$19 and a Killer Essay Could Win You a $1.3 Million House in Canada

iStock.com/Eerik
iStock.com/Eerik

Now's the time to put the writing skills you learned in English class to good use. A Canadian woman from Millarville, Alberta has put her house on the market, and instead of asking for its $1.3 million value, she's holding an essay contest to find a new owner, the BBC reports.

While Alla Wagner describes the three-bedroom mansion as her "dream home" and a "writer's or artist's paradise" in a Facebook post, she writes that she's giving it up due to her declining health. She initially tried to sell the property the conventional way, and when that didn't work, she came up with a more creative plan.

For an entry fee of $19, anyone can submit an essay for a chance to win the house. The letter should answer the question "Why would moving to this lakefront dream home change your life?" and be 350 words or less. After submissions are narrowed down to the most compelling stories, they will be posted on social media where the public will pick the last 500 finalists. Finally, this pool will be reviewed by an independent panel of judges tasked with deciding a winner.

The prize is a deed to the 5000-square-foot house, which has a library, wine cellar, and a wraparound porch with views of the surrounding lake and mountains. The once-in-a-lifetime deal does come with a small catch: Wagner will only move forward with the contest if she receives enough entry fees to match the $1.3 million value of the home. If she doesn't raise that money by the time submissions are set to close in April, she will extend the submission window by up to three months, and if the money still hasn't been raised in that time, she will cancel the contest and refund essayists back their $19.

Wagner says her search for the right owner is inspired by a similar essay competition held by the owner of the Center Lovell Inn in Maine in 2015. That contest, however, required a submission fee that was five times what Wagner is asking for and it was to win a property valued at $400,000 less.

[h/t BBC]

This Outdoor Lantern Will Keep Mosquitoes Away—No Bug Spray Necessary

Thermacell, Amazon
Thermacell, Amazon

With summer comes outdoor activities, and with those activities come mosquito bites. If you're one of the unlucky people who seem to attract the insects, you may be tempted to lock yourself inside for the rest of the season. But you don't have to choose between comfort and having a cocktail on the porch, because this lamp from Thermacell ($25) keeps outdoor spaces mosquito-free without the mess of bug spray.

The device looks like an ordinary lantern you would display on a patio, but it works like bug repellent. When it's turned on, a fuel cartridge in the center provides the heat needed to activate a repellent mat on top of the lamp. Once activated, the repellent in the mat creates a 15-by-15-foot bubble of protection that repels any mosquitos nearby, making it a great option for camping trips, days by the pool, and backyard barbecues.

Mosquito repellent lantern.

Unlike some other mosquito repellents, this lantern is clean, safe, and scent-free. It also provides light like a real lamp, so you can keep pests away without ruining your backyard's ambience.

The Thermacell mosquito repellent lantern is now available on Amazon. If you've already suffered your first mosquito bites of the summer, here's some insight into why that itch can be so excruciating.

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No Squawking, Please: A Backyard Bird Library Is the Star of This Livestream

Bird Library, YouTube
Bird Library, YouTube

Many people discovered backyard birding when they were quarantined in their homes at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even if you have a vibrant wildlife population in your area, the Bird Library webcam is worth checking out. As Atlas Obscura reports, the bird feeder at the focus of the livestream resembles a tiny library where feathered guests can misbehave.

Librarian Rebecca Flowers and woodworker Kevin Cwalina were inspired to build the Bird Library in 2015. Located in a backyard in Charlottesville, Virginia, it features a miniature reading chair, bookshelves, and a reception desk. The decorations are even updated to match the seasons; the feeder currently sports a banner that says "Summer Reading." The main differences setting it apart from a real library are the bird seed scattered on the floor and the avian visitors.

The Bird Library attracts a diverse collection of patrons. Sparrows, cardinals, and mourning doves have been recorded perching on the librarian's desk and checking out the reading materials. The occasional squirrel has also been known to stop by.

Live video of the feeder streams on the Bird Library's YouTube page and website 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can play the video below to check in on the current guests. If the backyard Bird Library has inspired you to find birds closer to home, here's some gear for beginner naturalists.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]