Posted in Travel sparks

Plane speaking: Vegetarian desserts

I’ve had an issue with this for a while, but I’ve never said anything about it until now. Because although it’s made me cranky, it wasn’t until I was faced with this particular outrage on my recent flight to Dublin that I finally snapped. My issue is this: just because I order a vegetarian meal on a flight, that doesn’t mean I don’t eat dessert. Look, I’ll be honest – it doesn’t even really mean that I don’t eat meat, it’s more that I’m a bit fussy and figure it’s better to order a vego meal to be on the safe side. Well, that and I do like to feel a bit special.

Anyways, back to this particular outrage. The lovely Etihad lady went around the cabin handing out menus as we began our journey. I had no clue what time or day it was, so had completely forgotten that my vegetarian meal was pre-ordered – I looked through the menu at the delicious sounding options (of which one was even vegetarian) and started to get excited. And then I got to the dessert section and saw this:


Oh yeah. Banoffee Pie is one of my most favourite desserts in the whole wide world. So you can imagine how excited I was. But then my meal came (it wasn’t the amazing-sounding vegetarian option from the fancy menu, by the way) and I eagerly scanned the tray for my pie. But instead, I found this “dessert” waiting for me:

Uh huh. Not quite Banoffee Pie. I sobbed quietly to myself. Then 15 minutes later when my neighbour finally got his meal, I got a glimpse of what I had missed out on…I would have taken a photo of that, but I couldn’t focus through my tears. And he wolfed it down so quickly that I didn’t get a chance.

This always seems to happen to me – the airlines give fruit for vegetarian meal desserts (and it’s not even a strict vegan meal, it’s that lacto-ovo option, so surely that rules in most desserts?) instead of real sweet treats. But it’s never hit me as hard as this flight, when the Banoffee was so near and yet so far. It’s enough to make me cancel my vegetarian order for the flight home, just in case…

Posted in Home sparks, Sparks at work


Think Geek promises to sell “stuff for smart masses”. But not all of their stuff is especially geeky or designed for techos – today’s find made me giggle and I think it has a huge potential for adding a spark to the everyday items that we have around our homes and workplaces. Customers who have bought the kit have even sent in their own photos (which are then added to the product page) to show how they’ve used the stickers to add a bit of personality to things that would otherwise look pretty boring. See what you think…

In case you’re not familiar with the term ‘anthropomorphise’ (I wasn’t either), I’ll let the good people at Think Geek explain it far better than I can: We do it every day, though mostly without thinking about it – we get angry at the stapler that mangled our presentation, or the phone when it can’t get a signal. We say we “love this coffee mug,” and sometimes we even imagine a face on the clock on the wall. It’s called anthropomorphizing, and it’s where we imbue human characteristics to inanimate objects.

So they’ve taken this one step further and sell “Inanimate Character Stickers” – over 100 stickers of “eyes and mouths in various shapes, sizes and expressions, waiting for you to give life to the lifeless.” This idea is right up my street – I love it! From fruit to office products to shoes, people have submitted photos of what they’ve managed to achieve with just some kooky looking eyes and a toothy grin.

And the possibilities are endless. If others keep borrowing your stapler and forgetting to give it back, a scary face might be just what you need. Or if you want to encourage people to eat the orange cream biscuits that no one else wants, maybe stick on a nice little friendly face and watch them win people over. I’m thinking that doctors could take medical implements to a whole other level with a well chosen pair of eyes and a smile – except the only thing worse than a needle coming at you is surely a needle with a maniacal face coming at you…

I think these stickers could change our lives. Or, at least, they could help make us smile as we go about our business every day. And that’s a step in the right direction. If you’d like to check them out, they are available from Think Geek here.



Posted in Arty sparks, Food sparks

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!