’m not perfect, life’s not perfect, so these ends aren’t perfect.

Nicole

 

 

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Personalised notebooks

My brain is pretty terrible at remembering things unless I write them down. In high school and uni I studied alot of the time by re-writing my notes. It’s just the way I work. Even today I write myself to-do lists (often on my hand which so grown up, I know) otherwise it will just seep out of my brain.

paint splattered notebook

At the beginning of the year I decided to personalise my own calendar/diary for 2014. I bought a hard cover notebook, painted and splattered the front and back covers and finished it off with a coat of clear sealer. It was so much more me. It fit my needs because I made it. I decided what I wanted on each page, how to write up the date and days of the week and how much room I wanted to leave for other things. It’s been great so far, except for my inability to do maths which lead to having to re-do the placement of each week as not all 52 weeks fitted.

Incidentally this video has some pretty shrewd ideas for creating a calendar/diary out of a plain notebook.

After seeing some very cheap A3 visual diaries advertised in my favourite store Kmart I snapped them up with the intention of turning them into something similar.

Elsie from A Beautiful Mess and Natalie from Smallest Forest both had some really great ideas for creating and personalising ideas journals, and as always Pinterest had it’s say.

paint supplies in the sunA brilliantly sunny day, watered down acrylic paint and untouched paper combined to become an ideas journal for my future business.
Two images of watered down paint
I dipped the corners of a journal and some blank greeting cards into the painty water and then cursed as the pages blew all over my back deck.

But at the end I had two plastic containers that were still full of the paint water. Do I tip it on the garden? I’m not sure that plants really like paint. I shouldn’t tip it down the drain. More paper? Yes!

I unraveled what was left of some brown butchers paper and then splattered the remains of pink and blue liquid all over. Then I again cursed as the damn wind snapped the paper up and down, flicking blue paint all over the side of the house. Goddamn it!

pink and blue splattered art

Last but not least the cover. The journal came with a black plastic cover (and a super annoying sticker that refused to come off) which was the perfect canvas for some silver paint pen. My paint pen may be a little wrecked from using it on cork tiles, but by pressing the tip into a small dipped section of the lid I managed to create a sort of ink well and use it like that.

Journal cover with rabbit images

It always has to be bunnies.

blue dipped journal pages

Opened journal pages with blue dip

After showing off mine to Matty he said he wanted one that “wasn’t so girly”. Is paint dipping really girly? Anyway, I left his pages blank and only artified the front cover. Some lines and a paper airplane. Simple.Airplane journal cover

Nicole

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What is love?

Did you like my little throwback to Haddaway’s song ‘What is love’? Gosh I love 90’s music. This song especially reminds me of skating around and around the roller rink for hours on end. But I digress, yesterday was Valentines day so let’s talk about that.

Origami heart shape on a valentines cardThis is the card I made for Matty. It’s got the traditional heart, the slightly 8 bit-esque design and it’s pretty simple. If you didn’t know, Matty studied game design at uni so anything chippy and 8 bit is right up his alley. Oh and it was easy to make. Bonus!

We’re one of those couples that do handmade cards, sometimes some flowers and often some home baked goods (from me to him). What’s the point of those cutesy teddies that end up cluttering up the bedroom or a huge bouquet that costs an arm and a leg which is going to up and die in a week? As a lot of people say, celebrating love should be 365 days a year, not confined to an overly expensive gesture for one day of the year. Matty and I figure it’s nice to give cards with slightly mushy sentiments inside so that we can both go “aww”, I love to bake and craft so there’s almost always going to be cookies or something involved and instead of eating at a restaurant with a bunch of other couples, we decided to have Indian food delivered for dinner. HEAVEN!

In addition to mixing up (in the good change it up, not mess it up way) the presentation of my signature choc chip cookies, I also got a little crafty and sewed together some heart parcels filled with M and M’s.

Stitched heart parcels with chocolates insideI got inspiration from Pinterest (seriously, when do I not?), cut out baking paper shapes and hand stitched them together with embroidery floss. I did find it a little tricky to keep the chocolate inside whilst I was sewing, but really these were dead easy to make.

So happy Valentines to you all, even if you don’t have a significant other to share it with you can still feel the warm fuzzies. And hey, maybe you can sew yourself some of these M and M parcels, they’re great for portion control!

 

 

 

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Look what I made: kitty and bunny catch alls

Kitty and bunny catch allI’m one of those people who forgets about, or can’t find things when they’re out of sight. Or even worse, I make a place to keep something but never end up using it. That means that catch alls, or boxes or bowls or display boards are perfect for me.

I saw these cute cat planters on Pinterest and was momentarily excited until I realised I had no plants to put in them. Note to self, get off my butt and buy more plants. Incidentally, where does one purchase air plants from?

Cat Planters

(Click through to see the Pinterest link)

Ding ding. Hello brain? These can be used as catch alls.

I was a little worried that the paint wouldn’t adhere to the plastic but I had no issues. I painted the outside of the bottles with acrylic paint, used acrylic paint for the pink ears and permanent marker for the facial features.

I’m not sure how the original planters are such a smooth white, maybe the bottles were already white or maybe they painted the inside. Who knows. All I know is that mine are pretty damn cute.

These two are currently residing on my bedside table holding assorted junk from inside a clutch and some cords.