Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thursdays are my favorite day

No, it has nothing to do with the fact that the weekend is almost here.

It has something to do with this:

Here in South Africa, almost anyone who makes any decent amount of money has a maid. Hiring a maid is not expensive because there are so many people who need a job and are willing to work as a maid. Some people have someone who comes to their house every day of the week and cleans, does laundry, etc. Some have a live-in maid who is literally there all the time; some may even have their maid cook or take car of young kids.

When I first moved to South Africa, I lived with a family who had a live-in maid. I don't think I ever publicly said this but: I NEVER did laundry. It was a dream come true. I helped out around the house where I could, so I was a good house guest, but actually, most of the time, I couldn't find anything to do (cleaning wise).

Well, I figured that once I got married those days were over. My husband is busy finishing his law degree and although we both have jobs, we decided that we didn't need to spend our small income on someone cleaning our little one bedroom place. But through a series of very fortuitous events, we have a maid who comes every Friday!
She cleans the house (I purposely plan my cooking so that major cooking is done on Thursday nights...tonight's menu: Badia-seasoned and lime chicken, brown rice and black beans, garden salad, and garlic bread) and does the laundry (which is an extra big deal here in SA since people don't use tumble dryers...they hang dry everything and then iron it all! Seriously, ironing is the worst.). Not to brag or anything, but it is glorious! So, Thursday are my favorite day because I can let all cleanliness and order go to...what's the phrase?...well, they just don't happen in our house. :)

Have you ever had a maid? What would you most like a maid for, if you could have one?

(If it'll make all you maid-less people out there feel better, if and when we move back to the US, I am going to cry the first time I have to pick up a mop.)


Friday, January 25, 2013

Blogging rules


Sorry for my absence this week. I got sick early on in the week and managed to muster the strength to get to work on Friday (woohoo - can you hear the sarcasm?), and at the moment, that's the only place where I have internet access. (Side note: I hate getting sick in summer. It just doesn't feel right. Winter is understandable, however. Anyone agree with me?)

I'll keep posting wedding photos soon, but I want to share a post from another blog that I read. Dinner: A Love Story is a blog all about dinners: what to cook, dinner table topics, etc. Jenny Rosenstrach writes practically, encouragingly, and about some really cool recipes. Unlike me, she studied something related to writing in college, so she's got a jump start on a lot of us in the blogging department. But she wrote this post about nine of her blogging "rules". I think they are fantastic! I will be slowly trying to implement them one by one here. :)

Read her thoughts here .

What do you think of them? Are you a professional writer? Amateur? Famous blogger wanna-be?

And also, I've left you a few sweet images for the weekend; try them out or just drool over them.


I'm taking a cupcake making class this Saturday! Maybe I'll learn to make this!

Or these! I'll always take anything made with white chocolate.

And do these not scream summer?! Sorry Northern Hemispherians; it's summer here in the south. Something you can look forward to. :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Our wedding - first look

Well, our "first look" wasn't quite a "look". I wanted a picture before the wedding with both of us in it and holding hands, but without seeing each other. Our photographer searched the venue for the perfect spot and I loved what she came up with! It shows off the venue nicely, but mostly, it was one of my favorite moments of the day!
Gordon and I decided not to even talk throughout the day while we were getting ready and spending time with our bridal party, so it was so wonderful to just hold his hand for a minute and hear his voice. Reassuring, calming, exciting are all words that described the moment. We both said "I love you" a couple times and "see you soon!" It was the perfect thing to do just before walking down the isle. I love how the pictures capture the excitement and eagerness in our faces. Really, it was one of my favorite moments in the day.


I love him. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Our wedding - the details

I think it's time I start posting some of our wedding pictures! (I'm assuming you would like to see.) I'll be posting according to how our photographer listed/categorized the pictures - I think it gives a good feel of the wedding.

So today's feature: the details. These are the small touches we made to create our look and feel and to make the whole affair feel personal. We chose black and white as our colours; we wanted a very classic, timeless, almost 1940s kind of feel. Once we choose our venue, that really shaped everything. I think the black and white kept the 1940s feel but that's about it (ideas morphed as the planning continued); c'est la vie. Our venue was this place. We absolutely fell in love with it when we saw it! It is stunning. Classic but not old looking. Large enough for our guests, but it still felt intimate. We hired the whole place for our wedding which gave guests the opportunity to explore. It was the most beautiful day and the venue only enhanced that.

We kept the tables clean and simple: white table clothes, black napkins, white plates with black under plates, and our centerpieces (featured below). Our reception tables were set in three different areas that all connected with open doors - two lounges (living rooms) and the veranda. It kept everyone together but still gave each room a different feel.  

We accented each napkin with just a small piece of lace. 

For table numbers, I wrote each number on a wine label that was put on a bottle of red wine. Every number had a description to go with it; for example: "1 : The number of times we'll say I do" or "7 - Our anniversary".  We had to get really creative with some of the higher numbers. 

For our centerpieces, we found creme coloured (although they look really white in the picture) crepe-paper lanterns, that had charming vintage patterns on them. Each lantern was topped with three white Chrysanthemums, a bit of baby's breath, and surrounded by greenery. Also, each lantern had a small LED light hanging from the inside, so once evening came, they glowed. 

Again, because our venue was already so stunning, I wanted to keep all decor (including the flowers) simple, clean, and classic. For both the bridesmaids and bridal bouquets we used white Chrysanthemums, various colour roses, and something similar to baby's breath but I can't remember what it's called; the bridal bouquet was just a fuller version of the bridesmaids' bouquets. The stems of each bridesmaids' bouquet was wrapped in creme coloured ribbon, and the stems of my bouquet were covered in black ribbon. And I must mention: my mom and some friends did all the bouquets! It was such a fun and special afternoon, putting all these together. And it really didn't take that long (but if you want to do your own flowers, definitely have a couple people who know what they are doing).

Our programs were designed by my maid of honour and our petal cones were done by my mom and mother-in-law.

One of the details that I was (and still am) most excited about, and that really meant the most, was this. We had our vows printed on an A3 canvas (but we didn't see them before the wedding) and then had all our guests sign around them, like witnesses. We now have the canvas hanging in our living room! It is so moving to reread them often and to remember who all was with us on that day.

We also had a finger-print tree! My aunt surprised us and had this made for us. She sent it all the way from London!


Ok, this was totally a Pinterest idea. I saw it and loved it! And what made ours special was that my dad built it for us. 

Again, Pinterest. One of my bridesmaids who is very artistic wrote these for us. It is so great to involve lots of people in the preparations - it helps you and they feel loved! 

If you know anything about me, you will know that I have THE biggest sweet tooth in the world. (No, seriously. It's a bit of a problem.) So of course, we had to have a sweets bar! Another one my bridesmaids hand wrote these signs for us!  

Our cake topper: instead of a large cake to cut, we had a very large cupcake with white, buttercream, rose-patterned frosting. (All the guests also had cupcakes to eat.) Again, a bridesmaid made the topper for us. (I was so blessed to have such talented ladies surrounding me!) 

Lastly, the message my bridesmaids sent to Gordon just before the ceremony started. :)

Next up: Our "first look"!



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

On married life - so far

Well, husband and I have been married just over a month now. In some ways, it has all felt totally normal and natural – we’re best friends so what’s weird about now living together and being with each other every day? Nothing. At the same time, it still feels like the wedding was yesterday and everything is completely new. (I guess I need to mention before I continue: Both husband and I are Christians – real disciples of Jesus – so we chose to not live or sleep together until we were married.)
The 38 days that we have been husband and wife have been new, exciting, so fun, transitional (is that even a word?), an adjustment, wonderful, and happy.

Things I have instantly loved about being married (especially to Gordon):
-          We’re with each other all the time! Now that the holidays are over and life is getting back to normal, we, unfortunately, cannot sit around all day and bask in each other’s presence. But getting to see each other first thing in the morning (and yes we both wake up with breath that smells like fresh mint and the perfect bedhead) and the second before we fall asleep and coming home to each other, really is a blessing.
-          We have so much fun! Not that we didn’t have fun before we were married, but when we were single, our time together was planned – even if it was just going to sit in a coffee shop. Still planned. Now that we’re married, the humour and fun also comes from the unplanned – from the late night humour while getting ready for bed; from the unknown habits and preferences each other has that you’re just learning about; or from watching new TV series you discover together. (COMMUNITY. I know we’re jumping on the bandwagon REALLY late, but better late than never. How did I not see this sooner?!)
-          It brings me closer to God; whether naturally or by force. What I mean is this: marriage, as designed by God, brings two people together in a covenant before God, that is supposed to be a reflection of Jesus's relationship with the church.  The constant building and growing towards this, just naturally brings each of you closer in relationship to God. Marriage is also new territory, something we have zero experience in, and a bit uncomfortable at times in the beginning, so I am compelled to turn to God for direction, encouragement, and instruction. I honestly don’t know how we could be married without the bible as our standard. It settles everything.
-          No more late night drives home. Yay! When we were dating (and especially the last few months of our engagement), life was so busy that we were exhausted from trying to juggle everything (work, university, exams, ministry, dance lessons…those are important, you know) and still spend time with each other. And since we lived about 20 minutes apart, someone was always driving home after 9:30pm. (I know that doesn’t sound late but when you leave your house at 6am and don’t come home till 10pm every day, one does get tired that early; plus, driving in Joburg anywhere past that time is not ideal.)
-          Making traditions. This is something I’ve had to remember to embrace because I find myself wanting to make it feel just like my parents’ home. (See Christmas post) But it actually is really fun realizing what we already are making into weekly or daily traditions. (Friday [or Saturday…part of the tradition is being flexible] night homemade pizza and movie night; kisses before bed or before you leave the house, even if the other one is still sleeping [which is usually me] :) )
-          Our little house! It is becoming more and more a home and the place that we love to retreat to and feel safe in. We love having people over for dinner and braais (South African barbeques) and coffee. And I can finally start putting my Pinteresting into practice!

Things that I am adjusting to:
-          My husband is a tall, handsome, and muscular guy who eats a lot more than me. I have to work on by dinner portions; they still keep coming out a bit too small.
-          No internet. This actually has nothing to do with being married, but not having internet at a time when I extra want to stay in touch with my family and friends is challenging. (We actually signed a contract in November for internet, but the internet company comes from the same family as sloths, so we have yet to receive it.)
-          It’s just an adjustment. I know that’s not anything specific, but sometimes I can’t pinpoint what exactly is the adjustment. As my husband said, “It’s just different”. (We love marriage and each other, it’s just different.) Embarrassingly, I think I make it more of an adjustment when I get overly emotional about something; but nonetheless, extreme emotions in tight quarters are an adjustment that come with the territory – and that no one really warns you about. (I have to mention that Gordon has been extremely kind and patient throughout this.)

If you are newly married, from the wisdom I have gathered in one month, my advice is the following:
-          Relax. It’s not a big. What’s not a big deal, you may ask. Whatever you’re freaking out about. And it’s only been a month. I remind myself of these things often.
-          Have fun. When in doubt, when I start getting emotional, just do something fun.
-          Kiss a lot. (That pretty much always helps everything.) :)
-          Watch Community often.
-          Spend lots of time with other people too. This keeps you from the potential new married bubble of selfishness and is a lot of fun.
-          Pray LOTS! (This is a constant point of improvement.) Pray by yourself, pray together. Pray.
-          A weekly pizza and movie night is a must.

I mostly wrote all those to remind myself. Maybe you were reminded of something too?

Young marrieds out there: thoughts? Shared experiences? What have you learned? What advice can you share? If you are newly married, I hope you are feeling more in love than ever before and learning to enjoy every moment!

Love, from the southern hemisphere,

Ellie Fulton 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

the festive season

Hope everyone had a wonderful (and restful) holiday season! It’s funny how holidays are often not as relaxing and restful as you plan (but wonderful nonetheless).

We came back from our honeymoon (Cape Town) in mid-December and then took off to Durban on Christmas Eve; spending the week there. We had a wonderful and warm time in the sun, on the beach, and celebrating our first Christmas together. Everything was spectacular until the day before we were supposed to leave. In a surfing accident, my husband of three weeks tore a golf-ball size junk out of his leg and landed in the ER with 15 stitches. (At least it wasn't on our honeymoon!)

All the while, we have been having so much fun settling into our new life (and little home) together…more on all that to come!

Here are a few pictures from Durban and our honeymoon, if you’d like to see.

EF (Elizabeth/Ellie/Elle Fulton...I'm still trying out all the combos) :)

Honeymooning in Cape Town - so wonderful, relaxing, and warm!

Our first Christmas tree! I can't remember why G needed a knife for this. 

Our first Christmas! Christmas after a wedding is a small but exciting affair. 

We stayed with some friends in Durban over  Christmas; this was their drift-wood Christmas tree. I love it.

Rainbow over the Indian Ocean

Honeymoon sunset


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Cheers to 2013!

Happy New Year!

2012 was quite a year (uh, we got married!)! We can’t wait to see what 2013 has in store.

Sending loads of fun, prayers, and love to all our family and friends around the world.


 May you see God work wondrously in your life this year!

Mr and Mrs Fulton