Archive for February 2010

 

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A Little Bit of Double Happiness

26 February 2010

Chinese New Year 2010 - Karen ChengEarly this week, my 7 year old VOLUNTEERED ME to give a presentation about Chinese New Year to his school class.

Apparently he thought that I knew everything there is to know about the subject of being Chinese.

Now. This whole thing is rather funny for the people who know me.

Because… I know CLOSE TO NOTHING about Chinese New Year, except the things my family practice, which – for a long time – I have waved off as being silly, daggy, folky stuff.

I can’t even speak Chinese! Cantonese or Mandarin!

No, wait. I can say, “Ni Hao! Wo Ai Ni!” which means, “Hello! I love you!” And a few swear words of course.

So sure enough, the night before it was due, I was cutting and pasting from Wikipedia and Googling for images to finish my primary school homework! How humiliating!

To make matters worse… there are 8 kids in my son’s class who are actually ethnically Chinese, from China, Singapore and Malaysia, who probably know how to speak more Chinese than me!

And they probably also knew MORE about the traditions, customs, meanings and stories surrounding Chinese New Year.

And crap, it would be terribly embarrassing if they blew my cover.

So. I decided to take on a bit of Chinese Aunty credibility by wearing my bright red cheong sum. It was a kind of dress that said – All Hail The Chinese Woman! Don’t cross her path or she’ll whip out her invisible flying swords! That’ll teach those pesky kids with difficult questions!

Then I thought, Oh god, how embarrassing is this going to be? I’m going to walk across the school yard dressed like this, and everyone is going to think I’m the local expert on all things Chinese! They are going to invite me to school cultural dinners and other classroom talks and they are going to parade me in front of everyone and make me say things in Chinese (“Wo Ai Ni Everyone!”) and give out char siew bows (roast pork buns)! Eeeek! What am I getting myself into!?

Anyway.

That morning, at home, before the presentation, my 7 year old said to me,

“Mum I like your dress. But your split is so high, I think I can see your knickers.”

“WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?! This split is NOT HIGH! Look! You can’t see my knickers!!”

And my husband had the cheek to say “If you don’t want people to see your knickers, maybe you shouldn’t wear any?”

GAH! MEN!

Despite everything, the presentation went wonderfully well.

I started by saying “Ni Hao! That’s what Chinese people say for hello!”

Oh I could barely stand the irony of it all! I sounded just like a children’s TV show host.

I brought props like Ang Pows, two oranges (my local fruit store didn’t sell mandarins), pictures of a lion dance and I even had print-outs for everyone of a Chinese Zodiac Chart with all the animals and dates – which I had to make myself in Photoshop.

The Chinese kids seemed really happy that their classmates were learning about things they already knew about.

I had one Chinese kid say, “We call them HONG BAOS not ANG POWS.” And I explained to everyone that Chinese have different dialects, and how they both mean the same thing – red packet.

And the teacher goes “Wow, are you a Chinese language teacher?”

(Oh the sweet sweet irony.)

And some other Chinese kid said, “What’s that thing that adults do… for lots of happiness? My mum told me about it. It’s all mixed up?”

I double blinked and paused… as I tried to find an answer to his question by sifting through the flashing images of “mixed-up adult behavior”… none of which was suitable for discussion in a primary school classroom.

Then I said, “UH. Maybe she told you about the fish salad??? They serve this special fish salad, and all the adults reach into the center of the table and toss it with chop sticks, and shout happy sayings?”

“Yes, that’s it!” said the kid.

Good save Karen! And I proceeded to guide the conversation away from any other possible adult things adults might do for lots of happiness.

I went on to tell the class about “Double Happiness”, which was a concept that the teacher really liked. Thank god she didn’t ask me to write the Chinese characters for it on the board, or my cover would have totally been blown!

Maybe I would have just drawn some random scribble, and hoped no one noticed.

Phew anyway, that’s the end of my story. Thank god that’s over.

So here’s me wishing you all Double Happiness and a sensational mixed fish salad!

(The cheong sum was my wedding banquet dress, hand-made by a very nice lady in Maylands.)


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Rick Owens SS10 – Black and White

25 February 2010

Rick Owens SS10 - Black and White

If I had to list some fashion labels that have influenced, inspired and shaped my personal style – one of them would definitely have to be Rick Owens.

American born, now based in Paris, his women’s label is heavily rock-inspired chic, minimal, drapey, edgy yet feminine. He’s often talked about as being a trend-setter of trend-setters, and one of the few designers who is worthy of sitting on the pointiest end of fashion.

OK, perhaps some of his clothes are possibly too edgy (and expensive) for me, but his latest SS10 collection is just gorgeous. Gah, it’s more than gorgeous, it’s sublime. I can seriously feel myself considering what I could go without (like my family’s summer holiday) in order to buy one of his jackets.

See the rest of Rick Owen’s collection at Net-A Porter. It’s brilliant I tell you!


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Seafood Paella Recipe

24 February 2010

Seafood Paella

Paella is a Spanish rice dish that mixes meats, fish, beans, rice and all sorts of other things. But best of all, it all cooks in ONE PAN.

It’s also a lot like risotto, but you just don’t have to stir it as much – so it’s really easy. It is one of my favourite dishes to make, and my family love it!

Ingredients
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2-3 skinless chicken thigh fillets, cut into thick strips (I used salmon instead)
1 onion, chopped
1 1/3 cups of short grain rice (uncooked)
3 tomatoes, chopped
pinch of saffron
400g can of chickpeas
150g green beans
1 red capsicum, sliced
750ml chicken stock
500g of prawns, peeled
2 tablespoons of parsley
1 lemon wedges (very important!)
Optional – 8 mussels, 1 calamari, cut into rings.

1. Heat oil in a large, deep fry pan, add chicken or salmon. Cook until just browned, remove and drain

2. Add onion to the pan and cook until soft and golden. Add rice, tomatoes, saffron. Stir for 1 minute on a medium heat.

3. If using chicken, put it into the pan. Stir in chickpeas, green beans, capsicum and stock. Cook for 15 minutes uncovered. Don’t stir!

4. Stir in salmon, prawns, and other seafood. Leave it to cook uncovered for 10 minutes, or until the rice and seafood is cooked. I like to leave it for a bit longer to get the base crisp and caramelised. Don’t stir!

5. Serve up, Sprinkle with parsley, squeeze lemon on top.

Note: One time, I ran out of saffron, and I used ½ teaspoon of turmeric instead. Then I thought, what the heck, and also added ½ teaspoon of cumin, and a pinch of cinnamon and paprika. Not very authentic, but damn it tasted good.

(This recipe is based on a recipe published by the Heart Foundation Australia)


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Fashion Designer Label – Antipodium

23 February 2010

I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting to Fenalla Peacock, one of the creative forces behind London fashion label Antipodium.

In 2006, Antipodium first launched a small collection of chic basics in London, designed to fill what they saw as a gap in the market. The clothes were an immediate success, and following London Fashion Week the same year, Antipodium received significant high praise and fans like high profile model Alexa Chung.

Personally, I really adore the simple forms, quirky details and effortlessly cool style that is signature to all Antipodium’s collections. Their collections look like a wonderful mishmash of art and pop culture, mixed up with fashion and irreverent charm!

I got a sneak peek into Antipodium’s latest AW 2010 “Ab Fab” Collection – born from a collaboration with 4 indigenous artists in the remote West Australian outback.

Antipodium Fashion Label

The result was a collection of striking pieces in bright colours, prints and muted basics. I love their tongue in cheek garment names like: Up Chick Creek, Ab-Original Tee, Hook Up Dress.

Above left, I’m wearing a Dreamtime Dress, made from silk, featuring a beautiful print of a painting by indigenous artist Barbara Merritt. It’s really, really lovely!

On the right, I’m wearing a simple Hunt & Gather Dress. Simple, drapey, and versatile.

Antipodium Fashion Label

On the left, I’m wearing a Dreamtime Top with a Holy Knit! mini skirt. Love that skirt! Probably one of the best mini skirts I’ve tried on!

And on the right, I’m wearing the Holy Knit Skirt again with a Tucker Tee.

You can check out the whole Ab Fab Collection on the Antipodium website.

Or buy Antipodium clothes from these online stores:


Antipodium at Fashion Artiste
.


Antipodium at Frock Shop
.


Antipodium at ASOS
.

I’m very much looking forward to seeing more of Antipodium at the Melbourne Fashion Festival.

Check out more women’s fashion in my Online Fashion Shopping Directory.


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If Only Squishiness Could Last Forever

22 February 2010

Karen and Liam by the River

It was sunset by the river.

My husband and I walked, talked and enjoyed the cool evening and all the gorgeous muted colours around us.

We stopped by a grassy park, and we let our 11 month old baby crawl around and chase the birds.

We managed to take some photos in the dying light, and I am so in love with the results.

This was my favourite photo. Liam being tickled in the tummy, and me with a hopelessly contented smile.


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Living with Style and Spirit

19 February 2010

Last year I made some new year resolutions. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I do this every year. It helps me feel that I’m growing as a person, and that I’m making the most of life. And I’ve always loved the idea of looking back, making conclusions, and planning for the future.

Last year, I was focusing on life balance.

I wasn’t sure that having a balanced life was actually possible – seeing that I was going to HAVE A BABY and be thrown into the role of new-motherhood for the third time again. I was also juggling 2 other small children and my life was all about nappies, groceries, dinner, picking up kids, and sports.

But I was determined to develop my great interest in fashion, to educate myself about the art and craft of it, and become part of the fashion scene – and it has been awesome! I’ve met a heap of cool, inspiring, weird and colourful people, tried on a LOT of great clothes, been to some fabulous parties, and then always glad to be home again.

So the whole idea of “Living a Balanced Life” has been a great big success for me, and I’ve never felt so relaxed and on top of things as I do now!

However, there was a point in all this balanced living when I didn’t enjoy feeling like a Chinese acrobat, finely balancing multiple, spinning plates on sticks… in a constant state of frantic anxiety. If any of the plates would slightly tip over, everything would collapse and fall, all hell would break loose! Disaster! Catastrophe! A huge mess! And I have to pick up all the pieces and start over.

I wasted so much of my energy on stress and regret.

In the end, I learned not to expect so much of myself, not to be so up-tight when things go wrong, and just enjoy life! I forgave myself quickly when I made mistakes. I focused on the things that were important. I planned. I got very organised. And everything else fell into place.

After that, balance just came naturally.

It’s a part of my everyday life, and now I invest in keeping it that way.

This year I’m looking for something MORE.

Something beyond balance.

Is that possible? Do I want too much?

I am a mother of three children, I write about lifestyle and fashion, I have a social life, I am active in my community, I love to indulge in my interests like cooking and photography,  I love to snuggle up with my husband and have long conversations…

Clearly, I have plenty to be satisfied with. I am a very blessed person.

When I remember the experience of my husband’s cancer, when I hear about the many tragedies in the world, and people who are suffering awful misfortune, and when I am reminded that my children are growing up so fast – I am inspired to make the MOST of my current good fortune.

This year I want to try something a bit different.

I want to live with style and spirit.

I freely admit that I don’t exactly know how to do this right now.

I do know that I want to live a magnificent, inspiring, motivated, productive and passionate life!

So I’m going to explore it over the next few months. And I’m zippy with excitement!

I hope you’ll join me on this journey!

And I hope this will somehow spark something in you that will make 2010 a wonderful year for you and the people you love!


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Myer tip-toes into the world of online fashion shopping

18 February 2010

The other week I was cruising around online and I stumbled across a “new” online store.

Looks like Myer has launched a new Pop Up Designer Shop featuring some of their Autumn Winter 2010 Collection.

I must admit, I was slightly surprised to see the heavyweight Australian department store Myer join in the escapades of online fashion shopping.

But I was quite impressed with the site as a shopping experience – as it gives viewers a peak into some of Australia’s largest fashion labels and snippets of their AW10 collections.

Also, Jen Hawkins models them well, the photography of the clothes is nice and clear, the site layout combines a glossy magazine feel with the ease of online shopping. So bravo to Myer.

These are my faves:

Myer AW2010

From left: Wayne Cooper Quill Mullet Gown, Nicola Finetti V-neck Gown, Jacket, tank and skirt by Manning Cartell.

Myer AW2010

From left: Fernando Frisoni ‘Eva’ dress. Anorak, Top and pants by T. L. Wood. Yeojin Bae hourglass houndstooth dress.

I haven’t bought anything from the online shop yet, but I might pop into the REAL store to have a closer look at some of the clothes.

It makes me wonder… if Myer’s WHOLE department store was online like this, I’d be so happy to never stand in another queue again!

Check out more of my favourite womens fashion in my Online Fashion Shopping Directory.


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My Shortest Date Ever

17 February 2010

I had two tickets to attend a very big Chinese New Year Gala Ball on the weekend, and of course, I was planning to take my favourite date, my husband.

But an hour before we were due to get in the car, the babysitter rang and said she had to cancel. Argh!

So. Suddenly, my husband was the babysitter!

And I needed a date at very short notice!

I decided to take my eldest son, Callum, who is almost seven years old.

Sounds crazy right? But what else was I going to do? Waste a ticket – No! Ring old boyfriends? Twist the arm of my boy cousins? Drag along my gay friend, who is really more of a girl friend? Ask the hot-looking, single guy who lives down the road (who I have never actually spoken to)? Yeah right.

Attending this event is a fairly important family tradition for me, so I figured that it was a great opportunity to introduce it to my FIRST BORN SON.

Chinese New Year 2010

Was I really going to take a SEVEN YEAR OLD to a posh ball? I mean, whatever happened, it would be my own fault. So I tried not to think about it too much.

As I rushed around getting ready, my husband showed Callum the secret man-business of tying a tie. And under fastidious questioning, my husband had to admit that YES, TIES ARE RATHER STUPID.

Callum was quite uncomfortable with the tie and having to wear his shirt tucked into his pants. But I could see that he was also very excited to be suddenly entering the mysterious world of adults.

Once we were at the event, my son had a great time. He saw the inside of a huge grand hotel ballroom, he chatted to many adults in my community, he ate the full ten course dinner, he covered his ears during the lion dance, and boogied with me on the dance floor.

It was quite nice for me to see the whole CNY Ball experience through new eyes.

But I have to confess, it was a very unusual date because I have never before…

Been on a date with a guy shorter than I am.

Or had a date who sucked on his tie when he was bored.

Or had drunk so much juice that he had to go to the toilet 6 times.

Or danced with my mother to 60’s rock and roll!

(But I still think I had the best looking date there!)

(My dress is a lovely gown from Fashion Junkee!)


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Love in the Freezer

12 February 2010

Everyone has a different way to express their love.

toast-heart

For me, I grew up in a typical Asian culture, where it was not normal to show intimate, loving affection to your partner in public – especially not in front of the children!

So, I guess, for all of my adult life, I’ve been discovering and developing my own language of love. And it has been interesting to see just how different I am to my husband.

His language of love is so much more open, natural, tender and spontaneous than mine. It’s been 10 years since we fell in love, and he still expresses his affection for me with silly antics.

I mean, heart shaped toasts!

He made this, and then put it back into the bread bag so I would find it in the morning, after he went to work.

I suppose I have a more practical way of looking at things – because I instantly thought:

Those damn kids! How on earth will my egg sit on my bread?!
Oh wait. It’s a heart shape. Why on earth is there a heart on my bread??
Oh wait I get it.
Andrew made it for me? Why on earth would he…
OH RIGHT!
What a sweetheart he is.


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Worthy of Finger Licking

11 February 2010

Since the end of last year, I have been having a lot of fun with my nail colour.

Every 2 weeks I will slap on some NEW CRAZY BEACH INSPIRED COLOUR!

CORAL!

SKY BLUE!

PALE YELLOW!

LIGHT PURPLE!

This week it is AQUA. And I’m totally loving it!

It’s so totally wrong… that it just looks so cool… in a weird way.

Nail Polish Brights - Mecca Cosmetics

Nail colours from Mecca Cosmetics.

Nail Polish Brights - Chanel
Nail colours from Chanel.

The highly sought after “must have” fashion nail colour, Jade and Jade Rose (left and middle) apparently were sold out within an hour of their launch. Orange Fizz (right) is a goodie though.

Nail Polish Brights - OPI

Nail colours from OPI.


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Roast Chicken in a Hurry!

10 February 2010

Sometimes I am shocked, and slightly embarrassed, by how little time I have to prepare dinner.

In between dropping off one child here, running errands, picking up one child from there, zipping to the shops to pick up something, meet up with someone else for a chat, then coming home for a grand total of 30 minutes of web work, only to have to leave again to pick up the first child from school.

There is hardly any time for me to prepare a meal.

And the ironic thing is, that I really like to cook!

So I have become the master of the Throw-In-The-Oven Recipe!
roast_chicken

This week was roast chicken and roast vegetables, eaten with bread rolls.

It’s not exactly my finest culinary accomplishment, but with three children, cooking a roast chicken in time for dinner is worthy of a ticker tape parade, if you ask me.

And the best bit is… everyone loves a simple roast chicken!

How to Cook the Perfect Roast Chicken

Season with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, lemon, parsley and rub all over. No measurements – just throw some on! Toss with mixed potatoes, carrots and pumpkin.

And throw into a 180C oven –  20 minutes for every 500g of chicken.

Now that I think about it, it’d probably be much easier to BUY a roast chicken, but then that would spoil all the fun.


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Toothpaste Poo

8 February 2010

One of the great things about being a parent is that you have all kinds of experiences you could never, ever have imagined. And here is my most recent one.

My son Liam very often does a poo while he is eating.

About half way through me shoveling food into his mouth, he will suddenly stop chewing, get a “far-away” look on his face, and then be overcome with intense concentration for a few seconds.

Liam's Poo Face

Then, when the “poo moment” has passed, he will look at me as if he is saying…”Well, I’ve done my bit… aren’t you going to clean it up, so I can get on with my lunch?”

And then he won’t eat a damn thing till I change his nappy. It has become part of our daily routine together.

But recently, he tricked me.

As usual, I took him to his room, lay him down, took off his nappy… but this time, I discovered that he was still doing the poo. It was just starting to come out.

Now obviously, as a mother, you get to see lots of baby poo. You get used to it.

And I have three kids, so I have certainly seen my share.

But even I have never had the experience of having to actually watch poo come out of another person’s bottom.

I’ll spare you the exact details, but it was a lot like watching brown toothpaste being slowly squeezed out of a pink toothpaste tube.

Wow!

And when it was finished, it was coiled up in the nappy like a fat little snake.

Just another memorable moment in motherhood!

Here is a really nice picture of some flowers in my garden, to make you feel better!

Purple Daisies


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Women Are Crazy!

5 February 2010

Toe nails and sore feet

I hate breaking-in new shoes!


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Daily Fashion Outfit: Black and White Style

4 February 2010

Daily outfit - black and whiteI’ve been loving the whole rock-chick fashion trend, with fierce shoes, black leather, metal studs, and all the aggressive styles that have surfaced in the past year or so.

I love all the BLACK, BLACK AND MORE BLACK!

But now with a change in the season, I feel like taking a complete jump into WHITE.

(Ok I admit, it’s not the most innovative thing I’ve done this week.)

Anyway, I have realised that I don’t have many white items in my wardrobe!

And so now I’m suddenly tempted to make a few WHITE purchases, in particular, some white jeans and a white jacket of some kind.

Is that a bad idea? Because I have KIDS! Should I be wearing WHITE while I have toddler?

Think of all the tomato sauce finger prints! And muddy face smears! Orange juice squirts! And dripping ice cream!

And lets not even mention my own inability to eat curry laksa without noodle splashes.

Well, this is me, in the whitest top I own. I went to a lunch with a girlfriend and I didn’t spill a thing on it!

Top: Country Road
Drape vest: Myer
Jeans: Nobody
Shoes: Betts

Check out my favourite online shops in the Online Women’s Fashion Shopping Directory.


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Jamie Oliver’s Bloomin’ Brilliant Brownies

3 February 2010

Bloomin Brilliant Brownies

Good brownie recipes are so hard to find! And I love a good quality, well made chunk of brownie!

Jamie Oliver’s Bloomin’ Brilliant Brownie is my absolute recipe favourite to make. And eat!

Original recipe is here. I’ve halved the portions, so it filled a 18cm square pan. I also left out the cherries and just used walnuts.

Ingredients

125g unsalted butter
100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken up
50g chopped walnuts
40g cocoa powder, sifted
35g plain flour, sifted
½ teaspoon baking powder
140g caster sugar
2 large eggs

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.

2. Line a 25cm square baking tin with greaseproof paper.

3. In a large bowl over some simmering water, melt the butter and the chocolate and mix until smooth. Add nuts and stir together.

4. In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and sugar, then add this to the chocolate and nut mixture. Stir together well.

5. Beat in the eggs until you have a silky consistency.

6. Pour your brownie mix into the baking tray, and place in the oven for around 25 minutes.

7. You don’t want to overcook them so, unlike cakes, you don’t want a skewer to come out all clean. The brownies should be slightly springy on the outside but still gooey in the middle.

8. Allow to cool in the tray, then carefully transfer to a large chopping board and cut into chunky squares.


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Women’s Fashion Boutique in Subiaco – Zara Bryson

2 February 2010

Zara Bryson is a brand new fashion boutique in Perth, in the Subiaco shopping district (west of the city).

I was recently invited to the store for a review and a peek at their latest collections. When I stepped into the store I went HELLO! I LIKE THIS A LOT!

Zara Bryson Fashion Boutique in Subiaco

I spotted fabulously trendy brands like Illionaire, Michael Angel and Magdalena Velevska. I saw racks full of the hottest season’s looks, popular trends and styles. I loved how the shop was laid out and I was just itching to have a browse!

Zara Bryson Fashion Boutique in Subiaco

I had a lovely chat to Zara Bryson, the owner, who is completely plugged-in to the latest styles and the best selling looks. She chose a few items for me and styled me to perfection –  very fun!

Zara Bryson Fashion Boutique in Subiaco

Above Left: I’m wearing a black, one-shoulder silk dress by new Australian fashion label Magdalena Velevska ($519) which was very beautiful and elegant.

The shop had a few other pieces from the Magdelena collection that I was keen to try on too. Very nice stuff. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the new Magdalena Velevska collection at the Melbourne Fashion Festival.

Above Right: Intruder Frock Print Dress by Illionaire ($349). This one was hot! Made from silk, perfect “mini” length for my short height, it fit me perfectly. It certainly caught my husband’s eye when I took it home! (only to photograph, unfortunately, it went back the next day).

Zara Bryson Fashion Boutique in Subiaco

Above Left: I went out on a limb and agreed to try a jersey jacket with shoulder pads. It looked surprisingly cool! This one is also from Magdalena Velevska ($309).

Above Right: And lastly I was inspired to try out something BRIGHT, because the shop stocked quite a few super-colourful clothes! This dress is by Tu.Tu.Blu ($185).

The shop carries a mix of Australian and International labels such as Karen Walker, Sretsis, Stylestalker, Peeps.Org, Lauren Moshi, Alternative Apparel, This is Genevieve, J.J. Winters, Natalie Encarnita, Tu.Tu.Blu, and more.

I especially liked that they also stock more items from within each designer’s collection, than a boutique might usually do, to allow a more complete styling experience for shoppers.

You can visit the Zara Bryson website here.

Or go check out the Subiaco store –
Zara Bryson
Shop 2, 502 Hay Street
Subiaco, Western Australia

(Right on the corner of Denis Street, opposite Kitchen Witch and Baskin Robins)

Check out more of my favourite women’s fashion in the Online Fashion Shopping Directory.


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The Hardest Job in the World

1 February 2010

My sons came running in from playing outside because they found DIRT IN THE SKY!

Huh?!

I went out with them and looked up. I saw some very odd looking smoke or clouds.

Skywriting Perth

It took me a moment to realise that there was a tiny little plane buzzing around, the sun ocassionaly flashing off its windows. Sky-writing! I’d never actually seen it before.

I’m sure the poor sky-writer/pilot was trying to spell “PERTH” (the name of my home city), but even in the stillness of a super-hot summer day, the slightest of breezes was bending the letters as we watched, and erasing the word even before it was finished being written!

So now, running a house with three boys doesn’t seem so hard (and I am impressed with Callum’s ability to read bad writing).