Friday, 31 August 2018

My wedding day highlights

Truth bomb... I didn't enjoy wedding planning in the slightest.

It was stressful, it was expensive, it was time consuming, and it often felt as if it wasn't worth all the stress just for one day.

However, even though there were times when I couldn't wait for the day to be over, the day itself was perfect. I managed to relax and to enjoy it, and all that meticulous planning and preparation meant that nothing went wrong on the day. 

As it was our fourth wedding anniversary yesterday and I've been looking through our lovely wedding photos, I thought it would be nice if I blogged about some of the things I particularly enjoyed on our wedding day. Some of them are pretty obvious highlights which I knew I'd enjoy, but others took me completely by surprise on the day.

1. Getting ready

I thought the morning of the wedding would be a massive stressfest and that everything would feel really rushed. And what on earth would I do if my wedding dress suddenly didn't fit any more?! Thankfully, it turned out to be a lovely morning with my mother and my bridesmaids. The lady who did my hair and make up was super friendly and put me at ease, and we were all ready and raring to go by the time the cars turned up to take us to the church. And, most importantly, my wedding dress fitted like a glove!

2. Walking down the aisle 

I was partly dreading this part in the run-up to the wedding just in case I tripped over my dress or bawled my eyes out, but I loved walking down the aisle with my dad and seeing all my friends and family waiting for us. Although a few tears did threaten to spill over when I saw everyone staring and grinning at me, I managed to hold it together and didn't end up with make up all over my face.

3. Car journey from the church to the reception 

This was one of the most relaxing parts of our wedding day, and probably the most Neil and I spoke to each other throughout the entire day. The formal part of the day was over, we had the rest of the day to look forward to, and we didn't have to worry about entertaining our guests for this brief period of time. So we sipped champagne, had a chat with the driver and generally just laughed a lot while we got chauffeured to our reception venue in style.

4. First look at our reception venue 

We held our wedding reception at the Copthorne Hotel and I'd put loads of thought in to the colour scheme, the centrepieces and the decorations. I was worried that it would look like a mishmash of slightly different shades of turquoise on the day or that the hotel wouldn't have followed my very precise instructions, but it all looked perfect and just how I wanted it. (It's worth noting that this particular shade of turquoise still gives me a little flutter of stress whenever I see it.)

5. Food! 

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that some of my highlights were obvious... this is one of those obvious ones. I was absolutely STARVING by the time we sat down for our wedding breakfast meal and I couldn't wait to tuck in to the food we'd chosen for the day. All three courses were really good and I also loved our wedding favours from Fabulous Welshcakes. We put on a buffet for our guests later on in the evening so we definitely didn't skimp on food for our big day. I'd been on a strict diet for months before the wedding so I wanted to make sure there was plenty of food available for me on the day!

6. Speeches 

If I'm being completely honest, I was mostly excited about the speeches because I could just sit back and enjoy them rather than having to take part. My dad's 'father of the bride' speech was amazing and lots of people have said it's the best wedding speech they've ever heard. Neil's speech and his best man's speech were also funny and very touching, and it was lovely to see everyone smiling and laughing at all the appropriate moments. I really wish they'd been recorded so that I could watch them back whenever I feel sad.

7. Dancing 

Neil and I were dreading our first dance. We're not really dancing people, and our choice of first dance music meant that people would be staring at us for the entirety of Tangled's 'I see the light'. True to form, we didn't really enjoy the first dance and were glad when it was over, but I really loved dancing more informally to our poptastic playlist later on in the evening. I lost count of how many times the DJ played McFly and S Club 7, and that's always a sign of a good night.

8. Breakfast the next morning 

I know this wasn't strictly part of our wedding day, but it was really nice to eat breakfast with our family and friends the morning after the wedding. It was a lovely way to wind down and to say thankyou and goodbye to everyone properly before they went their separate ways and got scattered across the UK. It was also nice to sit down for some food before starting the stressful job of packing away and transporting all our wedding paraphernalia!

I really can't believe four years have already gone by since our wedding day. I also can't believe this is the first time I've blogged about my wedding day highlights... better late than never. Look out for a post about our fourth wedding anniversary next week!

Friday, 24 August 2018

The joys (and frustrations) of eBay

I've been selling items on eBay on and off for the last 8 years. In the last year or so, I've properly got in to it and it's been my most productive year yet in terms of sales. I've also bought a few items from eBay for the first time ever, although I definitely do more selling than buying at the moment.

I thought I'd list some pros and cons of both selling and buying on eBay for my readers. I've also got some tips for those who are thinking about starting out, along with my personal buying and selling rules.

What's great about eBay?  

  • The eBay app is fantastic and makes listing and re-listing very simple. Gone are the days when I had to photograph all my items then laboriously sit and list every item on my laptop. The app is also great for buyers and easily lets you keep track of items you're watching and those you've placed bids on. 
  • My eBay obsession means that I'm regularly de-cluttering my wardrobe. I have a pretty strict 'one in, one out' policy when it comes to new clothes and bags, and selling items on eBay helps me to enforce that. 
  • The integration between eBay and PayPal is seamless, so you never have to worry about how buyers are going to pay you or how you're going to pay for items you've won. Once you've linked both accounts, all the work is done for you. 
  • Although eBay is generally known as the place to go for pre-owned bargains, you can also buy new items from well known brands at hugely discounted prices. For those of you who are nervous about buying used items, this can be a good place to start. 
  • The majority of sellers offer 'click and collect' as a delivery option which is very convenient when you can't get parcels delivered to work and don't want to keep knocking on your neighbours' doors when you get home. 
  • The most obvious benefit is the extra cash, which you can then use to buy the new things you've made room for! For example, a couple of months ago, I had a really good month on eBay so I bought myself a beautiful Kate Spade bag. It was guilt-free spending as it was bought entirely out of my eBay profits, and everyone knows that guilt-free spending is the best kind.

What makes me want to tear my hair out? 

  • Although the app is fantastic on the whole, it does have its drawbacks. There are some things you still have to do from the desktop site on your laptop such as checking your account balance so that you know how much your monthly eBay invoice is going to be, opening an unpaid item case, and reporting buyers. Hopefully one day it'll be a full-service app!
  • Time wasters who bid for your item then don't bother to pay for it are the bane of my life. And, most frustratingly of all, you can't give negative feedback to buyers so it feels as if they're never shown up for their actions. 
  • Between eBay and PayPal, fees for sellers are quite steep. eBay will charge a 10% final value fee for every item you sell, and PayPal will slap on 3.4% plus 20p on top of that. Don't forget that eBay will also take 10% of your postage charges, so make sure you allow for that so that you don't end up out of pocket. 
  • eBay can sometimes feel like a second job. Photographing your items, listing them, packing them up and taking them to the post office takes up a LOT of time, as well as making sure items are re-listed correctly if they don't sell.

Weighing up the pros and cons, I think eBay is definitely worth the effort in the long run. However, I have set myself some selling and buying rules to make sure I don't go overboard. Rules control the fun! 

  • I never ever sell items that were bought for me as a gift. I'd feel terrible if I made a profit from a gift that someone had put a lot of thought into, and it suddenly wouldn't feel like guilt-free spending any more.
  • I regularly review my eBay pile and move things to my charity shop bag if they've been listed for a few months and still haven't had any interest. This means I'm still contributing towards good causes as well as making some extra money for myself.  
  • Whenever I withdraw my 'winnings' from PayPal, I put the money into a separate account. This means I can keep track of what I've made on eBay and it doesn't get swallowed up in my regular account. When I want to make a big purchase specifically out of my eBay funds, I'll move the money back into my current account to cover it. 
  • I never buy anything from anyone who's got less than 100% feedback. This is probably a bit harsh, but I'd prefer to have as much confidence in the seller as possible.
  • I refuse to get drawn in to bidding wars which often end up with the buyer paying way more for an item than they initially planned. If I really want an item, I'll bid when the auction hasn't got long left and will set my maximum bid while I'm at it. My maximum bid will be the very top end of what I'm willing to pay for that particular item. If someone else beats my maximum bid before the action ends, I bow out. 

Do you agree with my pros and cons? Have you got any tips to share with me? Let me know!

Friday, 17 August 2018

Pink, grey and white with a touch of Disney

We started a colossal re-decorating project a few months ago which all started with us deciding we needed to spruce up our bedroom.

Our room is pretty small and we weren't making the best use of the space available to us. Also, some of our bedroom furniture was looking a bit worse for wear as we'd spent as little on it as possible when we moved in to the house four years ago. If anyone ever tells you that buying a house and planning a wedding at the same time is a great idea, please don't believe them for a second.

We decided a fitted wardrobe on one end of the room was the best way to maximise the space. Of course, if we wanted a fitted wardrobe, that would mean replacing the carpet as it was looking a bit worn. And if we were replacing the carpet in our room, it made sense to replace it everywhere else too. And everyone knows that you might as well re-paint all the walls before you get a new carpet fitted. Can you see why this suddenly became a much bigger project than 'we need to sort out our bedroom'?

Anyway, to cut a long and boring story short, we re-carpeted all the carpeted rooms in the house and painted all the walls. You can see the results from our guest room in one of my recent blog posts. Our bedroom was the most time-consuming room of all and was the last to get finished, but it's been well worth the wait.

We opted for two single fitted wardrobes with a dressing table and two top boxes. I've got my own fitted wardrobe in the opposite corner of the bedroom, so these wardrobes are for Neil's clothes. However, the dressing table area is definitely my domain! I bought a grey stool with in-built storage and a little white drawer unit to make the most of the space underneath, and I was all set. 

The dressing table itself took a little longer and a lot of re-arranging before I was completely satisfied with it. I'd had my white jewellery box for a few years and it was the perfect match, so that was always going to be my centrepiece. I fell in love with the baby pink vase in Next so that went straight in my shopping basket, as did the white flowers from Wilko. I bought the little white pots from Ikea for all my make up brushes and tubes, then Minnie Mouse and Marie were given the honour of sitting on the dressing table and looking pretty. I just needed a nice white mirror to finish it all off and found one in Argos for £7. Bargain! 

The walls and the carpet are slightly different shades of grey, so we went for a grey bed from Dreams to continue the theme. It's an ottoman type which means the bed frame can easily be lifted up with ample storage underneath. We chose baby pink accessories to complement the grey and the white, and it all works together really well. I also loved having the excuse to buy new colour-coordinated bedding to go with the theme! I haven't photographed the bed in its entirety as I can never manage to make the bedding look all tidy and crease-free, but it's a big improvement on what we had before and looks so cosy. 

We put a floating shelf above the bed to house some of my many Disney teddies and Disney Traditions figurines, and my Dumbo print from Florida has been put up in pride of place. All the teddies on the shelf are pink, grey and white... I feel as if I've spent a LOT of time contemplating which Disney teddies fit in with various colour schemes over the last few weeks. 

No room is complete without some nice meaningful photos, so I wanted to make sure we had plenty of nice photographs in our room. We've got 7 small white and grey photo frames along our windowsill which are filled with a mix of Disney postcards and photos, and I also bought this larger white frame to hold some of our holiday memories. Jessie also has a whole row to herself which is just the way it should be. 

So, after a few months of hard work, I think we've finally finished re-decorating and re-arranging our entire house. What do you think of our pink, grey and white bedroom? Do you think there are enough Disney touches or should I try to sneak some more in...? 

Friday, 10 August 2018

Breakfast review: Bill's

Going for breakfast at Bill's has become a little bit of an obsession for us over the last few months.

I've visited Bill's loads of times for lunch and dinner, but we'd never got around to going there for breakfast until the end of May. We were missing our American breakfasts after coming home from Florida with a particular craving for pancakes, and we'd heard that Bill's was a pretty good substitute.

There's a Bill's in Cardiff city centre and in Cardiff Bay, and I've been to both restaurants several times over the last few years. However, when we go to Bill's as a couple, we always go to the one in Cardiff Bay as it's more convenient for us and is set in beautiful surroundings, especially on a sunny day.

On our first visit to Bill's back in May, I ordered the banana, strawberry and blueberry pancakes. You can choose between a 3 stack or a 5 stack, so I opted for the 3 stack to be on the safe side. I've got a hefty appetite but, for some reason, I REALLY struggle to finish all my food when it comes to American pancakes. 

I think you'll agree that this is a very instagrammable breakfast. The pancakes come with a decent helping of Bill's 'pancake syrup', which is basically their own branded maple syrup. The fruit adds the sweetness that's needed to break up the texture of the pancakes, and the whole dish just works perfectly. These pancakes are slightly thinner than their American counterparts which means they're more manageable for me, and I can comfortably clear my plate as long as I order a 3 stack. 

On our second visit to Bill's for breakfast in June, I chose the smoked streaky bacon pancakes. I think I marginally prefer the fruity variety, but that bacon really was cooked to perfection. My only slight issue with the bacon pancakes is that they come with a big dollop of very rich butter as well as the pancake syrup, and this meant the meal felt a little too rich for me towards the end. 

Bill's has plenty of options for breakfast if you don't fancy pancakes, but I don't think I'll ever be able to order anything else just in case I'm disappointed! There are also plenty of beverages on offer including tea, coffee, orange juice and a very tasty apple, carrot and ginger juice. 

Our breakfast usually comes to around £22, and Bill's will also add an optional 10% service charge to your bill. I think this is pretty reasonable for a good quality breakfast, and it's always a lovely experience with great service. We definitely need to plan our next visit soon. 

Have you been to Bill's for breakfast recently? What did you think? 

Friday, 3 August 2018

It's all yellow

Wearing yellow used to be a big no-no for me.

I used to think I could never wear yellow because it clashed spectacularly with my hair. I also happened to be in the yellow team in both primary and secondary school, so anything remotely yellow always reminded me of dreaded sports days. I've always been terrible at any kind of competitive sporting activity so sports day was consistently my least favourite day of the year.

It's not difficult to see why I didn't used to be a yellow fan... 

Fast forward a few years and I've suddenly become a big fan of all things yellow. I stopped caring about things clashing with my hair a long time ago, and yellow is such a lovely sunny colour which always cheers me up. In the past I would have hastily scrolled past any yellow items while browsing my favourite websites, but now I've actively started seeking them out. 

My very yellow dress and shoes for this year's birthday meal

This yellow dress and matching flip flops were perfect for our
holiday to Walt Disney World earlier this year.


I even chose a yellow MagicBand for this year's holiday! 

I couldn't resist buying this denim jacket from New Look, and these shorts from ASOS were an excellent find just before our holiday. 

I bought the dress on the left with this year's birthday money and the one in the middle with last year's birthday money, both from ASOS. The playsuit on the right was a bargain a couple of weeks ago from New Look. 

My rapidly growing yellow obsession hasn't stopped with my clothing. We've been redecorating the house over the last few months which has resulted in a major overhaul for several rooms, and the guest bedroom has ended up with a yellow and grey theme. It's beautifully bright and sunshiny and I love it!  

I've obviously got a selection of Disney teddies for every colour coordination under the sun. 

My Winnie the Pooh shelf looks perfect on our yellow wall. 

Any other yellow fans out there? Please send me your recommendations!