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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.

A Wishlist for Christmas and Beyond

24 November 2015

Yep, I will admit it. After buying stacks of lovely Christmas presents for my partner, my kids, my parents, my siblings, my girlfriends… I like to buy a Christmas present for myself too.

Christmas Wishlist 2015

So I often find “Christmas Gift Guides” to be quite problematic!

They often feature items that I never actually thought of owning or buying until it’s Christmas. Do I really need a celebrity branded tea cup set? Do I really need Festive Special Edition candles? Do I really need decorative lantern fairy lights? Haha probably not!

So instead of a typical Christmas gift guide, today I’m sharing a “wishlist” of things that I had wanted for aaaaaages and that I am now so, so happy that I own.

They all cost under $100.

Some of these items are classics, or brand favourites, or best sellers, or just affordable, good quality items that I have considered, tested, and acquired over some time – so they are not really a wishlist for me anymore.

I guess I hope to inspire you, during the upcoming season, to save up for things that you’ll truly love, beyond Christmas!

Christmas Wishlist 2015

A really good set of active wear pieces.

This dreamy top and bottom (how gorgeous are the spots??) are from Abi and Joseph.

They are made from a luxurious, high-quality fabric that feels amazing to wear. I’m quite a fan of their gear.

Pieces from their collection are slightly more affordable than other brands, but I think they are equal in high performance support, design and quality.

For the Spot Me High Support Bra, I wear a size XS (I’m usually a AU6) and for the Spot Me High Waisted 3/4 Tight, I also wear the XS – and they both fit perfectly.

xmaswisChristmas Wishlist 2015hlist03

Lightweight Black and White Sneakers

It’s a fact, black and white go with everything… and these sneakers are probably the most versatile and most worn sneakers in my entire collection right now.

Obviously they are great for running, going to the gym and working out, but they also look great with regular jeans, leggings and shorts too.

A most excellent purchase and wardrobe addition!

Christmas Wishlist 2015

Nars Duo Blush and Bronzer (Orgasm and Laguna)

Everyone raves about these two colours. They have been best sellers for years and are constantly in fashion and beauty magazines. Everyone, online and offline, dark skin and light skin, gives it a 4 to 5 star rating. How can it suit such a broad range of skin colours and types? I was so skeptical!

Well I recently succumbed to the hype surrounding this Duo Palette and bought one without trying it. My response? OH WOW. The blush really does give my cheeks a subtle, natural glow… without looking glittery or fake and doll-like.

And the bronzer! Sheesh, out of all the bronzers I’ve ever tried, this adds the most natural boozing warmth colour to my cheeks ever!

A Luxe SPF50+ Sun Cream

There are so many on the market these days, but I suggest you pop into a specialty, multi-brand makeup shop like Sephora or Mecca, to find one that really works with your skin and DOESN’T make you look greasy.

I have tried so many pharmacy brand SPF50+ creams that cost around $15 – $23, that say they are “oil free, non greasy, no shine, matte formula”… but really, they are not!

So I have learned, if I just pay a little more for a really good quality SPF50+ sun cream that makes my face look and feel great under my makeup, then I’ll wear it more often. Simple as that.

May as well pay for something a bit nicer that I will wear more.

Christmas Wishlist 2015

A Simple Silver Bangle

Although this bangle is just costume jewellery, I adore its simple and minimal design. I find that it goes with so many of my outfits, it’s easy to wear, it’s easy to match and I end up wearing it every day.

So I’m actually thinking I might save upfor next Christmas to get myself a real silver or white gold bangle, because I have a feeling that I’ll be wearing it for years and want it to last.

Christmas Wishlist 2015

Pointed Toe Flats

These flats are a recent purchase. Most of all my other flats are more round-toe ballet style. I don’t know why I haven’t bought a pair of pointed toe flats before, as I have so many pointed-toe heeled shoes! They add such a stylish tick to all my casual outfits – especially when wearing jeans.

I prefer this simple, classic style to the strappy, lace-up ones which are pretty popular at the moment.

These are Charles and Keith Pointed Flats $63 or these ASOS Mouse Face Flats for $40.

Christmas Wishlist 2015

Diptyque Candles

You can’t really go wrong with luxurious Parisian scented candles!

With so many other candle brands and fragrances on the market, this is still my favourite scent, followed by Figuier.

I have been buying these for years… and I know I’ll be buying them till I grow old and wrinkly!

Christmas Wishlist 2015

Lightweight Statement Sunglasses

These sunglasses are not very “statement” along the spectrum of “statement sunglasses”. 

But they enough of a statement for me! They are fun, quirky and lightweight. 

I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I wear my luxe sunglasses, I find that they can be quite chunky and heavy from the weight of the glass and acetate, and I’m often left with a mark on the bridge of my nose. Sometimes the marks stays for hours and it’s really annoying.

There’s much to be said for good quality, lightweight sunglasses that don’t cost the earth. There’s a certain liberation I feel, knowing I don’t have to be so precious with them, yet they look great. 

These babies are from Hello Parry, who have a very nice collection of bold and affordable eye wear. 

Christmas Wishlist 2015

And lastly…

My Black Leather Watch

Constantly on my wrist, it feels like my second skin.

Lightweight, comfortable, simple, classic design – my watch is one of my favourite daily accessories. I also like it because it didn’t cost the earth.

Yep there are a few brands who have a similar design, but these are by an Australian label, The Horse and I bought it from SurfStitch when it was on sale.

Enjoy your Christmas shopping and I hope you find something that you like.


Girls Trip to Singapore 2015 – Day 1

18 November 2015

My girlfriends and I organised a quick trip to Singapore.

We had a very simple plan. We wanted to eat local food, try new cafes and trendy bars, get manicures, have high tea, go to little fashion boutiques and independent specialty stores, and do a bit of shopping.

Basically, we wanted to enjoy 4 days of doing girly stuff, without husbands or kids!

Being mothers, it has been so incredibly rare for us to have this kind of lengthy girl time together… so during our whole trip, we were constantly pinching ourselves and lapping up our relaxing, kid-free schedule.

Yet at the same time – hilariously – we were missing our little babies so much!

Singapore, Maxwell Food Centre 2015

We landed in Singapore in the evening and head straight to the Maxwell Food Centre.

I used to work in Singapore (in my early 20s) and I used to come to this food centre every day.

The food was soooooo good and soooooo cheap.

Singapore, Maxwell Food Centre 2015

My absolute favourite dish was the Char Kway Teow (the fried flat noodles on the banana leaf plate). I used to eat it twice a week!

Of course I couldn’t find the same stall or the same Chinese uncle who used to cook my noodles, so I bought a plate from another stall. It was OK. It was a bit sweet. It did not make my toes curl with delight.

My friend had the Lor Mee (yellow noodles with gravy) which was pretty good.

Singapore, Maxwell Food Centre 2015

My other girlfriend waited in a ridiculously long queue for Singapore’s famous Tian Tian Hiananese Chicken Rice, which apparently has been endorsed by countless international celebrity chefs.

I was rather skeptical about all the hype… until I took a mouthful!

WHOA, it was freaking amazing! The chicken was so silky soft and tasty, the rice was so fragrant and the sauce was absolutely delicious. But I think what made it even better was that it was $4!!

It was definitely the winning dish of the night.

Singapore, Chinatown 2015

After all that eating, we needed a bit of a WALK before we even contemplated having drinks at a bar.

We headed over to Chinatown, and took a stroll through the outdoor markets on Sago Street, where I spied these pretty ceramic bowls.

Singapore, Chinatown 2015

I bought a wedge of fresh watermelon in a bag (for $1) as we walked through the markets. Reminded me of my childhood!

We also walked along Smith Street, Temple Street and Pagoda Street and saw some temples (including the Sri Mariamman Temple). I’ve actually seen it all before, years ago though!

It was all very close to each other, and the weather that evening was just lovely for a stroll.

Singapore, Club Street 2015

We walked over to Ann Siang Road, where there were lots of restaurants and bars.

Singapore, Club Street 2015

We ended up on Club Street for drinks.

I was actually dying for a coffee, but I had a mocktail instead haha!

I had been up since 4am (to catch a plane) so I was really tired and ready for bed.

(I’ll be writing about our Day 2: visiting some wet markets, a delicious bakery, finding a gorgeous little bookstore, going to a fashion/homewares/jewellery fair, having a posh high tea and shopping on Orchard Road! We packed in so much in one day!)

Cupcake and Cake Stand Gift

8 November 2015

Cupcakes For Curi

I had wanted to do this for the longest time!

So the other week, I wanted to say a great, big, heartfelt thanks to my hair stylists – a husband and wife team at Curi Hair in Subiaco.

I feel very thankful and grateful to them for supporting me and my blog. They have become my friends over the years and I love catching up with them each time I pop in.

So I made some chocolate cupcakes, iced them and decorated them with red roses from my garden, bought a lovely glass cake stand and presented the whole lot to them!

I’m so happy with how it turned out!

(I bought the cake stand from Wheel&Barrow, but the model I bought is sold out now.)


The Color Run – With Kids and Sparkles

5 November 2015

I recently did The Color Run with my two older kids (ages 12 and 10) and it was SO MUCH FUN!

The Color Run 2015

Yes, this was us, taking selfies at the starting line!

I have done the run before – two years ago with my girlfriends (I wrote about it in this post)… and I was surprised by how many kids and families were there. So I was keen to take my kids the next time it came back to our city.

The event isn’t really a RUN… it’s a jog.

A fun, 5km jog!

That suited me just fine.

Dotted along the 5km course are colour zones, where coloured powder is thrown at you while you run. There was a blue zone, yellow, orange, purple etc… and this year there was a new sparkle glitter zone and a new foam/snow zone!

While the event volunteers try to aim at your clothes, the colour and glitter goes everywhere, which is all part of the fun.

The Color Run 2015

My boys had a LOT of fun!

They really enjoyed the messy nature of the event and getting completely splattered with colour.

I liked the free fresh fruit at the end, the music, the relaxed vibe and the crowd of happy people.

The Color Run 2015

We hung around after the run, and loved watching the crowd of people throwing colour in the air.

We took some cool video and slow-motion video too.

The Color Run 2015

We chilled out on the grass and enjoyed the sunshine.

We arranged some flatlays and the grass… and I am embarrassed to admit that my 10 year old’s flatlay was better than my flatlay haha!

The Color Run 2015

Here’s our obligatory before and after photo.

It was seriously, so much fun!

We hope to do it again next year with more friends :)

GENERICS Urban Apothecary – Beauty Survival Kit and Cleopatra’s Rose Milk Bath

27 October 2015

After a crappy and hormonal day yesterday, I was feeling so BLAAAH that I decided to take this morning off to cheer myself up.

Usually I like to 1) get stuff done to feel productive, 2) bake something yummy and beautiful to feel creative, 3) force myself to exercise so I feel all righteous, 4) force myself to clean my house so I feel cleansed, or 5) do something a bit unexpected to lift my spirits.

(I don’t go shopping because that always goes wrong!!)

Anyway, today I needed a serious case of spirit lifting!

I road tested the new Beauty Survival Kit by GENERICS Urban Apothecary.

GENERICS Urban Apothecary, Beauty Survival Kit

GENERICS Urban Apothecary is a new brand offering a range of simple, affordable, handmade skincare using premium Australian certified organic and natural ingredients.

They are paraben free, SLS free, no artificial fragrances, no animal cruelty and no toxic chemicals.

The unisex range includes mud masks, lip balms, moisturisers, cleansers, hand creme, hair care & spa care.

When I visited the store, all the smells and scents wafting around the shop were just heavenly!

GENERICS Urban Apothecary, Beauty Survival Kit

This Beauty Survival Kit is a limited edition set, retailing for $99, with a $255 total value of all the individual items.

There is a mineral body mask, organic body lotion, organic body custard, vegan lip balm, lip brush, mascara wand, dual eye shadow brush, eye shadow / highlighting brush, organic botanical perfume, tinned vegan soy candle, organic face moisturiser… and the best selling Cleopatra’s Rose Milk Bath.

GENERICS Urban Apothecary, Beauty Survival Kit

Cleopatra’s Rose Milk Bath

Oh what a treat! I haven’t had a foot soak in years!

Knowing that I was going to take some pretty photos, I snipped a huge bunch of fresh roses from my garden to decorate my tub.

I blocked out 1 hour from my schedule, I grabbed a book, armed myself with a towel and set up a little basin of hot/warm water.

I sprinkled half the milk bath powder into the water, although I think I was supposed to use more.

I gave it a stir and the gorgeous rose fragrance filled my living room.
GENERICS Urban Apothecary, Beauty Survival Kit

The foot soak was AMAZING!

It was immediately calming, relaxing and totally indulgent.

After the soak (less than an hour), my feet felt so refreshed and soft. You can use them in a regular bath too, which I imagine would be equally amazing.

These vials of milk bath powder would make great Christmas presents too!

Hope you enjoyed my photos!

They were so fun (and relaxing) to take :)

Philosophy’s Renewed Hope in a Jar

24 October 2015

Hope in a Jar

I have used many Philosophy products over the years and I have many favourites, including this one Hope in a Jar.

After many years, they have recently launched the brand new formula and renamed it, Renewed Hope in a Jar.

I’ve been loving it as my day time moisturiser.

It is a lightweight, whipped moisturiser that features a blend of alpha hydroxy acids and hyaluronate. It promises to refine and smooth the skin, improves pores, fine lines and provide all day hydration.

Also it is formulated without parabens or sulphates, which is great.

I have been testing lots and lots of skincare products at the moment, but it’s nice to fall back on old favourites.

I adore it because it dosn’t feel greasy, it leaves my skin feeling dewy, and I like that it has some active ingredients to work on my skin throughout the day :)

You can pick it up online from SephoraStrawberrynet, or Adore Beauty.


ECCO Soft 7 Sneaker Giveaway

19 October 2015

Brought to you by Ecco Shoes Australia

ECCO Soft 7 Sneakers

Do you remember… back in 2011, I was given the opportunity to fly to Denmark (courtesy of ECCO Shoes) to attend Copenhagen Fashion Week and also given a tour of the ECCO shoes headquarters?

Well I’m working with ECCO Shoes once again, this time we are offering one of my readers a chance to win a pair of ECCO shoes sneakers from their latest Soft 7 collection!

Please scroll to the bottom of this post to check it out!

ECCO Shoes Soft 7 Sneakers

This is me, on my street, showing off my new Soft 7 Sneakers.

YES! They are amazing! They are sooooo soft, comfortable, light weight, and super flexible. The quality of the leather, uppers, inlay and sole… IS OUT OF THIS WORLD!!

I’ve never owned super-duper luxurious leather sneakers before – eeep!

Although the Soft 7 Low Sneakers are bestsellers and that “tennis shoe” sneaker style is phenomenally popular these days….

I chose the Soft 7 High Top Sneakers, because they are a bit different, I already have low-style sneakers, and I have always wanted white high tops. They are simply amazing to wear!

Most high tops tend to feel restrictive for your ankle; you can’t really turn your foot very well, and sometimes the shoe rubs at the back of your ankle. But on these Soft 7 shoes, there is a little groove in the lip of the shoe at the back of the ankle (see the product photos here), which makes the shoes really comfortable to walk in and rotate your foot.

ECCO Soft 7 Sneakers

I styled up the shoes in 3 different ways that I would wear them.

First is a clean, simple everyday style – white silk shirt (from Equipment), blue skinny jeans (from Jeanswest), silver earring studs… covered up by my hair (by Rebecca Minkoff from Shopbop).

ECCO Soft 7 Sneakers


The other day I drove around town doing a bunch of errands, wearing this simple get up.

It was cold and rainy, and I needed a hat to hide my unwashed hair!

Grey Tee (from Country Road), black jeans (from Nobody), long grey coat (from Shein), fedora hat (from ASOS) and black bag by Alldressedup.

ECCO Soft 7 Sneakers

And lastly, the weather turned all glorious and summery, so I tested the shoes to see how well they would hold up during the warm day. Basically I wanted to see if they would make my feet hot, sticky and yucky.

Nope! They were lovely and light! Loved them!

Dove grey tee (from Sportsgirl), denim shorts (from One Teaspoon) and Ray-bans (from SunglassesShop).

Win Win! A Karen Cheng x ECCO Shoes Soft 7 Giveaway!

ECCO Soft 7 Sneakers

So to celebrate the launch of Ecco Shoe’s Soft 7 Range, I’m giving my readers a chance to win one pair of sneakers!

You get to choose which of the four styles that you like (shown above). Low style sneakers are valued at $239.95 and high tops are $259.95. Of course you get to choose whether you want low-style or high top style, choose your size and colour.

This giveaway is only open to my Australian readers over 18 years old, sorry!

1) Pop over to the ECCO Shoes Australia Facebook page and LIKE it.

2) Email me at, let me know that you’ve liked the page, tell me your best contact email address, and tell me what outfit you would MOST wear with your new Soft 7 Sneakers?

If you want, you can also tell me which pair you would like, your shoe size and colour preference too. That’ll make things much quicker if you win! You can say hello too, if you like!?

This giveaway will run from Monday, 19 October 2015 – Friday, 6 November 2015, 11:59pm (GMT+8)

The winner will be chosen at random. I’ll contact the winner before announcing on my Facebook page (you can like that too if you want!). No asking for cash instead or anything silly like that.

Good luck!


Reaching Out and Volunteering for Charity

15 October 2015

Red leaves of Autumn

I took this photo back in 2004.

It was of a tree outside the hospital, in which my husband had chemo and surgery.

I stood in the carpark, looking at the beautiful leaves, with tears streaming down my cheeks.

The photo – blurry, unfocused, striking – reminds me of cancer, death, life and love.

It reminds me of that single moment when everything was tumbling down, all around me.

I printed the photo and have it framed in my house. I guess, when life gets too crazy, I look at this photo to remember the things in life that matters the most.

OK why am I sharing this?

This weekend, I’m volunteering at a 2 day charity event, which is raising funds for cancer research.

Handing out water bottles? Helping people with name tags? Picking up rubbish? Cheering on participants? Dressed in a tutu?

It doesn’t sound very worthwhile. It actually sounds kind of pointless, trivial, unnecessary and insignificant.

Wouldn’t it be better to work hard at raising $10,000 for the charity instead?


But I remember that moment with the red leaves.

How, when my husband and I were living in chaos, I didn’t need money. I didn’t need grandiose gifts or gestures.

I just needed someone to reach out, give me a hug, have a cup of tea with me, have a chat and share a laugh.

Sounds trivial. Sounds insignificant.

It’s these things that mattered the most.

Do head over and join me on Instagram (@karenlycheng) and Snapchat (heykarencheng) to check out my volunteering antics!

October Coffee Catch Up

14 October 2015

Phew! With the kids back at school, the house is quiet once again. I can sit down and THINK!


These last few weeks have been a bit chaotic.

1) My computer hard drive crashed and was told by a Mac guy that “it was cactus”. I lost 6 months of photos, emails, contacts, documents and development work. I was DEVASTATED!

I had a moment where I closed my yes, squeezed the bridge of my nose between my thumb and finger… and instead of letting out a string of curses, screams and tears, I just sighed “Aaaaaah craaaap!” Things could have been worse.

It turns out that I found most of my photos, which were still on my cameras (thank goodness!), my emails and contacts were backed up on my server (such a blessing!) and most of my recent documents were not super critical (phew!).

I did lose 6 months of blog development work, which was – honestly – only 4 months of full time work, and if I really thought about it… it wouldn’t be difficult to redo.


2) A few weeks ago, I went for my regular pap test and my doctor gave me an ALL OVER check up.

She found a small lump on my breast and sent me to get a mammogram and ultrasound.

I knew my boobs and didn’t think the lump was anything unusual, but it was a lump nonetheless.

Yeah, there was a little bit of uncertainty at the back of my mind. A niggly, unsettling thought of what if?

I didn’t entertain that thought though. I just went ahead, had the test and waited for the results.

The results were all clear. Everything is all good.

I’ll go into a bit more detail in another blog post.

You can be sure that I’m holding onto the words “thankfulness” and “gratefulness” like precious gifts from above.

3) Speaking of gratefulness, I am working with some amazing clients at the moment!

I know at the end of the day, it’s a business relationship, but working with such lovely, friendly, passionate, creative people, who love and support my work; getting to choose my own projects, come up with fun and exciting ideas, that are realistic for me to do, given my desire to be at home with my kids – is really a dream come true!

I love my work! If only it could pay more! Oh well, can’t win at everything!

4) Oh, I’ve got two trips coming up.

One to Singapore, with a couple of my closest girlfriends!

One to Tasmania, with my husband!

Yes, yes. It’s not exactly magazine-glamorous like Paris, Santorini or Turkey.

But hey, I could be stuck in a 7 hour transit at a foreign airport with my best girlfriends (or my husband) and have the Best. Time. Ever. It’s more about the sharing of experiences and the journey, than the destination for me.

5) So I know I say this ALL the time. And it’s probably an indication of how much I adore my kids and parenting over the years.

But I just have to say: My kids are at such a great age at the moment!

They are age 12 (year 7), age 10 (Year 5) and age 6 (year 1).

They are all funny, quirky, inquisitive, full of personality, confident, smart, interesting, little people, who I actually like to hang around with!

(Yes they are also annoying, loud, rude, obsessed with computer games, but that’s another blog post…)

6) OK I have seriously lost the plot with my exercise and healthy eating.

It’s all been very irregular, sporadic, disorganised, and haphazard… and it’s been um… 4 weeks?

I need routine! I need goals! I need some kind of plan! I just need to put on my running shoes and get outside, really.

I think I’ve put on about 3kgs. I think I’ve lost muscle mass. My super skinny jeans are a bit tight around my waist, hips, and thighs. And I need to unbutton them whenever I sit on my couch to enjoy my bowl of ice cream haha!

7) Lastly, do you remember that epic 200km bike ride that I did (in 2012 and 2013) called The Ride to Conquer Cancer?

I volunteered to be part of the Event Crew last year (2014) and I loved it. I dressed up as a giraffe and a frog.

So this year, I’m volunteering again! And yes, I’m dressing up again. I’ll leave it as a surprise, unless you’ve seen my snapchats, then you’ve probably seen me in my wig already haha!

I’m really looking forward to stepping out of my comfort zone and helping out a great charity event :)

Alrighty, I could go on and on!

Gotta go!


Loving: Korean Facial Sheet Masks

12 October 2015

Brought to you by Aniqa

I’ve never been a face mask kind of girl.

I’ve never liked using clay or mud face masks at home. I find the whole process to be messy, yucky and labourious. I hate the feeling of my face tightening under the mud, the way the clay gets hard and crusty, then having to wash up the semi-dried up gunk off my face! Ugh!

However over the last few years, I’ve discovered facial sheet masks and I realised how easy, refreshing, soothing, and hydrating they are. So I now LOVE giving myself a weekly face mask.

Mizon Face Sheet Masks

(A sample of the Mizon range from Aniqa with flowers from my garden!)

Sheet masks are great because they deliver essence and concentrated active ingredients straight to your face, and the sheet stops the essence from evaporating, which allows your skin to get the maximum hydration and absorption.

I find sheet masks to be such a quick, easy and affordable way to give my skin a boost. They are an excellent alternative to going to a spa or beauty salon.

And at $4 a pop, there’s no contest really!

Mizon Face Sheet Masks

Aniqa have a really impressive range of facial sheet masks, with prices ranging from $3 to $9 each.

They gave me a stack to try out and I thought I’d share how I use my favourite mask, the Mizon Firming Mask.

Now I can’t give you a precise scientific assessment on the results, but I can tell you that my skin feels super hydrated, soft, smooth, and looks lovely for the next two days!

Mizon Face Sheet Masks

Ok this whole step by step thing is probably unnecessary and pretty self explanatory, but I do have a few tips!

Plus these photos were fun to take, so bear with me :)

Mizon Face Sheet Masks

Take the face sheet mask out of the packet, but don’t toss the packet yet!

Keep it upright, lean it up against your toothbrush holder and save it for later.

Mizon Face Sheet Masks

Unfold and open up the face mask completely, until it looks like a creepy dude.

Make sure you have the two eye-holes on top!

Mizon Face Sheet Masks

Thwack it onto your face!

Stretch it around to position it correctly on your face. Smooth it all out and press it all down to get rid of air bubbles.

Keep your mouth closed, try not to smile.

Oh and make sure the nose flap thing is not covering your nostrils. Make sure you can breathe!

See? I told you my tips are gold.

Mizon Face Sheet Masks

Once it’s on your face, pick up the mask packet, tip the remaining contents onto your hands and smooth the essence all over your neck, upper chest, and hands.

Heck use it on your feet and legs too, just don’t let it go to waste!

Leave the mask on for the recommended time, usually it’s about 10 – 20 minutes.

When the time is up, take off the mask; you’ll find that it’s still drenched with essence, so I like to rub it on my arms and legs. Leave the residue on your face. Don’t wash it off.

As for when to use a face sheet mask in your beauty regime: Remove makeup, cleanse, tone, use essence, then use sheet mask. You don’t have to use serum, eye cream or moisturiser after that. You can just head to bed!

Do take a peek at all the available face masks from Aniqa :)

Enjoy the pampering!



Char Siu Pork Belly Buns at Typika, Claremont

1 October 2015

Being the school holidays, I often find it to be a rare treat to be in the company of just ONE of my kids.

The moment TWO kids are at their friend’s house, I say to my remaining child – Let’s go to a cafe!

Today I wanted to try out a new dish at Typika, in Claremont.

Unfortunately for me, I got stuck with my 6 year old. Don’t get me wrong, I love the little guy, but he just doesn’t LOVE trying out new and interesting dishes. He’s not a foodie. He just wanted chicken nuggets and chips.

But of course, I totally ignored his request and ordered what I wanted to eat:

Typika, Claremont

I had the Sticky Char Siu Pork Belly with steamed buns and pickles ($24).

The buns were absolutely perfect. They had a fresh, soft, top (not stale, leathery or crusty), with a springy and fluffy middle. They soaked up the sauce well, and they held their shape when stuffed with the filling. They were so lovely to eat!

Typika, Claremont

The peanuts were sweet, salty, crunchy, with a hint of chili. They were so good and totally addictive.

My son didn’t want any, so I ate them all!

The pickles were a nice accompaniment too. They were different to typical pickles, in that they weren’t very sour or vinegary. They tasted mild and fresh, which I actually liked.

Typika, Claremont

The pork belly was fantastic!

The char siu marinade had a delicious balance of sweet, salty and smoky flavours. The pork was fresh, tender, sticky and had an excellent ratio of fat. It wasn’t overly salty, which is often the case when I eat it at Chinese restaurants. It was good.

However, I think it could have been grilled a little harder so that the outside was crispier and had more of a crusty crunch.

Typika, Claremont

I also bought a coffee for myself and a honey joy for us to share.

When everything arrived, my son decided that he didn’t want any of the pork, or buns, or pickles, OR peanuts… so I ended up eating it ALL BY MYSELF! I felt like such a pig! I was so full.

Typika, Claremont

The honey joy was really good too. It’s been years since I’ve eaten a honey joy! I remembered how much I enjoyed the sweet buttery, caramel stickiness, mixed with the crunchiness of the corn flakes.

My son ate half of it, and I managed to eat the other half, because I couldn’t bear to see it go to waste.

I’ve dined at Typika before – several times for both food and coffee – and I have always enjoyed the experience. Cheers Typika!

Fashion Week Day 1 – Outfit, Makeup, Hair

22 September 2015

TPFF Day 1 - Wearing 33Poets

During the Telstra Perth Fashion Festival, I was given some pretty amazing media tickets to many of the big shows. I felt quite honoured, nervous, thrilled, grateful and entrusted… that they chose me as one of the local bloggers to cover the shows. Eeeep!

So to show my support for the designers, producers and organisers, I figured that I’d try a bit harder and organise my outfit, hair and makeup! I rarely do that!

The first show for the festival was by Dilettante, featuring Yang Li, 33Poets and Toni Maticevski.

I have admired the label 33Poets and Rebecca Paterson’s textile work for a number of years, and I have previously borrowed a 3-way Japanese Shibori Silk Dress from her, which I reviewed here. So it was a no-brainer who I was going to contact – I literally begged Rebecca to wear something from her old collection!

She was so happy that I asked (although a bit busy prepping for her show). I popped into Tu Boutique (who stocks 33Poets) and I came away with this stunning dress you see above. It doesn’t really have a name, but it is made from the same Japanese Shibori Silk as the 3-way dress. It was amazing to wear. It was so grand and unique. I felt like a dark princess.

TPFF Day 1 - Pamper package at Generics

Next, I contacted the team at Generics, who have a brand new shop in Northbridge (corner of William St and Aberdeen St). They have expanded their products to include vegan beauty and lifestyle products, gorgeous fragrances, marble decor, express facials, and pamper packages (with a team of hair artists and makeup artists).

I booked myself in for makeup, sent them a photo of my dress and told them I wanted something DRAMATIC!

I had the ever so lovely Hanh Ngo, a professional makeup artist (who also works for MAC), do my makeup. She did a wonderful job!

I actually wanted a “Very smokey eye, with nude lips” look. But at the end, we thought I looked a bit “flat”, so Hahn gave me RED LIPS instead – which totally transformed my look for the better!

TPFF Day 1 - Hair by Game of Braids

I also booked to have my hair braided by Bec of Game of Braids.

You can get a single side braid for $35 or a full blown quadruple braid for $120! Check out the link. It is SO. COOL.

Can you believe that I’ve never had my hair braided before? My mum was never the hair braiding type. And I’ve always had such thick, long hair that no one would even attempt to braid it.

I asked Bec for my hair to be up, and for the braid to come down to one side. She did a great job, and the most amazing bit – it stayed up for the whole night!

Lisa from Generics styled me with some colourful bling earrings (I didn’t even THINK about my jewellery. I was just going to wear nothing!) which matched my red lips, my red clutch and (incidentally) my dark pink toe nails. They gave me some fragrance, organic body glow cream… all the finishing touches and more… and my goodness, I looked and felt so complete!

By the end of it, I was in a HUGE RUSH (which was my fault because I arrived 30 minutes late). I only had 15 minutes to get to the show, and I was so so SO thankful to all of them for making me look great!!

TPFF Day 1 - Sitting Front Row Yo!

I arrived and found myself a seat on the front row WOAH!

TPFF2015 Day 1 - Silly Photos with the Fash Squad

(Two photos by Ryan Ammon)

As I wrote before, the Dilettante show was stunning and one of the best I’ve seen.

After the show, I found a stack of my fashion friends and we took so many silly photos. You can have a peak on my Facebook Page.

TPFF2015 Day 1 - At home with makeup

This is me back at home. It was around 11:30pm and I was feeling tired, hungry but super pumped for another day of fashion!

(My hair came out because when I drove home, the pony tail bit rubbed against the head rest. But my makeup didn’t smudge or sweat off at all. I was so pleased with the result! Thank you so much guys!)

I have 5 more days of grooming and outfits, so keep popping by for more updates!


Alexander McQueen Sunglasses For My Schnoz

28 August 2015

Brought to you buy SunglassesShop

Hi everyone! Happy Friday!

Today I’m talking about schnoz candy!

I have an exclusive 12% discount code for those looking to buy a new pair of sunglasses from SunglassesShop.

Enjoy 12% off your total order, including sale items – yay! Just use this code at the checkout: 12KAREN

This code is valid from 28 August – 4 September 2015. They offer FREE worldwide delivery and no fuss returns.

You might want to get yourself a pair of super popular Dior wire frames, or cult favourite Celine Audrey sunglasses, or sexy Tom Ford shades, or some classic Ray-Ban Wayfarers.

McQ by Alexander McQueen from Sunglasses Shop

For me, I’m reviewing some affordable McQ by Alexander McQueen sunglasses!

Affordable? Say what? Usually a pair of Alexander McQueen sunglasses will set you back an eye-watering $400 – $500.

But the fashion house has a more affordable ready-to-wear diffusion line, called McQ (hello lower price points!) with lots of good-looking sunglasses designs. Think classic styles with an injection of McQueen cool.

I picked out the Geometric Cateye Sunglasses in Havana, because I was looking for something a bit different.

Yes it’s great to have a pair of original wayfarers, classic aviators, and timeless cat-eyes; And just like shoes, it’s nice to own a pair of timeless pointed toe pumps, or a classic strappy heeled sandal…

But hey sometimes “wearing classic” can get a bit boring, you look like everyone else (or your 12 year old son), and sometimes you just want to wear something DIFFERENT!

McQ by Alexander McQueen from Sunglasses Shop

I love the look of large sunglasses with a slight cat-eye shape. I think it suits my face, much more than large round or large square-shaped sunglasses.

I like the soft-geometric angles and flat-top feature of the sunglasses. It looks feminine without being too retro. It doesn’t immediately scream 50s… it just looks modern and flattering.

Another great thing about these sunglasses is the combination of wire arms and metal temples, which makes them light to wear. They are not heavy and does not make my nose or ears hurt from the weight of all that plastic. They weigh less than my Ray-Ban Wayfarers!

In terms of returns, SunglassesShop have an local phone number and email you can use, and a 30 day return policy.  You do have to post the item back to the UK, which will cost you about $15-$20. However my sunglasses retail elsewhere for $230, compared to $191 at SunglassesShop. Then with my 12% discount, its final cost was $168 – saving $62! So in a way I think risking $20 to pay for a return is a pretty good risk for a stunning pair of Alexander McQueen sunglasses haha! That’s how I rationalise it!

Anyway, happy shopping and hope you find something you like!

Have a great weekend!


Buy Korean Skincare Online from Aniqa Australia!

25 August 2015

Brought to you by Aniqa

Aniqa Korean Skincare - Cremorlab and Mizon

I’m so excited to introduce you all to a new kid in town: Aniqa is an Australian-based online store that stocks some of the hottest Korean skincare products around.

What makes Aniqa different?

Aniqa stocks a carefully edited selection of “boutique” Korean beauty brands – such as, Cremorlab, Mizon, Be The Skin and Caolion.

There are thousands of Korean beauty brands out there, so if you’re a Korean skincare newbie like me, and you just want the best products from the best brands… this site is a godsend!

If you’ve been reading Vogue and other online fashion magazines and beauty forums, you’ll notice that they frequently feature products by Cremorlab, Mizon and Be The Skin. Also, big names like YouTube beauty queen Michelle Phan and Olivia Palermo rave about Cremorlab and Mizon too.

The Aniqa site is run by two passionate and hard working women, who are dedicated to trying and testing out every single product; listening to their clients, finding out what works, what sells and what are creating the most buzz around the world. There’s a nice personal touch to the highly professional site.

The site is beautiful, easy to navigate, secure, and most of all, you can get your Korean beauty fix with ease – cheap and fast! No need to pay gazillions of dollars in shipping from the US or wait 3-4 weeks for your order from Asia.

Aniqa Korean Skincare - Cremorlab

But first, I wanted to talk about where I’m at.

I’m in my mid-30s and skin care is really important to me. I wear sun cream, I wear a hat, I eat well, exercise, drink water, get 8 hours of sleep … most of the time, I do all the right things :)

Over the years, I’ve leaned away from drugstore brands and have reluctantly bought into the world of expensive skincare products from global brands. I say reluctantly, because a little part of me dies when I purchase a bottle of cream for $185!!

But I can’t complain really. If I work hard in keeping up a regular skincare regime, I see results.

When I take care of it, my skin is clear, radiant, smooth and it glows.

I’d say that my skin is at its optimum level. I rarely have dull skin days anymore.

I have been using mostly SK-II products (Facial Treatment Essence, Facial Treatment Gentle Cleanser, Stempower Cream and face masks), Lancome (Advanced Youth Activating Concentrate), and some products from Clarins, Shiseido, Alpha-H, SkinCeuticals, Philosophy and Trilogy.

My main problem is that it’s all so expensive.

(And I haven’t done any lasers, peels, dermabrasions, injectables, fillers, light therapy, or surgery before!)

My Recent Switch to Korean Brands!

I had been hearing a lot about Korean beauty products and how they are taking the world by storm. Everyone seems to be loving them – Vogue editors, fashion and beauty magazine editors, celebrities and hardcore fans on online beauty forums have been trying them out and absolutely loving them.

It sounded good and I was curious to try. I wanted IN on beauty products specially designed for Asian skin!


1) I was reluctant because I didn’t know where to start!

2) I am aware (and possibly quite cynical) that this too is just another “trend” and “hype” in the cosmetics industry.

3) It was difficult to buy Korean beauty products in Australia.

So a couple of months ago, I got a call from an old high school friend… she and her business partner had set up an online store specialising in Korean skincare products, Aniqa. It was a nice site! She wanted to work with me and my blog and we set up a meeting. Usually I am very cautious and reluctant when working with skincare brands. Most times I just say no thanks. I have had some really bad experiences in the past. The results ranged from terrible to mediocre, and who wants to read and hear about terrible/mediocre products?? I only ever want to talk about stuff that I actually LIKE and USE.

I was trying to find a nice way to say, “Uh no thanks babe. I’m happy with SK-II and my little routine!” I didn’t want to go through that whole testing out skincare products journey again – ugh!

But she was an old friend, a lovely person, super-smart, super-genuine, self-starting, go-getting kind of person… so we met up, we caught up with each others’ lives, we talked and laughed for hours… and she gave me a box of products to try out.

That was in June.

And for the last 2 months I have been hooked on using these new products!

Now for the first time, I actually enjoy looking after my skin. I use a facial sheet mask twice a week, and I do a scrub twice a week. I bounce with excitement knowing it’s FACE MASK DAY! Or I go through the day and think, YAY I GET TO DO A SCRUB TONIGHT!

I cannot seem to express how much sheer joy and pleasure I have when I go through my routine and seeing my skin glow!

The result?

Well, I keep waking up in the morning and my skin is gorgeous!

Every day I look in the mirror and think – holy crap, er wow?!

I can honestly say that my complexion is more radiant, smoother, has less redness and is more hydrated than it’s ever been over the past few years. My skin is optimum + a few notches up.

Now whether that’s the result of ONE product, or a RANGE of products, or that I’ve simply upped my skincare regime and have now made it a positive priority in my life… I’m not entirely sure. I would say that it’s a combination of all three/four reasons.

The fact still stands, I see great results and I’m liking it.

Another result is a change in attitude: Taking care of my skin is not a boring, futile chore at the end of the day. It is seriously so. Much. Fun… and I think that inner joy and sparkle comes across in my face too :)

Yes I still get an occasional dull skin day, where my skin is not radiant and smooth. But… that is possibly connected to hormones, sleeping at 2am, eating way too much chocolate, exercising with makeup on my face, not drinking enough water, experimenting with new makeup (reviewing for blog posts) and sitting in a room with a heater/aircon on for 5-6 hours. Haha all the major no-nos!

And yes it’s probably the same amount of skincare regime work (possibly a bit more) as before with my old products SK-II, Lancome, Shiseido, etc.

So then, what was the difference? Why switch?

1) The prices.

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence (150ml) is about AUD$185 and Cremorlab Mineral Treatment Essence (270ml) is AUD$58.

SK-II Stempower Cream (80g jar) is AUD$200 and Mizon Collagen Power Lifting Cream (70ml) is AUD$55.

Ok I know I seem to be hard on SK-II. That wasn’t my intention! I DO love, love, love their products and they DO work for me. But it’s so expensive… $385 for two products?? Whereas two equivalent Korean products (as mentioned above) would set me back $113. Yes I know this is a self-inflicted, first world problem… Haha don’t judge me!

2) Using products in the same range.

Because the prices are great, I can afford to buy all the products in the same range (for example, Mizon Pore Range, Cremorlab Hydro Plus Snow Falls Line) so I’d be happy to use all the toners, serums, eye creams etc. And while a small part of me thinks these ranges are just a marketing ploy, I still like to think that products from the same range should work together chemically, in terms of the right pH, active ingredients, layering and absorption.

3) The smell is simply ah-mazing!

Aniqa Korean Skincare - Cremorlab

Where to start?

The brand Cremorlab (recommended by YouTube beauty queen Michelle Phan and Olivia Palermo) has a huge cult following. Their most raved about products would be Cremorlab Cremorlab Mineral Treatment Essence ($58 – pictured above), Cremorlab Triple Bright White Bloom Foam Cleanser ($39 – pictured above), Cremorlab Smooth Pudding Moisturiser ($65)

And their range of amazing Cremorlab Sheet Masks (starts from $5 – $14) are often featured in fashion and beauty magazines.

Aniqa Korean Skincare - Mizon

Mizon is stocked in Urban Outfitters in the US! According to online beauty forums, Mizon’s range of Snail Repair creams and gels are JUST AMAZING. (These are not stocked on Aniqa yet!) Their serums are also really popular.

My favourite so far is the Mizon Collagen Power Lifting Cream ($55) and the Mizon Collagen Power Lifting Toner ($40).

I am hoping to try the Mizon Hyaluronic Acid 100 Serum ($65) too.

Be The Skin is also another popular product, often raved about by fashion and beauty editors. I personally haven’t tried any from this brand yet, but I heard that these were good: Be The Skin Botanical Nutrition Power Cream ($58) and Be The Skin Botanical Nutrition Power Serum ($59).

I have tested out most of these products mentioned above and I’ll be posting my reviews on which worked best for me!

I’ll also be testing out a few other popular Korean skincare products… so stay tuned!

Happy shopping!


(Btw, I had a few messages about the flowers in these photographs – Yes I photographed these photos! I sourced the purple Native Wisteria and Camellia branches from my garden, the Almond Blossom from my neighbour’s garden, and the white Lisianthus flowers are from the local florist.)

What I Wore: Flares and Turtlenecks

21 August 2015

Turtleneck and Flares

Tee hee, it’s been quite fun to pull out some of my favourites clothes from years gone by!

Flares! Turtlenecks! It feels like I’m playing dress ups, without feeling like a freak show.

I’ve already featured THREE of my old flare jeans on my blog (in this post) and since then, I have worn them several times… in public!

Hmmm, I don’t think I will be buying any new season flares this season. They are possibly a bit too over the top (and colourful) for me. But if you’re interested, I spotted some flares at Topshop where you can pick up some lace flares, velvet flares, patterned flares, paisley flares or even white crochet flares – wayhey!

Turtleneck and Flares

For this outfit, I tried to keep everything minimal, casual and subdued. No paisley here!

It really was just an everyday outfit with a tiny bit of fun thrown in.

As for my turtleneck sleeveless sweater (similar here), I bought it about 15 years ago, when I was stocking up on my wardrobe basics. It was around $60 from Sportsgirl, which I think was fairly pricey at the time. Interestingly enough, the fabric has kept very well, it still has a good stretch and the knit is still soft and smooth. I am very happy that it has lasted so long.

Do you keep your favourite old clothes?

I’m a bit of a hoarder and I will never make a good minimalist!

Flares in Deep Blue Similar from ASOS
Long Grey Coat from Shein
Boots from The Iconic.

The Luminaries and Other Good Reads

19 August 2015

The Luminaries

Many years ago, I made a promise to read one “Man Booker Prize Winner” novel a year.

Well, I didn’t really stick to it. For 10 years – consumed by looking after small children – my brain couldn’t handle “literature”. I read a lot of Twilight and easy-to-read Popular Fiction instead haha.

But I’m trying to get back into the more cerebral stuff.

I really, really enjoy it. Like fashion, exercise and cooking… it makes me feel good.

I’ve updated my Good Reads profile, if you want to check it out.

I managed to add some of the books I’ve read over the years (that I could think of!) and rated them etc.

I like classics, modern literature, popular titles and a bit of sci-fi. I don’t really like youth fiction or romance. However Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourites!

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, won the Man Booker Prize in 2013 and I managed to finish her book earlier this year.

It’s a murder mystery, historical fiction set in New Zealand in the days of the gold rush, with complicated interconnected characters and plot.

I don’t even like murder mysteries. But I liked this novel because I adored her language and story telling (a bit like Charles Dickens), her description of characters and her unfolding of the landscapes and events.

The author is 28 (!!!) and did an incredible job weaving such a complicated narrative. There is also an added technical depth; apparently there are 12 characters, 12 star signs, 12 chapters, and each chapter is half the length as the one before it. But it didn’t really add THAT much to the story, only that the chapters got shorter and it felt more exciting towards the end, leading to the story’s climax.

It’s impressive. But not for everyone!