everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

Well, hello kitty

It’s winter time in Australia now, and for Melbourne, that means some colder temperatures than I’ve been used to as a Sydney-sider. Which I don’t actually mind at all – it’s a great excuse to wear lots of layers with faux fur trimmings and to watch tv under a crocheted nanna blanket. And maybe even wear a beanie, although I’m still not sure beanies really make anyone look that great.

Well, I did think that, until I rediscovered the etsy store ToScarboroughFair. Now, I’m not a crazy cat lady, but I don’t judge you if you are. And why shouldn’t cats be able to style up their looks like humans – maybe without the faux fur trimmings, as that would be a bit creepy, but with a beanie or little hat, especially as the weather gets cold. Here are some of my favourites. You’re welcome.

catberet

Bonjour. [image from ToScarboroughFair]

catcap

A round of golf, you say? [image from ToScarboroughFair]

catbeanie

Chillin’. [image from ToScarboroughFair]

catrasta

Rasta cat. [image from ToScarboroughFair]

cattophat

Seriously? [image from ToScarboroughFair]

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Accessorising with Animals

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I love finding quirky gift ideas to help you with presents for those tricky-to-buy-for people in your life. And when I saw this series of items, I just had to share. Whether someone really loves animals, or isn’t allowed to have real pets in their apartment, or is a stressed-out big-wig Exec VP GM CFO OMG, or just needs a funky carrying device, I present to you some of the highlights from Ben Tsang’s etsy shop: BENWINEWIN. (And I have to say that any shop that has wine and win in its name has already got me.)

"Brown Cat Bag" includes cat-like straps.  [image from BENWINEWIN]

Well, hello kitty! “Brown Cat Bag” includes cat-like straps, apparently.
[image from BENWINEWIN]

I feel like this Panda Purse would help to save money. The guilt trip from those sad eyes will keep the zipper closed tight. [image from BENWINEWIN]

I feel like this Panda Purse would help to save money. The guilt trip from those sad eyes: do you really need those expensive shoes? Will you really wear that hat again? Are the sequins really a wardrobe staple? Got bamboo?
[image from BENWINEWIN]

This owl cushion is basically the soft furnishing equivalent of a menacing whisper: YOU'RE ALWAYS BEING WATCHED.

This owl cushion is basically a menacing whisper: YOU’RE ALWAYS BEING WATCHED.
[image from BENWINEWIN]

The Pomeranian. Happiest dog-bag in the world. [image from BENWINEWIN]

The Pomeranian. Happiest dog-bag in the world.
[image from BENWINEWIN]

And my personal favourite…

Because everyone needs a giant raccoon by their side. [image from BENWINEWIN]

Because everyone needs a giant raccoon by their side.
[image from BENWINEWIN]

I hope you like these as much as I did – and please feel free to share this post with any friends who might also like what BENWINEWIN does. And if you needed another reason to visit the shop, Ben Tsang also takes custom orders…so you can carry your little Pixie or Spot or Roger (the raccoon, obviously) everywhere you go. You’re welcome!

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Amigurumi? Yes!

Hello again. It’s been a while since my last post. For a whole heap of reasons, I’ve been finding it a bit tricky to find my way back after my extended Camino break late last year. But what better way to come back than with some teeny tiny crocheted (if that’s a word) animals from Vietnam. Thuy Mai Thu is the genius behind LamLinh – a ‘mini crochet amigurumi world’. And now that I have googled it, I can tell you that amigurumi is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small stuffed animals and anthropomorphic creatures. Uh huh.

I am not sure what you’re meant to do with these little guys, but I think the detail is incredible. And I admire anyone who chucks in their office job to pursue their passion – in this case, their passion for crocheting unbelievably tiny characters that can sit on your fingertips. Love your work, LamLinh!

Definitely an apartment-friendly dachshund, at a height of 1cm. [image from LamLinh, via etsy]

Definitely an apartment-friendly dachshund, at a height of 1cm.
[image from LamLinh.etsy.com]

Not so scary now, 2.5cm tall crochet Hulk. [image from LamLinh.etsy.com]

Not so scary now, 2.5cm tall crochet Hulk.
[image from LamLinh.etsy.com]

Favourite 'room-mates' of all time & probably my most favourite piece in this shop.  [image from LamLinh.etsy.com]

Favourite ‘room-mates’ of all time & probably my most favourite piece in this shop.
[image from LamLinh.etsy.com]

Everyone needs 'Ugly Black Cat' tapping across their piano keys. Or guarding the milk in the fridge.  [image from LamLinh.etsy.com]

Everyone needs ‘Ugly Black Cat’ tapping across their piano keys. Or guarding the milk in the fridge.
[image from LamLinh.etsy.com]

And a 1.5cm Kung Fu Panda to finish. Just because.  [image from LamLinh.etsy.com]

And a 1.5cm Kung Fu Panda to finish. Just because.
[image from LamLinh.etsy.com]

If you would like to check out more of the LamLinh collection, the etsy store is here. You can even request a custom-made amigurumi – now that would make a winning anniversary gift / special birthday celebration / amigurumi collector’s dream…

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Roaring and Snoring at Taronga Zoo

On Saturday night, a wonderful tradition continued for me here in Sydney. Actually, I think I have written about it here before, but that was a while back, so I’m sure it’s ok if I tell you about it again. It all started almost six years ago, when my eldest niece turned eight. Given that her birthday is in December, I gave her a combined birthday-Christmas present of a Roar and Snore adventure at Taronga Zoo.

(If you’re not familiar with Taronga Zoo, it’s in a fabulous location with some of the best views in Sydney (especially if you’re a giraffe) and they have a really strong commitment to ensuring that the animals are well looked after – which makes for some large enclosures and interesting activities.)

Life is good, especially at Roar and Snore. [image from Taronga Zoo website]

Life is good, especially at Roar and Snore.
[image from Taronga Zoo website]

Anyways, last weekend it was finally the turn of the youngest of the three sisters in the family to head off for our overnight excursion to the zoo. LG was super excited about it – I know that for sure because she had written I AM SO EXCITED! on the gift voucher in giant letters. She had also started a countdown on her calendar and her whiteboard some time before we were due to go and had written a long list of things that she needed to pack in her bag – she’s an organised gal, alright.

The view from our tent. Uh huh.

The view from our tent. Uh huh.

And so we headed off to the zoo on Saturday evening in perfect weather. Arriving around sunset, we settled into our glamping accommodation – the large ‘tents’ have wooden floors, nice beds (with electric blankets) and two layers of zipped material doors to keep the pesky possums out. Over drinks and nibbles we had a close encounter with some new friends – including a snake, blue tongue lizard, leaf insect and a few others. And then after dinner, we went on a fantastic night tour of the zoo, when a lot of the boring daytime animals become very active creatures indeed.

Our new lizard friend. Did you know that lizards have ears and snakes do not?

Our new lizard friend. Did you know that lizards have ears and snakes do not?

LG makes a new pal - the Children's Python (named after a guy called Children, not because it eats kids...apparently)...

LG makes a new pal – the Children’s Python (named after a guy called Children, not because it eats kids…apparently)…

Overnight, we heard some roaring and some snoring (not from within our tent, I swear) and then it was an early start for breakfast before heading off for more behind-the-scenes interactions. Feeding the tall and frankly bizarre-looking giraffes their carrot breakfast was an incredible experience – some people even got a bit of a slurp from their loooong blue tongues. And then a close-up look (while staying dry) at the leopard seal being trained – amazing stuff. After that, we said goodbye to our new friends (humans and animals) and then spent the morning wandering around the zoo.

She looks lovely, but we were grateful for the extra thick glass between us, just in case...

She looks lovely, but we were grateful for the extra thick glass between us, just in case…

Yeah, yeah, hello everyone. Now hand over our breakfast.

Yeah, yeah, hello everyone. Now hand over our breakfast.

Hello, possum.

Hello, possum.

A tortoise (I think). Shows its age through the rings on its shell, like the rings on a tree trunk. Just in case you were wondering...

A tortoise (I think). Shows its age through the rings on its shell, like the rings on a tree trunk, apparently.

Up close and personal with the amazing leopard seal.

Up close and personal with the amazing leopard seal.

Show-off.

A beautiful show-off.

One of the highlights (which I wish I could’ve captured better, but it was actually pretty scary at the time) happened when we were checking out the chimps on our early morning tour. The guide was telling us about the male boss chimp and, right on cue, he came to the front of the enclosure (you can hear her in the video advising not to make eye contact). He was right up at the glass and started tapping on the ground in front of us. The guide suggested that we could tap back at him.

And then he went a little bit nuts and hurled his large self at full pace right up against the glass and ran towards us. Thankfully, the $10k per pane extra-thick glass did its thing – but it definitely woke us up first thing in the morning!

I really can’t recommend this experience highly enough – for adults and kids alike – especially as a great gift idea for visitors or people who might be tricky to buy for around Christmas-time… If you’re interested (and you really should be, according to LG, her sisters and me), you can find out more at the Roar and Snore website here.

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Friday Foto – At the zoo

This week, with some Irish friends visiting for the rugby and a burst of some incredible springtime weather, we spent a lovely day at Taronga Zoo. Definitely one of my favourite spots in town and quite appropriate for the Lions fans.

Anyways, no pics of the animals today – but the tree trunk that I saw in the reptile exhibit. I was so taken with it, I almost didn’t notice the giant boa constrictor that I was meant to be checking out.

So here it is – the Taronga Zoo Tree Shark…

20130705-104315.jpg
Oh and some large toy animals in the Zoo shop wearing booties. Just because.

20130705-105935.jpg
Have a great weekend!

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A day at the Zoo

I love the zoo. I especially love our zoo, Taronga, here in Sydney. I know that zoos aren’t universally popular or politically correct, but I know enough about Taronga to know that they’re making a huge effort to make the animals’ zoo lives as interesting, healthy and fun as possible – and same goes for the visitors. And behind the scenes, they raise a lot of cash for important conservation work and run many important breeding programs.

(As an aside, they also run the incredible Roar & Snore program, with an overnight stay at the Zoo – glamping all the way – and several amazing behind-the-scenes tours with keepers. I’ve been twice and can’t recommend it highly enough if you’re looking for a unique gift or Sydney experience.) Here’s a pic of the set up from the Roar & Snore site, in case you don’t believe me!

Uh huh.

Uh huh.

Anyways, it was a lovely sunny day in Sydney yesterday, so I took myself off for a trip to the Zoo. Along with a lot of other people in Sydney, it seemed. It’s not an old-school zoo, so it doesn’t feel like you’re visiting the animals in jail – although judging by the many fools who climbed into the kangaroos’ area, some sort of electric shock system for idiot visitors might be in order. (I did wait around for a bit to see if the larger kangaroos might take matters into their own hands and kick the people out – literally – but they were very patient and polite hosts.)

Here are some pics from my day at the Zoo – if you haven’t been, or if you haven’t been for a while, then I reckon it’s definitely worth a visit on a sunny day!

Such a poser - this Rhinoceros Iguana was really working it for the camera. Or the sun.

Such a poser – this Rhinoceros Iguana was really working it for the camera. Or the sun.

It's a bit blurry, but I like to think this Lawson's Bearded Dragon was trying to lead his mates in a daring escape attempt.

It’s a bit blurry, but I like to think this Lawson’s Bearded Dragon was trying to lead his mates in a daring escape attempt.

And this is the brilliantly named FIERCE SNAKE. The most venemous land snake in the world, apparently, so he definitely lives up to his name.

And this is the brilliantly named FIERCE SNAKE. The most venomous land snake in the world, apparently, so he definitely lives up to his name. And the venom in one bite can kill 200,000 mice, so they say. Hope that’s toughened glass right there. 

Here are two Red Bellied Black Snakes getting close. And they don't have a rainbow scale pattern, that's a reflection from the glass, sorry!

Here are two Red Bellied Black Snakes getting close. And they don’t have a rainbow scale pattern, that’s a reflection from the glass, sorry! As is the creepy giant hand in the top right corner. 

I like this photo because the Short Necked Turtle was coming right at me. Also because he sort of looks to be wearing a little girl's shoe.

I like this photo because the Short Necked Turtle was coming right at me. Also because he looks to be wearing a little girl’s shoe.

Now that's a meal with a view, lucky giraffe.

Now that’s a meal with a bzillion dollar harbour view, lucky giraffe.

Some days, I feel the same, Chimps.

Some days, I feel just the same, Chimps.

Where the Chimpanzee enclosure meets the Human enclosure.

Where the Chimpanzee enclosure meets the Human enclosure.

 

The old elephant enclosure - they've moved out, but it's still a beautiful building.

The old elephant enclosure – they’ve moved out, but it’s still a beautiful building.

 

A Zoo with a View.

A Zoo with a View.

Just some of the crowd at the Zoo.

Just some of the crowd at the Zoo.

If you’re interested, you can check out the Taronga Zoo website here and the Roar & Snore info is here.

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A Skateboarding Dog in Central Park

Because, why not? My cousin in New York sent me this video, recorded by a friend of hers in Central Park a few evenings ago. Look at how many people are happy and excited about this spectacle – there just aren’t enough skateboarding dogs in this world, I tell you.

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Taxidermy with a difference

A recent sale at Fab.com shared the work of C.G.Sparks (no relation) with the caption ‘artful animal-free taxidermy’. A niche market, to be sure. But I do like these wall trophies, celebrating someone’s skill with recycled rope and creative accessories rather than someone’s skill with a powerful weapon aimed at an animal just chillaxing in the woods. And although I’ve not yet seen a bear or lion or elephant in the wild, I’m tipping these ropey versions come in much cooler colours.

The C.G. Sparks version of a deer.  [image from fab.com]

The deer, according to C.G. Sparks.
[image from fab.com]

The mountain lion. Still scary, even in rope form. [image from fab.com]

The mountain lion. Still scary, even in rope form.
[image from fab.com]

Say what? Nah, it's not ivory - it's 'medium density fibreboard'. Phew. [image from fab.com]

Say what? Nah, it’s not ivory – it’s ‘medium density fibreboard’. Phew.
[image from fab.com]

You can check out other cool things via the curated sales at fab.com here – and although I can’t find these taxidermy friends on the C.G. Sparks website, they do have lots of other pretty great stuff (they call it ‘furniture with soul’) for your home here.

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Who you gonna call, possum?

The other day, I was driving behind a truck featuring a business name that caught my eye. Then I pulled up a little closer and saw the logo. Genius.

Who you gonna call?

Who you gonna call?

A classic Australian problem – our kiwi cousins do have possums, of course, but seemingly they are not obliged to treat them like small furry gods, they can turn them into mittens and scarves and winter coats without any social (or legal) stigma. Still, I guess the sounds of possums in the trees and the roof are part of living in an Australian house – pests they may be, but they’re our pests.

Anyways, the Possum Busters website does not disappoint. They are clearly very passionate about the work that they do – offering humane possum removal and even a free possum advice hotline. I bet they get some hilarious calls. There’s a page of FAQs, which are all very interesting, starting with the following warning as an answer to what I’m tipping is the most Frequently Asked Question by residents who haven’t slept for weeks due to their possum terrorist:

Q. Do you / can you / can I kill the possum?
A. No, it is against the law. They are a protected species.

And then there’s this fun fact about possums, which is why the Busters also offer a roof repair service and a 12 month guarantee once they remove a possum from your home:

Q. Can you take the possum away?
A. No, we can only remove it 25m from where we catch it. It is a territorial animal and will die if taken out side of its territory.

25 metres isn’t actually that far, is it? In most suburban areas, it’s probably only a couple of houses down the street, which presumably means that the Busters will get a call from Bill & Betty at number 15 a couple of weeks after the possum problem has shifted from your place to theirs.

Anyways, the website is worth a look if you’re interested in finding out more about this unique service – they also have a gallery of pics of possums they’ve discovered in cupboards, baths (imagine!) and roof cavities. The website is here.

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Like herding cats…

This morning at work was one of those mornings, when you know it would have been better for everyone if you’d just stayed at home in bed. After a particularly annoying email, as I tipped my head back and released a silent scream, I was reminded of a You Tube clip that someone had sent me years ago. The term was used a lot when working in professional services HR, but could apply to pretty much any workplace/looking after kids/organising an event/managing home renovations: “This is sooooo hard, it’s like herding cats”. I’ve always felt it was a powerful image to sum up that point of utter frustration and despair, when people just would not agree or fall in to line. Here’s the video that still makes me laugh every time I see it – I think it was released as one of those magical SuperBowl ads, back in 2009. Enjoy!

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