everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

Remember to Flush

Last week, in an effort to broaden my horizons and learn new things, I joined in the Start the new YOU now ULTIMATE WEBINAR (their emphasis) from self-help guru and publishing house giant, Louise Hay. Louise herself is enough to have piqued my curiosity – still very active and involved in her business, in good health and seemingly of sound mind, at the age of 87. In the videos that I saw, she looked to be rockin’ some forward fashion and a pixie ‘do, with the front of her hair dip-dyed bright red.

There were a lot of experts sharing their ideas in this ULTIMATE WEBINAR – some very interesting possibilities and helpful tips for living a healthier and happier life. But it was something in the nutrition seminar that really caught my attention and impressed me enough to share it.

They were talking about good nutrition and how a big part of that is successful elimination of waste from our bodies. You know, pooping. And they spoke about how important it is that you get rid of stuff that your body doesn’t need. Then Louise spoke about the link between that and the rest of your life – and that was the zingy bit that stayed with me.

Flushing toiletLouise spoke about how some people live their lives as if they have eliminated the bad / unwanted stuff, flushed and then reached down in the toilet to retrieve the poop back from the pipes to study it. Gross. But the analogy works. Instead of letting go of things that are gone / in the past, we bring them back up to analyse and re-analyse and then analyse some more. What if I did this? What if I said that? I wonder what that really meant? All generally very unhelpful as the situation has passed.

When Louise finds herself doing this – rehashing something that has passed and needs to be let go – she reminds herself of the poop analogy by saying, “FLUSH, LOUISE. FLUSH.” If you substitute your name for Louise’s, I think it’s a pretty nifty reminder when you’re tempted to dwell on the past. Especially if it’s poop from the past, if you know what I mean. Instead, FLUSH!

 

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We are Village people

Yesterday was a perfect summer evening in Sydney. After a hot day, a light breeze appeared from nowhere and the sky was that beautiful deep blue, without a cloud. (Apologies if you’re reading my summertime ramble and you’re battling through the northern hemisphere winter.) We had arranged to meet at the Sydney Festival Village for drinks – part of the amazing Festival that takes over our city in summer. The Village is in Hyde Park and it is such a fantastic place to visit. It is open in the daytime, but it really comes to life after 4.30pm.

Yep, everyone is welcome.

Yep, everyone is welcome.

The atmosphere was incredible and the people-watching (one of my favourite hobbies) was fantastic. Such a diverse mix – young and old, heavily tattooed and corporate suits (maybe hiding the tattoos), hipsters, glamours, alternative dressers, lots of kids – and smiles all round as we enjoyed the late afternoon sunshine. Mostly with one of the 73 flavours of cider on offer. (Ok, not 73 flavours exactly, but did you know that orange & ginger cider is a thing?)

Chillaxing with the early crowd (around 6pm).

Chillaxing with the early crowd (around 6pm).

Anyways, it was such a lovely experience – and we didn’t even go on the giant inflatable Stonehenge jumping castle (the lady said it’s the only inflatable Stonehenge in the world and I believe her), or try the bizarro sweet tricks that Messina Gelato have crafted for the Village, or see a show at the very cool theatre they have built. So, we’ll have to go back!

We didn't try this, but it's pretty unique: one person at a time steps into that cargo container sort of box and gets a 1:1 concert (well, song) from a musician!

We didn’t try this, but there were quite a few people in the line and I can see why – it’s a pretty unique concept: one person at a time goes into that cargo container sort of box and gets a 1:1 concert (well, song) from the musician sitting in there!

Nothing says 'festival' more than a hipster selling jaffles from a bright yellow kombi van. Love it!

Nothing says ‘festival’ more than a hipster selling jaffles from a bright yellow kombi van. Love it!

Not a great pic of the inflatable Stonehenge, but you get the idea...

Not a great pic of the inflatable Stonehenge, but you get the idea…

The City of Sydney set up a very cool library - giving away books. Lots of people sitting around reading too. Such a great idea!

The City of Sydney set up a very cool library – giving away books. Lots of people sitting around reading too. Such a great idea!

Aiyaiyai, Gelato Messina.

Aiyaiyai, Gelato Messina.

If you’re in Sydney and can check it out before 26 January, I strongly suggest that you make a visit to the Village! More details about the Sydney Festival can be found on their website here. At the risk of being sappy, festivals like this make me so proud of our town – lots of people getting involved, a lot of the activities were free, and the sun’s shining: we really are very lucky!

A village in the heart of the city. With beach balls. Life is good!

A village in the heart of the city. With beach balls. Life is good!

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Accessorising with Animals

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I love finding quirky gift ideas to help you with presents for those tricky-to-buy-for people in your life. And when I saw this series of items, I just had to share. Whether someone really loves animals, or isn’t allowed to have real pets in their apartment, or is a stressed-out big-wig Exec VP GM CFO OMG, or just needs a funky carrying device, I present to you some of the highlights from Ben Tsang’s etsy shop: BENWINEWIN. (And I have to say that any shop that has wine and win in its name has already got me.)

"Brown Cat Bag" includes cat-like straps.  [image from BENWINEWIN]

Well, hello kitty! “Brown Cat Bag” includes cat-like straps, apparently.
[image from BENWINEWIN]

I feel like this Panda Purse would help to save money. The guilt trip from those sad eyes will keep the zipper closed tight. [image from BENWINEWIN]

I feel like this Panda Purse would help to save money. The guilt trip from those sad eyes: do you really need those expensive shoes? Will you really wear that hat again? Are the sequins really a wardrobe staple? Got bamboo?
[image from BENWINEWIN]

This owl cushion is basically the soft furnishing equivalent of a menacing whisper: YOU'RE ALWAYS BEING WATCHED.

This owl cushion is basically a menacing whisper: YOU’RE ALWAYS BEING WATCHED.
[image from BENWINEWIN]

The Pomeranian. Happiest dog-bag in the world. [image from BENWINEWIN]

The Pomeranian. Happiest dog-bag in the world.
[image from BENWINEWIN]

And my personal favourite…

Because everyone needs a giant raccoon by their side. [image from BENWINEWIN]

Because everyone needs a giant raccoon by their side.
[image from BENWINEWIN]

I hope you like these as much as I did – and please feel free to share this post with any friends who might also like what BENWINEWIN does. And if you needed another reason to visit the shop, Ben Tsang also takes custom orders…so you can carry your little Pixie or Spot or Roger (the raccoon, obviously) everywhere you go. You’re welcome!

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EverydaySparks Book Review #1

I have come up with a clever plan to help with my effort to read more books in 2014. It’s not a resolution, mind, it’s just an effort. Cos it was a resolution last year (along with painting my nails and seeing one new release movie per month) and that didn’t turn out quite so well. I’ve always been a reader – I am very grateful to my folks, who must have passed it on in the genes. I can’t hope to compete with my Dad in the reading stakes, though – he’s chain-reads books like a champ (well, books and more recently that Hay Day farming game on the iPad…grandpas these days…).

Anyways, I have a stupid number of half-read books perched menacingly on my bedside table – from funny books about the Camino, to sad books about the Camino, to educational books about packing for the Camino (probs should’ve finished that one before we went), to a book on advertising in the Mad Men era, to one about passengers on the Titanic. And, for good measure, there are a few more bookmarked on my coffee table. I’m sure there’s probably a name for it somewhere in that psychiatric handbook – bibliodistracta or something like that. But that’s so 2013 – this year, I’m all about making time to read (and that includes finishing) more books.

My clever plan? To read them and then tell you about them here, in case you might like them (or need a gift idea for a book-loving pal). Now, given that I’m recovering from bibliodistracta…and it’s only the beginning of the new year…and [insert another excuse here]…my first book review is for a small, 97 page non-fiction number from 2008. Ann Patchett is an American writer, though I must confess that I’d never heard of her until I read some reference to this book that she wrote following her inspirational commencement address to the almost-graduates of Sarah Lawrence College in New York.

An easy read with a cup of tea. Maybe two cups.

An easy read with a mug of tea. Maybe two mugs.

What now? is a nice little piece of motivation for people who are looking for a new direction or a bit of a sanity check about what they’re doing. I like Patchett’s style – it’s not an over the top, rah-rah, YOU ARE AWESOME kinda pep talk. It’s more of a story about the twists and turns that make up your life’s journey and how there’s really no ‘wrong’ decision –  it’s only in hindsight that you can see how the student became the waitress and the cook and the teacher and then the super-successful award-winning author. Hey presto – just like that!

NB, most pages have more words than this.

NB, most pages have more words than this. But I do like this inside cover.

I think this book is a nice gift for someone who’s finishing their studies or a job or whatever – it’s a small hardcover with lots of cool photos, full of sensible, practical inspiration. It’s a thought-provoking book, but overall I think it’s mostly reassuring: don’t get too stressed about the big question of WHAT AM I MEANT TO BE DOING???? Stop over-analysing; always keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities; learn from the people around you; and be ok with the fact that you’ll never be 100% sure that you’re on the ‘right track’. Because (in my words, not Patchett’s), there’s no such freakin’ thing.

Because I couldn't resist including this pic of grannies in a maze.

Because I couldn’t resist including this pic of grannies in a maze.

If the thoughtful, academic analysis of my first EverydaySparks Book Review makes you realise that you need this book too, you can check it out on Amazon here: What now?

Now, I’m off to finish another book to review before 2015 flies around…

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Things With Faces

I like things with faces. Animals, people, watches – those kinds of things. Nothing strange about that, I’m sure. But I really like spotting unexpected things with faces – in nature, or on inanimate objects like doors or street signs or pieces of toast.

Many years ago, I found a photography book made up entirely of images of faces in unexpected places and I was excited to know that there was at least one other person who shared my interest. And now, thanks to Facebook, I know that there are at least 63,976 people around the world who also like things with faces. Because there’s a Facebook page called Things with Faces. Their tag line is Admit it, you see a face. And it’s a very good page to look at if you need a giggle.

Time's up. [image from Things with Faces Facebook page]

Time’s up.
[image from Things with Faces Facebook page]

Say cheese. [image from Things with Faces Facebook page]

Say cheese.
[image from Things with Faces Facebook page]

Surprise! [image from Things with Faces Facebook page]

Surprise!
[image from Things with Faces Facebook page]

ET, in ice cream form.  [image from Things with Faces Facebook page]

ET, in ice cream form.
[image from Things with Faces Facebook page]

Happiness in a cup. [image from Things with Faces Facebook page]

Happiness in a cup.
[image from Things with Faces Facebook page]

And finally, one of my favourites.

[image from Things with Faces Facebook page]

[image from Things with Faces Facebook page]

If you’re on Facebook, I strongly suggest that you check out the Things with Faces page. (Oh, and while you’re there, you might want to like the EverydaySparks page too!) If you’re not on Facebook, you can always google ‘things with faces’ to find similar collections of pics. And when you’re out and about, remember to keep alert – THEY ARE ALWAYS WATCHING.

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Amigurumi? Yes!

Hello again. It’s been a while since my last post. For a whole heap of reasons, I’ve been finding it a bit tricky to find my way back after my extended Camino break late last year. But what better way to come back than with some teeny tiny crocheted (if that’s a word) animals from Vietnam. Thuy Mai Thu is the genius behind LamLinh – a ‘mini crochet amigurumi world’. And now that I have googled it, I can tell you that amigurumi is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small stuffed animals and anthropomorphic creatures. Uh huh.

I am not sure what you’re meant to do with these little guys, but I think the detail is incredible. And I admire anyone who chucks in their office job to pursue their passion – in this case, their passion for crocheting unbelievably tiny characters that can sit on your fingertips. Love your work, LamLinh!

Definitely an apartment-friendly dachshund, at a height of 1cm. [image from LamLinh, via etsy]

Definitely an apartment-friendly dachshund, at a height of 1cm.
[image from LamLinh.etsy.com]

Not so scary now, 2.5cm tall crochet Hulk. [image from LamLinh.etsy.com]

Not so scary now, 2.5cm tall crochet Hulk.
[image from LamLinh.etsy.com]

Favourite 'room-mates' of all time & probably my most favourite piece in this shop.  [image from LamLinh.etsy.com]

Favourite ‘room-mates’ of all time & probably my most favourite piece in this shop.
[image from LamLinh.etsy.com]

Everyone needs 'Ugly Black Cat' tapping across their piano keys. Or guarding the milk in the fridge.  [image from LamLinh.etsy.com]

Everyone needs ‘Ugly Black Cat’ tapping across their piano keys. Or guarding the milk in the fridge.
[image from LamLinh.etsy.com]

And a 1.5cm Kung Fu Panda to finish. Just because.  [image from LamLinh.etsy.com]

And a 1.5cm Kung Fu Panda to finish. Just because.
[image from LamLinh.etsy.com]

If you would like to check out more of the LamLinh collection, the etsy store is here. You can even request a custom-made amigurumi – now that would make a winning anniversary gift / special birthday celebration / amigurumi collector’s dream…

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