1 year ago…

It’s amazing that the things I worried most about for the wedding were the things I didn’t even notice on the day. The things I remember the most were the things that weren’t planned at all.
Like having a 5 guys burger with my best friend before everyone started arriving- and the look on my moms face an hour later when I told her.

How cute my nieces were.

The look on my moms face when she was reading the book I gave her that morning.

How much fun it was sitting around talking to my mom best friend and sister and then my college friend Emily.

Having to pee precisely 5 minutes after putting my dress on and the exasperated look my mother gave me when I told her I needed to pee about 2 minutes before the wedding started. Seriously I don’t think she had looked at me like that in 27 years- it was like we had just been stuck in traffic for hours and finally gone three miles on the open highway and I asked her to pull over. 

Getting butterflies of excitement in my stomach hearing the first few lines of sweet disposition knowing it was all starting…

Hearing my mom walk down the aisle and getting more applause than I did

Putting Gary’s ring on the wrong hand and then giggling at the jokes my uncle made during the ceremony that only we could hear.

Gary squeezing my hand as we walked back up the aisle- and literally squealing with delight seeing that my best friend from school was pregnant.

Having a moment in the car where I thought- “omg We just got married!”

Having tourists call out congratulations when we were getting our photos taken at the Lincoln memorial- and laughing at the kid who was grossed out by us kissing in front of the Washington monument. Our laughter was definitely caught on camera!

These Moments were what made the day so special. 

It was laughing and crying during the speeches- and actually being quiet for once and not making a speech. It was doing our first dance last and wearing flip flops all night because my beautiful custom made shoes killed my feet!

It was photo booths and glow sticks- lots of glow sticks. And everyone dancing to that silly song my mom made me promise that the DJ would play. And having a great time but not eating dessert but loving the cake!

It was kicking on at the bar after with all of our siblings and Irish and Aussie friends– and running into a girl I went to middle school with! 
It was staying up until 5am drinking champagne in our hotel suite, and then waking up the next day to do it all again.
It was going to the DC courthouse on Monday and waiting in a room with so many others waiting to make it official.

It was the little propeller plane that we took to San Pedro and Meeting family in Belize for The first time. It was swimming with stingrays and finding hidden Mayan cities. And sitting at the spit drinking Beliken beer and having lobster for three meals one day and drinking Belizean rum on the balcony in the afternoon. It was hopping on and off around LA and seeing robin Williams’ star covered in tributes. It was Santa Monica pier and seeing the white men can’t jump basketball court while you were wearing the white men can’t jump t shirt in Venice beach.

It was coming back to Sydney and celebrating all over again with our friends here. It was changing my drivers license and my passport. It was the first card we got addressed to mr and mrs. It was trying to figure out how to shorten my newly hyphenated name at my new job. 
It was a million other things in the last 365 days that made our wedding day so special and such a great day. I couldn’t have planned before all the details that make looking back on it so wonderful now. I can’t remember who sat where, I haven’t made the guest book or wedding album yet but I smile every time I think about it and every thing that’s happened in the past year.


The week I became an adult…

How do you know when you’ve become an adult?  Is it when you turn 18 and can legally vote?  Is it when you move out of your parents’  house and start paying rent? Is it the day you earn your first pay check?  Is it when you get married?  Is it when you have children?

Having now accomplished most of the hallmarks of adulthood, I can say it’s none of those things—for me at least.  However, I can honestly say, that I became an adult this week.  For the first time since moving out of my mother’s house at 17, I actually own matching plates and matching pots and pans that did not come from Ikea.  It seems like such a small, unimportant baby step, but for me it was a giant leap into adulthood.    I now have “good plates” and “everyday plates” just like a real, live grown up adult.  Even to this day, in my mother’s house, you can tell what level of entertaining she’s doing based on what you eat off of.    If it’s the normal plates in the cupboard, you know you’re family and you may have to cook your own food, white plates are for casual entertaining and friends.  The white and silver set:  you’re special but possibly clumsy; the blue and white china set from my parent’s wedding:  you’re very special and the occasion is pretty fancy—but my great grandmother’s gold set with the flowers, that’s how you know you’ve arrived and that you’re a pretty big deal.  If she breaks out the gold cutlery to match, then you may be dining with the V.VIPs.   Many people never get to this level; it’s the highest level of entertaining in The Mom’s house.

So today, I’m having my first Adult Grown Up Dinner Party, and I have to say, it’s a big step and I’m not sure I’m actually ready for the responsibility of having nice things.  First of all, how do you decide in advance whether the friends you’re having over are “good plate” worthy.   How do you know who is up to the challenge of being a grown up?  Secondly, there is a lot more clean up required with the “good plates”, you’re not supposed to just throw them in the dishwasher… which again begs the question, how do you know if you’ll feel like washing plates after a full day of cooking and eating?  And… thirdly, will guests even know that they’re eating off of the good stuff- and if they don’t know, will they care if they get the every day plates?

Being a grown up is a minefield of decisions and first world problems.  I know I could ask The Runner’s advice, but he definitely won’t care or appreciate the gravity of the situation.  If there’s one thing I’ve already learned about marriage, it’s that my husband’s level of interest in plates and bowls is limited to how much he can actually fit on the plate.  He will have no opinion on this matter…I may have to call in the big guns for this one.  I may have to call The Mom for advice…and that’s my most important life lesson about being an adult.  No matter how grown up you think you are,  you’re never too old to run to your mother for help!

Stay tuned for more about this Sunday’s Dinner!

It’s the final countdown!

I have to say I’m so excited and nearly jumping out of my skin. It’s our wedding day today. Already the last 18 hours have been super special and super amazing!

Last night we had our wedding welcome reception and it was one of the best nights ever!

It was a family reunion mixed with a Duke reunion mixed with a night out with friends mixed with the best party I’ve ever been to! And it was crazy to think that The Runner and I were the only common denominator in the room full of wonderful, interesting, funny people. I can honestly say that no matter what happens for the rest of the day, last night was an experience that I will always treasure. So much love in one room and so many people who I love in the same place.

It also made me sad- because it is such a rarity. It’s not often enough that relatives and friends just come together for happy occasions. And it’s even worse because The Runner and I are so far away in Australia. We both have amazing family and amazing friends and it was so wonderful to have them all together. I can’t speak for The Runner but it was one of the most amazing nights ever– probably only to be topped by tonight (hopefully!)

All it can say is I’m feeling the love and getting excited!


Let’s take this show on the road!

So here I am at Sydney airport- for once I’ve gotten here ridiculously early so my companion and I have had time to chill out and get into mischief. We’ve gotten our eyebrows tinted and waxed, claimed our tax back, bought a lipstick and we’re now having champagne. And we still have an hour to go!

This is possibly the most excited I’ve ever been about anything ever. Seriously, I get why Elizabeth Taylor got married 7 times, it’s the most exciting, gratitude inspiring, warm, happy and loved I’ve ever felt– and it’s still three weeks away! The number of times someone has said congratulations in the last 2 hours let alone the last 15 months has been– overwhelming! It’s only really hitting me now how exciting and how close it is, and I literally feel like a shaken champagne bottle that’s about to blow it’s top. Literally. So. Happy. Excited. And thankful for friends, family, my fiancée and all the strangers and their well wishes. So overwhelmed and happy and this is only the beginning of the next three weeks!


If you’re on twitter and Instagram, follow everything with #zunigamaher!


An Italian Lunch for Mother’s Day

So, a lot has been going on in the He Runs, I Cook household of late— probably because we’re now a mere 90 days from our wedding.

I say it and I’m shocked.  I write it and I’m shocked.   I can’t actually believe how close August is and how quickly time is flying by.  We’ve been engaged for over a year now and after months of feeling like the wedding was ages, even years away, it is literally right around the corner.  It all hit home last weekend when I was wearing a toilet paper dress and sitting in a circle of my nearest and dearest friends and all eyes were on me (me!).


It was so surreal to be the one in the middle answering the questions… And very surreal when I realised it was MY Bridal Shower.  I was the Bride! 

Whoa! So cool and exciting but eek!  It was really funny towards the end of the afternoon when one of my friends turned to me and said, “Well, that’s it, you’ll never have another bridal shower again.”  Oh (sadface)!  It was a big reminder to take it all in and to really enjoy every step of the next 90 days.  Whether it’s stuffing envelopes or picking out flower girl dresses, this will (hopefully) be the only time I do this, so I’d better make sure to enjoy every second of it!

Anyway…..  Today is Mother’s Day and to celebrate I called my Mom and had some friends over for lunch.  It was a great excuse to use some of the super fun pressies I got at my shower last week.   One of the gifts I was really keen to use was the Antipasto Board I received.  It is super cool and don’t be surprised if my new favourite party food is bruschetta and antipasto. 


With the board in mind, I decided to do an Italian Theme lunch for 4.  I used Bill Granger’s “Bill’s Italian Food” cookbook, because I LOVE Bill Granger cookbooks and picked out recipes for a grazing/tasting lunch.  We started with Bruschetta with Prosciutto and Artichoke (yum), and then moved onto a Caramelised Onion and Goats Cheese Frittata, and finally Torn (homemade) Pasta with Parmesan and Butter Sauce.  I made two salads- a lovely Pea, Herb, and Mozzarella and normal Green Salad to go with it all.  Put some assorted meats, olives, and tomatoes on the board alongside the bruschetta and boom!  A really simple lunch made twice as complicated by deciding to make my own pasta.  I served a Free Form Apple Tart from Bill Granger’s “Easy” cookbook for dessert, and even made my own tart base for that too!  (Proof below!)


Overall, I’m quite pleased with my effort and even happier with the amazing new kitchen toys (see napkin rings and candle below!) I got to play with- who knew an Antipasto board could be so much fun!



Happy Mother’s Day!

Goodbye April, Goodbye Wine.

Farewell April, you’ve been awesome.  Eating what I want, celebrating my birthday, three public holidays from work- how could a month be any better?

But now it’s time to pay the piper. Waistlines have expanded and there are wedding dresses to fit into, bridal shower pictures to look back on, hens night outfits to find and honeymoon bikinis to wear– and I don’t want to be a fat bride with a chubby little face in wedding pictures captured for all eternity and future generations.  Not going to happen.  So it’s crunch time.  Time to pay the piper. Time to get real.

I have three months, 1 week and 2 days- 101 days and 52 minutes to be precise– but who is counting?!?  Ummmmm I am!

So I’m hatching a plan, well actually I’m hatching lots of plans, music playlists, RSVP lists, you get the drift.  But specifically the fun times are over in the He Runs, I Cook kitchen.

So here’s the plan-

Step 1:  30 day challenge

Yep, starting tomorrow we’re doing “No You May Not Drink in May”- yep alcohol free May!  And I’m putting it on the blog so that no one accuses me of having a little runner or little cook on the way.   It’s a 30 day challenge.  I repeat it’s a 30 day challenge, not a baby!

Step 2:  3 month detox

Yes, you read that right.  From May 9th, we’re doing a detox.  It’s one that a naturopath gave me a couple of years ago- basically it’s no wheat, no cow’s milk, no sugar, no shellfish, nothing fun really.   But it gets results.  I did it for 6 weeks last time and looked and felt great- I’m hoping that doing it for 12 weeks will help me look and feel twice as good!

Step 3:  Become BFF with my heart rate monitor

Basically, I’m going to exercise. More. A LOT More.  A Lululemon Lot More.  More cardio, more yoga, more Pilates, more Zumba, more Cycle, more who knows.. just more exercise.

Step 4:  Panic

Well, not really panic.  There’s no need to panic at this stage.  Panic will come after my dress has been altered and I’ve spent two weeks in the US without trying it on and it’s the night before the wedding and I’m worried that it won’t fit.  Then I will panic, pray and probably puke until it fits or someone sedates me.  Don’t laugh… It’s not outside of the realm of possibility but let’s hope it doesn’t happen.

So that’s my plan- I’m cautiously optimistic that I won’t need step 4– I mean if people on The Biggest Loser can lose half their body weight in 12 weeks then clearly I should be able to lose a kilo or two– right???

Wish me luck, I’m going to go finish a bottle of wine while it’s still April!  I’ll miss you my little red and white friends….



Melbourne and focus

So if I’ve been a bit quiet lately it’s because The Mom has put the hard word on me and has forced me to get off Pinterest and actually start thinking about the wedding. The wedding that we’re actually having, not my Barbie fantasy Pinterest wedding with matching mason jars, hand crocheted personalised favors and a harpist who can somehow play all of jay z’s greatest hits accompanied by a cellist (celloist?) playing Coldplay mixed in while doves and butterflies are released. Just kidding, I hate birds and butterflies.

Seriously though, The Mom has tightened the screws and told me to get serious and focus. And that has put the fear of the wedding gods and my mother into me. I think the last time she told me to hunker down and focus I was probably in high school procrastinating a science project or math assignment I didn’t want to do.

So I’ve been focusing or trying to at least. Seriously, if I spent this much time, energy and effort planning every day of my life, I’m pretty sure I would have taken over the world by now. I didn’t even think or plan this much when I went to college or moved to Australia. I’m pretty sure I just bought a ticket, packed a bag and left all within about 6 months. (Possible exaggeration alert, I’m sure those closest to me would tell a different story but they’re not here so we’ll go with my version of a three step move).

So, not only have I been stuck in wedding decor hell, but we also away. We were in Melbourne!

The Runner and I go down every year for the tennis and every year I fall in love with Melbourne a little bit more. So much so that every year The Runner threatens to ban me from next year’s trip if I don’t shut up about how amazing Melbourne is and how great it would be to live there!

Melbourne is a slow burn, it’s not a city that smacks you in the face with a Harbour or an opera house or a bridge or a beach. The whole place is just really, understated and quietly confident and cool. It takes a while to realise how amazing it is.

It’s really different from Sydney in nearly every way. Some people compare it to LA vs New York or maybe Miami vs New York. Or [insert city with beach] and New York or London but much, much, much, much cleaner.

Sydney is like an only child, a bit bratty, a bit hyper active, and a bit in your face. Sydney was raised to believe it is special, because it’s parents told her how unique and special and one of a kind she is- just like everyone else. Sydney wants you to like her, no she needs you to LOVE her. Sydney needs to know that she’s the prettiest, most wow city in Australia. Sydney’s the prom queen or head cheerleader- really pretty but possibly a bit superficial.

Melbourne is like a cool big sister or the friend of a friend who was just that small bit older than you and seemed to have it all figured out. You want to get to know her and be like her and find out what’s so cool about her but she’s always one step ahead and full of secrets. She’s not going to give you a list of the “in” places to go, she’s going to give you lane ways and hidden door ways and let you stumble upon a few amazing places that you never want to leave.

Melbourne doesn’t care if you like her, she’s kind of a pain to get to from the airport, her weather is so changeable you will literally get four seasons in one day, if not one hour and lots of places aren’t labelled. You might be looking for a really cool bar or restaurant but without gps and the exact address you may never find it. Melbourne has crazy hook turns and hidden charms, it’s not in your face, you have to go wandering down Chapel St or through Fitzroy or down a lane way to find the really good stuff.

Every time I go to Melbourne I feel like I find 5 places I want to go back to or that I would love to check out- bars, shops, restaurants, suburbs, events- I think I could literally win the lottery and spend 3 months there shopping, eating and bar hopping and never get bored! And there’s so much art, sport and culture there that I wouldn’t feel like I was missing out on anything!

Anyhooo… If you haven’t been to Melbourne, get there! If for no other reason to form your own opinions about it, don’t expect to fall in love at first sight. The city isn’t pretty like Sydney, but if you want a city you can date and get to know better over time and fall in love with for its personality…. Melbourne will win every time!

Now back to figuring out what a peony is and why I might want one at my wedding!

And some photos from our trip!









Ireland– Princesses wanted!

It’s hard to believe it’s only been a week since we were in Sydney! It literally feels like it’s been a month or even longer that we’ve been away!

I leave Ireland in less than 36 hours and it’s been an amazing week! The Runner and I have been in Limerick, Cork, Dublin, Wicklow, and we’ve driven through Kildare and possibly Laois. We’ve met all of his aunts, been to his brother’s AMAZING wedding, gone to the Guinness factory, rode the DART, and slept in a Castle.

Yes, you read that right– A CASTLE! A real live, possibly haunted castle. It was built by a family from the North (of Ireland) in the 1800s, fell into ruin in the 1990s and has been lovingly restored by a lovely gentleman, Pat, to its nearly original condition– well better really. In short, it’s awesome! It has stained glass windows, a snooker table, a knight in shining armour, four poster beds, gargoyles, a wine cellar, and basically anything else you might want in a Castle. Seriously, look it up, castle Oliver

The best part is- it is supposedly up for sale! Here’s the listing click! , if anyone has a lazy 3 million euros, please let me know! It’s a great party house, the wedding was by far the best I’ve ever been to, and I’m sure the house would be equally fun for birthdays, christenings, and retirement parties. Yes, it is a bit eerie to think it might be haunted, especially if you’re there on your own but….it’s so cool and it has an amazing story .

Anyway, I digress, my week has been awesome so far, loving every second of Ireland with our engagement drinks still to come tomorrow night! It’s strange thinking of this not as a vacation but as a trip to visit my soon to be in laws, who are lovely and everything you could ask for in a new family.

Anyway, back to enjoying my trip– if you do want to be a princess for a night- or longer, let me know…. I just might have the castle for you!


You may remember a few months ago I basically gave up everything fun and good and went on a six week detox…. Well I’m going to do it again- with some slight modifications. Why? Why would I put myself through thatagain? Well, because I felt really good while I was doing it and I looked a lot better too. It also happens that it’s Lent, so lots of people are promising to give up things they enjoy. And no, it’s not because of lent that I and doing it. I’ve never given anything up before for it, and I’m not overly religious- I love Christmas and Easter eggs but I don’t go to church– my mother is definitely shaking her head at that but it’s true and she knows it.
Lent isn’t a big deal to me, I didn’t have a pancake yesterday, I’m not getting ashes on my forehead today, in fact I’m not even sure if I could do the whole ash thing, isn’t it just for Catholics?

Anyway, much like Christmas is an excuse to give presents and drink egg nog, I’m using lent as an excuse to get healthy again and detox.

No gluten, no cows milk, and I’m only going to drink once a week. No white foods, no deli or cured meat, limited red meats and shellfish and very little pork too. There’s a whole list of no foods including no fun at all! Don’t despair, I am giving myself one day a week probably on the weekends to break it with one treat, so if you come for a Sunday dinner, it will be real food. Trust me, I won’t be having detox dinners anytime soon, but I am going to do my very best to be good and stay on the wagon most of the time.

I have done this detox before and I lost weight, mostly fat, and felt amazing! I had clear eyes, a shiny coat and a wagging tail. Well, maybe not the tail and coat but I looked great and since I’ve been feeling less than amazeballs recently I figure why not give it a go again! The only thing to lose is my sanity. There’s also the small matter of three weddings coming up in April and May, and a dress I’m hoping to wear to two of them and a beach holiday to Hamilton Island if I’m looking for extra motivation!

So starting tomorrow and probably until my birthday in April, I’m detoxing. I will be the annoying girl who can’t eat half the menu and who asks what kind of milk your fetta is made from (traditionally, it should be goat or sheep, but most of the stuff in Coles is cows now). I’m doing it for vanity more than lent but if I tell people it’s for lent, they won’t ask lots of questions, but only you know the truth!

But just one thing, I know officially lent starts today, but I’m starting tomorrow. It’s my detox and I can do what I want! We’re going to dinner for valentines day and there’s no way I’m not pigging out one last time…. Hello counterproductive…. I know but be quiet willpower and conscience, you’re in charge for the next 6 weeks. I’m having my personal Mardi gras tomorrow night, hopefully there will chocolate shakes, fries, burgers and lots of regret on Friday morning!

Wish me luck!