Saturday, March 31, 2007

Birds are returning!

Just got back from a walk with Casey - and in the trees, you could hear the gorgeous, lilting song of the Song Sparrow! I guess they've returned from their winter sojourns - we started getting little grey Juncos at the feeder last week, so they're back too. Looks like Spring really is on its way!

If you're making pickled eggs for Easter, today's your day!

I had almost let it go too long! But I remembered this morning, that if I want to have some of Uncle Steve's pickled eggs on Easter, I had better get them made today, so they can "do their thing" and be ready to eat on the big day! :)

To get my uncle's recipe for pickled eggs, go here.

And, if you want lots more recipes for great Ukrainian Easter breads and dishes, check out the rest of my collection here. The highly symbolic dish of beets and horseradish is there too - the red of the beets symbolize the blood of Christ, and the horseradish symbolizes the bitterness of His Passion and death.

And (drumroll please) I am so excited, I hope it gets here before Easter (but even if it doesn't, I'll have it for the future!) - I got a lamb butter mold on eBay!! You mold the butter to be put in your Easter basket (we Ukrainians put all the food for Easter in a basket and have it blessed by a priest) in the shape of a lamb (Christ being called the Lamb of God). It is placed at the top of the basket to "watch over" the rest of the foods - pickled eggs, beets, and like 20 kinds of keilbasa (sausage) and ham. Oh yum! :D Anyway, I finally got hold of a butter mold, and I can't wait to use it! :)

I read somewhere that we have all these pickled and cured foods so that there isn't much preparation to do on the big day, and everyone can enjoy the feast! So I'm definitely cooking our pork roast on Holy Saturday, instead of waiting 'till Easter. Boy, this is making me hungry!! :D

Saturday, March 24, 2007

BeanDreams 2007 - Beginning Plans

Time to start planning the garden for the upcoming growing season! As I did last year, I will be doing a detailed log on my BeanDreams page, and mini updates here in the blog of my gardening adventures. This is my second year of vegetable gardening - aside from personal mistakes made, we also had really lousy weather last year - BUT, things still went pretty well, I did get some produce out of it, and this year I'm looking forward to even more!

One big change I've made from last year is that all the crops I'm growing will mature in under 60 days - things with longer times, like the tomatoes, didn't get a chance to finish up outdoors last year, because the weather got too cold. I ended up starting to cover them in August, for goodness sake! (Tomatoes love the heat, and even though the weather was great, August was uncharacteristically cool at night - so I had to go out every night for weeks to cover my plants with plastic. Quite the hassle). With shorter maturity times, I'll be sure to have enough time for everything to come to fruition in the garden before the weather starts to get too nippy for more delicate, longer-season plants.

So, for more information and details on my growing garden here in Nova Scotia, check out my BeanDreams 2007 page. I'll be posting regular updates here too, all garden-related posts will be labeled BeanDreams 2007.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

New Design at the Gift Shop Available Now!

Available on tons of colors, sizes & styles of fashionable tees (as well as framed tiles, teddy bears, and more!), this Japanese heraldry and Arabic inspired design is perfect for today's global villager! Bright red flower blossoms & beams of sunlight radiate from the center of my latest design. Get yours today!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Who had the worse flight?

Really, which of these two people get the award for worst flight ever?

You've got one guy who needed to pee REALLY badly after drinking too much before a 2 hour flight. The light wasn't working in the bathroom, so the flight crew told him he couldn't use the plane's facilities. Eventually his situation got bad enough that he had to urinate in an air sickness bag. No people, he wasn't kidding! He really did have to go! Can you imagine how demeaning that was?

Alternately, there was a man, who paid extra for the comforts of First Class, who awoke to discover he was sharing a row with the corpse of a woman who died in Economy. Apparently there aren't any contingencies for people who die during flight, and the only real option is to put the body in First Class, where there are less passengers. Good grief, I mean, I guess they didn't have any other options, but to wake up and see this corpse that keeps sliding out of the seat, AND getting to listen to the poor grieving daughter of the deceased crying for the next 5 hours, how awful. I understand it doesn't happen very often, but I can't see why they can't get an extra curtain (that's all that separates First Class from Economy in smaller planes anyway), and set it up at the front of First Class, to give the grieving and deceased some privacy. Yikes.

I bet these aren't even the worst though - in this great big world, I imagine there's plenty of horror stories for all sorts of mass transit...

Monday, March 19, 2007

Cleaning Mountains

Wow, I just heard about this guy, Ken Noguchi - he was the youngest person to climb the tallest mountains on all seven continents. But he's not just a mountain climber in it for the ego trip - he also wanted to enjoy the beauty and majesty of the scenery. Unfortunately, he would often find tonnes of garbage littering the slopes. He was so disappointed, he decided to do something about it - for Mt. Everest, after several expeditions, he and his team were able to remove EIGHT TONNES of garbage. 8 Tonnes!!! Shocking! But, it's really having an impact, and now he wants to do the same for his beloved Mt. Fuji, from his native Japan. He joined with a local environment club, and they have spent many, many hours cleaning up the rubbish from the mountainside. I mean, people had dumped tv sets there! Having participated in clean ups myself locally, it is often amazing at what some people will throw away in the woods, turning them from a nice bit of wilderness beauty to basically a trash dump. Pretty awful to look at.

So, hats off to Ken Noguchi, saving and protecting the beauty of one of the most famous peaks in the world!
Read a little more about him here. His blog is here, but it's in Japanese (bien sûr!). Click here to get a rough translation of it.

Friday, March 16, 2007

HP sauce moving to the Netherlands?

Now, I don't know about the rest of the world, but here in Canada (and of course, Britain) HP sauce is the Gold Standard for steak sauce - we ALWAYS have a bottle in the fridge! A steak just wouldn't be a steak without it! :)

It's House of Parliament sauce - got a pic of the buildings on the bottle, and says "By appointment to her Majesty the Queen" on it. It's pretty much as British as it gets - but they're not going to manufacture it in Britain anymore...seems weird, really! I feel badly for them, it was really a pride thing for them, a real British icon - it would be like Coca Cola headquarters being moved from Atlanta to someplace outside America. Not something that would be easy to swallow!

Now, there's some concern that the flavor won't be the same - THAT, I'm not worried about. I'm sure they did test runs ahead of time to ensure the quality remains the same. But it's the principle of the thing, it just won't be the same.

I'll still probably buy it though - as I said, a steak wouldn't be a steak without it!

Read the story on the CBC here. There are several stories on the BBC regarding it, including this one , and this story about one of the protesters doing a short "roof sit-in". Apparently, even the Dutch workers who would be getting new jobs out of this thought the whole thing was handled badly!

(The worst part is, it was an American company, Heinz, that bought the rights to the sauce and made the decision to move... again everyone, imagine if Coke was bought by Germany or something, then made the decision to move the headquarters abroad. Ouch!)

Man, all this talk of HP sauce is making me hungry though...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

More problems with the new American $1 coin...

More problems with the new American Dollar Coin - first, it was missing the motto "In God We Trust", now there's at least one coin that's missing a "heads" and a "tails"!

So, it's been a little slow getting everything set up properly, but don't worry Americans, it'll totally be worth it! Up here, we've had the "Loonie" (our $1 coin, named after the Loon on the tails) for decades now, and we don't know what we'd do without it! :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Signs of Spring here in Nova Scotia

You can smell the brush fires burning. Here in the countryside (and even farther out from the city), people get burning permits. The permits last a few weeks, starting in the spring, from now to about May. They gather up dead brush and such from their properties and burn it in a pile (getting rid of the dead brush now helps prevent fires in the hot & dry summer months in the forests). There's also large controlled burns of fields and large country-sized lawns - you can see the people standing guard over the fire, smouldering throughout their large field/lawn. This removes the dead grass left over from last year, clearing the way for the fresh new grass to grow, and providing a little fertilizing ash too! It really seems to work well, too, their lawns always come back so fast and green! (In the city, with much smaller lawns and no burning permits allowed, you have to rake your lawn to get rid of the dead grass - not nearly as much fun). :) Always a sure sign of spring!

The hills are alive with the sound of - melting. Today it was so mild most of the remaining snow was melting, and there were several little mini streams of run-off going down the huge hill at the end of our road. It was funny, Casey was cocking her head to the side, wondering what the sound was (she couldn't see most of the water because it was running underneath the remaining snow piled on the sides of the road). It's such a peaceful little sound, a gentle little trickling... :)

Yay (beginning of) Spring!! (It'll still be too cold to plant anything until the end of May, but it's nice to see the beginning of the end of Winter!). :D

Saturday, March 10, 2007

New Poppy Design!

Poppies are a beloved and subsequently common motif in Ukrainian folk art. With their bright coloring and delicately bobbing heads, they are a favorite of many. I've created a brand new poppy design for my gift shop, so you can enjoy poppies in your own home (or take them with you on one of our many styles and colors of tees now available!) Head on over and get one today!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Quick Weather Note

Today's windchill is -29 degrees C. How much is that in Fahrenheit? -- bloody flippin' cold! :D (This online converter says it's -20.2 F). It was so cold that when the wind made my eyes water (during my walk with Casey), the tears froze on my eyelashes - that makes it really hard to see! :D

Casey didn't seem at all affected by the temperatures, though - she was very enthusiastic during our entire walk. Oh well, as long as she had fun. :)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Another fun design for borscht lovers!

If you're like me, you really just can't get enough of borscht, the famous Ukrainian/Russian/Polish/etc. beet soup. It is SOOO good! (View family recipe here).

I've made another fun novelty borscht-related design in my gift shop that fellow borscht lovers are sure to enjoy! Powered by Borscht features a very cute little cartoon beet in the "o", paying homage to the most vital of borscht ingredients! Show the world what keeps your engine running, and pick up one of these great tees, in a variety of colors and styles, today!

(Check out my previous borscht offering "Borscht - it's the soup that can't be beet (beat)!" here!)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Frosted Storm Aftermath

A massive storm system came our way a couple of days ago - we got off really easy, compared to many other places (which was a little weird and a little disappointing - we're used to a lot of snow around here, but the last couple of winters especially haven't had much snow at all)...

It started with regular snow, but ended with a lot of freezing rain - this resulted in the little stream across the street having snow land on top of it that then crystalized like frost. It was really different, I haven't seen anything quite like it before.

Here's an overview shot of the stream, with lots of ice and snow on top.

Here's a closeup of the frost/crystal patterns - hard to see like this, though.

Here, I've cranked up the contrast on the photo so you can see the frost patterns - aren't they just gorgeous? It's so strange for snow to look crystalized like this. Very cool!