Archive for August 2011


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My 6 Favourite Asian Brands

30 August 2011

I talk about YesStyle quite often – a huge online shop specialising in high-street fashion from Asia.

If you’ve ever been to the site, maybe you’ve been a bit overwhelmed by all the brands available. Because they stock a lot of brands from Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan.

So I wanted to feature a few of my favourite brands from there.


The clothes in this brand is bold, cool, relaxed, but still with a modern edge, which I really like. There are lots of jersey items, slouchy tees, tank dresses, chiffon skirts, cropped pants, denim shirts…

and THIS – a leopard print playsuit! It’s silky, effortless, yet polished. I am so in love with it!

Playsuit from Yesstyle

2) Ode’

I’m wearing it with a white blazer (which I have worn SO many times) from a brand called ode’.

Their clothes are a more grown-up sophisticated, yet feminine and modern. The quality from this brand is really good too.

Playsuit from Yesstyle

3) M.E.R.S.H

Another very modern, polished, and high quality label from Korea. That have lots of smart, casual workwear-styles, that are great for wearing from day-to-night. I particularly like their tops and blouses.

I own a beige trench coat and a few tops from this brand.

4) Redopin

This brand is full of trendy, street-style clothes, that are just very cool. Great looking drape tops, tank dresses, shirts, jackets, cardigans and more.

I own quite a few items of clothes from this label!

5) StyleKelly

This brand has some really nice pieces, lots of elegant basics like jackets, tops, and cropped pants.

Lots of stuff to see. Affordable, fun, flirty, trendy pieces, with a feminine edge.

( 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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Celebrating Malaysian Hawker Food in Perth

29 August 2011

These last few weeks, I’ve been working with Malaysian Kitchen – a global initiative of the Malaysian Government celebrating Malaysian cuisine around the world.

For my blog, I wanted to feature some classic and typical Malaysian dishes, in particular the “cheap and cheerful” dishes sold at hawker food stalls.

I don’t claim to be an expert, however after a bit of asking around and research… this is what I ate over a few weeks!

Malaysian Cuisine

First up, I had a classic Malaysian breakfast – kaya toast, soft-boiled eggs and teh tarik.

Kaya is a sweet coconut egg jam that is spread on toast.

The soft-boiled egg, as I discovered, is quite a favourite amongst Malaysians. When I asked people about it, most of them come over with this starry, distant look in their eyes and they tell me that it was their favourite as a kid.

Teh Tarik is a strong, sweet tea (a mixture of black tea and sweetened condensed milk) that has been poured in a special way as to mix and froth the drink.

I was also keen to try roti canai, another popular Malaysia breakfast, but there’s only so much I can eat in one sitting.

Malaysian Cuisine

This is Nasi Lemak, a fragrant coconut milk rice served with chilli anchovy sambal. I was told by some, that this is the “National Dish of Malaysia”.

In this serve, I also ordered it with fried chicken, which is not very typical, but they were really tasty!

I was recommended this place by several people, and am more than happy to share the address. They also do a very yummy Chicken Feet Dry Noodles.

The Rice Noodle House
4/114 Barbican St
Shelley, 6148
(08) 9259 5532

Malaysian Cuisine

Penang Assam Laksa is a noodle dish with a hot, spicy and sour soup. There is seafood, mint, pineapple, fish broth and other goodies all mixed together. It is an explosion of flavours and I really love it!

I actually took this picture a few months ago, and I’m using it now, because the more recent time I went to eat this, I forgot to take my camera. Some blogger I am!

I totally recommend the place:

Espresso Seven Seas Cafe
Shop 7/3 Kearns Crescent
Applecross, 6153

Malaysian Cuisine

Fish Head Noodle Soup

I was told by several friends that I just *had* to try this dish – deep fried fish heads (and wings), eaten with a bowl of rice noodles and soup…. and it was indeed very good.

My friend brought me to this very popular shop, which was quite famous, just because of this dish.

It was nestled in the quite suburban streets, and it was FULL of people. There were probably 10 tables crammed together, with 4 people on each table, and every single person was eating this dish. There were fish head bones all over the tables, people were talking loudly, it was a great atmosphere!
Bateman Chinese Malaysian Restaurant
6/22 Parry Avenue
Bateman WA 6150
(08) 9332 0838

Malaysian Cuisine

Char kway teow is a fried flat noodle dish, cooked in a dark soy sauce, chili, various seafoods and meats, and bean sprouts. There are lots of variations.

When I worked in Singapore, I ate this dish twice a week. But where I ate it, there were bits of lard (yes crispy, solid bits of pig fat!) and cockles and definitely no green stuff in it! This particular serve was rather “healthy”.

Spencer Village Food Court
200 Spencer Rd,
Thornlie, WA, 6108

It was very interesting that almost  all the “recommended” hawker food places were south of the river!

There were a lot of other dishes that I wanted to try. And a lot of very popular Malaysian eateries that I wanted to go to… but I ran out of time.

So these are some other places in Perth that were recommended to me.

Hawker’s Cuisine
17/68 Roe St
Northbridge, 6003
(08) 9328 9668

Old Cathay
59 Albany Hwy
Victoria Park, 6100
(08) 9361 1881

Rasa Nyonya Penang Restaraunt
Shop 6&7 1019 Albany Highway
East Victoria Park, 6102
(08) 9470 3847

Bull Creek Hawker
118 Parry Ave
Bull Creek, 6149
(08) 9312 3888

113 Collins Rd Shop 51
Willetton, 6155
(08) 9354 4888

For my next post, I’ll be eating at a more “upmarket” dining establishment of Malaysian cuisine!

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My 10 Trans-season Wardrobe Essentials

26 August 2011

10 Trans-season Essentials

Today I woke up, I looked at my wardrobe and I was bored of wearing bright colours. Maybe it was the weather. Maybe I had gone into bright colour overload.

Whatever it was, I wanted to curl up and wear all my favourite trans-season clothes, plus some non-bright blues and greens.

You can’t go wrong with these pieces –

1. Silver aviators (Raybans),
2. A white blazer (Dorothy Perkins),
3. Skinny black jeans (J Brand),
4. Green silk tank (Alice in the Eve),
5. Black and white stripe top (Michael Kors),
6. Chuck taylors (Converse),
7. Leopard print flats (Marc Jacobs),
8. Denim blue shirt (Elizabeth & James),
9. Mint nail polish (OPI), and
10. A chunky bracelet (Lanvin).

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

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Post from the Past: Noises in the Night

25 August 2011

I wrote this post in May 2004, when my first born, Callum was 1 year old. It was the first – of many – “midnight scares” I have had as a parent.


It was 2am. I was sleeping like the dead. Passed out. Utterly unconsciousness from a long day’s work. I was dreaming of tropical sunsets, pineapple cocktails and 7 large Thai men massaging coconut oil into my back.

That is, until I heard a noise.

A strange, cold howling noise that made my eyelids fly open. I stared into the darkness. I didn’t dare move. I just laid very very still. WHAT THE F*** WAS THAT NOISE??

It sounded like a dying cat. A dog? No a SEAL. A BABY SEAL! THERE’S A BABY SEAL IN MY SON’S BEDROOM! I leapt up and fumbled around in the darkness as I tried to find my pants. My head was in a blur of tropical seals drinking coconut oil.

The noise was horrific. A dying baby seal, tortuously gasping for air.

I stumbled down the hall, into my baby’s room and switched on the light. There was no seal. But no seal meant MY SON was making THAT NOISE. And one year old boys are NOT supposed to sound like DYING SEALS.

I found my son, red faced and gasping for air. Was he choking? Was there something wrong with his lungs? Is he convulsing? Nothing in my entire life had prepared me for the feeling that exploded in my stomach. It was sickening.

I was frozen, trying to make sense of what I was seeing. Callum was crying. He was trying to breath in, but made barking seal noises instead. He obviously wasn’t getting enough air and was red-faced and gasping. I was horrified. Zillions of first aid steps whizzed through my head. Check for breathing. Check his air passages. Check his temperature. Good lord, it was the scariest moment in my life as a parent.

There was nothing stuck in his airways. He was still in control of his body. He just wasn’t getting enough air and he was freaking out.

I screamed for my husband.

I suddenly remembered reading a home remedy for a congested air passage. We grabbed Callum and ran to the shower. We turned on the hot water and hovered his head over the steam. The heat from the steam soothes the constricted muscles.

All three of us sat on the floor of our steamy bathroom.

Silent. Hearts racing. Heads dizzy from shock.

Callum started to feel feverish and started to shake.

My husband and I looked at each other sharing only one thought, “Oh god, do we really want three kids?”

Things calmed down after we took his temperature, gave him some baby panadol and called the 24 hour health nurse. I was so relieved.

Callum’s mood lifted considerably after the drugs, food and cuddles, so we decided we weren’t going to drag him to the doctor at 3am.

Which turned out to be a wise move, because he happily went back to sleep by 4am.

The next day I was still edgy and tense. I didn’t sleep well.

I was exhausted.

I told my mum about it, hoping for some sympathy and offers for babysitting. But she laughed, as she waved me off with her hands. “Aiyah, why so dramatic? No big deal lah. It happens to all babies.”

And in a matter of seconds I felt happy that I wasn’t the only mother in the world to wake up to the sound of a choking baby, and somewhat pissed off that I’ll never have an original baby story to tell the world.

It turns out that the night before, we gave Callum a whole cup of cow’s milk. He’s not allergic to cow’s milk per se. Only large quantities of it bring about a mild swelling in his throat, hence his inability to breathe properly.

Thank God I read all those parenting books with all those “stupid” home remedy tricks.

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Win a $1000 Voucher from Frockaholics!

24 August 2011

I have a very exciting and exclusive giveaway for you all this week.

I’ve been working with the team at Frockaholics and they want to give away a $1000 VOUCHER to one of my lucky readers! is an online boutique that stocks some of the hottest Australian designer fashion – Alex Perry, Magdalena Velevska, Josh Goot, Ginger and Smart, Wayne Cooper, Rachel Gilbert, Willow, Samantha Wills, Sara Philips, Bec and Bridge, Sacha Drake, Collette Dinnigan, Camilla & Marc, Dion Lee, Gary Bigeni… just to name a few.

That’s $1000 to spend on much lusted-after designer clothes. Yay!

So I selected a few items that caught my eye, the Frockaholics team sent them over plus a WHOLE BOX full of other clothes… and I was in dress-up paradise.

I spent hours trying everything on, going: hmm, nope, gosh, gasp, oh my, eeeeek, yes, meh, WOW, jeepers, oh woe, I love my job!!

I couldn’t feature them all, so here were my top 3 picks.

Frockaholics - Aug 2011

This here is the Cream Cinita Gown, by Rachel Gilbert, $995. It was beeeeautiful to wear!

If you wanted to buy just one *spectacular dress* with your $1000 win, Rachel Gilbert is a good way to go. There are lots of gorgeous sequin dresses and heavenly silky dresses that will make you drool.

View the Rachel Gilbert collection here.

Frockaholics - Aug 2011

This is another gorgeous dress by Rachel Gilbert, called the Black Chevon Dress, $795.

The quality and detail of the embellishments, the style and the fabric makes this dress an excellent investment piece. It’s effortless, stunning, and eye-catching!

You’d probably get a bit more wear out of this style of dress too.

Check out all the Evening Designer Dresses on Frockaholics.

Frockaholics - Aug 2011

This Ginger and Smart maxi skirt ($489) was also a favourite of mine. I wished I could have kept it. I’ve been looking for an awesome, statement maxi skirt for ages.

The print is unusual, colourful and bold, the length and fabric is very on trend. I wonder if I could wear it as a dress too?

The Ginger and Smart collection is really cool. Lots of awesome prints, mixed up with sleek, modern tailoring. Worth a look.

Anyway, I sat down and had a good think about – what could someone buy for $1000? Here are some ideas.

Frockaholics - Aug 2011

3 brand new party/cocktail dresses…
Sacha Drake ($329)
Natasha Gan ($279)
Matthew Eager ($379)

Frockaholics - Aug 2011

A whole outfit, with lots of versatile pieces to wear again…
Jacket by Alex Perry ($559)
Shorts by Wayne Cooper ($195)
Top by American Vintage ($99)
Nude wedges ($169)

Frockaholics - Aug 2011

Designer pieces that we swoon over, but could never afford!

View all from Camilla

View all from Camilla and Marc

View all from Josh Goot


Win a $1000 Voucher from Frockaholics

This giveaway is now closed! Thanks!


Frockaholics Facebook Page
Please pop over and LIKE the Frockaholics Facebook Page, where you can find a lot more ideas on featured items, hot Australian designers, new arrivals and more.

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

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What is the sound of a tantrum, when there is no one to listen?

22 August 2011

Liam at his gym class

This is my 2.5yo, Liam throwing a tantrum.

This is also Liam looking up at me to make sure that I was WATCHING HIM THROW A TANTRUM.

The truth is, I am so indifferent to tantrums in public, so much so, I think he looks quite cute. I suppose I can say that without any fuss at all, because 1) he’s my third and last baby, and 2) I’m completely OVER the whole tantrum thing. What-ever kid.

We were at our weekly gymnastics class, during the free play session…

Liam stepped off a pink car (as it was the end of his turn anyway) and a little girl took the pink car from him.

Liam decided he wanted the pink car back, so he pushed the girl away, and at the same time, the girl’s dad found a BLUE car and gave it to Liam.

But Liam refused to have the blue car, because he likes pink. The dad was like WTF, and I tried to explain that Liam prefers PINK things…

But at the same time I decided that Liam wasn’t having any car because he shoved the little girl…

And so here he is throwing himself on the ground, rolling and shouting,


The whole car exchange happened in 5 seconds…

And the tantrum lasted 15 minutes.

(Which isn’t that bad actually.)

(And I still love him to bits.)

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San Churro, Northbridge WA

19 August 2011

Two of my closest friends have opened a San Churro Chocolateria in Northbridge, Perth. It’s been a huge dream that’s finally come to fruition.

San Churro, Northbridge WA

It happens to be the LARGEST San Churros Store in Australia. It can hold up to 230 people, it has a back area with a gorgeous “secret garden” feel, and it will soon open out into the street/park with an alfresco area.

I am so happy and excited for them!

Karen Cheng in San Churro, Northbridge WA

Anyway, the other night, they had an exclusive grand opening for friends and family.

They treated everyone to gorge themselves with chocolate goodness.

San Churro, Northbridge WA

This is a churro – a Spanich doughnut. It’s made fresh, and dusted with cinnamon-sugar. You dip it in hot, melted chocolate. It’s veeeeery yummy.

San Churro, Northbridge WA

I tried the famous San Churro Hot Chocolate, poured over white chocolate ice cream. It’s ridiculously sweet, but so delicious and rich.

And I had it with a serve of Chocolate Tapas, a tasting plate of all the goodies on offer, including churros, truffles, brownies, chocolate biscuits, diping chocolate, ice cream and strawberries.

Needless to say, I was very full of chocolate.

The Chocolateria is in an amazing location in Perth – right in the heart of Northbridge – corner of James and Lake Street. And it is right next to the Northbridge Piazza, the grassy square where they show bean bag movies during summer (and winter).

They are now open for business, do pop by and say hi!

132 James Street
Northbridge, Western Australia
Australia 6003

Opening Hours
Mon – Thu 12pm-12am
Fri – Sat 12pm-2am
Sun 12pm-12am

Chocolateria San Churro Northbridge on Urbanspoon

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Old Red Wine

18 August 2011

The other day, we went to a friend’s place for a dinner party. Before dinner began, my friend revealed that TODAY was the perfect evening for him to open a bottle of wine that he had been keeping in his wine cellar for so long.

He was going to share it among the 6 guests. This meant that we would only get one small glass each – which suited me fine, since I can only tolerate very small amounts of alcohol.

Old Red Wine

There was lots of ooohing and ahhhing over the French wine bottle. It was so old that it had literally gathered dust. It’s not every day that you get to drink an 11 year old bottle of French wine (well not for me anyway).

When the wine bottle was opened, there was great relief when the cork came out cleanly. My friend explained that the bottle had been stored upside down, and the wine kept the cork moist –  so it would not crumble.

Old Red Wine

Dinner took some time to prepare, so we were all in quite a state of anticipation when we finally sat down to eat – and drink.

But then a funny thing happened. My wine loving friend ate two mouthfuls of the pasta, and a tiny sip of the wine, and then he said “Everyone stop drinking! This is not the right dish to go with this wine.”

At first, I thought he was joking, but then I realised he was absolutely serious. The pasta sauce was “too robust” for the wine’s “character”.

And since it was his wine, we all ate the rest of our meals with our wine glasses untouched.

Talk about fussy wine-drinkers!

About fifteen minutes after dinner, we allowed to resume appreciating the wine.

There was lots of discussion about how subtle the flavours were. How the wine had matured in “complex” ways.  And how French wines were far more sophisticated than Australian wines, which typically have “bolder” flavours.

Old Red Wine

I thought the wine was just okay, and to be honest, I really enjoy wine with stand-out flavours. You know, tough enough to take over your mouth and say “I’m here!!!”

So, I’m afraid that the wine was wasted on my “uneducated” taste.

(I can only hope that my friend does not read my blog!)

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Heart and Soul by GlamRockChic

17 August 2011

Earlier this year I wrote on my blog about a luxury footwear label called, GlamRockChic.

I tried out a shoe style called Heart and Soul (Black) – and I raved about how comfortable they were.

Added to that, I wore them during Australian Fashion Week this year, and spent up to 7 hours one day walking around in them. The result was magic. No sore ankles, no blisters, nothing!

GlamRockChic Designer Footwear

Anyway, the team at GlamRockChic remembered that I initially wanted to try the beige pair, and they recently sent a pair over for me to try. Apparently they are the season’s best sellers!

I adore everything about this beige pair. The nude colour, the gold accents, the red heel (the red heel!), the heart shape cut-out, the heel height, and they are also sooooo comfortable.

GlamRockChic Designer Footwear

So here is the Heart and Soul (Beige) and the  Heart and Soul (Black).

I’ve been told that since my last review, they have been sold out, and a lot of my readers had requested for them. So we’re letting you know that new stock is in and they now are available in size 36 and 37!

Happy shopping!

( 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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A Mum For All Ages

15 August 2011

Last week, we had many [MANY!] consecutive days of really bad behaviour from my children. They were constantly being rude, disrespectful, disobedient, naughty, out-of-control, and I swore I listed out enough punishments to last them until the were 18 year old.

I was convinced that I was bringing up a bunch of horrible little people. And I felt like such a horrible mother.

Anyway, this email landed in my inbox last week, and well, I was having a vulnerable moment, and it made me cry a little.

A 3 year old a child will say, ”Mummy I love you!!”

At 10 years old they’ll say, ”Whatever Mum.”

At 16 years, “My mum is so annoying!!”

At 18 years, “I’m leaving this house.”

At 25 years, ”Mum, you were right.”

At 30 years, ”I want to go to my mum’s house.”

At 50 years, ”I don’t want to lose my mum.”

At 70 years, “I would give up everything to have my mum here with me.”

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Perth Fashion Festival Program Launch 2011

12 August 2011

Perth Fashion Festival Programme Launch 2011

Early this week I was invited to an exclusive fashion party by the Perth Fashion Festival, who were launching their official program for 2011.

As always, the party was crammed with the gorgeous and best dressed people of Perth. It was a very exciting and cool atmosphere.


In the above photo, I was standing and listening to the speeches… I was also testing the ISO settings on my camera, and snapped a few test shots.

When I got home, it turned out that I adored the colours in the photo! I was wearing a lime dress, standing next to designer Poppy Lissiman, who was wearing her own snake-print dress.


So many people were wearing stacks of amazing rings and bracelets and jewellery! Gorgeous stuff!

Perth Fashion Festival 2011 Launch

The very talented stylist, Hannah McGrath, wears the coolest shoes. Me love.


This year PFF has a great line up of stand-alone designer runway shows, including Aurelio Costarella, Story By Tang, Ae’lkemi, S2, Wheels & Dollbaby, Magdalena Velevska and Yeojin Bae.

Visit Perth Fashion Festival to find out more.

I’m looking forward to it!

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A Post from the Past: Callum’s Swimming Lessons

11 August 2011

I wrote this post in July 2003, when my first child, Callum, was 3 months old.

In Australia you can go to a special indoor, heated hydro-therapy pool and have swimming classes for your baby. The mother (or father) is in the water with the child, and everyone sings and does actions.


2003 - Callum (3mo) at Swimming Lessons

Our 2nd baby swim class!

Callum was much more relaxed this time.

We swished and swayed in the water and he ALMOST gave me a giggle. But he was distracted by the 6 month old baby (all the other babies are only 3 months) who was showing off by paddling with his hands and doing somersaults in the water.

2003 - Callum (3mo) at Swimming Lessons

Cal still hasn’t got full control of his neck muscles, so he loved floating on his back. The rest of the time, he was Mr Floppy Head.

2003 - Callum (3mo) at Swimming Lessons

I find it cute – but frustrating – how babies and kids just LOVE nursery rhymes and kid songs. I can’t STAND them. Grrr. They are just so twinkly and silly and irritating!

There’s only so many times I can sing along to ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ in a high-pitched, chirpy sing-song way while gritting my teeth. Sigh.

I guess as long as the kids are enjoying themselves, I’ll be happy to put up with it :)

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Habbot Studios Shoe Giveaway Winner!

10 August 2011

Habbot Studios - Rue Bebelon - Tan & BlackThe winner for my exclusive Shoe Giveaway courtesy of Habbot Studios is…

XiuHui from Singapore. Congratulations!!

She chose a pair of Rue Bebelon in Tan & Black, worth AUD$420. (Pictured here)

Thank you to everyone for entering, supporting and for all your kind comments!

Free Shipping Offer – With such an incredible response, the founder of Habbot Studios, Annie, felt a bit sad that everyone couldn’t win a pair of shoes. So they are now offering all Habbot Studio Facebook Fans FREE SHIPPING on the shoes they love…but just until this Sunday night (14 August 11, 11:59 AEST).

So quick, become a Habbot Studios Facebook Fan now (just LIKE the page), grab your little Habbot favourites, and use this discount code at the checkout FSKC.

(If you already purchased during the competition please email them at and they’ll refund your shipping!)

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Red Hot Heels

9 August 2011

I received this pair of Silhouette Heels from the Betts team the other day, and all I can say is – HELLOOOOO RED!

Red Hot Heels from Betts

Ok even I have to admit, the height of the heels are crazy-high but, they look soooo cool :)

Green Kimono Top from ASOS
Jeans by Vivienne Westwood
Sunnies by Ray Ban
Bracelets mixed brands
Silhouette Shoes by Betts

Red Hot Heels from Betts

I just love the way they make my outfits go BANG with colour!

Top from YesStyle
Blue pants from ASOS
Silhouette Shoes by Betts

( 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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A weekend catch-up in the garden

8 August 2011

In the Garden: Karen and Oranges

We had a fantastic weekend! The weather was lovely and cool, and I was in such a happy and relaxed mood.

In the Garden: Vegetable Bed

I was busy doing some planting and potting during the day.

I have 4 very large vegetable beds, which I have tended and filled up with mixed lettuce, rocket lettuce, spinach, sugar snaps, broccoli, capsicums – all the things my family eats a lot of.

It makes me so happy to see baby vegetables :)

The rest of the weekend was filled with family lunches, dinner parties, soccer,  a cocktail party, a birthday party, sleep overs, and an outing with the kids to Fremantle.

I am blessed with a very rich and busy life!

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A Post from the Past: My First Born Child

6 August 2011

The other day I was reading some of my old posts and I was filled with a wonderful sense of nostalgia and strength. I love that I have an online record of my life as a new mother… and I really wanted to share some of it again with everyone. Enjoy!


Apr 17, 2003

Callum is Born, April 2003

Callum was born Saturday 12th April 2003, 3:00pm.

I was in labour for 15 hours and although I had an ‘au naturale’ birth, I did end up having an epidural.

That was fine with me, because after the birth, I lost quite a bit of blood, I got whipped up to intensive care and had a 9 hour blood transfusion. I was also on standby for emergency surgery (to surgically remove my uterus,before I bled to death).

But I recovered and went home 4 days later.

Callum is Born, April 2003

Nonetheless, I’m doing GREAT!

I’m on this SUPER-DUPER high.

My baby is happy and healthy and adorable and burpy and pooey and hungry and just doing really REALLY well.
He’s a *dream* baby. I’m sooOOooOoo happy.

Lots of people have asked about the name we chose.

Callum : Scottish Gaelic form of the name Columba – which is Latin for dove-like. Columba was the name of the 6th Century Saint who brought Christianity to the West of Scotland.

Callum is Born, April 2003

These pictures were taken when he was 4 days old – looking all cute, crinkled and pink and puffy.  So very cute!

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Adam Liaw’s Malaysian Beef Rendang

4 August 2011

These last few weeks, I’ve been working on a project with Malaysian Kitchen – a global initiative of the Malaysian Government celebrating Malaysian cuisine around the world.

So to celebrate Malaysian food, firstly, I decided to cook my favourite Malaysian dish – beef rendang.

(Actually, it’s my husband’s favourite dish. I’m just a very good wife.)

I used the recipe from the Two Asian Kitchens Cookbook by Australian Masterchef Winner Adam Liaw.

And let me tell you, it was really simple. So simple that my 6 year old son helped me.

I followed the recipe exactly too!

Malaysian Beef Rendang, Recipe By Adam Liaw

These are just some of the ingredients in the recipe.

I even bought an actual, fresh coconut – to grate, roast and pound. Ha how authentic is that!

That vulgar looking root at the front is a turmeric root. I’ve never seen one before! It stained my chopping board!

I thought I’d have a problem finding all the ingredients, but to my delight, my local fruit and vegetable shop stocked everything.

Malaysian Beef Rendang, Recipe By Adam Liaw

I chopped and sliced everything up, while my 6 year old son threw it into a food processor.

Ok I admit working with a fresh coconut was a bit time consuming and overrated in the end. Adam suggests that using desiccated coconut is just as good. And I’ll be doing that next time.

Malaysian Beef Rendang, Recipe By Adam Liaw

Using the fresh ingredients was absolutely worth it. The smell was already incredible and we hadn’t even cooked anything yet.

We threw the processed stuff into a pot.

Added meat, coconut milk, lime leaves, lemongrass.

Slow cooked it for 2 hours.

Malaysian Beef Rendang, Recipe By Adam Liaw

And look at that!

Absolutely, mouth-wateringly brilliant.

Everyone knows that brown meat curry doesn’t look good when photographed, so I left the pieces of lime leaves mixed with the meat to add a bit of visual interest. YUMMMM!!!

We fed a dinner party of 6 people, and they were all very, very happy indeed. I felt like such a culinary rockstar :)


Adam Liaw’s Malaysian Beef Rendang

Serves 4-6
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking: About 2 hours


1 tablespoon of oil
1kg of chuck steak, cut into 3cm cubes
3 stalks of lemongrass, white part only, bruised with a pestle
3 kaffir lime leaves shredded
2 teaspoons sugar
400 ml coconut cream
100g grated fresh coconut (or 130g desiccated coconut)

Base Paste
8 eschalots
6 red birds-eye chillies
6 garlic cloves
3cm piece of galangal (peeled and thickly sliced)
3cm of ginger (peeled and thickly sliced)
3cm of turmeric (peeled and thickly sliced)
2 teaspoon sea salt flakes

1. Base paste – Put all the ingredients in a food processor (or mortar) and grind to a fairly smooth paste.

2. Heat oil in a large saucepan and fry the paste, stirring often over medium heat for 5 minutes until fragrant.

3. Add beef, lemongrass, kaffir leaves and sugar and toss to coat in the paste.

4. Add coconut cream and 250mL of water and bring to low simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, then uncover and cook for 1 hour.

5. Meanwhile, dry-fry the coconut in a frying pan until golden brown. Transfer to a mortar and grind to a paste.

6. Add the ground coconut and cook for 30 minutes, stirring often. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve with hot jasmine rice (or coconut rice).

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

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Habbot Studio Shoes (And enter to WIN a pair of shoes!)

2 August 2011

I want to introduce everyone to Habbot Studios – a shoe brand with French inspired details, with fresh Australian style, and with all shoes handmade in Italy, from fine Italian leathers.

Annie Abbot, the designer behind the brand, had a career path that really piqued my interest in the brand. She started in the London buying office for Net-a-porter, then moved to Sydney where she worked with Sass & Bide, then into product development for a footwear company, and now she’s launched her dream as shoe designer and founder of Habbot Studios.

Her designs are so simple and strong. Using classic silhouettes with mixed textures, creating a collection of shoes that are elegant, stylish and really look unique!

I chose 3 pairs shoes to test out, and Annie graciously offered one pair as a gift.

Also one of my readers will be able to win one pair of shoes (of their choice) from the site! Please read below for more details.

And the Habbot Studios online shop is having a 50% OFF sale on all shoes from their Autumn/Winter 11 Collection.

Habbot Studios

The first shoe I chose were the Rou Bebelon Shoes. Drawing inspiration from chic French footwear from the 1940s… I was definitely drooling over these. A classic beauty. Their style makes them very versatile for any outfit – with pants, stockings, skirts.

I slipped them on and oooooooh they were simply wonderful and comfortable to wear. Nothing beats wearing real leather, quality made shoes. They even have full leather lining and leather sole.

This style also comes in black leather. (And if you’re going to enter the competition and need a hand choosing a shoe style, I think this one would be the best choice towards “investing in a stylish wardrobe”).

Habbot Studios

I also chose this pair called Degraves Street in GOLD, because I wanted to try out something bold with a bit more *statement*. They’re so quirky and cool!

It was a bit of a fashion risk, because I thought the gold and the black shape might just overpower my outfit, and perhaps look too crazy and bold, possibly like a clown?

But after wearing them with a few simple outfits, like crop pants + singlet, shorts + tee, and a skirt… I felt the shoes added *just* the right amount of statement to my outfits.

So much so, I was tempted to select these as the ones to keep. And it was a close toss up between the white one too.

Habbot Studios

Lastly I tried the Hosier Lane – Made from velvet and patent leather.

I loved the mixing of velvet and patent – so very cool – and that was the winner for me.

These were the ones I decided to keep. I put them on and they were so comfortable, like they were giving my feet a great big hug. The heel was a fantastic height for every day wear. It’s style is truly timeless, classic and versatile. A perfect addition to any wardrobe.

There are quite a few more styles that you can find on the Habbot Studio site, so do pop on over to have a closer look.

All shoes from the current AW11 Collection are currently 50% OFF!


I’m running a giveaway! You can WIN a pair of lush Italian leather Habbot shoes of your choice.

It’s open to all my readers – WORLDWIDE .

How to Enter

1) Go to Habbot Studio Facebook Page and LIKE IT

2) You’ll see a Wall Post about the “Karen Cheng Reader Giveaway”

3) Make a comment on that Wall Post and tell us – a) your name, b) shoe size, c) which shoe [the shoe name please] you would love to own from the AW11 Collection.

That’s it!

Winner will be randomly selected via random number generator.

Giveaway ends on the Tuesday 9 August 2011, 23:59 AEST.

Hope you win!

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

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Loving and Loathing

1 August 2011

It’s been a tough week at our house.

My 2 year old has been sick with the flu, had a runny nose, a chesty cough, a high fever for 3 days… and not to mention a really shitty attitude.

His sleep has been disrupted. He’s been lethargic and floppy. He’s been losing weight and getting sicker and sicker by the day. He has been very miserable, and I have been cuddling him a lot, and GIVING IN TO HIM A LOT.

It’s kind of amazing and funny at the same time… that as a parent, when your child is sick, you find yourself suddenly filled with so much love and patience. So much more than you ever thought possible for yourself.

When you’re in that situation, you seem to have an overwhelming sense of strength, clarity and purpose, and yet helplessness and vulnerability too. You’d do anything to make your child better. Anything to keep them alive.

I guess in a way, it is an enriching experience.

But other than that…

Having a sick child is a fricking PAIN IN THE ASS.

Liam would go the whole day and refuse to drink anything. Complete, utter refusal.

First he wouldn’t drink any water or milk. So we started offering him other fluids like orange juice, then apple and blackcurrant cordial. He would sip and spit it out.

Heck we even went to the shops to buy him all the stuff that he loves, but he isn’t usually allowed, like – chocolate milk, a can of fizzy raspberry soft drink, a can of soya bean drink. He wouldn’t go near any of it.

I mean, how do you make a kid drink fluids?!? That is, without forcing it down his throat and choking him, otherwise known as the Chinese Aunty Torture method.

I remember my aunties would squeeze open the lips of children, flip their heads way back and pour medicinal drinks down their throats… until they were coughing and spluttering it all back out, through their noses… and it just makes a terrible mess all over their face and necks.

I personally don’t remember having that done to me, maybe we were all lined up and it happened to my cousins? Or my little sister? Then again, only one of us needed to go through that in order for the rest of us to get the message.

Anyway, I was getting really, really stressed and frustrated with my 2 year old.

For 2 days, we tried ignoring the whole situation and treating The Drinking Of Water like it was no big deal. Then we tried bribing, giving rewards, offering special treats, happy talk with lots of kisses and cuddles. Then we tried scolding, punishment, time-outs, and all that jazz.

The number of times he spat out everything we gave him, threw it all over the floor, threw a tantrum, threw furniture around, cried, screamed and flung his body around – it was countless. I was at my wit’s end.

Liam 2.5yo

Then (in this photo above) I casually handed Liam yet another cup of water. It must’ve been a good couple of hours since the last drink I offered him. And I was so nice to him in those hours. He sat on my lap. We played puzzles. We watched his favourite movie. We read books and I sang to him.

But he must’ve sense how tense I was about “the drinking of water”. He saw that my casual gesture was forced and desperate, and that in this battle of the wills, I was vulnerable.

Because instead of drinking it, he poured it down the front of his shirt.

And then he gave me those apologetic eyes. He was all squeaky and pleading, “I’m so sorry mummy. It was an accident.”

But it was SO NOT an accident.

I almost lost it. In that moment, I wanted him to be very, very far away from me. But I also felt so sorry for my poor, sick, miserable child.

I wanted to explode in a fit of frustration and anger, guilt and compassion.

(I took a photo of him instead.)

So. Yes. It is possible to feel equal amounts of love AND loathing. At the same time.

It’s crazy. But that’s parenting for you.