Posted in Home sparks, Sparky gifts

Living large

I first came across Living Royal when they were on sale at Apparently, they started an online quirky gift shop in a Chicago basement and have now grown to sell clothes and other stuff (and they have moved out of the basement). Here are some of their wackier products, in case you are looking to add a little spark to your home or workplace, or you need a gift for a peculiar friend…

Love the smell of freshly toasted bread and wish you could take it everywhere with you? Well, you’re in luck – forget your old citrus or alpine scented air fresheners, here is one that smells like toast. Hang it up in your car, home or office and smell the toasty goodness. We all know it’s a fine line between ‘toasted’ and ‘burnt’, but I’m guessing the toast-chemicals in this product make it smell just right. Please note: EverydaySparks takes no responsibility for weight gain associated with the permanent state of hunger that you may encounter whilst smelling toast all day, every day.

Some people don’t like getting older or enjoying birthdays. Me, I say it’s infinitely better than the alternative (and by that, I mean either death or becoming Benjamin Button), so bring on the celebrations. But if someone in your life is sensitive to the number of candles on the cake, or wants to keep their age a bit more mysterious, or is a mad Latin scholar, then you might need these. Roman numeral birthday candles. Uh huh.

Cool kids made the phrase, “Talk to the hand’ popular a while ago – but what if the hand talked back? Sure, in this case it doesn’t say some witty retort like, “You ain’t all that” (is that even an appropriate response? It was in my memory bank somewhere from a Ricki Lake episode, I think). These hands just say YES or NO. Think of how much easier they could make your life – if you have children, or if you have annoying co-workers who keep interrupting, or if you have lost your voice, or if you need to subtly give direction in a meeting but you don’t want to speak up. If you’re cranky, you could just wear the NO glove and leave it at that. Or pick one at random as a social experiment to see how it shapes your day. Come to think of it, that’s not a bad idea – probably enough to get you a reality tv show, actually.

And this last one? Well, because it’s a unicorn mask, that’s why. And not even just a lame paper-fronted, elastic-tied kind of mask. This unicorn requires commitment, as you replace your human head with that of a mythical beast to delight your family and friends. The pose of the model in this pic makes me think of the fun you could have wearing this mask around town just doing everyday things – waiting in line at the supermarket, watching a football game, sitting at the bus stop, having a picnic in a park. And like those ‘experiments’ that the dodgy current affairs shows sometimes conduct (where they dress a foxy chick as a homeless person, or in a fat suit, or in dark glasses, to see if they get treated differently by passers-by), I wonder if people would be kind to UnicornMan?

Have you seen something here for yourself or someone you like? Or maybe something for someone you dislike? Whatever your motivation, you can find all this wacky goodness and more at the Living Royal online store here.

Posted in WWWhat?

Beware of the Dragon

It’s my birthday next month and according to traditional Chinese astrology, I am a Dragon. And a Fire Dragon, at that. Many people who have known me over the years will nod and agree that I can indeed be a bit of a dragon, so that seems to fit. I used to work with a Chinese guy who worked out my zodiac sign and said that a Fire Dragon is the sign that many Chinese parents would wish for in their child. I smiled proudly until he added, “if their child was a boy – it is not good luck at all for a girl”. Not much can be done about it now, I guess. Anyways, as 2012 is the Year of the Dragon in the traditional Chinese zodiac, I thought that would probably mean a cracker of a year for me. I should have just stuck with that instinct and not looked any further through the world of Google astrology…

According to the scary tips and observations on the Chinese Fortune Calendar site, I should probably just stay in bed ’til next year. (Although the website looks pretty dodgy, it appeared first, so I had a look.) It seems that the Year of the Dragon is not automatically a great year for Dragons. And since this year is the year of the Water Dragon, it’s even worse for Fire Dragons as water douses fire. Eeeek.

Apparently, the social relationship of Dragon people is poor in 2012. Oh dear. But if I am looking for new relationships: usually, Dragon people have a better chance to get along well with other people born in the year of Chicken. Ah yes, Chickens. Another site I discovered suggested that Dragons actually get along best with Monkeys and Rats. Either way, I don’t appear to be destined to mix it up with the fancier animals of the Chinese zodiac.

When it comes to my career, this site urged caution: In short, you need to be patient and not have any conflicts with people. Otherwise, it will become an obstacle in your career development, and may even bring you lawsuit. Keeping a low profile is the key to preventing humiliation. A lawsuit? Crikey. This Dragon currently works in HR (traditional home of many dragons, I’m sure), so being patient and avoiding conflict at work is not going to be easy. Nor is keeping a low profile. Hopefully there’s not an EverydaySparks post about any humiliating lawsuit ahead in 2012.

There were also some general financial tips, which I presume could just apply to anyone: If they want to save more money to increase their wealth, Dragon people need a good financial management plan for budget. Oh, and my health? There is a minor injury sign this year, so they should drive very carefully on the road and try to avoid dangerous sports. Uh huh.

So, keep an eye out for this ol’ Dragon – on the road, I’ll be driving very slowly; in the ice hockey team, I’ll be cheering from the bench; at work, I’ll be the quiet one in the corner (playing with chickens and rats and monkeys). I will also be checking out other astrology websites until I find some info that makes me feel better!

This information and images (except for the nice green dragon, which came from came from the Chinese Fortune Calendar website – you can check it out here, if you dare.

Posted in Arty sparks

Pull the pin

Tara Donovan makes art from pins (well, not always, but the pieces that I’m sharing here are all made with common drawing pins). I can hardly even imagine the patience required to stick so many little pins into boards to create art. But, that’s what Tara did for her series Drawings (Pins), which has been shown in her native New York and in other galleries around the world. I first saw Tara’s work on the designboom site – whether the images are from close up or far away, her work is pretty incredible!

According to designboom, the pieces are made up of tens of thousands of nickel-headed thumbtacks embedded in Gatorboard® in varying degrees, generating detailed texture and movement. the collection is an archetypal example of donovan’s signature style, where she is known for using a multitude of a single item to create often large-scale installations.

As you can see from this picture, hundreds and thousands of pins were used to create shading and texture. And I know a photo isn’t as good as seeing the real thing, but I am in awe of Tara Donovan’s work – using a common thing like a pin (granted, many many boxes of pins) to create beautiful works of art. As with the art made from 100s and 1000s that I included in an earlier post here, I am truly blown away by their patience and talent!

If you’d like to read more about Tara Donovan and her pins, the designboom post is here. But remember, pins are not toys. And EverydaySparks takes no responsibility for holes in fingers or missing office supplies as a result of this post.

Posted in Arty sparks, Musical sparks

Hip Hop Hooray

A lot of people don’t know this about me, but I love hip hop music. I am whiter than most white people (thanks to my Irish genes), can’t really dance, don’t like a lotta bling, and I’m not really very street-wise, but for some reason I love hip hop. Not all of it, but a lot of it. Maybe it’s because I love words and people who are clever with words (and by that I don’t mean people who can only rhyme ‘ho’ with ‘blow’, or ‘cop’ with ‘pop’). There are some brilliant hip hop lyrics, aside from the trashy sexist, racist, violent stuff that you often hear about. And a very cool design studio in Chicago – Orange Beautiful – has produced a series of prints based on some famous lyrics. This first series features an ‘Ice’ connection. I found them via and I like them alot…

All right, stop – collaborate and listen. Vanilla Ice, or Robert Van Winkle as he was known to his family, is credited with releasing the first single that brought hip hop into the mainstream (entering the Billboard music charts when it was released in 1989/90). It was Ice Ice Baby and it was a massive hit (and a guilty pleasure for many people who were too embarrassed to admit that they were hooked by Vanilla Ice and his catchy tune). So many memorable lines, but Orange Beautiful have chosen to immortalise: Anything less than the best is a felony. Words to live by, for sure.

Then there’s Ice Cube – a giant of hip hop who has also had success in film and tv (production and acting). Ice Cube should not be confused with Ice T, another hip hop legend who now plays a detective Law and Order: SVU. Orange Beautiful have picked the only lyrics that I think are fit for framing from Ice Cube’s Check Yo Self – sound advice for anyone you know who is maybe hitting life a little too hard: You better check yo self before you wreck yo self.

And to finish on a more deep and meaningful note, here is a print of Ice T’s lyrics from Don’t Hate the Playa, a graphically worded song that’s a twist on the footballing/life expression, ‘play the ball, not the man’: Don’t hate the playa, hate the game. They could also have used another classic line from that song, some financial advice from Ice T: If you out for mega cheddar, you got to go high risk. Maybe next series. (As an aside, the styling of this photo from the Fab website makes me laugh.)

You can check out these limited edition prints from Orange Beautiful on sale at here as they’re not yet on the Orange Beautiful website (or their etsy shop) here. Peace out.

Posted in WWWhat?

Seven Twitty Tweets

I know some people hold grudges against Yoko for breaking up the band or whatever, but I like her because she is so nutty. I guess she has always been a little bit crackers, but with social media, she can share her particular brand of crazy with the world. And she does. I follow her on Twitter and, in case you don’t, I have put together this list of what I consider to be seven of Yoko’s Top Tweets. With so many to choose from, it was a tough job, but I think there’s something here for everyone… Sure, sometimes she sounds a little like Dr Seuss or Yoda, but I still say: Ono? Oh yes!

1. Yoko’s tips for gift giving…

2. Yoko’s thoughts on advances in medical science…

3. Yoko’s view on pyrotechnics / furniture…

4. Yoko’s suggestion for neighbourhood sanitation / lazy council workers…

5. Yoko’s guidance for home renovations…

6. Yoko’s theory on anatomy / romance…

7. I’ve posted this before, but it’s my favourite – Yoko’s advice to big business…