When I was 10, I tried to start a stamp collection. I sent away to a stamp hunting club and recieved about 50 headstart stamps. I lovingly stuck them all into a precious stamp book then promptly forgot all about them. I was never much of a stamp collector. Probably because stamps didn't really do it for me. Well, can you blame me? They are kind of boring. When it comes to collecting, it pays to invest in something that you like, something that you are drawn to in a cosmic kind of way. That's just what Victoria Singh did when she started collecting mechanical wind up monkeys over 20 years ago! Her collection is currently on display at Te Papa as part of the Delectable Collectables exhibition.
What is your starsign?
I am a Virgo although I have been told that I am more easy going than most Virgos and not such a neat freak.
What do you usually have for breakfast?
I always start the day with a lovely cup of tea – and gluten free toast or muesli - but I had gluten free pancakes today!
What was the last book you didn't finish?
I started reading Junky by William Burroughs and for some reason never got to the end or even the middle!
So you have been collecting wind up mechanical monkeys for 20 years. Why did this collection start?
This collection started when I realised that I had more than five and still wanted more. I used to collect lots of vintage toys but my flat was becoming overtaken with them all, plus I was going overseas so I made a decision to stick to collecting one type of vintage toy and the monkeys won. I am glad I made that choice because I am born in year of the monkey (going back to starsigns!) and I like connection between the word monkey and a habit or addiction (as in “monkey on your back”) - I guess you could say I am a monkey junky!
Who was your first monkey?
It is a stuffed monkey with blinky eyes. It came from an op shop in Wellington. He is a bit floppy and has lost some stuffing.
Is the first one the most special to you? Or do you have another favourite? (Personally I love the bubble blowing guy. He is so clever!)
It is hard to think of my favourite. I love them all for different reasons. The bubble blowing monkey is very cool! I like the musical monkeys a lot- the guitar playing monkey is really amazing, he really plays the guitar he is holding you can see his hand strumming the strings. If you go to the video clip on YOU TUBE (below article) you will see him in action! I adore the wind up monkeys. Whoever designed them is an absolute genius! The movie Hugo comes to mind when I think about that. I really love the drinking monkey that you can see in the photo. He is pretty special. You wind him up and he fills his cup from the bottle then lifts the cup to his lips! GENIUS!
Do they all have different personalities?
Oh yes, most definitely. Some are super cute, others are a bit creepy and some are divine works of art. But no matter what, they are all 100% beautiful!
Where have they all come from? Have you collected some through travelling?
Some of the monkeys are gifts. Some are from my travels overseas and around NZ. It is always such an adrenalin rush to spot one in an antique store or op shop. Most of the thrill of collecting is the hunt!
Can you tell us a bit about the quality of your monkeys and the workmanship?
There is such a difference between the vintage monkeys and how they are made compared with new toys. The materials used and how they are constructed is superb. Anyone who loves vintage or antiques clothes or collectables will know what I mean. These old monkeys are beautiful, they have a quality that is lost in most of the plastic, disposable, soulless trash that kids are playing with today- it’s a bit sad really!
How old you think your oldest monkey is?
Hmmm…I think some of my monkeys by a famous label Schuco are over 70. They are truly gorgeous - the details have a wonderful art deco feel and they have fabulous keys that wind them up.
How did you come to showcase your monkey collection at Te Papa?
I was looking at all my monkeys one day and thought, “My god, my house looks like a monkey museum!” Then I thought it would be really cool if others could see them. I contacted Te Papa and told them about my collection. They were thrilled to have them on loan as part of their Delectable Collectables show.
Would you ever sell your monkeys? Or would that be like selling your children?
Maybe - isn’t there a saying that everything is for sale and that everything has its price?? This would never apply to my children though!
How have the public/other people reacted to your monkeys? Any negative feedback? Has anyone been scared of them? (The wind up monkey in Toy Story being portrayed as a villain can't have helped!)
The feedback I have heard about the monkeys has been really great. Everyone thinks they are really cool. I feel so proud! I am sure that there have been some that are scared of them- the Toy Story monkey can be pretty frightening! Look at his teeth and those bulging eyes- it’s the stuff of childrens nightmares!
Do you have any other collections?
Blush…blush… embarrassing to admit- but there are groups of things around my house that could easily qualify!
Are you a hoarder?
Yes - also embarrassing to admit. I try to purge things but sometimes I end up regretting it . I really hate clutter but I am a magnet for cool stuff- it just finds its way into my heart and into my home!
What do you do for a living?
I am a kindergarten teacher and an artist. But most of my living comes from teaching.
What do you do (other than collecting) to nurture your creative side?
I love making art. I recently received a grant from Creative New Zealand to do a public performance art work that will be in Wellington really soon. If you are interested check out the website for it at: www.waitingroom.info
So how for much longer can we see your amazing monkey collection at Te Papa?
They are only there until the end of February. Then they come back home.
Thanks Victoria! Check out the You Tube clip below.
I know for the Australians of this world, Big Brother is well and truly over but for us New Zealanders it is still going and I am hooked. Big Brother is a regular daily fixture in our house and we have our favourite characters - Ben and Tim and we also quite like Mikayla.
The funny thing is that when I talk to people about this fascinating show their reaction is normally "Oh, Big Brother - so stupid."
I think these people are crazy and here is why I like Big Brother:
It is an extremely interesting social experiment. The contestants are taken from the outside world to a relatively small space. They cannot have contact with the outside world. They do not know each other when the enter the house and their lives are ruled by the decisions Big Brother makes. There is no escape from the cameras or microphones - whatever the contestants do is monitored and recorded. There are even cameras in the toilet! The contestants world immediately becomes small and insular with only each other as their main form of entertainment.
Big Brother proves to me that people are very interesting creatures. As someone who has always been interested in people, their motivations, their souls, their personalities, their relationships and their conflicts, Big Brother is just the right show for me. Big Brother proves that people need other people. As the saying goes "No man is an Island". People couple off in the Big Brother house quite naturally. Two couples so far now share the same bed. Is this an innate need in human beings? The need to couple off?
The contestants are not allowed books, movies or the internet. They have to compete for their food budget and each week they nominate their fellow housemates. No one is safe in the house. They vote each other off. There are cliques that have formed. There are loyalties between people. Big Brother shows the good and bad sides of human nature - the things we love about people - their sense of humour and kindness and the things we hate about people - their bitchiness and manipulating.
I think being in the house would be a huge challenge and we have seen many tears. The topic of optimism and pessimism has come up regularly with both types of people in the house - Tully the pessimist and the Sugar Sisters the eternal optimists.
If you haven't ever seen Big Brother (where the hell have you been?), I highly recommend it but perhaps you need to start from the beginning and watch next year's one. I know I will be.
This article ends on a sad note. I am going to Australia in April to the Gold Coast. I have been on the Dream World website and sadly the Big Brother house will be closed by then to get ready for the 2014 show. Gutted. I really wanted to look inside it.
Purple. It’s the colour of gay and lesbian pride, the colour of grape flavoured bubble gum and also according to my 5 year old son, the colour of unicorn poo.
Right now I am sitting at the hair dressers getting my hair tinted a fetching shade of unicorn poo. It is bliss. For the next hour so, I will not be climbed on, nagged at, or bitten by anyone. I will not have to break up any fights or prevent two little boys from finding creative ways to kill themselves.
Nope, for the next hour or so I will do nothing. Except write this. And read. Magazines. Bad ones. Trashy, nasty, stupid ones. And I will love it. I will drink too much coffee so that I will be cranky when I get home. I will close my eyes as the lovely hairdresser listens to me bitching about how hard my life is as she massages my scalp to a pulp with her strong and cautious fingers.
Right now, it’s all about me. And why shouldn’t it be?
These days women do it all – And most of it is for other people. We work; we care for our kids/pets; we clean; we exercise; we read books then we attend book club; we are on the kindy/school/dog club committee, we bake or cook; we take our pets to the vet; we take our pets to daycare; we get the car serviced; we get the tap in bathroom fixed; we wax our bits so that we may dare go swimming in public; we go to work meetings; we go to yoga so we will feel less stressed about all the stuff we have to do and we try in vain to do the thing we’d much rather do than our 9 – 5. But do we ever stop? God after all that, don’t we deserve to stop?
A lot of us women are suffering from Modern Martyr Syndrome. We are not happy about the fact that we do it all, but we still keep doing it all. It’s as if in some weird way we like going it hard. We like suffering, stressing, being in a state of physical and emotional exhaustive pain. Why? Is it better than having a ‘talk’ and potential argument with our husbands over the current duties roster? Are we afraid of confrontation? Afraid of what would happen if we dared slowed down. Afraid of the stress of an unwashed dish? If we don’t like doing it all, why don’t we delegate?
Instead a lot of us slave away silently without letting others know that we are miffed about it. Or we slave away not so silently. We make a big show of our suffering to get some attention. Thing is: nobody likes a martyr. People roll their eyes at a martyr but nobody offers to help a martyr. So if you want help you really just have to ask for it!
I know plenty of women who literally do it ALL. They go hard at the office then they do everything for the kids, everything round the house AND they cook dinner. I used to think that they liked it, but then eventually the truth came out. They don’t like doing it. The fact is that if they didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done. Why? Because their husbands are lazy. They’re milking it. Thing is, if you never throw your toys out of your cot and have a foot stamping tanty, the men of the world are never going to figure out that you are a pissed off matyr. Why? Because men are a little bit silly.
Personally I have it pretty good. My Lover-Man is very well behaved. He definitely does his share of the house jobs and all of his man jobs. But, as far as parenting goes I am the stay at home parent and that means that I do more of the parenting. Though I chose to stay home with the boys and we do have our fun, there are still times when I get resentful that the Lover-Man gets to have a career (I want one too!) It’s never easy to feel that you are missing out on something. But what is worse is when you don’t say how you feel and you just keep wallowing in your resentment. The Lover-Man and I definitely air our woes with each other. We regularly play a good game of ‘My Life is Harder than Your Life’: We state why our lives are much harder that the others, pitting against each other and slanting everything to sound way worse than it is. It's fun. By the end of it we are laughing and not mad or resentful anymore.
There have been times though, when I find myself doing a lot more for the boys than him (like organising their birthday parties all by myself). Times too where he complains if he is being "left" with them while I go out to run blog errands. It could go two ways at these times. I could say “Oh sorry dear, you’re right, my place is the kitchen” then bite down on my tongue while I mop the floor and wish for a more fulfilling life. Or I could say “Ah dude, they’re your kids too! I pushed ‘em both out without pain killers, the least you can do is some parenting!” I usually opt for something in the middle. That’s where I think things should be. In the middle. Fair's fair. Even Stevens. No martyr bullshit for me.
Speak your mind ladies, or you’ll never get what you want.
Most evenings at my house are pretty similar. I try to stay out of the house for as long as humanly possible, so my kids do not kill each other or smash the windows. Eventually though, I have to return home and attempt to sedate my children with T.V or other technology based bribes in order to cook some dinner. I then try almost futilely to chop veggies, season meat and prep salads whilst also screeching like an old sea harpy for my kids to stop pinching/biting/smacking/licking each other or the cat. It's 'Go Time' when Dad's van farts up the driveway. THANK GOD, I sigh. The boys scream with excitement and wait by the window for Dad to get his ass in the house. As do I.
When he is finally inside he greets us all. Patting heads and kissing lips. That's when it usually happens. He pulls open the fridge door and pulls out a nice cool refreshing bottle of Oranjeboom beer. I start salivating instantly. He looks at me, his eyebrows cocked in a "you want one?" expression. This is where I get to make a decision. Do I want some delicious tasty beer, which will refresh me and also take away the pain of the day? Or do I want a nice refreshing glass of sparkling ice water? Usually if it has been a hard day I will always choose beer without thinking. It's nice. It's tasty. It helps me relax. But some days I'm kinda on the fence. I know that the sparkling water has zero kilojoules so I know that is a better option. But how much better? How many kilojoules does beer have? I recall that alcohol is meant to be fattening but I can't remember how fattening. What if it is the same as a few bits of dark chocolate? Then jeez! If you look at it like that I would totally much rather have the sparkly water now and hold out for some chocolate later! Who wouldn't. But wait a minute! Where the hell is the nutritional info on this damn bottle? I'm looking and looking, but it's nowhere. I check the box quickly too but nothing. Damn. Annoying. Now I don't know. And I don't have time to Google it right now cus I'm cooking. Ah screw it! I'll just have some beer! And then maybe still have some chocolate later too, come to think of it. Sound familiar? I think a lot of us are guilty of this. But, is it really our fault? Why the hell isn't the nutritional info listed on alcoholic beverages? It is on EVERYTHING else! Can we really be blamed that our alcohol consumption is slowly rising over the years? As are our waist lines.
For a country with serious binge drinking issues amongst young women, and a rapidly increasing weight problem, why, oh why, do we not have the kilojoule content available on alcoholic beverages? It seems like an obvious first step situation doesn't it? It makes plenty of sense. If there is one thing that could actually make a young girl put down that alco-pop cocktail, it would be letting her know that her drink of choice is likely to make her into a fatty. Girls are vain. It is just a fact. We don't want to get fat because society keeps telling us how awful fat people are. It only seems logical that this weakness should be exploited for good. If the young girl could see that her vodka and redbull holds 879Kjs (209 cals), which is equivalent to a McDonalds small french fries, or if she knew that her long island iced tea, poured from a 'Captain Morgan's' pre-mixed bottle and cut with coke, housed around 3265Kjs (779 cals) per glass!!! (That's like drinking one and a half Big Macs!) Perhaps she would slow down a touch. Hell, if she knew that reducing her alcohol intake would help her to look hot in her Facebook photos, then I'm pretty sure she'd slow down!
What about that guy in his 20s, who used to be really fit but then discovered a fetish for garage craft beer? What if he knew that his two sneaky beers every weeknight, then at least 10 on each weekend night, were totally undoing his three one hour runs for the week. He probably thinks "yeah, so I drink a bit of beer, but surely those runs are taking care of it" The runs can only do so much when you are ingesting 15,072Kjs from drinks alone! Running for 60 minutes three times a week only burns 7,586kgs. He'd have to do another three one hour runs at least to just burn off the beer! All of this he could actually calculate himself if only it was on the freaking beer bottle.
Well what about me? If I could see quickly that my bottle of Oranjeboom beer with it's 887 kilojoules, is worth a few squares of my favoured dark chocolate, would l opt for the sparkling water? Maybe, maybe not. But it would be nice to make an educated decision.
One beer isn't really that bad. But what about the people out who can't stop at one?
It's not just about drinking though is it? New Zealand is quickly becoming one of the most overweight countries in the world (as well as one of the most boozy!). I mean come on! Two birds, one stone people!
This really makes me mad. The government spends so much time and money talking about raising the drinking age in New Zealand; so many arguments have been had about the alcohol trading hours; There have been countless debates about how to address the obesity epidemic that is causing all kinds of health issues in our aging society; but this small and simple step, that could greatly help reduce the amount of alcohol we consume has been completely overlooked.
Not only is the nutritional information missing but so too are the ingredients. So what are we drinking New Zealand?
Feel free to share your thoughts with us on Facebook.
The conversation arose when we were 14.
"What is douching?"
"I don't know but French women do it."
"Isn't it putting scent up your.....you know?"
This was a question that would plague me for many years. What is douching? Should I know what it is? Do other people know and not me?
Calling someone a 'Douche Bag' is an insult.
I have heard people (boys at high school) criticising the smell of other girls' vaginas (fishy). All this reaps such paranoia in a young woman's soul.
It was time to get to the bottom of the Douche Bag mystery.
First up, what is douching?
According to Wikipedia "Douching after sex is not an effective form of birth control" and " A douche bag is a device used to introduce a stream of water into the body for medical or hygienic reasons, or the stream of water itself."
There are many scary tales about douching...infections, messing up the PH of the vag, cervical cancer and ectopic pregnancies. I'm scared!!
The plot thickens....I went to a Yoga Retreat and it was as if the Majestic Universe Gods decided to give me an answer. Did you know that douching has been around for aaaaages? People used to use Cow stomachs as douche bags. Done correctly (this is very important - do not try at home without proper advice) douching can solve a variety of menstraution issues. It should be a gentle, calming tincture which doesn't deodorise but merely soothes. It can soothe many pubescent girls of hard periods by using a gentler form of bathing rather than full on douching (perhaps an alternative to the pill?)
The timing is key - something to do with the moon and your cycle. I wish I could remember things.
I went straight home and bought a Douche Bag off Trade Me (not used - incase you were thinking that). It sits alone at the bottom of a drawer. I still cannot pluck up the courage to do it. Rose water and warm water sound fabulous and I do have the odd bout of period pain but I keep forgetting at which time of the moon I am supposed to do it.
Picture this: A lovely family barbecue. Meat on the grill, salads on the table - every family member is invited. My lovely, beautiful wonderful daughter walks down the stairs holding something.
"Mum, what's this?"
"Ummm.....It's a Douche Bag..."
I remember that house,
That big old home,
Close to the beach.
Sheltered by trees,
The ones that grew summer fruits.
I remember that summer,
Spent with Papa.
Building a play hut at the bottom of the garden.
The bright white paint
That stained my hair,
Well into Autumn.
I remember the old rotten boat parked outside
Left by the suspicious former owners.
Full of old nic naks.
I remember the time,
I locked Cat Weasel in there,
And she almost died of thirst.
I remember that day,
Spent at the beach,
When I lost my new silver signet ring,
And went without dinner.
I remember that room,
At the back of the house,
That was always strangely locked
But one day blew open,
And Mama said “Ghosts!”
I remember that day,
When Cat Weasel got put into a box,
Along with the rest of the house,
Except for the walls and roof.
And we drove away,
Away from that house,
That big old home,
Close to the beach.
Lisette Prendergast 2003
I am a notoriously bad saver. Once, my parents made me save up for a whole year for my spending money to New Caledonia. I saved $17. Once, my husband and I tried to save for a house. We saved $0. Luckily, those were the days that you could get a mortgage with 0% deposit. When I was going for a trip to Vietnam with one of my besties, she opened the bank account in her name and I was unable to access it. She still had to put the flights and accommodation on her credit card since I am forbidden to have one.
Money flows through my hands like water. Every pay, I spend every single cent I have - without fail. But this year, I have changed. I am going to save. And it is all thanks to the internet and a wonderful little savings plan I found in the form of a spreadsheet. Something about it appealed to me. It sparked something inside of me and if I do it right by the end of 2014 I will have ONE THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY EIGHT DOLLARS!!!!
This may not sound like a lot to a seasoned saver but to me it is the equivalent of a million dollars. Wish me luck! And if you like, you can try it too. I got a cute little jar to put all my money in (also known as a money box).
I'm sorry. I apologise for the title of this blog post. I, like most level headed people out there, don't give a flying sod if Lorde has a boyfriend, let alone an Asian boyfriend. But what I do care about is the ridiculous amount of chitter-chatter on the twittersphere about said Asian boyfriend; the name calling and the disgustingly racist remarks that have been hurled their way. Therefore I decided that in order to attract the name calling douche bags to read what I have to say, then it is only logical to select a post title that is likely to pop up in the search results when said douche bags do their googling. So, hello there if you are one of the said googling douche bags!
The whole thing started when Lorde apparently called Justin Bieber and the boys of One Direction "ugly"; though there is actually no proof of this anywhere. Not even a whisper. So it is very likely that it never happened. But when photos of Lorde and her boyfriend (photographer James K Lowe) frolicking on the beach surfaced online, the beliebers and the 1D-ers went postal! Tweeting all kinds of awful comments about the fact that Lorde is dating an Asian guy. For some reason people could not get their heads around that fact that a famous songtress would select a beau that doesn't meet the mainstream guidelines of hotness. (Come on guys! This is Lorde we're talking about, she's not your mainstream kind of songstress!) It's as if there is an un-written rule that famous women may only date thick jawed, white guys with silky hair. How ridiculous. Personally, I think James is a cutie and the two look very sweet together.
But all ridiculousness aside, the most disturbing part was the barrage of hateful tweets that were released. It appears that even celebrities can be cyber bullied these days. Perhaps even more so that the average Joe.
Below are just a few of the awful things people deemed acceptable to tweet.
For starters, why is it so hard for people to see a white girl dating an Asian guy? If the roles were reversed and an Asian girl was dating a white guy would anyone be tweeting up a storm? For some reason Asian men are deemed to be unattractive enough for people to think it is acceptable to be openly racist towards them. But why? There are plenty of Asian men who are very attractive. I personally had a huge crush on James Iha from the Smashing Pumpkins when I was 13, so not everyone feel the same way as these Twitter haters.
Maybe Lorde does not select her friends or lovers just by face value. Perhaps she does not need a trophy man on her arm to take to award ceremonies. Perhaps she is a strong talented woman who doesn't need to date her way to the top. Maybe, just maybe, Lorde likes James for who he is, not just how he looks. Maybe she is attracted to him because he, like her, is talented and intelligent. Seriously, check out some of his amazing photography here and his blog here. Maybe in each other they have found a kindred creative spirit. Isn't that better than just having a hot piece of ass to look at?
Sure, we are all human. We can't control the snide remarks we may make silently inside the evil subconscious of our brains, but we can control whether we release those awful things into the world. Isn't the world a shitty enough place already? Why create more hatred? For goodness sake, if you can't tweet anything nice, don't tweet anything at all.
Is the internet to blame? Are people who would normally be too shy to say such things suddenly brave now, hidden behind their Twitter handles and laptop screens? Well whatever the reason, Lorde seems to have already told the haters where to go in advance lyrically. In her song 'A World Alone' from Pure Heroine released last year she sings: "Maybe the internet raised us, or maybe people are jerks". Quite fitting in this situation no?
It is our birthday!! We are one year old today. Wow! So much has happened in our first year of blogging, it's crazy to think it has only been a year!
It started on a summer walk. We were chatting about what we'd been writing and reading online when BOOM! We started a blog. By the end of that walk we'd come up with a name: Le Petite Mania; Our faux French epithet for 'trying to be a little fancy but kinda stuffing it up' which never fails to attract irate emails from French speakers who boast a grammar fetish!
Here are the highlights of our first year.....
We attended Wellington Fashion Week where we fell in love with heaps of kiwi designers!
The Zombie Beauty Pageant where Lisette was a competitor!
We interviewed some amazing New Zealand women
We tried lots of new beauty products and reviewed plenty of beauty treatments
We wrote about fashion
We went on a ghost hunt
Lisette tried to kill herself by attempting the Warrior Dash with zero training
We enjoyed making contacts with our favourite photographer, graphic designer and make-up artist
Then there was the experiment to see that if when we got drunk we were still sexy (we weren't)
Making music videos was fun
Getting rejected by Google Ads because our content is lewd and rude! (But still actually pretty hilarious!)
The amazing support we have had from all our advertisers and giveaway providers (see sidebar)
And of course, all of this lead to us publishing our first book about how creative kiwi women tick.
To celebrate the year that was, we are giving away a copy of our book: Lady Luck: Conversations With Creative New Zealand Women! What do you have to do to get your hands on your very own copy? Well, it's easy! All you need to do is like us on Facebook and share this blog post on your timeline (be sure to tag us in the status so we can see it!) and you are in the draw!
The lucky winner will be announced on Friday Feb 7th at 7pm.
What will 2014 bring?
Watch this space :)
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Lisette Prendé and Mariana Collette are BFFs. They met on their first day of high school and have been making each other laugh ever since.