Archive for Daily Living

 

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We raised $5.2 million for cancer research!!

22 October 2014

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014 - Photo By Ze Photography
(Photo By Ze Photography)

It’s over for another year!

I volunteered for a 2 day cycling charity event, The Ride to Conquer Cancer.

I’ve participated in this event for the last two years and it involves over a 1000 people riding a distance of 200km over 2 days.

For each of the last two years, I have spent about 5 hours of sitting on my ass and pedaling each day! And as I slogged away, part of what kept me going were the cheer squads dotted along the route – volunteers dressed in cowboy gear, pink tutus and Elvis costumes… but the craziest and most entertaining bunch were the Onesie Warriors.

They wore one piece animal suits, sang and danced, cheered, rang bells, hooted and hollered, and got up to all kinds of crazy antics that made us riders laugh and smile when we needed it the most. They made such a big, happy difference to our journey, lifted our moods, and pumped SO much energy and fun into the event.

I remember (during a relentless uphill slog on the bike in the pouring rain) looking at the Onesie crew thinking… where do they get their energy from?? They have been dancing and jumping around for hours! They must be drunk! They must be completely sugared up! They must be pumped full of Red Bull! Were they all fit, young 18 year olds, who are just used to all this raving!?

Anyway, that was the team I joined on the weekend.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

There were 12 of us in the Onesie Warrior team, and we split into 3 groups of 4. We positioned our teams at different locations, where the route was most boring (20kms of flat farm land) or most difficult (long, slow, uphill climbs that go on forever) for the cyclists.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

Basically the whole Onesie Warrior experience was… a crazy, roadside, dance party, with insane amounts of bad karaoke, bad dancing, raving and jumping!

We had pop music blasting from our car. We were shouting, cheering, whooping, waving clappers, ringing cowbells, shaking tambourines, tooting horns, blowing whistles… for 10 hours!

Oh man, it was sooo much fun.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

I couldn’t even recognise myself. I was doing the most silliest, shameless and stupidest dance moves I’ve ever done in my whole life. And I did it on purpose! In front of people! To make them laugh! In broad daylight!

If you know me in real life, I’m usually very contained, calm, possibly soft spoken and maybe a bit shy. I am in no way a natural show pony. I don’t walk into a room and have a presence that commands people to take notice of me. In fact, I’m striving for a kind of quiet gracefulness.

But once I put on my giraffe onesie, I felt like I had permission to act like an exploding, hyperactive, crazy person!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

With our encouragement, all 1311 riders made it safely to the night camp – the half way mark for the weekend.

They did SO WELL for their first day. They rode 105km. There was a very strong head wind blowing against the riders, and I could see them all pushing into it, grimacing in pain with every down stroke of the pedal. I knew their pain! They must’ve been exhausted!

There were a lot of cancer survivors who rode too. They rode with a yellow flag attached to their bikes to distinguish themselves. I thought of my husband, who has survived cancer twice and thought whether he would be able to ride this distance. His health is excellent, but fragile, and shouldn’t really be pushed to this level of exertion. Not to mention he was at home looking after the blessing of our three kids… while I was spending the weekend having this unusual, out of character experience.

I got a bit teary every time I saw a person with a yellow flag that reminded myself why I was here.

In fact, it only took a few minutes of chatting to a complete stranger to find out that every rider had a story or a connection to cancer, and that they were determined and inspired to do something about it. I was constantly teary and inspired!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

As for me, I had woken up at 4am that day, started cheering at 7am, had only a few small breaks, and finished my shift at 5pm (to cheer the very last rider to arrive at camp).

So I went to bed at 7:30pm!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

The next morning I woke at 4am again, and the weather looked REALLY BAD.

There was a 100% chance of rain, thunderstorms, hail and strong winds. Oh my god! I hoped the wind would be behind the riders and push them along.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

For the second day, I was a frog. It was an apt costume for the wet weather. And apt, because my voice was very croaky.

At 6am, I hopped over to the start line and I bumped into these two ladies – Brooke and Sam. Er, well I actually just randomly walked up to them, because hey I’m in a frog suit, and I asked to take a photo with them because their cycling jerseys matched my green costume!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

Then our team quickly drove to our first designated spot for the day and waited for the riders to come through.

We waited and waited.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

In fact, we waited at the zebra crossing.

When the riders went by, we waved signs like “SAFARI SO GOOD!” and “KEEP THOSE CALVES MOOVING”! And other really bad animal puns.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

We placed ourselves in silly positions to wave at the riders. Our chipmunk climbed a tree. Our cows climbed a hill. Our penguin sat on a branch.

I was a squashed frog on the path, but I only took this photo after the last rider rode past haha!

We made our way to several other positions along the route, and then back to the finish line to cheer the last rider through.

We danced and cheered for hours! We were projected up onto the big screen, we were photographed and we were on TV (did you see us?!). It was definitely one of the most crazy, fun and rewarding experience I’ve ever had. It certainly gave me an unusual perspective of the event.

In total, we raised $5.2 million that will go to the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research (used to be WAIMR), with all the funds going directly into cancer research projects. I was choked up with pride and happiness!

A HUGE thanks to all the organisers, the crew, the riders, the sponsors and the supporters who donated!!

I’ll see you all next year!!


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Just Call Me Shorty the Giraffe

16 October 2014

Giraffe Onesie

So this weekend, I will be travelling a distance of 200kms with a truck full of strangers dressed up in animal onesies… me dressed as a GIRAFFE, ringing a cow bell and being a cheerleader – all for charity!

I chose to dress up as a giraffe because, well, I thought it would be funny and ironic, since I was short and small.

I’ll be the shortest giraffe in history. Can’t wait for the craziness to begin!

Do follow me over the weekend on Instagram – @karenlycheng


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Grass is always green kind of happiness

11 October 2014

Chilling on the Grass

Happiness is… sitting on the amazing green grassy lawns, under a clear blue sky, watching your kids run around in the warm setting sun. I love this time of year!!

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!


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Please Don’t RICE MY OUCHIE

9 October 2014

Growing up, I’ve never been a rough kid.

I’ve never broken my arm or leg. I’ve never hurt my knee, or twisted my ankle. I’ve never had a cast or crutches. As a result, I’m very unfamiliar with injuries and what to do with them.

So when I get a minor injury now, I just ignore it… because it’ll just get better after a few days right?

Thumb Injury

Well, while I was playing netball one evening, I slammed my thumb into the ball at full speed and got this impressive bruise. Of course it wasn’t a bruise to start. It just felt like my thumb had SPLIT IN TWO, THAT’S ALL.

Being the well brought up lady that I am, I held back the “F” EXPLETIVES SCREAMING IN MY HEAD and just turned to my opponent and said, “Ouch, that hurt.”

I played the rest of the game like a one-handed elephant seal, slapping the ball without using my thumb.

I was a bit embarrassed about it after. Silly me. Got an ouchie. Hurt my thumb. I casually mentioned it to my netball team mates, who just said, “Just rice it babe.”

I thought to myself, “Why yes, I’m Chinese. I can subscribe to that kind of thinking. Rice is usually the answer to everything. But surely they don’t mean to eat rice or rub it with rice. So I’m sure it stands for something like “Rub It Carefully Everyday”??

(It means Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation for all you perfectly coordinated people who don’t fall over, like me.)

Anyway, I stumbled along with my sore thumb. I refused to whinge about my pain. I didn’t complain or make a big deal about it. I was secretly all high and almighty and proud of myself. “I DON’T DO INJURIES. Pfft I don’t need ice. Or rice.” I turned door knobs. Held sandwiches. Flipped pancakes. I did all the things that a being with opposing thumbs is destined to do.

But after 3 weeks of pain, I swallowed my pride and asked various people for advice about my injury.

I got no sympathy. Everyone seemed to tease me about how minor my injury was. They told me stories about the MUCH bigger knee, ankle, neck, arm and back traumas they had suffered over the years. And they told me that it was too late for self applied RICE. Apparently, I needed professional advice…

And the advice came in the form of a wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

You see, throughout my research… I heard that a girlfriends’ husband’s friend’s sister… swears that there is a hot-looking, young physiotherapist with “talented” hands, who specialises in netball injuries, who will assess everything from ankle injuries, to ahem, groin injuries… (and presumably thumb injuries?) and who gives excellent RICE. WINK WINK.

Hmph. Thanks A LOT guys.

I’m sure I’ll be fine. I’m sure the pain will just go away after a few days right? It just needs more time to rest. And less netball.

But… is this rumour true? Is this mythical Physio actually real? Is he really talented? Is he really hot? Does he really see all the injured netball girls in town?

I guess I’ll never know the answers to these questions… because I’m *much* too proud to let some Physio-cassanova RICE my ouchie :P


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A Row of Blues

6 October 2014

Iris
I always feel *so clever* whenever a flower blooms in my garden.

I have this humungous feeling of warm, glowing pride.

Look at my babies! Look at how beautiful they are! The result of all my hard work!

I know I didn’t actually make them, so I can’t really take any credit for them.

But nonetheless, they still feel like my precious babies.

And I shall fill the internet with photos of them!

 


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Being a Vampire Ain’t So Sexy

2 October 2014

Bloody Eye!

Argh! So I woke up one morning and I looked like a drugged-up vampire!

I didn’t knock my eye or my head. I didn’t use new eyeliner or new makeup remover. I didn’t get soap or shampoo in my eye. I don’t remember rubbing my eye particularly hard. I wasn’t doing anything strenuous or anything with chemicals. I don’t take any medication either.

Just woke up one morning – as normal – and gave myself a fright in the mirror.

Of course, I immediately Googled it and it turned out to be a “subconjunctival haemorrhage” – which sounds terribly unsexy and I’m sure you wouldn’t hear the phrase uttered in any Twilight movie.

The good news is that it’s totally harmless. If I want, I can buy over-the-counter artificial tears to help sooth it, or just watch the Notebook or The Lion King a few times a week, you know, to get real tears.

Other than that, I have to leave it alone and it will slowly fade away after 1-2 weeks.

It looks totally freaky!

So of course, my kids thought it was utterly cool.

 


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Barrister, not Barista!

1 October 2014

Er, so I spent a whole day thinking that George Clooney married someone who makes coffee.

In my early morning blur, with a flick of my finger, I quickly scrolled past the headlines on social media. I marveled that the most eligible man in the world, who could have almost any woman on the planet, chose someone who works in a cafe. Now that would be a story of true love.

I thought, wow he must really love his coffee after all.

George Clooney

But nope. The truth is much less amazing. All the best to them anyway!


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Mossy Landscapes

19 September 2014

Moss on a Plate

My 5 year old boy and I were doing some gardening the other day, when I asked him to pull out some weeds on the driveway.

He happily pulled all the weeds. Then he started to dig up some mossy strips growing between the paving bricks.

He was utterly fascinated with the moss, and I can see why!

We placed his collection on a plate and covered them with water. Now they sit like teeny tiny grassy islands on a dinner plate world. And if you look a little closer, the lush green fields roll back into the horizon, with a lumpy swamp-like terrain, covered with a smattering of trees and shrubs.

My son sat and stared at the plate for the longest time. Perfect fuel for the imagination.

I might pop them into a glass jar for him, so they keep a little longer. And place the jar by the window, just out of direct sun, and just out of direct sight.

I hope he’ll forget about them.

They are mossy landscapes are cute and all, but I don’t want to grow a garden of weeds in my house!


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Cow Suits and Cow Puns in Cow Town

4 September 2014

On a sunny Saturday morning, out for a drive in the countryside, we drove into a little town called Cowaramup, hoping to find a quite cafe with a sleepy view of the main street and a yummy breakfast menu.

The town’s name originates from Cowara, the Australian Indigenous word for a bird, the Purple-crowned Lorikeet. The town was originally created around timber milling, but now it is best known for it’s wines, beef and DAIRY products (mainly cheeses and chocolates). A perfect combination if you ask me!

But of course, the amazing coincidence is that… the town’s name has the word “cow” in it, and it is in the middle of the diary industry.

So its nickname is COW TOWN.

Cow Town (Cowaramup)

As I said, we were looking for a small cafe with a relaxed vibe. But when we pulled up in the main street, we found something very odd instead.

The whole town was decorated with cow spots. There were life-sized statues of cows all over the streets, sidewalks and gardens. There were cow balloons, cow streamers, cow posters and cow banners everywhere!

Cow Town (Cowaramup)

There were PEOPLE dressed up as cows! They were everywhere! Hundreds of them.

Adults and their children were in cow onesies!? All walking along… acting like nothing was unusual at all.

My children were dumbfounded into silence. Their eyes twitched and the cogs in their brains slowly told them that something veeeeery strange was going on.

Cow Town (Cowaramup)

One of my sons said “Mum, this is like a weird movie, right?”

It turned out that we had arrived on the day of the town’s annual country fair, named “Deja Moo – an Udderly Legend-Dairy Cowntry Fair”. It was so cute and fun! There were food stalls, arts and crafts, bouncy castles, “moovellous milking demonstrations”, “cowabunga boot throwing contests”, “cow pat lotto”… and more cow puns I’ve ever seen in one place.

But why was everyone dressed up as cows?

We quickly found out from a cafe owner (who was serving me while wearing a cow suit) that only minutes before, the town smashed the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people dressed as cows, with a total 1,352 people in cow suits! Apparently the record was previously held by the town of Fairfax in Virginia, USA, where 470 people dressed as cows. They went to the trouble of having a unique number for each and every cow suit! This is pretty good going for a town with an official population of less that 1000 people. I guess they got help from the neighbours.

How cool! I love seeing small communities come alive and get involved in a project that brings everyone together! There was such a wonderful sense of celebration and happiness in the air! I was very moo-ved.

(Sorry, I couldn’t help it)


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Riding, volunteering or donating?

26 August 2014

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2013, photo by Ze Wong

Photo of me riding 200km over 2 days for The Ride To Conquer Cancer, October 2013. Photo by Ze Photography.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that for the past two years, I rode in The Ride to Conquer Cancer to raise money for cancer research.

The event is a 200km ride over two days, and is designed specifically for people who are NOT already experienced cyclists. It’s for newbies and beginner cyclists!

In 2012, when I took up the challenge to RIDE 200kms, I was very motivated about raising cancer awareness and raising funds for cancer research. This cause is something that is very close to my heart, since I nearly lost my husband to cancer, and because I have lost a good friend, who was, like me, a mother of young children. I wanted to make something good come out of my fear and loss.

But I was also deeply concerned that I could not actually do it. 200km seemed like a long way compared to walking the kids 2km to school! People in my extended family were actually counselling me against it: “Can you actually do it???”

Well, as it turned out… YES I COULD!

It was a fantastic experience… it completely transformed my views about personal fitness. It was a brilliant journey to go on. I learned so much about myself, about bikes, about fundraising, and the power of working as a collective. Over the two years, The Ride to Conquer Cancer event has raised approximately $39.1 million in Australia (the proceeds go directly to research facilities in each state) – which is amazing!

But this year, I am not riding. The truth is… I’ve now picked up a whole lot of other sports like running, netball, yoga and strength training. So while I’m still pretty fit and active, I haven’t actually been on my bike since October last year – 10 months ago! I just don’t have time to do the training.

But my dedication to the RTCC, and the cause, has not diminished, so I am still participating, as a Volunteer/Crew Member. I’m going to be finding out what it takes “behind the scenes” to make a huge event like this work. And of course, I am hoping to motivate YOU! So I’ll be reporting on what I see and do. Of course, I’ll be doing the Perth RTTC… but there are also rides in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

What can you do?

Ride!
I did it, so you definitely can do it too! You can sign up with a friend, or you can sign up by yourself and the RTCC people (volunteers like me) will match you up with a team of new friends you can train and ride with.

When I first started out, I was a complete beginner cyclist. A total noob! I started training with a 15 year old, rusted, mountain bike. Read about my whole journey from when I first started my cycling journey!

Volunteer?
The Ride to Conquer Cancer organisers are looking for people to join the volunteer and crew teams. It’s the best way to experience the event while you support the riders on their journey! Pop over to the Ride to Conquer Cancer Crew Page to find out more.

Donate!
If you can’t participate or volunteer, what about making a small (or large) donation that goes immediately and directly towards cancer research. You can go to my donations page and make any donation amount you wish – $20, $50, $100, $500! You can leave a public message, or a personal message, or just do it anonymously. And you get a receipt, so you can claim this against your tax.

More coming soon!


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Oh mud! Glorious mud! How I love thee!

22 August 2014

Western Mudd Rush 2014

So last weekend, some friends and I got together to do the Western Mudd Rush - a 9km run with 23 mud-themed obstacles.

What was I thinking?!? I hate being dirty! I hate mud! I hate being cold! And for this event you get to be all three – dirty, muddy and cold… while running!

The truth was, I did it because of my boys.

The event had a separate section for kids to participate and my two big boys (aged 11 and 9) were falling over themselves to get signed up. So I, and a couple of my friends, got our kids together and decided to ALL give it a go. The kids did their event on the Saturday, and the adults did it on the Sunday. We actually had 6 adults sign up for our team, but at the last minute, 2 of them couldn’t make it.

It did occur to me to ring in sick as well. But my husband and kids would have hassled me about it… for years.

 

Western Mudd Rush 2014

Yes a few minutes in and I was splattered with mud already! The organisers made everyone have their participant number tattooed (temporarily) onto their forehead, because you were bound to get every other part of your body covered with mud. I liked it because it made me feel bad-assed.

I took my Nikon AW100 waterproof camera along for the ride. I carried it in a bum bag which I secured tightly around my belly, under my singlet, so I looked like I was 6 months pregnant! But after a while I found that it got in the way, so I slid the bum bag around so it sat against my back. That would have been a handy trick for when I was pregnant.

The weather turned out to be amazing. It was cloudy and slightly cool – perfect for running and getting muddy!

Western Mudd Rush 2014

The obstacles ranged from climbing up ropes, balancing on a beam, climbing across ropes, jumping over fences, crawling through tubes…

There was even an ICE BATH. Forget the ice bucket challenge. We had to jump into a TANK full of ice and freezing cold water, then we had to COMPLETELY SUBMERGE ourselves to get under a wooden bridge and then climb up a ladder to get out of the ice tank. It was insane! I was so so unbelievably cold and numb. But I did it. And I survived! Woot!

Western Mudd Rush 2014

There was a lot of climbing too, which I found to be quite challenging.

I have been working on my upper body strength, but I couldn’t get past the fact that I AM SHORT! My legs were too short, my arms were too short and the length of my body meant I was *just* out of reach for a lot of things.

But I still managed OK. I’m small, I’m light, I can jump high. And whenever I needed some help, my awesome team mates gave me a helping hand, or gave my butt a little push upwards.

Western Mudd Rush 2014

For example, take this rather large obstacle.

I needed a step (my team mate’s hand) to help me get over the wall. After that I was all good with getting over and down the wall by myself. Yay me!

Western Mudd Rush 2014

Then there were these tricky, spinning, slicked-with-mud barrels that we had to get over. Easier said than done. You couldn’t just climb over it. It was more of a leap, grab, swing legs over, use the momentum of your body to swing the rest of yourself over and then land on your feet. Go too fast and you’ll spin off the other side and injure yourself. Go too slow and you spin backwards and probably injure yourself.

Western Mudd Rush 2014

As we progressed through the course, the mud became more obvious.

There was a lot of mud to walk through and run through. There were muddy puddles and lakes to wade through. There was lots of mud smeared on things. But by this point were were DYING FOR SOME MUD TO ROLL IN!!

COME ON ALREADY, WHEN DO WE GET TO COVER OUR BODIES WITH MUD!?!?!

Yes, these were the words that came forth from my mouth.

Western Mudd Rush 2014

The Slippery Slide! Now this was fun.

We got to slide down a wet, bumpy hill on our ass, at high speed, straight into a pool of muddy water that smelt distinctly like… farm animals? Yes. Cows. Horses. Pigs. Wet farm animals.

Western Mudd Rush 2014

Here we pulled ourselves along a pool of cold, muddy, farm-animal-smelling water inside a cage thing. It was pretty easy for me, because once again, I was small and light.

Look at the silly smile on my face! I was having a great time! Even though I had mud in my hair and I smelt like a pig!

Western Mudd Rush 2014

Then there were two long tunnels, filled with muddy, agriculturally aromatic water, which we had to crawl through. Because I was small, I could easily crawl on my hands and knees. But a lot of other people had to do more of a commando crawl on their forearms and drag their whole bodies through the sludge.

I scurried along quickly and easily like a rat in a sewer. I crawled through the first tunnel, and my thoughts were… OMG this would be such a cool photo! I KNEW I wanted to take a photo from inside the tunnel, looking out.

I also knew that while inside the small confined space of the tunnel, I wouldn’t be able to get my camera out of my bumbag. So before I entered the second tunnel, I took out my camera and CARRIED IT IN MY MOUTH. My camera is the size of a smart phone, so I actually chomped down on it and carried it with my teeth. Like a rodent with a piece of bread, bigger than it can chew. Oh the things I do for the perfect photo.

Anyway, I now have a lovely photo of the inside of the tunnel AND the inside of my mouth. Ah the memories I’ll be able to treasure forever.

Western Mudd Rush 2014

Then came the grand finale. We had to crawl across a huge pool of thick, gluggy, brown mud, with barbed wires overhead. Argh the mud was so oozy and sticky, like clay. The ground was uneven, so some people fell into pot holes full of mud and got completely covered with the stuff.

It was -honestly – soooo much FUN.

We laughed and squealed with delight. We rolled around, hugged each other… and I took a selfie of course.

Western Mudd Rush 2014

Happy. Like unashamed pigs.

Oh there was one more obstacle after this… a stack of sea containers with a rope ladder thingy, before we hit the finish line.

Western Mudd Rush 2014

Look at us – WINNERZ!!!

(OK we didn’t actual win. We just finished the whole thing).

We took about 2 hours to do the whole 9km course. We ran most of the track and walked some parts when we got too tired. Some obstacles had long queues, so we had to wait a while. There was no pressure to complete each obstacle. There was just a general attitude to “Have fun and give it a go!”. It wasn’t a race. We went at our own pace. We overtook some groups, and other groups overtook us.

There was so much laughter, chat, banter and just enjoying the moment. It was definitely one of the most fun I’ve ever had at an “Organised Sporting Event”.

We had a quick, cold outdoor shower (it was more of a hose down next to the horse stables), we changed into dry clothes, and sat down on the grass for some hotdog and chips. My god, it was the best tasting hotdog ever.

I had a proper shower when I got home, because I still had mud in all my nooks and crannies. I also had to wash my hair twice to get rid of the farm animal smell.

Big thanks to my team mates! Next year we plan to get a bigger group together and dress up in a theme.

Hope you enjoyed my photos. Looking back through them, I can’t wipe my smile off my face!!

xxx

 


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Keeping it Real: My Dressing Table

20 August 2014

Dressing Table

In an effort to reduce my clutter, I’ve been donating a lot of my stuff to charity, storing my keepsakes properly, throwing out the junk… and just trying to be a bit more organised in general!

So since things are looking a lot neater around here, I thought I’d share my progress and give you a peek into some of my everyday spaces.

Starting with my bedside table.

Usually the place where I throw my used tissues, my bedside table is actually a set of tall drawers where I store some of my clothes.

Yep there’s a lot of stuff on my bedside table! It’s where I keep the jewellery, perfume, nail polish, hand cream and sunglasses that I wear and use regularly. I guess it’s kind of a dressing table.

Oh and I jam my current reading book behind my mirror!

Dressing Table

As for the details. I can’t have fresh flowers in the same room as I sleep, as it makes me sneeze at night. So a cute bunch of everlasting peonies works a treat.

And I don’t actually light candles next to my bed either. The amount of clothes, bedding, rugs and flammable liquids I have, makes our room a bit of fire hazard.

So it all looks very pretty and stylish right? But the truth is, our bedroom storage system still needs a lot of work.

Wardrobe

Behold! Four boxes of STUFF (I’m afraid to look inside them) still sitting above our antique wooden wardrobe, with doors that don’t close properly.

The wardrobe was left on the side of the road, and my husband couldn’t resist its water damaged, chipped, vandalised, warped mirrored, insect ridden charms.

And the boxes have been up there since we moved house four years ago.

I’ll get around to cleaning them out one day!

 


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Oh bloom! I’m sorry! Please don’t die!

18 August 2014

Last month, my husband bought me a double-rose cherry plum tree for my birthday. It was a large one, so I moved it into our backyard, with full intention to plant it properly into the ground that very week.

Of course, it is now 5 weeks later and it is still in a small plant bag sitting on the paving – NOT IN THE GROUND.

I feel so bad!

But it’s not that I have been putting it off or being lazy. You see, I have been reorganising my backyard, replanting a whole lot of plants, conditioning the soil, buying and spreading out mulch. It’s been a kind of backyard blitz here.

So my poor cherry blossom tree has been waiting patiently for me to get everything ready BEFORE I put it in the ground. However I suspect that, as it is with most things in life, things will never be “perfect and ready”, so I should just get on with it and commit before it’s too late!

Thankfully, mother nature is forgiving.

Cherry Blossom

My cherry blossom tree – still in its small plant bag – has bloomed for me, with the most beautiful and precious pink blossom I’ve ever seen!

I feel guilty, forgiven… and inspired to do the right thing. Like now!

 


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My Dirty Shoe Secret

6 August 2014

I was recently invited to a very posh event in the middle of the city.

It started at 6:00pm (which is heavy, peak hour traffic in the city)… so arriving at my event in a timely manner was going to be difficult. I decided to take public transport to my event, instead of driving and parking in the city.

This was my plan: My husband was going to drop me off at the train station, I’d catch the train, and then I had to walk a “short” distance to the event.

I actually calculated my TOTAL WALKING DISTANCE to and from the car, train, the event, back to public transport and then back home again. The total was a terrifying 1km.

1km in heels?! Sigh.

That was a big deal, especially when trying to work out which shoes to wear!!

I wanted to wear ONE PARTICULAR pair of shoes that went well with my dress. A pair of silver, pointed-toe heels. However… those shoes were not the best shoes to be walking 1km in. But er, they looked great with my dress! And so the decision was made. Silver shoes it is!

Fashion won over practicality.

But here’s my little secret, people.

I actually wore these daggy foldable flats while travelling to the event (pictured below). The little flats fold and roll into a little bundle that I can pop into my handbag.

Fold Flats

Haha I’m sure most REAL FASHIONISTAS would never be CAUGHT DEAD wearing these babies. I believe they are like the equivalents of wearing Crocs to a fashion show?

And the funny thing is… these foldable flats don’t feel like PROPER SHOES. They feel like plastic socks lined with rubber soles. Or like children’s dress-up slippers.

In fact there is no LEFT or RIGHT shoe, they are the same!

So if you’re in a hurry, running after a plane, or drunk trying to walk home, you don’t need to worry about which shoe goes on which foot! They feel so wrong! But they are so practical!

I own two pairs. That’s right, such a fashionista right? I have one pair, stored permanently in my car. And one in my wardrobe, ready to pop into my handbag.

Fold Flats

The other tricky aspect about wearing these foldable flats in public… is that when you want to change back into your fancy shmancy shoes… you have to find a hiding spot to do so.

And if you are going to a posh fashion event, you don’t want other guests to see you changing shoes, so you have to find a hiding spot at least 200m from the venue! Preferably behind a large object or building. Preferably not next to a garbage bin. Or a tree.

A girl standing on the sidewalk, next to a tree or bin, wearing a party frock, with no shoes on, only means one thing = crazy drunk chick.

And that’s no way to make a fashionable entrance, is it?

So the moral to this story is that fashion CAN win over practicality, you just have to find a good hiding spot :P


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Being a Book Nerd, at Northside Books

30 July 2014

The other evening, I found myself right smack bang in the middle of the city with 3 hours to kill.

It was 4:30pm, I had just finished a meeting and I was going to have dinner with some girlfriends, nearby at 7:30pm.

OMG what am I going to do with 3 whole hours?! It was such a rare and extraordinary moment that I had no idea what to do with myself!

I decided to pop into Northbridge, to visit a friend who owns a café and another friend who owns a fashion boutique. I thought I would do a bit of shopping and wander around to discover some new shops in the area. Who knows what treasures I would find?

But I didn’t make it to the fashion stores.

I wandered into a book store, planning to have a quick look… and I didn’t leave until the very last minute!

Northside Books, Northbridge

Oh my I was in literary heaven. I haven’t stepped into an independent specialty bookstore in YEARS! There was such a diverse range of classics, modern literature, art, design, architecture, cooking, history, children’s books, cards and more. It was such a great little bookstore, tantalising with the promise of treasure that I was craving for.

I have a mental list of “Books I Want Read” in my brain which went into overdrive. So many books I need to buy! I was quivering with excitement! Where do I start?!

The guy who owns the bookstore (James) was exceedingly helpful. He was friendly and charming, full of excellent suggestions, and not judgemental at all haha! He was such a quirky, book nerd (sorry James!) but exactly the kind of person for a bit of fun, bookish chat… especially if you’re like me, a closet book nerd.

Northside Books, Northbridge

I have found my next book, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. Winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize. Can’t wait to start!

In 2000, I used to work in the city, near a speciality bookstore. Every couple of weeks I would pop in and say “Please sell me some great literature!” The store owner would pass something to me (any age, any size, any genre), and I would devour it gleefully. Looks like I will be restarting this old habit again. I haven’t been *this* thrilled to read literature in years.

Back then I made a little goal – to read one Man Booker Literary Prize Winner every year. I think I only have read 3. Oh the disappointment. What have I been doing all those years? I have lots of catching up to do. It kind of made me regret reading the whole Twilight series. *Face palm*

Northside Books, Northbridge

I also did something else.

I asked if he could recommend a book for my 11 year old son, something that will hopefully inspire him to read more literature.

You see, my son reads a lot. He’s read all the popular novels and book series aimed at young boys, like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, Eragon, Hunger Games, Ranger’s Apprentice, Orson Scott Card, Assassin’s Creed, Matthew Riley, Dan Brown… and many, many more. So much so, he’s moving away from young boy fiction and headed towards adult action/thriller/military/mystery fiction?! The kid is unstoppable. He’ll read anything “interesting”. Which is why I want to throw some literary classics at him.

Yeah ok, I’m half boasting, but I’m also utterly terrified about all this. In the beginning, I tried to censor the books he read, but I couldn’t keep up with him! I take 3 weeks to get though a book and he takes 3 days. Puts me to shame.

So while James the bookstore owner was recommending me some books… two other very well-read gentlemen in the store (who were just random customers) overheard me and started to drop some suggestions into our conversation too.

Frankenstein, Lord of the Flies, Catcher in the Rye, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Of Mice and Men, Jasper Jones, Cloud Street, Animal Farm, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, Huckleberry Finn, Treasure Island…

Soon the 4 of us – an unlikely combination of complete strangers 1) book nerd bookshop owner 2) mature gentleman 3) young hipster dude 4) Asian fashion blogger/mother – were standing around talking about all the classic books of the past that we’ve read as young folk. And throwing around our 2-5 word verdict on whether the book would suit my son! Too dark. Too slow moving. Not enough action. Language isn’t modern enough. More of a romance. Bit too sad.

It was such a refreshing, weirdly enjoyable and totally unexpected experience for me. Haha who would have thought I would spend my free 3 hours doing this??

I settled on Animal Farm by George Orwell (which I read when I was 13?), Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson (adventure/action), Of Mice and Men (which I’ve always wanted to read), and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep By Philip K. Dick (again, I’ve always wanted to read this book, and I’m not sure if I bought this book for myself or my son!).

Northside Books, Northbridge

Anyway, James doesn’t know I’m writing about his bookstore on my blog. I thought I’d surprise him. It’s a ridiculously hard time for bookstore owners!

I kinda feel bad for all the times I bought my books online for $5 less. Or even drove all the way to Kmart to buy it for $2 less. I love love LOVE the old fashion feel of holding a book in my hand, I adored my trips to hip, indie bookstores in the past – so here’s my support to them!

The name of the bookstore is Northside Books, Northbridge.

They even have a little café inside (with snacks!), places where you can sit inside the bookstore and café tables to sit on the footpath outside.

It’s on 212 William Street, Northbridge, almost on the corner of James Street, opposite the famous Brass Monkey Hotel.

So if you happen to be a closet book nerd (like me) and if you happen to be passing by, do pop in and say hi!

(And check out a couple of Charles Dickens books on his sale racks for $5!)

Or pop into their Northside Books Facebook page!

 


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Looking up, looking down, looking forward

29 July 2014

Margaret River 2014

While were we in Margaret River, we took the kids on a wintery bush walk somewhere off Carters Road.

It was so peaceful and beautiful! The colours of the trees were singing out with life in the soft forest light.

Margaret River 2014

I looked up and was mesmerised by the black and grey masterpiece printed in the sky.

A light sprinkle of rain fell. And occasionally, a burst of sunshine spilled little coins of light onto the forest floor.

Margaret River 2014

The mud stuck to our boots, but it didn’t stop us from following the track into town.

The children ran ahead and disappeared out of sight. Their shouts of laughter seemed muted in the thickness of the bush.

Us adults strolled slowly, hand in hand with our loved ones, through the cathedral of trees that made us feel like kings and queens.

Simple holiday pleasures, which cost close to nothing, are definitely the best!


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A birthday of bagpipe farts

25 July 2014

For my birthday, my husband and I planned to go out for a fancy, romantic, degustation dinner. In fact, I was so organised that I booked the restaurant about 6 weeks earlier. It was at a restaurant that I have been dying to visit… and finally I had an excuse to spend hundreds of dollars on a meal there!

So on the day of my birthday, my family made me breakfast: Bacon, eggs, mushrooms and spinach.

It was just how I liked it. So much love right there.

My Birthday 2014

In the afternoon, I went out to lunch with my parents.

We shared a huge bowl of delicious nachos. I had my usual soy flat white.

My Birthday 2014

After lunch, we chatted and did a bit of shopping. Then I went to pick up my kids from school, brought them home and fed them a snack.

Since my husband and I were going out for dinner that evening, all 3 of my kids were going to have a sleep-over at my parent’s house. Yay! Like I said, I was super organised.

I grabbed their ready-packed clothes and drove over to my parents house. I dropped them off and zoomed home by 4:30pm… giving myself HEAPS of time to have a shower, wash my hair, put on my makeup, style my hair, and put together an evening outfit for a hot Friday night date with my husband.

But on the way home…I started to feel…unsettled. And the feeling grew. A sense of anxiety came over me.

By the time I reached my house, I realised I was feeling sick, and the feeling was growing fast.

There was a sudden pain in my stomach. I felt swollen with sickness. I wanted to throw up. My head was spinning. I felt so freaking bad that I had to lie down on my bed.

I curled up into a fetal position, squeezed my eyes shut and my head spun into a pit of swirling darkness.

I laid there, fully dressed and still wearing my makeup and shoes… and I blacked out.

At 5:30pm, I opened one eye.

OMG I was still in agony. I looked down at my stomach and I couldn’t believe it. It was huge, swollen and round and I looked like I was 6 months pregnant!!! WHAT THE HELL DID I EAT???

I reached behind me, my hands clumsily slapping the bed sheets, looking for my handbag. I found my phone and I called my husband.

The conversation went something like: URNGH. I’m sick. I ate something bad. I feel like shit. Not going out tonight. Cancel the restaurant booking. I’m staying bed.

I passed out again.

My husband came home, checked that I was still breathing, put a bucket next to my bedside table and left me sleeping.

At 9:30pm, I opened one eye again.

My necklaces were tangled in my hair. One earring was wedged into my ear. I smudged makeup and lipstick all over my pillow and sheets. I had one shoe off and one shoe on. My body was aching. My head was still dizzy. My stomach was still swollen, and I was still in pain.

Yeah, Happy Birthday Karen.

I got out of bed, took off all my jewellery, changed into my pajamas, washed my face… and tenderly staggered out into the lounge room where my husband was watching TV and enjoying his lonely Friday night “man” dinner – toast.

I plopped down next to him on the couch.

And then it happened.

I let out the BIGGEST FART of my life.

It started out resembling a big brass tuba blasting through the cushions of the couch. There was such a change in air pressure I think my ear drums popped. Then it became like a bagpipe belting out morse code. DOT DOT DAAAASH. It wouldn’t stop. Oh my god, I had to leave the room to try and save the last shreds of my dignity. My husband laughed as I fled, jet propelled.

(Mercifully, the pain in my stomach slowly subsided throughout the rest of the night. The “flatulence” did not. And every few minutes, I had a little wind instrument explosions from down below.)

I rang my mum to see if she was feeling ok (we both ate the bowl of nachos) and she was just fine, so it was not something that I ate. And then it hit me… my soy flat white tasted a bit different than usual. Damn it… they probably put REAL milk in my coffee! Grr.

My husband was very supportive. After his initial laughter, he didn’t mention my musical bottom at all. Bless him.

When we finally went to bed, he bravely spooned me and gave me a birthday cuddle in bed, being careful not to squeeze me too tight.

He said: “You know, Honey, even after all these years together, you are still full of surprises.”

And that is how we keep the romance alive! :P


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Hello Margaret River!

18 July 2014

Hello hello! I have just returned from two weeks of school holidays. This time we headed down to visit the beautiful South West Region of Western Australia, centered on a town called Margaret River.
Margaret River 2014

It’s the region famous for it’s wines, beaches, forests and caves.

Not surprisingly I have have hundreds of photos to be edited, so here are a few highlights of my trip.

Margaret River 2014

The coastline was just gorgeous. We went fishing off the rocks of Gracetown (near Margaret River). Well… all the boys went fishing. They didn’t catch anything, but it was fun just to be there and walk along the coast.

I spent most of my time watching all the hot local surfers, and wishing I could surf!

Margaret River 2014

The surrounding forest area was stunning! The light, the colours, the sounds, the smells – oh it was all simply breathtaking. It looked like a movie set for a blockbuster fantasy.

My husband and I (and the kids) have all vowed to return for a longer bush walking and camping trip.

Margaret River 2014

We went for several bush walks. And as we were walking along, the floor of the forest suddenly seemed to open up to reveal a HUGE cave amongst the trees! It was amazing! Like another movie set!

But seriously… the caves were well signed and we followed a clear track to find this entrance. So it wasn’t like we were going to simply fall into one.

The actual cave was only accessible by joining an accredited abseiling group. We watched a bunch of abseilers drop 45m into the bottom of the cave entrance, and that was when we realised just how big it was. It looked like so much fun. This was definitely another must do for us!

I have lots more photos to share, so do pop back next week!

xxx


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Running With My Boys

10 July 2014

I have been doing a bit of running with my boys, aged 11 and 9.

They seem to like running, and I like running. So it works for all of us.

Basically, I see it as a fun, free and easy way to entertaining the kids (and wear them out), while I get a good workout too haha!

I take them out to random and fun places to run… we call it “training”. I tell them that one day we are all going to run a marathon together in Paris or London. I don’t think they really know what that means, but they like the idea anyway.

Running 4 Feet

While running, or preparing to run, I like to talk to them about running techniques, enjoying the run, working on your own personal best times, setting goals, working towards your goals and doing a little bit more day by day. But I almost never talk about winning.

I feel that I shouldn’t fill them up with false hope or set any unrealistic dreams or expectations.

You see, my kids are short. Like, really short. With short legs. I don’t expect them to win running races.

There are SO MANY kids that are taller, stronger, fitter, and who have longer legs… which give them a huge advantage over my kids.

So when my boys say they want to try out for a running race, or join a running team. I’m so nonchalant and casual about it, I just shrug, “Oh ok. That’s cool. Have fun. Try your best.”

And that’s about all I’ll ever say to them. I don’t want them to have unreasonable expectations that get crushed.

Champion Boy Cross Country

Anyway, can you imagine my utter shock (bordering on disbelief) when my eldest son came home with this?!?

He won first place in his school’s Cross Country event. And he received a Champion Boy medal for Year 6!

Whoa!!

My other son came in 5th place for his year group, which was equally impressive!

I was *bursting* with pride for the both of them!!

They have certainly taught me a lesson… that limits are in the mind (in this case, mine), as much as in the legs. :)


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Master Presents and Masterchefs

7 July 2014

It was my birthday on the weekend and…

Here are the presents my boys gave me! In my last post, I mentioned that I was training my boys to be thoughtful and creative when buying gifts. This is because they will have to go out, find a wife, and keep her happy… so they had better be good at proving they understand her! After all, I want LOTS of grandchildren haha!

Since it was their first time buying serious presents for a woman, I gave them a LOT of hints.

First up, I asked them to buy me a scarf and it had to be a monochrome pattern. I loved their pick!

Karen's Birthday 2014

Then I gave them a wishlist of books and asked them to chose one.

Lastly, I asked for something I could grow. I got something to look at, AND something to eat! Excellent!

They were lovely gifts. I’m super happy!

However, I think my husband won the most points for thoughtfulness and romance with his gift.

Usually I’m really fussy with MY presents bought with his/my/our money. I have told him absolutely straight – don’t buy me jewellery, bags, purses, underwear, clothes. Please. Just don’t. I am so particular with what I wear and carry. And he is terrible at guessing what I want (which changes month by month, or even hour to hour) but hey, he’s fabulous in almost every other way. So I’m definitely keeping him :) But this year…

Karen's Birthday 2014

He gave me a cherry blossom tree!

I love it! I’m so excited!

I’ve always wanted one in my garden. It is currently a dead-looking twig stuck into a bag at the moment haha. But hopefully it will bloom for us this spring, which is in September in Australia.

Anyway, as well as the gifts, my boys surprised me with a secret Masterchef style, 3 course dinner!

They designed the dinner menu, bought all the ingredients, cooked everything (with help from my husband) and presented it to me in a fancy restaurant style.

Karen's Birthday 2014

This is what the table looked like at 5pm. The boys (and my husband) were all cooking up a storm in the kitchen, while I sat back with a cup of tea and painted my nails. Loved it already!

Karen's Birthday 2014

Finally dinner started at 6:30pm. I was presented with the entree, mushroom soup. My favourite! It was made entirely by my 9 year old.

It was actually delicious. I was a bit shocked at how good it was.

It was made from butter, 1 onion, 1 leek, 1L of chicken stock, 500g of mushrooms, some cream and fresh chives. So simple and soooooo yummy!

I raved about it, and my 9 yr old went all shy, “Aww mum, you’re just saying that to encourage me to cook more…”

“No, really, I mean it! It’s very yummy! Yes it was probably a good recipe, but you executed it really well. So well done buddy!”

I had two bowls of it.

Karen's Birthday 2014

For the main course, I was presented with homemade bread sticks and homemade dips. I was going to point out that bread sticks were usually served as an entree, but I kept my mouth shut instead.

I was told that one of the three dips was a pre-made dip, bought from the shop. And part of the dinner entertainment was to guess which was homemade and which was pre-made. How funny!

It was easy to guess, because the herb + cream cheese dip and the herb + oil dip were both amazing! And the shop bought humus was – well, bland by comparison.

Karen's Birthday 2014

My 11 year old was the mastermind behind the main dish and the dessert.

The dessert platter consisted of vanilla ice cream (bought) drizzled with homemade toffee + passion fruit pulp, strawberries dipped in chocolate, handmade coconut balls, and a slice of mango.

Later on, it turned out that my 11yo had planned to  make homemade churros too! The kid definitely gets points for ambition!

But it was getting late, and hubby wisely cancelled the dish. The idea of three excited kids squeezing churro dough into 4L of boiling vegetable oil at 8:45pm at night, was not very wise.

I can’t believe my husband agreed to all this craziness! Just one dessert would have been fine!

Ah, I was so loved up by the end of it all.

It was the most adorable thing ever. I am so in love with my family!!

My boys certainly impressed the socks off me for both their thoughtfulness and creativity :)

(I am the luckiest MUMMY in the world!)


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A Lesson on Gift Giving

4 July 2014

Roses from the Garden

My children asked me what I wanted for my birthday this month.

In the past, I’ve just said stuff along the lines of, “Aww, I’ll love anything you give me. Just put some thought into it!”

So I would get handmade cards, lop sided cakes, popstick craft, pasta necklaces, and bunches of hand-picked mangled flowers/weeds from the garden. Oh how I loved all those innocent, unconditional, adorable, sweet and simple acts of kindness!

But now that my two big boys are a bit older (age 11 and 9), their own ideas about what constitutes a good gift has evolved. They themselves would rather receive money, itunes gift cards, books, computer games, digital devices and gadget paraphernalia. Extremely efficient and practical gifts, but not very thoughtful. Even they would agree to that.

So as the only female in the house, I feel it’s my duty to push the whole idea of being thoughtful, creative, romantic, and generous when it comes to gift giving.

I do feel a bit sorry for them. They’ll have YEARS ahead of them where they will be stumped as to what to buy their girlfriends, wives, sister and mother in laws. Who can possibly know the way to a woman’s heart?

Haha I guess I am happy to give them a few years of training, starting with MY BIRTHDAY!

And since it’s their first year doing this… I’ve given them a few simple guidelines. A few big, fat clues.

Mum loves drinking tea. Mum loves scarves. Mum loves books. Mum loves candles. Mum loves vintage plates and cups. But most of all, mum loves flowers. It’s all about research and creativity, my boys.

It has stressed them out a little. What if you don’t like it? What if you already have that? What if you have something else in mind that you’d rather have?

So I say, once again… “Aww, I’ll love anything you give me.”

But what they need to learn is that what I actually mean: “It had better be something that shows you understand me!!!”


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New Shelves and Old School National Geographic

3 July 2014

Things have been go go GO over here in my house. We’ve embarked on a few outstanding projects, minor renovations and epic cleaning sprees! It’s all been so inspiring!

This is our latest project.

New Shelves

When we moved into our house 3 years ago, we had always planned to have a beautiful stretch of Jarrah timber wall shelves, built into our 4m wall in our main lounge room. This would match our floorboards, because we love Jarrah.

Jarrah trees are native to Western Australia, and it is a super hard wood, with the warm colours of toffee and honey. Check out those colours and grain! But Jarrah is expensive, and it is a custom job my husband wants to do himself. So that shelving project had, quite literally, been put on the shelf.

Since then we have kept ALL of our books, magazines, albums, photo frames, precious objects… stored in boxes in our shed.

And for our 4m wall, we just kept leaning random crap against it (boxes, files, folders, random bits of furniture and a spare double bed mattress?!)

So FINALLY, we have set up an interim solution.

My husband and I set up some white chipboard shelves, given to us by my father in law. They are a bit old and crappy (they were stored in a garage, and have some water damage at the bottom)… but hey, they were free, and there’s nothing like crappy, old furniture to give the place a bit of charm :)

My husband gave me the option of painting them white, to make them look fresh and new. But that would mean possibly 5 coats of white paint with lots of drying time, which could take me over 2 weeks to do. That was just a bit too long for me to wait. I needed to get my books out of the wet weather! I decided to give them a good clean and leave them as they were.

I lugged out 14 BOXES OF STUFF from our shed. They were riddled with silverfish and spiders!

Boxes

Look at all those boxes!

New Shelves

Ta da! It looks so cool!

But this is just the first installment. I realised that I have another 2 boxes of books and objects that need to go on the shelves, so I will have to do a book cull (do I really need my uni marketing book??) and maybe put my photo frames on the wall instead.

Anyway, as I said, this is just an temporary solution. We still want our Jarrah wall shelves. But I might have to wait another 3 years for them!

Oh and we’ve got lots of beautiful old treasures that the kids have never seen before. Look at this!

New Shelves

My husband has an old collection of especially-special-to-him National Geographic magazines, the earliest one is from 1962 (before he was even born)! They are packed with amazing pictures and stories that make my toes tingle. And this is possibly one of the most famous Nat Geo covers?

It’s like there is a whole world in our living room now, and I’m so happy that our things are finally out of storage!


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How to remove stains, and your sanity.

27 June 2014

Everyone loves a BEFORE AND AFTER shot. And everyone loves a home renovation story too.

So let me present to you what I have been doing for the past week.

I’ve been cleaning up our bathroom.

Tile Clean

Before: The grout was stained yellowed and patchy brown. It was NOT a good look.

It looked like 20 years of accumulated dirt, crusty chemical build-up and general wear and tear had seeped into the grout. Lovely right?

Tile Clean

After: Sparkling white grout! I am a genius. I know.

But, let me tell you people, it was such paaaaainful and agonisingly slow work.

This is how the whole process started -

My husband and I decided that we were NOT going to spend $7000 on a new bathroom renovation. And although he can do the tiling himself, he was unavailable. You know, the whole “I have a full time job” excuse followed by the whole “I have to be a happy parent to 3 young boys”. Yeah OK, I let him off on this one.

So if I wanted a clean looking bathroom, I had to clean it myself. Hmph.

First I tried an organic home cleaner (what a joke!), then a normal heavy duty cleaner, Jiff, bleach, sugar soap, proper grout cleaner, oxygenated whitening cleaners and cleaning acids. NOTHING worked. I was so desperate, I was going to try whitening toothpaste. But I decided that that was such a stupid idea!

Absolutely nothing removed the yellow and brown stains from the white grout. I was SO ANNOYED! All that experimenting took me 3 hours.

Then I bought a tile rake. It’s a metal scraper that grinds off the top layer of grout. Like sand paper. It took me about 3 hours to scrape all the grout back. And guess what. After digging down into the grout, I discovered that the stains were not just on the surface of the grout… they went deep.

Then I used a grout paint.

Tile Clean

That’s right. I freaking HAND PAINTED the whole grout grid, with white paint, using AN ARTIST BRUSH!!

It was a bloody masterpiece I tell you. I bet Michaelangelo didn’t have to do this crap.

All that hand painting took me about 4 hours.

The label on the paint bottle said that the dried paint could easily be rubbed off tiled surfaces. I should have tested it first. Because for my first coat, I painted the grout in big messy lines and let the paint splash up onto the tiles. Big mistake. BIG mistake. Because the excess paint on the tiles was NOT easy to remove. So now I had to scrape all the dried paint OFF the tiles, which subsequently messed up my first coat of paint IN the grout (where I actually wanted it). That took me another 4 freaking hours.

Then I painted the grout with a second coat of white paint. 2 hours.

Seal the paint with grout sealer. 2 hours.

Grand total of 18 hours, spread out over 1 week.

It looks great now, but holy freaking crap it was painful!

On the upside, I listened to my whole iphone playlist, which I’ve never done before. It turns out that I have excellent taste in music… for cleaning grout :)


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History of the Modern Calendar

20 June 2014

My son came home one day and blurted, “Did you know that the first ever calendar only had 10 months??”

(I actually didn’t know that, but I acted all cool about it…)

He wanted to know more about ancient calendars and how our modern day calendar came about… and he was very annoyed that I didn’t know the answers RIGHT NOW AND OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD.

Thanks buddy. I’m already the resident cook, house cleaner, personal taxi driver and the best person for cuddles in the whole family… and now I have to be a freaking walking encyclopaedia?!

So we jumped online and the results were so interesting, that I’ve decided to share it with you all!

Calendar Animals

(I also decided that these little critters are my favourite embodiment of a modern day calendar haha!)

Our modern day calendar is essentially the Gregorian Calendar, which is a tweak of the Julian Calendar, which in turn was a tweak of the Early Roman Calendar, which was essentially based on a lunar calendar. Of course the Mayans, Egyptians, Babylonians, Chinese had their own calendars too, also based on the lunar cycles.

It seems there were a lot of TRICKY MATHS and astronomy involved in calendar making… so over the history of time, there was a lot of calendar tweaking.

The Early Roman Calendar had 304 days in the year, with only 10 months, and the year started in March (or Martius) in honour of Mars. So there was no January or February. This is why the names of our months seem a bit off… September is our 9th month, but septem means seven; October is our 10th month, but octo means eight; November is our 11th month, but novem means nine, and December is our 12th month, but decem means ten. Now you know why!

Around 713 BC, a new Roman king shuffled things around to create a calendar year consisting of 355 days, and added two new months, January and February.

That stayed around until 46BC, then Julius Caesar created the Julian Calendar where each year has 365 days, with a leap day added to February every 4 years.

His predecessor, Augustus the emperor of Rome, changed a couple of the month names in honour of Julius (July) and himself (August).

Well the Julian Calendar sounds exactly like the modern calendar right?

Apparently, if we follow this Julian rule, then every 400 years, we would GAIN 3 DAYS…  all our seasons would be out of whack, our sun and moon would not be in the right place and our crops will fail.

So in 1582 the Gregorian Calendar added a 0.002% correction to the year… and came up with the rule:

Every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400. (from Wikipedia)

Whatever. Like I said. Tricky. Maths. Involved.

The new Gregorian calendar wasn’t widely accepted when it was first proposed. It was only until 1752, that Britain and the US adopted it, by which time they were 11 days ahead and out of sync with the seasons. So they had to correct it ALL by having the day 2 September 1752 followed by 14 September 1752. 11 days were taken away just like that! Lots of people were unhappy and against the new change, claiming the Catholic Church was stealing their days.

How funny!

So interesting right?

I wish someone would steal my days.

I want it to be summer already! (It is winter here in Australia.)


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Motivation is a Bitch

19 June 2014

I’m trying! I’m really trying to work at this exercise thing!

Most evenings I go to bed thinking, “OK! Tomorrow is the day! I’m going to run in the morning!”

I lay out my running clothes, my socks and shoes and everything.

Alarm rings at 6am, do I get out of bed? Nope. Nadda. Not happening.

It’s too cold. It’s raining. I have a meeting in the morning. My lower back is a bit sore. I stayed up too late last night.

Repeat for 5 days, and I end up feeling incredibly shitty with myself.

I know I’ll feel better after a run. I know it’ll make me happy. I just have to get up and do it!

But do I?!

Running Biatch

Well, today was finally the day.

It was 5pm in the late afternoon. It was cold, it was raining, it was windy, I had a slight headache, I spent all day in front of the computer, I was feeling stiff and sore, I had period cramps, and feeling fragile and emo. Yet somehow my self-loathing / self-motivation trumped big time and slapped me across the face. I smashed out a quick 5km while my kids were at after school sport.

Omg I felt so happy. SO SO SOOOOO happy.

I was freaking GLOWING WITH HAPPINESS.

I felt so good about myself. I even went home, ate really well and felt so fresh and energetic for the rest of the day.

Now if only I can do this more regularly…!


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The Herbs Are Watching

16 June 2014

I have 3 black pots that sit on my kitchen window sill, in which I usually grow spring onion, basil and mint. I look at them everyday. They make me smile. I always pluck a few leaves here and there to use in my cooking and as garnish on top of my dishes.

The other day I realised that I don’t use my mint very often AND I wanted to have chives instead.

So I asked my 9 year old son to do the job of moving the mint to a bigger pot outside, and to transplant some chives from the garden bed.

He did an OK job. He didn’t space the chives plants out very well. He didn’t put in enough soil.

But as you can see, he left me some EYES.

Herb Eyes

Why did he do this? Who knows! Just to make me laugh? To make me extra happy?

It’s pretty hilarious. And weird.

Now, every time I peek over at my herbs, I remember how much I totally love my kids and the colour they bring to my life.


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Beach Holiday vs Cleaning My House?

2 June 2014

So how do you usually spend your public holiday weekends? For us, we’re pretty boring. We usually fill it with domestic stuff like cleaning our house, mowing the lawn, doing the laundry, airing our rugs. Glamorous, no?

However, for the recent long weekend, we decided to head down to the south coast (Dunsborough) for a quick beach holiday.

Aside from our paid accommodation, we jammed in as many FREE activities as we could.

Dunsborough 2014

We went for a coastal walk, which involved scrambling over a lot of rocks.

I was wearing fashion boots (tsk tsk) which had NO grip on the rocks, so I had to take them off and climb barefoot. What a fashion fail.

Dunsborough 2014

We found rock pools with crabs and fish.

Dunsborough 2014

This is Meelup Beach. My husband taught the kids about the difference between “swell” and “waves” (otherwise known as “seas”). There was almost none of either… apparently, which is why the ocean was as flat as a pancake.

Dunsborough 2014

We saw whales and dolphins! And we explored caves, went for a beach run, ate exotic bread and ice-cream, had barbecues, toasted marshmallows, made giant sandcastles, etc etc!!

It was a fun and refreshing little trip. But now I can’t wait for this weekend, so I can mow the lawn and clean our house!!


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Feeling Frigid

29 May 2014

I woke up bright and early the other day and found that my 10 year old fridge had stopped working.

Argh! Not only did it stop cooling, it was actually HEATING everything inside it!

What a hassle. Why did it have to break down this week?! I’m so insanely busy with work and life, I don’t have time to deal with this!!

I had to take everything OUT of the fridge and freezer, THROW most of it in the bin, and borrow space in my neighbor’s fridge for the rest. Then, I had to CLEAN the fridge from top to bottom… because there was a disgusting puddle stain made from a dripping, slimy, rotten zucchini.

Fridge Died

Wow, my fridge hasn’t been this clean and empty and white since… well, since it was new.

After marvelling at my own cleverness/laziness that I have never wasted any of my life cleaning my fridge in the last 10 years, I sat down at my computer to do some research on NEW fridges. Brushed steel fridge exterior! Double French doors! Sleek modern designs! Water dispensers! LCD panels! Energy efficiency ratings! I was getting excited!

Something that has constantly nagged at me since I bought this fridge (when I was pregnant with my first kid) is that it has only a two and a half star (out of five stars maximum) energy efficiency rating. So I have always felt that it was only half as good as it could be. Was this now the opportunity to upgrade to a newer, more efficient, and more faithful fridge?

On one hand, I could have a brand new, shiny, super fancy fridge of my dreams for approximately $3000.

But on the other hand, before it stropped working, I had NO actual complaints about my fridge at all. There was nothing wrong with it. I didn’t really NEED a shiny new fridge.

So I decided to call a fridge repair company. I promised myself that *if* they said it would take more than two days for a repair man to arrive, then I would just buy the new fridge.

And the phone conversation was like this:

“What?! He can be here in 20 minutes??? Um. Ok. Yeah, sure I’ll be home…. My address? Right. It’s… ”

24 minutes later, the fridge guy turned up in a van whiter than the inside of my fridge, wearing overalls to match.  He had the cheery mood of a man who takes great joy in making people’s fridges work. In another five minutes, he had diagnosed the fridge fan was dead.

He said it would cost $200 to fix the fan (parts and labour), and it’d take 30 minutes to repair. And he could do it RIGHT NOW, because he had the spare part in his van.

There I was, suddenly *wishing* he had said the problem was going to take a WEEK TO FIX AND COST $700!! I wanted his permission to go and buy a new fridge!

So what did I do?

I decided to go cheap, and fix the fan.

Bam! And the whole fridge drama went away just like that.

I was a little bit grumpy that I don’t have a shiny new fridge, but I was SO relieved.

Did I make the right decision? In the long term, who knows.

But for now? Hell yeah!

So, here’s to putting it off, and feeling on top of the world for it!!

(And by the way… I found out during my online research that the most energy efficient fridge in the market only has three and a half out of five stars of energy efficiency. So two and a half isn’t so bad!)


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A taste of Malaysian food

28 May 2014

When I was in Malaysia, there were SO many famous dishes I wanted to try. But since I was only there for 1.5 days, I had to settle for what I could get!

I mentioned in my earlier post that I attended my sister’s wedding celebration, then after that we went out for supper til 2am. This is what we ate.

Taste of Malaysian food

Top left is a pink drink called, bandung. My mother used to make this for us when we were kids! It is made from rose syrup, condensed milk and ice.

Top right is Teh terik, a hot, sweet, milky tea drink. It’s made from black tea and condensed milk, which has been “pulled” or poured back and forth, from jug to jug in order to froth up the drink.

Bottom left is Roti Tissue, a paper thin and flaky flatbread, sprinkled with sugar and served in a cone shape. Sooo yummy!

Bottom right is Roti Planta, which is the same as Roti Canai but it is stuffed with margarine and sugar. It’s sooo bad, but sooo goood.

Taste of Malaysian food

The next morning, after only 4 hours of sleep, I woke up with a sore head and staggered downstairs for the buffet breakfast. I ate noodles in a fish ball soup, with deep fried tofu, vegetables and fried onions. The broth was so delicious and comforting.

In my early morning haze, I didn’t catch the proper name of this, so could someone help me out? Unless it’s called, Fish Ball Noodle Soup?

Taste of Malaysian food

For lunch, my sister’s Malaysian family took us out to Big Nyonya, a restaurant specialising in authentic Peranakan cuisine, or nyonya food.

During the 15-17th centuries, traders and immigrants from China came to the Malay peninsular (Melaka being the most prominent trading port) and inter-married with the local Malays in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Their descendants are called Peranakans. On of my uncles is Peranakan!

Peranakan cuisine is often called Nyonya food and is a unique blend of Chinese and Malay cusine. It’s pretty hard to find authentic nyonya food in Australia, so I was licking my lips with excitement.

Going anti-clockwise from the top. I ate… Pongteh (a chicken and potato stew), Ikan Cili Garam (fried fish with chili), Telur Cincalok (an omelete with shrimp) and Udang Lemak Nanas (a pineapple prawn curry). It was all so delicious and tasty!

Taste of Malaysian food

But this was my favourite. Nyonya Cendol is a dessert made from finely shaved ice, gula melaka (palm sugar), coconut cream, jelly bits and beans.

Oh my god, I was having multiple foodie orgasms. The ice shavings were sooo unbelievably soft, like snow, but creamy and smooth, the taste was mind blowing, the gula melaka was amazing. Oooh, it was heavenly.

I ordered another bowl, because I’m that kinda girl.

Back Scratcher

Lastly, this isn’t really food related. But it does show a cute picture of me and 9 of my aunties and uncles, in the Nyonya restaurant, crammed together, Asian style, waiting patiently for our lunch to arrive.

While we were waiting I entertained my table with hilarious stories of me (the day before, while touring Melaka’s streets) being chased out of antique shops by a lady with a feather duster, me almost being knocked over by a truck… and how I found the coolest souvenir for my boys!

A retractable metal back scratcher!! My boys have been stealing my salad forks from my kitchen drawer to scratch their backs at night… and I never know if they have washed it before putting it back (very unlikely). So now they can have their own back scratcher, that even comes with a little side pen clip.

Randomness aside.

I didn’t get to taste these dishes I was hoping to try out.

Asam Laksa (spicy curry noodle soup), Otak Otak (steamed fish with spices wrapped in a banana leaf), and Har Mee (Prawn noodle soup).

Oh well, maybe next time. Thanks for having me Melaka! That cendol was the bomb, I’ll definitely be back for more :)


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A Quick Weekend Chop

25 May 2014

I’ve been really busy with some minor house renovations these last few weeks. And unfortunately, I’ve been too busy to look after my hair properly. (The shininess of my hair is just not *that* important sometimes!)

As a result, my hair felt like thick, heavy, clogged-up, dry straw. I felt like I was carrying around a shaggy sheep dog on my head!

And so after weeks of BAD HAIR DAYS, I finally managed to head over to my favourite Asian hair salon for a quick cut, colour and treatment. I was in and out in 2 hours. It was brilliant.

It’s funny how a simple trim and fresh colour can make me feel… like new!

Curi Hair Salon

Big thanks to Curi Korean Hair Salon for having me at such short notice!

xxxx