Archive for Daily Living

 

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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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Potting Orchids for my Mum

3 April 2017

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

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

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

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

Re-potting Orchids

I went to Bunnings and found a very pretty one!

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

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

Re-potting Orchids

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

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

Re-potting Orchids

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

Re-potting Orchids

It was such a good-looking gift!

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

Re-potting Orchids

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


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Liam Turns 8

29 March 2017

Liams 8th Birthday 2017

My little baby turned 8 last week!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Reading: Far From The Madding Crowd

24 March 2017

Thomas Hardy - Far from a Madding Crowd

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

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

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

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

Ha!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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March Coffee Catch Up

22 March 2017

Purple Skies
(I snapped this photo of the purple sky during one of my evening walks.)

Hi everyone!

This year started with an almighty bang!

So much has happened in the last couple of months… and I haven’t really stepped back to take a breather and review everything.

What’s been happening?

1) Travel. I was in London for 4 weeks. I popped over to Paris too. I was away from my husband and kids for the whole time. I absolutely loved the whole experience of travelling / freedom / exploring / wanderlust / no responsibilities.

For me, it cemented the fact that I’m on the other side of parenting young children. I had my first child at 25, while all my friends were travelling, partying, establishing their careers and enjoying no responsibilities. At the time, a small part of me was sad that I was missing out on all that – but hey, here I am on the other side, travelling, partying, establishing my career and having no responsibilities – haha not really, but kind of!

2) My freelancing business is growing! Work is on the increase. Lots of new projects are rolling in. I’m having lots of pinch-me moments in terms of the kind of projects I’m working on. Things I do right now: I run my blog, I do freelance work as a photographer, a graphic designer, an art director, a content creator and a social media consultant and manager. Phew.

Sounds so pretentious when I say it all like that. I basically sit on my computer all day and make pretty stuff ha!

I’m still working on a part-time basis. And I’m so so grateful for the work-life balance.

3) Birthdays. My children’s birthdays all fall in March & April, so they will all move up a year. I will soon have a 14 year old, a 12 year old and an 8 year old. Yikes!

Basically, I have two kids in high school, one in Year 9, one in Year 7, and one kid in Primary School, Year 3. Yikes!

4) I have mini-teenagers now. However, they are not very typical teenaged boys. You see, they are all really chatty.

Lots of parenting articles and advice columns talk about how to get your teenagers to talk… how teenagers go through a “grunting” stage… how parents can initiate conversations… how parents can talk to teens so that they’ll listen…

Not my boys. OMG I can’t get them to shut up!

My boys are really chatty. As soon as they come home from school, they will fall over themselves to tell me the latest news of the day. I get an hour-by-hour run down on what happened, who said what, who did what, what they think about their teachers, their teaching methods, the subjects at school, about the new kid in class, about upcoming events, what kind of sneaker they should buy, what happened in the latest online game, what kind of job they want in the future, their latest ideas for a fast money making scheme to make them millionaires, what they think about the latest Ed Sheeran song… omg it just goes on and on and freaking on.

I listen. I don’t get too judgemental. I laugh. I roll my eyes at them. I join in with their banter. I mock and tease them. I throw in some pearls of wisdom. Or add my own entertaining story. But most of the time, we just talk shit.

Anyway, I feel it’s a blessing that I get to hear all the crap in their heads! Better than nothing right?

5) School work. In terms of their studies, my kids seem to be doing pretty well. I have backed off all my help and assistance. I let them work out their own time management, due dates, assignments, revision and they seem to be on top of things.

However, I can’t STOP being an Asian parent. I have to BITE my tongue whenever they come home with 19/25 on a test.

Yes yes, you tried your best, but, seriously dude, how hard is 22/25?

And one day, one of my kids said to me – Hey guess what mum? I made a very cool discovery this week. I realised that if I pay *just a little* more attention in class, I can get an A in my tests. Can you believe that? It’s cool. Who’d have thought it’d be so easy?

*Face palm*

6) Exercise. I have slowed down significantly in the last few months. I blame my increasing workload. I do a bit of swimming, a bit of yoga, a bit of cycling and a bit of running per week.

Key words here: a bit.

7) Next family holiday. Omg people! This is epic! We’re planning a trip to Central Australia. We’re going to drive to Uluru. Yes we’re driving! Personally, I’d prefer to fly there, but it’s all about the journey right?

It’ll be simply amazing for our family. But there’s so much planning and preparation. And I’m a little tense about it all.

8) Anxiety. Usually I’m pretty stable in terms of my mood swings, emotions, temperament, confidence, self-esteem and overall positive outlook on life. I’m usually a happy and easy going person!

But two/three days in the month, I’m a total wreck. Little things send me into a blind panic. One word, or comment, or news article, or Instagram post from someone will send me into a deep dark pit of darkness. I think I’m shit. I think all my work is shit. Everything I do is shit. I think life in general is meaningless, pointless, and just total shit. It’s a brain-numbing paralysis. It’s totally irrational. It’s hard to breathe. Hard to think. Hard to function.

I console myself in the fact that it only happens once a month, it is not my normal, and it goes away. No doubt it coincides with my monthly hormone cycles.

9) Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been my go-to answer for finding meaning at the end of the day. Only joking. It’s how we de-stress in the evenings. I am literally snorting with laughter and doing the whole “ugly laughing” thing. It’s so good haha.

10) I’m Currently Reading two books at once. Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. I’m halfway through. The language is just lovely. But the heroine is really annoying me at the moment. Three men have fallen in love with her and vying for her attention, and she chooses the worst one. Ugh.

Just like Anna Karenina, I want to slap some sense into her. I hope she redeems herself soon. Probably not. It’d be a short novel if she did.

So I’m reading Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. I’ve always wanted to read it. My husband has kept his high school copy, so that’s the version I’m reading. It’s hilarious so far. And a bit weird. I’m loving it.

OK ten points will do for now.

Thanks for reading! I’m off for a run!

xxx


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Korean Digital Perm for Medium Hair

17 March 2017

6 months ago, I went to Curi Hair Korean Hair Salon to have a Korean Digital Perm for Medium Hair – I wanted big, loose waves and straight ends.

I know I can create that look myself with my hair curler. But it takes me FOREVER to do it, because I have such thick hair.

I wanted permanent, everyday curls! I’m so lazy!

Korean Digital Perm for Medium Hair

I took in these photos of blogger extraordinaire Nicole Warne and Aimee Song to show my hair stylist.

I wasn’t expecting the EXACT same style, as their hair styles were probably hand-styled for 3 hours to utter perfection. I just wanted something that looked similar.

I didn’t want any colour either, as I had some balayage lightening leftover from ages ago.

Korean Digital Perm for Medium Hair

The digital perm took about 3 hours – although I had to go to the toilet twice because of all the tea I was sipping.

I was suuuuper pleased with the results!

They did such a fantastic job.

Korean Digital Perm for Medium Hair

I took these photos in my car after having the perm done. I loved it!!!

So as I mentioned earlier, I had this perm done in October.

I wanted to wait 6 months before doing this review, because I wanted to share what a perm was like after a long time.

Yes you can step out of a salon looking amazing, but how is it on a day-to-day basis? How is it after 6 months? Do the curls fall out? Does it still look great? Is it high maintenance? Is it frizzy af? Is it really worth it?

A Week After the Perm

I was surprised by how dry and frizzy my hair felt. It was a bit of a shock to me. I needed to put 3-4 pumps of oil and rub it into the ends of my hair to make it look good.

Blow-drying my hair took practice. I blow-dried my hair in a random/haphazard way until it was 85% dry. Then I had to twirl locks of hair with my finger and lift it up to give the curls a nice shape and a smooth texture.

The perm was pretty tricky to manage at first. It was annoying. It was high maintenance. I was quite exasperated by all the blow-drying sometimes. My hair was like a pet haha. I had to look after it. I had to get to know it.

Experiment to find out what works. I had to experiment for a few weeks. Use more product. Use less product. More twirling. Less twirling. Blow-dry in the morning. Blow-dry at night. Hair in a pony tail. Hair left out. Use more conditioner. Use less conditioner.

But after a while, I got used to it and it’s pretty easy now!

 

6 Months After the Perm

Korean Digital Perm for Medium Hair

Photo (Left): This is me with towel dried hair, left to air dry. With a bit of hair oil.

Photo (Right): This is me after blow drying my hair and twirling. Took me 10 minutes. This is how my hair looks most of the time.

I often do a beachy look, (which is really just my lazy hair look) where I just blow-dry my hair quickly and haphazardly. Then I just use some mousse, salt spray or hair wax to get rid of the frizz and help keep the curls in shape.

I still have to use about 3 pumps of hair oil. My hair is still dry and can get frizzy on humid days.

After 6 months, the curls have not fallen out.

My hair is still really curly! It just depends on how I blow-dry my hair.

Korean Digital Perm for Medium Hair

These photos are of my hair after a more careful blow-dry to create bigger, softer curls. Again this took me about 10 minutes. I used a wet-look wax on the ends.

Korean Digital Perm for Medium Hair

This is me after a very, very gentle blow-dry. The curls are much longer, smoother and sleeker. This look takes me 20 minutes to do – which I consider to be “forever” – and I hardly ever do this because I’m lazy haha. But it looks really good!

Conclusion

Having a digital perm is NOT EASIER or LESS MAINTENANCE than everyday hair. It’s a different kind of maintenance.

If you’re looking for a hairstyle that is super low maintenance, then this is probably not for you.

For me, I absolutely love it!! I like the fact that I can blow-dry my hair for 10 minutes and have lovely, everyday curls. It’s a bit messy, it’s a bit boofy, it doesn’t have to look perfect.

Everyday I channel the “messy hair, don’t care” vibe haha. I like it.

Blow-drying is much easier than using a hot curling wand. So for me, that’s a WIN.

It’s been 6 months and I think it has been totally worth it!

* By the way, this is the second time I’ve had a digital perm. The last time, I had really long hair and I wanted very tight curls. You can read my blog post about it here.

xxx


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London’s Natural History Museum : Highlights

10 March 2017

Natural History Museum London

I was going to save my “first visit” to the Natural History Museum for when I was in London with my kids.

 

They love all this Natural World kind of stuff!

Me? I don’t really like looking at dead, stuffed animals, so why put myself through the pain of seeing it all twice?

As it turned out, the museum was very cool and I really enjoyed myself.

Yes there were lots of stuffed animals.

But I had a couple of WOW moments too. Especially with the dinosaur bones.

Say what?

You’d think that after raising 3 boys, who were obsessed about dinosaurs, that I’d be pretty bored by them. Nope.

Natural History Museum London

This dinosaur skeleton was aaaaamazing.

It is the most intact and complete Stegosaurus fossil skeleton ever found.

It was presented so well –  its pose, height, directional lighting to capture its texture, the colour of the light.

Even though it was just propped up on a white platform, it was so engaging and compelling. It made my jaw fall to the floor in awe, and it made my imagination come alive!

Natural History Museum London

I also loved the specimens of deep sea fish – So weird and alien looking!

The stuffed dodo – Looked like an enormous chicken!

The swarm of hummingbirds – So tiny and beautiful!

I guess I will be taking my kids after all, and seeing it all again haha.


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Finished Reading List for 2016

6 March 2017

Read: Name of The Rose and Divergent

Just after Christmas last year, I finally finished the book that I had been stuck on for 5 months – The Name of The Rose by Umberto Eco.

Haha I’m not sure if it was completely worth it, because while it was lovely and fascinating in parts, it was pretty hard work to get though it.

But hey, I have been trying to read that book since 2000 and I’ve done it damn it! I will never wistfully wonder what the book is about, or how the words flow from its pages, or what it is like to experience Umberto Eco’s literary vibe.

So after that, on the other side of the literary spectrum, I decided to read something “light and easy” and I found Divergent (Book 1) and Insurgent (Book 2) in an op shop for $2 each.

They are young adult, science-fiction dystopia novels, with a thread of romance. I’ve watched the movies. The guy was hot. I breezed through the first book in a few days.

My verdict: The movie seemed to craft the story and characters much better. It was a fun read though.

I took a longer time to get through the second book because, um the teenaged drama made me cringe.

 

So here is my completed reading list for 2016, starting with the book I read in January 2016.

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

2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

4. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

5. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

6. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

7. The Martian by Andy Weir

9. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

10. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

8. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

11. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy

12. Me, Before You by Jojo Moyes

13. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

14. Divergent by Veronica Roth

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

My favourite book of the year goes to Anna Karenina, as I often find myself thinking about the characters at random moments in my day to day life.

Followed closely by Great Expectations and All The Light We Cannot See.

The Martian as pretty cool too; I always look at a potato and smirk.

The novel I regretted reading was The Husband’s Secret. While it was a fast-paced, engaging page-turner, set in the modern day… I got to the end and I felt like I had watched a run-of-the-mill TV drama. I instantly regretted dedicating such a huge portion of my daily brain energy to it and giving up my sleep for it! Ugh.

It was highly entertaining while I was reading it and very well written, but in terms of conjuring up lingering thoughts about human nature or society, it didn’t affect or alter me in any way.


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Tate Modern: Highlights

21 February 2017

This was my second visit to the Tate Modern Art Gallery – the first time was 14 years ago, when I was last in London with my husband.

I was going to skip it, but it was a cold, grey day and my mum and I needed to get out of the house.

I was a bit hesitant to take my mum – an Asian lady in her early 70s – because I wasn’t sure if she’d like all that “MODERN ART”.

When I was in Tasmania, I visited the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and there was a very long wall with a row of plaster cast vaginas set just above eye level. 30 of them maybe? They were um, interesting. But I secretly prayed that there wouldn’t be anything too CONFRONTATIONAL like that at the Tate haha.

Thank goodness there were only just a bunch of Picasso’s and Pollock’s there!

Tate Modern - Mondrain

Ah modern art, you crazy thing you.

Mondrian always makes me chuckle. I know he is regarded as a genius. But I always imagine him thinking, OK let’s have some fun and see if I can get away with this one…..

Apparently the colour, structure and placement of the elements within the picture is meant to represent an ethical view of society.

Composition C (No.III) with Red, Yellow and Blue (1935), by Piet Mondrian

Tate Modern - Picasso

Ok I had a special moment with this one.

Picasso has such a huge and remarkable body of work, across so many mediums. He’s a really impressive artist. And when you stare into his paintings they can be quite moving.

Especially this one!

Weeping Woman (1937) by Pablo Picasso.

From the display caption: One of the worst atrocities of the Spanish Civil War was the bombing of the Basque town of Guernica by the German air force, lending their support to the Nationalist forces of General Franco. Picasso responded to the massacre by painting the vast mural Guernica, and for months afterwards he made subsidiary paintings based on one of the figures in the mural: a weeping woman holding her dead child. Weeping Woman is the last and most elaborate of the series. The woman’s features are based on Picasso’s lover Dora Maar.

Some of my favourite Picasso paintings are the Guernica and Weeping Woman. So it was amazing to see this one in real life.

Tate Modern - Dali

Autumnal Cannibalism (1936) by Salvador Dalí

I don’t know much about Dali, only that he knocked out some kooky-weird stuff.

I remember in art school, we had to do drawings in a Dalí style and it was actually really hard to deliberately discard all the “rules” of perspective, scale, form. It seriously messed with my head haha.

Tate Modern - Pollock

Number 14 (1951) by Jackson Pollock

Even though Pollock’s work is ridiculously messy, abstract and random, I quite like it.

But mainly because I can imagine how FUN it would be to throw / squirt / splatter / pour / make an almighty mess with all that paint!

It’s kind of exciting to stare into all that randomness.

Tate Modern - Warhol

Marilyn Diptych (1962) by Andy Warhol.

Hmm, I’ve never been a fan of Andy.

But he did make a significant impact on art, film, music, pop culture, art culture in the 60s so I had to take a photo for my kids to see.

Tate Modern - Duchamp

Fountain (1917, replica 1964) by Marcel Duchamp

My mum scoffed at this one.

I’m a bit on the fence with it.

If you read the convoluted story behind it on the Tate website (quite interesting!), you can decide whether Duchamp was just being an ass, arrogantly trying to prove a point, honestly trying to make people stop and think, pissing off the Society of Independent Artists (of which he himself founded!), or being a witty / humorous / clever artist.

Dunno.

Overall, I had yet another wonderful day, slowly perusing through the art galleries in London. Bliss!

What I was most amazed by was the fact that almost all the good stuff was completely free. There is no official entry fee into all the big galleries, but they do encourage you to give a small donation. Love that.


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An Alternative to Laser: Collagen Induction Therapy at Iconic Medispa, Perth

17 February 2017

Collagen Induction Therapy from Iconic Medispa

(This is me 8 weeks after CIT treatment, with concealer, foundation, powder, highlighting, a little mascara and really nice portrait lighting. Not entirely natural, but my skin is glowing!)

Some of you might remember my blog post about My 30’s Skin Journey, where I whinged about my skin and I talked about seeing a dermatologist, my skin treatment, using (and loving) Vitamin A and how I decided NOT to do laser.

Instead I went for lots of facials (Detox facials! Rejuvenation facials! Relaxing facials!) which are nice, relaxing, and wonderfully luxurious. But in terms of making an actual difference to my skin, most of them were meh.

So now I have been trying more “active”, but non-invasive facial treatments.

My disclosure here is that I was contacted by a friend of a friend of a friend, who also happened to be a high school friend’s sister’s husband — basically I kind of know the team behind the Iconic Medispa in South Perth and they asked if I’d like to try one of their facial therapies.

I actually declined at first, because I didn’t know very much about the therapies they offered. On their website, they say they offer HydrafacialsCollagen Induction Therapy (which is like skin needling), a range of chemical peels, facials, infusion masks and even wrinkle relaxers and dermal fillers.

Since I declined to write a blog post, I offered to take photos for some of their marketing social media instead.

So one day I went into their clinic to take photos, I started chatting and asking questions about their business and their therapies. They were all very professional, knowledgeable and passionate about what they do, and I got a really nice vibe from them, their practice and their ethos… and the more informed I was, the more I wanted to try a facial treatment.

Basically, I got to know Dr Michael and a few of his therapists.

He’s is an award winning dentist! He’s super humble, he’s got two daughters, he’s into photography, does triathlons, he’s a cyclist, he’s down to earth, he’s into further education and training/computer aided designs/new technologies that deliver real results (I liked this!), he confessed that he never really advertised his business because he just wanted to focus on doing great work and relied on word of mouth which inadvertently made his business thrive. He’s an all-rounder nice guy and he’s a bit of a geek :)

(And he’s not at all like the big talking cosmetic specialists – who I have met in the past, who talk fast and rushed like I’m taking up their time, and who talk down to me like I’m inferior.)

Chatting to him, I realised that he had Collagen Induction Therapy done to himself, for his own acne scarring.

And at that point, I was sold and super-keen to have it done too!

In the next part of this post, yes I do have close up before and after photos, I explain what CIT is, what happened during the treatment… and how I absolutely loved the results.

I actually had the treatment done 8 weeks ago and I am sooooo happy with the results, so I decided to write this blog review after all.

They didn’t pay me to write any of this, however they did provide the treatment as an exchange for some photography, marketing and graphic design work I did for them, months ago… which I was actually keen to do in order to extend my commercial photographic portfolio. So hey you can decide for yourself if I’m being a sell out or a freebie seeking blogger ha!

 

 

So what is Collagen Induction Therapy?

You can read all about CIT from Dr Google…(and see other people’s before and after photos).

But in Karen-speak: Basically Collagen Induction Therapy uses a skin-needling or micro-needling technique (which has been around for hundreds of years). The latest technology in this field is called “Dermastamp” where medical-grade, fine needles are pricked into the surface of your skin to promote your own skin’s boost of collagen growth and to stimulate skin rejuvenation.

Because of this natural boost of collagen, your skin becomes firmer, smoother, tighter, improves in texture and reduces the sizes of pores, fine lines, wrinkles and scars. The boosting effect of collagen growth and skin improvement lasts for about 6-12 months.

Er, it all sounded too good to be true!?

I was happy to do it because: It’s said to be just as effective as laser, it’s good for getting rid of acne scars, it’s very low risk, almost no pain, almost no negative side effects, it’s “natural” because it boosts your own collagen growth, perfect for Asian skin and perfect for people with hyper-pigmentation (like me!).

You can read a bit more FAQ on the Iconic site here.

My Treatment Plan

Dr Michael checked out my skin, and for my acne scarring he recommended I have 2 rounds of skin cleansing facial treatments first (as my pores were really clogged and I needed to improve my skin health) then have a total of 5 CIT treatments, alternated with the facial cleansing treatments.

These skin cleansing treatments were called HydraFacials and they were fantastic!

Basically a HydraFacial is a facial, but heaps better. They do a light scrub to exfoliate your face, they give you a gentle peel, then they use a special pen that extracts and cleans your pores, while infusing your skin with antioxidants, peptides and hyaluronic acid.

It’s soooo much better and more effective than a regular facial.

It did wonders for my pores!

It’s a great way to prep your skin before a more active skin treatment like CIT.

(And after doing a bit of research about it, I found out that heaps of celebrities and personalities do it but they don’t publicly announce it ha!)

My CIT Experience

First of all, Iconic Medispa runs in conjunction with their Iconic Dentist clinic. So all their medical and hygiene standards and procedures have to comply with strict Australian dentistry standards.

This is not a typical beauty salon, not a home salon, not a small beauty business renting a shop space in the city with 10 year old equipment. This is a professional and successful clinic that has been running for 14 years, using advanced, medical grade equipment and the latest technology from the US/Europe.

As I sat in the chair while they made mirco-punctures in my face, I realised that CIT felt less like a “beauty therapy” and more of a “medical therapy”, thus I came to appreciate their high hygiene, procedural and equipment standards!

The treatment took about 60 minutes.

Collagen Induction Therapy from Iconic Medispa
(This is the Dermastamp Pen, used for collagen induction therapy. I took that photo! Do you like it? It was being used on someone else, not me.)

Was it painful?

Nope. They applied numbing anaesthetic cream. When the Dermastamp Pen was pressed into my skin, it felt like an electric toothbrush, with light bristles, brushing over my skin.

What happened immediately after?

I was told that everyone’s skin reacts differently. Some people look a bit red after the treatment, like they had a touch of sunburn. While others become very red and inflamed for a few days.

For me, I looked awful. I looked like I was stung by bees. My face was inflamed, puffy, angry, red, really blotchy and there were places where my skin was broken and I could see tiny bloody dots. I was a bit shocked.

Maybe I’m being a bit over the top, and maybe on the scale of possible reactions to the treatment, I wasn’t actually that bad. But for me, my skin had never looked THAT bad!

I had to pick up my son from school later, so I swept mineral makeup over my face, even though they told me not to. But there was no way I was going out in public looking like that.

I was pretty upset that night. I was thinking OMFG WHAT THE @#$% DID I DO? HOW DID I GET TALKED INTO THIS?!?!

The next day?

Woke up the next morning. My face wasn’t as inflamed as the first day, but it was still red, blotchy and beginning to get scabby. I wore more mineral make up and I was happy to leave the house.

Day Three.

Less red and less scabby.

Day Four.

No more scabs. Skin looks pretty good. I’m kind of glowing.

Day Five.

OK WOW. This is impressive. My skin looks tight, plump and radiant!

Day Six onwards.

Holy moly, I can actually see a difference!!

Collagen Induction Therapy from Iconic Medispa

Here are my results after 2 HydraFacials and 1 Collagen Induction Therapy.

I have 4 more CITs to go.

These photos were taken by the team at Iconic Medispa, as part of their overall service. The photos are looked over by several clinicians to keep track of my progress and my treatment is tweaked here and there as necessary.

I was very reluctant to take photos in the clinic (and wasn’t planning to share them on my blog!), but now that I’ve seen them and compared them, I’m a bit gobsmacked by how compelling they are.

Collagen Induction Therapy from Iconic Medispa

Conclusion

It’s not a miraculous change.

But it has made a huge difference to my fine lines, pores, texture, firmness, smoothness and the overall look of my skin – just after 1 treatment.

My makeup sits and looks better on my face too.

It’s 8 weeks after the treatment and my skin is still GLOWING. It has a lovely radiance and perkiness to it, which is a bit hard to capture in a photo. I love that it’s a “natural glow” from my own collagen.

My pigmentation is still there, my pores are still on the large size (but that’s my skin type), but as I said – it’s a huge difference.

It’s by far, the most effective treatment I’ve done to my skin.

It was so easy and low risk.

And I’m so happy that I tried this before trying any lasers.

Moving Onwards

I CAN’T WAIT to go in for my next treatment!!

OMG I’m seriously so excited to see the difference.

I was told that sometimes people enhance their CIT treatments with Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) or Concentrated Growth Factor or Stem Cells (CGF), which give faster and better end results… but I’m a bit scared to try it.

And to give you an idea of pricing at Iconic Medispa, HydraFacials are about $175 (face only) and one treatment of CIT is $450.

(I had a little snoop around to compare prices, and these prices are on the slightly lower end of the spectrum when compared to other clinics in Perth. And to throw a bit of gossip in here, apparently these guys have a newer and more advanced CIT machine than other clinics.)

OK that’s all from me. I might post up a few more photos after my future treatments.

Thanks for reading. Sorry it was such a long post haha!

Hope you enjoyed it!

xxx


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Sweet Peas at the British Museum

11 February 2017

British Museum - Snowpeas

I bumped into this beautiful artwork at the British Museum.

The lines, shapes, composition and detail just blew me away, so I’m sharing it here on my blog, more for my own inspiration.

It is a woodblock print called Picture Album of Western Plants (1917) by Tanigami Konan.

The didactic panel says, “Modern Japanese designers and artists took special interest in Western plants, particularly during the 1910s, as the international Art Nouveau style became popular, with its flowing curves based on natural forms. This volume is from a set of richly printed books depicting flowers of the four seasons. The table of contents gives for each flower the English name and its Asian equivalent. The delicate blossoms here are sweet peas. Colour woodblock illustrated book.”

It’s the kind of print that I’d love to have on my wall so I can look at it every day.

And it’s also the kind of sketch I’d love to have done myself… and I know it’s possible for me, I just need a bit of practice! One day!


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Tate Britain Gallery: Highlights

4 February 2017

Tate Britain

During my London trip, I had the pleasure of visiting all the major art galleries in the city.

I was like a kid in a candy shop :)

Of course I didn’t buy any art, but I did take THOUSANDS of photos!

I took photos of the entrances! Of the floors! Of the corridors! The art. The didactic panels. The frames. The doors. The spaces. The negative spaces. Haha I truly enjoyed every little detail.

I didn’t plan to share any of it on my blog, because seriously, even I think I over did it.

However, I do want to share these snaps from the Tate Britain Art Gallery, home of British art from the 1500s to present day.

Tate Britain

Close up of Portrait of Elizabeth I (1563) by Steven van der Meulen and Steven van Herwijck.

This is the earliest known full-length portrait of the queen. Here’s the link to the full portrait. It’s gorgeous!!

Although it looks yellow here, the background was “gold” paint and had a stunning, satin sheen to it… making the whole painting shimmer.

If I paid money to get my portrait done, I’d want something OVER THE TOP like this too haha.

Tate Britain

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose (1885–6) by John Singer Sargent

I don’t know much about John Singer Sargent, except that he was a famous portrait artist based in London/Europe and he used to hang out with Monet and the other Impressionist dudes.

I recognised this painting from a high school art book (over 20 years ago), and yep… it is more amazing, more staggeringly beautiful and more mind-blowingly impressive in real life.

I have no words.

Tate Britain

Study of Mme Gautreau (1884) by John Singer Sargent

This is the sketch (yes a sketch!) of Sargent’s infamous painting Madame X, which caused such a huge controversy in Paris at the time that it damaged Sargent’s reputation as a portrait artist, and as a result, he decided to move to London. The rest of the painting can be seen here.

Whatever the case, it is a stunning study, and I would kill to be able to “sketch” like that!

So inspiring!

Don’t know about you, but I want to crack open my charcoals after all this…


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Museum Highlight: Iznik Ceramics

22 January 2017

Iznik Designs from London Museums

One of the highlights of my visit to London were all the Turkish Ceramics and Middle Eastern designs at The Victoria and Albert Museum and The British Museum.

I’ve seen and studied Iznik Ceramics in books before…

But this is the first time I’ve seen ACTUAL Iznik artefacts from the 1550s, up close, with my own eyes, staring at their intricate patterns, their tessellating tile goodness, each teeny-tiny brush stroke, and marvelling at the way the colour puddles at the end of each painted line.

Yeah I got a bit excited.

And yeah I’m a bit embarrassed that I’m just in a London museum and not actually in a mosque in Istanbul, looking at these Iznik patterns, in their natural surroundings.

(There’s a travel goal in that one!)

Iznik Designs from London Museums

london-Iznik Designs from London Museumsiznik03

Iznik Designs from London Museums

So I really couldn’t contain myself. My heart was singing and doing cart-wheels all over the place!

I took hundreds of photos and just HAD to share some of my favourites!

Enjoy!

xxx


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Snapchatting Art History from the National Gallery

18 January 2017

I went to visit the National Gallery of London, which features Western European art from the 1300 – 1900s. It was a lovely gallery, with lovely rooms and lots of space.

It was my first time there and I pretty much snapchatted a whole art history lesson for my kids to watch haha.

I uploaded something like 20 photos, saying things like… “This painting is by a SUPER DUPER FAMOUS painted called Vincent Van Gogh… it’s worth about $40 million, so be impressed!”

I felt irreverent and so low-brow, but hey, I had to entertain my 7 year old.
National Gallery London Visit 2016

On the other hand, for me…

I had a WONDERFUL time slooooowly browsing through the gallery and taking hundreds of photos. I’m not sure why I took so many photos, though.

Possibly just to capture a little bit of the magic, so I could keep it forever, on my hard drive, and on my blog.

National Gallery London Visit 2016

Delicious details by Dutch still life painter Jan Janz Treck, Vanitas Still Life (1648).

To my boys I said: “It’s about death and the futility of all human ambition. Depression much?”

National Gallery London Visit 2016

Self portrait aged 63, by Rembrandt (1669)

To my boys I said: “Very famous Dutch painter.”

National Gallery London Visit 2016

Snow Scene at Argenteil, by Claude Monet (1875).

“Super famous French painter –  Claude Monet. He’s like REALLY FAMOUS yo.”

National Gallery London Visit 2016

The Water Lily Pond, by Claude Monet (1899).

“One of Monet’s famous series of paintings of a lily pond. FAMOUS.”

National Gallery London Visit 2016

Bathers at Asnieres, by Georges Seurat (1884).

“This guy was a French post-impressionist. He liked to paint with dots.”

National Gallery London Visit 2016

Bowl of Fruit and Tankard before a Window by Paul Gauguin (1890)

“By a dude named Gauguin. Not so famous. But still significant.”

“You better not be bored yet. Keep scrolling!” I said.

National Gallery London Visit 2016

Sunflowers, by Vincent van Gogh (1888)

“This painting is by a SUPER DUPER FAMOUS painted called Vincent Van Gogh…”

“It’s his most famous painting.”

“It’s worth about $40 million, so be impressed!”

National Gallery London Visit 2016

A Wheatfield, with Cypress by Vincent van Gogh (1889)

“This is my favourite van Gogh. His brush strokes are amazing! He’s a genius!”

And I sent them 5 close up photos too. At different angles.

Seriously, I was in heaven. I could have stayed there all day.

I kept having flashes of scenes and chapters from “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt and the whole idea of how seeing a painting feels like visiting an old friend; snatching a glance of a painting again and again, just to feel the buzz it brings to you; and being haunted by a painting for life.

Yes I’m having a fabulous time in London!


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London: Doing The Tourist Thing

14 January 2017

London - Big Ben 2016

Hello hello, I’m currently in London and having a grand old time!

I’ve travelled here with my mum and we’re staying with my little sister and her husband, basically waiting for their baby to arrive.

I’m here for 4 weeks and we’re here to help with the new baby. Eeeeek I can’t wait to cuddle a newborn!

Yep so I’m here without my husband and kids. All I can say is, life is really different without kids.

It’s neither better and worse… just different.

London - St Pauls 2016

What have we been up to?

Since we’re waiting for the baby to arrive (any time now!), we’re doing lots of sight-seeing. We’re walking 5 – 6kms a day, stopping for coffee, eating pastries, going into cool bookstores, visiting art galleries, strolling through museums, looking at old buildings, window shopping, eating at lovely restaurants…

We’ve been to the Borough Markets, walked along the Thames River, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral. Then we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum, the London Eye, Westminster Bridge, Westminster Abbey, St James Park, Soho, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, National Gallery, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, The British Museum and more.

We’ve been all over London, seeing all the big sights!

I’ve seen it all before, but I still enjoyed seeing it a second time around and admiring all the beautiful details. I couldn’t stop gawking at Big Ben. It is truly a beautiful building!

In fact I was in awe of ALL the old buildings, streets and architecture. I felt like a kid, with childlike wonder, walking around with my mouth hanging open, gaping with delight!

Part of me thought: Omg really Karen? Have some cool will you? Don’t be so lame. This is all cheesey, touristy stuff. There’s so much more in the world than this. So much more architectural wonder and natural beauty… and you’re excited about Big Ben??

Bah, my inner voice can be such a bitch!

I didn’t care. I deleted her from my inner playlist.

I may be lame, but I’ll never lose my wonder for the world around me. If I can find delight and appreciation from simple details, I’ll always be happy, where ever I am.

Bring on the cheesiness!

London - Eye 2016


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Tunnels of Trees

10 January 2017

Forest Road Denmark

It’s the middle of the afternoon, I’m cruising down a small country road, surrounded by a tunnels of trees, I’m sitting in a car with my favourite people, my husband and three boys, playing silly car games (Family Feud), holding a packet of chips in one hand, a phone in the other, sun is spilling onto my lap, we’re looking for Geocaches, using a new-fangled mobile app, my husband is driving, I’m navigating, my kids are laughing and singing and my heart glows —

All the heartaches from the past, all the stress and sadness, melts away, and what is left is this glorious picture of the now —

The now. It sparkles with a vibrant clarity! It brightens and shines all around me, begging for me to revel in it!

Four beautiful faces. Four voices. Four crazy smiles. If only I could freeze this moment, capture this everything, just like this, and keep it forever.

And my crazy smile makes five.


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Snorkelling at Greens Pool, Walpole

7 January 2017

Greens Pool, Williams Bay, Walpole

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

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

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

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

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

Snorkelling at Green Pool, Walpole

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snorkelling at Green Pool, Walpole

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

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

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

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

Greens Pool, Williams Bay, Walpole

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

Icy water rushed into my suit and I squealed EEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPP!

But oh my gosh! I INSTANTLY LOVED IT!

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

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

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

My husband jumped in too.

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

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

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

Snorkelling at Green Pool, Walpole

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

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

And again, I loved every minute of it!

Sean Snorkelling

By our second snorkelling experience (this time in warmer and shallower waters) my boys decided that they loved snorkelling and are keen to do more!

Yay, I guess the spring suits worked after all :)