everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

Being four

I don’t really remember being four. I’m sure it was a fun time though, before school started for me, but was well and truly occupying my three older brothers. I guess I hung out with my lovely mum and grandparents a lot. I think I must have gone to preschool part-time (maybe 3 days per week) and I do remember that place a little bit. I swear that War Memorial Preschool had front gates with black jail-style bars, but will need to fact check that (if the building hasn’t yet been bulldozed to make way for an apartment block).

Anyway, enough reminiscing. I’m currently enjoying a little holiday over in WA, where my middle brother lives with his lovely wife and daughter. Milly is four. And I’d better keep spell-checking as that gets autocorrected to Milky. Which would be slightly too wacky as a name, even for WA.

It’s fun to catch up with Milly, and I’m learning a lot. For starters, I didn’t know there were different varieties of Vegemite; or that tiaras make surprisingly practical headbands; or that the free Playschool app is actually really clever. In return, I’ve shown Milly the genius of the funny filters on Snapchat; introduced the celebratory fist bump; and generally complemented an already impressive repertoire of wackiness. We’ve watched some movies and read some books and done some shopping. Good times.

We highly recommend this book.


Spoiler alert: the book is mostly a hit because of funny sounds like these. Inducing snorts of laughter.


And you can never have too much bling. [Disclaimer: I actually bought this one.]


We recommend this movie – it’s like Barbie meets James Bond. With weapons like a glitter bomb, lipstick that turns into a tazer, a robot dog. Usual spy stuff.

So, I never saw the original, but this sequel was ok. The age old tale of the struggle between being a mermaid and a girl. Featuring the worst fake Australian accent I have ever witnessed.

Because four is the perfect age to rock a gold puffy vest around town. #gangstalyf

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EverydaySparks Book Club – Wonder

I am excited to report that I have read three books during my two-week festive holiday from work. I have also finished at least five magazines (and they were really big ones, guys, full of lots of words and info graphics and stuff). This has reduced the remaining magazine stacks to only semi-dangerous height now. (I did tear out quite a lot of pages for future reference, but since they go on a completely different pile, it doesn’t really count.)

Anyways, back to the books. I dedicate the first EverydaySparks book review for 2015 (the first of at least three reviews, I’ll wager) to a book that was recommended by my fabulous niece, Kate. The book is Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. The age guide is 10+ and let me say that it comes extremely highly recommended by a panel of reviewers aged 12, 30-something and 70-something.

"You can't blend in when you were born to stand out."

“You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.”

It is outstanding. Accessible to kids, with its short chapters and contemporary pop culture references. Of universal appeal and education due to its incredible messages around being courageous, different, kind, grateful, and accepting the cards that have been dealt.

Without giving the game away, Auggie is a young boy who was born with severe facial deformities. Really severe. He is a source of much curiosity, sympathy, horror, and ridicule. But people can be so awesome. And that is all I’ll say about this book.

My dear old Dad says it should be compulsory reading for every school kid. I think it should probably be compulsory reading for every human. But we can start with the kids, I guess. You can buy it from book stores all over the world – and I really think you should!

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Some very good advice…

In the spirit of Thanksgiving and the festive season, I thought I would share some excellent advice from my lovely niece Laura, aged 9. This was part of a homework assignment last week. I really do think that this little book, Recipes of Advice, could come in handy for children and adults all around the world. Including, you know, political leaders and diplomats and HR professionals. And meanies.

LG_recipecover

Recipes Of Awesome, more like.

Some excellent suggestions.

Some excellent suggestions.

And I take this opportunity to say, 'thank you in general' to my fantastic parents.

And may I take this opportunity to say, ‘thank you in general’ to my fantastic parents.

A good friend indeed.

A good friend indeed.

 

So many gems to consider – love you and your work, Laura Grace. xoxo

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Talk to the Animals

In case you haven’t seen this video, taken at an aquarium in the USA, here’s a Beluga whale trying to get his point across to some kids. I think their mother might be partly responsible for their shrieking – at the very start of the vid, she says “Ooooh, he’s coming for you!”, but I think he’s really just saying “Hey, guys!” and wondering what all the fuss is about.

Also, it’s a bit boring up to 45 seconds, so please stick with it (or fast forward if you’re in a hurry).

Happy Monday!

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Escaping the silly season

Sometimes, it’s nice to get away from it all. Especially as we come into the silly season, when we can be hit with invitations and wish lists and Mariah Carey and sunburn (or frostbite, depending on your hemisphere) and mixed nuts and cards and shopping and people. All of the people. It can be tough to find a place just for yourself  – where you can chillax and regroup, before rejoining the madness. Well, have I got a treat for you, my friends!

I present the clever gals from Striped Coast in Lithuania – their range is designed to ‘keep your home and soul warm’. And, although I’m actually more interested in keeping my home cool at this time of year, I do like the idea behind their work. But not as much as I like the work itself. Which is this: TABLECLOTH HOUSES. Uh huh. Such a clever idea – chuck an oversized tablecloth over your table and create a peaceful oasis underneath. And they make such pretty houses too.

Little Rain tablecloth house [image from Striped Coast]

Little Rain house
[image from Striped Coast]

Cou Cou house [image from Striped Coast]

Cou Cou house
[image from Striped Coast]

Flowered Summer house [image from Striped Coast]

Flowered Summer house
[image from Striped Coast]

See what I mean? No alarm code to remember, no garbage bin to put out, no windows to clean – this could be the perfect house to escape from the business of busy-ness. The only real downside I can see is if people start using the roof your tablecloth house for their dinner – then you might need to watch for stray kicks, pieces of broccoli or stinky feet intruding on your oasis…

If you’d like to check out more tablecloth house goodness (or some cute homewares) from Striped Coast, they are here.

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New jewels

A quick post today…

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget how lucky we are. In the midst of running around and paying bills and cooking dinners and catching buses and shopping and walking and sleeping, you can lose sight of those little everyday sparks that make you smile. So, in case you’re having trouble finding yours, please share mine from yesterday – a beautiful necklace made for me by my five year old niece, Lauren. Yes, that’s a silver Barbie logo and little silver handbag (Carrie Bradshaw, eat your heart out) and there’s a pearl and a shell and too many other good things to mention. And it fits over my head and sits beautifully, like a designer necklace should. Tiffany & Co, look out.

Uh huh.

Uh huh.

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The scariest puzzle of all time

We had a family party on the weekend and, as I was packing away the puzzles that the younger kids had been playing with, I noticed one aspirational puzzle entitled Careers. As I checked out the range of career options that our kids were being shown, I could not help but notice that the ‘Artist’ looked suspiciously like Jesus. Oh, and also like he has A PENCIL COMING OUT OF HIS HEAD, but that is really secondary.

The Artist and the Doctor.

The Artist and the Doctor.

I was so amazed that I took it to my brother for a second opinion. He pointed out that the other puzzle professionals looked sort of suspicious. The grimacing scientist mixing up a lethal cocktail of chemicals, the smug computer programmer on her ancient PC and the very shifty looking carpenter who may well be nailing his most recent victim under the floorboards…

Look out, kids.

Look out, kids.

But there is a clear winner in this puzzle – the teacher. You would definitely make sure your homework was ready if this was waiting for you in the classroom – ready to strike with poisoned apple or the ruler dagger.

Yikes.

Yikes.

So, there you have it. A whole range of frightening career options to choose from…

This is why I love working in HR.

This is why I love working in HR.

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Treats from Ireland

I wrote last week that some friends from Ireland were visiting Australia for the Lions tour, spending this past week here in amazingly sunny Sydney. I haven’t yet processed my feelings about the match on Saturday night, where I was the lone little Wallabies supporter in a block of hundreds and hundreds of Lions fans, but I’ll try to write about it another day.

Anyways, my lovely friend Gavan brought me out a bag of treats from Ireland as an international gesture of goodwill. I’m not sure who started this crazy contest – I have been known to send over hideous Austrayan goodies (mostly to remove them from our shops) from time to time – but this bag o’ crap from Dublin’s finest tourist store has really raised the bar. In fact, it has inspired me to put together a Diddly Dee Oirish showbag for next year’s Easter Show in Sydney. It will go off like a leprechaun in a pot of gold, so it will.

Here are some pics of my gifts – do let me know if you would like to borrow anything…

The bag. Off to a very good start.

The bag. Off to a very good start.

Complete with a tin whistle playing leprechaun, if you don't mind.

Complete with a tin whistle playing leprechaun, if you don’t mind.

They really would work with any outfit.

They really would work with any outfit.

Roll on, 17 March...

Roll on, 17 March…

Probably not so lucky if you actually eat them.

Probably not so lucky if you actually eat them.

An unexpected warning on the bag of ShamRock lollies.

An unexpected warning on the bag of ShamRock lollies.

I’ll stop there, even though I’ve only covered maybe half of the contents of the bag. But you get the idea. Although, I do need to add one more highlight – I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Tayto, the Irish crisps that backpackers miss so much that they have their family post out boxes to them (well, they used to, until an entrepreneur started importing them to Australia and charging extortionate prices for a taste of home). Anyways, the flagship flavour is cheese & onion and they’re pretty much a national treasure. So, what else to do but release a limited edition treat – embed the chips into chocolate bars and sell them to the general public. I’ve tried it and it’s pretty much as horrible as you might imagine: some things were just not meant to be, Tayto.

Limited edition indeed.

Limited edition indeed.

Huge thanks to my friend Gavan for this bag of treats – I don’t know that I’ve ever had such a thoughtful/generous/funny/scary/sickening gift all in one bag. Now the stakes have been raised, I’m off to find some hideous Australiana to further advance global cultural understanding and tolerance. Or something like that.

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The Pancake Man

This post was made possible by our EverydaySparks correspondent in Dublin (aka my Irish sista Aoife), who somehow stumbled across this site and thought I might like it. And I do. A great find, thanks AB!

The site in question is Jim’s Pancakes and I was pretty impressed by the home page header alone, where Jim has taken word art to a whole new level and made his site name out of little pancakes. Then there’s the understated tag line: ‘just trying to make some cool pancakes for my daughter’. And that’s what he did…

Jim made Star Wars pancakes:

20130626-113346.jpg

Jim made a romantic gift box pancake stack for his wife:

pancakegiftJim made candy cane pancakes for Christmas:

pancakecandycane

Jim made a burger and fries pancake extravaganza:

pancakeburger

And probably my favourite. Jim’s bling pancakes – a whole chain of pancakes worthy of any sweet rhymin’ rapper.

PancakeBlingYou can check out Jim’s Pancakes here and if you’re feeling particularly inspired, Jim has a book for sale, with a very exciting title: OMG PANCAKES!

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A gummi lunch

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the Sydney Royal Easter Show with some of my peeps. I love the Show, but hadn’t been for many years. It was a very fun day – adults have full permission to act like kids, everyone consumes waaaay too much junk food and suddenly us city folk become instant experts in everything from dairy cattle to alpacas to bull riding and cake decorating. And then there are the infamous show bags.

Showtime

Showtime

With security guys outside each entry and exit point of the giant Showbag Pavillion and a maze of fences and railings to herd people through the entrance (just like the cattle in the pavillion down the street), the kids are always a-buzz and the adults are all exchanging looks of dread. Inside, it was crazy. A mass of humanity, hundreds and hundreds of people of all shapes & sizes crammed in together trying to get a showbag and get out. Except for those people who stopped in the middle of the traffic, just gazing from one display to another, philosophising over the relative merits of the My Little Pony showbag over the Moshi Monsters showbag. No one likes those amateurs – they generally get a sharp elbow in the ribs to jolt them out of their reverie and encourage a quick decision. (I didn’t do any elbow-ing, I promise.)

Anyways, I did join in and get a Trolli show bag full of gummi treats – it was the only lolly show bag that included items that were so obscure that I couldn’t work out if the showbag price was a rip off. (My familiarity with chocolate prices had me scanning those Cadbury bags and saying wise old-lady things like, “$10? We could buy all that at the supermarket for $7.50. Outrageous!”)

So, I had a look inside the showbag this morning and discovered that lunch today was sorted – every detail taken care of by the good people at Trolli with my gummi lunch. As healthy and natural in gummi form as the real thing. Amazing. Bon appetit!

 

My gummi lunch bag, packed full of treats.

My gummi lunch bag, packed full of treats.

GummiPizza

There’s Gummi Pizza, seemingly prepared by a chef from Super Mario Bros…

And a gummi hot dog, bursting with colour.

And a gummi hot dog, bursting with colour.

And a mini gummi burger, looking eerily like the real thing.

And a mini gummi burger, looking eerily like the real thing.

And of course, sour gummi fries.

And of course, sour gummi fries.

And to wash it all down, a gummi cola. They've thought of everything!

And to wash it all down, a gummi cola. They’ve thought of everything!

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