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

10 November 2013

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

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

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

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

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

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

We set off at 7am.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

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

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

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

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

THEN. The weather hit us.

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

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

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

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

And yep, it put my own struggles into perspective.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

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

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

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

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

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

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

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

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

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

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

The next morning, the sun was shining! HOORAY!

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

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

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

Me again. All rugged up and ready to go!

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

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

My poor riding buddy had ANOTHER flat!

Same tyre.

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

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013

WOOHOO I DID IT!!!

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

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

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

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

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

xxx


Liam : 3 years and …a bit?

30 July 2012

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

My little Liam is 3 years and 4 months.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I need to do that, because….

Liam is 3 years and 4 months

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liam is 3 years and 4 months

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

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

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

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

Liam is 3 years and 4 months

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Baby 3: Liam at 2 years and 10 months

2 February 2012

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

Liam - 2 years 10 Months

Behaviour and Environment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This keeps everything quite peaceful.

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

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

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

Liam - 2 years 10 Months

“Education”

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

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

Speech

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

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

Gross Motor Skills

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

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

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

Fine Motor Skills

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

Sleep

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

Imagination Play

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

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

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

Social Skills and Friends

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

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

Separation

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

Liam - 2 years 10 Months

Eating

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

School

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

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

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


Liam at 2 Years Old

25 April 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did I mention he is my last baby?

Liam at 2 years old


Pears In Red Wine

5 January 2010

pears-red-wine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yum-EEE!


Ten Years Of Blogging

13 October 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My

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

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

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

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

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

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

wp_screen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sean Turns 4 Years Old

12 March 2009

Sean Turns 4 Years Old

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sean Turns 4 Years Old

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

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

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

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

Photos By Sean

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sean – 3 years, 3 months

6 June 2008

Sean - 3 years, 3 months

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

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


Sean Turns 3 Years Old

11 March 2008

Sean Turns 3

To my dearest little Sean.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sean Turns 3

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

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

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

Sean Turns 3

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

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

Sean Turns 3

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

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

Sean Turns 3

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


Callum : 3 years, 11 months

8 March 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sean at 20 months (1¾ years)

27 November 2006

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

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

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

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

And I can’t help but join in!


Seven Years of Web Wrangling II

10 May 2006

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for sharing with me.


Seven Years of Web Wrangling

9 May 2006

This month, my website is 7 years old.

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

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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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


I Got My Ears Pierced

1 August 2003

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

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

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

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


Alexander McQueen Sunglasses For My Schnoz

28 August 2015

Brought to you buy SunglassesShop

Hi everyone! Happy Friday!

Today I’m talking about schnoz candy!

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

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

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

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

McQ by Alexander McQueen from Sunglasses Shop

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

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

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

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

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

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

McQ by Alexander McQueen from Sunglasses Shop

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great weekend!

xxx


Buy Korean Skincare Online from Aniqa Australia!

25 August 2015

Brought to you by Aniqa

Aniqa Korean Skincare - Cremorlab and Mizon

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

What makes Aniqa different?

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

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

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

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

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

Aniqa Korean Skincare - Cremorlab

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Recent Switch to Korean Brands!

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

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

But…

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

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

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

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

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

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

That was in June.

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

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

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

The result?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So then, what was the difference? Why switch?

1) The prices.

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

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

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

2) Using products in the same range.

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

3) The smell is simply ah-mazing!

Aniqa Korean Skincare - Cremorlab

Where to start?

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

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

Aniqa Korean Skincare - Mizon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy shopping!

xxx

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


Flares and Turtlenecks

21 August 2015

Turtleneck and Flares

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

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

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

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

Turtleneck and Flares

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

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

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

Do you keep your favourite old clothes?

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

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


The Luminaries and Other Good Reads

19 August 2015

The Luminaries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s impressive. But not for everyone!


Schutz Sandals in Nude

17 August 2015

Schutz Sandals

After I bought a pair of black strappy sandals, after constantly reaching for them whenever I went out, after wearing them for hours and hours and absolutely loving them… I knew I wanted to get another good quality pair, in nude!

So after a bit of hunting around, I bought myself a pair of Schutz Sandals (Cady Lee Style) from Shopbop.

Schutz Sandals

It was a bit of a gamble, because I’ve never worn Schutz shoes before, so I was unfamiliar with their sizing.

But they arrived, they are beautiful, and they fit!

I was toying with the idea of getting this Zora Lace Up design, but I chose this very simple and minimal design, to ensure that they look timeless and last me years.

As for the flowers in these photos… I snipped a few branches off my hibiscus tree and when I brought them inside, I didn’t realise that they were full of baby spiders! I had to vacuum my whole living room to get rid of them eeek.

Have a beautiful week everyone! Without baby spiders!

xxx


Speedfit – Personal Training and Electronic Muscle Stimulation

14 August 2015

Brought to you by Speedfit

I do some pretty cool/strange things for my blog… and for my latest adventure, I electrocuted my muscles to tone them up!

These two photos were taken one day apart, before and after my session at SpeedFit, in Northbridge.

Eeep, my biceps have never been so full and perky before.

Before and After, Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

So let me give you the back story.

I have been very fit and active for the last 3 – 4 years. I run, cycle, play netball, do yoga, boxing, weights, cross training and more.

I first tried EMS (Electronic Muscle Stimulation) in Singapore last year. Initially, I did NOT like the idea at all. I thought it was cheating, unnecessary and against my idea of what it means to be “an active and healthy person”.

However, once I tried it, I actually thought it was pretty good (and weird)!

I was quite surprised.

The fact is… it worked. My muscles became very toned, very quickly.

Ordinarily I work very hard to keep the weight off, so most of my exercises are for me to tone up, strengthen my core, improve my posture and flexibility, keep my body healthy, strong and injury free. I also exercise because it’s fun, it makes me feel good, it challenges my mind and it helps me sleep better. I don’t focus on body sculpting or maintaining rock hard abs.

So I could see how EMS training could complement my active lifestyle.

And if I could afford, I would do it on a regular basis :)

Having toned muscles would be like icing on the cake for me!

I’ve been told that EMS Training is huge in Asia and Europe. Apparently it is a thriving and popular industry; studios are as common as regular gyms and no one thinks twice when you mention you’re off to the local EMS studio.

So when SpeedFit EMS Personal Training contacted me, it turned out that they were the first to bring the concept to Australia (several years ago), and I was keen to work with them to spread the news.

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

SpeedFit launched in Perth 2 years ago and now have more than 700 clients. They have 2 studios, one in Northbridge and one in Claremont.

I turned up early on a Tuesday morning for my 10:30am session.

It was a cold, windy day. I was dressed in a white shirt, grey knit, grey coat, black jeans, thick socks and boots. My motivation to exercise was er… 2/10.

I thought that the studio would be quiet and empty at that time, but there were two women doing their workout session ahead of my time slot and one other woman in the waiting area, who was going to do her session at the same time as me.

I had a little chat to her and she told me that she had been doing EMS Training for 4 months and absolutely loved it. She said she hated going to the gym, she has two kids under 4 years old and this was her only form of workout.

The two women finished their session and raved about their workout. They had a beaming post-workout glow as they walked out the door.

After seeing and chatting to the other women, I was pretty excited to get started and my motivation to exercise rose to 7/10.

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

EMS involves putting on a suit that delivers electronic impulses to your major muscle groups to make them contract.

A personal trainer leads you through a customised workout and apparently a 20 minute session is equivalent to 4 hours at the gym!

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

I went into the private change rooms, took off all my clothes, stored my watch and jewellery safely in a locker… and then I put on the supplied cotton top and 3/4 leggings.

I have to wear this cotton outfit because there has to be a thin, single layer of fabric between the electrodes and my skin. Plus I’m going to sweat like crazy so I’ll be able to discard them in a laundry bag for someone else to wash. It’s all part of the service. Yay.

The instructor sprayed the EMS suit with water and fastened it onto me.

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

She also strapped on little belts and wires on my biceps (arms), quads (legs), glutes (bum).

I felt like I was wearing a soggy corset!

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

My instructor plugged me into the EMS machine and I suddenly felt like a bubble jet printer.

Charge me up baby!

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

This is the EMS machine.

Looks like a cute, harmless robot!

Each little knob adjusts the strength of impulses to each muscle group. And the big knob on the right controls the overall impulse levels to all muscles.

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

The instructor customised the machine, tweaking the impulses to suit my comfort level.

What does it feel like?

It feels like little massage balls bumping on my skin. It’s not painful at all. It doesn’t feel zappy, or pinchy or twingey on my nerves.

It feels a bit weird and kind of nice, when set to lower levels.

But what’s the point of a low-level massage right? I wanted to tone up my muscles and get a workout!

This is me about to start!

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

Once the machine began the program, it led me through a 20 minute workout session.

The impulses went for 6 seconds and stopped for 4 seconds.

I had to tense my muscles, HOLD for 6 seconds, then I got a 4 second break to change positions.

It’s a bit like yoga, in that I had to concentrate on the position of my body, arms, legs and back.

The instructor went through different workout positions, like squats, rear leg extensions, calf raises, bicep curls and more. It was pretty simple.

As the workout went on, I realised that I could handle a higher level of impulses, so I just reached out and changed the levels to my liking.

The instructor also started to push me a bit and upped the levels for me bit by bit.

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

By the end, the impulses were quite intense. I wanted to go hard! I was puffing and sweating as I finished.

I pushed myself quite a bit and I think I did really well. After all, I wanted to see results :)

The whole thing went for 20 minutes. So quick!

Immediately after the workout, I was able to have a shower in the private change rooms, blow dry my hair, change into my clothes. My instructor made me a protein shake to help with my muscle recovery. I was in and out in 45 minutes.

(I probably could have been in and out in less time, but I stopped to chat to my instructor and asked her a lot of questions).

I stepped out of the studio looking as fresh as a daisy. I caught up with my friend for lunch and she could not believe that I just “had a workout at the gym”. I was glowing with a fabulous post-workout feeling! I felt amazing!

That evening, my biceps ached a bit and I knew I had worked them quite hard.

I took a photo of myself in the mirror (at the top of the post) and was very impressed to see that my biceps were significantly rounder and fuller than before.

I have been lifting 5kg to 7.5kg dumbells and working out my arms (twice a week, for the last few months), but I’ve had to slow down because my elbow/forearm hurt a bit and I didn’t want tear anything. So this was a great way to compliment my weights workout and give my arms a boost. I’m really happy with the results.

What Are The Benefits?

There’s lots of information on the website about the Benefits of EMS and a list of Frequently Asked Questions.

Pricing – How Much Does It Cost?

SpeedFit suggest that you do training once a week, and they have created several membership packages to suit different lifestyles.

See their Price List here.

*Special Offer*

So here’s the big plug – SpeedFit have a special offer at the moment: TWO trial sessions for $90!

(The standard rate for one session is $90). This is a pretty cool offer, especially if you – like I was – a bit unsure whether it’ll work for you, and just want to give it a go.

Call and Book for a Session

Northbridge
telephone: 08 9328 3448
email: northbridge@speedfit.com.au

Claremont
telephone: 08 9384 6182
email: claremont@speedfit.com.au

Hope you enjoyed my review!

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

xxx


Rebecca Minkoff Bag + Hello Parry Sunglasses

6 August 2015

A few of my gorgeous girlfriends chipped in together and bought me this leather backpack for my birthday! (I got to choose it!)

It is a Rebecca Minkoff Backpack here from The Iconic or here from Shopbop.
Rebecca Minkoff Bag + Hello Parry Sunglasses

It makes a fantastic everyday bag! The leather is superb quality and the zips and buckles are robust, which allows the bag to survive a few knocks and bumps.

I love that it’s slouchy, casual, sporty… and a bit different.

Backpacks crept back into the fashion scene about a year or two ago and they are pretty popular at the moment. They are probably on the way out, but meh I don’t care, I have been using backpacks and drawstring bags for ages and I feel they are very my style.

Rebecca Minkoff Bag + Hello Parry Sunglasses

My Doir inspired sunglasses are also new from Hello Parry. They are nice and light so they don’t leave a mark on my face. Plus they are super affordable. I really like wearing them because they look cool and quirky, without being too weird.

They do make me look like I have a mono brow though, maybe that’s the new thing haha?

Wearing: Denim shirt Similar Cupcakes and Cashmere Shirt, Similar ASOS | Vivienne Westwood Jeans Similar | Senso Heels | Sunglasses from Hello Parry

*Oh oh, I’m actually off on a girl’s holiday this weekend!

It’s my first GIRLS-ONLY trip away and I’m super excited!

I’ll be updating my Instagram account (@karenlycheng) so do check in on me to keep in touch.

xxx


Turtleneck Knits From ShowPo

29 July 2015

Turtleneck Knit

I have to be honest… for most days of the week, I dress very simply and casually. And lately, all I ever wear are jeans, jumpers and sneakers!

This combination used to bore me to tears, but I’m actually loving the comfy fashion trend this season: BIG, CHUNKY, TURTLENECK KNITS.

I picked up this Sleeveless Turtleneck Knit from ShowPo.

It also comes in black, white and grey too.

It looks great, feels great, it’s affordable, and I like that it looks current without looking too dressed up.

Turtleneck Knit

Wearing: Grey long coat from Shein (on sale!) | Beige Turtleneck Knit from ShowPo | White jeans from Fendi (ebay) | Acne Studio black pumps from Forward By Elyse Walker.

I wore this outfit out to dinner with my girlfriends the other evening. I thought I might freeze in a sleeveless knit, so I wore a little camisole tank top underneath. Once I entered the warm restaurant, I took off my coat and the extra layer kept me sufficiently snug all night.

The knit was a lovely addition to my wardrobe!

Turtleneck Knit from Iconic

Now, in case you all think that I love, love, LOVE all the clothes that I come across… I decided to include this photo of a knit that didn’t make the cut.

I receive heaps of samples and I buy lots of items on a regular basis, but I only feature the ones that I like. I send lots of items/samples back.

This grey turtleneck knit is from The Iconic.

It looked gorgeous on the model, but I found it to be too big, baggy, and too long in a very unflattering way (it made my legs look short). It was very “meh” and I felt so frumpy. I didn’t like it at all.

In the end, I returned it. I much preferred the range from ShowPo.

Anyway, I hope you manage to take a peek and find something you like!

Happy shopping!

xx Karen


4NE1 Korean Beauty and Nail Salon in Perth

27 July 2015

Hi everyone!

I’ve been very curious about Korean beauty products for a while now; and I have been itching to try out a Korean beauty salon in Perth.

So I did a bit of asking around and some of my friends recommended me to try 4NE1 Korean Beauty and Nail (pronounced For-Any-One) in Rivervale.

They do semi-permanent makeup for eyebrows, semi-permanent top and bottom eyeliner, even semi-permanent lip liners, eyelash extensions, body slimming, facials, LED Dynamic therapies, micro-hydrabrasion and more.

My friends had semi-permanent eyebrows and eyeliner done and have been really happy with the results.

Finally convinced to try it out, I gave them a call and popped into the shop.

Korean Beauty Salon - 4NE1, Rivervale

The shop was simple, clean, new and spacious. The lovely staff, dressed in all-black uniforms, greeted me at the door and showed me around.

They all looked so young! Yet they were all cute and coy about it, claiming to be my age and possibly older?? Omg I need to get some Korean beauty products pronto!

Korean Beauty Salon - 4NE1, Rivervale

They do a full set of Gel Nails for $55 and Signature Nail System (SNS) for $40. SNS uses a dipping powder, it doesn’t use UV light (like gel nails) or harsh chemicals (like acrylics). Deluxe manicures and pedicures start from $40 – $50.

Everything seemed very reasonably priced.

The salon’s business owner, Sophie, told me all her staff worked as professional beauticians, massage therapists, nail and hair stylists back in Korea, with considerable years of experience. As they immigrated to Australia, they set up home salons, offering their clients great service without the high prices. These ladies became so popular and sought after, that they teamed up with Sophie to set up 4NE1, to translate the same low prices to clients, but with a more professional outfit.

Sophie often goes back to Korea to bring in the latest beauty machines and equipment for their therapies.

There is a large back area with a waiting room, 2 private therapy rooms, change room and dressing room, and toilets.

Korean Beauty Salon - 4NE1, Rivervale

Anyway, THIS was what I wanted – mink eyelash extensions! (I took a snap of a poster on their wall.)

Their Natural Eyelash Extensions are $90, Glamourous Volume Eyelashes are $110, and Eyelash refills are from $45.

I decided to try the Glamourous Volume Eyelashes.

Korean Beauty Salon - 4NE1, Rivervale

BEFORE: These are my eyelashes before the extensions.

The whole process took about 1.5 hours and didn’t hurt at all.

I just lay on the chair, half meditating/relaxing and half trying to guess what she was doing.

Korean Beauty Salon - 4NE1, Rivervale

AFTER: These are my glamourous eyelash extensions!

The difference was amazing. They looked and felt very natural.

This was the first time I’ve had eyelash extensions. They felt completely normal, they didn’t itch, or irritate me.

I was very happy with them!

Karen Lash Extensions

I think from afar, they didn’t look THAT dramatic, which was a good thing. But close up, they looked full, lush, natural and they definitely made my eyes look brighter.

I was quite conscious of them for the first few days. I wanted them to last so I was trying to take care of them – being careful when washing my face, exfoliating, drying with a towel, and when pulling clothes over my head.

I did a bit of research on “How to look after your eyelash extensions”, so that helped.

What I liked best: Every day I woke, went through my usual skin care regime, put on my foundation, blush and brows. That’s it. My eyes looked naturally pretty, so I didn’t feel the need to use mascara or eyeliner. It was great!

In total they lasted 3.5 weeks. I probably should have gone in after 2 weeks to get refills, but I went camping instead!

Conclusion: Yes, I recommend going to 4NE1. It’s a nice and simple salon, with very lovely, attentive staff, who are very professional and experienced.

I’ve been to salons where the ladies are dressed in home clothes, they are too casual, they talk loudly, gossiping and laughing in a different language. They seem unhappy and bitchy… and I just feel that’s a very unprofessional vibe to bring into a salon. Oh and sometimes I feel like they are talking about me while I’m in the room?! I don’t like that kind of salon experience at all.

It would suit people who already know what they want and like (nails, facials, semi-permanent tatoos), people hoping to save some money and people who know the right questions to ask.

I found it a little difficult to understand the ladies due to their accents. For basic instructions and explanations, it was absolutely fine.

But I was keen on some deeper conversation about their step by step procedures, the after care, what are they doing right now, what products are they using… plus I’m dying to know a bit of history of the procedures and for them to tell me juicy details like “This is the most popular service! And customers just love this other thing!”.

(However, I concede that perhaps it’s a bit much to expect a beautician to give me a historical lecture while she’s waving tools over my eyeball?! Plus I would prefer her to focus on the eyelash task, rather than chat to me… so it was probably better that she wasn’t so chatty!)

Check it out if you live nearby!

4NE1 Korean Beauty and Nail Salon
98 Kooyong Road, Rivervale

They don’t have a website, just a 4NE1 Facebook page with lots of before and after client photos.

Enjoy!


What I Wore: Double Camel!

23 July 2015

Early on Tuesday morning, I made my way into the city to attended a special Program Launch for the 2015 Telstra Perth Fashion Festival.

This is what I wore: A double camel outfit! I matched the floorboards!

Telstra Perth Fashion Festival 2015 Program Launch

I was just going to take a photo in my light studio, but the lovely Andrea from ShopGoh convinced me to take snap at the event… and she took such a nice photo of me that I had to post it up! I was so chuffed – thanks babe!

Wearing the same colour for your top and bottom is becoming quite popular these days – a step up from two piece matching suits and one piece jump suits.

Double white and double denim outfits have been the most popular so far, followed by double grey and double tan coloured outfits.

I was super keen to try putting together a double camel outfit, because I have SO MANY camel / tan / caramel coloured items, all stored away carefully in my wardrobe. I have to put them to use some how!

I also want to try out double khaki and double beige too – just for fun.
Double Camel Outfit

So the funniest aspect to this story: BOTH my top and pants are 15 years old!

My top is a beautiful crocheted knit top by Kookai and my high-waisted, wide-legged pants are from Witchery.

I bought them (separately) when I started working as a web/graphic designer.

I love how fashiong goes around and around!

With everyone dressing in monochrome colours these days, I’m hankering for an injection of colour again!

My heels are Alexander Wang from Forward by Elyse Walker, my bag is by Marc Jacobs (Shopbop).


Telstra Perth Fashion Festival 2015 Program Launch

22 July 2015

Telstra Perth Fashion Festival 2015 Program Launch

After spending a week camping in the Australian desert, I was SO glad to put on some high heels, make a trip into the city and dive head first into the sparkly and glamourous world of fashion!

The Telstra Perth Fashion Festival launched its 2015 Program and it was so enjoyable to be a part of it.

The morning featured gorgeous models, kick-arse designer gowns, cool head pieces and accessories, an amazing sculptural floral arrangement… and a free flow of gourmet juices and coffee.

Telstra Perth Fashion Festival 2015 Program Launch

I always take my hat off to event organisers, producers and the people who work behind the scenes to put together a fashion moment. Because while it looked simple (and it was all over in 10 minutes!), oh the amount of time and work that must’ve gone into it!

I had a warm fuzzy feeling by the end of it – mainly because I know some of the designers, boutique owners, models, stylists – so I felt like I was part of the community and I just want to give everyone a great big group hug! Go Perth Fashion!

Check out the TPFF website to see the line up of designers, events and buy tickets.

Telstra Perth Fashion Festival 2015 Program Launch - Photo by Stefan Gosatti

Two photos by Stefan Gosatti. These are two looks that jumped out and wowed me!

On the left, Hannah wear a Jaime Lee dress with a Reny Kestal head piece.

On the right, Laura wears a 33 Poets Dress and Generics accessories.

I loved all the ornate embellishments, embroidery and the deep burgundy lips.

Telstra Perth Fashion Festival 2015 Program Launch

And the morning wouldn’t be complete without networking, catching up with fashion friends and taking fashiony photos!

Here I’m with girlfriends Sandy from Hello Parry and Andrea from ShopGoh. Taken by Part Blue Photography.

Follow me on Instagram (@karenlycheng) to catch up with my daily adventures!


Fresh Handmade Noodles at Kitchen Inn, Kardinya

13 July 2015

Kitchen Inn, Kardinya

Yum! My girlfriends and I met up for lunch at Kitchen Inn, Kardinya.

We ate their famous handmade noodles and it was amaaaaazing!

Kitchen Inn, Kardinya

We ordered the Braised Pork Flat Noodles and a few other dishes, but these noodles were definitely the winner.

They were just so fresh and cooked to perfection!

It made me realise that all the other noodles eating experiences I’ve had in the last few years… just paled in comparison.

The sauce was delicious and tasty. The braised pork was soft and succulent and the mince was very tasty to eat.

If I were at home, I would have licked the bowl clean.

Next time I’m hoping to try the Kolo Mee (Prawn Noodles), Curry Laska Noodles and the Kampua Mee (BBQ Pork Noddles).

Not all at once though :)

 

Kitchen Inn
19/17-23 South St,
Kardinya WA 6163

Click to add a blog post for Kitchen Inn Kardinya on Zomato


Top 10 Ways I Recharge My Daily Mojo

6 July 2015

Brought to you by NESCAFÉ.

Not so long ago, I used to be a stay-at-home mum with three children under 6!

Now I’ve found myself as a work-at-home mum with school-aged children, who are fast approaching their teenaged years.

While this new phase of my life has certainly been easier for me to handle than “the intensive care of newborns”, it has come with new and different challenges.

Life is now fast-paced and jam-packed. With work, school, chores, extracurricular activities, hobbies, holidays, sports, music, fitness, and friends – all our activities are intensely involved towards nurturing and supporting our family and children.

If I don’t keep myself balanced, refreshed and recharged… I find myself drained, frustrated, moody and brain-dead.

So working with NESCAFÉ, today I’m sharing my top 10 ways I recharge myself on a daily basis.

Here goes!

Top 10 Ways I Recharge My Daily Mojo

1. Early Morning Rituals

I try to wake up at 6:30am each morning, before the kids wake up. If I don’t jump up and DO something to ACTIVATE MY BRAIN, I will just slump over and go back to sleep haha!

So can you believe it, I actually LIKE the meditative process of assembling my kid’s lunch boxes in the morning. It gets the gears going in my brain and body.

Thankfully my kids don’t like complicated lunches. They like simple, grab-and-go kind of food – just a simple sandwich, some cracker biscuits and some fruit!

Top 10 Ways I Recharge My Daily Mojo

2. Walking to School

While my older two kids ride to school with their friends, I walk (or cycle) with my littlest boy to school. We usually meet up with friends along the way, so it’s a nice way to start the morning.

We are so blessed to live 2kms from our primary school, next to some lovely parks and creeks. It gets me moving and active. And again, I find it meditative and refreshing.

Top 10 Ways I Recharge My Daily Mojo

3. Exercise to Recharge

It’s no secret that I love fitness! I don’t have time (or money) to go to the gym regularly. So I’ve learned a whole heap of workouts, cross training, weights routines and stretches and I do them at home.

I try not to be too ambitious about it, aiming for 20-45 minutes per day, and I always feel fabulous for doing it.

Top 10 Ways I Recharge My Daily Mojo

4. A Cup of Coffee While I Read The News

This is my essential, daily, ME TIME. I need to sit back and switch off with a cup of coffee for 20 minutes, catching up on the news and emails. It’s non-negotiable!

When I’m at home, I don’t have my own espresso machine or coffee machine; I happily drink instant coffee, or if I’m really pressed for time, I use instant coffee sachets (such this NESCAFÉ Cappuccino) which is just as yummy.

5. Writing in a Journal

I do love telling stories. I love being reflective, mindful and thankful. I’m constantly jotting down ideas, things I’m thankful for and just random thoughts on my phone or in a notebook.

Even if the ideas don’t amount to anything, even if they are disconnected thoughts and feel more like a to-do list… I always feel content that I wrote them down.

6. Catching Up with Girlfriends

My girlfriends are so important to me. We share our stories and dramas; we laugh and cry; and most importantly, we assure each other that we are NOT crazy!

Talking to them is soul refreshing for me; they keep me sane and keep me grounded. So I ALWAYS make sure I make some sort of contact with my girlfriends throughout the day or week.

Top 10 Ways I Recharge My Daily Mojo

7. Learn to Laugh

As much as I like to plan my life out… some days, life just throws lemons at me.

This particular day, my car stopped working. I was supposed to do a zillion important errands, go to a parent and teacher interview, go to the shops and find parts for my son’s school project.

I could have been extremely annoyed and agitated, but I just decided to look at the positives (I spent the day at home, doing work and cleaning the house!), and even found a moment to laugh at the strange arrangement of my car’s broken parts.

Top 10 Ways I Recharge My Daily Mojo

8. Prepare and Cook Dinner

I love cooking and it definitely relaxes me.

I find that if I prepare dinner during the day, instead of doing it at 4-5pm when the kids are home, I can spend more time giving my kids my full attention when talking to them after school or helping them with their homework.

This evening, I made a slow-cooked chicken coconut curry with, eggplant and tomato. Yum!

Top 10 Ways I Recharge My Daily Mojo

9. Give Myself a Manicure

As much as I love to get a manicure and long lasting nails put on at a salon, it can get a bit expensive. Plus, my nails get quite damaged from the technique of grinding and smoothing down of the nail’s surface.

So I’ve invested in some lovely hand scrubs, hand creams, and nail polishes for me to do at home.

It takes 15 minutes to do and I’m always left feeling pleased as punch.

It’s quick and easy! Simple pleasures are always the best!

Top 10 Ways I Recharge My Daily Mojo

10. Read a Book

And lastly, my favourite way to recharge at home is to read a book, sipping on a hot drink.

I like to mix up my reading collection with a whole bunch of classics and modern literature. I only ever read a few pages each day; that’s enough to transport me to another world and relax me.

This post was super easy for me to write, because I already drink the NESCAFÉ Café Menu sachets at home and was rather happy to hear that they have launched their new and improved café flavours.

NESCAFE Menu

NESCAFÉ sent over a few boxes of their latest range for me to try out -Cappuccino, Strong Cappuccino, Decaf Cappuccino, Mocha, Dark Choc Mocha, Skim Latté, Caramel Latté, Vanilla Latté and many more!

So far my favourites are: Cappuccino and Mocha.

I don’t drink them every day, but I do buy a box or two and go through them quickly enough, because they are so convenient, quick to make, easy to drink, and they taste nice, smooth, creamy and frothy.

I do have slight sensitivity to milk, but I’ve found that these don’t affect me at all – which is SO good, especially when I forget to buy a bottle of soy or almond milk for myself!

Top 10 Ways I Recharge My Daily Mojo

It was actually my mother that got me onto these coffee sachets, because when we travelled to Singapore and Malaysia together, I discovered that lots of cafés don’t offer soy milk as an option. Then I also discovered that my mother carried these around with her in her handbag and I would BEG her (daily) for one or two, because I was so desperate for a coffee!

I was sold since then. So now, I pop them in my handbag (with a flask of hot water) whenever I go out to do my errands, I take them travelling, and I leave them in my car, in case I ever find myself in need of an emergency coffee hit or – as I mentioned before – in need of some serious recharging!

Have you tasted them before? Do you drink coffee at home? How do you unwind and recharge?

If you’d like to try out the new NESCAFÉ Café Menu recipes, you can get a free sample for yourself at nescafe.com.au/sampling.


Anine Bing and Prima Jeans

1 July 2015

Anine Bing and Jeanswest Prima

I’ve been a little bit obsessed with my skinny black jeans at the moment.

I know it’s a weird thing to be obsessed about, because they’re not exactly a new thing and I’ve had many, MANY pairs over the years. What’s the big deal right?

I’ve just found myself waking up in the morning and wanting to wear nothing else. Blue jeans? Khaki jeans? Grey trousers? Neh. Black jeans it is then!

Then I’ll just throw on a knitted jumper, or a grey sweat shirt, or a denim shirt, or a checked shirt, or a white t-shirt, or a striped t-shirt… then some ankle boots and voilà my outfit is done.

I have a sneaking suspicion that my “obsession” is more from the result of winter laziness.

But I just tell myself that it’s very Kate Moss, except that I don’t have blonde hair, height, or a rock star husband.

Anine Bing and Jeanswest Prima

ANINE BING T-SHIRT

I popped over to the Anine Bing online store a few weeks ago – I just LOVE the style of her whole collection. It’s so casual, cool and everything seems to work perfectly together. I want to to buy everything!

I bought this Anine Bing striped t-shirt and chose the size XS. It’s supposed to be loose fitting, but in all honesty, it’s probably 1-2 sizes too big for me. It looked a bit like a nightie when I first wore it! The fabric is 100% cotton and feels nice, smooth and robust.

I decided that I was going to keep it, so I attacked it with a sewing machine and took a few cms off the body. It looks great on me now :P

JEANSWEST PRIMA JEANS

Last week I mentioned that I fell in love with Jeanswest’s Prima Jeans collection and now I have a pair in blue and black.

I went into the store to try on the Super Skinny 7/8 length jeans and found that they are a perfect length for my short legs – meaning that I don’t have spend extra money at the tailor to take them up YAY!

PLAID COAT

This Black and White Plaid Coat was such an awesome buy! I got it from Shein, on sale, for under $50.

I was actually going to buy this Black and White Long Cardi, or this Plaid Blouse, but I thought the coat would last me a bit longer through the colder season.

Peachbox Bangles

SILVER BANGLES

My wristwear is by a new-ish online shop called The Peach Box.

They have a pretty cool collection of modern and on-trend designs which are really affordable. They are only costume/fashion jewellery but their price points are very affordable :)

BLACK STRAPPY HEELS

These babies are from Styletread! They are the Libby Pair by Tony Bianco and they are half price at the moment.

Phew! I’m really looking forward to the weekend – bring on the school holidays and my birthday festivities already!

Happy shopping!

xxx


Chin’s Noodle House and their Famous Peking Duck

29 June 2015

My sister, who is living in London, was recently back in Perth for a short visit.

Whenever she is in town, she likes to schedule in a very efficient eating tour of all her (our) favourite childhood eats.

And I am always VERY happy to throw my clean-eating, gluten-free, carb-free, pseudo-paleo eating regime out the window and tag along – haha!

This particular day, we had an extended family dinner at Chin’s Noodle House in Leeming.

There were 22 of us all together and we ordered tonnes of our favourite Chinese dishes, including one of our favourites: Chin’s Famous Peking Duck.

Chin's Famous Peking Duck, Leeming

YUM!! It’s been YEARS since I’ve eaten Peking Duck!

I remember eating it in various Chinese restaurants throughout my childhood. We were always celebrating someone’s birthday, or someone being in town, with a 10 course Chinese banquet dinner.

I never liked the chili crabs, or the garlic prawns very much – Peking Duck was always my favourite.

This dish comes as a 3 Course Meal ($63).

Chin's Famous Peking Duck, Leeming

1st course consisted of sliced, crispy duck meat served on crepes with spring onions, cucumbers and a special duck sauce.

The duck skin was soooo crispy, with a little bit of tasty fat clinging to the underside of the skin. The duck meat was succulent, tender, and so yummy.

I was in absolute heaven!

Thankfully I was sitting next to my 6 year old son, who merely raised his eye brows at the thought of eating duck skin, so I snatched it up quickly and said something like:

“Aww you don’t like it? Okay Mummy will eat it for you…”

(There was none of that carry-on “Now you know the rules. Just take one bite and see if you like it. It’s really yummy! Come on, just try it. It’s like a mini kebab. This is crispy skin! You like chicken skin, this is kind of the same…”)

Chin's Famous Peking Duck, Leeming

2nd course was a clear duck soup, with preserved salted vegetables, sliced tomatoes and soft tofu.

So the duck pancakes were good, but this clear soup was even better. I sipped it slowly and ceremoniously, to prolong the flavour in my mouth. It was salty and sour, with hearty undertones from the duck and spices. It was utterly delicious.

My kids loved it too. My 6 year old had 2 bowls of it and demanded more. Too bad buddy.

Chin's Famous Peking Duck, Leeming

And lastly for the 3rd course, diners get to choose how the shredded duck meat was to be served. You can have the duck stir fried with bean sprouts and ginger, or with dry chilli sauce, or with rice/egg noodles.

We chose Sang Chow Bow, which was the stir fried duck served with lettuce leaves.

Again it was tasty and simply delicious!

We ordered plenty of other food, including roast crispy chicken and plum sauce, sizzling Japanese bean curd with diced chicken, salt & pepper squid, lamb, vegetables and bean curd in claypot, kai lan with garlic sauce and I think I might have missed one or two.

Chin's Famous Peking Duck, Leeming

And lastly, we ordered one of our childhood favourites: Fried Ice Cream!

It’s a ball of ice cream that has been dipped in breadcrumbs and quickly deep fried.

Actually… I have never liked Fried Ice Cream, nor has any of my siblings! It’s just one of those things that my parents, Aunties and Uncles ordered for us, because THEY liked it as kids, so we were made to eat it.

So to continue the tradition, I  ordered it for my kids and suggested very strongly that they should eat it too!

Chin’s Noodle House
51 Farrington Rd, Leeming, WA

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Bamboo Body Knit Collection

25 June 2015

I absolutely love bamboo fabric!

I adore the luxurious, soft, silky feel of it; and the lovely drape and weight of it oozes quality and comfort. I also like the fact that it is a natural fabric and an eco-friendly and sustainable resource.

The team at Bamboo Body sent over some amazing knits, which I’m so excited to share with you!

I also have a special discount code at the end of this post to share – yay!

BambooBody Knit Collection AW15

First up, this is this Bamboo Cashmere Scoop Knit.

It is made from 95% bamboo, 3% cashmere and 2% wool. I’m wearing the knit in Oatmeal XS, but it also comes in Black and Cacao (dark brown).

Oh my, it is sooooo lovely!

It is so luxurious, soft, comfortable, breathable and lightweight… yet it’s still slightly thick enough to be warming, without being too heavy or chunky.

 

BambooBody Knit Collection AW15

I found that this jumper was easy to dress up to create a modern and stylish outfit.

Plus it was easy to layer under my coats, because it wasn’t bulky.

I’m so in love with this particular scoop neck style and the oatmeal colour. It’s so elegant, chic and it falls very nicely. I just want to wear it everyday!

I’m also wearing a top like this Essential Scoop Tee underneath the jumper.

BambooBody Knit Collection AW15

This is the Bamboo Cashmere V Neck in black, and this time I went one size up to a Size S, because I wanted to wear it in a more slouchy, relaxed style.

Again the knit is made from 95% bamboo, 3% cashmere and 2% wool. And again the style did not disappoint!

I love the comfortable, smooth, soft texture of the knit and I just adore the way it falls on my body.

I have been wearing this jumper with skinny jeans, faux leather pants and pencil skirts. Love it!

I’m also wearing an Above Elbow Scoop Top underneath.

BambooBody Knit Collection AW15

Knits are tricky garments to buy, because quality usually goes hand in hand with price.

Until now I have struggled to find a high-quality luxurious knit that didn’t cost me $200+.

These bamboo cashmere jumpers tick ALL my boxes: high-quality look and feel, quality fabric, high in comfort, classic minimal style, zero itch factor and great price.

BambooBody Knit Collection AW15

Lastly I also tried on the Bamboo Duster Jacket which is like a long cardigan. Again I’m wearing the Oatmeal colour in Size XS.

It’s a lovely, flattering and lightweight jacket; it also has a slight taper in the waist to make it look more fitted and slimming.

Do excuse my awkward smile, I was trying to test how the fabric would feel next to my skin (without my top!) and now it looks like casual loungewear that you wear at home.

But of course, it easily layers over a camisole, t-shirt, blouse, shirt or dress, as it has an extremely versatile style.

I feel that it is polished enough to throw over your shoulders at an evening event, and it is perfectly suited to be part of an office wardrobe.

Bamboo Body Knitwear

You know, I’ve never actually heard of bamboo knitwear before. I’ve only ever been familiar with the soft bamboo / jersey type fabric that is often made into basic tees, tanks and yoga pants.

I’m so pleased to have reviewed this range, as I’m utterly hooked on these knits!

Check out the whole Bamboo Body Knitwear range here.

** Special Discount Code **

Bamboo Body are offering all my readers 15% off your whole order (including sale items).

Just enter the code “karencheng” at the checkout to get your discount.

The promotion will run for 2 weeks.

This is such great value!

Do check out these bamboo garments that I recommend:

Essential Bamboo Scoop Tee, in black, white, grey, taupe and lichen (khaki).

Bamboo Cami, in black, white, grey marle, navy & white stripes

Bamboo Tops, in all colours.

(If you’re interested, I actually reviewed some of these bamboo tops in this post and this post a few years ago!)

Happy shopping and I hope you find something you like!!

xxx