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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St Patrick’s Day Fashion

Now that I’ve given you some ideas on what to cook for St Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d share some suggestions about fashion choices for the day that’s in it. Not that you should limit yourself – most of these looks are versatile enough to carry you through any occasion, or even just a trip to buy groceries. In putting this ‘look book’ together, I have left out the vast majority of items on sale for St Patrick’s Day (lots of shirts featuring puns about being lucky or Irish or drunk or green or beer or leprechauns)…

If you’re looking for something understated that could easily transition from work to play, I suggest this ‘tuxedo style’ t-shirt from The Bee Tees. It is available in men’s, women’s and children’s sizes, so you could even kit out the whole family. If that is something that you want to do.

I especially like the detail of the pockets. The class of a tux with the convenience of a t-shirt. [image from The Bee Tees]

The class of a tux with the convenience of a t-shirt. I especially like the detail of the pockets.
[image from The Bee Tees]

This next item caught my eye on etsy because of its sparkle and its green-ness. Then I read the title and was shocked. Shocked, I tell you. Here’s the title: emerald green st patrick’s day shoe cake topper sugar edible glitter sparkley glass slipper. Now, I know that is a lot of detail to take in, but the main point is that THIS IS MADE OF SUGAR. If you have a chance, it’s worth checking out the amazing range of items in the Sweet Pea Sugar Art shop. (Technically, I guess this should have gone in yesterday’s food post.)

A (sugar) emerald slipper. Genius. [image from Sweet Pea Sugar Art]

A (sugar) emerald slipper. Genius.
[image from Sweet Pea Sugar Art]

I was looking for some fashion suggestions for the ladies, but unfortunately it would seem that most of the St Patrick’s Day ‘costumes’ for women are – how shall I put it – not in keeping with tradition. There are a lot of skimpy outfits such as ‘sexy leprechaun’ and ‘beer girl’ and ‘Irish lass’, but if that’s not your thing either, then perhaps you will consider these ‘neon green furry leg warmers’ I found on ebay.

Now THAT'S hot. [image from ebay]

Now THAT’S hot.
[image from ebay]

And we can’t forget the (real) little people on St Patrick’s Day. This ‘beard hat’ from By Miss Sally caught my eye because (a) it’s a great crocheted hat and (b) it’s being modelled by a child stuck in a big green pot. But mostly because it’s a great hat.

Just chillaxing. Nothing to see here. [image from By Miss Sally]

Just chillaxing. Nothing to see here.
[image from By Miss Sally]

Last, but not least, here’s a way to get your pet involved in the festivities. This dog hat will make sure that your pet is stylin’ it up on Monday (or whenever the mood strikes). I also feel like this dog is trying to communicate in this pic from Doggy Diva Boutique in the States. In fact, most of the photos displaying the shop’s wares are intriguing. But, I think that’s another post for another time.

Not sure this dog is feeling the luck of the Irish. [image from Doggy Diva Boutique]

Not sure this dog is really feeling the luck of the Irish.
[image from Doggy Diva Boutique]

Whatever you’re wearing, I wish you and yours a very happy St Patrick’s Day.

(Oh, and far be it from me to judge – if you really want to check out some of the costumes that I didn’t include here, or if you need more supplies for your celebrations, you can have a look on Amazon: Shop Amazon – St. Patricks Day – Shop books, costumes, party supplies, and more.)

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A Leprechaun Trap and other delicious stuff

As you may know, St Patrick’s Day is coming up on Monday. As a fan of Ireland and almost everything Irish (I’m sorry, Father Ted. I have tried, but I just do not like your show), I thought I would help you out with your preparations this week. I have gathered together some Oirish things that have caught my eye and today, the focus is food. You’re welcome.

First up, the incredible Leprechaun Trap Cake from Megan, who blogs a lot of very cool stuff (not just Oirish cakes) at Not Martha.

First up, attract your leprechaun with the lure of gold. [image from Not Martha]

1. Attract your leprechaun with the lure of gold (and help him out with a pretzel ladder).
[image from Not Martha]

2. Hide a pretzel trap under the gold, so the wee fella falls through. [image from Not Martha]

2. Hide a pretzel trap under the gold, so the wee fella falls through.
[image from Not Martha]

3. Enjoy the magical rainbow cake, with or without your leprechaun. [image from Not Martha]

3. Enjoy the magical rainbow cake, with or without your leprechaun.
[image from Not Martha]

Next, St Patrick’s Day Pancakes from the FashionPlaytes blog. Whilst they are not so quirky, they are very easy to make and I have never seen a batch quite so green…

Yikes. [image from Fashion Playtes]

Yikes.
[image from Fashion Playtes]

And of course I had to look on etsy, just in case. I found these disturbingly named Irish Car Bomb Cake Pops from the shop Bella Roca Cakes. I then discovered that (maybe you already knew this?) the Irish Car Bomb is a drink that was invented in an American bar – by dropping a shot of Baileys + Jameson whiskey into Guinness. And I just gave an involuntary shiver as I wrote that. According to Wikipedia, you have to drink it quickly so it doesn’t curdle. Or you could just get these cake pops instead – they don’t curdle and they include chocolate.

Much nicer than the real thing.  [image from Bella Roca Cakes]

Much nicer than the real thing.
[image from Bella Roca Cakes]

Last, but not least, in case you want to keep your o’snacking healthy – here’s a “pot of gold” for you. But I’ve got to say, I’m more likely to be your friend if you make the leprechaun trap cake than this vegetable combo (although I do like carrots and they are good for your eyes, apparently).

The serving suggestion is to place the "pot o' gold" at the end of a "rainbow" of vegetables, with a "cloud" of ranch dressing.  [image from Spoonful]

The serving suggestion is to place the “pot o’ gold” at the end of a “rainbow” of vegetables, with a “cloud” of ranch dressing. To be sure, to be sure.
[image from Spoonful]

Bon appétit! Or, as they say in Ireland, bon appétit!

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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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Hello, Dolly

Sometimes I get lost in the great online marketplace that is etsy. An email link here leads to something else there and before you know it, I’ve found this shop called Josmund from Oregon in the US of A. Josmund’s tag line is ‘miniature madness and funky finds‘ – I’d also add disturbing dollies and possibly crazy crap, but I appreciate that doesn’t necessarily have the same broad marketing appeal. Nonetheless, I wanted to share some of the madness and finds from this little etsy treasure trove with you here. And the arrangement of the pieces in these photos has a definite artistic quality, I reckon.

"Set of 7 Barbie and same size doll heads"...I do not like the way that one in the middle is looking at us...

“Set of 7 Barbie and same size doll heads”…I really do not like the way that one in the middle is looking at us…

"Doll parts"...just look at those jazz hands...

“Doll parts”…just look at those jazz hands…

"8 individual Kelly and Tommy size doll shoes"...I don't know who Kelly and Tommy are, but presume they are one legged dolls...

“8 individual Kelly and Tommy size doll shoes”…I don’t know who Kelly and Tommy are, am only guessing that they are one legged dolls…

Uh huh. You can check out the Josmund shop on etsy here, if you dare.

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Well hello, kitty

I was trying to avoid another Valentine’s Day post, but then I came across this shop in a Valentine’s Day gift collection on etsy and thought it was just kooky enough to share with you. Who knows, but your Valentine may even have four legs – no judgement here, my friend. Or perhaps your furry pal has been invited to a fancy dress party, or has a job interview or an X-Factor audition coming up. Whatever the case may be, I am tipping that this place will be able to help.

Notso Kitty is the shop, stocked with accessories created by Wendy in Boston, USA. Wendy makes a range of festive hats, glasses and headbands. For cats. In case you don’t believe me, here are some photos – the models are Wendy’s cats, Fluffy and Notso Fluffy.

And even if you’re not in the market for cat-wear, it’s always a good idea to start the week with pictures of funny looking animals, right?

Glasses for your furry Valentine.

Glasses for your furry Valentine.

O'Kitty all ready for St Patrick's Day.

O’Kitty all ready for St Patrick’s Day.

Good ol' pumpkin head, ready for Halloween.

Good ol’ pumpkin head, ready for Halloween.

The cat in the (royal) hat.

The cat in the (royal) hat.

And I have nothing more to add. Inspired? You can check out Notso Kitty on etsy here.

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Special gift ideas for your Valentine

Now that the festive season is out of the way, it’s time to move on to the next exploitable holiday in the calendar – Valentine’s Day. Now let me just state for the record that, even though I don’t have a Valentine (waaa waaa), I still think that the idea of celebrating love and giving thoughtful trinkets is a fabulous thing. But, I fear that many poor saps get trapped by savvy marketers and become convinced that if you love someone, then this is the day you must step up and show them. Preferably on a grand scale and the more public the declaration of love, the better.

I do worry about those romantic fools, hoodwinked into spending too much money on questionable jewellery, giant I WUV U bears, scent-less roses that have magically tripled in price, dinner accompanied by the soothing sounds of the piano accordion. That sort of thing. Never fear though, I have scoured etsy and come up with some great gift ideas for your Valentine – gifts that won’t break the bank, cause offence or mis-spell love. You’re welcome.

Firstly, from Crafted Cookies, a pair of very cute sweet treats for Valentines. Or for police to give to criminals out on parole. Or for teachers to give the naughtiest kid in the class. Or for creepy Valentines-from-a-distance (I think the technical name is ‘peeping toms’) to give the object of their affection. It just works on so many levels.

I love you. So look out.

I love you. So look out.

I actually really like this next one, a cool necklace from A Charmed Impression. But I do have to question their chosen model in the promo pic, given its inclusion in the Valentine’s Day collection…(To be fair, Katie’s necklace does appear to feature an ‘S’ for Suri (I presume it’s not for Scientology, anyways) rather than a ‘T’ for Tom.)

Valentine Schmalentine says Joey from Dawson's Creek.

Valentine Schmalentine says Joey from Dawson’s Creek.

And another idea that I like, but question their photo choice for the Valentine’s Day collection, comes from Jubile Jewel. They are sterling silver initial earrings, which make a lovely romantic gift for your special someone. But could result in some mis-communication or a fight if your beloved happens to be called Fred Ulrich. Or Fanny Underwood.

Not quite the romantic sentiment you were after...

Maybe not quite the romantic sentiment you were after…

Another interesting gift for your sweetheart comes from Plantables & Paper. It’s a love letter kit, which apparently provides you with 50 small cards with a typed intro on each, to get your romantic sonnets flowing. Although this one in the picture does feel more like it’s leading you to put an expiry date on it. If that’s something that you want to convey, maybe Valentine’s Day isn’t quite the time to do it. But when the time is right, if you use this card, it will definitely seem like a smoother delivery of a much nicer message. Of course, I take no responsibility if that presumption turns out to be false and you sustain an injury.

15 February 2013. At least.

15 February 2013. At least.

And I couldn’t resist sharing this personalised ceramic mug from 39 Cups. Perfect for a Valentine who’s a bit of a geek or a word-nerd. And we all know there’s nothing AT ALL wrong with that. It’s a word search, hand-painted onto a mug, with four words circled – your Valentine’s name, plus three words that describe them. Please note that each of the three descriptive words has to be 10 letters or less though, so it’s too bad if your man is really multi-faceted, or your lady is simply extraordinary. 

This mug appears to be for Ashley - a sexy & stylish skater. Uh huh.

This mug appears to be for Ashley – a sexy & stylish skater. Uh huh.

Well, that’s plenty of Valentine’s Day fodder for you right there, so I’ll stop now. But I do reserve the right to publish some more pre-Valentine’s Day posts if I discover other gifts for your consideration. Or if you find any true gems that I can share, please email me!

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Countdown to Thanksgiving

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m very lucky to be heading over to New York this week to catch up with our American family. I’m especially excited about this trip because I’m also visiting Boston (where I’ve never been before) and I’ll be with our family for Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving – we celebrate it with our family here and it’s got all the trimmings of Christmas, but with none of the pressure of gifts or rushing to join other families. Just a great excuse to get together and eat too much turkey and stuffing and desserts. Brilliant. Although it’s generally pretty warm in Sydney in November, so I’m really looking forward to a northern hemisphere Thanksgiving – hopefully the turkey/stuffing/desserts program is the same, just with an open fire crackling instead of the hum of air conditioning.

And even though it’s not about gifts, I’ve bought some festive treats from Etsy – they’re little polymer reminders that we need to count our blessings and give thanks for the great things in our lives. Made by Amy Giacomelli of SkyeArt in Colorado, these are pumpkins with a message.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day crappy stuff – bills to pay, people getting sick, jobs wearing us down, people being freaking annoying, rainy days, late buses, difficult homework, shoe sales where size 7.5 always sells out too fast, neighbours who spy through the windows, cholesterol, car troubles, money troubles, boy/girl troubles…

So I’m hoping that these little pumpkins will sit there all year ’round as a reminder to stop and notice the good stuff. Like Sour Cherry Slurpees, family and friends, magpies who nest near your apartment but don’t attack you, solving cryptic crossword clues, funny work mates, ice cream on a hot day, smiles from strangers as you pass them on the street, gardenias blooming in the garden. Things like that.

Hope you can look around and find many things to give thanks for too – with or without the little pumpkins as reminders.

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EverydaySparks. Gangnam style.

I’m always amazed by how quickly the market can respond to trends. Not the stock market, but the market for clothing and accessories that are quickly produced and often sold cheaply to take advantage of something that’s very now. And since now can be so fleeting – yesterday’s “Team Aniston” t-shirt is tomorrow’s rag for dusting – I am in awe of people and companies who can produce trend-based products, getting in and out of the market before people move onto the next big thing.

And the current ‘big thing’ seems to be that South Korean rapper/dancer/jockey PSY and his song Gangnam Style. The song was released in July this year and it seems to be spreading around the world. And, like a fluffy koala that bites you, or a delicious apple with a worm in it, this song seems cute and innocent at first, but progresses quickly to SUPER ANNOYING on the richter scale. Yes, that is a measure on the richter scale.

I knew it had gone too far when I saw Australia’s Today show this morning – they crossed to a school playground full of little kids dancing around to Gangnam Style. On the face of it, I say good on them for dancing – getting away from their ipods and high sugar cereals and torturing passengers on public buses. But there’s something kinda creepy about 6 year olds shouting along to the song, “HEEEEY, SEX-Y LAY-DEEEEE” and making strange moves that must be mimicking the video clip. Still, I think most of the other words are in Korean, so I guess they can’t be blamed for going with what they know. Although I do like that one of the kids at my niece’s school has changed those words to, “Heeeey, steak and gra-vy”. Much more age appropriate, sonny.

Anyways, if you want to impress your friends and family with your very own Gangnam style, check out these finds from etsy – I couldn’t believe the range of options. But you’d better get in quick, as there’s probably an obscure rapper/dancer/jockey from a tiny village in Botswana putting the finishing touches on his latest dance hit and getting ready to launch it to the world…

Only $9.99 for this Gangnam Style bow tie from TessaROXX.

I feel like there is a giant “Keep Calm” factory out there somewhere, cranking the handle day & night to produce more “Keep Calm And…” products. This one is from appleholic.

For a trendy baby. Not sure what the deal is with the pearls though, but whatevs. This is from Sassy Kat Boutique.

And I just found this shop – Impressive Steps. You can customise flip flops with your own message, so that you can leave a trail of advertising, or messages of love, or just plain nonsense across the beach.

Taking it to the beach. Gangnam Style. From iStep.

And if you have no idea what this Gangnam Style is all about, here’s the You Tube clip that started all the madness. And fuelled an industry producing heaps of stuff with a very short shelf life. Which is surely another topic for another day…

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