Friday, November 28, 2008

PhD Success and A Welcome Friend

Diego successfully defended his PhD Thesis proposal (oral exam) yesterday!! This week has been crazy busy but now we can relax a little heading in to the weekend.

I woke up this morning to a welcome friend at my kitchen window. This is our neighbours cat Casey. Although this photo was taken a few weeks ago, he did stop by this morning.

Ever since, the neighbours had a little one he has been looking for refuge from all the pulling and "affection" that 1.5 year olds usually inflict on household pets. He usually stops by everyday but he hasn't been around for a least a week because we did not shovel our balcony or stairs leading up and he could not access his fav. spot...sitting on top of the BBQ. This is the best pet ever because we don't have to feed him, clean his litter or pay for the vet bills. He only ever comes over for some rubs. He also loves to roll around on my little carpet, so cute!

He was extremely affectionate this morning, probably missing his daily rubs!
Time to make pumpkin pie for our friends's American Thanksgiving party tonight!
Have a good Friday!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Winter is here with a vengance!!

This is what we woke up to this morning in Nova Scotia!

Time to go shovel out and maybe go sledding! : )

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Winter has Arrived!

We had our FIRST SNOW last night!!! Actually, it was our second but this one actually accumulated! It was a crazy storm, lots of raging winds and large wet snowflakes.

This is an interesting time, since it is the transition between seasons, there are remnants of Fall mixed in with the newly fallen snow of Winter.

Like these leaves under a layer of ice, frozen to the sidewalk. Or this pile of leaves by the side of the road covered in a crusty layer of snow.

It never ceases to amaze me how life can cling so tenaciously in the face of such extremes. The last vestiges of green grass still hanging on in hopes of warmer days. We wont see this again until next Spring!

However, being on the East Coast the winters are mild enough to allow Rhododendrons to survive through the cold, dark season, adding some colour to otherwise grey landscape!

Reminding us that although everything appears to be dead that really life has just slowed down for these few months...maybe we should heed the Rhododendrons advice and slow down ourselves. Enjoy the warmth of our homes, families and friends and marvel at the spectacle of winter! Remember when we were kids...anxiously awaiting the snow, snowsuits at the ready by the door...running out elated with the first flakes!

Let's make winter fun again!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Nephew is Born!!

Our nephew was born on Nov 14, 2008. His name is Santiago and he lives in Mexico. He is the son of Diego's sister and the first grandchild in the family. Diego's parents are ecstatic! We are looking forward to meeting him!!

In celebration of his arrival I have been busy knitting a baby blanket. This was a huge endeavor because I have only ever knitted a scarf. I tried a feather and fan lace pattern but couldn't get it right. I started over at least 4 times! This was frustrating as time was drawing near! So I opted to just knit the whole blanket and add a fringe on two of the sides.

I am on my last ball of yarn and hope to have it completed in the next couple of weeks. It will not be anywhere near perfect but I think this will make a nice Christmas present. I will keep you posted on the progress!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembrance Day 2008

Diego and I just got back from the Remembrance Day Ceremony at Parade Square in Halifax. It is always a day of mixed emotions for me. I did not have any close relatives that went to WWI or WWII and only one that went to Vietnam but it always makes me think of all those people who died and continue to die fighting. They themselves as well as their families have made an immense sacrifice to protect the freedoms of others. However, it also makes me see the failings of humanity, these people died because we could not resolve our differences with words but had to resort to violence. I hope that we learn from our tragedies and push the world towards peaceful negotiations so that we do not have to continue to send our friends and family to war.

Lest we forget.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fall Favourites!

I made a delicious squash medley soup for a dinner on Tuesday. Here are the squash just out of the oven from roasting. I love all the textures and colours they come in!

I just scooped out the flesh, added it to turkey broth that I had in the freezer leftover from Thanksgiving, then added salt, pepper and lots of Turmeric and pureed. Once, they were pureed, I brought the soup to a simmer and added whipping cream and mixed well. Serve with some coarse ground pepper and some chives on top...delicious!

These are my mums. They were in full splendor on my kitchen table for weeks...I thought I would immortalize them here since they are now fading and will soon hit the compost heap.

I hope you enjoy the fall colours, textures and smells as much as I do! ; )

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Grade 7 Field Trip!

I went out to Peggy's Cove (NS) yesterday with a group of 27 grade 7 students from a private school here in Halifax. The kids were doing projects on different species or habitats in the intertidal zone. The intertidal zone is the area of shoreline that exists between the high tide line and low tide line. It is solely populated with marine organisms. Although, you sometimes get some terrestrial beasts that stray into the zone at low tide (eg: birds, dear, mink). So, I was there to lend my expertise to the students. Usually, Diego and I do this every year. It is something we really enjoy and feel is important! Unfortunately, Diego couldn't make it this year so the kids didn't get their interactive tide lecture... : ( Maybe next year!

One of the things I talked about was intertidal zonation (see pic).This is generally described as the distinct organization of plants and animals into bands that represent different zones within the intertidal area. The zonation is caused by environmental as well as biological interactions.

For example, plants and animals that live in the high zone are exposed to air longer than those in the low zone and need to withstand extreme heat (summer) and cold (winter) as well as drying out. However, those in the low zone are covered by water more often so don't need to deal with the problems of air as much but they are exposed to subtidal (below the tide) predators more often than the high zone. The students also got to see the large tidepools that are present in the granite rocks of that area. Tidepools are depressions in the rock that contain water, regardless of the time of tide. They are scattered at all levels of the intertidal and they act as a refuge for organisms that cannot tolerate the physiological stress of being exposed to extreme environmental conditions when the tide is out. Depending on the height on the shore the tidepools can be very different...they too are zoned. Here is a photo of me working in a large low zone tidepool near Peggy's Cove. I worked in tidepools for my honours thesis, as part of my undergraduate degree.

Unfortunately for us, they day wasn't as nice/calm as in the tidepool pic...we had fog, rain and wind so it was cold, wet and rough...which meant that we couldn't get close to the low zone at all! Regardless, the students had lots of fun but many, including myself, left chilled and ready for a warm drink! Lots of pictures were taken and I hope to get my hands on them so I can post a few!

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Caramel Pear Cake and Great Finds at Value Village!

It has been a busy week. Non-stop activities all weekend...and every week night so far!

I made this delicious caramel pear cake for a Dia de los Muertos party on Sunday. Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican tradition that happens on Nov 1 and 2, where family and friends gather together to celebrate those they have lost. We went over to a friend's house who had made a small alter of their fireplace where we placed photos of those we wanted to remember. We also lit a candle for each of those in the photos. We then cooked up some delicious beef and chicken enchiladas, drank tequila and listened to Mexican folk tunes. We also placed a plate of food on the alter so that the spirits of those we are remembering can eat the soul of the food, thus communing with them. Although the caramel pear cake is not Mexican, it was gobbled up and not even a crumb was left! It was delicious!! However, I do think the recipe makes too much caramel which made it a little soggy in the centre where it pooled. I made 1/2 of the amount called for and it was still a lot! I am wondering if they meant 1/4 cup rather than 1/4lb of butter! I will make it this way next time and keep you posted!

On Monday, I went to Value Village (a thirft store) with my friend Arpita to hunt for some brown pants and light sweaters for the fall. Like all thrift stores, you end up with a cart load of stuff to try on, most of which doesn't fit or looks better on the hanger! However, both of us made out like bandits! I found what I was looking for...a gorgeous pair of chocolaty brown cords (Jacob) that fit like a glove for 6.99! I also picked up some wooley capri pants, a knitted green shawl, burnt orange cord skirt, a beige sweater with a large warm neck, some great jeans, a red sweater, a beige fitted corduroy blazer and a cute burt orange wool 20's style hat that I absolutely love!

All of this for $60! I love shopping at Thrift stores, you never know the goodies you will find and you are doing the environmentally friendly thing by increasing the life of clothing that has already made its impact on the environment rather than buying new and increasing our footprint!

I am working from home today and my break is over!! Bye for now!