everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

EverydaySparks Gift Idea #374 – Hey, Pillow Face

Now this is a gift I really like. At the risk of spoiling this year’s Christmas present surprises, I can think of so many faces for so many cushions for so many of my family and friends – I reckon it would be a real hit. And they deliver all around the world, so it’s a far cheaper way of sending the kids to stay with Granny in Iceland. I first saw PillowMob featured on a Fab.com sale. Their tag line is “All your face are belong to us”, which sounds like the kind of slightly dodgy translation more commonly found on a Hello Kitty pencil case. Although these ‘pillow faces’ are made in Seattle, Washington.

You can choose from the range of cushions featuring animals, food items or random strangers – or you can upload your own photo and the clever folk at PillowMob will turn the face (or whatever) into a cushion. Like so…

 

 

Copyright issues permitting, I’m thinking of furnishing my apartment with a Liam Neeson, a Don Draper, a cupcake, a bowl of gelato and maybe a Sharpei puppy, because they’re funny. The possibilities are endless – and imagine the fright you could give someone by sending them a giant cushion of your face in the post…I’m off to write my list – if you’re on that list and you read this blog, please act surprised when you receive your pillow face! You can check out the Pillow Mob website here.

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Something to think about…

I’m aware that today’s post will definitely not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that might kinda even be the point. Most of us are so busy, busy, busy that we don’t really stop and think about things. I mean big picture things, not what type of lettuce to buy or what time bus to catch or what colour top to wear. Stumble Upon recently steered me towards an amazing site called Thought Questions. It’s based on a very cool idea (or, at least, an idea that really appeals to me): “A question that makes you think is worth asking…So we ask one new thought-provoking question every day”. I like it a lot. And if you feel like sharing, you can enter your answer to the daily question or tell your story.

But back to the actual questions – the creators of the site suggest that “the questions posted here should be reviewed regularly when you have some quiet time to think. After all, reflection is the key to progression.” Amen to that. They remind visitors that there are no right or wrong answers to the questions asked. Anyways, enough jibber jabbering, here are some examples for you…

 

They use cool images with their thought-provoking questions. Looking through the archives was an interesting experience – I rolled my eyes at some, wanted to wallpaper my apartment with others, and considered sending a few on to different people I know. If you’re interested, you can like Thought Questions on Facebook or sign up for the daily question to be emailed to you. The website is here if you’d like to check it out.

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Diner en Blanc in Sydney

On what was a beautiful Saturday evening this past weekend, we were greeted by a strange sight as we waited for the ferry to the city. The wharf was packed with over 50 people all dressed in white. Our first thought was – wedding. Then we realised that EVERYONE was in white and they appeared to be carrying their own chairs and tables and bags and boxes, so that would be quite a peculiar wedding. I’ll be honest, my hope was for something rather more exciting than a wedding – I was thinking cult members or maybe an alien invasion.

It seems that fashion is a huge part of Diner en Blanc. This pic on the Diner en Blanc Sydney Facebook page was for inspiration, I think. I did not see any hats like this around Circular Quay on Saturday. Which is a good thing, as the place was packed.

Alas, the real world again failed to live up to my imagination – when those of us dressed in darker colours dared to approach the white folk and ask WTF they were doing, we were let in on the secret. To quote the pretty north shore dolly that I heard explaining the concept: “Well, it’s called Diner en Blanc and it’s, like, a flash mob dinner thing, like, this French idea where you, like, have to wear white and you turn up to a secret location and, like, eat your dinner with a bunch of randoms and then pack up and go home.” Of course, she had me at FLASH MOB DINNER THING.

Pic from the Diner en Blanc Sydney Facebook page.

Disappointed though I was that they were not cult members or preparing for an alien invasion (at least, not that they were prepared to admit), I was impressed when the ferry turned up at Circular Quay and the public space in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art appeared to have been taken over by hundreds and hundreds of whiteys (technically, blanc-ys, I guess). As we later found out, there were almost 1500 people enjoying this flash mob dining experience under the stars alongside Sydney harbour. Of course, as a curious cat I wanted to know more about this phenomenon, so here is what I found out…

The first secret dinner was held, naturally, in Paris. Over 20 years ago, the concept started out on a relatively small scale, but now sees 15,000 people occupying a public space for their evening picnic at this annual event. How does it work? I’ll let the official website tell the story: At the last minute, the location is given to thousands of friends and acquaintances who have been patiently waiting to learn the “Dîner en Blanc’s” secret place. Thousand of people, dressed all in white, and conducting themselves with the greatest decorum, elegance, and etiquette, all meet for a mass “chic picnic” in a public space.

Yum. A hamper by JOHNANDPETER for Diner en Blanc in Sydney (also from the event’s Facebook page).

That last sentence made me think that perhaps this wasn’t quite my cup of tea, after all. It sounds like quite a brilliant feat of organisation though – there are table leaders who are responsible for organising their troops prior to the event, and the whole event is set up and then packed up by the guests (with the intention of not leaving a trace of their occupation behind). According to the official website, the select guest list are automatically re-invited the following year, unless of course they have “transgressed the rules or desisted at the last moment, deterred by ominous clouds”, in which case ” their name and email will be put on a black list, prohibiting them from registering for future editions.” Ooh la la.

I like the idea, but my ideal flash mob dinner thing would feature a more casual dress code (though probably with compulsory wigs or hats) and a less formal setup. Actually, you may already know my flash mob dinner thing as a casual summer picnic with friends. Maybe I should try it on a larger scale though, sending out a cryptic message via this blog for a Pique-nique en EverydaySparks. We could eat and drink and speak nonsense for an evening. Allons-y! (I think that is ‘let’s go’, from my high school French classes – apologies to Madame de Reland if that is incorrect.)

You can check out more about this amazing event on Facebook here or the official website here.

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Back on the run

You might recall that I suffered a bit of an overuse injury when running in Dublin recently. As a result, I have been laying low and doing very little (aside from walking slowly and painfully like an arthritic granny) for about six weeks now. It’s really disappointing, as I had been getting into a regular running pattern and was definitely seeing improvements in my ability to run further and longer. Not even close to marathon fit, by any means, but pleased with my progress. Anyways, then my bursar got bursitis and thought it would be funny to maintain a constant vigil of pain in my left leg, from my hip to my knee. Good times, bursar, good times. That led me to the horrors of the physio and his torture chamber, which left me bruised and battered. And better, it would seem. I’ve been doing my stretches (not in public, as most of them are quite strange looking) and thought that today would be a good day to get back on the run.

It’s a beautiful summery day in Sydney today, so I went to my old stomping ground – which also happens to be a welcome flat course – around Canada Bay. It’s a lovely spot to walk and run – between the water and the trees, you can kinda forget that part of it is next to one of Sydney’s busiest roads.

Not bad, eh? NB, this was taken on one of my many walking breaks.

So I walked most of the course, with three five-minute running intervals. Which felt like the physio was right beside me, punching me in the thigh as I ran along. Luckily, vanity prevailed, and the fear of being out-run by the elderly kept me going.

Discrimination in our community. KEEP TO YOUR SIDE, BIKES!

As often happens, there was a chick keeping almost the same pace as me (although probably not leaning to one side as much as me), so we traded places as one or the other started to run for a bit. I took this photo when she was ahead, as I thought it wouldn’t have been very sporting to turn around and take one as she dropped behind me. She was wearing a top like a zebra – when she was behind me, I wondered where “stripey lady” was at; and then when she repeatedly ran ahead and stopped just metres in front of me as if to taunt me, my mind said, “Oh, there you are, stripey face cow”. I’m not proud of myself, but that’s what I thought.

Run along, stripey.

Nice day for it.

Did I mention the trees? Such a pretty vista from the path, any way you look.

And as it approached midday, I was feeling pretty hot (not as in smokin’, but as in sweaty) and there, towards the end of the run was this classic Aussie mirage, looking so inviting.

They really need a slide from the bridge directly to the pool for walkers/runners – so near and yet so far…

And now? After stretching and applying anti-inflammatory gel and taking anti-inflammatory tablets, I’ve got a pack of frozen corn nestled next to me, trying to get rid of the pain that has crept back. But hopefully this is the beginning of my comeback and my bursar will return to life as before – when I didn’t even know it existed.

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A puggle named Beau

In exciting news for people who love animals, people who love Australia, or people who just love strange looking creatures with funny names, Sydney’s Taronga Zoo have announced that they’re now looking after a 40 day old puggle (that’s zootalk for ‘baby Echidna’ to you and me). Its name is Beau and it was found in a caravan park on the central coast. Presumably not on a surfing holiday, given Beau’s tender age.

Beau the Puggle

Although, Beau might have been relishing an early taste of freedom – in what seems to me like a pretty severe form of grounding, adult female Echidnas generally “stash their young in a burrow from about 50 days old”, according to experts from the Zoo. And they don’t let them out for months. Although, they do home deliver food to their puggles, so that’s a plus.

Feeding time at the zoo.

And while we won’t know whether it’s Mr Beau or Miss Beau for some months yet, we do know that young Beau has a healthy appetite – according to the Zoo, “Beau resembles a mini vacuum cleaner, going back and forth making sure every drop of milk is sucked up – contributing to its ever growing belly”. You go, Beau.

Oh, Beau

So, there you go. A little story about Beau – from a trailer park on the central coast to a prime harbourside pad in Sydney, without the constraints of gender or hair. Good luck to you, pretty puggle.

You can check out more photos and videos of Beau on the Taronga Zoo website here.

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Countdown to Halloween

Halloween is next week. It was never a thing when I was growing up in Sydney, but now it definitely is becoming a big thing here. You can tell because the $2 shops are full of pumpkin-shaped buckets, wizard dress-up kits, bags of spiders and webs – and the price of the humble straw broom has tripled. Last year, I went trick-or-treating with some of my nieces, in the streets around their neighbourhood. It was a great community set up and people really got into it – of course, I was there just for supervisory purposes and to enforce good manners…but I did manage to sneak a jelly rat and a sugared skull or two into my pocket. Some of the residents were delighted to come out and meet the kids and admire their costumes – others must have felt compelled to join in, as they just left buckets of lollies at the very perimeter of their property, presumably so they could barricade themselves inside and not be interrupted by the neighbourhood goblins.

I’m not sure if we’re going again this year, but I really feel like I should make up for the lifetime of trick-or-treating that I’ve missed. I need to find a costume though – the danger of turning up without one is that the kids will say, “Oh, you came as a witch – good one”. And it would take a lot of sugary treats to get over that…

Jack the pumpkin (2011)

Milly the dog wasn’t keen on wearing her costume.

A monster arrived straight from tae kwon do (hence the outfit and un-monsterlike shoulder bag).

Witches and devils on the hunt. For lollies, not souls.

Some neighbours went to a huge effort. At least, I don’t think these guys are here all year.

Happy Halloween, one and all. And please feel free to share any pics or tales of your Halloween festivities!

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Mad Monday

Today was a strange day in Sydney. It started out all grey and cold and rainy, but then the clouds cleared and out came the summer-strength sun. Crazy.

Most Mondays, I pick up some of my nieces from school – we pal around, have a nice afternoon tea, talk about our day, do homework (theirs, not mine) and help to make the family’s dinner. It’s one of the highlights of my week and I’m super lucky to have this time with them – while they’re still young enough to think that I’m relatively cool.

Anyways, these last few Mondays we’ve been on a mission. 7-Eleven is having a 13 week Slurpee promotion leading into summer. We’ve taken this as a 13 week challenge – there’s a different flavour of Slurpee each week. We missed the first week (Sour Watermelon) and last week, the machine was busted (Strawberry Citron, so nobody was too upset) and today was Vanilla Cola. Good times. I asked the man if he could let us in on the secret of next week’s flavour, but he said that he’d have to look it up on the system…and then turned away and smiled vaguely into the middle distance…

The Slurpee Barista

Even a cold, rainy day doesn’t stop us. Just pull your school jumper sleeves into Slurpee holders.

Afternoon tea. All natural colours and flavours…

‘Til next week, Slurpee fans…

3 down, 10 to go…

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Keep it simple

I guess I’ve been trying to simplify my life. Jumping off the corporate treadmill (or, at least, jumping on the side of the treadmill pretty regularly, so I don’t get sucked down the back of the machine, catching my shoe and falling flat on my face); trying to ditch the stuff I don’t need in my home (granted, living in an apartment adds a little pressure there); trying to eat all of the food that I buy (and not let it turn into a science experiment at the bottom of the fridge); trying to steer clear of so many things that I don’t really need when I’m shopping (yep, I’m looking at you, shiny kitchen appliances and cook books). Stuff like that.

Keep it simple – a great goal, but easier said than done. That’s why I like this list of prompts, which I saw on Facebook without any credit to the person who put it together, so unfortunately I’m unable to thank them. I think it’s a really good reminder – especially if there’s a busy weekend ahead, or you’re putting off something that you need to sort out, or you forget that other people don’t have a telepathic line to your mind. Maybe it really can be this simple? I reckon it’s worth a shot!

 

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EverydaySparks. Gangnam style.

I’m always amazed by how quickly the market can respond to trends. Not the stock market, but the market for clothing and accessories that are quickly produced and often sold cheaply to take advantage of something that’s very now. And since now can be so fleeting – yesterday’s “Team Aniston” t-shirt is tomorrow’s rag for dusting – I am in awe of people and companies who can produce trend-based products, getting in and out of the market before people move onto the next big thing.

And the current ‘big thing’ seems to be that South Korean rapper/dancer/jockey PSY and his song Gangnam Style. The song was released in July this year and it seems to be spreading around the world. And, like a fluffy koala that bites you, or a delicious apple with a worm in it, this song seems cute and innocent at first, but progresses quickly to SUPER ANNOYING on the richter scale. Yes, that is a measure on the richter scale.

I knew it had gone too far when I saw Australia’s Today show this morning – they crossed to a school playground full of little kids dancing around to Gangnam Style. On the face of it, I say good on them for dancing – getting away from their ipods and high sugar cereals and torturing passengers on public buses. But there’s something kinda creepy about 6 year olds shouting along to the song, “HEEEEY, SEX-Y LAY-DEEEEE” and making strange moves that must be mimicking the video clip. Still, I think most of the other words are in Korean, so I guess they can’t be blamed for going with what they know. Although I do like that one of the kids at my niece’s school has changed those words to, “Heeeey, steak and gra-vy”. Much more age appropriate, sonny.

Anyways, if you want to impress your friends and family with your very own Gangnam style, check out these finds from etsy – I couldn’t believe the range of options. But you’d better get in quick, as there’s probably an obscure rapper/dancer/jockey from a tiny village in Botswana putting the finishing touches on his latest dance hit and getting ready to launch it to the world…

Only $9.99 for this Gangnam Style bow tie from TessaROXX.

I feel like there is a giant “Keep Calm” factory out there somewhere, cranking the handle day & night to produce more “Keep Calm And…” products. This one is from appleholic.

For a trendy baby. Not sure what the deal is with the pearls though, but whatevs. This is from Sassy Kat Boutique.

And I just found this shop – Impressive Steps. You can customise flip flops with your own message, so that you can leave a trail of advertising, or messages of love, or just plain nonsense across the beach.

Taking it to the beach. Gangnam Style. From iStep.

And if you have no idea what this Gangnam Style is all about, here’s the You Tube clip that started all the madness. And fuelled an industry producing heaps of stuff with a very short shelf life. Which is surely another topic for another day…

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Hilarious Fingerprint Portraits by Artist Dito Von Tease

Here at EverydaySparks, we love finger puppets. And these Italian designed finger folk take it to the next level – just incredible! Especially love the Dalai Lama and Ronald McDonald. Who’s your fave?

DENY DESIGNS

Recognize any of these fingerprints? Well you should thanks to the elusive Italian artist known only as Dito Von Tease.

Dito has embarked on a project called Ditology that features eerily familiar portraits of celebrities on the ordinary human finger. The faces produced on each solo finger range from the well-known public personality (Steve Jobs) and political figure (Che Guevara) to the fictional icon (Mr. T) and religious guru (Dalai Lama). There is no person that is off limits in this lighthearted, comical series. Every “person” in the presented portraits is intricately adorned, costumed, and given an appropriate backdrop.

In addition to the ongoing project’s humorous nature, the artist behind the work adds another level of playfulness through his entirely appropriate chosen name “Dito” that translates as “finger” in Italian, which would also mean that Ditology translates as Fingerology. What’s perhaps most ironic in all of this is…

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