My shabby chic wedding – Part 2

Yesterday I started to tell you about my wedding, which took place in 2008. (see post here) Today, I’ll fill you in on a few more of the details, if you’d like to take a look.

These are the little take-home gifts that I put together for our guests. I chanced upon a pile of beautiful Cath Kidston hand creams in Target which were on sale, so I gathered up each and every one of them, as I knew they would be perfect for the ladies. I also picked up a few larger gift packs from the same range to give to people such as my mum and bridesmaid.

For the men, I bought miniature bottles of Johnny Walker whiskey, a nod to Barry’s Scottish heritage.

I loved how pretty they all looked, tucked into the wicker baskets.

My gorgeous Auntie Christine made the wedding cake. I described to her how our wedding was going to look (ie, pretty, floral, pink & green), and showed her a few pictures of cakes that I liked, and she came up with something better than I could have ever imagined.

A couple of days before the wedding, I decided that we needed programs, see below. As I had so much spare time (Ha!), cutting out one hundred and twenty paper butterflies was no problem at all. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the butterflies were attached with tiny metal fasteners, which allowed the wings to ‘flutter’ on the card. They were very pretty, but I must have been slightly deranged to attempt this in the lead up to our at-home wedding.

So there you have it, our wonderful, magical wedding day. It was such a lot of fun getting everything ready and spending hours playing about with ribbons, flowers, and paper lanterns. Barry, in typical man-style, was happy to go along with whatever I planned, and would make the appropriate sounds of approval whenever I showed him something new. I was thrilled with how it all turned out, but at the end of the day, what made it so special and memorable was the love of our family and friends and having them there to share it with us.

My shabby chic wedding.

It’s the beginning of Spring here in Australia; the days are getting warmer, the smell of jasmine floats on the breeze and everyone seems to be gripped by the urge to fling open their windows and let the freshness of spring clear away the stuffiness of winter.
As spring is also the traditional wedding season, I thought it would be a good time to share some pictures of my own wedding, if you’d like to see.
We got married at home, in 2008, with our three children, families and close friends in attendance. It was intimate, personal and relaxed.
Right from the start, I tried to plan a day that was as much fun for as guests as it was for us. I wanted time and space to be able to chat with everyone, just like a big party. And I hoped the wedding would look and feel pretty and home made, like a country fair or garden party.
I wanted lots of flowers everywhere, especially roses. In the months leading up to the wedding, I looked out for cut glass vases at charity shops, markets, and garage sales. These looked gorgeous dotted around the room with the pale pink blooms spilling out. We ended up with so many flowers that we needed to use whatever vessels we could find, so buckets, milk cartons and plastic tubs were quickly covered with wrapping paper, and became part of the decorations!
In order to achieve the abundance of flowers on our rather limited budget, we headed off to the Flower Market. I went with my mum the week before the wedding so we could see what was there, which flowers we liked and to speak to some of the growers about ordering their flowers. The following week, on the day before the wedding, Barry and I headed off in the darkness to gather our blooms. The flower market is such a feast for the senses; the growers yelling out to one another, the scent of thousands of fresh flowers, the cold air of the pre-dawn and the dizzying array of colour. It was well worth having to get up so early and so much cheaper than buying them from a florist.
The ceremony took place in our back garden, which we covered with a marquee. It looked so pretty decorated with the flowers, pink and green chinese lanterns, and the floral bunting which I spent days (and days…and days…) sewing. In hindsight, I would have just cut the shapes out with pinking shears and sewn them to a long strip of fabric. They did, however, look beautiful, and I have reused them to decorate my daughters’ bedroom.
As the weather was so hot, we provided paper fans and parasols for guests to cool themselves with. I picked these up from Chinatown, along with a bowlful of fortune cookies containing love notes for everyone to nibble on as they arrived.
There was also a lolly bar, which was extremely popular with both kids and grown-ups! We had biscuits and truffles, that you can see above, and also musk sticks, milk bottles, jelly beans and many other ‘old school’ treats. I also put together goodie bags for all the children, which contained small toys, colouring books, pencils, and other things to keep them entertained.
Coming up tomorrow, I’ll show you another few of my favourite parts of the day.

Keeping love fresh.

Do you ever go through stages in your relationship where your partner seems to just blend in with the furniture? You get so busy and side-tracked with making the dinner, putting petrol in the car, picking wet towels up off the floor, feeding the dog, etc, that you forget to actually see them. They become just another part of the routine and the landscape. Even worse, I find that when I am in a rut like this, I really only notice my husband when he has done something that irritates me, like forgetting to put the bins out. Not exactly the recipe for romance!

When I realise that I am doing this, I make a concious decision to really  take the time to notice my husband. Yes, it sounds a bit strange, but I promise it works. It’s like looking at them with the fresh eyes that found them so attractive in the first place. You know that feeling you get when you come home from holidays and you see your house in a whole new light? You lok around and think “I forgot how spacious it is here, and how pretty this paint colour is”. Well this is a bit like that, without the going away part.

Sometimes I look at my husband and try to imagine what other people see when they look at him. Do they like his warm brown eyes? The way he seems so friendly and confident?

Other times I wonder what I would think of him if I met him now for the first time. When we first met and fell in love, I spent a great deal of time noticing all the appealing details of him. Yet these details can get a little blurry as the years pass.

Taking the time to notice and appreciate my husband helps to remind me of the wonderful man that he is, and of how lucky I am to have him.

Sleeping Beauty

On the weekend I booked tickets to go and see the ballet, Sleeping Beauty, with my mum and daughters. It is being presented by the Imperial Russian Ballet Company, at the State Theatre. I can’t wait!

Each year I try to take my kids to see a show. I would love to think that they will keep the wonderful memories of these experiences, and that they will gradually develop an appreciation for artistic expression. Most of all, I just love the fun and anticipation; sitting in the darkened theatre, waiting for the curtain to go up, clapping like crazy, and talking about it for days afterwards.

When I was about five, my mum took us to see Disney on Ice. I can still clearly remember sitting in the rows of seats, being bombarded by the colour, lights and energy, seeing all those larger than life characters. We bought a program, and I would look through it again and again in wonder.

Last year, I went with my mum and daughters to Mary Poppins. The best part was actually watching my girls faces during the show. Their wide eyes, taking in the magic, excitement and drama. When she ‘flew’ over the audience, I thought they were going to take off too!

The year before that we saw Swan Lake on Ice, with the Russian Imperial Ice Stars. This was one of the most magical performances I have ever seen. I spent the show in a combination of goosebumps, tears and open-mouthed awe. Many of the performers are former Olympic skaters, and their skills on the ice are mind-blowing. They tell the story of the doomed lovers in an incredibly poignant way. Oh, and the kids enjoyed it too!

The very first concert I took my girls to see was the ballet of Swan Lake, also by the Imperial Russian Ballet Company. (They truly are amazing). We were so far up the back that I nearly got vertigo, but the kids didn’t seem to mind. They were taken in by the spell of the orchestra, the magic happening on stage and the sense of occasion. It was performed at the State Theatre, which feels a bit like stepping into a palace.

Do you remember the first show you went to as a child? I’d love to hear! xx

Be careful what you wish for.



I saw her as I was waiting in line at the health insurance office. Her hair was longish and dark, like mine, but hers fell in gorgeous waves and her fringe softly framed her pretty face. She was wearing a beautifully fine cream knitted sweater with a grey knee length tweed skirt, and leather wedges that looked both comfy and cool. I could not stop staring at her. I had a bad case of  outfit envy. And hair envy. And life envy.

I was feeling particularly frazzled and frumpy that day. ‘I bet she has it all together’, I thought. She has probably just dropped her perfect kids off at their perfect school, now she is out doing some shopping in her perfect outfit before going home to her perfect house. I basically invented a whole life for this woman, based on her (super stylish) appearance.

Then it was my turn to come up to the counter. As I did, I overheard her speaking to the lady behind the desk. She was discussing the amounts she had paid for her various IVF treatments. I suddenly saw her in a whole different light.

She was just a woman, like me. With struggles and challenges, like me.

I was reminded, in that moment, of all the things I have to be grateful for. That nobody’s life is perfect.

And as we walked out of the door, I gave my son’s hand an extra tight squeeze.

Image via The Paris Apartment

How to cut your own hair.

I knew something was up by the deafening sound of silence coming from Callum’s bedroom.

The next sign was the small pile of honey blonde hair on the carpet.

“Come out from under your bed. I won’t be cross. I just want to have a look” I said, as calmly as I could.

Out he crept, scissors in hand, with his brand new hair-do….which was actually not so bad! His fringe was a bit shorter than before, but at least now he could see without having to brush it out of the way.

When he realised that I was not going to have a meltdown, he made his way to the mirror, where he proudly observed his handiwork.

“What do you think?” I asked. “Hmm, yeah, I like it”, he smiled.

“I know it was getting in your eyes, but I was going to take you to the hairdressers this week you know”.

“Well”, he said “Now you won’t have to”. Fair point.


“When can we do the fun stuff?”

Today we went to Hazelhurst Art Gallery in Gymea to see an exhibition of artworks by leading Australian children’s picture book illustrators.

Curator Mike Shuttleworth says Look! gives children a chance to see artwork from their favourite stories up close and explore the process of visual storytelling: “Here are works from Australia’s finest children’s book illustrators. The exquisite images tell many stories, some beautiful, some hilarious, some difficult. They help children to understand their world. They give imaginations fuel to dream.” 

My kids loved wandering around the exhibition, talking about the pictures, asking questions. There was one picture in which the artist had scratched the paint to make the foxes fur look, well, furry. Next to the painting, the artists’ tools were displayed in a box. My kids found this especially fascinating as it gave them a special glimpse into how illustrations can be created. When we got home, Callum stuck a piece of aluminium foil onto paper, then scratched it with a pencil. He said “See, this is what the lady did with the fox!”

In the middle of the space was a big pile of cushions, a cosy armchair and bookshelves displaying all the books from the exhibition. After looking at all the pictures, we sat and read a couple of our favourites, including ‘Love from Grandma’.

As it was the first day of the exhibition, there were a range of special activities for the children, such as short films, book making, craft, drawing lessons, and FACE PAINTING!!  My kids’ love for face painting knows no bounds. Callum actually spent most of the time asking “When can we do the fun stuff? I really want to get my face painted!” So, we made our way to Studio 1, where we found an extremely long queue leading to a surprisingly calm looking face painter. After asking the kids if they reeeeeally wanted to have their faces painted (I know, stupid question), we lined up, and lined up, and lined up…for 90 minutes! This was a lady who clearly took her job as a painter of faces seriously. (see results below)

In the end, I took my tired little puppy, kitten and vampire (!?) home for lunch and a rest. We didn’t have long as my kitten had a McDonald’s party to go to.

So, if you’re in the area, and are looking for a free, fun experience for your kids these school holidays, I would highly recommend the LOOK! exhibition.

Image at top: Elizabeth Honey, illustration from I’m Still Awake, Still, music by Sue Johnson, Allen & Unwin, 2008, gouache on paper