Welcome to Plaid Eggnog!

Welcome to Plaid Eggnog!

May 24, 2010

Chili con Cocoa for supper

Steve recently had a craving for homemade chili, and Julie suggested trying a chocolatey variant. The base recipe came from www.Hersheys.com but here it is after Steve's adaptations:

1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 lb mushrooms, chopped
1 lb ground beef
2 Tbsp cocoa
2 Tbsp chili powder or ground cayenne pepper
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 can whole tomatoes, undrained
1 small can tomato paste
1 - 2 cups water
3 oz. dark chocolate (ours came from a chocolate bar, not baker's choc.)
1 can kidney beans, undrained
1 can other beans (ours included black and romano beans - chili needs a bean variety, IMHO)

Cook beef in frying pan; drain fat if necessary. Add onions and fry 2-3 minutes. Add green pepper and mushrooms, fry another 2-3 minutes. Pour it all into a crock pot.
Add tomatoes, water, tomato paste, beans, and all spices to the crock pot, and stir to blend.Cook on High 30 minutes.
Break dark chocolate into small pieces. Add to crock pot and stir until melted. Cook on High another 3 to 4 hours.
Serve over rice.

May 23, 2010

Why should Christians care about Jesus' resurrection?

That's a big question...ever wondered what Christians really think about this?

Whether you're a Christian, or not, or just not sure, check out this great article. It's short, clear and profound, with the intriguing title "The Church must stop trivializing Easter."

May 18, 2010

On Busyness

Chronic busyness seems to be the disease of our time. Here are some thoughts on busyness, including some tongue-in-cheek and some serious ones. Enjoy, be encouraged, and be challenged & changed, as you see fit.

Atheism is the religion of the busy      - Fay Weldon

A prayer for the busy:
Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being. Guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget you, but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
              - Book of Alternative Services, Anglican Church of Canada

May 17, 2010

Snowy Lake Louise - by Julie

Earlier this month, I took my parents to see the famous Lake Louise, in the Rockies of southwestern Alberta's Banff National Park. (It's about a 12-hour or 1200 km drive west from Hudson Bay.)

We all expected to see the picture-perfect lake, with its distinctive colour that's somewhere between robin-egg blue and turquoise.

Well...it wasn't quite like that when we were there...

In fact, it not only snowed the whole time, but the lake itself hadn't even lost its snow and ice cover yet - including deep snowdrifts - despite our visit being in May!

This photo shows our only glimpse of the lake itself - you can just sneak a peek at the greenish water under the snow.

We found that Lake Louise has its own beauty in the snow, and we enjoyed a winter wonderland instead.

Plus we found some fun in the snow that we wouldn't have found otheerwise...thanks, Mum, for this photo!

The only part of the Lake Louise visit that wasn't so popular was the news that grizzlies are often in the area. Here, my mum is less than impressed by the trail sign's grizzly warnings.

In all, we decided that Lake Louise was well worth a visit, whether in winter or in summer. There's much to enjoy at any time of year, regardless of the weather. And here we are, attesting to that fact. But if you do visit the famous spot anytime other than summer, here's a piece of advice....bring your winter gear, especially some decent-weight gloves and a hat!

May 15, 2010

Gryffin promotes Lizzy's Fresh Coffee

Lizzy's Fresh Coffee, a little micro-roaster café in Ketchum, Idaho (pop. 3,000) has chosen a photo of Gryffin for one of their coffee labels this month! They use submitted images on most of their coffee bean packages, and choose new ones monthly.

They call their dark-roast blend "Bad Dog." A while ago we submitted a photo of Gryffin destroying our feather-duster, and it's the May winner! See the image of the package, from their website (left).

Our prize included a photo credit; the pride of seeing one of our images used in a funky way; and four free 12-oz packages of Bad Dog coffee beans! Yumm!

Just as good: we received a Coupon Code good for a 30% discount on any coffee orders we or any of our friends, family, co-workers, etc. place during the month of May. Here's the code if you want to order your own bag of Gryffin's Bad Dog Coffee, or another of their fine products: PH36744. Good through May 31st.

Good Dog! Good Bad Dog, too!

May 13, 2010

Ascension Day in Arborfield

Today, May 13th, is Ascension Day in the Christian calendar. At our Church of the Ascension in Arborfield, that means a party!

To the right, you see some of the smiliing Church of the Ascension folks, in front of their church building. They're showing off the 2010 Book of Common Prayer calendar, which displayed a photo of their church building this April and was distributed across Canada.

But back to Ascension Day...we'll start with a yummy supper, then go outside to the church lawn for a short service, including a brief talk, prayers and singing. The focus will be on Jesus' ascension into heaven, returning to his Father, after his resurrection from the dead - and what this means for us today.

Then comes more fun - a balloon launch! We'll each have one or more helium balloons to release into the sky, symbolizing both the ascension of Jesus and our releasing of prayers up to God. This is the part the children like best, and there is usually a virtual horde of them taking part in this aspect of the outdoor service.

This year, it's supposed to be sunny and warm - much better than last year's rainy launch. Even then, though, the balloons brought smiles. Check out how carefully Elaine Kapeller and grandson Marshall are choosing their balloons from Steve the Soaked Balloon Man.

In fact, the only creature we know, who doesn't like the balloon launch, is...you guessed it...Gryffin the Welsh Terrier. Here's his reaction to having balloons blown up and stored in his "space" - otherwise known as our church office in Arborfield.

Will you be in Arborfield today? Why not come along for the fun?

Even if you can't physically participate in the party, here are some prayers you can use to participate with us from across the miles:

Almighty God, your Son Jesus Christ ascended to the throne of heaven that he might rule over all things as Lord. Keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit and in the bond of his peace, and bring the whole of creation to worship at his feet, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (Book of Alternative Services, Anglican Church of Canada)

GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that like as we do believe thy only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into the heavens; so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, Anglican Church of Canada)

May 12, 2010

Drumheller Day - by Julie

While my parents were visiting us here in the Wild West earlier this month, I took them on their first trip over to Calgary, Alberta (1000 km / 600 miles west of Hudson Bay). En route, we stopped in Drumheller, one of my favourite towns in Canada, for its uniquely beautiful location in the semi-arid badlands and its dinosaur connections. (The Drumheller photo to the left was taken by my mum.)

Drumheller is the home of the Royal Tyrrell Museum, which boasts one of the finest collections of dinosaur skeletons in the world. We didn't stop there this time, but the museum is well worth a day all by itself.

What we did do was stop to see the world's largest dinosaur - check out how big this Tyrannosaurus Rex is! (That's my mum and me, waving from the toes.) This giant dino is 26 m (86 ft) high, about 4 times the size of a real T-Rex. (Thanks to Dad for the photo.)

This T-Rex was hungry, too...take a look at how she crept up on my parents! But they escaped, and we sped off to Calgary.

I'll leave you with the Flintstones theme song, since it seems so appropriate:

May 5, 2010

Eat your peas - whatever they look like

As we get ready to put our veggie-garden in (hopefully the flurries will stop soon...), we thought we'd try a few different ones this year.

That meant catalogue-shopping, since most stores in our area carry rather basic varieties of the usual culprits - peas, carrots, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, cukes, etc.

Our most exotic seeds came from Heritage Harvest Seed, and include:
Albino Beets, with sweet, white flesh;
Dragon Tongue beans, yellow, 6 inches long with purple streaks;
Purple Dragon carrots, with purple skin and yellow-orange flesh;
Sweet Meat squash, slate-blue skin colour, about 10 lbs mature;
Black Hungarian peppers, a hot pepper variety;
and 3 varieties of tomatoes (although last year our tomoatoes were a total flop. Hopefully this year!)

From Vesey Seeds in the maritimes, and other more local seed merchants, we've rounded out the garden with Green Zukes, Gold Zukes, pumpkins and other winter squash varieties, patio-pickles, yellow wax beans, lettuce, spinach, and "ordinary" carrots and beets.

What's growing in your garden?

May 2, 2010

Sprouting up all over!

Garden season is almost here! Just a few more weeks and we'll be dropping our seeds and seedlings into the vegetable patch in the backyard.

Last year, our garden's result was rather disappointing. The beans and peas did well, we harvested more carrots than we could eat. But got very few squash or zukes, our spinach was sparse, broccoli and tomatoes practically non-existant.

A few days ago we started some of our seeds indoors, to give the tomatoes, cukes, squash varieties, peppers, and so on a running head start. Now they've started popping up! Exciting! We'll leave the beans, carrots, beets, greens, etc. for later, once the ground warms up (and the air! it's +2c (36f) with light flurries as I write this...)

Stay tuned; next time I'll list the interesting and exotic varieties we're planting this year...