Our Big, Wobbly, Blue Thing

28 January 2015

When we bought our house (many years ago), there was a swimming pool in the backyard.

While it’s quite common to find pools in suburban backyards in Australia, this pool was really old (and ugly) and it was not very well looked after by the previous owners. So we would have needed to spend something like $7,000 – $10,000 to refurbish and fix it.

The pool was also right smack bang in the middle of the backyard; it was all fenced up and it pretty much took up the WHOLE backyard. There was no where for our kids to run around or play.

Added to that, both my husband and I have lived in homes with swimming pools and we knew the time and cost associated with keeping a pool. AND for 7-8 months of the year in Perth, the weather gets a little too cold for swimming, which means we have to look after the pool even though we’re not swimming in it for most of the year.

So basically, after long deliberation… my husband and I decided to get rid of the pool.

Fast forward to the present… boy do we we regret that decision!

Ok we don’t REGRET-regret it. We just feel a little annoyed every time we have to pay $22.40 for our whole family to visit the local swimming pool.

I suppose swimming at the beach and river is FREE. But trips to the beach or river is usually a 3-4 hour day trip, plus money spent on lunch/coffee/ice creams. Which is fine, really. If we want to save money, we just have to be more organised to pack a healthy lunch and snacks. However, it’s a little trickier to organise a QUICK swim at the beach during the school term. And it’s a bit annoying when you make all that effort to go to the beach and the kids only spend 30 minutes in the water.

Oh my god! Listen to me whinge and complain about my first world problems!

I should have just started this post with – LOOK AT OUR NEW POOL!

Paddel Pool

We got an above ground pool, which is about 5m x 5m round! It’s huge!

My husband and I – having grown up with REAL swimming pools – did not think very highly of above ground pools. (Because ahem, they looked like oversized paddle pools for toddlers!)

Nonetheless, we set it up under our patio (in the shade), filled it to a depth of 60cm, and we put a special pool cover over it so we can get the temperature to stay at a gorgeous 28C – 30C.

IT IS AMAAAZING! The kids are in and out of the pool 3 or 4 times a day. They can invite their friends over and they ALL play happily for hours. They are so happy. I AM SO HAPPY.

My 5 year old, who, before Christmas was terrified of putting his head underwater and used to wrap his arms around my neck like a scared koala whenever he was in water, is now a confident swimmer who happily duck dives for coins off the bottom of the pool! He made ALL that progress in 2 weeks!

Paddle Pool

And of course I had to take a selfie of myself in the pool! Wayhey!

Yes I’m still wearing my day makeup and earrings, and everything looks very nice and peaceful in the setting sun. But I should have turned the camera around and taken a photo of my kids… who were standing on the other side of the camera aiming their water pistols at me!!

I made a deal with them; if they let me take a few photos, and I put the camera away safely without getting it wet, then they could make a whirlpool and squirt me with their water guns :P


 

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad

26 January 2015

I made a Vietnamese-style rice noodle salad for an Australia Day BBQ with friends! Nothing says Australia Day like a table full of cuisines spanning from all over the globe!

Australia Day 2014

I served the salad with crushed peanuts on the side, as I wasn’t sure if there were kids at the party with nut allergies. I also left out the chilli because I wanted it to be kid-friendly.

There is a LOT of slicing with this recipe!

In fact, there is so much slicing that I wouldn’t have made this salad if I did not have my julienne peelers.

My julienne peelers look like simple potato peelers, and they cut vegetables into fine matchsticks at a quick swipe of my wrist! I don’t think my salad would have looked the same if I had “finely sliced them into matchsticks” with a knife. I don’t have enough patience!

I bought my peelers in Asia (3 different sizes at $3 each). Unfortunately I can’t find any Australian stockists of julienne peelers… so I found these similar Titan Peelers (from the US) which ship to Australia for free – you might have to wait a few weeks for the delivery though! Same goes for these Zyliss Julienne Peelers or Tovolo Julienne Peelers.

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad

Dressing
1/4 cup of lime juice
1/4 cup of fish sauce
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons of ginger, grated
2 teaspoons of finely chopped chilli

250gm of rice noodle, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes, drained
1 large cucumber, remove seeds, finely sliced
1 medium carrot, finely sliced
1/4 of a small white cabbage, finely sliced
1/4 of small lettuce, finely sliced
1/4 of small red onion, finely sliced
big bunch of coriander, pluck leaves and chop roughly
1/2 cup of mint, chopped roughly
3 cups of bean sprouts
1/4 cup unsalted peanuts, roasted, chopped roughly
1/2 cup of Asian fried shallots

1. Mix dressing ingredients together.

2. Toss all the noodle ingredients and vegetables in a very large bowl. Keep aside a small bunch of coriander and mint for garnish. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss thoroughly.

3. Place noodle salad in a nice serving dish. Scatter garnish, fried onions, crushed peanuts on top and serve!

Enjoy!

xxx

 


 

Hello Parry and Isabel Marant

23 January 2015

Hello Parry and Isabel Marant

I’m so pleased to introduce this online boutique to all my lovely readers!

Hello Parry is an online fashion store featuring some great new styles, with a stylish, understated, cool vibe – which I like a lot!

The store is based in Australia, and they have easy domestic shipping rates and fuss-free, flat-rate International shipping.

Things I like about the shop:

1) Quality for Price

The first question that came to mind was, why would I shop here instead of ASOS, Zalora, or an Asian-based blogshop… where you can buy similar looking dresses for $45 and skirts for $25. Well after checking out a whole stack of Hello Parry clothes, I can say that the quality is FAR better than something you’d buy from those other stores.

The quality matches that of global high street brands like Zara, French Connection and Topshop (sometimes better); but unlike those brands, you don’t have to worry that everyone else will be wearing the same thing as you!

2) I like the styles

Hello Parry stocks a nice range of ‘classic pieces’ with an edge. I like that the styles are ‘young and edgy looking’ but they also are suitable for a bit of grown up, lady-like dressing!

3) I love this top (pictured)!

This sleeveless Obira Layer Top comes in black and white. I wasn’t too sure about it at first, but after wearing it a few times, I’ve decided that it’s fabulous!

The sleeve design comes away from the shoulders, like a racer-back top style, so it looks modern, sleek and sexy. It is slightly textured and a bit like a shell top for office wear (it has similar material to a blazer) so it looks smart, polished and stylish. It also has a bit of structure to it and it keeps its shape, so it is not clingy.

It’s a bit cropped, so if I don’t want to flash my belly button, I just wear something high-waisted with them.

Hello Parry and Isabel Marant

I’ve already worn the top a couple of times so far, and this particular day I wore it to a meeting in the city.

I paired it with a new “investment piece” – this Isabel Marant Ponte Mini Skirt from The Outnet.

Shoes are Senso Rhiannon from The Iconic.

Saint Laurent Bold 1 Sunglasses from Vision Direct

Chain quilted bag from YesStyle.

I have a few more posts about Hello Parry goodies, so stay tuned!

Happy shopping xxx

 


 

Beachin’ and Loving Life

22 January 2015

Karen and Liam at Coogee Beach, WA

Life has been pretty damn good lately!

We’ve been hanging out at the beach a lot. We usually organise to go with 5 or 6 families from school.

Happy kids, of all ages. Laughter, smiling and playing wonderfully. Beach cricket. Beach soccer. Body boards. Sandcastles. Watermelon. Berries. Sandy beach towels. Chips and dips.

I’m a big believer that a simple life, family and friends, and a sense of community… is the answer to happiness, gratefulness, contentment and success.

I love that all this is around me and I’m living some of the happiest days of my life!

Wishing you all an amazing day!

 


 

The Pointed Toe Loafer

21 January 2015

I have been looking everywhere for a pair of nicely-shaped, slightly pointed-toe, man-style loafers; and the pairs that I had my eyes one were these or these.

Unfortunately, they were a bit outside my price range – because I wasn’t entirely convinced that they would even suit me or my style. They looked gorgeously stylish, they looked amazing on other people, they are “on trend”… but that was not enough of a reason for me to drop $200 on them.

Anyway, I stumbled across these…

Boohoo Loafers

They are lovely! And they were only $30!!

I got them from Boohoo and for THAT price I didn’t really stop to consider whether it was worth the risk. For that price, I expected them to be cheap, stiff, plasticky shoes that dug into my ankles as I walked.

But no! They are lovely, soft, and quite breathable (ie. my feet don’t get sweaty and stinky in them). Even though they aren’t leather, they are nicely cushioned and comfy to wear. Even the stitching, the joins and the glued edges are nice.

Since buying them they have sold out online. They are called Lucy Loafers, so keep an eye out for them, as they might get restocked again.

They have been replaced by the Zoe Bow Trim Loafers ($40) or the Ella Chain Trim Loafers ($40) also from Boohoo.

I’ll try my new Lucy Loafers for a while… and if I think I might wear them for 4-5 seasons, then I might splurge on a leather pair after all!

Here are a few other designs that I found, prices range from $45 – $145.

Happy shopping!

xxx


 

Sticky Date Pudding Recipe

19 January 2015

Stick Date Pudding

This sticky date pudding is an euphoric, eyes-roll-to-the-back-of-your-head-delicious indulgence :)

I have been using this recipe for the last 10 years and it’s an absolute winner every time. It’s so simple to make too.

I haven’t made it the last few year though, because the recipe asks for a lot of sugar, and I’ve been trying to cut back on making super-sweet desserts for my family. However last week I pulled out the recipe from my archives and made it with NO ADDED SUGAR.

It still tasted delicious! Especially when we ate it, hot, with a *small* dollop of ice cream.

I’m not sure where the original recipe came from, as I scribbled it down many years ago.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Sticky Date Pudding

200g chopped pitted dates
1 1/4 cups of water
1 teaspoons of bicarb soda
60g butter
3/4 cup of castor sugar (or use none at all!)
2 eggs
1 cup of self raising flour

Caramel Sauce
100g brown sugar/maple syrup/honey/rice malt syrup (or use none at all!)
100g butter
1 cup of cream

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Combine dates and water in a medium sized saucepan, bring to boil, remove from heat, stir in the bicarb soda and stand for 5 minutes.

2. Add butter (and sugar, if you’re using it) to the date mixture and stir it until the butter has melted. Blend/process until smooth (I use a hand blender). Leave the mixture to cool for 10 minutes.

3. While waiting for date mixture to cool, grease a 20cm round cake tin and line with greaseproof paper.

4. Beat the eggs into the date mixture, one at a time. Then fold in the sifted flour. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 50 minutes.

5. While waiting for pudding to bake, make the caramel sauce by gently heat the butter and cream (and sugar, if you’re using it), without boiling, and stir for 3 minutes.

6. After 50 minutes, take the pudding out and pour 1/2 the caramel sauce all over the top and put the pudding back into the oven for 10 minutes.

7. Serve the pudding – warm – with the remaining sauce and ice cream!

* I make the whole mixture in the large saucepan. No need to transfer into a mixing bowl – it saves washing up!

* One time I made this sticky date pudding with no added sugar, but smeared a 2 tablespoons of maple syrup over the top as a sweet glaze. I found that it was just enough to add a lovely sweet-stickiness to the pudding.

* By the way, dried dates (even the organic types) are 68% sugar. Even though it’s a natural sugar, that’s still a huge amount. So if you’re trying to cut back on sugar, maybe you should make yourself a banana bread?


 

Black White Grey Kinda Day

18 January 2015

Black White Grey Kinda Day

Black, white, grey. Easy, simple, but still a bit smart. This is what my days have been like lately: Juggling the school holidays, my 3 kids, and a bit of blog work on the side.

I recently picked out this Olivia top from Club Couture, and I just adore it!

Black White Grey Kinda Day

It’s a kind of structured crop top, with a boxy shape that… keeps it’s shape. This makes the top a bit different to all the jersey, white, slouchy tees that I own, which is a good thing!

Black White Grey Kinda Day

I like the ‘crop top trend’ that is popular this season, but sometimes I don’t feel like wearing a top that is TOO CROPPED.

So this is a happy in-between length for me; not too short, not too long.

I’m wearing the top with a skirt by Naning9, trio bag from Witchery, necklace from Pigeonhole, Alexander Wang heels from Forward.

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

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


 

My Summer Workout!

15 January 2015

My Summer Fitness Workout 01

For my 25 Day Fitness Challenge in December, this was the workout routine that I frequently used.

I compiled the workout from several lists that were passed around instagram; it seemed that people were tweaking the list slightly (to suit themselves) and sharing it with others. So yep, I took the liberty to tweak it myself too, swapping some exercises with ones that I prefer to do.

This workout really gets my heart rate up!

My arms, legs, back and core feel amazing! My whole body feels tighter, stronger, and leaner for doing them.

At first I started off doing HALF the amounts.

But since I’ve been doing them for 3 weeks, I can I do them all, 3 times, no problem. I do them every day or every second day now.

My kids love to join in too – which is annoying because I have to wait for them to keep up, but it’s also kind of cool because I feel that I’m passing down some good habits for their future.

Feel free to save the image to your phone and refer to it any time you have a spare moment (which is how I first got started with it!).

You can follow me on instagram and grab the photo from there to – @karenlycheng

Enjoy!

xxx


 

Gladiator Sandals

12 January 2015

Gladiator Lace up sandals

I was talking to a friend of mine about Senso sandals (specifically, my new ones in this post), and *alas* how we want to own ALL the Senso shoes, but we can’t afford them!

It prompted me to hunt around for similar looking sandal designs and – yay – I found a few by Atmos&here (in leather)!

Here are the links!

Leopard print leather sandals ($79.95)

Black leather sandals ($79.95)

White leather sandals ($79.95)

Hope you like them! Happy shopping!


 

Off the Shoulder

9 January 2015

Off the Shoulder

Off the shoulder tops have become extremely popular again these days.

I used to own 2 of them (about 10 years ago) and um, I was once told that I had “nice collarbones” (??)… so I liked that these tops could show off my collarbones!

But the elastic of my old tops have since disintegrated, so I thought I’d buy a mid-priced, new one and relive my collarbone baring days.

That was back in September! I have been looking for a nice, mid-priced one since then. I didn’t want a cheap, flimsy one, so I expected that I had to pay around $60-$80. It had to be plain (not embellished) but not too plain. I had to be long (not too cropped) but not too long that it fell like a tunic. I didn’t like too much lace either.

Anyway, I bought this off-the-shoulder top from The Iconic, but it cost $120 and the fabric was not fantastic. The seam of the elastic wasn’t great either. It just felt and looked like a $30 garment. It wasn’t worth the price, so I returned it.

Then I bought another one from ASOS and returned it too. I looked through lots boutiques and the malls, but they were all so overpriced (like $90 -$150)!

It was only last week that I found this one from Sportsgirl for $69.95.

Off the Shoulder
I wore it out on Thursday night, for a girl’s night out… and I just adored it.

It was actually quite annoying to wear! The elastic that goes around my arms restricted my arm movements. So whenever I went to give someone a HELLO hug, the elastic sprung up to the top of my shoulders and I had to keep pulling them down back onto my arms haha. Such a pain! But it looked so cute!

I’m also wearing Acne Studio jeans, Senso heels, Witchery handbag, Shopbop earrings.

Here are some other places I found some off the shoulder tops.


Happy shopping!


 

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