Archive for Daily Living

 

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Finding That Child-Like Joy

10 December 2017

Santa's Magical Kingdom 2017

Last week I was kindly given VIP Tickets to see Santa’s Magical Kingdom at the Crown Pyramid, Perth!

I dragged my kids for a fun – and rare – evening out.

There were interactive walk-throughs (with lots of falling fake snow!), lots of carnival rides (roller coaster, spinning things, bumper cars, sky flyer, spinning teacups and more), an extravagant Christmas show, gingerbread decorating, Christmas craft, super-sized bouncy castle, inflated mega-slide, and roaming Christmas characters.

What made it great was that you paid for the ticket entry once and you didn’t need to pay for any activities again.

There were lots of things to do inside and the 3 hour entry duration was just perfect.

The only extra things you have to pay for are food, sideshow games, or photos with Santa.

Santa's Magical Kingdom 2017

Yes my kids were probably a little old for it (especially my 15yo and 13yo), but I encouraged them to forget about “looking cool / acting cool” and just enjoy the moment.

They had a blast!!

I was so happy my kids could still find a child-like joy and have some silly fun.

Santa's Magical Kingdom 2017

There were lots of rides and my kids found a certain pleasure going on the rides again and again and again until they couldn’t walk properly.

Santa's Magical Kingdom 2017

The Christmas show was pretty good too.

We had amazing seats, right in front, but it made us feel terribly afraid that a performer might pick us out to be a “stage volunteer” for one of their acts.

There were lots of circus performers, acrobats, cute little dogs doing tricks and….

santa20Santa's Magical Kingdom 201717-05

Three guys on motorcycles driving around the inside of a globe, at the same time!

My kids had never seen anything like that before, up close. It was very cool to watch.

Santa's Magical Kingdom 2017

Lastly, I had to follow my own advice, about having child-like fun.

My kids pressured me into going on this Sky Flying Ride.

If you’re a long time reader, you’ll know that I’m VERY susceptible to motion sickness. I get dizzy if I’m in the backseat of a car! I get dizzy on my own office chair!

Santa's Magical Kingdom 2017

So here I am, next to my middle boy, who is just as prone to motion-sickness as I am.

My older boy and younger boy were seated behind us, photobombing our in-air selfie.

Santa's Magical Kingdom 2017

Looking down into the carpark below!

Oooh myyyy gosh, I got really dizzy, but it was a lot of fun + laughs. We took a lot of selfies and videos to distract us from spewing (just kidding).

Big thanks to the Santa’s Magical Kingdom team. It was such a fun night with my boys. I totally recommend it!

 

Santa’s Magical Kingdom
1 – 23 December 2017
Crown Pyramid
www.santasmagicalkingdomperth.com.au

Frequently Asked Questions here (ticket prices, times, parking, show time start etc)

 


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Exploring the City of Perth Christmas Lights Trail

1 December 2017

(Brought to you by the City of Perth)

City of Perth Christmas 2017

The City of Perth recently launched their The City at Christmas program and invited me to check it out. It sounded fantastic, because I’m always up for fun + free things for my family to see and do!

I love visiting the city during this time. The whole area comes alive with lights, decorations, activities, colour and music. And in the last few years, they’ve really struck a good thing by bringing in food markets, hawker food stalls, farmer’s markets, craft markets and open-air movies, appealing to a wide audience.

This year, the City of Perth have lots of brand new Christmas events, in particular the new “Christmas Lights Trail” featuring 16 light installations, spread throughout the city.

It comes with a map (download here), to encourage exploring around the city.

I knew my kids would love it, so I dragged them out to go exploring one evening! (Only took two kids, as the third had something else on).

City of Perth Christmas 2017

This is the Giant Bauble on Murray Street Mall. During the day it looks a bit lifeless, but once the sun sets and the lights come on, it’s quite cool.

It’s a great place for photos and selfies with the family.

My first photo in this post (scroll up!) showed the Christmas Lights Tunnel in The Piazza, Northbridge. It’s a 24m tunnel made with over 5km of lights.

That was a really awesome installation too.

City of Perth Christmas 2017

Our next favourite would have to be the Christmas Constellation in Forrest Place. It’s a huge array of dangling lights, in a cylindrical shape, that changes colour and animates to music. It is SO pretty and very mesmerising to watch.

As you can see, I took a lot of photos of the cool colours and I couldn’t choose which I liked the most.

City of Perth Christmas 2017

After that we walked from Forrest Place and headed towards St Georges Terrace.

My kids insisted we stop at the 7-Eleven (corner of Hay and Barrack) to pick up a few $1 Slurpees, and we made our way to Cathedral Square to view the Christmas Projections at St George’s Cathedral.

City of Perth Christmas 2017

This was definitely my favourite light installation. It was cute, soothing, happy and playful.

I loved the contrasting dark shadows created by the architecture.

There were so many people sitting on the grass, taking photos and enjoying the animated projections. It was a lovely atmosphere.

City of Perth Christmas 2017

Then immediately across the road, opposite the Cathedral was the Council House Lights display. It uses 20,000 LED lights to animate the colours of the rainbow.

I’ve seen this display before, but I still love it because it looks so happy and cheerful.

My Visit Plan

As I mentioned before, there are 16 installations, spread out all over the city, so it’s quite a walk. Here’s the map for downloading.

I actually went into the city the day before to plan my night walk, to see all the installations, to pick out which ones were worth coming back to photograph, and which my kids would like. I did the whole walk and I was pretty tired by the end, especially after carrying all my camera gear.

So this is what I did:

I parked at the State Library CPP Car Park (in the Perth Cultural Centre) at 7pm.

We walked into Northbridge to grab some take away dinner (chicken kebabs) and went to see the Christmas Lights Tunnel (as shown in the first photo of my post)

Then we walked to Forrest Place, where there were about 5 installations. We walked to Cathedral Square, picked up some dessert along the way, sat on the grass outside the cathedral to eat our dessert and chill out.

We probably could have seen more, but we were pretty tired and we had to walk back to the car. By the time I got back to my car, it was 9pm.

It was such a fun and novel evening for us (especially on a school night!) and my kids loved it.

City of Perth Christmas 2017

(This was one of the installations I didn’t take my kids to. It was the Giant Christmas Tree at Brookfield Place. It was pretty and stylish, but it wasn’t interactive.)

More information about the Christmas Lights Trail here:
https://www.visitperthcity.com/christmas

Christmas Carnival

Another new event for The City at Christmas program will be the Christmas Carnival at Forrest Chase, which features kiddie rides and activities.

It is a free event on Saturday 9 Dec and Sunday 10 Dec, recommended for children aged up to 10 years old. There will be fiesta balloons, merry go round, ferris wheel, human soccer table, mega-trampolines and craft workshops.

There will also be street entertainers, and food and produce market stalls set up all along the Murray St Mall, so you can grab a treat too.

More information here:
https://www.visitperthcity.com/events/christmas-carnival

City of Perth Christmas 2017

Santa in the City Competition

I also want to share that the City of Perth are running a cool Instagram competition to win a prize pack – an overnight stay at Crowne Plaza Perth (for family of four), $250 H&M voucher and Pottery Barn stockings.

Simply pick up a free cardboard “Santa on a stick” from the iCity Kiosk (Forrest Chase), take a picture of him doing something around the city, such as Santa hanging out at Elizabeth Quay, eating sushi in Northbridge or enjoying the view at Kings Park. The more creative the better!

Make sure you use the hashtag #santainperthcity to enter. Competition closes 15 Dec 2017. Pop over to visitperthcity.com for more information, full terms and conditions and boundaries of the City of Perth.

And hey, if you’re doing the Christmas Lights Trail, check out the Instagram hashtag #TheCityatChristmas and have fun!

xxx


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What Goes In

20 November 2017

 

The Picture of Dorian Gray

I recently finished reading The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and I didn’t realise it was such a dark and sad book. Brilliantly written, but so sad when you consider how Wilde’s real life turned out.

As I moved on to my next book, I made a decision to unsubscribe to almost all my Facebook news feeds and reduce my social media time.

I just wanted to read more books this year. And I felt that I was being distracted and sucked in by “online reading”, which isn’t like book reading at all, because I don’t remember anything I’ve read, even though I was “online reading” for 3 hours?!

I’m a believer of being “very selective with my input”.

Referring to: all the things that enter my head, mind and spirit.

It includes everything from TV shows, movies, youtube videos, sensationalised news, click-bait articles, Facebook comments, instagram feeds, to people, conversations, relationships and friendships.

Basically I try to stay away from things that are negative, toxic, destructive, needlessly over-dramatic and pointless.

I seriously don’t have time for that.

In my 20s, I wanted to experience everything! I experimented, explored and exposed myself to so much!

But now (I’m sure it comes with age) I am so precious with my time, my mind, my energies.

I try to focus on things that are important.

My family, my health, my friends, my relationships, my projects, my passions… and how I’m going to live the next 40-50 years of my life!

So here’s to 5 more decades of not being a slave to Facebook!


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Reusable Shopping Bags for Groceries and Produce!

17 November 2017

Reusable Shopping Bags

This is a slightly different topic for me.

​This post isn’t sponsored, I’m just excited to share about something kind of cool, that’s NOT about clothes… um, but it’s still about shopping!

For the last 10 years I’ve been a believer in re-usable shopping bags for my grocery shopping.

I’ve tried so many types: Canvas bags, papery cloth bags, material bags, string bags.

In the past, I “invested” in 6-8 bags at a time and tried to use them as diligently as I could. Most times I would forget to take them along on my grocery shopping trip. Or I just couldn’t be bothered because they were so big and cumbersome to carry around.

This is what I use now. And I’m pretty good at remembering to take them along with me now.

Reusable Shopping Bags

Those rolled up green and black things are reusable shopping bags from Woolworths. Even though I usually shop at Coles (it’s closer to my home) I’ve found that these bags work best for me. I’ve been using them for the last 5 years.

I can’t find these reusuable shopping bags on the Woolworths website, but they sell them in-store at the checkouts. They are about $8 or $9 for a pack of 8 bags.

The string bag is something I bought from the markets a few years ago and I just use it to carry all my bags. A bag of bags!

I found the string bag to be a bit impractical, because they are too big for produce, and too “delicate” for regular shopping items. Plus they were a bit expensive for each bag.

Reusable Shopping Bags

Best features – They are small when rolled up. Each bag has a little elastic band that keeps it rolled up. I can easily fit about 8-10 of them in my regular handbag.

Best tip – Buy a lot of them so you can use them all the time. I own about 20 at the moment, I always leave 2 at the bottom of my handbag, 10 in my car, 4 in my second handbag and there are about 4 hanging around my house and pantry.

They are super strong and they can fit A LOT stuff in them (more than a regular plastic bag). They are easy to wash too.

If I do a large grocery shop, spending about $250, I use about 6 reusable shopping bags.

Reusable Shopping Bags

This is my petite A.P.C handbag (which is about 23 cm x 18cm) and my iPhone 6 plus (which is about 16cm x 8cm), next to 4 rolled up shopping bags. They are very compact!

Reusable Shopping Bags

Ok this is what I’m more excited about, as I bought them last month.

They are reusable produce bags from Flora and Fauna (I recently discovered this cool site for all kinds of eco-friendly and natural products.)

I bought the ONYA Produce Bag 8 Pack, which are made from recycled PET drinking bottles. They are 30cm x 25cm (a little bigger than an A4 piece of paper) and hold up to 2kg produce.

So far, 8 bags have been enough, but I might buy another set in a larger size, mix them up and leave a set in my car, because yup, I’ve forgotten to take them with me a few times.

Plus they tend to get a bit dirty/mucky, so I’ve been washing them, hence they are not available to be used.

I love using them! And I feel so good using them, knowing I’m reducing the world of a couple of plastic produce bags each week!

(If you do happen to buy via my link, I do get a little commission for the referral.)

Happy shopping for bags for your shopping haha!

xxx


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Volunteering for Cancer Research

26 October 2017

So, you all know how I love to mix things up in life …?

Well this is how I spent my weekend – in a frog suit, being a volunteer for a fundraising event for cancer research haha!

Ride To Conquer Cancer 2017 - Volunteering

Back in 2012 and 2013, I participated in The Ride To Conquer Cancer, cycling 200km over two days.

It’s a pretty big and amazing event, with each year raising about $4 million – $5 million.

The event has a special place in my heart, so every year I make an effort to volunteer to support the event.

You can see all my blog posts about it here.

Ride To Conquer Cancer 2017 - Volunteering

I hooked up with my old team and we all dressed up in onesies.

They hired a couple of Mini Mokes (which look like jeeps), decorated them with streamers, installed an epic sound system and we drove around to cheer and help the participants.

I found all my volunteer gear from the previous years – even my big cat eye sunglasses.

We were on our feet from 5am and we were on the job for about 10 hours each day.

It was absolutely exhausting, but not as bad as cycling 200kms and definitely not as bad as going through chemo.

This was me, sitting in the backseat, next to Captain America, travelling at 40km with the wind in my hair.

Ride To Conquer Cancer 2017 - Volunteering

(There were 8 of us in total, but I can’t find a pic of all of us.)

Pretty much everyone I met, a cyclist or volunteer, had a story about having lost a mum, dad, husband, wife, sister, brother or child to cancer. Yep, it was pretty sobering. But everyone was in this together, with one resolve, giving 110%. It was the best feeling ever.

This year there were 855 riders and we raised $4.1 million!

If you’re keen to participate for next year, here’s the link to the Perth Ride to Conquer Cancer site.

There’s also a similar event in Melbourne and Brisbane too.


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Getting Started in Philanthropy

23 October 2017

Impact100 WA

Hi everyone!

This year I’ve embarked on a new project. It’s a personal endeavour, rather than a blog sponsorship.

I’ve come to a point in my life where I really want to give back. Not just with money, but with energy and time too.

I didn’t want it to take over my life. Because my life is pretty busy already, with me juggling motherhood, a freelance business, working from home and on-going home renovations.

Basically I wanted a new project with a bit more meaning and purpose; something that makes the world a better place; something that allows me to be helpful and effective to make a small difference, using my skills, time, energy and brains.

I guess you can say I’ve embraced philanthropy.

What does that even mean?!

How does one even do something like that?

I’ve discovered that it’s not as scary (or time consuming) as it sounds.

Earlier this year I joined a group called Impact100 WA. It is a West Australian philanthropic giving group, donating high impact $100K grants to not-for-profits to make a difference in the local community.

The concept is pretty simple. There are 100 members, each member donates $1000, which becomes a $100K grant. Not-for-profit organisations send in their applications. There is a rigorous assessment process to select the Top 10 applications, then there is another round of assessments to choose the Final 5. At the end of the year, all the memebers come together to vote where the money goes.

We have been running for 6 years now. Our membership has grown and in the last few years and we have given away TWO $100K grants and lots of minor grants of at least $5,000 each.

As a member you can be as active and hands on as you like. You can simply donate the money and then vote at the end of the year; or you can get your hands dirty, join a committee, volunteer to be part of the assessment process, get to know the charities they’ve supported in the past, volunteer for winning charities, meet some likeminded and inspiring people in your local community and more.

For me, I wanted to get my hands dirty!

I volunteered to be on a committee – so I’ve been busy busy busy.

It has been truly rewarding.

I have gotten to know some pretty amazing charities and not-for-profits in WA.

I hear about what they do, who they help, how they help, how they’ve used the little resources they have to do what they do… and I am floored. I get teary every time. I am humbled and deeply proud that I am somehow connected to these people. I am filled with inspiration, meaning and an urge to help.

Impact100 WA, with Nicola Forrest

I’ve also met our lovely patron, Nicola Forrest, CEO of Minderoo Foundation, who is fantastically inspiring and full of great stories and practical advice on how to impart the culture of giving to future generations.

Anyway, tomorrow night is the night we vote for our TWO winners!

At the moment we have 5 finalists. They and their proposed projects all sound pretty amazing. I have my eye on my favourite – the charity that moves me the most. You can read about them here.

I hope to be sharing a bit about all of these not-for-profits on my blog over the next few months. And I plan to do some volunteering for them too.

If you’re keen to join us for next year, in whatever capacity, it’s pretty easy.

Head over to their website to find out more!

And follow us on our Facebook page to keep in touch!


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My Skin Journey: After 6 Months

11 October 2017

Hi everyone!

Months ago I shared the start of my 30s skin journey – I talked about seeing a dermatologist, discovering the amazing results of prescription Vitamin A and I chose not to have any laser done.

Instead of laser, I decided to have Collagen Induction Therapy (CIT) for my acne scars at Iconic Medispa in South Perth.

Here’s my initial blog post about CIT, where I explain the details of the treatment and my experience of the whole process.

For me, blemishes, redness and pigmentation were easy to cover up with makeup. So I wanted to target my acne scars, large pores and skin texture – but my overall results were soooo much better than I expected.

I never thought I’d be one to put such close up photos of my face on my blog, but there you go.

Everyone (including me) loves a good before and after photo!

Results are everything!

(more…)


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10 Things: How I Make Time to Read

6 October 2017

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Phew I finally finished reading Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. I’ve been reading it for 7 months haha!

In that time I also managed to read 2 other books though.

My thoughts: Wacky and quirky. First 2/3 was veeeery slooooow to get through. Last 1/3 was absolutely brilliant. It was so so funny and wicked at the end. I burst out laughing so many times (I almost never do that!).

Why did I read it?

I think I mentioned this before. I’m trying to read more classic literature – because I like reading, because FOMO, and because I scroll through so much crap on the internet, I really need to do something tricky and challenging for my brain.

I’m working my way down a “Best Novels of All Time” list. Actually I’m picking my way through the list.

My husband read this novel in high school, this was his copy, and it was on our shelf.

I tend to alternate a Classic Novel with a Modern Novel. I haven’t had much luck with the modern novels though.

So this is how I fit more reading into my life:

1) I just aim to read 2 pages every night. Sometimes I will read 2 pages or sometimes 16 page. Occasionally I’ll read 1/2 of a novel in one sitting.

2) Carry a book in my car or my handbag. While I’m waiting for someone (my kids) or something to finish (sports training), instead of being on my phone, I try to read a few pages of my book.

3) Leave books lying around the house. I like to make cute stacks. I like to collect nice cover editions.

4) Fill my spare moments with reading. When I’ve got a few minutes up my sleeve, I try to make a point to NOT reach for my smartphone, and reach for my book instead.

5) Read the book before I watch the movie. As a result, I have not watched a lot of movies haha.

6) Track my reading with Goodreads. It’s so good! I can track when I start a book and which books I’ve read in what order. It’s like tracking my running.

7) Read while doing something else that I like doing. I like to drink coffee, tea and eat snacks haha.

8) Join a bookclub or make book-nerd friends. Ok I’m not in a bookclub. But I have friends who read a lot. So I’m constantly swapping books or talking about books. And my husband is a total book-nerd too.

9) Buy cool books. I like buying books, especially from op-shops. I’m totally addicted to scoring a winning book for $2.

10) Make a list. My To-Read list is a combination of “Best books of all time”… “Best Books of 19th / 20th Century”… “Award winning books” and “Oprah’s Recommendations”.

What am I reading now?

Last year I read 13 books (a record for me!) you can see my up-to-date reading list here. Please join and be my friend on Goodreads (do I sound desperate? that’s because I am! I want to know what everyone is reading right now!)

This year I’ve only read 6 so far, but I’m cool with that.

I’ve started to read The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I’m only a few chapters in and it is an amazing read so far. I’m actually find it humourous at the moment, because it draws so many parallels with the modern day obsession with the Selfie and Instagram?!


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Review: Sudio Wireless On-Ear Headphones

30 September 2017

Brought to you by Sudio Sweden

Travelling with Sudio Regent

A couple of weeks ago, I headed off for a girls weekend by the beach!

I planned to have a few hours to myself before meeting my girlfriends, so I packed a few essential items for some ME TIME – yippee!

It was extra fun because I was able to test out my new Wireless On-Ear Headphones sent to me for review by the kind folk at Sudio Sweden.

I ended up in a cafe over looking the beach. I sipped on a coffee, put my feet up, and sat back with a book and my headphones. It was so good!

Style and Price

Firstly these headphones look great. They have a retro / minimal / sleek feel to them, which I adore.

They don’t look ultra-modern, or straight from a sci-fi, space movie, which I don’t adore.

They are priced at AUD $129, which sits nicely between “cheap and cheerful” and “OMG $600 for a pair of headphones are you kidding me??”.

The price also makes it a nice gift.

What’s the Sound Quality Like?

Let me just put this out there. I’m no tech reviewer. And I have never worn a pair of super high-quality, on-ear, wireless headphones before, so I don’t actually know what to compare it with. If you’re a music or sound expert, feel free to poo-poo me.

However I have worn cheap $30 on-ear headphones from Target… and even I think they are just terrible for their sound quality.

These Sudio headphones are far far faaaaaaar better than those $30 headphones. These are amazing! My music sounds great!

If this is $129 worth of sound quality, how can the sound get any better than this?? I’d be very interested to hear what $600 of sound quality is like?! This sounds pretty good to me. I’m pretty happy with the quality.

Travelling with Sudio Regent

Material Quality

The head phones and head band are both padded and covered by a soft leatherette kind of material that feels really nice, smooth and soft to touch.

The head band is adjustable. They are very comfortable to wear. The ear phones collapse and fold inwards to make it more compact for storage. The ear caps are interchangeable. The parts move nicely and smoothly. The whole thing feels like a good quality, stylish product.

Everyday Usage

Once I read the instructions (two sentences!), they were very easy to use and pair up to all my devices via bluetooth.

They are very easy to transport. I just threw them into my bag and off I went. The don’t have any shiny surfaces, so I’m not worried about them getting scratched.

Apparently they have a 24 hour battery life, but I haven’t actually tested that, as I always keep them charged.

They are great for when I work on the computer at home. It blocks out so much more noise than my regular ear pods! I can’t hear my kids! It’s great!

The headband is nice and firm, so they don’t flip off if I walk or move or bend down to pick something off the ground.

Cons

I’m struggling to find some fault in these headphones….

Perhaps after wearing them for a long time, I find that I’m not used to the pressure of the headphones over my ears and I feel a bit light headed? But that’s because I have sensitive inner ears. So probably not a concern for most people.

Best thing about them:

Nothing says “Do Not Disturb” like a pair of over-ear headphones haha!

Special Discount

The lovely team at Sudio have given me a 15% off discount to share with my readers.

Simply use the coupon code “KARENLYCHENG” at the checkout. Express Shipping is FREE worldwide.

So with my code, these headphones will only cost AUD $110, which is pretty sweet.

These headphones are called “Regent” and come in black and white.

Hope you find this review to be helpful!

Enjoy!

xxx


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A Helicopter Ride and Lunch in Dunsborough

5 September 2017

Last weekend, 5 of my girlfriends and I went on a girls only weekend in Yallingup (beautiful coastal town in the South West).

We stayed in a lovely house, which belonged to one of my friend’s mum, with spectacular views overlooking the ocean.

Most importantly, we did a whole lot of NON-MUM things like:

– ZERO cooking.
– Ate cheese for dinner.
– Slept in.
– Winery lunch.

We also had a last minute helicopter ride before lunch!!?

Helicopter Ride, Dunsborough

My other friend’s brother-in-law is a helicopter pilot and owns a helicopter (as you do). He was in the area that weekend and wondered if we wanted a joy ride?!

It could only fit 3 passengers, so we split into 2 groups. My friend Lucy and I had to play “Scissors Paper Rock” to see who would sit in the front seat haha!

I won. But somehow her photos turned out so much better than mine, as I had a lot of reflection from all the glass.

Helicopter Ride, Dunsborough

We took off from Dunsborough and flew south, towards Gracetown on the coast. We went past Canal Rocks, Sugarloaf Rock, The Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse and over Dunsborough town.

Yup, it was pretty amazing!!!

Helicopter Ride, Dunsborough

I have been in a hot air ballon before (read my blog post here) and I’ve also had hands-on flying experience in a small airplane (blog post here – omg such a fun read, if I do say so myself).

This helicopter ride was much different. It was faster, noisier, we covered more area, I felt much more agile in the air, and I was able to see so much more. Because there was so much glass, I felt like my body was flying through the air. I felt closer to the ground and like I could reach out and touch stuff.

It was a once in a lifetime experience!

Helicopter Ride, Dunsborough

Amazing arial view of Canal Rocks!

This photo taken by my friend, on her iPhone.

The helicopter ride took about 30 minutes. I think it was long enough for me, as I was getting a bit motion sick at the end.

Cullens Winery 2017

After that, we drove over to Cullen Winery to enjoy a late lunch, dessert and coffee.

Then we went back to the house, where I sat back on the couch to read until sunset, while a few of my girlfriends went for a walk, and much later, we ate cheese for dinner haha.

It was such an awesome day! It was definitely one of those pinch me moments, where I was so thankful and grateful to all the lovely, generous and soul-healing people in my life! xxx

Cullen Winery 2017


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Sneak Peek: Uluru Base Walk

19 August 2017

Uluru Base Walk 2017

I’m still trying to edit all my photos from our family trip to Uluru.

I thought I’d share this beautiful photo I took during our walk along the base of Uluru.

Although most of the walk was around the outside of the rock, there were some parts where the path allowed visitors to come up close and “inside” it.

It was absolutely magical!


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The Great Mouse Invasion of 2017

11 August 2017

Mouse Invasion of 2017

So this is the reason why things have been a bit quiet on the blog these last few weeks.

We have mice in our house.

(Not cute plush ones. Real ones.)

We came home from our 4 week trip away… and my son discovered that he had left a zip lock bag of almonds in his school bag. The bag was shredded up and instead of almonds, there was a whole lot of mouse poo.

There was mouse poo everywhere in the house!

Inside ALL THREE of my children’s cupboards, the mice had made several nests in their clothes, in the boxes, in the blankets, in the lego boxes, in the teddybear and toy boxes.

Every single shelf, box and cupboard had mouse poo, so every shelf, box and cupboard had to be cleaned.

Bedroom 1. Bedroom 2. Bedroom 3. Games room.

So much cleaning! So much disinfecting! So much laundry!

It’s been 3 weeks since returning home and we have only caught 8 mice so far. There are more, but they are the smart ones who know how to steal food from the traps without setting them off.

I wish I could have a break from all the cleaning, but this morning I opened my pantry and caught a tiny whiff of a peculiar smell, which didn’t smell like anything I was familiar with.

Which means I’ll have to clean my pantry from top to bottom, ugh.

What are your plans for the weekend?


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28 Day Central Australia Road Trip, Part 1 – Perth, Kalgoorlie, Menzies, Lake Ballard, Leonora, Laverton, Warburton, Warakurna

8 August 2017

Uluru Road Trip 2017

Hi everyone!

My husband and I took thousands of photos during our trip around Central Australia and it was quite a feat to go through them all. So I’m just sharing the highlights with you all!

We went with two friends and their two kids (twins aged 6), while our kids were ages 14, 12 and 8.

Our friends are planning a yearlong trip around Australia, so this was a “trial” trip for them – we were just tagging along! Sort of! They were the ones who spent an incredible amount of time doing all the reading, research and planning for places to go, places to camp, routes to take, things to see, maps to print out, equipment to take, etc etc.

We travelled in two 4WD Toyota Prados, one towing a camper trailer (theirs) and one with a regular trailer (ours).

Uluru Road Trip 2017

Day 1 – We left Perth drove and about 6 hours to Coolgardie (just East of Kalgoorlie).

Since we had kids, we had lots of toilet stops and a long lunch stop to stretch our legs, so we were on the road for about 8 hours.

Uluru Road Trip 2017

We used an app called, WikiCamps to find ourselves a roadside, campsite in the bush.

It wasn’t an official campsite and it had no water, electricity, toilets, showers or anything. It was just a nice patch of dirt amongst some bushes. We made sure we left the place as it was and took all our rubbish away.

It was kind of fun, we felt like we had the whole outback to ourselves.

Uluru Road Trip 2017

Day 2 – We drove into Kalgoorlie and stopped to see the Super Pit, Australia’s second largest open cut gold mine. It’s about 3.5km long, 1.5km wide and about 600m deep.

It was humongous and rather horrifying to think about it’s ecological impact.

Uluru Road Trip 2017

We hung out at Hammond Park in Kalgoorlie.

It was a fantastic playground for kids – lots of green grass, picnic areas, shade, climbing things, sculptures, a pond, a kiosk and an aviary.

Uluru Road Trip 2017

There was a large emu enclosure with some beautiful emus and peacocks.

And there were some cages with talking cockatoos – my kids had never heard a bird say “Hello” and it kind of BLEW. THEIR. MINDS.

Uluru Road Trip 2017

We drove north for 1.5 hours to a town called, Menzies.

Then headed west to Lake Ballard, a salt lake made famous by a permanent art exhibition called “Inside Australia” created by artist Antony Gormley.

It features 51 metal sculptures based on laser body-scans of local residents from Menzies and a few “out of towners”.

Uluru Road Trip 2017

The sculptures were ghostly and creepy but beautiful and serene at the same time.

Set in the vast landscape, surrounded by salt, visitor’s footsteps, mud, rocks… it was quite an extraordinary sight.

Uluru Road Trip 2017

The sculptures were spread out over 10kms, so it was quite a walk. I only saw about 5 of them.

We anticipated that the ground was going to be muddy and sticky, so we taped plastic bags over our boots. Or course, the kids climbed the rocky hill, which ripped up their plastic bags, and they ended up with muddy boots anyway.

Uluru Road Trip 2017

This was our set up! Since we were covering so much distance and stopping at so many places just for one night, we decided to buy two pop up tents. They were awesome, because they literally took 10 seconds to set up and 2 minutes to pack away.

They aren’t so good with rain, wind or storms though, hence we brought a gazebo for extra shelter (you can see the gazebo frame set up in the photo, because the weather was a bit iffy).

We camped at the edge of the salt lake, at a designated campsite.

We had a spectacular view of the sunset!

Uluru Road Trip 2017

This is my 8yo, who, after cleaning his boots and changing into his clean clothes, decided to take a photo of the sunset without stepping away from his tent, to keep his socks clean.

Uluru Road Trip 2017

The sunset was amazing!

The hills, the lake, the sand all around us changed colours, in a magical, delicate, subtle way; with hints of gold, pinks, oranges and pale greyish purples – oh the colours – it was hard to believe it without seeing it with your own eyes!

Uluru Road Trip 2017

Day 3 – We drove north to Leonara, then over to Laverton where we began “The Outback Way” route, which is the main road through Central Australia.

It was also the moment the sealed bitumen stopped and the famous red dirt road began.

I had always thought that central Australia was barren like a desert. Turns out that it’s quite green and full of trees and shrubs. I guess it would look very different in Summer (it is Winter in Australia now) and I can only imagine how beautiful it would look in Spring.

We had such good luck with the weather and lack of rain, therefore the roads were in excellent condition.

We spent 7 hours on the road (including a few stops) and covered about 500km. We camped at another bush campsite off the main road.

Uluru Road Trip 2017

Day 4 – We woke up at 6am for another long day on the road. We stopped at the Tjukayirla Roadhouse and thanks to the internet, we were keen to try their “famous” Tjukayirla Burgers. They were $18 each! I was very skeptical, but to our delight, the burgers were delicious.

We fuelled up at Warburton. And arrived late into the Warakurna Roadhouse, where we camped for the night in a Unpowered Caravan/Campsite.

We drove for about 500kms and again it took about 7 hours, including lots of stops.

Oh and it was my first shower in 4 days.

* I could have had a shower at any roadhouse along the way, but it didn’t quite fit into our driving schedule, so I survived on baby wipes.

And on that note, I’ll end this blog post – ha!

My next blog post is about arriving in Uluru / Kata Tjuta National Park.


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After 28 Days of Camping

1 August 2017

2017 Uluru Trip - Home

Well hello there!

I’m back from my epic 28-day road trip around central Australia.

4 weeks without blogging, facebook and social media was certainly… refreshing, liberating and quite frankly, brain changing.

(I did do some updating, but I was only on social media for about 5 minutes every 2-3 days.)

So how was my trip?

We saw some truly amaaaazing sights, visited some unforgettable places and had some incredible experiences!

We had so much quality, family time – it definitely brought our family closer together.

It was great for our boys (aged 14, 12, 8) to experience this kind of bush camping; travelling to places where it was 4WD only, uncertain road conditions, bring your own water, fuel, food, recovery gear, cb radio and have no shower for 5-6 days.

We drove from Perth, to Kalgoorlie, Uluru, Alice Springs, East and West of Alice Springs, Coober Pedy, Streaky Bay (South Australia), Nullarbor, Cocklebiddy, Norseman, back to Kalgoorlie and Perth. We covered about 6500km.

I have a new appreciation for how BIG Australia is!

I do feel grateful for having experienced these places. I’ve heard so much about them, and I can now say with a bit of pride that I’ve been there.

I was struck by the beauty of the landscape and I loved watching the colours change around me throughout the day.

We discovered the joys of audiobooks.

And we discovered we all can sit in the car and be silent, for hours! We made a deal with our kids, if they sat quietly for 1 hour, staring out the window – without any devices. – they could have 1 hour on their phone/ipad (which meant 2 hours of peace and quiet for us). Some days we were in the car for 6-8 hours… and it was so quiet and relaxing. A long road trip with 3 kids?! Who would have thought?!

For me personally… 28 days was too long to be away from home, to be camping in a tent, rushing from place to place, in middle of Winter, with kids!

There was lots of setting up tents + bedding + camp kitchen for one night, then packing it all up again the next morning to be on the road by 8am.

I was cold. I was unsettled. I didn’t enjoy that bit. I craved to be in one place and settle down to make a temporary home. I craved to be in a warm space.

However, the nature of our trip was to cover a lot of distance and see a lot of things, with kids. So I just had to suck it up and try to enjoy as much as I could haha.

A few times during the trip, we stayed at a caravan park for 2 or 3 nights, which was good.

And a few times, we stayed with generous friends in Alice Springs, in their warm, comfortable home. We were so grateful they shared their house with us!

Despite everything… it hasn’t turned me off camping and seeing more of Australia.

We’re already planning our next camping holiday, which will be a much shorter 7-8 day trip.

Since coming home… I’ve been enjoying my soft, warm bed. My ever-lasting hot water shower. Indoor heating. Running water. Electricity. Simple, modern day conveniences.

I’ve been washing clothes, cleaning sleeping bags, airing the tents, storing our camping gear and sweeping up the dust balls in our house.

I’ve been catching up with family and friends. Doing all the things I love, like reading, cooking, writing, photographing, running, yoga… and slowly finding my groove again.

I’m so glad to be back!

I have lots and lots of updates!


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Braces

17 July 2017

Since it’s my birthday month, I thought I’d share something mildly entertaining about myself :)

Braces

When I was 14 years old, I had a severe overbite, my teeth were big and my jaw was crowded.

I had braces. Double train tracks. The whole deal.

I also had the full orthodontic headgear, which fit over my head, with straps, springs, elastics, facebow (pictured above) that fit into the braces on my teeth.

I looked like the Finding Nemo girl!

Braces

Except that MY straps went over my head, like a strap-on helmet. It was intense!

I think I had them for 18 months. It felt like much longer though.

Thankfully I didn’t have to wear my headgear during the day. Just at night.

I think back on the experience now… and I’m surprised that I wasn’t more traumatised by the whole thing haha. I recall that I accepted the idea of braces quickly (I had no choice), I was generally very apathetic about it and in the end I think somewhat enjoyed being a bit different/weird. Although I’m sure my mum and dad might have a different story.

I remember being in lots of pain, and I remember having to do a few things differently, like cutting up my food before I eat and never biting into anything with my front teeth.

I also remember I never had sleepovers outside my family/cousin’s house.

But hey! I am SO thankful that my parents had the foresight (and money) to fix my teeth.

Funny thing is, my husband also had top and bottom braces.

And it looks like ALL three of my kids will need them too.

Yikes!

The other funny things is… I still never bite into things with my front teeth and I always cut up my apples and carrots before I eat them!


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Caving at Stockyard Gully National Park

30 June 2017

Stockyard Gully Caves

Last month, we went camping near Jurien Bay (about 2.5 hour drive from Perth) with some friends and their kids.

We spent the day visiting some caves in the Stockyard Gully National Park… and did a little walk along a The Stockyard Gully Trail.

stockyaStockyard Gully Cavesrd-cave02

The first cave we saw was very cool. It was about 300m long, with a completely sand covered floor.

It was very easy for the kids/toddlers to walk through.

We all had head-light torches, which made it extra exciting. However at the start of the cave we didn’t let the kids turn on their torches, just to show them how human eyes can adjust to fading light and darkness.

It didn’t last long though, because the younger kids freaked out.

Stockyard Gully Caves

This is my teenager at the end of the first cave, with his “will you stop taking photos already” pose.

We had a 10 minutes walk to the second cave, which was also very cool.

(As shown in my top photo)

That was a lot toughed for little kids, as we needed to scramble over really big, and often sharp, rocks and narrow ledges.

The cave path didn’t go all the way through. We walked some way in until the ground got too wet and slippery, then we turned around and headed back.

It was a fun day out!

You’ll need a 4WD to access the caves. There is a proper car park, picnic benches, information boards, nice eco toilets, but no water.

More info about the Stockyard Gully Caves here.


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Off on a New Adventure: Uluru

24 June 2017

Uluru by Award Winning Landscape Photographer, Luke Tscharke

(Amazing photo of Uluru by Award Winning Landscape Photographer, Luke Tscharke.)

Hi everyone!

My family and I are off on a new adventure to Central Australia, to visit Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Alice Springs, Kings Canyon and more.

It’ll be mind-blowing!!

And it’ll be a bit cold.

We’ll be gone for 4 weeks and we’ll have very limited internet, so I’ll be trying to upload updates whenever I can on Instagram (@karenlycheng) and Facebook (@karenchengblog).

In the meantime, I have a few lovely posts, stories and outfits to share, that are set on auto-upload every couple of days and they will appear on my blog over the next few weeks.

Thanks for reading!


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Impressionist Parkscapes

19 June 2017

Autumn Run in the Park

I went for a run the other day and my park was going crazy.

Ah it looked like a painting straight from the French Impressionists.

The yellows! The browns! The oranges!

The cute, crunchy sounds of fluttering leaves!

I had to stop, sit on the little bench to enjoy the moment.

I actually wanted someone to shake the ground like a big snowdome, so I could dance through the park as the leaves swirled around me.

It was such a beautiful moment.

Have a wonderful week!


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Sunset at Sandy Cape Beach

16 June 2017

Sandy Cape Beach, Jurien Bay

This was us, at our recent camping trip at Sandy Cape Beach, near Jurien Bay!

We had set up our tents, tables, gas stove, boiled some water, made a cup of tea, put out our camp chairs, cracked open the cheese and biscuits and sat back to relax. The kids had other ideas. They ran off to the beach and promised me they wouldn’t get wet.

I let them go, watching them climb up the sand dune, each flapping their arms in a tangled boyish run. They are all old enough to be left alone. They all can swim. There were other adults watching over them.

I knew that despite them saying that they wouldn’t get wet… they would. So I pulled out the towels from the car and draped it over their camp chairs. I’m such a good mum to my boys.

I pulled out my pots and pans, getting ready to make dinner in my camp kitchen. Chopping board, onions, sweet potato, steaks.

The sun set, the light all around me turned an exquisite golden peach. The sand dunes around me glowed orange. The sky began to turn on a spectacular gradient, from reds to pinks to purples to blues with a hint of green, if that’s even possible.

Ahhh, it was so beautiful!

What was I doing? It was standing next to a beach with the sun setting behind it, and I was chopping onions omg.

I grabbed my camera, climbed over the sand hill and found my kids.

Of course, they were in their shorts, in the middle of winter, swimming in the surf. Of course.


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Keratin Hair Smoothing Treatment

14 June 2017

So I don’t know if any of you noticed in the post above – maybe you were too polite, or too well brought up to say anything — oh the state of my hair!

I know it’s a first world problem, but do let me rant a bit about my unruly Asian hair.

My hair has been like a high-maintenance pet.

I got it permed about 9 months ago. Before that, it was coloured. Before that, it was permed. So it’s pretty damaged, dry, rough and straw-like.

Curi Hair - Keratin Smoothing Treatment

(Before)

What’s wrong with my hair?

I wash my hair, blow dry it and it’s boofy, frizzy and fluffy like crazy. Rough like straw.

I put heaps of product, iron it flat, more product. After 1.5 days, it’s oily, heavy and itchy, from all the product.

Then I have to shampoo it TWICE to get the product out. I have to rotate conditioner brands to prevent build up. Takes me ages to wash my hair. Then it takes me ages to blow dry it. Then I have to flat iron it + product.

Repeat. It’s constant washing, taming and smoothing.

(Ok it looks nice in the photo, but it took me ages to get it like that!)

I finally had enough. I decided that I was going to cut it short, again. Have a bob or lob or blob or whatever, because I’m sick of my hair.

I went to my hair dresser, Curi Hair in Subiaco.

Told them the whole story with lots of exasperated hand waving.

They knew I wanted to grow it long, so Senior Hair Stylist, Tiffany, suggested I try a Keratin Hair Smoothing Treatment instead of chopping my hair off!

Curi Hair - Keratin Smoothing Treatment

(After)

This is me immediately after.

The results: Smooth, sleek, soft and straight hair for about 2 months.

It’s NOT as damaging as a Straightening / Rebonding Perm.

It’s super easy to look after. Blow drying takes less time.

The result is not limp, dead-straight hair. It still maintains a slight natural wave (if you have one), so it looks very natural.

It’s really good for people with: Damaged hair! Especially hair that is frizzy, weak and damaged from colouring, bleaching, perms and heating tools.

​Cost: Starts at $200, my length was $250.

Time: Mine took about 2 hours to do.

Note: This treatment has been around for years, but in the recent years they have relaunched a new and improved formula. If you had this treatment in the past and it didn’t work for you, you might want to try again?

I’m soooo happy with the result and so thankful that I didn’t chop my hair off!


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Quick Getaway to Sandy Cape Campsite

5 June 2017

Sandy Cape, Jurien Bay WA

My big boy and I took a walk at 6am to watch the pink sunrise over the sand dunes in our pyjamas. We were barefoot, bed-haired and blurry-eyed. We slid down sand dunes and almost got ourselves lost in the strange sandy landscape. Love sharing these silly moments with my kids!

This weekend, we took a few days off to go camping with friends. It was a much needed break for everyone.

I was quite torn though. I really didn’t want to go, because I was so stressed about all the preparations that needed to be done before we left.

(There actually wasn’t THAT much preparation. It just seemed a lot bigger and terrifying in my head.)

But as we arrived, set up camp, watch the kids run off and play and then made that first cup of tea on our camp stove… I felt my bones relax, my spirit soften, and that tight grip in my chest disappear.

It felt good to switch off and unplug from the rest of the world.

Sandy Cape, Jurien Bay WA

We went to Sandy Cape Recreation Park, which is near Jurien Bay, about a 2.5 hour drive from Perth. The “recreation park” name is a bit misleading though. It is a very basic, sandy camp site, with eco-toilets, rainwater tanks, a few BBQs and gazebos. No kitchen, no showers, no drinking water, and no pre-booking sites.

But it was definitely one of the best little campsites that we’ve been to!

Plus there were lots of things to do with the kids: Swimming, snorkelling, beach, sand dunes, bush walks, caves nearby, Pinnacles nearby, and lots of little towns to visit.


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May Coffee Catch Up

26 May 2017

Flowers in the Garden

Hello hello! So what has been happening in Karen-land?

1) My kids. Ok. Wow. We are not friends. They are the worst. Seriously, how many times do I have to tell them to do something? How hard is it to do their daily jobs? Why do they have to leave a trail of crap lying around EVERYWHERE!! Why can’t they pick up after themselves?? Nag nag nag scold scold scold punish punish punish. That is my life.

I love them and all that, but they also give me the shits.

2) Work is intense! I’m on the verge of losing my shit. Not quite there yet though. I’m going away on holiday for 4 weeks in July and I’ve been trying to fit 3 months of work (May, June, June) into 1 month (May). It’s the end of the month now. I couldn’t do it. The kids head off to school around 8 – 8:30am. I jump on the computer. Then suddenly 6 hours are gone. My desk is littered with 3 empty cups of coffee, empty snack bowls, papers, pens, cameras, SD cards everywhere! It’s 2:30pm and I have to pick up my youngest from school and switch back into mum-mode. There are just not enough hours in a day.

Actually, to be honest, I probably could have done it if I neglected the other ares of my life! I still made time for exercise, cooking meals for my family, home chores, hanging out with my kids, having coffee with my sister and girlfriends, and date night with my husband. I have to keep my sanity!

3) My grandma is sick. Despite my busy schedule, my mountain of work, my long list of things to do, and this tight grip of anxiety in my chest… I’ve been popping into hospital to visit my sick grandma. She’s 97. Over the last 10 years, she’s had heart surgery, a broken hip, problems with her kidneys and other things, but she always bounced right back. I’m in awe at her strength and good spirits.

Sitting next to her, holding her hand, feeding her spoonfuls of water, helping her change position in bed, marvelling at the 97 years of her life, humbled by the loooong queue of people coming to visit her… all my anxieties melt away and what is really important in life becomes crystal clear: human contact, connections with people, family and friends, healthy relationships, smiles, laughter and being easy-going, kind and gracious (like my grandma!).

4) My inbox. This morning I woke up to see that my inbox had clocked over 2,000 unopened emails. It was the last straw. One hour later, there were ZERO unopened emails. I know. I am amazing. However, there are about 900 flagged emails that I have to work through, gulp.

5) My skin! Oh my gosh! I’ve had a few non-invasive treatments called Collagen Induction Therapy (or Skin Needling) and my skin is looking so radiant at the moment. So much of my pigmentation is gone. Can wait to share the before and after photos!

6) Rooibos. I am trying oh-so hard to cut back on my caffeine. I could easily drink 4-5 cups of coffee each day. My main problem is that I want to drink something warm and milky (soy or almond milk) all the time. So I’ve discovered the joys of Rooibos + Vanilla Tea… which tastes like a mild chai tea, and it’s a pretty good substitute for now.

7) Uggs. I bought myself a pair of Ugg Boots for the first time in 10 years. How did I EVER live without them? They are not the official Ugg boots (which cost $220). They were just fur lined boots from Target. They are soooo warm, soooo snuggly and soooo comfy, that I shed a little tear when I have to take them off to pick up the kids from school. One day. I can feel it coming. One day, I will go “Stuff It” and wear my Ugg boots to school pick up.

8) My taste in music. Quite frankly, it’s embarrassing. You’d think that with my affinity for classic literature, I’d have a broad and quirky taste in music. Nope. My boys and I are addicted to Spotify and the Global Top 50 Charts…. and I am seriously crushing Harry Styles right now. I like Drake, The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar, The Chainsmokers, the new song by Charlie Puth, Shawn Mendes, Niall Horan (how good is his new song?!), Hailee Seinfeld, Selena Gomez… omg I even like Justin Bieber.

I have the same music taste as my 8 year old – HAHA!

(Except he likes Ed Sheeran and I don’t.)

9) Behind the times. So my husband and I watched the very first episode of “Breaking Bad” the other day. It was great! It was first aired in 2008, so we’re only 9 years behind the times.

10) More on music. Ok you know what? I do like my 90s old school rap, hiphop, R&B, grunge, electronic music, …Radiohead, Beastie Boys, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Prodigy, Massive Attack, Chemical Brothers, Metallica, The Smashing Pumpkins, 50 Cent, TLC, Blackstreet, Lauryn Hill… and all the classic hip hop pop tunes!

My music taste isn’t thaaaaaat bad, right?!

We were supposed to test out our camping equipment this weekend, but we postponed it to next weekend. I feel like I’ve been gifted an extra week of prep!

Wishing you all a lovely weekend!

xxx


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The Goods Shed: Painting Power. Ritual, Art & Land

19 May 2017

Painting Power, at The Good Shed

This week, I popped over to Claremont to The Goods Shed, a new creative space for art exhibitions, installations, artist residencies, community and learning events.

It occupies a renovated heritage railway building – which is very cool – a little landscaped garden, a cafe and an outside sitting area.

I went to an event there a few months ago and I loved the space! So I followed them on Instagram and have since received little updates on events… including this art exhibition, which caught my eye and made me immediately scribble the details into my calendar:

Painting Power | Ritual, Art & Land.

It is a collection of paintings by Indigenous artists from the remote art centres of  Tjala Arts, Warlukurlangu Artists of Yuendumu, Ikuntji Artists, Martumili Arts, Mimili Maku Arts and Munupi Arts.

According to the information panels: The exhibition explores the relationship between the power of nature and the energy of ritual traditions. It considers the significance of art to Aboriginal life and its role as a bridge between the physical and spiritual realms as a way of expressing belief, tradition and contemporary life.

I thought the artworks were absolutely BEAUTIFUL!

Painting Power, at The Good Shed

Antara by Puna Yanima (From Mimili Maku Arts.)

I think this was my favourite. The selection of colours were stunning and shapes were just full of movement, dance and song!

Antara is a well known and significant rock hole, where women perform a dance ceremony to make witchery grubs for everyone to eat.

Painting Power, at The Good Shed

Kuruyultu by Eunice Napanangka Jack (from Ikuntji Arts)

The artist paints her father’s dreaming story about a group of ancestral men chasing an owl ancestor with a spear and hitting the ground with a digging stick.

I couldn’t quite see the story captured in the painting, as it was a bit abstract. But it was an amazing painting nonetheless!

It was so therapeutic to look at and filled me with a soft, gentle, relaxing feeling, like when I comb my hair or the dirt. Totally not related to the story though haha.

Painting Power, at The Good Shed

Seven Sisters, by Janie Kulyuru Lewis (from Tjala Arts)

That vibrant red is mesmerising. It looked like living, moving blood (not in a gruesome way, but in a life-giving way), or the heartbeat of the earth from above.

Painting Power, at The Good Shed

Untitled, by Mona Mitakiki Shepherd (from Tjala Arts)

Ahh, yet another gorgeous painting with universal appeal. How amazing are these colours and speckled patterns?!

They remind me of the ocean, or fields of flowers. So happy, energetic and full of life.

Painting Power, at The Good Shed

This is the lovely art space of The Goods Shed.

I love the old surfaces of wood and the exposed textures mixed with the clean white lines.

The Good Shed, Claremont

This is outside of the building, where you can grab a coffee from The Coffee Pod Cafe.

It was so nice to sit on the little table and chairs and enjoy the sunshine.

Painting Power, The Good Shed

But this is me with my takeaway coffee about to head back into the gallery for a second look at the paintings. This time I’m not taking photos on my camera or my phone, I’m just looking at them with my own eyes to soak them up properly!

The Goods Shed
Cnr of Shenton Rd and Claremont Cres
Claremont WA 6010

Operating Hours
Monday to Friday: 8am – 3pm
Weekends: 9am – 3pm


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Steamboat for Mother’s Day

16 May 2017

 

Steamboat - Mothers Day 2017

My husband’s family comes from a conservative Scottish/Anglo background, where dinner is a meat and 3 veg, eaten quietly and properly, with long, slow, in-depth and eloquent conversations about politics, the state of the national education system, Scottish poets, the history of modern customs, or the latest discussions on Q&A.

(Haha I’m slightly exaggerating.)

Whereas my Chinese family is the complete opposite. And there is no better example than the “Family Steamboat Dinner” to illustrate just how completely opposite our families are!

Our dinner table is WILD with sizzle, noise, smells, loud talking, Chinese tea, crazy cooking action and 4 random conversations happening at once, mixed with selfies and sharing silly videos.

While I like the best of both worlds, and try to create a mixed cultural experience for my own family and kids… I still consider my parent’s steamboat dinners to be home.

I took this photo on Mother’s Day at my parent’s house. We were having a steamboat dinner for 13 adults and 7 kids on a separate table. Unfortunately I took it before all the sliced lamb, sliced pork belly, and sliced ox tongue came out… damn, it would’ve looked much more epic!


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Flowers, Chocolate and Hugs

14 May 2017

Mother's Day 2017

This Mother’s Day, I told my kids that I didn’t want/need a lavish spoiling that took up 5 hours of my weekend!

All I really want is a small, genuine hug from each of my children, every day.

And I already get that. So I’m already pretty happy.

I get a hug and a quick : I love ya mum! Or I appreciate everything you do! Or Thanks for doing all that stuff for me! Sorry for driving you crazy! Thank for filling out those forms! Sorry for that outburst, let me make it up to you. Can I take out the rubbish bag? Thanks for making that milkshake for me! That was a yummy dinner!

In the end, I did get a cooked breakfast (bacon omelette, just how I like it!), some crafty cards, flowers, chocolates, and a deformed lemon coconut  cupcake. Except that it wasn’t a cupcake, it was a BATH BOMB!

Haha it seriously looked like a cupcake to me. I almost ate it!!

As I wrote on my Instagram, I didn’t have a completely stress-free and relaxing day. I still fought with my kids, made them do chores, shouted at them, took away their devices, I still had errands to run, work to catch up on, kids to manage, meals to cook, activities to plan. It was the mum-life as usual. But that’s ok. It all balances out in the end, I’m not too fussed.

Hope you had a great weekend!


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Koozå by Cirque Du Soleil

5 May 2017

Kooza Cirque Du Soleil

Last week, I was kindly invited to watch Cirque Du Soleil’s latest show in Perth, Kooza!

Kooza is a return to Cirque Du Soleil’s origins and a homage to the traditional circus show. It has a strong focus on acrobats, performances and clowns, but still features a little story arc.

I was a bit nervous… because I didn’t know what to expect, aaaaand I don’t really like clowns (especially the bit where they walk around the crowd to find a “volunteer” from the audience to come up onto stage)!

But I was completely blown away by the whole show.

Here’s a few photos from the Cirque Du Soleil website.

Koozå by Cirque Du Soleil
(Photos courtesy of Cirque Du Soleil. Photo by M. Beard.)

There were tightrope walkers, contortionist-type acrobats, a guy who balanced on 10 stacked chairs, 2 guys on a spinning wheel thing, jumping acrobats… and more.

When I write it all out like that, it sounds a bit unimpressive. And it sounds like you could see much cooler stuff on TV or YouTube?

But no! To see it IN REAL LIFE was just mind blowing! These guys were doing the most AAAAMAZING tricks, with such talent and skill, I was frozen with terror, wonder, astonishment and relief!

My mouth was open from utter disbelief for most of the show. My heart was pounding, leaping out of my chest, or stuck in my throat. For some parts, I had to cover my eyes with my hands and peek through my fingers. And other parts, I laughed out loud with delight.

It was true, traditional, entertainment of the senses.

Real Life definitely beats YouTube!

Kooza Cirque Du Soleil

After the show, my husband and I were invited for a backstage tour. We were lead out to a very large tent out the back, where the performers worked, trained and relaxed.

Those things hanging from the ceiling are all the feathered head pieces used in the show, hung upside down for storage.

Koozå by Cirque Du Soleil

I met one of the performers, who was just lovely!

I had instant arm envy.

Kooza Cirque Du Soleil

We took a peek at the costume wardrobe, which was enormous. Just imagine taking this photo above and laying it out side-by-side four times and you’ll get an idea how many costumes there were.

Interestingly, we were told that a lot of the costumes get damaged after every show and have to be repaired.

Or sometimes some of the performers gain or lose weight, so costumes have to be adjusted to fit. Hence the sewing machines in the foreground.

Kooza Cirque Du Soleil

Here’s a close up of some hats.

I loved the little details!

Kooza Cirque Du Soleil

In the days before 3D printers, specialised spare parts for the costumes used to be sent in from overseas and would take weeks to arrive.

But now the travelling team can print out their own spare parts!

Kooza Cirque Du Soleil

And here’s something that caught my eye.

A wall full of labelled cups to remind me that despite the “magic of the big top”, acrobats and performers are normal people with jobs too.

A big thank you to Cirque Du Soleil for the wonderful experience!

Kooza runs in Perth until 11 June, with tickets starting at AUD$60.

You can also get Family 4-Pack tickets or Premium Tickets with a Backstage Tour. Parking is an extra $15 and refreshments were a bit expensive, so make sure you pack your own if you take your kids.

Enjoy!


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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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