Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What did Rhi do on the weekend?

Don’t you love those nights that were supposed to be tame but end up being really fun? That’s how Friday was at our house. We had D and L over for dinner and ended up singing karaoke in front of the TV until early morning. Poor neighbours.
Anyway, over the weekend I felt like smokey chips, so we headed to The Carrrington in Surry Hills for some food and a drink. We got the animal fries, cuttlefish and pork nachos. All delicious, all bad for you, who cares.
We headed to the theatre last night with some friends to see The Effect. I haven’t seen a play before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect but I really enjoyed it. The story was really engaging and in parts it was easy to forget that we were in a small-ish room watching people act out a play. The play was at Sydney Theatre Company and there is an adjoining bar where we had pre-drinks and a bite to eat called The Bar at the End of the wharf. What a fantastic location for a bar! Might have to head back some time for a drink because the view was spectacular.

I also watched Eat, Pray, Love over the weekend in preparation for my trip to Bali later this year. I hadn’t seen it before and was told it would get me excited for Bali. It was a great film and the storyline was good. My sister in law actually met Ketut last time she was in Bali and said he was a lovely man. I’m pretty excited to check out Ubud, it looks like a beautiful place!
What have you all been up to? Have you seen a play before?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Time for a holiday - NZ & Bali

For our delayed honeymoon part 1, S and I decided we’d go skiing in New Zealand next month. Looking at the ski cams, it looks like we won’t be disappointed with the snow. I’m looking forward to some delicious food and great New Zealand wine. If you have any recommendations on places to eat or things to do apart from skiing in Queenstown, let me know.
S was also invited on a joint bucks to Vegas towards the end of the year and my FOMO got the better of me, so I planned my own hens to Bali. Not as glamorous as Vegas, but I think I would prefer sipping cocktails by the pool rather than gambling and whatever other shenanigans go on in Vegas. If you have recommendations for anything that is a must see or must do etc, please let me know as I’ll drive myself crazy researching. We’re based in Seminyak, if that helps!

Monday, July 14, 2014

How to plan a wedding in 80 days - choosing the venue

I think the hardest part in planning a wedding is definitely where you will hold the ceremony and reception. Everything else is relatively easy to put together once you have knocked out the biggest parts of the day.

Since we’d already chosen the Empire in Annandale as our ‘engagement party’ venue, that was one less thing to stress about. We never told them it was actually a ‘surprise reception’ as there was no need for them to know. If you are willing to have a low key party, then I would suggest looking around at local hotels/pubs that have nice décor and a spot you can book out to host your guests. We had already opted to have meat and cheese boards as a starter for our food, followed by pizza. On top of that, we had a bar tab running and we provided house wines and tap beers. The Empire has a really great selection of craft beers on tap, so our guests were spoiled for choice.

There were a few people that went up to the bar for some tastings and I thought that was really cool. Our celebrant said she has done a couple of weddings in pubs before where the space is able to be rented exclusively. If we had been able to rent the pub exclusively, we’d probably have done our ceremony there, but we couldn’t since part of the room we were in was open to the public. I know there’s a few places you can rent exclusively, it just takes some looking. I have included a few options below for some Sydney venues that you can rent as function space. Bear in mind that a lot of places have a minimum spend. The Empire had a minimum spend if you held a function after 5pm, but since ours was a lunch time function, we bypassed that requirement.

Our ceremony was originally planned for a park near-by us, but when the renovations on the oval weren’t done this was no longer an option. An ugly brown fence in my pictures wasn’t ideal, so we went to plan B – our backyard. We live in a terrace and the back yard had plenty of room to accommodate our immediate family. The down fall was the rain that we had the week before the week of the wedding (are you following, ha?). The week of the wedding was sunny every day, but the sun didn’t hit the right spots in the yard to dry the mud that had accumulated. One night, Steve, D and I were standing out the back looking at the spot we would have stood and we decided it was a lost cause and we moved to plan C – our dining room.

I remember standing in the dining room feeling a little defeated and wondering how on earth we’d make the place look ‘weddingy’ and how we’d fit 20 people. After moving a few things around and getting a bit more of a visual, it all started to come together. All we needed to do was move the dining table out in to the lounge room and decorate the room with flowers etc.

 And that was that. We had planned our ceremony and 'surprise reception' with minimal fuss. This was all done on a budget too. Not because I couldn't afford a big wedding, but because I am selfish and would rather spend that money on myself. Is anyone interested in a break down of costs? I won't be doing exact costs but ballpark figures..
The Winery , Surry Hills. Group menus start from $55 per person and there are various sized spaces that can be booked out for functions.

The Empire, Annandale. More of a pub/hotel style venue with beautiful decor. There are a few different spaces that can be booked to suit your purpose. Food can be booked from a canapé menu or you can order a la carte meals for guests.

The Passage, Darlinghurst. There is a $40 pp group menu with various sized spaces that can be booked for 10 - 135 guests. 

The Three Weeds, Rozelle. Again, various spaces that can be booked. A large pub with great food. You do have to pay room hire but the charge isn't too expensive.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Honeymoon day trip

The week after the wedding we pretty much went straight back to work, but no-one was robbing me of my 'honeymoon week'. I think that week we had take out every night. The Monday following the wedding we tried to go to Centennial vineyard only to find it closed, so we trekked back down to the Southern Highlands the following Sunday to get my long awaited lunch from Centennial Vineyard. 

I last went there in October 2013 on our way home from a weekend at the coast.  This time, dressed a bit nicer and without matted hair, we went to celebrate the recent nuptials. It was a freezing day. As we drove away from the city, I watched the temperature drop from about 15 degrees celcius to a very cool 7 degrees. Lucky for us, we were seated inside near the beautiful big fire, such a luxury!
I had soufflé on my mind from the moment I planned the trip to the Southern Highlands because I'd had it the previous time and loved it. As with most restaurants, the menu changes with the season and the menu now had a pumpkin and sage soufflé, so that's what I ordered. It definitely wasn't as good as the four cheese soufflé I had the previous time, but it was still really delicious. I never say no to dessert, especially when celebrating, so we ordered dessert and moved over by the fire with our sweets and coffee in hand. 

Rather than waste the long drive down to the Southern Highland, we decided to make the most of the afternoon and go for a little drive. I remembered as a kid I had gone to a little ghost town called Joadja and had seen signs pointing in that direction earlier so we followed them to see what we could find. First stop was Joadja winery. It seemed like a small winery, though I didn't do much exploring. We tried the port and decided to get a bottle then headed down the road towards the ghost town to see if we would get in. Unfortunately it had closed before we got there, so we'll have to make another day trip soon to have a look.
One thing I love about the Southern Highlands is the scenery. Wherever you look there are rolling hills, livestock, beautiful big houses and great open roads. We were driving past a particularly pretty section of the road when S decided we would get a family portrait on the side of the road. That seemed like a great idea until I realised by then it was 4 degrees out, with windchill probably in the negatives. We persevered, got a few photos and jumped back in the car to warm up and head home.

This is not the only 'honeymoon' we will do. We've got a couple of holiday ideas up our sleeves for when we can both get time off work.
I love the Southern Highlands and the nice slow pace down there. Have you been recently?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Don't assume

Yesterday Teddy was attacked for the third time in his short almost 6 year life. Yesterday, Teddy was attacked in his own backyard.

One week ago, new neighbours moved in. With them, they brought a kelpie cross dog. Most weekends if the weather is warm enough, we leave our front and back doors open. We have a front yard with a gate that is always closed so Ted can’t roam the street. Yesterday was a beautiful day so the doors were open. We were home and no matter where we are in the house, we can hear when the front gate is opened. I had given Teddy a treat and taken him out the back so he could eat it in the sun on the grass and not on the rug like he wanted to. Steve and I were getting ready to head out and both went upstairs at the same time to get changed. I heard my neighbour calling his dog (also called Teddy) and thought nothing of it until I heard a dog yelping and crying out in pain. It was the same noise I heard when Teddy was mauled a few years earlier and while I knew the front gate was closed, I also knew it was my dog being attacked and I flew down the stairs to find him.

At first, I thought he had somehow gotten out the front of gate, but he wasn’t out the front when I checked and I realised the noise was coming from the backyard. I raced out the back to see my Teddy cowering on the ground and the neighbour’s dog was standing next to him. I picked Teddy up straight away not even thinking that the other dog could have a go at me. Lucky it didn’t and lucky Steve was right behind me and yelled at the dog to get out of the backyard.

The owner told us that the dog had been outside off lead and had gotten scared when another dog barked at it. The dog then jumped our front fence, went through our house and straight out to my backyard where it attacked Ted. Ted was ok, he had a bite to his ear that was only a graze (I know it was a bite as there was slobber on it). He was terrified and curled himself up in to a ball for a long time until I could calm him down.

The guy apologised profusely and said ‘I didn’t know he would do that’. Neither did the last two owners of the dogs that attacked Teddy. The attack was unprovoked (just as the last two were). My dog was eating his treat in his own backyard when he was attacked. The guy said that he was babysitting his housemates dog and wasn’t aware the dog was vicious. That’s not my problem in the slightest. I don’t care if you weren’t aware. I don’t care that the dog got a fright. The actions of the dog after that followed are what I care about. If I had a child in my house or in my backyard, that situation could have been a hell of a lot worse.

We reported the dog to the council, knowing nothing will be done this time, but that it will be on record. We’ve made the mistake twice before of not reporting the dogs and the first time, the owner continued to walk the dog off lead and around children knowing the dog had mauled another dog before. That time was a lot worse, the guy himself was bitten when he tried to get Ted out of the dogs mouth.

I am not saying Teddy is perfect. But I know Teddy and I know his personality. I know he is uneasy around small children (he has not been exposed to many) and that if caught unaware, he will growl at them. Since I know that, I am super vigilant when there are children around. I always tell the child’s parent that Ted is not good around children and can you please make sure your child stays clear. I know that isn’t always easy, so I don’t let my guard down and I am always between Ted and the child. Do I think he would attack a child? No. I know he wouldn’t. He might growl and put his teeth on a child, but he would never bite. Do I assume that because I think he would never bite a child that I can use that as an excuse if he did? No. Dogs are unpredictable and my dog is no different. What I do know is that Ted would never jump a fence and go and attack another dog. I know that when called, he will come. I know that when he is told to stop, he will stop. I know when he is told to heel, he will heel. So he is allowed outside, off lead. Because I know I can control him and if I see children or a cat or danger ahead, I can tell him to stop and he will so I can put a lead on him.

The reason for this post is to tell people to not assume their dogs won’t bite. If your dog is hard to handle off lead, if your dog is easily spooked (by as little as a dog barking at it!), if your dog is unpredictable – do not let it off lead and free to roam the street. If that dog had run down our street, it could have run in to a number of children that live there. In fact, on the other side of that neighbour is a house with a 1 year old and they leave their door open often too. I hate to think what could have happened if the dog went the other way.

Please be aware of your dog’s behaviour and please learn your dog’s personality well. It might just save a child or dog from being attacked in future.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The story of a camera flash

There is no hiding the fact that I love a bargain. I will rarely ask for a discount, but I’ll always do my research to make sure I am getting the best deal for whatever it is I am purchasing. For our wedding, we had my Mum as the photographer as well as Steve’s cousin. We have a Nikon DSLR that takes great pictures and thought along with a professional flash, we’d be set. At the camera store, they told us that if we ended up wanting to buy the flash, they’d deduct the rental price from the excess we’d then pay to keep it.

All well and good – we rented the flash and took it home and over the course of the weekend decided that yes, we would keep the flash and we would go back on Monday to pay the difference. I did my research and found plenty online for the $600 mark and since we’d paid $180 for rental, it would be an extra $420. We had cash and so we decided to try and talk them down to accepting a further $400 in cash instead.

Steve took the flash back one morning and let them know what the deal was and asked them to bring down the excess to $400. He was met with no’s all ‘round and was told he would have to pay $470. Yes, another $470. He left the shop with no flash, let me know what was going on and I was like - hell no. On their website they had advertised the price at $630 taking their asking price of $470 + $180 above that. It was then I realised that we had been way overcharged for the rental in the first place as the price advertised on their website was $80 for the weekend, not $180!

Lunch time rolled around and we went back in to seek a refund for the rental and to see what sweet talking I could do to bring the price down. I told the guy the prices I’d seen online and told him I had $400 cash in my hands that I was ready to give him. He started out by saying, no $400 is not enough.. we pay $560 etc etc. Turns out, he thought that all up I wanted to pay only $400… I explained I am not that cheap; we meant $400 on top of the $180 we’d already paid and he was quick to cut a deal, telling us if we paid $360 extra, we could have the flash.
Woohoo, less than what I was willing to pay! He put it through, realised he’d just short changed himself, we took the flash and off we went.
Moral of the story – don’t pay full price, especially for electronics.
Do you ever try and bargain?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Wedding part four- the 'engagement party'

Our Engagement party was set to be held at the Empire Hotel in Annandale and subsequently became the venue for our 'surprise reception'. The Empire has a few different spaces that can be rented and we went with the French Quarter section for the decor and comfy arm chairs. We chose to have cheese and meat platters as well as gourmet pizzas (they really are good!) as our food and it didn't disappoint. There was so much food and when they started clearing at around 6pm there was still plenty left. We had a bar tab with house wine and tap beer which turned out to be really good because The Empire has a lot of good craft beers on tap. A few people went to the bar for some beer tasting which was pretty cool to see at a 'wedding'. 

It was here we told about 40 of ours guests that we were actually married and they weren't really at an engagement party. The responses were really great. I expected a few people to get upset, maybe a tantrum here or there but there was none of that. Just smiles, a few cheers' and then drinks...of course. I spent most of my time mingling, sitting down to rest, eating and repeat. Weddings are exhausting and this was no different even though it was a small wedding. I only had 60 guests and there were plenty I didn't get a chance to have a good chat with. Lucky for me, they were understanding and everyone had a good time anyway. 

Since we were all quite spread out, there wasn't much scope for us to get in to speeches, so at the end of the night when there were about 10 of us left, I pulled my speech out. I'm pretty shy when I speak in front of people, so to calm the nerves we decided to do a speech circle where each person said a little speech to congratulate us etc. This was probably one of my favourite parts of the day. The words spoken by my friends are ones I will remember forever as they were so sweet and touching. 

And that concludes the wedding posts! Yay, I'm married!

Wedding part three - wedding pics

After our ceremony, we had about one hour to mingle and get some photos taken of the families and just Steve and I. My Mum has her own small photography business, so we enlisted her help. This was really good considering I am as awkward as they come and I needed someone to give me orders on how to stand, where to put my hand etc. We had agreed beforehand that we wanted minimal posed shots (they are not us at all) and emphasised that we wanted natural looking shots. I think Mum did really well considering how annoying I am, ha! For the below photos, we literally had about 15 minutes (including time to walk to that spot). Honestly, I love them. They look natural and there was minimal effort required from me. Some of the photos aren't the best quality below as I took them from facebook, but you get the gist..
One of my brothers was in the US, so we facetimed him during the ceremony
Looking very dapper