The cake is a lie.

  1. Portal.  What starts off as an intriguing puzzle game quickly becomes a compelling, and chilling adventure.  A unique premise, mind-bending physics and a villain with the sassiest one-liners ever.  I love this game so much I had Companion Cube bride and groom wedding cake toppers.
  2. Portal 2. Picks up where Portal 1 left off, and is every bit as awesome, shedding a lot of light on the events leading up to the first game.  It was a longer game than I was expecting (much to my delight), but kept me gripped and guessing until the very end.  The fantastic two-player mode was a great new development also.  Plus, I loved the hilarious new character Wheatley, voiced brilliantly by Stephen Merchant.
  3. Spyro the Dragon. I have such fond memories of playing this in the late 90’s on my super swanky PS1.  Charming, fun, and in my opinion a really well-made game considering its age.
  4. Little Big Adventure 1 & 2. A little-known series of games with somewhat of a cult following, these were THE games of my childhood.  Both excellent games, though the second is markedly improved in terms of graphics and game-play.  Fantastic story-lines and wonderful characters.  I feel sad on a daily basis that they never made a third.
  5. The Half-Life series (including all spin-offs: Opposing Force, Blue Shift). Before Portal there was Half-Life.  I have grouped them all together only because they’d take up half my list otherwise.  Phenomenal story-line (I don’t want to give anything away, just trust me), chilling soundtrack, BADASS antagonist, and great first person game-play (though amusingly in the first game the footstep sound effects make it sound like you have three legs).
  6. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Not my usual choice of game, but this one takes me back to my uni days, when I used to while away whole afternoons playing it with my boyfriend.  Thankfully he was better at the art of seduction than CJ (in that he didn’t buy me a giant dildo on our first date), and he’s now my husband.
  7. Call of Duty. I’m grouping the series together, as they’re all good in their own ways.  Again, I never expected this to be my cup of tea, but I basically adopted an ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ philosophy when everyone was playing it at uni.  And I got scarily good.  My husband won’t even play against me anymore, but we do make a kick-ass team on the zombie levels (which are ridiculously addictive, just to warn you).
  8. Pacman.  THE best arcade game.  We recently hooked our computer up to a projector and had an epic giant tournament.  Best. Day. Ever.
    pacman
  9. Super Mario Bros. Yes, Mario 64 came along in 3d and blew everyone’s minds, and yes, Mario Galaxy is amazing, but in my opinion, you just can’t beat the old-school 2d, platform Mario.
  10. Mario Kart. Not only do I love this game, but I play to win.  No mercy.  To the point that no-one will play with me.  Competitive, me?
  11. Zelda: Majora’s Mask. I know this is somewhat of a controversial choice, but this is by far my favourite of the Zelda series.  It’s a beautifully dark, weird game, with a great story and interesting game-play (in particular, the swimming is the best I’ve ever experienced in a video game).

*I couldn’t narrow it down to 10!

 

 

hair struggles

The struggle is real.

  1. When you leave the hairdressers you will look like a sleek, shimmering goddess. But just before that there will come the awkward time that all curly girls hate.  Blow-dry time.  Also known as the moment when you transform from a normal human into Chewbacca.  When my hair was longer it increased in volume so much that the hairdresser had to call for back-up.  It still took 2 people 45 minutes to straighten my hair.  So there’s that.
  2. Brushing your hair when it’s dry is a fool’s errand, so your only hairbrush will live in the shower. It will at all times look like a disgusting wet rodent.
  3. When you accidentally leave your Tangle Teezer at a friends’ house and have to use a normal hairbrush.  Disaster.
  4. Your other half can pretty much forget about romantically running their fingers through your hair. That is unless they never want to see their hand again.
  5. You can never have a fringe. Therefore will never look like Zooey Deschanel.  *Sobs and spends numerous hours wondering whether a clip-in fringe will look ridiculous.  Concludes that, yes, it will.  Sobs some more.*
  6. Haircuts have to be a strategically planned combination of layers and feathering, otherwise you can expect to end up with the dreaded ‘triangle head’. This also means you’re more limited when it comes to following trends.  Thank goodness fabulous, sassy curls will always be in style!
  7. Curly hair style tips will always be geared at either Afro-Caribbean or wavy hair. Take note women’s mags, there are many types of curls and we’d all like to be represented please!
  8. This Catch 22: curly hair is drier than straight hair, so you’re supposed to wash it less (some people recommend once a week). But how is this possible when after just 2 days your hair has clumped together to form one big super dreadlock?
  9. Curly hair is more porous, so absorbs smells more. Which is wonderful when your hair is freshly washed and smells like flowers and sunshine, but not so wonderful when you’ve been around cooking food/smokers, or gone to the pub/anywhere outside your house.
  10. People who need a vocabulary lesson. Take note people: frizzy is not another word for curly.
  11. Being asked the same questions by every new person you meet. Yes, I sometimes straighten it…I get it from my dad’s side of the family…no, it’s not a perm, etc…
  12. You’ll never be able to wake up late, run your fingers through your hair and be out the door. There’s bed-head, and then there’s leaving the house looking like Sideshow Bob.
  13. Being unable to wear a top hat without being called ‘Slash’. Granted this doesn’t happen often, but I’ve found myself in this situation enough that I feel I can mention it.
  14. Having to tie your hair back before bed unless you want to suffocate your partner, or have them wake up with your hair in their mouth. Seriously, it’s not as if we have more hair than other people, it just somehow gets EVERYWHERE.
  15. Being just too darn fabulous. Because let’s face it, you may have dreamed of Brazillian blow-dries and longed for straight hair as a kid, but now you love your beautiful curls.  Work it baby!

Picking a wedding venue can be a daunting experience.  Your venue sets the tone for your entire wedding, and it’s a huge commitment in terms of cost.  Speaking as someone who booked a venue then had a complete change of heart, the best advice I can give is to really do your research.  What are you prepared to spend?  What’s important to you in a venue?  Have all of this in mind before you start looking, but be open to new suggestions as well.

Here are a few helpful things to bear in mind when making your decision:

  1. Are there any restrictions in terms of timing?  What time can your evening reception run to?  Does the music need to be turned down by a certain time?  What time will you have the function room from in the morning?
  2. When you’re close to picking your venue and booking a date, make sure you speak to your local registrars first. Check availability and cost before you sign anything, and I would recommend that you book them before the venue.
  3. Find out exactly what’s included in the package. Be sure to ask about extra costs, such as a price per head for extra guests etc.
  4. If you want something quirky, like your cat to walk you down the aisle (believe it or not, a genuine request I had when I was a wedding coordinator!), make sure you discuss this before signing a contract.  Make sure any special requests that the venue agrees to are written into your contract, in case your wedding coordinator leaves, or the management team changes.
  5. Maximum capacities. There’s no point falling in love with a small, cozy venue, if you want a huge wedding for 300 people.
  6. Don’t book anything without seeing the venue first. Pictures can look a lot different, and a good wedding coordinator will not press you to pay a deposit before you’ve had a face-to-face meeting.
  7. Do you like the staff? You will work closely with your wedding coordinator for several months, and the overall feel of the place will play a very big part in your enjoyment on the day.  If you’re torn between two venues, why not book a meal at both and compare your experiences?  Trust your gut with this one.
  8. Ask about the flow and layout of the day. For example, will the whole day take place in one function room?  If so, how much time will be needed to transform the room between the ceremony and the wedding breakfast?  This will influence how long (and where) your drinks reception will be, and it’s important to be realistic about this.  Is there a private bar in your function room, or will guests have to go to the main bar?  If any part of the day takes place outside, what is the contingency plan for rain?
  9. The best advice I can offer is to see as many venues as possible. Chances are you’ll find that they all offer similar things in terms of packages and prices, but seeing all your options will give you a very clear idea of what you want (and what you don’t).
  10. If you’re flexible on your date look into midweek and off-season discounts. Bear in mind that big dates (Valentine’s Day and NYE for example) will be a lot more expensive.
  11. Ask about fun little extras that will personalise your day, like having signature his ‘n’ hers cocktails on sale at the bar.  Chances are the venue will be excited to try something new.
  12. Accommodation is an important one to think about.  If your venue is a hotel, can they offer a group discount for some of your wedding guests?  Is the bridal suite included in the package?  Make sure you ask to see it as well.  If your venue is not a hotel, look into nearby accommodation and check out prices.
  13. Make sure you factor transport into your budget if your wedding is taking place in more than one location.  To travel from the ceremony to our reception we hired a coach for our guests, and asked a family member to drive us in his vintage VW camper van (which we decorated with bunting, and poly ribbon).

bunting inside camper van

Please let me know in the comments if there’s anything I haven’t covered.  I’m happy to answer any questions!

Table plan

Spreadsheets.  The side of wedding planning you don’t see on Pinterest, but they will be your new best friend!

If you have found this post, the chances are you’re planning your wedding.  Congratulations!  Everyone’s experience of planning a wedding will be different, but I wanted this post go into some of the minutiae of the process.

As a former wedding co-ordinator for several well-known hotel chains, I can guarantee these tips will make everyone’s life so much easier.  Please bear in mind however, that my experience is limited only to hotel weddings, and every wedding co-ordinator does things differently, so not all of these points will apply to you.

This will be the first of many wedding-related posts, and I will share some details about the experience of planning my own wedding as well.  I hope you find them useful, and please feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.  Most importantly, please remember that planning a wedding should be a joyful time, so as hard as it may seem, try not to sweat the small stuff.

Know that you have a team of people supporting you (the staff at your venue, as well as your loved ones), and make sure you take a step back if it all gets a bit much.  If things start getting a bit intense, take your other half out for a date night, and make it a wedding-talk free evening.  It will do you both the world of good, I promise.

Know that everything will come together, and enjoy every minute!  Without further ado, here are my top tips to minimise stress:

  1. Please, please, for the love of everything be consistent with your names. Your wedding co-ordinator will most likely do your place cards and table plan for you (subject to the package you choose), but she will not know that your Grandmother’s name is Flo, or that your best man’s nickname is Spuds.  Please stick to one name on any lists you provide, or in correspondence, otherwise a frantic process of elimination will ensue.
  2. When you give your co-ordinator your guest list, my recommended format is a spreadsheet (please not handwritten!). It will be so much easier for you to put together as you can cut and paste people to move them around, plus spreadsheets are basically porn to events co-ordinators.  Trust me.  Divide your list into each table, and ideally write down the names in the order you’d like them to be sat.  Put a note by the person’s name if they are a wheelchair user, or need a highchair as this will help with the overall layout of the room and make sure your guests are as comfortable as possible.  From that the place cards and table plan will be a piece of cake for them to make, and it eliminates any risk of error.
  3. Maximum capacities are there for a reason. No you cannot sneak just one more person in.  No, you cannot put a child on someone’s lap, and yes, babies count as people too.  They may be small, but they have to sit somewhere.  So count everyone, and don’t think you can smuggle extras in on the day.
  4. If you have the choice between picking one food option for everyone, or collecting pre-orders from your guests, definitely do the former. Ask your guests to specify meat or veggie, and to make you aware of any special dietary requirements when they RSVP, but keep it simple.  Believe me, it will make your life so much easier.  For some reason people find it impossible to choose what they’re going to eat 6 months ahead of time, and chasing last minute menus is more of a headache than it’s worth.
  5. Your wedding co-ordinator and the staff at the hotel will do a lot for you, so try not to get stressed over small details as you get close to the wedding. With centerpieces and decorations, as hard as it may be to hand over, you will not have the time to do setup yourself on the day, and you don’t want your bridal party distracted with it in the morning.  You will have a ‘final details’ meeting with your co-ordinator near the wedding, when you will be able to hand over all your decorations etc. and go through, in detail how you want the room to look.
  6. Your wedding co-ordinator will create a function sheet for your big day, which is essentially all the information about your wedding, and a full timeline, including instructions for the waiting staff. A good function sheet will cover all bases, so give as much information as you can, as well as contact information for all the key people (suppliers, best man etc.).
  7. Be honest about any concerns or questions you have. That’s what your wedding co-ordinator is there for, and chances are they will have dealt with it all before.
  8. Buy them a thank-you card. They will have spent hours working behind the scenes to make your vision come to life and will think of almost nothing else in the week leading up to it.  If they’re anything like me they will come to feel personally invested, so it will mean the world to them if you give them a small gesture of your thanks.

gilmore3

As much as I tip my (top) hat to Amy Sherman-Palladino, there are many things I wish we’d seen during the show.  Here’s just a short list:

  1. Rory and Lorelai going wedding dress shopping in ‘Hammers and Veils’.  This would have been a great scene, plus, y’know, we’d get to see Lorelai in pretty wedding dresses.  Enough said.
  2. More of the Jess/Rory relationship. So much build-up.  So much chemistry.  Then they finally get together and it’s all rather anti-climactic and over fairly quickly.
  3. Rory’s lovely ‘tangerine’ bridesmaid dress.
  4. More of a rock ‘n’ roll story-line for Lane. I know she ends up happily married with a lovely family, but I still can’t help but wish we’d seen Hep Alien become a big success.  Which leads me to…
  5. …the Hep Alien album. $9,000 on recording equipment and they never recorded an album?
  6. Kirk’s mother. Because there’s no doubt Mama Gleason would have been hilarious.
  7. Much, much more of the fabled Gilmore birthday hoopla we hear so much about. Sure, we get glimpses, but I wanted more dammit!  Perhaps Lorelai could have thrown an off the charts party for Luke (which he would have grumbled about, but secretly loved, obvs).
  8. Some sort of Jess/Liz resolution. Just one scene where Jess meets Doula, and there’s a suggestion of some kind of relationship between them as a family would have been great.
  9. While we’re at it, a bit more Rory/Jess closure (and by closure I obviously mean them getting back together). The kiss at Truncheon, and Jess’ whole ‘it is what it is…you, me…’ malarky?  What’s that?  Oh right, the sound of my heart breaking.  Not cool ASP, not cool.
  10. Dean sorting himself out, going back to college, and actually getting over Rory. Love him or hate him, he deserved more than to become a bitter loser, pining after his high-school sweetheart.
  11. Lorelai’s ‘American Traveller’ interview, in all its cringe-worthy glory.
  12. Mia visiting Lorelai at the Dragonfly. It feels like something she would have wanted to see, and would have made for a nice episode.  I probably would have preferred this to the episode with her wedding, but maybe that’s just me.
  13. Some more background on Sookie. She was by far one of the best characters of the show, and yet we know so little about her.
  14. Drunk Sookie. Because her drunken misery in ‘A Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving’ was definitely a highlight of the whole episode.   Can you just imagine what her bachelorette party would have been like…
    MELISSA DANCE
  15. Lorelai finally snatching Dance Marathon victory away from Kirk. What song would she have done her victory lap to though?  Suggestions in the comments please!
  16. And perhaps the biggest one of all: Luke and Lorelai’s wedding. The perfect dress, the s’mores wedding cake, the vintage carousel, the cake topper with Luke’s EXACT butt.  Let’s face it, the Gilmore-Danes wedding would have been pretty spectacular.

Have I missed anything?  Was there anything on this list you don’t agree with?  If so, come chat to me in the comments, or over on Twitter!

lorelai
There are rumours flying around that a GG movie/new series is going to be announced at the upcoming ATX television festival. Crosses fingers and toes, and prays daily #bringbackGilmoreGirls

EDIT: Klaxons IT’S HAPPENING, PEOPLE. IT’S HAPPENING. WE WILL BE HEARING THOSE FAMOUS FINAL FOUR WORDS.

champagne