26 March 2015

The other day I was waiting to pick up my kids from school, sitting in my parked car, when I realised that my head was about to explode, because I had all this shit (stories, half sentences, ideas and thoughts – did you see that? I made an acronym!) swirling around in my head, and if I didn’t write it down, I knew I would forget them.

So I fiddled around with my smart phone and I decided that the quickest way to do this… was to use the dictation function to “write down” some of my sentences.

I’ve never dictated my writings before. I’ve always found it awkward and unnatural.

The idea of dictating my raw, unedited thoughts to another human being… just terrifies me haha!

Anyway, so I pressed RECORD and suddenly… I was speechless.

“Uuuh. Uuuumm. Yeah. Hello? Ok. Right. I shall start: I was going to say… hang on. Is this recording? Yup. OK, as I was trying to say….”

(So awkward right?)

After a while, I got the hang of it.

I spoke, and my smart phone took my speech, turned it into words and automatically typed it out.

It was quite fun! The actual dictation software wasn’t very good though. I’m guessing my Australian accent got lost in some of the translations?

I did a lot of self editing too.

“…blah blah blah. Ugh, no, I didn’t want to say that! What I meant to say was… Blah blah blah. Hang on, back up a bit. Scratch that last thing. Oh my god I sound like an idiot! That was a terrible sentence! Do I even speak English? You know what I mean, don’t you? OK what was I saying again?”

For someone who has spent the last 15 years writing stories online with a personal and casual voice, I didn’t expect to be so terrible at dictating them out loud!

I guess, with everything, it just takes a little practice!


Building a Stylish Waredrobe: Khaki Jacket

25 March 2015

Khaki Jacket + White

I’ve owned a khaki jacket for years. In fact, I have two khaki jackets, which I wear every year when the weather cools down. I pull them out at the start of Autumn, I wear them through Winter and even through Spring.

Khaki jackets usually describe the casual, “parka” style coat.  They look great with a variety of neutral colours (blacks, denims, grey, whites, navy, patterns) so you can throw them over most outfits and it looks pretty fab. They are great value.

Anyway at the end of last winter I tore a hole in one of my jackets, because I was walking too close to a wire fence! I probably could sew it back up (with a patch?) but I’m lazy and not that great with a needle and thread.

So this jacket (in the photo above) is my new replacement jacket from Jeanwest! It fits a whole lot better. It has a nicer “slimming” look, yet I can still wear a shirt + knit jumper underneath, without looking bulky, like an eskimo.

As I’ve said in the past, building a wardrobe with classic, key pieces is a whole lot of fun, especially when I see the results – that is, the ease in which I can put together a relatively stylish outfit and feel great!

I’m wearing: Jacket from Jeanwest, stripe top from Sportsgirl, shorts from Zara, Ray-Bans from SunglassesShop, Converse Chuck Taylor from SurfStitch.

*Psst, don’t forget that you can get 12% off your total order from SunglassesShop, using the code KAREN12 (including sale items)! Valid until 27 March 2015, including free worldwide delivery and no fuss returns.*

Here are a few related shopping deals I’ve found over the interwebs -

Happy shopping!



Two wrongs don’t make a right!

23 March 2015

Nike Sneakers

I needed to buy my boys some new running shoes. So what did I do?

I took ALL THREE KIDS out to the shops with me, of course – what on earth was I thinking?!?!

The result?

Two Right Feet

When we got home, I realised that I had grabbed TWO RIGHT SHOES for Child 1.

For Child 2, we couldn’t find the exact brand/style/colour/size shoe of his liking, so he came away empty handed.

And for Child 3, I had grabbed a box with Size 11 shoes, but inside had Size 10 shoes?


Parent fail. Shopping fail. Whole day wasted.


Ray-Ban Original Wayfarers

20 March 2015

Ray-Ban Wayfarer 2140

I may have found the best place to buy the Original Ray-Ban Wayfarers! It certainly is the best price I’ve seen online so far.

Technically they are called, Ray-Ban 2140 Original Wayfarer, size 50mm (Medium) – AU$156 or US$120.

Other places seem to sell the exact model for AU$200-240.

Sometimes it can be pretty tricky choosing and buying sunglasses online… so here’s a big tip:

I once bought a “Size Small” pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses (with 47mm lens) online, thinking that since I was petite, I should have a small head and face in comparison to everyone else, therefore, I should buy sunglasses in size SMALL right?? Nope. They turned out to be like a child’s sunglasses and looked ridiculous. I had to return them.

So after lots of trail and error, I now know that my sunglasses’ lens size should be around 50mm – 55mm. And this range is the most common sizes for most people’s face.

Ray-Ban Wayfarer 2140

Anyway, the team at Sunglasses Shop (based in the UK) has given me a special discount code for all my readers!

Enjoy 12% off your total order! Including sale items!

Just use the code at the checkout: KAREN12

This code is valid until 27 March 2015. They offer free worldwide delivery and no fuss returns.

This means, if you decide to buy these Wayfarers, it’ll only be AUS$137 (or US$106) all up.

Or you can check out all the other Ray-Ban Wayfarer Designs, including tortoiseshell colours, denim and more.

If Ray-Bans aren’t your style, maybe you’ll find something you like from brands like Celine, Saint Laurent, Mui Mui or Dior.

Oh by the way, here’s another tip if you’re looking for Wayfarer designs. There is a “newer” design called the New Wayfarer 2132, which has a slightly different shape.

Have a fabulous weekend and happy shopping!


Outfit Planning: Marble and Rose

18 March 2015

Keepsake Marble Dress Flatlay

This weekend, we’re celebrating my husband’s birthday, my son’s 6th birthday and I’m also going out for a Hen’s Party!

I’m thinking that I’ll wear my Keepsake Marble Dress again before the weather cool down. It is an open-backed dress after all.

Obviously I won’t wear this to my 6 year old’s party.

And I don’t fancy this dress being splashed with champagne (and who knows what else) at the Hen’s Party.

So might wear it out to dinner with my husband :)

Keepsake dress from Universal Store, Saint Laurent Bold 1 Sunglasses from Vision Direct, rings from Wanderlust + Co, and pretty pink roses from my garden!


Ravioli Parcels

17 March 2015

Ravioli Parcels

As a result of his outrageous, online book shopping habit, my husband received a few books in the mail.

The delivery guy handed them to me, I plonked them onto the kitchen counter… and I noticed that they looked like very large ravioli!

Ha ha! I crack myself up sometimes!


Best Value Japanese Bento in Perth: Kahmon

16 March 2015

For our recent dinner date night, my husband and I decided to do something a little different. Instead of going to a noisy, busy, trendy, hipster restaurant in the city, we felt like trying out a hidden “local gem” for a fabulous, cheap and cheerful meal!

We were told about a little Japanese Take-Away Restaurant that was south of the river, Kahmon in Shelley.

I’ve heard about this place before! A number of people have told me about it; it is quite popular with the locals; it is next to a Chinese noodle lunch bar that sells excellent Nasi Lemak and Chicken Rice; and it’s under new management by people we know!

That was enough for us to pay them a visit.

Kahmon Japanese Take-away, Shelley, Perth

We traveled deep into the suburbs and arrived around 6pm.

Even though it was the size of a take-away shop, the place had an inviting, cozy feel to it. It felt more like a homey cafe. It felt like we went over to our friends’ house for dinner!

There were also proper table and chairs, nice crockery, nice cutlery, woody furniture, stylish cushions, and free green tea!

Kahmon Japanese Take-away, Shelley, Perth

The menu was nice and simple. Bento boxes were priced between $9.50 – $13.50. There was also curry (with rice), udon (noodles), don (rice bowl) and simple side dishes on the menu.

I sat there wondering whether I would be biased about my review of the food, because I know the owners, and I silently prayed that the food would not be terrible and mediocre – omg what would I say to them?

By the time we ordered, there were lots of people coming into the cafe to pick up their takeaway orders. That was a good sign.

There was also another family group who sat down at the table next to us.

Kahmon Japanese Take-away, Shelley, Perth

I ordered the Prawn Katsu Bento Box ($13.50) and Miso Soup ($2), which arrived promptly and without any fuss.

It smelt great. I was so hungry that I wanted to scoff the whole thing down, but I took some time to take some close up photos first.

Kahmon Japanese Take-away, Shelley, Perth

The prawn katsu was delicious!  It was crispy, crunchy, fresh and full of flavour – yay!

The salad was lovely too. They used a mayo dressing in the cabbage instead of the regular tangy dressing and it went well with the crunchy prawns.

I ate everything! Including all the white rice! So naughty of me.

I liked that they served a bit of seasonal fruit with the box. It finished off my palate very nicely.

I can’t believe it was only $13:50!

Kahmon Japanese Take-away, Shelley, Perth

My husband ordered the Chicken Katsu Curry ($11.50). I’m not a fan of Japanese curries, but my husband loves the stuff and he said it was great.

I stole a piece of his chicken katsu – because my weakness is deep fried chicken – and it was very yummy and fresh.

I think someone on the next table ordered Karaage (fried chicken nibbles) and I swore that I’d order that the next time.

Overall, the food was great, menu was simple, the prices were so affordable, the service was friendly, the atmosphere was lovely… it all speaks for itself, so I don’t think I’m being biased. I certainly haven’t been able to find simple and tasty Japanese Bento lunches for this price, which is why I rate it Best Value Japanese Bento in Perth!

Shop 5, 114-116 Barbican St, Shelley

Lunch: Tue – Sat 12pm – 2pm
Dinner: Tue – Thurs 5pm – 8:30pm and Fri – Sun 5pm – 9pm

Kahmon on Urbanspoon


Battlezone Outdoor Laser Tag

15 March 2015

My second boy, Sean turned 10 this week! For his birthday, he wanted to go paintballing with his friends. I replied with a BIG FAT NO!

Instead, I found a place that does outdoor laser tag games for kids in Perth, at a place called Battlezone Laser. It is designed to be safe for 5 to 65 year olds!

No paint, no projectiles, no pain. Just “lasers” and long range sensors built into the guns. The whole experience is supervised; it includes structured battle games; there’s a hotdog and soft drink at the end; and it’s all outdoors.

It sounded pretty good!

I organised 12 boys (all aged around 10) to join the party… and they were all beyond excited!!

Perth Battlezone Outdoor Laser Tag

On the day… we arrived at the venue, got into camouflaged army coveralls and hat, got our face painted and given a briefing.

My husband and I joined in too. I was a bit reluctant. I don’t like guns, or shooting, or war, or combat strategies, or coveralls, or anything military! So when it was time to put on the war paint, I drew love hearts on my face – just to annoy my boys haha.

There were quite a few other party groups there, and everyone was split into TWO big teams.

(They put my husband and I in separate teams, and I was instructed to hunt him down haha!)

Perth Battlezone Outdoor Laser Tag

The briefing went well. The structure, organisation and flow of events was just excellent.

The operators were so down-to-earth, friendly, humourous, and had complete control of the kids. I was impressed!

Perth Battlezone Outdoor Laser Tag

Next up, we had to choose our weapons and strap on our sensors.

Guns? I had no idea which was best. I just picked up a small, lightweight one. But the kids seemed to know all the names and specs of all the big ones, long ones, medium ones and small ones. Whatever.

Perth Battlezone Outdoor Laser Tag

The first game was set on a huge, grassy field. Each team was on either end of the field and the aim was simply to shoot as many players from the other team. There were random objects dotted all over the place; planks, tires, rusty barrels, broken farm equipment, and wooden palates, all great to hide behind.

At first I just found a shady spot and hid. But I got a bit bored… so I decided to just go for a run! Just to see how many kids could hit me. Answer = NONE! *fist pump*

Then I decided to use up my ammo and hunt my husband down. But I couldn’t find him.

The second game was set in a bushy area, with lots of trees and shrubs. I think we had to shoot a VIP player for 100 points. Then there was another game where we had to find hidden codes in the bushland. The kids were absolutely loving it.

Perth Battlezone Outdoor Laser Tag

At one point, during the last game, I was tired. It was hot and I wanted to sit and chill out for a bit.

The game involved all the kids running away from zombies… it was hilarious, thrilling and so much fun for the kids.

But my husband and I found a shady tree, hid and pretended to be zombies by simply shouting -  MUHAHAHAHA we’re zombies and we’re coming to get you!!

Perth Battlezone Outdoor Laser Tag

This was my view from under the shady tree. I spotted a little dragonfly while there were kids and zombies running all around me.

Eventually the siren sounded, indicating the end of the game session. I think we were on the field for 1 hour and a bit.

I initially thought that an hour game-play wouldn’t be enough time for my son and his friends to play (I mean they are all incredibly fit and athletic kids, who play basketball and football). But by the end of it, they were all very tired! They were hungry and thirsty and all very happy to sit down and chill out.

Everyone went back to the base camp, we unloaded our weapons, sensors and got undressed. We lined up patiently for a hotdog and drink, and we sat down at the picnic tables. There was no waiting. Everything was ready to go. I also brought my own chips, dips, cups, and some other party groups brought tablecloths, party plates, and a cake.

We had a debrief, a cheer and that was the end of the party! It was awesome!

For us, we piled back into 3 cars and everyone came back to our place for a swim and ice cream cake.

Best bits:
The flow of events were very simple and organised. The base camp was decorated well and had a very charming, helter-skelter feel to it. There was a very relaxed, fun and exciting atmosphere. The staff were super friendly and helpful. The kids (especially the boys) just loved the action and games. Great price per head. The length of time for briefing, game play, eating and debriefing was perfect. We didn’t feel rushed nor did it stretch on for too long.

Kid’s Feedback:
On the way home, we interviewed all the kids to ask them what they thought of the experience. They all rated it 8/10 or 9/10 or 10/10. But they all mentioned that the guns were a bit difficult to understand some times and they didn’t know whether they hit someone. There were 2 read outs, which were simple enough – one for lives left and one for ammunition. But sometimes the guns would bleep at us, or flash numbers – and we just had to go back to the team leader to try and understand it. Maybe some stickers stuck to the back of the gun might help?

Mum Feedback:
When we assembled on the playing field – about to start, with weapons in hand – the staff took photos of the whole group (all party groups), and individual photos of the birthday kids. They also took photos of lots of kids in action, which were then uploaded into a private gallery and viewable online, with a password and username. These were fantastic! However, I didn’t get a photo of just my son, with all his friends, dressed up together in their coveralls. I should have assembled them together and taken the photo at the base camp, after getting dressed (before splitting into groups and before the briefing began). Just a tip for the mums!

Being a mum of 3 boys, I am constantly looking for cool birthday party ideas. I have done indoor playground parties, gymnastic parties, trampoline parties, rollersakting parties, pool parties, swimming centre and water slide parties, and indoor laser tag parties.

As my kids grow older and reaching the pre-teen age group, I reckon that this outdoor laser tag is definitely a winner!

Thanks for having us Battlezone!



Checked Love with L’America

12 March 2015

L'America Checked Dress

Look at me!

I know!

I look sooooo “street style” in this photo – I might even pass off as a real fashion blogger! Take note of the urban background, the cropped-off face, and the contained, nonchalant pose ;)

I admit, it’s not quite me.

L'America Checked Dress

Ah this is a bit more familiar: me, back at home, being goofy in front of my studio mirror haha!

Anyway, I bought this L’America gingham dress from David Jones a few weeks ago. L’America is the cool, street wear, sister brand of cult Aussie label, Ellery.

The dress was on clearance sale and had a further 25% off the original 50% off. Or something like that. I think I ended up paying $35 for it? It was originally $150. I can’t seem to find a link to it online, I’m guessing that it was from their last season’s collection. (Oh here it is. But it’s out of stock.)

I stood in the changing room, wearing the dress, thinking: Why is this size 6 on clearance sale? What is wrong with it? There must be something very odd about it, which is why they can’t sell it.

But I absolutely loved it! It was so cool and so cute! Summer style (tick!), off-shoulder (tick!), black and white (tick!), flippy skirt (tick!), short and mini length that’s good for me (tick!). For $35, I couldn’t really go wrong.

Now that I think about it… I have quite a few clothing items with checked patterns. And I’m surprised by how timeless they are. I mean, I have been wearing my checked shirts (red+black shirt and white+black shirt) for years. That must be a good sign.

I put together a whole heap of checked love for you to browse. Hope you find something you like!



Flatlay Food Art

10 March 2015

Flatlay Breakfast

If you follow me on Instagram (@karenlycheng) you might have seen a few of my food flatlays.

This birds-eye view photographic style on a white background works for me, because it’s so simple and quick for me to do!

When I cook, I already have all this stuff cluttering my benchtop, my pantry and my cooktop… so I just plonk my white board onto the floor (right at the foot of my kitchen counter), arrange all the bits and pieces around and take a snap.

It’s like painting on a canvas! I make a huge mess! It’s so much fun!

Flatlay Crumb Chicken

This was my lunch one afternoon. Crumbed chicken breast with some salad and almonds.

Flatlay Crumb Chicken

And this is what the mess looked like from a wider angle! Open packets, containers, lids… all over the floor!

Flatlay Anzac Slice

I recently shared an Anzac Slice Recipe for School Lunchboxes on my blog… and this is the slice, 10 minutes fresh from the oven.

I also arranged other bits and pieces that I was about to pack into my children’s lunchboxes. It was 7am and my kids thought I was quite weird.

They said stuff like, “Are you putting all that food on the floor? Then you’re going to put it in our lunchbox??” But I just ignored them because I was having fun and I was in my creative zone yo.

Flatlay Plum Crumble

And this is the Maple Plum Crumble that I made the other week.

It was early in the evening and there was a slight shadow on the left side of the photo, so I grabbed another white board and propped it against a chair to bounce a bit more light onto the objects.

This may not be “true painting” but it certainly satisfies my spontaneous creative itch – which makes me insanely happy!

Do follow me at @karenlycheng to see some of my other recent food art ;)



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