everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

I am studying at Harvard and you can too.

I was out with my lovely friend Jen last week and we were talking about our lives over a nice bottle of pinot gris. I was talking about how I’m at a bit of a crossroads and not sure what to do next and Jen told me about a course that someone at her work had told the HR peeps about. It’s a free online course that they’re trialling at Harvard University – Unlocking the Immunity to Change.

A lot of time and effort and psychological brain power has gone into the development of this course (and the Immunity to Change process that sits behind it), which seems – in a nutshell – to support the proposition that you can teach an old dog new tricks. So, when people say, “I’m too old to learn X”, or, “I’ve always been like this – too late to change now”, or, “There is no way that I can stop/start doing Y”, it may well be a load of nonsense.

Apparently, this process gives you easy steps to help focus on a self development type of goal – maybe one that you’ve struggled with for a while, but have never been able to achieve. Through the online course (which has a very user-friendly interface and lots of support – I’ve just checked out the introductory info for Week 1), you’ll be guided through the process and invited to participate in activities. There’s no pressure – you don’t have to comment on forums or submit assignments, but the obvious suggestion is that if you’re really interested in achieving your goal, you might as well have a crack at the activities that the experts provide.

Anyways, if you’re interested in this course too, you can sign up for it here and the first week of readings/activities etc starts from Tuesday.

I’m a bit of a geek and have always wanted to study at Harvard, so the online course commitment was an easy decision for this old dog. And whether you are hoping to give up smoking or join the circus or lose weight or run a marathon or fold a fitted sheet, you might like to join me.

New tricks? I say bring them on, Harvard.

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St Patrick’s Day Fashion

Now that I’ve given you some ideas on what to cook for St Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d share some suggestions about fashion choices for the day that’s in it. Not that you should limit yourself – most of these looks are versatile enough to carry you through any occasion, or even just a trip to buy groceries. In putting this ‘look book’ together, I have left out the vast majority of items on sale for St Patrick’s Day (lots of shirts featuring puns about being lucky or Irish or drunk or green or beer or leprechauns)…

If you’re looking for something understated that could easily transition from work to play, I suggest this ‘tuxedo style’ t-shirt from The Bee Tees. It is available in men’s, women’s and children’s sizes, so you could even kit out the whole family. If that is something that you want to do.

I especially like the detail of the pockets. The class of a tux with the convenience of a t-shirt. [image from The Bee Tees]

The class of a tux with the convenience of a t-shirt. I especially like the detail of the pockets.
[image from The Bee Tees]

This next item caught my eye on etsy because of its sparkle and its green-ness. Then I read the title and was shocked. Shocked, I tell you. Here’s the title: emerald green st patrick’s day shoe cake topper sugar edible glitter sparkley glass slipper. Now, I know that is a lot of detail to take in, but the main point is that THIS IS MADE OF SUGAR. If you have a chance, it’s worth checking out the amazing range of items in the Sweet Pea Sugar Art shop. (Technically, I guess this should have gone in yesterday’s food post.)

A (sugar) emerald slipper. Genius. [image from Sweet Pea Sugar Art]

A (sugar) emerald slipper. Genius.
[image from Sweet Pea Sugar Art]

I was looking for some fashion suggestions for the ladies, but unfortunately it would seem that most of the St Patrick’s Day ‘costumes’ for women are – how shall I put it – not in keeping with tradition. There are a lot of skimpy outfits such as ‘sexy leprechaun’ and ‘beer girl’ and ‘Irish lass’, but if that’s not your thing either, then perhaps you will consider these ‘neon green furry leg warmers’ I found on ebay.

Now THAT'S hot. [image from ebay]

Now THAT’S hot.
[image from ebay]

And we can’t forget the (real) little people on St Patrick’s Day. This ‘beard hat’ from By Miss Sally caught my eye because (a) it’s a great crocheted hat and (b) it’s being modelled by a child stuck in a big green pot. But mostly because it’s a great hat.

Just chillaxing. Nothing to see here. [image from By Miss Sally]

Just chillaxing. Nothing to see here.
[image from By Miss Sally]

Last, but not least, here’s a way to get your pet involved in the festivities. This dog hat will make sure that your pet is stylin’ it up on Monday (or whenever the mood strikes). I also feel like this dog is trying to communicate in this pic from Doggy Diva Boutique in the States. In fact, most of the photos displaying the shop’s wares are intriguing. But, I think that’s another post for another time.

Not sure this dog is feeling the luck of the Irish. [image from Doggy Diva Boutique]

Not sure this dog is really feeling the luck of the Irish.
[image from Doggy Diva Boutique]

Whatever you’re wearing, I wish you and yours a very happy St Patrick’s Day.

(Oh, and far be it from me to judge – if you really want to check out some of the costumes that I didn’t include here, or if you need more supplies for your celebrations, you can have a look on Amazon: Shop Amazon – St. Patricks Day – Shop books, costumes, party supplies, and more.)

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A Leprechaun Trap and other delicious stuff

As you may know, St Patrick’s Day is coming up on Monday. As a fan of Ireland and almost everything Irish (I’m sorry, Father Ted. I have tried, but I just do not like your show), I thought I would help you out with your preparations this week. I have gathered together some Oirish things that have caught my eye and today, the focus is food. You’re welcome.

First up, the incredible Leprechaun Trap Cake from Megan, who blogs a lot of very cool stuff (not just Oirish cakes) at Not Martha.

First up, attract your leprechaun with the lure of gold. [image from Not Martha]

1. Attract your leprechaun with the lure of gold (and help him out with a pretzel ladder).
[image from Not Martha]

2. Hide a pretzel trap under the gold, so the wee fella falls through. [image from Not Martha]

2. Hide a pretzel trap under the gold, so the wee fella falls through.
[image from Not Martha]

3. Enjoy the magical rainbow cake, with or without your leprechaun. [image from Not Martha]

3. Enjoy the magical rainbow cake, with or without your leprechaun.
[image from Not Martha]

Next, St Patrick’s Day Pancakes from the FashionPlaytes blog. Whilst they are not so quirky, they are very easy to make and I have never seen a batch quite so green…

Yikes. [image from Fashion Playtes]

Yikes.
[image from Fashion Playtes]

And of course I had to look on etsy, just in case. I found these disturbingly named Irish Car Bomb Cake Pops from the shop Bella Roca Cakes. I then discovered that (maybe you already knew this?) the Irish Car Bomb is a drink that was invented in an American bar – by dropping a shot of Baileys + Jameson whiskey into Guinness. And I just gave an involuntary shiver as I wrote that. According to Wikipedia, you have to drink it quickly so it doesn’t curdle. Or you could just get these cake pops instead – they don’t curdle and they include chocolate.

Much nicer than the real thing.  [image from Bella Roca Cakes]

Much nicer than the real thing.
[image from Bella Roca Cakes]

Last, but not least, in case you want to keep your o’snacking healthy – here’s a “pot of gold” for you. But I’ve got to say, I’m more likely to be your friend if you make the leprechaun trap cake than this vegetable combo (although I do like carrots and they are good for your eyes, apparently).

The serving suggestion is to place the "pot o' gold" at the end of a "rainbow" of vegetables, with a "cloud" of ranch dressing.  [image from Spoonful]

The serving suggestion is to place the “pot o’ gold” at the end of a “rainbow” of vegetables, with a “cloud” of ranch dressing. To be sure, to be sure.
[image from Spoonful]

Bon appétit! Or, as they say in Ireland, bon appétit!

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Just say yes

Yesterday, I went shopping for a new pair of shoes. Not just ordinary shoes, but a pair of soccer boots. For me. Because I AM GOING TO PLAY SOCCER. Yes, really. I’m excited and nervous and not sure what I am doing (literally, as I have never ever played soccer before). And those are pretty much the reasons that I said yes when my friend Janet asked me if I wanted to join her in a new team for mature (cough, cough) ladies.

footballThere’s a quote that I’ve seen somewhere that asks When was the last time you did something for the first time? Particularly after my Camino experience last year, it has really sunk in that the older we get, the less we try new things. Not necessarily because we’ve done them all already, but often because we feel like the time has passed to give something new a go. Maybe we just don’t see new opportunities, or we quickly say no (I couldn’t possibly do that!) because we’re scared, or it could just be the irresistible lure of that ol’ comfort zone. Boo.

My friend Jo started singing lessons in her late 30s because it was something she’d always wanted to try. It quickly became one of her favourite things. My folks learned how to use an ipad and iphone in their 70s. Aside from the occasional emergency calls for tech support (WHY HAS MY WORDS WITH FRIENDS GONE BLANK?), it’s opened up a whole new interesting world of technology for them. My sister-in-law started piano lessons in her 40s and can now play the theme song from Titanic (ok, so that’s possibly not a highlight). My virtual friend Jo (from This Sydney Life) finally satisfied a long-standing curiosity and took up crochet, attending a local class, with some hilarious results.

And so I went into 2014 with a focus on saying yes to more things – especially new things – or, at least, not immediately saying no. Which is where my new boots come in – they’re pinker than pink, with a fluoro green lining and I found it a little intimidating just prancing around the shop in them.

Uh huh.Uh huh.

I’m going to my first training session on Thursday night (it runs for two – count them, TWO – hours) and hopefully the people will be nice (and patient!) and my shoes will give me super powers and it will be fun. Whatever happens from here, just saying yes can be pretty exciting!

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