Wednesday, 30 January 2013

What We Love Wednesdays: Our Gay Day In New York

It's fair to say that there is enough squeezed into the island of Manhattan to keep you entertained for months and there are no shortage of guides available to tell you where to go in New York, where to eat and what to do! However, we were lucky enough to have inside help when finding our way from the lovely Steph & Corrine from Waking Up With Her!

After our New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square we had spent New Year's Day stretching our legs on a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to see where Laura had planned to propose. It had led to an early night as the (freezing) fresh air had worn us out.

We were meeting the girls at 2pm so we decided to walk the 20 or so blocks from Rockefeller Centre to Union Square. The Rockefeller Centre is home of the ice rink that you think of in New York, the one in the movies and the one that has the most beautiful tree towering above it.

The Rockefeller Centre is home to some stunning artwork and the NBC studios where programmes such as the USA Office and Saturday Night Life are filmed.

We strolled down 5th Avenue and somehow Laura got distracted by the American Girl Doll store! By distracted I mean hypnotised to the point where I was unable to move her until I promised that we could go in. As soon as I entered I was overwhelmed. Unless you have grown up with a knowledge of American Girl Dolls, this store is an opening into a world I'm not sure I needed to know existed! Seriously dress like your doll! Make your doll look like you! Hair styling for dolls! Give your doll braces, like you, earrings, like you a hearing aid - like you!!!! SERIOUSLY AMERICA!

Next stop was Grand Central Station! A standard on any 'to-do' list and well worth visiting, it's beautiful! We wandered around admiring the architecture and then realised we had to get a move on. We met Steph and Corrine in Barnes and Noble and due to the freezing temperature made our first stop Starbucks!

After warming up and chatting we wanted to make the most of our day so with Corrine and Steph leading the way we headed of to find Gay Street. We were determined to get a picture under the sign and thankfully it worked out perfectly:

Then where better to head than the BIG GAY ICE-CREAM SHOP! I had images of the rainbow ice-cream but that was not at all what was going on in this unique store. There were rainbows alright but mainly on the pictures, when it came to ice-cream the choices were less colourful more flavoursome! To explain - this store likes to 'mix it up' and add unusual flavours to regular flavours. Laura stepped up first and added salt, olive oil and butterscotch to chocolate ice-cream! Then Steph and Corrine added curry and ginger to their chocolate ice-cream and I, well I added vanilla ice-cream to a fanta to make the yummiest float and I thought we may need a back up if the chocolate ice-cream additions didn't work out. To see our reactions check out the video.

Once we were feeling suitably refreshed the next stop was the Sex Museum! When the girls first suggested this pit-stop when we were planning our trip it wasn't on our to-do list but if you have time in New York you should go! It was educational more ways than you'd expected! Although I think the main takeaway for us is that homosexuality is more common in animals that heterosexuality and the only reason that isn't commonly known is because science needs funding and often funders don't think 'gay animals' will have an appeal!!!

Oh and there was also the fact that a guy from Idaho City made a sex machine - Laura proudly took photos of her fellow statesman!

After admiring, observing, learning and blushing we had worked up quite an appetite so next stop was Stardust Diner - home to the Broadway wannabes and some amazing food! Situated not far from Radio City Hall (home of the Rockettes) this is your All-American diner with all the American food you'd expect - waffle fries anyone?!

The food was not the best bit of this diner though, that would be the waiters and waitresses who, on rotation, would grab a mic and belt out classic show tunes. It turns out that more than a few previous staff now strut their stuff on Broadway stages! It was brilliant watching our waiter serenade us then take centre booth for his big finish.

The four of us chatted for quite some time over our dinner and were sad to leave, this for me was what I always though America would be like. The hustle and bustle of Times Square not to far away, hanging out with our real-New Yorker friends and eating waffle fries in a diner where it's OK to sing out loud!

Over dinner we found out that we had not done ALL of Grand Central Station, in fact we had missed out a 'must-do', the Whispering Wall! As the names suggests the wall whispers, or more accurately you whisper and the wall allows the 'whisper' to reach the opposite side - check it out on the video.

Turns out this is where Steph had proposed to Corrine here and we could see why, not only is the station beautiful this corner of the station makes you feel like it's just yours - your own piece of the world famous station! We spent 20 or so minutes 'whispering' to each other - turns out your never too old for this kind of stuff!

When it came to saying goodbye we wished we had planned more time with them. Looking back it was our favourite day in New York! I think it is definitely true that having locals showing you around adds to the experience. Everything we did that day was probably buried in a guide book but all we did was turn up and have a great day, seeing and doing great things with 2 great New Yorkers!

Saturday, 26 January 2013

New Years Eve in New York City!!

So we know that the mid-end of January is not the ideal time to put up a post about what we did on New Years Eve, but bear with us - we're still getting back into the swing of things! Our New York posts will be coming for the next few weeks, but trust us - they are worth documenting!

So back to New Years Eve. We wanted to spend it in Times Square - so we would have gone Red Square to Times Square in a year. We were told we would have to get there crazy early to get in, so we showed up at 2pm. 2PM. Only 30 minutes before they completely closed off the whole area. 10 hours before midnight!

Anyway, as expected Times Square (TS) was completely rammed already. There were police and tourists everywhere, and they had closed all roads in the area. We hadn't eaten yet, so I asked if we could take food into the enclosure - to which the policeman laughed at me, and said no, so we ate a quick burger and headed in.

So began the longest wait ever! Turned out we could have brought in food, which was annoying, but also we were glad we had no food or drink - because there were no loos! If you had to go to the bathroom, you were let out, and had to leave TS - couldn't get back in!

We layed down on the floor of Times Square for over 2 hours - tried not to freeze to death in the below freezing temperatures, used 6 little hand warmers, and listened to Psy, Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepson, Train, and others warm up for their sets.

We saw Carson Daly and Angela from 'The Office', danced to Gangnam Style, got gifted awesome Nivea hats and balloons, and sang along to the artists. It was a shame we couldn't see them perform, because the stage faced the cameras and a small number of competition winners.

We did get to watch the Times Square ball rise, which was awesome - they had fireworks with it, and it was so cool to see in person what we've seen on TV all these years!

We rung in the London New Year with 5 hours down, and 5 hours to go. We feel like we aren't painting the most positive picture of NYE in TS, but honestly it was.. well, not very fun. Perhaps if we had been more prepared and had camping fold out seats and blankets like some in the enclosures who had obviously done it before, but we didn't think about it!

So after 5 hours waiting, we made the decision to head back to our apartment. We left the enclosure, and got stopped by a policeman who couldn't understand why we'd rather be anywhere else than Times Square on New Years! After explaining to him the many reasons we'd rather be cuddled up in our warm Upper West Side apartment with food, drink, and a bathroom to use, and after Sarah proclaiming to him that London does it better (oh, Sarah!) we were let go, and grabbed our first yellow taxi home, stopping for Mango Smirnoff Ice's and ordering pizza on the way.

Ohhhhh yeaaaahh
We watched the show on our big TV, cuddled and kissed in the warm, still wearing our Times Square hats - and at midnight Laura kissed her beautiful fiancee and thought about how lucky we were to be ringing in 2013 engaged, and in the (second) best city in the world. As we kissed, we saw fireworks - actually, they were real fireworks! We could see the TS fireworks from our apartment window! It was the best surprise ever.

Hahaha Sarah had TWO Smirnoffs
Times Square on New Years Eve was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience, but we are SO glad we made the best decision for us in coming home and ringing in the new year instead with our favourite things - blankets, Diet Coke, food, and each other!!

It is definitely worth a watch though - check out our NYE in NYC video here!!

What did you do to ring in 2013?

Sunday, 20 January 2013

What's Happening Hot Stuff - Our Own Idaho Experience

We weren't entirely sure what to call this post - Boise tour guide, latest update, what we did at Christmas, and then we settled on Our own Idaho!

The really nice thing about this trip was that we weren't in a rush to cram things into a few days, we had almost 2 weeks to relax, enjoy and spend time as Boiseans. It was like Laura had moved back home and we were just continuing with our life.

We spent the entire 2 weeks staying with Laura's parents and that in itself was a big highlight of the trip. Being able to spend SO much additional time with them meant we could enjoy hanging out and talking about our future plans and what we had been filling our time with back in London.

So to keep this (sort of) brief we thought we'd break it down into our two favourite topics - 1) What we did and 2) What we ate!

What we did:
On our first day, we had our only opportunity to see an American Football game - known as the Spud Bowl, as it was sponsored by Idaho potatoes! This meant that even though we didn't really support either team playing (Utah State Aggies vs. Toledo Rockets) there was plenty of potato-themed entertainment. And we all know I love POTATOES! The bigger the better!

We even managed to get on the famous 'Smurf-turf', the only blue football turf in the USA! Although the players we met certainly backed up the fact that they 'make 'em big' in the USA!

This was the first time I had been in Boise over the Christmas period, and it meant we could enjoy Winter Gardens Aglow together at the Idaho Botanical Gardens. A chance to wrap up warm and stroll hand in hand together surrounded by beautiful lights was not something to miss.

It was also a chance to hang out with the entire Smith clan and get into the Christmas spirit! The view of Boise was beautiful from the top.

After our festive evening at Gardens Aglow, we took some time out to get organised! Although not formally engaged (yet) we had chosen a wedding planner and looked at potential venues as we knew that getting married was next in our plans. Ah the joys of being a girl-girl couple!

On that note we did get to do some shopping - specifically RING shopping, although we may had added a few more items to our luggage! The ring shopping hadn't been planned as we had both ordered rings online. Laura had hers set from the moment she laid eyes on it, but I had been a little more indecisive so had two ordered just in case. It ended up being a Goldilocks situation - one diamond was too small and one was too big so we thought we'd check the stores and I was grateful we did. In the second store we entered I spotted my ring straight away and the guy working there was so nice, so interested in us and so knowledgeable that it was a real pleasure getting it. It wasn't until Laura and I were admiring the ring in the car that we noticed on the inside there were two additional diamonds and the words 'past, present, future' - the very first ring I had chosen also had the same inscription!

We had spoken to our wedding planner, Brandi, over Skype and really liked her. It's amazing how the little things can really win you over. From our first call we had pretty much made our minds up, and having followed her blog and discussed ideas the decision was easy! The day we'd arranged to meet was a productive one. We went through some photos of other weddings, talked about themes, colours, ideas and started to get excited. It meant that when we met a photographer that Brandi has worked with previously, we had a really good idea of what we wanted to happen on our day. By the time we went to have lunch with Brandi and her sister (and co-planner) we had plenty to talk about!

After a delicious lunch, the next stop was the venue we had found online. Brandi hadn't seen it so it was a bit of a discovery for all of us. We will go into WAY more detail when we know that everything is sorted but lets just say it's AMAZING - it allows us to create our dreamed about wedding and it fits perfectly with our theme! Oh and it's a LODGE - well, two lodges!
Lodge 1
And then came the big event(s) - the ENGAGEMENTS or as Laura refers to them the enGAYments! :) If you haven't read what happened already you can here: me proposing to Laura and Laura proposing to me! And the video should be ready soon, I've seen the preview and Laura's done a great job!

There was also the small matter of Christmas Day. Our 'no present' suggestion was pretty much ignored by Laura's parents, and the hoard we managed to accumulate is still being consumed as I write this! The day was great fun, we were joined by the Smith's old neighbours who had returned to Idaho after touring around in their camper van for the past year. It meant dinner was spent sharing travel stories in between enjoying delicious food and planning 2013 trips! And a dog walk to finish a lovely day.

Our flexible/no set plan holiday really worked in our favour when it came to Laura's friends. We managed to hang out with almost everyone that we wanted to - enjoyed brunches, lunches and nights out, were toasted with tequila and cocktails (separately :)) and laughed so much! Especially playing 'Origins' - who knew history could be such fun :) We saw friends that Laura hadn't seen for years, friends of Laura's that I had gotten to know over Twitter but never met, friends that 'I'd met previously and we left feeling like we can't wait to see them all again - hopefully at the wedding!

Where we ate:
Barbacoa: Hosted our last meal in Boise. It was a case of saving the best to last! This place is classy! And it does AMAZING food and drinks! We started with guacamole made at our table, SO GOOD, then the cocktails! Wow the cocktails - they come served in glasses made of ice, some have huckleberries and my favourite came with a mango popsicles- soooooooooooooo good! Oh yeah and the food - that was outstanding. Laura and her Dad got steak that was flambé, prawns as big as your palm and the sides were delicious. Fries, mash potatoes, garlic green beans - it was hard to pick a favorite!

Chuckarama: Always worth a mention as this is the place to go for the biggest variety of food in Boise! It's endless - well it is when you're me and there is SO much choice you have no idea which way to go. Thankfully Laura did a great job of guiding me around the various options and after five courses I had to admit defeat!

Big Juds: You may have seen our post on this: HERE put simply, home of the biggest and best burger in Boise! If 2lbs of meat isn't your thing there is plenty more choice and I personally would be quite happy sat in a corner with a bowl of their tater tots!

Mongolian Grill: I have NO idea if this is something you can get everywhere in the USA, but I love it. Grab a bowl, choose you raw veg, pieces of raw meat and pile the bowl as high as you can with noodles, add sauce and hand it all over to a guy who throws it all on a hot plate. Blink and before you know it you bowl is returned with perfectly cooked contents. Delicious, quick and a must-do choice when in Boise!

Panda Express: Now I know Boise isn't the only place to have these but I do LOVE Panda Express's orange chicken. I'm sad we don't have it here!

There were of course lots of other meals enjoyed throughout the trip - Trudy's in Idaho City was a great place to end up after driving (slowly) through 'Avalanche Alley' at -15 degrees C and surviving (after our venue visit) and then Merritt's truck stop was an experience at 3am - we played tunes on the jukebox and ate something they called scones but I think were more like freshly fried powdered doughnuts that were heavenly!

This trip certainly gave us the chance to enjoy a city that really does have plenty to offer! We LOVE Boise!!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Sprezzatura vs. Food: Big Jud's in Boise, Idaho!!

Hi everyone,

We hope your weeks are going well!! We are having a hard time adjusting to working again - how did we find time to do all these blogs? :)

This is just a quick post while we get back in the swing of things about our trip to Big Jud's in Boise, Idaho over Christmas.

Most of you will have heard of the TV show Man vs. Food (if not, please see the Boise clip below, and/or our What We Love Wednesdays post on it!) - Big Jud's made an appearance on that show awhile ago, and it seems to be an episode they repeat frequently, as we always receive texts, emails and Tweets from people thinking of us when they see it! (Which we love, don't stop, it's great!!)

So we HAD to visit over Christmas, and try the Double Big Jud - that's 2 pounds of beef, with cheese between each layer, veggies and sauces, all in a plate sized bun!!

The restaurant is famous for the Big Jud's challenge - if you eat all that plus a giant serving of fries and a large drink within 30 minutes, its all free and you get a t-shirt!!

And so we set out to do the challenge - just kidding, there is no WAY we could complete it!! So instead, we recruited Laura's parents and shared the Double Big Jud 4 ways!

And it was... well, nothing short of spectacular. The burger was delicious, the fries, and the tater tots were to die for. As a place famous for this challenge, we didn't expect the food to actually be so good!! We came home very satisfied Big Juds customers - and with an awesome video to boot!!

Out of curiosity, have you ever been to a restaurant that features on Man vs. Food?

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Sarah's Parents Reaction

Ahhh, the parents' reaction to the engagement! I thought I would empty my somewhat befuddled head onto this blog post for those of you who have asked, and for those of you who may be interested.

As those of you who have followed us for awhile will know, my family (my parents)'s reaction to my coming out was not a positive one. In fact it was only a few months ago that I was once again requested to 'make sure nothing is put on Facebook' about our relationship. Strange really when my Mum was starting to hang out more frequently with us and I thought things were getting better. And she isn't even on Facebook.

Turns out it may not 'get better'. What gets better, or was getting better was the way my Mum was handling the situation. However, that was very quickly undone with one call on my arrival back from the US.

We knew it was coming,  I had been frantically checking my inbox to see what response my 'I'm getting married' email went down. Now I know email seems cold - it felt cold, but it also felt safe. Safe in the sense that there was no initial explosion, safe in the sense that if I was logged into my email there was no reaction and safe in the fact that I had been able to successfully say my piece without tears or upset. What I hadn't thought through was the nervousness I would have waiting for a response, any response - had she seen it, hadn't she. Should I send another one?!?!

Turns out it took 2 days to formulate a one line reply that included a recurring theme 'If you love us you will not put it on facebook'.

I have analysed, thought about, put myself in her shoes and done everything I can to figure out why others finding out would be SO bad. Would people turn up with pitch forks, would she be shunned by her friends, would our extended family disown us! And then I thought about the answers - pitch forks aren't very common so that's unlikely, her friends aren't on facebook, I don't see them so chances of them finding out are slim and even if they do - will they care?! And finally the family - well I haven't seen many of them in YEARS! I understand it is different for my Mum but again they aren't on facebook & I'm not sure they remember I exist so surely she can remain vague when discussing me. So very little drama that I could see.

So on arrival back, after a overnight flight from New York where once again Laura and I got NO sleep, partly from the screaming baby and partly because we once again fell foul of 'just one more film'. We wandered to the tube bleary-eyed only to go 4 stops and get told 'end of the line'.  The rest of the journey was a blur of replacement buses and tubes going 2 stops - it meant our arrival at the flat was a very tired one!

However in order to be able to fall asleep I knew I had to make the call to my Mum. I took a deep breath, had Laura sit beside me and called. It went as expected, lots of tears, lots of 'why do this to us', a lot of comments from her I don't wish to dwell on. She wouldn't let me get a word in edgewise. Worse still, the call ended with 'please don't discuss this again'.

couldn't go to sleep on that so I rang my English Aunt, I got a much better reception, lots of congratulations and excitement - she even cried (with happiness), and she spoke to Laura to congratulate her! My heart stopped racing and I was back feeling like I wasn't the worst person ever. My English cousins were great too - in fact, I'm not sure there would have been a different reaction if Laura was a man - and that meant a lot, especially considering I hadn't discussed it with any of them before, so it was a roll of the dice how they'd react.

Then there was my sister - she was happy for us, her support means more than anything. She wasn't happy for the drama it was causing with my Mum but she also has a lot on her plate right now so I understood.

And then I fell asleep. My brain whirring.

The thing is Laura has taught me to be strong, to not feel guilty and to be proud of myself and us. And I am. Wholeheartedly. And with this beautiful ring acting as a symbol of our unity I felt differently after this call with my Mum. I was no longer feeling devastated, I was feeling frustrated. Mainly at the fact that she hadn't said congratulations but also at the fact that she thought I should keep my happiness private.

I woke up and showered - I may not have been allowed to call so I took the decision to go on Facebook and come out. To do the one thing my Mum had feared would spark the end of the world as we know it. And NOTHING happened, as expected. As I'd told her all along.

Well, nothing except this:

I can deal with that!

But then the texts came - sometimes modern technology is a danger Imagine what you wouldn't say if in order to do it you had to stop and write a letter, buy a stamp and post it. The throwaway nature of a text is never more evident than when my Mum gets mad. Unfortunately the madness was aimed at my darling Laura. The most unpleasant and hurtful things that she did not deserve came through but Laura handled them WAY better than I ever could, standing up for us and not letting herself be bullied.

The next day I went to work feeling slightly drained, both emotionally and physically, but there is nothing like 300 work emails needing your attention to get your head focused. At lunch though I stared at my phone - should I call Mum, I debated and came to the conclusion that no action would be taken until I spoke to Laura. I stayed strong and it felt weirdly good.

Tuesday came and I still hadn't heard anything, this time I decided to have my phone off. I don't know if I wanted to hear; I wanted an apology, but I feared another call like before so I threw myself into work. Then on arrival home a package - I knew it was bad before opening it. It ended up being a load of bills/letters/flat stuff (from the property I let in Scotland, my Mum thankfully looks after it as I have very little idea of what my letting agent tells me in her Scottish accent :D ) my Mum had put a note in to say 'you can deal with it'. But no sooner had I opened it I got a call from her.

Laura says she's never been prouder of me at this point, but it's a blur in all honesty - I took the call and I stood firm. No tears this time. I told her I was happy and proud and the only person judging me was my immediate family, not everyone else. And then she said 'well thank you for not putting on Facebook'....silence...'erm Mum I put it on facebook on Sunday, like I told you I was going to', silence, 'did no-one call?' silence.......

And there we have it! No Mayan Apocalypse take two after all!

I think it really did take realising that no-one else cares for her to back down. (As Laura has always said, I have to give her credit!)

From then, I received intermittent texts, always polite and generally asking mundane things. The storm had ceased.

Those who follow us on Twitter know I headed home on Friday night as I felt I should speak to them face to face - especially as I hadn't actually spoken to my Dad since the announcement.

I played loud music all the way home instead of running through the numerous disaster scenarios that could be awaiting me. I arrived and nothing! By nothing I mean no explosions, I was hugged, welcomed, helped in and then given a Diet Coke. No drama.

That evening I was asked about the holiday - light and fluffy 'How was New York? What was weather like? What was the best part of New York? What did you eat? Was it like the films?' The whole time I could see my Mum looking at my ring. It got late so we went to bed. Nothing more than that.

When I awoke on Saturday things were still pleasant, my Mum said my ring looked very pretty & the diamonds were bigger than her eternity rings. I took the compliment. Then a few hours later came 'Well do you have any photo's?' I wasn't sure exactly what that meant so I showed her the ones I had on my phone - a mix of Big Jud's big-as-your-head burger and our engagement photos - no real reaction except 'that's nice'.

I love my parents but they play a good game! I swung between wanting to shout 'Can someone please say congratulations!?' to 'Maybe this is one step at at time'. I spoke more about America, I included Laura's name frequently, I wore my ring proudly the entire time and I didn't cry once!

Who knows where that leaves us, they are off on holiday for 2 weeks, one with my English Aunt and Uncle and one with my Sister & her boyfriend, I am hoping with those people as company they may be forced to acknowledge it. I'm not holding out for a congratulations but I am hoping the next time I see them I can bring up the wedding.

I don't think I/we are any closer to acceptance but at least for now the shouting's stopped. And I for one am making sure to enjoy the opportunities I do get to talk about the engagements and wedding plans. More and more I am accepting that only I can make sure I'm happy and I will stay around those who add to the happiness not those who take it away. I used to think that this attitude is selfish, but I now think it's best form of self defense and the only way i can protect my relationship and happiness.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Laura proposed to Sarah - A Winter Wonderland

So it turns out after nearly 4 years of living practically side by side it’s still possible for Laura to completely surprise me. In fact, even though I knew a proposal might happen at some point, my amazing lady still managed to take my breath away.

Having said that, all hints, speculation and digging on my part had led to the conclusion that the proposal would be in New York, a plan that was originally in place I found out after, so to say I was unprepared is an understatement.

The day of the 21st did not start well; I was sooooooo ill that the only way I was convinced to leave the house was on the promise of snow and the offering of plenty of medication. Coaxed along by Laura and her parents I got into the car wrapped up snug as a bug in rug, water bottles and medication in hand ready for our ‘snow show expedition’ in McCall.

I guess that’s the thing when you are on holiday - you know you are on a time limit, so being ill has to be dealt with. Thankfully, as the drive into the mountains continued, my medicine kicked in and after the 2 and a half hour journey drew to a close I was starting to feel better.

We arrived at the snow covered McCall and just the sight brought a smile to my face, I never realised how much, but I REALLY LOVE SNOW!

Laura’s Dad chose the direction and we headed off the main road and further into the mountains. After a brief discussion it was agreed that we would find somewhere to walk instead of snowshoe, which had been the plan. I have no idea if it was planned or just luck but we drew up to the entrance of Ponderosa State Park and saw a couple of cars and a snowmobile track leading into the woods.

Although the park was closed we decided to follow the snowmobile tracks on foot and before I knew it Laura’s Dad had run off ahead to ‘explore’ and Laura’s Mum had made an excuse to walk behind. I never suspected a thing; I was just enjoying the walk in the snow.

As we approached an opening in the trees you could hear the river running by and a bridge over the river provided the perfect crossing and opportunity to admire the winter wonderland. I was in my snow heaven.

As we got to the bridge, I noticed what looked like heart shaped lights on the snow and thinking someone had dropped them, Laura and I took a closer look. No sooner had I gotten to the lights, Laura dropped to her knee.


I was so surprised, I was instantly relieved of my cold, burst into tears and hugged my beautiful fiancée till I stopped. What I didn't realise was hiding in the bushes was Laura’s Dad! So much for exploring – he had gone ahead to set up!

And Laura’s Mum wasn't just walking behind, she was taking photos the whole time – it really was a family proposal and that made it all the more special.

I can’t explain the location as anything more than a winter wonderland - snow covered trees, the running river, partly frozen over, the silence, the beauty, the breath-taking view, being completely alone – it was one of the most amazing places I have had the pleasure of being in.

After I had recovered and the photo session was over we strolled further into the forest and had so much fun making snow angels and trying to get the ‘perfect’ jumping photo – if there is such a thing.

Laura and I did it, Laura’s Dad and I did it, Laura’s parents did it – we were laughing so much! I mean when the last time you just ‘jumped for joy’?! It’s liberating!

Having considered just staying in the car to sleep and let the Smith family go alone to enjoy the walk I am so glad that the medicine kept the flu at bay long enough to get out and enjoy what will be referred to as the most ‘Romantic Walk’ I will EVER take. It was perfect, Laura was perfect, the snowy weather was perfect, the location was perfect, the parental film/camera skills were perfect – it was PERFECT!

I could not be happier to finally call Laura my Fiancée instead of Girlfriend, to use any chance to flash my gorgeous (if I say so myself) ring to everyone and anyone and follow it up with how amazing, wonderful, incredible and perfect my Fiancée is!

If I was proposing to myself I wouldn't have done anything differently :) and was secretly (maybe not so secretly) I was over-the-moon that Laura picked that time and place that is so special to us over New York. While I’m sure that would have been amazing, there was nothing better than sharing the moment with my fantastic in-laws to be and to have the secluded area to ourselves. It also meant I could flash my ring when Laura was telling her friends about the engagement for the rest of the trip. If I haven’t mentioned it before, it was ALL PERFECT!!!!

And now the wedding planning fun begins!!!