Archive for April 2013


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AL&ALICIA SS13 – La La Land

30 April 2013

I’ve been a long-time fan of fashion label, AL&ALICIA.

I adore their effortlessly gorgeous clothes, the strong boy-meets-girl style and their countless wardrobe staples with fresh details. You’ve probably noticed that I wear and style their items all the time!

I had the pleasure of picking out a few items to review, style and share with my readers… from their latest Spring/Summer 13 collection – La La Land.

The team at AL&ALICIA are also offering my readers a 15% storewide discount, please scroll below for details.


This is the Lolita Shirt. It is lovely, light and sheer, with a short vest layer which suitably covers view of your undergarments.

At first I wasn’t so sure if I would like this top. Maybe a bit too boyish tuxedo like? Too boxy? Maybe too floral? But after pairing it with cropped pants, jeans, and other skirts in my wardrobe, I realised that this was a winner. It brings a fresh, “smart yet feminine” look to my and outfits and I like it :)

I’m wearing this top in a size 0. Shorts and accessories are my own.


Asymmetrical skirts are all the rage for the new season. And this Tuula Skirt featuring a peplum skirt and asymmetrical ends, stands out with a kind of effortless cool.

Its colour is sublte and feminine, its draping is soft, while its tailoring is smart and boyish. The combination of these elements makes this skirt wonderfully unique to wear.

Again, I’m wearing size 0. The top and accessories are my own.


Aaah and lastly, these two dresses are simply lovely.

On the left is the Claire Dress, in the same subtle, gold shimmer fabric as the Tuula Skirt.

This dress has no zips or buttons, you just pop it over your head – I had to cover the makeup on my face with a scarf, so I didn’t get makeup on the collar, but other than that, it was easy and comfortable to wear and it fits very well. The skirt height is perfect for me too.

I’ll be wearing this dress out on a girls-night-out this weekend!

The dress on the right is Talulah Dress, so so so pretty and simple! It has delicate soft colours, feminine florals, yet mixed with boyish details like a high collar and button down pleats.

It is actually made of two layers of sheer material and it feels very nice and soft on my skin.

Do check out all the dresses here and rest of the collection on the website.

Enjoy 15% of regular priced merchandise online at AL&ALICIA.
Simply enter the code “KARENCHENG15″ at the checkout. Valid until 5th May, Sunday (midnight, UTC+8).

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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Mr Two Wheeler

29 April 2013

So my youngest son turned 4 years old recently… and he now knows how to ride a proper pedal bike, with no training wheels!!

Two Wheeler

He was so sooo proud, excited and terrified!!

And me? I was proud, excited and terrified too!!

My husband kept insisting that he was ready. But I could hardly believe it. I kept thinking… Isn’t he a bit young to do this? I don’t think he’s ready for this?! He’s my last child and HE’S JUST A BABY FOR GODS SAKE!!

But he did it. And he was great at it :)

Sooo… the most embarrassing thing about this BIG EVENT… was that er… *THE MOMENT* actually happened over 2 weeks ago… and I didn’t record *THE MOMENT* on any picture taking device. My bad. Big, big bad.

I think for my first son, I recorded video and took photos of the “first time he rode with two wheels”. For my second son, I took lots of photos. But my third? None. For two weeks.

*Oh the shame!*

A huge Three-Child-Parenting-Fail right there!

(In my defense, I don’t walk or run in the park with my iphone anymore. So I don’t have my camera handy when these things happen :P)

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Mint Suede and Silver Glitter

28 April 2013

Peep Toe Shoes sent over a few pairs of shoes for me to play with!

They are having their Warehouse Sale with up to 75% off – and then with another extra 30% off.

There’s only a few more days left, so do pop over to take a peek.

Peep Toe Shoes

These aqua colour heels were $62.30 – down from $249!

They are soo luxurious to wear, I felt like a leggy giraffe (in a good, tall way). And they add a fabulous splash of colour to any outfit.

I thought they went perfectly with my coral and mint dress (from ClubCouture).

Peep Toe Shoes

This silver pair with a mid wedge heel was also $62.30 – down from $249!

They are lovely, so comfortable and in such a versatile and classic style. I will be keeping this pair as I’m sure I’ll wear it out a lot. I have lots of high heels, but not so many mid-heel shoes.

Here I wore it out on a lunch date with my girlfriend, with my super soft Splendid top (from Shopbop), white Fendi jeans and Diva earrings.

Hope you’re having a fabulous weekend!

( 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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I don’t have a shaved head either

26 April 2013

We were at the local library – about to use the facilities – when my 4 year old said to me, “Mum you can’t use that toilet because you’re not a one-legged lady.”

Female Toilet Sign

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Black Wedge Sneakers

25 April 2013

Wedge Sneakers

Look what I got! Black wedge sneakers! And they look aaaawesome!

When this style of shoe came out last year, I decided they were not for me.

I tried on a beige pair in the shops – I was wearing denim shorts at the time – and I just felt like I was trying too hard to be a 13 year old :P

Instead I have been happy with wearing my Black Converse Chuck Taylors Hi Tops. I’ve had them for years. They are pretty classic in style, very comfortable to wear and I guess everybody wears them nowadays.

So when my Chucks finally died a few months ago (I wore a hole through the heel, so my socks got wet if I stepped in a puddle!), I thought I’d try something different for this coming winter.

Black Wedge Sneakers

I picked these Black Wedge Sneakers up from YesStyle, they are by a Korean designer called Lee Han Na (45SEVEN) and they are much more affordable than those offered by the designer labels – they are on sale at the moment!

They are made from genuine leather, with lovely details, good cushioning, and they feel very comfortable. I can go all day in them, and I hardly notice the height of the heel, because the shoe is all wrapped up, snug around my ankles. If I were to be a bit picky, the join where the soles meet the upper leather, is a bit lumpy at certain parts and it doesn’t create a perfectly smooth line haha.

Basically, this is a great SMART CASUAL shoe that I can wear with my jeans in winter.

They are a really nice change from my leather ankle boots and knee high boots – that I practically live in during winter.

They also go so well with the sporty luxe look that I’m currently loving too (well, they are sneakers after all).

I love that they give me a bit of height too.

And I don’t think I’d go for the beige version, as I still feel that I might be “trying too hard” :)

*I’m a size AUD6 for boots and sneakers, and I chose the Korean shoe size 230mm. And they fit me perfectly!

Wedge Sneakers

If you want to look around a bit more, Country Road sells a Suede Wedge Sneaker (pictured left) for $99. But good luck trying to find them your size!

And ASOS sells the Ash Bowie Wedge Trainers (pictured right), which are a bit pricier. I think they sell this style over at Shopbop too.

Anyway, do you think you’re going to embrace the wedge sneaker this winter?!

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(No Added Sugar) Date and Walnut Loaf Recipe

24 April 2013

(No Added Sugar) Date and Walnut Loaf Recipe

I actually published this recipe on my blog about 8 years ago!

And I’m still using the recipe as it is – however my techniques have changed a bit, such as, I melt the butter instead of creaming it with a hand mixer.

This loaf is a delicious to serve with afternoon tea. It is best eaten WARM. So make sure you reheat it, if it gets cold.

My children like to eat it with a smear of butter on top and a drizzle of honey.

Or if you’re feeling a bit indulgent, heat up the date loaf until its piping hot and serve it with vanilla ice cream – insane yumminess!

(No Added Sugar) Date and Walnut Loaf Recipe

225g dried dates
pinch of bicarb soda
150ml of water
75g butter
1 medium sized egg
225g SR flour
75g walnuts, chopped
¼ cup of other random chopped nuts or seeds
handful of roughly chopped nuts and sunflower seeds

1. Heat oven to 180ºC. Grease and line the base of a loaf tin.

2. Chop the dates put into a small saucepan, with water and bicarb soda. Simmer and stir for 2 minutes, then let it cool.

3. Melt butter and let it cool for a bit. Stir in the egg.

4. Add in cooled date mixture. Stir in sifted flour, walnuts and ¼ of other nuts or seeds. (In the photo above, I used pepitas.)

5. Pour mixture evenly in the tin. Sprinkle top with extra nuts and seeds. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes until skewer comes out clean.


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The Vomit Bowl

23 April 2013

Friends came over to spend the afternoon with us, and they brought a big packet of yummy cheesy corn chips.

I emptied the packet into a large plastic mixing bowl that I quickly grabbed from the cupboard, and I put it in the middle of the table for five or so adults to share.


Then, one of my kids runs in, sees the corn chips, reaches in to grab one and as he does so, he blurts out:


He grabs a handful of chips and runs off to play with the other kids…. leaving all the adults in silence.

So I’m left to explain exactly why he said that. Thanks buddy!

And of course, the answer is obvious.

Just three days before, that same boy had been ill with a tummy virus, and I had quickly grabbed the same bowl from the same cupboard for him to throw up into when he shouted… “MUUUUM I’M GOING TO VOMIT!!”.

And boy, did he throw up!

Despite my reassurances that it had been thoroughly washed and sterilised, people were very slow to eat the corn chips.

And everything would have been just fine if kids weren’t so honest!

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What have you bought from ASOS?

22 April 2013

Ok if you don’t already get their updates, ASOS are having a massive mid season sale on their site, with up to 70% off items.

I recently bought a couple of items that I’m sooo happy with!

You see, I have a wedding to attend in July and I wanted a fun, party dress to wear.

ASOS Red Dress

So I bought this PETITE Lasercut Dress, and it’s gorgeous!

The big, flared, circle skirt makes the dress fun and feminine. The red is bold and eye-catching. The laser-cut layer is unique and almost lace-like.

And I love the back of the dress. I’ve fallen in love with backless dresses after wearing this backless Eileen Kirby lace dress to the WA Fashion Awards earlier this year.

ASOS Accessories

I also bought these Pointed Heels, with ankle strap and a mid heel. They have a suede/velvet like fabric and they are nice and affordable for an on-trend shoe, and for those on a budget.

These Jewel Bauble Earrings look so pretty and they would match lots of black outfits. They would also add a bit of sparkle, bling and a touch of colour to any outfit… even a white tee and black jeans?

I didn’t actually buy this Love Moschino Owl Shoulder Bag but I felt that this little style board needed a clutch to complete the outfit, and this one looked like a perfect match :)

Do you have a fancy occasion coming up? What are you wearing?

Hope you find something fabulous!

( 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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Talking About My Armpits – Dove Pure Deodorant

19 April 2013

This post is sponsored by Nuffnang

Dove Pure Review

For the last two weeks, I have been road testing the new Dove Pure – a deodorant that says it has no parabens, no colourants, no ethyl alcohol and no fragrance.

It applies like any regular roll on deodorant. It’s nice and creamy when going on, and there’s no smell whatsoever.

After a few minutes I can slip on a black t-shirt and it doesn’t leave any white marks. Throughout the day, there is no itchiness, dryness, or irritation. I go to the gym, run and cycle and I don’t stink. It’s all good.

Best thing about it: There is ZERO fragrance.

Over the years, I have used Clarins Deodorant (which yes, is a bit of a splurge for deodorant), then I switched to just buying whatever was on sale at the supermarket.

I’ve become so used to having a faint smell of “Ocean Fresh” or “Cucumber and Green Tea” or “Jasmine and Wild Rose” and now that I think about it, those fragrances sound more like air fresheners or toilet cleaners :P

So to have zero smell in my armpits… is such a cool and unusual thing.

At the end of the day, I just smell like nice, clean, fresh skin.

And I know that because during my testing of the product (which I take very seriously thank you very much), I would – to my husband’s delight and dismay – take my top off at random moments and take a deep whiff of my armpits and sigh dramatically, “AHHH IT’S JUST ALL ME!”

This means, I can wear my perfumes (that I paid good money for) and not have clashing smells.

So… it gets two thumbs up from me. I like it :)

Dove Hamper Giveaway

To celebrate the launch of Dove Pure, the kind folks at Dove are giving away a special hamper worth $120, consisting of –

2 x Dove Men & Women Shampoo, 2 x Dove Men & Women Conditioner, Dove Face Scrub, 2 x Dove Bar 2 Pack, Dove Men Face Cleanser, Dove Pure Roll On, Dove Pure Anti-Perspirant Spray, Dove Men Roll On, Dove Men Anti-Perspirant, Dove Facial Foam, Dove Summer Glow Body Lotion, Dove Body Lotion, Dove Women Bodywash, Dove Hair Treatment, Dove Clinical Deodorant and Dove Moisturiser.

Just do the following!

1) Email me at
2) Email Subject: Give Me Some Dove Love!
3) Answer this question: What kind of activities will you be doing while wearing Dove Pure deodorant?

The winner will be the entry deemed most creative by the judges!

This giveaway is open to Australian residents only, over the age of 14 years.
Giveaway ends 24 April 2013, 5:00 pm AEDST.

Please read more terms and conditions here.

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Living Without Her

18 April 2013

My mother-in-law passed away in December, aged 81.  Her name was Sheila.

So my family has been learning how to be a family without her.

All these important dates keep happening…. Christmas, New Year, Easter, kid’s birthdays. At each event, I automatically set a place for her at the table, then I realise she won’t be here… and so I move the place settings around again.

This week, it would have been her 82nd birthday.

And as a way of celebrating Sheila’s life, I have decided to share some pictures of her, when she was about the age I am now.

Living Without Her - Sheila

Check it out – 1960’s glamour! So confident and sexy!

Here, she is in her 30s. She had two babies, and another two to go.  A woman in the very midst of building her family and living her life. Her husband is the lucky guy taking the photo. No wonder they had two more babies after this :)

Living Without Her - Sheila

And this is her and her 4 kids a few years later in the 70s. They were getting onto a ship to migrate to Australia, to start a whole new phase of their life. It took WEEKS to travel by boat from Scotland to Australia.

My husband, Andrew, is the second smallest kid in the photo (second from the right), and he is 5 years old here. Here he looks EXACTLY like my youngest son, Liam!

Living Without Her - Sheila

And here is Sheila with Andrew, when he was 7 years old. Such a beautiful mother and child photo.

Happy Birthday to you Sheila, and thank you for… everything.

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Snorkelling at Mettam’s Pool

17 April 2013

My husband and I are seasoned snorkelers and we were keen to take the kids out for some underwater exploration. We tried once before, but they were too young.  Since then, they have much more confidence in the water.

We chose Mettham’s Pool, a lovely little beach with a surrounding reef that creates a protected and calm pool in the ocean. It’s great place to take little kids, as the pool is protected from big waves and it’s a good spot for first time snorkelers, as the reef houses lots of things to see. The only problem with it is that it is right in the middle of the Perth metro area, and so it is VERY popular.

Snorkeling in Perth

I pulled my old scuba diving gear out of deep, deeeeep storage – Hello old friends! It’s been 5 years since I’ve seen you! I’m surprised your rubbery bits haven’t melted and molded into one disgusting puddle of black goo!

Snorkeling in Perth

I also brought along my underwater camera – a Nikon Coolpix AW100 – so I could take some snaps. I was sooo excited.

I’ve never taken real underwater pictures of fish before! Or coral! Or seaweed!

(Actually… when I went swimming with whale sharks in 2001, I bought a disposable underwater camera, but the photos were very meh and blurry.)

Snorkeling in Perth

As my eyes slowly got used to the underwater light, I looked around and there were fish everywhere! I have no idea what they were called.

They were swimming happily, around me, and between all the people in the water.

Snorkeling in Perth

Then I looked down and saw these larger fish dawdling along the bottom of the reef. They were so pretty.

Again I have no idea what they are called. Any ideas? Are they good to eat?

Snorkeling in Perth

And as I moved closer and closer to the reef, I saw the little details start to emerge… crabs, little fish, shells and seaweed dancing and swaying in the water.

Snorkeling in Perth

I dived down, deep into the water and looked up at my kids swimming above me.

Sunlight streaming down, between bubbles, between floating in things in the water.

It was so peaceful to bob up and down in the water, be still, and watch all the LIFE surrounding me.

And it was great to see the two bigger boys finally getting how cool is all the stuff in the ocean.

Yay for snorkeling!

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Homemade Lasagne with Kraft Extra Light Cheese (And Win a Trip to Thailand!)

16 April 2013

I have been kindly sponsored by Kraft and Nuffnang, to whip up my favourite homemade family meal – road testing the new Kraft Livefree Cheese, launched earlier this month.

(And I’m announcing a new competition where you can win a trip to Thailand courtesy of Kraft. Scroll down for details.)

This new cheese is all-Australian made, using natural ingredients, and has only 5.5% fat. According to Kraft, it is Australia’s lowest fat TASTY cheese (when compared to Australia’s leading light tasty cheese brands).

This was good timing for me… because I was hosting a big family dinner party that week and I promised everyone that I would make MY FAMOUSLY DELICIOUS LASAGNE.

Well, it’s famous in our house… and since I am the only person who cooks lasagne around here, you can be sure that everyone thinks it’s the best lasagne recipe evaaaaah.

Kraft Live Free Cheese

When you eat it on its own, the cheese has a nice mild flavour and it’s still zingy like tasty cheese.

It’s not crumbly, it holds together well, and most importantly, it’s extra low fat… especially when you consider how much of this block I am going to use in my lasagne! *sheepish laugh*

Kraft Live Free Cheese

I gathered all my ingredients for my meat sauce.

I’m making a HUGE lasagne, one big enough to feed 10 people. My dish is 37cm long and 25cm wide and 7cm deep. Huge. So I had to increase my portions accordingly.

Lasagne Meat Sauce Recipe

3 brown onions, finely diced
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
1 kg of premium lean beef mince
2 medium carrots, finely diced
½ a large zucchini, grated
875g of tomato paste (I would have used 2x 500g, but I bought the wrong bottle!)
1 cube of beef stock
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 bay leaves

Kraft Live Free Cheese

Heat oil. Fry up onions and garlic, until golden. Cook meat, stir well until browned. Stir in tomato paste, stock cube, bay leaves. Bring to boil. Stir in zucchini. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes, semi covered. Occasionally stir.

Kraft Live Free Cheese

Bechamel Sauce (or cheese sauce)
100g butter, chopped
½ cup plain flour
1L low fat milk, warmed
125g coarsely grated Kraft Livefree Cheese
Tiny pinch of ground nutmeg

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour. Keep stirring for 2 minutes.

Remove from heat. Gradually add in milk, bit by bit, constantly stirring until the mixture is smooth.

Return to heat, keep stirring until sauce thickens. Add in cheese and nutmeg, keep stirring until mixture is smooth. Add in more milk if the sauce is too thick and gooey. Keep the consistency like thickened cream.

Kraft Live Free Cheese
Behold, my very large lasagne dish.

I lightly greased the dish, and placed a lasagne sheet down for the base. I prefer using fresh lasagne sheets, as I find they are easier to cut to size, and they cook faster.

Kraft Live Free Cheese

For 1st layer: Spoon on the meat sauce (using 1/3 of the meat sauce), some blanched spinach, 1/4 of the cheese sauce, and lasagne sheets.

2nd layer: Another 1/3 of meat sauce, spinach, cheese sauce and lasagne sheets.

3rd layer: Rest of the meat sauce, spinach, (no cheese!) and lasagne sheets.

Top layer: Pour all the remaining cheese sauce on top. And cover with a bit more grated cheese and a sprinkle of parmesan.

Kraft Live Free Cheese

Pop into 200C oven for 20 minutes until the top is golden brown.

If you need to, blast it under the grill to get the cheese on top to bubble and crisp.

Whoa, it was the largest lasagne I’ve ever made. It was EPIC!

Kraft Live Free Cheese

Cut up and serve hot!

It smelt sooooo good.

Kraft Live Free Cheese

And it tasted AMAZING!

It was so soft, creamy, rich, salty and cheesey.

And the cheese sauce did not taste like it was made from extra light cheese. It tasted great and everyone was very, very happy about it :)

Yay I felt like such a kitchen hero.

*OMG WIN a Trip to Thailand!*

Kraft is hosting an Instagram competition. To enter, simply upload a photo on your Instagram of how you ‘live free’ and use the hashtag #KraftLivefree.

By “living free” I interpret this as – How do you like to break the rules? How do you like to get away from the hassles of life? What do you like to do that makes you feel alive and free? Sounds like fun and damn I wish I could enter!

You can enter as many times as you like :)

The winner will be the entry deemed MOST CREATIVE by the judges and this is what they will win:

A trip for 2 to Thaliand
– Return flights to Phuket from an Australian capital city),
– 7 nights accommodation in Khao Lak at The Best Western Premier, a stylish 4.5-star new hotel in this picturesque beach region north of Phuket, Thailand
– Return Airport transfer
– Daily breakfasts + high speed internet included
– Valid for stays from 15 April 2013 to 31 October 2013

Winners will be notified directly through Instagram by Nuffnang (so keep a look out in your Instagram comments!)

Only open to Australian residents, aged 16 years and over.

Competition starts 16th April 2013 and will continue until 11.59 pm AEST on 15 May 2013

Please read all the terms and conditions here.

Good luck!

(And if you like, you can follow me on Instagram @karenlycheng)

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Online Shopping Review: Beginning Boutique

15 April 2013

I want to introduce a new online boutique that I have come across, tested out and now recommend :)

Beginning Boutique is a cool online shop that stocks a great selection of dresses, tops and bottoms. They have familiar brands like One Teaspoon, Stylestalker, Finders Keepers – but they mix it up with affordable brands too, so you can also buy a great party dress for $55.

They update their stock often, have heaps of styles and sizes available, have free shipping throughout Australia… and most importantly, their customer service is superb.
Beginning Boutique

I was very impressed with the range of colourful skirts and styles they offered.

So I picked out a Stylestalker Skirt to try out – and it’s gorgeous! I’m a fan of the brand Stylestalker as they have some pretty bold (yet wearable) styles and their basic items always have a cool bit of detail on it that lifts up the whole garment. View the rest of Stylestalker items.

Beginning Boutique

The skirt is pretty versatile and feminine. You can wear the skirt with a white, grey or black top. Or a clashing colour, like yellow?! You can wear it with a flowing, loose top, or a tight fitting body top.

Outfit details: Top by In Good Company, Stylestalker Skirt, Colette Dinnigan x Lovisa necklace from The Iconic, Dorothy Perkins heels.

Unfortunately this particular style is out of stock, but here are a couple of other skirts that I had my eye on. Check out the whole collection of skirts here.

Beginning Boutique

Also the range of dresses is pretty good too. As I said before, the price range is $39 – $179 for a dress. And there are heaps of items on sale that are also listed in the dress section here.

Beginning Boutique

What I like most about the shopping experience at Beginning Boutique, is that when you “view all the dresses”, all the dresses are listed WITH some little boxes that show what sizes are available, so you know straight away whether they have your size.

Most of the time, you have to select your size, then it takes a few seconds to filter, then (sometimes) only 3 or 4 items are listed in that size and – well – that’s a bit boring because you don’t actually get to see the rest of the stuff the shop offers and you don’t feel like you’ve seen a good representation of what the shop has for sale.

Basically it offers you an excellent “window shopping inspiration” experience too haha!

Special Discount Code
Use the code “TENNER” at the checkout and you can enjoy 10% off your order when you spend $70 or over.

Anyway, I hope you like it and hope you enjoy a touch of online shopping.

Enjoy xxx

( 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 Minecraft Birthday Cake

11 April 2013

Minecraft Birthday Cake

Look what my husband and I made on the weekend – a Minecraft Grass Block cake!

We threw a kid’s party for my 8 year old son… and his favourite thing in the world (at the moment) is Minecraft, so the whole party was in a Minecraft theme.

If you’re not too sure what Minecraft is… it’s the latest game craze for children between 6 – 12 years old (or bigger kids headed more towards 35 years old). It’s a computer game that lets you build things out of blocks. You have to mine for resources (wood, metals, rock or animal skins) and you can build structures and things, unlimited by your own imagination. It’s quite cool.

My boys have discovered things like… how obsidian is formed, that glass is made by adding heat to sand, you have to melt metal ore in order to shape it into things.

Anyway, it has inspired a plethora of children’s cake designs, which is highly fascinating in itself, check it out on Google Images. So I decided to have a go at my own design.


When I announced to my husband that I was going to make a Minecraft cake…he instantly became way too interested in the design and implementation plan. Soon he wanted to be a part of it too and I was not happy, because I ALREADY HAD A PLAN.

We locked our creative horns again, like when we made a Lego Head Mask for my son.

After a few days of brain clashes and artistic skirmishes, the fact that we were running out of time forced us to reluctantly work as a team.

He was in charge of the construction of the cake. I was in charge of decorating it.

I had planned to bake only 2 cakes, to join together,  so the grass slab would be rectangular, rather than a cube.

But my husband wanted to make 4 cakes, so it would BE a cube. Which is a closer representation of the actual grass block in the game. Whatever!

4 FREAKING MUDCAKES? GAH I was very opposed to the sheer wastage of ingredients.

But of course, part of our “working together deal” was that I would ZIP MY MOUTH SHUT on these matters :P

Minecraft Birthday Cake

12 free ranged eggs were used in the making of these cakes, 1L of sunflower oil and omg don’t even ask me how much dark chocolate we used.

We made them one by one. Over 2 days and 2 nights.

My husband glued the 4 cakes together with jam, then he trimmed the sides of the block to make them straight.

Unfortunately the sheer density and weight of the cakes compressed the whole block down, so in the end the dimensions were not exactly a square cube.

I was going to mention that he could just trim more off the sides to make the dimensions correct, but you know, I was MOUTH-ZIPPED-SHUT. Anyway, that would have thrown my decorating dimensions out.

Minecraft Birthday Cake

He mixed the cake off-cuts with chocolate frosting and “cement rendered” the sides to make them nicely flat.

My husband is superb at handyman stuff like carpentry, tiling, brick laying, using grout, plastering, rendering… so is was very entertaining to watch him solve “baking” problems with “handyman” solutions.

On the other hand, I have very poor handyman building skills, but I make up for it with my wicked art, craft, design and cooking skillz yo  (I like to think).

Suffice to say, we had a lot of hilarious banter going back and forth late at night.

Minecraft Birthday Cake

For the decoration, I bought a 1L tub of premixed, ready to roll fondant ($24) in a pale green.

Prior to this, I had already tried and tested a tiling technique, where I would mix 5 different shades of green fondant, roll them out, cut them into squares, arrange them in a random pattern, then lay them on the cake like bathroom tiles. But that was sooooo fiddly, as the fondant was too soft to work with, so the squares were too wonky and the result looked awful.

Minecraft Birthday Cake

After a lot of careful measurements, I rolled out the fondant and drew up a grid using a cutting knife.

Minecraft Birthday Cake

I cut the edges off in a random cube pattern.

And cut a faint grid pattern over the top.

Minecraft Birthday Cake

My husband frosted the cake with chocolate frosting, and I lay my fondant carefully over the top.

I was not particularly happy with the fondant. It was too soft and elastic for what I wanted. If I tried to add more icing sugar, it just got too crumbly and brittle. So I just had to go with it.  The biggest problem was that the sheer weight of the fondant crushed down the sharp edges of the cake, so instead of the fondant folding neatly over the edge, it all just smooshed down in an unsightly sag. CRAPP!

I also wasn’t happy with the way my cuts in the fondant had stretched at the edges of the cake, leaving big gapping grooves. But whatever, it still looked ok.

Minecraft Birthday Cake

I bought some green and yellow food colouring and mixed a palette of 5 shades of green.

And yes, I hand painted all the green squares!

When I was halfway through the painting, I looked up at the clock and saw that it was 11:57pm. I burst out laughing – I WAS NOW ONE OF THOSE CRAZY PARENTS, who stay up till midnight making birthday cakes for my children haha!!

The painting bit was quite easy. It only took me 30 minutes to do. And it was the fun part.

When it was completed, thought it looked great. I was really proud of our work. My husband was right about making it a cube shape. And yes, I told him so.

However, if I were to be really picky, I think the variations of the shades of green were too different, and I could have made them look a lot closer to the computer game. If I had more time!

Minecraft Birthday Cake

Behold! This was the result!

We decorated the bottom with crumbled chocolate biscuits and broken kitkats.

It looked awesome! My children LOVED IT!

Everyone oooh and ahhhed over it.

And it tasted delicious too.

Minecraft Birthday Cake

We had 12 boys at the party. We set up a huge bouncy castle and slide in our backyard, we turned on the sprinklers, set up a paddle pool at the bottom of the slide, we gave the boys water balloons to throw at each other. It was a great party!

However, 12 boys only ate ONE QUARTER of the cake! What were we going to do with the rest of it?!

Thankfully, my husband cut the remaining cake into huge slabs and gave them away to the parents who came to pick up their kids. Phew!

Minecraft Jelly Cups

In addition to the cake and a table full of party food, I also made Minecraft Jelly Cups – yes my own creation!

Instead of a plain old jelly cup, I put chocolate “dirt” under the green jelly and buried chocolate blocks in the dirt, so the person eating could kind of “mine” for their treat.

Anyway, I have always wanted to make CHOCOLATE BISCUIT DIRT… and this seemed like a good opportunity as any!

Minecraft Jelly Cups

I whizzed up a packet of chocolate biscuits and chocolate Oreos in my food processor.

Then I threw in some chocolate chips and mixed away.

Minecraft Jelly Cups

I filled up some jelly cups with my chocolate dirt.

Minecraft Jelly Cups

I made 2 packets of lime green jelly. Popped it into the fridge over night. Then I cut them into rough cube shapes.

I worked out that if the jelly sat on the biscuit dirt base for too long, it would soften dirt and make it go soggy and slushy.

So I had to wait until I was just about to serve it, spoon all the jelly on top, decorate it with a mini flake chocolate, then serve.

The kids thought it was so cool to eat dirt and find bits of chocolate buried in the dirt.

So it was another success!

ANYWAY. The result of all this… is that my other big biggest boy turns 10 years old tomorrow. We are going to have a party for him and his friends in a few weeks time, and HE WANTS EXACTLY THE SAME MINECRAFT THEME FOR HIS PARTY.

Another Minecraft cake? For real? My husband and I looked at each other and shared an quiet chuckle. Because we both *actually* want to do it again, correct our mistakes, fine tune our technique, and do it better next time.

Bring it on :)

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Bandage and Floral

9 April 2013

I picked out two new ‘premium’ dresses from online boutique ClubCouture… and oh my goodness, they are just stunning!!

Dresses by ClubCouture

This first dress is the Patterned Banded Bodycon Dress (very Herve Leger!) and it is absolutely gorgeous to wear.

I wore it recently to a launch at Tiffanys where I met Ewan McGregor, so I’ve now started to call it my Ewan dress haha.

It is quite an unusual dress, because if you look closely, the bandages have a print on them. And some nude panels are completely sheer. But the fabric is strong, firm and stretchy, a bit like a corset. So it just hugs you and tucks you in, in all the right places.

It’s unique, eye catching, I adore the neutral colour palette and it looks amazing… I realllly like it :)

As for sizing, I’m wearing a Size UK6 in this dress, and to be honest, it’s a *little tiny bit tight* for what I’m used to. I had to hold my breath in order to zip it up! I’m usually a good standard size and I can pretty much fit anything that is labelled UK6. So if you’re more of an UK8, then I’d choose the UK8 for this dress.

So even though it is a bit tight, the dress is stretchy enough that it feels quite comfortable to wear. I happily wore it for 5 hours one evening. It didn’t ride up my legs, or suffocate me, or pinch me in funny places. It was all good and I totally recommend it to those looking for a sexy dress that’s a bit different.

Dresses by ClubCouture

This dress is the Silk Watercolour Dress. And yes I adore this one too!

Its style is a lot more grown up and sophisticated, with its high neckline and knee length skirt. The fabric is silky and smooth. The print is colourful, vibrant, very pleasing to the eye and looks modern.

It’s not trying to be too fashiony or too look-at-me. It’s just lovely, classy and lady like. I wore it to an evening corporate event and I felt so intelligent, graceful and like I was the first lady or something!

It is perfect for work. Wearing to weddings. Wearing out to day time or night time functions. It’s a very versatile dress.

You can check out their full collection of dresses here (starting prices at $26) or view their Premium Range here (starting prices at $49).

There are a lot of great dresses and good stuff, enjoy!!


( 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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Breaching All The Rules

8 April 2013

We brought our 3 kids down to Deepwater Point, along the Canning River.

It’s a nice spot to visit, as there is a cafe, lots of tall gum trees, a fenced off playground, and a long stretch of shallow beach for children to play in the water. There are also lots of people kayaking, people on wakeboards, jet skis and small boats, so it’s nice to sit back and watch all the water activities.

On this particular day, to our complete surprise, there happened to be a sculpture exhibition along the river’s edge.

There were lots of quirky and fun sculptures scattered all over the park: a huge metal origami bird, clay wind chines, cement shape totems, glowing eggs, logs tied up with rope, cube shaped nests and tree mobiles…

Sculptures by the Canning River

But this was our (my) favourite. A breaching humpback whale, by Jake Coghlan.

It was eye catching, simple, well constructed, well placed (with the Perth City skyline in the background), just large enough in size to feel accessible (like you could walk up to it and be its friend!), it had lovely surface colours and texture, it felt finished, complete and needing nothing more (so it had a real sense of confidence to it), and it gave off a feeling of joy, peace and majesty… and it was very pretty!

After looking at all the art, we sat on the grass, under the shade of the tree and enjoyed a picnic.

My big boys wandered off to play on the beach.

We kept an eye on them, from afar, but we didn’t actually notice what they were doing.


After a while I went to see what they were up to.

Sculptures by the Canning River

Look what they had done!

They made a sculpture out of wood and placed it near one of the art sign posts – on purpose – so it looked like it was an art piece in the exhibition haha!

It was supposed to be “like the city skyline, but in wood. And with bits feathers and a dead fish on it.”

They scooted off to hide behind a tree, to spy on people looking at the actual artwork to see if someone would noticed their artwork and take a photo of it.

Ah, my crazy kids :P

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Road Testing Dove Pure Deodorant – By Sweating Like A Pig!

5 April 2013

I have definitely been bitten by a fitness bug :)

I cycle once a week and I go to the gym twice a week (for an hour). I’ve been in this routine for about a year now.

And this month I’ve started to RUN – for the first time in a looooong time. I’m trying to schedule in 3 to 4 short runs in a week.

I am also climbing stairs! Lots of them! It’s fun. And a bit painful.

But I love it. And I love how I feel after a good workout!

Exhausted after my run

This is me, completely pooped after an embarrassingly short run around the block.

I’m sitting on my kitchen floor, sweating like crazy, my legs are jelly and my shoulders are aching.

Ok yes I’m glowing with endorphins.

But I’m dying for a shower (because I smell so baaad) and I wish someone would cook me an omelette, make me a cup of coffee and massage my shoulders :P

Anyway, I found it such a delight that I have been asked to test out a brand new deodorant by Dove.


Dove Pure Deodorant

Dove has recently launched a new deodorant, called Dove Pure.

It has no parabens, no colourants, no ethyl alcohol and ZERO fragrance.

No smell whatsoever? That’s a new concept for me.

It strives to be a simple, yet effective deodorant containing only the essential ingredients, leaving out the unnecessary stuff that might cause irritation and itchiness.

It also claims to have long lasting sweat protection (so you feel dry all day) and it has a touch of moisturiser in it, to keep your skin healthy.

It sounds great so far, but I’ll be testing it out for a week – throughout my cycling, running and stair climbing, as well as general walking around and just being stinky old me.

I’ll let you know how I go!

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!

(This post is sponsored by Nuffnang)

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Lemon and Coconut Cupcakes

4 April 2013

Lemon and Coconut Cupcakes

I made these pretty lemon and coconut cupcakes over the Easter weekend.

I used my Basic Sweet Muffin Recipe and just added some lemon zest and yummy lemon icing, topped with coconut.

Lemon and Coconut Cupcakes
300g self-raising flour
170g caster sugar
3 eggs
125g unsalted butter, melted
125ml milk
zest of two medium sized lemons

Lemon Icing
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup of icing sugar
20g of butter, melted
1 cup of shredded  coconut

1) Preheat oven to 180C. Line muffin tray with paper cases.

2) Sift flour into a large bowl, then add the sugar, eggs, butter and milk. Add zest and mix until just combined. (Do not over mix or the cupcakes will be tough.)

3) Divide mixture into paper cases. Spooned 1 heaped tablespoon of mixture into each cupcake case and I made around 24 small cupcakes.

4) Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack.

5) Whisk butter, lemon juice and icing sugar in a bowl until fluffy.  Spread on cupcakes and then sprinkle with coconut.

I kept some cupcakes in an air tight container in the fridge. I warmed them up 3 days later in the microwave and they *still* tasted divine!!

Enjoy xxx

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Baseball Style in White

2 April 2013

Bomber in White, from YesStyle

I’ve been really enjoying the process of mixing my sporty gear with my luxe gear. Sport has been a big theme in my life this year (so far) and it’s been nice to reflect it in the rest of my wardrobe.

The “sporty luxe” trend is a tricky style to wear. Usually the winning combination is to wear a luxe top, with a sporty style bottom (think jersey skirts and slouchy trousers or shorts) and pop on a blazer to up the look.

Or you can try a sporty/simple style top with some bottoms that are extra special – patterned jeans, sequin skirts, silky tailored trousers.

I picked up yet another jacket win from Korean brand Sarah. A baseball jacket with quilted fabric and leatherette panels. It has a nice and boofy structure, so it’s a bit different to the other jackets I own. It’s wonderfully casual and lightweight too.

When I wear it, I feel like I’m off to coach baseball, and any minute I could jump up and shout STRRRRRR-IIIIKKE!

I’m wearing:

Sarah Bomber jacket from Yesstyle

Sacha Drake White 2-Way Cap Sleeve Top from Ciao Bella Travel.

Snake print jeans from Sportsgirl (Find similar styles here)

Nude patent shoes from 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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Herding Fish and Other Life Skills

1 April 2013

Easter River Walk

My two big boys. Showing a bit of brotherly love. Sharing Easter eggs and fishing techniques, while wading through the muddy sand banks of the river.

They made hand-held nets out of Y shaped sticks and woven rope. They tried to make spears. And fish traps. No success.

We found a little lagoon.

I rolled my jeans up to my knees and showed them how to herd the schools of little fish into the mouth of the lagoon. I tried to direct them as we all chased the fish around in circles. We ran like crazy sheep dogs, stomping through knee deep water. No no, run to your OTHER LEFT! We laughed and laughed. Those silly fish! We were terrible fishermen.

Thank goodness we had those Easter eggs.