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14 Years

29 April 2017

Callum Turns 14 (2017)

My oldest boy turned 14 years old a few weeks ago!

It took me a while to post about it… because I went looking into my digital photo archives to find THE CUTEST POSSIBLE PHOTO I could find of him, and I ended up spending hours/days/weeks reminiscing about the good old days.

I finally found this photo and I decided: YUP this is the winner!

Funnily enough, it was a printed photo, so I had to carefully peel it off a cardboard backing and scan it. Who has time to do that these days?

Ironically, I didn’t even take the photo. It was taken by his kindergarten teacher when he was 6 years old. The teacher made all the kids sit in the sand pit, one by one, in the exact same spot, both hands on the exact same sand toys, and in the exact spot of shade — sit, smile, snap, done, next! Haha!

The fact that my first born has reached 14 years doesn’t really phase me.

He’s growing up to be an incredible and awesome young man, and I’m so so proud to be his mum. He has such interesting and strangely insightful opinions and perspectives, he has a great attitude, he’s full of funny stories, happy boyish talkative energy, crazy ideas, yet he’s so smart, focused, sensible, reasonable and reliable (most of the time).

He has definitely been an easy “first kid”. He’s definitely been a blessing to our lives. So as I look towards the rest of teenagedom: parties, driving, curfew, trust, part-time job, peer pressure, social media, exams… I’m not too worried.

The other day I was sorting through some old boxes in the shed. There was a folder full of my son’s old drawings, done when he was 4 or 5 years old. Squiggles, circles, faces, trees, apples, boats, Buzz Lightyear, pirates and more. I remember all of the drawings. All of our conversations.

I remember sitting at our wooden dinner table, with pencils spread out everywhere, there was a whole stack of white A4 paper and we drew and drew and drew and talked and laughed and ate fruit and I taught him numbers, shapes, colours, concepts… and NOW he’s editing video and learning algebra?!?!

Seriously. My mind was blown. Where did the time go?

That’s when it hit me. I choked up. I missed my little boy.

I missed his little round face. His giggles and grins. His cuddles. He’s obsession with trucks, lego and rhyming books.

I missed his little hands. And his little shoes.

He’s a lot bigger now, but he’ll always be my little boy!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013 – Two Days of Sweat and Tears

10 November 2013

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

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

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

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

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

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

We set off at 7am.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

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

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

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

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

THEN. The weather hit us.

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

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

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

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

And yep, it put my own struggles into perspective.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

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

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

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

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

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

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

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

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

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

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

The next morning, the sun was shining! HOORAY!

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

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

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

Me again. All rugged up and ready to go!

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

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

My poor riding buddy had ANOTHER flat!

Same tyre.

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

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013


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

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

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

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

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


Liam : 3 years and …a bit?

30 July 2012

(Warning!! The following contains long, detailed, explicit, motherly adoration of a child.)
Liam is 3 years and 4 months

My little Liam is 3 years and 4 months.

He’s bright, eloquent, a bit particular about certain things, and yes, totally lovable!

The biggest change since my last update is his obsession with letters and numbers.

Writing out letters and numbers is a daily activity for us – only because he LOVES it so much. We sit down with a stack of paper and coloured pencils, and he writes the numbers from 1-20, and then he writes the alphabet from A-Z.

I help him a little, but it’s HIM who leads the activity. He tells ME what HE wants to do.

We started writing 1-10. But after memorising them so quickly, he has moved on to 1-20. Now we’re working on number order.

I scribble out worksheets with “puzzles” like 11, 12, 13, ___ and he fills in the missing number.

And he says brainy stuff like, “What is the number 1 and 8 again? Is that eighteen? Does that come after seventeen?”

Liam is 3 years and 4 months
Drawing of Bluey (his toy bunny) and Liam!

He has also memorised and recognised the whole alphabet, he can write every letter of the alphabet, and he knows the phonic sounds to all the letters!

He can spell out simple words by himself, just using the sounds of letters!

He prefers to write words of things his likes – Liam, Mum, Dad, Callum, Sean, Cat, Bluey (his bunny), Clock (because it’s got numbers on it), Pink (his favourite colour), Poh Poh (what he calls his grandmother).

His number and letter formations are still a bit wonky, but they are still legible.

Lots of other mums praise me and all the “work” that I do with him. But seriously, it’s all HIM, his own personal interest and his long-standing fixation with numbers and letters.

OK I guess I am active in Liam’s early childhood learning, and I sit down with him and do activities with him. But I was also very involved and very active with my other two children’s early learning too. In fact, I was probably more active with them… and they didn’t learn how to spell words and read until they were 6 years old.

Honestly, I’m just surprised and pleased by how advanced he seems to be. I don’t think he’s a one-in-a-million, crazy-smart, genius kid. I’m not going to push him into any hardcore academic programs.

I’m just going to continue with a bit of gentle pushing and encouragement here and there. And at the same time try to balance out his other developmental areas – such as social, emotional, and physical development.

And I need to do that, because….

Liam is 3 years and 4 months

Liam doesn’t like to go outside his comfort zone. He doesn’t like to try new things. He’s not very adventurous. He likes his routine. He likes thing to be predictable all the time. He likes to know that things are the same… and will be the same all the time.

But he gets bored with things being the same! And I can tell he wants to explore new things and have new experiences… but it is so hard for him to let go! He really fights it, he argues with me, negotiates for his way, tries to stall it, pretends to be disinterested, throws a tantrum.

I insist, I am firm, I try to convince him and I argue with him, and in the end I usually just force him to try it… and after we do the new thing, he is usually very happy.

For example, he likes that we buy our fruit from one particular fruit shop. If we go somewhere else to buy fruit, he gets really upset. And he will argue with me – for HOURS – about it.

Another example. He likes the numbers 2 and 4. And if my maths question doesn’t give him an answer where he can write a 2 or 4, he refuses to do the question. Or he’ll just write 24, rather than the actual answer and he’ll argue with me again!

Or, he likes to borrow 3 books from the library. And he wants to borrow the same 3 books again and again. If not, then more arguments!

Oh the list goes on and on. It drives me INSANE! He’s one funny kid.

After we do the new thing, I usually list out all the good (and maybe some not so good) things about the experience. Just so to help him mentally process and assess the experience or situation.

Like, “It was such a good thing that we borrowed these new books, so we could see these pictures that we’ve never seen before! Now we know what sunken treasure looks like!”

Liam is 3 years and 4 months

As I try to let my older children become more involved with more complicated tasks (for example, cooking dinner by themselves), I try to get Liam involved too.

I admit it’s really hard, especially since I’ve done the whole “toddlers helping mummy in the kitchen” thing TWICE already. I have very little patience left in me… and really, I just want the kids to play in a different room, while I whip up dinner in 30 minutes flat haha.

So in terms of being independent, following instructions to do jobs, helping to do housework… Liam is behind where my other two children were at the same age.

It’s definitely my fault, as I don’t follow up, insist, or expect him to do as much as his brothers. Unfortunately, he’s turning into a “typical” third child, who is the baby of the family, and not expected to do any hard work – oops!

Liam is 3 years and 4 months

Liam loves his 3 year old Kindergarten, but he HATES that I leave him.

He cries and shouts for hours in the morning about not wanting to go. He still kicks and screams and says all kinds of things emotional blackmail stuff like “You promised you won’t ever leave me anywhere where I might be far, far away from you.”

But the teachers say that the moment I walk away from the Kindergarten door and shut the gate (5 seconds) he’s perfectly fine and happy. They tell me that he is very involved with all the activities, he’s keen and interested in everything the teachers say, he plays very happily. They say he’s very smart, very bright, intelligent and very funny… (I’m sure that they say that to all the mums).

Anyway, I’m so, so glad that he’s blossoming in such a great environment.

Part of me is a little jealous, because when I try to do new activities with him – as I said – he just bosses me around, tells me what he wants to do and how I should GO AWAY because he just wants to do his own thing thank you very much.

(Let’s hope he’s not doing the same to his teachers!!)

I am really excited for him, for next year, when goes to 4 year old kindergarten. He’ll be in a structured learning environment – all day – surrounded by numbers and letters. He’ll absolutely LOVE it :)

Not to mention, I’LL love that he doesn’t nag me about being bored.

And I’ll love missing him all day, and then picking him up in the afternoon and hearing his beautiful little squeaky voice, bubbling with excitement, and watching his eyes sparkle as he tells me stories of his day.

Baby 3: Liam at 2 years and 10 months

2 February 2012

Here’s an update of Liam’s development, as he hurtles towards being 3 years old!

Liam - 2 years 10 Months

Behaviour and Environment

During the school terms, his older brothers go to school, and Liam gets to hang out with me all day. We have our little routines. We have our weekly grocery runs, coffee dates, play dates, gym classes, story time sessions, outings and activities. We have snacks, lunches at home or while we’re out. It’s just him and me.

He’s really pleasant, easy, fun to be with, ok sometimes he’s demanding, but I know his quirks and I know how to work around him… so basically we have a happy little groove between us.

But during the recent 7 week summer holidays, he has had to play and compete with his older brothers – all day, every day.

As a result, my summary of him seems a little harsh, yet it’s all part of his life experience, and what makes him who he is.

Liam has been naughty, difficult, noisy and his behaviour has been awful. It’s such a hard thing to deal with, because I can see what’s driving him. I can see he just wants some attention.

He’s frustrated because his two big brothers will spend hours building intricate lego structures or playing an elaborate board game, and he wants to play too. Instead… he smashes everything onto the floor and steals the important pieces of the game, just so that they will play with him.

Or they will be lazing in bed reading a book or working on a puzzle, and he will come along and rip posters of their walls and tip their shelves over, just so that they will play with him.

It always ends in meltdowns, tears and fights. From everyone! Including me!

So in a way, he’s not really being naughty. He’s just trying to communicate his needs… and well, it’s been a tough couple of months trying to keep everything balanced.

Because, he’s not the only child who needs some attention. There are two others. Not to mention there are two adults in the family who needs some loving. So yes. Balance is the key.

We take things as a week-by-week balancing act. One day I might spend a couple of hours with my oldest boy. While my husband will hang out with the younger two. And the next day my husband will take the middle boy, and I’ll have the other two. And then during the next session I’ll have the youngest one and so on.

This keeps everything quite peaceful.

And it’s worked so well because my husband was on leave for a little bit over the Christmas and new year period.

When it’s just me looking after the kids, most days, they will all play happily for a couple of hours. But after that, they get bored and will need some direction. I either have to do an activity that makes all 3 kids happy. Or I have to send one kid into another room to work on something (nothing too special or the other 2 will get jealous) while I do something with the other 2 kids.

Or I just take them to the beach. And everyone is happy. Including me.

Liam - 2 years 10 Months


Liam can identify lots of letters, numbers from 0-12, colours, shapes and symbols. Drawing and writing is an activity he just loves. And I believe he finds a lot of comfort in it. I take a little scribble pad and pencils wherever we go, and he enjoys looking at my past drawings and reading out the letters and numbers.

He has shown keen interest to write letters, so I have been teaching him to write his name. And while I’m at it, I’m trying to teach him to read simple words – not because I’m trying to get him ahead academically – because he just really enjoys it!


He speech is pretty impressive! He is a real chatterbox and he can talk and talk and talk, if you let him. It can be a bit exhausting, to have someone be in your face and talk at you all day. But I’m not complaining, I try to see it as his little gift.

I get him to re-tell stories of our day, just to help him gather and organise his thoughts, because they can get a bit jumbled and random most times! Kinda cute, but it’s hard to listen to hours of random, mangled sentences.

Gross Motor Skills

Liam is pretty active and coordinated. He can go for long walks, ride a 2 wheel scooter, sit on a big-kid swing, climb up a climbing frame. He can’t ride a bike yet (hasn’t worked out the peddling action).

I’d say that he’s not very daring or adventurous, in a physical sense.

He’s confident to splash around in shallow water, but he’s not brave enough to put his head underwater.

Fine Motor Skills

Really excellent here. The kid plays with big-kid lego, he can use a scissors, do a 48 piece puzzle, peel stickers, glue things, and other fine detail activities.


He sleeps at 7:30pm, wakes up 6:00am. As long as he has one 1 hour nap in the day time, he’s fine. And he’s not fussy about when he has the nap.

Imagination Play

Every day Liam can spend 30 minutes to 1 hour playing by himself, with cars, drawing, water play, lego, blocks, or puzzles.

I’d say the biggest activity he is missing out on, is imagination play. I went to a friend’s house recently, who had a cubby house for her daughter. The little house was decorated like a real house, with a kitchen set, photo frames on the wall, tables and chairs… Liam was transfixed. He played inside for aaaaages and didn’t want to leave.

I can see how he would get a lot out of more age appropriate toys!

Social Skills and Friends

He doesn’t have many proper friends at the moment, as he’s a bit young. He prefers to hang around older children, because that’s what he’s used to at home. And he loves the company of adults.

When he is around other kids his age, he is very confident and he stands his own ground. He can be a bit bossy and loud when trying to get his point across, which scares the other kids who are a bit timid.


Since Christmas, Liam has been very clingy towards me whenever someone comes to babysit. He cries, wails, flings himself on the floor, and shouts things like “Mummy don’t go away!!!!”. He’s been cool with it for years and it just came up suddenly and we’re not sure why he’s changed in this way. We’re thinking maybe it’s just an age thing?

Liam - 2 years 10 Months


Ah. He has been a terrible eater lately! He loves cereal with milk. Apples. Any kind of sweet or salty biscuit. Noodles. Bacon. And he loves to snack on raw carrots. That’s about it.

He utterly hates pasta, curry, rice, stir-fries, casserole, potatoes, bread – sometimes he will reluctantly eat it, if I feed him.

Most days, when we sit down for a proper lunch or dinner meal… he utterly refuses to eat anything I give him. He refuses to feed himself. And he would rather put himself to bed than to eat what I give him.

But if I spoon food into his mouth, he WILL eat it, reluctantly and slowly. And just like that, he trained me to feed him.

Each mouthful is painful, full of fights, toilet breaks, whining, falling off the chair, crying. Some days I have no idea how much he has eaten, I felt so bad, yet he happily goes to sleep at the end of the day. And I tell myself, if he’s hungry, he’ll wake up in the middle of the night and I’ll make him some warm milk and toast. But he never wakes up.

Heh it is kind of my fault too. As I go through the day, out and about, driving from one event to another, I just throw random food at him for morning or afternoon snacks, a small bag of pop corn, an apple, half a bun with melted cheese on it, a jelly snake, rice crackers, a small carrot. And by dinner time he’s not hungry and I wonder why!

So, basically, I haven’t been very disciplined with his eating!


Liam will go to a Pre-Kindergarten for 3 year olds in a few months (he has to turn 3 first!). This particular centre came highly recommended, and it is also a 10 minute walk from our house. He was put on a waiting list, and after months of waiting, we finally got a call and was told that Liam had a place. I was sooooo happy. I know he’ll love it!

(He has been asking when he can go to school for several months now. And he desperately wants his own lunch box.)

But of course, I am struck by that familiar bittersweet feeling – I am totally freaked out that my littlest baby is going to a school AND I am dizzily excited that as he grows older, my life (and my relationship with all my children) will grow and evolve.

Liam at 2 Years Old

25 April 2011

Liam at 2 years old
Just look at the red in his hair!

My 2 year old toddler is an absolute chatterbox. He just does not shut up.

Lucky for him, he is insanely cute. And I can spend all day talking to him and listening to him chatter for hours.

He’s so naturally well-mannered and polite – saying thank you, you’re welcome, ‘cuse me, sorry, see ya later! And he’s so caring and sensitive, always asking me, “Are you ok mum?” “Are you good?” “What happened?”

My other two children were never like this. They were either self-centred (as children naturally are) or just totally oblivious to the feelings of other people (as children naturally are).

I used to believe that other parents made this stuff up. Naturally polite children? No such thing!

But Liam likes to crawl into my lap, wrap his arms around me like a koala bear, squeezes me tight, then leans back to look at me with his deep brown eyes and asks “Can I have a back scratch please mummy?” and he’ll flop his body into my chest and nuzzle his face into my skin… and go, “Ahh, that’s really nice mum.”

And my heart – oh my heart – it melts into a glorious mush of love.

Did I mention he is my last baby?

Liam at 2 years old

Pears In Red Wine

5 January 2010


At a recent dinner party, I ate this delicious, unusual dessert, and I was amazed at how easy it is to make.

6 pears
a standard bottle of red wine
100gms of sugar
a cinnamon stick

Peel the pears – but leave the stalks on!
Cut a little away from the bottom of the pear, to help it sit up by itself.
Place the pears stalks up in a snug fitting pot or slow cooker.
Cove the pears with red wine, add the sugar and cinnamon.

Slow, slow cook for at least an hour, until the pears are so soft that you can carve the flesh with a spoon.

Serve with plenty of the sweet juices, and top with a dob of cream, or as above, with some yogurt.

Alternatives are that after the pears are cooked, you can marinate the pears in the cooling wine sauce overnight to increase the red colour, before re-warming to serve. To add more zing to the wine, you can also add orange rind, cloves, and /or vanilla.

(The alcohol in the wine is all dissipated by the heat of the cooking.)


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!

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 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.


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 “”, 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!

Sean Turns 4 Years Old

12 March 2009

Sean Turns 4 Years Old

I remember Sean, as a baby, being sensitive and grumpy all the time. Then as a toddler, he was utterly defiant and strong-willed. Over the years, being the second child, Sean’s personality was often over-shadowed by his older brother. He liked, copied and wanted everything Callum had and did.

But last year, with his older brother in full-time school, the days would go by where it was just me and Sean. It gave me an amazing opportunity to get to know him.

Firstly, he talks SO MUCH. He is very articulate, eloquent, and his sentences and expressions are mind blowing. Given the chance, he could talk for 5 hours non-stop when we’re together.

He’s not happy with simply giving a monologue commentary on our day to day activities, or talking to himself.

He asks questions and he wants answers. He wants to discuss things, he comes up with all these crazy ideas and theories, he wants my input and explanations, and he wants me to engage with him.

Sometimes it can be really hard work, especially when I’m not in the mood for conversation.

Having said that, he has an excellent capacity to entertain himself for up to an hour at a time. He has a wild imagination and he loves to make up his own adventures with his superheros and action characters.

Sean Turns 4 Years Old

He’s a very determined kid. When he sets his mind to a task, he’ll finish it. He will go all the way and not look back.

He’s pretty good about trying new experiences. It doesn’t take much for him to launch into something new or exciting. But once he’s made up his mind about something, it’s close to impossible to change his mind. He’s not easily swayed.

In fact, he is willing to suffer punishment, forego special treats, and go to bed without dinner – just to stick with his decision. Which is something I [somewhat] admire about him.

He’s also very much more of a leader type, than a follower. And unafraid to speak his mind.

Photos By Sean

Someone gave him a very basic digital camera for his birthday – it just points and shoots, without any auto-focus. Which means most of his photos are very blurry.

He often goes around snapping all kinds of random objects around the house and in his world. Words cannot describe the sheer delight I have when we scroll through his pictures together. We choose one, print it from the computer, cut it out, and pin it up on his wall.

This year Sean started Kindergarten – 2 full days at school. He started off really, really well – full of familiarity, confidence and happy to make friends.

But in the last few weeks, he’s been saying he’s bored at Kindy, his teachers don’t let him have any fun, and he’s quite clingy when it’s time for me to leave. I suspect it’s the impending arrival of the new baby, but I’m still keeping a close eye on him, in case there’s something else going on.

I must admit, I really enjoy hanging out with him all day. He’s like my little, best bud.

I am so proud to say that he is a very cool little kid, and I just love him to bits.

Sean – 3 years, 3 months

6 June 2008

Sean - 3 years, 3 months

I’ve been trying to take better portrait photographs with my camera. I’m so happy with the results!

This is Sean on a cold, wet, rainy day, trying to find a stick so we can play fishing in the creek.

Sean Turns 3 Years Old

11 March 2008

Sean Turns 3

To my dearest little Sean.

Three years ago our little family was going through a rough patch. Dad was pretty sick. Things weren’t looking good. We didn’t even know if we could have you.

But you were our little miracle. You gave us hope in a time of darkness. I would lie in bed wishing the world would swallow me up, and suddenly you’d kick and dance across the walls of my tummy – making me chuckle with delight.

When you were born, my hormones weren’t right. I looked at you bundled up in my arms and instead of buzzing with joy and happiness, I was tired, sad and I cried a lot. It wasn’t you, it was me.

But now I can’t imagine life without you. You are the blazing rock and roll on our otherwise quiet stereo. You are the spicy chilli in our tandoori. You are the sirens, the fireworks, the drums, the sparkle. You bring so much joy and laughter to our lives. I hope you know that.

In you, I’ve discovered a child’s love that is so tender, so sensitive, so sweet and so whole-heartedly absolute. When you say you love me, I don’t have to search deep in your eyes to see if you mean it, because it’s splashed across your face – you really do love me.

When I say goodnight to you each evening, you take my face in your hands and you plant little tiny kisses on my nose, cheeks and eye lids. And you’ll look up at me with a sparkle in your eyes, like I’m the most wonderful person in the whole world.

Sean Turns 3

I just love it when you smile. I love the way your face and nose wrinkles up. You look so cheeky and happy. It’s adorable, infectious and it makes my heart crumble into a thousand happy pieces.

This new year has seen lots of new changes in your life.

You love school. Starting Pre-Kindy this year has been amazing for you. You have your very own a teacher, classroom and bag hook. As I suspected, you thrived on the kindergarten’s structured activities, routine and rules. You’ve blossomed into a smart, sociable, confident little boy.

Sean Turns 3

You love learning. It boggles me to discover how much you pick up, understand, and repeat. You ask me questions about bugs, trees, water, birds, trucks, elevators – how they all work, what they are for, what can go wrong, what to do when something goes wrong. You listen carefully to everything I say, and will repeat it back as if it’s your own.

You speak so well. I really am so proud of you. Your pronunciations, your sentence structure, and your expressions are all amazing for a kid your age. Some of the clever, random things you say makes me laugh and laugh.

Sean Turns 3

When someone meets you for the first time, the first thing they comment on is your voice. You don’t squeak in a high-pitched, baby voice. Your voice is low and strong. You always sound so serious and authoritative, like a little man – but once you smile, you turn into a giggly little boy again.

Then there’s your eye lashes. And your puppy dog eyes. You make me writhe with jealousy.

Sean Turns 3

You’ve got a big personality, a strong spirit and a whole lot of big ideas. You’re a wonderful and charming little person with a great big heart. I love you Sean, Happy 3rd Birthday.

Callum : 3 years, 11 months

8 March 2007

Callum’s drawing skills have been developing at an incredible rate. Now I leave a box of pencils and a stack of paper in his room, and everyday he surprises me with lots of super cute drawings! (This is Buzz Lightyear. Callum admits he copied it from his school bag, but he insists it still came from his brain.)

He can write his name without any help. And he loves copying out words that I write for him. He can’t write out the whole alphabet yet.

Callum has been settling into kindergarten really well. He absolutely loves it – 2 days a week, from 9am to 3pm. He sleeps when they tell him to sleep. And eats when everyone else eats. I know most kids behave differently when they go to kindy, but I’m amazed to hear that my son actually STOPS TALKING long enough to eat his lunch in the time given and then go to sleep!

He’s obsessed with RULES. He likes to have RULES FOR EVERYTHING. Thus he gets a bit bossy sometimes, and he’s no fun during ball games. Whenever someone else (me, or my husband) breaks the rules, or “decides we just want to PLAY” Callum will stop the game, hold the ball, demand a reason for such unruliness, and will repeat ALL the rules – speaking s-l-o-w-l-y this time, so that we understand. Such cheek!

I’m secretly paranoid that my kids will show signs of learning difficulties. So I play heaps of “learning” games with Callum whenever we’re together – instead of, you know, talking about CRAP. I’ve grabbed heaps of great tips from his kindy teacher!

Apparently (I did not know this) kindy/preschools don’t emphasise on teaching the kids to recite their ABCs. They teach phonics instead – “Ah” “Buh” “Cuh”. They go through little exercises like “Duh” is for “D-og” and “D-addy”. They do lots of word rhymes, break words into sound syllables etc. Apparently it makes it easier for kids to learn how to spell.

So Callum and I play this game. I say something like “Why did Mrs White have a fright?” And Callum would say things like, “Because… it was night? There was no light? She lost her kite??” It all sounds really brainy, but let me assure you, we quickly fall into good ol’ toilet humour. Poos, wees and farts, never cease to entertain.

“Where did Mr Blue do a poo?”
“In his SHOE! In a LOO! In the GLUE?”

Ok I doubt it’s educationally sound, but it’s all gold. We play heaps of other phonic games too. And by “games” I mean casual chit chat, “Hey soap sounds like BOAT! What else?” Resulting in Callum being very aware of rhymes – perhaps irritatingly so – because some days, every second word he says will be a made up rhyme – “Hey mummy pummy? Where’s my sandal dandle?”

As you can tell, I’m not very hardcore or pushy with all this literacy stuff. I believe a child’s education has to be well rounded (beyond the numbers and letters) to also include stuff like – problem solving skills, self-discipline, self-confidence, strong sense of why things are right and wrong, creative solutions for sticky situations, how to care for others, a love for life, etc etc.

Callum’s a great big brother. He does not hit back, shove or bully his little brother. Sometimes he will irritate Sean, but it’s usually from being playful, rather than being malicious. He’s not dismissive, nor does he ignore Sean. Most times he wants Sean by his side, and it’s Sean who wants to do his own thing.

Callum is a bit reserved on the social front. He has a best friend at kindy, who happens to be a girl from our mother’s group. And when asked, he doesn’t seem interested in making other new friends. I’ve introduced him to the fine art of making friends in the playground – “Just walk up to another boy and say ‘Hey you wanna play pirates/ball/cars?'” – and he seems to be doing fine now.

Sean at 20 months (1¾ years)

27 November 2006

Sean’s verbal skills have exploded in the last month. He can say heaps of new words! He’ll try to repeat everything we say. He can pick out words from songs and repeat them. And we often catch him talking and muttering to himself, stringing multiple words together, as if practicing this strange new talking thing.”Bear! Bowl? Bear bowl gone where? Hee hee. Bear bowl gone!”

“I got lotsa glue. Lotsa glue! Mmm. Eeew. Glue yucky.”

He does this cute mishmash with his songs, it’s reeeeally cute.

“Tinko tinko daaaar! Dumpy dumpy fall! E, O, E, O, AYE!”

And I can’t help but join in!

Seven Years of Web Wrangling II

10 May 2006

“Seven Years” seem like a long time to be doing something.

But looking back at the journey, I don’t really see it as a momentous triumph. All I can see is how I’ve changed as a person, and how my online presence was just a small part of my life. Obviously that was my decision – to only publish moments I chose to share. To leave out the boring bits. The difficult bits. The painful bits.

For me, keeping my web log is about… sharing. Inspiring. Entertaining. Connecting. Touching. Creating. Designing. Therapy. Expression. Remembering. Laughing.

I’m very happy that, after seven years, I’m still doing this.

That it’s normal for me to go through the everyday-ness and blah-ness of life, looking out for beautiful moments. Going through the motions of carving out the essence of the moment, crafting it into words and pictures. Then sharing it with others. I love it. It’s a part of me now. And there’s a lot more to come.

Thanks for sharing with me.

Seven Years of Web Wrangling

9 May 2006

This month, my website is 7 years old.

In May 1999, I launched my personal website, Karyn Design (Karyn being my accidental, adopted “business name”, a mishmash of my English and Chinese name). The function of the site was to get a job as a web designer. It had a portfolio of all my advertising, graphic and web work, an online journal (called Soapbox), design articles, writings, photo gallery, information about me, digital art and graphics I created.

The most popular section of my site was my Soapbox. It was updated every day (I think they call them blogs these days) and I ran it a bit like an e-zine, or portal, or whatever the buzz word was in 1999. Back then, I was a lot more… uninhibited and unrestrained about sharing the small and intricate details of my life. After all, I was single, fully into the dating scene, enjoying the crazy life, and had lots of amusing stories to share.

In Version 2.0 (2000), my journal became the central focus of the website, and my writing became a bit more more poetic and ambiguous. The e-zine thing was too time consuming. I was dating an incredible guy (now husband). I started focusing on my career, travelling, life. Settling down and considering the future. I guess my life hit the jackpot – I fell in lurve. And my website took a back seat.

In Version 3.0 (2001), I wanted a fresh start and went back to the white background. I felt a little happier about sharing my day to day life with the world. My stories were a lot more whimsical and entertaining, but very article like and I didn’t update very often. I stuck with the colour-coded sections, with bright blue being the homepage colour again.

Version 4.0 (2001-2), I took my whole journal offline. I was now working as a freelance web designer and used my website as a basic contact point for clients. I didn’t do any advertising, most of my work came from word of mouth or from my existing contacts. I only had a small “about me” section, my resume and my portfolio.

My site wasn’t “designy” at all. It was kinda embarrassing. I was so busy working, that I didn’t have time to design a “proper” business website. (Ok bad excuse, I know). And what’s with the colour?? I think desaturated pastels were all the rage back then.

Version 5.0 (2002), I started to wind down my “business” and became very selective with the work I did. I was married, travelling, planning to have kids. I was bored and was itching to write again. I knocked together another mishmash site, something simple, non-designy, text focused. Nothing special. Notice how old that picture is?

And finally, Version 6.0 (May 2003), I added my sketchy design elements to the site. I became a stay at home mum and a fulltime blogger! I just love my sketchy borders! Haha I can’t seem to make myself part with them.

So it’s been seven years! I’ve got heaps more thoughts about the whole thing, but this post is massive enough already. I’ll write it up another day.

However, I’m curious to know how many people have been following my site since 1999/2000? Email me! I’d love to hear from you.

I Got My Ears Pierced

1 August 2003

I was 12. And I was going through my tom-boy phase.
My little sister and all my other little girly cousins went to the chemist to get their ears pierced. Pffft. Earrings are sissy.
They’d swap and share their plastic-bauble ones, fluoro-rubber ones, hippy-beady ones. Star-shaped, square-shaped, teddybear-shaped. Christmas, halloween, valentines. Ugh.
I couldn’t think of anything more boring.

So it’s 13 years later. And I’ll be honest. There’s nothing more than having a baby to inspire oneself to be young, be sexy and goddamnit, live a little. So this weekend I’m going to get my ears pierced!

I guess I never got around to getting them done.
Because by the time I turned 16, I discovered boys…
AND I discovered how they would go into a nibbling frenzie at the mere mention of “virgin ears”. Laugh.

Yup, so in the past few weeks I’ve been on countless shopping missions to find some earrings. Some niiice long dangly ones. I bought 3 pairs. They were a bit expensive, but hey. A girl must accessorise.

What I Wore: White Boots from 2005

16 March 2018

White Boots

​OK guys, cute / funny /somewhat tragic story here.

These boots are soooooo hot right now with ALL the uber-fashiony style-makers: white leather, pointed toe, kitten heel. They are exactly what you need to be wearing next season!

Kendall + Kylie have a version here.
Acne Studios have these cute kitten heel booties, better get in fast as they are almost sold out of all sizes in the white, but lots of sizes left in the black?!
Rab & Bone have these super sleek ones, but still kitten heels. Only one size left!
Or maybe you have a spare $890 for these Helmut Lang booties?!
These boots from Free People are a lot more affordable.
Or these sexy booties from Tibi (with a roundish heel).

The funny part is: I actually bought these boots in 2005!! That makes them 13 years old.

They are by an Australian brand called Zu, full leather inside and outside. They are such good quality and at the time they were around $150, but I bought them on a clearance sale for something like $37. I remember it was such a huge shopping win for me haha.

Why did I keep them?

Um. I’m not sure?! I think I only wore them once or twice. It’s not like I pull them out every winter and wear them.

Honestly I keep them in a tall shoe box (the one they came in), and they sit at the very bottom of my “tall boot box” stack. I give them a nod of acknowledgement every winter, when I pull out all the other boots that I wear. So the answer to why I keep them: laziness.

But look at me now. I totally look like an uber-fashiony style-maker HAHA.

White Boots

I’m also wearing:

Grana Boxy Pima Cotton Tee

Medium Rider Bag by Loeffler Randal

Lovers and Friends Elijah Mini Skirt

Coffee Catchup: March 2018

14 March 2018


Hellooo! It’s been ​such a long time since I’ve shared some updates on life!

So what’s been happening around here?

1) New Ambassador Based Projects.

I have a few new projects coming up. I’m super excited! Can’t wait to share more details in the next few days!

2) Freelance Digital / Art Direction / Blog Writing work.

Have I mentioned that I’m still juggling some freelance projects? Omg I’m so busy! Trying to finish up some jobs before I start new ones.

3) Philanthropy.

A few months ago I shared about how I’m involved with a group of WA philanthropists and how we’re trying to make a big difference with our pooled donations.

We gave away two $100,ooo grants (amazing!) back in October for projects that will make an impact in the local community. One project is about bringing people from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds together with the wider community through sharing meals, culinary skills, culture, education and work experience. Another project is a support program for career and employment workshops that will build the capacity of unemployed and low income women to secure and sustain employment.

I’m hoping to feature the two projects on my blog and talk about a few of the past winners too. Inspiring stuff!

4) New Website.

I have to confess. I have been working on a new website for 5 years now! Omg this version is so old… and over the years, my new version has gone through so many redesigns – I keep buying new themes, changing the code and then breaking them, fixing them, then getting bored and distracted haha.

The most time-consuming part is going through all my old posts (about 3000 of them!) deleting, editing, fixing links… it’s like I’m like editing a book of my life. It’s exhausting. I have 8 months worth of posts to transfer and I should be all good to go. But I’m sure something will come up and it’ll get pushed aside again!

5) Kindness.

At the end of last year, a few of my friends had some horrible experiences – targeted attacks, online trolls and just having to deal with some very unkind people. Paired with all the crazy shit happening around the world… I went through a kind of kind of internal, emotional turmoil that went up, down and full circle … but found myself at a place of peace and kindness.

This year I’m trying to live with more mindfulness and kindness. I deeply believe that a small word of kindness, a simple gesture, a thoughtful gift, a smile… can do SO MUCH.

I’m also trying to spend more time with REAL PEOPLE, and less time trying to connect over devices.

6) Holidays.

Hey hey, my husband and I have finally decided on our holiday plans for this year.

We’re off to Scotland then Istanbul for a few weeks. And maybe a trip in September (maybe China?) and November (Sydney). Omg the year will be over in a flash! So excited!

7) Adulting.

Ugh, I have spent the last month sorting out our finances. I looked through our home, health, car, life insurances and superannuation. I worked out the effectiveness of our bank accounts, credit cards, savings, mortgages and investments. I worked out our monthly spending, savings, big costs for the next 5 years. I looked into phone plans, internet, utilities. I did most of the big stuff about 10 years ago… so it was time for an update. I’m constantly tracking all our small stuff every year tho.

8) Kids

My kids have their birthdays coming up in the next few weeks, so this year they will be ages 15, 13 and 9.

My 15yo is loving his job (working in a cafe) and loving the fact that he has money. It has been such a great learning and developmental experience for him… most importantly, understanding that money comes from hard work. It was a breakthrough for him (and us) when he started to calculate how many hours of work it would take for him to pay for something. It was priceless! This year, he’s in Year 10 and doing really well in school/sports/friends/life in general. He’s a bit of an all-rounder, generally a great kid, very reasonable… and he has no idea what he wants to do in the future. At this stage, I’m not too worried about him yet :)

My 13yo is an all rounder too. He loves his creative subjects, but he also likes robotics, programming and building things. Surprisingly, he’s really organised with his homework, works hard and likes to be on top of things. I don’t need to nag him at all. I say “surprisingly” because his room is always in a complete mess, but he knows exactly where everything is. He’s in Year 8 and he’s also doing well in school/sports/friends. He’s a lovely kid and he’s so kind to me! Omg he has so much energy though and plays a mean game of basketball, chess and he’s great at mowing lawns too haha.

Both my older boys make their own food – simple teenager food – instant noodles, pasta, omelettes, bacon sandwiches, chicken + cheese wraps, pizza. They love making their own smoothies too. And as long as I keep the freezer stocked with frozen pizzas, pies and hash browns, they are pretty happy.

I love listening to their teenagery stories and opinions. It truly is the highlight of my day. I love catching up with the latest updates, news and gossip. And I love that they are to keen to try out new things!

My 9yo gets a bit bored at school, but he has a great group of friends, who are the only reason he enjoys going to school. He is so polite and obedient to his Year 4 teachers (he’s a freaking angel!). But he is full of complaints and criticisms, which I have to listen to after school, and has ALL kinds of opinions about what is being taught, how and how slow it all is – haha! I’ve challenged him many times to put his brains to good use, but to no avail.

I don’t do any extra learning with him anymore, because he’s too far ahead and it just makes him more arrogant and even more bored at school. So much comes so naturally and easily to him, thus when faced with actual hard work, he avoids it or works around it, and he doesn’t think it’s necessary to do any kind of extended learning or extra challenges… so I’m struggling to keep him motivated or interested in anything! I just need to find the right thing to fire up that spark in him?

In the meantime, we make him clean the toilet and bathroom once a week. He also has to sort, fold and put away ALL the weekly laundry for the whole family (that is, 5 people)! Nothing like menial domestic tasks and elbow grease to keep a smarty-pants kid humble haha!

I do feel a bit sad that I don’t talk about my kids anymore and sharing our conversations, our weekly topics and funny things we’ve learned. Braces! Teenagers and phone plans! Teenagers and Applepay! Teenagers and online shopping! High calorie diets! Study habits! My teenager wants to start investing?! I feel like there’s a huge chunk missing from my “online version of my life” on this blog. I’m hoping that might change soon!

OK that’s all from me!

Have a fantastic week!


Finished Reading: Emma by Jane Austen

7 March 2018

Emma by Jane Austen

After reading a popular sci-fi novel — written for 35 year old gamer guys — this book.

(Only kidding! Sorry, no judgement!)

I wanted to read something totally GIRLY. And you can’t get more girly than Jane Austen.

I did a bit of research to find the most popular Jane Austen Book (after Pride and Prejudice) and the answer was: Emma.

I actually haven’t watched the 1996 movie, starring Gwyneth Paltrow – because I knew that one day I would want to read the book. That’s 22 years people. How’s that for long term commitment?

My opinion: Typical Austen. Loved it. Prefer Pride and Prejudice.

See my current reading list here!

Go Big with These Styles For The New Season

27 February 2018

Yippee – who doesn’t love a big sale?!

In collaboration with Shopbop, I’ve curated a selection of fantastic items from their Go Big Spring Sale, keeping in mind, wardrobe longevity, versatility, and style hints for an updated look.

Enjoy 15% off orders over $200, 20% off orders over $500 and 25% off orders over $800. Simply use the code “GOBIG18″ at the checkout!

Shopbop Spring Sale

Cocktail Dresses

The other day I had a cocktail party to go to and I had a panic attack. Most of my dresses are cotton summer dresses and I only have 2-3 really nice cocktail dresses… which I have worn soooo many times already (it was starting to look a bit embarrassing), that I actually uttered the words “OMG I have nothing to wear!”.

I really believe in choosing and buying dresses that you can wear again and again. And these two are definite winners.

Lover Ingenue Slip Dress – This dusty rose colour will always be in style. Adjustable straps, easy length, you’ll definitely get lots of wears for weddings, cocktail parties, garden tea parties, horse races and more.

Self Portrait 3D Floral Azaelea Dress – Such a gorgeous dress for this new season. The red colour and 3D lace  just is stunning. You definitely can’t go wrong with this one.

Shopbop Spring Sale

Statement Kitten Heels

OK yes I know these are a tad expensive, but this is a Go Big sale after all! If you’re in the market for a statement splurge, kitten heels are the go.

Aquazzura Powder Puff 45 Sling Pumps – I’m love! I was seriously so tempted to buy these, but thankfully they are sold out in my size. Easy to wear kitten heel, with a fun pompom, pointed toe, cute AF. They’d be so perfect to wear with a simple dress or jeans and a tee. 25% off too.

Aquazzura Kisha 45 Pumps – White pointed-toe shoes are super popular this season. These have been sitting in my Shopping Cart for a while. You see, I have a pair of cheap & cheerful white ASOS pointed toe flats and have been considering to upgrade to something more luxe. I know these will be a classic for my wardrobe. Will last me years. Will go with everything.

Shopbop Spring Sale

Cute dress alert!

Tis true, I’m always on the lookout for sweet and simple dresses with a cute print.

Cupcakes and Cashmere Dezzi Spring Bouquet Floral Dress – Easy to wear, lovely colour and print. Not too bright and floral. Perfect for days you want to wear floral without looking TOO FLORAL – happens to me all the time.

re:named Ruffle Wrap Dress – This cutie is AUD$75. Again, another floral dress that is not IN YOUR FACE floral.


Shopbop Spring Sale

Mid Heel Magic

Ok perhaps this comes with age, but I’ve been loving my kitten heels lately. And when I wore my high heel stiletto shoes one night to a party, I almost cried. My feet were so sore! I’m tossing out my cheap heels, keeping my luxe ones, and I’m now slowly trying to buy a couple of good quality mid-heeled shoes so I can have more comfortable options.

Loeffler Randall Emi City Sandals – Lovely light nude colour to go with everything. Sleek and minimal design, with a stylish wave detail. Loafer Randall has the loveliest leathers, this will surely be nice and comfy.

Stuart Weitzman Nearlynude Sandals – Mr Weitzman is a master shoe maker and all his shoes seem like wardrobe classics. These are just gorgeous!


Shopbop Spring Sale

Square-neck Necklines

Square or straight necklines are fast becoming popular again. These work well with tank tops or dresses (I’m not a fan of the cap sleeve with a square neck look). I just adore these casual dresses because they are fun and flirty, yet their style and colours keep them versatile and wearable.

Bec & Bridge Under Eave Mini Dress – Perfect for a getaway or just the weekend. Denim and navy will always be a classic wardrobe colour. Love the hugging and flattering shape of this dress!

Steele Estate Dress – Another good-looking casual dress! I’m obsessed! This white and pinstripe pattern will last for many seasons.

Shopbop Spring Sale

Everyday Sling Back Heels

Ok you probably get the idea that low heels are back in fashion, especially sling backs. I love mine. So easy to slip on and off. A bit like flip flops, but much more stylish. Choosing shoes from a more affordable brand, still made from leather, in a classic, minimal look, will ensure they last you years.

Sam Edelman Ludlow Slingback Pumps – These are a more affordable version of kitten heels I bought a few months ago (reviewed here).

Steven Lourdes Slingback Flats – Go the white shoe! I hear you saying, “Um I don’t know about white shoes”… But if you are used to wearing white sneakers with jeans/pants/everything… you’ll probably be surprised how these white shoes will just go with everything, then you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them.

Hope you find something you love!

Happy shopping!


Extended Learning with Lego Mindstorms

18 February 2018

Lego Robot Printer

Hey hey, we’re all about EXTENDED LEARNING over here! ;)

While it sounds so academically enriching and profoundly challenging, it really just means: kids learning things outside of school, at their own level, at their own pace.

I have to admit that we do these things more as a “desperate attempt to entertain the kids” and “a way to get the kids off their screens” – ha!

In fact, I should have called this post: Cool Shit We Did During The Holidays.

We’ve dabbled in so many things at home over the years: gardening, camping, bush walking, rock collecting, stop motion animations, spheros (programable balls), electronics, carpentry, bicarb explosions, taking apart computers, melting metals… so much more, I can’t even remember.

Anyway, we bought our kids a set of Lego Mindstorms EV3 back in 2013.

My big boys were 10 and 8 years old, and they were obsessed with Lego blocks, so we felt it was a good step up into a whole new world of programming and creative thinking.

Over the years, both my big boys have chosen “Robotics” or “Programming” electives in Primary School, High School and a School Holiday Uni Course for Kids, and we discovered that all the schools use this same system + set.

Because our kids had the set at home, it gave them a head start, plus they were able to tinker, mess around and experiment without a time limit, which I think is really important for creative + fun learning.

They followed all the tutorials and made cars, robots and more. Even a Rubix cube solver!

They are good at it, they were interested in it. But I wouldn’t say they were passionate about it. Oh well.

These days, my kids are 15, 13 and 9.

During the 6 weeks of school holidays just gone, we had to “force” them to do something with the Mindstorms set, because honestly, given a choice, they would prefer to be on their devices, social media and YouTube.

So we enforced a “1 hour each day” rule and told them to make something cool. It could be whatever they wanted.

They just had to show some kind of research, goal, process, planning and creating.

Lego Robot Printer

One of my boys made a printer!

He just found the tutorial on YouTube.

I didn’t see the demo video or his goal, I just saw his planning and thought it’d be stupid (I’m such a supportive mum right?? Haha! Omg typical Asian mum – “Why waste your time?! Do something more ambitious and interesting!!”)

But thankfully my kid has a good level of self confidence and said, “Trust me mum, this will be really cool!”


Lego Robot Printer

Indeed, the result was SUPER cool. Hey, it was freaking mind blowing.

And I did apologise and tell him so.

Anyway, I’m hoping he can make me a coffee machine next.

Isabel Marant Leo Ballet Flats

8 February 2018

Isabel Marant Leo Flats

The most perfect addition to my shoe family!

I recently bought myself these Isabel Marant Leo Ballet Flats (they are still on 60% sale!).

Yes the style is a few years old, but I’m not really bothered about that. I like the idea of building a personal wardrobe with items that I adore, not necessarily what is currently trendy.

And I loooove the chic, boho Parisian feel of these flats!

They are very different to the rest of my shoes, which is important for me. As I don’t want to own 5 classic/statement shoes that all look the same.

A lot of fashion advisors would call Ballet Flats as “a building block for a classic wardrobe”. They’re right. Ballet flats will never go out of style!

But my thinking is: I already have so many classic pieces, that my classic wardrobe is looking a bit boring and kind of looks just like everyone else’s classic wardrobe!

I wanted to go a little beyond just plain ballet flats. I wanted to add a little style and personality to my building blocks haha!

So… I whittled my selections to these three lace up flats:

Isabel Marant Leo Ballet Flats, the Aquazzura Christy Flats or the Valentino Garavani Rockstud Noir Ballerinas (not really lace ups but they look kind of laced-up). The latter two were a bit more expensive and… well, I didn’t want too many pointed toe shoes.

Besides, like I said, I love the slightly boho casual feel of these, and these won because of their price.

Isabel Marant Leo Flats

I bought them from The Outnet. They were 60% off (still on sale)!

The tan coloured ones are also on sale, as are a whole heap of Isabel Marant items.

Because they were an old style, I did find them listed for sale on pre-loved designer sale sites, but they were all slightly scuffed, or the leather was slightly different. I decided to pay a little extra to buy them brand new, as I specifically wanted the suede leather and I plan to keep and wear them for years to come.

Isabel Marant Leo Flats

They have more of an almond toe style, and they are not a completely round toe. From the side, they still look a bit pointed and tapered, so that’s another thing I like about these.

They are soooo comfortable!!

But they are pretty tricky to get on and off. If I walk through a bit of dirt or sand, omg, sand always gets flicked up into the shoe, falls deep between my toes and scratches against my skin. And it’s not easy to slip them off and clean out the dirt. That’s a down side of the lace ups, I guess.

Isabel Marant Leo Flats

I’ve seen some photos of people lacing along the edge of the shoe, not criss-crossed across the foot, so I might try that one day.

I also noticed that Isabel Marant relaunched a slightly modified Leo Ballet Flat style last year (AW17) in smooth leather, with slightly bigger eyelets and leather lacing. I guess that means people still love and buy this style, which is good to know.

I can’t wait to wear them more in the seasons ahead!

Painting and Sipping

5 February 2018

On a bit of a whim, I went to a social art class with my sister!

There are a few of these classes happening around Perth, but the one we went to was called, Paint & Sip in Wembley.

How it works: Each evening has a “chosen painting”. You pay to book, you turn up, have a glass of alcohol, enjoy an array of cheese, fruit, dips, food, and a qualified artist will lead you through, step by step, to paint the chosen painting – with all the paints and equipment provided.

It’s a simple and fun idea. It’s not a “proper” art class. It’s supposed to be social, enjoyable and relaxed. You’re not supposed to take it too seriously… and you’re supposed to drink a few glasses of wine!

*I have to mention that both my sister and I don’t drink much alcohol… and we BOTH went to an art school (a high school with a specialised art program). We haven’t painted in YEARS and we were itching to pick up some brushes again… soooo we were definitely taking it quite seriously haha!

Social Paint + Sip Class 2018

Our chosen painting was “Oleanders” by Van Gogh.

I was super keen to do this painting because it’s a lovely, lesser-known painting by Van Gogh.

(I thought it’d be a bit cheesey to copy one of Van Gogh’s iconic paintings, such as Sunflowers or Starry Night, but that’s just me!)

First up: We made a grid on our canvas and sketched out the painting.

Social Paint + Sip Class 2018

The lovely artist, Lousie Collier, gave us lots of great advice, including which areas to work on first and which colours to use. She was awesome!

The paints were really good quality. So were the brushes.

She even provided rags, aprons and rubber gloves.

Social Paint + Sip Class 2018

I was drinking pineapple and coconut juice tonight, which looked just like my paint cleaning water haha!

Social Paint + Sip Class 2018

Look at my beautiful mess!

In terms of painting, I have more experience with oil paints. Oils take HOURS to dry, and you have to paint with them in a certain way.

In this session we used acrylic paints, which dry in 5 minutes (!!), so I found it quite tricky to change my painting style. It was a challenge and I liked it.

I also decided that I wanted to copy Van Gogh’s painting, rather than interpret it.

This was a new thing for me, as I don’t think I have ever tried to copy someone else’s painting down to the last stroke. When I used to paint, I just went with the flow of ideas in my head at the time. So this was more of an exercise of skill for me… a very fun one!

We had to mix our own colours too. Ooooh I loved it.

It was so much fun to have so many of my old skills come back.

And see how I stacked and criss-crossed my brushes on the palette? I used to do that exact same thing in high school. Even all my bad art habits came back haha.

Social Paint + Sip Class 2018

This is my work near the end of the session. Not finished!

The session started at 7pm… and by 10pm, everyone else had finished and started to pack up.

I worked on it for another 30 minutes, but really, I need another 3 hours.

It was 10:30pm and I had to take it home to finish it off… oh well.

(And given my list of priorities, I probably wouldn’t work on it again until the kids left home!)

Louise actually said I could stay as long as I wanted, but I was getting tired and I still had to drive home.

Social Paint + Sip Class 2018

So this is my unfinished work.

I’m a little meh about it right now. I’ll finish it one day!

It was so much fun to paint and such a good night!

Review: Grana Trench Coat in Camel

30 January 2018

Grana Trench Coat

The people at Grana have been very generous these last few months!

With all the Grana gear I’ve been reviewing, I feel I’m fast becoming an official reviewer haha – only kidding. I’m not getting paid to review these items! They simply suggest an item to me, I say yes or no, I pick the colour and size, they send it to me, I give it a fair go (wearing it around for two weeks or so), and I write what I think about it – the positive and negative.

I do spend some time looking for similar items at Zara, Myer, Target, Country Road and other high street stores… pondering the deep and meaningful questions: How does it compare? Why would someone buy this Grana item?

(Only jokes)

Grana Trench Coat

So! I picked out this Cotton Classic Trench in Camel (AU $259) as part of their latest Coats and Jackets range.

What I really like about it – Classic, double-breasted trench style. Minimal design. No embellishments!

There are no fancy buttons. No shoulder epaulets. No shiny buckles.

It’s really well made and has a high quality feel to it. The stitching, full inner lining, edges, cuffs, collar, the buttons,  the button stitching, button holes… are all fantastic!

The cotton fabric is smooth, soft to touch, strong, has a good weight to it and feels thick enough (to withstand a cold breeze).

It does feel a little stiff and doesn’t drape as luxuriously as I would have liked. Maybe I haven’t worn it long enough for it to soften up?

Sizing – I am a standard AU/ UK 6, so I ordered a Size XXS.

The coat length finishes below my knee.

Sleeves and shoulders are perfect, woohoo! They are not embarrassingly long, or awkwardly short!

It’s a regular fit across the chest. It’s not a slim fit.

I can easily wear a thermal singlet, a white button-down shirt, a thick knit sweater (3 layers underneath) and the coat will NOT feel tight across my chest, back or armpits. It feels perfect actually. I found it great for layering up.

However, when I try to wear as a Spring outfit, with a light top + jeans, or a dress, it feels a tiny bit big and roomy for me in the chest. But as you can see, it looks fine and it’s me being super picky. Would I really have a Winter trench and a Spring trench? Who am I?

I guess you could size down and get a slimmer fit for yourself. Or maybe you have bigger chest than me and ‘fill out’ the coat perfectly? Anyway, I’m already the smallest size, so I won’t be able to have that slimmer fit.

Be sure to check out the garment sizing, it includes body measurements and the product measurements. Very useful.

Grana Trench Coat

Colour – On the website, the coat looks like a pale light camel colour. But in real life it’s more yellowy/sand brown, so a bit more like the Burberry trench.

Quality – This coat is much better quality than what you’d find in H&M, Zara and ASOS.

It’s about the same quality as clothes from Country Road, which, it turns out, has a trench coat also selling for $299.

Basically I think it looks and feels like a really good quality coat for its price point!

Price – I guess you have to weigh up between quality vs quantity with this one. Yes $259 sounds a bit high to pay for a coat you haven’t tried on before. But then there are heaps of designer coats on, say Shopbop, between $300 – $750. So in comparison, $259 is pretty good.

Years ago I reviewed a beige trench coat from the ASOS brand and I *think* it was around $80… it looked great, but the fabric was stiff and it wasn’t very fluid. It was OK for a cheap and cheerful coat… but I gave it away after a while, because I  didn’t love it. I’m not saying everything from ASOS is bad though! I guess I’m saying, you get what you pay for.

I definitely can’t wait for winter, so I can layer up with a white shirt, cashmere jumper, jeans and long boots.

Would I recommend to my friends? Yes! Totally. The classic style is gorgeous. The perfect fit across the shoulders and arm length is worth it (for petite shorties like me!) .

And lastly, Grana have once again given me a discount to share:

Special Discount Code

If you’re a new customer, you can use my code “karenxgrana” to enjoy 10% off your order and free shipping!

No Markup Sale

Oh hey, and Grana still have their “No Markup Sale” with lots of items still for sale. You might pick up a bargain. Do check it out!



The Magic of a Song List

4 January 2018

It’s about 10pm right now. I’m sitting in our living room. By myself.

My husband and 12yo boy are out of town for a few days, visiting some friends. So it’s just me, my 14yo and 8yo.

Earlier this evening I had a terrible few hours of trying to get my 8yo to stop playing computer games, eat his dinner, brush his teeth and go to bed. Arguments, tantrums, tears! So much shouting. So many horrible things said out of anger (him and me). Ergh I shouldn’t have let him play computer games at that time of day.

It was 9pm by the time he got to bed. I was exhausted, shaken and frazzled. It was probably 8/10 on the awfulness scale. I was on the verge of tears or some kind of nervous breakdown. (I think most people in my position would pour themselves a glass of wine?)

Sensing I needed a bit of cheering up, my 14yo leapt up to show me this “cool new thing” on the internet ( where you can put together your favourite songs from 2017 on Spotify – it was so sweet of him! He put together a song list for me, he was all chirpy, smiley and full of jokes, he showed me how to play it, then he volunteered to do the dishes, wash the pots, clean up the kitchen, and left me to enjoy my music.

Aww man. What a sweetie. I felt so lucky. What an amazing young man he’s growing up to be.

I did shed a tear or two, but they were happy ones.

(On a side note, apparently I listened to 69,538 minutes of music this year!)

Edit: My 8yo woke up and gave me a cuddle and kiss on the cheek the next morning. He said sorry for the fight and he promised to work on having a better day. He even suggested things we could do together to that would make me happy.

Sigh. He’s also such a sweet boy, who’s crazy-super-devoted to me… when he’s not being a monster haha!

My Baby Succulent Nursery

3 January 2018

Stolen Succulent

This is me with a stolen piece of succulent plant!

I was at a cafe and I spotted a cool looking succulent in the cafe’s toilet. I asked a waitress if I could have a little piece and she had no idea what I was talking about (sigh!), and she said she’d ask the owner, but she didn’t get back to me. So I pinched a piece anyway. And so it’s not reeeeeally stolen?!

When we bought our first house 15 years ago, I was obsessed with succulents.

I had so many! I knew the names of them!

But then I had children. So my interest in them waned. I could barely have a shower and look after myself, let alone look after a couple of house plants.

Now I’m back at it.

I have a mental wishlist of succulents I need in order to complete my collection.

When I go on my weekly runs, I often look into people’s gardens and if I spot a succulent I want… I knock on their door to ask if I could break off a little branch so I can propagate it.

In fact, when I go for my runs, I always carry a bit of cash (2 x $5 notes) for coffee, for a snack, for emergency water or…. for the instance I come across a succulent and someone is reluctant to give me a branch for free, so at least I have $5 to offer them???

Hasn’t happened yet, but I’m always prepared for it haha!

Rare succulents can be over $20!

You only need one leaf to propagate a whole succulent.

You need a lot of time too.

Baby Succulents 2017

Here is my succulent baby nursery. The one on the left is a baby orchid.

They are my babies. My new children. Who don’t talk back.

Look how well they are doing!

I’m so proud of them.

Baby Succulents 2017

These guys have been growing for 6 months.

They are so bright, green, glossy and… succulent.

I keep their leaves polished too!

Baby Succulents 2017

These guys are new additions, from my sister’s house. Including the one I stole from the cafe.

All looking very young and perky. Doing rather nicely!

I’m also on the hunt from op-shopped terracotta pots and retro bowls, to grow them in. As I have LOTS more bigger succulents in my garden.

I definitely see 2018 as a year of daggy hobbies :)

Ending the Year with Hot Yoga

31 December 2017

Hot Yoga on New Years Eve

I ate soooo much over the Christmas break. So much ham. So much chicken.

And like every good new year cliche, I decided to end the year doing something positive – rather than ending up a food coma!

It’s been 9 months (I think) since I’ve been to a hot yoga class. I was very surprised that I could keep up with the instructor. I did quite well! So happy!

But I forgot about all the sweat. Omg the sweat!

Imagine someone using a water spray bottle and squirting it into your armpits, until the water is dripping – no trickling – like a little stream, down your body, puddling in your bra strap. It’s such a weird sensation.

And who would have thought that sweat was so salty?!

It was pouring down my face, dripping into the corners of my mouth (Bleh! I was drinking my own sweat! You can’t really spit on the ground in class! Gotta sip it up! Eeew!). And my eyes too. I was wincing in pain from the salt stinging my eyes, making my vision blurry. I tried to wipe my eyes with my shoulder, but my shoulder, my forearm, the back of my hands were all soaking wet.

I was pretty much having a shower in my own sweat.

But you know, it all isn’t that bad.

The ultimate gross-ness is AFTER the class: It’s when I am returning my borrowed foam block to the back of the studio hall, walking across the floor and stepping in the puddles of OTHER PEOPLE’S SWEAT. Then dragging the collective sweat around the floor and stepping in other people’s collective sweat + feet sweat, which has been there for a a bit longer, so it’s slightly colder sweat.

Haha it’s sooooo gross!!

But thankfully I had a shower and I felt that beeeaaaautiful glow all over my body that reminded me why I love it so much. Kinda!

Wearing Jeans and a Nice Top + FWRD Sale

5 December 2017

Self Portrait Top - FWRD Sale

I’ve been trying to add a few more NICE tops into my wardrobe lately.

It makes a lot of sense to invest in a nice going-out top (instead of a dress), because you can wear the top many more times than a dress – with jeans, pants, mini skirt, max skirt, culottes and more.

But yep, nice tops are hard to find!

Today I’m collaborating with FWRD to feature a few of my picks from their new Sale on Sale event.

Basically you get extra 20% off sale items for the next 3 days!

That’s pretty good, if you’r into designer labels :)

Simply use the code “TREAT4U” at the checkout. Sale ends Friday, 8 Dec 2017 at 12:59am (WA time).

Self Portrait Top - FWRD Sale

I picked out this gorgeous Self-Portrait Filcoupe Top, which worked out to be 50% off in the end — woohoo!

Initially I had my eye on the yellow version, but it was already sold out. This blue version is just as pretty, and it was probably the more sensible choice for my wardrobe.

I am totally in love with it!

I picked the Size 2, because I have a Self-Portrait dress in Size 0 and it’s um, very snug. I have to suck my tummy in the whole time I wear it, haha. So I was looking for a looser fit with the Size 2. Besides, the sizing for both Size 0 and 2, indicates that the top’s length and sleeve length were exactly the same.

What do you think about the sleeve length on me? A bit long? I can’t decide if it looks a bit wrong, because my judgement is heavily clouded by how pretty it is – haha.

It has a flare hem and the ruffle continues across my body, so it was a little tricky to tuck into my jeans, but I kind of liked the boofy-ness. Maybe it will tuck in better when I wear a higher cut jeans.

Self Portrait Top from FWRD

This is what it looks like when it is untucked.

You can notice how sheer it is when it’s over my black jeans, but it still looks soooo nice! I loooove it! I’m so biased!

I’m wearing my black skinny jeans from Frame Jeans, Mansur Gavriel Mini Mini Bag (also from FWRD) and Alexander Wang Heels (that I bought from FWRD about 3 years ago).

OK so to further inspire you, here are some tops I picked out from their Sale on Sale section:

FWRD Clearance Sale 2017

SELF-PORTRAIT Filcoupe Top – oh no, the same top is now sold out, sorry guys.

TIBI Off Shoulder Top – Tibi does some pretty nice tops, in luxurious fabrics. Definitely a top investment with this one. So versatile!

FWRD Clearance Sale 2017

T BY ALEXANDER WANG Cold Shoulder Top – I picked this top because it’s so slinky, versatile… and $100 (after discount) is pretty sweet for an Alexander Wang piece.

TIBI V Neck Top – Again, I love me some Tibi silk. I love the buckles on the back. I added this one to my cart, but it was 2 sizes too big, oops.

FWRD Clearance Sale 2017

RACHEL COMEY Euphora Top – I really like unique looking necklines, especially mixed with statement ruffles. It’s a perfect summer piece and great for a day time look.

TANYA TAYLOR Edie Top – This deep magenta colour is so pretty. Especially when it’s 100% silk with delicate ruffles.

FWRD Clearance Sale 2017

ZIMMERMANN Gingham Frill Top – Can’t go wrong with Zimmermann. Their pieces are often very delicate and floral, but this top is a little different. It has a casual beachy look to it, but still versatile for day and night.

TIBI One Shoulder Bell Sleeve Top – I also had my eye on this top, as it’s sweet and simple twist to the classic white cotton top.

Hope you enjoy my picks!

Happy shopping! xx

Exploring the City of Perth Christmas Lights Trail

1 December 2017

(Brought to you by the City of Perth)

City of Perth Christmas 2017

The City of Perth recently launched their The City at Christmas program and invited me to check it out. It sounded fantastic, because I’m always up for fun + free things for my family to see and do!

I love visiting the city during this time. The whole area comes alive with lights, decorations, activities, colour and music. And in the last few years, they’ve really struck a good thing by bringing in food markets, hawker food stalls, farmer’s markets, craft markets and open-air movies, appealing to a wide audience.

This year, the City of Perth have lots of brand new Christmas events, in particular the new “Christmas Lights Trail” featuring 16 light installations, spread throughout the city.

It comes with a map (download here), to encourage exploring around the city.

I knew my kids would love it, so I dragged them out to go exploring one evening! (Only took two kids, as the third had something else on).

City of Perth Christmas 2017

This is the Giant Bauble on Murray Street Mall. During the day it looks a bit lifeless, but once the sun sets and the lights come on, it’s quite cool.

It’s a great place for photos and selfies with the family.

My first photo in this post (scroll up!) showed the Christmas Lights Tunnel in The Piazza, Northbridge. It’s a 24m tunnel made with over 5km of lights.

That was a really awesome installation too.

City of Perth Christmas 2017

Our next favourite would have to be the Christmas Constellation in Forrest Place. It’s a huge array of dangling lights, in a cylindrical shape, that changes colour and animates to music. It is SO pretty and very mesmerising to watch.

As you can see, I took a lot of photos of the cool colours and I couldn’t choose which I liked the most.

City of Perth Christmas 2017

After that we walked from Forrest Place and headed towards St Georges Terrace.

My kids insisted we stop at the 7-Eleven (corner of Hay and Barrack) to pick up a few $1 Slurpees, and we made our way to Cathedral Square to view the Christmas Projections at St George’s Cathedral.

City of Perth Christmas 2017

This was definitely my favourite light installation. It was cute, soothing, happy and playful.

I loved the contrasting dark shadows created by the architecture.

There were so many people sitting on the grass, taking photos and enjoying the animated projections. It was a lovely atmosphere.

City of Perth Christmas 2017

Then immediately across the road, opposite the Cathedral was the Council House Lights display. It uses 20,000 LED lights to animate the colours of the rainbow.

I’ve seen this display before, but I still love it because it looks so happy and cheerful.

My Visit Plan

As I mentioned before, there are 16 installations, spread out all over the city, so it’s quite a walk. Here’s the map for downloading.

I actually went into the city the day before to plan my night walk, to see all the installations, to pick out which ones were worth coming back to photograph, and which my kids would like. I did the whole walk and I was pretty tired by the end, especially after carrying all my camera gear.

So this is what I did:

I parked at the State Library CPP Car Park (in the Perth Cultural Centre) at 7pm.

We walked into Northbridge to grab some take away dinner (chicken kebabs) and went to see the Christmas Lights Tunnel (as shown in the first photo of my post)

Then we walked to Forrest Place, where there were about 5 installations. We walked to Cathedral Square, picked up some dessert along the way, sat on the grass outside the cathedral to eat our dessert and chill out.

We probably could have seen more, but we were pretty tired and we had to walk back to the car. By the time I got back to my car, it was 9pm.

It was such a fun and novel evening for us (especially on a school night!) and my kids loved it.

City of Perth Christmas 2017

(This was one of the installations I didn’t take my kids to. It was the Giant Christmas Tree at Brookfield Place. It was pretty and stylish, but it wasn’t interactive.)

More information about the Christmas Lights Trail here:

Christmas Carnival

Another new event for The City at Christmas program will be the Christmas Carnival at Forrest Chase, which features kiddie rides and activities.

It is a free event on Saturday 9 Dec and Sunday 10 Dec, recommended for children aged up to 10 years old. There will be fiesta balloons, merry go round, ferris wheel, human soccer table, mega-trampolines and craft workshops.

There will also be street entertainers, and food and produce market stalls set up all along the Murray St Mall, so you can grab a treat too.

More information here:

City of Perth Christmas 2017

Santa in the City Competition

I also want to share that the City of Perth are running a cool Instagram competition to win a prize pack – an overnight stay at Crowne Plaza Perth (for family of four), $250 H&M voucher and Pottery Barn stockings.

Simply pick up a free cardboard “Santa on a stick” from the iCity Kiosk (Forrest Chase), take a picture of him doing something around the city, such as Santa hanging out at Elizabeth Quay, eating sushi in Northbridge or enjoying the view at Kings Park. The more creative the better!

Make sure you use the hashtag #santainperthcity to enter. Competition closes 15 Dec 2017. Pop over to for more information, full terms and conditions and boundaries of the City of Perth.

And hey, if you’re doing the Christmas Lights Trail, check out the Instagram hashtag #TheCityatChristmas and have fun!


What I Wore: Tularosa Dress (with Revolve and FWRD Black Friday Sale Picks)

24 November 2017

Tularosa x Revolve Dress

Happy Friday!

Wow did your email inbox EXPLODE from all the Black Friday Sales messages this morning?!?

I had been quite unprepared for the avalanche of sales, but I’m soooo glad because it’s such a great time to save on things I was planning to buy anyway, such as homewares, Christmas presents and stuff I’ve had my eye on for the loooongest time.

I’m so excited to share that both Revolve and FWRD are having their Black Friday Sales, with up to 65% Off + Free Shipping over $100 from 24 – 26 November.

A lot of the items I have featured on my site are currently on sale, including this Tularosa Marty Dress, which is 40% off. I’ve had it for about 5 months and it’s still one of my favourite weekend dresses.

Tularosa x Revolve Dress

I always feel that Revolve is best for buying dresses, tops and denim. Their items are usually a bit higher in price than high-street brands, but their quality is usually much better and their styles are a little more unique too.

Here are some of my picks!

Revolv Black Friday Sale 2017

These dresses are all on sale, priced under AU$50.

One is $40 and still so many sizes from XS through to L. So good!

See them here – Dresses on Sale. They really do have such a droll worthy selection.

Revolv Black Friday Sale 2017

And these tops are under AU$60!

See all Off-Shoulder Tops on sale here.


FWRD has always been one of my favourite online stores for discounted designer items. I’ve been shopping here for years. I’m completely thrilled to be working with them!

They are also having an Up to 65% Off Sale + Free Shipping over $100 from 24 – 26 November.

I feel that FWRD is best for designer bag, shoes and accessories, so here are my picks.

FWRD Black Friday Sale 2017

Yep there are high-end designer brands such as Givenchy, 3.1 Phillip Lim, YSL, Valentino, Proenza Schouler, Saint Laurent, all with major discounts.

All these pictured here are on 30% – 50% off sale, making them approximately from AU$270 – AU$1800.

Eeek I’m so tempted by that PS1 Mini Cross Body in Red (bottom left)!

See all Designer Bags on sale at FWRD.


FWRD Black Friday Sale 2017

And for shoes and accessories, you can find Isabel Marant, Sophia Webster, K Jacques, Aquazzura, Acne Studios and more.

Shop Designer Accessories or shop Designer Shoes here.

Happy shopping!


What Goes In

20 November 2017


The Picture of Dorian Gray

I recently finished reading The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and I didn’t realise it was such a dark and sad book. Brilliantly written, but so sad when you consider how Wilde’s real life turned out.

As I moved on to my next book, I made a decision to unsubscribe to almost all my Facebook news feeds and reduce my social media time.

I just wanted to read more books this year. And I felt that I was being distracted and sucked in by “online reading”, which isn’t like book reading at all, because I don’t remember anything I’ve read, even though I was “online reading” for 3 hours?!

I’m a believer of being “very selective with my input”.

Referring to: all the things that enter my head, mind and spirit.

It includes everything from TV shows, movies, youtube videos, sensationalised news, click-bait articles, Facebook comments, instagram feeds, to people, conversations, relationships and friendships.

Basically I try to stay away from things that are negative, toxic, destructive, needlessly over-dramatic and pointless.

I seriously don’t have time for that.

In my 20s, I wanted to experience everything! I experimented, explored and exposed myself to so much!

But now (I’m sure it comes with age) I am so precious with my time, my mind, my energies.

I try to focus on things that are important.

My family, my health, my friends, my relationships, my projects, my passions… and how I’m going to live the next 40-50 years of my life!

So here’s to 5 more decades of not being a slave to Facebook!