A couple of months ago, Sam asked me out for breakfast. When we'd finished eating he suggested we visit the jewelry shops so I could show him what sort of rings I like. We'd talked about getting married one day, but that morning it suddenly got very real.
We strolled along the mall stopping at jewelry shops and trying on some rings. I was happy with all of them. Then we tried on the one. He loved it too and surprised me by purchasing it on lay-buy. When the sales woman asked it we were engaged yet he said a firm no.
I walked on air to the car but had to steady my nerves because the waiting had begun. I didn't know when or where the proposal would take place. My inner, insecure bitch whispered, he can still change his mind. No matter how often I told her to shut it, the thought would creep in late at night.
I figured that he wouldn't propose until just after or before Christmas, having totted up how many payments over how long. That way I could stop thinking about it until then.
Sun streamed through the bedroom window the morning of what was to become the big day. Sunlight always uplifts me and boosts my sense of optimism. Sam who is always up hours before me came into the room and asked if I’d like to go to Pelican’s Landing restaurant for lunch that day.
I assumed it must be because he has Thursday’s off work and it’s such a lovely day. Of course I was delighted because Pelican’s Landing in Williamstown is where he took me on our first proper dinner date, so it's a romantic spot for us.
We arrived at the restaurant and were shown to a table next to the water overlooking the pier. As usual he asked me what I’d like to drink. I wanted something bubbly to go with the sunshine and the view and the treat of being taken out for lunch. He ordered two glasses of Prosecco. That surprised me. He always gets a glass of Shiraz.
When the glasses came we clinked glasses as usual and he said ‘To us’. Again a surprise. Normally he’ll say ‘Tanti aguri’, or ‘Saluti’.
A moment after I sipped the crisp Prosecco he said, ‘There you go,’ as he put a mauve ring box tied with a satin ribbon on the table.
I gasped and looked to him to see his expression. He looked purposeful. He was doing it. I'm totally caught off guard. After nearly five years of being together, two of those living together while buying a house and doing it up, he was making the ultimate romantic commitment.
‘Will you marry me.’
An explosion of happiness hit me. Tears welled and I struggled to speak. I thought I said yes. I kissed and hugged him and then turned my attention to the box.
I undid the packaging, stopping occasionally to wipe away tears and put the ring on. It sparkled in the sunlight and threw rainbows of light across the white linen table cloth. It was stunning. I was bewitched.
‘Are you going to say Yes?’ Sam asked.
Wait, what? Didn’t I say Yes?
I think I did, but he was having a moment too and it didn’t register so I had to make sure the message was clear and not lost in the moment.
‘YES! Of course I’ll marry you. (pause) I will marry you.’
We kissed and hugged some more. Those sweet heartfelt kisses in front of a restaurant full of people, were emotionally very intimate. I forgot about the other diners and where I was. It was just like I'd read about, my world shrank to just him, me and our moment.
I looked at my ring about about ten times a minute as we ate our lunch and desert. After we walked hand in hand along the pier, recreating our first date. Later that day we had great fun ringing our family to share our happy news.
Yesterday I shared the news on Facebook and Instagram, the response has blown me away. Thank you so much to everyone who expressed their congratulations and wished us well. It's very touching and means so much.
But it you didn't see the ring yet. Here's a picture for you.
Thanks for stopping by to read our proposal story.
I've been waiting so long for spring to arrive. I began preparing the garden for it months ago in Autumn. New garden beds were created and planted. Being on a tight budget meant I couldn't afford advanced plants and that I needed to wait for my seedlings and baby cuttings to grow into plants. Not all the seedlings survived the winter. Only a few alyssum remain, but the pansies in wooden crates are doing really well.
The cuttings I stuck from from a pretty hydrangea have grown beautifully. No flowers yet, but the three bushes are expanding before my eyes.
My mother was a keen gardener so I had the privilege of playing in a gorgeous garden as a child. Mum's idea was to make little pictures in the garden when deciding where to plant things. I've followed her lead as best I can making the Fuchsia, that I rescued from a strangling vine, a center piece. Despite getting nipped by a late frost it's bushier than ever before.
I've planted a standard dwarf lilly pilly and glauca pencil pine either side of it. In front I recently planted white and yellow flag iris.
I lifted those just last week when thinning out a large clump in Mum's garden (which I maintain for Dad). They are already settling in. There are new green shoots sticking up past where I cut the old leaves. I must get a stronger stake on the lilly pillies, they're getting quite top heave with lush new growth.
My sister gave me some lambs ears from a substation clump in her garden. I grouped lots of bits and pieces and popped them in a couple of months ago. They looked pretty straggly to start but look at them now. The weeds are growing really well too, next job is to clear them out so they don't compete for water and nutrients.
This side of the back garden is coming along nicely. It's the view from my family room, kitchen and dining room. On warm mornings I take my mug of tea out to the back veranda and just look at everything.
This view of the whole back garden shows the gap where a Liquid Amber was. We had to take it out because the roots were blocking up our storm water pipe. I was so worried that I'd be sad but I don't miss it as much as I thought I would. The way the sun travels across the sky to the right of this garden angle means that I can put a vegetable garden there.
I can imagine tepees of climbing beans and potatoes in the foreground. Perhaps I'll plant some zucchini and pumpkins too. Sounds like work but I think it will be fun. I'll do a summer update once it's all underway.
Hope your enjoyed my spring garden tour. Thanks for stopping by.
Eleven years ago, I sat on a bridge the quaint little village of Shere, Sussex, England. I'm happy and relaxed two weeks into my first overseas trip. But I didn't begin that way. I was determined to go but very nervous. You see, if I wanted to do it, I had to go alone.
I'm so glad I was brave and made the leap. I saw so many wonderful things and had the best holiday ever. I later found out that Shere had been used as the setting for a couple of romantic comedy movies at least. What fun it was to see the pub, where I had eaten lunch, in the movie The Holiday. I relived memories eating a delicious meat pie with crisp pastry in that charming Old English pub.
If I'd been too scared to leave home I wouldn't have the memories. I was scared before going, it was nerve raking at times but it was absolutely worth every minute. I have some tips to help you make up your mind to just do it.
Decide where you want to go.
There's no point going somewhere for the sake of it. You'll never press the next button on that flight you're looking at. It has to be your heart's desire. When I went to England it was because I'd wanted to go for twenty years. I got married instead of travelling and the bug never left me. In the mean time I became a huge Jane Austen fan and I wanted to visit Chawton, where she lived, and see Bath where my favorite of her books, 'Persuasion' is set.
Take a solo holiday in your home country first.
I didn't start of my solo travels with an overseas trip. I worked up to it by accident. Most people don't know this about me but I get anxious just leaving the house. It took an invitation to a wedding across the country, that I really had to be at, to travel alone. I boarded the plane from my home city of Melbourne, Australia to Perth, collected my luggage, hired a car and navigated a strange city to my accommodation all on my own.
I wasn't calm but on high alert most of the time, however I think that is a good thing. You need to be more aware when travelling alone. There isn't a second set of eyes to help locate the things and places you're looking for. I found my own way to the wedding and enjoyed a brilliant evening with family. So glad I did it. The next day I drove through Perth on my way South to have a couple of nights in Fremantle. The hire car was great because I had everything with me on the back seat within easy reach, snacks, drinks, maps and information about where I was booked in for that night.
I learned that I could have a wonderful time alone in a country where I understood the language and it was still using a currency I was familiar with. I learned to deal with the mechanics of managing my suitcase drop-offs and pickups and filling out hire car contracts and gained confidence in making decisions on my own.
Plan your trip.
For each holiday I've taken alone, I always have everything booked before I leave home. I spend a lot of time researching on line to see where I want to go and what the attractions are. I book my hire car if I'll need one, train tickets and or airport transfers, and all the accommodation. I also download maps of where I'm staying and what I will be doing.
Make sure you have your phone sorted for travel. Check with your company to see what the costs will be to keep using your own phone for google maps, texts and calls. It may be cheaper to buy a new sim card on arrival and use your sim just until you get it.
Be alert and know where your things are.
Money is important when you're alone, you have to have back up so I keep most of my money in a money belt under my clothes.
I take my wallet and passport in a smaller bag that I take to the loo with me when I'm on the plane. When walking around looking at the sights, be it Fremantle, Australia or Milan, I wear an across the body bag and have it always in front of me. I never have it at the side or worse still on my back. Backpacks maybe easy to carry but never have valuables in them, like your camera or phone, because they're too easy to slit open by thieves. When having a cup of coffee or lunch in a cafe keep that bag on your lap. Don't take it off and put it over the back of a chair. Far to easy for it to get swiped.
Take a bus tour when you first go to a foreign country.
England isn't really that foreign to an Aussie but, it has different money, there's the British Accent to get used to. It also has really busy roads and is much more densely populated. The benefit of joining a tour on arrival included being met at the airport by the tour company, so no trying to find a cab or navigate public transport. Secondly I got to see a lot of London as we drove. I became familiar with the roads getting ready for my self drive holiday when the tour finished.
A tour guide is a valuable resource. They can answer any questions you have and will help you find anything you need. You don't even know what you'll be asking until you're there. Your curiosity will be ignited and it's great to have someone who knows all about where you are and what you're looking at.
The Tour took me to some really amazing places that I wouldn't have thought to go, like Stonehenge. It was more amazing than the photos on line show. Also we went to Sir Walter Scott's house, Abbotsford, so totally charming. I absolutely loved the bus tour that over delivered on expectations. I chummed up with a couple of other women travelling alone on the tour, in the evening we'd all talk about what we'd been doing that day. Excellent and I highly recommend this.
Be adventurous, well what is adventurous for you.
I'm not suggesting bungy jumping, I mean doing what is scary but not unreasonable. Like driving in London. This was more challenging that I like to admit. But I want to keep it real. After the tour was finished I picked up the car a short walk from the hotel I stayed in. I felt like it was the first time I'd driven a car. I got used to it fairly well but it never felt like driving around Melbourne. It was also better though because it was exciting. I had to do it so that I could visit Jane Austen's house and walk around bath for as long as I like. Later I got to sit in the Jane Austen Center tea rooms without having to rush and catch the tour bus.
First night of driving around Jane Austen country on my own I parked my hired Fiat and took a photo. We'd survived. It was the days before selfie sticks so I don't have a lot of me in my photos but I have glorious memories.
I went from Melbourne to Perth then I went to England and after that I took a huge leap and went to Thailand. It wasn't really a huge leap but it certainly felt that way.
Thailand was an adventure. I saw an elephant during the drive from the airport to the hotel. Oh my word, I was way out of my comfort zone. But the things I had learned about being a solo traveler really helped. I knew that fear was really a friend. It gave me adrenaline to be alert and excitement to experience something completely new. I came home feeling so grateful for the opportunity to visit a land where the people are so nice and helpful.
To sum up, do your research and take every precaution. I didn't go out at night alone and was always alert and careful when traveling but oh the wonders I've seen. For me it was absolutely worth the effort, to feel the fear and do it anyway.
The Scottish Billionaire's Secret Lover was inspired during my solo travels in England. So who knows, you might even get inspired to write a book.
When it's the end of the shopping week and I'm wanting to use up the vegetables that haven't yet been eaten, vegetables fritters is an easy and tasty meal to put those leftover pieces to good use. I served them with what was left of my salad vegetables tossed in a ranch dressing.
There's a bonus recipe for my GF ranch style dressing at the end of this post.
I have often enjoyed zucchini fritters when out for breakfast, if they are a gluten free version. This recipe is inspired by them. I add some curry to give them a little bit of something extra but other than that it's just the vegetables that shine. Cooking them until the fritters are deep golden to almost burnt adds a lovely caramelized flavor to this easy to knock together recipe.
It makes enough for two hungry people for lunch or six if being served with eggs and bacon at breakfast, which I think would be great with chutney. Mmmm love chutney.
The above picture shows all the ingredients which I'll also list below with the exception of garlic. I added that after I took the photo. I cut up the onion and capsicum, but grated the other vegetables. I had a zucchini that had seen better days, but it was fine. I just cut off the brown bits on the skin. I had a small piece of pumpkin and half a sweet potato floating around the veggie crisper so they were added too.
Normal recipes for zucchini fritters get you to drain the liquid out. I decided to leave it in and use that as the water for binding with buckwheat flour and the egg. I put in a teaspoon of baking powder also to give it some lightness.
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 red capsicum, diced
1 med zucchini grated (about a cup)
1 cup grated pumpkin
1 cup grated sweet potato
1 clove garlic finely chopped
one tsp curry paste of choice ( Coeliac sufferers should not use the brand in the picture it may contain traces of gluten. I don't know how I missed that when making them, but I was okay so dodged a bullet. )
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
olive oil for frying (About two to three tablespoons for a crispy fritter)
Preheat the pan over medium heat and add the oil. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. At first it will seem too dry but keep mixing the liquid will come out of the vegetables and make a nice batter.
Drop large serving spoon size dollops onto hot oil and spread out with the edge of the spoon, as I show above. Fry over medium-low heat until brown and set on the bottom. Turn and repeat. Keep hot in a low oven while you cook the rest.
I served our fritters with a simple ranch salad that I put together from iceberg lettuce, tomato, onion and ranch dressing that I mix for myself.
Bonus recipe GF Ranch Dressing
My ranch dressing is made from store bought GF mayonnaise (about quarter of a cup), a squeeze of lemon juice, a dessertspoon of Parmesan cheese and a teaspoon of gluten free Worcestershire sauce. I mix it all in a small glass bowl
Comment below if you have a favorite veggie fritter recipe to share. I'd love to be inspired. Do you have a secret ingredient that you like to add? Before you go, don't for get to share this link with anyone you think might like to read it.
Romance author and lifestyle blogger
My whole life is inspired by romance. I write romance novels of course but also love creating DIY's and decorating in a romantic style. I'm rejuvenating an old garden, including rescuing a couple of old rose bushes and planting new ones.