Search Results

 

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake + Ice Cream

3 April 2014

Almond Chocolate Cake

I am so in LOVE with this chocolate cake recipe! I’ve made it before, in this blog post, Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake.

I don’t use flour. I use almond meal instead.

I also have been experimenting with the recipe by using less and less sugar each time. I’m down to 70g of sugar, it still tastes amazing and it’s still a winner every time I make it (original recipe asked for 100g).

In this picture, I served it with homemade ice cream, mixed berries and roasted pistachios.

OMG soooo yummy!

Ingredients
100g unsalted butter
140g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
70g of brown sugar
3 eggs separated
140g of almond meal

Toppings
vanilla ice cream
mixed berries
pistachios

1. Preheat oven to 160C. Line a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper.

2. Slowly melt chocolate, butter and brown sugar, until smooth. Then let it cool for 5 minutes.
(You can melt it in a bowl over hot water, or melt it in the microwave. I just melt them in a small pot on the stove, on VERY low heat!)

3. Whisk the egg whites until you can make firm peaks when you lift the whisk up.

4. Add the egg yolks into the chocolate mixture, then stir in the almond meal. Mix until well combined.

5. Fold in the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, until well combined. Pour into cake tin.

6. Bake for 30 minutes or until your skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin for another 10 minutes. Turn the cake onto a plate to cool completely.

7. Add toppings and serve immediately!

Enjoy!!!


Love is in the air!

1 April 2014

As I mentioned before, my little sister got married!

BT & CC Wedding

Oooh I just love weddings! And this one was extra special because it involved my one and only sister, a great guy, and all of my family. I was a bridesmaid and part of the wedding party, my 2 sons did a special reading during the ceremony and my youngest son was a ring bearer.

It was such a sweet and fun day… and everyone was giddy with happiness and love!

So as promised, I have a few photos to share.

The photos were taken by Perth wedding photographer Jason Tey, who did an amazing job. When I saw the photos, I squealed with delight upon seeing how pretty my sister looked, how great her husband looked when posing (not awkward or forced), how natural everyone looked, and how the light was captured so… exquisitely!

BT & CC Wedding

I love this shot, they totally look like Korean movie stars :)

This pic needs a title like “The Proposal” or “52 Pairs of Shoes” or something like that superimposed on top.

BT & CC Wedding

Pretty dresses, sparkly earrings, pretty flowers, pretty hair, glam hair, gorgeous makeup – this is one serious girlyness overload.

From the left, of course that’s me, my sister Christine, and Rui Hsian, who is my sister’s long time friend from high school.

Rui Hsian and I are both married with kids, and while we suspected that our official titles were supposed to be “MATRONS OF HONOUR”, we insisted that everyone called us “The Bridesmaids”.

I’ve had so many people compliment us and ask about our dresses, so I’ll be talking about the dresses in another blog post (this Friday!).

BT & CC Wedding

And here we all are. The damn fine looking bridal party at Brookfield Place, in Perth City.

The photographer and videographer followed us all day, from morning till night (9am – 9pm)… and we even traipsed across the city to several locations, just to take special wedding party photos.

It sounds pretty epic and tiring, but we had so much fun, chatting and laughing, and it was all very relaxed and chilled.

Surprisingly the photographer (and videographer) didn’t get in the way at all, they didn’t crowd the space, they weren’t annoying, awkward, pushy or in our faces. They just got on with the things they needed to do, dashing in and out without interrupting our fun.

It was like being on a great big, girly party all day long!

xxx


Sushia Izakaya and Bar

28 March 2014

My sister (who lives in London) was in town last week, and I took it upon myself to organise a dinner for 12 of her/our girlfriends. It wasn’t a hen’s party, it was just a simple dinner and gathering where we all could catch up.

She loves Japanese food, so I wanted to find a place that had great food, suitable for large groups, and was a bit special.

I asked local food blogger, Michelle, and she recommended I try out Sushia Izakaya and Bar in Brookfield Place, Perth City. It was perfect!

It was new, modern, stylish, lots of tables and room to move, a great capacity for large groups, and it had a big open kitchen.

Sushia, Brookfield Place, Perth WA

I’m actually not sure what this cold dish was called. See? This is why I’m not a pro food blogger heh.

It was a platter of mini salmon and chicken tacos, and salmon and avocado entrees. And it was yummeh.

Sushia, Brookfield Place, Perth WA

Although there were 12 of us, we kind of split ourselves into 3 groups of 4, and we ordered a few dishes to share between the 4 people. It just made things easier for us to share food.

The Tuna Tataki (Seared tuna, miso aoli and Japanese dry spice – $23) came out and I almost squealed with delight. I love cold Japanese dishes and this looked amazing.

The tuna was so soft and fresh. Its flavours were delicate and delicious. The miso aoli was heavenly!

Sushia, Brookfield Place, Perth WA

This was the Gyu Tataki (Seared beef with garlic chips, chives, momiji oroshi scallion, ponzu sauce) $21

The beef was aaaaamazing! It was also soft and fresh, and it almost melted in my mouth. There was a bit of crunch from the scallion and a burst of salty and tangy flavours. It was such a joy to eat.

I wish I had to confidence to serve up raw beef at home.

Sushia, Brookfield Place, Perth WA

Then we shared a Gindara Saikyo Yaki (Cod in saikyo miso marinate – $38) which was quite nice. I was told this was one of popular dishes.

However, the fish was not as soft and “fall-aparty” as the previous dishes. I think it could have been due to the fact that the girls and I were talking and talking, that we forgot to eat it straight away, and instead left it on the table (for a good 10 minutes) and it got a bit cold. Nonetheless, I could taste the infused miso flavour and it was really nice.

When all the food arrived, I was afraid that we didn’t order enough, but it was fine in the end. I even had lots of room for dessert.

We shared a Sushia Dessert Platter (which was a nice way to sample a lot of the desserts at once. I didn’t get the names of all the desserts, there was tofu cheesecake, ice cream, red bean pancake, mochi ice cream, chocolate mousse – $35).

I also had a non-alcoholic cocktail, Green Tea Punch (Lemon grass, fresh green tea syrup, fresh lime and apple juice -$14).

Overall it was excellent and I would definitely come back!

Sushia Izakaya and Bar, Perth
Brookfield Place, Basement Laneway
Website:  www.sushia.com.au


This is how we row

21 March 2014

Kayaking at Moore River

I took this photo a few weeks ago. We were camping with friends in Guilderton, next to the Moore River.

We were kayaking, swimming, sand boarding, and building sand castles with friends… all day!

I took Liam out for a paddle and we sang “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” at the top of our lungs, to the other side of the river and back.

I just love this photo. I’m so thankful that I made the effort to reach into my bag to grab my camera and made us pose in the glaring sun.

Liam and I look so happy, so content, so utterly delighted to be alive.

Would you believe that today – 21 March – Liam turns 5 year old?

Happy birthday little buddy! We’ll be celebrating your birthday with a party next week!

(For those who have been following my blog for the last 5 years, join me for a trip down memory lane!)


Netball Diaries

18 March 2014

Netball

Last November (four months ago) I started playing NETBALL for the first time in FOREVER.

I used to play in primary school, and I was pretty good. That is, until everyone else hit puberty first and started to GROW TALLER – then I had no chance. In a matter of months I was dropped from the Division A Team (The cream of the crop! All the cool girls!) and plonked in the Division C Team (with all the book nerds…). Sigh, there went my dreams for a top class netball career. Haha just kidding.

So a couple of months ago a bunch of girlfriends asked me if I’d like to play netball with them. They were all beginner level players and just wanted to get together for fitness and fun. I had just spent nine months of cycling training towards a “Cycling 100km for Charity” event, which, I have to be honest, is a very male dominated sport… so I thought WHY THE HELL NOT, I need some SPORTY GIRL TIME.

So that’s how I found myself standing on a netball court, totally clueless and totally petrified on my first netball game in a gazillion years.

I haven’t mentioned anything about my netball adventures on my blog prior to this, because the only thing I had to say back then was:

“I’m short. I’m crap. I have no ball skills. I don’t know how to play in a team. I can’t remember the rules. My arms are weak. I can’t throw. I have no sense of balance or personal space. I have to play against someone? I’m not very good at being aggressive. I don’t like aggressive players. Why are they standing so close to me? I have to jump and throw at the same time? Oh god the coordination requirements are beyond me! OMG I have to cut my fingernails before I play?!?!”

But you know what? I really enjoyed it. My brain loved it.

Even though I was sooo crap at playing netball…. each week, my brain felt like it was growing bigger. It was making new connections and new pathways. The game was so fast paced that literally every 10 seconds, there was a brand new situation in front of me that I had to solve and make my body respond accordingly. It was SO different to cycling, running, weight training and pump classes. It was awesome.

Now?

It’s four months later and I LOOOOVE my weekly netball games.

It’s such a great workout, such a fun thing to do with my group of girlfriends, and it makes me feel awesome. Yay for team sports.

OH and one week I was actually chosen (by the umpires) as the Best Player on the Court!! I was so so so proud of myself!! I zoomed home and squealed at my husband and kids! They thought I was a bit crazy, but they were happy for me because I was beaming!

I have improved a lot over the months. I’m a bit obsessed about it now. I’ve been watching Olympic netball videos, training videos and reading coaching tips online. I’m very motivated to run more during the week, to work on my core and upper body strength… just so I can play better netball hehe.

I even train in the house at night, standing in front of the TV, by jumping up to see if I can touch the ceiling… and I can now! A bit distracting for hubby though.

So here’s to learning something new, working at it bit by bit and totally smashing it!!

Hope you all have a fantastic week!


Check out our hot spots

17 February 2014

My friend Beverly and I took our kids to Scitech in West Perth – a huge science education centre for kids.

There were hundreds of hands-on activities and interactive experiences for kids (young and old).

The latest exhibition was centred around “Making and Tinkering”. You could make your own stop motion animation, while lying on the floor. You could make a paper cup rocket and shoot it 10m into the sky with a high powered fan. There was an interactive sandpit that projected colours onto your sandhills. There were pots and pan drums, igloo making blocks, ping pong ball obstacle courses… it was soooo much fun!

However it was THIS exhibit that caught our attention.

Scitech Hot Spots

It was a heat sensor display, projected onto a big screen. We were being silly, trying to work out who was hotter between us.

We noticed that while I (on the right) was hotter overall (ahem!), Beverly (on the left) had this very distinct hot spot in her crotch! What was that all about? Zipper? Button? Piercing? G- Spot?

And then we noticed that MY whole crotch area was lit up? Glowing hot! What the? And why was my whole tummy all hot? Why didn’t I have a distinct hotspot too?

We examined and poked at our “hot spots”, trying to make ourselves hotter and cooler. Lifting our tops and showing off our bare skin to see if that made a difference, giggling, cackling and snorting with laughter.

Until we suddenly became self-aware – turned around slowly – and saw that everyone was watching us behave like drunk girls in a bathroom mirror.

A bit embarrassing!


New Beginnings

13 February 2014

Hi everyone. Last week was a huge milestone in my life!

After almost 11 years of being a parent dedicated to the full-time care of my children… my three kids are all now at full-time school. Meaning, I am going to be away from them between 9am to 3pm. Meaning, someone else is looking after my noisy, nagging, fighting, complaining, little darlings for six hours a day, five days a week. Holy crap! It’s been 11 years since I last had an uninterrupted thought.

Yes, yes, I know this is not a new thing to the world. But this is new to my world. To me, this is EPIC.

It marks a whole new chapter of my life. This would be as big an event in my life as when I graduated from high school, got my first job, took my parents to dinner with my first pay cheque, got married, become pregnant, or… bought my first mobile phone :)

So what am I going to do with myself? That’s the question everyone has been asking me.

I’m going to be working from home. I’m going to be a full time blogger, as opposed to a hobby blogger.

Sounds a bit quizzical and vague… so I shall explain. I’ll be running a small business in online publishing (my blog!), being the director, editor, creative director, writer, photographer, advertising and marketing person, fashion reviewer, accountant, researcher, email replier, coffee maker, post office runner…

They are all the things I have done before, but now I’ll have the time and head space to write (and create!) better, and more often.

It’s my dream job! I’m so excited!

Thank you for being on this journey with me.

Here’s to a new beginning!


Staying Connected on Holiday with Telstra 4G

23 January 2014

Demark Roads

Telstra has sponsored me to share my experience of using a Telstra 4G Mobile Broadband device while on holiday.

This was a no-brainer, since over the New Year break, our family headed down to the Great Southern Region of Western Australia – a place famous for its big trees, lush forests, sparkling rivers, amazing beaches, wines, cheeses and chocolates.

We stayed on a remote farm with friends and their kids. We did lots of fantastic activities like boating, fishing, swimming, bush walking, building go karts, riding on quad bikes, driving around the farm on the tractor and ute.

It was so much fun!

Now, we have a pretty strict rule when on holiday, that we do not check our work emails. That’s the point of the holiday is to get AWAY from all of that, right?

But this year, we wanted our kids to be able to Skype with their grandpa everyday while on holidays. He has been a bit sick recently, so we wanted to stay in close contact with him and to cheer him up with all our photos and stories.

So we gave the kids a digital camera and let them take snap shots of all their adventures and favourite holiday moments, which we uploaded to an online photo album. Then they would Skype with him while they all viewed the online photos at the same time.

Here are some pics they took.

Farm Quad Bike

My big boys messing about on a parked quad bike.

Farm Go Kart

The dads and kids made a go kart and took turns to roll down the hill.

Farm

Er yep, this is what happens when you let a 8 year old take photos of “interesting” things during his holiday trip!

Some other ways we used the device to make our holiday better:

We planned to do a bit of bush exploring and wanted to find the location of a waterfall picnic area that we had heard of. So we used the device to help us look up maps and information of the region, and showed the kids where our next adventure was going to be.

And one night we streamed a 58 minute TV documentary about Great White Sharks off YouTube, and huddled around the laptop to watch it! It was very unexpected and entertaining, and a great way to calm the kids down for bedtime (well, sort of!).

Oh and I ASLO used the device to check out the post Christmas and New Year sales haha!

Telstra 4G Mobile Broadband Device

The mobile broadband device says it can connect up to 5 wi-fi enabled devices simultaneously. We did in fact connect 4 (a Samsung Galaxy and iPhone), an ipad and a laptop… at the same time.

It worked just like it was supposed to, and I noticed that it would switch between 4G and 3G, depending on availability, even while we were Skyping, without dropping the link. This is while we were on a farm surrounded by trees and hills, 30kms from the nearest town, and at least 4km from the nearest major road where a mobile tower might be. Apparently, there is an antenna that you can plug in to improve reception, but we didn’t test that.

So while we won’t use mobile connectivity to check our work email and social media every single day on holiday, it’s been really great to have that capacity to stay connected to family, and to download stuff to enhance our holiday!

Click here to find out more information about Telstra 4G pre-paid broadband devices.

And check out how other Aussie Bloggers used their Telstra 4G device here, http://telstra4gwifi.com.au


Are YOU the San Churros Northbridge girl?

21 January 2014

Last night, I was at the San Churro’s in Northbridge, Perth with some friends visiting from Singapore. My girlfriend asked one of the waitresses if she would take a picture of us, and of course, the waitress agreed. She held the camera up to frame us, and then she said:

“Oh My God! You’re Karen Cheng!! I read your BLOG!!”

And then she took the picture, handed my girlfriend’s camera back, and before I could recover from my own surprise and have a chat with her, she left us.

Was that YOU?

I went looking for you later (I even went into the kitchen), but the manager told me you had already gone home. Damn! I wanted to take a picture with you.

The reason I was so shocked by you recognising me is that, while it happens occasionally, I have never, ever gotten used to it. I am actually a bit shy in real life, if you can believe that. In fact, I am really quite awful at meeting people. I mean, I would be a DISASTER at speed dating.

Of course, I realise that this is soooooooo ironic, since I share so much of my life with thousands of people every day. Online, I’m like blah blah blah blah blah, but in the real world, with new people, I am like talking to a brick wall. My friends made so much fun of me after you left. ARRRGH!

So, San Churro’s girl, I am very sorry if I seemed distant, distracted, disinterested, aloof, unfriendly, too busy, snobby, cool, or in any other way unfriendly. I am not any of these… I am just socially inept!

And, if you don’t feel like I am now stalking you in some weird way, maybe you can send me an email? I want to thank you for reading my blog, and I have a couple of questions I’d like to ask you.

My email… karen [at] karencheng [dot] com [dot] au

I hope we talk soon!


Hot Oil Treatment for My Hair

12 January 2014

In September last year, I went to a trendy new Korean hair salon in Perth called Curi Hair to get a perm. You can read my blog post about it here.

Well it’s been 4 months since my perm and OMG I FREAKING LOVE IT! It’s so easy to maintain, so easy to look after, so easy to style, and so easy to have great looking hair every single day. I just wash my hair, towel dry, run my fingers through my hair, put a few pumps of hair oil, then spray a bit of hair spray to keep the curls together. No blow drying, no straightening iron, no boofy frizz!

Anyway, the team at Curi Hair suggested that I should have a Japanese Hot Oil Hair Treatment for my hair about now, because the chemicals used for a perm can end up damaging and drying it. Plus this hair treatment is really popular in Asia at the moment, so I was keen to try it out.

Curi Hair - Japanese Hot Oil Treatment

(What I’m wearing: Bec and Bridge tee, colbalt skirt from YesStyle, and leopard print sandals from Vangoh Shoes.)

Curi Hair - Japanese Hot Oil Treatment

So this is before my treatment.

The ends of my hair are reeeally dry and wispy.

Curi Hair - Japanese Hot Oil Treatment

And this is after two hours of washing, steaming, oiling, cups of tea, and browsing magazines about other Korean beauty techniques! My hair looked and felt quite heavy and oiled, until I washed my hair two days later, and then it looked fresh and healthy – yay!

It only took two hours, it was pretty affordable (from $70), especially since I had a senior stylist applying the treatment.

I totally recommend it if you have damaged hair (coloured, balayage, or use straightening irons and blow dryers a lot)!

Check out more details on the Curi Hair Facebook Page.


What is SMASHED PAVLOVA?

18 December 2013

Hi everyone!

Woolworths are sponsoring me to chat about their new Gold range on my blog. So to test out some of the products in the range, I decided to throw a kick-ass, super-special, Christmas high tea for my girlfriends – a total girl party!

I particularly wanted to make the classic Australian dish – the pavlova (named after a Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova!).

Woolworths Gold

The Gold range featured this pre-made pavlova base – a hand-finished Vanilla Bean Pavlova. This was going to be the centerpiece for my Christmas table.

Woolworths Gold

These were some other indulgent items I bought: After Dinner Chocolate Collection, the Truffle Salami and the Smoked Wagu Beef.

Woolworths Gold

After a few hours of being a DOMESTIC GODDESS… my Christmas high tea party was about to begin.

(I didn’t actually have to do much cooking. I just had to do a lot of “putting things together”, which was perfect for a big, party spread.)

My girlfriends and their children arrived, and we all sat down to a fabulous party!

Woolworths Gold

This was my antipasto platter with cold meats, olives, soft cheese and crackers.

Woolworths Gold

I made little chocolate mud cupcakes and decorated them with the After Dinner Chocolates. I found the cute little cupcake cups from a specialty cake decorating shop.

Woolworths Gold

I put together a huge platter of summer fruits. Too easy.

Woolworths Gold

And ta da – my crowning glory! This was the vanilla bean pavlova, topped with fresh figs, strawberries and pistachios. I got the inspiration from the “serving suggestion” photo on the box!

It looked totally indulgent and incredible :)

I also had some boring ham and cheese sandwiches and sausage rolls for the kids, but that plate didn’t make it to my fancy table spread haha.

Anyway, not long after the party started, the kids were SO SO SO excited about all the free chocolate on the table that… one particularly hyperactive kid (my 4 year old!!) reached across the table aaaaaaand…

.
.
.
.
.
.

Woolworths Gold

MY SON knocked over the cake stand and SMASHED MY PAVLOVA!!!

It was as if the music of life had screeched to a terrifying stop. All the children were horrified. Their little eyes widened like dinner plates and they slowly crept backwards out of the room.

It was tragic, but it was also soooo funny. I had to bite my tongue and stop myself from laughing, and then I DID laugh. Then my girlfriends also laughed, and everything was okay again.

I rushed to grab my camera to capture the wreckage. I thought it was quite beautiful and artistic in a strange, accidental way.

We carefully scooped it all up, and someone said “We can still eat it, right?”

So we did. And it tasted just great! The fresh, sweet, fruit flavours and textures, with the popping pistachios chunks, the silky whipped cream, and the soft, long crunch of the meringue. Yummy!

The children were still so scared that they might get into trouble, that they didn’t bother us for the rest of the tea party. Everyone had a great time.

So that’s my contribution to the great summer pavlova tradition – smashed pav!

All Woolworths Gold products are currently in store or you can purchase from the website here.


Hasta Barista Baby!

16 December 2013

Recently, I had the pleasure of taking a Premium Barista Course, courtesy of Red Balloon.

It was an introductory course called “Espresso Foundations, Level 1″, where I was going to learn about the science and art of espresso making.

Now, I have to say this – I am NOT a coffee snob, and I have NO interest in being a coffee snob.

I mean, I drink instant coffee! With soy or almond milk! And I always get teased whenever I’m with my connoisseur coffee friends.

However, I was interested to why some cafe coffees that I drink are soooooooo good and others are soooooooo hideously bad. I have had so many awful coffees that were burnt, sour, thin, or in some other way disgusting… and I wanted to know WHY.

JUST HOW HARD IS IT TO MAKE A GOOD COFFEE???

Barista Course

I stepped into the little workshop with 2 other barista-wannabees, and I immediately perked up just from the SMELL of coffee.

Our instructor, and lets call him Mr Barista, was very passionate about coffee. He told us a bit about the coffee bean history, roasting, grinding and coffee basics.

Mr Barista let us hold some raw, dried coffee beans… and I popped one into my mouth (like a sneaky child in a lolly shop). It tasted terrible! BLERGH! They were like raw, hard, dried up, wood chips! There was NO nice aroma and NO bitter flavour whatsoever.

He then showed us how to grind the coffee beans, and then how to make an espresso.

Barista Course

Then I had a go. Yup, I pulled my first espresso and it was really easy, hooray!

Mr Barista poured some frothed milk into my espresso… and HOLY COW it was the most amazing coffee I had ever tasted! So smooth, so clean, so creamy. It was heavenly.

But Mr Barista said that it was so easy, because of the way he had set up the machine and the grinder -  apparently it’s really difficult to set it up right.

He adjusted the coffee grinder (just by moving the grinding dial a few notches) to create slightly large coffee grains. He put it through the espresso machine, I tasted it and… it was horrible! Then he purposely ground the coffee slightly too fine… again it was disgusting.

Our task was to adjust the grinder to make that perfect espresso.

Mr Barista then paused dramatically, and told us thatcoffee is sensitive.

(I rolled my eyes dramatically at the thought of the little emo coffee beans getting upset by disrespectful treatment. )

Apparently, the sensitive coffee beans absorb moisture from the air and their texture and consistency are affected by the current temperature, the humidity, the age of the bean, the kind of roast, the blend…  so the barista has to compensate for the combined effect of ALL of these variables by changing the settings of the grinder to produce a coarser or finer coffee. So, a lot like being married with kids, right?

And there were other factors, like how well you compacted the coffee once it was ground, how much coffee you put into the basket, how much water you put through the coffee, and probably the relative position of the planet Jupiter to the constellation of Alpha Centuri.

Not to mention, we had to heat and froth the milk correctly. Omg it was so haaard!

Barista Course

Each time we made a coffee, we could see that the oil that stuck to the basket was the wrong oiliness, or the sponginess of the ground coffee was too spongy, or the flow was too flowy, or the colour was the wrong kind of coffee colour, and each time it took a little bit of tweaking here and there… it took us like 8 TO 9 TIMES and we still couldn’t get it right.

I was shocked (and annoyed) to discover that he was right – coffee is so damn sensitive!

On my 10th go, I finally did it – I made a delicious, smooth, creamy flat white.

I was so proud of myself.

I now really appreciated the fine art of coffee making and the skills of a barista.

Barista Course

The end result was so freaking good.

And here is the bad news. I’ve tasted the good stuff and I can’t go back.

Now, whenever I am in a cafe, I derail the conversation I am having, just to complain about how the coffee is not as good as it could be.

I think I’ve turned into one of those annoying coffee snobs haha!

I absolutely recommend this course for anyone who likes to drink coffee. It was was a very enjoyable and valuable experience.

.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.

The team at Red Balloon are offering my readers a special promotion!

Receive $20 off when you spend $79 or more on any RedBalloon experience!

Visit Red Balloon and enter the code REDBLOG14 at the checkout to receive your discount.

Code can only be used once per person. Expires: 31/12/2014. All purchases are subject to RedBalloon T&Cs, for full details read here.


The Colour of Angry Accessories

9 December 2013

The Colour of Anger

GGGRRRRR!

Like my hat? Bright red accessories are so in!

Red Heels and Red Bag

Since the arrival of my sexy red shoes (from Styletread), I seem to be matching them with other red accessories, just for that extra punch of colour.

Same idea goes for blue shoes + blue handbag. Silver + silver. Bam, bam! Double punch!

I didn’t actually wear the Angry Bird Hat with my outfit. Maybe I should have… then maybe I would have been snapped by some street style blogger? :)

Outfit Details:
Camisole top – Portmans (old)
Skater skirt – ASOS
Heels – Robert Robert heels from Styletread
Handbag – Marc by Marc Jacobs (similar at Shopbop)

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


Peek-A-Boo Pants

24 November 2013

Hey guys, what did you get up to on the weekend?

We did some pruning in the garden… see?

Ripped Jeans

I was completely unaware of my “wardrobe malfunction” because I was happily cutting back my fig tree.

My husband sneakily snapped this photo and said that I looked like a baboon on heat.

Eh?

Everyone in my family had a good laugh… and dared me to post the photo on my blog.

So here we are. That’s right people!

High brow or low brow. I’m up for any fashion related story!

So. If you look very carefully, you might notice that I’m wearing Nobody jeans – oohlala!

I bought them 7-8 years ago at a clearance sale, they were priced around $239, but I got them for $70. I never buy my “expensive” jeans at full price. I always get them from clearance sales!

I don’t know about you, but when my favourite jeans start to wear out and holes appear… I’m never sure on WHAT TO DO with them.

If the hole is at the knee, should I wear them as ripped jeans for a while? Or should I cut them at the thigh and make cut-off shorts? But when the hole is at the crotch or on my bottom… should I patch them up? Or should I really just throw them out?

Sigh, I never know what to do… so I just wear them when while I’m doing the gardening!


Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014 – Two Days of Sweat and Tears

10 November 2013

A few weeks ago, I took part in an amazing charity event, The Ride to Conquer Cancer. We cycled 220kms over two days and raised funds for cancer research.

1336 riders took part in the event, and in total we raised an incredible $5.2 million dollars!!

For my own fundraising efforts, I raised $8,350 with the help of friends, family, my community and my wonderful blog readers – thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

So this is me at the start line. I woke up at 4am and was all geared up and ready to go by 6:30am.

I was feeling relieved that the day had finally arrived. I was happy and excited to be part of such a significant event. I was proud of myself for doing something so worthwhile. And I was emotional and humbled by the touching speeches. The organisers pushed a rider-less bike through the crowd to symbolise all those lost to cancer… and seeing that empty bike being wheeled towards the start line made tears well up in my eyes.

We set off at 7am.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

About an hour in, my riding buddy had a flat tyre! She rode over some broken glass and we had to pull over on the side of the road.

Oh man, I felt so bad for her. If that were me, I would have been in a fumbling mess… and would have lost all my confidence in riding the rest of the way. But instead, I joked around to calm her/our nerves.

Thankfully, a volunteer bike technician arrived in 3 minutes. He fixed the tyre, pumped it up and we were off again in less than 10 minutes! Amazing!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

THEN. The weather hit us.

Look at the storms clouds rolling towards us! The wind was strong. The rain poured. It was cold. It was a pretty miserable day to be riding.

Riding INTO the wind was difficult. It was bloody hard work! I struggled. I was in pain. It honestly felt like 5 hours of agony.

I wanted to cry and give up. My shoes were filled with water, my arms were shaking from the cold, my muscles were screaming in pain… and there was a moment where I thought to myself – WHY THE HELL AM I DOING THIS??!

But then… I’d see a rider pass me, with a yellow flag tied to his bike, indicating that he was a cancer survivor. Yup he was here on his bike too, struggling with the wind and rain, just like I was. Then another yellow flag would pass me. And another.

And yep, it put my own struggles into perspective.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

This is me, with my new attitude. Just cheer the hell up and enjoy the ride Karen!

There was so much rain and wind, that it was almost comical.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

I managed to finish the first day’s ride with a smile on my face. I rode 103km.

Man that was hard. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life.

I wasn’t very talkative that evening. I just wanted to have a hot shower, get changed into some dry clothes, put on some dry socks, eat some hot food, then go to bed.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

I was a little worried that other people’s snoring would keep me awake.

But there was so much rain throughout the night, that the sound of rain drowned out all the snoring. I slept very well!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

The next morning, the sun was shining! HOORAY!

But it was cold – I think it was 6°C or something.

I went to collect my bike from the bike racks and I felt – surprisingly – excited!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

Me again. All rugged up and ready to go!

The weather warmed up and the day turned out to be sunny and spectacular. It was perfect riding weather.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

My poor riding buddy had ANOTHER flat!

Same tyre.

On the last 20kms of the ride, I took it easy and enjoyed the ride to the finish line.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

WOOHOO I DID IT!!!

No words can describe the feeling when you choose to do something really difficult and you conquer it.

I know that I did this charity ride last year. But this time around, it was definitely much harder for me, because I was not as fit as I was last year. I had a few tears in my eyes the moment I crossed that finish line. It was hard work and I did it.

And just like when you watch a movie a second time around, I was much more aware of the little details… the people, the stories and the purpose… it really brought the whole experience to life. And I was so much more thankful for that.

I really want to thank the organisers, the volunteers, the riders, my team, and everyone who donated to this wonderful cause.

Thank to you, my readers, for following and supporting me on this journey!

xxx


Red Robert Robert

4 November 2013

Robert Robert Red

Hello gorgeous!!

I received a new pair of shoes in the mail a few weeks ago, and they are finally making a debut on my blog.

These hot mamas are from Styletread, by designer Robert Robert.

I seriously can’t get enough of them… I want to wear them with everything, with every colour and every pattern!

I’ll be rocking them with skinny jeans, slouchy pants, cocktail dresses and a-line skirts.

I got them on the Up to 50% Styletread Sale here.

Happy shopping!

xxx

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


What’s Happening in Syria? A two-minute summary and how to help.

31 October 2013

Syria Crisis Oct 2013 - UNICEF, by Alessio Romenzi.
Photo courtesy of UNICEF, by Alessio Romenzi.

A week ago, I was contacted by UNICEF for a new blog project. The email title certainly stuck out from the others in my inbox, which are more typically “One Day Sale!” and “Next Seasons Hottest Trends!!”

I was asked if I could talk about the plight of children in the Syrian crisis and to suggest to my readers to donate to the Syria Crisis Appeal.

I don’t know much about the Syrian crisis, only that there is a civil war going on. And I don’t know much about UNICEF, only that they help children around the world.

So I said yes, as a kind of education for myself.

I dived into the research (feeling like a high school student working on an assignment!), reading dozens of articles, special features, photo journals, online videos…

And after spending about 3 hours working on it… I am sitting here in front of my computer, trembling with anger and helplessness, with tears uncontrollably running down my face.

Gaaah, there’s some bad stuff going on in this world.

So here are the major points, because I know your time is limited.

1) Syria is in the Middle East. It sits between Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon. It has a population of 22.5 million people. Capital city is Damascus.

Syria Crisis Oct 2013 - Image Google Maps

2) How did the civil war start? In early 2011, protesters against the government were met with violence. Subsequent protests resulted in massacres, and people were captured, beaten and tortured.

A group of Syrian army officers turned against the government and formed the Free Syrian Army. And since then, tanks and snipers have been used against protesters, air strikes have been made on hospitals, and chemical weapons have been used on civilians.

Syria Crisis Oct 2013 - Photo: AP / Aleppo Media Center AMC
Photo: AP / Aleppo Media Center AMC

3) Millions of innocent Syrians have been caught in between. The UN estimates 100,000 people have been killed. 4.5 million Syrians have been displaced and forced to move. 3/4 of refugees are women and children.

2 million have fled Syria to neighbouring countries like Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, and these countries do not have the capacity to support them.

Syria Crisis Oct 2013 - UNICEF, by Alessio Romenzi.
Photo courtesy of UNICEF, by Alessio Romenzi.

4) Syrians are living wherever they can find shelter – sheds, stables, crowded apartments and makeshift camps and tents made from plastic sheets. Conditions are atrocious. Winter is coming.

Millions of children need water, food, medical supplies and warmth.

The pictures and stories on the internet jolted through my spine. Of course, I feel guilty, living in a country where my biggest drama for today was whether to cook chicken or lamb for dinner.

I also feel angry. This is wrong. This should not be happening to human beings. This is not fair. Not right.

I immediately want to help. But I feel so helpless and outraged at the same time.

I told my older children about all this – as a way to rant and clarify my thoughts. They asked big questions, like WHY would a government treat its people like that? WHERE will all the people live now? HOW will they survive? WHY do these things happen? WHY isn’t the rest of the world doing anything?

Good questions.

Now here’s a bit of info about UNICEF.

UNICEF is the United Nations Children’s Fund.

It is the world’s leading advocate for children and the largest organisation specifically focusing on children’s development and rights.

They work in over 190 countries to protect the rights of children. They provide vaccines, support child health, nutrition, clean water, sanitation, education and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and HIV.

Last year, UNICEF delivered warm clothes, blankets and other supplies like plastic mats and cooking stoves to more than 260,000 vulnerable people in Syria.

UNICEF provided food, medicine, immunisation, sanitation, child-friendly spaces, trauma counselling and schooling to Syrians living as refugees in neighbouring countries. And they need more money to help kids THIS WINTER. Like…NOW!

So, apart from telling you about this, obviously in hope you will donate. I have just made my own $100, tax deductible donation.

You can make a once off donation to the UNICEF Syrian Crisis Appeal here.

A few other articles you might like to read (that will put your own struggles into perspective).

Syrian Crisis Basics
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/08/29/syria-the-very-very-basics/

http://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/syria-dashboard/index.html

The Historic Scale of Syria’s Refugee Crisis
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/10/16/world/middleeast/syrian-refugee-crisis-photos.html?ref=syria&_r=0

Horrors and Violence against Women in Syria
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/26/syria-peace-talks-women-raped

Lebanon suffers under the strain of a refugee crisis now out of control
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/26/syria-refugees-lebanon-save-the-children


The Accessory Report – Necklaces

29 October 2013

Hi everyone!

I’d love to introduce you all to my new blog sponsors, The Accessory Report.

With FREE international shipping, an AMAZING collection of drool-worthy jewellery, all at super-affordable prices (Around US$20-35)… I really hope you like their stuff as much as I do!

They asked me to pick out a few to try… and eeks, I didn’t know where to start! There were so many to choose from.

I had a good think about what I already have in my wardrobe. I have lots of statement necklaces that are better suited to wearing with cocktails dresses and evening gowns.

What I have been lacking… were necklaces that would go with “everyday outfits”… like a crisp white shirt, a grey t-shirt, a white tank top and jeans, a blue denim shirt. But the necklace would still have to look stunning and stylish.

The Accessory Report

So I picked out these two, and I can’t stop wearing them! They are fantastic! They seem to go with everything. And it’s funny, because I would have never thought of buying styles like these in a shop.

Left is the Victoria Necklace in Navy (it is currently sold out, but you can put yourself on a waiting list for when they are restocked). The Grey version is still available though.

On the right is the Odelia Necklace.

If you follow my Instagram and Facebook, you may have seen me wearing them in the last couple of weeks. They are just soooo easy to wear and add a fantastic pop to my outfits.

The Accessory Report

The is me wearing smart casual outfits with the Odelia Necklace. See? It doesn’t look too over-the-top or too blingy!

It looks great and add a finished and polished touch to my outfits.

The Accessory Report

These two outfits are very simple and just a little more dressed up for a night time occasion.

Once again the Victoria Necklace adds the perfect finishing touch.

These are some other necklaces that caught my eye… and have made me very tempted to buy :)

The Accessory Report

This is the Collette Necklace and the Emili Necklace.

The Accessory Report

This is the Monroe Necklace and the Eleanor Necklace.

The Accessory Report

And yes, these are a lot more sparkly, statement and stunning!!

Left is the Petite Kaleidoscope Necklace and the Ruxena Necklace (approx US$30-40).

As for the quality, they match the costume jewellery sold in Diva, Lovisa, Collette, and high street fashion stores like Forever New, Zara, Topshop, and Sportsgirl.

They also stock pretty earrings, bracelets and clutches.

Free international shipping on all orders makes online shopping very sweet indeed :)

Hope you find something you like!

Happy shopping xxx

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


Win a $500 Shopping Spree at Ae’lkemi – Reminder

8 October 2013

Hello hello! Just a friendly reminder here!

My exclusive shopping spree giveaway… ENDS WEDNESDAY 11:59pm!

You can win a $500 gift voucher to spend at Ae’lkemi, instore on online. This giveaway is open to all my readers, worldwide.

Do check out my original blog post about the giveaway, to give you more of an idea of what kind of runway ready gown you can pick from the collection.

Ae'lkemi 2013

Now this special dress is a one-off piece that I borrowed. I wore it to the Ae’lkemi Lumiere 2013 runway show at the Perth fashion Festival… and oh my, being honoured to sit front row wearing this dress, I felt very special indeed! Eek!

That ruffle hem is gorgeous!

Ae'lkemi 2013

The dress is a cross between this Raglan Scuba Dress and this Shoulders Gown. It isn’t on sale on the website, but as I said, you can check out what is on sale at the Aelkemi website.

Look at that sexy back!

Ae’lkemi Giveaway Details
Who Can Enter:
It’s open to all readers WORLDWIDE, over 18 years.

What You Win:
The winner will receive a gift voucher to the value of AUD$500, to spend at Ae’lkemi. No part of this gift voucher is transferable for cash.

Giveaway Dates:
Runs for 2 weeks. Starts on Wednesday, 25 September 2013.
Ends on Wednesday, 9 October 2013, 11:59pm (GMT +8).

How to Enter:
This competition is now closed!

All the best! Hope you win!


Win a $500 Shopping Spree at Ae’lkemi

25 September 2013

Ae'lkemi Dresses

To celebrate the start of the new season, I’m teaming up with award-winning West Australian designer label Ae’lkemi to offer all my readers (WORLDWIDE) this fantastic giveaway!

You can win a $500 gift voucher to spend at Ae’lkemi, instore on online.

OOoooooOOOOoooh so exciting! I wish I could win!

If you win, you can pick out one of these stunning runway ready gowns, that are available from the Ae’lkemi Online Store. These are the ones that I like…

Ae'lkemi Dresses

Left to right – (1) One Shoulder Scuba Dress,
(2) Lace Scuba Dress, or
(3) Paris Knit Gown in Tangerine or Black*

Ae'lkemi Dresses

Left to right – (1) Shoulders Sequin Gown in Moet or Silver*,
(2) Wrap Tuck Dress,
(3) Leopard Print Dress*

* = These dresses are over $500.

Or if you live in Western Australia, you can go into the Ae’lkemi boutique in Claremont and pick out something equally fabulous.

Here’s a sample of some new season colours and fabrics from the boutique.

Ae'lkemi Dresses

You’ll find formal evening gowns, pretty cocktail dresses, sexy party dresses, simple elegant dresses and statement jackets.

There are punchy citrus hues, statement reds, snakeskin textures, graphical prints and lots of sequins!

Ae'lkemi Dresses

And of course, I was given the opportunity to go into the store to select a few dresses to borrow and try out.

The first dress that caught my eye (pictured first in this blog post) was the Shoulders Sequin Gown in Moet.

It is a little more than $500, but oooooooh I adored the elegant colour, the simple cut and the sexy back! It also comes in a pewter and a black.

Ae'lkemi Dresses

This Citrus Dress is also a little more than $500, but I thought it was such a wonderful cocktail dress.

I couldn’t take my eyes off it. It was so bright and vibrant. The mix of textures and fabrics, and the subtle shapes make it a sophisticated and stylish dress. I could wear it to a lunchtime function, a wedding, or a night time party or function.

Ae’lkemi Giveaway Details
Who Can Enter:
It’s open to all readers WORLDWIDE, over 18 years.

What You Win:
The winner will receive a gift voucher to the value of AUD$500, to spend at Ae’lkemi. No part of this gift voucher is transferable for cash.

Giveaway Dates:
Runs for 2 weeks. Starts on Wednesday, 25 September 2013.
Ends on Wednesday, 9 October 2013, 11:59pm (GMT +8).

How to Enter:
This competition is now closed!

All the best! Hope you win!

(By the way, a few of my international readers have fallen in love with the gowns and have asked how Ae’lkemi is pronounced? It is simply pronounced “Alchemy”.)


It Also Cooks Peabrains!

19 September 2013

One day I was having a casual conversation with my 8 year old son… when he said something like…

“Well our microwave is so advanced that it can cook: rice, pasta, chicken, beef, soup, vegetables, children…”

“Say what?”

“Children. Our microwave knows how to cook children.”

“Dude. It doesn’t.”

“Ye-es. It even SAYS SO!”

So he takes me over to the microwave. He presses a few buttons and LOOK AT THAT MUM BOOYAH YOU’RE WRONG AND I’M RIGHT!!!

Microwavable Child

Turns out he just activated the CHILD LOCK.

I kept a very straight face. But inside, omg I was rolling around with laughter!!

Ironically…

A few days later, I wanted to take a photo of the “CHILD” message on the microwave … so I could write this blog post.

I tried everything, and I just COULD NOT activate the child lock. So in the end I had to call him over and sheepishly ask him to activate it!

(Hmm, is that irony? Or just good design? Or perhaps bad design?)


Korean Hair Salon in Perth: Curi Hair

17 September 2013

Early last week, I contacted a new Korean hair salon in Perth because… I wanted a balayage and a PERM!!

The salon I contacted is called Curi Hair and it was recommended to me by the owner of Vangoh Shoes (which I blogged about a few weeks ago), Vanessa. She had a killer balayage and I asked her where she got it done.

She said she went to a new salon next to her Subiaco store (can you see the Vangoh shoe store in the background?)… and it was a done deal – I have always wanted to try a Korean hair salon and I always prefer to go to places with a word of mouth recommendation!

Korean Hair Salon in Perth: Curi Hair

Curi Hair opened about 3 months ago, by husband and wife team, Jay and Tiffany.

I must admit, I was a little afraid that the owners didn’t speak much English and that I would have trouble communicating with them. But it turns out that Jay and Tiffany had been living in Sydney and then Perth for about 7 years, and working in hair salons all over Australia.

Prior to that, they had been living in Canada and of course Korea.

They both have up to 15 years of hair dressing experience, they knew all the names of the local salons that I had tried out over the years, and they even assisted backstage at past Australian fashion festivals. It all made me feel confident that they were professional, had loads of experience, savvy with trendy styles, up-to-date with modern hairdressing news and technology etc.

Plus they were just lovely, friendly and so warm to chat to.

Korean Hair Salon in Perth: Curi Hair

Ok so I told them what I wanted – a balayage and a perm. But they said that a perm can be very drying for hair, so it’s best to have a perm first THEN do a balayage a few weeks later.

The professionals know best, so I was fine with that. I flipped through a hair style book and found what I wanted.

See that hair model in the front, wearing red? BINGO ! I wanted tight-ish curls, no fringe.

Korean Hair Salon in Perth: Curi Hair

So this is my BEFORE photo.

I had a gorgeous balayage done 1 year ago… and I haven’t had a hair cut in 6 months. I often colour my own hair using home hair dye to keep my lighter bits vibrant.

I have been itching to have another balayage (for a few months now), as I want my ends to be lighter for summer.

Korean Hair Salon in Perth: Curi Hair

OK so first up, I had a hair cut (left). Then they gave me a hair treatment which involved putting a steam cap over my hair for about 20 minutes.

The whole thing ballooned around my head as steam was gently pumped into the cap. There were a few air holes in the cap and steam was shooting out (pictured right)… it looked pretty comical and I felt like a kettle.

Korean Hair Salon in Perth: Curi Hair

I actually can’t recall the exact order of treatment!

I think they then put the perm agent into my hair, covered it with a shower cap and then warmed it up with a rotating warming machine (pictured above) for another 20 minutes or so.

Korean Hair Salon in Perth: Curi Hair

While I was waiting, I flipped through the hair style book again… swooning at all the pretty perms.

This is an example page for medium length hair.

Korean Hair Salon in Perth: Curi Hair

And another example page for long hair.

After the wait, they partially washed the perm agent out my hair, then they strung me up to this machine…

Korean Hair Salon in Perth: Curi Hair

Ceramic rollers were rolled onto my hair. Then little clamps (that look like robot hands) were clipped onto the rollers… which kept the rollers heated at a constant temperature.

It looked like some crazy science-fiction, alien robot!!

They told me that this machine (and most of their equipment) are imported from Korea. Regular salons in Australia don’t have this kind of machine… because Anglo-Australians have a very different hair texture to Asians.

After another long wait, they took the clips and rollers off my hair.

They washed my hair AGAIN and put another “neutralising treatment” into my hair (I think?).

They towel-dried my hair. Put in some hair oil.

They blow dried my hair, with lots of twisting and twirling.

A bit more serum and BEHOLD!

Korean Hair Salon in Perth: Curi Hair

Ooooooh I was so happy with the result!!

It looks so pretty!!

Apparently the curls can last up to 6 to 12 months!! Over time the curls will get looser and softer.

Korean Hair Salon in Perth: Curi Hair

The curls look really natural – and not at all like the AUNTY perms of the 80s!

This kind of perm technique is called a “Setting Perm”. It’s similar to a “Digital Perm” which just uses a different machine.

The whole hair experience was supposed to take about 2-3 hours. But it took me 4 hours, because I took lots of photos, talked to Tiffany and Jay a lot, I went out for a toilet break, and I also had to move my car (I parked in a 2 hours parking zone!) and I also stopped to buy myself some sushi for lunch haha.

Korean Hair Salon in Perth: Curi Hair

This photo is me ONE WEEK later, having brunch with my friend Randall.

I was supposed to: towel dry my hair, apply hair oil, then twist and twirl sections of hair into little ringlets… then blow dry the ringlets to help them keep their shape.

But I was in a huge rush and I just did a LAZY BLOW DRY, blasting hot air in all directions until it was all dry haha (sorry Tiffany!). But hey this is real life and who’s got time for glamorous hair everyday? I applied some hair oil and smoothing cream.

[EDIT: This is me one month later. I finally got the hang of it! I just wash my hair, towel dry, apply hair oil, and then some hair spray. So easy!]

Boyfriend Jeans and Checks

I actually love, love, LOVE these soft, bouncy “everyday” curls.

As for creating *glamour* curls (like when I first stepped out of the salon)… I still need a bit of practice to get my curls tighter, more defined and less frizzy.

I’ve also noticed that I have a lot of frizziness, which I never used to have. All my naturally curly-haired friends just laughed and said that was TOTALLY normal for curly hair… and I should just invest in a good hair oil.

I’m definitely coming back for my balayage soon! Can’t wait!

I completely recommend them!

The prices?

The price for a setting perm starts at $180, and it goes up a *little* if you have super long hair.
Balayage starts at $135, and goes up a little bit if you have super long and thick hair.

Cut, wash and blow dry for ladies start at $45
Colour tint for ladies start from $45
1/4 head foils from $45
1/2 head foils from $70
Full head foils from $90

Curi Hair
Unti 4, 103 Rokeby Road, Subiaco, WA

(They are in a little laneway, near the corner of Forrest Street and Rowland, next to the Forrest St Carpark.)
(08) 6161 0710

They don’t have a website yet, but they have a Curi Hair Facebook Page.

A big thank you to Jay and Tiffany!

xxx


Suiting Up with Bec & Bridge

28 August 2013

Suiting Up

Another outfit from my wonderful blog sponsors, Frockaholics. Thank you guys! I’m so grateful!

Aussie designers around the country have dropped a tonne of new stock in stores, just in time for the new season. Look out for fab monochrome items, bold graphics, and floral prints.

Here I’m wearing a super-duper cute jacket and shorts from Bec and Bridge. I love the print! I’ve never worn a matching floral suit. I feel busy, like a newspaper. Yet effortlessly cool, as I sashay around in a camouflage blur of black and white.

They are fab investment pieces, as you can wear both the shorts and jacket separately, again and again. Both are standout, eye-catching, tailored pieces, and both are versatile for polished styling.

There are also a dress and  a pair of pants (in the same print) on sale, but I thought I would get more out of the jacket and shorts.

Top is from In Good Company

Strappy heels are from ASOS.

Felt hat from Sportsgirl

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


I’m Still Alive

20 August 2013

Sunset - River

I stumbled across one of my old photos this afternoon.

It kind of jumped up and took my breath away.

It made me gaze into the folds of colour, towards that pale yellow blur and made me think – is that for real?! Did I really sit in that moment?!

I’ve been feeling a bit lackluster this last week. Not in the mood to talk about fashion. Or shopping. Or share funny kids stories. Or anything really. I just wanted to hang around people I know and love. Just wanted to do normal, boring stuff like folding clothes with my music turned up loud.

But by this afternoon, I think I’m over my solitude… and ready to greet the world with my smiling face again.

*I took the photo about 5 years ago. It was from this blog post. We were at the river, enjoying a warm summer evening by the shore. It was New Year’s Day and we were waiting for the fireworks to start. But turned out that THIS SKYSHOW was so much cooler.


Vangoh Shoes

14 August 2013

Hello hello everyone!

I would like to introduce you all to brand new sponsors for my blog, Vangoh Shoes.

They are an online shoe store focusing on stylish and comfortable shoes and accessories for women.

How are they different? They stock a unique collection of shoes (leather and non-leather) at affordable prices. They focus on classic shapes and styles, with a touch of trend. Plus they ship worldwide.

(Flat rate shipping within Australia is $9.95)

I really like their designs, because the shoes look great and are perfect for everyday wear.

Vangoh Shoes

Barcelona Flats ($47.97), Snake Skin Flats ($49),  and Alexandria Flats ($49).

Vangoh Shoes are run by a husband and wife team based in WA. I spoke to Vanessa Goh, owner of Vangoh, who says her husband actually started the business first, and named it after her (awww is that sweet or what?!). They have two boutique stores in Perth, the brand is stocked in over 30 stores around in Australia and they have an online store.

Vangoh Shoes

The majority of shoes in stock are uniquely designed by Vangoh. They also stock other shoe brands, bags, accessories and jewellery.

I managed to pop into the store to check out their CLEARANCE SALE.

The sale is also online, so do check out the fab bargains.

Vangoh Shoes

These Merlot Ballet Flats were $69.97, now $41.97.

Vangoh Shoes

These Bordeaux Flats are one of their best sellers! Non-leather, soft, breathable. Apparently it is great for people with wider feet, long toes, as it is nice, roomy and comes up quite high on the upper foot.

They were $79.95, now selling for $47.97!

They are a variation of the the Barcelona Flats, also a best seller (seen in the first photo of this post).

Vangoh Shoes

Yep they also have heels for partying, work and events.

As well as a whole swag of colourful clutches and bags.

Vangoh Shoes

A note about Vangoh sizing – I noticed that lots of the shoes I tried on were on the large side.

While I usually fit a AUS Size 5 or 6. I needed to put a gel pad on the sole of the Size 5 in order for it to fit perfectly. So if you’re looking to buy, you might like to try a smaller size.

Vangoh Shoes

OK, so the Vangoh Team let me walk out with 3 pairs of shoes from their clearance sale to test out! Eeek!

I’ll be dressing them up over the next few weeks.

But to start, I’m showing off the Barcelona Flats in Navy in my most classic winter outfit!

As I said earlier, I am wearing a Size 5, with an inserted gel sole. THEY ARE SO COMFY! I have been wearing them everywhere the last few days, and my girlfriends (with size 6 feet) and my mother (who is also size 5) want to steal them from me! It kinda makes me want a pair in all colours :)

Please pop over to the Vangoh Website to check them out.

Rest of the outfit:
Trench coat by Mersh
White t-shirt from Country Road
Jeans by Vivienne Westwood
Tartan scarf by Burberry
Bag by Mimco
Pearl stud earrings from Shopbop

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


Perth Fashion Festival 2013 Calendar Launch

8 August 2013

Earlier this week, I woke up and said to the cold, stormy winter morning, “EAT THIS BIATCH!”

Then I wore the most un-wintery winter outfit I could put together.

Perth Fashion Festival 2013 Calendar Launch

As I headed into the city, I looked *considerably* out of place on the train – filled to the brim with working commuters.

Why does everyone wear black?! Come on people, lighten up :P

Anyway, public transport was good to me…I whizzed past 16 kilometres of cars jammed on the freeway in a few minutes.

Perth Fashion Festival 2013 Calendar Launch

I was excited because I was attending the Calendar Launch for the Perth Fashion Festival.

Champagne on a Tuesday morning! Rubbing shoulders, spilling coffee, eating gourmet pancakes and getting blueberry stuck in your teeth… with the top peeps of the fashion and media industry! What a WIN!

Perth Fashion Festival 2013 Calendar Launch

The launch was held at the ABC TV Studios in East Perth, with the actual gathering and fashion show held inside a TV studio.

I was totally enamoured by all the specialised equipment, the dangling black lights and the technical gadgetery everywhere!

Perth Fashion Festival 2013 Calendar Launch

Was I the only fashion blogger photographing the glowing pink cable bundles/boxes/thingies? POSSIBLY.

Perth Fashion Festival 2013 Calendar Launch

We saw a fashion show featuring local designers, a taste of what’s to come in the full festival.

WA designers such as Empire Rose, Flannel, Morrison, Ruth Tarvydas and Zhivago will be showcasing their work during the festival, with stand-alone fashion shows by One Fell Swoop and Jaime Lee, as well as shows from hot Australian labels such as Camilla and Marc and ELLERY.

Perth Fashion Festival 2013 Calendar Launch

This is Zara Bryson and I, having a SPLURGE vs STEAL moment.

Valentino Studded Pumps $1,090 vs. Ava Studded Heels $65!!

Perth Fashion Festival 2013 Calendar Launch

Anyway I just want to share with you this image from the PFF campaign – Uniquely WA – which actually made me glow with pride and delight. It is such a cheeky, sexy and visually compelling photo.

The concept of mixing WA fashion with WA mining (possibly the most un-fashiony industry ever!) is clever, cheeky and I must say, very entertaining.

You see (for my international friends) – in the last 10 or so years, Western Australia has gone through an amazing mining and resources boom, boosting the Australian economy despite the worldwide Global Financial Crisis. Houses, rent, food prices have sky rocketed over the years, and according to new figures, Perth is apparently now the most expensive Australian city to live in.

Mining is such a huge part of the local economy that there’s a local joke… that what defines and distinguishes WA’s fashion is – bright yellow hi-visibility safety gear haha!

Perth Fashion Festival 2013 Calendar Launch

So I applaud the PFF team for their creativity and wicked sense of humour!

Check out the PFF Official Website for the whole fashion calendar and to buy tickets.


My Little Chicken

6 August 2013

Do you have pet names for your kids?

Liam July 2013

For my 4 year old, I call him my Little Chicken.

And when I do, he responds with a “Bok bok!”

Haha it’s so cute.

Liam at 8 months

The name came about when he was about 8 months old. About the time when this photo was taken.

He used to sit in this funny (and brooding) kind of way.

Ok he didn’t look so much like a LIVING chicken… but more like an upright RAW chicken?! But with a big head?!

Anyway, the name stuck.

(My 10 year old and 8 would kill me if I shared their “official” pet names on my blog. So I might just have to save them for their 21st birthdays.)


Please Help: Mixing Fashion + Cycling + Fundraising!

5 August 2013

Wanderlust + Co Bracelet

Hi everyone!

Many of you know that I’m participating in the Ride to Conquer Cancer this year and I’m fundraising for cancer research.

Well I’d like to introduce you all to my latest fundraising project.

One of my fashion sponsors – the lovely Jenn from Wanderlust + Co (who has supported my blog for many years now) – reached out to me about a collaboration.

For a limited time, she and her team will be donating $5 to my fundraising ride for every Yellow XL Buckle-Up Leather Bracelet sold.

Wanderlust + Co Bracelet

We decided on this yellow bracelet because it’s a gorgeous piece of arm candy! It’s bold and bright, it’s good-looking, polished, one of their shop’s best sellers, and it’s a little bit different.

Plus it is symbolically yellow – the colour of cancer awareness and cancer research fundraising.

(It’s also the winning colour for cycling, thanks to the Tour De France, and it’s also the colour of my bike haha!)

So it perfectly mixes all my loves – fashion, fitness, fundraising and raising cancer awareness.

Wanderlust + Co Bracelet

It’s a really a lovely bracelet for the new season – and it’s especially easy to wear with current trends like monochrome, boyfriend jeans, bold prints, florals.

It is made from genuine calf leather and gold plated screw studs, and it is priced at USD$35.

Here’s the link again – Yellow XL Buckle-Up Leather Bracelet

Please check it out! If it’s not for you then maybe consider buying it as a gift to a friend, girlfriend or wife?

This collaboration only runs for 4 weeks til the end of August.

Wanderlust + Co offers FREE Standard International Shipping on all orders USD50 and over — no promotion code needed. For orders under USD50, there is a flat rate delivery charge.

(If you were thinking of bumping your order to over $50, try this nude + gold leather strand bracelet, which I’m also wearing in the photo above.)

Thanks for all your support!

xxx

(If you’d like to read a bit more about my ride, my fundraising efforts and where the money is going… read my fundraising and cycling posts here!)


Our Epic Overseas Family Trip

17 July 2013

By the time you see this blog post, I will be on a jet plane headed to the sunny island of Singapore!

My husband, myself and 3 kids are flying in for a 6 day holiday, where we will meet my parents, and my brother, his wife and his 3 boys, who have also flown up from Australia.

It’ll be an EPIC family trip! 6 adults and 6 young kids!

It is the first time my two big boys (aged 10 and 8) have *ever* been on a plane, been to a different country, and stayed in a fancy hotel. So they are reeeeally excited! I suspect something as simple as the “breakfast buffet” is going to blow their minds haha.

We are taking the kids to Legoland (in Malaysia), Universal Studios, Sentosa, the Aquarium, the Zoo, Night Safari, Gardens By the Bay… and more. And we’re trying to fit all that inside 6 days. It might not be possible, but we’ll give it a go.

As for my blog, I have lots of posts lined up for the next week and I’ll be posting my updates on my Facebook Page and Instagram (follow me on @karenlycheng).

To end this post, I thought I’d share with you my beauty bag.

Packing for Singapore!

Behold… 3kgs of beauty crap!

(The biggest compartment – not really pictured – was the heaviest, with bottles of shampoo, conditioner, dry shampoo, body moisturiser, night cream, suncream, nail polish remover, cotton pads, etc etc etc!)

Sheesh. Why do us girls do this to ourselves? :P


Back at it

11 July 2013

Oh man, it’s been weeks since I’ve gone for a bike ride.

My running programme has pretty much stopped. And I’ve been to the gym ONCE in 2 weeks.

No I haven’t been sick.

I’ve just been really busy with work… blog projects, proposals, emails, invoicing, backend coding, meetings, photography, editing. It’s 24/7 and it’s the reality of running a small business.

Oh and the weather has been so cold! I walk around wearing 3 layers… stressed, cold, busy, distracted, with a zillion things to do, with chipped nail polish, mountains of laundry to fold, kids fighting and bored on the school holidays… and I’ve totally lost ALL my motivation to exercise.

Even my eating has gone haywire!

And let me tell you, when I eat badly I get hell cranky and shitty.

I hit an emotional wall last week, and I slowly emerged from my train wreck… resolved that I couldn’t change the world before the weekend, by myself.

I accepted that I should stop hating myself and just take a few baby steps in the right direction. Towards the place where I want to be.

I asked my husband for a bit of help. He came home from work early. He took over the home duties, while I dusted the cobwebs off my bike.

Perth City Ride 30km

I rode to the city and around the river. Slow and gentle. The clear winter skies were beautiful. The air was so crisp and cool.

I pushed myself until my distance ticked over 30kms. My legs didn’t hurt. At all. Suddenly I felt good. My body remembered how to do this.

Poached Eggs

Once home, I had a hot shower and made myself a snack.

I made poached eggs on a pile of steamed spinach and lettuce. Just like what I used eat.

I took the time to poach the eggs. Slowly. Just like how I used to do it.

As I carefully sliced open my eggs and watched the perfect yolk ooze out onto the deep green vegetables, I smiled and found my happy place again. In the simple details of life.

I remembered just how different life can feel… by slowing down.

To Stop. And smell the egg yolks, in my case.


Yes it’s my birthday today…

4 July 2013

And look what my boys made for me…

My Birthday 2013

My 10 year old baked two chocolate fudge cakes, (almost) all on his own!

My 8 year old looked through 3 cake decorating books, then he chose and art directed the whole cake decoration process – putting a photo of me in the middle of the cake, surrounded by jelly lollies. My mum says I am two years old in the picture.

My husband iced the cake with chocolate frosting. (I was amazed he achieved this all by himself).

Then my 4 year old decorated it with lollies – all by himself! However we suspect he had LICKED THE BACK OF ALL OF THE LOLLIES to “help make them stick on the cake better!”

Ahh… a cake only a mother could love :P

And look at this! My 4 year old also made me a card…

My Birthday 2013

He even hid it under my pillow. It says: “L (for Liam) HEART M (for Mum). Mum I really love you!”… awww look at all those ticks.

I’ve been showered with so much love this week, presents, cards, messages! *Sniff* I’m so thankful for my many wonderful family and friends and blog readers… and I am so so so happy that I could burst!!

Much love to you all! xxx


YEEHAA I’m Cycling and Fundraising Again!

3 July 2013

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2012

That’s right – I’m going to ride 200km over 2 days to raise money to find a cure for cancer.

Again!

Last year, with the amazing love and generosity from my incredible supporters, we raised a total of $17,160 and I was ranked 12th highest individual fund raiser and given the title of Silver Ambassador! Truly an honour for such an important cause.

So why am I doing this again?

1) It was such a fantastic experience – that I want to do it again.

2) It is a worthy cause. I know there are thousands of charities out there… but I feel a deep resonance towards the West Australian Institute of Medical Research. They are an established and large team of scientists in my home town, doing internationally recognised cancer research… and all the money raised will go directly towards their actual research and projects, which will help everyone around the world.

3) I love cycling. I enjoy keeping fit, staying healthy and having a big fitness goal!

4) I want to make a difference. I want to do something significant. I want to use my voice and my blog to get behind something bigger than me. My husband is alive, and my children have their father, because of cancer research that was done decades ago, and now there is so much more work to be done to find more cures and improve treatments.

So… I would love for you to dig deep and support my ride!

Pretty Please?!

(It’s my birthday tomorrow!!)

Donate on my fundraising page here

Donate any amount you feel you can – $20, $50, $100, $500, $1000! You can leave a public message, or a personal message to me, or just do it anonymously. And you get a receipt, so you can claim this against your tax.

And if you’re interested, you can read the rest of my Fundraising Cycling Stories here.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

xxx


Bib and Tucker Restuarant, Part 1 : My internal conflict. And I’m not talking about indigestion!

24 June 2013

I recently caught up with a few girl friends for dinner at a new restaurant by the beach, Bib and Tucker.

There’s been a lot of hype and fanfare surrounding the opening of this establishment, with the owners being Australian Olympic sports stars – Eamon Sullivan (swimmer), Steve Hooker (pole vaulter) and Jamie Dwyer (hockey player).

Perched on the sand dunes and overlooking Leighton Beach, Bib and Tucker (named after two West Australian bushrangers – outlaw bandits who became folk heros in the 1800s) was said to have a relaxed and beachy atmosphere, offering a modern take on traditional Australian fare. Since it’s opening, I have been very keen to try out their breakfast or lunch menu, and enjoy a coffee in the winter sun.

But my girlfriends had booked for dinner at 7:30pm on a Friday night… so when I arrived, it was pitch black, it was howling with wind and rain, and it was so cold! I raced out of my car and into the restaurant as quickly as possible and the whole “beachside feel” was totally lost on me. I promised myself I would come back another day for lunch!

Bib and Tucker offer a set menu for 10 people, at $70 per head. I really liked the idea of a set menu that everyone shared. It meant that we all got to try a lot of different dishes, instead of just two dishes (entrée and main course). But $70 per head (not including drinks) seemed a bit expensive to me… or ahem, am I just cheap?

Anyway, when I sat down and saw the menu…wayhey there were so many dishes that I felt that maybe it justified the price just for variety alone!

Bib and Tucker - June 2013

For starters, we had house marinated olives (not pictured) and wood fired flat bread with house made dips.

The bread was fresh, lovely and hot, with a perfect balance of soft bits and crispy bits. Eaten with the beetroot and feta dip, it was a yummy start.

Bib and Tucker - June 2013


Charred squid with fennel, almonds and chorizo.

This was a fantastic entree. It totally appealed to my healthy side and it felt like good “clean eating” food.

My girlfriends and I have been having big fancy dinners about once a month… and I don’t usually take photos of the food. But this time I wanted take some snaps for my blog, so as each dish arrived, I whipped out my big Nikon DSLR and went all paparazzi on them. My girlfriends thought it was hilarious :P

They even helped me style the food and find the best looking piece of grilled squid to plonk on top. Gotta love your girlfriends!

Bib and Tucker - June 2013

Quinoa, corn, pomegranate and mint salad.

This was a delicate and light salad. Although it didn’t look very pretty, the fresh mint flavour complimented the sweetness from the corn and the pomegranate really well.

Bib and Tucker - June 2013

Rotisserie pork belly, fennel and apple puree.

The pork was soft and juicy, however the flavours were perhaps too subtle – I felt it lacked a WOW factor.

Bib and Tucker - June 2013

Iceberg lettuce, pickled cucumber, seeds and sheep’s milk salad.

Ok this is where it got weird for me.

I understand the concept of reinventing “old fashioned” Australian dishes with a modern twist, but this dish really gave me… an internal conflict. And I’m not talking about indigestion. I’m talking mental confusion.

On one hand, if they just presented a boring side salad, with chopped lettuce and a bit of shaved cheese, everyone would have thought “HOW BORING!”. And I wouldn’t even be photographing and talking about the dish.

So yes, this dish got my attention. The concept and presentation was certainly unique, strange and interesting. It made patrons (like me!) stop and think about the combinations of food, the origins (I assume the “sheep’s milk” referred to the cheese), and why it was assembled that way etc.

But I think it was the fact that this dish was featuring something so simple as iceberg lettuce… it made me a bit annoyed because I was so distracted by the concept. My brain was churning away with conceptual considerations, like it was a controversial modern artwork… but it was just a side salad of mostly iceberg lettuce!! I couldn’t decide whether I liked it or not! And even as I type this blog post, I still can’t.

Bib and Tucker - June 2013

Crispy skin fish, with romesco and char grilled squid.

Ah this was much nicer! The fish was soft, succulent and tender… and the romesco sauce gave it a great lift.

The presentation made me imagine that I was in the outback and a weathered, master fisherman was cooking good, old fashion “bush tucker” for me… and this is how it would look, fish and squid all cooked up, thrown together in this fresh, natural, unpretentious platter.

It tasted good, but I didn’t think it was OMG YUM.

Bib and Tucker - June 2013

Leighton Mess – Meringue, lemon curd, yoghurt sorbet and textures of strawberry.

OK THIS DISH was the MIND BLOWER for me. It was fricking aaaawesome!!

I didn’t look at the menu before it arrived, so didn’t know what it was. It looked like a smashed up messy dessert. And when I tasted it, I gasped with surprise and enjoyment and I knew it was a modern take on the classic Australian pavlova… and it was sooooo goooood!

The meringue was an amazing mix of crunchy, soft and gooey. The yoghurt sorbet was cold and mild with a lovely milky taste. The lemon curd gave a contrasting blast of tang and creaminess. And the strawberries wrapped it all up with berry-depth and sweetness.

It was such a delight and I thoroughly enjoyed the concept this time.

Bib and Tucker - June 2013

Last was the White chocolate and raspberry ice cream sandwich.

I got the old-fashion napoleon ice cream reference. I got the ice cream sandwich reference. It was like a reference to 1970/80 Aussie kids treats.

But I was so blown away by the previous crunchy-soft-gooey meringue, that I didn’t spend much time thinking about this dessert. I gobbled down my slice, and then went back to have seconds of the meringue. Oops.

It was a Friday night, the place was packed and noisy… but I still managed to have several in-depth conversations across the table. The service seemed fine, which contradicted several reviews I read. The waiter-dude serving my side of the table was very friendly and attentive. He was also very warm and pleasant when I asked permission to take photos.

Overall: I’m conflicted. I can’t decide whether the whole modern menu concept was pretentious or brilliant. Was this kind of dining… clever and unique, or just overpriced and trying-too-hard?

I thought the food was just good, not amazing. But maybe, not on a busy Friday night while trying to talk to my girlfriends about babies and boyfriends, I would have appreciated it better?

I would love to come back during the day to try out the lunch or dinner menu, on a week day/night. I’d definitely take up the opportunity to try this again, just me and a foodie friend. Hence I’ve called this post Part 1.

Bib and Tucker
18 Leighton Beach Bvd
North Fremantle, WA

Bib & Tucker on Urbanspoon


Celebrity Styling Charity Fundraiser

18 June 2013

Hey! I’m excited to announce my latest charity and fashion project!

Rockingham Shopping Centre Charity Styling

To celebrate the brand new fashion season, 7 West Australian celebrities were invited to put together a winter outfit for Rockingham Shopping Centre … to raise money for 7 different charities.

And I have been chosen to be one of those “celebrities”. Haha! I’ve never actually been called a “celebrity” before!

Also participating, are 3 Australian Football League players, a radio DJ, a local Mayor, and another fashion blogger. Each celebrity nominates their favorite charity… and my chosen charity is The Ride To Conquer Cancer, with funds going directly to the internationally recognised cancer research at the WA Institute of Medical Research.

We each were given some time to”go shopping”. The guys (apparently) went into 2 stores and grabbed their outfits in 15 minutes flat.

Me? I took nearly 1.5 hours… I went into something like 20 shops and I grabbed soooo much stuff. I picked out 3 or 4 possible outfits and I couldn’t really decide which to go with. The poor marketing coordinator was following me around with a rack on wheels, full of my chosen clothes. I felt so embarrassed for my indecisiveness and I was so grateful to her!

Later on I bumped into Will Schofield of the West Coast Eagles – and in case you don’t know, AFL players are all massive, tall, young, hot, super athletes with the bodies of gods… and most of them seem to have too much facial hair ;)

Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to get his autograph – which would have been very cool for my sons, who regard him to be a REAL celebrity.

Anyway.

This is me wearing my styled outfit. When I picked out the items I was a bit nervous that the bits and pieces might not work together… but when I eventually wore the outfit, I just adored it! It’s very me and very much in my style – modern classic, feminine, and polished.

Rockingham Shopping Centre Charity Styling

For the actual styling challenge, I was asked to choose one “expensive item” and then try to keep the cost of the rest of the outfit around $150. That’s why I took so long to shop around!

My most expensive item was the Portmans White Blazer ($99.95) and the rest of my outfit was $166.75, which is excellent value for one whole outfit.

Navy tank from Temp ($6.95), lace skirt from Dotti ($9.95), monochrome metallic clutch from Valley girl ($16.95), t-bar studded shoes from Novo ($79.95) and silver necklace from Valley Girl ($12.95).

Rockingham Shopping Centre Charity Styling

This is my final outfit on a model… check it out here!

If you vote for a celebrity’s outfit, Rockingham Shopping Centre will donate $1 to their chosen charity and YOU go into a draw to win $150.

And even better, if your celeb’s outfit receives the most number of votes, you go into the draw to win $1,000!

Voting starts NOW and ends 5pm Thursday 27 June 2013.

Please vote for me!

All you have to do is leave your name, email, suburb and postcode. It takes less than a minute!

You can vote as many times as you want but are limited to once per day, per celebrity.

According to the terms and conditions, anyone (from anywhere in the world) can vote, but if you win the $1000 (or $150) gift card, it is only for spending at Rockingham Shopping Centre. So I guess you have to be a resident of Western Australian. Or at least, have a friend who lives here :)

Thanks for your support!

xxx


Seriously Blogged Up

14 June 2013

My 4 year old and I went for a long cycle the other day.

We rode through parks and playgrounds, and eventually we stopped at the top of a little hill, looking down into a small pond. Our eyes widened.

We know this pond quite well. The edge is usually full of green water reeds, and it is teaming with ducks, water birds and insects.

Today however, the pond looked as if there was some major construction or dredging going on. The water was gross, brown and septic looking. It was dirty, muddy and messy.

“Whoa! What’s going on??” The both of us exclaimed.

Pond Blogged

Upon careful observation, it looked like the local gardeners had dug up a whole lot of dying water reeds and made piles of the rotten debris. It was not a pretty sight. Or smell.

I was going to turn around and explain my observations to my 4 year old, when he asked,

“Mum what happened to the pond? Why is it all blogged up like that? It looks seriously blogged. Yuck I hate all this blogging stuff. Hang on. Don’t you have a blog? Is this what you do?”

I stood there looking at the pond. At that exact scene in the photo above.

And number of thoughts ran through my head.

Yes. The word “BLOG” is not a very pretty word.

Yes. If you join the words “Blocked” and “Bog” you do get the word “Blogged”.

After 13 years of running my blog, I think my 4yo had possibly pinpointed the most natural-sounding meaning for the word.

I wanted to laugh and cry.

And I just said, “Yep, it looks seriously blogged.”


Dinner Meal Plan for May 2013 – Week 4

27 May 2013

This is the first time I’m sharing my Dinner Meal Plans on my blog.

I’ve had so many people ask me what kind of meals I cook for my family… so here is this week plan!

Enjoy xx

Dinner Meal Plan for May 2013 - Week 4


Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

14 May 2013

Red Balloon have been providing me with some amazing experiences for me to blog about – experiences that I choose, based on what I’m interested in and what (I believe) my readers would possibly like to try. I’ve been flying, paddling, ballooning, cooking, dining, etc.

One of their top selling experiences, happens to be V8 Car Racing – where you get to drive a super-car around a race track at mind numbing speeds.

Red Balloon have suggested (several times) that I could give the experience a go, but each time I would decline politely. Because I have absolutely NO interest in driving a car very fast, in circles. I’d be bored, dizzy, beyond stressed, and terrified! Why would I do that? Especially when I have the option of choosing a day spa experience!

However, MY HUSBAND loves cars and loves the thrill of speed. He’s a totally unique man with the heart of a typical little boy :) Haha aren’t they all?

So when Red Balloon asked me yet again if I’d like to drive a race car…. this time I proposed that maybe my husband could do the drive? And I can capture the experience for my blog? And who knows, maybe my readers might like to buy this experience for their husbands, or hey, even try it out themselves? They said yes and it was a done deal.

Phew. I got outta that one!

You should have seen the smile on his face when I told him about it. It was his birthday present and his anniversary present all rolled into one :)

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

Anyway, as we drove to the event, he was acting all cool, because of course, he is much too grown-up to be excited like, say an 8 year old boy.

He was matter-of-factly explaining to me car facts… and things like why it is called a “V8″ car – which is apparently because the engine has 8 spark plugs and they are arranged in the shape of a “V”.

Instead of pointing out that I didn’t care, I foolishly asked how the arrangement of the spark plugs could make the car go faster… and unfortunately that led to a long, detailed explanation of how it is not the arrangement of the spark plugs that make the engine powerful, but rather the size of the spark plugs and that the arrangement of them merely makes the powerful engine compact enough to fit inside the car. WHATEVER!

But then he stopped talking – which rarely happens. So I asked him if he was okay. And he said that he was – “getting in the zone”. Eh? I suspect he was actually just trying not to wet his pants with excitement.

We arrived at Barbagallo Raceway in Wanneroo, which is about 15 minutes north of Perth City.

We stepped into a visitor’s lounge, found the registration desks, and got ourselves signed in. Then we mustered on the viewing platform with 50 or so other people, while we waited for our session to start. We watched dozens of cars zoom by. And they all sounded like they were broken… they were so noisy! We were at least 50m from the racetrack, and the cars were so loud that the water in my drink bottle was vibrating!  Even I had to admit, the sound of roaring race cars revved up my adrenalin.

We were greeted by a friendly guy, who led us to our briefing room. Only the drivers needed to attend this briefing, all spectators just waited at the viewing platform or the grandstand. But I was allowed to tag along, because I was taking photos for this blog post. I felt a little special – and totally out of place!

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

25 men (and me) sat down in the briefing room. They were aged from their early 20s to 60s, all wearing sneakers, jeans and big smiles on their faces. Everyone of them looked like an excited 12 year old boy to me :)

The walls of the room were wood-paneled, covered with signatures of famous race drivers, team hats, championship cups, framed photos of car racing guys… it was all very charming in a man-ish way!

The briefing was excellent. The guy in the picture turned out to be Greg, the founder of V8Race, and he was great. He went through the goals of the experience, the particular aspects of driving to focus on, what gears to use at what corners, the track map, showed us a quick video of a typical driving experience… and all their safety protocols.

It was professional, systematic, very (VERY) thorough and at the end of it… even I felt completely confident that I would not crash the car.

My husband was again cool, calm and excited.

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

We walked down to the crew pits on the track. My hubby is the guy in the blue jeans – walking towards fulfilling one of his childhood dreams haha.

Ah the smell of burning rubber and petrol fumes :P

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

As we entered the tent… a team of people helped all the drivers get into their fire-resistant suits, hairnets and helmets.

They were really attentive, constantly giving the divers safety checks and tips.

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

The men lined up and sat down to wait their turn.

We waited too, watching and listening to all the cars blast by. SO LOUD! And when a car pulled up to change drivers… the brakes were so hot from all the braking, that there was smoke coming out of the wheels! The ground was peppered with little tiny bits of black rubber that had been shredded from the tires.  It was all so – extreme.

My husband was going to have the “6 Driving Laps” experience. Whereas some people were having “3 Laps Ride Only ” or “8 Driving Laps ” or even “Drive and Ride 12 lap Combo”.

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

Hooray, when it was my husband’s turn… he was introduced to his driving coach and they hopped into the car.

A crew member helped him get buckled up, briefed him about safety, and then several other people did further safety checks of the safety checks. There were two guys just directing the cars safely in and out of the pits.  It was all very well organised.

The inside of the car was as bare as could be, and most of it was taken up with a huge spiderweb of metal pipes all welded together – the safety cage, in case the car crashes.

He started the engine and then he was off!

While he was having a “slow” warm-up lap, I walked up to the viewing platform to take some action shots.

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

Holy moly! It was soooo loud and fast!

My husband was driving at 240km/hr or something crazy like that!

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

Each time he came by, I could tell he was getting faster and faster.  It was pretty cool to watch.

But I did wonder how they stopped people (like my husband) from crashing the cars!

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

After what seemed like ages (to me), my husband finally finished his last lap and he pulled into his bay.

He stepped out with a HUGE SMILE and looked so so SO thrilled and pleased with the whole thing.

Just like a sports journalist, I was immediately in his face asking, “So how do you feel?!”

Well… no more Mr Cool. He described it as a SENSATIONAL experience! Bloody brilliant! He would definitely do it again. It was one of the best experiences he’s ever had, ranked alongside swimming with whale sharks! Best. Present. Ever. So good, he would do it AGAIN!

And I stood there dumbly, going “Are you serious?! For real?! Driving around in circles?! Wow. Ok.” — I just do not understand!

But you know what, I guess I don’t have to understand… I was so happy to see him soooooo happy! :)

My hubby also discovered from his coach that the coach has an emergency brake and engine-kill switch – so that is how, if it all goes wrong, nobody gets hurt. The coach literally teaches the driver how to go faster and faster during the session, and makes sure that, if it is necessary for one car to pass another, that this is done safely.

We also purchased a USB in-car recording which shows a view of the whole thing from inside the car (which was very cool), and there is also a souvenir framed photo.

This experience is perfect for guys (or girls who love cars!) as gifts for significant birthdays, anniversaries or any special occasion! V8Race is Australia wide, with experiences available in VIC, NSW, WA, SA and NT.

It was a fantastic experience!

And I drove home, at a very comfortable 60km/hr, thank you very much.

.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.

The team at Red Balloon are offering my readers a special promotion!

Receive $30 off when you spend $129 or more on ANY experience.

To redeem: Visit www.redballoon.com.au and enter the promotional code REDKC13 at the checkout to receive your discount.

Terms and Conditions: Offer valid until 31/12/13. Promotional Code can only be used once per person. All purchases are subject to RedBalloon T&Cs, for full details read here.


What To Buy This Winter: Checks, Khaki and Citrus Knits

10 May 2013

If you need a few ideas on how to update your winter wardrobe, why don’t you give these a go.

What to buy this winter: Checks, Khaki and Citrus Knits

1) Try Wearing Checks
I picked out this checkered shirt a few months ago and I have been wearing it non stop since – but this is the first time it’s made a debut on my blog!

As its colour is black and white, I find that I can throw it over *anything*, coloured jeans or an animal print skirt or over another print top, for some print on print action.

It’s my best winter buy so far!!

Outfit: Check shirt (from YesStyle), white tee (from CiaoBellaTravel), khaki JBrand jeans (from my-wardrobe.com), wool coat (Witchery old), black boots (from Betts).

What to buy this winter: Checks, Khaki and Citrus Knits

2) Try Olive and Khaki Colours
If you’re used to wearing black, white, grey and a neutral palette… khaki is a very easy colour to wear and add to the mix. It’s not too loud or bright and it goes with lots of skin colours.

Whether it’s a khaki jacket, pants or top… you’ll find that it’ll match with lots of things you own and give your wardrobe a fresh rework for the new season.

3) Try a Shirtdress
A shirtdresses might sound scary (voluminous, shapeless and unflattering), but whatever shape or size you are, you have to go TRY one on. You’ll be surprised!

Some tips for finding a great shirtdress – Make sure you wear it with a belt. Go for a neutral colour like black, navy, charcoal or cream. And always try to go for better quality fabric.

Outfit: Shirtdress (AL&ALICIA), jacket (from YesStyle), belt (from Morrison), suede boots (by Tony Bianco at The Iconic).

What to buy this winter: Checks, Khaki and Citrus Knits

4) Try a Citrus Coloured Jumper
If you’re like me, you probably own a lot of dark coloured jackets and coats (black, brown, grey, navy or beige). Try adding a splash of colour by layering up with a citrus coloured knit.

A predominant colour in the latest Sass and Bide collection is this electric orange (pictured left), which I have fallen in love with. But it’s a bit out of my budget for this winter, so I will be settling for this –more affordable – knit by Blue Juice, pictured in the middle!

Left to right: Sass and Bide Knit (new season $290), Blue Juice Knit ($89.95) and Ladakh($99.95)

Enjoy your weekend!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


(No Added Sugar) Date and Walnut Loaf Recipe

24 April 2013

(No Added Sugar) Date and Walnut Loaf Recipe

I actually published this recipe on my blog about 8 years ago!

And I’m still using the recipe as it is – however my techniques have changed a bit, such as, I melt the butter instead of creaming it with a hand mixer.

This loaf is a delicious to serve with afternoon tea. It is best eaten WARM. So make sure you reheat it, if it gets cold.

My children like to eat it with a smear of butter on top and a drizzle of honey.

Or if you’re feeling a bit indulgent, heat up the date loaf until its piping hot and serve it with vanilla ice cream – insane yumminess!

(No Added Sugar) Date and Walnut Loaf Recipe

225g dried dates
pinch of bicarb soda
150ml of water
75g butter
1 medium sized egg
225g SR flour
75g walnuts, chopped
¼ cup of other random chopped nuts or seeds
handful of roughly chopped nuts and sunflower seeds

1. Heat oven to 180ºC. Grease and line the base of a loaf tin.

2. Chop the dates put into a small saucepan, with water and bicarb soda. Simmer and stir for 2 minutes, then let it cool.

3. Melt butter and let it cool for a bit. Stir in the egg.

4. Add in cooled date mixture. Stir in sifted flour, walnuts and ¼ of other nuts or seeds. (In the photo above, I used pepitas.)

5. Pour mixture evenly in the tin. Sprinkle top with extra nuts and seeds. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes until skewer comes out clean.

Enjoy!


Talking About My Armpits – Dove Pure Deodorant

19 April 2013

This post is sponsored by Nuffnang

Dove Pure Review

For the last two weeks, I have been road testing the new Dove Pure – a deodorant that says it has no parabens, no colourants, no ethyl alcohol and no fragrance.

It applies like any regular roll on deodorant. It’s nice and creamy when going on, and there’s no smell whatsoever.

After a few minutes I can slip on a black t-shirt and it doesn’t leave any white marks. Throughout the day, there is no itchiness, dryness, or irritation. I go to the gym, run and cycle and I don’t stink. It’s all good.

Best thing about it: There is ZERO fragrance.

Over the years, I have used Clarins Deodorant (which yes, is a bit of a splurge for deodorant), then I switched to just buying whatever was on sale at the supermarket.

I’ve become so used to having a faint smell of “Ocean Fresh” or “Cucumber and Green Tea” or “Jasmine and Wild Rose” and now that I think about it, those fragrances sound more like air fresheners or toilet cleaners :P

So to have zero smell in my armpits… is such a cool and unusual thing.

At the end of the day, I just smell like nice, clean, fresh skin.

And I know that because during my testing of the product (which I take very seriously thank you very much), I would – to my husband’s delight and dismay – take my top off at random moments and take a deep whiff of my armpits and sigh dramatically, “AHHH IT’S JUST ALL ME!”

This means, I can wear my perfumes (that I paid good money for) and not have clashing smells.

So… it gets two thumbs up from me. I like it :)

Dove Hamper Giveaway

To celebrate the launch of Dove Pure, the kind folks at Dove are giving away a special hamper worth $120, consisting of –

2 x Dove Men & Women Shampoo, 2 x Dove Men & Women Conditioner, Dove Face Scrub, 2 x Dove Bar 2 Pack, Dove Men Face Cleanser, Dove Pure Roll On, Dove Pure Anti-Perspirant Spray, Dove Men Roll On, Dove Men Anti-Perspirant, Dove Facial Foam, Dove Summer Glow Body Lotion, Dove Body Lotion, Dove Women Bodywash, Dove Hair Treatment, Dove Clinical Deodorant and Dove Moisturiser.

Just do the following!

1) Email me at dovepure@karencheng.com.au
2) Email Subject: Give Me Some Dove Love!
3) Answer this question: What kind of activities will you be doing while wearing Dove Pure deodorant?

The winner will be the entry deemed most creative by the judges!

This giveaway is open to Australian residents only, over the age of 14 years.
Giveaway ends 24 April 2013, 5:00 pm AEDST.

Please read more terms and conditions here.


Homemade Lasagne with Kraft Extra Light Cheese (And Win a Trip to Thailand!)

16 April 2013

I have been kindly sponsored by Kraft and Nuffnang, to whip up my favourite homemade family meal – road testing the new Kraft Livefree Cheese, launched earlier this month.

(And I’m announcing a new competition where you can win a trip to Thailand courtesy of Kraft. Scroll down for details.)

This new cheese is all-Australian made, using natural ingredients, and has only 5.5% fat. According to Kraft, it is Australia’s lowest fat TASTY cheese (when compared to Australia’s leading light tasty cheese brands).

This was good timing for me… because I was hosting a big family dinner party that week and I promised everyone that I would make MY FAMOUSLY DELICIOUS LASAGNE.

Well, it’s famous in our house… and since I am the only person who cooks lasagne around here, you can be sure that everyone thinks it’s the best lasagne recipe evaaaaah.

Kraft Live Free Cheese

When you eat it on its own, the cheese has a nice mild flavour and it’s still zingy like tasty cheese.

It’s not crumbly, it holds together well, and most importantly, it’s extra low fat… especially when you consider how much of this block I am going to use in my lasagne! *sheepish laugh*

Kraft Live Free Cheese

I gathered all my ingredients for my meat sauce.

I’m making a HUGE lasagne, one big enough to feed 10 people. My dish is 37cm long and 25cm wide and 7cm deep. Huge. So I had to increase my portions accordingly.

Lasagne Meat Sauce Recipe

3 brown onions, finely diced
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
1 kg of premium lean beef mince
2 medium carrots, finely diced
½ a large zucchini, grated
875g of tomato paste (I would have used 2x 500g, but I bought the wrong bottle!)
1 cube of beef stock
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 bay leaves

Kraft Live Free Cheese

Heat oil. Fry up onions and garlic, until golden. Cook meat, stir well until browned. Stir in tomato paste, stock cube, bay leaves. Bring to boil. Stir in zucchini. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes, semi covered. Occasionally stir.

Kraft Live Free Cheese

Bechamel Sauce (or cheese sauce)
100g butter, chopped
½ cup plain flour
1L low fat milk, warmed
125g coarsely grated Kraft Livefree Cheese
Tiny pinch of ground nutmeg

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour. Keep stirring for 2 minutes.

Remove from heat. Gradually add in milk, bit by bit, constantly stirring until the mixture is smooth.

Return to heat, keep stirring until sauce thickens. Add in cheese and nutmeg, keep stirring until mixture is smooth. Add in more milk if the sauce is too thick and gooey. Keep the consistency like thickened cream.

Kraft Live Free Cheese
Behold, my very large lasagne dish.

I lightly greased the dish, and placed a lasagne sheet down for the base. I prefer using fresh lasagne sheets, as I find they are easier to cut to size, and they cook faster.

Kraft Live Free Cheese

For 1st layer: Spoon on the meat sauce (using 1/3 of the meat sauce), some blanched spinach, 1/4 of the cheese sauce, and lasagne sheets.

2nd layer: Another 1/3 of meat sauce, spinach, cheese sauce and lasagne sheets.

3rd layer: Rest of the meat sauce, spinach, (no cheese!) and lasagne sheets.

Top layer: Pour all the remaining cheese sauce on top. And cover with a bit more grated cheese and a sprinkle of parmesan.

Kraft Live Free Cheese

Pop into 200C oven for 20 minutes until the top is golden brown.

If you need to, blast it under the grill to get the cheese on top to bubble and crisp.

Whoa, it was the largest lasagne I’ve ever made. It was EPIC!

Kraft Live Free Cheese

Cut up and serve hot!

It smelt sooooo good.

Kraft Live Free Cheese

And it tasted AMAZING!

It was so soft, creamy, rich, salty and cheesey.

And the cheese sauce did not taste like it was made from extra light cheese. It tasted great and everyone was very, very happy about it :)

Yay I felt like such a kitchen hero.

*OMG WIN a Trip to Thailand!*

Kraft is hosting an Instagram competition. To enter, simply upload a photo on your Instagram of how you ‘live free’ and use the hashtag #KraftLivefree.

By “living free” I interpret this as – How do you like to break the rules? How do you like to get away from the hassles of life? What do you like to do that makes you feel alive and free? Sounds like fun and damn I wish I could enter!

You can enter as many times as you like :)

The winner will be the entry deemed MOST CREATIVE by the judges and this is what they will win:

A trip for 2 to Thaliand
- Return flights to Phuket from an Australian capital city),
- 7 nights accommodation in Khao Lak at The Best Western Premier, a stylish 4.5-star new hotel in this picturesque beach region north of Phuket, Thailand
- Return Airport transfer
- Daily breakfasts + high speed internet included
- Valid for stays from 15 April 2013 to 31 October 2013

Winners will be notified directly through Instagram by Nuffnang (so keep a look out in your Instagram comments!)

Only open to Australian residents, aged 16 years and over.

Competition starts 16th April 2013 and will continue until 11.59 pm AEST on 15 May 2013

Please read all the terms and conditions here.

Good luck!

(And if you like, you can follow me on Instagram @karenlycheng)


Road Testing Dove Pure Deodorant – By Sweating Like A Pig!

5 April 2013

I have definitely been bitten by a fitness bug :)

I cycle once a week and I go to the gym twice a week (for an hour). I’ve been in this routine for about a year now.

And this month I’ve started to RUN – for the first time in a looooong time. I’m trying to schedule in 3 to 4 short runs in a week.

I am also climbing stairs! Lots of them! It’s fun. And a bit painful.

But I love it. And I love how I feel after a good workout!

Exhausted after my run

This is me, completely pooped after an embarrassingly short run around the block.

I’m sitting on my kitchen floor, sweating like crazy, my legs are jelly and my shoulders are aching.

Ok yes I’m glowing with endorphins.

But I’m dying for a shower (because I smell so baaad) and I wish someone would cook me an omelette, make me a cup of coffee and massage my shoulders :P

Anyway, I found it such a delight that I have been asked to test out a brand new deodorant by Dove.

I mean, HOW DO THEY KNOW THAT I SMELL SO BAD?!

Dove Pure Deodorant

Dove has recently launched a new deodorant, called Dove Pure.

It has no parabens, no colourants, no ethyl alcohol and ZERO fragrance.

No smell whatsoever? That’s a new concept for me.

It strives to be a simple, yet effective deodorant containing only the essential ingredients, leaving out the unnecessary stuff that might cause irritation and itchiness.

It also claims to have long lasting sweat protection (so you feel dry all day) and it has a touch of moisturiser in it, to keep your skin healthy.

It sounds great so far, but I’ll be testing it out for a week – throughout my cycling, running and stair climbing, as well as general walking around and just being stinky old me.

I’ll let you know how I go!

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!

(This post is sponsored by Nuffnang)


Peacocking and Swanning at the WA Fashion Awards 2013

22 March 2013

I was invited to the glamourous WA Fashion Awards 2013 held at Brookfield Place in Perth City.

I wrote a blog post about my last-minute “wardrobe dilemma” and how online boutique Frockaholics, saved the day!

WA Fashion Awards 2013

This year the event welcomed 400 VIP guests to walk the red carpet.

Fashion designers, models, stylists, photographers, makeup artists, fashion business owners, sponsors, and the media… all came together – in their most fashionable attire – to celebrate this year’s most outstanding members of the local industry.

Everyone had gorgeous hair, amazing make up, incredible tans and were sporting statement outfits and hot designer labels.

It was fun to be a part of it and watch the crowd swirl around like a flock of birds.

WA Fashion Awards 2013
Photo by Perth Photography

This is Annie, owner of Tu Boutique, and I.

I was wearing a lace dress by Eileen Kirby (from Frockaholics), clutch by PeepToe and shoes by GlamRockShoes.

Annie was wearing a stunning leather and silk gown by The Butcher and The Crow.

WA Fashion Awards 2013

This is hot stylist Mikey, and even hotter Lisa of Generics Accessories.

WA Fashion Awards 2013
Photo by Miss Mon Bon

This was my sexy back :P

It was such a warm and humid evening, you’d think that having a bare back would count for something? Nope, I was still sweating and glistening like everyone else. Not so sexy.

And here are some of the well-deserved winners and fashion friends that I’m super proud of!

WA Fashion Awards 2013
Photo by Stefan Gosatti

Shane Newton (centre) won the Designer For Tomorrow Award – he totally deserved this award for his label Zsadar.  Ange Langton (left) was last year’s winner of Designer For Tomorrow Award, and Greg Caust (right) from the Commonwealth Bank.

WA Fashion Awards 2013
Photo by Stefan Gosatti

Alvin Fernandez (Ae’lkemi) won the Most Innovative Designer Award, Teagan Sewell (Sewellery) won the Fine Details Award and Illustrator Pippa McManus won the Creative Edge Award.

I had a great time catching up with fashion friends, doing a whole lot of fashion spotting and celebrating with the winners.

But alas, I couldn’t stay for the drinking, partying and possibly debaucherous fashion activity that went on afterwards. Only kidding. I’m sure everyone just went home by 10pm, it was a school night after all :)


Crust Pizza Mt Lawley Turns 1 (Pizzzzaa Comaaaa)

18 March 2013

I was invited to celebrate the 1st Birthday of Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar in Mount Lawley.

Now this wasn’t just a regular Crust Pizza outlet… this particular store is run by popular food blogger, Michelle and her husband Joe, who not only knows her food,  she know how to throw a good party.

There was live music, cupcakes, balloons, and of course, bucket loads of pizza. There was a really lovely atmosphere in the air and the pizza bar was overflowing with friends, family and pizza lovers.

In fact, when I first arrived at the party, I couldn’t get inside because there were so many people there.

As I squeezed into the venue, I bumped into this guy.

Someone said that he was part of the “entertainment” for the evening.

My eyes widened, “They have MALE ENTERTAINERS at a pizza bar??”

Crust Mt Lawley - 1st Birthday

Well, no, not that kind of entertainer. No no no. Turns out that he was an artist, drawing cartoon caricatures for the party guests. Phew.

Caricatures! Much more family friendly! What a fun idea! I’ve never had a caricature drawn of me before.

So I waited in line for my turn.

When I finally sat down for my caricature… I suddenly I felt so awkward!

This guy was looking at me intently, my face, my eyes, my chin, and he was busily sketching away.

And it was so weird, I wasn’t sure where to look. I thought that I should at least FACE him, because he was, after all, trying to draw my face. But I went all shy. I didn’t really want to LOCK EYES with him, stare into the windows of his soul and share an unspoken moment with a total stranger.

Anyway, I ended up looking everywhere else but at him.

And I did what I always do when I don’t know what to do. I got my phone out and started to fiddle with it. How lame!

Crust Mt Lawley - 1st Birthday

I did take a photo of him.

I posted it up on my Facebook page saying “This guy is drawing a caricature of me!” and asked my friends, “Do you think he’s hot?”

But before I got any replies, it was over!

Crust Mt Lawley - 1st Birthday

My cartoon caricature was so cute! Aww and the artist was so kind with my flat Asian nose and wonky eyes. I look cuter, younger and prettier as a 2D line drawing :P

Maybe that’s what happens when you don’t look straight at a caricature artist.

Anyway.

By the time my drawing was finished, I was soooooo hungry.

Thankfully I love a good pizza!

Every time I sink my teeth into a gourmet pizza, my mouth quivers, my eyes roll back and my chest sighs with pleasure. It’s heaven.

Crust Mt Lawley - 1st Birthday

This pizza was the Oregano Verdi Base and Parmesan Squares.

It was a “Starter Pizza”, so it’s slightly smaller in size and priced at $7.50.

Omg you must try it. The flavours were so simple, yet it was so so soooo tasty.

Crust Mt Lawley - 1st Birthday

This next pizza was the Italian Sausage Pizza, with Italian sausage, bacon, Kalamata olives, tomatoes and garlic, garnished with fresh basil on a tomato base.

Again, it was absolutely delicious!

I stood there in the crowd of guests, and as the wait staff walked by with a plate of pizza, I threw out my arm out like a frog’s tongue and snatched up a pizza slice before they all disappeared.

I ate pizzas until my belly was about to burst.

I don’t usually eat so much wheat and cheese nowadays, but haha this was totally worth it.

Crust Pizza have recently launched their brand new menu, with new pizzas, desserts and more. Head over to the Crust Pizza Bar Mt Lawley Facebook Page to find out more.


Donating Blood and Registering to be a Stem Cell Donor

12 March 2013

Last week, I wrote about Emily. Emily needs to find a stem cell donor, or else she is going to die from cancer.

My first step to help her… is to get registered as a stem cell donor, and to blog about the process to show everyone how easy and worthwhile it is.

The process of registering is different in every country. In the US, it is just a little mouth swab. Other countries require a blood donation too. So it is worth finding out the requirements in your country first.

In Australia, you are required to donate blood, in order to become REGISTERED. You don’t actually donate your stem cells right there and then!

So here we go……..

Eeek I have never ever donated blood before!

The reason is because, when I was in my late teens and early 20s, I struggled with low iron and a low blood count. During my 3 pregnancies, I also had a very low blood count. So I just assumed that this low-ness was “normal for me” and that I should just avoid donating.

Not to mention, I can’t stand anything “blood related”. I don’t like the sight of blood. The smell of blood. I feel faint when I see too much blood. I get wobbly in my tummy when I see it oozing out of skin. I close my eyes during gory movies and medical procedures on tv. And I hate needles! I’m a real wimp.

But seriously, it’s such a lame excuse for me. I’ve been through much tougher things in life. I’m very fit and healthy at the moment. And I should be completely able to give blood.

ALSO

When I gave birth to my first child, I lost a LOT of blood. I had to be in intensive care and I was given something like 2L of blood to help me recover. So in fact, I had been on the receiving end of someone’s donation. And my husband also received blood when he was being treated for his cancer. Obviously, it is pay back time :)

SO …

I made an appointment to donate blood and to put myself into the Australian Bone Marrow Donation Registry.

Everyone freaks out when you say the words “Bone Marrow”. The registry is called the Bone Marrow Registry, because the stem cells that are found floating around in your blood, actually grow in your bone marrow. Years ago, doctors had to take out bone marrow to get the stem cells, but now, they just sift them out of the blood stream.

Donating Blood and Stem Cells

When I arrived at the Australian Red Cross Blood Services, the little waiting room was PACKED full of people. Lots of men in business suits, there was a guy and girl couple, a few young woman, and lots of young guys too. I could hardly find a seat for myself. But, I did notice that I was the only Asian face there.

I was given a few forms to fill out. Eventually the people in the waiting room moved on and I took a quick snap, before it filled up with more people again. I thought the design choice of the waiting chairs was very cute.

Donating Blood and Stem Cells

I won’t lie. There was a lot of paper work. I had to fill out 3 forms.

But they were full of really simple questions like, “Do you have epilepsy? Have you ever suffered a stroke or a heart attack?? Are you taking any medication?”

This went on for a few pages. And I was ticking NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO.

And by the end of it, I was thinking – Holy cow, I’m pretty lucky to be so healthy!

Which is what they want. Fit, young, healthy people. Hey, we are blessed!

Donating Blood and Stem Cells

And this is it. That extra form that might save the life of someone in need.

The form that puts me into the worldwide pool of stem cell donors. That one day… someone on the other side of the world, or someone next door, or even you, will be able to find your 1 in a 10,000 match.

You have to specially request this form, from the nurse at the front reception desk.

Donating Blood and Stem Cells

After submitting my paperwork, I was ushered to a little room. I talked to a nurse, who went through some pretty simple questions and answers.

For example, one question was “Have you EVER travelled outside Australia in the last 3 years? And which countries?” and I answered “Denmark, Singapore.”

She also took a skin prick, to test my haemoglobin. And then she took my blood pressure.

My results were perfect. I was a fine human specimen for donating blood.

Donating Blood and Stem Cells

I was ushered over to the donating room, which was nice and air-conditioned. A bit like a movie theatre.

I found a nice comfy seat, and the nurse gave me a snuggly, woolly blankie, which made my day.

The nurse set to work.

A teeny tiny prick of pain.

And I was all hooked up and giving blood.

Donating Blood and Stem Cells

Haha I totally look like a happy little granny here!

Lots of people asked me (after I donated) : What did it feel like?

My answer: Er, nothing! I just felt like I had some sticky tape on my arm. And I could feel the blood pressure wrap on my upper arm. I didn’t feel any “draining”, or “dizziness” or “coldness” or “light headed feelings”. I just chatted away to people nearby.

I have to admit, I was feeling a bit tense… because I was EXPECTING to feel dizzy or light headed. But I just didn’t. So actually, I felt happier as time went on, because it was going better than I expected.

Donating Blood and Stem Cells

This was my little pumping machine.

My blood packet sat in a little dish, that was rocked back and forth by the machine, like a happy little baby being soothed to sleep.

You might be able to make out the numbers on the machine.

Since I was 45kgs, I could only give 420mL. The amount collected so far was 358mL. 065 was the flow per minute. And 8:11 was the minutes that had passed.

Actually, 420mL was my blood donation, and they took 2 extra vials for testing and registering to be a stem cell donor. But I didn’t feel any difference.

Donating Blood and Stem Cells

And just like that, I was done! They wrapped me up and gave me a cup of water.

The whole thing took less than 10 minutes!

I sat there… feeling absolutely fine. I thought – That’s it??

I looked over at my 420ml packet and I was a bit shocked.

It looked like a lot of blood! I looked at my own body and thought, THAT came out of my petite little body? And I still feel fine?! Wow the human body is pretty amazing.

Then it hit me. I had this wave of euphoria. I felt so freaking awesome.

I felt like I did something really, really really GOOD. And I was so proud of myself.

The nurses were so kind and grateful. They kept encouraging me to take it easy, stay for a bit and rest. So I sat there for a few more minutes, just sipping my water and watching all the action in the donation room.

teafortu

My husband came to pick me up… and we took a gentle stroll into the city.

We found a cute tea parlour in the city and sat down for a cup of tea and red velvet cake. It was just such a brilliant feeling.

That afternoon we picked up the kids from school. I did some light housework. I cooked dinner. I watered my flowers. And I still felt absolutely fine. In fact I was glowing :)

What next? What Can You Do?

To find Emily a match, thousands of ethnically Chinese people need to register to donate stem cells. Obviously, you can make a difference by registering yourself. But this needs to go viral in order to get THOUSANDS of possible donors.

I’ve set up a Facebook page called “I’ve got Chinese Stem Cells“!

The page is an online celebration, dedicated to all the ethnically Chinese people who have registered as stem cell donors.

If you have registered to be a donor, please post up your photo!!

(Photo of your face, your arm, your bandage, your donor card, the waiting room, the donation center sign, your cup of tea, your slice of cake that you ate after! Any picture from your adventure to show you were there.)

Please LIKE the page, upload your photos to the page, and tag “I’ve Got Chinese Stem Cells”

Every time someone posts here, it will add momentum, and spread the word, to help Emily, and others in need in the future.

Spread The Word!

Email, text, or call your best Chinese friends. Send them this blog post or the Facebook page link, and ask them to go with you to register. Get them to register too! And once you are registered, go to a really nice cafe together, and celebrate life and friendship.

And then think about how many ethnically Chinese people in your family, at work, at university, your sports club, social club, church group? Anyone of them could be Emily’s match, and if they are not, then someone they know could be.

Register Here :)


Polo In The Valley Launch at Tiffany & Co

11 March 2013

To celebrate the launch of Polo in the Valley 2013, Tiffany & Co welcomed an excited crowd of VIP guests in glowing style.

Jeep Polo In The Valley 2013 Launch at Tiffany & Co

With the cobble stone road closed off, the store was lit up, the blue carpet was rolled out, beautiful horses clipped-clopped around the street, and hunky polo players posed next to a Tiffany Blue carriage (!), while greeting guests as they arrived.

It was a lovely treat to have so many interesting and “photographable” features at an event.

Jeep Polo In The Valley 2013 Launch at Tiffany & Co

So while I was being an awesome blogger, taking photos of this and that… one of the organisers walked over to me and said,

“I just want to let you know that Ewan McGregor will be arriving at 7:15pm, and everyone will have an opportunity to take photos over there.” She pointed to a spot, then hurried off to tell other media guests.

“Ewan McGregor?” I blinked.  I didn’t know he was coming. “Why yes. I would much rather take photos of Ewan McGregor, than close ups of this horse’s ass.”

Jeep Polo in the Valley 2013 Launch

Ewan McGregor with Australian actor, Matt Nable, who are both in Perth shooting up-coming thriller film, Son of a Gun.

Sure enough, as the big surprise for all the guests, the Hollywood star arrived – looking absolutely delicious – and was all smiles for the cameras.

Yup, he’s one of my favourite actors and I’m a HUGE FAN of his diverse acting and humanitarian work.

Plus he’s got that ruggedly-handsome Scottish look that I am so hot for (my husband is Scottish, so I can say these things ok?).

I seriously went all fluttery.

Jeep Polo In The Valley 2013 Launch at Tiffany & Co

We were all ushered into the store to listen to the speeches and a very cool announcement.

This year, the Polo in the Valley event is donating up to $100,000 dollars to Youth Focus – a charity that raises public awareness of youth depression and suicide. Amazing!!

Jeep Polo In The Valley 2013 Launch at Tiffany & Co

I trotted around the store, taking photos of the gorgeous Tiffany models dressed in 1920′s style. There was also a string quartet, lots of canapes and free flowing champagne.

I haven’t been in a Tiffany store for quite some time, so I took a peek into the jewellery cabinets and made a mental note to come back when the store wasn’t so crowded.  I also bumped into a few people that I knew, so I had a nice catch up with them too.

As the night drew on, Ewan seemed to make his way around the room, talking to people.

Actually, I think it was more like… Ewan stood in one spot, while the crowd of guests slowly made “an understood queue” that moved at a polite pace, so that everyone was able to have a chat with him, before he suddenly left the building – as all Hollywood stars do.

And of course, I really wanted to get a photo of him and I together!

It was a getting late and I had to leave soon, so I kind of squeezed in quickly and approached him.

I told him how much I enjoyed his work, how I loved Scotland when I went to visit, and how I married a Scottish guy (I left out the bit about me being hot for Scotts) and how he looked like members of my husband’s family haha.

We had a bit of a giggle, we took the photo, I gave him a thank you cuddle, and I hung around a bit as he chatted to other guests. He was so lovely and gracious.

Jeep Polo In The Valley 2013 Launch at Tiffany & Co

Ewan McGregor and me!!

Of course, I had a ZILLION OTHER THINGS I wanted to say to him, regarding his immunisation missions, his motorcycle journeys, lightsabres and his 4 daughters.

But what I really wanted to say to him was…

“Hey I wanted to name my 3rd son after you! But my husband argued that since we already had a ‘Sean’, ‘Ewan’ would be too obvious. So we agreed on a ‘Liam’ instead. Yeah sorry.”


6 Ways to Wear WHITE (from LOEF)

2 March 2013

The lovely team from online boutique, LOEF, gave me the opportunity to pick out a few items from their new collection to feature on my blog.

I chose some good looking WHITE items, that would freshen up anyone’s existing wardrobe.

Clothes from LOEF

1) Simple lace dress.

This dress is a fantastic little, lace dress… especially for its price.

It’s made from a thick cotton jersey, with a layer of crochet-lace over the top. Because the material is slightly thick, it feels very secure, comfortable and stretchy. So it’s easy to move around in, sit down in and it doesn’t feel tight or restricting.

It is slightly padded at the bust and is slightly elasticised at the back – so it doesn’t feel like it’s going to fall off you if you breathe in!

For a very casual weekend look, you can throw over a denim shirt, wear a straw hat and some tan sandals. Or as I have in the photos, wear it plain, but glammed up with a faux fur coat and statement shoes.

Or team it with some colourful accessories for a fun party look.

Clothes from LOEF

2) The White Blazer

This is definitely a must-have item for a modern working girl’s wardrobe. It just smartens up a colourful dress, coloured or patterned pants, or lifts an all-black outfit.

You might have noticed that I wear my white blazer very often – like, here, here and here.

You can buy gorgeous white blazers for $150+, but I have been trying to find one priced $50 – $100 to share on my blog. I have tested 4-5 in that price range (from different online sources), but their quality were bad. They felt very cheap, they were see through, or the fabric was linen-like and really rough on the skin, or the stitching was very poor.

THIS Suede Cotton Blazer is brilliant for SG$36! It is a simple and classic design. It feels lovely and light. It is properly lined, lightly padded at the shoulder. And its fabric and make, has more quality than its price suggests.

The sleeves were a little bit long for me, but I rolled it up twice for the photos above and it still looked great.

Note: I now have 3 white blazers. One waterfall-front blazer from Korea, one classic tuxedo blazer from Bardot and now this LOEF one!

Clothes from LOEF

3) Chiffon Waterfall Jacket

This is listed as a Chiffon Blazer, but I think it’s more of a “jacket” or a “chiffon cardigan”.

I think it’s a great little jacket that works well as office wear. Thrown over a shift dress, or a pencil skirt and blouse… it keeps the air conditioning chill off your shoulders and it looks smart and professional (much more than a woolly cardigan).

But I also think it works for casual outfits too, worn over a sun dress, or jeans and a tank top, or your swimwear.

LOEF stocks clothes with a “low and affordable” price point. I won’t say “cheap” because the quality of some of their clothes is actually really good (especially their LOEF Label items) and match the standards of regular high-street stores like Zara, H&M, Forever21.

I can’t vouch for the quality of ALL their stock items, but these items that I have tested and chosen to feature, are excellent for their price. And I will definitely be happy to wear them, mixed up with my high end, high street and vintage/thrifted stuff.

Enjoy your shopping!

xxx

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


Asking For Money (For A Great Cause!)

26 February 2013

Yes I’m fundraising for cancer research again!

Many of you might know that I did the Ride to Conquer Cancer last year. Well I’m doing it again this year – cycling 200kms over 2 days through the countryside south of Perth.

To kick start my fundraising, last weekend, I hi-jacked a Chinese New Year Ball!

CNY Ballroom @ Crown Perth

Ok not really. A local Chinese community – my community -  were looking for a charity to support and I proposed that they could sponsor me for my 200km ride, with all funds going to the WA Institute of Medical Research.

My dad, mum, brother + sister in law, and a whole bunch of my aunties and uncles… attended the event too.

CNY Ballroom @ Crown Perth

My mother and I. We just finished placing 500 pamphlets out on the tables.

As the evening started… the thought of having to stand up in front of 500 people and ask them to donate money… was TERRIFYING.

I had that floaty, churny feeling in my tummy, a spaced-out dizzy feeling in my head, and I kept going to the bathroom all night and rehearsing my speech in the toilet cubicle. The amazing 10 course Chinese banquet was being served and I only nibbled on a bit of jellyfish (for the entree).

When the Master of Ceremonies came over to where I was sitting and told me that I was on in just a few minutes, I had a bit of a panic attack – aaaaaakkkk!

“Calm blue ocean. Calm blue ocean” I repeated to myself.

But I slowly focused my thoughts on WHY I was doing this. Where is this money going. What is this money going to be used for. Who is this money going to help. And it really helped calm me down.

Mr John Fitzgerald, of the WAIMR, spoke first. He sounded so calm, professional, and had such a deep voice.

Then it was my turn. I could hardly hear myself! I wasn’t sure if I was too close, or too far, from the microphone. So I gave my speech – which seemed to take an eternity -  I said thanks, then walked off the stage.

The next bit was pretty hard work. I spent the rest of the night on my feet, going from table to table, loudly talking to people over the noise of a cabaret show and giving a 10 second spiel of where the donations were going (to pretty much every single person at the event). So much talking! So repetitive! Now I know how politicians feel!

Helping me collect the money were two staff from WAIMR, who volunteered their time for the evening, Lesley and Jeanette. They made me feel a lot better about it, because they have done this lots of times before. They were so calm.

Going from table to table, the difference in response was very interesting.

As I approached some tables, someone would stand up with a bag full of money they had already collected. One man told me that his wife died 9 months ago from cancer so he made sure that all his friends on the table donated something (I totally choked up and went all teary on the spot). On other tables, they seemed to have no idea who I was, or what I was there for, or they thought I was part of the Miss Chinese Pageant haha! And it was really difficult to explain myself amid all the noise.

And at other tables, I met people who I hadn’t seen since I was at primary school with them, and we got gossiping, and I went “off-mission”.

In fact I was so busy talking to people, that I did something that is absolutely amazing for me – I didn’t take any photos!

The evening came to an end.

And I got to take home a little black lock-box full of cash!

The next morning, I counted the donations (then I got my boys to double check the total) and we found out that we had $2920 dollars! OMG!

Plus, there were about $600 in credit card donations!

Money Count

WOW! $3.5K!!

The only problem was, that it was Sunday, and I couldn’t get the money to the bank. So, what to do with so much cash?

Well, I hid it in a very secret place… which is, inside a hole in the bottom of one of the couches.

That night as I watched TV, I felt so gangster with a bundle of cash hidden under my ass.

Money Couch

On Monday morning, when I fished the money out, I found that it had been guarded all night by this little guy, who had previously been put in the couch by, I suspect, my 3 year old… along with a couple of dried out old apple cores.

Anyway, you’ll be glad to know, the money made it safely into the bank, and then into the account of the WA Institute of Medical Research, where it is already making a difference to the research to find the cure for cancer.

Thank you so much to those who have donated!

If you are keen to donate money towards my 2013 Ride to Conquer Cancer, please visit my fundraising page here!

Or you can read all the posts about my cycling adventures on my blog.


Nikon AW100 – A Waterproof and Shockproof Camera

25 February 2013

A few weekends ago, I went Stand Up Paddle-Boarding and I asked Nikon if I could borrow an underwater camera so I could take some cool water photos for my blog.

They said SURE!

They actually have an newer model coming out soon (AW110), one that can be taken down to 18m (great for scuba divers) and it can withstand -10°C (great for ski and snowboarders). It can also withstand being dropped from heights of 2m (great for um, parents?) and it has built-in wifi capability.

But I was happy to trial the AW100. This model can be taken down to 10m underwater, withstand -10°C and can be dropped from 1.5m without being damaged.

Now… I’m a bit old school with my cameras. When I used to scuba dive regularly (about 10 years ago), only the insanely rich, or the insanely hardcore professionals had cameras with underwater housing… like this:

Ikelite Housing for Nikon D-5000
Image from www.ikelite.com

The equipment was huge, complicated and looked like you were going on a mission to Mars.

Back then, there was NO WAY I could ever take photos of all the coral I saw, all beautiful little fish I swam with while snorkeling, the ship wrecks I’ve dived, and all the other amazing underwater wildlife I had seen, like seals, turtles, cod fish, sharks and whale sharks. I couldn’t even take photos of us at the beach splashing in the waves :(

Nikon AW100 - Underwaer Camera

But now, look at this!!

As I held this camera in my hand, I was utterly stunned by the advances of modern technology! I could take this camera down to 10 meters?! For real?!

Anyway. Unfortunately (or fortunately) while I was stand-up paddle boarding, I DIDN’T fall into the water. And thus I didn’t have any cool watery photos to share from that experience.

Instead, I gathered my kids and we went to swim in my neighbour’s pool.

We had SO. MUCH. FUN.

Because the camera was “Drop Proof” I was completely happy to let my kids hold it, swim with it and take photos.Nikon AW100 - Underwaer Camera

This was me trying to show my son how to blow a lot of bubbles without getting them up your nose.

My 9 year old and my 7 year old, picked up the camera and worked it with ease.

They switched modes. They played with the settings. They completely melded with it, as only youngsters can these days.

In fact, my boys asked me, “What does the ‘2 Sec’ and ‘10 Sec’ mean?”

And I said, “Oh it’s a self timer…”

And without having to explain anything else, they were doing really clever things like leaving it at the bottom of the pool, with the 10 second timer on and swimming over it to capture an action swimming shot.

Nikon AW100 - Underwaer Camera

My two boys practiced doing “bombies” into the water for me.

The bubbles were so cool!

Nikon AW100 - Underwaer Camera

And here my boys were making really funny underwater movies.

I have to admit that my boys dropped the camera on the poolside paving TWICE.

It just slipped out of their hands because they forgot to put the wrist strap on. And each time it went DONK on the bricks, my heart stopped, my temper seethed and I wanted to scream bloody murder.

But lucky for them, it was indeed DROP PROOF.

And because of that… it is THE best compact camera for me to have in my house.

The AW100 now sits on my “camera shelf”, and when my children find something cool they want to photograph, they are allowed to take it and use it. They can make little movie clips, record their Lego creations and take photos for their school projects. It’s fantastic.

I seriously can’t wait to take it to the beach and to go snorkelling!!

Check out more details about the Nikon AW100, or the soon to be released Nikon AW110.


3 Ways to Wear a Long Leather Skirt

13 February 2013

How amazing is this Faux-Leather Maxi Skirt by Korean brand Sarah, that I got for $72?!

I thought it deserved its own “3 Ways” blog post, because I want to wear it with everything I own.

Since it’s a long black skirt, it pretty much goes with everything. Wear it tops that are coral, mint, silver, printed, striped, or just plain black.

3 Ways to Wear a Leather Skirt

1) Simple tank and a crisp white blazer, for a slick and polished look. I love this!

White blazer: Bardot (on sale) from The Iconic
Top: Rick Owens from The Outnet
Shoes: ASOS

3 Ways to Wear a Leather Skirt

2) Play with textures. A black furry vest (faux) notches up a modern-gothic glam look. Try wearing leather skirt with other textures like lace, beads details, embroidery, jacquard, tweed, or even feathers.

Fur vest: From YesStyle
Top: Rick Owens from The Outnet
Shoes: GlamRockChic

3 Ways to Wear a Leather Skirt

3) Simple tee and a cropped jacket. Nothing says effortless style like a simple white tee.

White Tee: Abi and Joseph
Blue faux leather jacket: Redopin (old)
Shoes: ASOS

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


Il Cielo Ristorante & Caffe

8 February 2013

Last week, I was invited to dine at Il Cielo Ristorante & Caffe, a modern Italian restaurant in the leafy southern suburbs of Bullcreek.

After first opening their doors in the middle of last year, they have now launched their new menu and prices for 2013 – and my husband and I had the pleasure of ordering a 3 course dinner, courtesy of the owners.

My husband is always a reluctant participant in my food blogging assignments. He always complains that by the time I finish taking photos of the dish, his food is cold haha!

Well I promised to take faster photos, so I dragged him along and he was a good sport :)

Il Cielo, Bullcreek

Il Cielo (pronounced il chee-ello) is situated amongst a group of shops in Parry Place, Bullcreek.

It’s a sizeable restaurant that sits upstairs, above the other shops and cafes, hence the meaning of its name “The Sky”.

Il Cielo, Bullcreek

It was certainly not what I expected at for an inner suburban restaurant. It was large and spacious, it had carpeted floors, cushioned chairs, nice curtains to dampen all the restaurant noises… and it had a “fine dining” feel to it.

However we got the impression that it wasn’t trying to be too stuffy and upmarket because there was a sign outside announcing a “3 Course Set Lunch Menu for only $10”!

Il Cielo, Bullcreek
Bruschetta Funghi – Mushroom Parmesan Bruschetta – $13

For his entrée, my husband ordered the Bruschetta Funghi and it was delicious.  The earthy flavours of the mushrooms mixed with the parmesan, herbs and paprika was just lovely.

It was presented very well and the portion size was pretty large.

I would have been happy to eat *just this* for my lunch!

Il Cielo, Bullcreek
Cozze Piccanti – Chilli Mussels with 2 pieces of garlic bread – $28

Then came my entrée – a bowl of Chilli Mussels – and my eyes nearly popped out of my head. This is my entrée?? It was HUGE.

And because my husband is allergic to shellfish… I had to eat it all by myself.

Il Cielo, Bullcreek

I was a bit embarrassed by the size of it.

However, it was fantastic.

The sauce was so flavoursome and tasty… and it had just the right saltiness.

And to add to that, the bread was very yummy. It was like a big, crunchy, buttery, garlic crouton (that was slightly soft in the centre) and simply amazing to dip into that salty, tomato, chilli, mussel sauce. YUM.

Unfortunately I had to leave 1/3 of the mussels and sauce behind. I felt really bad. I don’t like to waste food.

If it was my house, I would have savoured every last drop of that sauce and licked the bowl clean.

Il Cielo, Bullcreek
Bucatini All’Antonini, Hollowed center pasta, calamari and salami with creamy tomato sauce (Signature dish) – $23

A little later, my mains arrived. It was the Bucatini All’Antonini, their signature dish, a mix of calamari and salami.

It was a good sized portion, but after my epic chilli mussels, I felt a bit faint.

In terms of taste, this dish was creamy, fresh and full of flavour.

Calamari? Salami? In one dish? Oh my, it was the best combo ever.

My only minor note was that… usually when cooked, calamari is shaped as a thin circle. But in this dish, the calamari was roughly chopped, so it curled up and looked just like the pasta. It still tasted nice, but there were moments when I wasn’t sure if I had pasta or calamari on my fork.

However, I appreciated that this was their signature dish and that this recipe is based on traditional cuisine derived from Rome, with Napoli heritage.

So yeah, um it’s definitely got more Italian cred than I do.

Il Cielo, Bullcreek

Filetto Di Manzo, Porterhouse Steak served with French Green Beans, Blistered Tomato, Creamy Mash Potatoes and Red wine Jus – $38

My husband ordered the Porterhouse Steak. And he really enjoyed it.

He loved the flavours, presentation and everything about it. He even applauded how the tomatoes were cooked haha.

Personally, I like my meat cooked “rare”. Soft and squishy, still mooing thanks. But my husband likes his steaks “medium” … so unfortunately I can’t give a fair opinion of the meat, because I just don’t enjoy medium-done steaks :P

(I should have made him change his order to a fish dish, hmph. And at least it was still hot after I photographed it!)

Il Cielo, Bullcreek
Home-made Tiramisu, Cappuccino Ice cream, strawberry – $12

Lastly, I chose the Homemade Tiramisu and it was goooood. It was so soft, moist, light and fresh. The sponge was perfectly soaked in coffee and it was just wonderful to eat.

And you know what? My husband doesn’t eat sugar, so I ate ALL OF IT!

Yes, even after I ate the bruschetta, mussels and pasta.

I have a magical spot in my tummy reserved just for dessert. Doesn’t everyone?

My husband and I had a lovely time. The atmosphere was great, the portions were good, prices were fine, and the food was tasty.

The next time we come here, I think we would just order 1 entrée to share, 2 mains and 1 dessert (for me to eat all by myself).

I would definitely take my parents and family here for a nice homey Italian meal.

Il Cielo Ristorante & Caffe
Shop 9, 110 Parry Avenue,
Bull Creek, WA.
T: (08) 9332 7779
www.ilcielo.com.au

il Cielo Ristorante & Caffe on Urbanspoon


The Beach Club @ The Cottesloe Beach Hotel

31 January 2013

Cottesloe Beach is – hands down – one of my favourite places in Perth.

Whenever overseas friends and family come to visit Western Australia, we ALWAYS take them to the iconic beach. To drink coffee. To eat ice cream. To devour fish and chips. To walk along the beach. To swim. To play in the play ground. And most of all, to watch the spectacular sunset over the Indian Ocean.

Last week I was invited to a special event at a brand new eatery called The Beach Club at The Cottesloe Beach Hotel, which yes, overlooks Cottesloe Beach.

The event was a Menu Tasting, specially organised for local food bloggers (and me), where we also met the Executive Director of the Cottesloe Beach Hotel, Gary Gosatti, and food consultant Russell Blaikie, of Must Winebar and Bistro fame.

I felt a little out of my depth surrounded by hardcore food bloggers. Here I was… a fashion-crazy, cycling fanatic, in the depths of kid-wrangling, paleo eating and a fitness program.

And here they all are – absolutely lovely people – chatting passionately about the *best* places to buy pandan cake. I’m thinking – “OMG I haven’t eaten pandan cake in years. Sugar! Food colouring! Wheat! It’s so bad for you!!”

Haha I realised that THAT kind of attitude was totally unacceptable in these circumstances. So I decided to shut the hell up, lighten up, abandon all, and just ENJOY THE MEAL.

The Beach Club @ Cottesloe Beach Hotel

Oh before I get into the food.

I have to share my other loves. Fashion and gorgeous graphic design. Check this out. My canary yellow, peplum dress matched the food menu AND the bar stool that I was sitting on. Howzat!

The Beach Club @ Cottesloe Beach Hotel
Feta whip, dukkah, Aussie olives, and bread by Jean-Pierre Sancho – $14

The first dish to arrive was the crusty bread. This made me laugh because I’m trying to eat less wheat. Nonetheless, I tore off a crust and got stuck into it, like a real foodie.

The feta whip was lovely, smooth and creamy, with a good feta bite to it. Then when mixed with the crumbly dukkah… it was delicious. I would have eaten more, but I discovered…

The Beach Club @ Cottesloe Beach Hotel

…the olives. Oh god, I love eating good olives.

I knew that I had eaten too many, when I found myself fingering the jar like a monkey, trying to get the blasted ones that were stuck to the bottom of the jar.

The Beach Club @ Cottesloe Beach Hotel
Fried squid with Turkish pepper & tzatziki – $16

Oh hello there. I thought you were shoe string fries. But no. These were the softest, juiciest and most tender squid rings that I have ever eaten. Damn they were good.

My 9 year old son and I share a love for fried squid. We have been restaurant hopping in search of the best squid rings… and these might be it. I will definitely have to take him here to see what he thinks.

The Beach Club @ Cottesloe Beach Hotel
Spicy lamb meat balls with tomato sauce & yoghurt – $9 for a plate of 5

These lamb meat balls were quite different. Usually lamb meat balls are chewy, meaty and with a strong lamby flavour.

But this meat ball was really soft, fluffy, and it kind of crumbled when I bit into it. It was so light and flavoursome, that it filled my palate with mild spices, while the sweetness from the tomato sauce and the tang from the yoghurt made my mouth explode with happiness.

The Beach Club @ Cottesloe Beach Hotel
Pancetta, gorgonzola, spinach and and bechamel pizza – $24

Next up were the wood fired pizzas. Hmm. I’m a bit indifferent to pizzas nowadays. I make pizzas at home, once a week. So when I go out to eat… I prefer not to order a pizza. If I do… it had better promise to taste fricking amazing and be made by magical elves to make it worth my pain.

As I reluctantly munched my way through this slice – hallelujah – it was awesome!

Pancetta and blue cheese pizza? YUM. Can’t really go wrong there.

I sunk into my seat with pleasure, revelling in the magic of four simple ingredients. So simple. So good.

The Beach Club @ Cottesloe Beach Hotel

Prawns, chilli, Borello bocconcini, and basil pizza – $25

I love eating prawns. And chili. So this pizza totally hit my happy spot.

Speaking of prawns.

The Beach Club @ Cottesloe Beach Hotel
Grilled Carnarvon tiger prawns, pineapple, chilli & lime salsa, bean sprout salad – $34

This dish was the big winner for me.

It looked like a mess, and it was a bit hard to see the prawns… but the aromas, oh my! The smell of the nuts and the lime and the hot prawns and chili… ahhh it was sooooo goooood.

The Beach Club @ Cottesloe Beach Hotel

I was bouncing around on my seat as I ate this. The prawns were so fresh! Bean sprouts! Mint! It was all so yummy!

The Beach Club @ Cottesloe Beach Hotel

Lastly, we tried the Arkady Margaret River lamb and Mount Barker chicken cooked over charcoal served with giant tabouli salad & tzatziki – $27

I was pretty full at this point. I think I ate too many prawns. I should have paced myself properly. Such a newbie error.

The meats were gorgeously, soft and juicy. They were slow roasted on the woodfired rotisseries, and you can choose to order either the lamb, chicken or have them mixed up, served with giant pearl couscous.

The flavours of the tabouli went well with the meat. But I’m not a big fan of pearl couscous. I’m more of a salad or salsa kinda girl.

The Beach Club @ Cottesloe Beach Hotel
Photo courtesy of The Cottesloe Beach Hotel

We were given a tour of The Beach Club, and I adored what I saw.

There was a fresh mix of different dining spaces – modern lounge chairs and low coffee tables (I saw a few families with kids in that area), normal table seating for a sit-down dining experience, bar stools and high tables for a more pub-style gathering, really nice corners to sit and chill out with friends… and you can even sit outside in the open air, under beach umbrellas (out of the wind!).

The Beach Club @ Cottesloe Beach Hotel

It was fantastic to see a place like this emerge in the beachside Cottesloe area. It was stylish, sophisticated, breezy, relaxed and definitely more “grown up” than its former life as an old beer garden.

The food was superb too, offering patrons a well considered menu for modern Australian dining.

It is definitely a place where I would take my family for a meal, meet a girlfriend for coffee, take a big group of friends for dinner, or just sit around with friends sharing nibbles and a beer.

And if you’re a visitor of Perth, make sure you check out Cottesloe Beach, go for a walk, have an ice cream, watch the sunset, then visit The Cott Beach Hotel for a meal to end your day. It’s just opposite the main beach car park.

Wearing Yellow to the The Beach Club

And lastly, just so everyone doesn’t forget that I like to mix up fashion with my food… this is what I wore to the The Beach Club.

I was probably a bit over dressed when I arrived (6pm) because there were lots of women wearing sun dresses and beachy tops and shorts. But I didn’t feel awkwardly over dressed at all.

By evening (8pm), there was a big after-work corporate crowd, lots of women in evening party dresses, and still lots of people in casual summer clothes and sandals! I love the laid-back beachy fashion mix!

The Beach Club
Cottesloe Beach Hotel
104 Marine Parade
Cottesloe, Western Australia

www.cottesloebeachhotel.com.au

A big thanks to The Beach Club for the invitation and dining experience.

(All photos of the food are my own. Taken with a Nikon D90 and 35mm f1.4 lens.)

The Beach Club at Cottesloe Beach Hotel on Urbanspoon


Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

20 January 2013

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been running some cool giveaways and competitions on my blog.

One giveaway was a $1000 gift card to spend at my-wardrobe … won by a very lucky, Suzzane C.

After she received her prize, I checked up on her to see if everything went OK. And she sent me these exciting photos!

My Wardrobe Winner - Shopping!

She chose two gorgeous designer bags – perfect for everyday use.

One from See by Chloe and the other from Marc by Marc Jacobs.

Great choices! I’m very envious :)

My Wardrobe Winner - Shopping!

my-wardrobe is currently offering FREE SHIPPING and FREE RETURNS on all orders to Australia. No trip to the post office required!

Also to celebrate Australia Day, enjoy 20% Off (New season items only) just enter the code AUSTRALIADAY20 at the check out. Promotion ends 28 Jan 2013.

Enjoy!

*If you’re interested in being notified of more of my upcoming competitions and giveaways, please sign up for my newsletter. The sign-up box is on the top right of this page. Thanks for your support!


Some Christmas Goodies

30 December 2012

Guess Rose Gold Watch

My mum and dad gave me a pretty new watch. It was both a Christmas present and thank you present (for looking after their chickens while they were away).

It is a Guess Sporty Watch (Rose Gold), and it’s really nice to wear. I’ve been wearing it non stop!

Press Here 2 by Sean

My 7yo son made me a book for Christmas! It was so clever and cute, that I promised to take a photo of it and show it off on my blog :)

He was inspired by the book “Press Here” by Herve Tullet. It’s a very simple, engaging and fun book, that is “interactive”, using only flat printed pages. It is perfect for kids with big imaginations, and my 7yo certainly loves it.

Press Here 2 by Sean

My son thought up and drew up 8 pages of brand new interesting and hilarious things to do with a flat surface and some coloured dots. Such a clever and funny kid!

Rebecca Minkoff

And lastly, I bought this for myself, as um, a Christmas present… a Rebecca Minkoff Mini Mac Clutch.

I love the size, the simple design, the gold hardware and that it’s perfect to take anywhere, day or night.

It also comes in 10 different colours (I’m stalking the almond colour one next!).

(Ok I did get a few more things this Christmas, but I’ll take photos of them some other time!)


What are you wearing for Christmas?

21 December 2012

A few weeks ago, I picked out two dresses to wear to my Christmas and New Year celebrations.

These are from Beauties Closet, an online shop specialising in popular fashion styles from Korea.

I reviewed this online shop a few months ago in this blog post, and I share a few tips on Korean fashion and the best ways to shop on the site.

I also have a special 15% off discount code for all my readers that will help out with the shipping cost. Scroll below for details.

Anyway, here are the dresses. They are so pretty!

Christmas Dresses from Beauties Closet

This Sequin Feminine Dress is really adorable. In real life, wearing the dress to a candlelit dinner party, surrounded by sparkling fairy lights, I seriously felt like a twinkly angel.

It is a well made, nicely tailored dress, but I have to admit, the sequins are a little delicate. And yeah ok it’s a little pricey too, but I would definitely wear it more than once.

However, considering that most people would buy a $160 dress from a department store to wear to an event, this price is not far off, for a dress that’s a little bit different.

It’s a pretty, floaty dress, great for spring and summer.

I’d wear it to dinner parties, outdoor summer evening events, a day and night wedding reception etc etc.

Christmas Dresses from Beauties Closet

This Elbow Sleeves Lace Dress is romantic and a true classic.

Yes the dress style is quite common, but what I like about this dress is that the material is soft and stretchy. There is no zip, I just slip it on and it fits wonderfully. It’s always really nice to wear such a simple dress, because I feel so comfortable in it. It doesn’t ride up when I walk, or create static, or scrunch when I sit, or scratch my skin and make me itchy.

The dress comes in a black or white… and the styling possibilities are endless.

I have worn nude shoes, with black crystal earrings and a watermelon clutch to add a bit of colour and contrast. But you can wear the dress with bright blues, or yellows, or reds. It’s a nice way to show off your statement accessories, or your brightly coloured trench coat or your classic leather tote.

Again, this is a lovely dress that I’m very happy to add to my wardrobe. I love my Korean fashion! (Hmm, I’m tempted to get the black one now…)

*Special Discount Code*

Use the code “BCKC15″ at the checkout to receive 15% OFF your order. This offer starts 21 December and will end on 31 December 2012, 11:59 GMT8+.

And if you’d like to keep up to date with new arrivals, check out the Beauties Closet Facebook Page.

Have a fun shopping!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


Fashion Textures: Croc ‘n’ Fur

18 December 2012

Texture mixing is big in this new season.

If you love playing with new styles, try combinations of textures such as: faux fur, metallic embroidery, lace, faux snake and crocodile skins, leathers, feathers, jewelled fabrics, beads and crystals. Mix with jewel tones and metallic colours (I’m loving bronze and rose gold at the moment).

I chose a couple of items from YesStyle, and they arrived in the mail a few days ago.

I was so excited to wear them straight away and share on the blog, because they are totally rad!

YesStyle Croc Bag

This faux crocodile skin bag (by Korean brand Redopin), is hot!

It has a great structured shape, good quality weight to it, made from lovely materials, it has some cool hardware, a nice long strap, as well as a decorative chain that can be a smaller handle too.

I will definitely use it as my quick, go-to evening bag… whenever I’m wearing black (which is quite often).

YesStyle - Black Fur Coat

The weather has been a bit crazy here in Perth, with bouts of rain, storms and cool nights.

But this meant I was so so happy to take this SARAH Faux-fur Cropped Jacket out its first night out.

I’ve got a white faux fur jacket, which feels sophisticated and elegant. But black fur feels so much more edgy, moody, glam and a bit gothic. I LOVE! I think it’s one of my best wardrobe additions (in the jacket department) in a long time.

For the rest of my outfit, I’m wearing…
Sparkle Knit Top by Stylestalker from The Iconic
Faux Leather Pants from Topshop
Patent Leather shoes by GlamRockChic
Sunglasses by Chloe

Have fun!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


Styling the Miss Versatility Strand

5 December 2012

A few weeks ago, I wrote about being involved in a special blogging project, where I had the pleasure of road testing a string of pearls from Kailis Jewellery.

The pearls are called the Miss Versatility Strand. It is a long, single-strand pearl necklace designed so that you can detach sections of pearls to create different lengths of necklaces, as well as a small bracelet. You can read more about them in my blog post here!

So yes, for a few weeks, I got to take home and wear some *exquisite and luxurious jewellery* whenever I wanted – it was very special!

Outfits with the Kailis Miss Versatility Strand

Anyway, these are some outfits I wore with the pearls.

I went out to a party with my husband and I wore a simple lace dress with a white blazer. I wanted to highlight the pearls on my neck so I  chose a strapless dress. The pearls looked and felt amazing on my bare skin :) On this occasion, I wore the Miss Versatility Strand in its long “Matinee” length and matching pearl earrings.

Outfits with the Kailis Miss Versatility Strand

On the left, I wore my magenta ruffle dress, which was a very fun, colourful, flirty style of dress. It also had a deep V neckline, so I wore the Strand in its longer “Matinee” length. It went really well with my outfit.

On the right, I wore the strand as a shorter “Collier” length necklace and bracelet with my navy one-shoulder drape dress. I didn’t think I could wear a one-shoulder dress with a short string of pearls, but it looked great!

Outfits with the Kailis Miss Versatility Strand

I also wore the pearls with smart casual outfits. These two times I wore the strand as the short “Collier”necklace.

On the left, I just wore denim shirt, white jeans and leopard heels. I loved wearing this combination – I felt fab :)  And on the right, I wore a printed silk top and bright red pants.

This is ‘smart casual’ with some ‘special’ on top.

So this is what I learned about wearing the Miss Versatility Strand:

1) Pearls are so easy and effortless. No need to think about what jewellery to wear. No need to agonise whether I should try this necklace or that necklace… will they go with this dress, will they match with earrings, and what if they clash with my accessories? Pearls just seem to work with anything, I guess because they are so naturally round and lustrous, rather than sparkly.

2) The Versatility set is so …versatile. I just put on the earrings, necklace and bracelet and… my outfit felt complete.  Just like that. I felt fabulous, and would spend the whole night feeling  confident and stylish.

3) Oooh la la, I felt expensive!

4) Pearls instantly add elegance. Not just simple, clean elegance… but super-special, timeless glamour, your royal highness, modern princess kind of elegance!

5) Be prepared for compliments. People will do double takes. People will stare. People’s eyes will bug out. Women’s eyes will light up. You’ll get a lot of – Oh my god I LOVE your pearls!!!

6) Pearls feel amazing against your skin. They warm up from the heat of your body, and take on a kind of warm organic glow, like they are alive. They feel like they are a part of you somehow. They are like happy friends around your neck :)

In the end, as much as I *loved* the experience of wearing the pearls everyday, I did have to return them.

I had a little tear and I may have held onto the box a little too tightly as I passed it back to the lady behind the desk haha.

Oh and lastly, some delightful news!

Kailis Jewellery are running a Facebook competition to Win a $1,000 Voucher towards your favourite Kailis piece. Head on over, like the page, and have a go… who knows, you might win!

(However, entry is open to residents from Australia, USA, UK & Canada only.)

Good luck!!


Keeping Fit, This Is How I Roll (And Win a $100 Athlete’s Foot Gift Card)

26 November 2012

Last week, I wrote about how I went to have my feet professionally fitted for proper running shoes at The Athlete’s Foot.

I walked out with a pair of shoes and spent the week testing them out.

This week, I’m sharing a bit about my new fitness adventures and I’m also giving away a $100 Athlete’s Foot Gift Voucher to one of my readers! Scroll down for details.

Asics Pink Shoes

Here they are! My pair of bright pink ASICS Gel-Nimbus 14.

So – with my new shoes – this has been my exercise regime for the last week.

• Every day, after I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is put on my work-out clothes and my sneakers. I think it is a fantastic habit for me, because it puts me in the mood to be active and energetic for the rest of the day.

• If I’m organised enough, I will go for a quick run in the morning.

But I usually have to wrangle my three children in the mornings – get them breakfast, make their school lunches, make sure the kids are packed to go to school, and then organise myself for my own day.

So usually, I am not organized enough for a morning run.

• If I didn’t get out for an early morning run, I’ll walk my big children to school, while my little boy sits in a jogger pram.

Then I’ll run home while pushing the pram. My boy loves it and shouts “GO FASTER MUM!”.

• If I wasn’t organised enough for either a morning run or a walk to school, I would go to the gym in the mid-morning, while my little boy is in the crèche.

At the gym, I love my “Pump” and “Combat” classes.

And I have been totally addicted to all the pin-loaded strength machines (not sure what they all are actually called).

• In the afternoon, I try to walk/run to pick up my children from school.

• After school, I usually hang out with my kids in the park or in the street. I’ll go for a short run with them, play tennis on the street with them, or kick a soccer ball around.

• (Oh I also cycle about 50km each weekend to keep myself fit. But I don’t wear my running shoes while I cycle, in case I get them dirty from all the oil and grease from the bike chain).

Basically, I have practically lived in my new shoes for the last week!

The shoes are comfortable, lightweight, extremely breathable and supportive. I’m also confident that I’m not damaging my feet, knees, or back when I run.

I wanted to take a photo of myself wearing my shoes at the gym after a work out (for this blog post). So after a huge cardio and strength session, I noticed that the gym was really quiet. I tried to take a photo on my mobile phone in the gym mirror. But omg it was such a bad photo – the mirror had sweaty palm prints on it, yuck!

Instead I went home, powdered my face and voila – here’s me showing off my shoes, my arms and abs in progress and if you look closely enough, my stretch marks haha.

Asics Pink Shoes

And so, now to the giveaway!

WIN A $100 ATHLETE’S FOOT GIFT VOUCHER

-This competition is now closed! -

Send an email to me at athletesfoot@karencheng.com.au

Include these 4 things:
1) Title/ Subject your email “Show me the shoes!”
2) Full name
3) Email address
4) Tell me (in no more than 100 words) – What do you do to keep fit?

Who can enter:
Unfortunately, the competition is only open to Australian residents over the age of 14. Sorry to everyone else.

Competition Ends:
Competition runs for 15 days and closes: Monday 10 December 2012, 5pm AEST

See the full Terms and Conditions here.

Good luck everyone! Work hard, tone up and stay lean!

xxx


Frockaholics for Vogue’s Online Shopping Night

23 November 2012

The other day I indulged in a bit of fashion-girl fun.

The team at Frockaholics Online sent over a huge box of goodies for me to feature on my blog. So I had the pleasure of road testing a stack of awesome party dresses for the festive season!

They also want to offer all my readers 20% off all stock as part of Vogue’s Online Shopping Night on the 26 November. Scroll down for details!

These were my favourite picks and how I would wear them.

Frockaholics Online

(Left) This pink and white dress is by designer Talulah. And oh how I adore this label. It captures feminine silhouettes, with great prints and slightly edgy details. And it has a touch of sexiness, with a cool, street style spin.

This dress was super easy. I just zipped it up, it fit perfectly, it was easy to wear, it had a good comfortable stretch and it looked great!

Check out the Talulah collection here.

(Right) The next dress is by Rachel Gilbert. I am amazed by how she continues to create collection after collection of sublime and stunning dresses. This one is a heavily sequin/beaded dress with a sheer panel neck.

I could feel how luxurious and high quality the garment was by its weight. It was divine to wear.

Check out the Rachel Gilbert collection here.

Frockaholics Online

(Left) This cute day time dress is by Sara Philips. Known for her playful styles that are a bit quirky-cool, I have always enjoyed Sara’s garments (especially her prints).

This dress has cross back straps, and the back was a bit low, so I couldn’t wear a bra. But it fell nicely and the colours looked very unique and cool.

Check out the rest of the collection by Sara Philips.

(Right) Ok I think this dress was the winner for me! It was the first time I’ve tried a dress by Watson X Watson and I loved it!

It is made of bright blue lace with neon trim, with a high neckline and short skirt. I like the slightly sporty luxe look mixed with the feminine lace. And also, it felt very comfortable to wear and it fit me sooo well.

I love the prints in the rest of the collection! Check out Watson X Watson here.

Frockaholics Online

(Left) This was my second favourite item. I really, really liked this top by LIFEwithBird. I wished I could have kept it! It would have slipped right into my wardrobe and I would have worn it with every bottom-piece I own. Leather pants, maxi skirt, sequin skirt, denim shorts, leopard jeans… everything!

It has a knit front, with a silk underlay, so it’s slightly sheer. LOVE it.

Check out the rest of items by LIFEwithBIRD.

I wore it with my own shorts and booties.

(Right) And lastly, this is a top by Magdalena Velevska. At first I thought it looked a bit weird, because it was bright neon lime (same colour as my hi-vis cycling jersey haha) and it had these fuzzy circle shapes that look like cut up tennis balls?!

But as I styled it and wore it, I realised that I wanted to match it with heaps of things in my waredrobe. It’s look great with leather pants, slim pencil skirt, white blazer, white jeans, a bright floral skirt etc. It just looked so eye-poppingly unique.

So in the end I thought it was pretty damn cool and I wouldn’t mind having it in my wardrobe either!

Check out the Magdalena Velevska collection here.

*SPECIAL DISCOUNT CODE!

As part of Vogue’s Online Shopping Night, Frockaholics will offer 20% off all stock.

Use Code VOSN20 at checkout. Only valid on 26 Nov 2012.

Also!

I’m letting you know that there’s a secret 12-hour Flash Sale on the 26 November.

Starting at 12pm all items will be priced at $49, $79, $99 and $149. First 40 customers will receive a FREE Totem bag with purchase.
Sign up to the mailing list and receive a $30 VOUCHER to use on your next Frockaholics purchase PLUS automatic entry into the draw to WIN a $500 Shopping Voucher.

Just head on over to the Frockaholics Online website and follow the big banner :)

Terms and conditions: Free express shipping on all orders; Other offers cannot be used on Flash Sale purchases; All Flash Sale purchases are final; Flash Sale ends at 11:59pm 26 November 2012; $500 Voucher will be drawn 28 November 2012 and winner will be notified via email; Vouchers can only be used on full price stock.

Happy shopping!!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


Kailis Princess Party 2012

21 November 2012

Kailis Princess Party 2012

Last week, I was invited to attend the highly-anticipated Kailis Princess Party.

Now what on earth is a Princess Party you might ask? It’s a very special VIP event held by Kailis Jewellery, for their special clients and media people (like me!) to show off their latest jewellery designs and special collections. It’s all very special indeed.

Champagne, canapés, fresh oysters, dashing young men serving cocktails… and as much exquisite jewellery to try on as any girl could ever want.

How could I say no to an invitation like that? :)

Kailis Princess Party 2012

The event did not disappoint!

The showroom was filled with a bright, natural light, which bounced off the warm wooden floors, mirrors and glass cabinets. The place was decorated with white orchids and white lilies.

It had a really lovely and natural feel about it, but still glamourous and enchanting.

Kailis Princess Party 2012

Everyone gathered around the glass cabinets, nibbling on the finger food, sipping champagne, chatting and gawking at the beee-eeeautiful jewellery.

I went around taking detailed photos, hoping to capture all the beautiful moments of the event.

Kailis Princess Party 2012

There was a delicious array of canapés served on round mirrors, carried by a delicious array of young men.

This pancake and smoked salmon ensemble was so yummy, that I stole one, then squirreled behind a glass cabinet to take it apart, to see what it was made of!

Then I made my way to the bar, ate waaaay too many fresh oysters, sipped a bit too much champagne and got friendly with the cocktail boys. As you do.

The showroom was jam-packed full of women! Everyone was beautifully dressed for a fancy afternoon party, and yes, everyone was adorned with their own pearls (or in my case, pears on loan from Kailis).

Walking through the crowd was like viewing a moving inspiration board on how to wear pearls and look fabulous – everything from earrings, necklaces and bracelets.

Kailis Princess Party 2012

I met the gorgeous Y, who reads my blog! She was lovely to talk to, not to mention, she was styled impeccably in a black and white dress, and had very cool black caviar nail art. Hi Y!

Kailis Princess Party 2012

Myself with Sarah and Mel. Who said young women can’t wear pearls!

Kailis staff members walked around the boutique, helping women try on which ever piece of jewellery that took their fancy.

At first I was a bit shy. I stood back and took photos of other people wearing the jewellery.

Then I thought – Oh what the heck, the jewellery is out of the cabinet, I may as well have a go too!

Kailis Princess Party 2012

So I tried on this *incredibly stunning* cuff made from white gold, diamonds and a humungous pearl. It was a couture piece, so it was – ahem – a little expensive.

In fact everyone wanted to try this particular cuff on. We stood in an orderly queue (as orderly as one can, while a little tipsy) and it was passed ceremoniously onto the next person.

You should have heard the gasps and squeals of delight once the clasp snapped shut over each woman’s wrist haha!

Yes, it was frivolous fun, but this was a princess party yo.

Kailis Princess Party 2012

By the end of the party, even I loosened up and tried on a lot more pieces. I think I tried on about 10 pieces of jewellery. It was FUN :)

Everyone was in really good spirits and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Lots of women were taking photos on their phones (of themselves wearing the pearls) and sending it to their husbands – and having a good giggle about it.

Kailis Princess Party 2012

As for me, this was my ultimate princess moment haha.

A couture necklace with beautiful pearls and pink sapphires, which went perfectly with my complexion, my dress and my hair maybe?

Who knows what the magical combination was, but every other woman who caught sight of me, sighed with approval. I could feel the adoration, the admiration and the sisterhood swirling all around me.

Yup, this was the winner.

So I took a snap with my iphone and I was about to send it to my husband, but remembered that he has a dumb phone (damn!) – so I sent it to Instagram and Facebook instead, and hoped he gets the notification. (Hmm, a bit too subtle perhaps?)

Anyway, I guess the biggest lesson I took home from this experience is that – women of any age can wear pearls and look amazing. I’m a big, big fan!

Thank you Kailis for the great afternoon!

(All photos are my own. Taken with a Nikon D90 and 35mm f1.4 lens.)


Run Karen Run!

18 November 2012

The other day, I was invited to check out the services at The Athlete’s Foot, where they specialise in professional shoe fitting, and helping you find a shoe to suit your feet and your lifestyle.

The deal was that I would go through the whole process of getting my tiny, little feet measured, analysed and matched with something from the latest range of their exclusive Asics shoes and I would report on what the experience was like.

At first, the whole idea made me laugh – both with bewilderment and nervous anticipation.

SHOES? YOU MEAN SNEAKERS? FOR RUNNING?

I wear a lot of high heels. When I talk about shoes, I like to talk about leopard prints, nubuck leathers, peep toes, sling backs, and studs.

So when I think about FUNCTIONAL running shoes… I think, “Eh what’s the big deal?”

Truth is, I’ve never had my foot properly fitted for a proper running shoe. I only ever buy sneakers at Warehouse Outlet stores, where I grab something that looks good, in my size, and on sale at 70% off. Shoe comfort? Meh, I’ll just wear it in. Or I’ll just wear thicker socks.

Or worse. I would buy designer “lifestyle” sneakers online, on sale. Zero fitting experience!

I think I have only ever bought about four pairs of sneakers in my adult life.

And given my recent fitness pursuit into the world of cycling, it made me a bit I embarrassed by how uninterested I have been towards looking after my feet. After all, I now know things about bikes I never imagined I would, and it has made my life better. So maybe owning a pair of proper running shoes is another whole world of undiscovered pleasure waiting for me.

So here we go…

The Athlete's Foot

This is me, arriving for my first ever professional shoe fitting!

The Athlete's Foot

That’s right! I wore my leopard print, leather, peep toe heels for just the occasion haha.

I was met by Christina, a professional shoe fitter.

But I suddenly got a bit nervous. Cold feet, you could say. Was she going to be like one of those professional BRA FITTERS with cold fingers and a big prodding attitude? Was she about to fondle my toes?

Thankfully Christina was just fine. She explained the whole process to me and asked me a bunch of questions to work out whether I have problems with my feet, what kind of lifestyle I have, and how I might use my new shoes.

At one point, she asked, “So what do you wear when you run?”

I was rather embarrassed and mumbled, “My Converse Chucks?”

I may as well have said I run in my thongs, because Chucks are trendy “lifestyle” canvas shoes, not made for running! Naughty Karen!

The Athlete's Foot

She measured my foot. Size US 5. No surprises there.

Like I said… I have tiny, tiny little feet.

The Athlete's Foot

I was ushered over to The Athlete’s Foot Fitprint system, which was pretty cool. I stood on a pressure mat, which told me about my arch, balance, pressure points.

LOOK! Apparently I’m a little more “flat footed” on one foot. Christina thought that could mean that one of my legs is slightly longer than the other.

What the hell? Apparently it’s REALLLY common. Well, there you go – I am a bit wonky in the legs!

Now I can’t tease my husband about his different sized feet :P

The Athlete's Foot

I also walked across the pressure mat, and it showed an analysis of my foot, my walk, and how I roll. How I roll! It was really interesting.

It turns out that I have really good feet and a really good walk (despite the allegations made about my legs not being the same length). Which is why I don’t have any problems with my feet, ankles, legs, muscles, or back. I make up about 65% of the Australian population that have a neutral foot type. And it all comes down to good genetic luck really.

With that information, Christina said she would get me three different pairs of shoes to try, and whisked off.

Part of me – the girl who loves to shop – was a bit distressed. I ONLY GET TO CHOOSE FROM THREE PAIRS OF SHOES?

But then I looked around the shop and saw HUNDREDS of shoes lining the walls of the shop. So then I was relieved that I had Christina’s help to narrow the choices down.

The Athlete's Foot

She came back and placed the 3 pairs of shoes in front of me and I immediately thought….THOSE PINK ONES ARE SO MINE!

But of course I had to focus on comfort and I tried my best to give all of them a fair go.

From left to right: Mizuno (Wave Ultima 4), ASICS (GEL-Landreth 7), and ASICS (Gel-Nimbus 14).

I first tried on the purple ASICS shoes and there were great! I’ve never worn such comfortable sneakers in my life!

The white and navy Mizuno shoes were a teensy little bit firmer on the sole. I preferred the purple ASCIS shoes because of their flexibility in the sole.

The Athlete's Foot

This is me going “Oooooooh well lookie here, this one might be the winner!”

I look like a school girl in this photo! Maybe I should have worn my skinny jeans. And right there is a giant fashion tip – shoes make all the difference to an outfit. Shoes say everything.

The pink ASICS shoe definitely gripped and supported my foot (from front of the foot to the heel) so much better, making it more comfortable than the others. It had very cool shock absorption, great flexibility and just an awesome overall fit for me.

I was bouncing around the shop, focusing on my step and my foot arch, going – OH YEAH THIS IS HOW I ROLL!!

The Athlete's Foot

See? Love at first sight. They are, after all, screaming bright pink.

I can’t wait to go running in them. I don’t think I have run any long distances in 7-10 years!

I’ll be testing these babies out and letting you know how I go :)

I’ll also be giving away an Athlete’s Foot Gift Voucher in my next post, so stay tuned!

(This post was kindly sponsored by my blog advertisers Nuffnang.)

xxx


Miss Versatility Strand by Kailis Jewellery

15 November 2012

A few weeks ago, I received an interesting email from Kailis Jewellery, asking me whether I would like to be involved in a little project – in which I road test a string of pearls for a month.

Now I usually borrow fashion media samples for a week, wear them once for a photo shoot, and return the items the following week.

I don’t usually borrow items for a month. And I don’t usually wear something, WORTH THE PRICE OF A NEW CAR around my neck.

I told them I wouldn’t need it for a month, I’d be too scared of losing it or breaking it!

But they insisted.

They wanted me to EXPERIENCE what it was like to own and wear the pearls – you know, while wearing them to VIP fashion parties, out to dinner with my husband, lunch with my girlfriends, out about in the city to do some shopping, or hey, taking an evening stroll by the beach at sunset.

That idea intrigued me.

Do people really wear their pearls to the beach? Seriously? Ok so Miranda Kerr wears her Kailis Pearls to the beach – but then, she is a super model married to a movie star. I thought pearls were only for grand occasions. Buuuuut… out shopping? Out to lunch? To the movies? Hmmmm that could be A LOT of fun.

So I said yes and popped into the Kailis Jewellery store to pick them up.

*faints*

The Versatility Strand is a long, single-strand pearl necklace that is designed so that you can detach sections of pearls to create different lengths of shorter necklaces, as well as small bracelets. The picture below shows the concept of one strand, in its four different variations.

The pearls are attached by specially designed clasps, with a Kailis signature studded diamond. Pretty!

Kailis Jewellery  - Versatility Strand

As you can see, it’s such a simple, elegant idea.

Why just have one long pearl necklace, when you can change the lengths and match them with your outfit.

The Versatility Stands are available in all different sizes and grades of pearls. You can choose a strand that have large pearls that glow like the moon, or smaller pearls with a silver-platinum colour. Basically, you can choose a strand that suits your budget and they all vary according to the size of the pearls, their lustre, shape, surface and colour etc.

Can you imagine that it takes the designers YEARS to find perfectly matched pearls for one strand (same size, surface, colour!)… because these are REAL PEARLS from REAL OYSTERS.

Kailis Jewellery - Versatility Strand

I was shown this beeeeautiful Versatility strand, which I got to try on.

The pearls were so SO shiny, SO white, heavy (in a good way) and gah they were utterly gorgeous and so smooth against my skin. It cost around $800,000! Eeeep!

(I am amazed that they let me touch it with my unwashed hands.)

I was also told that Kailis have a Couture Strand range, featuring some of the largest, most exquisite and expertly matched pearls in the world. I didn’t even bother asking how much THOSE cost. It just boggles my mind to think of so many zeros.

So just when I thought that I’d never be able to own a string of pearls… they tell me this:

Kailis are now introducing their latest necklace range, the Miss Versatility Strand (pssst… which are much more affordable ladies!).

Kailis Jewellery  - Miss Versatility Strand

It simply is a shorter length of pearls, with the same detachable “Versatility” features. This time the strand turns into 3 distinct and stand alone pieces, which are extremely wearable and versatile – a long pearl strand, a short choker strand and a bracelet.

And being a shorter strand, the price of the Miss Versatility Strand is in a more accessible range – so that even my husband could afford to buy it for me. (Are you reading this babe?)

Kailis Jewellery

So this is my strand. Did I just say “MY”? I meant, this is THE strand that I am BORROWING to try out. It is one of the higher grades of pearls (of this size) in this current collection and oh my, it is stunning! The colour and lustre of the pearls are just gorgeous!

I think these pearls are a lovely size. Not too LARGE and in-your-face and not too small.

And then we got to the part where I was going to take the pearls away.

Yup I walked them out of the shop. Eeeeek so exciting!

A few days later, I cracked open the box and took them out to play.

Kailis Jewellery

Why hello there. We are going to be very good friends.

It so happened that I had a couple of evening events come up, so I could “road test” them.

I went to the launch of a new boutique hotel on Thursday, then a launch of a new fashion boutique on Friday, and then I went to the opera with my husband on Saturday.

Yes, I wore the pearls every evening! And here’s a peek at how I wore them.

Wearing Kailis Jewellery

I’ll be showing them off in greater detail in another blog post, and talking about how I worked the pearls into my fashion wardrobe.

In the meantime, I’ll be wearing my pearls for a few more weeks. I have a grand ball to attend, a few lunch soirées and who knows, I might even make it to the beach, as recommended.

For beautiful pearl photos and fashion inspirations, check out the Kailis Jewellery Facebook Page.


An Evening With Flannel

30 September 2012

Whenever I hear about fashion shows that stray from the traditional catwalk format, I always roll my eyes – whether it’s Chanel’s 2010 ice berg, or more recently, Louis Vuitton’s 2012 steam train – I’m no expert fashion editor, but I question whether “the show” is really all about the clothes, or is it’s just for entertainment’s sake.

Flannel SS12

With that in mind, I went to see Flannel’s Spring Summer 2012/13 collection, Neronis, styled by former Vogue fashion editor, Meg Gray.

The event was a 3 course sit-down dinner, combined with a fashion show – where the models posed on small sets of furniture during  pre-dinner drinks and then showed off the rest of the collection while walking around the diners.

Flannel SS12

The venue was wonderfully decorated. I walked around and I felt like I was in a movie set or a period play… and I could really feel the anticipation of something really exciting about to happen.

Flannel SS12

I really enjoyed the rich visual styling, evoking feelings of a bygone era. The lighting and mood was gorgeous, the flowers, armchairs, lamps, rugs, mirrors – all deliciously romantic and elegant.

Flannel SS12 - Photo By Dan Boud
(Photo by Dan Boud)

And the clothes were beautiful.

Flannel’s designer, Kirsty Lawrence presented us with beautiful lace dresses, sequined kimonos, silky gowns, feathered details, flowing pants, all inspired by the 1920s circus girl. The colour palette was full of creams, mints, corals, metallics, with black.

It was such a pleasure to watch the models elegantly standing around, delicately perched on the furniture, gracefully walking between tables and chairs… and showing off the clothes.

My favourites were the lace dresses.

Flannel SS12 - Stefan Gosatti
(Photo by Stefan Gosatti)

So I take it back. I thoroughly enjoyed the theatrics of the show! I loved that it was different. It worked brilliantly as part of a fashion show. And everyone remembered it and everyone raved about it.

It was a unique fashion experience… and now I’m super keen to pop into a store and try on some clothes from the collection.

Unfortunately I wasn’t given a seat at a dinner table, because bloggers were invited as a media photographer and not guests. That wasn’t a problem at all, because it was nice to move around during the show. I stayed for pre-dinner drinks, saw part of the show, then left early… because I was so hungry, and it was really awkward standing around while other people ate!

Flannel’s philosophy is Paris meets New York for the Australian lifestyle. They don’t have an e-store but you can pop over to the Flannel website and see the new collection.


Reminder: $1000 my-wardrobe Giveaway Ends Thursday night!

26 September 2012

Yep just a friendly reminder for all those interested – you can win a $1000 voucher to spend at my-wardrobe!

This giveaway is open worldwide, and will end on Thursday, 27 September 2012, 11.59pm (GMT +8).

Go to my giveaway post for more details and to enter.

The lovely team at my-wardrobe sent me a few dresses to review on my blog, and for me to wear to the recent fashion week!

They were such gorgeous dresses and I was terrified that I would spill food, drink, get lipstick marks on them. Thankfully I didn’t!

My-wardrobe

This first dress is by ACNE (one of my favourite designers!) and the design is exclusive to my-wardrobe.

It’s pretty much a big silky t-shirt dress, with a high round neck and cut-out back. It has some really nice drapes and layers too. You can wear it on it’s own, or with leggings, tucked into jeans, or as I have, belted at the waist.

Because it had a cut-out at the back, I didn’t want my bra to be exposed, so I wore a black camisole underneath and I was snug and warm all night.

I wore it with a rose gold belt from Sportsgirl and green heels from GlamRockChic (which completely lifted the whole outfit!)

My-wardrobe

Secondly I wore this Just Cavalli dress – which was soooo cool! I love the crazy angry wolf print!

This dress was definitely a loose fit dress, in a shift style. However, I think it was a bit too loose for me. The photo on the left shows the dress as is, it looked a bit shapeless to what I’m used to. But on the photo on the right, I pinned the dress back and it looked much more fitted and flattering for my shape and petiteness.

But really, I loved the print so I would still purchase it and I would get the dress slightly altered.

I received heaps of compliments for both dresses. They were really eye catching and different.

Anyway, all the best to everyone for the giveaway – hope you win, if not, there’s always next time :)

xxx

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


Morrison SS12 Runway Show

23 September 2012

Morrison SS12

I had the pleasure of attending the Morrison SS12 Runway Show, a celebration of their 10 year anniversary.

For my international readers, Morrison is one of Western Australia’s most prominent labels, known for their high-quality garments, their classic and effortless styles, and their love for all things organic and nature inspired. It’s heavenly to walk into a Morrison store!

They are most notably respected for all their many business and design awards, and the fact that their garments are designed and produced in-house, in Australia.

I’ve met husband and wife, Richard and Kylie, the duo behind the label, and they are absolutely lovely and gracious people (with 2 cute boys!). If you’re interested, I’ve written about the Morrison fashion store and online shop here, and I’ve also worn and reviewed their clothes in this post.

Morrison SS12

I had an amazing seat for the show – the girly fashionista in me was squealing with excitement, but the professional blogger part of me was tsk-tsking me because I didn’t bring my big DSLR camera. Instead I took snaps with my iphone (so I could upload them live to instagram) which was lots more fun!

I adored this green palm print on this dress. The print also came out on some Bermuda shorts, which looked totally cool!

Morrison SS12

There were a lot of garments on show, but these were my favourites. A black leather gown (how effortlessly luxe does that look?!), a white puff cocktail dress (so cute!), and this peplum evening gown (structured and sophisticated).

The show was definitely more of a “spectacular runway show”, with styling that was more dressy and formal.

However if you walked into a Morrison store (or took a peek at the Morrison eboutique) the majority of the clothes are more on the casual, everyday side. Loose fitting tops and flowy dresses, relaxed shorts and pants – all in luxurious fabrics, all gorgeously crafted, and yes, all effortlessly stylish.

I would kill to own a pair of their relaxed linen shorts or leather pants for this summer!


WIN $1000 to spend at my-wardrobe

13 September 2012

To celebrate the new and exciting fashion season all over the world, I have teamed with my-wardrobe to bring to all my wonderful readers (yes you!) another amazing giveaway!!

We’re offering the chance to win a gift card of AUD$1000 for you to spend at luxury online boutique my-wardrobe.

Which means you could pick up some designer items that you’ve been drooling over, namely from Acne, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Marc Jacobs, Carven, Vivienne Westwood, Mulberry, By Malene Birger, McQ Alexander McQueen and more!!

These are some of the outfits you could win with $1000. (Or rather, these are the items I would pick if I was allowed to enter the giveaway.)

WIN $1000 to spend at my-wardrobe

McQ Alexander McQueen
Ivy Leaf Jacquard Knitted Dress

MICHAEL Michael Kors
Small Black Webster Shoulder Flap Bag

Diane von Furstenberg
Jodi Metallic Printed Leather High Sandals

WIN $1000 to spend at my-wardrobe

Paul & Joe Sister
Baileul Cotton Lace Top

Sara Berman
Exclusive Skinny Leather Trousers

Sam Edelman
Nude Lorissa Peeptoe Court Shoe With Studded Heel

Anton Heunis
Green And Blue Spiked Pendant Earrings

WIN $1000 to spend at my-wardrobe

Just Cavalli
Wolf And Jewels Print Tunic Dress

Terry de Havilland
Exclusive Mimi Lightning Court Shoes

Diane von Furstenberg
Tonda Weave Contrast Patent Clutch

Who Can Enter:
It’s open to all readers WORLDWIDE, over 18 years.

What You Win:
The winner will receive a my-wardrobe gift voucher to the value of AUD$1000.

Giveaway Dates:
Starts on 13 September 2012.
Closes on 27 September 2012, 11:59pm (GMT +8).

How to Enter:
1) Follow my-wardrobe on Facebook OR Twitter.
2) Fill out the form below, with your name, email and tell me which is your ONE favourite designer label from my-wardrobe.

The winner will be randomly selected and contacted via email. If the selected winner doesn’t respond in 24 hours, then I will have to redraw. I will announce the winner as soon as possible on my blog and my Facebook Page.

I will also be posting a reminder on my blog and Facebook Page, before the end of the giveaway.

Good luck!

This giveaway is now closed! Thanks so much for entering.


Just Add Facial Hair

11 September 2012

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were invited to a 70s dress up party. It was party for adults (no kids allowed!), with dinner, alcohol and live band. A lot of our friends like to dress up to the max and spend a lot of time and thought with costumes, so we were keen to join in the fun.

So what do I wear to a 70s party? Well, it takes a 2 second search of the internet to discover that 70s costumes are a loud vomit of crazy colours and weird facial hair.

When considering what to wear, the biggest factor for me is COST. Sure I could go out and buy or hire an awesome outfit for hundreds of dollars. But I much prefer to pay as little as possible and be much more creative.

I remembered that I had a brown and orange floral dress made by my mother in the 1970s. I wore it here in this blog post.

Wearing this brown dress would be easy and cheap!

Buuuut I realised that I had some tall white boots, which I bought YEARS ago and wore a few times, and have never worn them since. So I was kind of eager to wear them out.

This is what I came up with.

70s Costume

The white boots are mine. The pink floral scarf is mine. And so are the white shorts.

I went to a thrift store and found a size 16, baby-doll style top, with big loose sleeves and a trippy paisley print on it – for only $3!

I sewed the waist up, so it fit me a little better, but I kept it all loose and flowy, baby. I wore the top as a mini dress, and put on the shorts for my own modesty – but they matched the boots anyway.

I was so pleased with my outfit! Only $3!!

While I was in the thrift store, I bought another paisley, floral LADIES top for my husband. I thought he could wear it with white pants?

He had no qualms about wearing the ladies top (ha!), it was a dress up party after all. But it looked totally wrong! The top had frilly sleeves, the neckline was a little too scooped? And it was just a NO. I made the final decision.

So the day before the party, I sent him to the costume shop and made him hire an outfit. Yep and it cost him $100 something, including a hire bond.

70s Costume

Haha. Yes that’s me in 70s men’s clothes! It looked pretty good!

In fact, I think I totally rocked it! I wanted to swap outfits with him, but he was not too keen on my little white shorts.

Plus he wouldn’t be able to fit my boots. Oh well.

We had a great time at the party!


Yellow Bike, Yellow Bloom

10 September 2012

Cycle to Mandurah

On the weekend, I rode 100km for my training ride. It was a fantastic ride!

I’ve been doing that distance with my training group every week, for the last few weeks.

It took us about 4.5 hours and we ride it all in one go, with small stops for drink and food.

The photo above is of me in Mandurah. Ok yes, we stopped to have a coffee at the Marina before we headed back.

Along Freeway South of Perth

This is somewhere south of Perth. We rode down along the freeway. The cycle paths are brand new, flat, wide… hardly any other cyclists or pedestrians about. I rode side by side with my team mates and I think I chatted the whole way down.

I cruise comfortably at around 28km/hr, the fastest I ever ride is 36km/hr, and all up I average around 23km/hr – which isn’t very fast, but I have to make the whole distance of 100kms without passing out at the end.

Overall, my fitness has skyrocketed… I feeling amazing and I love it!!

But I’ve now realised that if I want to keep this level of fitness and keep feeling this good, I have to look after my body really carefully.

Now I *have* to get 7-8 hours sleep. I have to eat well. I have to stop eating crap. I have to get extra exercise during the week.

Or else… I just crash.

If I don’t sleep, eat and exercise well… I get really tired and lethargic. I have low energy and I start to lack motivation and focus. My brain is not as sharp as usual. And I just feel blurry and slow and simple things seem really difficult. I crave instant energy food like sugar, chocolate and caffeine that only give me a spike of energy, then I crash again.

It’s a careful and sensitive balance that I’m trying to manage and get used to.

I don’t know if it’s just me, my age, my size, my BMI, or the fact I have 3 kids, a husband and a blog to look after when I get home. I don’t seem to know anyone else who is so sensitive in this way. Any fitness freaks out there who have gone through the same thing? Any tips on how to stay on top of it?

Bike in the Dirt

My friend had a flat tire while we were in the middle of no where. So while I was waiting for him to change his tube, I parked my bike in the dirt and did a few stretches. I don’t usually like to put my beautiful bike in the sand, but it doesn’t have a bike stand on it, and there was nothing nearby to lean it against.

Then I was struck by how cool it looked – vibrant yellow against the yellow dirt.

Much like the yellow wattle in bloom.

Yellow Wattle

It was a crazy perfect day for cycling!

Hey, you can donate to help me raise money to find the cure for cancer. Only 40 days to go before my ride!


Romwe Fashion Online

22 August 2012

If you are a bit of a fashionista, and you love to experiment with new styles AND you love a bargain – you’ll love this online store.

It’s called Romwe, you might have heard of it, it’s really popular amongst fashion bloggers.

It’s full of the latest trends and street styles, the prices are very affordable, new arrivals come in frequently , there is always lots of stock and sizes, and they have free worldwide shipping!

Here are a few of my very fashiony picks.

Romwe Fashion Online

Leatherette Skater Dress $45.50

Pattern Sleeve Contrast Blouse $33.99

Leopard Round Sunglasses $12.50

Metallic Strappy Sandals $45.90

Starry Night Print Leggings $24.99

Romwe Fashion Online

Dip Dye Blazer $74.99

Bird Chiffon Pattern Blouse $22.99

Leatherette Blank Pants $60.99

Triangle Pendant Necklace $12.50

Point Rivets Flats $84.99

I bought a few items to test out, to check the quality, sizing issues and the customer service.

Romwe Fashion Online

This is the Feminine Bowknot Shirt, in cream. It is a light, loose-fit blouse that flares out at the bottom, with a ribbon wrapped around the collar.

I bought it because it looked really versatile. It can be worn with the ribbon in a bow (and it looks really sweet), or with the ribbon like a tie, or worn on it’s own, with NO ribbon.

The top can also be worn loose or tucked into jeans, shorts, skirts – to create very different looks. You can check out the product page for a few more styling ideas. It was OK quality for the price too. I liked it.

Romwe Fashion Online

The next item I bought was this Anomalous Hem Vest Top, where the hem looks a bit like a skirt and is longer at the back. It looked a bit like a peplum top, but different. It also has silver rivets at the shoulders, but you can’t really see them in this photo.

The material was a soft cotton jersey, that flowed very nicely. It’s a really nice casual item that goes well with jeans and skinny pants.

20% Off Coupon

If you sign up for a new Romwe account (you have to sign up in order to purchase something anyway) you get 20% off your first order. Just follow the steps.

The big WIN is that there is free worldwide shipping, with no minimum purchase.

And if you’re not 100% satisfied with your order, they allow a full refund within 365 days of purchase. But you need to pay the return’s shipping fee.

The Romwe site is pretty big, with lots and lots of items. It’s fun to browse and discover cool, new products.

Hope you find something you like!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


Life at 9 and 7

13 August 2012

Boys and Medals 2008

Four years ago, our family was hit by Olympic Fever. My boys were 5 years old and 3 years old then.

I couldn’t work out what they loved most about the Olympics – identifying all the flags, actually watching the sports, or just the fact that they got to stay up a bit later each night to watch TV with mum and dad.

Well. FOUR YEARS have come around again. Now my oldest child is 9, and my middle child is 7.

Looking back at this photo of my boys… makes me really miss their little-boy stage. Things seemed so much simpler then.

I don’t talk or blog about them much these days. But OH YOU CAN BE SURE they are a very big part of my every day life.

They are 16 zoo animals wrapped up into 2 human boys. A goat, a monkey, a sloth, a lion, a bull, a baboon, a crocodile, a hyena, a snake, a cockerel, a scorpion, a hippo, a chipmunk, a meerkat, a fox, a turtle, and hmm, maybe a teddy bear at times.

Every single day from 3pm when I pick them up from school… I get the relentless avalanche of questions… from BOTH BOYS, at the same time:

What are we having for dinner? Do we always have to eat that? Are we having visitors over for dinner? Why not? What day is it today? What day is it tomorrow? When will it be Thursday? Why are you answering his questions and not mine? Why are you ignoring me? Can I play on the computer? Can I play on the computer AFTER I do my homework? Can I go over to my friend’s house? Can I go to my friend’s house AFTER I do my homework? Are you listening to anything that I’m saying? What time is dad getting home? What time do you think the sun is going to set? Can I watch TV? Can I watch TV AFTER I do my homework? What time is it now? Can I have a snack? What are you making for afternoon tea? Why is it taking so long?

My patience simmers.

I juggle them, I juggle my responses, juggle dinner, juggle a 3 year old (who is also asking me questions)… until my blood boils and I totally lose my shit and scream CAN’T YOU SEE I’M TRYING TO MAKE YOUR GODDAMN SNACK RIGHT NOW AND CAN EVERYONE JUST SHUT THE HELL UP AND LEAVE ME ALONE FOR 3 MINUTES!?!?!?!?

OK that may or may not have actually passed my lips.

But my eyes. Oh my hot, burning stare is enough to send them to their rooms to do their homework quietly while I put together a plate of cut fruit for afternoon tea.

At the ages of 9 and 7, I’ve had to deal with issues like poor attitude towards homework, disrespectful behaviour and tone, talking back, rudeness, laziness, lack of self-discipline, sibling rivalry, constant bickering, stirring each other, stupid childishness… and just being unmotivated time wasters.

I do talk to them a lot. And I listen to them too. When we sit down for a chat, we’ve had talks about careers, the kind of cars they want when they grow up, where they want to live, where they would like to travel, what kind of part time jobs they are going to get. We’ve talked about girls, tampons (oh yes), what makes a good teacher, what makes a great leader, what makes a happy person, what kind of people they like to hang around with… and soooo much more.

My kids are very blessed in that they haven’t had many stresses or struggles in their life. And when little problems, or issues occur, they seem to act very maturely, which I have to admit, surprises me.

Maybe because I’m female? Shouldn’t there be more drama? Somebody said WHAT to you? You’re not upset about it? Exactly what tone did they use? Did anyone else hear it? What did you say back to them? I dig and dig and dig for more info. But nada. I get nothing. They are upfront. What you see is what you get.

They really just don’t DWELL on stuff like girls do. Haha!

For example, one was not invited to friend’s a birthday party, but he was so gracious and understanding about it. He just shrugged his shoulders and said “Eh, they’ll be more parties.”

One put his name down to join the school cross country team. He knew it’d be a lot of hard work to train for it, he was keen and up for the challenge, but at the same time he was kinda cool if he doesn’t make the team. He said, “It’s not the end of the world, mum. I’ll just try my best.”

Disputes with friends are easily solved. They like their teachers. They like school. They do well.

In fact they just seem a little too cool and relaxed about everything.

Is there anything that they are deeply passionate about? Yep. Two things.

Computer games and reading. Isn’t that funny!

Sure one boy likes drawing. One likes cooking. Both LOVE playing sports and playing with their friends. They love their play dates and outings and movies and toys and guns and Lego and pocket money. But the book and the screen are their true loves.

However I’m not very equal with the 2 things. And they know it. I will buy them any book they want. Take them to the library once a week. Allow special time allocations for reading. Hunt for new stories. Engage in long conversations about stories, characters, plots and subplots.

But for screen time (computer games, console games, ipad games), they have to work hard for it and earn it. They get rewarded blocks of time in order to have 30 minutes of screen per week. Yes only 30 minutes per week! I’m such a meanie! If they misbehave, they get blocks of time removed from their weekly quota. Screen time is the currency in our house.

I don’t know if that’s the right way to do things, this day and age.

I sometimes get worried that they won’t know how to type properly, or format a word document, or research for information on the internet… and that will put them behind the other kids. But I tell myself that I was 16 when I discovered there was such a thing as “e-mail”!

Anyway, I am so deeply proud that both my big boys have developed a love for reading.

And by love of reading, I mean, they change into their comfy tracksuit pants, find a quiet spot in the house, snuggle up under a blanket and read a novel for an hour. Each day. It makes me very happy.

So despite the 16 zoo animals thing, they’re pretty good kids. I’m real proud of them. And I love them to bits.


Cycling Update – Bikes and Girly Bits

3 August 2012

Here’s an update of my cycling adventures as I train towards my Fundraising Ride to Conquer Cancer – 200km in 2 days!

1) My New Bike!!

New Bike

Yes I got a bike for my birthday!! Ain’t she hot?!

Brand new road bikes are pretty expensive, so I spent a bit of time looking in the second-hand market. It took me ages to find a bike in my size. But yay, I finally found one that was super light, super small, bright yellow and fit me PERFECTLY. She is 7 years old, and I’m so happy with her!!

The bike is a 2005 Giant TCR 1 Aero, with Shimano 105 groupset, a Selle Italia Nova seat and other cool bits which I won’t bore you with.

Haven’t got a name for her yet. Any ideas?

2) Cycling Buddies!

I’ve recently joined a cycling group to help me train for my ride. Our team leader is awesome – he’s a seasoned cyclist with tonnes of experience, he is attentive, supportive, patient, and gives me lots of great advice and tips while I’m riding.

And now I’ve been cycling 70km every Sunday morning! Amazing!

My fitness and energy levels are up, as is my confidence and spirit. I’m feeling so damn fine, and I’m so thankful for my husband for making it possible (ie. looking after the kids all day)! Definitely couldn’t do it without him, or all my supporters. Thank yoooou!!

OK, back to my cycling group…

It seems that I’m the only female in the group. There are supposed to be a few other women, but they have been sick, or nursing an injury, or they forgot to set an alarm – so I’ve never actually met my female group members yet.

I hope they turn up soon. You see, the guys don’t seem to do much talking WHILE cycling. And I like a bit of a chat. I want some Sunday gossip. I want to know what was the last thing they bought, what they think about different brands of energy drinks  and what they are cooking for dinner tonight blah blah blah.

But more important than that, I want to talk about…

3) Vaginas.

That’s right. After a long ride, male cyclists talk about being “Saddle Sore”…

But for us women, we’re talking about our lady bits.

4 hours on a bike seat? VERY SORE VJAY.

See? That’s why I need some women in my cycling group!! Can you imagine me cycling along on the path, next to my male team mates, chatting about the Olympics, the Tour de France, the weather… and my sore vagina? Neither can I.

When I first started this crazy adventure, a few women told me that it was very common to have a sore nether region after a long bike ride. I guess having three kids – au naturale – made me somewhat confident that my magic flower could cope with anything. Hoo boy was I wrong.

I bought padded cycling pants, which I wrote about a few weeks ago.

At the time, I was told that you have to wear the padded pants with NO UNDERWEAR, to avoid chaffing. No undies? I simply couldn’t imagine it. But when I started riding longer distances and spent 2-3 hours on the bike… I got very sore. Eventually, on one ride, I was in so much pain and so desperate for relief… that I stopped to take my underwear off!!

I can’t remember the last time I walked out of a public toilet with my panties scrunched up in my pocket. Ahem.

Amazingly, it worked. I felt free, wild and a lot less chaffed!

But alas, as my riding distance increased (3-4 hours on the bike now), the pain has returned.

So I did a bit of research. I found a blog by a female cyclist who talked very honestly about her saddle-stressed labia (not as bad you as think). And on her recommendation, I bought a tube of Women’s Chamois Cream – designed specifically for friction and chaffing. Meaning, it will prevents your delicate region from being rubbed raw. Oh joy.

dznutsbliss

It’s called DZ Nuts Bliss and it’s not exactly the most classiest looking product. On the packaging, there are a bunch of pink, penis-shaped bike seats arranged in flowers. Eew. It looks naughty. Like lube. Which it is. But not that kind of lube.

Verdict. It is DISGUSTING with a capital D. It’s a totally and utterly GROSS. It’s like walking around with what feels like 3 tablespoons of cold mayonnaise squishing around in your knickers. BLEEERRRGH. But it WORKS. Good lord, it works a treat.

Moving right along now.

3) C-C-COLD

It is winter where I am right now, and it has been soooo cold lately. I’ve had to stop riding very early in the mornings, because the temperature drops down to 2C… and my toes, fingers, nose, ears get so numb and sore – it’s just not worth it for a 1 hour ride.

Cold Weather Cycling
This is me all rugged up for cycling in the cold weather!

You’re actually not supposed to rug yourself up too much, because you get too hot from all the cycling. But I’m a wimp. When I leave the house at 6am in the morning, I have 3 (sometimes 4) layers on my body, beanie, gloves, 2 pairs of socks… and while I ride, I shed them layer by layer and toss them into my backpack. It’s such as hassle!

4) 10 WEEKS LEFT!

I have 10 weeks left until the big ride! So far I have raised $4,159.08!! But my target is $10,000.

I’d love it if you could help and support my ride by donating $20, $50 or whatever you can to fund research to find the cure for cancer.

Please head over to my donations page and make a donation!!

The money goes immediately and directly to cancer research.

Thanks for all your support!


Mini Dresses from ClubCouture

31 July 2012

I’ve been wearing clothes from ClubCouture for almost a year now, and I am continually impressed by the quality of the clothes, the affordable prices, and each new collection that they launch – oh their dresses are just lovely!

They sell stylish and pretty jewellery and cute bags too.

I chose these dresses a few months ago, and have been itching to show them off on my blog!

Mini Dresses from ClubCouture

This Black Dress (above left) is a fantastic, classic, strapless bandage dress. I adore this one! It’s made in a bandage style, with strong, thick, firm, stretchy fabric… and it is like wearing shape-wear. It pulls you in and holds you up at all the right places! A great wardrobe investment, in my opinion.

I’m wearing a size UK6 and it *just fit* me. If you’re on the bigger side of a size, you should probably buy a size up, as it’s a very snug fit.

This White Holly Dress (above right) is a very cute and simple white lace dress with a soft nude lining. It is a lovely mini dress and I’m very happy to have it in my wardrobe for the summer ahead.

Mini Dresses from ClubCouture

This Black Cross Bandage Dress looked and felt amazing. It was quite tricky to put it on (I put my head in all the wrong places!) but ahhh I loved it!

The Pink and Turquoise Dress was cute and unique too. The turquoise neckline actually continued into a deep V on the back of the dress. I liked the bandages on the chest, giving it a subtle texture. Again the dress was made from a thick, strong and stretchy fabric.

The quality of these bandages dresses are definitely comparable to designer items $300 and above.

They are both very Herve Ledger inspired!

Unfortunately these two dresses were pretty popular and are now sold out on the site.

But do check their Premium Range for dresses that are suited for functions and special occasions.

Mini Dresses from ClubCoutureYou might have remembered a dress I wrote about a few weeks ago? It was a one I called the “Garden Party Dress”.

It is actually called the Floral Printed Sheath Dress and I was told that it is now back in stock!

Special Discount Promotion: Buy 2 for 20% Off

ClubCouture are currently having a promotion, where you can buy any 2 items and receive 20% your total order. No code needed, just add TWO items to you cart and they will take care of the rest!

Happy shopping!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


Balayage at Head Studio

23 July 2012

Last year, I was hankering to do something different with my hair – I wanted a balayage style, but I didn’t have time to research the style, research a salon, and organise some time away to get it done.

Finally for my birthday last week, I decided, yep, it’s time for a hair change.

Balayage (pronounced BAH-LAY-ARGHE) (as in garage or mirage) is a highlighting technique where the lightening agent is painted freehand onto the hair. It’s when there’s a gradient from dark roots to light tips.

Lots of people also call the effect ombre (pronounced OM-BRAY), which refers more to a two-tone colour change, and less of a slow gradual gradient effect. And you can use the word ombre to describe a colour tone change in clothing, accessories, textiles, painted surfaces.

Whatever you call it, done badly, it looks like bad regrowth. You could look like some scary rocker chick. Done superbly, your hair can look naturally highlighted, sun-kissed, full of depth and texture and fresh.

So first I did a bit of research.

This is what I DIDN’T want.

Balayage Hair

It might look cool on Drew Barrymore, but I didn’t want such a drastic gradient and I didn’t want my ends to be so blonde!

Balayage Hair

Here Rachel Bilson and Ashley Simpson have a slightly more gradient effect in their hair.

But I still didn’t want so much of my ends to be so light. And the gradient still wasn’t gradual enough.

Balayage Hair

This is what I wanted. I loved the balayage on Jessica Biel! A gradual highlight, touches of lightened hair tousled between dark and medium colour strands.

Balayage Hair

And same again in this picture of Lily Aldridge.

(All celebrity pictures were taken from all over the internet without owner’s permission – sorry!)

SO. I called the team from Head Studio, who have done my hair before (I published a review post about them here).

I knew they would do a great job, because they seem to be constantly winning hairdressing prizes, and they are always on the cutting edge (excuse the pun) of new hair styles and trends.

I asked them if I could write a blog feature about the whole process and they kindly offered me a complimentary balayage, for my review. I hoped like crazy that it would turn out ok!!

Balayage at Head Studio - July 2012

I walked upstairs and was greeted by one of their GORGEOUS salon rooms.

This photo was taken from the Head Studio website, because when I was there, it was actually was full of women getting their hair done (and understandably, no one wanted to have their picture taken while having hair treatment!).

Balayage at Head Studio - July 2012

So this is me at 11am, with my day-old washed hair. Long, straight, black – as it has been for a looooong time.

I was given a proper flat white coffee, a stack of fashion magazines and an orgasmic head massage. Ah I love them already.

Then I met my colourist, Ashley, who had a string of impressive national achievements.

We had an extensive chat about what I wanted. She provided me with an ipad FULL of example hair photos, celebrity hair dos, red carpet photos, fashion and style photos… and we even found the photos of Jessica Beil (pictured above) it was brilliant.

In terms of her technique, when she was working away… she didn’t seem bored, or treat me like I was just-another-head-with-hair-to-colour-today. She was so skilled and attentive to my hair, as if I was a work of art. She came across as a real and rare craftsman (or craftsperson?). She was just awesome.

Balayage at Head Studio - July 2012

As for me, I had no doubt the final look would look nice.

But I was sooo nervous. Hence the funny look on my face. The last time I lightened my hair significantly… I was 15! I had bleached my fringe all by myself and it looked pretty bad haha.

But now? What would it look like? Will it suit me? What if I hate it? What if it’s too light? What if I don’t get used to it?

I was finally led to the basins, where all the colour / toner / lightening agent (I have no idea!) was washed out, and I was given a conditioning hair treatment too.

I was led downstairs, my hair was blow dried, curled a bit and THIS WAS THE RESULT!

Balayage at Head Studio - July 2012

OMG it was gorgeous!! I WAS SOOOO HAPPPY!

Like seriously, I was so thrilled that I jumped up and gave Ashley a big hug and squeal! I felt so lame, but haha I was completely over the moon!!

Balayage at Head Studio - July 2012

I feel like such a bimbo in saying this… but I TOTALLY LOVE MY HAIR!!

Gah it’s so pretty! Why didn’t I do this sooner!?!

Balayage at Head Studio - July 2012

She painted a bit of colour in small touches near my eyes and cheeks, to make the gradient more gradual. The colour is just perfect, the highlights are lovely, the loose curls are a perfect touch.

I think it really suits me, lifts my complexion, brightens my face and maybe makes me look YOUNGER? What do you think? Forever 25? Haha!

A BIG THANK YOU to the team at Head Studio.

They get 11 out of 10 from me… for customer satisfaction for the service, the final outcome and the overall experience.

I completely recommend these guys! Again!

Head Studio
64 King Street
Perth WA 6000
Phone: 08 9481 6464
Email: info@headstudio.com
Web: www.headstudio.com.au (includes prices and map)


How To Make Cake Pops

20 July 2012

Cake Pops 2012

A few weeks ago, I made “cake pops” for my son’s birthday party. I received so many comments about them, that I thought I would write a blog post about how I made them.

Cake pops are basically cake balls on a stick, like a cupcake lollypop. There are a number of ways to make them, but I stumbled across some pans in my supermarket (Woolworths) for $30 and thought I would give them a go – considering how utterly bored I am from making cupcakes.

If you are interested, you can buy the exact cake pop pans from Amazon. Or you can just search for Bake Pop Pans.

You can also buy cute paper sticks to use, which make the cake pops look really nice. And they are very cheap.

Cake Pops 2012

Here are the pans, a top and a base.

They came with silicone clips, reusable cake pop sticks (which don’t look very nice) and instructions (which are a bit vague, if you’re a first time baker).

Cake Pops 2012

The instructions say to use a standard cake recipe, adding an extra egg and halving the amount of water / milk. I tried it, as instructed, and I wasn’t happy with the resulting cake.

I recommend you use your favourite cupcake recipe and follow it exactly, if you want a nice cake to eat. Here I used a vanilla cupcake recipe, which I will share on my blog soon.

Coat the pan with lots of melted butter (so they won’t stick to the pan!).

Fill the pans with the cupcake mixture, pop the top on, put on the silicone clips, and bake them just as you would cupcakes.

Cake Pops 2012

Here they are after 25 minutes,  in a lovely golden colour. You can see the yellow silicone clip on the left.

There’s a bit of over flow, which is a good sign that the cake has risen and has become a sphere.

Cake Pops 2012

Break off all the over flowing bits and feed any hungry children who may be circling the kitchen.

Lift the lid off, which should come off easily, thanks to the butter.

Cake Pops 2012

Pop them all out, and scrape off the little edge / seam of cake, to create a smooth ball.

Let them cool for a few minutes.

Cake Pops 2012

Use a stick to make a hole in all the balls. I call it pre-holing the balls ha!

Coat the end of each stick in a little bit of melted chocolate and push each stick into the cake balls. This is to make sure that the stick is STUCK onto the cake ball. You don’t want the cake to fall off the stick.

Lay the cake pops down and keep them in an air tight container. As you don’t want them to dry out while you prep all the decorations.

Cake Pops 2012

Now the fun part!

Dip them in melted chocolate and decorate away!

There are some REALLY cute ideas on the internet… but I’ve just gone for the simple: coat and sprinkle.

The first time I made the cake pops, I didn’t have anything to HOLD them.

So I found a lump of children’s play dough in my fridge and stuck them all in. Afterwards I realised that the playdough was PINK, so I covered it with foil to make it look a bit nicer.

Cake Pops 2012

The second time I made the cake pops, I made them upside down… which is sooo much more practical.

The great thing about these cake pops, that since they are coated in chocolate, they are very robust and almost unbreakable, so you can stack them into a container and they travel well.

I presented all these upside down cake pops on a large white platter with lots of coloured smarties. It looked fantastic!

Overall they are fairly simple to make. It’s also easy to make a large number of them at one time. So it’s great if you have lots of guests.

Best of all, they look great, and both kids and parents LOVE the novelty!


What I Want For My Birthday

28 June 2012

Dawn Cycle June 2012

I took this photo during one of my recent morning cycles.

I woke up at 6am (in total darkness!) and as I rode, I saw this breathtaking sunrise over the river.

It made me feel so small, so grateful and so inspired. I felt so alive. So peaceful. So happy.

I was thinking about my big Fundraising Ride and how I have committed to ride… 200km. It still sounds crazy!

It doesn’t seem possible at this stage… but I’m slowly working towards my goal.

I can feel the excitement and courage of pushing myself mentally and physically. Overcoming my fears, self-doubts and anxieties. Mixed up with feelings of drive, pain, and euphoria. The journey has been amazing so far!

But what has really surprised (and stumped) me… is the fundraising. It isn’t going too well.

A handful of generous people have already donated, to whom I’m very thankful. But I’m just not reaching my fundraising goals… it’s surprisingly *really* hard work!

So…

My birthday is next week and well, I thought that I’d take a moment to be all bold and brave (since its my birthday)… and ask if YOU would like to donate $10 ($20 or maybe $50?) to my fundraising bike ride?

I’m trying to raise $10,000 for cancer research and I need all the help I can get!

If everyone who reads this blog donated just $10 to the cause, I’ll DEFINITELY be able to reach my target… and that would really be the best birthday present ever! :)

You can go to my donations page and make any donation amount you wish. You can leave a public message, or a personal message to me, or just do it anonymously. And you get a receipt, so you can claim this against your tax.

The money goes immediately and directly to cancer research.

Thank you sooo much!


This time she let me keep my underwear

14 June 2012

The other day I went to a “Full Body Massage and Signature Facial (by Ella Bache)” courtesy of Red Balloon.

I chose this experience over something like “Racing V8 Supercars on a Race Track” (to my husband’s disappointment) because, well… 1) I’m a girl and 2) I was very keen to test out a reputable salon that does massages and facials, with the possibility of me going for a regular pamper. And by regular, I mean once a year. Ok maybe twice.

The last time I had a massage and facial, it was awkward. The woman wanted me to wear some paper panties. I was running late, so I was stressed and tense. We used the wrong type of cleansers for my skin – my fault, I think. I had to wolf down the lunch provided. It was not great.

Anyway, facials (and spas) are a bit too expensive for me to do on a regular basis, so when I DO go to one, I want to know that it’s a really good one.

What am I looking for in a salon? Firstly I don’t like home salons. And I don’t like pretentiously superior salons with staff who are so trendy and glamorous that I feel butt-ugly just BEING there!

I just want a highly regarded and established salon that’s clean, modern and inviting, where the employees are happy and friendly… and where they give a damn good massage and facial.

Ella Bache

Bring on Ella Bache Beauty Salons. These guys have been around for ages and I’ve heard good things about their “Signature Facials”. Admittedly I don’t see them advertised in the glossy mags or media. There doesn’t seem to be any big name celebrities endorsing their products. Or any reviews about them by trendy beauty bloggers. Nonetheless, I was really keen to give them a go.

I booked in for a 10am appointment, which turned out to be perfect. I dropped my 2 kids off at school in the morning, I dropped my other kid at my mother’s home… and I drove over to the salon in good time.

I met my massage therapist who was a lovely, young lady.

She was very warm, friendly… and OH MY, she was gave me the BEST MASSAGE I’VE EVER HAD! It was AMAZING. It was out of this world! It was possibly better than the occasional hot oil massages my husband gives me in front of the fire place (haha, hmm hang on, I might have to think about that).

It was a Swedish Relaxation Massage, starting from my back, to my shoulders, both arms, legs, feet, neck and head. In that order I think. I wasn’t really concentrating, because my brain was wonderfully spaced out.

Best hour ever.

Ella Bache

After the massage, she went outside to get some things for my facial.

I rolled over like a sleepy animal, reached down to my handbag, propped myself up on my elbows and took a snap of my very content smile – haha.

Ella Bache

Oh and check out this little baby here – a towel warmer.

If you’ve ever had a beauty treatment, you’ll know the magic that lies within.

Next up.

The facial was just as fantastic as the massage.

It also lasted an hour. I think.

All the while she was cleansing and exfoliating my face, I was thinking – how can I make this last for ever.

And – how can I convince my husband that a massage and facial is most definitely better than racing a V8 Super car? Could I convince him to take a professional course in facial massage and skin care, so I can get this at home?

These thoughts are probably a good indication that I was very happy with my treatment.

The result? My skin felt soooo soft and plump. She used a gentle exfoliating gel which had rose petals as it’s exfoliating medium. ROSE PETALS! It was lovely!.

Overall, I was very happy with the experience. I’d do it again in an instant.

.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.

The team at Red Balloon are offering my readers a special promotion!

If you would like to give this gift to someone, or buy it for yourself, or any other gift from Red Balloon you can…

Receive $30 off when you spend $129 or more on ANY experience.

To redeem: Visit www.redballoon.com.au and enter the promotional code REDKC12 at the checkout to receive your discount.

Terms and Conditions: Offer valid until 31/12/12. Promotional Code can only be used once per person. All purchases are subject to RedBalloon T&Cs, for full details read here.


A Ride to Conquer Cancer – 200km in 2 Days

7 May 2012

I have some pretty cool news to share!

I am going to take part in a 200km bike ride to raise money for cancer research!!

The ride is called the The Ride to Conquer Cancer, and it is going to be held in October 2012 (6 months away!)

Ride to Conquer Cancer

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll probably know that I’M A TOTAL BEGINNER CYCLIST.

You’ll probably even know that my husband found my current bike ON A PILE OF JUNK. It’s a 15 year old, beat up, old, rusty, mountain bike. I ride it along the river with my son on the back. After I have ridden 6 km, I expect to stop at a cafe for lunch, while the boys play on the beach. And when I get back home, I need to have a nap.

Sooooo, how (and why) am I going to ride TWO HUNDRED KILOMETERS?

Well, this is my story.

In 2004, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. It was a horrifying year for us. We just had our first child. And there was so many investigations and uncertainty.

After months of chemotherapy, and two heart-wrenching major surgeries, he survived it!

That was 8 years ago. Now he is [still] cancer-free. And now we have 3 healthy and amazingly active young boys, aged, 9, 7 and 3.

Since then, as you can imagine, life has been very busy for us. We strive to live happy, healthy, low-stress, balanced and fulfilling lives. Living every day, knowing how lucky and blessed we are, but also fearing the cancer returning. I know so many others are going through cancer, or have lost or are losing someone to cancer, and always, the deepest parts of my heart goes out to them.

In 2009, I was invited to a face-to face interview with American cycling champion Lance Armstrong, while he was in Australia – you can read my interview here.

He told me about his foundation, Livestrong, that has raised over 300 million dollars for cancer research, and how most of that money came from the 70 million people who each donated quite a small amount.

At the time, I was *very* inspired to do something to raise awareness of cancer, and fundraising to find a cure. I started to form a few ideas on how I could use my blog to engage in a fundraising project, but I got very busy…because I had my third baby.

Now. Recently my attention has been brought back to this because of a couple of things. In December last year, a six year old girl in Singapore died of cancer. Two years earlier, I did my little bit to help raise some funds for her treatment. Ultimately, Charmaine died because doctors do not know enough about the causes and cures of cancer.

And then, in March this year, my friend Claire died of breast cancer.

So like everyone else who knows someone who suffers from cancer or has lost someone to cancer, I have to somehow “come to terms” with what has happened.

What can I do to be more positive about what has happened, and what might happen in the future?

How can I honor the memory of those who I have lost, and also make a real difference?

Only a few week ago, an article my friend Claire had written was published in a breast cancer support group newsletter. In it, she describes how she found the strength to be positive, and how she kept raising three kids while she had cancer. She was very honest, and admitted that it was very hard work, but she ended with this…

“I remain positive because so much time and money is spent on breast cancer research and I know that I am not alone.”

SO…

When The Ride to Conquer Cancer event came up, I knew it combined my passion for fundraising, raising cancer awareness, my new found passion for cycling and my spirit of adventure… all into one event.

BUT HOLY CRAP, 200 KILOMETERS??!!

That is a staggeringly big, and painfully scary number for me.

I’ve been trying to ride faster on my bike, and I have been tracking my speed and distances. It tells me that being fit enough to ride 200km… is a long, long way off!

But you know what? I want to do it.

I want the challenge. I am inspired. I love cycling. I love adventures. I love trying to make a difference. It’s crazy. But hey, here’s to life!

I will be writing about the whole of my journey on my blog, and I hope you’ll come along for the ride with me. I’ll be asking for donations, and talking about cancer, fashion, fitness, crazy European cycling dudes, and trying not to look and feel like a total idiot!

DONATIONS

The whole point of this is to raise money for cancer research :)

Cyclists participating in The Ride are supposed to set a fundraising target for themselves – the minimum being $2,500.

The careful and conservative-Karen inside me is going – “Always better to set attainable goals! That way you have a higher chance of success! Just stick with the minimum of $2500.”

But the crazy-Karen in me is thinking – “LET’S GO FOR SOMETHING INSPIRING AND HUGE!!! LET’S MAKE LANCE PROUD!!! HE RAISED $3 MILLION!”

So I’m going to aim somewhere *in between* and go for $10,000.

PLEASE HELP ME RAISE $10,000 to help find the cure for cancer!!

You can go to my donations page and make any donation amount you wish – $20, $50, $100, $500! You can leave a public message, or a personal message to me, or just do it anonymously. And you get a receipt, so you can claim this against your tax!

The money goes immediately and directly to cancer research.

I want to make a difference!

Please help me!


Giveaway: Win 2 items from AL&ALICIA

1 May 2012

For all you who had missed out on my last giveaway – here’s another awesome one to try!

If you have been a long-time follower of my blog, you might have noticed that I’m a fan of AL&ALICA. I’ve done many features of their collections, I have LOTS of clothes from this label and many of them are my wardrobe staples :)

Their designs are a wonderful mix of flirty + feminine, with a masculine edge. It’s kind of boy meets girl, and oozing with understated cool. Best of all, the clothes are comfortable, using high quality fabrics, with exceptional tailoring.

Well to celebrate their latest collection, the team from AL&ALICA are offering my readers a special giveaway.

Win any 2 items from the AL&ALICA website, of your choice!

Please scroll down for details!

The team sent me a few goodies to review, from the Spring Summer 2012 collection – Time to Pretend.

AL&ALICA - SS12 Time to Pretend

This first dress is the Kite Dress in Blossom colour. It’s probably more of a tunic or a mini dress, with pretty double layer drape at the front. It’s made from such a light, silky and luxurious fabric that you can wear it tucked into skirts or pants.

It’s perfect for warm weather, and those hot days when you still want to look stylish, yet effortless!

AL&ALICA - SS12 Time to Pretend

This is the Spellbound Jellybean Dress – another effortless dress that is pretty and colourful. I absolutely adored this one!

I’ve already worn it twice… and I got so many compliments :) I think it’s so eye catching because of its combination of pretty print and gorgeous tailoring.

The dress looks great with a blazer or denim jacket too!

AL&ALICA - SS12 Time to Pretend

Here I’m wearing a few items.

Emma Frost Top in Whipped Cream colour, which has the CUTEST polka dot bubble sheer things on it. It is sooooOOOooo cool!

This is my favourite piece in the whole collection. It combines *perfectly* with everything in my wardrobe (jeans, skirts, shorts, cropped pants) and gives each outfit a new breath of freshness that’s quirky and fun.

Yellow shorts are the Super Shorts in Buttercup colour. It is a relaxed tailored cut, with pleats, made from super soft tencel, with full lining. It’s lovely to wear. I felt very… luxuriousl, yet casual in it!

Lastly, in the outfit with my bright blue J Brand jeans, I’m wearing a Slouchy Jacket in Powder Puff colour. This is also made from super soft tencel and it’s soooo nice to wear. It’s a double breasted jacket with a relaxed fit.

You can check out the whole “Time To Pretend” collection at the Al & Alicia website!

………………………………………………………………..

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Who Can Enter:
It’s open to all readers WORLDWIDE, over the age of 18 years.

What You Win:
One lucky winner will get to pick 2 items of his/her choice, across all AL&ALICIA collections (including sale items), subject to stock availability.

Giveaway Ends:
The giveaway will last 10 days, from May 1st to May 10th, 5pm (GMT +8)

This giveaway is now closed!

The winner will be randomly selected and contacted via Facebook messages.

If the selected winner doesn’t respond in 48 hours, then I will have to redraw. I will announce the winner as soon as possible on my blog and my Facebook Page (please pop over and LIKE my page, if you haven’t already).

I will also be posting a reminder on my blog and Facebook Page, before the end of the giveaway.

Good luck!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


Reminder: Win $1000 to Spend at Shopthemag!

21 April 2012

Hi everyone! Hope you’re all having a fabulous weekend so far!

It’s Saturday morning, I’m catching up on some news and blogs with a cup of tea, and thought some of you might like a reminder to enter my exclusive $1000 Shopthemag giveaway. Please go have a peek!

Pop over to the giveaway details on this blogpost.

I wanted to share a pic of this gorgeous, colourful cuff by Disaya, from Shopthemag. I am so in love with it!! It looks amazing when mixed up with other arm party goodies – definitely a must have for the new season.

Shopthemag Giveaway

Here I wore it with a watch by Guess (left) and a bracelet by Wanderlust + Co (middle).


Does My Ass Look Big?

21 March 2012

ASOS Floral Pants

About 5-6 weeks ago (yes it was ages ago!) I bought these AMAZING flower print pants from ASOS!

I am just so in love with the crazy, bold, colourful print! I’ve already worn them a few times, but it’s the first time I’ve shown them on my blog.

Haha they are an absolute eye-catcher. They seriously make people look at your legs and bum.

Which yes, as a result, I was asking my husband several times in the evening, DOES THIS MAKE MY ASS LOOK BIG? How about at this angle? Or this?

He assured me that while where was a lot of trippy, flower-action happening, no, my ass did not look bigger than normal. Phew.

50% off 50 Sale at ASOS

ASOS are having a fabulous 50% off Sale on 50 items – full of flowers, bright colours and happy patterns! There is a bright tangerine bowling bags for under $30, pastel knitted jumpers for $28, sequin dress for $40, and playsuits for $29!

Be quick the sale ends tomorrow evening!

Check out the ASOS Australia Sale

Check out the ASOS Asia Sale

Happy shopping!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


She Died

5 March 2012

I think of my blog as a happy little island – in amongst the trouble and noise of the world. My blog is made up of (mostly) the good things that happen in my life. Yummy food, clothes, cute moments with my kids, inspirational moments. I really try to avoid negative issues in my writing.

But some things can’t be avoided.

Two and a half years ago, I wrote about a 4 year old Singaporean girl named Charmaine, who was suffering from a rare cancer. Her mother was raising money to have extremely expensive treatment in a New York hospital. Tens of thousands of strangers each gave a little, in their own way, to give Charmaine a shot at surviving.

Well, after two and a half years, the treatment options had run out, and cancer overtook little Charmaine. She died in October last year, but it has taken me till now to summon up the courage to mention it here.

She died. I hoped like crazy that she wouldn’t, but she did. I never knew Charmaine or her mother Cynthia, but her story was special to me because I have been in a similar situation.

If you have been reading my website for a long time, you might know, cancer is a topic especially close to me…my husband has nearly died twice, most recently in 2004, when our first child was only a year old.

We have been so lucky that he survived both times.

But it is still an almost daily fear of mine, of what might come back. I am reminded so frequently because a friend of mine, who has children the same age as mine, has breast cancer, and struggles everyday with the treatment and the uncertainty.

What makes Cynthia and Charmaine’s story so important to me is that it forces me – again – to realise how sad, scared and helpless I am.

It is so, so wrong when cancer takes someone so young, and in such an awful way.

Cynthia has kept a blog of her struggle to keep Charmaine in this world, through the whole of the illness. And she still writes this blog now.

I am in awe-filled respect of this woman, who has opened her heart so honestly, in a way I have not been able to.

She has told the whole story, from the shock of the diagnosis, to the hopeful fund-raising for the treatment, the endless, invasive treatments. Charmaine grows from 4 to 6 years old while all this is happening, her whole world shaped by her illness. Cynthia shares her fears, triumphs, and even confesses to praying, in the end days, that her own daughter will die to end the suffering.

If you want to realise how insignificant your own troubles are, if you think you have had a shitty day at work, or you just can’t stand your kids’ bad behaviour anymore, then I invite you to read this post, a few days before Charmaine dies. But I warn you, you will need to have a big box of tissues nearby.

Since Charmaine has died, Cynthia has continued to write about her feelings, of loss, anger, and then depression, and her attempt to make sense of what has happened.

In 2009, I met Lance Armstrong, the cycling champion who has had cancer, survived, and raised hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer research.

I was inspired by him. He survived, and he has communicated to a lot of people about fighting cancer.

And I am inspired by Cynthia too. She too has communicated the experience of cancer in her own, powerful way.

Now I’m hoping to find my own way to communicate about it.


The Low Down Hairy Gossip, Part 1

29 February 2012

Karen's Hair Portrait

On behalf of Dove, Nuffnang (my advertising sponsors) have asked me to write about my hair… AS IT IS RIGHT NOW.

Later on, I’ll also be testing out some Dove hair products and keeping a kind of hair diary. So for those who like a low down on hair, do look out for my future posts about this.

My Hair Lifestyle

I am pretty lucky with my hair. It is naturally thick, strong, and healthy. In fact, my hair is so thick that many hairdressers complain that I make their scissors blunt.

My hair also tends to be on the oily side.

And I love having very long hair!

So long, thick hair PLUS OIL = a maintenance headache.

I do lots of gardening. I play with my toddler in sandpits. I go swimming once or twice a week (beach and pool). I hit the gym. I cycle a few times a week, making for several hours of my head being in a sweaty helmet.

Basically, my hair is a filter cleaner for environmental pollution. It collects dirt better than an expensive vacuum cleaner. A blue whale in an algae bloom.

It gets dirty and gross very quickly.

I live in a bit of a cycle. The after I wash my hair, I like to wear it down, so I can feel it rolling sensually over my skin as I move. But by the end of day three, it is so oily, heavy and icky, that I am so ashamed of it, I wear it wrapped up in a bun so no one can see it.

Cleaning

I wash my hair every 2-3 days, in the evenings. I towel-dry, then blow-dry my hair.

I use 3 different brands of shampoos and conditioners (which are pretty good brands, costing me somewhere between $25-$40 per bottle). I use them on a rotation of 2 weeks, because of the product build-up.

I use quite a few hair care products, which I use sparingly – strengthening serums, hair oils, heat protection creams. These products are from the more expensive salon brands, as I like to buy the good stuff (and I do receive a lot of salon samples).

Preening

I don’t use any gels, mousse, or hair spray.

I don’t brush my hair. I use a wide-tooth comb.

I’ve never permed or chemically straightened my hair.

I straighten my hair with a straightening iron once a week, and maybe curl it once a month.

Because my hair is long and straight, I can get away without having it cut so often. I have one every 6-8 months. Right now, I haven’t coloured or cut my hair in 6 months. I haven’t had a hair treatment in ages! My ends are splitting, wispy and dry.

I was due to have a hair cut last month. But with Christmas, New Year and the school holidays… I just couldn’t find any time.

And at the moment, I’m trying to grow my hair longer. Hence my reluctance to go to a hair dresser.

Not to mention, I am lazy.

Overall

I am feeling pretty bleh about my hair.

Basically, I think my hair is in pretty good condition. But It could be much, much better though!

I probably do need to give it a bit more loving.

I don’t believe there is *one miracle hair product* that can make your hair look like magic. I think it’s a combination of good health, good habits, good maintenance, good products and a bloody good hair stylist!

But in saying that, there are some fabulous products out there, and unfortunately you have to do a bit of trail and error, to find the ones that suit you and your lifestyle.

So, in my never-ending quest to keep my long, thick, and black hair in good shape, I’m quite interested to test out the new Dove product (Dove Nutri-Oil Serum, “a weightless blend of oils that are rapidly absorbed to give instant smoothness and shine”), which claims to be just like Moroccan Oil, without the high price tag.

We shall see!


Sparkling it up at the WA Fashion Awards 2012

18 February 2012

Thursday evening was the night of nights for the West Australian fashion industry!

Several hundred designers, models, sponsors, retailers, media and fashionistas hit the GPO Building in the city and celebrated in style!

Those affiliated with the Perth Fashion Festival were able to peer-vote for the year’s most innovative designer, best runway model, accessory designer, best fashion creative, best boutique, best fashion blogger and more.

Sparkling it up at the WA Fashion Awards 2012

Usually, this annual event is a sit-down dinner, ball style, where everyone sits in tables of 10. But this year was a bit different, as they decorated the venue in lovely French chic style, with antique furniture, chandeliers, birdcages, roses, velvets and fur rugs. It was very pretty and unusual.

The whole floor was set up with little lounge areas, where people could hang out and mingle.

Some people commented that the setting was too informal for such an important occasion, but I REALLY liked it. I think it made for a more enjoyable time. It allowed us to move around and mingle A LOT.

I actually had a bit of wardrobe drama over this event.

In my heart of hearts I wanted to wear something by a local designer, or buy something from a local boutique to support the WA industry. But I was so bloody busy leading up to the event that I didn’t have time to find one.

As a backup, I was going to wear a FABULOUS designer dress I had ordered online, but it didn’t arrive on time!! I was pacing around my house in the late afternoon before the event, thinking that maybe the postman might just be running late?! But he never showed up!

ARGH! Thankfully I had a “backup backup” dress!

This sparkle dress, which was already in my wardrobe.

Sparkling it up at the WA Fashion Awards 2012

This is myself and Zara Bryson, winner for the Best Dressed Boutique, standing under the stars outside the GPO Building alongside the red carpet.

We were the only two guests dressed head-to-knee in mega-bling sparkles… so we just *had* to take a photo together. I was a little scared that our dresses would merge into one big shimmer, and that we would be stuck together all night. Like braces?

I felt a *little* guilty for wearing this dress, because everyone else was wearing something far more expensive, fashionista-ish and designery. But holy crap, my dress looked AMAZING!!

So many people walked up to me, complimented me, took my photo and asked me where it was from, or who it was by. And everyone’s mouth dropped open when I saidASOS. Ha! I heart ASOS.

Sparkling it up at the WA Fashion Awards 2012

I didn’t get a chance to take photos with everyone I knew, because my camera battery went flat half way through the night. Silly me.

The evening was great! There were delicious martinis, flowing champagne, a free makeup touch-up service, a live band, tasty nibbles, and gushing award winners.

The only disappointment of the evening was when a couple of hunky firemen popped in (why HELLO there!), and all of us girls hooted with excitement, thinking they were part of the entertainment, and hoped they were about to strip off!

Alas, they were REAL firemen, here because a smoke machine from the stage show that had set off the fire alarm. They turned their backs on hundreds of excited women, and went off to save lives somewhere else. Talk about committed to the job!

Sparkling it up at the WA Fashion Awards 2012

This isn’t actually my drink I am holding. I passed my camera to my friend to take this photo, and she handed me her drink to hold (thanks Lisa!). I was driving, and thus NOT drinking. But I was still intoxicated by the fab night and the company of a whole bunch of gorgeous fashion friends! xxx


10 Things I’m Doing This Year

2 January 2012

Helloooo-ooooo 2012!! Everyone seems to be a bit shocked and traumatized by how quickly the new year has come around. But for me, this new year is really, really exciting!!

I’m totally ecstatic about all my plans, dreams and hopes for this year.

Here are 10 of them so far. I plan to :

1) Cycle a whole lot more!

2) Eat the most amazing salads from my own garden and kitchen.

3) Join a gym. Haha how clichéd is that? I actually won 1 month of unlimited classes (including Zumba, Konga, Hip Hop, Pilates, Pump, Combat, Balance, Taichi, Yoga, Spin and Boxing) at a local gym, so I’m very keen to check them ALL out.

4) Date nights. Yes my husband and I still go out together every Wednesday. Just the two of us. This year I plan to visit every brand new bar or cafe in Perth. There have been some fabulous ones popping up all over the place.

5) Me Time (and Pre-Kindergarten). My youngest child will be going into a 3 year old kindy program, which is 5 hours a week. He is literally SO excited and practically falling over himself to “go to school”. I am both happy and melancholy about it. And hope to plan my precious me-time wisely.

6) More writing. With my iphone and a new tablet, I hope to be doing a lot more sitting in parks along the river and doing more writing. Is this a fantasy? Can people really do work in parks? In cafes? We shall see!

7) Getting involved in something that each of my boys are interested in. This turns out to be cooking with my 8 year old and gardening with my 6 year old. Not to mention, I have to learn how to play Plants Vs Zombies :P

8) Start a creative project. My creative side is really itching to do or try something tangible! Painting, sewing, DIY, anything!

9) Landscape my backyard. We have a few outdoor projects coming up this year. New paving, gazebo, new garden beds. Fun fun!

10) I have new and big things planned for my blog this year. If you haven’t already, please sign up to my newsletter and updates – scroll up to see the sign-up box!

I hope everyone had a wonderful start to the year and that you fulfill your dreams and plans for the year ahead!

xxx


Exclusive Giveaway: WIN $1000 to spend at my-wardrobe!!!

27 December 2011

My-wardrobe1000

That’s right! I’m running another AMAZING EXCLUSIVE GIVEAWAY!!!

This time, I’ve been collaborating with my-wardrobe.com – a fabulous online boutique offering everyday luxury items from designers such as Acne, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Marc by Marc Jacobs, D&G, J Brand, Michael Michael Kors, Vivienne Westwood Anglomania, Mulberry, By Malene Birger, and McQ Alexander McQueen.

We are giving away a voucher worth AUD$1000 to one of my readers to spend at my-wardrobe.

It is the perfect opportunity to get your hands on some designer items that you’ve always wanted!

All you have to do is to fill out the form below and tell me TWO items from my-wardrobe that you would love to spend your $1000 on.

Who Can Enter:
It’s open to all readers worldwide, over 18 years.

What You Win:
The winner will receive a my-wardrobe gift voucher to the value of AUD$1000.

Giveaway Ends:
Closes on 9 January 2012, 12pm (GMT +8).

How to Enter:
1) Visit the my-wardrobe.com site.
2) Browse around for a bit. Choose TWO of your favourite items.
3) Cut and paste the URL of the TWO items into the form below.
4) Make sure you enter your name and email address, and hit the submit button. And that’s it!

The winner will be randomly selected and contacted via email. If the selected winner doesn’t respond in 24 hours, then I will have to redraw. I will announce the winner as soon as possible on my blog and my Facebook Page (please pop over and LIKE my page, if you haven’t already).

I will also be posting a reminder on my blog and Facebook Page, before the end of the giveaway. If you are on Twitter, you can follow the my-wardrobe Twitter to keep up to date with news, sales and special offers.

All entrants will automatically be subscribed to my email newsletter and themy-wardrobe.com newsletter.

This giveaway is now closed.


Seeing Double

25 November 2011

Pippa McManus - Seeing Double
Last week, I went to an exhibition by fashion illustrator, Pippa McManus.

The exhibition featured 20 prints, which were a range of colour pencil fashion illustrations – all gorgeously sketched and painted.

An absolute must-see for fashion illustration fans in Perth.

I was swooning over them! Ahh, I wished I owned them, I wished I could hang them up in my home and I wished I could draw and paint like her!

Pippa McManus - Seeing Double

I recently got to know Pippa during the last fashion festival, she is just lovely, cool, talented, so down to earth and has the most amazing wardrobe!

I also got to know of her blog, Workable Fixative. And have been excitedly following her work and new projects. Her work is stunning and sexy, I love it!

Her artworks in this exhibition are for sale.

Pippa McManus - Seeing Double

Pippa and I at the end of her opening launch night.

Exhibition is at Tu Boutique: Stairwell Gallery
218A William Street, Northbridge, WA

Exhibition dates: 10 – 30 November 2011

tu opening hours:
Mon – Thu: 10:00am – 6:00pm
Fri: 10:00am – 7:00pm
Sat: 10:00am – 5:00pm
Sun: 12:00pm – 5:00pm

More information here, on the Seeing Double Exhibition Page.


Invisible Zinc

16 November 2011

One of my blog sponsors, Nuffnang, asked me whether I would like to write a post and review a product from Invisible Zinc, I said I would love to – and I almost said, “Don’t bother sending me any products, because I already have several products at home that I use.”

There ain’t no need to preach to the converted. I adore my Invisible Zinc products!

Karen at Cottesloe Beach

I wear suncream everyday. On my face, my neck and chest, my shoulders, arms and hands. However, I always forget to put suncream on my feet whenever I wear sandals, and end up with stripy feet by the end of summer. Very trendy, not!

I also always try to wear a big hat, sunglasses, and a shirt to cover my shoulders too (but in this photo above I was just about to have a swim).

I don’t exactly work 7 full hours in the sun. Yet I am outside everyday – cycling, jogging, walking, doing the school run, driving in a car, standing around in play grounds. It’s just moderate sun exposure, nevertheless I still believe in wearing nothing less than SPF 30+.

I’ve been on a looong journey to find a SPF 30+ suncream that applies nicely, feels great on and is affordable.

Which brings me to my favourite Invisible Zinc product, a daily moisturiser called, ESP Environmental Skin Protector SPF 30+.

 Invisible Zinc ESP

All Invisible Zinc products are made from a naturally derived mineral reflector, Zinc Oxide, and it creates a physical barrier (instead of a chemical absorber) to protect your skin against UVA and UVB rays.

There is no titanium dioxide, no parabens, no chemical SPF active ingredients and it’s sensitive skin friendly.

The ESP Moisturiser has a really nice, light texture. It is not thick at all. It doesn’t make your skin go all white, greasy and gluggy. And after you put it on, your skin feels smooth and matt.

Oh and the micro-fine particles are also said to help to reduce the appearance of fine lines, and to give your skin a smooth texture. It’s pretty awesome!

I also adore the Tinted Daywear, which is a mineral makeup with 3 in 1 moisturiser, zinc sunscreen and sheer foundation.

Invisible Zinc Pack Giveaway

If you’re interested in trying out some Invisible Zinc products, I’ve been given an Invisible Zinc pack to give away to one of my blog readers.

 Invisible Zinc Products

What do you win?
1x Environmental Skin Protector SPF 30+
1x UV Silk Shield Foundation SPF 30+
1x Tinted Daywear SPF 30+
1x Junior Clip-On SPF 30+

Who Can Enter – This giveaway is open to Australian residents, aged 14 years and over.

Giveaway Dates – Giveaway runs for 9 days, from 17 Nov – 25 Nov 2011 (Ends 5:00 pm AEDST).

How To Enter – Email me at karen@karencheng.com.au, your full name and answer this question – “How will Invisible Zinc benefit your summer?”

The most creative answer will be chosen as the winner.

It’s a great prize, good luck!

Please read the Terms and Conditions.


Win $1000 to Spend at ASOS!!

11 November 2011

Win $1000 to Spend at ASOS

Eeeek I’m so excited! I’ve been itching to share this with everyone!

To celebrate the change in season, I’m running a brand new EXCLUSIVE GIVEAWAY.

I’ve been working with the team at ASOS, and we are giving away a $1000 ASOS gift voucher to one of my lucky readers.

I’ve made it super simple for you. All you have to do is to fill out the form below and tell me one item from ASOS you would love to spend your $1000 on!

Who Can Enter:
It’s open to all readers WORLDWIDE, except residents of the UK. And you have to be over 18.

What You Win:
The winner will receive an ASOS gift voucher to the value of AUD$1000.

Giveaway Ends:
Giveaway ends 20 Nov 2011, 11:59pm AEST.

The winner will be randomly selected and contacted via email. If the selected winner doesn’t respond in 24 hours, then I will have to redraw. I will announce the winner as soon as possible on my blog and my Facebook Page (please pop over and LIKE my page, if you haven’t already).

I will also be posting a reminder on my blog and Facebook Page, before the end of the giveaway.

How to Enter:
1) Pop on over to the ASOS Australia, or ASOS Asia, or ASOS Worldwide site.

2) Browse around for a bit. Choose your favourite item.

3) Cut and paste the name of that item into the form below.

4) Make sure you enter your name and email address. And that’s it!

Extras:
* We would LOVE for you to sign up to the ASOS Newsletter to receive super cool updates, sale announcements, special offers and much more.

* And if you want to stay in touch with me, hear about any more competitions I’m running, and to just receive some Karen Cheng love in your inbox, you can sign up to my *new* weekly email updates (scroll up to the “Lets Stay In Touch” section to enter your email address!).

And please spread the word about this giveaway to your friends!

Love you all, and hope you have a fabulous weekend!

This competition is now closed, thank you.


Where Inspiration Makes for a Stolen Heart

7 November 2011

I get invited to a LOT of marketing events – which is very cool. I don’t go to all of them. Just the ones where I can make it to AND to the ones that sound really fun and interesting.

Most times, I don’t know very much about the event, nor do I have any emotional connection to the brand.

So I walk around the event and try to figure it all out. I do my networking thing, talking to the owners, people that I know, the PR people, random guests. I take a lot of photos… and I work out whether I like the product and whether it is interesting enough to tell you about.

Anyway, the other evening I went to an event that was worthy of sharing.

I attended an exclusive VIP event for the launch of Keiko Jewellery. I was personally invited by the designer herself (she reads my blog!) so I thought I had better get my glam on and brave the stormy weather.

The evening promised champagnes, award-winning wines, fresh oysters, amazing sushi, French canapés, live music, and mingling with fashionistas.

Keiko Jewellery Launch

The jewellery was stunning and beautiful.

Keiko Jewellery Launch

I took photos of some models’ cleavage. As you do when you are photographing necklaces.

The sushi was to die for. The oysters were amazing. There was a woman playing a harp. A GOLDEN HARP! It was all just FABULOUS darling!!

After a glass of champagne, I walked around the crowd and then I saw it… OH MY… there was this amazing salt water fish tank, full of beautiful coral and colourful fish.

(Yep, so while everyone else was admiring the $10,000 statement jewellery, I fell for a fish tank.)

Keiko Jewellery Launch

Being a scuba diver, I love the ocean. I love the colours and shapes, forms and textures of the underwater world. I derive so much inspiration and pleasure from watching various aquatic organisms move around in water. Even watching seaweed sway in the current makes me feel so relaxed and happy.

One of my ultimate *materialistic* fantasies is to own (not a designer wardrobe) but a coral fish tank in my house. I would sit, with my cup of tea and watch it all day. I could happily  grow old watching all the little fishies, slugs and starfish, moving and swimming around doing their thing.

Being a designer – and looking at this fish tank – I was struck by a tremendous sense of inspiration. And suddenly all the pieces fell together – the name of the jewellery collection – “Ocean Intrigue”, the sushi and oysters, all the sea creature shapes in her designs.

Ah ha! I found my connection with Keiko the jewellery designer.

I got a sense of how much she loves the ocean and the surf. And bam, I loved her work.

Especially this piece. Selling for a fine $14,500. I’ll let hubby know what I want for Christmas.

Keiko Jewellery Launch

When I was a Design student, I learned about the concept of “the designed object” and how we, as consumers, choose to adorn ourselves with objects we are emotionally connected to.

Well, just looking at this ring above, makes me smile, thinking about all the little fish swimming in my imaginary fish tank.

Keiko, you stole my heart.


The Lady is a Vamp, a Diva and a Lifesaver

25 October 2011

I love the idea behind GlamRockChic – shoes for the women who want statement, designer heels, made from quality materials, that are comfortable, and most importantly… affordable!

I also love their brand new range online, behold!

GlamRockChic Shoes

How hot do these look!? They are definitely a pair of knock-out, statement heels!

They are called Super Diva Mustard – with mustard yellow, zebra print, studs, and cool diagonal lines, you can’t really go wrong with them. They will just look great with a multitude of outfits – skirts, pants, jeans.

They come in a black version too – which is probably a more versatile investment.

This shoe was my favourite because of their design. Interestingly it doesn’t look like a “trendy statement” shoe that will quickly go out of fashion. I feel they look “classic statement” in that they will always look glamorous and stand out… if you get what I mean. I will be rocking them and loving them for a long time indeed.

GlamRockChic Shoes

These shoes are called Vamp, in grey. A most excellent alternative to boring black heels! I love the texture and colour!

Believe it or not, but they have been specially designed with comfort in mind. I was wearing them for 7 – 8 hours straight during fashion week and didn’t get a blister or sore feet. I didn’t even notice the time of night… until my girlfriends were walking more slowly and sitting down every 10 minutes.

GlamRockChic Shoes

Another shoe designed with comfort and style in mind is the Lifesaver.

It’s a more posh chic, for an effortless cool look. They’re soooo comfortable to wear. When I slip them on it’s like they are giving my feet a snugly hug.

Sarah, the designer behind the brand tells on her blog some fascinating stories of how she developed her shoes, testing them herself, using quality materials, pushing her manufacturers. It’s very interesting to discover how shoe designers work.

Do check out the whole GlamRockChic collection online!

Happy shopping!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


My Workout Routine (Apparently)

10 October 2011

The West, 4 Oct 2011 - My Workout

A few weeks ago I did a fun little interview about my workout routine, and it appeared in The West Newspaper last week.

The journalist did a great job condensing all my waffling into a couple of paragraphs. It makes me sound really active and sporty! Haha!

If you’d like to read the article as published, click on the image, I have it uploaded in my Facebook albums (you might have to Like My Karen Cheng Page first?).

But since this is my blog, you have the pleasure of reading all my un-edited waffling!

How do you keep in shape? How often do you try to exercise?

I eat really well – lots of vegetables, grains, pulses, fish and lean meats. I am pretty good at restricting sugar, carbs, fatty and oily foods. I snack a lot (on fruit, nuts, popcorn) so I don’t tend to over eat during meal times.

I try to do something active everyday. Most of the time I walk or cycle. I try to do muscle workouts and stretches in the evening.

What are your favourite ways to exercise?

I love cycling. I love the rush, the speed, the cardio workout, the muscle toning and the satisfying feeling after a long ride!

You’re a mother of three little boys and work, blogging and other commitments also keep you busy – how do you manage to find time to exercise?

My days are pretty busy, and I don’t have large blocks of regular time to go to a gym. Basically I have to make time to get little blocks of exercise done throughout the day.

I also try to get extra exercise through other daily activities when I’m with my children. Such as, walking to our primary school, playing soccer in the park after school, playing tennis on the street.

A child seat for my bicycle has been my best exercise investment. My 2 year old accompanies me for most of my weekly cycling!

How do you like to de-stress?

I have lots of favourite ways to de-stress – shopping, reading, catching up with friends, walking along the beach. I also find gardening, baking and cooking to be very therapeutic.

Why is health and looking after yourself important to you?

As a mother of 3 young children, I want to look after my health and well being first. I can’t be a happy mother, or a loving wife, or a caring friend… if my health is poor or if I’m feel tired and cranky all the time.

Exercising, eating well, getting some me-time, having date nights with my husband, keeping up with my girl friends, exploring my interests… are all part of me trying to maintain a balanced and fulfilling life.

Also my husband was diagnosed with cancer some years ago, and thankfully he is all clear now. After that, we both decided to live a healthy lifestyle and make choices to reduce the stress in our lives.

What are your favourite places in Perth to exercise and why?

I love being around the South Perth river foreshore. Perth has such a pretty skyline and river. I also love Cottesloe Beach.

Do you prefer to exercise on your own or with a friend (and why?)

Admittedly, I prefer to exercise on my own. I like to be focused on what I’m doing, and enjoy the feeling of exercising. I also like the quiet time it gives me. It’s a kind of meditation.


Trying to look hotter than a plucked chicken

7 October 2011

Recently I went to 7 nights of glamorous fashion events, in 7 different outfits, at the Perth Fashion Festival.  Sounds considerably glamorous right? Such is the life of a fashionista, right? Ha!

Sadly, it is not always so.

If only I didn’t have to make dinner, wrangle kids into the bath, pick up their smelly socks, and clean tomato sauce from the walls… before I dashed out to these events.

The result is that I arrive at fashion events still in domestic-slave mode, and I have to mingle among the VIP gliterati, whose whole life is dedicated to looking glamorous.

Big tip. No one at a fashion event wants to know that you had to clean the green boogers from your toddler’s nose before you left the house. And that maybe you forgot to wash your hands afterwards.

Anyway, at risk of sounding like an ungrateful drama queen – I have to say that it’s really hard work to find 7 amazing, different, stylish and fashionable outfits to wear. And what is even harder than that is… to make sure your hair looks great for 7 consecutive days. Close to impossible.

DAY 1

When choosing your outfits, the first hurdle you have to resolve is to decide whether you want to have a bit of fun and DRESS TO STAND OUT or to just dress in your own personal style (which to all fashionistas, means you have to DRESS TO STAND OUT).

I don’t usually wear all black outfits to fashion events. It’s a bit boring and predictable. But this VIP event was celebrating Aurelio Costarella’s first big fashion show in Perth, so I chose to wear my only Costarella dress – a gorgeous ruffled, silk dress with an asymmetric hem. I felt it was an easy way to pass off my lack-of-glam as a homage to Costarella.

Perth Fashion Festival - Day 1

But as soon as I walked into the venue, I met Kee, a flamboyant fashion blogger from Malaysia. I didn’t *just* look drab next to him…I almost disappeared altogether. No one bothered to look at me. I clearly was a plain, dull, non-fashionista.

So I disguised my drabness by trying to be a very interesting, witty and intelligent person… and struck a conversation with this Kee fellow. He was good fun. I told him his outfit was chickenesque. You know, just a few feathers left over on a plucked chicken. Oh the wit!

I asked if I could take a photo of his crotch, because he had a painting of his own face between his legs, on his ass, and on both his shoes. But then I realised that I was going to have to get down on my knees in front of him to get the correct angle. For so many reasons – I had just met him, we were in public, it was way too early in the evening for that sort of thing – I changed my mind and converted the photo-opportunity into a more conventional side by side.

Throughout the festival Kee wore red, blue, black versions of this same outfit, and would you believe that even strategically placed feathers and a glittery crotch can look a bit dull after Day 4?

Such is the high standard and pressure of being a fashionista.

As for the rest of my outfit… my bag was not small, nor statement, nor an easily recognisable brand. It didn’t even hint at any of the trendy colour blocking or snakeskin detail that is popular right now. I grabbed it quickly on the way out the door, because it was big and it had to fit 2 cameras. Later on, I realised I had a baby change nappy kit in there as well.

Bag: All Dressed Up from Shopthemag, Shoes: GlamRockChic, Necklace: House of Harlow, Bracelet: House of Baulch

DAY 2

As you can tell, I’m not usually into attention-seeking fashion stunts.  Fashion is fun to look at, but for me I just like to dress in my own style. Polished and practical. I dislike being cold I and dislike being uncomfortable.

That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. At least I remembered one of the golden rules of being a fashion model – if you don’t have something in your hand, put your hand on your hip.

Perth Fashion Festival - Day 2

Unfortunately, I can’t remember any of the other rules, hence, I don’t look like a fashion model. I just look like me, with my hand on my hip.

I’m wearing a lime tank, digital print chiffon skirt from Ginger and Smart (from Frockaholics) and an amazing mustard/zebra heels from GlamRockChic.

At the after party, in some drunken-photo-taking episode, someone spilled champagne all down the back of my skirt. Veeeeery glamorous. Oh well.

DAY 3

By now, my care factor was beginning to wane. All my fashion friends and I were comparing hairy legs and feet blisters.

Perth Fashion Festival - Day 3

I surprisingly had no blisters. Yay for quality shoes that look hot.

Top: Joveeba. Skirt: Redopin. Shoes: GlamRockChic.

DAY 4

By Day 4, my Fashion Show Standard for grooming had pretty much dropped to zero.

My nails were chipped and twice painted over, my back was aching, my legs were stubbly, my skin was crap – and I couldn’t give a damn about the clothes I was wearing. I just wanted to see the clothes on the catwalk.

So I put on a nice and simple, favourite ASOS dress and hoped that it would make me feel better. And it did. A little. (A very little).

Perth Fashion Festival - Day 4

Here I am with fashion illustrator Pippa McManus and fashion designer Lisa Chau. Pippa is tall and fabulously arty, and Lisa dresses so edgy and hot that she is frequently mentioned in the newspapers. Me? Hey at least I remembered to put my hand on my hip!

A lot of guys walked up to me and said how gorgeous I looked. In any other context, this would have enormously inflated my ego. But at a fashion show, let face it, the guys are all gay, have a too-keen fashion sense, so I think they were just taking pity on me.

DAY 5

I was feeling so tired that I decided to spend the night at home. Which was a nice way of saying – I was pretty much over it. I needed a break from the this whole fashion fiasco.

I spent the evening with my husband, watching TV, which should’ve been lovely. But then I noticed that I was critically examining the clothes worn by the actors in car commercials. And I knew I needed to get a life.

DAY 6

It was a great show, but I didn’t even bother to take pictures of what I wore!

I just went into the venue, sat down, saw fashion, then left.

Now I understand why those people from the super-famous fashion elite seem so aloof and quickly leave after every show. They’re not going to the secret after-party. They just want to go home and watch TV!

Day 7

The final evening of the Fashion Festival was devoted to the 25 anniversary show of one of Perth’s most iconic designers, Wheels and Dollbaby, to be held in a spectacularly restored classic Colonial period theater. It was the most anticipated show of this year’s festival, possibly the decade, and fashionistas all over were writhing in pain because it was sold out months ago, and they had missed out.

And I had a free ticket.

But I also had a walk-in wardrobe full of nothing to wear, and my fashion appetite was ready to throw-up from over-eating.  I was scared Kee would be there, dressed in a Brazilian g-string mardi-gras peacock outfit, with his face tattooed onto his bare buttocks, and I would be dressed in a large brown paper bag.

I wanted to stay home.

My husband thought I should go. I pretended to be sick, but he took my temperature, fed me chocolate, said there nothing wrong with me, and ordered me out the door.

So I had to go. Maybe I’ll write about this amazing show one day. If I can ever bring myself to look at fashion ever again.

(Okay, it only took me 3 days before I found myself flicking through a copy of Vogue).


House of Ernest Hair Salon, Perth

3 October 2011

A couple of weeks ago, I was getting ready to go to a whole week of events at the Perth Fashion Festival. But I wasn’t feeling good about my hair.

In fact, I wasn’t just having a bad hair day. I was having a bad hair MONTH. I had gotten into a deep rut with my hair care regime. I felt that no matter what I wore, I would feel crap because everyone else was going to have better hair than me.

My ends were dry, my layers were snapping off, it had been months since my last hair treatment. My hair was just dull, lifeless, hard to manage and very bleh. And so I felt very bleh.  I am my hair.

So on the morning the day before the first of my fashion events, I was so desperate that I pressed the “restart” button on my hair.

I called up House of Ernest, the most famous hair salon in Perth (that I have never been to! I remember girlfriends raving about it as far back as when I was at university!)

But I must confess, whenever I am feeling down about my hair, I know I am also very vulnerable

And I’m likely to be easily talked into a radical change – or whatever “interesting ideas” the stylist happens to want to do that day. So I am always scared that I might end up with hot pink highlights, or dreadlocks, or a butch looking bob – and then spend the next 5 years growing my hair back to its original length.

So House of Ernest sent me some of their styling images.

House of Ernest Salon

And I was like – YES, that’s how I want my hair to look. I was hooked. The left and middle photos are from their Autumn Winter 2011 collection, and the photo on the right is part of their new Spring Summer 2011 collection.

I fell in love with the waves and the chocolate highlights in the center photo, obviously because it was closer to my own hair colour.

The team at House of Ernest invited me to have a full hair cut, colour and treatment, THE NEXT MORNING, and I agreed that if I liked what they did, I would talk about it on my blog. I secured emergency babysitting (thanks Mum!) and the next morning I was off to my hair appointment.

House of Ernest Salon

This is what my hair looked like before my appointment. VERY BLEH.

House of Ernest Salon

I had a big chat with both the senior hair stylist and creative director. I told them what was wrong with my hair, what I wanted, the history and characteristics of my hair, they walked through exactly what treatment was best for my hair, all the things I was doing wrong (that was where I had my AH HA moment), and gave me so many great tips to keep my hair shiny and healthy.

I especially appreciated that they were not trying to convince me that their products were the best. I told them all the products that I use and love, and they made suggestions on how to get the best results from them.

I felt it was one of the most valuable, expert, honest and personalised consultations I’ve had with a hair stylist and colourist.

House of Ernest Salon

They gave me a hair cut, put highlights through my hair (carefully placed, so the regrowth will not be so obvious), gave me a treatment, colour and gloss through my hair.

And since I told them I was going to a fashion party that evening, they topped it off with an awesome wave styled with a ghd. I was very happy with the results!

House of Ernest Salon

Another thing that I liked was that I found out that the salon frequently holds styling events, training with international stylist, workshops, fashion shows – in order to keep their staff inspired, motivated, excited and in touch with all the current trends and techniques.

I really recommend them!

House of Ernest
Shop 19, Upper Hay Street,
Carillon City, Perth WA 6000
(located on the top floor of the Carillon City Arcade)

Phone: 9321 3391

www.houseofernest.com.au

House of Ernest Facebook Page


Nikon School for Fashion Photographers and Bloggers

9 September 2011

The good folks at My Nikon Life want to spread the word about some fashion photography courses coming up as part of the Perth Fashion Festival – both of which I’ll be a part of this year!

To find out more and to book classes, go to Nikon School at Perth Fashion Festival.

Nikon School at Perth Fashion FestivalFashion Photography MasterClass
With Nationally Acclaimed Fashion Photographer Christian Blanchard

Learn from one of the leaders amongst Australian fashion photographers. Named as one of Capture Magazine’s Top Ten Photographers, Perth native Christian Blanchard has quickly risen to the top in the fast paced and competitive world of fashion photography.

Gain experience and insight into what it takes to make a shoot magic through lighting, direction, creative narrative and post-production. A rare opportunity not to be missed!

Sunday 25 September, 2011
10am-4pm
Tickets $349

Nikon School at Perth Fashion FestivalFashion Bloggers: Shooting the Look
Fashion Blog Photography and Street Portraiture, with Photographer Christian Blanchard

Think Sartorialist meets Subiaco! Not to be missed, this special workshop will see you photographing street style with live models, while gaining expert insights into portraiture and street fashion. A fun filled few hours that will bring your abilities to the next level.

Friday 23rd September, 2011 (Invitation Only)
1pm-4pm

Saturday 24 September, 2011
10am – 1pm
Tickets $119

Nikon School at Perth Fashion FestivalRocking the Runway
Lighting and Technique with Renowned Runway Photographer Stefan Gosatti

Learn how to shoot the runway, while capturing and composing brilliant images and fashion at its very best. Official Perth Fashion Festival Photographer Stefan Gosatti offers insight into the composition, lighting and etiquette it takes to successfully shoot the glamorous and high intensity world of Runway Fashion.

Participants will get the opportunity to practice their technique with an in-class runway, live model and guidance from one of Australia’s best.

Saturday 24 September, 2011
12pm-4pm
Tickets $149


Celebrating Malaysian Hawker Food in Perth

29 August 2011

These last few weeks, I’ve been working with Malaysian Kitchen – a global initiative of the Malaysian Government celebrating Malaysian cuisine around the world.

For my blog, I wanted to feature some classic and typical Malaysian dishes, in particular the “cheap and cheerful” dishes sold at hawker food stalls.

I don’t claim to be an expert, however after a bit of asking around and research… this is what I ate over a few weeks!

Malaysian Cuisine

First up, I had a classic Malaysian breakfast – kaya toast, soft-boiled eggs and teh tarik.

Kaya is a sweet coconut egg jam that is spread on toast.

The soft-boiled egg, as I discovered, is quite a favourite amongst Malaysians. When I asked people about it, most of them come over with this starry, distant look in their eyes and they tell me that it was their favourite as a kid.

Teh Tarik is a strong, sweet tea (a mixture of black tea and sweetened condensed milk) that has been poured in a special way as to mix and froth the drink.

I was also keen to try roti canai, another popular Malaysia breakfast, but there’s only so much I can eat in one sitting.

Malaysian Cuisine

This is Nasi Lemak, a fragrant coconut milk rice served with chilli anchovy sambal. I was told by some, that this is the “National Dish of Malaysia”.

In this serve, I also ordered it with fried chicken, which is not very typical, but they were really tasty!

I was recommended this place by several people, and am more than happy to share the address. They also do a very yummy Chicken Feet Dry Noodles.

The Rice Noodle House
4/114 Barbican St
Shelley, 6148
(08) 9259 5532

Malaysian Cuisine

Penang Assam Laksa is a noodle dish with a hot, spicy and sour soup. There is seafood, mint, pineapple, fish broth and other goodies all mixed together. It is an explosion of flavours and I really love it!

I actually took this picture a few months ago, and I’m using it now, because the more recent time I went to eat this, I forgot to take my camera. Some blogger I am!

I totally recommend the place:

Espresso Seven Seas Cafe
Shop 7/3 Kearns Crescent
Applecross, 6153

Malaysian Cuisine

Fish Head Noodle Soup

I was told by several friends that I just *had* to try this dish – deep fried fish heads (and wings), eaten with a bowl of rice noodles and soup…. and it was indeed very good.

My friend brought me to this very popular shop, which was quite famous, just because of this dish.

It was nestled in the quite suburban streets, and it was FULL of people. There were probably 10 tables crammed together, with 4 people on each table, and every single person was eating this dish. There were fish head bones all over the tables, people were talking loudly, it was a great atmosphere!
Bateman Chinese Malaysian Restaurant
6/22 Parry Avenue
Bateman WA 6150
(08) 9332 0838

Malaysian Cuisine

Char kway teow is a fried flat noodle dish, cooked in a dark soy sauce, chili, various seafoods and meats, and bean sprouts. There are lots of variations.

When I worked in Singapore, I ate this dish twice a week. But where I ate it, there were bits of lard (yes crispy, solid bits of pig fat!) and cockles and definitely no green stuff in it! This particular serve was rather “healthy”.

Spencer Village Food Court
200 Spencer Rd,
Thornlie, WA, 6108

It was very interesting that almost  all the “recommended” hawker food places were south of the river!

There were a lot of other dishes that I wanted to try. And a lot of very popular Malaysian eateries that I wanted to go to… but I ran out of time.

So these are some other places in Perth that were recommended to me.

Hawker’s Cuisine
17/68 Roe St
Northbridge, 6003
(08) 9328 9668

Old Cathay
59 Albany Hwy
Victoria Park, 6100
(08) 9361 1881

Rasa Nyonya Penang Restaraunt
Shop 6&7 1019 Albany Highway
East Victoria Park, 6102
(08) 9470 3847

Bull Creek Hawker
118 Parry Ave
Bull Creek, 6149
(08) 9312 3888

Bamboo
113 Collins Rd Shop 51
Willetton, 6155
(08) 9354 4888

For my next post, I’ll be eating at a more “upmarket” dining establishment of Malaysian cuisine!


Old Red Wine

18 August 2011

The other day, we went to a friend’s place for a dinner party. Before dinner began, my friend revealed that TODAY was the perfect evening for him to open a bottle of wine that he had been keeping in his wine cellar for so long.

He was going to share it among the 6 guests. This meant that we would only get one small glass each – which suited me fine, since I can only tolerate very small amounts of alcohol.

Old Red Wine

There was lots of ooohing and ahhhing over the French wine bottle. It was so old that it had literally gathered dust. It’s not every day that you get to drink an 11 year old bottle of French wine (well not for me anyway).

When the wine bottle was opened, there was great relief when the cork came out cleanly. My friend explained that the bottle had been stored upside down, and the wine kept the cork moist -  so it would not crumble.

Old Red Wine

Dinner took some time to prepare, so we were all in quite a state of anticipation when we finally sat down to eat – and drink.

But then a funny thing happened. My wine loving friend ate two mouthfuls of the pasta, and a tiny sip of the wine, and then he said “Everyone stop drinking! This is not the right dish to go with this wine.”

At first, I thought he was joking, but then I realised he was absolutely serious. The pasta sauce was “too robust” for the wine’s “character”.

And since it was his wine, we all ate the rest of our meals with our wine glasses untouched.

Talk about fussy wine-drinkers!

About fifteen minutes after dinner, we allowed to resume appreciating the wine.

There was lots of discussion about how subtle the flavours were. How the wine had matured in “complex” ways.  And how French wines were far more sophisticated than Australian wines, which typically have “bolder” flavours.

Old Red Wine

I thought the wine was just okay, and to be honest, I really enjoy wine with stand-out flavours. You know, tough enough to take over your mouth and say “I’m here!!!”

So, I’m afraid that the wine was wasted on my “uneducated” taste.

(I can only hope that my friend does not read my blog!)


Heart and Soul by GlamRockChic

17 August 2011

Earlier this year I wrote on my blog about a luxury footwear label called, GlamRockChic.

I tried out a shoe style called Heart and Soul (Black) – and I raved about how comfortable they were.

Added to that, I wore them during Australian Fashion Week this year, and spent up to 7 hours one day walking around in them. The result was magic. No sore ankles, no blisters, nothing!

GlamRockChic Designer Footwear

Anyway, the team at GlamRockChic remembered that I initially wanted to try the beige pair, and they recently sent a pair over for me to try. Apparently they are the season’s best sellers!

I adore everything about this beige pair. The nude colour, the gold accents, the red heel (the red heel!), the heart shape cut-out, the heel height, and they are also sooooo comfortable.

GlamRockChic Designer Footwear

So here is the Heart and Soul (Beige) and the  Heart and Soul (Black).

I’ve been told that since my last review, they have been sold out, and a lot of my readers had requested for them. So we’re letting you know that new stock is in and they now are available in size 36 and 37!

Happy shopping!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


My Date With Dirty Harry

14 July 2011

Every Friday night, my husband and I have a little movie night together. We snuggle on the couch, eat snacks, drink hot peppermint tea and give a running commentary about the movie – which adds to our own entertainment.

Anyway, while we both like a dose of mindless, mainstream, blockbuster, big action, adventure movie… we both have a partiality to certain movies, which unfortunately turns us into a married couple cliché.

I like girly romances, with hot guys and a superfluous storyline.

And my husband is a bit of a movie buff, meaning he loves old movies that are “important in the history of the cinema”. Not to mention, he is a guy, so he likes war movies and BOY movies.

I fricking hate war movies and zombie movies and car movies.

And you can be sure he equally hates romantic comedies.

So my husband and I have a deal.

We agree to sit and watch each other’s movie, that way we don’t have to be lonely while we watch TV on a Friday night.

I recently made him watch “Twilight”, which caused him so much pain that he actually became unconscious (or maybe he just fell asleep).

But the next week he paid me back with a really “important classic” – “Dirty Harry” which was made in 1971 and has Clint Eastwood in it.

Well, this is what I got from it, while I painted my nails – fingers AND toes (which is allowed as part of our “deal”).

dirtyharry_04

This is Dirty Harry, a cop in San Francisco, in the early 70s. Ho hum. I’m sure I was supposed to be drawn in by this complex, dark and troubled character, but I was distracted by his clothes. In fact, I was distracted by EVERYONE’S clothes in the movie.

They were all wearing really nice “swinging sixties” clothes – except him. They are all happy and groovy, but he is Mr Square and he looks so grumpy.

In this scene, he just totalled the car on the left, and is moving in to kill the bad guy.

dirtyharry_05

This is the famous Dirty Harry scene – where Harry pulls out his BIG GUN and says “Do You Feel Lucky? Well, do ya, Punk?”

The bad guy surrenders, but Harry pulls the trigger anyway, to reveal that his gun was empty. My husband thinks this is so, so cool (but then, my 8 year old would also think it was cool).

Yawn.

Around this time (5 minutes in), I politely pointed out to my husband that the movie was insanely boring, because it had used almost every “tough cop cliché” ever written. And so my husband triumphantly declared that Dirty Harry was THE ORIGINAL tough cop movie… where all those clichés were born.

Basically, Harry is the true defender of good, and he will do anything to protect the city from evil-doers… even if it is illegal. His bosses won’t let him do his job, and he has no wife. He is a lonely, broken, badly-dressed, super-cop with nothing to lose, and a whole lot of smart-arsed one-liners to get out of his system.

Bigger yawn…

dirtyharry_06

Here, Dirty Harry is getting treatment for a minor flesh wound in the local hospital. Harry is so tough that he wouldn’t normally go to hospital for such a minor thing as a gunshot wound, but his boss made him do it.

This is where we get to see Dirty Harry’s sensitive side, with his legs splayed open in a very “David Beckham for Armani on a Billboard” kind of way. Erotic, no?

We also get to see a nice detail of that maroon knit vest and his slim fit pants. Which – funnily enough – is quite popular these days in men’s fashion.

dirtyharry_03

In this scene, our hero is talking to is his ex-partner, who doesn’t want to work with him anymore. But Harry doesn’t care, because he likes to work alone…

BIGGEST YAWN.

But check out that tweed jacket! And hairstyle!

My husband was getting a little annoyed that I wanted to pause the movie every time Harry wore something different, in order to photograph his outfits for my blog.

dirtyharry_2

This is some unimportant-to-the-story chick who is in the move just to show us how cool everyone in San Francisco is dressed compared to Dirty Harry.

Look at that green coat! Such a statement piece!

dirtyharry_01

And here he looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’m sure the Terminator movies drew style inspiration from this scene.

The move came to an end with, surprise, surprise, Dirty Harry using his big gun to blow the evil-genius bad guy away.

ULTIMATE YAWN!

And now, I am plotting my revenge…

I’d really like to compare the depiction of Pride and Prejudice the movie (staring Kiera Knightly), with the BBC TV mini series of Pride and Prejudice, which is six glorious episodes of Darcy and Elizabeth.

That’s a total of  SEVEN HOURS of ultra-girly entertainment, without a single gun, car chase or alien…


Missing Dad

27 June 2011

Missing Dad

My husband is currently away on a 3.5 week overseas trip to Scotland. He has been gone for 3 weeks… with only 5 days left before he comes back!

It’s the longest time my children have been without their dad… and they are missing him a lot. A few tears have been shed, and there’s a general low mood in the house in the evenings.

We have had lots of communication with him – phone calls, texts, emails and postcards – so that has helped a lot.

Their behaviour has been pretty much the same. Their daily routine is also the same.

If anything, my two older children (8yo and 6yo) have been doing a lot more work around the house. They help me vacuum the floor, put dishes away, put their laundry away, tidy up the outside area, tidy their rooms, and tidy up the play room at the end of every day.

I’ve been pretty strict with them. The poor kids don’t get any sweet treats (including NO HONEY on their cereal) until their jobs are done.

In turn, I give them a bit more independence (and a bit more time with their computer games).

And it’s been quite nice. It’s like having 2 young men look after me.

My youngest child is a bit clingy though. He probably understands what’s going on to a certain degree. Beyond that, he just wants to be cuddled a lot.

Missing Dad

But the biggest question everyone is asking is – “How are you coping with THREE KIDS Karen??“

Honestly, things have been going fine. I’ve been managing everything quite well. I just get on with life, really.

During the day, I’m very busy. I go out a lot, I look after my youngest kid – so it’s as if my husband was at work anyway.

After school is usually the hardest part of the day. My parents have been coming over everyday for 1 or 2 hours to help me. They bring afternoon tea, they bring makings for dinner, they bring eggs and fresh fruit, hot croissants and homemade chicken pies, they bring smiles and new stories to share. They have been an absolute blessing.

In the evenings, I help the kids with homework, I bath them, we do reading or some other activity, we clean and tidy the house.

Once the kids are in bed, I usually wash the dishes, clean the kitchen, and tackle some laundry.

After that, when the house is all quiet, I have to admit that I do get a bit lonely.

Sure it’s nice to have the whole evening to myself – to do WHATEVER I WANT. To read, to blog, to watch tv, to surf the internet til 1am in the morning…

But after a week of it… being by myself sucks.

I know myself. And I know I need some kind of emotional support and connection to keep me sane.

So on top of all this, I have been making a HUGE EFFORT (so much so, that it’s almost ridiculous) to keep my weekly schedule full and very social.

I set up play dates with girlfriends, organise girl-night-outs on the weekends, have lots of dinners with friends, manicure nights, movie nights and more. I have some big event every day, and haha it’s been great!

So with 5 days to go, I look back and try to sum up the experience…

I feel happy, tired, lonely, and very proud that I’m managing it all so well.


Some Daily Winter Outfits

8 June 2011

While I love to dress up, play with trends and put together outfits when I go out and on my blog, when it comes to my “daily mummy duties” I prefer to dress a little more… conservatively.

Meaning – when I’m dropping my kids off at school and going to toddler gym, I most certainly WON’T be “experimenting with layered textures” and wearing sequined leggings with a fur jacket. I’m not a hardcore fashionista… I like to dress appropriately.

Some Daily Winter Outfits

During my “mummy duties”, I like to wear simple, classic-styled outfits which make me feel comfortable and happy.

So today I thought I’d share a few winter outfits.

Outfit: Trench by Mersh, Cotton blue shirt from YesStyle, Striped top by J.Crew, Jeans by Sass and Bide, Wedge boots by Betts.

Some Daily Winter Outfits

I love these tan boots by Ecco – they are so, so, so comfy! They are definitely a staple for many winter outfits for years to come.

The stripe jumper was a new purchase. I already have a few stripey tops/jumpers, but the style of it – slouchy cut, bat wing arms, and a slightly cropped front and 100% wool… it was an irresistible buy. Not to mention it was on sale.

Outfit: Black camisole by Abi and Joseph, Stripe jumper by Country Road, Jersey scarf from Sportsgirl, Camel coat from Gap, Jeans by Vivienne Westwood, Tan boots by Ecco.

Some Daily Winter Outfits

Ok maybe this outfit isn’t so conservative for “mummy duties”… but hey, my day also consisted of “lunching with girlfriend duties”.

I recently acquired a blue leather jacket from YesStyle. I adored it so much that I had to wear it that day. And I paired it with a pair of velvet pants that I bought when I was 17.

Outfit: Blue leather jacket from YesStyle, White t-shirt by Country Road, Velvet pants no brand, Satin heels from ASOS.

Some Daily Winter Outfits

And this outfit was a bit of a cheat from the previous outfit, because I decided that I wasn’t going to walk into my son’s classroom and speak to his teacher, while wearing a blue leather jacket.

So I popped on this stone coloured blazer from Al & Alicia, and loved how it looked!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


Broccoli Surprise

19 May 2011

Now, a couple of years ago, this would have made my inner girl scream out “EWWW!”

Broccoli Surprise

But, living with three little boys (and one big boy) has toughened me up a lot.

So now, when I find A BIG GREEN CATERPILLAR crawling out of the broccoli that I was just about to steam for dinner…

…I just think of it as an opportunity to show the boys something really cool.

Which is easy, because they think almost anything gross or dangerous is cool.

I guess it proves that the vegetables from the “fresh market” are in fact both fresh, and not covered in pesticides – just like they promised.

A little extra protein with your veggies, anyone?

(No caterpillers were harmed in the making of this blog post. It was released back to the wild.)


my-wardrobe Launches in Australia

13 May 2011

Last week I flew to Sydney to meet with Sarah Curran, founder and CEO of my-wardrobe.com, an online boutique.  She and her team were in town for the Rosemount Australian Fashion Week, to meet with designers and the Australian media.

As I have been a fan of my-wardrobe for a while already, it was my pleasure to receive a special invitation to meet her, and talk over a cup of tea.

We managed to chat and share stories about working in the online fashion industry, balancing work and life,  our children, travelling, etc.

We also talked fashion (of course).  She is one passionate and ambitious business woman! And I loved asking her so many direct questions, about how my-wardrobe.com select garments from designer’s collections, and how they anticipates and responds to trends.

my-wardrobe Screenshot

my-wardrobe.com is an online boutique specialising in “everyday luxury” clothing, shoes and accessories. It pitches itself between net-a-porter (high-end runway fashion) and ASOS (trendy fast fashion).

It is targeted at women who want designer pieces that can fit into their everyday lives.

I love how they have cleverly celebrated this idea of “everyday luxury” across the site, with daily style news, magazine-style features, fashion TV, edited collections and street-style photography.

my-wardrobe Daily Buzz

This is an example of really nice styling ideas from their daily fashion blog. A lot of fashion tries to be exclusive, but my-wardrobe strives to make it accessible and inclusive, which is also one of my own passions.

I am subscribed to their newsletter, and I must say, it has some of the best real-life style tips and outfit inspirations incorporating trends and brands that has ever landed in my inbox.

my-wardrobe Newsletter

Above is a little snippet of their “Fashion Forecast” – the week’s weather forecast (for London) and ideas of what to wear for that day. It’s such a nice idea.

In the next few months, Australian shoppers will soon be able to enjoy more localised content, features and styling advice that are more appropriate to their climate!

The fun news for me is that I’ll be partnering with my-wardrobe.com and you’ll be seeing a bit of my own contributions as part of their launch into the Australian market!


Kailis Pearls and Your Chance to Win a $450 Kailis Pearl Necklace

10 May 2011

Kailis Pearls contacted me a few months ago, offering me a gift and inviting me to review their new Oprah Pendant. So while I was happy to receive the gift, I wanted more of a story to tell, because, well, I quite like having new experiences and writing about them.

So I asked if I could pop into the Kailis Pearls store, have them teach me a thing or two about pearls, I’ll try on some pearls and… maybe they could LET ME GIVE AWAY A FREE PEARL NECKLACE to one of my readers?!? They said yes! OMG Kailis Pearls!

So I’m running an exclusive international competition on my blog. For you! My readers! I’m so excited!

Kailis Pearls

Ok. Fact one. I have never worn a real, solid pearl necklace before. And I really didn’t know much about them.

I have never been into pearls. I know they are iconic to any classic ladylike wardrobe, but I was content with owning a few low-cost pearl items – pearl earring studs, long string of pearls necklace, pearl bracelet.

Kailis Pearls

So what is it like to wear real pearls?

Aside from the fact that I was in a huge shop, with big mirrors and windows, in a room full of beautiful natural light, surrounded by glittery diamonds, shelves dripping with white gold and gold – yes I had a girly moment.

The pearls themselves – they felt cold when I first wore them, but they warmed up on my skin, and they became as warm as I was. And it was weirdly (deep breath) sensual, and natural. They felt like they were alive, a part of me, glowing with warmth, like little soft, hard, warm muscles touching and rubbing my skin.

In one word – AMAZING.

And when you take them off, it’s like you’ve lost a part of your body, and you can still feel your warmth radiating from the pearls in your hand.

Kailis Pearls

I did learn some amazing facts from the staff at Kailis, which helped enhance my pearl-wearing experience.

Apparently, Australian Pearls are the largest and most superior pearls in the world. There’s something in the Aussie water that oysters just can’t get enough of.

To make a pearl, a tiny piece of pearl shell is inserted into an oyster. It takes 2 years for the oyster to coat the shell, and for it to turn into a pearl – just like the one I was wearing on my neck.

They DON’T DO ANY grinding or shaping or refining of their pearls. They open up the oysters, give them a good wash, sort through all the pearls they find, pick out the best ones, drill a hole through the middle, string a few together and VOILA – a pearl necklace!

Ok, ok it’s not that simple… but I didn’t realise that natural pearls were so – natural – and so organic.

Also it means that each one is truly unique and that made me very excited. There were some pearls that were shaped like teardrops, pears, little beans, some had rings or creases around the middle, or multiple creases and bumps… and I marvelled at the natural beauty from imperfections.

Kailis Pearls

Fact Two. I was stupid enough to assume that pearls grew in the same kind of little oysters that you ate at seafood restaurants. Ah, no, actually, they don’t. These pearls come from special PEARL oysters.

In this photo I’m showing you the size of a typical pearl oyster shell from the Kailis pearl farms. They are huge! Like a dinner plate!

I also thought it was cool that something so beautiful, perfectly smooth and sensual could emerge from something so rough, coarse and weathered.

Kailis Pearls

These are some Kailis pearl jewellery designs that I just drooled over! Above is a AUD $65,000 couture pearl necklace. Yes, that’s right, there are THREE zeros in that price tag.

Kailis Pearls

A pair of Vibrance Earrings for AUD $19,000. And Marquise Earrings for AUD $11,900.

Haha, I’ll never be able to afford any of them! But there are simple, classic pearl pendants for $1,200… or earrings for $800 on the Kailis Website, and you can buy online, with international delivery.

Enter to win a Kailis Oprah Pendant worth $450!

Oprah Pendant

Kailis teamed up with the producers of the Oprah Winfrey show to spread the word about Kailis and Australian Pearls. They created this pendant featuring a 10-12mm Australian South Sea pearl, 0.02ct ‘secret’ black diamond, 90cm sterling silver chain, and a limited edition ‘O’ medallion.

6000 necklaces were given to all members of the audience at Oprah’s first taping of her Tour of Australia show. Now US celebrities have been seen wearing them to the Oscars etc.

Read more information on the Kailis O Pendant Page.

Kailis gifted me with two of these necklaces, one for me and one for a lucky reader. So it might be you!

Who Can Enter :

This competition is open WORLDWIDE. I know my readers come from all over the world, so I wanted to give everyone a chance to win. You must be over 18 and you must fill out the form below. You can only enter once.

How To Enter :

The Competition is now closed!


Times Square AW11

30 April 2011

Times Square AW2011

I went to a fashion event at Times Square, in Claremont, which is a rather upmarket suburb of Perth. Actually, it doesn’t get much more upmarket – it’s where Perth’s multi-millionaires and billionaires, go shopping and dining.

The show was an open-air show, on the roof top, under the stars. The atmosphere was just lovely. I sipped a bit of champagne, I ate some amazing garlic prawns, I got a front row seat, and chatted all night.

Times Square is a cluster of boutiques including Wayne Cooper, Aelkemi, Bettina Liano, Leona Edmiston, Breathless, Anna Thomas. For this show they were launching their Autumn Winter 2011 Collections.

These are a few looks from Aelkemi’s collection – I adored the purple fur, black sequins and the pleated dresses.

Times Square AW2011

Anyway while I was walking back to my car, I strolled through the new Claremont Quarter Shopping Centre. It was late night shopping and the place was filled with shoppers.

I haden’t visited Claremont in a few years, and I could hardley recognise the place! There used to be a large dodgy car park right smack bang in the centre of the precinct, but now there is a very pretty-looking, 5 storey shopping centre there… it looked great!

And then it occured to me that I needed to buy some groceries, and that the shops were open, so what the heck, in I went. What was very amusing was that I was dressed in a bright red, mini-length, ruffle-shoulder, cocktail dress, and I DIDN’T FEEL OUT OF PLACE! There were some very well dressed people there, doing their weekly grocery shopping in head to toe designer clothing!

Times Square AW2011

So I thought I’d try to capture the hilarity of the moment.

I stood in front of the Coles supermarket, in front of the oranges and tomatoes, and snapped away at myself, making sure I photographed the fruit behind me.

I felt like such a dweeb! A blogging dweeb no less!

Photo credits: Big thanks to Perth Photography who took the catwalk photos above.


Homemade Hot Cross Buns

11 April 2011

Hot Cross Buns

I am very excited at the moment. I have a new cook book and I have been inspired to BAKE!

With Easter coming up, the bakery sells hot cross buns for $6.50 for a bag of 6. Now I LOOOOOVE hot cross buns. I can eat about 3 in one sitting. And my kids could probably eat 2, maybe 3 each. Which means I would have to buy 2 bags for $13, which ain’t happening.

So I was inspired to try and make some myself.

The recipe looked super easy, and it was.

I tried out the recipe 3 times (in one week!). In the end I halved the original portion, to make 16 small buns, because the original amount of yeast made the dough grow so large that I didn’t have a bowl big enough to fit all the dough! It was spilling out over the sides!

Anyway, I thought I’d share a slightly modified Chocolate Chip version on my blog (if you want the original version with sultanas and currants, I guess you’ll have to buy the book!).

These are so fricking amazing. The smell, the texture, the light sweetness, the glaze, the bits of chocolate… they are absolutely delicious.

Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns

10g yeast
150ml warm water
45g caster sugar
275g plain flour
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
50g butter, softened
70g of chocolate chips

Flour Paste
45g plain flour
15g castor sugar
45ml water

Syrup Glaze
15g caster sugar
15ml of water

1. Stir yeast and water in a large bowl. Let it sit for a few minutes while you get the rest of your ingredients together.

2. Add flour, sugar, cinnamon, egg and butter (make sure it’s soft!).

3. Mix very well for 3 minutes with a spoon. Add chocolate chips and then give it another good stir for 2 minutes.

4. Cover the bowl with cling wrap, and leave the bowl in a warm place for 1- 2 hours. (I like to make it just after breakfast, before I drop my kids off at school.)

5. Preheat the oven to 170C.

6. The dough should have doubled in size. Knock back the dough with the spoon, and transfer onto a well floured surface. The dough is pretty sticky and soft, not like pizza or bread dough! I rolled them about and cut them up with a spatula and a spoon, I didn’t actually touch the dough with my fingers.

7. Divide the dough into 16 portions, lightly roll each of them into a small ball, and place the balls onto a lined baking tray. You’re supposed to place them 5cms apart, but I just put them 3cm apart.

Hot Cross Buns

8. You’re supposed to wait 1 hour for the balls to rise slightly, but I just waited 15 minutes.

9. Flour paste - Mix the flour, sugar and water in a small ball. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag – I use a plastic zip lock bag, and snip the end off one corner.

10. Pipe crosses across the buns.

11. Bake the buns for 25 minutes, until the tops are nice and dark golden colour. The darker the better!

12. Syrup Glaze - Lightly boil sugar and water in a small saucepan.

13. Once the buns come out of the oven, brush the tops with the glaze.

14. Best eaten hot!

New Cook Book - Bake by Alison Thompson

This is the cook book the recipe came from, Bake by Alison Thompson. Full of easy-to-bake classic baking recipes. Can’t wait to try out more.


Designer Footwear: GlamRockChic

22 March 2011

Shoes by Glam Rock Chic

I recently got to know a new shoe brand and online shop, called GlamRockChic, and I really liked what I saw.

I found myself quite *connected* with where the brand pitched their products, and I was able to speak over email with the shoe designer, Sarah Chin.

She had worked 10 years with high end brands such as Hugo Boss, Givenchy, Gucci, D&G – experiences which strengthened her love for quality and design. But as a woman in a senior position working in the fashion and style industry, she became frustrated with the choice of shoes available to her – either too boring, too cheap looking or too expensive.

As I see it, GlamRockChic is for women (like me!) who want gorgeous, statement, designer shoes, made from luxurious quality materials, shoes that are realistically comfortable, BUT can’t afford to spend $1200 on them (like me!).

Their shoes are priced between US$110 to US$230 and if you check out their whole collection here, you can see that the designs look very nice indeed.

So! The team sent over a few pairs for me to test out!

They all fit perfectly. And they felt DELICIOUS to wear.

The first pair I’m wearing above, is called Heart and Soul. I actually wanted the beige pair, but they didn’t have it in my size, damn! I received the black ones instead and they are now my new favourite pair of shoes. The heart shape cut-out is so cute and the colour black makes it more versatile.

For my shoe testing, I wore the Heart and Soul shoes out to dinner and drinks one night. Because I parked a long way away from the restaurant, and I had to walk an extra distance to an ATM to get some cash, I found myself having to walk about 2km in those heels! In most cases I probably would have been limping and hobbling over in pain by the end of the walk, but no, I was still skipping along going – OMG these shoes are so COOOOMFFFYYYYY!

Shoes by Glam Rock Chic

I like that these shoe designs are nestled nicely between “everyday work shoe” and “make a statement shoe”.

I chose these ORANGE ones, for a bit more of a bold statement. The suede leather and metal chain looks stylish and glam, but the mid heel makes it very easy to wear to the office.

Shoes by Glam Rock Chic

And lastly, I thought I’d go for A VERY BOLD LOOK and chose these green ankle booties, Roxanne. They look so cool! Especially with the tassels and the snakeskin print detail.

Can’t wait to style them up and wear them out!

Also, if you’re interested, GlamRockChic designer, Sarah, has a blog where you can see lots of pretty photos of her shoe designs, sketches and inspirations and a sneak peak at her next collection.

Hope you find something you like :)

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


ECCO Shoes – From Cow to Shoe

28 February 2011

I have to be honest and say that when ECCO shoes approached me and asked me to join their media press trip to Copenhagen, I didn’t know very much about ECCO shoes.

I think I had walked passed one of their shops a few times. I’d never actually been in an ECCO store. I felt that they sold “practical” shoes, as opposed to “fashion” shoes, to which I am clearly addicted.

So, I was a little embarressed to discover that:

ECCO is the 3rd largest producer of casual footwear in the world.

ECCO shoes are sold in over 90 countries.

ECCO is the only major shoe manufacturer that has chosen to own its own tanneries and factories, allowing them control of every detail of supply and manufacture, from cow to consumer.

ECCO has a set of ethical principles that are applied in all company operations throughout the world. It includes respect for human rights, freedom of religion and supports the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

And what interested me was talking to the ECCO people and finding out what ECCO think about their shoes, and why they feel they have a unique range. Apart from being seduced with free international travel to a fashion week, my interest was piqued by the idea of seeing the whole design process, and what inspired that design.

I was excited about getting an education!

So off I went on a jet plane, and 30 hours of travelling later, I arrived in the coldest place I have ever been to.

Ecco Press Trip 2011 - Tonder

The ECCO Centre is nestled 4 hours drive away from Copenhagen, in a small little rural town called Tonder. There were snowy fields, winter trees, cute little cottages and wild dear. I was in fairytale heaven.

The ECCO Centre is  a huge and lovely place – with multiple open and spacious buildings, every wall covered in original art. There are dorms for visitors to stay. A cafeteria that looks more like a restaurant. An indoor golf driving range, beautiful gardens and sculptures.

Talking to a lot of people, the biggest thing I learned about Danish culture is that – the people place a high importance on work-life balance and having a high quality of life.

Did you know that in Denmark, most workers have 6 WEEKS ANNUAL LEAVE? Their work hours are 8am to 5pm every day, and half days on Friday. Mothers have 12 months maternity leave, fathers have 6 months leave. They do have high taxes, but that means a high level of social welfare – free education and health care.

No wonder why they are often called “the happiest people in the world”!

Anyway, on to the shoes.

Ecco Press Trip 2011

In a guided tour of the ECCO Centre, we saw inside the ECCO branding department, and saw some shoes that won’t even be released  for several seasons ! I noticed that ECCO have brought in lots of new stylish looks for their collections.

Ecco SS11 Golf Shoes

These are some current SS11 Women’s Golf shoes. I love the bright colours. And you don’t even have to play golf to own a pair.

Ecco Press Trip 2011

The ECCO team gave us a tour of their design and development centres. The above photo is of one of the shoe designers sketching away in his creative space. This was where I was able to check out how they made shoes. The designer in me was skipping along doing the happy dance – I was so fascinated by everything!

I saw a huge selection of high quality leathers that had been developed at their tanneries. From soft, supple, natural toned, buttery leathers, to striking, patent leather in bright red with crocodile skin embossing.

Apparently, ECCO produce such high-quality leathers, that they sell them on to high end designers brands such as LV, Coach and even Porsche.

Ecco Press Trip 2011

This is a “mock-up” for a kid’s shoe. The designer puts together colours and textures, leathers and ribbons to create a more tangible look of the shoe design, and then they make a prototype – pictured in the background.

Ecco Press Trip 2011

This is a 3D paper shell of a shoe, onto which a shoe designer has sketched the more functional and technical aspects of a shoe – what can be done with the current range of leathers or straps or velcro or buckles.

From there they create prototypes which are then tested on “foot models” to check for comfort and fit.

Ecco Press Trip 2011

I did not know that designing a shoe upper (as opposed to the inner or the sole) is like putting a 3D jigsaw together. There can be up to 50 pieces of leather or fabric all in all kinds of weird shapes.

Ecco Press Trip 2011

I discovered that most regular shoes have their upper part stitched or glued onto their sole. But ECCO is the world leader in direct injection soles, where the shoe uppers are placed into a sole mould and the sole material is injected into the mould, bonding directly with the upper.

Apparently it’s the strongest way to attach the sole to the upper, it makes the shoe watertight, very flexible, the sole moulds to your feet and it’s very comfortable etc.

Above left is a photo of the direct injection machines, which were actually funny little robots rolling around the room, hissing and humming. A bit like the Dr. Who Daleks (without the angry shouting).

Above right, is a photo of ME trying to sew bits of leather together to make a shoe upper. It was so tricky and stressful (especially when you have a pro standing next to you). BUT I was actually quite good at it! I was so proud. If ever this blogging thing doesn’t work out, I might go into making my own shoes haha.

We spent hours at the development centre and I can say that I now definitely have a higher respect for shoes made with higher quality materials and craftsmanship. I didn’t realised that the shoe design and making process was so long and complicated!

Overall this was been *such* an enjoyable and valuable adventure for me.

If ECCO’s objective was to get me to realise what the consumer is paying for when they purchase high-quality shoes – it worked.

So now, I’ve found that when ever I pick up a “fashion” shoe – I immediately start to inspect the quality, the way it had been assembled, and I wonder how the materials were sourced. Yay to being a shoe geek!


Rocking it in Thermal Underwear

28 January 2011

In preparation for my Copenhagen trip, I was advised by many, many people to invest in some woollen thermal wear – including several readers of this blog! Thanks for e-mailing!

Now in Western Australia, where I live, day time winter temperatures really only ever get down to 10C – 14C. I’m pretty susceptible to the cold, but even I can get away with wearing regular leggings under my jeans, and wearing a big jacket and scarf.

In fact, I have had no desire to buy woollen thermals, because to me, woollen thermals mean big ugly grandma knickers and chunky leggings that are itchy and scratchy.

Plus I like to wear skinny fit pants and jeans, and I suspected that chunky leggings wouldn’t be so welcomed in my wardrobe.

However the more people I talked to who have lived through a Northern European winter… the more they advised that I buy WOOLEN THERMAL UNDERWEAR!!

Okay, Okay, I’ll do it!

Karen in Woollen Thermal Underwear!So this is me, wearing 100% Pure Merino Wool Ultra Light top and leggings, from Ice Breaker.

Merino is the finest kind of sheep’s wool that there is (apparently). And the wool for my thermals was taken from merino sheep who lived on top of cold New Zealand mountains. The cold weather makes the sheep grow especially fine wool, which (apparently) makes it even warmer than ordinary merino wool.

It is the middle of summer here in Perth and the temperature for today is 38C (100.4F).

There is NO winter gear anywhere to be seen in the shops!

I had to go to a camping and hiking store to find this set. Seriously, this is where Perth people go to buy clothes for climbing Himalayan mountains.

I got talking to the sales guy. After a bit of chit chat, he asked me where I was preparing to go to. I could tell that he was hoping I was going somewhere amazingly adventurous and cold and dangerous. So I had to reveal where I was going.

No I’m not going hiking in the Alaskan Rocky mountains. I’m going to Copenhagen for a fashion show! Ha!

The top cost me US$90 and the leggings were also US$90.

So all up this outfit was US$180.

I must admit, I was a little grumpy about having to spend so much money on “clothing” I didn’t have my heart set on. And that nobody will ever see, because it’s underwear.

And what was even more irritating, was that there were a zillion choices to choose from. Long sleeve scoop neck, with print in black? Or short sleeve v neck, with no print in a coral colour? Or 3/4 sleeve with a hoodie, print on the side in navy or nude?

I just wanted something plain and black! Sheesh.

Anyway I got home and they fit fine under my skinny jeans. Phew.

I could also successfully layer up with pants, a shirt, vest, jumper, cardigan and coat. So all good there.

The top and leggings felt light and were comfortable to move around in.

However I found the fabric was still a little prickly and itchy. Even though it says “Silky soft, non-itch”. I guess I’ll just have to get used to it.

Now I’ve got them, I hope it is SUPER cold in Copenhagen, and all the events are outdoors. Otherwise, I’ll feel like I have wasted my time and money.

But if I don’t need them this time…

I’m sure I’ll use them the next time I’m say, hiking in Antarctica?


Styling Carrie for the Oprah Winfrey Show – Part 7

31 December 2010

I have been helping Carrie, an American reader of my blog, with some styling advice, in preparation for her trip to Australia, courtesy of the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Carrie was also invited to be in the audience of the actual Oprah show recorded at the Sydney Opera House, and Carrie figured that if she was dressed particularly well, she could even get into the front row of the audience.

carrie-oprah-audience

Well, that didn’t happen. As you can see from this picture, the audience was HUGE, since the event was held outside the Opera House, not inside it. So competition for front row seats was obviously insane.

But Carrie has still been on an amazing and worthwhile journey, as I have.

She wanted my advice as to how to re-work her own ideas about how she dresses, and I really appreciated where she was at in her life, as we are a similar age, and both have young kids.

I can’t resist a before and after comparison.

carrie-styling-01

This is Carrie, back in late October, with her pick of her typical outfits then.

carrie-final-outfit

And this is Carrie in some luxurious hotel foyer somewhere in Australia in late December.

After seeing Carrie’s original pictures, I was hoping to get her to be more confident to show off her great figure. I hope you agree – she looks hot, in a classy kind of way, and radiating confidence – which is the real secret to looking great.

Mission Accomplished!

The dress is a Cap Sleeve Side Ruffle Dress from Fashionjunkee. It’s double lined, an elegant, timeless and versatile style, and not to mention it clings in all the right places. I have the same dress in black, but it also comes in white, purple, blue, red and magenta.

Carrie is a Size US 6 (Aus 10, UK 10, Eur 38), and she’s wearing this dress in a Fashion Junkee size Large.

Carrie is also wearing cream coloured Celine shoes from BETTS.

Carrie is back in America now, and you can check out Carrie’s blog for her side of the story.

carrie-necklace

In this photo, Carrie is also wearing a necklace by Aussie jewelry designer Megan Castran, who is also a huge Oprah Fan, and Oprah paid a surprise visit to Megan’s house in Melbourne! You can check out the video at Megan’s Youtube site.

For me, the journey has been a great education is styling, and having to style for someone else. I’m so grateful to Carrie for asking me, because I have learned so much.

And it’s been fun! Thank you Carrie!

So, I wonder what my next project is?


Styling Carrie for the Oprah Winfrey Show – Part 6

4 December 2010

Ok with a few more days, before Carrie heads down to Australia with Oprah Winfrey… I thought I’d better update the last of the clothes I had sent over to Carrie (courtesy of my amazing sponsors).

Styling Carrie for the Oprah Winfrey Show

First up, I made some arrangements with ASOS Online Fashion to send over a few items. The first one being this Mushroom Ruffle Blouse.

Carrie says “The beautiful ASOS ruffle top (that is on the style board) is AMAZING! It is stunning! I would wear this anytime, anywhere!”

I chose it because it was a bit flamboyant and figure hugging, and Carrie is still considering whether she would wear it.

Styling Carrie for the Oprah Winfrey Show

Next is a Gold Sequin Tank Top, also from ASOS Online Fashion.

“I love this shirt and outfit. I wish there was a regular need for me to dress like this in the Midwest USA. I’d like to wear something like this and blend in. I’ll probably layer with a smart jacket and be set!”

I can imagine this sequin top in a pretty glam daytime outfit when paired a cream jacket and matching cream tulip skirt. Or else, it’s a pretty versatile with jeans or cropped pants.

Given that I’ve never actually handled these items of clothes myself, they look pretty great in the photos that Carrie sent over. They look like the kind of stylish and glamorous additions to any basic wardrobe.

Styling Carrie for the Oprah Winfrey Show

These next few items are from Birdsnest Online Boutique, based in Australia, with international delivery.

I chose a few smart-casual items. On the top left is a Cherry Cap Sleeve Top, which I imagined that would be worn tucked into a pencil skirt or cropped skinny pants.

“This shirt is kind of shapeless, but I love the sleeves and the color is one of my favorites. Like a pure tomato red or the color of one of the newer VW Bugs. Love this shirt. When it arrived, I wore it that night around the house w/friends over and then I wore it the whole next day!”

Next is a Metalicus Tube Skirt. It is a ONE SIZE skirt, and is supposedly able to fit over any body shape from size 4 to size 12. I’ve never actually tried it, so I asked Carrie what she thought and whether it might be possible.

She told me “It’s really nice! It can be knee length or shorter and is SO comfy. Definitely can be size 4 or 12!”

And lastly, on the right, is a Jag Drape Top. I thought it’d be great stylish, loose-fitting top for summer, that also accentuated the waist. To be worn with shorts or cropped pants. But Carrie said although it was a lovely colour, it wasn’t very flattering to her figure. Oh well!

Next week, I’ll have a few photos of Carrie’s adventure in Australia with Oprah and what she finally wore for the taping of the show!


Pizza Making and The Streets of Bangkok

11 November 2010

I was invited to attend a marketing event for a new pizza franchise – called Crust – which has recently opened in the Subiaco district of my home town of Perth.

It was a chance to see the Head Chef of the franchise make pizza.

I often cook pizza at home, and I was quite keen to see how it is done professionally. But of course, I was also expecting to pig out on a lot of free gourmet pizza. I couldn’t lose.

crust_ingredients

So I rocked up, and was pretty impressed with the pizza bar. Brand new, excellent interior design, a giant kitchen behind glass. Maybe 50 different ingredients all waiting to be made into gourmet pizza while you wait. There was a crew of highly trained pizza technicians in identical uniforms, ready to leap into action, like a Formula One pit crew. All good!

I met the marketing person, Carrie, and then met the other guests.

Which is when I had the first of several shocks.

First, I discovered that I was in the company of several other bloggers – but I was the only one who was NOT a food blogger.

I mention this because, while I enjoy experimenting with recipes at home, my audience is my kids and my husband, who don’t have the most demanding of culinary needs. But food bloggers are critics with the passion of religious extremists. I love food, but for these guys, food is their WHOLE life.

I was waaaaay out of my depth in this company. The foodies were Conor, Lori, Carven and Devan.

Second shock of the evening – I was ridiculously over dressed for the occasion. When I was getting ready to go out, I must have sub-consciously thought I was going to a fashion event. So, instead of looking street-chic smart-casual, I looked like I had gotten lost on the way to a cocktail party in an expensive bar. Damn!

So there I was, in a pizza bar – a really new, shiny one, but a pizza bar nonetheless, with hungry food bloggers who were wearing jeans and sneakers, and I was in high heels and too much make-up. So I had even less credibility now. Great.

The bloggers sat down, and Peter the Head Chef explained to us all the cool things about the way “Crust” do pizza.

crust_peter

As he made the pizzas, including the dough, he explained how they have to put the toppings on in an exact certain way to stop the pizzas messing up the ovens, how the topping (if there are more than three) have to go on in a certain pattern to stop them mushing up, how the cheese has to be tactically deployed for structural stability, how they have gluten free pizzas, and how they have several pizzas so healthy that they have the National Heart Foundation “tick of approval”. They even have square pizzas, and deep dish pizzas. Very interesting!

And then my third shock of the evening came.

Peter divided the bloggers into teams of two, and each team was going to have to invent a pizza (including naming it) and then one of the team members would actually make the pizza – in the fully operating pizza bar! Right here. Right NOW!

Bah. I just wanted to EAT pizza. I cook at home everyday. I go out so I can get SOMEONE ELSE TO COOK FOR ME!

I was paired with Devan. There were 3 other bloggers in the room, all of whom were experts in food and cooking, and none of whom were wearing high heels. So poor guy, just his luck, he got me as his buddy.

We got to work, with 10 minutes to brainstorm our concept for a unique pizza.

We both love Thai food – and Devan is half Thai – so we decide to capture the essence of Thai culinary culture on a single pizza. But we wanted to put a creative spin on it, and instead of going with stereotypical Thai foods (like tom yum and pad thai), we went more for street Thai flavours. And so we called the pizza “The Streets of Bangkok”. I loved the name!

crust_karendevan
Behold the amazing creative chemistry between Devan and I. Poor guy!

So despite the awesome pizza name, it all went down hill after that.

Devan “suggested” that I be the chef. And I agreed.

But inside I was thinking OMG what have I got myself into! I am SO NOT dressed to make pizza! I can’t cook with a TIME LIMIT, in an industrial kitchen, in full view of the PUBLIC!! CRAP!

I put on a brave face and off we went, assembling our competing pizzas as best we could.

crust_bloggersworking

As we worked, I kept looking over at the other blogger’s pizzas, and they looked great.

The foodies seemed completely un-intimidated by the hovering presence of Head Chef Peter. But I just kept thinking that my shoes alone contravened a million health and safety rules, and I kept flicking my big hair around my head to try and keep it out of the pizza. I could have taken out someone’s eye with it. Head Chef Peter must have thought I was such a ditz.

crust_babypoo
Do these gloves go with my outfit?

I did my best, but “The Streets of Bangkok” looked more like “Little Lumps of Dog Poo in the Streets of Bangkok, with Vegetable Scraps Thrown on Top”.

crust_allwrong
Apparently I was being too stingy with the cheese.

Peter tried to help me with some advice, but I still wasn’t getting it right, so then he just sort of (politely) pushed me out of the way, and did it himself. I don’t blame him. I was not worthy of his kitchen.

Fortunately, the time came for the three pizza creations to go into the oven.

crust_paelle

When they came out, this one was judged by the pizza bar staff to be the best.

A visual delight, with subtle hints of seafood, and named “Paella”. Just what you would expect food bloggers to come up with. To my great relief, nobody mentioned “The Streets of Bangkok” ever again, and Devan and I avoided eye contact for the rest of the evening. (Only kidding!)

With the winner chosen, we were finally treated to an orgy of pizzas made by the staff at Crust. And it was sooooooo goooooood! Happy Karen! (and I even had coffee with the food bloggers later, and they were all really nice people.)

crust_karenpig
I won’t need to eat again this month.

My review of the pizza? I liked it a lot. Good value for first rate gourmet pizza.

Crust is on 502 Hay Street in Subiaco, just down from the Regal theatre, towards the train station.


Styling Carrie for the Oprah Winfrey Show – Part 4

5 November 2010

Once again, this post is part of a styling adventure, based around my reader (and now new friend!) Carrie. She is from the US and she has been selected to be one of the 300 lucky people flying to Australia with Oprah Winfrey in December.

Last week I threw together a kind of “fashion inspiration style board” to gel some ideas I had for Carrie.

This week, I’ve thrown some more outfit and wardrobe ideas at her, and she has come back to me with some responses.

It’s been such a fascinating experience for me to style someone else, and our conversation has highlighted so many issues in choosing a wardrobe, especially if you play many roles in your life.

I have since gotten to know Carrie – what she does for a living, what she does all day, where she goes when she gets dressed up, what she usually wears when she dresses up.

It turns out that Carrie has a blog! And she has offered up her side of the experience, by allowing me to publish a link to her blog – Bite Sized By Carrie.

So here are some of the major points that we have come up with so far.

Start With the Big Themes in Your Life

Most people have a theme in their life that influences the way they dress. You’ve probably heard of these styles that are often talked about: A simple and classic style, a free-spirited bohemian style, a romantic feminine and pretty style, an urban edgy-cool style, a vintage and eclectic style, a beachy and sporty style, etc.

My own secret is that, since my teens, I have been very drawn to the “rebellious” look. I have experimented with everything from gangster, goth, punk, rock and roll, heavy metal, and grunge… but now haha, it’s evolved to just elements of the “tough, rock-chick look”.

And although I don’t actually dress all-out like this, my twist on modern classics is usually with a slight, dark twist, however subtle. Interestingly, I have not in any way, ever, been drawn to the pretty-pink-princess look!

Anyway, Carrie is a mother, which is a huge theme in a woman’s life!

Generally, when women are in “mother-mode” they are practical and always on the go. For example, very rarely do you see a mother in a two-piece white suit with lace-trim attending their child’s school assembly day. Like me, Carrie spends most of her days in jeans and a t-shirt. But, when a woman comes out of mother-mode, what is their “default” style?

Also one of Carrie’s biggest passions in life is food. She runs a catering business and she just loves cooking at home, and with the kids. I found it lovely to know that she loves “food colours” such as mushrooms, deep reds, plums, burnt oranges, browns and caramels. Yum!

So it’s quite handy to start by finding a style that you are mostly drawn to, and which suits your personality.

Dress to Match Your Life (and Partner!)

Carrie mentioned that when she goes out with her husband, she prefers to dress to his style, comfortable and very casual, so that she doesn’t look like an “exotic date”. He’s already been playing dress-ups all week at work, so weekends are for relaxing and being super casual.

As Carrie and I are both ethnically Asian, I can totally relate!

In my experience, even though Asians aren’t that rare in Australia, there is this lingering racial stereotype that a slightly older white guy must be “paying by the hour” for the company of a younger Asian woman. This impression is only exaggerated if the Asian woman is overdressed compared to the guy. My husband and I have had to show people our wedding rings to convince them we are married!

So, when I go out with my husband, I like to make sure that we match in our level of style. If he’s wearing a t-shirt and jeans, you can be sure that I’m NOT wearing knee high boots, a mini skirt and a low cut top! Ha!

But since I like to dress up at any excuse, I have somewhat solved this problem by upgrading my husband’s wardrobe. I mean, I love him the way he is, and I love him even more in a slightly more stylish shirt, and maybe some “pointy” shoes (as he calls them).

It used to be that I would just lay out what I expected him to wear on the bed, but now he is so well trained that he knows not to choose a shirt and pants that both have stripes! I’m so proud!

So work out what are the events, places, occasions that you go to – Out to dinner with your partner/friends, out to watch a play, home dinner parties with friends, the occasional wedding? Does you workplace allow, or require, you to dress up?

Dress to Suit your Budget!

Carrie says in her blog: “We both have the same goal: Choosing clothes that I would actually buy, clothes that I would actually wear.”

I completely agree. This has been the biggest and trickiest goal for this styling project.

Understandably, Carrie is a little hesitant to spend hundreds of dollars on clothes that she might not have an occasion to wear, and only end up wearing once.

And I love it when people say this! I mean, who wants to flush money away pointlessly? It’s the kind of thing REAL WOMEN actually say about fashion, and something that glossy fashion magazines NEVER SAY.

The key to dressing a bit more stylishly, is buying dresses and tops are a bit pricier, higher quality, longer lasting, and more importantly, VERSATILE – so they can be worn for both day time and night time, in different mix and matches.

Learn How to Mix and Match

I whipped up a very simple examples of how to mix and match pieces with some “essential pieces” to create a “smart look” – meaning a slightly professional look.

Styling Carrie for Oprah - Outfit Ideas

It helped immensely to find that H&M had already styled the exact kind of “look” that I had in mind for Carrie, onto a real human being (although this human being is that rare sub-species – “the hot model”). Laid-flat clothes just don’t do any justice to an outfit.

Styling Carrie for Oprah - Outfit Ideas

All the pieces can be worn dressed up or dressed down.

Styling Carrie for Oprah - Outfit Ideas

Carrie also told me that she loves that I’ve chosen clothes from shops that she is comfortable with. I did that deliberately, since it is really important to go shopping for a new wardrobe with confidence as to sizing, quality, etc.

Styling Carrie for Oprah - Outfit Ideas

Her response was: She loves ALL the styles and colours! She loves that she loves it! She’s really liking the look of skinny pants and the suit jackets. And she says she’s learning an incredible amount about fashion and styling.

As am I!

I was so relieved that she liked my “style boards”. Haha, I was really nervous about her response.

And these are her kind words about my choice of shoes (shown last week) for her.

Styling Carrie for Oprah - Part 3

“Holy Crap! I could eat those shoes on the left. Those are terrific! I checked out the site and those you picked out for the style board are EXACTLY what I would have chosen… from the whole site. Are you sure this is the first time you’ve styled someone else? You know what works!!”

Yay! As you can probably tell, Carrie is not shy about telling me what she thinks.

She also mentioned that she popped into H&M, after seeing my ideas, and tried on the skinny pants that I suggested – but “apparently you need legs that don’t exist!!”. They didn’t fit her and so she’s going to try look for some in a few other shops.

Buying The Clothes

So Carrie has been actively out and about buying a few bits and pieces, based on my ideas.

Of course she’s running into fitting problems, size problems, style considerations once she’s actually wearing the clothes, and value versus costs considerations. Not to mention that she’s limited by the styles and sizes she can find in the shops. And that’s shopping for you!

So I don’t expect her to buy everything I’ve suggested.

I’ve also organized some of my favourite online shops to help Carrie experiment and build her wardrobe by supplying some garments and shoes (for free!).

These suppliers are all over the world – America, Britain, and Australia, and I adore these outlets because, even after wearing their stuff a LOT, I still find their stuff to be excellent value. So I am very happy to recommend them.

They are, in alphabetical order, Abi and Joseph, Asos.com, Betts Shoes, Birdsnest and Fashion Junkee.

Hopefully, next week, I’ll have some photos of all the clothes I’ve arranged to have sent to Carrie. Maybe even Carrie wearing some of them?

How exciting. Carrie playing dress-ups!


Styling Carrie for the Oprah Winfrey Show – Part 2

22 October 2010

Last week I revealed that I was embarking on a new project.

Carrie is an American reader of this blog, who has been selected to be one of the 300 people flying to Australia with OPRAH WINFREY in December.

carrie-styling-04

Here she is looking fun and fabulous! I love that her bed is covered with a mess of clothes – that is exactly how my bed is when I’m playing dress-ups!

Carrie asked me to help style her, hoping to increase her chances of being selected to sit on the FRONT ROW of the Oprah audience. It sounded like such a cool and fun thing to be part of!

SO. Firstly, I didn’t simply want to bombard Carrie with latest styles and trends and simply say JUST WEAR THIS, THIS, AND THAT. I wanted to get to know her, and HOW and WHY she dresses the way she does.

Getting To Know Carrie
I asked Carrie to rummage through her wardrobe, put on a few of her favourite outfits, and get someone to take photos of her.

Instead she chose to rearrange her bedroom, prop up a huge mirror…and took the photos herself! In the same style as I do. I thought it was utterly hilarious!

She also wrote down a few notes about each outfit, which was great.

After I saw Carrie’s photos, I also really wanted to talk to her too.

I installed Skype on my computer, and then discovered that my old clunker of a computer didn’t have a built-in microphone. Which meant I had to go out to the shops to buy a headset.

Then, as I was working out the time zone difference between Carrie’s part of America, and my part of Australia, I discovered that Carrie lives on exactly the opposite side of the Earth to me. We are exactly 12 hours apart in time. So when it is 8am TODAY for me, it is 8pm YESTERDAY for Carrie (from my point of view). It took a few days to work out our best time to Skype, but it all worked in the end!

So I have learned this much about Carrie’s personality – she is heaps of fun and is happy to laugh about herself.

These are Carrie’s photos of how she dresses now.

carrie-styling-01

Blue Dress – Carrie says she loves this dress because of the gathering at the shoulders. The length and fabric is a bit “muumuu-ish” and it so happens that she has TWO of these dresses because “all 30-somethings need 2 modern day muumuus you know?”

A  “muumuu” is an American term for a dress that has little shape, especially, no waist.

Brown Dress – “I just LOVE this dress color and style. It’s not an everyday dress, but I wish it was.”

Black Dress – “This dress is very flattering. I wear it when I am in my event manager role at work. I have to look nice, but not outshine the host or guests.”

carrie-styling-02

Black Dress – “Simple tank dress… with really cute ruffley-material-flowers on the front. It ties in the back.”

Magenta Top – She loves ruffles! Carrie wore this top to her last Oprah Winfrey show. “I LOVE this color. It’s kind of magenta meets plum, but I feel love when I see this color, this material. I just love it.”

Tee and Jeans – She lives in her jeans! “I could wear this outfit everyday! School drop offs, pick ups, running to grocery. It doesn’t draw attention, but it’s also not a jogging outfit. :) “

carrie-styling-03

Her outfit photos were dotted with silly-fun photos like these and funny captions. I get a good feeling, that Carrie wants fashion to be a pleasure in her life…as it should be.

“I like to look great, not overdone for the occasion, but almost always would rather look overdressed than under. I’m thinking that my outfits are usually 70% complete. Accessories and cute jackets, etc. are where I start to fail slightly. I do need fashion help. Style wise, I’m game for anything, really!”

My Analysis

Carrie is a very lucky lady – she has a gorgeous body, with a desirable hourglass figure and great proportions. She has a waist, hips and boobs – exactly the kind of curves I wish I had more of.  She’ll basically look great in anything!

I’ll be focusing on how to show off her waist to flatter her hourglass figure, without shouting out loud about it.

Carrie currently has a very simple and basic style, with a clear solution for each occasion. I really like that she appreciates that there are lots of occasions when you don’t want to stand out from the crowd.

I believe I was in that very same place about 5 years ago. I remember NOT being very confident about how to style an outfit. I wasn’t confident to buy expensive items, so I always bought lots of cheaper items.

Once I found something that looked good on me, I just stuck with it, bought similar items, and put outfits together using some simple and basic rules. My life was pretty busy with new babies, and practicality took precedence over “looking stylish”. But of course, my wardrobe got a bit tired after a few years, and I wanted to make a change.

So I went on a fashion journey and education – and now I’m loving the art of fashion and styling. And I’m really excited about taking Carrie along this journey too.

The Outfit Plan

I’m going to create a few outfits for Carrie. Here’s the run down of the critical themes she’ll need for the trip.

1) Outfit for the Oprah Show

2) Backup Outfit for the Oprah show (because everyone needs a backup outfit, in case you find out at short notice what you were planning was just not right for the context.)

3) Evening Wear – Going out to a nice dinner at a posh restaurant/cocktail party/reception. This could double as the back-up outfit.

4) Evening Wear – Casual, but smart.

5) Day wear – Casual, but smart.

6) Day Wear – Very casual summer wear!

I’m also going to include some travel-wear.

I have to factor in the WEATHER too. Carrie might find herself in Queensland (hot and humid), Sydney (hot and humid days, nights might be a bit cold) and Melbourne (well, anything goes for this city with 4 seasons in one day).

And I’ve got some rules. Every item has to be something that can be part of an ongoing wardrobe. (The only dress you should ever buy for only one-use only is your wedding dress!)

All the items have to be reasonably priced, relative to how often they can be worn.

Items cannot be part of a one-season style trend, because they will look like a DATE STAMP by next year.

The next step is for me to come up with some visuals to send to Carrie, for her to consider.

I’ll keep you posted!


How Glamorous, Not!- Being a Fashion Blogger

18 October 2010

I’ve had a few e-mails from readers regarding my post a couple of weeks ago about my trip to Sydney to attend the Stella McCartney for Target launch. The readers comments were all along the lines of “how lucky you are” and “how glamorous!”

Well…I won’t deny, it was very cool to attend the launch party, see some fabulous clothes, and have the opportunity to meet so many people in the fashion business.

But the actual event only took 3 hours, and I was away from home for over 48 hours.

So here is a fast summary of my other, very un-glamorous 45 hours.

Taxi to airport. Checked-in my baggage. Met up with another Perth fashion blogger going to the same event – Emma of Dropstitch. We spent 2 hours gossiping about fashion and blogging while waiting for the plane.

As we boarded the budget airliner for the 5 hour flight, I realised I was quite tired, so I tried to sleep. But I was also excited and impatient. If I had been sitting near the pilot of the plane, I would have been saying “Are we nearly there yet? Are we nearly there yet?”

I also realised that I was hungry, so I bought an economy meal from the economy airline.

sydney-target-airplanefood
Glamorous!

Emma and I finally arrived in Sydney at 10pm, and we were delivered by taxi to our very, very, VERY nice 5 STAR hotel on Sydney Harbour. In fact, my room was so perfect I was scared to sit on the bed in case I ruined how well made it was. I was like – “Is this really for me?”

It was 12am and I was really hungry. Just order room service, right? After all, the hotel has a super-chef downstairs just waiting to cook us a la carte meals.

BUT.

The FIVE STAR hotel was being paid for by Target, and the deal was that we had to pay for any FIVE STAR extras ourselves. The mini-bar had a “condoms and personal lubricant” kit that cost $18. If just two condoms can cost that much, I was sure that room service would cost at least $50.

So I rang Emma, and we went out and found an all night hot dog place.

sydney-target-harrys

We sat next to a service station on a busy road to eat them.

The hot dog was soooo yummy, and cost a lot less than two mini-bar condoms.

sydney-target-hotdog

But I admit, it was not very glamorous.

Back to the hotel room, I was so tired that I crashed into bed.

I still couldn’t sleep, because I was probably over excited. All the noises were different, the smells were different, the bed was too bouncy and big, I felt lonely, I missed my husband, and I was worried that my children could be in danger. What will the event be like? Did I pack my toothpaste? I hope I didn’t forget to take my silver earrings!  And I kept waking up from my “sleep” thinking that I missed my plane.

The next day was just a blur, especially since I hadn’t slept properly.

I decided to have a morning bath, hoping to calm myself down. But again I couldn’t relax properly, because I wanted to make the most of the day.

I took another taxi and zoomed across town to have  lunch with a friend. I had only been to Sydney twice before, very briefly, and I was keen to check out a whole range of things. But there just wasn’t enough time.

This is what Sydney’s Botanic Gardens looks like from a fast moving taxi.

sydney-target-taxi
Apparently, it is simply beautiful in there (sigh). Oh well, maybe next time.

Took another taxi after lunch.  As I was standing outside my hotel, I realised that I actually had half an hour before I needed to get ready for the launch event. So I took a short walk along the harbour.

Even though I am from Perth, a city which has a massive, beautiful river running right through it, Sydney Harbour is also pretty spectacular. For a few moments, I felt calm and content, and I wanted to get a picture of myself with the harbour in the background. I set the camera up exactly like I wanted it. I asked a random person walking by, a European guy, to take the picture, and I explained that I wanted my whole body in the picture.

As he was framing me up, I noticed he reset the zoom completely. When he showed me the picture, I was just head and shoulders with some trees in the background, and I could have been anywhere on planet Earth that had trees. He offered to take the picture again, and I reset the zoom, and asked him to make sure that all of me was in the frame. So he immediately played with the zoom again, and I just knew he was going to get it wrong. And he did. So the third time, I carefully explained to him that he didn’t need to adjust the zoom, and I pointed to my shoes, and said that I wanted them in the frame as well.

He played with the zoom AGAIN, and took another picture. I thanked him, took my camera, and headed back to the hotel. Here is the picture.

sydney-target-portrait

He completely missed my shoes. Arghh! At least it looks like I’m in Sydney in this photo. My smile is completely fake. I was so irritated with the guy.

Back at the hotel – shower, make-up, get dressed.

sydney-target-bathroom

I don’t usually like to use products provided by the hotel. Not to mention, you can never tell which item are not complimentary. Thus the sinktop was totally covered with all my girlie crap. I was not looking forward to packing it all up again later.

Since the location for the event was a WATERSIDE MANSION, I thought it would be super fun to catch a water taxi to the event, not to mention, give us the opportunity to take some awesome photos of the harbour at sunset! So I organised for all the other bloggers, who were also going to the event, to meet up at the hotel so we could catch a water taxi together!

I imagined that the water taxi would pull up to a set of steps leading down to the water, and that we would all simply step onto the boat like royal princesses.

But no. Five of us, all girls, had to STEP BACKWARDS down a step ladder, like in a swimming pool, to get to the boat. So down we went, one at a time, very, very carefully. Thankfully, I was wearing full-soled platforms, but most of the other fashion bloggers were wearing high heels. Oh how glamorous!

sydney-target-stepladder

Notice in the background, a handbag, which we had to hand down to the driver, which he placed precariously on the very edge of the bobbing boat, ready to spill all the camera gear into the harbour!

The party was fun, and fabulous and glamorous, and the clothes were great. I met celebrities, and chatted to heaps of people. All good. The party ended.

But rather than limousines to whisk us away from the mansion, we had to queue for normal taxis that seemed to take forever to arrive on a cool Friday night. Not so glamorous! My feet were killing me!

My deal with Target was that I could say whatever I liked about the event and the clothes, but I had to agree to submit whatever I wrote by midday the next day!

Since I was flying back to Perth early the next morning, I had to write up my story immediately after the event.

So while all the models and other beautiful people were off at the inevitable fashion after-event party having wild sex and snorting cocaine with rock stars, I was headed back to my hotel room.

(NOTE: I have never actually been to a fashion after party. In fact, I’ve never met anyone who has ever claimed to be at one of these legendary parties. And I have no evidence that they even happen. But I am absolutely sure that’s what they are all doing, after every fashion event. Lifestyles of the rich and famous, right?!)

As soon as I got back to my room, I called my husband in Perth. I wanted to gush about the event, but he just wanted to know where I kept the spare nappies and how to get poo stains out of the couch covers.

It was like hitting a brick wall of reality for me, and I was suddenly very, very tired.

But I still had to write up the story.

sydney-target-shagging

So this was me, exhausted, alone, in a huge, luxury bed with four different kinds of pillows and silk sheets, trying to do my homework.

But then I realised I was not completely alone.

I head the noise of two voices coming through the wall behind me, from the room next door. After a few minutes, the noise changed, and it quickly becomes obvious that the room next door was the honeymoon suite, and a just-married couple were making good use of their $18 condom kit.

The man must have been an athlete, because he had a LOT of stamina, and the woman was probably an actress, because she was very, very expressive – with no vocal inhibitions. It went on for a LOOOOOOOONG time, and there was a lot of sounds of furniture thumping against the walls, and it ALL MADE IT VERY HARD FOR ME TO CONCENTRATE on finishing my homework.

It was totally like a scene in a comedy movie. I was sitting there, with the noise and thumping going on, and I’m rolling my eyes going, FOR GOODNESS SAKE JUST FINISH ALREADY!!!

Oh, the glamour!!

And again I hardly slept, because I was so scared of oversleeping and missing my morning flight home.

As I checkout out the next morning, the hotel handed me a bill.

sydney-target-bill

They had got me with the phone call I made to my husband. I slapped my head with my hand as I realised I had used the hotel’s landline rather than my mobile phone. ARGH!!

Taxi to the airport. Check-in. Expensive and not very nice airport breakfast.

I was so looking forward to sleep on the economy flight home.

But, I found that I was on the same flight as the Australian Youth Choir, who were doing free recitals for the whole plane. They were heavenly, their combined voices transcending the merely human – but I didn’t give a damn, I just wanted to sleep.

sydney-target-choir

This finally finished, and as they went back to their seats, I realised their seats were dotted all around me, and when these kids were not singing like angels, they were just a bunch of bratty, snotty nosed teenagers, talking, gossiping, jumping, laughing, and kicking the back of my seat.

Did I mention there were a few crying babies on the same flight? I love babies, and I always feel bad for parents when their babies cry during a flight. So I shall refrain from complaining. But it was awful!

So I couldn’t sleep, and I reluctantly decided to buy a $9 movie to watch. It was “Eclipse” from the Twilight series. I had resolved never, ever to watch any of this trashy romance rubbish, but I was emotionally vulnerable and weak willed.

sydney-target-eclipse

Now, I’m hooked. I want to see all the movies, read all the novels, become facebook friends with Robert Pattinson, and change all my background wallpapers to that warewolf guy.

And when I got home (in yet another taxi), I discovered that my husband and three children were still wearing exactly the same clothes as they had been when I left home two nights before!

(But I slept like a baby that night. As Dorothy said – There’s no place like home).


Styling Carrie for the Oprah Winfrey Show

11 October 2010

Everyone, meet Carrie.

Carrie

She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA, and is one of about three hundred million Americans.  She is married with two young daughters, she is really into food, and part-time, she runs a catering business.

So, pretty normal stuff, right?

But Carrie is a ONE IN A MILLION LADY.

Only 300 of those 300,000,000 Americans are going to be flown to Australia in December, free of charge, to be in the audience when the Oprah Winfrey Show is held at the Sydney Opera House, as part of the last season of the show that has made Oprah Winfrey one of the most famous people of our time.

Oprah Winfrey Show

And Carrie is one of those lucky 300 people!

Anyway, Carrie emailed me last week. She told me she has been reading my blog for a couple of years.

And then she asked me if I would give her styling advice for what to wear to the Oprah Winfrey Show!

And I said YES.

I said yes for three reasons.

First, I think it is so cool that one of my readers, who is on the opposite  side of the world, has been given the chance to be part of the end of the chat show that has been so influential in English speaking popular culture. Amazing things can happen to ordinary people!

Secondly, I can really relate to Carrie’s life.  Although she is American, and I am Australian, we are similar ages, have similar aged kids, and both are fortunate to live in countries with really high standards of living.

Thirdly, I have never styled anyone other than myself. The only exception to this is when I styled my little sister. I was 11 and she was 7 (It took months for the glue to grow out of her hair).

So. If you are an fan of Oprah Winfrey, what is better than being in the audience?

Well, being FRONT ROW in the audience!

Apparently, your chances of getting into the front row are better if you are very “well presented” and “camera ready”. So Carrie wants to be styled really well.

I suspect that Carrie has reached a certain point in her life, as I have. She has had children, they are growing up fast, and Carrie is still a young woman. After years of intensive caring for babies and toddlers, the kids head off to school and make their own friends, and a mother has a little time to consider her own needs again.

Now it’s time for a freshen up, and perhaps a little style make-over? Well, that’s certainly where I have found myself in my own life.

So, over the next few weeks, I’ll be getting to know Carrie better, how she dresses now, and how I can help improve her chances of getting to the FRONT ROW WITH OPRAH!

Carrie and I will be doing this via email, Facebook, and Skype, and I’ll keep you updated as to how we go!

(I’m pretty excited about this! I hope this works out better for Carrie than it did for my little sister!)


Sprung

30 September 2010

flower-littleorchid

In Australia, spring officially starts on the first of September, but the actual weather didn’t change then.

It happened, all of a sudden, one day last week.

Perth has had the driest winter on record, or something like that, and so it has been dry for weeks – a cold, mean dry.

But now, the ants are back to digging up the sand under the driveway. Dandylions explode in the slightest breeze. Midgies swarm in the park at sunset. The mid-day sun has that strong-but-gentle warmth where you just want to turn your back to it, and let it melt your spine.

And flowers bloom in a reproductive frenzy, seducing photographers and insects alike.

I have promised myself time and time again not to publish pictures of flowers on my blog…but this year, sorry, I couldn’t help but celebrate the warmer weather with an image from right outside my kitchen window.

And hey, if you are in the northern hemisphere, it’s autumn, right? So you need some pictures of spring flowers!


The Fashion Pack and Pink Aliens at Perth Fashion Festival

24 September 2010

Excuse me while I have an uncontrolled gush of fashion-ness.Perth Fashion Festival 2010

Hey! Look! I’m on the front row, wearing Aurelio Costarella, and I LOOK PINK!! I am a happy fashion girl!

Last week I attended a number of  Perth Fashion Festival events and had a fab time looking at cool clothes, taking photos, going to parties and catching up with the Perth fashion pack. Yes, it was all very glamorous and exciting and fun – and tiring.

Perth Fashion Festival 2010
Me sitting front row with Teagan Sewell (left) who recently won a WA Fashion Award for her work as a stylist, and Pip Christmass, Fashion Editor for The West Australian (centre).

Perth Fashion Festival 2010

This is me partying with Scott from Out in Perth, Lisa Chau designer of Generics Accessories and co-founder of Merge Clothing, Emma Bergmeier, fashion editor of Xpress Magazine and fabulous fashion blogger from Dropstich. Here, we are all sunset golden in colour.

Perth Fashion Festival 2010

Fashion designer Poppy Lissiman (who has an incredible collection of dresses this season!), me and Lisa. Purple this time.

Perth Fashion Festival 2010

Short Me with TALL designer Garth Cook and normal height designer Alison Cotton of Joveeba.

This photo by Songy Knox from Style Discovery, who I also got to catch up with!

Perth Fashion Festival 2010

Me with designer Kym Ellery of Ellery. Purple again, and a little blurry.

There were so, so many other people – designers, media people, boutique owners, photographers, and general cool, fun people that I caught up with and partied with over the week – but I just didn’t get photos!

Like fashion designer Timothy Godbold, Alvin Fernandez from Aelkemi, Kirsten Shadbolt from Paper Skye, jewellery designer Alister Yiap, fashion designer Leanne Lim, fashion photographer Romain Duquesne, fashion designer Sheree Dornan, Zoë Trotman of Lonely 8 Bit Heroes, fashion designer Daniella Caputi, Claire Davies fashion editor for Sunday Times, , Mariella Harvey-Hanrahan director of the Perth Fashion Festival, blogger Marcia Ball, stylist Hannah McGrath, Connor and Romina from Zekka, Mark and Marie from Head Studio, and fashion boutique owner Zara Bryson.

Perth Fashion Festival 2010

But of course, it is all about the CLOTHES, right? So aside from all the socialising, I saw some great fashion from Perth designers – and I’m so, so excited and proud of their work. I hope to be doing some reviews over the next few months to show off their clothes.

The pics above were taken by Stefan Gosatti, during the last fashion show for the festival.

On the left, is a PINK ALIEN modeling an outfit by Jaime Lee Major.

In the middle, is a hot beachy outfit by rocking label Joveeba.

On the right, is the Paper Skye Spring/Summer Collection by the gorgeous Kirsten Shadbolt.

It was a great week!!

(And I am still soooo tired!)


AVANT-GARDE PERTH 2010 SHOW

17 September 2010

Last week I attended a very amazing fashion show by the creative forces behind Perth boutiques Zekka, Dilettante and hair salon Head Studio.

avant-garde07

It was a much anticipated show in the Perth Fashion community, partly because it was very, very clear that it was going to be unashamedly ARTY.

The title said it all (AVANT GARDE – the “leading edge” in creative terms), but also, the images for the pre-show catalogue were dominated by dramatic high contrast black and white images of gaunt models with theatrical level make-up and hair, embodying the extreme edge of angsty Euro-chic.

In addition, the venue was a long way from a standard catwalk – being in an ancient, giant, wooden floored gallery in the spectacular grounds of the University of Western Australia.

To be honest, I was a little nervous about what I was going to wear. I usually try and avoid following the obvious, but I also don’t like to stand out too much.

When I arrived for pre-show drinks, the foyer was already full, and I had guessed right.

It was like walking into an arty Scandinavian architects convention, in a gothic nightclub, in the 1980’s ”New Romantic” period. Honestly, ninety-five percent of everybody there was wearing BLACK. Black tops, bottoms, accessories, coats, hats, glasses, stockings, socks and, probably, black underwear.

Only three or four women wore something not black, and the question was – were they incredibly brave, or did they just not understand the dress code?

avantgarde2010_dress
This is what I wore. A new, gorgeous black sheer lace dress that I recently acquired. It is definitely stylistically out of keeping with the theme of the show – it is romantic lace, sheer, with a hint of currently “on-trend” nude in the slip. But it IS still essentially BLACK.

After chatting and people watching, we were ushered into the hall, which was like being led into the dinning room of Harry Potter’s school. I was delighted to discover that I was seated right at the end of “the walk”. The black tape on the floor (that tells the models where to turn) was right at my feet. Excellent! The best seats in the house I reckon!

I started fussing about with my camera, and hoped that the lights would go up when the show started, since I had forgotten to bring either my really fast lens, or a tripod, so I was going to need a LOT of light to get clean, sharp pics. I never use the flash.

But the lights went DOWN when the show started, just to emphasis the “noir” tone of the whole affair. It was as dark as a cave. Or a seedy night club. Oh well! I blasted away with my camera and took a lot of very blurry images, but also a few that I really, really liked.

avant-garde08

(In this image, my camera’s shutter speed was so slow that it captured TWO flashes from OTHER photographer’s cameras, producing the blue double image of the model crossing in front! Cool! I love lucky, beautiful accidents.)

Even though it happened mostly in the dark, the show was true to its promise.

It included a giant organ solo, a solo by a violin player who was IN the show, hair styling in front of the audience, and a great selection of men’s and women’s clothes – which were really well styled into the show. The models used the whole of the space, meaning that almost everyone in the audience was much closer to the clothes than if they had been at a conventional show.

The clothes were actually a lot less black than what the audience was wearing. We saw a strong uber-cool Euro sophistication, with definite 1980s post-Punk references, but updated with a mix of drapey layers, metallics and edgy details.

All the clothes were beautiful and sophisticated (often weirdly so), but these particular pieces really caught my eye – and so I hope to be off to Dilettante to test their wearability very soon.

avant-garde04

These professional fashion photography images are by Songy Knox, a fellow fashion blogger who, unlike me, always remembers to bring all her equipment. You can check out her excellent fashion photography at her Style Discovery blog. Thanks Songy!

Being at a show like this makes you feel you are hanging out with the cool gang. People who really appreciate exquisite, beautiful design that is hard to create. So I always leave feeling I’m part of a sophisticated crowd for whom elegance and grace is very important.

But then something always brings me back to earth. When I got home, I discovered that there was something stuck to the bottom of my shoe.

avant-garde05

Something so completely out of place from the elite, dark and sophisticated world of Avante Garde. It was garishly multi-coloured. In vulgar primary colours.

avant-garde06
It was a cut-out motorcycle sticker, and a letter “C” sticker, stuck to my shoe. Craft scraps from my children’s school assignments.

And they had been stuck there the WHOLE EVENING!!!

OHHHH! How UNCOOL!!

I hope nobody noticed!!!


Vodka and Caffeine

14 September 2010

The other evening I went to a special event held at Bar 399 to promote Silvana Coffee.

It was a media “mingling” event – lots of marketing people, journalists and bloggers packed into a small, warm bar on a cold winter’s night with live music, great food, booze and coffee. It was a very cool, cosy atmosphere.

Naturally, the theme was cocktails made with Silvana Coffee.

espresso-martini01

And this is where it got dangerous.

Two barmen were putting on this fabulous show of making various kinds of cocktails. It was very impressive to see them spinning bottles and setting things on fire. The drinks were stacking up on the bar, free for anyone to have. And they looked amazing (the drinks that is, although the barmen were quite ok too).

So I picked up an espresso martini.

I chatted with the bar men, and as a wannabe foodie, I was really interested to know what goes into such a creation. After teasing me that the ingredients were a closely guarded corporate secret, they did actually tell me.

And I would love to tell you what they told me. But I can’t remember.

You see, I gave up drinking coffee years ago, and I have never been able to drink more than a few sips of alcohol in my whole life. When I get drunk, I don’t even get to “bad behaviour”. I just start vomiting.

So about 30 seconds after I started sipping an amazing espresso martini, both the caffeine and the alcohol slammed into my unprepared brain.

Alcohol sloooooow doooooown, and caffeine ACCELERATION – at the same time!

And it was GREAT! Suddenly, I didn’t care about taking photos anymore. I didn’t care about what I said, or who I spoke to, or anything! I was just very giggly and buzzy.

espresso-martini02

These pictures of me in a blissful state of neurological confusion were taken by fellow blogger Matt, of the excellent and serious food blog Abstract Gourmet. His photos of me are very sharp, but don’t be fooled, inside, I was totally out of focus.

Luckily, I had taken my favourite accessory along – my husband – and as a one time very experienced drinker, he saw the warning signs. He confiscated my drink, and gave me food and water instead.

Thus, my little walk-on-the-wild-side only lasted for an hour or so, and I was none the worse by the end of a pleasant evening.

I shall have to be more careful next time.

But DAMN the cocktails tasted GOOOOOD!


My Awful Love Affair with Chocolate

8 September 2010

My occasional sponsors Nuffnang asked me if I would write about Cadbury chocolate bars. Hmmm, let’s see, they’re offering to sponsor me to try out a new chocolate bar from one of the world’s most famous makers of chocolate, and then honestly tell my readers what I think of it – HELL YES!

But before I talk about the chocolate bar, I want to talk about my complicated relationship with chocolate. It’s a bit embarrassing, because it’s so clichéd.

Like most women, I love chocolate. And, well, it’s easy to love – it’s sweet, creamy, smooth, velvety, and turns into warm, melted, softness on your tongue. It’s everything a girl wants.

I have a stash of chocolate in my fridge. It is a wall. A towering wall of partly eaten chocolate bars that block out the light in the fridge.

And I’ll try any kind of chocolate. Milk. Dark. Light. White. Dripping caramel. Crunchy wafer. Honey comb. Roasted nuts. Cookie crumble. Fruit. Alcohol. Truffles. Cream. Coconut. Orange. Lemon. Mint. Biscuits. Chilli. Salt. And deep-fried chocolate! You name it, I’ve eaten it!

But I hate it as well.

It gives me acne, it makes my skin dull, it makes my teeth hurt and my gums sore. It makes my energy levels spike and fall dramatically, and then I have an energy crash and need more chocolate to fix it. I wished I wasn’t so addicted to it.

I go in circles with chocolate. It’s a love-hate relationship.

Some days I stay far, far away from it.

Then other days I eat so much of it, there may as well be an intravenous tube of the stuff dripping straight into my system.

In fact, I think my female hormones are chemically dependent on chocolate.

My passion for chocolate used to make my boyfriends feel inadequate. My husband and I sustain a relationship only because we have “an arrangement”, in which he goes out to buy chocolate for me when I am moody.

I tell him EXACTLY WHAT KIND I WANT, but he is well trained enough to know I may have changed my mood before he gets back, so he buys several different types I can choose from. And that is how I like it.

I understand my addiction and I manage it well.

I need to eat the particular chocolate that corresponds with my mood and circumstances.

It’s a fine balance. A delicate art. Like medication.

It takes years to perfect the precise equilibrium of the–right-kind-of-chocolate-to-hormone-ratio to achieve and maintain stability.

And these are my chocolate-mood categories:

Chocolate On The Run.
Simple, innocent blobs of milk chocolate that you can grab easily and throw in your mouth. Enough said.

Pick Me Up Chocolate.
These are great for low days. When I’m feeling a little sluggish and down in the dumps. I need a jolt of sugar. But only something light. Chocolate with bubbles, chocolate flakes, or chocolate covered wafers.

Chocolate for Chilling Out.
For those few moments in the day, where I sit down with a cup of tea and put my feet up, I like to have chocolate with caramel.

Reward Chocolate.
Chocolate, just because. I’m special and I deserve to have triple-coated, double layered chocolate, with nuts and caramel and wafer and EVERYTHING… whenever I feel like it thank you very much.

Non-Chocolate Chocolate.
When I crave something sweet and creamy, but not chocolate – the answer is WHITE chocolate.

Depression Chocolate.
The most important kind of chocolate. When, let’s face it, I feel like crap, everything in my life is going wrong, and nothing in the world can make me feel better. So I eat DARK, DARK chocolate, to celebrate the deepness of the depression.

Anyway the purpose for this post was for me to introduce a new range of Cadbury chocolate.

I almost feel bad, being sponsored to introduce you to something that is already on the shelves of practically every supermarket and convenience store in Australia (and probably the whole world) that you will undoubtedly find out about anyway – unless you never, ever eat chocolate. But here goes.

The range is called Bar of Plenty and there are two flavours -

Cadbury Bar of Plenty

Oven Roasted Hazelnut with Honey Cashews
I was quite impressed by how they manage to pack in so many nuts into this chocolate block, because the bar doesn’t fall to bits when you pick it up.

Those cashews are pretty damn tasty – you can taste the roasted honey flavour and it’s lovely. It’s not heavy and overly rich. It has substance, but it’s still “light” – meaning, you can eat a lot of the stuff and NOT feel sick!

Cadbury Bar of Plenty

Summer Berries and Crunchy Vanilla Shortcake
This bar is AMAZING. It was my favourite. I don’t usually like fruit (sultanas or cherries) in my chocolate, but THESE berries are really, really nice.

The shortcake is like crunchy shortbread, and again, they have packed it in – it’s so, so yummy.

By the way, I hope you appreciate my chocolate-porn pictures. I took them with a new lens for my DSLR camera! And I was very excited indeed.

SO. These Bar of Plenty Chocolates definitely fit into my REWARD CHOCOLATE category – and heck I’ve been rewarding myself everyday since they’ve arrived in the mail. Because I’m that special dammit.

Giveaway!
Nuffnang would love to send one of my readers Cadbury chocolate to the value of $50. And who doesn’t want free chocolate in their letterbox?

Just email me at karen@karencheng.com.au :
1) Your name
2) Your email
3) Answer this question – Why are you in love with chocolate?

I’ll be choosing the most creative answer!
You have to be over 14, and residing in Australia.
Competition ends 5pm AEST on 20 September 2010.
Please read all the Terms & Conditions.

And if you go to the Cadbury Bar of Plenty website, you can enter another competition to win some pretty cool looking prizes. Good luck!


Look At Those Cheekbones! – AVANT GARDE 2010

4 September 2010

Avant Garde 2010

This year I’ve made a decision to reduce the number of fashion shows I attend, due to my growing business and family commitments – which is a nice way of saying, I’m super busy with my blog and my kids!

But one show I am definitely finding time to attend is a new event called AVANT GARDE, and I thought I’d share some details about it.

AVANT GARDE is a collaboration by three renowned boutiques in Perth, Dilettante and Zekka, and hair salon Head Studio.

It is an inaugural event, and as its name suggests, it will be celebrating creative vision, directional style and legendary designers, who were at the very cutting edge of fashion in their time.

As you can see from the dramatic photograph above (check out those cheekbones!), it’s about pushing the boundaries in all areas – clothes, accessories, make-up, hair styling, and even the photography that it is communicated by.

What I love about edgy fashion-art is that, while I certainly won’t be sculpting myself to this exact look, these expressions provide such a rich menu of stuff to choose from, as well as also being weirdly beautiful AND masterfully created at the same time. There is a lot to like!

AVANT GARDE has  a line up of big name fashion designers such as Vivienne Westwood, Rick Owens, Gareth Pugh, Damir Doma and more – striving to be the most innovative show in this year’s Perth fashion calendar.

Hence I’ll definitely be there to check it out and enjoy the show, which is held in the very beautiful grounds of the University of Western Australia.

I’ve heard there are still tickets available at $120 per person, check out the AVANT GARDE website for more details.

6:30pm
Tuesday, 7th September 2010
Winthrop Hall, UWA
35 Stirling Hwy, Nedlands

For those who won’t be able to make it, you have to check out these two boutiques! They really are some of Perth’s finest boutiques, and absolutely worth a visit.

DILETTANTE
575 Wellington Street (Corner of King St)
Perth, Western Australia 6000
Tel: +618 9322 2717

ZEKKA
74-76 King Street
Perth, Western Australia 6000
Tel: +618 9481 1772

(Zekka also has a very cool café attached to it!)

HEAD STUDIO
64 King St
Perth, Western Australia 6000
Tel: +618 9481 6464

As I mentioned earlier, Head Studio is a hair salon, where I had an amazing hair cut and wrote a review about it here. Since then, they’ve won a gazillion awards.


Press Feature: The West Australian – In The Bag

20 August 2010

The West Australian - In the Bag (Small)

(click here to view larger version)

A few weeks ago I was featured in The West Australian Newspaper, in a beauty feature about winter skin care, along with 2 other Perth personalities, Carly Paiker (jewellery designer) and Jessica Gomes (model).

This is what my bit says:

Karen Cheng, Award-winning blogger of Snippets of Life at www.karencheng.com.au. Cheng writes about lifestyle and fashion while juggling family commitments.

It’s important to protect your skin from UV rays, even in the winter and I like Mecca To save Face SPF30+; it’s weightless, non-greasy and feels great on my skin.

For my hands I use L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream. I love the smell and the moisture boost.

Jurlique Purely Age-Defying Eye Cream is wonderful. It reduces puffiness around the eye and smells lovely.

If my skin is in need of a boost, I put a few drops of Trilogy Certified Organic Rosehip Oil on my face at night. I love the feeling of my skin the next morning.

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence and SK-II Skin Signature Moisturising Cream are also great for perking up your skin. After a few days my skin always feels smooth and radiant.

Before going out I use Napoleon Perdis Auto Pilot Pre-Foundation Skin Primer – it makes my foundation sit and look amazing.

I also love Burt’s Bees Lip Balm – makes my lips soft and kissable – and Bobbi Brown SPF15 Tinted Moisturiser.

Big thanks for Maya for writing it up, and Pia for scanning the article!


Panasonic Lumix G2 Digital Camera Review (and Giveaway!)

11 August 2010

Sponsored by both Panasonic and Nuffnang, I was given the opportunity to test out the new Panasonic Lumix G2.

Panasonic Lumix G2

I figured that, although I am obviously NOT a serious camera reviewer, I would be a good candidate for sharing my views on the use of digital cameras, because I take photos – almost everyday – of a HUGE range of different subject matters: fashion, food, children, landscapes, events, macro details of nature and self portraits.

So I really consider and care about the usability of cameras.

I already have TWO cameras that I use everyday, and I am very happy with them.
- A point and shoot Canon Powershot A700 (4 years old)
- A Digital SLR Nikon D90, with 2 lens.

But they are both a few years old now. So as I tested out the LUMIX G2 I had several questions, including: what is new in the world of upmarket cameras?

To find out, I carried the LUMIX G2 with me for a week (and I get to keep it in the end!).

What kind of camera is it?
I believe this camera sits BETWEEN a compact point-and-shoot camera and a fully professional style DSLR – AND it shoots really good video.

Why should you buy it?
If you want a best of three worlds –
1) a point and shoot with lots of super easy automatic settings,
2) full manual options for taking interesting and creative photography
3) shoot high quality video

Photo from Panasonic LUMIX G2

Photo: This is me riding my castor board, with the camera in my hand, doing some fancy-shmancy creative photography.

I deliberately made the background blur by manually setting the shutter speed to very low – about 1/8th of a second. And I didn’t even fall off the board!

What are it’s best features?
Personally, I found these to be the best features of the Lumix G2:

1) A Touch Screen
The LUMIX G2 is apparently the first camera (with interchangeable lens) to have a touch-sensitive screen, with the screen on a swivel mount too.

Photo from Panasonic LUMIX G2
Photo: I swiveled the screen around and used it to take some self portraits.

You can swipe the screen with your finger and scroll through your photos like an iphone.

You can tap to zoom in on the photo, then scroll around with your finger. It was very easy to use, but at times the functions were a bit inconsistent eg: you can use your fingers iphone style to zoom in on a picture, but you have to select another button with your finger to zoom out.

When taking a photo, you can point on the screen exactly where you want to focus. Then tap on the screen to take the photo.

You can also adjust all the camera settings using the touch screen – ISO, exposure, white balance etc.

2) Interchangeable Lenses
You can change the camera lens to increase the zoom range, or to use a faster lens. This is great if you want to do more creative photography.

The default lens (14 – 42mm) gives nice wide shots, but it’s not a great zoom lens. You won’t use it to capture a bird in the air or a squirrel in a tree. You’ll need the 42 – 200mm, which will cost an extra $300, if you buy the whole camera and twin lens kit.

It is obvious that the default lens was chosen to be lighter and more compact that a DSLR – which makes it more convenient to carry around.

Photo from Panasonic LUMIX G2

Caption: A lovely photo of my apple berry dessert. I would have liked to get even more of a close up, but the lens does not allow for amazing macro photography. I’ll need to change to a macro lens.

3) Great Video Quality
Because it does at least an hour of high quality video with an 8GB memory card, I suspect I’ll be carrying it around quite a lot! It will replace our 8 year old DV camera nicely.

4) Lifestyle and Automatic Functions
I found a WHOLE BUNCH of automatic settings that I quite liked.
Scene – Sunset, Party, Baby 1, Baby 2, Pets and Peripheral Defocus.
Portrait – Normal, Soft Skin, Outdoor, Indoor, Creative.
Landscape – Normal, Nature, Architecture, Creative.
Sports – Normal, Outdoor, Indoor, Creative.
Close Up – Flower, Food, Objects, Creative
Night – Portrait, Scenery, Illuminations, Creative

OR you can just click the Intelligent Auto button at the top (although we kept calling it the Stupid Button) and the camera works out EVERYTHING – exposure, shutter speed, aperture, depth of field, best focal range – automatically. It’s actually quite cool and very handy when you’re on the go.

Photo from Panasonic LUMIX G2

Photo: I just chose “Scene > Sunset” to take this photo over my house. Beeeeautiful!

5) Face recognition and focus tracking
I quite liked these functions. They are excellent when you have kids or pets that don’t sit still.

You can register faces, that the camera will recognise, and where ever that face is in the frame, the camera will make sure that the focus, exposure and settings are perfect for that particular face. Quite cool.

Also you can choose what you want to focus on, face or object, and the camera will track the object if it moves, or if you move.

Summary
Instant point-and-shoot, manual control over everything, and high quality video.

If you are a beginner photographer, and you’re looking for a single camera that does all three things – you should definitely consider this camera!

Win a Panasonic LUMIX G2!
Panasonic and Nuffnang are giving away a Lumix G2 with the 14-42mm lens, worth $1299, to a lucky reader.

To Enter
Email me at karen@karencheng.com.au
1) your name
2) your email address
3) answer this question: How would the Lumix G2 make you a better photographer?

This competition is only open for Australian residents over 14 years. Competition ends 11:59 pm AEDST 3 September 2010.

Visit The Nuffnang website for the full terms and conditions.


Sportsgirl Fashion Blogger Challenge: 1 Dress, 2 Outfits

6 August 2010

Sportsgirl Fashion Blogger Challenge

A few weeks ago, the online team at Sportsgirl asked me whether I’d like to be featured on their blog and participate in a fashion challenge – I said sure!!

They sent over a dress and when I opened the package, I went – ARGH I HATE FLORAL!

My results were published on their Sportsgirl Blog, along with outfits from two other Australian fashion bloggers. Check it out!

Basically I was trying to play down the DELICATE, FEMININE FLORAL print, by mixing the dress with “tough chick” items, and then “boyfriend style” items.

First Outfit
Dress: Candice Tunic Dress from Sportsgirl
Jacket: Tuxedo Style Blazer from Cue
Shoes: Over the Knee Boots from Betts
Belt: Leather Studded Belt from Warehouse London

Second Outfit (worn as a top)
Top: Candice Tunic Dress from Sportsgirl
Jacket: Rayon Twill Blazer from AL&ALICIA
Shorts: Boy Washed Shorts from AL&ALICIA
Shoes: Suede Heeled Lace Ups from Betts

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


Mattel Learning Camera for Toddlers

11 June 2010

My advertising sponsors, Nuffnang and Mattel, send me kids toys every now and again. Sometimes I review them… and use the money to help cover my addiction to clothes, chocolate, and the occasional lens purchase for my Nikon DSLR.

The most recent toy is a Learning Camera. I smirked and thought – now isn’t that just so very fitting for me and my crazy little family, because we are obsessed with cameras!

Some of cameras from our camera collection

My husband is a camera enthusiast from way back, so he has lots of old cameras. I own quite a few cameras too. And being a veteran blogger, I never leave the house without one! So yes, we take lots of photos. So much so, my poor kids think that it is completely normal to go around photographing EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME.

As you can see, we have an embarrassing accumulation of cameras! We have a few old school 35 mm cameras, a 16mm movie camera, various digital cameras. And in the top left, check out the 1940 Brownie Reflex and the 1946 Six-20 Brownie C!

But I am sure you can see that one camera stands out – the Mattel Learning Camera, which is the one that looks like a plastic toy. When I unwrapped the “camera”, I immediately checked to see if it had a USB port, how fast the lens was, and how many megapixels it was – because, you know, I’m a camera geek.

I was confused, and initially disappointed, to discover that the camera has no USB port, no lens, and exactly zero megapixels. Oh I get it…it’s not an actual camera. It’s a cute little toy in a camera theme.

After I got over my own excitement and disappointment about (not) having a BRAND NEW CAMERA IN THE HOUSE… and thought about this like a mother, I realized that any real camera function would have been a waste for a kids toy – it would just never survive day one.

So I let my 1 year old son Liam take over the review process. Like all kids, he is a harsh judge of toys.

Liam and a Learning Camera

This is him going LOR LOR LOR LOR LOR LOR to the music – with a magic sparkle in his eyes. He loved it. So it works.

I’m relieved to tell you that the Learning Camera is one of those indestructible toys that you can give to a toddler in the car, or pram, or in a café, and it will keep them busy for a substantial amount of time. It’s small enough to keep in a nappy bag as an emergency distraction if you get stuck in a long queue.

And when your kid gets bored with the switches and sounds, they can use it as a hammer or throwing object – and it will still work afterwards. I think of it as a cross between a rattle and a portable activity centre, and it will still be intact long after the kid has grown up and left home.

If only my real cameras were this indestructible!


Head Studio, King Street, Perth

25 May 2010

Head Studio, King Street, Perth

Last week, I took a trip into the city to get my hair done at the infamous Head Studio.

This uber-trendy salon opened its doors on fashion-oriented King Street 2 years ago, and since then, has made a huge splash in the local and national hair and fashion scene. I keep seeing their name pop up everywhere!

There is no question that the location and interior design of the studio is a big part of their fame… it is a very cool look and feel, quite unusual in Perth. Kind of vintage-romantic meets rock and roll glam, in a good way.

I had been keeping tabs of their goings-on, from the Head Studio Facebook Page, and in the mainstream media. But the actual reason I decided to pay them a visit was that three of my girlfriends (from totally separate areas of my life), go to them and RAVE ENDLESSLY about them. I can’t resist personal recommendations like that! And yes, I admit, I used my “slight blogger fame” to talk my way into a complimentary hair-do.

I spent an extraordinary 4 hours being pampered. I chatted to everyone – the directors, hair dressers, colour specialists, apprentices – and man, they were all so nice, down to earth and passionate about hairdressing. Haha, I heard everyone’s whole story and I just talked and talked and talked… about blogging, scuba diving, cycling, careers, fashion, kids, marriage… everything. Best kind of haircut experience. Ever.

Head Studio, King Street, Perth

This is me after 4 hours of cranial bliss. I had a full head of highlights, a little trim, a blow dry, and a little curl of a GHD to finish me off. I was very, very happy. I didn’t pay for this one, but I certainly would still have been happy if I had. AND I’ll definitely be back.

Head Studio
64 King St
Perth WA 6000
Phone: 08 9481 6464
Email: info@headstudio.com
Web: www.headstudio.com.au (includes prices and map)

Salon photos were taken from the website.


STYLEAID 2010 Tribe – A Preview

14 May 2010

It’s almost the time of year for STYLEAID!

STYLEAID is a fashion fundraising event for the WA AIDS Council, to help with the education, prevention, care and support of the community in Western Australia. In my own opinion, STYLEAID is also the “night of nights” in the WA fashion calender. Last year was a very impressive blast!

STYLIEAID 2010 TRIBE PREIVEW

I am so impressed with the people behind the upcoming STYLEAID event! Each year’s theme allows a fresh take on looks and styles. They released this AMAZING photo featuring a selection of WA fashion designers who are participating in the this year’s project.

The photo is actually supposed to run as one LONG continuous image, but I had to chop it up into three in order to fit in onto my blog!

This year the theme they have chose is TRIBE – a society consisting of families or communities who share a common culture and dialect.

I see so many familiar faces in this photo, people whom I have met and talked to, designers who’s work I have followed for years, and I am so proud to see them together like this! A tribe indeed!

This year the event will be held at -
Burswood Entertainment Complex
Friday, July 30, 2010 at 7pm

Ticket Prices:
VIP – $375
Diamond – $250
Platinum – $225

Tickets on sale now!

Phone number to book tickets: (08) 9482 0000

Or book online: www.styleaid.com.au

Photo Caption
Top Row:
Timothy Godbold
Model and Arj Selvam
Flannel (designer not present)
Daniel Romanin for One Fell Swoop (Nikolina Ergic not present)
Chrissie Catling for S2
United Constructions (Helen Miraudo and Jill Crabb not present)
Daniella Caputi

Middle Row:
Kooey (Nikki Silverthorne not present)
Fenella Peacock for Antipodium (Geoffrey J Finch not present)
Elisha Quintal for The Butcher and the Crow
Tane Andrews and Kira Goodey for Of Cabbages and Kings
Andrea Wolf

Bottom Row:
Zoe Trotman for Lonely 8-Bit Hero
Isobel Macaulay for Pinch and Spoon
Garth Cook
Alvin Fernandez for Ae’lkemi
Aurelio Costarella

Photo Credits -
Photographer: Oscar Chong
Models: Ashlee, Caris, Chloe, Natalie, Nicole & Christopher from Chadwick Models
Creative Director: Aly May
Styling Assistant: Chloe Spalding


Baby 3: Liam at 13 Months

12 May 2010

Liam at 13 months

We were at the beach a few weeks ago, and I took this photo of Liam as he chased after waves and got splashed by his brothers. I simply love his expression because it just captures the sheer happiness, exhilaration and uninhibited, screaming joy of being a kid.

Liam is developing a very strong personality! He wants to be like his big brothers, and when he feels that he is left out, he SCREAMS! When he wants something, he SCREAMS! If something is taken away, he SCREAMS!

I guess it’s not so much of a scream… it’s more of a LOUD frustrated, outraged complaint – EERRRRRGGGGHHHHHHH!!

But other than that, he’s a very happy kid.

As long as he can explore the outdoors, have singing and cuddle time, and a biscuit in his hand, he’s good as gold.

Liam on a Bike Ride

As I mentioned last week, I have been doing a lot of cycling with Liam. He sits in the child bike seat while I ride. And when we reach my favourite park by the river, sometimes we stop, have a stretch, play on the grass and share a snack.

Such a simple moment… and these pictures will help me remember it forever, after he’s grown up and got his own life.

It’s one of the reasons I keep blogging, I guess.


Boys and Their Tools

9 April 2010

A few weeks ago I received an email from my sponsors, Nuffnang asking whether I’d like to test out some Mattel Toys based on Disney characters.

Well, I always find it cute when kids play with the toy version of their favourite cartoon characters.

And when I was a little girl, I had 15 Care Bears and would spend HOURS AND HOURS making up imaginary adventures for them. Ah those were good times, just me and my bears.

So I said yes, and they sent over two Handy Manny toys for me (and my boys) to check out.

I admit that I’ve never seen the cartoon of Handy Manny. I knew of it’s existence. But my boys recognised him immediately and said, “He’s a Spanish Bob the Builder… and but he’s got cooler tools.”

Of course. It’s all about TOOLS for boys.

Boys and Their Tools

In my days, cartoons were filled with coyotes dropping canons on themselves, crazy rabbits and exploding shotguns, cat and mouse chases, and puppets smashing their heads on pianos.

Since having children, and being surrounded by new toys, I admit that I am very surprised by the level of research and educational design that goes into MODERN CARTOONS.

Now, cartoons are all colour coded, educational and seek to embrace ethnic variety. It’s all very progressive and clever!

Manny is Hispanic and looks like a very friendly and helpful sort of lad. The Manny Toy actually says various phrases in English and in Spanish.

And let me tell you this, his VOICE is the coolest voice and accent that I’ve ever heard on a cartoon character!

I thought that he would have an irritating squeaky voice. But no. When you press his belt buckle, his voice is very exotic to my ears and rather deep.

In fact, when I’m in another room, it sounds like there’s a SPANISH TEENAGED BOY IN MY LIVING ROOM TALKING TO MY BABY!

But I tell myself, Phew, it’s ok. It’s just Manny.

Boys and Their Tools

Both The Talking Toolbox and Manny figure are probably more suited for kids 3 – 5 years.

However, my 1 year old has already learned what hammers are for :)


Daily Outfit: How to Wear Over the Knee Boots

30 March 2010

Over The Knee BootsI finally got a pair of Over The Knee Boots!

I did a bit of research and looked everywhere for a pair. I wasn’t too keen to spend $400+ on one, nor did I want to wear yucky, plasticky $80 ones.

So these were a very excellent, middle-ground choice, for price and quality.

And they are the convertible kind, because you can flip them up and wear them VERY SKY THIGH HIGH! Or fold them down bit lower and closer to the knee.

Obviously, the boots are pretty bold, sexy and LOOK AT ME. So they are best worn with basic outfits and simple accessories.

In fact, they look great with skinny jeans, a simple top, and a nice basic jacket. Or a soft dress, leggings and the boots.

You pretty much wear them like you would normal height boots.

Of course, you can just go with the whole BOLD SEXY look, and wear a body con, mini-skirt dress and look uber hot!

There is always a place for looking uber hot…. but I have not found that place just yet, so I thought I’d show them off in a more casual, autumn outfit.

Can’t wait for the really cold weather to set in, so I can strut around with toasty warm legs :)

Outfit:
I recently bought some cute linen shorts by Chloe.
Black tank by Sass and Bide.
Cashmere cardigan by Country Road.
Scarf was a gift.
Boots were from the Betts Online Shoe Store.

And I’ve actually been featured on their new blog! Eeek! Thanks guys for the kind write up!

AND if you’re interested, you can win 1 of 20 pairs of shoes here.

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Online Fashion Shopping Directory.


Melbourne Fashion Festival: Alexi Freeman

18 March 2010

Clothes by Alexi Freeman

This weekend, the Melbourne Fashion Festival features one very dazzling, up-and-coming designer, Alexi Freeman. With a background in textiles and print making, the strength of his AW2010 collection made me do a double take and drool over his geometric prints.

I had the pleasure of reviewing some garments in the collection, and I can say for certain that they are beautifully made clothes and lovely to wear.

There is an unusual mixture of silk, merino wool and mesh panels, which create a sophisticated yet sporty, casual yet sexy feel. They are also really comfortable and light weight.

Loreal Melbourne Fashion Festival - Alexi Freeman

You can see more of Alexi Freeman’s collection on his website.

Or you can catch up on his recent activities on his blog.

Or if you’re in Melbourne, you can check out his pop-up store until 30 April 2010:
Melbourne’s GPO
Level 1
350 Bourke St
Melbourne
Tel: 0413 355 290


Designer Fashion Online: Frockaholics Boutique

16 March 2010

With the Melbourne Fashion Festival in full swing, I wanted to feature some gorgeous Australian fashion AND share where to BUY them.

Frockaholics.com is an online boutique that offers a fantastic collection of Australian and International designer labels. What I like best about the site… is their particular selection of current clothes – all gorgeous and fabulous picks.

Sarah, owner and director of Frockaholics, has actually been a long time reader of my blog! I was so excited to review the boutique, because I have often visited to check up on the latest picks from designer collections.

Designer Fashion Online: Frockaholics Boutique

So without further ado, here I am feeling sensational in a Manning Cartell Dress. It’s from her latest AW2010 collection and it will be coming down the catwalk in a few days, at the Melbourne Fashion Festival.

When I chose it, I was a little nervous, because it’s got some quite 80s elements – puffy shoulders, long sleeves, very shiny. It wasn’t quite my style, and I was afraid I might look like an astronaut!

But when I wore it, OMG it was so so comfortable, and I felt completely transformed. I felt like a million bucks and haha, it was a very fun feeling. I guess that’s what fashion is all about – transformation and a whole lota fun! It’s definitely a dress that will turn heads.

Earrings and necklace is by Peter Lang, Clutch by Pink Corporation, and shoes by Tilly Rose.

View other clothes by Manning Cartell (I really like this collection!)

Designer Fashion Online: Frockaholics Boutique

This Hussy Dress was very nice too. Basically a simple strapless dress, with boning, and with a drapey piece that you wear on your shoulder, or you can let it fall on your hips.

Earrings by Peter Lang, Jacket by Nicola Finetti, and shoes by Peeptoe.

View other clothes by Hussy.

Designer Fashion Online: Frockaholics Boutique

And lastly, I chose this beautiful black silk cocktail dress by George, with beaded detail straps that continue down the back. I thought it would look perfect with a fur coat, but I didn’t want to cover up the straps in the photo.

Earrings by Peter Lang, Mink Rabbit Fur Coat by Flannel, and shoes by Nude.

In my opinion, the best sections in the site to browse are:

What’s New (they update every week)

Evening Dresses

Jackets

SALE Evening Dresses (must see this!)

SALE Day Dresses

Pre-Orders
Another cool service Frockaholics have is… when you sign up to their newsletter, they inform you of new stock that is about to arrive from upcoming designer’s collections. So you can pre-order any of the listed garments and snatch them up before they even hit the stores!

They tell me that it is very, VERY popular. And after a few weeks of being on their email list, I can see why.

Happy shopping!


Living with Style and Spirit

19 February 2010

Last year I made some new year resolutions. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I do this every year. It helps me feel that I’m growing as a person, and that I’m making the most of life. And I’ve always loved the idea of looking back, making conclusions, and planning for the future.

Last year, I was focusing on life balance.

I wasn’t sure that having a balanced life was actually possible – seeing that I was going to HAVE A BABY and be thrown into the role of new-motherhood for the third time again. I was also juggling 2 other small children and my life was all about nappies, groceries, dinner, picking up kids, and sports.

But I was determined to develop my great interest in fashion, to educate myself about the art and craft of it, and become part of the fashion scene – and it has been awesome! I’ve met a heap of cool, inspiring, weird and colourful people, tried on a LOT of great clothes, been to some fabulous parties, and then always glad to be home again.

So the whole idea of “Living a Balanced Life” has been a great big success for me, and I’ve never felt so relaxed and on top of things as I do now!

However, there was a point in all this balanced living when I didn’t enjoy feeling like a Chinese acrobat, finely balancing multiple, spinning plates on sticks… in a constant state of frantic anxiety. If any of the plates would slightly tip over, everything would collapse and fall, all hell would break loose! Disaster! Catastrophe! A huge mess! And I have to pick up all the pieces and start over.

I wasted so much of my energy on stress and regret.

In the end, I learned not to expect so much of myself, not to be so up-tight when things go wrong, and just enjoy life! I forgave myself quickly when I made mistakes. I focused on the things that were important. I planned. I got very organised. And everything else fell into place.

After that, balance just came naturally.

It’s a part of my everyday life, and now I invest in keeping it that way.

This year I’m looking for something MORE.

Something beyond balance.

Is that possible? Do I want too much?

I am a mother of three children, I write about lifestyle and fashion, I have a social life, I am active in my community, I love to indulge in my interests like cooking and photography,  I love to snuggle up with my husband and have long conversations…

Clearly, I have plenty to be satisfied with. I am a very blessed person.

When I remember the experience of my husband’s cancer, when I hear about the many tragedies in the world, and people who are suffering awful misfortune, and when I am reminded that my children are growing up so fast – I am inspired to make the MOST of my current good fortune.

This year I want to try something a bit different.

I want to live with style and spirit.

I freely admit that I don’t exactly know how to do this right now.

I do know that I want to live a magnificent, inspiring, motivated, productive and passionate life!

So I’m going to explore it over the next few months. And I’m zippy with excitement!

I hope you’ll join me on this journey!

And I hope this will somehow spark something in you that will make 2010 a wonderful year for you and the people you love!


A Finger Up Your Nose and A Fresh Perspective

20 January 2010

Karen, Sean, Angela

Many weeks ago I met up with fellow blogger Angela, who was in town for a few days. She used to live in Perth, but now she lives in Singapore.

It was great to sit in the sun by the river and catch up! It was particularly nice, during our chat, to notice Perth and its lifestyle with fresh eyes again.

Yes, our skies are BIG and blue and our weather is almost always delightful.

Yes, people do go windsurfing and boating and have barbeques during the week.

Over here, it’s all about quality of life, and enjoying each day in a very easy and laid-back manner.

Everyone says there’s nothing to do here, but that’s rubbish – I hardly have enough time to go to all events that I WANT to go to – music events, fashion happenings, designer markets, live bands, comedy nights, plays, weekend festivals, art exhibitions, shop openings, food and wine shows.

And I haven’t even mentioned the family-friendly events!

Angela mentioned she was taking a friend horse-riding and visiting wildlife parks. Horse riding! Wildlife parks! What a great idea! It’s funny how visitors bring a fresh perspective on things.

*Make mental note: Must take kids to tourist attractions during the holidays!

Karen, Sean, Angela

When I catch up with friends, usually, there are other kids present. So when there are NO other kids around, I am always a little worried that my kids would get bored.

But my 4.5 year old Sean was a darling and he was very well behaved! And my 9 month old, Liam ate sand and slept in the pram.

When the cameras came out, Sean livened up considerably.

We asked him what we should do for the “Silly Photo”, but as you can see, he was the only one sporting enough to go all the way.


Happy Anniversary Darling

28 December 2009

With this year ending, apart from celebrating ten years as a blogger, I am also celebrating two much more important anniversaries.

One is that – it is also ten years since my husband and I met!

After a few whirlwind months of dating, I knew I had found my other half. My soul mate. The Ying to my Yang. That precious someone to sit on the other end of the seesaw of my life and bring it balance, laughter and purpose. I cannot describe how blessed and fulfilled I am to have had his company this past decade.

andrew_liam_hands

And also right about now, we are celebrating five years since he has been ALL CLEAR from cancer.

I can scarcely express how I feel when I think of how it might have all turned out… if things hadn’t gone our way. Callum and Sean would have no Dad, and little Liam wouldn’t exist at all.

So many people do not get the lucky break we have had when illness came to visit our family.

So here we still are, dealing with all the worries of lack of sleep, raising three kids, how will they turn out, a mortgage, how to see more of each other, our parents growing old, the washing not being done, the lawn needing to be cut, etc. The list goes on and on.

And we know how blessed and privileged we are to be able to have these problems together.

Every year, and every day, is precious.


Fashion and Textiles Design – Curtin University Graduation Show 2009

1 December 2009

Last week I went to the Curtin Fashion and Textiles Design Graduation Show 2009. It was very well produced for a student show, and I was extremely impressed.

Curtin Fashion Grad Show 2009

Dress designed by Rebecca Timson, mixing 18th Century fashion with contemporary Avant-Garde.

There were also plenty of fashion industry and media people attending, and the turnout was fantastic, so it also had the atmosphere of a “must attend” event. I went with a designer friend and we mingled and chatted to heaps of people we knew from the industry before the start.

We had front row VIP seats which allowed me to take up-close-and-personal snaps with my little point and shoot camera.

Curtin Fashion Grad Show 2009

Garments designed by Ellie Meyer, which had a very interesting concept of entomological specimens and beetle anatomy. I like!

The event was officially opened by fashion designer Megan Salmon, a past student at Curtin, and whose works I adore.

The calibre of works on the runway was excellent, and all the 21 collections were really strong. As a designer myself, I could see the strength of the concepts and presentation – and it was nice to read about the inspiration behind each of the graduates work in the show booklet provided.

Some of the garments that came down the runway would not have been out of place in an international level show. And there were plenty of wearable garments there. I went WOW, I’d would love to wear that right now – exactly as it is – several times!

Curtin Fashion Design Grad Show 2009

Emma Brown had this amazing dyed silk skirt as part of a dress which was lit up with crazy LED lights, it was so cool! (Images taken from the parade booklet. Photography by David Adams.)

The Curtin Grad Show really is establishing itself year by year for its production values, both in the collections produced, and the show itself, so all credit to the staff who run the course. Something very right is going on out at Curtin!

It was only at the end as I left, I realised that I probably should have taken some photos with all the people I talked to – some blogger I am!


Linky Links

8 November 2009

After a few weeks of piecing together a list of my favourite blogs, I finally have something to put up!

It’s still a work in progress, and I’m so so SO sure that I’m missing some – sorry, I’m working on it!

Please drop me a line if you have a super-duper site I might fancy!

Enjoy!


CiaoBella Travel Accessories

3 November 2009

Ciao Bella Travel Accessories

With a family of young children, I never thought myself to be a regular jet setter.

However last year, in July I flew to Singapore for 4 days for my birthday. Then in August I flew interstate to Melbourne for 5 days for a blogging trip. Then in October I took another interstate flight to Adelaide for 3 days to interview Lance Armstrong.

Prior to each trip, I was very rushed and busy. And in terms of travel accessories and belongings, I was very ill-equipped.

I threw things in plastic shopping bags, I bundled up my papers with rubber bands, I used a lot of zip lock bags, I used cheap bottles to store my face and body washes (which of course, leaked and spilled everywhere) and I put all my jewellery in a little cloth bag (which made everything get tangled up.)

I guess I see myself as a very inexperienced traveller, and sought to find some good quality travel accessories – so I could at least be more equipped the next time I travel.

I came across CiaoBella Travel, an online shop that stocks all kinds of handy bags, luggage tags, travel pillows, beauty products, travel clothes and more, for a stylish traveller.

I loved their site, contacted them, received some goods to review, and yay, it was ALL GREAT STUFF!

Pictured above, I tested out this very stylish, silver mesh jewellery pouch. It features 2 pockets, a necklace clip, and you can poke your earring studs through the material if you want. They have some other very cool jewellery cases too.

Ciao Bella Travel Accessories

Ok so I don’t know about you, but by the end of my trips, I end up with 3 or 4 bags in my suitcase. Some bags for rubbish, some for new clothes, some for shoes, some for wet clothes, and I get them all mixed up, and I’m always terrified that I might throw away the wrong bag, so I always spend a lot of time opening up this bag and that bag to check check check.

Anyway, I thought these laundry lingerie & shoe bags were such a cute and simple idea. They can definitely fit more than what I have photographed here.

Ciao Bella Travel Accessories

Another fab idea, is this Wash Me Wear Me Bag! Basically two cloth bags (with lining) sewn together. You put your fresh undies in one pouch, and the worn ones in the other!

Ciao Bella Travel Accessories

Here’s something I have always needed – a travel wallet to keep all my important documents in one place, with a buckle.

And I think my favourite of the lot are these super stylish and practical Fold Out Bath and Cosmetic Bags that fold out and hang vertically!

Anyway, even if these things are not for you, travel accessories make excellent gifts for Christmas.

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Fashion and Shopping Directory.


Long, Black, Thick and Straight

21 October 2009

I have been VERY BORED with my hair lately.

And you know what? I have been saying that for last 10 years.  I’m going through yet another “bored of my hair” phase.

What usually sets me off is when I meet another woman with rich, curly, red hair. Or short, wispy blond hair. Or someone with a sleek modern bob. Or gorgeous beach wave hair.

I think, SIIIIIGH. I wish I could have hair like that. Maybe I should do something DIFFERENT with my hair this time.

So I ask these women – what’s it like to have curly hair? Or short hair? Do you have to style it every day? How much product do you go through? How do you pin it up like that? Does it get frizzy? How often do you have to get it cut?

I talk to these women, and after a few minutes, I realise that ALL their lives they’ve wished that they could have LONG, STRAIGHT, THICK, BLACK HAIR LIKE MINE.

Surely we cannot ALL be victims of The Grass Is Greener Syndrome?

So I end up back at square one, and think, Bleh I’ll just keep it this way for a little longer.

The truth is, I keep my hair long, straight and black for practical reasons.

My hair is like a pet that I’ve been managing for the last 15 years. We have a good relationship going on. I treat it well, and it treats me well.

You see, I can get completely ready to go out in 45 minutes flat – I wash my hair, blow it dry, straighten it, cleanse my face, put on all my makeup, get my handbag assembled and get completely dressed in less than an hour. Including all those extra touches like a bit of anti-frizz serum in the tips of my hair and putting a touch of bronzing powder on my shoulders. I have it all down pat.

My hair doesn’t spring any surprises on me, because it’s predictable and very easy to manage.

And that’s all VERY IMPORTANT in the bigger picture of my life.

After all, I do have 2 young children and a baby, I am running a house, a marriage, a social life, and I’m keeping a blog on the side.

So if I need to go out, I can manage “my life” and “looking decent” very well thanks.

But every once in a while, there’s a part of me that craves for a bit of anarchy.

GIVE ME CURLS. GIVE ME TEXTURE. GIVE ME A DIFFERENT LOOK.

And my hair seems to be the easiest target.

Maybe it’s time to chop it all off, just past the ears. OK, maybe not. Maybe next time. Or maybe I’ll surprise you all… and myself… maybe.


Ten Years Of Blogging

13 October 2009

Ten years ago, in 1999, I published the first ever version of my website. Since I receive so many emails from people asking me how I got started, what software I use, and if I make any money, I thought this would be a good opportunity to reflect on a decade of blogging!

Please be warned, this is quite a long post, because it is covering a whole decade!

Beginnings
My first ever glimpse of the impending Internet world was at high school in 1995. I studied a subject called “Applied Computing”. My teacher told me about “e-mail” and how you can send messages from one computer to another – I thought she was kidding! I had no idea that computers – in different locations – could be connected to each other.

It is a good example of how amazingly fast the Internet developed that only four years later, I published my own website.

Although I was addicted to IRC chat and message boards while studying design and advertising at university, it was not until 1999, that I taught myself how to make a website, in order to show off my portfolio of work.

I was 21. I was single, irresponsible, a spoilt rich kid, emotionally insecure, in and out of relationships, a creative but naïve young woman, working in the crazy rat race of advertising – and I was trying to find happiness.

I became absolutely OBSESSED with the Internet and all things related to personal websites.

I would spend literally 20 hours a day online, sleeping at 4am, and then waking at 8am to check my email, before breakfast! Personal websites were like an underground community – running rampant with page counters, guestbooks, comment boxes, link-backs, webrings, countless internet awards, and small and large online groups.

I was astounded that I could get to know people living in the US, UK, Europe and Asia – people who had the same interests as I did, living similar lives, but all over the world. It was all very, very exciting. I loved the fact that I could communicate directly with my readers. And for it to happen in real time, was pretty amazing. In the early days, I had a hit counter on my site. I was thrilled when 100 people visited my site in a day!

My

My site in 1999, was essentially an online portfolio, with lots of extra information about me. I had lots of different sections for my resume, photos, contacts, my likes and dislikes. The most popular section was my “Soapbox”. It was like a daily news section, where I updated every day and I ran it like an e-zine.

Becoming Popular
Things started to take off when my website began to get featured in some newspapers, and I won some web awards. From there, it spread by word of mouth – and word of internet. People online and offline were telling their friends about my site. My readership grew and grew, which was completely unexpected to me.

I think one of the main reasons my blog developed a strong following is because I am a designer. I wanted to create a unique experience for my readers. I was very interested in visual communication and interface design. I was meticulous with its presentation and style. I loved experimenting with my visual layout (eg. 3 columns vs 2 columns vs 1) and I always analysed how (and why) others were doing it, and set out to do things differently.

I hand-coded my whole site. I created all my graphics and images myself. I took photos, sent them to be developed (yes, it was all on film back then!), scanned them in (so slow!), and photo edited them.

I also really enjoyed writing in a “personal voice” – seeing how voice and identity could be crafted with words and pictures, and how it affected the overall feel of the site. My focus was always to tell a great story, or share a feeling, or a moment, in a way that left readers feeling refreshed.

The effect of all of this is that my blog has unique content, and that content is presented in a distinctive way, making for an experience that cannot be found anywhere else.

wp_screen

This is what I see in the WordPress software I use to manage my blog: 1,313 post…and that’s just since 2003!

How Blogging has Changed in Ten Years
The Internet is HUGE now. Back in 1999, it was small, but growing rapidly. And there was no spam or advertising on it. The Internet was like a cool café then, with a nice atmosphere, where you might bump into friends. Now, the Internet and blogs are part of the “social-media” phenomenon where everyone is connected to everyone else and everything by so many different software and devices that it feels like everyone in the whole world is shouting out at the same time. And advertising is EVERYWHERE!

The Internet is FAST now. Back in 1999, most of my posts didn’t have a picture at all, and if they did, the picture was the size of what is now called a “thumbnail” image. Remember, this was in the days of “dial-up” modems that made that awful “screeeeech-boing-boing-boing” noise. Your service provider cut the connection if you weren’t actively surfing, so you had to re-connect if you stopped to read something long and interesting. Sometimes, your service provider would cut you off in the middle of a big file upload, to remind you that bandwidth was PRECIOUS. So people were very careful about what they uploaded, and what they clicked on.

Digital cameras, combined with faster bandwidth, have made high quality photos an important part of the internet, and my blog too, because digital is so easy and cheap compared to film. As a result, I have had to improve the standard of my photography a lot over the years, a challenge I really enjoy. But I still choose images very, very carefully. One good image is worth a thousand words, but fifty well chosen words is much better than any bad picture.

I’ve used the very popular “Wordpress” software to manage my blog since 2007. Before that, I hand-coded every post in HTML.

I do all my photo editing with Photoshop. I customize my blog interface by coding my own CSS templates. I store all my images on Flickr, so I don’t have to pay for serving out all the images. And I am still using the same computer I bought in 2002 (with the money I was supposed to use to buy my engagement ring).

Upside of Being a 10 Year old Blogger
One of the best things about having been online for so long, is feeling like I’m talking to a huge bunch of girlfriends, and I love it. I know that I have quite a few male readers, but they never email me. Come on guys, don’t be shy!

Almost everyday I get email from people who thank me for the words and pictures I share, and say they are inspired by my attitude and outlook on life. This is really, really rewarding. It keeps me going. I take all these things to heart, and I find them both fulfilling, and humbling.

Because of my large readership, I can draw attention to issues I believe are important.

I also get asked to support or endorse various entities or products. People offer to fly me to places to do stuff that would undoubtedly be a very cool experience. But I have an even more important job – I am mother to three little children…so I almost never go. Maybe one day!

Downside of being a 10 year blogger
The biggest downside of having such a large readership is being unable to reply to all the email that comes in. Everyday my inbox is filled up, and everyday, I’m really saddened that I can’t speak to each person individually.

After 10 years of having my email address on the internet, it is now on a huge number of spamming lists. Everyday, I delete literally dozens of emails offering me the opportunity to have my sex organs enlarged, to buy insanely cheap drugs or watches, to get rich by helping Nigerian royalty move their money to a safe place, and to marry lonely Russian super-babes with exotic names. It is so bad I am considering changing my e-mail address. But I like being “karen” at “karencheng.com.au”, so I stick with it, even though the word “delete” is getting worn off the “delete” key on my keyboard.

In the last couple of years, marketing people have decided that the best way to get something for nothing is to offer free stuff to bloggers. Thus, I get endless offers to try out mind-control medication on my children, weirdly flavoured mineral water, cosmetics that will take 15 years off my age, etc, etc. At first, I thought all these friendly emails from marketing people meant that they really loved me, and they promised to only send me stuff that was relevant to me, but now they send me anything they are trying to promote. Argh!

The strangest thing to happen to me because of blogging is being a (very minor) celebrity. I still haven’t gotten used to being spotted in the streets or at the shops. But I am slowly getting better at talking to complete strangers, who walk up to me and say: “Oh my God! You’re Karen Cheng!!” Since I am actually quite shy with people I don’t know, these moments are often awkward for me, especially when I am holding a baby with a pooey nappy, a tin of mixed beans and a cauliflower, and I am dressed in an old tracksuit.

The Next Ten Years?
In late 1999, I was living the high-life in the peak of the dot-com boom. Then, in rapid succession, I fell in love, travelled a lot, got made redundant in the dot-com crash, got married, and then had my first son.

My life was a dream till my husband had cancer. It was a year of doubt, fear, surgery, chemotherapy, more surgery, and praying. We were very, very lucky that he was successfully treated. While all that was happening, I had my second son. I was 26 by then. Life seemed so much more precious, and my blog has become even more of a celebration of the everyday moments of life.

So, after ten years, and thousands of readers everyday, what am I going to do?

I have invested 10 years of my life into blogging. I don’t know if most of my readers will ever realise how much of my day-to-day life it takes up. It takes a real discipline to post five times a week, each one with original content, and this continues to be a challenge for me, and doubly so with three kids.

Things have come to a point where I was investing so much into my site, that I had to decide on it’s future, and my future. I had to decide to give it up to pursue a more regular career, or try to make an income from blogging.

So I am now what bloggers call a “Pro-Blogger”, which means that I am trying to make an income from my blog. My mission is to show my readers things that they might actually be interested in, without bothering them with advertising spam. I want to keep my blog as a really nice place to come to. I’m still working out how to do this, and I regard it as a long-term project. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Something that will always stay the same for me is that I will keep blogging about the things that I love and that inspire me. Beautiful things, and important things. I have became very interested in increasing cancer awareness and research (a very important topic), and fashion (also a very important topic, but in a different way).

So I’m looking forward to the adventure of the next ten years!


Featured in Singapore Women’s Weekly Oct 2009

25 September 2009

Singapore Women's Weekly Oct 2009

Thought I’d share a cool update!

I’ve been featured in the Singapore Women’s Weekly, October Issue. Go check it out!

The article is titled “You Don’t Have To Be a Teen to Blog”. It features Malaysian biologist and conservationist blogger Chen Pelf Nyok, and myself.

The article portrays us as smart, graceful, generous, serious, young woman who can run an online business, be their own boss, make money, support charities, write about the more significant world issues in life, AND have a fulfilling life.

So strange to see myself in ink!

I suppose being a blogger (a self-publisher), I am used to being the one writing about myself. I always find it strange to read what a journalist has written – or not written – about me.

I always find myself thinking: “But wait!! I told you about all this other cool stuff as well! Why didn’t you put that in!?” Oh well, I’m a bit of a control freak!

(Note: I’ll upload the whole article next month. Follow me on Facebook or Twitter and I’ll update everyone.)


Rodney Olsen’s Ride for Cancer

17 September 2009

Rodney Olsen's Ride for CancerHi everyone, meet Rod.

He’s a radio announcer, and father of two kids. I’ve met him a few times at various blogging functions, and I often listen to his shows in the morning.

He is also a mad keen cyclist who has organised, and ridden in, many long distance rides, including across Australia, Canada and through India.

Like me, his family has been tragically touched by cancer. And like me, he has noticed that, despite the fact that about one third of us will actually get cancer, and all of us will know many people who will get it… there is so little discussion of it.

Cancer remains a very difficult topic. And the problem is that if people don’t talk about a problem, they can’t make it any better.

So Rod has decided to do what he can about it.

He has organised a team from his radio station to ride from Perth to Albany, stopping in one town each day to do a radio show, and get people talking about their own experiences with cancer.

The money they raise from sponsors will go to the Cancer Council, who use the money to actually DO STUFF – like care for those with cancer, to educate about early detection, and conduct research to find more effective cures.

Rod and his team will be starting their ride on Sat 17th October.

You can read Rod’s blog post about it, and you can make your own donation here.

Rod reminds me that I could do more myself, and inspires me to make plans! Go Rod!


Torn Between Two Lovers – Canon PowerShot and Nikon D80

24 July 2009

A LOT of people email me and ask about which camera I use. So, I’m going to explain how I came to have two cameras, and what I think of them. This is not actually a comparison of brands – since I am comparing a “compact point-and-shoot” Canon with a Nikon “DSLR”.

Karen Two Cameras

Loving my Canon Powershot

I have been using compacts since digital photography came along. I had a Canon Powershot s45, and I carried it EVERYWHERE with me – I would even leave it on the kitchen bench while I was cooking so I could take cute pics of the kids in impromptu moments.

But after a couple of years, this rough treatment had its price – the Canon Powershot s45 got “water damage”, and I strongly suspect, like the remote control for the TV, that the “water” was kid’s saliva!

The cost to repair the Canon Powershot s45 was almost the same as the newer Canon PowerShot A700. I didn’t even consider swapping brands, because I wanted the same thing again, just upgraded.

But I used it in exactly the same way – I would throw it in the nappy bag, put it down on the grass, and store it on the kitchen top, teach the kids how to take pics – because that’s what I have it for – to take super fast pics of stuff really happening around me all the time.

When the new Canon PowerShot A700 was only two weeks old, I crushed the auto-lens cover thingy in the nappy bag, so the lens cover doesn’t close now, and sometimes, I have to push it open with my fingers.

bashedcannon

Due to the dent underneath the “C” in “Canon”, Mr Powershot can’t close his eye, so he can never get to sleep – poor little guy.

Also the “go right” button on the menu selection doesn’t work anymore (I expect due to sand or water damage), so I can’t easily use manual focus, for example. But since I use the Canon in such a spontaneous way, I almost always use it in “auto” mode anyway.

Time went by, and I was getting more and more inspired by photography blogs. I was envious of the depth of focus, lighting, the spontaneity of people’s expressions. I was ready to explore a more careful way of taking pics.

Time to move up to a DSLR

A friend who has been really into photography for a long time had just bought a Nikon D80 after doing months of research to compare Nikon vs Canon DSLRs. He said that he couldn’t find any real difference between the brands at all, not even on price, and he had eventually gone with the Nikon just because it would allow him to use some old 35mm film Nikon telephoto lenses that he had. I trusted his research, and bought my own Nikon D80 so I could share experiences and lenses with him.

So, here is what I have learned (so far).

The Nikon D80 is great for doing a lot of fast photos, because it has much greater capacity. With the flash turned off, it will just take and take pictures – 5 a second, or something like that, if you hold the button down. This has been great for catwalk fashion photography, for example, and the resolution of the pics is definitely greater – which is important if you are going to manipulate images for professional print use, as I occasionally do.

Not only does the D80 have huge internal bandwidth and storage, but it also has actual physical buttons for adjusting everything. This makes it MUCH faster to change the settings, compared to a compact, where you have to change down through menus on the screen. With the Nikon D80, I can change manual to auto focus, aperture, etc without even taking it down from my face. Very cool, once you get used to it. The DX 18-135mm zoom lens is definitely a more powerful zoom than the Canon compact.

orange_moon02

For example, these moon rising shots were much clearer and dramatic, and more fully convey the experience I had, taken with the Nikon D80. And the range of controls of almost everything in the menus is HUGE. The Nikon D80 just feels like a very powerful tool.

Problems with the DSLR

BUT! The Nikon D80’s carry case is a big as my head, whereas I can put the Canon compact into my purse. So I never take the Nikon D80 anywhere casually, and so, I never take impromptu pics with it.

I just presumed that since the DSLR was physically bigger, and more expensive, it would naturally be twice as capable in every way. But not so.

The in-built flash is much less powerful than I expected, and although the DX 18-135mm zoom lens is “zoomier”, it does not actually allow any more light than the Canon compact – they are both limited to an “f” stop of 3.5. Because I don’t like flash photography very much, getting more from natural light is important to me.

And a MAJOR problem is that I can’t take Macro photos with the Nikon’s DX 18-135mm zoom lens. The Canon compact’s single in-built lens, however, can take amazingly close up pics using the “flower symbol” macro setting for focus.

Dragonfly

For example, this pic of the wings of a dying dragonfly my kids found. I just LOVE discovering these amazing textures and structures, so this is an important part of my photography.

Learning to Love Them Both

On the other hand, a huge advantage of the Nikon D80 is that you can change the lens. For example, I have just started experimenting with a fixed lens 50mm lens (it has no zoom). Because fixed lenses are so simple, they can pass a lot of light…which is great for me, since I don’t like using flash. For example, the current Nikon Standard 50mm f/1.4G lens (with auto-focus) has an aperture of f1.4. That’s FOUR TIMES more light than either of my current zoom lenses. However, this lens is around US$400-500, and I’m just not ready to spend that kind of money.

So in the meantime, I am using a Nikon “E series” lens from the late 1970’s or early 80’s that my friend gave me. It uses the same “F” mount that Nikon still uses, so it goes straight on, but it won’t auto-focus OR work out the exposure. This is no problem, since I just take a picture, see if it is too bright or too dark, and change the ISO, shutter speed or lens aperture to fix it. I’m loving the way I can shoot in almost any natural light, and don’t have to operate the zoom. And, the retro look of the tiny lens gives the Nikon D80 a vintage fashion look I love!

oldschoollens

My D80 gets some street cred with an “old school’ lens accessory.

Summary

Part of the reason I am so happy with my Canon Powershot compact is that it is a pretty sophisticated camera. It has great light sensitivity, it can be made fully manual, it has a quality zoom lens, etc. Because it is so much quality packed into a small size, it makes sense that it is not a cheap camera.

I guess my advice is….don’t buy an DSLR unless you want to do a LOT of reading of the manual, lens changing, experimenting, and carrying of bulky gear. Unless you do, you won’t be getting any of the benefit of the much greater capacity to take “professional” quality photos.

Using an DSLR is a different kind of photography for me. Far more planned, like landscapes, and portraits, and special effects stuff. I’m excited about all the pictures I know I will be able to take with the DSLR. But there are so many possibilities, it can be overwhelming. I’ve got a lot to learn!

So for day to day, I’m still packing my ever present, much abused, ever faithful Canon PowerShot A700 compact into my handbag/nappy bag. And when I or my kids finally kill it, as we surely will, I’m probably going to go straight out and buy the current Canon equivalent, the PowerShot A1000 IS or the PowerShot A2000 IS.

Happy snapping!


Breath by Tim Winton

23 July 2009

Admittedly, most of my personal spare time is taken up with online work and soaking my brain in the bottomless pit that is the internet – email, news, blogs, fashion updates, Facebook, twitter.

I have long ago drowned in the cacophony of visual clutter and the world of short sentences. And like a hamster in a wheel, trying to “keep up” and “stay connected” is tiring, self-defeating and most times futile. Life is to be lived, I say. And it’s good to get away.

Breath by Tim WintonSo while I was on holiday, I stuck my nose deep into, Breath by Tim Winton, an award winning, modern Australian, literary novel.

Nothing could have been further from the internet. With his rich, lyrical and evocative prose. It was perfect. It was exactly what I needed.

He’s one of my favourite authors ever. Able to capture an entire moment in 5 simple words. I’m floored, mind-boggled and stunned by his brilliance as an author. Great story. Great characters.

As I turned the last page over, I had a pang of sadness. It’s over already? What am I going to read now? How on earth am I going to find something to top that? And I was tempted to start reading it all over again.


How Much is One Child’s Life Worth?

2 July 2009

As I wrote out the title for today’s post, I felt a heaviness in my heart. What if this was a picture of my own child? What would I do?

charmaine Lim of Singapore

This is Charmaine Lim, a four year old in Singapore, who has just had her birthday. She is dying of a rare cancer. She has already had chemotherapy and a major abdominal surgery last week. This has bought her some time, but the cancer has already spread beyond her abdomen, and as you read this, she is having even more chemotherapy.

Five years ago, I went through the nightmare of my husband having cancer. Every moment of every day was filled with doubt and fear. Every day the weight – of everything – got heavier and heavier. The only thing we didn’t have to worry about were the medical bills, because in Australia, everything is paid for by a government insurance scheme – Medicare. We didn’t have to wonder whether or not we could fight for his life.

I remember before my husband had one of his operations, he said to me: “This could be worse.”

I cried and asked “How?”

“It could be our son who has cancer,” he replied. And I knew he was right.

It is a cliché, but it is true. Nothing is worse than the thought of your child dying young, not even the thought of your partner dying. Almost any parent would choose to give up their own life before their child’s. It’s what parents do.

But Charmaine’s family have a much greater challenge than my husband and I have ever had. They are working against time just to get the money to fight for Charmaine’s life.

Charmaine’s chance at survival will be improved to 50/50 with a treatment only available in a US hospital. However the treatment for this rare cancer will cost over $US300,000. That’s Half a Million Singaporean dollars.

I rang the National University Hospital in Singapore personally on Friday, to check out this story, and it is all true. The hospital administrative staff confirmed all of these details.

This is a crushing weight for Charmaine’s family. Her mother Cynthia is a single parent, with two young children, and who has already given up work to care for Charmaine. There is no medical insurance to cover this.

But Charmaine has a huge advantage. She has a family who just won’t give up on her. They have asked friends to help, who asked other friends. All kinds of people are now giving their time, and making direct donations, to help raise the money to give Charmaine a fighting chance. And I am now one of them.

What Charmaine’s family is doing is natural, right and proper. They are not begging for money. They are fighting for their child’s very life.  Lots of people have already given of their time and money, which is their expression of love and hope. But there is still some way to go to raise all of this Half a Million dollars.

Helping Charmaine is so very important because it proves that we believe every child’s life is precious. Win or lose, her situation shows us about the power of love, and of community. It will be tragic if Charmaine dies, but it will be much, much more tragic if she dies without having had this 50/50 chance.

So I urge you to please help, especially if you are Singaporean. Because if you are Singaporean, Charmaine is your child too. And if you have some way of communicating to others, then spread the word.

You can read all about Charmaine’s fight here.


The Uniform Project – 365 days in 1 dress

24 June 2009

The Uniform Project

Sheena Matheiken has created a wonderful blog, The Uniform Project, where she has undertaken to wear one dress for one year, as an exercise in sustainable fashion.

Each day she reinvents the dress with layers, accessories, and other bits, most of which are vintage or hand-made – and comes up with some very cute and stylish outfits.

It also is a year long fundraising project for the Akanksha Foundation, a grassroots charity that is devoted to funding the education of children in the slums of India.

I found it to be utterly inspiring and fascinating to browse through her outfits! It certainly humbles the part in me that craves for new dresses every season. I love fashion with heart!


Manifesto: A New Fashion Magazine

5 June 2009

manifesto1

I am a big fan of Fashion Nation – a fashion blog based out of Singapore, which is written by two fabulous girls, Dottie and Stephie.

These ladies combine a very girly giddiness about shoes, bags and clothes with an impressively brainy understanding about WHY they, and all of us, are addicted to fashion. Fashion Nation has become not only my hot-wire to fashion goings-on in Singapore, but also a welcome, on-going education about the whole culture, art and craft of fashion worldwide.

So I was smiling from ear to ear when they announced their new secret project. Dottie and Stephie have assembled a bunch of cool individuals, oozing with passion and real voices to produce the new fashion magazine Manifesto.

I’m so excited for them! And jealous, but in a really glad and proud way! I’ve always wanted to produce a simply divine magazine.

Manifesto is completely a magazine, as opposed to a blog. It has multiple contributors, rich, lush photo layouts, and comes as a packaged issue, but you can still read it online as a page-flip magazine. Like Fashion Nation, it is witty, articulate, of the moment and to the point.

Manifesto Issue number one is here. Go read!

manifesto2


Daily Outfit 22-05-2009

22 May 2009

Daily Outfit 22-05-09

Last week I went to a ‘Cupcakes and Champagne’ event held at Tu, a boutique in Shafto Lane, Perth.

They were celebrating their 5th Anniversary!

I’m loving my new belt from Sportgirl. I’ve been wearing it everywhere. The art deco looking design seems to be a superb feature for any outfit.

Top is actually a short smock dress from Forever New (I’m wearing it like a dress here). Layered skirt from Tokito, shoes from NineWest, bag from David Jones. Stockings from Target.

I decided to go solo for this event. There was a DJ, some live musicians, a balloon making guy, a host of gorgeous girls serving yummy food and drinks.

I managed to talk to quite a few people. I even met a blog reader and an old friend, whom I haven’t seen in 10 years. I had a great time.

It was lovely to be out and about by myself. I really have to credit my husband for being so supportive and so happy to look after the 3 kids. And for practically shoving me out the door! He’s a good man. I like him a lot (obviously).

Check out my favourite online shops in my Fashion and Shopping Directory


Helping Give Breast Cancer The Boot

9 March 2009

purpleboots_display

The Purple Boot Brigade is a fundraising campaign dedicated to supporting education and awareness programs for breast cancer, across Australia.

The moment I heard about people wearing PURPLE BOOTS to help beat breast cancer, I was hooked! What a great idea! Of course, I wanted to know more about the campaign, and to hear the story of how it all began.

So last week, I had the honour of meeting up with Ros Worthington. We arranged to meet at the fashion outlet of a good friend of Ros’ – celebrated and uber-successful WA fashion label, Morrison.

Ros is an amazing woman. I read her bio, and I already knew she had established the Make A Wish Foundation of Western Australia and The Breast Cancer Foundation of Western Australia.

As I talked to her, I discovered she had worked at such a grass roots level – travelling around the state, visiting remote and rural communities, helping health workers and local women, educating and spreading the word about early breast cancer detection.

Ros also told me her life story, and I was amazed at the sheer number of enormous difficulties that she has overcome. And that she has responded to it all by giving so much back to her community, locally and nationally.

karen_ros_small

Steel Blue is a company who manufacture work and casual wear boots, and to promote awarness of breast cancer, they collaborated with the Breast Cancer Foundation of Western Australia to make a bright purple range of boots. Like I said, a brilliant idea!

Imagine a workman walking onto a building site wearing bright purple steel-capped safety boots. Of course, everyone who sees the boots will suddenly know about the campaign, and will tell their family and friends about it.

$30 from the sale of every pair of boots goes directly towards the development of an on-going national campaign aimed at making younger women aware of the need to detect brest cancer as early as possible – because earlier detections have much better survival rates.

karen_purpleboots

I personally don’t have much need for steel-capped safety boots, but I love them as a fashion statement! I was told stories of women travelling around the world with them, turning up at fashion events in them, and even getting married in them! Just to make that statement – BE BREAST AWARE! So I thought I’d have a bit of fun with them too.

My son Sean was happily clumping around the house in my pair. Even at 3.5 years old, he was asking, “Why are these boots PURPLE?”

sean_purpleboots

Part of the national education campaign is the “Test Your Breast IQ” quiz. You simply visit the website, click through a multiple choice quiz, and it tells you the correct answer each time you get it wrong.

I did not know, for example, that men can get breast cancer. The idea of the campaign is to break down mis-information and fear about breast cancer that reduce the chances of beating it. But of course, breast cancer is not such a happy topic, and to encourage people to have some fun taking this educational quiz, there are some pretty cool prizes up for grabs.

Each week, somone who takes the quiz can win a pair of the fabulous purple boots, but at the end of March, someone will win the major prize: an $8000 in value luxury holiday to Thailand for two people, with $1000 spending money thrown in!

You do have to be an Australian resident to be eligible for the main prize, but hey – anyone can take the quiz, learn more, and spread the word! Or you can just go and buy a pair of these Purple Boots that start conversations, by visiting the distributors list on the Purple Boot Brigade website.

I’m also very glad to say that Nuffnang Australia are supporting the Purple Boots campaign! You will notice an animating ad for the Purple Boots campaign located at the top of the right hand side column of this webpage. Nuffnang is running the ad for the month of March, at no cost, as the first of their contributions to spreading the word about important causes, across every participating blog in their network.

I know that Nuffnang have more exposure for good causes planned. So if you have a blog, and you would like to help charities like The Purple Boots Brigade do their important work, you can easily run these type of ads by joining up to the Nuffnang network.

But if this is not your cup of tea – wearing purple boots, breast cancer education, winning a trip to Thailand, or Nuffnang’s charity appeal – please take a minute to spread the word to someone who might be interested!


When He’s Just Not Into You

26 February 2009

He's Just Not That Into YouThe bloggers over at Nuffnang are having a bit of fun with some Roadshow films, and I thought I’d join in!

To observe the idea of HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU, I thought I’d share a little story.

Years ago, I met this guy through my work, who caught my attention.

He was really charming, funny, eloquent and so much fun to talk to.

However, he was married, and let’s face it, married guys are off limits.

After I had met him face to face, we had some email dealings professionally, and we became friends.

We spent the next few months exchanging emails. We had hilarious, entertaining, interesting, thought-provoking, random conversations about all kinds of stuff – past stories, recent happenings, everyday random stuff, our interests, our travel stories, our dreams and goals.

I really liked it that – as a guy – he didn’t try to impress me with his stories. And he didn’t come across as TOO KEEN. I knew that this was a “trick” that some guys used on chicks – to seem indifferent and cool. Keep the fishing line long, and reel them in slow. But this guy was married, so it was actually a good thing he wasn’t “pursuing” me.

And we were just friends anyway. I enjoyed having a frindship with a guy in which there was no tension.

After 6 months, I asked something about his wife and why hasn’t he started a family yet. And he replied, “MY WHAT? I DON’T HAVE A WIFE! I’m not even seeing anyone! What made you think I was married???”

And I thought WHAT THE?? If this guy isn’t married, why hasn’t he asked me out yet??

I was furious! Shocked! Why doesn’t he like me??

Gah, I was very confused for a moment. Maybe he’s just not interested in me! Maybe he’s gay! Maybe I have to stop kidding myself!

Then I decided that I wasn’t the kind of girl who agonised over misunderstandings or lost opportunities.

So heck, I asked him out for a drink.

He said, “Sure!”

And we got married 2.5 years later.

He doesn’t know it yet, but I’m going to drag him to watch this movie with me. As punishment.


Me, Myself and Me Time

24 February 2009

Me, Myself

By the time I was a young woman in my early 20s, I had worked overseas, gone through several bumpy relationships, worked hard, partied hard, made friends, lost friends, earned money, spent money… all to realise one thing – that I was all over the place and I needed some stability.

Basically, I had to love myself a bit more.

I had to sit back and remember who I was.

So I slowed down. I learned how to enjoy my own company. How to be by myself.

I sat in cafes by myself. I sipped coffee and ate BLTs. I read books on park benches. I took long walks. I went jogging. I went shopping. I explored new places. Visited art galleries. Went to the beach. All by myself.

I loved it.

I loved the whacky conversations in my head. I loved how my creative juices would flow. I loved seeing the world with my own eyes and hearing my own thoughts.

And most of all, I loved being happy, positive, strong and confident. By myself.

Several years later, I met a guy, got married, traveled a bit, moved house, had children, and started my new life as a wife and mother. A companion and a nurturer.

Never have I been happier. Yet, never have I realised the importance of ME TIME.

It’s easy to forget that I’m still Karen.

It’s easy to forget that I once liked things like… kick boxing, Latin dancing, scuba diving, yoga, cycling, rock climbing, swimming, and dancing on the stage in night clubs!

It’s even easier to forget that, I once upon a time… I wanted to try wind surfing! Canoeing! White water rafting! I want to try a 3 day camping hike in the Australian bush! I want to climb Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia! I want to run in a marathon!

Me, Myself

I really like Adidas’ new campaign – aptly named Me, Myself.

They contacted me, and asked if I was interested in exploring this idea of Me Time. I was like – Sure! Look, I have a blog category called Me Time! I’ve dedicated a whole section of my life to this idea!

I’ll be trying out a new Adidas “Me Time” Calendar on Facebook, planning my weeks, slotting in my exercise routine, time for tinkering with my hobbies, my shopping time slots and relaxing time. Add me as a Facebook friend to see what I’m up to!

And feel free to take a peek, join in the fun, share your own ideas, and spread the love on the “Me Time” Facebook Group.

Hope to see you there!


Bald men are so SEXY!

8 February 2009

This is Kenny Sia, one of my favourite bloggers in the whole world.

kennysia

He is expert at making fun of himself, down to earth, does crazy things most people wouldn’t, and like a lot of funny guys – he has a heart of gold. I actually “worked” with Kenny when he helped with my own Red Cross Fund Raiser in Singapore in July 2008, and I found him to be a very genuine person.

Kenny is not too ugly right now, but he is soon to be much better looking -  because he will be shaving his head for charity. And I think that kind of generosity makes a man VERY attractive.

Right now, he is trying to raise quite a bit of money for a charity near his home in Malaysia that helps kids with cancer. The hospital asked him for help, and he said “Yes”.

So I am making my own donation … and I’d love it if you would help too!

I look at it this way… if we donate enough that Kenny reaches his target (he is half way there!) we all get to see him shave his head and look like a Bhuddist monk. And if he doesn’t, well … I’m sure Kenny will shave his head anyway, and we will still have made a big difference to some kids who are particularly in need. So this is a win-win situation. Fun and giving-all in one package.

You can make your donation at:

http://www.kennysia.com/gobald/

(I used the PayPal option) , as well as read about how Kenny got involved.

Go Kenny!


Perth Bloggers Meet Up – January 2009

23 January 2009

Perth Bloggers Meet Up - Jan 2009

The other night we attended a Perth Bloggers Meet Up. It was really nice to see heaps of news and old faces.

I had an excellent time meeting different people from all walks of life! There was a really nice vibe in the air and I had some great conversations. It was a good night!

Perth Bloggers Meet Up - Jan 2009

I also met David and Ming, from Nuffnang, who kindly sponsored the event.

If you’re interested in attending future meetups in Perth, feel free to join the Perth Bloggers Meetup Facebook Group!


My Interview with Lance Armstrong

21 January 2009

Lance Armstrong and Karen Cheng

When I agreed to interview Lance Armstrong, I wanted to advise his Lance Armstrong Foundation of a few things.

Firstly, I’m not a professional journalist. Also, neither I nor my readers are particularly interested in the technicalities of cycling or professional racing! But I am very interested in doing something about cancer awareness.

Basically, I wanted to ask Lance questions that were from the heart – issues that were perhaps a bit more thought provoking regarding cancer, personal strength, fundraising, and cancer awareness.

Lance Armstrong is one of the world’s most successful cycling champions, who has used his fame to create LIVESTRONG – a movement to raise funds and awareness for cancer research. It has an incredible online resource for people who are dealing with cancer and its effects – both for the actual person who has it, but also for the people who love them.

When I finally met Lance, it was late in the afternoon. He had spent the morning riding up and down several nearby mountains as training for the big race in a few days. He was very relaxed, and radiated a very charismatic energy. We chatted about Adelaide, the hills, Perth, being pregnant, and he seemed really nice and easy-going. And then I asked my questions.

Karen: You’ve been quoted as saying that you would never have won the Tour De France if you hadn’t had cancer. Can you say why that is? Was it just that winning a bike race (even the toughest one in the world) seems easy compared to beating cancer?

Lance:
It doesn’t have to be cancer, it could be anything devastating that reminds you of the fragility of life, the fragility of your career, and of your potential.

I had a decent perspective on my sport before, but after the diagnosis and the treatment, I realised that cycling was truly special to me personally, so I redoubled, recommitted myself back to cycling in a much different way than I did before.

Karen: Your media persona makes you seem like a very tough, direct, forceful guy, and winning the Tour de France so many times tells us you have a lot of self-discipline. But what was your lowest emotional moment with cancer. And how did you get out of it?

Lance: The lowest moment…hmm…yeh, that’s a good question. It would be hard to compete, in terms of the lows, with the actual diagnosis, because that was such a surprise. This fear rushes in, and uncertainty rushes in, and the immediate thought or question is “am I going to die?”. That’s a natural reaction.

After that, I kept getting more and more bad news, but it didn’t compare to the initial diagnosis. The way you deal with that, at least I did, and I think most people do, is through friends and family, this strong support structure that ultimately lift you up.

But also, I put a lot of faith in my doctors and nurses. I realised I was going to find the best doctor in the world, and the best medical team in the world, and we were going to throw everything at this disease, and if it didn’t work out…it wasn’t meant to be.

Karen: At what point did you realise you were going to do something as big about cancer as LIVESTRONG. Was there a single moment where you realised you should, and could?

Lance: No, this all started around a little table in a restaurant, just talking to friends, thinking we should do something to raise a little bit of money. LIVESTRONG wasn’t even in existence at that time, it was just the Lance Armstrong Foundation. LIVESTRONG came about in 2003/2004.

Karen: It must be a huge undertaking, organisationally, to get something a big as your foundation and LIVESTRONG rolling. How do you start something like that?

Lance: The same way we got through the low points of the cancer itself. Friends and family and myself sat around and said “we gotta do something”.

So the very same people who helped me through the tough times, the low points of the diagnosis and treatment, were the same ones who were there to start the foundation.

Karen: I know that cancer research is enormously complicated, and expensive, so fundraising is very important. I also know that most people feel like there is nothing they can do about cancer, because the size of the problem is so big.

What proportion of funds raised by your foundation comes from small donations like 5 and 10 dollars, as opposed to big benefactors? How important is it for ordinary people to give a little?

Lance: A lot, a lot. I would say that the bulk of the money we have raised, going way back to the beginning, is from small amounts. If you go way back to the beginning, and consider that we have raised more than 300 million dollars, the biggest single component of that was from the sale of the yellow wrist bands, which was 60 or 70 million dollars, which is a lot of money. But all of that was people spending one dollar for a yellow wrist band.

So 70 million people gave us a buck. They said – “here you go, here’s a dollar.” So that built a brand, and a movement.

There is a lot of five dollar, ten dollar, and even twenty two dollars and thirty six cents kind of donations, which to me is really cool, I rather have a lot of that, because that represents a movement, an army of people, whereas if you had ten rich people giving you a bunch of money, you couldn’t say that you speak for an entire constituency of people.

Karen: I get really discouraged when I get hate mail – and it happened to me right after my first little fundraiser for the Red Cross. How do you deal with the detractors who question your motives, especially when you have such a public persona?

Lance: Anyone who is in the public eye who has a measure of success will have detractors, will have naysayers, will have non-believers, will have haters. And that has been amplified now, in the current generation, because there is so much output in terms of the media, like magazines, blogs, message boards. Anybody who goes onto a message board and reads about themselves is going to go crazy.

I told someone the other day, I thought that Tina Faye summed it up best when she accepted her award at the Golden Globes, she said “For all of you out there who are just starting to feel good about yourself, there is this little thing out there called the Internet.” And then she listed off the names of people who’ve said bad things about her on the net, and then at the end of it all, she thanked her husband.

At the end of the day, it helps to ignore it, but also if you want to, you could also say some mean things back. (laughs)

Karen: An obvious possibility with having cancer is that it might come back. I know my husband gets very tense while waiting for the results of every blood test. How do you deal with the fear of recurrence?

Lance: I think that fades over time. My big ones were one month, two months, three months, every month in that first year. One year was a big deal, two years was a big deal, and then five years was just a huge deal. And really, I don’t think that much about it, so when I go in for my annual check-up twelve years later, I don’t know, maybe it’s a bad thing, I don’t get that nervous.

But in the first year, or two years, I was just a ball of nerves. I think that’s totally normal.

Karen: My husband has had testicular cancer twice, and he says it was a very different emotional experience second time around. How do you think you will deal with it differently if your cancer comes back?

Lance: Oh my god, I can’t even imagine. Hopefuly that won’t even happen, but it certainly can.

It’s hard to say. It’s like if you’re totally healthy and someone says how would you deal with that the first time, you can’t respond to that.

I know that just like before, we would work hard to find the best options, go into it with the best attitude, and throw everything at it. It would be different now, because I have kids.

The first time, I was a twenty five year old kid, and if I left, the only one who would be really sad was my Mom, but it’s a lot different now. I don’t even like to think about it.

Karen: Twenty years from now, would you rather be famous for being the world’s greatest bike athlete, or for creating LIVESTRONG?

Lance: Even today, I’d rather be known as the founder of LIVESTRONG, and so obviously, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years from now, till we don’t need to do it anymore, the same would apply. If I could pick what goes on my tombstone, LIVESTRONG would be higher than athlete.

Karen: It’s safe to say that your story, both in sport and with cancer, has inspired lots of people. But who inspires you?

Lance: My Mom. She’s always been a hero in life, and a hero in the example she set for me. She’s a tough woman who believed in a certain set of things when she was young, and had an incredible work ethic and drive and motivation. Even today, she 55 years old, and still a young lady, and we are very, very close and great friends.

We ended my interview, and then it was his turn to ask me questions.

I told him my husband’s story, how it affected me and our family. And shared some thoughts about cancer awareness in Australia, and what Australians can do to spread awareness of cancer and help activate communities.

Overall, I was really impressed with Lance’s answers, and the way he answered them. Directly, strongly, confidently, with real interest and passion.

I was struck by how similar his views on his cancer are to my husband’s, and how he freely admits, like my husband, that it was his family and friends who got him through his cancer.

A few days after meeting Lance, I had lots of thoughts. I feel that my own plans to do something to raise awareness of the need for improved cancer prevention and treatment are probably not ambitious enough!

After all, Lance Armstrong is just one person, and although he has had a lot of help, he has been the one individual who was the focus of it all. So one person can make a huge difference! I’m inspired!


Want to Meet Lance Armstrong?

19 January 2009

Lance ArmstrongI got an email last week, out of the blue, inviting me to interview the American cycling champion and cancer campaigner Lance Armstrong while he is in Adelaide, South Australia. Lance is participating in the Tour Down Under Professional Cycling Race.

Who is Lance Armstrong, you might ask? If I wasn’t married to my husband, I also probably wouldn’t know.

But I do, because my husband and Lance Armstrong have something in common – they have both survived testicular cancer. My husband has actually survived testicular cancer twice.

Lance Armstrong, on the other hand, has only had testicular cancer once, but he is world famous because he has won what is probably the world’s most grueling and agonising sports event (The Tour de France) SEVEN times – and he did this AFTER he recovered from cancer.

So Lance Armstrong has become a very powerful public symbol for overcoming cancer, and living a full life. He has created a charitable foundation LIVESTRONG that has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer research, and he hangs around with people like past and present Presidents of the United States. He inspires people.

I politely emailed back, and explained that I wasn’t a journalist, and my blog isn’t about sport, and that there must be some mistake with the invitation.

They emailed me straight away, and said, there was “no mistake”. They specifically invited me because of my interest in raising funds for cancer research, and because I have a cancer surviving story to share. I am apparently one of only two face-to-face interviews Lance will be giving the whole time he is in Australia. The other was with Australia’s national newspaper (The Australian).

My next problem was that… I am quite pregnant, I had only two days notice of this meeting, and Lance is in another Australian city, which will take three hours of flying time to get there. All of the flights available were at inconvenient times, since it is the school holidays, and lots of cycling fans are going to see Lance ride in Adelaide.

As well as this, the media people can’t tell me the exact location or time of my meeting with Lance because of “security concerns”.

AND my son had swimming lessons every morning for the next two weeks. It was all very sudden, and getting way too hard.

So I asked myself a question.

Would I fly to Adelaide in these circumstance to meet one of the world’s most famous fashion designers? Answer – No way. I LOVE fashion, but I wouldn’t inconvenience my family AND add unnecessary stress in our lives to talk to someone who designs clothes.

But, raising awareness about the need for cancer research? Well, yes. Yes I would.

So I did.

I flew to Adelaide. I met Lance Armstrong. I interviewed him. I told him my story.

And I am so glad I did!

I just got back and I’m exhausted. I’ll post the interview as soon as I can write it up.


Nuffnang Bloggers Meetup – Perth

14 January 2009

For those of you who are bloggers in Perth…

On Wednesday night, 21 January 2009, NuffNang Australia are putting on drinks and nibbles at The Brass Monkey Wine Bar.

Nuffnang is Asia Pacific’s first (and possibly largest) blog advertising network and community. They have 80,000 bloggers under their wing from Singapore, Malaysia and Philippines – they have recently launched here in Australia. Nuffnang Australia are keen to let Aussie bloggers know about them and spread the word.

Me, Davienne and Ming (from Nuffnang)

Nuffnang also prides itself for nurturing a strong, local blogging community – spoiling their members with competitions, prizes, giveaways, movie tickets, and seasonal events. I especially like that they are charity minded too – donating advertising space to charities for free.

During my trip to Singapore in July, I met two of the Nuffnang crew, Ming (pictured right), co-founder of Nuffnang, and the lovely Davienne (pictured middle). Ming is coming to Perth just to attend this meetup, as is David, the Sydney based Nuffnang Australia Manager.

The agenda for the meetup is just a quick welcome and introduction by Nuffnang, and then everyone can indulge in some free drinks, food and friendly chat.

So if you’ve never been to a bloggers meetup, or have always thought about attending one… you should definitely not miss this one! Please pass the word around the blogging community.

I hope to see some of you there!

Event: Perth Bloggers Meetup sponsored by Nuffnang

Date: Wednesday, 21st January 2009

Time: 6pm

Venue: The Wine Room (The Brass Monkey) at the rear of the Grapeskin Wine Bar, Corner of James and William Street Northbridge.

Theme: Nuffnang New Years Welcome

Food platters and a drinks tab provided.

No RSVP necessary.


Bump, Baby and Beyond – Online Maternity Fashion

13 January 2009

Outfit by Bump, Baby and BeyondDuring my search for great online maternity boutiques, I came across Bump, Baby and Beyond – an online store for maternity wear, nursing wear, baby and kid’s clothes.

It immediately caught my eye, because of it’s impressive range of maternity clothes at surprisingly reasonable prices. There were branded maternity jeans selling for $30! Nice tops for $25! Cute skirts for $20!

I had a chat to Cath Freemantle, owner of Bump, Baby and Beyond, and she told me that her idea was to create an online “factory outlet shopping experience”.

She hunts around for end-of-season and clearance stock, haggles a considerable discount off the original wholesale price, and then passes the discount onto her customers.

Her secret is that she’s not greedy, and her customers love her because they get fabulous products at fantastic prices. She also doesn’t take samples or seconds, and try to avoid styles that will date too quickly.

Outfit by Bump, Baby and Beyond

The result is an online collection of really nice stuff. She gave me the opportunity to pick out a few outfits to feature – in fact, she sent me a whole BOX of stuff for me to chose from! It was so much fun, but I had to return most of it!

Left: I’m wearing a RIPE Sleeveless Beanstalk Top ($33.95) – Fun, sexy, casual. I love it with jeans (or 3/4 pants).

Right: I’m wearing a RIPE Lakota Maternity Top ($26.95) which is smart and casual, goes great with skirt or jeans. Very pretty wrap skirt, which has been sold out since taking the picture.

Outfit by Bump, Baby and Beyond

I was desperately looking for some nice maternity jeans that fit my petite frame and didn’t cost the earth.

There are basically two styles when it comes to maternity jeans – the “over-the-tummy waisted design” and the “elastic band and button” which you can loosen or tighten to fit your tummy.

Above: I’m wearing Ninth Moon Over Tummy Waisted Stretch Jeans ($55.95) – which fit SO well and were very comfortable.

The white cotton top was a RIPE Adore Maternity Tank for $26.95.

Outfit by Bump, Baby and Beyond

In both these pics I’m wearing the same pair of jeans as I previously mentioned above.

Left: I really liked this satin grey top. Very elegant and goes well dressed up (with a black pencil skirt) or dressed down (with jeans or black capris). RIPE Pleated Satin Top ($44.95).

Right: And again I’m wearing the RIPE Lakota Maternity Top ($26.95, this time with jeans.

Bump, Baby and Beyond carry maternity evening wear, corporate wear, active wear, sleepwear, swimwear, breastfeeding tops, underwear and accessories – with great brands such as Ripe, Pea In A Pod, Soon Melbourne, EGG, Frou Frou, Mango Jam, Ninth Moon, Maternity Plus, and Mother Baby Child.

They also have children’s clothing, baby clothes and gift vouchers. And great rates for shipping internationally!


Personal Monthly Goals – January 2009

2 January 2009

ME - Jan 2009I don’t think I’m a naturally disciplined and focused person.

I’m more of a “all over the place person”. I have so many interests and passions, that I often find myself losing focus.

I get easily distracted by problems and projects. I get side-tracked by interesting projects that pop up. Or I have little flits of inspiration that take up large amounts of time.

I think if I didn’t practice any self-discipline, I’d find myself 5 years down the track, thinking, “Huh? Where’d my life go? What did I do with my time?”

So I believe in setting personal and life goals.

Throughout 2008, I’ve made it a point to reflect and work on them every month. And I must say, I’ve found it to be very fulfilling and rewarding.

My goals for the new year are [still] very simple.

Take care of myself. Eat well. Live well. Exercise. Have time for myself. Balance my activities. Manage my stress and anxiety.

Take care of my marriage. Love my husband. Make time for him. Talk. Laugh. Be honest. Men need affection, consideration and alone time too.

Take care of my children. Have alone time with each of my kids. Talk to them. Listen to them. Enjoy them. Create happy experiences for them.

Be part of my community. Make time for friends. Give my time to helping others. Organise gatherings.

I do have a few more ambitious goals. But these take second place to the ones mentioned above.

1) Deliver my third baby naturally, and recover a life of normality in a timely manner!

2) Develop and dedicate a bit more time and energy to this blog. Hopefully it will become my part time job soon!

3) Run in a marathon of some sort.

4) Learn how to play the piano.

5) Learn to speak Chinese.


Awards and Trying Again

27 November 2008

Blogger's Choice Awards 2009I don’t know if you all remember the Blogger’s Choice Awards 2008.

Well it turns out that I won the Best Blog Design! I came 2nd in Best Parenting Blog, and I was one of runners up for Best Blog of All Time and Hottest Mommy Blogger!

I’m completely stoked! Thank you everyone for putting in your votes throughout the year!

Yay!

Well I have been nominated again in 4 similar categories for the 2009 Bloggers Choice Awards. And I’d love it if you could spend a few moments voting for me?

For a website about blogs, the Bloggers Choice Awards website is a bit confusing, but if you follow these simple steps, you should be right —

1) Go to http://www.bloggerschoiceawards.com

2) Create an account by choosing “sign up” at the top – you do have to fill in everything, except “choose a picture”, and you do have to give a real email address. Don’t forget to uncheck the “send me email box” (if you don’t want spam).

A message will appear telling you to check your email for a confirmation message. Mine arrived in less than thirty seconds, and you click on the link in the email message to log you into the Bloggers Choice Awards site.

3) On the top right hand side of the screen is a “search” box. Type in the word “cheng”.
A list of entries will appear, and mine – “KarenCheng.com.au” – will probably be on top of the list.

4) Click on the drop down menu called “Choose a Category to View this Blog” and you will see a list of all the different categories I have been nominated for. Choose any one of the four nominations.

5) It will load up a little profile of my website, and there will be a yellow “vote” button. Hit the vote button! Then you can just quickly click on the other 3 categories listed to the right as well, to vote for me in those categories.

And don’t forget to have a look at a few new blogs!

THANKS SO MUCH! Fingers crossed for next year!


Daily Outfit 15-10-08

15 October 2008

Daily Outfit 15-10-08

Today I went to a cafe to meet up with a friend who recently had a new baby. It was a lovely morning for it – sitting under umbrellas with the warm spring breeze and hot sunshine.

I’ve been eagerly waiting for the weather to warm up so I can finally wear my new white tulip skirt, which I picked up at Soon Lee, in Singapore. I love it! It’s so cute!

I’m also wearing black singlet top from Country Road. And shoes from Nine West. Blue shoes make me happy!


Day 3 in Melbourne: Shopping in Fitzroy

8 October 2008

Again I woke up bright and early, and this time I decided to try breakfast in bed at The Grand. Ooh it was glorious! I’ve never had breakfast in bed in a hotel, and hehe it was such a treat.

Breakfast in bed at The Grand Hotel, Melbourne

Today I took a tram over to the highly recommended Fitzroy area – in particular Brunswick Street, Smith Street and Gertrude Street. (So many of my readers said I HAVE to go there! Thanks guys!)

If you’re visiting Melbourne, I highly recommend you grab some Grid Urban Maps, which can be found in hotel lobbies, boutiques, cafes. They are free, pocket sized, and cover all shopping and tourist precincts. I would have been lost without them!

Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

I really enjoyed Brunswick Street. It was bursting with boutiques, homewares shops, groovy cafes, vintage shops, discount outlets. There is so much to see! Some parts were upmarket and stylish, but it all had a very cool, laid-back, arty, grungy, independent vibe.

And I adored Smith Street, which runs parallel to Brunswick St. It was a melting pot of sights, smells and textures. I loved the way there were dodgy looking internet cafes next to a Vietnamese butcher, next to super stylish lighting shop, next to a Lebanese bakery, next to a nursery, independent designer jewellery shop, and a bustling cafe. The variety is quite an experience!

Unlike the city, where all the shops are crammed closely together, Fitzroy is a lot more spread out. I found that the fashion boutiques are dotted all over the place, so make sure you wear good walking shoes because you have to do a lot of walking. I recommend that you dedicate 3-4 hours to cover the place. Which is fine, because there are heaps of places to stop for a delicious snack and coffee.

Shop Sui

There are a few very cool and quirky little shops on Gertrude Street. Definitely worth checking out.

One in particular is Shop Sui. Run by a very cool lady, Sylvia, her shop specialises in a deliciously diverse range of products – from retro Astroboy posters, to funky leather handbags, to gorgeous handmade baby hats, to designer stationery products, to cushions, jewellery, stuff toys and much more! You must check it out!

I loved the way her shop was set up, and I spent ages browsing through every nook and cranny! I bought some gifts for my sons too.

Lady Melbourne

Lastly I headed over to a great little cafe, Cavallero, to meet up with the always stylish, Lady Melbourne.

I love her site, her sense of style, self portraits and photographic styling!

It was such a pleasure to meet over a cup of tea, chatting about fashion, blogging, clothes, shopping, Melbourne, giggling over the quirks of fashion blogging and fashion photography.

All up I spent about 6 hours on my feet. Walking, meeting people, looking at shops, taking photos, taking notes.

That evening, I did more walking. I met up with a good friend for dinner at Trotters Cafe on Lygon Street. Had yummy seafood pasta and apple crumble. Then strolled around until my feet couldn’t take it any more!


Making Baby 3, Part 33: IUI Number 3

26 September 2008

Hospital Room

Once again, the whole procedure of IUI Number 3 goes nice and smoothly.

And once again I “have a good feeling about this one”.

I guess the only thing that is different for me this time round, is that I am coming closer to the reality of “What Happens if IUI Doesn’t Work”.

Recently I have been doing a lot of reading on IVF. I’ve taken out books from the library, reading articles on the internet, forums, pamphlets and asking people.

I’ve read a book, So Close, written by a blog friend of mine, Tertia Albertyn, who chronicles her journey through 9 IVFs and a roller coaster ride of tragedies and a happy ending. It was such an eye opener for me into the real, everyday experiences of IVF. So I’m really glad I read it.

Basically, I don’t know what I’m going to do if IUI doesn’t work.

How long are we going to keep trying? Are we going to try IVF? How many times?

Lots to think about. Lots to hope for.


Click here to see the whole story of Making Baby 3.


Perth Fashion Festival 2008: King Street Fashion Parade

6 September 2008

King Street is well known for being a style and luxury hub in Perth, with international luxury brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Bally, Tiffany & Co. mixing it up with local high-end boutiques such as Varga Girl, Periscope, Subway DC, Wheels & Dollbaby and more.

Today King Street held a cute, garden-party styled fashion parade showcasing the latest King Street labels and fashion.

Perth Fashion Festival 2008: King Street Fashion Parade

It was an interesting experience for me. I was invited there as “media”, but I didn’t really fit in with the rest of the media pack – that is, the crowd of photographers, each with formidable camera gear. Because there I was, dressed up in a pretty spring dress, stilettos and a tiny silver point-and-shoot camera. I guess I was more keen to meet, talk to people and maybe hand out my card.

I sat at the end of the catwalk and had a great view of all the outfits. Melanie Greensmith of Wheels and Dollbaby was this year’s Walk of Fame winner, honoured with a special plaque to be installed in the pavement of King Street, alongside other West Australian fashion legends.

Perth Fashion Festival 2008: Karen Cheng and Anne Marie CarpenterThey served coffee and cake to all guests. The atmosphere was nice, relaxed and happy, in a sunny springtime kind of way.

I introduced myself to a few people and had a good time chatting. I met Anne-Marie Carpenter (pictured) Ambassador for the Festival, who was just lovely.

I want to say hi to Evelyn, a blog reader of mine from Singapore, who was in Perth for a little holiday and introduced herself to me.

Also a big thanks to Gordon, a fashion fan from Malaysia, with a really nice LV bag! He was sitting next to me, and I gingerly asked if he could take some pictures for me. He was a so nice and friendly, and we talked for a while, but in the end I forgot to take a picture with him!


Fashion Boutique Review: Pigeonhole

25 August 2008

Pigeonhole Shop

I was introduced to Pigeonhole through a friend of mine.

It’s a quirky little shop in the city, crammed full of clothes, accessories, jewellery, designer gift items and other super cool things you can’t find anywhere else – I instantly fell in love with it!

I had the pleasure of chatting to owner Johann Kim, who was such a cool guy! The shop opened less than a year ago, and it stocks over 600 local and international brands of STUFF.

Johann constantly travels all over the world, scouring, sourcing and buying all the cool bits and pieces for his shop. It sounds like so much fun and it makes me so envious!

Pigeonhole Shop

Even though Pigeonhole is in the Perth City mall area, it might be a little hard to find. So be sure you grab the map from the website. It’s at the very end of a very weird and wonderful arcade, and indeed it has a very pigeonhole-like charm!

Pigeonhole
Shop 16,
Bon Marché Arcade
80 Barrack Street,
Perth 6000
Phone: 9221 9837

And they also have a very cool blog and Facebook Page!


Meet Lifestyle Blogger: Joyce Wong

12 August 2008

Joyce Wong from Kinky Blue Fairy

Years ago I stumbled across a blog who linked to me, Kinky Blue Fairy. I found Joyce Wong, a hot, pixie-faced chick, with attitude, who seemed to party non-stop!

Over the years of popping in and out of her site, I’ve found myself quite entertained and deeply fascinated – for me it’s seeing how the other side lives. Ah, so that’s what real party girls get up to! What a jam packed life! She has so much energy! And I love her outfits!

Tongue in Chic Fashion BlogJoyce’s pet project is Tongue in Chic, a very cool fashion blog based in Malaysia (such a great name!). It’s definitely a regular stop for me when keeping in touch with fashion in the Asia region.

I just love the range of stuff that she and her team covers. Everything from fashion shows, fashion events, bargain hunting, latest trends, sales, designers, fashion ideas, fashion scouting in Hong Kong, Bangkok, China and more.

Tongue in Chic are launching the new version of their site on the 20th August 2008, complete with a rocking launch party! Wish I was there!

I also asked Joyce if she was interested in “Doing The Karen Cheng”, she laughed and said SURE!

So you can see her pics on her Kinky Blue Fairy site, and on the Doing The Karen Cheng Facebook Group. Enjoy!


I Heart Kenny

24 July 2008

Kenny Sia (courtesy of www.kennysia.com)

A few weeks ago, I was in Singapore and by complete co-incidence, so was the incredibly popular Malaysian blogger, Kenny Sia.

We finally had the chance to meet up! Unfortunately, our individual schedules were pretty full and we only managed to chat for a few minutes. I would have loved to catch up over coffee – but it was not to be. Nevertheless, I was not disappointed. He is exactly like I imagined him from his blog!

Kenny writes about his adventures of being a regular, down-to-earth, 20-something Asian guy, feeling and living life to the full. From political satire, to random toilet humour, to extraordinary life experiences – his topics always put a smile on my face.

I love the fact that, although I am not Malaysian and I often do not understand some of the lingo or current affairs of Malaysia… nonetheless, he’ll just get straight to the point, and make me double over with laughter. Or, I might find myself peering a little closer at his photo-documentary-style account of some astonishing adventure.

His posts are superbly crafted. Whether he’s aiming for pure entertainment value, random hysterics, controversy, a cute little story, or a moment of thought – he seems to do it with a very natural and unique style, a very Kenny Sia style. He’s a very clever blogger, and he deserves the astonishing and loyal readership he has.

Kenny Sia (courtesy of www.kennysia.com)

Although I don’t really know him on a personal level, I see him as a very real human, not “one of the world’s most popular bloggers”.

I know he has lived in Perth, my home town, and studied at the same university I did. I know his sister, and his nephew and nieces. I know about his father’s sickness and passing.

Kenny is tuned into all that life has to offer, and shows it to the world in his own, unique way. He’s brave enough to show us his heart, and to poke fun of his own celebrity.

So here are a few of my favourite Kenny Sia posts:

Three Years – where he writes a very touching letter to his late father.

Twenty Four – where he makes an enjoyable lists of things he has done at the age of 24. And you can’t help but be inspired to make a similar list.

The Making Of Mister Potato’s ‘Fish’ – the weird and wonderful life of being a blog celebrity. Hilarious strangeness.

Underwater Photography – a simple but charming commentary of scuba diving, which made me chuckle.

Kuala Lumpur International Marathon 2006 – where he has a crazy idea and pursues it. He admits he is overweight, yet enters and FINISHES a 42km marathon, with a very entertaining commentary.

I am actually looking forward to the time Kenny has kids. I am sure that his take on fatherhood and that amazing adventure of parenting will surely be the most entertaining yet!

Cheers Kenny!


Soon Lee Fashion Boutique and Haji Lane

11 July 2008

During my recent trip to Singapore, I had a list of “MUST SEE” boutiques and fashion designers compiled from dozens of personal recommendations, suggestions and my own online research. But I only had time to do about half of them. Argh!

On the top of my list was Soon Lee, in Haji Lane.

I was given lots of mixed opinions as people described the shopping at Haji Lane. I got the impression that it was VERY DIFFERENT to the high-end, designer-brand, super-shiny boutiques in Singapore’s Orchard District.

One of the results of mass production and globalisation is the rise of the conventional shopping mall. These shopping experiences are predictable, and pretty much the same, whether you’re in Perth, Singapore or London.

Part of my interest and take on fashion, is to showcase different, unique and local shopping experiences – so I was very curious to take a look at Haji Lane for myself.

Oh how I loved it!

Haji Lane, Singapore

Walking down Haji Lane, you would probably think you arrived at the wrong place for a fashion experience. The lane is long and narrow. There is the occasional piece of rubbish lying around, there are rickshaws (yes, a pedal powered taxi with a charming, old, toothless man!) and rubbish bins are parked next to tiny, two-stroke vans and motorcycles.

Old shop houses run the length of the shopping lane – some shops have vines growing up the building, with aged, oriental murals flaking off the walls. Some have uber modern glass walls, with brushed, stainless steel fittings and amazingly designed wall patterns. The place is crammed with absolutely unique shops and cafes.

Haji Lane, Singapore

Singapore is a sophisticated, developed, modern and a truly global city. But nearby in Arab Street, you can literally see, feel, smell and taste that Singapore has been a cross roads of international trade and cultural exchange for centuries.

I loved all the vibrant colours, deep textures, exotic smells, the mix of old and new, the signs of oriental and global influence. It was incredible.

Soon Lee Boutique, Haji Lane, Singapore

At Soon Lee, I was welcomed by its co-owner, Sharon Cher. I adore her blog, www.ishopsoonlee.blogspot.com, so I was keen to meet the woman behind the words. I was very fortunate that she was able to afford some time to chat over coffee!

She is one smart woman. Passionate, intelligent, brave, stylish, driven – exactly the kind of person that makes fashion exciting!

She explained the short fashion history of Haji Lane, and the even shorter background of Soon Lee. Soon Lee means “plain sailing” – a wonderfully calming reference, and indeed, both the boutique and Haji Lane is a long way from the rushed pace of Orchard Road’s towering, multilevel shopping centres.

soonlee01Soon Lee Boutique, Haji Lane, Singapore

Her shop is wonderful. Eclectic, busy, over-flowing with delicious bits and pieces and designed goodies – clothes, jewellery, accessories, hats, belts, sun glasses, homewares.

Soon Lee
56 Haji Lane, Level 2, Singapore.
Open everyday from 2pm-8pm.
Phone: (65)6297-0198

You get the feeling that Haji Lane oozes a new kind of quiet, creative confidence in Singapore, still fresh and exciting.

I can’t wait to go back and have a whole afternoon or evening to drift from one boutique to another – which are all within steps of one another. Haji Lane is worth visiting just to experience Arab Street and its surrounds too, and the price of everything seem very affordable.

Most boutiques in Haji Lane only open their doors from around 2.00pm, and are still open till around 9 -10 pm. I’ve been told that the best time to visit is 4pm on a weekday.

Get there by:

Taxi – I had to explain to our taxi driver that Haji Lane is parallel to Arab Street, between North Bridge Road and Beach Road, then he had no problem. I used this google map.

Or take the MRT East-West line train to Bugis station and walk for 10 minutes.

Enjoy!


Doing The Karen Cheng – Singapore Red Cross Charity Event

8 July 2008

Doing The Karen Cheng in Singapore - Charity Event

The “DTKC Super-babes” are looking damn fine! I am wearing a dress from our major sponsor, online boutique FashionJunkee.com.

12 days ago I had this crazy idea to take something that was a bit silly, and turn it into something significant.

In a matter of days, the Doing The Karen Cheng Singapore Red Cross Charity Event caused a huge wave of momentum and excitement. We had multiple sponsors, interviews with 3 major newspapers, I was invited to chat on radio, magazine and newspapers wanted to cover the event, heaps of people wanted to help and participate! I was truly overwhelmed by all the support.

The event was a success. We had over a hundred of people turn up, and we raised approximately $2000 in 2 hours! Woohoo!

Doing The Karen Cheng in Singapore - Charity Event

I was thrilled to see so many girls and guys dressed up to the max and joining in the fun! I’m so glad everyone stayed for drinks, mingled, chatted, and took more photos! I chatted with heaps of people and would have loved to talk MORE, but I was slowly losing my voice over the course of the event.

All my photos and professional photos are at the Doing The Karen Cheng Facebook Group.

Please remember to upload your own photos, feel free to browse them all, and please help me tag people.

Doing The Karen Cheng in Singapore - Charity Event

The wonderful FashionJunkee.com donates US$1000 to the Singapore Red Cross.

Doing The Karen Cheng in Singapore - Charity Event

Photographers working their magic at the gorgeous venue IndoChine – The Forbidden City.

Doing The Karen Cheng in Singapore - Charity Event

The very charming and very popular Malaysian blogger Kenny Sia turned up and was more than happy to be the centre of attention.

Doing The Karen Cheng in Singapore - Charity Event

A big thanks to May (centre) from Carrey Hill Events Management – she looked into every detail, she fixed every problem, she took care of everything, she was so organised, enthusiastic, reliable and creative! She was incredible! And she did it all for charity! Thanks so much May, her crew and Carrey Hill.

We had a professional photographer take some photos for the event, the award-winning Ivan Loh (left) of Pigs Can Fly. He was amazing too – fantastic to work with, full of great ideas, amazing results, lovely personality, professional but fun, hard working, very determined to get that perfect shot, and he even dropped off the CD the next morning! Thanks Ivan, you’re too kind.

Of course, I need to thank the kind folk from The Singapore Red Cross, who were incredibly supportive! Thanks Kelly!
Romadas Arts kindly donated their printing services and materials for the event. They made up some great posters and an amazing banner, all for free! And Nuffnang Blog Advertising Community kindly donated colour printing services to all of the participants!

Lastly, I want to thank the gorgeous girls who came a bit earlier to the event to help with photos, and became the “DTKC Super-babes”. You guys looked amazing!! Thanks to Hui Wen, Mel, Jacqueline, Sheena, Michelle, Karen, Nicole, Norshahira, Tricia, and Kelly. There’s an excellent pic of us in today’s MY PAPER (8 July 2008). Please let me know if I have forgotten someone!

Also thanks to the Fashionation girls, Dottie and Stephie, and also Sharon from Soon Lee at Haji Lane, for all their excellent advice. And, I have to mention my cousin Calvin Cheng, who made some very important conections for us so this could all happen.

Doing The Karen Cheng in Singapore - Charity Event

Near the end of the event, I was requested to “Do The Karen Cheng” with a dog with a blog. I thought it was such a funny and cute idea. So we moved the mirror, brought the whole party outside and took some very cool photos of Kingsley the blogging dog.


Birthday Drinks at the Fashion Bar

5 July 2008

Birthday Drinks at the Fashion Bar

I am extremely grateful to the Fashion Bar – an uber cool and very gorgeous bar in Clarke Quay. They hosted and sponsored my 30th Birthday Drinks while I was in Singapore.

We started very early compared to the Fashion Bar’s usual crowd. The lush interior design was amazing and gave the event such an opulent, romantic, sexy, girly atmosphere! I loved it!

Birthday Drinks at the Fashion BarWe met Randy the manager, who was absolutely lovely! He made everything run smoothly and gave us 8 bottles of wine.

I had invited people who I knew only from blogging or by email, so it was very exciting to meet so many of them face to face!

It was a very mixed crowd – some old friends, some family, some media people, some fashion designers, some bloggers, and some readers. It was great, and I heard so many funny and interesting stories, and it was wonderful to see people who didn’t know each other, making new connections.

Birthday Drinks at the Fashion Bar

Me, Stephie and Dottie (girls from Fashionation) and Ben from Miyagi.sg.

Birthday Drinks at the Fashion Bar

Michelle and Pam (the girls from Style Damsel) with Andrew and myself.

After five hours in the Fashion Bar, and after two hard days of reviewing Singaporean fashion designers and being interviewed by Singapore’s media, I was ready for bed.

My voice was so sore, and very husky. Plus I had to get my beauty sleep for the Red Cross Fundraiser on Saturday afternoon!

More photos over at Flickr.


FashionJunkee sponsors “Doing The Karen Cheng”

29 June 2008

fashionjunkee.com

Wow. Only a few days till I go to Singapore, and “Do The Karen Cheng” with readers of this blog to raise money for those in need. I am so excited to let you know that we have already raised US$1000 for this cause.

I have previously talked about FashionJunkee.com, an online fashion boutique, and when they heard about this charity event I was organising, they offered to sponsor a gift to the Singapore Red Cross of – just let me say this again – ONE THOUSAND U. S. DOLLARS!!

The check (and a couple of their latest dresses) are in an express parcel pack as I write this, to meet me at my hotel in Singapore when I arrive there on Wednesday. So, now I know what I’ll be wearing! What will you be you wearing?

I’m also glad to say that we have another sponsor as well. Carrey Hill Events Management in Singapore are very generously organizing the event (at VERY short notice) where we will be “Doing The Ka