Archive for October 2009

 

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When I was a kid…

30 October 2009

Rock Cars

My mother used to tell me stories about “when she was a child”.

She grew up in a family of 10 children, and never had any money for toys. She and her sisters used to play with “dolls” which were actually sticks wrapped up in scraps of cloth. They used to collect bottle tops, glass jars, marbles, wood, broken furniture, and other bits of rubbish by the side of the road, and turn them into toys and games.

Of course, I re-tell my children these same stories.

I inflict them with the WOODEN STICK DOLL STORY, whenever my children whinge “Muuuuum I’m boooooored!”

Then there’s the story of when grandpa was a kid. Did you know he had to walk for MILES in the snow… in shoes that were too small for his feet… and he had to cut off the front of the shoe to make room for his toes!

Or the one where grandma’s family had 12 PEOPLE LIVING IN ONE SMALL HOUSE the size of our garage!

Then of course, I just had to throw my own stories into the mix, just so that they have ample ammunition for THEIR OWN CHILDREN in the future.

“Did you know my sister and I never played computer games. We’d spend all day climbing trees and swinging on vines in the jungle behind our house. We would make secret hideouts. And we would even draw on rocks and sticks and turn them into play things.”

So the other day, what do you know… I stumbled across my children playing with these rock cars.


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Daily Outfit: A Spring Wedding

29 October 2009

Daily Outfit Spring WeddingDeciding what to wear for a wedding is always tricky – unless, of course, you are the one getting married.

It’s even more tricky when the wedding is held in a hot afternoon, following by a reception-dinner til midnight.

Trying to dress for hot and cold weather gives me such a headache.

Not to mention, my outfit had to be “nursing friendly”, as I needed to breast feed my baby.

I had to find something that could:

1) Look good as day wear and evening wear,

2) Look somewhat Spring-ish and formal,

3) Had to look good with a jacket (because I hate the cold and mosquitoes!)

This is what I came up with.

A floral top from Review. Dusky pink tulip mini skirt from Forever New. Black jacket. And some moderately fierce shoes from Betts.

I also had a white flower accessory in my hair, but it didn’t make it to the wedding, because my baby yanked it off and ate it.

So I decided to use my baby as my fashion accessory instead – it’s very trendy these days (unless you’re the one getting married!).

He was cute as can be, and very well behaved until he puked up on my jacket!!


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The Long and Short Of It

28 October 2009

Passport Photo from 1999In the last week or so, a lot of people have written to me regarding my *deliberation* on whether to get a drastic hair cut.

Well once upon a time, I did have short hair.

This is what I looked like in 1998 – I was 20. Don’t you love the passport photo?

One day, eleven years ago, my hair was long and straight, and I suddenly thought – IT’S TIME.

I walked into a hair salon in Singapore, and said, I’d like a bob thanks.

The hairdresser, who was a lovely, young Singaporean man said, “Eh? Bob? Wah?””

And I was like, “Eh? Do you speak English? Bob! Short! Cut it all off!”

He then spent 15 minutes trying to talk me out of it.

But I waved my hands around saying, “No no! I’ve already thought about it! My love life is going no where! I need a holiday! I need a change! Cut it off! All! Now!“

He was so nice to me after that.

He actually cut it a bit shorter and sleeker than in the picture here – longer at the front and shorter at the back.

Anyway, it was the shortest I ever had my hair. Everyone said it looked great on me, that it made me look taller and my neck look longer.

But it took me AGES to get used to using a SMALL amount of shampoo when washing my hair. I’d get into the shower, squirt a HUGE GLOB into my palm, and think ARGH TOO MUCH! And try to squeeze the shampoo back into the bottle. So, short hair =  little shampoo.

And all the blow drying and styling was annoying. I couldn’t just wake up, tie my hair back in a ponytail and go. I had to use so much product to stop myself from looking like a bear.

And then I had to visit my hairdresser every 4 weeks for a trim. It was so expensive to maintain.

Me, 1998 or 1999 - cant remember!
This is me in 1998 or 1999, I can’t actually remember. The other person in the picture is my little sister, and she was feeling very blurry that day. Hi Sis!

I think I kept my hair short for about a year. I tried a few variations of this length – the “Posh” bob, a more jagged bob, wispy ends that curled up, ends that curled in, and a few different shades. Then I got bored with it.

I was tempted to cut it REALLY short, and try the whole cute pixie-look, or spiky biker-chick look! But I didn’t like the idea of being mistaken for a guy. Hey, that might’ve been kind of interesting! Being a biker chick, that is.

And then I really, really wanted to dye it pink, blue or purple, just for fun.

But in the end, I was very busy with work, so I just decided to slowly grow it out again.

Mind you, it looked terrible for ages! I looked like a school girl until it grew to about shoulder length.

And my hair has been long past my shoulders ever since, and getting longer and longer.

So there you have it.

The very short history of my not-so-short hair.


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Fashion Find: FashionWA

27 October 2009

During the Perth Fashion Festival, I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely girls behind FashionWA.com.

I attended their official launch party and I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of something that strives to increase the profile of WA (West Australian) fashion, and gives back to the industry.

The website is an online fashion shop showcasing up-and-coming WA fashion designers, and especially the “harder to find” labels. It also has a section where you can read various WA designer profiles.

There is a LOT of good stuff in there, but here are a few that especially caught my eye.

FashionWA - pinchandspoon

Exclusive silk garments by Pinch and Spoon

FashionWA - Alister Yiap

Art Deco Jewellery Collection by Alister Yiap

FashionWA - Generics and Martini + Coz

Handbags by Generics Accessories (left) and Fringe Handbag by Martini + Coz (right).

Other designers include ANOUSHKA, Carly Hunter, ELEMENTREE, Generics Accessories, GOSPEL, Luxe by JJ, Malachi Alister Yiap, Martini + Coz, Paper Skye, PetticoatMINX, pinchandspoon, STAND International, Story by Tang, Tu.

Do pop on over to FashionWA.com and take a peek!

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Fashion and Shopping Directory.


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Day Trip To the City

26 October 2009

Day Trip To The City

During the school holidays, I decided to embrace the fact that I was now a mother of three kids. I was possessed by SUPER KAREN, brought on by my own boredom and a need to get out of the house.

So what did I do? I brought all my children out on a day trip, BY MYSELF.

You see, usually when I take all the kids out for a special outing, I am never by myself. Either my husband, my mother, or friends are with me.

Sure, I have taken ALL THREE KIDS out to the shops, library, or park by myself. But these are all places they are familiar with. They know how to behave in a shopping centre or a park. And I know exactly what to prepare for.

But how will they behave while walking along a crowded jetty? What will they do when they see open windows on a moving ferry? How will I get them to cross a busy city road inside a swarm of people? And how will I be able to find a public toilet in the city at 2 minutes notice?

Well I guess I was going to find out!

Day Trip To The City

We caught a ferry into the city. It was the first time my kids have been on a boat travelling over a large body of water.

And oh look, there was only ONE OF ME there. If the ferry were to sink, I’d have to save ALL THREE KIDS by myself!

I took mental note of the positions of the lifejackets and quickest exit points. I worked out that I would have to grab one kid under each arm, and throw the other a life-ring that I would tie to my waist….

Thankfully the trip only took 7 minutes, the ferry did not sink, and I was saved from my own *insane, extreme and imaginary scenarios of disaster* that inflict mothers worldwide. Or is it just me?

Day Trip To The City

At one point during our walk, I plonked my baby under the pram for a rest and stretch, because I couldn’t find a spot of shade. All was ok, until he rolled over and started to lick the wheels. I looked down at him and thought, oh well… I’m sure a bit of grit will be good for his digestion.

We walked around all day, sight-seeing and exploring. We sat in the Supreme Court Gardens, ate lunch and enjoyed the sunshine.

Day Trip To The City

My kids behaved like perfect angels for the whole day. I had a brilliant day. I was completely NOT STRESSED. I was beaming with a relaxed glow. I could feel my bones soften, and my heart rate plod along at what I like to call, Ice Cream Speed.

Chips for lunch? Sure. Ice cream? Go for it. Whatever. Enjoy.

While I praised the kids for their wonderful behaviour, I made sure I didn’t over do it. Good behaviour should be a norm, not a special event.

But I must admit, I teased them a bit – Hey! Aren’t you going to nag me about who’s going to hold the ferry ticket? I haven’t heard any fighting! Give me some fighting! Argue about who’s standing closest to the pram right now! Give me a tantrum about the wrong ice cream flavour! C’mon, let’s hear some whinging!

My kids rolled their eyes at me, and said in a mock sensible tone, “Excuse me mum, but we’re going to have a good day today if you don’t mind.”

Gotta love em.


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Daily Outfit: Fur and Pearls

23 October 2009

Daily Outfit: Fur and PearlsI picked up this fabulous fur coat a few weeks ago.

I was browsing through a second hand, designer, vintage sale and spotted it. I fell in love with it and it was an absolute bargain!

I guess you can say that I’m trying to extend my wardrobe by buying more statement items.

A great fur coat goes a long way – it’s classic and timeless. It teams up wonderfully with pearls, satins, black lace, neutral silks, fire engine red, floral etc etc.

I’ve always loved the look and feel of fur – but can’t bring myself to wear REAL FUR.

It’s the eco-hippy-chick in me.

I love the idea of bamboo fabrics, vegan leathers, recycled materials, sustainable processes and no animal cruelty.

BUT THEN, I wear leather shoes.

And I love a good lamb chop.

Not to mention the countless other animals and animal by-products I eat, as an Asian person.

So I can’t hide behind the eco-chick thing. And yes, this coat is not made from real fur.

Anyway, I wore this outfit to a fashion event last month. It was a cold, wet evening, pouring with rain, windy and just horrible to be out and about – but with my fur coat… aaaahhh, I was snug as a bug.

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Fashion and Shopping Directory.


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M&M Cookie Recipe

22 October 2009

M&M Cookies

I didn’t usually make super-sweet biscuits for my children. But the other day I thought, oh what the heck, I’ll bring out a family favourite.

I think the original recipe says to mix in LOTS of chocolate chips and M&M’s into the mixture – apparently the more the better. But I prefer to skip the choc chips altogether and have the M&M’s decorated on top. But that’s just me.

125g unsalted butter (at room temp)
½ cup caster sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lightly beaten egg
1 ¾ cups of SR Flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup of M&M’s

1. Preheat oven to 180C.

2. Use a electric mixer to beat butter, sugars, vanilla, until pale.

3. Add egg and beat well.

4. Sift in flour and salt, mix well with a spoon.

5. Use hands to press the dough together. Make into small balls and put on the tray with baking paper. Push them flat with your palm. Then decorate with M&M’s into the top.

6. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

7. Cool for 5 minutes. And I like to eat my cookies warm!

(I found this recipe on a forum years ago and I have no idea who to credit!)


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Long, Black, Thick and Straight

21 October 2009

I have been VERY BORED with my hair lately.

And you know what? I have been saying that for last 10 years.  I’m going through yet another “bored of my hair” phase.

What usually sets me off is when I meet another woman with rich, curly, red hair. Or short, wispy blond hair. Or someone with a sleek modern bob. Or gorgeous beach wave hair.

I think, SIIIIIGH. I wish I could have hair like that. Maybe I should do something DIFFERENT with my hair this time.

So I ask these women – what’s it like to have curly hair? Or short hair? Do you have to style it every day? How much product do you go through? How do you pin it up like that? Does it get frizzy? How often do you have to get it cut?

I talk to these women, and after a few minutes, I realise that ALL their lives they’ve wished that they could have LONG, STRAIGHT, THICK, BLACK HAIR LIKE MINE.

Surely we cannot ALL be victims of The Grass Is Greener Syndrome?

So I end up back at square one, and think, Bleh I’ll just keep it this way for a little longer.

The truth is, I keep my hair long, straight and black for practical reasons.

My hair is like a pet that I’ve been managing for the last 15 years. We have a good relationship going on. I treat it well, and it treats me well.

You see, I can get completely ready to go out in 45 minutes flat – I wash my hair, blow it dry, straighten it, cleanse my face, put on all my makeup, get my handbag assembled and get completely dressed in less than an hour. Including all those extra touches like a bit of anti-frizz serum in the tips of my hair and putting a touch of bronzing powder on my shoulders. I have it all down pat.

My hair doesn’t spring any surprises on me, because it’s predictable and very easy to manage.

And that’s all VERY IMPORTANT in the bigger picture of my life.

After all, I do have 2 young children and a baby, I am running a house, a marriage, a social life, and I’m keeping a blog on the side.

So if I need to go out, I can manage “my life” and “looking decent” very well thanks.

But every once in a while, there’s a part of me that craves for a bit of anarchy.

GIVE ME CURLS. GIVE ME TEXTURE. GIVE ME A DIFFERENT LOOK.

And my hair seems to be the easiest target.

Maybe it’s time to chop it all off, just past the ears. OK, maybe not. Maybe next time. Or maybe I’ll surprise you all… and myself… maybe.


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New Jewellery by Joveeba

20 October 2009

New Jewellery from Joveeba

Ok, it’s a bit embarrassing. I really adore fashion label Joveeba, and even more now that they’ve launched their new line of statement jewellery.

It features a new vintage collection – exclusive, one of a kind pieces, using lux vintage gold and materials. And a selection of limited edition pieces with crystals and laser cut Perspex gem shapes.

I was in touch with the designer behind the label, Alison Cotton, and she lent me a box full of goodies to play with, and to feature here – SO FUN!

Pictured above, I’m wearing an Enamel Feature Necklace (vintage) and Strung Out Neckpiece (limited edition).

New Jewellery from Joveeba

I think my favourite of the lot was the limited edition Miami Neckpiece (pictured left), with the Perspex, laser-cut gems. I love how it’s mixed up with the gold and assorted chains. Looks awesome against black.

On the right, I’m wearing the limited edition Glamazon Neckpiece with the vintage Boardwalk Necklace.

I had a swell time trying on the jewellery and throwing outfits together, and I went out that evening wearing the outfit on the left.

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Fashion and Shopping Directory.


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Weekend happiness is…

19 October 2009

Beach Toes

…Enjoying the sand between my toes, with my baby.


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Making Baby 3: My Super-Duper Pooper Trooper

16 October 2009

Liam - Almost 7 Months

Liam - Almost 7 months

My baby is almost 7 months now and he eats SOOOO MUUUUCH FOOOOD.

I seriously feel like I’m preparing food every single minute of the day.

Food for the baby. Food for the kids. Food for my husband and myself. Then oh look I need more food for the baby.

And when I’m not actually MAKING FOOD, I’m thinking about what food to make for the next meal. What’s for dinner tonight? What about tomorrow’s lunch? Leftovers? And morning tea? Do I have enough food for tomorrow? Baby will be hungry soon. If I make lunch for the kids NOW, they won’t nag me while I’m feeding the baby. But what am I going to eat? Because the baby wants food NOW!

ARGH.

This cooking thing? I’m so over it.

So the consequence of my baby eating so much food, is that he makes SOOOO MUUUUCH POOOOOO.

I am a 24/7 arse wiper. Always armed and ready with a wet wipe.

But moving right along…

Liam is at the pre-crawling stage.

He gets up on his hands and knees, wriggles back and forth, stretches and arches, squirms, rolls and plops… and after a few minutes, he’s moved to the OTHER SIDE OF THE MAT!

It’s not graceful, and it’s not fast, but he does manage to get what he wants.

He sleeps 11-12 hours through the night. 2-3 hours in the morning. And takes a little nap around 4pm.

His personality so far is still easy-going and placid. In the mornings he’s very dopey and blur. But after his morning nap, he’s bright as a button, hungry, noisy and very active.

He’s my very happy chappy (doing a whole lot of poo).


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Daily Outfit and Hair Troubles

15 October 2009

Daily Outfit and Hair TroublesI went to a fashion event the other evening.

I seriously had to get ready in 30 minutes. It was crazy! I had kids to round up, baby food to defrost, make-up to put on, a top to iron, and I also had to DO MY HAIR!

I put my hair up in an elusive “messy pony tail”.

You see, I almost always wear my hair straight and sleek.

And if one hair is out of place, it looks WRONG – it has to go with a YANK!

Go the whole way, or none at all, I say.

So instead of the agony of making it all sleek, I bundled all my hair back with a black tie, ruffled it up a bit, and man, it felt great. Messy rocks.

When I got to the event, I felt like I had arrived on a motorbike. I felt like I was with the band. I felt like saying to people, “Do I look like I give a damn?”.

In fact, a guy spent a lot of time chatting me up that evening, and I suspect it was because of the “just been shagged” hair look.

Haha and while I don’t mind being chatted up, I guess I’m liking the whole messy hair style and I think I might keep it for a while.

Picture: I was in such a rush, I didn’t put on my accessories for the pic!

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Fashion and Shopping Directory.


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Modern Entertaining from Pink Frosting

14 October 2009

Modern Entertaining from Pink Frosting

I received an email from a reader, Kathryn and she told me about her online business, Pink Frosting. The moment I saw it, I was ITCHING to tell all my friends about her site.

I love hosting parties and entertaining, and I know heaps of other women, who like me, get right into the whole hostess-with-the-mostest spirit. Whether it’s dinner parties, kid’s parties, bridal showers, baby showers, special occasions – heh it’s just so much fun!

Pink Frosting is jam packed with amazing finds for contemporary entertaining, wedding decorations, party favours, party inspiration, and much more. It’s a great place to start looking for ideas for your next party.

In the photo above, I chose some favour boxes from the site. We had a little dinner party and thought – I may as well use them. The boxes came in a flat pack, all pre-cut with fold scorings, ready to be assembled. They even came with bits of ribbon, all cut at the right lengths. It was too easy.

We filled them with little biscuits I made, and they looked great on my black satin table cloth.

Modern Entertaining from Pink Frosting

They have an amazing selection of personalised wedding favours. From personalised mints, bandaids in cute containers, to beautiful water bottle stickers, hand creams, lip balms and little bottles of sun cream (pictured above).

Modern Entertaining from Pink Frosting

Other cute items include novelty place card holders. From miniature grand pianos, old-style lamp posts, to beach thongs, bbq webers, shells, little gumball machines and silver table ornaments.

Modern Entertaining from Pink Frosting

And lastly, lots of inspiration for wedding favours and bombonieres.

Next up on my to-do list – yes I know it’s a bit scary – I want to plan a Christmas party!

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Fashion and Shopping Directory.


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Ten Years Of Blogging

13 October 2009

Ten years ago, in 1999, I published the first ever version of my website. Since I receive so many emails from people asking me how I got started, what software I use, and if I make any money, I thought this would be a good opportunity to reflect on a decade of blogging!

Please be warned, this is quite a long post, because it is covering a whole decade!

Beginnings
My first ever glimpse of the impending Internet world was at high school in 1995. I studied a subject called “Applied Computing”. My teacher told me about “e-mail” and how you can send messages from one computer to another – I thought she was kidding! I had no idea that computers – in different locations – could be connected to each other.

It is a good example of how amazingly fast the Internet developed that only four years later, I published my own website.

Although I was addicted to IRC chat and message boards while studying design and advertising at university, it was not until 1999, that I taught myself how to make a website, in order to show off my portfolio of work.

I was 21. I was single, irresponsible, a spoilt rich kid, emotionally insecure, in and out of relationships, a creative but naïve young woman, working in the crazy rat race of advertising – and I was trying to find happiness.

I became absolutely OBSESSED with the Internet and all things related to personal websites.

I would spend literally 20 hours a day online, sleeping at 4am, and then waking at 8am to check my email, before breakfast! Personal websites were like an underground community – running rampant with page counters, guestbooks, comment boxes, link-backs, webrings, countless internet awards, and small and large online groups.

I was astounded that I could get to know people living in the US, UK, Europe and Asia – people who had the same interests as I did, living similar lives, but all over the world. It was all very, very exciting. I loved the fact that I could communicate directly with my readers. And for it to happen in real time, was pretty amazing. In the early days, I had a hit counter on my site. I was thrilled when 100 people visited my site in a day!

My

My site in 1999, was essentially an online portfolio, with lots of extra information about me. I had lots of different sections for my resume, photos, contacts, my likes and dislikes. The most popular section was my “Soapbox”. It was like a daily news section, where I updated every day and I ran it like an e-zine.

Becoming Popular
Things started to take off when my website began to get featured in some newspapers, and I won some web awards. From there, it spread by word of mouth – and word of internet. People online and offline were telling their friends about my site. My readership grew and grew, which was completely unexpected to me.

I think one of the main reasons my blog developed a strong following is because I am a designer. I wanted to create a unique experience for my readers. I was very interested in visual communication and interface design. I was meticulous with its presentation and style. I loved experimenting with my visual layout (eg. 3 columns vs 2 columns vs 1) and I always analysed how (and why) others were doing it, and set out to do things differently.

I hand-coded my whole site. I created all my graphics and images myself. I took photos, sent them to be developed (yes, it was all on film back then!), scanned them in (so slow!), and photo edited them.

I also really enjoyed writing in a “personal voice” – seeing how voice and identity could be crafted with words and pictures, and how it affected the overall feel of the site. My focus was always to tell a great story, or share a feeling, or a moment, in a way that left readers feeling refreshed.

The effect of all of this is that my blog has unique content, and that content is presented in a distinctive way, making for an experience that cannot be found anywhere else.

wp_screen

This is what I see in the WordPress software I use to manage my blog: 1,313 post…and that’s just since 2003!

How Blogging has Changed in Ten Years
The Internet is HUGE now. Back in 1999, it was small, but growing rapidly. And there was no spam or advertising on it. The Internet was like a cool café then, with a nice atmosphere, where you might bump into friends. Now, the Internet and blogs are part of the “social-media” phenomenon where everyone is connected to everyone else and everything by so many different software and devices that it feels like everyone in the whole world is shouting out at the same time. And advertising is EVERYWHERE!

The Internet is FAST now. Back in 1999, most of my posts didn’t have a picture at all, and if they did, the picture was the size of what is now called a “thumbnail” image. Remember, this was in the days of “dial-up” modems that made that awful “screeeeech-boing-boing-boing” noise. Your service provider cut the connection if you weren’t actively surfing, so you had to re-connect if you stopped to read something long and interesting. Sometimes, your service provider would cut you off in the middle of a big file upload, to remind you that bandwidth was PRECIOUS. So people were very careful about what they uploaded, and what they clicked on.

Digital cameras, combined with faster bandwidth, have made high quality photos an important part of the internet, and my blog too, because digital is so easy and cheap compared to film. As a result, I have had to improve the standard of my photography a lot over the years, a challenge I really enjoy. But I still choose images very, very carefully. One good image is worth a thousand words, but fifty well chosen words is much better than any bad picture.

I’ve used the very popular “Wordpress” software to manage my blog since 2007. Before that, I hand-coded every post in HTML.

I do all my photo editing with Photoshop. I customize my blog interface by coding my own CSS templates. I store all my images on Flickr, so I don’t have to pay for serving out all the images. And I am still using the same computer I bought in 2002 (with the money I was supposed to use to buy my engagement ring).

Upside of Being a 10 Year old Blogger
One of the best things about having been online for so long, is feeling like I’m talking to a huge bunch of girlfriends, and I love it. I know that I have quite a few male readers, but they never email me. Come on guys, don’t be shy!

Almost everyday I get email from people who thank me for the words and pictures I share, and say they are inspired by my attitude and outlook on life. This is really, really rewarding. It keeps me going. I take all these things to heart, and I find them both fulfilling, and humbling.

Because of my large readership, I can draw attention to issues I believe are important.

I also get asked to support or endorse various entities or products. People offer to fly me to places to do stuff that would undoubtedly be a very cool experience. But I have an even more important job – I am mother to three little children…so I almost never go. Maybe one day!

Downside of being a 10 year blogger
The biggest downside of having such a large readership is being unable to reply to all the email that comes in. Everyday my inbox is filled up, and everyday, I’m really saddened that I can’t speak to each person individually.

After 10 years of having my email address on the internet, it is now on a huge number of spamming lists. Everyday, I delete literally dozens of emails offering me the opportunity to have my sex organs enlarged, to buy insanely cheap drugs or watches, to get rich by helping Nigerian royalty move their money to a safe place, and to marry lonely Russian super-babes with exotic names. It is so bad I am considering changing my e-mail address. But I like being “karen” at “karencheng.com.au”, so I stick with it, even though the word “delete” is getting worn off the “delete” key on my keyboard.

In the last couple of years, marketing people have decided that the best way to get something for nothing is to offer free stuff to bloggers. Thus, I get endless offers to try out mind-control medication on my children, weirdly flavoured mineral water, cosmetics that will take 15 years off my age, etc, etc. At first, I thought all these friendly emails from marketing people meant that they really loved me, and they promised to only send me stuff that was relevant to me, but now they send me anything they are trying to promote. Argh!

The strangest thing to happen to me because of blogging is being a (very minor) celebrity. I still haven’t gotten used to being spotted in the streets or at the shops. But I am slowly getting better at talking to complete strangers, who walk up to me and say: “Oh my God! You’re Karen Cheng!!” Since I am actually quite shy with people I don’t know, these moments are often awkward for me, especially when I am holding a baby with a pooey nappy, a tin of mixed beans and a cauliflower, and I am dressed in an old tracksuit.

The Next Ten Years?
In late 1999, I was living the high-life in the peak of the dot-com boom. Then, in rapid succession, I fell in love, travelled a lot, got made redundant in the dot-com crash, got married, and then had my first son.

My life was a dream till my husband had cancer. It was a year of doubt, fear, surgery, chemotherapy, more surgery, and praying. We were very, very lucky that he was successfully treated. While all that was happening, I had my second son. I was 26 by then. Life seemed so much more precious, and my blog has become even more of a celebration of the everyday moments of life.

So, after ten years, and thousands of readers everyday, what am I going to do?

I have invested 10 years of my life into blogging. I don’t know if most of my readers will ever realise how much of my day-to-day life it takes up. It takes a real discipline to post five times a week, each one with original content, and this continues to be a challenge for me, and doubly so with three kids.

Things have come to a point where I was investing so much into my site, that I had to decide on it’s future, and my future. I had to decide to give it up to pursue a more regular career, or try to make an income from blogging.

So I am now what bloggers call a “Pro-Blogger”, which means that I am trying to make an income from my blog. My mission is to show my readers things that they might actually be interested in, without bothering them with advertising spam. I want to keep my blog as a really nice place to come to. I’m still working out how to do this, and I regard it as a long-term project. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Something that will always stay the same for me is that I will keep blogging about the things that I love and that inspire me. Beautiful things, and important things. I have became very interested in increasing cancer awareness and research (a very important topic), and fashion (also a very important topic, but in a different way).

So I’m looking forward to the adventure of the next ten years!


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When The Lights Go Out

12 October 2009

One afternoon, we had a blackout. All the houses in our street were left without electricity and lights. Where we live, it’s pretty uncommon for this to happen, however, we always have an emergency stash of candles and torches, just in case.

I called the electricity company, and was told that the power would be restored in “several hours, later in the evening”. OMG what were we going to do for 4-5 hours IN THE EVENING WITH NO POWER!?

I decided to just run with what life threw us, and turn it into some kind of special occasion.

Black out

I lit candles all around the house – on a table in our a dark hallway, in the toilet, in the kitchen and dining areas. And made sure I taught my children about fire safety.

Thankfully my stovetop is gas, so I managed to cook dinner – in the dark!

So we also ate dinner – in the dark!

We sat in the lounge room, telling stories about the olden days, when there was NO ELECTRICITY – a time when people talked, played games, told stories and played musical instruments and SANG for fun.

Our little family hung around and talked in the candlelight. We could hear the sounds of birds and frogs outside. The boys were very excited and happy, but in a very calm way.

I accepted that I wasn’t going to do any work on the computer, or watch tv, or even read in the candlelight. I could feel my body clock slowly winding down into a relaxed lull. I really liked it.

And it was ONLY 7:30pm!!!

Unfortunately, while I was sitting in the dark, imagining many years of life without electricity… the lights flicked back on, our entertainment system bleeped, the fridge hummed, our alarm system shrilled, the answering machine restarted – and my world was filled with noise again.

I was actually very disappointed!

(But I still had my computer on two minutes after the boys went to bed!)



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Daily Outfit 09-10-09

9 October 2009

Daily OutfitThe other week, I met up with a good friend by the river.

We both pushed our babies in prams, while we nattered about everything and anything.

The weather was SPECTACULAR!

It was just so enjoyable and relaxing.

And it was nice to hang out, completely forget about our responsibilities, and enjoy the morning.

Not to mention, we were supposed to be “walking briskly” for some cardio exercise! Hence the very casual sporty look.

Jeans are from Country Road. Grey top from Target. Black sweater is from Esprit.

My baby is wearing jeans I bought at an op-shop for $1.50.

And a cute alien hoodie, which was a gift.

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Fashion and Shopping Directory.


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Sassisam for Pink Ribbon (and Christmas!)

8 October 2009

I absolutely love that the whole of October is dedicated to Breast Cancer Awareness. Everything is PINK! Everyone is donating money for cancer research! And everybody’s getting on board – I reckon it’s just marketing genius!

October also means that it’s only 2 months til Christmas (eeek!). So over the next few months, I’m going to be featuring lots of products that make great gifts for your girlfriends, boyfriends and yourself!

First up, Sassisam have a nice selection of quality Pink Ribbon products, where part of the profits go to help Breast Cancer awareness and research.

Here are some of my favourites:

Products from Sassisam

Aluminium eco-water bottles and Damask Card Case.
Products from Sassisam

Pink Ribbon Card Case and Keyring of Hope (includes charms)

Products from Sassisam

Pink Ribbon FOB Keyring and Damask Compact (silver-plated double mirror).

xox Enjoy!

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Fashion and Shopping Directory.


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A Bit of Creativity

7 October 2009

Sean's Boardgame

The other day, my second son Sean and I sat down to do a bit of craft.

I thought we were going to make rocket ships or something equally dull… but instead, he led me through an interactive board game he created on the spot, with slippery slides, magic portals, booby traps, and colour-changing whirlwinds.

There was no dice, just little bits of paper with numbers and icons, which matched places on the board. Some bits didn’t make any sense, it was just mad and amazing at the same time.

I tell you, he has a brain that is too big for is little head. He’s just full of the most bizarre and out-of-this-world ideas, with no way to explain all of it.

I found it wonderful and deeply fascinating, because I have always thought that my eldest child was the “creative” one – since he was so good at drawing and communicating his ideas visually.

I remember waiting to see whether my second child was also “creative” in that same way. But I discovered that it doesn’t always work that way.

There are all kinds of creativity, and it turns out that my eldest is “creative in the details”.

Whereas my second child is “creative in a bigger picture” kind of way.

I love watching them play and work together.

Sean will always be the one who comes up with a new and weird idea for a game (most times it’s something naughty, as Sean has never had an issue with disregarding previously stated rules), and Callum (who completely lives for rules and order) will flesh out the details for the game to make it work, so they don’t get into trouble.

They make a great little team.

But can you imagine them as teenagers and young men! The amount of trouble they’ll get up to! Argh!


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Abi and Joseph

6 October 2009

Fashion Find: Abi and Joseph

I recently discovered a brand called Abi and Joseph, that specialises in quality, comfortable, active wear for pilates, yoga, general exercise, and travelling.

I contacted them and they agreed to let me review some of their garments. I was really excited when I received the package, because I had read lots of outstanding reviews on the internet.

I put on the first outfit (pictured above) and it felt amazing. The quality of the fabric was fantastic – strong, stretchy, very, very soft and comfortable.

I have to admit that I usually just buy cheap active wear, and after two seasons, the elastic wears out, the edges buckle, the material starts to pill and I always wonder why I don’t spend a bit more on quality products.

So this was probably the first time I’ve worn active wear that was so high in quality and comfort.

Pictured above, I’m wearing a Short Sleeve Ballet Wrap Top (this was my favourite piece). I loved its cut, softness, and versatility – you can tie the straps behind and wear it as a cardigan, or wear in a bolero style. Or tie the knots on the side, or front.

I’m also wearing an Essentials Innerwear Camisole and Slim Fit Yoga Pants. The cami paired up very nicely with the ballet wrap top. Couldn’t wait to hit the gym!

Fashion Find: Abi and Joseph

On the left, I’m wearing a Delux Wrap Top. This was also one of my favourites. It was so soft, comfy, swishy, drapey, snuggly and versatile – that I wore it for the rest of the day. I seriously just sat on my couch, wrapping the draping collar up against my neck and going aaaaaahhh.

I’m wearing it with a Pilates Bra, which was surprisingly comfortable, especially since I don’t like bra tops. And lovely Cotton 4/5 Leggings.

On the right, I’m wearing the same Delux Wrap Top, this time tied up at the back. I’m wearing the same Pilates Bra with a very nice (and long) Essentials Tank on top.

I know all these garments are supposed to be ACTIVE WEAR, but I could have happily fallen asleep in any of these outfits – which is probably why they’re great for travelling. I’m looking forward to trying them out on a plane. And they make great gifts too!

Abi and Joseph have free delivery within Australia for all purchases over AU$180.00. They are also offering free shipping on all orders to Singapore over AU$200. And subscribers receive10% discount on their first purchase!

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Fashion and Shopping Directory.


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Weekend: Making Cupcakes

5 October 2009

Weekend: Making Cupcakes

Weekend: Making Cupcakes

It’s the school holidays here in Perth, and thought I’d share a great little recipe you can make with the kids.

Usually, I never let the kids fill the cupcake cases, because they make SUCH A MESS! But this time I scooped the mixture into a clean zip-lock bag, snipped a corner off, and handed it to the kids. They had a great time pretending to be factory-working, cake-squirting robots. And they still made a mess. Oh well.

This recipe was so easy to make, it’s a wonder why I ever bought packet-mixtures!

Chocolate-Chip Cupcakes

2 cups SR Flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup castor sugar
125g softened butter
2 eggs
¾ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
½ cup of choc chips (broken bits of chocolate)

1) Preheat oven at 200C.

2) Sift flour, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl.

3) Add butter, eggs, milk, vanilla essence and chocolate chips. Use an electric beater and mix for 1 minute on a SLOW speed.

4) Beat at MEDIUM speed for 2 minutes.

5) Fill cupcake cases. Bake for 10-15 minutes until centre springs back when gently touched.


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Vintage Green

2 October 2009

Vintage Green

I have always loved “the vintage look”.

I enjoy art history and fashion history, so I really appreciate the aesthetic of styles from different eras.

But I know it doesn’t quite suit me.

I just can’t seem to wear a 1950s polka dot dress and feel great. It’s just not me.

What I like to do instead, is to team up vintage pieces with modern clothes – to make it feel a bit more contemporary.

I visited a few op shops the other week. Unfortunately, Perth does not boast of any great op shops. I spent a lot of time looking, but with very low yeild.

I did find this fabulous green pencil skirt for $2. It was in great condition, lined and it fit me perfectly!

I also have an old LV briefcase handed down to me by my Aunty.

I mixed it with a cute cap sleeved top from Cue. Satin heels from Zu. And freshwater pearls.

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Fashion and Shopping Directory.


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Mountain Climbing in Scotland

1 October 2009

Mountain Climbing on Ben More, in Scotland

In 2002, my husband and I travelled around Scotland and the UK.

One of my favourite memories was climbing up Ben More (means “great mountain”), the tallest mountain on the Isle of Mull, West coast of Scotland.

We spent close to 8 hours walking, hiking and climbing on all kinds of grassy, rocky, muddy, icy surfaces.

When we reached the top – with the elevation of 3000 feet – we looked down and the world below was covered in a white carpet of clouds. It was magical.

In the photo above, I was contributing to a “cairn”, a small pile of rocks, that marked the summit of another lower lying adjacent mountain.

As we walked down the other side of the mountains, we would slide, like crazy teenagers, down hills of loose grey pebbles, for metres at a time, jamming our shoes deep into the ground to find our footing.

Mountain Climbing on Ben More, in Scotland

Here, we were half way down the mountain.

As we walked, we watched the weather clear up around us. We took little breaks to just sit on the grass, talking, laughing and just watching the elements transform in front of our eyes.

It was just amazing. And it was one of the best days of my life.