Archive for August 2015

 

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Gluten Free Chocolate Raspberry Tart with Hazelnut Crust

31 August 2015

A few weeks ago, I made something a little special for dessert!

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

This recipe was originally a mish mash of several RAW Gluten Free Chocolate Tart recipes that I found on the internet (pure and simple, rawmazing, bare root girl).

But my tart isn’t raw, because I use roasted nuts (they taste better!), I baked the base (roasted nuts and coconut is HEAVEN) and raw desserts use a lot of dates (I hate dates!).

The base is so delicious! Almost like a protein ball crossed with chocolate granola and it holds together really well. You can pick up a slice and it’ll stay in one piece. It is biscuity, crunchy and I have been baking it with sliced fruit on top to make simple fruit tarts.

Enjoy!!!

Gluten Free Chocolate Raspberry Tart with Hazelnut Crust

Crust/Pastry
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup of walnuts
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tablespoon on cacao powder
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 teaspoon on vanilla essence

Chocolate Filling
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 cup of coconut oil
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
250ml coconut milk

1 cup of frozen raspberries
1/2 of frozen raspberries (to serve)

*Chocolate Filling Alternative
(I often run out of cacao powder, so I sometimes use this, plus it’s much simpler)
150g of dark chocolate
250ml coconut milk

1) Preheat oven to 180C.

2) Use a food processor to blend the crust ingredients. I don’t suggest using a high speed blender, because you don’t want the crust to be so fine and powdery. I think the crust looks better with chunky bits!

3) Press into a 24cm flan tine, or 21cm spring base tin. Work into the bottom and up the sides to create an even crust lip. Place in oven for 10 minutes. Let it cool.

4) Gently melt the coconut oil (or chocolate) then add cacao and maple syrup. Let it cool.

5) Pour filling into base, spread out the raspberries evenly over the top. It’s OK if they sink into the filling. Put into freezer to set for 2 hours. Leave in fridge to defrost for 30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle more raspberries over the top to serve.

I loved the sharp tang of the raspberries with the mellow chocolate filling! But my children found the raspberries a bit too sour and would only eat it if I put a bit of ice cream or maple syrup on top.


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Seriously Cute Tees!

30 August 2015

Cute Tees from Shopbop

With the warm weather on its way, I’ve been trying to find some good quality, white t-shirts with a cute print.

These are my top picks:

Left: Chaser Heart Stamp Tee
Such a nice, over-sized, relaxed top with a burnout look.

This will be perfect with jeans shorts and sandals! The Chaser brand has heaps of cool punk rock tees (think lipsticks, cheetahs and Pink Floyd). Check out more Chaser t-shirts here.

Middle: Sincerely Jules Lips & Lashes Tee
LA based stylist and popular blogger Julie Sarinana (from Sincerely, Jules) has a collection of nice simple tees that hits under the US$50 mark. I absolutely adore these lips and lashes print! So simple and cute!

Her label has been going since 2013 and seems to be going strong. See more from Sincerely, Jules.

Right: Surf Bazaar Pineapple Square Tee
I like the boxy cut of this t-shirt. And you can’t go wrong with pineapples! A perfect hang-by-the-pool tee.

Surf Bazaar is a NY brand with styles inspired by the colors and symbolism of Tibetan prayer flags.

Hope you all enjoy the last of your weekend!

xxx


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Alexander McQueen Sunglasses For My Schnoz

28 August 2015

Brought to you buy SunglassesShop

Hi everyone! Happy Friday!

Today I’m talking about nose candy today.

I have an exclusive 12% discount code for those looking to buy a new pair of sunglasses from SunglassesShop.

Enjoy 12% off your total order, including sale items . Just use this code at the checkout: 12KAREN

This code is valid from 28 August – 4 September 2015. They offer FREE worldwide delivery and no fuss returns.

You might want to get yourself a pair of super popular Dior wire frames, or cult favourite Celine Audrey sunglasses, or sexy Tom Ford shades, or some classic Ray-Ban Wayfarers.

McQ by Alexander McQueen from Sunglasses Shop

For me, I’m reviewing some affordable McQ by Alexander McQueen sunglasses!

Affordable? Say what? Usually a pair of Alexander McQueen sunglasses will set you back an eye-watering $400 – $500.

But the fashion house has a more affordable ready-to-wear diffusion line, called McQ (hello lower price points!) with lots of good-looking sunglasses designs. Think classic styles with an injection of McQueen cool.

I picked out the Geometric Cateye Sunglasses in Havana, because I was looking for something a bit different.

Yes it’s great to have a pair of original wayfarers, classic aviators, and timeless cat-eyes; And just like shoes, it’s nice to own a pair of timeless pointed toe pumps, or a classic strappy heeled sandal…

But hey sometimes “wearing classic” can get a bit boring, you look like everyone else (or your 12 year old son), and sometimes you just want to wear something DIFFERENT!

McQ by Alexander McQueen from Sunglasses Shop

I love the look of large sunglasses with a slight cat-eye shape. I think it suits my face, much more than large round or large square-shaped sunglasses.

I like the soft-geometric angles and flat-top feature of the sunglasses. It looks feminine without being too retro. It doesn’t immediately scream 50s… it just looks modern and flattering.

Another great thing about these sunglasses is the combination of wire arms and metal temples, which makes them light to wear. They are not heavy and does not make my nose or ears hurt from the weight of all that plastic. They weigh less than my Ray-Ban Wayfarers!

In terms of returns, SunglassesShop have an local phone number and email you can use, and a 30 day return policy.  You do have to post the item back to the UK, which will cost you about $15-$20. However my sunglasses retail elsewhere for $230, compared to $191 at SunglassesShop. Then with my 12% discount, its final cost was $168 – saving $62! So in a way I think risking $20 to pay for a return is a pretty good risk for a stunning pair of Alexander McQueen sunglasses haha! That’s how I rationalise it!

Anyway, happy shopping and hope you find something you like!

Have a great weekend!

xxx


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Healthy Strawberry Smoothies!

27 August 2015

Strawberry & Raspberry Smoothie

After school, I usually make smoothies for my kids (so that’s about 4-5 times a week).

Each time I make about 750ml (3 x 250ml) of one batch; then I make a smaller batch for myself, because I like my smoothies with nuts, coconut, spinach and other weird, healthy stuff.

I use a NutriBullet, however I think any high speed blender will do the trick. My mum bought it for me and it was kind of a surprise/unwanted present, because I already had a (non-high-speed) blender. Initially I was very reluctant to use it, and it sat on my shelf for months. Why? Because I hated the TV infomercials! The marketing people say the blades breakdown the cell walls of fruits and vegetables, unlocks nutrients, and makes women prettier?!? Ugh I couldn’t stand it.

Anyway, the blender and I are friends now.

So… I’ve been sharing a few of my smoothie photos on instagram (@karenlycheng) and a few people have asked me to share the recipes on my blog.

Er, I don’t actually have an actual recipe! I just throw stuff together and play with proportions. If I put more raspberries, it’s going to taste more like raspberries!

The other day I made a concoction that I shall call: A Healthy Strawberry Smoothie

1 cup of fresh or frozen strawberries
1/2 cup of frozen raspberries, blueberries or mixed berries.
1 banana
1/2 green apple
1 cup of coconut water
1/4 cup natural plain yogurt
1 teaspoon of honey (optional)

(This makes about 750ml)

I don’t believe in adding extra sugar to my smoothies. I think the sugar from the fruit is enough. But sometimes my apples or berries are so sour and tart that my kids refuse to drink the resulting smoothie, so I add a bit sweeter fruit like grapes, frozen mango, and if nothing else works, I add honey or maple syrup to make it a bit more palatable.

Enjoy!


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Gift Wrapped With Times Tables

26 August 2015

On the weekend you might have seen my post about Liam’s 7x Timetables on my Instagram feed (@karenlycheng)?

Well the back story is…

7 x Table Gift

Liam was going to a friend’s birthday party – a girl’s 7th birthday – and we BOTH had no idea what to get her.

I am terrible at buying gifts for girls; What do they want? What do they play with? Is jewellery and makeup acceptable? For a 7 year old? Maybe not? Is a crafty present too lame? Are books too boring? Does it have to be pink? Do girls even play with Barbies now?

So we went to the shops and after a good hour, we picked out a huge FROZEN craft box, with stickers, colouring-in pads, marker pens, glitter glues, sequins etc. What a win! I was very proud of my/our choice. We also bought wrapping paper, but I told my 6 year old that he had to make a nice card.

Liam didn’t want to make a card, so he whinged, moaned, groaned, stomped his foot and procrastinated about it ALL WEEK… until the morning of the party.

(I found it really strange, because usually he loves making birthday cards. He has a little drawing table all set up with paper, markers, pencils, glue…)

Anyway, as always we were in a rush that morning, so I asked my 12 year old boy to wrap the present and Liam HAD TO MAKE A CARD!

Liam asked, “Can I just write her name on the wrapping paper??”

NO!! YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO WRITE ON THE BOX WITH A PERMANENT MARKER! THAT’S LAZY! MAKE A DAMN CARD! I’M GOING TO HAVE A SHOWER, WHEN I GET OUT YOU NEED TO HAVE MADE A CARD OR YOU’RE NOT GOING TO THE PARTY! AND IT HAS TO BE A REALLY NICE OR CLEVER CARD! I DON’T WANT TO SEE A HALF-ARSE SCRIBBLED ONE! NEAT HANDWRITING! NICE MESSAGE! DO YOU UNDERSTAND? AND DON’T WRITE ON THE WRAPPING PAPER!

(Too harsh? Haha oh well. Welcome to my mornings!)

When I got out of the shower, I yelled at all 3 kids to get into the car, grab their sports bag, get a drink bottle, no you can’t go barefoot, why are you taking a basketball to the bowling party, why are are you asking me about dinner, did you go to the toilet…??

Then I noticed Liam’s “card”.

He wrote on the damn wrapping paper! UGHH!

He actually DID make a card. A nice one too. He sticky-taped it to the other side of the box, wrote instructions on the box, an extra birthday message on the box, and the 7 times tables?? Why? Because it was her 7th birthday?

Oh my god, it was sooo cute and geeky and sweet and weird. My heart was bursting with pride and love, yet I was so pissed off that he had done EXACTLY what I told him NOT to do!!

I was too rushed to scold or punish him.

I quickly took a snap and zoomed out the door.

I had no idea what to do about my predicament, so I just decided to…um, not mention it ever again HAHA!

(Oh and share it with the internet…)


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Buy Korean Skincare Online from Aniqa Australia!

25 August 2015

Brought to you by Aniqa

Aniqa Korean Skincare - Cremorlab and Mizon

I’m so excited to introduce you all to a new kid in town: Aniqa is an Australian-based online store that stocks some of the hottest Korean skincare products around.

What makes Aniqa different?

Aniqa stocks a carefully edited selection of “boutique” Korean beauty brands – such as, Cremorlab, Mizon, Be The Skin and Caolion.

There are thousands of Korean beauty brands out there, so if you’re a Korean skincare newbie like me, and you just want the best products from the best brands… this site is a godsend!

If you’ve been reading Vogue and other online fashion magazines and beauty forums, you’ll notice that they frequently feature products by Cremorlab, Mizon and Be The Skin. Also, big names like YouTube beauty queen Michelle Phan and Olivia Palermo rave about Cremorlab and Mizon too.

The Aniqa site is run by two passionate and hard working women, who are dedicated to trying and testing out every single product; listening to their clients, finding out what works, what sells and what are creating the most buzz around the world. There’s a nice personal touch to the highly professional site.

The site is beautiful, easy to navigate, secure, and most of all, you can get your Korean beauty fix with ease – cheap and fast! No need to pay gazillions of dollars in shipping from the US or wait 3-4 weeks for your order from Asia.

Aniqa Korean Skincare - Cremorlab

But first, I wanted to talk about where I’m at.

I’m in my mid-30s and skin care is really important to me. I wear sun cream, I wear a hat, I eat well, exercise, drink water, get 8 hours of sleep … most of the time, I do all the right things :)

Over the years, I’ve leaned away from drugstore brands and have reluctantly bought into the world of expensive skincare products from global brands. I say reluctantly, because a little part of me dies when I purchase a bottle of cream for $185!!

But I can’t complain really. If I work hard in keeping up a regular skincare regime, I see results.

When I take care of it, my skin is clear, radiant, smooth and it glows.

I’d say that my skin is at its optimum level. I rarely have dull skin days anymore.

I have been using mostly SK-II products (Facial Treatment Essence, Facial Treatment Gentle Cleanser, Stempower Cream and face masks), Lancome (Advanced Youth Activating Concentrate), and some products from Clarins, Shiseido, Alpha-H, SkinCeuticals, Philosophy and Trilogy.

My main problem is that it’s all so expensive.

(And I haven’t done any lasers, peels, dermabrasions, injectables, fillers, light therapy, or surgery before!)

My Recent Switch to Korean Brands!

I had been hearing a lot about Korean beauty products and how they are taking the world by storm. Everyone seems to be loving them – Vogue editors, fashion and beauty magazine editors, celebrities and hardcore fans on online beauty forums have been trying them out and absolutely loving them.

It sounded good and I was curious to try. I wanted IN on beauty products specially designed for Asian skin!

But…

1) I was reluctant because I didn’t know where to start!

2) I am aware (and possibly quite cynical) that this too is just another “trend” and “hype” in the cosmetics industry.

3) It was difficult to buy Korean beauty products in Australia.

So a couple of months ago, I got a call from an old high school friend… she and her business partner had set up an online store specialising in Korean skincare products, Aniqa. It was a nice site! She wanted to work with me and my blog and we set up a meeting. Usually I am very cautious and reluctant when working with skincare brands. Most times I just say no thanks. I have had some really bad experiences in the past. The results ranged from terrible to mediocre, and who wants to read and hear about terrible/mediocre products?? I only ever want to talk about stuff that I actually LIKE and USE.

I was trying to find a nice way to say, “Uh no thanks babe. I’m happy with SK-II and my little routine!” I didn’t want to go through that whole testing out skincare products journey again – ugh!

But she was an old friend, a lovely person, super-smart, super-genuine, self-starting, go-getting kind of person… so we met up, we caught up with each others’ lives, we talked and laughed for hours… and she gave me a box of products to try out.

That was in June.

And for the last 2 months I have been hooked on using these new products!

Now for the first time, I actually enjoy looking after my skin. I use a facial sheet mask twice a week, and I do a scrub twice a week. I bounce with excitement knowing it’s FACE MASK DAY! Or I go through the day and think, YAY I GET TO DO A SCRUB TONIGHT!

I cannot seem to express how much sheer joy and pleasure I have when I go through my routine and seeing my skin glow!

The result?

Well, I keep waking up in the morning and my skin is gorgeous!

Every day I look in the mirror and think – holy crap, er wow?!

I can honestly say that my complexion is more radiant, smoother, has less redness and is more hydrated than it’s ever been over the past few years. My skin is optimum + a few notches up.

Now whether that’s the result of ONE product, or a RANGE of products, or that I’ve simply upped my skincare regime and have now made it a positive priority in my life… I’m not entirely sure. I would say that it’s a combination of all three/four reasons.

The fact still stands, I see great results and I’m liking it.

Another result is a change in attitude: Taking care of my skin is not a boring, futile chore at the end of the day. It is seriously so. Much. Fun… and I think that inner joy and sparkle comes across in my face too :)

Yes I still get an occasional dull skin day, where my skin is not radiant and smooth. But… that is possibly connected to hormones, sleeping at 2am, eating way too much chocolate, exercising with makeup on my face, not drinking enough water, experimenting with new makeup (reviewing for blog posts) and sitting in a room with a heater/aircon on for 5-6 hours. Haha all the major no-nos!

And yes it’s probably the same amount of skincare regime work (possibly a bit more) as before with my old products SK-II, Lancome, Shiseido, etc.

So then, what was the difference? Why switch?

1) The prices.

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence (150ml) is about AUD$185 and Cremorlab Mineral Treatment Essence (270ml) is AUD$58.

SK-II Stempower Cream (80g jar) is AUD$200 and Mizon Collagen Power Lifting Cream (70ml) is AUD$55.

Ok I know I seem to be hard on SK-II. That wasn’t my intention! I DO love, love, love their products and they DO work for me. But it’s so expensive… $385 for two products?? Whereas two equivalent Korean products (as mentioned above) would set me back $113. Yes I know this is a self-inflicted, first world problem… Haha don’t judge me!

2) Using products in the same range.

Because the prices are great, I can afford to buy all the products in the same range (for example, Mizon Pore Range, Cremorlab Hydro Plus Snow Falls Line) so I’d be happy to use all the toners, serums, eye creams etc. And while a small part of me thinks these ranges are just a marketing ploy, I still like to think that products from the same range should work together chemically, in terms of the right pH, active ingredients, layering and absorption.

3) The smell is simply ah-mazing!

Aniqa Korean Skincare - Cremorlab

Where to start?

The brand Cremorlab (recommended by YouTube beauty queen Michelle Phan and Olivia Palermo) has a huge cult following. Their most raved about products would be Cremorlab Cremorlab Mineral Treatment Essence ($58 – pictured above), Cremorlab Triple Bright White Bloom Foam Cleanser ($39 – pictured above), Cremorlab Smooth Pudding Moisturiser ($65)

And their range of amazing Cremorlab Sheet Masks (starts from $5 – $14) are often featured in fashion and beauty magazines.

Aniqa Korean Skincare - Mizon

Mizon is stocked in Urban Outfitters in the US! According to online beauty forums, Mizon’s range of Snail Repair creams and gels are JUST AMAZING. (These are not stocked on Aniqa yet!) Their serums are also really popular.

My favourite so far is the Mizon Collagen Power Lifting Cream ($55) and the Mizon Collagen Power Lifting Toner ($40).

I am hoping to try the Mizon Hyaluronic Acid 100 Serum ($65) too.

Be The Skin is also another popular product, often raved about by fashion and beauty editors. I personally haven’t tried any from this brand yet, but I heard that these were good: Be The Skin Botanical Nutrition Power Cream ($58) and Be The Skin Botanical Nutrition Power Serum ($59).

I have tested out most of these products mentioned above and I’ll be posting my reviews on which worked best for me!

I’ll also be testing out a few other popular Korean skincare products… so stay tuned!

Happy shopping!

xxx

(Btw, I had a few messages about the flowers in these photographs – Yes I photographed these photos! I sourced the purple Native Wisteria and Camellia branches from my garden, the Almond Blossom from my neighbour’s garden, and the white Lisianthus flowers are from the local florist.)


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What I Wore: Flares and Turtlenecks

21 August 2015

Turtleneck and Flares

Tee hee, it’s been quite fun to pull out some of my favourites clothes from years gone by!

Flares! Turtlenecks! It feels like I’m playing dress ups, without feeling like a freak show.

I’ve already featured THREE of my old flare jeans on my blog (in this post) and since then, I have worn them several times… in public!

Hmmm, I don’t think I will be buying any new season flares this season. They are possibly a bit too over the top (and colourful) for me. But if you’re interested, I spotted some flares at Topshop where you can pick up some lace flares, velvet flares, patterned flares, paisley flares or even white crochet flares – wayhey!

Turtleneck and Flares

For this outfit, I tried to keep everything minimal, casual and subdued. No paisley here!

It really was just an everyday outfit with a tiny bit of fun thrown in.

As for my turtleneck sleeveless sweater (similar here), I bought it about 15 years ago, when I was stocking up on my wardrobe basics. It was around $60 from Sportsgirl, which I think was fairly pricey at the time. Interestingly enough, the fabric has kept very well, it still has a good stretch and the knit is still soft and smooth. I am very happy that it has lasted so long.

Do you keep your favourite old clothes?

I’m a bit of a hoarder and I will never make a good minimalist!

Flares in Deep Blue Similar from ASOS
Long Grey Coat from Shein
Boots from The Iconic.


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Lamb Pho Soup (for the Slow Cooker)

20 August 2015

Lamb Pho Soup Noodles

I LOVE making this pho soup! And my family loves to eat it!

We eat it with noodles or rice. It is absolutely delicious, warming, hearty, rich and comforting.

It’s quite easy to make too, especially when I use a slow cooker.

In authentic pho, you’re supposed to use beef bones and pre-boil them. But I like to use lamb shanks for my soups, because they are easy to buy, they are a cheap cut, I love the softness and taste of lamb, and there is no “cooked blood” mess to clean up. Plus I don’t have to pre-boil them, which reduces the prep time.

In authentic pho, you’re also supposed to char or grill the onion and ginger. I’ve made the soup without charring, and it tastes just fine, so it depends on how much time you have (or how lazy you are).

Sometimes I make this soup and just serve it over brown rice, spinach, broccoli, thinly sliced carrots, cabbage and cucumber… because I can’t be bothered buying rice noodles + sprouts + mint + coriander to make proper pho.

This is my version, which was created from a mishmash of 3 online recipes, but I tweaked them to make it easier for me.

I tend to throw everything together in my slow cooker in the morning and dinner is ready 7-8 hours later!

Ingredients
Broth Ingredients –
4 lamb shanks on the bone
2 medium onion
1 piece of ginger (10cm)
2 garlic cloves, bruised
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon of cardamom
1 whole star anise
1 large cinnamon stick
6 cloves
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of fish sauce (I don’t like fish sauce so I use soy sauce instead)
1L of beef stock
5L of hot water

To Serve
500g of rice noodles
2 spring onions
150g of bean sprouts
bunch of coriander
bunch of mint leaves
lime wedges
soy or fish sauce
chilli

Method
Char the onion and ginger over a naked flame or pop them under the grill for 15 minutes (turning regularly). I usually pop them under the grill while I gather the rest of the ingredients.

Roughly chop the onion and ginger and throw into the slow cooker. Add garlic, coriander seeds, cardamom, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and salt.

Add lamb shanks to the pan and stir them around a bit to coat with the spices.

Add 1L of beef stock and 5L of hot water. Set on low and forget for 7 hours!

After 7 hours: Turn off slow cooker and let it rest/cool for 30 minutes while you prepare the noodles, garnish and slice vegetables.

Skim off the fat from the soup. Carefully lift out lamb shanks and meat. Shred the meat and keep warm.

Strain all the onions, ginger, garlic, spices from the soup and discard. I just use a fine metal sieve and scoop everything out.

To serve: Reheat the soup. Taste the soup and adjust flavour with more soy or fish sauce. Arrange noodles, meat, mint, coriander, sprouts and spring onions in large bowls, and then pour hot soup on top.

(In the photo above, I bought 300g of beef fillet steak, sliced it thinly, put on top of the noodles (still raw) and poured the hot soup over the top).

Enjoy!

xxx


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The Luminaries and Other Good Reads

19 August 2015

The Luminaries

Many years ago, I made a promise to read one “Man Booker Prize Winner” novel a year.

Well, I didn’t really stick to it. For 10 years – consumed by looking after small children – my brain couldn’t handle “literature”. I read a lot of Twilight and easy-to-read Popular Fiction instead haha.

But I’m trying to get back into the more cerebral stuff.

I really, really enjoy it. Like fashion, exercise and cooking… it makes me feel good.

I’ve updated my Good Reads profile, if you want to check it out.

I managed to add some of the books I’ve read over the years (that I could think of!) and rated them etc.

I like classics, modern literature, popular titles and a bit of sci-fi. I don’t really like youth fiction or romance. However Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourites!

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, won the Man Booker Prize in 2013 and I managed to finish her book earlier this year.

It’s a murder mystery, historical fiction set in New Zealand in the days of the gold rush, with complicated interconnected characters and plot.

I don’t even like murder mysteries. But I liked this novel because I adored her language and story telling (a bit like Charles Dickens), her description of characters and her unfolding of the landscapes and events.

The author is 28 (!!!) and did an incredible job weaving such a complicated narrative. There is also an added technical depth; apparently there are 12 characters, 12 star signs, 12 chapters, and each chapter is half the length as the one before it. But it didn’t really add THAT much to the story, only that the chapters got shorter and it felt more exciting towards the end, leading to the story’s climax.

It’s impressive. But not for everyone!


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What I Wore: Culottes

18 August 2015

Hello Parry Culottes

Today I’m road testing these Pin Stripe Culottes from Hello Parry!

They look quite cute right?

So… do you like culottes? Big, baggy, mumsy shorts? I’ve been a bit undecided.

It’s a tricky trend. Everyone seems to be scared or reluctant to wear one.

Did you know culottes were originally Frenchmen’s knickers? They were baggy knee trousers tucked into knee-high socks hehe! Well since then, they have been around the fashion circuit a few times, and now they’re the hottest silhouette trend for this new season.

I haven’t been too keen that culottes are a midi length (ending at my calves) which usually makes me look short, truncated and like I accidentally wore my son’s pants.

I also didn’t like the voluminous silhouette, because that style usually works against my short, petite body shape  (read: makes me look fat).

Plus I had a fear that culottes would make me look like clown or a hippy.

But hey, when I tried a few pairs of these culottes, I discovered that they’re not that bad. Quite nice and elegant actually! I really liked this one too.

I like that they look tailored, smart and polished. I liked that they looked like mid length skirt. And I like that I can wear a bit more skin up the top to balance it off.

These are just fab!

Hello Parry Culottes

I just need a tuxedo jacket and I’ll be all good.

(I’m also wearing Sleeveless Bustier from Fashion Bunker, Acne Pumps from Forward by Elyse Walker and wristwear from The Peachbox)

By the way, just in case you forgot…

** Special Discount Code **

Hello Parry are offering all my readers 10% off storewide (including full priced items and sale items).

Just enter the code “karencheng10” at the checkout to get your discount!

The code ends 30 August 2015.

Happy Shopping!!

xxx


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Schutz Sandals in Nude

17 August 2015

Schutz Sandals

After I bought a pair of black strappy sandals, after constantly reaching for them whenever I went out, after wearing them for hours and hours and absolutely loving them… I knew I wanted to get another good quality pair, in nude!

So after a bit of hunting around, I bought myself a pair of Schutz Sandals (Cady Lee Style) from Shopbop.

Schutz Sandals

It was a bit of a gamble, because I’ve never worn Schutz shoes before, so I was unfamiliar with their sizing.

But they arrived, they are beautiful, and they fit!

I was toying with the idea of getting this Zora Lace Up design, but I chose this very simple and minimal design, to ensure that they look timeless and last me years.

As for the flowers in these photos… I snipped a few branches off my hibiscus tree and when I brought them inside, I didn’t realise that they were full of baby spiders! I had to vacuum my whole living room to get rid of them eeek.

Have a beautiful week everyone! Without baby spiders!

xxx


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Speedfit – Personal Training and Electronic Muscle Stimulation

14 August 2015

Brought to you by Speedfit

I do some pretty cool/strange things for my blog… and for my latest adventure, I electrocuted my muscles to tone them up!

These two photos were taken one day apart, before and after my session at SpeedFit, in Northbridge.

Eeep, my biceps have never been so full and perky before.

Before and After, Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

So let me give you the back story.

I have been very fit and active for the last 3 – 4 years. I run, cycle, play netball, do yoga, boxing, weights, cross training and more.

I first tried EMS (Electronic Muscle Stimulation) in Singapore last year. Initially, I did NOT like the idea at all. I thought it was cheating, unnecessary and against my idea of what it means to be “an active and healthy person”.

However, once I tried it, I actually thought it was pretty good (and weird)!

I was quite surprised.

The fact is… it worked. My muscles became very toned, very quickly.

Ordinarily I work very hard to keep the weight off, so most of my exercises are for me to tone up, strengthen my core, improve my posture and flexibility, keep my body healthy, strong and injury free. I also exercise because it’s fun, it makes me feel good, it challenges my mind and it helps me sleep better. I don’t focus on body sculpting or maintaining rock hard abs.

So I could see how EMS training could complement my active lifestyle.

And if I could afford, I would do it on a regular basis :)

Having toned muscles would be like icing on the cake for me!

I’ve been told that EMS Training is huge in Asia and Europe. Apparently it is a thriving and popular industry; studios are as common as regular gyms and no one thinks twice when you mention you’re off to the local EMS studio.

So when SpeedFit EMS Personal Training contacted me, it turned out that they were the first to bring the concept to Australia (several years ago), and I was keen to work with them to spread the news.

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

SpeedFit launched in Perth 2 years ago and now have more than 700 clients. They have 2 studios, one in Northbridge and one in Claremont.

I turned up early on a Tuesday morning for my 10:30am session.

It was a cold, windy day. I was dressed in a white shirt, grey knit, grey coat, black jeans, thick socks and boots. My motivation to exercise was er… 2/10.

I thought that the studio would be quiet and empty at that time, but there were two women doing their workout session ahead of my time slot and one other woman in the waiting area, who was going to do her session at the same time as me.

I had a little chat to her and she told me that she had been doing EMS Training for 4 months and absolutely loved it. She said she hated going to the gym, she has two kids under 4 years old and this was her only form of workout.

The two women finished their session and raved about their workout. They had a beaming post-workout glow as they walked out the door.

After seeing and chatting to the other women, I was pretty excited to get started and my motivation to exercise rose to 7/10.

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

EMS involves putting on a suit that delivers electronic impulses to your major muscle groups to make them contract.

A personal trainer leads you through a customised workout and apparently a 20 minute session is equivalent to 4 hours at the gym!

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

I went into the private change rooms, took off all my clothes, stored my watch and jewellery safely in a locker… and then I put on the supplied cotton top and 3/4 leggings.

I have to wear this cotton outfit because there has to be a thin, single layer of fabric between the electrodes and my skin. Plus I’m going to sweat like crazy so I’ll be able to discard them in a laundry bag for someone else to wash. It’s all part of the service. Yay.

The instructor sprayed the EMS suit with water and fastened it onto me.

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

She also strapped on little belts and wires on my biceps (arms), quads (legs), glutes (bum).

I felt like I was wearing a soggy corset!

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

My instructor plugged me into the EMS machine and I suddenly felt like a bubble jet printer.

Charge me up baby!

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

This is the EMS machine.

Looks like a cute, harmless robot!

Each little knob adjusts the strength of impulses to each muscle group. And the big knob on the right controls the overall impulse levels to all muscles.

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

The instructor customised the machine, tweaking the impulses to suit my comfort level.

What does it feel like?

It feels like little massage balls bumping on my skin. It’s not painful at all. It doesn’t feel zappy, or pinchy or twingey on my nerves.

It feels a bit weird and kind of nice, when set to lower levels.

But what’s the point of a low-level massage right? I wanted to tone up my muscles and get a workout!

This is me about to start!

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

Once the machine began the program, it led me through a 20 minute workout session.

The impulses went for 6 seconds and stopped for 4 seconds.

I had to tense my muscles, HOLD for 6 seconds, then I got a 4 second break to change positions.

It’s a bit like yoga, in that I had to concentrate on the position of my body, arms, legs and back.

The instructor went through different workout positions, like squats, rear leg extensions, calf raises, bicep curls and more. It was pretty simple.

As the workout went on, I realised that I could handle a higher level of impulses, so I just reached out and changed the levels to my liking.

The instructor also started to push me a bit and upped the levels for me bit by bit.

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

By the end, the impulses were quite intense. I wanted to go hard! I was puffing and sweating as I finished.

I pushed myself quite a bit and I think I did really well. After all, I wanted to see results :)

The whole thing went for 20 minutes. So quick!

Immediately after the workout, I was able to have a shower in the private change rooms, blow dry my hair, change into my clothes. My instructor made me a protein shake to help with my muscle recovery. I was in and out in 45 minutes.

(I probably could have been in and out in less time, but I stopped to chat to my instructor and asked her a lot of questions).

I stepped out of the studio looking as fresh as a daisy. I caught up with my friend for lunch and she could not believe that I just “had a workout at the gym”. I was glowing with a fabulous post-workout feeling! I felt amazing!

That evening, my biceps ached a bit and I knew I had worked them quite hard.

I took a photo of myself in the mirror (at the top of the post) and was very impressed to see that my biceps were significantly rounder and fuller than before.

I have been lifting 5kg to 7.5kg dumbells and working out my arms (twice a week, for the last few months), but I’ve had to slow down because my elbow/forearm hurt a bit and I didn’t want tear anything. So this was a great way to compliment my weights workout and give my arms a boost. I’m really happy with the results.

What Are The Benefits?

There’s lots of information on the website about the Benefits of EMS and a list of Frequently Asked Questions.

Pricing – How Much Does It Cost?

SpeedFit suggest that you do training once a week, and they have created several membership packages to suit different lifestyles.

See their Price List here.

*Special Offer*

So here’s the big plug – SpeedFit have a special offer at the moment: TWO trial sessions for $90!

(The standard rate for one session is $90). This is a pretty cool offer, especially if you – like I was – a bit unsure whether it’ll work for you, and just want to give it a go.

Call and Book for a Session

Northbridge
telephone: 08 9328 3448
email: northbridge@speedfit.com.au

Claremont
telephone: 08 9384 6182
email: claremont@speedfit.com.au

Hope you enjoyed my review!

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

xxx


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Our Weekly Sports Schedule

13 August 2015

Remember how I mentioned we used to have a slow lifestyle?

Well things have gotten a bit crazy over the last few months.

Life is not-so-slow now.

My two big boys play football and basketball. Once a week, they will each have one basketball training and one football training session, and then one basketball match and one football match each. So each boy plays about 5 hours of sport.

My youngest boy only plays football, so with a training session and a game, it’s only 2 hours a week for him.

They also learn music at home and we sit down and do extended learning and tuition with our kids too.

Is that too much? I have no idea.

For me, it doesn’t feel like a lot of work. I don’t feel THAT stretched. I feel like I’m doing the comfortable minimum for us. It feels good to keep the kids a little occupied and busy during the school term.

Sports Schedule

I like to show my friends our crazy Weekly Sports Schedule to scare them, but really it’s not that bad.

I LIKE having this structure to my week, because I can easily fit things around it and we can get so much done.

Each week, we manage to fit in an occassional date night, dinners with friends or family, a Friday night movie with kids, evening walk in the parks, play dates for the kids, maybe a sleepover, lots of errands, lots of weekly homework, lots of free playtime, lots of goof-off time like watching MythBusters and science documentaries, while eating snacks after dinner, board games, lego making, computer games, mucking around with our robotics set, plus I fit in all my exercise workouts and runs too.

Slow or fast, it works for us. Our lives are happy, full, well-rounded and completely satisfying at the moment!

xxx


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Rails Shirts and Stan Smiths

12 August 2015

Lately I’ve been obsessing over a few American brands. I completely love their west coast cool and kind of want everything in their collection :)

Let me share with you!

Shopbop RAILS

Rails is a LA brand with a really cool range of shirts. My friends in the US are raving about them and I’m keen to try one out.

The denim shirts and checked shirts are my favourite at the moment.

Shopbop Skirts

From left to right:
Bailey44 are also a LA label with a cool, relaxed, modern style. Their dresses are flattering and sexy! Love their collection!

Anine Bing has been a favourite of mine for a while. I love her simple and relaxed designs, with a nod of rock and roll/festival style.

Elizabeth and James has a more polished and lady-like style. Their dresses are modern, sleek and look amazing.

Stan Smiths from The Iconic

In the 1970s, Adidas created a tennis shoe and named it after the famous American tennis player, Stan Smith. They were huge in the 1980s and 90s. Apparently they sold about 30 million pairs worldwide.

In 2012, Adidas took the shoe out of production and no longer marketed it. But by 2014, they decided to relaunch the shoe and now everyone wants one!

These Stan Smiths range from $100 – $130, have a patterned – snakeskin and satin – heel tab.

(I’m still in love with my leather Converse, so I’m not sure if I want to fork out $100 for another pair of white leather sneakers! What about you?)

Happy Shopping!

xxx

 


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Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder

11 August 2015

Mecca Goodies

I succumbed to the raving online hype and bought myself an Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder Palette. It is a finishing powder that is supposed to illuminate your face by diffusing and softening the way light reflects on your skin.

I was really doubtful at first, especially since I have an olive skin tone. But after I tried it, I was SOLD!

It looked beautiful and really softened the colours of my makeup and skin.

The colours include Dim Light (a natural peach beige), Incandescent Light (a brightening opalescent pearl) and Radiant Light (a sun-kissed golden beige).

You can buy Hourglass from MECCA, Net-A-Porter (only $10 shipping), Sephora, Nordstrom.

Have you tried it?


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Girls Weekend to Yallingup, Margaret River

9 August 2015

Yallingup, Wyadup Rocks

I headed down to Yallingup for the weekend with 5 other girlfriends (no kids!).

My friend checked the tide charts and weather charts and took us to this little “secret” pool for a winter swim in the ocean!

I wasn’t planning to swim, so I didn’t take my swimsuit.

But when I saw the water, I was struck with spontaneous craziness, stripped off and jumped in – in my t-shirt and underwear!

Yallingup, Wyadup Rocks

This is my girlfriend testing the water before the rest of us jumped in.

Yallingup Aug 2015

We stayed at my friend’s parent’s house… and this is the view we had!!

Most afternoons, we sat on the balcony, reading, snacking and enjoyed the gorgeous sunset over the ocean.

Yallingup Aug 2015

We cooked up a storm of amazing food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was soooo goood.

Yallingup Aug 2015

A storm rolled in one afternoon, so we decided to take a walk on the beach!

It was a bit crazy, but it was such a beautiful walk.

Yallingup Aug 2015

This was the beach, after the storm came through.

We watched a lot of sunsets over the beach.

Vasse Felix Winery and Restaurant

We also went to a few wineries and ate super posh (and super expensive!) food.

This was the duck dish at Vasse Felix and yes the food was absolutely delicious.

Yallingup Aug 2015

More beach walks. More stunning skies.

This is Shelley Beach in Bunker Bay.

Yallingup Aug 2015

When it rained, we did a lot of sitting around the fire and reading. I finished TWO books (I was 2/3 the way through two books), which felt awesome to accomplish.

In fact, one afternoon, we plopped down on the couch at 4pm… and the 6 of us sat quietly to read, listening to nothing but the pouring rain and crackling fire. We read until 8pm and someone yawned sleepily, “Maybe we should make dinner?!”

That was a golden moment!

No rushing around with kids, no hungry screaming toddlers, no bathtime battles, no rush, no agenda.

Ah it was bliss.

Anyway that’s enough photos, here’s to relaxing breaks and spontaneous fun!

Hope you enjoy your week xxx


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A catch up with girlfriends at The Standard, Perth

7 August 2015

My cousin was in town recently (visiting from London) and we organised to catch up with some of our childhood girlfriends over dinner. We decided to go to The Standard in Northbridge.

I’ve been here 3 times already – I really recommend it as a great place to have dinner and drinks!

Each time I’ve visited, I’ve taken my big DSLR camera and taken photos of what I’ve eaten. But each time, the photos turned out looking quite awful because the lighting in the restaurant is low and red in colour. Even with colour correction, I still can’t make the photos look “natural”.

So here is my third attempt to take photos of the delicious food at The Standard!

There were 5 of us and we ordered 5 plates of food to share.

The Standard Perth

First we ordered the Crisp eggplant salad, grapefruit caramel, pea tendrils and chilli ($18).

I really enjoyed the combination of flavours in this salad. I always love coriander and sprouts. The grapefruit caramel was sweet and citrusy and made quite a nice dressing.

I was expecting the eggplant to be a bit more crisp, crunchy and tasty… but it was chunky, soggy and lacking in a flavour that added to the salad.

The Standard Perth

This was my favourite dish on the menu: Grilled Chicken, rice noodles, peanuts, herbs and nuoc cham ($22).

YUM! The wait staff instructed us to shred the chicken apart, pour the chilli all over it and toss everything into a noodley salad.

The chicken was gorgeously marinated with salty Asian flavours. The dressing on the noodles was tangy and fresh. And the chilli brought everything together. It had minced ginger and garlic in it (much like Hainanese chicken rice chilli) and gave the noodles an amazing punch.

I’m a big fan of fresh Asian flavours with grilled chicken and this dish was just superb!

The Standard Perth

My other favourite dish for the evening: Glazed pork cheek, crisp jowl, broad bean and brussel sprouts ($26).

The pork was amazing! So soft, tender, tasty… it was cooked to perfection. The little bits of crispy pork fat that melted in my mouth made it all the more heavenly. The crunchy texture of the crisp jowl balanced the softness of the meat nicely.

The Standard Perth

We ordered the Beef brisket, brioche, pickle, Russian dressing, buttered cabbage ($25).

The Russian dressing turned out to be a creamy, cheese sauce, with a bit of tang to it (vinegar? mustard?).

I was a bit dubious at first, but everything on the plate was full of bold and delicious flavours, that I liked it in the end. The beef was lovely and soft, and the brioche was a nice touch.

I thought this dish was “pretty good” (I prefered the grilled chicken)… but my girlfriends LOVED it. When they ate it, their eyes rolled back and they’d go, “Oh god that’s so goooood!” and all throughout dinner someone would randomly exclaim, “MMMmmmm! That brisket is AMAZING!”

We also ordered Fava chips, mushroom ketchup and aioli ($9) but I didn’t like them, so I didn’t take a photo of it. I just found it too salty and I didn’t like the taste of the fava, which is a broad bean.

The amount we ordered was perfect for us.

I definitely want to go back again to try the Garlic Clams, the Yellow Fish Curry and the Mushroom Doughnuts. And maybe next time I’ll go during the daytime and take some photos of the food in natural light!

It was a fantastic night with good food and good company!

The Standard Perth
28 Roe St, Northbridge, WA
www.thestandardperth.com.au

 


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What I Wore: Rebecca Minkoff + Hello Parry

6 August 2015

A few of my gorgeous girlfriends chipped in together and bought me this leather backpack for my birthday! (I got to choose it!)

It is a Rebecca Minkoff Backpack here from The Iconic or here from Shopbop.
Rebecca Minkoff Bag + Hello Parry Sunglasses

It makes a fantastic everyday bag! The leather is superb quality and the zips and buckles are robust, which allows the bag to survive a few knocks and bumps.

I love that it’s slouchy, casual, sporty… and a bit different.

Backpacks crept back into the fashion scene about a year or two ago and they are pretty popular at the moment. They are probably on the way out, but meh I don’t care, I have been using backpacks and drawstring bags for ages and I feel they are very my style.

Rebecca Minkoff Bag + Hello Parry Sunglasses

My Doir inspired sunglasses are also new from Hello Parry. They are nice and light so they don’t leave a mark on my face. Plus they are super affordable. I really like wearing them because they look cool and quirky, without being too weird.

They do make me look like I have a mono brow though, maybe that’s the new thing haha?

Wearing: Denim shirt Similar Cupcakes and Cashmere Shirt, Similar ASOS | Vivienne Westwood Jeans Similar | Senso Heels | Sunglasses from Hello Parry

*Oh oh, I’m actually off on a girl’s holiday this weekend!

It’s my first GIRLS-ONLY trip away and I’m super excited!

I’ll be updating my Instagram account (@karenlycheng) so do check in on me to keep in touch.

xxx


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Shona Joy Maxi Dresses

4 August 2015

I’ve had my eye on these Shona Joy Maxi Dresses since they first came out :)

I love their colours, prints and designs. I also love how, while they are “maxi dresses”, they are not TOO LONG… so they will definitely fit a shorty like me!

Now they are on sale at The Iconic at 70% off, for $88.50 – $116!

Amazing! And they still have size 6, 8, 10, 12 available.

Shona Joy Maxi Dresses

Left: Landmark Bustier Crossover Maxi Dress

Centre: Installation Bustier Midi Dress

Right: Dessau Bustier Midi Dress

I can’t decide between the one on the left and centre.

There are also lots more gorgeous designs here (short version, strap version, midi skirt, pencil skirt) that are also on sale.

Shona Joy form The Iconic

Left: Mies Pencil Midi Skirt – $51

Centre: Futura Bustier Midi Dress – $206.50

Right: The Gallery Pencil Skirt – $78.40

Happy Shopping! Or browsing!

xxx


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Rock Collections from the Helena and Aurora Range

3 August 2015

Camping at the Helena and Aurora Range

We recently went camping in a very remote part of the West Australian bush. We were about 100kms away from the closest town and literally surrounded by hundreds of kilometres of bushland and not much else.

Once we set up camp, there wasn’t much to do except hike, walk, make a fire and look at the scenery.

We camped with our friends (another couple) and their kids, so in total there were 4 adults and 6 kids, aged between 14 and 6. I was a little nervous that the kids would wander off and get lost. But they were great. They entertained themselves really well.

They collected firewood, made a cubby house, dug holes and trenches, made their own garden, roasted marshmallows and played card games.

But after 2 days of that, they starting to fight and bicker – so we decided they needed a project!

My husband is a ‘project’ man, so he gave the kids a brief:

Create a rock collection based on shape, colour or texture and present them in a row, increasing/decreasing in size.

The kid with the best gradient would win $5. We gave them 2 days, and boy it was fun. The whole area around us was covered in weird little rocks and iron ore composite rocks with banded colours of compressed minerals. I’m not exactly sure what they were.

The kids were so quiet and so preoccupied for the rest of the trip! It was amazing!

On the last morning of camp, we put down a huge plastic sheet on the ground and the kids laid out their rock collections.

Rock Collection - Helena and Aurora Range

With our feet covered in red dirt, we all stood around like art critics and examined the rock collections.

It was quite clever, creative, bizarre and entertaining at the same time.

Rock Collection - Helena and Aurora Range

Everyone gave a little speech and presented their findings.

We all discussed the strengths and weaknesses of each collection.

Rock Collection - Helena and Aurora Range

This was a very cute example of the smooth iron blobs scattered all over the range.

Rock Collection - Helena and Aurora Range

This collection was less of a gradient and more of a line up of beautiful banded rocks.

The cube-like rock on the right, looked like a slice of chocolate waffer cake!

Rock Collection - Helena and Aurora Range

A very impressive triangle rock shape gradient!

Rock Collection - Helena and Aurora Range

And as a complete surprise to everyone, I secretly entered the competition with some heart-shaped rocks!

Impressive huh? I can’t believe how cute they looked.

They were so bloody hard to find! I pretty much had my head down looking at the ground the whole second half of the trip, and might have missed a few sights.

Here’s a close up.

Rock Collection - Helena and Aurora Range

I was a bit embarrassed that I stole the limelight from the kids – it was their activity after all!

And I had a feeling that they (my own children) were a bit pissed off at me for cutting into their winnings, so my husband saved the day by creating different award categories (Best Size Gradient, Best Colour and Pattern Gradient, Best Presentation) and in the end EVERYONE WON $5 haha!

I absolutely love looking at these rock collections now. They put the biggest smile on my face :)