NOMA

NOMA Copenhagen

It felt like winning the lottery, when we found out we got ourselves a booking at the world’s Number 1 restaurant (currently No. 3 in 2015)! It really was difficult to contain our excitement and lower our expectation knowing that it’s the best restaurant; so honestly my emotions were just in such a mix of confusion I just didn’t know what to expect.

When we first stepped inside, we were literally welcomed by something like 10 staff standing at the reception; all smiling and eager to take us on this culinary journey. It was a very different start to another Top 10 restaurant I visited earlier in the trip.

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True to its concept, the interior felt incredibly organic and calming. Now I can’t possibly include all the 17 courses and matching wine in one post, but I’d love to show you some of my personal favourite dish and my thoughts.

NOMA Courses Colours

Fermented wild plums & wild beach roses

As NOMA operates on set menues, between the moment we sat down and the moment that our first dish landed in our plate, it was surprisingly fast. Our first dish reminded us of beetroot and it wasn’t quite like that. While it looks moist, it was actually quite crispy and light. Although I have to point out that all 17 courses were fairly light, otherwise we’d have difficulty making through 17 courses.

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The first shoots of the season with scallop marinade

Here’s the thing about top 10 restaurants, they are no longer just food, and they are no longer just experiences; each dish is an artwork. Carefully crafted by many men and women to arrive in front of us in the most exquisite manner. The charred fresh shoots were beautifully arranged on – what I can pretty much say with confidence – one of my favourite set of crockery, that have been brushed with scallop marinade. To be complete honest, it felt wildly organic yet indulgent.

NOMA dish may 2015

Cabbage and roses

I hope I’ve captured the delicate nature of these cabbage leaves. They were semi transparent leaves that felt like would disintegrate as soon as I touched them. Thankfully they held together long enough for me to get them to my mouth.

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Monkfish liver

This dish was made by first freezing the monkfish liver, then shaved onto this perfect grilled bread. How perfectly grilled? There’s a guy that standards at the grill and only puts on the grill two at a time. Just the right amount of fire…

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Here’s what you get with an AUS$600 meal: nothing short of perfection. I have a tremendous amount of respect for people who are dedicated to their art and craft. While my friends and I laugh at the prospect of grilling two pieces of bread on a BBQ for a whole afternoon, we know perfection is not a laughing matter. It might be two crispy bread, but it was one of the most delicious bread I’ve ever had. Knowing someone carefully cooked it for me, makes me appreciate it even more.

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White asparagus, black current leaves and barley

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Lobster and nasturtium

Before we go on, I need all those vegans and vegetarians out there to stop reading here and just keep scrolling until you get to the bottom, because after you’d probably not like me after I describe this amazing dish.

This, ladies and gentlemen, might not look like much, but it’s simply the most exquisite lobster soup with leaves. When I say the most exquisite lobster soup, this isn’t cooked with water with lobster in it, oh no no, it’s lobster cooked until it’s disintegrated and liquified. Lobster soup cannot be more lobster than this soup. More of the work in progress photos later. Keep scrolling.

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Rhubarb and sheep milk yoghurt

This is how I NOT normally have my rhubarb and this is certainly not how I have any sheep milk yoghurt. It is one of the most refreshing thing I have ever tasted. And I that is perhaps one of the beauty and success of NOMA; it reimagines an ingredient and gives you its taste at its finest and purest form.

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Forest flavours, chocolate and egg liqueur

That’s the thing about well presented dishes, they look SOOOOOOO good I almost don’t want to eat it.

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The tour after the meal

I don’t know how we found out, but diners are able to request for a tour of the kitchen following their meals. You may or may not know that I LOVE the behind the scene stuff, so touring the kitchen was a HUGE deal for me. You see, only after you go through the behind the scene of NOMA you truly appreciate that this isn’t just a restaurant, it’s an institution. 
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Here’s the first thing that strikes me, IT IS SO CLEAN. It’s definitely a show room kitchen. I don’t know what these people use and what type of training they go through, but hell, it was so neat. These guys in the photo above are cutting up asparagus into thin two inch wide pieces. Look at that neat pile.

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Now I don’t know how you deal with lobsters, but I can barely keep my face clean when I’m EATING a lobster, let alone cooking one. Look at this work of art below, these guys are cleaning and sorting out the lobster for the 2 dishes that they will serve their patrons: Lobster soup (as shown earlier in the blog) and a lobster tail dish (not shown in this blog).

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Granted, this is a Scandinavian kitchen that’s been awarded No.1 restaurant in the world; and they deserve it in every category. Quite honestly, I imagined for the kitchen to have lobster guts spilling and water dripping all over place when it comes to cooking this crustacean, but there isn’t a tail out of place and a shell mismanaged.

Now the Ground floor showroom kitchen ends here, but the REAL behind the scene of behind the scene starts. Above the magnificent restaurant lies an even larger institution that makes NOMA, which houses a large kitchen preparation space, where any cook from the world can be an intern at their kitchen for 3 months;

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a communal lunch room, where they obviously use for prep. talk as well;

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their own green house;

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a library of food;

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a library of books;

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a creation space, where these artisans talk about what their next creation would be. These guys only use the freshest ingredients, that is, whatever is in season. While I was there, I was informed the next ingredient they were looking to incorporate is fresh peas. Ahhhh, just think about all the possibilities that peas could be other than mash….

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Annnnnd the big surprise, the main chef himself. Ta-da!

While we were there, we were fortunate enough to meet the man himself and talk to him about the many interesting concepts. Now that I know that he’s coming to Australia to house NOMA, everything he has said to me at the time has taken on a completely new meaning. Knowing that he lived in Australia for a period of time, and the fact that he brought NOMA to Tokyo, naturally we asked the one seemingly uneducated question any fan-girl fan-boy would ask: When is NOMA coming to Australia?

Looking back, Australia was obviously in the works and he would have been thinking about for quite some time. At the time though, we were seriously confused by his question to our question, which was: “What is Australian food? Australia is well known for your steak, so is Australian food a really good steak? But you can find good steak anywhere. What are some of Australia’s traditional food? What are some Australian traditions. We know there is an indigenous community in Australia that haven’t integrated very well into the society, and what if they had? How would that shape the food you know? “

At the time, we thought Rene was giving a round-about way of saying no. Who knew all these questions were part of a grander scheme. All in all though, I have to say this was a really eye-opening experience. I felt like I ate the essence of Nordic food in that 17 courses.

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Before I sign off I just want to leave you with this pictures which is the group of chefs and helpers preparing staff lunch. Quite honestly, it looks like the food I’ve been served at other fine dining restaurants. It’s not that NOMA captured me in just their food, and it certainly isn’t the price of the meal that surprised me, but it’s their utter dedication to their art and the intensity of the passion they have for culinary perfection. What a privilege to have been there and experience all of Rene Redzepi’s creations.

And borrowing words from Anton Ego, the incomparable food critic from ‘Ratatouille’, I look forward to (and really hope to go to) NOMA Australia, hungry for more.

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Iceland: The Destination Part II

Architecture
 Icelandic houses
Icelandic Architecture
Icelandic Architecture
Most of the structures I found in Iceland definitely fit into the nordic architecture I learnt about; thermal mass walls, pitched roof, small windows. Beautiful and clean, and slightly austere. And then, I’d drive along the beach (yes, beach in Iceland) and fine modern buildings like these:
architecture in Iceland
I love the geometric shapes of all this modern building sitting next to a very traditional church.
Not all churches are like the above, for example, there’s a little church in Reykjavik.
Church in Iceland Reykjavik
Iceland Reykjavik Church
 And by little, I mean not little at all. It’s so freaking amazing I’m pretty sure I stood there in front of the church repeating ‘OMG OMG OMG’ to myself. Which, considering it’s a church, is semi-appropriate. It’s a pity I never got to explore the interior of the church, because I can just imagine the incredible ceiling and workmanship.
Landscapes
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Iceland Hot River trek
Funny thing is, the vast landscape fuels the existential thoughts over many moments on the road. The empty land and the howling wind makes me question so many ridiculous things about life.
How did people start a fire here if the wind is so strong? Are the grass here constantly wet? Am I cold or just hungry?
Gelato or Ice Cream? What are the puffins thinking?
Iceland in Spring
Iceland
HOT SPRING!
Iceland hot springs
I can’t talk about going to Iceland without talking about the Hot Spring. Of the time that I spent over there, I can definitely say we found one of the best hot springs and I enjoyed the experience even more than the famous Blue Lagoon hot spring. Yep. Really.
Let me break it down for y’all. Hot springs are awesome. Hot springs with nice facilities are even better. Now, imagine those beautiful blue water filled with tourists, so it’s loud and it’s crowded. That’s what Blue Lagoon is like at times. Beautiful hote springs with great facilities are like a tourist magnet.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a was very nice experience probably because I had an in-water massage (which I don’t really know how I got through so smoothly, considering I have an irrational fear of water). You get these special mud to put on your face so you get to have a mini free facial while soaking up the sun in the warm water. Not only that, you can purchase beer from the bar in the middle of the pool!
I can honestly say it was a pretty cool experience.
Now, before I go onto to describe to you my favourite lagoon/hot spring experience, let me explain to you the process of getting ready to go into the lagoon. They have strict rules when cleaning yourself for getting into hot springs and swimming pools. I feel the need to explain this because during my research, it didn’t really come up; and while there were diagrams and signs, I didn’t know just how STRICT it was.
Follow these steps and do not jump backwards or skip the steps:
1. Leave your shoes/slippers outside of the change room
Once you enter the change room, you could essentially walk bare foot from shower to the hot springs and vice versa.
2. Use the bathroom
Of course, you don’t have to, but if you need to use the bathroom, now is the time
3. Undress and leave everything in the locker. IMPORTANT: Take your towel & swimmers with you!
You get fully undressed and take everything you think you need later with you. For example your sunnies and or hats. Don’t try to put your swimmer on at this point, but be sure to take them with you. You’re suppose to only put it on after you’ve washed yourself completely. This is a DRY area, so don’t come back to get your swimmers after you shower.
4. Hang up your towel & swimmers near the shower section
If you’re anything like me, you would have trouble undressing in front of strangers. So you’d be wrapping yourself in towel to minimise that awkward nakedness exposure. This is the moment to put away that towel and let your bare butt be cleansed like an Icelandic bather would want you to.
5. Wash yourself well. Every crevices and follicle MUST be washed well.
Get those shadowy areas washed. ‘Nuff said.
6. After you’ve scrubbed the SH*T out of yourself, you may put on your swimmer
You should have taken your swimmer with you before, so put it on. You are NOT ALLOWED to go back to the locker. Wet areas are wet. Dry areas shall remain dry.
7. Finally, it’s time for the hot spring!!!
Take your towel with you and enjoy the hot spring!
When you come back later, it’ll be that step completely reversed. The idea is, the wet area doesn’t mix with the dry. So if you’ve washed yourself, don’t walk back to the locker dripping wet.
 Hot springs in Iceland The Secret Lagoon
Now, The Secret Lagoon is the place I recommend if you want a more private experience.
We went to the Secret Lagoon on the day when we travelled around the Golden Circle. So it was after a night of sleeping in the camper van without shower…not the most memorable experience but still a special one. Then, after going to all these cold and wet sights, we arrived at this quaint little place with hardly anyone.
While their facilities aren’t as elaborate as the Blue Lagoon, the Secret Lagoon has all that you need and it’s CLEAN.
 The Secret Lagoon Iceland facilities
The lagoon is basically a large swimming pool with foam noodles provided!! So for a group of Australians who have endured 24 hours of 8 degrees celsius temperature, it was like heaven.
 Iceland hot spring locations
I will definitely go back, call me crazy, but the next time I go back it’ll be in winter. I can’t wait to see the northern lights and the landscape covered in snow. I completely and totally and absolutely recommend Iceland as a stop-over or even a destination to everyone.
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I’ll leave you with this picture of me on the morning of our second day. Standing at the top of a crater I felt like I could see the ends of the earth. Go forth earthlings. Iceland is to be explored.
 Iceland

Iceland : The Destination Part I

Iceland view from plane before landing
First of all, I have to say, you guys have no idea how long this post has taking me. Or maybe you do. I think people might have left and came back from their maternity leave and I’m STILL writing a post about Iceland. Anyway, we all know I can get lazy sometimes, but this one time it’s because there are just so many things to tell you. I couldn’t fit it all into one post, because it’d take you hours to load the photos and days to read it. So I’ve decided to separate it into two parts. So here it is:
For the longest time I don’t quite understand why people kept travel diaries, it all made sense when I started experiencing multiple mind blowing experiences in one day.
Iceland in Spring
 Iceland is absolutely amazing; it really deserves all the hype. From the valley to the hot spring, it’s really not something you’d see anywhere else. My 4 day camper van experience was nothing short of amazing.
To give you some context into how I travelled, we began the journey as a party of 10 in 2 camper vans. Note: great idea if you are travelling with people you are compatible with. Iceland is such a beautiful place everyone has lots of opinions and different ideas, so you all need to agree on decisions like to skip a waterfall and trek to a hot spring. The beauty of having two camper van was the freedom to split up. The other thing I need to explain is that we couldn’t go far because we had to return to Reykjavik half ways through the trip to pick up another member, that meant we only traveled around the south & southwest of Iceland. Still good, but touristy.
Now, the fun part of this post, what we saw.
For most of the first day, we travelled around the Golden Circle. I’ve put together a simple map for anyone who’s looking to do a short trip like me. Just FYI, I would definitely spend more time in Iceland and actually travel around the whole island if I could, but we’re bound by lots of different factors and were only able to travel down south.
Iceland The Golden Circle
We began with travelling around the Golden Circle. During the research stage I read sights around the Golden Circle can be seen throughout Iceland, but the route around the Golden Circle is just shorter. Don’t be surprised, it’ll be packed with tourist.
To start this whole thing off I’m going to introduce to you this waterfall. There are an abundant of waterfalls in Iceland, but this is the largest and the grandest I have seen. (Note: I haven’t been to Niagara Falls.)
The waterfall was enormous and it was so so cold. It might seem like a warm spring day in Iceland, but it’s colder than our Sydney winter. But then again so many places are colder than our Sydney winter. The ridiculous good weather meant we saw this magnificent waterfall against this blue sky and rainbow.
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Iceland Waterfall scene
Gullfoss Waterfall
 Images above: Gullfoss Waterfall
The Geysir
If you like nature doing amazing but random things, be sure to check out the Geysir. Honestly, I’ve seen blow holes before, but they’ll never cease to amaze me.
iceland geyser
The second day we drove outside of the Golden Circle and went further down south to this town called Vik. The town is basically two streets and it’s perhaps one of the smallest ‘towns’ I’ve been to so far in my travels. The most impressive thing around Vik is this place called Black Beach. We arrived at the Black Beach around 11pm and it is truly a sight. It was windy, cold and wet but this place was simply too amazing to stay inside our warm camper vans for.
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This wondrous place starts from the minute you step onto the beach. Instead of sand, the beach is full of wet and smooth black pebbles of different sizes. When you look straight down, all I can see are these perfectly round pebbles.
And juxtaposed with those pebbles are the caves that are made of these jagged rocks that almost resembles the Fortress of Solitude.
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It is too bad that I didn’t take a shot like this:
Star Trek Into Darkness
 If this was ANYWHERE on this planet to get a shot like that without dramatic lighting and a ton of photoshop after shot work, BLACK BEACH is it. Interestingly enough, some French television crew at the same idea. While we arrived on site, we saw a television crew preparing for some filming inside one of these caves.
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No doubt, I had to take some pebbles home with me to remember this experience. If you do end up taking the rocks back like I do, think about how you intend to display them before you take them back. Otherwise you might take 1kg worth of rocks back from Iceland and leave them on the shelf for couple of months.
There are so much more things to tell you about Iceland, including the architecture and most importantly – The HOT SPRINGS!!! Like I said at the beginning of the post, I had to put it into two posts because I don’t want you to spend an entire day waiting for the pictures to load and read through it.

Writing Exercise 1: Free Range {Read at your own risk}

Hi readers of this blog, I recently signed up to do an over ambitious exercise called ‘Blogging 101’. Mostly because I need help get more content onto these screens.

So this is the first exercise as part of the ‘Writing 101’ (okay, I know I just wrote ‘Blogging 101’, but this page I decided click on is called ‘Writing 101’) they ask you to just write / type for 20 minutes. No constructed plans of posts, just whatever that flows from my partial operating brain to my fingertips. So I’m going to let my mind go free range. Cage free. Commando. Absolutely wild.

Annnd, apparently I’m just suppose to publish this. Without editing.

If this is your first time on Little Bennet, God bless you. If you have high blood sugar and possibly low in iron, then I just suggest for you to step away from the screen very slowly. I have no idea what this post will your do to your possibly fragile body. If I have to describe what it’s like for me to write for 20 minutes straight without thinking, it’s very much like squeezing out a tube of tooth paste: Utterly satisfying but I’m going to be left with a huge mess that no one wants to clean up afterwards.

The last time I proof read something that I wrote, I almost gave myself cancer. So now I just pass the responsibility to someone else.

What is worse, I’m listening to Enrique Iglesias. Remember that guy? Neither do I. But he is singing in the background in another language, possibly about how to seduce a girl but who can be bothered to verify that shit. What Iglesias is doing to my ears is very much like what fried chicken does to my body. No, I don’t know what that means either.

Why is that bad though? In the small amount of space that is inside my head, I somehow have allowed Iglesias to occupy the entire territory, images of him wading through the water in his half opened shirt, which only means one thing: tonight I will HAVE to sing “Bai la mooooooooooos” in the shower. I truly feel sorry for the poor guy who has to live with me.

Other interesting things in the immediate area is this sexy bowl of mini M&Ms sitting on my desk. That bowl, my friends, is a testament of self control.

Bai la mooooooos! That was the end of my 20 minutes of free styling. I hope you survived.

 

*I have just corrected 3 mistakes but I had to stop myself, to ensure this task stays true and genuine. Now we have written evidences to the effects of listening to Iglesias.

Change is coming this way…

LB-change

You may or may not have noticed that there has been a layout change to the website. I feel like I’ve been on a loooooooonnnng holiday since the wedding (only not really a holiday, just a break) and now it’s time to make improvements to this blog.

First thing I will improve on is the frequency of the blog posts. So I haven’t been posting very often and I’m going to make it my goal to post something every week. I can try to post everyday, but we all know it will just be a big fat lie if I promise that. And on top of that, I won’t be really into it. So, sticking to posting things that I’m crazy about, but just more often!

Second change you will see is I will add a “Products” page to the top menu bar. Links in the page will mostly be contextual affiliated links. What that would mean is that this blog will receive some commission on sales of the products you purchase via LittleBennet.com “Products” page. The products featured on this blog will be things I’ve experienced or used and genuinely like. If the affiliated links appear on blog posts outside of the “Products” page, they will be marked with *.

So the weekend is coming and I’ve been looking forward to doing lots of home DIYs and try out some recipes I’ve been pinning. Hopefully, you’ll see them either on this blog or my Instagram account.

The ASOS HQ

So I’ve shown you various HQs before, I’m talking about Urban Outfitter, Facebook, Google, Lego. So now I can add one more to the list: ASOS.

Similar to these new age of work spaces, ASOS Headquarter is not only a work space, it’s a showroom + media space + creative space + meeting space. It’s even designed to be toured.

ASOS office HQ

asos office HQ

Following that, have a look at the  design for the staircase from conceptual to construction drawing to the real thing. Large banner of cool looking young adults, dressed in the latest trend, hanging down 2 storey staircase.

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asos office construction drawings

asos office stairs

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asos office 03

asos office wall detail

This I love: these would normally be timber slats that separate the space? Now wrapped in patterned fabric.

asos office details

asos office sketch 02

asos office sketch 03

Image Source

A Man’s Wallet

Thankfully, my man has good taste. (Well, for starters, he picked me right!?:P)

Surprisingly, I actually think has better taste in music and books. It could be that he is a lot more open minded and is driven by logic. More than usual though, I often question his choice in accessories. Not that they’re BAD, they are just…questionable. So when he first told me about this new wallet he was purchasing, I didn’t hold my breath. Now that I’ve seen it, I have to say it’s definitely worth sharing.

First of all, I’m a great believer in the ‘Less is more’ philosophy, so I actually prefer men’s wallet to women’s. Men’s wallets tend to have less patterns and I appreciate the understated characteristics. Some might consider them to be down right boring. Oh well, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
The last two wallets I bought was this one, they were from Oroton Men’s wallet range.

So back to topic. To start, let me show you a picture taken from Bellroy’s website.

Wallet

Source

It’s  obvious that the reduction in size is significant. More importantly though, the thinning of the wallet is not JUST for comfortability, but also a life style change. First you need to look into your own wallet and separate the receipts from the loyalty cards from the credit cards. So what this really wallet really made people do, is question what is really important to them. And discard the rest.

new and old Wallet Comparison

The action of throwing things out is both a physical and an emotional action. Like when you throw out gifts or letters from your Ex, you are attempting to erase them from your memory and moving on to a new stage in life.
De-cluttering your wallet follows the same philosophy: Get it down to the bare essentials.

So when new wallet finally arrived, it came in this pretty cool cardboard envelope with stitches on the side (love details like that). And their logo is an owl! Who doesn’t love owls?
Wallet Detail

As expected, the packaging wasn’t just packaging, it was an extension of the wallet. The wallet was neat, well crafted and felt slim.

bellroy wallet

Bellroy Wallet

One thing I had to ask was how on earth do you get cards out? I mean, cash you can pull out quickly because they’re thin, but when cards are bunch together, it’s veeeeerrry hard to slid them out. Thankfully, these people asked that question too. Here’s how:

bellroy wallet

So if you still have trouble slimming down your wallet, you need to read this first.

Annnnd if our Slim Sleeve Wallet is not your style, but you really would like to spice up your life with some new accessories, Bellroy does other stuff too!!!

Bellroy Wallet range

Source

Oh it’s on!

Alright, so I’ve taken a few weeks (uh…may be a few months) off from blogging. Seriously I’ve been soooo busy! I’ve been going through this crazy busy phase where you can’t REALLY say what you’ve been busy with, it’s just all these LITTLE tasks that drains all your time and energy.

Regardless what it is, I’m back. I’m so so back. And now I’m back to planning and carrying out all those little ideas I have for my wedding.

So brace yourselves, lots of wedding posts are about to hit these pages.

One of the first thing I’m going to tackle is Wedding Decoration.

wedding Table Decoration

Thing is, both my fiance and I had a good look through our budget. Gosh, it’s scary.
How scary you ask? Well, for 140 people, we are already running soooo dangerously close to $40K.
How on earth did we get to that high? Well, that’s another post altogether. It’s one of those stories I need to tell in retrospective.

Point is, wedding decoration is about to become a real gamble for my wedding. So there will be lots of experiments / planning / budgeting / DIYs coming up. I even hope to share lots of my inspiration with you guys, in case you can draw a different inspiration from some of my pins. I even have different experiences and stories told by recent brides and bridesmaids that I will be sharing with you guys.

In the mean time however, please check out my Pinterest Wedding Board to find the above pictures. Some images you see in there might not be ethereal, but TRUST me, inspiration is EVERYWHERE.

So now, I’m off to compose my next blog post! Wedding Flowers Part II.

Toodles!