Search Results

 

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.


What I Wore: Simple with a bit of Statement

22 November 2016

Aquazzura Heels

I was off to a meeting the other day, and outfit-wise, I was feeling reeeeeally lazy. I threw on a simple and casual top + bottom combo, with a sharp blazer and a structured handbag to make it look smart.

I was going to wear white sneakers, which would have been O-K.

But at the last minute, I decided to throw on some special heels instead – my Aquazzura studded pumps.

Woo hoo statement heels! What a difference it made to my mood!

Aquazzura Heels

Outfit details and shopping links:

Alexander Wang Blazer from The Outnet

Rebecca Minkoff T-Shirt from Shopbop (I bought this tee 5 years ago and I still love it!).

Stretch Denim Skirt by Cotton On.

Michael Kors Selma Bag from Shopbop.

Celine Sunglasses from Vision Direct.

Aquazzura Heels

Lastly, the shoes that changed my mood – these are my Aquazzura Belgravia Lace Up Heels, (link goes to the plain black version), which I scored on a sale!

Shopbop is having a Buy More, Save More Sale from 22 – 29 Nov. Enjoy 15% off orders over $200, or enjoy 20% off orders over $500, or if you’re game, indulge in 25% off orders over $800. Use the code “GOBIG16″ at the checkout! There are some brand and product exclusions, so check out the terms and conditions on the site.

Enjoy browsing or shopping!!


Grana Cashmere Cardigan and Boyfriend Shirt

21 November 2016

Grana Cashmere + Italian Cotton

Hi everyone!

I’m working with Grana again to show off a few basic (and lovely!) additions to my wardrobe.

I picked out two items.

Longline Cashmere Cardigan in Heather Grey.

I had a long grey cardigan for many years; I bought it from Country Road, it’s 100% wool, I wore it every year (all through Autumn, Winter and Spring), but now it has moth holes in it and I don’t really wear it anymore. I do still wear it out on the weekends or out to buy groceries… but I certainly don’t wear it to meetings or any where I have to look smart or professional.

So I’ve had my eye on replacing it, because as I said, I pulled it out of storage to wear it every year. It was always in high rotation for 9 months of the year. It was definitely a timeless wardrobe piece for me.

Grana Cashmere + Italian Cotton

I don’t have much experience with cashmere. I have a few cotton cashmere blend jumpers, a bamboo cashmere jumper and I have a longhair cashmere cardigan (which is really soft and fluffy).

But what I CAN say about this Grana Cardigan is — OH MY, it’s beeeeautiful!

It’s so refined, luxurious, super soft, not itchy at all, warm, yet lightweight and a bit breathable. It really does say this is a luxurious product.

Grana Cashmere Cardigan

I really like the cuffs too. It’s ribbed and double layered, so there’s a feeling of a superior finish to it – rather than floppy, cuffs that might/warp stretch over time.

The cardigan is not thin or flimsy. And it’s not itchy at all. Wool tends to be a teeny-weeny bit itchy, but it’s bearable. This cashmere is soft and smooth. I’m so happy to wear it against my skin. The knit feels really strong, tight, firm but super soft.

I did a quick search online (um, at Nordstrom and Shopbop) and found some “high end” brands offering something similar. Their price point ranges between $300 – $700. So this Grana one is pretty affordable in comparison.

I’m wearing a size XS, which I chose based on the chest measurement from the info about the garment measurements – very handy. I wish all fashion stores would have individual garment measurements!

The quality is just fantastic and I can’t stop raving about it!

Grana Poplin Cotton Shirt

The other item I chose is the Poplin Boyfriend Shirt, in Blue Stripe.

It’s made from 100% Italian Cotton Poplin – which HONESTLY means nothing to me. I have no idea what that is. It just feels like a man’s business shirt. A really nice, smooth one.

This Poplin Shirt has a lovely roomy, casual and relaxed feel to it. Yet because of the firm cotton, it has a business-like, polished look to it. I really like it! It’s a real classic piece.

I can definitely seeing myself wearing it for years.

(As long I don’t spill coffee on it!)

I measured my chest, compared it to the garment measurements on the site… and chose the closest matching size, which was XXS.

I thought, maybe I could try going two sizes up and go for the BAGGY look… you know, like I just spent the night at my boyfriend’s apartment, and I had nothing to wear so I grab his shirt and wear nothing else underneath — HAHA.

In the end, I just wanted a shirt that DIDN’T make me look fat, so I chose the size with the measurements that fitted me best. Ha!

10% Off Discount Code

Grana has extended the discount code for my readers until the end of December!

You can get 10% off your total order and FREE Shipping, by using the code “KARENxGRANA” at the checkout. Valid until 31 December 2016.

Enjoy!


Oily Eyelids and Liquid Eyeliner

18 November 2016

Rimmel 24Hour Colour Precise

I have been using liquid eyeliner pens for about 10 years or so.

I’ve tried so many brands in that time!

I prefer liquid eyeliners over pencil eyeliners because, my biggest problem is that I have OILY EYELIDS.

This means my eyeliner tends to transfer to my upper eyelid and smudge off throughout the day. I also find that eye primers and eye bases don’t work for me.

This is what I do to manage my oily eyelids: I apply the eyeliner. I dust my whole eyelid with skin-coloured eyeshadow or powder — but of course, as I sweat throughout the day, the powder wears off, so I’m constantly having to find a mirror and apply powder to my eyelids during the day, and I’m also wiping the black transfer off my eyelids all day too. Haha it’s such as hassle.

I found a few brands that are pretty good: Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel (brush and gel pot is a bit fiddly though), Dior (bit too expensive!), Revlon (pretty good for the price!). They all still smudge after 10 hours, and I manage this by giving my eyelids a dust around the 5-6 hour mark.

Lots of big name brands DON’T work for me; they smudge and transfer after 1 or 2 hours of wear – Clinique, NARS, Sephora, and lots of drugstore brands like Maybelline, L’Oreal, Max Factor, Covergirl to name a few.

ANYWAY – Rimmel sent me a 24 Hour Colour Precise Eyeliner – in black, blue and white.

Of course I had my doubts (because of its low price), but turns out that it’s really good! It has excellent staying power!

This is what I do now: After applying this Rimmel eyeliner and dusting my lids with powder in the morning (say at 8am), my eyes will stay smudge-proof for around 10 hours, till 6pm. So good!

If I’m going out in the evening, I will just clean the top of my eyelids (leaving the eyeliner in place), reapply the eyeliner, reapply the powder, and it’ll last all through the evening.

Then at the end of the evening, a simple wipe of Gentle Eye and Makeup Remover (I use L’Oreal) and the eyeliner comes off REALLY easily. In two swipes! No need to rub again and again and again and again!

It claims to be “24 Hours Wear” but I haven’t tested whether it stays on for 24 hours! Maybe it does?

The tip is softer than usual. A lot of online reviewers say it’s flimsy and crap, but I really like it! It feels like a soft brush tip.

It costs $13.95 from Priceline, but I saw them on 50% OFF at Coles, so I bought two… and put one in a little makeup bag to leave in my car!

I’ve been using this eyeliner for a few months now. I was sent the product as a free sample, but I believe it’s a winner for the great price, and I’m super happy to share!


My Mid 30’s Skin Journey

15 November 2016

Skin Journey Nov 2016

Hi everyone!

This post isn’t sponsored. I’ve been working on this journey (and blog post) for 12 months now.

In that time, I researched and visited 3 medical practitioners. I paid for all my own consultations and products. I declined many offers for free trials and sponsored reviews because I didn’t want anyone to influence me with their own agendas. I was seeking genuine advice and information, from someone I trusted, and preferably from someone who didn’t know I was a blogger!

12 Months Ago

My skin was turning a corner. The signs of ageing were increasing and my skin was starting to look a bit… tired, dull, old.

I don’t actually have a problem with ageing. I’m quite happy to grow old gracefully!

But I decided that I wanted to DO something about my skin, I wanted to KNOW what could be done and I wanted to talk to an expert.

Skin Journey, Nov 2016

My Issues

I have lots of sun spots and pigmentation.

I have teenaged acne scars on my cheeks that make my skin look cratered – which has been looking worse as I get older.

I have a few tiny raised lumps/growths on my skin too: seborrheic keratosis and senile angiomas – which I have already checked out. Not cancerous.

I know my skin is prone to hyperpigmentation… so after I get a pimple, there is a dark spot or scar for up to 6 months. Thus I have lots of dark spots, especially around my nose, mouth and chin.

I’m losing general elasticity and firmness in my skin.

My Unknown 

Everyone seems to be talking about treatments like laser, IPL, fractional laser, CO2 lasers, and more. But would they work with my olive Asian skin and my hyperpigmentation? I had no idea where to start.

I’ve heard amazing laser experiences and I’ve seen people who have had great results. But I’ve also heard about bad results. I’ve read that some people are hooked on it, some people regret starting laser so young and wished they started on something a little less harsh. Some started with skin that was OK, but after a bad treatment, their skin didn’t react well and they looked older and worse because of it.

(Oh man, I did waaaay too much reading on the internet and it scared the crap out of me! It must be true right? Haha!)

Dud Experiences

I went to visit a few other doctors, found from my own research and I wasn’t particularly happy with them.

It was just little things, for example I felt like I was being spoken down to, or I felt like an idiot for being apprehensive and asking so many questions. I just didn’t have a good gut feeling with them.

For one doctor, I asked a question about a particular laser. I was hoping for an explanation of how the laser actually works to make skin look better – I know it makes holes in the skin, but how does that actually produce the desired effect in the dermis?? Instead I was told that Kim Kardashian and lots of other Hollywood celebrities use it every 6 months because it’s amazing. Oops! Not a great way to sell laser to me, sorry!

My Determatologist

Basically I wanted to talk to a real skin doctor; someone sensible, someone who focused more on skin health and skin conditions, rather than on beauty and cosmetics.

10 years ago, one of my boys had very bad eczema as a toddler and we went to a paediatric dermatologist, who was just amazing! She helped us fix my son’s eczema and now he has ZERO signs of eczema. She gave us great advice for our whole family over the years, but she doesn’t treat adults. I asked her for a recommendation for a dermatologist whom I could see, and she gave me the name of her colleague.

So I went to see this colleague and I really liked her a lot too. She’s around my age, possibly a bit older. She was honest, sensible, conservative and she knew ALL the answers to ALL my questions. She gave me a quick lesson about skin cells, in a science teacher kind of way (not from a beautician’s perspective). She did a thorough check of my skin, heard me whinge about my first world problems… and she recommended a few things to me.

My Treatment

My dermatologist said that fractional laser is the best treatment for acne scarring, because it gives the best results. But the problem is that I have to find the laser that best suits my skin type. She didn’t have the right laser for me and she declined to treat me.

She recommended that I see a particular laser clinic in Perth, but I won’t share, because I haven’t been there yet!

I asked her: Once the skin is lasered and the scarring is gone/ fixed/ skin healed … will that result last forever, or will it slowly revert back to it’s scarred state after 3-5 years? Her answer: Fixed forever. However skin will still age and will lose elasticity over time.

Vitamin A

She prescribed some Vitamin A cream to me, (which I have been using for 12 months now), and it has been FANTASTIC.

Vitamin A (or Retinol, Retin A, Tretinion) stimulates the skin cells, makes them turn over much more rapidly, therefore increases the shedding of dead skin cells. It reduces the look of fine lines, smoothes and refines the skin, improves skin tone, improves hydration, decreases sebum production, promotes healing and healthy cell growth and lots of other cell things. Sounds a bit too good to be true.

There are quite a few side-effects (dry skin, redness, flaking) and some people react very badly to it. I read that you can slowly increase your tolerance to it by starting with a low dosage.

But my skin loves it and my skin looks SO much better for it! I loooove the stuff!

Starting Laser? 

For the last year, I’ve had the phone number of that laser clinic in my hand. But I’m too chicken to start!

Whenever I think OK I’m going to make the phone call to start my treatment, a large part of my brain thinks:

“Oh man, I don’t hate my skin that much. I don’t look that bad! I’m actually quite happy with how I look. I’m going to leave it for a bit. I don’t need it yet. A bit of makeup and I’ll be right!”

It’s a mixture of not-wanting-it-bad-enough, being not-too-fussed about my skin, being happy with the way things are, being a bit lazy, being a bit fearful…

Haha so, I haven’t started any laser and that’s how it’s been for the last year.

Starting Facials

Ok so what I HAVE been doing: I’ve been getting good and effective facials, peels, skin rejuvenation, non-invasive treatments instead.

I’ve tried a few of these active facials. Some are very mediocre! Some a good and some are AMAZING!

Just like my hair, just like my teeth check ups, just like my exercise… if I do them on a regular basis – my skin looks great and feels great. It’s all about maintenance – small, slow steps upwards!

I’m sure – eventually- I’ll give laser a go, but that might still be a few years away.

I hope to write a bit more about my facials and treatments soon!

Thanks for reading!


Celine Baby Audrey Sunglasses: Winner

10 November 2016

Vision Direct - Celine Baby Audrey Giveaway

Hi everyone!

In collaboration with Vision Direct, I’m so pleased to announce the winner of my Celine Baby Audrey Sunglasses: Evelyn S. from ACT, who says she’s been reading my blog for 13 years! Amazing!

A big thank you to everyone who entered. And thank you to everyone who left me a little message :)

I’m hoping to have another awesome giveaway closer to Christmas – so do stick around!


Life Blocks

7 November 2016

We’ve temporarily banned our kids from playing computer games, going on social media, youTube, and using any kind of digital device for the time being. They only get very limited use of the computer and tv.

My two big boys have been fine. They just go off to the park to play sport.

But my youngest – who is 7 years old – doesn’t like sport. And he is possibly the most obsessed (in a young kid who loves his heroes kind of way) with anything to do about computer games. He even admits that he can’t stop thinking about Mario Brothers, Minecraft and Pokemon Go, because it’s always in his mind.

Now part of me thinks it’s ABSOLUTELY FINE for a kid to love a subject so much that he can’t stop thinking about it. I’m like that too. But the problem is that, it dominates his mind so much that there’s little room for anything else.

He needs to work other areas of his brain!

Actually let me clarify that. He’s an extremely bright boy, top of his class, working well above his year level (no credit to me whatsoever) and he’s very advanced and exposed to a lot of things, due to him being the third child.

So I don’t have any concerns for his brain functions, learning, development etc. The only things I’m concerned about are… teaching him how to seek other areas for fun, enjoyment and happiness; helping him develop self-control and discipline; and helping him work on his social skills, imagination and creativity!

Anyway, he’s come up with a whole lot of very adorable and in a way, somewhat tragic, manifestations of his interests.

Liam's Life Blocks

He found some bits of wood from the shed and turned them into iPads? YouTube tablets?

I asked him about it and he told me they were 45 minute videos about 1) How Our Family Came To Be and 2) A David Attenborough style look at Australia… and he proceeded to narrate the script and describe his storyboard ideas to me, but I switched off after 60 seconds… OMG that boy can talk.

I do look at these and chuckle with delight. They say so much!

Hilarious. Cute. Tragic. Clever.


Win a pair of Celine Baby Audrey Sunglasses!

2 November 2016

Brought to you by Vision Direct

Vision Direct, Celine Baby Audrey Sunglasses

Exciting news everyone!

In collaboration with Vision Direct, we are celebrating the Spring/Summer season with a giveaway!!

I’m also saying a bit of a thank you to all my readers who have stuck with me over the years. Less and less people are reading blogs these days, but it turns out I still have a strong readership and I just want to give back to you guys – thank yooou!

Vision Direct, Celine Baby Audrey Sunglasses

We’re giving away a pair of Celine Baby Audrey Sunglasses in Black for the lucky winner – woohoo! I chose it! Hope you like it. Don’t worry, you get a brand new pair, not this one :)

I reviewed a pair of Baby Audreys (Havana) on my blog a few months ago, and as I said, they are a fashion classic. I found them to be lightweight, fit perfectly within the area of my face and the lenses are not too large or overwhelming.

They are just gorgeous sunglasses.

Vision Direct, Celine Baby Audrey Sunglasses

The actual product name is Celine CL 41053/S Baby Audrey 807/1E and there are measurements on the product page if you need to check the size.

I also measured the total length of the front of the sunglasses, from outer eye to outer eye is 13.9cm. So you can use that measurement and compare it with your existing sunglasses.

Vision Direct, Celine Baby Audrey Sunglasses

I looooove them and I’m sure you’ll love them too.

 

~ GIVEAWAY is now closed! Thank you!~


November Check In

1 November 2016

Hi everyone!

What have you been up to these days? I’ve fallen into a really nice routine of balancing work and play… and I’m feeling rather content and satisfied about it. Possibly, a bit guilty? Nah, not really.

1) My Eating has been pretty good except for one weird thing. I’m not on any clean eating or paleo diets. I just try to eat healthy, smallish portions… I have a piece of toast or granola + yoghurt in the morning, then I snack on a bowl of nuts and some fruit. But come lunchtime I’m seriously craving for a piece of chicken. Crunchy, crispy chicken. With skin. With soy sauce and sesame oil. With mayo and chilli. So yeah, usually I have crumbed chicken and salad for lunch.

I find it weird that I don’t crave sugar anymore. I’m not into cake, chocolate or sweet things these days. It’s all about the salt for me!

2) Too much coffee. I was recently given a bag of ground coffee as a gift. So I bought myself a mini coffee plunger and OOPS, now I drink about 3-4 cups a day! With almond milk, so it’s healthier right? Maybe not.

Ok would you believe that when I was 20 something and working the city, I used to drink 4 cups of coffee a day. Then while I was pregnant and having kids, I didn’t drink ANY caffeine at all. Only in 2012 (when I started cycling tsk tsk) I started to drink coffee again and NOW look where I am.

So I’m thinking I should back off the caffeine, but holy crap my brain hurts when I only have 2 cups.

3) Sleeping too late. Usually my target is 11pm to have lights out and my head on the pillow. But it always end up to be more like 12 – 1am. And yep, every morning I get up at 6am and totally regret it.

4) Being a Mean Mum. I used to “help” my older boys and guide them through their homework and assignments with suggestions, minor assistance, proof-reading and just a general check-up on their progress and their time management. BUT after lots of tears and fights, I’ve totally backed off and they get ABSOLUTE ZERO help now. I feel really mean, but I think it’s better for them this way… and me!

5) Injured. Ok I think this is a sign of getting old… but I pulled a muscle in my back on the weekend (just by getting out of bed) and it HURT LIKE HELL! I was in tears, and my whole back hurt with every tiny movement of my body, even breathing sent pain shooting in all directions. I couldn’t drive for 2 days and I was SOOO ANNOYED. Thankfully it went away after 3 days.

6) Feeling Super Motivated to exercise now! After my back pain subsided, I felt so NORMAL, ALIVE and SO THANKFUL that I have pain-free movement. What a blessing it is! Now I feel like doing EVERYTHING. It’s like I’m back from the dead. Run! Cycle! Lift weights! Do a cardio class! Do it all while I can! Go go go!

7) Candles. I’m sooo into candles and beautiful smells at the moment. I’m obsessed. I have to have a candle burning as I sit on my computer all day. I’ve gone beyond light, floral scents and starting to turn towards more complex, warming, incense smells.

8) My Garden is going crazy! It’s full of flowers and my heart is bursting with happiness. I’m going to put an order for a truck load of poo and mulch soon – and I’m SO EXCITED PEOPLE. Poo makes me excited!

9) Vitamins. Ugh I hate taking vitamins. My husband and my mother swear by them and believe in them with all their hearts. But I don’t like to take them because I can get a bit queasy when I take them sometimes. So now I have a bit of a psychological problem; whenever I LOOK at a vitamin, I instantly feel queasy and refuse to take it (I try to avoid, or forget, or hide them, just like a child haha!). Most times I have to force myself – because my mother and husband nag me about it. And it’s not worth the argument. Honestly, I don’t think they have any positive effect on me whatsoever (the vitamins, that is). I have a healthy diet and eat a wide variety of foods after all??

However recently, I decided that since I don’t drink cow’s milk, I will try to take calcium supplements regularly (every day). I’ve been taking them for 2 weeks without fail and my nails and cuticles have been amazing! My nails don’t flake, they are not brittle and thin, they are strong and healthy looking. And my cuticles look so plump and not-dried up. I am absolutely attributing this to the calcium supplements!

10) Work has been great. It’s pouring in from all directions, and I’m really good at saying NO, so I don’t get myself over-worked and over-stressed.

11) Family life. The husband has been busy, but still comes home everyday at 5:30pm for a walk in the park with the kids.

We’ve banned all forms of computer games in our house for the time being, kids are getting bored but they get by. My husband and I are LOVING it.

12) Still Reading. I’m still halfway through The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. I read a little bit every night. I’m going so slow with this book, it’s quite embarrassing really.

Wow that was a long list! Gotta go! Have a great week!

xxx


Tiisch Cafe, Perth

18 October 2016

Tiisch, Perth

The other day, I caught up with a few blogger friends at Tiisch Cafe.

I was completely smitten by the high, heritage ceilings, the gorgeous floorboards, the white walls and ALL THE PLANTS.

I’m a closet gardener and I love indoor plants!

Over the years, I’ve owned pretty much all the plants I saw in the cafe (I couldn’t tell you what they are all called though) and seeing them dangling happily in the cafe, made me feel like I was visiting old friends.

Some of my plants were ugly as heck and I had to constantly clean their leaves and talk to them (yes!)… but they all had a lovely charm about them and I adored them.

I loved that there were so much space in the cafe. There were lots of tables and lots of seating. It was roomy and comfortable. I really liked the fresh, modern feel of the cafe, yet it had a warm, quirky atmosphere.

Tiisch, Perth

I have been drooling over Tiisch’s Instagram feed and I wanted to try everything!

In the end – because it was only breakfast – I chose the, Matcha Pancakes with strawberry, roasted rhubarb, mascarpone, honey & chamomile syrup. My friends chose the same.

The pancakes were so lovely, soft and moist. The combinations of sweetness and textures were just fantastic. I wasn’t that keen on the rhubarb though, as I don’t like rhubarb. Nonetheless, it had a roasted, tangy burst to it which complimented each mouthful of sweetness really well.

It was a really lovely breakfast for me. And such a treat!

Next time I’m hoping to come for lunch and try their new Spring menu.

Tiisch
938 Hay St, Perth WA
(corner of Milligan and Hay Street)
www.tiisch.com.au


Aquazzura Heels from Shopbop

12 October 2016

Aquazzura from Shopbop

Wow, never in my life did I imagine I’d be able to own such statement shoes. I’m kind of staring wide-eyed at the screen right now and pinching myself that my career has even gone this way?

In collaboration with Shopbop, I picked out these eye-wateringly, luxurious heels by Aquazzura – forgoing a classic heel, designer handbags, designer dresses, classic coats, and fine jewellery.

I guess it says something about me and my fashion sense?

I picked these because they are a bold, sexy, a little different, but still hugely versatile. They’re not too extravagant, not too loud, not too in-your-face.

Over the years, I’ve worked out that an amazing pair of heels can transform an outfit – whether it’s just ordinary jeans and a t-shirt, or a cute high street dress, or a beautiful evening gown.

Shopbop are having their largest sale of the year.

Spend up to $500, get 25% off your order
Spend OVER $500, get 30% off your order

Just use the code “MAINEVENT16″, offer expires on October 14, 2016, at 11:59 pm PT.

 

If you’ve had your eye on a designer item, pop over to have a peek at the sale. Getting 30% OFF new season designer items is a pretty rare deal!

Here are some of my favourite brands to check out…

Aquazzura – Luxury shoes, if you are into that kind of thing. There are some on sale, starting from $237 (before the mainevent markdown)

Acne Studios – I love their classic designs! Their quirky pieces are a bit too quirky for me though.

A.P.C. – French brand. I bought my beautiful half-moon bag a few months ago! Was thinking to get a tan one?

Clare V. – I have been eyeing a flat clutch for years!

Diane Von Furstenberg – Was thinking of buying a classic lace dress…

Equipment – Hello Signature Silk Shirt!

Furla – Very. Cute. Bags.

Karen Walker – Sunglasses would be nice.

Self Portrait – That lace dress, I’ve been eyeing…

Stuart Weitzman – Classic heels are worth the investment!

Tory Burch – Their clutches and handbags are always in fashion

Even just great brands like FindersKeepers or C/Meo are a great option :)

Enjoy shopping or just browsing!!


What I Wore: Blush on Blush

7 October 2016

Blush Outfit

The sun is finally out and I’m super duper happy to get me some Vitamin D :)

It’s the school holidays at the moment, and I managed to dump my kids with my parents (thank god for grandparents!) while I zipped around getting a whole lot of jobs done.

After that, we all headed out for lunch, a play in a park and a bit of Pokemon hunting haha.

Yes my kids drive me crazy, I’m constantly snapping and growling at them (especially at that bottle flipping thing?!?). But my life is wonderfully domestic and kid-full at the moment, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Blush Outfit

Wearing a blush top by Tibi from Revolve – A beauuuutiful silk, racerback top. Bought it from their Sale Section at 45% off.

Denim shorts by Sass and Bide – These were old jeans, but I cut them up and turned them into shorts!

Blush parka by AL&ALICIA – Another beautiful item that I’ve had for years. However I don’t think the label is in production anymore.

Cadey Lee heels by Schutz from Shopbop – So comfy. I wear these everywhere.

Alexander Wand Marion Bag – I bought this preloved, but spied something similar here. (Mini Prisma Envelope Crossbody bag, not exactly like the Marion, but similar colour)


Reading: The Name of the Rose

3 October 2016

Umberto Eco - The Name of the Rose

This year I’ve upped my reading game and I’ve blitzed through 2 books each month.

Here’s my reading list from Jan – July

Since writing that list, I read Me Before You By Jojo Moyes, on the plane going to and from Scotland/Australia.

Then I picked up this book: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco.

It’s an historical murder mystery set in the 1300s about a bunch of Franciscan monks. Originally written in Italian in 1980 and translated into English, with some text/quotes left in Latin.

Yes it was turned into a movie with Sean Connery and Christian Slater, but I swore I would not watch the movie until I finished the book.

I bought this book in 2000; it was recommended to me by the owner of a small bookstore in the city. I tried to read it, but I only got a few pages in, because I found the historical language too difficult to read!

Over the years I have tried to pick it up several times. But each time I had to put it down after the first chapter because it was too hard! Or perhaps I had a bad case of baby brain?

Anyway… after recently reading Me Before You, I thought I would pick up Umberto again, for something a bit meatier.

But 2 months have passed and I’m halfway through the book haha.

It’s very slow paced, with lots of discussions about abbeys, medieval philosophy, libraries, books and monks.

I find it extremely satisfying to read.

I’ve developed a sudden interest in medieval monasteries, old books and Latin.

Although the language is slow and it’s all a bit “intellectual”, it’s delightful and interesting… and SOOOO DIFFERENT to what I read on the internet through my Facebook feed HAHA.

Which is the main aim of this reading thing!


Shoes Vs Pokemon Craft

25 September 2016

Shoes Vs Pokemon Go

Ahhh this last week, my head has been exploding with fashion, fashion, fashion!

My desk, dinner table, coffee tables, dressing tables and chairs… are all heaped up and spilling over with my fashion crap haha!

So it was with much delight that I spotted my son’s latest craft work and added it to my flatlay.

You see, my youngest son has been REALLY NAUGHTY lately. And the other day, he did such an insane thing – he jumped with TWO feet on the family iPad screen, while looking at me with a smile. WHY? I have no idea. But I banned him from the iPad for 4 weeks.

(It pained ME more than him. But really, I should have just thrown the iPad in the bin.)

The upshot was that he rediscovered his love for craft.

(A bit sad right?)

Anyway, he made little POKEMON GO characters out of toilet rolls – Squirtle, Zubat and Charmander.

 

OMG they were so cute.

Do they make you want to say, “Awwwwww. What a gorgeous, clever, creative kid you are! Ok you can have your iPad back!”

Nope. It didn’t work for me either. He’s still got 3 more weeks to go.

As for my corner of the flatlay: Cadey Lee Heels by Schutz, Tassel Earrings by Mezi, and THE MOST AMAZING salt water spritz thing for my hair.

It’s called Original Mineral Surf Bomb Sea Salt Spray (from Sephora). It’s been around for ages, everybody raved about it years ago, it’s been elevated to cult status for many years and I only started to use it properly this week haha!

I curl my hair, spray it on my fresh curls, then I mess it all up — and I suddenly look like a movie star!! It’s freaking amazing!! I might do a dedicated blog post just for this spray!


Obsessed with Blue Lace Dresses!

24 September 2016

You know that thing that happens when you buy a car – you choose a colour thinking that no one else has that colour… then for the next 3 years, all you seem to see on the road is everybody driving THE SAME CAR MODEL IN THE SAME COLOUR AS YOU?!

Anyway a similar thing is happening to me.

Ever since buying that blue Lover dress that I wrote about here, all I can see are OTHER GORGEOUS BLUE LACE DRESSES!

So here’s number one on my wish list right now:

Obsessed with Blue Laces Dresses

Left: Self Portrait Strappy Lace Dress. Oh my this dress is exquisite! And unique! And beautiful! I am completely smitten! Love the lines, the silhouette, the sheer panels, the contrasting stripes, the flare skirt, the lace – all of it.

Right: Next is the Self Portrait Azalea Dress, in Navy. This is a popular style, re-done by quite a few other brands, but I’ve never seen it in this kind of dark blue before. I love the style of the bodice, skirt and the lace is just lovely.

Obsessed with Blue Laces Dresses

Left: Diane von Furstenberg Zarita Lace Dress. Yes I’ve been considering this dress for a while now. Love the classic design, the flattering shape, the elegant high neck and the 3/4 sheer lace sleeves.

And lastly, this Lovers + Friends Bellini Dress, which is a little more affordable than the others. I really like the contrast between the flower lace and the geometric lace. Again I’m loving that sweetheart V neckline.

Hmm I might have to sell my Lover dress in order to afford these dresses… so they might have to sit in my wish list for a little while longer! Oh well!


Nude Heels by Stuart Weitzman

23 September 2016

Fashion Festival Favourites

A few years ago, I bought these ASOS Pointed-Toe Nude Heels (which were non-leather) because they looked gorgeous. Since then, they have definitely been a timeless staple to my wardrobe.

However, they are a teeny, tiny bit big for me (even though I slip in a cushioned sole insert). So I have to admit that when I walk in them… I take smallish steps and I walk in a slightly careful way. I don’t have a confident stride.

Thus I have been very keen to upgrade to a leather version of this shoe. And to get one that actually fits me properly.

I was thinking of getting this Patent Leather Nude Heels by Tony Bianco. Or these Nude Patent Leather Heels from ASOS.

However, I received a giftcard from Shopbop and spotted these beauties on sale (still on sale too!) – Stuart Weitzman Pumps Daisy 90mm in Light Camel.

I really liked the fact the shoe had a 90mm heel. I think that a 100mm heel is a “high heel standard” these days. But 90mm heels still look fantastic, they are a more comfortable height and you can wear them for longer periods of time.

In terms of sizing… it was pretty risky. I didn’t know anything about Stuart Weitzman sizing… so I had to guess and hope. Turns out the sizing was PERFECT. No need for a shoe insert. I’m super happy!!

In terms of colour… the site makes it look quite yellow/sand colour, which is nice. However, it turns out the colour is perfectly between a pinkish nude and a beige nude. Really, really pretty in real life.

I love that Stuart Weitzman offers a range of “nudes heels”. This Daisy style (90mm heels) comes in a dark tan, tan, pale cream, and pinky blush too.

Best of all, I like the classic, polished, sophisticated style of the shoe… I can wear them with dresses or jeans.


TPFF 2016: Opening Night

21 September 2016

I’m first to declare that I’m not a fashion writer. I’m a kind-of fashion spectator, with a background in art and design, who likes to write from a very personal point of view.

Yes, I love theatre and visual art productions, which is why I love going to fashion shows – but let’s be honest, I’m really a fashion consumer who loves personal style and a shit load of shopping!

So I was very humbled to discover that I was invited to the Opening Launch of this year’s Telstra Perth Fashion Festival.

(The festival has been growing by leaps and bounds over the years, and I heard that tickets were quite hard to get!)

Thus I’m determined to draw out a slightly different view of the fashion festival for those who are interested.

Teltra Perth Fashion Festival 2016 - Opening Night

Firstly, let’s step aside from all the glitz, glamour and cray-cray pea-cocking… let’s talk about the production.

Very rarely do I get swept up and immersed into a fashion show. Virtual reality is all the buzz right now, and while we didn’t exactly see 3D projections and Tron landscapes… there was a very strong, visual nod towards it.

It was the combination of dark, DARK lighting, the delicious head thumping music, the blackened mirrored catwalk, the dramatic spotlights, and a mesmerising, floor-to-ceiling display of kaleidoscope ariel video… of the Australian outback reflecting off the catwalk.

It was superb!

The audience was treated to collections by a selection of Australian designers making waves in the international and national scene – Dion Lee, Bianca Spender, Flannel, Romance Was Born and Zhivago.

(more…)