everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

Do you wanna see a mermaid?

I am not entirely sure how I found out about the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in Florida. But it is now on my bucket list. Would that be because it is, “one of the deepest, naturally formed underwater caverns in the U.S.”? Maybe for some people. Or because of its super catchy name, which means, “little spring” or “winding river”? Not really, to be honest. It’s actually because it is, “THE ONLY CITY OF LIVE MERMAIDS!” (or so they say on their website).

Yesteryear Mermaids

Apparently it all started back in 1946, with a former Navy guy called Newton Perry, who trained SEALs (the Navy ones, not the ones who do tricks and catch fish) to swim underwater in World War II. No notes on whether he was a mermaid/merman, but apparently he, “scouted out Weeki Wachee as a good site for a new business”. And then he invented a method for humans to breathe underwater via oxygen hoses connected to an air compressor (so it could look like humans were, “thriving twenty feet underwater with no breathing apparatus”. Genius.

Then he built an 18 seat theatre into limestone, six feet below the water’s surface. And then? Well, I can’t paraphrase, as I won’t do it justice: “Newt scouted out pretty girls and trained them to swim with air hoses and smile at the same time. He taught them to drink Grapette, a non-carbonated beverage, eat bananas underwater and do aquatic ballets.” AMAZING.

And so the mermaid show drew large crowds and was quite the place to visit in the 1950s (even Elvis stopped by). And then in the 1980s they opened a water theme park and beach. Then in the 1990s they started the popular “Mermaids of Yesteryear” shows. Apparently, the former mermaids’ motto is, “Once a mermaid, always a mermaid”.

Not convinced? Then have a look at some of these amazing mermaids from the “Mermaid Roster” on the site (which is almost too good to be true)…

MermaidStayce

Don’t be surprised if Mermaid Stayce beats you in Candy Crush.”

MermaidCrystal

“Mermaid Crystal enjoys track & field and is always up for a game of Trivia Crack.” 

MermaidBrittany

“You can find Mermaid Brittany hunting when she’s not performing.”

I salute you, Newton Perry, for your fabulous vision. And you too, multi-talented mermaids. I very much hope to see the mermaid show for myself one day (they are open 365 days a year, fyi). [I did check out the ‘Careers’ section of the website – no current requirements for additional mermaids.] “Being a mermaid is a magical job. As the mermaids sing in The Little Mermaid show: 

We’re not like other women,
We don’t have to clean an oven
And we never will grow old,
We’ve got the world by the tail!”

Sing it, sisters. [You can check out the website here.]

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Well, hello kitty

It’s winter time in Australia now, and for Melbourne, that means some colder temperatures than I’ve been used to as a Sydney-sider. Which I don’t actually mind at all – it’s a great excuse to wear lots of layers with faux fur trimmings and to watch tv under a crocheted nanna blanket. And maybe even wear a beanie, although I’m still not sure beanies really make anyone look that great.

Well, I did think that, until I rediscovered the etsy store ToScarboroughFair. Now, I’m not a crazy cat lady, but I don’t judge you if you are. And why shouldn’t cats be able to style up their looks like humans – maybe without the faux fur trimmings, as that would be a bit creepy, but with a beanie or little hat, especially as the weather gets cold. Here are some of my favourites. You’re welcome.

catberet

Bonjour. [image from ToScarboroughFair]

catcap

A round of golf, you say? [image from ToScarboroughFair]

catbeanie

Chillin’. [image from ToScarboroughFair]

catrasta

Rasta cat. [image from ToScarboroughFair]

cattophat

Seriously? [image from ToScarboroughFair]

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Sweet as, bro

One of the joys of not working at the moment is time to do things. All sorts of things, really. Like on Monday, when it was a nice sunny day in Melbourne and I got to walk to the beach and sit on a bench and read a magazine. Sure, I was wearing four layers and had my hoodie on, because Melbourne winter. But it’s so nice to have the time to do stuff like that.

Elwood

Yesterday I had a meeting in the city, and then dinner with some lovely work friends, and I had a few hours to fill in between the two. I wandered around a bit, which wasn’t super fun in the rain, so thought I’d go and see a movie. As you might imagine, there aren’t that many people at the cinema mid-afternoon on a Tuesday. Let’s just say the average age of folks there was 60ish.

What were my old mates and I seeing? A New Zealand film, recommended by my mum and dad, called Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Hunt for the what now? I know, it is a strange title alright, but it is actually a lovely heartwarming film featuring Sam Neill (as his regular character of Cranky Old Man) and a rotund little Kiwi chappie. It was pretty funny and a little bit sad and had some truly stunning images of NZ in all its natural beauty.

As I am committed to research for this blog (and I have the time to google nonsense), I just discovered that apparently the movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year, which is a pretty big deal. And after it opened in NZ in March, it’s become the highest grossing locally-produced film OF ALL TIME. Which is also a pretty big deal.

It’s not going to win any Oscars, I don’t think. But I thought it was a great movie – especially if you’re having a crappy time or need some lighthearted entertainment, this film could be just the thing. Cool accents, beautiful scenery, and a lovely, feelgood story. And I can’t get the “Ricky Baker” song out of my head now (it’s in the trailer, below). Sweet as, bro.

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Some snaps from WA

Greetings from here, the sunny south west of Western Australia. Rather than document the picture-perfect scenery, I thought I’d share some other snaps from WA. Not ones that you’ll be seeing in the tourist guidebooks any time soon, but I think they provide an important insight into some aspects of life in the west.

Supermarket elves pre-peel the onions here

Naked onions.

Naked onions.

Customised car license plates are very big here

Hey

Mrs

Even churches put wacky Christmas ads in the local paper here

Uh huh.

Uh huh.

So, there you go. There’s so much more to this stunningly beautiful part of the world than the incredible beaches, wine and food. You’re welcome!

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Accessorising with Animals

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I love finding quirky gift ideas to help you with presents for those tricky-to-buy-for people in your life. And when I saw this series of items, I just had to share. Whether someone really loves animals, or isn’t allowed to have real pets in their apartment, or is a stressed-out big-wig Exec VP GM CFO OMG, or just needs a funky carrying device, I present to you some of the highlights from Ben Tsang’s etsy shop: BENWINEWIN. (And I have to say that any shop that has wine and win in its name has already got me.)

"Brown Cat Bag" includes cat-like straps.  [image from BENWINEWIN]

Well, hello kitty! “Brown Cat Bag” includes cat-like straps, apparently.
[image from BENWINEWIN]

I feel like this Panda Purse would help to save money. The guilt trip from those sad eyes will keep the zipper closed tight. [image from BENWINEWIN]

I feel like this Panda Purse would help to save money. The guilt trip from those sad eyes: do you really need those expensive shoes? Will you really wear that hat again? Are the sequins really a wardrobe staple? Got bamboo?
[image from BENWINEWIN]

This owl cushion is basically the soft furnishing equivalent of a menacing whisper: YOU'RE ALWAYS BEING WATCHED.

This owl cushion is basically a menacing whisper: YOU’RE ALWAYS BEING WATCHED.
[image from BENWINEWIN]

The Pomeranian. Happiest dog-bag in the world. [image from BENWINEWIN]

The Pomeranian. Happiest dog-bag in the world.
[image from BENWINEWIN]

And my personal favourite…

Because everyone needs a giant raccoon by their side. [image from BENWINEWIN]

Because everyone needs a giant raccoon by their side.
[image from BENWINEWIN]

I hope you like these as much as I did – and please feel free to share this post with any friends who might also like what BENWINEWIN does. And if you needed another reason to visit the shop, Ben Tsang also takes custom orders…so you can carry your little Pixie or Spot or Roger (the raccoon, obviously) everywhere you go. You’re welcome!

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Things With Faces

I like things with faces. Animals, people, watches – those kinds of things. Nothing strange about that, I’m sure. But I really like spotting unexpected things with faces – in nature, or on inanimate objects like doors or street signs or pieces of toast.

Many years ago, I found a photography book made up entirely of images of faces in unexpected places and I was excited to know that there was at least one other person who shared my interest. And now, thanks to Facebook, I know that there are at least 63,976 people around the world who also like things with faces. Because there’s a Facebook page called Things with Faces. Their tag line is Admit it, you see a face. And it’s a very good page to look at if you need a giggle.

Time's up. [image from Things with Faces Facebook page]

Time’s up.
[image from Things with Faces Facebook page]

Say cheese. [image from Things with Faces Facebook page]

Say cheese.
[image from Things with Faces Facebook page]

Surprise! [image from Things with Faces Facebook page]

Surprise!
[image from Things with Faces Facebook page]

ET, in ice cream form.  [image from Things with Faces Facebook page]

ET, in ice cream form.
[image from Things with Faces Facebook page]

Happiness in a cup. [image from Things with Faces Facebook page]

Happiness in a cup.
[image from Things with Faces Facebook page]

And finally, one of my favourites.

[image from Things with Faces Facebook page]

[image from Things with Faces Facebook page]

If you’re on Facebook, I strongly suggest that you check out the Things with Faces page. (Oh, and while you’re there, you might want to like the EverydaySparks page too!) If you’re not on Facebook, you can always google ‘things with faces’ to find similar collections of pics. And when you’re out and about, remember to keep alert – THEY ARE ALWAYS WATCHING.

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An EverydaySparks Christmas – the tree

Let me start with a bit of a heads-up: I looooove the festive season. From Thanksgiving through to Christmas and then the wind-down after that, when it feels as though everyone slows down a bit to enjoy the summer (here in Australia, that is). Oh, the thrill of getting a parking spot when the shopping centre is packed; the smell of the fruit cakes baking in the oven (my mum’s); the playing of the Christmas tunes (at this time, I even accept Mariah Carey); the wrapping of the gifts; the popping of the champagne corks; the squeals of delight from the little people; and, of course, the decorating of the tree.

I love decorating my tree. It’s a fakey-fake tree, but its creators have tried hard to make its ‘trunk’ and ‘branches’ look as realistic as possible. Which is pretty funny, because there are large brackets along the trunk where you need to insert the branches – that kind of gives the game away. Although they have painted the brackets brown, like the trunk, so I do appreciate their efforts to keep it real. I have a fair few decorations that I have collected over the years on my travels, so I’m pretty much in a dream world as I crank up the carols and take the memories out of their boxes.

Most of the decorations make me smile, some make me a bit teary, others blind me with their bling (ok, so I have some small disco ball decorations on the tree, just because). But there are two decorations that make me laugh out loud every year (or LOLEY, the cool kids might say) and as I put my tree up yesterday, I thought I would share them with you here.

The Christmas sushi was a gift from my sister-in-law Jo a few years back – a sign that she knows me well (I really dislike sushi, but I love crazy glittery decorations, the more ridiculous the better). And the Christmas pickle is from New York – I couldn’t resist its bright green colouring, with a mysterious golden sheen. It just looks so bizarre. Apparently it’s based on a German tradition to put a real pickle on the tree. I’m not sure about that tradition and so, especially in the summer heat, I’ll stick with this more magical version.

Here they are…

This pic doesn't adequately capture the true sparkle of the sushi ingredients, but you get the idea. LOLEY.

This pic doesn’t adequately capture the true sparkle of the sushi ingredients, but you get the idea. LOLEY.

The pickle (and a bit of a disco ball on the side there). Every tree should have one!

The pickle (and a bit of a disco ball on the side there). Every tree should have one!

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Friday Fotos: Mr Button and friends

I’ll keep this short and sweet, but I couldn’t resist sharing these fantastic Mr Buttons – made by John Caswell in the UK and featured on the Frankie magazine blog this week. Now THIS is a way to add personality to your clothes. When I had a look at his online shop, I found that John also makes Mr Switch, to give boring old light switches some character. Oh, and Handy Ruler is pretty cool too.

[image from http://johncaswelldesign.bigcartel.com]

Naked Mr Button(s)
[image from johncaswelldesign.bigcartel.com]

Looking good, Mr Button(s) [image from www.frankie.com.au]

Looking good, Mr Button(s) – even the cranky green one
[image from frankie.com.au]

Mr Switch [image fromhttp://johncaswelldesign.bigcartel.com]

Mr Switch
[image from johncaswelldesign.bigcartel.com]

Handy Ruler [image fromhttp://johncaswelldesign.bigcartel.com]

Handy Ruler
[image from johncaswelldesign.bigcartel.com]

If you want to see more, you can check out the Frankie blog here and John Caswell’s online shop here.

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The Pancake Man

This post was made possible by our EverydaySparks correspondent in Dublin (aka my Irish sista Aoife), who somehow stumbled across this site and thought I might like it. And I do. A great find, thanks AB!

The site in question is Jim’s Pancakes and I was pretty impressed by the home page header alone, where Jim has taken word art to a whole new level and made his site name out of little pancakes. Then there’s the understated tag line: ‘just trying to make some cool pancakes for my daughter’. And that’s what he did…

Jim made Star Wars pancakes:

20130626-113346.jpg

Jim made a romantic gift box pancake stack for his wife:

pancakegiftJim made candy cane pancakes for Christmas:

pancakecandycane

Jim made a burger and fries pancake extravaganza:

pancakeburger

And probably my favourite. Jim’s bling pancakes – a whole chain of pancakes worthy of any sweet rhymin’ rapper.

PancakeBlingYou can check out Jim’s Pancakes here and if you’re feeling particularly inspired, Jim has a book for sale, with a very exciting title: OMG PANCAKES!

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Stickmen

I was going through my bookshelves recently and noticed this little book, which I hadn’t looked at for a while. It’s called STICKMEN by Peter Vegas and I can’t remember where I bought it, probably one of those impulse buys at the counter of a book shop (so it must be old – remember book shops?)… Flicking through it still made me smile, so I thought I’d share some of my favourites with you today.

[From Stickmen, by Peter Vegas]

[From Stickmen, by Peter Vegas]

[From Stickmen, by Peter Vegas]

[From Stickmen, by Peter Vegas]

[From Stickmen, by Peter Vegas]

[From Stickmen, by Peter Vegas]

[From Stickmen, by Peter Vegas]

[From Stickmen, by Peter Vegas]

[From Stickmen, by Peter Vegas]

[From Stickmen, by Peter Vegas]

And there are plenty more where those came from – I just did a quick search and it seems that Peter Vegas is a Kiwi who works in advertising and has written a few different Stickmen books in his spare time. They’re simple, they’re quirky and I think they’re great. Hooray for Stickmen!

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