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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

WOOHOO I DID IT!!!

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

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

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

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

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

xxx


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

“Education”

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!

Speech

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.

Sleep

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.

Separation

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

Eating

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!

School

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

pears-red-wine

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.)

Yum-EEE!


Ten Years Of Blogging

13 October 2009

Ten years ago, in 1999, I published the first ever version of my website. Since I receive so many emails from people asking me how I got started, what software I use, and if I make any money, I thought this would be a good opportunity to reflect on a decade of blogging!

Please be warned, this is quite a long post, because it is covering a whole decade!

Beginnings
My first ever glimpse of the impending Internet world was at high school in 1995. I studied a subject called “Applied Computing”. My teacher told me about “e-mail” and how you can send messages from one computer to another – I thought she was kidding! I had no idea that computers – in different locations – could be connected to each other.

It is a good example of how amazingly fast the Internet developed that only four years later, I published my own website.

Although I was addicted to IRC chat and message boards while studying design and advertising at university, it was not until 1999, that I taught myself how to make a website, in order to show off my portfolio of work.

I was 21. I was single, irresponsible, a spoilt rich kid, emotionally insecure, in and out of relationships, a creative but naïve young woman, working in the crazy rat race of advertising – and I was trying to find happiness.

I became absolutely OBSESSED with the Internet and all things related to personal websites.

I would spend literally 20 hours a day online, sleeping at 4am, and then waking at 8am to check my email, before breakfast! Personal websites were like an underground community – running rampant with page counters, guestbooks, comment boxes, link-backs, webrings, countless internet awards, and small and large online groups.

I was astounded that I could get to know people living in the US, UK, Europe and Asia – people who had the same interests as I did, living similar lives, but all over the world. It was all very, very exciting. I loved the fact that I could communicate directly with my readers. And for it to happen in real time, was pretty amazing. In the early days, I had a hit counter on my site. I was thrilled when 100 people visited my site in a day!

My

My site in 1999, was essentially an online portfolio, with lots of extra information about me. I had lots of different sections for my resume, photos, contacts, my likes and dislikes. The most popular section was my “Soapbox”. It was like a daily news section, where I updated every day and I ran it like an e-zine.

Becoming Popular
Things started to take off when my website began to get featured in some newspapers, and I won some web awards. From there, it spread by word of mouth – and word of internet. People online and offline were telling their friends about my site. My readership grew and grew, which was completely unexpected to me.

I think one of the main reasons my blog developed a strong following is because I am a designer. I wanted to create a unique experience for my readers. I was very interested in visual communication and interface design. I was meticulous with its presentation and style. I loved experimenting with my visual layout (eg. 3 columns vs 2 columns vs 1) and I always analysed how (and why) others were doing it, and set out to do things differently.

I hand-coded my whole site. I created all my graphics and images myself. I took photos, sent them to be developed (yes, it was all on film back then!), scanned them in (so slow!), and photo edited them.

I also really enjoyed writing in a “personal voice” – seeing how voice and identity could be crafted with words and pictures, and how it affected the overall feel of the site. My focus was always to tell a great story, or share a feeling, or a moment, in a way that left readers feeling refreshed.

The effect of all of this is that my blog has unique content, and that content is presented in a distinctive way, making for an experience that cannot be found anywhere else.

wp_screen

This is what I see in the WordPress software I use to manage my blog: 1,313 post…and that’s just since 2003!

How Blogging has Changed in Ten Years
The Internet is HUGE now. Back in 1999, it was small, but growing rapidly. And there was no spam or advertising on it. The Internet was like a cool café then, with a nice atmosphere, where you might bump into friends. Now, the Internet and blogs are part of the “social-media” phenomenon where everyone is connected to everyone else and everything by so many different software and devices that it feels like everyone in the whole world is shouting out at the same time. And advertising is EVERYWHERE!

The Internet is FAST now. Back in 1999, most of my posts didn’t have a picture at all, and if they did, the picture was the size of what is now called a “thumbnail” image. Remember, this was in the days of “dial-up” modems that made that awful “screeeeech-boing-boing-boing” noise. Your service provider cut the connection if you weren’t actively surfing, so you had to re-connect if you stopped to read something long and interesting. Sometimes, your service provider would cut you off in the middle of a big file upload, to remind you that bandwidth was PRECIOUS. So people were very careful about what they uploaded, and what they clicked on.

Digital cameras, combined with faster bandwidth, have made high quality photos an important part of the internet, and my blog too, because digital is so easy and cheap compared to film. As a result, I have had to improve the standard of my photography a lot over the years, a challenge I really enjoy. But I still choose images very, very carefully. One good image is worth a thousand words, but fifty well chosen words is much better than any bad picture.

I’ve used the very popular “Wordpress” software to manage my blog since 2007. Before that, I hand-coded every post in HTML.

I do all my photo editing with Photoshop. I customize my blog interface by coding my own CSS templates. I store all my images on Flickr, so I don’t have to pay for serving out all the images. And I am still using the same computer I bought in 2002 (with the money I was supposed to use to buy my engagement ring).

Upside of Being a 10 Year old Blogger
One of the best things about having been online for so long, is feeling like I’m talking to a huge bunch of girlfriends, and I love it. I know that I have quite a few male readers, but they never email me. Come on guys, don’t be shy!

Almost everyday I get email from people who thank me for the words and pictures I share, and say they are inspired by my attitude and outlook on life. This is really, really rewarding. It keeps me going. I take all these things to heart, and I find them both fulfilling, and humbling.

Because of my large readership, I can draw attention to issues I believe are important.

I also get asked to support or endorse various entities or products. People offer to fly me to places to do stuff that would undoubtedly be a very cool experience. But I have an even more important job – I am mother to three little children…so I almost never go. Maybe one day!

Downside of being a 10 year blogger
The biggest downside of having such a large readership is being unable to reply to all the email that comes in. Everyday my inbox is filled up, and everyday, I’m really saddened that I can’t speak to each person individually.

After 10 years of having my email address on the internet, it is now on a huge number of spamming lists. Everyday, I delete literally dozens of emails offering me the opportunity to have my sex organs enlarged, to buy insanely cheap drugs or watches, to get rich by helping Nigerian royalty move their money to a safe place, and to marry lonely Russian super-babes with exotic names. It is so bad I am considering changing my e-mail address. But I like being “karen” at “karencheng.com.au”, so I stick with it, even though the word “delete” is getting worn off the “delete” key on my keyboard.

In the last couple of years, marketing people have decided that the best way to get something for nothing is to offer free stuff to bloggers. Thus, I get endless offers to try out mind-control medication on my children, weirdly flavoured mineral water, cosmetics that will take 15 years off my age, etc, etc. At first, I thought all these friendly emails from marketing people meant that they really loved me, and they promised to only send me stuff that was relevant to me, but now they send me anything they are trying to promote. Argh!

The strangest thing to happen to me because of blogging is being a (very minor) celebrity. I still haven’t gotten used to being spotted in the streets or at the shops. But I am slowly getting better at talking to complete strangers, who walk up to me and say: “Oh my God! You’re Karen Cheng!!” Since I am actually quite shy with people I don’t know, these moments are often awkward for me, especially when I am holding a baby with a pooey nappy, a tin of mixed beans and a cauliflower, and I am dressed in an old tracksuit.

The Next Ten Years?
In late 1999, I was living the high-life in the peak of the dot-com boom. Then, in rapid succession, I fell in love, travelled a lot, got made redundant in the dot-com crash, got married, and then had my first son.

My life was a dream till my husband had cancer. It was a year of doubt, fear, surgery, chemotherapy, more surgery, and praying. We were very, very lucky that he was successfully treated. While all that was happening, I had my second son. I was 26 by then. Life seemed so much more precious, and my blog has become even more of a celebration of the everyday moments of life.

So, after ten years, and thousands of readers everyday, what am I going to do?

I have invested 10 years of my life into blogging. I don’t know if most of my readers will ever realise how much of my day-to-day life it takes up. It takes a real discipline to post five times a week, each one with original content, and this continues to be a challenge for me, and doubly so with three kids.

Things have come to a point where I was investing so much into my site, that I had to decide on it’s future, and my future. I had to decide to give it up to pursue a more regular career, or try to make an income from blogging.

So I am now what bloggers call a “Pro-Blogger”, which means that I am trying to make an income from my blog. My mission is to show my readers things that they might actually be interested in, without bothering them with advertising spam. I want to keep my blog as a really nice place to come to. I’m still working out how to do this, and I regard it as a long-term project. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Something that will always stay the same for me is that I will keep blogging about the things that I love and that inspire me. Beautiful things, and important things. I have became very interested in increasing cancer awareness and research (a very important topic), and fashion (also a very important topic, but in a different way).

So I’m looking forward to the adventure of the next ten years!


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.


Holiday in Scotland 2016: Hidden Waterfalls

17 July 2016

Scotland Holiday 2016 - Hidden waterfalls

It is amazing how I can be walking along a quiet path in a Scottish forest… then suddenly I look over and there’s a BEAUTIFUL WATERFALL!

And it’s, you know, doing it’s thing, as it has been for the last hundred years or so.

There’s so much beauty everywhere.


Holiday in Scotland 2016: Castle Hunting

14 July 2016

Scotland 2016 - Moy Castle

We explored quite a few castles and abbeys during our trip.

It was such an incredible experience to touch the moss covered rocks, to run my fingers along the edges of the stones, to feel the cold walls, to smell the musty darkness of the rooms… and imagining the kind of life people lived hundreds of years ago. My head exploded!

This is Moy Castle, built in the 15th Century, featuring 3 floors, its own well and a dungeon.

My favourite part of it was its dreamy exterior texture and colours.

Scotland2016 - Iona Abbey

This is the inside of a ruined nunnery on the Island of Iona.

The island is rather famous and sacred, because Saint Columba established a monastery there in AD563, which became central to the spread of Christianity in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom (Scotland, Great Britain, Ireland).

Scotland2016 - Croft, Malcom's Point

And this is a ruined farmer’s croft we found while one of our mountain walks.

My kids had such a hoot walking around in and around it, exclaiming how it was like a real life Minecraft house, haha!


It’s the little things

13 July 2016

Charlotte Olympia Card Holder

I’ve always been careful with my money.

When I first started working, I used to live at home and I would save half of my fortnightly income.

My parents would often call me “a saver” and “a careful spender” when describing my relationship with money, which – at the time – I wasn’t sure if they were teasing me for being a thrifty tight-ass haha.

As the years went by, my girlfriends started their handbag collections with Pradas and LVs… yes I was quite envious – but I had other priorities, I got married at 24, bought a house, had a baby and well… things were really tight for us.

It has only been in the last couple of years that we’ve found a comfortable space; my online business is doing incredibly well, and I’ve started to spend (invest!) a bit more on little luxury items for my wardrobe.

Charlotte Olympia Card Holder

I guess it also helps that there are so many designer sales on too!

Which leads me onto my latest purchase.

I recently finished a huge freelance job and rewarded myself with a special little something (with the help of a gift card too, courtesy of Shopbop).

I bought this Charlotte Olympia card holder from Shopbop during their last round of Designer Sales.

It’s just a wee little thing, but I absolutely love the delicate and feminie details on it.

It’s perfect for my smaller handbags. It’s pretty and practical.

Charlotte Olympia Card Holder

Anyway, this time Shopbop are having a 25% off all items from their Designer Boutique section – which is pretty amazing!

Just use the code “DESIGNER25″ at the checkout, until July 14, 2016, at 7p.m AEST.

For me, being that little bit older and wiser, I can appreciate my little luxuries and they are all the more special to me.

Hope you enjoy the sale! And hope you manage to find a comfortable space for yourself for little luxuries too.

Have an amazing week everyone!


My Reading List for 2016 (so far…)

1 July 2016

Bookshelf July 2016

Hey everyone!

Just thought I’d give you all peek at my pretty bookshelf.

We actually have 12 more shelf-sections of books – full of non-fiction books, young adult novels, kid’s novels and National Geographic magazines. These shelves are definitely are not as neat and pretty as my rainbow collection.

Would you believe, we even have one shelf-section dedicated to multiple copies of Harry Potter Books – all of which I’ve never read. I slogged through 2/3 of the first book and couldn’t read any more of it. My oldest boy has read them all though.

And then we have another 3 shelf-sections of young children’s books, like The Hungry Caterpillar, Where is the Green Sheep and my children’s favourites that I can’t bear to throw out.

Anyway, it’s almost halfway through the year and I thought I’d share my “Books I’ve Read” list so far.

11 books in 6 months! This is definitely my record, since… having children 13 years ago haha.

I’ve started with the book I finished reading a few days ago… working my way backwards to the book I received for Christmas and started in January.

11. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (Omg hard to read, but sooo fricking amazing!)

10. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

9. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

8. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

7. The Martian by Andy Weir

6. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

5. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

4. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

1. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami,

You can check out my whole list over at Goodreads, although you have to be logged in to see the list in chronological order, I think.

Enjoy!


My First Grown Up Purse from Tory Burch

23 June 2016

Tory Burch Purse

Tory Burch Wallet in the Saffiano Envelope Continental style.

As a birthday present to myself, I finally got myself a “proper” purse!!

I say that because I have always liked to have “fun” purses.  I liked the idea of having a serious, stylish black handbag and pulling out a crazy, fun purse or wallet.

My previous purse was a Country Road, crinkled silver leather purse, which I bought for $33 in a clearance pile. Very fun right? Unfortunately, after a few months of use, the zip stopper broke off. I had to sew up the end, so the zip wouldn’t fall off its tracks. After that it lasted me YEARS!

My purse before that, was a bright orange purse. Very fun.

However, I spilled some hand cream in my handbag and it went all over the orange leather and I couldn’t get the blotchy stain out. It looked pretty yucky for a while and not so fun haha.

Anyway, I don’t know about you, but my purses ALWAYS get bashed and gross after a few years of being handled so often. Even after cleaning my leather with proper cleaning stuff, they still look bad. The corners scuff up and sometimes the flaps get dog-eared.

Do other people experience this??

I’m not a particularly dirty person… I always clean my hands, I always look after my things, I don’t have drinks near my leather goods, I don’t place my leathers on surfaces, I don’t ever let my kids touch my purse… so I guess it’s just the general handling of the leather right?

So knowing that my purse is going to look like crap in 1-2 years, I don’t like to spend too much on a purse.

Tory Burch Purse

Buuuuut, I thought I wold try a purse with a different sort of leather this time.

Last year, I bought this Michael Kors Selma handbag in saffiano leather and I was really delighted by how durable, robust and lasting it looked. It was enough to convince me to try to buy a new purse.

The saffiano leather on this Tory Burch Envelope Wallet is amazing. It is slightly textured and seems to look like brand new every time I pull it out of my handbag.

I am the first to admit that it’s not very “fun” and it may be construed as “boring”… but I’m thinking more along the lines of “grown up and lady like” haha.

Besides… I love that it doesn’t show any finger prints, water marks, sweat, slight dirt stains, scratches, bumps – nothing! Nothing boring about that.

I completely recommend it for now. And I’ll let you know how I go in 1-2 years :)


Wearing: Celine Baby Audrey Sunglasses

19 June 2016

Brought to you by Vision Direct

Celine Sunglasses

With my birthday coming up, I was so so soooo pleased to work with Vision Direct for this blog post.

I picked out my ultimate sunglasses – the ones I have been lusting over for years – the Celine Baby Audrey Sunglasses.

Named after Audrey Hepburn and the glasses she wore in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, these sunglasses are definitely a fashion classic.

My biggest dilemma was to choose between the “Audrey” sunglasses or smaller “Baby Audrey” sunglasses.

(I know, talk about first world problems?!)

I did a google search for “Audrey vs Baby Audrey Sunglasses” and I came across this YouTube video, which funnily enough, happened to be by Vision Direct, but they didn’t actually ask me to link to it or anything, it was just part of my own research for trying to decide which ones to buy.

Anyway, it was such a great review video because the lady showed a side by side comparison of the two sunglasses, as well as putting both on her face, one after the other. So because of this video, I decided to choose the Baby Audrey ones.

Celine Sunglasses

I picked the Celine Baby Audrey with a Havana frame and Grey Green lens. The actual product name is Celine CL 41053/S Baby Audrey 05D/1E.

I decided not to choose black, because I already have a few sunglasses in black.

And I DEFINITELY made the right decision.

These sunglasses were surprisingly light weight, so they don’t hurt my face and nose after wearing them for a long time.

They fit perfectly within my the area of my face, so they are not too large and too overwhelming.

They do leave a little impression on my nose, but honesty, my Ray-Ban Wayfarers give me a more noticeable mark on my nose.

In terms of price, they are selling at Vision Direct on the cheaper end of the scale for that style. I’ve seen it online at David Jones for $450 and other places for $395 – $475. I actually saw one going for $298… but I’ve never heard of that shop before.

Vision Direct have a 100-day return policy, and I’ve actually bought from this site before, returned and swapped for a larger size, with no dramas and they have excellent customer service and communication.

Yay I’m super happy with my new shades. Let’s hope I don’t sit on them!

Celine Sunglasses

Wearing:

Celine Baby Audrey Sunglasses
Tibi Silk Cami
Frame Denim jeans (They fit so well!!)
Tony Bianco heels (Lyla)
Michael Kors handbag (Selma Stud)


My Birthday Wishlist!

16 June 2016

Ah ha, so my birthday is coming up… and my 3 sons asked me what birthday gift would I like?

I told them it has to be – Something simple and thoughtful. Something that THEY think I would like.

So they came up with a few ideas which were all VERY cute, very sweet and very much a reflection of all our “in jokes” and our common interests. I approved them and they were very relieved that I liked their ideas. I’ll share pictures of them when I receive them!

Anyway it got me thinking about other great gift ideas, and I came up with a list.

Yes these are things I would like, but they are such cool gift ideas, that I might get them as Christmas gifts for my girlfriends? Am I mad?

Camera Bags Rebecca Minkoff and Shaffer

For YEARS I have looked for a stylish camera bag (for my huge DSLR), and I have resolved that they don’t exist and I’ll never have one that I’d be happy with.

But isn’t it funny now – digital cameras have become smaller in size and now there are these super cute and super versatile bags for sale. These two look beautiful! And they could both double up as a regular handbag.

Left: Rebecca Minkoff Camera Bag –  I’m liking the little metal detail.

Right: Shaffer Camera Bag – I think I like this plain, slouchy, understated look more.

Novelty Keyrings from Shopbop

Ok so I love a bit of novelty. Especially novelty leather bag charms!

These are so cute, cool and weird that I would love all of them haha.

Kate Spade Keychain – Bananas! Just adorable. Would love to have these on dangling on my black handbag.

Kate Spade Keychain – Passion Fruit Drink. I really like this one because it looks more like a healthy smoothie than a cocktail. And y’all know I like my smoothies.

Iphoria Bag Charm – Bomb. Very cool, but a bit abstract. You have to do a double take. And you might get flagged as a security risk if you talk about your “bomb” haha.

Novelty Keyrings from Shopbop

When my youngest boy, Liam was a newborn, my other two boys and I (at the time they were 6 and 4 years old) went shopping to buy Liam a little toy gift. We chose a soft, dangly lion with a musical bell, because “Lion” was very similar to “Liam”.

So now whenever I see toy lion charms, I always get a bit warm and fuzzy in my heart and I think of all my boys.

Anyway, I spotted this Lion charm and found a few other cute animal bag charms that I felt I had a connection with too. Ok this is all getting a bit too lovey and cheesy.

Tory Burch Bag Charm – Cute lion!

Kate Spade Keychain – Turtle. I used to be a scuba diver and I have an insanely soft spot for turtles.

Kate Spade Keychain – Parrot. Love this vibrant red colour and it reminds me of tropical jungles. (I am from a tropical island. But my tropical island didn’t have red parrots. Just red crabs haha!)

Having said all this, I would much prefer my boys to get me a gift from their heart, and as much lovey cheese as possible.

(Oh and for my birthday, my husband is taking me on an overseas holiday! But it’s a family holiday, so I don’t think it counts. More about that soon…) 


What I Wore: Grey on Grey on Grey

10 June 2016

Grey on Grey

Over the last few months, I’ve been having a splendid time digging deep into my wardrobe and discovering lots of clothes I’ve forgotten about!

So. Let’s get started with Karen’s El-Cheapo Fashion Tips shall we?

Grey is pretty much the hero colour for this new season. Grey on grey on grey.

The trick is: Pull out all your old grey items and wear them together to feel like a super trendy person!

Grey Shirt

I bought this Ben Sherman Women’s Shirt about 4 years ago (worn here, with er… bikinis). It has a really flattering cut and it fits me perfectly.

The reason I don’t wear it often, is that the buttons are a little small for the button holes… so the buttons pop open whenever I move too much. I’ll be paying for my groceries and POP, hello girls!

I have been meaning to change the buttons, but seriously, who has time for that? Instead I try to wear the flattest bra I can – or a crop top – so I don’t get caught flashing the school headmaster.

Oh the shirt also has these big cuffs, which I have always rolled up.

It turns out that big cuffs are “in” now; and while I took a photo of myself looking very trendy here… after trying to drive a car and eat lunch with floppy cuffs, I decided they weren’t for me and rolled up the sleeves again.

I can’t seem to find any Ben Sherman shirts for women anymore, I guess they’ve just stuck to making men’s shirts.

Grey Jeans

My grey jeans are Super Skinnies from Jeanswest, also bought years ago, so they are no longer available.

They are really similar to these mid-rise CK Jeans, which are on 15% off sale at the moment, (with an extra 30% off if you use the site code).

The reason I don’t wear these jeans very often is because I once washed them with “eco-friendly” washing powder and they came out with blotchy stains on them. I was so annoyed! You can see some blotches in the photo, on my hips. I know, they don’t look that bad. They look like a cool vintage acid wash, right?

Off White Handbag

I think I’ve already mentioned that my Alexander Wang Marion bag was a preloved item I bought from a private sale.

I saw one on clearance sale at SSense and then I saw a black one on sale at Shopbop a couple of weeks back, but now I can’t seem to find any Marion style bags online anymore?!

Background

It’s this season’s greatest accessory. Be sure to photograph yourself in front of a greyish background. Here’s some inter web inspo just for you.

Enjoy your weekend and enjoy your greys! ;)

xxx

 


Frisch and Barc Cafe, Como

9 June 2016

Frisch and Barc Cafe, Como

I met up with some girlfriends for brunch at a new cafe in Como called, Frisch and Barc.

Named after a Nobel prize winning scientist, Karl Ritter von Frisch, who studied the social and communicative interactions of honeybees, he discovered that bees were intelligent creatures who communicated through intricate and complex ways in order to create their home, the barc (wild beehive).

I think the take home word here is community.

The interior was cool and modern, with big glass windows lighting up the cafe with natural light, lots of tables and chairs, a wooden staircase to an upstairs section, and a big arty mural to remind everyone how hip and urban the place is.

The menu looked pretty good. Inspired by American, modern Australian and Asian flavours, there was also lots of tea options, but I’m a soy flat white kind of girl.

Frisch and Barc Cafe, Como

We ordered the Singapore Chilli Crab Omelette ($23.90) with grilled shimeji mushroom, Asian herb salad and ciabatta toast.

The omelette was lovely and fluffy. The bread was drenched in the chilli crab sauce. I couldn’t really taste where the crab ended and the sauce started, because the crab meat was so soft. It was all very tasty and flavoursome, perhaps a bit too salty and overpowering though. The chilli sauce wasn’t very hot; it was mild, which suited me just fine. I liked the fresh salad.

It was a bit weird for my palate. As I ate it, I realised that I haven’t had authentic Singapore chilli crab since… maybe 5-6 years ago, so I had nothing to compare it to.

I couldn’t get over the cost of it. Then again, it was a dish with crab, so I guess it was understandable.

Overall, it was a unique way to eat eggs on toast. It had an element of fun and a cheeky nod to my Singaporean roots.

Frisch and Barc Cafe, Como

Brioche French Toast ($17.90) with coconut and pandan custard, berry with apple compote and crushed pistachio.

Again another nod to South East Asian flavours. The brioche was yummy, soft and buttery.

When I have brunch, I usually order pancakes or cakes as my sweet option… I haven’t had French toast in ages. It was lovely, sweet, fruity, creamy. It was a bit expensive.

We also ordered the Pulled Pork Toastie with Apple Slaw ($15.90) which was the winner in my opinion. The pork was absolutely delicious and full of infused flavours. When eaten with the fresh, tart apple slices with the creamy dressing, it was heaven in my mouth. I would definitely come back to eat it again!

Frisch and Barc
297 Canning Highway
Como, 6152 WA

(You can find their latest menu on their Facebook page)


Kiehl’s Nightly Micro-Peel and Ultra Facial Cream

7 June 2016

Kiehl’s recently launched a new stack of beauty products… and a few found their way to my mailbox. Hooray!

Admittedly I was a tiny bit reluctant to try new skincare as I’ve been trying to stick to a single regime – as recommended by my dermatologist, which is another story. And initially I was just planning to share it on Instagram only, without a full review.

But in the end, I gave them a 2 week trial – and WOW they were really good, so I was keen to share!

Kiehl's Face and Eye Cream, Micro Peel

The Ultra Facial Cream inspired by the popular Ultra Facial Moisturiser (a lotion), has a lovely, light and smooth texture and delivered an excellent dose of moisture and hydration to my skin.

The cream wasn’t too heavy, it didn’t make my skin feel yucky and my face didn’t feel dry over the course of the day. The fragrance was light and not overpowering. Some might say the fragrance has a very faint chemical smell, but I would choose that over a strong perfumed, musky, floral smell (which I really dislike).

Overall the cream was a simple and effective all day moisturiser.

My only fault that I’d bring to attention is that on the back of the tub there is a large 4-colour cartoon graphic of Greenland (which highlights Kiehl’s support for a historic expedition to Greenland’s ice peaks in 2005)… it looks weird and not very stylish :)

Kiel's NIghtly Refining Micro Peel

Nightly Refining Micro-Peel Concentrate

OK this is my winner!

I have been using a few different AHA’s (facial exfoliants) for about 5 years now. I don’t use them on a daily basis, even though many products say that you can use them daily or every second day. My main reason is because they are quite expensive, so I tend to use them every 5 days. I like to make them last! Second reason I don’t use them every day is because I tend to forget or get lazy.

The key ingredient is “Quinoa Husk Extract” which sounds like the product would be a husky-scrubby exfoliant, but it really just looks like a pale yellow liquid. It doesn’t feel oily at all.

This product is a peel, so I tested it for 2 days on my neck, in case I reacted badly to it. It was fine, so on the 3rd night I used a little tiny bit on my cheek, then on the 4th night I used it all over my face.

It tingled and stung a little, but the next morning my skin looked radiant, fresh and soft – which is the usual result whenever I use my other AHA products.

I didn’t use this Micro-Peel nightly, I used it every 2 days and as a result my skin and complexion was lovely.

It’s a little pricey, but the results are good!

(Compared to my other AHA products, which I rate 9/10 for exfoliating power, I would rate this one 8/10)

Kiehl's Face and Eye Cream, Micro Peel

Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado

Of the three products sent to me, I predicted that this one was going to be the one that I could write mediocre comments about so that my review would seem more credible haha. I can’t be a blogger who LOVES everything can I?

Anyway, it turned out that I really liked this cream too.

The texture is really unusual. Most eye creams are a bit like jelly, or oily, and overly greasy. But this cream is a super thick, light and smooth.

When I use my fingers to dab cream around my eyes, the cream almost feels like a thick face paint, but it quickly melts away and feels good on my skin. I liked it!

I even used it in the crease of my nose and around my lips, as I get a bit dry and flakey during winter.

Have you tried any of Kiehl’s latest products? What do you think?


What I Wore: Chambray Off Shoulder Top

4 June 2016

Chambray Off Shoulder Top

Hi everyone,

My week has been a filled with sickness, mummy duties and kid dramas! That’s life really. I just pick myself up and keep on swimming.

Every day I reach out to ruffle my boy’s hair, hold them at an arms length, look up close at their eyes, face, skin and give them a snuggle. Just because I can.

Anyway, the sun came out the other day and I took the opportunity to grasp the last fragments of the warm weather!

Chambray Off Shoulder Top

I picked up this off shoulder top while I was in Seminyak in Bali recently, at a shop called Bamboo Blonde (Australian label, made in Bali). I loved the chambray blue colour, the silky soft fabric and I also loved the fold-over tulip detail.

While it was perfect to wear with denim shorts and bikinis by the pool, I was determined to make it work for a city lunch date – hence the pencil skirt and black heels.

Can’t seem to find the original top online, so this is it in a different colour, and here’s one kind of similar (ASOS) and another similar one (ASOS).

Chambray Off Shoulder Top

I had to dig deep into my archives to find a suit skirt. I haven’t worn one in years!

But a black pencil skirt never goes out of style, so I’m happy that this one had lasted that long.

This skirt is one of those an unbranded pieces that my sister bought in Japan, over a decade ago. Love that it still looks and feels as good as new.

I think I’ll be putting it in my weekly rotation with my big chunky knits and booties.

This black Pencil Skirt (ASOS) is the closest I could find online.

xxx


Best Buy: Gorjana Hoop Earrings

30 May 2016

Gorjana Hoops

A few months ago, I picked up these Gorjana Viceroy Earrings from Shopbop.

I was actually just trying to bump up my order to US$100, so I could qualify for free shipping (ha!).

So it was more of an impulse purchase, which was ok, because they were only US$30.

Turns out, I love wearing them EVERYWHERE!

They are not TOO big and TOO hoopy-gypsy-looking.

I love wearing them with a casual t-shirt, a fluffy jumper, or with a simple black dress.

Gorjana Hoops

They are 18k gold plated, made in New York, so hopefully they will last a lot longer than my usual el-cheapo jewellery purchases.

One thing though, these earrings don’t come with rubber stoppers, so used stoppers from another pair of earrings, just to make sure they don’t slip off my ears.

Gorjana do a lot of minimal, modern, delicate jewellery, which are good quality and at an affordable price. I have my eye on some slightly larger (or hoopier) earrings now!

Enjoy!

(Btw, my skin is not that nice all the time. I’m wearing SO MUCH makeup it’s unbelievable!)


A Squeaky Clean with the Clensure Rotating Facial Cleanser

27 May 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clensure Professional Facial Cleanser RC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clensure Professional Facial Cleanser RC

My thoughts on the brush.

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

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

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

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

My thoughts on the sponge and massage attachment.

I like the sponge attachment!

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

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

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

Clensure Professional Facial Cleanser RC

My thoughts on the clean.

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

My skin feels squeaky clean, smoother and tighter afterwards.

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

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

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

I works really well for me.

My thoughts on long term usage

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

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

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

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

 

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

 

Special Promotion

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

Purchase a Clensure RC Rotating Facial Cleanser and…

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

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

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

Have an amazing weekend everyone!

xxx


Feather Touch Eyebrows from 4NE1 Korean Beauty

4 May 2016

Brought to you buy 4NE1 Beauty

I’m slightly late on the Feather Touch Eyebrow scene.

I have girlfriends who have been doing it for years… friends who travel to Asia to get it done, friends who spend $2000 on designer brows, friends who go to “home salons”.

Heck even my mother, most of my aunties and my younger cousins have had their eyebrows feather touched.

I’ve waited this long because 1. the cost (ie. I’d rather buy shoes) and 2. I don’t want a permanent tattoo – turns out the feather touch technique is NOT a tattoo and is NOT permanent.

4NE1 Beauty feather touch eyebrows are semi-permanent, they use organic inks from Europe, the treatment lasts 1-2 years and are supposed to look natural.

The treatment is spread out over 2 sessions. The first session starts with a consultation. Then the eyebrows are drawn in with a pencil to confirm the shape you want. Numbing cream is applied. The feather touch treatment takes about 1 hour for both eyebrows. No it doesn’t hurt. The second treatment is called a “Touch Up” where they go through exactly the same process. Both sessions are included in the price.

 

Most feather touch eyebrow reviews only show Before and Immediately After photos.

But what does it look like after 4 weeks? That’s what I really wanted to know!

So I’ve been tracking my eyebrows for your viewing pleasure :P

Feathertouch Eyebrows from 4NE1 Korean Beauty

Left photo: BEFORE! Showing off my natural eyebrows. I am just wearing foundation, some colour on my cheeks and some nude lip colour. No eyeliner or mascara. I’m about to head out to the beauty salon.

Right photo: AFTER! Shows my eyebrows after the feather touch treatment. It only took 1 – 1.5 hours to do. This photo was taken 3 hours later. They look awesome! So natural! Eeek I looooove them!

Pain: Numbing cream was a dream during the treatment.

After care: I was given a print out sheet on how to look after them! No sweating, no sun, no swimming or spray tans for 3-4 days after. No rubbing, scrubbing, cleansing the eyebrows for 3-4 days. It will itch and flake. No picking, scratching, or picking the treated area. Let it exfoliate itself naturally.

After two weeks, they faded to about 20%, they were very light. I was quite surprised/annoyed that they had faded so much, and I was keen to go back to get my touch up. I don’t have a photo of my faded eyebrows.

Feathertouch Eyebrows from 4NE1 Korean Beauty

Left photo: After my touch up. (I had since had a hair cut.) During the touch up treatment, I asked the beautician to make my eyebrows bolder and straighter (not so arched) because I knew they would fade. She laughed at me and said that “Everyone is scared the first time around, and everyone asks to make it darker the second time around!” Haha glad it’s not just me.

I also had eyelash extensions, as I was going on holiday to Bali and going to a wedding! They looked amazing! I wasn’t wearing any eyeliner, just the lashes.

(Btw, I was also wearing an off shoulder top. I wasn’t naked!)

Right photo: 2 weeks after my touch up. My eyebrows look pretty amazing. They look super natural. I’m wearing foundation, blush, lipstick and eyeliner. Half of my eyelash extensions are still there, so I’m not wearing any mascara.

 

Overall – As an everyday natural look, they are perfect! It’s so nice to wake up in the morning, slap cream on my face and have a good set of brows to make my face bright and bold. However personally, I prefer my eyebrows to be even more darker and straighter, so I will be booking in to get yet another touch up.

Feather touch is simple, effective and it doesn’t have to cost the earth.

Cost: I know people who have paid $1000, $800, $600, $450 at different salons around Perth and even $200 at home salons.

4NE1 Beauty does feather touch eyebrows for $350, they call it the “3D Nature Eyebrow”. But it’s the same thing.

The ladies at 4NE1 are all highly trained beauticians, therapists and make up artists, with years of experience in Korea. When they migrated to Australia, they used to work in home salons but have come together to set up an actual business and shop front. They are pretty popular nowadays and it’s great to know that they are fully booked out some days! I am more than pleased to help spread the word about them.

Another interesting thing to note: I noticed that many salons tend to draw eyebrows in a very slim, arched style. Maybe it’s a European thing? Maybe it has been the fashion carried on from the past? Maybe it’s what the more mature ladies prefer? Well I tend to like straight, thick and bold eyebrows (with a slight curve, so it still matches my eye sockets). It’s a style that is more a popular in Korea and Asia, and all the beauticians at the 4NE1 salon were rocking it, so I was confident they could deliver!

I’m pretty happy with my brows, happy with the process and the super friendly, efficient service, I can’t wait to go back for my touch up!

Thank you so much to the girls at 4NE1!

4NE1 Beauty and Nails
98 Kooyong Road, Rivervale WA
9361 4425
Mon – Thur 9am – 5:30pm
Friday 9am – 8pm
Saturday 9am – 5pm
Closed on Sunday and Public Holidays


Catching Up With The Kids

15 April 2016

Being a mum of three, it’s no surprise that my life pretty much revolves around my kids.

So what’s been happening in our household these last few weeks?

Elizabeth Quay March 2016

1. We’re going hiking!

We’ll be doing a bit of wet-weather mountain hiking soon, so I bought all my boys some waterproof, leather, hiking boots. Usually these kinds of boots can be $250 for a pair, but I found some for around $60 and had them shipped over from the UK. Hope they hold together!

We went for a long practice hike around Kings Park and I’m happy to say that there were NO BLISTERS. Phew.

 

2. My two older boys (11 and 13 years) play basketball for local teams.

One boy’s team reached their Grand Final Championships – and won!

The other boy represented his school in an Inter-School Basketball Championship and they won too!

I’m crazy proud that they play and love so many different kinds of sports. And I love it that they give it their best each time.

 

3. We had a medical emergency on the weekend (as you do!) 

One of my boys woke up with a crushing pain in his lower abdomen that caused him to shake, cry, was unable to urinate and it affected his breathing. He usually has a very high threshold for pain, so it was really unusual for us to see him curled up in a ball.

I went from… making fun of him “Bah, you probably have a fart coming!” to… RACING out to the doctor and literally packing our overnight bags, expecting for the worst – Kidney failure! Emergency surgery! Ruptured appendix! Ruptured bowels! Internal bleeding! Death! OMG!

HOURS LATER: After a dose of pandadol and close monitoring from the doctor, it turned out that he was just dehydrated?? What. The. Hell??

Yeah… I’m so happy and thankful that it was nothing worse. But that whole adventure took up the whole day. 8 hours! It tested my threshold for anxiety and panic. It made me cry. It turned our weekend plans upside down. Just because my kid forgot to drink water after his cross country run?! Ugh seriously?? So bloody annoying!

 

4. My boys are into coding and making their own games. Even the 7 year old.

Yes my boys are bright. Yes they are creative. Yes I appreciate the benefits of learning how to code, I’m aware of the new “cool” factor surrounding science and technology, and that computers are the way of the future…

But do they have to be so obsessed about it all? Do they have to be on a computer all the time? Do they have to regard American ‘YouTube Gamers’ like heroes? Surely there is more to science and technology than being a YouTube Star? Surely there are greater life goals for young boys??

So, quietly, I am not too pleased about my kid’s new computer-game making hobby.

But I shall shut my mouth and not say a word about it… and hopefully this craze will end soon!

 

5. They are cooking more family meals.

They are just making hamburgers, nachos, omelettes, bread and pizzas from scratch, baking scones and brownies.

Aside from the mess and the huge piles of dirty dishes… I’m pretty happy with that.

 

6. Another medical emergency involving brain-eating amoebas.

We were recently on holiday, swimming, kayaking, bush hiking and sand-boarding around Moore River in the small town of Guilderton. There was large amounts of warm, stagnant, fresh water and warning signs about the possible risk of amoeba meningitis.

Yes! Amoebas that eat your brains! Holy crap! They enter through your eyes, ears or mouth, so you’re not supposed to submerge your face and head underwater. You can be sure that we took a lot of care whilst doing all our water activities.

We were all good, until we decided to go for one last sand boarding session.

While coming down a slope, one of my sons crashed, tumbled down and got his head buried in the sand. He staggered blindly towards some people who helped him wash his face and eyes – IN THE RIVER WATER! OH MY GOD!

On the car ride home, there was still sand stuck in his eyes, causing him a lot of pain.

Over the hour, his eyes became more and more red, puffy and inflamed. His face turned red too. OMG I was FREAKING TERRIFIED about the amoebic meningitis, I was literally trembling with horror and going through wave after wave of panic attacks. I tried SO hard to be calm about it on the outside.

We went straight to the doctor. Antibiotic eye wash. Pain relief. Dark sunglasses. Rest. A cry (me). 12 hour sleep (him).

After all that and another check up with the doctor, all was good. No need to go to hospital. Life goes on.

I’m sure life will get even more dramatic once they all become proper teenagers!


Bellabox Beauty Goodies

4 April 2016

Hi everyone!

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

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

Are these boxes a waste of money??

Bellabox Subscription Beauty Box

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bellabox Subscription Beauty Box

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

So what is good about these subscription boxes anyway?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

As for me…

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

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

Enjoy!