everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

Pass the salt

Most of us have salt and pepper shakers stashed away somewhere in our cupboards, which we bring out for special occasions or visits from in-laws. Some are pretty fancy – motorised pepper grinders made by car manufacturers, expensive salt shakers that light up (in case you were dining in the dark), hand carved wooden pairs, or stainless steel pieces that could be mistaken for modern art sculptures. But I say boo to your fancy salt and pepper shakers that are too good to use every day. Here are some inspiring salt and pepper shakers that will have you seasoning everything from your breakfast to your milkshakes, just to give you an excuse to get out these beauties…

First, baby legs. Yes, that’s right – these ceramic baby legs are actually salt and pepper shakers. Apparently, they are guaranteed to be the talk of your baby shower party table, but I say don’t stop there – these babies should be out and about at every opportunity. Sprinkle salt on your potatoes with the baby’s left foot, and a little pepper for your steak with the baby’s right foot. And when the legs are running low, just remove the stoppers in the baby’s thighs and fill ’em up! Or if you’d prefer, there are ceramic baby hands salt and pepper shakers in the collection. Maybe just buy both and complete the set with a ceramic doll to store your dried herbs? Creepy.

Continuing on the baby theme, here are Baby Puddin’ heads, which also take care of your salt and pepper needs. I am not sure that you could keep any of these on the table during dinner without scaring your guests. But then, I don’t really know your friends that well, perhaps they already have these in their kitchen! These are all from the Modern fx store on etsy, along with some other perculiar salt and pepper shakers – featuring Colonel Sanders of KFC fame, JFK and Jesus. But I’ll leave you to look for those if they sound like your thing.

These two ladies are apparently a darling set of vintage Holt Howard salt and pepper shakers from the “Daisy ‘Dorables” line. They are a pair of blonde pony-tailed girls holding large daisy flowers in front of their faces. Maybe it’s just me, but I think they’re a bit shifty looking. And I would be worried that they’re sitting on the table, listening to all the conversations and gossiping about us behind their giant daisies. You can check them out at Gizmo & HooHa, the vintage emporium.

I prefer these cute little guys from SuperRetroChic – they look like something out of Super Mario Bros and would definitely brighten up the table, without freaking out your dinner companions. Unless, of course, you are dining with Super Mario and Luigi, in which case, they will probably try to smash these with a hammer or something.

But now, to finish with my favourites – vintage Mr Peanut salt and pepper shakers. They’re not in perfect condition, but they make me laugh. And if they can still dispense salt and pepper after all this time, with their top hats and canes, I say these will add a touch of class to any home. Ye olde peanuts are available from Olde Tyme Memories on etsy.

Who knew there could be so much variety in the world of salt and pepper shakers? Not me. But I may well start collectin’. And with 110 pages of them on etsy, you mightn’t have heard the last of these table toppers…

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What’s that smell?

They say that our sense of smell is a powerful thing. That one whiff of something can take us back to a place in our memory – good or bad – and make us feel as though we are there again, living it. But if that’s all too deep and meaningful for you, then I’m sure you will at least agree that nice smells are good.

If you like nice smells, you’ll like this collection from the Long Winter Soap Co. Amanda sells her collection of lip balms and perfume oils on etsy. And they’re not your usual run-of-the-mill fragrances – I’d call these perfumes with personality. They’re a little bit different. Like Beach Day, which Amanda says is “a crazy delicious blend of sea breezes (the clean, blue-green kind, not the fishy kind) and sweet buttery coconut.”

And there’s Sunset. For Amanda, that “comes after a hot late summer day, and is accompanied by the cooling of baked earth, the frantic buzz of bees collecting newly released nectar before nightfall, the dampness of moisture settling on soil, and that cup of chai I instinctively reach for. In scent terms, a blend of hay, white musk, beeswax, patchouli, and spiced chai.” Is it just me, or are Amanda’s product descriptions like poetry?

But in case it is just me and you’re not into this at all – here’s what first caught my eye: Unicorn Farts lip gloss. Yes, that’s right – “smells just exactly like real imaginary unicorn farts! Which smell like spearmint and pink cotton candy, everybody knows that.”

One more for the road – just because it sounds too lovely to leave out: the Blue Skies hand and body cream. Blue skies? “The result is super fresh, like running under a clothesline on a sunny day.” Love your work, Amanda of Long Winter Farm!

For all these beauties and more, you can check out Amanda’s fabulous etsy shop here.

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Just add sprinkles

I am not embarrassed to say that I like sprinkles. I am not sure of the chemical process involved, but somehow, adding brightly coloured bits of sugar to your ice cream, cake, cappucino froth, or even just a piece of bread and butter turns it from ho-hum into an exciting party.

Which is why I was so pleased to find these sprinkle covered heels on etsy. Made by the clever people at MerloDesigns in the USA, these sweet shoes will liven up any outfit. But you probably shouldn’t wear them out on the town in the rain, just to be on the safe side. Although apparently, “the candy is 100% real, but 100% inedible! That’s right, these little guys have been glued and sealed to keep ants, mice, and other curious critters off your toes!” See, pretty and practical! You can check them out here.

Or there’s this fabulous rainbow resin bangle made by Nicola Williams in the UK – available from her etsy shop Made By Daisy here. Handmade to order, this beauty would make a great gift for any lass – although it will probably prove endlessly frustrating to hungry toddlers.

For summertime fun, you might like this 100s and 1000s giant inflatable Havaianas thong. Once you’ve blown it up, it’s 1.65m long and 65cm wide. Apparently it comes with a matching carry case. Surely it’s gotta be worth buying a pair, if only to scare other people at the beach or pool into thinking there are giants around. They are available at the Havaianas website.

Or for a slightly different take on art, here’s a piece by Joel Brochu – a recreation of a photograph of a dog getting washed. A recreation MADE OF SPRINKLES. Yep, for a Fine Arts project at university, Joel used jewellery tweezers to place each of the 221,184 sprinkles to form the image. Incredible. You can read more about this amazing artwork at My Modern Met.

And now, I’m off to make some fairy bread, with extra sprinkles.

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Something Fishy

Have you ever had a fish as a pet and thought, gee, you’re lazy? Or have you imagined your fish being capable of so much more than just swimming ’round and ’round the bowl, with the occasional detour through the fake castle or the fake volcano? Well, check this out. I first saw it on Fab.com – it’s the R2 Fish School: the complete kit to teach your fish amazing tricks. Uh huh.

Your Fish School kit comes with an instructional DVD, over 20 training bits, feeding wand and an instructional manual. Crikey, sounds complicated. But it would be worth it to see your fish performing cool feats to impress your family and friends. Wouldn’t it?

Apparently Dr Dean and his son Kyle developed this idea while they pursued their peculiar hobby of training fish to perform tricks. Yes, really. They found out that fish are smarter than we think, so they got in cahoots with the good people of R2 Solutions and – hey presto, the Fish School was born.

According to the Fish School website, “it is easy and fun to teach your pet fish to swim through hoops and tunnels, do the limbo, eat from your hand – even play soccer!” And if you want proof, the website has video footage of “Fish School graduates” doing their thing. Just don’t expect them to be wearing little fish caps and gowns.

They also have a web cam on poor Comet, a goldfish that is currently in training. Not for the fish Olympics, but to beat the current world champ of fishy tricks (yes, there’s a Guinness World Record for it) – Albert the goldfish, who has even appeared in a TV commercial.

For more info, you can check out Dr Dean’s Fish School website, or buy the kit for your fishy friend from R2 Solutions here.

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Gimme shelter

I had thought that the Samurai umbrella that I wrote about a while back (here, if you missed it) was the last word in umbrellas. Little did I know, there is a large umbrella industry across the globe, innovating and improving on what I would have mistakenly presumed to be a pretty standard design. At the risk of making a mockery of your humble floral number with its slightly bent spokes and unpredictable function, I present to you some whiz bang umbrellas from the good people at Hammacher Schlemmer.

Firstly, the English Umbrella Seat. Because we all know that English people like to sit on their umbrellas. No, really, it is allegedly modelled on “the ‘seat sticks’ traditionally used in England for watching cricket matches”. Quite. But why sit on a boring old stick when you can sit on an umbrella? My thoughts exactly – though I am sure you will agree it would look much funnier if this lady had a longer coat covering the seat. I am not sure that Lady Shrimp-Cattington and the croquet crowd are quite ready for the sight of ladies who appear to be staked in the ground…

Or perhaps you prefer to use your umbrella as a parasol to protect you from the sun’s wrinkling rays. If only there were such a thing as an umbrella that could shield you from the UV attack and keep you cool, without the hassle of having to wave a delicate paper fan…Fear not, delicate petal, here is an umbrella WITH AN IN-BUILT FAN. Battery operated, the fan is captured in a net, so there’s no need to worry about it going rogue and whipping your hair into a beehive.

Then there’s this tribute to Manhattan, in umbrella form. The outside is plain black, so to the world you might just appear to be another drone with a business umbrella – but on the inside, your secret New York cityscape reminds you that you’re really Carrie Bradshaw or Frank Sinatra or someone from Law & Order. Just don’t get so carried away belting out “Start spreading the news…” that you forget where you are and crash into other pedestrians. Or a bus.

And lastly, but not leastly, here’s a familiar image of an old lady under a plastic dome. The umbrella itself is of course old news, but I include it because I want to support this lady, who seemingly makes money by frocking up in brightly coloured suits and matching hats, donning some pearls and impersonating the Queen. Even if it is only to advertise an umbrella. Looking good, ma’am.

You can stay out of the rain while checking out these umbrellas and lots of other cool things online at Hammecher Schlemmer.

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Fakin’ bacon

I am not a huge fan of bacon. I like the idea of it, and can sometimes be swept up in brunchtime euphoria and order it, only to be reminded on its arrival that I don’t actually like to eat it. Unless there is no fat and – no offence, pigs – but there always seems to be fat. Now, I have always known that I’m one of the few people (outside the vegan/vego community) who doesn’t like bacon, but until recently I didn’t know about the whole industry devoted to bacon lovers. Not just food products either – oh no, there are accessories, scented stationery and a whole heap of other crazy bacon-inspired things…

For only $5, you can buy these bacon flavoured toothpicks. Whether you are inspired by Joel Madden or some other cool dude who chews away on a ‘pick, apparently “if you love bacon, you won’t be able to live without these scrumptious, bacon flavored toothpicks!” EverydaySparks is here to save your life, bacon fan. Even though I think they sound like a crazy idea, I do like the tin that houses the 80 toothpicks – Sir Oinkery Porkinson, with his monocle and cane. But with no shoes to cover his trotters (I mean hooves).

Then there is this bacon wallet. Which is not really made of bacon, but of faux leather. For that little bit of Lady Gaga in all of us, without the worry of being followed around by all of the neighbourhood dogs.

Or maybe you feel like your bacon fix is limited to the kitchen and you really want to bring your love of bacon to your bathroom. No, not bacon scented air freshener (although I am sure you can get it somewhere), but bacon soap, toothpaste and dental floss. Uh huh.

If you or someone you know is a fan of fakin’ bacon, you can check out the whole category of stuff for sale at Fred Flare here.

(They also have bacon salt, popcorn and – two products that almost made me cry – bacon flavoured chocolate and a bacon & choc-chip pancake mix. Oh, the horror.)

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Geek up your jewellery collection

A short while ago, I posted on the phenomenon of ear cuffs, which were fashion news to me. Then as I was browsing through the Think Geek online store (uh huh), I saw it: the Dragon Ear Wrap. Let’s be clear, the Dragon is to the standard ear cuffs what the Kardashians are to the Brady Bunch – bigger, more outrageous and a whole lot crazier. And don’t worry, the Dragon just looks as though it is permanently attached – it really clips to the top of your ear and then you wear the tail like a normal earring. Yes, just like a normal earring.

Or perhaps a scrolling LED belt buckle is more your style. It can store up to five messages, so you might want to pre-program it for a night out on the town and then you won’t have to worry about shouting over that pesky loud music – just point down to your buckle and let your belt do the talking.

For the old school geek, there’s a sundial ring. Apparently it works – although why you wouldn’t wear a watch or check your phone is beyond me. It seems very complicated and presumably much time passes you by as you fiddle with the dial to calculate the time of day. And what if it’s a cloudy day? Or you want to know how long to wait ’til the last bus home in the evening? You’ve been warned, my friends.

Or for less than $20, you could go back to a time when the concept of a wearable device that told the time and could add up the cost of your comics and lollies was MINDBLOWING. Yes, the Casio calculator watch is back and is sure to wow the kids of today. Or at least confuse them even more about that mythical time before iphones and Wiis.

If you would like to check out more geeky gear, then Think Geek is the place for you. There’s a lot there that goes way over my head, but if you’re down with maths and computers, or even if you just like weird stuff, it’s worth a look!

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Man Candles

Yes, you read that right – Man Candles. As the name suggests, they’re candles for men. Some clever marketer saw a gap in the market for scented candles which, let’s face it, are largely bought by women for women (or sometimes by clueless men for disappointed women, as a mistakenly ‘fail-safe’ kinda gift). So the Yankee Candle company in the USA has made a special range of four scented candles for American men.

First in the range is Riding Mower(TM). This large jar candle provides at least 110 hours of “Hot sun. Cool breeze. And the intensely summery scent of freshly cut grass.” Oh yeah.

Then there’s the 2 x 4″ (TM) Man Candle, featuring “the warm, unmistakable scent of freshly planed wood and sawdust”, which apparently “evokes a sense of confidence and quality.” I’m not sure how you can burn 2 x 4″ without it smelling like the furniture in your house is on fire, but clearly the Man Candles aren’t designed for me.
Man Town(TM) promises an “escape to the man cave with this masculine blend of spices, woods and musk.” I’m not sure that man caves are meant to feature scented candles, although I guess Man Candles are ok.

And last, but not least, there’s First Down (TM). As in, American football. In a very ambitious promise, the people at Yankee Candles say it’s “Game on! This combination of orange, patchouli, vetiver and leather is as exciting as game day.” I find that very hard to believe – if you had this candle in one hand and two tickets to the Superbowl in the other hand, the man in your life would say, “Oh, thanks honey, but I’ll take the candle – it’ll be just as exciting as game day!”

An interesting idea, the Man Candle. If you’d like to check out this range or the other candles from Yankee Candle Company – makers of “America’s best loved candle” – their website is here.
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Confession: I love Eurovision.

If you have read this blog before, it probably won’t come as a surprise to you that I love the annual Eurovision song contest. That’s right, let me say it again – loud and proud: I LOVE EUROVISION! It’s not cool, I know, but I have been a fan since I first saw it and couldn’t quite work out whether it was real. It is real. And it is spectacular.

When you’re all the way on the other side of the world here in Australia, it can be tough to keep up with current European trends – you know, fashion, music, makeup, design etc. And if you watched the Eurovision song contest, I think it’s safe to say that you would form a very strange impression of many of our European cousins, indeed. With costumes and performers and music that often seem like they’re from another planet, nevermind another continent, the contest brings together many countries from Europe to share their particular sort of ‘special’ with the world. And whether they’re singing in their native tongue or in that kooky language of English, it’s often tricky to work out what they’re singing. Which is usually for the best. But the common language is cheesy ballads or techno dance beats, daring costumes, big hair and big smiles.

This year, the 57th annual Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Baku, in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan. It’s the home country of last year’s winners – Eldar & Nigar (or Ell & Nikki, as they were rebadged), who won the contest with their captivating duet, “Running Scared”. It featured a lot of arm-waving dancers in white. But that was last year – this year in Baku, the theme is Light Your Fire and the two semi-final shows are on this week, with the grand final on Saturday 26 May. There are 43 countries on display this week in the Baku Crystal Hall and I strongly suggest you check out the Eurovision website to share the magic. There are plenty of photos and videos. But in the meantime, here are some of my highlights:

The lady representing Greece is singing a song called Aphrodisiac. I definitely hear her rhyme it with ‘maniac’, but I’m not sure what else.

These two chaps are representing Austria. They are rappers and call themselves Trackshittaz. Judging by their press photo, they are big with the laydeez of Austria. It is interesting to listen to rap in another language. Sounds kinda like a lot of angry swearing.

Then there is this lady representing Albania. She has a very powerful voice and a bird’s nest full of dreadlocks on her head. A force to be reckoned with.

Oh, and guess who’s representing the UK? 78 year old Engelbert Humperdinck. Uh huh.

Now, this is coming close to my favourite. It’s the entry from San Marino. And I’m not proud to say that I had to look that up to find out that it is also known as the Most Serene Republic of San Marino, located on the Italian peninsula, east of the Apennine Mountains. The population is just over 30,000 and I’m not sure what life is like in San Marino – but their entry in Eurovision is this young lady singing The Social Network Song. And in a rehearsal that I saw, she was using her laptop as a prop on stage.

Not to be outshone, Moldova’s entry looks a little like Colin Farrell.

And then there’s the Romanian entry. Their press photo gives you a pretty good idea of what they’re about. It’s an interesting number, with a foxy lady out the front of a 1980s band jumping around the stage – I think they are playing their instruments, and if so, the guy on the piano accordian should be complimented for his ability to dance around while keeping the music pumping.

For the first time, Ireland will be represented by the same act as last year – Jedward, the spikiest heads in the business. These two boys are like aliens from out of space with their crazy costumes and flammable hair-dos. They do have sweet voices, which will no doubt be tested as they cartwheel and back flip across the stage. Yes, really. I think they came 8th last year, which was a pretty good showing, so let’s hope that they can bring some joy to the Emerald Isle with a top 5 finish in Baku.

And now, the end (of this post) is near, so I’ll leave you with the intriguing entry from Georgia. Anri Jokhadze is the first male to represent Georgia in the Eurovision contest. And he’s singing his pop song, I’m a Joker. Yes, Anri, you’re a joker – I can tell by your press photo. But you’re so much more, according to the lyrics from your song, which include: I’m a joker; I’m a rocker; I’m a shocker; I’m a poker. Also, I’m a talker and straight-walker; I’m a broker, evil-blocker. Then, I’m a slaker, Trouble-breaker, Fortune-maker, Care-taker. And the song ends on a frightening note for all of the HR professionals in Georgia (and beyond): I’m just a womanizer, Let me be your supervisor. You’ve been warned.

If you’d like to find out more about this magical event, check out the official Eurovision website, which is where all of these official pics from the European Broadcasting Union were sourced. I’m excited!

Oh, and this guy is representing Slovakia. I do not know what he is singing.

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Carving up incr(edible) art.

Chef Jimmy Zhang is a genius. The founder of Art Chef Inc. graduated from the Culinary Arts Institute in China in 1989 and it’s fair to say he’s slightly obsessed with the ancient art of fruit and vegetable carving. After winning many championship titles in fruit carving competitions in China, in the late ’90s, Jimmy took his show on the road and brought his talents to California.

You can choose from private classes with Jimmy (by yourself, or with a group of knife wielding mates), a special intensive week-long course, or a general public course. Dinner parties and school lunch boxes will never be the same again as you learn how to carve up your own fruit and vegies at home.

There are different levels of classes and, to be honest, I expected the Level 1 class to maybe feature some of those apple spirals that are really tricky to cut (without using a machine). Or maybe a star cut into a potato. But no, this bouquet of flowers in a melon bowl is apparently what you can do in the Level 1 class. Uh huh.

The pics from the Level 2 class move to the animal kingdom, featuring a lot of birds and fish (and an incredible giant bloom in half a watermelon). Interestingly, the seahorses seem to be made of a fruit or vegetable that looks very much like cookies & cream icecream, which is something I’ve always dreamed of, but never managed to find. Hats off to you, Chef Jimmy!

And then there are the Level 3 classes, which, quite frankly, make the other classes look as though children had been mucking around on a primary school excursion. The slightly scary bright orange bird on a branch is surely made from the world’s largest carrot. And then there’s the intricately carved dragon. They should really just call the Level 3 classes the ShowOff classes and be done with it. Incredible stuff.

If you are inspired to start hacking into your own groceries, or if you’d like an awesome display for your next family dinner or client function, you might want to have a look at the amazing website of Art Chef Inc for more ideas. Bon appetit!

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