everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

A festive farewell

I love Christmas. I love everything about it – the lead-up (yep, even the crazy shopping times), the traditions, the family time, the thoughtful gifts and the eating and the drinking. But I don’t like the post-Christmas slump that inevitably follows – washing up, putting away decorations, taking down the tree, trying to fit the lights back into their box without strangling myself, watching what I’m eating and drinking. All that stuff.

If it were socially acceptable to keep my tree up as a standard home decoration all year round, I would do it. I have a bizarro collection of ornaments that I have picked up on my travels (whether those travels be to Prague or Florence or just a dodgy shop in North Sydney) – it’s a tree with personality, I tell you. From the disco balls to the glittering butterflies to the razzle dazzle stars, and everything in between. Some Waterford crystal, some precious metals, some felt and some Chinese plastic. Come to think of it, the tree is probably a pretty good reflection of me in many ways. A mish-mash of different styles and moods and ideas and a lot of quirky stuff that is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but it makes me smile every time I unpack the Christmas collection.

So, this post is a festive farewell to some of my faves – ’til next year, my Christmas crackers.

 

Decoratin' my door no more.

Decoratin’ my door no more.

Fly away, spongey faced fairy (who appears to need a comfort break).

Fly away, marzipan faced fairy (who appears to need a comfort break).

No more lies, man.

No more lies, man.

Auf Wiedersehen, golden sheen pickle.

Auf Wiedersehen, golden sheen pickle.

Quackers.

Quackers.

Hit the slopes, crazy monkey  trapped in an Australian summer Christmas.

Hit the slopes, crazy monkey trapped in an Australian summertime Christmas.

Sayonara, Christmas glitter sushi from my sister Jo. Every tree should have one.

Sayonara, Christmas glitter sushi from my sister Jo. Every tree should have one.

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EverydaySparks Gift Idea #374 – Hey, Pillow Face

Now this is a gift I really like. At the risk of spoiling this year’s Christmas present surprises, I can think of so many faces for so many cushions for so many of my family and friends – I reckon it would be a real hit. And they deliver all around the world, so it’s a far cheaper way of sending the kids to stay with Granny in Iceland. I first saw PillowMob featured on a Fab.com sale. Their tag line is “All your face are belong to us”, which sounds like the kind of slightly dodgy translation more commonly found on a Hello Kitty pencil case. Although these ‘pillow faces’ are made in Seattle, Washington.

You can choose from the range of cushions featuring animals, food items or random strangers – or you can upload your own photo and the clever folk at PillowMob will turn the face (or whatever) into a cushion. Like so…

 

 

Copyright issues permitting, I’m thinking of furnishing my apartment with a Liam Neeson, a Don Draper, a cupcake, a bowl of gelato and maybe a Sharpei puppy, because they’re funny. The possibilities are endless – and imagine the fright you could give someone by sending them a giant cushion of your face in the post…I’m off to write my list – if you’re on that list and you read this blog, please act surprised when you receive your pillow face! You can check out the Pillow Mob website here.

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Light it up

Sarah Turner in the UK makes incredible works of art. The fact that they’re also functional lights to hang from your wall or ceiling is just a bonus. And then they’re made from recycled materials, which is pretty much the cherry on top of the icing on the cake.

Here is Ella – over 1 metre wide, this amazing chandelier is made from 310 plastic drink bottles. Sarah says that she collected the bottles from local cafes and homes, cleaned them and sandblasted them to turn white. Ella got her name from her umbrella-like shape. Isn’t she pretty?

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And here’s Sprite 10, a table lamp made from ten old Sprite bottles. Morphed into an unrecognisable beautiful floral design. The lamp comes in traditional green, or the sugar-free blueness of Sprite Zero bottles.

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Daisy is another one of my favourites – again, made from sandblasted drink bottles and available in a wide range of colours.

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And another stunner – Cola 30 is made out of 30 recycled 1.25 litre Coke bottles. I try not to think too much about the sugar that was consumed to create this sweeeeet design. At least the people who drank the contents of the bottles were technically contributing to the greater good of Sarah’s amazing upcycling into art. And it’s almost impossible to tell at a glance what this ceiling light is made from, which makes it easier to forget about the source!

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You can check out more of Sarah Turner’s amazing work on her website here and these and many others are available for purchase (wherever you are in the world) in her etsy shop here. Love your work, Sarah!

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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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Wax on, wax off

A candle can make a lovely gift – but some people think they’re a little ho hum. Unless, of course, it’s a Man Candle. Or maybe one of these candles – something tells me you won’t find these in every homewares store in the village…

This ‘Thing’ hand candle is eerily life-like. Yes, yes, you can apparently ‘see every wrinkle and vein’, but even better (or worse, depending on your feelings about burning hands), as the candle burns, red wax oozes from the wrist. Uh huh. How’s that for a conversation stopper at your next dinner party? It’s made by JohnnyBWilde in the UK and you can check it out on etsy here.

And here’s another candle I don’t quite understand – it’s a wedding dress. Presumably, if you’ve had a lovely wedding day, you wouldn’t want to set fire to a pretty white wedding dress (even if it is made of wax)? Perhaps it’s for a runaway bride to light to celebrate her escape. Or for bachelors everywhere to send a subliminal message to their lady of the moment that there will be no trip down the aisle. It was featured in a candle post a while back on urlesque here.

I love this Lego candle best of all. It looks as though it’d be long-lasting, although in fairness I’m not sure about the scale. I love it,as long as the people can be removed before you light the eight wicks on the brick – I don’t fancy seeing those three little people melting down as they can’t handle the heat. That’s not right at all. This was shown on Smashing Lists here.

Last, but not least, is the candle range from Hotwicks. Made in the USA, the range includes delicate scents such as Beer, Campfire, Leather, Sawdust and Whiskey. Oh, and Stripper and Urinal Cake. Uh huh. Somewhat tame in comparison, but still just as baffling, here is the Bacon flavoured candle. You can check out the range here.

This collection of bizarro candles just proves my theory that there really is a market for everything. And with that, I’m off to make my own range of candles – That’s My Boy, a stinky aroma of socks, wet towels & other signature scents, to soothe empty nesters who are missing their sons; Dry July, a treat for anyone giving up alcohol, it releases vapours of vino into the air (after all, the rules don’t say anything about inhaling alcohol); and Kardashian, a sickly sweet candle, with a combination of over the top scents competing for your attention – a minute after lighting this, you’ll be forced to switch off reality tv, blow out the candle and get out into the real world for a breath of fresh air. If you’d like to contribute to the EverydaySparks Candle Collection, please get in touch to share your ideas…

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Just Dough It?

I first saw this range of fake food (uh huh) for sale on Fab.com and knew that I needed to find out more about it. Apparently, Just Dough It! has been making fake food for more than 15 years, handcrafting most of the “faux food items” featured on their website at their warehouse in Oklahoma.

But wait, is there really a market for fake food? I hear you cry. According to the company’s website, the answer to that would be a big fat YES – their fake foods have been used in several movies and tv shows, as well as stores and homes. Interestingly, they claim Pizza Hut as a company that has used their fake food, but I’m going to leave that one alone.

The range of fake foods is mindblowing – especially when I’m still not entirely sure why people would want to buy fake foods (other than for a display in a shop, when I can appreciate that you don’t want to use, say, real cheese or ice cream in your sunny window display). Basically, it seems if you can make it, they can fake it. (And that’s not a bad tag line for them, if I do say so myself.)

Care for a glass of champagne? Thankfully, it comes ‘with bubbles’ according to the product blurb. And for only $2 extra, you can ‘add condensation to the glass’. Yes, really. Or what about a decadent chocolate martini, complete with ‘chocolate drizzle on glass and chocolate shavings on top’? There is also a delicious looking fake mojito, which I’m sure would prove to be downright annoying on a hot summer’s afternoon.

There’s a fake lamb chop dinner (which looks eerily similar to hospital food – maybe this is where they get it?) and a fake plate of sushi. Fake beer, fake popcorn, fake pretzels, fake chocolate dipped fruit. Everything you need for a fake night in. There are fake ice creams, fake milkshakes, fake cupcakes and even fake chocolate frosted cake with a fake slice removed.

Apparently, you should “use our decorative fake wine, fake beer and decorative bar drinks as food props, or to spruce up your room and give that finished look”. And that gave me an idea. I’m going to buy the fake Old Fashioned (on the rocks, including orange wedge and cherry). Just so I can pretend that Don Draper from Mad Men is somewhere in my apartment.

Fancy fake food? You can check out Just Dough It! for your ‘realistic food and drink replicas’ here. Bon (faux) appetit!

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Pipe dreams

I saw some of Kozo Lamp‘s amazing products on Fab.com and thought they were so cool that I went digging to find out more. Turns out that the company is based in Israel and is the brainchild of David & Anati Shefa – a genuine upcycled lighting brand, made by hand since 2008. The lamps are made from galvanized iron (‘old pipes’ to you and me), which apparently will only rust around the edges over time. They say that the bit of rust gives the lamp “an old era charm”. Here are some of my favourites…

Meet KozoMan. He is a desk lamp and he’s thoughtful – with magnetic hands to hold your keys and little padded feet so he doesn’t scratch your desk. And if you’re meant to be working or studying, I think he looks a little threatening, almost like he’s saying, “you think you’ve earned a break already, do you? DO YOU?” But you retain control, and can dim KozoMan’s light by turning the tap light switch.

And here’s Kozo 2, or KozoPup, as I prefer to call it. Granted, it’s a pup with only three legs, but it would make a cute little companion on your desk. And it won’t run away with your favourite pens. At least, I don’t think it will…

Perhaps you don’t have a very big desk space and you need something even smaller. If so, you might want to consider the Mono desk lamp. I can’t get past the fact that it looks sort of like a lamp being tortured or cramping over in pain. Though maybe that’s just me reading too much into an angled pipe attached to a low base. Maybe.

These are just three of the amazing Kozo Lamps (photos from Fab.com) and you can check out more of the range on the Kozo Lamps website 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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