Brave ft. Mumford and Sons

We watched Brave last night, good gosh I love that film.

So the final credits came on and whilst I was feeling all emotional there was a sense of familiarity for the song. Turns out (you probably all already knew this), “Learn Me Right” was written and produced by Mumford and Sons and performed by Birdy. The song is also on their album Babel with the name “Not With Haste” (slightly extended).

Anywhoo.. I just thought it was widly inspiring :)

Perfect Friday listening.


“We will run and scream
You will dance with me
Fulfill our dreams and we’ll be free

We will be who we are
And they’ll heal our scars
Sadness will be far away

Do not let my fickle flesh go to waste
As it keeps my heart and soul in its place
And I will love with urgency but not with haste”

Not with Haste – Mumford and Sons


Diwali 2012: Festival of Lights. Photos from The Big Picture

Many of your know that I am very much longing to go to India, in particular I’d love to go during a festival. In late October/early November Hindus, Sikhs and Jains celebrate Diwali – Festival of lights. It is a beautiful celebration, one of the more significant ones of the year in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji. Today The Big Picture released their photos of 2012 Diwali and they sent my spirit soring. Please have a look at them here.

How Diwali is celebrated varies region to region but generally includes beautiful festive fireworks, worship, sharing of lollies and sweet things, and of course lights and candles over the entire month (in stages).

No matter where it is celebrated the central idea of rejoicing our inner light (Atman) and the underlying grounded reality of all living things remains the same (Brahman).

Hindu philosophy shares that all humans have a pure, infinitie inner light which goes beyond our physical form. This light of higher knowledge can be harnessd to dispell dillusion or ignorance to reveal our true nature and grounded reality in a sort of victory of good over evil. Once the cloud have been removed what it left is compassion and awareness of the connection between all things.

I’m no expert on Diwali and I’m sure this just touches the surface of such an significant event, please comment and add your thoughts, experiences and any major elements that I’ve missed!


I stumbled across a beautiful line of gifts in David Jones today by a company called Seedling , my heart jumped as soon as I spotted them.

In their own words;

“Seedling is about giving children the opportunity to explore, discover, grow and create. We aim to encourage their natural instinct to get involved and ask plenty of questions, designing products that help children to develop basic skills and inspire their unique creative ideas.
Our products are not ‘paint by number’, but rather the tools and templates to discover your own ideas.
Seedling products are imagined, designed and created in New Zealand, encompassing a variety of interests and skills from drawing, gardening, sewing, science, imaginative play, painting, model building and plenty more. With their old-fashioned edge, Seedling products also encourage kids to spend quality time with adults in their lives, learning important communication and relationship building skills.
There are Seedling products to appeal to a range of ages and interests making them the perfect gift inspiration.
Based in Auckland, New Zealand, Seedling has a small design team who imagine and create each kit individually. All Seedling kits are lovingly assembled by hand by our team, who pay extra attention to detail and using quality components from all over the world. We use recycled and recyclable materials in our product design so our unique packaging is friendly to the environment.”
Some of my favourites include –

They are beautfifully made with quality materials, and presented in such a fun, colourful way that I can’t imagine that any child wouldnt gasp upon sight.

A gorgeous gift to encourage exploration, creativity and self expression.

I love giving activity based gifts, I’m well known for my “experience” gifts and generally I stuggle to find ones suitable for younger kiddies. Actually, why are we still talking about kids, I’d love one for myself!

They range from about $15-50 depending on the size and complexity of the project. A selection are available at David Jones, otherwise can be purchased on their online store . Talk about incredible branding, stunning.

Review: Roaming Cow Yogurt

I’m a sucker for gorgeous packaging. So when I spotted the new Roaming Cow yogurts at Woolworths yesterday I couldn’t resist trying it out.


Roaming Cow Yogurt

I was very impressed. I tried the vanilla this morning and it had such a lovely real vanilla flavour. I’m getting a bit sick of watery, fake, meh vanilla yogurt so I was very happy to see real vanilla beans throughout the Roaming Cow one. It had a great texture, not watery at all. Not as thick as Greek of course, it’s lower in fat.

In a word: real.

I served it with slightly thawed blueberries, bran flakes and quinoa puffs. Could have passed it of as a dessert to any friends not previously introduced to chocolate mousse.


serving suggestion.

Open House Perth

Something highly wildly inspiring happened in Perth last weekend (3rd and 4th of November 2012). Open House Perth!

We has an incredible time running around the city checking out our beautiful buildings from all sorts of angles we’ve never seen before.

We were one of the very luck few to get to the top of the Central Park tower (St George) which offered incredible views over the city from Fremantle to Joondalup, and equally incredible winds. Batman makes it look so easy perching on skyscrapers… its all an illusion, that cape would make quite the wind sock I’d imagine. It’s just not practical.

I have a newly re-inspired appreciation for Perth’s architecture and have spent the week spending a lot of time looking up. We don’t have much compared to the “big” cities, but what we do have is rich in history and beauty, you just have to investigate. Like most good things in Perth, you have to dig to find it.

I love that Open House Perth not only included landmarks but also the design studios behind them. As a urban planner /soon to be designer (ok ok its a few years away), I was constantly letting out little sqeals of excitment over seeing the beautiful working spaces our city offers for the industry. Hassell in particular was very exciting to see because I one day hope to call that space my own.

Have a squiz at the photos I took over the weekend here and let me know what you think.

Cannot wait for next year.

Follow up posts to come, perhaps one on my work space at 140william Gordon Stepherson House.

Link: Exercising In Nature Twice As Good As Gym For Mental Health: Study | The9Billion

See Article. by Mandy Adwell on 10/31/2012 – The9Billion.

“A stroll through the park or a run through the woods may be twice as good as exercising in the gym, a new study has found.

Professor Richard Mitchell of Glasgow University polled nearly 2,000 physically active people in a Scottish Health Survey, finding that the only time exercise lowered the risk of poor mental health was when it was associated with a natural environment.

“There was around a 50% improvement in people’s mental health if they were physically active in the natural environment, compared to those who weren’t,” he said in an interview with The Telegraph. “These aren’t serious mental health issues, more struggles in general life, things like mild depression, not being able to sleep, high stress levels or just feelings of not being able to cope.”

Michell adds that he was not surprised by the findings that natural environments are better for our mental health, but he was surprised by the drastic difference in numbers. His biggest conclusion is that doctors, planners, and policy makers need to make sure they are doing what they can to promote and protect our natural environment.

One walk or jog a week is sufficient as far as giving your mental health a boost, but more than that is obviously even better. If you suffer from anxiety and/or depression, whether from your job or other factors, adding this into your schedule may yield some worthy results.

Do you exercise outside frequently, or are you more loyal to the gym?”

Image CC licensed by Tony Fischer: Path through the trees


Link: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more.
Find closed captions and translated subtitles in many languages at

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Wildly Inspiring Language: Mandarin

Its wonderful to speak languages other than English. If only just to connect with people you encounter in day to day life. Obviously it takes time and dedication to learn an new language properly, and very very worthwhile, however I think a few words here and there are fantastic to have up your sleeve.

Living in Australia, asian languages in particular are vitally important and will help you connect with people around you.

Speaking of which, the Australian Government have just released a White Paper entitled ‘Australia in the Asian Century’, you can find it here. It is a very strong paper which will guide Australia in the coming years to strengthen Australia’s deep and broad relationships across our region. Particularly impressive is the commitment to education. Its comforting because I strongly believe that Australia has a long history of being uncomfortable in our own skin (refusing to be considered “Asian” despite location and trade, steadfastly tending to our little patches of lawn and rose beds hoping like crazy that a little piece of England will survive the harsh summer). Have a read and let me what you think. If you like I’ll write a follow up post about the paper once I’ve had a thorough read.

Mandarin is a particularly useful one, especially if you love chinese retaurants. I can tell you from experience that you get much better service (and probably better food too!) if you can drop a few words of Chinese in whilst you order. People will love to go out for chinese with you!

Darn (egg) Tarts – Chinatown, Singapore. One of my very favourite chinese deserts.

Chinese is tricky because the pronunciation is different to English letters so hopefully this will help.

English – Mandarin (Pinyin) – Phonetically for English speakers

Hello – Ni hao – Nee how

Good bye – Zaijian – Zai zeen-en

Thank you – XieXie – Share Share (quite quick)

Yes – Dui – Dway

No – Bu dui – Boo dway

Excellent thank you! – Hao ijle xiexie – How jee-luh share share

Cheers! – Gan bei – Gan bay

I’m sorry – Dui buqi – Doo-ay boo chee

Tea Please!- cha qing- chah ch(as in cheap)ing (think, cha ching!)

Bill please – mai dan – my dan

Aiya! – ay yah! You can use this any time you are slightly suprised, instead of “oh no!”, something odd happens, a calamity ensues etc. they will LOVE it.

Zig Zag Festival, Kalamunda

This Sunday marks the annual Zig Zag Festival in Kalamunda.

Its a great festival because all of the kids activities are free (and they are great too)!

11am til 8pm Sunday 28th October 2012, Stirk Park Kalamunda.

I’ll be there dishing our gory fake wounds to the chidren (cuts, buises, burns and other gruseome things) all without pain or payment required.

My Mum will be there also togive you a taste of Art Jamming. Never heard of it? Its your chance to throw some paint at a canvas or create something delicate and pretty without any “art teachers” or “rules”, freedom! Perfect for those with a deep seated love of art but without the time/money/organsiation to go to art classes or have supplies at home (no clean up either!). Art Jamming is free too!

Also, its farmers market day too so you can get your fruit and veg AND a knife wound and come out smiling.

Come and check it out and have fun in the beautiful sunshine (blistering heat).

Photos of the frivolities to come next week :)


Deadly Sweet?

Which camp are you in? Is aspartame toxic and deadly or a safe,  great way to have sweets whilst keeping trim, taught and terrific?

I’m one of those people who needs to see the hard science before I’ll believe anything, I have a scientific and questioning brain. I hear smart, inquisitive people concerned about toxic products in our supermarkets and also all those who think its ridiculous and who immediately picture 40 year old men wearing socks, sandals and tin foil hats when you bring it up. Its frustrating for consumers because you can never really be sure about what to do and who to believe.

A lot of change in the word starts from the edge of the community, those people who question the powers above us, and without them we would not see change. I totally understand if you have completely bought out of the whole debate, but I would encourage you to never dismiss anything until you’ve looked at it yourself. It really doesn’t take very long. I’ll show you.

So, artificial sugar – initially I’m very hesitant because I like whole, unprocessed food (for the most part – I’m not angel), and I feel safer without people, with different agendas to my own, being involved to any large extent. Plus its got a yucky after taste in my opinion. I’m all for real sugar, butter, and milk over anything fake. Aspartame is a topic which comes up pretty regularly, and I like to dispel myths wherever I can (without looking like a jerk, of course). So I did some quick research on the issue.

The quickest, easiest way to go about this (unless you are a uni student/academic) is to use Google Scholar Type a few key words in and see what comes up.

Scientific articles are those published in peer reviewed journals and are structured like this (generally – there are a few rouge scientists out there who like to break bad and mix up the formatting – crazy!):

Title – should catch your eye and be informative at the same time. Although pick vague ones too because some people are just not great at titles. 
Abstract/summary – a great spot to start, this will include a brief description of what they did, why, and what they found out.
Introduction – why is this being researched? often gives good background/history.
Materials and Methods – how they did it, sometimes very technical so don’t worry to much about this bit. 
Results – the raw data
Discussion – what they could infer from the raw data.
Conclusion – the best bit. 
References – want more? 

So I did a quick Google Scholar search for ‘Aspartame’ and I got a mix of articles about effect on weight loss and its side effects.

Small smattering of the results:

“Aspartame induces lymphomas and leukaemias in rats” by Soffritti, Belpoggi, Esposti and Lamertini, 2005 – Cancer Research Centre, European Ramazzini Foundation of Onocology and Environmental Sciences, Bologna, Italy.

“In our experimental conditions, it has been demonstrated, for the first time, that APM causes a statistically significant, dose-related increase in lymphomas and
leukaemias in females at dose levels very near those to which humans can be exposed.

These experiments demonstrate that the increase in lymphomas and leukaemias, observed in the APM study, could be related to methanol, a metabolite of APM, which
is metabolised to formaldehyde and then to formic acid, both in humans and rats3.

Since the results of carcinogenicity bioassays in rodents, mainly rats and mice, have been shown to be a consistent predictor of human cancer risk15-17, the first results of our
study call for urgent re-examination of permissible exposure levels of APM in both food and beverages, especially to protect children.”

“Aspartame: A Safety Evaluation Based on Current Use Levels, Regulations, and Toxicological and Epidemiological Studies” by Magnuson, Burdock, Doull, Kroes, Marsh, Pariza, Spencer, Waddell, Walker and Williams, 2007 – Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Maryland USA.

“The data from the extensive investigations into the possibility of neurotoxic effects of aspartame, in general, do not support the hypothesis that aspartame in the human diet will affect nervous system function, learning or behavior. Epidemiological studies on aspartame include several case-control studies and one well-conducted prospective epidemiological study with a large cohort, in which the consumption of aspartame was measured. The studies provide no evidence to support an association between aspartame and cancer in any tissue. The weight of existing evidence is that aspartame is safe at current levels of consumption as a nonnutritive sweetener.”

“Life-Span Exposure to Low Doses of Aspartame Beginning during Prenatal Life Increases Cancer Effects in Rats” By Soffritti, Belpoggi, Tibaldi, Esposti, Lauriola, 2007. Cesare Maltoni Cancer Research Center of the European Ramazzini Foundation. (follow up to previous study, above)

“The results of this carcinogenicity bioassay confirm and reinforce the first experimental demonstration of APM’s multipotential carcinogenicity at a dose level close to the acceptable daily intake for humans. Furthermore, the study demonstrates that when life-span exposure to APM begins during fetal life, its carcinogenic effects are increased.”

“Neurobiochemical alterations induced by the artificial sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet)” by Coulombe and Sharma, 1985. Centre for Environmental Toxicology, Utah State University, Logan, Utah

“Such observed alterations in brain neurotransmitter concentrations may be responsible for the reported clinical and behavioral effects associated with ASM ingestion.”

Use of Aspartame in pregnancy, 1985, International Journal of Fertility.

“The low-calorie sweetening agent, aspartame, is broken down in the small intestine into three moieties: aspartic acid, methanol and phenylalanine. Acute loading studies have been performed in human beings who received up to six times the 99th percentile of the projected daily intake (6 X 34 = 200 mg/kg). No evidence of risk to the fetus was developed. Aspartate does not readily cross the placenta. Small elevations of blood methanol following such abuse doses of aspartame did not lead to measurable increases of blood formic acid, which is the product responsible for the acidosis and ocular toxicity in methanol poisoning. Phenylalanine is concentrated on the fetal side of the placenta. Aspartame in abuse doses up to 200 mg/kg in normal subjects, or to 100 mg/kg in PKU heterozygotes, did not raise blood phenylalanine levels to the range generally accepted to be associated with mental retardation in the offspring. It is concluded that, under foreseeable conditions of use, aspartame poses no risk for use in pregnancy.”

Biological properties of aspartame – Evaluation of central nervous system effects by Potts, Bloss and Nutting, 1980. Journal of Environmental Pathological Toxicology.

 “It was concluded that prolonged dietary ingestion of aspartame at levels approximately 550 times that expected for normal human daily ingestion was necessary to elicit a behavioral deficit.”

The results of a standard Google search yielded this: “Aspartame is, by Far, the Most Dangerous Substance on the Market that is Added To Foods” and whilst its well written, its not referenced (much/properly).

Its important to be aware that the internet generally shows the inflammatory side of the story. All those wierdos in the tin foil hats are the ones filling your google results with speculation. So, be cautious and inquisitive and make your own decisions.

Its important to look a the dates of the articles – of the few I picked out above, all the older ones are for and the newer ones against.

So what do you think? Better safe than sorry or nonsense conspiracy theories? What will be your response next time someone wrinkles their nose at the Equal offered on your next coffee run?