A Tale of Two Topics

 

What 500 calories looks like...

What 500 calories looks like…

Today’s blog post focuses on guest lists (urgh) and an update on the 5:2 diet.

When we initially decided to get married, I wanted a very small wedding – close family only and then a party some time later for friends. Simple, non? But working out the logistics of organising two events defeated us and the wedding began to grow arms and legs.

Several months ago, we wrote up the guest list while under the influence of a wine or two. It took on the realms of fantasy – the world and his wife were coming to see me become a wife. My fiance stuck to the sensible, I was scribbling away happily adding the Power Plate guy (I felt I owed him for the stomach muscles I now possess), the people from the corner shop who keep me supplied in diet coke even though I don’t know their full names and several others I haven’t seen in decades.

Needless to say the list was scrapped…

I’d been putting off writing it again, even though I really love writing lists (to do lists feature daily in my life). Necessity has stepped in. The New Lanark Mill Hotel is pretty small and rooms are filling up already. Getting married on a Thursday means people will also need to book time off work.

Plus my sister has been organising my hen party (I’ve mentioned I’d like cheese, wine and possibly chocolate and cakes to be involved and left her to it. It kills me as I’m a bit of a control freak, but if you ask someone to do something for you, best to leave them to it. My sister hasn’t done this before and I think she is finding it quite exciting.) so she’s sent out invites for that. I haven’t yet asked people to save the date so time to face up to my fears of the guest list.

I’ve come to the conclusion that guest lists are easiest when they are either very small (family only) or very large (when you’re a millionaire, say). In between the small and the large is the hell of the ‘who can we cross off this list?’

We wrote them out separately and are excluding children, except for close family. It feels a bit mean, but our numbers are limited to 110 and my theory is that most children get bored at weddings anyway.

Like many people I went to a lot of weddings in my 20s and saw a lot of people marry that I now haven’t seen in at least 10 years. Therefore, I haven’t invited most of them. We’ve decided not to invite most of our cousins either. And we’re rather uncharitably hoping that our currently single friends remain so for the next six months…

And so on to the 5:2 diet! I’m one week into it. The idea is that you eat normally (roughly 2,000-2,500 calories a day) for five days a week and on two days a week you eat 500-600 calories a day. I’d read it described as the easiest and most difficult diet you can follow. Funnily enough, the fasting isn’t as difficult as you might imagine. The second day I did it I felt as if I had greater and sharper mental clarity, which is why fasting is so popular with yogis I suppose.

Cutting to the chase though, I’ve lost three pounds and my stomach feels much, much flatter. Blimey, you don’t get a lot of food for your 500 calories, though! I’ve done it by eating some fruit at lunchtime and then an evening meal and if you’re looking for ideas for low-calories meals, there are some nice ones here. If you’re looking for a great calorie counter try myfitnesspal which has a website and mobile app.

As Christmas and the inevitable over-indulgence rapidly approaches (write cards! Buy presents! Make food! Meet up with various people! Why oh why does December always catch me out?) I thought I’d stick to it for another week or so. Watch this space…

 

 

 

 

The Unneccessary and the Unoriginal

Do you need a caption for a fake pic created through Paint?!

I mentioned in the office recently* that I planned to send out ‘save the date’ cards and a colleague asked about this in a kind of ‘ok, what is this and is it an invention of the roller-coaster train that is wedding planning?’**. In other words, completely unnecessary?

Normally, I would agree. In the journey towards a wedding, one does discover an awful lot of superfluous rubbish… I’ve succumbed to a lot of it, but I will draw the line at cars, presents for bridesmaids, an engagement wedding photo shoot, DVDs, make-up trials, hair-do trials*** et al.

The ‘save the date’ cards are a wee bit of an indulgence though. I had a quick look through Pinterest recently on a ‘should I join this social media community, given that I photograph food I make a lot’ kind of way. There, I spotted a very cool save the date pic a couple had taken.

Once upon a time, I worked for a company whose motto was ‘never knowingly original’ – a fine, fine aspiration. For my own save the date cards, I’ll be adapting the idea I saw on Pinterest (and I’m going to use the cat, hoping those last few words have spiked your interest oh dear, lovely readers and compelled you to keep reading week on week as I promise to feature it here once I’ve created it).

To further justify my cards, my wedding is on a Thursday so I’m guessing that people need notice of the date to book time off work. At a push they could stumble into their offices the next day but I wouldn’t advise it…

 

*I promise I do not talk non-stop wedding while at work. I do realise it’s mind-blowingly dull for everyone else.

**I paraphrase, but I could sense this was what she meant.

***When I was 16, I went for a perm. On top of existing curly hair (the 80s perm industry had very powerful marketing). If there are trials of hair styles, that one was guilty, sentenced to life and no chance of parole.

The Accidental Abstainer

Have you ever given up something by accident?

I ask because when we set a date for getting married, fired up with joys of planning and list-writing, I included a note of everything I was going to give up to save money for the aforementioned nuptials.

They included (it was pretty ambitious, given my penchant for the frivolous): diet coke, women’s magazines, beauty treatments in salons, taxi journeys, new make-up or skincare before existing stuff ran out, clothes, shoes etc.

Needless to say, several weeks after the list was drawn up diet coke, new make-up, beauty treatments et al were still making their way into my shopping basket. The incentive just didn’t seem to be there.

However, about a month ago I discovered a new author I really like; a woman who has written a series of epic stories scanning continents and including fabulous characters, themes and wit. For a month or so I haven’t looked at women’s magazines and, when this registered consciously, it became a point of pride not to buy them any more. (The odd free edition of Stylist or buying Good Food magazine does not count).

So, thanks Diana Gabaldon – you may have inadvertently contributed to my wedding funds!

As I am a marketeer’s dream, being without women’s magazines has also affected my make-up and skincare buying habits. Without the constant bombardment of new product advertising and promotions through beauty pages, I’m no longer tempted by the latest snake oil trick promising all kinds of wrinkle reduction, complexion brightening and skin plumping.

In addition, reading novels tends not to leave you feeling as inadequate as magazines do (‘why oh why don’t I have that great job, those gorgeous clothes, that particular new form of exercise guaranteed to tone me up in half an hour’). And, er, why do I care so much for these things?!

Now, I just need to stumble on a few more accidental giving up tricks and watch those money-wasting habits disappear…

Bramble vodka and crumble – could we get more mellow fruitfulness…?

Favours update: this week we went brambling (see the pictures above). For those of you outside Scotland, this means gathering up free fruit courtesy of your nearby hedgerows, and specifically refers to blackberries. We’ve collected roughly 1.8kg in total, which have been mixed with 700g sugar and four bottles (4x75cl) of vodka – cheap and cheerful, no point wasting Grey Goose on this. I’ve sealed it up in Kilner jars and it’s now a waiting game; the end result (hopefully) a pretty potent fruit liquer to be divided up among small bottles and labelled for the wedding.

The Toast of the Town

I couldn’t have said it better myself…

The working week brought a tale of two different public speaking experiences. Firstly, I ran a training workshop. My audience was small and select – I felt confident, articulate and knowledgeable.

The following day, I attended a meeting. I didn’t agree with what one of the speakers was saying and raised my hand to clarify – at which point he invited me to come up to the mike. Argh, disagreeing with someone in public and then being asked to explain in front of roughly 100 people. Soothing it was not.

I’m talking about public speaking as I’d rather like to make a speech at my wedding. I plan light-hearted and hopefully witty words no longer than five minutes and possibly a multi-media presentation (!). I’ve been planning this speech for a while now and I’ve got a KILLER last line.

But should one voluntarily add the stress of public speaking to one’s wedding day, when there is a get out clause – I could follow tradition where the bride is supposedly the centre of attention, but remains oddly silent. Standing up to speak in front of a lot of people is a bit of a scary prospect. What if I muck up the jokes or I get heckled?!

If an approaching wedding adds incentive to all sorts of self-improvement plans (I will be thinner, more toned, clearer of skin, tighter of triceps, free of diet coke), then public speaking practice and confidence is possibly the most worthy of those goals. Not to mention the enhancement it gives my future career prospects…

And finally – I’ve been enjoying Nigella’s latest TV offering and today made her super-easy coffee ice-cream. I permitted myself a tiny lick of the bowl pre freezing and it’s FAB. I don’t even like coffee either.

 

For Want of Witty Wedding Words

Och, where’s the muse when you want her? She’s sadly not been at my beck and call the last week or so.

I kept trying to think up wedding-related topics and the wise, witty words that might accompany them. I came up with… a big, fat nothing. Woe! I also got caught up in a great book* and the priority of my free time was reading. The minutes left after that I felt I should devote to my fiancé to maintain harmonious domestic relations and ensure there WILL indeed be a wedding in May of next year.

The muse still isn’t in the nearby vicinity so I thought I’d post a rather prosaic progress update.

Venue: booked and non-refundable** deposit paid (New Lanark Mill Hotel).

Registrar: booked and non-refundable deposit paid.

Photographer: booked and non-refundable deposit paid (James Solly Photography).

Dress: no. Do I need to panic about this? I just tend to change my mind a lot and thought if I bought something too early, I’d see at least 10 better options after that.

Guest list: drawn up with my fiancé after we’d had a glass or two of wine (we were filled with bonhomie). Still needs finalised and er… possibly edited. Other names keep drifting in and out of my consciousness, accompanied by an internal shriek of alarm.

Invites: my talented brother-in-law (he created the lovely header above) is kindly doing these for me. I’m emailing them out to save money.

Wedding cake: I’m making this myself. The logistics of this exercise are beginning to bother me, though. How will I transport it, how will I decorate it, if I make it too far in advance will it go mouldy and give my guests food poisoning, when will I make it so that I’m not decorating the b*****y thing the night before I get married? Perhaps best to stick to the cheese cake idea (literally, a ‘cake’ made from rounds of cheese; the Atkins solution to wedding cake).

There is progress of sorts on other things – diet coke desertion. I used to drink two litres of the stuff every day. I stopped drinking it for just over two weeks, then caved and am now drinking one bottle a day. Oh, it’s such a lovely, lovely treat…

Reducing resting heart beat rate to 60 per minute (bid to do lots of cardio and be slimline bride). I just counted it; 72Bpm – after many spin classes and many circuit classes (and a few tears). A wee bit of work still needed on this then!

 

*Diana Gabaldon: The Voyager. I love it when you discover a writer you love and then find out that they are prolific.

**Something very, very scary about the words ‘non-refundable deposit’.