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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 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 readable.

Lots of other mum’s 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 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 one.

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.


A birthday of bagpipe farts

25 July 2014

For my birthday, my husband and I planned to go out for a fancy, romantic, degustation dinner. In fact, I was so organised that I booked the restaurant about 6 weeks earlier. It was at a restaurant that I have been dying to visit… and finally I had an excuse to spend hundreds of dollars on a meal there!

So on the day of my birthday, my family made me breakfast: Bacon, eggs, mushrooms and spinach.

It was just how I liked it. So much love right there.

My Birthday 2014

In the afternoon, I went out to lunch with my parents.

We shared a huge bowl of delicious nachos. I had my usual soy flat white.

My Birthday 2014

After lunch, we chatted and did a bit of shopping. Then I went to pick up my kids from school, brought them home and fed them a snack.

Since my husband and I were going out for dinner that evening, all 3 of my kids were going to have a sleep-over at my parent’s house. Yay! Like I said, I was super organised.

I grabbed their ready-packed clothes and drove over to my parents house. I dropped them off and zoomed home by 4:30pm… giving myself HEAPS of time to have a shower, wash my hair, put on my makeup, style my hair, and put together an evening outfit for a hot Friday night date with my husband.

But on the way home…I started to feel…unsettled. And the feeling grew. A sense of anxiety came over me.

By the time I reached my house, I realised I was feeling sick, and the feeling was growing fast.

There was a sudden pain in my stomach. I felt swollen with sickness. I wanted to throw up. My head was spinning. I felt so freaking bad that I had to lie down on my bed.

I curled up into a fetal position, squeezed my eyes shut and my head spun into a pit of swirling darkness.

I laid there, fully dressed and still wearing my makeup and shoes… and I blacked out.

At 5:30pm, I opened one eye.

OMG I was still in agony. I looked down at my stomach and I couldn’t believe it. It was huge, swollen and round and I looked like I was 6 months pregnant!!! WHAT THE HELL DID I EAT???

I reached behind me, my hands clumsily slapping the bed sheets, looking for my handbag. I found my phone and I called my husband.

The conversation went something like: URNGH. I’m sick. I ate something bad. I feel like shit. Not going out tonight. Cancel the restaurant booking. I’m staying bed.

I passed out again.

My husband came home, checked that I was still breathing, put a bucket next to my bedside table and left me sleeping.

At 9:30pm, I opened one eye again.

My necklaces were tangled in my hair. One earring was wedged into my ear. I smudged makeup and lipstick all over my pillow and sheets. I had one shoe off and one shoe on. My body was aching. My head was still dizzy. My stomach was still swollen, and I was still in pain.

Yeah, Happy Birthday Karen.

I got out of bed, took off all my jewellery, changed into my pajamas, washed my face… and tenderly staggered out into the lounge room where my husband was watching TV and enjoying his lonely Friday night “man” dinner – toast.

I plopped down next to him on the couch.

And then it happened.

I let out the BIGGEST FART of my life.

It started out resembling a big brass tuba blasting through the cushions of the couch. There was such a change in air pressure I think my ear drums popped. Then it became like a bagpipe belting out morse code. DOT DOT DAAAASH. It wouldn’t stop. Oh my god, I had to leave the room to try and save the last shreds of my dignity. My husband laughed as I fled, jet propelled.

(Mercifully, the pain in my stomach slowly subsided throughout the rest of the night. The “flatulence” did not. And every few minutes, I had a little wind instrument explosions from down below.)

I rang my mum to see if she was feeling ok (we both ate the bowl of nachos) and she was just fine, so it was not something that I ate. And then it hit me… my soy flat white tasted a bit different than usual. Damn it… they probably put REAL milk in my coffee! Grr.

My husband was very supportive. After his initial laughter, he didn’t mention my musical bottom at all. Bless him.

When we finally went to bed, he bravely spooned me and gave me a birthday cuddle in bed, being careful not to squeeze me too tight.

He said: “You know, Honey, even after all these years together, you are still full of surprises.”

And that is how we keep the romance alive! :P


Right, left, right, left… Do you love Body Combat too?

14 July 2014

I’ve been going to a few Body Combat classes lately.

It’s kind of fun. A bunch of ladies punching at the air, while a fitness instructor shouts at us over the roaring music. It feels a bit silly.

But after the class, my biceps, triceps and muscles on my shoulders and back GLOW with a pain that promises my arms to look like Michelle Bridges, so that makes it worth looking silly, right?

The last time I tried Body Combat was 10 years ago. I was horrifically unfit and halfway into the class, I wanted to curl over and puke. But this time I am much fitter, so I manage to keep up pretty well.

I go at it pretty hard. There’s no point in doing weak pathetic punches, so I try to give my punches some power.

My coordination is so bad though!

Geez I’m terrible at the steps, the fancy foot work and trying to remember the routines.

I managed to PUNCH MYSELF IN THE FACE during the class! Who does that?!

Right jab, left jab, right jab, left hook, right hook, left upper-cut, right upper-cut… TRICKY RIGHT?

I got my right upper-cut mixed up with a right hook, so I klonked myself in the cheek.

I stood there for a moment, imaging cartoon stars coming out of my left ear.

I’m sure the instructor saw me.

Then I spent the rest of the class trying not to laugh.. at MYSELF!

I guess I need to practice my WAX ON and WAX OFF technique :P


A Lesson on Gift Giving

4 July 2014

Roses from the Garden

My children asked me what I wanted for my birthday this month.

In the past, I’ve just said stuff along the lines of, “Aww, I’ll love anything you give me. Just put some thought into it!”

So I would get handmade cards, lop sided cakes, popstick craft, pasta necklaces, and bunches of hand-picked mangled flowers/weeds from the garden. Oh how I loved all those innocent, unconditional, adorable, sweet and simple acts of kindness!

But now that my two big boys are a bit older (age 11 and 9), their own ideas about what constitutes a good gift has evolved. They themselves would rather receive money, itunes gift cards, books, computer games, digital devices and gadget paraphernalia. Extremely efficient and practical gifts, but not very thoughtful. Even they would agree to that.

So as the only female in the house, I feel it’s my duty to push the whole idea of being thoughtful, creative, romantic, and generous when it comes to gift giving.

I do feel a bit sorry for them. They’ll have YEARS ahead of them where they will be stumped as to what to buy their girlfriends, wives, sister and mother in laws. Who can possibly know the way to a woman’s heart?

Haha I guess I am happy to give them a few years of training, starting with MY BIRTHDAY!

And since it’s their first year doing this… I’ve given them a few simple guidelines. A few big, fat clues.

Mum loves drinking tea. Mum loves scarves. Mum loves books. Mum loves candles. Mum loves vintage plates and cups. But most of all, mum loves flowers. It’s all about research and creativity, my boys.

It has stressed them out a little. What if you don’t like it? What if you already have that? What if you have something else in mind that you’d rather have?

So I say, once again… “Aww, I’ll love anything you give me.”

But what they need to learn is that what I actually mean: “It had better be something that shows you understand me!!!”


New Shelves and Old School National Geographic

3 July 2014

Things have been go go GO over here in my house. We’ve embarked on a few outstanding projects, minor renovations and epic cleaning sprees! It’s all been so inspiring!

This is our latest project.

New Shelves

When we moved into our house 3 years ago, we had always planned to have a beautiful stretch of Jarrah timber wall shelves, built into our 4m wall in our main lounge room. This would match our floorboards, because we love Jarrah.

Jarrah trees are native to Western Australia, and it is a super hard wood, with the warm colours of toffee and honey. Check out those colours and grain! But Jarrah is expensive, and it is a custom job my husband wants to do himself. So that shelving project had, quite literally, been put on the shelf.

Since then we have kept ALL of our books, magazines, albums, photo frames, precious objects… stored in boxes in our shed.

And for our 4m wall, we just kept leaning random crap against it (boxes, files, folders, random bits of furniture and a spare double bed mattress?!)

So FINALLY, we have set up an interim solution.

My husband and I set up some white chipboard shelves, given to us by my father in law. They are a bit old and crappy (they were stored in a garage, and have some water damage at the bottom)… but hey, they were free, and there’s nothing like crappy, old furniture to give the place a bit of charm :)

My husband gave me the option of painting them white, to make them look fresh and new. But that would mean possibly 5 coats of white paint with lots of drying time, which could take me over 2 weeks to do. That was just a bit too long for me to wait. I needed to get my books out of the wet weather! I decided to give them a good clean and leave them as they were.

I lugged out 14 BOXES OF STUFF from our shed. They were riddled with silverfish and spiders!

Boxes

Look at all those boxes!

New Shelves

Ta da! It looks so cool!

But this is just the first installment. I realised that I have another 2 boxes of books and objects that need to go on the shelves, so I will have to do a book cull (do I really need my uni marketing book??) and maybe put my photo frames on the wall instead.

Anyway, as I said, this is just an temporary solution. We still want our Jarrah wall shelves. But I might have to wait another 3 years for them!

Oh and we’ve got lots of beautiful old treasures that the kids have never seen before. Look at this!

New Shelves

My husband has an old collection of especially-special-to-him National Geographic magazines, the earliest one is from 1962 (before he was even born)! They are packed with amazing pictures and stories that make my toes tingle. And this is possibly one of the most famous Nat Geo covers?

It’s like there is a whole world in our living room now, and I’m so happy that our things are finally out of storage!


How to remove stains, and your sanity.

27 June 2014

Everyone loves a BEFORE AND AFTER shot. And everyone loves a home renovation story too.

So let me present to you what I have been doing for the past week.

I’ve been cleaning up our bathroom.

Tile Clean

Before: The grout was stained yellowed and patchy brown. It was NOT a good look.

It looked like 20 years of accumulated dirt, crusty chemical build-up and general wear and tear had seeped into the grout. Lovely right?

Tile Clean

After: Sparkling white grout! I am a genius. I know.

But, let me tell you people, it was such paaaaainful and agonisingly slow work.

This is how the whole process started -

My husband and I decided that we were NOT going to spend $7000 on a new bathroom renovation. And although he can do the tiling himself, he was unavailable. You know, the whole “I have a full time job” excuse followed by the whole “I have to be a happy parent to 3 young boys”. Yeah OK, I let him off on this one.

So if I wanted a clean looking bathroom, I had to clean it myself. Hmph.

First I tried an organic home cleaner (what a joke!), then a normal heavy duty cleaner, Jiff, bleach, sugar soap, proper grout cleaner, oxygenated whitening cleaners and cleaning acids. NOTHING worked. I was so desperate, I was going to try whitening toothpaste. But I decided that that was such a stupid idea!

Absolutely nothing removed the yellow and brown stains from the white grout. I was SO ANNOYED! All that experimenting took me 3 hours.

Then I bought a tile rake. It’s a metal scraper that grinds off the top layer of grout. Like sand paper. It took me about 3 hours to scrape all the grout back. And guess what. After digging down into the grout, I discovered that the stains were not just on the surface of the grout… they went deep.

Then I used a grout paint.

Tile Clean

That’s right. I freaking HAND PAINTED the whole grout grid, with white paint, using AN ARTIST BRUSH!!

It was a bloody masterpiece I tell you. I bet Michaelangelo didn’t have to do this crap.

All that hand painting took me about 4 hours.

The label on the paint bottle said that the dried paint could easily be rubbed off tiled surfaces. I should have tested it first. Because for my first coat, I painted the grout in big messy lines and let the paint splash up onto the tiles. Big mistake. BIG mistake. Because the excess paint on the tiles was NOT easy to remove. So now I had to scrape all the dried paint OFF the tiles, which subsequently messed up my first coat of paint IN the grout (where I actually wanted it). That took me another 4 freaking hours.

Then I painted the grout with a second coat of white paint. 2 hours.

Seal the paint with grout sealer. 2 hours.

Grand total of 18 hours, spread out over 1 week.

It looks great now, but holy freaking crap it was painful!

On the upside, I listened to my whole iphone playlist, which I’ve never done before. It turns out that I have excellent taste in music… for cleaning grout :)


Equipment Signature Silk Shirt and a $3 Coat

26 June 2014

My classic white shirt is a bit of a wardrobe champion. It never goes out of style!

Whether I wore it during the summer of 2003 with denim sorts and sandals, or winter of 2010 with black pants and stilettos… it’s one of my favourite wardrobe items that is always in fashion. Casual or dressed up, it always looks current, stylish and polished.

I have had many white shirts over the years. I experimented with round collars, embellishments, embroidery, epaulettes, extra pockets, fitted cuts, 3/4 sleeves… and various fabrics like cotton, silk, linen, and polyester blends.

But my favourite style has to be the plain, loose-fitting and slightly man-ish version. Much like a man’s business shirt!

I have ONE white shirt (from Korea) in this classic style. I’ve had it for ages and I wear it to death. It’s made from a mix cotton/polyester fabric (I’m not entirely sure, because the label is in Korean!), but it feels so lovely and smooth, it looks like silk and flows like silk, and if I were to fault it, I’d say that it’s a tiny weeny bit big for my petite frame.

Anyway, I finally bought myself a new, beautiful silk shirt, the very popular Equipment Signature Silk shirt to be exact.

Equipment Signature Silk Shirt

This one fits me beautifully! The length is better for me, it’s a good fit across my shoulders, and a bit slimmer in the body… yet it still has a nice loose-fitting shape. OK perhaps the sleeves are a bit long, so it bunches up at my wrist a little bit, but I always roll up my sleeves anyway. I’m soooo happy!

The silk is top quality and gorgeously luxurious! Yet it doesn’t feel too delicate and fragile, as if it will tear or pull if I walked too close to a… fence?

Equipment Signature Silk Shirt

My other purchase for the month is this AMAZING, speckled grey wool coat.

It seriously looks like a collarless coat by Balenciaga that I spied on ShopStyle a few weeks ago. But I did not buy this online…

I got it from a SECONDHAND SHOP!

It was priced at $5, but when I got to the checkout, the lady said it was on sale for $3!!

I couldn’t believe my luck, I handed her the $5 and insisted that she kept the change.

It fit me PERFECTLY across the shoulders and the length of the arms were spot on. I usually have a problem with the arm length of the coats, because I’m an in-between size. Size 4 is a bit too small, and size 6 is a bit too big. The coat is also nice and roomy in the body, so I can layer up comfortably with sweaters and shirts.

Anyway, I was SO lucky with this purchase, I don’t know which item I’m more excited about… the once-in-a-lifetime-investment silk shirt or the $3 coat haha!!

(Oh, I did have to pay $30 to dry clean the coat.)

I’m also wearing lace shorts from Stephieshop, nude heels from ASOS, gold watch from Guess and necklace by Wanderlust + Co.

You can buy Equipment shirts from Shopbop.

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


History of the Modern Calendar

20 June 2014

My son came home one day and blurted, “Did you know that the first ever calendar only had 10 months??”

(I actually didn’t know that, but I acted all cool about it…)

He wanted to know more about ancient calendars and how our modern day calendar came about… and he was very annoyed that I didn’t know the answers RIGHT NOW AND OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD.

Thanks buddy. I’m already the resident cook, house cleaner, personal taxi driver and the best person for cuddles in the whole family… and now I have to be a freaking walking encyclopaedia?!

So we jumped online and the results were so interesting, that I’ve decided to share it with you all!

Calendar Animals

(I also decided that these little critters are my favourite embodiment of a modern day calendar haha!)

Our modern day calendar is essentially the Gregorian Calendar, which is a tweak of the Julian Calendar, which in turn was a tweak of the Early Roman Calendar, which was essentially based on a lunar calendar. Of course the Mayans, Egyptians, Babylonians, Chinese had their own calendars too, also based on the lunar cycles.

It seems there were a lot of TRICKY MATHS and astronomy involved in calendar making… so over the history of time, there was a lot of calendar tweaking.

The Early Roman Calendar had 304 days in the year, with only 10 months, and the year started in March (or Martius) in honour of Mars. So there was no January or February. This is why the names of our months seem a bit off… September is our 9th month, but septem means seven; October is our 10th month, but octo means eight; November is our 11th month, but novem means nine, and December is our 12th month, but decem means ten. Now you know why!

Around 713 BC, a new Roman king shuffled things around to create a calendar year consisting of 355 days, and added two new months, January and February.

That stayed around until 46BC, then Julius Caesar created the Julian Calendar where each year has 365 days, with a leap day added to February every 4 years.

His predecessor, Augustus the emperor of Rome, changed a couple of the month names in honour of Julius (July) and himself (August).

Well the Julian Calendar sounds exactly like the modern calendar right?

Apparently, if we follow this Julian rule, then every 400 years, we would GAIN 3 DAYS…  all our seasons would be out of whack, our sun and moon would not be in the right place and our crops will fail.

So in 1582 the Gregorian Calendar added a 0.002% correction to the year… and came up with the rule:

Every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400. (from Wikipedia)

Whatever. Like I said. Tricky. Maths. Involved.

The new Gregorian calendar wasn’t widely accepted when it was first proposed. It was only until 1752, that Britain and the US adopted it, by which time they were 11 days ahead and out of sync with the seasons. So they had to correct it ALL by having the day 2 September 1752 followed by 14 September 1752. 11 days were taken away just like that! Lots of people were unhappy and against the new change, claiming the Catholic Church was stealing their days.

How funny!

So interesting right?

I wish someone would steal my days.

I want it to be summer already! (It is winter here in Australia.)


The Classic Pump

10 June 2014

The black pump (sometimes called “courts” in England) is definitely a modern day classic for any wardrobe.

With a medium height heel and a slightly pointed toe, I find myself reaching for my black pumps more than any other shoe.

Of course, I own lots and lots of black high heeled shoes, collected over the years. Many are just variations of the classic pump style (sling backs, mules, almond toe, patent, pony hair, ankle straps, block heel) and most were under the $100 mark.

But I have only owned ONE good quality, leather, classic-styled pump. They cost me around $130 (on sale) about 10 years ago, and they have finally worn out. I’ve been jamming them into too many pavement cracks and the leather on the heel point is all messed up.

So I finally bought myself some new, good quality, everyday heels.

Acne Lola Suede Pumps

They are Acne Lola Suede Pumps from Forward by Elyse Walker.

They have a classic 50′s style profile, featuring black suede uppers, 100% leather, made in Italy, 3.3 inch heel (8.4 cms). They feel beautiful and are just gorgeous to wear.

Now that I own them, I am a bit scared to wear them, in case I scuff up the heels – again!

But it did get me thinking about the history of the pump shoe. So of course, I went online to read WORDS, as opposed to just looking at pictures of shoes.

The origin of high heels (pumps) can be traced back to the 15th Century, where they were called pompes. These pompes were initially flat and worn by men, but soon heels were added for practical reasons – horse riders didn’t want their feet slipping in the horse stirrups.

High heels for men? For practical reason? Horse riding? How deliciously ironic!

High heels slowly became popular with the rich and famous, upper class… and they were worn by both men and women. It’s been documented that the famously short French Queen, Catherine d’Medici requested her shoe maker to add two inches to her wedding shoes when she married King Henry II in 1533. I hear you sister!

And apparently, the Queen Marie Antoinette was also such a fan of high heels that she was wearing a pair when she had her head chopped off during the French revolution. That is serious commitment to fashion.

Fast forward to 1953, the shoe designer for Christian Dior, Roger Viver, created the first ever stiletto high heel and they became all the rage in 50s fashion.

And in the 90s, shoe designers like Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin became fashion celebrities in their own right, by transforming the high heeled shoe into a “super accessory” and an art form.

I don’t think the high heel shoe will ever go out of fashion. But, the biggest question is… I wonder if high heels will ever come back into fashion for men??


Feeling Frigid

29 May 2014

I woke up bright and early the other day and found that my 10 year old fridge had stopped working.

Argh! Not only did it stop cooling, it was actually HEATING everything inside it!

What a hassle. Why did it have to break down this week?! I’m so insanely busy with work and life, I don’t have time to deal with this!!

I had to take everything OUT of the fridge and freezer, THROW most of it in the bin, and borrow space in my neighbor’s fridge for the rest. Then, I had to CLEAN the fridge from top to bottom… because there was a disgusting puddle stain made from a dripping, slimy, rotten zucchini.

Fridge Died

Wow, my fridge hasn’t been this clean and empty and white since… well, since it was new.

After marvelling at my own cleverness/laziness that I have never wasted any of my life cleaning my fridge in the last 10 years, I sat down at my computer to do some research on NEW fridges. Brushed steel fridge exterior! Double French doors! Sleek modern designs! Water dispensers! LCD panels! Energy efficiency ratings! I was getting excited!

Something that has constantly nagged at me since I bought this fridge (when I was pregnant with my first kid) is that it has only a two and a half star (out of five stars maximum) energy efficiency rating. So I have always felt that it was only half as good as it could be. Was this now the opportunity to upgrade to a newer, more efficient, and more faithful fridge?

On one hand, I could have a brand new, shiny, super fancy fridge of my dreams for approximately $3000.

But on the other hand, before it stropped working, I had NO actual complaints about my fridge at all. There was nothing wrong with it. I didn’t really NEED a shiny new fridge.

So I decided to call a fridge repair company. I promised myself that *if* they said it would take more than two days for a repair man to arrive, then I would just buy the new fridge.

And the phone conversation was like this:

“What?! He can be here in 20 minutes??? Um. Ok. Yeah, sure I’ll be home…. My address? Right. It’s… ”

24 minutes later, the fridge guy turned up in a van whiter than the inside of my fridge, wearing overalls to match.  He had the cheery mood of a man who takes great joy in making people’s fridges work. In another five minutes, he had diagnosed the fridge fan was dead.

He said it would cost $200 to fix the fan (parts and labour), and it’d take 30 minutes to repair. And he could do it RIGHT NOW, because he had the spare part in his van.

There I was, suddenly *wishing* he had said the problem was going to take a WEEK TO FIX AND COST $700!! I wanted his permission to go and buy a new fridge!

So what did I do?

I decided to go cheap, and fix the fan.

Bam! And the whole fridge drama went away just like that.

I was a little bit grumpy that I don’t have a shiny new fridge, but I was SO relieved.

Did I make the right decision? In the long term, who knows.

But for now? Hell yeah!

So, here’s to putting it off, and feeling on top of the world for it!!

(And by the way… I found out during my online research that the most energy efficient fridge in the market only has three and a half out of five stars of energy efficiency. So two and a half isn’t so bad!)


Offerings of Peace and Manipulation

23 May 2014

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

Meaning, he’s been soooo UNBELIEVABLY naughty!

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

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

THIS.

Peace Offerings by Liam

It’s called EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL.

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

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

Peace Offerings by Liam

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

I now just throw away the identical and mediocre ones.

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

Peace Offerings by Liam

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s very difficult to NOT crack a smile.

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

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


My Yummy Banana Bread

21 May 2014

Banana Cake

I have been using this recipe for years! It’s always a winner. It usually gets eaten up in one afternoon… because it’s so delicious and moist.

I actually wrote up this recipe last year. But every time I make it, people keep asking me for the recipe :) So here it is again!

I don’t add any refined sugar to this recipe. The result is that it tastes like a “crumbly bread” not a “sweet cake” . If you’re not used to it, you might think it tastes a bit “bitter”. So feel free to add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey or brown sugar to the recipe.

My kids will often slice it up, spread butter on it while it’s hot and drizzle maple syrup on top.

Below is the original recipe, but nowadays I’ve been using half self-raising flour and half almond meal, to make it extra moist and less gluteny :)

Banana Bread
75g of butter
2 medium eggs, at room temperature
450g ripe banana, weighed with skin on
2 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey (Or you can just omit the sugar altogether).
¼ teaspoon of bicarb soda
pinch of salt
100g chopped walnuts
1 ½ cups (225g) self-raising white flour
Handful of sunflower seeds and pepitas

*I use 100g of self raising white flour and 125g of almond meal.

1. Heat oven to 180ºC. Lightly grease a 11cm x 22cm loaf pan. Line the base and 2 long sides with baking paper.

2. Melt the butter and let it cool. Mix in maple syrup or sugar (if you’re using it).

3. Add eggs and combine well.

4. Mash the bananas and add it to the mixture.

5. Add the chopped walnuts. Give it all a good stir!

6. Sift in flour, bicarb soda and pinch of salt. Stir slowly until *just* combined.

7. Pour into the loaf tin. Sprinkle with seeds and pepitas. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to stand for a few minutes then cool on wire rack.

Enjoy!

xxx


I know how many times you’ve had sex…

14 May 2014

Yep. That’s what my youngest son told me at breakfast this morning. He said…

“Mummy, I know how many times you’ve had sex!”

I double blinked. I looked suspiciously at my husband. He shrugged – meaning he was not to blame. I flicked my eyes over to one of my older sons, who looked away quickly. Aha! Guilty!

“And how do you know that, my dear?” I innocently asked my youngest.

So, it turns out that the night before, my husband and all three boys were watching TV, and some characters in the TV show were talking about sex.

My older boys giggled at the joke on TV.

But, at five years old, Liam didn’t know what was so funny, so he asked “Hey, what’s sex?”

My older boy answered, “Sex is when a man and a woman have a special kind of cuddle… to make a baby.”

Good answer! Not the whole truth, but accurate, and a good place for your five year old brother to start. Well done kid.

So apparently Liam nodded and went back to eating his apple and wiping his runny nose on the couch cushions.

However, during the night, he must have calculated how many times I have had sex, based on the number of kids in the family! *Eye roll* Well done to you too Liam.

So, there you go, my secret is out. I’ve had sex three times. What about you? :P


Taste of Perth Food Festival 2014

6 May 2014

Warning: Contains explicit images of amazing food!

On Friday night, I went to check out the Taste of Perth, a 3 day food festival happening in the city.

Originating 10 years ago in London, the Taste Festival has made its way around the world with the simple concept: they choose the city’s best and hottest restaurants to create 4 signature dishes in “taste” sized portions, allowing festival goers to pick and choose their own ideal degustation menu.

You have to pay an entry fee to enter the festival ($40), which featured cooking demonstrations, cooking masterclasses, cocktail making classes, and non-stop live music.  Then in order to purchase the “Taste dishes” and drinks, you have to buy “Crowns” -  the currency at the festival. $1 = 1 Crown.

I was invited as a “media guest” so I was given a complimentary ticket to the event, but I purchased $40 worth of Crowns for me to eat my way through the menu.

Taste of Perth 2014

Apparently I didn’t read the invitation properly – it was an outdoor event, and it was 7°C outside. So of course, I wore knee high stiletto boots with leather shorts, Isabel Marant silk and a Witchery blazer. What was I thinking?! Yes, I was a bit cold. and I was making holes in the grass with my stiletto heels, stumbling around like a drunk girl at the horse races.

Plus I went to the event by myself, so I was hanging around like a loser loner.

This year, 10 of Perth’s top restaurants participated in the festival: Bib & Tucker, Bistro Guillaume, Co-Op Dining, El Publico, Greenhouse, Lalla Rookh, No 4 Blake, Nobu, Print Hall and Silks. All big-name, popular restaurants, and I have only eaten at a few of them. So it was an excellent opportunity to browse!

Taste of Perth 2014

This was the scene at the stall by Bistro Guillaume Restaurant, well known in Perth for amazing, classic French dishes.

On the menu was Chicken Liver Parfait with pear chutney, croutons ($8) and Amelia Park Lamb Cutlets Ratatouille ($12).

Taste of Perth 2014

Decorated like a fancy Chinese restaurant, the Silks stall charmed the socks off me. It looked like a set of a Hong Kong ganster film, with dramatic back-lighting and two huge pots of water pumping steam into the air, making the atmosphere mysterious and seedy.

Taste of Perth 2014

However the food was far from mysterious and seedy. This is the Braised Pork Belly with lohan fruit and a steamed hollow bun ($12).

The queue was pretty long for this stall. There were 10 or so people waiting in the line. So I wiggled to the front of the queue (with my big camera in hand) and I found a lady who ordered this pork belly dish and I asked if I could take a photo of it.

It looked amazing. I could see the hot, juicy layers of fat sitting in the syrupy sauce. She poured the contents of the cup into the hollow bun, picked it up in her fingers and took a bite. I gave off a little gasp of envy, obviously it was my stomach speaking.

Taste of Perth 2014

I wiggled my way to the Nobu Restaurant stall, again the queue was very long. And again, I stalked a young guy, “Can I take I a photo of your pork belly?”

Yes, those were my exact words. And yes, he knew exactly what I was talking about.

Pork Belly, Spicy Miso Caramel ($12).

Taste of Perth 2014

Eventually I got tired of taking photos of OTHER PEOPLE’S MEALS, so I hoped into the queue at No.4 Blake Street and ordered a plate of Lamb Belly with pomegranate glaze, charred eggplant, fava bean tofu ($10).

Can you see a trend in the photos I’ve been taking? I was craving some belly in my belly!

The lamb was exquisite. It was soft and succulent, bursting with the smooth, sweet flavour of the lamb infused with herbs.

I was very inspired to try making some slow cooked lamb belly in my slow cooker now.

Taste of Perth 2014

This was another dish from No.4 Blake Street, the Chocolate Garden made with edible soil, macadamia rocks, salted caramel and peanut dacquoise, ($16)

It looked so cute. Lots of people were walking around, eating from their ceramic pots. I didn’t order it, because I didn’t want to eat dessert yet.

But again, I really wanted to try making this at home!

Taste of Perth 2014

I think the most popular stall for the night was Bib & Tucker (I did a review of their restaurant last year). I was itching to try their iconic dish (pictured above) Charcoal Roasted Fremantle Octopus, with Kipfler potatoes, ajo blanco, witlof and roasted almonds ($22).

But the queue was soooo long, and when I came back after 15 minutes, it was still long. So I huffed a bit and attached myself to the end of the line. I counted how many people were in front of me. Answer: 24. I pulled out my phone and after about 2 minutes of finger pecking, I looked up and hey, I was at the front of the line. It all moved along faster than I imagined.

Alas, they had just sold out of the octopus dish… noooooo! I gave the lady my sad face :( If I had tried this on my husband, he would have immediately, somehow, produced the octopus dish. But, in the rough and tumble of the food festival, I was just another hungry foodie… waah!

But she did noticed that I had a camera around my neck, so she let me take a photo of the last roasted octopus dish for the night (pictured above), before it went off to its lucky eater. I guess I’ll have to go back to Bib & Tucker to try the chargrilled octopus.

She also suggested that I could try the trout and I reluctantly agreed, only because I had lined up (for a grand total of 2 minutes), and I was really hungry.

Taste of Perth 2014

This is my Ocean Trout Tartare with harissa aioli, sourdough wafer, and crunchy capers ($12)

It was actually really delicious! The trout was so fresh and soft and juicy. The aioli was wonderfully tangy and smooth. And again I was quite inspired to try cooking this at home. Try, is the key word here.

Taste of Perth 2014

I wandered over to the Greenhouse stall, and made my third order.

Black Valley Beef Cheek with malbec braised beef cheek, bush tomato chutney, and saltbush leaves ($10). It was yummy, but not as soft, juicy or tender as the lamb belly. I was a bit disappointed. I probably should have chosen a dish that was “lighter” and more “salady” after eating the lamb and trout.

Truth is, this was actually a food purchase made based on cost. I had $18 of Crowns left on my card… I chose this Beef Cheek dish only because it was $10, BECAUSE I wanted to save my last $8 for…

Taste of Perth 2014

…this epic Salted Caramel Macaroon with salted caramel filling ($8)!

I walked back to the Bistro Guillaume stall and prayed that they didn’t run out of their dessert. Thankfully they had a lot stocked up! It was sooo large and soooo goood. It was delicious, even though I had to NOT think about all the sugar and butter I was ingesting.

As I walked towards the exit, full of good food, munching on my macaroon, I had a big smile on my face, and I concluded that yes, I had a great and fun time – even though I was by myself.

The food was fantastic! I loved trying the new and modern dishes from local chefs, knowing that I could try out more of their dishes at any time. For me it was a very culinary and artistic appreciation which inspired me to be more experimental with my own cooking.

For the total cost of the experience (it would have been $80), I think it was worth the money. I will definitely come back next year. But I’ll organise to go during the day, try out a cooking masterclass, sample a few more offerings at other stalls, and I’ll go with girlfriends who share my love for good food!

It’s also inspired me to book a table for dinner at some of the restaurants that I haven’t been to. And I suspect that might have been their marketing plan all along :)

If you check out the Taste Festival website, you might find out when the festival is coming to your city.

Enjoy!

xxx


The Mother of All Toilet Predicaments

30 April 2014

Yes I am one of those parents who take their kids out to do the grocery shopping.

I’ve trained them pretty well over the years, especially my 5 year old, Liam. As long as he has a little treat (a cheese bun, for example) and is allowed to sit in the shopping trolley… he doesn’t nag me to buy things, he doesn’t tear open packets or boxes, and he doesn’t cause any fuss at all. Plus he’s patient enough to wait until we have paid for the items before he asks to eat anything.

However there are days where I want to RIP ALL OF MY HAIR OUT AND STAB MYSELF IN THE EYE because I am so frustrated by Liam’s supermarket antics.

And that day was Saturday. It was the mother of all bad days.

We were on a holiday weekend in a small country town. We were staying with friends. I wanted to thank our hosts for letting us stay with them, so I planned to cook them a big delicious meal.

I took my 5 year old to the country supermarket. Of course, it was completely different to our usual supermarket. The aisles were different. The trolleys were different. The checkouts were different. It didn’t phase me at all, but my 5 year old was very disorientated. It was as if I had taken him to a new fun park. He completely forgot how he was supposed to “Behave In Supermarkets”.

The first problem. There were no trolleys for him to sit in! I had to use a basket. So while I was stacking items into my basket, he was roaming wild and free like a bored and hungry shark.

Second problem. He started to sample things. He opened a packet of fruit cake to nibble on the pastry, he peeled back the cling wrap and licked a watermelon, he played slamming games with the freezer doors, he rearranged the honey jars but they fell to the ground (they were plastic)… oooh it was so annoying! I was constantly growling at him and pulling him away from the shelves.

Eventually I finished selecting my items and I walked to the checkouts to pay. Being the holiday weekend, the shop was really, really busy. The queues were soooooo loooong and we had to stand and wait. I stood at the end of the line with SEVEN people in front of me. Grrr.

After what felt like an eternity, it was FINALLY my turn… I loaded ALL my shopping items onto the checkout belt, then my 5 year old shouted, “Mum, I have to go to the toilet!”

“Aww, babe, are you sure? Can you hold on for 5 minutes?”

“No mum I have to go RIGHT NOW!” He jumped about with his legs twisted in a knot.

Argh. DAMN! Ok. This is all part of being a parent right? I had waited close to 15 minutes in the queue, and now I had to put ALL my items back into my basket, and start again. The queue had built up behind me, and was now seven people deep again. They all looked at me with shock. They were all openly sorry for me. One young guy directly behind me, who was maybe nineteen and probably had NO experience with kids, was utterly gobsmacked, going, “WHOA! How shit is that? Kids suck big time hey? Poor you!” I just shrugged at him, but inside I wanted to explain to him (ie. SCREAM IN HIS FACE) that in these circumstances, the appropriate response is to shut the f*$# up, and not draw more attention to the embarrassment and pain of the parent of the kid thank you very much.

The checkout person quickly explained to me where the toilets were. Thank you!

I raced to the toilets with my child, who was hopping along holding his crotch like a Michael Jackson impersonator. There were only two unisex toilets and both were locked. So I had to race back to the cashier counter to get the toilet key, only to be told that the toilets didn’t need a key! So we ran BACK to the toilets with one of the staff, to find that the toilets were not locked, just occupied, and we just had to wait.

We also found that while I was trying to get the non-existent key, a queue had formed for the toilets. But after seeing my 5 year old’s Oscar-worthy performance of wee-holding, everyone in the queue decided that they could “hold on a little bit” and let us jump to the front of the queue. Thank you! They all thought Liam was very cute, and commented on his unusual red hair. Usually, when people comment on Liam’s hair, he grins like an attention hungry celebrity, but his time, he ignored everyone. That is when I realised he was REALLY in need of a toilet.

FINALLY when one toilet was free, my kid and I dashed in, I tore off his pants and threw him on the toilet. Then to my surprise, I discovered that not only did he need to do a wee, he also had to do a NUMBER TWO! Number One and Number Twos came out at the same time, closely followed by Numbers Three and Four and Five, all with slightly different sound effects, which must have been audible from outside.

Thankfully he didn’t explode all over his underwear and shorts!! My mind flashed back to the days of having a new born. Exploding dihorrea, leaking nappies, soiled clothing, watery poo all over the baby’s clothes, pram and ME! So I was able to console myself at that moment – things were not that bad. I began to relax.

I looked around the toilet room. It was a huge, empty, white room with a single toilet, a sink, and a toilet paper dispenser, but… there was NO TOILET PAPER! ARGH!

I peeked my head out of the toilet… and asked the sympathetic queue waiters (about 6 of them)… Did anyone have tissues in their handbags?

Nope, no luck. So I quickly asked the lady who was first in the queue to watch my kid on the toilet while I ran to the service counter to get some toilet paper. I left the door wide open! Poor Liam. He was in this huge, empty room, sitting on an unflushed toilet, with no pants, with 6 people looking at him.

While I was sprinting to the counter, I COULDN’T BELIEVE that I had just left my child, alone, on a toilet, with no pants, in a care of a total stranger!! I was wondering what was the chance of someone kidnapping a pooing, red-haired child? What if he started to scream? His cries would echo in that big empty room and reverberate through the whole shopping centre! What if he panicked and fell INTO the toilet and… oh god I just couldn’t think.

I reached the service counter, and I half screamed and half spluttered “TOILET PAPER!!!?!?”  The man at the counter smiled and pointed me to “Aisle 11″.

NO NO! I had to explain my whole story to the staff member. Which went a bit like… MY CHILD! ON THE TOILET! THE SHOP TOILET! THERE IS NO TOILET PAPER! HELP! With big, simple, sign language, hand actions that communicated the sheer gravity of it all.

He slowly pulled out a roll of paper from under the counter, giving me a lazy smile, and passed it to me slowly and ceremoniously like it was the freaking Olympic torch. I snatched it and ran, calling out behind me THANK YOU!! Perhaps that was a tiny bit rude of me.

I arrived back at the toilet. Phew. Liam was still there, and he seemed to have been happily and un-embarrassed-ly chatting with the nice lady who was watching him. Thank You!

Liam cleaned his bottom. I flushed the toilet. We washed our hands. And we got a cheer from the waiting toilet queue. I smiled weakly.

And so we recovered our basket of groceries, and got in the queue for the checkout.

Liam seemed completely unaffected, and nagged me to buy him chocolates that the supermarkets purposely put at child-eye-height in the checkout entrance, so kids will nag their parents to buy them chocolates. I was so shattered that I gave in. By the time we got to paying, the checkout person didn’t give any indication that she had ever seen me before. Perhaps they witness this kind of drama everyday, like doctors, nurses and police officers. No big deal. Life had already moved on, even while my heart rate was still pounding.

And then we went home to cook dinner in someone else’s kitchen.

Note to self: I must remember to carry tissue paper in my bag!


Why is the sky blue?

23 April 2014

Blue Sky

My 9 year old son and I were running through the park. I was helping him train towards running his first 5kms, and he was doing quite well so far.

The weather was amazing. The air was crisp and cool. The sky was bright and blue. There was not a cloud in the sky.

All was going fine until we took a 20 second break.

Between puffs, my son asked me, “Mum, why is the sky BLUE? If the earth is in space, and space is black, shouldn’t the sky look BLACK?”

I rolled my eyes. Is this kid for real? Deep, complicated questions while we are sweating?

I rustled through a rolodex of “Quick Answers” in my brain… but nope, I found nothing.

I had no idea WHY the sky was blue.

His question was a good one. Why isn’t the sky a depressingly black colour?

I blurted, “I dunno, let’s look it up when we get home.” And sprinted off the last 2kms.

So here it is, after an hour or so on the Internet… the answer (as I understand it) to the very good question:  “Why is the sky BLUE, not black?”

The earth’s atmosphere is made up of zillions of tiny molecules, mainly nitrogen and oxygen. These have no colour of their own. But when sunlight goes through the atmosphere, the oxygen and nitrogen molecules get very excited (lucky them!),which makes them turn into a kind of one-molecule antenna that radiates and scatters the sunlight in all different directions.  But sunlight looks white, and so the sky should look white, right? And that would just be too plain!

But NO. White sunlight is actually a combination of all the colours of the rainbow. If you look at the colours of the rainbow on a spectrum, red light has a slow frequency, green has a fast frequency and blue and violet have very fast frequencies. ALL the colours of the rainbow are scattered by the atmospheric molecules. But the size of the molecules produces an antenna that is BETTER at scattering high frequency colours – blue and purple light – not red, yellow or green light.

Therefore the sky should actually look blueish purple! Now, that would be quite garish and trippy if you ask me.

BUT (and this is my favorite bit) because human eyes are more sensitive and receptive to blue light (our eye receptors are made up of red cones, green cones and blue cones)… the sky LOOKS BLUE TO US , but not necessarily to other animals.

And THAT is why the sky is blue, not black, or white, or a funky rainbow, or disco lurid purple.

I really liked that answer. It was simple and elegant… much like most of the mysteries of life.

My son was rather unimpressed. He wanted an answer involving aliens and laser beams.

But I was actually pretty impressed.

The sky looks so beautifully and cheerfully blue because, after however many millions of years of evolution… that’s how we like to see it.

Beauty IS in the eye of the beholder.


Liam Turns 5!

15 April 2014

My little chicken turned 5 years old and we had a kind of mini festival for him – celebrating his birthday over a few weeks, with lots of different groups of family and friends.

Liam Turns 5

For all his best friends from school, we threw him a huge party in our backyard.

We put up a bouncy castle, we had snacks and lots of play time. My older boys organised and lead some simple games for the kids, like relays, egg and spoon races, “What’s the Time Mr Wolf” chasey games. I was so proud of them, it was a fun party!

I made a two tiered cake, which Liam requested to be in the theme of Disney’s Lightning McQueen. I totally stole the idea and design off the internet, so I get no points for originality!

Liam Turns 5

I made two chocolate cakes. The bottom tier was 18cms in diameter and the top tier was 10cms.

(Unfortunately – as I found out at the end – the cake recipe I used was much too dry, stogey and it just didn’t taste very nice. Boo! So I have to find myself a new chocolate cake recipe for next time, and make sure I do a bit more testing.)

Liam Turns 5

I bought some white fondant, which I dyed, rolled out and moulded to make a desert & sky scenery for the base.

The fondant was too soft for my liking. It kept sagging and my moulded figures wouldn’t hold their shape. I had to constantly keep moving the cake in and out of the fridge to keep the fondant in place. I have to find a good quality fondant next time. From a proper cake shop! And stop buying supermarket brands!

Liam Turns 5

I made a checkered flag design for the top tier. I made some stars from yellow fondant. I printed out a Disney Cars logo and super imposed my son’s name in the middle. I decorated the cake with Cars characters which made the whole cake looks so lively and happy.

The result was awesome! I was really happy with the end result and Liam just LOVED the cake!

Happy Birthday Liam, we loved making a fuss of you!


The Joy of Rainfall Showers

10 April 2014

Earlier this month, my sister got married at a fancy shmansy hotel in Perth.

Because I was a bridesmaid, and because I was going to be out and about doing wedding things from 6am to 11pm, I knew I needed a place to crash during the day – thus I booked a room at the hotel.

It was an excellent decision. The wedding reception dinner ended late. It was too late for my youngest boy, so my husband took him home early (hello 9pm bedtime!), leaving my older two boys to stay overnight at the hotel with me.

Crown Hotel, Perth

This is us at 11pm, after a looong day. We were at the lift lobby about to head to our hotel room.

The room was lovely, modern and super stylish. It was a bit of a splurge, but the extra money spent was lost on me. You see, I’m a bit indifferent to all the over-the-top poshness. I am not too fussed about fancy accommodation. I’m happy, as long as my room is clean, comfortable, quiet and it has the hotel basics.

But my boys? My goodness. They were sooooooo excited.

Their eyes were popping out of their heads! They couldn’t BELIEVE how new, shiny, soft, clean, well designed, stylish, modern and expensive everything was!!!

They were falling over themselves. Oh my gosh, this carpet is so soft! Feel how soft the pillow is! No way! THIS quilt! It is soooo fluffy! This bed! Freaking amazing! Look at me! I feel like I’m being swallowed by a marshmallow! It’s like I’m making snow angels on the mattress! I could die and be happy on this bed! I want to live on this bed! Look at this lamp! No look at this clock! Oh the curtains! They are so thick! Look how smoothly they glide over the tracks! WHOA look at the shower! And the bath!

Oh man, they just went on and on and on like that, non stop, for ages. I thought it was soooooo adorable and hilarious and beautiful and innocent and just an example of how children enjoy such simple things with such pure joy.

I stood back with a huge smile on my face. I remember being 8 years old and completely astonished by the insides of a hotel room. As an adult, of course, the novelty of it is considerably less. But as a mother, my joy was in the happiness and contentment I felt knowing that my children were experiencing such a thing for the first time ever.

Crown Hotel, Perth

The next morning, I ordered our breakfast to come up to the room. Just as an extra treat :)

It was 7am, and again my boys were failing over themselves with excitement. WHOA! Room service! Just like in the movies! OMG this french toast is so fluffy! The maple syrup is so good! This is the best poached egg I’ve ever eaten! Wow taste this danish pastry! I’m going to cry! This croissant is still hot! Oh yum this bacon is so so soooo goood muuum!

Crown Hotel, Perth

Then we went downstairs to check out the pool, hot spas and water slides. We found lounge chairs, poolside cocktails, and a pool table. The weather was just amazing.

After that, we went back to our rooms, so the boys could have a shower. They sat under the rainfall shower head, completely blissed out. Then they moved on to the bath (I just ¼ filled it because I felt terrible to waste so much water!), and covered themselves with water and bubbles and splashed around with glee, like seals.

I was in a very playful mood, and I kept interrupting their merriment.

I casually reminded them that they had once told me their ULTIMATE holiday was camping in the wilderness, with bush walking, a bonfire,  no tv, no electricty, no water supply and where we had to dig our own toilet in the ground!

I teased them and said, “So which kind of holiday would you prefer NOW???”

They sat back in the bath, with a crown of soap suds placed deliberately on their heads and under their noses like moustaches, and they were thoughtful for a few moments.

After a few minutes, they both agreed that a camping trip is still their most ideal holiday, but a 5 star hotel is nice… once in a while.

And with that they wrapped themselves up in the big, oh-so-fluffy, white robes, with white slippers on their feet and spun around on the swivel chairs till they fell off laughing.

I love my boys and I love their happiness.


Beauty Review: My SK-II Skin Challenge

26 March 2014

At the start of this year, I was invited by SK-II to embark on a SK-II Skin Challenge… which is really a fancy way of saying “I used their products exclusively for 3 months” :)

So this is how I did just that…

Beauty Review: My SK-II Skin Challenge

1) Everyday after I cleanse my face, I wipe a little bit of Facial Treatment Clear Lotion all over my face, which cleans and smoothens.

I actually had no idea how the lotion works… until I looked it up 20 seconds ago (thank god I have the internet to help me sound brainy!).

The clear lotion contains AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) which exfoliates the skin and in doing so, “erases” fine lines. Making your skin smoother.

2) Then I use the Facial Treatment Essence. This is a cocktail of nutrients for the skin, ensuring that it gets all of the goodness with one application. I find that the essence balances out the skin’s pH, sebum secretions, and moisturises the skin evenly.

I’m a real fan of this essence and I have been using it for years!

While I adore the product and I adore the effect it has on my skin… I honestly think it has the softest whiff of seaweed!

But hey, I’m a woman, I don’t care, it makes my skin glow, so I’m going to keep buying it :)

Beauty Review: My SK-II Skin Challenge

3) Lastly I use the Stempower Cream (a day and night moisturiser), which feels smooth and light on my skin. It has a lovely, light fragrance – not strong nor overbearing.

The results?

Really good! My skin now feels nicely hydrated all the time and my skin tone seems to look clear and even. My cheeks feel a little bit plumper and firmer than before too. I’m pretty happy with the results.

The not so good?

The price. It’s expensive. Not everyone can afford it on a long-term basis!

Conclusion

If I could only buy ONE product, I would choose the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, mainly because I have used it for years and I like the effect it has on my skin.

BUT I would still highly recommend the Stempower Cream to try. And since you can buy the Stempower KIT (which contains the cream, essence and a facial mask)… for the same price as the cream itself, it’s kind of a no brainer – go for the kit and get all three for the price of one. Win!

Check out the SK-II homepage and sign up for their newsletter to get the latest.


This is how we row

21 March 2014

Kayaking at Moore River

I took this photo a few weeks ago. We were camping with friends in Guilderton, next to the Moore River.

We were kayaking, swimming, sand boarding, and building sand castles with friends… all day!

I took Liam out for a paddle and we sang “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” at the top of our lungs, to the other side of the river and back.

I just love this photo. I’m so thankful that I made the effort to reach into my bag to grab my camera and made us pose in the glaring sun.

Liam and I look so happy, so content, so utterly delighted to be alive.

Would you believe that today – 21 March – Liam turns 5 year old?

Happy birthday little buddy! We’ll be celebrating your birthday with a party next week!

(For those who have been following my blog for the last 5 years, join me for a trip down memory lane!)


Netball Diaries

18 March 2014

Netball

Last November (four months ago) I started playing NETBALL for the first time in FOREVER.

I used to play in primary school, and I was pretty good. That is, until everyone else hit puberty first and started to GROW TALLER – then I had no chance. In a matter of months I was dropped from the Division A Team (The cream of the crop! All the cool girls!) and plonked in the Division C Team (with all the book nerds…). Sigh, there went my dreams for a top class netball career. Haha just kidding.

So a couple of months ago a bunch of girlfriends asked me if I’d like to play netball with them. They were all beginner level players and just wanted to get together for fitness and fun. I had just spent nine months of cycling training towards a “Cycling 100km for Charity” event, which, I have to be honest, is a very male dominated sport… so I thought WHY THE HELL NOT, I need some SPORTY GIRL TIME.

So that’s how I found myself standing on a netball court, totally clueless and totally petrified on my first netball game in a gazillion years.

I haven’t mentioned anything about my netball adventures on my blog prior to this, because the only thing I had to say back then was:

“I’m short. I’m crap. I have no ball skills. I don’t know how to play in a team. I can’t remember the rules. My arms are weak. I can’t throw. I have no sense of balance or personal space. I have to play against someone? I’m not very good at being aggressive. I don’t like aggressive players. Why are they standing so close to me? I have to jump and throw at the same time? Oh god the coordination requirements are beyond me! OMG I have to cut my fingernails before I play?!?!”

But you know what? I really enjoyed it. My brain loved it.

Even though I was sooo crap at playing netball…. each week, my brain felt like it was growing bigger. It was making new connections and new pathways. The game was so fast paced that literally every 10 seconds, there was a brand new situation in front of me that I had to solve and make my body respond accordingly. It was SO different to cycling, running, weight training and pump classes. It was awesome.

Now?

It’s four months later and I LOOOOVE my weekly netball games.

It’s such a great workout, such a fun thing to do with my group of girlfriends, and it makes me feel awesome. Yay for team sports.

OH and one week I was actually chosen (by the umpires) as the Best Player on the Court!! I was so so so proud of myself!! I zoomed home and squealed at my husband and kids! They thought I was a bit crazy, but they were happy for me because I was beaming!

I have improved a lot over the months. I’m a bit obsessed about it now. I’ve been watching Olympic netball videos, training videos and reading coaching tips online. I’m very motivated to run more during the week, to work on my core and upper body strength… just so I can play better netball hehe.

I even train in the house at night, standing in front of the TV, by jumping up to see if I can touch the ceiling… and I can now! A bit distracting for hubby though.

So here’s to learning something new, working at it bit by bit and totally smashing it!!

Hope you all have a fantastic week!


Happy 25th Birthday World Wide Web!

13 March 2014

In the late 1960s, the “Internet” – the original and most correct meaning of the term – was already in operation.

It was only in 1989 (yes 25 years ago!) that a computer programmer called Tim Berners-Lee created a way to easily link documents together online… thus creating a web of connecting pages that became the World Wide Web. He was just 36 years old… about my age now.

For a few years, the WWW looked like this…

WWW Turns 25
Obviously,  this was a perfectly acceptable webpage for computer nerds. It was simple and clear, with no distracting colours or pictures!

WWW Turns 25

But then along came Mosaic in 1993. It was not the first web browser, but it was the browser that popularised the world wide web and included features like icons, bookmarks, pictures and a more attractive interface which was easy to use. Non geek/nerdy people started to use it to communicate and access the data on the internet.

I was in high school at that time. I did a subject called Applied Computing and my teacher showed us how to use the “e-mail”.

I was utterly gobsmacked that I could send a letter over the computer!

WWW Turns 25

Then by 1995, the internet went commercial and saw a rise of websites like ebay, Amazon, Geocities… followed by Hotmail and many more companies. Like they say, the rest is history!

I find it amazing that everything emerged and advanced so quickly. And I’m equally astonished by how the WWW had so quickly affected the way we do EVERYTHING.

By 1999, I had developed a friendship with a guy (now my husband) via the internet. This used to seem “weird”, but now, online dating, shopping, social media, news, smart phones, apps, online games… it all seems so completely normal. I literally can’t remember the last time I wrote an actual letter by hand, fold it up, slide it into an envelope and lick the stamp. I am sure my own kids never will.

Arthur C Clarke Interview on ABC

But what is perhaps most amazing to me right now, is that while most of the the world’s population throughout the 1980s and 1990s was completely surprised by the “sudden” arrival of the internet, the famous science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke completely and accurately predicated all of this way back in 1974… check out the video link.

The video is an interview by the Australian Broadcast Corporation (in 1974), where Arthur C. Clarke talks about how computers will change the future for the everyday person. He shows the interviewer, and the interviewer’s son, a humungous computer which fills the whole room.

Basically, he says that in 2001, people will have their own computer in their house, a small compact console, that can talk to other computers. They will be able to get information for their everyday needs like bank statements, theater reservations, and other things people need for living in a complex society. And they will take it for granted as much as we take the telephone.

Can you imagine what was going through the mind of the interviewer – This old guy is batshitcrazy!! What kind of freaky shit is he talking about?!

Mind. Blown.

Here are some other interesting articles for your perusal:

Six Revisions – The History of the Internet in a Nutshell
Wikipedia – History of the Internet
W3 – A Little History of the World Wide Web
Telegraph – How the web was born: WWW Turns 25
Internet Society – A Brief History


My Travel Essentials

11 March 2014

I have some exciting news!

1) My little sister (my ONLY sister) is getting married this weekend and I’ll be one of the bridesmaids!

The wedding will be in Perth, then next week we are going to fly over to Singapore and Malaysia to celebrate with her partner’s family.

2) I’ll be travelling without my husband and kids and I’M A BIT EXCITED! I’ll be able to focus on lots of girly-girly-pretty-pretty wedding things without feeling guilty about ignoring all the man-boys in my life.

But this is all a bit scary for me.

The last time I went away by myself was 3 years ago. I went to a very wintery Denmark for 7 days for a fashion media trip and to attend Copenhagen Fashion Week. I found that packing for such cold weather was quite difficult, especially when trying to fit in all the bulky coats and knits. I had to pack as if I was going on a mission to Mars!

This time around, I’ll be going to a tropical place that I am very familiar with, so packing should be a cinch.

However, the DANGER is that I will be just TOO relaxed about my packing…. And that I won’t have the proper essentials I need for playing the major supporting role in the biggest event of my sister’s life.

So, all my outfits need to be planned (from my bridesmaid’s dress all they way down to what swimsuit I’ll wear at the girl party by the pool), my beauty essentials will need to be packed, shoes, jewellery, cameras, passport… I guess I’ll have to make a packing list.

Travel Essentials

Here are some of my travel essentials… (clockwise from top)

•   Passport, camera, smartphone, watch – of course!
•  Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Perfume – for me to smell nice.
•   L’occitane rose hand cream – for soft hands 24/7.
•   Napoleon Perdis Camera Finish Powder – for keeping my skin matte.
•   Chanel Vitalumiere Makeup with SPF15 – for flawless looking skin.
•   SK-II Stempower Cream – to keep me hydrated and radiant all day.
•   SK-II Skin Signature 3D Redefining Mask – to prep my skin for the big day!
•  Sukin rosehip oil – for sensitive, dry patches on my skin.
•  Chanel Nail lacquer – for manicure touch ups.
•   Bobbi Brown lipstick – for gorgeous colour.
•  Chanel Eyeliner in Noir – for smoky eyes.
•  Clinique Mascara – for thick lashes.
•  Tiffany and Co cosmetics case – to stop things from getting lost in my handbag!

I’m sure I’ll add more to this list… as the days get closer to my departure.

I’m so excited!


Casino Royale

4 March 2014

I have quite a few circles of friends, but I’d say that my biggest group of friends is my “scuba diving group”. Once upon a time we used to go scuba diving together. But now, you’d be hard pressed to find any one of us who has touched a wetsuit in years. We’re too busy with kids, mortgages, life. You know how it goes.

We still see each other often. We go camping together. We have barbecues together. We do outdoorsy things like bush walking, kayaking, boating, watching movies. We’ve created a happy little village for ourselves and our kids. It’s a rare and beautiful thing.

So it makes me beam with delight to see my friends (particularly this group of friends) all dressed up and without kids!

Tuxedos, bow ties, top hats, fedoras, shiny croc-skin pointy shoes!

Strappy silk dresses, flowing gold sequins, long satin gloves, pearls, fur, and diamonds!

My lovely girlfriend, Bec, celebrated her birthday with a Casino Royale theme party. There were card tables and roulette tables, finger food, dancing, entertainment, a DJ and a dance floor.

Casino Royale Theme Party

Now if you ask me honestly, I have to say that I don’t like gambling at all. Especially the whole “losing money” thing.

Plus I don’t like roulette. That spinning wheel? I can’t handle it. It makes me want to barf on the table.

But… I really like card games!

I played all kinds of card games when I was a kid and teenager and I am pretty good at it. Especially bridge, blackjack and poker.

I used to love playing poker. I can’t do a straight poker face to save my life. But, I can pretend to be a “ditzy princess” like a star. I’ll be chatting casually about frivolous topics like high heeled shoes, and then BAM I’ll throw a straight flush right atchya.

Casino Royale Theme Party

Look at me! I match the card table!

Because I can’t stand losing, it means I can’t play at casinos. My card playing skills get thwarted by my psychological inability to throw perfectly good money away. So I don’t take any risks, I am paralysed with anxiety and I play terribly.

But since we were playing with fake money at this party and I was amongst good friends… I enthusiastically DOVE HEAD FIRST into the card playing spirit. I could feel my competitiveness rise and rise.

As my chips multiplied like a single-celled organism, spilling all over the place, enveloping the table, I wanted more, more, MORE!

Deal faster damn it, faster! Quit talking! Stop entertaining us with card games, give me my hand noooow!

Unfortunately I lost all my fake money and I had to drown my sorrows on the dance floor haha.

Casino Royale Theme Party

This is what I wore! The dress code for the event was black tie glamour, not James Bond characters. So I wore my stunning Pia Gladys Perry dress that I reviewed here.

Perhaps because everyone else wore black, red, white, gold and silver gowns… I kind of stood out and I received so many compliments! Which is lovely and all, but I really think it’s a strange Kermit the Frog colour! Thank goodness it looks ok with my skin colour.

Casino Royale Theme Party

My girlfriend also gave me a gift. A souvenir for the night. I was told that my dress had a split that was worthy of a racey, lacey thigh gun holster.

So I walked around all night, with this knobbly thing between my legs and used it to pew pew all the law breakers.

It was such a great night!! :)


My Tips for Youthful Looking Skin

25 February 2014

This new year has got me thinking. I’m in my mid-thirties and I’ve never felt fitter, stronger, healthier and more energetic in my whole life!

I’m very blessed and grateful to have good health so I hope to keep myself at the top of my game as long as I can, being the best me possible.

So one of my goals is to look after my skin.

Here’s how I am doing that!

My Tips for Youthful Looking Skin

1) Sun Protection.

Wear a hat. Cover up!
I’m now a crazy hat person. I own a lot of hats for all kinds of different occasions. From caps for outdoor sports, to a cowboy straw hat for the beach, to a black and white fedora just for making a fashion statement.

Keep out of the sun!
I try to avoid direct sun exposure during the hottest parts of the day (between 10am and 2pm).

Suncream!
I wear suncream every day. I spread it all over my face, ears, neck, chest, shoulders and arms. I usually buy the stuff rated SPF30+ but have started buying the SPF50+ creams too. I am always on the look out for the ones that are “dry touch”… which feel much nicer on the skin.

My Tips for Youthful Looking Skin

2) Eat Healthy

Eat healthy foods.
I usually eat very well, so this is easy for me. I love eating all the super-foods and foods rich in omega fatty acids – such as broccoli, spinach, salmon, berries, eggs, lentils, nuts and seeds.

I stay away from foods that are high in saturated fats, high salt, contains additives and preservatives, deep-fried foods and processed foods.

Limit Sugar.
My weakness is sugar! I’m trying to limit the amount I eat. On average, I eat a small square of chocolate per day and I won’t say no to a small slice of cake.

Drink Healthy.
I don’t like drinking juice or soft drinks. And I don’t drink alcohol. I just drink water, two cups of tea each day and the occasional coffee.

Oh, and of course, I don’t smoke.

My Tips for Youthful Looking Skin

3) Moisturise, moisturise!

I can really feel the change in my skin from when I was 20 something.

I can see fine lines appearing, my cheeks are less firm and perky, and I have definitely noticed a loss of radiance in my skin. I have been using some great moisturising products, applying them day and night.

Ageing IS inevitable, but I am sure not giving up without a fight!

My Tips for Youthful Looking Skin

4) Get more sleep.

I’m a bit of a night owl, and if I was left alone to my own devices, I would revert to my university days and bad habits of sleeping at 1am every night.

But my husband helps me with this. We try to sleep at 10-11pm each night. It makes such a difference to get two hours of extra sleep before midnight!

Meditate. Relax.
While I don’t do any formal meditation, I always try to make 10 minutes during the day where I sit quietly, slow down my thoughts and concentrate on my breathing.

My Tips for Youthful Looking Skin

5) Get Exercise

I believe part of being and looking youthful is to have energy and a happy spark.

For me, daily exercise and being active definitely brings about both these things.

At the moment I run 2–3 times a week, I go to the gym, I go for daily walks, I cycle, I do floor exercises and weights in front of the tv in the evenings and I play netball once a week.

It helps that my husband and kids are very active too. I love it that we spend lots of family time together in the park – but only in the early morning, and very late afternoon, when the sun in not so strong.

Spending time in the park with your family may not actually make my skin better… but it sure makes me happy!


Three Modern Classics

21 February 2014

Black Classics

I want to share three modern classic pieces from my wardrobe, that always make me feel fabulous whenever I wear them.

Versatile for work or play and perfect for mixing and matching, these items are wonderfully timeless… so I definitely classify them as my “wardrobe essentials”.

A black silk shirt
A real investment piece, this Isabel Marant silk shirt (from Forward by Elyse Walker) is heavenly. It is a size FR34 and it fits my arm length, body length, across the bust, neck, shoulders… perfectly! The fabric is luxurious silk, which feels, moves and falls like a delicious cloud. There are no pin-tucks, epaulettes, embroidery, shoulder details or print – it is a simple, clean-cut shirt with minimal design. A classic indeed!

A black leather skirt
This a-line, leather skirt is oh-so cool and understated. It’s soft, supple and has a raw edge along the bottom, which I really like. I bought it several years ago from Urban Outfitters. It used to sit on my waist, but I have since lost a bit of weight and it sits on my hips now. I do prefer it to sit on my waist, so I might find someone to alter it.

Black strappy sandals
These are a pretty good, quality pair of non-leather heels by high-street Korean brand Koo (from YesStyle). They were about $70, which I believe is quite affordable for good quality shoes. I purchased them about 2 years ago and I still happily reach for them whenever I want simple sandals to compliment my outfit. I wear them a lot, they are pretty comfortable and I look after them very well. I guess it proves to me, that I don’t *have* to buy leather everything for an item to last.

Building a wardrobe with key classic pieces is a whole lot of fun, especially when I see the results – that is, the ease in which I can put together a stylish outfit and feel fabulous!

Hope this inspires you too!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


Celebrating… Because We Can

20 February 2014

Chinese New Year 2014

I think I may have had my most meaningful Chinese New Year yet.

10pm and the band was still belting out tunes from the 1950s and 1960s. Couples in their 60s and 70s, in their swishy skirts and crisp tuxedoes, skimmed across the wooden dance floor like happy flamingos. The chatter of 800 people filled the cavernous ballroom like a roaring ocean.

I was standing amongst it all, in this Chinese New Year Ball, looking up at the sparkling tree. I thought that the glowing lanterns looked like Chinese UFOs with alien octopus-tentacles rising up into a star-system worm-hole thing. I wished my kids were here to see it. They would make sound effects for it, invent a story and act it out, and I would laugh with all my heart.

The night before this ball, we had a big Chinese banquet with my entire Mum’s side of the family. Dinner with the Wongs. And it’s always the same. Same Aunty’s house. Same roast duck. Same fried prawns. Same steamed fish. Same table cloth. Same pink rice cooker. Same blue esky for the extra cool drinks. Same faces. Same jokes. Same stories. Same smells. Same sounds.

When I was a kid, and a teenager, I used to get bored with the same-ness. I used to roll my eyes and crave for something new. Something different.

But this year, I liked that the things that were the same. In the way you retrospectively like a banal object after you discover you’ve lost it. The table full of Chinese cookies. The Asian-style hot water dispenser. The plastic tea cups. I poured myself some Chinese tea, moving around my Aunty’s kitchen with ease and familiarity. I used to live in this house when I was a kid. Now look at me. Look how much I’ve grown up. Look at how much my kids have grown. I touched the kitchen bench top and smiled, wishing that things would never change.

Because I know that soon, maybe next year, some things will change. Someone might be gone. Things might be different. We’ll start to have people-shaped holes in our lives. We’ve been on a good run here. 10 years of same-ness. We have been blessed. But things will start to be different soon.

Back at the Chinese New Year Ball, without my kids, the band stopped playing. The MC announced, with a heavy Chinese accent, that a new band was going to come on stage and play “music from the 80s”.  I looked up with delight. While my formative years were in the 1990s, my husband is very much a 1980s kind of guy. This will be fun. I want to dance. It’s been a while since I let loose on a dance floor.

I looked for my husband and saw him afar, talking and laughing to someone. I caught his eye, smiled, then pointed to the dance floor. I wriggled my arms like a twisting chicken, in the universal sign language that said – LET’S DANCE!!

We walked towards each other, eyes locked and grinning, weaving between chairs and people and the ocean of noise. My dear husband. Ten years ago, he had emergency surgery to save his life, and the surgery threatened the mobility of his legs. He could have been in a wheel chair for the rest of his life. Thankfully, both his life and his legs were spared… and now we dance, because we can. That’s our motto.

Chinese New Year 2014

But just before we were about to step onto the dance floor, the new band started to play. Beautiful, soothing and heart-aching music filled the air. But it wasn’t Madonna.

It was in fact “music from the Andes”, not “music from the 80s”.  As in, bamboo pan pipe playing folk music from the Andes mountains, in South America.

We laughed uncontrollably. Holding hands. Holding each other steady, to suppress our laughter. So that others wouldn’t think we were laughing AT the band.

By 11pm, we were done. We drove home, still holding hands, past all the glittery lights of the city and towards our warm bed and a new day of children cuddles, school lunches, bike rides and glorious sameness.


New Beginnings

13 February 2014

Hi everyone. Last week was a huge milestone in my life!

After almost 11 years of being a parent dedicated to the full-time care of my children… my three kids are all now at full-time school. Meaning, I am going to be away from them between 9am to 3pm. Meaning, someone else is looking after my noisy, nagging, fighting, complaining, little darlings for six hours a day, five days a week. Holy crap! It’s been 11 years since I last had an uninterrupted thought.

Yes, yes, I know this is not a new thing to the world. But this is new to my world. To me, this is EPIC.

It marks a whole new chapter of my life. This would be as big an event in my life as when I graduated from high school, got my first job, took my parents to dinner with my first pay cheque, got married, become pregnant, or… bought my first mobile phone :)

So what am I going to do with myself? That’s the question everyone has been asking me.

I’m going to be working from home. I’m going to be a full time blogger, as opposed to a hobby blogger.

Sounds a bit quizzical and vague… so I shall explain. I’ll be running a small business in online publishing (my blog!), being the director, editor, creative director, writer, photographer, advertising and marketing person, fashion reviewer, accountant, researcher, email replier, coffee maker, post office runner…

They are all the things I have done before, but now I’ll have the time and head space to write (and create!) better, and more often.

It’s my dream job! I’m so excited!

Thank you for being on this journey with me.

Here’s to a new beginning!


My Morning Beauty Regime This Summer

11 February 2014

Being a mother of 3 young children, I’m pretty busy from the MOMENT I WAKE UP in the mornings. I’m all GO GO GO!

However I always make it a point to have some kind of morning beauty regime, to put on (at least!) a bit of make-up and to make sure I look presentable.

My beauty regime has changed over the years. When my children were newborns, my method was more “slap and dash”.

But nowadays my children are getting a bit older, they can get dressed on their own and pour their own cereal in the morning, so it gives me 10 extra minutes in the morning to look after my skin.

So my regime has settled into a really nice place – and this summer, it is all about hydration and sun protection.

My Morning Beauty Regime This Summer

When I wake up in the morning, I like to use a very simple and gentle cleanser.

I also like to use organic products where I can, and I really like Sukin Organics.

I have bought and tried a LOT their products (facial scrubs, shampoos, body creams, lotions, oils), mainly because they are so affordable and they smell nice. Mind you, some of the products I don’t like or are just not effective for me.

I use the Sukin Foaming Facial Cleanser, it’s really gentle and doesn’t dry out my skin.

It’s not very effective for a deep cleanse, if you’re trying to wash off a full face of makeup. But if you’re just washing off some tinted moisturiser or you’ve just woken up, this is perfect.

My Morning Beauty Regime This Summer

After cleansing, I use the SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion like a toner.

Then apply a few drops of SK-II Facial Treatment Essence all over my face.

And then I use a bit of SK-II Stempower, which is a moisturising cream. The packaging makes it look like a rich, night cream, but it is actually light, smooth and hydrating without being greasy, and can be used for day and night.

For the last 4 weeks, I have been testing out these 3 products together, using them morning and night. In the past, I have used the Facial Treatment Essence and the Clear Lotion before, but this is the first time I am using all 3 products together.

The results have been… great! I don’t know if the impressive result has been a combination of my new year resolutions to exercise more, drink lots of water and eat healthier… but it seems to be working for me – in a very good way.

My skin feels hydrated, it looks clear, seems to have an even skin tone and texture, and my cheeks feel just that little bit firmer and plumper than before. So much so, I actually feel happy to go out of my house with no foundation or concealer on :)

I do use a bit of tinted moisturiser and powder, which leads me onto the next few products in my regime.

My Morning Beauty Regime This Summer

I use Mecca’s In A Good Light, which is a tinted moisturiser with SPF30+. It has a very light and creamy texture that glides nicely over my skin, and leaves my face feeling well hydrated.

It only comes in ONE colour, which I first thought was very strange. I thought that since Mecca was an Australian brand, it would cater more for Caucasian skin tones? But nope, it looks gorgeous on my olive skin colour. It give me a nice sheer coverage and gives me a kind of fresh, healthy and warm glow.

Then I finish off with a bit of Napoleon Perdis Camera Finish Powder all over my face.

That’s it!

Sweet and simple!


Bounce Inc, Perth

6 February 2014

Bounc Inc, Perth

Bounce Inc. is a brand new trampoline centre in Perth, with over 100 interconnected trampolines, performance mats, padding and giant airbags!

It opened its doors last week and we were invited to check it out. I took my two older boys (aged 8 and 10)… and from the moment they stepped into the arena, they couldn’t contain their excitement. Grins from ear to ear.

The whole place was split into different jumping areas: a jumping arena, performance trampolines, free-style wall, a dodge ball arena and a super trampoline (5m x 5m).

Bounc Inc, Perth

The whole place was soooo cool, it had a real, street-cool, urban-youth kind of vibe. It was like a skate park, with teenagers showing off their stuff and pumping pop music, but it had wall-to-wall trampolines, and it was all indoors with air conditioning.

Each entry is a one hour session, on the hour. They recommend that you book online, so that you don’t miss out. You can turn up without booking, but you’ll have to wait for the next hour session, or the next. Apparently the sessions sell out very quickly too.

The one hour session is unstructured. You just walk around, find a trampoline activity that you like, and join in. There are lots of Bounce Inc helpers, who make sure everyone follows the rules and that the trampolines don’t get overcrowded.

The minimum age allowed to jump is 3 years old. There are special sessions for jumpers aged 3 -5 years. But other than that, ANYONE can jump. Even adults!

Bounc Inc, Perth

Entry fee is $19 for one hour, it includes these special grip socks, which are required.

However, you can reuse them for subsequent visits and then you only have to pay $17 for your entry fee.

Bounc Inc, Perth

This is my son doing a somersault in the air and landing in the giant airbag. He enjoyed this activity the most!

In fact, I may have discovered his new talent, because he was full of confidence, he looked like he was “in” his element… and he looked like he was made for jumping.

My other son enjoyed the “The Wall” where jumpers get to play with gravity with vertical tricks and wall climbing (very skate park).

My kids rated it 9.5 out of 10. That is higher than they rated Universal Studios or Legoland!

They had SO MUCH FUN!

What I liked best was that it was an ACTIVE activity that was well-suited to the 8 – 18 age group. It’s pretty hard to find activities for pre-teens, that is good, clean, healthy fun these days, and also indoors/air-conditioned. So I’m very happy.

While I probably wouldn’t visit every weekend (I have 3 boys, so it’ll be a bit expensive for me), I will definitely bring them back every school holiday!

Bounce Inc.
1371 Albany Highway,
Cannington, WA 6107
(Next to Officeworks, opposite Westfield Carousel)

Opening Hours:
Mon – Thurs: 10am – 9pm
Fri: 9am – 11pm
Sat: 9am – 11pm
Sun: 9am – 9pm

You can find out more information on the Bounce Inc. Website.


The Kangaroo Selfie

30 January 2014

When I was 8, our family went to a wildlife park to see and pat some Australian animals. Koalas, kangaroos, snakes. Apparently, I was SO TERRIFIED of the kangaroo that my parents had to drag me close to the kangaroo, holding me in their arms, forcing my arms to be outstretched and they made me touch it.

And of course, the story became part of my family’s folklore and I was forever teased by it – “Haha remember the time when Karen didn’t want to touch the kangaroo?! She’s such a wimp!!!”

Kangaroos at Caversham

So here I am, many years later, as a parent myself. I took my 3 children out to visit Caversham Wildlife Park, which is a must if you’re a visiting Perth.

It’s a large park full of Australian animals, offering visitors a hands on experience. You can pat kangaroos, take photos with a wombat, hold a snake, pat a lizard, milk a cow, feed a goat and much more.

Standing in the middle of the kangaroo enclosure, I didn’t have a nervous breakdown or anything. Quite the opposite.

I was surrounded by 20 or so tame kangaroos, patting them, hand feeding them and mezmerised by how graceful, beautiful, sleek and lean they were!

Kangaroo Selfie at Caversham

And of course, taking selfies with them.

You know what?

I realised that I’ve never really seen a kangaroo up close before. Our national animal. Their doey eyes, glossy fur, alert ears, twitchy noses. The funny way they bounce around, not walk. They are such beautiful creatures.

I LOVED the experience!

I guess I am cured of my fear of marsupial.


The SK-II Skin Analysis Where I Meet Ironman

15 January 2014

I’m already a die-hard fan and regular user of SK-II products, so I’m super pleased to be working with SK-II over the next few months.

I’ll be trialing a few of their products that are new (to me) and letting you know how I go.

But first, I booked myself in to have my skin analysed by the SK-II team, using their Magic Ring Skin Analysis Test Machine, which is available at SK-II counters.

(Now I don’t know about you, but a “Magic Ring Test” sounded pretty daunting and epic to me – like a scene from a Lord of the Rings movie perhaps?)

Actually the Magic Ring test is a machine that takes a high resolution photograph of your skin and then uses some whizz-bang SK-II software analysis thingy to tell you how you rate in certain areas – such as, texture, firmness, wrinkles, radiance and spots.

So I have to admit that I was pretty terrified of finding out about my skin, because I know the results would be baaaad. I had awful, AWFUL acne when I was a teenager, I now get dry patches here and oily patches there, and I probably don’t drink as much water as I should.

But my biggest skin failing… is that I cycle, run and generally spend a lot of time outdoors. And I always have, really. It is probably one of the downsides to living in Australia…. unlimited opportunity to get out in the big outdoors, and soak up all that UV light that does the damage. Well, even though I always use suncream and wear a hat… I know I won’t rate very highly against my Asian sisters who say, work indoors from 9-5pm. SIGH!

So when I saw the machine, I wasn’t terrified anymore. In fact, I couldn’t stop giggling, because when I saw it sitting on the counter…

SK-II Magic Ring Test

I immediately though of this…

SK-II Magic Ring Test

YOU would think of this too if you had young boys! You’d know ALL the super heroes!

What do you think? Possibly my new mascot for firmer and more radiant skin?

SK-II Magic Ring Test

So here I am, having my skin photographed, by putting half my face inside the mask thing. Look at the blue glowing light! So Ironman right??

I was supposed to relax my face and stay still, but the SK-II beauty consultant kept telling me, “No smiling please. No laughing either.”

SK-II Magic Ring Test

Once my photograph was processed, I gasped… because my skin on the screen actually didn’t look that horrific. Not bad for a 30 something, right?

SK-II Magic Ring Test

We delved deeper into the analysis and this photo showed my pigmentations and discolourations. Eeeep!

The machine considered my age, my environment, my ethnicity, whether I was wearing makeup that day, and gave me a kind of skin rating.

Turns out I scored quite low (in a bad way) for firmness, wrinkles, radiance, and spots. For texture I rated average for my age. And overall, I had the skin of a 37 year old. So two years older than my current age. Bleh. Like I said, I wasn’t expecting GOOD results.

But to actually see the result, and the underlying problems, made me determined to see how I can improve my skin care regime.

Of course, I’ll be doing more to keep my skin out of the sun.

Or perhaps I should just wear an Ironman mask everywhere I go? :)


Set The Pudding On Fire

26 December 2013

Our both-sides-of-the-family Christmas Eve dinner was a huge success! We didn’t focus on EXCESS and ABUNDANCE, which is very easy to do during this time of year. We also didn’t over eat and go overboard with food, which was another success for us.

Christmas Eve Dinner 2013

So instead of a large multicultural buffet of Christmas turkey, lamb chops, prawn cocktails and chicken curry (which is what my side of the family have every year), we decided to have a more restrained, modest, formal, sit down dinner with entree, traditional mains and dessert courses, which is what my husband’s side of the family have traditionally had.

Christmas Eve Dinner 2013

We created this fruit entree based on my husband’s very foggy memory of a dessert his own late mother made 20 years ago.

They looked quite cute! We didn’t have enough glass entree bowls so unfortunately they looked a bit like cocktails.

Christmas Eve Dinner 2013

My husband INSISTED that the melon balls of his memory were a *certain size*… and he was not happy with the *large size* of my melon balls. He popped over to his dad’s house and found his mother’s 30 year old double ended melon baller! Two sizes! What do you know, he was right after all. I thought he was going mad!

Christmas Eve Dinner 2013

For dessert, my 10 year old (and my 81 yr old father in law) made a Christmas fruit cake… and my 4 year old decorated it with plastic holly and Lego. It was insanely cute, but Santa looked a bit creepy in my opinion.

Christmas Eve Dinner 2013

For dessert part two, my 8 year old and my father in law made the Christmas pudding. It was made using real suet and took 8 hours to steam!

We ceremoniously lit up a large spoon full of brandy and poured it over the pudding, watching the blue flames dance over the top and fall down the sides. This tradition is something my husband’s family has done for the past 50 or so years. But my mum, dad, aunties and uncles had never seen it before, so it was really nice to share it with them.

Christmas Eve Dinner 2013

This is my father in law and I, laughing with delight as the children watched the burning pudding with wide eye wonder.

It was a really lovely evening, made of genuinely happy memories of Christmas, family, laughter and all that good stuff!


Christmas Culture Surprise

24 December 2013

Christmas Surprise

So what is this?

It is the mould/yeast thingy that I found growing on the top of my yoghurt about an hour ago. Very beautiful… and totally unwelcome! I found it while I was playing Tetris with all the stuff in my fridge.

ARRGh!

I am… right now, rushing around preparing a formal, sit down Christmas Eve meal for 30 members of BOTH sides of my family, and to make it more interesting, it will be traditional to my husband’s side. So, here is our traditional Scottish / English menu.

Melon balls in pineapple juice appetizer – this is being made from the collective memory in my hubby’s family. It was a favorite of his late mother, but it hasn’t been made in like 20 years, and nobody has the actual recipe… so we are sort of making it up as we go!

Then:

Turkey, ham, roasted potatoes, broccoli, carrots, brussels sprouts, bread sauce, cranberry sauce.

And THEN…

Christmas steamed fruit pudding, made real old school by my 82 year old father in law. It will be set on fire with brandy, and then drizzled with yellow custard sauce.

And FINALLY…. assorted chocolate indulgences, from er, the shops.

I’ve never done all this before, and certainly not for 30 people… but I am sure it will all be okay.

I’ll show the pics later!

So, now off to the shops for new yoghurt… and a million other things!!!

Zooom!!


Ants That Ate My Christmas Tree

10 December 2013

One afternoon, while my children were at school, I thought I’d surprise them by setting up the Christmas tree (just the tree) so that when they arrived home, I would shrill something like “IIIIIII-IT’S CHRISTMAS TREE TIIIIIIME!”… then we would all start decorating the tree straight away. Ho ho ho, it would be so much fun.

Christmas Ants

So I went into my shed and dragged out the Christmas tree box. But something was wrong.

The box was rotten, damp, eaten away and moldy – I was NOT HAPPY.

I’ve had this Christmas Tree for 11 years! It was the tree I had bought when my husband and I got married and shared our first Christmas together.

I’ve kept it in pristine condition, in its original box, with all the small parts in a zip lock bag… and to see it eaten away like this made me really emotional.

Christmas Ants

Then I flipped the lid open and — OH MY GOD!

The box was CRAWLING WITH ANTS! I thought maybe a rat crawled into the box and died inside, so the ants were feasting on the dead rat?

Or someone left a Christmas cookie stuck to the tree (from last Christmas)?

Nope. There were no reason for the ants to be there, except that the Christmas tree box was cool, dry and dark. It was ant heaven!

Upon further inspection, I found this…

Christmas Tree 2013

AIIIIEEEEEE!

I was so disgusted and flabbergasted, but I was also intrigued. I had never seen ant eggs before.They looked like little grains of rice, or little white jelly beans. They were so gross, but so cute.

OK so what do I do now?

I was tempted to just THROW THE WHOLE TREE INTO THE BIN and then go out to the shops to buy another one. No one would notice except me.

But I was struck by my sensible, sentimental reasoning, and the fact that I don’t really like to waste things.

So I carefully set up the tree on the lawn.

It was swarming with ants and it was covered in the tiny white ant eggs.

Ironically, from afar, the tree looked as if it was covered in a light dusting of white snow that gently sprinkled onto the ground every time I knocked it slightly. How lovely.

I turned on the hose and I blasted the tree with water. I washed all the ants and eggs off the tree and I decided to let nature sort them out.

I even used a bit of pine scented soap (oh the irony!) and after that… the tree was good as new!

Here’s to another year of Christmas!

xxx


Change My Race

5 December 2013

What?

REALLY?

Uh…I don’t think so, ACTUALLY.

A few nights ago, a TV station in Australia (where I live) showed a documentary that explored the idea that young Asian Australian women feel pressure to undergo facial surgery, in order to “change their race” – to take on “white” characteristics to appear beautiful.

Since I am interested in beauty and fashion and am both ethnically and culturally Asian, I was obviously interested. I was especially interested since the show was hosted by a very attractive Australian Asian woman about my own age – Anna Choy (below), who is a well known TV personality, and who, in my opinion looks simply beautiful.

Change My Race

But to be honest, I couldn’t accept what the show was saying about Asian Australian women in Australia.

I felt that the documentary was misleading viewers to think that ALL Australian Asian women feel the pressure to look “white”. It implied that ALL of us feel out of place, that we all feel that we don’t belong, and deep down we actually want to change how we look to fit in. The show made Australia seem like a scary, unwelcoming place for Asians.

An Asian Australian girlfriend of mine also watched the documentary, was concerned about it, and said so on social media. Realising that others have also been concerned is what moved me to write about this show.

Let me state this clearly – I’ve have lived in Australia for 30 years, and I have never, ever been racial abused, verbally or physically. I’ve also never thought that I needed to look “white” in order to fit in, or be accepted. I went to school, university, got a job, volunteered, am part of several different communities, and have friends of all shapes, sizes and colours. I was ONCE teased about my flat Asian nose by my white boyfriend, and he married me!

Sure, I live in Australia, where the commercial media very strongly projects images of the supposedly ideal Australian girl – rich, white, tall, thin, blonde and tanned – just like in America. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, about 12% of Australian are of some kind of Asian ethnic background. These figures are not very definite though, because in Australia, the government does not record any information about an individual’s race, which I think is really nice – race is OFFICIALLY not important.

With over 80% of people in Australia being white(ish), of course advertising is going to try and reach them with images of beautiful white people. These images are everywhere, on billboard posters, magazines, TV commercials, fashion catwalks, websites and they DO create a feeling of “that’s what you should look like”.

But this is not a RACIAL issue. This stereotype, which is pushed on us by the media, affects ALL women, Asian or not. The fantasy women portrayed in these images are a zillion miles from any human being I have ever met. Almost EVERY woman is going to have some big or small insecurity about their looks, their body shape, parts of their body. Everyone is going to wish for something they don’t have. It’s a HUMAN issue.

Having an Asian face in a mostly white society does create some amusing and interesting experiences, I admit. Because my kids look more white than Asian, I have twice been thought to be the nanny of my kids, not their mother. Both times, this mistake was made by older white people who had come to Australia from countries where inter-racial marriages are very rare. Man, they were so embarrassed when they realised their mistake. Very awkward. And twice, I have been mistaken for a prostitute when in the company of my older, white husband… both times, while on holiday in Asia, once by an Asian man, and once by a white tourist. Very funny when we showed them our matching wedding rings (though it has caused me to wonder if I should dress differently when in Asia).

As part of the TV show, Anna Choy also took the viewers of the show to the streets of South Korea, which now has the world’s highest per capita rate of cosmetic plastic surgery. She introduced us to the world of nose jobs, double eyelid surgery, and dangerous jaw reconstruction in order to get the “V line” babydoll face shape. She showed us a subway station full of billboards with shocking before and after surgery photos, with the promise of success, love and a happier life.

Change My Race

Like a lot of people, I feel bad that any woman would risk their health, and their unique appearance, to look like some media generated “ideal”. But I just don’t think it is very fair, or useful, to compare a multicultural society like Australia with various Asian countries. Asia is a very big, diverse place, with very different countries, each with their own different beauty ideals and trends, unique to their society, with different levels of influence from Western culture. So I don’t judge these Korean women, since I can’t possibly understand the forces that motivate them.

My conclusion is that TV shows like this are carefully designed to shock, stir people up and to create a conversation. And I guess it worked! Here I am, stirred up and being part of that conversation. But I regret that the TV show was so alarmist in tone.

I consider myself very lucky to be a HUMAN BEING living in Australia, and having an Asian face just makes it even more interesting for me, and everyone one I meet. Just think… only 12% of Australians have an Asian face. I’m THAT special!

Women, please love yourself, love your uniqueness, love being who you are! And remember, the most important part of your beauty regime is to keep a smile on your face, what ever your race.


Peek-A-Boo Pants

24 November 2013

Hey guys, what did you get up to on the weekend?

We did some pruning in the garden… see?

Ripped Jeans

I was completely unaware of my “wardrobe malfunction” because I was happily cutting back my fig tree.

My husband sneakily snapped this photo and said that I looked like a baboon on heat.

Eh?

Everyone in my family had a good laugh… and dared me to post the photo on my blog.

So here we are. That’s right people!

High brow or low brow. I’m up for any fashion related story!

So. If you look very carefully, you might notice that I’m wearing Nobody jeans – oohlala!

I bought them 7-8 years ago at a clearance sale, they were priced around $239, but I got them for $70. I never buy my “expensive” jeans at full price. I always get them from clearance sales!

I don’t know about you, but when my favourite jeans start to wear out and holes appear… I’m never sure on WHAT TO DO with them.

If the hole is at the knee, should I wear them as ripped jeans for a while? Or should I cut them at the thigh and make cut-off shorts? But when the hole is at the crotch or on my bottom… should I patch them up? Or should I really just throw them out?

Sigh, I never know what to do… so I just wear them when while I’m doing the gardening!


Nothing Gets Me Going Like…

20 November 2013

Liam had his very first Disco Event. It was held after school, in the primary school hall, and it went from 4-6pm.

For weeks, he was so excited!

However, because the kid was only 4 years old, he didn’t know what a DISCO was.

Never fear my son! Mummy shall teach you all the truly important DISCO DANCE MOVES!

We practiced the classics – The Saturday Night Fever hustle! The funky chicken dance! The bus stop! The moonwalk! The twist! The swim! The mash potato! The robot!

And my personal favourite – because I am a child of the 80s and 90s – The Running Man. Oh yeah baby!

(Come on, tell me you don’t want to stand up right now and try it out, just for old time’s sake?)

Liam's Disco 2013

Anyway, when the big night of the disco finally arrived… we stepped into the big hall and he saw the kids running wild and jumping around to the loud music… he simply said, “This isn’t a disco. This sucks!”

He was so unhappy and grouchy.

He spent a whole hour clinging to my leg, drawing circles on my skirt, growling and demanding that we go home.

Liam's Disco 2013

Bah, all the other kids were having a fabulous time.

The TRAIN!

The Wriggly Jellyfish Dance!

Oooh I so wanted to get down there on the floor and boogie with them.

Liam's Disco 2013

Eventually, Liam cheered up.

Gangnam Style came on, and he dashed to the middle and did his thing.

Meh. I don’t know if Gangnam Style constitutes as a “truly important” disco dance move :P

Do you remember The Running Man?

What about the MC Hammer move? The Worm? The Macarena? The Locomotion? Bananarama Venus?

What’s YOUR best move? What’s YOUR legendary disco dance? I’m having a discussion over at my Facebook Page, join me over there!


Costarella + Frock Stars Exhibition at the WA Museum

15 November 2013

I was invited to the launch of TWO new exhibitions at the WA Museum.

1. Aurelio Costarella: A 30 Year Retrospective

2. Frock Stars: inside Australian Fashion Week

The launch event was -of course- glamorous and stylish… with a few heartfelt and tender moments during the speeches. I had a tear in my eye, which almost ruined my mascara, but thankfully I managed to dab it away delicately with my used finger-food tissue, in true fashionista style :P

Costarella + Frockstars

As the guests gathered in the beautiful Hackett Hall (pictured) I was led downstairs to have a crowd-free preview of the exhibition!

This worked out really well for me, particularly after my last disastrous visit to the museum, where um, I brought all of my 3 children to look at Egyptian mummies and one of my sons got his head stuck in a hole in a wall!

So, this evening I was thrilled to get to see everything up close, at my own pace, and have time to take nice photos.

Costarella + Frockstars

1. Aurelio Costarella: A 30 Year Retrospective

Aurelio Costarella is one of WA’s most successful fashion designers… and this exhibition celebrates the last 30 years of his career.

It is a fantastic way to see how Costarella started, how his style evolved over the years, and to see some of his intricate works up close.

If you’ve heard of Costarella, and seen his dresses in magazines or on TV, but have NEVER seen his clothes up close… you should definitely make a trip to the museum to see this exhibition.

Costarella + Frockstars

Mannequins are displayed throughout the museum’s permanent galleries – right next to the dinosaur bones, the stuffed bears, tigers and hanging with the stuffed pelicans!

My children come to the museum very often, and I’m sure they would be shocked and bemused to see “fashion” mixed up with the T-Rex bones.

Costarella + Frockstars

It was delightful and enchanting to see the garments presented in this museum format.

The exhibition is free, and the garments are spread out over 3 levels in the museum. Just grab a map and enjoy the journey through time!

(Oh and I recommend you DON’T try to see the exhibition with 3 young children!!)

The exhibition runs from 2 Nov 2013 – 2 Feb 2014

2. FROCK STARS: inside Australian Fashion Week

Created by the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, this exhibition presents a behind-the-scene look at Australian Fashion Week.

You get to learn about the history of AFW, how it actually works, who runs it, its organisational structure, the highlights and achievements.

You also get to discover some tasty bits of gossip and controversy about models, editors, designers and their shows. Of course, what is fashion week without the GOSSIP AND CONTROVERSY!

Costarella + Frockstars

There’s a display of garments (and fashion shows) that have made a significant impression on AFW.

You can also get to see what it is like to “sit front row” and listen to interviews with designers and industry insiders.

Costarella + Frockstars

There are a few interactive parts to the exhibition. There is a recreation of Nicola Finetti’s design studio, where you are invited to explore the space, and see how he develops a collection from design to manufacture.

OK it all looks a bit TOO neat and tidy at the moment. From what I know about designer’s studios, I believe they tend to be a little messier and chaotic.

I’m sure once they let a bunch of 8 year old school girls loose in here, those fabrics will be tossed all over the floor and spread out on that table in no time.

Costarella + Frockstars

Lastly there was this great “Workroom” where you get to choose a paper doll (male or female), grab some clothing templates, take two paper fabric swatches… and you can create your very own garment for a mini paper catwalk!

What an cool idea!

Costarella + Frockstars

I got a bit excited.

I wanted to pull up a chair and start snipping away at a few swatches. I didn’t care about the launch party upstairs, I wanted to do some glue sticking!

As for my 3 boys? Would I take them to this exhibition? Haha they would hate this! They would roll their eyes and make throwing up noises – “Muuuuum, enough with the faaaashuurn already…bleeerrghh.”

Oh wait, maybe I’m not being fair on them. Maybe they might surprise me and have a genuine *flair* for fabrics and colour. Some of the best fashion designers are men after all. I might just take them back… just to see what they come up with!

Frock Stars is also a free exhibition and is on from 2 Nov 2013 – 27 Jan 2014


Dr Kailis’ Private Pearl Collection

8 November 2013

The other day I was invited to a very intimate soiree to celebrate the life and achievements of Dr Patricia Kailis AM OBE. It was also her 80th Birthday, which made it extra special.

It was held at the Art Gallery of WA, to a crowd of close family, friends, and a few members of the media.

There was a really lovely exhibition of photographs spanning Patricia’s life, her late husband, Michael Kailis, and her 4 children.

Dr Patricia Kailis

I have to be honest, I did not know much about Patricia Kailis. I just assumed that she was the business partner to her husband’s vast fishery empire – lobster, prawns, tuna, ship building and pearling.

I didn’t know that she was a medical doctor and a genetic counsellor for neurological and neuromuscular disorders for over 20 years. And that she was awarded an OBE and AM for her service to medicine!

She was also responsible for developing handling and processing methods to keep oyster shells disease free, and thus set standards for the rest of the pearling industry – which I found to be so so interesting. (I love how knowledge from different industries can cross over.)

The more I learned about her and her acheivements, the more my respect and admiration grew. I just stood there listening to her speech, a bit dumbstruck, conceding that yes, this here is an amazing and inspirational woman.

It made me hope that at the age of 80, I will have had a fulfilling, significant, successful, well-rounded life, surrounded by family, friends… plus with a lot of great stories to tell.

So what does the wife of a pearling tycoon have in her Private Pearl Collection?

Dr Kailis' Private Collection

A shark brooch!

It’s no surprise that when a pearling company hunts for their perfect spherical pearls, there are lots of irregular, non-spherical, shaped pearls (called baroque pearls) out there too.

So it was *such* a delight to discover these rare one-of-a-kind creations!

Dr Kailis' Private Collection

A shrimp brooch!

Apparently the little shrimp legs wiggle and move about. How utterly adorable.

Dr Kailis' Private Collection

A little pearl Australia pin.

So cute!

Dr Kailis' Private Collection

And last of all, look at that pair of beautiful pearl lovebirds.

They must be priceless.

*Sigh*

Kind of makes me want to marry a pearl farmer too :)


Pinwheel Jewels + Win a pair of earrings from Anton Heunis

7 November 2013

Hello my lovely readers!

I’m very excited to share with you all… my brand new sponsors: Pinwheel Jewels.

Pinwheel Jewels are e-retailers of luxury fashion jewellery in a great range of styles and prices.  They feature a lovely collection of jewellery that are elegant, stylish and sophisticated. From international labels such as Anton Heunis, Kenneth Lay Jane, Gorjana, Ben-Amun to trend setting and emerging designers such as Bounkit (USA) and WoonHung (handmade designs from Singapore).

They offer secure international shipping, free shipping to Singapore, and for a limited time, they are offering free shipping to Australia (ends 21st Nov).

You know, one way I can spot a great shopping site is… if I scroll through their collection and go… OH I WANT THAT! AND THAT! I WANT THAT TOO! OMG I WISH I HAD THAT! And that is definitely what happened when I visited this site :)

Anyway, Pinwheel Jewels and I have come together to offer all my readers an exclusive giveaway.

You can WIN a pair of these earrings from Anton Heunis (valued at SGD244)!!
Pinwheel Jewels

Aren’t they preeeeetty?!?!

Please scroll down to the bottom of this post for all the details of the giveaway.

Pinwheel Jewels

So of course I had to test out the prize :) Here I’m wearing the Anton Heunis Cluster Drop Earrings that you could win!

Gahh they are stunning!

They are made from blue, grey and clear crystals set in 18K gold plated brass. They have a wonderful weight – not too heavy that they hurt my ears, and not too light that they feel cheap. They have an amazing sparkle and the cluster design is just gorgeous and feminine. I feel like a million bucks when I wear them.

I chose these to be the prize, because, let’s just say I thought you might like them *GRIN!*

I’m also wearing a lovely Anton Heunis Clear Crystal Teardrop Pendant.

Pinwheel Jewels

For this next piece… I just *had* to feature these earrings, and you’ll see why in a second.

These earrings are by a relatively new New York designer called Bounkit. Since his launch in 2006, his handmade designs have been picked up by Oprah Winfrey, worn by Liv Tyler, Salma Hayek and seen on the sets of “Gossip Girl” and more.

The concept of his designs are “convertible earrings” that transform from simple studs to glamourous red carpet bling, by changing the drops. So clever!!

So really, you get 4 earrings in 1 – how cool!

Mind you they are a bit pricey, but they are perfect for a girl who loves quality, wants to make a statement and who can afford it!

These are the Green Multi-Drop Earrings, and as you can see from the photo above, there are 3 sections to the earrings, the stud and two drops.

Pinwheel Jewels

Here I’ve take off the bottom drop and wearing one drop + stud (left) and just the stud (right).

Here are some close up pics of the earrings…

Pinwheel Jewels

It also shows how you can mix and match drops too! Such a simple but brilliant idea :)

And you must check out the other convertible earrings from Bounkit designs available at Pinwheel Jewels – such pretty cluster designs in pretty colours (light blue, smokey topaz, amethyst, green amethyst) . Eeek!

Pinwheel Jewels

Lastly, I am pretty excited about featuring these earrings by Singapore designer, WoonHung.

She has some beautiful, feminine and delicate designs, that ooze a real sense of fine craftsmanship and sophisticated style. She hand makes her jewellery using 14K -18K gold plated pieces, and are priced at a very reasonable price point.

They are really pretty! I can just imagine wearing them with a crisp white shirt and a shorts and gold sandals. Or with a lovely dress for a special occasion.

Pinwheel Jewels

Her pieces are stocked in major department stores and niche boutiques in Singapore and Japan.

Do check out the rest of the WoonHung Collection at Pinwheel Jewels.

Pinwheel Jewels
*GIVEAWAY DETAILS!*

What you will win: One pair of Blue Cluster Drop Earrings by Anton Heunis, valued at SGD244.

Who can enter: This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE. You have to be over 18 years of age.

Dates of Giveaway: Giveaway runs for 14 days. Thursday 7 Nov – Thursday 21 Nov 2013, 11:59pm (GMT +8)

How to enter:
1) Pop over to the Pinwheel Jewels Facebook Page and LIKE it.
2) Scroll to find the wall post about this giveaway (with the graphic above).
3) Leave a comment and tell us “Which is your favourite piece of jewellery from the Pinwheel Jewels Website?

That’s it! Yes this is a Facebook only giveaway, so you must have a Facebook account to enter.

When the giveaway ends, we will randomly draw a name and contact the winner via Facebook.

We will announce the winner on the Pinwheel Jewels Facebook Page, and we will send the winner a personal message too, so please check your messages on the 22nd November!

ALL THE BEST!!

And happy shopping!!

xxx

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


The Biggest Rainbow Vomit Ever…

3 November 2013

The Color Prun Perth 2013

I attended The Color Run with a bunch of girlfriends this weekend!

If you haven’t heard about it, it’s a 5km run… where you just have a fun time getting covered in colour. It’s not a race and it’s not actually about running.

There were THOUSANDS of people at the event, children of all ages, scooters, prams, even wheelchairs… so there wasn’t much running happening. It was more of a walk :)

Along the 5km course, there are different colour stations, where coloured powder-dust is thrown at you. The event volunteers (who are throwing the colour) try to aim at your white clothes, but the dust just goes everywhere – your face, hair, ears, arms, legs, shoes.

Everyone was very keen to get completely covered in colour, so by the end, some people were rolling on the ground and sliding around in the coloured dust. It was crazy and fun!

The Color Prun Perth 2013

I took these photos approaching the end of the event: coming up to the finish line and at the concert – where the organisers got everyone to throw their packets of colour into the air. It looked awesome!

I stood back to take these photos, because I didn’t want my phone camera to get stained or clogged with the colour dust.

The Color Prun Perth 2013

This was me, covered in colour and dancing away in front of the stage :)

Yes I had a great time!

After I took this photo, someone nearby threw a packet of dark green dust in the air. So I had dark green colour on my face, which outlined my sunglasses, so I looked like I had green eye bags, nice! I had also wiped under my nose and gave myself a purple moustache! And I had orange hair!

By the end of it, I had an old-lady moment, where I looked at myself, completely covered with dusty colour… and I felt really irritated and precious, “Ugh, what am I doing here?! I don’t actually like getting dirty! I’m disgusting! Now I have to go clean myself!” Haha.

Anyway… overall, the whole event had a really fun and happy vibe. It was great for kids too.

Would I recommend the event? Yes. But get a big bunch of friends, get dressed up in some silly outfits (crazy coloured socks and tu-tus) and really get into the colour craziness and dancing – while raising money for charity.

xxx


What’s Happening in Syria? A two-minute summary and how to help.

31 October 2013

Syria Crisis Oct 2013 - UNICEF, by Alessio Romenzi.
Photo courtesy of UNICEF, by Alessio Romenzi.

A week ago, I was contacted by UNICEF for a new blog project. The email title certainly stuck out from the others in my inbox, which are more typically “One Day Sale!” and “Next Seasons Hottest Trends!!”

I was asked if I could talk about the plight of children in the Syrian crisis and to suggest to my readers to donate to the Syria Crisis Appeal.

I don’t know much about the Syrian crisis, only that there is a civil war going on. And I don’t know much about UNICEF, only that they help children around the world.

So I said yes, as a kind of education for myself.

I dived into the research (feeling like a high school student working on an assignment!), reading dozens of articles, special features, photo journals, online videos…

And after spending about 3 hours working on it… I am sitting here in front of my computer, trembling with anger and helplessness, with tears uncontrollably running down my face.

Gaaah, there’s some bad stuff going on in this world.

So here are the major points, because I know your time is limited.

1) Syria is in the Middle East. It sits between Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon. It has a population of 22.5 million people. Capital city is Damascus.

Syria Crisis Oct 2013 - Image Google Maps

2) How did the civil war start? In early 2011, protesters against the government were met with violence. Subsequent protests resulted in massacres, and people were captured, beaten and tortured.

A group of Syrian army officers turned against the government and formed the Free Syrian Army. And since then, tanks and snipers have been used against protesters, air strikes have been made on hospitals, and chemical weapons have been used on civilians.

Syria Crisis Oct 2013 - Photo: AP / Aleppo Media Center AMC
Photo: AP / Aleppo Media Center AMC

3) Millions of innocent Syrians have been caught in between. The UN estimates 100,000 people have been killed. 4.5 million Syrians have been displaced and forced to move. 3/4 of refugees are women and children.

2 million have fled Syria to neighbouring countries like Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, and these countries do not have the capacity to support them.

Syria Crisis Oct 2013 - UNICEF, by Alessio Romenzi.
Photo courtesy of UNICEF, by Alessio Romenzi.

4) Syrians are living wherever they can find shelter – sheds, stables, crowded apartments and makeshift camps and tents made from plastic sheets. Conditions are atrocious. Winter is coming.

Millions of children need water, food, medical supplies and warmth.

The pictures and stories on the internet jolted through my spine. Of course, I feel guilty, living in a country where my biggest drama for today was whether to cook chicken or lamb for dinner.

I also feel angry. This is wrong. This should not be happening to human beings. This is not fair. Not right.

I immediately want to help. But I feel so helpless and outraged at the same time.

I told my older children about all this – as a way to rant and clarify my thoughts. They asked big questions, like WHY would a government treat its people like that? WHERE will all the people live now? HOW will they survive? WHY do these things happen? WHY isn’t the rest of the world doing anything?

Good questions.

Now here’s a bit of info about UNICEF.

UNICEF is the United Nations Children’s Fund.

It is the world’s leading advocate for children and the largest organisation specifically focusing on children’s development and rights.

They work in over 190 countries to protect the rights of children. They provide vaccines, support child health, nutrition, clean water, sanitation, education and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and HIV.

Last year, UNICEF delivered warm clothes, blankets and other supplies like plastic mats and cooking stoves to more than 260,000 vulnerable people in Syria.

UNICEF provided food, medicine, immunisation, sanitation, child-friendly spaces, trauma counselling and schooling to Syrians living as refugees in neighbouring countries. And they need more money to help kids THIS WINTER. Like…NOW!

So, apart from telling you about this, obviously in hope you will donate. I have just made my own $100, tax deductible donation.

You can make a once off donation to the UNICEF Syrian Crisis Appeal here.

A few other articles you might like to read (that will put your own struggles into perspective).

Syrian Crisis Basics
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/08/29/syria-the-very-very-basics/

http://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/syria-dashboard/index.html

The Historic Scale of Syria’s Refugee Crisis
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/10/16/world/middleeast/syrian-refugee-crisis-photos.html?ref=syria&_r=0

Horrors and Violence against Women in Syria
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/26/syria-peace-talks-women-raped

Lebanon suffers under the strain of a refugee crisis now out of control
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/26/syria-refugees-lebanon-save-the-children


1000 Dresses For under $100

23 October 2013

Hey everyone!

After *all that* cycling, I’m back to reviewing new season fashion goodies YAY.

Birdsnest Online continues to be one of my favourite online stores… offering a huge range of women’s clothes.

There are like… THOUSANDS of dresses under $100. Most of them are familiar brands like Wish, Fate, Esprit, Ladakh, Mink Pink, Sacha Drake, and even Collette by Collette Dinnigan.

Dress from Birdsnest Online

This is a Mink Pink coral dress that I picked out.

I have 2 or 3 simple, short, summer dresses from Birdsnest (see my old post here) and over the years, I have been surprised by how often I wear them. Going out to lunch with girlfriends, day time play dates, lunching with my parents… going to casual places where I don’t need to dress up too much, but I still like to look like I’ve put in some effort :)

This coral dress is not your average plain jersey skater dress, as it has a soft cotton lace overlay, giving it some texture and a nice feel.

It’s super cute, bright, soft, fun, summery, and needs no ironing! WIN!

Dress from Birdsnest Online

Birdsnest have also launched their own label called, “That Bird Label”… and wanted me to try out one of their styles. The collection features 20 spring dresses, specially designed in-house, after significant surveys and research on what modern Australian women love to wear.

They cater to all shapes and sizes, and flatter lots of different body shapes. Their sizes go from 8 – 16. The dresses don’t come in size 6, which was a bit tricky, because I’m a size 6!

Nonetheless, I chose this pretty Maggie Wrap Dress and it still fit quite nicely. However a part of me thinks that the dress would have looked much nicer if I had a few more curves and was fuller in the bust. I had to wear my super-push-up bra to “fill it out” haha.

It has a lovely, ladylike shape, accentuating the hour-glass figure, and features a fun pattern and vibrant colours. It is made from very nice and soft cotton material too. Very nice dress!

Top from Birdsnest Online

Lastly, I chose this loose fitting cotton tunic with contrast embroidery detail, called the “Moroccan Magic Top”.

It’s light, comfy and a bit see through… which is perfect for wearing this summer, over your swimwear. I’m wearing a size 8.

And if you need more shopping or styling inspiration, check out this massive gallery of outfits!

Happy shopping!

xxx

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


Boyfriend Jeans and Checks

19 October 2013

Ripped up boyfriend jeans are very cool at the moment.

Do you have a pair? They are really comfy and they absolutely point to the effortless, slouchy, off-duty, street-cool look (which I totally dig).

I love the look of my slouchy black pants… so wearing slouchy boyfriend jeans was an obvious appeal to me.

But I wouldn’t pay $250+ for a pair of NEWLY ripped jeans, no matter who designed them. In fact I’m firmly against it!

Please slash up a pair of old jeans from the bottom of your drawer, or buy one for $5 from an op shop.

Speaking of old jeans, look at these!

Boyfriend Jeans and Checks

These are my comfy as hell, 10 year old Lee jeans. But now they are old, dirty, and they have a few rips in them.

They are so crappy that a few years ago I down-graded them to my “C” team jeans.

Yep they are my gardening jeans. They are the pair I wear while I’m pulling out weeds!

I gave them a good wash before wearing them out in this outfit. And all the stains and dirt came out surprisingly well.

I wear them out with a huge smile on my face thinking about how many litres of worm compost and sheep manure I have shovelled while wearing these jeans. Haha!

Oh and I thought the farmer-flannel, check shirt around my waist was a nice touch.

Fashion is such fun!

Boyfriend Jeans and Checks

Outfit:
Red Top by In Good Company
Check Shirt from YesStyle
Bag by Marc by Marc Jacobs, similar at my-wardrobe.com.
Sandals by Vangoh Shoes

Have a great weekend everyone!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


This is Why

14 October 2013

This is the hand print of my youngest son.

Handprint

On the weekend, I went out for my final training ride… before my 200km Ride To Conquer Cancer fundraiser.

I returned home in the afternoon and found my husband and my three boys in the backyard, happily doing odd jobs in the garden, and generally messing around in the cool, spring sunshine.

The youngest of my children is Liam, who is 4.5 years old. He was making a huge mess with crunched up blue chalk and a puddle of water, and he proudly showed me how he was making hand prints all over the paving in the backyard.

I was very struck by his hand print.  Because on my long, quiet ride, I was thinking about WHY I am raising funds for cancer research.

His hand print said, “I am here! I am alive!”

My son  and I, and my whole family, are so FULL of life.

We are doing stuff. Loving, eating, arguing, questioning, explaining, playing, laughing, growing older and wiser. And we can do all of this because we have such good health. This is what life is about. Being. Being together, and having a new opportunity to have more BEING each new day.

My husband has almost died of cancer twice, and survived each time only because of the research that had been done into cancer treatments. He and my family are BEING each day because of that research.

So… This is WHY I am riding.

This is my hand print on the world. I am saying to the universe… ” I am alive, and thank you for that!”

And I know that the money that you and I have raised is going to help some mum, dad, son or daughter, keep on BEING somewhere, sometime in the future.

My ride is this weekend (5 more days!)!

You can still make your own gift to the cause here.

Thanks so much!


Win a $500 Shopping Spree at Ae’lkemi – Reminder

8 October 2013

Hello hello! Just a friendly reminder here!

My exclusive shopping spree giveaway… ENDS WEDNESDAY 11:59pm!

You can win a $500 gift voucher to spend at Ae’lkemi, instore on online. This giveaway is open to all my readers, worldwide.

Do check out my original blog post about the giveaway, to give you more of an idea of what kind of runway ready gown you can pick from the collection.

Ae'lkemi 2013

Now this special dress is a one-off piece that I borrowed. I wore it to the Ae’lkemi Lumiere 2013 runway show at the Perth fashion Festival… and oh my, being honoured to sit front row wearing this dress, I felt very special indeed! Eek!

That ruffle hem is gorgeous!

Ae'lkemi 2013

The dress is a cross between this Raglan Scuba Dress and this Shoulders Gown. It isn’t on sale on the website, but as I said, you can check out what is on sale at the Aelkemi website.

Look at that sexy back!

Ae’lkemi Giveaway Details
Who Can Enter:
It’s open to all readers WORLDWIDE, over 18 years.

What You Win:
The winner will receive a gift voucher to the value of AUD$500, to spend at Ae’lkemi. No part of this gift voucher is transferable for cash.

Giveaway Dates:
Runs for 2 weeks. Starts on Wednesday, 25 September 2013.
Ends on Wednesday, 9 October 2013, 11:59pm (GMT +8).

How to Enter:
This competition is now closed!

All the best! Hope you win!


Watercolours For A Sunny Day

6 October 2013

Freez Clothing

There’s nothing quite like waking up in the morning and seeing the sun filter through my window. A sunny day is always my mood changer. And I’m always reminded of how blessed we are with beautiful weather.

I was so happy to reach for my colours and prints the other day. I had a girly catch-up by the beach and wore this lovely watercolour dress.

Floaty, silky, a little ruffle and drape. It has a relaxed and effortless yet polished feel to it.

I found at Freez, an online store offering affordable and clothing.

Lots of nice dresses, in nice prints, nice styles and nice colours!

Watercolours are my weakness. I love painterly prints. As simple as it sounds, the connection comes from my art background – all the years of sloshing paints and colours around on paper.

Enjoy the sunshine everyone!

xxx

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


Secrets of the Afterlife

26 September 2013

Last weekend, it was a wet, cold, rainy weekend. The kind where you wake up in the morning and think – Oh god, how am I going to entertain these kids today?!?!

Well, that morning, a crazy part of me thought – Oh why don’t we go to the WA Museum today?! That’s indoors. I have been meaning to catch the most recent exhibition about Ancient Egypt.

So I bundled my three kids into the car and off we went.

What was I thinking?!

Ancient Egypt Exhibition 2013

The exhibition was called, The Secrets of the Afterlife, in collaboration with the British Museum. I say “was” because this day turned out to be THE LAST day of the exhibition. I was lucky to see it!

It was a journey into the ancient Egyptian world of magic, mummies and mystery.

The artifacts were AMAZING!

Ancient Egypt Exhibition 2013

The preservation of the materials. The ritualistic decoration. The intricate beading. The craftsmanship. It was jaw-dropping.

Ancient Egypt Exhibition 2013

This is the surface of one coffin. The paintings were so detailed, clear, precise, and vibrant. I was in design heaven.

If you consider that most of these items are dated back to 1500 BC… that’s over 3000 years old!

It was completely mind boggling. And I was filled with spine-tingling awe.

Ancient Egypt Exhibition 2013

Then came the jewellery and I almost lost it. I was so excited.

The lizards symbolised the renewal of life (based on the creature’s ability to re-grow new limbs or tail). The beads on the left necklace are shaped as poppy seed heads.

These pieces are over 2000 years old. Made from gold, carnelian gemstone, glass. Gaah how beautiful!

Ancient Egypt Exhibition 2013

On the right is a heart-scarab amulet, with spells from The Book of the Dead inscribed at the base.

On the right are a collection of make-up containers. The tube-like containers are kohl eye paint holder, and the little semi-circle box is for storing cosmetics. How beautiful!

These items are dated between 1500 – 1069 BC.

Yup, so all this was very lovely, but what REALLY happened during the outing?

I wish I could say that I had a wonderful experience soaking up and appreciating history and the creativity of our ancient ancestors… but in reality, I had to RACE through the exhibition. I only had 2 seconds to look each item. I literally just stopped at each piece, went WOW, took a photo of it, took a photo of the information plate, then rushed on to the next piece. Literally. It was shameful.

Why?

Because my 4 year old was shouting things like “If these are the mummies, WHERE ARE THE DADDIES?? BWAHAHAHA!!!” over and over again.

He was knocking things over. Jumping around. Falling to the ground. Banging on the glass. Banging into other people. Shouting really loud. Licking the glass. Putting his hands over the information panels when people were trying to read them. Ripping up the brochures and sprinkling the paper all over the floor.

He was holding my hand, but jumping and pulling in all directions, so I was jerking around, and being pulled to the ground at random times. I was constantly scolding him, warning him, punishing him, and of course, trying to engage him in the exhibition to no avail.

Ooooh it was hard work. I was pretty pissed off that I couldn’t enjoy the exhibition, but really, it was my own fault! Why did I do this to myself? I was swearing inside. And shaking my head at the whole BITTERSWEET EXISTENCE OF PARENTHOOD! I was close to tears.

That is…

Until right at the end… we reached the last little nook.

I wanted to take a photo of the last exhibition piece… so I asked my kids to wait against a wall. It was actually a wall with a connected partition that created a 20cm gap. My 4 year old giggled naughtily, “Tee hee, I’m going to squeeze through this gap and I’ll see you on the other side mum!!”

(I thought what he said was quite witty and profound, since this was an exhibition about the afterlife…)

I bent down to him and said very sternly, “DO NOT put your head through that gap. You are NOT to squeeze through to the other side, do you understand?!”

He said yes.

I turned away. I was about to snap my photo, when I heard him say, “Er, help!”.

Oh god no.

Ancient Egypt Exhibition 2013

Yep. He put his head between the wall partition.

My son got his head stuck in the wall!

HIS HEAD!! STUCK IN THE FREAKING WALL!!

And yes. Since I had a camera in my hand, I took a photo of him.

Oooooooh, dear internet. Do forgive me, because I could not stop myself from laughing. I had to press my lips together and bend my head into my chest to hide my smile. It was a serious and dangerous situation for my child, yet I giggle uncontrollably. I had pangs of guilt but oh my, it was sooooooo funny.

He was saying things like, “Um, mum. I think my head is stuck. Can you help me?”

Sigh. Ok.

I put my camera away. And began to think. How to get my son’s head out?

I held his head and tried to pull him out gently. Nope, stuck.

I pressed his ears tightly against his head, then pulled. Nope. Hmm, definitely stuck.

I smooshed his temple/cheeks/face/ears together in my hands (oh god I was trying not to laugh!) and pulled a little harder… then he started to scream in pain! Good grief, now everyone was looking at us.

I asked my other boys to find an attendant for help. Maybe they could move the wall partition?

But my boys started to have an argument about WHO was going to do the asking. They were going back and forth with their bickering, while my little one cried louder and louder. I turned to them and growled, “WILL YOU STOP ARGUING!! I NEED SOME HELP AND I NEED YOU TO GO FIND SOMEONE WITH A BADGE!!”

In that moment, Liam seemed to have twisted and turned, and -POP- out came his head. He was free.

Thank goodness!!

I certainly calmed down after that. And I wasn’t so grumpy any more.

I smiled knowing that I had great photos of the exhibition (and my son with his head stuck in a wall). And that I could soak up the creativity of our ancient ancestors (and my son)… forever.


Win a $500 Shopping Spree at Ae’lkemi

25 September 2013

Ae'lkemi Dresses

To celebrate the start of the new season, I’m teaming up with award-winning West Australian designer label Ae’lkemi to offer all my readers (WORLDWIDE) this fantastic giveaway!

You can win a $500 gift voucher to spend at Ae’lkemi, instore on online.

OOoooooOOOOoooh so exciting! I wish I could win!

If you win, you can pick out one of these stunning runway ready gowns, that are available from the Ae’lkemi Online Store. These are the ones that I like…

Ae'lkemi Dresses

Left to right – (1) One Shoulder Scuba Dress,
(2) Lace Scuba Dress, or
(3) Paris Knit Gown in Tangerine or Black*

Ae'lkemi Dresses

Left to right – (1) Shoulders Sequin Gown in Moet or Silver*,
(2) Wrap Tuck Dress,
(3) Leopard Print Dress*

* = These dresses are over $500.

Or if you live in Western Australia, you can go into the Ae’lkemi boutique in Claremont and pick out something equally fabulous.

Here’s a sample of some new season colours and fabrics from the boutique.

Ae'lkemi Dresses

You’ll find formal evening gowns, pretty cocktail dresses, sexy party dresses, simple elegant dresses and statement jackets.

There are punchy citrus hues, statement reds, snakeskin textures, graphical prints and lots of sequins!

Ae'lkemi Dresses

And of course, I was given the opportunity to go into the store to select a few dresses to borrow and try out.

The first dress that caught my eye (pictured first in this blog post) was the Shoulders Sequin Gown in Moet.

It is a little more than $500, but oooooooh I adored the elegant colour, the simple cut and the sexy back! It also comes in a pewter and a black.

Ae'lkemi Dresses

This Citrus Dress is also a little more than $500, but I thought it was such a wonderful cocktail dress.

I couldn’t take my eyes off it. It was so bright and vibrant. The mix of textures and fabrics, and the subtle shapes make it a sophisticated and stylish dress. I could wear it to a lunchtime function, a wedding, or a night time party or function.

Ae’lkemi Giveaway Details
Who Can Enter:
It’s open to all readers WORLDWIDE, over 18 years.

What You Win:
The winner will receive a gift voucher to the value of AUD$500, to spend at Ae’lkemi. No part of this gift voucher is transferable for cash.

Giveaway Dates:
Runs for 2 weeks. Starts on Wednesday, 25 September 2013.
Ends on Wednesday, 9 October 2013, 11:59pm (GMT +8).

How to Enter:
This competition is now closed!

All the best! Hope you win!

(By the way, a few of my international readers have fallen in love with the gowns and have asked how Ae’lkemi is pronounced? It is simply pronounced “Alchemy”.)


Review: Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution

23 September 2013

In the last few years, one of my most significant skin problems has been dark spots caused from acne.

Kiehl's Clearly Corrective Range

In my teens I had a huge acne problem – think, surface of the moon!

But now that I’m in my 30s, my hormones have calmed down… and I get about 1 zit a month.

It may be just ONE, but it’s a whopper. One of those deep, volcanic, super-painful, boil-like ones that takes days to develop and hurts my face when I smile. Then after a week, when it’s all over, it leaves this HUGE dark spot… that takes freaking MONTHS (possibly up to a year?) to fade.

Sometimes I get one on my jaw line, one next to my nose, ON my nose, above my upper lip, on my chin, up near my temple. One each month. Spot after spot. Man it’s annoying!

Anyway earlier this year, Kiehl’s launched their Clearly Corrective Range, which caught my attention, and in particular the Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution.

There was lots of hype about it and yup, I was sent a bottle to try.

That was in February this year. 7 months ago.

As you can tell from the product photo above, this post is a bit overdue. Look how much I’ve used up in 7 months. This stuff lasts forever! I also received the Hydrating Moisture Emulsion, more on that later.

I used the “Dark Spot Solution” religiously for a couple of months, twice a day.

During the first week – I was trying to keep track of my dark spots. Any change? Any lighter? Faded yet?

But seriously, after a few more weeks, being a busy mum, who has to wake up early in the morning and rush through a morning face care routine – I didn’t have all day to examine the colour of my spots. It just wasn’t that important! :P

However, I did stick with it.

And one morning, I routinely put some of the solution on my “spotty zones” when I noticed – omg what happened to all the spots?! They seemed to have faded?! They are almost gone?! I swear I had a spot above my right lip last month?!

In 3 months, I’m positive that my dark spots had faded to almost nothing.

Well I’ll be damned!

I kept using it everyday for 5 months in total, and after that, I’ve only been using this sporadically, only when I need to. Just last month, I had a double zit (one formed right next to another one) that left a HUGE dark spot on my jaw… with the solution, it faded by half in 2 weeks.

So, I’m happy. It gets a big TWO THUMBS UP from me.

And I’m definitely going to buy it again.

I doesn’t fade freckles or sun spots though. (I tried!)

As for the Clearly Corrective White Hydrating Moisture Emulsion, it says it has been tested and developed for Asian skin, claiming to “correct visible uneven skin tone and enhance luminosity and hydration levels for a notable improvement in skin clarity”.

I think I already have an even skin tone… and yes my skin has been luminous and clear. But have to admit that I used other products while testing this product. So I’m not sure how much of it was due to this product.

I’m probably not going to buy this product again.

Anyway if you’re keen, you can buy the Dark Spot Solution or any other Kiehl’s products directly from the Kiehl’s Australia Website, where they are offering FREE SHIPPING for orders over $50, and 3 samples for every order.

xxx Enjoy!


Korean Hair Salon in Perth: Curi Hair

17 September 2013

Early last week, I contacted a new Korean hair salon in Perth because… I wanted a balayage and a PERM!!

The salon I contacted is called Curi Hair and it was recommended to me by the owner of Vangoh Shoes (which I blogged about a few weeks ago), Vanessa. She had a killer balayage and I asked her where she got it done.

She said she went to a new salon next to her Subiaco store (can you see the Vangoh shoe store in the background?)… and it was a done deal – I have always wanted to try a Korean hair salon and I always prefer to go to places with a word of mouth recommendation!

Korean Hair Salon in Perth: Curi Hair

Curi Hair opened about 3 months ago, by husband and wife team, Jay and Tiffany.

I must admit, I was a little afraid that the owners didn’t speak much English and that I would have trouble communicating with them. But it turns out that Jay and Tiffany had been living in Sydney and then Perth for about 7 years, and working in hair salons all over Australia.

Prior to that, they had been living in Canada and of course Korea.

They both have up to 15 years of hair dressing experience, they knew all the names of the local salons that I had tried out over the years, and they even assisted backstage at past Australian fashion festivals. It all made me feel confident that they were professional, had loads of experience, savvy with trendy styles, up-to-date with modern hairdressing news and technology etc.

Plus they were just lovely, friendly and so warm to chat to.

Korean Hair Salon in Perth: Curi Hair

Ok so I told them what I wanted – a balayage and a perm. But they said that a perm can be very drying for hair, so it’s best to have a perm first THEN do a balayage a few weeks later.

The professionals know best, so I was fine with that. I flipped through a hair style book and found what I wanted.

See that hair model in the front, wearing red? BINGO ! I wanted tight-ish curls, no fringe.

Korean Hair Salon in Perth: Curi Hair

So this is my BEFORE photo.

I had a gorgeous balayage done 1 year ago… and I haven’t had a hair cut in 6 months. I often colour my own hair using home hair dye to keep my lighter bits vibrant.

I have been itching to have another balayage (for a few months now), as I want my ends to be lighter for summer.

Korean Hair Salon in Perth: Curi Hair

OK so first up, I had a hair cut (left). Then they gave me a hair treatment which involved putting a steam cap over my hair for about 20 minutes.

The whole thing ballooned around my head as steam was gently pumped into the cap. There were a few air holes in the cap and steam was shooting out (pictured right)… it looked pretty comical and I felt like a kettle.

Korean Hair Salon in Perth: Curi Hair

I actually can’t recall the exact order of treatment!

I think they then put the perm agent into my hair, covered it with a shower cap and then warmed it up with a rotating warming machine (pictured above) for another 20 minutes or so.

Korean Hair Salon in Perth: Curi Hair

While I was waiting, I flipped through the hair style book again… swooning at all the pretty perms.

This is an example page for medium length hair.

Korean Hair Salon in Perth: Curi Hair

And another example page for long hair.

After the wait, they partially washed the perm agent out my hair, then they strung me up to this machine…

Korean Hair Salon in Perth: Curi Hair

Ceramic rollers were rolled onto my hair. Then little clamps (that look like robot hands) were clipped onto the rollers… which kept the rollers heated at a constant temperature.

It looked like some crazy science-fiction, alien robot!!

They told me that this machine (and most of their equipment) are imported from Korea. Regular salons in Australia don’t have this kind of machine… because Anglo-Australians have a very different hair texture to Asians.

After another long wait, they took the clips and rollers off my hair.

They washed my hair AGAIN and put another “neutralising treatment” into my hair (I think?).

They towel-dried my hair. Put in some hair oil.

They blow dried my hair, with lots of twisting and twirling.

A bit more serum and BEHOLD!

Korean Hair Salon in Perth: Curi Hair

Ooooooh I was so happy with the result!!

It looks so pretty!!

Apparently the curls can last up to 6 to 12 months!! Over time the curls will get looser and softer.

Korean Hair Salon in Perth: Curi Hair

The curls look really natural – and not at all like the AUNTY perms of the 80s!

This kind of perm technique is called a “Setting Perm”. It’s similar to a “Digital Perm” which just uses a different machine.

The whole hair experience was supposed to take about 2-3 hours. But it took me 4 hours, because I took lots of photos, talked to Tiffany and Jay a lot, I went out for a toilet break, and I also had to move my car (I parked in a 2 hours parking zone!) and I also stopped to buy myself some sushi for lunch haha.

Korean Hair Salon in Perth: Curi Hair

This photo is me ONE WEEK later, having brunch with my friend Randall.

I was supposed to: towel dry my hair, apply hair oil, then twist and twirl sections of hair into little ringlets… then blow dry the ringlets to help them keep their shape.

But I was in a huge rush and I just did a LAZY BLOW DRY, blasting hot air in all directions until it was all dry haha (sorry Tiffany!). But hey this is real life and who’s got time for glamorous hair everyday? I applied some hair oil and smoothing cream.

[EDIT: This is me one month later. I finally got the hang of it! I just wash my hair, towel dry, apply hair oil, and then some hair spray. So easy!]

Boyfriend Jeans and Checks

I actually love, love, LOVE these soft, bouncy “everyday” curls.

As for creating *glamour* curls (like when I first stepped out of the salon)… I still need a bit of practice to get my curls tighter, more defined and less frizzy.

I’ve also noticed that I have a lot of frizziness, which I never used to have. All my naturally curly-haired friends just laughed and said that was TOTALLY normal for curly hair… and I should just invest in a good hair oil.

I’m definitely coming back for my balayage soon! Can’t wait!

I completely recommend them!

The prices?

The price for a setting perm starts at $180, and it goes up a *little* if you have super long hair.
Balayage starts at $135, and goes up a little bit if you have super long and thick hair.

Cut, wash and blow dry for ladies start at $45
Colour tint for ladies start from $45
1/4 head foils from $45
1/2 head foils from $70
Full head foils from $90

Curi Hair
Unti 4, 103 Rokeby Road, Subiaco, WA

(They are in a little laneway, near the corner of Forrest Street and Rowland, next to the Forrest St Carpark.)
(08) 6161 0710

They don’t have a website yet, but they have a Curi Hair Facebook Page.

A big thank you to Jay and Tiffany!

xxx


Smitten In One Fell Swoop

2 September 2013

One Fell Swoop SS14

Last week I attended a fashion show in the middle of the city… but with a difference.

Between all the fancy, glittering shops… I found myself, with a bunch of other fashion media types, in a dark alleyway that led to an old, dusty, unused cinema – untouched for 20 years.

One Fell Swoop SS14

The cinema had been gutted. The floors, walls and steps were bare concrete and wood. The place wasn’t actually dirty like a construction site, but there was definitely a feeling of rawness, a striping back of all surfaces, stepping back into the past and walking into a crypt of some sort.

I was surprised that the whole place was not freezing cold and filled with a terrible echo.

Oddly, it was warm, inviting and exciting.

One Fell Swoop SS14

We were all here to view a SS14 Runway Presentation by One Fell Swoop.

For my international readers…

One Fell Swoop is an Australian label that began 8 or 9 years ago. Over the years, they have slowly built a cult clientele who are utterly in love with their dedication to luxurious fabrics and gorgeous tailoring and draping. But I have never tried on any of their clothes, mostly because it is quite tricky to find their stuff and they are only stocked in a few stores.

In 2011 they won the WA Designer Of The Year award for their innovation and have since showcased their collections in Singapore.

I’d say that their style is sophisticated, modern, minimal and avant-garde. Does that make sense? They are well known for drapes and playing with feminine shapes, forms and fabrics.

It’s hard to describe. Here, look at my photos from the runway.

One Fell Swoop SS14

The show gave us lots of classic One Fell Swoop stuff. Amazing drapes around the body, tucks and folds, mixed fabrics.

I have always liked looking at their clothes on the runway!

But would I wear any of it?

Hmm, I’m not sure. It all looked really sheer.

I bumped into a few people I knew at the show, and they told me they were wearing 2, 3 or 4 layers of One Fell Swoop garments, all layered effortlessly over each other. And they looked good.

One Fell Swoop SS14

Left: This navy lace dress was gorgeous! I loved the lace panel at the front and back. So sophisticated and sexy.

But hmm, I may not be “perky” enough for this particular dress :P

The navy drape top on the far right was nice and it looked wearable. The back panel was completely lace and sheer though. Good for layering.

One Fell Swoop SS14

As each piece came down the runway, through the cavernous hall… I thought OMG YES, I’m going to pop into a store and give them a go.

That short, sleeveless, red dress in the second row, second from the right… has my name written all over it!

One Fell Swoop do have a website, but it is not an online shop. Hopefully they will have their website updated so their garments can be available internationally.

I know they are stocked at Dilettante boutique at 575 Wellington Street (near the corner of King Street) – where you can also find Dion Lee, Gareth Pugh, Helmut Lang, Josh Goot, Preen, Vivienne Westwood.

It was a gorgeous show and I was so grateful to be invited!


I’m Still Alive

20 August 2013

Sunset - River

I stumbled across one of my old photos this afternoon.

It kind of jumped up and took my breath away.

It made me gaze into the folds of colour, towards that pale yellow blur and made me think – is that for real?! Did I really sit in that moment?!

I’ve been feeling a bit lackluster this last week. Not in the mood to talk about fashion. Or shopping. Or share funny kids stories. Or anything really. I just wanted to hang around people I know and love. Just wanted to do normal, boring stuff like folding clothes with my music turned up loud.

But by this afternoon, I think I’m over my solitude… and ready to greet the world with my smiling face again.

*I took the photo about 5 years ago. It was from this blog post. We were at the river, enjoying a warm summer evening by the shore. It was New Year’s Day and we were waiting for the fireworks to start. But turned out that THIS SKYSHOW was so much cooler.


Goodbye Ah Poh

18 August 2013

Hi everyone, I do apologise for being missing for the last few days…

Goodbye Ah Poh

On Wednesday morning, my grandmother (my father’s mother) passed away at the age of 96.

She left behind 4 children, 8 grandchildren and 10 great-grand children (of which I have contributed 3).

Almost all our family members and close friends are in town at the moment. It has been a busy week for my family.

Goodbye Ah PohMy grandmother was born in 1917, in China. Almost a whole century ago. It boggles my mind as to what kind of childhood she had. Growing up in China. Fleeing from the Japanese occupation. Escaping to Singapore. Meeting her husband. Then living a life of simplicity and hardship with her young family – 2 boys and 2 girls.

Her husband (my grandpa) died about 30 years ago. She never remarried. But she remained very close to all her children, who took her in and looked after her well. She eventually moved to Perth, always living with family and being cared for by family, friends, a local church group and friends from the local Chinese community.

Everyone said they would remember her as a strong, quick-witted, feisty lady! That she was! She was always smiling too, always caring and always full of good humour.

The funeral was held on the weekend.

So many people turned up to support us and to share some lovely memories of her.

At the cemetery, the rain stopped just in time. The sun came out from behind the clouds as we slowly walked through the cemetery grounds. She was buried in the same lot as her husband. We said goodbye to her with a sprigs of lavender and cut flowers from the garden.

Goodbye Ah Poh, we will miss you and I hope one day I will be a strong, quick-witted, feisty old lady too!


Perth Fashion Festival 2013 Calendar Launch

8 August 2013

Earlier this week, I woke up and said to the cold, stormy winter morning, “EAT THIS BIATCH!”

Then I wore the most un-wintery winter outfit I could put together.

Perth Fashion Festival 2013 Calendar Launch

As I headed into the city, I looked *considerably* out of place on the train – filled to the brim with working commuters.

Why does everyone wear black?! Come on people, lighten up :P

Anyway, public transport was good to me…I whizzed past 16 kilometres of cars jammed on the freeway in a few minutes.

Perth Fashion Festival 2013 Calendar Launch

I was excited because I was attending the Calendar Launch for the Perth Fashion Festival.

Champagne on a Tuesday morning! Rubbing shoulders, spilling coffee, eating gourmet pancakes and getting blueberry stuck in your teeth… with the top peeps of the fashion and media industry! What a WIN!

Perth Fashion Festival 2013 Calendar Launch

The launch was held at the ABC TV Studios in East Perth, with the actual gathering and fashion show held inside a TV studio.

I was totally enamoured by all the specialised equipment, the dangling black lights and the technical gadgetery everywhere!

Perth Fashion Festival 2013 Calendar Launch

Was I the only fashion blogger photographing the glowing pink cable bundles/boxes/thingies? POSSIBLY.

Perth Fashion Festival 2013 Calendar Launch

We saw a fashion show featuring local designers, a taste of what’s to come in the full festival.

WA designers such as Empire Rose, Flannel, Morrison, Ruth Tarvydas and Zhivago will be showcasing their work during the festival, with stand-alone fashion shows by One Fell Swoop and Jaime Lee, as well as shows from hot Australian labels such as Camilla and Marc and ELLERY.

Perth Fashion Festival 2013 Calendar Launch

This is Zara Bryson and I, having a SPLURGE vs STEAL moment.

Valentino Studded Pumps $1,090 vs. Ava Studded Heels $65!!

Perth Fashion Festival 2013 Calendar Launch

Anyway I just want to share with you this image from the PFF campaign – Uniquely WA – which actually made me glow with pride and delight. It is such a cheeky, sexy and visually compelling photo.

The concept of mixing WA fashion with WA mining (possibly the most un-fashiony industry ever!) is clever, cheeky and I must say, very entertaining.

You see (for my international friends) – in the last 10 or so years, Western Australia has gone through an amazing mining and resources boom, boosting the Australian economy despite the worldwide Global Financial Crisis. Houses, rent, food prices have sky rocketed over the years, and according to new figures, Perth is apparently now the most expensive Australian city to live in.

Mining is such a huge part of the local economy that there’s a local joke… that what defines and distinguishes WA’s fashion is – bright yellow hi-visibility safety gear haha!

Perth Fashion Festival 2013 Calendar Launch

So I applaud the PFF team for their creativity and wicked sense of humour!

Check out the PFF Official Website for the whole fashion calendar and to buy tickets.


Please Help: Mixing Fashion + Cycling + Fundraising!

5 August 2013

Wanderlust + Co Bracelet

Hi everyone!

Many of you know that I’m participating in the Ride to Conquer Cancer this year and I’m fundraising for cancer research.

Well I’d like to introduce you all to my latest fundraising project.

One of my fashion sponsors – the lovely Jenn from Wanderlust + Co (who has supported my blog for many years now) – reached out to me about a collaboration.

For a limited time, she and her team will be donating $5 to my fundraising ride for every Yellow XL Buckle-Up Leather Bracelet sold.

Wanderlust + Co Bracelet

We decided on this yellow bracelet because it’s a gorgeous piece of arm candy! It’s bold and bright, it’s good-looking, polished, one of their shop’s best sellers, and it’s a little bit different.

Plus it is symbolically yellow – the colour of cancer awareness and cancer research fundraising.

(It’s also the winning colour for cycling, thanks to the Tour De France, and it’s also the colour of my bike haha!)

So it perfectly mixes all my loves – fashion, fitness, fundraising and raising cancer awareness.

Wanderlust + Co Bracelet

It’s a really a lovely bracelet for the new season – and it’s especially easy to wear with current trends like monochrome, boyfriend jeans, bold prints, florals.

It is made from genuine calf leather and gold plated screw studs, and it is priced at USD$35.

Here’s the link again – Yellow XL Buckle-Up Leather Bracelet

Please check it out! If it’s not for you then maybe consider buying it as a gift to a friend, girlfriend or wife?

This collaboration only runs for 4 weeks til the end of August.

Wanderlust + Co offers FREE Standard International Shipping on all orders USD50 and over — no promotion code needed. For orders under USD50, there is a flat rate delivery charge.

(If you were thinking of bumping your order to over $50, try this nude + gold leather strand bracelet, which I’m also wearing in the photo above.)

Thanks for all your support!

xxx

(If you’d like to read a bit more about my ride, my fundraising efforts and where the money is going… read my fundraising and cycling posts here!)


The Pickled Fig, Fremantle : A Vegetarian Feast Night

8 July 2013

Several years ago, due to health reasons, my husband changed to a vegetarian diet. He took it on for 6 months then he changed back once his health improved. I cooked most of his meals during that time, so I became very familiar with cooking vegetarian dishes and I really enjoyed it too.

Since then, he and I have been very interested in eating a more vegetable-based diet and eating meatless meals 2 or 3 times a week.

Which brings me to my latest food review…

I accepted a warm invitation by The Fig to experience their Vegetarian Feast night.

We have never been out to eat – exclusively – vegetarian food. So this was something different for us.

The Fig owns three eateries in Perth: The Naked Fig in Swanbourne, The Wild Fig in Scarborough and The Pickled Fig in Fremantle… and once a week they offer a special vegetarian menu for their patrons.

I have never been to any of the three Figs. And this evening, we went to The Pickled Fig in South Fremantle.

The Pickled Fig, Fremantle : A Vegetarian Feast Night

Being in South Fremantle (right next to the beach and playground), the restaurant is quite isolated from the rest of the hustle and bustle of Fremantle’s main cafe strip.

It felt like we were entering a “hidden gem” – warm and cosy, rich with colours, dim lighting, local artworks, and an eclectic feel.

The Pickled Fig, Fremantle : A Vegetarian Feast Night

We chose 2 entrees, 2 mains and 2 desserts from the vegetarian menu.

The Pickled Fig, Fremantle : A Vegetarian Feast Night

Funky Blue Fungi – Sautéed button mushrooms in a rich blue cheese and garlic creamy sauce served with Turkish breads (vegetarian and gluten free option) $18

This entrée was fantastic. The sauce was superb.

If there is anyone who thinks vegetarian food is bland and boring, then you have to try this winning combination of blue cheese, garlic and mushrooms.

I don’t usually eat white bread, but I broke off a piece to dip into the cheese sauce… and to my delight, the bread was amazingly soft, springy, crunchy and fragrant.

I ended up eating the whole slice oops.

The Pickled Fig, Fremantle : A Vegetarian Feast Night

Nachos To Share – Corn chips, red beans, napolitana sauce, maffra cheddar, avocado, diced tomato & spring onion topped with herbed sour cream (vegetarian, vegan option and gluten free) $20

When we were ordering our food, the waitress wiggled her eyebrows at us, saying “Are you SURE you want this? It’s pretty big. The serve is for two people.”

My husband and I are both little, short and kind of on the slim side, but we have big appetites and we like a good bowl of nachos. So we said YES.

Big mistake. Should have listened to the waitress. The serve was huge!

Although the presentation wasn’t great and the cheese could have been hotter and more melted…the flavours were very yummy and the avocado topping had a delicious fresh and zingy taste.

It was one of the nicest vegetarian nachos I’ve eaten… usually because vegetarian nachos are often served as the poor and pathetic version of the meaty nacho option.

The Pickled Fig, Fremantle : A Vegetarian Feast Night

Risotto – Pumpkin, sundried tomato & corn risotto with white wine, garlic and
parmesan (vegetarian and gluten free) $26

My risotto arrived and it looked good. Colourful, full of different textures and layers and it was a substantial serve.

The corn and pumpkin added a nice sweetness, the garlic and parmesan gave it lots of flavour, the sundried tomato gave it an added punch.

You could tell that the dish wasn’t trying to “show off”, or be “modern” and introduce new and complex flavours together. So I guess it wasn’t surprising, or OMG AMAZING.

It had a home-cooked feel to it, tasty, full of flavour and hearty.

The Pickled Fig, Fremantle : A Vegetarian Feast Night

Curry – Mild lentil and chickpea dahl with basmati rice (vegan and gluten free) $23

Same goes for the curry. It had yummy, fresh, spicy flavours, with a real home-cooked feel about it.

It was a hearty serve and an enjoyable dish.

In fact, it was so tasty, that it’s inspired me to try a little harder when cooking vegetarian curries from now on.

The Pickled Fig, Fremantle : A Vegetarian Feast Night

Ooey Gooey – the figs famous gooey choc pudding with vanilla parfait, a crisp chocolate cone and run and raisin figs (vegetarian) $10

YUM this chocolate pudding was fantastic!

The centre of the pudding was hot and gooey, contrasting nicely with the moist chocolate cake surrounding it.

The figs were a little too rich (sticky and sweet) for me, I left them all (but one) untouched.

All the ice cream disappeared in a snap though! Definitely worth $10.

The Pickled Fig, Fremantle : A Vegetarian Feast Night

White choc panna cotta – infused with vanilla served with summer berry compote and pistachio biscotti (gluten free option) $10

The panna cotta was delicious and light, and the vanilla flavour made it taste like ice cream jelly.

I thought this dessert looked marvellous all plated up. And I hope to try making it at home to serve at a dinner parties.

Overall, the entrees and mains had a very home-cooked, simple, good “honest food” taste to them.

I felt quite good that we ate vegetarian tonight (although some of the dishes were not exactly very healthy!)

I believe the prices are reasonable for a such a nice meal. Most times we pay double the price for a very mediocre meal. So I enjoyed the whole experience.

Next time we would order 1 entrée, 2 mains and 1 dessert.

And next time we will listen to the waggling eyebrows of the waitress.

Vegetarian Feasts are available on the following nights:
Naked Fig, Swanbourne – Tuesday
Wild Fig, Scarborough – Wednesday
Pickled Fig, South Fremantle – Thursday
(On those days, meat options are still available on the menu.)

I’ll definitely come back during the day to try the lunch menu, eat some non-vegetarian meals, and to enjoy the view of the ocean.

The Pickled Fig
9/21 Ocean Drive
North Coogee, Fremantle

The Pickled Fig Cafe on Urbanspoon


Yes it’s my birthday today…

4 July 2013

And look what my boys made for me…

My Birthday 2013

My 10 year old baked two chocolate fudge cakes, (almost) all on his own!

My 8 year old looked through 3 cake decorating books, then he chose and art directed the whole cake decoration process – putting a photo of me in the middle of the cake, surrounded by jelly lollies. My mum says I am two years old in the picture.

My husband iced the cake with chocolate frosting. (I was amazed he achieved this all by himself).

Then my 4 year old decorated it with lollies – all by himself! However we suspect he had LICKED THE BACK OF ALL OF THE LOLLIES to “help make them stick on the cake better!”

Ahh… a cake only a mother could love :P

And look at this! My 4 year old also made me a card…

My Birthday 2013

He even hid it under my pillow. It says: “L (for Liam) HEART M (for Mum). Mum I really love you!”… awww look at all those ticks.

I’ve been showered with so much love this week, presents, cards, messages! *Sniff* I’m so thankful for my many wonderful family and friends and blog readers… and I am so so so happy that I could burst!!

Much love to you all! xxx


Omg, Just Look Away

29 June 2013

Three Boys on the Jetty

I found this photo of my boys – taken 2 years ago, while we were enjoying an afternoon at the Perth Cultural Centre.

Yep, there on the small boardwalk, all my boys decide to take a closer look at the water.

Yes yes, it’s cute and all. Boys being adventurous and curious and magical.

But hello! I’m their mother and I am constantly filled with love and irritation.

This is what I have to live with everyday!

The funniest thing about this photo… is that they are still exactly the same, 2 years on. Still up to silly things and freaking out their poor old mum.

Do they ever grow out of it?!


Seriously Blogged Up

14 June 2013

My 4 year old and I went for a long cycle the other day.

We rode through parks and playgrounds, and eventually we stopped at the top of a little hill, looking down into a small pond. Our eyes widened.

We know this pond quite well. The edge is usually full of green water reeds, and it is teaming with ducks, water birds and insects.

Today however, the pond looked as if there was some major construction or dredging going on. The water was gross, brown and septic looking. It was dirty, muddy and messy.

“Whoa! What’s going on??” The both of us exclaimed.

Pond Blogged

Upon careful observation, it looked like the local gardeners had dug up a whole lot of dying water reeds and made piles of the rotten debris. It was not a pretty sight. Or smell.

I was going to turn around and explain my observations to my 4 year old, when he asked,

“Mum what happened to the pond? Why is it all blogged up like that? It looks seriously blogged. Yuck I hate all this blogging stuff. Hang on. Don’t you have a blog? Is this what you do?”

I stood there looking at the pond. At that exact scene in the photo above.

And number of thoughts ran through my head.

Yes. The word “BLOG” is not a very pretty word.

Yes. If you join the words “Blocked” and “Bog” you do get the word “Blogged”.

After 13 years of running my blog, I think my 4yo had possibly pinpointed the most natural-sounding meaning for the word.

I wanted to laugh and cry.

And I just said, “Yep, it looks seriously blogged.”


The Art of Character Building

30 May 2013

My 10 year old is a naturally smart and bright kid. He’s blitzing through his maths, languages, reading, sports with ease… and he’s naturally very confident, which helps him a lot. He likes to aim towards 100% and he’ll work hard to get there.

My 8 year old is also good at school, but he has a different inner drive. He’s naturally creative, he’s an observer, a dreamer, he enjoys and studies the moment, in fact, he puts his everything into the moment. He’s superb at lateral thinking, he thinks outside of the box and comes up with the most amazing (and weird) ideas.

However, this kind of intelligence is not as *tangible* as say, a test result… and we can often see that he gets a little gloomy whenever he compares himself with his big brother’s “high achievements”.

Sigh. It makes me feel so sad and powerless. As a mum, I can only tell him “You’re smart as well, but in a different way!” a couple of hundred times… until it goes in through one ear and out the other.

So I thought I would nurture his creative side a bit… and put my own 5 YEARS OF ART SCHOOL + 3 YEARS OF DESIGN SCHOOL to good use haha!

This is what I came up with.

Art Lessons!

Week 1 – Line drawings and composition, using rule of thirds.

Week 2 – Shading and gradient. Use different materials, like graphite pencils, charcoal sticks, soft pastel, oil pastels.

Today’s Lesson is Week 3 – Doing a still life using soft pastels.

Drawing and Shading 101

In our backyard, we set up a still life composition, using random objects that my son found.

Drawing and Shading 101

We sat side by side and I – kind of – coached him without being too bossy:

Don’t draw a definite line. Draw a feathered line, until you get the right shape. Change your line weight to show where the light falls on the object. Thin lines for the light bits, thick lines for the dark bits. Squint your eyes to find the dark parts of the composition.

He didn’t listen to any of it haha!

Drawing and Shading 101

If my 10yo was doing this drawing project with me, he would draw a line, then rub it out. Draw another line, then rub it out. He would try again and again until he made it PERFECT. He would make himself terribly frustrated and angry that his drawing “looked bad” and he’d be on the brink of giving up.

But my 8yo… just sat there for an hour with me, as happy as could be. Drawing. Doodling. Playing with the lines. Enjoying the shapes. Laughing at his wonky objects. He would occasionally look over at my drawing and say, “That’s cool!” and go right on with his own drawing, in his own style. He was so so content.

Drawing and Shading 101

I opened up my old box of soft pastels (which I won as an art prize in Year 11!!)

And I showed him how to SEE COLOURS within colours:

Your brain says that the wheelbarrow is ”orange”, but if you squint and look veeeeeery closely, you’ll notice that it’s actually red in the shadow and pinkish in the light. The rust is brown with a bit of blue in it too.

I was sooo channelling my inner Monet, and I was COMPLETELY LOVING IT :D

Drawing and Shading 101

I showed him how to shade objects so they looked 3 dimensional.

And how to actually SEE shadows and light as blocks of colour.

Drawing and Shading 101

I also told him that the background is just as important as the foreground. So we have to colour in bits of the background, so the objects don’t look like they are floating in space.

As we approached the end, I kept saying that art is not meant to look perfect. If you want something to look perfect and exact, then you can just take a photo. Art is interpreting what something looks like to YOU.

I told him – So really, you can draw any way you want. There’s not right or wrong way.

Drawing and Shading 101

When he announced that he was finished, there was no shyness, or regret, or apology, or disappointment or anger… just happiness and real pride in his work.

I have to admit that I was quite surprised by his end reaction/emotion.

Because, I felt a bit bad that mine looked quite realistic and “good”. Maybe I should have made mine look a bit more crap?? I was afraid that he would compare our work and hate his own work, and decide that “art” was not for him because he couldn’t make his drawing look like his mum’s drawing. But phew. Thankfully, that kind of thinking wasn’t part of his personality. I was so proud of him!

I told him that I was impressed with his first effort. And more importantly, that he had an excellent attitude towards experimenting, learning new things and he didn’t judge and criticise his own work. He worked hard and he enjoyed himself.

Anyway, it’s been a few weeks after our little “Art Lessons”… and it now seems like this nurturing of his creative side has given him A LOT more confidence in the rest of his school work – he’s been getting some excellent results! Funny how it all works.

So proud of you little buddy!


Callum’s 10th Birthday Party

26 May 2013

My biggest boy turned 10 years old (eeek!) and we recently celebrated the occasion with 8 of his best friends from school.

Callum Turns 10

My husband and I made a Minecraft Cake and it was exactly the same as the one we made last month, for my 8 year old boy haha!

We had planned to correct all the problems of the first cake and perhaps experiment on our techniques to make it look better… but um, we were busy (lazy) and there was a bit of miscommunication (we had an argument) and… so, nope the cake turned out EXACTLY the same.

Callum Turns 10

The party was in our backyard again. The weather was glorious and sunny.

The boys played a whole bunch of games and had a water balloon fight. They had loads of fun.

I filled over 200 water balloons and put them in an huge 50L plastic tub…

Callum Turns 10

But after the water balloon throwing, I made the boys pick up all the balloon bits…

And I was surprised that we couldn’t fill a 500mL Chinese food takeaway container :P

Callum Turns 10

For dinner, I made homemade pizzas for the 8 boys, plus my 3 boys. I was a little shocked by how much food growing boys can eat!

This here was the grand finale – the chocolate pizza. It had a Nutella base, chocolate frogs, shaved chocolate topping and milo sprinkled on top. It was a hit.

As for how I feel about my oldest child turning 10 years old…? Gosh, that is definitely for another post :)


Tropical Paradise and Win a Swarovski Pendant

21 May 2013

Swarovski SS13 Tropical Paradise

I’ve teamed up with Swarovski to bring you all another fabulous giveaway!

The latest Swarovski SS13 Tropical Paradise collection features jewellery in bright, bold and beautiful tropical colours, and cute little creatures like beetles, dragonflies, flamingos (I love these). Do check out their Treasures From Paradise page, where you can cleverly scroll through 32 nice styling outfits and ideas.

We’re giving away this stunning Translucent Beetle Pendant worth $245 (shown above). Scroll down for the details.

Swarovski also sent me a few other pieces (that I picked out) to play with and show off, and here they are…

Swarovski SS13 Tropical Paradise

This is the Toya Necklace. Glittering with oceanic hues of turquoise, light blues and greens, it is clearly inspired by the corals and underwater wonders of the tropics. It definitely made me gasp with delight! I adore its sparkly bling, the weight of it, the colours, and the size of the jewels making the necklace a statement piece indeed.

It went beautifully with my turquoise gown. But I also easily wore it with a black, white, or coral coloured dress.

I’d definitely wear it with a casual white shirt too.

Swarovski SS13 Tropical Paradise

And this is the Triumphal Earrings. So versatile in style, you could wear these babies with anything… and enjoy their big wow factor.

I chose to wear it with a simple white lace dress, emphasising the earring’s romantic yet modern look.

Swarovski SS13 Tropical Paradise

Outfit details:
Turquoise Gown from Birdsnest
Shoes from PeepToe Shoes

White lace dress from Beauties Closet
Shoes from PeepToe Shoes

*WIN a SS13 Swarovski Pendant*
The winner will receive a Swarovski Translucent Beetle Pendant worth $245.
This competition is open to my readers world wide, 16 years or over.

1) Head over to the Swarovski Facebook Page and LIKE the page
2) Email me: swarovski@karencheng.com.au
3) Email Subject: I Have LIKED Swarovski on Facebook
4) Just include your preferred email address so I can contact you if you win!

Please note that by entering this giveaway, you are subscribing to my newsletter.

All entrants will go into a draw, and the winner will be randomly selected and notified via their given email address. You will have 24 hours to reply by email, if not, then a new winner will be randomly selected.

Competition dates: Starts 21 May 2013 – 5 June 2013, 5:00 pm AEDST.

All the best!


Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

14 May 2013

Red Balloon have been providing me with some amazing experiences for me to blog about – experiences that I choose, based on what I’m interested in and what (I believe) my readers would possibly like to try. I’ve been flying, paddling, ballooning, cooking, dining, etc.

One of their top selling experiences, happens to be V8 Car Racing – where you get to drive a super-car around a race track at mind numbing speeds.

Red Balloon have suggested (several times) that I could give the experience a go, but each time I would decline politely. Because I have absolutely NO interest in driving a car very fast, in circles. I’d be bored, dizzy, beyond stressed, and terrified! Why would I do that? Especially when I have the option of choosing a day spa experience!

However, MY HUSBAND loves cars and loves the thrill of speed. He’s a totally unique man with the heart of a typical little boy :) Haha aren’t they all?

So when Red Balloon asked me yet again if I’d like to drive a race car…. this time I proposed that maybe my husband could do the drive? And I can capture the experience for my blog? And who knows, maybe my readers might like to buy this experience for their husbands, or hey, even try it out themselves? They said yes and it was a done deal.

Phew. I got outta that one!

You should have seen the smile on his face when I told him about it. It was his birthday present and his anniversary present all rolled into one :)

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

Anyway, as we drove to the event, he was acting all cool, because of course, he is much too grown-up to be excited like, say an 8 year old boy.

He was matter-of-factly explaining to me car facts… and things like why it is called a “V8″ car – which is apparently because the engine has 8 spark plugs and they are arranged in the shape of a “V”.

Instead of pointing out that I didn’t care, I foolishly asked how the arrangement of the spark plugs could make the car go faster… and unfortunately that led to a long, detailed explanation of how it is not the arrangement of the spark plugs that make the engine powerful, but rather the size of the spark plugs and that the arrangement of them merely makes the powerful engine compact enough to fit inside the car. WHATEVER!

But then he stopped talking – which rarely happens. So I asked him if he was okay. And he said that he was – “getting in the zone”. Eh? I suspect he was actually just trying not to wet his pants with excitement.

We arrived at Barbagallo Raceway in Wanneroo, which is about 15 minutes north of Perth City.

We stepped into a visitor’s lounge, found the registration desks, and got ourselves signed in. Then we mustered on the viewing platform with 50 or so other people, while we waited for our session to start. We watched dozens of cars zoom by. And they all sounded like they were broken… they were so noisy! We were at least 50m from the racetrack, and the cars were so loud that the water in my drink bottle was vibrating!  Even I had to admit, the sound of roaring race cars revved up my adrenalin.

We were greeted by a friendly guy, who led us to our briefing room. Only the drivers needed to attend this briefing, all spectators just waited at the viewing platform or the grandstand. But I was allowed to tag along, because I was taking photos for this blog post. I felt a little special – and totally out of place!

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

25 men (and me) sat down in the briefing room. They were aged from their early 20s to 60s, all wearing sneakers, jeans and big smiles on their faces. Everyone of them looked like an excited 12 year old boy to me :)

The walls of the room were wood-paneled, covered with signatures of famous race drivers, team hats, championship cups, framed photos of car racing guys… it was all very charming in a man-ish way!

The briefing was excellent. The guy in the picture turned out to be Greg, the founder of V8Race, and he was great. He went through the goals of the experience, the particular aspects of driving to focus on, what gears to use at what corners, the track map, showed us a quick video of a typical driving experience… and all their safety protocols.

It was professional, systematic, very (VERY) thorough and at the end of it… even I felt completely confident that I would not crash the car.

My husband was again cool, calm and excited.

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

We walked down to the crew pits on the track. My hubby is the guy in the blue jeans – walking towards fulfilling one of his childhood dreams haha.

Ah the smell of burning rubber and petrol fumes :P

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

As we entered the tent… a team of people helped all the drivers get into their fire-resistant suits, hairnets and helmets.

They were really attentive, constantly giving the divers safety checks and tips.

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

The men lined up and sat down to wait their turn.

We waited too, watching and listening to all the cars blast by. SO LOUD! And when a car pulled up to change drivers… the brakes were so hot from all the braking, that there was smoke coming out of the wheels! The ground was peppered with little tiny bits of black rubber that had been shredded from the tires.  It was all so – extreme.

My husband was going to have the “6 Driving Laps” experience. Whereas some people were having “3 Laps Ride Only ” or “8 Driving Laps ” or even “Drive and Ride 12 lap Combo”.

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

Hooray, when it was my husband’s turn… he was introduced to his driving coach and they hopped into the car.

A crew member helped him get buckled up, briefed him about safety, and then several other people did further safety checks of the safety checks. There were two guys just directing the cars safely in and out of the pits.  It was all very well organised.

The inside of the car was as bare as could be, and most of it was taken up with a huge spiderweb of metal pipes all welded together – the safety cage, in case the car crashes.

He started the engine and then he was off!

While he was having a “slow” warm-up lap, I walked up to the viewing platform to take some action shots.

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

Holy moly! It was soooo loud and fast!

My husband was driving at 240km/hr or something crazy like that!

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

Each time he came by, I could tell he was getting faster and faster.  It was pretty cool to watch.

But I did wonder how they stopped people (like my husband) from crashing the cars!

Red Balloon Experience: V8Race Car Driving

After what seemed like ages (to me), my husband finally finished his last lap and he pulled into his bay.

He stepped out with a HUGE SMILE and looked so so SO thrilled and pleased with the whole thing.

Just like a sports journalist, I was immediately in his face asking, “So how do you feel?!”

Well… no more Mr Cool. He described it as a SENSATIONAL experience! Bloody brilliant! He would definitely do it again. It was one of the best experiences he’s ever had, ranked alongside swimming with whale sharks! Best. Present. Ever. So good, he would do it AGAIN!

And I stood there dumbly, going “Are you serious?! For real?! Driving around in circles?! Wow. Ok.” — I just do not understand!

But you know what, I guess I don’t have to understand… I was so happy to see him soooooo happy! :)

My hubby also discovered from his coach that the coach has an emergency brake and engine-kill switch – so that is how, if it all goes wrong, nobody gets hurt. The coach literally teaches the driver how to go faster and faster during the session, and makes sure that, if it is necessary for one car to pass another, that this is done safely.

We also purchased a USB in-car recording which shows a view of the whole thing from inside the car (which was very cool), and there is also a souvenir framed photo.

This experience is perfect for guys (or girls who love cars!) as gifts for significant birthdays, anniversaries or any special occasion! V8Race is Australia wide, with experiences available in VIC, NSW, WA, SA and NT.

It was a fantastic experience!

And I drove home, at a very comfortable 60km/hr, thank you very much.

.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.

The team at Red Balloon are offering my readers a special promotion!

Receive $30 off when you spend $129 or more on ANY experience.

To redeem: Visit www.redballoon.com.au and enter the promotional code REDKC13 at the checkout to receive your discount.

Terms and Conditions: Offer valid until 31/12/13. Promotional Code can only be used once per person. All purchases are subject to RedBalloon T&Cs, for full details read here.


Win a $1000 Shopping Spree thanks to Berlei Dig Free Hosiery

3 May 2013

(This post is sponsored by Berlei)

Berlei Dig Free Hosiery

Berlei have launched a new range of products, called Dig Free Hosiery, which has a seam-free and smoothing waistband, aimed to increase comfort and reduce the lines visible under your clothes.

With the onset of winter, I have thoroughly tested a pair of Dig-Free opaque tights. After wearing them for a few consecutive days, I thought they were really comfortable. The waistband is similar to the top of yoga pants – which is nice. It was not super tight like shapewear, which I find squeezes firmly into my tummy, and after a few hours, I’ve had enough and I want to take them off (especially when I want to eat!).

The seamless waistband felt soft, snug and firm. They looked great and I felt like I could go all day in them.

The Shopping Spree
To celebrate the new range, Berlei is giving away an awesome $1000 Shopping Spree!

They want to know: What is your favourite go-to outfit when you are trying to turn a “bad day” into a “good day”?

For me, a bad day is when I wake up and… my skin is gross, my hair is a disaster, my back aches, I have a headache and well… I just feel like crap. And I haven’t even had breakfast yet.

But a part of me refuses to be defeated. I try to pep myself up. I go through the motions of having a shower and brushing my teeth. I reach for my good moisturizer. I wear my nice undies. I wear my nicest daytime bra. And?

I plan to wear a great outfit.

I reach for the dress that makes me smile. The top that brings the *perfect* amount of sparkle and colour to my complexion. The skirt makes me feel like a million bucks. The pair of jeans hug me in all the right places.

My Go-To Outfit

To explore this idea further, Berlei gave me a bit of spending money ($500!) to put together and style my ideal “go-to outfit”.

I spent about 2 weeks doing “shopping research” – looking endlessly through online shops, lookbooks, catalogues and going instore to little boutiques and big department stores. I like to be very thorough with my shopping and styling… it took me ages, but it was fun!

The biggest question for shopping on a budget… Do I splurge the whole $500 on ONE designer item? Or spend it on 3 or 4 $100 – $150 statement pieces?

I went for the middle ground… and bought 2 fantastic designer items that I could wear and use again and again.

Sass & Bide Dress

1) Sass & Bide Post No Bills Dress

I adore practically everything that comes from Sass & Bide! I wish I could own everything in their latest and past collections. Not to mention I have serious style envy whenever the designers, Heidi and Sarah, step out dressed head-to-toe in their own clothes. Gah talk about girl style crush!

So when I spotted this dress at $290, down from $490, I knew I found the winner. I *knew* that I would get a huge, fun, fashion buzz whenever I wore that dress. Bad day be gone!

The fabric is gorgeous, flowing silk. The print is bold and quirky. It’s black and white, so it is versatile and I will get a lot of wears out of it. And it has these two petal layers that float and swish around the dress.

But the best thing about it – it can be worn as a dress and a top. Woo hoo!

Marc Jacobs Bag

Paired with leather pants, black heels and statement accessories – wayhey, there you go, I’ve found my perfect go-to outfit :)

2) Marc by Marc Jacobs Classic Q Isabelle Bag

Yup, my second item is a Marc by Marc Jacobs cross body leather bag, in citrus. I’ve been looking for a new, brightly coloured, small bag… just to carry my keys, purse, phone and lippy. And this one was peerfect!!

It is sold at Net-a-Porter, but I bought it from Shopbop, for $184 (down from $230 – because I had a special 20% discount). It pays to shop around!

3) Colette Colour Stone Necklace

Colette Neckalce

And with the spare $26, I also picked up this crazy rainbow bling necklace.

So that was my $500 spent, or as I prefer to think of it, INVESTED, in my wardrobe. But if you win the competition, you get $1000 to spend :)

Enter To Win a $1000 Shopping Spree

The winner will receive a cash prize of $1000 to spend on the wardrobe of their choice.

This competition is open to residents of Australia aged 18 years or over. Sorry everyone else!

*This competition is now closed!*

The winning entry will be selected based on the passion and creativity of the answer provided.

Please read all terms and conditions.

Competition dates: Starts 3rd May 2013 – 24 May 2013, 5:00 pm AEDST.

All the best to everyone!

xxx


A Northbridge Outing with Mr Serious

2 May 2013

When my other two children were younger, I would take them out a lot! Almost everyday I’d take them to different parks around town, the river, the beach, libraries, art galleries, cafes, shopping malls… and they would be filled with such happy, wide-eyed wonder of the world.

My third child is a bit different.

He thinks things are just so-so. He whinges a bit. He sighs a lot. He complains that the air is too cold and the sun is too sunny. He would rather just sit at his drawing table at home and write out the alphabet, in upper case letters, backwards.

So I try to make an effort to take him out… and to help him lighten up a bit.

This particular day, we caught the train into the city for a day trip.

I have taken my other children on the train before, but not Liam. He was – surprisingly – very excited! He pressed the buttons to buy the tickets. We waited at the platform. Looked at the tracks. Watched the clock. The anticipation was exciting!

But when the train rolled in, he was quite disappointed and pointed out that it wasn’t a train because it didn’t have a round face and eyes (like Thomas the Tank Engine) and it was in fact a bus on tracks.

We stopped at the city and took a walk to the Perth Cultural Centre.

Northbridge Outing with Liam 2013

Outside the WA Museum there is a little play space, filled with interactive musical artworks for children.

There is also a lovely little mural on the ground… and I said to Liam “Hey lets pretend to be frogs and jump into the water!”

He was happy to be a frog, but he refused to jump “into” the water, even though it was just a painting of water. And said that frogs only live on the lily pads.

Sigh.

Northbridge Outing with Liam 2013

Then I saw a cute climbing sculpture of a gecko. I said, “Hey let’s make a deal. I kiss the gecko and you take a photo of me. Then YOU kiss the gecko and I’ll take a photo of you! That’ll be hilarious!”

He was not keen at all. He grumbled at me and he gave me a looong lecture about kissing objects in public.

Whatever kid.

Northbridge Outing with Liam 2013

We went into the WA Museum and discovered a whole lot of great hands-on activities for children.

There was a table full of clear perspex blocks, with insects specimens inside, and there were microscopes and magnifying glasses for kids to examine the bugs. Liam was quite interested in them and found a few non-threatening looking bugs to hold.

I found a scorpion and said, “Hey you know these look like ice blocks! Let’s pretend to eat them! Nom nom nom!”

I swear the kid rolled his eyes at me – Will you grow up mum?!?

Northbridge Outing with Liam 2013

We did a bit of craft at the Museum (which Liam enjoyed) and then we left, looking for some food.

We bought a ham, cheese and spinach croissant to share and sat under the trees at the Cultural Centre Wetlands.

It was a gorgeous afternoon! But of course it was too sunny for my 4 year old.

Another lecture from Mr Serious!

Northbridge Outing with Liam 2013

Later we took a walk through Northbridge and I went to visit a friend, who owns the fab little boutique, Tu Boutique, filled with lots of clothes, bags, accessories, gifts and toys.

There were lots of good stuff to look at, so I plonked Liam on the floor to examine the toy shelf, while I had a browse.

Northbridge Outing with Liam 2013

My current leather wallet is 3-4 years old now and it’s falling apart. So I for the last few weeks I have been looking for a replacement.

I found this lovely, long wallet in a bright orange, by Status Anxiety. The design was minimal yet modern, one button closure, one fold stlye, big zip compartment, and the leather was soft and smooth. Perfect! And it was only $65! I was so happy.

Northbridge Outing with Liam 2013

At the rear of Tu boutique, they run Tea For Tu, a little tea parlour, where you can have a coffee with fresh cupcakes, pastries, tarts and macarons. The table settings are outside, under sails, with a cool bunch of retro antique furniture. I loved it!

I had a cup of soy chai tea and a pastry, while Liam ate a lemon tea cake. We sat on the couch and chilled out for an hour or so.

Thankfully, Liam’s mood lifted considerably and he was looking forward to the train ride home.

Overall, I had a pretty relaxed day with my 4 year old, even though we talked non-stop the whole time.

I’m going to miss my little buddy when he goes to school full-time next year!


Mr Two Wheeler

29 April 2013

So my youngest son turned 4 years old recently… and he now knows how to ride a proper pedal bike, with no training wheels!!

Two Wheeler

He was so sooo proud, excited and terrified!!

And me? I was proud, excited and terrified too!!

My husband kept insisting that he was ready. But I could hardly believe it. I kept thinking… Isn’t he a bit young to do this? I don’t think he’s ready for this?! He’s my last child and HE’S JUST A BABY FOR GODS SAKE!!

But he did it. And he was great at it :)

Sooo… the most embarrassing thing about this BIG EVENT… was that er… *THE MOMENT* actually happened over 2 weeks ago… and I didn’t record *THE MOMENT* on any picture taking device. My bad. Big, big bad.

I think for my first son, I recorded video and took photos of the “first time he rode with two wheels”. For my second son, I took lots of photos. But my third? None. For two weeks.

*Oh the shame!*

A huge Three-Child-Parenting-Fail right there!

(In my defense, I don’t walk or run in the park with my iphone anymore. So I don’t have my camera handy when these things happen :P)


Black Wedge Sneakers

25 April 2013

Wedge Sneakers

Look what I got! Black wedge sneakers! And they look aaaawesome!

When this style of shoe came out last year, I decided they were not for me.

I tried on a beige pair in the shops – I was wearing denim shorts at the time – and I just felt like I was trying too hard to be a 13 year old :P

Instead I have been happy with wearing my Black Converse Chuck Taylors Hi Tops. I’ve had them for years. They are pretty classic in style, very comfortable to wear and I guess everybody wears them nowadays.

So when my Chucks finally died a few months ago (I wore a hole through the heel, so my socks got wet if I stepped in a puddle!), I thought I’d try something different for this coming winter.

Black Wedge Sneakers

I picked these Black Wedge Sneakers up from YesStyle, they are by a Korean designer called Lee Han Na (45SEVEN) and they are much more affordable than those offered by the designer labels – they are on sale at the moment!

They are made from genuine leather, with lovely details, good cushioning, and they feel very comfortable. I can go all day in them, and I hardly notice the height of the heel, because the shoe is all wrapped up, snug around my ankles. If I were to be a bit picky, the join where the soles meet the upper leather, is a bit lumpy at certain parts and it doesn’t create a perfectly smooth line haha.

Basically, this is a great SMART CASUAL shoe that I can wear with my jeans in winter.

They are a really nice change from my leather ankle boots and knee high boots – that I practically live in during winter.

They also go so well with the sporty luxe look that I’m currently loving too (well, they are sneakers after all).

I love that they give me a bit of height too.

And I don’t think I’d go for the beige version, as I still feel that I might be “trying too hard” :)

*I’m a size AUD6 for boots and sneakers, and I chose the Korean shoe size 230mm. And they fit me perfectly!

Wedge Sneakers

If you want to look around a bit more, Country Road sells a Suede Wedge Sneaker (pictured left) for $99. But good luck trying to find them your size!

And ASOS sells the Ash Bowie Wedge Trainers (pictured right), which are a bit pricier. I think they sell this style over at Shopbop too.

Anyway, do you think you’re going to embrace the wedge sneaker this winter?!


(No Added Sugar) Date and Walnut Loaf Recipe

24 April 2013

(No Added Sugar) Date and Walnut Loaf Recipe

I actually published this recipe on my blog about 8 years ago!

And I’m still using the recipe as it is – however my techniques have changed a bit, such as, I melt the butter instead of creaming it with a hand mixer.

This loaf is a delicious to serve with afternoon tea. It is best eaten WARM. So make sure you reheat it, if it gets cold.

My children like to eat it with a smear of butter on top and a drizzle of honey.

Or if you’re feeling a bit indulgent, heat up the date loaf until its piping hot and serve it with vanilla ice cream – insane yumminess!

(No Added Sugar) Date and Walnut Loaf Recipe

225g dried dates
pinch of bicarb soda
150ml of water
75g butter
1 medium sized egg
225g SR flour
75g walnuts, chopped
¼ cup of other random chopped nuts or seeds
handful of roughly chopped nuts and sunflower seeds

1. Heat oven to 180ºC. Grease and line the base of a loaf tin.

2. Chop the dates put into a small saucepan, with water and bicarb soda. Simmer and stir for 2 minutes, then let it cool.

3. Melt butter and let it cool for a bit. Stir in the egg.

4. Add in cooled date mixture. Stir in sifted flour, walnuts and ¼ of other nuts or seeds. (In the photo above, I used pepitas.)

5. Pour mixture evenly in the tin. Sprinkle top with extra nuts and seeds. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes until skewer comes out clean.

Enjoy!


Talking About My Armpits – Dove Pure Deodorant

19 April 2013

This post is sponsored by Nuffnang

Dove Pure Review

For the last two weeks, I have been road testing the new Dove Pure – a deodorant that says it has no parabens, no colourants, no ethyl alcohol and no fragrance.

It applies like any regular roll on deodorant. It’s nice and creamy when going on, and there’s no smell whatsoever.

After a few minutes I can slip on a black t-shirt and it doesn’t leave any white marks. Throughout the day, there is no itchiness, dryness, or irritation. I go to the gym, run and cycle and I don’t stink. It’s all good.

Best thing about it: There is ZERO fragrance.

Over the years, I have used Clarins Deodorant (which yes, is a bit of a splurge for deodorant), then I switched to just buying whatever was on sale at the supermarket.

I’ve become so used to having a faint smell of “Ocean Fresh” or “Cucumber and Green Tea” or “Jasmine and Wild Rose” and now that I think about it, those fragrances sound more like air fresheners or toilet cleaners :P

So to have zero smell in my armpits… is such a cool and unusual thing.

At the end of the day, I just smell like nice, clean, fresh skin.

And I know that because during my testing of the product (which I take very seriously thank you very much), I would – to my husband’s delight and dismay – take my top off at random moments and take a deep whiff of my armpits and sigh dramatically, “AHHH IT’S JUST ALL ME!”

This means, I can wear my perfumes (that I paid good money for) and not have clashing smells.

So… it gets two thumbs up from me. I like it :)

Dove Hamper Giveaway

To celebrate the launch of Dove Pure, the kind folks at Dove are giving away a special hamper worth $120, consisting of –

2 x Dove Men & Women Shampoo, 2 x Dove Men & Women Conditioner, Dove Face Scrub, 2 x Dove Bar 2 Pack, Dove Men Face Cleanser, Dove Pure Roll On, Dove Pure Anti-Perspirant Spray, Dove Men Roll On, Dove Men Anti-Perspirant, Dove Facial Foam, Dove Summer Glow Body Lotion, Dove Body Lotion, Dove Women Bodywash, Dove Hair Treatment, Dove Clinical Deodorant and Dove Moisturiser.

Just do the following!

1) Email me at dovepure@karencheng.com.au
2) Email Subject: Give Me Some Dove Love!
3) Answer this question: What kind of activities will you be doing while wearing Dove Pure deodorant?

The winner will be the entry deemed most creative by the judges!

This giveaway is open to Australian residents only, over the age of 14 years.
Giveaway ends 24 April 2013, 5:00 pm AEDST.

Please read more terms and conditions here.


Living Without Her

18 April 2013

My mother-in-law passed away in December, aged 81.  Her name was Sheila.

So my family has been learning how to be a family without her.

All these important dates keep happening…. Christmas, New Year, Easter, kid’s birthdays. At each event, I automatically set a place for her at the table, then I realise she won’t be here… and so I move the place settings around again.

This week, it would have been her 82nd birthday.

And as a way of celebrating Sheila’s life, I have decided to share some pictures of her, when she was about the age I am now.

Living Without Her - Sheila

Check it out – 1960′s glamour! So confident and sexy!

Here, she is in her 30s. She had two babies, and another two to go.  A woman in the very midst of building her family and living her life. Her husband is the lucky guy taking the photo. No wonder they had two more babies after this :)

Living Without Her - Sheila

And this is her and her 4 kids a few years later in the 70s. They were getting onto a ship to migrate to Australia, to start a whole new phase of their life. It took WEEKS to travel by boat from Scotland to Australia.

My husband, Andrew, is the second smallest kid in the photo (second from the right), and he is 5 years old here. Here he looks EXACTLY like my youngest son, Liam!

Living Without Her - Sheila

And here is Sheila with Andrew, when he was 7 years old. Such a beautiful mother and child photo.

Happy Birthday to you Sheila, and thank you for… everything.


Snorkelling at Mettam’s Pool

17 April 2013

My husband and I are seasoned snorkelers and we were keen to take the kids out for some underwater exploration. We tried once before, but they were too young.  Since then, they have much more confidence in the water.

We chose Mettham’s Pool, a lovely little beach with a surrounding reef that creates a protected and calm pool in the ocean. It’s great place to take little kids, as the pool is protected from big waves and it’s a good spot for first time snorkelers, as the reef houses lots of things to see. The only problem with it is that it is right in the middle of the Perth metro area, and so it is VERY popular.

Snorkeling in Perth

I pulled my old scuba diving gear out of deep, deeeeep storage – Hello old friends! It’s been 5 years since I’ve seen you! I’m surprised your rubbery bits haven’t melted and molded into one disgusting puddle of black goo!

Snorkeling in Perth

I also brought along my underwater camera – a Nikon Coolpix AW100 – so I could take some snaps. I was sooo excited.

I’ve never taken real underwater pictures of fish before! Or coral! Or seaweed!

(Actually… when I went swimming with whale sharks in 2001, I bought a disposable underwater camera, but the photos were very meh and blurry.)

Snorkeling in Perth

As my eyes slowly got used to the underwater light, I looked around and there were fish everywhere! I have no idea what they were called.

They were swimming happily, around me, and between all the people in the water.

Snorkeling in Perth

Then I looked down and saw these larger fish dawdling along the bottom of the reef. They were so pretty.

Again I have no idea what they are called. Any ideas? Are they good to eat?

Snorkeling in Perth

And as I moved closer and closer to the reef, I saw the little details start to emerge… crabs, little fish, shells and seaweed dancing and swaying in the water.

Snorkeling in Perth

I dived down, deep into the water and looked up at my kids swimming above me.

Sunlight streaming down, between bubbles, between floating in things in the water.

It was so peaceful to bob up and down in the water, be still, and watch all the LIFE surrounding me.

And it was great to see the two bigger boys finally getting how cool is all the stuff in the ocean.

Yay for snorkeling!


Homemade Lasagne with Kraft Extra Light Cheese (And Win a Trip to Thailand!)

16 April 2013

I have been kindly sponsored by Kraft and Nuffnang, to whip up my favourite homemade family meal – road testing the new Kraft Livefree Cheese, launched earlier this month.

(And I’m announcing a new competition where you can win a trip to Thailand courtesy of Kraft. Scroll down for details.)

This new cheese is all-Australian made, using natural ingredients, and has only 5.5% fat. According to Kraft, it is Australia’s lowest fat TASTY cheese (when compared to Australia’s leading light tasty cheese brands).

This was good timing for me… because I was hosting a big family dinner party that week and I promised everyone that I would make MY FAMOUSLY DELICIOUS LASAGNE.

Well, it’s famous in our house… and since I am the only person who cooks lasagne around here, you can be sure that everyone thinks it’s the best lasagne recipe evaaaaah.

Kraft Live Free Cheese

When you eat it on its own, the cheese has a nice mild flavour and it’s still zingy like tasty cheese.

It’s not crumbly, it holds together well, and most importantly, it’s extra low fat… especially when you consider how much of this block I am going to use in my lasagne! *sheepish laugh*

Kraft Live Free Cheese

I gathered all my ingredients for my meat sauce.

I’m making a HUGE lasagne, one big enough to feed 10 people. My dish is 37cm long and 25cm wide and 7cm deep. Huge. So I had to increase my portions accordingly.

Lasagne Meat Sauce Recipe

3 brown onions, finely diced
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
1 kg of premium lean beef mince
2 medium carrots, finely diced
½ a large zucchini, grated
875g of tomato paste (I would have used 2x 500g, but I bought the wrong bottle!)
1 cube of beef stock
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 bay leaves

Kraft Live Free Cheese

Heat oil. Fry up onions and garlic, until golden. Cook meat, stir well until browned. Stir in tomato paste, stock cube, bay leaves. Bring to boil. Stir in zucchini. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes, semi covered. Occasionally stir.

Kraft Live Free Cheese

Bechamel Sauce (or cheese sauce)
100g butter, chopped
½ cup plain flour
1L low fat milk, warmed
125g coarsely grated Kraft Livefree Cheese
Tiny pinch of ground nutmeg

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour. Keep stirring for 2 minutes.

Remove from heat. Gradually add in milk, bit by bit, constantly stirring until the mixture is smooth.

Return to heat, keep stirring until sauce thickens. Add in cheese and nutmeg, keep stirring until mixture is smooth. Add in more milk if the sauce is too thick and gooey. Keep the consistency like thickened cream.

Kraft Live Free Cheese
Behold, my very large lasagne dish.

I lightly greased the dish, and placed a lasagne sheet down for the base. I prefer using fresh lasagne sheets, as I find they are easier to cut to size, and they cook faster.

Kraft Live Free Cheese

For 1st layer: Spoon on the meat sauce (using 1/3 of the meat sauce), some blanched spinach, 1/4 of the cheese sauce, and lasagne sheets.

2nd layer: Another 1/3 of meat sauce, spinach, cheese sauce and lasagne sheets.

3rd layer: Rest of the meat sauce, spinach, (no cheese!) and lasagne sheets.

Top layer: Pour all the remaining cheese sauce on top. And cover with a bit more grated cheese and a sprinkle of parmesan.

Kraft Live Free Cheese

Pop into 200C oven for 20 minutes until the top is golden brown.

If you need to, blast it under the grill to get the cheese on top to bubble and crisp.

Whoa, it was the largest lasagne I’ve ever made. It was EPIC!

Kraft Live Free Cheese

Cut up and serve hot!

It smelt sooooo good.

Kraft Live Free Cheese

And it tasted AMAZING!

It was so soft, creamy, rich, salty and cheesey.

And the cheese sauce did not taste like it was made from extra light cheese. It tasted great and everyone was very, very happy about it :)

Yay I felt like such a kitchen hero.

*OMG WIN a Trip to Thailand!*

Kraft is hosting an Instagram competition. To enter, simply upload a photo on your Instagram of how you ‘live free’ and use the hashtag #KraftLivefree.

By “living free” I interpret this as – How do you like to break the rules? How do you like to get away from the hassles of life? What do you like to do that makes you feel alive and free? Sounds like fun and damn I wish I could enter!

You can enter as many times as you like :)

The winner will be the entry deemed MOST CREATIVE by the judges and this is what they will win:

A trip for 2 to Thaliand
- Return flights to Phuket from an Australian capital city),
- 7 nights accommodation in Khao Lak at The Best Western Premier, a stylish 4.5-star new hotel in this picturesque beach region north of Phuket, Thailand
- Return Airport transfer
- Daily breakfasts + high speed internet included
- Valid for stays from 15 April 2013 to 31 October 2013

Winners will be notified directly through Instagram by Nuffnang (so keep a look out in your Instagram comments!)

Only open to Australian residents, aged 16 years and over.

Competition starts 16th April 2013 and will continue until 11.59 pm AEST on 15 May 2013

Please read all the terms and conditions here.

Good luck!

(And if you like, you can follow me on Instagram @karenlycheng)


A Minecraft Birthday Cake

11 April 2013

Minecraft Birthday Cake

Look what my husband and I made on the weekend – a Minecraft Grass Block cake!

We threw a kid’s party for my 8 year old son… and his favourite thing in the world (at the moment) is Minecraft, so the whole party was in a Minecraft theme.

If you’re not too sure what Minecraft is… it’s the latest game craze for children between 6 – 12 years old (or bigger kids headed more towards 35 years old). It’s a computer game that lets you build things out of blocks. You have to mine for resources (wood, metals, rock or animal skins) and you can build structures and things, unlimited by your own imagination. It’s quite cool.

My boys have discovered things like… how obsidian is formed, that glass is made by adding heat to sand, you have to melt metal ore in order to shape it into things.

Anyway, it has inspired a plethora of children’s cake designs, which is highly fascinating in itself, check it out on Google Images. So I decided to have a go at my own design.

However.

When I announced to my husband that I was going to make a Minecraft cake…he instantly became way too interested in the design and implementation plan. Soon he wanted to be a part of it too and I was not happy, because I ALREADY HAD A PLAN.

We locked our creative horns again, like when we made a Lego Head Mask for my son.

After a few days of brain clashes and artistic skirmishes, the fact that we were running out of time forced us to reluctantly work as a team.

He was in charge of the construction of the cake. I was in charge of decorating it.

I had planned to bake only 2 cakes, to join together,  so the grass slab would be rectangular, rather than a cube.

But my husband wanted to make 4 cakes, so it would BE a cube. Which is a closer representation of the actual grass block in the game. Whatever!

4 FREAKING MUDCAKES? GAH I was very opposed to the sheer wastage of ingredients.

But of course, part of our “working together deal” was that I would ZIP MY MOUTH SHUT on these matters :P

Minecraft Birthday Cake

12 free ranged eggs were used in the making of these cakes, 1L of sunflower oil and omg don’t even ask me how much dark chocolate we used.

We made them one by one. Over 2 days and 2 nights.

My husband glued the 4 cakes together with jam, then he trimmed the sides of the block to make them straight.

Unfortunately the sheer density and weight of the cakes compressed the whole block down, so in the end the dimensions were not exactly a square cube.

I was going to mention that he could just trim more off the sides to make the dimensions correct, but you know, I was MOUTH-ZIPPED-SHUT. Anyway, that would have thrown my decorating dimensions out.

Minecraft Birthday Cake

He mixed the cake off-cuts with chocolate frosting and “cement rendered” the sides to make them nicely flat.

My husband is superb at handyman stuff like carpentry, tiling, brick laying, using grout, plastering, rendering… so is was very entertaining to watch him solve “baking” problems with “handyman” solutions.

On the other hand, I have very poor handyman building skills, but I make up for it with my wicked art, craft, design and cooking skillz yo  (I like to think).

Suffice to say, we had a lot of hilarious banter going back and forth late at night.

Minecraft Birthday Cake

For the decoration, I bought a 1L tub of premixed, ready to roll fondant ($24) in a pale green.

Prior to this, I had already tried and tested a tiling technique, where I would mix 5 different shades of green fondant, roll them out, cut them into squares, arrange them in a random pattern, then lay them on the cake like bathroom tiles. But that was sooooo fiddly, as the fondant was too soft to work with, so the squares were too wonky and the result looked awful.

Minecraft Birthday Cake

After a lot of careful measurements, I rolled out the fondant and drew up a grid using a cutting knife.

Minecraft Birthday Cake

I cut the edges off in a random cube pattern.

And cut a faint grid pattern over the top.

Minecraft Birthday Cake

My husband frosted the cake with chocolate frosting, and I lay my fondant carefully over the top.

I was not particularly happy with the fondant. It was too soft and elastic for what I wanted. If I tried to add more icing sugar, it just got too crumbly and brittle. So I just had to go with it.  The biggest problem was that the sheer weight of the fondant crushed down the sharp edges of the cake, so instead of the fondant folding neatly over the edge, it all just smooshed down in an unsightly sag. CRAPP!

I also wasn’t happy with the way my cuts in the fondant had stretched at the edges of the cake, leaving big gapping grooves. But whatever, it still looked ok.

Minecraft Birthday Cake

I bought some green and yellow food colouring and mixed a palette of 5 shades of green.

And yes, I hand painted all the green squares!

When I was halfway through the painting, I looked up at the clock and saw that it was 11:57pm. I burst out laughing – I WAS NOW ONE OF THOSE CRAZY PARENTS, who stay up till midnight making birthday cakes for my children haha!!

The painting bit was quite easy. It only took me 30 minutes to do. And it was the fun part.

When it was completed, thought it looked great. I was really proud of our work. My husband was right about making it a cube shape. And yes, I told him so.

However, if I were to be really picky, I think the variations of the shades of green were too different, and I could have made them look a lot closer to the computer game. If I had more time!

Minecraft Birthday Cake

Behold! This was the result!

We decorated the bottom with crumbled chocolate biscuits and broken kitkats.

It looked awesome! My children LOVED IT!

Everyone oooh and ahhhed over it.

And it tasted delicious too.

Minecraft Birthday Cake

We had 12 boys at the party. We set up a huge bouncy castle and slide in our backyard, we turned on the sprinklers, set up a paddle pool at the bottom of the slide, we gave the boys water balloons to throw at each other. It was a great party!

However, 12 boys only ate ONE QUARTER of the cake! What were we going to do with the rest of it?!

Thankfully, my husband cut the remaining cake into huge slabs and gave them away to the parents who came to pick up their kids. Phew!

Minecraft Jelly Cups

In addition to the cake and a table full of party food, I also made Minecraft Jelly Cups – yes my own creation!

Instead of a plain old jelly cup, I put chocolate “dirt” under the green jelly and buried chocolate blocks in the dirt, so the person eating could kind of “mine” for their treat.

Anyway, I have always wanted to make CHOCOLATE BISCUIT DIRT… and this seemed like a good opportunity as any!

Minecraft Jelly Cups

I whizzed up a packet of chocolate biscuits and chocolate Oreos in my food processor.

Then I threw in some chocolate chips and mixed away.

Minecraft Jelly Cups

I filled up some jelly cups with my chocolate dirt.

Minecraft Jelly Cups

I made 2 packets of lime green jelly. Popped it into the fridge over night. Then I cut them into rough cube shapes.

I worked out that if the jelly sat on the biscuit dirt base for too long, it would soften dirt and make it go soggy and slushy.

So I had to wait until I was just about to serve it, spoon all the jelly on top, decorate it with a mini flake chocolate, then serve.

The kids thought it was so cool to eat dirt and find bits of chocolate buried in the dirt.

So it was another success!

ANYWAY. The result of all this… is that my other big biggest boy turns 10 years old tomorrow. We are going to have a party for him and his friends in a few weeks time, and HE WANTS EXACTLY THE SAME MINECRAFT THEME FOR HIS PARTY.

Another Minecraft cake? For real? My husband and I looked at each other and shared an quiet chuckle. Because we both *actually* want to do it again, correct our mistakes, fine tune our technique, and do it better next time.

Bring it on :)


Herding Fish and Other Life Skills

1 April 2013

Easter River Walk

My two big boys. Showing a bit of brotherly love. Sharing Easter eggs and fishing techniques, while wading through the muddy sand banks of the river.

They made hand-held nets out of Y shaped sticks and woven rope. They tried to make spears. And fish traps. No success.

We found a little lagoon.

I rolled my jeans up to my knees and showed them how to herd the schools of little fish into the mouth of the lagoon. I tried to direct them as we all chased the fish around in circles. We ran like crazy sheep dogs, stomping through knee deep water. No no, run to your OTHER LEFT! We laughed and laughed. Those silly fish! We were terrible fishermen.

Thank goodness we had those Easter eggs.


Stepping Up For A Bum Of Steel

31 March 2013

I’ve been cycling regularly for a few years now and it’s my main form of cardio and aerobic exercise.

However, I suspected that my muscles were getting a little lazy and programed to just work in one way…. so I’ve thrown something a little different into my mix: RUNNING.

On my first running attempt, I walked out of my house and ran down the footpath headed towards my local park. It was only 200m, I was running at a good pace, and it took me less than 2 minutes (I think) to get to the park, but I was sooooo exhausted! My brains were about to explode, my legs were jelly, my ankles felt swollen, and I was literally about to collapse! I was stopped by the side of the road, bent over, holding my knees, red-faced, huffing and puffing… and LAUGHING!

I thought to myself – OMG this is soooo hard! I cycled 70kms a few days ago! I’m supposed to be quite fit?! How can I not be able to run?! This is absurd!

So everyday now, when my husband comes home from work in the evening, I steal 30 minutes away for a quick run. Er, it’s actually more like a “walk around the park”, with a bit of running here and there.

But you know what? I love pushing myself. And then discovering (very quickly the next day!) that I can run for longer distances and for longer amounts of time. And it doesn’t hurt so much anymore.

It’s been 5 days, and I can now run the 200m without any pain in my legs or any exhaustion whatsoever. In fact, I don’t think my heart rate goes up very much now.

Baby steps towards my first 5km run!

Speaking of steps… my girlfriend and I met up to give Jacob’s Ladder a go :)

Jacob's Ladder Perth

Jacob’s Ladder is set of steps at Kings Park – famous in Perth to runners, trainers and general fit people.

There are 242 steps, literally on the side of the 45m cliff. They were first built in the early 1900s as wooden steps, and they were replaced by concrete steps in the 1960s.

On the weekends, it’s a really popular spot for people wanting a kick ass workout.

Jacob's Ladder Perth

The view at the top of Jacob’s Ladder (Cliff Street) is pretty amazing too. You can stand at the top and look out over the Swan River and Perth city.

Kings Park is one of my favourite places to exercise – mainly because of the sweeping views, the lovely parks, the smooth road (with few cars) and the hills (for cycling).

Bike and Pink Shoes

I decided to cycle into Kings Park.

Cycle then climb some steps! Hey I was up for a challenge!

I wore my cycling shorts, with a running top and running shoes. I felt really dorky on my bike. I felt completely mismatched.

Not to mention, I was wearing my cycling pants (which are heavily padded!), while climbing the stairs, so I was feeling really, really dorky! Like a waddling duck with a big puffy bum!

My girlfriend and I were both Jacob’s Ladder virgins. We’ve never done it before. We were a bit scared. But we gave it a good go.

First round: We walked down and up Jacob’s Ladder really slowly.

Second round: Ran all the way down and up. I got stuck behind some people who were walking it… which was a good thing, because I was getting a bit sore.

Third time: I ran down and up again. This time faster, and I dodged the walking people. I was really sore, my legs were burning and I was out of breath at the end.

However, after I walked around a bit, I felt fine. I cycled around the Kings Park hills a few times, before heading home.

All up, I cycled 40kms and did 3 rounds of the ladder. Yay!

Next time no more puffy bum pants! Look out for my bum of steel!


My Littlest Boy Turns Four

26 March 2013

Liam Turns 4

My little Liam turns 4 years old this week… and aaah just look at his cheeky grin and his beautiful bright eyes!

If I were to compare all three of my kids at the age of 4, Liam is by far the brightest, most eloquent, and most academically advanced. His teacher told me that he has the learning capability and focus of a 5 year old. He can read simple sentences, he can spell basic words using his knowledge of phonics, can count to 50 unassisted, and can do basic addition and subtraction. Yep, he’s a smart kid.

But what I’m more proud of… is that Liam loves to learn things. Academic things. He likes to talk about maths and spelling questions for fun.

He’s also very confident. He knows what he likes, and he prefers things to be a certain way. He’s particular and a bit precious.

When Liam is by himself – with just me or my husband – he is a wonderful little boy.

He is so warm, polite, sweet, considerate, and funny (really funny!). He’s fun to talk to and actually listens to what you are trying to teach him and he asks really good questions. He’s gorgeously affectionate (more so than his other brothers) and dishes out the sweetest comments and cuddles ever.

He is a *joy* to hang around with. Even my own mum and dad can’t contain their delight when he and I go to visit them, they are completely enamoured by him. His personality just seems to brighten up the room, and everyone’s lives :)

Liam Turns 4

However, on the other hand…

When he is with his brothers…. Liam is really naughty.

He constantly seeks attention, he always ALWAYS teases and provokes his brothers, he’s really loud and shouty, he wants to be where the action is, he wants to be the centre of attention, he has very little regard for their things (or anyone’s things!), he smashes stuff up, he draws on furniture (and walls, carpet, bed sheets!), he terrorises everyone in the house :(

Every afternoon (after school from 3 – 5pm) if Liam is roaming around the house – bored, with nothing to do – my house turns into a war zone. Everyone ends up in tears, including me. No matter how hard I try to organise the afternoon, it always ends up as a disaster.

For example, one time I tried to get my oldest boy (who is very responsible and nurturing) and Liam to put together afternoon tea as a sort of teaching/learning activity… this gave my middle boy an opportunity to start his homework on the dining table. All they had to do was get some fruit, veges and simple biscuits on 3 plates with 3 cups of water.

I left the room for 5 minutes and in that time, Liam had slammed the cupboard door on his older brother’s fingers (on purpose, because he “didn’t like the way he was humming and wouldn’t shut up”) and then he got a cup of water for his other brother and poured it all over his homework and lap because he didn’t say thank you properly. The older boys were screaming with pain and anger. So I put Liam in his room, he screams at me and calls me a stupid idiot and he trashes his room, bangs on the door and and throws things at the glass window – shouting “I’m going to break this window and glass is going to go everywhere and it’s going to be all your fault MUM!”

And this is only 15 minutes after I pick the kids up from school and return home!! Can you imagine this happening EVERY. SINGLE. DAY?!?! The kids turns into a monster whenever he’s with his brothers – it’s crazy!

Let’s just say that – for a few weeks – I cried a lot.

HOW have I been managing it? Immediately after school, I have to stick Liam in front of the tv, or get him to play in his room by himself. He loves his tv shows, especially Playschool. And he loves playing by himself, especially when inspired by an old set of toys that I have hidden away and brought out on rotation. Or if he’s given an activity that he hasn’t done in a while. Basically, Liam is confined in a small, quiet space for 1 hour – for his own safety!

This has been happening for a few months now and it works for us. Phew.

I believe this bad behaviour is simply related to “being a 3 year old boy” and the surges of testosterone that young boys experience at different points in their lives. I recall my middle boy was also very naughty, tantrumy and very prone to throwing objects at doors…. and look at him now, he’s a a lovely and mild-mannered 8 year old boy. There is hope beyond BEING 3!

I’m sure of it!

And so here’s to a wonderful new year of BEING 4, my gorgeous little Liam!


Donating Blood and Registering to be a Stem Cell Donor

12 March 2013

Last week, I wrote about Emily. Emily needs to find a stem cell donor, or else she is going to die from cancer.

My first step to help her… is to get registered as a stem cell donor, and to blog about the process to show everyone how easy and worthwhile it is.

The process of registering is different in every country. In the US, it is just a little mouth swab. Other countries require a blood donation too. So it is worth finding out the requirements in your country first.

In Australia, you are required to donate blood, in order to become REGISTERED. You don’t actually donate your stem cells right there and then!

So here we go……..

Eeek I have never ever donated blood before!

The reason is because, when I was in my late teens and early 20s, I struggled with low iron and a low blood count. During my 3 pregnancies, I also had a very low blood count. So I just assumed that this low-ness was “normal for me” and that I should just avoid donating.

Not to mention, I can’t stand anything “blood related”. I don’t like the sight of blood. The smell of blood. I feel faint when I see too much blood. I get wobbly in my tummy when I see it oozing out of skin. I close my eyes during gory movies and medical procedures on tv. And I hate needles! I’m a real wimp.

But seriously, it’s such a lame excuse for me. I’ve been through much tougher things in life. I’m very fit and healthy at the moment. And I should be completely able to give blood.

ALSO

When I gave birth to my first child, I lost a LOT of blood. I had to be in intensive care and I was given something like 2L of blood to help me recover. So in fact, I had been on the receiving end of someone’s donation. And my husband also received blood when he was being treated for his cancer. Obviously, it is pay back time :)

SO …

I made an appointment to donate blood and to put myself into the Australian Bone Marrow Donation Registry.

Everyone freaks out when you say the words “Bone Marrow”. The registry is called the Bone Marrow Registry, because the stem cells that are found floating around in your blood, actually grow in your bone marrow. Years ago, doctors had to take out bone marrow to get the stem cells, but now, they just sift them out of the blood stream.

Donating Blood and Stem Cells

When I arrived at the Australian Red Cross Blood Services, the little waiting room was PACKED full of people. Lots of men in business suits, there was a guy and girl couple, a few young woman, and lots of young guys too. I could hardly find a seat for myself. But, I did notice that I was the only Asian face there.

I was given a few forms to fill out. Eventually the people in the waiting room moved on and I took a quick snap, before it filled up with more people again. I thought the design choice of the waiting chairs was very cute.

Donating Blood and Stem Cells

I won’t lie. There was a lot of paper work. I had to fill out 3 forms.

But they were full of really simple questions like, “Do you have epilepsy? Have you ever suffered a stroke or a heart attack?? Are you taking any medication?”

This went on for a few pages. And I was ticking NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO.

And by the end of it, I was thinking – Holy cow, I’m pretty lucky to be so healthy!

Which is what they want. Fit, young, healthy people. Hey, we are blessed!

Donating Blood and Stem Cells

And this is it. That extra form that might save the life of someone in need.

The form that puts me into the worldwide pool of stem cell donors. That one day… someone on the other side of the world, or someone next door, or even you, will be able to find your 1 in a 10,000 match.

You have to specially request this form, from the nurse at the front reception desk.

Donating Blood and Stem Cells

After submitting my paperwork, I was ushered to a little room. I talked to a nurse, who went through some pretty simple questions and answers.

For example, one question was “Have you EVER travelled outside Australia in the last 3 years? And which countries?” and I answered “Denmark, Singapore.”

She also took a skin prick, to test my haemoglobin. And then she took my blood pressure.

My results were perfect. I was a fine human specimen for donating blood.

Donating Blood and Stem Cells

I was ushered over to the donating room, which was nice and air-conditioned. A bit like a movie theatre.

I found a nice comfy seat, and the nurse gave me a snuggly, woolly blankie, which made my day.

The nurse set to work.

A teeny tiny prick of pain.

And I was all hooked up and giving blood.

Donating Blood and Stem Cells

Haha I totally look like a happy little granny here!

Lots of people asked me (after I donated) : What did it feel like?

My answer: Er, nothing! I just felt like I had some sticky tape on my arm. And I could feel the blood pressure wrap on my upper arm. I didn’t feel any “draining”, or “dizziness” or “coldness” or “light headed feelings”. I just chatted away to people nearby.

I have to admit, I was feeling a bit tense… because I was EXPECTING to feel dizzy or light headed. But I just didn’t. So actually, I felt happier as time went on, because it was going better than I expected.

Donating Blood and Stem Cells

This was my little pumping machine.

My blood packet sat in a little dish, that was rocked back and forth by the machine, like a happy little baby being soothed to sleep.

You might be able to make out the numbers on the machine.

Since I was 45kgs, I could only give 420mL. The amount collected so far was 358mL. 065 was the flow per minute. And 8:11 was the minutes that had passed.

Actually, 420mL was my blood donation, and they took 2 extra vials for testing and registering to be a stem cell donor. But I didn’t feel any difference.

Donating Blood and Stem Cells

And just like that, I was done! They wrapped me up and gave me a cup of water.

The whole thing took less than 10 minutes!

I sat there… feeling absolutely fine. I thought – That’s it??

I looked over at my 420ml packet and I was a bit shocked.

It looked like a lot of blood! I looked at my own body and thought, THAT came out of my petite little body? And I still feel fine?! Wow the human body is pretty amazing.

Then it hit me. I had this wave of euphoria. I felt so freaking awesome.

I felt like I did something really, really really GOOD. And I was so proud of myself.

The nurses were so kind and grateful. They kept encouraging me to take it easy, stay for a bit and rest. So I sat there for a few more minutes, just sipping my water and watching all the action in the donation room.

teafortu

My husband came to pick me up… and we took a gentle stroll into the city.

We found a cute tea parlour in the city and sat down for a cup of tea and red velvet cake. It was just such a brilliant feeling.

That afternoon we picked up the kids from school. I did some light housework. I cooked dinner. I watered my flowers. And I still felt absolutely fine. In fact I was glowing :)

What next? What Can You Do?

To find Emily a match, thousands of ethnically Chinese people need to register to donate stem cells. Obviously, you can make a difference by registering yourself. But this needs to go viral in order to get THOUSANDS of possible donors.

I’ve set up a Facebook page called “I’ve got Chinese Stem Cells“!

The page is an online celebration, dedicated to all the ethnically Chinese people who have registered as stem cell donors.

If you have registered to be a donor, please post up your photo!!

(Photo of your face, your arm, your bandage, your donor card, the waiting room, the donation center sign, your cup of tea, your slice of cake that you ate after! Any picture from your adventure to show you were there.)

Please LIKE the page, upload your photos to the page, and tag “I’ve Got Chinese Stem Cells”

Every time someone posts here, it will add momentum, and spread the word, to help Emily, and others in need in the future.

Spread The Word!

Email, text, or call your best Chinese friends. Send them this blog post or the Facebook page link, and ask them to go with you to register. Get them to register too! And once you are registered, go to a really nice cafe together, and celebrate life and friendship.

And then think about how many ethnically Chinese people in your family, at work, at university, your sports club, social club, church group? Anyone of them could be Emily’s match, and if they are not, then someone they know could be.

Register Here :)


Emily Needs Stem Cells

8 March 2013

I’d like to introduce you to someone.

This is Emily.

Emily Needs Stem Cells

She is my sister-in-law’s best friend from school. Like me, she is a mum.

This is her son Luke, and he is now five years old.

Emily Needs Stem Cells

Emily has been battling cancer for the last two years. It keeps coming back, which is very bad news, because each time, it has to be treated with even more extreme chemotherapy.

A few weeks ago, it came back for a third time, and as you read this, Emily is in hospital again.

Emily is going to die, unless she can get a transplant of stem cells, and get them quickly. So her doctors have tested everyone in her family as a possible donor. No match.

Then, they have looked in the international registry of stem cell donors, (which is also called a Bone Marrow Donation Registry, because the stem cells are made in your bones, but are collected from your blood.)

There are about 10 million people in the international registry… but there is no match for Emily.

And here is the problem.
Getting a match for a blood transfusion is quite simple.
Getting a match for a kidney or heart is very hard.
But to get a match for stems cells is VERY, VERY, VERY hard.

Something as amazing as stem cells, which can regrow your immune system, require a very close tissue match. Since Emily is ethnically Chinese, her best chance is with an ethnically Chinese or mixed Chinese donor.

But there are VERY FEW ethnically Chinese people who have registered for stem cell donation.

And “apparently” this is because Chinese people have a cultural perception that blood donation is dangerous.

So, Emily is going to die unless a LOT of ethnically East Asian/Chinese people join the Stem Cell/Bone Marrow register in their country, and a match can be found. Her husband will have no wife, and her son will have no mother.

So, how do we get a LOT of people from Team Chinese to quickly register as donors?

My first step, obviously, is to get my ethnically-Chinese ass down to a blood donor station, and say “I want to become a stem cell donor”.

In Australia and Singapore, this happens at any Red Cross Blood Collection Center. I’m going to photograph the whole thing,  to show that becoming a donor is easy and safe. And who knows, maybe I am Emily’s match. Maybe I can save her life, and her family.

But it is apparently a one-in-a-thousand chance that I am Emily’s match.

So I am going to need your help, and a lot of other people’s help.

More soon.

Find out more about Emily on her website emilyneedsstemcells.com or her Facebook Page.


New Fashion Label: In Good Company

5 March 2013

Sven Tan and Kane Tan, both former designers at internationally successful, Singaporean label Alldressedup, have recently launched their new label, In Good Company.

Rather than follow catwalk trends, the label focuses on delivering affordable, modern classics with a twist and quality basics to fashion lovers. Their direction is understated style, effortless chic, with fluid and feminine shapes.

I was given the pleasure of sampling a few items (that I chose) from their very first capsule. And yes, I was very excited because I have been a huge fan the duo’s past work.

They also have kindly offered my readers a special discount code, so please scroll down for the details.

In Good Company

This is the GAIA Peep Shoulder Dress, described as a “modern approach to the quintessential sundress for the city girl.”

Firstly, I don’t usually wear plain black dresses anymore. Secondly, I don’t usually wear shapeless dresses (with no waist).

But OH MY, I looooved this dress. I felt sexy, effortless, exotic, and like I wasn’t trying too hard and just being myself.

The off-shoulder ruffles and the shoe-string straps make this dress sexy. But it was brilliantly balanced out by the shapeless cut and the light (but robust) material.

This is definitely one of my Top 10 favourite dresses. And I can’t believe how affordable it is.

In Good Company

This is the CHIANTI Strappy Camisole.

Again this top feels effortlessly stylish, with a touch of sexiness and a little twist to the classic camisole (the shoe string straps do a criss-cross at the back). I really liked it.

The material feels deliciously fluid and thick enough to not be see-through. There is a bit of elastic at the back, so it is comfortable and easy to wear. And the neckline is high enough (and sits on your chest nicely) that it won’t “fall open” if you bend over.

I think this top is perfect as part of a working wardrobe, worn with a blazer, tailored pants, or a pencil skirt.

It’s a very nice and luxe basic to own… and will go with lots of things in my wardrobe (formal and casual).

In Good Company

This is the HANNAH Camisole Top, another luxe staple.

Aaah, the fabric of this top is really lovely. It feels like soft, light, silky suede. The shoe-string straps are gorgeously unique. And it really does ooze casual-cool chic.

I paired it with some leather jeans and hehe, I was in fashion outfit heaven – totally effortless, understated and yet so stylish.

I’m so so happy with these items from In Good Company. I’m pinching myself that I get to keep them and have them as part of my everyday wardrobe. Now I’m pouring through the rest of the website (again!) to see if there are any other pieces that might purchase for myself – because I’m a die hard fan now.

AND LASTLY.

The other reason I’ve fallen for this brand…

If you happen to have a stylish little girl in tow, check out In Good Company’s Mini Me Capsule!

In Good Company
(These dresses and tops are the miniature versions of the dresses/tops I tried on!)

One-third of their collections feature both ‘mini-me’ versions of its key looks – for girls aged from 3 to 8 years of age.

Oh how I wish I had a girl!!

*SPECIAL DISCOUNT CODE*

In Good Company have kindly offered all my readers $10 OFF the cost of shipping. Please use the code “fashion&life” in the discount code box at the checkout.

Do check out the rest of their collection!

They also sell shoes, accessories and special edition accessories born from artist and designer collaborations. Prices start from $89 for tops, $89 for shorts, $109 for pants, $179 for dresses and $39 for accessories.

(By the way, for sizing… I’m wearing the size XS for all garments and I’m usually a size AUS6/UK6.)

Happy shopping!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


Attack of the Mighty Green Blobs

28 February 2013

One of my children had a classroom survey, where they were asked – “What’s your LEAST favourite food?”

My son said to me, “What should I write? I like all foods! Oh I’ll just write brussels sprouts.”

I laughed. “But you’ve never tried brussels sprouts. How can you say you don’t like it?”

“Oh that’s just what everyone else says.”

My other boy’s ears perked up and he joined the conversation, “Yeah, I’ve read they are slimy and really disgusting!”

“Apparently they are the grossest things in the WORLD mum!” says my first boy.

I said, “You know what? I’ve never eaten brussels sprouts either. Let’s go to the shops and buy some. I’ll cook them up and you guys can decide for yourself.”

They were SO EXCITED.

Sheesh. Are we, like, the kookiest family ever or what?

brusslesprouts01

According to many popular children’s story books, brussels sprouts are THE MOST HORRIBLE, AWFUL, AND DISGUSTING THINGS EVER!!!

But we all thought they looked kinda cute.

Like baby lettuce.

My boys also thought they looked like glowing green, “power-up” blobs in a computer game, where you have to collect them and shoot them at the bad guys haha.

brusslesprouts02

I boiled them for 4 minutes.

Drained them and let them roll around in a tiny bit of butter (because let’s face it, everything tastes better with butter!)

The verdict… the outer leaves were lovely and had a nice crunch to them, like bok choy or some other leafy green Asian vegetable.

But the inside stalk was pretty bitter. Even I winced.

I think I’d have to cut them up first, and cook them harder to get rid of the bitterness. But if I cook them harder and longer, I’ll destroy the vitamins and nutients, which defeats the whole point of eating a vegetable really.

So no, I don’t think I’ll be cooking these up anytime soon.

I’m just going to stick with our “mini trees”!

(Broccoli.)

**Edit! Way hey – I received about 10 messages from readers… suggesting brussels sprouts recipes, tips on ways to make them taste better and how to get rid of the bitterness.This website about  “Understanding the Brussels Sprouts gave a nice explanation and some nice recipes. So I might give them another go! Thanks guys! xxx


Asking For Money (For A Great Cause!)

26 February 2013

Yes I’m fundraising for cancer research again!

Many of you might know that I did the Ride to Conquer Cancer last year. Well I’m doing it again this year – cycling 200kms over 2 days through the countryside south of Perth.

To kick start my fundraising, last weekend, I hi-jacked a Chinese New Year Ball!

CNY Ballroom @ Crown Perth

Ok not really. A local Chinese community – my community -  were looking for a charity to support and I proposed that they could sponsor me for my 200km ride, with all funds going to the WA Institute of Medical Research.

My dad, mum, brother + sister in law, and a whole bunch of my aunties and uncles… attended the event too.

CNY Ballroom @ Crown Perth

My mother and I. We just finished placing 500 pamphlets out on the tables.

As the evening started… the thought of having to stand up in front of 500 people and ask them to donate money… was TERRIFYING.

I had that floaty, churny feeling in my tummy, a spaced-out dizzy feeling in my head, and I kept going to the bathroom all night and rehearsing my speech in the toilet cubicle. The amazing 10 course Chinese banquet was being served and I only nibbled on a bit of jellyfish (for the entree).

When the Master of Ceremonies came over to where I was sitting and told me that I was on in just a few minutes, I had a bit of a panic attack – aaaaaakkkk!

“Calm blue ocean. Calm blue ocean” I repeated to myself.

But I slowly focused my thoughts on WHY I was doing this. Where is this money going. What is this money going to be used for. Who is this money going to help. And it really helped calm me down.

Mr John Fitzgerald, of the WAIMR, spoke first. He sounded so calm, professional, and had such a deep voice.

Then it was my turn. I could hardly hear myself! I wasn’t sure if I was too close, or too far, from the microphone. So I gave my speech – which seemed to take an eternity -  I said thanks, then walked off the stage.

The next bit was pretty hard work. I spent the rest of the night on my feet, going from table to table, loudly talking to people over the noise of a cabaret show and giving a 10 second spiel of where the donations were going (to pretty much every single person at the event). So much talking! So repetitive! Now I know how politicians feel!

Helping me collect the money were two staff from WAIMR, who volunteered their time for the evening, Lesley and Jeanette. They made me feel a lot better about it, because they have done this lots of times before. They were so calm.

Going from table to table, the difference in response was very interesting.

As I approached some tables, someone would stand up with a bag full of money they had already collected. One man told me that his wife died 9 months ago from cancer so he made sure that all his friends on the table donated something (I totally choked up and went all teary on the spot). On other tables, they seemed to have no idea who I was, or what I was there for, or they thought I was part of the Miss Chinese Pageant haha! And it was really difficult to explain myself amid all the noise.

And at other tables, I met people who I hadn’t seen since I was at primary school with them, and we got gossiping, and I went “off-mission”.

In fact I was so busy talking to people, that I did something that is absolutely amazing for me – I didn’t take any photos!

The evening came to an end.

And I got to take home a little black lock-box full of cash!

The next morning, I counted the donations (then I got my boys to double check the total) and we found out that we had $2920 dollars! OMG!

Plus, there were about $600 in credit card donations!

Money Count

WOW! $3.5K!!

The only problem was, that it was Sunday, and I couldn’t get the money to the bank. So, what to do with so much cash?

Well, I hid it in a very secret place… which is, inside a hole in the bottom of one of the couches.

That night as I watched TV, I felt so gangster with a bundle of cash hidden under my ass.

Money Couch

On Monday morning, when I fished the money out, I found that it had been guarded all night by this little guy, who had previously been put in the couch by, I suspect, my 3 year old… along with a couple of dried out old apple cores.

Anyway, you’ll be glad to know, the money made it safely into the bank, and then into the account of the WA Institute of Medical Research, where it is already making a difference to the research to find the cure for cancer.

Thank you so much to those who have donated!

If you are keen to donate money towards my 2013 Ride to Conquer Cancer, please visit my fundraising page here!

Or you can read all the posts about my cycling adventures on my blog.


Nikon AW100 – A Waterproof and Shockproof Camera

25 February 2013

A few weekends ago, I went Stand Up Paddle-Boarding and I asked Nikon if I could borrow an underwater camera so I could take some cool water photos for my blog.

They said SURE!

They actually have an newer model coming out soon (AW110), one that can be taken down to 18m (great for scuba divers) and it can withstand -10°C (great for ski and snowboarders). It can also withstand being dropped from heights of 2m (great for um, parents?) and it has built-in wifi capability.

But I was happy to trial the AW100. This model can be taken down to 10m underwater, withstand -10°C and can be dropped from 1.5m without being damaged.

Now… I’m a bit old school with my cameras. When I used to scuba dive regularly (about 10 years ago), only the insanely rich, or the insanely hardcore professionals had cameras with underwater housing… like this:

Ikelite Housing for Nikon D-5000
Image from www.ikelite.com

The equipment was huge, complicated and looked like you were going on a mission to Mars.

Back then, there was NO WAY I could ever take photos of all the coral I saw, all beautiful little fish I swam with while snorkeling, the ship wrecks I’ve dived, and all the other amazing underwater wildlife I had seen, like seals, turtles, cod fish, sharks and whale sharks. I couldn’t even take photos of us at the beach splashing in the waves :(

Nikon AW100 - Underwaer Camera

But now, look at this!!

As I held this camera in my hand, I was utterly stunned by the advances of modern technology! I could take this camera down to 10 meters?! For real?!

Anyway. Unfortunately (or fortunately) while I was stand-up paddle boarding, I DIDN’T fall into the water. And thus I didn’t have any cool watery photos to share from that experience.

Instead, I gathered my kids and we went to swim in my neighbour’s pool.

We had SO. MUCH. FUN.

Because the camera was “Drop Proof” I was completely happy to let my kids hold it, swim with it and take photos.Nikon AW100 - Underwaer Camera

This was me trying to show my son how to blow a lot of bubbles without getting them up your nose.

My 9 year old and my 7 year old, picked up the camera and worked it with ease.

They switched modes. They played with the settings. They completely melded with it, as only youngsters can these days.

In fact, my boys asked me, “What does the ‘2 Sec’ and ‘10 Sec’ mean?”

And I said, “Oh it’s a self timer…”

And without having to explain anything else, they were doing really clever things like leaving it at the bottom of the pool, with the 10 second timer on and swimming over it to capture an action swimming shot.

Nikon AW100 - Underwaer Camera

My two boys practiced doing “bombies” into the water for me.

The bubbles were so cool!

Nikon AW100 - Underwaer Camera

And here my boys were making really funny underwater movies.

I have to admit that my boys dropped the camera on the poolside paving TWICE.

It just slipped out of their hands because they forgot to put the wrist strap on. And each time it went DONK on the bricks, my heart stopped, my temper seethed and I wanted to scream bloody murder.

But lucky for them, it was indeed DROP PROOF.

And because of that… it is THE best compact camera for me to have in my house.

The AW100 now sits on my “camera shelf”, and when my children find something cool they want to photograph, they are allowed to take it and use it. They can make little movie clips, record their Lego creations and take photos for their school projects. It’s fantastic.

I seriously can’t wait to take it to the beach and to go snorkelling!!

Check out more details about the Nikon AW100, or the soon to be released Nikon AW110.


My Banana Bread Recipe (with sugar free option)

14 February 2013

My Banana Bread Recipe

I have been using this recipe for over 10 years, and it’s a damn good one.

Ok maybe you can call it a banana loaf, or cake. It’s really quick and easy to make, healthy for the family, and perfect for low sugar diets.

I make this banana bread twice a month, and I ALWAYS vary the recipe! Why? Because I always have different “new” stuff in my pantry. One week it will be sunflower seeds, then shredded coconut, then dried cranberries etc.

Most times I use self raising wholemeal flour, with a sprinkle of almond meal. And most times I throw in 2 tablespoons of pepitas or sunflower seeds, or 2 tablespoons of shredded coconut, or 2 tablespoons of sultanas, or I mash 6 dates into the mixture. Whatever I do, I just can’t seem to destroy the recipe. It all holds together fine :)

(I’m actually on a paleo based diet, so I don’t eat this bread anymore. My husband and kids loooove it though and they can finish it in one sitting!)

My Banana Bread Recipe (with sugar free option)

75g butter
2 tablespoons of brown sugar (or try none!)
2 medium eggs
4 medium sized banana (or 450g weighed with skin)
100g walnuts (or peacans), chopped
1 ½ cups (225g) self raising white (or wholemeal) flour
¼ teaspoon of bicarb soda
pinch of salt

1. Heat oven to 180ºC. Lightly grease a 11cm x 22cm loaf pan. Line the base and 2 long sides with baking paper. Leave some paper overhanging.

2. Melt the butter, mix in sugar (if you’re using it).

3. Add eggs and combine well.

4. Mash the bananas and add it to the mixture.

5. Add the chopped walnuts. Add 2 tablespoons of any other ingredients (Seeds, or sultanas, or coconut, or dates). Give it all a good stir!

6. Sift in flour, bicarb soda and pinch of salt. Stir until just combined.

7. Pour into the loaf tin. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to stand for a few minutes then cool on wire rack.

Enjoy! xxx


How’s the air up there?

4 February 2013

We have a new toy in our backyard – an old trampoline!

My parents decided they wanted to get rid of their old, discarded trampoline, which was over 25 years old. And we thought our kids might like it.

So we nabbed it, took it apart, loaded it into the back of a trailer and brought it home.

However, it needed a good clean.

So we threw all three children onto it, gave them a scrubbing brush each and a bucket of soapy water!

Personally I thought it was a recipe for disaster. But they cleaned and bounced with such abandoned thrill and joy!

Our New Old Trampoline

I love this photo of one of my sons – happily cleaning away- totally oblivious that his movements were making the bucket tip over dangerously and with each bounce, it slowly “walked” towards him. It was like watching a cartoon.

And of course there was a water fight and foam party at the end of all this cleaning business.

The funny thing is… this trampoline was our trampoline when we lived on Christmas Island.

I remember being 9 years old and playing on that thing with my brother, sister, and neighbours.

I remember the HOURS we spent bouncing, climbing up and down, sitting on the edge, waiting for my turn. I remember all the silly bouncing games that we used to make up, all our funny jumping moves, and pretend wrestling matches and so much more. Ah such good times :)

Anyway I was very pleased to see them enjoy it so much.

My 7 year old said, “Jumping is the BEST feeling in he world. It’s like you’re flying in the air or floating in space!”


The Beach Club @ The Cottesloe Beach Hotel

31 January 2013

Cottesloe Beach is – hands down – one of my favourite places in Perth.

Whenever overseas friends and family come to visit Western Australia, we ALWAYS take them to the iconic beach. To drink coffee. To eat ice cream. To devour fish and chips. To walk along the beach. To swim. To play in the play ground. And most of all, to watch the spectacular sunset over the Indian Ocean.

Last week I was invited to a special event at a brand new eatery called The Beach Club at The Cottesloe Beach Hotel, which yes, overlooks Cottesloe Beach.

The event was a Menu Tasting, specially organised for local food bloggers (and me), where we also met the Executive Director of the Cottesloe Beach Hotel, Gary Gosatti, and food consultant Russell Blaikie, of Must Winebar and Bistro fame.

I felt a little out of my depth surrounded by hardcore food bloggers. Here I was… a fashion-crazy, cycling fanatic, in the depths of kid-wrangling, paleo eating and a fitness program.

And here they all are – absolutely lovely people – chatting passionately about the *best* places to buy pandan cake. I’m thinking – “OMG I haven’t eaten pandan cake in years. Sugar! Food colouring! Wheat! It’s so bad for you!!”

Haha I realised that THAT kind of attitude was totally unacceptable in these circumstances. So I decided to shut the hell up, lighten up, abandon all, and just ENJOY THE MEAL.

The Beach Club @ Cottesloe Beach Hotel

Oh before I get into the food.

I have to share my other loves. Fashion and gorgeous graphic design. Check this out. My canary yellow, peplum dress matched the food menu AND the bar stool that I was sitting on. Howzat!

The Beach Club @ Cottesloe Beach Hotel
Feta whip, dukkah, Aussie olives, and bread by Jean-Pierre Sancho – $14

The first dish to arrive was the crusty bread. This made me laugh because I’m trying to eat less wheat. Nonetheless, I tore off a crust and got stuck into it, like a real foodie.

The feta whip was lovely, smooth and creamy, with a good feta bite to it. Then when mixed with the crumbly dukkah… it was delicious. I would have eaten more, but I discovered…

The Beach Club @ Cottesloe Beach Hotel

…the olives. Oh god, I love eating good olives.

I knew that I had eaten too many, when I found myself fingering the jar like a monkey, trying to get the blasted ones that were stuck to the bottom of the jar.

The Beach Club @ Cottesloe Beach Hotel
Fried squid with Turkish pepper & tzatziki – $16

Oh hello there. I thought you were shoe string fries. But no. These were the softest, juiciest and most tender squid rings that I have ever eaten. Damn they were good.

My 9 year old son and I share a love for fried squid. We have been restaurant hopping in search of the best squid rings… and these might be it. I will definitely have to take him here to see what he thinks.

The Beach Club @ Cottesloe Beach Hotel
Spicy lamb meat balls with tomato sauce & yoghurt – $9 for a plate of 5

These lamb meat balls were quite different. Usually lamb meat balls are chewy, meaty and with a strong lamby flavour.

But this meat ball was really soft, fluffy, and it kind of crumbled when I bit into it. It was so light and flavoursome, that it filled my palate with mild spices, while the sweetness from the tomato sauce and the tang from the yoghurt made my mouth explode with happiness.

The Beach Club @ Cottesloe Beach Hotel
Pancetta, gorgonzola, spinach and and bechamel pizza – $24

Next up were the wood fired pizzas. Hmm. I’m a bit indifferent to pizzas nowadays. I make pizzas at home, once a week. So when I go out to eat… I prefer not to order a pizza. If I do… it had better promise to taste fricking amazing and be made by magical elves to make it worth my pain.

As I reluctantly munched my way through this slice – hallelujah – it was awesome!

Pancetta and blue cheese pizza? YUM. Can’t really go wrong there.

I sunk into my seat with pleasure, revelling in the magic of four simple ingredients. So simple. So good.

The Beach Club @ Cottesloe Beach Hotel

Prawns, chilli, Borello bocconcini, and basil pizza – $25

I love eating prawns. And chili. So this pizza totally hit my happy spot.

Speaking of prawns.

The Beach Club @ Cottesloe Beach Hotel
Grilled Carnarvon tiger prawns, pineapple, chilli & lime salsa, bean sprout salad – $34

This dish was the big winner for me.

It looked like a mess, and it was a bit hard to see the prawns… but the aromas, oh my! The smell of the nuts and the lime and the hot prawns and chili… ahhh it was sooooo goooood.

The Beach Club @ Cottesloe Beach Hotel

I was bouncing around on my seat as I ate this. The prawns were so fresh! Bean sprouts! Mint! It was all so yummy!

The Beach Club @ Cottesloe Beach Hotel

Lastly, we tried the Arkady Margaret River lamb and Mount Barker chicken cooked over charcoal served with giant tabouli salad & tzatziki – $27

I was pretty full at this point. I think I ate too many prawns. I should have paced myself properly. Such a newbie error.

The meats were gorgeously, soft and juicy. They were slow roasted on the woodfired rotisseries, and you can choose to order either the lamb, chicken or have them mixed up, served with giant pearl couscous.

The flavours of the tabouli went well with the meat. But I’m not a big fan of pearl couscous. I’m more of a salad or salsa kinda girl.

The Beach Club @ Cottesloe Beach Hotel
Photo courtesy of The Cottesloe Beach Hotel

We were given a tour of The Beach Club, and I adored what I saw.

There was a fresh mix of different dining spaces – modern lounge chairs and low coffee tables (I saw a few families with kids in that area), normal table seating for a sit-down dining experience, bar stools and high tables for a more pub-style gathering, really nice corners to sit and chill out with friends… and you can even sit outside in the open air, under beach umbrellas (out of the wind!).

The Beach Club @ Cottesloe Beach Hotel

It was fantastic to see a place like this emerge in the beachside Cottesloe area. It was stylish, sophisticated, breezy, relaxed and definitely more “grown up” than its former life as an old beer garden.

The food was superb too, offering patrons a well considered menu for modern Australian dining.

It is definitely a place where I would take my family for a meal, meet a girlfriend for coffee, take a big group of friends for dinner, or just sit around with friends sharing nibbles and a beer.

And if you’re a visitor of Perth, make sure you check out Cottesloe Beach, go for a walk, have an ice cream, watch the sunset, then visit The Cott Beach Hotel for a meal to end your day. It’s just opposite the main beach car park.

Wearing Yellow to the The Beach Club

And lastly, just so everyone doesn’t forget that I like to mix up fashion with my food… this is what I wore to the The Beach Club.

I was probably a bit over dressed when I arrived (6pm) because there were lots of women wearing sun dresses and beachy tops and shorts. But I didn’t feel awkwardly over dressed at all.

By evening (8pm), there was a big after-work corporate crowd, lots of women in evening party dresses, and still lots of people in casual summer clothes and sandals! I love the laid-back beachy fashion mix!

The Beach Club
Cottesloe Beach Hotel
104 Marine Parade
Cottesloe, Western Australia

www.cottesloebeachhotel.com.au

A big thanks to The Beach Club for the invitation and dining experience.

(All photos of the food are my own. Taken with a Nikon D90 and 35mm f1.4 lens.)

The Beach Club at Cottesloe Beach Hotel on Urbanspoon


Wearing Grungey and Moody Prints

22 January 2013

Prints are still on trend for this season and the next.

Especially mirrored digital prints and prints with a “grungey” and “moody” edge. For example prints with dark colours, black and white prints that are geometric or messy… and angry/angsty images – like wild animals! Think wolves, bears, tigers, owls, bulldogs, sharks.

romwe_tunic

I found this cool, Retro Style Dress (from Romwe) with a scarf-style print and a very 60′s mod shapeless style.

I’m actually not sure what the picture is? A flower? An astronomical chart? An ink blot for a psychological test? No idea, but it looks nice and not too in-your-face.

It was great quality for the price I paid. It had a nice weight to it and the material had some quality to it. But when I tried it on, it was really short. It’s like a big t-shirt – a very different shape to the other dresses I own.

So I wore it out with little black shorts underneath and felt much better about wearing such a short dress! I really like it. I’ll be wearing and layering it up with leather pants or leggings in winter.

Actually, there’s some pretty amazing printed clothes over at Romwe. Tshirts, blouses, jumpers, jackets, skirts, leggings. All very affordable and with prints that I’ve never seen in the shops or other online stores before. Worth a look! I did a search so here’s a quick link to the clothes with prints results. Enjoy!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


A Few Of My Favourite Things

14 January 2013

On the weekend I managed to catch up on a few of my loves :)

Atomic Coffee

Cycling. I rode 40kms, mostly along the river. Then I stopped to have a 1 hour coffee chat with friends.

It was 7:30am in the morning and the cafe was bustling with breakfast orders… the smells from the kitchen were amazing.

I was very temped to order a bacon, mushroom, sausage and egg fry-up for myself, but haha I would be SO FULL… that I wouldn’t be able to ride home! I would have to take a nap, curled up, under a tree somewhere haha!

Game of Thrones

Reading. I friend of mine recommended this book to me. I’ve heard of it (years ago), but I’ve never picked it up til now.

I love it! I can’t put it down.It’s been a while since I’ve immersed myself in some awesome fiction.

Now I’m looking forward to watching the TV series.

Bok Choy Wilting

Gardening. My neighbour gave me a box full of Asian vegetable seedlings.

I’m actually not sure what they are. Bok choy? Choy sum? Nonetheless, I was so pleased to start up a new vege patch.

I transferred them into an old wine barrel… and I forgot to water them. The next day, they all wilted, and I only managed to save 50% of them. Ooops!

Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful week ahead! :)


Swimming With The Elephants

7 January 2013

During our family holiday down in the Great Southern Region of WA, we visited a beeeeautiful beach called Greens Pool.

The colours were just amazing!

Denmark WA 2012 - Greens Pool

It’s a sheltered beach with crystal clear water and soft white sand, making it perfect for families with children.

The water was a bit cold though, being the Southern Ocean and all.

However, this particular day was 42C, so dipping in the cool water was a refreshing relief.

Denmark WA 2012 - Greens Pool

Locals say that while you’re at Greens Pool, the “thing you have to do” is to jump off the rock in the middle of the bay (into the icy water).

My 3.5 year old, who has inherited my aversion to cold water, refused to swim with us and climb on the rocks in the water.

So we made him a “rock” on the beach for him to jump off. As you can see from this picture, he ain’t no ballerina.

Denmark WA 2012

A little later we all walked east, skipping over the huge rocks, to another little cove.

Denmark WA 2012 - Elephant Rocks

This place was called Elephant Rocks. Yes, because if you have the gift of imagination (unlike my three annoyed children), there are a bunch of rocks here that look like a herd of elephants. (To see a larger photo, you can click on the picture above.)

The place was so pretty. It looked so much like the tropical waters of South East Asia.

It was very shallow, so we waded far out into the bay. I took my two big boys for a swim out and around the large rocks. The water was so clear. We saw lots of fish and our feet were tickled by weird looking seaweed.

It was just gorgeous! It reminded me of my scuba diving adventures many years ago, and it made me hanker for some awesome snorkeling.


My YesStyle Christmas Loot

6 January 2013

Last month I got to pick out a few items from YesStyle, and they arrived a day after Christmas.

It was Christmas all over again! For me anyway :)

yes_studboots

The Stud and Buckle Boots are pretty awesome! They are by high-street Korean fashion label Redopin, and yes they are inspired by a similar Chloe boot which is really popular right now. The boot style is actually a few years old and have since spawned a plethora of look-a-likes by Jeffery Cambell, TopShop, Zu Shoes, just to name a few.

I picked out the Black Shoulder Bag because it channelled a bit of Prada, without the Prada price tag. You see, I needed a black carry bag to hold ALL MY CAMERA GEAR, when I go out to events (I don’t like using camera bags)! So the bag had to be genuine leather, simple design, stylish, no top flaps, had to have a couple of handy zip pockets, and it had to be under $100! You’d be surprised how hard it was to find a bag like that.

But this one ticked all the boxes and it is a great purchase for my very “functional” needs.

yes_laceskirt

Lastly, I chose this lovely Crochet Lace Skirt in a gorgeous coffee-camel colour. It is a really simple and elegant skirt, which fits me so well. I can’t wait to style it and wear it out.

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


Christmas Star Cookies and Teacher’s Gifts

20 December 2012

This year, I’ve been very organised with my Christmas gifts :)

I baked a huge pile of Christmas Star Cookies for friends and family.

I would have loved to say “I made them with my kids” but I didn’t.

I made them at night, over a few days, when the kids were asleep. This is because (after years and years of chaotic cooking with kids) I simply CAN’T STAND to give out mutilated, wonky, broken, misshapen biscuits anymore – with uneven, drippy icing, with smudged finger prints and crazy sprinkles that don’t match!

I don’t care how cute and “homemade” they look, I’ve had enough!!

I just want to make nice looking Christmas biscuits for once dammit! :)

This is the recipe I used, which I have posted on my site before. However, I have since moved house, and my new oven works differently. So I had to change my oven temperature and time.

Simple Butter Cookie Recipe

150g butter
¼ tsp vanilla essence
½ cup castor sugar
1 egg yolk separated
2 Tbsp milk
2 cups plain flour

Oven at 180ºC. Cream butter, essence, sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in egg yolk and milk. Then stir in flour til firm. Roll. Cut.
Bake 20-30 minutes until light golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Christmas 2012 - Stars for Baking

This recipe made about 30 small stars.

The dough is quite brittle, so it is easier to handle if you put the dough in the fridge for a few minutes.

The resulting cookie is delicious. It has a great crunch, it’s not brittle, not too sugary and not too buttery. Also they keep really well for a few days in an air tight container. And they don’t break when you put them in cellophane bags.

Christmas 2012 - Finished Star Biscuits

I mixed up a yummy lemon icing to decorate the cookies.

I don’t have the exact recipe, because it’s kind of simple. You just mix lemon juice (1 tablespoon maybe?) into lots of icing sugar (1 cup maybe?). And make sure it’s thick and creamy, not runny.

I then put 6-8 star cookies in some clear cellophane bags, and tied them up with a turquoise satin ribbon.

Christmas 2012 - KikkiK Pens

Another thing I did during the week… was to prepare some teacher’s gifts.

I have been quite pleased with all my children’s teachers, that I really wanted to show a bit of thanks and gratitude. Most years I have given chocolates to them (they must get so much chocolate!), so this year I found some cute pens to give them.

These are from Kikki.K. The wrapping paper is from a generic gift shop.

Christmas 2012 - Gifts for Teachers

My 3.5 year old and I made gift tags and tied little satin ribbons on the gifts.

We presented them to his teachers (with a little cuddle too) on the last day of school, and while my little one didn’t understand the significance of “final goodbyes”, I think I shared a tear or two with his teachers.

It’s been a good year of school for my kids. There’s definitely a lot to be thankful for.


Somebody Get Me A Freaking Chill Pill

29 November 2012

These last few weeks, my irritation towards my children have reached a record high.

This is what I’m talking about.

Toy Guns

My kids are now playing with toy guns.

It’s the latest craze to sweep over my boys… and it annoys the crap out of me!

I have these lofty ideals that kids can and should be exposed to a wide diversity of subjects like… arts, cultures, languages, music, history, cinematography…. and I want them to learn about insects and sea creatures, discover how clouds and volcanoes are formed, engage with puzzles, crosswords, and imagination games.

Yet here they are… running around like crazy wild animals, shooting foam bullets at each other! Bah!

And they are having fun! EXHILARATING fun! How dare they!

There used to be a time when I had control over what my children played with. I confiscated every gun, sword, stick and light sabre in the house – and righteously declared that this was a NO-WEAPON HOME.

In fact, there were no computer games, or electronic gaming devices, or anything that I considered to be “pointless, time wasting activities”. I was pretty strict and I remained pretty solid with my house rules. I stuck to my guns, you could say.

So after YEARS (like 8 years?) of being incredibly uptight and bad-tempered about what my boys chose to play with…  it finally happened.

Sigh, I decided that I just have to CHILL THE HELL OUT about some things.

Now I just sit back and watch them run around in the park with their friends, shouting, shooting, jumping, rolling, commando crawling, hiding, crouching, sneaking, working in teams, attacking and defending bases.

I do a lot of sighing. And rolling of my eyes.

But I’m a much happier person this way.

And so are they!


Kailis Princess Party 2012

21 November 2012

Kailis Princess Party 2012

Last week, I was invited to attend the highly-anticipated Kailis Princess Party.

Now what on earth is a Princess Party you might ask? It’s a very special VIP event held by Kailis Jewellery, for their special clients and media people (like me!) to show off their latest jewellery designs and special collections. It’s all very special indeed.

Champagne, canapés, fresh oysters, dashing young men serving cocktails… and as much exquisite jewellery to try on as any girl could ever want.

How could I say no to an invitation like that? :)

Kailis Princess Party 2012

The event did not disappoint!

The showroom was filled with a bright, natural light, which bounced off the warm wooden floors, mirrors and glass cabinets. The place was decorated with white orchids and white lilies.

It had a really lovely and natural feel about it, but still glamourous and enchanting.

Kailis Princess Party 2012

Everyone gathered around the glass cabinets, nibbling on the finger food, sipping champagne, chatting and gawking at the beee-eeeautiful jewellery.

I went around taking detailed photos, hoping to capture all the beautiful moments of the event.

Kailis Princess Party 2012

There was a delicious array of canapés served on round mirrors, carried by a delicious array of young men.

This pancake and smoked salmon ensemble was so yummy, that I stole one, then squirreled behind a glass cabinet to take it apart, to see what it was made of!

Then I made my way to the bar, ate waaaay too many fresh oysters, sipped a bit too much champagne and got friendly with the cocktail boys. As you do.

The showroom was jam-packed full of women! Everyone was beautifully dressed for a fancy afternoon party, and yes, everyone was adorned with their own pearls (or in my case, pears on loan from Kailis).

Walking through the crowd was like viewing a moving inspiration board on how to wear pearls and look fabulous – everything from earrings, necklaces and bracelets.

Kailis Princess Party 2012

I met the gorgeous Y, who reads my blog! She was lovely to talk to, not to mention, she was styled impeccably in a black and white dress, and had very cool black caviar nail art. Hi Y!

Kailis Princess Party 2012

Myself with Sarah and Mel. Who said young women can’t wear pearls!

Kailis staff members walked around the boutique, helping women try on which ever piece of jewellery that took their fancy.

At first I was a bit shy. I stood back and took photos of other people wearing the jewellery.

Then I thought – Oh what the heck, the jewellery is out of the cabinet, I may as well have a go too!

Kailis Princess Party 2012

So I tried on this *incredibly stunning* cuff made from white gold, diamonds and a humungous pearl. It was a couture piece, so it was – ahem – a little expensive.

In fact everyone wanted to try this particular cuff on. We stood in an orderly queue (as orderly as one can, while a little tipsy) and it was passed ceremoniously onto the next person.

You should have heard the gasps and squeals of delight once the clasp snapped shut over each woman’s wrist haha!

Yes, it was frivolous fun, but this was a princess party yo.

Kailis Princess Party 2012

By the end of the party, even I loosened up and tried on a lot more pieces. I think I tried on about 10 pieces of jewellery. It was FUN :)

Everyone was in really good spirits and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Lots of women were taking photos on their phones (of themselves wearing the pearls) and sending it to their husbands – and having a good giggle about it.

Kailis Princess Party 2012

As for me, this was my ultimate princess moment haha.

A couture necklace with beautiful pearls and pink sapphires, which went perfectly with my complexion, my dress and my hair maybe?

Who knows what the magical combination was, but every other woman who caught sight of me, sighed with approval. I could feel the adoration, the admiration and the sisterhood swirling all around me.

Yup, this was the winner.

So I took a snap with my iphone and I was about to send it to my husband, but remembered that he has a dumb phone (damn!) – so I sent it to Instagram and Facebook instead, and hoped he gets the notification. (Hmm, a bit too subtle perhaps?)

Anyway, I guess the biggest lesson I took home from this experience is that – women of any age can wear pearls and look amazing. I’m a big, big fan!

Thank you Kailis for the great afternoon!

(All photos are my own. Taken with a Nikon D90 and 35mm f1.4 lens.)


It’s all in my head. And hair.

19 November 2012

On the weekend, I was doing a bit of gardening.

I was wearing my big straw hat, sunglasses, gloves and long sleeve gardening shirt for extra sun protection. That’s right, as much as I love a healthy, glowing tan… I cover up like you won’t believe.

Anyway, this particular day, I was weeding a large flower bed. It was really windy and loose hair strands from my pony tail kept flying around in the wind and annoying me. There was one particular lock of hair that wouldn’t tuck into my pony tail properly.

It kept blowing around my ears and brushing my ear lobes and tickling down the length of my neck. I kept flicking it back with my gloved hands, and trying to tuck it behind my ears.

After 15 minutes, I was so irritated by my wayward hair that exasperatedly, I threw my hat to the ground and took a minute to re-tie my pony tail.

Satisfied with my new hair do, I reached down to pick up my straw hat, then let out a blood curling squeal.

.

.

.

.

.

Garden Hat

My scream was so loud and so horrifying, that I made my toddler cry.

Out from my hat crawled a very large spider.

It took me a few seconds to register that IT WAS THE SPIDER – NOT MY HAIR – TICKLING ME ON THE NECK.

I stood there, IMAGINING the spider’s long, hairy legs creeping across my ear, walking down my neck and behind my ear… and connecting those images with the wispy, prickly, feathery SCUTTLE sensation that I was felling for all that time!!!!

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKK!!!!

It was REALLY BIG!

I have to admit, that the spider itself didn’t actually scare me.

IT WAS MY IMAGINATION! It was on freaking overdrive!

My brain just kept going on and on and on.

Replaying the feeling on my neck over and over again.

I just stood there dumbly while the colour drained from my face. It took me a few minutes, then I turned ghostly pale, and yup, I blacked out haha.


Run Karen Run!

18 November 2012

The other day, I was invited to check out the services at The Athlete’s Foot, where they specialise in professional shoe fitting, and helping you find a shoe to suit your feet and your lifestyle.

The deal was that I would go through the whole process of getting my tiny, little feet measured, analysed and matched with something from the latest range of their exclusive Asics shoes and I would report on what the experience was like.

At first, the whole idea made me laugh – both with bewilderment and nervous anticipation.

SHOES? YOU MEAN SNEAKERS? FOR RUNNING?

I wear a lot of high heels. When I talk about shoes, I like to talk about leopard prints, nubuck leathers, peep toes, sling backs, and studs.

So when I think about FUNCTIONAL running shoes… I think, “Eh what’s the big deal?”

Truth is, I’ve never had my foot properly fitted for a proper running shoe. I only ever buy sneakers at Warehouse Outlet stores, where I grab something that looks good, in my size, and on sale at 70% off. Shoe comfort? Meh, I’ll just wear it in. Or I’ll just wear thicker socks.

Or worse. I would buy designer “lifestyle” sneakers online, on sale. Zero fitting experience!

I think I have only ever bought about four pairs of sneakers in my adult life.

And given my recent fitness pursuit into the world of cycling, it made me a bit I embarrassed by how uninterested I have been towards looking after my feet. After all, I now know things about bikes I never imagined I would, and it has made my life better. So maybe owning a pair of proper running shoes is another whole world of undiscovered pleasure waiting for me.

So here we go…

The Athlete's Foot

This is me, arriving for my first ever professional shoe fitting!

The Athlete's Foot

That’s right! I wore my leopard print, leather, peep toe heels for just the occasion haha.

I was met by Christina, a professional shoe fitter.

But I suddenly got a bit nervous. Cold feet, you could say. Was she going to be like one of those professional BRA FITTERS with cold fingers and a big prodding attitude? Was she about to fondle my toes?

Thankfully Christina was just fine. She explained the whole process to me and asked me a bunch of questions to work out whether I have problems with my feet, what kind of lifestyle I have, and how I might use my new shoes.

At one point, she asked, “So what do you wear when you run?”

I was rather embarrassed and mumbled, “My Converse Chucks?”

I may as well have said I run in my thongs, because Chucks are trendy “lifestyle” canvas shoes, not made for running! Naughty Karen!

The Athlete's Foot

She measured my foot. Size US 5. No surprises there.

Like I said… I have tiny, tiny little feet.

The Athlete's Foot

I was ushered over to The Athlete’s Foot Fitprint system, which was pretty cool. I stood on a pressure mat, which told me about my arch, balance, pressure points.

LOOK! Apparently I’m a little more “flat footed” on one foot. Christina thought that could mean that one of my legs is slightly longer than the other.

What the hell? Apparently it’s REALLLY common. Well, there you go – I am a bit wonky in the legs!

Now I can’t tease my husband about his different sized feet :P

The Athlete's Foot

I also walked across the pressure mat, and it showed an analysis of my foot, my walk, and how I roll. How I roll! It was really interesting.

It turns out that I have really good feet and a really good walk (despite the allegations made about my legs not being the same length). Which is why I don’t have any problems with my feet, ankles, legs, muscles, or back. I make up about 65% of the Australian population that have a neutral foot type. And it all comes down to good genetic luck really.

With that information, Christina said she would get me three different pairs of shoes to try, and whisked off.

Part of me – the girl who loves to shop – was a bit distressed. I ONLY GET TO CHOOSE FROM THREE PAIRS OF SHOES?

But then I looked around the shop and saw HUNDREDS of shoes lining the walls of the shop. So then I was relieved that I had Christina’s help to narrow the choices down.

The Athlete's Foot

She came back and placed the 3 pairs of shoes in front of me and I immediately thought….THOSE PINK ONES ARE SO MINE!

But of course I had to focus on comfort and I tried my best to give all of them a fair go.

From left to right: Mizuno (Wave Ultima 4), ASICS (GEL-Landreth 7), and ASICS (Gel-Nimbus 14).

I first tried on the purple ASICS shoes and there were great! I’ve never worn such comfortable sneakers in my life!

The white and navy Mizuno shoes were a teensy little bit firmer on the sole. I preferred the purple ASCIS shoes because of their flexibility in the sole.

The Athlete's Foot

This is me going “Oooooooh well lookie here, this one might be the winner!”

I look like a school girl in this photo! Maybe I should have worn my skinny jeans. And right there is a giant fashion tip – shoes make all the difference to an outfit. Shoes say everything.

The pink ASICS shoe definitely gripped and supported my foot (from front of the foot to the heel) so much better, making it more comfortable than the others. It had very cool shock absorption, great flexibility and just an awesome overall fit for me.

I was bouncing around the shop, focusing on my step and my foot arch, going – OH YEAH THIS IS HOW I ROLL!!

The Athlete's Foot

See? Love at first sight. They are, after all, screaming bright pink.

I can’t wait to go running in them. I don’t think I have run any long distances in 7-10 years!

I’ll be testing these babies out and letting you know how I go :)

I’ll also be giving away an Athlete’s Foot Gift Voucher in my next post, so stay tuned!

(This post was kindly sponsored by my blog advertisers Nuffnang.)

xxx


Miss Versatility Strand by Kailis Jewellery

15 November 2012

A few weeks ago, I received an interesting email from Kailis Jewellery, asking me whether I would like to be involved in a little project – in which I road test a string of pearls for a month.

Now I usually borrow fashion media samples for a week, wear them once for a photo shoot, and return the items the following week.

I don’t usually borrow items for a month. And I don’t usually wear something, WORTH THE PRICE OF A NEW CAR around my neck.

I told them I wouldn’t need it for a month, I’d be too scared of losing it or breaking it!

But they insisted.

They wanted me to EXPERIENCE what it was like to own and wear the pearls – you know, while wearing them to VIP fashion parties, out to dinner with my husband, lunch with my girlfriends, out about in the city to do some shopping, or hey, taking an evening stroll by the beach at sunset.

That idea intrigued me.

Do people really wear their pearls to the beach? Seriously? Ok so Miranda Kerr wears her Kailis Pearls to the beach – but then, she is a super model married to a movie star. I thought pearls were only for grand occasions. Buuuuut… out shopping? Out to lunch? To the movies? Hmmmm that could be A LOT of fun.

So I said yes and popped into the Kailis Jewellery store to pick them up.

*faints*

The Versatility Strand is a long, single-strand pearl necklace that is designed so that you can detach sections of pearls to create different lengths of shorter necklaces, as well as small bracelets. The picture below shows the concept of one strand, in its four different variations.

The pearls are attached by specially designed clasps, with a Kailis signature studded diamond. Pretty!

Kailis Jewellery  - Versatility Strand

As you can see, it’s such a simple, elegant idea.

Why just have one long pearl necklace, when you can change the lengths and match them with your outfit.

The Versatility Stands are available in all different sizes and grades of pearls. You can choose a strand that have large pearls that glow like the moon, or smaller pearls with a silver-platinum colour. Basically, you can choose a strand that suits your budget and they all vary according to the size of the pearls, their lustre, shape, surface and colour etc.

Can you imagine that it takes the designers YEARS to find perfectly matched pearls for one strand (same size, surface, colour!)… because these are REAL PEARLS from REAL OYSTERS.

Kailis Jewellery - Versatility Strand

I was shown this beeeeautiful Versatility strand, which I got to try on.

The pearls were so SO shiny, SO white, heavy (in a good way) and gah they were utterly gorgeous and so smooth against my skin. It cost around $800,000! Eeeep!

(I am amazed that they let me touch it with my unwashed hands.)

I was also told that Kailis have a Couture Strand range, featuring some of the largest, most exquisite and expertly matched pearls in the world. I didn’t even bother asking how much THOSE cost. It just boggles my mind to think of so many zeros.

So just when I thought that I’d never be able to own a string of pearls… they tell me this:

Kailis are now introducing their latest necklace range, the Miss Versatility Strand (pssst… which are much more affordable ladies!).

Kailis Jewellery  - Miss Versatility Strand

It simply is a shorter length of pearls, with the same detachable “Versatility” features. This time the strand turns into 3 distinct and stand alone pieces, which are extremely wearable and versatile – a long pearl strand, a short choker strand and a bracelet.

And being a shorter strand, the price of the Miss Versatility Strand is in a more accessible range – so that even my husband could afford to buy it for me. (Are you reading this babe?)

Kailis Jewellery

So this is my strand. Did I just say “MY”? I meant, this is THE strand that I am BORROWING to try out. It is one of the higher grades of pearls (of this size) in this current collection and oh my, it is stunning! The colour and lustre of the pearls are just gorgeous!

I think these pearls are a lovely size. Not too LARGE and in-your-face and not too small.

And then we got to the part where I was going to take the pearls away.

Yup I walked them out of the shop. Eeeeek so exciting!

A few days later, I cracked open the box and took them out to play.

Kailis Jewellery

Why hello there. We are going to be very good friends.

It so happened that I had a couple of evening events come up, so I could “road test” them.

I went to the launch of a new boutique hotel on Thursday, then a launch of a new fashion boutique on Friday, and then I went to the opera with my husband on Saturday.

Yes, I wore the pearls every evening! And here’s a peek at how I wore them.

Wearing Kailis Jewellery

I’ll be showing them off in greater detail in another blog post, and talking about how I worked the pearls into my fashion wardrobe.

In the meantime, I’ll be wearing my pearls for a few more weeks. I have a grand ball to attend, a few lunch soirées and who knows, I might even make it to the beach, as recommended.

For beautiful pearl photos and fashion inspirations, check out the Kailis Jewellery Facebook Page.


The Many Faces of Liam

13 November 2012

Liam - 3.5 years old

My little monkey is 3 years and 8 months.

As I write this, it is 8.30pm. Exactly one hour ago, Liam was running through the house in his underwear, stomping through the hallways, singing in this loud, crazy, high-pitched voice, and I was chasing him around, shouting “WILL YOU STOP MAKING THAT NOISE!!!!!”, waving his pajamas at him, and trying to get him to brush his teeth. He drives me CRAZY!! Every night, before bedtime.

It was so bad that I threatened to locked him outside with the spiders :P

But.

Now.

He’s sleeping sweetly and quietly in the next room as I type this. I can hear him gently tossing around in bed. I’m looking at these pictures, wishing he was here so I can cuddle him. I’m tempted to sneak into his room, as I often do, and just watch him as he sleeps, because he is so beautiful.

(Same goes for my two other boys.)

And in the morning…

They will all drive me insane.

All over again.


Dear Anonymous…

5 November 2012

Ride South Perth

…thank you so much for your donation! In fact there were 82 of you who donated anonymously towards my fundraising Ride to Conquer Cancer.

And also I want to thank these people… Adeline, Ai Ling, Alice, Alice E, Alice L, Amelia, Andrea, Andrew, Angel, Angela, Angelia, Anna, Anna L, Anna N, Annie, Anthony, April, Benjamin, Beverly, Brendon + Christine, Carmen, Catherine, Cecilia, Charmaine, Cher, Cherie, Cheryl, Chien Teng, Chin Chin, Chloe, Choy, CM, Cook Family, Corrine, Cynthia, David C, David S, Debbie, Denise T, Denise W, Diana, Diane, Don, Doris, Elaine, Elena, Eley Family, Eng, Evelyn, Felicia L, Felicia T, Felix + Loreen, Fifi, Fitri, Florence, Frances, Heather, Helen + Barry + Abby, Ho, Honey M, Honey T, Hong Xi, Howard, Hui Jee, Ian, Jaclyn, Jacqueline, James T, James W, Jamie, Janice, Jasmine, Jason, Jeffrey, Jen, Jenny, Joelle, John, Julian, Julie, JZ, Karen C, Karen L, Karen T, Karen W, Katherine, Kevin, Kim, Kimbra, Kinisimere, Kong Wen, Lada, Lawrence, Leong, Li, Li Mei, Lina, Lingzie, Lisa, Livia, Louise, Lynett, Lynn, M + M, Magdalene, Maggie, Marie E, Marie Y, Marna, Matthew, Mely, Michelle, Mindy, Ming Fen, Monica, Narelle, Nicolas + Diana, Nikki, Nurshida, Patricia, Patrick C, Patrick H, Pei Siong, Pei Xian, Peter H, Peter L, Phang, Phil + Aimee, Phillip, Polly, Preeta, Rachel, Rachel L, Rajinder, Randall, Rick, Rob, Roz, Ruth, S, Sandra, Sapphira, Sarah, Serene, Sharon, Shealyn, Sherry, Shio Peng, Sho Mae, Shujun, Siew Hui, Simone E, Soo Mei, Stacey B, Stacey N, Steven, Sue Cing, Suk Yen, Susan, Susanne, Tanith, T H, Urika, Vanessa, Veronika, Victoria, Wean Sin, Wei Li, Wen Keng, Wendy, Xin Li, Yang Ping, Yen, Ze, Zhi Lin… and a few others, including family and company names I can’t mention here for privacy reasons.

Some of you donated $5. Others donated $3000.

From the bottom of my heart, I really want to thank you all for your support.

By all giving whatever you gave, how ever much it was, you gave $16,910 under my name, and that was part of $4.6 million from the Perth Ride, and over $21 MILLION Australia wide, which goes to do cancer research that will make a difference GLOBALLY in years to come.

You should be so proud of yourself!


The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer – Perth 2012

29 October 2012

Last weekend, I rode 200km in two days.

As you might know, I have been preparing and training for this fundraising cycling event for the last 11 months and to have the moment FINALLY ARRIVE was both mind blowing and terrifying!

I spent the few days leading up to the event being very excited, nervous and unable to sleep. I even had cycling dreams! You know you’re a serious cyclist when you have cycling dreams haha.

The night before the event, I packed my bag, my sleeping bag, my tent mat, my bike and all my gear… I put everything into my car and I was all ready to go.

After that, I felt very calm and I was REALLY looking forward to the next day. A bit like Christmas really. Or like I was getting married next morning. THAT’S how excited I was. I went to bed at 8:30 pm.

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

The next morning, I woke up at 4am. I leapt out of bed in complete darkness, and went about getting ready.

I met my team mates at McCallum Park, just south of Perth City. The sun was rising over the river and there were hundreds of people with their bikes. There was pumping music, breakfast was being served, and there was an incredible buzz in the air.

I strolled through the crowd with a huge grin on my face – knowing we all were about to do something pretty damn cool.

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

At 6:30am it was time to shuffle into position for the opening ceremony.

It was announced that there were 1219 riders in total, raising an amazing $4.6 million! Holy cow!

There were a few inspirational speeches where one young lady shared her cancer story… which was so heart-wrenching and moving that I had tears streaming down my face. I looked around and saw that everyone else was sniffing and crying too.

It was such a powerful – yet unusual moment – because here I was, sitting on my bike, looking up at the rising sun, squished together with thousands of other people on their bikes, everyone was dressed up in yellow lycra, helmets and sunglasses, everyone was crying… and it was as if I could feel everyone’s heartbeat sharing this one resolve – we’re doing this to conquer cancer.

Phew. It was a heavy moment.

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

And off we went.

It was a slow start, because there were so many riders on the road.

We practically scooted our bikes over the start line… then for the first 3kms we were riding very slowly at 10km/hr. Everyone was finding their own pace and everyone was being courteous, careful and trying not to crash into each other.

After that the pace picked up and ahhh the ride was fantastic! There were so many people lined up along the roads cheering us on and waving flags and banners.

My group of 12 was split up because of all the traffic lights. But I stayed with a few people from my group and we rode leisurely at 25 – 28km/hr.

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

At the first 25km pit stop, the queue for the toilets was so loooooong.

However we were well looked after with free fruit, muesli bars, biscuits, water and electrolytes.

Our team gathered together again for a quick chat and soon we were back on our bikes.

There were a lot of instances when I was separated from my team mates again and I was riding with complete strangers. But that was fine, all the strangers seemed like friends, and we all just chatted merrily and enjoyed the ride.

I was actually really surprised by how many “non-serious” bike riders were participating. There was lots of people on hybrid bikes, mountain bikes, fixies (single gear bikes), and even cute, stylish bikes with baskets. Lots of people I chatted to, said they had never ridden further than 50kms in one go.

But hey – they were here, riding for a cause. And really, this was a ride not a RACE.

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

After another 25km, we stopped at the next pit stop for lunch. Chicken wraps never tasted so good!

We stopped for 40 minutes and on hind sight, I think we “rested” for too long.

Usually on our group training rides, we don’t stop for lunch. We don’t eat heavy foods, nor do we stop for such a long period of time.

So by now – sitting on the soft grass, in the warm sunshine for half an hour – my body was moving into sleepy, shut-down mode… and I needed a coffee pronto!

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

The weather was just brilliant.

Beautiful, big, bright, blue skies, warm sunshine, a gentle breeze.

And the road was just long, straight and flat!

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

This is Cheryl and I, riding along with big smiles!

I was wearing arm warmers (and these are the summer versions, called, sun sleeves) which are just like socks for your arms. They are SPF40+ and you’re supposed to wear them to protect your arms from the sun… but um, I was really hot, so I pushed them down and felt a bit like a rock star.

Also my husband drove himself and the kids down to meet me along the way. They stopped by the side of the road to wave, cheer, hoot and take photos of me as I rode past! Such sweeties!

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

I arrived at the camp grounds (actually the football oval in the town of Pinjarra) and it looked awesome!

A HUGE thanks to all the volunteers and crew members whole gave up their time to make the whole event run smoothly. For example, all the tents were set up by kids from the local primary school – over 600 two man tents!  The sleeping gear of every rider had been trucked down before we arrived, and there were volunteers unpacking it, and helping weary riders carry it to their tents. And guess what? The people unpacking the trucks (in the hot sun) were all volunteers… and some of them were scientists who work at the Research Institute.

Day One’s ride was a total of 97kms and it took me 4.5 hours of riding, with 2.5 hours of rest. Total time to complete was 7 hours.

Of my all my group mates, I arrived last because…… I stopped several times to take photos so I could upload them to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram :P

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

There were a LOT of bikes. From super expensive bikes, to a funny, old kids ‘chopper’ bike with small wheels. They looked like insects, nesting for the night.

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

Speaking of resting insects, I found my tent and lay down to take an afternoon nap.

I was only looking up at the sky for a few seconds before I became unconscious.

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

As evening fell, everyone had showers, a massage, joined in the yoga tents, and slowly gathered in the main tent, for a beer and to eat dinner. In the picture above, notice someone is having a nap at the dinner table, after having a nap in their tent.

Later there were some speeches and a band played. It was such a fabulous atmosphere. It was like a fun cross between camping, being at a really quiet rock concert, and having joined an army with a yellow uniform and excellent food.

During the speeches, someone shared how cancer had touched his life…how he slowly watched cancer defeat his best friend.

I sat in the crowd and looked around. I looked at people’s faces. Faces of total strangers. There were so many. In that moment, it made me appreciate that everyone had a story. Everyone around me, at some point in their life, cried heavy, silent tears for someone they loved and lost.

If there was one part of the Ride that I will remember forever, it would be that one.  I knew that my tears are not alone.

Phew, another heavy moment.

I went to bed at 8:30pm and fell asleep promptly! But I woke up at 2AM with a really sore back and I couldn’t get back to sleep because – there was an orchestral chorus of SNORING going on in several of the tents around me. So in that way, it was just like being at home :)

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

By 4AM I decided to “wake up” which was a good decision because I was first in line for the toilets, bathroom, coffee (they were damn fine coffees!) and the hot breakfast.

I don’t usually eat such a hearty meal before a long ride, but I was soooo hungry, and who can resist the smell of bacon? The breakfast spread was amazing.

I was quite worried about my ride for Day Two… because of my poor sleep, my sore back, my sore bum, having just eaten too much food before my ride… and the fact that I HAD NEVER RIDEN 100KMS BACK TO BACK BEFORE.

But hey, for Day Two, I think I had my best ride ever!!

I stayed with the faster riders of my group. We rode fast, we worked as a team, it was really exciting. Like REALLY EXCITING. And fun!

Then later on I lost my team because of a pit stop and bad communication (I didn’t shout out loud enough!).

So I rode with some strangers, and lead them peleton-style passed other riders, collecting a train of riders on our tail. Yes I was leading! Ok it wasn’t very fast (about 28-30km/hr). But still, talk about a RUSH!!

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

By lunch time we had rode 60km all in one go and I was quite pooped.

I saw all these bikes lying like sleepy cattle on the grass and it was exactly like how I felt.

So I decided to take it easy for the rest of the ride. You know, try to enjoy the last of the experience rather than ride hard and fast and give myself a heart attack.

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

The last 40kms was quite challenging and fun. We rode along main streets, on roads with lots of traffic and traffic lights.

There were quite a few hills that went up and down… I’m proud to say that I was fit enough. I did fine on the ascents and loved zipping down the descents. But I completely lost my group.

And finally for the last 10kms, we rode along my favourite part of the river in South Perth, with spectacular city views and crazy perfect weather!

(Yes I had 3kms left to the finish line and can you believe I stopped to take a tourist photo of the Perth City skyline?!)

The Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer - Perth 2012

With the crowd cheering, I passed the finish line with a huge grin on my face. What an accomplishment! Definitely one of my proudest moments!

Day Two’s ride was 113kms, and I finished it in 6.5 hours (4.5 hours of riding with 2 hours of rest). So I rode a total of 210km over 2 days.

Pardon for the confusing photo above. I didn’t actually come second place (SILVER)! After I put my bike away, I wandered back to the finish line and noticed that the media on the big screen was playing a kind of honour roll for people who have raised the most money for the event. I saw my name pop up, got a bit of a shock, then I stood there till my name rolled past again and I took a snap!

Thanks to all my incredible supporters, I was ranked 12th highest individual fund raiser ($16,910) and given the honourary title of Silver Ambassador!

The Perth event raised a total of $4.6 million and was the largest cycling fundraiser in Western Australia’s history. The money raised will help fund life-saving cancer research at Western Australian Institute for Medical Research.

(And if you’re interested, the Brisbane event raise $5.2 million, Sydney raised $5.7 million and Melbourne raised $6.2 million – that’s over $21 million for cancer research… AMAZING!)

It was such a remarkable experience and event. To be part of something so huge was just EPIC! I completely recommend it!

………………….

If you’d like to read about my whole cycling journey, you can follow me as I first rode an agonising 10km distance, to getting my first road bike, to discussing the anti-fashion of lycra, butt creams and having sore lady bits…

Or if you’d like to sign up for next year’s ride in 2013, head on over to the The Ride to Conquer Cancer website and choose your city.

Anyone want to join me next year? :)


Pigeonhole + Generics Pop Up Shops

24 October 2012

As much as I love shopping at my regular global, fashion stores (which can be very mainstream and same-same)… I also love love LOVE buying from quirky-cool shops and local boutiques that offer eye-popping accessories, cool homewares and unique vintage style clothing designs.

The other week, I went to a launch of the Pigeonhole Pop Up Store.

Pigeonhole Pop Up Shop

I’ve known Pigeonhole’s owner Johan, for a number of years now… since he started his uber cool shop in a teeny tiny space in a small, old, narrow arcade in the city. Now to see his shop, his brand, his vision… explode into a kind of mega store of quirky-cool goodness, right smack bang in the central mall of Perth City (next to the main train station no less!) makes me all teary and filled with pride.

They celebrate their 5th birthday and Pigeonhole is now run by a team of 50 staff, with five stores in Perth and Northbridge, an online store, a cafe and gallery, and a production house!

Pigeonhole Pop Up Shop

You can find plenty of old school film photography gear, cute stationery (I found some vintage-style alphabet ink stamps!), cute bottles, glassware, ornaments, racks of clothes, and lots and LOTS of jewellery!

Btw the way you can buy custom Polaroid film here (and online!) – very cool!

Pigeonhole Pop Up Shop

To top it off, they had a fun fashion show showing off the latest arrivals for the new season. Love those prints! Love those colours! And the shorts!

The Pop Up Shop runs until January 2013
140 William Street, Perth City (corner of Murray Street)
(Next to Perth Underground train station on Murray Street)

Pigeonhole Online Store
If you are interested to check out their online store, they have some really nice necklaces and bracelets (I liked the metal chain ones with antique silver finish) and very cool earrings and rings.

Their shipping fees are :
Flat rate to Australia is $5.00.
International rates start from $22 – $50.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Generics Pop Up Shop

Then after that event, I looked out the window and noticed another new pop up shop in the 140 William Street Building.

Generics Pop Up Shop

GENERICS is a fashion accessories label (run by a friend of mine) full of cool and on-trend handbags, travel bags, clutches, belts and jewellery from around the world and inspired by the love of people, travel, culture, music and fashion.

Generics Pop Up Shop

I love her collection and amazed by how well priced everything is.

That spike necklace is so mine!!

Generics Pop Up Shop

Myself and Lisa (the brains and passion behind GENERICS!)

It turns out they had a mini shop celebration that night too, with tasty snacks, drinks, good company, lots of photos and some crazy dancing in the store. It was such a fab night!

The GENERICS Pop Up Shop runs until January 2013
140 William Street, Perth City (corner of Murray Street)
(Next to Perth Underground train station on Murray Street… near Forever New)

If you pop in for a peek, do let them know that Karen Cheng sent you :)


Back to Cuddles and Coloured Pencils

22 October 2012

Pencil Sharpening

After my big, BIG weekend of cycling – sweat, tears, courage, emotions, pain, inspiration, exhilaration and ALL THAT GOOD STUFF…

…it was soooo good to come home, to be scooped up in my husband’s arms, to cuddle my children, to cook a yummy meal, and to do slow, relaxing and simple tasks.

Like sharpening pencils with my 3 year old.

And to realise that LIFE is pretty damn awesome.


Shopping Files: Zoe Karssen and Leather Pants

19 October 2012

Yep I have been shopping again – much to my husband’s dismay.

Zoe Karssen and Leather Pants

I wore this outfit to an event last week. And took a few quick snaps to show off the bits and pieces…

1) I love the cool, rock styles of Amsterdam label Zoe Karssen… which you can buy from various online luxury boutiques.

I fell in love with their printed tees, and I found this RAD tee on The Iconic.

The material is 50% Cotton 50% Modal, the cut is effortlessly gorgeous, the neckline is not too low. It’s just a great, luxe, simple tee, with a cool print haha. See more tees from Zoe Karssen

I also bought it with a special coupon code – so I got 20% off!

Or you can head over to access The Iconic Up to 70% Sale here.

2) Next I bought the a pair of faux leather pants from Topshop. And they look fricking awesome.

The fashion girl in me has lusted after a pair of real leather pants for years – the biggest obstacle being the price. But I’m completely satisfied to say that these Topshop pants fit so amazing well and look sooo cool, that I have ended my search :)

3) I’ve had the white fur coat for a while now.

It’s by a very cool Korean brand called GUSET, which is stocked in YesStyle.

Hoping to find a similar fur coat in black for next winter!

4) My silver necklace was from Equip!

I don’t usually buy from Equip, because most times their jewellery looks cheap, and they use poor materials. But this necklace looked great, it had a really good weight to it and it looked well made.

It was also on sale, from was something like $20, but I got it for $3. That fact alone made me inspect it inside and out, to find out what was wrong with it. But there was nothing wrong with it, and it was a great buy! Haha it pays to look.

5) My shoes are by designer label GlamRockChic.

Hee hee I have been wearing these everywhere! It’s because they make any outfit look great, they look a bit different to your standard pump heel, and they are super duper comfortable.

That’s all for now, have a fabulous weekend!

xxx

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


A Close Escape

11 October 2012

Nokia and iphone

Recently, my husband had to go away to a little rural town for the weekend, and I was staying home to look after the boys. Only hours before he left, he found out that his 1990s era mobile phone WOULD NOT WORK where he was going (wrong frequency to use the local roaming service), but that my iPhone would. So, we swapped phones for the weekend.

Bad, bad, BAD idea!

It was very confusing for both of us. Whenever I received a message from him on “his” phone, of course it was from MY phone, so said that I was getting messages from me! Huh?

And then I had to type a message to him using those tiny tiny tiny little buttons (multi-tap keys), so my messages to him were very short. And I felt very out of touch… because nobody sent any messages to HIS phone except him. Or rather, me.

But it was worse for my husband, since he had never used an iPhone before. He found the interface very confusing.

He spent the whole weekend getting phone calls and texts from my girlfriends trying to organise play dates, confirming coffee dates, asking me which colour shoes they should buy, my family members organising Sunday dinner. My sister wanted to Facetime with me from London, but he didn’t even how to get it to work. He even got a message from my mother asking if he/I wanted the left over roast pork.

Now, my husband and I do not spend very much time apart, and after only one day, he got quite …lonely. So he sent me a very, hmm… how can I put this nicely… affectionate text message. It left no doubt that he really wished that I was right there with him.

The only problem was that… he nearly sent this very private text message to…. MY MOTHER!

She was the last person to text him, and he, in his confusion, had chosen to “reply to last message” instead of starting a new one.

His finger was hovering over the “send” button when he realised his error.

I nearly died when he told me about this later.

It would’ve been so wrong! Imagine receiving an inappropriately intimate text message from ME/HIM!

Gah.

I’m sure she would have worked out what had happened… and perhaps she would have been glad to know that after 10 years of marriage, he and I are still keen to spend time together.

(Oh, and we also recently found out that our sons have been reading our text messages to each other! Delete! Delete!)


My Fashion Festival Outfits

4 October 2012

Every year the Perth Fashion Festival seems to get bigger and better! It is always packed with a lot of fun and enjoyable fashion events, making the city come alive, and it’s just a great way for me to support and see the latest collections by fashion designers from my hometown.

Having said that, it is completely out of step from my reality = Domestic mum with cooking and cleaning duties, to then slapping on some makeup, throwing on a frock and then sitting front row and tweeting instagram photos to thousands of people! Haha! It’s so surreal sometimes. In moments like these, I always pinch myself, sit back and feel so thankful and grateful for the opportunity.

Anyway, this year I REALLY enjoyed myself.

I only went to a few shows this time, but for me, it was just the right number of events for me to cram into 6 days. I’ll be posting about the actual events, collections and clothes in separate posts. Right now I just want to share what I wore!

PFF12 - What I Wore

This is me and the lovely Sussan, at the VIP Closing Night Event.

I’m wearing my emerald Genevieve dress from Pia Gladys Perey! I did a review of the dress in this post here, where I was considering whether to keep the coral, lilac or green dress. I wasn’t sure about the green dress because the colour was a bit unusual (in a Kermit the Frog kind of way) and my children hated the colour and were pressuring me to get the coral dress.

In the end, I did choose the green… and it was such a great choice!! Sooo many people walked up to me and complimented me on it, took photos, and lots of people asked who it was by. So I consider that a total win haha!

But I thought I would share with you the rather traumatic day I had getting this outfit together.

First, although I knew I was going to wear this dress to the event and I wanted to have the dress slightly altered, one thing and another led me to be BADLY under prepared.

So I ended up really desperate to find a tailor who could have the alterations done THAT AFTERNOON. So I went to the first tailor that I could find and used some evil tactics – battering my eyelids, being all smiley and sweetly chirpy at him. He did it for me in a few hours, yay. But then he also asked me whether I was married, and let me know that he had a son who was single! ERRR OOPS NO SORRY, HAPPILY MARRIED THANKS!

I had the length shortened (for $40) and the halter neck strap taken up (for $25).

Second, the event was also a masquerade cocktail party, so I raided my sister’s dress up box and found a pretty sequined feathered mask for my outfit. But, the mask was over 10 years old and was falling apart. Also, it had a tacky elastic strap that held it on…and I didn’t like that.

So an hour before the event, I asked my my wonderful husband if he could help me out.

First, he suggested that rather than wear my sister’s mask, I should try wearing the LEGO HEAD HELMET that we made a few weeks back . When I declined, he super-glued my sister’s mask sequins back in place, and he also hot-glued a chopstick to the back of the mask… so I could carry it in an elegant way.

Finally ready to go out, I was saying goodbye to my sons, who were all sitting around eating dinner. And then my seven year old son stared at me and said “Mum, are you wearing anything under that dress?…because it’s got a big hole in the front!”

I looked down and released he was referring to the split in the front of my dress.

I was rather stunned to be told by my own son , who is in primary school, that I might be indecently dressed. In fact, I had a flashback moment to when I was 17 and my mother said something similar to me. And my response was the same…yes, I was going out “dressed like that”.

pff12-outfits05

This was my whole outfit for the night!  Photo was taken by the always delightful Matt Jelonek for The West Australian newspaper.

PFF12 - What I Wore

Moving along. This is what I wore to the Ae’lkemi Show on a different night.

I was invited by Ae’lkemi’s designer, Alvin Fernandez, to come into his showroom for a private pre-show viewing of his brand new collection. My eyes bugged out as I saw all his amazing gowns up close!

He also organised for me to borrow a gown to wear for the show and for me to sit front row – Oooh la la, I was in fashion girl heaven! I won’t lie, I felt so very honoured, pampered and special tee hee.

I won’t say too much else about the dress, because I have another post coming up, dedicated to this dress and the Ae’lkemi collection!

pff12-outfits06

However, I  also found myself in the newspaper a few days later… and wondered if Alvin organised that too?

PR people are so clever.

PFF12 - What I Wore

Then I wore this gorgeous chartreuse cocktail dress to the Flannel show.

It is an Aurelio Costarella silk dress, which I bought on mega sale. I’m not sure what the original price was (I think it was somewhere between $600-$500) but I bought it for $150. It has silky soft pleats and the hem actually has a slight bubble to it, giving it a lovely shape that was wonderful to wear.

The neckline was lovely too, but it was quite low and deep. I wore a black strapless bra, and I used a bit of fashion tape (double sided tape) on my chest to keep the dress in place.

I dressed it up with simple – but chunky – gold accessories.
Gold tassel earrings are by Mezi from Frockaholics
Chain bracelet is by House of Baluch from The-Dreamery.

pff12-outfits07

I did wear some other outfits to the fashion festival (courtesy of my-wardrobe)!

But I have already shown them in a previous post… so if you would like to read about them, view them here in this post.

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


The Money Shot

2 October 2012

Margaret River

So, this is where I was and what I was doing, last weekend.

The above photo was taken at the White Elephant Cafe in Gnarabup Beach, Margaret River. The cafe had a few wooden tables over looking the beach, and ahhh it was bliss. I find that a steak burger always tastes better when eaten overlooking the Indian ocean!

We had a family holiday “down south”, as we say in my home town. It was fantastic! We only went for three days, but it was enough for me to rest and recharge my batteries.

We stayed with friends, who also had 3 kids, so most of our activities were tailored for the children.

Busselton, Dunsborough and Margaret River are very popular holiday destinations for the people who live in Perth. It’s only a 2.5 hours drive south, and it is full of awesome food places, local wineries, cheese factories, chocolate factories, bush walking, hiking, caves to explore, boating, fishing, zillions of playgrounds for the kids… and the best beaches in the world, in my humble opinion :)

Busselton Jetty

This is Busselton Jetty, the longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere (about 2km long). There’s a train that can take you to the end of the jetty, and there’s an underwater aquarium at the end too.

(Many years ago, I did a scuba dive at the end of the jetty AT NIGHT! It was pretty amazing!)

We took the kids to lots of interesting parks and places, including the Yallingup 3D Maze and Puzzle Cafe.  And a climb through Giant’s Cave!

I also managed to squeeze in a quick 20km cycle for myself.

But most of all we relaxed and hung out at the beach.

It was young boy heaven. They had a gang of friends to run around with, water to splash in, sticks to sword fight with, rocks to climb on, and sand to make castles with.

It was a simple and easy holiday, but we all had a fantastic time!


Sweetness is Forever

24 September 2012

With 26 more days until I do my charity fundraising ride, I wanted to share a post from the past.

I wrote it in 2008, four years after my husband was diagnosed with cancer.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Life’s Sweetest Word

22 July 2008

Four years ago, this month, we weren’t in a good place.

My husband was battling cancer and underwent his first round of chemotherapy. It was an aggressive form of cancer, resistant to chemo, and there was no guarantee of success. We had a 2 year old kid, and we just got news that we were expecting another baby.

Every July that comes and goes, I sit and make myself remember it all.

I remember the bleakness. I remember driving through rain, towards the hospital, walking through a car park littered with leaves. I remember the smell of the corridors. The sounds of the machines and medicines. I remember having no joy in my spirit.

I remember trying to live – one day at the time. Having to concentrate on just getting through that single day. It was too painful to think about the future, or life. I would crumble at the thought of how the little things would never be the same – a family picnic in the park, a trip to the beach, a cup of tea at a cafe.

I remember thinking that I might lose my best friend. That my children might not remember who their father was. That I would be sitting in our house, with every single object around me, reminding me of the man I love. That I might forget his face.

I remember the sheer focus and mental discipline that was needed to stop myself from going mad. The thousands of terrible and depressing thoughts, raining relentlessly in my head, images I couldn’t stop, clouding my view, gripping, choking, dragging me down to that deep, dark place.

I remember faith. Holding on to this really huge floating thing that kept my head above the water. I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with it, nor why I was doing it at the time, but it was big, much bigger than me, and it worked.

I remember the helplessness. I remember I couldn’t do a single thing to change anything. Nothing. Just hopelessness. Emptiness. And heart-wrenching sadness.

Then I snap out of it.

I sit back from my awful recollection, I look at myself – here – in the present.

And I think, Oh my God, how did we escape that one?

Did that really happen? Am I REALLY sitting here with my healthy husband and not one son, but TWO sons running around outside, throwing leaves at each other in the garden? With everyone smiling and laughing and happy as can be?

Why did things turn out like this? What on earth did I do to deserve it?

I’ve come to realise that concepts like “fate” and “destiny” are meaningless to me.

Whereas I discover one of life’s sweetest words – grace.

It heals all that is broken inside me, and makes me want to change my life. To live the best I can. With purpose. With significance. With gratitude. With happiness.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

And now back to 2012.

My husband survived that battle with cancer. Now there are THREE sons!

He/We were lucky…no question, very lucky. But what made that luck possible, gave him a CHANCE at luck, was that before he got sick, a lot of smart medical people had done the research to know what was the best thing to do.

And my friend Claire, who died earlier this year, died because not enough research had been done.

And that’s why I’m riding, and a lot of other people are riding. And if you make a donation, you’ll be riding with me too, to help clever people find the answers that one day might make you, me, and the people we love, lucky too.

Make a difference?


WIN $1000 to spend at my-wardrobe

13 September 2012

To celebrate the new and exciting fashion season all over the world, I have teamed with my-wardrobe to bring to all my wonderful readers (yes you!) another amazing giveaway!!

We’re offering the chance to win a gift card of AUD$1000 for you to spend at luxury online boutique my-wardrobe.

Which means you could pick up some designer items that you’ve been drooling over, namely from Acne, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Marc Jacobs, Carven, Vivienne Westwood, Mulberry, By Malene Birger, McQ Alexander McQueen and more!!

These are some of the outfits you could win with $1000. (Or rather, these are the items I would pick if I was allowed to enter the giveaway.)

WIN $1000 to spend at my-wardrobe

McQ Alexander McQueen
Ivy Leaf Jacquard Knitted Dress

MICHAEL Michael Kors
Small Black Webster Shoulder Flap Bag

Diane von Furstenberg
Jodi Metallic Printed Leather High Sandals

WIN $1000 to spend at my-wardrobe

Paul & Joe Sister
Baileul Cotton Lace Top

Sara Berman
Exclusive Skinny Leather Trousers

Sam Edelman
Nude Lorissa Peeptoe Court Shoe With Studded Heel

Anton Heunis
Green And Blue Spiked Pendant Earrings

WIN $1000 to spend at my-wardrobe

Just Cavalli
Wolf And Jewels Print Tunic Dress

Terry de Havilland
Exclusive Mimi Lightning Court Shoes

Diane von Furstenberg
Tonda Weave Contrast Patent Clutch

Who Can Enter:
It’s open to all readers WORLDWIDE, over 18 years.

What You Win:
The winner will receive a my-wardrobe gift voucher to the value of AUD$1000.

Giveaway Dates:
Starts on 13 September 2012.
Closes on 27 September 2012, 11:59pm (GMT +8).

How to Enter:
1) Follow my-wardrobe on Facebook OR Twitter.
2) Fill out the form below, with your name, email and tell me which is your ONE favourite designer label from my-wardrobe.

The winner will be randomly selected and contacted via email. If the selected winner doesn’t respond in 24 hours, then I will have to redraw. I will announce the winner as soon as possible on my blog and my Facebook Page.

I will also be posting a reminder on my blog and Facebook Page, before the end of the giveaway.

Good luck!

This giveaway is now closed! Thanks so much for entering.


Where Goats are Scary and Chickens are Crazy

12 September 2012

My 3 year old is learning about FARMS at school.

So the other day, the whole class went for an excursion to visit a real life working farm, called Landsdale Farm School, run by the Department of Education and Training.

It is seriously an awesome place to take kids. There are so many farm animals, gardens, play areas, picnic areas, a sun safe playground, and a café that does decent food.

But the catch was, parents HAD to attend. Which I guess is fair enough, because there were only 4 teachers and 30+ kids.

The truth was… I had already taken my older 2 children to this farm years ago. I had already seen the sheep show, fed the goats, gawked at the pigs, chased the chickens, had the tractor ride, and a donkey ride, ate at the café.

And the thought of spending 5 hours there – during the day – made me sigh inwardly with irritation and reluctance. Haha I’m such a bad mum.

But it was my 3 year old’s first time at a farm. He’s a bit of a clean freak and he doesn’t like to go to new places, so I knew the experience of new sights and activities…would be good for him.

So I sucked it up and was ENTHUSIASTIC AS CAN BE!!

But perhaps he saw my façade.

Because on the day, my 3 year old was SO GRUMPY about the whole thing.

For me, I (surprisingly) enjoyed myself. It was really nice to revisit the farm, and to see how the whole set up had been designed for children and education. Fascinating stuff.

But Liam didn’t like the cows, or sheep, or goats, or pigs, or turkeys, or the tractor rides, or the farmer’s scones.

He didn’t like how the chickens ran around loose and wild. Or how the baby goats followed us around. He didn’t like the gnomes. Or the walking between animal pens.

He just clung onto my legs for most of the time, grizzling and grumbling and saying things like, “I just want to go home and play with my Lego.”

“I really want to go home and eat noodles.”

“Are there any puzzles here? Can I watch TV or something?”

Ergh, I was so irritated at him.

In fact, he only cheered up when he found NUMBERS to look at!

Liam at Landsdale Farm School

So we walked around pointing at signs with letters and numbers, of which there were few.

(Oh he thought the bunnies were cute, and enjoyed feeding them stalks of grass.)

Anyway, that’s life with kids. Good intentions quashed. You feel like you put so much effort into things and it ends up being spat on the floor and stomped on. Eh.

To end on a lighter note, I just want to share this painting that Liam did during class time activities.

Plastic Goat

Pink. Blue. And total randomness!

Hilarious!!


Just Add Facial Hair

11 September 2012

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were invited to a 70s dress up party. It was party for adults (no kids allowed!), with dinner, alcohol and live band. A lot of our friends like to dress up to the max and spend a lot of time and thought with costumes, so we were keen to join in the fun.

So what do I wear to a 70s party? Well, it takes a 2 second search of the internet to discover that 70s costumes are a loud vomit of crazy colours and weird facial hair.

When considering what to wear, the biggest factor for me is COST. Sure I could go out and buy or hire an awesome outfit for hundreds of dollars. But I much prefer to pay as little as possible and be much more creative.

I remembered that I had a brown and orange floral dress made by my mother in the 1970s. I wore it here in this blog post.

Wearing this brown dress would be easy and cheap!

Buuuut I realised that I had some tall white boots, which I bought YEARS ago and wore a few times, and have never worn them since. So I was kind of eager to wear them out.

This is what I came up with.

70s Costume

The white boots are mine. The pink floral scarf is mine. And so are the white shorts.

I went to a thrift store and found a size 16, baby-doll style top, with big loose sleeves and a trippy paisley print on it – for only $3!

I sewed the waist up, so it fit me a little better, but I kept it all loose and flowy, baby. I wore the top as a mini dress, and put on the shorts for my own modesty – but they matched the boots anyway.

I was so pleased with my outfit! Only $3!!

While I was in the thrift store, I bought another paisley, floral LADIES top for my husband. I thought he could wear it with white pants?

He had no qualms about wearing the ladies top (ha!), it was a dress up party after all. But it looked totally wrong! The top had frilly sleeves, the neckline was a little too scooped? And it was just a NO. I made the final decision.

So the day before the party, I sent him to the costume shop and made him hire an outfit. Yep and it cost him $100 something, including a hire bond.

70s Costume

Haha. Yes that’s me in 70s men’s clothes! It looked pretty good!

In fact, I think I totally rocked it! I wanted to swap outfits with him, but he was not too keen on my little white shorts.

Plus he wouldn’t be able to fit my boots. Oh well.

We had a great time at the party!


Holiday Dresses by Pia Gladys Perey

4 September 2012

Earlier this year, I reviewed a glamorous navy “Bea Dress” by designer Pia Gladys Perey. It turned out to be a stunning and sophisticated dress that was easy to wear and made from a delicious silky and slinky jersey fabric… I just love wearing it!

Well the team from Gosh Celebrity Fashion offered for me to review another dress (actually, three) from PGP’s current collection, AND they are offering all Karen Cheng readers a special discount… 15% OFF on full priced PGP dresses. (Scroll below for details and the code.)

I was terribly excited, because I already adored PGP’s designs… and after a looong time of careful deliberation, I chose these 3 dresses to review.

They also kindly offered that I could keep one as a “gift”… so I had the very difficult task of choosing my favourite of the lot.

Here goes!

Dresses by Pia Gladys Perey

This is the Esme Dress in Coral. It is a one shoulder maxi dress with rouching on one side and a side split.

The colour is gorgeous and I chose it because it’s so happy, vibrant, and not a typical evening gown colour (which is usually black, red, navy or silver).

It would be perfect as a cocktail dress or a red carpet dress.

The price is mid-ranged, but still very affordable for an evening gown, considering the quality, design, flattering cut for my body shape… and just how good I feel when I wear it!

I really liked this dress style because it’s very versatile… you can dress it plainly or dress it up to the max.

I was thinking that I could wear this to a wedding (my cousin is getting married in December!), a daytime event, a fancy ball, a special function or event… anything really.

I would have to take up the hem (can you see the puddle of fabric at my feet? I’m so short!) but that’s easily done… and I shouldn’t really let my height (or lack of) determine the dress I select.

(The dress also comes in champagne and navy.)

Dresses by Pia Gladys Perey

Ooh this dress had me at LILAC!

I was totally in love with this colour!! It’s different and sweet, peaceful, calming, pretty, magical, and soothing.

This dress is the Mikaela Dress in Lilac. It’s a little more affordable than the maxi dresses, retailing at AUD$218 (with 15% off it’s only $185.30!!!)

The dress fits like a dream. I just slipped it on and it just felt GREAT. Comfortable, flattering, modest, sensual, pretty, elegant, classy. It’s a simple dress but still with interesting rouching detail that really flatters your body shape. The material is the same soft, slinky, stretchy jersey that has some weight to it.

It has good sized shoulder straps, so you can just wear your regular bra with it. Big plus!

I don’t think I would wear it to a fashion event or a black tie function. But I would definitely wear it to more semi-formal occasions like a wedding ceremony and reception, a daytime luncheon, a garden party, a stage show, an elegant dinner with friends.

The length of the dress is lovely on me – I wouldn’t have to get the dress altered. Another plus!

I was really tempted to choose this dress, because I would get a lot of wears from it and… it would be perfect for me to wear to my cousin’s wedding coming up.

(The dress also comes in turquoise and navy.)

Dresses by Pia Gladys Perey

Aaand finally… THIS is the dress I finally chose!!

It is the Genevieve Dress in Emerald (also comes in a navy colour).

I picked this one because it is just STUNNING! It has a long maxi skirt, halter neck style, deep V neckline, with a front split. Combined with the very vibrant green colour, it is bold, dramatic, fun, dazzling and sexy.

Not to mention, the silky stretchy jersey makes it fabulous and comfortable to wear. So it’s not everyday when you find a dress design that ticks all the boxes.

Ok even I’ll admit that the colour green is very bright. Almost like Kermit the Frog? But it’s unusual and it’s bold. And I really like that.

The dress is pretty much backless, and because of the low neckline, I had to wear an adhesive bra, as well as sticky lifty adhesives (both of which I don’t really like to wear) but hey – it looks good, end of story.

I’ll also need to get it hemmed up and with all that leftover fabric I could probably make myself a mini skirt (or a lot of scrunchies) haha.

This is without doubt a formal, black tie, red carpet dress. So I don’t think I’ll wear this to the wedding. It’s definitely one for fashion events and fancy formal functions. Yay I’m very happy!

*Special Discount Code*

Gosh has kindly offered all Karen Cheng readers a 15% discount on full priced Pia Gladys Perey dresses. Just use the code ‘springracing’ at the checkout. Valid from 4 – 14th September 2012.

Free delivery for Australia. And they have worldwide shipping and hassle free returns.

If you’re interested, you can still buy the “Bea Dress” from Gosh Celebrity Fashion. I have it in a navy colour, but it also comes in ash, latte, lilac, silver, red, or purple. It retails for AUD$239 (with 15% off it’s only $203.150!!)

For all the PGP dresses, I was wearing Size 6.

ENJOY your shopping!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


Stephie’s Shop

28 August 2012

Stephie’s Shop

I’d love to introduce you to a lovely online boutique that I’m quite taken with… it’s called Stephie’s Shop.

Their clothes are stylish, understated, sophisticated and polished, yet still with playful and fashion forward details. The garments are of a good quality, yet very affordable.

You can find lots of stylish work dresses, tops that are perfect for going out or for the weekend, nice skirts for mixing and matching, and some great accessories.

The boutique has been around for 4 years, they are very popular, they add new stock items every day… and they have recently launched their own label, specially designed for their boutique.

For the outfit above, I’m wearing little Cream Lace Shorts from Stephie’s Shop. Unfortunately they are sold out now. You have to get in quick :)

(Blouse is from Frockaholics.)

Stephie’s Shop

I also chose this top and skirt.

The top is the Floral Vivid Imagery Top, with a flattering cut, V neck and puffy sleeves. I really like it because it’s so simple, yet looks great with all kinds of different bottoms (shorts, skirts, jeans and pants)

Stephie’s Shop

I styled up the top in a FLORAL ON FLORAL outfit. As crazy as it looks, it was such a fun and loud combination to wear! Loved it!

I also wore it with my lemon yellow jeans and nude heels.

Stephie’s Shop

The next item was the Perfect Peplum Skirt. And yes it was quite perfect!

A twist on a pencil skirt, the peplum creates a gorgeous hourglass silhouette and adds a fun, flirty detail to an otherwise plain outfit.

The skirt is made from a heavy, thick material, but still soft and stretchy. It has a zip at the back and a slight stretch to the waistband, which made it very comfortable, fitted and not constricting. It fit me very nicely. The length was great too.

They have international shipping and a super friendly customer care team, to deal with any returns or issues you might have.

Do check out their New Arrivals section, as they are always adding new items to the collection. They are definitely one of my new favourite online shops!

Enjoy browsing or shopping!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


The World’s Longest Running Show

23 August 2012

The other day I went to an Opening Night Premier for The Mousetrap, a classic Agatha Christie murder mystery.

The show is celebrating its 60th Anniversary, since first opening in London’s West End in 1952. It has been performed over 24,000 times and has been seen by 10 million people!

It is said to be the world’s longest running show – which made me think, I have to see it!

The Mousetrap 2012
Image by James Morgan

I haven’t seen a stage production in years, so this was a brilliant return for me.

The performances were amazing, a plot was superb, it had me guessing the whole way… it was so much fun :)

The Mousetrap 2012

It was held at His Majesty’s Theatre in Perth City.

I’ve seen so many performances in this beautiful old theatre, it was nice to be back, sitting in the red velvet stalls, soaking up the atmosphere.

The Mousetrap 2012

And this was my outfit for the evening. I was also wearing yellow shoes and a white fur coat.

Perhaps the most special part of the show was the surprise ending… which the performers asked everyone in the audience to keep a secret! So no “WHODUNIT” spoilers from me!

The show runs in Perth from 14 August – 26 August
His Majesty’s Theatre
825 Hay Street, Perth
Tickets BOCS Ticketing

Then it heads over to Melbourne, Adelaide, then Wellington (New Zealand).

You can check out the Mousetrap Australian Tour website here.


New trends you must try – Khakis and Parkas

19 August 2012

Army greens, military details, camouflage prints and parkas are set to be a bit hit for the new season.

New Trends to Try: Khakis and Parkas

I’m not a fan of the camouflage, but I love the colour khaki. I have a lot of it in my wardrobe!

I wore this the other day – my khaki field jacket, white jeans and a few new items.

Jacket: 10 year old field jacket from Just Jeans
Top: New khaki tank top from Koo
Jeans: White skinny jeans by Fendi
Shoes: New and absolutely divine heels from Habbot – currently on sale!

New Trends to Try: Khakis and Parkas

I also ordered this new fur-trim parka and it has been my staple, go-to, every-day jacket during these cold wintery days.

I just wake up in the morning, put on a top, sweater, throw the jacket on and head out the door to drop the kids off at school. Best jacket ever!

The funniest thing about it is… that I had one very similar when I was 17 years old. And wearing this new jacket now, reminds me so much of my high school bogan days.

So I put together this outfit in honor of my inner bogan.

Jacket: Fur-trim Parka by Tokyo Fashion (via YesStyle)
Shirt: Button down from Cotton On
Tank: White tee from Country Road
Shorts: Black denim shorts from Zara
Stockings: Polka dot stockings from Forever New
Shoes: Black suede heels from Betts

Have a fantastic weekend!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


Life at 9 and 7

13 August 2012

Boys and Medals 2008

Four years ago, our family was hit by Olympic Fever. My boys were 5 years old and 3 years old then.

I couldn’t work out what they loved most about the Olympics – identifying all the flags, actually watching the sports, or just the fact that they got to stay up a bit later each night to watch TV with mum and dad.

Well. FOUR YEARS have come around again. Now my oldest child is 9, and my middle child is 7.

Looking back at this photo of my boys… makes me really miss their little-boy stage. Things seemed so much simpler then.

I don’t talk or blog about them much these days. But OH YOU CAN BE SURE they are a very big part of my every day life.

They are 16 zoo animals wrapped up into 2 human boys. A goat, a monkey, a sloth, a lion, a bull, a baboon, a crocodile, a hyena, a snake, a cockerel, a scorpion, a hippo, a chipmunk, a meerkat, a fox, a turtle, and hmm, maybe a teddy bear at times.

Every single day from 3pm when I pick them up from school… I get the relentless avalanche of questions… from BOTH BOYS, at the same time:

What are we having for dinner? Do we always have to eat that? Are we having visitors over for dinner? Why not? What day is it today? What day is it tomorrow? When will it be Thursday? Why are you answering his questions and not mine? Why are you ignoring me? Can I play on the computer? Can I play on the computer AFTER I do my homework? Can I go over to my friend’s house? Can I go to my friend’s house AFTER I do my homework? Are you listening to anything that I’m saying? What time is dad getting home? What time do you think the sun is going to set? Can I watch TV? Can I watch TV AFTER I do my homework? What time is it now? Can I have a snack? What are you making for afternoon tea? Why is it taking so long?

My patience simmers.

I juggle them, I juggle my responses, juggle dinner, juggle a 3 year old (who is also asking me questions)… until my blood boils and I totally lose my shit and scream CAN’T YOU SEE I’M TRYING TO MAKE YOUR GODDAMN SNACK RIGHT NOW AND CAN EVERYONE JUST SHUT THE HELL UP AND LEAVE ME ALONE FOR 3 MINUTES!?!?!?!?

OK that may or may not have actually passed my lips.

But my eyes. Oh my hot, burning stare is enough to send them to their rooms to do their homework quietly while I put together a plate of cut fruit for afternoon tea.

At the ages of 9 and 7, I’ve had to deal with issues like poor attitude towards homework, disrespectful behaviour and tone, talking back, rudeness, laziness, lack of self-discipline, sibling rivalry, constant bickering, stirring each other, stupid childishness… and just being unmotivated time wasters.

I do talk to them a lot. And I listen to them too. When we sit down for a chat, we’ve had talks about careers, the kind of cars they want when they grow up, where they want to live, where they would like to travel, what kind of part time jobs they are going to get. We’ve talked about girls, tampons (oh yes), what makes a good teacher, what makes a great leader, what makes a happy person, what kind of people they like to hang around with… and soooo much more.

My kids are very blessed in that they haven’t had many stresses or struggles in their life. And when little problems, or issues occur, they seem to act very maturely, which I have to admit, surprises me.

Maybe because I’m female? Shouldn’t there be more drama? Somebody said WHAT to you? You’re not upset about it? Exactly what tone did they use? Did anyone else hear it? What did you say back to them? I dig and dig and dig for more info. But nada. I get nothing. They are upfront. What you see is what you get.

They really just don’t DWELL on stuff like girls do. Haha!

For example, one was not invited to friend’s a birthday party, but he was so gracious and understanding about it. He just shrugged his shoulders and said “Eh, they’ll be more parties.”

One put his name down to join the school cross country team. He knew it’d be a lot of hard work to train for it, he was keen and up for the challenge, but at the same time he was kinda cool if he doesn’t make the team. He said, “It’s not the end of the world, mum. I’ll just try my best.”

Disputes with friends are easily solved. They like their teachers. They like school. They do well.

In fact they just seem a little too cool and relaxed about everything.

Is there anything that they are deeply passionate about? Yep. Two things.

Computer games and reading. Isn’t that funny!

Sure one boy likes drawing. One likes cooking. Both LOVE playing sports and playing with their friends. They love their play dates and outings and movies and toys and guns and Lego and pocket money. But the book and the screen are their true loves.

However I’m not very equal with the 2 things. And they know it. I will buy them any book they want. Take them to the library once a week. Allow special time allocations for reading. Hunt for new stories. Engage in long conversations about stories, characters, plots and subplots.

But for screen time (computer games, console games, ipad games), they have to work hard for it and earn it. They get rewarded blocks of time in order to have 30 minutes of screen per week. Yes only 30 minutes per week! I’m such a meanie! If they misbehave, they get blocks of time removed from their weekly quota. Screen time is the currency in our house.

I don’t know if that’s the right way to do things, this day and age.

I sometimes get worried that they won’t know how to type properly, or format a word document, or research for information on the internet… and that will put them behind the other kids. But I tell myself that I was 16 when I discovered there was such a thing as “e-mail”!

Anyway, I am so deeply proud that both my big boys have developed a love for reading.

And by love of reading, I mean, they change into their comfy tracksuit pants, find a quiet spot in the house, snuggle up under a blanket and read a novel for an hour. Each day. It makes me very happy.

So despite the 16 zoo animals thing, they’re pretty good kids. I’m real proud of them. And I love them to bits.


A Million Expressos Look Like This

6 August 2012

Gino’s is an iconic and popular cafe right in the middle of the Fremantle Cafe strip.

And this is the door frame at Gino’s front entrance.

gino-door

I could have showed you pictures of delicious coffees and their selection of handmade cakes. Or the very cool walls adorned by local artists and photographers.

But this old door frame just evoked the sheer sense of age, history, and the bountiful number of cappucinos, expressos, hot chocolates and gossip that has passed through this door over the years.

I don’t know exactly what each of these layers of paint tell us about all the human activity that has happened here… but I just love it.

I hope they never redecorate!


Cycling Update – Bikes and Girly Bits

3 August 2012

Here’s an update of my cycling adventures as I train towards my Fundraising Ride to Conquer Cancer – 200km in 2 days!

1) My New Bike!!

New Bike

Yes I got a bike for my birthday!! Ain’t she hot?!

Brand new road bikes are pretty expensive, so I spent a bit of time looking in the second-hand market. It took me ages to find a bike in my size. But yay, I finally found one that was super light, super small, bright yellow and fit me PERFECTLY. She is 7 years old, and I’m so happy with her!!

The bike is a 2005 Giant TCR 1 Aero, with Shimano 105 groupset, a Selle Italia Nova seat and other cool bits which I won’t bore you with.

Haven’t got a name for her yet. Any ideas?

2) Cycling Buddies!

I’ve recently joined a cycling group to help me train for my ride. Our team leader is awesome – he’s a seasoned cyclist with tonnes of experience, he is attentive, supportive, patient, and gives me lots of great advice and tips while I’m riding.

And now I’ve been cycling 70km every Sunday morning! Amazing!

My fitness and energy levels are up, as is my confidence and spirit. I’m feeling so damn fine, and I’m so thankful for my husband for making it possible (ie. looking after the kids all day)! Definitely couldn’t do it without him, or all my supporters. Thank yoooou!!

OK, back to my cycling group…

It seems that I’m the only female in the group. There are supposed to be a few other women, but they have been sick, or nursing an injury, or they forgot to set an alarm – so I’ve never actually met my female group members yet.

I hope they turn up soon. You see, the guys don’t seem to do much talking WHILE cycling. And I like a bit of a chat. I want some Sunday gossip. I want to know what was the last thing they bought, what they think about different brands of energy drinks  and what they are cooking for dinner tonight blah blah blah.

But more important than that, I want to talk about…

3) Vaginas.

That’s right. After a long ride, male cyclists talk about being “Saddle Sore”…

But for us women, we’re talking about our lady bits.

4 hours on a bike seat? VERY SORE VJAY.

See? That’s why I need some women in my cycling group!! Can you imagine me cycling along on the path, next to my male team mates, chatting about the Olympics, the Tour de France, the weather… and my sore vagina? Neither can I.

When I first started this crazy adventure, a few women told me that it was very common to have a sore nether region after a long bike ride. I guess having three kids – au naturale – made me somewhat confident that my magic flower could cope with anything. Hoo boy was I wrong.

I bought padded cycling pants, which I wrote about a few weeks ago.

At the time, I was told that you have to wear the padded pants with NO UNDERWEAR, to avoid chaffing. No undies? I simply couldn’t imagine it. But when I started riding longer distances and spent 2-3 hours on the bike… I got very sore. Eventually, on one ride, I was in so much pain and so desperate for relief… that I stopped to take my underwear off!!

I can’t remember the last time I walked out of a public toilet with my panties scrunched up in my pocket. Ahem.

Amazingly, it worked. I felt free, wild and a lot less chaffed!

But alas, as my riding distance increased (3-4 hours on the bike now), the pain has returned.

So I did a bit of research. I found a blog by a female cyclist who talked very honestly about her saddle-stressed labia (not as bad you as think). And on her recommendation, I bought a tube of Women’s Chamois Cream – designed specifically for friction and chaffing. Meaning, it will prevents your delicate region from being rubbed raw. Oh joy.

dznutsbliss

It’s called DZ Nuts Bliss and it’s not exactly the most classiest looking product. On the packaging, there are a bunch of pink, penis-shaped bike seats arranged in flowers. Eew. It looks naughty. Like lube. Which it is. But not that kind of lube.

Verdict. It is DISGUSTING with a capital D. It’s a totally and utterly GROSS. It’s like walking around with what feels like 3 tablespoons of cold mayonnaise squishing around in your knickers. BLEEERRRGH. But it WORKS. Good lord, it works a treat.

Moving right along now.

3) C-C-COLD

It is winter where I am right now, and it has been soooo cold lately. I’ve had to stop riding very early in the mornings, because the temperature drops down to 2C… and my toes, fingers, nose, ears get so numb and sore – it’s just not worth it for a 1 hour ride.

Cold Weather Cycling
This is me all rugged up for cycling in the cold weather!

You’re actually not supposed to rug yourself up too much, because you get too hot from all the cycling. But I’m a wimp. When I leave the house at 6am in the morning, I have 3 (sometimes 4) layers on my body, beanie, gloves, 2 pairs of socks… and while I ride, I shed them layer by layer and toss them into my backpack. It’s such as hassle!

4) 10 WEEKS LEFT!

I have 10 weeks left until the big ride! So far I have raised $4,159.08!! But my target is $10,000.

I’d love it if you could help and support my ride by donating $20, $50 or whatever you can to fund research to find the cure for cancer.

Please head over to my donations page and make a donation!!

The money goes immediately and directly to cancer research.

Thanks for all your support!


My Little Green Thumbs

16 July 2012

A while ago, I was landscaping my garden and digging out some OLD plants to make room for some NEW plants. I had a few mysterious plants (left by our tenants) which were unidentifiable to me and surplus to requirements… so I asked my 7year old son to drag them over to the compost heap.

Instead he asked if he could make his own garden.

In fact, he announced that he was going to make a ZEN GARDEN.

He got this idea from the computer game, Plants Vs. Zombies (where you have to build a garden to keep out the zombies from attacking your house!) . I thought it was very clever and intuitive of him.

Both my kids set to work and… look at what they came up with!!

Zen Garden

How cute is that?!?

My kids are gardening!

They collected various rocks, pebbles, shells and bricks from all around the yard and spent HOURS arranging everything into a cute little landscape for themselves.

They asked me for more plants.

Then they harassed me for even MORE plants.

They found a few statues (or junk that could be used as statues) and decorated their garden.

Then they harassed me for more statues.

Zen Garden

My mother came over to visit later that day. She’s a hardcore gardener.

She was *so tickled* by what she saw that she went out – straight away – and bought some extra gnomes and garden ornaments for them. A reading ant with a solar panel, which lights up a little light at night.

Zen Garden

During the whole process, they asked so many questions about… what were the best plants to grow, which plants can grow from cuttings, how to consider the size of the plant in 5 years, which ones needed a lot of water and which were high maintenance…

It was all very cool.

Despite the “Plants vs Zombie” irony, I love it that my kids are so excited about something that’s not a computer game.


What I Want For My Birthday

28 June 2012

Dawn Cycle June 2012

I took this photo during one of my recent morning cycles.

I woke up at 6am (in total darkness!) and as I rode, I saw this breathtaking sunrise over the river.

It made me feel so small, so grateful and so inspired. I felt so alive. So peaceful. So happy.

I was thinking about my big Fundraising Ride and how I have committed to ride… 200km. It still sounds crazy!

It doesn’t seem possible at this stage… but I’m slowly working towards my goal.

I can feel the excitement and courage of pushing myself mentally and physically. Overcoming my fears, self-doubts and anxieties. Mixed up with feelings of drive, pain, and euphoria. The journey has been amazing so far!

But what has really surprised (and stumped) me… is the fundraising. It isn’t going too well.

A handful of generous people have already donated, to whom I’m very thankful. But I’m just not reaching my fundraising goals… it’s surprisingly *really* hard work!

So…

My birthday is next week and well, I thought that I’d take a moment to be all bold and brave (since its my birthday)… and ask if YOU would like to donate $10 ($20 or maybe $50?) to my fundraising bike ride?

I’m trying to raise $10,000 for cancer research and I need all the help I can get!

If everyone who reads this blog donated just $10 to the cause, I’ll DEFINITELY be able to reach my target… and that would really be the best birthday present ever! :)

You can go to my donations page and make any donation amount you wish. You can leave a public message, or a personal message to me, or just do it anonymously. And you get a receipt, so you can claim this against your tax.

The money goes immediately and directly to cancer research.

Thank you sooo much!


Frockaholics: Up to 60% Off Sale

20 June 2012

Frockaholics

Yep, the sale silly season is upon us!

Frockaholics are having an amazing sale, with up to 60% off clothing and accessories. Scroll down for details.

The team at Frockaholics sent over a huge box of sale items for me to borrow and style. I picked out my absolute favourites – things I would buy to add into my wardrobe (if I had the money)!

This Gold Willamina Dress by Rachel Gilbert is just gorgeous! It is glamorous, striking and sophisticated. Its style is simple, classic and oh-so flattering!

I would definitely pick this dress to wear to a glamorous event, or a fancy party. After wearing it 3-4 times, I’d keep it in my wardrobe for a few years and then bring it out again for a new lease of life. Good long term investment.

Gah the dresses by Rachel Gilbert are stunning! See more items by Rachel Gilbert

Frockaholics

When I first saw this Magdalena Velevska Embroidered Top, I thought it was “interesting and unique” – which is my other way of saying “MAYBE A BIT TOO WEIRD”.

But once I put it on and looked in the mirror, I feel in love with it! It’s so INTERESTING AND UNIQUE!!

It’s funky and cheeky, mysterious and bold, colourful and fun – and a real statement. It goes great with dark jeans, black pants, a pencil skirt and other dark coloured bottoms (which I have a lot of in my wardrobe).

I picked this top because it’s perfect for work, play and the weekends.

See more items by Magdalena Velevska

Frockaholics

Ok this next top is goooorgeous! It’s a sheer silk shirt by Antipodium.

The print is unique and colourful. The colours are a bit muted. It’s one of those shirts that can be for work, for day time outings, evenings, worn tied into a knot, worn open, tucked in, worn loose.

Would go well with a pencil skirt, shorts, skinny jeans, wide leg pants and more.

The jeans I am wearing are Jegging Jeans by Red Valentino. Admittedly it is the first time I’ve ever worn jeggings… because I am of the view that you either wear JEAN or LEGGINGS thank you very much.

But OMG I am kicking myself now… because they are so so SO FRICKING amazing and comfortable and lush and soft and firm and… possible the nicest pair of skinny jeans that I’ve ever worn… that now I have changed my view on jeggings :)

Sigh I wish I could afford them.

Frockaholics

Lastly, I really liked this dress by White Suede. I liked the cut-outs and the deep red colour. It’s a simple and understated shift dress, with a bit of a twist. It was lovely and easy to wear too.

With a blazer and heels it’d be great for work. Then a quick shoe swap would make it perfect for after work drinks and cocktails too.

View all the Frockaholics Sale Items

Happy shopping and hope you find something you love!!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


Behold My Pink Baboon Bum Pants

19 June 2012

While training for my Fundraising Ride, I’ve noticed that…

Cycling makes my bum really sore. And I mean REALLY sore.

Everyone I have spoken to, instructed me to get some proper cycling leggings – with padding!

My first thought – OMG there’s no way I’m going to wear BIKE PANTS! They were a hit in the 90s, when I was 12 years old. I had 3 pairs, one in fluoro pink, orange and green. Not doing THAT again!

Anyway, after a few more sore bottoms from my training sessions… I reluctantly went to a bicycle shop and found a pair to try on.

I stepped into the shop’s change room and inspected it.

I had never seen one in my life.

Cycling Padded Pants

What the? It was like I was looking at the pants of a kinky cat-woman suit with fake muscles and lifty-up bits in *totally* the wrong places.

Cycling Padded Pants
Hello down there!

Padded cycling tights are just that. They have an ergonomically shaped padding, special countoured grooves and specially designed bumps and lumps in all the right places for maximum comfort.

Cycling Padded Pants

I turned it inside out. Looks like a baboon’s ass! Eeew!

How are people supposed to walk around in these things?

AND GET THIS… they have been specially designed so cyclist are not supposed to wear any underwear with them. Ahem.

Cycling Padded Pants
Ewww lumpy.

It’s like I wedged a cushion down my knickers, and I have to walk around with it between my legs!

The lumps and bumps make my ass feel like a LEGO BIT that click-fits onto a bike seat!

(I guess that’s the whole idea.)

Cycling Padded Pants

I’m so not impressed.

But we shall see.

AND… apparently you can buy bum creams to reduce chaffing!

This cycling business is crazy I tell you!

….

Please help me raise $10,000 to help find the cure for cancer!!

You can go to my donations page and make any donation amount you wish – $20, $50, $100, $500! You can leave a public message, or a personal message to me, or just do it anonymously. And you get a receipt, so you can claim this against your tax.

The money goes immediately and directly to cancer research.

I want to make a difference! Please help me?


Wrapped Up in Love

12 June 2012

The team at GlamRockChic sent over a few pairs of shoes for me to get excited about.

(Also you can receive “$100 off when you spend $300”!! Scroll down for details.)

What I love love love about this brand is their dedication to making glamorous-looking shoes that are comfortable (and affordable).

These shoes are called “Wrapped Up” and it are an absolute delight to wear. They feel so soft, smooth and comfortable. They have a mid heel and… I can wear them all day – for work and play.

They are especially great for wearing in countries with warm weather, since they feature open toe and open sections for the foot to breathe. But really, I wear them in cold weather too :)

AND they come in three different looks. Behold!

GlamRockChic Shoes

This is the Black Wrapped Up shoe, with a dash of zebra print! Very edgy glamour, but still chic.

Made from sheepskin + zebra printed calfskin hair… this is definitely more striking than your normal peep toe black pumps. This design would be the most versatile shoe, since they are black and white, and will match and compliment many different outfits and looks.

GlamRockChic Shoes

I styled this shoe in two outfits. One being a very classic, simple and chic look (in all neutral colours) – black jeans, grey top and black blazer. My staple outfit. The shoes added just a touch of extra style and statement. I love!

The other outfit was a bit more fun and flirty. A party look, that is still simple and not too over the top. The shoe looks great for both outfits!

GlamRockChic Shoes

This is the Beige Wrapped Up shoe. I love the colour combinations of beige, tan and leopard print.

It is described as “a different twist to your standard nude pump”. I’d say they would be great for the office (if you can wear open toed shoes).

When I saw it I instantly thought of wearing it with blue jeans and a crisp white shirt. Or white pants and a coral coloured top. Or navy cropped pants and a nude top. The possibilities are endless with this shoe, especially when worn with whites, creams, nudes, tans, navy, reds and oranges.

GlamRockChic Shoes

Again I put together a neutral coloured outfit (all-white!) and the shoe looked fabulous with it.

And I also to prove that it can be worn at night time, I wore a more party-ish outfit – you can’t get more party-ish than a body con dress and fur coat!

GlamRockChic Shoes

Lastly, this is the Fuchsia Wrapped Up shoe.

I’ve had this pair for quite a few months and I can say for *certain* that they are super comfortable and lovely to wear.

I’ve worn them quite a few times and they have been great for colour blocking. I’ve worn them with a tangerine dress, an aqua dress, a silver sequin dress, a lime top and black jeans. Excellent shoes to wear with colourful outfits.

GlamRockChic Shoes

The outfit on the left shows that yes, the fuchsia shoes can look great with a simple neutral coloured, semi-casual outfit.

Most times when you have a “very colourful” dress, you tend to wear neutral coloured shoes (black, white, nude, grey, silver). But these fuchsia shoes go with heaps of different colours. A really nice buy!

**SPECIAL DISCOUNT CODE**

Get $100 off when you spend $300!!

With any purchase of shoes worth USD300 and above on GlamRockChic’s website (does not include shipping), apply the code PAMPER100 to get USD100 off the total bill.

Then select ‘Postal Shipping’ at checkout and we will upgrade it to Courier Shipping (which is faster and more secure!)

Code: PAMPER100 (big caps all the way)

Promotion duration: 12 – 26 JUNE 2012

Happy shoe shopping my dears!!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


The Evolution of Karen’s Bikes

7 June 2012

Bike Mummy

I call her “The Mummy Bike”

I’ve had this bike for a few years. My husband found it dumped by the side of the road. He put a child seat on the back of it, so I could ride with my toddler to the river. But this was when I was riding with my other two kids on their bikes, and we would go very slow, about as slow as a fast walk.

When I first became serious about cycling, I simply rode faster, without the toddler. And it was very, very hard work. Even without the toddler, the sheer wind drag of the baby seat was huge. I was exhausted and disheartened.

Then my riding friends explained it to me – I was crazy trying to make the bike go faster…it just isn’t designed for it. It is made of heavy steel, it is rusty, and it has huge, knobbly tires. And a baby seat.

I was only riding distances of 5 – 10kms on this bike. Veeeeeeery slooooowly.

Bike Huffy

HUFFY the Trainer

When I decided to do my Fundraising Ride to Conquer Cancer – I was given a new(ish) bike!

It just so happened that a friend of a friend of a friend happened to have a small sized bike they wanted to get rid of (which was my size). They gave it to me and I was soooo excited.

Why? Well, it was much newer than my Mummy Bike, it was lighter, it had low resistance “slick” tires, and a bike computer that actually told me exactly how SLOW I was going. And no baby seat!

I called this bike “Huffy” but I couldn’t decide whether it was a “him” or a “her”.

I had it for a few weeks and I started riding distances of up to 20-25km.

But I was still really unfit. After a 20km ride, I felt totally trashed and my whole body would ache for a week!

However, as I got fitter, I was inspired. I could go faster, and it felt good!

And then…

Bike Monzi

MONZI came into my life! (Swoon!)

(Monzi is definitely a he.)

I was researching to buy myself a proper road bike, just like the ones that kept going past me on the bike paths. It looked like it was going to cost me $2000 for a reasonable entry-level, road bike. Yikes!

I was very reluctant to make a purchase before I even *tried* to ride a road bike.

Anyway, in the midst of my deliberation, some friends (Hi Lia and James!) kindly offered to lend me their son’s road bike. Their son had just turned 13, and he was too busy being a teenager to ride the bike right now. That’s right, I am borrowing bike from a 13 year old boy!

So, this is my current bike and it is still *slightly* too big for me. I will be riding Monzi for a few months, before I decide what to buy.

And what can I say? Monzi is glooooorious to ride. I am absolutely *hooked* on cycling now.

I feel like I’m running – no, flying through the air – as opposed to crawling.

Excuse me while I go technical for a moment… He has a rigid, light-weight alloy frame. Rigid, light-weight wheels. High pressure, rigid, skinny tyres. He’s very rigid all over, actually. Noiseless, finger tap gear changes. And other stuff I don’t understand, but love.

After riding this bike, I can say that I’m now a cyclist for life.

I’m looking forward to more training!!

Bring it on!!

Oh and in case you didn’t catch it… Please help me raise $10,000 to help find the cure for cancer!!

You can go to my donations page and make any donation amount you wish – $20, $50, $100, $500! You can leave a public message, or a personal message to me, or just do it anonymously. And you get a receipt, so you can claim this against your tax.

The money goes immediately and directly to cancer research.

I want to make a difference!

Please help me?


Dressing for a Mad Men Party

27 May 2012

I was recently invited to a sophisticated, adults-only, Mad Men themed dinner party.

By “adults only”, I mean there were no children there. It was a sit down dinner with cocktails to start, a delicious 4 course dinner made in the kitchen by a private chef, and lots of enjoyable adult conversations.

Anyway, if you haven’t heard about it, Mad Men is a TV drama series set in New York in the early 1960s. It is particularly adored because of it’s 50s and early 60s fashion and style, with its leading women all impeccably dressed.

And thus my biggest dilemma was – what do I wear??

Mad Men Images

What is the Mad Men style? Skirts are knee-lenth, full circle (flare style) or pencil style.

Necklines are circle scoop, wide v-necked or high boat-neck.

Waists are nipped in to show off an hour glass figure.

Heels are small. Toes are usually pointed.

Hair styles are short, curled, and brushed to one side.

Mad Men Images

I found lots of gorgeous photos and inspiration from the Mad Men website, but I didn’t have many things in my own wardrobe that I thought were fitting for a great outfit.

Mad Men Images

I wanted pay homage to the period and at least to do justice to the amazing style. But I had a fashion block!

I whinged at my husband for a few days, and did the whole “OH WOE I HAVE A WARDROBE FULL OF CLOTHES BUT I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR!!”

So my husband tried to help and sent me this still image from the TV show.

Mad Men Images

Ironically I did have all the bits and pieces in my wardrobe for a Playboy bunny outfit. Even the ears and cuffs. But er,  wrong party!

In the end, I put together a few bits and pieces – a fine knit sweater top, with a full circle skirt, pointed toe shoes, pearls and a faux fur coat of the period.

Mad Men Party - Karen Cheng

This is me and my piña colada (not very New York, but hey, I’m no cocktail police) and some of my lovely friends dressed to impress.

We had an amazing time! 10 of us sat around the dinner table and chatted and laughed all night long! We had a smashing time.

Thanks so much to my wonderful host, Dave and Amanda!

(All images from www.amctv.com. Except the one of me kissing the piña colada.)


Dating my Brother-in-Law

14 May 2012

The other evening, my husband and I planned to go out for dinner, drinks and dancing with a whole bunch of our crazy, single friends.

But as it turned out, our babysitter fell sick at very short notice, so my husband took one for Team-Us. He decided to stay home, and I got to go out.

Yay for freedom!!

However, on this occasion, we had been planning to take my brother-in-law too. In fact, my husband and I were going to have dinner with bro-in-law before we met up with the others for drinks.

So I found myself all dressed up, driving over to my bro-in-law’s place to pick him up to go out to dinner.

On the way there, it occurred to me that I have never, ever been alone with him for any significant length of time, in the whole time I have known him – what 12 years? Obviously, we have always related to each other through my husband, or the kids, or his parents.

He is totally a super nice guy and he’s easy to be around. But he’s like a big brother to me. And now we were going spend a couple of hours, alone, together, in a nice restaurant.

Can anyone say AWKWARD!!!???

I picked him up and we were both like… “OK haha this is really weird!!”

We had a good laugh about it and it was all good between us.

But while we were driving along and chatting normally, I realised that these strange circumstances had made part of me go into a long forgotten territory of “nervous first date” mode, and I was really self-conscious. Uh oh, is my skirt riding up too high? Is my top too low? Do I have lipstick on my teeth? Did I pop a mint before I left? Am I talking too much? Am I talking too little?

OMG why am I thinking like this?!

I thought it was amusing that this insecure part of me still existed.

Long, long ago, I used to go out on a “first date” twice a week in my quest to find Mr Right :) But now er… I haven’t been on a first date since mobile phones had black and white screens, so that’s like – 13 or 14 years! I guess old habits die hard.

Then I thought maybe the problem was that bro-in-law is so much like my husband. Similar age, similar features, same sense of humor, values, etc. Obviously, he’s the *kind* of guy I could go for… no, wait… DID go for. With this realization, I relaxed a lot.

Even as we walked into the restaurant, I realised people might think we were a couple, or a potential couple. But I was cool with that. I wasn’t self-conscious anymore. I didn’t care. However… I may have relaxed a bit too much.

Because, as the evening progressed, I noticed that I was getting all WIFEY, BOSSY and NAGGY with my bro-in-law.

Saying stuff like, “Are you sure you want to order THAT?”

“I’ll have the fish, you get the beef.”

“Can we swap plates? I want to try that beef.”

“Before we leave, maybe you want to go to the toilet?”

As each phrase came out of my mouth, I instantly CRINGED. I DIED OF EMBARASSMENT.

I couldn’t believe I was saying that stuff!! To a grown-up man!

Do I really talk like that to my poor husband? My MR RIGHT, the last guy to ever have a “first date” with me, has to put up with this crap every time we go out together!!

I was just thankful that it was me who was driving, not bro-in-law, otherwise I’m sure I would have given him a running commentary about his poor driving and parking skills haha.

I was very, very relieved when we met up with the gang for drinks. A good time was had by all. And my bro-in-law, ah bless him, he showed no signs of being weirded out by me.

Maybe he was just good at hiding it.

Or maybe he just feels really, really sorry for my husband now.


A Ride to Conquer Cancer – 200km in 2 Days

7 May 2012

I have some pretty cool news to share!

I am going to take part in a 200km bike ride to raise money for cancer research!!

The ride is called the The Ride to Conquer Cancer, and it is going to be held in October 2012 (6 months away!)

Ride to Conquer Cancer

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll probably know that I’M A TOTAL BEGINNER CYCLIST.

You’ll probably even know that my husband found my current bike ON A PILE OF JUNK. It’s a 15 year old, beat up, old, rusty, mountain bike. I ride it along the river with my son on the back. After I have ridden 6 km, I expect to stop at a cafe for lunch, while the boys play on the beach. And when I get back home, I need to have a nap.

Sooooo, how (and why) am I going to ride TWO HUNDRED KILOMETERS?

Well, this is my story.

In 2004, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. It was a horrifying year for us. We just had our first child. And there was so many investigations and uncertainty.

After months of chemotherapy, and two heart-wrenching major surgeries, he survived it!

That was 8 years ago. Now he is [still] cancer-free. And now we have 3 healthy and amazingly active young boys, aged, 9, 7 and 3.

Since then, as you can imagine, life has been very busy for us. We strive to live happy, healthy, low-stress, balanced and fulfilling lives. Living every day, knowing how lucky and blessed we are, but also fearing the cancer returning. I know so many others are going through cancer, or have lost or are losing someone to cancer, and always, the deepest parts of my heart goes out to them.

In 2009, I was invited to a face-to face interview with American cycling champion Lance Armstrong, while he was in Australia – you can read my interview here.

He told me about his foundation, Livestrong, that has raised over 300 million dollars for cancer research, and how most of that money came from the 70 million people who each donated quite a small amount.

At the time, I was *very* inspired to do something to raise awareness of cancer, and fundraising to find a cure. I started to form a few ideas on how I could use my blog to engage in a fundraising project, but I got very busy…because I had my third baby.

Now. Recently my attention has been brought back to this because of a couple of things. In December last year, a six year old girl in Singapore died of cancer. Two years earlier, I did my little bit to help raise some funds for her treatment. Ultimately, Charmaine died because doctors do not know enough about the causes and cures of cancer.

And then, in March this year, my friend Claire died of breast cancer.

So like everyone else who knows someone who suffers from cancer or has lost someone to cancer, I have to somehow “come to terms” with what has happened.

What can I do to be more positive about what has happened, and what might happen in the future?

How can I honor the memory of those who I have lost, and also make a real difference?

Only a few week ago, an article my friend Claire had written was published in a breast cancer support group newsletter. In it, she describes how she found the strength to be positive, and how she kept raising three kids while she had cancer. She was very honest, and admitted that it was very hard work, but she ended with this…

“I remain positive because so much time and money is spent on breast cancer research and I know that I am not alone.”

SO…

When The Ride to Conquer Cancer event came up, I knew it combined my passion for fundraising, raising cancer awareness, my new found passion for cycling and my spirit of adventure… all into one event.

BUT HOLY CRAP, 200 KILOMETERS??!!

That is a staggeringly big, and painfully scary number for me.

I’ve been trying to ride faster on my bike, and I have been tracking my speed and distances. It tells me that being fit enough to ride 200km… is a long, long way off!

But you know what? I want to do it.

I want the challenge. I am inspired. I love cycling. I love adventures. I love trying to make a difference. It’s crazy. But hey, here’s to life!

I will be writing about the whole of my journey on my blog, and I hope you’ll come along for the ride with me. I’ll be asking for donations, and talking about cancer, fashion, fitness, crazy European cycling dudes, and trying not to look and feel like a total idiot!

DONATIONS

The whole point of this is to raise money for cancer research :)

Cyclists participating in The Ride are supposed to set a fundraising target for themselves – the minimum being $2,500.

The careful and conservative-Karen inside me is going – “Always better to set attainable goals! That way you have a higher chance of success! Just stick with the minimum of $2500.”

But the crazy-Karen in me is thinking – “LET’S GO FOR SOMETHING INSPIRING AND HUGE!!! LET’S MAKE LANCE PROUD!!! HE RAISED $3 MILLION!”

So I’m going to aim somewhere *in between* and go for $10,000.

PLEASE HELP ME RAISE $10,000 to help find the cure for cancer!!

You can go to my donations page and make any donation amount you wish – $20, $50, $100, $500! You can leave a public message, or a personal message to me, or just do it anonymously. And you get a receipt, so you can claim this against your tax!

The money goes immediately and directly to cancer research.

I want to make a difference!

Please help me!


Meet Mr Egg Head

3 May 2012

My 3 year old, Liam, and 7 year old, Sean, were playing on a swing set in the backyard.

My husband and I were enjoying two seconds of quiet conversation in the kitchen at the end of a long day of Boys Behaving Badly, Major Meltdowns and quite a bit of Go-To-Your Room.

Liam stood in front of Sean (who was on a swing) and shouted -

I WANNAGO-ONTHESWING! IWANNAGO-ONTHESWING! IWANNAGO! ON! THE!! SWIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING!!!!

I heard the commotion, and I was about to scold Liam for shouting so rudely and loudly.

But Sean – thinking that he might get into trouble if Liam continued to shout – simply jumped off the swing and ran away.

Liam quickly moved in to claim his place…and the empty swing whacked him right on the head. Well, that serves you right, Mr Terrorist!

Liam screamed like a banshee, and I ran from the kitchen to the backyard.

And I watched – literally watched – as this amazing blister swelled up in 20 seconds flat.

Liam howled and howled. I couldn’t hear myself think!

My husband was so desperate to distract Liam from his injury that he offered him a left over Easter Egg that was in the kitchen. We knew he wanted it, because I had confiscated it from him a week earlier, which had been the cause of another nerve jangling tantrum (by him, not me).

Liam - 3 years old

And it worked. Liam saw the egg, and he knew he had won a victory. So he was happy and he stopped crying. So then I was happy. Or at least, I was slightly less unhappy.

And then I noticed that his Easter Egg and the lump on his head were very similar shape and size.

Liam - 3 years old

I was just so impressed with the size of his lump, that I wanted to take a photo of the egg next to it.

My husband walked Liam over to my friend’s house, who is a doctor, just to get him checked out. No broken bones, just a great big blood blister.

Screaming. Bribery. Trips to the Doctor. The Magic Healing Properties of Chocolate.

Just another day in Mummyland!


Giveaway: Win 2 items from AL&ALICIA

1 May 2012

For all you who had missed out on my last giveaway – here’s another awesome one to try!

If you have been a long-time follower of my blog, you might have noticed that I’m a fan of AL&ALICA. I’ve done many features of their collections, I have LOTS of clothes from this label and many of them are my wardrobe staples :)

Their designs are a wonderful mix of flirty + feminine, with a masculine edge. It’s kind of boy meets girl, and oozing with understated cool. Best of all, the clothes are comfortable, using high quality fabrics, with exceptional tailoring.

Well to celebrate their latest collection, the team from AL&ALICA are offering my readers a special giveaway.

Win any 2 items from the AL&ALICA website, of your choice!

Please scroll down for details!

The team sent me a few goodies to review, from the Spring Summer 2012 collection – Time to Pretend.

AL&ALICA - SS12 Time to Pretend

This first dress is the Kite Dress in Blossom colour. It’s probably more of a tunic or a mini dress, with pretty double layer drape at the front. It’s made from such a light, silky and luxurious fabric that you can wear it tucked into skirts or pants.

It’s perfect for warm weather, and those hot days when you still want to look stylish, yet effortless!

AL&ALICA - SS12 Time to Pretend

This is the Spellbound Jellybean Dress – another effortless dress that is pretty and colourful. I absolutely adored this one!

I’ve already worn it twice… and I got so many compliments :) I think it’s so eye catching because of its combination of pretty print and gorgeous tailoring.

The dress looks great with a blazer or denim jacket too!

AL&ALICA - SS12 Time to Pretend

Here I’m wearing a few items.

Emma Frost Top in Whipped Cream colour, which has the CUTEST polka dot bubble sheer things on it. It is sooooOOOooo cool!

This is my favourite piece in the whole collection. It combines *perfectly* with everything in my wardrobe (jeans, skirts, shorts, cropped pants) and gives each outfit a new breath of freshness that’s quirky and fun.

Yellow shorts are the Super Shorts in Buttercup colour. It is a relaxed tailored cut, with pleats, made from super soft tencel, with full lining. It’s lovely to wear. I felt very… luxuriousl, yet casual in it!

Lastly, in the outfit with my bright blue J Brand jeans, I’m wearing a Slouchy Jacket in Powder Puff colour. This is also made from super soft tencel and it’s soooo nice to wear. It’s a double breasted jacket with a relaxed fit.

You can check out the whole “Time To Pretend” collection at the Al & Alicia website!

………………………………………………………………..

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Who Can Enter:
It’s open to all readers WORLDWIDE, over the age of 18 years.

What You Win:
One lucky winner will get to pick 2 items of his/her choice, across all AL&ALICIA collections (including sale items), subject to stock availability.

Giveaway Ends:
The giveaway will last 10 days, from May 1st to May 10th, 5pm (GMT +8)

This giveaway is now closed!

The winner will be randomly selected and contacted via Facebook messages.

If the selected winner doesn’t respond in 48 hours, then I will have to redraw. I will announce the winner as soon as possible on my blog and my Facebook Page (please pop over and LIKE my page, if you haven’t already).

I will also be posting a reminder on my blog and Facebook Page, before the end of the giveaway.

Good luck!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


Liam Turns Three

23 April 2012

Liam turns 3
My little baby turned THREE a few weeks ago.

Liam at 2
This is what he looked like at TWO years old.

Liam at 1
This is when he was a ONE year old.

Liam at 7months
This is him at 7 months.

Liam at 4months
And this was him at 4 months.

Gah, it makes my heart weep to scroll through these photos. Because that’s how fast the years seemed to have flown by – ZOOM.

Anyway, turning THREE was a very exciting moment for Liam. We have been talking about the BIG THREE, for months. We talked up all the cool things that would happen to him.

On the day of his actual birthday, I made him whatever he wanted to eat for dinner.

Meatballs and Jam
It turned out to be meatballs and jam.

Which ain’t so bad. Nutritionally, it could have been worse, like toffee popcorn and fish fingers? Or mud pies and bubblegum?

Pink Dinosaurs
Speaking about nutritional disasters. I bought him a mini dinosaur cake to have that evening (we were going to hold a huge birthday celebration, with a big-ass ice cream cake, on another date).

It wasn’t actually a cake… they were two dino-donuts in his favourite colours (pink and blue). At $2.80 each it was the best birthday cake ever. Ha!

You cannot believe how sparkly-eyed-and-twinkly-toed-excited he was about these dinosaurs!

He was sooooooo happy. He blew out the candles, shouted “THE BLUE ONE IS MINE!!”, grabbed the blue one, and chomped off his head in 2 seconds flat.

I was very quick to laugh at myself – Ahhh, I believe my first and second children had cakes made by me, from scratch, with all organic ingredients, and with no artificial food colourings.

They were lovingly cut and shaped into a creative 3D form (a duck, a plane, a train, spiderman) and painstakingly decorated the night before. And my poor third child? He gets pre-made meatballs and some counter-bought donuts for his birthday… *Chuckle*

Starting School

Liam has been itching to turn 3 so that he could go to school, just like his older brothers.

But now that he is finally 3, he FRICKING HATES SCHOOL.

Trying to *get* to his pre-kindergarten session is a huge drama. He wails and screams at home. He rolls on the floor and flops his body over bits of furniture. He throws his head and arms about as I change him into his kindy clothes. Shoes and socks are impossible. The sight of his Kindy drink bottle makes him howl like you won’t believe.

He cries and shouts, “I DON’T WANT TO GO TO KINDEEEE. AAAARRRGHHH! I WANT TO STAY HOME WITH MUMMMMYYY! I DON’T WANT TO GO! PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME THERE! STAY WITH ME DON’T GOOOOO!! AAAAAAHHH!!!” And it just goes on and on and on.

He fully does the whole spider monkey trick when I’m trying to take him out of the car – wrapping his arms, fingers, legs and toes around anything that he can grab. And I have to pry off his fingers off various objects, one at a time.

Then he has his hands and legs extended out and flapping around like a crazy starfish while I walk, which makes it impossible to move gracefully into the school building.

All the other mums in the car park look at me empathetically. They all have nice and encouraging things to say, that make me feel a little better.

The teachers are WONDERFULLY nice too. My kid is screaming and shouting at the top of his lungs FOR THEM TO GO TO HELL and yet they scoop him kindly into their arms, while I say bye and make a run for it.

Sigh. It is *such* a horrible feeling. I am completely filled with self-doubt. Maybe I got it all wrong, maybe he really is too young? Maybe he is better off at home? Maybe all those parenting experts are right about kids staying home longer? Maybe we’ll wait one more term until he’s a bit older? Or more mature? You’d think that –me– after having 2 other kids, I would know how to handle all this. Nup. I just feel like shit.

Having said that…

When I go pick him up AFTER pre-kindy, he’s like all best buddies with the teachers, telling jokes with them, smiling, giggling, and he is happy as can be. He skips into my arms with the biggest, proudest and happiest smile on his face ever. He has stories to tell me, craft to show me and paintings to explain to me.

So he IS actually having a good and valuable time there. And this pre-kindergarten is one of the best in the area, with excellent teachers and wonderful facilities. So I guess deep down, I DO feel good about it, and I DO feel that I’ve made the best decision for my son. I just wish he didn’t have to string me along his emotional episodes!

Overall… Liam is still super active, super mischievous, super talkative and super loud. And yet he is a sweet little kid and always soooo adorable and funny. Liam has a big personality and I love him dearly!


Flying High with Mrs Pukeface!

19 April 2012

Last week I had a “30 Minute Hands-On Trial Flight” courtesy of Red Balloon.

I booked in for an 8am flight, meaning I had to wake up at 6am, get my family organised and drive over to the air field by 7:45am. Yup! My husband and 3 sons were going to watch me “fly” a plane!

Amazingly, we arrived really early, so we sat in the car park waiting for the flight center to get started up for the day. Unfortunately, this gave me time to get quite nervous.

I noticed that the car park was filling up with cars. And getting out of some of the cars were lots of guys, young and old, all wearing pilot’s uniforms.

The older pilots looked like they were the most serious guys in the world. Experienced, steady, old enough to have some grey hair, but not so old they needed a walking stick and a hearing aid…these were the pilots you like to imagine are going to pilot your plane.

But some of the young ones looked *really* young… like the age of my teenage cousins! They looked like they might’ve drinking a few beers and playing video games the night before, and this morning they were miraculously transformed into pilots with nothing more than a nice tie and a white shirt.

Then it was time to go in. My husband took the kids up to the observation deck to go “Wow! Look at that 1974 twin engined something-or-other!” while I checked in.

The place was immediately calming. It was so well organised and everyone so polite and professional, it had a very calming effect on me.

And yes, the whole place was FULL of dashing young men in uniform! Hello there! Looks like a fine day already!

Plane Fight 2012

While I was waiting for my pilot, I wondered outside to look at an old fashion plane (called a Tiger Moth) sitting on the runway. You can buy flight experiences with these planes, which includes aerobatics (upside-down barrel loops in the sky! Eeep!). Apparently it’s one of their most popular gift experiences.

I met my pilot, Chris. He was about my age, but he did not smell of beer, or have any signs of a hangover. So far so good.

He led me over to “our plane” – a Cesna 152. I was told that it was about 30 years old and its design was from the 1960s. But Chris reassured me that it was a very, very solid plane.

Plane Fight 2012

I have never seen, flown or sat inside a small aircraft before.

I must admit, I was surprised by how LITTLE it was. I always think of commercial jet planes as being humungous mechanical beasts of the sky. But this little plane reminded me of… a large pet rhino. Sorry, a bit random.

I thought a “light aircraft” would weigh as much as a car. But it actually weighed about as much as a double bed mattress. I know this, because when I bumped into the plane with my hip, and it wobbled a bit, just like a mattress. So then I was nervous again, and I felt a little nauseous.

Now… I may as well say this….I’m a famous vomiter.

Someone can spin me around once on an office chair… and I’ll fall flat on the floor, with sickening waves of nausea crashing into my head… and no amount of vomiting can make it stop. It’s not a pretty sight.

Hence, I was getting quite anxious about being in the small plane and being hit with motion sickness, and then spray painting the whole inside of the plane (and Chris’s nice white shirt) with my partly digested breakfast. 30 minutes of vomiting! Won’t THAT be a story to tell the kids!

But, I was very excited at the same time. Nauseous AND excited!

Plane Fight 2012

We strapped into the plane and it was TINY. I felt like I was inside a golf cart! I was sitting shoulder to shoulder next to pilot Chris (who smelt rather nice).

Chris gave me a quick briefing. The plane had “his and her’s” dual controls  – phew! He pointed out the other controls. The fuel. Height above sea level. Speed in knots. Level of plane. Other stuff I don’t remember. There were like 15 dials to look at. I blurred out with overload.

Ok, time to set off.

He swiftly fiddled with lots of buttons, knobs and switches, and checked all the dials and other things. I was very impressed with his multi-tasking abilities. He even reached between our legs and fiddled around with something (totally innocent though. See photo above).

Anyway, he was an awesome instructor. He explained everything nice and simply. He let me know a few minutes ahead, what was about to happen. He spoke clearly, calmly and confidently. I had a heart-sinking feeling that I was now putty in his hands. I was – literally – trusting this guy with my life. But he seemed trust-worthy. And he smelt nice.

He explained that we were going to taxi out to the runway. And that I was going to push the throttle all the way down, then I was going to pull the hand controls up and we were going to take off!

THE HELL?? WHAT?? I’M GOING TO TAKE THE PLANE OFF THE GROUND?!?!

I was going to say something stupid like – I THOUGHT YOU WERE THE PILOT AND THAT WAS YOUR JOB!

But I just nodded my head. And melted into a nervous puddle of goo.

We taxied to the take-off position on the runway. As instructed, I pushed the throttle all the way down and the plane sped until I was bouncing around on my seat. We were speeding along really, really fast! Like speeding along in a golf cart, on a really bumpy golf course!!

Then I pulled the hand controls slowly towards me… and holy shit the plane started to lift. I held my breath.

The sound and friction of the wheels on the bitumen got softer and lighter. My feet felt light. The plane angled upwards. My heart felt floaty. And the plane took off! I was soaring over trees and houses!!

Plane Fight 2012

AAARGH. I TOOK OFF A FRICKING PLANE!!

There’s Chris looking all cool in his aviator sunglasses. I should have worn mine. Would have felt more like a pilot.

Plane Fight 2012

This is me steering the plane with my knee while I text messaged my husband and took photos on my iphone.

JUST KIDDING.

Chris was cruising along, while I lapped up gorgeous views of the city and river.

Plane Fight 2012

This is the famous Cottesloe Beach from above. It was a spectacular day for flying!!

When we were over the ocean, Chris handed the controls over to me and said I can do what ever I liked with the plane. In fact his words were, “There’s nothing you can do that I can’t fix.”

It took me a few moments to understand his phrase… and my mind instantly replayed crazy plane scenes from movies… kamikaze nose dives, ballerina figure 8s in the clouds, hurtling towards a cliff face (or waterfall), weaving between sky scraper buildings and waving at the office workers! No thanks. I was happy with gentle, easy cruising.

I wasn’t very creative. I just decided to slowly turn left. Then slowly turn right. But after all the slow swaying left to right, I was itching to do something a bit more *interesting*.

At that moment I *wished* I had the 45 minute session where there was enough time for the pilot to do some aerobatic tricks!

Yes! Me, Mrs Pukeface! Wanted to do upside-down loops! The desire to have an amazing experience was all too tempting.

And I realised I had absolutely no motion sickness, or feeling of nausea. I felt… freeeee!

Anyway, all too soon, we had to head back to the airport. It was just so cruisey and so cool.

Chris did a perfect landing (as far as I could tell) and we jumped out. He gave me a certificate and said if I ever wanted to learn how to fly, this hands-on trial flight was actually my very first flying lesson! Cool!

I was completely buzzed by the whole experience. I was drunk with satisfaction.

(A big thank you to Chris!)

When I retold my story to my husband, he was oozing with jealousy. He absolutely loves planes, and was grumpy that I described the take-off as “speeding along in a golf cart”. Ha ha!

It was definitely a fantastic experience that was totally worth it!

.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.

The team at Red Balloon are offering my readers a special promotion!

If you would like to give this gift to someone, or buy it for yourself, or any other gift from Red Balloon you can…

Receive $30 off when you spend $129 or more on ANY experience.

To redeem: Visit www.redballoon.com.au and enter the promotional code REDKC12 at the checkout to receive your discount.

Terms and Conditions: Offer valid until 31/12/12. Promotional Code can only be used once per person. All purchases are subject to RedBalloon T&Cs, for full details read here.


Saying Goodbye and Thank You to Claire

5 April 2012

10 days ago, my beautiful and dear friend, Claire, lost her battle with breast cancer.

I met her 8 years ago, through the local toy library – of all places. We were both young, first time mothers and we both had a young baby boy. She had such a gorgeous personality – always smiling, always friendly, warm, funny, so down-to-earth and so genuine.

I don’t know how she did it, but she always made me feel like I was special and that I had a special place in her heart. And the funny thing was, I got the sense that it was like that for everyone who talked to her. It absolutely boggled me as to what magical powers of friendliness she possessed.

I would always leave a conversation with her going, Oh my god, she is such a wonderful person, I wish I could be as nice as Claire!!

We both went on to have 3 boys each. Our boys were all similar ages, all went to the same school, some in the same classes, some best friends.

When she first got the diagnosis of breast cancer, we formed an army of school mums to help cook meals for the family, help with school pick ups, and where ever else we could. She went through various operations, chemotherapy, and other therapies and treatments. The news was always up and down.

There was always another side-effect. Another test to be done. There was always so much waiting, and so much living with uncertainty. Something I already knew too well about because of my husband’s own struggle with cancer.

Things were difficult, but she was so strong and so positive. She formed a support group for other young mothers with breast cancer, she spoke at high schools, she wrote articles for breast cancer newsletters, she was constantly writing thank you cards and buying little gifts for nurses/doctors/friends/everyone! She was one amazing woman, Claire.

She battled the cancer for 4 years, but a few weeks ago, her doctors told her that she only had months to live. And then complications emerged, and suddenly, she wasn’t there to pick up the kids from school anymore.

All of us “School Mums” saw her one last time, two weeks ago, at a school function, surrounded by her family, and she was obviously very, very ill. We planned how we would celebrate her upcoming 40th birthday in an appropriate way, given how sick she was.

Each following day, a group of us would stand around after dropping off our kids, and share what we had heard about Claire’s condition. We were all wearing sunglasses, but I could tell everyone else was crying like I was, because I could see their chins twitching, and they were sniffing their noses. There was nothing we could do to help.

And then we heard Claire had passed away at home, surrounded by her closest family.

I am so relieved that she is no longer in pain, that she is finally at peace.

But it seems so terribly wrong and unfair.

I spent days fighting back the waves of tears that would randomly hit me. Driving along and having to pull over because my eyes were so teary that I couldn’t see the road. Walking down the aisle of a supermarket and bursting into sobs. Watering my roses (with a hose) with tears streaming down my face.

On the day of the funeral, I tried to make some cupcakes to share at the afternoon tea after the cremation ceremony.

I almost couldn’t manage the task of baking, as I was very dazed and distracted. The school rang to tell me I had forgotten to give my son the change of clothes he needed for after his swimming lessons. It turned out that I didn’t have any butter for the cupcakes, so I popped out to the shops, bought $100 worth of stuff, and forgot to buy the butter. When I got home and unpacked the groceries, I put the milk in the pantry and a box of tampons in the fridge… much to my husband’s surprise later in the day.

I was very teary at the funeral. I was not a picture of strength and graceful composition. I was crying so hard that my head felt like it was going to explode.

When I saw her family standing around her coffin, saying their last goodbyes, I was overwhelmed with immense sadness and… anger. My wonderful friend was being cremated on her 40th birthday, and her whole family, her husband, her 3 young boys, and her own mother and father, were there to watch. I wanted to throw up. I struggled to stay upright. My head was pounding. I was choking back sobs. I wanted to scream. I was thinking, Why isn’t anyone else screaming? Why is everyone so quiet?! Am I the only one who thinks there is something so bloody wrong with this picture?!?!

Of course I wasn’t. I know I’m not the only one who is grieving.

Obviously I’m still trying to come to terms with her passing and my own grief…and all the feelings that losing Claire has stirred in me. I know I have a lot of stuff I’m trying to deal with on a very deep and personal level, in particular with my husband’s cancer.

Stepping back a bit, I did realise that it was in fact a beautiful ceremony. Her husband gave a loving, heart-wrenching speech. Words written by her sons were read out. There were more touching readings and a slide show of photographs of her and her family. The family released white doves in remembrance of her. There were a lot of tears, yet there were smiles of strength.

Happy 40th Birthday Claire. I will always remember your warmth and smile, my beautiful friend.
xxx


Getting My High-Risk Romance On

26 March 2012

10 Roses for 10 Years of Marriage

On Friday my husband and I celebrated our 10th Wedding Anniversary!

10 years sounds like a very long time. But really, it felt like it flew by so quickly. Of course, in 10 years, it hasn’t always all been a smooth road for us. There have been a lot of blissful highs and shattering lows.

In ten years we have moved and renovated house three times (each time, we promised ourselves we’ll never do it again), had three children and a vasectomy (to make sure we don’t accidentally do it again), survived a life threatening illness (his) and a marriage threatening depression (mine).

There have been moments when we thought we would never make it.

But we have been lucky in so, so many ways. Our health, family, children, careers, life, finances… and each other. It’s been an amazing 10 years.

Anyway, to celebrate our anniversary… usually we find a posh restaurant and have a really nice, quiet, expensive and romantic meal together.

However, this year I wanted something a little more memorable and special.

I decided that I was going to surprise my husband!!

This was a big risk, because… he doesn’t like surprises.

In fact, it was a deal we made when we got married… no surprise parties. Ever. I exploited a loophole in our marriage contract by telling him it was a surprise. So he was expecting the unexpected – but of course, he still didn’t know exactly what it was. He seemed…okay(ish) with it.

But, when the moment came, I was terrified that it would all go wrong.

I told him we were going out for dinner, so we both got dressed up – suit and cocktail dress stuff. As we left the house, I insisted on driving. Every turn I took, he was trying to guess where we were going, based on our direction.

It was nerve-racking!

I drove him to a spot on Perth’s spectacular river foreshore, facing the gorgeous city skyline. It is where we usually to go for our evenings walks, and it was on a park bench here, during a conversation about ingrown toe nails and duck migration, that we somehow proposed to each other and decided to get married.

The spot was in a very popular area, and as the sun was setting beyond the river, there were lots of people jogging, cycling, walking their dogs. As we got out of the car, we looked very out of place in our fancy dinner attire (like a pair of peacocks at the beach)!!

My husband got very confused. He thought we were going to catch a river ferry to get to the restaurant? Or that the restaurant was on a ferry? Then he thought we were just going for a walk before dinner?

As we walked along the path by the river, people were gawking at us and I felt very conspicuous. We walked past a dog doing a poop on the grass, which seemed to be constipated, squeezing so hard his eyes were jiggling about.

I suddenly realised I had probably made a really, really bad decision. But there was no turning back now.

We walked on past Poop-Dog, my husband in silence, and then we came to something else very much out of place by the riverside.

A restaurant style, silver-service table setting for two, with table, chairs, a white table cloth, plates, glasses, silverware, candles, roses, place-mats, napkins, and my husband’s favorite food in a warmer under the table. I gestured to my husband to sit.

My husband was absolutely stunned. I could tell because he was doing a pretty bad job of trying to keep his huge smile down to just a cool smirk. He loved it.

Of course I had arranged everything weeks in advanced.

From the exact spot on the foreshore, to all the bits and pieces, to the food, to how we were going to keep to food hot, to his present, to the exact time of our arrival. I got my brother-in-law to deliver, set up, and to guard everything until we arrived. When he saw us coming, he had to run and hide behind a tree, like a crazy stalker dude. Thanks bro-in-law!!

I timed it so as we sat down to have dinner in the open air beside the river, we could watch the sun set over the city skyline.

I made sure we would see the lights in the city turn on, the twinkling stars appear on the dark pink sky, listen to the birds calming down for the night, while we enjoyed our meal and drinks in the candlelight. Hee hee, it was soooo romantic.

Ok. I’m boasting now, but I am so proud. I don’t think I’ve ever gone to so much effort to create a 1 hour experience for anyone before.

But hey, I’m crazy in love with this guy and I think I’d like to keep him. For life.

—————————–

ps.

We never saw the Poop-Dog again.

After the sun fully set, we had to leave because the mosquitoes were eating us alive. We took a stroll beside the river. Then we drove to the city, had a drink in a noisy bar, before deciding we should just go home. We were in bed by 9.30 and asleep by 11.30, and the time difference was not because of reading a favourite book.


A birthday party with waterslides, soap and brains.

19 March 2012

On the weekend I threw a birthday party for my 7 year old son, Sean. We had 8 boys running around our yard for 3 hours – and would you believe, it was so relaxing for my husband and I.

While I understand the wisdom and sanity in going out for a bowling party, or a play centre party, or a movie party, or a water park party… I really do love a simple, home party, where kids can just be kids, running around in a backyard.

It’s seriously some romantic childhood notion of mine.

My mother used to organise these marvellous children’s parties for us in our backyard, and I remember them with so much fondness. So yes, part of it is recreating my childhood, and the other part is passing the happiness and memories over to my kids.

Sean's 7th Birthday 2012

We borrowed a bouncy castle (with a slide) from my friend. And we turned it into a water slide, with a paddle pool at the end. We added a bit of soap and oh my god, they boys played and played and played non-stop for 2 hours.

I also made about 100 water balloons and planned a few balloon games. (My fingers were rubbed raw and blistered up after tying up all the balloons!)

But in the end, I scrapped the games and let the boys have their own fun with the balloons – and they played a no-rules water balloon fight instead. You should have seen the look of *sheer joy of being a boy* all over their faces, priceless!

As for a birthday theme, Sean is obsessed with Plants vs Zombies (the computer game)… and for some reason unbeknownst to me, his friends call him The Brain. Or The Brainiac. So he requested for me to make a BRAIN CAKE. Out of ice cream.

After years of ducky cakes, soccer ball cakes, train cakes, Spiderman and Ben 10 cakes, I think I had reached the pinnacle of my cake making repertoire.

Sean's 7th Birthday 2012

I actually wanted to give it a more “blood and guts” feel to it. Maybe making the dome out of strawberry ice cream, swirled with strawberry jam and chopped up strawberries and jelly bits… to add some grossness! It would have looked awesome!!

Or maybe gone with mint and chocolate chip ice cream, to make it look a bit alien and weird?

But Sean said his favourite ice cream flavour was vanilla, and so it had to be vanilla.

Sean's 7th Birthday 2012I bought a tub of ice cream, pressed it all into a mixing bowl (that was covered with cling wrap), froze it overnight, then popped it out.

I coated it with melted chocolate, and piped more chocolate wiggly lines for effect.

I personally thought it was a bit too simple, but he loved it, and was quite proud of me :)

His words, with a smile: It looks perfect mum!

The wiggly bits were great as ice cream cone toppers too.

Needless to say, the Brain Cake was completely devoured.

The last thing we did, was also a request by Sean.

He wanted to let his friends make their own party bags.

So I set up a little Party Bag Making Station, lining up little bags of toys, chocolates, balloons, pens… with signs that said “1 toy, 3 chocolates, 1 pen, 3 balloons… etc” and I pretty much left it up to the kids to follow the instructions.

They were great. They all filled up their bag honestly and orderly.

Like I said earlier, my husband and I pretty much sat back and chit chatted the whole time. It was such a great day!


I Still Love Him To Bits

12 March 2012

My almost 3 year old has been soooooooo naughty these days.

Smashing things up. Pouring stuff on the floors. Shouting and screaming. Deliberately taking things without permission and making a mess everywhere!

His latest trick is to draw on walls.

Liam's Drawing on the Walls (2.5 years)

Oh man, when I saw this I yelled at him and took away all his pencils.

Because he ALSO drew on the table, chairs and cushions.

He KNOWS he’s only allowed to draw on paper.

At the back of my mind – while I was yelling – I was thinking… Wow that it is actually a pretty impressive drawing! He used 3 colours and made the lines go in different directions.

And to make it worse, it’s a picture of a flower, and if you look carefully there’s a picture of me drawn in yellow.

He was drawing a “beautiful flower for mummy”.

Whatever.

Sigh.


The Low Down Hairy Gossip, Part 2

8 March 2012

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that my advertising sponsors, Nuffnang and Dove set me on a hair challenge – to try out a new Dove product and to keep a hair diary.

The product is Dove Nutri-Oil Serum – a “weightless blend of oils (with coconut oil and sweet almond oil) that are rapidly absorbed to give instant smoothness and shine”.

My plan was to start on a clean slate and give my hair a clarifying treatment.

Then I was going to use my normal routine of shampoo and conditioner, and use the Dove Nutri-Oil Serum as my only hair oil/serum/de-frizz/rejuvenating product for 4 weeks.

Clarifying Treatment – A Clean Start!

Over the years, I have learned that shampoos, conditioners, mousse, hair sprays, creams and gels all leave stuff in your hair. And after a while, it builds up and makes your hair heavy, lifeless, dull, coarse, and yuck. To get rid of all that build-up, you can use a clarifying shampoo – which is a bit harsh, so you should only do it once a fortnight.

I actually use bicarb soda which is nice and cheap – and it works wonders!

I have a jar of it next to my shower.

Step 1) I pour some of my NORMAL shampoo in my hand, add 2 tablespoons of bicarb soda, and work it around with both palms to get it lathery.

(If you have a sensitive scalp, it’s best not to use too much bicarb soda.)

Step 2) I shampoo my hair and wash it out as normal. The result is squeaky-clean hair, but it feels like hard, rough, unmanageable seaweed!!

Step 3) I just condition as normal, and the result is clean hair with no build-up!

Now my hair is OK – but I’m not happy with “OK”, I’m looking for *GORGEOUS*.

Add Nourishing Oil!

An occasional clarifying treatment is necessary to remove the product build-up, but it strips the oils from my hair and leaves my hair rough and straw-like.

So I *really* have to add some nourishing oil or some kind of repair serum to give my hair that extra boost of moisture, smoothness and shine. I do this after every wash.

This is where I try out the Dove Nutri-Oil Serum. I’ve only been using it for 1 week so far.

This is how I apply it.

1) After shampooing and conditioning, I towel dry my hair.

The Low Down Hairy Gossip, Part 2
The Dove Nutri-Oil Serum retails for $9.95 for a bottle of 40mL.

2) I use 4-5 pumps, because my hair is very long.

3) I rub it between both hands and warm it up a bit.

4) I divide my hair into two parts – left and right of my head – and run my fingers through my hair. I start from halfway down the length of my hair, staying away from the roots, and making sure that the ends get a good rub.

5) I blow dry my hair. Give it a quick swipe with my hair straightener.

6) And lastly I use one more pump of oil and give my ends a gentle rub, to really make it shine!

The serum smells very nice. It keeps the frizziness at bay. It feels light. It doesn’t feel greasy or gluggy.

The result has been LOVELY!

What can I say? I would definitely recommend it – especially as an affordable option for smooth, shiny everyday hair.

The Low Down Hairy Gossip, Part 2

Also as part of my hair challenge, Dove is giving away 10 bottles of Dove Nutri-Oil Serum to my readers! Do you want to try a bottle for free?

Just email me at doveoils@karencheng.com.au
1) Your full name
2) Your email address
3) In a few sentences or less, describe your hair (type, colour, style) as creatively as you can.

This giveaway is a game of skill and I will choose the 10 most creative answers. Only open to my Australian readers, over 14 years. Sorry everyone else!

Please read the full terms and conditions!

Giveaway ends on 5:00 pm AEDST on 16 March, 2012


She Died

5 March 2012

I think of my blog as a happy little island – in amongst the trouble and noise of the world. My blog is made up of (mostly) the good things that happen in my life. Yummy food, clothes, cute moments with my kids, inspirational moments. I really try to avoid negative issues in my writing.

But some things can’t be avoided.

Two and a half years ago, I wrote about a 4 year old Singaporean girl named Charmaine, who was suffering from a rare cancer. Her mother was raising money to have extremely expensive treatment in a New York hospital. Tens of thousands of strangers each gave a little, in their own way, to give Charmaine a shot at surviving.

Well, after two and a half years, the treatment options had run out, and cancer overtook little Charmaine. She died in October last year, but it has taken me till now to summon up the courage to mention it here.

She died. I hoped like crazy that she wouldn’t, but she did. I never knew Charmaine or her mother Cynthia, but her story was special to me because I have been in a similar situation.

If you have been reading my website for a long time, you might know, cancer is a topic especially close to me…my husband has nearly died twice, most recently in 2004, when our first child was only a year old.

We have been so lucky that he survived both times.

But it is still an almost daily fear of mine, of what might come back. I am reminded so frequently because a friend of mine, who has children the same age as mine, has breast cancer, and struggles everyday with the treatment and the uncertainty.

What makes Cynthia and Charmaine’s story so important to me is that it forces me – again – to realise how sad, scared and helpless I am.

It is so, so wrong when cancer takes someone so young, and in such an awful way.

Cynthia has kept a blog of her struggle to keep Charmaine in this world, through the whole of the illness. And she still writes this blog now.

I am in awe-filled respect of this woman, who has opened her heart so honestly, in a way I have not been able to.

She has told the whole story, from the shock of the diagnosis, to the hopeful fund-raising for the treatment, the endless, invasive treatments. Charmaine grows from 4 to 6 years old while all this is happening, her whole world shaped by her illness. Cynthia shares her fears, triumphs, and even confesses to praying, in the end days, that her own daughter will die to end the suffering.

If you want to realise how insignificant your own troubles are, if you think you have had a shitty day at work, or you just can’t stand your kids’ bad behaviour anymore, then I invite you to read this post, a few days before Charmaine dies. But I warn you, you will need to have a big box of tissues nearby.

Since Charmaine has died, Cynthia has continued to write about her feelings, of loss, anger, and then depression, and her attempt to make sense of what has happened.

In 2009, I met Lance Armstrong, the cycling champion who has had cancer, survived, and raised hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer research.

I was inspired by him. He survived, and he has communicated to a lot of people about fighting cancer.

And I am inspired by Cynthia too. She too has communicated the experience of cancer in her own, powerful way.

Now I’m hoping to find my own way to communicate about it.


My White Table

27 February 2012

My White Table

I found this little white table about 3 years ago.

Someone was throwing it out and left it next to their driveway. I picked it up, carried it home, got rid of all the spiders and gave it a good clean.

It’s my favourite little table now, and one of my extra-special corners in my home. Filled with objects that only I’m allowed to place there.

I love the mix of white-washed neutral colours and natural textures.

I love the objects filled with memories – the little bird nest, the beautiful piece of driftwood, the special candle holder.

It makes me smile – every day.


I’m not a beauty junkie, really!

10 February 2012

Chanel Loot

I’m not addicted to beauty products as I am to clothes.

There are some people who buy 5-6 new products a week – well, that’s not me!

I like to stick with my usual moisturiser, my favourite foundation, my favourite eye liner and colour palette, my usual blush colours. I have a handful of lip colours, which I’ll update *every so often*.

Over many years of experimenting with products, I think I’ve found all my favourites.

Recently, I ran out of a few items and had restock.

And coincidentally, my most of my recent beauty products were all Chanel…

Vitalumiere Aqua Foundation – I bought this bottle from Strawberry.net.

Nail Colour – Lily Beige from David Jones. One of my favourite everyday nail colours. The colour that I use when I’m not wearing bright nail colours.

Le Crayon Khol, Noir – I love this eye liner. It’s so smooth, intense and lots of pigment. I bought this from YesStyle Beauty.


Chinese New Year: Red All Over

3 February 2012

Last week, my husband and I attended a grand Chinese New Year Ball, held at the glitzy Burswood Resort and Casino.

Admittedly, we have been to quite a few gala balls held by the local Chinese community. Sometimes we go twice a year.

But hey, I love going to balls! I love the dressing up. I love the large ballroom filled with people wearing beautiful clothing. I love the food. And I especially love it when I know a lot of people there and get to chat to everyone. Oh and I do love to dance at the end of the night too!

On the other hand, for my dear husband, it is a bit of a chore. Firstly, he has little choice about his attire. He wears his same black suit every year (sometimes twice a year), with the same white shirt, with the same black shoes, and when I can’t stand it, I might go out and buy him a new tie.

Secondly, he’s deadly allergic to crustaceans – prawns, crab, lobster, oysters, mussels, abalone… and honestly, the biggest feature of a grand 10-course Chinese banquet is THE SEAFOOD. Everything is laced with seafood! The soup has crab! The spring rolls have prawns! The pork has shrimp paste! The vegetables have oyster sauce! The mushrooms have sliced abalone!

The only thing he can eat is the roast duck.

However, we never complain!

We always smile and laugh. In fact, we always make it our total and utter mission to enjoy the evening no matter what. Even if the music is bad. Even if the speeches are long and boring. Even if a waiter spills crab soup on my dress… we always have a good time, because we’re together AT A $200pp BALL!!

Chinese New Year Ball 2012

I wore my Pia Gladys Perey dress from Gosh Celebrity Fashion, which I wrote about in this post. It is such a beautiful dress to wear!

And my Vamp heels from GlamRockChic.

Chinese New Year Ball 2012

This is me showing off my golden nails and bling (from a mixture of brands). But the ones to note, which I’m wearing out for the first time, are my sparkly bracelet and knot ring from this post.

Chinese New Year Ball 2012

During the evening, (when the prawns were being served) my husband went for a walk to stretch his legs and discovered that there was going to be an exclusive fireworks show, put on by the casino.

So we snuck out of the ball, followed some signs and joined a small crowd of people being ushered towards the car park. We found ourselves walking across a grassy field, in the dark and beside a small lake! The fireworks suddenly began, blasting into the air, just across the lake and a little beyond a row of cars! As you can see from the photo, it was a very busy fireworks display, and it went on for a LOOONG time. It was incredible!

Chinese New Year Ball 2012

We came back. I got a bit drunk. And I arranged various red things around my table for fun. Red much? We thought we were so funny. Well, you should have seen my RED face *flush* from drinking too much alcohol!

The very, very, VERY best thing about the whole evening… was that all our children were sleeping over my sister-in-law’s place… so my husband and I got to sleep in the next morning till 8am.

IT’S WAS FREAKING AMAZING!


Spencer Village, Thornlie, WA

30 January 2012

Whenever I miss the hawker style food I love from my days in  Singapore or Malaysia, I always text my Dad and tempt him with one simple word – “Laksa?”

My family has been going to Spencer Village, in Thornlie, for years! It’s a long way from the city (nestled deep in the southern suburbs), but it’s still one of the best places in Perth to get my fix of favourite dishes.

Spencer Village, Thornlie, WA

I do believe it is the most Hawker-Food-Centerish food court in Perth. It is always packed full of Asian faces, and it has that “it’s all about the food, not the presentation” style of cuisine. It’s fast, simple, and great value!

Spencer Village, Thornlie, WA

This is my ABSOLUTE favourite. Coconut laksa with prawns, fish cake, chicken, tofu, mixed noodles, and a big wedge of lemon (I would actually prefer it with lime though).

Spencer Village, Thornlie, WA

This is my children’s favourite, Char Kway Teow. Flat rice noodles fried in a dark soy sauce, with fish cakes, chicken, prawns, bean sprouts and vegetables.

Personally, it’s a bit too healthy for me. I like mine with cockles and deep fried lard, the way I have had it in Singapore. (But I do prefer them to eat healthier!)

Spencer Village, Thornlie, WA

My husband tried something different today. Singaporean Indian style Briyani – which was fricking yum!

Spencer Village, Thornlie, WA

And a large jug of sweetened soy bean milk, to wash everything down.

*Full tummy happiness*

Spencer Village Food Court

200 Spencer Rd
Thornlie, WA 6108

Spencer Village Food Hall on Urbanspoon


My Week in Pictures – School Holidaze

12 January 2012

Bike Drawing

One day I came home after my 6am cycle and I found a few things that made me want to cry – with joy.

1) My husband made banana pancakes for breakfast. There was a massive, freshly-made one sitting on the kitchen counter top, just for me.

2) He also made me a cup of tea, 15 minutes ago, so by the time I returned it was at the *perfect* temperature for me to slam it down fast. Just how I like it.

3) My 6 year old drew a picture and my 2 year old coloured it in (the bridge is pink!). Yes it’s me on a bike, riding on a bridge, over the river. And maybe a shark?

JBrands and Habbot

Had coffee with a girlfriend in the leafy suburb of Applecross last week. It was a beautiful day for sitting outside, under the jacaranda trees, sipping fine coffee and catching up on 20 years of friendship. I wore  bright blue jeans.

Meatballs

We were in Ikea the other day, eating their famous Swedish meatballs. I LOVE Swedish meatballs. But my kids do not.

Boy – Tastes like dog meat.
Me – Umm, you haven’t eaten dog meat before.
Boy – Yes I have.
Me – No you haven’t
Boy – YES I HAVE!
Me – WHERE HAVE YOU EATEN DOG MEAT??
Boy – Mum. I eat dog meat all the time!
Me – NO YOU HAVEN’T!!
Boy – YOU’VE EATEN IT! AND EVEN DAD!! WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?!?!
Me – What are you talking about?!?!
Boy – HOT DOGS MUM!! WE EAT IT ALL THE TIME!! UGH!!

(And the kid had the audacity to roll his eyes at me in that teenager-ish way!!)

Angry Bird Toys

We went to a bowling party, and my 8yo son played one of those CLAW GRABBING ARCADE GAMES.

You know, the ones that we always say, “No you can’t play that. Don’t waste your money. It’s too hard. You’ll never win anything. $2 for one try? It’s like flushing money down the toilet. Imagine what else you can buy with all that money. Those things are designed so no one can win. No one ever wins from playing them.”

But my kid won – not one – but TWO large Angry Bird toys!

OMG my boy is a genius!

While I was SOOOO thrilled for him, like, on the verge of worshiping how cool and clever he was, I was very aware that…
1) All the other boys at the party were already worshiping him (and were insanely jealous).
2) I’ll never be able to warn him, or his siblings, off those Claw Games again. Crap.

Vege curry

Vegetarian meal for this week – Pumpkin, Chickpea and Lentil curry. It was absolutely delicious!!


Pia Gladys Perey Hits My Sweet Spot

4 January 2012

A few weeks ago, I was asked to test out a Pia Gladys Perey dress from Gosh Celebrity Fashion. I didn’t know anything about the emerging Australia designer, yet I oohed and ahhed and then chose a short, navy drape dress, called Bea (size 6).

Pia Gladys Perey from Gosh

It arrived in the mail and OMG it felt AMAZING to wear.

The fabric is soft and slinky, yet strong, stretchy and heavy. It feels like a high quality garment. It’s so comfortable and easy to wear and move in. It falls, scrunches and drapes in all the right places. Quick you must go out and buy one now!
You won’t regret it!

In fact, I’d say that it rates as one of the Top 10 dresses I own!

Pia Gladys Perey from Gosh

I suspect for most people, if you’re going to a fancy end-of-year ball, or a special gala function, or an important awards night, or you’re maid of honour at a girl friend’s wedding… you’d probably go out and buy a $200 – $300 dress? If you’re lucky you might get a nice one for $150. Quite normal right?

Well I can not believe how well priced these dresses are.

I am a big fan of slinky jersey type dresses. And believe me, I have tested out lots of them! From over $500 jersey dresses and $30 jersey dresses… there is probably a time a place for each of them.

But to hit that sweet spot in the middle ground (of price for quality), this collection of slinky jersey dresses have done very, very well.

Pia Gladys Perey from Gosh

You can get different floor length gowns, and elegant short dresses. Each style comes in lots of different colours. They also look gorgeous as bridesmaids dresses!

Pia’s dresses are stocked online at Gosh Celebrity Fashion, currently there are about 43 styles you can buy.

Gosh has offered all Karen Cheng readers a 15% discount on full priced Pia Gladys Perey dresses. Just use the code ‘karencheng’ at checkout. Valid untill 30th January 2012.

Free delivery for Australia. And they have worldwide shipping.

They are also stocked in USA, Singapore, Philippines and Dubai, but you’ll have to contact the PGP team from their website.

(Oh and apparently Angelina Jolie wears Pia’s dresses.)

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.


I never have to buy another nappy for the REST OF MY LIFE!!

3 January 2012

My toddler is 2 years and 8 months and he is finally toilet trained for day and night!!

I announced it on Facebook last week and I had a few people ask for the exact details of how it happened, and the whole process, so I thought I’d write it all out here.

We started many months ago, when the weather was warm. For an hour or so each day, we let him run around outside with no nappy on. He did wees everywhere! We would always point it out to him whenever he would do it, and we’d make a big positive fuss about it.

“Hey look what you did! You did a wee! Wow that’s what your wee looks like!”

Soon he was aware of what he was doing. And he started to tell us “I DID A WEE!” – but he’d tell us after the event occurred.

We’d always encourage him to wee in the potty, or sit on the potty to do the wee. It was all relaxed, fun and exciting.

But it went on for months. And many times it seemed totally pointless. He made such a mess everywhere! There were a lot of poo accidents too. Outside and inside the house. Argh.

I started to get grumpy every time he made a mess on the floor. Our “fuss” lost its positive chirp and took on an irritable edge. So soon he stopped telling me about his wees, and I would just “find” puddles on the floor.

And when I’m walking along, and slip over a puddle of wee, I yell something to the effect of “LIIIIIAM YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE DOING YOUR WEES IN THE POTTY NOT ON THE BLOODY FLOOR!!!!!!!!“

Which of course, didn’t really add any encouragement to the whole situation.

During that time, it was near the end of the year, I was a very busy with work, Christmas concerts, gift shopping, catching up with friends and general holiday preparations… we were out and about every single day, and I hardly had any time to give him his “wee practice” at home. He was in nappies a lot and his progress totally went backwards.

And of course, it was a cycle, the more mess he made, the more I’d just leave his nappy on, and the worse he’s get at controlling his wees and the more mess he’d make, which made me more stressed, and him more stressed…

Anyway, once the school holidays arrived, I was much more relaxed with our daily routines, the weather was warm, the kids played outside for HOURS… and we had lots and lots of “wee practice time” for Liam.

We offered Liam a little chocolate button every time he got a wee into the potty.

And with all the practice, very quickly he was great at sitting on the potty and doing a wee. We had a potty in the house and out of the house too. The kid got so much chocolate!

He still needed a nappy when we went away from the house and at night too.

A few weeks later, we went on holiday to visit my husband’s parents. It was a bit of a gamble, but we decided to take the potty and continue the potty training.

The car trip was going to be 8 hours, which meant he was going to be in a nappy all day, and we thought this factor would bring him backwards.

But for some reason, possibly the change in environment, a different looking toilet, the hint of Christmas around the corner, Liam decided he was now going to do all his wees and poos in the toilet.

And he has been 100% ever since! Day and night.

He does need help to climb onto the toilet. Which yes, is a little irritating when I have to attend to him 6-8 times a day, but the up side is fantastic!

He also wakes up 1 or 2 times a night, so I have to help him onto the toilet. Or sometimes he doesn’t need to go at all during the night.

So there you go.

In the end, I believe toilet training is a combination between the parent’s perseverance, positive training, and the child’s individual nature.

My other 2 children took slightly longer to get the hang of it.

They were both day-time toilet trained by the time they were 3 years old. One was night-time toilet trained by 4 years. But the other was such a deep sleeper, that it took till he was almost 5 years old.


A Trip to the Country

29 December 2011

This year we went to spend Christmas with my husband’s family. 

They live out in the country so we don’t get to see them often. They are an absolute pleasure to be with, so welcoming and so gracious of our noisy, hyper children.

Christmas holiday road trip!

The trip takes about 8 hours in the car. And it is a long, hot journey on the straight, flat West Australian road.

This Christmas, our in laws have decided to sell the family home of 35 years and move down to the city.

There is definitely a strong sense of sadness, finality and mixed feelings in the air. But I guess for me, it’s given me an opportunity to contemplate life, family, hardships, love, promises… and the all the goodness and blessings in my life.

A simple Christmas Eve spread with my in laws.

Christmas this year was a very, very simple and meaningful affair. We didn’t have a stylish tree, or a mountain of presents, or an indulgent dinner, nor copious amounts of sugary treats and alcohol. 

I discovered that small country towns have very limited grocery supplies! But I still managed to whip up a lovely Christmas Eve dinner for everyone.

There was a moment in my preparations when I got quite upset because I didn’t have RED Christmas napkins for the table setting. But I quickly learned how to just LET IT GO.

Pretty Christmas rings!

My boys bought me several ring stacks (I drew pictures for them and I was impressed that they found the right ones!).

They also got me an inflatable kayak, but we had to leave that back at home as it wouldn’t fit in the boot of the car.

Enjoying a contemplative sunset jog along a quiet country road.

I’ve been going out for contemplative sunset jogs every evening. 

I absolutely love the quiet and the stillness of country roads. I will miss this.

Hello beautiful. Another sunset jog along a country road.

And look who I bumped into during my run.

A beautiful friendly horse, trotted over to me to say hello. Stumbling across animals in the wild is always so cool. (Ok so the horse wasn’t exactly wild, but I did see lots of lizards, rabbits, foxes and thankfully no snakes!)

But most of all, I will miss the star gazing.

The night skies of the country with its glittering blanket of diamonds is the most breathtaking and  romantic sights I’ve ever seen. I will definitely miss this.


Exclusive Giveaway: WIN $1000 to spend at my-wardrobe!!!

27 December 2011

My-wardrobe1000

That’s right! I’m running another AMAZING EXCLUSIVE GIVEAWAY!!!

This time, I’ve been collaborating with my-wardrobe.com – a fabulous online boutique offering everyday luxury items from designers such as Acne, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Marc by Marc Jacobs, D&G, J Brand, Michael Michael Kors, Vivienne Westwood Anglomania, Mulberry, By Malene Birger, and McQ Alexander McQueen.

We are giving away a voucher worth AUD$1000 to one of my readers to spend at my-wardrobe.

It is the perfect opportunity to get your hands on some designer items that you’ve always wanted!

All you have to do is to fill out the form below and tell me TWO items from my-wardrobe that you would love to spend your $1000 on.

Who Can Enter:
It’s open to all readers worldwide, over 18 years.

What You Win:
The winner will receive a my-wardrobe gift voucher to the value of AUD$1000.

Giveaway Ends:
Closes on 9 January 2012, 12pm (GMT +8).

How to Enter:
1) Visit the my-wardrobe.com site.
2) Browse around for a bit. Choose TWO of your favourite items.
3) Cut and paste the URL of the TWO items into the form below.
4) Make sure you enter your name and email address, and hit the submit button. And that’s it!

The winner will be randomly selected and contacted via email. If the selected winner doesn’t respond in 24 hours, then I will have to redraw. I will announce the winner as soon as possible on my blog and my Facebook Page (please pop over and LIKE my page, if you haven’t already).

I will also be posting a reminder on my blog and Facebook Page, before the end of the giveaway. If you are on Twitter, you can follow the my-wardrobe Twitter to keep up to date with news, sales and special offers.

All entrants will automatically be subscribed to my email newsletter and themy-wardrobe.com newsletter.

This giveaway is now closed.


With Fruit Juice Dripping Down Our Arms

19 December 2011

On the weekend, we went to visit some friends who own a fruit orchard.

We spent the day taking a tour of the orchard, picking fruit, eating fruit, working the cherry-picker, riding on quad bikes, and of course, having a cup of tea and some tim-tams back at the farm house.

Fruit Orchard 2011

There’s something utterly beautiful about walking through a field of fruit trees, listening to the farmer talk about his fruit, the soil, the weather, the colour of the leaves.

It was almost like listening to spiritual enlightenment – you know, stuff you need to know at a very fundamental and basic level. Vital! Critical! Information for the survival of the human race!

Ah, the smell of the earth, the smell of the leaves, the fruit, the dampness of the air, the richness of life – everywhere – it was dizzying. Happiness inducing dizziness. My husband and I were walking hand in hand with the biggest smiles on our faces. Glowing.

Fruit Orchard 2011

The trees were overburdened with amazing looking fruit. These are nectarines. My eyes were bugging out of my head. I so wish I had the knowledge and skill to produce fruit like this.

Fruit Orchard 2011

It’s kind of funny how, even as a gardener myself, after years of shopping at supermarkets, I’ve gotten completely disconnected to where and how fruits are produced.

Basically I was rather excited by the fact that… I could just LOOK at a fruit, reach out, pluck it with a quick twist, sink my teeth into its juicy flesh and OH MY GOD experience the juiciness and sweetness that was made from this tree! I am eating part of this earth!

Amazing.

Fruit Orchard 2011

We plucked fruit from our allocated trees and filled 3 of these crates.

We split up the harvest between several families and I came home with a huge tray of mixed fruit.

Fruit Orchard 2011

We all sat under the fruit trees in the warm heat of the sweet, summer afternoon. We ate nectarines, apricots and pears, until our bellies were full.

My husband, my three children and I… we had a fantastic time and we were indeed glowing.


Eating Great. Feeling Great.

12 December 2011

I have been on a bit of a health kick recently.

In addition to all my cycling, I’ve been trying to eat better in efforts to tone up my body.

One of the things I’m doing is cutting down on the amount of carbohydrates I eat. In particular, high carb foods with high gluten and low nutrition, like white rice, bread, noodles and pasta.

So instead of eating 1 serve of cooked white rice with my meal (like curry), I’ll only eat 1/3 of serve of rice and fill up on salad.

As a result, and not to mention my biggest surprise, was that my digestion has improved and I feel less bloated and “heavy”, and my whole body feels much “lighter” (in a digestion sense). I haven’t lost any actual weight, I’ve just been feeling great. I didn’t realise I had a problem with gluten, but it seems that my body is loving less of it.

The downside to eating less carbs, is that I’m freaking hungry all the time. Like crazy hungry.

So I eat a lot of snacks in between meals. And I mean a LOT! Roasted almonds, cashews, chickpeas, bananas, pears, dried fruit, broccoli (I like snacking on broccoli ok!), carrots, and dip – I LOVE dip! OMG I eat so much dip!

I still cook rice, bread and pasta for the rest of my family, I just make extra salad for myself.

I managed to take a few snaps of my meals, and these are the more presentable ones.

Eating Great. Feeling Great.

I call this my power breakfast.

One half-boiled egg smashed over a pile of steamed spinach, snowpea sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, lentil sprouts, and cherry tomatoes… with a drizzle of soy sauce.

Eating Great. Feeling Great.

If I’m at home, lunch would be something like this. Pan-fried or grilled chicken / fish / tofu with more veges.

Eating Great. Feeling Great.

The other night we had lamb chops, garlic bread and 2 kinds of salads (I make 2 salads, because my kids don’t like balsamic vinegar) and some roasted cauliflower (not pictured).

And every night for dessert, when the kids are in bed, I eat a bowl of chocolate ice cream :)


More bricks than you could lose under your couch

6 December 2011

My children are 8, 6, and 2 years old… and they are obsessed with Lego.

Considering that they have the potential to be equally obsessed with computer games, I will go out of my way to encourage their passion for Lego. As a result we have a lot of it at home.

But not this much!

Lego Exhibition 2011

During the school holidays, I brought all three of my kids to the Art Gallery of WA, to participate in a Children’s Lego Exhibition / Activity.

I think the activity was about inspiring children to think about Baroque Architecture.

So the people at the gallery printed out photos of buildings, historically famous for their Baroque architectural characteristics and gave the kids buckets of white lego to play with or “interpret”.

Lego Exhibition 2011

My boys were so feverishly excited, they ran like mindless maniacs towards the tables laden with lego. They took one look at all the other kids and their “Baroque-like” architecture and went pffft, we just want to do our own thing.

I stood behind a fence and had to refrain myself from shouting over instructions – Try some columns! What about some arched windows!

10 minutes later they produced these.

Lego Exhibition 2011

I had to stifle a smile.

I wouldn’t say they reflected any elements of Italian architecture of the late 16th Century. Instead I asked my boys for a little critique or “artistic expose” of their creations.

1) A pyramid.

2) A jail.

My kids are so awesome.

Just look how happy and proud they are!


New Phone!

4 December 2011

New Phone!

After years of being a Blackberry girl, my trusty phone broke and I decided to get a new toy.

I’m a total iphone newb, but I’m looking forward to taking more photos and getting hooked on cool apps!


In The Blistering Heat

2 December 2011

When it’s stinking hot outside… these are a few things I can’t live without.

Fitflop Sandals

I love my Fitflops! Aren’t they so cute?

Apparently they give you a workout while you walk, but I’m just addicted to wearing them because they are so so soooo comfortable and they look gorgeous (so much nicer than standard flip flops, which make me feel like a beach bum/slob).

Cat eyes sunglasses

My cat-eye sunglasses by House of Harlow (that I bought recently from endless.com) are currently my favourite sunnies this summer.

I love the look of the beige. Whenever I try on coloured sunnies (red/blue/purple) I feel like a 12 year old. So wearing beige is still a bit different, yet stylish.

White and Black fedora hat

I’ve had this hat for years. And I just keep wearing it every summer that comes around and it doesn’t seem to go out of style. I bought it from Sportsgirl for $20 and it’s just fantastic.

It gets extra points for the slightly wider brim too.

Black and White scarf

I know it’s a bit weird to wear scarves during summer, but I usually just wrap it loosely around my neck or my handbag.

The reason is because, I like to wear tank tops during summer, which leaves my shoulders and neck very bare, and exposed to the sun. So sometimes – most times, unexpectedly – I find myself standing in the full blast of the sun for a little too long than I would like, so I just grab my scarf and drape it around my shoulders for that *little bit* of extra protection from the sun.

I’m not one of those “organised people” who carry umbrellas in my handbags during summer!

My sister sent this over to me. It is deliciously soft and bought from one of her travels to… oh I don’t know, Spain, Bangladesh, Germany, France… some place on the other side of the world :)


A Weekend of Mountain Biking

1 December 2011

Camping at Honeymoon Pool, Nov 2011

Last weekend we went camping in the Wellington National Park at a place called Honeymoon Pool, about 2 hours drive south of Perth.

We went with 3 other families, all with children aged from 2 to 12 years old. It might sound a bit full-on, but in my opinion, camping with other families is the only way to go.

We did a bit of hiking, bush walking, swimming and kayaking in the river, cycling and mountain biking. Most of the adults (and lots of kids) were cycling enthusiasts so I was in fine company to explore my new found passion for cycling.

Cycling Around Wellington National Park, Nov 2011
Me about to start my ride!

And yes I did stop to adjust my helmet strap after I saw the condition of the track.

Cycling Around Wellington National Park, Nov 2011
Holy shit look at that track!! It just went down hill from there. We were on top of a zigzag trail, that was etched onto the side of a big hill – which felt like a mountain to me!

I spent a glorious hour riding along bush trails, ducking under branches, swerving around pot holes, sliding along the loose gravel and dodging the massive craters in the ground!

It was really exciting and so much fun, but a huge part of me couldn’t get past the fact that it was SO FREAKING DANGEROUS!

Camping at Honeymoon Pool, Nov 2011
The forest was amazing.

It was a warm day, but the tall trees filtered out the sun and heat, casting a beautiful diffused light everywhere. I felt like I was walking through a fairytale.

Camping at Honeymoon Pool, Nov 2011
My 2 year old couldn’t do much riding. So my husband and I took turns to go mountain biking and normal cycling (with a child seat on the back of our bike) throughout the trip.

My other two kids (who are 8 and 6) absolutely loved it. Then again, anything with bikes and danger is a big win for them.

As for the actual camping, I really enjoy “roughing it out”. We had a family tent which was large enough for the five of us, but next time we might put the two bigger children in a separate tent, just to give us (and them) a bit extra sleeping room.

Oh and I love the traditions of camping – waking up at dawn, having a cup of hot tea and watching the sun rise, cooking baked beans and bacon over a fire for breakfast… all that good stuff.

I know I say this all the time, but it was the best weekend break in a loooong time!


When To Throw Away Your Old Makeup and Skincare Products

28 November 2011

When we moved house, I didn’t have time to *slowly and carefully* sort through all my stuff, and pack it all up in an efficient manner. I literally had to grab my bathroom drawers, tip all the contents into a box, seal and label it, and pile the boxes into the back of a truck!

So I approach this subject with much embarrassment… 8 months later, I still have many unopened boxes of shit stacked up in my shed.

The other day however, I managed to sort through all my makeup and skin care products.

Makeup Toss
There was actually a lot more stuff that I didn’t photograph, because they went straight into a rubbish bag.

I did a Google search on when to throw away your makeup and skin care products and created a summary to share. Behold!

Moisturisers : 6 months
Face creams: 1 year
Gel Cleansers: 1 year
Cream cleansers: 6 months
Serums: 6 months
Fragrance: 2 years

Foundation: 6 to 12 months
Concealer: 3 months
Loose Powder: 2 years
Pressed Powder: 18 months
Blush (powder): 2 years

Eye Liner (pencils): 3 years (if sharpened regularly)
Eye Liner (cream or liquid): 6 months
Eye shadow (powder): 2 years
Mascara: 3 months

Lipstick: 1 -2 years
Lip gloss: 18 months
Lip liner: 3 years (if sharpened regularly)

Nail polish: One year
Makeup sponges: Wash after each use, and throw away after 2 weeks
Body sponges: 6-8 weeks

Makeup Expiry DateAll makeup and skincare products have this little symbol that tells you how long it will keep, with 3M, 6M, 12M, 18M etc. (M being months).

Needless to say, I was a little shocked, and a little grumpy. Firstly, because I tend to use my expensive products very sparingly (especially the stupidly expensive stuff!!). And secondly, the expiry dates all make sense and I always *knew* that you shouldn’t keep your products for too long.

I also discovered some interesting points…
- Products that have fatty acids go off quicker, dry products can last several years.
- Wet products (like lip gloss, mascara, liquid foundations) can harbour a LOT of bacteria!
- You shouldn’t mix water with your products (like shampoo) because it messes with the balance of preservatives
- 3-in-1 products for (lips, face and eyes) are a great way to spread bacteria all over your face. Clean the tips before using on different areas.
- Wash cloths and sponges can harbour bacteria and mould, you can microwave them for 3 minutes to disinfect it.


Invisible Zinc

16 November 2011

One of my blog sponsors, Nuffnang, asked me whether I would like to write a post and review a product from Invisible Zinc, I said I would love to – and I almost said, “Don’t bother sending me any products, because I already have several products at home that I use.”

There ain’t no need to preach to the converted. I adore my Invisible Zinc products!

Karen at Cottesloe Beach

I wear suncream everyday. On my face, my neck and chest, my shoulders, arms and hands. However, I always forget to put suncream on my feet whenever I wear sandals, and end up with stripy feet by the end of summer. Very trendy, not!

I also always try to wear a big hat, sunglasses, and a shirt to cover my shoulders too (but in this photo above I was just about to have a swim).

I don’t exactly work 7 full hours in the sun. Yet I am outside everyday – cycling, jogging, walking, doing the school run, driving in a car, standing around in play grounds. It’s just moderate sun exposure, nevertheless I still believe in wearing nothing less than SPF 30+.

I’ve been on a looong journey to find a SPF 30+ suncream that applies nicely, feels great on and is affordable.

Which brings me to my favourite Invisible Zinc product, a daily moisturiser called, ESP Environmental Skin Protector SPF 30+.

 Invisible Zinc ESP

All Invisible Zinc products are made from a naturally derived mineral reflector, Zinc Oxide, and it creates a physical barrier (instead of a chemical absorber) to protect your skin against UVA and UVB rays.

There is no titanium dioxide, no parabens, no chemical SPF active ingredients and it’s sensitive skin friendly.

The ESP Moisturiser has a really nice, light texture. It is not thick at all. It doesn’t make your skin go all white, greasy and gluggy. And after you put it on, your skin feels smooth and matt.

Oh and the micro-fine particles are also said to help to reduce the appearance of fine lines, and to give your skin a smooth texture. It’s pretty awesome!

I also adore the Tinted Daywear, which is a mineral makeup with 3 in 1 moisturiser, zinc sunscreen and sheer foundation.

Invisible Zinc Pack Giveaway

If you’re interested in trying out some Invisible Zinc products, I’ve been given an Invisible Zinc pack to give away to one of my blog readers.

 Invisible Zinc Products

What do you win?
1x Environmental Skin Protector SPF 30+
1x UV Silk Shield Foundation SPF 30+
1x Tinted Daywear SPF 30+
1x Junior Clip-On SPF 30+

Who Can Enter – This giveaway is open to Australian residents, aged 14 years and over.

Giveaway Dates – Giveaway runs for 9 days, from 17 Nov – 25 Nov 2011 (Ends 5:00 pm AEDST).

How To Enter – Email me at karen@karencheng.com.au, your full name and answer this question – “How will Invisible Zinc benefit your summer?”

The most creative answer will be chosen as the winner.

It’s a great prize, good luck!

Please read the Terms and Conditions.


Almost Three

15 November 2011

Liam 2.8 years old

Liam is 2 years and 8 months old now… but I have to admit, most times I think of him as a 4 year old.

He is definitely a lot more “grown up” than my other children, when they were this age. And because he is the youngest of 3 kids, it astounds me how much more he has been exposed to.

This kid collects money, he loves watching Batman and Star Wars cartoons, he owns a stack of Ben 10 trading cards, he is obsessed with fart jokes, and he swears under his breath. His eyes sparkle when you talk about computer games, and he will talk back at you – non-stop – about every single wii game that we have on our shelf.

It makes me feel a bit sad sometimes, that maybe he’s missed out on an “idyllic and innocent moment in childhood” where kids entertained themselves with simple things like cardboard boxes.

But I guess that’s the magic of having multiple children – discovering how different they all are, and discovering how you can love them all with the same intensity.

Liam 2.8 years old

This photo just floors me. Within his features, I can see hints of him as a young man. You can stare at his eyes and get lost forever – did I really create him? Is he really made from half of me?

Liam is timid and mild-mannered when he’s with strangers, but he’s bold, reckless and loud when he’s with his brothers.

I can have long conversations with him, I can reason with him, he can tell jokes and make me laugh, and we can read stories together. He’s so expressive and adorable with his words and speech – he’s at a wonderful age.

On the downside, he can be a hell of a whinger. If he wants something, he nags and nags and nags in that high pitchy irritating whiney way, clings to my legs, and makes his body floppy and lies on the floor whining, until I send him to his room.

And currently, sending him to his room, is enough of a time-out for him to change his behaviour.

Last year he had quite a strong “fussy” personality, where he was very (VERY!) particular about dirt, sand, colours of objects and other little things. He was annoyingly high-maintenance.

But now, he’s pretty easy-going. As long as I explain what is happening or about to happen, he doesn’t freak out or complain. He’s pretty sensible!

Liam 2.8 years old

Liam is almost potty trained. He doesn’t need to drink any milk before his sleep. He doesn’t have a favourite blankie or toy. He does suck his thumb though. He has a 1 hour nap, once a day. He sleeps 12 hours straight through the night.

He is a very un-adventurous eater. He doesn’t like to try new foods. He loves fried kway teow and that’s about it.

Oh and he still loves pink things.

My other two boys are 8.5 and 6.5 years old. All three of them play and get along very well… and they fight and argue all the same. They ALL like the same things – cycling, balls, skateboards, sand, beach, computer games, art+craft, reading, boy movies – which makes it really easy to entertain them at the same time.

As much as I grizzle about them all the time – they really are great kids, and I’m real proud of them.

As you can probably tell, things are peachy at the moment. Being a mum is a walk in the park. And I’m absolutely loving life right now.


It Doesn’t Get Any Better Value Than This

10 November 2011

My husband and I go out for a “no kids” date night on a weekly basis, and usually we try to do something a little different every week.

This evening, we went to test the legendary reputation of Sparrow Indonesian Takeaway, in Highgate. It was originally located in Northbridge for many, many years, and is still run by the same owners.

We decided to eat there because so many people recommended it to us, and it is constantly listed in Perth’s Top Meals under $20 or something like that.

But, a lot of women in my family make damn fine Indonesian/Malay style food, so I have pretty demanding standards.

Sparrow Indonesian Takeaway, Highgate

As you can see, it is a little “cheap and cheerful” establishment, with only 8 small tables inside. The big, generic, red and green letters on the glass, and the security mesh, really say it all. This place seems to spend very little on presentation.

Inside, the impression of low-glamour functionality was reinforced. But it was super clean and the place was almost full of people on a Wednesday night.

The owner met us with a huge Indonesian smile and showed us to a plastic table with an excellent view of the opened fuse box for the power supply. There was a steady stream of locals getting takeaway – a good sign.

Sparrow Indonesian Takeaway, Highgate

So this is what we ordered. 1 Beef rendang, 1 Balinese chicken curry, 2 plates of yellow rice = all for $17.10.

Yes, that’s right…seventeen dollars. For TWO mains AND two serves of rice.

And my verdict?

Sparrow Indonesian Takeaway, Highgate

This is the smile of total satisfaction + embarrassment + resignation. (Note the fuse box in the background!)

It was really, reeeeeally yummy. The curries were saturated with flavour, the meats were both so tender and juicy and fell apart at the poke of a fork, the rice was perfect and fragrant, and my tummy was very satisfied indeed.

*Very happy Karen*

I strongly, strongly recommend it.

Sparrow Indonesian Restaurant
301 Lord St, Highgate,
Western Australia 6003
(08)9228 2238

Sparrow Indonesian Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Like Pigs in Mud

27 October 2011

Put children anywhere they can smell water and they will RUN stupidly towards it.

The other day, I brought all 3 of my kids to the city and met up with a girlfriend and her 2 kids.

We spent 6 hours doing cultured things like going to the museum, the art gallery, looking at stuff, eating in a please-sit-still cafe. So I was very surprised to discover a muddy pond in the middle of the Perth Cultural Centre – deliberately created by the city, called “Perth Wetlands”.

Liam at the pond

The kids played on the boardwalk surrounding the lake, collected stones and bits of wood, pretended to go fishing with reeds, stomped in the swampy beach bits, and they skipped around the edge of the water, hoping to “accidentally” fall in, as an excuse to have permission to wade in the water.

They were like pigs in mud. In their element.

All the while I was keeping a very close eye on my toddler, Liam. Being 2.5 years old, he was very keen to be with his older brothers, and do all the dangerous, dirty, reckless things they were doing.

I was trying to make sure he didn’t go too near to the edge of the boardwalk. But after some time, it was plainly obvious that I wasn’t making much difference. He really wanted to be there. The edge is, after all, something you have to be on… if you want to get to the water.

The water wasn’t very deep. Probably ankle high. Everyday, he sits in a bathtub full of water deeper than that. He’s a big boy now.

What the hell, let him fall in. After all, that is what happens if you live on the edge. At worst, he could fall in, bump his head, get soaked, stand-up by himself and fill the Perth Cultural Centre with an indignant, echoing howl.

And if he DID fall in? Well, of course, I would go in after him. But I would pause to take my shoes off first.

Am I a bad mother? Hell yeah!

Liam at the pond
Look at my kid’s crazy red hair! Look at my crazy gold shoes!

My more relaxed attitude to his “safety” suddenly made me realise that he was developing so fast, and soon, I won’t need to follow him around, step by step.

I had a slow moment of sadness. A feeling that time was slipping through my fingers. My last baby was growing up faster than I could believe. I am near the end of me being the source and focus of this amazing guy’s life, and of him being the purpose of mine. I am near the end of the hormonal, emotional roller-coaster it has been to bring three humans into the world.

Sigh. I love my kids. And I love being a mother.

(However, I don’t particularly like finding out that one of my little darlings had filled my handbag with algae-covered sticks.)


Blood, Brains and Jelly Beans

24 October 2011

I was standing in the kitchen, cooking dinner. It was 4pm, the end of a long day. The children had finished their homework and were now playing in the other side of the house.

I couldn’t see them, and I couldn’t hear them. Just how I like it at this time of day.

I threw some chopped onions into a pan and took a sip from my glass of wine.

Then I heard a blood curling scream pierce through the air. It came from one of the bedrooms.

I dropped my spatula and ran.

It was a senseless and terrifying few seconds of running. Where your brain, heart and breathing all seem to stop. Where you see everything, but don’t process anything. Where you feel like you’re moving in slow motion.

I reached the bedroom and saw one of my sons (the middle one, of course) standing in the middle of the room, screaming, with blood pouring from his forehead.

His forehead had been slashed open, and blood oozed down over his eyes, down along his nose all over his cheeks and chin. Added to his screaming in real fear, it made for a real life horror show.

I grabbed a dirty t-shirt from the floor and slapped it over his forehead to stop the bleeding. I gathered him into my arms and held him while he screamed and shook.

Ok what do I do now?

In that moment, I suddenly felt like a helpless child.

Although I was THE MOTHER of the three helpless children in the room, I wanted someone to tell me what to do. I wanted someone to swoop in and to fix everything. I wanted all the make-it-all-right events to magically happen, just like in the movies, and for the story to unfold and everything to work out in the end.

But of course, I was here, in reality. With my bleeding son in my arms. And I was the only grown up in the room and I had to decide what to do.

Dozen things flew around my brain. I swear to god, I aged 10 years in 2 minutes.

Ambulance. Blood loss. My son is not dead. So much blood on the floor. How am I going to get my son to a hospital? Telephone. Husband. Burning onions. The smoke alarm will go off soon. Calm down. One thing at a time. Be strong. You are the grown up. Older child. Younger child. What happened?

Apparently they were playing on the floor when Sean spun around and cracked his head on the CORNER EDGE of his clothes dresser, slicing himself open.

I took a look under the dirty t-shirt.

The slash was DEEP, and with the pressure off, it welled up with blood in an instant. I slapped the t-shirt back on, partly to stop the bleeding, but also because I just didn’t want to see all that blood! AAAAHHHHHHH!!!

I instructed my older child, who is 8 years old, to get me the phone, turn off the stove, get a frozen pack from the freezer, and to run across the road to my neighbour, who is a nurse. He did it all with ease.

I called my husband. Home in 20 minutes.

My neighbour and her daughter came over. Luckily, both nurses. They have seen it all before, and much, much worse. They had a look at Sean’s wound, put some special sticky tape across it, and agreed that it would need “a few stitches”. I felt somewhat calmed. No brain damage then. No lost eye. Just a scar. No big deal.

I was feeling thankful. But screaming inside with adrenalin and fear .

We were sitting in the waiting room. Sean had a cracking headache. I was trying to be all cool and calm. This shit happens all the time, right? I’m a big girl.

The doctor saw us. He injected a big fat needle of anesthetic, twice, into Sean’s forehead.

A nurse held Sean’s head. The doctor taped little pads over Sean’s eyes to stop anything dropping in. I was instructed to hold Sean’s hands – for comfort AND restraint.

The doctor went in, with his tiny needle and thread, to pull the swollen, ugly gash back together. Despite the anesthetic, Sean was twitching, gritting his teeth and hissing with pain.

I saw everything happen in slow motion. In the warm spotlight of that surgery room, I watched the doctor sew up the layers of flesh and fat and muscle congealed with blood and fluid and god knows what else was dried onto my son’s forehead, while he twisted in pain under my arms.

So what did I do?

I fainted.

I felt the blood drain from my face. My eyes closed. And it was kind of a slow collapse heading towards the floor. The doctor helped keep my head from hitting the floor with one hand while he held the needle and thread in mid stitch with the other hand.

New nurses rushed in, picked me off the floor, gave me a cold towel for my head, pressed a glass of water to my lips, and fed jelly beans into my mouth.

I was like a rag-doll. Oh the shame.

Doctors and nurses, they were all laughing at me. Ha Ha, Mum fainted.

My son, with his eyes sticky-taped shut and still being sewn up, said, “Mum can I have a jellybean too? Save a red one for me, yeah?”

So much for being the grown up!


Enjoying the Ride

20 October 2011

Bright Blue Perth Sky

This morning I woke up, looked out my window and OMG it was such a beautiful day! For cycling! Or going to the beach!

I chose to cycle. So I dropped my 2 kids off at school, stuck my toddler in the bike seat and cycled 10kms (in about 45 minutes). Which is pretty good considering that my toddler weighs about 10kgs and I was carrying an extra 2kgs of toddler paraphernalia, including water and snacks.

I always feel fantastic when I get some exercise in the morning.

I’ve been on a health kick lately – trying to eat better, exercise hard, tone up, live healthy and enjoy the process.

Liam and Karen

Another thing I’ve been enjoying… is hanging out with my toddler.

Now at 2.5 years old, Liam is very transportable, loves to see new things and he doesn’t get too cranky if he misses his nap. I take him everywhere now. We sit down at cafes and restaurants and have a meal together. We even eat dim sum together!

He has this very “proper” personality which makes our daily conversations quite funny.

The other day we were in the car and he said, “Oh no mum! I’m wearing my pyjama pants and we’re going out! What if someone sees me? You need to do a U turn and go home right now so I can put my jeans on!”

And I’m all, “Oh man, really? Neh that’s ok. You’re a little kid. Little kids are supposed to wear pyjama pants to the shops. We’re just going to grab some milk. We’ll go fast so no one will see you…”

“Actually mum, I’m s’posed to be wearing jeans. Pyjama pants are for sleeping. And the lady at the checkout will see me. And please don’t go too fast or you might drop the milk…”

The kid’s not even 3 years old and I can’t trick him anymore.

And then the other OTHER day, I was at the meat section at the supermarket, looking to buy something for dinner. I stopped a guy who was dressed like a butcher and asked him about lamb chops.

He replied with the *DREAMIEST* Irish accent, and I was all “UH HUH, and can you explain what the difference between this cut and that cut is? And what about this one?”

I was 3 questions in, and having a very interesting conversation about meat preservatives, when Liam gave me this eye rolling look of Oh come! and he said “Stop talking to the man and buy the lamb chops mum!!”

Liam Taking off his socks (2.5 yo)

And lastly here’s my little genius at the park, taking off his socks with his teeth.


Beauty Products I’m Loving – October 2011

14 October 2011

Beauty Products I'm Loving - Oct 2011

MAC Prep and Prime Skin Brightening Serum
I received a bottle of this as a sample, and have bought it again because it is a fantastic primer. It gives me the perfect amount of moisture and hydration, it glides on, feels light, smells lovely and smoothes my skin without feeling greasy or cloggy.

I use this primer whenever I go out at night. Just primer, a bit of concealer and foundation.

Burt’s Bees Peach and Willowbark Deep Pore Scrub
This product seems to have a very polarising effect on all who use it (according to all the beauty forums) – people either love it or hate it.

For me, I absolutely love it. I’d say it was my best beauty secret for fighting the drying conditions of Australian weather (winter and summer).

I don’t actually use it as a deep pore scrub. I use it as a daily moisturising wash in the morning. I find it leaves my skin soft, smooth, and with a layer of natural moisturising oils which gives me extra moisture boost.

MoroccanOil
I never thought there would be a time when I would comb OIL through my hair. I have been using this for a couple of years now and yes, I still love it. Just when my ends are starting to look a bit dry and gross, a little bit of this stuff works like magic.

Clinique Chubby Stick (Lip Balm)
This lip balm is just lovely! I love that it is fragrance free, not sticky, and gives a smudge of colour that looks natural. I dislike yucky sugary stuff that makes my lips sticky.

This colour is 01 – Richer Raisin. I feel so glam and polished every time I swipe this over my lips, even when I’m popping out to the shops :)


My Workout Routine (Apparently)

10 October 2011

The West, 4 Oct 2011 - My Workout

A few weeks ago I did a fun little interview about my workout routine, and it appeared in The West Newspaper last week.

The journalist did a great job condensing all my waffling into a couple of paragraphs. It makes me sound really active and sporty! Haha!

If you’d like to read the article as published, click on the image, I have it uploaded in my Facebook albums (you might have to Like My Karen Cheng Page first?).

But since this is my blog, you have the pleasure of reading all my un-edited waffling!

How do you keep in shape? How often do you try to exercise?

I eat really well – lots of vegetables, grains, pulses, fish and lean meats. I am pretty good at restricting sugar, carbs, fatty and oily foods. I snack a lot (on fruit, nuts, popcorn) so I don’t tend to over eat during meal times.

I try to do something active everyday. Most of the time I walk or cycle. I try to do muscle workouts and stretches in the evening.

What are your favourite ways to exercise?

I love cycling. I love the rush, the speed, the cardio workout, the muscle toning and the satisfying feeling after a long ride!

You’re a mother of three little boys and work, blogging and other commitments also keep you busy – how do you manage to find time to exercise?

My days are pretty busy, and I don’t have large blocks of regular time to go to a gym. Basically I have to make time to get little blocks of exercise done throughout the day.

I also try to get extra exercise through other daily activities when I’m with my children. Such as, walking to our primary school, playing soccer in the park after school, playing tennis on the street.

A child seat for my bicycle has been my best exercise investment. My 2 year old accompanies me for most of my weekly cycling!

How do you like to de-stress?

I have lots of favourite ways to de-stress – shopping, reading, catching up with friends, walking along the beach. I also find gardening, baking and cooking to be very therapeutic.

Why is health and looking after yourself important to you?

As a mother of 3 young children, I want to look after my health and well being first. I can’t be a happy mother, or a loving wife, or a caring friend… if my health is poor or if I’m feel tired and cranky all the time.

Exercising, eating well, getting some me-time, having date nights with my husband, keeping up with my girl friends, exploring my interests… are all part of me trying to maintain a balanced and fulfilling life.

Also my husband was diagnosed with cancer some years ago, and thankfully he is all clear now. After that, we both decided to live a healthy lifestyle and make choices to reduce the stress in our lives.

What are your favourite places in Perth to exercise and why?

I love being around the South Perth river foreshore. Perth has such a pretty skyline and river. I also love Cottesloe Beach.

Do you prefer to exercise on your own or with a friend (and why?)

Admittedly, I prefer to exercise on my own. I like to be focused on what I’m doing, and enjoy the feeling of exercising. I also like the quiet time it gives me. It’s a kind of meditation.


Post from the Past: Hey dude, want some pizza?

6 October 2011

Oh my, 4 years on, this post still makes me crack up!

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Super Heroes in the Kitchen

Hey dude, want some pizza?
21 April 2007

After his birthday party, my 4 year old was over the moon with all his new superhero toys.

There was way too much pretend fighting in the household for my liking.

So yesterday I went to my toy library and borrowed the LARGEST and PINKEST DOLL HOUSE I could find.

Which led my son to create some rather interesting scenarios.

This one was my favourite.

Apparently Spiderman wanted spaghetti for dinner, but he got angry, because you know, turtles are slow.


House of Ernest Hair Salon, Perth

3 October 2011

A couple of weeks ago, I was getting ready to go to a whole week of events at the Perth Fashion Festival. But I wasn’t feeling good about my hair.

In fact, I wasn’t just having a bad hair day. I was having a bad hair MONTH. I had gotten into a deep rut with my hair care regime. I felt that no matter what I wore, I would feel crap because everyone else was going to have better hair than me.

My ends were dry, my layers were snapping off, it had been months since my last hair treatment. My hair was just dull, lifeless, hard to manage and very bleh. And so I felt very bleh.  I am my hair.

So on the morning the day before the first of my fashion events, I was so desperate that I pressed the “restart” button on my hair.

I called up House of Ernest, the most famous hair salon in Perth (that I have never been to! I remember girlfriends raving about it as far back as when I was at university!)

But I must confess, whenever I am feeling down about my hair, I know I am also very vulnerable

And I’m likely to be easily talked into a radical change – or whatever “interesting ideas” the stylist happens to want to do that day. So I am always scared that I might end up with hot pink highlights, or dreadlocks, or a butch looking bob – and then spend the next 5 years growing my hair back to its original length.

So House of Ernest sent me some of their styling images.

House of Ernest Salon

And I was like – YES, that’s how I want my hair to look. I was hooked. The left and middle photos are from their Autumn Winter 2011 collection, and the photo on the right is part of their new Spring Summer 2011 collection.

I fell in love with the waves and the chocolate highlights in the center photo, obviously because it was closer to my own hair colour.

The team at House of Ernest invited me to have a full hair cut, colour and treatment, THE NEXT MORNING, and I agreed that if I liked what they did, I would talk about it on my blog. I secured emergency babysitting (thanks Mum!) and the next morning I was off to my hair appointment.

House of Ernest Salon

This is what my hair looked like before my appointment. VERY BLEH.

House of Ernest Salon

I had a big chat with both the senior hair stylist and creative director. I told them what was wrong with my hair, what I wanted, the history and characteristics of my hair, they walked through exactly what treatment was best for my hair, all the things I was doing wrong (that was where I had my AH HA moment), and gave me so many great tips to keep my hair shiny and healthy.

I especially appreciated that they were not trying to convince me that their products were the best. I told them all the products that I use and love, and they made suggestions on how to get the best results from them.

I felt it was one of the most valuable, expert, honest and personalised consultations I’ve had with a hair stylist and colourist.

House of Ernest Salon

They gave me a hair cut, put highlights through my hair (carefully placed, so the regrowth will not be so obvious), gave me a treatment, colour and gloss through my hair.

And since I told them I was going to a fashion party that evening, they topped it off with an awesome wave styled with a ghd. I was very happy with the results!

House of Ernest Salon

Another thing that I liked was that I found out that the salon frequently holds styling events, training with international stylist, workshops, fashion shows – in order to keep their staff inspired, motivated, excited and in touch with all the current trends and techniques.

I really recommend them!

House of Ernest
Shop 19, Upper Hay Street,
Carillon City, Perth WA 6000
(located on the top floor of the Carillon City Arcade)

Phone: 9321 3391

www.houseofernest.com.au

House of Ernest Facebook Page


Post from the Past: Teething

29 September 2011

I wrote this post in December 2003, when my first born was 9 months old.

I read it now, with crystal clear memories of those few days – it was the first time I’ve experienced a teething baby.

I remember it was so difficult to manage, to do my daily tasks, to look after him and myself. I remember struggling to find time to have a shower! And the sleep deprivation was just horrific!

Now with 3 children, I always crack a smile when I remember those moments of being a first time mother.

I realise have learned so much and changed so much over the years.

I am by no means an expert parent, but it’s good to look back to see how far I have come.

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Callum - 8 months

Callum and I had a pretty awful weekend. Callum’s 5th and 6th teeth cut through, and he was the GRUMPIEST AND CRANKIEST LITTLE KID EVER!

Usually he’s pretty independent. He would spend hours just crawling and climbing all over the place. He likes to explore the shelves, cupboards, rooms, behind couches and tables. He likes following the cat, shuffling through the junk mail, sliding the chairs around.

And as long as I’m in the same room keeping an eye on him, we’re both having a pleasant day doing whatever we need to do.

He also sleeps about 2-3 hours in the late morning. And 1 hour in the late afternoon. So I get heaps done during the day.

But good lord, since Friday, he was in so much pain – poor thing. He didn’t sleep at all during the day.

He whinged and blubbered and cried all day. He wouldn’t let me out of his sight. He wouldn’t even let me stand up to get something. He just wanted to cling onto my leg. Or sit in my lap. Or have me cuddle him. Or hold him. Or bounce him up and down while he grizzled and grumbled. All day!

My husband was on a scuba diver rescue course all weekend. So it was really hard work on my own. and I was pretty down.

But by Monday – just like that – things were back to normal.

I was so very relieved. I took him out for lunch and he was the happy little kid bouncing on everyone’s knee again. Thank God!!

Callum - 8 months

These are some photos from the same week. My son and I were mucking about on the grass, playing a crawl-under-the-cushion game. He was a little too interested in eating leaves.

Callum - 8 months

After a while, he got bored and started head-butting the cushion from underneath. He made it fall on top of himself, let out a very girly squeal and then started to crawl with the cushion on his back – like a turtle. Thoroughly enjoying himself.

It was very funny. But I guess you had to be there.


Celebrating Malaysian Cuisine at Ria

22 September 2011

For the last of my posts celebrating Malaysian food, courtesy of Malaysian Kitchen, I decided to eat at a more “upmarket” restaurant.

I have never been to Ria Authentic Malaysian Food, in Leederville. They have been open for quite a few years now, and I have heard a lot of good reviews and things about them.

They say they specialise in “authentic home style Malaysian cooking” so I was very curious to try it out.

I went with my husband and 2 other friends. Thankfully I booked a table a few day in advanced, because we arrived to a restaurant that was packed full of people. It was very, very popular.

Ria Authentic Malaysian Food

We ordered two entrees. The Ria Pork Rib Nibbles in caramelised chilli sauce ($16.50). They were a very tasty. I love pork ribs… especially crispy, salty, tangy, sweet, pork ribs!

Ria Authentic Malaysian Food

We also ordered Grilled Squid Skewers with acar (pickle) and chilli jam ($18). The squid was lovely, and even better when mixed with the flavours of the pickle and jam.

Ria Authentic Malaysian Food

For our first main, we ordered Mum’s Loh Ak (Braised caramelised duck) ($25). The sauce was deep, sweet and salty and it was very yummy. Not to mention the duck meat was lovely, soft and