Consumerism: Therapy for the Soul

Today we shall have a look at the age old argument… consumerism: is it good or bad?

Consumerism is something that the western world has struggled with for generations. It is the internal struggle of ‘do I really need it? I already have so many things and look at this person over here who has nothing! How can I justify more things?’ But the honest fact is, we all buy things that we don’t necessarily need and as much as we might feel guilty later, consumerism is inevitable. So why waste time feeling guilty over something you can’t really prevent? The way I look at it, consumerism originates from an inner desire to have something different in our lives and is actually a form of therapy in the modern world.

Recently I came to the realisation that I haven’t really bought anything all year apart from food and coffee. Upon realising this, I suddenly felt this urge to go buy something. Anything. Just something that isn’t food or coffee. This happened.

IMG_0957_2 IMG_0958_2 IMG_0959_2

The above items are as listed below:
Felt hat from Sussan – Soy wax candle; ‘Perfect Pear’ scent, from Mott & Mulberry – Gigantic yellow mug from Typo.

Just a quick plug for that candle: oh my gosh this is actually the greatest thing that has ever existed. It’s a woodwick candle, which means it crackles while it burns, and it smells amazing. The crackling from the candle is actually quite helpful when studying or working because ambient noise has been proven to help with creativity and concentration. So for all my studying friends out there, go invest in one of these little guys, for the benefit of your education.

So anyway, I bought these things and I felt happier. I know that sounds ridiculously shallow and like I’m some form of shopaholic who is trying to justify her buying habits to the rest of the world but just stick with me here.

Now my life is pretty hectic and it is far from boring. I love uni, I love wandering through the city and hanging out at cafes and doing all sorts of fun little things that a lot of other people don’t get the time to do. But even for me, life feels a bit average sometimes. We all get caught up in this continuous cycle of day-to-day existence, during which nothing really ever changes. This is something that we as a society struggle with. We grow up with all of these expectations to live an exciting life, full of travel and adventure. As kids, we dream about being astronauts and living in Antarctica amongst the penguins… but then we get slapped in the face with life and all of these hopes fade in the vortex of time.

I find that my consumerist ways most frequently kick into gear when life is feeling particularly dull and I think a lot of you would probably agree. We get sick of our houses looking the same day in and day out, so we suddenly decide to redecorate everything and afterwards we feel happier. We get bored with wearing those same clothes that we’ve had for years so purge our wardrobes and start again, afterwards feeling more confident. We get sick of our boring desk at work, with those same boring pens, so spend too much money on colourful highlighters and markers that we will most likely never use but that brighten up our desk just a little bit.

Although some people see consumerism as a bad thing, I think it is actually necessary. With a busy life, it’s hard to find the time to sit down and do the recommended yoga exercises, thinking deep and spiritual thoughts whilst breathing the fresh air of the local rainforest in which we have strategically placed ourselves for the most calming yoga experience possible. But we do have time to go out and buy something just a little bit fun, that will make us smile, that brings some colour into our day and gives something fresh in our life, even if it is just for a little while.

Colour and variety is good for us, and if consumerism helps us get that, then maybe consumerism isn’t all that bad. Maybe it is actually something that is necessary in the modern world, as a form of therapy and a channel for inspiration. I’m not suggesting we all go out and stock up on ridiculous numbers of unnecessary items, but there is no use in making your life even more dull than it has to be just because of the negative connotations of consumerism. Embrace the colour variety of new things. The effect will be just a little bit brilliant, trust me.

Stay happy and surround yourself in colour
– Alice

Just Your Average Eurovision Party

What happens when you have a group of eight best friends who haven’t seen eachother in weeks, and gather them in one house over the Eurovision weekend? A Eurovision party and so many good times.

I know there is probably so much judging going on right now and you are most likely all thinking ‘who on Earth looks at Eurovision and thinks “well, by gum. It’s party time.”‘ But, let me tell you, if you haven’t ever had a Eurovision themed sleepover with a fun group of people, you are missing out. But let me fill you in and see if I can convince you of the worthiness of this event.

Me and my girls are just a little bit different. Our schoolies was spent watching Smallville and playing pingpong. We dress up and have fancy dinner parties just for fun. Most importantly, we wear matching pyjamas to movie sleepovers at my house. We find fun in being ridiculous together and ever since we spent our new years eve watching replays of Eurovision 2014, we have been waiting for the epic moment that our sleepover tradition could be combined with the  fun times and general awkwardness of Eurovision. It finally came. Hilarity ensued.

IMG_1335 IMG_1336 IMG_1341

First of all, can we just take a moment to appreciate that one of my friends owns a snuggie… ummm…. legend. But anyway, on with the story. For the ultimate Eurovision experience we buried ourselves, matching pyjamas and all, in a nest of mattresses, blankets, beanbags and pillows and planned our pizza dinner. After pondering for a good long while over the appropriate number of pizzas to buy, we finally settled on four. Half a pizza each is enough, right? No. Wrong. So wrong. Luckily we were saved from this grave mistake, by a lovely lady who was more experienced, than us, in the ways of bulk pizza purchases. Thanks Sam!

So we ate almost all of the pizza and we laughed our way through the wonderful Israeli boyband and drooled at the Swedish perfection. But after all that, we were still hungry. In typical Australian fashion, it was time for a maccas run… wearing pjs…

IMG_1345

Six pizzas, maccas, a nest of pillows, a beautiful Swedish Eurovision man, matching pyjamas, a snuggie, and some brilliant people. What’s not to love!

What was so great about this night wasn’t the Eurovision, or the pizza, or the maccas. It was the general frivolity and fun that happens when you’re with friends. It was the fact that our stomachs hurt, not just from food overload, but from laughing so much as well. Life can be crazy. Life can be difficult. Life can be exhausting. But take a deep breath because the fun times are still there – you just have to look for them. They’re in the form of fun people and spontaneous adventures.

So how shall I conclude all of this. Life is brilliant. There are always opportunities for fun times so don’t pass them up if they seem too ridiculous. There’s nothing wrong with just a little bit of frivolity. Also… daaaaaang Sweden… so much perfection I can’t even.

Stay fun, be happy and invest in a snuggie

-Alice

An Adventure up Elizabeth Street

I must admit, I have grown lazy. Actually no, let me rephrase that. I’ve grown comfortable.

You all know that I have an irrational inadequacy complex. If you don’t, and you are new to my blog, I suggest that you venture over to my “My Irrational Inadequacy Complex” post, before continuing through this lovely little read. But anyway. A while ago I discovered a brilliant little laneway cafe called Bean and it became my new favourite city jaunt. I was proud of myself for defeating my irrational inadequacy complex and relieved when it turned out so well. So relieved, in fact, that I have not been exploring any other cute cafes, as I said I would.

I grew comfortable. This is terrible. For the sake of the life of this blog, it could not continue. I must continue forth on my journey to overcome this complex and experience all fun coffee shops in Brisbane city. Luckily, today is a cool drizzly day and I often find I am at my most adventurous when it is raining. So that’s what I did. I went on an adventure. What did I discover on this adventure? A little coffee shop called Bonsai Botanika

IMG_1285

Entering this coffee shop, you are hit with a wonderful mix of classic French country decor, the rustic edge of deli products secured artistically in glass cabinets and the hipster flair of fake grass, rose gold lighting, wooden ceilings, and a dramatic display of fancy cold brew towers. It is inviting, homey, and a comfortable escape from the cold bite of the rainy outdoors. So far, so good.

IMG_1264 IMG_1272 IMG_1267

Next let’s have a look at the menu, shall we?
As a uni student with a love of coffee and a wallet that is short of money, I don’t go to cafes for the food. I go for the coffee. What did I find? Heaven. So many options it was difficult to decide.

IMG_1261

You not only have cold brew. You have the option of chemex cold brew or Kyoto cold brew. Do you want to choose your roast? Well they’ve got that covered too. How about you throw some chocolate ganache into the mix, just to be super fancy. Do you want to be out there and try some Japanese Rice Tea? They say go for it. I’m all about the variety. These guys have got that down.

Naturally I ordered a Kyoto cold brew in a medium roast, despite the cold weather, because I wanted to explore the wonders of a medium brew from Kyoto (#yolo). What did I get? Crushed ice, and coffee and milk presented in cute little conical flasks. Ummm, yes.

IMG_1278 IMG_1276

Flavour? Amazing.

Now, although I’m not eating food, from where I am sitting (yes I am so excited I’m actually writing the blog post about the cafe whilst still at the cafe), I can see the menu. We’ve got pancakes, quiches, french toast, rice pudding, noix cake and any number of other fun times that I can’t quite decipher from this distance. There are pastries and cakes in the cake cabinet and just so many good times, I can’t even. I also just spotted a choice in hot chocolates between swiss white chocolate, 32% milk chocolate, 67% Madagascan dark chocolate and 70% dark chocolate. What is this place. This is magical.

For some people, the service is also important so I shall say this. Everyone here is welcoming and friendly and the service is quite fast. There is a bar up on the second level as well for anyone who cares about that and it’s not too busy so I would consider this as quite a comfortable little hideaway from the life of the city. The only thing I will say is that this place isn’t particularly cheap. But honestly, for the quality and choice you are getting, this is to be expected.

Overall, I’m in love. If you want somewhere that has a nice open feel, with a rustic charm and an endless choice with food and beverages then please, Bonsai Botanika will be your slice of heaven. It’s on Elizabeth street, just around the corner from Topshop, so is fairly close to the heart of the city and it is definitely worth the venture.

Whilst Bean remains my favourite for its cosy atmosphere that is inevitable in an underground setting, this is definitely a new favourite to add to the list. So friends, go forth and drink coffee.

-Alice

The Subway Man

Today I am not going to show you pictures of things I have recently seen and talk about my life and general musings. I am just going to tell you a story.

To give you some context, this is the short story I wrote for the Grade 12 QCS test last year, under the theme ‘who cares’. I finished it an hour early so decided to rewrite the entire story on some scrap paper so I could remember what I wrote. I stumbled across it tonight and I thought it would be kind of cute to put on my blog. Enjoy 🙂

The Subway Man

In a dusty, secluded corner of the London underground lies a heap of old battered quilts. The air is foul with the stench of decay and the flickering lights above emit sinister shadows from the dark. Hiding beneath the pile of quilts is the subway man. He had a real name once but it was forgotten long ago.

The subway man spends his days buried beneath those quilts, shaking a rusty tin and murmuring “Money for the poor? Money for the blind?” but no one has a dime to spare for the subway man. No one cares enough to even spare a glance for that poor, helpless man in the corner. 

Over the years, this man has transformed, gradually reduced to a decrepit heap amongst the dust. With the change in the subway man, so too came a shift in the London underground. Once upon a time the subway was a place of adventure; an intersection of experiences and lives all coming together. Music from energetic buskers would breeze through the tunnels and sweet aromas of pastries and foreign delights blanketed the air. People of all shapes and sizes would bustle through, laughing, joking, and sharing the stories of their adventures. “Money for the poor? Money for the blind?” People would respond to this cry, filling the tin of the subway man and sharing with him all the stories they had heard so he too could appreciate the vast variety of life. But no more. This time of celebration in the underground has ended. Something happened to that community and broke the delicate ecosystem of life.

As civilisation evolved and technology developed, lives became busier. The clothes of travellers transformed from arrays of bright colours and fabulous frocks to a mask of black and white. The air became stale with cigarette smoke and a shadow darkened the souls of those in the London underground. Their eyes became glazed over with a permanent look of disgust and despair. “Money for the poor? Money for the blind?” The same cry can be heard from the subway man, but with something else. No more do people respond to his pleas. no more do people show interest in his life and his experiences, yet he is the man in the underground with the most beautiful stories to tell. Along with the end of this time of adventure came a change in his plea. The simple murmur of “Money for the poor? Money for the blind?” transformed into a cry desperate for a response. “Money for the poor! Money for the blind!” Yet people are deaf to his pleas.

The truth is, that time of adventure is over. No one cares about the subway man. No one has any interest for the man amongst the quilts with the most stories to tell. No one will ever understand the life of the subway man. 

No one cares.

And that, friends, is the wildly depressing story of the subway man.
On that sad note,
Have a happy day and be sure to buy a sandwich for your local subway man.
-Alice

Boundary Street Markets

As you may have gathered, this blog reflects on stuff. So much reflecting. But sometimes I don’t really feel like reflecting; I just want to point out the good times without having to justify said good time with some deep and philosophical thought about happiness. So here’s a new angle for you. Time to mix it up. Time to start giving some good old-fashioned reviews on stuff. There’ll still be reflecting because… well… that’s just what I do. But it will be broken up with a general guide on where all the fun times are happening in Brisbane. Cafes, markets, laneway festivals, everything. If I go there, I’ll talk about it. Because quite frankly, Brisbane is a bit terrible at advertising their stuff themselves. So let’s help them along, shall we?

After my last post, I think you should all now know that I have a love of spontaneous adventures. As well as this, you should already know that I’m partial towards cute cafes. What you may not know is that I also have an appreciation for cute markets and small farm animals. So what happens when you blend all of this together? A good time. Where did this happen most recently? The Boundary Street markets in West End.

Up until about two weeks ago, these cute markets were a little slice of magic that only occurred in the evenings. But no more!

On a Sunday afternoon, filled with the adventurous spirit and having nowhere else to be, my family stumbled across this little corner of the world and of course our curiosity took over. Upon entering, we discovered farm animals. Well that’s a good start. Who doesn’t love a good farm animal or two. Also can we just take a moment to appreciate those spotty chickens. Oh my gosh.

IMG_1108IMG_1111IMG_1117

We proceeded to wander around outside, weaving between people and taking in the atmosphere of a lively market. We discovered cute little coffee corners. I’m calling them corners because they were too fancy to be considered ‘stalls’ and too small to be classified as ‘cafes’. Also I like corners.

IMG_1131 IMG_1120 IMG_1118

We never actually had the opportunity to try any of these which is wildly disappointing; but that just gives me all the more reason to go back! What I can tell, however, is that these corners offer a comfortable and welcoming place to hide away from the hustle and bustle of the markets, whilst also providing caffeinated beverages and pancakes. So far, I’m sold.

But it didn’t end there. Upon moving indoors, I was hit with an overwhelming feeling of ‘OHMYGOSH this is everything I love in one place.’ Just enough hipster to appeal to the slight hipster within me, and just enough general market brilliance to make it a fun time for the masses. Wooden furniture, old books, steampunk accessories, vintage clothes. I was in heaven. The Boundary Street markets have an impressive variety of offerings considering their small size. Well done Boundary Street. You have impressed me.

There is not a large offering of food here and apart from the animals, there are no areas of particular interest for kids. So I’d say if you’re a uni student with friends (or maybe highschool if you’re a particularly artsy teenager), if you’re a couple on date night or if you’re feeling kind of lonely and just want to feel the community vibes, then this is a place for you.

Their website has some more details, so it’s time to peruse.
http://www.boundarystreetmarkets.com.au/

Also, if you are a local or if you are looking for some holiday adventures, check out Visit Brisbane for updates on what is happening around the place.

Stay happy and keep adventuring
– Alice

A Hankering for Waffles

It is a well known fact that when a uni student has a craving for waffles and time on their hands, they will go to every length to find themselves a dose of this deliciously fattening dessert.

Every Tuesday I have the privilege of hanging out with four of my favourite people, going to lectures together, having coffee in our break and then tutes in the afternoon. Generally we just go to a local cafe, eat toasted cheese sandwiches, sip coffee and pretend to be mildly sophisticated. But this week, it simply wouldn’t do. Why? Because we wanted waffles. When we want waffles, ain’t nothin’ else happening until we get our hands on them waffles. So what did we do? We threw all appearances of sophistication out the window, grasped at the spontaneity of youth and journeyed to the city for some pancake manor waffles. We talked, we laughed, and one of us had slightly too much waffle.

IMG_1027IMG_1025  IMG_1029

We felt fat, we felt full and the waffle hankering had been fulfilled. But no, the journey didn’t end there. Since we were already in the city and enjoying eachother’s company, why not be frivolous for just a little while longer? After all, we still had time to kill. So on went the escapade until we ended up in Bean (check out my previous blog post about this if you haven’t already) for coffee and more fun times. There was more conversation to be had, more food to be dreamed about and of course, more hilarity.

IMG_1039 IMG_1040 IMG_1042

After too much food but so many good times, we parted ways with lighter wallets and heavier… everything else….

But my blog isn’t supposed to be just recounts of my day and telling people the ins and outs of my life. So what am I actually here for? Well, let me enlighten you.

Sometimes it is the most simple things in life that are brilliant and often it is the times you share with other people that are the most brilliant of all. Have you ever watched someone laugh? Seen their smile light up their eyes in a way that nothing else can? Have you ever listened to someone share a memory? Afterwards left to sit, amazed by something that you yourself will never have the privilege of experiencing? These are the things I see every Tuesday. Keeping it simple is sometimes all you need. Waffles, laughter and spontaneous adventures are, most certainly, brilliant.

People are amazing.
So keep making friends and take them out for waffles
– Alice

My Irrational Inadequacy Complex

I have an irrational fear of trendy cafes. Shall I elaborate?

Every time I go into an epic cafe I feel like I am somehow undermining its trendiness, just by existing. I don’t know why I am so put off by these cafes. I’m certainly not lacking in confidence and I at least like to think I have enough style about me to be able to enjoy a caffeinated beverage without offending the next guy. So surely I should have no problem. But I do. With no reasonable explanation for my issue, I have dubbed this fear as an ‘irrational inadequacy complex’.

Irrational Inadequacy Complex:
The belief, with no justification, that one is unsuited to a particular experience due to perceived social inadequacy.

Let me help you get the full picture of this problem, by telling you a story.

IMG_0846          IMG_0848

For the last three months, I have been walking past this same epic cafe, twice a week, to and from uni. It’s called Bean and is buried deep within the bowels of a very artistically decorated laneway, with a cute little banner inviting us in to ‘escape the city’. So of course the hipster inside me leapt with excitement at the thought of a new city hideaway. On multiple occasions, I thought to myself ‘I can do this. It’s just coffee. I’m a uni student. I belong darn it.’ With this little burst of courage I would turn slightly in the direction of the alley, see the paintings on the walls, be reminded of the trendiness I was about to be drowned in, and once again, my irrational inadequacy complex would kick in and I would continue on my way through the city, as if I’d never intended to indiscreetly enjoy a coffee in Bean cafe.

However, I was determined to conquer this irrational inadequacy complex and on a drizzly April day, I finally did it, with no regrets. I wandered down the cute little alley, turned a corner, ventured under scaffolding and climbed down a staircase to the fabulous little hollow of the city, known as Bean. Upon entering, I was welcomed by the warm glow of the gentle lighting, a casual and comfortable atmosphere with lounge chairs and boardgames everywhere. I was greeted by a very enthusiastic barista and I enjoyed a perfectly brewed cold drip coffee.

IMG_0905  IMG_0909  IMG_0907

I was also pleased to be reminded of the extent of the irrationality in my complex. Bean was full of regular people; a family, some hard working uni goers and at one point – to my delight – a couple of men in their 70s, who’d come for a casual gossip amongst the youths. It was brilliant. I had a great time, I had great coffee, and it was warm and inviting.

So what have we determined?

That my complex is, indeed, wildly irrational. That Bean definitely exudes a touch of brilliance. That this is most certainly my new favourite city jaunt.

So if you have this complex, don’t let it hold you back from a good beverage in a good place, because the fear is, indeed, irrational.

Stay happy and keep exploring,
– Alice

The Enthusiasm of a Busker

The other day I was doing my usual wanderings through the city and I stumbled across this guy:

IMG_0769 IMG_0775 IMG_0765

I’ve seen him around before, always in the same spot. But this time I noticed something.

You know how in my last blog, I mentioned how so many things go unnoticed by people staring at their watches, hoping they don’t miss their train? Whilst I did mean this in an allegorical sense, this busker has the unfortunate privilege of being the literal example of what I was describing. You see, he is placed directly out the front of a major bus station meaning almost everyone who passes him by is distracted; in haste to make sure they don’t miss their bus, or rushing from their bus to work because in typical bus fashion, it arrived late.

The reason I love this guy so much is because he’s not discouraged by the absent mindedness of passers-by. Very few notice him, and yet look at him. Just jamming out to his own tune. Having a great time, doing his thing. He looks happier than anyone else and yet to the world, he’s invisible. Also, can we just take a moment to appreciate his style? This guy is on point and his talent is incredible.

What I saw in this legend was most certainly a touch of brilliance. That little speck of light lost amongst the shadows, that burst of life amidst the mechanical movements of passers-by and a smile of genuine happiness that was contagious for those lucky enough to notice it. These people are worth noticing. They’re the kinds of people who would brighten your day with their own happiness. Thankyou sir, for being the legend that you are and being kind enough to share your enthusiasm with the rest of us.

So that’s all from me,

Stay happy!

-Alice

Hello!

Hello friends!

My name is Alice and I see the world differently. I think of life as a two part cocktail, made up of tangible and intangible elements. Life’s tangible elements are the things that can be measured; your achievements, your wealth, your time. In a society that is so obsessed with the ability to understand and measure everything, it is only natural that these are the things most people focus on everyday; the things that have the most influence on the judgement of our personal success and worth as a member of society. The importance of these tangible elements are so heavily established within our thought processes that they make us stressed, they make us sad, and sometimes they can blind us to the other half of life’s cocktail. The intangible elements are so often overlooked amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life. I’m talking about the things that can’t be measured. To get philosophical about it, these are the things Alan Turing viewed as the defining elements of humanity, that separate man from machine. Our experiences, our memories, our emotions. In a world that is now so heavily focused on economic growth and scientific advances, it is no surprise that its people are becoming less like people and more like parts of a machine, wired for a specific purpose and drawn away from all the opportunities and experiences that make us human. This is sad.

But I don’t think it has to be this way. You know how I said I see life differently? This is what I meant.

I made a decision a while ago. That the intangible elements of life are just as important as the tangible. I work hard, yeah. Even though I avoid stressing out until it’s absolutely necessary, I still see the importance of ‘tangible success’. But you know what? Just to be really cliche, I’ll chuck this idea out there: life’s too short to miss an opportunity to smile. I’m one of those weird people that is always smiling. That says hello to strangers in a tone that is slightly too bright and happy to be appropriate in that particular situation. That finds hilarity in all the small things that no one else ever seems to notice. I love people. I love seeing them express themselves, I love hearing their stories and I love seeing them smile.

I wish other people could join me. It saddens me that so many people are missing out on so much brilliance. So I want to change it.

This blog is exactly as described. A documentation of life’s brilliance. Everything from talented buskers to creative fashion statements, to bustling cafes. All the things that people miss everyday as they stare down at their watches hoping they don’t miss their train. I want to make people smile. I want to bring together a community of people that have fun, smile way too often and say hi too happily, because that is what life is all about. I hope you will join me on my adventure.

Have fun and be brilliant,

– Alice