everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

This Owl Party Was A Hoot.

Sorry, couldn’t resist. It really was a hoot, though. My fabulous niece Lauren (one of Pirate James’ lovely sisters) turned 5 and chose an owl themed party to celebrate with her family and friends on Saturday. And my clever sister-in-law Jo, fresh from the Pirate Party Extravaganza only two weeks ago, created another incredible party, with beautiful props and delicious food. Oh, and 1000 screaming little people. Ok, maybe not exactly 1000, but there were a LOT of excited girls and boys enjoying the party. Well, except for that little girl who started crying hysterically when her water balloon popped before the old school water balloon egg & spoon race even started. (Don’t worry, she recovered in time for the Musical Statues game.) Here are some pics from the festivities…

Balloons and flowers - the cornerstone of a great party...

Balloons and flowers – the cornerstone of a great party…

Stylin' it up with owl party props.

Stylin’ it up with owl party props.

Fairy Bread - one of my contributions to the festivities. Not to brag, but it is one of my culinary specialties.

Fairy Bread – one of my contributions to the festivities. Just call me Nigella…

The canvas (hand-painted by Jo!) for Pin The Owl On The Nest.

The canvas (hand-painted by Jo) for Pin The Owl On The Nest. X marks the spot.

After the owls were all pinned. Methinks some of the kids could see through the eye mask...

After the owls were all pinned. Methinks some of the kids could see through that eye mask…

Some of our cupcakes with handmade fondant owls and flowers.

Some of our cupcakes with handmade fondant owls and flowers.

The fruit cups looked great, but weren't a big hit with the kids. The scary dragon guard might have had something to do with it, though.

The fruit cups looked great, but weren’t really a big hit with the kids. This scary dragon guard might have had something to do with that though.

A table of treats. Hoot hoot.

A table of treats. Hoot hoot.

Oh yes, did I mention THE CAKE?

Oh yes, did I mention THE CAKE?

So there you have it – an owl party fit for one of my favourite people on the planet. The best storyteller I know, an incredible little lady with crazy curly hair, a brilliant sense of humour and fun, an amazing imagination, incredible energy and such a social butterfly.

Happy birthday, lovely Lauren. And well done to your amazingly clever Mum!

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A real bed head

I noticed these on a recent Fab.com sale and thought they needed to be shared. Strictly speaking, they’re not works of art, they’re beds. But with a difference – these beds are made out of GIANT ANIMALS. Uh huh. According to their website, the people at Incredibeds are trying to encourage children to sleep in their own beds, rather than in with their parents or out on the lounge or up in a treehouse, I guess. I’m just not sure that dressing a little person’s bed in a giant bear or dog or pink cat, complete with giant paws, is the way to go…I mean, I’ve seen Gremlins, I know just what happens when seemingly cute, innocent, furry things go rogue…

The Floppy Dog (and friend)

Pinky Petunia Kitty Cat (yes, really)

Fuzzy Brown Bear “appears sleeping WITH EYES REMOVED”.

T-Rex Dinosaur. With Teeth.

As always, I just put the ideas out there for you to consider. Perhaps you know a little person who would like to sleep in the jaws of a dinosaur every night, or be cradled by a giant brown bear that has had its eyes removed, or a fairly suspicious looking pink cat. Or maybe your inner child is crying out for a bed like this. Whatever, you can check out more about these beds at the Incredibeds website here. Good night & sweet dreams…And good luck…

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Way to play, crochet

Frame magazine recently featured some amazing playground designs by Japanese artist Toshiko Horiuchi-McAdam. What’s so special about them? Oh, just that they’re made of crocheted yarn. Uh huh. Like giant brightly coloured spider webs that you can climb on and swing from.

Apparently Toshiko first came up with the crocheted playground idea back in the 1990s: ‘she was installing a piece made of crocheted yarn, when children asked if they could use it as a hammock’. Nothing like a live experiment to test the strength of the yarn – and it seems that the piece was actually stronger than expected.

Since then, Toshiko has turned her focus to creating public playgrounds and founded a company with her husband, ‘aimed at developing the concept of the play structure’.

The whole point of their work is ‘public art for kids’ – to design an artful experience that responds to the joyful engagement of children. Love it. For more info and pics of this fantastic idea, you can check out the Frame mag feature here.

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Honestly, thumb people…

If you’ve spent much time with little kids – especially little kids who start to cry or get cranky – there’s probably been a time when you’ve had to resort to singing weird songs to distract them. And maybe you’ve even put on strange voices and pretended that your thumbs/a toy/a piece of apple/a shoe is magically able to talk. In the hope that the talking is enough of a funny surprise to stop the crying. Or perhaps you remember that childhood game where your thumb battles another thumb, with the gauntlet being thrown down: 1,2,3,4 – I declare a thumb war. And then it’s on – sort of like an arm wrestle for thumbs. Of course, if none of this sounds at all familiar, you can just ignore this opening paragraph and you might still like this product that I saw on the Matomeno website, which never disappoints…

The post was called My thumb is my friend! which sounded wacky enough for me. And now that I’ve seen this product range, I think it’s something that we could all use at home, in the classroom, or in the office. In fact, I could have made this another EverydaySparks CEO post, as these little beauties will be mandatory for performance review discussions and will most certainly help at salary review time. Basically, there are five stampers (so, technically, I guess you could use them on your thumb and fingers if you wanted to create a whole gang), which you ink up and use to bring your digits to life.

Whatevs, I hear you say. That’s not so exciting. Well, of course that’s not where it ends – the good folk at Mikke Remikke have taken it to another level with costumes to accompany each of the faces. That’s right, you can choose from five characters: Timmy, Michael, Cathy, Bob or Andrew. Uh huh. Each comes with its own costume and hair-do. And accent and personality, presumably – but that part is up to you. I’d keep an eye on that Timmy – not sure if it’s the pink ‘fro or those overalls, but I think he’s an accident waiting to happen. Oh, and look out for Andrew – anyone wearing a personalised sweatband as a jumper is probably not a-ok.

Perhaps you know someone who finds it difficult to communicate in conventional ways, or someone who’d like an instant gang of new friends. Or maybe you’d just like someone else to blame for dumb things that you might say or do. Whatever the reason, you can find out more via the Matameno site here or you can buy them (and read a bizarre translation of the product and its purpose) at the Rakuten Global Market here.

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The Art of the Brick

Nathan Sawaya is a Brick Artist. That’s his trademarked title, according to his website. And no, it’s not a fancy name for a builder or labourer, it reflects that Nathan makes his art not with charcoal, or paint, or even sprinkles, but with LEGO bricks. Nathan currenly has over 1.5 million bricks in his New York studio – you can see some of them in this pic from his website, colour coded and boxed in a way that would put even the neatest parent of a toddler to shame.

Nathan’s work is incredible. Like this amazing man-inside-a-man (clearly not its official title, but my own) featured on Nathan’s Facebook page. I think this is why Nathan’s so clever – he can use the brightly coloured bricks of our childhood to make a giant dinosaur (currently on exhibit in Taipei) or rainbow hearts or giant bodies. And then, he can use Lego bricks to make a sculpture like this more serious and muted man shuffling along living a sort of half-life in his corporate suit, while inside of him is that lively, passionate red man just trying to get out. At least, that’s how I see it – there’s always the chance that it’s just an alien themed sculpture of the red people overtaking the humans. Either way, I like it!

If you’re an Elvis fan – or even if you’re not – you’ll appreciate the detail of this life-size (height, anyway) Elvis creation of Nathan’s from 2011, to commemorate 34 years since the King’s passing. (Alleged passing, I should say.)

There are so many amazing brick sculptures in Nathan’s collection, it’s tough to choose what to include here. So I’ll finish with this, which is surely the dream bedroom of many children (lack of comfort aside, it would totes impress other little people who visited). Nathan was “commissioned to create a display of how a bedroom would look entirely out of bricks” – not one to do anything by halves, the drawers open and the brick pillow is removable. Oh yes, and that’s a Lego cello there, against the wall. And a Lego model of The Thinker. Just because.

If you want to check out more of Nathan’s work – and it is well worth a look – his website is here and his Facebook fan page is here.

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Kids Draw The News

There is a section of the New York Times called ‘Kids Draw The News’, which pretty much does what it says on the tin – kids from around the USA (and sometimes even other countries) are invited to submit a drawing to tell the story of a particular news topic. As is often the case with pictures drawn by kids, there are some very funny and very clever and very wacky results. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about…

An excerpt from an article last month: Swarms of honeybees seem to be everywhere in New York City these days — on cars, on trees, outside restaurants — as fast-growing colonies take off in search of new homes. As illustrated by the kids who made a big effort:

             

As illustrated by the kid who was maybe being forced to enter by an eager Mom and Dad:

Also from last month, an article about NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to limit the availability of giant serves of soda: Because way too many New Yorkers of all ages are overweight, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg wants to make it illegal to sell large sugary drinks in restaurants, movie theaters, delis and some other places.  From the pens and pencils of babes:

             

And from a kid whose parents maybe need to cut him off from tv shows like NCIS and Law & Order:

As an HR person, I can’t help but think that ad agencies should consider signing up some of these kids sooner rather than later. And I am now imagining a newspaper with kids’ drawings to accompany the stories, rather than shocking photos. Or maybe even using kids’ drawings instead of some of the news stories. Somehow, they get to the point and make you smile at the same time – would love to get their take on issues in politics and the environment. Oh, and the real story behind the breakup of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, of course.

You can check out the ‘Kids Draw The News’ section of the New York Times online here.

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Sock it to ’em

Sock monkeys seem to be everywhere at the moment. Well, not wandering the streets or catching buses or seeing movies, but everywhere in shops that sell cool toys. I like them a lot and think they’re a great gift for young and old alike, but they can be a bit same-same looking, without a distinct personality or style. Enter the clever people at You Make Me…Me, who sell their ‘handmade sock softies and baby books’ on my beloved Australian handmade market site MadeIt.

These are more than sock monkeys. These are movie stars. Whether you’re a fan of Star Wars, Harry Potter or a whole heap of other films, you’ll find your match here. It was this Yoda who first caught my eye – firstly, because he is a favourite beacon of wisdom in an often dreary world, and secondly, because in this incarnation he looks a little bit like a dodgy gremlin or an old man you might see in the park…

Or if Wookiees are more your thing, then here is Chewbacca in sock form. I find him almost as scary in this form as on the big screen, but since he means no harm (at least, that’s how I remember it), he’s probably a safe addition to your home security detail. 

Then there is that pesky boy wizard Harry Potter, complete with dorky glasses, scar from that failed homicide and a little wand to cast a spell on those around you. As always, I take no responsibility for whatever happens if you bring Harry into your life – that kid did get into quite a lot of trouble…

You can also get custom-made supporter sock monkeys in your team’s colours, along with a range of more traditional looking sock friends. If you’d like to brighten your life with the company of these ‘sock softies’, then check out the collection in the MadeIt shop here.

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Great Danes

I first read about Danish label LuckyBoySunday in Frankie magazine, alongside a photo of three very cool looking chairs. So I looked at the website (yes, even though they were apparently only for children) and I was hooked. I don’t know if Danish children are more melancholic (if that’s a word) than other children, but the collections of accessories on the website would scare the crap out of most kids I know.

The creation story of LuckyBoySunday is a cute one. The idea was born “on a Sunday in August 2007” as Camilla & Camilla (yes, really) sat by a lake in Copenhagen and “shaking hands, promising each other to create our very own version of a child’s reality”. And so they did. With their focus on “silly, seriously, joyful, graphics, dreams. Yes!” they are surely on the right track. As long as your children aren’t prone to nightmares as they see their toys coming to life at night…

The collection is made of “very soft 100% baby alpaca”, which sounds a bit cruel to me. (They haven’t specified, but I presume they mean the baby alpaca’s wool.)

Anyways, the peculiar hand cushion is called Fancy Finger, for obvious reasons. And the little girl is holding Dead Buddy. Uh huh. Then there is Balthazar, the shirtless guy with the blue balaclava and his bestie Sailor Jack, who look like they’ve had a rough night at sea. Or somewhere. And then there’s the Uffie cushion – part-robber, part-anxiety and all charm. Then there are the fabulous Mr Bells, with their green and blue moustaches.

The collection is for children? Do you really think so? Either way, they have some very cool and kooky accessories and their website is well worth a visit. You can check it out here.

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