everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

Something Fishy

Have you ever had a fish as a pet and thought, gee, you’re lazy? Or have you imagined your fish being capable of so much more than just swimming ’round and ’round the bowl, with the occasional detour through the fake castle or the fake volcano? Well, check this out. I first saw it on Fab.com – it’s the R2 Fish School: the complete kit to teach your fish amazing tricks. Uh huh.

Your Fish School kit comes with an instructional DVD, over 20 training bits, feeding wand and an instructional manual. Crikey, sounds complicated. But it would be worth it to see your fish performing cool feats to impress your family and friends. Wouldn’t it?

Apparently Dr Dean and his son Kyle developed this idea while they pursued their peculiar hobby of training fish to perform tricks. Yes, really. They found out that fish are smarter than we think, so they got in cahoots with the good people of R2 Solutions and – hey presto, the Fish School was born.

According to the Fish School website, “it is easy and fun to teach your pet fish to swim through hoops and tunnels, do the limbo, eat from your hand – even play soccer!” And if you want proof, the website has video footage of “Fish School graduates” doing their thing. Just don’t expect them to be wearing little fish caps and gowns.

They also have a web cam on poor Comet, a goldfish that is currently in training. Not for the fish Olympics, but to beat the current world champ of fishy tricks (yes, there’s a Guinness World Record for it) – Albert the goldfish, who has even appeared in a TV commercial.

For more info, you can check out Dr Dean’s Fish School website, or buy the kit for your fishy friend from R2 Solutions here.

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Fakin’ bacon

I am not a huge fan of bacon. I like the idea of it, and can sometimes be swept up in brunchtime euphoria and order it, only to be reminded on its arrival that I don’t actually like to eat it. Unless there is no fat and – no offence, pigs – but there always seems to be fat. Now, I have always known that I’m one of the few people (outside the vegan/vego community) who doesn’t like bacon, but until recently I didn’t know about the whole industry devoted to bacon lovers. Not just food products either – oh no, there are accessories, scented stationery and a whole heap of other crazy bacon-inspired things…

For only $5, you can buy these bacon flavoured toothpicks. Whether you are inspired by Joel Madden or some other cool dude who chews away on a ‘pick, apparently “if you love bacon, you won’t be able to live without these scrumptious, bacon flavored toothpicks!” EverydaySparks is here to save your life, bacon fan. Even though I think they sound like a crazy idea, I do like the tin that houses the 80 toothpicks – Sir Oinkery Porkinson, with his monocle and cane. But with no shoes to cover his trotters (I mean hooves).

Then there is this bacon wallet. Which is not really made of bacon, but of faux leather. For that little bit of Lady Gaga in all of us, without the worry of being followed around by all of the neighbourhood dogs.

Or maybe you feel like your bacon fix is limited to the kitchen and you really want to bring your love of bacon to your bathroom. No, not bacon scented air freshener (although I am sure you can get it somewhere), but bacon soap, toothpaste and dental floss. Uh huh.

If you or someone you know is a fan of fakin’ bacon, you can check out the whole category of stuff for sale at Fred Flare here.

(They also have bacon salt, popcorn and – two products that almost made me cry – bacon flavoured chocolate and a bacon & choc-chip pancake mix. Oh, the horror.)

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Great Danes

I first read about Danish label LuckyBoySunday in Frankie magazine, alongside a photo of three very cool looking chairs. So I looked at the website (yes, even though they were apparently only for children) and I was hooked. I don’t know if Danish children are more melancholic (if that’s a word) than other children, but the collections of accessories on the website would scare the crap out of most kids I know.

The creation story of LuckyBoySunday is a cute one. The idea was born “on a Sunday in August 2007” as Camilla & Camilla (yes, really) sat by a lake in Copenhagen and “shaking hands, promising each other to create our very own version of a child’s reality”. And so they did. With their focus on “silly, seriously, joyful, graphics, dreams. Yes!” they are surely on the right track. As long as your children aren’t prone to nightmares as they see their toys coming to life at night…

The collection is made of “very soft 100% baby alpaca”, which sounds a bit cruel to me. (They haven’t specified, but I presume they mean the baby alpaca’s wool.)

Anyways, the peculiar hand cushion is called Fancy Finger, for obvious reasons. And the little girl is holding Dead Buddy. Uh huh. Then there is Balthazar, the shirtless guy with the blue balaclava and his bestie Sailor Jack, who look like they’ve had a rough night at sea. Or somewhere. And then there’s the Uffie cushion – part-robber, part-anxiety and all charm. Then there are the fabulous Mr Bells, with their green and blue moustaches.

The collection is for children? Do you really think so? Either way, they have some very cool and kooky accessories and their website is well worth a visit. You can check it out here.

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Lashes of style

Apparently, I’m lucky to have nice, long eyelashes. I guess it’s luckier than short, stumpy eyelashes, but I can’t be sure. Although I do know that a lot of women spend a lot of money on mascara that promises to fatten their eyelashes, give their eyelashes volume, or enable their eyelashes to sing and dance. I’ve never worn it as I worry that it looks like I have long legged spiders sitting on my eyes. But then I saw these – goodbye spiders, hello birds or scorpions or fish!

Yes, these are fake eyelashes. MADE OF PAPER. Apparently “inspired by the Chinese art of paper-cutting”, these Paperself eyelashes “blend an element of traditional culture with contemporary design”. And then add a whole heap of creepy. The lashes are reusable (you just re-glue them, as with any craft project) and are available in full-width or half-width, depending on just how scary you want to look.

So, if you’re inspired and want to jazz up your look for a special occasion – and I’m going out on a limb to say these beauties will work for both girls and boys – then consider whacking a paper insect, bird or undersea wonderland on to your eyes. Nothing says I’m serious about this promotion like a scorpion tail on the corner of your eyelid. Or stamp your authority – I’m here from the UN to sort out this crisis – with the deer and butterfly set. Or for someone in a serious profession (dentist, accountant, politician), there’s a clown set. And I know that I’d trust a scalpel-weilding surgeon much more if they were sporting these undersea lashes.

Something for pretty much everyone, then! You can snap ’em up at the Urbanities website here.

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Hats off, dogs

Look, I’m no Dr Doolittle or Cesar Milan (I think that is the Dog Whisperer guy’s name), and yes, my own dog Goldie is in fact made of synthetic fibres. But even I can work out what the pug dog in this picture is saying. He is saying SAVE ME. This ‘custom snuggly dog hat’ is knitted by a lady in America, who has a shop on etsy dedicated to dog hats of various styles, colours and levels of humiliation.

From the mildly disturbing football-fan look on the left to the Parisienne style modelled on the right, this shop has a fabulous collection of photos that are just waiting to be made into a coffee table book. (Honestly, I found it hard to choose the pics for this post – there is an aviator hat complete with knitted goggles, a piglet hat and a flower child hat, to name just a few.) I know that people love their dogs (or ‘fur children’ as they are sometimes called), but I’m not sure that this is the way to show your affection for your pooch. Although maybe I’m totally wrong and there are fierce walk-offs at dog parks all over the world, with fashionista pups strutting down the (ahem) catwalks, vying for the attention and approval of other dogs and their ‘fur-less parents’. Maybe dogs love fashion as much as some humans and maybe they also like to look glamorous while keeping their heads warm. Maybe.

But I suggest that the Punk Rock Mohawk Hat is a step too far. Although, I shouldn’t judge – maybe dogs love robbing banks and starting fires and punching on in riots as much as some humans. In which case, when you stock up on this balaclava-esque hat for your fur child, you might want to check out the range of doggie suits for the Court date that surely awaits…

Jessica’s knitted hats for pugs (how’s that for a niche market?!) are on etsy and her shop is definitely worth a look. Even if you don’t have a (real) dog.

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The Rats and Mice Show

Every year, the Sydney Royal Easter Show is a big deal. It’s held at a huge (former Olympic) venue for a couple of weeks and bzillions of people and animals go along to experience country life – woodchopping, giant displays of fruit and vegetables, farm animals and Chiko Rolls. (If you’re not familiar with this bizarre Australian deep fried mystery, you can read more here.) There are hundreds of showbags for little kids and big kids, live music, carnival rides and all the fun of the fair.

But I’ve found a competition that I think should have top billing – I’m amazed that I never knew about it before today. I blame the marketers – too focussed on the rare breeds of alpacas and cows and dogs, instead of our smaller furry friends. The rats and mice. Yes, there is a whole competition for rodents.

Apparently, the Rat & Mouse Competition is a pet class that promotes public understanding of rats and mice within Agriculture and how we accept them in our community. Who knew that rats and mice were so misunderstood and felt so isolated in the farming community? Poor dears. For too long, they have been disregarded as pests, but really all they want is to fit in. I have images of the barn, with the ‘cool crowd’ of cows, sheep, pigs, horses and chickens chatting in the corner – then the rat and mouse come in, “Hey! Hey, guys! Over here! Yoo hoo! Guys! GUYS?” but no one will make beady eye contact.

Anyways, this competition is run by an organisation with the funniest name I’ve seen in a long time: The Australian Rodent Fanciers’ Society. Hmmmm. Bet you don’t see that listed under ‘memberships’ on many LinkedIn or online dating profiles. Sure, the name is pretty good, but it’s actually their website image that has become one of my all-time favourites. Rodents praying to a giant billboard? Sure, why not, Rodent Fanciers – it’s your Show!

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Welcome to Gnomesville

It’s really tough to explain Gnomesville in Western Australia. Surely one of the most bizarre places I’ve ever been and I’m so grateful to my brother and sister-in-law for adding it to the itinerary when I visited Perth last year. Down a small side road, surrounded by bushland and farms, Gnomesville is another world. Its impossible to capture the scale of it with my limited photographic skills, but trust me when I say it covers a very large area. Just when you think you’ve passed the last gnome grotto, you’ll notice a little weather-beaten sign and yet another collection of slightly worse-for-wear little statues. There are bridges and hills creating sort of gnome-y neighbourhoods, often with their own theme and signage. And often pretty creepy.

There are more bad gnome puns than you can poke a stick at – mostly hand-painted on (sometimes quite elaborate) signs. And that’s probably what surprised me the most: the pre-meditation of Gnomesville tourism. I felt very slack turning up without a bunch of gnomes (tattooed with the names of my family) – like a vegetarian at a butcher’s BBQ or an unmanicured Kardashian, I was feeling unprepared and out of place. Clearly, people carefully plan their visits to Gnomesville – gathering their gnomes, preparing their puns, slapping up their signs and then ensuring that they find just the right part of the village to house their little friends.

And, just like anywhere else in Australia, there is a real mix of characters: from South African and Kiwi gnomes, to dodgy looking gnomes in trailers and on bikes, to a big group of scantily clad girlie gnomes, to gnomes commemorating anniversaries and births and all sorts of families. And a DJ gnome, a Doctor gnome (presumably to staff the gnome hospital, where they seem to throw all the broken pieces of gnome) and some interlopers like frogs and bears that are wannabe gnomes trying to fit into the neighbourhood.There is even a tin of Spam on display in a wooden frame attached to a tree trunk. It’s that kind of place.

  

So if you’re travelling around WA, it’s definitely worth stopping at Gnomesville for a unique experience of life in an alternate universe – where you are giant-sized, gnomes drive cars and run hospitals, puns abound and you start debating the relative attractiveness of little plaster statues with glasses or pointy hats. But be warned – it can get a bit overwhelming and creepy and mess with your head – so whatever you do, don’t camp there overnight. Lest you venture past the point of gnome return (dammit, see what I mean?) and become part of the madness…

   

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Sea change

I am still not sure if this is true or an elaborate hoax left over from the 1980s (which appears to be when the photos on their website were last updated), but I present to you: Jules’ Undersea Lodge. It is apparently the world’s only underwater hotel, based in Key Largo, Florida. You enter the Lodge via a 21 feet scuba dive and the owners say that the lodge can accommodate up to six friends. Close friends, presumably, as it looks like a pretty small living area.

Whether you’re after a unique sort of venue for your wedding (or perhaps not many people approve of the match, so you’re happy to have just the celebrant and some fishy guests?) or you are one of the handful of people who loved Kevin Costner’s Waterworld and want an underwater holiday, this could be the place for you. They offer wedding packages (with too many great photos to include here) and a range of overnight stays – choose from the Luxury, European or Ultimate Romantic getaway.

Food is an important part of any holiday and don’t think that Jules has forgotten. On arrival, you are greeted with shrimp cocktail (of course!), fresh fruit and snacks. The European Package “comes with a generous portion of grilled chicken breast”. Ooh la la. And despite being surrounded by a seafood smorgasbord, they begrudgingly cater for you wacky vegetarians, who “may substitute your shrimp cocktail with humus and crackers or cheese and crackers.”  And it gets better – late night snacks can even include the underwater delivery of a pizza from a local shop.

I was confused about how you got in and out of the Lodge, but Jules explains all: A five by seven foot “moon pool” entrance in the floor of the building makes entering the hotel much like surfacing through a small swimming pool. Divers find themselves in the wet room, the center of three compartments that make up the underwater living quarters. Aha. And in case you’re interested, each of the bedrooms and the common room is equipped with telephone, intercom, VCR/DVD. Seriously? Surely you can do without technology for one night and LOOK OUT YOUR GIANT BEDROOM WINDOW AT THE WONDERS OF THE OCEAN. And one more thing, given the size of the cabin – WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO ON THE INTERCOM? Mysterious indeed, Jules.

The home page of the website asks Have you slept underwater lately? In the unlikely event that your answer is ‘no’ (but you answer ‘yes’ to the question, Do you even actually want to sleep underwater?) then check out Jules’ Undersea Lodge. And you too could be having as much fun as the couple in this photo.

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Fit for the birds

If you’re up for a different kind of holiday, or at least a different kind of holiday accommodation, you might want to check out this bizarro ‘bird’s nest sphere’ accommodation in Canada (Vancouver Island, to be precise). I saw it on Trip Advisor and it sounds like all kinds of wacky. According to the owner: Once one breaks contact with the ground, energy shifts. The magical environment of the forest canopy conjures up thoughts of elves and fairies. One can feel the presence of the forest. That presence seems to dwell in the canopy where it can watch the meanderings below. Like, totally.

For under $200 per night, you could be tucked away in this spaceage Spherical Tree House, which apparently ‘rocks with the breeze’. And rolls with the stronger winds, presumably. They say it’s a marriage of tree house and sailboat technology. Yep, that’s really what they say. There are a whole lot of details on the website and it certainly sounds complicated – the sphere is “accessed by a spiral stairway and short suspension bridge”, which to me sounds like the way to get to heaven (or at least a neighbouring village), rather than your room, but whatevs.

A word of warning – choose your travel season carefully, as a hazard of life in the forest is trees and branches falling in a strong wind or ice storm. A sphere distributes any impact stress throughout the skin and resists puncture or cracking. But when the company that owns them is called Free Spirit Spheres Inc, could you really be sure?

Safe travels, to the Spherical Tree House and beyond.

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Charming

I know that St Patrick’s Day is over and I promise this is the last Paddy’s Day post. Probably. But I just couldn’t hang on to this for a whole year without sharing it…and really, this is so much bigger than St Patrick’s Day. I dare you not to be captivated by the very name of this product: St. Patrick’s Day Corned Beef and Cabbage Charm Miniature Food Jewelry. Just look at this incredible handmade charm – it looks exactly like a bowl of soup that Heather’s grandma makes. (Heather is the lady who crafts the charms, although this one is lacking the ketchup that she apparently adds to the real version of the soup made by her grandma.)

Heather’s online shop is something to behold – whether you’re a foodie, a jewellery lover or just like weird looking stuff, it’s worth checking out. I bet you will find a gift there for a loved one or even a one that you don’t love quite so much. Heather’s shop is called Sweetnsavorytrinkets, which pretty much gives the game away. Mini macaron charms? Yes, please! BBQ ribs or Cheese enchilada earrings? Totes! Jumbo gummi grapefruit necklace? Alrighty!

And another favourite: 1/12th scale Shepherds Pie in a terra cotta bowl. Why? Well, why not?

If you’re hungry for more, Heather’s charm kitchen is open here.

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