Wedding dress – to DIY or not to DIY?

Throughout the initial brainstorming on wedding ideas, I quickly realised that I am destined to be a DIY bride. Nothing in the shops, magazines, or on the vast array of websites has been quite right for us. There are some beautiful decorations and displays out there, but nothing that jumps out as being perfect for us. This also applies to the dress. Now many would argue that the dress is the most important part of the day, but I disagree. The most important part of the day is that I’ll be marrying the man of my dreams and sharing our happiness with people who are important to us.  That being said, I still want to look pretty in a nice dress.

There are so many styles of wedding dresses out there now, we really are spoilt for choice. Everything from princess dresses to vintage elegance,  boho, alternative funky coloured ones and everything in between. I’m a little intimidated by the vast amount of options. Again, nothing I’ve seen is right for me. There are elements that I like of many different dresses, but not one that I could say I really want to wear. To rectify this, I’ve decided to make my own. What have I let myself in for?!

The extent of my sewing skill is a few fancy dress costumes for myself,  my daughter, and friends, plus the odd upcycled tshirt, etc. Ive never tackled a project of this size and importance. Obviously, it’s not going to win any design awards, and probably won’t be the absolute perfect fit. It will, however, be something that I have made with (I imagine) blood, sweat and tears in order to be perfect for our day. The design is still very much in the beginning stages but I’m hoping to start work on it in the new year. Any seamstresses with words of advice, please feel free to get in touch and tell me how insane I am 🙂

Wedding recce

We almost have a wedding venue! Hopefully, at the weekend, it’ll be booked! I’ve just been to the venue we want for a bit of a recce, and to hurry the staff in to sorting it out. It’s the most perfect setting for a wedding, I’m a very lucky girl to have D choose it for us. It’s on a lake. Yes, actually on a lake! (Will explain further when it’s confirmed) In the shadow of Pen-y-fan and Corn Du. What could be more perfect than that for us?

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It’s beautiful even on a rainy day!

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This will be the view from the ceremony. So excited! Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Tour is shit. There, I said it

I think it’s obvious that I’ve been pretty upset and stressed out over the past few weeks. I’ve not been myself, I’ve been snapping for no reason, sitting in silence for hours, and sleeping for no more than 2 hours a night. It has to stop before I make myself ill and really give him something to worry about. I know that D has been worried about me, despite my protests that I’m fine, so I wrote him a letter today, being completely honest about how I’ve been feeling in the hope that it’ll help us both. I’ve been so conscious of appearing ok so that D doesn’t worry, but it’s gone the opposite way and made it pretty obvious to everyone that I’m not coping too well at the moment.

I though I’d be fine(ish) with the tour as we are used to being apart, with him based in Germany. I even had a gentle ease in to it as he left for his camp 2 weeks before deploying. I guess you just can’t tell yourself how to feel. My recent moods have fluctuated between tears and silence, to being so irritable, I’m actually afraid I’ll swing for someone just because they are standing in the wrong place or something. I’ve been afraid to say anything about it as D has the hard job. He is away from home, working his arse off, worrying about me…I have it easy. I’m in my own home with friends and family nearby, so why can’t I just suck it up and deal with it like other people do? I’ve decided to just deal with the fact that it is hard, and I’m allowed to be upset. I’m going to stop keeping it all bottled up, and do something productive. I’m fed up of telling myself that I’m upsetting D by saying I’m fine when I’m not, and hopefully admitting that tour is fucking shit is the first step to sorting it out.

Onwards and upwards…and other inspirational shit

Military Shoebox Appeals – A few things to consider

Recently, I’ve noticed an increase in the presence, and number of military shoebox appeals. Obviously, with Christmas approaching, this is inevitable. Now before I start this post properly, I just want to say that I think it’s a lovely idea for the public to want to send gifts to those serving away from home at christmas. I’ve done it myself previously, it’s a great morale booster, and it’s truly lovely to see the support for our troops…

However…

I know that I’ll be sending mail out to D for Christmas, as will most (if not all) of the other military families. This will put an increased workload in for the good old delivery team, as it does every year, as everyone wants their gifts to get through to theatre in time for Christmas. After looking through some of the websites organising these shoebox appeals, the same items pop up in every list. Hypothetically, if D receives a gift from one, or even two of these providers (as there are fewer deployed than in previous years, yet still more organisations being set up), he could possibly spend Christmas in the company of a buttload of toothbrushes, toothpaste, and supernoodles. Again, as lovely as it is for people to want to do this, bear in mind that just for one person, I’ll be sending over more than he needs, I imagine. My sister will be sending him some fantastic, random, wonderfulness, his family will probably put together a package, as will some of his friends. On top of that, every deployed soldier/sailor/airman (or woman) receives a Christmas box from uk4u (uk4u.org). Now I know they are away for the festive season, and nothing is as good as being at home, but they don’t do that badly. Yes, there are people who won’t receive as much as others from family/friends, but these guys and girls are a family. They won’t see one of their own going without. They take care of each other.

Without beginning an extended rant that will probably cause arguments, I’d just like to direct your attention to the MOD guidelines for Christmas in theatre. Everyone is very grateful for your support and goodwill, but there are procedures in place that make life a lot easier for everyone. Uk4u have a donation page where you can contribute to the cost of the gifts. There are service charities such as The Royal British Legion, SSAFA, ABF The Soldiers Charity, RAF Benevolent Fund, Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity…the list is endless. These all work tirelessly for our service personnel and veterans all year round, not just at Christmas. Maybe drop a donation or volunteer a few hours of your time to them? There is also an Operations Welfare Fund that donations can be made to which will be used to buy things that service members have specifically asked for. All this information can be found on the MOD website https://www.gov.uk/donations-to-support-members-of-the-armed-forces

There is also a lovely charity that support the children of deployed soldiers, people who are very often overlooked. My Daddy is a Soldier provide parties and activities for the children, and provide a support network for these young people who truly need it. I’m sure they would be very grateful of support and a donation, regardless of size. Take a look at what they do on mydaddyisasoldieradventures.org

Obviously, this is not a rule book, just my opinion. Before you go and donate items and money to one of the many shoebox appeals out there, take some time and consider where your generosity could be best placed. Also consider that some of these companies are not MOD approved, and some do not even state where your money is going. Hopefully I haven’t put anyone off supporting our forces lads and ladies at Christmas, I’d just like to urge people to donate ‘responsibly’, in the best interests of everyone.

A birthday in Afghanistan and wedding plans

Today is D’s birthday. The big 31! It’s the first one since we’ve been together, and we are thousands of miles apart for it. I’ve never been  massive celebrator of birthdays, but I’d love to do something special for him. I’ve sent a card over with a few little presents. Nothing exciting, because what do you send over to Afghanistan that is going to be useful and not just be hanging around in the way? We’ll celebrate properly when he gets home. Homecoming, his birthday, my birthday, and Christmas all at once. There will be a lot of cake!

Talking of cake, my lovely little sis has been working hard in cake school, making some awesome looking cupcakes. Lots of excellent practice in preparation for making our wedding cake (thank you B!). We (D) is designing it, so it’ll be completely unique and perfect for us. When we got engaged and started talking about wedding plans, we had 2 years to get it all done in. Plenty of time…although by the time D comes home from tour, we get back to relative normality, we’ll only have about a year left. I’m actually starting to get a little nervous about how much we need to get done. We (D) has chosen a gorgeous venue that we need to book, we need to choose our reception venue, food, music, rings, flowers…everything! To make it worse, I’m too stubborn for my own good and have decided to make as much of what we want for the day myself. We could do it the ‘easy’ way and buy/hire in what we want, but where is the story and the personal touch behind it? Everything we will have in our wedding will be something important to us, and I think that’s what the day is all about. He lets me carry on with my eco warrior, thrifty (cheapskate) stuff, and I let him be awesome.

So the challenge is on. Wedding planning between Wales and Afghanistan has begun. Don’t ask me how I got here from D’s birthday, I have no idea myself! Happy birthday D xxx

From Afghanistan with Love

Those of you who know me are aware that I’ve been pretty much a complete grumpy arse over the past few days. I miss D terribly but don’t really want to moan too much about it as he’ll feel bad, and it’s not his fault. This morning, I decided that I needed a good cry to just get it out of my system. I went for the fail-safe method of the old YouTube videos of soldiers coming home. Mostly American and heavily dramatic, but a guaranteed tear jerker. Halfway through the second video, there was a knock at the door, and a delivery driver with a box sent from Germany. It held some of D’s things (I knew it was on the way, he packed it before going on tour).  I opened it up, took out the hat he always wears and sobbed my heart out. It took me another 30 mins to go back to it and sort it out. In true romantic D style, there was a beautiful little note hiding in there. It’ll go with every other one he has ever written for me. There was also his Help For Heroes wristband. I always wear mine, but now I’m wearing both of ours, and will do until he is home.

Loving a soldier is not hard at all. Tour is hard, but how many women get handwritten letters, the most treasured phonecalls, and are made to feel as appreciated as I do. He is in the middle of a country that he doesn’t know,  looking after people he has just met, doing a job that so many people couldn’t (or wouldn’t), yet he still makes sure that I’m ok every chance he gets. He sends me the most beautiful letters, and makes sure I know that he is always thinking of me. How lucky am I?! My man truly is very special. I have the best one in the world. I can now wear his big warm hoodie like a hug from him until I get the real thing in a few months.

Now back to planning our wedding 🙂

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School, suggestions and sorry

So today I attended my first PTA meeting at the girl’s school. Initially, I had intended on having my say on the problems she has reported back to me regarding cars outside, problems with lunch, etc…true to form, I soon found myself chirping in with ideas and making myself at home.
We live in a lovely area, but one that struggles financially. Weve been on that tired old list of the UK’s poorest towns many a time. It surprised me to find out that people weren’t even trying to think of ideas to over ome financial problems in the meeting. There were demands to the head teacher for a social fund (from what money exactly?). Complaints at the cost of uniforms but no solutions volunteered. I piped up that maybe the school should introduce a swap shop/thrift store idea. Bring in your old uniform items that no longer fit, people who struggle to buy new can either swap their own old uniform for a bigger size or make a donation for it. After a few blank stares from some of the mors obviously well-off members, the headteacher immediately wrote it in as a new scheme fo implement. Why has nobody mentioned it before? It’s common sense, surely? If we stop demanding that we are ‘owed’ support in favour of getting off our arses and doing something ourselves, wouldn’t we all be in a much better place? In light of my newfound ‘power’, I also proposed beginning a networking group for forces families in the community to be based at the school. It received their full support and I’ve been offered use of the building for free to run events. I’m going to be very busy!

In othed news, I’m feeling very guilty today as I missed the boy’s messages. I was in the meeting when he sent them, and he was gone by the time I left. On the off-chance he reads this, I love you D. Sorry I missed you xxx

Have we forgotten how fortunate we are?

The boy moved camps yesterday. He is no longer in Bastion with the ‘luxury’ of half decent wifi, so there’ll probably be no more speaking to him every day in the way I’m accustomed to. Because of this, I’ve been a right twat this weekend. In my head,  people just don’t have a clue what it’s like to not know what’s going on with him, to not hear the voice that calms me down and makes everything better. Since we’ve been together, I think we have only gone 2 days without talking or messaging each other. Really, that’s nothing. Only a few years ago, wives and partners went for weeks without hearing from their other half. Just a few decsdes ago, they went months. We have the luxury of mobile phones, socisl media, email, satellite phones, eblueys and the good old free to mail blueys. How awesome is that?! My fiance is in a combat zone, thousands of miles away, and I get to speak to him a few times a week, and send him mail every day. 

I can’t imagine going for too long without hearing from D. I’d be lost. We’ve grown so used to having that instant, regular contact, we’d struggle without it. It leads me to wonder if this is also the major contributor in the number of failed relationships these days. Gone are the days where hubby went for a beer with his mates and didn’t have to worry about nagging calls and messages or keeping the mrs updated on his eta home. I just about remember the 3 day wait for someone to call. Now, ppeople text each other immediately after leaving. Through social media, you can interact with no end of people for no end of reasons. From mutual interest conversations to dating. With all these interesting people at your fingertips, it’s so easy to decide to keep your options open, or even develop relationships that you shouldn’t. With all of this social freedom, do we now have too much option? Are we always waiting for someone better to come along? Will we ever admit to it? Who knows? Obviously, I’m speaking hypothetically. I’ve never been happier than I am with D. I just need something to contemplate on the way home from work 🙂

Kyleigh’s Mint Cake

A bit of an unexpected post, but I’ve written and typed this out so many times over the past few days, I thought it would just be easier to put it here so I can just give a link instead. The boy loves Kendal mint cake. Luckily, I know how to make something similar so have already knocked up a batch and sent it over to him. Store it in an airtight container and it’ll keep for a few weeks (in theory – it never lasts that long).

Please excuse the granny measurements, I just prefer them.

Ingredients:
1lb sugar (white for white, brown for brown)
1/4 pint of milk
2 (ish) tsp peppermint essence

Put the milk and sugar in a heavy saucepan (use a large one if you don’t want to get splattered in very hot sugar – I learned the hard way). Put the heat on low and stir with a wooden spoon until fully dissolved. Crank the heat a tiny bit and let it come to the boil. This is where the ‘professionals’ would use a sugar thermometer.  I don’t bother. When it reaches a rolling boil, drop a little in to a bowl of cold water. Leave for a few seconds and it should form a soft ball. If it doesn’t,  keep it on the heat for a few mins longer. When it is at the soft ball stage, take it off the heat and stir the crap out of it for a few mins. 5 should be plenty. Be careful though, tbis shit gets hot! Put it back on the heat. You’re aiming for around 116 degrees I believe,  so mega hot. I usually give it about 10 mins and start testing it in the water again. This time, you want it to harden when the water cools it. Trust me, you’ll know what I mean when it happens. When you’ve got to that stage, turn the heat off, add your peppermint and stir your ass off! When it starts to thicken, pour it on to an oiled baking sheet/tray (I usually put it in a loaf tin now. It makes it easier to make regular squares – good for presents). Let it cool for about an hour, cut in to squares with a sharp knife,  job done!

Makes cracking Christmas gifts if you’re like me and do the whole homemade present thing.

Enjoy!

Civvys – they just don’t get it

Now I know that I’m a civvy, so the title seems strange,  but it’s true. They don’t get it. I’ve just got home from work (in a bar – yuck) and am impressed with myself for not punching anyone. Tonight had c**tstomers of the highest order.

C**tstomer #1 – ‘I want a stella in a Carling glass’. I Can’t give you a stella in a carling glass. It’s called passing off. I’m not allowed to do it. Twathead huffs and moans for a few minutes as I refrain from spitting in his pint (I’m not allowed to do that either) then orders 4 shots. I give him his drinks… ‘Carry them over to the table for me’ My expression clearly reads ‘what the actual fuck?’. ‘Carry them for me!’ Piss off. Luckily,  he pissed off. Quickly.

C**tstomer #2 – Pissing and moaning about how her boyfriend doesn’t listen to her and calling all men wankers. Turns to me, ‘you agree, don’t you? They are cocks’. Actually, no. My fiance is amazing. ‘Oh, does he work here too?’ No, he is in the army. He is in Afghanistan for a few months. ‘Oh that’s nothing! I went an entire weekend without sex last week’ What planet are these people from?

C**tstomer #3 – This one was a friend of mine. I was out the back, getting ready to start closing down the bar, boss sticks his head around the door, ‘your lover is at the bar ‘ I immediately think it’s D and leg it out there, only to find my friend laughing at her ever so funny joke she just played on me. Twat.

Anyway, enough of those…back to the original subject. Civvys don’t get it.  A few weeks ago, I was talking to a girl in work about D. She was swooning over the fact that he is in the army and said she wanted a man in uniform. My reply to her was that the uniform does look lovely, but it’s temporary. There is a man under the uniform who you have to love and trust from a distance. Like it or not, the job comes first. Yes, it’s all very romantic and they treat you like a princess, but it’s hard. It’s not hard to love a soldier, it’s hard to let him go. But you have to. Her response, ‘yeah, but they are well sexy’. Jesus H Christ! Ladies, men in uniform are lovely to look at and, for the most part, gentlemen. But you need to love the man, not the uniform.  Otherwise you’re just a twat.