Grow Old With Me | Wedding Edition.

There it is! My post about one of the most special days in my life. The title is for our song during the ceremony, so it has a special meaning now. Tom Odell - Grow Old with Me.

The day before the wedding I went to the location with my sister and dad, so I could put our decoration on the tables and my sister was able to put some last effort into the wedding cake. My closest family hired a farm nearby the wedding location and it was great to spend my last hours as non-married woman, haha, with them. I am completely honest when I tell you I wasn't nervous at all. I was just anticipating this big moment with joy and excitement. The farm was a nice location and they had a cute kitten I played with. There were some cows (I even laid down on top of one of the biggest cows I have ever seen, for good luck) and it had a peaceful atmosphere.

On the morning itself I had a few flutters in my belly and I also wasn't able to eat a lot, again, all mostly because I couldn't wait to see my beautiful future husband. I was aware that nothing can be perfect and no matter what was going to happen, it would not ruin this day. I was having a little bit of a struggle when it started to pour outside (after having so many sunny hot days, I couldn't believe it), but I just closed my eyes and went into hair and make-up around 9. The moment she finished my hair, the sun broke through and we had the perfect weather throughout the entire day. Not too hot and sunny. It was like faith was smiling upon me, because if there is one thing I was hoping for, it was good weather. The make-up artist made me feel beautiful, I don't think I have ever experienced such a strong happy feeling about myself. I looked like the perfect version of me and she kept the make-up close to myself. Together we created this updo with several braids, decorated by my veil and some fresh flowers. I had a few tears after seeing my dad's reaction.

Friends of our family, who are practically my second mom, dad and two brothers, have an old timer we could use to take me to the castle. I went with my two bridesmaids, dad and second dad. It was such a special feeling to walk down the isle with my dad, towards someone who makes me incredibly happy. The first look was a high light of the day and I am happy I used the instrumental version of Tale as Old as Time. That song never lets me down. After an half hour talk, a speech from both our witnesses (his brother, my sister) we finally said YES, put on our rings and went outside to cut the cake.

When we went for our photoshoot, together with my two bridesmaids, our guests were able to eat ice cream serves on paint palettes while having a try at shooting with a bow and arrow. This was something Jasper wanted to arrange and it was such a good plan! The guests had a lot of fun (we asked two people to make photographs, so we could enjoy their fun later on) and it was the perfect fit for our location.

The photoshoot was a better experience than I could have hoped for. We are both not really comfortable in front of a camera, but we choose an experiences and friendly photographer who made us feel at ease. It shows in the photos, because not one of them looks forced. It portrays us as how we are: happy, without a fake feeling. I'm more than pleased with the results and will show you a few at the end of this posts (are you still with me?)

Next up was dinner. We made our own table pieces and I think we did a great job at keeping it close to us. It was simply, yet effective.

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The meal was delicious, with a shared entree and dessert. We quickly disappeared to our own room to get some last practice for our opening dance and this is where the stress hit us. We simply weren't able to perform the dance with my wedding dress, so after some struggle I changed into a summer dress I had with me for the next days. The dance was spectacular, if you ask me. Two people who have never danced before suddenly put down a difficult piece from the new Cinderella movie. We had practiced around 2 months and my heart almost burst with happiness when we bowed at the final tones of the song. Such a good feeling. I never thought I would be able to do such a thing, mainly because I don't like to be in the center of attention, but this completed our day.

The party was a lot of fun. I don't think I ever danced so much, because I told myself 'this is THE moment. If you are going to hold back now, you will regret it forever. Don't care about what anyone thinks about you and just let go.' So I did. We also arranged a photobooth and this was probably the biggest success of the day. We have so many awesome photos in our guest book now, with different people together in one picture who had never seen each other before. Definitely a tip if you are looking for something fun to do during the evening + to get yourself an unique guest book!

The location, the weather, the people, the love, that feeling of being the most beautiful bride in the world, the happy tears, the fun and the promise of being there for each other for the rest of our life made this a day we can look back to. It is also special to me that my two grandfathers and two grandmothers were there.

Here is a selection of some photos, but if you want to see more, check out my instagram account @Mel_1704 where I also have a Wedding Story.

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I am still alive!

Hello!

You may have noticed that it has been terribly quiet over here. Not only do I still suffer from a persistent blogging slump (I feel like my blog hardly matters anymore and that is a horrible feeling that doesn't motivate me to continue), I also had many exciting life changes! Not only did I get married, I also bought a house with my now-husband at the same time, so you can imagine I've been busy. We returned from our honeymoon last weekend, so I hope life will settle down a little now.

I'm currently working on a post that will wrap up all my life events and then I hope to continue to blog in a more consistent way, despite the blog-funk. I plan to continue writing about my bullet journal and my new adventure into gouache and watercolor, so keep an eye out for those posts! I also have a back log of reviews, both on Goodreads and in my review notebook, so I should be able to publish a few posts this month.

So yeah. For the people who are still hanging around, I'm still here. I haven't disappeared, my time simply shifted to something more important :)


O.W.L.S Read-A-Thon

Book Roast is a Youtuber who created the O.W.L.S Read-a-thon, hosted in April this year. This time around she is going to host the N.E.W.T Read-a-thon, which will run in August. She highly recommends to take your O.W.L.S first before going to the new levels, so I am planning to do this in July. I was inspired to do so after I saw Aprilius Maximus video with her TBR pile.
Hogwarts-crest-book
This spreadsheet gives you all the information you need about the different subjects you can take and the requirements to pass them. Your final 'pass or fail' is decided with this chart:

Pass grades:
Outstanding– sit (and pass) at least 5 OWLs
Exceeded Expectations – sit (and pass) at least 3 OWLs
Acceptable – sit (and pass) at least 2 OWLs

Fail grades:
Poor – sit only one OWL
Dreadful – start but not finish any OWLs tasks
Troll – do not show up at your OWLs examinations
Here are all the subjects and in italics you can see the titles I want to read, if a subject is made bold it means I have completed it.
  • Ancient Runes: Furyborn.
  • Arithmancy: The Thousandth Floor.
  • Astronomy: Passenger.
  • Care of Magical Creatures: The City of Brass (djinns)
  • Charms: Any fantasy book that I feel like at that moment.
  • Defense Against the Dark Arts: The Invisible Library.
  • Divination: Beyond a Darkened Shore.
  • Herbology: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns.
  • History of Magic: Blackhearts or Vengeance Road.
  • Muggle Studies: Bad Girls throughout History.
  • Potions: The Alchemy of Forever.
  • Transfiguration: Kingdom of Ash and Briars.

Get Weddy With Me | 1 month left!

I am still alive! Right now I am just way too busy with everything that is going on in my life (all good things!) like planning my wedding. So, I thought it would be fun to give you an update about everything we have done so far.

My boyfriend asked me to marry him on July 25th 2017. It was a romantic and lovely proposal, at the beach with sunset.

The first thing we decided on right away was: we want to do everything on our own. No wedding planner. Then we figured out what kind of location we wanted, our day planning and estimated budget. We came up with the idea to have our day guests dressed in the same colour scheme and we settled with dark blue and lilac as our theme. I've always had the dream to marry at a castle, so that's what we focused on. We immediately decided that our entire day would be at that location. If we are going for a castle, we want to spend all our time there instead of driving around to different places. We used several websites to make a top 10 of locations we wanted to visit and eventually we went to 8 of those spread throughout September and October.

We paid attention to the overall feeling, possible options and of course money. The first two options were an immediate 'no', because we didn't feel a click with the place. We really want to get some pictures in nature and some of them didn't have enough greenery and the buildings didn't feel festive enough. There was also one place that wouldn't allow us to have dinner and a party inside the castle, so we would had to go into a modern new building on the other side of the castle ground. It was way too expensive for what they offered.

At the end of our visists we ended up with 3 locations we really liked. We decided to drop one based on the many stairs (we have some older people who would really struggle with this) and the fact that the party room was on the smaller side (and I don't like tiny spaces). We plan to have a lot of dancing, so it wasn't the best fit. Our pick between the other two locations was based on money and possible photo moments.

We settled our date on July 28th, because we both had a preference for a Saturday in a warm month and we liked the idea of having it so close to our engagement. We are getting married in another municipality, so we requested permission to get a wedding official there. We completed the request after filing in the official documents of our witnesses. He asked his brother and I choose my sister. This was also the moment we found out we both don't care about the transport; we are not going to spend money on a fancy car. His brother is going to drive him and I can use an old-timer from friends.

We also asked my sister to make our wedding cake. She is good at making beautiful designs and they always taste delicious, so we liked this personal touch on our wedding. I don't have to have THE perfect cake. I just want one that represents us and I couldn't imagine a better person to make it than my sister. It was fun to tell her about our wishes and to come up with the flavors.

The next thing on our list was finding a wedding photographer. This is important to me, because those photos will be your memories and the thing you show to other people. The first photographer I emailed was already fully booked and that was the moment I decided we had to hurry up before all the good ones are taken. I visited a lot of websites and I saw many portfolios. What I also recommend is to look on Instagram/Pinterest and figure out what type of style you want to go with. I found a website that really spoke to me, I made an appointment and after we left we knew we found our photographer. There was a click and I love her style, so I can't wait to see our final photos.

My dress was one of the first things I bought. It was a present from my parents, which was lovely! I was surprised how much time it takes for dresses to be delivered! I found THE one during my first and last appointment in January and it was delivered in April. It took me 7 dresses to find the one and I ugly cried (and I always laugh at Say Yes to the Dress when they have their moment.. now I know, haha) It was fun to try on different designs, despite knowing what model I was going for, because it is quite the experience to see yourself in a white dress. The dress is a bit of what I envisioned, but some parts are definitely not what I expected! The adviser really paid attention to my wishes and reactions to things I liked about the other dresses. I also found the perfect accessories to go with it, but I will let you know more about all of this once the day is over! Not long after I hunted down the right shoes. Comfy and wear ability after the wedding were a must, so I got a pair of soft pink/blush wedges I can easily wear during Summer time.

The next thing were our Save the Date cards. Since our wedding date is right in the middle of summer vacation, we decided to give people a heads up. Since we want to do as many things ourselves, to make it as personal as we can, I decided to design my own cards. Are they perfect? Not at all, especially since the design lost some quality in the progress of getting printed, but I still think we couldn't have found anything better :) This is us.

A month ago I also finished the design for our final wedding invitations. I think it looks adorable.

Be our Guest

Sending out those cards also means you have to think about your guests. Since we host everything at the same location our day guests immediately dine with us. So we came up with the idea of having a small group at the ceremony and all the others invited for the party. A wedding is expensive enough as it is, so this meant being selective for the day.. We came to the realization that this is a problem for most people, so be prepared to have some drama.

Next up was finding music for our party. We settled on finding a DJ and eventually picked the first one (after meeting another one), because we had a really good feeling about him. Sometimes it's no use to keep searching if you already know. This was probably the hardest to pick, because you have to go with your gut feeling and the trust that he knows what he is doing, haha. He is the one that makes or breaks your wedding party. We discussed music styles we wanted, definitely didn't want and how he should act (NO talking in between songs), so fingers crossed it will turn into the dance party we imagine.

We went to one store for our wedding rings and found the perfect ones right away. The funny thing is: he had a random design on his computer screen when we entered the store and we immediately pointed at it "that's pretty much THE ring we are looking for." So that was a short and quick appointment.

Another thing we had to take care of was our wedding night. There is no possibility to sleep in the castle, but we found the most lovely Bed and Breakfast is a bigger city nearby with an enormous waterbed (one of the things on my bucketlist), so were are staying there for a few days :) The night before (on Friday), we both have seperate days with our family in houses close to the castle. My hair and make-up artist will come over the next day. It was also hard to find one (they are all so darn expensive!), but I have my test hair and make-up July 7th and se seemed really enthusiastic about my ideas.

We went back and forth about the decoration, but eventually choose to go minimal and DIY. This not only saves money, but it also makes it personal and completely in our control. I came up with a design for the center pieces, table cards, I have a hand made crayon board with my own design, a sign for our guest book/photobooth corner and our wedding cake stand. Everything ties together with touches of nature, like flowers, leaves and wooden elements. The location itself is gorgeous enough, so we decided to leave it the way it was. There will be candles, big flower pieces that reflect my wedding bouquet (I still don't know what I am getting until the big day arrives! So exciting) and party lights in blue and purple.

Talking about the guest book/photobooth corner; that is immediately our thank you gift. We didn't want anything too generic and expensive, because everyone throws them away after some time. We decided to home made jute blue and purple bags with hand written 'thank you' cards, the exact size of photos that come out of the photobooth. Everyone can make and print as many pictures as they want and they get those memories as a thank you :) At least one of those two strips can go in the guest book, so we can have it filled with awesome pictures.

The last thing we did was pick two ceremony masters to handle everything on the big day. We don't want to get bothered by questions or to deal with problems, so we picked two people to deal with those things. They also have the task of filming the most important parts of the day, so we can have more than just pictures to remind us of those special moments: like our opening dance!

We are currently on our 5th dancing lessons and we are having so much fun. Of course, leave it up to use, we picked a pretty difficult dance.. And this is probably the part I am most nervous about, hehe, but in the end I guess it's all about having fun!   

I'm waiting for my bachelor party and I can't wait to be surprised. My sister is the one who is taking care of everything (maid of honor and witness after all) and I think she is up to some awesome things!

There are still a few minor things we need to deal with (like table setting and cake tasting), but we have taken care of all the big things. Are there any questions you have surrounding planning a wedding? Or anything specific about mine? I think I have mentioned everything I can think off right now.

Let it Go | Massive edition.


Let it go started out as a way for me to write short reviews. For a while I have posted all my reviews only on Goodreads, because that was easier and quick. Today I want to share all the reviews I have written for the books I have read in 2018 so far. I'm still behind, but this is a fast way to make a start.

Girls made of Snow and Glass.
 Rating: 4.5 / 5.

Book 1The best thing about this book is the complex relationship between Mina and Lynet. There is no intense hate between the two of them, but a background story that adds so much to the overall plot. Mina isn't thrown into the story as the bad stepmother who wants to kill Lynet for her looks; there is so much more to it! The two of them might have a rocky relationship, but Mina is definitely more a mother to Lynet than in the original Snow White. Lynet was also a better character than Snow White. She still has something naive about herself and she doesn't have a lot of spunk (most of the times she simply accepts what is going on without doing something about it), but I did like her. Her growing feelings for the local surgeon girl was adorable. The author managed to take the bare bones of the Snow White tale and twist it into something original and magical. To be honest, Snow White has never been a favorite of mine, but I do LOVE this version of the fairytale.

Wintersong.
Rating: 3 / 5.

Book 2The biggest let down of this book was the romance. It just didn't grab me and that made the ending less powerful. I am not the biggest fan of Liesl/Elizabeth and her constant whining about her appearance, but overall she isn't terrible. She is one of those characters you easily forget about after some time. The music talk wasn't interesting to me either, but I can see the appeal to some people. The thing that made me read this book was definitely that writing! I finished the book in one day, simply because I was hooked by her descriptions and world: it felt like I was there. She has a way of telling a story. This is the first book and the story has a lot of potential, so I am curious to read the second, and final, book called Shadowsong.

Everless.
Rating: 3 / 5.

Book 3Everless is... less than I anticipated. The premise is amazing; time is stored in blood, so instead of using money, you have to donate time that can be used by the wealthy people like the Gerling family. The history behind this concept, with the Alcheimst and Sorceress hunting each other, was fabulous as well.

Jules her father is running out of time, so she decides to work at the mansion with danger of her own life. Years ago they were banned and Jules is afraid Liam will recognize her. Jules doesn't have anything that defines her from other YA heroines, which is a shame. She could have been fierce and loyal; with her spirit to protect her father. Instead she came across as whiny and that annoyed me. The middle part of the book also suffers from the fact nothing special happens, but the ending was enough for me to pick up the sequel at some point.

Monstress.
Rating: 4.5 / 5.

Book 5Gorgeous artwork! I absolutely love this style and I was enchanted by every page.
The story is pretty dark and violent & based on female power, which I always support. It is set in a world inspired by 1900s Asia, with a war between Arcanics (magical creatures who can sometimes pass as human) and the Cumaea (order of sorceresses who consume Arcanics to fuel their power)
The story centers around Maika Halfwolf, a girl with a psyhic link with a monster, who is a human looking Arcanic. She misses part of her left arm and now she has to deal with a demon who sometimes emerges from the stub. She has to understand and control this demon, which requires a lot of inner strength.
I can't wait to read the sequel.

Notes from My Captivity.
Rating: 4 / 5.

Book 4Adrienne wants to become one thing: a journalist like her idol, so when she gets the chance to write an article that could get her into her dream school, she takes it. This means she has to travel with her stepfather Dan into the Siberian wilderness in search of a mysterious family. Dan knows for sure that there is a legendary family living in the wilderness, even if this means no one else takes him seriously. Adrienne is only going to debunk this mystery, but when disaster strikes she has to re-evaluate her beliefs. I really liked Adrienne and her passion for journalism. It was nice to see her relationship change with Dan, now that the two of them work together in strange territory. The whole mystery behind the family was fascinating and I like how everything wrapped up.

The Lies They Tell.
Rating: 2 / 5.

Book 6Well.. That was a big snooze fest.
Pearl works at a summer resort club for rich people and when one of them, Bridges, shows interest in her she figures it is THE way to get more information about the fire that turned her father into a drunk. An entire family burned in their house, except one member called Tristan, and her father was the watchman that evening. He claims he never saw anyone and now people side-eye him. He has no work and the guilt eats at him. Pearl wants to find out what truly happened, so she can save her father's good name.
The whole promise was intriguing and I liked the beginning. We see the set-up where Pearl works hard to save her family from disaster, since her father spends most of his time getting wasted at the local pub. She is conflicted about her feelings for Reese, her best friend who is on/off with one of the other girls at work, and Bridges.
The story quickly evolves in a boring tale where we see Pearl uncovering small hints that show us the killer; so when we arrive at the conclusion there is no surprise there. I am always terrible at solving mysteries, but this is right in your face.. The killer is portrayed in such a way that there is no other way and that really let me down.

My Plain Jane.
Rating: 4 / 5.
Book 7This book worked better for me than the previous one, My Lady Jane, and I am happy I gave it a shot. Note: you don't have to read My Lady Jane to enjoy this book. They aren't sequels, but belong in the same world in the sense it is both focused on a 'Jane'. While My Lady Jane is a retelling of a historical figure (Jane Gray), My Plain Jane is about Jane Eyre with a paranormal twist. The fun thing is that this book also features Charlotte Brontë, who happens to be the author of Jane Eyre. She teams up with Alexander, a ghost hunter who works for an Agency to solve a murder and they need Jane. It was all really clever and funny, so I flew through the pages and I liked every character. Highly recommend this one if you like subtle historical stories.

The Cukoo's Calling.
Rating: 3 / 5.
Book 8I was surprised by the killer's identity, but at the same time, Cormoran keeps a lot of information to himself. I liked all the interviews and Robin. I liked the mystery, but it was slow and despite having a plot about a possible murder, it wasn't too exciting.
Cormoran gave me mixed feelings. I felt like 'Galbraith' tried to make him look really clever and smart by holding back information from the reader. The whole twist at the end and how Cormoran solves the case surprised me, but at the same time, there was no way you could have guessed this based on the vague exclamations from Cormoran when something makes sense to him. I also thought he was rather bland. Robin on the other hand stood out to me. She showed me that she was clever, like with her acting in the clothing store to gain more information from the sales girl. She definitely has the right spirit to solve mysteries and I wish there was more focus on her and her road to follow her passion (instead of going with a safe job like her husband-to-be who sounds rather boring)
I thought the mystery around the murder/suicide of a famous model would be more exciting, but the entire plot is based on Cormoran going to different people to interview them. I quite liked the fact we have a big cast of people who all tell their own story, but I wish there had been more to it. Overall not a bad book and like I said, the twist at the ending was big, but I'm not in a rush to pick up the sequel soon.

Sea Witch.
Rating: 2.5 / 5.
Book
The beginning was awesome and I loved the switch between 'now' and 'then', where we see the main characters as children. There is Evie, the witch, Anna, the girl who drowned, and Nik, the crown prince. It is an unique friendship and now that Evie and Nik have grown up, people do side-eye their relationship. Evie is the freak and the outsider, but that's what made Nik even more precious to me; he simply doesn't care. Suddenly a girl who looks like Anna shows up and she confesses to Evie that she was a mermaid, but sold her soul in order to find love with Nik. If she runs out of time, she will die.

Good.
+ The writing. The author has a vivid imagination and she manages to show me her world. I was invested in the world-building and it made the book go faster, despite the dragging middle part.
+ Nik. Like I said, he doesn't give a crap about the opinions of the people, because he sticks with Evie no matter what. He was adorable and such a kind person, especially when he isn't afraid to show his feelings.
+ URSULA RETELLING. She is my favorite villain and I love the fact someone wrote a book about it (despite the fact I didn't end up loving it as much as I wanted.)

Bad.
- The ending was waaaaaay to fast. I wish the author had cut parts in the middle and that there were more pages spend on the ending. The whole twist and conclusion was pretty good, but everything is just thrown in like there was no time left to elaborate, which made it overwhelming and it lost its emotional impact.
- This is a spoiler, select to read:  I really was underwhelmed by Anna's need for revenge.. I just didn't think the reason was strong enough to make her so spiteful towards Nik and Evie.. Maybe at first, but she should have seen their sadness and realize that they did everything they could to save her. This made the plot fall
- Also the romance *facepalm* Don't get me started guys. If you know me, you realized by now that I'm not much of romance reader, but I can get on board if it is well-written. In this case, the author took an approach that really didn't set right with me. Spoiler, select: EVIE IS FIRST COMPLETELY SMITTEN WITH ANOTHER GUY AND THEN IN THE ENDING SHE SUDDENLY LOVES NIK? NOPE NOPE NOPE, it doesn't work that way!
- Evie. While I loved Nik, I had a rocky relationship with Evie. There were moments I really liked her, but most of the times I just didn't care for her..

It started out so well, the book had so much potential, but in the end it let me down :(

Monthly Recap February '18 | Life.

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You can see more pictures about my daily life on my Instagram: @Mel_1704

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Bookshopping with my friend in Amsterdam (and I didn't even buy many books!)
We had different friends coming over for game nights, which was great. I just really like to be home/be at someone's place to play board games.    
I had tapas with my book club, tapas with my friends and sushi with my work. I also tried out this place that sells cookie dough and it was delicious.
I was sick for a week and even had to call in sick for one day, because I felt terrible.
I went ice skating with my boyfriend – ehh, husband to be.
I had a yoga lesson and decided that I like it, but not enough to only do yoga.    

Wedding update:
We talked about our wedding cake with my sister. She is now up to date about our wishes for decoration and taste, so I can't wait to see the final result on our big day.  
We booked our DJ. This was probably the hardest to pick, but I have a good feeling about him. It's going to be a great party!
I started to buy items I need for some decoration. We aren't going to make it too crazy, since we are getting married in a castle and I think that is impressive and festive enough.
      
bookhaul_thumb2February box   
Incoming
1. S.A Chakraborty - City of Brass.
2. Marissa Meyer – Renegades.
3. Joe Abercrombie – Half a King.
4. S. Jae-Jones – Shadowsong.
5. Marissa Meyer and – Gone Rogue, pre-order.
6. C. J Redwine – The Traitor Prince, pre-order.
7. Melissa Albert – The Hazel Wood, exclusive Fairyloot edition.
Read_thumb5 1. Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff – Gemina. 3/5.
2. Lois Lowrey – The Giver. 4/5.
3. Lois Lowrey – Gathering Blue. 3/5.
4. Lois Lowrey – Messenger. 4/5.
5. Lois Lowrey – Son. 4/5.
6. Kathy Parks – Notes from my Captivity. 4/5.
7. Ellen Oh – A Thousand Beginnings and Endings. 2/5.
8. Marissa Meyer & Douglas Holgate – Wires and Nerve. 4/5.
9. Marissa Meyer & Douglas Holgate – Gone Rogue. 5/5.
10. Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows & Brodi Ashton – My Plain Jane. 4/5.
   
HOW WAS YOUR FEBRUARY?