Friday, March 22, 2013

Inside The Wardrobe - Spring Is Here, Kind Of

For the first time (minus when I had that little 5 month adventure on the cruise ship...) in my life I'm not in Florida for Spring. Not like Florida gets seasons anyway, but at least I could always count on the sun shining and Target having new bathing suits and sandals for the first day of Spring.

Which makes me think.

The first day of spring really isn't the first spring day for most places, is it? I mean, I wouldn't go outside today in a strapless floral dress today. But hey, I can dream, right?

So this is more inspiration for the first spring day. Floral dress. Aviator sunglasses (which I normally live in when the sun... you know... comes out to play... a rarity in England). Simple crochet flats.

Can't wait for the first spring day!

Springtime. Has it made an appearance where you live?? What are your essential items for springtime?

(Link up with My Friday's Fancies)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tips For The Expat Job Hunter

I recently told you guys a bit about my job hunt, right? I honestly couldn't have done it without loads of patience, preparation, and making the best of my American experiences in a foreign country.

Every interview I had always brought up the fact that I had never worked in the UK before. Well, you gotta start somewhere, right?!

If you're on the hunt for employment in a foreign country (and have the legal right to... duh), here are 5 tips to help you out!

1. Register with a job agency - I started off doing a lot of applying online and a few people suggested I submit my CV on job sites. However, I also had a lot of luck with a local job agency! They find jobs that aren't necessarily listed online at all and can give you some great pointers about the interview process or your CV. But definitely do your research! Don't just register with anyone. Find an agency that's right for you that works with the types of jobs you are seeking. Obviously, make sure you have your legal right to work in your new country first.

2. Turn your resume into a CV - Did you see the post I did for the Expat Hub? If not, check it out! It's all about how I turned my American resume into a CV! I definitely recommend doing this if you plan on submitting anything to potential employers. It just shows that you took a bit of initiative to do the UK norm.   

3. Get e-mail references - Probably the best bit of advice. If you do anything, seriously, do this. Before my working visa was even approved, I was nervous that no one would hire me because I only had international references. A friend of mine recommended I get a hold of some former bosses, managers, and/or colleagues and have them email me professional references (and include their email address in it). I printed them out and was able to give them to my interviewer. Whether or not they checked the reference (by emailing them), I have no idea. But again, showing a little initiative never hurts!

4. Practise writing/typing with the native spelling (even if it's not your favourite thing to do) - Do as I say, not as I do! I'm not very good at typing in British English. Then again, I don't try very hard to catch myself doing it either. Oops... Someone get on my case please. No but seriously, make sure you practise typing the way your employer would want you to. Sending important emails are going to be no fun if you can't spell correctly!

5. Prepare for harsher questions about your skills - That sounds mean. I'm sorry. But it's what I experienced during a lot of my interviews over here. It's not like they're being discriminatory; it's more like they're trying to find a weakness like they would with anyone they were interviewing. I got questions like, "How do we know you want this job and aren't just looking for any job to be your 'first UK job'?" or "Do you feel your communication skills are strong enough for this position?" Just have confidence and think ahead in case anything like this comes up.

And then..... When you finally do get a job.... Sorry.

First world problems....

Do you have any tips for expats job hunting in their new home?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Wrap Up & Run 10K Race Recap

I honestly wasn't even going to do this race. I was going to concentrate on PRing in the Eastleigh 10K (which is next weekend) because literally 100 people from my running club are doing it and didn't know if I'd be up for racing 2 weekends in a row.

But oops! I found myself signing up for it because it was super close to my house and I felt like I should take advantage of that. I mean, America finds a race for everything. I kinda miss that.

I wore green even though it wasn't St. Paddy's Day themed! Oh well! #TeamSparkle

The course was about 2.5 laps of the park that I know like the back of my hand. This kind of worked to both my advantage and disadvantage.

My slowest points were definitely when I thought "Ugh crap... I still have to run this exact spot 2 more times..."

And then to top it off, they had signs for every kilometer. So as we passed the 1K marker, we passed the 5K marker about 4 seconds later. That was a bit soul crushing. Stupid laps.

Oh and did I mention it rained poured the entire time?? I know, I'm really painting a fantastic picture of how lovely this race was.... But it down-poured. And it was kind of nice for like a minute. And then rain got in my eyes and my contacts starting cursing at me and that sucked.

Other than that, it was a great race! It wasn't very big, therefore, no big crowds or need for weaving.

Thumbs-upping to Alex, who was a lovely sport and stood in the rain! It looks like I'm going super fast because I'm a blur in the picture. In reality I'm probably like "It's raining, it's cold, and we're at .3 miles right now...."

My last 10K was back in December 2011. So going into this race on Sunday, I knew I had a PR in me somewhere.

I had no idea I had a 10 minute PR in me, though! My official time was 1:03:38!

I stayed pretty positive throughout the race. Even though I didn't train much (read: AT ALL) for this race, I knew how far I had come and felt proud to be a runner.

The worst parts, like I said before, were the parts when I realized how much was left simply by knowing how many laps we had completed. Those were my 2 mental blocks. Anything in between was more like "Yay! Running! This is fun! I'm flying!" 

I sprinted through the finish and was beaming when I looked down at my Garmin and saw 1 hour and 3 minutes staring back at me. It was a good feeling.

What wasn't a good feeling was walking through the mud as shooting pains were going through my knee. Ouch, that was no fun....

But then we went home and made green drinks in honor of St. Patrick's Day.  

Green cider... Why the hell not!

In my lovely college town, they always had green beer for the weekend. But I hate beer. So I never really celebrated St. Patrick's Day. So when Alex said the pubs were making green beer/cider for the first time (that he'd seen), I knew I had to celebrate my PR in style!

Hope you had loads to celebrate this weekend! Do anything fun for St. Patrick's Day?? Race? PR? Pretend to be Irish?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Guest Post - Spring Has Almost Sprung

(Hi friends! Today's post is brought to you by the Expat Hub, which is a Taylor approved expat site full of guides and articles! I'm super excited for them to be talking about spring time! Minus the fact that it's been so cold here lately... Seriously, it was colder here than it was in Wisconsin! Regardless, Spring is going happen sooner or later, so let's talk about it!)

Spring has almost sprung; it’s time for festivals and celebrations

With spring literally being just around the corner many towns and villages are preparing to celebrate the end of the winter and the beginning of a hopefully hot spring. The UK is an extremely old nation and as such some of the traditions we are about to list have been held on a yearly basis for hundreds and hundreds of years, Some even date back all the way before the Norman invasions in 1066! Here are just a few of the most fun and well known.

Flora Day (Helston, Cornwall held on May 8th) 

Every year on the 8th of May (unless the 8th is a Sunday) the town of Helston located on the Lizard peninsula of Cornwall welcomes huge crowds of visitors to watch the ancient Furry dance. The town is covered in bluebells as up to 1,000 dancers make their way through the colourfully decorated streets.

The day sees four dances with the most famous being the children’s dance and the adult’s mid-day dance. The men are decked out in top hats and tails. The women wear their best frocks. The band plays as the dancers weave their way through the offices and on up the main street. No one's quite sure anymore how it all began, but local legend says that it is a celebration of St Michael’s victory over the Devil. The town of Helston itself is named after the giant rock the Devil threw at the archangel in battle. Where the rock landed became Helston or ‘Hells stone’.

The Furry dance is believed to be one of the oldest British customs still being practised today possibly making it over a thousand years old! 

Cheese Rolling (Stilton, Cambridgeshire held on the first Monday in May)

The Stilton Cheese Rolling Festival is one of the year's highlights in the small Cambridgeshire town of Stilton. Participants compete in rolling large rounded blocks of wood along the high street for a prize of cheese and bottles of port. Many of the teams compete in fancy dress and although the sport has become better-behaved in recent years, you will still see a fair wince inducing tumbles and falls. It's a knockout competition with quarters, semis and a grand final, so you're in for a full day's entertainment.

Sweeps Festival (Rochester, Kent held on the 4th, 5th, and 6th of May)

The town of Rochester celebrates and commemorates the chimney sweeper. In the days of the industrial revolution men and boys would do the messy job of cleaning and unblocking the chimneys of the coal burning houses and factories.

The annual festival recreates the joy and laughter enjoyed by the chimney sweeps as they celebrated the only day of the year they could take a day off. The modern festival is a mix of music, dancing and entertainment and sees up to 60 groups of Morris dancers and other entertainers celebrate throughout the three days of the festival.

Obby Oss (Padstow, Cornwall held on the 1st of May)

The first day of May In the small town of Padstow is Obby Oss day. The origins of this ancient tradition are lost in the midst of time but it is thought to be some form of ancient fertility festival. the town is dressed with greenery, flowers and flags, with the focus being a maypole. The climax arrives when two groups of dancers progress through the town, one of each team wearing a stylised recreation of a 'horse.' The two 'osses are known as the "Old" and the "Blue Ribbon" 'osses.

All of the Padstow born folk traditionally dress in white with their family loyalties dictating whether they follow the Red Old Oss or the Blue Oss.

Cotswold Olimpick Games (Gloucestershire held at the end of May)

400 years ago in the Cotswolds lived Robert Dover, a man who was fascinated by the tales of the ancient Greek Olympic Games. His love of those games inspired him to begin the Cotswold Olimpicks, an event that has been held every year since. Events include wrestling, jumping, sack races, dancing and the infamous shin kicking contest (yes it really is as painful as that sounds!). Before the days of health and safety competitors from rival villages would meet with iron tipped boots or coal hammers acting as shin guards, back in the day many a leg was broken.  Thankfully today’s event is a lot less brutal. The games also see plenty of music and other activities.

This guest blog was provided by The Expat Hub, a top online stop for expatriate advice, support and information.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Inside The Wardrobe - Lucky Green

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone! Well, for Sunday at least. Green is my fave color in case you didn't know. So wearing green is never a faux pas in my wardrobe!

I'm actually doing a 10K on Sunday. And unfortunately I won't be running it in this lovely get up. If I could, I would!

Of course I went for green and gold! I feel those are very St. Patrick's Day appropriate. Green like leprechauns. Pots of gold. Yes, I think this is very fitting.

And random owl bracelet. Well to be honest, not that random for me. I've accumulated so much owl jewelry over the years (when I was packing to move to England I think I counted at least 15 owl necklaces alone...) that it's probably a rare occasion if I don't have an owl on. Not that I think owls are particularly lucky, but if I'm dressing for luck it will probably include an owl. Just sayin'!

What do you wear for luck?? What are you sporting this year for St. Patty's Day??

(Link up with My Friday's Fancies)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Paris For A Day

Ah, Paris! The city of STAIRS. No, not lights, stairs. Stairs everywhere!

Anyway, I went to Paris about 2 days before the wedding. It was a day trip, which was ridiculously tiring. (Leaving for London at about 3 AM, 5:40 Eurostar, rush around the city, late night Eurostar back to London, late night coach back home. Home by Midnight. No big deal!)

It was my second time to Paris, so touring the city was in the hands of my sister who had never been.

Of course, I took a few photos! (With my crap underwater camera... Do I mention that enough? Sorry!)

Happy 850th birthday, Notre Dame! Looking good!

Recognize this bad boy? I was excited that my sister wanted to go all the way to the top! I learned from my last visit to Paris to prep my hair with a braid and a hat.....

Bad hair day circa December 2009.

It was windy (and cold) to say the least! But the view is nice...

We took a short break from culture and went shopping. We hit up the important stores, you know, like the French Disney Store. But not without getting a photo of the Arc de Triomphe first!

The last thing we saw was Sacre Coeur. I was excited to see this because it was the one thing I hadn't visited before!

It was a nightmare and a half getting there though! We took a taxi (mistake) and got stuck in traffic. Our taxi driver was nice, but insane. He just kept pointing at different roads, speaking French (as they do in France), and then exclaiming "Sacre Coeur!". Between mine and my sister's French speaking skills (she took it throughout high school and I can say "Je m'appelle Taylor" and count to 15) we thought he was saying that we'd be there in 14 minutes.

47 minutes later, we finally arrived.

The view was also nice there, too!

We couldn't spend much time there, to be honest. The traffic really screwed everything up and we had to soon check in for our train back to London.

But it was a fun little adventure! (And to be honest, I was SO HAPPY to be back in London... Nothing compares to London.)

Have you ever been to Paris? / Is Paris a place you want to visit?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Work It

We all know I haven't worked since I moved to England.

And that's been hard.

I mean, not like what I've done before was particularly strenuous...

You know, working hard with Stitch...

Most of jobs have been exactly that... Jobs. Not careers.

I do have the face of a professional summer camp counselor

But I have to admit.... The most strenuous part of my life was when I didn't have a job. I've had a job since I was 16. I thought I was going to go nuts!

Whether you choose to be unemployed or you are actively seeking new opportunities, the days can be long and tedious. It can take a toll on your mentality.

In my case, I couldn't work. Under the terms of my visa I couldn't work or even volunteer (thanks UK Border Agency).

When I was finally able to work, it was irritating not getting any calls. Okay, I will admit I am very impatient, especially when it comes to my goals and the time frame when I want them to happen. (I only got approval to work in the UK on the 12th of Feb)

I will say I have been incredibly lucky.

I applied to 10 different jobs. I got 4 interviews, and got offered all 4 jobs. 

Most recently (aka last Wednesday) I got offered the best out of the 4; I considered that one the "stretch". I had my hopes set on it because it was the best hours and pay, but knew there were probably more qualified people going for it as well.

I won't go into detail just because it's new and I'd like to keep at least this one thing private in my life (which admittedly is hard when my entire life is all over the internet).

But I will say that I stayed very proactive during my months of unemployment. In my case, I knew a time frame for when I could work, so a lot of what I did reflected that. 

I'm not a job expert, and I am not claiming to be.

But I do know what helped me stay sane during my days of job hunting and staring at a computer screen. 

Here are my 5 tips for staying proactive during a period of unemployment:

1. Make sure your resume/CV is perfect - That sounds like a given, but you'd be surprised. Checking it every other day for little errors or out of date information can be a lifesaver. That way, when you start applying for jobs you don't have to waste time fixing or changing it. (Prime example, in my CV I have a Personal Interests section that said "I'm currently training for my first half marathon" when I had already done the half! Oops!)

Shameless half marathon pic right there. So in the zone (and looking like I'm catching flies with my mouth!)

2. Make daily lists - Even if they are stupid lists, make them! So many times I just put thoughts in the back of my head saying I'd do them and then they'd get put off for days. Even if the list is "run, remove nail polish, clean sink, organize closet." Write it down (no matter how insignificant the task is) and cross things off your list!

3. Make a cover letter template - In my experience, most cover letters are incredibly similar. Make a generic one that encompasses you and your experience and how that translates to wanting to work for _______. Now when you apply to different jobs, you won't have to write a million cover letters. Just make sure you still proof read before submitting it to a potential employer. Nothing is worse than having the wrong company name in your cover letter!

4. Do things you love - Sometimes, it's hard to want to get up and put on socially acceptable clothing for a day that you have nothing planned for. But maintaining your hobbies definitely helps. For me, it was running! I trained for a half marathon during my months of unemployment. It was a good routine to get into when I had, well absolutely no routine whatsoever! 

5. Still keep a current calender or agenda - I know the last thing you want to do is open up your daily or monthly agenda and be like "oh look at all this nothing I have to do!" But keep it up to date with events or plans you make ahead of time. When you do start getting interviews, you'll be happy you did! You might forget about that wedding next month or how you promised your cousin you'd help them move.

Like I said, there may be many reasons why you are unemployed.

The economy still isn't great. More and more people aren't finding the right fit at their current job. You can't find something that utilized your degree.

But if you're trying your luck at the job hunting game, these 5 things really can help you stay sane and positive about the outcome!  

Have you had a period in your life where you couldn't work or couldn't find work? What tips would you give someone to stay proactive during a time of unemployment??

Friday, March 8, 2013

Inside The Wardrobe - Embrace The Lace

I have been SO out of the loop with "My Friday's Fancies". Holy cow. It has been weeks. It's normally one of my favourite posts of the week! But with the wedding, the half marathon, the fever (read: the Hiatus), and Wedding Week on the blog, I haven't had the time!

So if you're new around here (or just forgotten), I do a British version of Friday's Fancies called "Inside the Wardrobe". My only rule is that the clothes/shoes/accessories HAVE to be from UK stores. No American stores allowed! #ExpatProblems

This week is all about lace!

Personally, I tend to stay away from lacey items. They look gorgeous and girly, but my brain just goes "Crap, you have to hand wash this?! Well that's not happening..."

As I get older, I should just embrace (the lace... had to do it!) the fact that clothing items need tending to and I should be a big girl about it.

Anyway, that being said........

When I saw the dress, it immediately reminded of Blair Waldorf circa Season 1 (whenever that was. I was in high school. And the CW had a writers strike somewhere in the middle.) I definitely channeled her while creating the outfit... Minus the big headband!

I like reserved look of the dress. I mean, I'm usually all about the V-necks! But I recently bought a Peter-Pan collared dress that was a bit covered up at the top and realised I can broaden my horizons.

And I'm in love with the necklace! (I actually have it!) The chain changes lengths; it goes well with everything!! 

Let's talk lace: How do you pull off the look? Make it girly? Edgy? What do you think?

(Link up with My Friday's Fancies)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

WTF Wednesday - British Edition

I love the idea of WTF Wednesday posts. They always put a smile on my face!

So here's one of my own! Not a weekly WTF segment... Just some things that I found that entitled a reaction of WTF... In England!

I was walking around Tesco with no intentions of finding anything weird (except the occasional horse meat product... yes, obligatory horse meat joke...) when I happened to find 3 things that caught my eye.


Llamas?! Different flavor llama crackers. And appropriately dressed llamas for each flavor. Well actually, I don't know what a yellow scarf has to do with cheese. But I won't question your choice of outfit Mr. Cheese Llama. (Are these llamas made of horse meat? Kidding... I know, overused horse meat joke....)


These are GOLDFISH! The fact that they're calling them Finz here is just hilarious! (Well, I'm probably the only one who finds it hilarious.) How did I go nearly 4 years without seeing these?!


Five quid for Lucky Charms, anyone?? That doesn't seem over priced at all, does it?! (Sarcasm) I am now typing into Google "5 GBP to USD" and that box of cereal is a whopping $7.51!! They're magically delicious exorbitant! 

Do you have anything you want to add to WTF Wednesday - British Edition today??

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Walk Down Memory Lane

I've loved to write throughout my whole life without even knowing it. I've kept many journals, notebooks, "e-journals" throughout my whole life.

To be honest, I didn't have anything useful to say in these journals when I was 8 years old. Except maybe "Today I ate some gummy worms. We learned long division in school and I stink at it. I'm going to marry every member of Nsync."

(Clearly I was one of the coolest kids around.)

And then, my high school Live Journal account was my place to unleash my inner nerd. I was all like, "zomg I luvvv marching band, ATL bandos whatsuppppp! LAWL 97 on my chemistry test today, hollerrrrrrrrrrr! Colorguard rox my sox off!!!"

(Again, I was so cool.)

But when you feel obligated to write, like for school or in a daily eventful journal, it loses it's fun sometimes. I have so many notebooks that go from "really really detailed entry about my day" to "here's some poetic song lyrics because I don't feel like writing about my day" that happens in about a months time. 

So when I saw this from College Prepster, I was intrigued to say the least. I had no idea what a "One Line A Day" journal was. Or if you even can get one in England.

You can. And I'm obsessed.

It's one of those things where I was kicking myself for not finding out about it sooner! I mean, five years ago, in March 2008, I was 17 years old and a couple months away from graduating high school. Imagine being able to look in a book or online journal (I checked my old LJ account... no entires for the entire month of March unfortunately) and see what you were doing on that exact day for the past 5 years!

I'll show you a bit of how it works, because I was confused when I first read up on these.....

I just picked random blank pages to show you... My birthday!

There is a page for every single day of the year (including leap year, how ambitious of them!) with 5 different 20__ spaces for you to fill in the year for the next 5 years. There's a few lines for you to write a brief entry about your day next. If you maintain it, you'll be using the same journal for 5 years and get to see what you did exactly on each day!

This is perfect for someone like me who tends to half-ass journals or diaries after a few days/weeks/months.

And like I said, I almost wish I had found it sooner! It would have been amazing to have this while I was newly engaged or planning the wedding. It's still a great time for me to start this, being a "newly-wed" and all!

So far, it's been really easy to keep up with! I've had it for a couple of weeks now. I don't feel dread when I remember to write in it (you know, feeling like you have to write an entry but don't feel like it) or feel any obligation to maintain it. It has just become part of my nightly ritual. Those few lines fill up fast, too! (The diary itself is small... About the length of my hand.... Think of like, the size of a hotel drawer bible or something!) Writing only takes two-minutes TOPS at the end of the day.  

Of course, I had to share it with fellow bloggers! Obviously we like things like journaling, recapping our day, and quirky little things like this!

(Note: Not a sponsored post. I purchased with my own money and am simply sharing because it's something I think you'd like!)

Are you the journal/diary type? Do you keep up with them despite a busy schedule? Is the "One Line A Day" Diary something that sparks your interest?? Does the feeling of a 5 year memory book sound daunting to you??

Monday, March 4, 2013

Letting A 22 Year Old Loose Around Hogwarts

I told you last week that I went to the Making of Harry Potter Warner Brother's Studio Tour.

Mind = blown.

It's much different than anything I had ever seen before, and blew my expectations out of the water.

Everything is there. Every inch of the tour is covered in props, costumes, sets, secret hidden snitches, etc. I probably missed a lot of stuff, but also found a lot of stuff too (like the sword of Gryffindor is up on a shelf in Dumbledore's Office... It's so discrete and hidden up there!) 

I took about um-teen thousand pictures that day, but I'm just going to show you a bit of my favorites!

(And if you know me at all, you know that I don't even have to add the "paid for this tour on my own", "am not being sponsored for this", "all opinions are my own". Seriously, I'm a Harry Potter fanatic. It's been my life since I was 11. And all of the above quotes are true anyway.)

(Oh and side note, I say this every time there is a photo-heavy post... My camera is crap. It takes pictures underwater but no part of this tour was underwater so.... Sorry!)

The Great Hall. The real set. A-freakin-mazing! So many costumes, including the Hogwarts robes through the years of filming!

Gryffindor Common Room with costumes from the 3rd film. Filled with props and random trinkets. Literally could have looked in there for hours. (By the way, did you know that the character Dean Thomas is a West Ham fan?! The things you learn in the studio tour....)

Dumbledore's Office with everything in it, including the Pensieve and the Phoenix entryway. These are the robes from Richard Harris, the actor who played Dumbledore in the first two films. The robes of Michael Gambon (Dumbledore in the rest of the films) are in the Great Hall.

I've always had a soft spot for the Goblet of Fire book and movie. It's my favorite book in the series and I think I've read it the most times out of all of them! This is the Triwizard Cup and the egg clue from the movie. I freaked out when I saw them!

And look! The top of the egg clue is an owl!! I read the little paragraph on the side of the display where it mentioned the owl opener at the top. Of course I had to get a pic!

Snape in his potion's classroom. I always had faith in Snape throughout the books. I knew he had to be good somehow... Fun fact, I wrote a letter to Alan Rickman (the actor who played Snape) and he sent me his autograph! I was fangirling for years....

The Knight Bus!! The inside was seriously impressive considering it's just a bus! (P.S. it always bugged me that in the movie, Harry didn't tell Stan his name was "Neville Longbottom" on the bus.... In the book he does...)

Privet Drive. The first ever thing you see in the HP films is Privet Drive. It brought me back to being an 11 year old and loving the first film. Fun fact, I've watched the Sorcerer's Stone so many times, I know every single word without the movie even being on... I can start reciting it right now if I wanted to! ("I should have known that you would be here... Professor McGonagall....")

Diagon Alley was probably my favorite set to visit on the tour. It's probably one of my favorite sets in the film anyway! They had every shop from the film and even from the book that you probably never see or hear of in the films.

Ollivanders! The wand shop!

This was seriously impressive. It a model of Hogwarts! But they explain how in the movie, any shots where they go over top of Hogwarts or show it not close up, they've filmed this model. You'd think it was all computers in the movie, but it's not! It's crazy! They have little TVs showing you different parts of the film and how they used this model to film it.

Oh and yes, I'm on the Gryffindor Quidditch Team now. Duh. (When I was younger I actually thought about what position I'd play, and I'd definitely be a Chaser!) This was not only a photo opportunity, but a video opportunity as well! They had you soaring around in the TV screen through London, over lakes, around Hogwarts; it was AMAZING!

And if you didn't already know what a big nerd I am, well now you do! 

Seriously, I've been to the Island's of Adventure Harry Potter theme park, and this was a million, no, trillion times better. I also went with people who weren't particularly fans of Harry Potter, and they loved it! The tour takes about 3 hours, but it doesn't feel boring or time consuming at all! And in the middle, they have Butterbeer! Which also tasted better than the Butterbeer in the theme park to be honest! I had a blast to say the least!

What do you think? Would you spend a few hours here in HP world??

Friday, March 1, 2013

My Wedding Day

Day 5 is everything about my wedding day, which was the 8th of February 2013.

For the last day of Wedding Week, I thought I'd do a Wedding Day Recap. I've read race recaps out the kazoo (and re-read the good ones) but I've never really seen a Wedding Day Recap.

So here we go. Everything you wanted to know (and probably loads of random stuff, too) about the day I married that lovely man with an accent.

(I won't go through all the random getting ready stuff.... But anything amusing or funny that happened I'll tell you!)

I woke up super early that morning. I didn't even set an alarm, but it was clear no one else was awake. (By the way, me and my entire family were staying at Alex's parent's Bed & Breakfast. So when I say no one was awake, I seriously mean no one out of the 15+ people at the house were awake. And Alex was staying there, too, but in a separate room so we wouldn't see each other. He was leaving early to get ready anyway.)

There was a feeling in my stomach that I immediately thought was nerves. I thought, "Oh, I'm finally getting nervous! It's my wedding day!!"

The more I sat there thinking about it, the more I figured out I wasn't nervous..... I was hungry. (Is that normal??) I couldn't leave to get food though because Alex hadn't left! It was agreed the night before that I would stay inside my room until he left.

(He finally left and I ate breakfast in case anyone was worried.)

We'll fast forward to the actual wedding now...

Part of the "Civil Ceremony" process is meeting individually with the registrars to talk about the ceremony and go over the scripts. While talking with them, they said they've never met someone so calm before. I said "I feel like I should be nervous! But I'm not!!" They were shocked.

We were getting married upstairs at the venue, so I would have to walk up the stairs and wait on the landing until they were ready to play my music.

The assistant registrar looked at the time and said "Oh you have a few minutes to wait so just relax."

Not even 10 seconds later (not an exaggeration!), my music starts playing. She gestures for me to finish walking up the stairs and I'm like "I THOUGHT YOU SAID I HAD A FEW MINUTES!!!!!!!!"


I immediately burst into tears. Full on ugly crying.

(By the way I picked "Waiting for the lights" [an instrumental piece] from the Disney movie Tangled. Don't judge. It was perfect.)

I walked down the aisle with my dad and my uncle on either side of me. I know that's not customary (trust me, it caused lots of drama, so you don't have to tell me twice!) but it's what I wanted. I didn't care what everyone thought. It was my wedding! If I said I wanted to walk down with 2 penguins by my side, I would have wanted support! 

Anyway, my dad and my uncle had to drag me down the aisle. I kept stopping because I didn't want there to be pictures of me bawling my eyes out. And they both said "you're not going to stop crying, so just keep going." They were right.

I didn't even see anything. I didn't see any guests or where we were. I didn't even hear any music. I saw Alex. And he was laughing at my ugly crying face. I didn't even see what he was wearing. He could have worn a banana costume and I wouldn't have noticed. I was too busy mentally telling him "I know I look a hot mess. Don't judge me. Don't laugh because it's making me laugh. Oh and btw I love you."

I'm crying and smiling. I know, it's not a good look for me.

What you need to know about me is that when I cry in front of people, I laugh. I get really uncomfortable and just start laughing. It's very strange. But it made all of our guests laugh because I couldn't stop laughing and crying at the same time.

The registrar had a hard time keeping the guests quiet because they were laughing (in a good way!) at me laughing and crying. She said "I can tell this is going to be a funny one!" 

When it was my turn to speak (the vows) I was fine, because I was concentrating so hard on remembering what she said and what I had to repeat. When Alex spoke, that's when I lost it. Because I had nothing to concentrate on. I had time to remember "OMG I'm getting married!" 

Sneezing? No, just laughing and crying!

I'm really happy that our guests and registrar were so patient. I was afraid all my blubbering would annoy them, but they understood my very strange ways.

Part of a civil ceremony is signing the paperwork in front of everyone (and having the witnesses sign). Guests weren't allowed any pictures during the real signing, but they brought a fake book for us to sit at and pretend we're signing. I found that hilarious. Like, "we're signing stuff! How romantic!"

Alex isn't really signing.... He's a good actor though!

Finally, we were husband and wife!

And could eat our amazing cupcakes!!!

Everyone came up to us downstairs and said that the ceremony was exactly like our personalities. I was slightly embarrassed over my ugly crying, but everyone said that if the wedding didn't go like that, it wouldn't have been our wedding! 

We had our wedding meal (which was a roast dinner) and I wore about 7 napkins on top of me so I wouldn't spill anything on my white dress.... It worked though!

After that, it was time to party!

I was so excited for all of our other guests to arrive. I was on such a high from the day that I couldn't wait to share it with everyone!

(Little did I know how much my cheeks would hurt after smiling so much!)

We were taking loads of group pictures with family and friends. Alex wanted a "Stag Do" (Bachelor Party) picture with all his friends that went with him. They got their shot and then wanted one with me in the picture. They said they'd pick me up and lay me across everyone's arms.

So on the count of 3 they started to pick me up. Well, I think only about half the guys were paying attention, because my legs and torso went up up up.... and my shoulders and head plummeted to the ground! Imagine my surprise! I'm getting dropped on my head at my own wedding!

Luckily, my head never reached the ground. I was too busy holding up my strapless dress to notice. Unfortunately, there are no pictures of the event (that I know of! Some lazy person might upload one to Facebook soon. I will keep you posted!).

This was the Plan B picture for when the first one didn't work out.

We had a blast regardless. And then there was cake in my face.


Purely an American tradition, didn't you get the memo, Alex?!

And then we danced!

(All of these pictures look like I'm a pro at making ridiculous faces. I promise I'm normal sometimes!)

I tell Alex all the time that he is a terrible dancer. He IS a terrible dancer! I didn't think it was possible to be that bad. When we practiced our first dance, he was bad. Then when it came for our real first dance, I was a train wreck! You'd think someone sewed my feet on backwards. I blame it on the fact that I couldn't pirouette or leap in my dress, you know, show off me real skills. But I actually can (well, that's questionable nowadays) dance!

That was our wedding day. Like I said yesterday, it went by so fast. I know planning it and budgeting for it and dealing with guest drama is hard and overwhelming. But trust me, it's worth it! It was the best day of my life by far! He's my best friend in the whole world; I couldn't imagine spending the rest of my life with anyone else.

Thank you for tuning in to Wedding Week to see my adventures, advice, and across the pond comparisons! I hope you've enjoyed reading about it; I know I've enjoyed reliving it!