everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

New jewels

A quick post today…

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget how lucky we are. In the midst of running around and paying bills and cooking dinners and catching buses and shopping and walking and sleeping, you can lose sight of those little everyday sparks that make you smile. So, in case you’re having trouble finding yours, please share mine from yesterday – a beautiful necklace made for me by my five year old niece, Lauren. Yes, that’s a silver Barbie logo and little silver handbag (Carrie Bradshaw, eat your heart out) and there’s a pearl and a shell and too many other good things to mention. And it fits over my head and sits beautifully, like a designer necklace should. Tiffany & Co, look out.

Uh huh.

Uh huh.

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The one about Snoop and the gun bracelets

Ok, so firstly, I need to confess that I didn’t know that Snoop Dogg had changed his name to Snoop Lion. But rest assured, I’ll be looking into it. That aside, I recently saw an interesting post on the Ecouterre website about Snoop Dogg/Lion supporting an MTV initiative to recycle US guns into jewellery. And that sounds like a much better use of the metal to me.

Word, Dogg. Errr, Lion.

Word, Dogg. Errr, Lion.

Jewelry for a Cause is the place where you can buy the limited edition MTV x Caliber bracelet. Here’s how they explain the concept: “The bracelet carries the unique serial number of an illegal firearm turned in to the Newark Police Department during a recent gun buyback. The item is part of the Caliber Collection, a line of jewelry that is made, in part, from the steel of reclaimed illegal guns. Proceeds from each sale of the MTV x Caliber bracelet will be donated to the Newark Police Department to help fund future gun buyback amnesty programs in Newark, NJ.”

The MTV x Caliber limited edition bracelet.

One of the MTV x Caliber limited edition bracelets.

That’s the special MTV bracelet – not really made of recycled guns, but featuring the serial number of a gun that’s no longer on the streets, which is still very cool. But the story is even better for other jewellery in the Caliber Collection – they use actual ‘guns and bullet casings seized by law enforcement’ to make their pieces, some with added diamonds to up the bling factor.

Much prettier than a gun - brass with eight little diamonds (and the number of the Newark gun it came from).

So much prettier – brass with eight little diamonds (and the number of the Newark gun it came from).

You can check out the full Caliber Collection at the Jewelry for a Cause site here.

And back to Ecouterre – if you haven’t checked it out, it’s a pretty interesting site: ‘your online guide to the best ideas, innovations and emerging trends in eco fashion, sustainable style, organic beauty and ethical apparel’. It’s here.

Oh, and if you want to read more about Snoop Lion, his Wikipedia page is here.

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Special gift ideas for your Valentine

Now that the festive season is out of the way, it’s time to move on to the next exploitable holiday in the calendar – Valentine’s Day. Now let me just state for the record that, even though I don’t have a Valentine (waaa waaa), I still think that the idea of celebrating love and giving thoughtful trinkets is a fabulous thing. But, I fear that many poor saps get trapped by savvy marketers and become convinced that if you love someone, then this is the day you must step up and show them. Preferably on a grand scale and the more public the declaration of love, the better.

I do worry about those romantic fools, hoodwinked into spending too much money on questionable jewellery, giant I WUV U bears, scent-less roses that have magically tripled in price, dinner accompanied by the soothing sounds of the piano accordion. That sort of thing. Never fear though, I have scoured etsy and come up with some great gift ideas for your Valentine – gifts that won’t break the bank, cause offence or mis-spell love. You’re welcome.

Firstly, from Crafted Cookies, a pair of very cute sweet treats for Valentines. Or for police to give to criminals out on parole. Or for teachers to give the naughtiest kid in the class. Or for creepy Valentines-from-a-distance (I think the technical name is ‘peeping toms’) to give the object of their affection. It just works on so many levels.

I love you. So look out.

I love you. So look out.

I actually really like this next one, a cool necklace from A Charmed Impression. But I do have to question their chosen model in the promo pic, given its inclusion in the Valentine’s Day collection…(To be fair, Katie’s necklace does appear to feature an ‘S’ for Suri (I presume it’s not for Scientology, anyways) rather than a ‘T’ for Tom.)

Valentine Schmalentine says Joey from Dawson's Creek.

Valentine Schmalentine says Joey from Dawson’s Creek.

And another idea that I like, but question their photo choice for the Valentine’s Day collection, comes from Jubile Jewel. They are sterling silver initial earrings, which make a lovely romantic gift for your special someone. But could result in some mis-communication or a fight if your beloved happens to be called Fred Ulrich. Or Fanny Underwood.

Not quite the romantic sentiment you were after...

Maybe not quite the romantic sentiment you were after…

Another interesting gift for your sweetheart comes from Plantables & Paper. It’s a love letter kit, which apparently provides you with 50 small cards with a typed intro on each, to get your romantic sonnets flowing. Although this one in the picture does feel more like it’s leading you to put an expiry date on it. If that’s something that you want to convey, maybe Valentine’s Day isn’t quite the time to do it. But when the time is right, if you use this card, it will definitely seem like a smoother delivery of a much nicer message. Of course, I take no responsibility if that presumption turns out to be false and you sustain an injury.

15 February 2013. At least.

15 February 2013. At least.

And I couldn’t resist sharing this personalised ceramic mug from 39 Cups. Perfect for a Valentine who’s a bit of a geek or a word-nerd. And we all know there’s nothing AT ALL wrong with that. It’s a word search, hand-painted onto a mug, with four words circled – your Valentine’s name, plus three words that describe them. Please note that each of the three descriptive words has to be 10 letters or less though, so it’s too bad if your man is really multi-faceted, or your lady is simply extraordinary. 

This mug appears to be for Ashley - a sexy & stylish skater. Uh huh.

This mug appears to be for Ashley – a sexy & stylish skater. Uh huh.

Well, that’s plenty of Valentine’s Day fodder for you right there, so I’ll stop now. But I do reserve the right to publish some more pre-Valentine’s Day posts if I discover other gifts for your consideration. Or if you find any true gems that I can share, please email me!

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Pop goes the weasel

Hello, I’m Cate and I am globophobic. No, I am not afraid of the globe – I’m afraid of…balloons. It’s not a glamorous fear, I know – and I am thankful that it has an actual name, rather than being tucked away in the ‘weirdo’ section of the psychology handbook. Granted, it’s known to psychologists as an ‘uncommon phobia’, but I say why settle for a boring old fear of heights or flying, when I can have an uncommon phobia? Even if it is mocked by small children and adults alike.

According to Dr Google, I should be able to trace my fear to a traumatic event. But since balloons are mostly associated with happy parties in my memory, I am not sure where it started. I do remember hating those games where you had to pop the balloons to get a prize, but I don’t think they messed with my head any more than an egg & spoon race or pinning the tail on that poor donkey.

After childhood, there was a blissful mostly-balloon-free decade or so, then my beloved nieces and nephew came along and the balloons reappeared. At parties, from shopping centres, with showbags. Pop! Pop! Pop! But my family knows that I am a balloon hater, so they try not to use them very often. And my nieces – bless ’em – usually shepherd any stray balloons out of the room when I come in. So now I mostly just have to dodge the balloons in shopping centres (why oh why can’t stores just give out pens or ipads or gold bars as promotional tools these days?). You might have seen me, ducking and weaving to get away from a balloon in a shopping trolley, or a balloon being held too close to the ground by a little kid, or a balloon coming into contact with something sharp. I know, I know.

One day last year, I went to work in the city office of the insurance company I was with at the time. I was just expecting an ordinary day in the HR bearpit. But when the security door opened and I walked on to the floor, across the wide span of a football field of open-plan workstations, there was a sight to be seen. Hell had come to the office overnight – in the form of hundreds of helium balloons tied to ribbons, hovering over every desk. Before the first pop, I reminded my team mate of my fear and he kindly moved the closest balloons, but they lurked not too far away and kept bobbing about, getting closer and closer as the day wore on, like a pack of hyenas. I am not sure how I survived, but the psychologists in our team (it’s HR, so there were a few) said that I had participated in ‘exposure therapy’ and that I should actually thank the balloon deliverers for helping me to overcome my fear. Not only for the balloons, but I do not work there anymore.

So, when I saw this piece of furniture on the fabulous Umbra site recently, I thought that perhaps I should buy it and continue my ‘exposure therapy’ via this cool stool. Designed by young Canadian designer Natalie Kruch, the Balloona stool features over 500 brightly coloured balloons tied onto solid wood. It looks funky and not too intimidating, so I will think about it…(You can check it out here.)

Or there’s this beautiful balloon necklace, made by Nokike in Florence. These balloons look too cute to be scary – and if new jewellery can help conquer my fears, then I reckon this ‘exposure therapy’ might be a good idea after all. (Necklace is here.)

Of course, another option is to move into an inflatable house, like this one. Now, that would be confronting my fears.

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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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Just add sprinkles

I am not embarrassed to say that I like sprinkles. I am not sure of the chemical process involved, but somehow, adding brightly coloured bits of sugar to your ice cream, cake, cappucino froth, or even just a piece of bread and butter turns it from ho-hum into an exciting party.

Which is why I was so pleased to find these sprinkle covered heels on etsy. Made by the clever people at MerloDesigns in the USA, these sweet shoes will liven up any outfit. But you probably shouldn’t wear them out on the town in the rain, just to be on the safe side. Although apparently, “the candy is 100% real, but 100% inedible! That’s right, these little guys have been glued and sealed to keep ants, mice, and other curious critters off your toes!” See, pretty and practical! You can check them out here.

Or there’s this fabulous rainbow resin bangle made by Nicola Williams in the UK – available from her etsy shop Made By Daisy here. Handmade to order, this beauty would make a great gift for any lass – although it will probably prove endlessly frustrating to hungry toddlers.

For summertime fun, you might like this 100s and 1000s giant inflatable Havaianas thong. Once you’ve blown it up, it’s 1.65m long and 65cm wide. Apparently it comes with a matching carry case. Surely it’s gotta be worth buying a pair, if only to scare other people at the beach or pool into thinking there are giants around. They are available at the Havaianas website.

Or for a slightly different take on art, here’s a piece by Joel Brochu – a recreation of a photograph of a dog getting washed. A recreation MADE OF SPRINKLES. Yep, for a Fine Arts project at university, Joel used jewellery tweezers to place each of the 221,184 sprinkles to form the image. Incredible. You can read more about this amazing artwork at My Modern Met.

And now, I’m off to make some fairy bread, with extra sprinkles.

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Geek up your jewellery collection

A short while ago, I posted on the phenomenon of ear cuffs, which were fashion news to me. Then as I was browsing through the Think Geek online store (uh huh), I saw it: the Dragon Ear Wrap. Let’s be clear, the Dragon is to the standard ear cuffs what the Kardashians are to the Brady Bunch – bigger, more outrageous and a whole lot crazier. And don’t worry, the Dragon just looks as though it is permanently attached – it really clips to the top of your ear and then you wear the tail like a normal earring. Yes, just like a normal earring.

Or perhaps a scrolling LED belt buckle is more your style. It can store up to five messages, so you might want to pre-program it for a night out on the town and then you won’t have to worry about shouting over that pesky loud music – just point down to your buckle and let your belt do the talking.

For the old school geek, there’s a sundial ring. Apparently it works – although why you wouldn’t wear a watch or check your phone is beyond me. It seems very complicated and presumably much time passes you by as you fiddle with the dial to calculate the time of day. And what if it’s a cloudy day? Or you want to know how long to wait ’til the last bus home in the evening? You’ve been warned, my friends.

Or for less than $20, you could go back to a time when the concept of a wearable device that told the time and could add up the cost of your comics and lollies was MINDBLOWING. Yes, the Casio calculator watch is back and is sure to wow the kids of today. Or at least confuse them even more about that mythical time before iphones and Wiis.

If you would like to check out more geeky gear, then Think Geek is the place for you. There’s a lot there that goes way over my head, but if you’re down with maths and computers, or even if you just like weird stuff, it’s worth a look!

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A bit of geekery

A confession – I’m not really all that cool. I like gadgets, good spelling and other things that I guess could be described as ‘geeky’. So it should make me happy to know that I’m not alone – and my measure for that is of course the most popular craft marketplace in the world, etsy. There is a whole category of ‘Geekery’, featuring nearly 118,000 items, catering to crafty geeks (or crafty people who know and love geeks) across the globe. But I found a lot of the geekery to be kinda scary. Here are some highlights…Cool kids, consider yourselves warned.

For the geeky home accessory, or if you’re after a romantic trip down memory lane, here’s an Etch-a-Sketch cushion for your beloved. Sure, the white knobs don’t actually work and you can’t shake it to erase and start again, but the writing is still as wonky as the real thing. Part of a collection of geekery made by Cindy and Randy Green, this is one of the few things in their Yellow Bug Boutique that I actually ‘get’. They have a lot of chemical and periodic table type gags (!), but I’m afraid the memory of struggling through high school Chem classes means that I’ll never find that stuff funny. (I do also like this black & white cushion in their shop, but I think it would bug me too much to have it lying around. Which, come to think of it, is maybe why I need it.)

If you’re a Dr Who fan, you might appreciate this Tardis beanie (more than I do). The Gromidez shop also has other beanies that might appeal to geeks – including these cute and colourful numbers modelled on those ghosts in PacMan. And some other Pokemon things, which I am far too old to understand. The shop also sells a cool SpiderMan web blanket, just in case you’ve been looking for one to complement your new lounge.

Or maybe you’re looking for some geeky jewellery that also serves a practical purpose. If so, apparently you will really like the BitofSugar shop. Who knew that beautiful Hawaii could be a hotbed for so much geekery? They sell this ‘Zombie Antidote’ necklace, by asking: Are you preparing for the eminent zombie invasion/apocalypse? If you answered “yes,” this zombie antidote necklace is the most important component of your stockpile. Ah, the old marketing technique of scare tactics, gets ’em every time. But in a somewhat evil twist, they also sell a ‘Zombie Virus’ necklace, thereby cleverly creating the zombie virus market of supply and demand. Genius.

I’ve only scratched the surface of Geekery, but if you’d like to see more, you should check out etsy. If the cushions are to your liking, the Yellow Bug Boutique is here, and the beanies can be found at the Gromidez shop here, while the zombie antidote (and virus, if you’re so inclined) are for sale at BitofSugar here.

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Let’s ear it for cuffs

There’s a lot about fashion that I don’t understand. The whole concept of ‘ear cuffs’ would be an example of something that I just don’t get. They sound painful, like you’re punishing your ears for doing something wrong. But they must be popular, as there are 159 pages of them on etsy. (And, no, they’re not all made by the same person.)

In case you’re not familiar with ear cuffs either, they are different to conventional earrings, as they wrap around bits of your ear without piercings. So you can easily swap to a different ear cuff to suit your mood. I have provided a selection for you to consider here. And may I say, it has been kinda creepy to look at so many photos of ears – not our prettiest feature, that’s for sure.

I call the first cuff, “Wait, can you hear a peacock?” and it is made by Anna in London. For $31 you can buy your own and freak people out as you wait at the bus stop. Or you might prefer the spiky cuff that Anna has for sale for $18 – this one would come in handy if you are trying to tone down your punk rocker look at work (or if you are trying to convince people you are actually part-human, part-machine).

And then there is this gold number, apparently inspired by the movie Labyrinth and made by ravenevejewelry in Detroit. To my uncultured eye, it appears that a fancy bird has taken up residence on this lady’s ear. Either that, or the aliens have vistied and are using her ear to transmit messages back to the mothership.

Or maybe you’d prefer a bronze octopus crawling on your ear, from martymagic in Santa Cruz. I’m just not sure how comfortable it would be to have those tentacles tickling your ear all day and am sure your Granny would try to bat it away as with any other eight legged creature crawling on your ear. Eeeeek.

But I think my favourite would have to be this black & white feathered number by Mariya in Russia. It’s pricey at $90, but will surely keep you cool in summer and if anyone wants to start an impromptu badminton game, unclip the cuff and away you go.

With Mother’s Day coming up in many parts of the world, I’m sure it goes without saying that any of these would make a great gift for the mothers and grandmothers in your life. And I reckon you shouldn’t limit the cuff’s potential by explaining where it is meant to go – hours of fun as Mum and Granny Mac smile politely and try to work out if they’ve been given a brooch or a duster or some sort of new ipod accessory… You’re welcome!

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St Patrick’s Day, every day

And a very happy St Patrick’s Day to you. With so many cheesy Paddy’s Day products around, I struggled to pick one to feature today. But I settled on this.  Its full title: St Patrick’s Day Necklace – Tiny Terrarium with Lucky Liam the Leprechaun – Irish. It’s a mouthful, to be sure, but it’s also a pretty cool way to carry St Patrick’s Day around with you every day. Or just on those days when you fancy the company of a tiny polymer clay leprechaun tucked into a bush of preserved moss, stuffed into a little glass jar, corked and strung onto a necklace. Which, let’s face it, is probably every day.

I love St Patrick’s Day and I especially love the way that everyone seems to find some otherwise hidden Irish connection that entitles them to join in the celebrations. It’s a great day to catch up with friends, maybe drink some green beer and eat some green sausages if so inclined, tell some tall tales, listen to music and generally have a good time.

Whether you’re Irish or not, that’s a pretty great way to spend a day.  And even though it’s not a holiday outside of Ireland, it is a Saturday this year, so get craic’n and have a wonderful day.

(And if you’re totally taken by Liam the Leprechaun in his tiny terrarium, wander the website of Messy’s madness on etsy.)

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