Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Happy Halloween!

Today we're taking a break from our regularly scheduled post to celebrate a holiday in which we can actually be applauded for wearing sweatpants and eating chocolate all day.

I think we can all agree to celebrate that!

Since the posting day magically fell right on Halloween, our true Disney Dates will be resuming later, and instead today you get a little craftiness and a little spookiness! And some interesting Disney news, as well.

First off, Happy Halloween! I hope everyone has found some time to play dress up and indulge. Stay safe if you're out there tonight!

In honour of this most auspicious of occasions, my pretty pumpkin from last week has had a makeover. She is no longer looking quite so friendly!

Considering pumpkin and apple were our last two special ingredients, I thought I'd introduce them to each other. I'm sad to say it didn't go that well for apple....

Happy Halloween, all!
Max is dressed up in a mask he made (that's right- he designed it, carved it, shaped it, stained it... all the leather work from a scrap piece into a masterpiece! Curly beard and all!) as a druid. He's also wearing a sheepskin cape and spent the night drinking mead. We're a bit weird here, guys. But hey, that's what Halloween is for, no?

We're currently camped out at home, throwing candy at the kids who come to our door.

Ok, not actually, but our bowl is a double hander and most kids are carrying two hander bags as well (I was SO not allowed to do that! What!) so a couple times I've ended up trying to shake some candy in. Sometimes this goes well and all goes smoothly; sometimes disaster strikes and candy scatters all over!

Alright, I'll be honest- that's not disaster in my book. For one thing all the candies are wrapped and for another, the highlight of my night is watching ninjas, fairies and dinosaurs attack each other over fallen candy scraps. It's like a tamer, fantasy-inspired Hunger Games out there. The last one left alive gets the candy.

Kate Hust, I believe, is the artist behind the idea
Aside from this highlight, I'm also getting a big kick out of my newly completed little project, something I'm quite pleased with.

It's all natural, eco friendly, totally free and totally easy autumn decor. I'm enchanted with how these turned out! It's a great little project, because I'm always bringing home the beautiful leaves we find on our walks and I never actually have anything to do with them, so they always kind of crackle up and end up being a bit of a mess :( So, this is the perfect solution. An easy way to turn those beautiful leaves into a long lasting and beautiful bouquet!

The tutorial I worked from (which can be found here- I originally found this on Pinterest but it didn't have the artist credited, so I tracked it down to the best of my ability)  used florist tape and a slightly different method. I used a flat surface and rolled mine rather than folding around the rose like she's done. I also elected to avoid the florist tape because this whole project is 100% free and eco friendly.. until you tape it up! It frustrated me, so I went questing for something better. I stapled the bottom of one flower before I realized I have all I need already! Since my rolled up flowers don't need much to stay in place, I took to using one stem to tie the bottom together, and it worked great! I'm proud to say these roses are now 100% leaf :)
As you can see- using a stem to tie. Also a view of my rolled rose from the top!
Look at these colours! Could you resist?

Altogether, I think I spent an hour on 11 roses, including gathering time. They're really super fast to make. The only thing is you only have about a day to do it, because once they dry they'll break instead of folding.


So! This has been our Halloween :) I hope yours were good!

Onto the Disney section of the evening, then. I'll preface the news with these hints:

Too subtle? Ah, alright, how about this one?

It's official, folks: In a seriously good week for giant mergers (Penguin and Random House have confirmed that they will be merging, as well) Disney has bought Lucasfilms, for the pocket change of 8 billion bucks.

Well. I wish Disney was interested in my student loans, that's all I can say.

There's been a pretty big reaction, with a lot of people feelings strongly on both the hooray! and GTFO Disney! sides of the fence. Selfishly, I'm totally ok with the purchase, and here's why:

--Though I love the product, there's no denying that Disney is a Monster Corp, with all the negative side effects that entails. It's not the worst out there (side-eyes Wal Mart) and it does do some things right; at least a portion of the pocket that is 8 billion bucks lighter is doled out to Charities, and working for Disney is no bad gig. But the mega corp status remains. However: the mega corp specialized in entertaining the pants off you, and decades of practice have rendered Disney more than capable in that regard. Star Wars will change, yes, and the new movie already in the making will no longer be 'pure'. In this regard I wish to point out that the Avengers is far, far from pure, and Disney entertained the pants off of you with that, didn't they?

--At the head of Marvel and Pixar, Disney has been remarkably willing to step back and let the magic happen. We can certainly hope to see more of the same now that they're holding the monetary reins of Lucasfilms.

--Also, while Lucas has in his career revolutionized film, let's be perfectly honest: He can't direct or write to save his life (or his company). Lucas seems a bit bitter towards all the geeks who have pointed this out, and I think that the enterprise that is Star Wars will actually be better off in the hands of a successor to Lucas, who is freshly in love with the world, rather than embittered by it.

--Certainly we owe Lucas a debt for the creation of the story and the legitimacy he brought to epic Sci Fi. I don't know if I'd have said the debt was 8 billion, but hey, no one asked me. For Star Wars, however, I think that the transfer to Disney is all good news.

There is of course a lot of other angles to consider; the monopoly that Disney has over film is somewhat alarming, and die hard fans are unlikely to be excited by a change of this magnitude. Nevertheless, Disney has shown it knows how to handle a nerd or two, and Star Wars could use the re vamp. So lets look at the bright side of this death star and anticipate Star Wars 2015, which in all likelihood will entertain the pants off of you.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Kiki's Delivery Service


Inspiration: Kiki's Delivery Service (Studio Ghibli)
Disney Date: Pumpkin Picking
Alternate Ideas: Play delivery person for a stranger, write & mail a letter, ride in a blimp, build a flying bike
Food: Pumpkin cranberry scones

Good evening!

Disney Dates is a day late according to our (admittedly poor track record) weekly updates. If you're interested, there's a method to the madness: as students, we get a discount at some stores on Tuesday  and others on Wednesday; what we need to make our DD food determines which day a new DD gets posted.

It's definitely important to be prompt and reliable. However, it's not like I get paid for this, and as students, we count pennies. So a 10% discount is indeed enough to sway our posting dates. Sorry. At least a) know you know and b) we'll always have something posted by Wednesday! 


Today I was a bit of a worrywart. Max biked downtown to cover a session at Parliament and I knew he went without a helmet. A student at our university was killed on her bike only a few days ago, and lately it seems like I've been surrounded by morbid signs (it was the 10th anniversary of my Grandmother's death this week; the student dying; some heart breaking blog posts I ran across, even Halloween) so I am apparently a little on edge. Anyway, I knew right around when Max should be home, so when he was late, I started to frowny face. And to bake. And to frowny face. Then he was later, so I started compulsively glancing out our kitchen window while being a frowny face and stirring. He was still late, so I texted him, and worried, and frowny faced and stirred. And then suddenly I glanced up and there he was, pushing the bike up our steps and smiling in the window at me. 
Whew. 
I love the rush of feeling I get when I see him unexpectedly- it's like a present for my heart. To top it off this time, though, he did indeed come bearing presents. He was late because he'd stopped off to buy me some lovely colourful flowers! 

The pumpkin farm! Pumpkins as far as the eye can see!
As if I need reminding, but he's a keeper.

Anyways, on to the business at hand- A Disney Date!! For this one, we matched a movie to the date rather than the date to the movie, which I'm ok with because I wanted to do this soooooo bad and it's VERY seasonal so, hah! We did it.

For this week's Disney Date, Max took me Pumpkin picking, for my first time ever! 


 While it's not my first time handling a pumpkin, or even picking one (at home we grow a few in the garden) it was  my first time making an event out of it. We haven't had the chance to carve them yet but heading out to forage the fields for your own pumpkin was a dream of mine! 

Pumpkin Commandments & me practicing my Jack'o Lantern face!
We headed out on the weekend, so the fields were busy. The farm we went to wasn't messing about! They had 3 tractors pulling wagons of people to and from the fields, and it was pretty adorable to watch the families, especially with toddlers, picking their pumpkins. At $2 per person for the wagon ride (plus a free sucker!) It was hardly highway robbery. The pumpkins were cheap, too. They sold a huge variety, plus fruits and veggies (apples and mostly root veggies this time of year), and it was as much fun persuing the stranger squash's as it was picking pumpkins. Still, I'm very pleased with our adventure. We got some more delicious apple cider, too! 



Pumpkins as far as the eye can see!
Max & I with our trophies :)
Some of the stranger squash. What fun! 

We chose Kiki's Delivery Service as our movie because it's a charming movie about a witch, which could hardly be more Halloween appropriate. Plus, most of the Disney Disney movie (Studio Ghibli is now released by Disney in North America, so I feel comfortable including these films as Disney dates, but they aren't part of the strict canon) witches are not nearly as charming as Kiki. 

Kiki is a 13 year old witch apprentice who flies off on her broomstick with her black cat Jiji to spend a year away from home training to be a witch. Jiji, frankly, is probably my favourite- the sass of a witch's cat is fabulous. But the movie is full of amazing characters, as per Studio Ghibli, many of whom are somewhat mysterious but ever so enchanting none the less. Ghibli really does occupy a place in my heart similar to that of Disney, in the 'essence of my childhood' sense, but in a lot of ways I think they're actually even better. (Sacrilegious, I know.) The stories they tell resonate at all ages, are more epic in tone (not always, and not so much in Kiki, but in many others), always have strong, interesting, complicated women and often have them as the protagonist, something Disney has been sorely lacking until Merida; and usually has a message about the importance of the Earth and nature as well. With beautifully rendered at and moving stories with feminist and environmentalist undertones, is it really any wonder that I've loved these movies so much? 

Kiki's delivery service was incredibly fun to watch again, because it's been a decade! And it was the very first Ghibli movie I watched (Totoro came quite late in life for me). It was a lot like I remembered and every bit as good. I even got snivvly eyed during the last scenes with the blimp. Ahhhh, Ghibli! 

I love the portrayal of life as a normal witch. I remember watching, goggle eyed, as everyone was so accepting of a witch floating into town, like this happens everyday! Boy did I wish. Up there with getting a Hogwarts letter, it was. Since we were dealing with witches, pumpkins seemed like a great tie in. And since we had pumpkins, well, obviously the food needed to be related! 

In the movie, there's mention of a "herring and pumpkin pot pie", a specialty of one of the characters. Well, I doubt very much that there's an abundance of recipes like that floating around, and also, I don't want to cook something Max can't eat, so that was out. But pumpkin was endorsed, and so it was our theme of the day. 

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we did a lot of pastry recently with the apple dumplings (which may or may not have been made multiple times. Hehehe.) so we hunted around a bit for something that felt like fall. I was looking at soups, because it's really time for me to stop using this as an excuse to make as much dessert as I like, but....
So, this happened. Why are there no pictures of the finished product, you ask? Because I'm busy stuffing my face with the finished product, if you must know. Mwmwmamamwma. So good. 
I made scones instead. Oops. I'd like to say I have regrets, but I really don't.

We made pumpkin spice cranberry scones, to be precise, and they are precisely mind blowingly delicious. I'm loving the fresh cranberries in them more than I have ever loved cranberries before, but the sweet, smooth, warm pumpkin spice in the perfect moist and delectable scone form literally had me making inappropriate noises while eating. Best. Scones. Ever.


And because I'm the best blogger ever (RIGHT, eveyone?!) I will share the recipe with you. Modified from here

Ingredients 

  • 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup demererra sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (a bit of ginger, nutmeg, and allspice, but mostly cinnamon)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (so yes, quite a lot of cinnamon all around)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cold butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/3 cups canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup milk, divided- see directions
  • 2/3 cup cranberries (fresh) 
Glaze
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • milk to taste- add until smooth (1-3 tablespoons)
Directions

  • In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, pumpkin and 1/2 cup milk. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Add cranberries. 
  • Turn onto a floured surface; knead 10 times. Divide dough in half. Pat each portion into an 8-in. circle; cut each into eight wedges. Separate wedges and place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Brush with remaining milk.
  • Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks; cool for 10 minutes. Combine the glaze ingredients; drizzle over scones. Serve warm. Yield: 16 scones of magical deliciousness
Nutrition: 1 serving has 338 calories, 13 g fat, 59 mg cholesterol, 348 mg sodium, 51 g carbs, 2 g fiber, and 5 g protein. Approx. It's a little off due to minor changes. 

See, this is why I need to stop making mainly desserts. Bad Sarah! 

Anyway, there you have: a recipe for as close as I've recently come to magic, and a new source of movie magic, if any of you are unfamiliar with Studio Ghibli. Go forth and snack on scones. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Snow White and the 7 Dwarves

Good Morning, Disney Daters!

Ah, the sun is shining- just for the moment, sadly- and the house is heating up (thank goodness, I'm in my slippers and a sweater AND a blanket, temperature isn't messing around with me lately!) and we have the loveliest Disney Date to share with you. What a lovely day :)

Inspiration: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Disney Date: Run Away into the Woods; Find a Local Apple Vendor
Alternate Ideas: Go Goldpanning, Make a Magic Mirror, Have Woodland Creatures Clean Your House
Food: Apple Dumplings
 
Check out this fabulous original movie poster!
Snow White is incredibly important to the Disney lore. It was Disney's first full length animated film, released in 1937, and is still considered one of, if not the, most important American animated film ever made. On a more personal level, Snow White is the first Disney Princess movie for a lot of us, and that's a piece of my childhood that I hold dear, indulging in sentimentality beyond all rationality. As evidenced by our little blog project, here!

So, with some trepidation due to the impressive legacy of this particular princess, we tackled Snow White just as the first snow fell on Ottawa. (It hasn't stuck, thank goodness- the leaves aren't even gone yet! Not cool, Winter!)

We had a lot of ideas for Snow, especially because there's a wealth of updated Snow White's to turn to-- Snow White and the Huntsman, Snow White/ Mary Margaret in Once Upon A Time, and Mirror, Mirror; all of which were adaptations released in the past year. Clearly her 75th anniversary is kind of a big deal! I have to admit, as much as I love the original, it makes me deeply happy to see Snow put down the broom and pick up a sword of her own. This is one Princess who has had enough rescues in her 75 years, I'd say, and is ready to kick ass all on her own-- and thank goodness. Playing Princess is fun, but a Princess with the will and the power to change her own destiny is 10x the Princess power, and its important to let little girls see that.

So we had a lot of potential dates (Make a magic mirror? Go gold panning (aka, mining)? Ride off into a glowy castle? Serenade each other?), making it easy to have both a plan A and plan B. This was handy, too, because plan A didn't work out. Plan A entailed whistling while I worked, singing a happy song and opening my door to let all the joyous local woodland creatures frolic on in and clean house with me. Sadly, while I've been well indoctrinated with the 'Sing and they will come' Disney logic, apparently my local creatures haven't watched enough Disney movies to know their cue when they hear it. That, my friends, is clearly a loss.

Anyways, after the lack of participation in Plan A we switched it up to Plan B. The adventure starts in Snow White when she's taken out into the forest and goes from picking happy flowers to running for her life. While we weren't quite running for our lives, we decided to take the forest adventure as inspiration and use it as the theme for our date.

Our new house (By the way: we bought a house on Aladdin Lane. Unintentional, but really, could we have planned that better?!) is backed by the Greenbelt, a huge section of farm and woodland that Ontario intentionally keeps quite rural. There's a road headed strait back from our turnoff, and ever since we've moved in I have been dying to head down it and discover what's back there. Snow was my opportunity. Pretending we were being chased by a emotionally torn up woodsman, we headed down the road and into adventure!
For one thing, it's beautiful out there- especially this time of year. It was a cloudy, melancholy day, but considering the mood of the woods Snow runs away into, I found the mood entirely appropriate. The colourful leaves and still green grass (that won't last much longer, here) looked lush against the grey backdrop of the sky, and it was easy to make believe.

"Oh look! A little cottage in the woods!" Snow proclaims, when she finds the dwarfs home. (Side note: Disney calls them dwarfs, but I couldn't bear. Hence the title dwarves.) Though Max and I didn't knock on any doors (or sneak in, clean house and take a nap either) this was the 'cottage' that we found in the woods :)

And, in a coincidence that could not be more fortuitous, across the road from our little cottage was an apple market. In particular Hall's Apple Market, which I can tell you with authority has delicious apples this time of year and makes a MEAN apple cider.

There's honestly no fruit better than a crisp apple in the fall. And the spices, oh, the spices! Call them pumpkin spice or apple spices, they are deeeeeelicious spices!

If there's any lesson to be learned here, from Snow White, it is this: Trust your apple vendor.
After procuring some delectable apples, we headed deeper into the forest. I'm not going to lie, our Disney Date essentially consisted of going for a long (and kind of cold) walk together. But you know what? It was perfect. Even though it's one of the simplest things we can do, we often don't find the time to walk (or bike) together, in spite of the fact that transportation by two feet and heartbeat is something I genuinely enjoy very much. To be outside, especially when there's a nip in the air, is so life affriming and refreshing. In short, it was glorious. And I'm happy with the results we got from playing outside in the woods.

The day helped us along, but we did deliberately go for a moderately melancholy and creepy vibe. After all, when Snow runs away, the whole forest spends a good 5-7 screams worth of time trying to eat her. 

 Snow, in her hysteria, had some seriously creepy trees to deal with. I remember disliking that part rather strongly as a child- especially the alligator logs (probably didn't help when I encountered an alligator later and was pretty much paralyzed. Not impressed with invisible things with large, hungry mouths full of people eating teeth. I know, how quirky right?) Anyway, after spending some time in the woods at dusk, I think we can say that it probably doesn't take much imagination to think the trees are watching you if you're tearing through the forest in a fright. I know these trees were eyeing us up!


At least, I'm pretty sure. We didn't stop to ask. But they qualified on my 'real life creepy'.
  Snows trees are a tad more animated, however. All the better to snatch you up, my dear!
 

 
 
 
 
After we were finished playing in the woods, it was time to take the apples home and make some magic. When Snow is discovered by the dwarves, and strikes a deal to cook and clean in exchange for staying, it's her affirmative answer to Doc's question that scores her permission to stay. That question is "Can you make.. apple dumplings?!" So apple dumplings, naturally, is what we had to try. Between that reference and the infamous poisoned apple, apples were clearly the fruit of the day!
 
I'd never made (or even had) apple dumplings before. But we rustled up a recipe, and went at it armed with delicious fresh apples. The process was a little messy (We don't have much in the way of counter space; no pastry roller or pastry cutter...) but the result was scrumptious. Warm, gooey on the bottom and flaky pastry on the top, smelling of cinnamon and all manner of heavenly delights, these apple dumplings were definitely a win.
 
We used a potatoe masher as a pastry cutter and a wine bottle (I always have one of THOSE handy!) as a roller. We made seven dumplings (one per dwarf!). Most of them are already gone... whoops!!!
 
 
 
 
 
Ingredients:
 
Sauce
·         2 cups water (personally I think you could do with a bit less. We had quite a lot of liquid.)
·         1 ¼ cups sugar
·         ½ tsp. cinnamon
·         ¼ cup butter or margarine
 Pastry
·         2 cups all purpose flour
·         ½ tsp. salt
·         2/3 of a cup shortening
·         1/3 to ½ cup half & half cream or whole milk
Stuffing
·         2 tbsp chopped raisins (we used golden)
·         1 tbsp honey
·         2 tbsp sugar
·         ½ tsp cinnamon
·         1 tbsp butter per apple
And
·         7 small cooking apples!
Directions

1. For sauce, in a medium saucepan combine the water, the 1-1/4 cups sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Add the 1/4 cup butter or margarine. Set aside.
 
2.  Meanwhile, for pastry, combine the flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the half-and-half, light cream, or milk over part of the mixture; gently toss with a fork. Push moistened dough to the side of the bowl. Repeat moistening dough, using 1 tablespoon of the cream or milk at a time, until all of the dough is moistened. Form dough into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to an 18x12-inch rectangle.* Using a pastry wheel or sharp knife, cut into six 6-inch squares.
3.  In a small mixing bowl combine the raisins, walnuts, and honey. In another small bowl stir together the 2 tablespoons sugar and the 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Set aside.
 
4. Peel and core the apples. Place an apple on each pastry square. Fill centers of apples with raisin mixture. Sprinkle with sugar-cinnamon mixture; dot with the 1 tablespoon butter or margarine. Moisten edges of each pastry square with water; fold corners to center over apple. Pinch to seal. Place dumplings in a 2-quart rectangular baking dish. Pour sauce over dumplings. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 35 minutes or until apples are tender and pastry is golden brown. To serve, spoon sauce over dumplings. Sit back and seriously enjoy!
Nutrition information
Per serving: Calories 722, Total Fat 36 g, Saturated Fat 9 g, Cholesterol 5 mg, Sodium 299 mg, Carbohydrate 99 g, Fiber 3 g, Protein 5 g.
 
This is what we ended up with:
Some serious yum, yum, yum.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Who could resist? I may or may not be eating these for breakfast. Oh, and all the other meals, too.
 
We were definitely rewarded. If Snow makes better dumplings than these, she's welcome to come live with me, too!! Please do!
 
One last photo from our adventure to send you on your way. This leaf was stuck to my coat when we headed home :) I guess it wanted some dumpling, too. Well sir, I can't blame you.

Happy Fall, Disney Daters! May all your apples be sweet and not poisonous! (I know, soooo thoughtful!)
 
 
 
 
 


Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Snow is Just Around the Corner!

Both literally and figuratively!

Max & I spent a lovely hour and a half curled up watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarves the other day. I was so warm and cozy it was hard to resist falling asleep- did you know they have a solid 3 sleep scenes in that movie? Snow White is sure prone to a nap- I don't recall Sleeping Beauty induldging in multiple lie downs a day! Of course, if you don't get up for 100 years, I suppose you've had your beauty sleep!

In any case, we're brainstorming as to what our Date shall be-- trying to find something suitable, feasable, and not too expensive! Easier said than done. Any ideas, anyone?

In the meantime, here's a little Disney related treasure for you all to check out!

10 awesome Disney songs which didn't make it into their movies!

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!!

See you soon,
Sarah

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Anne of Green Gables

Wow, ok!

Where did September go?

Well, I’m proud and excited to announce that Max and I (and two tenants, with more on the way!) Are all moved in to our new house! We’ve scrubbed and hustled and spent a small fortune at IKEA, and are now cozily nestled into a home of our very own. With all the furniture moving, lawyers, agents and general madness now behind us, it’s great to have the time to take a deep breath and appreciate having our own time and space...
In between midterms and work, of course! (We’ve had 2 midterms so far this week!)
While I would recommend buying/moving into/ trying to find renters for/ & buying furniture and general household stuff for a new home while simultaneously being homeless in a city you’ve never been to before AND setting up everything at your new school AND job searching to the faint of heart, now that the majority of it is over or well underway it was a well worth it experience which led to us meeting some awesome people, and was actually kind of fun.


Bonus: Our first mail in our new place!

In retrospect.
 Whew! Well, now you know where our September went, anyways. And I must say, the little things- like using your own kettle again! Are really adding up to be amazing, and we’re appreciating it all the more since we’ve had to live in a tent to get where we are now! (Also, how cool is it to live in a country where you can literally camp in the capital city? IN the city! Only in Canada!)

So it’s time to play a little catch up with everything. We’re really looking forward to getting the DD project back on track, so I hope you’re looking forward to reading all about it!

Back in the middle of August (eons and ages ago!) we had the opportunity to go on a mini adventure which, while not technically Disney related, I think should qualify as a bonus round. In addition to driving from Halifax to Ottawa, Max and I decided to side trip to PEI- Canada’s smallest province, a place which neither of us had been to, and also world renowned as the beautiful red sandy beached home of Anne of Green Gables.  


 PEI was everything I hoped it would be. Immediately likeable, fun to drive, beautiful around every corner you took. The red sand was soft, warm, and fabulous. The ocean was surprisingly warm and the sun shone—the only thing we could have asked for was more time!
We took the ferry from Nova Scotia to PEI, and drove till sunset, at which point we stopped to find a camping spot. We managed to find a little home run operation, at which we were the only tenters; so we set up for the night and even took a secret midnight dip in the lake!
 
We had a slow morning waiting for the tent to dry, during which we re-explored the lake and were gratified to find it was sprinkled with red sand. After a fruit & OJ breakfast, we were on the road!

We followed the signs for the Points East Coastal drive, and took the road to Brudenell River Provincial Park. I have to say, driving past some of the loveliest farms I’ve ever seen and looking past the fields out onto the ocean had a pretty magical air to it!

Once we reached Brudenell River, we pulled over to explore the beach. This was our first real stop in PEI, and we weren’t disappointed. It was early enough that we had the beach mostly to ourselves; the ocean was playful, the sunshine was friendly, and the view was spiced up with the last lighthouse we got to see on our East coast summer adventure.

After soaking in what we could of the summery day, we hopped back in our old faithful car and trundled along the Easter road until we hit the highway towards Charlottetown.
 
After a quick touristy drive about Charlottetown, we headed out onto the Central Coastal drive—PEI has its prettiest highways explicitly marked, for the ease of highway tourists like us—which we followed for the rest of our day in PEI.
When we were getting close to Cavendish, my Green Gables enthusiasm started spilling over, at which point Max had to admit he’d never even heard of this “Anne of Green Gables” character. Well, obviously that was something I couldn’t abide by; so we pulled over at the next available opportunity...
A "jem" of a bookstore, heheh!
After this quick rest stop, we wooshed right into Prince Edward Island national park, where we had our second beach walk of the day. We ooh’d and ahh’d at the stunning red cliffs; drooled over the fabulous beach at Cavendish; and even managed to find a secluded little cove beach which we had all to ourselves!

After play time—this was, after all, the last time we’d see the ocean until who knows when! We headed forth to our main destination. We pulled into Cavendish, followed the signs, and descended right into the madness of Annepalooza.

The Green Gables Anne lived at was a secluded haven in the world; but the modern day surroundings are anything but serene. Anne is a profitable business, and the proliferation of touristy amusement parks, mini golf, old time photos and even a tourist mart pay homage to the tourist money brought in by one of the world’s favourite red heads. Still, this was nothing we hadn’t seen at Mt. Rushmore or Niagara Falls; even Lake Louise doesn’t escape busloads of tourists bursting with Asian languages. It’s only as cheesy as you make it. With that in mind, we drove through the tumble, looking for the more modest amusements of Green Gables itself.

Apparently that was our mistake. Although I’m not sure how we missed it—even among the masses of signage, the Avonlea sign is not small—we managed to drive right past the Avonlea village, a tourist trap built to ensnare the more rustic minded. Avonlea, we decided, was something that we did indeed need to see, having driven all this way; so we coughed up the cash and headed inside the mini village.

There are some things worth seeing in Avonlea, especially with kids. The candy shop does a decent job and the general store was on the fun side of quaint.  The schoolhouse was one that Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of the series, used to teach in and the walls are decorated with photos of her life. That alone was worth seeing, to me. The prices were completely decent considering the surroundings, and wandering around the village were some very recognizable characters!

 All together now: The general store; Myself & 2 lovely ladies known as Anne and Diana; Max & the schoolhouse sandcastle; The schoolhouse; tiger lillies in the Green Gables garden and the town parade.

After our meet and greet, a short play, a peek at the village parade and a quick trip through the petting zoo we were back on the road.

Our last stop was here: The Lucy Maud Montgomery house. While the setting has changed quite a bit since her days, it was still a view worth noting.
Driving through PEI was probably the nicest drive I’ve done, and I’m speaking as someone who recently drove from BC to Halifax. Our visit there was entirely too short, and someday we hope to go back, perhaps to bike the Confederation trail. But the excitement of meeting Anne was very akin to meeting the Disney Princesses—and for a Canadian like me, that makes a proud moment indeed.

So, Max and I are back in the blogging ball game. How were your Augusts (and Septembers!)? Have you read Anne of Green Gables?
Much love,
Until next week, (we swear!)

Sarah & Max

Friday, 31 August 2012

Coming soon!

Hi, guys! Im so sorry Max and I have been so absent! We've been up to some Disney Dating but mostly, August has been consumed by the surprise enterprise of buying a freaking house! So, Max and I have moved a few provinces over to Canada's Capital, Ottawa; where we've been living in a tent while we house shop!

You can see why blogging was a bit tricky, no?

But things are getting back to normal-- we've finally found the place (We're proud new proprieters of a property on Aladdin Lane. Perfect, right?) and we'll be moving in in 2 weeks! Eep! So now its a matter of finding some furniture and getting everything sorted and moving between places while starting classes. Sounds fun right?! But we have some special Disney and ish dates to share: A side trip to PEI on our move over led to an impromptu evening at Avonlea, and then Disney will be taking back over!

Sorry to keep you all waiting. As soon as we have our own internet again, I'll share some pictures from our adventures! Until then, hope you all had a great August- I cant believe it's gone already!

Talk soon,

Sarah & Max

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Disney Date: Alice In Wonderland

A Madcap Adventure

Alice in Wonderland is the first date from our Disney Legends list. We chose it because the activities we thought of for it were pretty simple, and it's been so long since I saw the original Alice movie I was very excited to see it again!

Our Alice date consisted of a seriously hefty dose of Alice. In sum: Alice in Wonderland the play; (A children's musical, but with some adult humour here and there!) Alice in Wonderland the movie (Disney Cartoon); then a brief break and onto Alice, Tim Burton style.

Safe to say, a lot of Alice.

Our day started with the play, which was done by Shakespeare by the Sea, a wonderful establishment in Halifax which performs plays ourdoors in Point Pleasant Park over the summer. Their focus is Shakespeare (their version of the Merry Wives of Windsor was hilarious!), but as you can see, they do other things as well!

The Red Queen & Alice (photo from the Chronicle Herald)
Since it was 1 pm on a Sunday, of course lots of families came out to see the play. Their engagement and interaction was wonderful-- the Red Queen even ended up in a bit of a dialogue with one of the kids, headed in to act two, which was just as funny as any of the written humour.

The play was well done, creative, and entertaining. As always, Shakespeare by the Sea was a joy to watch. I wasn't enchanted by the musical numbers as much as I was by the animated Alice, however, which was a bit sad for me- I love to sing along!

Still, it was a great date, and we brought along a blanket and some snacks and lemonade for sitting out in the park. An hour walk there and an hour back to the house later, it was all well worth it (and the lemonade was gone!)

Part two of our Date was the food section. This was kind of twofold: we made some tea size snacks for ourselves, but since we're mid move to Ottawa my tea and tea pots are packed, so we also went out and had ourselves a teaparty, inspired by the Mad Hatter, March Hare and Doormouse's wonderful (if haphazard) spread.

The tea party turned out wonderfully. We got our tea on at The Sweet Hereafter, a cheesecakery that's only about 10 minutes from our house along Oxford Street.
Exterior of Sweet Hereafter & the owners pictured
The Sweet Hereafter stands out with its cool painted exterior, but the inside is where it really shines. Aside from being filled with a bajillion different flavours of cheesecakes and cupcakes, its a very cool interior decor that was well suited to our Alice vibe!
Our seats & tea spread!


We got a pot of vanilla bean tea, which was delicious; and two cupcakes, which were equally amazing and went sooo well with the tea. Plus I was hyped because come on, cupcakes. One was even free because we were accidentally served the wrong one. So he let us keep it! <3!

Our home cooked snacks were alas, not as glamorous. But we tried! And they tasted juuuuuust fine! We made vlaai, a dutch dish that I'm still confused about (Max said that this one, while tasty, was a poor example of vlaai), and mini cheesecakes. Drool. The recepies are here (cheesecake) and here (vlaai), except that I used a homemade graham cracker crust on the cheesecakes. 
After our meal, it was Alica Marathon time. We snuggled on the couch and watched the animated Alice... and I have to say, I didn't enjoy it nearly so much as I remember. It was much stranger than I recalled and it alarms me to say that as an adult (arguably, anyways) I didnt find it as enchanting anymore. Also, the bit about the walrus eating the oysters-- well, that's always creeped me the heck out! And I honestly didn't remember it all ending with Alice waking up (and deciding that she does like things that make some sense, after all). It was good to watch, it's been such a long time- But I think after having seen Burton's update so recently, I expected more of a plot than I got. Sad! And overall, even though I didn't enjoy all of the nonsense (though a lot of it I did- ahh, the flowers singing! The bit where Alice accidentally wrecks the white rabbit's home! And visually, I do find it stunning) I'm not sure that I like that the takeaway message seems to be that one should pay attention to thy history lessons and squash that pesky imagination.

I do, however, like the takeaway from the updated Alice. I love that adult Alice gains such confidence from facing and triumphing in Underland. And for me, it was a treat to have real characters in the Mad Hatter, Queens, doormouse and other additions. And again, visually- unf! What a fun film to watch just for all those colours and spectacular design! I think Tim Burton was a fine match for an older Alice, indeed.

Overall, our Alice week was a fun mess of festivities, and how I love tea parties! Probably my only regret is that nobody did the futterwacken!

Till next time,
Sarah & Max

 

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Disney Date: Monsters Inc

Hi everyone!

This week's Disney Date didn't go down as planned. Things still turned out pretty awesome for us, but this week's movie is going to be a 2 part blog post because the original date we planned still hasn't happened yet. We have to wait on it a bit :) However, we still had a fun and super cool date night, so you still get to hear about our adventures!

Without further ado, welcome to this week's Disney Date: Monsters Inc!
MIKE! - monsters-inc Wallpaper
A thumbs up is in order.

Monsters Inc. was a genius movie, for me. I didn't find it quite as funny the second time around- Alas, the pressure I place on Pixar to be perfect! And I suppose I am quite a bit older (ugh, time flies) but I was re-impressed with the ingenuity of a world  built around the idea of the monster in the closet. And why the monster would be in the closet, and why the parents never catch them, and as a side bonus, the truth behind the Loch Ness Monster, the Yeti, Bigfoot and the Abominable Snowman. As it seems I always am (there's that pressure!) I was so impressed with Pixar's creativity and execution. Plus, I got a huge kick out of watching Max giggle at it, since he'd never seen it before (and he thinks I'm the one who grew up in a cave!).

The adorable solution to the monster's energy crisis turns out to be the power of laughter. So, with that in mind, Max and I decided an ideal date would be a trip to a comedy club. Something we're a bit nervous about (there's nothing more painful than not-quite-funny) but also excited for, because we've never gone to a comedy club together, or as a date at all! (I've been to one- the Second City in Chicago. Kind of a tough act to follow...!)

So, we picked a day and headed downtown at the appropriate time, arriving with enough time to pick good seats. But suddenly, a rather large hitch in our plan: the comedy club is also a bar, which I hadn't realised, and therfore I'd also neglected to bring my ID (we walked, and all I had was my camera). I suppose my born in the barn roots were showing a bit, there. But though we had plenty of time to pick seats, we definitely did not have time to make it all the way home and back downtown. So, huge kink in plan A, which was kind of sad because we watched Monsters Inc on Monday or something crazy and waited all the way till the weekend to go to the show. Boo!
Boo from Monsters Inc making a boo face!

So suddenly we had a free evening. Luckily, it was a summer Saturday night in downtown Halifax, so it's not like its that hard to fill a free night!

Extra luckily for us, this weekend was the Tall Ships Festival, meaning there's a plethora of simply stunning sailing ships in town, parked along the Halifax and Dartmouth waterfronts. So we took to the waterfront instead, and spent our evening moseying along the crowded walkways and admiring the ships.
Top: 2 of the ships; Bottom: A mast reflection in a waterfront building's windows and myself at the waterfront
I have to admit, few things have inspired wanderlust in me like these ships did. They were gorgeous, and moveable homes which travel the world. What more could a girl ask for? Alas, my wanderlust is matched stride for stride by a persistent sea sickness. So maybe someday, if I conquer that plague... Max was equally delighted, especially once we discovered the pirate bouncy castle park (I kid you not). And equally inspired with wanderlust, although his main issue was concern about the vegetarian fare on a round the world voyage. I guess the life of a pirate is probably not for us. At least the bouncy castle pirate kingdom was ours for the taking!

The evening was perfectly finished off with a fireworks show, followed by all the ships honking and blowing their whistles, a sound which echoed all around Halifax and faded into the dusk perfectly. The slight chill, haunting sound, and smoke on the waterway leftover from the beautiful fireworks show is one of my favourite summer memories so far.

Sushi and Fireworks! Huzzah!
Though it was now around 10 pm, our night was not complete. Our Monsters Inc inspired dinner had yet to be eaten! We'd planned to eat a bit earlier but not much about the night was going as planned (which we figure is actually perfectly suited to a Monsters Inc date!) so we headed homewards. Because on our own little street is one of the very best sushi places in town, the Wasabi house. *wipes away drool*


We chose sushi because sushi is the special date Mike and Celia are enjoying when Sully barges in with the bag of terror that is Boo. (By 'terror', I really mean 'adorable'. But this is the monster world, things are a little backwards!) In any case, a sushi dinner seemed like just the thing. And really, I'd never pass up the opportunity for a good sushi dinner. (It was delicious!)

And so, though the evening was nothing like we planned, it was fantastic. Never the less we plan to re attempt the comedy club this week, braving amateur and student night. At least now we know liquid courage is available, if needed!

Until then!

Sarah & Max