Posted in Home sparks, Sparky gifts

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.

Posted in Food sparks, Home sparks

Pass the salt

Most of us have salt and pepper shakers stashed away somewhere in our cupboards, which we bring out for special occasions or visits from in-laws. Some are pretty fancy – motorised pepper grinders made by car manufacturers, expensive salt shakers that light up (in case you were dining in the dark), hand carved wooden pairs, or stainless steel pieces that could be mistaken for modern art sculptures. But I say boo to your fancy salt and pepper shakers that are too good to use every day. Here are some inspiring salt and pepper shakers that will have you seasoning everything from your breakfast to your milkshakes, just to give you an excuse to get out these beauties…

First, baby legs. Yes, that’s right – these ceramic baby legs are actually salt and pepper shakers. Apparently, they are guaranteed to be the talk of your baby shower party table, but I say don’t stop there – these babies should be out and about at every opportunity. Sprinkle salt on your potatoes with the baby’s left foot, and a little pepper for your steak with the baby’s right foot. And when the legs are running low, just remove the stoppers in the baby’s thighs and fill ’em up! Or if you’d prefer, there are ceramic baby hands salt and pepper shakers in the collection. Maybe just buy both and complete the set with a ceramic doll to store your dried herbs? Creepy.

Continuing on the baby theme, here are Baby Puddin’ heads, which also take care of your salt and pepper needs. I am not sure that you could keep any of these on the table during dinner without scaring your guests. But then, I don’t really know your friends that well, perhaps they already have these in their kitchen! These are all from the Modern fx store on etsy, along with some other perculiar salt and pepper shakers – featuring Colonel Sanders of KFC fame, JFK and Jesus. But I’ll leave you to look for those if they sound like your thing.

These two ladies are apparently a darling set of vintage Holt Howard salt and pepper shakers from the “Daisy ‘Dorables” line. They are a pair of blonde pony-tailed girls holding large daisy flowers in front of their faces. Maybe it’s just me, but I think they’re a bit shifty looking. And I would be worried that they’re sitting on the table, listening to all the conversations and gossiping about us behind their giant daisies. You can check them out at Gizmo & HooHa, the vintage emporium.

I prefer these cute little guys from SuperRetroChic – they look like something out of Super Mario Bros and would definitely brighten up the table, without freaking out your dinner companions. Unless, of course, you are dining with Super Mario and Luigi, in which case, they will probably try to smash these with a hammer or something.

But now, to finish with my favourites – vintage Mr Peanut salt and pepper shakers. They’re not in perfect condition, but they make me laugh. And if they can still dispense salt and pepper after all this time, with their top hats and canes, I say these will add a touch of class to any home. Ye olde peanuts are available from Olde Tyme Memories on etsy.

Who knew there could be so much variety in the world of salt and pepper shakers? Not me. But I may well start collectin’. And with 110 pages of them on etsy, you mightn’t have heard the last of these table toppers…

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!

Posted in Arty sparks, Home sparks

Bonjour, stylish kitchen!

They’re not called ‘whitegoods’ for nothing. Kitchen appliances, while practical, can be kinda boring. (Except if you live in my apartment, where the previous owners were so funky that they matched the fridge and dishwasher with the glossy blue laminated cupboards and drawers. That’s a whole lotta blue, I tell you.) Anyways, I say boo to boring kitchen appliances – and hello to these fabulous dishwasher and fridge decals by the clever French folk at ADzif, recently featured on Fab.com.

If you’re looking to expand your cooking space into a serene wonderland with beautiful images of nature, you might like the green leaf fridge decal. Or the tricky pile o’ logs photo. Laugh as visitors to your home try to work out how you’ve managed to turn your humble refrigerator into a portal to the forest.

Or perhaps you’re more of a city person and you want to recreate the hustle and bustle of New York City on your dishwasher or fridge. These decals are big enough to have you sitting on the floor in your kitchen, imagining you were really there. In which case, you might also want to buy a soundtrack of honking taxis, emergency vehicle sirens, shouting people, a subway rapper impersonating Jay Z, and someone yelling, “HOT DOGS”.

Or if you’re fancier than me and prefer to say bonjour to your dishes, you might like this Parisian dishwasher decal. They also have a Parisian fridge decal, but this is my blog and I prefer New York to Paris, so you can check out the website if you’re interested in all things Frenchy. (The default ADzif website is actually written in French, so you’ll love it!)

I think these are a brilliant idea – they can be cut to size with your trusty scissors, they can be removed without leaving marks (but can’t be reused). For less than $70 for a fridge and less than $50 for a dishwasher, a trip to Paris, New York or the forest has never been cheaper. (Unless you actually live in Paris, New York or a forest, I guess.)

My pick? Thanks for asking. It’s this fabulous image of my favourite part of Times Square, where the overwhelming tackiness of all those lights is replaced by street furniture that’s reminiscent of a cobbled European side street. In the middle of such a busy city. Love ya, New York.

If you like these, there are plenty more amazing decals on the French website of ADzif. These images are from Fab.com and I couldn’t find all of them on the ADzif website (the dishwashers and my favourite fridge decal were missing), but maybe I need to brush up on my high school French and have another look. Toute de suite!