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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.


A Squeaky Clean with the Clensure Rotating Facial Cleanser

27 May 2016

Over the last few weeks I’ve been testing out a facial cleansing brush.

Yes I know! I don’t even own an electric toothbrush! How could I possibly enjoy using an electronic face brush thing?!

The kind folks at Aniqa (online Korean Beauty Store based in Australia) sent me one to try out.

I’ve always been a bit scared of these cleaning brushes. They remind me of paint stripers. Wall plaster sanders. Wood flooring polishers. Electrical power tools. And therefore I associate them with words like “strip, harsh, strong, scrape, grind, raw” which are not good words when it comes to skin care.

But hey, these brushes have been in the market for years, lots of big brands are getting on board and releasing their own brushes… so they must work for some people.

I’m always up for a challenge, but most of all, I’m curious and I wanted to know… what was the big deal about these brushes?

Clensure Professional Facial Cleanser RC

This is what I tested, the Clensure Rotating Facial Cleanser RC. The unit comes with two cleaning heads, a soft brush and a soft sponge. You can also get a massage attachment which aids in circulation and absorption of products such as serums and essences.

The first thing I did was find out how it compared with the other facial brushes on the market.

The Clensure brush is made in Korea. Some of the others are made in China, Germany and USA.

The Clensure brush is more affordable at AUD $84, than other big name brands, which range from AUD $150 – $285.

The Clensure unit rotates a soft brush (or soft sponge attachment), while other brushes vibrate, pulse or have a special “sonic frequency movement” which involves different oscillations of outer and inner brushes.

The Clensure brush uses AA Batteries. So this makes it much easier to travel with. No need to take power cords and special plug adaptors.

The Clensure people claim (printed in the instructions) that the brush has a waterproof design, so you can use it in the shower. However I haven’t tested this claim! Some other brands/face brushes are waterproof too.

Clensure Professional Facial Cleanser RC

My thoughts on the brush.

The brush was surprisingly soft. I was shocked. It was almost too soft.

I expected it to be scrubbier and bristlier, like a floor cleaning brush for a car garage?? (Only joking) But this Clensure brush felt like it was made up of cashmere teddy bears or something.

When the brush spins over my face, it feels ticklish and I don’t actually think that it’s doing a good job. But once I wash away my foaming cleanser, the result is pretty good.

The brush is soft enough that I am happy to use it every day, or every second day.

My thoughts on the sponge and massage attachment.

I like the sponge attachment!

Honestly I can’t feel the difference in the results after using the sponge or brush – they both leave my skin feeling clean, smooth and soft.

The massage attachment feels a bit weird, but leaves me with a nice feeling after. Like my face had a nice gentle massage. I use it after I apply my essence (or after I remove a face sheet mask) and run the massage attachment all over my face for 60 seconds.

I’ve found that if I run the attachment under hot water first, the massage balls are nice and warming for my face – which is super nice!

Clensure Professional Facial Cleanser RC

My thoughts on the clean.

It is a gentle clean, but it’s a good, deep clean.

My skin feels squeaky clean, smoother and tighter afterwards.

My face gets a bit oily in my T-zones, so I try to focus on those areas.

It does a good job cleaning in the crease of my nose, where I get lots of build up of oil, suncream and makeup from the day.

It’s a pretty quick process too. I use a makeup remover first. Then I only use the brush for about 60 seconds.

I works really well for me.

My thoughts on long term usage

I usually do an exfoliation scrub once a week… and I rub quite hard. I also buff quite hard with a towel too. That’s how I usually get my squeaky clean feel – the manual way.  This cleansing brush action is much more gentle than how I scrub my face.

So, using this brush replaces the need for me to have a weekly exfoliation scrub.

My face seems to respond nicely to the brushing. I have no breakouts, no dryness, no pain or sensitivity. I am super happy to use this long term.

But I have a feeling that I’ll get a bit lazy and skip the daily usage and end up using the brush once or twice a week – which I think will work fine for me too.

 

Conclusion

I really like using my cleaning brush. It’s an easy way to keep my face smooth and radiant, on a daily basis. And I’m really happy that I have one!

However, it’s not really a must-have item. It’s like an electric vs regular toothbrush, if you are happy to do it manually, then stick with what you like.

Buuuuut I would definitely TREAT myself with one, for my Birthday, for Christmas, or if there was a special promotion.

And I would definitely put it on my wishlist of presents I’d like from my kids/husband for my next Birthday or Christmas!

A lot of online reviewers are fanatical about their cleaning brushes… and I might now be one of them :)

 

Special Promotion

The team at Aniqa have a special promotion for all my readers!

Purchase a Clensure RC Rotating Facial Cleanser and…

Receive a free Mizon Rice Real Cleansing Foam 150ml (suitable for all skin types) a perfect cleanser for using with the cleaning brush!

Just enter the promo code “karensblog” at the shopping cart. There will be no added item on your order, but the team will see the code and add the cleanser to your order box. Promotion ends 1 July 2016.

Hope you enjoyed my review, I’m really pleased that I managed to stick to a skin care routine for 3 weeks!

Have an amazing weekend everyone!

xxx


Nab a Bargain at Revolve

24 May 2016

Equipment Shirt Flatlay

Everyone loves a good sale.

I can let my inner cheapskate run wild!

I try not to pay full price on my designer and high street items these days. I usually try to wait for the sale.

It all takes a bit of planning though. I always do a bit of online stalking. I always fill up my Wishlist/Favourites bag. Then when a sale arrives, I have to be quick to grab the ones I want!

So an email landed in my inbox announcing…

Revolve are having a 20% Off Everything Sale for Australian customers for 3 days!

(There are a few brand exceptions though.)

 

Best brands for the good stuff, and my favourite brands on sale:

Equipment – An excellent time to grab a classic silk shirt! I bought the striped shirt (pictured) at the last sale.

IRO – French brand. Best for casual, luxe wear. I bought a t-shirt!

Lover – Australian label. Beauuuuuutiful lace dresses.

Lover + Friends – LA brand. Super pretty dresses and tops. Simple and flattering designs. Affordable.

Tularosa – LA brand. Very pretty dresses and playsuits with a Californian desert festival feel. Ugh, I want so many dresses.

Rebecca Minkoff – Fabulous, on trend bags. Great leather. Will last you a long time. I have 2 RB bags.

Viktoria + Woods – Australian label. Lovely minimal styles, and really good looking knits.

Hope you find something you love!

xxx

(Pictured is the Equipment silk shirt I bought during the last Revolve sale, One Teaspoon shorts, my old Converse sneakers)


From Affordable Knits to Luxe Knits

18 May 2016

Knit and Boots

After weeks of research, I recently picked up a new knit jumper by Splendid (on sale at Revolve).

I’ve become rather fussy with my knits lately;

I often tend to buy more affordable knits from high street brands (under $70), just so I can get the right colour and cut. I am always painfully careful to take care of them, washing them gently, folding them and packing them away carefully at the end of winter. I want them to last a long time, even though the time I wear them only adds up to 5 months of rotated use.

However by the end of the second season, my knits look pretty daggy. Do you find that too? The fabric is often pilled, the hem folds upwards or the collar warps. I often have pilling on my boob area (which looks hell weird) and at the sides where my arms brush past.

It doesn’t surprise me – that’s just the wear and tear of clothes – but seriously, some are so bad that I have to get rid of them. I have so many B-team knits!

I thought I hit the jackpot last year, with my $40 Uniqlo cotton/cashmere jumper, but alas, the collar looks a bit stretched already and I have a light stain on tummy area. My bamboo/cashmere (from BambooBody, my review here) knits still look amazing though. I totally recommend those.

Anyway, this is my first luxe jumper at AUD$280 (eeek!), but I got it for $150 on sale.

It is SO beautiful!

It is 40% cotton, 35% wool, 25% nylon – a cotton/wool blend, which I prefer, because I do find 100% wool to be a bit itchy on my skin.

I love the weight, the softness, the feel of the yarn, the cut… and the arm length is just perfect for me. I just adore clothes from Splendid. I think the quality of most their items (I have about 4 tops!) is amazing.

Here’s hoping it won’t become a B-team knit soon!


My Kid’s Favourite Banana Smoothie

11 May 2016

Banana Smoothie

I don’t really like banana smoothies, but I often make them because my kids love them.

It’s also good way to use up bananas, either fresh or frozen. Plus it’s a great way for the kids to get some extra calcium and protein in their diets.

Truth is, I’m writing the recipe here because my kids can now make smoothies for themselves.

So this way I can just tell them to look up the recipe on my blog and I don’t have to shout out the recipe from another room, haha!

I’ve found that the simplest recipe is always the best.

Simple Banana Smoothie (Makes about 2 cups)

1 large banana
1 cup milk
1 cup crushed ice
1 tablespoon of honey
2 tablespoons of plain yogurt (or vanilla ice cream if you’re feeling naughty)

Enjoy!


Stripes, Stripes, Baby

10 May 2016

Equipment Stripes

Cold mornings, puddles on the road, hot matcha lattes… the change of season is definitely here, and all I really want to do is curl up under a fluffy blanket and read a book!

I’ve decided to invest in a few shirts this Autumn – so that I’m not always wearing my chambray / denim ones.

I picked up this Equipment Stripe Shirt (which was on sale!) from Revolve Clothing.

Oh my, what a gorgeous shirt. The silk is lovely, the cut is just beautiful (I’m wearing XS), and the black and marshmallow stripe pattern is a timeless classic.

I also love the way this shirt will easily see me from day to night.

Equipment Stripes

This is me, cracking up, as my sister snaps a photo of me, while pointing out that I forgot to steam the front of my shirt. Gotta love sisters.

Equipment Stripes

Equipment shirt | Frame Jeans | Acne Studio Boots | Rebecca Minkoff Backpack | The Horse Watch | Totally Jewel Necklace

It’s an excellent time to buy winter gear at the moment, because most northern hemisphere stores are trying to clear out their winter stock as they head into summer.

Do pop over to check out the Revolve Sale here!

Happy shopping!


Reading The Classics: Great Expectations

24 April 2016

Last month, I mentioned that I was on a quest to read some classic literature.

Now OK, I know what you’re thinking… it sounds super dorky… bordering on pretentious.

But hey, personally I think TV is rubbish, so let’s all put away our judgey hats shall we!

Great Expectations

I finished up Great Expectations by Charles Dickens the other evening.

I actually wrote out 7 huge paragraphs about my thoughts on the book, but decided to condense it all into 7 snappy sentences, since this is, like a blog and all. I mean, I almost titled this post, “7 things you need to know about Great Expectations”.

1) The novel is NOT : a cute, children’s story like Oliver Twist. (That’s what I thought it was!)

2) Pace of the story : Slow and rambly to start. The story picks up in Chapter 20!

3) How’s the old fashioned language? A bit tricky to read. I had to re-read some sentences a few times to get the hang of it. But by Chapter 3, I was all good.

 

4) Words I didn’t know: Perspicuity, remonstrance, penitentials, farinaceous.

5) The ah-ha moment at Chapter 19: We were FINALLY told WHY the story is called Great Expectations. I was tempted to google it, but I was happy I hung in there.

6) Plot Summary: A story about a good-hearted boy with lofty goals; an unexpected gift that changed his life; how he rejected his family and friends, and his moral journey through life after that.

7) Best parts: I adored the language and the found the story quite compelling in the end. It had some unexpected twists and surprises.

I liked it and might pick up Tale of Two Cities next time.


Bellabox Beauty Goodies

4 April 2016

Hi everyone!

Today I’m reviewing the subscription beauty box service, Bellabox.

They sent me a box to test out and I’m going to try my best to take an objective point of view and answer the biggest question in my head (and maybe yours):

Are these boxes a waste of money??

Bellabox Subscription Beauty Box

Bellabox was founded in 2011. I believe they were one of the first and one of the most popular subscription beauty boxes in the Asia Pacific region. I certainly remembered when they first came out, there was a huge buzz that surrounded them back then.

Personally I have never signed up for a subscription beauty box. Because…

Firstly, for some reason I thought the price for these boxes was $49 per month?! I thought this was just ridiculous… but the subscription price is actually only $18 shipping per month. That is $15 for the box + $2.95 for shipping.

Or you can choose to pay $16.66 per box, but pay for the whole year.

Secondly, I am drowning in samples already. I am a fashion and lifestyle blogger and I am on quite a few PR companies mailout lists, which means I get sent lots of free stuff to try. For most of the items, I don’t ask for them, so they are not suitable for me, or I am not interested in trying out, or they don’t suit my skin type, so I usually send a note of “thanks but no thanks” back. Then I feel really bad!

Lastly, back then (when considering a subscription box), I felt that I had reached a stage in my life where I don’t like to experiment with new beauty products. I just wanted to stick to my usual stuff.

But funny thing is that, it turns out that in the past couple of years, I have become more experimental and keen to try new beauty products. Maybe a sign of getting older and wanting to stay young? Wanting to remain in the cool gang? Haha!

Bellabox Subscription Beauty Box

March Box ContentsBlue chalk hair colour (probably would have liked pink chalk), Neon & Co Hair treatment. (hair treatment oil is always fab), Bliss Body Butter (I always need body cream for my legs and feet!), Benefit Pore Minimiser (so cool , I have always wanted to try this), MonoDermà A15 Retinol – Vitamin A (yikes, I have always wanted to try this kind of vitamin A capsules to apply directly onto my skin to reduce fine lines and wrinkles).

So what is good about these subscription boxes anyway?

I had a good think about WHO would benefit MOST from them, and WHY someone might like to try it out.

1. Samples save you money. I actually love getting samples. They allow you to try before you buy. A full bottle of cream can be $16 – $22 or more! I have bought so many crappy products.

I have many regular beauty items I have discovered through samples. My Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua foundation that I have been using religiously for the last 5 years, came from a magazine sample. Keihl’s body cream, Aesop hand creams, philosophy scrubs, AHA masks and more.

2. Access to product samples. If you don’t have access to product samples, subscription boxes are a pretty good way to get them. Especially because someone else chooses and finds them for you.

3. Value for money. Standard shipping alone in Australia is about $9 – $13 for a small box? So getting 5 samples sent to your door for $18 is pretty cheap.

4. Saves you time. I once had a few hours spare to go shopping… so I went to Priceline. I opened bottles, sniffed products, dabbed them onto my hands, felt the consistency, looked up the products on my smart phone while standing in the aisle, read the reviews. I tried out eye liners, lip stains, tanning creams, bb creams, foaming face wash, oil cleansers. I read the back of packets, looked at ingredients, I just wanted to know what was out there and to test out what they felt like. Suddenly it was 2.5 hours later and I was absolutely KICKING MYSELF that I wasted so much time!!

I seriously would have preferred someone ‘in the know’ to recommend me a few good products so I could try.

5. Trying new stuff is fun. If you enjoy experimenting with new and popular beauty products, then 5 samples per month is a good place to start. If you don’t have any skin sensitivities or allergies, then it can be quite exciting to try new stuff for your skin/body/hair/face. You’ll never know if something will work for you if you don’t try it right?

6. Receiving surprises in the mail. Most people adore this. It reminds us of the good old snail mail days. The box is lovely and the products are very well packaged.

 

So to answer my original question – Are they a waste of money?

YES, if you are completely not interested in experimenting and someone else choosing beauty products for you. or if you have sensitive skin. Or particular about colours. It’s not for everyone!

BUT if you like experimenting, receiving samples, saving money on products and saving time on research… then NO, it’s not a waste of money – it’s actually pretty good value.

As for me…

I pick up a new mascara ($25) or a BB cream ($18) or a new lip colour ($23) or a different nail colour ($17) ALL THE TIME, just because I saw it in a magazine and just to try something new. If I wasn’t already drowning in product samples, I would definitely sign myself up for a monthly subscription.

I’m not getting paid for this review, but if you decide you like the idea of a subscription box, you can check out the  Bellabox Beauty Boxes here and if you subscribe, I’ll get a little commission on the sale. No pressure though. Like I said, it’s not for everyone.

Enjoy!


GoTidy Packing Set and A Leather Overnighter Bag

29 March 2016

Brought to you by CiaoBella Travel

I have a few overseas trips coming up this year and I’m super excited for a bit of a getaway!

While I’m not a frequent jet-setter who travels around the world every month – I do have a few pearls of wisdom to share.

One of my travelling peeves is:  having messy luggage.

Argh I can’t stand it! I’ve tried to separate my clothes with zip lock bags, dry-cleaning plastic clothes bags, drawstring cloth bags, even paper shopping bags to keep them tidy.

But it never works. My nice, fragile, delicate clothes always get messed up with my casual/stinky clothes.

Case Tidy from CiaoBella Travel

Enter the Go Travel 3 Piece Organising Set.

I have been itching to get my hands on this product for my upcoming trip :)

Especially since I’m going to an overseas wedding and I have several delicate garments to pack.

I was the one who initiated this blog post. I hunted it down, found it online, tested it out and now I’m dying to share how cool it is!

Case Tidy from CiaoBella Travel

The pack comes with 3 little rectangular cases.

They have a depth, like a box, but they are made from a breathable, nylon cloth, with a zip and have a little plastic window each.

They are not hard and stiff like a cosmetics case. They are cloth-like bags and compress nicely with the rest of my clothes.

Case Tidy from CiaoBella Travel

They are perfect for my silk dresses, my delicate lace dresses, sequin skirts, soft fabrics, fine knits and more.

The smaller case would be great for lingerie, ties, silk camisoles, even shoes.

The small case is 23cm long, the medium is 28cm long and the large is 45cm long.

Case Tidy from CiaoBella Travel

The large case is perfect for business shirts, silk shirts or even a small jacket.

I’d say that the large case can comfortably fit 3 business shirts.

Case Tidy from CiaoBella Travel

I like that my clothes are all neatly secured in these cases.

I like that if my luggage gets tossed around, my clothes won’t churn around and end up so they snag on the luggage zip. Or if my luggage springs open, my delicate clothes won’t end up on the floor.

Case Tidy from CiaoBella Travel

I love that they zip up into rectangles too. So neat and tidy! It makes my inner neat-freak happy.

The cases also come in white, blue and violet.

Check out the Go Travel 3 Piece Organising Set here.

(Get 15% off your order with my discount code below.)

 

Manzoni Leather Luggage from CiaoBella Travel

This next item is something that has been on my wishlist for a long time: A Leather Overnighter Bag

This is the Manzoni Overnighter Bag and this one is in Tan.

While I adore handbags and totes, I’ve found that it’s pretty difficult to find one suitable for travelling.

Basically I wanted a sturdy, carry-on bag for the airplane. I wanted one big enough to fit all my carry-on requirements. And I wanted it in leather.

This bag has been perfect for me!

Manzoni Leather Luggage from CiaoBella Travel

You see, during my last few airplane trips, I realised that I needed a much bigger and better carry on bag.

I realised that like to travel with lots of stuff – cardigan, book, water bottle, snacks, toiletries bag, camera, purse, phone, iPad, notebook, document wallet. And that’s just my stuff. Being a mum means I have to carry stuff for some of my kids too.

Anyway, I know lots of girls who love their Longchamp Le Pliage or Country Road Canvas Duffle Bag and use them for travelling, but for me, because the sides are nylon or canvas, I feel that they don’t offer enough protection. They are just too floppy and I don’t feel good about putting my camera and devices in them.

I love that this bag is made from a lovely soft grain leather. It is strong, thick, relaxed leather and not stiff and hard. It doesn’t stink too.

The craftsmanship is lovely. The zips are smooth. The handles and base are strong.

The bag is sturdy yet looks slightly slouchy. It really is a quality bag.

Manzoni Leather Luggage from CiaoBella Travel

I went to all the big department stores and a few specialty luggage stores to see how this Manzoni bag compared to others in the market.

The verdict: Excellent! Which is why I’m doing this review!

Duffle travel bags are not very stylish (here’s an example). It’s difficult to find one in a nice minimal style in leather. The nice leather ones are super expensive and priced over $400!!

So this Overnighter Bag is MUCH more affordable, excellent value and stylish.

It is a fabulous size too.

Manzoni Leather Luggage from CiaoBella Travel

Currently the Black version is on sale. Which means with my discount below, it only costs $204 (without shipping). Err, you can’t even buy a leather handbag at Witchery for that price.

It also comes in red, orange, navy and dark brown, check them all out here.

Im so, so pleased with my bag and again, I can’t wait to use it on the plane for my next trip!

Get 15% off your TOTAL order from CiaoBella Travel

Simply use the code “KAREN15″ at the checkout to receive the discount.

Promotion expires on 31st May 2016.

Happy shopping everyone!


Reading The Classics: Anna Karenina

9 March 2016

Hi everyone!

I’m on a quest to read some of the most popular literary classics before I die.

It’s a bit tricky, because between my blogging interests, fitness, shopping, cooking, and being a mum… um, I don’t really have much time to fit it in.

But just like exercise, if I want it done, I have to schedule it in and just do it.

Classic Titles

I borrowed these utterly magical editions from my father-in-law. He has a whole WALL of leather bound editions, in immaculate, drop-dead-amazing condition, that make me squirm with envy.

I asked if I could borrow a few books to photograph and I picked out some titles I have read and want to read –

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (read)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (read)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (read)
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (want to read)
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (want to read)

Anna Karenina

I recently read Anna Karenina (my own copy, not this edition) and absolutely loved the language, the depth of characters, the immersion into 19th Century Russian society.

It was like Pride and Prejudice, but deeper, less-girly, with more drama and tragedy.

I wasn’t too crazy about Anna’s character though (I wanted to slap her! Get a grip woman!) but Tolstoy’s writing was just delightful and marvellous. His characters were amazing!

Anna Karenina

I was rather thrilled (more like, moved to silence) while pawing through this edition.

Either I really like books, or there’s something universally appealing of an old, beautifully bound book in perfect condition.

Anna Karenina

As I mentioned, I didn’t read this edition, but perhaps I should have. It would added a bit more magic to my reading.

Next up, I’m reading Great Expectations (my own copy, as I’m a bit too scared I might ruin my father in law’s copy!)

Check out my reading list on Goodreads.


Luxe Business Cards by Moo

18 January 2016

Brought to you by Moo

I have been meaning to make myself some simple business cards for… um… 5, 6 YEARS??

Haha and being a graphic designer by trade didn’t help me either. I couldn’t just make any old card – I HAD to make them properly. And PROPER cards took time. So in the end, they didn’t get done.

Anyway, recently, by some glorious timing of the universe, the kind folk at Moo.com hit me up to test out their new luxe business cards.

This is what I came up with!

Moo Cards by Karen Cheng

I made some simple luxe business cards with my contact details and a photo on the back.

Even though there were lots of gorgeous templates on the site, I chose to “Design my card from scratch”.

I chose 30 photos – colourful, vibrant, striking photos, all taken by me, that reflected the vibe of my blog. I simply uploaded them onto the Moo site and fiddled around with the landscape and portrait settings.

Most of the photos were taken with my DSLR Nikon D90 (old model), point and shoot Nikon P300 (old model), my new iPhone 6plus and even my old iPhone 4s (YES the images still looked great!).

Most of them were hi resolution photos, but again, a few were snapped on my 4 year old smart phone. I did enhance the colour saturation and brightness a little on all the photos in Photoshop too.

Moo Cards by Karen Cheng

I wanted a very simple front for my card.

I simply typed in my name and details into a MOO text template, chose Garamond font and chose a dark grey colour.

(Btw, yes I erased my phone number in this photo!)

Moo Cards by Karen Cheng

The Luxe by Moo collection uses a gorgeous, premium quality card stock, with a coloured seam (you can choose from 8 colours), has a weight of 600gsm, and I went with the matte finish.

Prices start from AU$39.95 for 50 cards.

You can even make luxe mini cards, luxe square cards, postcards and notecards, which is kind of cool.

Moo Cards by Karen Cheng

I ordered 100 cards for AU$79.90, and because I only had 30 photos, some were repeated 3 or 4 times, which was fine with me.

I placed my order, I paid a bit extra for express printing and delivery and they arrived at my doorstep 6 days later!!

When I opened the box, I was shocked and deilghted. They looked amazing. I could hardly believe it. I was mostly surprised by how great all my photos looked, as I had expected them to look a bit pixelated and digital (like when I get my digital photos printed out).

I am SO impressed with the quality, the ease with which I made them, the online interface and the price. I totally recommend them!

Cheers to Moo for this opportunity!