Levi & Isla

A trip to Wye River and Mount Beauty recently has sparked a new interest, documenting children and the great outdoors together via photography. Hope you enjoy the images and I aim to take this interest further with a million ideas running through my mind at the moment.

– Shirlene Lai Allison xo


Ideas to keep toddlers entertained at home

So it has been a while now since I have written on this blog, life just got busy behind the scenes. This year, I have decided to take a little step back from Modelling and focus more of my energy on my print/ design business and spend more quality time with my toddler before number two makes an appearance. As they say, you will never get this time back and trust me it flies, Isla was a newborn not that long ago, I blinked and now she is nearly on her way to the terrible threes! I love this age group, they love you unconditionally and are not afraid to show their affections in public, they are fascinated by the most simple things in life and whinge about everything.

Here are some simple ideas you could try at home with your toddlers, that will not cost you an arm and a leg…

Plastic Bottles

Nuts, Rice & Pebbles.1) Music Makers.
Find some empty plastic bottles and fill them with either nuts, rice or some small pebbles and there you have it, instant maracas.
Coloured Squares2) Learn your colours.
Head down to Bunnings and grab yourself a handful of coloured paint sheet samples. Once you get home spread the coloured sheets around the room and get your child to place items of the same colour range with the right coloured sheets. Its fun and educational.
Op Shop Clothes3) Play Dress ups.
Keep a box at home and fill it with old items e.g. scarves, sunglasses, hats or even head down to your local op shop and stock up on some outfits. Little girls can be so funny sometimes, I’m not sure when it all started, but Isla now only wants to wear dresses and shorts, even on cold days.
Tent4) Go Camping Indoors.
Why not change it up a little, instead of sleeping in the bedroom for one night, set up a tent with sleeping bags in the lounge room and instead of using lights around the home, use a torch to complete the experience.
Veggie Patch5) Green Thumb.
Grow your own fruits and vegetables and teach your children the basics. What I find is, if Isla picks the vegetables herself and then helps me in the kitchen preparing it, she is more likely to eat it.
Playdoh6) Playdoh
Hard to go past the trusty old Playdoh, you can make it yourself at home or buy the ready made ones in store. This product is inexpensive and can keep the kids entertained. It’s a great creative outlet and really works on their imaginations.

If you have any more ideas, I would love to hear about it.

– Shirlene Lai Allison xo

Sri Lanka

This was a very spur of the moment adventure. No kidding… My sister wins holidays as often as she eats breakfast! So that’s how we ended up in the country known for its spices and beaches, Sri Lanka.

The first two days were planned and for the rest of the journey, we pretty much winged it.

Our first stop was a meditation retreat in the jungle, The Kandy Samadhicentre. I highly recommend it there, purely for the amazing food and the experience of being isolated and so close to nature.


Next stop was Kandy. Apparently we missed seeing Prince Charles by 20 minutes who was just outside the hotel we stayed at.
09025010802205For a truly authentic Sri Lankan experience, catch the railway train. Most of the trip was spent in sweaty, cramped conditions, with children sharing lap spaces of total strangers. Buskers and beggars would wonder aimlessly through the carriages trying to make a dollar or two.

We chatted to many locals as best as we could, but a word of warning, do not have a full bladder. There are no toilets on board!
0230407016For all the single ladies, there are a lot of friendly men there!

Next stop, the beach town of Galle.
01302702403This lovely lady that we stumbled upon and who spoke very little english kept calling me and my sister her daughters. She ended up offering us a room for $10 dollars and even stayed up late at night just to make sure we returned safely to her place. Just an all round beautiful soul.
026I have a bad habit of photographing Linda as she sleeps. Yes, I am weird!
06Last stop, Colombo.
The National Museum was worth a visit and The Gallery Cafe was a sensational place to dine.
02So there you have it, the adventures of S and L in Sri Lanka!

Photos by Linda Lai & Shirlene Lai Allison.

– Shirlene Lai Allison xo


What is a Casting?


* Image sourced from The Daily Telegraph.

The best way to describe a casting is to compare it to a job interview. This becomes a large part of a working Model’s schedule and there is no escaping it unless you are Miranda Kerr! So whats involved? On average, you have about 5 minutes to impress the client. So within this small time frame, you are expected to leave a lasting impression by building a rapport, showcasing your body of work (portfolio) and you may also be expected to… a) show off your runway skills b) get your photos taken or c) improvise/ present live to camera depending on what you are casting for.

Remembering the whole time you are judged on your appearance! Sometimes you may be up against a handful of Models for the job and other times there may be hundreds going for the same role (when this happens, it’s known as a cattle call. I bet you are thinking that is a terrible word to describe a large scale casting!) When you don’t get the job and you have done the best that you can, all you can do is brush it aside and recognise the fact, that you just didn’t fit the pre-determined criteria of the clients expectation. This is what separates the thick skinned Models that last in the industry to the ones that give up earlier on due to taking rejections to heart.


* Image sourced from The Weekly Review.

Trust me though, when you do get picked as the Model that fits the bill, especially on the larger scale campaigns, you really do appreciate all the work that goes on between the agent and the Model, even before you get to the castings!

Here is a little story…

This is a picture of beautiful Natalia Ko, the first professional Model that I met at my very first casting, 12 years ago. I was in awe as I thought she looked immaculate. Ko has represented many major brands including Nike and Garnier in Asia.

Funnily enough, we were cast in a scene together for a Reflex Paper TV commercial. Picture this, my first ever casting and there I was acting out a scene as though I was fighting between Natalia for the attention of a guy, all this while only dressed in our bikinis. Talk about an introduction to the industry!

So after the casting that day, we both ended up hanging out in Chapel Street together and to this day is still a dear friend. Thank you for taking me under your wings when I was a newbie and showing me the ropes. For that, I am grateful.

– Shirlene Lai Allison xo

To Hike or Not to Hike

photo-2Two weeks ago, on the coldest day of July (smack bang in the middle of Winter here in Australia) the husband and I decided to complete the ultimate challenge. Hike forty kilometres in a day and spend the night camping in the great outdoors. Slightly crazy, a little bit absurd, but what can I say, it challenged us mentally and physically to an extreme level. Personally, I wanted to see how far I could push myself before breaking point.
photo-1The hike we decided to tackle in the sensational Wilsons Promontory National Park was recommended to be completed over two to three days in their brochure. Throughout the hike, we were constantly chasing the light, leaving hardly anytime for recovery. Carrying four litres of water and only a daypack, we had no choice but to make it back to where we started. There was a moment where we had to endure waist high hyperthermia temperature water as we crossed the river in our underwear to get to the other side. Who knew that cold water temperature could actually cause physical pain. Throughout the hike my hands were both swollen from the cold air, my mind started playing tricks on me a few hours in were I started to think I had frostbite in my hands.
photo-3At the moment we turned around to walk back at the 20 kilometre mark, I was mentally and physically giving up, my legs felt like stone. My loving husband at this stage was yelling military style, that if we didn’t hike any faster we would be stuck out here in the open wildness, in the dark and cold. That was enough motivation to keep me going. We continued the last hour and a half in complete darkness with our handheld torch, which felt like a never ending trail back to civilisation.

Never in my life have I felt so happy to see my frosted covered car in the car park that my legs literally gave way. The next best thing was blasting the car heater on.

The best thing…. I gave it my all.

– Shirlene Lai Allison xo

East Timor

“The most destructive cyclone that hit Australia occurred on Christmas Eve in 1974. Cyclone Tracy wiped out over 70% of Darwin’s buildings and 40,000+ people were left homeless. An eighteen year old backpacker from East Timor couldn’t return back home to Dili. No flights were operating and his passport was missing in action.

What was supposed to be a 2 week adventure ended up being 39 years!
This guy would end up being my Dad and if it wasn’t for Cyclone Tracy I’m pretty certain my sister and I wouldn’t have been born and given the chance to grow up in one of the best countries in the world.”- Linda Lai (my sister)

Only a few days ago I was still in the searing heat of East Timor, trying my best to find a connection with the country my parents called home as children. The untouched natural beauty of the island is surrounded by the chaos of litter and unfinished roads in the town centre. It is somewhat ugly and beautiful at the same time and has so much potential to grow as an independent country. The people are friendly and the mountains and surrounding beaches are like magic, so pristine and untouched.

I will let the photos do the talking here…


– Shirlene Lai Allison xo

The One Way Route

Linda LaiLoving this photo of my sister who has been backpacking solo around the World for this past year. She is currently in the Himalayas at a silent retreat, so no technology or talking for 10 full days, curious to know how she is going! What a trooper.

For anyone who is interested in reading up on what kickstarted her journey around the four corners of the globe, check out:  http://theonewayroute.tumblr.com/page/12

– Shirlene Lai Allison xo