Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Cat, in the hall - an artistic moment

Baby Boy, drawn to the one bright spot of sunlight in an otherwise darkened hall - he graciously posed for me here (you can just make out Casey in the background, top left).

And then he started to do his adorable twisting - to - the - side - and - falling - over - 'cause - I - love - you pose. What a sweetie. :D

Monday, November 27, 2006

Christmas - Awesome Party Squares Recipe!

I was going to wait until the 1st of December to post this, but I just couldn't wait to get started on my Christmas Postings. :)

When I was little, I had these layered squares at a family Christmas party, and was TOTALLY blown away by them! The next year, I asked my Aunt Elaine what they were called - and while I had the name for almost 2 decades, I didn't get the recipe until recently!

I finally tracked them down in Company's Coming: 150 Delicious Squares by Jean Pare (her Company's Coming books are a super-popular series of cookbooks here in Canada, I think everyone has at least one book in the series in their cupboards! I have several - there's tons of simple recipes that taste great without a lot of fuss). :) Check them out here: Company's Coming. These are sure to be a hit at your next holiday party!

Tweed Squares (recipe makes 36 squares)

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
2 egg whites
2 squares of semisweet chocolate, grated

• Cream butter and sugar until blended.
• Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to creamed mixture.
• Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into batter. Fold in grated chocolate. Pour into greased 9x9" pan. Bake in 350 deg F oven for about 35 minutes. Cool.

1 1/2 cup icing (Confectioner's) sugar
3 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
5 tsp water

2 semisweet chocolate squares
1 tbsp butter or margarine
paraffin wax, size of a marble (optional, it's to make the chocolate shiny)

• Beat first 4 ingredients together in bowl, adjusting water as neeeded. Spread frosting over cooled squares.
• Melt next chocolate squares, butter/margarine, and wax (if using), in saucepan over low heat. Spread over the white icing. Allow to set before cutting.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Dogs and Christmas

Casey is such a goofball! when we were out for a walk today, we saw that the neighbours put up a large inflatable Christmas penguin, as part of their holiday decorations - really cute! But, to a puppy dog, apparently the penguin looks like an extremely dangerous fellow - she started totally freaking out, her back fur standing on end, barking furiously like it was a "bad guy" or something...too funny!

What a goof...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Looking more like winter at the bird feeder...

The winter-time birds have come on full swing now...the little grey juncos have left, and I'm seeing more and more of the nuthatches and chickadees, pictured above. They're so small! Quite adorable! But don't let their size fool you, the chickadees especially are VERY bold, and not shy about defending what they deem to be their territory!

I was walking Casey, and I could hear the flock of American Goldfinches approaching from the deep woods - they just cheep and cheep to each other, not really a song, but a lot of little individual notes. When I got back, they were already at our backyard feeder. They're even TINIER than the chickadees! And they're much more skittish, so I couldn't get outside to get a pic of them. Got some pics earlier that you can see here.

Although you miss the birds that have migrated away, there's other birds that have migrated back for you to enjoy, it makes for fun watching! :)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Canadiana: Grey Cup

It's Grey Cup time once again! This is the Canadian Football League's (CFL's) version of the American Superbowl. Just about everyone in Canada, including people who aren't usually football fans, gather 'round the TV, and watch the Grey Cup on CBC. Some people have Grey Cup parties where they get together, and eat party food like chicken wings and nachos, and generally have a great time! :) For the people who actually go to the game, there's a whole week of festivities in the host city before hand - you see on TV when they do interviews with people who go to attend the Cup in person every year, taking the week off for vacation, and somehow bearing up under the cold! (It's always FREEZING during the Grey Cup, it often snows during the game!) We even have a short half-time show featuring a famous Canadian act - usually the act is pretty bundled up in a big warm coat to perform!

So, happy Grey Cup viewing to all Canadians out there, wherever you are! :D

Christmas: Halifax's Parade of Lights

Sounds like this year's parade was it's biggest ever! Cool! The Parade of Lights is an annual event in Halifax - it's a parade held at night, and all the floats are lit up with bright colorful lights. It was funny, one year when we went, a guy from out of town was one of the last people to drive down the road before it was closed down for the parade, and he started to slow down, wondering why all the people were lining the streets. He yelled out "Whatcha guys waiting for?" And someone yelled back "A parade!" and he laughed "A parade? At NIGHT???!!" And we all yelled back "Its the parade of lights!" He had to drive off then, but I'm betting he rushed back once he found a place to park so he could see a parade at night - who ever heard of such a thing?! :D Really funny, and I know it sounds like a strange concept, but the floats are so lovely with their Christmas lights, and there's clowns, marching bands, and of course, Santa -- I think it's actually more popular than the daytime parades we have here during Natal Day (a day celebrating the city's founding, held in August). :)

When I lived in Halifax, I used to live on the parade route, so I got to see it every year - it really is a lot of fun, especially for the kids, and helps kick start our holiday season here in the HRM. The Chronicle Herald has a really nice slide show of the event (with sound), so you can get a feel for how it went. And you can read more about the event here.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Christmas time...I couldn't wait!

I couldn't hold back, I've already started decorating for Christmas! I made this wreath last year - there's so many cool little decorations you can get at craft stores, flower shops, etc. that you can put together on wreath forms to make a really unique decoration for your home! Very cool, and very fun (if a little hard on the hands, with all those pokey branches). Some people even put little LED lights in their wreaths, which can be really pretty too!

Throughout the next month and a bit, I'll be doing lots of posts on my Christmas preparations - it truly is my favorite holiday season! (And it lasts extra long for me - being of Ukrainian descent, I also celebrate the old calendar Christmas, which doesn't happen until Jan 6th/7th). :D I hope you'll enjoy reading about my preparations as much as I enjoy making them!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Late Autumn...can be creepy!

One evening last week, we looked out the back window, and saw this:

And it wasn't just THIS tree, there were at least 3 more trees, outside the frame, all similarly filled with crows...if you went outside, you could hear them softly cawing to each other...it was SO creepy!! It was like The Birds or something!!! There's like at least 50 crows in these two trees alone!

Again, things like this might happen in the Spring, but it only seems really foreboding in the late Autumn air...there's just something about this time of year...

(Oh, in case you don't know, crows usually only live in small groups of two or three during the "mating/family raising" time of year, and travel in large groups like this in between mating seasons--its not terribly common to see them in this large a group). :)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Damon Crooks Family Fund

We've all been shaken here in the HRM by the terrible tragedy that befell a good man trying to help someone - Damon Crooks was in town on a NATO exercise and intervened in a fight outside a bar, at which point he was stabbed and robbed. The perputrator has been caught, but the damage has been done: Damon Crooks leaves behind a fiancee, who is 8 months pregnant with their first child. A fund has been set up to donate money to aid these people as they go through life without him. So, if you're from this area, or even if you're not, and would like to contribute, click here. The Chronicle Herald newspaper is taking donations on their behalf. Read more about the news story here.

We all feel so bad...

Monday, November 06, 2006

First Snow

The first snow of the season was spotted today! It was only a little bit, a few flakes here and there in the morning, and a little snow/sleet in the afternoon - not enough to accumulate, but it still counts! Winter has arrived in Nova Scotia! (Hey, any time after Hallowe'en is fair game around here) :)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

New dark color tees available at the gift shop!

New colors have been added to the dark tee lineup available at Ann's Ukrainian Gifts! Choose now from black, cardinal red, military green, and navy blue!

Check 'em out, they make great gifts!