Tuesday, 29 June 2010

I'm feeling the love - and I like it!

OK - So, I've had 24 hours to reflect on my viva outcome...and I'm feeling positive today...after all, Ghana is still in the running for the World Cup - so all is right with the world!!!

On a more sentimental note, I'm completely overwhelmed by the response of my constituents - the people who I call friend, but who (regrettably) slip in and out of my life. Yesterday a number of constituents slipped back into my life again... how fabulous!

It's made me think that perhaps the categorisation of 'friends' as confidantes, constituents and comrades is too rigid. I still think it's a great starting point for establishing expectations, but after all the messages/calls/texts of love I got yesterday, it really wouldn't be fair to brand all those people as constituents...to me, they're all friends and all close to my heart!

It was really nice to hear that other people have felt the way I did. Not that I'm happy that others have faced trials and tribulations...but I'm comforted to know that I'm not the only one. I'm really pleased that I posted about the non-rosey, because in life everything isn't rosey...and if this here blog only talked about the rosey stuff, then frankly it would be boring - for me to write and for anyone else to read. I debated on whether to post about my 'non-success', on some level I was embarrassed. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that I needed to post it. I always think of Maya Angelou when deciding which posts to publish and which to keep secret. In reading Maya's beautiful work and words, the thing that strikes me is how REAL her words are - how non-rosey her life has been..how she has kept it real and I love that about her work. For me (and I know I am no Maya!), talking writing  typing about my feelings is very therapeutic. Amazingly, people have actually read my posts and I have been inundated with advice, opinions and fantastic encouragement. I couldn't have asked for more. 

For those of you, who are feeling/have felt (or will at some point feel) disappointed with something, here is some of the fantastic advice that I've had in the past 24 hours...:

'at least you'll get more time to do it brilliantly!'

'that's life, unfortunately! If everything were easy and simple we wouldn't be able to truly appreciate the things God sends us. And remember all the obstacles He sends He knows we can overcome, however impossible they seem to us'

'remember heaven suits our trials to our strengths'

'Jesus said in John 16:33 that '..in the world ye shall have tribulation...' - so, I was warned, why am I shocked!? lol

'success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.'

'knock back a few ice-teas' - (I love iced-tea!!!) 

 'what makes you a winner in life is not necessarily the absence of failures, but it is what you do with those failures'

HOW encouraging are these bits of advice?! I've said all these things to other people before, but never really had to heed these words myself. HOW fabulous..and how very BLESSED am I, to be on the receiving end of such wise words. 

If ever I felt blessed and contented, positive and enthusiastic - it's today!
Thank you guys - you're the best!

Mrs O

Monday, 28 June 2010

Everybody wants to be my Uncle: Failure (?) no.2...reflections...

Today, I had my PhD viva - I didn't get a definite 'pass' - OUCH!

3 and a half years of research, only to be asked 'what exactly is your scientific contribution to knowledge?'.... hmmm.... it was like taking a bullet to the heart. I can still feel the burn hours later...

I defended my thesis and I was able to convince my examiners of my knowledge, of my contribution, of the fact that I hadn't wasted 3 and half years of my life and that I wasn't wasting their time at that very moment. The result was basically that my work was fantastic (toot toot), my understanding was brilliant - BUT (and it's a big BUT), my actual thesis did not demonstrate my level of understanding - apparently, I had 'undersold' my work... the irony!

Let me explain something, I am no quitter and am certainly not 'used' to dealing with failure. I have always been a borderline A/B student. I have mostly been able to tip the scale over and had pretty much secured a title as a straight A student - until today. The first thing that I ever (and I mean EVER) failed was my first driving test (I also failed my second driving test - but that's another story for another day).

So, what do you do when you feel a failure?

Do you cry? Well in this case - yes I cried (and yes, I'm not ashamed to admit to cyberspace that I cried during the actual viva!!!) - why? I'd been given an opportunity to make my write up even better? I'd been given more time to 'fix' my thesis. It was like a 'get out of jail free' card. Surely I should've been overjoyed?! Ummm - NO!  I was distraught, and I cried. I cried because I am not accustomed to disappointment. I don't 'do' disappointing people - I am the 'Golden Child' of my family, one uncle when describing me to a much loved cousin said:

'everyone wants to be her friend; everybody wants to be her boss; everybody wants to be her Uncle!'

Hilarious statement if ever I heard one! Aside from family relations, I am the superwoman amongst my friends, the 'go to person' at work. It gets to a point when people say such nice things to you, that you actually believe them! Or do you? I became a victim of my own hype?! Yet when it came to 'hyping' myself up in my thesis, I had undersold myself! sigh....goshdarnitdammit!

Alas, I am invincible!

Despite my shock and disappointment, I am pleased to have been stopped in my tracks. To be forced to re-evaluate, not my thesis per se - but re-evaluate who the h*ck is in control here? For the last 2 weeks, I had been feeling really calm about my viva, in fact, worryingly so. I almost felt as though it was all out of my hands...that it was beyond my control...so instead of re-reading my thesis, I was 'thinking' about it. But, yesterday, I lapsed, I stopped thinking and started reading - big mistake! 'Reading' fooled me into thinking that I was in control...that I was the one who would determine my viva success (or non-success as it turns out!). I thought that if I read enough then I could make sure that I would pass. Of course, whilst reading, I realised that I had not read every single document ever written by any person in the world, and naturally, I started to panic - the viva palpitations had begun... (see Sunday's facebook update!)...

Luckily, in time for my viva, I got a grip and remembered, that having prayed for guidance - it was time to surrender the viva - to God.

As if by magic, the control has been snatched from my hands...(as if I had it anyway!) and I was forced to see that 'this is God's game..not yours'. And you know what, I am so very thankful for this lesson.

The thing that saved me in this viva, was all the stuff that I had thought about and not any of the stuff that I had read about. God saved me. I think that in future, I am going to wholeheartedly and consciously surrender everything to God. Not just say it, but actually do it..and I don't mean that kind of pretending that people do and then go on stressing about things anyway...  I mean really surrendering things...and by 'things', I mean EVERYTHING.

So, everybody apparently wants to be my uncle (LOL), but the truth is, I am invincible, I am not superwoman and God is totally TOTALLY in control here - and I prefer it this way.

Thank you JC for the reminder! Now all I need to do is master some practical steps, to make sure that I remember that I am 'too blessed to be stressed'....

Any tips?

Mrs O

Saturday, 26 June 2010


In my experience, it's when major life events happen that you realise who your friends are... the ones who are there to answer your 2am phonecall, the one's who leave work meetings just so they don't miss your call, the ones who come over when you say you don't need them to (like Carrie on new years in SATC1)...the one's who tell you you're out of order and stick with you nonetheless... the ones who know you need to talk and force you to 'sip' when you just need a little bit of Dutch courage to say the words out loud. They say in life you are lucky if you have 3 real friends....

I stumbled across a really great youtube clip, where TD Jakes speaks about 3 types of 'friends' - confidantes, constituents and comrades.

Confidantes are behind you no matter what, you can tell them anything and they are FOR you...they're INTO you and they will always be INTO you.

Constituents are behind what you are behind. They're not FOR you, but they're FOR what you are for. They are into what you're into...they will support what you're into. But when you are no longer into what they're into, then they're no longer behind you - and that's because they were never actually into YOU in the first place. I have a number of constituents and until hearing what TD Jakes had to say, I was confused that they seemed to slip in and out of my life. It all makes sense now and there is absolutely no reason to feel bad about that...these people are my constituents... you know like that best friend from school that you spent EVERY day with...well, now that you've moved town, you don't speak, so she's probably your constituent.

Comrades are where it gets interesting. These people are not into you and they are not into what you're into. Instead, they're against what you're against. You're both fighting the same thing...so you're 'friends' for that part, but once the battle is over - you no longer have anything in common and since they were never into what you're into, the friendship dissolves. Again, this explains SO much.

So there you have it - confidantes, constituents and comrades...I wonder if there are any other 'types' of friend? Time will tell. Why does it matter? Why the need to classify people we call friends? Well sometimes, I've felt disappointed and let down by so-called friends. I have 274 facebook 'friends' yet in times of need, there are only 3 people that I would call without a second thought.. only 3 people out of 274 that I'd call my true confidantes. Now that I know the difference between confidantes, constituents and comrades, it's much easier to deal with any disappointment - simply because now I don't expect anything (and I mean NOTHING) from my non-constituents. Where before I just called everyone 'friend', I understand that it doesn't always work both ways..

Phew - I feel that I stumbled across this video in the nick of time. For now, I feel really blessed to have a handful of real confidantes in my life! Hooray for you guys - you know who you are!

Mrs O

Friday, 25 June 2010


A Mummy-friend of mine said recently that she now knows how to spell motherhood - G-U-I-L-T-T-R-I-P. 

Ouch? But so true...I want her to know that she's not alone...we all feel the same way... am I doing the best? The question really should be - am I doing MY best...

I'm a working Mum, I work full-time - sometimes from home, but it's still full-time. I love my (new) job and sometimes I feel guilty for that. This is just ONE of the MANY things that I feel guilty about, but as a slightly less new Mum, who is sloooowly getting the hang of it, I realise that I am going to feel guilty about EVERYTHING. It appears to be part of the job description and I've quickly made peace with the guilt thing. Its not that I don't feel guilty anymore, it's just that I get over it more quickly now.
When I was a brand new Mum - I'm talking about the first nine months - I was a full-time, coffee-drinking, play-date going, stay-home kind of Mum. And you know what, I loved that. I loved the baby gym, yoga, massage, rhythm and rhyme sessions, I loved it all. The walks in the park, the ONE trip on the bus, just to see if I could roll with the serious Mums (I can't!)...But in honesty, a part of me wanted to work ... at that point of course, I felt guilty , I felt guilty for even thinking about it! Now, I'm at work and sometimes I feel guilty about being back at work! It's actually ridiculous.

It appears you can't win. The phrase 'you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't' pretty much sums up G-U-I-L-T-T-R-I-P  oops I mean motherhood for me....

The simple fact is that a lot of the time, there is no right or wrong answer. Sure there are books filled with 'the right answers', but I don't read them! I don't really like the idea of being 'told' what to do - I'm a taurean and can be incredibly stubborn sometimes. There is only one series of parenting books that I find even remotely sensible and that's the 'what to expect' range by Heidi Murkoff. Controversial I know, but I was given the 'what to expect in the first year' book, as a baby shower gift and loved it so much that when dd ('dear daughter' - for the uninitated) turned one - I rushed out and bought the toddler version! I think this book is fantastic and will be buying copies for all my friends when they start popping!

I digress - in my two-year experience, I've realised that this is a full-time job, regardless of whatever paid employment you do alongside motherhood. It's a life-time contract, but I'm assured that whilst the first 10 years are 24/7/365, and the first 18 years are full-time, you have the option to go part-time or even do flexi-time once they reach 18! I figured that in 18+ years, I'm bound to make a mistake... so I decided to just let go of my mistakes, learn from them and get on with it... I'm only human after all - I'm not perfect by any means  - and perfection is boring anyway!

I often reminisce about my experience with my own Mother and think about the way she approached G-U-I-L-T-T-R-I-P   motherhood, and realise now, that she just parented us based on what she felt was best at that split second in time. Largely, she left the rest to God. My Mum is such a wise woman! She was also smart enough to know that she couldn't map out or predetermine everything - she also just had to wing it. I think that's what most Mums do - wing it - day after day. 

My message to Mums is - when you feel that ache of guilt (which you will), try these questions:

- is this safe?
- is baby/toddler/child happy? (If not, will they get over it as soon as you leave the room?)
- am I comfortable with this?
- is it likely to cause irreversible damage?!

I look for the answers yes, yes, yes and no (for the last one).... then I just do it. Like I said, until we get magic-8 balls with our post-natal packs,we can only do what we feel is best at the time and wing it.

So, your child is eating a chocolate bar in the vegetable aisle in TESCO! Big deal?! Perhaps this is a crucial part of your plan to get the shopping done in 30 minutes after work, so that you don't get stuck in traffic and so that you can make it home in time to welcome Daddy with a freshly cooked meal, full of meat and two veg! Should you feel guilty for that? Do you think it's better to withhold the chocolate bar, force the child to eat yet another yoghurt covered raison (or worse, teach them 'not to snack!'), deal with the tantrum, take 1 hour to do the shopping, come home to a hungry and grumpy husband, with a teary eyed toddler, with no food ready for any of them... I think not...

I guess all I'm saying - is go easy on ourselves (and each other) - there is no reason to be perfect  and certainly no reason to feel guilty over not being perfect! Remember, perfection is over-rated anyway, trust me!
Sometimes when guests come, I don't cook - I order in! Sometimes I ask my daughter to eat a packet of crisps and watch nonsensical TV...sometimes I even let her whinge for a few minutes so that I can take a shower/cook her lunch etc...
Mums - I haved vowed to myself NOT to strive for perfection - it takes up way too much energy! and you know what, I'm SO much happier this way... 
Have a great weekend!

Mrs O

Friday, 18 June 2010

We're (nearly) famous!

So, it should come as no surprise that I love talking about our wedding...mentioning that I'm a newlywed (can I still say it) and referring to myself as 'Mrs O'...but when someone else talks about our wedding - strangely it feels even more exciting. God helped us lay the foundations and our families worked very hard to pull together a day filled with laughter, joy and love - and it certainly paid off! 

Mr O and I were first 'featured' on From Now Till I Do and now we've been featured on Rock My Wedding! I am soooooooooooooooooooooooo excited!!! I've been a fan of RMW since their first ever post and I regularly visit to get chic and unique tips/advice on behalf of friends who are getting married soon - yes I am addicted! RMW has got a great thing going over there and I'm positively beaming!!!

Head over to see how they've interpreted our special day. 

Thank you Charlotte and Rebecca for placing this cheesy grin on my face!!! 

Mrs O

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Take a leap of faith - and JUMP!

Chichi at From Now Till I Do wrote a really thought-provoking post about how our lives belong to God and not us - how God does the providing and makes the magic happen (no, it's not a reference to Cribs!). She shared a Bible quote that I take much comfort in –

Matthew 6:26
“Look at the birds in the sky! They don't plant or harvest. They don't even store grain in barns. Yet your Father in heaven takes care of them. Aren't you worth more than birds?”

My understanding of this is that if the birds don’t have to worry about the future, God has it sorted, so why should I worry? It's a simple interpretation, yes, but effective nonetheless. Instead of worrying, I need to take comfort in the knowledge that God is taking care of things. Sounds like a plan to me!

As a Mum there are a million and one things for us to think about on a daily basis, never mind thinking long-term. I find it hard to do anything without considering – how will this affect my family? Will we all cope with the changes? Will it affect our relationships, the routines that I’ve spent months establishing? I convince myself 'perhaps if I wait until Little Miss O goes to school then… 'blablabla - excuses excuses..

But sometimes, we just have to get illogical – we just have to DO IT!
Mr O and I have recently felt a strong ‘calling’ to start a certain project (I can’t tell just yet!), but have resisted because we think that we should 'wait' until X Y and Z are in place … we don’t have (a strong enough) faith that God is taking care of that side of things. We need to get that faith people?! If only I could buy it?! ... We're still struggling to fight off the mindset that - 'we're in control'! This Bible verse has been a really useful reminder that actually, all we have to do is listen to and trust in God. If he says do this, what are we waiting for? If only we would just be obedient, there'd be no ‘what ifs’ and no ‘are we sures’. If only our faith was stronger?!

So, as we plan our little project, we’ll have to pray (even harder) that God puts the right people in the right places, at the right times and saying/doing the right things. More importantly, we have to listen and do what he says!

No doubts, no deliberations – we simply have to take a leap of faith – and JUMP!

Mrs O

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Loving you, loving me...

The other day I remarked on how nice and healthy a friend's relaxed hair looked! I was surprised at myself and so thought I'd 'write it out' - you know like 'talk it out' or 'cry it out' - well I like to 'write it out'. I was so confused...I thought I was 'natural' now, yet, I have no problem with other hair types or styles.

I've been so focused on how I feel about my own natural hair journey, I've never really thought about how I feel about other people's hair. I had a real think about this issue over the weekend (I like to think about all sorts of things, usually whilst driving!)... and I came to the conclusion:

'Each to their own' 

I can appreciate a relaxed girl's beauty as much as a weaved or natural girl's beauty...but I've simply made a personal choice not to use the usual relaxer brands on my own or our daughter's hair. The brazilian keratin treatment (which straightens hair without harmful chemicals) really interests me though, so does that make me a traitor to the whole 'natural hair movement'? Do I have to unsubscribe from 'naturally sexy' because I think 'unnatural girls' can be sexy too? If I wear braids, am I any less 'natural'? If I dye my afro hair blonde, does that make me any less 'natural'? The answers for me are:

'It doesn't matter' and 'who even cares!'

If I look good and I feel good and I'm not hurting anyone - why does it even matter? So what if one day I feel like wearing extensions and the next I feel like letting my TWA out...I'm still me, right? I've realised my problem with my current twists isn't the twists themselves, but the twister... enough said!

The idea of being made over is great and its fun to see yourself or someone else transformed by these so called 'beautifiers', it's just important to know that you're not any less beautiful when you don't have that stuff on - you're just different... I genuinely feel sorry for girls who feel the need to hide indoors in between hairstyles, simply to avoid revealing their real hair. We all have at least one friend who refuses to leave the house until she's got a new weave in! eeesh! I have a lot of younger women in my life (some like this), and I hope they know that they shouldn't feel any less beautiful because they don't 'perfect' all the time! Let's face it even A-list celebs don't look like that every day - and why should they? Nearly all celebs are enhanced in some way - nipped, tucked, plucked,cinched, bleached, weaved - I could go on... and that's before make-up, wardrobe, photographers and airbrushers have worked their magic on them. 


Both images from fanpop.

I suppose some Black women are outraged by terms like 'good hair' and 'nappy' but when you think about it, these days, everyone wants to be like everyone else anyway and there are lots of words outside of hair that are used in a derogatory way! Have you ever heard anyone referred to as 'pasty' or 'blick' - surely it's the same thing? Whether it's hair, skin, face or hips! I guess its just a by-product of everyone moving around, and actually meeting people of other shapes, sizes and colours... Some people have laser hair removal, some people want bigger lips, bums, breasts - some even want bigger eyelid folds! Some people want to be darker and some people want to be lighter and some  want to change the texture and length of their hair. So, for me 'good hair' is just an example of our obsession with what 'beauty' means. 

I've been loved up with 'me' and (Mr O) for years now, but seriously, it's only this weekend that I've really thought about what this means!!! Now, call me slow, but I've realised, literally overnight, that whilst beauty is fun and fabulous, it's also about being true to oneself...knowing oneself, educating oneself and feeling comfortable in oneself... essentially loving oneself as much as we love our kids, our Mums, and as much as God loves us! 

I really hope to raise a daughter who is completely and utterly IN LOVE with the masterpiece that God has created in her - not in an arrogant way, but in such a way that thoughtless phrase such as 'good hair' could ever shake her! This has been on my agenda for some time now but it's TOTALLY going to be raised to the top of my agenda this week month year!

Mrs O

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Confessions of an Ingredient Junkie!

Interestingly, it was only after 'going natural' that I even considered what was in the products that I used on my hair. The ironic thing is that I am so concerned about what goes in our mouths yet, when it came to our hair,  I regularly fed it crisps instead of potatoes! On a daily basis, I would load my hair with grease, spritz, leave-in conditioner, gel, hold spray and sometimes more.  What's worse is that I was (through complete ignorance and miseducation) doing the same to Little Miss O's hair...

Determined to bring more 'green' to our hair regimes, I sought more natural products from our local black hair shop of choice - ummm this was interesting. When I actually read the ingredients list they were full of chemicals that I couldn't even pronounce! They were laden with parabens, liquid paraffin (vaseline essentially) and water! These products hid behind the lines 'contains olive oil' - umm yeah, 20%! Or 'nourishing coconut oil' - umm does 10% count! I was a bit annoyed as it made it so difficult to choose good, nutritious products..but I eventually (after spending about 45 minutes reading ingredients lists) settled on a brand - Kid's Organics by Africa Best. The advertised ingredient was always much higher on the ingredients list and I could see fragments of ingredients in most of the products - a quality I look for. I used the whole range on my own hair and Little Miss Os. It was all going well. I still think there are some very good hair products on the market - but most are not so great.

One day I thought,

"this natural stuff is so good, what would happen if I used ONLY the nutritious ingredients and cut out the fillers"

.... and so I became an ingredients junkie! I headed straight for the internet - there's a such a wealth of information and I'd noticed that there was a great online community of 'mixtresses' discussing homemade products and hair! It was fantastic.

After the internet came holland and barrett and then the greengrocer (for things like avocado, eggs and lemons)! I really enjoy making my own products now and am slowly phasing out store-bought products that are either unethically produced, bad for the environment or have the potential to be bad for my family's health.  

So far, it's going well - I make my own exfoliators, scrubs, cleansers, toners, scalp oils, hair moisturisers, body souffles, hair spray and face masks! Our whole family uses them - including Mr O! Sometimes I use recipes found in books or online but mostly I love to experiment! Sometimes the result is as desired, other times its not (lol) - but that's part of the learning process and adds to the fun!

If you're interested in natural hair and skincare but aren't sure where to start - check these sites out. These are just some of my personal favourites:

For Blogs and Community
black girl long hair - this is like the GodMother of hair blogs! God Mother of hair blogs!
nappturality - this blog has a forum! It's great for swapping tips on haircare and products!
afroniquely you -  also has a forum. I really like this blog too!

For Products:
akoma skincare - I absolutely love this site, especially how it shows its engagement with the people that make our products!
carol's daughter - i suppose the God Mother of natural products for black hair!
anita grant - this a bit like a UK version of carol's daughter!

For Ingredients:
from nature with love - this is pretty much a one-stop-shop for mixtresses or people who want to learn about the properties of different ingredients.

No matter what your hair/skin type, I've learnt that there's definitely a mix out there for you...

Happy Mixing!

Mrs O

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

I miss my hair...

Yesterday I posted about letter writing and today I'm posting about something completely different! Hair! 

Whilst I love the versatility of my twists, on some level when I look in the mirror, I'm still not so sure who is looking back at me! I am such a hair schizophrenic - I just can't make up my mind...natural - extensions - braids - weaves etc . I see no real problem with me changing my hair style frequently, but today I felt the need to re-engage with my initial reasons for shaving my head and see how they compare to how I feel now.

This was me a year ago, straight after the BIG CHOP:

So why did I start this journey in the first place?

- The main reason was for our daughter. I decided that I would not relax her hair ever! She has beautiful, long, thick and curly hair - she gets this from her Father! I feel that relaxed hair is a commitment and I want her to decide to make it for herself - if she chooses to later in life. She was only tiny, but I feel really strongly about it - I also feel strongly about leading by example and couldn't bear to tell her that she can't relax her hair even though I do. So the only solution was to - stop relaxing my hair. I guess I could've waited until the conversation came up (I predict circa 2016), but I also had my own reasons for not relaxing my hair. Transitioning (braiding my hair until it grew out) was never an option - I don't have that kind of patience!

The personal (i.e not about setting an example) reasons were:

- I hated the burn of relaxer! My scalp is sensitive and it was always a horrible process for me. The sad thing is that I'd always leave it on, gritting my teeth through the pain - because I wanted the hair to gain the full benefits of the relaxer. It's ironic really because whilst getting the benefits of relaxer, my hair was losing all its natural properties and becoming weaker and weaker.

- I was freaked out one day when I relaxed my own hair without gloves, as when I had finished, my nail polish had come off - ummm - scary!

-  I hated the feel of my hair immediately after relaxing - it was lank and thin looking and lacking in volume. Of course that was all fixed by blow drying and my old friend 'Luster's pink lotion - but we've since fallen out'.

- I used to look at girls with their natural hair texture and feel dare I say 'envious'. I used to wish that I could be brave enough to sing- I am not my hair..and mean it! Hair is such a big deal in the black community - it's frightening! Strangely now I feel that I kind of am my hair - its an expression of who I am...it's just a question of what I want to say with it and lately that changes on a daily basis lol

...it was time for a change and I took the plunge - less than a year before our wedding - I did the BC! I was fascinated and inspired by the various natural hair communities online and decided enough was enough. I had done the talking 'I want to', 'I wish I could' yadadada and then one evening I just took out my weave, washed my hair and asked Mr O to cut it  - and he did! The next day I went to his barber shop and they fixed it up for me - and there I was, at the start of my hair journey...

..and here I am now with twists. I think for me the solution is to get more creative with my natural hair and when I do get bored - I should simply get a weave - fine I still have to waste time seeking out the perfect hair, but my hairdresser does it in 3 hours, which is far more suited to my aversion to a numb bum! 

For now, I will make the most of these overpriced twists before taking them out - no doubt as soon as I do, I'll be wishing I had them back in again!!! 

The irony eh?!

Mrs O

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Writing, RSVPs and Letters...

Following on from yesterday's post about wedding stationary...it got me thinking about RSVPs... I RSVPd by phone to this wedding - not by text, but an actual uber-excited phone call! There was also a postcard included with this invitation pack and so I'm going to send that too...

Writing on the postcard got me thinking - oh how I miss having penpals. I had penpals the world over when I was younger. I've always loved to write and it was fun keeping in touch with people who lived so far away. Unfortunately, I've only managed to stay in touch with one of these penpals (it's been about 11 years now!), but these days, we mostly email and send facebook messages. Sure the internet has quickened our communication and we can chat with people worldwide in an instant. Heck, it's even helped me find some like-minded blogpals, who have become 'real life' friends. But still, for me, nothing beats a good old fashioned letter! The sound it makes when the postman drops it through the door, the feeling of opening the flap of the envelope and unfolding the letter from its creases! I just LOVE letters! Sadly, I actually don't remember the last postal mail that I received excluding bills, surveys and take-away menus! Birthday and Christmas cards don't count either unfortunately! Whilst I appreciate those, I know when both events are coming and the excitement isn't really there anymore...

So, as a lover of most things retro, second-hand, up-cycled and 'old', I've decided, as a half-year resolution, to write more letters...to other people (not myself)! I'm talking actual writing, with a special pen and special (ideally scented) paper, finished off with commemorative stamps. If I really get into it, I might even commission a rubber stamp of my own!!! 

I can't wait to make someone else's day by just sending them an unexpected 'hey, how're you doing?!'...

Now all I need is that special pen, paper and envelope set - and I'm away!

Mrs O

Monday, 7 June 2010

Wedding Invitations, First Impressions and DIY

What is a wedding invitation? Is it a formal note of invitation indicating the style/theme/tone of the wedding or is it just an invitation – to tell your beloved guests where to go, on what day and at what time?

I’m writing this in ‘response’ if you like, to an invitation that we received recently. It me as soon as I saw the envelope. There was a monogrammed stamp on it! How amazing! The colour of the writing matched the colour of said monogram – cute right? The whole package filled me with joy, I read everything, word for word and actually couldn’t put it down – it was that fun and fabulous to read! We simply cannot wait for the wedding now!

Its funny how a few pieces of paper, got me so excited! The invitation (to me at least) obviously means so much! This all got me thinking about invitations and stationary and just how many hours Mr O and I put into making ours as a snapshot of the wedding and to give (realistic) first impressions to our beloved guests - we wanted to say, chic, personal and sweet I guess....they weren't 100% perfect - but then neither are we. We loved them though and I still feel really proud when I even think about them!

We made all our own wedding stationary actually – including save the date, invitation, order of service, table plan and table names. It was a real mission, it was hard work, but it was totally worth it. We’re so happy that we spent the time (and in some cases, the extra £££) to make them as chic as we could, whilst still retaining that ‘handmade with love’ touch. We got lots of positive feedback from our guests which again, made it worth the effort.

Our table plan.

Up close and personal with our table plan.

Here are my top tips for DIYing your own stationary

  1. Start early
This project will take longer than you expect! We started about 6 months in advance and still ended up doing the table plan on wedding week!

  1. Do consider lots of different designs.
Once we decided on the components – i.e. damask card and pearls, Mr O and I had a competition, to see whose designs would win. Mr O won most of the time! The old saying ‘practice makes perfect’ is VERY fitting here.

  1. Keep it simple.
The project will always become more complicated than you think. Keeping it simple leaves less room for costly errors.

  1. Do consider a monogram
It’s easy to do on Powerpoint and really effective in bringing everything together – coordination is key!

  1. Many hands make light work!
In this case it is so true. Mr O and I managed the save the dates and invitations by ourselves, but when it came to producing 250 order of services, we had positively run out of steam! We enlisted the help of two cousins and two of our bridesmaids and got it done in a number of days. You have an invitation making party! Obviously, there should be a designated drinks and food area – nobody wants oil marks on their invitation!

  1. Be a smart shopper.
The most expensive components don’t necessarily mean the best finish. At the same time, try to see which items offer value for money – cheaper is not always better. For example, if using embellishments – buy the ones with sticky stuff on the underside, it is far easier and quicker than the slightly cheaper alternative.

  1. Attention to detail is so important.
I’d recommend using dressmaker scissors to cut ribbon, appropriate glue for the purpose, and double-sided sticky tape rolls!

  1. If you’re doing this on a budget – invest in a guillotine, a card folding board and good quality paper/card.
These items will make the finished product look much more professional. You can always sell bits and bobs after the wedding – there’s always another DIY bride looking for a bargain. Remember when DIYing its about ‘aww this is so lovely, they made it themselves’ and not ‘ewww, obviously they made it themselves on a budget’ – even its true, everyone doesn’t need to know!

  1. Do double check all text.
This includes the invitation wording, insert card, gift registry number, postcodes etc! Check check and check again!

It was only after we printed the inner sleeve of our invitation that my Mum announced that the woman marries the man and not the other way around! Neither myself nor Mr O knew this and we had to re-print all the inserts! A costly mistake when you’ve selected premium pearlised paper! Grrr.

  1. Do have fun!
It’s a little project and one where you get to see the fruits of your labour straight away! How cool is that!?! You will miss not having invites to make after the wedding is over - or is that just me! 

Mrs O 

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Twists, Bells and Paris

So, the much-discussed hairstyle (I got the twists) was debuted in Paris on our mini-moon - part two.

You see, after our wedding in January, we had a lovely time being snowed in at The Bell. Here, the food was exquisite, the room light and airy and truly perfect for post wedding relaxation.

Our attempt at capturing 'EUG hearts MEL' in the snow.

Our second mini-moon (Paris), was completely the opposite, it was full on fabulous. We did everything listed on our carefully planned itinerary. Mr O booked it all, to coincide with our 6 month anniversary and we stayed at the gorgeous Villa Lutece Port Royal. It was perfectly quirky and boutique, with fantastic staff - just how we like it! 

We visited the usual tourist hotspots, climbed the 300 steps up to the La Basilique du Sacre Coeur and bargained for beautiful ribbons and buttons from the 1920s in Les Puces market - Gok Wan - here I come!

The entire trip was fantastic and has completely renewed the feeling that 2010 is our year! The highlight was by far the bateaux parisiens. Mr O had organised for us to have a stunning three course meal on board this plush boat, entertained by a live jazz band. We sailed along the Seine and watched day turn to night, after which the Parisian illuminations filled the whole boat with excitement. We ended the evening dancing, with strangers, speaking a variety of languages and had such an amazing time. There were professional photographers on board, so we have a lovely new picture to add to our wall! Now all I need is a new frame! It was completely amazing - my husband (I can't get enough of saying that) is completely amazing!

I totally have to recommend mini-mooning. Why have one get-away when you can have lots of mini ones! It has been something for us to look forward to, limited post-wedding blues and we had the most fantastic time. 

Thank you Mr O!

Mrs O

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