Category Archives: Fun

Feel Good February

fgf-web-banner-1500x300Welcome to February, the shortest month in the calendar year. Summer is in full swing in Australia and doesn’t seem to want to let up. This means we have more beach and outdoor time. People are generally in happier moods when the weather is warm and the sky is blue.

img_7280

FGF founder Linda Pang

But moods are constantly changeable. In the current political and economic climate, we are hit by negative views and news on a daily (hourly may be more accurate at times) basis. There seems to always be something that makes us angry at somebody or something. It only takes one single word, action or inaction from someone to turn a good day into a bad one.

img_7366By the same token, it doesn’t have to cost you anything more than a brief moment or a simple gesture to show kindness to someone and make their day. And when someone is feeling good, there is a greater likelihood of that person making someone else’s day. It is on this simple idea that my friend, Linda Pang, founded Feel Good February back in 2015.

img_7308To kick off Feel Good February for 2017, Linda invited volunteers of all ages and from different backgrounds to participate in a craft morning, where we collectively brought our artistic and creative skills to create cards, paintings and jewellery which we will then leave at random public places to brighten someone else’s day.


So if you find little gifts around Sydney packaged with small orange cards, pick it up, keep it and pay it forward. Remember, it doesn’t have to cost anything to be kind! Of course, you don’t need to be creative or artistic to make others feel good. For more ideas on random acts of kindness or how to start your own “Feel Good February” (or Feel Good Everyday), go to their Facebook page or website. You can also find them on Twitter and Instagram. And please do share with us your own stories of kindness any time!

In the meantime, have a great February and hope you’re feeling good!

16402683_1865347593710911_1608695797275291258_o

Never Too Old To Learn a New Trick

I once went to see a clairvoyant with a friend. She told me I had an old soul. That is the only thing she said that was true. Some days I feel like I was born in the wrong decade, but perhaps that is just what getting older feels like. Whatever it is, I feel like my body is catching up to my soul.

My tastes and interests have always been heavily influenced by my parents – from what I like to eat to what I watch on film and television, to the music I listen to and books I read.  When I was a little girl (and when there was only one television set in the house!), I loved watching the old classic movies they would show on weekends. One of my favourite memories was of all the swashbuckling action: Stewart Granger in Scaramouche swinging from theatre balcony to stage, Danny Kaye under hypnosis in The Court Jester extinguishing candles with a flick of his sword, and I can never forgetting Richard Chamberlain in The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers, to name a few.

Back then, my parents mustn’t have seen me waving an imaginary sword around, jumping from couch to floor and pretending I was fighting off some bad guys. I was no Errol Flynn but I wanted to be. I was not born to be a damsel-in-distress waiting for a man to come rescue me from the pirates. I was going to be the one to swash the enemy’s buckler!

Continue reading

Benedict Cumberbatch and the British Invasion Into My Psyche

On a clear Friday morning, 7th March, 2014, I started my morning ritual by grabbing my iPad Mini while still in bed, checked my Facebook news feed as usual (don’t judge me – I bet many of you do the same), and almost jumped right out of bed when I read this announcement from Oz Comic-Con:

Oz Comic-Con are very pleased to announce Benedict Cumberbatch is set to join the fun at Oz Comic-Con Adelaide and appear at two exclusive Oz Comic-Con Q&A events in Sydney.

WHAT?! SHERLOCK IS COMING TO MY HOME TOWN??? 

From that point on, there was no turning back or calming down. It took the organisers another two days to announce details for ticket sales. But I was online and ready with my credit card details as soon as the box office opened. However, judging by the fact that there were about 150 other people sitting closer to the stage I guess getting my tickets within a minute of the box office opening was still not good enough. However, we did have excellent seats and I have absolutely no complaints. Anyway, I digress…

Cumberbatch in Sydney

 

There were 33 sleeps from the time I bought tickets to the day I, and my friend Asha, were due to see this very talented actor, and they felt like the longest 33 days ever. I found myself re-watching all three series of BBC’s Sherlock and going back through my “Cumber-collection” of his many other works that range from playing Hugh Laurie’s eldest son in the 2003 comedy series Fortysomething, to his short films (make sure you check out Inseparable) and even his various radio serials for BBC Radio (Cabin Pressure, Rumpole and Neverwhere) and audiobooks (your life will never be the same again after you hear Cumberbatch as Casanova).

Benedict U2 photobombWhile you may have never heard of Benedict Cumberbatch until you saw him photobomb U2 at the Oscars or heard Ellen DeGeneres introduce him as “the man with the best name ever”, once you look at his long list of filmography, you will realise you have probably seen him in a million things before without realising who he was. Ever since the announcement a little while ago that he was set to return to the London stage in autumn of 2015 to play the title role in Hamlet, I bet there’s been a renewed interest in reading the Bard again. Heck, he’s the only reason I paid to see Star Trek: Into Darkness (nothing against Trekkies, I’ve just never been one of them).

Continue reading

Shopping Should Be A Joyful Experience!

I'm not a shopaholicIt should come as no surprise that I like shopping. After all, my Twitter handle is @valshopaholic. However, as much as shopping can be a form of therapy – for we live in a society where we are taught to believe that having is better than not having, regardless of what it is that we have or how much of it we have – shopping is not always a pleasant experience.

I recently caught up on a wonderful British television series called Mr Selfridge which is a dramatisation of the life of Harry Gordon Selfridge, the self-made American entrepreneur who took his ideals to England and introduced a wonderful concept to the people called “the customer is always right” with his grand department store, Selfridges. The show is well-written and brilliantly acted and you cannot help but fall in love with every single one of the characters (or, in the case of the evil Lord Loxley and the jealous Mr Thackeray, you hate them from the moment you lay eyes on them).

But as much as I have loved the way the characters have been written, I have also become fascinated by the concepts around the act of shopping as an experience, much of which we take for granted now, more than a hundred years after Selfridges first opened its doors in London’s Oxford Street. Whilst we are all accustomed to the sight of cosmetics counters at the front of department stores and it may seem unfathomable that we are not allowed to try on clothes and accessories before paying for them, there once was a time when even touching a pair of gloves at the accessory counter was a big no-no. Harry Selfridge had the grand vision that shopping should be an experience for his customers and that his store should be presented as a place to dream, relax, enjoy, and basically spend their days (and fortunes).

Continue reading

A Tale of The Severed Limb

Every year I tell people I don’t like making a fuss over my birthday.  But then as my birthday draws nearer, I start to get a little more excited and I start telling everyone within earshot that my birthday is coming up.  Since my birthday is on the last day of the month, it always feels like such a long wait from when September comes to when it is actually “the big day”.

For the past couple of years, my birthday has been a bittersweet time of year. I spent my birthday in 2010 flying halfway across the world to be by my grandmother’s bedside as she laid in a hospital bed, and since she passed away four weeks later, my birthday has been a constant reminder of those last days I got to spend with her. But that emotional period also serves as a reminder of how blessed I am and how far my friends are prepared to go to make me happy. (You can catch up on my birthday posts for 2010 and 2011).

September 2012 got off to a wonderful start.  First, I got a new contract, thus keeping alive my much-coveted dream of a trip back to the US (which I last visited in 1998).  Then came the presents.  The first completely knocked me off my feet with amazement because of the sheer unexpectedness of it.

I openly admit I have a massive crush on the writers of TV show White Collar.  Everyone who follows me on Twitter or is a Facebook friend regularly see me post undeniably over-the-top comments about how in awe I am of them.  So, imagine my surprise when I got a notice in my letterbox to pick up a parcel from the post office, which contained an autographed copy of the script from one of my favourite episodes of the show (it was the season 2 mid-season finale “Point Blank”)! It was signed by the entire staff  in the White Collar writers room!!!

White Collar script

Signatures clockwise from top: Matt Negrete, Jim Campolongo, Dan Shattuck, Eddie Serrano, Jeff Eastin, Sara Wright, Alexandra McNally, Bob DeRosa, Mark Goffman, Chris Masi, Channing Powell, Joe Henderson

Continue reading

Oh For The Love Of All Things IKEA!

For those of you who have been following me on Twitter, you will have noticed my recent excitement over a visit to everyone’s favourite Swedish furniture store. Yes, I am talking about IKEA, home of flat-packed, D.I.Y., stress-tested furniture.  I love the idea of being able to put furniture together myself like this.  It makes me feel like I am building something which, for a person who can’t even be bothered sewing up a loose button on a shirt, is a huge deal.  Some of you may well argue whether the furniture-maker should be stress-testing the effects installation of their products might have on their customers as well.

If you are an IKEA fan like me, you will know that their instruction manuals don’t have any text at all. This is a great idea as it overcomes any language barriers that are commonly found in products made in non-English-speaking countries with badly translated instructions such as “insert screw in round hole behind floor” or “hook nail with driver in proper hammer”. Huh?  (Ok, so I may have made those two up, but you get the idea.)

When I recently brought up the topic of building my new IKEA desk with colleagues, this brought up a new debate that went something like this:

“Oh, I hate it when you get to the end and you find there’s a piece missing from the box!”

“No, no! What’s worse is if you find at the end there’s an extra piece and you don’t know where it’s supposed to go!”

Continue reading

How Aussie Is That – Or Is It?

G’day mate! ‘Owyagoinmateawright? (Translation: Hello! How are you going, mate, all right?”)

For a long time, Aussies like me have been complaining about how our country and people are portrayed and perceived by people in other countries.  The kinds of questions I get asked about Australia whenever I travel abroad never cease to amaze me – sometimes they make me laugh, while other times, they just make me shake my head and wonder what kind of education people are getting about us.

Let’s start with some basics: we don’t all have kangaroos hopping around in our backyards or cuddly koalas perched in our trees chewing on eucalyptus leaves.  Thankfully, I have not had these questions in a very long time.  Maybe if I lived in the bush or in the Outback, I might find them, but out here in the ‘burbs in metropolitan Sydney, the only place where I would see said natives is at the zoo or wildlife park.

On my first visit to the US in 1995, I was constantly asked “Do you have a lot of flies in Australia?”  The first time I was asked this question, I replied “yeah, that’s why this [waving hand in front of my face as if swatting away flies] is called the Australian salute”.  Now this is actually true.  But when I was asked this a couple more times as I met different groups of Americans, it suddenly occurred to me I might have been missing something.  When I asked why everyone was asking me this (as opposed to the typical “do kangaroos really know how to box?”) I became curious.  It turned out the Discovery Channel had just aired a program about flies and apparently Australian flies were heavily featured. Mystery solved!

Continue reading