Fashionista ~ Career Woman ~ Op Shopper ~ Online Shopping Addict ~ Bargain Hunter ~ Child Rearer ~ Book Reader ~ Social Commentator

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Carly Paiker for Sportsgirl

I have blogged about Carly Paiker jewellery before. I love her designs, but they're a little out of my price range. It's always exciting when you know the designer, and have watched the brand grow from its grassroots in little old Perth and it is now taking on Australia. Well done Carly, your unique designs, quality pieces and perseverance have paid off. I think this will really put Carly Paiker jewellery on the map.

In an interview by the Australian Jewish News, Carly says:

“I wanted this so much. I could see my brand, I had a vision for it all and everything else followed... I made mistakes, and I figured out how to do it along the way. Now I have my products being made in three to four factories in Bali and China... If I needed something made, I usually wanted it to be made so badly that I would spend hours researching it. I was willing to take risks because it meant so much to me.”

This is my favourite necklace which is available as part of Carly's 2011 range:


That's It! Online Shopping Ban in Force

My latest Dorothy Perkins order arrived today, and since I have just been on a Melbourne shopping spree, the timing was not good. I no longer want, and definitely do not need, most if not all of the items in the order. I am also disappointed, because the one item that I really wanted (leather boots for 15 pounds) was not included in the order because they were 'sold out', despite being in stock on the website when I ordered. I don't think websites should be allowed to charge a high flat shipping rate and then vary your order by omitting items, without the customer's consent!

I also almost made an order on Urban Outfitters today - luckily the main item I wanted sold out while I was deliberating.

I have been spending money to make myself happy, but that is wrong on so many levels. I have so many unworn items hanging in my closet, and not enough space to store everything.

 I am feeling really annoyed at myself, so I plan to do the following in the month of February...

(1) Total Online Shopping Ban - I am not to buy anything online for the whole of February. I will avoid websites like Ozbargain and the Vogue Forums, which encourage me to buy.

(2) Fashion and Accessories Retail Shopping Ban - I will not buy any clothing or accessories (including jewellery) for the month of February from any retail store. *excludes op shops

(3) When op shopping, I will pause and think twice about every item before buying it, and remember that I need to de-clutter!

(4) I will sort through my wardrobe and create a 'for sale' section on this blog, so that my readers can buy some of my unworn or pre-loved items at bargain prices.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Melbourne by night: all about the lights

Our nights in Melbourne were filled with an unprecedented amount of bright lights, and other bright and sparkly things. It started with the Australia day fireworks display, which was a FAIL on our behalf. We packed a lovely picnic complete with lamingtons, damper rolls and sparkling grape juice. We found a spot by the river and settled down to eat. I suggested that we would have a better view from the opposite bank, but my friends (who are Melbournians, and whom I trusted) were too lazy to move and assured me that we'd still be able to see. 

Of course, we had massive boat sheds completely blocking our view of the main fireworks, and could only see the small secondary sparks let off from the top of this building:

It was pretty funny - I have seen enough fireworks in my life (and will see many more I'm sure) not to worry about missing these.

On Saturday night, we were walking along Southbank marveling at the lovely lights and lanterns hung over some Asian markets set up for Chinese New Year, when we were treated to a spectacular fireworks display right in front of us. It put the Australia day ones to shame!

There was also dragon dancing, drumming and various other entertainment in addition to the usual street performers. This is the Asian garden roof display in the Crown Casino:

This display of giant fire balls is another Crown attraction:

Friday’s cool but there’s something about Saturday night
You can’t say what you won’t do cause you know you just might
Our lives this evening it was love at first sight
This Saturday and every Saturday for the rest of my life
And it’s all right, it’s all right, it’s all right, it’s all right, it’s all right
Bright lights bigger city belongs to us tonight, tonight
- Cee-Lo Green, Bright Lights Bigger City

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Melbourne by day: shopping, street art and beaches

I had a very nice few days in Melbourne. We certainly got a lot of sun, my skin is feeling it now! The highlights were checking out the Fitzroy/Collingwood area, with it's interesting street art and boutiques, and spending a morning at Brighton Beach.

 Vintage stores galore in Fitzroy - such a cool area!

 You could easily kit out a whole house - it would be pricey though. I much prefer op shops and scoring real bargains.

There is a double story outlet store on Brunswick St in Fitzroy called 'Clear It'. Most notably it stocks Alannah Hill. I was shocked at how overpriced it was, and how much people are willing to pay for this brand name. A totally ripped dress that is missing 3/4 of its beads might be reduced to a "bargain" $50 in the faulty section. There is literally stock strewn all over the place, thousands of cardigans with missing beads, all crammed onto shelves in a disorderly fashion, befitting the mere pieces of material that they are. What will a cardigan set you back, if you can find an undamaged one? At least $100. Needless to say, I didn't find anything and left feeling somewhat disillusioned by the fashion industry, or at least Alannah Hill.

I had more success at Bridge Road, and photos of my purchases will be coming soon. I have really got to stop buying so many clothes, I have been super naughty with my physical and online shopping these past few months....

Who else watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a kid?

 Lovely old buildings on Smith St

 I plan to start a succulent garden in my collection of interesting pots, mugs and jars, much like this one. The collecting of suitable succulent / cacti holders has already begun.

Brighton Beach: It isn't the nicest beach but it has these funky beach huts, which are great for photos, and for providing shade!

I love this one!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Why Social Media is not just for Teens...

Facebook. Twitter. Myspace. Youtube. Linkedin. Bebo. Flickr. Blogger.
Social media is a marketer's dream. I'm not just talking about for advertising, this post is about stats. Statistics. Mathematics. Market research. Social and behavioural science. Stuff which fascinates me for some inexplicable reason.

Source: Digital Buzz

I had some interest in using social media for data mining, and so I did some research. I found that the capabilities already out there go well beyond what I imagined. Prepare to be gobsmacked:

  • Companies can use Twitter to profile people by geography, sentiment, gender and more. For example, data mining using the term "cat lover" might reveal where best to set up a cat accessories store. This example is a bit left field, but you can see where I'm going with it. Clients from financial services, healthcare, retail, politics, TV and news media companies have started using social media to gain a better understanding of their industry. Twitter has proven to be a surprisingly accurate indicator of levels of influenza in the community (and so data mining could be useful for predicting epidemics, tracking contamination etc). It is an excellent tool for political analysis and may even be a predictor of stock market activity and volatility, or perhaps a trading strategy. 
  • With Twitter Sentiment, anyone can search a brand and find out both positive and negative comments relating to it, as well as a graph depicting the percentages of positive vs negative sentiment. I did a few test searches and I'm not sure how accurate, or extensive this app is, but it's certainly a sign of things to come. Another tool, Twist, creates graphs of the frequency that a brand is mentioned at any given time during a day, month etc.
  • Social networks are a goldmine for data for analysing behaviour and emotions. One study linked particular words with positive and negative moods. For example, posts using the word "awesome" or "fantastic" or "happy" would indicate a positive state, whereas words such as "angry" or "upset" would indicate a negative state. Obviously there is some scope for inaccuracy in an individual post, but once you mine large quantities of data you can observe interesting trends. They found that people tend to be happier in the morning and during weekends (no surprises there!). The messages revealed that people wake up happy and slowly grow more disgruntled and sour as the day goes on, though their affect usually rebounds in the evening (again, this makes sense!). You can see it here in graphical form.
  • Did you know that Sydneysiders are the rudest Tweeters, followed by Brisbanites? Those in Adelaide are the most affectionate and those in Canberra the most aggressive and sad. No wonder I find Canberra somewhat depressing...
  • Tweets or other posts provide a valuable time stamp, not only on moods but also behaviour. Marketers can use this sort of data to determine when best to target people with advertising, when to prompt people to buy and when to prompt them to share product information. For example, a UK analytics company did a study and found that pass-along value tweets are most frequently seen at 11:30am on Mondays, conversational tweets are heaviest on Tuesdays and news tweets are heaviest at 2:00pm on Tuesdays. I bet you didn't know that!
  • Social networking offers endless posibilities for personality analysis and psychological profiling. Using Tweetstats, you can find out someone's most commonly used words (this is all about measuring the cognitive and emotional properties of a person based on the words they use). There are a number of other websites offering free personality analysis via your Twitter account. For those with the capabilities (such as analytics companies, marketing agencies and even the police if they invested in this sort of skill) you can see how a person's Facebook or Twitter account has the potential to provide a window into the person's mind. I envisage a crime show based on social media analysis, to find criminals and predict who a criminal's next victim will be...
  •  If marketers want to target certain types of people, for example to seed a product, they can use a simple tool like Twitalyzer to find out a person's (a) Influence score, which is basically your popularity score on Twitter (b) signal-to-noise ratio (c) one's propensity to ‘retweet' or pass along others' tweets (d) velocity - the rate one's updates on Twitter and (e) clout - based on how many times one is cited in tweets. 
  •  For people using Twitter as a publicity or marketing tool, TweetEffect analyses which tweets make them gain or loose followers. Obviously there are other factors at play so this app has limited accuracy, but a more accurate tool will no doubt emerge in the future. Other research reveals what types of tweets get re-tweeted most often, and what users can do to get more re-tweets.
  •  Social media may even prove useful for companies to predict demand and control stock levels and manufacturing volumes. For example, they can find out if people like a newly released product, and how many intend to purchase it.

Some of above might seem obvious, but the point is that analysing data in this way may reveal some underlying and previously ignored trends and effects. In the book Supercrunchers: How Anything Can be Predicted, the author reveals some mind blowing ways that large data sets (such as social network posts) are used as predictors of future behaviour and how they are used to uncover cause and effect relationships. For example, casinos can calculate the maximum amount that a customer can lose and still come away feeling like they had a positive gambling experience thanks to a 'free' meal at the casino's restaurant. The blurb of this book asks the question: Why should you be worried if you are receiving good customer service? I definitely want to get my hands on it, it sounds fascinating, and worrying.

Is there anything about us that they won't know? Social media data analysis is a rapidly growing industry. Technology is rapidly changing the way that businesses operate, and well as the way we do business. Watch this space.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sorry passengers, we're doubling your flight time

As you read this, I'm on my flight to Melbourne - woohoo! I wrote the following post during my last trip to Sydney.... let's hope this experience is not repeated:

A flight from Sydney to Canberra is supposed to take around forty minutes. Even less if you are on one of the proper planes (as I thankfully was), instead of the Dash 8 with it's ancient looking propellors.

Thank the lord I was NOT on one of these.

After around forty minutes, the captain told the cabin staff to prepare for landing and nothing was amiss. Then it got a little bumpy, and an hour later we still hadn't landed. There was a storm front right over Canberra so we couldn't land, and instead our forty minute flight turned into a two and a half hour flight as we circled the capital.

As the plane lurched up and down and left and right for an hour and a half, the children on the flight screamed 'Weee' and 'Wooo' and had a fabulous time. It did feel a little like a rollercoaster. I sat there gripping the armrests and the story about the Qantas flight that plunged mid air kept running through my head.

Holes in the Qantas aircraft that suddenly plunged 700 feet with no warning - caused by people's heads. The cause of the incident? A "rare" computer mulfunction.

Thankfully I had a window seat, and the fluffiness of the clouds provided some distraction. I can totally see why our perception of heaven involves being in the clouds - there is something very magical and Godly about them. I took a few interesting photos:

Do you have a flight horror story? I hope you're all enjoying Australia day, I'll be posting about my day once I'm back in Canberra!

Source: Natalie Kirk

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Calling all Melbournites: Recommendations Please!

Morning all! I hope you're having a good week. It's hard not to be happy when tomorrow is a public holiday. I am taking Friday off work and spending 4 days catching up with friends in Melbourne, which should be excellent.

Can anyone recommend the best thing to do in Melbourne on Australia day? Are the fireworks worthwhile, and where should we watch them from?

Things I'd like to do/see this visit (I won't get through them all, but I'll tick some off):

#1 Brunswick St, Fitzoy - I didn't manage to get there on my last visit. I love the vibe in this area.

Source: Photos4Travel

#2 DFO or outlet shopping along Bridge Road. Can anyone recommend their favourite spot for outlet shopping, whether it be a DFO/Harbour Town or Richmond?

#3 Go for a stroll and have brekkie in St Kilda. If it's sunny that is. Fish and chips in the sun sounds good too, especially since we don't get fresh seafood in Canberra!

#4 Check out Brighton Beach - I've never been and it looks super cute with it's colourful beach shacks.
Source: Fanpop

#5 Visit the Heide Museum of Modern Art. I love modern art, and pretty whimsical gardens. This place has both.

Source: Skiptown

#6 Enjoy some brunches in Melbourne's funky cafes. Last time I tried Auction Rooms, and loved it. This time, I'll tick off some other recommendations.

#7 Sip a cocktail at a rooftop bar. While Sydney might be famous for its hidden alleyway bars, Melbourne is famous for its rooftops. Bimbo Deluxe looks amazing, and I have always wanted to try Madame Brussels.

Source: Flikr

#8 Go op shopping. It's my favourite passtime and I love checking out new haunts, so it makes sense to do it in a new city. It might be difficult without a car... I was thinking Richmond has quite a few within walking distance of each other. Does anyone recommend a different area? Where are your favourites?

Source: WeHeartIt

I hope you all have a lovely day off tomorrow, and HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Spring/Summer Colours: Coral - Tastic

Coral remained huge on the catwalks in the Spring 2012 collections. Above is a selection of designers, but I could have picked from virtually any collection.
Colours of Summer: Coral

But here's my favourite part... coral + turquoise are a match made in heaven! They have often been combined in jewellery, now the fashion world is slowly catching on. I for one love how these colours compliment each other:
Coral + turquoise: LOVE IT!

Coral and turquoise are almost opposites on the colour wheel. This means that one intensifies the other, which really each one pop.

Spring/Summer Colours: Turquoise

Turquoise on the catwalks: Spring 2012 collections

There is something lovely and uplifting about turquoise. Marry it with gold in an accessory, and you melt my heart. Turquoise was in vouge in the 60s and 70s, and as with all trends, it's coming back.

Some gorgeous clothes and accessories:
Colours of Summer: Turquoise

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Highlights and Lowlights of the Week

  • Went out for brunch (in case you haven't realised, this is my favourite meal of the day)
  • Went to a dinner party/taco night
  • Went op shopping, and scored some gorgeous things
  • Overindulged in chocolate at Max Brenner
  • Ate some rainbow cake
  • Went to Kambah Adventure Playground, a giant kids playground in Canberra
  • I am still feeling really unmotivated and uninspired at work. This week went as slowly as the last, and I don't see it improving any time soon. I'm not sure what to do...
  • I have been pigging out on junk food a lot lately, and it's all weight I'll have to loose in the future. It doesn't make me feel any better about things either!
  • Bub is being really challenging. She's generally being disagreeable and has been throwing violent tantrums (hitting and kicking me) for the first time ever. It doesn't help that I'm not feeling myself so have limited patience. 
The weeks highlights in photos:

#1 Op Shop Finds

This kitsch baby/child mug ($1) is my favourite find - so ugly yet so delightful! I also got these plastic sunflower tumblers - sunflowers are one of my favourite flowers.

 Lovely Pottery Tea and Coffee Containers, marked Harlington Pottery. These things are usually so pricey even at op shops, but these were a bargain at $3 for the pair. I don't have anything like this yet so they're perfect for the kitchen.

Finally, this funky retro plate ($1), paint your own box bag for Bub ($1), glass beaded necklace ($2) and as new vintage brogues with canvas and faux leather ($3).

Linking up with Sophie's Fleamarket Finds.

#2 Kambah Adventure Playground
Rock climbing at Kambah Adventure Playground

 Giant slide

#3 Food glorious food
 Max Brenner chocolate sundae goodness - chocolate ice cream with brownies, crispy waffle balls, melted chocolate in a pot and chocolate covered rice krispies... all of MB's specialities in one (except for their hot chocolate, which I also love!)

Yummy spicy beans with poached eggs, at Bittersweet Cafe in Kingston.

 On the outside, this cake looks pretty average. The birthday boy's name starts with a Y.

 But inside - RAINBOW CAKE! It looked and tasted fantastic, what a great idea!

 This was hilarious - we were having dinner at Pork Barrell in Parkes when suddenly the sprinklers turned on, right in the middle of where they had set up tables. There was a massive commotion and everyone who was sitting at those tables got drenched! The staff were dumb-struck!

Taco filling goodness

Not quite edible, but the taco dinner party hostees have this awesome bird, who has a lot of character (and can be very noisy!)
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