Archive for Daily Living

 

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Life From Laziness

25 April 2017

Ok here’s a funny story.

Before I left for my 4 week long trip to London and Paris (in January)… I snipped off a pretty hydrangea flower stem from my garden, placed it into a tall jar of water and left it in my laundry.

You know, for decoration.

Then I hopped on a plane and left my husband and three kids at home.

4 weeks later.

I noticed that no one thought to throw out the rotting stem?!

Hydrangea Sprout

But I also noticed that a baby hydrangea had sprouted!

It was very cute.

Hydrangea Sprout

I didn’t know hydrangeas grew from stem cuttings!

And I wouldn’t have known this because… I would have NEVER left a rotten stick in a jar of water for 4 weeks!!!


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Read: When Breath Becomes Air

14 April 2017

When Breath Becomes Air

I usually stay away from memoirs about cancer.

My husband is a walking, talking memoir of cancer survival…

And whenever I volunteer for cancer fundraising events, I hear so many inspiring and heart-breaking stories about cancer.

I’m not exactly seeking out to read yet another cancer story.

However, I picked up When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi after hearing so many positive reviews.

What makes this story so different?

Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015. He was aged 36. He was a brilliant neurosurgeon, and outstanding researcher. He was a lover of literature. He had a brilliant philosophical mind. He was a doctor, then he became a patient. He left behind a wife and baby daughter.

He wrote it at a very particular time of his life – near the end – while faced with death. So parts of it reads like a stream of consciousness.

It’s a bit intellectual. It’s a bit heavy.

It’s a very philosophical. It’s very sad. I cried.

I’m glad I read it.

However, strangely, I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone.

Those who are looking for a general “roll up your sleeves and get practical about living the best life you can” kind of inspiration, probably won’t find it here. This book is much more of a deep, introspective, pondering look into one man’s very particular life, with very particular views.

If anything, it’ll possibly help you feel and understand what it might be like to face death with a brave and courageous heart.

On another note, if you’re interested, you can take a peek at my Goodreads Reading List if you like.


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School Holiday Basketball Fun

11 April 2017

Brought to you by Vicinity Centres Aussie Hoops

School Holiday Basketball Fun with Aussie Hoops

School holidays are upon us!

My kids and I were kindly invited by Vicinity Centres Aussie Hoops to try out their school holiday pop up “Super Hooper” at Galleria Shopping Centre.

It was a lot of fun! My kids are totally obsessed with basketball!

They really enjoyed the set up. They had the opportunity to shoot some hoops; they had a good run around, they received some tips, and had a whole lot of ball fun …while I sat back with a take away coffee haha.

Best of all, it was free.

School Holiday Basketball Fun with Aussie Hoops

The Aussie Hoops Super Hooper runs during the school holidays from:
Tuesday 11 April 2017: 9.45am – 4.15pm
Wednesday 12 April 2017: 9.45am – 4.15pm
Thursday 13 April 2017: 9.45am – 9.15pm

At the Galleria Shopping Centre:
Corner of Collier & Walter Roads, Morley, WA.

School Holiday Basketball Fun with Aussie Hoops

I managed to speak to one of the coaches to find out a bit more about the basketball program.

(He did an excellent job of talking to me and making sure I didn’t get hit in the face with a basketball!)

The Vicinity Centres Aussie Hoops program is actually the official introductory basketball program for Basketball Australia, aimed at children from 5-10 years old.

The program features a national coaching curriculum delivered by accredited coaches. Each lesson is a specially designed sequence of warm up activities, skills coaching and modified games.

The whole thing is federally endorsed and structured, and provides a pathway to an elite level into Basketball Australia. Sounds a bit hard core, but there is a clear focus for children to develop skills, enjoy an active lifestyle and have fun!

There are centres all over Australia, and about 15 in Perth – Atwell, Aubin Grove, Beeliar, Belmont, Coogee, East Vic Park, Gosnells, Hamilton Hill, Jandakot, Leederville, Morley, Samson, Success, Wanneroo and White Gum Valley.

If you’re keen, do check out the Find a Program page at the Vicinity Centres Aussie Hoops website.

The programs run during the school term, so it’s a great time to enquire or enrol your kids so that they can start basketball when school starts.

School Holiday Basketball Fun with Aussie Hoops

My kids have been playing basketball for 6 seasons (3 years) as part of a local team – separate to Aussie Hoops. They absolutely love it. And I absolutely love watching them play.

We’re so fortunate that our program is run at a local basketball stadium, which is a 2 minute drive from our house! So, it’s great to see Aussie Hoops providing an opportunity for kids all across Australia to try out basketball in shopping centres and be inspired to get active.

Basketball has been such a great way for my kids to stay fit, connect socially, hang out with friends, and learn how to be part of a team.

All three of my kids are the smallest and shortest in their team (I’m not kidding!), but they are fast, agile, coordinated… and they have learned how to use it to their advantage and hold their own against the massive, tall guys!

I literally beam with pride every time I watch each of them play. It totally makes my week.

A big thank you to Vicinity Centres Aussie Hoops for the fun morning – my kids have decided that ALL shopping centres should be permanently fitted out with an indoor basketball court haha!


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Throw Back: Diving With Sharks

7 April 2017

Last weekend, I was at a party and someone asked me how I knew a few other people.

My answer, “Oh I used to scuba dive with them…”

They were a bit stunned, they couldn’t believe I used to scuba dive!?

So I dug out a photo (yeah I did a web search on my own blog haha!) and showed them.

Dive With Sharks at AQWA (2008)

That’s me in the shark tank at AQWA!

It was such a fun and unforgettable dive.

The photo was taken by one of my terrified children, standing on the other side of the glass. Here’s my blog post about the whole experience.

I’m so glad I have this photo :)

I look at it and I am immediately transported back into time, to what seems like a different life! While I don’t have any deep yearnings to go back into time, I look at it and am so happy that it was one of the weird and wonderful things that made up the jigsaw puzzle of my life.


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Potting Orchids for my Mum

3 April 2017

On the weekend, it was my mother’s 70th birthday.

I planned to take my mum on a little staycation – to book her (and myself) into a fancy hotel for one night, enjoy dinner, a massage, buffet breakfast and a bit of relaxing by the pool! Sounds so good right?

However the timing wasn’t great, so we had to postpone the hotel stay to another date. Which meant on the actual day of her birthday, I’d be giving her a big fat NOTHING.

My sister and I came up with an idea to give her an orchid… because all three of us like buying orchids for each other haha.

Re-potting Orchids

I went to Bunnings and found a very pretty one!

But it looked a little small and lonely by itself, so I decided that I was going to buy TWO orchids and combine them into a nice pot… to make a more worthy looking 70th present.

Orchids were about $30 each, the pot was $20 and the orchid mix was about $10.

Re-potting Orchids

I filled the pot with potting mix and made sure the height of the orchid was ok.

I also made sure that the leaves of the two orchids didn’t crash into each other, and that the flower stems turned inwards, towards each other, rather than outwards.

Re-potting Orchids

I made a little mess, but the whole process was so simple!

Re-potting Orchids

It was such a good-looking gift!

We celebrated my mum’s birthday with 80 family and friends, we ate lobster noodles and a very large, triple-layered pandan cake. YUM!

Re-potting Orchids

And here’s a close up of the orchids. So pretty!


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Liam Turns 8

29 March 2017

Liams 8th Birthday 2017

My little baby turned 8 last week!

Which means it has been 8 years since I did all that newborn stuff – labour, child birth, breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, reflux, changing nappies, endless laundry, mixing formula and making baby food – yikes!

When I think about it in a big, fluffy, general sense… it feels like only yesterday.

But when I try to recall all the little, tiny details, it feels like a lifetime ago. (That is, I have no idea how many millimetres of milk my kids used to drink in one feed, so please don’t ask haha!)

So my little Liam celebrated his birthday with a few of his closest friends at a bowling and arcade centre.

I think all the kids enjoyed putting coins into the machines to collect tickets, to swap them for styrofoam aeroplanes, more than the actual bowling itself!

We made a double-layered, chocolate cake, with a layer of hundred’s and thousand’s icing mixture in between. We decorated the cake with three of Liam’s favourite lollies – Skittles, Maltesers and Jelly Snakes. Sugar overload!

It was a bit of a mess in the end, but he was beyond happy!


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Reading: Far From The Madding Crowd

24 March 2017

Thomas Hardy - Far from a Madding Crowd

As I mentioned a few days ago, I’m reading Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy and I’m a few chapters away from finishing it.

Yes it’s a romance set in 19th Century English countryside. If you like books by Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, then you’ll probably enjoy this one.

I read my first Thomas Hardy last year and he totally floors me with his writing and language.

Here’s one of my guilty, dorky secrets haha: I like to read with a pencil nearby, so I can circle sentences  and paragraphs that make my eyes pop and my brain explode. Then I fold over the corner of the page, so in the future I can pick up the novel and quickly re-read my favourite parts of the book.

Ha!

Anyway, since I share stories, photos, food and clothes that inspires me, I feel that I have to share my favourite snippets from this book!

1) Context: Gabriel and Bathsheba [the novel’s heroine] met along the path and Gabriel couldn’t take his eyes off her.

“Rays of male vision seem to have a tickling effect upon virgin faces in rural districts: she hastily brushed hers with her hand, as if Gabriel had been irritating its pink surface with a long straw, and the free air of her previous movements was reduced at the same time to a chastened phase of itself. Yet it was the man who blushed, the maid not at all.”

2) “The rain stretched obliquely through the drab atmosphere in liquid spines, unbroken in continuity between their beginnings in the clouds and their points on him.”

3) “Bathsheba loved Troy in the way that only self-reliant women love when they abandon their self-reliance. When a strong woman recklessly throws away her strength she is worse than a weak woman who has never any strength to throw away. One source of her inadequacy is the novelty of the occasion. She has never had practice in making the best of such a condition. Weakness is doubly weak by being new.”

4) “To persons standing alone on a hill during a clear midnight such as this, the roll of the world eastward is almost a palpable movement. The sensation may be caused by the panoramic glide of the stars past earthly objects, which is perceptible in a few minutes of stillness, or by the better outlook upon space that a hill affords, or by the wind, or by the solitude; but whatever be its origin the impression of riding along is vivid and abiding. The poetry of motion is a phrase much in use, and to enjoy the epic form of that gratification it is necessary to stand on a hill at a small hour of the night, and, having first expanded with a sense of difference from the mass of civilized mankind, who are dreamwrapt and disregardful of all such proceedings at this time, long and quietly watch your stately progress through the stars. After such a nocturnal reconnoitre it is hard to get back to earth, and to believe that the consciousness of such majestic speeding is derived from a tiny human frame.”

5) “He had been held to her by a beautiful thread which it pained him to spoil by breaking, rather than by a chain he could not break.”

Ah sorry, I could go on. But I’d better not. It’s a lovely book to read.

And I can’t wait to read some of his poetry!

If you’re interested, you can take a peek at my Goodreads Reading list here if you like.


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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 the 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!