Sunday, February 14, 2010

with glowing hearts

The 0pening Ceremony of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics moved me to tears. Tears of pride for my home country and hometown and also tears of sympathy for a family who lost a son during luge training on Friday. With that tragedy in the back of our minds we are still trying to enjoy the Olympic games as best we can.

During the ceremony I was pleased to see the involvment of some of British Columbia's aboriginal peoples, known as the First Nations. The Four Host First Nations , the Lil'wat, the Squamish the Musquem, and the
Tsleil-Waututh worked together with the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) to make the games a reality.

An inukshuk was chosen as the Olymic logo as a symbol of hospitality and friendship. The figure is based on the statue that has had its place at Vancouver's English Bay since 1987.

We have our own little inukshuk right here at home.

We're also enjoying the adorable Olymic and Paralympic mascots - Quatchi the sasquatch, Miga the sea bear and Sumi the animal spirit. And let's not forget Mukmuk the wee marmot who comes all the way from Vancouver Island. He's a sidekick, not a mascot, but I think he's my favourite.

If you're into arts and crafts, you can download these guys (except for Mukmuk, sadly) here. They are just so darn cute!

During the festivities and competitions you may have noticed an awful lot of people wearing chunky red mittens. And not just any red mittens, the official Olympic mittens with the Olymic rings on the back and a white maple leaf on the palm. And guess what? Thanks to some very thoughtful grandparents we have two pairs! They are soft and warm and such a nice souvenir of the games. Here they are pictured with a very fluffy Quatchi, a present to Boy13 from his grandmother when we visited Vancouver in 2008.

The (English) Olympic motto this time around is "With Glowing Hearts", part of 'Oh Canada', the Canadian national anthem. I think it's a wonderful choice and really symbolizes what the games are all about.

And speaking of hearts, let's not forget that it's Valentine's Day. Everyone around our house was spoiled with treats and we had this pretty pasta for dinner with a smoked salmon cream sauce. Yum.

Yes, my heart is glowing today. I hope yours is too.

Friday, February 12, 2010

winter's icy grip

I like winter, I really do. But could it be over soon? Please? Freeze, snow, thaw, freeze, snow, thaw. It's getting kind of old, you know? We had another bunch of snow over the past couple of day and people are slip sliding all over the place.

One interesting aspect of the continual freeze/thaw thing has been the wonderful icicles at our house

I've heard that this is a sign that your roof is poorly insulated, but I'm in denial because these are so pretty

defying the laws of gravity

I like the contrast in these two pictures...

Remember our little snowman family? Well, they also became victims of the big thaw that took place a couple of weeks ago.

Before they started melting for real, SnoDad leaned in to share a secret with SnoKid

and SnoMom got a fluffy new hairdo.

Several days later they had all been reduced to these sorry lumps. Wahhh!

Humans aren't the only ones who have it tough in winter. When the ground is completely covered in snow, birds can have a hard time finding food. So make sure you put out some nice snacks for your feathered friends.

Blackbirds looove apples and nuts. Chickadees will do anything for sunflower seeds.

I tried making my own suet cakes this year with vegetable fat, oatmeal, chopped nuts, mixed bird seed, raisins and cranberries. The birds don't seem to be all that enthused but have slowly been eating them, mostly out of desperation, I think. Oh well.

The streets have been icy, very icy. There have been small snowplows out and about clearing the roads as best they can, but our cul de sac never gets plowed. Well, hardly ever. Some time in January a guy with a plow came in, pushed all the snow to one side and left us with our own little mountain right where people used to park. How convenient. I have no idea if a neighbour hired him or if he was sent by the city, but really, this thing has frozen into a 5 foot tall chunk of ice and will probably be there until May.

Since you're obligated in Germany to make sure no one slips on or around your property, we've been pretty busy. If you own your own home, you have to keep your walkway and the sidewalk in front of your house free of ice and snow as best you can. If there's no sidewalk, it's a one metre strip of the street that must be cleared and kept clear from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. on weekends. No excuses. If you're sick or on holiday, you have to ask someone else to do it for you. If the mailman or the paper boy wipes out, it's ALL your fault. If you rent, snow clearing duties will be spelled out in your rental contract or your landlord may choose to do the job him/herself.

Well, I've done my duty for today. Time to build a new snowman!

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Friday, February 05, 2010

spread the word

Well, trust World Nutella Day 2010 to get me up and blogging.

Hosted by Bleeding Espresso and Ms. Adventures in Italy, it's a great way to see what creative souls all over the globe are doing with everyone's favourite chocolate-hazelnut spread.

The last time I participated was in 2007 when we were right in the middle of remodelling our kitchen. Can't believe it's been three years already. This year I'm busy de-cluttering our weensy house but I still found time to dig my knife into that big ol' jar.

I'm calling this one Nutella Cinnamon Swirl.

I used Lynsey Lou's recipe from last year, but made a loaf instead of buns and just slapped on some butter, Nutella and cinnamon sugar as a filling. Sure smelled great coming out of the oven and I love the texture of the dough - almost like a French brioche.

Guess how many pieces are left? I may have to make another one (or two) tomorrow. I may also have to buy larger pants if this keeps up.

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