Archive for November 2010


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Online Fashion Boutique: Fashion Artiste

30 November 2010

Clothes from Fashion Artiste

Fashion Artiste is another great fashion boutique based in Australia, with flat international shipping rates.

It stocks over 20 designers including, Life With Bird, Marnie Skillings, Antipodium, Kate Sylvester, and Spencer Lacy.

I’d say that the *best thing* about the online shop is their collection of low to mid-range prices of designer clothes. Meaning you get designer quality styles for a pretty good price. AND they are currently having a 30-70% off SALE.

They are also offering all my readers a special discount – 20% off everything in store, including sale items when you use the code KARENCHENG at first stage of checkout.

The Blue Skirt I’m wearing (above) is by Marnie Skillings. I am absolutely in love with it! It’s so cute, flattering, tailored, a bit quirky, the quality is fabulous and the blue is so pretty.

It arrived last week and I already wore it 3 times. It was an amazing 70% off! From $330 to $99. Which means if you buy it, you’d get a further 20% discount and only pay $79.20 for it.

The skirt was a size 8. I’m usually size AUS/UK 6, so I’m guessing the Marnie Skillings range runs small. But you can check all that out on the sizing charts on the website.

In the photo, I was getting hell bored with my usual pose and was mucking around and showing off my calf muscles as the result of all my cycling *I’m very proud!*.

Clothes from Fashion Artiste

Here on the left is a Singlet Dress by Cybele, made from a leather-look material and sheer panels. It looks hot! It was also 70% off, from $232 down to $69.60.

On the right, I’m wearing an Antipodium Sequin Dress, again 70% off. It has a kind of 60’s feel to it. All I need is a bee-hive hair do!

So yep, I’m enjoying the range of dresses and tops on the site.

If you’re thinking of buying, don’t forget the special discount code for 20% off everything in store, including sale items. Just use the code KARENCHENG at first stage of checkout.


( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.

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Nigella Lawson’s Banana Chocolate Muffins

29 November 2010

Nigella Lawson’s Banana Chocolate Muffins

Nigella Lawson, in case you don’t know, is a British Food Goddess.

Last week, I tried Nigella’s Banana Chocolate Muffin recipe. The muffins turned out to be lovely and moist, with a light texture, which was not too rich or overly sweet.

However, I found the banana flavour was pretty strong in this recipe, and it over-powered the chocolate. Maybe Australian bannanas are more flavour-some than British ones?

So I made it again and changed the recipe – less one banana and added chopped dark chocolate chips instead of the cocoa powder.

The result had the same delicious, light, moist texture, but more of a chocolatey taste with a hint of banana flavour.

Plus I used dark chocolate, so it had that deep, rich and slightly bitter taste to it. DIVINE!!!

Nigella Lawson’s Banana Chocolate Muffins

Nigella Lawson’s Banana Chocolate Muffins (slightly modified by me!)

My changes are bolded!

2 very ripe or overripe bananas (not 3)
125ml vegetable oil
2 eggs
100g soft light brown sugar
225g plain flour
3 x 15ml tablespoons best-quality cocoa powder, sifted
60g of grated dark chocolate (in addition to the  cocoa powder)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 x 12-bun muffin tin

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C and line a muffin tin with papers. Don’t worry about getting special papers: regular muffin cases will do the job.

2. Mash the bananas by hand or with an electric mixer. Still beating and mashing, add the oil followed by the eggs and sugar.

3. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, grated chocolate and bicarb together and add this mixture, beating gently, to the banana mixture, then spoon it into the prepared papers.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 15–20 minutes, by which time the muffins should be dark, rounded and peeking proudly out of their cases. Allow to cool slightly in their tin before removing to a wire rack.

Serves: Makes 12

The un-Karen-Cheng-ified Original Banana Chocolate Muffin Recipe is HERE, along with a whole lot of  other excellent recipies.

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Models are Human Too

26 November 2010

Last week I went to a fashion event – a new boutique was being launched by international shoe brand Carmen Steffens.

When you attend fashion events, it’s not a surprise to discover that most people like to dress up. It’s part of the fun of fashion events – dressing up and then *looking* at what everyone else is wearing.

Thus it’s very normal to go to an event and BE CHECKED OUT by lots of people. It’s not a gesture of disapproval or disrespect, it’s just normal fashion-crowd conduct.

If you’re dressed very well, people might come up to you and compliment you on your outfit, or your hair. People might ask you where you bought your dress or necklace from. And if you’re dressed *sensationally*, a photographer might approach you and take a photo of you for the social pages.

Being “openly checked out”, takes a bit of practice to get used to. You have to overcome your self-awareness, relax, be yourself, be happy, be confident and just enjoy the evening. Some people can do it better than others. Some are obviously strutting around with body language that shouts – LOOK AT ME, I AM SO HOT! While others exude a poised, understated, confident grace – which is so much cooler.

Anyway, because this particular event was about SHOES, everyone was looking at each other’s outfits AND SHOES.

It was the first time I walked into a room and was constantly CHECKED OUT FROM MY HEAD TO MY TOES.

The event was all about shoes…so I suppose all this looking at feet was okay, “normal fashion conduct” for a shoe event.

Carmen Steffens Event

Suffice to say, I too checked out the crowd. Discretely mind you. Everyone was dressed very, very well. There were lots of expensive dresses and jewellery and LOTS of very well looked after feet. Everyone had immaculate feet! And toenails! And of course, they all had very nice shoes.

I was thinking, “Oh woe to be a woman!” Not only are you supposed to have great hair, skin, boobs, waist, tummy… now you have to have beautiful feet. I sighed at the state of the fashion industry, the media, and body image of women all over the world… but at the same time, I wished I had exfoliated my feet in the shower, and had a pedicure before I went!

Then there was a little fashion show, with models wearing the shoes (not just shoes, they were wearing clothes as well). Of course, models are beautiful people who are completely used to having eyes pour all over their bodies.

That evening we had the pleasure of seeing six slim, long haired, tall and perky young women with perfect tans and beautiful make-up. Total professionals, and they looked gorgeous (in that blond fashion model kind of way). That is their job after all!

As the models strutted through the store, everyone did the same CHECKING THEM OUT from head to toe routine on them. But when my eyes got to their feet… I let out an almost audible gasp.

Good lord, their feet were awful!

Carmen Steffens Event

Their feet were so bashed!!! Those poor women!!!

Bruises, red marks, white marks, calluses, blisters, and broken capillaries. These were feet that spoke of months and years of constantly strutting around in new shoes, as many as ten different pairs in a single fashion show! I felt so sorry for these models. I felt like beating my chest and shouting out – I FEEL FOR YOU SISTA!!

I know what it is like to wear cheap, uncomfortable shoes… they make your feet hurt so bad you believe you might actually die. Hence the saying “These shoes are killing me!!”

I was sure they didn’t get those blisters THIS night, because apparently Carmen Steffens shoes are high-quality, handcrafted shoes – where someone actually hand stitches the embellishments etc.

So I decided that I’d try on a few pairs…and oh my, they felt awesome. I loved the quality, but I couldn’t quite love the price tag: $300 – $700!

Carmen Steffens Shoes

There were lots of stylish and sexy shoes, all well designed to be completely stand out fashion items. But this pair was my favourite.

So there you go. To all the SISTAS OUT THERE, be kind to your feet and give them a good rub and loving tonight. And remember to give your feet a break, and wear comfortable shoes some of the time!

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Life on a Plate

25 November 2010

A few weekends ago, I was at the river with my family. We were having a picnic, taking a walk and enjoying the sunny weather.

Scrambling up a bushy sand bank, I noticed these two pieces of a broken, old plate stuck deep in the ground.


They were dirty and crusted over with mud, so I gave them a quick wipe on my jeans. As I rubbed my fingers over the cracked glaze I was overcome with a strange sense of enchantment. Like I was in some kind of time warp.

Maybe, many years ago, before this place was a beautiful park, it was used as a rubbish tip for the very old houses nearby. But I looked around, but I couldn’t find any other bits of plate.

It was a dinner plate, with hand-painted, gold detail. The pattern seemed to be of Eastern origin. The glaze was cracked by age. How old was it?


I held it in my hand and wondered how much this broken plate could tell me, if it could talk.

Who made it, and what were they thinking while they did the laborious work of painting the gold detail? What did they dream of?

Did children grow up eating from this plate? Did the family argue, or talk about school, or moving house, or worry about brothers and sons away at some war?

And when the plate was broken in anger or haste, did someone get in trouble?

I imagined it as a full plate. Sitting on a beautiful tablecloth. Next to plates which looked identical to it. Holding slices of bread and fruit. I imagined laughter, happiness and the sounds of clinking glasses.

I stuck it into my bag. And it now sits next to my monitor, in a dish full of treasured objects.

It reminds me of another lifetime, and of new life.

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Online Fashion Shop – Miss Selfridge

23 November 2010

Miss Selfridge - Magenta Ruffle Dress

For those who are not familiar with the brand, Miss Selfridge is a popular high street fashion store based in the UK, owned by the same group who own Topshop and Dorothy Perkins.

I believe it’s targeted at young women from 18 – 35s and it’s full of great party dresses and on-trend fashion pieces at a low to medium price range.

I bought this cute Magenta Ruffle Dress for £36 + £9 postage = £45.

So in the end I paid AUD$75 for it, which is pretty good considering a typical party dress (of the same quality) would cost AUD$100 – $150.

Something nice and simple to wear to a Christmas part: I’m happy!

View the whole current range of dresses here.

Miss Selfridge - Leopard Print Skirt

Another thing I bought was this leopard print skirt for £25.

I’m wearing it with my sister’s camel coloured coat, Sass and Bide tee, and shoes by Betts.

My only bother about the site, is that sometimes the colours of the photographs are a little DULL – so in real life, the colours are much more vibrant.

But everything else about the site is pretty good. Search and filter features are excellent. You can look for things in YOUR SIZE. There are lots of on-trend bits and pieces for a good price. And the sales are really good.

(Check out the current sale page here!)

ALSO, here’s something I don’t usually do. I bought an extra skirt for £25, just so I could test out the RETURNS FEATURE on the site. I went through the process of creating a “returns order” and filling out the form. I posted the item back (which cost $7) and I received the refunded money in 10 days. It was all painless, and best of all, I didn’t have to explain why I wanted my money back.

So I can absolutely say that I have reviewed the usability of the Miss Selfridge Online Shop, and it was excellent.

I will be looking forward to the upcoming Christmas sales!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.

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Walking (and Eating) the Dog

22 November 2010

One afternoon, I was walking to school to pick up my two older boys, and pushing my toddler Liam in the pram. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon in the park, and my son was babbling away with all his cute toddler noises. I was in plenty of time to enjoy a nice, slow walk. I was very happy.

But then I noticed I was being followed – by a dog.

A little tiny one. Like the ones that rich women have in movies, but this one was shaggy. It was as small as a cat. And although it was occasionally stopping to sniff at other dogs’ poo in the undergrowth, it always scampered along on its tiny little legs to catch up to me, shyly keeping a distance, but definitely following me.

Some people would think this was cute, but I REALLY DON’T LIKE DOGS. All of them, and everything about them. Whenever I go to a friend’s house who has a dog, I have to really force myself to pretend that I like my hand being licked, my groin sniffed, and being pushed over. And I pretend this because I know that most people like dogs, and I don’t want to offend!

So I ignored the little doggie and just kept going.

But whenever I looked over my shoulder, there he was, loyally following me.

I kept ignoring him, and he kept following me. And then he ran in front of the pram. Liam saw him, and excitedly said “Doggie!”.

I realised I was walking into a trap. If Doggie following me, and he got hopelessly lost, he would become my problem, right?

Or, what if Doggie got run over by a car crossing the road after me? Sure, I could just pick up the dead, pizza-shaped dog by the tail and throw him in the nearest rubbish bin, but what if someone saw me?

And what if he DIDN’T get killed crossing the road, and he survived all the way to school? My kids might fall in love with him, and then we’d have to take him home – and live with him! I would have to spend the rest of my life picking up Doggie poo off the lawn!

So I stopped, and shooed Doggie away, waving my arms at him.

Big mistake.

Because Doggie thought I was playing with him. ARRGGGH!

Now he felt we were best friends, and he was literally and happily trotting along by my feet.

He was so close that I could see he had an identity tag around his neck. I stopped the pram, bent down, and read the tag. And while I did this, Doggie rubbed his wet, poo-sniffing nose on me, and licked my hands. EEEEWWWW!!

The address was right around the corner from my house, only five minutes walk away.

I was determined to get rid of Doggie, so I turned the pram around, and started walking back towards Doggie’s house. And guess what. Doggie didn’t follow me. He just SAT DOWN in the middle of the path, like I was going the wrong way.


And then I did something I still can’t believe.

I picked the dog up. With my bare hands. I held the dog on my hip, like a baby, with one hand, while I pushed the pram with the other.

I felt like one of those rich women in movies.

Doggie was in heaven, and made snuffly little noises of excitement. I felt humiliated and unclean.

Doggie smelled like a dog. He was dry, but he still had that dirty, musky, wet dog smell that old carpet has just before you decide to renovate the house.

I suddenly remembered a joke in my family about poor Chinese people eating dogs when they were short of food (which is apparently based on real events in my Grandparent’s time). Hey, I remember helping my Dad catch crabs and fruit-bats to eat when we lived on Christmas Island, so eating a dog doesn’t seem that improbable.

But little Doggie probably didn’t have too much meat on him. Maybe the same as one big chicken? Still, that would keep a family going for a couple of days.

After the longest five-minute walk of my life, I found the house, knocked on the door, and gave Doggie back to the lady, who hadn’t even realised Doggie had escaped. She was so grateful to have Doggie back that I was thinking maybe I should have held the Doggie hostage, and asked for a reward.

She offered me a cup of tea, but fortunately, I didn’t have to lie to her to escape – I now really was late to pick up my boys from school.

As I power-walked to school, I was still grumpy, but also relieved that Doggie made it home safely. I realised that I was experiencing a deep internal conflict – although I just don’t like dogs (probably for irrational reasons), my maternal instincts had made me take Doggie home. He was little, and lost, and innocent – just like a toddler. And if someone who just didn’t like children found one of my kids wandering in the park, I really hope they would still bring him home to me (maybe I should put identity tags on my kids, just in case).

But I was also so irritated by the whole event, that I was inventing dog meat curry recipes in my head. Would dog meat be like lamb, or more like goat?

I made a mental note to look on the internet for dog meat recipes – just out of curiosity.

That way, maybe even I could learn to like dog(s).

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FREE Worldwide Shipping at ASOS

20 November 2010


The only thing that tops a SALE… is a CLEARANCE SALE at
ASOS Online Fashion!

Not to mention, they now have FREE SHIPPING WORLDWIDE for a limited time only!!

Anyway, with the weather warming up in the land of OZ, I’ve been taking advantage of the summer clearances.

Clothes for warm weather – like shorts, dresses, skirts, tops and swimwear are all 30-50% off. Which is pretty damn sweet. Here are some bits and pieces I managed to get my hands on from ASOS. Photos above!

Swimsuit: Vintage style front-wrap
Slippers: Melissa Flip Flops with gorgeous little bows
Scarf: Floral scarf – which I use as a sarong
Shorts: Camel belted cotton shorts
Hat and sunglasses are my own.

Ah, if I had my way, I’d prefer to live in a tropical climate, where the whether is warm and balmy all year round. I could live in summery dresses, skirts and shorts ALL YEAR!


The swimwear on sale is pretty amazing too. You can get Ted Baker bikinis and French Connection swimsuits for US$20 – $50.

Have fun and enjoy your weekend!

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Styling Carrie for the Oprah Winfrey Show – Part 5

19 November 2010

Yay! I’m so excited! With 2 more weeks until Carrie steps on the plane with Oprah Winfrey to head down to Australia, I’ve been busy and anxiously waiting for the next stage of my styling project – for Carrie to try out the clothes!

Carrie has been busy dressing up and she asked her photographer-enthusiast friend, Tara, to take some portraits of her.

Here’s a first look at Carrie in some dresses that I picked out her, from Fashion Junkee.

Fashion Junkee is an online boutique based in the US (with international delivery!). Their best feature is the awesome collection of very wearable dresses – especially the dresses made from a kind of soft, slinky, stretchy material.

I have owned some FashionJunkee dresses for 2 years now and they haven’t faded, fallen apart, or stretched out of shape from washing, which is awesome considering how affordable they were.


FashionJunkee were pretty generous, so this is Carrie wearing the same dress in different colours!  When I chose the dress from the site, I couldn’t decide which colour would look best with her complexion. Now that I’ve seen it, I think the purple and blue look stunning on her.

Carrie says she likes this dress style and that it’s very flattering! If she wears it, she will be sure to wear some body-shaping-wear underneath “because let’s face it, we all could use a little smoothing out of the bumps and lumps!”

Tara says the camera really loved the blue one.

The dress is a Cap Sleeve Side Ruffle Dress. It’s double lined, an elegant, timeless and versatile style, and not to mention it clings in all the right places. I have the same dress in black, but it also comes in white, purple, blue, red and magenta.

Carrie is a Size US 6 (Aus 10, UK 10, Eur 38), and she’s wearing this dress in a Fashion Junkee size Large (she felt the Medium was a tiny bit too snug).


Carrie liked the Black Crossover Wrap Dress too (above, on the left), and enjoyed having a play with the wrapping options.

In the middle photo, Carrie is wearing a slightly different wrap-style dress – Teal Side Wrap Dress. I think the colour looks gorgeous on her. She says she rarely picks blue as an option, so it was a fun exercise to SEE herself in a variety of colors.

And lastly (on the right) we have a Smocked Maxi Dress in magenta, which would be perfect to wear at summer events for day and night.

With this opportunity to play with a variety of colours and styles, Carrie is discovering which she is drawn to and what she most feels confident in. But it also helps considerably, for a friend or stylist to say “given these choices, these look best”.


Carrie is wearing shoes generously donated by Betts, from their online collection, and they also ship internationally. From the left, silver shoes, cut-out pattern shoes, and cream coloured shoes.

Bags (also from Betts) from the left, silver clutch and beige clutch.

When Carrie  received the package (and lets face it, who doesn’t love receiving packages) she sent me a snap from her Blackberry and a message – “Every pair fits amazingly! I’m a lucky girl!”

She is a US shoe size 9, which is the same as an AUS shoe size 9 (UK 7, Eur 40). I was quite nervous with the size conversion so I asked her to measure her feet too. Thankfully the shoes were a perfect fit!

Hopefully, we’ll get one more look at Carrie in some other outfits before she leaves for Australia.

I have to confess, I find it quite nerve racking!! Stay tuned :)

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50 Dollars of STUPID!

18 November 2010

The other day I was feeling a bit out of sorts… so I drove the kids to one of our favourite beaches by the river. We had ice-creams and I let them mess around in the sand.

Two wonderful hours passed, and I felt incredibly relaxed.

But when we returned to the car, I found this little piece of paper stuck under my windscreen wiper.


A parking fine.

I had been fined for parking in a non-parking zone. I couldn’t believe it!

I was stunned, because this doesn’t usually happen to me. In fact, it NEVER happens to me! I am careful and considerate! I am a good member of the community! I don’t *do* parking fines.

I looked around, and saw that my car was – not only – parked on top of big yellow letters saying “DON’T PARK HERE!!”, but there was also a huge sign in front of the car which basically said “KAREN! DON’T PARK HERE, OR YOU’LL GET A FINE!!!!”

I looked around in disbelief. I was sure that those signs were NOT THERE when I parked the car. In fact, I was absolutely confident they weren’t there.

So I was left with two possible explanations.

1. I parked my car in a proper parking bay, and while I was away, someone broke into my car, moved it to the illegal spot, and then carefully locked the car up again – without stealing anything, damaging the locks, or adjusting the driver’s seat. Probably, this would be done by the parking inspector, to make more money.


2. Distracted by the bickering kids and frantic to get them to the river, I just didn’t notice all the warning signs – possibly because I was a bit stressed and anxious. So instead of parking my car in one of the dozens of free parking bays for cars, yes, I parked illegally.

When I got home, I told my husband my story of stupidity. And how I was stressed and upset about being stressed and upset.

He gave me a hug, and said “It’s okay honey, it’s just money. You didn’t crash the car, you just parked it in the wrong place.”

So now, I have accepted that I am a bit stressed, and I am carefully checking every thing I do, every where I go.

For example, now I don’t just COUNT how many kids I have with me in the car when I leave the shops…

I look at them carefully to see if I actually gave birth to them. Very important!

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Carry-Alls and Clutches

16 November 2010

Bags n Packs - Affordable Leather Handbags

I was very keen to feature Bags n Packs on my site again, because they have a lovely, new collection of leather handbags.

I would describe their bag styles as “grown-up-stylish”, “simple and timeless” and “affordable”… with high-quality materials and construction, and made from genuine leather.

Above, I am carrying my favourite design, a very cute and simple leather tote handbag, called Marnie, in pink. Versatile and very robust! It also comes in pastel blue, red, and purple.

Also pictured (above, bottom right) is Dawn, a gorgeous, casual, duffle-style, leather shoulder bag. It’s the kind you can throw everything into and just pick and go – and it looks fab with anything you’re wearing!

Bags n Packs - Affordable Leather Handbags

They also have genuine leather clutches. And I chose a leopard clutch called, Safari Chic. It’s a brown and black leopard-print ponyskin bag, with leather trim. Very cool, and looks fab with my camel maxi dress!

Pictured along side from the top…
Sasha, a chocolate brown leather box clutch.
Safari Chic leopard print with leather trim clutch, size comes in big or small.
Rene (which is also available in blue or red).

Bags n Packs - Affordable Leather Handbags

I also was looking for a weekend-style bag, or stylish travel bag… and fell in love with this patchwork leather bag called Carrie. It’s so cute, and apparently it has 7 compartments.

Another two patchwork style bags that caught my eye were the Boxer handbag (with little boxing gloves keyring!), and another carryall and travel style bag, Kirstin, in a brown lavender colour.

Hope you find something for Christmas, for yourself or for a gift!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )


Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.

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My Grandma turns 90

15 November 2010

Everyone, meet a very beautiful lady.


She is my Poh Poh (Cantonese for “maternal grandmother”).

She turned 90 a couple of weeks ago.

Just try saying that a few times. Niiiiinnntty. Nine-Zero. Only 10 less than 100.

She was born in China, ran away from the Japanese invasion before the Second World War, arrived in Singapore, lived through the Japanese occupation there, moved to Christmas Island, and raised 10 kids in a single room house with a dirt floor. Food was so scarce she had one chicken a week to feed the ten kids and two adults.

The whole world has changed while she has been alive!

When Christmas Island became part of Australia, many of the people living there on Asian labourer wages became Australian citizens. In the 1980s, the whole clan moved to Perth, when I was 10, but Poh Poh was already almost 70.

It must have seemed like she was moving to another universe! My Poh Poh didn’t, and still doesn’t, speak any English, and there were very few Asian people in Australia back then.

Her husband, my Gong Gong, died about 15 years ago, and now she lives with one of her daughters.

I guess she has lived a life I can’t even understand, most of it without the privileges I take for granted.

To celebrate Poh Poh’s 90 years, we had an entire restaurant full of her direct descendants, and family friends. There was no shortage of chicken, and it was a Chinese restaurant, one of many, many Asian restaurants in Perth’s “Asia Town” district on William Street.

10 children.

18 grand children.

And 10 great grand children, so far.. (of which I have contributed 3!)


Here I am with my Poh Pop’s eldest child (my own Mum), and MY youngest son, Liam Kin-Keong, who is my Poh Poh’s 10th great grand child.

I hope I am surrounded by so much family when I am 90!

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Fashion Makes Happy and Healthy

12 November 2010

I’ve got a couple of things I want to share with you.


I went to a very fun charity event on Wednesday night, called “Celebrate the Sun”. The whole event was put together by the local fashion industry, and was in support of “Beyond Blue”, which is about raising awareness of the symptoms and effects of depression.

I can honestly say that it has already worked, because this event has given me an excuse to make a deeply personal confession.

I have been facing the challenge of depression (mild, but long term) for about 5 years, ever since the birth of my second child.

And the two major problems I’ve had in dealing with feeling blue have been: recognising the symptoms, and then to even admit to myself that I feel that way.

I’m afraid to say that I’ve been guilty of denial, but I’m just about ready to talk about it now. Maybe. Soon. Maybe Later. But Definitely Eventually.

Celebrate the Sun Fashion Fundraiser 2010

Celebrate the Sun was held at The Bird, one of Perth’s uber-cool inner city bars, on William Street, Northbridge. The main feature of the evening was an informal parade of designer guys and girls outfits, ranging from stand-out amazing, to cool sophistication.

The Bird is a small, cozy venue, and the parade was so relaxed that the models were cracking jokes with the audience. It was funny, warm, and intimate. You could see how feel-good it was, because the models were smiling. That’s right – this event had the power to make fashion models smile. If you weren’t there, you missed out.

However, all the outfits are now available for auction on Facebook, so do go on over and check out the high res pictures.  The deal is that you are not just bidding on a single garment – you get everything you see in the picture! (except the model and the shoes).

Some of these combinations are worth $500, some are from collections yet to be released, and all the bidding starts at ZERO. No reserve price!

100% of all proceeds go to BeyondBlue Research.

Thanks to Matt Jelonek photography for the images.


Another fashion industry created charity event is Lomovember, and I am going to the opening party on Friday night, the 19th November. Lomovember is an annual event, and each year runs an exhibition of lomo-photos (arty photos taken with a very simple type of film camera, which produces these really cool images).

Lomovember Pigeonhole 2010

Images by Rikki Burns and Hannah McGrath

All the funds raised go to support “Movember” – an international campaign to fund research for men’s health issues, particularly prostate health.

Now, I vaguely understand that a prostate is part of a man’s man-bits, but I have no idea what it actually does. I don’t actually WANT to know, but I’m sure it’s important enough for me to go to a party.

Even though women’s health issues get a lot of attention in the media, and I tend to think of the men in my life as indestructible, it turns out that they are all soft and squishy inside, just like women. So, they need help too.

The whole event is organised by the team at Pigeonhole, a chain of indie fashion and homewares boutiques. Thank you!

The opening party is open to the public, with live music and the $5 entry fee goes to the cause. I’ll be there early, and if you see me, please do walk right up and say “Hi!”.

Launch Party
19 November 2010, 7pm
“The LoMovember Gallery”
104B Murray St

The exhibition runs at The LoMovember Gallery till the 21st November, from 11 – 5 each day.

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Pizza Making and The Streets of Bangkok

11 November 2010

I was invited to attend a marketing event for a new pizza franchise – called Crust – which has recently opened in the Subiaco district of my home town of Perth.

It was a chance to see the Head Chef of the franchise make pizza.

I often cook pizza at home, and I was quite keen to see how it is done professionally. But of course, I was also expecting to pig out on a lot of free gourmet pizza. I couldn’t lose.


So I rocked up, and was pretty impressed with the pizza bar. Brand new, excellent interior design, a giant kitchen behind glass. Maybe 50 different ingredients all waiting to be made into gourmet pizza while you wait. There was a crew of highly trained pizza technicians in identical uniforms, ready to leap into action, like a Formula One pit crew. All good!

I met the marketing person, Carrie, and then met the other guests.

Which is when I had the first of several shocks.

First, I discovered that I was in the company of several other bloggers – but I was the only one who was NOT a food blogger.

I mention this because, while I enjoy experimenting with recipes at home, my audience is my kids and my husband, who don’t have the most demanding of culinary needs. But food bloggers are critics with the passion of religious extremists. I love food, but for these guys, food is their WHOLE life.

I was waaaaay out of my depth in this company. The foodies were Conor, Lori, Carven and Devan.

Second shock of the evening – I was ridiculously over dressed for the occasion. When I was getting ready to go out, I must have sub-consciously thought I was going to a fashion event. So, instead of looking street-chic smart-casual, I looked like I had gotten lost on the way to a cocktail party in an expensive bar. Damn!

So there I was, in a pizza bar – a really new, shiny one, but a pizza bar nonetheless, with hungry food bloggers who were wearing jeans and sneakers, and I was in high heels and too much make-up. So I had even less credibility now. Great.

The bloggers sat down, and Peter the Head Chef explained to us all the cool things about the way “Crust” do pizza.


As he made the pizzas, including the dough, he explained how they have to put the toppings on in an exact certain way to stop the pizzas messing up the ovens, how the topping (if there are more than three) have to go on in a certain pattern to stop them mushing up, how the cheese has to be tactically deployed for structural stability, how they have gluten free pizzas, and how they have several pizzas so healthy that they have the National Heart Foundation “tick of approval”. They even have square pizzas, and deep dish pizzas. Very interesting!

And then my third shock of the evening came.

Peter divided the bloggers into teams of two, and each team was going to have to invent a pizza (including naming it) and then one of the team members would actually make the pizza – in the fully operating pizza bar! Right here. Right NOW!

Bah. I just wanted to EAT pizza. I cook at home everyday. I go out so I can get SOMEONE ELSE TO COOK FOR ME!

I was paired with Devan. There were 3 other bloggers in the room, all of whom were experts in food and cooking, and none of whom were wearing high heels. So poor guy, just his luck, he got me as his buddy.

We got to work, with 10 minutes to brainstorm our concept for a unique pizza.

We both love Thai food – and Devan is half Thai – so we decide to capture the essence of Thai culinary culture on a single pizza. But we wanted to put a creative spin on it, and instead of going with stereotypical Thai foods (like tom yum and pad thai), we went more for street Thai flavours. And so we called the pizza “The Streets of Bangkok”. I loved the name!

Behold the amazing creative chemistry between Devan and I. Poor guy!

So despite the awesome pizza name, it all went down hill after that.

Devan “suggested” that I be the chef. And I agreed.

But inside I was thinking OMG what have I got myself into! I am SO NOT dressed to make pizza! I can’t cook with a TIME LIMIT, in an industrial kitchen, in full view of the PUBLIC!! CRAP!

I put on a brave face and off we went, assembling our competing pizzas as best we could.


As we worked, I kept looking over at the other blogger’s pizzas, and they looked great.

The foodies seemed completely un-intimidated by the hovering presence of Head Chef Peter. But I just kept thinking that my shoes alone contravened a million health and safety rules, and I kept flicking my big hair around my head to try and keep it out of the pizza. I could have taken out someone’s eye with it. Head Chef Peter must have thought I was such a ditz.

Do these gloves go with my outfit?

I did my best, but “The Streets of Bangkok” looked more like “Little Lumps of Dog Poo in the Streets of Bangkok, with Vegetable Scraps Thrown on Top”.

Apparently I was being too stingy with the cheese.

Peter tried to help me with some advice, but I still wasn’t getting it right, so then he just sort of (politely) pushed me out of the way, and did it himself. I don’t blame him. I was not worthy of his kitchen.

Fortunately, the time came for the three pizza creations to go into the oven.


When they came out, this one was judged by the pizza bar staff to be the best.

A visual delight, with subtle hints of seafood, and named “Paella”. Just what you would expect food bloggers to come up with. To my great relief, nobody mentioned “The Streets of Bangkok” ever again, and Devan and I avoided eye contact for the rest of the evening. (Only kidding!)

With the winner chosen, we were finally treated to an orgy of pizzas made by the staff at Crust. And it was sooooooo goooooood! Happy Karen! (and I even had coffee with the food bloggers later, and they were all really nice people.)

I won’t need to eat again this month.

My review of the pizza? I liked it a lot. Good value for first rate gourmet pizza.

Crust is on 502 Hay Street in Subiaco, just down from the Regal theatre, towards the train station.

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Online Fashion Jewellery: Wanderlust + Co

9 November 2010

Online Fashion Jewellery: Wanderlust + Co

Ok girls. You know I only share the best online shops with you! Well this one is a real gem!

Wanderlust + Co is an online shop that sells fashionable jewellery at really great prices.

It’s a kind of “one stop shop” that sells a whole range of jewellery styles – pretty long pearls, statement jewelled bling, leather strap cuffs, quirky cute rings… all between $10 – $50.

Jenn and her team have come up with collections that make me go – OMG I WANT ALL OF THEM!

Best way to view the jewellery is by collections. Above I’m wearing a Jewelled Cluster Bib in Black from the Jewelled Indulgence Collection.

It makes any black dress look amazing!

Wanderluct + Co

Here is an Infinity Strand Necklace, a wardrobe must-have if you love pearls – I can wear them loose and long or wrapped 3 times around my neck. These are from the Rue Cambon Collection (inspired by Coco Chanel).

Online Fashion Jewellery: Wanderlust + Co

Circle Twist Earrings from the Tough Love Collection (also with lots of multi-chain twisted necklaces)

Wanderlust + Co are based in Australia and Malaysia. They ship internationally with flat rate shipping fee – for example, to Aus is $6, to Singapore is $4, to Malaysia is $2, to US is $8.

Also, pop on over and join the W+C Facebook Page for great special offers or promotions.


( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.

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Matching Smiles

8 November 2010

Liam 20 months

Remember that little lump of a baby I used to carry around in my sling?

Look at him now! He’s a fricking toddler!

He wears sandals! And carries around a bag of biscuits! He tells me when he has a poo in his pants!

Oh I am so in love with this photo of us.

It just oozes with happiness. And I really wanted to share some happiness this week.

I love my son’s cheeky little smile. I love the way he’s leaning into my arms and the way his legs dangle over my thigh.

I snapped the photo as we were getting ready to go to the fruit and vegetable market.

I wish I could bottle him up and keep him like this forever.

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Styling Carrie for the Oprah Winfrey Show – Part 4

5 November 2010

Once again, this post is part of a styling adventure, based around my reader (and now new friend!) Carrie. She is from the US and she has been selected to be one of the 300 lucky people flying to Australia with Oprah Winfrey in December.

Last week I threw together a kind of “fashion inspiration style board” to gel some ideas I had for Carrie.

This week, I’ve thrown some more outfit and wardrobe ideas at her, and she has come back to me with some responses.

It’s been such a fascinating experience for me to style someone else, and our conversation has highlighted so many issues in choosing a wardrobe, especially if you play many roles in your life.

I have since gotten to know Carrie – what she does for a living, what she does all day, where she goes when she gets dressed up, what she usually wears when she dresses up.

It turns out that Carrie has a blog! And she has offered up her side of the experience, by allowing me to publish a link to her blog – Bite Sized By Carrie.

So here are some of the major points that we have come up with so far.

Start With the Big Themes in Your Life

Most people have a theme in their life that influences the way they dress. You’ve probably heard of these styles that are often talked about: A simple and classic style, a free-spirited bohemian style, a romantic feminine and pretty style, an urban edgy-cool style, a vintage and eclectic style, a beachy and sporty style, etc.

My own secret is that, since my teens, I have been very drawn to the “rebellious” look. I have experimented with everything from gangster, goth, punk, rock and roll, heavy metal, and grunge… but now haha, it’s evolved to just elements of the “tough, rock-chick look”.

And although I don’t actually dress all-out like this, my twist on modern classics is usually with a slight, dark twist, however subtle. Interestingly, I have not in any way, ever, been drawn to the pretty-pink-princess look!

Anyway, Carrie is a mother, which is a huge theme in a woman’s life!

Generally, when women are in “mother-mode” they are practical and always on the go. For example, very rarely do you see a mother in a two-piece white suit with lace-trim attending their child’s school assembly day. Like me, Carrie spends most of her days in jeans and a t-shirt. But, when a woman comes out of mother-mode, what is their “default” style?

Also one of Carrie’s biggest passions in life is food. She runs a catering business and she just loves cooking at home, and with the kids. I found it lovely to know that she loves “food colours” such as mushrooms, deep reds, plums, burnt oranges, browns and caramels. Yum!

So it’s quite handy to start by finding a style that you are mostly drawn to, and which suits your personality.

Dress to Match Your Life (and Partner!)

Carrie mentioned that when she goes out with her husband, she prefers to dress to his style, comfortable and very casual, so that she doesn’t look like an “exotic date”. He’s already been playing dress-ups all week at work, so weekends are for relaxing and being super casual.

As Carrie and I are both ethnically Asian, I can totally relate!

In my experience, even though Asians aren’t that rare in Australia, there is this lingering racial stereotype that a slightly older white guy must be “paying by the hour” for the company of a younger Asian woman. This impression is only exaggerated if the Asian woman is overdressed compared to the guy. My husband and I have had to show people our wedding rings to convince them we are married!

So, when I go out with my husband, I like to make sure that we match in our level of style. If he’s wearing a t-shirt and jeans, you can be sure that I’m NOT wearing knee high boots, a mini skirt and a low cut top! Ha!

But since I like to dress up at any excuse, I have somewhat solved this problem by upgrading my husband’s wardrobe. I mean, I love him the way he is, and I love him even more in a slightly more stylish shirt, and maybe some “pointy” shoes (as he calls them).

It used to be that I would just lay out what I expected him to wear on the bed, but now he is so well trained that he knows not to choose a shirt and pants that both have stripes! I’m so proud!

So work out what are the events, places, occasions that you go to – Out to dinner with your partner/friends, out to watch a play, home dinner parties with friends, the occasional wedding? Does you workplace allow, or require, you to dress up?

Dress to Suit your Budget!

Carrie says in her blog: “We both have the same goal: Choosing clothes that I would actually buy, clothes that I would actually wear.”

I completely agree. This has been the biggest and trickiest goal for this styling project.

Understandably, Carrie is a little hesitant to spend hundreds of dollars on clothes that she might not have an occasion to wear, and only end up wearing once.

And I love it when people say this! I mean, who wants to flush money away pointlessly? It’s the kind of thing REAL WOMEN actually say about fashion, and something that glossy fashion magazines NEVER SAY.

The key to dressing a bit more stylishly, is buying dresses and tops are a bit pricier, higher quality, longer lasting, and more importantly, VERSATILE – so they can be worn for both day time and night time, in different mix and matches.

Learn How to Mix and Match

I whipped up a very simple examples of how to mix and match pieces with some “essential pieces” to create a “smart look” – meaning a slightly professional look.

Styling Carrie for Oprah - Outfit Ideas

It helped immensely to find that H&M had already styled the exact kind of “look” that I had in mind for Carrie, onto a real human being (although this human being is that rare sub-species – “the hot model”). Laid-flat clothes just don’t do any justice to an outfit.

Styling Carrie for Oprah - Outfit Ideas

All the pieces can be worn dressed up or dressed down.

Styling Carrie for Oprah - Outfit Ideas

Carrie also told me that she loves that I’ve chosen clothes from shops that she is comfortable with. I did that deliberately, since it is really important to go shopping for a new wardrobe with confidence as to sizing, quality, etc.

Styling Carrie for Oprah - Outfit Ideas

Her response was: She loves ALL the styles and colours! She loves that she loves it! She’s really liking the look of skinny pants and the suit jackets. And she says she’s learning an incredible amount about fashion and styling.

As am I!

I was so relieved that she liked my “style boards”. Haha, I was really nervous about her response.

And these are her kind words about my choice of shoes (shown last week) for her.

Styling Carrie for Oprah - Part 3

“Holy Crap! I could eat those shoes on the left. Those are terrific! I checked out the site and those you picked out for the style board are EXACTLY what I would have chosen… from the whole site. Are you sure this is the first time you’ve styled someone else? You know what works!!”

Yay! As you can probably tell, Carrie is not shy about telling me what she thinks.

She also mentioned that she popped into H&M, after seeing my ideas, and tried on the skinny pants that I suggested – but “apparently you need legs that don’t exist!!”. They didn’t fit her and so she’s going to try look for some in a few other shops.

Buying The Clothes

So Carrie has been actively out and about buying a few bits and pieces, based on my ideas.

Of course she’s running into fitting problems, size problems, style considerations once she’s actually wearing the clothes, and value versus costs considerations. Not to mention that she’s limited by the styles and sizes she can find in the shops. And that’s shopping for you!

So I don’t expect her to buy everything I’ve suggested.

I’ve also organized some of my favourite online shops to help Carrie experiment and build her wardrobe by supplying some garments and shoes (for free!).

These suppliers are all over the world – America, Britain, and Australia, and I adore these outlets because, even after wearing their stuff a LOT, I still find their stuff to be excellent value. So I am very happy to recommend them.

They are, in alphabetical order, Abi and Joseph,, Betts Shoes, Birdsnest and Fashion Junkee.

Hopefully, next week, I’ll have some photos of all the clothes I’ve arranged to have sent to Carrie. Maybe even Carrie wearing some of them?

How exciting. Carrie playing dress-ups!

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Inside – and Under – My Washing Machine.

4 November 2010

Our ten year old washing machine wouldn’t fill up with water one Saturday morning. It just sat there, humming loudly and stupidly in an electronic muddle.

This was bad news, since I had neglected to do any washing the whole week. So this meant that the dirty laundry was stacked up in large piles so we couldn’t close the laundry door, or get into the laundry cupboard.

I mean, there were people in the house who were on their last pair of underpants. With the washing machine out of action, we were facing (shudder in fear) emergency hand washing of undies.

My husband, who thinks he can fix anything, and who was due to take both the boys to soccer practice in 20 minutes, calmly got a screwdriver from the shed, and while still chewing his breakfast toast, began to take the washing machine apart. He unscrewed the entire control panel, and laid it to one side.

So, this is what the inside of the electroniky part of a washing machine looks like!


I was amazed that after ten years of washing clothes, the insides looked as bright, new and multi-coloured as a toddler’s Christmas present toy.

Hubby swapped the failed cold water inlet valve for the hot water inlet valve, which we never use anyway. Yay!

Yes, he is a bit older than I am, and I knew he had lived has a very full life before we got married, but I didn’t realise he had once had a secret career as a washing machine repair technician. I told him what a hero he was, and he just shrugged like it was nothing, and then smiled smugly as he screwed the control panel back on.

But when he pulled the washing machine away from the wall to change over the hoses at the back, we met an awful sight.


I am soooooo ashamed of this.

This is what the underneath of your washing machine looks like when you have a 7 year old son, and you have NEVER cleaned under the washing machine since the son was 1 year old – which is about the time you completely give up thinking that cleaning was very important. Especially not where you can’t see it. Life is far too short to clean under things in the laundry.

But I am so ashamed of it anyway.

Old cockroach baits, dead cockroaches, dust, rotted leaves, lint, spider webs, popcorn, torn paper, all formed into one flat compost heap.

But the kids were delighted. Callum said “HEY! My Mr Smiley ball! I remember him!!”

We think he’s been under there, living with all the mess, for a couple of years.

I wish I could keep up a grin like that when I’m surrounded by life’s crap!

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In Love with Leather

2 November 2010

In Love with leather

I have to admit, I am rather in love with leather.

The thing that appeals to me the most… is the texture and subtle sheen it has. When you’re wearing black leather in an all-black outfit, the leather has a subtle glow and depth about it. It’s understated chic.

My ultimate style wish-list includes – real-leather black pants!

I would love to be able to purchase real leather all the time, but it is just much too costly for me. I bought a real leather skirt a while back, and I just can’t justify anymore real leather anything (for a while).

ANYWAY the point of this post, was to show off my new leather-look shorts that arrived from YesStyle!

They look so hot! And cute! They feel buttery soft and light too. Looove them!

In Love with leather

Leather and hot pink nails! How rock-chick can I get? I just need some skulls and sheep skin boots?

In Love with leather

I chose this lovely sand-coloured blouse too, which looks like a typical shirt, but it only un-buttons half way down, the bottom bit if the shirt is sewn up.

I thought it was a bit weird… (I’m not partial to clothes with fake pockets and fake openings) but after I wore it, I realised how SO VERY convenient it was – especially when tucked it into my shorts or jeans. The tucked-in bits did not come undone in a lop-sided way.

And lastly, the necklace is a super cute, double-chain Sewing Machine and Scissors necklace from Pigeonhole – who have informed me that you can now buy their goodies online. Check out their accessories range. They have some of the best range of quirkiest jewellery I’ve seen online.

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.

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The Joy of Tippy-Toes

1 November 2010

Liam 19 months - Bananas

My 19month old toddler has learned how to stand on his toes.

Which means he can now reach things that we have purposely placed just that *little higher* or just that *little further away* from his grasp.

Take for example, above, exhibit A.


Yesterday I found one behind the couch. Another inside the kitchen cupboard, inside a cooking pot. And the last one in my husband’s work boots.

And see his bite marks???

It looks kinda cute – in a naughty little monkey kind of way.

But it’s so damn annoying.

My toddler is like a little hurricane, spinning around with noise and energy, creating havoc and mess where ever he goes.

I’ve learnt how to just sigh and put up with all the mess.

If not, I’d probably drive myself crazy by with all the running after him and never-ending cleaning up!

Oh the joys of parenting.