Monthly Archives: June 2015

Doors Open Halifax 2015

Doors Open Halifax

Three years ago, Halifax started this really great new event called Doors Open Halifax. According to their website, “The mandate of Doors Open Halifax is to make available to the general public, free access to buildings of historical, contemporary or architectural significance and to generate interest in our built environment.” 

This year, there were 30 venues all over Halifax that opened their doors to the public! Josh and I didn’t have time to see many of them, but there was one in particular that I was really excited about: Beth Israel Synagogue.

Josh’s work is right next to this synagogue, and I’ve always been curious about it. I love seeing and visiting different places of worship, especially non-Catholic ones. There is something so intriguing how others worship and honour God!Doors Open Halifax Beth Israel SynagogueDoors Open Halifax Beth Israel Synagogue
Upon entering, Josh had to wear a Kippah, the black covering on top of his head. We were greeted very warmly and enthusiastically by their volunteers, and they were excited that we had come to visit their community. They led us through a tour of their two beautiful stained glass windows, the sanctuary, and their smaller prayer chapel. It was clear that they take great pride in their synagogue. Doors Open Halifax Beth Israel SynagogueDoors Open Halifax Beth Israel Synagogue

The main sanctuary. It was so cool to see it, because it doesn’t look much different than any other church. This makes sense to me, since the Catholic tradition is built off of the Jewish faith. Doors Open Halifax Beth Israel Synagogue

A volunteer showing us their prayer and hymn books, written in Hebrew that they use in the smaller prayer chapel. Doors Open-6Doors Open-7

One of their stained glass windows that depicts the history of the Jewish people.Doors Open-8
Doors Open Halifax Beth Israel SynagogueDoors Open-11Doors Open Halifax Beth Israel SynagogueDoors Open-12

A clock with Hebrew letters!Doors Open-14The second stained glass windows that shows all of the important holidays and traditions in their church calendar.

What a great event. I am so excited for next year, to visit more of the venues offered. I am so thankful to Beth Israel for opening their doors to us to visit their wonderful community.

 

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Halifax Cedar Festival 2015

Cedar Festival Halifax

I love the summer here in Halifax, there is so much to do! I know it isn’t quite as busy and active as some  bigger cities like Toronto or Vancouver, but there is always something to do in the city during these precious warm months.

A couple of weekends ago, the annual Lebanese festival happened. It was held at Our Lady of Lebanon Parish, and the main drawing feature was, of course, the food.

Josh and I both lived in Ottawa for a while, where one doesn’t have to go far to fine shawarma, a Lebanese street food. Shaved meat, garlic sauce, pickled turnip, onion, and lettuce all on a warm pita bread. I could eat one everyday.

Cedar fest definitely had shawarma on the menu, but we wanted branch out and try something new. Enter mankouche.

Cedar Festival Halifax

 

Mankouche za’atar is a savoury arabic treat that consists of  baked flatbread with a  topping of  olive oil, thyme and sesame seeds. Its folded up and eaten like a pita. New comfort food? I think so. Cedar Festival Halifax mankouche zaatarCedar Festival Halifax mankouche zaatarCedar Festival-12
Cedar Festival-14

So not only was the food delicious, but it was handmade by a number of volunteers from this parish. This one right here? She is the one who made ours and hand delivered it while gushing over Joe. To me, not only is the taste of the food important but the experience of the food. Cedar Festival Halifax baklawa nammouraOh, and I can’t forget about the dessert. Baklava (phyllo pastry, butter, chopped nuts, sugar syrup) and Nammoura (wheatlets, sugar, butter, milk, baking powder). My grandmother on my dad’s side was Armenian, so I grew up with home made Baklava, which is probably one of my favourite desserts of all time. I need to learn how to make it!!!
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We were enjoying our food and we heard all of this commotion. Four Range Rovers drove in, people started running and a crowd started to form. People were going crazy taking pictures and there were cops doing crowd control. I figured it must of been some sort of Lebanese celebrity. Turns out it was the Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gebran Bassil. I thought it was pretty interesting how famous he seemed. I don;t think we have the same reaction to politicians here 😉
Cedar Festival-10Cedar Festival-11We enjoyed our visit. It was free to get in and we paid about 8$ for our food (Mankouche Za’atar, and 3 pastries), which we weren’t upset about. The grounds are fairly small (the church parking lot), so there wasn’t a whole lot to see. I didn’t see any activities for kids, although we went on Friday evening so they may have had something during Saturday and Sunday.

It was something different for us to do, while satisfying our taste buds. It also is a fundraiser for Our Lady of Lebanon Parish, so we are happy to support it. I would definitely go again!

Cedar Festival Halifax, Our Lady of Lebanon Parish Halifax Cedar Festival-7 Cedar Festival-6 Cedar Festival-5 Cedar Festival-4 Cedar Festival-3 Cedar Festival-2

Reading: The Birds Rained Down & When The Saints

Halifax Public LibraryOne of my New Year’s Resolutions was to read 10 minutes every day. Growing up, I loved reading, and could often be found with my nose buried in a book.

While I was in university, I stopped reading for fun. Being forced to read hundreds of pages definitely turned me off. Strangely, I didn’t pick it back up when I graduated. I think part of this was because I found new ways to spend my time – on the computer with Facebook, Instagram, and other websites that allow me to wander mindlessly, wasting time.

Over the past year, I’ve had a desire to step away from my screen. That might seem funny considering I started this blog. But I find writing in here is purposeful and reflective, and allows me to grow personally. I wanted to step away from mindless internet browsing and return to more “slow” activities that cultivate good qualities in myself. Activities like photography, writing, cooking, and reading.

I’ve had a really difficult time getting back into reading. I just don’t know what I like to read anymore! A nasty residue leftover from university is that I want things I read to be educational and will somehow improve my knowledge of something. Those types of books are great, except they don’t really allow me to get lost in a world of characters and imagry.

Halifax Public LibraryYou know how you can pick up some books and can’t put them down until you’ve read the whole thing? It seems as though you are transported into a character’s life, as though they are a real person. You find yourself thinking about the story, even when you aren’t reading the book? And somehow, even when you’ve finished it, the story lingers with you?

I haven’t read a book like that in a long time.

Two weeks ago that changed! The Halifax Public Libraries have books on display that are “Rapid Reads”, meaning that you only get them for a week. They are usually some of the top-selling books, therefore are super easy to read. Normally I love to browse the bookshelves and pour over titles, trying to pick one that I think I would enjoy. However, having a young baby who just wants to MOVE has put a stop to this practice. On a whim, I decided to check out one of the Rapid Reads and give it a shot.

When-the-saints, rapid read, Halifax public libraryI briefly read the inside cover of When The Saints, by Sarah Mian, a Canadian author who lives in Queensland, Nova Scotia. This debut book is set in two fictional rural towns in Nova Scotia, and is about a broken, outcast family coming together and learning how to love. I thought it sounded pretty good.

It must have been good, because I finished it in 4 days. 4 DAYS!!! I loved it. The main character, Tabby Saint, is one that I quickly came to love. In terms of family names, she comes from the worst of the worst, she’s a Saint. When she is 14 she is shipped away to a school for troubled girls, and disappears for the better part of a decade. But she has come back to her old town, to settle her demons and help bring her family back together. This book is hilarious, crude, and wonderful. There is a great review in the Toronto Star here. I would recommend this book for sure. I’m really looking forward to more books by Mian.

The second book I read is And The Birds Rained Down by Jocelyne Saucier, another Canadian author. Originally written in french and translated to english, it the story of a photographer’s journey to chronicle the great bush-fires that occurred in Northern Ontario during the early part of the 20th century. In her search to speak to and photograph the last remaining survivors, she (the photographer) uncovers the story of a boy who walked through six days of inferno to find the twin girls he loved. Believing him to still be alive, her search takes her to some secluded cabins in the woods of Northern Ontario, where he lived with two old men who “disappeared” many years before. This unlikely party of 3 is later accompanied by an escaped elderly psychiatric patient who has never known life outside of the hospital. It is a wonderful story of tragedy, love, and lost love.I just loved the lyrical nature of the book, and to peek inside the lives of people who would rather stay hidden. An awesome book and excellent read.

birds

I read 2 books in 2 weeks and I am feeling so encouraged. I am going to visit my parents in PEI for a week, and their home is the perfect reading hide-away. I am excited to bring a few books with me – I hope I can curl up and discover new authors that I love!

 

 

Apple Blossoms and a Sea Monster

Apple Blossom-13This past weekend was a good one, even though Joseph was battling his way through a tough head cold and all parties were operating on little sleep. He had been sick since Wednesday, and I wasn’t sure that I could stand one more day in the house in such beautiful weather!

Here in Nova Scotia, especially in the Annapolis Valley, we are known for our apples. At this time of year, the Valley hosts the Apple Blossom festival. It’s super cute to drive to this part of the province and participate in the festivities. Last year we managed to take in the parade. They always have great activities for families – I can’t wait until my kids are older to take them around to the fun stuff!

We decided to skip the parade this year (Joe can’t appreciate it anyways!) and see if we could take in some of the historical properties that are included in our Nova Scotia Museum Pass. We stopped in at Prescott House, thinking for sure it would be open because Charles Prescott was so instrumental in the apple industry in Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, we arrived only to find it didn’t open until the following Monday. Oh well, it is a gorgeous property and we thoroughly enjoyed touring around. It’s just an excuse to come back!

Isn't it so stately? I felt like I was in Anne of Green Gables

Isn’t it so stately? I felt like I was in Anne of Green Gables

It was on such a gorgeous property.

It was on such a gorgeous property.

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Apple Blossoms!

Apple Blossoms!

I LOOOVE big trees

I LOOOVE big trees

Don't you just want to park yourself down and have a picnic?

Don’t you just want to park yourself down and have a picnic?

We stopped in for lunch at the Fry Daddy’s in Windsor and had some GREAT fish tacos.

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MMMMMM fish tacos :)

MMMMMM fish tacos 🙂

Sunday was a bit more dreary, with rain coming down in spurts that Halifax is known for. We had friends visiting from Saskatoon that day, and we told them they were lucky they got to see Halifax in its natural habitat! Haha. They have 3 kids, and Josh and I were trying to figure out where a good spot would be for kids on a rainy day. We settled on going to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. I love touring around all of the old model ships, but I could tell that their favourite parts were the 2 kiosks with 20-year-old computers, the “movie” rooms with movies on the Halifax Explosion and Titanic that seemed to be made in the 1990’s, and the gift shop.

Getting attacked by the sea monster. Joe is practically rolling his eyes HA!

Getting attacked by the sea monster. Joe is practically rolling his eyes HA!

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A figure head of St. Patrick that was on the mast of a boat coming from Ireland...so cool!

A figure head of St. Patrick that was on the mast of a boat coming from Ireland…so cool!