Sunday, 27 July 2014

Our Garden Transformation!

As wedding presents go the least expected one came from my (Sarah's) family. It goes without saying all the wedding presents we received were amazing, wonderful, thoughtful and appreciated but the transformation our garden went through was without a doubt the biggest, most thoughtful surprise.

Little did we know that when we left our house in the middle of June that we would be coming back to anything new. As we locked up and made sure everything was left tidy we had a quick look out at the garden and left. The garden looked like this:

However once my Mum arrived back from America she headed home, not to rest, to repack and head up to Birmingham with my Dad. Having taken 4 days off from work my Dad was joining a 2 man workforce who were to take our 'cell block' and turn it into this:

The work they put in over the 4 days is something we will forever be grateful for. We had drawn up plans with my Mum a few weekends before as she had seemed really interested in what we would do with the garden if we were to have grass. Little did we know we were actually drawing out plans fora garden we would shortly be getting!!!!

Then there was Andy our landscaper/gardener/builder/handyman and his Dad who popped round when my Mum was there to give us an idea for a quote - a quote that put it out of our reach for a few years - and then tell us he had so much work on the earliest he would be able to start was next April. At that point we were a little disappointed but accepted a garden would be a future plan not a short term plan. To note: My Mum had actually called Andy before and told him to lie to us as she had a plan.

Every challenge they faced - the fact the base of our garden was concrete not mud, the fact that our next door neighbour does shift work so they couldn't bang/drill etc until after after 3pm each day and the fact that it was peak summer so boiling hot has made us feel incredibly lucky.

We burst into tears the moment we saw the garden for the first time and we still have massive grins every time we sit out there or see it through a window. From the overall impact of having lawn to the fact that all the plants are pink and purple. Our love bird birdbath to our flying pigs, we love it all and it has seriously made our summer, in fact i'm sure it will make all our summers!

Our neighbours are watering the garden when we are working away and we are learning how to garden, having something to love and take care of has made this house even more amazing - something we never thought possible! We can't thank the aunts and uncles, my sister and her boyfriend and of course my parents for their generosity in funding the project and everyone who was involved in making it a reality. Seriously the best surprise we've ever had!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Sarah & Laura's Wedding: The Epic Vegas Bachelorette

Can't believe we were in Vegas this time last month!!! We want to go back to do it all again!

We managed to get our dresses on two planes, luckily Delta were really good, putting them in the first class coat room for the long flight to JFK, then on the second flight they blocked off an entire overhead compartment for them to be laid out!

Excited to go!
Sarah's mum surprised us by telling the pilot we were on our wedding trip, and we received glasses of champagne and a shout out over the intercom! It was SO cool!!

The trip was wholly uneventful and fun, at customs in NYC we had a group of 7 people - as the only American I went in the citizens line, and had the scare of my life - I went through a kiosk that printed me a slip with a big X on it - I was being refused entry until further investigation!! Feeling very sorry that I'd been so smug going into the locals line, I queued to be inspected. The people two groups ahead of me were sent into the dreaded customs questioning section - thank goodness when I got to the front, I was told it was likely because of my common name, and sent through with a smile. After all that, I still managed to get to baggage first and collect all 7 suitcases before anyone else showed!

We were pretty thrilled with arriving in the evening, nothing like going into Vegas with the lights and action everywhere! We got into our beautiful Strip View room in The Mirage, and went to a much needed sleep.

The next morning we waited for our party to arrive by the beautiful pool. It was SO hot at 39 degrees C - but as its dry heat, it was somehow less unpleasant than when its 10 degrees cooler in the UK! We met our lovely friends in the foyer, and Sarah and I had our first meal in America - at Sarah's request, the two floor Panda Express/McDonalds (now, plus Chipotle randomly!). She was in heaven!

I went off to Comic Con Las Vegas with Julia and Wally for a few hours - I've always wanted to go to one (I'm more nerdy than Sarah!) - and it was really fun. Little kids in Superhero costumes, adults in Superhero costumes, and Julia and I scored matching hair bows (mine is Star Wars!)

Upon our return, the last of our full time Vegas party arrived in my little brother Jason and bridesmaid Kate, so we got dressed to go to dinner. It was at The Sugar Factory, which was chosen for one reason:

The King Kong Sundae.

Luckily, the rest of the meal was also delicious - these badass fishbowl candy cocktails, the fried mac n cheese and tater tots we had... all so good!

No, those aren't both Laura's drinks!
Typically, we didn't leave enough time to get back to the Mirage and changed for the next bit of the evening - the limo ride to the Las Vegas sign!! Thankfully they were very accommodating and pushed back our time a bit. The lights were amazing, the sign was so great - it was wonderful to get a pic of the whole party together! Our friend Dave was on champagne duty, and we had a few glasses before our driver dropped half of us off at Hakkasan nightclub - to see none other than Calvin Harris!

My brother's awesome spot, Calvin was in Vegas as part of the EDC festival - so this was an opportunity not to be missed. Now, Sarah and I do NOT like ravey music, so the warm up act for Calvin was pretty painful - we were close to the front but it was PACKED - the songs had no words - and Calvin was 45 mins late!! By that time most of the group had retreated to by the bar - Sarah, Jason and I decided to give up and meet the rest of the group, but as soon as we got there.... ' Ladies and gentlemen, Calvin Harris!!!!!' REally? REally???

The bit to get us where we'd previously been was blocked off, so we rushed to find ourselves another spot. And that spot was perfect - at the top of a staircase that led to the pit, so we could see over the entire Vegas megaclub - it was incredible! We knew so many of his songs, and had such a great view - it was honestly amazing and well worth enduring the ridiculous word-less music.

The next morning was again spent by the pool, until we with Wally and Julia decided to walk the strip in search of the Diet Coke store. It was so hot and so long, but worth it - we got DC earrings! And keychains! And Christmas ornaments! And an actual DC!! (from Walgreens obv, we aren't paying souvenir prices!)

Jesus drag Britney, you're way to pretty.
We'd learned our lesson from the previous night, planning too much in, and instead went to a show. The girls saw Diva's, which is a drag show of Las Vegas legends!! Amazing. They were all so talented, Britney was annoyingly gorgeous, and we had them all sign a picture afterwards! Sarah and I had the most alcoholic drink ever too, woah. Afterwards we danced to this weird 00's rock band, and finished in the Beatles Revolution bar.
We had a special treat for the third day, our friend Sarah (another Sarah!!) had flown in to spend the last day with us!! And another special thing, our lovely bridesmaids threw us a little bridal shower! Kate organised it and supplied us with delicious alcoholic cupcakes, Sarah's sister Fiona made an amazing quiz for everyone to take that had topics we loved like Diet Coke, Harry Potter, Rocky Horror. Prize for funniest answers goes to my brother, who thought the dance in Rocky Horror is not the Time Warp, but in fact the 'Stanky Leg'. She also gave us this beautiful book with pictures of her sister and her new sister (way to make us cry!). Then Julia handed out 10 disposable cameras for people to use throughout the holiday - such a great idea, and can't WAIT to see them developed!

We got some lovely gifts, our friends Mel and Doug gave us socks that said BRIDE on them which we LOVED, and Alison and Dave gave us gummy boobs and butterscotch chocolate...other bits haha. We felt so special during our shower and loved it!

Our Vegas peeps!
And finally, the Pink night. Sarah wrote about it here, so I'm going to let you read that, then come back here to watch this lovely video of our bull riding haha!! Can it be called riding??

The view from Ghost Bar was STUNNING!
Next stop, Boise Idaho!!!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Part 1: The Pink Night in Vegas!

After a quick run through of our highlights we thought we'd go through the stories, trying to recount the event from memories and photos. The two and bit weeks seemed to whizz by so fast that we've never been more grateful for the fact that  nowadays every moment is recorded in some way!

So first out the memory bank is The Pink Night in Vegas or our Bachelorette! It was actually the last night we had in Vegas and followed our bridal party that had been held earlier that day, that in itself is a whole other story.

This Pink night stands out for all the right Vegas reasons.

We had thought about doing a Superhero and Villains theme but then in boiling hot Vegas heat and with limited luggage the idea soon became impractical. We put it to our Bridesmaids to help sort out the theme and after a few days they came back with 'PINK'.

My face says it all!
It was a simple theme that everyone could interpret in their won way and the range of pink went from florescent to baby pink and everything in between. The most impressive outfit award went to S's Mum and Aunt however. As the group waited for the oldest members of our party we made sure everyone had their pink or purple sunglasses that we had personalised for the trip, but midway through we stopped for the arrival of something incredibly pink. My Mum and Aunt stepped out of the lift wearing homemade capes with 'Super Mum' and 'Super Aunt' - AMAZING! Hands down BEST OUTFITS!

After throwing some attitude outside the lifts we made our way to the Friends cafe that had been constructed in the Mirage and produced these beauty's:
Before we changed

And after! Can you spot us?

Led by our wonderful Bridesmaid Alison and her ever-so-helpful (and our Usher) boyfriend Dave, we were taken from our hotel to a 'dive-bar' at The Venetian. The view out over the strip was incredible and there was no denying we were on Vegas strip. At the bar we were plied with alcohol and made to ride a mechanical bull (OK maybe we wanted to). We danced, we sung, we made Kevin the pink unicorn dance on a pole and by the time we were being shepherded into taxis we were in full party mode.

The next destination was the Ghost Bar. Free entry for women (Vegas is definitely a tad sexist against men!), free drinks for women (see I told you) and an unbeatable view of the Vegas strip from above. The bar itself was really strict and made us deflate Kevin :( we also couldn't film - shame as dance moves from some of our party were worth recording! It was a beautiful place to party, we loved the music and it wasn't overcrowded - well from memory :)

It's what all great nights should include!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

We're Back as Mrs & Mrs Smith!

So we're back, we're MARRIED and we are so excited to finally have a chance to update this blog of ours! Thank you for sticking with us in our absence, we hope you have enjoyed the pictures on Instagram and intermittent twitter updates!

It is fair to say we had the time of our lives (queue music) and we did it surrounded by the friends and family we love the most. As you will know from our previous post, we crammed a fair bit into our two and a half weeks and with over 3000 photos collected from our nearest and dearest - we will be reliving the experience for weeks to come, which coincidentally is when our official photos are due back!

We still haven't figured out quite how best to share the memories in the blog but we thought we would start with a quick run down of our top 10 highlights (in no real order, besides of course the first one!), then we'll follow this up with the stories in the coming weeks!

1) The Wedding:
It was perfect. The entire day was fabulous but the wedding came together better than we could have dreamed. From the decoration in our mountain hideout to the flower heart that hung above our heads at the ceremony. Looking out a sea of faces, some wiping away tears, and then into the eyes of my gorgeous wife looking more beautiful than I have ever seen her. This is the stuff of love songs and dreams and in the words of John Legend I couldn't stop saying 'all of me, loves all of you'.
The kiss!

2) First look, and bridal photo shoot pre-Wedding:
It was just us, well us and our amazing photographers, but in our own world. From our first look to our separation to walk down the aisle I couldn't stop beaming.

The first professional pic we've seen!

3) The Pink Night in Vegas:
This night stands out for all the right Vegas reasons. A simple theme that united the group was helped with the addition of pink and purple wedding personalised sunglasses.
Our group all met in the Friends Cafe in Vegas

4) 4th of July Fireworks in McCall
My first and a trip down memory lane for my wife. This celebration brought an end to an amazing few days in the mountains and ended with an awesomely non-ironic patriotic chant of 'USA, USA, USA' - there was no denying where we were! Oh and I can't forget the mini firework display we held at our own cabin courtesy of L's little bro, Jason.
4th of July at McCall

5) Dinner / hanging out with Jason:
A notable event in itself but as Jas is a busy man and we haven't got to see much of him in our last few Boise trips so after fitting us with proper trainers at his New Balance store we headed for dinner (the seriously amazing 3 cheese mac and cheese at Applebee's) before checking out the new Boise Mall and being very impressed with the fountains that danced to music. Not quite the Bellagio but still worth seeing!

6) Calvin Harris in VEGAS!!!!
So this happened by chance - a few weeks before we went, Jason found out Calvin was playing at the EDC in Vegas and was doing an after show at Hakkasan. It was awesome!

7) Bridal Shower:
Vegas was brilliant! Everyday in Vegas was glorious sunshine, every night was a party, but on our final full day our marvelous Bridesmaid Kate had organised an area in the Mirage for a pool party with all our guests. My fantastic sister led the way with a pub quiz (I'll go into that more later) and we were presented alcoholic cupcakes.......and then the night was led by our wonderful Bridesmaid Alison and her ever-so-helpful (and our Usher) boyfriend Dave!
We were on top of the world, we rode a bull and we stuffed ourselves with cake! A great day all in all!

8) Pampering with our Mum's:
Once we had reunited with L's Mum on arrival in Boise we announced that we had a surprise and took our Mums off to have a pre-wedding manicure and pedicure at a cute boutique just outside the city. We had a great time coordinating colours, having a foot massage and recalling our Vegas memories as well as all the wedding plans. It was such a nice, calm time that allowed us to relax with our special ladies.

9) Being in the water (Jetskiing, whitewater rafting, floating the Boise river):
I knew Boise in the summer would be all about the outdoors, but in fact we were all about the water.

10) Pub quizzes:
I love a pub quiz and it turns out it runs in the family. As I mentioned my sister started our Bridal shower with one and I did my own pub quiz at our welcome BBQ. It was such a good way of getting everyone together!

Oh and then there was Seattle - so many highlights, Ice Cream alley in McCall, ChuckaRama, the Sugar Factory, the limo ride, the Mirage and it's amazing pools, Boo-Hood our friend at NY airport, the amazing gifts and messages, the wedding lodges, the after dinner dances, the speeches, the late night BBQ's, s'mores and beer pong.........

OK until next time, it's nice to be back!