Tuesday, January 8, 2008 in all about me, education, family, holiday fun, humour, linky love

Chocolate and the War of the Roses

Before I get too far into the story below, I should tell you that my father’s side of the family is British. As in, they emmigrated from England to Canada in 1956 and they all have accents (mostly). And ones I can’t really hear most of the time. I can slip into one at will, too. I’ve found when my half-deaf grandfather can’t make out what I’m saying, I just rephrase it to be more British, with an accent and then suddenly he understands me.

My longish point there is we still have family “over there”, and every Christmas we all exchange cards and our cousins send over a monstously huge 1 kilo bar of English Cadbury’s milk chocolate. It is slightly different than the Canadian Cadbury’s chocolate, is why.

So last Thursday, there I was, out and about doing my shopping. (See? The British phraseology is slipping in there. Between this and the over-indulgence of Jane Austen over the holidays, we should just pack our bags and head back to the Queen.) The children were naturally with me, and we split up when we went to the mall.

Sarah came running up to me as I was once again perusing the scrapbook aisle of the Great Canadian Dollar Store.

“Mom! In Shopper’s they have a big Cadbury bar! And it’s on SALE! And it’s the LAST ONE!”

At this point we had no word about the annual chocolate from England, only that it was somewhere between here and there. Ron had said if ever we saw one of those bars here, we should grab it. We *had* seen it before, but it was elusive. Always when we didn’t have the extra cash, or it was heavily pre-holiday priced.  I hemmed and hawed a bit, waffled some more, and in the end got it. The clerk even thanked me profusely for “getting rid of it”.

On the way home, we stopped at the post office to pick up the mail. Sarah came back to the car grinning, carrying an armload of packages. She tossed one to me. “Guess what Mom? It’s from England!” It was suspiciously chocolate-bar sized. Now, normally the cousins send the whole thing to my aunt, and she divvies it up and sends along our portion. But I suddenly thought, what if it had been done on their end?

I laughed and laughed.

When we got back to the house, I opened up the parcel, and instead of chocolate, there was a book. I gotta tell you, I actually love new books *more* than chocolate. It’s true. Even better, it was a book our cousin had co-authored, AND it was on a portion of British history. Enclosed was a note stating he hoped we liked it.

I think I may have swooned.

The Battle of St Albans tells the story of two epic battles during the War of the Roses. These took place in the city of St Albans, which not only stands today, but that’s where some of my family now lives. The authors help clear up some of the confusion and legend surrounding the War of the Roses, explaining the political landscape of the time. They bring the battlefields to life, thorough series of diagrams, modern-day photographs of actual places and generous descriptions of the time and places. There’s even pictures of reenactments of soldier’s uniforms and fighting techniques, even snippets of text from documents from that time frame, in the  participant’s own words.

As Emma and I flipped through the book, we seriously got lost in the 15th century. We were immersed. And I longed for England once again. Mike did a bang-up job, and I’m sure our family could not have been more proud.
Back to the book – it’s jam-packed at 182 pages, 5.5″ x 8″ bound format and loads of b&w photos. By the time I got to the back cover, I was absolutely delighted to find it was part of a series of books based on all sorts of battles in Britain – all the way up through the Second World War. I immediately though of all our homeschooling and/or history buff friends who would *love* to get their hands on such books.

You can   and visit the publiser’s site, Pen and Sword books for more historic battles. I’ll be over here, curled up with the book, noshing on chocolate.

Monday, November 19, 2007 in family, holiday fun

The holiday wishlists

Since most of my family reads my blog, I have to list our holiday wishlists so that everyone can find them in one central location. :)

Me: anything from the scrapbooking aisle, cardstock – any color any size, blank cards for cardmaking, pens, notebooks (ie; anything from the stationary aisle), movie & cd gift cards, books, Amazon wishlist here. A large stack of second-hand romance novels (especially historic ones) would make me squee.

Ron: He shops at Canadian Tire, Home Hardware and Tim Horton’s. ;) Also, I have noted some items for him on the wishlist linked above. We really like watching movies together. (That is a really broad and non-subtle hint. We like action with minimal swearing or blood, and romance/comedy with minimal n00ds. If it was released in the past year or two, we probably haven’t seen it. Used or previously rented movies are good gifts, we think.)

Sarah: her wishlists are here and here. Books, music and tshirts make her happy. Also, candy. And gift cards. It’s like free money.

Meaghan: wants gift cards too and has a wishlist here. It might need to be updated, I dunno. Some art stuff would probably be good too.

Emma: movies, tons of ‘em, clothes, board games, educational-type toys, and she’d probably love Chickadee mag.

Addison & Kaytlyn: house stuff (yes?), gift cards for house stuff. Also, cool stuff.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007 in crafty things, holiday fun, humour, linky love

And now for some handy links

Some awesome things I found today whilst surfing:

I am glad Thanksgiving is over in Canada, otherwise my mom would have found some way to wear this hat. I am not sure what is more remarkable – the skill level, the ugliness, or the fact the model is actually smiling.

On the other hand, I kinda wish I’d seen this tutorial on making roses from maple leaves back when we still had leaves. At least not dried up ones.

My friend Heather writes in two blogs. At Chocolate Bytes, she’s giving away a theobromine molecule t-shirt. Mmmmmm, theobromine. On her other blog, The Food Bowl, you can send in submissions for the Pet of the Week. I know you have pets out there!

And to finish, a quiz:

91%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

That was a no-brainer. Duh.

Saturday, October 6, 2007 in family, holiday fun

Happy *sniff* Thankgiving

So Addison, Kaytlyn, Mom and Carl are all decending on our house for the big dinner today. It’s Thanksgiving weekend up here in Canukistan, you know.

Of course, Mom decided two days ago that she could come, Emma – who was recovering – slowly slid back into the not feeling good and was throwing up (because of a runny nose, not a virus), Sarah got a sore throat yesterday and now has no voice, and the ceiling above the table with the big hole where the plumbing was repaired now lets go of some plaster at irregular intervals.

I am thinking this is going to be a very interesting day.

Sunday, September 9, 2007 in country living, holiday fun, travels

Falls Brook Fair

Yesterday, in the inexplicable heat, we went to a local eco-centre for their annual fair. The Falls Brook Centre Fair is billed as a celebration of country living. The centre is a collective of sorts exploring alternative energy systems, building techniques and organic gardening. I admit we came with extremely high hopes. We have been into this sort of thing for a long time – like 15 years at least.

When we left, I tried hard to find the word to explain here on the blog exactly how we felt – not disappointed exactly, but hungry for more. It was all well and good, but more Hippie Enviromentalist 101. Yeah, they don’t have to sell me on it, I’m there already. I  wanna know concrete hard information.

There were a few booths of information and people selling their wares, but not a lot. Just two tented areas with a total of maybe 10 to 12 seperate tables between them. About half of them were not manned a good amount of the time we were there. Oh, and a guy off in another area doing wood turning. Tons of food to choose from – a samosa stand, another near the adobe brick oven, a corn boil over an open fire, and their solar powered canteen.  I was surprised at the kinds of things I expected to see in booths but didn’t. No honey or soaps, no alternative washable products for women or babies. They also had live music – kinda loud, and we’re not quite into that.

I feel kind of bad not writing more glowing things – I really want to. Their climate change bus that runs on biodiesel is a portable educational vehicle of potential change. Emma did enjoy that and the puppet show. The craft area for kids was… meh. Understandable if you factor in the organizers most likely do not have young children. The staff all appear to be young adults.

They are pretty cute with their fresh-faced optomistic ideals in their eyes though.

After the puppet show, one guy did remember Emma from when we went to the Exhibition in town a few weeks ago. Emma handed out at least 6 hugs, and I did get to snag a picture of one near the end. See the joy she spreads? She’s getting really good at explaining why she hugs everyone too.

There was a small obstacle course with a half-dozen stops, a short muddy trail through a mushroom-growing & fern habitat, a few gardens, a well-labelled working compost area hiding behind a tent,  and a few others buildings – some of which were off limits I think. You had to go on a tour to hear the good stuff about them.

While this was local, it was off the beaten path – even for the area. It took us a good half-hour to get there – a hot and dusty one at that. The weather was also unseasonably humid and hot reaching 32 C.  Parking was along one side of the dirt road, and the more people that arrived, the further away you had to park. Then admission was $5 per person,  no family rate. On regular days, you can get tours for $2 a pop.
We did manage to snag loads of papers and more information, including details about workshops they hold. Those are probably what we’re looking for, as we want hands-ons info on how to implement solar heat and wind power, plus the chance to just talk to someone about it.

All in all, we might go again – just leave the kids home and take a drink.

Monday, September 3, 2007 in holiday fun, how my children learn, travels

Mommy, I wanna learn about oceans

That was Emma and her wish for what to learn about next. Our recent library trip cleaned them out of at least half of the ocean-related books they had, and behind the scenes Ron and I thought up a couple of related activities we could do.

Seeing as we’re somewhat near the ocean and all… ;)

Ron is on vacation this week and we had talked about places we wanted to go, so after a quick consult over our morning caffeine, we decided to head on down to St. Andrews and visit the Huntsman Marine Science Center. It’s a family favorite and Emma couldn’t remember the last time we were there. Hmmm, maybe it was three years ago…

It was a little over two hours to get there, but the drive down was not bad because we were excited and it was a different highway than the ones we normally travel on. Still kinda boring with all those trees though.

We had a great time at the aquarium, going over all the exhibits, taking blurry pics, trying all the touchy-feely things and watching the seals. They even had a tank with some shiver-inducing GIANT sturgeons. A couple of them were as big as me, I swear.

I had a long conversation with another mom over Emma’s pink hair and how it got that way. She said it was a beautiful color (which it is).

After that, we headed downtown with no clear idea what to see next, but the spirit of whatever looked interesting. Lo and behold, there was the Block House. We explored quite a bit there and scrambled over some rocks as high tide came in. And rather quickly too. We continued on and explored downtown, which did not seem to be doing as well as it has in past years. We also toured an old historical home once belonging to the local sheriff.

Sarah did a write-up on her blog too. I think she maybe had a not-bad time. ;)

Even though we were cranky when we needed food NOW, the drive home was long, and I had to lie down when we got back, I was so pleased to hear Emma say what a great day we had, and how she learned SO MUCH and not just abut oceans and things. She really got to see how exploring one topic can lead in all sorts of unexpected directions and adventures.

Pictures to follow, we have two computers on the go today with three people clamoring to use them.