everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

Living large

I first came across Living Royal when they were on sale at Fab.com. 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.

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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 Vectorya.com) came from the Chinese Fortune Calendar website – you can check it out here, if you dare.

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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.

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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 Fab.com 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 Fab.com here as they’re not yet on the Orange Beautiful website (or their etsy shop) here. Peace out.

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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…

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A thousand words

Being a pretty conservative sort of lass, I don’t have any tattoos. Although since tattoos seem to be so popular these days, it’s kinda like they’ve become the new normal – so, really, I’m a rebel for NOT having a tattoo. Yes, really. I’m not sure when tattoos made the shift to becoming more common, but now it’s getting tougher to find a cleanskin – you know, one that’s not featuring a Chinese character, inspirational word, Celtic symbol or Maori sleeve. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not against tattoos. The fact that I don’t have one is more to do with an aversion to pain and no clue about what I’d want to be branded with for life. I often admire them on others, yet sometimes, you see tattoos that definitely belong in the But, why? file…

According to the Geeky Tattoos website, these feet belong to Alicia, a lady who posted the image on Flickr and said that she chose to have good and evil cupcakes tattooed on her feet to remind her to stay young at heart and to symbolize the balance of good and evil within herself, but adds “and I have a thing for cupcakes”. Yes, so did I.

And from the same website, here is Ashley’s leg. With a tattoo of a Nintendo 64 gaming controller. I am not a gamer, so I can’t really understand this one either. Maybe this controller is more than just a piece of plastic with coloured buttons that you press to make a character on a tv screen jump or run or whatever?

We all know it’s important to get plenty of vitamins from fresh fruit and vegetables. But I’m not sure about this tattoo of a bunch of asparagus – I don’t think those vitamins count. Though it’s certainly more interesting than a bunch of roses or daffodils.

Continuing on the food theme, here’s a hot breakfast. On someone’s arm. I love breakfast as much as anyone, but I’m not sure why you would want a picture of it on your arm. Unless that bacon made a smile under those eggy eyes. Then I would understand.

Anyways, if you would like to see more, the first two pics are from Geeky Tattoos and the foodie tattoos are from OC Weekly. And, of course, EverydaySparks takes no responsibility for any action you may take as a result of this inspirational post… What would you get?

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EverydaySparks, CEO Idea #53.

I have previously written about some of the art that will be on the walls of EverydaySparks Inc (here, if you missed it). And now I can share some more office features that will keep the EverydaySparkians happy, energised and, of course, highly productive. Just what they’ll be doing is yet to be confirmed, but be assured they will be doing it well.

Leveraging synergies, stepping up to the plate, getting all your ducks in a row, thinking outside of the square, having skin in the game. Surviving the jargon of the corporate jungle can be exhausting (especially if you spend energy trying to work out what people actually mean by all that gibberish). You need to be fit and healthy to keep up…and what better way to do that than with an exercise bike built in to your desk? The Elliptical Machine Office Desk is designed to be pedaled at slower cadences that won’t break one’s concentration (or cause one to break a sweat), an average user can burn about 4,000 calories in a typical workweek. Uh huh.

On the flipside, we know that it’s important to get enough rest. Enter the Power Nap Capsule, a space-age looking piece of furniture inspired by NASA studies demonstrating that napping can improve reaction time by 16% and concentration by 34%. Apparently, this capsule features a sleeping (sorry, napping) area that is longer than a king size mattress – a spacious, semi-enclosed sleeping environment ideal for recharging the mind and body. And it’s only semi-enclosed, so anyone that dozes for too long will have cold water thrown in on them as a rejuvenating hydration therapy technique. (That part was developed by EverydaySparks Inc, not based on NASA studies.)

I know car-pooling is good for the environment, and I’ve always been a public-transport-to-work kinda gal myself anyway, but when I am transformed into EverydaySparks CEO, I will need a vehicle that befits my lofty status. I don’t want it to be so big or attractive to others that I end up driving every clown in town with me wherever I go though – a CEO of an organisation like EverydaySparks Inc obviously needs quiet time to dream and plan… So I’ve found my company car. It’s electric and it only holds one person. It actually looks eerily similar to that Power Nap Capsule, just with doors and wheels and some other bits. Or something that one of the Mr Men characters would drive. Apparently, this electric, highway-legal, three-wheeled, single passenger vehicle combines the functionality of an electric car with the maneuverability and scale of a motorcycle. And it uses less than half the energy of today’s most efficient hybrid vehicles. And, like all good handbags or lollies or fireworks, it is available in Red, Teal, Orange, Blue, Yellow, Purple, Magenta, White, Coral, Dark Aqua, Green, Lime Green, Lilac and Aqua.

Oh, and my briefcase? It’ll be this one. Sure, it looks boring enough – but wait. Here it is again. Yep, it’s the Brazilian Barbecue Briefcase that converts into a charcoal grill with motorized spits for grilling authentic Brazilian churrasco. The briefcase sets up on its four removable legs and a motor inside its lid automatically rotates the four included spits over a charcoal tray in the base, producing meat with crisp, golden-brown exteriors and succulent interiors–the hallmarks of churrasco. I’m not even a churrasco fan, but it seems more exciting than a normal briefcase.

All of these items are available from that amazing superstore Hammacher Schlemmer – as long as you are not planning to compete with EverydaySparks Inc for the best employer awards, you can check them out here.

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Snappy dressin’ cats (and dogs)

I do like a portrait of an animal in clothes. There’s something about a cleverly matched animal head with a human’s outfit that makes me giggle every time. So, I was delighted to find Heather Mattoon Art on etsy – any shop whose promise is simply, “CATS AND DOGS IN CLOTHES” is alright by me. Here are some of my favourites…

This is George. Apparently, George is quiet, loves science, especially quantum theory, and feels that doctors should be more forthcoming with health advice despite the influence of the pharmaceutical companies.

And Cooper. Cooper is a deep thinker, his thoughts are profound. He walks alone from coffee shop to coffee shop carrying his journal.

Or Henry. Henry is not yet a teenager but likes to hang around the older crowd to feel a little bit cooler. He is wearing his favorite onesie pajamas.

But if dogs are more your thing… Stewart, oh Stewart, such a good natured boy. He enjoys very much organizing community meetings to raise awareness of societal issues. He provides all of the snacks as well.

Then there’s Theo. Theo lives in North Carolina in a newly remodeled home. He confuses people with his ironic sense of humor…he is what some people call a hipster.

And Sven. Sven spends his days looking after his grandmother. She lets him take her scooter to the shops. He is saving up for a motorcycle but right now he enjoys the Vespa.

Love your work, Heather Mattoon. If you’d like to check out more of Heather’s fabulous prints and originals, they are here.

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That’s miPhone

With the number of people sporting iPhones these days, it can be tough to know which is yours. If, say, you are in the habit of turning your phone upside down and putting it right next to someone else’s. And the standard black or white colour scheme can feel somewhat limiting to people like you and me, who kinda like to stand out of the crowd, march to the beat of a different drum, or fly in the face of convention. Or maybe it’s not even that deep, maybe it’s just nice to personalise your phone as you would any other accessory that you’ve chosen to fit your style/mood/look. I’m not an iPsych, so I’m not digging any deeper – but here are some of the more intriguing iPhone covers that I have discovered…

For fans of Tiffany & Co, Audrey Hepburn, New York City, presents, or ribbons – this would surely be the cover for you. Although you would probably have to watch out for people who like to steal expensive trinkets. And people who like to untie ribbons. And those girls who have always wanted something from Tiffany & Co – you don’t want your phone to be their something. That would be disappointing for both parties, really.

Or for geeks with a slightly evil sense of humour, who want to giggle every time that a non-geek panics that they’ve splashed water and ruined the geek’s exposed iPhone circuitry. LOL.

The warning in the product blurb makes me think that someone has bought this next cover to recreate their childhood farming memories of ol’ Bessy, and been sadly crushed by reality. Peeps, “this is a photo of a cow hide – not a real hide.” Although I’m sure if it’s real cow hide that you’re after, there’s a phone cover shop somewhere that caters for your taste.

And in case your thing is vases shaped like vintage shoes and stockings, filled with roses and strapped in to old-fashioned roller skates. Here you go, champ.

If you’re a romantic, you might like this cover. But I think it’s worth remembering that this message goes out to everyone who sees your phone. So, you might want to think about that. Not just to your beloved, or family and friends, but to the smelly guy on the bus, the annoying lady at work, and the cranky neighbour. Tho’ it is nice to spread a message of love – like a random act of kindness that you’re throwing out to the world. And, if your phone gets stolen, who knows but the thief may turn it over, see this cover and think about giving it back to its lovely owner. Or at least think about getting a new cover for their hot phone.

And last, but by no means least (unless you’re a vegetarian), here is the “Juicy Steak Design”. Unlike that cowhide cover, there is no warning here saying, this is a photo of a steak – not a real steak. So I do hope there are not people trying to order the cover ‘medium rare’ or ‘well done’. For me, this cover goes with many others into the BUT, WHY? file – though perhaps it makes more sense if you’re a steak lover. In which case, you can snap it up for less than $20!

So many covers to choose from to pick just the right hat for your phone. If none of these have spoken to you, there are plenty more to check out at the Wallsparks shop. Like, brain scan images (uh huh), old school typewriters, flags, donuts, robots, light switches, animals and pretty much anything you can imagine. The etsy shop is here if you’d like to have a look.

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Celebrating 100 sparks

Well, today marks the 100th post on EverydaySparks. I must confess to being pleasantly surprised that I am still going, and still as fond of blogging as I was when I began back in February. I started writing a blog because I wanted to force myself to write – after being to a number of writing classes over the years and secretly dreaming of a life as a freelance writer, I thought it was time to see if I could actually commit to writing on a regular basis. Albeit writing only a few hundred words about something nonsensical that I had discovered on my virtual travels and thought was worth sharing…

I didn’t want to write long, thoughtful and introspective posts about my life – other people do that and I applaud them for their honesty and ability to write about their daily lives. That kind of writing is not what I was interested in, though – probably due to a combo of wanting to maintain my privacy and also not having a particularly dramatic life story! And if I may go a bit herbal for a minute, I have also been trying to move further away from the negativity of news media and politics (and reality tv), which is all doom and gloom and fighting and complaining. With all that in our faces, I just wanted this blog to be a place of silliness and lighthearted fun – a chance to share things that have made me smile (or furrow my brow in confusion) in the hope that other people might appreciate them too.

Originally, those ‘other people’ were people I know in the real world – and I thank them so much for their encouragement and support. I know how lucky I am to have such an awesome cheer squad, full of so many smart, funny, kind, thoughtful and downright cuckoo personalities. And gradually, these ‘other people’ included new friends, who I’m yet to meet in the real world, who dropped in and commented when they liked posts (and when they didn’t like posts!) and made me laugh. From here in Sydney to the USA, the UK and Europe and lots of places in between, I still find it amazing that there is this incredible virtual community of people – we wouldn’t know if we sat next to them on the bus, but we feel like we know them from their blogs. Inspiring artists, clever wordsmiths, amazing cooks, funky designers. Thank you all for making this so much fun.

A confession – I wasn’t sure how long I’d last as a blogger because I tend to get inspired by something and then get bored and move on to some new passion (sometimes before I even actually start the first thing). Like today, when I borrowed my Mum’s sewing machine (because that’s the new thing I want to do) and she casually said, “Oh, as I got it out, I found that bag of wool and needles from when you wanted to learn how to knit”. Mum, that was soooo three years ago, now I’m all about the sewing. Except when I’m all about the card making. Or the bag making. Or the chocolate making. You get the idea. So, I’m surprised and kinda pleased that I still find blogging fun and enjoyable. And other people seem to like EverydaySparks, which is a nice cherry on top of the sundae. (I also went through an ice cream making phase last year.)

Anyways, thanks for indulging this ramble as EverydaySparks hits 100. Special thanks to those of you who have commented and liked my posts, or provided ideas and inspiration, or who write blogs that keep me coming back. My Dad still asks a question that I can’t really answer, “But, HOW DID THEY FIND YOU?” I don’t know, but I’m glad that they did. (For the record, my Dad also still asks “But, WHAT DO YOU ACTUALLY DO?” in relation to my career. But that is probably another post for another time.) Thank you to etsy and fab.com for hosting the main sources of inspiration for this blog – there are some incredibly talented people around the world, as well as some incredibly strange people around the world, which keeps EverydaySparks ticking over with new finds.

Here’s to the next 100!

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