'cause now the boys are back in town. No strings to hold them down.

Today the internet went pretty crazy over the 10th Anniversary of Mean Girls, but more importantly it was also my birthday. Yep, today I turned the grand ol' age of 25. Half way to 50, a quarter of the way to 100! (eek)

It was also 10 years ago that I first saw Busted perform live. My parents took me and a few friends to Liverpool for the night as a belated birthday present and we all made posters declaring our love for the band whilst wearing flashing headbands, y'know, the stuff tiny teens do. It was also the first time I ever saw McFly perform!

Now 10 years on these two bands have merged together to form the super group McBusted. And in preparation for the gig at the O2 last weekend (which was incredible!!) I had a huge McFly & Busted binge - which as I already have a dedicated playlist on my iPod, wasn't all that hard.

One song that really boosted my mood every time I listened to it this month was Thunderbirds Are Go by Busted. There are the obvious Busted faves - Year 3000, Air Hostess, Crashed the Wedding - but for April, I choose this one, especially as the performance of this song at the gig was amazing!

The 25 before 25 round-up

In 6 days I will be turning 25 (twenty five?! jeeez!). This time last year, inspired by various other blogs, I compiled a list of things I wanted to do in the following 12 months. I hoped making a list would motivate me, because who doesn't love crossing stuff off a list?! Well, here's how I did...

1.  See the deer in Richmond Park ✔ - so beautiful!
2.  Crochet at least 100 granny squares - I started but I couldn't get the tension right so I may have given up pretty quickly...
3.  Buy flowers at the Columbia Road Flower Market ✔ - to be blogged eventually!
4.  Make macarons ✔ - I ended up making them three times and a new recipe is on it's way :-)
5.  Visit Edinburgh - yeah this didn't happen.
6.  Give blood ✔ - Done!
7.  Knit a scarf - again, I started! I really did! But then after about 20 rows I dropped a stitch & unravelled it in a fit of rage. I haven't touched it since.
8.  Go to Kensington Palace - this is a mere bus journey away! I'm kind of ashamed I didn't do it.
9.  Have afternoon tea ✔ - I (obviously) loved it!
10.  Go on the Harry Potter Studio Tour ✔ - I treated my brother for his birthday back in July but the pictures still need to be blogged!
11.  See Wicked The Musical ✔ - Andrew actually bought me tickets for my birthday so it was the first thing I ticked off.
12.  Visit a new country ✔ - Germany! A first time for both of us & we really enjoyed it.
13.  Complete "The Alphabetical Prop Project" project - I post-processed I & J but that was it.
14.  Design at least 1 new card a month - I did make some cards...
15.  Make some homemade gifts for Christmas - I tried (see: Knit a scarf).
16.  Visit Highclere Castle - Yep, this was one I really wanted to do but we just never planned it.
17.  Give a new lease of life to an old piece of furniture - We stayed in our current flat for another year so there hasn't been any need for buying furniture/no space to put it.
18.  Open an ISA and put something in it every week - oops.
19.  Do the couch to 5k challenge - oops again.
20.  Design & create a cross-stitch - I know what I want to make, I just haven't made it yet.
21.  Spend a day at Hampton Court - We nearly went but the weather wasn't on our side...
22.  Complete The 30 Day Shred - hahaha.
23.  Grow a plant from seed - We tried with some herbs but they all died :-(
24.  Make a Manx log cabin quilt - one day I will. One day.
25.  Do a tandem sky dive - This was very wishful thinking!

I think it's fair to say I did terribly with this! But hey, I planned a wedding in 3 months! I think that can count as a (pretty big) excuse...

15 years

In April 1999 my Dad was diagnosed with a malignant meningioma brain tumour.

A meningioma tumour develops from the meninges - the membrane that surrounds the brain & spinal cord - and the majority of them will be benign. But 10% will be atypical or malignant. Malignancy is the tendency of a condition to get progressively worse, and potentially result in death.

Upon diagnosis my Dad was given only 2 weeks to live. And as time passed, he was given prognosis after prognosis - 2 weeks, 2 months, a year. On one occasion we were even told that "this Christmas would be his last".

Fast forward 15 years to last month, when my Dad gave me away at my wedding. It was a dream come true for him to be there and I am so very thankful for those 15 years that doctors never thought we'd have. My Dad is my hero, an incredible fighter and inspiration to so many!

So here's to many more years of my wonderful Dad saying a big F U to cancer! :-)

Shan Fisher Photography

Wedding: DIY Bouquet & Boutonnières

According to an article from the January 2013 BRIDES magazine, the average UK wedding spends £560 on flowers. £560!! That's the same as buying a £4 bunch of Waitrose's tulips for your home, every week, for 2 and 3/4 years. Now that's a lot of tulips! But £560 on wedding flowers? I'd rather have the tulips.

From the beginning we knew our wedding was going to be small and kept to a low budget. Neither of us ever dreamt of having a big do and we both fancied doing as much as we could ourselves, incorporating lots of personal details. One thing that I really wanted to do was make my own bouquet, something artificial that I could keep afterwards and that would give me the freedom to have whatever flowers I wanted.
We headed over to Isleworth one Sunday morning in January to visit Lavenders of London - an artificial flowers heaven, with lots of different types to choose from. I'd spent a lot of time looking on Pinterest and pinned a different range of bouquet ideas, but the favourite style that stood out for me was that of quite a colourful meadow flower look. As we'd already settled on the 'no-colour-theme' theme, this would be perfect!
For my bouquet I chose:
  • Poppies - The vibrant red of these poppies caught my eye straight away in Lavenders. And as well as being beautiful meadow flowers, I also chose them for the simple reason that my lovely pooch is named after them.
  • Daisies I was drawn to the daisies as they remind me so much of summer and they are the ultimate meadow flower! The bunches were also nice & big, making them perfect as a "filler" amongst the other flowers.
  • Gypsophila (Baby's Breath) - Again these were more filler, but I like how whimsical baby's breath looks.
  • Primroses - I chose these flowers as my daddy's nickname at school was Primrose - I'm sure it wasn't the only one he had but it sure is a pretty one! And thus they always remind me of him :-)
  • Lavender - After daffodils, my mum is a big lover of lavender, and who can blame her, they smell gorgeous (although these don't smell, for obvious reasons)! The colour of these also complimented the rest of the bouquet nicely.
  • Roses - I wouldn't usually choose roses, but as they make up part of my name I wanted to include them. Plus I loved these huge pink ones!
  • Cornflowers - To finish off the bouquet I felt that some blue flowers would be perfect and these worked well with the lavender to break up the red, pink, yellows and whites.
To make a basic bouquet you will need: artificial flowers, wire cutters, florist tape and florist wire. I then used super glue and parcel string to finish it.

To start I separated and trimmed all the flowers, then attached the wire to the ends of those that needed it. To do this you simply wrap one end of the florist wire around the tip & tightly cover it with florist tape. This made any short stems an easier length to work with.
Next I simply arranged them. I had no final image in my mind so it was a case of just picking up a flower & seeing if it worked - adding & subtracting until I was happy with it.

Once I had my final bouquet I started to tightly wrap all of the stems with florist tape, adding more layers until it felt secure. I then trimmed any excess wire from the bottom & covered the tips in some more tape. My chosen finish for the bouquet was to wrap the stems in parcel string, which I secured with some super glue, but you could also use ribbon for a more colour-themed finish.

I also made a smaller version of my bouquet for my bridesmaid.
A couple of days before the wedding Andrew's mum gave me this little blue flower which was once used as a decoration on Andrew's christening cake - 26 years ago! I secured this to the string of my bouquet as my something old and something blue :-)
As well as making mine & my bridesmaid's bouquet, I also made all of the boutonnières - or button holes as they are better known. In total I made 12 - 7 for the men & 5 for the ladies - as well as groom & best man we also gave fathers, mothers, brothers & grandparents one each for the day.

For the mens ones Andrew chose gerberas & rosemary. Again with these I extended the stems with a small amount of wire then joined them all together with more tape. I folded the end over, to give it more girth before wrapping the parcel string around. I then used super glue to attach a brooch back, to make it easier to wear. For the ladies boutonnières I replaced the rosemary with some lavender.
The bridal party with the finished bouquets and boutonnières.
In total, for 2 bouquets and 12 boutonnières, we spent roughly £60. Although artificial isn't the cheapest way - I'm sure buying some flowers in the supermarket would have been even cheaper - I like that I have these important keepsakes from the day. Andrew's boutonnière is in our wedding box and my bouquet is in a vase on display in our lounge, always reminding us of our special day :-)

NYC: Brooklyn Bridge, the Staten Island Ferry & Wall Street

On the Sunday we went for a leisurely walk across the East River, from Brooklyn's DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) to Manhattan's Financial District, over the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. It is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States and was opened in 1883.
You get a fantastic view of some of Manhattan's tallest buildings from the bridge - the offices and headquarters of many major financial institutions - and in prominent position is One World Trade Center, now the tallest building in the United States and the 4th tallest in the world (The Shard in London is only 74th).
As it was the weekend the Financial District was eerily quiet, with the only people around being tourists and hot dog vendors. This suited us down to the ground! Visiting on a day when it's filled with high-powered business types wouldn't have been very ideal.
We walked down Wall Street, past The Trump Building and Federal Hall, round the corner to the New York Stock Exchange and over Broadway to Ground Zero. Unfortunately we weren't able to see the memorial this time but we did see this amazing bronze FDNY memorial wall, commissioned by the Fire Department of New York for all the fallen firefighters of 9/11.
Next we headed to the Staten Island Ferry, which provides a free ride between Manhattan & Staten Island around the clock, every day of the year. It also gave us the ideal alternative for getting a closer look at Lady Liberty whilst Liberty and Ellis Islands were closed, following damage from Hurricane Sandy. Although it's not the most glamorous of boat rides, you do get to see a pretty incredible view of Manhattan (and as you get further away you can see Jersey too), all for free!
After our quick trip to Staten Island and back we returned to Wall Street, with one aim in sight - to rub the bull's balls (which brings you good luck, apparently). The Charging Bull sculpture was originally an act of guerrilla art by the artist Arturo Di Modica, who installed it under a 60-ft Christmas tree in front of the New York Stock Exchange as a Christmas gift to the people of New York in 1989. The police did seize it but following public outcry it was re-installed in its new and current location, facing up Broadway.
People queue to have their picture taken with his front, and despite us Brits being renowned for queuing, we opted instead for a picture with his bum (and very well polished balls...), and then stole some other guys front shot! ;-)
As this day was officially St. Patrick's Day the Empire State building was lit up green for the day.
That concludes part 1 of our American adventure, next up is Washington, D.C!

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More posts from part 1 of our trip:

NYC: The Met & The Upright Citizens Brigade

Reasons to be cheerful - March

  • Celebrating our six year anniversary by getting married!
  • My dad being there and delivering an amazing speech
  • Finally getting an engagement ring - a 1971 sapphire & diamond beauty :-)
  • Making our own wedding rings at The Quarter Workshop
  • A day trip to Birmingham & the Library of Birmingham
  • Decorating our reception venue & it all coming together perfectly
  • Two nights in an amazing hotel after the wedding - four poster bed heaven!
  • Amazing breakfasts being brought to our room each day
  • Being given the long-coveted Nikki McWilliams Caramel Wafer cushion by Andrew
  • Pancakes. Lots of pancakes.
  • All my homemade projects for the wedding being completed in good time
  • Remembering how to use my sewing machine!
  • Every street in London being taken over by beautiful blossom
  • Having a pretty swish hire car for the weekend
  • Poppy dog cuddles
  • All the family being together for Mother's Day
  • Keeping my home filled with beautiful daffodils
  • Manx queenies & Ramsey Bakery sausage rolls
  • An incredible cake table at our wedding - including macarons & iced fingers!
Read/Watched/Listened to/Saw/Visited:
  • The Sensing Spaces Exhibition at The Royal Academy - pretty impressive!
  • Seeing the awesome Angela Lansbury in Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - wasn't as keen on this as I'd hoped...
  • Lord of the Flies - a re-read from my school days that I enjoyed more this time round
  • The Time Traveler's Wife - my second & more successful attempt reading this
  • Finishing Gossip Girl again - no such thing as too much Chuck Bass & NYC
  • Frozen - Disney princesses are getting sassier & I like it!
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel - so incredibly perfect
  • The Fantastic Mr. Fox - more Wes Anderson genius!
To look forward to/to do in April:
  • My birthday :-)
  • A long Easter weekend with Andrew
  • McBusted at the O2 - I'm going solo but I'm so excited!

Brum Brum Brum

Despite spending three years studying in Leicester, I'd never really spent any time in Birmingham. I passed through it regularly on my way to somewhere else, and I saw two incredible gigs there (Joanna Newsom and Regina Spektor), but I'd never explored the city before. So after we'd finished making our wedding rings we decided to spend the day doing just that! 
We started with a walk along the canal, from the Jewellery Quarter to the Library. Birmingham has a vast system of canals, more miles than Venice apparently! And during the Industrial Revolution it was vital for feeding the industry in the city.
The new Library of Birmingham was designed by the Dutch designer Mecanoo and opened in September. It's the largest municipal library in Europe and is pretty damn impressive! Sadly we didn't get much time inside as it closes at 5pm on a Saturday, but we did manage a quick venture up to the top floor to see the view! One day I'll have to go back to bask in all those books...
After the library we headed towards the city centre ready for our train back to London. We wandered through Centenary Square, the home of the library, which was decorated beautifully with all these pretty primroses.
Birmingham has a wealth of statues and public art, at times it almost felt like someone had been sneezing statues! We passed through Chamberlain Square, which had it's fair share of them, including an unusual one of Thomas Attwood who sits away from his plinth and whose bronze pages are scattered on the steps.
It was nice to finally explore Birmingham, the architecture was interesting and luckily the areas we explored were relatively quiet compared to the (probably very manic) city centre, which was perfect for two people getting out of London for the day!