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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.”


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


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).


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.


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!


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!


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.


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!


Talking About Blogging

16 May 2008

This morning a Channel 10 film crew and reporter arrived at my house.

They were covering a story on blogging, and they were here to interview me and feature my blog.

A film crew! In my house! For an interview! Eeeeek! How exciting! You should have seen my lounge room, it was spotless. I had fresh flowers and throw rugs. There was not a crumb to be seen.

I can’t remember the last time I felt so FLUTTERY AND FLOATY IN MY STOMACH.

The crew was absolutely lovely. It was actually quite fun. I think I did ok.

I know this sounds a bit silly, but I really felt so honoured to be talking about blogging, being a blogger, mummy blogs, and why I love blogging. I’m so excited to see what this feature does for bloggers in Australia.


Blogger Meetup and Updates

12 March 2008

Perth Bloggers Meetup March 2008

I had a really nice time at the Perth Bloggers Meetup! I met, talked and hung out with some lovely people, chatted to old net friends, took photos, drank a bit, and received gifts (thanks girls!). More photos here.

I also managed to get some online bits and pieces up and running again. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep them updated now!

> My Wishlist (Amazon)
A few very sweet people were asking for my wishlist. So I’ve finally updated it and made a separate list for the kids!

> My Twitter
Interested to know what a SAHM does all day? Ha ha maybe not? Well you can now follow me on Twitter. And you have to check out the tiling grass.gif I made 9 years ago. It’s SO 1999!

Me elsewhere:

> Facebook

> My Flickr

> Stumble Upon

> Technorati


Perth Bloggers Meetup – March

5 March 2008

I made a promise to the lovely Simone of EnjoyPerth!, that I’ll be joining her and a bunch of other people (that I know by name and profile avatar) for the Perth Bloggers Meetup.

It’ll be my first time at a blogger meetup!

I mentioned that I’d write about it on my site, but I forgot to mention that I don’t actually KNOW how many people in Perth read my site.

I know three. My husband, my mother and my Aunty Flo. And I’m not sure if they can make it. They’d bring chicken curry for everyone, I’m sure of it.

So please come! Would love to see you there!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008.

7pm

Upstairs at The Brass Monkey
Corner of James and William Street, Northbridge

Perth Bloggers I want to meet : Cellobella, TFP, Kitta, Mooiness, Rodney, Krissy, Bronwen, Duncan, Priscilla, Nat. (Ok I’ve met some of you before, but it’d be good to catch up!)


Blog Loving – MetroDad

29 January 2008

As part of my regular posts on Blogging, Photography and Design, I’m also reviewing some blogs that I love reading, and greatly admire.

MetroDad PicIn the blogging universe of Mummy Bloggers, Metrodad is my shining star. He’s my all time favourite Daddy Blogger.

Metrodad is written by Pierre Kim, Asian-American, ethnically Korean with a French name, fashion executive living in New York, with his wife and 3 year old daughter.

My goodness, he’s so funny. I love his snappy ramblings about his daughter and fatherhood. His writing is refreshing, wickedly funny, yet oozes with warmth and love. It’s all good.

My favourite posts (just so happens all of them are parenting posts):

The Lazy List of Fives

The Eight Types of Playground Parents

An Open Letter to All Toddlers

Tales of Future Past

5-1, I guess she really is my daughter

I managed to ask Pierre some friendly questions.

Interview

Karen: When you’re having a really bad day, what are some of the things that will definitely cheer you up?

Pierre: Hugs from my daughter, kisses from my wife, a plate of homemade gnocchi from my favorite local Italian restaurant, and a nice old-school bottle of Montepulciano table wine.

Karen: What kind of father was your father? How much are you like him now?

Pierre: My father was a traditionally strict immigrant father who was raised in an absolutely horrible home environment. He was mentally and physically abused by his parents until he ran away as a teenager. Like many other Korean men of his generation, he was very shut off from his emotions. Hence, his idea of playing a role in my life generally consisted of being a provider and a disciplinarian. We did not have a very close relationship when I was growing up. Now, as we’ve both gotten older and mellower, we’ve learned to coexist peacefully for the sake of the family.

Suffice it to say, we are not very much alike. However, because of his hard work and sacrifices, I was afforded luxuries in life that have allowed me to become the person that I am today. For that, I am forever grateful.

Karen: What inspires you?

Pierre: Travel. Seeing as much of the world around me while I’m still here on this planet. I’ve been to 56 countries during my lifetime and I hope to visit many more. For me personally, there’s nothing more inspiring than exploring a strange city by yourself and meeting people who are never quite as different from yourself as you might presume.

Karen: What’s your favourite way to spend time with your daughter?

Pierre: Without a doubt, going out to eat with her. Food is a great passion of mine and I’m constantly tasting the amazing diversity of incredible food that can be found in a city like New York. Sharing this passion with my daughter is incredible. When my wife works late, my daughter and I will go out to dinner together and these have always been some of my favorite father-daughter memories. Not only does she love having Daddy all to herself but she’s also loves going to new restaurants. Blessedly, she’s an adventurous eater. She’s the only 3-year-old I know who has eaten everything from foie gras to raw sea urchin to clams casino.

Karen: What are 5 things you are working on right now?

Pierre: Becoming a better husband, father, and son.
Getting more involved in volunteer work.
Learning how to cook.
A television show.
Quitting smoking.

Karen: I can’t believe you buy clothes for your wife! And she likes it! What is the one thing that you bought for her, that backfired on you?

Pierre: My overall track record of buying clothes for my wife is pretty good. However, I apparently lack the gene that gives one the ability to choose handbags. For her past birthday, I spent over a month researching Vogue magazines and scouring all the handbag sites. I was absolutely 100% convinced that she would love the bag I selected for her. Totally backfired. She hated it. Thank god for generous return policies.

Now, I’m in full training mode. My wife will show me a handbag and ask me whether she’d like it or not and I have to answer right away. It’s futile. I’m a lost cause. What is it with you women and your handbags?


Nominations for The Bloggies 2008

2 January 2008

Nomination for The 8th Annual Blog Awards are on!

Every year I wonder how I should approach the “blog awards season”. Sure, they are always such a great way to discover new blogs, support my favourite blogs, and visit blogs that have dropped off my list during the year. But in terms of being nominated and voted for, I’ve learnt that it pays to beg shamefully and promise lots of love and eternal sunshine.

This is just nomination stage, so it’s really exciting to be one of the finalists. So please please nominate me! Thank you thank you thank you!

Go to the awards site and fill in the URLs!

You don’t have to register, but you do need to give your email (at the end) to validate the nomination.

You also have to make sure that at least three different blogs in total must be nominated throughout your whole nomination form.

And you have to nominate by Friday, January 11 2008. Quick quick!

So www.karencheng.com.au can fit into these categories :

Best Australian or New Zealand Weblog
Best Asian Weblog
Best Writing of a Weblog
Best-Designed Weblog
Weblog of the Year

These are my nominates (I’ve left out some categories, because I don’t know of any blogs in that category or I just can’t decide right now! Will update later!) :

Best Web Application for Weblogs
Wordpress – www.wordpress.org

Best Australian or New Zealand Weblog
Karen Cheng – www.karencheng.com.au

Best Asian Weblog
Karen Cheng – www.karencheng.com.au

Best African Weblog
Tertia – www.tertia.org

Best Photography of a Weblog
The Pioneer Woman – www.thepioneerwoman.com

Best Food Weblog
The Food Pornographer – www.thefoodpornographer.com

Best Topical Weblog
Tree Hugger – www.treehugger.com

Best Entertainment Weblog
The Superficial – www.thesuperficial.com

Best Writing of a Weblog
Karen Cheng – www.karencheng.com.au

Best Community Weblog
Postsecret – postsecret.blogspot.com

Best-Designed Weblog
Karen Cheng – www.karencheng.com.au

Weblog of the Year
Karen Cheng – www.karencheng.com.au


Blog Loving – Chookoolonks

17 December 2007

Chookooloonks

As part of my usual Monday posts on Blogging, Photography and Design, I’m also reviewing some blogs that I love reading, and greatly admire.

I was first introduced to Karen Walrond several years ago, when she was a writer for Bloggingbaby.com. I clicked over to her personal site, Chookooloonks, and I fell in love with her daily pictures, words, and most of all her love for her daughter.

Not only is she stunning and a beautiful person, her daily writing is refreshing and she captures such a lyrical richness of her life through her photography.

Her site Chookooloonks (a Trinidadian term of endearment) is now a photography blog, but she used to write at her old site about parenting, motherhood, adoption, being a writer and being a pro blogger.

I managed to grab some of her time and ask her a few questions :

Interview

Me: Tell us a bit about yourself.

KW: In a nutshell, I’m a Trinidadian, wife to a Brit, mother to an American, lawyer, photographer, 40-year-old analytical extrovert with the soul of an struggling artist. More or less. I also make a mean rum punch.

Me: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

KW: There were several professions I was pretty intent on becoming when I was a kid. My mother tells me that when I was five, my earliest aspirations were to marry the garbage man (I’m told he was very nice to me). I then wanted to be a geologist, an archeologist, a paleontologist (I call that my “gist” period). Then I wanted to be a linguist. Then an architect. My father convinced me that my talent was in mathematics (it really wasn’t), and so I instead became an engineer. Then a lawyer.

I may do something else, yet. For the record, I never did marry the garbage man.

Me: When you’re having a really bad day, what are some things that will most certainly cheer you up?

KW: My three-year-old daughter, Alex, has an amazing sense of humour for her age, and is sensitive enough to know just what to say to get me to laugh. I have a kind husband who calms me down in a heartbeat. And of course, there’s always my camera, if I need to just get away and focus (hah!) on something else.

Me: You’re from Trinidad and Tobago. I’ve never been there before, can you describe it in a sentence?

KW: The Republic of Trinidad & Tobago is a country of great beauty, friendship, warmth, tropical Caribbean beaches, fabulous food, and incredible music. And I miss it terribly.

Me: A good and bad thing about living in Texas?

KW: A good thing: Texas, and in particular, Houston, is a very easy place to live. It’s really inexpensive, the people are quite friendly, the availability of culture — ballet, symphony, theatre, sports of all kinds — is impressive, and Houston’s variety of truly first class restaurants is its best kept secret.

A bad thing: Texas is a relatively conservative state, and for a multiracial, liberal family like ours, living here can sometimes be challenging.

Me: How did your love for photography begin?

KW: Well, many years (and many pounds!) ago, I used to model. I loved the magic that the photographers could make with their cameras, and I befriended one particular fashion photographer who gave me advice on buying my first camera, and helped me get started. I love shooting pretty much everything, but my first love, largely because of this photographer, is portraiture.

Me: What’s your favourite way to spend time with your daughter?

KW: Alex is actually a pretty great model, so we have a great time playing around with my camera. Lately, we’ve also taken to having chats at coffeehouses (I have cappuccino, she has very weak, milky, sweet tea), and we “discuss what’s going on in our lives.” I tell people that “language” is her superpower, because she’s always had a real facility with communication — so hanging out and talking with her is my absolute favourite thing to do.

Vote for Chookooloonks

Karen’s site has also been nominated for “Best Photography Blog” at the Blogger’s Choice Awards. Go vote for her!


Blog Loving – So Close

10 December 2007

So Close, by Tertia Albertyn

As part of my usual Monday posts on Blogging, Photography and Design, I’m also reviewing some blogs that I love reading, and greatly admire.

Tertia Albertyn writes at So Close – a website that charts her life after infertility, with twins!

She battled through 4 years of infertility and went through nine IVFs. In Jan 2004, her son Ben was born prematurely at 26 weeks, and passed away 10 days later. In Jan 2005, she gave birth to twins, Adam and Kate, who are now almost 3 years old.

She writes about her daily adventures as mother, wife, author, blogger – her writing makes me choke with laughter, her everyday activities make me chuckle with recognition, and her infertility story breaks my heart and makes every molecule in me weep bitterly.

It’s a shattering and devastating journey, yet hilarious, wonderful, mischievous, and full of everyday joy.

As I pour through her site, my god, the way she tackles the issues and realities of her life, the way she bares her soul to the world… makes me pale with respect and awe. I truly am inspired.

Tertia has written a book about her journey, entitled So Close : Infertile and addicted to hope. It’s coming out on Amazon in April 2008. But I’ve found her book on Fishpond and Amazon UK, where you can place a pre-order.

I managed to grab some of her time and ask her a few questions :

Interview

Karen: On your blog, you write about your “life after infertility”. Sharing such an incredible, powerful, moving story with the world must have some blessings/rewards! What is the best thing that has ever happened because of your blog?

Tertia: Wow, so many good things. I guess the obvious best thing was getting a book deal out of it. A South African publisher read my blog and decided they liked the way I wrote and felt that I had a compelling story to tell, and offered me a book deal. I use the phrase ‘book deal’ in its figurative sense because in South Africa you do not write a book for money, you write it for love. There is NO money in writing a book in this country. But that’s ok, I wanted to share my story.

The real ‘best thing’ about my blog is the amazing connections I have made with people from all over the world. I thrive on it; it inspires me, motivates me, grounds me, connects me, teaches me, humbles me. Having a blog is like a 24 hour on call best friend, nurse, doctor, shrink, shoulder to cry on and friend to rant to. I have ‘met’ the most amazing people. After my babies were born, I got gifts from all over the world, the USA, Europe, Japan, Israel, New Zealand… it was amazing.

Karen: When you’re having a crap day, what are the things most likely to crack a smile on your face?

Tertia: The crazy things my kids say. They come up with the funniest things. Three is a damn cute age. They are naughty little shits, but they are damn cute too. I think I will keep them.

Karen: I know almost nothing about South Africa, except that you’ve got hot rugby players. Please summarise South Africa in one sentence!

Tertia: We also have hot bloggers.
South Africa is a country is country of intense contrasts, so much opportunity alongside so much poverty, so much optimism alongside so much fear (crime), so new yet so old, so first world, yet so ‘third world’, so sophisticated yet so rural. Black and white. Old and young. Rich valleys, lush forests, dry plains. Such contrasts. A painful past, a hopeful future.

Oh, you wanted just a sentence. So difficult. I am so passionate about my country. South Africa is a land of hope and opportunity.

Karen: What is the best and worst thing about being living in South Africa?

Tertia: The best thing – being in Africa. The rich earth, the space, the weather. This is a beautiful country.

The worst thing – without doubt, the crime. We have a terrible problem with crime here. Just about the worst in the world.

Karen: Do you speak any other languages than English?

Tertia: When I grew up in the apartheid years, we were forced to do Afrikaans at school. So I speak English and Afrikaans (which is very similar to Dutch / Flemish)

Karen: I haven’t read your book “So Close : Infertile and addicted to hope” yet, but I loved reading your thoughts on it. What made you decide to write a book and share your story?

Tertia: As I mentioned above, a publisher approached me with an offer. Everyone had been telling me for years to write a book, but I could only write it when I had my ‘happily ever after’. I started writing the book when my twins were a few months old. It was only once I had my final chapter that I could start the book.

The really exciting news is that the book should be released in the UK next April. Which means it will EVENTUALLY be on Amazon.

Vote for So Close

Tertia’s site has also been nominated for “Best Parenting Blog” and “Hottest Mommy Blogger” at the Blogger’s Choice Awards. Vote for her! She needs some love!

(I’m also nominated for Best Parenting Blog, Best Design Blog, Best Blog of All Time, and Hottest Mommy Blogger – but you can vote for more than one person in each category!)


Blog Loving – The Food Pornographer

26 November 2007

The Food Pornographer

As part of my usual Monday posts on Blogging, Photography and Design, I’m also reviewing some blogs that I love reading, and greatly admire.

Although I don’t blog exclusively about food, I am most certainly a foodie at heart. I LOVE MY FOOD, and I just LOVE food blogs. So, I’d like you to meet The Food Pornographer.

If you’re looking for super-stylised, magazine-perfect, unblemished photography – you won’t find it here. This site is about REAL FOOD. Real food sitting on a plate, steaming and glistening, dripping with oil and sauces. Real food that you can actually buy, or cook.

As I scroll through her photographs, every olfactory gland in my body erupts with a craving desire. My eyes swell as large as my stomach. I can SMELL that plate of hot fried noodles. I can TASTE that steak burger.

Things I love about this blog

I love the name of the blog. It’s hilarious. And as you look through her photos, there’s that extra dimension that adds originality, humour and a tongue-in-cheek wit that you don’t find in most food blogs.

I love her spontaneous photography – all pictures are taken with a completely ordinary camera. No special lenses or fancy lights.

I love her quirky everyday stories – with everything pretty much centred on FOOD!

I love her honesty. She tells it like it is. If the meal was awful, she’ll say so and explain why. Likewise, if it’s great, she’ll rave about it, and your mouth will water.

So here are a few questions that I’ve been dying to ask her!

Interview

Karen: You obviously take a lot of pictures of your food while you are eating out. Does anyone ever ask you what you are doing? Do they think you are a government health inspector? Or a spy from another restaurant? What do you usually tell them?

TFP: Funnily enough, no one’s ever asked me! I do get strange looks from customers at adjacent tables. Occasionally I get laughed at by people who notice what I’m doing. But as long as they’re not getting in the way of my shots, I can put up with it.

I do my thing, then put the camera away and eat my food. I try not to take photos when I know staff are watching though, just in case they get paranoid for whatever reason and tell me to stop.

As long as no one prevents me from taking photos, I don’t really care what they think. If anyone were to ask me what I was doing though, I would tell them I have a food blog (as I do when people at parties ask).

Karen: What is the most disgusting thing you have ever eaten?

TFP: I bought a Filet O Fish from a McDonalds recently – the fish was all shrivelled up and BROWN – it smelled absolutely revolting.

Karen: The beautiful way you write about your food reveals you are a woman of deep passions. Do you make noises – when you eat?

TFP: I think I eat very quietly. But I do tend to eat too quickly and burn my tongue on hot food.

Karen: Do you get to eat for free because you do reviews?

TFP: I was given a freebie meal once by a restaurant, but then I felt like I couldn’t write freely about what I thought of the meal. I didn’t like that feeling of being ethically compromised – feeling obliged to only write good things.

I’d love to be paid to write my reviews, but so far that hasn’t happened. I just write for my own pleasure and the pleasure of my readers – for free!

Karen: At your funeral, what meal will be served to the guests?

TFP: Hmmm. Hard to decide if it would be Western or Asian food. It would be cool to have guests eat some of my favourite dishes from childhood – lotus root soup, pongteh, minchee, Malaysian-style chicken curry and rice pork chok with all the trimmings.

But then a barbecue would be great too. A very meaty barbie, with sausages, lamp chops, pork chops, marinated chicken thighs, barbecued onions and garlic field mushrooms. Mmmmm.

Vote for The Food Pornographer!

The Food Pornographer has been nominated for “Best Food Blog” and “Best Photography Blog” in the 2008 round of the Bloggers Choice Awards (where I’ve also been nominated in four categories).

If you’d like to vote for The Food Pornographer, or me, or just surf some amazing blogs in a wide range of categories, then:

1) Go to http://www.bloggerschoiceawards.com
NOTE: If you have already voted for me you won’t need to create a new user account – just skip to step 3.

2) Create an account – you do have to fill in everything, except the “choose a picture”, and you do have to give a real e-mail address. A message will appear telling you to check your e-mail for a confirmation message. Mine arrived in less than thirty seconds, and you click on the link in the message.

3) On the right hand side of the screen is a “search” box. Type in the word “FoodPornographer” or “KarenCheng” (all one word).

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 we’ve have been nominated for. Choose any one of the four nominations.

5) It will load up a little profile of the website, and there will be a yellow “vote” button. Hit the vote button! It will turn to a set of question marks, and then you can just quickly click on the other categories as well.

Next week – more blog loving!


Out and about the blogosphere

19 April 2007

Since everyone’s talking about it…

I’ve been quite fascinated by the recent Top 100 Australian Blogs Index. An index calculated by a site’s Alexa Australia rank, Alexa Global rank and Technorati rank. Turns out I’m ranked at 14! How cool!!

What’s more interesting is uncovering some awesome Australian blogs!

Next is the Blogger’s Choice Awards. Very different to other awards – in that the votes are calculated in real time, all nominations are listed, and you can see who’s voting for who. Great for browsing new blogs too.

I’ve been nominated for Best Blog Design, Best Blog of All Time, Best Parenting Blog, and err.. Hottest Mommy Blogger. I’m doing rather badly at the moment, oh well. Maybe I should ease off the birthday cakes and start posting some naughty pics? Bwahaha.

Lots of people are emailing me, asking me about all kinds of stuff. I’m terribly sorry if I don’t reply. The guilt is really getting me down.

If it helps you, I’ve put up a Google Search (to search my site). It’s on my side bar, you might have to scroll down to see it.


4th in Australia’s Best Blog!!

6 December 2005

Big congratulations to Jodi Rose of Singing Bridges for winning the title of Australia’s Best Blog and $10,000 in cash!

Her blog is a travel diary, creating a “sonic sculpture, playing the cables of stay-cabled and suspension bridges as musical instruments” and her blog was announced as “an excellent example of the unlimited nature of blogs”. How cool!

The winner and finalists :

1. http://www.singingbridges.net/diary
2. http://www.loobylu.com
3. http://www.ausculture.com/blog
4. http://www.karencheng.com.au/
5. http://www.problogger.net
6. http://www.trollhattansaab.net
7. http://www.thepodcastnetwork.com/tpn
8. http://www.hearye.org
9. http://www.browncardigan.com
10. http://antonyloewenstein.blogspot.com/
11. http://www.camwheeler.com/wine/

There’s an article at the Sydney Morning Herald and commentary about the awards and judging process at Razor (The Age).


Blogday in Perth

1 September 2005

Last night I dragged myself into Northbridge to join the Perth event for Blogday. I was feeling pretty crook and didn’t stay too long.
But it was fun. I met a few familiar faces. Chatted briefly. Had a few laughs. Had a drink. And even picked up an award + silver platter trophy! It was all very casual and tongue in cheek. Very funny.

So I thought I’d give my “5 recommended blogs” a Perth flavour.

Robert – Delicious insight into Australian politics. Brilliantly laced with his dark humour and wit. He also picked up the Lifetime Achievement award and silver teapot trophy (of which I was rather envious).

Man That Cooks – Local food blogger. Very entertaining writing. Very yummy photos. And he makes me laugh and laugh.

Decaffeinated – Another very entertaining, very funny, well written site that’s full of great stories about macs, geek stuff and life.

Simon – A stunning photoblog capturing the breathtaking colours, shapes and forms of Perth.

Natalija – Lovely friend of mine. Beautiful writing, observations and reflections about life, people, art and design. Inspiring.


Bag Blogs

24 February 2005

Oooh I love it! Pursueing.com – A blog site completely and utterly about purses, handbags, totes, clutches! Complete with pics, links and a little write up. Updated regularly too.

The Bag Blog is also pretty cool.


Riding, volunteering or donating?

26 August 2014

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013, photo by Ze Wong

Photo of me riding 200km over 2 days for The Ride To Conquer Cancer, October 2013. Photo by Ze Photography.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that for the past two years, I rode in The Ride to Conquer Cancer to raise money for cancer research.

The event is a 200km ride over two days, and is designed specifically for people who are NOT already experienced cyclists. It’s for newbies and beginner cyclists!

In 2012, when I took up the challenge to RIDE 200kms, I was very motivated about raising cancer awareness and raising funds for cancer research. This cause is something that is very close to my heart, since I nearly lost my husband to cancer, and because I have lost a good friend, who was, like me, a mother of young children. I wanted to make something good come out of my fear and loss.

But I was also deeply concerned that I could not actually do it. 200km seemed like a long way compared to walking the kids 2km to school! People in my extended family were actually counselling me against it: “Can you actually do it???”

Well, as it turned out… YES I COULD!

It was a fantastic experience… it completely transformed my views about personal fitness. It was a brilliant journey to go on. I learned so much about myself, about bikes, about fundraising, and the power of working as a collective. Over the two years, The Ride to Conquer Cancer event has raised approximately $39.1 million in Australia (the proceeds go directly to research facilities in each state) – which is amazing!

But this year, I am not riding. The truth is… I’ve now picked up a whole lot of other sports like running, netball, yoga and strength training. So while I’m still pretty fit and active, I haven’t actually been on my bike since October last year – 10 months ago! I just don’t have time to do the training.

But my dedication to the RTCC, and the cause, has not diminished, so I am still participating, as a Volunteer/Crew Member. I’m going to be finding out what it takes “behind the scenes” to make a huge event like this work. And of course, I am hoping to motivate YOU! So I’ll be reporting on what I see and do. Of course, I’ll be doing the Perth RTTC… but there are also rides in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

What can you do?

Ride!
I did it, so you definitely can do it too! You can sign up with a friend, or you can sign up by yourself and the RTCC people (volunteers like me) will match you up with a team of new friends you can train and ride with.

When I first started out, I was a complete beginner cyclist. A total noob! I started training with a 15 year old, rusted, mountain bike. Read about my whole journey from when I first started my cycling journey!

Volunteer?
The Ride to Conquer Cancer organisers are looking for people to join the volunteer and crew teams. It’s the best way to experience the event while you support the riders on their journey! Pop over to the Ride to Conquer Cancer Crew Page to find out more.

Donate!
If you can’t participate or volunteer, what about making a small (or large) donation that goes immediately and directly towards cancer research. 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, or just do it anonymously. And you get a receipt, so you can claim this against your tax.

More coming soon!


Win $500 to spend at French Connection

25 August 2014

Win a $500 French Connection Voucher

Hi everyone! It’s been ages since I’ve run a competition on my blog.

So I’m super excited to share that I’ve teamed up with French Connection to give my readers a chance to win a $500 voucher to spend at any French Connection store. Woo hoo!

All you have to do is click here to the competition page, fill in a few details, and make sure you click the check box to subscribe to the French Connection Style News (that’s a must if you want to enter the competition).

Scroll down to the end of this post to read the terms and conditions.

Competition ends next Sunday, on the 31st August, so be quick!

Here are my picks from the new season collection, you know, “if” I won.

Win a $500 French Connection Voucher

I’m loving the tropical prints with the strong black and white basics.

Win a $500 French Connection Voucher

The sweetheart sweater definitely has my name written on it. And I’d love to try this slinky jumpsuits and floral print skirt too.

French Connection is a fab store to stock up on your work basics like blazers, shirts, pants, blouses. Heck with $500 I might just buy a real leather jacket.

There’s so much good stuff, do pop over to have a look!

Have fun and good luck!

xxx

Competition Terms and Conditions
The competition closes on Sunday 31st August at 11.59pm.

Competition participants must subscribe to the French Connection database to enter. Users who have not subscribed to French Connection Australia will not be entered into the competition. Each entrant must opt-in to receiving Style News and promotions from French Connection Australia.

One entry per person is permitted. One winner will be chosen at random from all eligible entries received before the closing date.

The winner will be announced on Tuesday 2nd September. This gift voucher will be redeemable for 12 months and is only for an Australian store and cannot be used online (sorry to all my international readers!)


PANDORA’s Letters, Numbers and Symbols

31 July 2014

Brought to you by Nuffnang and PANDORA

I’m so excited to be sharing about PANDORA’s latest range of charms on my blog today!

I have borrowed a whole bunch of different bracelets, rings and a selection of charms to play with and style up. And at the end of my loan, I’ll be able to pick a few to keep. You can check out my picks below.

PANDORA has been around for over 30 years, but it was only in 2000 that the Danish company launched its charm bracelet concept. The idea is pretty simple: you can create customised and personalised jewellery by choosing from a range of charms, beads, and crystals that are symbolic and meaningful to you.

This week, PANDORA is launching a new range of 14ct rose gold and sterling silver charms of letters, numbers and symbols.

PANDORA’s Letters, Numbers and Symbols

These are some of the charms that I really liked.

You know, when I first got into creating my own charm bracelets (last year?), I used to struggle with the indecision of trying to choose a charm collection that personifies my character and interests. There were charm designs of cats, dogs, owls, love hearts, musical notes, hobbies, natures, flowers, special occasions… and more. It was quite tricky to start the process of choosing.

Obviously, with the new letters and numbers charms, it’s much easier to create a meaningful collection of charms (especially for indecisive people like me).

I chose my initials “K” and the “C”. And I’m thinking next time I’ll get the first letter of my husband’s name and each of my kids too… K, A, C, S, L.

But I’ll have to make sure I put them in the right order, or I could end up wearing “SLACK” or “LACKS” on my wrist haha!

PANDORA’s Letters, Numbers and Symbols

I adore the colour of the rose gold charms, especially with a bit of extra sparkle from the cubic zirconias. And I think they look great when worn with the silver charms to create a modern, mixed metal look.

I really liked the symbols too. The key was my favourite. To me it represents the unlocking of doors – future doors, doors of opportunity, doors of happiness, doors of success. And I also like the clover that expresses good luck – but I see it more as a symbol of “good blessings”… because I have many to be thankful for.

I’m super pleased with my final choices!

PANDORA’s Letters, Numbers and Symbols

The mixed metal look, the sparkly charms, the shiny silver bangle and the white leather bracelet wrap … they all fit really well with my style. I really enjoyed wearing them.

I’ve styled them here with my faux fur coat by Shinn (Korea), blush silk shirt by Sarah (Korea), black needle jeans by Acne Studios, gold stud heels from Boohoo, crossbody bag by Alexander Wang, rings by Wanderlust + Co.

The new range is in store now. Or you can check them out on the PANDORA website.

Enter to Win!

There is also a competition to go with the launch!

Express your own personal style when you #sayitwithPANDORA and enter for your chance to win 1 of 3 bangles with letter, number and symbol charms in 14ct rose gold and sterling silver. Head over to the PANDORA website here to check it out!

xxx


Being a Book Nerd, at Northside Books

30 July 2014

The other evening, I found myself right smack bang in the middle of the city with 3 hours to kill.

It was 4:30pm, I had just finished a meeting and I was going to have dinner with some girlfriends, nearby at 7:30pm.

OMG what am I going to do with 3 whole hours?! It was such a rare and extraordinary moment that I had no idea what to do with myself!

I decided to pop into Northbridge, to visit a friend who owns a café and another friend who owns a fashion boutique. I thought I would do a bit of shopping and wander around to discover some new shops in the area. Who knows what treasures I would find?

But I didn’t make it to the fashion stores.

I wandered into a book store, planning to have a quick look… and I didn’t leave until the very last minute!

Northside Books, Northbridge

Oh my I was in literary heaven. I haven’t stepped into an independent specialty bookstore in YEARS! There was such a diverse range of classics, modern literature, art, design, architecture, cooking, history, children’s books, cards and more. It was such a great little bookstore, tantalising with the promise of treasure that I was craving for.

I have a mental list of “Books I Want Read” in my brain which went into overdrive. So many books I need to buy! I was quivering with excitement! Where do I start?!

The guy who owns the bookstore (James) was exceedingly helpful. He was friendly and charming, full of excellent suggestions, and not judgemental at all haha! He was such a quirky, book nerd (sorry James!) but exactly the kind of person for a bit of fun, bookish chat… especially if you’re like me, a closet book nerd.

Northside Books, Northbridge

I have found my next book, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. Winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize. Can’t wait to start!

In 2000, I used to work in the city, near a speciality bookstore. Every couple of weeks I would pop in and say “Please sell me some great literature!” The store owner would pass something to me (any age, any size, any genre), and I would devour it gleefully. Looks like I will be restarting this old habit again. I haven’t been *this* thrilled to read literature in years.

Back then I made a little goal – to read one Man Booker Literary Prize Winner every year. I think I only have read 3. Oh the disappointment. What have I been doing all those years? I have lots of catching up to do. It kind of made me regret reading the whole Twilight series. *Face palm*

Northside Books, Northbridge

I also did something else.

I asked if he could recommend a book for my 11 year old son, something that will hopefully inspire him to read more literature.

You see, my son reads a lot. He’s read all the popular novels and book series aimed at young boys, like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, Eragon, Hunger Games, Ranger’s Apprentice, Orson Scott Card, Assassin’s Creed, Matthew Riley, Dan Brown… and many, many more. So much so, he’s moving away from young boy fiction and headed towards adult action/thriller/military/mystery fiction?! The kid is unstoppable. He’ll read anything “interesting”. Which is why I want to throw some literary classics at him.

Yeah ok, I’m half boasting, but I’m also utterly terrified about all this. In the beginning, I tried to censor the books he read, but I couldn’t keep up with him! I take 3 weeks to get though a book and he takes 3 days. Puts me to shame.

So while James the bookstore owner was recommending me some books… two other very well-read gentlemen in the store (who were just random customers) overheard me and started to drop some suggestions into our conversation too.

Frankenstein, Lord of the Flies, Catcher in the Rye, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Of Mice and Men, Jasper Jones, Cloud Street, Animal Farm, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, Huckleberry Finn, Treasure Island…

Soon the 4 of us – an unlikely combination of complete strangers 1) book nerd bookshop owner 2) mature gentleman 3) young hipster dude 4) Asian fashion blogger/mother – were standing around talking about all the classic books of the past that we’ve read as young folk. And throwing around our 2-5 word verdict on whether the book would suit my son! Too dark. Too slow moving. Not enough action. Language isn’t modern enough. More of a romance. Bit too sad.

It was such a refreshing, weirdly enjoyable and totally unexpected experience for me. Haha who would have thought I would spend my free 3 hours doing this??

I settled on Animal Farm by George Orwell (which I read when I was 13?), Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson (adventure/action), Of Mice and Men (which I’ve always wanted to read), and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep By Philip K. Dick (again, I’ve always wanted to read this book, and I’m not sure if I bought this book for myself or my son!).

Northside Books, Northbridge

Anyway, James doesn’t know I’m writing about his bookstore on my blog. I thought I’d surprise him. It’s a ridiculously hard time for bookstore owners!

I kinda feel bad for all the times I bought my books online for $5 less. Or even drove all the way to Kmart to buy it for $2 less. I love love LOVE the old fashion feel of holding a book in my hand, I adored my trips to hip, indie bookstores in the past – so here’s my support to them!

The name of the bookstore is Northside Books, Northbridge.

They even have a little café inside (with snacks!), places where you can sit inside the bookstore and café tables to sit on the footpath outside.

It’s on 212 William Street, Northbridge, almost on the corner of James Street, opposite the famous Brass Monkey Hotel.

So if you happen to be a closet book nerd (like me) and if you happen to be passing by, do pop in and say hi!

(And check out a couple of Charles Dickens books on his sale racks for $5!)

Or pop into their Northside Books Facebook page!

 


Offerings of Peace and Manipulation

23 May 2014

My 5 year old Liam has been going through some behavioural issues lately.

Meaning, he’s been soooo UNBELIEVABLY naughty!

Hubby and I use “time out” as our method of discipline. So Liam gets removed from the room, the activity, the meal, the snack, the computer, the TV, the toys, whatever… and he has to sit in his room to cool down, until he shows me that his behaviour has changed. He’s usually pretty good at changing his behaviour, correcting the problem and saying sorry. In fact sometimes he’s so good at it, that it borders on manipulation.

What does he do while he’s waiting to come out?

THIS.

Peace Offerings by Liam

It’s called EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL.

Can you see how his TEARS have smudged the texta lines in the second flower, and my hair?

He often draws the person who puts him into his room (ie: me) and he draws all my favourite objects, colours, love hearts, flowers, happy suns, and himself. Obviously, it’s a kind of love letter to me. But I’m sure he does this to make himself feel better and to prove that I still love him and he still loves me.

Peace Offerings by Liam

In fact he does *so* many of these drawings, that I am getting bored with them!

I now just throw away the identical and mediocre ones.

Is that bad of me? Can you believe it? I’m *this* close to being one of those mothers who say, “This love letter is not good enough! Draw me another one!”

Peace Offerings by Liam

Here you can see that his technique and penmanship is evolving. As is his access to a wider variety of drawing mediums. And his use of different fonts.

I receive about 2 or 3 of them a day. Depending on how naughty he is per day.

He just leaves them around for me to find. They get stuck on my fridge. Left on the kitchen counter. Slipped under my door. Put on my pillow. Stuffed into my shoe.

It’s adorable and all. But I actually have to force myself to ignore them… and focus on the “behavioural issue” first.

Or else he’ll think that he can be as naughty as he wants… all he has to do is draw a cute picture for me and I’ll let him off!

So when he comes to me with big, teary, dopey, sorry eyes, and he hands me the cutest and most thoughtful picture I have ever seen, drawn with my favourite colours and omg his tears… I have to force myself to give him a BLANK look and say something like, “Ok, let’s talk about your behaviour. Do you think it was a good idea to spit on your brother?!?”

It’s very difficult to NOT crack a smile.

Bitter. Sweet. Boiling temper. Melted heart. This parenting thing is so bloody tricky.

Let’s just hope he doesn’t see this blog entry and finds out how much I totally love his drawings. Or else I’ll have no chance with his behaviour!


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!