Tuesday, 5 April 2016

5 Ways to Make Someone Feel Special on Their Birthday (or Anytime!)

1. Tie a treat to a string and hang it at eye level outside their door, above their desk or wherever they’re sure to find it. Hint: tying cupcakes to dangling strings is hard; tying chocolate bars to dangling strings is easy.

2. If you’re apart, print out a picture of their face and stick it on a shirt stuffed with newspaper; then take a selfie with their stuffed stand-in and send it to them!

3. Think of 10 things that they love; print out a picture of each thing; slip the stack into an envelope and give it to them! Bonus points for decorating the envelope real pretty.

4. In the week leading up to their birthday (or anytime if you’re making someone feel special for no reason), put ten cards in the mail; write one thing you like about them in each card. Or just write ‘hi’ – whatever!

5. Take them out for lunch, duh.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Let’s Talk About Paper, Baby

I know how much you’ve struggled. How many sleepless nights and torturous days you’ve spent. How much your personal life has suffered. All because you don’t know enough about paper.

I have good news, folks. I’m gonna teach you a few things about tree’s flimsiest by-product; just enough that you can live your life again but not that much because I know just about nothing on the topic.

How is paper thickness measured?
In Australia, paper thickness is measured by grams per square metre (GSM). So basically, how much does a 1x1m piece of the paper weigh? Paper towels are about 40gsm, a standard sheet of computer paper is 80gsm and Things by Bean cards are 280gsm. And those are the three most important paper products in the world, so we don’t need any more examples.

How is paper made?
This probably should have been the first item, but it required research, so I put it off. Making paper is easy, really! That is, if you have a lumberjack and several tonnes of machinery at your disposal. First, the trees are cut down… and you know the rest!

Only joking.

The logs are transported to the paper mill, where they’re washed and cut into chips. These chips are then put through pulping machines that separate every single fibre of the wood, creating a really watery pulp. The pulp is 99% water at this stage, so to dry it out, it gets sprayed onto wires screens by giant machines. The wire catches the fibre but the water drains off, so you’re left with a sheet of fibres that have bonded together. The wire screen and fibre sheet are rolled through hot cylinders over and over until the fibres are dry, compact and looking suspiciously like a sheet of paper! It can then be cut into perfect rectangles or squares or whatever and sent off to be scribbled on by you and me. By the way, paper mills smell horrendously awful; never live near one. 

How is paper recycled?
Every day in the USA, paper mills recycle enough paper to fill a 15 mile long train of boxcars. Paper is so easy to reuse, so keep putting it in the right bin. Throwing it in the trash in a total waste! After you put it in your recycling bin, the paper gets taken to the recycling plant. It’s separated into different types of paper (for instance, cardboard and newspaper couldn’t be processed together) and each type is washed with soapy water in giant vats. The paper and water become a sludge and that sludge (I can’t believe sludge is a real word) is spread out into sheets. Once it’s dry, it’s rolled up, ready to be cut to size and sent to shops!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

How to Write a Kick-Ass Message in a Greeting Card (Even if You Barely Know the Recipient)

Maybe it’s your natural charm. Maybe they feel a little sad for you. Or perhaps they have a warm body quota to fill. Whatever the reason, something makes near-strangers invite you to their birthday parties, engagement dinners and baby showers. 

If it’s a big to-do with all kinds of diversions, you can probably get away with shuffling in, planting a few smooches here and there and disappearing into the thick of the shindig. But if it’s an intimate affair with no way around formal acknowledgement of the guest of honour, you’re in trouble. 

Gifts can present a challenge, but everyone’s always going to like a bottle of wine, delicious edibles or the old standby, their very own star. The real conundrum is the card. What do you write in a greeting card for someone you barely know?

If you wrote a message inside the card that actually reflected the relationship that you have, it would say something like:


Happy birthday! 

It was so awesome when my friend Georgia’s friend Sammy introduced me to you at 4am at that dirty bar and I was so drunk I don’t remember your name – I actually never even heard it, haha! 

All the best,

That’s not a good message. You’d be such a dick if you wrote that in a card and gave it to someone! Word travels fast at parties, so it wouldn’t be long before people were body-blocking you from the dip and, if you’re in Year 5 or below, giving you wet willies. 

We can all agree it’s best to avoid dying from lack o’ snack or dealing with wet fingers in your ears. To get the greeting card message right every time, just keep these four tips in mind:

1. Make a reference to an in-joke
But you don’t have any in-jokes with strangers! Or so you think. We’re all hooooomans. We all live on Earth. Y’know? We have heaps in common with everyone in the world and there are plenty of universal in-jokes to reference. 

Try something like: I’ll never get over the fact that we both laugh when something’s funny and cry when something’s sad! So weird! Love ya!

2. Make a sweeping statement about happiness
Ignoring all the sickos out there, everyone deserves to be happy. And everyone likes being told that they deserve to be happy. No matter what occasion the recipient is celebrating, they want people to say that they’re great and that they deserve happiness – so tell them!

Try something like: You’re really special and you deserve to be happy every day.

3. Finish with something inspiring
Always end on a positive note – preferably a little phrase that makes people feel empowered. 

Try something like: Go get ‘em!

4. Throw in some superlatives
Superlatives are like speed for greeting card messages. They disguise the lack of meaning and make the recipient’s heart race! Wherever you’ve used a regular word, take it to the next level. And add adjectives. Lots of amazing, awesome, fantastic, brilliant, special, remarkable, magnificent adjectives!

Write your message taking tips 1-3 into account, then go through and do a superlative makeover. The final message might read something like this:

Hey – 

Biggest happy birthday ever!

It’s the most amazing thing that you didn’t plan your party 14 years ago when Y2K was supposed to mess everything up! How crazy was all that fuss?!

Anyway, you’re the absolute coolest and you deserve complete happiness. 

Go take over the world!

All the very best,

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Life Instyle Sydney 2015

We left Melbourne in early morn
To hit the road for Sydney
Had a halfway pie in Gundagai
And rolled into the city

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Baby Got WHAT WHAT!?

What do you type in when you're searching for awesome greeting cards?

'birthday card awesome'
'birthday greeting card funny'
'congratulations card cool'
'greeting card best friend pie'
Probably something like that. Because those are normal searches. But not everyone types in searches so responsibly. The shmancy analytics of the Things by Bean website shows you how people end up on the site.
Take a look at some of the gems that have landed people on www.thingsbybean.com:
'creep saying happy birthday' (ew, run)
'bar graph type of beans' (I would be legitimately interested in something like this)
'good egg images' (HAHA!)
'so far away i miss you' (so sad!)
'gambar i miss you'  (who's gambar?!)
'why is stuff better than things' (good question, pal)
And my personal favourite:
'baby got nice nice'