Archive for Daily Living

 

day of week

Healthy Strawberry Smoothies!

27 August 2015

Strawberry & Raspberry Smoothie

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

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

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

Anyway, the blender and I are friends now.

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

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

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

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

(This makes about 750ml)

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

Enjoy!


day of week

Buy Korean Skincare Online from Aniqa Australia!

25 August 2015

Brought to you by Aniqa

Aniqa Korean Skincare - Cremorlab and Mizon

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

What makes Aniqa different?

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

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

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

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

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

Aniqa Korean Skincare - Cremorlab

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Recent Switch to Korean Brands!

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

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

But…

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

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

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

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

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

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

That was in June.

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

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

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

The result?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So then, what was the difference? Why switch?

1) The prices.

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

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

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

2) Using products in the same range.

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

3) The smell is simply ah-mazing!

Aniqa Korean Skincare - Cremorlab

Where to start?

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

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

Aniqa Korean Skincare - Mizon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy shopping!

xxx

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


day of week

The Luminaries and Other Good Reads

19 August 2015

The Luminaries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s impressive. But not for everyone!


day of week

Speedfit – Personal Training and Electronic Muscle Stimulation

14 August 2015

Brought to you by Speedfit

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

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

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

Before and After, Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

So let me give you the back story.

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

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

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

I was quite surprised.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

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

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

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

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

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

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

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

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

I felt like I was wearing a soggy corset!

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

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

Charge me up baby!

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

This is the EMS machine.

Looks like a cute, harmless robot!

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

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

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

What does it feel like?

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

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

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

This is me about to start!

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speedfit, EMS Training Perth

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

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

The whole thing went for 20 minutes. So quick!

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Are The Benefits?

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

Pricing – How Much Does It Cost?

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

See their Price List here.

*Special Offer*

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

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

Call and Book for a Session

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

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

Hope you enjoyed my review!

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

xxx


day of week

Girls Weekend to Yallingup, Margaret River

9 August 2015

Yallingup, Wyadup Rocks

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

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

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

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

Yallingup, Wyadup Rocks

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

Yallingup Aug 2015

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

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

Yallingup Aug 2015

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

Yallingup Aug 2015

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

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

Yallingup Aug 2015

This was the beach, after the storm came through.

We watched a lot of sunsets over the beach.

Vasse Felix Winery and Restaurant

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

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

Yallingup Aug 2015

More beach walks. More stunning skies.

This is Shelley Beach in Bunker Bay.

Yallingup Aug 2015

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

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

That was a golden moment!

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

Ah it was bliss.

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

Hope you enjoy your week xxx


day of week

Rock Collections from the Helena and Aurora Range

3 August 2015

Camping at the Helena and Aurora Range

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rock Collection - Helena and Aurora Range

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

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

Rock Collection - Helena and Aurora Range

Everyone gave a little speech and presented their findings.

We all discussed the strengths and weaknesses of each collection.

Rock Collection - Helena and Aurora Range

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

Rock Collection - Helena and Aurora Range

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

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

Rock Collection - Helena and Aurora Range

A very impressive triangle rock shape gradient!

Rock Collection - Helena and Aurora Range

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

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

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

Here’s a close up.

Rock Collection - Helena and Aurora Range

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

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

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


day of week

4NE1 Korean Beauty and Nail Salon in Perth

27 July 2015

Hi everyone!

I’ve been very curious about Korean beauty products for a while now; and I have been itching to try out a Korean beauty salon in Perth.

So I did a bit of asking around and some of my friends recommended me to try 4NE1 Korean Beauty and Nail (pronounced For-Any-One) in Rivervale.

They do semi-permanent makeup for eyebrows, semi-permanent top and bottom eyeliner, even semi-permanent lip liners, eyelash extensions, body slimming, facials, LED Dynamic therapies, micro-hydrabrasion and more.

My friends had semi-permanent eyebrows and eyeliner done and have been really happy with the results.

Finally convinced to try it out, I gave them a call and popped into the shop.

Korean Beauty Salon - 4NE1, Rivervale

The shop was simple, clean, new and spacious. The lovely staff, dressed in all-black uniforms, greeted me at the door and showed me around.

They all looked so young! Yet they were all cute and coy about it, claiming to be my age and possibly older?? Omg I need to get some Korean beauty products pronto!

Korean Beauty Salon - 4NE1, Rivervale

They do a full set of Gel Nails for $55 and Signature Nail System (SNS) for $40. SNS uses a dipping powder, it doesn’t use UV light (like gel nails) or harsh chemicals (like acrylics). Deluxe manicures and pedicures start from $40 – $50.

Everything seemed very reasonably priced.

The salon’s business owner, Sophie, told me all her staff worked as professional beauticians, massage therapists, nail and hair stylists back in Korea, with considerable years of experience. As they immigrated to Australia, they set up home salons, offering their clients great service without the high prices. These ladies became so popular and sought after, that they teamed up with Sophie to set up 4NE1, to translate the same low prices to clients, but with a more professional outfit.

Sophie often goes back to Korea to bring in the latest beauty machines and equipment for their therapies.

There is a large back area with a waiting room, 2 private therapy rooms, change room and dressing room, and toilets.

Korean Beauty Salon - 4NE1, Rivervale

Anyway, THIS was what I wanted – mink eyelash extensions! (I took a snap of a poster on their wall.)

Their Natural Eyelash Extensions are $90, Glamourous Volume Eyelashes are $110, and Eyelash refills are from $45.

I decided to try the Glamourous Volume Eyelashes.

Korean Beauty Salon - 4NE1, Rivervale

BEFORE: These are my eyelashes before the extensions.

The whole process took about 1.5 hours and didn’t hurt at all.

I just lay on the chair, half meditating/relaxing and half trying to guess what she was doing.

Korean Beauty Salon - 4NE1, Rivervale

AFTER: These are my glamourous eyelash extensions!

The difference was amazing. They looked and felt very natural.

This was the first time I’ve had eyelash extensions. They felt completely normal, they didn’t itch, or irritate me.

I was very happy with them!

Karen Lash Extensions

I think from afar, they didn’t look THAT dramatic, which was a good thing. But close up, they looked full, lush, natural and they definitely made my eyes look brighter.

I was quite conscious of them for the first few days. I wanted them to last so I was trying to take care of them – being careful when washing my face, exfoliating, drying with a towel, and when pulling clothes over my head.

I did a bit of research on “How to look after your eyelash extensions”, so that helped.

What I liked best: Every day I woke, went through my usual skin care regime, put on my foundation, blush and brows. That’s it. My eyes looked naturally pretty, so I didn’t feel the need to use mascara or eyeliner. It was great!

In total they lasted 3.5 weeks. I probably should have gone in after 2 weeks to get refills, but I went camping instead!

Conclusion: Yes, I recommend going to 4NE1. It’s a nice and simple salon, with very lovely, attentive staff, who are very professional and experienced.

I’ve been to salons where the ladies are dressed in home clothes, they are too casual, they talk loudly, gossiping and laughing in a different language. They seem unhappy and bitchy… and I just feel that’s a very unprofessional vibe to bring into a salon. Oh and sometimes I feel like they are talking about me while I’m in the room?! I don’t like that kind of salon experience at all.

It would suit people who already know what they want and like (nails, facials, semi-permanent tatoos), people hoping to save some money and people who know the right questions to ask.

I found it a little difficult to understand the ladies due to their accents. For basic instructions and explanations, it was absolutely fine.

But I was keen on some deeper conversation about their step by step procedures, the after care, what are they doing right now, what products are they using… plus I’m dying to know a bit of history of the procedures and for them to tell me juicy details like “This is the most popular service! And customers just love this other thing!”.

(However, I concede that perhaps it’s a bit much to expect a beautician to give me a historical lecture while she’s waving tools over my eyeball?! Plus I would prefer her to focus on the eyelash task, rather than chat to me… so it was probably better that she wasn’t so chatty!)

Check it out if you live nearby!

4NE1 Korean Beauty and Nail Salon
98 Kooyong Road, Rivervale

They don’t have a website, just a 4NE1 Facebook page with lots of before and after client photos.

Enjoy!


day of week

Telstra Perth Fashion Festival 2015 Program Launch

22 July 2015

Telstra Perth Fashion Festival 2015 Program Launch

After spending a week camping in the Australian desert, I was SO glad to put on some high heels, make a trip into the city and dive head first into the sparkly and glamourous world of fashion!

The Telstra Perth Fashion Festival launched its 2015 Program and it was so enjoyable to be a part of it.

The morning featured gorgeous models, kick-arse designer gowns, cool head pieces and accessories, an amazing sculptural floral arrangement… and a free flow of gourmet juices and coffee.

Telstra Perth Fashion Festival 2015 Program Launch

I always take my hat off to event organisers, producers and the people who work behind the scenes to put together a fashion moment. Because while it looked simple (and it was all over in 10 minutes!), oh the amount of time and work that must’ve gone into it!

I had a warm fuzzy feeling by the end of it – mainly because I know some of the designers, boutique owners, models, stylists – so I felt like I was part of the community and I just want to give everyone a great big group hug! Go Perth Fashion!

Check out the TPFF website to see the line up of designers, events and buy tickets.

Telstra Perth Fashion Festival 2015 Program Launch - Photo by Stefan Gosatti

Two photos by Stefan Gosatti. These are two looks that jumped out and wowed me!

On the left, Hannah wear a Jaime Lee dress with a Reny Kestal head piece.

On the right, Laura wears a 33 Poets Dress and Generics accessories.

I loved all the ornate embellishments, embroidery and the deep burgundy lips.

Telstra Perth Fashion Festival 2015 Program Launch

And the morning wouldn’t be complete without networking, catching up with fashion friends and taking fashiony photos!

Here I’m with girlfriends Sandy from Hello Parry and Andrea from ShopGoh. Taken by Part Blue Photography.

Follow me on Instagram (@karenlycheng) to catch up with my daily adventures!


day of week

Camping at the Helena and Aurora Range

20 July 2015

Last week we went bush camping with another family and headed out to the Helena and Aurora Range.

Where on earth is that? I hear you ask.

To put it simply, the Helena and Aurora Range is 100km North of the town called, Southern Cross, and is about halfway between Perth and Kalgoorlie.

It takes about 7-8 hours to drive there.

There is no power, no running water, no toilets, no showers. It was indeed the bush.

Helena and Aurora Range 2015

There was a whole lot of red dirt! It was a stunning colour and its consistency was strangely soft underfoot.

Looking back at it now, I can appreciate its beauty.

But trust me, the red dirt got EVERYWHERE and covered EVERYTHING. By the end of the trip, it was in our tents, our clothes, our underwear, our tea cups, our cutlery, our cooking utensils… we were literally EATING IT!

Helena and Aurora Range 2015

The campfire was a hit.

Collecting firewood. Pots of tea. Toasted marshmallows. 6 hour, slow-cooked lamb stew. Crackling wood. The glowing warmth on our faces. Watching embers fly high into the sky and dance with the stars above our heads. It was so enjoyable.

The nights were cold though. The temperature dropped down to -2 degrees.

I wore 4 layers of clothing, a beanie, gloves and scarf… and I was still uncomfortably cold. It was obvious that I should have invested in some proper cold-weather, “insulated” clothing… but we were only there for 5 days and I thought I could get by. Oops.

Helena and Aurora Range 2015

The next morning, there was frost and ice over everything.

Someone forgot to throw out the dish washing water and it froze into an impressive soapy chunk.

I’ve never seen that before – frozen outdoor things in Western Australia! Who would have thought!

Helena and Aurora Range 2015

I also forgot to tip out my camomile tea and it too froze into an cute little ice block.

 

Helena and Aurora Range 2015

The days were a bit cold too. We had daytime temperatures between 15C and 18C , and there was no wind and no rain.

So in fact, it was perfect for hiking and bush walking.

We did a couple of 4-5 hour bush walks up to the top of the range, along the ridge and along the base. We found small caves and over-hangs.

It was great!

The tracks were easy to walk along, but once we went off the track, everything looked the same and it was a bit disorientating.

Helena and Aurora Range 2015

The view from on top of the range was stunning!

The Helena and Aurora Range is made out of banded ironstone formations and the whole area was covered in a variety of little rocks. We weren’t entirely sure what they were, either banded ironstone, ironore comsposites, with quartz and ocre?

It was extremely dry, with very few birds, animals and insects. While the lack of visible wildlife made the place extremely eerie, I secretly enjoyed the fact that I DIDN’T have to worry about the kids getting bitten by a snake, spider, scorpion, or ant.

Overall it was a beautiful place to camp and it was so serene, quiet and still.

In fact, the whole place had a magical and spiritual quality to it.

I really enjoyed it, despite being physically uncomfortable for most of the time (from the cold, not showering for 4 days, the constant use of baby wipes and menstrual cramps – blergh).

At the moment the region is proposed for iron ore mining, which is pretty devastating.

If you’re interested, you can read a bit more about the conservation history and the national park proposal on the official Helena and Aurora Range website.

 


day of week

My Garden Birthday Cake

7 July 2015

It was my birthday on the weekend!

I had a jam-packed day full of my normal mummy-duies (football, grocery shopping), mixed with birthday treats (hot breakfast, presents, coffee date in the city, shopping).

Then later in the afternoon, I was banished from the kitchen (so I mowed the lawn haha!) because my boys and husband made me a 3 course dinner! I’ll write about that some other time.

Today I wanted to share this!

Birthday Cake 2015

On the Sunday we had 32+ friends and family come over for afternoon tea.

I made lots and lots of food and I also made my own cake.

It was the first time I used butter cream to create a smooth cake surface. It was pretty easy. I definitely need a bit more practice though.

I actually wanted to make shards of toffee popcorn and stack it on top of the cake with Maltesers and broken bits of chocolate honeycomb in a chaotic and crazy way! That was my plan… but I forgot to buy all the chocolates and I ran out of time!

Instead I blitzed a packet of Oreos and made some chocolate dirt, found some flowers in my garden (which weren’t poisonous!) and made a little garden instead.

Karen's Birthday Garden Cake

Phew, I finished it just in time. I had 10 minutes to spare before the guests walked through the door!

It looked cute, but I’m pretty inspired to make a more elaborate cake next time!


day of week

Top 10 Ways I Recharge My Daily Mojo

6 July 2015

Brought to you by NESCAFÉ.

Not so long ago, I used to be a stay-at-home mum with three children under 6!

Now I’ve found myself as a work-at-home mum with school-aged children, who are fast approaching their teenaged years.

While this new phase of my life has certainly been easier for me to handle than “the intensive care of newborns”, it has come with new and different challenges.

Life is now fast-paced and jam-packed. With work, school, chores, extracurricular activities, hobbies, holidays, sports, music, fitness, and friends – all our activities are intensely involved towards nurturing and supporting our family and children.

If I don’t keep myself balanced, refreshed and recharged… I find myself drained, frustrated, moody and brain-dead.

So working with NESCAFÉ, today I’m sharing my top 10 ways I recharge myself on a daily basis.

Here goes!

Top 10 Ways I Recharge My Daily Mojo

1. Early Morning Rituals

I try to wake up at 6:30am each morning, before the kids wake up. If I don’t jump up and DO something to ACTIVATE MY BRAIN, I will just slump over and go back to sleep haha!

So can you believe it, I actually LIKE the meditative process of assembling my kid’s lunch boxes in the morning. It gets the gears going in my brain and body.

Thankfully my kids don’t like complicated lunches. They like simple, grab-and-go kind of food – just a simple sandwich, some cracker biscuits and some fruit!

Top 10 Ways I Recharge My Daily Mojo

2. Walking to School

While my older two kids ride to school with their friends, I walk (or cycle) with my littlest boy to school. We usually meet up with friends along the way, so it’s a nice way to start the morning.

We are so blessed to live 2kms from our primary school, next to some lovely parks and creeks. It gets me moving and active. And again, I find it meditative and refreshing.

Top 10 Ways I Recharge My Daily Mojo

3. Exercise to Recharge

It’s no secret that I love fitness! I don’t have time (or money) to go to the gym regularly. So I’ve learned a whole heap of workouts, cross training, weights routines and stretches and I do them at home.

I try not to be too ambitious about it, aiming for 20-45 minutes per day, and I always feel fabulous for doing it.

Top 10 Ways I Recharge My Daily Mojo

4. A Cup of Coffee While I Read The News

This is my essential, daily, ME TIME. I need to sit back and switch off with a cup of coffee for 20 minutes, catching up on the news and emails. It’s non-negotiable!

When I’m at home, I don’t have my own espresso machine or coffee machine; I happily drink instant coffee, or if I’m really pressed for time, I use instant coffee sachets (such this NESCAFÉ Cappuccino) which is just as yummy.

5. Writing in a Journal

I do love telling stories. I love being reflective, mindful and thankful. I’m constantly jotting down ideas, things I’m thankful for and just random thoughts on my phone or in a notebook.

Even if the ideas don’t amount to anything, even if they are disconnected thoughts and feel more like a to-do list… I always feel content that I wrote them down.

6. Catching Up with Girlfriends

My girlfriends are so important to me. We share our stories and dramas; we laugh and cry; and most importantly, we assure each other that we are NOT crazy!

Talking to them is soul refreshing for me; they keep me sane and keep me grounded. So I ALWAYS make sure I make some sort of contact with my girlfriends throughout the day or week.

Top 10 Ways I Recharge My Daily Mojo

7. Learn to Laugh

As much as I like to plan my life out… some days, life just throws lemons at me.

This particular day, my car stopped working. I was supposed to do a zillion important errands, go to a parent and teacher interview, go to the shops and find parts for my son’s school project.

I could have been extremely annoyed and agitated, but I just decided to look at the positives (I spent the day at home, doing work and cleaning the house!), and even found a moment to laugh at the strange arrangement of my car’s broken parts.

Top 10 Ways I Recharge My Daily Mojo

8. Prepare and Cook Dinner

I love cooking and it definitely relaxes me.

I find that if I prepare dinner during the day, instead of doing it at 4-5pm when the kids are home, I can spend more time giving my kids my full attention when talking to them after school or helping them with their homework.

This evening, I made a slow-cooked chicken coconut curry with, eggplant and tomato. Yum!

Top 10 Ways I Recharge My Daily Mojo

9. Give Myself a Manicure

As much as I love to get a manicure and long lasting nails put on at a salon, it can get a bit expensive. Plus, my nails get quite damaged from the technique of grinding and smoothing down of the nail’s surface.

So I’ve invested in some lovely hand scrubs, hand creams, and nail polishes for me to do at home.

It takes 15 minutes to do and I’m always left feeling pleased as punch.

It’s quick and easy! Simple pleasures are always the best!

Top 10 Ways I Recharge My Daily Mojo

10. Read a Book

And lastly, my favourite way to recharge at home is to read a book, sipping on a hot drink.

I like to mix up my reading collection with a whole bunch of classics and modern literature. I only ever read a few pages each day; that’s enough to transport me to another world and relax me.

This post was super easy for me to write, because I already drink the NESCAFÉ Café Menu sachets at home and was rather happy to hear that they have launched their new and improved café flavours.

NESCAFE Menu

NESCAFÉ sent over a few boxes of their latest range for me to try out -Cappuccino, Strong Cappuccino, Decaf Cappuccino, Mocha, Dark Choc Mocha, Skim Latté, Caramel Latté, Vanilla Latté and many more!

So far my favourites are: Cappuccino and Mocha.

I don’t drink them every day, but I do buy a box or two and go through them quickly enough, because they are so convenient, quick to make, easy to drink, and they taste nice, smooth, creamy and frothy.

I do have slight sensitivity to milk, but I’ve found that these don’t affect me at all – which is SO good, especially when I forget to buy a bottle of soy or almond milk for myself!

Top 10 Ways I Recharge My Daily Mojo

It was actually my mother that got me onto these coffee sachets, because when we travelled to Singapore and Malaysia together, I discovered that lots of cafés don’t offer soy milk as an option. Then I also discovered that my mother carried these around with her in her handbag and I would BEG her (daily) for one or two, because I was so desperate for a coffee!

I was sold since then. So now, I pop them in my handbag (with a flask of hot water) whenever I go out to do my errands, I take them travelling, and I leave them in my car, in case I ever find myself in need of an emergency coffee hit or – as I mentioned before – in need of some serious recharging!

Have you tasted them before? Do you drink coffee at home? How do you unwind and recharge?

If you’d like to try out the new NESCAFÉ Café Menu recipes, you can get a free sample for yourself at nescafe.com.au/sampling.


day of week

Pinching Myself

28 June 2015

Pink Sunset

It may be the middle of winter here in Perth, Western Australia… but the evening skies are simply magical!

I’m falling in love with the river all over again. And these last few weeks I’ve been making sure I fit in some running and cycling by the water!

Hope you all have a wonderful week ahead!


day of week

Say Hello to Mount Lesueur!

19 June 2015

Hello Mount Lesueur!

I know you’re not really a mountain… you’re more of a cute looking mesa (a flat-topped, elevated landform)… but you still gave us a fun afternoon!

Mount Lesueur, Lesueur National Park

During our recent camping holiday, our family and some friends took a drive to the Lesueur National Park.

We did a 4km return hike up Mount Lesueur, walking along the marked bush trail – it was really lovely!

To be honest, the park is not particularly famous for anything phenomenally iconic. It does boast of an exceptionally diverse range of flora (like 900 species!) which makes up 10% of the total floral known in Western Australia!

And er, if you look at the photo above, you’d probably need a very. keen. eye. to appreciate this “biodiversity hotspot”.

Anyway, so because of the very unique formation/location/conditions of the area, there are some species of plants that are absolutely unique to this area.

Meaning, that you won’t find them anywhere else in the WORLD!

Mount Lesueur, Lesueur National Park

This is the Djanda (Hakea Neurophylla) and according to the botany geeks, if you look at the leaves with the sun behind them, you’ll see a web of “nerves” from which the scientific name was derived.

SO COOL! I love this geeky stuff.

Mount Lesueur, Lesueur National Park

The bush tracks were covered with small rocks and sand, which made the hike accessible and interesting.

It can’t remember how long the whole 4km walk took us… maybe 2-3 hours, with a few breaks?

The other family that came with us have 5 year old twins… who walked (and sometimes ran) in pink sparkly sandals, with my 6 year old all the way to the top and back! It’s a fantastic mini-hike for families with small children.

This photo above shows my husband having some “man time” with one of my sons..

I spent some time with my other son, telling him about how it’s really important to walk on rocky ground so you can strengthen the vestibular system (motion, spatial orientation, balance) in your brain – *cue eye roll*!

Mount Lesueur, Lesueur National Park

Even though I’m a city girl, I really do LOVE all this outdoor adventuring under the big blue sky!


day of week

The Pinnalces of Western Australia

10 June 2015

When I was about 9 or 10, my family went with a tour group to look at The Pinnacles.

I didn’t think much of them at the time. I just thought they were a boring bunch of rocks in the sand!

And to be honest, nobody local ever talks about driving North for 3 hours to see The Pinnacles… because that’s what tourists do to experience a picturesque postcard version of Western Australia.

The Pinnalces, Western Australia. Nambung National Park

However, during our little trip up North, we stopped by the Nambung National Park to check out The Pinnacle Dessert… and it was AMAZING!!

I really enjoyed myself, the kids thought it was cool and my husband took so many great photos.

The Pinnalces, Western Australia. Nambung National Park

Around this Northern coastal region, all you will see are white sand dunes and low bush scrub. But right in the middle of it, The Pinnacle Dessert is a vast area of strangely yellow sand and lots of pointy rocks!

Apparently no one can agree to how these limestones structures were formed; some say that they are “tree casts”, others say they are “root casts” or even “pipes” of solution built up over the years… but they all agree that the structures are some crazy mix up of chemicals, limestone concrete, acid, and decay.

We were all so fascinated by the history and the science behind it.

The Pinnalces, Western Australia. Nambung National Park

They were weird and wonderful!

They were not very tall or monolithic, but the colours were beautiful, and the textures, shadows and shapes were just stunning. I reckon it is definitely worth the drive from Perth… if you’re into this kind of stuff!

There is a nice information centre there, but there is no cafe (just a vending machine).

So you might spend an hour there and then head into Cervantes or Jurien Bay for lunch.

Enjoy!


day of week

Jurien Bay, Western Australia

3 June 2015

Over the long weekend, we went camping with friends up at Jurien Bay, which is about a 3-hour drive North of Perth.

It was AMAZING!!

Here’s a little snippet of pictures from the trip…

Jurien Bay, Western Australia

WOW!! What an view!!

I was pinching myself. I was soooo happy to be alive!!

Jurien Bay, Western Australia

We stayed at the local caravan park, pitched a tent and spent most of the time hanging out at the beach.

We were so lucky with the weather. It was just spectacular!!

Jurien Bay, Western Australia

The kids loved all the big, open spaces.

They were constantly playing and laughing and up to all kinds of fun, crazy things.

Jurien Bay, Western Australia

Me sporting double denim at the beach yo.

Jurien Bay, Western Australia

The sand dunes were so much fun.

The sand was just beautiful… fine, soft, smooth and squeaky clean.

Jurien Bay, Western Australia

More silly antics!

Jurien Bay, Western Australia

Rock pools at another part of the bay.

Jurien Bay, Western Australia

Me and my two big boys. Thankfully they’re not taller than me yet and still a good cuddling size.

Jurien Bay, Western Australia

And… great coffee every morning from the Jurien Jetty Cafe!

Hope you managed to have a fabulous weekend too!

xxx


day of week

HBF Run for a Reason 2015

25 May 2015

So… I wasn’t really planning to do another running event this year!

I was just planning to work towards running longer distances and to increase my running stamina.

But the team at HBF asked me if I’d like to join in the fun at the HBF Run for a Reason and to do a bit of social media for them.

I accepted eagerly and committed myself to both the 12km distance and er… learning how to run and take photos at the same time??

Surely there’s an app for that.

HBF Run for a Reason 2015

So this was me, the day before the event, picking up my participant running pack at the HBF Event Centre at the Perth Arena.

I asked a HBF Volunteer (a girl on her morning tea break) to take my photo… and I was trying to think of some clever way I could change the word REASON with my silhouette.

But all I could think of was TREASON and RANSOM… and decided they weren’t very appropriate haha. So I was just went with a kind of generic “Y”.

HBF Run for a Reason 2015

On the morning of the run, I drove to my local train station and caught the train into the city. Participants were allowed free public transport all day. It was fast and easy.

There were thousands of other participants using public transport too, so the atmosphere of the city was buzzing with excitement.

The only downside of the early morning start was that it was so freaking cold!

I think it was 7-8C?? Thankfully the event had a special service where you can wear a jacket or jumper to the event, wear it for the 30-45 minutes while standing around soaking up the pre-event entertainment, and then leave it hanging on the railings at the start line, where it will be donated to charity!

For me, I clung onto every last bit of warmth from my jacket and waited till the *very last minute* to donate it.

HBF Run for a Reason 2015

And we were off!

Unfortunately when I tried to run and take photos, they turned out terribly blurry.

So this is my “stand still and get into people’s way” photo.

 

HBF Run for a Reason 2015

One of the things I looked forward to during this event… was to run through the Northbridge Tunnel (1.6km).

I have never done it before and it was just one of my little running aspirations for my own city. Yay!

Again, I had to stop and take this photo, because I definitely couldn’t run backwards and take snaps.

HBF Run for a Reason 2015

The whole event was dotted with photographers, TV cameras, cameras on cranes, camera drones… it was all quite exciting!

I spotted two of Perth’s coolest photographers (David Chong and David Broadway) camped by the side of the road. Ok yes, they were my mates, so I slowed down to take a photo of THEM at work.

In fact, I doubled back so I could do a silly slow-motion run for them to photograph.

I pretty much knew then, with all my stopping to take photos antics and uploading to socal media… that my running time for this event was going to be very average! Oh well!

HBF Run for a Reason 2015

The day cleared up and the sun came out.

It was such a beautiful day for a run next to the river!

HBF Run for a Reason 2015

I sprinted towards the finish line, but 10 metres before I crossed it… I stopped to take a photo haha!

Aaah in the end, it was so much fun. I really wasn’t concerned about my running time at all.

I was surrounded by so many people who laughed, cheered, skipped, sang. There were people in all shapes and sizes, young and old, all going different speeds, all getting out there, being active, raising money for a good cause – it was a really enjoyable day and a fantastic event to be a part of.

HBF Run for a Reason 2015
After the event, I was invited over to the corporate sponsor’s area for a VIP breakfast and massage.

That was veeeeery nice indeed! Thank you HBF!

For those interested in my running details…

I did a 12km running event in September last year (after I had a flu) and my running time was 1 hr 30 mins.

For this 12km run, including all my stops, my time was 1 hr 31 mins (which is a pace 7:35 min/km) – how funny!

Usually I run at a pace of 6:00 min/km, so it should have taken me 1 hr 12mins. So I have a small part of runner’s pride in me that is annoyed that these times are set in stone on the internet as my “official times” but as I said, I’m not too fussed about it.

In fact, I’m keen to do it again next year with my kids! And maybe we’ll dress up!

See you there next year :)

xxx


day of week

Brain Training with a Rubik’s Puzzle

19 May 2015

I’m very INTO brain training these days!

I know it’s a bit of a buzz word at the moment. But my father-in-law has been encouraging us to train our brains for the last 7-8 years, so I actually feel a bit slow to catch on.

Anyway… in the last year or so, I’ve gone back to reading literature, I’ve subscribed to brainy magazines, and started to tinker with music.

But my latest obsession is the Rubik’s Cube Puzzle.

Rubik's Puzzle

It started with my 10 year old son. He recently bought one with his birthday money and he watched some online videos on how to solve it.

I peeked over his shoulder and was amazed to find that you actually have to watch 6-7 VIDEOS, which were all about 8-10 minutes long!

I was intrigued.

So I sat down next to him and we watched them together.

We took notes, we drew diagrams, and we practiced.

Rubik's Puzzle

I am so, so, soooo pleased that I can solve a Rubik’s cube now!

It’s definitely one of those things I can say that I know how to do haha!

There are lots of steps involved and lots of moves to memorise.

I had to refer to my notes A LOT.

The first time I solved it completely, without looking at my notes, this was my record time:

Rubik's Puzzle Record

21 minutes!

Oh man it was painful. It hurt my brain. My neurons were definitely stretched in ways I never thought possible.

I did it 3 times… suddenly my lunch hour had passed in a snap and it was now time to pick up my kids from school.

Possibly not the best use of my time on my day off, but hey I guess it’s better than watching day time TV??

I practiced a bit every day… and after a few weeks, this is now my best record time:

Rubik's Puzzle Record

That’s right! 2 and a half minutes!

I’m so proud of my brain!

Yes, so just like learning how to make cupcakes, it won’t solve the world’s problems, but it’s a baby step towards having a higher functioning brain in my old age.

Plus it’s a great party trick.

(Btw I think the world record is 5.6 seconds!)


day of week

Feeling Alive on a Sunday Morning!

18 May 2015

Footy in the Rain

So this is how I spent my Sunday!

I was wearing 4 layers of clothes, rain boots, sitting on a camping chair, hiding under an umbrella… while watching my 10 year old boy play football in the pouring rain.

Ah the things we do for our kids.


day of week

Learning How to Make Pretty Cupcakes

14 May 2015

I have always wanted to be able to make kick-ass cupcakes!

I guess you could say, it has been one of my “personal goals” for a long time.

Sure, it’s not saving the world. It’s not learning a new language. But cakes can be expensive these days, and I’d love to be able to make gorgeous looking cakes or cupcakes for my friends and family.

Yes I know I have been making cupcakes for years (especially since having kids), but they never turn out consistently pretty. Which is why I want to up my skill.

Here are some of my baking notes:

Mother's Day 2015

I made some cupcakes for Mother’s Day on the weekend. They looked really cute!

I tried out a new recipe, but in my opinion, they tasted too dry.

I also think that I didn’t put enough batter in the cupcake case, so there’s too much of the case showing.

And next time I won’t make fondant shapes to go with a batch using sprinkle decorations.

Oh AND I think I’ll try piping the frosting next time. This flat-style just doesn’t cut it.

Vanilla Cupcakes

My second batch!

This is the first time I’ve tried piping with a proper piping bag and tip. It was quite easy and fun!

But I didn’t make enough frosting to cover all the cupcakes. So after I covered 3 cupcakes, I realised that I had to pipe less frosting, oops!

The cupcake recipe was only so-so. Still not completely happy with it.

Do you have an AMAZING cupcake recipe you can recommend to me?

I also experimented with the baking time, just so I could get that lovely golden brown top. But at the same time I may have dried out my cupcakes.

AND I used the wrong baking pan, so the cupcake cases folded in a bit and make them a little wonky – not a perfect circular shape.

Haha it sounds like I’m totally trashing myself!

But I don’t think I’m being negative. I’m being critical, taking notes and being mindful of how to improve next time.

I’m a bit like that with my kids. I tell them to – Research, set goals, work on skills, re-evaluate, improve, and practice, practice, practice!

Be thrilled by the learning journey, be determined to improve and celebrate the sweet success at the end!

If that sounds like a Tiger Mum, then so be it :)


day of week

My Best Crazy Moment This Week

8 May 2015

Once a week I play netball with my girlfriends at a local indoor sports centre.

Sometimes my game starts at 6:15pm. Other times it starts at 8:15pm or 8:55pm.

It’s a fantastic, high intensity workout!

No matter what time the game ends I always leave with a FABULOUS BUZZ.

One night, after a late game, I popped over to the supermarket to buy some bread and other bits and pieces.

Supermarket Dance

I had my earphones on, blasting through my workout tracks.

I was high on life.

I felt so youthful, happy and full of energy!

And with all those factors combined… I saw this ahead of me and I danced!!

Supermarket Dance

I was going up and down the aisles skipping to Taylor Swift and Katy Perry! Ha ha!

Have a fantastic weekend everyone.

xxx


day of week

Reading: I am Malala

4 May 2015

I am Malala

Earlier this year, I read the book I am Malala.

I was keen to find out more about Malala’s story, as I only knew of what I heard from the news; that she was a 16 year old Pakistani activist fighting for the rights of girls to have an education; that she had been shot in the head by the Taliban; that she won the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2014.

Honestly, I had wanted to read the book since it was released in 2013. But I felt a bit guilty and morbid that my interest was piqued by such a horrifying act (a young girl being shot in the head!). However on the other hand, I am fully aware that she is using her own story of survival and her new found fame to drive her very worthy cause and take it to a wider audience – to people on the other side of the world, like me.

So it was with that internal mix up of guilt, curiosity, and a desire to support her … that I went out and bought her book.

The book is a bit chopped up. There is a bit about the history of Pakistan and regional politics, which I found really fascinating and informative.

Then there are parts of the book with a more personal tone, where Malala speaks of her hometown in Swat Valley, her upbringing, her family, the everyday dramas they faced, the events leading up to the Tabilan invasion, the shooting, and her life after the shooting. I really enjoyed reading about all this too.

It is written in a very easy, simple, straight-forward style.

Overall it is interesting, inspiring and gave me lots of think about.

These were the main ideas that struck me the most.

Poverty
I understand poverty at an intellectual level, but I can’t handle it on an emotional level. The more I tried to absorb the kind of poverty Malala talked about in her book, the more I was rendered with a heart-gripping helplessness, sense of unworthiness and sadness… that made me consider selling all my possessions so that I wouldn’t feel the guilt of my own Western richness. I seriously couldn’t handle it. And I have no clue about what to do about it in a way that would even make a difference.

Her Attitude Towards Education
I loved that she loved to learn. That was very inspiring to read. I loved that education was so precious to her; Chemistry, algebra, geography, all of it.

Her Upbringing
I wanted to know… what kind of teenager feels so passionate and so driven, that she endangers herself and speaks up against the status quo of her country and government??

Well, her story points to her father. Her father was passionate about education and speaking out about human rights. Her father was a teacher. He built schools – many schools! He loved education. He loved helping people. He loved his country. He went to meetings with other community leaders in the middle of the night, to discuss politics and education and how to create a better future for his country.

So it was very heartening to see that she had followed that path too and has now made it her own.

As a parent, I read most of this book with a bursting pride in my heart. What an amazing young lady she is. I am so proud of her!

Finding a new home
After Malala was shot, she was brought to the UK for medical treatment. Weeks later, the rest of her family were also moved to the UK. Now they have a new home, they live in a comfortable little town house, with running water, supermarkets, education, safety, security, freedom. They pretty much have everything they could need or want. But they are alone; away from the rest of their family and their friends, away from a world that they know, and are comfortable.

I felt their gratefulness for their new home, but I also felt their disconnection, loss, emptiness and sadness from being away from their old home.

It gave me a bit of insight as to how refugees in a new country might feel.

And I am so deeply grateful that I live in a such a comfortable and prosperous place that I can call home.

East and West
Having been educated and lived most of my life in a Western society, I see nothing but inspiration and empowerment in Malala’s story.

But in Pakistan, I have heard that there are critics who speak out against her story and her “Western” ideals. They point out the hypocrisy and narrow-mindedness of her global supporters, who look past the bigger issues of conflict, history, politics, economics and war involving the West in the region. I’m no expert on the topic, but I do know that it’s extremely complicated… and that sometimes Western ideas are not always the solution.

Phew.

And that folks… is as heavy as I’m going to get on global politics on my fashion lifestyle blog ;)

The cover of the book is bright and modern. The publishers chose a wonderful photo of Malala. Her face and expression really said: Peace, confidence, looking past her troubles towards something greater than her own.

The book was a fascinating and easy read – I recommend it for everyone!


day of week

The Launch of Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea!

28 April 2015

Australia's Biggest Morning Tea - Launch

I was invited to the launch of this year’s Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea event.

Here I am with fellow fashionistas with a cause: Andrea Tonkin (stylist and blogger) and Rayne Embley (presenter and blogger, who was also the host for this launch event).

If you haven’t heard of it… the idea of the Biggest Morning Tea is to inspire people to host a morning tea, invite friends and family along, and raise money while sharing a cup of tea and treats!

The morning tea can be as big or as small as you want.

You can get super creative with decorations, table settings, all kinds of finger food, sweet treats and more!

It’s absolutely, right up my alley!

It’s a nice, simple fundraising idea, and it’s for a great cause.

You can find out more about it here, and sign up if you like.

If you need a few ideas, the website has a whole section dedicated to “Help for the Host”, including tips, downloadable resources… and of course, there is always Pinterest (Search for ‘Tea Party’) to get yourself incredibly excited and ambitious about hosting a tea party!

Australia's Biggest Morning Tea - Launch

The launch was held at The Shipping Lane, a very cool cafe over looking Leighton Beach (North Fremantle). They treated us to an amazing spread of scrumptious treats, and the coffee (a soy flat white) was just divine! I definitely have to go back soon to try a meal off their menu.

To end this post, I have to be a bit honest…

While I looked all chirpy and vibrant in my cute yellow dress, on the inside I was in a state of emotional fragility.

Cancer was very much on my mind. My good friend’s husband passed away from cancer earlier this month, leaving behind his wife and 3 young kids. I have no words to describe my grief for her and her family. I just have a lot of quiet tears, hugs and an urge to help in some way.

I spoke to lots of people at the event (and tried very hard not to cry). Everyone had a connection to cancer. Everyone had a story to tell. I also spoke to several cancer survivors, who told me about some services (provided by the Cancer Council) that they used during their treatment.

So I thought I’d share some of the ways your donations will help.

The Australian Cancer Council uses raised funds for:
Cancer Research
Patient Support Networks
Counselling services
Cancer nurses on a support line 13 11 20
Support groups and networks
Education groups, programs and information
Practical assistance, accommodation
Early detection and prevention programs

As I said, it’s a wonderful and worthwhile cause!


day of week

The Colour of Air Pollution

19 April 2015

Early on Sunday evening, I was in the kitchen making dinner for my family, when I noticed a strange light fill the room.

I looked over to my pantry door, to where my white linen apron was hanging.

My apron was glowing with an orange light.

It was a rich, luminescent orange that was out of this world!

I grabbed my camera to capture it.

Red Sun Light

Amazing! My apron is supposed to look white!

I called my kids over and we all oohed and ahhed over the bizarre colour.

We placed different objects in the beam of light (including our faces) and watched the colours change before our eyes.

We discovered that there had been controlled fires burning off north of the city that day, creating a huge plume of smoke that changed the colour of the setting sun.

We put on our shoes and headed straight to the park to check out the sunset.

Red Sun

It was eerie and abnormal.

I was torn between being astonished and being displeased – after all, we were admiring the effects of “necessary” air pollution.

So while I weighed my internal reaction towards the world’s global carbon emissions, my kids decided that the sun looked like a Star Wars planet.


day of week

Fish and Chips by the Beach

11 April 2015

Fish and Chips at Cottesloe

We love having fish and chips for dinner by the beach!

Our kids think it’s such a super-duper, special, sacred family tradition – similar to Christmas haha.

But really, everyone does it. It’s a very Australian thing.

And it’s possibly a bit more special for us West Australians, because we can actually watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean.

Cottesloe at Sunset, March 2015

Life is amazing here!

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

xxx


day of week

Fragipanis

4 April 2015

My husband is a sweetheart. But sometimes he’s a bit crazy, in a daggy, sweetheart kind of way.

Years ago he decided that he wanted our backyard to be full of frangipani plants, and in each colour available.

It was a long term project. He had to buy some plants in different colours, he knocked on people’s door asking for cuttings, we may have stolen a few cuttings. Then we had to grow the cuttings, wait for them to flower – which sometimes took years!

Finally, we have 4 colours which we are really happy with!

Frangipani White
White. This is the most common variety. They are hardy and so easy to grow; just stick a branch cutting in a bucket of sand, and water it every now and then!

Even though you see these white  fragipanis everywhere, I still adore how fresh and happy they look!

Frangipani Pink

So many people ask for a cutting of our pink fragipani tree, and we happy to give them. But they are really difficult to grow and sometimes it takes 3 years to flower, and most of the time they look like a dead stick in a pot.

Frangipani Orange

Vibrant orange/pink/yellow. Crazy mixture of colours, I don’t know if they are orange or yellow sometimes.

Frangipani Dark Red

Oh these are my favourite! Deep, dark pink. They look so moody.

We still have an orangey-red one which we are hoping to flower soon!


day of week

Dictation

26 March 2015

The other day I was waiting to pick up my kids from school, sitting in my parked car, when I realised that my head was about to explode, because I had all this shit (stories, half sentences, ideas and thoughts – did you see that? I made an acronym!) swirling around in my head, and if I didn’t write it down, I knew I would forget them.

So I fiddled around with my smart phone and I decided that the quickest way to do this… was to use the dictation function to “write down” some of my sentences.

I’ve never dictated my writings before. I’ve always found it awkward and unnatural.

The idea of dictating my raw, unedited thoughts to another human being… just terrifies me haha!

Anyway, so I pressed RECORD and suddenly… I was speechless.

“Uuuh. Uuuumm. Yeah. Hello? Ok. Right. I shall start: I was going to say… hang on. Is this recording? Yup. OK, as I was trying to say….”

(So awkward right?)

After a while, I got the hang of it.

I spoke, and my smart phone took my speech, turned it into words and automatically typed it out.

It was quite fun! The actual dictation software wasn’t very good though. I’m guessing my Australian accent got lost in some of the translations?

I did a lot of self editing too.

“…blah blah blah. Ugh, no, I didn’t want to say that! What I meant to say was… Blah blah blah. Hang on, back up a bit. Scratch that last thing. Oh my god I sound like an idiot! That was a terrible sentence! Do I even speak English? You know what I mean, don’t you? OK what was I saying again?”

For someone who has spent the last 15 years writing stories online with a personal and casual voice, I didn’t expect to be so terrible at dictating them out loud!

I guess, with everything, it just takes a little practice!


day of week

Two wrongs don’t make a right!

23 March 2015

Nike Sneakers

I needed to buy my boys some new running shoes. So what did I do?

I took ALL THREE KIDS out to the shops with me, of course – what on earth was I thinking?!?!

The result?

Two Right Feet

When we got home, I realised that I had grabbed TWO RIGHT SHOES for Child 1.

For Child 2, we couldn’t find the exact brand/style/colour/size shoe of his liking, so he came away empty handed.

And for Child 3, I had grabbed a box with Size 11 shoes, but inside had Size 10 shoes?

Ugh.

Parent fail. Shopping fail. Whole day wasted.

(Shoes from RebelSport)


day of week

Ravioli Parcels

17 March 2015

Ravioli Parcels

As a result of his outrageous, online book shopping habit, my husband received a few books in the mail.

The delivery guy handed them to me, I plonked them onto the kitchen counter… and I noticed that they looked like very large ravioli!

Ha ha! I crack myself up sometimes!


day of week

Flatlay Food Art

10 March 2015

Flatlay Breakfast

If you follow me on Instagram (@karenlycheng) you might have seen a few of my food flatlays.

This birds-eye view photographic style on a white background works for me, because it’s so simple and quick for me to do!

When I cook, I already have all this stuff cluttering my benchtop, my pantry and my cooktop… so I just plonk my white board onto the floor (right at the foot of my kitchen counter), arrange all the bits and pieces around and take a snap.

It’s like painting on a canvas! I make a huge mess! It’s so much fun!

Flatlay Crumb Chicken

This was my lunch one afternoon. Crumbed chicken breast with some salad and almonds.

Flatlay Crumb Chicken

And this is what the mess looked like from a wider angle! Open packets, containers, lids… all over the floor!

Flatlay Anzac Slice

I recently shared an Anzac Slice Recipe for School Lunchboxes on my blog… and this is the slice, 10 minutes fresh from the oven.

I also arranged other bits and pieces that I was about to pack into my children’s lunchboxes. It was 7am and my kids thought I was quite weird.

They said stuff like, “Are you putting all that food on the floor? Then you’re going to put it in our lunchbox??” But I just ignored them because I was having fun and I was in my creative zone yo.

Flatlay Plum Crumble

And this is the Maple Plum Crumble that I made the other week.

It was early in the evening and there was a slight shadow on the left side of the photo, so I grabbed another white board and propped it against a chair to bounce a bit more light onto the objects.

This may not be “true painting” but it certainly satisfies my spontaneous creative itch – which makes me insanely happy!

Do follow me at @karenlycheng to see some of my other recent food art ;)

xxx


day of week

PJ Sundays at the Cott & Co Fish Bar

8 March 2015

PJ Sundays at Cott & Co Fish Bar

The Cott & Co Fish Bar, overlooking Perth’s Cottesloe Beach, welcomes a new and stylish kind of Sunday session, called PJ Sundays.

When I received the invite to the launch, I was slightly confused. Huh? I have to wear my PJs? Pyjamas and champagne – that’s an interesting combination?

Oh right! It took me a few seconds to realise they were talking about the famous French Champagne Perrier-Jouët – ooo how fancy!

PJ Sundays at Cott & Co Fish Bar

Oh my. This is me, sipping champagne, eating oysters and watching the glorious sun set over the Indian Ocean.

I’m not a big drinker, but I can say – hands down – that this was definitely a bit magical.

Thankfully I was smart enough NOT to wear my pyjamas.

PJ Sundays at Cott & Co Fish Bar

I wore my new Keepsake ‘To The End’ Mini Marble Dress from Universal Store, bangle from Wanderlust + Co, Alexander Wang heels from Forward by Elyse Walker , and Marc Jacobs Bag from Yesstyle.

Thank you to Cott & Co for the invite!