Saturday, April 30, 2011

A wedding fit for a princess

Wow, wow and wow! A prince, a stunning dress, glamourous guests, pomp and ceremony, cheering crowds and most importantly, a couple in love. Whatever you may think about the pomp and ceremony, it's impossible to deny the true love and friendship that exists between William and Kate, now referred to as Catherine. Hopefully their wedding is just the beginning of plenty of love and happiness.

I was one of the billions worldwide counting down to the royal wedding. I started watching the coverage from 4pm and loved every minute of it. As the minutes ticked over and the time neared for Catherine to leave the Goring Hotel I was nervous and didn't want to miss a minute. From 7.42pm (Australian time) through to 7.51pm I went to the bathroom three times. Luckily I wasn't marrying the prince.
Firstly, the dress. Isn't that what we were all waiting to see? Catherine's dress was just breathtaking. So classic, elegant and just perfect for the occasion. No doubt Catherine like most brides to be had thought about what her wedding dress might look like one day, keeping clippings for inspiration and considering the styles and fabrics that best suit her. Like most women she would have been inspired by the dresses of princesses, throughout history and more recently. I know I was when I was choosing a design for my wedding dress.

Some people have criticised her for being too traditional and reserved and not making a bold fashion statement and for copying Princess Grace. Seriously? Catherine wore a breathtaking wedding dress and she looked just perfect - an elegant modern princess. She got it just right.

The kiss. I'm sure I'm not alone in saying I would have liked a longer kiss and embrace. But the kiss we got was pretty good and don't forget there were two kisses. Those minutes spent away from the cameras signing the wedding register would have been an opportunity for them to share a much more intimate kiss away from the billions watching. I know I would feel more than a little nervous sharing a kiss with my husband in front of billions.

Diana, it's impossible to talk about this wedding without thinking of her. I'm not old enough to have memories of Charles and Diana's wedding, to be honest, I wasn't even born. However, growing up I was in awe of Diana and I clearly remember where I was when she died. It was impossible not to think of Diana while watching the wedding. How proud she would have been to watch both of her precious boys in their uniforms and to watch William marry a woman he clearly loves and adores. I couldn't help but wonder what outfit Diana might have chosen for such a special day.

Best and worst dressed - there are quite a few for both lists but I want to make mention of a couple. Carol Middleton was just perfect. A beautiful outfit, a few nerves and obvious pride, she nailed it as mother of the bride. Pippa Middleton - what is there left to say? Everything's already been said. She was gorgeous and almost as stunning as the bride, almost. And finally, I'm going to disagree with the majority and say I liked Princess Beatrice's outfit. The hat was definitely unusual but I liked it. Good on her for being bold and taking a risk!

Well, there it is. The royal wedding has gone off without a hitch. It's definitely one for the history books and an event billions will never forget. Congratulations to the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, may your marriage be filled with love and happiness. And thank you for sharing your beautiful day with us.We loved every moment.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A special afternoon at The Plaza, New York

I’m a high tea kind of girl. I love all things delicate and lady like and an experience from another era. I’ve enjoyed high tea at the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney a number of times and have hosted my own high tea. I enjoy baking and eating scones, little sandwiches and delicate pastries.
For me, high tea is all about a more elegant time when ladies could dress up to enjoy a few pastries, a lovely cup of tea and do it all with delicate china. It’s about the history and enjoying a period in time I can hope to recreate but never truly experience.

We’ve all heard about or seen New York’s The Plaza in movies or tv shows. You know the New York landmark where Monica and Chandler got married, or the hotel from Home Alone 2 spectacularly overlooking Central Park. Well when I found out they offered a particularly lovely high tea and I could go in and actually eat there while we were on holiday, well a booking was made immediately.

The original plan was to go with a girlfriend who was living in New York, but plans changed and she moved back to Oz. My gorgeous hubby courageously stepped into the void. I suspect he may have been a little frightened by the fanciness, the delicate crockery and the price tag. So my catchcry became, but it’s The Plaza. If you haven’t yet worked out from reading my blog and this post, I like a little fancy in my life.

On our first foray into Central Park on day four in New York City, I spied The Plaza. Hopping excitedly from side to side and pointing I said, ‘Look hon, it’s The Plaza, you know, where we’re going for high tea later in the week’. Hubby’s reply, ‘hmm’. My thoughts were: rightio, he’s not quite as excited as me, but he still has three days to get excited.

The day of high tea at The Plaza arrived. After some further exploration around Central Park and a visit to Bloomingdales we were ready for our 3pm booking. Hubby was still not quite as excited as me, but he would be once he was inside. We stopped to take a few photos from the outside and then we were walking up the magnificent carpeted steps. We were in! Hopefully we could pass for fabulous New Yorkers.

Ok, we were early which meant we had time to take a stroll around. And it is everything it looks like in the movies and more. Beautiful chandeliers, piano music floating through the air, exclusive shops and The Plaza teddy bear. Who could resist a photo?

At 3pm we made our way to The Palm Court where we were seated and offered the menu. As I said before I’ve had a few high teas and knew what to expect. For my hubby, this was a first. He leaned across and whispered to me, ‘the last time I had afternoon tea I was sitting on an esky with a couple of guys from work’. My response, ‘well honey, this will be a little different’.

We ordered a high tea each: for me, the Chocolate Tea and my hubby, the New Yorker. Here’s what we had.

The Chocolate Tea

Chocolate Fondue
Strawberries, pound cake, pretzels, house-made marshmallows, golden pineapple

Freshly-baked, warm seasonal scones, nutella, double Devonshire cream, lemon curd and preserves

Chocolate profiteroles, mini pot de crème, chocolate cupcake, chocolate macaroon, sacher torte, chocolate truffles

The New Yorker

Sandwiches and savouries
Cucumber, radish, green herbs
Smoked salmon, endive
Roquefort, shaved red grapes, watercress
Prosciutto, mozzarella, pesto
Roast beef, horseradish

Freshly-baked, warm seasonal scones, double Devonshire cream, lemon curd and preserves

Pastries and sweets
Black and white cookies, mini canoli, chocolate cupcake, New York cheesecake, lemon tea cake, profiteroles.

Served with our choice of tea

We made our way through the three tiers of chocolate, savouries, scones and pastries accompanied by quite a few cups of tea sweetened with a few lumps of sugar (one of the things I love about high tea – lumps of sugar – so very English).

One of my gorgeous girlfriends who had been to The Plaza previously warned me about the amount of food and to definitely have any leftovers boxed up to go. So we did, together with a bag bearing The Plaza crest. And yes, that bag made its way into my luggage and safely back home with me. It’s a keeper.

Our final take on high tea at The Plaza is that it’s a must do for anyone who loves elegance, old world glamour, romance and the experience of eating in the Palm Court. Food wise, it was really lovely, but the QVB in Sydney was definitely on par. One thing I do love about the QVB is the beautiful floral Royal Doulton crockery – it feels like you have a piece of history in your hands each time you take a sip of tea. The Plaza offers plain white which while very classy, is just a little plain for my liking.

If you’re ever in New York, take a few hours to enjoy high tea at The Plaza, you won’t regret it. And for my hubby, it was definitely a step up from afternoon tea on an esky with a bunch of workmates.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I didn't plan 12 hours of sightseeing in Washington but it turned out better than planned

I’m a planner and an organiser. I like to know what I’m doing, when I’m going to do it and how. I like lists and schedules and order. For some, it’s totally different to how they like to live, others will be nodding their heads with a total understanding of what I’m saying. So that’s how I went about planning our recent holiday. We planned to be in each city for a limited time and with so much to fit in, we didn’t intent to waste precious hours each day planning the next day’s activities. So we departed Australia with a diary of what we planned to see and do.
Of course, plans change, especially when you’re in an unfamiliar city. I like to think I’m flexible enough to go with the flow. And we did. With just two days of sightseeing in the American capital, I learnt how quickly plans can change and how fantastic it is when you not only experience what was planned but lots more again. Let me explain.

On arriving in Washington the weather forecasts for the following day were not looking so good for our planned visit to Arlington National Cemetery. There was rain forecast and lots of it. So we opted for the indoor options – the White House Visitor Centre, the National Museum of American History, a trolley tour around DC and the Newseum. At the end of day one we still had so much we wanted to see and just one day to do it in. As a result, day two went something like this.

Cab to Arlington National Cemetery. Gates opened at 8am. John F Kennedy’s grave and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

9.15am – 10.30am
Walk to Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the obligatory photo outside the White House

Hop in the lift to the top of the Washington Monument to take in the views of Washington

Visit the National Sculpture Garden and US Botanic Garden. Stopping to take dozens of photos of the stunning US Capitol building and National Mall along the way

Visit the US Capitol. Sit in the gallery to watch debate in the US House of Representatives

Grab a quick hotdog for lunch and head for the Jefferson Memorial.

Hop on the trolley for a tour of Georgetown and embassies

Head to Union Station for a little bit of shopping and dinner

Dinner at Union Station

Walk from Union Station via the US Capitol building to our hotel to rest our weary legs.

By the end of the day we were exhausted, but thrilled with all that we had seen. Take a look at our route on Google Maps and some photos we took along the way.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A return to blogging

View of the incredible Central Park. It was love at first sight.
I’m back in the blogging world after a break and an overseas adventure.
It’s been an eventful few weeks filled with amazing experiences, sights and sounds, romance and plenty of shopping thrown in on top. If you’re wondering what I’m referring to, my hubby and I recently spent two and a bit weeks in the United States and celebrated our third wedding anniversary in the amazing city of New York.

Our destinations included San Francisco, Washington DC and New York. It had been a while since hubby and I had shared a holiday just the two of us. We’ve had a few breaks in recent years but we’ve holidayed with family members. That has been lovely, but it’s always wonderful to have some ‘us’ time and with the dollar so strong, it was time to cross America off our must visit list, or at least partly cross off. After this, our first visit, we’re keen to go back at some stage in the future.

I plan to share a small selection of our photos here on my blog and some of the experiences we had in the US. And I'll be sure to include details of our shopping expeditions - including a marathon seven hours.

We've come home relaxed and actually feeling like we've had a holiday. It's back to work tomorrow for me and I'm hoping the post-holiday blues steer clear.

I’ve been reading all about the Aussie blogging conference and it sounds like everyone had a fantastic time meeting fellow bloggers and exchanging and sharing information, tips and experiences. Sadly I missed the conference. I was really looking forward to attending, but we’d already booked our holiday when the dates were announced. Next time!

Friday, March 4, 2011

A little break

It's been a bit quiet here at the purple notepad. It's been a hectic time in the month or so since my last post. I must admit the creative juices haven't been flowing freely. I think I've been overthinking a lot of it.

So time for a little update. My hubby and I heading off on holiday. I'm looking forward to some much needed time away from work and some precious time with my hubby. We'll celebrate my birthday, our third wedding anniversary and 10 wonderful years since we met. It's been an amazing journey for both of us, there have been many, many ups and the occasional down, but the ride has been incredible. It's an exciting time, looking back at the past decade (yikes, feeling a little old) and looking to the future and all that we have planned together.

To sum up (I got a little off track) I'll be away from the purple notepad for a little while, but will be back fresh and super keen to share some photos and experiences.

See you soon!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Add a little ice

It's been a super hot Australia Day! According to the weather guys one of the hottest in decades. The mercury is well over the 35 degrees mark and we've been attempting to find a way to cool down.

For our little dog Max, we added a little ice to his afternoon and he had a ball. Thought I'd share some pics.

And hope everyone had a lovely Australia Day! Always proud to be an Aussie, but extra proud today.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Reflections of a year gone by and hope for a new one

I know I’m a few weeks late on reflecting on 2010 and looking ahead to 2011, but life got in the way. So in recognition of my New Year’s resolution to go with the flow, live life and not let the little things bother me I’ve decided it’s my blog and this is what I would like to do. It was a big year for me and I’d like to record it in some form.

This is my personal reflection on 2010.

I watched some family members and close friends experience a tough year and eagerly await the end of 2010 and look forward to brighter days in the year ahead. For me there were quite a few important moments I would like to share.

Firstly, completing seven years of part-time university study combined with full time work to graduate with a bachelor of arts majoring in politics and Australian studies was a major achievement. Having my parents and hubby there to share it with me made it even more special after many years of encouragement and love.

Celebrating my hubby’s graduation from uni after seven years of part-time study made it a busy couple of months. While we studied different courses at different unis we still shared the many highs and lows of study.

Creating my blog was a huge moment for me. Being able to write about what I wanted to write about in my own forum was a dream come true. Almost 50 blog posts since May! Many thanks to Tenille@HelpMum for her support and encouragement.

The retirement of my former boss and very dear friend Kay Hull after 12 years as the Member for Riverina marked the end of an era. Kay is a truly remarkable woman who achieved so much for her community and someone I am honoured to call a friend. Attending one of her many farewell dinners (and catching up with former colleagues and dear friends) was a huge privilege.

Following Kay’s retirement, attention turned to the election of another former boss, mentor and friend as the new Member for Riverina. Being able to help in some small way on election day was a huge buzz and the result was fantastic. The best result for the people of the Riverina.

There were moments of tears and sadness as I said goodbye to one very special family friend. Bruce, my father's best mate had been a presence in my life for as long as I can remember. He is one in a million. While we knew the diagnosis was terminal, we hoped against all odds it could be beaten. However, the insidious disease that is cancer robbed my family of a very dear friend. We miss you and your remarkable attitude to life each and every day Bruce.

The death of another former workmate and friend followed a few months later. Rossco was one of those characters you come across in life and they just remain a part of your life. He had a deep affection for fellow journalists and he will be sorely missed. I miss the phone calls I used to receive from Rossco and his signature farewell – hanging up before you had a chance to say goodbye. My theory was that he didn’t much like goodbyes. I don’t either Rossco. So it’s not goodbye, it’s see you later.

So on reflection, 2010 was an important year when I learnt a lot about myself and those dear to me. I hope that 2011 can be more of the same with a little less sadness.

Hubby and I will celebrate our third wedding anniversary and 10 years together with a holiday to the US stopping in San Francisco, Washington DC and New York. I value all of our moments together, no matter how small and am really looking forward to some much needed time away together.

I also have some important career decisions to make. But most importantly I want to fill my life with the people I value and love the most and those who feel the same way in return. I want to be surrounded by people who want to be with me, who value my company and are willing to invest in our friendship.

Finally, if there is one thing the first few weeks of 2011 have taught me is life is short. So hold your loved ones a little closer, tell them you love them, appreciate and make time for them and most of all treasure each and every moment.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My turn to share a few stylish blogs

On Christmas Eve I managed to sneak a few minutes to look at my blog as my family was heading out the door for our road trip and coastal Christmas. I was blown away to see a comment from a fellow blogger, Rachel at Select All + Delete awarding me a stylish blogger of the year award. To say I was blown away was an understatement.

It was so heartening to get some feedback from another talented blogger. So in that moment as I looked at my blog, my heart swelled with pride and then I had to log off and head out the door. Ahh!

So Rachel, it has been a few weeks, yikes! And I’m sorry it has taken me this long to accept the award and link onto others. I was determined to have some time off from everything over Christmas and New Year. And just as I was about to start blogging again, we heard about Lori’s devastating news and reached out to her all while the Queensland floods were occupying my attention and the nation’s.

So here I am back blogging and hopefully getting back into the swing of things.

Ok, seven things about me

1. I still have lots to learn about blogging but am super keen to learn

2. I am a redhead

3. I am a Pisces and therefore a bit of a dreamer

4. I have almost zero willpower when it comes to chocolate

5. I share my home with two males – my gorgeous hubby and our Maltalier Max

6. I have a younger sister and people often think we are twins

7. And finally, I love photos in albums and am on a mission to transfer all my digital images into albums.

Now, 15 recently discovered blogs. I'm not going to get to 15, but here's my list.

1. Diminishing Lucy. This blog is so well written and shows this woman has plenty of will power (any spare?) and it’s really lovely to spend time looking around her blog.

2. Daydream Lily. Love the colours, shades and images of this blog. Very calming and chilled out.

3. Yummy Mummies and Mini Me. Love this stylish blog. Again the colours and layout is fantastic. Plus the option to shop is always appealing to me.

4. The Daze of my life. So well written and always a pleasure to read.

5. Design it Chic. I love the ideas and creativity on this blog. I intend to spend more time on this blog this year. So much to learn and share.

Sorry I didn't get 15 on the list here, but check these great blogs out.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tragedy beyond belief

It's been one of those days when you wonder what has happened to the world? What happened to the New Year and all the promise it brought of happier times ahead.  

An update on my last post about Lori. Tragically, Lori's husband lost his battle and passed away yesterday. I can in no way imagine what Lori and her little ones are going through, but my heart aches for their loss. To lose a loved one, a husband, a father, a best friend and a soul mate is devastating. To lose that person at such a young age is beyond words. The outpouring of support and kind words for Lori on her blog and many others will hopefully be some source of comfort in the hours, days, months and years ahead.

The other tragedy of recent days is the devastation we are witnessing in Queensland. The people of Queensland are experiencing floods that many of us just cannot imagine. While I have watched the floods inundate communities in regional Queensland, today it became a bit more personal. 

I watched the flurry of updates on Twitter this morning and started to get a little worried. My sister works in the Brisbane CBD and after the Brisbane River broke its banks this morning, I spent a few anxious hours waiting for her to leave work, get on public transport and arrive safely home. Just minutes after finding out she was home, I found out my mum had also made it safely home from her suburban workplace. The one thing my family keeps telling me is that the rain just keeps falling. 

Fortunately my family are in an area of Brisbane that at this stage is not under threat. I am hoping and praying their suburbs remain safe in the days and weeks ahead.  

Watching the torrent of water hit the town of Toowoomba and neighbouring communities is just beyond anything I have witnessed. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones. Stay safe and keep your loved ones close. To those who have lost their homes and possessions, again my heart goes out to you. Please know that you are in the thoughts and prayers of Australians right across this country. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

For Lori

I've been a bit quiet on the posts over the Christmas and New Year. Maybe it's that time of year, people are away, spending precious time with family and friends and blogging gets pushed to the bottom of the to do list. For me, I don't get to see my family regularly due to the fact we don't live close to each other, so I relish the time spent with them. Blogging took a back seat for a week or two.

I've also been contemplating what I want out of my blog this year and what I want to achieve. What direction do I want to take? What do I want to write about? How do I build up more networks and support other bloggers?

But after logging onto to my blog today after the Christmas break, it kind of becomes irrelevant and nowhere near as important. The outrageously funny and inspiring Lori of Random Ramblings of a Stay At Home Mum is in the middle of a family crisis and has reached out to the blogging community. And the support from her fellow bloggers has been incredible and evidence of how much she is admired and adored.

I cannot begin to imagine what Lori and her family are going through. But hopefully in some very small way the thoughts and prayers of many will help Lori and her family find the strength to support their husband and father through this awful time. Hopefully her husband may also in some small way find strength from all the love and best wishes pouring in from around the world.


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