Archive for Daily Living

 

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Snorkelling at Greens Pool, Walpole

7 January 2017

Greens Pool, Williams Bay, Walpole

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

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

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

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

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

Snorkelling at Green Pool, Walpole

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snorkelling at Green Pool, Walpole

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

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

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

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

Greens Pool, Williams Bay, Walpole

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

Icy water rushed into my suit and I squealed EEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPP!

But oh my gosh! I INSTANTLY LOVED IT!

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

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

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

My husband jumped in too.

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

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

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

Snorkelling at Green Pool, Walpole

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

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

And again, I loved every minute of it!


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Mirrored Forests

6 January 2017

Monastery Jetty, Walpole

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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New Camera: Love Them Apples!

5 January 2017

Apple Tree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Homemade Go-Karts

4 January 2017

Go-Karts by Mal

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

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

Go-Karts by Mal

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

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

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

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


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New Year LOLs

2 January 2017

New Year 2017 LOL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tee hee, enjoy!


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I’m Off To London!

30 December 2016

Flatlay for London

Guess what guess what? I have huge news!

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll be helping them move apartments.

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

I’ll be doing a bit of work.

I’ll be hunting down the coolest independent bookstores.

I’ll be exploring flea markets and cafes.

I’ll be doing yoga.

I’ll be zipping over to Paris.

Eeeep I’m so excited!

 

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

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

Lots more updates on the way!

xxx


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Christmas Festivites for 2016

27 December 2016

Christmas 2016

This year, I stepped up my Christmas game :)

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

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

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

Christmas 2016

I also made my own stuffing which was just amazing!

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

My Nutty, Cherry Christmas Stuffing 

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

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

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

Christmas 2016

Again with the fresh herbs and brown twine.

Christmas 2016

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

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

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

Christmas 2016

Christmas morning: was fun as usual.

This time everyone got a silly Christmas hat to wear.

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

Christmas 2016

As for Christmas Day, I made more food.

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

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

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

Christmas 2016

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

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

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

xxx


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Santa’s Magical Kingdom at the Crown Pyramid

17 December 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Santas Magical Kingdom 2016

The Snowland walk-through was sooooo cute.

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

So beautiful to watch!

Santas Magical Kingdom 2016

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

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

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

Santas Magical Kingdom 2016

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

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

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


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Baked Dough Ornaments for Christmas

11 December 2016

Christmas 2016

Christmas is in full swing at our house!

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

I scoffed at them and decided to make some myself.

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

Christmas 2016

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

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

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

Here’s the recipe anyway!

Christmas Baked Dough Ornaments

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

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


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Jacaranda Purple

29 November 2016

Jacaranda 2016

I keep saying this every year.

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

We have Jacaranda flowers.

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

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


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Being That Chick Who Changes Tires

23 November 2016

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

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

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

Bike Fixing

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’d rather buy the kid another bike.

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

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

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

Whatever. I’m off to do my nails!


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My Mid 30’s Skin Journey

15 November 2016

Skin Journey Nov 2016

Hi everyone!

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

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

12 Months Ago

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

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

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

Skin Journey, Nov 2016

My Issues

I have lots of sun spots and pigmentation.

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

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

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

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

My Unknown 

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

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

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

Dud Experiences

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

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

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

My Determatologist

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

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

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

My Treatment

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

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

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

Vitamin A

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

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

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

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

Starting Laser? 

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

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

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

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

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

Starting Facials

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!


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November Check In

1 November 2016

Hi everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

xxx


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

31 October 2016

Trampoline, Closer

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

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

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

(Closer by The Chainsmokers)

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


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Flying Kites in the Sunset

30 October 2016

Dryandra Kite Flying

Look at that sunset!

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

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

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

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

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


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Sunset at Dryandra Woodland

26 October 2016

Dryandra Woodland

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

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

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

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

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

Dryandra Woodland

The sunset was just gorgeous!!!

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

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

Dryandra Woodland

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

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

Dryandra Woodland

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Bush Walking at Dryandra Woodland

24 October 2016

Dryandra Trees

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Reading: The Name of the Rose

3 October 2016

Umberto Eco - The Name of the Rose

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

Here’s my reading list from Jan – July

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I find it extremely satisfying to read.

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

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

Which is the main aim of this reading thing!


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My Fashion Week Interrupted (By Camping on a Cow Farm)

26 September 2016

During my week of fashion shows, I took 24 hours off to go camping with my family!

The plan was to stay on a cow farm.

With a forecast of thunderstorms, rain and an overnight temperature of 3 degrees.

How did I manage to be convinced of this???

Haha well, we had already committed to it.

Plus we were going to stay at a friend’s farm and join 10 (maybe 12) other families and couples.

We didn’t want to miss out!

Camping in Harvery

It turned out that the whole experience was pretty luxurious…

(Except the bit where I had to sleep in a tent, in a thunderstorm.)

THE VIEW was amazing!!

We were up high in the landscape; and even though we were 20kms inland, we could see the sun setting over the glittering ocean. It was so pretty.

Our friends also had a lovely farm house, with a big fireplace. They had meats roasting on a spit. Lots of room for the kids to play. They had working toilets, hot showers and hey, they even had a dishwasher. Life was good.

Camping in Harvery

The next morning, we had gorgeous sunshine.

The fields sparkled with bright flowers and juicy grass.

The hills were alive with the sounds of mooing cows.

Camping in Harvery

We headed off for a walk to see the cows and horses.

Now that’s a sight I won’t forget. A bunch of happy horses surrounded by happy children, surrounded by a field of yellow daisies, surrounded by a forest of eucalyptus trees.

Camping in Harvery

The whole 24 hours was just magical.

It certainly was a huge change of scene for me.

Really want to thank our friends G & S for the kind invitation. (Also want to thank my husband for setting up and taking down our tents, and packing and unpacking the car.)

After lunch we headed home.

And what did I do? I washed my hair, dolled myself up, wolfed down some dinner and I drove off to my last 2 fashion shows for the year – haha!


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Holiday in Scotland – Standing Stones

12 September 2016

Holiday in Scotland 2016 - Standing Stone

When we were visiting Scotland, our family did quite a few walks and hikes. We climbed up mountains and cliffs, went to look for castles and waterfalls, we walked by the lochs and old ruins.

We also went looking for standing stones and stone circles!

Holiday in Scotland 2016 - Standing Stone

These were not particularly famous standing stones in Scotland. We just went to look at them because they were marked on a tourist map, near to where we were staying.

In all honesty, they were a bit underwhelming.

They weren’t perched on a cliff. They weren’t on top of a hill. They weren’t surrounded by a pretty forest. There was no information board explaining the history of the stones.

They just looked like some medium-sized rocks in a farmer’s sheep paddock.

(Maybe the local sheep farmer used a bulldozer to make a circle of rocks to attract tourist like us??)

They weren’t exactly the best example of stone circles for our kids to see.

NONETHELESS, we discussed their possible age, mythology, history and local folklore around the stones – and if we used our imagination, it was kind of amazing to think what they could have meant and how long they could have been there.

Holiday in Scotland 2016 - Stone Circle

Now before I left for Scotland, a few of my girlfriends alerted me to the “Outlander Phenomenon”.

There is a book series called “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon, about a 20th century nurse who, while holidaying in Scotland, touches a standing stone and gets transported back in time to 18th century Scotland, where she meets a rugged Scottish hunk and falls in love. It’s a historical fiction / romance / adventure type novel – which I read in 2001!

What I didn’t know was… it was turned into a TV series and everyone is quick to describe it to me in five words: Sexy. Erotic. Hot, Scottish guys.

Apparently the tv series is rather sexy… and there’s a lot of sex in it.

And apparently it’s been SO popular, that you can now go on “Outlander Tours of Scotland”, see some of the Scottish Highland locations from the novel and you know, touch some erect, standing stones ha!

So what do you know, I was going to some of those places.

With all that in mind, (and not having seen the TV series), I sent some totally innocent photos of ME TOUCHING A STANDING STONE to my girlfriends, which made them hoot and snort with laughter.

Ah, what are girlfriends for?!

(No one seems to know the exact purpose or function of a standing stone, so if they ever find out and it’s something sacred, I do apologise for making light of the whole situation!)


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An Over Supply Of Hands

10 September 2016

Gardening Gloves

I’m a little embarrassed by this. But not really :)

I think it’s hilarious (and incredibly silly) that we cleaned up our shed and found 24 pairs of gloves!?

It was like stumbling across the rip in the universe where all the odd socks go to die.

Ho ho ho.

Yes we do a lot of gardening and yard work.

Yes there are 5 people in our family.

And yes, most of them went straight into the bin after this photo.


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Unfinished Flowers with New Pathways

14 August 2016

Sketching Camelias

Inspired by the flowers from my garden and conversations with friends about the decline of the fine arts (art, painting, sculpture, literature)… I recently pulled out my old graphite drawing pencils and tried to sketch again.

It has been years since I’ve used the drawing/sketching part of my brain!

As a blogger/creative, I’m constantly taking photos, playing with composition, colours and textures in my daily life  – you’d think that “drawing and sketching” is closely connected to “being creative”? Nope!

It’s a totally different skill… and I’ve found it really difficult to get back at it again.

Just like anything really, whether it’s long distance running, tricky yoga positions, 30 push ups with your nose touching the floor, learning a new language, throwing a ball – you just have to practice, practice, practice.

And I keep telling my kids this: The more you work hard at it, the better you’ll be at it. Your brain will create little neural pathways for that skill, like making a path through a jungle, and soon the path will turn into a big, easy road.

You can pretty much do anything, if you set your mind to it!


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Pilbara Stars

10 August 2016

Pilbara Stars

Ok so I’m a bit proud of my husband and his crazy ideas.

I love that he’s super smart and into a whole lot of weird and random things – like taking photos of stars?

He recently went on a camping trip into the Pilbara Region with a bunch of good friends and he took a series of drone landscape photos, 3D photos and time-lapse photos. A shit load of photos.

The results were amazing though!

You could say, they were so amazing, I got a bit star struck and I may have promised to join him on a crazy campervan trip around Australia to take more photos. Maybe.


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Holiday in Scotland: From Where I Stood

28 July 2016

While we were in Scotland for our family holiday, we did some very enjoyable hikes across “rough” and interesting landscapes.

I was constantly laughing to myself – OH IF ONLY MY GIRLFRIENDS COULD SEE ME NOW!!

Scotland 2016 - From Where I Stood

On the day of my birthday, we went to look for some stone circles and I came across this lovely gift to the earth.

I wanted to snapchat this photo to my girlfriends, saying: “Hey hey, it’s my birthday, what are YOU doing today?” but I had no mobile coverage. What a bummer.

Scotland 2016 - From Where I Stood

This is what most of the Scottish Highlands looked like… endless views of rolling, green hills.

It was beautiful!

Scotland 2016 - From Where I Stood

But when it rained, most of the flats turned into big grassy bogs. It was really hard to walk through.

Thank goodness our boots were waterproof.

Scotland 2016 - From Where I Stood

Ahhh, we had so much joy comparing the nuances of the different kinds of mud.

(My boys LOOOVED the mud!)

Scotland 2016 - From Where I Stood

The beaches were covered with beautiful, smooth rocks like these.

I was constantly picking up souvenir rocks, until my jacket pockets were bulging and full… and I weighed 2kgs extra.

Scotland 2016 - From Where I Stood

Sometimes there was just NO path and no obvious place to step. This was at the base of a waterfall.

Where can I put my foot? Is it slippery? What can I hold on to? I basically had to crawl across like an drunken lizard.

Scotland 2016 - From Where I Stood

The seaweed on the beaches were covered with little air-filled pockets… and walking across them was like treading on bubble-wrap – very satisfying.

Scotland 2016 - From Where I Stood

Lastly, I wanted to share  – for all it’s shock and delight value – this photo of my 7 year old, climbing up and over a deer fence.

Creating awesome childhood memories here!


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Holiday in Scotland: The Slow Life

24 July 2016

Holiday Scotland 2016 - Slow Life

I loved that my husband and I spent so much quality time with my boys while on holidays.

I loved that the days were so long, that our routines were so flexible, that we could just go with the flow of a slow, holiday life.

Play hangman and card games for 3 hours? Sure.

Dance around the bonfire, toasting marshmallows till 10pm at night? Why not.

Spend hours collecting 24 perfect rock pieces from a pebbled beach to make a chess set? Yes please.

I went on a long 3 hour drive, with just one kid, to explore a little town, with no goal except to come home with milk and eggs. Oh what fun adventures we had! Getting up to silly antics. Taking funny photos. Having brand new experiences. Talking and laughing like we were best friends. Then I did the same again the next day, with my other kid, and then the other.

I loved every minute I had with each boy. They are all so gloriously different!

My boys are 7, 11 and 13 now… and day by day, I can almost feel time slipping away from me, as if I’m frantically trying to catch pouring water with my cupped hands.

Most times, I’m so irritated by their noise, their 12 year old language, and their boy behaviours… but in the same breath I love them to bits and I wish that they could stay little, childlike and wildly happy.

 


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Holiday in Scotland: Ben More

20 July 2016

In Scotland, a mountain that is more than 3000 feet high (914m) is called a Munro. There are about 282 Munros in the British Isles… and “Climbing a Munro” is kind of a big thing in Scotland.

Actually, let me clarify, Munro Climbing is a big thing in my husband’s family, so since our kids were in Scotland for the first tine, there was a strong Scottish desire to pass on the flame.

The highest and most well known Munro is Ben Nevis, which sits at 1,346m (4,414 ft).

We tackled Ben More, which is 966m (3,169 ft). And just to give you a bit of perspective, I’ve climbed Ben More twice in 2002, when my husband and I were last in Scotland together.

Off we went!

Scotland 2016 - Climb Ben More

The weather wasn’t great at the start, it was a bit overcast, windy and it rained on us too.

At least the clouds stayed off the peak, so we had a clear view of our target.

The ground wasn’t all flat grassy slopes, as the picture suggests.

Scotland 2016 - Climb Ben More

Some parts were rocky, uneven, slippery, wet, muddy and some parts were just over grown with ferns – taller than my 7 year old!

Scotland 2016 - Climb Ben More

There’s our target!

To tell the truth, we didn’t plan to climb to the very top. It takes about 3-4 hours to climb to the top, meaning 8-9 total hours for the kids, including rest stops.

The weather was quite unsettled on this day, so we started late in the day. Therefore in order to have a good experience, we decided to stick to a 3.5 hour climb only and a 3 hour descent.

We didn’t want to risk being stuck on the mountain with three tired kids in the cold wind and rain, and 2 hours left to walk. That would have been a bad experience for everyone!

Scotland 2016 - Climb Ben More

We would stop every 30 minutes, have a snack and enjoy the view.

Yep, the views were spectacular! We could see our car parked by the side of the road.

Scotland 2016 - Climb Ben More

Imagine walking up some steps for 3.5 hours… then throw in lots of loose dirt, slippy rocks and ankle-twisting grass tufts.

It was challenging and so much fun.

I really enjoyed myself!!

Scotland 2016 - Climb Ben More

Did I mention that the views were spectacular?!

As you can probably tell, I took sooooo many photos.

Scotland 2016 - Climb Ben More

My kids were champs. They all did so well.

Scotland 2016 - Climb Ben More

And this was our highest point. As we suspected the weather had turned and it became much colder and windier. Clouds were skimming the peak.

We had climbed 2/3 of Ben More. The top looked so close!

Perhaps we could have climbed for another hour to the top, but it would have added another 2 hours for the trip down.

Besides, if the top got covered in cloud, we wouldn’t be able to see anything. And depending on how thick the clouds were, there was a possibility that visibility would drop to 1 metre and someone might lose their footing and fall down a cliff?? No thanks.

Scotland 2016 - Climb Ben More

Like I said, we decided to enjoy the view and be thrilled about how far we had come.

We took lots of silly family selfies, noisy videos, and epic panorama photos.

I love this photo I took of my kids taking a nap on top of the mountain haha.

Scotland 2016 - Climb Ben More

On the way down, I spotted this perfect thistle – the national flower of Scotland.

And I took this postcard-perfect photo of the humble, prickly weed!

All up, it was a 7 hour adventure of a lifetime and an absolute highlight of our trip.

Maybe our family will come back in the not so distant future and do the whole climb to the top.


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Holiday in Scotland 2016: Hidden Waterfalls

17 July 2016

Scotland Holiday 2016 - Hidden waterfalls

It is amazing how I can be walking along a quiet path in a Scottish forest… then suddenly I look over and there’s a BEAUTIFUL WATERFALL!

And it’s, you know, doing it’s thing, as it has been for the last hundred years or so.

There’s so much beauty everywhere.


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Holiday in Scotland 2016: Castle Hunting

14 July 2016

Scotland 2016 - Moy Castle

We explored quite a few castles and abbeys during our trip.

It was such an incredible experience to touch the moss covered rocks, to run my fingers along the edges of the stones, to feel the cold walls, to smell the musty darkness of the rooms… and imagining the kind of life people lived hundreds of years ago. My head exploded!

This is Moy Castle, built in the 15th Century, featuring 3 floors, its own well and a dungeon.

My favourite part of it was its dreamy exterior texture and colours.

Scotland2016 - Iona Abbey

This is the inside of a ruined nunnery on the Island of Iona.

The island is rather famous and sacred, because Saint Columba established a monastery there in AD563, which became central to the spread of Christianity in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom (Scotland, Great Britain, Ireland).

Scotland2016 - Croft, Malcom's Point

And this is a ruined farmer’s croft we found while one of our mountain walks.

My kids had such a hoot walking around in and around it, exclaiming how it was like a real life Minecraft house, haha!


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Holiday in Scotland: Loving the Wilderness

10 July 2016

Hi everyone!!

I’m writing from Scotland. I’m sitting in a cozy lounge room, with big glass windows overlooking a grand lake and mountains :)

It’s been glorious watching the mountain landscape change hour after hour. The light and colour changes; sometimes it’s pale blue or soft pink, or deep green, or misty grey, or perculiar purple, or vibrant orange.

The sunshine changes the shadows, which changes the textures, which changes the mountain’s features. The sky, mist and clouds change, illuminating and highlighting even more of the mountain’s features… EVERYTHING makes the mountains look different each day. It’s like an infinite masterpiece from nature.

So far, our highlight has been hiking up into the Scottish Highlands. The wilderness.

Malcoms Point, Scotland

This is Malcom’s Point, on the very remote west coast of Scotland. It’s rough, wild and definitely not recommended on any tourist maps.

This particular day, we walked about 6 hours in total, hiking over a river, through the rain, mud, rocks, poo, overgrown meadows, tufty fields, past ruined farm houses and up along little goat paths.

Malcoms Point, Scotland

We followed the stream and watched it turn into a waterfall off the cliff.

That view! I could have stared at it and soaked it up all day.

Malcoms Point, Scotland

It was such an amazing day out with my family.

My boys were thrilled beyond belief! And my husband and I were thrilled to have shared it with them!

It was definitely one of the most memorable experiences we’ve had together :)


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My Reading List for 2016 (so far…)

1 July 2016

Bookshelf July 2016

Hey everyone!

Just thought I’d give you all peek at my pretty bookshelf.

We actually have 12 more shelf-sections of books – full of non-fiction books, young adult novels, kid’s novels and National Geographic magazines. These shelves are definitely are not as neat and pretty as my rainbow collection.

Would you believe, we even have one shelf-section dedicated to multiple copies of Harry Potter Books – all of which I’ve never read. I slogged through 2/3 of the first book and couldn’t read any more of it. My oldest boy has read them all though.

And then we have another 3 shelf-sections of young children’s books, like The Hungry Caterpillar, Where is the Green Sheep and my children’s favourites that I can’t bear to throw out.

Anyway, it’s almost halfway through the year and I thought I’d share my “Books I’ve Read” list so far.

11 books in 6 months! This is definitely my record, since… having children 13 years ago haha.

I’ve started with the book I finished reading a few days ago… working my way backwards to the book I received for Christmas and started in January.

11. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (Omg hard to read, but sooo fricking amazing!)

10. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

9. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

8. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

7. The Martian by Andy Weir

6. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

5. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

4. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

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

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

Enjoy!