Archive for Daily Living

 

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The Colour of Air Pollution

19 April 2015

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

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

My apron was glowing with an orange light.

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

I grabbed my camera to capture it.

Red Sun Light

Amazing! My apron is supposed to look white!

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

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

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

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

Red Sun

It was eerie and abnormal.

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

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


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Fish and Chips by the Beach

11 April 2015

Fish and Chips at Cottesloe

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

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

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

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

Cottesloe at Sunset, March 2015

Life is amazing here!

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

xxx


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Fragipanis

4 April 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frangipani Pink

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

Frangipani Orange

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

Frangipani Dark Red

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

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


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Dictation

26 March 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

(So awkward right?)

After a while, I got the hang of it.

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

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

I did a lot of self editing too.

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

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

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


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Two wrongs don’t make a right!

23 March 2015

Nike Sneakers

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

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

The result?

Two Right Feet

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

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

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

Ugh.

Parent fail. Shopping fail. Whole day wasted.


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Ravioli Parcels

17 March 2015

Ravioli Parcels

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

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

Ha ha! I crack myself up sometimes!


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Flatlay Food Art

10 March 2015

Flatlay Breakfast

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

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

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

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

Flatlay Crumb Chicken

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

Flatlay Crumb Chicken

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

Flatlay Anzac Slice

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

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

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

Flatlay Plum Crumble

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

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

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

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

xxx


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PJ Sundays at the Cott & Co Fish Bar

8 March 2015

PJ Sundays at Cott & Co Fish Bar

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

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

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

PJ Sundays at Cott & Co Fish Bar

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

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

Thankfully I was smart enough NOT to wear my pyjamas.

PJ Sundays at Cott & Co Fish Bar

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

Thank you to Cott & Co for the invite!

 


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Wednesday Afternoon Catch Up

4 March 2015

Soooo, what been happening in my life? I’ll tell you what’s happening. ANTS!

1.
We’ve been BATTLING ants in our kitchen for the last 4 months. To keep them under control, we have had to keep the kitchen spotless. And I mean SPOT-LESS. I’ve had to clean up every scrap, every crumb, every drip, every bit of used cutlery in the kitchen, three, four, five times a day. And then scream at the kids to clean up after themselves, four, five times a day. It’s been driving me insane!

OK. Yes. Our kitchen looks freaking amazing, but OH MAN it’s been hard work.

So we recently spent the weekend, pulling apart our kitchen cabinets (oh joy!), removing our oven (ah!), our cooktop (huh!), and our fridge (sigh!); turning our kitchen upside down and inside out, to hunt down the ant’s nest. So thrilling, I know. Turns out they are living INSIDE our brick walls.

After a few drops of ant poison, we may have won this battle. Our kitchen however, looks messy again.

2.
Holy crap it’s March already! We have my second boy’s birthday, my third son’s birthday and my husband’s birthday coming up this month. I’m planning lots of kid’s parties, dinner parties, sleepovers, outings and get-togethers. I can’t wait! I’m in the mood for some partying!

3.
I have been drinking almond milk in my tea and coffee for 2 years now. No, I don’t make my own. I just buy long-life cartons from the supermarket.

Everyone keeps saying I should buy a Thermomix so I can make my own almond milk; It’s healthier, they say! It’s fresher! It doesn’t have any additives or other stuff! Yes, yes I know… but no thanks. I prefer the convenience of always having a zillion cartons stored in my pantry, so you know, if there’s ever a global shortage of food, I’ll have enough almond milk to last me years!

Anyway, getting to the real point of this list item… I recently bought a carton of Almond & Coconut Milk blend (link) and omg it tastes amazing. So creamy and delicious that I want to drink my body weight of it each day. Not sponsored. Just happy to share my latest loooves!

4.
I dropped my little compact camera the other day. It slipped out of my handbag, slid off a bench top and crashed onto the concrete floor. It still works, but it’s a bit temperamental and traumatised by the fall.

I went into a camera shop to begin my search for a replacement camera, but the lady who spoke to me was having a bad day. She was gruff, impatient and sighed a lot. She treated me like such a dumbass, unworthy of her sales knowledge. I probably should have felt horrible and angry about the whole situation, but I found my inner zen and managed to maintain my happy, easy-going, friendliness.

I was thinking that maybe I should speak up, to her, or her superior, to let them know that I felt belittled by the way she spoke to me? OK I didn’t, but she was speaking to me in a belittling kind of way.

Possibly in my younger days, I would have gotten really worked up about it; I would have felt compelled to inform her manager, lodge a complaint, try to change the world, try to make the world a better place…

But in the end I just let the small things slide. I wasn’t going to let her bad day bring me down. I just felt a bit embarrassed and sorry for her. On my way out, I chirped, “I think I’ll look online and see what they recommend there! Thanks for your help anyway and hope you have a wonderful weekend!”

Like water off a duck’s back.

Don’t let the shit stick.

5.
I’ve been running again! 5k here. 3k there. It just feels so good to do short distances. And it feels particularly good to run without the pressure of trying to top my personal best record. Run for fun. Who would have thought?

I’ve also been on my bike too! It’s been a few months since my last cycle. Now, a gentle 2km-3km ride is enough to make my leg, bum and thigh muscles feel a bit sore. But it’s a GOOD feeling of soreness. The ache lingers for days and feels more like a tightening and toning of my body. I like it. Perky bum, here I come!

I’m still walking, still lifting weights, still doing strength exercises and still being active every day.

I’m loving life, loving movement and loving what my body can do!

 


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Snap Crackle Pop!

28 February 2015

Chinese New  Year 2015

Chinese New Year celebrations run for 15 days… and we’ve been totally overwhelmed with food, family, festivities and fireworks!

I love this time of year!


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3 Seconds of Weightlessness

26 February 2015

Jetty Jumping

I tried NOT to think about it.

I knew if I actually stopped and considered my situation, I would find myself overcome with fear.

I took two fast steps towards the edge of the wooden jetty and leaped high into the air. In the 3 seconds before my feet touched the water, my senses exploded and I was suddenly so aware of the moment. As they say, it was as if time had frozen.

3 seconds is not very long. But curiously, it was long enough for me to have a conversation with myself, in my head.

Stay upright. Don’t do anything silly. This will be over in a sec. You want to be alive at the end. Just hit the water with your feet. Don’t land on your back or head. Mother Karen has spoken.

I’m weightlessness. I’m floating. I’m flying. I’m suspended in air. This feels unnatural.

My hair is going to get wet. Thank you stating the obvious.

I’m falling. Like in my dreams. This is a bit freaky. My stomach is going wobbly. I want to throw up. Oh god why am I taking so long to hit the water? I don’t like falling. I tense my body.

As I hit the water, it swallowed me up.

Cold fingers of water slid up my legs in an instant; up my stomach, up my chest, up my neck. It snaked around my ears, across my face, up over my head, like urgent hands pawing through my hair.

The sky disappeared. The world turned blue. A white ceiling appeared above my head. The blue squeezes my chest and grips my face.

It’s over. I’m cold. And I can’t breathe.

Would I do it again?

I’m not so sure.

Maybe I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I had just screamed, WAAAHHHOOOOOOOOOOO!!

 


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Happy Chinese New Year!

19 February 2015

Chinese New Year 2015

Wishing everyone a Happy Chinese New Year of the Goat!

May your next few weeks be filled with food comas, fat angpows, annoying Chinese New Year music, Asian snacks that you don’t know the name of, and fruit the size of your head!

Love and happiness to you all!


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Monday Morning Catch Ups

16 February 2015

Life has been zooming by so quickly! Suddenly it’s almost March!

I’ve been feeling a strong urge to sit down and take a moment to catch up with everything. So I’m going to try something a little different today. Let’s pretend that we’re at a cafe, having coffee and we’re having a bit of a catch up…

1.
The other morning I had a meeting in the city, but one of my boys turned out to be sick (he was dizzy and nauseous) and he had a strange, sharp pain in his lower abdomen. I had to cancel the meeting, take him to the doctor and keep an eye on him all day – while he stayed in bed, flopped himself around the house and complained how dizzy he was.

I actually thought his appendix ruptured?! But it turned out that he just “might have pulled something” while he was sprinting around the park like crazy, reckless, testosterone-filled boy with his brothers the evening before.

2.
Also last week, my other boy crashed his bike, injured his wrist (slightly), grazed his face (lightly) and broke his adult, front tooth! ARGH! I had to rush him to an emergency, after-hours dental clinic to get x-rays and fix his tooth.

Sure I was worried about the accident, a possible head injury and possible broken bones… but above all, I was extremely grumpy about the dental bills and that he was so careless and reckless!

3.
My two big boys, aged 11 and 9, have shared a room for the last 5 years and I believe it’s because of this that they have formed a really strong, brotherly bond. It’s been the best thing for them. But a few weeks ago, we decided that they needed a bit of space for themselves and we moved my oldest boy into his own room, that is, into the room that I have been using for my office. This obviously meant that I had to move my office/work things OUT of that room.

So for the last 4 weeks, I have been on an almighty clean-up and organisation frenzy of our entire house! I’ve been trying to do about 1-2 hours of cleaning, sorting, throwing and organising per day. I’m almost done!

4.
I received a sample of Organic Chamomile Flower Tea, and have been totally obsessed with it. It’s floral, but gorgeously smooth and earthy. Nothing like the stuff from the supermarket! It comes in a loose leaf form, which really makes it look like a bag of dried-up garden clippings. In fact it looks exactly like the daggy bowl of potpourri in my mother’s toilet window sill.

5.
My husband has been super busy at work lately. He usually gets home *just* in time for dinner, after which we all take a sunset walk in the park. It’s so nice to get out of the house during that time; we all chit chat about our day and have a kind of family news-telling session. My husband and I quickly work out what each child needs for the rest of the evening: to work quietly on a school project, to finish homework on the computer, do some research on an interesting topic, to chill out and watch a bit of TV, or to RUN around and use up some of their youthful energy… then my husband and I will split up the tasks so we can have one-on-one time with each of them. It’s hard work, tiring but… fulfilling!

6.
In terms of exercise, I haven’t been running or cycling lately. I have just been doing full-body workout routines at home, at night, after the kids go to bed. I work up a sweat with my floor exercises and dumbbells and I can feel all my muscles (and ass) getting bigger, tighter and rounder! Way hey!

7.
Oh and netball! I play netball once a week. I still love it. My team mates and I have been playing so well lately. The other night we were against a team, that we had previously lost to. But we were on fire, we totally smashed the game and we won! It was a sweet victory for us. It’s such a buzz to win!

8.
A friend of mine is currently going through a family crisis, which has collided with their home renovation plans. So another friend of mine has helped them out by organising a backyard busy bee for them. About 30-50 people (including kids!) from our school community turned up to help; each person doing a little bit of mowing, weeding, moving sand, cleaning walls, window washing, cutting trees, digging out stumps, moving rocks, shifting bricks, demolishing a shed. 7-8 hours of work on a 40C day! What an amazing little community I live in! What an amazing bunch of people I know!

9.
I’m really looking forward to the Chinese Lunar New Year (on the 19th February)! Can’t wait to hang out with my aunties, uncles and cousins again. All my clean eating, healthy salads, raw smoothies will be going out the window. I’m going to get stuck into some roast pork, roast duck and peanut cookies!

10.
Ahh, March is party month for us. My husband’s birthday, our wedding anniversary, my 2nd son’s birthday, my 3rd son’s birthday fall in March. I can’t wait to organise some kick-arse parties!

Bring on March!

 


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Regular, Super or Super Slim?

6 February 2015

So my husband asked me to pop into the “car parts shop” to buy a light bulb for our car’s rear brake light.

Say what?

You want me to go where? To buy what?

Looking for a light bulb

[Stares blankly at a wall full of car lights bulbs...]

I NOW understand the *brainmelt* that occurs when I ask my husband to buy tampons :P


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May Street Larder, East Fremantle

3 February 2015

May Street Larder

I was invited to the launch of May Street Larder, a brand new cafe in East Fremantle, by the same people who founded the beachside restaurant Bib & Tucker : Eamon Sullivan (the Olympic swimmer) and chef Scott Bridger.

The cafe is focused on clean, healthy eating – right up my alley! Think raw, vegan, organic, paleo dishes with lots of salads and superfoods – but with a few kitchen favourites like slow cooked pork, slow cooked lamb and house smoked salmon. Yum!

They make everything from scratch (or sourced locally) using old-style cooking techniques, like fermenting, pickling and preserving, but with a modern twist. I saw homemade pickles, jams, breads, tomato sauces, sweets, sodas, honey, cured meats and smoked fish.

May Street Larder

I turned up to the event early and managed to snap a few photos of the interior before the guests arrived.

The cafe was lovely and spacious! There were lots of tables and seating, and even a little lounge area with a cute couch and lounge chairs for maximum chillaxing.

May Street Larder

There was tonnes of natural light streaming in from the big windows, bouncing off the subdue colour palatte and casting a modern freshness into the space.

May Street Larder

I loved the eclectic mix of antique collectables, natural surfaces, and random kitchen objects with old-world details.

May Street Larder

During the launch, the kitchen offered us a special kind of menu sampler, where we could mix and match various proteins and salads. They had all the food lined up at the counter, we could select what we wanted and it would be piled onto our plate – mess hall style! This is not the usual menu and eating format though.

When it was my turn to choose my food, I apologised FIRST to the waitstaff (which is never a good sign for them, I’m sure)… then I asked them *ever so* politely if I could have TWO plates and if they could arrange TWO meals nicely, so I could photograph them. Or maybe I could arrange it myself? With a spare fork? Could you please get a spare fork for me? Can you put that piece of trout just off the centre of the plate? Can I have THAT potato instead of this one, because that one looks nicer? Oh you put too much green on the plate, it looks off-balanced, could you take some off?

I’m sure she was thinking – CURSE THESE BLOODY FOOD BLOGGERS!

Thankfully Scott, the head chef, realised what I was trying to do, so he cut in and worked his cheffy magic. He plated it up beautifully! Thanks Scott! The dish looked great – balanced, not too fussy, neat but still with an accidental cool to it, haha!

I chose the house smoked trout and some kind of kale salad and root vegetable… Not sure exactly what I had, but it tasted really good! So fresh, tender and “clean”.

May Street Larder

This was my second plate.  The slow cooked pork and CRACKLING was amazing!!

The roasted veggies were lovely too.

May Street Larder

May Street Larder is the first and only place in Perth to offer CocoWhip. It’s made from natural coconut water and a coconut probiotic (that’s it!), and churned into a creamy, silky, smooth, cold, kind of soft serve. It tastes a bit like a mild coconut sorbet, but much lighter, smoother, and with significantly less sugar than any sorbet I’ve ever tasted.

It’s sugar free, 99% fat free, gluten free, dairy free and lactose free. It’s also served with goji berries, cacao nibs and a lupin granola.

It’s the hippest little vegan soft serve I’ve ever seen!

May Street Larder

Big thanks to Eamon and Scott for the invite.

I’ll definitely be bringing my girlfriends back for brunch!

May Street Larder
155 Canning Hwy (Corner of Canning Hwy and May Street)
East Fremantle
Open for breakfast and lunch.

You can find them on May Street Larder Facebook


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Our Big, Wobbly, Blue Thing

28 January 2015

When we bought our house (many years ago), there was a swimming pool in the backyard.

While it’s quite common to find pools in suburban backyards in Australia, this pool was really old (and ugly) and it was not very well looked after by the previous owners. So we would have needed to spend something like $7,000 – $10,000 to refurbish and fix it.

The pool was also right smack bang in the middle of the backyard; it was all fenced up and it pretty much took up the WHOLE backyard. There was no where for our kids to run around or play.

Added to that, both my husband and I have lived in homes with swimming pools and we knew the time and cost associated with keeping a pool. AND for 7-8 months of the year in Perth, the weather gets a little too cold for swimming, which means we have to look after the pool even though we’re not swimming in it for most of the year.

So basically, after long deliberation… my husband and I decided to get rid of the pool.

Fast forward to the present… boy do we we regret that decision!

Ok we don’t REGRET-regret it. We just feel a little annoyed every time we have to pay $22.40 for our whole family to visit the local swimming pool.

I suppose swimming at the beach and river is FREE. But trips to the beach or river is usually a 3-4 hour day trip, plus money spent on lunch/coffee/ice creams. Which is fine, really. If we want to save money, we just have to be more organised to pack a healthy lunch and snacks. However, it’s a little trickier to organise a QUICK swim at the beach during the school term. And it’s a bit annoying when you make all that effort to go to the beach and the kids only spend 30 minutes in the water.

Oh my god! Listen to me whinge and complain about my first world problems!

I should have just started this post with – LOOK AT OUR NEW POOL!

Paddel Pool

We got an above ground pool, which is about 5m x 5m round! It’s huge!

My husband and I – having grown up with REAL swimming pools – did not think very highly of above ground pools. (Because ahem, they looked like oversized paddle pools for toddlers!)

Nonetheless, we set it up under our patio (in the shade), filled it to a depth of 60cm, and we put a special pool cover over it so we can get the temperature to stay at a gorgeous 28C – 30C.

IT IS AMAAAZING! The kids are in and out of the pool 3 or 4 times a day. They can invite their friends over and they ALL play happily for hours. They are so happy. I AM SO HAPPY.

My 5 year old, who, before Christmas was terrified of putting his head underwater and used to wrap his arms around my neck like a scared koala whenever he was in water, is now a confident swimmer who happily duck dives for coins off the bottom of the pool! He made ALL that progress in 2 weeks!

Paddle Pool

And of course I had to take a selfie of myself in the pool! Wayhey!

Yes I’m still wearing my day makeup and earrings, and everything looks very nice and peaceful in the setting sun. But I should have turned the camera around and taken a photo of my kids… who were standing on the other side of the camera aiming their water pistols at me!!

I made a deal with them; if they let me take a few photos, and I put the camera away safely without getting it wet, then they could make a whirlpool and squirt me with their water guns :P


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Beachin’ and Loving Life

22 January 2015

Karen and Liam at Coogee Beach, WA

Life has been pretty damn good lately!

We’ve been hanging out at the beach a lot. We usually organise to go with 5 or 6 families from school.

Happy kids, of all ages. Laughter, smiling and playing wonderfully. Beach cricket. Beach soccer. Body boards. Sandcastles. Watermelon. Berries. Sandy beach towels. Chips and dips.

I’m a big believer that a simple life, family and friends, and a sense of community… is the answer to happiness, gratefulness, contentment and success.

I love that all this is around me and I’m living some of the happiest days of my life!

Wishing you all an amazing day!

 


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The Water Diviner (and a dream of Istanbul)

5 January 2015

The Water Diviner

My husband and I recently went to watch the movie, The Water Diviner – a story about an Australian father who travels to Turkey in 1919, to find his three missing sons who fought in the Battle of Gallipoli.

While I don’t usually talk about the movies I watch, I was very struck by this one.

It is a cinematic drama with adventure, romance and a touching storyline; it’s about loss and hope, and it has a certain lightness to it, despite dealing with some pretty heavy issues. It is quite different to all the other war movies that fill our cinemas these days. I really liked it.

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

I also really enjoyed the beautiful cinematography and amazing locations!

One of my aspirations is to visit Turkey and Istanbul one day and visit the mosques, palaces and museums. Seeing bits and pieces of the landscape and interiors in the movie only amplified my desire to travel!

Photo credits: thewaterdivinermovie.com.au


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My Zombie Christmas Ham Gets A Makeover

26 December 2014

In the last few years, we have hosted a large family celebration on Christmas Eve at our house.

For us, this is our “official Christmas dinner” with the turkey, ham, roast vegetables and all the trimmings. Everyone gets dressed up a bit, we sit down for a proper sit-down meal with nice silverware, tablecloth, napkins, decorations and a Christmas centerpiece etc.

I do most of the cooking – which I love to do. I’m pretty organised too. I keep all my recipes in a special Christmas file. I take photos to keep a record of what I did each year, the photos help me keep track of which decorations I used and what my colour theme was. I also make notes on how to improve next year, and place everything into my little file.

So yup, I think I’m pretty awesome… EXCEPT SOMETHING WENT WRONG THIS YEAR!!

Christmas Food 2014

After roasting for 4 hours, I took my ham out of the oven… and it fell apart! It looked soooo baaaad! I was horrified! I was so embarrassed! I wanted to throw it into the bin and start again!

I’m not entirely sure what I did wrong. I swore I followed the recipe to the letter.

Usually I’m a rock star at roasting ham! Usually my hams are a thing of beauty! Usually I get a round of applause when people taste the lush juiciness, the deep sweetness and the complex spices infused in my hams!

This? This one looked like a zombie ham from a horror movie, and that a dog ate half of it!

Sigh.

The ham was falling off the bone. It tasted great, but it just looked AWFUL.

So after some painstaking reconstruction and a some makeover cooking hacks, I managed to pretty it up, slice it up and present it like this:

Christmas Food 2014

Looked OK right?

Thank goodness the Christmas ham was saved!

Christmas Food 2014

To compensate for my ham failure, I managed to make the best looking  and best tasting Yorkshire puddings in my life!

They were the last dish to be cooked before the meal started, and I timed the puddings perfectly, so everyone ate them piping hot from the oven drizzled with gravy. Yuuum!!

I used this recipe, but I used butter and a bit of turkey dripping, instead of sunflower oil.

Christmas Food 2014

This was some of the spread on our dinner table.

Christmas Food 2014

For dessert, my father in law and my 5 year old son made a traditional Christmas pudding. It’s a recipe that has been in the family for decades and basically consists of steaming dried fruit and suet (animal fat) for 8 hours.

The kids fell over themselves (in the dark) to gather around to see the “lighting of the pudding” which is always good fun. Burning brandy is hypnotic!

We served the pudding with hot custard, and while it didn’t look very appealing, it tasted wickedly delicious.

I had 2 bowls and didn’t regret it.

Christmas Food 2014

And speaking of wickedly delicious, you can’t go wrong with a good old Christmas pavlova.

I had 2 slices and I didn’t regret it either!

 


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Happy Christmas Everyone!

25 December 2014

Christmas 2014

Wishing a happy Christmas to all my wonderful family, friends and readers!

May the next new year be filled with blessings, joy, happiness, good food and lots of love!

(My son made that Christmas bauble! Apparently it was inspired from a photo of shark with its mouth wide open?!)


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Thriller Live Concert

23 December 2014

I recently took my eldest son out to celebrate a huge milestone in his life: graduating primary school (!!!).

We went to watch Thriller Live, a stage show celebrating the music of Michael Jackson. I had not heard about the show before, but I was given two complimentary tickets to check it out, and I was delighted to discover that it first started in London 6 years ago and has since toured the world, visited 26 countries, played 3000 shows and has been viewed by 2.5 million fans. It sounded cool!

Michael Jackson's Thriller Live

I had to clarify a few key points with my son. No Michael Jackson died in 2009 so he won’t be on stage. We’re going to watch OTHER people sing his songs.

We assumed that ONE guy was going to be impersonating Michael Jackson for the duration of the show. But it turned out to be a bit better than that – there were FOUR guys and ONE lady singing all his songs.

So with all the people, costumes, back up singers and dancers on stage, it was a really fun performance that was full of movement and energy.

The singers did a great job for both the singing and dancing. They were not an *exact* match of Michael Jackson’s voice (I wouldn’t expect anyone to have an exact match!), but they were still talented performers and they were very enjoyable to listen to.

Michael Jackson's Thriller Live
(Photo courtesy of Thriller Live)

At this point I have to confess that I am not a HUGE Michael Jackson fan. I don’t own any of his albums, nor have I been to any of his concerts. So I felt a little unworthy and ignorant when it came to knowing the full chronology of his hits.

But as each song and dance came on stage, I lit up like a child at a fireworks display! I KNOW THAT SONG!

I was clapping my hands with glee. YES! I REMEMBER THIS ONE! AND THAT ONE! OMG THIS ONE WAS BRILLIANT! IT WAS SO POPULAR!! JACKSON WAS A GENIUS! HIS SONGS WERE AMAZING! THEY STILL ARE! THEY DON’T MAKE POP SONGS LIKE THEY USED TO!

Michael Jackson's Thriller Live
(Photo courtesy of Thriller Live)

There were songs like ABC, I Want You Back, Blame It On The Boogie, Smooth Criminal, Beat It, Billie Jean, The Way You Make Me Feel, Bad, Dangerous, Heal The World, and of course, Thriller.

It was such a great show! It was so much fun to watch!

At The Crown

As for my son, he didn’t know any of the songs, since I forgot to give him a crash course in MJ music history, but he thought the songs and dancing were pretty cool too.

Overall, we had a really great “mother and son” night! We enjoyed a nice dinner before the show, then we bought six Subway triple chocolate chip cookies (way hey!) for dessert, sneaked them into the theater and munched on them until our teeth hurt.

And during the show we stood on the seats, clapped and danced to the music (everyone else was doing that too!) and discussed pop music history in the intermission. We had fun!

Thriller Live is playing in Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland.

Check out more details at the Thriller Live Australian Tour website.

xxx


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25 Day Fitness Challenge – Day 15 to 21

22 December 2014

Workout Flatlay

This December, I gave myself a kind of challenge where I had to do some kind of exercise every day, for 25 days.

Check out all my past activity for my Fitness Challenge here.

This is what I’ve been up to this week:

Monday – Day 15
Tonight we played a late 8:55pm netball game and totally smashed it! We won (41 – 14) and while it was awesome to win, I got a bit lazy at the end and didn’t try as hard as I usually do. I finished the game feeling like I needed another 5km run.

Tuesday – Day 16
Ran 3.5km in the morning. Woke up a bit late and didn’t have enough time to finish a whole 5km.

Wednesday – Day 17
Strength and floor exercises in the evening. Lunges, squats, burpees, planks, mountain climbs – the lot!

Thursday – Day 18
A very quick 2.5km run in the morning. Slow walk in the evening.

Friday – Day 19
Strength and floor exercises in the evening.

Saturday – Day 20
Strength and floor exercises in the evening.

Sunday – Day 21
Strength and floor exercises in the evening. So boring right?

I’ve been pretty busy this week. It’s the start of the school holidays, Christmas is just around the corner, and I’ve struggled to wake up early for a proper run.

This past week, I’ve found myself at the end of the day… without having done any exercise at all. By the time 9pm comes around, I feel bad, lazy, irritated at myself and I *just* manage to find enough motivation to do my strength and floor exercises. It’s not very creative, but they work for me. They take about 30-50 minutes to do. Once I get going, I get really pumped and push myself until I’m hurting and sweating!


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Win $200 to Spend at Vision Direct

19 December 2014

Vision Direct X Karen Cheng

I’ve teamed up with Vision Direct to give one lucky winner a $200 voucher to purchase a pair of hot new sunglasses!

You can choose from styles like Ray-Ban, Celine, Gucci, Chloe, D&G, Givenchy, Missoni, Michael Kors, Tom Ford, YSL and much more. The range is really impressive and the prices are the best I’ve seen online.

Vision Direct X Karen Cheng

Vision Direct have put together a Christmas Gift Guide so you can see the best and most popular styles in simple categories (glamour, career, retro, trendy etc).

The photos above is a collection of glamorous styles, including frames like Dolce & Gabbana, Tom Ford, Celine and Gucci. I like the Celine one!

Vision Direct X Karen Cheng

And these are a collection of on-trend styles, including Dolce & Gabbana, Ray-Ban, Fendi and Italia Independent. I have my eye on the tortoiseshell Fendi one in the middle!

I have bought sunglasses from Vision Direct before. I accidentally bought the wrong size (I bought the kid’s size, duh!), so I organised an exchange, I sent the small pair back, the new ones arrived in great time. Overall I was really happy with the shopping experience.

This Christmas, they let me pick a new pair for myself too! I made a huge wishlist and managed to whittle it down to two – a Celine pair and a Saint Laurent pair.

Saint Laurent Sunglasses Bold 1

In the end, I chose these Saint Laurent Bold 1 sunglasses. They are gorgeous to wear!

Saint Laurent Bold 1 Sunglasses

I like the slight square and angular shape of this style, which looks a bit fresh and different to the round, cat-eye shapes that I usually wear.

I don’t know much about the technical specifications of sunglasses, but the glass is really clear, it has UV protection, the frame feels smooth on my face, and the weight of it is nice and solid; not too heavy and not too light. The arms sit perfectly on my head/ears and it hangs on securely, without pressing too tightly at my temples. The bridge slides down my nose a tiny bit, but well… that’s something I’ve gotten used to when having a wide Asian nose!

What do you think? Which pair would you choose?

***GIVEAWAY DETAILS***

Who Can Enter:
This giveaway is only open to residents of Australia, over the age of 18 years. Sorry to my international readers!

What You Win:
The winner will receive a gift voucher to spend at Vision Direct worth AUD200. Not transferable for cash.

Giveaway Ends:
The giveaway will run for 7 days. It starts from 18 December and ends on 24 December 2014, 11:59pm  (GMT +8)

What you have to do: This giveaway is now closed!

I will close the competition on 25 December. The winner will be randomly selected via random.org and contacted via email.

If the selected winner doesn’t respond in 3 days, then I will redraw another random name. I will announce the winner as soon as possible on my blog.

Good luck and have fun!


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High Tea Fundraiser for Borderless Friendship WA

16 December 2014

I had the pleasure of attending a High Tea Fundraising Event for Borderless Friendship WA (BFWA).

BFWA is part of the Borderless Friendship Foundation (BFF) in Thailand, who work with 350-400 communities in the remote areas of Northern Thailand. Specifically, they enhance the lives of children, youth, women and vulnerable people within those communities; helping them with food, education, medical help, safe drinking water and sanitation.

I did a bit of reading up on them; although they are not a large organisation, I’m deeply impressed by the kind of work that they do. They sound like a very hands-on group, who activate people in their community for help. And their projects seem approachable enough that even myself and my children could possibly join in.

With that in mind, I was keen to meet some of the generous and driven people behind the scenes of the event.

High Tea Fundraiser for Borderless Friendship WA

The event was held at The Terrace Hotel, which incorporates the heritage listed St George’s House. I always love looking up and enjoying the juxtaposition of the old bricks, 1900s architecture and the shiny glass windows of the modern skyscrapers above.

High Tea Fundraiser for Borderless Friendship WA

The high tea was lovely! The weather was perfect. There were 110 guests, all sitting in the outdoor courtyard, under the trees and the dappled sunshine.

I planned to “watch what I eat” but in the end I scoffed 4 chicken sandwiches (omg they were so delicious), 3 divine chocolate things, 2 utterly perfect scones, 1 very moist orange and almond cake. And by the end of it, just like the very hungry caterpillar, I was looking for a nice green salad :P

High Tea Fundraiser for Borderless Friendship WA

There were lots of fabulous items on auction and things to bid on and buy!

High Tea Fundraiser for Borderless Friendship WA

I really wanted this gorgeous hand woven, organic cotton rug (the label said it was for a baby room)… but I talked myself out of it, because 1. I don’t have a baby; 2. I have wooden floors and fabric rugs are not suitable; 3. If I were to use it as a rug, in 5 years it would be dirty, gross and ruined, so I would want to preserve its beauty by keeping it in a box…. so really, if i bought it, it would not be used.

Instead I went big and bought a stack of raffle tickets – all for a good cause right?

High Tea Fundraiser for Borderless Friendship WA

There was also a fashion show! Designer Phoebe Longwood recently launched a new designer dress hire business in Perth, called The Library Dress. She treated the guests to two catwalk showcase of her dresses; one show had designer labels and one had her own label.

The three stunning dresses pictured above are a few styles from her own label. I’ll be blogging a bit more about her dresses next week, so I’ll save the details til then!

High Tea Fundraiser for Borderless Friendship WA

Here’s a pic of Phoebe and I – looking all kinds of amazing – me in a Three Floor dress and Phoebe wearing one of her own designs!

I had a really lovely time, I enjoyed the high tea, we had lots of girly chat, and a bit of fashion spying and shopping. In the end the event raised $6000 for such a great cause!

Thank you for having me!

xxx


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The Car Park Matrix

11 December 2014

Have you ever felt like you were stuck somewhere and LIVING THROUGH A NIGHTMARE??

While I didn’t get injured, nor did I survive a natural disaster… I still had a pretty freaky “trapped” moment.

Last weekend, I attended a fashion launch in the central business district of the city. The event was from 2 – 5pm and since it was the weekend and no one was at work, I parked my car at a nearby multi-story car park with no hassles at all. On the way out, I took note that I had parked on level “B2″.

After the event I got chatting to a few friends and by the time I walked to my car it was almost 6pm. The streets were pretty deserted. The car park rear entrance was closed up, so I took the side entrance. I was met with a locked glass door and a place to swipe my card for after hour entrances. I tried swiping my car park ticket to no avail, so I pressed the button to speak to a car park operator.

The operator was friendly. She asked me for my car registration plate number; I gave it to her and she buzzed for the glass door to open. I went down a series of steps and corridors, I found the lift, I pressed “B2″ and got to my floor.

The car park layout was a square shape, with a central shaft in the middle for the lift. But if you stepped out of the lift, you couldn’t see any car parking bays. You had to turn left or right, walk down a corridor (in a kind of H shape), down some steps, and at the end you could only see 30-40 percent of the parking bays on that floor – if you get what I mean. So in fact there were 3-4 corridors that lead to different car park bays.

So understandably, I walked down one corridor and could not find my car.

I walked down the OTHER corridor and again couldn’t find my car. So I walked AROUND the lift shaft (to the other 30% that is not visible from the end of the corridor) and AGAIN I couldn’t find my car.

I thought. Hang on. That’s not right. So I walked back to the first corridor and looked around. No car. Second corridor. No car. Hang on. Did I go down the left corridor or the right corridor first? Are there two corridors or three? Try again. One corridor. Second corridor. Third corridor. Around lift shaft. No car. In fact there were NO CARS on the WHOLE B2 FLOOR!

Silly me. I got my floors mixed up. I probably parked on the B1 floor.

So I got into the lift and went to B1. Again I walked down a corridor, down the steps – no car. Next corridor, down the steps. No car. Around the lift shaft – no car. Hang on, did I try this other corridor? AM I GOING MAD??

Surely I didn’t park on the other floor? I’m sure I parked on B2. But I took the lift to the “G” Floor. Corridor, steps, no car. Other corridor, steps, no car. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON??

I was really frustrated and my feet hurt from all the stupid walking. OK KAREN. THINK. Maybe the layout of car park is a bit more complicated and maybe there is another corridor that leads to more car bays, and since I’m absolutely sure that I parked on B2, I’ll go back to B2 and start again.

I was thinking, the security guards must be laughing their heads off. I can just imagine how the whole scene must look on their black and white monitors – a crazy woman pacing back and forth, this way and that way, from one monitor to the next.

I took the lift back to B2, and somehow it looked really different. And suddenly I wasn’t at all sure that I even checked all the corridors on this floor. I started to get quite stressed and anxious.

My sense of direction started to get wooshy. I couldn’t think straight. I had been walking around the empty car park for 30 minutes. I felt a rising panic grow inside me, and I could feel all my sensible, methodical and problem solving skills start to blur.

It was as if I was in a concrete maze. An urban nightmare labyrinth of identical service pipes and shifting concrete walls.

I tried the doors in the concrete walls, to get me out of the building. All the doors were LOCKED. I took the lift back up to Ground Level and that door was LOCKED too.

Ok. I need to get out of this car park NOW! It’s 6:30pm, it will be dark outside, the car park will close soon, the lights will go out, I will be stuck here over night in a stupid car park!

I walked into the lift and pressed the Emergency Phone button. It rang, but no one picked up. I pressed 3 times. And as I waited I had crazy thoughts about how I could start a fire, so it would activate an emergency response, and I could be saved by some firemen. Fire in a locked building? Bad idea. What about finding a fire extinguisher bottle and throwing it at the glass door? Oh oh I know! I could climb up into the air conditioning vents and crawl my way through the building until I found an exit!

OMG I couldn’t believe I was having these thoughts! I watch too many movies!

This is what my nightmare looked like.

The Car Park Matrix

The Car Park Matrix

The Car Park Matrix

The Car Park Matrix

The Car Park Matrix

The Car Park Matrix

The Car Park Matrix

Can you tell the three floors apart? Can you tell if you’re looking north or south? Does it all look the same to you?

Seriously. I was going crazy. My brain was so confused. I just wanted to curl up into a ball, close my eyes and cry.

OK THERE HAD TO BE A PERFECTLY SENSIBLE SOLUTION TO MY PROBLEM. This is what I will do, I thought. I will pretend I’m driving a car (more sensible than it sounds OK?), WALK along the path of the car, follow the signs all the way to the car exit, and find my way out of the building.

I decided to start back at B2. I pushed the button and as the lift doors opened, I came face to face with a woman.

ANOTHER HUMAN BEING! OMG I almost jumped on her and grabbed her by the shoulders – DON’T LEAVE ME HERE ALONE! YOU’RE HERE. I’M HERE. WE CAN BE FRIENDS!

She must’ve heard the panicking strain in my voice.

I explained my predicament. She said that she had trouble getting into the car park too. She said she would help me find her car. We jumped into her car (how come I didn’t see her car earlier??) and drove around and around, looking for my car. There were other cars parked on the floors (how did I not see those before?!?), but my car was NO WHERE TO BE FOUND!

We drove to the main entrance / exit.

FINALLY I WAS OUT OF THAT FORSAKEN PLACE. I COULD SEE THE SKY. But I had no idea what to do next.

She said, “Hang on. Can I see your ticket?”

We looked at the ticket. Aaaaaaand printed on it was the name of A DIFFERENT CAR PARK.

OH. Right. Wow, I felt pretty stupid.

I was looking for my car in the wrong car park.

We laughed. I felt my insides die of embarrassment. But at the same time my stomach lurched with more panic.

The woman (I didn’t get her name yet) said she would drive me to the OTHER car park to find my car. It was literally, just around the corner. Two, new, small, car parks sitting side by side. What’s the chance of that?

My car park was closed. There was a big sign that said, CAR PARK CLOSES AT 5PM.

Siiiiigh. It was Saturday evening, I doubted that it would be open on a Sunday, so it means I have to fight the working commuters and come back into the city on a Monday morning to get my car. How much is that going to cost?!?

I was going to get out of the lady’s car and call for a taxi… when she asked me where I lived.

It turned out that she used to live in my suburb (down the road from where I live!). She now lives 45 minutes from the city, she was going to be driving past my suburb on her way home, and did I want a lift home? It also turned out that she was the MC for the event that I went to that afternoon, and we shared a mutual friend! Oh my god how strangely fortunate!

We chatted all the way to my home. So was so friendly and so genuine. My heart, my panic, my whole inner spirit, softened at her kindness. I was so thankful!!

I was thinking: Gee this woman is a complete and utter stranger and she didn’t even flinch at helping me out. (OK maybe she did, and managed to hide it very well haha!)

But if I was in her situation, I would have had at least 10 seconds of internal hesitation, to consider what was happening, whether it was the right thing to do, do a risk assessment of my situation, a few seconds to check whether my car had enough gas, a few seconds to think whether I should contact my husband to let him know what was happening now. I also had the added complication that my 5 year old boy was at a birthday party and I was supposed to pick him up at 5:30pm (and the time was now 7pm!), so I had to make some phone calls to organise for someone else to pick him up!! My thoughts and plans were all over the place. Whereas she was cool and calm.

I think this may have been the first time I’ve been the recipient to such epic kindness by a complete stranger.

It’s soul shaking and life changing I tell you.

I feel like a different and more inspired person for it. It makes me want to be a kinder and more generous person too.

The next day, I took the train into the city, I took my son along for the ride… and told him the whole story.

We went back to the WRONG car park and I retraced my steps and took photos (shown above) – mainly to show my husband, to PROVE to him how confusing the car park was. As I went back to the scene and snapped away with my camera, all my photos looked the same, all the angles looked the same?! I started to sweat and feel a little anxious again. Thankfully my son was there to say, “The exit is this way mum…”

Then we went to the CORRECT car park and took this photo to compare the two.

The Car Park Matrix

It was a completely different building. Both had red pipes on the ceiling, rectangular columns, clean concrete columns, numbers on the floor… Whatever.

But I realised that what really made me believe that I was in the correct carpark, was the fact that I had given my car registration number to the security person, and she had let me in! I assumed they had a list of all the cars they knew were in the building, right? But it turns out that they just let anyone in who says they have left their car in there :P

Total cost of car parking turned out to be $30.

Phew, I’m glad that’s all over!

I’m happy that I feel all inspired to be a better person and all… but I probably could have done without the nightmarish, heart-stopping, head-spinning experience. :P


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Wishing Well

3 December 2014

On the weekend, I spent a bit of one-on-one time with my 5 year old, Liam.

We took a walk through the sunny gardens of Kings Park and found a wishing well.

I dug into my bag and found two 20 cent coins. We threw them in, both making our wishes at the same time.

Wishing Well

My son asked me what I wished for.

I said, “Wellllll, you’re not really supposed to tell anyone your wish,” and at that point I was frantically trying to make something up in my head, because I didn’t really wish for anything!

“But I’ll tell you if you tell me OK?”, I said. “I wished for all our family and friends, all over the world, to have good health and happiness for the rest of their lives.”

He nodded thoughtfully. So I asked him “What did YOU wish for?”

“I wished for the whole world to be made of lollies and candy.”

I laughed.

He asked, “Do you think it’s going to come true?”

I said, “Nope.”

“Maybe we should put more money in?”


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Looking Up

28 November 2014

Jacaranda

I’ve been a bit sick this week.

The other day I dropped my kids at school, came home, crawled into bed and slept for 2 hours. I haven’t done that since my kids were newborns!

I feel better today. I took a long, gentle stroll through the park with my family; felt the sunshine on our backs; listened to the squeals of laughter from my kids; enjoyed the movement of my legs; felt the glow and happiness of being alive.

The world is full of things to relish, if we take time to look.


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The Remarkable World of Bees

13 November 2014

Recently we noticed a bunch of bees hanging around the entrance to our shed. The bunch grew bigger and bigger; and after a week it was obvious that they were living in the shed. I know you’re supposed to just ignore them and they’ll ignore you, but soon there were SO many bees flying around our backyard that I felt quite unsafe going outside.

They had made a bee nest in one of our shed cupboards, and while it was really just a small nest – my nephew is allergic to bee stings and he was coming over in a couple of days – I completely panicked!

I quickly called for a pest exterminator and the bees were gone the next day.

On hind sight, I shouldn’t have panicked. I should have just stopped for a moment to think about it a bit more… because I do happen to know that bees are REALLY IMPORTANT to the environment, and our human existence on the earth!! Bees are literally making fruit and other important food plants grow, as well as pollinating all the other plants in the world. They are making the world go around!

I am sooooo annoyed and angry with myself, because it turns out you can find – very easily – local bee lovers who will extract and move the bees to a new home FOR FREE. A quick search on Google or Gumtree shows that there are 4 or 5 different services in my local area! I really feel so terrible about it all.

And then to add further pain to my guilt, we pulled out the honeycomb… to discover how freaking amazing bees are.

Honeycomb

Look at the hexagonal pattern of the honeycomb! It’s so consistent and mathematically perfect! It looks like a man-made material fit for space travel!

The honeycomb is made from wax. The bees have glands that convert some of the honey the make (sugar) into wax, which is released through small pores on their bodies. The wax particles are then chewed up by the bees, softened in their mouths, spat out and then shaped into the honeycomb.

It was awe inspiring for me to think that little insects made this object – something that looks so man made – and that they have been doing this for thousands and thousands of years, before human existence!

Honeycomb

Bees are said to be remarkable engineers, impressive mathematicians, and highly intelligent creatures. Their honeycombs are an efficient use of resources, display superior construction and strength, and maximises honey storage… so much so that there is a full history of studying honeycomb technology, spanning from 60BC.

Also it has been documented that bees do a special dance and wiggle, as their way of communicating the direction of a food source, relative to the sun and their current position!

The more I read up about them, the sadder I felt about it.

Some of the honeycombs from our shed had a bit of honey in it, but we weren’t able to eat it because it had been poisoned.

So I guess I wanted to share my photos with you all, in hope that if you ever find bees in you backyard or out in the open, where they might be considered a threat… please do a quick search for bee lovers in your local area who can move them safely and in an environmentally friendly way!


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Second hand books and new titles

30 October 2014

Possibly the one thing I love MORE than shopping for clothes, is shopping for books.

My collection is constantly growing – even though I have waaaaay more books than I can possibly read.

My shelf is full of classic book titles, trashy pop novels, prize winning stories and book titles you’d see in internet lists like “Top 100 Books To Read”, “50 Greatest Novels of All Time” and “50 Books You Must Read in Your Life”. I’m just addicted to stocking up on all the books I think I might like to read… someday!

So a favourite hobby of mine is to pop into an op shop and browse through the book section.

Oh the titles I’ve found! My heart breaks a little to see some of the books that people throw away. I guess everyone is switching to e-readers or they don’t have enough room in their home to store their books. That’s good for me!

Yesterday, was my best haul yet.

Books Wolfhall

I’ve been looking for a vintage A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens for the longest time! I saw one beautiful, leather bound edition, but I had to purchase it in a set of 10 books and it was $500 for the whole set! This edition above was deliciously aged (published in 1950) and at $1.50 you should have seen me grin from ear to ear!

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood won the Man Booker Prize in 2000 and I’ve been wanting to read it since then! Er yes, 14 years ago.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel is a 2009 Man Booker Prize Winner and is said to be utterly amazing, but intense. I don’t actually know if I have the stomach to read it, since I couldn’t even finish Game of Thrones (which had so many evil, manipulative, immoral people, that it made me so stressed when I read it in the evenings!). Anyway, this hardback cover edition is 5 years old and still retails for $35. I bought it for $4.

Books Mazerun

I also decided that it was time for the kids to start some new novels too. My kids go through cycles of being obsessed with reading until their necks and backs are sore from reading too much. Then they move on to being obsessed with sports, until their legs and arms are sore from playing too much sports.

These are fairly new titles and I didn’t get them at a secondhand store.

The book on the top of the pile, Don’t Look Now by Paul Jennings and Andrew Weldon was for my 5 year old. I bought it as his introduction to “big boy books” (even though it’s like a comic). He’s blitzed through it and now he’s moving onto Andy Griffith’s Just Stupid! series.

The 52 Story Tree House by Andy Griffiths was finished in 2 days by my 9 year old. And he is now halfway through Billionaire Boy by David Williams. Both books were said to be “really great”.

As for my 11 year old, he finished The Maze Runner by James Dashner in 2 days too and says that it is the best book he’s ever read! He says it’s even better than Ice Station by Matthew Reily, which he rates very highly. He’s still going with The Scorch Trials (the sequel to The Mazer Runner) which he says is pretty different to the first book but it’s still a great read.

(My son hasn’t watched the movie The Maze Runner yet. I told him he had to read the book first!)

I’d love to get some reading suggestions for Christmas! Please feel free to drop me a note on my Facebook page!


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We raised $5.2 million for cancer research!!

22 October 2014

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014 - Photo By Ze Photography
(Photo By Ze Photography)

It’s over for another year!

I volunteered for a 2 day cycling charity event, The Ride to Conquer Cancer.

I’ve participated in this event for the last two years and it involves over a 1000 people riding a distance of 200km over 2 days.

For each of the last two years, I have spent about 5 hours of sitting on my ass and pedaling each day! And as I slogged away, part of what kept me going were the cheer squads dotted along the route – volunteers dressed in cowboy gear, pink tutus and Elvis costumes… but the craziest and most entertaining bunch were the Onesie Warriors.

They wore one piece animal suits, sang and danced, cheered, rang bells, hooted and hollered, and got up to all kinds of crazy antics that made us riders laugh and smile when we needed it the most. They made such a big, happy difference to our journey, lifted our moods, and pumped SO much energy and fun into the event.

I remember (during a relentless uphill slog on the bike in the pouring rain) looking at the Onesie crew thinking… where do they get their energy from?? They have been dancing and jumping around for hours! They must be drunk! They must be completely sugared up! They must be pumped full of Red Bull! Were they all fit, young 18 year olds, who are just used to all this raving!?

Anyway, that was the team I joined on the weekend.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

There were 12 of us in the Onesie Warrior team, and we split into 3 groups of 4. We positioned our teams at different locations, where the route was most boring (20kms of flat farm land) or most difficult (long, slow, uphill climbs that go on forever) for the cyclists.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

Basically the whole Onesie Warrior experience was… a crazy, roadside, dance party, with insane amounts of bad karaoke, bad dancing, raving and jumping!

We had pop music blasting from our car. We were shouting, cheering, whooping, waving clappers, ringing cowbells, shaking tambourines, tooting horns, blowing whistles… for 10 hours!

Oh man, it was sooo much fun.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

I couldn’t even recognise myself. I was doing the most silliest, shameless and stupidest dance moves I’ve ever done in my whole life. And I did it on purpose! In front of people! To make them laugh! In broad daylight!

If you know me in real life, I’m usually very contained, calm, possibly soft spoken and maybe a bit shy. I am in no way a natural show pony. I don’t walk into a room and have a presence that commands people to take notice of me. In fact, I’m striving for a kind of quiet gracefulness.

But once I put on my giraffe onesie, I felt like I had permission to act like an exploding, hyperactive, crazy person!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

With our encouragement, all 1311 riders made it safely to the night camp – the half way mark for the weekend.

They did SO WELL for their first day. They rode 105km. There was a very strong head wind blowing against the riders, and I could see them all pushing into it, grimacing in pain with every down stroke of the pedal. I knew their pain! They must’ve been exhausted!

There were a lot of cancer survivors who rode too. They rode with a yellow flag attached to their bikes to distinguish themselves. I thought of my husband, who has survived cancer twice and thought whether he would be able to ride this distance. His health is excellent, but fragile, and shouldn’t really be pushed to this level of exertion. Not to mention he was at home looking after the blessing of our three kids… while I was spending the weekend having this unusual, out of character experience.

I got a bit teary every time I saw a person with a yellow flag that reminded myself why I was here.

In fact, it only took a few minutes of chatting to a complete stranger to find out that every rider had a story or a connection to cancer, and that they were determined and inspired to do something about it. I was constantly teary and inspired!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

As for me, I had woken up at 4am that day, started cheering at 7am, had only a few small breaks, and finished my shift at 5pm (to cheer the very last rider to arrive at camp).

So I went to bed at 7:30pm!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

The next morning I woke at 4am again, and the weather looked REALLY BAD.

There was a 100% chance of rain, thunderstorms, hail and strong winds. Oh my god! I hoped the wind would be behind the riders and push them along.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

For the second day, I was a frog. It was an apt costume for the wet weather. And apt, because my voice was very croaky.

At 6am, I hopped over to the start line and I bumped into these two ladies – Brooke and Sam. Er, well I actually just randomly walked up to them, because hey I’m in a frog suit, and I asked to take a photo with them because their cycling jerseys matched my green costume!

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

Then our team quickly drove to our first designated spot for the day and waited for the riders to come through.

We waited and waited.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

In fact, we waited at the zebra crossing.

When the riders went by, we waved signs like “SAFARI SO GOOD!” and “KEEP THOSE CALVES MOOVING”! And other really bad animal puns.

Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014

We placed ourselves in silly positions to wave at the riders. Our chipmunk climbed a tree. Our cows climbed a hill. Our penguin sat on a branch.

I was a squashed frog on the path, but I only took this photo after the last rider rode past haha!

We made our way to several other positions along the route, and then back to the finish line to cheer the last rider through.

We danced and cheered for hours! We were projected up onto the big screen, we were photographed and we were on TV (did you see us?!). It was definitely one of the most crazy, fun and rewarding experience I’ve ever had. It certainly gave me an unusual perspective of the event.

In total, we raised $5.2 million that will go to the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research (used to be WAIMR), with all the funds going directly into cancer research projects. I was choked up with pride and happiness!

A HUGE thanks to all the organisers, the crew, the riders, the sponsors and the supporters who donated!!

I’ll see you all next year!!