everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

Bunny with a Toolbelt

Yes, that caught my eye too. Bunny with a Toolbelt is the very cool name of Hilary Pfeifer’s business in Portland, Oregon, where the focus has been ‘making you smile since the late 20th century’. Hilary creates sculptures, animals and wedding cake toppers from recycled wood and other materials. And they are brightly coloured and very quirky. Hilary has also written a couple of books and sells t-shirts and mugs adorned with her work. This Bunny is busy.

(c) Bunny with a Toolbelt

I’ll start with my favourite. This dog is made of painted, upcycled wood and stands about 4 inches tall and 11 inches long. The piece is called ‘Oh Happy Day’. And with this brightly coloured piece of magic in your home or office or classroom or shop, I’m tipping you’ll have a very happy day indeed. If you’re a deep kinda person, you can probably read something into the placement of the clouds, or the fact that the dog is happily supporting three animals of another species, all of different colours. But I just like it because it’s bright and cute.

(c) Bunny with a Toolbelt

If you’re looking for a customised gift for that certain someone, you can help Hilary to design your own Mini Me. You send photos and thoughts about the subject to Hilary and she creates a mini version of them. In brightly coloured monster form. Uh huh.

And then there are the elephants that Hilary created to illustrate her first alphabet book – Elephabet. As you might expect, it’s no ordinary alphabet book. Y is for Yippie-ki-Yayiphant, S is for Sushiphant, R is for Radiophant. But my favourite is probably this guy: V is for Vice Versaphant.

(c) Bunny with a Toolbelt

Oh, and the wedding cake toppers – not normally even remotely my kind of thing, but these have a quirky style. Granted, they won’t suit every couple, but for some people, I think they’re probably just perfect…

Like that really tall couple that you know.

(c) Bunny with a Toolbelt

Or those two IT geeks who fell in love in the server room.

(c) Bunny with a Toolbelt

Or that couple that took forever to make it down the aisle.

(c) Bunny with a Toolbelt

And with more than 60 varieties, there’s plenty more where those came from! You can check out the Bunny with a Toolbelt website here and the etsy shop here. Love your work, Hilary!

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Willing Andable

Launched in Sydney earlier this month, Andable is a new online marketplace to buy and sell unique products. But that’s not all. Their motto is: When you buy, we share – and they donate 10% of each purchase price to help fund a Kiva micro loan. (If you’re not familiar with Kiva’s ‘loans that change lives’, you can check out their website here.) But that’s not all. The Andable site uses a classification system – FRESH – for sellers to mark their products as Fair Trade (or better business practises); Reborn (recycled, upcycled, found objects); Eco-friendly; Supports local business; and/or Handmade. And they sell some cool stuff – from art to clothing to beauty products to accessories to homewares to baby toys.

If you or someone you know has a sweet tooth, but is trying to kick the sugar habit, this might be just the thing – the Strawberry ‘n’ Cream Pendant by Minnette. Handmade in Adelaide, Australia, Minnette’s range also includes jelly babies, raspberries and milk bottles. Just make sure that everyone understands that they’re not real – they’re resin.

Still on the sweet theme, Sophie Farquhar of Bed Toppings in Byron Bay makes amazing sheet sets for kids (little and big). Apparently, Sophie created her range in response to the boring and predictable bed linens that were available in most stores. As a child, Sophie dreamt of sleeping on a giant piece of toast with tin spaghetti doona and buttered sheets. I love this chocolate block sheet set – very Willy Wonka.

And in keeping with the FRESH principles, Marlandia doesn’t sell ordinary footwear – these items have been made in Brazil, from recycled materials, by local women in the slums (favela). Teaching women sewing skills and empowering them to make a living from their craft, this is an inspiring business model. And these shoes will help you to run like a cheetah. (I just made that bit up – it’s not actually specified in the product blurb.)

So, although it’s early days for this new online venture, I have high hopes for Andable. As someone who is always on the lookout for different and interesting gifts, these are made even better by the focus on FRESH and the support of microfinance projects through Kiva. Win-win. Or, as that wise manager Jerry Maguire once said: Help me help you. You can check out the range of gifts at the new Andable site here.

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Home sweet home

Sometimes, it’s the little things that make a house a real home. Those little touches that give you a real sense of the person or people that live there. As I look around my apartment at the various quirky bits and pieces that I have collected over the years and wonder what my home says about me. That I’m a little bit nuts, probably – and I can’t argue with that! Anyways, in case you’re looking for some statement pieces for your home, I have found some interesting things at Karma Kiss. I think they make a variety of statements – from, ‘I am trying my best to avoid acting like an adult’, to, ‘I am trying to scare you away, never to return’, to, ‘Yes, I really am too cool for school’.

Whether you have little people living in or visiting your home, or if you just want to level the playing field and watch as grownups try to sit down on a tiny (toad)stool, this could be the dining set for you. Apparently, it’s suitable for indoors and outdoors, so if you’ve ever dreamed of creating a fairy grotto in your backyard, this could be a great place to start.

Or perhaps you’re trying to create more of a hunting lodge feel. Or you have really competitive friends, who are always skiting about their success and telling tall tales about their achievements. Yeah, they might be impressive, but do any of them have the head of a ferocious dinosaur mounted on their wall? Didn’t think so.

And then there are these Raven Bookends. At least, they’re meant to be bookends. But I would rather set them up somewhere high, so they’re glaring down like a sort of winged home security system. I can also see their benefit at work – I could set them up on my desk and whenever someone comes to ask me something, turn to the ravens and say, “Hmmm…I don’t know…what do you guys think?” See, the fun you can have working in HR!

And I know this one isn’t really for your home, but this just seems like such a good idea to ensure adequate personal space when you’re in a crowd – or to put off other travellers from claiming your luggage on the carousel. They also sell backpacks in a very cool bubble design, similar to that amazing furniture I posted about a while back – kinda like carrying a science experiment on your back.

Oh, and one last thing in case you can’t get your hands on the thumb costumes from earlier this week. This product takes the thumb war to a whole new level. You’ve been warned.

If you’d like to check out these and other ‘unique gifts and novelties’, the Karma Kiss store is here.

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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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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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There’s a creature in my cup

I first saw these Creature Cups, made by Yumi Yumi in Brooklyn, on etsy a few months ago. I wanted to write about them, because they are a little bit different to your standard mug. But then the etsy shop disappeared and I could find no trace of Yumi Yumi or her Creatures.

Until they appeared on sale recently at Fab.com and I realised that Yumi Yumi (I’ll keep using both Yumis as I’m not actually sure if it’s a person’s name or a shop) has become bigger than etsy (imagine that!) and started a website to share these cool mugs with the world.

Whether you need a unique housewarming gift, have a friend who’s a vet or a zookeeper, or just want to scare your visitors by serving their coffee in cups filled with creatures, this may be the collection for you. Featuring an alligator, octopus, sea otter and lobster, these Creature Cups are sure to liven up your morning coffee. And I’d keep my eye on that lobster – he looks like he’s planning an escape…

You can check out the Creature Cups here.

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Picture perfect jewellery

Sometimes, you need to write something down, but you don’t have a pen handy. Or you really want to draw a picture to explain what you’re saying, but you don’t have any coloured pencils with you. This post could be for you. Or maybe you like jewellery that is pretty and practical – funk-tional – and you’re looking for a new ring. Or you’ve always wanted to be the artistic equivalent of Edward Scissorhands – Jonathon Pencilhands or Albert Paintbrushhands. Whatever, this post is for you too.

For these, my friends, are Crayon Rings. Such a simple, yet clever, idea by Timothy Liles.  For sale on the cool design website Generate, these brightly coloured rings, cast in washable crayon come in a set of 8. That’s right, for less than $50 US, you can add eight new rings to your jewellery box and eight new crayons to your pencil case. And, you know, draw colourful stuff with your accessories.

But what if you accidentally draw in the wrong place? Or colour something that should have been black & white? Fear not, this Eraser+ing by ahead creative will solve your problems. Featuring bright colours and a ‘mild fruity scent’, a set of five costs less than $40 US.

If you’d like to check out these rings, or a whole heap of other kooky stuff, you can find the Generate online store here.

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It’s in the bag

I am a bag lady. Be they fancy bags, practical bags, work bags, silly bags, travel bags or shopping bags, I love them. And I first saw these kooky handbags on sale at Fab.com. Dutch designer Sylvia Krens created the Hi-Di-Hi range of bags in striking styles that highlight individuality and, most importantly, spark conversations. Yep, I’m pretty sure these are going to be conversation starters – or stoppers…

The pics of these Winky cross-body bags are from Fab.com, which featured them in a recent sale. They come in a range of bright colours and, as the name suggests, the hologram eye appears to open and close when the bag moves. Be warned that your bag will be winking at everyone that you pass on the street. Which may work in your favour, or may result in you getting slapped. Please take care.

The winking eyes made me curious, so I checked out the Hi-Di-Hi website, and was delighted to discover more wacky accessories there. Like these Birdy Shopper bags, designed to look as though you’re carrying around a bird in a nest. Granted, the ‘nest’ in this image is made of faux fur, which is a little confusing, but it somehow works.

Or there’s this funky Home Sweet Home, which features a cute little bird stuck in a cut-out hole, like a cuckoo. Only cuter.

Then there are colourful bags with butterflies, flowers, babies, and even hoodies to customise your backpack as your mood changes – from Little Red Riding Hood to a dragon, elf or robot.

These pics are all from the Hi-Di-Hi website, which is well worth a look. You can check it out here.

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Beware of the Trolls

Do you remember troll dolls? Those faces that were a bit Benjamin Button-like on a small plastic body, with a crazy mop of brightly coloured hair on the top. Sort of cute, sort of scary. They popped into my head this week, so I thought I’d check out the range of trolls available on my beloved etsy. Look out…

Ah, the Troll Ballerina. Never has there been such a contradiction – the grace and beauty of ballet teamed with the slightly hideous old-troll-ness of “Belle” (a 1960s doll with pink lambswool hair). For sale at Maggie’s Klosets, along with some old army boots, jewellery and a fairly disturbing cat brooch.

This troll looks like a surfer dude (with creepy hands that look like he’s often up to no good), but he is apparently an original DAM troll doll from Denmark, made in 1980. I think that DAM is the name of the toy company, rather than a mean term for this little fella. Ah yes, a bit of troll trivia for you from the good people at Jolly Wollytrolls were originally created in 1959 by Danish fisherman and woodcutter Thomas Dam. The dolls became popular in several European countries during the early 1960s, shortly before they were introduced in the United States. I haven’t checked these facts, so please don’t complain to me if you lose points at a pub trivia night…

Now, if you’re afraid of clowns, then this could well be your worst nightmare. As if trolls weren’t scary enough, this guy has been frocked up and his vacant stare and rosy cheeks are enough to make anyone think he’s more of a Stephen King clown than a roll-up, roll-up fun sort of clown. On sale at Snap Vintage, he is another DAM troll from 1986. I know that because there is a photo of a stamp on his clubbed foot that says so.

If there’s a gym junkie in your life, or an old aerobics tragic, or someone with a withered face who likes leg warmers and leotards, this may be the troll for them. It’s a vintage Russ troll doll and it’s scary. Not sure that the face matches the body, but I think anything goes in troll world, so whatevs. This great shop Plush 26 also features this frightening troll baby. But I don’t think you should give it to any new mothers, just in case they think you’re being mean.

And the same shop sells a few other beauties that I wanted to share: the limited edition Russ “Troll around the world” from Scotland, a bonnie wee chap that makes me wonder what other nations’ trolls looked like in that collection…Or the Troll Artist (presumably from the “Career Trolls” collection to inspire kiddies to live their dreams, just like the trolls). He looks suspiciously like the Scottish troll with a different jacket, but I’m sure that there’s more to it than that.

Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to turn a little person into a troll. In that case, you can buy a knitting pattern for this troll hat from Petal Knits and whip up a creation that’s sure to scare little people and big people alike.

Whatever your style, no doubt there is a troll doll just for you. With big beady eyes, a mop of bright hair and a giant fixed smile, what’s not to love?

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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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