Archive for May 2012

 

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I Am Forever Twelve

31 May 2012

Kids Sneakers

My kids are growing up fast.

Every new season they get bigger and bigger, while my size and height remain in a frozen state of twelve-year-oldness.

On the left, are my 7 yo’s shoes. Kids size 2, with messy laces and odd socks, of course

In the middle, are my 9 yo’s shoes. Kids size 3, with perfectly tied shoe laces and matching socks.

On the right, are my shoes. Adult ladies size 5.

I’m not looking forward to the day my boys grow taller than me.


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Abi and Joseph Jackets and Gym Wear

29 May 2012

I have some fabulous new updates from Abi and Joseph to share with you today!

I have a special discount code for all my wonderful readers –
Get FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING and receive 10% off your order!
Yippee! Scroll below for details.

Abi and Joseph

First I want to talk about this cool Supplex Mesh Bomber Jacket.

The “Sports Luxe” look is one of the hottest looks of the season… and this graphite and yellow jacket is absolutely swoon worthy.

It is made from Supplex Mesh which has breathable, flexible and moisture wicking qualities. It’s perfect for throwing over your gym clothes when you head out to the gym. And also looks great when worn with everyday outfits (jeans or shorts)

I love it because it’s light to wear, it’s a great cover-up before and after workouts and it looks awesome! Love that yellow trim – matches my shoes!

Abi and Joseph

Here’s a close up of the jacket. And what it looks like zipped up.

I’m also wearing a yellow Pilates and Yoga Bra, made from luxe Italian Lycra, with a comfy T-back style (so you can wear it with racer back tops). Comes in black, navy, coffee, purple, pink and yellow.

Abi and Joseph

This is the Cotton Bomber Jacket, in Pink.

This jacket is made in Australia, made from 100% cotton, so it’s super comfy and feels really nice to wear. It’s great for yoga, pilates, working out, travel and everyday wear.

I like the vibrant pink and the design is eye catching!

Abi and Joseph

Again here’s a close up and what it looks like zipped up.

It’s a good fit for me, snug and close to the body, not baggy. I’m wearing the XS for both jackets.

Abi and Joseph

THIS is the Hooded Vuelta Zip Jacket!

It is pretty amazing – made from Italian Vuelta (soft, comfy, warm, lightweight, breathable, pilling resistant, thermal protection, and anti-bacterial!). It has a classic and simple design, perfect worn for weekend, gym or travel wear.

It’s gorgeous! I love that it’s warm (kind of like a light fleece lining) yet breathable. And it has a lovely sheen on the fabric making it look a little more sophisticated than an average “casual” cotton jacket.

It’s also an XS, but its fit is a little more relaxed.

Abi and Joseph

And here are some super cool coloured tops available from Abi and Joseph. They are all super luxe, super soft, comfortable, high quality, stretchy, thick and strong fabric.

I like them because I can just wear a sports bra underneath and the fabric is not see-through at all. I can layer them easily, they don’t have loud/tacky logos, and I can wear them as everyday wear.

AND I love them because… after I hand wash them and dry them flat, I don’t need to iron them. I just pop them on and the creases just stretch out (haha I mean, who wants to iron workout gear??).

(And remember you can get 10% off with my discount code!)

From left –

MINT Body Top 3/4 Sleeve
This is a gorgeous colour! You could wear this to the gym or throw on some jeans or a pretty skirt and wear it out as everyday wear. Comes in heaps of different colours too.

This is a XS, but I found that it was a little roomy (a tiny bit big at the underarms). I’m a size 6, so I think this style in XS would fit someone who is a size 8 better.

YELLOW Cap Sleeve Tee
This tee is a XS and it fits me perfectly. It’s got an amazing stretch and I love wearing it. I already have a grey and white tee in this style.

TANGERINE Viscose Hoody
I already have this Hoody in a Graphite colour and it’s my favourite go-to workout top to throw on when the weather is slightly cool. This tangerine colour is a hot new season colour and it’s so vibrant and delicious!

BLUE Viscose Hoody
This blue hoody is also a new colour in the range. You can also get it in Mint, Pistachio, Lilac and Graphite.

**SPECIAL DISCOUNT CODE**

The team at Abi and Joseph are offering my readers a 10% discount and free worldwide shipping until 30 June 2012. Including all new items and clearance items.

To activate this code, you MUST enter the promo code ‘karencheng’ in the top navigation bar.

Happy shopping everyone!!!

( 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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Dressing for a Mad Men Party

27 May 2012

I was recently invited to a sophisticated, adults-only, Mad Men themed dinner party.

By “adults only”, I mean there were no children there. It was a sit down dinner with cocktails to start, a delicious 4 course dinner made in the kitchen by a private chef, and lots of enjoyable adult conversations.

Anyway, if you haven’t heard about it, Mad Men is a TV drama series set in New York in the early 1960s. It is particularly adored because of it’s 50s and early 60s fashion and style, with its leading women all impeccably dressed.

And thus my biggest dilemma was – what do I wear??

Mad Men Images

What is the Mad Men style? Skirts are knee-lenth, full circle (flare style) or pencil style.

Necklines are circle scoop, wide v-necked or high boat-neck.

Waists are nipped in to show off an hour glass figure.

Heels are small. Toes are usually pointed.

Hair styles are short, curled, and brushed to one side.

Mad Men Images

I found lots of gorgeous photos and inspiration from the Mad Men website, but I didn’t have many things in my own wardrobe that I thought were fitting for a great outfit.

Mad Men Images

I wanted pay homage to the period and at least to do justice to the amazing style. But I had a fashion block!

I whinged at my husband for a few days, and did the whole “OH WOE I HAVE A WARDROBE FULL OF CLOTHES BUT I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR!!”

So my husband tried to help and sent me this still image from the TV show.

Mad Men Images

Ironically I did have all the bits and pieces in my wardrobe for a Playboy bunny outfit. Even the ears and cuffs. But er,  wrong party!

In the end, I put together a few bits and pieces – a fine knit sweater top, with a full circle skirt, pointed toe shoes, pearls and a faux fur coat of the period.

Mad Men Party - Karen Cheng

This is me and my piña colada (not very New York, but hey, I’m no cocktail police) and some of my lovely friends dressed to impress.

We had an amazing time! 10 of us sat around the dinner table and chatted and laughed all night long! We had a smashing time.

Thanks so much to my wonderful host, Dave and Amanda!

(All images from www.amctv.com. Except the one of me kissing the piña colada.)


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Camouflaged for Pink Sunsets

24 May 2012

My two big boys (aged 9 and 7) are at an age where they are really INTO BOY THINGS.

They are also at an age where they have an adequate attention span to engage in complicated long-term projects. For example, Exhibit A.

pinkplane01

This is a BAe Sea Harrier FRS1. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s just a model airplane.

It cost $24. It has lots of intricate plastic bits that break off and fit together, it needs special glue, special brushes and special paint.

Putting it together requires a particular order of steps. You have to build some parts first, then paint other parts, then glue some other parts together, then paint more parts, while fixing other parts… blah blah blah.

My boys LOVE it.

They even tell me facts like – Did you know that the bottom of a real plane was painted sky blue, so that when the enemies looked up from below, the plane would be CAMOUFLAGED?

Anyway, this whole model airplane thing is a toddler nightmare. My two older children can only work on their planes (with their dad) while I take the toddler out for a couple of hours.

However after three 4 hour sessions of model fixing, my toddler had worked out that he was missing out big-time on this airplane business. And he started to whinge A LOT.

pinkplane02

So look! I bought a cheapo plane from the $2 Shop.

My husband was appalled by the poor imitation and my lack of plane propriety.

I rubbed it in further, “It says on the packet that it’s a SKY SOLDIER! It *must* be more superior than your Sea Harrier!”

pinkplane04

I also bought some special paint!

A bit of white and a bit of red, to make my 3 year old’s favourite colour.

He was in kindergarten heaven.

pinkplane03

The end result!

It isn’t exactly a threatening military force of the air.

But hey, it made everybody smile.


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A beautiful morning for remembering

20 May 2012

Breakfast Mother's Day 2012

Last Sunday I woke up at 6am. It was Mother’s Day.

I turned my alarm off and sat up in bed. I blinked and saw that it was pitch black outside. The street lights were still on. The stars were still out in the sky.

I got up and changed into my running gear, in the dark. I ate my usual breakfast, but in the dark.

I tiptoed around the house so I wouldn’t wake up my children.

I think celebrating motherhood on a special day is a beautiful thing. And this day, I wanted to celebrate it in a special way.

I grabbed my keys, my rain jacket and snuck out of the house before anyone else woke up.

Mother's Day Classic 2012

And this is where I went.

A friend and I (Hi Nellie!) participated in an event called the Mother’s Day Classic – a walk or run around the city, dedicated to women affected by or living with breast cancer.

We were walking for our beautiful friend Claire, who died last month.

We were thinking about her husband and 3 children, and sending them a little prayer from our hearts.

Mother's Day Classic 2012

This is me in PINK! Supporting the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

As I was walking towards the finish line, I noticed that some participants pinned tributes onto the back of their t-shirts. It was just a piece of paper with the names of people who have lost their lives.

And I saw one young lady who had 4 names printed on her back.

Part of me gulped in pain, but the other half was so moved that this young woman was here. On this walk.

It struck me… that in a way, these 4 names were brought back to life, their lives were celebrated in this young woman’s heart… and I thought… when the time comes, when I pass from this world, who will wear my name on their back? Who will remember what a kind of person I was? Who will hold me in their heart forever?

Yeah, I had a bit of a heavy, emotional moment as I crossed the finish line.

Standing under the early morning sky. Dewy grass making my shoes wet. Cold air making my cheeks red. Surrounded by thousands of people… all remembering their mother or wife or sister or friend. All looking beyond ourselves, all remembering others. And all inspired to love and live each day a little bit better.

It was a really beautiful way to celebrate being a mother, and woman.


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Walking on sunshine… and a leopard.

18 May 2012

Here are 2 pairs of shoes that I will be wearing constantly this new season :)

Yellow Heels

I fell in love with the YELLOW when I saw them online on ASOS.

They make the fashiony girl in me go – HELLO SUNSHINE!!

Do check out the awesome outlet sales from ASOS Australia.

And the equally awesome outlet sales fromASOS Asia.

Leopard Booties

These cool leopard booties are from the current Betts A/W 2012 collection.

They will definitely add a pop of fabulousness when worn with cold-weather attire – namely leggings, skinny jeans, or a long black maxi tube skirt.

Betts are having their Mid-Season 30-50% Off Sale now.

( 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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Karen Goes to Cooking School

17 May 2012

The other day I attended a “Fresh and Fragrant Vietnamese Cooking Class” courtesy of Red Balloon.

I have never been to a cooking course or school, so I had absolutely no idea what to expect.

The class was at 6:15pm, which meant that, unfortunately, I had a bit of a rush before heading out the door. I must admit, I was already tired from my day, not to mention that I had just been grocery shopping, got home, unpacked all the shopping, and cooked a meal for my family.

I arrived, just in time, at a gorgeous little shop, with a huge kitchen at the back. It was completely fitted out as a professional cooking school, but it had the warmth and charm of your mother’s kitchen. I liked what I saw. I was really looking forward to watching a genius chef whiz up a few amazing dishes for me to eat.

There were 18 people, split into 2 groups, seated around 2 large silver benches.

I took a seat, and the first thing our chef said to the class was, “This is a hand’s on class! And YOU’RE going to be cooking a 3 course meal tonight!!”

I looked on the cooking benches and I saw PILES of raw ingredients (all still packaged separately), meat, prawns, rice noodles, bags of different vegetables, herbs, bits of ginger, chilli, garlic, bottles of oil, sauces, plates, dishes…

Viet Cooking Class

Vegetables that needed to be washed, seafood that needed to be sliced, meat that needed to be marinated, herbs that needed to be chopped.

My heart sank. I closed my eyes and thought. OH. GOD.

I. SO. DO. NOT. WANT. TO. COOK!! I JUST DID THIS 1 HOUR AGO! THE LAST THING I WANT TO DO RIGHT NOW IS COOK A 3 COURSE MEAL!!

But I looked around the room and saw that EVERYONE was happy, smiling and excited. They were keen, helpful, friendly, and I had a pang of guilt / inspiration. Basically I gave myself a kick in the ass and got on with the task on hand.

Our table had 9 people sitting around it, so we were split into groups of 3.

I was with 2 lovely ladies – who were gifted this cooking experience by one woman’s son and the other woman’s daughter, who’s son and daughter were married. So they were a mother / mother in law duo, which I thought was such a nice idea for their children to organise.

I met another young couple who were there for a date. Such a sweet idea :)

Viet Cooking Class

Anyway, lucky for me… our team was making Beef Pho (rice noodles in beef soup). And my job was to cut up the mint – wayhey! (Can you see my neglected cutting-up station in the foreground of this photo?)

It worked out well, because I spent a lot of time hovering around taking lots of photos. With minty fingers.

Each team followed a recipe, and many times the chef stopped everyone and gave us demonstrations and lots of tips.

I was actually blown away by how much I learnt! I picked up so many cooking tips!

For example. How to hold vegetables properly when cutting, how to finely slice ginger, how to soak bean sprouts so that they will last a week, how to wrap up spring onions for the fridge, how to slice meat finely, how to roll rice paper rolls, how to do a zillion other things! And I also learned that the whitish, rib bit inside a chilli is not called a membrane, it’s called a placenta. There you go.

Viet Cooking Class

Our chef and presenter was absolutely fabulous. She had such a great character, she was charming, funny and lively. She really brought the class to life and kept me interested and completely engaged the whole time she was talking and demonstrating.

She also told us about other classes they hold including: pastry making classes, making pasta, cooking Spanish tapas… and I was DYING TO SIGN UP AND LEARN MORE!!

Viet Cooking Class

This was the scene of the kitchen. There was a fantastic buzz in the air.

I felt a bit bad that I was taking so many photos, so I put my camera down and decided to get more involved with the cooking. I found myself doing all sorts of jobs… finely slicing meat and dipping rice noodles into hot water – in front of everyone!

Actually, everyone was watching each other and talking to each other about cooking. But sometimes while you were doing something, the chef would turn everyone’s attention to you and what you were doing, and use you as part of the demonstration.

I am a control freak my own kitchen. I am relaxed and super confident in mostly everything I cook. Even when I “make up” my own recipes out of a mishmash of 3 recipes, I’m still certain it’ll be delicious.

But er. When you’re in a room full of strangers. And every one is watching you do something as simple as dipping rice sticks into water…

The experience was terrifying, nerve-racking but exhilarating at the same time. As if YOU were on a TV cooking show and millions of people were watching you!!! Haha what a rush!

Viet Cooking Class

See? Everyone was busy cooking while I was taking vain photos of myself in the fancy mirrored kitchen appliances. Chef Karen – fail.

So these were our final dishes.

Viet Cooking Class

Pho Bo – It was FREAKING AMAZING!! That soup was soooooooo delicious.

Viet Cooking Class

Steamed Seafood Rice Noodle Rolls – These smelt incredible. My mouth was watering to get my teeth stuck into these. And they did not disappoint.

Everyone had 2 rolls, but I grabbed 3 rolls because um, I thought it would make for a more balanced composition for the photo *evil laugh*.

Viet Cooking Class

Vietnamese Chicken with Lime, Chilli, and Coconut Rice – OK this one was probably my favourite, it was absolutely marvelous to eat. And I loved it because I love roasted peanuts, lime, coriander, chilli, coconut and all those gorgeously fragrant ingredients.

We walked away with full bellies and all 3 recipes in hand.

I had such a great time!

It was a really wonderful way to spend an evening. The only way it could have been better was if I went with a friend, or a small group of friends.

A big thanks to the Matters of Taste team! You’ll be seeing me again!

.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.

The team at Red Balloon are offering my readers a special promotion!

If you would like to give this gift to someone, or buy it for yourself, or any other gift from Red Balloon you can…

Receive $30 off when you spend $129 or more on ANY experience.

To redeem: Visit www.redballoon.com.au and enter the promotional code REDKC12 at the checkout to receive your discount.

Terms and Conditions: Offer valid until 31/12/12. Promotional Code can only be used once per person. All purchases are subject to RedBalloon T&Cs, for full details read here.


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3 Casual Ways to Wear Yellow

15 May 2012

Everyday Yellow

I realise that a lot of my fashion posts feature a lot of “going out” or “formal” outfits.

So I put together a few of my “everyday” outfits, stuff that I actually wear and have worn during the week.

This week the theme is YELLOW!

LEFT

Stripe top- Alexander Wang from The Outnet
I am in love with basic luxe tees. Their slouchy look is just perfect with jeans, cropped pants, skirts or shorts.

Yellow jeans – YesStyle
These are just cheap and cheerful jeans from a Korean brand, Bengirl. The yellow colour is just how I like it – not too dull, not too bright.

Shoes – Habbot
Ah I wear these oxfords 3-4 times a week! Best shoe investment ever.

MIDDLE

Black knit – YesStyle
This knit is from a Korean brand called JCStyle, which has a fantastic range of smart casual clothes with a stylish and polished look. I’ve gotten a few knits from this brand, but this knit is my favourite because it’s lightweight, has batwing sleeves and a boat-neck neckline which makes for a very slouchy but polished look (ha!).

Neon top – J Crew
I bought this yellow top online and it’s VERY neon. Almost like what construction road workers wear in the rain! I have worn it under layers of black and navy knits and coats, but I’ve never worn it on it’s own yet!

Black skinny jeans – Vivianne Westwood
My black skinnies are a wardrobe staple.

Leopard heels – Nude Shoes
I love these shoes because of their very low heels. I usually wear them when I’m wearing a plain outfit, just to give a bit of fun detail.

RIGHT

Cream top – AL&ALICIA
A gorgeously simple, sleeveless top. Again perfect for everyday wear

Stripe skirt – YesStyle
This is from another Korean brand called J-ANN. It’s called a “Glitter Stripe Skirt” but it’s actually not very glittery at all. It’s a simple tube skirt made from a thick knit, so I’m sure it’ll see me into the cold weather – with tights and boots!

Yellow heels – ASOS
These are a very recent acquisition from ASOS. They are so much fun to wear and I adore them sooo much!

( 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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Dating my Brother-in-Law

14 May 2012

The other evening, my husband and I planned to go out for dinner, drinks and dancing with a whole bunch of our crazy, single friends.

But as it turned out, our babysitter fell sick at very short notice, so my husband took one for Team-Us. He decided to stay home, and I got to go out.

Yay for freedom!!

However, on this occasion, we had been planning to take my brother-in-law too. In fact, my husband and I were going to have dinner with bro-in-law before we met up with the others for drinks.

So I found myself all dressed up, driving over to my bro-in-law’s place to pick him up to go out to dinner.

On the way there, it occurred to me that I have never, ever been alone with him for any significant length of time, in the whole time I have known him – what 12 years? Obviously, we have always related to each other through my husband, or the kids, or his parents.

He is totally a super nice guy and he’s easy to be around. But he’s like a big brother to me. And now we were going spend a couple of hours, alone, together, in a nice restaurant.

Can anyone say AWKWARD!!!???

I picked him up and we were both like… “OK haha this is really weird!!”

We had a good laugh about it and it was all good between us.

But while we were driving along and chatting normally, I realised that these strange circumstances had made part of me go into a long forgotten territory of “nervous first date” mode, and I was really self-conscious. Uh oh, is my skirt riding up too high? Is my top too low? Do I have lipstick on my teeth? Did I pop a mint before I left? Am I talking too much? Am I talking too little?

OMG why am I thinking like this?!

I thought it was amusing that this insecure part of me still existed.

Long, long ago, I used to go out on a “first date” twice a week in my quest to find Mr Right :) But now er… I haven’t been on a first date since mobile phones had black and white screens, so that’s like – 13 or 14 years! I guess old habits die hard.

Then I thought maybe the problem was that bro-in-law is so much like my husband. Similar age, similar features, same sense of humor, values, etc. Obviously, he’s the *kind* of guy I could go for… no, wait… DID go for. With this realization, I relaxed a lot.

Even as we walked into the restaurant, I realised people might think we were a couple, or a potential couple. But I was cool with that. I wasn’t self-conscious anymore. I didn’t care. However… I may have relaxed a bit too much.

Because, as the evening progressed, I noticed that I was getting all WIFEY, BOSSY and NAGGY with my bro-in-law.

Saying stuff like, “Are you sure you want to order THAT?”

“I’ll have the fish, you get the beef.”

“Can we swap plates? I want to try that beef.”

“Before we leave, maybe you want to go to the toilet?”

As each phrase came out of my mouth, I instantly CRINGED. I DIED OF EMBARASSMENT.

I couldn’t believe I was saying that stuff!! To a grown-up man!

Do I really talk like that to my poor husband? My MR RIGHT, the last guy to ever have a “first date” with me, has to put up with this crap every time we go out together!!

I was just thankful that it was me who was driving, not bro-in-law, otherwise I’m sure I would have given him a running commentary about his poor driving and parking skills haha.

I was very, very relieved when we met up with the gang for drinks. A good time was had by all. And my bro-in-law, ah bless him, he showed no signs of being weirded out by me.

Maybe he was just good at hiding it.

Or maybe he just feels really, really sorry for my husband now.


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The Masterpieces of my Life

9 May 2012

O Day at Northbridge

Northbridge held a family festival called O Day, a few weekends ago. It was possibly one of the best free family festivals I had been to – in terms of activities for school aged children.

There was a kooky looking vintage carousel with frozen horses that looked like they were in pain. I wasn’t too keen to sit on a horse, but my kids were in a very adventurous “Let’s try everything!” mood.

My toddler, at the last minute, was too scared to sit on a horse. So he sat inside a small plastic rabbit. I crouched next to him… and snapped some photos.

O Day at NorthbridgeThis is me, trying to look happy, while being INCREDIBLY DIZZY and suppressing THE URGE TO THROW UP. On a merry-go-round! Blergh!

My kids made monsters out of recycled materials (using a drill!), they made little clay vessels on a potters wheel (cool!), they painted landscapes in an indigenous style, scribbled some self portraits, did some crafty glue stuff, watched a man make huge balloon frogs, did a cupcake decorating activity, and went on a treasure hunt to find jigsaw puzzle magnets.

O Day at NorthbridgeThe best thing about the festival was that I felt so comfortable and confident to let my older kids (9 and 7) wander ahead of me and do activities for themselves, engaging with all the volunteers at each stall (who were all awesome).

Perhaps it’s because my bigger kids are getting older, they are getting better at talking to strangers and learning how to exchange money and goods with strangers (buying chips from a food stall) etc.

And perhaps I’m getting more relaxed and I’m prepared to stand back a whole lot more and let my kids work things out for themselves.

Having said that, I’ve been teaching my kids how to interact with strangers or people they meet.

Whether they are paying for items, or asking for information, or meeting someone for the first time. I’m coaching them to look people in the eye, talk clearly, use manners, smile, focus on what you’re doing (don’t get distracted or day dream!), and think about how to communicate your ideas clearly.

I was never really taught or coached about all this stuff as a young kid. I didn’t know how to “hold my own” until I was much older.

Growing up as an Asian kid, it was common that children weren’t supposed to speak until they were spoken to. In my day, Asian adults never talked to children like they were adults. Just wasn’t done.

Anyway, my kids were out and about all day, interacting and engaging with lots of different people in lots of different situations.

They were so independent and they held their own magnificently, I was so proud of them.

And I don’t want to push the idea too far, but when we arrived home, we placed my two big boy’s pottery creations on our kitchen counter and I was close to tearing up from seeing the beauty in the imperfections, the little fingerprints, the wonky edges, and the completely different forms… of two little, proud masterpieces.

O Day at Northbridge


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Hanging Around

8 May 2012

Liam - May 2012

Just wanted to share this super-cute photo I took of my 3 year old toddler (or is he a pre-schooler now?)… Liam, looking very pleased and content on the playground!


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A Ride to Conquer Cancer – 200km in 2 Days

7 May 2012

I have some pretty cool news to share!

I am going to take part in a 200km bike ride to raise money for cancer research!!

The ride is called the The Ride to Conquer Cancer, and it is going to be held in October 2012 (6 months away!)

Ride to Conquer Cancer

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll probably know that I’M A TOTAL BEGINNER CYCLIST.

You’ll probably even know that my husband found my current bike ON A PILE OF JUNK. It’s a 15 year old, beat up, old, rusty, mountain bike. I ride it along the river with my son on the back. After I have ridden 6 km, I expect to stop at a cafe for lunch, while the boys play on the beach. And when I get back home, I need to have a nap.

Sooooo, how (and why) am I going to ride TWO HUNDRED KILOMETERS?

Well, this is my story.

In 2004, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. It was a horrifying year for us. We just had our first child. And there was so many investigations and uncertainty.

After months of chemotherapy, and two heart-wrenching major surgeries, he survived it!

That was 8 years ago. Now he is [still] cancer-free. And now we have 3 healthy and amazingly active young boys, aged, 9, 7 and 3.

Since then, as you can imagine, life has been very busy for us. We strive to live happy, healthy, low-stress, balanced and fulfilling lives. Living every day, knowing how lucky and blessed we are, but also fearing the cancer returning. I know so many others are going through cancer, or have lost or are losing someone to cancer, and always, the deepest parts of my heart goes out to them.

In 2009, I was invited to a face-to face interview with American cycling champion Lance Armstrong, while he was in Australia – you can read my interview here.

He told me about his foundation, Livestrong, that has raised over 300 million dollars for cancer research, and how most of that money came from the 70 million people who each donated quite a small amount.

At the time, I was *very* inspired to do something to raise awareness of cancer, and fundraising to find a cure. I started to form a few ideas on how I could use my blog to engage in a fundraising project, but I got very busy…because I had my third baby.

Now. Recently my attention has been brought back to this because of a couple of things. In December last year, a six year old girl in Singapore died of cancer. Two years earlier, I did my little bit to help raise some funds for her treatment. Ultimately, Charmaine died because doctors do not know enough about the causes and cures of cancer.

And then, in March this year, my friend Claire died of breast cancer.

So like everyone else who knows someone who suffers from cancer or has lost someone to cancer, I have to somehow “come to terms” with what has happened.

What can I do to be more positive about what has happened, and what might happen in the future?

How can I honor the memory of those who I have lost, and also make a real difference?

Only a few week ago, an article my friend Claire had written was published in a breast cancer support group newsletter. In it, she describes how she found the strength to be positive, and how she kept raising three kids while she had cancer. She was very honest, and admitted that it was very hard work, but she ended with this…

“I remain positive because so much time and money is spent on breast cancer research and I know that I am not alone.”

SO…

When The Ride to Conquer Cancer event came up, I knew it combined my passion for fundraising, raising cancer awareness, my new found passion for cycling and my spirit of adventure… all into one event.

BUT HOLY CRAP, 200 KILOMETERS??!!

That is a staggeringly big, and painfully scary number for me.

I’ve been trying to ride faster on my bike, and I have been tracking my speed and distances. It tells me that being fit enough to ride 200km… is a long, long way off!

But you know what? I want to do it.

I want the challenge. I am inspired. I love cycling. I love adventures. I love trying to make a difference. It’s crazy. But hey, here’s to life!

I will be writing about the whole of my journey on my blog, and I hope you’ll come along for the ride with me. I’ll be asking for donations, and talking about cancer, fashion, fitness, crazy European cycling dudes, and trying not to look and feel like a total idiot!

DONATIONS

The whole point of this is to raise money for cancer research :)

Cyclists participating in The Ride are supposed to set a fundraising target for themselves – the minimum being $2,500.

The careful and conservative-Karen inside me is going – “Always better to set attainable goals! That way you have a higher chance of success! Just stick with the minimum of $2500.”

But the crazy-Karen in me is thinking – “LET’S GO FOR SOMETHING INSPIRING AND HUGE!!! LET’S MAKE LANCE PROUD!!! HE RAISED $3 MILLION!”

So I’m going to aim somewhere *in between* and go for $10,000.

PLEASE HELP ME RAISE $10,000 to help find the cure for cancer!!

You can go to my donations page and make any donation amount you wish – $20, $50, $100, $500! You can leave a public message, or a personal message to me, or just do it anonymously. And you get a receipt, so you can claim this against your tax!

The money goes immediately and directly to cancer research.

I want to make a difference!

Please help me!


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Meet Mr Egg Head

3 May 2012

My 3 year old, Liam, and 7 year old, Sean, were playing on a swing set in the backyard.

My husband and I were enjoying two seconds of quiet conversation in the kitchen at the end of a long day of Boys Behaving Badly, Major Meltdowns and quite a bit of Go-To-Your Room.

Liam stood in front of Sean (who was on a swing) and shouted –

I WANNAGO-ONTHESWING! IWANNAGO-ONTHESWING! IWANNAGO! ON! THE!! SWIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING!!!!

I heard the commotion, and I was about to scold Liam for shouting so rudely and loudly.

But Sean – thinking that he might get into trouble if Liam continued to shout – simply jumped off the swing and ran away.

Liam quickly moved in to claim his place…and the empty swing whacked him right on the head. Well, that serves you right, Mr Terrorist!

Liam screamed like a banshee, and I ran from the kitchen to the backyard.

And I watched – literally watched – as this amazing blister swelled up in 20 seconds flat.

Liam howled and howled. I couldn’t hear myself think!

My husband was so desperate to distract Liam from his injury that he offered him a left over Easter Egg that was in the kitchen. We knew he wanted it, because I had confiscated it from him a week earlier, which had been the cause of another nerve jangling tantrum (by him, not me).

Liam - 3 years old

And it worked. Liam saw the egg, and he knew he had won a victory. So he was happy and he stopped crying. So then I was happy. Or at least, I was slightly less unhappy.

And then I noticed that his Easter Egg and the lump on his head were very similar shape and size.

Liam - 3 years old

I was just so impressed with the size of his lump, that I wanted to take a photo of the egg next to it.

My husband walked Liam over to my friend’s house, who is a doctor, just to get him checked out. No broken bones, just a great big blood blister.

Screaming. Bribery. Trips to the Doctor. The Magic Healing Properties of Chocolate.

Just another day in Mummyland!


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Giveaway: Win 2 items from AL&ALICIA

1 May 2012

For all you who had missed out on my last giveaway – here’s another awesome one to try!

If you have been a long-time follower of my blog, you might have noticed that I’m a fan of AL&ALICA. I’ve done many features of their collections, I have LOTS of clothes from this label and many of them are my wardrobe staples :)

Their designs are a wonderful mix of flirty + feminine, with a masculine edge. It’s kind of boy meets girl, and oozing with understated cool. Best of all, the clothes are comfortable, using high quality fabrics, with exceptional tailoring.

Well to celebrate their latest collection, the team from AL&ALICA are offering my readers a special giveaway.

Win any 2 items from the AL&ALICA website, of your choice!

Please scroll down for details!

The team sent me a few goodies to review, from the Spring Summer 2012 collection – Time to Pretend.

AL&ALICA - SS12 Time to Pretend

This first dress is the Kite Dress in Blossom colour. It’s probably more of a tunic or a mini dress, with pretty double layer drape at the front. It’s made from such a light, silky and luxurious fabric that you can wear it tucked into skirts or pants.

It’s perfect for warm weather, and those hot days when you still want to look stylish, yet effortless!

AL&ALICA - SS12 Time to Pretend

This is the Spellbound Jellybean Dress – another effortless dress that is pretty and colourful. I absolutely adored this one!

I’ve already worn it twice… and I got so many compliments :) I think it’s so eye catching because of its combination of pretty print and gorgeous tailoring.

The dress looks great with a blazer or denim jacket too!

AL&ALICA - SS12 Time to Pretend

Here I’m wearing a few items.

Emma Frost Top in Whipped Cream colour, which has the CUTEST polka dot bubble sheer things on it. It is sooooOOOooo cool!

This is my favourite piece in the whole collection. It combines *perfectly* with everything in my wardrobe (jeans, skirts, shorts, cropped pants) and gives each outfit a new breath of freshness that’s quirky and fun.

Yellow shorts are the Super Shorts in Buttercup colour. It is a relaxed tailored cut, with pleats, made from super soft tencel, with full lining. It’s lovely to wear. I felt very… luxuriousl, yet casual in it!

Lastly, in the outfit with my bright blue J Brand jeans, I’m wearing a Slouchy Jacket in Powder Puff colour. This is also made from super soft tencel and it’s soooo nice to wear. It’s a double breasted jacket with a relaxed fit.

You can check out the whole “Time To Pretend” collection at the Al & Alicia website!

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GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Who Can Enter:
It’s open to all readers WORLDWIDE, over the age of 18 years.

What You Win:
One lucky winner will get to pick 2 items of his/her choice, across all AL&ALICIA collections (including sale items), subject to stock availability.

Giveaway Ends:
The giveaway will last 10 days, from May 1st to May 10th, 5pm (GMT +8)

This giveaway is now closed!

The winner will be randomly selected and contacted via Facebook messages.

If the selected winner doesn’t respond in 48 hours, then I will have to redraw. I will announce the winner as soon as possible on my blog and my Facebook Page (please pop over and LIKE my page, if you haven’t already).

I will also be posting a reminder on my blog and Facebook Page, before the end of the giveaway.

Good luck!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

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