Is there a right way?

FeaturedIs there a right way?

…Is there a right way to celebrate? Is this my dream wedding?…I didn’t really know the answer until now…

Two pre-wedding celebrations are checked off with one more to go… the one where we finally get to say I DO to each other and officially become husband and wife. ūüėÄ I wasn’t going to write a blog about our whole wedding journey but I thought it would be interesting to look back and read about how I felt one day.

With any newly engaged couple, the soon to be asked question by loved ones is when will the big day be?¬†Growing up, I always wished for a big wedding where everyone watches me wearing a beautiful white long-tailed gown walking down the aisle at a church or a chapel of some sort. ¬†I’m not sure when this beautiful big wedding wish no longer seemed appealing. Looking back, it’s kind of amusing to me that what I wished for as my younger self is nowhere near what I want today. So, we are planning for the extreme opposite of what I had imagined earlier: an intimate affair. Everyone has a different definition when it comes to the word “intimate”. Our definition (which I realized not initially, but way after) was that we wanted to remember our wedding as a celebration with all of our families and friends, filled with precious moments where we got to laugh, chat, and cheer with everyone who has attended. But how? It’s hard enough to have a dinner with 8 people and talk to everyone in an evening, how do we manage if we have 40, 50 or 60 people? So, this led us to the decision to split our wedding celebration into three separate events.

It was an easy decision, but it wasn’t an easy process to execute. We decided to have our wedding with our immediate families only and separate the celebrations with our distant families and friends in Toronto and San Francisco before the wedding. When we (except I’m reflecting on solely how I felt, not my fianc√©) decided to go with breaking up the wedding celebration to be more intimate, my first thought was that there will be LESS to plan and I won’t be as stressed as I would be if there is just one day to celebrate with everyone. We get to try more venues we like and have more tasty food. I haven’t seen much downs for doing it this way, just the upside.

In reality, the process kicked off with lots of questions coming from families and friends. We all get questioned all the time, and the difference is, when we get questioned by the few people who really matter, it challenges my already made decisions. It made me question myself a bunch. ¬†At the same time, I started to realize that there is a whole ton of things to plan for each of these three events. This led to a bunch of heart-to-heart conversations between the two of us, on why we are doing it this way. ¬†This is where I realized I had the wrong expectation. I lost track on the key reason, and went down the track of thinking that it was the easier route. ¬†Instead, the goal of keeping it small was so our guests can, and we can, appreciate each other’s presence in a much more enjoyable (less rushed) manner, instead of an evening racing by without having a conversation with most people. It is not because there is less planning work involved (he never thought there would be less work as I did). These conversations helped me feel much more at ease… that shaken up feeling was slowly disappearing, not entirely gone since I’m a contemplative person, always wondering about the what if’s…

Next, the planning started. For those who don’t know me well. I’m organized and also impatient. This means I wanted to get everything done in one night. Yea… seriously! For people who have planned any event, you would know that the sequential order to event planning matters. It’s almost impossible to kick off all the conversations and expect a response and decisions to be made immediately. There is always a back and forth. Nope, not in this impatient mind of mine. This led to our planning mainly done by my patient and organized significant other. This doesn’t mean I didn’t stress, it just means he will make sure I know he got the situation under control and I don’t stress about all ten things at a time. So I can BREATHE

The very first thing was to pick our wedding venue for the event with our families only, then we can work out the dates of the other venues. This was fun as we get to drive around to different venues around the Bay area and made it our weekend getaway. ¬†I will save the details of this for a future post as the wedding hasn’t happened yet. ūüôā Our next task was to come up with the guest list for the other two celebrations so we know the size of venue to look for. We both knew to keep it intimate, and we needed to be strategic with the invite list. It was difficult because I felt that if I invite “this” person, I should invite another person, which made it hard to keep it small. ¬†Then we went with the rule of “anyone whom we’ve spent time with within last year” and filtered on that. This made the decision much easier and the list much smaller. Also with only our immediate families attending the actual wedding, it also made me feel much more at ease and gave us a lot of flexibility for when and where to schedule the pre-wedding celebrations.

Our first celebration was with our friends and families in Toronto, in July. We researched a dozen of intimate venues, filtering primarily on menu and environment. We didn’t need a lot of space but really preferred dining outdoor especially since the weather should be nice. We decided to go with Auberge Du Pommier. Their seasonal menu looked really interesting and the presentation looked great. (Yeap, we are foodies, so the quality of food really matters A LOT. :)) They also had an outdoor patio, as well as private dining option, so it checked all the major criteria that we had in mind. YES, location confirmed.

Planning is done right? Nope… even for a small intimate (~25 ppl) group, we needed to think about the table and seating arrangements, decor, photographer, makeup artist, menu, speeches… Ahhh… I was stressed just by thinking about all this. Then there is the question of our outfits, which also gave me a headache because I didn’t know what we’ll be wearing. ¬†So… of course… the patient one came to the rescue by breaking up all of these tasks into our todo calendar in the coming weeks.

While we are kicking off one conversation after another for the first (Toronto) celebration, we are looking at the venue for the second friends celebration in San Francisco. We have an even smaller group for this celebration, so the options for this one are endless. I did mention that we were foodies right? So I guess it’s not too surprising that we picked Ramekins Culinary School to celebrate this one with our friends. ūüôā The date for this one was tricky as they had absolutely no weekends available except for one Sunday in August. Yeap, took it without thinking twice about it. Now the same questions apply, which vendors to work with, except someone told me NOT to think about it until July event is over and done with.

I learned that picking vendors is only a small part of the work. The actual work is working with each vendor to figure out exactly what is it you want. For the photographer, it would be a list of shots you like. For the florist, it would be the color and the types of arrangement you like. There is also the rentals for tables, chairs, plates, flatware, dinnerware, and decor, which also comes after you know exactly the type of setting you would like. For the menu, this one is probably the easiest part because we both have pretty high standard on food so if we are excited about the menu, then we were pretty sure our guests will most likely be good with it. ūüėõ For the makeup artist, this one was particularly scary for me because I don’t wear a lot of makeup and I seriously didn’t want to look like a clown. I did a ton of research on what looks natural, and a hairstyle that suits me. Point is, there is a ton of work involved, and I imagined it to be A LOT easier/simpler than what happened in reality.

Looking back, both events turned out MUCH and I mean MUCH better than I anticipated. Ilya (my fianc√©) is always optimistic about each event whereas I was more of a realist. I expect most parts to go smoothly, and some parts to not. Maybe that’s my way of preventing possible disappointment. Thinking back now, even if there were hiccups or things didn’t go as we anticipated, both events would have still turned out great. Most important part are the people, whom we are close with, who were all there for us, and neither the pretty floral arrangement NOR the perfectly prepared sous-vide meat mattered much.

Now, with the one and only wedding ceremony/celebration coming up, I’m reflecting on the last 9 months of planning, coordination, and telling myself not to get caught up in the little things. We all think wedding celebration is a ONCE in a lifetime event, and that’s mostly true. But wedding does not equate to marriage, the formality of a wedding can be done in many ways and in some case none at all. It doesn’t mean there isn’t a marriage. Don’t let what other people have done, or spread on social media, drive your own decision on what fits you and your partner. In our case, it was an interesting journey and, I will not lie, an occasional psychological battle for me. I’m glad we did it this way and stood by it. It makes me even more grateful thinking back to the times when I was shaken up, and he was there to remind the reasons why we did it OUR way.

We achieved exactly what we were going for – Intimate, Memorable and Fun! I wish I could say this is what I knew from the start… we chose the right way for us and I am having my dream wedding. I hope our friends and families enjoyed their time with us as much as we did ‚ÄĒ at the minimum, I hope they enjoyed the dining experiences. ūüėÄ


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Time catching @ Coffee shops, Tel Aviv Day 1

Sitting in a little cozy coffee shop on a rainy day makes me want to write a blog instead of code. ūüôā
Sunday, is a work day in Israel. It’s a perfect day to hop around the popular spots since most people are at work.¬†I’m jet lagged and¬†wanted to get some work done so I decided to hop around different coffee shops instead. I must admit, my first realization on this trip¬†is having a job that allows me to work from anywhere and everywhere around the world is pretty darn awesome. Knowing my own personality, it helps me relieve my own stress of frequent travel (definitely a first world problem!) and minimizes¬†impact on work productivity.

My first stop – Cafelix

A quaint little coffee shop that specializes in artisan roasting of specialty coffee. It offers a good selection. You can ask them for items that are not on the menu such as flat white which is my favorite. I checked out the location at Levinsky market. There aren’t many sittings here but if you are able to get the sitting upstairs, it’s a quiet two people corner that is tucked away from the crowd that goes in and out of the shop.

My next stop – Aroma Israel

One of the largest coffee chain in Israel. Don’t let the word “chain” fool you, they still is able to deliver quality. Israelis love their cafe shops and most of them would tell you this one is worth checking out. They also serve food here, so a perfect lunch spot if you are in the mood for some food with a dose of caffeine. Opposite to the previous experience, this place is huge.¬†There is no problem finding a seat (at the location I went)¬†for sure.

Sitting at these coffee shops helped me feel like the time has finally slowed down for me to enjoy the moment. This sounds kind of odd because 2016 was an¬†great awesome year, so much has happened especially in the last quarter. ¬†It’s exactly for that reason why¬†I feel like time has flew¬†by and I don’t know where all the week days/weekend went. There was an occasion constantly to look forward to and I forgot how to enjoy the moment in the process. I have¬†a craving to relive¬†some of the memorable experiences except there are more in the making. They do say “time flies” when you are enjoying what you do. But Time, can you slow down a bit for me to catch up with you?¬†

Jet Lag – A Blessing in Disguise

Jet Lag – A Blessing in Disguise

I used to hate jet lag and cringe every time I think about my trip return. As I’ve gotten older (against my will!) and my responsibilities grew (inevitably with life), I realized I get¬†a lot¬†more done if I just get up¬†earlier¬†in the morning by an hour. You can argue that you get the same amount of work¬†done at night when you sleep late. I used to think the same except my efficiency proved me wrong AND there were¬†always last minute obligations¬†that¬†interrupted my evenings of productivity.

SO¬†I figured out the easy part,¬†I prefer to get up early in the morning. Now the difficult task,¬†I can’t sleep early enough. I may have succeeded a few attempts¬†of getting in bed early¬†but I was never able to sustain it. Yeap, I felt¬†good for a day about sleeping early and next day I go back to my “good” old routine. It seemed that my body was just wired to go to sleep past¬†midnight! o_O This was a vicious cycle that was almost impossible for me to break. Well, that was until my most recent trip!

After I got back from my recent trip, instead of complaining about my¬†jet lag, I started to appreciate it because it helped me break out of my late night sleeping habit! ¬†HARRAY! ¬†It looks¬†like I’ve been¬†able to sustain it pretty well this time. The trip¬†was to UK which has a time difference of 8 hrs with Pacific Time Zone. So around 5pm, I was starting¬†to feel tired and by 8pm I was¬†ready to pass out! The first day was¬†extremely difficult¬†to stay awake but I knew I had to stay up until a reasonable¬†hour or else I’ll wake up ridiculously early and won’t be able to get back to sleep. On the first day back, I fell¬†asleep a little past 9pm and I was able to sleep until 5am without waking up. Next day, I went to sleep at 9:30pm and woke up around 6. The day after I was able to sleep at 10:30pm and got up at 6 as well. I find my¬†body/mind functions very well with 7:30-8 hrs¬†of sleep so anything additional would be somewhat of a waste in my opinion.¬†Everything I¬†used to do such as workout, read, late dinner, well I took this opportunity to change them up a bit. Late night dinner became¬†early dinner (or rather ON time dinner), end of day workout became¬†early morning workout, reading/learning is also a lot more effective in the morning than at night! ¬†ūüôā

Haven’t thought about how to deal with jet lag¬†from other continents yet but I would probably attempt the same routine. Now days, I feel totally recharged in the morning¬†and I’m getting a lot more done¬†before noon and¬†THAT FEELS¬†GREAT!¬†ūüėÄ

There is always something positive to every unpleasant situation and this is the benefit I got out of jet lag.  A blessing in disguise, shall we agree? XD

International Women’s Day – Thought Provoking

After watching this, I had the urge of writing another post. I saw the news about this a while back but did not know the full story. This documentary made me feel nauseous and it made me realize that there are still many cultures out there that suffers from severe gender inequality issue.

Having grew up in a developing country myself up to my teens, I did not know the severity of gender inequality. International Women’s Day was just a day off from school when I was a kid similar to¬†all the other holidays. After immigrating to North America, the degree of gender inequality that I was aware of pretty much revolved around corporate life and¬†this article below¬†highlighted some of the¬†gender inequality issues we face¬†in the tech field.

Some of the situations they described sounded familiar but I don’t agree with the decisions these people made. If we were to leave every field that has gender bias, this would only amplify the issue, wouldn’t it? Also to keep in mind, the problem you face in one company may not exist in another or may not be as pronounced. Sometimes changing company may just be your¬†solution instead of changing to a different field.

For some of us, we are very lucky to be living in a culture where gender inequality is not as pronounced as many of the other cultures. We should all be grateful for this and yet not to forget that at some point in history, our grandparents or generations before that had to go through what some of these less fortunate cultures are going through today.

Question to myself and to all the other women, how have you dealt with gender inequality when you are faced with such problem?

It’s not an easy question¬†to answer especially when facing such problem in a professional setting. But one thing for sure, I don’t believe in walking away from problems and that goes for gender inequality as well, it is by¬†no way of helping the situation!

Great talk by Alain de Botton

I haven’t blogged¬†for over a month and seriously It seems like just two days ago when I wrote my previous baking post. Where do time go these days? I guess mine went to work and catching up with other personal aspect of my life. I haven’t really had¬†the time to blog some of my latest thoughts/interesting experiences. >.<

Instead of catching up on work right now(supposedly), I wandered off to the realm of wisdom talks by Alain de Botton. I’ve recently heard about this writer/philosopher¬†and started watching some of his talks. These two¬†really¬†stood out (maybe because I can relate to) and I highly recommend them. It’s insightful and I really enjoyed his explanations and some of the examples he gave.¬†Also the question/answer portion is very interesting as well.

As 2014 comes to an end

I decided to make a video using¬†all of my¬†picture highlights throughout the year.¬†I used picasa to make this video and it didn’t take long at all. The tedious part was going through my pictures and picking the meaningful ones I wanted to add.

It’s my first time making a video and I thought it was really fun!¬†ūüėÄ

Happy New Year everyone! This video is a tribute to those who have been part of my year of adventure. Thank you guys! ‚̧

Hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it!

Simply feeling blessed

Simply feeling blessed

A few weeks back I took a weekend trip to Taiwan for my birthday. People have thought it was nuts for such a short period of time but even more so is spending a birthday by myself. ¬†I remember seeing some people’s facial expression whether that is a acquaintance or stranger I came across, they all seemed to have this I’m sorry kind of look.

There is something I came¬†to realize even though I think I knew this already before.¬†Although¬†I wasn’t physically with my close friends or family on my birthday but I felt loved and cared for even more so when I’m away. Distance doesn’t keep those who truly cares¬†away. They will find a way to send¬†their love and wish one way or another no matter where you are.¬†The trip was a present I picked for myself, even though I spent my birthday by myself, I wasn’t alone. I had friends from all over the place that sent me their warm wishes. I had people that have text, called or¬†emailed to let me know that I was on their mind. I was welcomed back with birthday gatherings and surprises. The strange¬†decision to many of spending my birthday by myself only made me feel more certain on how blessed I am to have such a wonderful group of loving and supportive¬†family and friends who truly cares.

I love this feeling, this moment and my life right now. It ain’t perfect but I embrace its imperfection. How can one NOT embrace life when there are so many positive individuals that surround us whom we can learn from¬†and share all those¬†great moments in life with!!

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Holiday season is just around the corner. I hope everyone¬†have a safe and wonderful holiday! My favorite time of the year. ūüėÄ Time to wear stretchy pants. ūüėõ