Archive for November 2008


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Making Baby 3, Pregnancy Week 9 – Healthy Snacks

29 November 2008

I’ve gone a bit crazy with this eating thing. I’ve been consuming whatever I feel like, whenever I feel hungry, and whatever happens to be most convenient.

So I’ve put on 4kgs since finding out I am pregnant!

Ok, I know that it’s very important to put on weight during pregnancy – but I probably shouldn’t be using it as an excuse to pig out on high-salt, high-fat, extra-tasty foods, which I’ve been seriously craving.

I have dreams about eating meat pies, bacon and egg breakfast muffins, hamburgers, sausage rolls, take away fried noodles and fried chicken – and eating them between my meals! They dance around in my head, singing at me, taunting me and making my mouth water and my head dizzy.

As of last week, I’m trying to eat healthy snacks only. Especially because I seem to be eating about 6-8 small meals a day.

I’m also trying to be a lot more organised, keeping small tubs of snacks in convenient places. It’s been working out quite well, and I’ve been feeling much better for it.

Some healthy snacks I’ve been enjoying:

Cheese and crackers
Something on toast
A piece of fruit – apple, pear or banana
Dried fruit and nuts – pistachios, walnuts, sunflower seeds
Homemade muffins
Fruit smoothies
Homemade fruit juices

Last week, my daily meals looked something like this:

Breakfast: Bowl of muesli and soy milk, cup of tea.
Snack: Pear and mixed nuts.
Snack: Two banana and walnut muffins.
Lunch: Two pieces of toast, cheese spread, sprouts, beetroot.
Snack: Cheese and crackers, cup of tea.
Snack: Fruit salad.
Dinner: Whatever I’ve made for dinner.
Snack: Bowl of yoghurt.
Snack: Fruit.

Click here to see the whole story of Making Baby 3.

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28 November 2008


We were walking by the river one morning, when my 5.5yo son found a coconut floating in the water.

The boys excitedly tossed off their shoes and waded into the water to grab it.

They were full of questions about coconuts – how did it get there? Where was it going? What was inside it?

And me, having been raised on a tropical island, started telling them about faraway lands, plant seeds and cross-continental, oceanic species distribution (ok not really).

Until I realised that there was something awry.

The coconut had no husk! This is a SHOP coconut. It didn’t come from a tropical island! It came from Coles! Bah.

Upon hearing my sudden change in tone, the boys asked – as boys do – “Can we smash it up to see what’s inside?”

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Awards and Trying Again

27 November 2008

Blogger's Choice Awards 2009I don’t know if you all remember the Blogger’s Choice Awards 2008.

Well it turns out that I won the Best Blog Design! I came 2nd in Best Parenting Blog, and I was one of runners up for Best Blog of All Time and Hottest Mommy Blogger!

I’m completely stoked! Thank you everyone for putting in your votes throughout the year!


Well I have been nominated again in 4 similar categories for the 2009 Bloggers Choice Awards. And I’d love it if you could spend a few moments voting for me?

For a website about blogs, the Bloggers Choice Awards website is a bit confusing, but if you follow these simple steps, you should be right —

1) Go to

2) Create an account by choosing “sign up” at the top – you do have to fill in everything, except “choose a picture”, and you do have to give a real email address. Don’t forget to uncheck the “send me email box” (if you don’t want spam).

A message will appear telling you to check your email for a confirmation message. Mine arrived in less than thirty seconds, and you click on the link in the email message to log you into the Bloggers Choice Awards site.

3) On the top right hand side of the screen is a “search” box. Type in the word “cheng”.
A list of entries will appear, and mine – “” – will probably be on top of the list.

4) Click on the drop down menu called “Choose a Category to View this Blog” and you will see a list of all the different categories I have been nominated for. Choose any one of the four nominations.

5) It will load up a little profile of my website, and there will be a yellow “vote” button. Hit the vote button! Then you can just quickly click on the other 3 categories listed to the right as well, to vote for me in those categories.

And don’t forget to have a look at a few new blogs!

THANKS SO MUCH! Fingers crossed for next year!

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Monthly Personal Goals – November 2008

26 November 2008

My last few months of personal goals have been very simple – To Survive Pregnancy! Everything is basically about keeping myself together, sane and healthy. Not to mention, to continue living a balanced life.

Eat well.
I’m trying to maintain a healthy and balanced diet, even though I’m really craving junk food and oily Chinese food. No junk food! Go easy on the excessive eating!

Try to exercise.
I’m trying to go for a 2km walk or bike ride every day, do yoga or stretches every other day, and a small swim once a week.

Re-energise myself daily.
I try to get some rest during the day. I can’t nap. So instead, I find some quiet time to lie down or meditate for at least 30 minutes each day.

Complete a daily project.
Find a simple, little, achievable project to complete every day – sweep leaves in backyard, bake muffins, read a chapter of my book, do a little bit of work on the vegetable patch.

I know it’s a bit silly, but I find that it actually makes me feel really good – despite everything, I have accomplished something that day.

Find 5 things to be thankful for.
Some days I am skipping with happiness or energy. Other days I’m miserable with despair and frustration. I’ve found a nice habit to do – whether it is a good day or a bad day – to find 5 things to be thankful for.

Spend time with my husband.
My husband and I are still going out on our weekly date nights! It’s been two years since we arranged to have a weekly babysitter, and what can I say… it’s one of our best parenting decisions ever.

These last few months, we’ve been fine-tuning the quality of our date night. Try to spend less money, don’t talk about anything kid-related (since we do that every day!), see more friends and take more strolls in the sunset (daylight saving is wonderful!).

Go out once a week, by myself.
I love my husband. He’s so understanding. Sometimes I forget that I need a weekly dose of girly company. I need to chatter in that senseless girl-way. Perhaps I start to inflict it on him. Because every week, he comes close to shoving me out the door and shouting “GO SHOPPING!!”

OK not really. But seriously, alone-time is wonderful balance for the soul.

Save money!
I’m being much more mindful about the money I spend. Particularly with Christmas around the corner. Eep!

My previous Monthly Personal Goals for the year: August 2008, July Reflections 2008, June 2008, May 2008, April 2008, March 2008.

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Fashion Find: Ruffles

25 November 2008

Statement Ruffles from Net-A-Porter

Spied a very pretty collection of statement ruffles at Net-A-Porter.

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Project Bike Making

24 November 2008

A few weeks ago, my husband announced that my 5.5year old son needed a new bike. But of course, simply going out to buy one would be MUCH too boring. So he decided to MAKE A BIKE instead.

It just so happened that there was a garbage verge collection in the neighbourhood that week. So my husband and son went out into the streets, scavenging old bikes, bike parts, old wheels, wonky seats, broken frames, reflectors and pedals – anything they could get their hands on.

Night after night, they would come back late in the evenings, covered in dirt, oil, grime, mud and rain, with a wheel barrow full of treasure. They were like a pair of happy burglars. And the smiles on their dirty faces were priceless.

My son had the most amazing twinkle in his eyes, my god, it was magic.
Bike Making with Dad
Callum with the “funny broken bike” with no tyres.

So began the whole bike construction. Our outdoor area was littered with broken old bike frames and bike parts. It was hilarious.

Bike Making with Dad
My husband and his angle grinder.

The boys went crazy with BOY-NESS OVERLOAD – playing with dad’s tools, banging on the old bike frames, pretending to fix things and be “mechanics”. Oh they had such a good time.

Bike Making with Dad

The result was pretty cool I must say.

A part of me was afraid that my son would realise that his NEW BIKE was actually a rusted old frankenstein of a bike, which they put together from discarded junk…. then compare it with his friend’s shiny brand new SPIDERMAN or NINJA TURTLE Kmart bikes…. and that he might turn to his dad and go – Nup, it looks like crap, I don’t want it.

Bike Making with Dad

But he didn’t. In fact he LOVES it. He loved the process, the building, the tools, the chatting and spending time with dad, and the fact that they made it together.

They now have plans for the next stage – to take it apart, spray paint the frame, make stencils of my son’s name, add flames.

I don’t know much about the ideal boyhood, but I believe my sons are having a very good time.

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Making Baby 3, Pregnancy Week 8: Cravings

21 November 2008

Let me tell you about cravings.

Pregnancy cravings can come from no where and hit like a nuclear explosion.

I might have already eaten a full breakfast and morning tea… we might be out in a park, taking a walk… and my son might say something random like “Wiggles… Dorothy… hotdog…”

And suddenly, I have this image of a HOTDOG in my head.

My stomach starts to twitch. Then it starts to churn in hunger. Painful, dizzying hunger. I can see the crystal clear image of the HOTDOG. I can smell the warm bread and the salty sausage meat. I can see globs of mustard and tomato sauce. My mouth salivates. I get light headed.

Then I become so hungry that it hurts. I feel like throwing up. I feel like fainting. I need FOOD.


I’m curled over, my head is spinning and I can feel myself about to throw up. I reach into my handbag, I open up my emergency muesli bar, I bite the top off and I’m immediately better – but only for a few minutes. Which is more than enough time to drive to a hotdog shop.

My latest craving: kimchee, wonton noodles and spicy mee siam.

Click here to see the whole story of Making Baby 3.

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Singapore Fashion Designers – Baylene Li

20 November 2008

Singapore has a special place in my heart. I love the food, the city, the energy and the shopping!

Whenever I go to visit, I am often overwhelmed by the vast array of international brands Singapore has to offer. So much so, that I forget to look at the local fashion design talent.

So during my recent trip back to Singapore, I was very keen to meet some local Singaporean fashion designers – in particular, to see how living in such a modern, sophisticated and global society (with such tropical weather!) has shaped their interpretations on fashion.

Firstly, I had the honour of meeting fashion designer, Baylene Li.

I arrived at her lovely fashion gallery at Stamford House. The building, with high Victorian ceilings and gorgeous Renaissance architecture, is itself a statement of distinction and character.

Singapore Fashion Designer - Baylene Li

A quick glance of the clothes on display confirmed that Baylene’s designs were oozing with originality and style. The colours and textures of her collection immediately seemed to offer something different and I was itching to have a closer look.

Singapore Fashion Designer - Baylene Li

You won’t find a typical prom dress here. Nor copycat trends from last season’s Milan fashion show.

All her pieces were stunning. They looked classic, simple and stylish – but each one had a unique twist. A special detail. An elegant angle or unusual pleat. She focuses on creating a unique, bold look, something with strong character.

Singapore Fashion Designer - Baylene Li

I tried on Baylene’s very popular Kelly dress, a multi-wear garment. I gushed at its clever design. There are 19 different ways to wear the dress – a dress with sleeves, sleeveless, halter, one shoulder, boat neck, cowl neck and more. You can even wear it with jeans, or as a wrap. I wished I owned one! The picture above is me wearing the SAME garment!

Baylene was born in Taiwan, raised in New Zealand, lived in Singapore, and launched her career as a fashion designer in Singapore.

In 2003 she opened her Baylene Fashion Gallery where she stocks her Baylene label and jewellery by local designers. With a string of international awards and stockists, she is now based in Hong Kong.

I was very fortunate that she was in Singapore when I was, and to meet and talk to her face to face, she was warm, friendly and very gracious. Not to mention, she just had this super-relaxed, uber COOL about her. Definitely the essence of her brand!

Singapore Fashion Designer - Baylene Li

Baylene has a great website where you can view her latest collections and buy items online,

Or you can visit one of her stores or stockists:
Baylene Fashion Gallery
Stamford House #01-04
39 Stamford Road
Singapore 178885
Phone: +65 6336 9619

Lush Icon Boutique
1F-1B, First Florr
Bangsar Village II
No. 2 Jalan Telawi 1
Bangsar Baru
59100 KL, Malaysia
Phone: +603 2282 9619

Mid Tower Project Co. Ltd.
3-21-32 3F Ikejiri
Tokyo, Japan 154-0001
Phone: +813 5834 7124

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Fashion Find: Scarves in Muted Hues

19 November 2008

Scarves from Anthropologie

I know it’s supposed to be Spring here in Australia, but these scarves from Anthropologie are enough to inspire me to dress up a simple black dress, or white top and pants. Love the colours!

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Second Child Neglect

18 November 2008

As much as I try not to live the stereotype, sometimes I sit back and think – Oops.

They say when you have your first child – you take your child to baby gym classes, baby swimming, baby art time and playgroups. You and your child will sit down for hours, singing songs, playing clapping games, moulding play dough and cutting and pasting. The novelty of having a child is delicious and you revel in it, making moments last forever.

But with the second child – you’re pretty much over it. You skip the gym classes and the art time, and the highlight of the day is going to the shops and buying vegetables. Yay! Vegetables are fun! Quality time is folding the laundry together in the lounge room, or weeding the garden!

It sounds terrible, but most of the time it’s true.

So today I sat down with my 3.5 year old and we had a 2 hour art and craft session. TWO whole hours. He was SO HAPPY.

Embarrassing to say, I was amazed by what the little guy could do. He could draw animals! He could make up really funny stories for his pictures! He had some hilarious and creative ideas!

And he refused any help for cutting out his animals. He’s so good with scissors!
Collage by Sean

Gah, I seriously had a tear in my eye when he drew a crocodile. He explained that it was a friendly crocodile with two happy orange fish friends. And if you look carefully, you can see a yellow seagull flying over to flip the E back to its right position.

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Project Dip-The-Boys-In-Paint

17 November 2008

Box painting on the weekend

We received a huge, old, wooden toy box from our neighbour last week.

It was a great size for all our balls and outdoor toys. Problem was, it needed a new coat of paint (and it was pink!)

So my husband initiated a Toy Box Painting Project.

He basically poured out a whole lot of old wall paint from the shed, put the boys in old clothes, gave the boys a paintbrush each and said, PAINT!

Argh. I couldn’t watch. They made SUCH A MESS!

They would do things like, drop their brush in the sand, pick it up and then carry on painting with the sandy brush. They’d paint their hands and splat the paint on with their palms, and then wipe their noses. They’d dip their brush into the paint, walk a MILE around the box, dripping paint everywhere they went! They were covered in paint at the end!

Box painting on the weekend

Oh well. At least they had fun. And the box did get painted.

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Making Baby 3, Pregnancy Week 7: Reality Kicks In

16 November 2008

Now that I’m actually pregnant, I suddenly have no need for a fertility clinic, or a team of nurses and doctors. It was really wonderful having them, helping me, holding my hand through each step of the assisted reproduction process and calling me up to see how I was going.

I was used to having all this support and care. I was used to having someone else manage everything for me! They told me exactly what to do and when to do it – Get a blood test. Come into the clinic. Go to this appointment. Fill out this form. Pay this bill. I just followed instructions, it was very easy.

But now I’ve been thrust back into the world of reality – to plan the rest of my pregnancy BY MYSELF! I’m at that scary place where expectant mothers are expected to make their own decisions!

So I sat down the other day, I booked my obstetrician, booked my blood tests, booked some other screening tests and scans. I printed out a pregnancy calendar. Got hold of a week by week overview of gestation. I pulled out all my old pregnancy books for references. And my diary is all up to date.

The last thing my fertility clinic advised me to do was to have an ultrasound at 6 weeks, since I had slight complications early on.

Ultrasound - 6 weeks

Here’s my little jellybean!

The scan went wonderfully well. The scanning nurses were absolutely lovely.

Usually, I don’t like it when medical practitioners are too nice or too tender. But this nurse eased absolutely any doubt I had – my baby is normal, a good, healthy size, and growing really well. My baby was perfect.

I’m so happy!

Click here to see the whole story of Making Baby 3.

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Best Pancakes Ever

14 November 2008


Every Sunday morning I try to make something a little special for breakfast. My boys love these mini pancakes (or pikelets), especially with fruit.

1 cup (150g) self-raising flour
2 tablespoons of castor sugar (optional)
1 egg, beaten lightly
¾ cup (180ml) of milk
butter for cooking

1. Mix flour and sugar
2. Mix in egg and milk, to make a smooth batter.
3. Add a bit of butter to lightly coat a hot pan. Pour dessert-spoons of pancake mixture onto the pan.
4. Wait for bubbles to appear on the surface of the pancake, flip!
5. Serve hot with fruit, yoghurt and honey!



My boys don’t like their pancakes to be stacked up, so I serve them like biscuits. Easier for little fingers.

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Silver Shoes

13 November 2008

Silver Shoes

Bought them in Melbourne.
Discounted to $50.
SO comfy.
Best bargain ever.

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Short and Tall

12 November 2008

Short and Tall

A few months ago, we tore open a new packet of sunflower seeds and scattered them through our little flower bed.

It turns out that one side of the garden bed gets a bit more sunshine than the other side.

The result is that we have short sunflowers and really tall sunflowers – wonderfully presented by my height assistant, Sean.

The difference in size is incredible! The tall sunflowers are going crazy. They are literally bowing down, over-burdened by the weight of flowers. While the short sunflowers, well, they look stunted.

Amazing to see what a bit of extra sunshine can do.

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Daily Outfit 11-11-2008

11 November 2008

Wearing Maternity Clothes. It begins!So I’m 6 weeks pregnant.

With all the food I’m eating (and the lack of exercise), my tummy and thighs are starting to expand! I’m starting to show a baby bump!

Well, when I say “bump” I really mean that weird tummy flab that looks a bit like a “muffin top”.

I’m not too worried about the weight gain. I’m actually looking forward to having my body change during the pregnancy. I’m a bit nostalgic about it. It’ll be the last time I’ll ever be pregnant!

However I realise that I’m fast running out of clothes to wear. All my jeans are getting a bit tight and I have to wear them low on my hips.

I guess I’m at that stage where I should be looking to wear proper maternity clothes. If I keep wearing my usual clothes, I’ll stretch and ruin them all – as I’ve discovered from the past.

This is me wearing a $30 scrunch skirt pulled up to be a tube top. Lots of room to grow in the tummy area!

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School Sports Carnival 2008

10 November 2008

School Sports Carnival 2008

My 5.5yo had his pre-school sports carnival the other day.

Ah, it was one of those days I’ve been looking forward to since becoming a mother.

When I was a kid, I LOVED sports carnival days. I was in green faction and I was really good at sport. I always came home with lots of ribbons and medals!

Today, parents were invited to join in the fun and games, as well as come for a picnic lunch. I made a special lunch, made frozen water bottles, packed a little picnic basket with fruits and snacks and all our supplies. I was jittery with excitement!

In fact, I was so excited, that I really had to check myself – and – everything that was coming out of my mouth.

I think I’m secretly very competitive. I’m not the kind who boasts and struts around thinking “I’m the best and I’m better than you”. But I do have an inner drive to win. Yes, I like to try my best AND I like to win.

So as I talked about “carnivals” with my son, I had to make sure that the right message came out – that sport was about having fun with your friends. NOT JUST WINNING!

School Sports Carnival 2008My son was in blue faction, and he wanted me to wear blue too. Royal Blue to be exact. And the only royal blue top I had… was an expensive silk camisole.

So there I was, standing next to all the other sporty mums, looking all sophisticated and dressed up (like an idiot who doesn’t know what to wear to a sports carnival).

They had a mum’s race, a dad’s race and a teacher’s race. It was all so cute.

Callum ran over to me to make sure that I didn’t run – because I had a baby in my tummy. So he sat next to me on the grass patting my wrist for the duration of the mum’s race. I’m not actually sure why he did that… maybe he knew how much I like to race and win. Haha what a cute kid.

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9 November 2008

Doodle of Sean

It’s been a while since I’ve picked up a pen and doodled.

I used to doodle a lot. I used to find it relaxing and soothing. I could do it for hours and hours, filling page after page in my notebooks.

This is a picture of my 3.5yo, Sean, his light saber and his funny way of gesturing OK.

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Making Baby 3, Pregnancy Week 6: I am an Eating Machine

7 November 2008

I’ve been eating SO MUCH these last few days! I’ve found that it soothes my morning sickness.

I have to eat every 2 hours, or I’ll throw up. Where ever I am, what ever I am doing, when my stopwatch approaches 1 hr 58mins, my stomach will start to rumble with hunger.

So I have made lots of provisions. I have emergency snacks stashed in the car and handbag. Chocolate, muesli bars, apples, bananas, nuts, fruit bars. I have to carry food everywhere.

I eat small, frequent meals now.

The good new is that I’m off the hormone medication, but I still have all-day nausea and dizziness.

Altogether, the morning sickness, the lack of exercise, all this eating, the sudden weight gain, has been making me feel really, really terrible. I’ve been trying to keep myself busy, which also helps.

If there’s any comfort in all this, it’s knowing that my general crapiness indicates that the pregnancy is still progressing and baby is growing and developing as normal!

Click here to see the whole story of Making Baby 3.

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Daily Earrings 6-11-2008

6 November 2008

Cute Flower Earring

These have to be my favourite earrings this season. I’ve been wearing them everywhere! With jeans. With dresses. They are just so cute!

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Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins

5 November 2008

Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins

When I bake, I usually try to use organic ingredients, less sugar, and healthier alternatives. But today I decided to throw it all out the window.

I was very keen to try out a muffin recipe that was a bit sweeter, richer and basically, something delicious I could serve at a tea party and make people sigh with delight.

This recipe is based on Ainsley Harriott’s Raspberry and White Chocolate Recipe. I used organic white self-raising flour instead of his suggested baking powder and plain flour.

300g self-raising flour
150g golden caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
225ml milk
50g butter, melted
100g fresh raspberries
75g chopped white chocolate

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Cut greaseproof paper into 15cmx15cm squares and push, creasing the paper to fit, into a muffin tin.

2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and stir in the sugar. Crack the egg into a separate bowl and whisk in the vanilla extract, milk and melted butter.

3. Stir the liquid into the dry ingredients with the raspberries and chocolate. Take care not to over-mix, no more than 10-15 strokes.

4. Spoon the mixture into the cases and bake for 30 minutes or so until well risen and just firm.

Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins

I put half the mixture in the self-made muffin cases and the other half in regular muffin cases. I couldn’t decide which cases made the muffins look better, but I can confidently say that everyone at my tea party wanted a copy of the recipe!

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Melbourne Cup 2008

4 November 2008

Melbourne Cup Carnival 2008

In Australia we have an annual event called the Melbourne Cup Carnival. It is basically just a big horse race held in Melbourne, on the first Tuesday of November.

But it is a time honoured Australian tradition, as the whole nation gears up for a day of stopping work, dressing up, betting, partying, and drinking.

For the ladies, there’s a strong tradition of fashion – if you’re going to a Cup Event, wearing a gorgeous spring dress and a headpiece of some sort is an absolute MUST.

So of course, the shops are filled with pretty spring dresses, amazing hats, and expensive fascinators (headpieces) made of feathers, beads, ribbons, lace and flowers.

A couple of weeks ago, I was looking around for a nice dress to wear to a Melbourne Cup Event. I must’ve tried on heaps of dresses, but I didn’t find one that I liked. It probably worked out for the best, because in my present condition, I am definitely too sick to go out drinking and partying!

Bigger images are at my Doing The Karen Cheng Facebook Group!

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Snails for Breakfast

3 November 2008

Plate of Snails

We have a snail problem in our garden.

As we don’t believe in snail pellets, my husband and I were on a mission.

After a few consecutive hot days, we woke up early one morning and turned on the garden sprinklers. A little later, we went for a walk picking up every snail we could find.

We collected dozens in a dirty bucket. Then tipped them onto a dinner plate.

Ugh. I felt myself feeling ill as they squirmed around in slow motion.

My husband reminded me that snails are a delicacy in some places. And I ate a witchetty grub (an Australian tree caterpillar) last year.

I tried to imagine them sautéd with a bit of garlic, butter and parsley, but I couldn’t stomach it.

My Boys and a Plateful of Snails

The boys were utterly fascinated and delighted by them. I loved how they were not grossed-out by them.

They too saw the plate and instantly gasped, “IS THIS OUR BREAKFAST??”

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Halloween in the Park 2008

2 November 2008

Halloween in the Park 2008

For Halloween this year, a group of us organised a party and picnic in a local park. It was mainly for the children to dress up, get together and play after school. We decided not to go door knocking, pumpkin making or any of the typical Halloween traditions, as Halloween is not widely practiced in Australia.

After struggling with his snacks, my 5.5yo decided that the Hulk probably didn’t eat carrot sticks and French onion dip.

Halloween in the Park 2008