Archive for Daily Living

 

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March Coffee Catch Up

22 March 2017

Purple Skies
(I snapped this photo of the purple sky during one of my evening walks.)

Hi everyone!

This year started with an almighty bang!

So much has happened in the last couple of months… and I haven’t really stepped back to take a breather and review everything.

What’s been happening?

1) Travel. I was in London for 4 weeks. I popped over to Paris too. I was away from my husband and kids for the whole time. I absolutely loved the whole experience of travelling / freedom / exploring / wanderlust / no responsibilities.

For me, it cemented the fact that I’m on the other side of parenting young children. I had my first child at 25, while all my friends were travelling, partying, establishing their careers and enjoying no responsibilities. At the time, a small part of me was sad that I was missing out on all that – but hey, here I am on the other side, travelling, partying, establishing my career and having no responsibilities – haha not really, but kind of!

2) My freelancing business is growing! Work is on the increase. Lots of new projects are rolling in. I’m having lots of pinch-me moments in terms of the kind of projects I’m working on. Things I do right now: I run my blog, I do freelance work as a photographer, a graphic designer, an art director, a content creator and a social media consultant and manager. Phew.

Sounds so pretentious when I say it all like that. I basically sit on my computer all day and make pretty stuff ha!

I’m still working on a part-time basis. And I’m so so grateful for the work-life balance.

3) Birthdays. My children’s birthdays all fall in March & April, so they will all move up a year. I will soon have a 14 year old, a 12 year old and an 8 year old. Yikes!

Basically, I have two kids in high school, one in Year 9, one in Year 7, and one kid in Primary School, Year 3. Yikes!

4) I have mini-teenagers now. However, they are not very typical teenaged boys. You see, they are all really chatty.

Lots of parenting articles and advice columns talk about how to get your teenagers to talk… how teenagers go through a “grunting” stage… how parents can initiate conversations… how parents can talk to teens so that they’ll listen…

Not my boys. OMG I can’t get them to shut up!

My boys are really chatty. As soon as they come home from school, they will fall over themselves to tell me the latest news of the day. I get an hour-by-hour run down on what happened, who said what, who did what, what they think about their teachers, their teaching methods, the subjects at school, about the new kid in class, about upcoming events, what kind of sneaker they should buy, what happened in the latest online game, what kind of job they want in the future, their latest ideas for a fast money making scheme to make them millionaires, what they think about the latest Ed Sheeran song… omg it just goes on and on and freaking on.

I listen. I don’t get too judgemental. I laugh. I roll my eyes at them. I join in with their banter. I mock and tease them. I throw in some pearls of wisdom. Or add my own entertaining story. But most of the time, we just talk shit.

Anyway, I feel it’s a blessing that I get to hear all the crap in their heads! Better than nothing right?

5) School work. In terms of their studies, my kids seem to be doing pretty well. I have backed off all my help and assistance. I let them work out their own time management, due dates, assignments, revision and they seem to be on top of things.

However, I can’t STOP being an Asian parent. I have to BITE my tongue whenever they come home with 19/25 on a test.

Yes yes, you tried your best, but, seriously dude, how hard is 22/25?

And one day, one of my kids said to me – Hey guess what mum? I made a very cool discovery this week. I realised that if I pay *just a little* more attention in class, I can get an A in my tests. Can you believe that? It’s cool. Who’d have thought it’d be so easy?

*Face palm*

6) Exercise. I have slowed down significantly in the last few months. I blame my increasing workload. I do a bit of swimming, a bit of yoga, a bit of cycling and a bit of running per week.

Key words here: a bit.

7) Next family holiday. Omg people! This is epic! We’re planning a trip to Central Australia. We’re going to drive to Uluru. Yes we’re driving! Personally, I’d prefer to fly there, but it’s all about the journey right?

It’ll be simply amazing for our family. But there’s so much planning and preparation. And I’m a little tense about it all.

8) Anxiety. Usually I’m pretty stable in terms of my mood swings, emotions, temperament, confidence, self-esteem and overall positive outlook on life. I’m usually a happy and easy going person!

But two/three days in the month, I’m a total wreck. Little things send me into a blind panic. One word, or comment, or news article, or Instagram post from someone will send me into a deep dark pit of darkness. I think I’m shit. I think all my work is shit. Everything I do is shit. I think life in general is meaningless, pointless, and just total shit. It’s a brain-numbing paralysis. It’s totally irrational. It’s hard to breathe. Hard to think. Hard to function.

I console myself in the fact that it only happens once a month, it is not my normal, and it goes away. No doubt it coincides with my monthly hormone cycles.

9) Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been my go-to answer for finding meaning at the end of the day. Only joking. It’s how we de-stress in the evenings. I am literally snorting with laughter and doing the whole “ugly laughing” thing. It’s so good haha.

10) I’m Currently Reading two books at once. Far From a Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. I’m halfway through. The language is just lovely. But the heroine is really annoying me at the moment. Three men have fallen in love with her and vying for her attention, and she chooses the worst one. Ugh.

Just like Anna Karenina, I want to slap some sense into her. I hope she redeems herself soon. Probably not. It’d be a short novel if she did.

So I’m reading Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. I’ve always wanted to read it. My husband has kept his high school copy, so that’s the version I’m reading. It’s hilarious so far. And a bit weird. I’m loving it.

OK ten points will do for now.

Thanks for reading! I’m off for a run!

xxx


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Korean Digital Perm for Medium Hair

17 March 2017

6 months ago, I went to Curi Hair Korean Hair Salon to have a Korean Digital Perm for Medium Hair – I wanted big, loose waves and straight ends.

I know I can create that look myself with my hair curler. But it takes me FOREVER to do it, because I have such thick hair.

I wanted permanent, everyday curls! I’m so lazy!

Korean Digital Perm for Medium Hair

I took in these photos of blogger extraordinaire Nicole Warne and Aimee Song to show my hair stylist.

I wasn’t expecting the EXACT same style, as their hair styles were probably hand-styled for 3 hours to utter perfection. I just wanted something that looked similar.

I didn’t want any colour either, as I had some balayage lightening leftover from ages ago.

Korean Digital Perm for Medium Hair

The digital perm took about 3 hours – although I had to go to the toilet twice because of all the tea I was sipping.

I was suuuuper pleased with the results!

They did such a fantastic job.

Korean Digital Perm for Medium Hair

I took these photos in my car after having the perm done. I loved it!!!

So as I mentioned earlier, I had this perm done in October.

I wanted to wait 6 months before doing this review, because I wanted to share what a perm was like after a long time.

Yes you can step out of a salon looking amazing, but how is it on a day-to-day basis? How is it after 6 months? Do the curls fall out? Does it still look great? Is it high maintenance? Is it frizzy af? Is it really worth it?

A Week After the Perm

I was surprised by how dry and frizzy my hair felt. It was a bit of a shock to me. I needed to put 3-4 pumps of oil and rub it into the ends of my hair to make it look good.

Blow-drying my hair took practice. I blow-dried my hair in a random/haphazard way until it was 85% dry. Then I had to twirl locks of hair with my finger and lift it up to give the curls a nice shape and a smooth texture.

The perm was pretty tricky to manage at first. It was annoying. It was high maintenance. I was quite exasperated by all the blow-drying sometimes. My hair was like a pet haha. I had to look after it. I had to get to know it.

Experiment to find out what works. I had to experiment for a few weeks. Use more product. Use less product. More twirling. Less twirling. Blow-dry in the morning. Blow-dry at night. Hair in a pony tail. Hair left out. Use more conditioner. Use less conditioner.

But after a while, I got used to it and it’s pretty easy now!

 

6 Months After the Perm

Korean Digital Perm for Medium Hair

Photo (Left): This is me with towel dried hair, left to air dry. With a bit of hair oil.

Photo (Right): This is me after blow drying my hair and twirling. Took me 10 minutes. This is how my hair looks most of the time.

I often do a beachy look, (which is really just my lazy hair look) where I just blow-dry my hair quickly and haphazardly. Then I just use some mousse, salt spray or hair wax to get rid of the frizz and help keep the curls in shape.

I still have to use about 3 pumps of hair oil. My hair is still dry and can get frizzy on humid days.

After 6 months, the curls have not fallen out.

My hair is still really curly! It just depends on how I blow-dry my hair.

Korean Digital Perm for Medium Hair

These photos are of my hair after a more careful blow-dry to create bigger, softer curls. Again this took me about 10 minutes. I used a wet-look wax on the ends.

Korean Digital Perm for Medium Hair

This is me after a very, very gentle blow-dry. The curls are much longer, smoother and sleeker. This look takes me 20 minutes to do – which I consider to be “forever” – and I hardly ever do this because I’m lazy haha. But it looks really good!

Conclusion

Having a digital perm is NOT EASIER or LESS MAINTENANCE than everyday hair. It’s a different kind of maintenance.

If you’re looking for a hairstyle that is super low maintenance, then this is probably not for you.

For me, I absolutely love it!! I like the fact that I can blow-dry my hair for 10 minutes and have lovely, everyday curls. It’s a bit messy, it’s a bit boofy, it doesn’t have to look perfect.

Everyday I channel the “messy hair, don’t care” vibe haha. I like it.

Blow-drying is much easier than using a hot curling wand. So for me, that’s a WIN.

It’s been 6 months and I think it has been totally worth it!

* By the way, this is the second time I’ve had a digital perm. The last time, I had really long hair and I wanted very tight curls. You can read my blog post about it here.

xxx


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London’s Natural History Museum : Highlights

10 March 2017

Natural History Museum London

I was going to save my “first visit” to the Natural History Museum for when I was in London with my kids.

 

They love all this Natural World kind of stuff!

Me? I don’t really like looking at dead, stuffed animals, so why put myself through the pain of seeing it all twice?

As it turned out, the museum was very cool and I really enjoyed myself.

Yes there were lots of stuffed animals.

But I had a couple of WOW moments too. Especially with the dinosaur bones.

Say what?

You’d think that after raising 3 boys, who were obsessed about dinosaurs, that I’d be pretty bored by them. Nope.

Natural History Museum London

This dinosaur skeleton was aaaaamazing.

It is the most intact and complete Stegosaurus fossil skeleton ever found.

It was presented so well –  its pose, height, directional lighting to capture its texture, the colour of the light.

Even though it was just propped up on a white platform, it was so engaging and compelling. It made my jaw fall to the floor in awe, and it made my imagination come alive!

Natural History Museum London

I also loved the specimens of deep sea fish – So weird and alien looking!

The stuffed dodo – Looked like an enormous chicken!

The swarm of hummingbirds – So tiny and beautiful!

I guess I will be taking my kids after all, and seeing it all again haha.


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Finished Reading List for 2016

6 March 2017

Read: Name of The Rose and Divergent

Just after Christmas last year, I finally finished the book that I had been stuck on for 5 months – The Name of The Rose by Umberto Eco.

Haha I’m not sure if it was completely worth it, because while it was lovely and fascinating in parts, it was pretty hard work to get though it.

But hey, I have been trying to read that book since 2000 and I’ve done it damn it! I will never wistfully wonder what the book is about, or how the words flow from its pages, or what it is like to experience Umberto Eco’s literary vibe.

So after that, on the other side of the literary spectrum, I decided to read something “light and easy” and I found Divergent (Book 1) and Insurgent (Book 2) in an op shop for $2 each.

They are young adult, science-fiction dystopia novels, with a thread of romance. I’ve watched the movies. The guy was hot. I breezed through the first book in a few days.

My verdict: The movie seemed to craft the story and characters much better. It was a fun read though.

I took a longer time to get through the second book because, um the teenaged drama made me cringe.

 

So here is my completed reading list for 2016, starting with the book I read in January 2016.

1. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami.

2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

4. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

5. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

6. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

7. The Martian by Andy Weir

9. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

10. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

8. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

11. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy

12. Me, Before You by Jojo Moyes

13. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

14. Divergent by Veronica Roth

You can check out my whole list over at Goodreads, although you have to be logged in to see the list in chronological order, I think.

My favourite book of the year goes to Anna Karenina, as I often find myself thinking about the characters at random moments in my day to day life.

Followed closely by Great Expectations and All The Light We Cannot See.

The Martian as pretty cool too; I always look at a potato and smirk.

The novel I regretted reading was The Husband’s Secret. While it was a fast-paced, engaging page-turner, set in the modern day… I got to the end and I felt like I had watched a run-of-the-mill TV drama. I instantly regretted dedicating such a huge portion of my daily brain energy to it and giving up my sleep for it! Ugh.

It was highly entertaining while I was reading it and very well written, but in terms of conjuring up lingering thoughts about human nature or society, it didn’t affect or alter me in any way.


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Tate Modern: Highlights

21 February 2017

This was my second visit to the Tate Modern Art Gallery – the first time was 14 years ago, when I was last in London with my husband.

I was going to skip it, but it was a cold, grey day and my mum and I needed to get out of the house.

I was a bit hesitant to take my mum – an Asian lady in her early 70s – because I wasn’t sure if she’d like all that “MODERN ART”.

When I was in Tasmania, I visited the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and there was a very long wall with a row of plaster cast vaginas set just above eye level. 30 of them maybe? They were um, interesting. But I secretly prayed that there wouldn’t be anything too CONFRONTATIONAL like that at the Tate haha.

Thank goodness there were only just a bunch of Picasso’s and Pollock’s there!

Tate Modern - Mondrain

Ah modern art, you crazy thing you.

Mondrian always makes me chuckle. I know he is regarded as a genius. But I always imagine him thinking, OK let’s have some fun and see if I can get away with this one…..

Apparently the colour, structure and placement of the elements within the picture is meant to represent an ethical view of society.

Composition C (No.III) with Red, Yellow and Blue (1935), by Piet Mondrian

Tate Modern - Picasso

Ok I had a special moment with this one.

Picasso has such a huge and remarkable body of work, across so many mediums. He’s a really impressive artist. And when you stare into his paintings they can be quite moving.

Especially this one!

Weeping Woman (1937) by Pablo Picasso.

From the display caption: One of the worst atrocities of the Spanish Civil War was the bombing of the Basque town of Guernica by the German air force, lending their support to the Nationalist forces of General Franco. Picasso responded to the massacre by painting the vast mural Guernica, and for months afterwards he made subsidiary paintings based on one of the figures in the mural: a weeping woman holding her dead child. Weeping Woman is the last and most elaborate of the series. The woman’s features are based on Picasso’s lover Dora Maar.

Some of my favourite Picasso paintings are the Guernica and Weeping Woman. So it was amazing to see this one in real life.

Tate Modern - Dali

Autumnal Cannibalism (1936) by Salvador Dalí

I don’t know much about Dali, only that he knocked out some kooky-weird stuff.

I remember in art school, we had to do drawings in a Dalí style and it was actually really hard to deliberately discard all the “rules” of perspective, scale, form. It seriously messed with my head haha.

Tate Modern - Pollock

Number 14 (1951) by Jackson Pollock

Even though Pollock’s work is ridiculously messy, abstract and random, I quite like it.

But mainly because I can imagine how FUN it would be to throw / squirt / splatter / pour / make an almighty mess with all that paint!

It’s kind of exciting to stare into all that randomness.

Tate Modern - Warhol

Marilyn Diptych (1962) by Andy Warhol.

Hmm, I’ve never been a fan of Andy.

But he did make a significant impact on art, film, music, pop culture, art culture in the 60s so I had to take a photo for my kids to see.

Tate Modern - Duchamp

Fountain (1917, replica 1964) by Marcel Duchamp

My mum scoffed at this one.

I’m a bit on the fence with it.

If you read the convoluted story behind it on the Tate website (quite interesting!), you can decide whether Duchamp was just being an ass, arrogantly trying to prove a point, honestly trying to make people stop and think, pissing off the Society of Independent Artists (of which he himself founded!), or being a witty / humorous / clever artist.

Dunno.

Overall, I had yet another wonderful day, slowly perusing through the art galleries in London. Bliss!

What I was most amazed by was the fact that almost all the good stuff was completely free. There is no official entry fee into all the big galleries, but they do encourage you to give a small donation. Love that.


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An Alternative to Laser: Collagen Induction Therapy at Iconic Medispa, Perth

17 February 2017

Collagen Induction Therapy from Iconic Medispa

(This is me 8 weeks after CIT treatment, with concealer, foundation, powder, highlighting, a little mascara and really nice portrait lighting. Not entirely natural, but my skin is glowing!)

Some of you might remember my blog post about My 30’s Skin Journey, where I whinged about my skin and I talked about seeing a dermatologist, my skin treatment, using (and loving) Vitamin A and how I decided NOT to do laser.

Instead I went for lots of facials (Detox facials! Rejuvenation facials! Relaxing facials!) which are nice, relaxing, and wonderfully luxurious. But in terms of making an actual difference to my skin, most of them were meh.

So now I have been trying more “active”, but non-invasive facial treatments.

My disclosure here is that I was contacted by a friend of a friend of a friend, who also happened to be a high school friend’s sister’s husband — basically I kind of know the team behind the Iconic Medispa in South Perth and they asked if I’d like to try one of their facial therapies.

I actually declined at first, because I didn’t know very much about the therapies they offered. On their website, they say they offer HydrafacialsCollagen Induction Therapy (which is like skin needling), a range of chemical peels, facials, infusion masks and even wrinkle relaxers and dermal fillers.

Since I declined to write a blog post, I offered to take photos for some of their marketing social media instead.

So one day I went into their clinic to take photos, I started chatting and asking questions about their business and their therapies. They were all very professional, knowledgeable and passionate about what they do, and I got a really nice vibe from them, their practice and their ethos… and the more informed I was, the more I wanted to try a facial treatment.

Basically, I got to know Dr Michael and a few of his therapists.

He’s is an award winning dentist! He’s super humble, he’s got two daughters, he’s into photography, does triathlons, he’s a cyclist, he’s down to earth, he’s into further education and training/computer aided designs/new technologies that deliver real results (I liked this!), he confessed that he never really advertised his business because he just wanted to focus on doing great work and relied on word of mouth which inadvertently made his business thrive. He’s an all-rounder nice guy and he’s a bit of a geek :)

(And he’s not at all like the big talking cosmetic specialists – who I have met in the past, who talk fast and rushed like I’m taking up their time, and who talk down to me like I’m inferior.)

Chatting to him, I realised that he had Collagen Induction Therapy done to himself, for his own acne scarring.

And at that point, I was sold and super-keen to have it done too!

In the next part of this post, yes I do have close up before and after photos, I explain what CIT is, what happened during the treatment… and how I absolutely loved the results.

I actually had the treatment done 8 weeks ago and I am sooooo happy with the results, so I decided to write this blog review after all.

They didn’t pay me to write any of this, however they did provide the treatment as an exchange for some photography, marketing and graphic design work I did for them, months ago… which I was actually keen to do in order to extend my commercial photographic portfolio. So hey you can decide for yourself if I’m being a sell out or a freebie seeking blogger ha!

 

 

So what is Collagen Induction Therapy?

You can read all about CIT from Dr Google…(and see other people’s before and after photos).

But in Karen-speak: Basically Collagen Induction Therapy uses a skin-needling or micro-needling technique (which has been around for hundreds of years). The latest technology in this field is called “Dermastamp” where medical-grade, fine needles are pricked into the surface of your skin to promote your own skin’s boost of collagen growth and to stimulate skin rejuvenation.

Because of this natural boost of collagen, your skin becomes firmer, smoother, tighter, improves in texture and reduces the sizes of pores, fine lines, wrinkles and scars. The boosting effect of collagen growth and skin improvement lasts for about 6-12 months.

Er, it all sounded too good to be true!?

I was happy to do it because: It’s said to be just as effective as laser, it’s good for getting rid of acne scars, it’s very low risk, almost no pain, almost no negative side effects, it’s “natural” because it boosts your own collagen growth, perfect for Asian skin and perfect for people with hyper-pigmentation (like me!).

You can read a bit more FAQ on the Iconic site here.

My Treatment Plan

Dr Michael checked out my skin, and for my acne scarring he recommended I have 2 rounds of skin cleansing facial treatments first (as my pores were really clogged and I needed to improve my skin health) then have a total of 5 CIT treatments, alternated with the facial cleansing treatments.

These skin cleansing treatments were called HydraFacials and they were fantastic!

Basically a HydraFacial is a facial, but heaps better. They do a light scrub to exfoliate your face, they give you a gentle peel, then they use a special pen that extracts and cleans your pores, while infusing your skin with antioxidants, peptides and hyaluronic acid.

It’s soooo much better and more effective than a regular facial.

It did wonders for my pores!

It’s a great way to prep your skin before a more active skin treatment like CIT.

(And after doing a bit of research about it, I found out that heaps of celebrities and personalities do it but they don’t publicly announce it ha!)

My CIT Experience

First of all, Iconic Medispa runs in conjunction with their Iconic Dentist clinic. So all their medical and hygiene standards and procedures have to comply with strict Australian dentistry standards.

This is not a typical beauty salon, not a home salon, not a small beauty business renting a shop space in the city with 10 year old equipment. This is a professional and successful clinic that has been running for 14 years, using advanced, medical grade equipment and the latest technology from the US/Europe.

As I sat in the chair while they made mirco-punctures in my face, I realised that CIT felt less like a “beauty therapy” and more of a “medical therapy”, thus I came to appreciate their high hygiene, procedural and equipment standards!

The treatment took about 60 minutes.

Collagen Induction Therapy from Iconic Medispa
(This is the Dermastamp Pen, used for collagen induction therapy. I took that photo! Do you like it? It was being used on someone else, not me.)

Was it painful?

Nope. They applied numbing anaesthetic cream. When the Dermastamp Pen was pressed into my skin, it felt like an electric toothbrush, with light bristles, brushing over my skin.

What happened immediately after?

I was told that everyone’s skin reacts differently. Some people look a bit red after the treatment, like they had a touch of sunburn. While others become very red and inflamed for a few days.

For me, I looked awful. I looked like I was stung by bees. My face was inflamed, puffy, angry, red, really blotchy and there were places where my skin was broken and I could see tiny bloody dots. I was a bit shocked.

Maybe I’m being a bit over the top, and maybe on the scale of possible reactions to the treatment, I wasn’t actually that bad. But for me, my skin had never looked THAT bad!

I had to pick up my son from school later, so I swept mineral makeup over my face, even though they told me not to. But there was no way I was going out in public looking like that.

I was pretty upset that night. I was thinking OMFG WHAT THE @#$% DID I DO? HOW DID I GET TALKED INTO THIS?!?!

The next day?

Woke up the next morning. My face wasn’t as inflamed as the first day, but it was still red, blotchy and beginning to get scabby. I wore more mineral make up and I was happy to leave the house.

Day Three.

Less red and less scabby.

Day Four.

No more scabs. Skin looks pretty good. I’m kind of glowing.

Day Five.

OK WOW. This is impressive. My skin looks tight, plump and radiant!

Day Six onwards.

Holy moly, I can actually see a difference!!

Collagen Induction Therapy from Iconic Medispa

Here are my results after 2 HydraFacials and 1 Collagen Induction Therapy.

I have 4 more CITs to go.

These photos were taken by the team at Iconic Medispa, as part of their overall service. The photos are looked over by several clinicians to keep track of my progress and my treatment is tweaked here and there as necessary.

I was very reluctant to take photos in the clinic (and wasn’t planning to share them on my blog!), but now that I’ve seen them and compared them, I’m a bit gobsmacked by how compelling they are.

Collagen Induction Therapy from Iconic Medispa

Conclusion

It’s not a miraculous change.

But it has made a huge difference to my fine lines, pores, texture, firmness, smoothness and the overall look of my skin – just after 1 treatment.

My makeup sits and looks better on my face too.

It’s 8 weeks after the treatment and my skin is still GLOWING. It has a lovely radiance and perkiness to it, which is a bit hard to capture in a photo. I love that it’s a “natural glow” from my own collagen.

My pigmentation is still there, my pores are still on the large size (but that’s my skin type), but as I said – it’s a huge difference.

It’s by far, the most effective treatment I’ve done to my skin.

It was so easy and low risk.

And I’m so happy that I tried this before trying any lasers.

Moving Onwards

I CAN’T WAIT to go in for my next treatment!!

OMG I’m seriously so excited to see the difference.

I was told that sometimes people enhance their CIT treatments with Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) or Concentrated Growth Factor or Stem Cells (CGF), which give faster and better end results… but I’m a bit scared to try it.

And to give you an idea of pricing at Iconic Medispa, HydraFacials are about $175 (face only) and one treatment of CIT is $450.

(I had a little snoop around to compare prices, and these prices are on the slightly lower end of the spectrum when compared to other clinics in Perth. And to throw a bit of gossip in here, apparently these guys have a newer and more advanced CIT machine than other clinics.)

OK that’s all from me. I might post up a few more photos after my future treatments.

Thanks for reading. Sorry it was such a long post haha!

Hope you enjoyed it!

xxx


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Sweet Peas at the British Museum

11 February 2017

British Museum - Snowpeas

I bumped into this beautiful artwork at the British Museum.

The lines, shapes, composition and detail just blew me away, so I’m sharing it here on my blog, more for my own inspiration.

It is a woodblock print called Picture Album of Western Plants (1917) by Tanigami Konan.

The didactic panel says, “Modern Japanese designers and artists took special interest in Western plants, particularly during the 1910s, as the international Art Nouveau style became popular, with its flowing curves based on natural forms. This volume is from a set of richly printed books depicting flowers of the four seasons. The table of contents gives for each flower the English name and its Asian equivalent. The delicate blossoms here are sweet peas. Colour woodblock illustrated book.”

It’s the kind of print that I’d love to have on my wall so I can look at it every day.

And it’s also the kind of sketch I’d love to have done myself… and I know it’s possible for me, I just need a bit of practice! One day!


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Tate Britain Gallery: Highlights

4 February 2017

Tate Britain

During my London trip, I had the pleasure of visiting all the major art galleries in the city.

I was like a kid in a candy shop :)

Of course I didn’t buy any art, but I did take THOUSANDS of photos!

I took photos of the entrances! Of the floors! Of the corridors! The art. The didactic panels. The frames. The doors. The spaces. The negative spaces. Haha I truly enjoyed every little detail.

I didn’t plan to share any of it on my blog, because seriously, even I think I over did it.

However, I do want to share these snaps from the Tate Britain Art Gallery, home of British art from the 1500s to present day.

Tate Britain

Close up of Portrait of Elizabeth I (1563) by Steven van der Meulen and Steven van Herwijck.

This is the earliest known full-length portrait of the queen. Here’s the link to the full portrait. It’s gorgeous!!

Although it looks yellow here, the background was “gold” paint and had a stunning, satin sheen to it… making the whole painting shimmer.

If I paid money to get my portrait done, I’d want something OVER THE TOP like this too haha.

Tate Britain

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose (1885–6) by John Singer Sargent

I don’t know much about John Singer Sargent, except that he was a famous portrait artist based in London/Europe and he used to hang out with Monet and the other Impressionist dudes.

I recognised this painting from a high school art book (over 20 years ago), and yep… it is more amazing, more staggeringly beautiful and more mind-blowingly impressive in real life.

I have no words.

Tate Britain

Study of Mme Gautreau (1884) by John Singer Sargent

This is the sketch (yes a sketch!) of Sargent’s infamous painting Madame X, which caused such a huge controversy in Paris at the time that it damaged Sargent’s reputation as a portrait artist, and as a result, he decided to move to London. The rest of the painting can be seen here.

Whatever the case, it is a stunning study, and I would kill to be able to “sketch” like that!

So inspiring!

Don’t know about you, but I want to crack open my charcoals after all this…


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Museum Highlight: Iznik Ceramics

22 January 2017

Iznik Designs from London Museums

One of the highlights of my visit to London were all the Turkish Ceramics and Middle Eastern designs at The Victoria and Albert Museum and The British Museum.

I’ve seen and studied Iznik Ceramics in books before…

But this is the first time I’ve seen ACTUAL Iznik artefacts from the 1550s, up close, with my own eyes, staring at their intricate patterns, their tessellating tile goodness, each teeny-tiny brush stroke, and marvelling at the way the colour puddles at the end of each painted line.

Yeah I got a bit excited.

And yeah I’m a bit embarrassed that I’m just in a London museum and not actually in a mosque in Istanbul, looking at these Iznik patterns, in their natural surroundings.

(There’s a travel goal in that one!)

Iznik Designs from London Museums

london-Iznik Designs from London Museumsiznik03

Iznik Designs from London Museums

So I really couldn’t contain myself. My heart was singing and doing cart-wheels all over the place!

I took hundreds of photos and just HAD to share some of my favourites!

Enjoy!

xxx


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Snapchatting Art History from the National Gallery

18 January 2017

I went to visit the National Gallery of London, which features Western European art from the 1300 – 1900s. It was a lovely gallery, with lovely rooms and lots of space.

It was my first time there and I pretty much snapchatted a whole art history lesson for my kids to watch haha.

I uploaded something like 20 photos, saying things like… “This painting is by a SUPER DUPER FAMOUS painted called Vincent Van Gogh… it’s worth about $40 million, so be impressed!”

I felt irreverent and so low-brow, but hey, I had to entertain my 7 year old.
National Gallery London Visit 2016

On the other hand, for me…

I had a WONDERFUL time slooooowly browsing through the gallery and taking hundreds of photos. I’m not sure why I took so many photos, though.

Possibly just to capture a little bit of the magic, so I could keep it forever, on my hard drive, and on my blog.

National Gallery London Visit 2016

Delicious details by Dutch still life painter Jan Janz Treck, Vanitas Still Life (1648).

To my boys I said: “It’s about death and the futility of all human ambition. Depression much?”

National Gallery London Visit 2016

Self portrait aged 63, by Rembrandt (1669)

To my boys I said: “Very famous Dutch painter.”

National Gallery London Visit 2016

Snow Scene at Argenteil, by Claude Monet (1875).

“Super famous French painter –  Claude Monet. He’s like REALLY FAMOUS yo.”

National Gallery London Visit 2016

The Water Lily Pond, by Claude Monet (1899).

“One of Monet’s famous series of paintings of a lily pond. FAMOUS.”

National Gallery London Visit 2016

Bathers at Asnieres, by Georges Seurat (1884).

“This guy was a French post-impressionist. He liked to paint with dots.”

National Gallery London Visit 2016

Bowl of Fruit and Tankard before a Window by Paul Gauguin (1890)

“By a dude named Gauguin. Not so famous. But still significant.”

“You better not be bored yet. Keep scrolling!” I said.

National Gallery London Visit 2016

Sunflowers, by Vincent van Gogh (1888)

“This painting is by a SUPER DUPER FAMOUS painted called Vincent Van Gogh…”

“It’s his most famous painting.”

“It’s worth about $40 million, so be impressed!”

National Gallery London Visit 2016

A Wheatfield, with Cypress by Vincent van Gogh (1889)

“This is my favourite van Gogh. His brush strokes are amazing! He’s a genius!”

And I sent them 5 close up photos too. At different angles.

Seriously, I was in heaven. I could have stayed there all day.

I kept having flashes of scenes and chapters from “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt and the whole idea of how seeing a painting feels like visiting an old friend; snatching a glance of a painting again and again, just to feel the buzz it brings to you; and being haunted by a painting for life.

Yes I’m having a fabulous time in London!


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London: Doing The Tourist Thing

14 January 2017

London - Big Ben 2016

Hello hello, I’m currently in London and having a grand old time!

I’ve travelled here with my mum and we’re staying with my little sister and her husband, basically waiting for their baby to arrive.

I’m here for 4 weeks and we’re here to help with the new baby. Eeeeek I can’t wait to cuddle a newborn!

Yep so I’m here without my husband and kids. All I can say is, life is really different without kids.

It’s neither better and worse… just different.

London - St Pauls 2016

What have we been up to?

Since we’re waiting for the baby to arrive (any time now!), we’re doing lots of sight-seeing. We’re walking 5 – 6kms a day, stopping for coffee, eating pastries, going into cool bookstores, visiting art galleries, strolling through museums, looking at old buildings, window shopping, eating at lovely restaurants…

We’ve been to the Borough Markets, walked along the Thames River, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral. Then we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum, the London Eye, Westminster Bridge, Westminster Abbey, St James Park, Soho, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, National Gallery, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, The British Museum and more.

We’ve been all over London, seeing all the big sights!

I’ve seen it all before, but I still enjoyed seeing it a second time around and admiring all the beautiful details. I couldn’t stop gawking at Big Ben. It is truly a beautiful building!

In fact I was in awe of ALL the old buildings, streets and architecture. I felt like a kid, with childlike wonder, walking around with my mouth hanging open, gaping with delight!

Part of me thought: Omg really Karen? Have some cool will you? Don’t be so lame. This is all cheesey, touristy stuff. There’s so much more in the world than this. So much more architectural wonder and natural beauty… and you’re excited about Big Ben??

Bah, my inner voice can be such a bitch!

I didn’t care. I deleted her from my inner playlist.

I may be lame, but I’ll never lose my wonder for the world around me. If I can find delight and appreciation from simple details, I’ll always be happy, where ever I am.

Bring on the cheesiness!

London - Eye 2016


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Tunnels of Trees

10 January 2017

Forest Road Denmark

It’s the middle of the afternoon, I’m cruising down a small country road, surrounded by a tunnels of trees, I’m sitting in a car with my favourite people, my husband and three boys, playing silly car games (Family Feud), holding a packet of chips in one hand, a phone in the other, sun is spilling onto my lap, we’re looking for Geocaches, using a new-fangled mobile app, my husband is driving, I’m navigating, my kids are laughing and singing and my heart glows —

All the heartaches from the past, all the stress and sadness, melts away, and what is left is this glorious picture of the now —

The now. It sparkles with a vibrant clarity! It brightens and shines all around me, begging for me to revel in it!

Four beautiful faces. Four voices. Four crazy smiles. If only I could freeze this moment, capture this everything, just like this, and keep it forever.

And my crazy smile makes five.


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Snorkelling at Greens Pool, Walpole

7 January 2017

Greens Pool, Williams Bay, Walpole

During our holiday, we had such beautiful summer weather that we spent most days at the beach!

One of our favourite spots in the Walpole and Denmark area is Greens Pool, in the Williams Bay National Park. Heck, the place is so beautiful, I think it is everyone’s favourite spot.

We’ve been there a few times to hang out and swim, but this time we wanted to do something different. We wanted to go snorkelling with the kids.

We’ve taken them a few times in the past. But they’ve never really liked it. They always get cold really quickly (within 10 minutes!) and then they spend the rest of the day shivering under a towel on the beach.

So this time we bought them some wetsuits hoping they’d have a better time in the water (these are actually called Spring Suits which I bought for $50 each).

Snorkelling at Green Pool, Walpole

Unfortunately the ocean was SO COLD they only lasted about 30 minutes in the water.

(It was the Southern Ocean after all, between Australia and Antartica!)

Plus there wasn’t that much to see underwater. A few fish and lots of sand and seaweed.

As for me, I waded into the water and – yep – even I was surprised by how cold the water was.

I was really, really, REALLY reluctant to put on my wetsuit and go for a snorkel too.

I had so many reasons not to do it: the water was bloody freezing, the kids were already out of the water and wrapped up in their towels, there was no coral to see, I’ve seen seaweed before, I was feeling hungry, it was almost lunch time and I’d have to help make some sandwiches, I didn’t have my fins, mask or snorkel, I’d have to borrow the kid’s set, the beach and sand was so lovely and warm, PLUS I haven’t worn my wetsuit in about 8 years… maybe it didn’t fit me anymore, as neoprene tends to shrink and harden when not used often.

Snorkelling at Green Pool, Walpole

But in the end, I thought OMG KAREN, WILL YOU JUST LIVE A LITTLE?!

So I grabbed my wetsuit and I literally had to squeeze myself into it.

It was soooooooo tight. When I grabbed a bunch of fabric at my leg and pulled, I broke two fingernails, because that’s how hard I had to grip and pull! I got a bit sweaty and flustered trying to put it on, it felt like it was suffocating me and I was getting a bit claustrophobic and dizzy. My collar was so tight on my neck that it felt like there were fingers squeezing at my throat.

I don’t mean to be so dramatic, but it was pretty uncomfortable and I was about to give up.

Greens Pool, Williams Bay, Walpole

But the water was calling me, so I grabbed a mask and jumped in without much thought.

Icy water rushed into my suit and I squealed EEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPP!

But oh my gosh! I INSTANTLY LOVED IT!

My suit made me very buoyant, it kept me super warm, it seemed to stretch in the water and I didn’t feel suffocated at all, I felt like I was wrapped up with a soft, fleecy tracksuit (in terms of warmth and comfort) and I ended up swimming in the ocean for about 2 hours that day – which is just unheard of for me.

I bobbed up and down in the water and I wanted to burst from happiness. I floated on my back and looked up to the sky, and every thing around me was blue blue blue, aqua blue, ocean blue, dark blue, green blue, sky blue, light blue, blue blue blue. It was just such a thrilling experience for me.

My main thought was, I have to do more stuff like this.

My husband jumped in too.

We started snorkelling around some big rocks, which had a strong current and we drifted through beautiful little pools. We were like silly kids, gleefully playing, laughing and duck diving to pick things up from the bottom.

Our kids were up on the rocks, watching us and waving to us.

Later on, my boys told me that they wished they weren’t so cold and wished they had jumped in and joined us too. I promised to buy them thicker wetsuits next time.

Snorkelling at Green Pool, Walpole

So this is was taken the next day. We went to another beach and I went through the whole drama of putting on my wetsuit and breaking my nails.

Again I spent about 2-3 hours in the water.

And again, I loved every minute of it!

Sean Snorkelling

By our second snorkelling experience (this time in warmer and shallower waters) my boys decided that they loved snorkelling and are keen to do more!

Yay, I guess the spring suits worked after all :)


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Mirrored Forests

6 January 2017

Monastery Jetty, Walpole

As I leaned out towards the front of the boat to snap this photo, I actually remembered taking a very similar photos 4 years ago.

We were here, on the Frankland River in 2013, with all three of my boys, with my same friends, with their same kids, in their same boat.

I remembered gliding through the mirrored water, absolutely in awe of the view.

I remembered the reflection of the trees stretching both high into the sky above us, and down below into the inky darkness of the water. I remembered the olive green trees and the bright blue sky.

I asked my kids whether they remembered doing any of this four years ago; my oldest boy said he remembered a little bit, my second and youngest boys said they couldn’t remember anything.

Hmph, it made me a little annoyed, because what’s the point of doing all this cool stuff with the kids when they can’t remember any of it?!

So I started to point out all the meticulous details, in hope that it will be etched into their brains forever. LOOK at the texture of the still water compared to the rippled water! LOOK at the gradient of the blue sky! LOOK at the fallen branches half in the water! LOOK at the different greens in the leaves!

And even though I was soaking in everything for the second time, I still had my breath taken away by it all.


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New Camera: Love Them Apples!

5 January 2017

Apple Tree

Apart from being a symbol of our picturesque week on a farm and a super pretty photo of my friend’s apple tree… I actually was just testing out my brand new camera!

I bought a Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 IV because I needed a new pocket camera.

I did soooo much research about which camera to buy for my needs. It took me MONTHS to decide.

I didn’t want to replace my DSLR, so I didn’t want to buy a mirrorless camera. I wanted a compact camera with a good lens, good sensor, good video, allowed me to take photos in low light, and give me complete manual controls.

I know there are lots of cameras that fit that description, however, in the end, I made my decision based on the online reviews, friend’s recommendations and talking to a guy in a camera shop.

Anyway, about the apple photo. I had the camera set at f1.8 and 1/400, I pointed it straight up into the sun, and the camera still gave me so much detail in the shadow and there was such a beautiful low depth of field blur too!

Argh I love it! And love the slow life on the farm too!


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Homemade Go-Karts

4 January 2017

Go-Karts by Mal

Recycled junk go-karts made by my friend + Grassy slope that goes down to the farm house = Kids entertained for hours.

One of those frames (the one in the foreground) used to be the $600 pram we bought for my second child – ha!

Go-Karts by Mal

I don’t know how the kids managed to ride this down the hill again and again… and call it fun??

It was terrifying! I hated it! I screamed “Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhh” all the way down.

I guess you have to be a kid to truly enjoy it.

And I guess you have to NOT have a part in your brain that warns you about possibly breaking your arm.


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New Year LOLs

2 January 2017

New Year 2017 LOL

Before my big trip to the UK, we were invited to stay with some friends at their farm down in Denmark (Western Australia). We gladly accepted, knowing that it would be great for us to spend some quality family time together, before I flew off.

However, we planned to stay for 7 days, then after 3 days upon returning home, I was going to fly overseas for 4 weeks!

This made me incredibly tense because I felt I hadn’t finished ALL THE THINGS I NEEDED TO DO!

7 DAYS! I could do so much in 7 days!

I needed to pack up the Christmas tree and decorations, get my son’s new school uniforms tailored, set up a new phone plan for my other son, organise stationery for the kids, do a new year clean out… back up my data, email clients, finish up projects, update my blog, and zillions of other things that swirled around in my head.

And every time I thought about the THINGS I NEEDED TO DO, my palms sweated, my heart raced, my stomach felt ill and I start to feel faint and paralysed. Anxiety attack maybe?

It took some serious relaxation and cognitive techniques to realise that HELLO, I am on holiday!

This is the LAST TIME my kids will ever be 13, 11 and 7 years old, staying on a farm, with our generous friends, doing cool things like riding on tractors, go-karts, snorkelling, boating, paddling down a river. This is the last and only time I will be in this exact moment.

Life is now! Jump in or you’ll miss out on creating memories!

I’m so happy I did finally relax. We had such an awesome week.

My heart grew so, so, SO big for each of my boys, my husband, our friends, the wonders of nature and the simple life we’ve carved for ourselves.

I took so many beautiful photos and I’ll be sharing them over the next few weeks, starting with this photo of my son, sharing his New Year message for 2017: LOLs

Tee hee, enjoy!


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I’m Off To London!

30 December 2016

Flatlay for London

Guess what guess what? I have huge news!

OK ok it’s probably not huge news to you folk with no kids. Or to you jet setting people who fly around the world regularly.

I’m off to London in the new year and I’ll be gone for 4 weeks – WITHOUT my husband and kids!

Can you believe that? I can’t. I’m kind of pinching myself.

I’m both excited and stunned by the mind-blowing freedom I’ll have. And I’m a bit terrified, because I haven’t been away from my home, my husband or my kids for that length of time… since I was single and childless, 15 years ago haha!

My very amazing husband is taking time off work and going to be looking after the kids for the duration of the summer school holidays.

I’m going to be staying and hanging out with my sister, my brother-in-law, and their soon-to-be-born new baby! Yaaaay!

I’ll be helping them move apartments.

I’ll be changing pooey nappies (if I can remember how to do that).

I’ll be doing a bit of work.

I’ll be hunting down the coolest independent bookstores.

I’ll be exploring flea markets and cafes.

I’ll be doing yoga.

I’ll be zipping over to Paris.

Eeeep I’m so excited!

 

Pictured above in my Winter in London inspired flatlay, I have my Acne Studios scarf, Acne Studios Jensen Booties, Jeanwest Jeans, Grana Poplin Boyfriend Shirts, A.P.C. Half Moon Bag, Stan Smith Sneakers (on sale at ASOS), Charlotte Olympia Card Holder.

And judging from the fact that I have failed to lay out any coats or knits, tells us all how delusional I am about what 2°C feels like!

Lots more updates on the way!

xxx


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Christmas Festivites for 2016

27 December 2016

Christmas 2016

This year, I stepped up my Christmas game :)

We hosted both Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day dinner for both sets of families (and a few extra friends), each night we had about 17-20 guests.

I made my prettiest ham ever in my short history of ham making! I got the inspiration from a few different sources of online ham inspo though, so I can’t really take credit for it.

I think the secret was : fresh herbs and brown twine. I used fresh thyme and sage from my garden.

Christmas 2016

I also made my own stuffing which was just amazing!

I found a few recipes online and didn’t like the sound of any of them, so I just made up my own recipe. I shall share it here, so I have it for reference next year.

My Nutty, Cherry Christmas Stuffing 

1 large finely diced onion, 1 garlic clove, 1 tablespoon of butter, 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts, 1/2 cup of chopped cashew, 1/2 cup of chopped almonds, 6 chopped glacé cherries, a handful of parsley leaves, few springs of sage and thyme leaves, salt, and pepper.

The trick is to slow cook the onions, garlic and butter for a really long time on medium/low heat until it’s dark brown and caramelised. Throw in nuts and everything else and slow fry, until it all clumps together and looks golden brown.

It was SO YUMMY. I could have just even that for dinner and saved myself all the extra Christmas calories haha!

Christmas 2016

Again with the fresh herbs and brown twine.

Christmas 2016

I made tonnes of roast potatoes (peeled, scrubbed, squashed and roasted to a glorious crisp), roast pumpkin and beetroots, I made salads and dips. My parents made the turkey, roast lamb and roast pork too! Basically I was in my element and I had a fantastic, stress-free Christmas!

However, I was only able to do it because of my husband and my three kids – they were the real superstars of the weekend. They spent two days cleaning the house… everything from toilets, bathrooms, to cleaning cobwebs, sweeping the carport, mowing the lawns, cleaning windows, cleaning the walls, door frames, skirting boards, omg so much cleaning – and they even set up our above-ground pool and our bouncy castle.

Soooo, whether they had a stress-free Christmas is… a matter of perspective :)

Christmas 2016

Christmas morning: was fun as usual.

This time everyone got a silly Christmas hat to wear.

It’s always so lovely to see the kids, all sparkly eyed and happily dancing around with their presents.

Christmas 2016

As for Christmas Day, I made more food.

My 11 year old son and I put together this Christmas grazing platter!

We researched a lot of platter inspo on Instagram and came up with our own “design”.

I bought waaaay too much food for my board… and we were tempted to turn the whole dining table into a grazing table. I decided against it, because I made potato salad… and I didn’t imagine it would look good served up on a wooden board ha!

Christmas 2016

My extended family brought more food and desserts (not pictured). And yes that’s my ham and uneaten chicken from the night before haha.

Yep I really, really like cooking and hosting big dinners!

I love big gatherings of family and friends, good food, good conversations and I’m so thankful and humbled that I get to have all these amazing people in my life.

xxx


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Santa’s Magical Kingdom at the Crown Pyramid

17 December 2016

Santas Magical Kingdom 2016
Photo courtesy of Santa’s Magical Kingdom

My kids and I were kindly invited to the opening launch of Santa’s Magical Kingdom at the Crown Pyramid (a new, huge tent venue outside the Crown)!

I was super excited about it, because I’ve never been to a Christmas themed fun park before!

But my boys (who are 13, 11 and 7) were a little more skeptical, as they felt they were “too old” for it.

It turns out they had a really fun time, enjoying the entertainment and rides. We walked around for the whole 3 hour session trying out everything, laughing, taking silly photos and videos, and just having heaps of fun together.

Tickets allowed access to snow land, ice skating (not on real ice though), rollercoaster rides, carousel, carnival style rides, Mrs Claus’ Storyland, Christmas craft, gingerbread decorating, a circus / acrobat show, meeting Christmas characters and a free gift from Santa.

There were also food trucks and food stalls where you could buy gourmet hotdogs, nice fish and chips, and other quick takeaway meals which were pretty good!

Santas Magical Kingdom 2016

The Snowland walk-through was sooooo cute.

Of course it wasn’t real snow, it was bits of bubbly foam, flying and swirling in the air. It amused my boys for a little bit and they moved onto the next thing. But I watched lots of other younger kids twirl around, eyes lit up, huge smiles on their faces, dancing around the snow, like it was truly magical.

So beautiful to watch!

Santas Magical Kingdom 2016

My boys enjoyed the Christmas Skating and the Australian Sky Flyer the most.

I decided not to go on the Flyer (shown below), because I’m very sensitive to motion sickness!

I didn’t want to be throwing up on all the people below!

Santas Magical Kingdom 2016

At other carnivals and royal shows, we usually have to pay an entrance fee and then pay $8 – $10 per person per ride or carnival game. So with THREE kids, I always feel this adds a huge amount of stress, having to deal with kids who are begging and bargaining to go on ONE MORE ride, ONE MORE game! So at the end of it, I always feel so angry, tense, ripped off and like the Big, Bad, Mum who always has to say NO, NO, NO, STOP NAGGING ME, I ALREADY SAID NO!

So I think the best thing about Santa’s Magical Kingdom was that you paid ONCE and you are able to enjoy almost ALL the activities, under one roof.

My kids just ran off, they chose what they wanted to do, they lined up them and got on the ride themselves. It was SUCH a lovely, relaxing and yes – magical- experience for me too!


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Baked Dough Ornaments for Christmas

11 December 2016

Christmas 2016

Christmas is in full swing at our house!

The other day, I went shopping for some new, pretty ornaments for our Christmas tree. I fell in love with some rustic and natural looking white clay ornaments, in very simple shapes like stars, circles, angels… but they were $10 a pop!?

I scoffed at them and decided to make some myself.

I probably could have bought some proper white artist’s clay, but you can’t go wrong with $1.50 for 2kg of plain white flour from the supermarket.

Christmas 2016

The baked dough came out looking a bit yellow, so we gave them a few coats of bright white acrylic paint.

I just found the recipe online. It wasn’t a great one, because the dough puffed up with large lumpy pockets of air, which hardened when cooled. So if you gave the ornaments a knock, the hardened bubbles cracked and sprinkled salty biscuit crumbs everywhere.

I’ll probably have to throw them out after Christmas, as I have a feeling they will absorb moisture and get mouldy?!

Here’s the recipe anyway!

Christmas Baked Dough Ornaments

1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup table salt
3/4 cup water

Set oven to 150°C. Mix everything into a bowl. Knead into a smooth ball. Flatten to 6mm thick. Cut out using cookie cutters. Don’t forget the hole for the string! Bake for 30 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Paint. Decorate. Done.


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Jacaranda Purple

29 November 2016

Jacaranda 2016

I keep saying this every year.

As we approach Christmas… we don’t have snow. We don’t have streets filled with Christmas lights.

We have Jacaranda flowers.

As I drive through the city, through the suburbs, every where I look, there are trees covered in the prettiest purple, propped up against the bright blue sky.

It fills me up with the happiest and most childlike joy you can imagine!


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Being That Chick Who Changes Tires

23 November 2016

My husband is currently out of town… and if you’ve been reading my blog for a while now… you might remember how MY HOUSE FALLS APART every time he leaves and I end up having to FIX STUFF.

Like that time I had to replace a tap, or pave some bricks.

I might sound like I’m having a humble brag… Yeah ok I am. But I’m also extremely pissed off about it. And I’m also having a big laugh at myself, because while I’m being that chick who does handyman stuff, I’m cursing and swearing and wishing I was somewhere else having a manicure.

Bike Fixing

My son’s bike is an old, rusty, BMX stunt bike (or whatever you call it)… the tire wore out and the inner tube was busting out.

So I wrestled with rusty bolts, old head bolt wrenches, a disgustingly oily chain, and a worn thread and managed to get the wheel off.

Or course I measured the tire, drove to the shops, and bought the WRONG size (my foot is pointing to the 16 inch tire, leaning against the 20 inch wheel!). Back to the shop.

Then it turned out that the inner tube was in really bad shape, so I had to replace that too. Back to the shop again.

OMG it took me freaking hours. So annoying! I could have been doing something else!

THEN it turned out that the bolt was so worn out, it wouldn’t go back on, so I had to get a NEW bolt — at which point I threw my hands in the air and gave up.

I’d rather buy the kid another bike.

So… my son’s bike is still lying in pieces, waiting for my husband to get back. I feel a pang of defeat every time I catch a glance of its lifeless, broken skeletal frame… because I’m sure bolts are $3.50 from a hardware shop?

I know I probably should have made my son help me, so he could be a part of the experience. The kid builds robots out of Lego – surely he can help with a bike?!

But I was so grumpy, it probably wasn’t a good experience to share.

Whatever. I’m off to do my nails!


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My Mid 30’s Skin Journey

15 November 2016

Skin Journey Nov 2016

Hi everyone!

This post isn’t sponsored. I’ve been working on this journey (and blog post) for 12 months now.

In that time, I researched and visited 3 medical practitioners. I paid for all my own consultations and products. I declined many offers for free trials and sponsored reviews because I didn’t want anyone to influence me with their own agendas. I was seeking genuine advice and information, from someone I trusted, and preferably from someone who didn’t know I was a blogger!

12 Months Ago

My skin was turning a corner. The signs of ageing were increasing and my skin was starting to look a bit… tired, dull, old.

I don’t actually have a problem with ageing. I’m quite happy to grow old gracefully!

But I decided that I wanted to DO something about my skin, I wanted to KNOW what could be done and I wanted to talk to an expert.

Skin Journey, Nov 2016

My Issues

I have lots of sun spots and pigmentation.

I have teenaged acne scars on my cheeks that make my skin look cratered – which has been looking worse as I get older.

I have a few tiny raised lumps/growths on my skin too: seborrheic keratosis and senile angiomas – which I have already checked out. Not cancerous.

I know my skin is prone to hyperpigmentation… so after I get a pimple, there is a dark spot or scar for up to 6 months. Thus I have lots of dark spots, especially around my nose, mouth and chin.

I’m losing general elasticity and firmness in my skin.

My Unknown 

Everyone seems to be talking about treatments like laser, IPL, fractional laser, CO2 lasers, and more. But would they work with my olive Asian skin and my hyperpigmentation? I had no idea where to start.

I’ve heard about other people’s amazing laser experiences and I’ve seen people who have had great results. But I’ve also heard about bad results. I’ve read that some people are hooked on it, some people regret starting laser so young and wished they started on something a little less harsh. Some started with skin that was OK, but after a bad treatment, their skin didn’t react well and they looked older and worse because of it.

(Oh man, I did waaaay too much reading on the internet and it scared the crap out of me! It must be true right? Haha!)

Dud Experiences

I went to visit a few doctors, found from my own research and I wasn’t particularly happy with them.

It was just little things, for example I felt like I was being spoken down to, or I felt like an idiot for being apprehensive and asking so many questions. I just didn’t have a good gut feeling with them.

For one doctor, I asked a question about a particular laser. I was hoping for an explanation of how the laser actually works to make skin look better – I know it makes holes in the skin, but how does that actually produce the desired effect in the dermis?? Instead I was told that Kim Kardashian and lots of other Hollywood celebrities use it every 6 months because it’s amazing. Oops! Not a great way to sell laser to me, sorry!

My Determatologist

Basically I wanted to talk to a real skin doctor; someone sensible, someone who focused more on skin health and skin conditions, rather than on beauty and cosmetics.

10 years ago, one of my boys had very bad eczema as a toddler and we went to a paediatric dermatologist, who was just amazing! She helped us fix my son’s eczema and now he has ZERO signs of eczema. She gave us great advice for our whole family over the years, but she doesn’t treat adults. I asked her for a recommendation for a dermatologist whom I could see, and she gave me the name of her colleague.

So I went to see this colleague and I really liked her a lot too. She’s around my age, possibly a bit older. She was honest, sensible, conservative and she knew ALL the answers to ALL my questions. She gave me a quick lesson about skin cells, in a science teacher kind of way (not from a beautician’s perspective). She did a thorough check of my skin, heard me whinge about my first world problems… and she recommended a few things to me.

My Treatment

My dermatologist said that fractional laser is the best treatment for acne scarring, because it gives the best results. But the problem is that I have to find the laser that best suits my skin type. She didn’t have the right laser for me and she declined to treat me.

She recommended that I see a particular laser clinic in Perth, but I won’t share, because I haven’t been there yet!

I asked her: Once the skin is lasered and the scarring is gone/ fixed/ skin healed … will that result last forever, or will it slowly revert back to it’s scarred state after 3-5 years? Her answer: Fixed forever. However skin will still age and will lose elasticity over time.

Vitamin A

She prescribed some Vitamin A cream to me, (which I have been using for 12 months now), and it has been FANTASTIC.

Vitamin A (or Retinol, Retin A, Tretinion) stimulates the skin cells, makes them turn over much more rapidly, therefore increases the shedding of dead skin cells. It reduces the look of fine lines, smoothes and refines the skin, improves skin tone, improves hydration, decreases sebum production, promotes healing and healthy cell growth and lots of other cell things. Sounds a bit too good to be true.

There are quite a few side-effects (dry skin, redness, flaking) and some people react very badly to it. I read that you can slowly increase your tolerance to it by starting with a low dosage.

But my skin loves it and my skin looks SO much better for it! I loooove the stuff!

Starting Laser? 

For the last year, I’ve had the phone number of that laser clinic in my hand. But I’m too chicken to start!

Whenever I think OK I’m going to make the phone call to start my treatment, a large part of my brain thinks:

“Oh man, I don’t hate my skin that much. I don’t look that bad! I’m actually quite happy with how I look. I’m going to leave it for a bit. I don’t need it yet. A bit of makeup and I’ll be right!”

It’s a mixture of not-wanting-it-bad-enough, being not-too-fussed about my skin, being happy with the way things are, being a bit lazy, being a bit fearful…

Haha so, I haven’t started any laser and that’s how it’s been for the last year.

Starting Facials

Ok so what I HAVE been doing: I’ve been getting good and effective facials, peels, skin rejuvenation, non-invasive treatments instead.

I’ve tried a few of these active facials. Some are very mediocre! Some a good and some are AMAZING!

Just like my hair, just like my teeth check ups, just like my exercise… if I do them on a regular basis – my skin looks great and feels great. It’s all about maintenance – small, slow steps upwards!

I’m sure – eventually- I’ll give laser a go, but that might still be a few years away.

I hope to write a bit more about my facials and treatments soon!

Thanks for reading!


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November Check In

1 November 2016

Hi everyone!

What have you been up to these days? I’ve fallen into a really nice routine of balancing work and play… and I’m feeling rather content and satisfied about it. Possibly, a bit guilty? Nah, not really.

1) My Eating has been pretty good except for one weird thing. I’m not on any clean eating or paleo diets. I just try to eat healthy, smallish portions… I have a piece of toast or granola + yoghurt in the morning, then I snack on a bowl of nuts and some fruit. But come lunchtime I’m seriously craving for a piece of chicken. Crunchy, crispy chicken. With skin. With soy sauce and sesame oil. With mayo and chilli. So yeah, usually I have crumbed chicken and salad for lunch.

I find it weird that I don’t crave sugar anymore. I’m not into cake, chocolate or sweet things these days. It’s all about the salt for me!

2) Too much coffee. I was recently given a bag of ground coffee as a gift. So I bought myself a mini coffee plunger and OOPS, now I drink about 3-4 cups a day! With almond milk, so it’s healthier right? Maybe not.

Ok would you believe that when I was 20 something and working the city, I used to drink 4 cups of coffee a day. Then while I was pregnant and having kids, I didn’t drink ANY caffeine at all. Only in 2012 (when I started cycling tsk tsk) I started to drink coffee again and NOW look where I am.

So I’m thinking I should back off the caffeine, but holy crap my brain hurts when I only have 2 cups.

3) Sleeping too late. Usually my target is 11pm to have lights out and my head on the pillow. But it always end up to be more like 12 – 1am. And yep, every morning I get up at 6am and totally regret it.

4) Being a Mean Mum. I used to “help” my older boys and guide them through their homework and assignments with suggestions, minor assistance, proof-reading and just a general check-up on their progress and their time management. BUT after lots of tears and fights, I’ve totally backed off and they get ABSOLUTE ZERO help now. I feel really mean, but I think it’s better for them this way… and me!

5) Injured. Ok I think this is a sign of getting old… but I pulled a muscle in my back on the weekend (just by getting out of bed) and it HURT LIKE HELL! I was in tears, and my whole back hurt with every tiny movement of my body, even breathing sent pain shooting in all directions. I couldn’t drive for 2 days and I was SOOO ANNOYED. Thankfully it went away after 3 days.

6) Feeling Super Motivated to exercise now! After my back pain subsided, I felt so NORMAL, ALIVE and SO THANKFUL that I have pain-free movement. What a blessing it is! Now I feel like doing EVERYTHING. It’s like I’m back from the dead. Run! Cycle! Lift weights! Do a cardio class! Do it all while I can! Go go go!

7) Candles. I’m sooo into candles and beautiful smells at the moment. I’m obsessed. I have to have a candle burning as I sit on my computer all day. I’ve gone beyond light, floral scents and starting to turn towards more complex, warming, incense smells.

8) My Garden is going crazy! It’s full of flowers and my heart is bursting with happiness. I’m going to put an order for a truck load of poo and mulch soon – and I’m SO EXCITED PEOPLE. Poo makes me excited!

9) Vitamins. Ugh I hate taking vitamins. My husband and my mother swear by them and believe in them with all their hearts. But I don’t like to take them because I can get a bit queasy when I take them sometimes. So now I have a bit of a psychological problem; whenever I LOOK at a vitamin, I instantly feel queasy and refuse to take it (I try to avoid, or forget, or hide them, just like a child haha!). Most times I have to force myself – because my mother and husband nag me about it. And it’s not worth the argument. Honestly, I don’t think they have any positive effect on me whatsoever (the vitamins, that is). I have a healthy diet and eat a wide variety of foods after all??

However recently, I decided that since I don’t drink cow’s milk, I will try to take calcium supplements regularly (every day). I’ve been taking them for 2 weeks without fail and my nails and cuticles have been amazing! My nails don’t flake, they are not brittle and thin, they are strong and healthy looking. And my cuticles look so plump and not-dried up. I am absolutely attributing this to the calcium supplements!

10) Work has been great. It’s pouring in from all directions, and I’m really good at saying NO, so I don’t get myself over-worked and over-stressed.

11) Family life. The husband has been busy, but still comes home everyday at 5:30pm for a walk in the park with the kids.

We’ve banned all forms of computer games in our house for the time being, kids are getting bored but they get by. My husband and I are LOVING it.

12) Still Reading. I’m still halfway through The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. I read a little bit every night. I’m going so slow with this book, it’s quite embarrassing really.

Wow that was a long list! Gotta go! Have a great week!

xxx


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Hey, I was doing just fine before I met you…

31 October 2016

Trampoline, Closer

This is what happens when you put your kids on a complete ban of computer games.

They get angry. They get bored. They get creative.

Then they go outside and write out song lyrics on the trampoline just for fun — HA!

(Closer by The Chainsmokers)

*We haven’t really set a date of the end of the ban. We’re just going to see how it goes… even I’m a bit undecided about the whole thing.


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Flying Kites in the Sunset

30 October 2016

Dryandra Kite Flying

Look at that sunset!

When we were staying at the Dryandra Woodland, my husband decided to embark on yet another project to engage the kids – making kites and flying kites.

I thought it was a bit daggy, but all the kids (even a whole bunch of our friend’s young kids) locked in their attention and focus on the project.

Can you believe he made a kite out of garbage bags and sticks (from a hardware store) — and the kite flew SO HIGH that even my jaw dropped! That guys amazes me sometimes.

I snapped this picture with my iPhone (!!) and manage to capture a beautiful father – son moment.

The only hilarious thing was that the boy wasn’t our boy! He was a friend’s son. Who liked kites more than our boys.


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Sunset at Dryandra Woodland

26 October 2016

Dryandra Woodland

On the weekend, we headed out to stay at the Dryandra Woodland with five other families.

The area is a 2 hour drive South East of Perth City, kind of near Dwellingup.

I haven’t heard much about the place, but apparently it’s a well known nature reserve and it’s great if you like to look at (or photograph) wild kangaroos, numbats, echidnas, native birds and more.

We stayed in a cluster of forest cottages – which were basic and comfortable, and had the essential toilets, hot showers, clean beds, wood fire, couches, BBQ and picnic tables etc etc.

We just had to pack clothes, bedding, towels and food – so it was really easy!

Dryandra Woodland

The sunset was just gorgeous!!!

Can you believe I just took these photos with my iPhone?!?

There had been some bushfires the previous day, which filled the sky with a lot of smoke, which in turn filtered the sunlight and gave the whole landscape a golden glow. Just beeeaaaauuutiful!

Dryandra Woodland

Look at me, looking super Aussie with my hat and all.

I just needed a long piece of grass in my mouth. And some corks hanging from my hat.

Dryandra Woodland

As the sun set behind the tops of the trees, the landscape turned a beautiful pink.

We were told that the field next to the cottages is usually full of kangaroos, but because we were flying kites in the field, they stayed away.

We arrived on Friday evening – in the dark. We spent the whole Saturday going for a bush walk, playing tennis  (there were tennis courts!), having a picnic lunch, letting the kids play on the playground, having cups of tea, building kites, flying kites, having a BBQ and going possum spotting.

Then we left on Sunday morning. Went for another bush walk, had lunch at a cafe along the freeway, then headed home!

It was all very relaxed, lovely and good for the soul.

It was a great way to catch up with friends, disconnect from the world and get away from the city for a little bit!


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Bush Walking at Dryandra Woodland

24 October 2016

Dryandra Trees

Here’s a little peek at what I did on the weekend.

We went for a bush walk at Dryandra (2 hour drive South of Perth) – with eight kids aged between 2.5 and 14!

The scenery itself wasn’t spectacular, but the Dryandra Woodland is a nature reserve and is well know for being the home to 24 mammal, 98 bird and 41 reptile species, including numbats, wallabies, possums, kangaroos, echidnas, all kinds of birds, snakes, lizards and spiders.

Unfortunately we were all such NOISY bushwalkers, we didn’t see a thing.

(However later that evening, we did manage to see kangaroos, possums, and a blue tongue lizard.)

I have lots of lovely photos to share and will upload later in the week :)


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Reading: The Name of the Rose

3 October 2016

Umberto Eco - The Name of the Rose

This year I’ve upped my reading game and I’ve blitzed through 2 books each month.

Here’s my reading list from Jan – July

Since writing that list, I read Me Before You By Jojo Moyes, on the plane going to and from Scotland/Australia.

Then I picked up this book: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco.

It’s an historical murder mystery set in the 1300s about a bunch of Franciscan monks. Originally written in Italian in 1980 and translated into English, with some text/quotes left in Latin.

Yes it was turned into a movie with Sean Connery and Christian Slater, but I swore I would not watch the movie until I finished the book.

I bought this book in 2000; it was recommended to me by the owner of a small bookstore in the city. I tried to read it, but I only got a few pages in, because I found the historical language too difficult to read!

Over the years I have tried to pick it up several times. But each time I had to put it down after the first chapter because it was too hard! Or perhaps I had a bad case of baby brain?

Anyway… after recently reading Me Before You, I thought I would pick up Umberto again, for something a bit meatier.

But 2 months have passed and I’m halfway through the book haha.

It’s very slow paced, with lots of discussions about abbeys, medieval philosophy, libraries, books and monks.

I find it extremely satisfying to read.

I’ve developed a sudden interest in medieval monasteries, old books and Latin.

Although the language is slow and it’s all a bit “intellectual”, it’s delightful and interesting… and SOOOO DIFFERENT to what I read on the internet through my Facebook feed HAHA.

Which is the main aim of this reading thing!