The Most Beautiful Crash Test Dummy of Them All

I like my body. It’s strong and healthy, and 99% of the time, I think I’m cute, or even gorgeous. Oh, sure, my thighs rub together, and if I don’t dress carefully, I’m prone to a muffin top, but I like how I look, and I’m in far better shape than I deserve, if you consider how little effort I put in, and I’m incredibly comfortable with how I look. That’s not to say I wouldn’t change some things if it were as easy as turning a dial but, on balance… well, if I actually had longer legs, I wouldn’t get to wear those cute platform wedges.

Brides ask me, all the time, what I’d recommend for this problem, or how would I handle that situation*. There are many different companies advertising many different things. I don’t want to just parrot the information from the promotional fliers, that’s no help to anyone. I started thinking – how great would it be to have someone you know and trust go test out some of these fantastical claims, and report back. And the rest is about to be history.

Purely for research purposes of course [grin] I’m embarking on a series of adventures in self-improvement – some quick fixes, some more long-term. I’ll be posting before and after pics, and giving a running commentary on how easy, or uncomfortable, or embarrassing, or unpleasant, they are.

It’s a point of integrity for me that any review I make is honest, and unbiased. Which is why I’m posting my first series of ‘before’ photos today,** and crossing my fingers that at the end of the course, I’ll have impressive  ‘after’ photos to put next to them.
With each of the treatments I’ll try, the evidence should speak for itself.

10-10-2012: The Before Photos  [I decided not to embed them in the post. They’re definitely not my best angle, and someone has to think of the children!]

So, to my first adventure:

From the website:  “HYPOXI combines alternating high and low pressure with exercise to help target fat in those areas which just won’t budge. The simple 30 minute workout is safe, pain-free and completely natural – helping your body to tap into stubborn fat stores while you work out. In just 12 sessions, clients can lose up to 30 centimetres from their problem areas ….”

With claims of fat burning and cellulite reduction, sculpting great legs and a flat stomach, and you can do it in your street clothes, during your lunch hour. For a gym rhino [not bunny!]  like me, it sounds like the perfect workout. If it can do all that, it’s going to be awesome!  Though there’s no specific diet or ‘homework’ exercise to sign up to, it’s still a big investment of both time and money – the double whammy treatment program I’m trialling will take 15 hours, and cost a little over $500. I’m working with Nicola at the Nelson Hypoxi Studio [there are Hypoxi studios throughout the country and around the world]

I’ve been for my free intro session, where Nicola talked me through the process, and gave me a taster session on the machines, and today was my first treatment.

I started with the Michelin Man costume, I mean, HypoxiDermology.
Getting suited up was like being on the other side of a gown fitting. Thankfully, Nicola knew what she was doing, pulling and prodding to get it properly fitted, buckling and zipping until I was completely tucked in, and hooked up.  I lay back on the bed, and… well, that was pretty much it. The machine did the rest of the work – by sucking all the air out of the suit, and then magically performing a mechanical ‘cupping’ massage using hundreds of pressure chambers. It felt kind of weird at the intro session, but this morning, I didn’t even notice it.

After I’d watched a bit of telly, painted my nails, and thought about getting Nicola to pass me my knitting… it was time for part two, the L250 Trainer. There is a TINY bit of work required on this one – underneath the hood there’s a set of bike pedals, so I’m not totally just kicking back and relaxing. Really.

While I’m cycling the vaccum pump is again doing its thing, changing the pressure so that the blood flow increases. It’s zero impact exercise, and I spent most of my time chatting or reading a book.
Tough workout this really is not!

Workout completed, I put my feet back into my impractical wedges [I had to dig deep into my closet to find a pair of pedal friendly shoes] pull my skirt back on over my tights, and just like that, I’m on my way. It’s hard to believe I’ve just done a 1 hour ‘workout’!

Followup: It’s been a busy day since then, and it’s well past bedtime as I write this. I’ve been thirsty, and had a bit of a headache this afternoon [note to self, when they suggest drinking extra water, you should totally do that] and my legs are pleasantly weary. I’m looking forward to my bed, and expecting to fall asleep the instant my head hits the pillow, for a change.

I’ll have updated photos in a fortnight [and I have to admit to being curious about playing ‘spot the difference’ with them] so…. watch this space!


* for the record:  This series is not intended as a vehicle for radical self-improvement [though some of that may happen along the way], nor is it meant to be any kind of political statement on what beauty really means. I certainly don’t endorse any viewpoint which says a bride ought to do whatever it takes to look like a Barbie Doll on her wedding day. But here’s the thing. Wedding photos stay around for a very long time. And while I always begin with some version of, ‘hey, he knows what you look like, and he still asked you to marry him’, I think it’s reasonable to want to show yourself in the best possible light on your wedding day. What’s NOT reasonable is spending time and money on things that don’t work, or promise impossible things. Hence this series.

** The internet is a funny place, and I’ll admit I’m a little nervous about putting my cellulite up for the world to see, comment on, repost, or whatever. I’m naive enough to hope I’ll fly under the radar, but if the idiots come out to play, here’s my plan – Let’s not feed the trolls. If you see an unkind comment, just walk on by. I have the power of the delete button, and I’m quite able to use it, and once the comment is gone, if we’re not all busy posting shock reactions, then it will sink without a ripple. It’s a theory, anyway.


Sounds Like… Time I Updated My Opinion…

As much as I joke that,” if it wasn’t for my humility, I’d be perfect”, I don’t mind admitting that, now and then I am completely and utterly wrongheaded about something. Today’s wrongheaded woolly thinking blog post on the topic of mics and sound at weddings is brought to you by the letters O and K and by the number 1, and it goes like this:

As a Celebrant, I am prejudiced beyond debate about how important it is that the words of the ceremony be clearly heard by the guests – after all, the ceremony is the reason for the celebration!  To that end, I work hard to make sure that every word I speak is clearly broadcast, either by using ‘my big voice’ [ TM], and having the couple speak out their own parts of the ceremony ‘repeat after me’ style – so that every one present is able to be an active participant in the ceremony and the vows they have gathered to witness.

I take a great deal of pride in the fact that some well-respected DJs and sound crews who have worked ceremonies with me in the past are confident enough in my speaking volume and clarity to back off the amplification.  I’ve had sound techs unclip the mic and put it away when they’ve realised that I’m the Celebrant who will be speaking.

I’m not afraid to use a microphone, and in certain settings, it’s a necessity. Applied skillfully and discreetly, amplification is an incredibly wonderful thing, subtly supporting those who are speaking.  After working alongside skilled and intuitive operators, with quality gear, I know that it’s not that difficult to place microphones so that the couple can be heard without looking like they are speaking their beautiful wedding vows to a microphone, and not to their own true love, or to quickly adjust for changes in wind direction, or the speaking volume of different participants.It’s my considered opinion that the skill of the tech AND the quality of the gear are equally important – leave one out and it would be like making cheese on toast, without the cheese. Or without the toast…

I hate-hate-hate it, [with the fierce and fiery passion of a thousand dying suns], when PAs and sound gear are used badly, either because the DJ has good gear but no real art, or when the gear is whatever battered old bits can be hired for cheap. To be blunt, poor quality sound is at best, a waste of time, money and effort to set up. At its worst, bad sound is a horrible distraction, overshadowing the words with the way they are broadcast.

So, for that reason, whenever a couple has come to me asking where they can hire a PA system, they’ve usually been the recipients of my somewhat scathing opinions about the quality of the gear an average person can affordably hire, and the lack of skilled operating that tends to come bundled with it.

I’m becoming aware that the times they are a-changing, so I’m drawing my line in the sand, and saying, there are some fantastic options for excellent sound available now, and I’m recommending them without reservation!

First shout must go to Ali Holmes, Avago Entertainment, who is one of the best DJ’s working in Nelson. I’ve had the good fortune to have worked alongside Ali at a number of weddings now, and it’s SUCH a luxury to be in such skilled hands – her gear is top quality, carefully maintained and set up, with attention to detail that is second-to-none. I’ve seen her transition smoothly through subtle pre-wedding background music, through the bride’s entrance, mic-ing the ceremony, and then segueing smoothly into pre-dinner music, mics for speeches etc, and finally cranking up into full party mode for the rest of the evening, reading and responding to the requirements of the guests throughout.

And, since sometimes, the reception venue, or the musos you’ve hired for the party, will have 90% of the sound under control, when you just need a little bit of sound for the ceremony, I’m excited to be able to say that Andrew and Kath at Event Audio have the perfect solution with a totally portable system, totally wireless, and able to be set up in the middle of the remotest paddock, deserted island, or backyard. The main unit is about the size of your commuter’s wheelie suitcase – and with an 8 hour capacity battery, there’s no worries about running extension cables for miles! With a really simple interface, it takes just moments to grasp the basic knob twiddling skills required.  Add in extra mics, CD or mp3/4 players, additional speakers – the sky’s the limit!

And that’s just the start of it – Event Audio were responsible for the sound at the recent Crusader’s game at Trafalgar Park, so I’m pretty confident that they can handle whatever size event you’re planning!

In case you missed it, in among all that, this is me, saying, hand to heart, YES! I do know where you can get really good audio services, and heartily recommending that you go talk with Ali, or Andrew, about your specific requirements. [I’ve never been so glad to be wrong! ]

I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive the options are. Plus, you’ll enjoy the confidence that comes with crossing something off your planning list, knowing you’re actually able to get what you’re looking for! YAY!





Breaking Out The Bubbly

I have had so much fun this week, thanks to The Wedding Kit loaning me their bubble machine!
We set the machine up in the entryway of The Corner Store, and ‘commenced to blowing’:
instant clouds of iridescence wafting along the street, [which was fun straight out of the box] but what’s been the most delightful has been the reactions of people passing by.

So far, no-one’s said “bah humbug”.  Apart from one run-away buggy [with baby still inside, and caught just in time!] the bubbles haven’t caused any accidents.
So far.
If anything, it seems like the streams of bubbles occasionally wandering out across the road have caused people to drive a little slower around our horrible corner. Though, I do wonder if I should write a letter of apology to the teachers unlucky enough to attempt crocodile filing  three classes of 8 year olds past my door yesterday.

Men in suits, the Postie, pretty much anyone who had passed by has at the very least smiled, if not dawdled for a while. Small children have predictably erupted into paroxysms of  bubble-glee, thanks to passing parents who parked their car, unstrapped the baby, and walked them over to play!

I haven’t gotten much work done. Without a word of a lie, since I started writing this blog post this morning, I’ve been distracted by a pit bull terrier leaping [all four feet off the ground] to catch bubbles, a classic ’emo-goth-wannabe’ utterly ruining his sad mood, and three tough dudes in black leathers almost choking to death  laughing and trying to catch bubbles in thier mouths.

But the absolute best reactions? All this week, it’s the school boys who have surprised and delighted me. I’ve kind of assumed that teen-aged boys were far too cool to expect any reaction at all to the bubbles – if I’d had to predict, I’d have said a big boy would kick the machine over and run away – turns out, I am totally wrong on that:

So, for your Friday afternoon enjoyement, I give you: What young men [because,  these have all been seniors!] do when surprised by bubbles:

Let’s begin with the group of lads playing a scratch game of “footy with bubbles”, shouting “Gooooaaaalllll!” and running off, shirts over their heads like Pele.

Add one very sharp-looking chap, totally lost in thought as bubbles swirled around him, and his less dapper counterpart, later in the day – similarly entranced. Overlay a soundtrack to the effect of “Duuuude. Wait. What?” and try not to giggle too loudly. I’m not certain, but I think he was trying to catch some to put in his pockets for later…

I’ve seen otherwise unperturbably cool dudes,  breaking into dance, or sitting on the kerb laughing, running off to find a mate to drag him back for show and tell – I haven’t laughed this much in months!

My favourite schoolboy quip so far:  “See, if you don’t wag, you miss this stuff”

I’m going to just say it: Nelson College Schoolboys are awesome. I love that they still have that sense of childlike wonder, and are not afraid to show it, even among their peers. It’s been such fun to hear the surprise and delight of passers-by, and to discover that whether one is have been 3 or 63, apparenlty you’re never too old to play in the bubbles.

If you have a moment and you’re in the neighbourhood, come over and play! [Or if your inner child is old and curmudgeonly, you could curl up on the couch and people watch]

A quick shoutout to the guy who started the party – You can hire one of these magic-making machines for just $50 /day from The Wedding Kit – You don’t even need a special occasion – just start the bubbles, and the party will come to you!

The Wedding Kit: Affordable Equpment Hire for weddings, events, and ordinary days!

The Amazing Travelling Photobooth

And, on the topic of getting the photos you want… Check out The Amazing Travelling Photobooth:

Aint that something special?!

None of this “poseur faux photobooth that’s really your wedding photographer” stuff for these guys – it’s the full iconic photobooth experience, right down to the photo strips popping out the slot, ready for your guests to take home that night!

I love everything about The Amazing Travelling Photobooth –  the way they have created some kind of retro-steampunk thing [is that even possible?? ugh – it’s school holidays, and I can’t formulate a coherent sentence due to children eating my brain – can you tell?!] that isn’t just a quirky gimmick, but is part of the bones of the setup, right down to the smallest details. The photobooth is entertainment in it’s own right – fun for the people inside the booth, but also for the onlookers. It’s  intriguing, enticing, and you know that even Old  Aunt Maude who NEVER sits for photos will end up in the booth with a silly hat on before the end of the night! It genuinely is an amazing travelling photobooth, and I’m busy coming up with an event,  just so that I’ll  have a reason to have a photobooth in my backyard.

Dion and his team offer a fantastic service, which includes a brilliant guest book option where guests can take as many photos as they wish, stick their favourite shots into a beautiful album, add comments and best wishes, and Tah-Dah! create a stunning keepsake album that will have you smiling for years to come.

I heard a rumour that The Amazing Travelling Photobooth will be passing theough Nelson this Summer, and I highly recommend that you contact Dion and make plans to have The Amazing Photobooth stop by your wedding or event.


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