Monday, 21 February 2011

A home of our own

Sometimes all you need is a nudge... Or three, to blog again. When your favourite blog author (Heather, of asks what's going on you know you've got to put pen to paper,finger to keyboard, whatever.

The most significant thing that's happened these past few months is that we started house hunting in earnest. Having looked on and off for about a year, we were ready to get going with the search and stop paying stupid amounts of rent for a flat which plainly has seen better days. But that's a whole story you don't want to know about.

We saw a house soon enough, it was pretty, in a nice residential area, and we kinda fell for it. We made an offer, it was accepted after some negotiation, except slowly it began to dawn on us that we were overpaying. A lacklustre survey made us back out of the purchase.

If there is something in life that I hate it's house hunting. Being taken round by conniving people who insult your intelligence by lying to your face, calling what are clearly single rooms, 'comfortable doubles' feed you rubbish about the area commanding unprecedented prices... Honestly, I hate estate agents. So hunting for our first home together brought out the worst in me... I was impatient and frustrated. London has become insanely expensive. It seemed like anything good was out of reach and we were being shown expensive rubbish.

But, finally, we found something! In a residential area, 15 mins walk from the underground, in nice surrounds... A four bed, with a garden, a home to call our own. It's so exciting, it's just where we wanted to be location-wise. It will be a financial stretch, for sure, but we know it will be worth it to be in our own home. I am such a home bug!

We move in at the end of March, expect pictures then! Until that time, if you read on you will be regaled with stories of couch shopping and the like.... Ok, so I'm doing a bad job of getting you to stick around, but all the same it'd be grand if you did!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Her Fearful Symmetry - Audrey Niffeneger

I thought I'd review this book, because I know that some of you enjoyed the Time Traveler's Wife - I know I did. It surprised me that I enjoyed it as much as I did, because I am generally uninterested in anything resembling science fiction, fantastical writing, etc. I really enjoyed the depiction of love between the characters and the complex plot though - it was a very enjoyable read, and one that stayed etched in my mind for some time.

So when I saw this new book by the same author, I thought I'd give it a try. I got through it quickly - I'll give it that, it was certainly gripping. But I can't say that I enjoyed it. It's about a set of twins, Edie and Elspeth, who are estranged. Edie has 21 year old twin girls, and when Elspeth passes away she leaves her flat in Highgate, London, to the girls on the proviso that they live there for a year. The story unfolds in London, exploring the relationship between the two sisters, and the secret of the rift between their mother and aunt.

Nifenegger has a great mind, there is no doubt about that. She knows how to weave a plot together, how to shock in the most intelligent of ways. But in this novel I found the characters undeveloped (except for Martin, I loved his depiction, though I'm not sure what that storyline had to do with that of the girls) and more to the point they were, almost all of them, unlikeable. I couldn't understand the motives behind their behaviour at all.

The story becomes very dark, so much so that it made me uneasy. And yet I kept reading. Perhaps the author is saying: you may dislike these characters and find it hard to understand why they do what they do, but what does it say about you that you are still reading, that you derive enjoyment from this darkest of stories?

I am not a fan of ghost stories, so maybe I was never the prime audience for this novel, but I found the whole thing a bit silly, a bit self indulgent, gratuitously dark. Gripping, yet unenjoyable. I learnt nothing about humanity. That might sound pious, I don't look to read books with a moral purpose, but I do hope to understand why the protagonists do what they do, what motivates them, and Martin aside, I failed to do that here. One to miss I think!

4 months

I can't believe we have been married for four months, and so much has happened that I have hardly had time to recap our wedding! I will get round to it, assuming it is of some interest! ;)

Life feels different but so much better - I love being married to Marc. Since we hadn't lived with each other I thought there would be an adjustment. I am an only child, I had always been very much my parents' daughter, I wondered how it would be to have my primary allegiance shift.

The truth is that there hasn't been an adjustment to speak of. It feels so normal, as though we have been in this state forever. It took me a few years into dating to feel ready for marriage but I'm not sure now what I was so worried about. I feel such a sense of togetherness and partnership.

After the wedding I did feel quite a bit of nostalgia about the wedding being behind me. I sought projects everywhere, I framed photos and our invitation, decorated our flat... but now I am settling into real life, enjoying the day-to-day things rather than plotting the next big thing. Life is good!

I bought Marc a traditional prayer shawl for the wedding. The Rabbi surprised us by asking Marc to cover me with the shawl during the ceremony. It was a very special moment.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Wedding cake

I spent a lot of time planning my wedding and envisaging what things would be like... I did lots myself.. the invitations, the bridesmaids' corsages, programs etc. By far the biggest feat was making my own wedding cake in Guernsey (where I live in a hotel) and transporting it to Tel Aviv.

Why did I undertake such a crazy task? We got married in Israel where wedding cakes are not the norm and very expensive. We had 8 desserts at our wedding - it didn't seem strictly necessary to also have a cake. But also I was inspired by smitten kitchen, where Deb made her friend's wedding. Did I think about how, as a bride, it wouldn't be fun transporting my own cake across countries far and wide, icing it the day before the wedding, decorating it just hours before? No I did not! It was stressful and difficult, but totally crazy and I'm so proud of it!

We only got round to cutting it at the end of the night, it was unannounced, we didn't think anyone would notice. It was more for a photo opportunity. But people crowded round and ate - it was such a fun, surprising and intimate moment! One of my favourite parts of our day.

I loved our cake and I am so glad we had one in the end. Aletha of Pearls Events wedding planning asked in her blog whether wedding cakes are now a thing of the past. Who knows, but I think there will always be something special and intimate about cutting a wedding cake. I can't wait to pass the story of our cake down generations!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Craft Room - going red!

I have wanted a craft from for some time, as evidenced by this post. We live in a new rental flat right now (photos to come this weekend) and it has two bedrooms. The second bedroom houses random stuff we haven't had time to organise yet - it's a crowded mess - but this weekend I intend to revamp it.

I don't know why I stumped for red in the end - truth be told it was an impulse! For years I thought it would be really girlie, all white furniture and pretty pink things. Actually what I want is a very organised space. Attractive, but functional. Right now we have a futon in there and an uninspiring desk and shelf unit. Those aren't going, because they serve a purpose. One day when we have a house I will be able to get a big modern desk and loads of lovely shelves, but for now by adding my touch I can make the spare bedroom an inspiring place to craft all the same.

What I am missing is lots of storage. I will need to make a trip to IKEA for that, so this is a work in progress. For now, let me show you the goodies I have chosen!

1. A red Anglepoise lamp.

LOVE these and have wanted one for so so long!

2. 2 cushions to put on our cream futon

3. A pen holder

4. A rug

5. Some letters to spell out 'create'

I am so incredibly excited for these to come that I even paid for a Saturday delivery for some of it - it will be so awesome when it's here! Can you tell I am a new wife who needs projects now that the wedding is over? Haha! Seriously though, I am so excited about turning our flat into a home. I love interiors - always have - so I am in my element!

I will be sure to post before and after photos once the room is all set up!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Identity and name

It's so nice to be back! Since I realised that this blog could be found on Google when people did a name search, I didn't feel comfortable exposing everything personal on it, so I removed certain content, particularly because I had started a new job and I am cagey about private matters at work - I try to keep the two distinct when I can. And for a while everything I was living felt too personal to write about, not because I didn't want readers or friends to know, but because didn't want people who know me in a professional capacity to have binoculars into my life. I find it strange that I feel comfortable exposing things to people I haven't met, yet in a certain sphere I am reluctant to give of myself.

My identity has always been tied up with my name. My maiden surname is very distinct, and in Israel well known. It evokes a certain time and place, and it is exotic sounding. No-one could ever spell it - that part was annoying - but only my family has it. It's pretty cool to know that anyone you stumble upon with the same name is related to you. Also, on a practical note, I never needed my customer ID number for anything because I was almost always guaranteed to be the only one with my name. I am an only child, so that also factored into my thinking about whether to change my name. If I changed it it would die out on my side of the family. It felt like a lack of allegiance to my parents. I knew they wanted me to keep my name. My mother kept her maiden name at work and changed it for anything personal.

I had a real dilemma on my hands - I just didn't know what to do. In the end I changed my name, not at all sure I had done the right thing. I would pick up the phone and begin to say Vanessa Oldlastname and stop myself, sounding crazy. I couldn't quite utter my new name so would pick up and say 'hello' - completely inappropriate in the legal sphere!

But, I am growing into my new name, liking having a more 'usual' name. Almost everything has now been changed over but my passport, because I fly weekly, and I caught myself looking at my maiden name on it and thinking 'that's not right'. So the shift has occurred. It is nice to share a name with Marc, it makes me feel as though we are our own family. And I have come to realise that by changing names I am not letting go of the past that made me who I am, just taking on a name that reflects who I want to become.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010


It has taken me so long to come back to blogging, maybe I needed to miss it to return; I don't know. We had a beautiful wedding, it was everything we had hoped for and more! I'm going to do a proper recap, but for now some photos!

It feels so different to be married - I feel a deep sense of belonging that I have never had, which says a lot considering I have never felt I didn't belong. It's hard to put that bond, that commitment, into words. I'm so happy to be Marc's wife!