everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

New York books and things 

I love New York. I don’t have the t-shirt or mug or hat with that message plastered on it, but I really do heart New York. So many amazing things to see and do and watch and eat and drink, but today I wanted to tell you about a book shop (book store, if you prefer). It’s called Book Culture, and it’s brilliant. 

But first, here’s Central Park under snow this week…

Anyway, my favourite link in the Book Culture chain is the store on Columbus. If you’re in town, it’s a great place to look around and spent some quality time with books and gifts and trinkets and cool things. Even if you’re the fussiest fuss-pot, or if you’re looking for a gift for said fussiest fuss-pot, I’m pretty sure you’ll find something (or things) here.

I was lucky enough to visit again this week, and wanted to share a couple of examples of their awesomeness with you: a blind date with a book; and a beautiful desk with stationery and encouragement to sit down, relax, and write a letter. 

The “Blind Date with a book” table is full of different novels wrapped in brown paper. On each mysterious package is a note that helps you choose the best match for your date: with a list of three other novels (if you liked them, you’ll like this book too). Like an old-fashioned book match making service / lucky dip. Love it. 


And then there’s this desk, with a note encouraging letter writers to sit, write, and have their letter posted by the good people of Book Culture. With nearly 2,000 letters sent from this very spot, it’s clearly helping to rekindle the art of letter writing. And they have included some political addresses, but you could also write to your granny, kindergarten teacher, or boy next door. (Or anyone else.) Such a great idea.


And now here’s the city lit with a few touches of green on St Patrick’s Day. (The beautiful view is from the fab Top of the Rock experience.) Just because.

‘Til next time, NYC. Love ya.

Advertisements
1 Comment »

Capitol A for Amazing

I feel like I have seen a lot in my two days in Washington DC. Equally, I feel like I have seen hardly any of what’s possible to see in Washington DC. Suffice it to say, I hope to come back for more visits as I had a fantastic time. Even if it was super hot and humid weather!  

The Capitol. Adding to my collection of pics of landmarks under scaffolding when I visit.

 
Given my short trip, I knew I’d be happy if I got to spend time at Newseum (which I have been wanting to see for years), see some of the city, and maybe get to geek out at some other museums and historical places. Yesterday was a great day, but I’ll tell you more about that another time. 

Today was very interesting, with a case of (accidental) great timing leading to a pretty special experience. I was on the hop on-hop off city bus, and, given the furnace that awaited outside the air-conditioned bus, I definitely had to psych myself up to hop off at all. But of course I did, with less than a day left before I hopped on the train back to NYC.   

The Abraham Lincoln Memorial.

 

View from Lincoln Memorial to Washington Monument.

 
Great views, sure. But mostly, I wanted to see this big guy. And he was just as awesome as I’d hoped he’d be… 

Honest Abe.

 

And, for scale, here’s a normal-sized man next to President Lincoln… 

I shall name the other man Honest Gabe. Little pixie man that he is.

So that was all very interesting and in a stunning location. Then I headed down to the Korean War Memorial, and that’s where the magic happened. The memorial itself is incredible – 19 life-sized statues of men dressed in the heavy cold weather gear they would’ve worn during the war. Their faces are modeled on 19 actual US soldiers from that war, apparently. And they are set in a beautiful green garden. Very moving stuff – and proof that traditional art still works: you don’t always need a clever hologram or techno trickery to make your point.   

And then, I noticed a group of Korean gentlemen (mostly old timers, all in uniform) and one young Korean lady (in uniform) gathering, along with a couple of old American gentlemen with service medals and partly dressed in uniform.

I had happened across the beginning of a service of some sort. Some words were said (in Korean), a large wreath was laid, and they all saluted as the anthems of both countries were played. Then a bugler played (bugler, not burglar, to be clear) and everyone that was lurking and watching the scene like me was as quiet as a mouse. It was very moving.  

And a reminder that sometimes when you’re traveling, the unplanned experiences are the best.   

   

And after that, I went to the Museum of American History – yet another interesting museum, and so well designed and presented. These guys know how to do a good museum, that’s for sure. Too many cool things to mention, so I’ll just share this: Al Capone’s mug shot. Doesn’t he look like a nice young man, who would maybe serve you in a bookstore, or sit next to you on the bus to work? 

   

1 Comment »

Some snaps from WA

Greetings from here, the sunny south west of Western Australia. Rather than document the picture-perfect scenery, I thought I’d share some other snaps from WA. Not ones that you’ll be seeing in the tourist guidebooks any time soon, but I think they provide an important insight into some aspects of life in the west.

Supermarket elves pre-peel the onions here

Naked onions.

Naked onions.

Customised car license plates are very big here

Hey

Mrs

Even churches put wacky Christmas ads in the local paper here

Uh huh.

Uh huh.

So, there you go. There’s so much more to this stunningly beautiful part of the world than the incredible beaches, wine and food. You’re welcome!

1 Comment »

Happy New Year!

Hello and I hope that your 2015 is off to a great start. I always like the first day of a new year (or month, or week…or the first day of most new things, really – but especially a new year). It definitely feels like it’s a chance to start afresh, with a clean slate, or a blank page, or a restarted ipad (if you prefer). And that’s super exciting, that sense of optimism and possibility.

'We are lucky ducks', I said yesterday to my niece Amelia (3) as we spent some of the last day of 2014 here. 'But we aren't ducks, we are PEOPLE', she said. Fair point.

‘We are lucky ducks’, I said to my niece Amelia (3) as we spent some of the last day of 2014 here in Busselton, WA. ‘But we aren’t ducks, we are PEOPLE’, she said. Super lucky, either way.

Whatever has happened before can be irrelevant, as the new year marks a new beginning. Whether it’s beginning a commitment to being healthy, reading more books, blogging more frequently, baking more cakes, taking more holidays, meditating regularly or whatever. And it doesn’t even matter if it’s a real beginning or a fake beginning (a re-beginning that is kinda more like a second or fifth or four-hundredth attempt). Whatevs, THIS could be the year!

Anyway, 2015 has not turned me into Deepak Chopra, so that’s the end of my reflection for today.

(Oh, and for the record, I am smashing my new year commitments so far – here’s a blog post, there’s a half-read copy of Amy Poehler’s excellent book ‘Yes Please’, we baked rainbow cupcakes yesterday, and I’m currently enjoying a short break in Western Australia. This year definitely has the potential to be the best ever. Because, why not?)

1 Comment »

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.)

Leave a comment »

Good night, New York

So we all know that it’s the city that never sleeps. And while it is not sleeping, it is also the city that is beautifully lit – especially at this time of year. Here are some pics from New York City in the night time, when the winter chill has me zipping my jacket up past my chin and hurriedly snapping photos so I can put my warm gloves back on. (That may explain why some of these are a little blurry!)

Good night, Time Warner Center. I couldn’t really catch your beautiful colour-changing lights here, but you know you’re gorgeous. And you’re one of my favourite places to soak up the hustle & bustle of NYC.

Good night, random festively dressed hotel on Central Park. You look very pretty. And kind of like you’re wearing a fairy light witch’s hat…

Good night, Public Library. You are such a beautiful building and you look very cool with your fancy coloured lights.

Good night, Harry Winston. Your festive lights look as lovely as the jewellery that you sell. Like very classy diamond accessories for your building, as it were.

Good night, Buckyball. You’re a fabulous colour-changing installation at Madison Square Park and you’ve even brought your own ‘zero gravity’ curved benches, so that viewers can lie back and marvel at your cleverness. And you make the wait for burgers at the Shake Shack much more fun.

4 Comments »

Give thanks for delicious food

Last week, I was very lucky to be able to share Thanksgiving with my American family and some of their friends. It was fabulous. Here are some pics of the food highlights (although I didn’t take nearly enough photos – I didn’t want to seem like a tourist snapping anything and everything at the dinner table)…There were three kinds of pies (and a cheesecake) for dessert. I repeat, three kinds of pies. Heaven!

Chocolate turkeys made by some kids from the ‘hood.

Give thanks for homemade apple pie.

Give thanks for homemade cherry pie.

Give thanks for homemade pumpkin pie.

Give thanks for homemade cherry cheesecake.

Give thanks for vegetables covered in marshmallow & baked in the oven. Hooray for yams!

10 Comments »

The veritas about Harvard

I am a bit of a dork, so I was very excited to visit Harvard when I was staying in Boston. On another beautiful day in that great city, I walked across the Charles Bridge and over into Cambridge, arriving first in MIT territory. I stopped for breakfast and there were two chaps at the next table discussing something suitably smart – they were speaking English, but I still couldn’t really understand what they were talking about – one guy had written an algorithm or something something and the other guy was talking about trade secrets law across the USA something something. Being a gold star eavesdropper, I felt more clever just for listening in on their conversation.

One of the first-year student dorms. I think I would work harder just by living and studying in this beautiful environment.

 

It sounds hard to believe, but you can just feel the smarts in the air in Cambridge – lots of bright young things from around the world and all over the country fulfilling their dreams of studying with the best at MIT and Harvard. It’s a fantastic place to visit – am sure it would be great to study here, but perhaps that’s another story for another day.

I went on a walking tour led by a current undergrad student and he was full of interesting facts about the place. I was intrigued by the payment system they have: the cost they quote is around $54,000 per year (including tuition, books, accommodation, food etc). That sounds pretty horrific, but the guide assured us that relatively few people ever pay that much to attend Harvard – if your family’s combined income is less than $75k, you can attend FOR FREE. And if your family’s combined income is less than $180k, you’ll pay no more than 10% of that (ie, $18,000 PER YEAR). He didn’t go beyond that, but presumably they’re the people that pay a little closer to the quoted figure. What a great system, I reckon – if you’re smart enough to be accepted to Harvard, then your family’s financial status shouldn’t be a barrier to entry. Right on.

The guide showed us the gigantic and very impressive library – from the outside only, as you need a Harvard ID to actually enter the library. Apparently, they have an incredible collection of books stored in their underground stacks and there were certainly a lot of students heading to and from the building. I think the beauty of the buildings and surrounds must really help with study programs – especially when you’re studying alongside some of the brightest minds in the world. I can’t remember spending too much time in the library or hanging out in the grounds of Sydney Uni, but I’m not sure whether that says more about the Uni or more about me…

Had to snap this student leaving the library with a big bag of books. He looked like he might just be the next Bill Gates.

Apparently, it’s good luck to rub the foot of this statue of John Harvard (the 3rd most photographed statue in the USA). This tiger mother was pushing her two daughters to do so, even though the little one had to keep jumping and stretching to try and reach it. Awkward. Especially since there is a rumour that students often try to wee on that part of the statue as a college prank.

And, last but not least, is it just me…or was DONALD SUTHERLAND on my tour of Harvard?

Dear Harvard, in one form or another, I really do hope I’ll be back. (If only I could have ended with a Donald Sutherland line rather than an Arnie line, but I’m not really that familiar with his work – I really should have asked him while I had the chance.)

 

3 Comments »

Getting close to JFK in Boston

OK, I’ll admit it – I’m a bit of a Kennedy nut. I own a lot of books about them and find that whole dynasty fascinating. Although, to put my cards on the table, I’m a much bigger fan of Robert Kennedy than JFK. Bobby wasn’t the pin-up boy of the clan, but from what we know of him, he was a really good man. Whatever your personal opinion of them as individuals, there is no doubt that they were a pretty incredible family. Descendants of Irish Catholic immigrants made good – really good, if you rate the election of the youngest-ever US President as a success. And the youngest-ever US Attorney General (Bobby).

Here it is…And that sky is not PhotoShopped, I promise.

When you add it all up, you can see how the Kennedys have been the fodder for so many books and films and telemovies (argh, Katie Holmes as Jackie Kennedy): a father and three brothers reaching very senior levels in US politics, tons of children, some very interesting women who were born into or married into the family, significant controversies & scandals & tragedies. Not to mention Marilyn Monroe, some major moments in US history, their Catholic faith, a super-stylish First Lady and a domineering dad. Anyways, lots of stories to tell from before, during and after JFK’s presidency and so I was super excited to visit the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston – it was #1 on my itinerary.

The lobby, with stunning views of the ocean & the city in the distance.

The Museum was outstanding and even better than I’d hoped – in a beautiful location, with incredible attention to small details and a great collection of memorabilia. Starting with a movie (in a theatre, if you don’t mind) to provide some background on the early years of JFK, in his own words, then moving through brilliantly set up exhibits depicting the election, life in the 60s, the inauguration (with seats set up so you can watch the whole thing on a big screen – since it was a freezing cold day back then, this is a much more comfortable way to see it), the Cuban Missile Crisis and the assassination.

Yep, that’s the view from the lobby. Sorry the iPhone pic is a bit wonky looking.

There was a room dedicated to the too-often-overlooked Bobby Kennedy and a room with more info on others in the family. So interesting – even if you’re not a Kennedy nut, there’s enough personal material, video footage and realistic room settings to keep your attention.

The giant flag hanging from the glass atrium in the lobby.

And I was lucky to strike a new addition – a Jackie Kennedy exhibit, including quotes from interviews she gave to a family friend in her latter years, personal video footage and photos, dresses and amazing gifts from leaders all over the world. Incredible stuff.

Recreating the excitement of the election.

Campaign posters

Anyways, I’m mindful that this might be like re-telling a dream, which is always more fun if you actually witnessed it first hand. So, I’ll stop now. But please make sure that you add this to your itinerary if you’re in Boston!

The Kennedy Clan.

And, last but not least, a wall-sized version of my favourite photo of JFK & RFK. I would totes love this in my home.

1 Comment »

Beautiful Boston

This is my first visit to Boston. And I love it. The weather has been perfect – beautiful blue skies, sunny days and really cold. It’s great weather for walking around all day, but the chilliness gets a bit biting at night. Actually, it starts getting a bit too cold to be fun in the afternoon – it’s now starting to get dark around 3pm. Here are some pics from Boston’s Public Garden & the famous Boston Common – two stunning parks that live side-by-side here in the middle of the city. A lot of the trees have already lost their autumn colours, but there are still lots of reds and yellows brightening up the parks.

Afternoon in the Public Garden.

Lagoon in the Public Garden.

Giant trees in the Public Garden.

Love your work, Boston.

Boston Common

Boston Common again. I took about a thousand pictures, but tried to limit them for this post.

9 Comments »