Finished Reading List for 2017

9 January 2018

Finished Book List for 2017

Yay here’s my finished reading list for 2017.

I think I did OK for reading 10 books in a year, considering that I took 7 months to read Catch-22 (however I did finish 2 other books while trying to read it).

One of my life goals is to read a whole bunch of classic literature titles.

Basically I want to get through a list of “Greatest Books of All Time”, but alternating them with modern titles that catch my attention, or books I find for $2 at the opshop.

I managed to read 5 classics this year: 1984, Catch-22, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Little Prince.

Starting with the book I read last Jan (2017), here’s my list.

1. Insurgent (Divergent, #2) by Veronica Roth

2. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

3. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

4. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

5. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

6. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

7. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

8. Maestra by L.S Hilton

9. 1984 by George Orwell

10. Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot, #10) by Agatha Christie

My favourite read for the year was Murder on the Orient Express. I had never read an Agatha Christie before and it was very enjoyable. The language was very concise, and not flowery at all, which made it a fast paced story. It surprised me, I thought it’d be like reading Charles Dickens.

My other surprise was 1984. Wow talk about a creepy and depressing story! Just doom and gloom. Everyone raves about what an amazing book it is, and yes, on many levels, it’s an impressive and thought provoking story for its time. It wasn’t a fun read though. And I feel sorry for the people who had to read it in high school and “analyse” it haha!

Regret Read award goes to Insurgent. The movie was much better and it had a hot guy in it. I read it on the plane from London to Perth.

And I didn’t like The Little Prince either. I know it’s for kids, and it’s supposed to be profound and allegorical but omg it was so weird?! I almost had to put it down as a “Did Not Finish”.

You can check out my full list of Have-Read Books on Good Reads.

Or take a peek at my Finished Reading List for 2016.

Good luck for your reading goals this year!



What I Wore: My Perfect Summer Outfit

6 January 2018

Summer Denim

We’re well into summer here in Australia.

And if I had to choose my Perfect Summer Outfit: I wouldn’t go for floral fabrics, colourful skirts, or a crisp white dresses.

I’d go for this: An off-shoulder tee, denim skirt, pointed toe flats and a simple handbag.

Nice and simple!

I’d probably throw on a straw hat too.

Summer Denim

Top: I’m wearing an old season top from Forecast (bought on The Iconic), and I like it because it is fitted at the waist, so it makes me look slimmer! Also it’s made from a thick, stretchy t-shirt material so it is super comfortable.

Here are some similar “fitted” off-shoulder styles – Julii Top from MNG (only $25), Bardot Top from Superdry (only $50, but it’s a bodysuit). This style is surprisingly hard to find.

Denim skirt: I’m wearing a no brand one from Japan. But here are some similar styles – Edee Skirt by Atmos+Here ($30), Piper Skirt by Nobody ($150) and Gioh Skirt from IRO ($175).

Flats: These were a risky buy from ASOS. They are White Slingbacks by London Rebel. They looked cute but also looked a bit weird/different online, and I wasn’t 100% convinced that I would actually wear them. They were originally $73 and were discounted to $18 – which wasn’t a good sign either.

In the end, I bought them and I love wearing them everywhere now!

Bag: Eeeek I looooove my new 3.1 Phillip Lim Alix Clutch bag! I have to be honest, part of me wanted to save for a Gucci bag, but I had a gift card from Shopbop and after a long decision, I decided to pick up this bag instead.

I’m so happy I did. I absolutely love that it’s a bit different. I can fit so much stuff in it, including my camera. Not many people have seen it before, yet I still get a lot of comments and conversation about it. Full review coming soon.

Sunnies: Good old classic Baby Audreys from Celine.

Have a fab weekend!



The Magic of a Song List

4 January 2018

It’s about 10pm right now. I’m sitting in our living room. By myself.

My husband and 12yo boy are out of town for a few days, visiting some friends. So it’s just me, my 14yo and 8yo.

Earlier this evening I had a terrible few hours of trying to get my 8yo to stop playing computer games, eat his dinner, brush his teeth and go to bed. Arguments, tantrums, tears! So much shouting. So many horrible things said out of anger (him and me). Ergh I shouldn’t have let him play computer games at that time of day.

It was 9pm by the time he got to bed. I was exhausted, shaken and frazzled. It was probably 8/10 on the awfulness scale. I was on the verge of tears or some kind of nervous breakdown. (I think most people in my position would pour themselves a glass of wine?)

Sensing I needed a bit of cheering up, my 14yo leapt up to show me this “cool new thing” on the internet ( where you can put together your favourite songs from 2017 on Spotify – it was so sweet of him! He put together a song list for me, he was all chirpy, smiley and full of jokes, he showed me how to play it, then he volunteered to do the dishes, wash the pots, clean up the kitchen, and left me to enjoy my music.

Aww man. What a sweetie. I felt so lucky. What an amazing young man he’s growing up to be.

I did shed a tear or two, but they were happy ones.

(On a side note, apparently I listened to 69,538 minutes of music this year!)

Edit: My 8yo woke up and gave me a cuddle and kiss on the cheek the next morning. He said sorry for the fight and he promised to work on having a better day. He even suggested things we could do together to that would make me happy.

Sigh. He’s also such a sweet boy, who’s crazy-super-devoted to me… when he’s not being a monster haha!


My Baby Succulent Nursery

3 January 2018

Stolen Succulent

This is me with a stolen piece of succulent plant!

I was at a cafe and I spotted a cool looking succulent in the cafe’s toilet. I asked a waitress if I could have a little piece and she had no idea what I was talking about (sigh!), and she said she’d ask the owner, but she didn’t get back to me. So I pinched a piece anyway. And so it’s not reeeeeally stolen?!

When we bought our first house 15 years ago, I was obsessed with succulents.

I had so many! I knew the names of them!

But then I had children. So my interest in them waned. I could barely have a shower and look after myself, let alone look after a couple of house plants.

Now I’m back at it.

I have a mental wishlist of succulents I need in order to complete my collection.

When I go on my weekly runs, I often look into people’s gardens and if I spot a succulent I want… I knock on their door to ask if I could break off a little branch so I can propagate it.

In fact, when I go for my runs, I always carry a bit of cash (2 x $5 notes) for coffee, for a snack, for emergency water or…. for the instance I come across a succulent and someone is reluctant to give me a branch for free, so at least I have $5 to offer them???

Hasn’t happened yet, but I’m always prepared for it haha!

Rare succulents can be over $20!

You only need one leaf to propagate a whole succulent.

You need a lot of time too.

Baby Succulents 2017

Here is my succulent baby nursery. The one on the left is a baby orchid.

They are my babies. My new children. Who don’t talk back.

Look how well they are doing!

I’m so proud of them.

Baby Succulents 2017

These guys have been growing for 6 months.

They are so bright, green, glossy and… succulent.

I keep their leaves polished too!

Baby Succulents 2017

These guys are new additions, from my sister’s house. Including the one I stole from the cafe.

All looking very young and perky. Doing rather nicely!

I’m also on the hunt from op-shopped terracotta pots and retro bowls, to grow them in. As I have LOTS more bigger succulents in my garden.

I definitely see 2018 as a year of daggy hobbies :)


Hello 2018! Happy New Year!

1 January 2018

New Year Eve

Happy New Year my lovely readers!

How did you celebrate the new year? Me? I went to bed at 11pm and read until 12:30am, pausing for a moment to acknowledge the faint sounds of fireworks in the distance haha!

Yesterday I went to hot yoga in the morning and I was so tired by the afternoon that I had to take a nap.

Then we went to my parent’s house for a swim and New Year’s Eve dinner. They invited their closest friends (all 50 of them!) and we had the most delicious homemade Singapore/Malaysian food ever.

All the aunties were in the kitchen, cooking, grilling, cutting, mixing, marinading, tossing, washing, for hours! In the summer heat! It was soooo much work and I admired them for their dedication… and their desire to throw a good party for their friends?!

My husband left he party early at 9pm. He took my kids to visit his dad, to eat some Scottish Black Bun and have a dram of whiskey (so Scottish!). Obviously the kids didn’t have any whiskey.

I stayed on to help with the cleaning up. Then my parents and their friends started to sing karaoke and play mahjong, at which point I left the party (about 10:30pm).

I pretty much gave all my Aunties and Uncles a goodbye hug and said, “Yeah I’m off to bed. Enjoy the countdown! Don’t get too drunk! Please don’t drink and drive! Stay hydrated! And don’t gamble too much!”

They are a bunch of party animals haha!

New Year Eve

As for my outfit, I actually wore this last week.

If you check out my last few outfits, you’ll notice that I’ve been sticking to ruffles, jeans and pumps. So boring but hey it’s a good formula!

White Ruffle Off Shoulder Top (now $11) is from ASOS. Such great buy! The top is made from a cotton, similar to  a business shirt, and the stiffness of the cotton helps hold the shape of the ruffles. But the body tends to boof out and makes me look like I have a pot belly.

Petite Candice Mid-Rise Skinny Jeans from GRLFRND.

Bailey Belt by Lovers + Friends Belts.

Mini Alix Clutch in Fawn (currently on sale!!) by 3.1 Phillip Lim. The larger version of Alix Clutch is here, also in black (which I have!) but it’s not on sale.

Marc Bale Rose Gold Mesh Watch is from The Peach Box.

Enjoy your start to the new year!

(Btw, how wonky does my eye makeup look in my top photo haha!! I have no idea what is going on there. I suspect my hair created a shadow over my eye and make it look darker and uneven. No one seemed to notice it or comment on it when I wore it (unless they were being really polite??) so I’m sure my eye shadow was even when I left the house! Haha!)



Ending the Year with Hot Yoga

31 December 2017

Hot Yoga on New Years Eve

I ate soooo much over the Christmas break. So much ham. So much chicken.

And like every good new year cliche, I decided to end the year doing something positive – rather than ending up a food coma!

It’s been 9 months (I think) since I’ve been to a hot yoga class. I was very surprised that I could keep up with the instructor. I did quite well! So happy!

But I forgot about all the sweat. Omg the sweat!

Imagine someone using a water spray bottle and squirting it into your armpits, until the water is dripping – no trickling – like a little stream, down your body, puddling in your bra strap. It’s such a weird sensation.

And who would have thought that sweat was so salty?!

It was pouring down my face, dripping into the corners of my mouth (Bleh! I was drinking my own sweat! You can’t really spit on the ground in class! Gotta sip it up! Eeew!). And my eyes too. I was wincing in pain from the salt stinging my eyes, making my vision blurry. I tried to wipe my eyes with my shoulder, but my shoulder, my forearm, the back of my hands were all soaking wet.

I was pretty much having a shower in my own sweat.

But you know, it all isn’t that bad.

The ultimate gross-ness is AFTER the class: It’s when I am returning my borrowed foam block to the back of the studio hall, walking across the floor and stepping in the puddles of OTHER PEOPLE’S SWEAT. Then dragging the collective sweat around the floor and stepping in other people’s collective sweat + feet sweat, which has been there for a a bit longer, so it’s slightly colder sweat.

Haha it’s sooooo gross!!

But thankfully I had a shower and I felt that beeeaaaautiful glow all over my body that reminded me why I love it so much. Kinda!


Shopbop Boxing Day Picks: My Dress Wishlist

27 December 2017

Hi everyone!

Today I’m collborating with Shopbop to share some of my Boxing Day Sale picks.

It is a 3-day Sale on Sale : Simply use the code ‘JOY25′ to enjoy 25% Off All Sale Products!

Ends around Friday, 29th Dec 4pm (Perth time, UTC/GMT + 8)

Shopbop Boxing Day

For me, I’m still in holiday mode, enjoying the slow-paced routine that comes with this time of year.

I was going to give the Boxing Day sales a miss this year, but then I spotted the discounted price of a coffee machine and milk frother (which I have been eyeing since Mothers Day) and decided to head up into the stores after all!

I’m a real slow shopper. I make a mental list of things I want and stalk them for months, and sometimes I realise that I don’t want one thing anymore (which is a good thing!). And when I’m sure I still want something after a few months, I’ll wait for the price to drop during the sales hehe.

These are some items I had stalked for ages… and have since bought. I wore them to a Christmas lunch and didn’t spill anything on the white shirt!

Shopbop Boxing Day

I’m wearing Stylekeeper Off Shoulder Ruffle Top – on sale from approx AUD $150 to $45. I bought this a few weeks ago at a previous sale, but for Boxing Day, there’s an additional 25% off.

Stuart Weitzman Daisy 90mm Pumps again I got these a while ago, on a sale, but with the discount, they are $243, from $464.

My handbag is 3.1 Phillip Lim Alix Micro Cross Body Bag in Fawn colour, but unfortunately it’s out of stock.

Jeans are by GRLFRND Denim.

Lover Dress - Shopbop Boxing Day Sale

Ahh, I know I already have a Lover Dress! But it’s so beautiful that I want another one :)

In particular, I’m looking for a Lover dress either in navy or black, with a lace design with a “tight” pattern.

I have been eyeing THIS Lover Oasis Dress for aaaages. I am so in love with it! It’s on sale for 55% off (or something crazy like that), but unfortunately it’s not in my size – ugh!

Zimmermann Dress - Shopbop Boxing Day Sale

Again I already have a silk Zimmerman dress. It is short and black. I love it, but it looks very summery and casual.

I have been thinking of getting a more formal Zimmermann silk dress, in a classic and simple style… very much like this Zimmermann Bow Bodice Dress.

This one is available in my size. But I was actually looking for a deep red or maroon colour!

Self-Portrait Dress - Shopbop Boxing Day Sale

Another dress on my wishlist is this Self Portrait Floral Mini Dress.

Yes I have a Self Portrait dress and a top, so I know I’m onto a good thing here.

I’ve been looking for a long sleeve dress to wear in winter. And I like the fact that it is a short mini length, so it won’t overwhelm my short-ness.

Also on the wishlist is this Self Portrait Azaelea Dress, but it’s not on sale :)

Tibia Dress - Shopbop Boxing Day Sale

I’ve been completely smitten by Tibi’s latest collection, full of voluminous shapes and dramatic forms, but still elegant and simple designs.

I have two very lovely Tibi camisoles, but none of their iconic cotton pieces.

So I was considering to buy this Tibi Midi Dress, but my size sold out pretty quickly. Probably a good thing!

Enjoy the holidays!

Hope you manage to find something you love!



Christmas Celebrations for 2017

26 December 2017

Christmas 2017

Hi everyone!

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas with your families and loved ones!

We have had back-to-back parties, dinners, BBQs, lunches and outings leading up to Christmas. Surprisingly, it hasn’t been very stressful at all. It’s been very chilled, manageable and very enjoyable to catch up with everyone.

Once again, we hosted dinner on Christmas Eve with my side of the family. I managed to delegate lots of dishes, so in the end I only had to make three things, including the ham.

It looked great in the end!

Funny story, I had to look up my Christmas blog post from last year to make sure that I decorated my ham differently haha!

Christmas Table 2017

I did go a bit fancy this year, with white tablecloths, candles and a formal table setting – no plastic plates here! And although it looked really lovely, I don’t think I’ll do that again, as I prefer a more casual, relaxed vibe, where people can move around and sit with other people to talk throughout the evening.

For Christmas Day we usually wake up at a normal time, eat a hot breakfast of leftover ham, eggs and toast, then go for a walk if the weather is nice. Then we invite a few grandparents over and sit around the Christmas tree to open presents.

This year was the same. Except that this time, I felt that the kids were a little bit disappointed, because they didn’t receive brand new devices, phones or tablets or anything of that sort. Maybe they are a bit older now and were expecting more?

They had been begging me for new devices for months, to which I had said, “Absolutely not!”. And I think they believed that I would surprise them just because it’s Christmas?! Nope.

I don’t really believe in buying my kids brand new devices, just because they simply want a new one or want to own the latest version. They can just live with their old, secondhand items with cracked screens.

Anyway, they were still pretty grateful for the gifts they received, and they did thank us happily.

In the late afternoon, we celebrated with my husband’s side of the family. Kids had a blast in the pool. We all ate lots of Christmas food and desserts.

Then we are off to a few more pool parties and BBQs by the river before the year is over.

I love this time of year!

Christmas 2017


Keeping on top of my fitness during the holidays

16 December 2017

Park Running

Wow it’s not even Christmas yet and I’ve been eating eating EATING!

Brunch with girlfriends. Lunch with my parents. Evening BBQs with friends. Dinner parties with family.

It’s such a blessing to be surrounded by good people and good food all the time….

Buuuut, I have to keep on top of my exercise, or I’ll feel absolutely terrible, lethargic, moody and have poor sleep. Not to mention, I’ll probably gain 5kgs with all the eating.

Here’s a rough look at my routine at the moment.

Sunday – Run 5km

Monday – Yoga

Tuesday – Walk

Wednesday – Run 5km

Thursday – Yoga or Strength

Friday – Nothing!

Saturday – Nothing!

For my strength exercises, I’ve been doing a bit of Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Workout (not that I’m aiming for a bikini body) I’m just looking for exercise routines.

I pulled a muscle in my neck a while ago, which rendered me useless for a few weeks. It was so frustrating to get into a good exercise momentum, get so far in my strength, then have to go back to square one. Sigh.

But hey, we have to look after our bodies right? I can only do what I can with what I have.

All the best for your exercise routine during the holidays!



Review: Grana Silk Pyjama Camisole + Pants

14 December 2017

Grana Silk Pyjamas

Hey hey, it sure is getting festive around here!

The lovely team from Grana sent me some beeeeeautiful silk pyjama pieces to test out in the lead up to Christmas.

Do you wear fancy pyjamas to sleep? I have a few satin slips that I wear during summer, but I’m usually a soft, cotton t-shirt kind of girl.

I have never slept in silk before — that is, until 2 weeks ago!

Woohoo what a treat. It was so luxurious!

Grana Silk Pyjamas

I’m wearing the Silk Pyjama Camisole in Ruby Red in XXS here.

Like all Grana’s silk camisoles, the quality is awesome. The stitching is great, the seams and edges don’t look buckled (in that cheap-silk way), the straps, the joins, the corners… all look amazing.

The silk fabric is lovely, soft and smooth. It feels very strong like satin, but much softer. I don’t feel like the fabric will tear when I move around or sleep.

The top is also double layered, which adds to the quality feel of the garment.

The “jacquard shadow stripe” pattern silk makes it look extra special too.

I probably could wear it as a normal top too. Maybe I could tone it down with a black blazer?

While the XXS is perfect for my petite size, I found that it was a little tight across the chest when sleeping, as I’m used to wearing a much looser top in bed  – I move around and look like a running man when I sleep!

So I would have preferred to size up to a XS for sleeping.

Grana Silk Pyjamas

For the pants, these are the Silk Pyjama Pants in Ruby Red, and again I’m wearing the XXS.

Surprisingly the length of the pants fit me well. They don’t billow and drag on the ground. They just skim the ground.

If I was feeling daring, I probably could wear these pants out. I’m not sure where I would wear them, but I like to think that I could haha.

I really enjoyed sashaying around the house, lounging on the couch with a book, and sliding into bed in my silk pyjamas. They’re just soooo luxurious! I felt like such a movie star haha!

I honestly wouldn’t buy silk pyjamas for myself, but I’m over the moon that I have them now. I would definitely buy them as a gift for someone else, for their birthday or special occasion. Every girl should feel like a luxurious movie star once in her life :)

Again, while the XXS pants were perfect for wearing around the house, I wasn’t used to the firm fit around the waist while I was sleeping. So again, I would size up.

Grana offers a Silk Long Sleeve Shirt (if you don’t like wearing camisoles to sleep), a Silk Nightdress, and matching Silk Eye Masks too. I think a long sleeve silk shirt would feel lovely to sleep in, so I’m a bit bummed that I didn’t pick that one.

All these items come in a lovely Rose Blush colour. See the whole Sleepwear Collection here.

Special Discount Code

If you’re a new customer, you can use my code “karenxgrana” to enjoy 10% off your order and free shipping. It’s valid until the end of December.

No Markup Sale

Grana have also launched their “No Markup Sale” to make room in their warehouse, move along stock and free up space for next season items.

Cashmere jumpers are $55, long cashmere cardigans are $90, silk bombers are $67, silk slip dresses are $48, silk pants are $68, and silk camisoles are $25 — still lots of XXS/XS/S/M sizes, amazing sale, go check it out!

Happy shopping!



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