Recently, I was granted a surprising bonus from work. I was keen to save it all, but the BF encouraged me to celebrate. So I decided to go out for dinner at est, a two hatted restaurant. Of course, on a 42C day!
Due to the heat, this was lunch:
There was some other sweeties to finish – a jelly square (tart), a macaron each with caramel between the layers and a log of chocolate.
The service was a little patchy. Inconsistent wait staff, and busy. We saw a few snafus too, bringing out dishes when people were AWOL, or our desserts came out, almost went to the wrong table, and then doubled back to the kitchen before coming to us. est is part of the Meirvale chain of everything (bars, restaurants etc) and I think that’s probably their undoing. Nothing was horrible, but it wasn’t top shelf either. I sound so hoity toity, but I suppose I’ve come to expect the high prices as much for great food, as world class attentive service too.
So a while ago, I think I mentioned I was planning a spectacular 60th for my mother. I saw this inspiration picture on BetterAfter:
With that in mind, my mum and I worked on a spectacular celebration with her friends and children. And we went literal, unlike Lindsay who went with an interpretation:
So let me start with the hallway:
Now for THE table
Unlike the inspiration, we went for some flowers on the table:
How would people know where to sit? Solved that with a US purchase in Jan of a special little pen for writing on glass and porcelain:
Now all the rest of the shots I just wanna share for sharing’s sake:
Lastly, the cake (apologies for the fugitive-ly taken photo in the car, lest we have an accident and mum never see it!):
Overall, I LOVED planning for this – I hand sewed the white ribbon onto all the napkin rings, which was definitely the most intense part. But I love hand sewing. Everything was perfect, I’m told, and I was pretty happy with how things turned out. I realise the part of ‘entertaining’ I stress about is the food – everyone being happy and full and eating. If that’s outsourced, I love the rest of it (Which isn’t to say I don’t like baking, but it’s like baking or event coordination, not both).
So I’m available for hire 😉 You pay bills (I covered the flowers in the end, mainly cause I wanted free reign – there was another HUGE bouquet in the kitchen you didn’t get a photo of cause I forget which was Birthday Girl’s request on our market trip).
Party planner instead of engineer? Maybe… just maybe!
So, the last three days have been better. And I attribute it to my list/check sheet. Instead of buying a prettier product from a stationary store like Kikki K, I DIY’ed.
Basically, each morning, I want to exercise, meditate and (ideally) write down my day’s goals. Then in the evening, I want to floss (and put my mouth-guard in for teeth grinding), take my tablets and apply cream to my head, balm to my cracked heels, write a few things I’m grateful for AND… pray.
I love ticking stuff off, so this is working pretty darn well for me! So even though I deferred this morning’s meditation to get to work earlier, my tick-traction meant as soon I was done with dinner, I sat for 15 minutes trying to visualise a prick of sunlight expand making the person happier and happier. I was MUCH better at meditation pre-visualisation. But meditation is a constant learning and improvement exercise.
I started the work routine on Sunday night, and got some stellar photos I’ll subject reader to:
And last week, it was the BF’s birthday. I completely dropped the ball. I didn’t plan a thing – a gift nor a dinner/experience. So on Friday night, after a day off with a killer headache, I merged his favourite desserts – lemon meringue pie and cheesecake. Can you see my attempt at a piped heart?
It was delicious, but interestingly, I’ve noticed my ‘sweet tooth’ cravings are mainly after lunch or in the afternoon. That’s work time, so this is safe in the fridge at home. One square of dark mint chocolate is enough! This realisation means I’m avoiding the fundraiser chocolates more often, and generally keeping my eating pretty healthy. Weigh in tomorrow, but since our Phuket trip, I’ve dropped 4kg, and while I want to lose more, when the BF put it like that, I was pretty proud of myself!
Hope life’s treating you well too. Do you like checking things off on a list? Does it keep you on track to achieving your goals?
This was the party to end all parties. It had every element I could hope for, and of course, nothing I wouldn’t want. You might recall a teaser post here.
The morning was frantic. I got a fake tan. Then for the two hours waiting for it to set, I finished my jigsaw puzzle, cause I was not packing it up half done!
I needed two additional tables, and one (nail biting-ly) only arrived at 3pm, thanks to some wonderful friends up the road! You’ll notice I made meters upon meters of bunting as you can see in the background.
I also had three friends arriving from interstate. Sadly I could only fit one in to stay here, and she arrived at the same time as the last table. Another guest helped out with picking up the three cakes at 4pm and dropping them by. Sadly I forgot to take photographs of the cake 🙁
I knew not all my friends had met one another, as two came from school days, another two from my trips to Paris, and others from university. With this in mind, and a desire to ‘give back’ to my wonderful friends, each person had a small bio/highlight reel written up for them. I thought the early guests could ‘busy’ themselves finding the bio that matched them, but in the mean time, find out about other guests. On the other side of the card was their name. Inside the card, was their seat number. I’ve never been a seating plan gal, but I didn’t want new friends to feel like they had nothing in common with those around them, so I tried to socially engineer 😉
Everyone loved the entree… I thought I had enough white crockery borrowed from my parents and a friend, but alas, I forgot about the side plates… and I similarly was under resourced with tumblers and cutlery. Thankfully the caterers had some in their van, and luckily avoided those costs!
The best thing about catering were the two waiters who cleared everything and kept all the glasses filled.
There is nothing I like more than a sparkler, and for $5 I got 80! That was enough for us all to enjoy countless!
I invited 16 guests to join me for a sit down dinner party in my home. I got the event fully catered, with three canapes (or two, after decorating resulted in me upturning the dish of arancini balls!), one entree and alternate mains. Then I bought three different cakes from Adriano Zumbo, a celebrity patisserie.
You’ll remember (or know) I’m not keen on stuff. Well, my brother and his girlfriend MADE me a 3 and a 0 pinata and filled it with candy. That’s an activity/experience combined with a consumable I love!
They filled the pinata SO full they couldn’t hang it without it breaking the string, so my daring brother held it! Much to the amusement of my guests AND the neighbours and their guests who were also having a dinner on their facing balcony!
No event of mine would be complete without some craft. Or with flowers. And sparklers. Oh how I love sparklers.
The other surprise arranged for me was a video tribute. My friend had contacted my facebook ‘friend’ list, and perhaps even some of you bloggers! She asked for a short video, and she stitched together with facebook photos. I was totally surprised, and had Dar from An Exacting Life come to life. Interestingly, she was mistaken by my family by another Canadian friend we have! An Israeli friend dialled in (and then there were embarrassing photos of us with mud on us from when I visited her!).
It was a wonderful evening, and pretty stress free thanks to the amazing caterers and help from friends and family. I feel honoured to have such wonderful people around me, and that extends to my readers, who were duly talked about too!
This will be a two part series (can it really be a series with two parts?). The real day of my birthday. And the day of my party!
So, the real birthday started with a horrible cold. That’s what a 15 hour flight with a sick mother will do to you! The BF (unbeknownst to me) had planned a surprise night for me, and none of it had a contingency plan for be staying home from work in bed all day! I reassured him that I would be ok in the evening, but that I most certainly wasn’t going to work.
He’d hoped to pack a bag when I was at work, and take it with him to work. He also planned to lay out an outfit and a note that said a car was picking me up at 7.10pm. In reality, the bag packing happened when he got home from work (and dispatched me to the sofa). I realised something was amiss when I was putting on my make up – the toothbrushes weren’t in the holder! I am a detective!
Anyhow, he laid out my clothing, and a lovely black Audi picked us up, and whisked us to Rockpool, another three hatted restaurant like Aria and Quay where I’ve previously celebrated birthday dinners with family and friends. Unrelated, Rockpool is one of my father’s clients.
There, we indulged in nine courses, which was one too many. How? Well, let’s just say the dessert wine made an appearance much later in the night… seems too many wines, plus cold and flu medication wasn’t ideal.
After dinner, Rich walked/propped me up, and took me to the Sofitel, a short walk from Rockpool. In the room was a lovely bunch of flower from Rich’s parents. His mother stays at the Sofitel when she comes to Sydney, so it all seemed very well orchestrated. The BF has of course ensured there was a FULL buffet breakfast. Knowing me oh so well! Seems a hangover dampens my spirits for a buffet, but I did have a hash brown, pancakes, fruit, bircher museli… so I did put in a good effort!
I feel I need to keep writing, as I have more food photos…
The whole dinner was a complete surprise. We’d disagreed about spending some Christmas money on a ‘fancy dinner’ so I was touched that the BF would organise all this given he’s not as keen on fine dining. He even ate the seafood!
Plan and prepay my funeral – cough cough, not so fun, didn’t happen, but the cash is there?
Zorbing (a weekend away at the Gold Coast) The place went out of business…
The other 3? Well my friend stopped living in NZ, so that was scraped. One was a dinner at a fancy restaurant, which I did for my birthday in 2013. The third was a knife skills course which I did in 2013
Health – monthly challenges
These were a wash! I started out strong, but then it all went bust!
Mar: Squats and abandoned 🙁
Apr: Push up challenge – increase the number everyday fail
May: Morning stretching/yoga fail – though some attempts made
Jun: Planking challenge fail
Jul: Mental health: daily act of kindness fail
Aug: Mental health: daily gratitude journal fail – though attempts made
Sept: 1 internet free day per week fail
Oct: Ocsober fail
Nov: Coffee free challenge fail
Dec: +1 walking fail
Interestingly, I did have a week or two when I woke to do yoga before work? So that was something. But generally my coffee intake increased.
This is one category I always kick a** at! So, for 2014, I will:
1. Save $20,000 in my mortgage offset account (in addition to the starting balance) as of mid Septmber, met this, and by the end of the year exceeded it by $8k!
2. Save $200 a week in for holidays yep, it’s all automated, but now bundled into goal 1 so it’s all in one place
3. Save $10 $20 a week for my ‘one day’ dream of a first class holiday to Paris and NYC (First class flights and accommodation). I plan to spend 20 years saving slowly for this one. $20 per week, cause why not!
4. Save $100 a week for ‘charity’ which I will also withdraw from when I do support fundraising etc. automated too my friend! But kept separate from the pot in goal 1. $20 automatically goes to Church, from this $100.
Plan a dinner party or similar once a quarter. Passed
1. Started with a pizza night for water polo girls in Jan 🙂 Easy and fun.
2. Excess cheese? Informal wine and cheese Sunday arvo.
Email my brother at least weekly whilst he’s in South America (until Sept 2014) so so – not 100% success rate on the stated frequency, but we stayed in contact.
Ekk, seeing I didn’t submit my 16 x 700 words long episode reports in 2013, this goal will role over.
I will also start to think more (again) about the next step in my career. Whilst I wasn’t thinking about it, someone was, and I’ve been acting in a promotion of a role for a few months. And I’ll apply for the position when it’s advertised
I’ve covered my router with a hard cover book; made earphone holders out of old plastic cards; cross stitched a baby’s blanket. Then for Christmas, I made another gingerbread house (and a trifle, but that’s less crafty!). I also made bunting and decorated jars for my upcoming 30th and did another baby’s blanket!
Overall, I think I did well on most of my goals. I really let myself down in the health department, despite doing a three month healthy eating and exercising plan which I paid for. I lost and gained roughly the same amount of weight, which puts me back where I was. Again, I’m trying to be healthier since Christmas day, and have cut out almost all sugar. That being said, I’ve still had juice and soft drink and the occasional taste of sweet things. But I have tried to eat less than I was in the later months of 2014.
How’d you go with your 2014 goals? Feel free to link to your posts!
Christmas seems to be the time when ALL my creativity comes out!
I was inspired by Pinterest for the below, but of course I can’t find the reference. Anyhow, with the BF’s help, and countless clear 3M hooks, we made this:
Sadly the clear adhesive with 3M hooks isn’t as strong. Or the pressure on ceiling mounted hooks was too great. So our ceiling is bare again, but it will return to this festiveness, as I plan to have the hall of lights for my birthday party.
For my immediate family celebration of Christmas on Christmas Day, I tried something new:
I had wanted to make a trifle for a year or two, but last year I was in Perth with the BF’s family, so didn’t have a chance. Mum was going to make a sticky date pudding (well, she says she was, I’ve known her to say that, and turn up to see all the ingredients all laid out for ME to make!)
Late on Sunday night before Christmas, this sad picture graced my Facebook page 🙁
The suggested solution was to make it the Dinosaur’s fault. In any case, my colleagues managed to pick the lollies off on day 1, and took the following day and a half (with SUBSTANTIAL help from me) to eat the gingerbread.
And in non-Christmas craft, I also cross stitched a baby blanket for my friend’s 10 week old baby 🙂
I spent Boxing day (the day after Christmas) without clothes on, in our air conditioned bedroom, doing UAT. User Acceptance Testing is the cool way of me saying I binge watched TV programs, for a clients of my boyfriends! I watched two new series I’d never known, and thoroughly enjoyed them. And I swore off sweets, at least til my holiday, save for a square of choc each night after dinner. So far, so good.
How was your Christmas? Do you have a traditional recipe or thing you cook/make?
The night before we took a week’s holiday in New Caledonia, I co-hosted a Halloween party with a friend (a lovely lovely friend) who I play water polo with. I feel absolutely horrible that I left the party at a very respectful time (not even 11pm) and didn’t at all help with clean up 🙁 Perhaps parties before morning international flights aren’t ideal.
Here’s the themes food we created:
I seem to have a real love for catering, and particularly themed catering! Thanks pinterest. What’s your favourite Halloween food?
I use this blog as much as a photo album, so here’s another multi course dinner at Oscillate Wildly in Newtown, Sydney. I avoided using the flash in this small restaurant, so apologies for the grainy footage – it’s mainly so I can remember the night 🙂
Oh no! I forgot to photograph the ‘custard apple’ course – with guava and cucumber. Deliciousness, I tell you – like and fluffy, crispy but sweet but neutralised by cucumber…
There were also some lovely truffles and jellies for having with coffees… mmm…
We went for matched wines – most of them were biodynamic or similarly untouched by chemicals and preservatives. Mostly whites, but still tasty!
This topped off one of the best days of my life – the day was my Harbour Bridge Climb:
To friends, and boyfriends, and expensive experiences.