In Personal on
May 9, 2017

Our engagement party

Instead of retelling the events of the night, I thought I would try something different and share with you all this lengthy and somewhat stressful process planning the engagement party (not sure how I’ll cope for the actual wedding). All in all, I think we were pleased with how it all ended up turning out. Enjoy!

1. Get a notebook/planner/bullet journal for all wedding related things to work out the following things.
I used my dark green TDE notebook. 

2. Set a budget

3. Work out what kind of party you want:

  • is it going to be during the day or night?
  • are you providing lunch/dinner/canapes/byo finger food/drinks?
  • entire venue hire or partial?Ours was held from 7pm, we chose to do this so that people could enjoy drinks and have a good night.

4. Other things to consider:

  • how many guests and who are you going to invite?
    We had around 100
  • how will you invite them?
    I used PaperlessPost and designed my own invitations to cut costs. I’ll be sure to use this app again for our wedding!
  • is there going to be a tab?
    Not a party without a bar tab!
  • is there going to be a cake?
    Yes, I tried to make one myself (even bought the tools for it), but decided it was too stressful, I wasn’t skilled enough to satisfy my own high expectations, so we decided to invest in one!
  • are you going to hire a photographer?
    Yes, professional quality photos are a must for an event like this!
  • are there going to be speeches?
    Kind of? Ours was improvised and casual.
  • is there going to be a DJ?
    We opted for mp3/Spotify to cut costs, as hiring a DJ would not only cost us money to hire, but additional costs were also involved to have them on site.
  • do you want a powerpoint slide?
    Yes! We had one projected on the top wall above the staircase to save room – it added a pretty cool effect too because it filled up the space and made it more interesting.
  • what kind of decorations do you want, and how are you going to acquire them?
    I love foliage and native flowers. I made sure these were sprawled across the entire venue. I also made leafy vine crowns for the bridal party!
  • outfit?
    I went for a simple cream Zimmerman floor length dress (it was on sale, so that was a plus)
  • where do you want to stay after the event?
    Do you need to organise accommodation? Kenny organised airbnb at an apartment just across the road! Which made it super easy for us to unload and transport all the decoration before the event started.

5. Once you have figured out the above, you can now start your research. Begin with your selected venues. Inquire the costs involved for all of them; this is when you’ll learn what additional costs need to be taken into account, and any services that might be complimentary.

We had our party at Lucky Penny, and understated venue (brunch place by day) with an upstairs function room. I particularly liked the white walls surrounded by weathered boards for the modern/rustic look. The major selling point for us was that the venue did not contain bolted down utables/chairs, it held just enough people (100), and it didnt contain strange nooks and crannies that could seclude people. We really wanted a place that would promote mingling without it being overly spacious. To place the cherry on top, the venue is self-decorated with foliage and contains a hanging foliage piece. 

6. Weigh up your options, decide what you would like to DIY to cut costs. 

I decided to DIY: table linen, foliage/floral decorations, hanging fairy lights, signage, neon sign, guestbook, photo booth station, flower crowns 

7. Once you have shortlisted your choices, decide what your priorities are on the night. Work out your costs, then lock and book in your decisions.

We invested in our cake and photographer – both being one of the major highlights of the night! Everyone loved Sean‘s friendly face and easy-going demeanor. He is thorough and just so easy to be “candid” around – no awkward moments…that’s a huge plus! I had a few anxieties about the lighting situation of our venue. Given the nature of our event, it did not at all promote airy light photos I typically enjoy. However, Sean was able to ease me of these worries through his confidence and competency, delivering amazing photos under dim, challenging tungsten lights. He was also kind enough to come to the venue a little earlier to give us a hand on setting up. It’s true what they say when they say it’s important that you can get along with your photographers – it’s even more true that you know the people you are working with care. He even packaged some printed photographs and wooden USB laying on a bed of dried foliage in a vintage glass box! Sean made sure he was able to get a few shots of me and Kenny, just as I had requested even whilst I was stressed and busy trying to entertain guests. But even amongst the hustle and bustle, Sean was not afraid to remind us and take us away to getaway and remind us what this is all really about. For this I thank-you!

It’s truly inspirational to see old friends share their work with the world, I’m not surprised why you’re successful at what you do Tam, artistic talent and attention to detail clearly runs in the family! Tam’s (Humble Crumble) Ispahan cake was also a crowd favourite – everyone loved the flavours of rosewater lychee and raspberry jam in the cake! For those who know me, they would know that these flavours fit me to the T.  The cake was decorated with an assortment of native flowers and leaves I selected from a local florist and the body of the cake was immaculately butter-cream coated with a concrete effect. This was Tam’s first concrete-effect buttercream, so she was a little nervous about the results. But for her first time she surely impressed and I was absolutely over the moon with what she was able to create. Thank-you for being so flexible and accommodating Tam!

I decided to get my make-up done by Kitrina (@kitrinavu), an old friend and colleague. I could not deny her skills and her good-eye for colour when I stalked and watched her build her own make-up business on instagram. She isn’t want to shy away from being creative with her looks, her modern edge is distinct and undeniably captivating. I liked how she made “runway looks” look so wearable! Thank-you so much for doing such an amazing job on my awkward face.

Tammy (@tiedbytammy) (and future sis-in-law!) did a wonderful job with my hair. As I had recently chemically treated my hair, I really did not want it to get into too much contact with heat or chemical products. She was very happy to oblige, and was very capable of working with minimal heat, whilst using organic products that are gentler on the hair. Tam does a brilliant job creating effortless ‘undone’ looks with perfect loose waves that frame the face. Thank-you for always being my designated hairstylist!

It was so wonderful to have been able to catch up and reconnect with old friends, and even better to know that I can support friend’s work! Knowing that I can rely on friends truly makes all of this so much more meaningful. A party that can seem so self-absorbed and so concerned with outward appearances, can be less so when you can support others in the process. I am so lucky to have such  talented friends!

8. Try not to stress. In the larger scheme of things, this is only one day/night. You have plenty more important things to invest your energy and life-savings in. Be reasonable with yourself, and make sure you just do the best you can to have a great time with great people around you! 

A few of my favourite shots from the night…

In Uncategorized on
January 24, 2017

2016 in Review

2016 has been the biggest year for me, and certainly one of the best years of my life. We designed our engagement ring, bought a townhouse, and got engaged!

In all my years of blogging, I think I have always complained about my lack of independence. My parents would always set me limitations and treat me like an incompetent child. I had curfews, always scolded at about minute living habits (ie. cleaning my spaces in the house), and I always had to report my expenditure – whether or not I earned the money myself. This year, it was finally different.
As much as a new year means new resolutions, it is also about reflection.

  • I learnt, truly, how hard it is to earn a living. If I collected money for every time I was told about how lucky I am to be a teacher, or how many great holidays I have, or how they too wish to be a teacher, I would maybe be as rich as every other teacher I think deserves to be. Although every day of teaching consisted of work and after hours study, and each day with their unexpected challenges, I have learnt that instead of only being self-critical, I should also remember how many positive things came from just my first year of teaching. After having a student tell me I was an inspiration to him, and a teacher reporting that another student (known to be ‘stuck in her ways’) said she hopes I would be back teaching at the school the following year because I opened up the way she perceived things…made 2016 even more precious to me. It’s so incredibly rewarding when students themselves recognise you for your hard work and (as corny and repulsive as this sounds) completely surreal to know that you have made an impact on their lives.

  • I am continuing to learn about how many more things outweigh material objects and desires. And although I still have to work on recklessly spending, I do admit that I am getting better. I also acknowledge that when comes the time where I really need to save, I will. And it’s only taken me till now to realise that you don’t really understand the extent to which we need to save until we’re in such circumstances. Ever since buying our own place and getting engaged, I realised the sheer enormity of having a mortgage and how important it is to save for the basic necessities to live comfortably in our own home. As many of my close friends are at the same stage of their lives as we are, I see how vital it is to develop good spending habits, and that we cannot take anything for granted. Despite the heavy burden of financial responsibilities that comes with #adultlives, it is so absolutely thrilling to know that we can settle into a home after the wedding! So many girls have dreamed about their weddings since they were young, I don’t know whether I’ve really had this moment. I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing, I think it’s neither. Rather, I find myself being so much more excited about our place and to hopefully have money to decorate our own space, a couch to sit on, and a bed to sleep on…quite literally. Of course none of this is to say I don’t care about the wedding, it’s simply about reminding myself to keep my priorities in check.
  • Speaking of money, I also learnt and continue to learn that although money is important, I cannot be greedy. Sometimes enough, is really just, enough. If you have enough to get by, it’s a good amount to help you remember what and how to value things, experiences, and people. It’s true what they said, #moremoneymoreproblems. Yet, I do concede that my understanding of this is still a work in progress.
  • This year I also learnt a lot more about myself and the relationships I have with other people. I’ve learnt even more how they require work and good, regular communication!

It’s been a blast 2016. I hope that 2017 can be just as awesome (and hopefully less stressful).

“The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they make the best of everything.”

In Personal on
December 24, 2016

The Proposal

As some of you may know already, I’m engaged! I wanted to share and document this very special day here on the blog. Kenny went to tremendous lengths to try and surprise me. Knowing someone for 10 years can make surprises very difficult to execute, but he did incredibly well. Although I by no means expected a proposal attached with all the bells and whistles, I appreciated so much how much thought and time he invested in this to make these moments an unforgettable one.

I know the following debrief might sound cold and distant, but I don’t want to bore you with all the verbose descriptions. I’ll try and explain his complicated plotting as concisely as possible.

– The day(s) before (Week of the 12th of December 2016) – 

  • Tuesday 20th was the last day at school. Kenny told me we would go on a surprise getaway on the 21st, and asked me not to ask him any questions. With great determination and urgency, Gaby asked me to get nails done with her on the 20th. Suspicion #1: They’re both either trying to make me think the proposal was going to happen on the 21st, or it was actually going to happen.
  • He had told me that the plan was to go to Geelong for the weekend(17th-18th) because there was a beer tour at the brewery on Sunday (18th).
  • Saturday was the day for previous exhibitors photoshoot at Brunswick Street Gallery at 6pm. We would then go straight to Geelong from there.

– Friday 16th of December 2016 –

We went to Chadstone to grab a couple of things. As we were walking around Chaddy, we noticed that one of my favourite stores had opened – COS. Kenny said he wanted me to find something for him to buy me as a Christmas present – perhaps an outfit I could wear to tomorrow’s gallery photoshoot and to Geelong (Suspicion #2).

 – Saturday 17th of December 2016 –

We went to Naked for Satan for drinks and tappas before the gallery. He carried the DSLR everywhere, as well as his bag, claiming that he wanted to take photos of me at the gallery photoshoot – and that he just ‘felt like’ carrying his bag (Suspicion #3). By now, I thought he might pop the question at Geelong by the waterfront (because he said that we should have a late dinner at Geelong and walk around the waterfront).

– How he proposed –

Little did I know, when walking up the steps of BSG, I noticed soft music playing from the gallery “You are my sunshine”. I then noticed the small gleaming candles lined up from the entrance into the gallery space. At the front of the entrance was a photo of Kenny holding a picture frame containing lyrics. At this point, I was just confused and was wondering why there was romantic music and candles at an exhibition photoshoot. I did not realise anything until I saw the rest of the setup, with more frames aligned on the sides to create a path, each sitting on top of a bed of my favourite green palm leaves, friends and family in each picture. I’m not usually a crier for sappy things, and I warned Kenny that I wouldn’t cry and apologised in advanced for my lack of tears. But by the 2nd frame, I suddenly felt a surge of emotions overwhelming me. Even though David was seamlessly taking photos and videoing us, tears still came gushing out of my eyes!

I couldn’t believe how much effort he put into the proposal. The gallery space which already holds so much meaning to me as an important achievement in my life, the clever theme being weaved through a frame within a frame within a frame (inception!), and the overall beautifully set up backdrop involving my favourite greenery (thanks Tammy & Aviel!). I could not have thought of a better, more well-suited proposal (I wish I could take credit for the idea! haha #credithog). You all know me so, so well.

I cried several more times throughout the night, I don’t think I’ve cried quite so much in the past 48 hours.


– The scheming –

  • Kenny asked the curator of BSG to get into contact with me about a Saturday evening visit to have a “chat”. However, I declined the offer as he told us our plans were to go to Geelong. This backfired badly for Kenny. The poor guy.
  • As a result, he had to construct a fake identity and pretend to be another person that works at the gallery. With this fake identity, he emailed me explaining that we had once met at the exhibition, and that they were going to set up a photoshoot with previous exhibitors. I asked if we could do it earlier, but was met with the response that it was only going to open at 6pm and that it would only take 5mins. They would make sure to book me into the first slot so that I could promptly leave.
  • Despite not remembering who this person was, I thought the name sounded familiar and that maybe I had just forgotten. He had me fooled there! Still, I did not make it easy for him.
  • I told him I would probably go, then we could go straight to Geelong afterwards. But even then, I was still unsure, and said that I would decide on the day. Ken was shaking in his boots.

– More Surprises –

Following BSG, Tammy organised for us dinner at Noir in Richmond. Their oysters were amazing. Afterwards, we left to go to our accommodation that was gifted from Tam at The Hilton in South Wharf. On Sunday we went for Yum Cha with Ken’s parents in the city. We then checked out of the hotel and left to visit Faith who helped us design our ring. I had not known till we got there, but there on her new studio front window, was a poster of our engagement ring design. It was so flattering to see how proud she was of the design. Tam then booked for me to get my manicure done at Missy Lui in Armadale (where the decor was amazing by the way)!

Sunday night, Kenny surprised me with another dinner. I thought we were going out, but instead we went back to his place where I was greeted with happy familiar faces. Friends gathered and decorated his front yard with leaves, the same frames at the proposal, candle lit bench top, balloons, and a bbq on the go! What a perfect way to end our special weekend.

– Thank-you –

I’d like to again extend gratitude to everyone who helped Kenny in this process. Special thank-you to: David for making time to document and record our special moment (images attached in this blog), Faith for the immaculate design of the ring and for tolerating my pedantry,

Special thank-you to:

  • David for making time to document and record our special moment (images attached in this blog)
  • Faith for the immaculate design of the ring and for tolerating my pedantry
  • Miriam for letting Kenny borrow the perfect space!
  • Tammy for sharing ideas with Ken, organising and setting up our special weekend
  • Gaby and Dan for helping with the set up and for being there!
  • Ken’s parents/family for helping set up the bbq
  • Christina, Phillip, Willy, Lina, Richard, Beven, Nghi for your support and also helping with the bbq!

In Inspo, Mood, Opinion on
September 20, 2016

Home Inspo

You can never be too ready when setting up yourself for the future. It hasn’t been until recently where I’ve really begun to take interest in my future home – you know you’re getting old when all your friends around you are getting married, moving out, and would rather shop in the homeware section over the clothing aisles. I guess that’s just it, being able to experience “the next chapter” vicariously through my friends has given me some good insight as to how seriously I have to save up in order to be able to gratify my expensive taste. I’ve also become aware of how difficult it is to envisage the kind of aesthetic you want your future space to be…it’s easy finding bits and bobs that you love, but putting it all together is a whole other learning curve of its own.

My style and taste is constantly evolving. Looking into the future now will give me time to discover what it is I like, what is practical, and what is long lasting. I always thought I would go the “minimalistic” route. But the minimalistic home isn’t, like all “minimalistic” trends, very minimal at all. Minimalism is a concept or lifestyle that demands simplicity, removing anything that is not a necessity and promoting things that are only vital. In the context of fashion, this suggests that things are low maintenance and essential. In reality, this has become nothing more than an aesthetic. It’s a trend which takes more effort to maintain and a lot more money to obtain. Take, for example, that white couch, that marble table, and those overpriced white dishes with gold brimming. Personally, I feel like the “minimalist” aesthetic has become too cliched, banal, and unimaginative.

Read more

In Outfit, Style on
June 20, 2016

Ancient Gorman

IMG_1661

A nonsensical update.

Unfortunately, as life would have it, I have been unable to spend more time on creative outlets such as this blog. When I do have free time, I am either lethargic, unmotivated or uninspired. Either that, or I feel the need to do extra work and stay even more ahead of schedule for my lesson planning – though I’m slowly figuring out that this becomes redundant as I find myself revising over the prep I had done the other week. Speaking of working in my free time, I don’t think I’ll ever get around to publishing my research in a journal as my access to resources has been completely cut off (due to not being a Monash student anymore – this is when you really appreciate how much free access to information we had as a student). I am completely annoyed with this, despite knowing that I can’t have possibly expected myself to work on a journal submission first year out on a new job and in deep water. Big, fat, URGH.

Term 2 holidays is in sight – my goal is to try and edit my research paper so that it is publish-worthy. I’m 99% sure it won’t happen because I have no resources. But I also want to be 99% sure that I gave it my best shot regardless.

I need to give myself a break. Read more