Archive for February 2013

 

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Attack of the Mighty Green Blobs

28 February 2013

One of my children had a classroom survey, where they were asked – “What’s your LEAST favourite food?”

My son said to me, “What should I write? I like all foods! Oh I’ll just write brussels sprouts.”

I laughed. “But you’ve never tried brussels sprouts. How can you say you don’t like it?”

“Oh that’s just what everyone else says.”

My other boy’s ears perked up and he joined the conversation, “Yeah, I’ve read they are slimy and really disgusting!”

“Apparently they are the grossest things in the WORLD mum!” says my first boy.

I said, “You know what? I’ve never eaten brussels sprouts either. Let’s go to the shops and buy some. I’ll cook them up and you guys can decide for yourself.”

They were SO EXCITED.

Sheesh. Are we, like, the kookiest family ever or what?

brusslesprouts01

According to many popular children’s story books, brussels sprouts are THE MOST HORRIBLE, AWFUL, AND DISGUSTING THINGS EVER!!!

But we all thought they looked kinda cute.

Like baby lettuce.

My boys also thought they looked like glowing green, “power-up” blobs in a computer game, where you have to collect them and shoot them at the bad guys haha.

brusslesprouts02

I boiled them for 4 minutes.

Drained them and let them roll around in a tiny bit of butter (because let’s face it, everything tastes better with butter!)

The verdict… the outer leaves were lovely and had a nice crunch to them, like bok choy or some other leafy green Asian vegetable.

But the inside stalk was pretty bitter. Even I winced.

I think I’d have to cut them up first, and cook them harder to get rid of the bitterness. But if I cook them harder and longer, I’ll destroy the vitamins and nutients, which defeats the whole point of eating a vegetable really.

So no, I don’t think I’ll be cooking these up anytime soon.

I’m just going to stick with our “mini trees”!

(Broccoli.)

**Edit! Way hey – I received about 10 messages from readers… suggesting brussels sprouts recipes, tips on ways to make them taste better and how to get rid of the bitterness.This website about  “Understanding the Brussels Sprouts gave a nice explanation and some nice recipes. So I might give them another go! Thanks guys! xxx


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Eileen Kirby Dresses from Frockaholics

27 February 2013

Last week, due to an annoying email glitch, I found out – at the last minute – that I was attending a formal, black-tie FASHION AWARDS NIGHT! AAAKK!

Well, when I say “last minute” it was actually 11 days.

So if you think about it, I actually did have enough time to find something to wear. However I left it really late. So of course, I found myself… 3 days before the event, with nothing to wear!

And in those 3 days, I had full schedule of work, mummy duties, meetings, and lunch dates… and no time to visit any boutiques to find a dress.

All I can say is this – THANK GOODNESS FOR ONLINE SHOPPING.

If you find a small online boutique with impeccable customer service, my tip: Stick With Them!

If they answer their emails within 24hours, specially pull an item out of their stock for you, and mail it to you in an express postbag, and YOU RECEIVE IT THE NEXT DAY… then omg you know you’ve found gold.

One of my favourite online stores is Frockaholics. They stock hundreds of designer mini dresses, knee length dresses, cocktail dresses, maxi, gowns and much more.

In my search for something to wear, I found this gorgeous dress by Australian designer, Eileen Kirby:

Dress from Frockaholics

I loved the lace and tulle. And I LOVED the back of the dress!

I wanted to get the long version of the dress, but I knew that – me being very short – I probably would need to alter it and take the hem up, so it wouldn’t drag on the floor as I walked. And since I didn’t have much time to spare… the short dress it was.

(Not to mention, if i show off a bit of leg, I tend to look taller.)

The dress arrived in 1.5 days! And oh my goodness it was utterly gorgeous and it fit perfectly.

Dress from Frockaholics

I slipped it on and felt all gushy and like I needed to make a teary Oscar speech haha.

Because it was backless, I had to wear an adhesive sticky bra for some ahem, support.

Ah what can I say… I felt sexy and amazing in it.

Check out the other pretty dresses by Eileen Kirby.

Thank you Frockalholics!

xxx

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my

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Asking For Money (For A Great Cause!)

26 February 2013

Yes I’m fundraising for cancer research again!

Many of you might know that I did the Ride to Conquer Cancer last year. Well I’m doing it again this year – cycling 200kms over 2 days through the countryside south of Perth.

To kick start my fundraising, last weekend, I hi-jacked a Chinese New Year Ball!

CNY Ballroom @ Crown Perth

Ok not really. A local Chinese community – my community –  were looking for a charity to support and I proposed that they could sponsor me for my 200km ride, with all funds going to the WA Institute of Medical Research.

My dad, mum, brother + sister in law, and a whole bunch of my aunties and uncles… attended the event too.

CNY Ballroom @ Crown Perth

My mother and I. We just finished placing 500 pamphlets out on the tables.

As the evening started… the thought of having to stand up in front of 500 people and ask them to donate money… was TERRIFYING.

I had that floaty, churny feeling in my tummy, a spaced-out dizzy feeling in my head, and I kept going to the bathroom all night and rehearsing my speech in the toilet cubicle. The amazing 10 course Chinese banquet was being served and I only nibbled on a bit of jellyfish (for the entree).

When the Master of Ceremonies came over to where I was sitting and told me that I was on in just a few minutes, I had a bit of a panic attack – aaaaaakkkk!

“Calm blue ocean. Calm blue ocean” I repeated to myself.

But I slowly focused my thoughts on WHY I was doing this. Where is this money going. What is this money going to be used for. Who is this money going to help. And it really helped calm me down.

Mr John Fitzgerald, of the WAIMR, spoke first. He sounded so calm, professional, and had such a deep voice.

Then it was my turn. I could hardly hear myself! I wasn’t sure if I was too close, or too far, from the microphone. So I gave my speech – which seemed to take an eternity –  I said thanks, then walked off the stage.

The next bit was pretty hard work. I spent the rest of the night on my feet, going from table to table, loudly talking to people over the noise of a cabaret show and giving a 10 second spiel of where the donations were going (to pretty much every single person at the event). So much talking! So repetitive! Now I know how politicians feel!

Helping me collect the money were two staff from WAIMR, who volunteered their time for the evening, Lesley and Jeanette. They made me feel a lot better about it, because they have done this lots of times before. They were so calm.

Going from table to table, the difference in response was very interesting.

As I approached some tables, someone would stand up with a bag full of money they had already collected. One man told me that his wife died 9 months ago from cancer so he made sure that all his friends on the table donated something (I totally choked up and went all teary on the spot). On other tables, they seemed to have no idea who I was, or what I was there for, or they thought I was part of the Miss Chinese Pageant haha! And it was really difficult to explain myself amid all the noise.

And at other tables, I met people who I hadn’t seen since I was at primary school with them, and we got gossiping, and I went “off-mission”.

In fact I was so busy talking to people, that I did something that is absolutely amazing for me – I didn’t take any photos!

The evening came to an end.

And I got to take home a little black lock-box full of cash!

The next morning, I counted the donations (then I got my boys to double check the total) and we found out that we had $2920 dollars! OMG!

Plus, there were about $600 in credit card donations!

Money Count

WOW! $3.5K!!

The only problem was, that it was Sunday, and I couldn’t get the money to the bank. So, what to do with so much cash?

Well, I hid it in a very secret place… which is, inside a hole in the bottom of one of the couches.

That night as I watched TV, I felt so gangster with a bundle of cash hidden under my ass.

Money Couch

On Monday morning, when I fished the money out, I found that it had been guarded all night by this little guy, who had previously been put in the couch by, I suspect, my 3 year old… along with a couple of dried out old apple cores.

Anyway, you’ll be glad to know, the money made it safely into the bank, and then into the account of the WA Institute of Medical Research, where it is already making a difference to the research to find the cure for cancer.

Thank you so much to those who have donated!

If you are keen to donate money towards my 2013 Ride to Conquer Cancer, please visit my fundraising page here!

Or you can read all the posts about my cycling adventures on my blog.


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Nikon AW100 – A Waterproof and Shockproof Camera

25 February 2013

A few weekends ago, I went Stand Up Paddle-Boarding and I asked Nikon if I could borrow an underwater camera so I could take some cool water photos for my blog.

They said SURE!

They actually have an newer model coming out soon (AW110), one that can be taken down to 18m (great for scuba divers) and it can withstand -10°C (great for ski and snowboarders). It can also withstand being dropped from heights of 2m (great for um, parents?) and it has built-in wifi capability.

But I was happy to trial the AW100. This model can be taken down to 10m underwater, withstand -10°C and can be dropped from 1.5m without being damaged.

Now… I’m a bit old school with my cameras. When I used to scuba dive regularly (about 10 years ago), only the insanely rich, or the insanely hardcore professionals had cameras with underwater housing… like this:

Ikelite Housing for Nikon D-5000
Image from www.ikelite.com

The equipment was huge, complicated and looked like you were going on a mission to Mars.

Back then, there was NO WAY I could ever take photos of all the coral I saw, all beautiful little fish I swam with while snorkeling, the ship wrecks I’ve dived, and all the other amazing underwater wildlife I had seen, like seals, turtles, cod fish, sharks and whale sharks. I couldn’t even take photos of us at the beach splashing in the waves :(

Nikon AW100 - Underwaer Camera

But now, look at this!!

As I held this camera in my hand, I was utterly stunned by the advances of modern technology! I could take this camera down to 10 meters?! For real?!

Anyway. Unfortunately (or fortunately) while I was stand-up paddle boarding, I DIDN’T fall into the water. And thus I didn’t have any cool watery photos to share from that experience.

Instead, I gathered my kids and we went to swim in my neighbour’s pool.

We had SO. MUCH. FUN.

Because the camera was “Drop Proof” I was completely happy to let my kids hold it, swim with it and take photos.Nikon AW100 - Underwaer Camera

This was me trying to show my son how to blow a lot of bubbles without getting them up your nose.

My 9 year old and my 7 year old, picked up the camera and worked it with ease.

They switched modes. They played with the settings. They completely melded with it, as only youngsters can these days.

In fact, my boys asked me, “What does the ‘2 Sec’ and ‘10 Sec’ mean?”

And I said, “Oh it’s a self timer…”

And without having to explain anything else, they were doing really clever things like leaving it at the bottom of the pool, with the 10 second timer on and swimming over it to capture an action swimming shot.

Nikon AW100 - Underwaer Camera

My two boys practiced doing “bombies” into the water for me.

The bubbles were so cool!

Nikon AW100 - Underwaer Camera

And here my boys were making really funny underwater movies.

I have to admit that my boys dropped the camera on the poolside paving TWICE.

It just slipped out of their hands because they forgot to put the wrist strap on. And each time it went DONK on the bricks, my heart stopped, my temper seethed and I wanted to scream bloody murder.

But lucky for them, it was indeed DROP PROOF.

And because of that… it is THE best compact camera for me to have in my house.

The AW100 now sits on my “camera shelf”, and when my children find something cool they want to photograph, they are allowed to take it and use it. They can make little movie clips, record their Lego creations and take photos for their school projects. It’s fantastic.

I seriously can’t wait to take it to the beach and to go snorkelling!!

Check out more details about the Nikon AW100, or the soon to be released Nikon AW110.


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3 Ways to Wear Due (The New Ballet Flat by FitFlop)

22 February 2013

I was given the opportunity to road test the latest shoe from FitFlop, called Dué.

It’s a ballerina pump – so it looks like a ballet flat, but it has this incredibly cushioned sole. It also has a bit of height and made from top notch materials and leather.

FitFlop Due - Patent

They come in black leather, black patent, cherry red patent and ink blue patent.

I chose the Black Patent Due, because I wanted to try a very, very versatile shoe. One that you could wear for school drop offs, lunch dates, and working in an office. They are retailed at $199.95 for patent and $219.95 for leather, so you do want them to be versatile and last a long time.

When I received them I thought they looked a bit chunky. I’m used to my ballet flats, being VERY flat! And I admit they looked a bit plain. I’m used to wearing “statement flats” with leopard print, or studs or beige snakeskin! But I find that I don’t wear these statement flats when I know I will be walking on pavement/rough paths, because I don’t want them to wear out.

Anyway I gave the  Dués a good go. I wore them around for a week or so, and holy cow, they are really comfortable.

One day, I walked 2km in them to take my children to school, then I did some grocery shopping, went to the library, sat in a cafe for lunch, did some chores at home, then walked 2kms again to pick up my children… and I never took them off!

In fact, several people commented on them and asked me where I got them from. And I also found myself standing in the school yard, surrounded by a bunch of mums getting excited about my shoes haha. Women who spent all day on their feet, seemed to “get it”.

Best thing about them – Comfortable and they look great.

I put together 3 looks to show how the Dué can be styled to suit different occasions.

3 Ways - Due Fitflops

1) With Jeans
Whether you’re wearing your favourite slouchy blue jeans, or skinny statement red jeans… this ballet flat is made for jeans.

2) Sporty
Walking, doing errands, zipping in and out of the car. The comfort and quality of this shoe makes you feel like you could go all day in them.

3) Evening
The patent finish makes this shoe look smart and polished. It looks very cute paired with a simple dress, or a nice skirt and top,

4) Work – not pictured
Of course, you can’t go wrong wearing pants, blouse and classic ballet flats at the office. Or if you are working on your feet all day – these are just perfect.

Yes I’m a fan of them now! I recommend them for someone who wants a high quality flat and are on their feet a lot.

The Dué is on sale right now. Check the FitFlop Website for stockists and where to buy.

( 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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Our Very Hungry Caterpillar

21 February 2013

The other day I walked into my 3 year old’s bedroom and I saw this peeking out from under his beside his bed:

A Chinese takeaway container, with a little DIY ecosystem. UH OH.

I gave myself a facepalm and wondered what poor creature my son had tortured this time.

Caterpillar

Turns out that he caught a green caterpillar.

He gathered some vegetable leaves from the garden… he found a bit of wood for it to climb on, a bit of bark for a “caterpillar bed” and he also found some “caterpillar toys” (a rock and a gum nut) which I thought was very sweet of him.

When I inspected the container, I saw that the caterpillar had eaten 2 bok choy leaves and 1 small lettuce leaf.

How did the story go again?

Caterpillar

However my son had sealed the container, it was a very hot day and the caterpillar looked really sluggish.

(Pun intended)

I thought that it had died and stuck itself on the lid.

I scolded my 3 year old and gave him a lecture about not capturing creatures in airtight containers, NOT keeping creatures in the house and certainly NOT keeping them under his bed.

I growled at him and said we will have to bury it in the garden tomorrow afternoon.

Caterpillar

However the next day, I found the caterpillar like this!

Whoa it’s a chrysalis!

Sigh, so now I feel all OBLIGED to keep the darn thing and give him a lesson about life cycles or something.

And guess what? My son is really excited to see the butterfly, all brightly coloured and with a big smiley face, just like in the book.

But I suspect that this caterpillar is just going to be a grey moth.

And I also suspect that I’m going to “have” to release it back into the wild, where it will no doubt lay eggs on my bok choy. Cycle of life indeed!


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Date Night Outfit: Splendid and Leather

19 February 2013

Splendid Top and Leather Skirt

I went out on a dinner date with my husband and I wore my new Splendid top. It’s actually a tank top with a sparkly, lurex mesh layer that floats around and looks lovely. The arms a slightly wide too, so it has a kimono feel to it.

I adore jersey tops from Splendid, as they are always so wonderfully soft and easy to wear. They are one of my favourite go-to brands for everyday jersey tops, with a touch of luxe.

I bought this one from my-wardrobe.com but you can also buy the brand from The Outnet or Shopbop.

Be sure to keep an eye out for sales too… I picked up this top at 80% off for $20 (was $100) yay!

Kailis Jewellery Shell Pendant

Also I’m wearing my new Shell Pendant from luxury jewellers, Kailis. I received this as a gift (inside the take home gift bag) when I went to their VIP Princess party in November last year. I can’t seem to find this pendant anywhere on their website, so I assume this is a limited edition, corporate gift?

The shape of the pendant is an Australian South Sea pearl shell. But I particularly like it because it has a “K” on it. Obviously K for Kailis, but in my case, K for Karen.

Other Outfit Details:
Faux Leather skirt from YesStyle
Shoes from GlamRockChic
Bracelet by Forin Jewellery
Clutch from Airflex

( 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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At Least He Didn’t Spray Paint The Walls

18 February 2013

Look what I caught my almost-4 year old boy writing the other day!

Liam's Writing (almost 4yo)

Liam wrote “SEAN IS A POO” but when he heard me coming, he quickly changed it to “POP”.

And when I questioned him, he was all –

“Did you know that being a POP is a good thing? Like. Being a bubble? A happy, floaty bubble?”

I maintained a disapproving look on my face, as I grabbed my camera and took a snap of his writing and his guilty face.

So naughty!


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New York Fashion Week Fall 2013

17 February 2013

For me, following the fashion shows around the world is always such a fun, spectator sport!

I can sit in the comfort of my own home, eat home-cooked meals, get my husband to massage my feet… and watch thousands of images and videos of fashion creations pour through my computer screen. Technology and social media is a very cool thing indeed :)

So I must say, I’ve never been as excited for the new season to arrive as this. I adore so many of the new trends coming out.

These are my favourite looks and trends from the 2013 Fall runway.

New York Fashion Week Fall 2013 - Photo by NY Times

Theyskens’s Theory Fall 2013 – tailored boxy jackets, textured fabrics with voluminous structure, quilting, hounds-tooth, wool shorts, and tall leather boots.

New York Fashion Week Fall 2013 - Photo by NY Times

Marchesa Fall 2013 – Gorgeous flowing gowns, drapes in jewel tones, lots of deep reds and purples, ornate floral embroidery in a baroque style.

New York Fashion Week Fall 2013 - Photo by NY Times

Anna Sui Fall 2013 – Cute 60s inspired shapes, jewel tones, tweed crop jackets, long velvet jackets, geometric prints, texture mixing, patterned shift dresses and pea coats.

New York Fashion Week Fall 2013 - Photo by NY Times

Proenza Schouler Fall 2013 – Black and white palate with a touch of apricot and mint, boxy and voluminous jackets, a-line shapes, bouclé yarns, monochrome tweed, hounds-tooth, lovely texture and fabric mixing.

New York Fashion Week Fall 2013 - Photo by NY Times

Marc by Marc Jacobs Fall 2013 – lovely 70s inspired prints and silhouettes, colourful geometric prints, deep reds, blues and greens, andhigh necklines.

All photos from NY Times


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Wearing Yellow at a Chinese New Year Ball

15 February 2013

So, I’m going to wear a canary yellow dress to a Chinese New Year Ball on Saturday night.

Why am I going against the obvious RED theme?

Weeeeeell……

Last year, I decided to try and raise some funds for cancer research. I took up bike riding, and I (and about a thousand other people) rode 200km. Together, we raised a whopping $4.6 million dollars, and I raised about $16,000 of that.

Now, when I say “I”, obviously, I actually mean WE. “We” being all the incredibly generous people who actually donated the money “I” raised.

Well, the whole thing was such an amazing experience that I’m going to do it again!

Cycling! Training! And yes, fundraising.

That’s right, I am riding in the 2013 Ride To Conquer Cancer, and here I am, deeply moved once again and aspiring to do more.

I want to raise even MORE money this year, and I have been doing a bit of thinking about how.

A few weeks ago, I asked for some help from a local Chinese association, because that’s what you have to do… ask for help. And they said YES.

So, my Ride To Conquer Cancer Ride for 2013 – the Year of the Snake – will be the official charity cause of the Chinese New Year Ball on Saturday night at Crown Casino in Perth. A Director of the West Australian Institute for Medical Research, and I, will be asking 450 people to donate money to the cause.

There will be lion dances, singers from China, a “Miss Chinese” Beauty Pageant and a whole lot of other stuff celebrating Chinese culture.

There is only one problem with this. Asking for help means that I will have to stand up on a stage in front of 450 people, make a speech, and ask them for their help. For money. Eeeek.

Did I ever tell you that I am terrified of speaking in public? That I am painfully shy? That I can’t speak English – far less Chinese – when people I don’t know are looking at me?

Suddenly, riding 200km seems easy.

Argh!!

But…

…if you want help, you have to ask for it.

And as part of asking for help, I’ll be wearing YELLOW, which is pretty much the official colour for asking people to donate money to cancer research :)

So… that’s why I will be wearing a yellow dress to a Chinese New Year Ball.

Wish me luck!


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My Banana Bread Recipe (with sugar free option)

14 February 2013

My Banana Bread Recipe

I have been using this recipe for over 10 years, and it’s a damn good one.

Ok maybe you can call it a banana loaf, or cake. It’s really quick and easy to make, healthy for the family, and perfect for low sugar diets.

I make this banana bread twice a month, and I ALWAYS vary the recipe! Why? Because I always have different “new” stuff in my pantry. One week it will be sunflower seeds, then shredded coconut, then dried cranberries etc.

Most times I use self raising wholemeal flour, with a sprinkle of almond meal. And most times I throw in 2 tablespoons of pepitas or sunflower seeds, or 2 tablespoons of shredded coconut, or 2 tablespoons of sultanas, or I mash 6 dates into the mixture. Whatever I do, I just can’t seem to destroy the recipe. It all holds together fine :)

(I’m actually on a paleo based diet, so I don’t eat this bread anymore. My husband and kids loooove it though and they can finish it in one sitting!)

My Banana Bread Recipe (with sugar free option)

75g butter
2 tablespoons of brown sugar (or try none!)
2 medium eggs
4 medium sized banana (or 450g weighed with skin)
100g walnuts (or peacans), chopped
1 ½ cups (225g) self raising white (or wholemeal) flour
¼ teaspoon of bicarb soda
pinch of salt

1. Heat oven to 180ºC. Lightly grease a 11cm x 22cm loaf pan. Line the base and 2 long sides with baking paper. Leave some paper overhanging.

2. Melt the butter, mix in sugar (if you’re using it).

3. Add eggs and combine well.

4. Mash the bananas and add it to the mixture.

5. Add the chopped walnuts. Add 2 tablespoons of any other ingredients (Seeds, or sultanas, or coconut, or dates). Give it all a good stir!

6. Sift in flour, bicarb soda and pinch of salt. Stir until just combined.

7. Pour into the loaf tin. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to stand for a few minutes then cool on wire rack.

Enjoy! xxx


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3 Ways to Wear a Long Leather Skirt

13 February 2013

How amazing is this Faux-Leather Maxi Skirt by Korean brand Sarah, that I got for $72?!

I thought it deserved its own “3 Ways” blog post, because I want to wear it with everything I own.

Since it’s a long black skirt, it pretty much goes with everything. Wear it tops that are coral, mint, silver, printed, striped, or just plain black.

3 Ways to Wear a Leather Skirt

1) Simple tank and a crisp white blazer, for a slick and polished look. I love this!

White blazer: Bardot (on sale) from The Iconic
Top: Rick Owens from The Outnet
Shoes: ASOS

3 Ways to Wear a Leather Skirt

2) Play with textures. A black furry vest (faux) notches up a modern-gothic glam look. Try wearing leather skirt with other textures like lace, beads details, embroidery, jacquard, tweed, or even feathers.

Fur vest: From YesStyle
Top: Rick Owens from The Outnet
Shoes: GlamRockChic

3 Ways to Wear a Leather Skirt

3) Simple tee and a cropped jacket. Nothing says effortless style like a simple white tee.

White Tee: Abi and Joseph
Blue faux leather jacket: Redopin (old)
Shoes: ASOS

( 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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Stand Up Paddling for Valentines

11 February 2013

Whenever my husband and I are at the beach (or river), we often see people glide past us on these funny looking stand up paddle boards. We see them paddling slowly, over the calm, still waters… looking so peaceful and satisfied. And we are always filled with a bursting desire to try it ourselves!

So to celebrate an early Valentine’s Day, I surprised my husband with an experience, courtesy of Red Balloon.

Yes, we went Stand Up Paddle Boarding together!

Ain’t we romantic? :P

Stand Up Paddling for Valentines

A good Stand Up Paddling Boarding experience depends solely on the wind.

(If you’re really cool you can call it SUP boarding, but we’re not that cool, as it turns out.)

We booked for a 9am session, but the location of the paddling could only be confirmed the night before. This is so that the boarding people can look at the weather forecast and find the best spot out of the wind.

We turned up at 8:45am, in Rockingham, and we met the crew and other participants. The weather was beautiful. The water was flat, and there was a gentle breeze.

Now my husband and I are scuba divers, and we’ve been on 7-day scuba diving camping trips, roughing it out in tents, on the coast, or living on a fishing boat for 5 days. So our brains are programmed with safety protocols, dressing for the weather, and being sun and water smart.

And today? We may have over-did ourselves.

It was 39C and we turned up in long sleeve, turtleneck rashies, hats, sunglasses and long shorts.

Everyone else were in their bathers. Girls were in their itsy bitsy, floral bikini tops and bottoms, and guys with rippling muscles were in trendy shorts and were completely topless. I felt like such a nana.

In fact, I needed to carry my waterproof camera during the paddling. So I actually wore my cycling jersey (which had zip pockets) with my cycling arm sleeves! I really felt like a freak! Oh well. I’m sure my skin loved me for covering up.

Stand Up Paddling for Valentines

The briefing was great. Luca, our guide, gave us paddles and boards that suited out height… and he gave us lots of good tips.

I was a bit nervous. I’ve never been surfing before. I’m not great with boards and waves.

I was told that I might lose my hat and sunglasses if I fell into the water. Ugh, so I started to get worried about losing my sunglasses. SO THAT’S why no one else was wearing their sunglasses!

When it was time to start, we carried our boards into the water. And even I could lift the board by myself!

We waded about knee-deep into the water, and then crawled onto the boards on our hands and knees. When we felt steady, we stood up.

Stand Up Paddling for Valentines

It was pretty easy to stand on!

The boards were so wide that it was easy to find balance. The water was calm too, so the boards were not wobbly or shaky.

My husband, who, in my opinion, is not as *talented in coordination* as myself… found it to be very easy too.

I noticed there was another young lady in the group who was very, very unsure about her balance. She took a long time to steady her feet, stand up and balance herself. But when she did, she was fine.

After we all stood up, we had to start paddling.

It took me a few minutes to get used to the paddling arm motion.

I felt very uncoordinated at first. Concentrating on standing + balancing + paddling was a bit tricky. So I was doing very “weak” paddling, as if I was sweeping rice around on the floor haha.

Stand Up Paddling for Valentines

But once I got used to it, it was fuuuuun!

My paddling technique improved quickly. I began to paddle a little faster and became a lot more in-control of the board.

Oh my, it was so peaceful and soothing. It felt like we were gliding. Or strolling over water.

My husband and I were paddling side by side, laughing and chatting about romantic things like, um sharks.

Just kidding! We didn’t see much marine life. Just pelicans and a stingray.

Stand Up Paddling for Valentines

Haha I look so content and relaxed here!

We were paddling WITH a gentle wind behind us, so it was quite effortless. We could really just stand up on the board and use our bodies as sails to push us along.

Near the end of the session, we parked at a little beach, and our guide asked us to paddle back a bit, INTO the wind. He showed us how to activate our core muscles and use our shoulders to paddle hard. I tried it for a good 5 minutes and I could feel my abs getting a good workout. It felt goooood, a bit like rowing.

And… we didn’t fall into the water!

No one in our group fell into the water. Even the young lady who had trouble with her balance in the beginning.

The whole experience took about 1 hour (might have been 1 hour and 20 minutes).

Overall we had such a great time!

It wasn’t an overly strenuous activity, that we needed to lie down and take a nap after.

It was *just* active enough, *just* new and unusual enough – for a couple to share a new experience :)

I recommend it for couples, as a fun date to do together, or a simple and enjoyable anniversary or birthday present to give to someone, or to do it with your mum or dad on a Sunday morning, or just by yourself to try it out!

Stand Up Paddling for Valentines

And after the paddling we drove off to a beachside café to enjoy a hot breakfast and a cup if tea.

Such a lovely morning!

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

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

To redeem: Visit www.redballoon.com.au and enter the promotional code REDKC13 at the checkout to receive your discount.

Terms and Conditions: Offer valid until 31/12/13. 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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P-p-p-palazzo Pants

9 February 2013

Just wanted to share my new palazzo pants I wore the other day.

Palazzo Pants

I love the print on these pants, they remind me of beautiful batik sarongs that my mother used to wear.

They make my legs feel so long, and when I walk, I feel so sooo tall!

(I’m only 160cm.)

They swish beautifully like a maxi skirt, but I think they definitely ooze a bit more style :)

Because they are so long and there is so much pattern, I wore a simple black, jersey, tube top to balance my outfit and to show a bit of skin. A white tank top would be equally nice with these pants.

These pants are by Chic Yamada, from FashionValet.

This design is not in stock anymore, but there are heaps of other cool palazzo pants, prices ranging from USD$19 – $60. It’s definitely an affordable place to try buying palazzo pants, if you’re keen.

( 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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Il Cielo Ristorante & Caffe

8 February 2013

Last week, I was invited to dine at Il Cielo Ristorante & Caffe, a modern Italian restaurant in the leafy southern suburbs of Bullcreek.

After first opening their doors in the middle of last year, they have now launched their new menu and prices for 2013 – and my husband and I had the pleasure of ordering a 3 course dinner, courtesy of the owners.

My husband is always a reluctant participant in my food blogging assignments. He always complains that by the time I finish taking photos of the dish, his food is cold haha!

Well I promised to take faster photos, so I dragged him along and he was a good sport :)

Il Cielo, Bullcreek

Il Cielo (pronounced il chee-ello) is situated amongst a group of shops in Parry Place, Bullcreek.

It’s a sizeable restaurant that sits upstairs, above the other shops and cafes, hence the meaning of its name “The Sky”.

Il Cielo, Bullcreek

It was certainly not what I expected at for an inner suburban restaurant. It was large and spacious, it had carpeted floors, cushioned chairs, nice curtains to dampen all the restaurant noises… and it had a “fine dining” feel to it.

However we got the impression that it wasn’t trying to be too stuffy and upmarket because there was a sign outside announcing a “3 Course Set Lunch Menu for only $10”!

Il Cielo, Bullcreek
Bruschetta Funghi – Mushroom Parmesan Bruschetta – $13

For his entrée, my husband ordered the Bruschetta Funghi and it was delicious.  The earthy flavours of the mushrooms mixed with the parmesan, herbs and paprika was just lovely.

It was presented very well and the portion size was pretty large.

I would have been happy to eat *just this* for my lunch!

Il Cielo, Bullcreek
Cozze Piccanti – Chilli Mussels with 2 pieces of garlic bread – $28

Then came my entrée – a bowl of Chilli Mussels – and my eyes nearly popped out of my head. This is my entrée?? It was HUGE.

And because my husband is allergic to shellfish… I had to eat it all by myself.

Il Cielo, Bullcreek

I was a bit embarrassed by the size of it.

However, it was fantastic.

The sauce was so flavoursome and tasty… and it had just the right saltiness.

And to add to that, the bread was very yummy. It was like a big, crunchy, buttery, garlic crouton (that was slightly soft in the centre) and simply amazing to dip into that salty, tomato, chilli, mussel sauce. YUM.

Unfortunately I had to leave 1/3 of the mussels and sauce behind. I felt really bad. I don’t like to waste food.

If it was my house, I would have savoured every last drop of that sauce and licked the bowl clean.

Il Cielo, Bullcreek
Bucatini All’Antonini, Hollowed center pasta, calamari and salami with creamy tomato sauce (Signature dish) – $23

A little later, my mains arrived. It was the Bucatini All’Antonini, their signature dish, a mix of calamari and salami.

It was a good sized portion, but after my epic chilli mussels, I felt a bit faint.

In terms of taste, this dish was creamy, fresh and full of flavour.

Calamari? Salami? In one dish? Oh my, it was the best combo ever.

My only minor note was that… usually when cooked, calamari is shaped as a thin circle. But in this dish, the calamari was roughly chopped, so it curled up and looked just like the pasta. It still tasted nice, but there were moments when I wasn’t sure if I had pasta or calamari on my fork.

However, I appreciated that this was their signature dish and that this recipe is based on traditional cuisine derived from Rome, with Napoli heritage.

So yeah, um it’s definitely got more Italian cred than I do.

Il Cielo, Bullcreek

Filetto Di Manzo, Porterhouse Steak served with French Green Beans, Blistered Tomato, Creamy Mash Potatoes and Red wine Jus – $38

My husband ordered the Porterhouse Steak. And he really enjoyed it.

He loved the flavours, presentation and everything about it. He even applauded how the tomatoes were cooked haha.

Personally, I like my meat cooked “rare”. Soft and squishy, still mooing thanks. But my husband likes his steaks “medium” … so unfortunately I can’t give a fair opinion of the meat, because I just don’t enjoy medium-done steaks :P

(I should have made him change his order to a fish dish, hmph. And at least it was still hot after I photographed it!)

Il Cielo, Bullcreek
Home-made Tiramisu, Cappuccino Ice cream, strawberry – $12

Lastly, I chose the Homemade Tiramisu and it was goooood. It was so soft, moist, light and fresh. The sponge was perfectly soaked in coffee and it was just wonderful to eat.

And you know what? My husband doesn’t eat sugar, so I ate ALL OF IT!

Yes, even after I ate the bruschetta, mussels and pasta.

I have a magical spot in my tummy reserved just for dessert. Doesn’t everyone?

My husband and I had a lovely time. The atmosphere was great, the portions were good, prices were fine, and the food was tasty.

The next time we come here, I think we would just order 1 entrée to share, 2 mains and 1 dessert (for me to eat all by myself).

I would definitely take my parents and family here for a nice homey Italian meal.

Il Cielo Ristorante & Caffe
Shop 9, 110 Parry Avenue,
Bull Creek, WA.
T: (08) 9332 7779
www.ilcielo.com.au

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Getting My Sporty Luxe On

6 February 2013

So the other day I bought two new things. A pair of shorts and some shoes.

Two *totally* separate purchases. For two *totally* different functions.

I wasn’t supposed to actually wear them together. But by haphazard accident (or laziness), I did.

And the result was a very relaxed, effortless, “Sporty Luxe” look… which was so much fun to wear.

Sporty Luxe

Bonds Summer Shorts – Lemon

I was walking through Big W to buy my son a lunch box. I spotted these cute, drawstring cotton shorts (RRP $34.90, but these were on sale for $20) and grabbed one in size 8. I needed some soft, slouchy shorts to wear around the house or when I go for a run or walk. Most of my shorts are denim, tailored with cuffs or formal looking.

They turned out to be soooo comfy that I just wore them all day! I wore them while walking my boys to school. Then I put on a cardigan while going to the shops to buy apples (I get cold in the air conditioning). Then I realised we were going out for lunch with my parents and of their friends (in the fancy part of town) so I QUICKLY grabbed a blazer to throw on top and changed my shoes.

Yep, so it turned out that the sporty luxe look is AWESOME, and I’ll definitely be doing more of it :)

Shoes Nine West

Nine West Leather Wedge Sandals

I’m completely in love with these sandals. I love the design, the leather, the mid heel, and the fact that they were on sale.

They are a gorgeous pair of shoes… especially because they give my everyday outfits a nice stylish omph.

This style is called “Play FWD” and I’m wearing a size 5.

Buy Nine West from The Iconic
(Enjoy 20% off, min spend $59, only full price with discount coupon code – COMF20GW)

Buy Nine West from Amazon

( 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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How’s the air up there?

4 February 2013

We have a new toy in our backyard – an old trampoline!

My parents decided they wanted to get rid of their old, discarded trampoline, which was over 25 years old. And we thought our kids might like it.

So we nabbed it, took it apart, loaded it into the back of a trailer and brought it home.

However, it needed a good clean.

So we threw all three children onto it, gave them a scrubbing brush each and a bucket of soapy water!

Personally I thought it was a recipe for disaster. But they cleaned and bounced with such abandoned thrill and joy!

Our New Old Trampoline

I love this photo of one of my sons – happily cleaning away- totally oblivious that his movements were making the bucket tip over dangerously and with each bounce, it slowly “walked” towards him. It was like watching a cartoon.

And of course there was a water fight and foam party at the end of all this cleaning business.

The funny thing is… this trampoline was our trampoline when we lived on Christmas Island.

I remember being 9 years old and playing on that thing with my brother, sister, and neighbours.

I remember the HOURS we spent bouncing, climbing up and down, sitting on the edge, waiting for my turn. I remember all the silly bouncing games that we used to make up, all our funny jumping moves, and pretend wrestling matches and so much more. Ah such good times :)

Anyway I was very pleased to see them enjoy it so much.

My 7 year old said, “Jumping is the BEST feeling in he world. It’s like you’re flying in the air or floating in space!”


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Our Mango Tango

3 February 2013

mango_neighbour

Our neighbour has two big mango trees growing along the other side of our back fence.

He usually cuts the trees back and keeps them neat and tidy, by trimming any over-hanging branches.

But this year, he seems to have let them grow a bit wild.

So much so, I have counted at least 50 little green mangoes, that are hanging and drooping over our fence, into our garden.

In Australia, if you have something growing over the fence into YOUR property, you are allowed to cut it. It’s technically YOURS.

So that means… these mangoes are technically OURS. Right?

The biggest problem is… our back neighbour doesn’t really like us very much. In fact, I don’t think he likes anyone very much. We don’t see him very much. When we do, he can get a bit grouchy. And sometimes he can be unpleasantly bossy. But who knows what situation he’s in.

We try to be friendly. We try to stop our children from screaming and shouting in the backyard when they play. And most of all, we try not to piss him off too much.

Which brings me to the question… Should we steal his mangoes??

Or rather, OUR mangoes??

Hmm. Tricky one.

My kids and I are still tossing around ideas. But it looks like we might… pluck the mangoes when they are ripe, pop them into a fruit box, then walk around the block and deliver them back to him, at his door.

Aren’t we nice? :P


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And don’t forget the…

1 February 2013

shoplist_poo

My 3.5 year old saw that I was writing a shopping list… so he wanted to help.

I prompted his spelling for one item (almonds).

But then he got bored… and just started to add his own items.

(He thought he was being so funny!)




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