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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.


Korean Skincare Review – S2J Cosmetics

1 February 2016

Brought to you by Aniqa

Aniqa Korean Skincare - S2J

Hi everyone!

You might remember that I’ve been experimenting with several brands of Korean skincare products from Aniqa – an online store based in Australia, that specialises in popular/cult Korean beauty products.

Well I’ve recently fallen in love with this new brand called S2J.

Their products are a standout for me because they are simple, good quality, and I’ve had good results.

The brand offers no frills, no magical claims… just high quality skincare that works how they are supposed to!

There are only 5 products in the S2J women’s skincare range, so it’s super easy to follow their beauty regime.

Korean Skincare S2J

This is the S2J Ultra Vitamins Facial Treatment Cleansing Foam, however I have the travel size pack ($9) because I just wanted to try it and I was doing a bit of travelling at the time.

Generally I prefer foaming cleansers to cleansing creams, because, after I take off my makeup with makeup remover (which is quite oily), I like to give my skin a really good clean after that.

Korean Skincare S2J

The consistency of the cleansing foam is soft, smooth and creamy. It cleans really well and is gentle on my skin.

It doesn’t have a strong smell. It’s just lovely and light.

Unlike most cleansing foams, this one doesn’t leave me with that dry, tight feeling on my cheeks afterwards. I really like it!

Korean Skincare S2J

This is my other favourite product – the S2J Ultra Collagen Moisturizing Essence.

It is absolutely lovely on my skin. It absorbs SO well and leaves my skin feeling super hydrated, without the greasy shine.

I like the pump pack because I don’t like sticking my fingers into pots of cream and getting the cream stuck under my nails.

Korean Skincare S2J

The range was developed by celebrated Korean makeup artist,  Seo Sujin.

With 20 years of experience in the makeup industry, she has been described as Korea’s “Queen of Beauty” and leading the way as one of Korea’s first Hallyu makeup artists. Hallyu, or the Korean Wave, refers to the rising global popularity of South Korean culture, beginning in the late 1990s.

S2J stands for its philosphy of Smart, Science and Jeune (French for “young”) but I also think it stands for her name :)

Her products seem to have a kind of cult following,

I’ve have been thoroughly enjoying my journey into looking after my skin and I love discovering all these new products!

Aniqa are have a special offer for Valentine’s Day!

Receive a 10% off discount off your entire order, no minimum spend, just use the code “BEMYVALENTINE”. This special promo ends 14 Feb 2016, 11:59pm.

Hope you find something to try!

Have a fabulous week!

xxx


Juicy Awesomeness from Pure Glow Cleanse

29 January 2016

Let me say one thing: I’m not a big fan of juice cleanses!

Personally, I don’t like the idea of drinking only juice for 3 or 5 days.

BUT…

I love drinking juices and smoothies as part of a healthy daily diet and lifestyle.

For me, I make myself a juice or smoothie every one/two/three days.

And when I DO drink one, it replaces a meal – usually lunch.

I have a big breakfast in the morning, a juice/smoothie in the afternoon, I eat healthy snacks, then my dinner is usually at 6pm.

My thinking: If I drink a big cup of yummy, low-sugar, green juice and feel full… I probably won’t be tempted to reach for a quick muffin / pie / ham and cheese croissant when I walk past some at the shops haha!

Pure Glow Cleanse

So, the lovely team at Pure Glow Cleanse sent me a 6 pack of their juices to try out.

I’ve known of Annette, one of the founders, for a number of years, when she used to write as a health and wellness writer. She had a very down-to-earth, not-hardcore, real-life kind of voice in her writings and I enjoyed reading her stuff. So when she launched Pure Glow Cleanse, I took notice of it and I liked that her juices contained no added sugars, no weird herbs, no laxatives, no vitamin extracts, and no protein powders.

How it works: You can select a 1 day, 3 day or 5 day cleanse and choose a pre-set selection of juices to be delivered to your door.

Or you can create your own 6 pack from a menu of their juices, which is what I did.

They were SO YUMMY!!

I have to tell the truth, I felt a bit irritated, because I thought I was quite good at making smoothies and juices… and tasting these juices made me sigh, because they were just amazing… and now I feel that mine are quite ordinary and mediocre in comparison.

Sooo… I take my hat off to the team! These juices are absolutely superior in quality and taste.

They tasted so clean, fresh, rich and smooth. No grittiness. No chunks. Well mixed. Lovely combinations.

Pure Glow Cleanse

Yes they are super expensive though!

They work out to be something like $10 a bottle. Which yep, makes me wince and raise my eyebrows. One of the juices was simply watermelon, cucumber and lime! Ok it was absolutely delicious, but $10?

However, on the other hand, if you wanted to create 18 juices (for 3 days), you’d have to buy heaps of ingredients (cos lettuce, kale, avocado, apples, pears, lemons, limes, watermelon, beetroot, carrots, ginger, dates, almonds, etc etc etc) wash them, store them, make the juices…. then have heaps of leftover vegetables that would probably go off?

And if you want to have less wastage, you’d have to buy less ingredients, which means you’ll just have a smaller variety of juices, so you’d probably get bored of them? And then be less inclined to make them?

So there definitely is a market for time-poor people, who don’t want the hassles of making their own juices!

As for my favourite juices :

The Matcha Milk was simply amazing. Made from matcha (green tea), spirulina (seaweed), almonds, cashews, basil nuts, dates and vanilla… omg its taste made my toes curl from sheer pleasure!

The Cafe Au Late was a close second, it was soooo delicious! It had cold drip coffee, almond, cashews, brazil nuts, dates and vanilla.

Good Karma (the Orange one) was made from carrots, grapefruit, green apple, ginger, turmeric and lemon.

Green Guru (green juice) had kale, cos, cucumber, celery, been apple, mint and lemon.

Anyway, if you are looking for some high quality juices to try, or try a juice cleanse, do check these guys out!

Have an amazing weekend!

xxx


My Running Watch: Garmin Forerunner 15

28 January 2016

Garmin Forerunner 15 Watch

I picked up a new toy for my run this weekend – a running watch!

It’s a Garmin Forerunner 15 (AUD$249) which I bought off eBay at an absolute BARGAIN price – hardly used and in perfect condition.

It’s a slightly older model and apparently a good entry level running watch. The top level Forerunner is something like AUD$699. Ouch! I bought the small sized watch and they only came in three “sporty” colour choices – bleh.

I resisted buying a running watch for years, because I didn’t want my runs to focus so much on gear and gadgets.

I had an overkill of gear and gadgets from my cycling days…. and what I love about running is the fact that I can do it while being so light and free.

Anyway, in the past, when I first started to run, I opted to just run with my smart phone to track my distance and speed.

However, I found that my sweat/body heat fogged up the camera lens and all my photos turned out weird. So I stopped using my phone and started using a Jawbone UP24, which was a gift. But that’s just a simple pedometer which tracks steps and sleep. The distance and times were not very accurate.

So! I’ve finally made the switch to a running watch to keep track of my times and distances.

It came with a heart rate tracker, which I’ve been told by my hardcore running friends, is very useful and steps up my running to a whole new level… but eeep, I don’t think I’ll go there yet!

I want to keep my runs sweet and simple!

Looking forward to another long run this weekend. Hope you all manage to get out and about too!

xxx


Luxe Business Cards by Moo

18 January 2016

Brought to you by Moo

I have been meaning to make myself some simple business cards for… um… 5, 6 YEARS??

Haha and being a graphic designer by trade didn’t help me either. I couldn’t just make any old card – I HAD to make them properly. And PROPER cards took time. So in the end, they didn’t get done.

Anyway, recently, by some glorious timing of the universe, the kind folk at Moo.com hit me up to test out their new luxe business cards.

This is what I came up with!

Moo Cards by Karen Cheng

I made some simple luxe business cards with my contact details and a photo on the back.

Even though there were lots of gorgeous templates on the site, I chose to “Design my card from scratch”.

I chose 30 photos – colourful, vibrant, striking photos, all taken by me, that reflected the vibe of my blog. I simply uploaded them onto the Moo site and fiddled around with the landscape and portrait settings.

Most of the photos were taken with my DSLR Nikon D90 (old model), point and shoot Nikon P300 (old model), my new iPhone 6plus and even my old iPhone 4s (YES the images still looked great!).

Most of them were hi resolution photos, but again, a few were snapped on my 4 year old smart phone. I did enhance the colour saturation and brightness a little on all the photos in Photoshop too.

Moo Cards by Karen Cheng

I wanted a very simple front for my card.

I simply typed in my name and details into a MOO text template, chose Garamond font and chose a dark grey colour.

(Btw, yes I erased my phone number in this photo!)

Moo Cards by Karen Cheng

The Luxe by Moo collection uses a gorgeous, premium quality card stock, with a coloured seam (you can choose from 8 colours), has a weight of 600gsm, and I went with the matte finish.

Prices start from AU$39.95 for 50 cards.

You can even make luxe mini cards, luxe square cards, postcards and notecards, which is kind of cool.

Moo Cards by Karen Cheng

I ordered 100 cards for AU$79.90, and because I only had 30 photos, some were repeated 3 or 4 times, which was fine with me.

I placed my order, I paid a bit extra for express printing and delivery and they arrived at my doorstep 6 days later!!

When I opened the box, I was shocked and deilghted. They looked amazing. I could hardly believe it. I was mostly surprised by how great all my photos looked, as I had expected them to look a bit pixelated and digital (like when I get my digital photos printed out).

I am SO impressed with the quality, the ease with which I made them, the online interface and the price. I totally recommend them!

Cheers to Moo for this opportunity!


Jetties and Boys

15 January 2016

Mandurah Little Jetty

Jetties make me nervous. Big ones, little ones; it’s the whole idea of leaning over the edge, tipping your weight just a little too far, too late to go back and falling that gets me.

Being a mother of pushy-shovey-jumpy boys for the last 12 years, you’d think that I’d be somewhat more relaxed about being on a jetty with them? Nope!

We were in Mandurah recently, taking a walk along the Mandjar Bay Foreshore and Dolphin Quay, when we came across a little jetty. It was tiny. But it was a still about 2m above the water.

Mandurah Little Jetty

My boys couldn’t contain themselves. Walked right up to the edge. Hooked their elbows on a post and leaned out as far as possible.

Found another post and spun themselves until they were dizzy and walked funny.

Lay flat as a pancake and dangled their heads over the edge.

Found a ladder and took turns to climb down. Of course! That’s what ladders are for!

Mandurah Little Jetty

If you ever see me out with all of my kids, you’ll notice that I have a constant pained expression on my face – as if something bad could happen at any time.

My loving expression only happens when I tuck them into bed each night and plant a kiss on their forehead. My job for the day is done.


My Summer Poolside Sandals

14 January 2016

Holster Sandals

I’ve been a huge fan of Holster Sandals for years and I have a few pairs that come out every summer.

Because they are “jelly style” sandals, I love wearing them to the beach or pool… instead of my nice leather sandals.

They have a nice sole padding too, so they are more comfortable (and stylish) than than my beach-bum, rubber flip-flops haha!

Holster Sandals

The team at Holster sent over a pair of Flat Sandals (Heaven T-bar) from their latest Summer Collection and I road tested them while I was away on holiday at a beach resort.

They got buried at the beach, accidentally left in the sun, splashed with chlorine pool water, wrapped up in a towel, left in a beach bag overnight, splashed with lemonade (so I washed them with soap and towel dried them), then I also walked in them for a few hours too. Typical wear and tear for a beach/pool holiday right?!

I probably didn’t treat them very well, but they served me so well.

There are heaps of bright, rainbow coloured sandals with pretty acrylic jewels, but I’m more of a black sandal kind of girl. And I also like this Pandora in Champagne colour one too. What about you?


A Trip To Adventure World, Perth

29 December 2015

Adventure World 2015

Perth is not exactly world renowned for its theme parks, but it does have a few fun parks with rollercoaster rides, water rides, and race tracks – just enough to keep the kids happy and busy all day.

We headed off to Adventure World with a few of my children’s friends, on a gorgeously, hot summer day. There were 8 of us in total: me and 7 boys — eeep!

Once we set up a base camp of towels in the shade, all the 12 year olds and 10 year olds ran off to the water slides. Argh, I was so nervous about letting them run off by themselves. But that’s one thing I love about this place: it’s family friendly and it’s mostly safe. My kids and their friends are pretty sensible and reliable, so I trusted that they won’t do anything silly or irresponsible.

Adventure World 2015

As for me, I got to hang out with my 6 year old. But he was soooo grumpy about it!

I thought it’d be a nice opportunity to spend time with him and show him all the rides that I used to go on as a kid!

“Come on! Lets go on this ride! Let’s jump into the pool and slide down that water slide! Let’s explore the kid’s pool! Let’s go on the monorail! Let’s watch the go-karts!”

But nope, he had a bad case of Mr. Shitty Attitude about the whole place. He just wanted to sit on the towels and eat chips. Then he just wanted to go home. For real??

Adventure World 2015

After an hour of gentle pushing and trying all kinds of psychological parent tricks, I was about to give up and take my 6 year old home, when the bunch of 10 year old boys came back… and so I asked if THEY could take him on a ride or two.

Suddenly this was THE COOLEST PLACE EVER!

If the big brothers were having a good time, it must be cool! Hanging around mum = not very cool.

I wasn’t offended.

I was happy and relieved that he finally loosened up and could finally enjoy the fun park. And I was also happy that I didn’t waste my money on his entry ticket and that I didn’t have to work out how to “punish” him for his bad attitude, or at least, not even making the slightest bit of effort to change his attitude. Phew.

Adventure World 2015

After he loosened up, we had a much better time together.

I took him up on the monorail and he squealed with delight!

There were a couple of random boys on the rail car behind us (maybe 10 year olds?) who kept bumping into our car. We were going at a good pace, but they were purposely speeding up to catch us and bump us. I asked them politely to stop, but they laughed at me and did it a few more times, so I turned around, put on my Angry Asian Aunty tone, and blasted the hell out of them.

Ok not really, I just spoke sternly to them, at length.

But while I was speaking sternly, I was thinking, this could backfire on me, they could start bumping me harder. Or worse, be filled with monorail rage and do something really reckless? So as words left my mouth, I was also trying to think of a backup plan. Hmm, nothing really came to mind.

Anyway, they stopped bumping us and slowed right back. A win for the AAA in a bikini ha!

Adventure World 2015

I bought snow cones for everyone, which looked so pretty, but for the record, were a complete waste of money. We should have just bought slushies.

Adventure World 2015

It has been 3 or 4 years since my kids were last at Adventure World, so they haven’t been on the go-karts before. The bigger boys lined up for 40 long minutes, but it was worth the wait. It ignited all their video game racing skills and it blew their minds! They loved it.

I actually thought that I’d get an hour of quite time by myself, so embarrassingly, I brought a book!

Turns out that I was up and about on my feet, in the water and on rides with my kids the whole time – and having a blast!


Spiced Vanilla Christmas Cookies

18 December 2015

Christmas Vanilla Spiced Biscuits

I made a huge batch of delicious Spiced Vanilla Christmas Cookies for my neighbours and friends!

I made about 80 biscuits in total, then I was sooo over it and refused to make any more. However they were SO YUMMY that my kids (and myself) ended up eating about 20 (over a week) and so we only ended up giving away 12 packets (4-5 biscuits in each) away.

Next time I think I’ll make stars, or round shapes, because my Christmas tree and Christmas men shapes were much too big and a gift bag of 4 biscuits looked really inadequate. I think 8 stars would look much nicer.

The recipe that I used is a variation on Jamie Oliver’s Ginger Bread People recipe, because I don’t really like ginger flavoured biscuits, plus I discovered that my ground ginger was out of date by 6 years haha!

The cinnamon and nutmeg add a gorgeous, subtle flavour to the sweetness of the biscuits, so it doesn’t taste like a boring butter cookie. I only used 1/4 teaspoon of the spices (instead of 1/2 teaspoons), because I don’t like super-spicy biscuits.

Christmas Vanilla Spiced Biscuits

Christmas Vanilla Spiced Biscuits

Christmas Vanilla Spiced Biscuits

Christmas Vanilla Spiced Biscuits

Spiced Vanilla Christmas Cookies
(Makes about 14-18 cookies)

125g unsalted butter
100g soft light brown sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
300g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
2. Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a small pot on low heat, until the sugar is dissolved. Stir until well combined.
3. Mix flour, bicarb, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large bowl and stir.
4. Pour the butter and sugar mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir well until it becomes a dough.
5. Cut the dough in half. Place each dough ball onto each baking paper paper. Flatten them out to 5mm and cut out with shapes directly on the paper.
6. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Decorate with icing and store in an air tight container. Mine were still delicious and crunchy after 7 days!

Enjoy!

Christmas Vanilla Spiced Biscuits

As for the decorating… I was VERY STRICT with my icing instructions, that my kids helped me for 10 minutes then left me alone haha! I did let them make silly biscuit men! And I promised that I’ll make another batch for them to decorate how ever they want – after Christmas.


Just The Two of Us

14 December 2015

Tasmania, Cradle Mountain SnapA few weeks ago, my husband and I went to Tasmania for 10 days.

Just us. No kids.

It was awesome! We became a couple again. Not mum and dad. Just Karen and Andrew.

And you know what? I realised that I’m a pretty fun person!

I’m adventurous! I’m relaxed! I’m easy going and nothing seemed to shit me at all!

And my husband? He’s really cool! He’s funny, engaging, super fun to talk to and so chilled, plus he’s an excellent and well-matched travel companion for me. That’s right, I actually loved hanging out 24/7 with my husband of 13 years haha!

During the trip, I had a thought: Hey we are a pretty cool couple… when we’re NOT shouting at the kids, battling fatigue, juggling schedules, barking out instructions, breaking up fights and riding the tense ups and downs of parenting. Ha!

A short break from normal life, was just what we needed for this year.

I’m so happy to be finishing this year on a high and eagerly awaiting to see in the new year!

Hope your week is filled with love and loved ones! xxx


Create Your Own K. Jacques Sandals

9 December 2015

A few weeks ago, I mentioned I’ve been on the look out for some luxurious sandals.

I had my heart set on some handcrafted, genuine leather sandals – I’ve never had a pair like that before.

I was tossing between a few brands, with K. Jacques definitely being high up on the list because of their long standing reputation of high quality sandals and large range of styles. I was kind of happy to pay a maximum of $200-$250 for which ever brand I chose. In the end, I received a very well timed (more like, crazy-coincidental!) email from the team at K. Jacques.

Create Your Own K. Jacques Sandals
(Photo courtesy of K. Jacques)

K. Jacques was created in 1933 by Mr. and Mrs. Keklikian Jacques in St. Tropez, and still remains as a family business today.

They have boutiques in St. Tropez and Paris, but you can find their shoes in most online luxury boutiques, including Shopbop, Matches Fashion, Net-a-Porter, or if you want to nab a cheeky sale then try The Outnet.

I had the pleasure of trying out the “Customization” feature on the K. Jacques website.

You basically, choose the style of sandal that you like, choose the kind of colours, leathers and sole and mix and match until you come up with a style you love. It’s pretty simple and self-explanatory.

Create Your Own K. Jacques Sandal

There are 32 sandal styles to chose from.

These are just a sample. They all looked beautiful!

Create Your Own K. Jacques Sandals

I had a few ideas and created these three sandals.

I loved the idea of light peach mixed with silver. Then I also wanted strappy sandals in a metallic champagne leather.

Then I realised that I already have a few tan sandals, and I probably should get myself a good quality black pair, maybe with a bit of black and white leopard print?

I spent some time playing with the online app. And I also googled the entire internet for real life photos of real people wearing different designs.

Create Your Own K. Jacques Sandals

I spent aaaages trying to decide!

In the end, I settled on the classic Epicure design in Black leather!

Yes…. I customised a pair of sandals to look like one already made by the K. Jacques shoe designers – hehe oops! I figured that at the end of the day, I want my sandals to last me YEARS and therefore it has to match with LOTS of outfits. So classic is best for me this time around!

I was a bit nervous that they wouldn’t fit, or the leather might be too stiff and they would cut into my feet, the sole looked really rigid – what would I do? I guess I would just return them?

Thankfully, they arrived at my doorstep and I was totally in love.

They were gorgeous, so so so comfortable and they fit me perfectly (Size 36)!!

Create Your Own K. Jacques Sandals

I absolutely love wearing them and… hehe I’m really careful about where I walk with them.

I want them to last a long time :)

Create Your Own K. Jacques Sandals

I would be completely happy to save up for a dark brown leather pair or a light tan pair now.

Do pop over to have a peek at the K. Jacques St Tropez online store.

Happy shopping!


Girls Trip to Singapore 2015 – Day 2

7 December 2015

A few weeks ago, I headed over to Singapore with some girlfriends for a Girls Only trip (no kids, no husbands!), where we hung out in cafes, boutiques, and just chilled out.

Here’s a run down of what happened on Day 2!

(Read day 1 here)

Singapore Girl's Trip - Day 2

We woke up bright and early and on my friend’s recommendation, we headed over to Tiong Bahru.

It was love at first sight for me. I loved the 1930s streamlined architecture, the textures, the plants, the whitewashed walls, the way that the whole area had been cleaned up and revitalised, mixing old and new.

Only later, I looked up its history and discovered it was one of Singapore’s oldest residential estates, featuring 30 or so pre-war apartment blocks for the upper class — and now the area was one of Singapore’s “hippest and trendiest” cafe and shopping areas.

Singapore Girl's Trip - Day 2

There were so many quirky, hipster cafes and eating places. We settled for fresh pastries and coffee at the Tiong Bahru Bakery.

We bought an apple crumble something, a matcha croissant, and a curry sausage pastry thing.

As you can see, we split our goodies three ways.

Singapore Girl's Trip - Day 2

Most of the cute and quirky boutiques at Tiong Bahru opened at 12pm, so we popped over to check out the Tiong Bahru Markets instead.

It’s been more than 10 years since I’ve been to a wet market in Asia.

I loved the visual chaos, I loved how it was so unpretentious and raw.

I loved that all the Asian uncles and aunties didn’t care how their wares were presented, how they scribbled their prices on little bits of cardboard, how stunning strands of orchids were sitting in dirty plastic buckets!

I was so so so inspired by all that rough, raw, dirty loveliness… but I had no idea what to do with that inspiration, so I just soaked it all up and enjoyed it. And I took a few snaps.

Singapore Girl's Trip - Day 2

Gorgeous bursts of colour.

They almost look fake!

Singapore Girl's Trip - Day 2

Loved the clean, fresh smell of raw seafood.

I wanted to stroke the fish (to feel the freshness), but I don’t think the uncle would’ve liked a random woman touching his fish ha.

Singapore Girl's Trip - Day 2

Chaos! Hundreds of packets of random dried stuff!

 

Singapore Girl's Trip - Day 2

Next we walked over to Books Actually (9 Yong Siak St), a beautiful, artful, independent bookstore with a surprising selection of works.

There were lots of classics, popular modern titles, but I was mostly impressed by the amount of Singaporean authors and emerging writers (stacks of titles!) and the fact that they have their own publishing arm and supported local writers.

Singapore Girl's Trip - Day 2
I found a book that was on my “Classic Stories I Must Read Before I Die” List and promptly bought it, even though it was a little more expensive than if I had bought it online. Happy to support brick and mortar bookstores!

Ok after that, we headed home – mainly because nothing else was open, and we had to get changed for our next engagement.

Singapore Girl's Trip - Day 2

We jumped into a cab and went to the Boutiques Fair at The Pit Building for 12pm.

It’s a huge fair that hosts over 120 designers and independent sellers, all within one air-conditioned space. It features independent fashion labels for women, children, men, homewares, jewellery, bags, toys, art, trinkets and more. The brands and designers are from all over the world, and it’s all very girly.

There was so much good stuff to look at, but I didn’t buy anything.

Why? I don’t buy cutesy/designer/adorable things for my kids; I couldn’t afford $350 French designed earrings; I couldn’t fit bronze-painted concrete pots in my luggage; and I have already have zillions of screen printed t-shirts.

Singapore Catch Silk Shirts

The only thing I wanted to buy was a 100% silk blouse from Catch.Com.sg.

Their silk shirts were freaking AMAZING for the price. I have an Equipment silk shirt and an Isabel Marant silk shirt, which are both eye-waveringly expensive (I bought them on sale though). The Equipment silk is strong and smooth (but not the exquisitely soft type); The Isabel silk is soft and delicate (but possibly too fragile). I think that the quality of the Catch Silk Shirts sit somewhere in between the two. It’s really good.

The shirts are also designed for smaller framed women, so there are lots of XS and XXS sizes.

Unfortunately I didn’t end up buying one, because er, I wanted to buy FIVE blouses – I wanted the navy long sleeve, white short sleeve, black short sleeve, black shirt sleeve with neck tie and navy short sleeve) – and I couldn’t decide which one to get and I didn’t want to make a rushed decision. Plus they sell their shirts online, so I was going to mull over it for a few weeks.

By 3pm my girlfriends had shopped up a storm, but we were keen to move on.

Singapore Girl's Trip - Day 2

We made our way over to The Rose Veranda for high tea buffet at the Shangri-La Hotel.

I’ve never had a high tea buffet before. It was very posh, relaxing and the food was absolutely lovely.

It wasn’t the typical English high tea that I was used to. It was very different, but still yummy! I ate so much salmon sashimi. There was laksa too haha.

It was soooooo nice to sit around on beautiful chairs, nibble on small portions of food, drink amazing teas, talk to my girlfriends… for 3 leisurely hours.

Plus there was no rush to go home to cook dinner, feed and bath kids. Bliss!

Singapore Girl's Trip - Day 2

THEN. After all that sitting and eating, we decided we needed a WALK.

We drove over to Orchard Road and had a looooong, meandering shopping session.

We bought tonnes of presents. It was a successful shopping trip.

The weather was unusually lovely, so we were happy to walk around outside and enjoy the Christmas lights too.

The photo above was taken in Robinsons, my feet were hurting and I needed to sit down again. My girlfriends were troopers though, they blitzed through that department store!

Singapore Girl's Trip - Day 2

As all the shops began to close, we ended up at a food court, craving for something refreshing and sweet.

This ice kachang and chendol were not the best we’ve had, but it hit the spot.

Looking back on our day, it all seemed so indulgent, frivolous and girly… but hey, it doesn’t happen often! This is what we came here to do!

The following day? It was just as full of activity, shopping and eating! It’s kind of amazing what you can fit into a day when you break it up into 3 hour blocks :)


A Wishlist for Christmas and Beyond

24 November 2015

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

Christmas Wishlist 2015

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

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

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

They all cost under $100.

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

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

Christmas Wishlist 2015

A really good set of active wear pieces.

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

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

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

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

xmaswisChristmas Wishlist 2015hlist03

Lightweight Black and White Sneakers

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

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

A most excellent purchase and wardrobe addition!

Christmas Wishlist 2015

Nars Duo Blush and Bronzer (Orgasm and Laguna)

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

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

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

A Luxe SPF50+ Sun Cream

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

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

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

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

Christmas Wishlist 2015

A Simple Silver Bangle

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

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

Christmas Wishlist 2015

Pointed Toe Flats

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

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

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

Christmas Wishlist 2015

Diptyque Candles

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

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

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

Christmas Wishlist 2015

Lightweight Statement Sunglasses

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas Wishlist 2015

And lastly…

My Black Leather Watch

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

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

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

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

xxx


Cupcake and Cake Stand Gift

8 November 2015

Cupcakes For Curi

I had wanted to do this for the longest time!

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

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

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

I’m so happy with how it turned out!

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

 


The Color Run – With Kids and Sparkles

5 November 2015

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

The Color Run 2015

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

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

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

A fun, 5km jog!

That suited me just fine.

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

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

The Color Run 2015

My boys had a LOT of fun!

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

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

The Color Run 2015

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

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

The Color Run 2015

We chilled out on the grass and enjoyed the sunshine.

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

The Color Run 2015

Here’s our obligatory before and after photo.

It was seriously, so much fun!

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


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

27 October 2015

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

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

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

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

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

GENERICS Urban Apothecary, Beauty Survival Kit

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

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

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

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

GENERICS Urban Apothecary, Beauty Survival Kit

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

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

GENERICS Urban Apothecary, Beauty Survival Kit

Cleopatra’s Rose Milk Bath

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

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

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

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

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

The foot soak was AMAZING!

It was immediately calming, relaxing and totally indulgent.

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

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

Hope you enjoyed my photos!

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


Philosophy’s Renewed Hope in a Jar

24 October 2015

Hope in a Jar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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