What I Wore: Silk Wrap Blouse

16 July 2018

Grana Silk

Before setting off on holiday, I had a number of client meetings where I couldn’t simply wear the old “jeans and a tee” combo.

Had to look a bit grown up and professional yo!

Anyway, I found the perfect top for the task.

This Grana Silk Wrap Front Blouse is just beautiful and in the league of “nice fancy tops” to wear out for day to night.

The style is simple, but I believe I could dress it up to the max for an evening party too.

Grana Silk

It’s a very lightweight silk, suited to warm weather, with a lovely drape and silhouette.

It’s super versatile too –  great to wear with any kind of pants or skirt. The style notes suggest you can wear the top tucked or untucked, but I prefer it tucked in, and bellowing at the waist and wrists.

The very unique cross-over wrap front has a fold at the bottom hem, which when left untucked, is a bit exposed for me. As there is only ONE button that closes the wrapped bit, and can show off your bra and belly.

You might have to peek at the product page to get more of an idea. But when it is tucked in, it is fine!

Grana Silk

I’m wearing the size XXS and it fits perfectly at the shoulders, arm length and chest. I’m usually a size AUS/UK 6.

It fits and drapes so well, that it instantly looks smart and polished – which is what I love about it.

Definitely a keeper!

Discount Code

If you’re keen to give it a go, do use my special code “karenxgrana” at the checkout to receive 10% off and free shipping. Unfortunately, it is only for new customers.

Also wearing Lovers and Friends skirt, Aquazzura heels, and Mansur Gavriel Bucket Bag.


How Reading Enhanced My Travel Experience

13 July 2018

Karen at Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

4 months before we visited Istanbul, I started reading history books and listening to history podcasts about Istanbul. I wanted to read a fiction novel too, but I ran out of time.

I had heard that reading a novel set in a city, before you went to the city, was thing.

I never quite understood how reading could enhance my travel experience… but I get it now!

I read about all the significant Emperors of Byzantine/Constantinople/Istanbul (from 300 BC!) their career highlights and low lights, their life story, their wives and children, the current state of the city, the mood of the people, their political alliances, why they decided to spend money in a certain way and build certain buildings…

Then to actually SEE those buildings, their remnants, the city and the streets in which they walked… it made me feel like I was visiting old crazy friends and seeing their handiwork.

It made me feel like a time traveller and a possessor of secrets.

It added so much depth to everything I saw.

I absolutely loved how all the places I visited was brought to life by the stuff floating around in my head and heart.

I felt connected, empathic, humble, small. I felt like a little speck in the timeline of life.

And I had sooo many pinch-me moments and spine-tingling moments that went well beyond “wow that’s so pretty”.

I’ll definitely be doing this again the next time we travel to a new city.

(My next travel wishlist is Italy and Greece!)

Here’s t a lot more reading and travelling soon!


Acne Studios Musubi Mini Bag

3 July 2018

Acne Studios Bag

YES it’s my birthday month!

I’m currently away on holiday, but before I left, as a bit of a splurgy birthday gift to myself, I picked out this gorgeous Musubi Mini Bag by Acne Studios via Shopbop.

I love that it’s a bit different and sleek with clean and minimal lines.

I also loooove the twisted knot detail, inspired by the traditional Japanese obi sash.

In fact the name itself, “musubi” means decorative knot and there are hundreds of obi knot styles out there. I tried to find the exact name of the knot used in this bag, but I couldn’t work it out. It does however, look similar to a martial art obi knot (which is a more basic/functional knot, rather than decorative, thus a bit cheeky for the designers to use), but hey I could be wrong.

Acne Studios Bag

I love how the designers use the smooth leather to create a soft, folded structure (that looks like cloth) for the handbag.

I also like using the top handle, so it can look like a bucket bag.

The large shoulder straps (which are removable) make it feel like a sturdy satchel bag, but it’s super light overall.

Karen and Acne Studios Musubi Mini Bag

It’s a great small size for me – not mini at all.

It’s dimensions are height 22cm x length 16cm x depth 16cm.

It fits my purse, phone, beauty pouch, keys and even a small book or compact camera. The leather is strong and stiff enough to hold the weight of all my stuff, without buckling or warping the shape of the bag.

I’m a big fan of Acne Studios and their minimal style, so it’s a complete win for me.

This mini black version is currently all sold out and hopefully is restocked soon. There is a Red Mini Musubi available here, and the regular size version Black Musubi Bag or Tan Musubi Bag.

(Or you could pop over to Acne Studios online to check out the whole Musubi range.)



Hi from Istanbul!

1 July 2018

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Hi everyone!

After months of planning, my husband and I dragged our kids across the globe to visit Istanbul!

I was so nervous at first. We were set to arrive on the day of the Turkey’s national elections; Australia had released a “Please reconsider your reasons for going to Istanbul” warning, and after reading about all the news reports, past riots and unrest in the area… aaah, I had such a big sense of dread and regret. Buuut you can’t live life afraid of all the what ifs.

So once my husband and I got over that… we were SOOOOO excited about going. Our kids? Not so much, as they knew nothing about the city.

Lots of people asked, why Istanbul?

Both my husband and I have always wanted to go see the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.

I learned about Iznik ceramic tiles from the Ottoman Empire when I was in art school. And my husband has been interested in military history since he was a youth.

We both knew the city was full of history and culture, and that it was a little different to the other destinations in Europe.

I actually thought we would visit when we were old and retired. I wasn’t planning to take the kids along! But we just thought, Oh what the heck, let’s go!

An Extra Special Trip

This holiday is also a special birthday present for me… because I’m celebrating my big 40 this month! Woohoo!

Wow doesn’t time fly?! I remember celebrating my 30th not long ago.

Anyway, we’re spending some time in Istanbul, then heading over to Edinburgh, Scotland and the West Coast of Scotland (where my husband’s family is from).

Will be sharing heaps of updates soon!



Review: Everlane Silk Shirt

30 June 2018

Everlane Silk Shirt Review

I first heard of Everlane yeeeears ago, when everyone was raving about the Everlane Silk Shirts and how amazing and affordable they were.

But I never bought one back then, because of their crazy shipping fee to Australia (years ago it was something like $30-$40, I’m not exactly sure anymore).

Over the years, they have reduced their international shipping fee and NOW they offer a Flat Rate of US$15 to Australia.

I know Everlane occasionally offers up free international shipping, so I waited until a promo came around and finally purchased two items!

This post isn’t sponsored or gifted by Everlane. I purchased these items on my own, because I found a gap in my wardrobe and I was curious to check out their quality.

PLUS I wanted to support a fashion brand that focused on transparent and ethical processes. I read up about all their factories around the world, it’s really interesting!

I figured that… the more I spend on these transparent brands, and less on those that are not transparent, the better.

Everlane Silk Shirt Review

My Silk Review

I’m no textile expert. I have no idea about thread count, or how to compare silk weight or weave.

I just own a lot of silk shirts haha! I own 3 Equipment Silk Shirts, 1 Isabel Marant Silk Shirt, a few silk tops by Tibi… and lots of silk items from high street brands… and so I have just a solid opinion on which silk I prefer most.

I’ve read heaps of online reviews about comparing Grana vs. Everlane vs. Equipment Silk Shirts but really, in the end, I believe it comes down to your own personal preference and what kind of silk YOU like to feel and wear.

For me, I don’t really like silk with a slippery satiny feel, because to me, the fabric looks and feels like satin or polyester. And it reminds me of tops I could buy from Zara or Witchery. But I’ve found that this satiny kind of silk is a bit more crinkle resistant.

Grana silk shirts have a more velvety crepe kind of feel. My Isabel Marant silk shirt is also velvety, but much more sheer and delicate.

My Equipment and Tibi silk shirts are somewhere in between satiny and velvety.

And my preference is somewhere in between, but tending towards more the velvety feel.

What Do I Think of Everlane’s Silk?

I’d say that Everlane is more of the slippery, shiny kind of silk (almost no velvety feel), but it feels thick and strong, and has a kind of matte finish, so it’s quite nice.

When I rub the fabric between my fingers, it feels like a quality garment. So so soooo much better than high street stores. The cut and craftsmanship is there.

The inside stitching looks really good, the seams and edges don’t buckle. It’s great quality!

I did find two loose threads, one at the armpit and one at the cuff, but when I gave them a tug, they came away and no stitching came apart.

It was pretty creased up when I took it out of the packet. I had to give it a low/medium iron with lots of steam, which took me ages! The shirt seemed to handled the iron just fine, which is so good!

How’s the FIT?

I bought “The Relaxed Silk Shirt” in Size 00.

I’m usually a AU6 or UK6. I’m 160cm and I weigh 46kg.

The fit was absolutely perfect! Perfect across the shoulders and back. Comfortable around the chest, waist and hips. Brilliant length for body and arms. And cuffs were perfect too. I’m super happy!

How’s the STYLE?

Grana silk shirts have hidden buttons (which I don’t like) and no chest pockets.

Equipment shirts have exposed buttons and chest pockets and pocket flaps – nice style, but a bit safari looking maybe.

Everlane has exposed buttons and no chest pockets – I really like this combo!

I think I like the style of this Everlane shirt more than my Equipment Signature shirt. It’s just a bit more minimal. And it depends on my mood :)

Maybe because this is a pinstripe shirt, and maybe if I were to wear a plain coloured Everlane silk shirt, I’d feel that the style was a bit too plain?

Overall opinion?

Overall, I really like this shirt. I’m absolutely delighted that you can get such a great style of silk shirt in a high quality, with excellent wearability, for such a good price.

Except for the two loose threads I found, I can’t really fault this shirt!

I’m dying to get it in more colours now!

Unfortunately, I don’t have a discount code to share with you all.

I do have this referal link to the Everlane Website, and if you like my review and buy from them, I get a bit of credit put into my account. But no worries if you don’t use it!


Finished Reading: Ghost Empire by Richard Fidler

28 June 2018

Ghost Empire by Richard Fidler

One thing I love about my husband is that he is a fast reader. This means, I can pass him a book and say, “Please read this. I want to talk to someone about it”.

So we are our own little book club!

The two of us, snuggled on a couch on a Friday night, bitching about character development, writing style and plot arches haha!

While I read my last book, Istanbul by Bettany Hughes (I wrote about it here), my husband read this other book about Istanbul/Constantinople: Ghost Empire by Richard Fidler.

Then we swapped. But of course, he finished his book much faster than I did.

Richard Fidler is a well known Australian radio presenter, podcast interviewer and writer, with an interest in Istanbul starting since he was a teenager.

Richard goes on a journey with his teenage son to Istanbul and tells many, MANY fascinating stories about the city and it’s history.

But it’s not a typical historic book.

It is an easy-to-read, well-written, quick-to-digest run down about the BIG events surrounding Istanbul/Constantinople.

Personally, I found it jumped around a lot and it wasn’t linear, which annoyed me.

But overall, it was a great read and I really enjoyed the way he brought the stories to life.

No joke, it was like a real life Game of Thrones.


Hard Gel Nails from Glamour Nail Bar

23 June 2018

Glamour Nail Bar

Before: Eeek I’m a bit embarrassed to share this haha! But hey this is real life for me.

These are my 4 week old shellac nails. I’m impressed the shellac even lasted 4 weeks. Usually they peel/lift off after 2 weeks, but they were starting to crack and one had lifted off the day before. My nails are so brittle and damaged from the shellac process, I really hate the cycle I’m stuck in, but I keep doing it because at least it gives me nice nails for 2 weeks.

I’ve never been to a high-end nail salon before. I’ve only ever been to cheap and cheerful shopping centre nail shops, where the ladies don’t speak any English.

Glamour Nail Bar

After: And this is me, after having Hard Gel Nails done at Glamour Nail Bar. I looooove them!

The results and whole experience was frankly AMAZING!

The nail technicians from Glamour Nail Bar are true professionals. They really care for your nail and shape each nail to utter perfection. They don’t just slap on the polish, throw you under the lamp and kick you out after your 30 minute time slot. Yes it’s a bit more expensive, but like everything in life, you get what you pay for.

They share expert advice, nail care, nail tips and explanations about nails treatments and process. I was even able to ask tricky questions and I learned so much about nail stuff. I’ve never had that before!

This nail service was kindly gifted to me in exchange for some social media posts, I wasn’t required to write a blog post about the process, but I got so many direct messages about it, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned.

How are Hard Gel Nails different to Shellac Gel Nails?

Read the rest of this entry »


Finished Reading: Istanbul, A Tale of Three Cities

21 June 2018

Istanbul, A Tale of Three Cities

In preparation for our trip to Istanbul, I bought this book, Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities by Bettany Hughes, purely because of its raving reviews.

I didn’t know it was a historical BIOGRAPHY (oops, not a love story then!), and I didn’t realise the author was a famous historical tv host!

The book was pretty much a historical text book, but told in a conversational kind of way, and the author used big /academic words I had never heard before, like – Phagocyte, Demotic, Stultify, Encomia, Ebulliently (I wrote them down because I thought they were hilarious).

What did I think of the book?

I loved it!! It started in 80,000 BC and covered everything until the 1940s, focusing on the events of Byzantium/Constantinople/Istanbul.

So I feel like I have travelled through time, through the whole history of the world and emerged with a new perspective of the world and life. It was very cool.

Things that struck me:

– There was So. Much. Killing. So much politics, so many wars, mass slaughter, murder, assassinations, beheadings, eye-gouging, mutilations, rape, slavery. It was horrific!

– The history of Christianity and Islam was fascinating .

– Omg people died so young back then.

– Interesting to read about all the horrible stuff happening to society back then and realising that not much has changed, especially when it comes to crazy people in power, and perhaps while we might believe that the world is completely insane right now, compared to the shit that happened in the past, we are living in glorious and blessed times indeed.

Anyway, I’m officially obsessed with the history of Rome!

I’ve since read another historical non-fiction novel, and I’m currently addicted to listening to historical podcasts about Rome and Byzantium. I find them weirdly meditative :)


What I Wore: Pink Coat + Red Shoes

18 June 2018

Pink and Red

Hi everyone!

Are you a fan of pink? I like blush/nude/dusty rose. But I’ve never worn much of this “Baby Pink”, as I find the colour much too cute/pretty/feminine/Barbie/Hello Kitty… but hey look at me now!

I bought this coat from Zara when I was in London last year. It was on clearance sale (I think it was $50) and it was a size too big. How’s that for unnecessary, impulse, holiday shopping?

It’s not so much of a coat, as it’s not lined. It’s totally shapeless and baggy in all the wrong places. It’s more of a felt blanket with sleeves and buttons… but hey, it’s extra snuggly.

I thought I would totally regret the purchase, but it turns out I have been loving it!

I’ve found that it works with monochrome outfits, with an additional colour, such as a denim blue shirt, or in this case, bright red shoes.

I can’t seem to find anything online that’s similar.

Unless you count this lovely Helmet Lang Pink Coat, which is similar, but it’s a gazillion dollars and much more Barbie.

Or this ASOS Pink Wool Coat with a leopard print collar.

With pastel candy colours being on trend this season, I think a pink coat has been an awesome addition to my wardrobe.

I’m also wearing:

Heart Breaker Pumps from Shopbop (Red colour is sold out) I love these so much I want a pair in black!

Alexander Wang Roxy Hobo Handbag from Shopbop (also sold out) hopefully more stock will be coming in soon, as I waited for ages for it to be restocked twice!

Star Button Down Shirt, mine is a Korean brand, based on the original design of this Equipment shirt. But I’ve found that it’s cheaper to buy an Equipment shirt from Revolve (with free shipping) or secondhand from eBay.

Have a fantastic week!



Today was a great day!

16 June 2018

Teenagers can be surprisingly fun sometimes.

It’s rare.

But when it happens, it’s pretty magical.

The other night. I was in the SAME ROOM as my 15, 13 and 9 year old boys.

I was rolling sushi with one boy. We were watching youTube videos to see how to get the correct rolling technique, but the guy doing the video tutorial looked like an American cowboy? So we all starting talking like cowboys while rolling sushi?

Music was blasting through the house because another boy was “educating us” with his elite R&B playlist and we were all trying to sing (which involved rapping very badly, trying not to say the “N” word and lots of laughing).

Another boy was trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube, following instructions that he printed off earlier, eating all the sushi scraps and counting all the swear words in the rap songs.

We were chatting, rapping, eating, talking about random things… they were also teaching me Fortnite dances (omg hilarious).

Aaaand there were no fights, no bickering, no rude/sarcastic/demeaning remarks, no teasing, taunting or tantrums!

We were like… a bunch of grown up friends having a very fun evening together?!

It was amazing.

How did this great day happen? Well, books/articles will say things like “get teenagers involved”, “be interested in their interests”, “show them you care”, “spend time with them, listen, don’t be judgemental” blah blah blah. (Yeah well, even when we do all those things, they usually just end up fighting and bickering anyway.)

The answer: My boys all woke up in a good mood one day. And that’s it.

Us parents do what we can and some days we get lucky.

(I’m sure this parenting thing will pay off some day!)

Sushi Rolls for Dinner
And here’s a photo of our sushi rolls.


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