Online Fashion Boutique: Fashion Artiste

Clothes from Fashion Artiste

Fashion Artiste is another great fashion boutique based in Australia, with flat international shipping rates.

It stocks over 20 designers including, Life With Bird, Marnie Skillings, Antipodium, Kate Sylvester, and Spencer Lacy.

I’d say that the *best thing* about the online shop is their collection of low to mid-range prices of designer clothes. Meaning you get designer quality styles for a pretty good price. AND they are currently having a 30-70% off SALE.

They are also offering all my readers a special discount – 20% off everything in store, including sale items when you use the code KARENCHENG at first stage of checkout.

The Blue Skirt I’m wearing (above) is by Marnie Skillings. I am absolutely in love with it! It’s so cute, flattering, tailored, a bit quirky, the quality is fabulous and the blue is so pretty.

It arrived last week and I already wore it 3 times. It was an amazing 70% off! From $330 to $99. Which means if you buy it, you’d get a further 20% discount and only pay $79.20 for it.

The skirt was a size 8. I’m usually size AUS/UK 6, so I’m guessing the Marnie Skillings range runs small. But you can check all that out on the sizing charts on the website.

In the photo, I was getting hell bored with my usual pose and was mucking around and showing off my calf muscles as the result of all my cycling *I’m very proud!*.

Clothes from Fashion Artiste

Here on the left is a Singlet Dress by Cybele, made from a leather-look material and sheer panels. It looks hot! It was also 70% off, from $232 down to $69.60.

On the right, I’m wearing an Antipodium Sequin Dress, again 70% off. It has a kind of 60’s feel to it. All I need is a bee-hive hair do!

So yep, I’m enjoying the range of dresses and tops on the site.

If you’re thinking of buying, don’t forget the special discount code for 20% off everything in store, including sale items. Just use the code KARENCHENG at first stage of checkout.

Enjoy!!

( See all my Daily Outfits here )

Check out more of my favourite online shops in my Women’s Online Fashion Shopping Guide.

Nigella Lawson’s Banana Chocolate Muffins

Nigella Lawson’s Banana Chocolate Muffins

Nigella Lawson, in case you don’t know, is a British Food Goddess.

Last week, I tried Nigella’s Banana Chocolate Muffin recipe. The muffins turned out to be lovely and moist, with a light texture, which was not too rich or overly sweet.

However, I found the banana flavour was pretty strong in this recipe, and it over-powered the chocolate. Maybe Australian bannanas are more flavour-some than British ones?

So I made it again and changed the recipe – less one banana and added chopped dark chocolate chips instead of the cocoa powder.

The result had the same delicious, light, moist texture, but more of a chocolatey taste with a hint of banana flavour.

Plus I used dark chocolate, so it had that deep, rich and slightly bitter taste to it. DIVINE!!!

Nigella Lawson’s Banana Chocolate Muffins

Nigella Lawson’s Banana Chocolate Muffins (slightly modified by me!)

My changes are bolded!

2 very ripe or overripe bananas (not 3)
125ml vegetable oil
2 eggs
100g soft light brown sugar
225g plain flour
3 x 15ml tablespoons best-quality cocoa powder, sifted
60g of grated dark chocolate (in addition to the  cocoa powder)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 x 12-bun muffin tin

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C and line a muffin tin with papers. Don’t worry about getting special papers: regular muffin cases will do the job.

2. Mash the bananas by hand or with an electric mixer. Still beating and mashing, add the oil followed by the eggs and sugar.

3. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, grated chocolate and bicarb together and add this mixture, beating gently, to the banana mixture, then spoon it into the prepared papers.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 15–20 minutes, by which time the muffins should be dark, rounded and peeking proudly out of their cases. Allow to cool slightly in their tin before removing to a wire rack.

Serves: Makes 12

The un-Karen-Cheng-ified Original Banana Chocolate Muffin Recipe is HERE, along with a whole lot of  other excellent recipies.

Life on a Plate

A few weekends ago, I was at the river with my family. We were having a picnic, taking a walk and enjoying the sunny weather.

Scrambling up a bushy sand bank, I noticed these two pieces of a broken, old plate stuck deep in the ground.

broken-plate01

They were dirty and crusted over with mud, so I gave them a quick wipe on my jeans. As I rubbed my fingers over the cracked glaze I was overcome with a strange sense of enchantment. Like I was in some kind of time warp.

Maybe, many years ago, before this place was a beautiful park, it was used as a rubbish tip for the very old houses nearby. But I looked around, but I couldn’t find any other bits of plate.

It was a dinner plate, with hand-painted, gold detail. The pattern seemed to be of Eastern origin. The glaze was cracked by age. How old was it?

broken-plate02

I held it in my hand and wondered how much this broken plate could tell me, if it could talk.

Who made it, and what were they thinking while they did the laborious work of painting the gold detail? What did they dream of?

Did children grow up eating from this plate? Did the family argue, or talk about school, or moving house, or worry about brothers and sons away at some war?

And when the plate was broken in anger or haste, did someone get in trouble?

I imagined it as a full plate. Sitting on a beautiful tablecloth. Next to plates which looked identical to it. Holding slices of bread and fruit. I imagined laughter, happiness and the sounds of clinking glasses.

I stuck it into my bag. And it now sits next to my monitor, in a dish full of treasured objects.

It reminds me of another lifetime, and of new life.

Walking (and Eating) the Dog

One afternoon, I was walking to school to pick up my two older boys, and pushing my toddler Liam in the pram. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon in the park, and my son was babbling away with all his cute toddler noises. I was in plenty of time to enjoy a nice, slow walk. I was very happy.

But then I noticed I was being followed – by a dog.

A little tiny one. Like the ones that rich women have in movies, but this one was shaggy. It was as small as a cat. And although it was occasionally stopping to sniff at other dogs’ poo in the undergrowth, it always scampered along on its tiny little legs to catch up to me, shyly keeping a distance, but definitely following me.

Some people would think this was cute, but I REALLY DON’T LIKE DOGS. All of them, and everything about them. Whenever I go to a friend’s house who has a dog, I have to really force myself to pretend that I like my hand being licked, my groin sniffed, and being pushed over. And I pretend this because I know that most people like dogs, and I don’t want to offend!

So I ignored the little doggie and just kept going.

But whenever I looked over my shoulder, there he was, loyally following me.

I kept ignoring him, and he kept following me. And then he ran in front of the pram. Liam saw him, and excitedly said “Doggie!”.

I realised I was walking into a trap. If Doggie following me, and he got hopelessly lost, he would become my problem, right?

Or, what if Doggie got run over by a car crossing the road after me? Sure, I could just pick up the dead, pizza-shaped dog by the tail and throw him in the nearest rubbish bin, but what if someone saw me?

And what if he DIDN’T get killed crossing the road, and he survived all the way to school? My kids might fall in love with him, and then we’d have to take him home – and live with him! I would have to spend the rest of my life picking up Doggie poo off the lawn!

So I stopped, and shooed Doggie away, waving my arms at him.

Big mistake.

Because Doggie thought I was playing with him. ARRGGGH!

Now he felt we were best friends, and he was literally and happily trotting along by my feet.

He was so close that I could see he had an identity tag around his neck. I stopped the pram, bent down, and read the tag. And while I did this, Doggie rubbed his wet, poo-sniffing nose on me, and licked my hands. EEEEWWWW!!

The address was right around the corner from my house, only five minutes walk away.

I was determined to get rid of Doggie, so I turned the pram around, and started walking back towards Doggie’s house. And guess what. Doggie didn’t follow me. He just SAT DOWN in the middle of the path, like I was going the wrong way.

GRRR.

And then I did something I still can’t believe.

I picked the dog up. With my bare hands. I held the dog on my hip, like a baby, with one hand, while I pushed the pram with the other.

I felt like one of those rich women in movies.

Doggie was in heaven, and made snuffly little noises of excitement. I felt humiliated and unclean.

Doggie smelled like a dog. He was dry, but he still had that dirty, musky, wet dog smell that old carpet has just before you decide to renovate the house.

I suddenly remembered a joke in my family about poor Chinese people eating dogs when they were short of food (which is apparently based on real events in my Grandparent’s time). Hey, I remember helping my Dad catch crabs and fruit-bats to eat when we lived on Christmas Island, so eating a dog doesn’t seem that improbable.

But little Doggie probably didn’t have too much meat on him. Maybe the same as one big chicken? Still, that would keep a family going for a couple of days.

After the longest five-minute walk of my life, I found the house, knocked on the door, and gave Doggie back to the lady, who hadn’t even realised Doggie had escaped. She was so grateful to have Doggie back since he was sick and needs glucosamine, I was thinking maybe I should have held the Doggie hostage, and asked for a reward.

She offered me a cup of tea, but fortunately, I didn’t have to lie to her to escape – I now really was late to pick up my boys from school.

As I power-walked to school, I was still grumpy, but also relieved that Doggie made it home safely. I realised that I was experiencing a deep internal conflict – although I just don’t like dogs (probably for irrational reasons), my maternal instincts had made me take Doggie home. He was little, and lost, and innocent – just like a toddler. And if someone who just didn’t like children found one of my kids wandering in the park, I really hope they would still bring him home to me (maybe I should put identity tags on my kids, just in case).

But I was also so irritated by the whole event, that I was inventing dog meat curry recipes in my head. Would dog meat be like lamb, or more like goat?

I made a mental note to look on the internet for dog meat recipes – just out of curiosity.

That way, maybe even I could learn to like dog(s).

FREE Worldwide Shipping at ASOS

asos_beachwear

The only thing that tops a SALE… is a CLEARANCE SALE at
ASOS Online Fashion!

Not to mention, they now are using a freight forwarder for shipping worldwide for a limited time only!!

Anyway, with the weather warming up in the land of OZ, I’ve been taking advantage of the summer clearances.

Clothes for warm weather – like shorts, dresses, skirts, tops and swimwear are all 30-50% off. Which is pretty damn sweet. Here are some bits and pieces I managed to get my hands on from ASOS. Photos above!

Swimsuit: Vintage style front-wrap
Slippers: Melissa Flip Flops with gorgeous little bows
Scarf: Floral scarf – which I use as a sarong
Shorts: Camel belted cotton shorts
Hat and sunglasses are my own.

Ah, if I had my way, I’d prefer to live in a tropical climate, where the whether is warm and balmy all year round. I could live in summery dresses, skirts and shorts ALL YEAR!

asos_swimwear

The swimwear on sale is pretty amazing too. You can get Ted Baker bikinis and French Connection swimsuits for US$20 – $50.

Fashion Artiste is another great fashion boutique based in Australia, with flat international shipping rates.

It stocks over 20 designers including, Life With Bird, Marnie Skillings, Antipodium, Kate Sylvester, and Spencer Lacy.

I’d say that the *best thing* about the online shop is their collection of low to mid-range prices of designer clothes. Meaning you get designer quality styles for a pretty good price. AND they are currently having a 30-70% off SALE.

They are also offering all my readers a special discount – 20% off everything in store, including sale items when you use the code KARENCHENG at first stage of checkout.

Have fun and enjoy your weekend!