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Thursday, 31 July 2014

Bucket List Update - St. Andrew's and Ossie's

Bucket List Progress:
1.  The Zoo (Progress: a petting farm, an aquarium)
2.  Kings Landing
3.  Eat at Ossie's Lunch
4.  Make Pickles
5.  Playgrounds (Progress: We're up to 4!)
6.  Uptown Self-Guided Public Art Tour
7.  Farmer's Markets (Progress: We've been to 1! Queen Square)
8.  Visit St. Andrews
9.  Buskers Festival

I made some progress on my Summer Bucket List!

This weekend, we took a (quick) trip to St. Andrews. I think St. Andrews may be one of the most beautiful towns in New Brunswick. It seems to live and breathe heritage. I bet it's stressful living there, because the heritage bylaws are probably strict, but my goodness, the care and pride that they take in their community shows! Just beautiful. 

We decided to start our visit with a trip to the Community Playground, aka the massive super awesome playground. I had only been there once before, with a group of students, and remembered it being really fun. It was even better than I remember. It was built 21 years ago, and recently went through some improvements, like composite boards where foot traffic is heavy.

Really, it's a kid's dream. It looks like a castle with towers to climb in. The walkways are narrow and "kid-sized" and there are lots of hiding spots. There are also many extras hidden throughout, like a chime you can play made of pipes, a plinko type board that you drop balls down, and a big kaleidoscope. It's also a parent's dream, because there are wood chips at the bottom of slides, rubber on the ground under the swings, and the composite boards make splinters less likely.

Slides were slid down, swings were swung on, towers were climbed and wood chips were (thankfully) not eaten. It was a good time.

Wood chips by the slide. (They look fresh.)


A little "extra" - every so often,
you'd see a little carved creature
in the wood. I liked the
whale the best.


Lots of places to climb your way through.

Lots of baby and mini swings!

I loved all the art work too! (I'm a huge fan of
public art, and since kids (literally) had their hands
in this, it's even better!)

More artwork - I liked the kids names in clay.

I swear, you let this kid have time
on a swing each day, and
he'd be in heaven!
After a good time at the playground, we headed off to the Huntsman Discovery Aquarium. I haven't been there for MANY years. They built a brand new building a few years ago, and I've been eager to see it. I always loved seeing the seals, exploring the touch tank, and seeing all the fish that are normally found swimming well below the water's surface.
When we walked into the building, I was immediately impressed. It seemed big and open. I was a bit shocked at the admission though. For myself, my husband, and C. (who was free) it cost $28! I thought that was steep, but since it was new, I figured that there must be a lot to see and do. With admission, you can come and go as much as you want throughout the day. We weren't able to take advantage of it, but it would be a bonus if you were in town for the day, so you could catch multiple feedings - salmon, sea horses, and seals.

It was almost time for the seal feeding, so we quickly headed there. We passed a smaller scale feeding. Can you tell these fish know where their food comes from? They looked hungry!

The seal pool seemed small at first, but it was definitely bigger than it seemed.  I think the interpreter said it was the legal size for six seals, but they only had two. I can't imagine six in there, but it was great for two. As they were feeding the seals and giving their talk, I couldn't help wonder why I always liked seeing the seals. They are very common in our harbour -  so common that our QMJHL team is named after them! (The Saint John Sea Dogs) I see their little heads poking out of the water on an almost daily basis while driving across the Harbour Bridge, and yet I was mesmerized! Maybe it's the fact that I can get much more up close. I'm not sure, but I love them!

We were just in time, so we had to stay inside and watch through the glass. This explains the fuzzy pictures, too. Outside, there were balconies to the left and right of this pool.



 
Later on, we went downstairs and were able to see the seals swimming below the surface. C got a kick out of them swimming, his head moving back and forth, following their moves, and his hands touching the glass to try to get closer.
 
 
A view from a balcony outside

There were also a couple tanks you could get close to  by the upstairs seal pool - a touch tank and a skate tank. There weren't many people around, but even if there was, the touch tank was big, so I don't think you'd have to wait too long. That was a definite improvement over the old building.
A starfish - C. was very careful!
He also liked the rocks. Ha!
I think he just liked the cold, salty water.
 
Recently, they added a salmon tank and a seahorse tank. The salmon swim round and round and round. I wonder if they ever get bored. Do fish get bored? The seahorses have the same toy holders that Little C has!
 
 

Here are a couple of pictures from two of the other tanks. I don't know how the numbers compare to the old aquarium, but there seemed to be fewer tanks than the old building. (I could be wrong though.)
Grumpy fish

One of the bigger tanks - it's hard taking pictures
through the glass.I need to read up on how to do that.

There were also a few displays with pictures and write ups, and some rooms that I assume they use for their kids camps. I think there is also a theatre, although I didn't see one. There were a few doors that were closed, so it was probably behind one of those. There was a little area with a boat that kids could sit in, but it was occupied, so we didn't get to see that.

Overall, I'm really glad that we visited, but I was a little disappointment on the size and number of displays for the price we paid. C. loved the seals and had a great time,  so I'm satisfied, but I can't see us going back any time soon. I would say that if you were going to go, make sure that you can come and go throughout the day, so you can see all the feedings, or try to visit on a day when something special is happening.

On a side note, I have visited the New Brunswick Aquarium and Marine Centre, in Shippagan, NB, many times. It is definitely larger and more affordable. Our family would have cost $17, and the visit would have been much longer. If you are ever on the North Shore of New Brunswick, I highly recommend it.

As a finale to our little mini day trip, we pulled off the highway at exit 45, to eat at Ossie's LunchI haven't been there in two years. It's been WAY too long. Since I was a child, it was a "must do" every summer, on the way back from a stay in Digdeguash. Everything is good at Ossie's so you won't be disappointed, but they're known for their fried clams. (I've mentioned before the Chef Michael Smith says they are the best in Canada!)  As far as I know, everything is fresh.  They were recently recognized for their use of fresh local products by Food Day Canada. I know I'm getting a little off topic, but I love them so much and want them to be around for many more years! With the new highway, they are easy to miss.  Don't miss them! (Exit 45 on the highway between Saint John and St. Stephen)

Ossie's is a bit old school. You walk up to the counter and place your order. They write it down, add it up by calculator (or in their head), take your money, and then you get a number. You can then choose a picnic table and wait for your number to be called.  When your number is called, you go back up and pick up your food on a bright red tray and take a seat at the bright red picnic tables. 

I got a small seafood platter, so I could get a little of everything - clams (yum), fish (yum), shrimp (yum), AND scallops (YUM!!!) It was all yum. C didn't have any of the shellfish off my plate, but probably ate half of the piece of fish (minus the batter.) Hubby had the clams. Everything was SOOOO good. They have a very light batter, so you taste seafood instead of just greasy batter. The thing I like the most is that most of the plate was filled with seafood and not fries. As an added bonus, they make their own tartar sauce - it's a dream - kind of dill-y and a perfect match for the seafood.
Some people may say that Ossie's is a bit pricey, but it is WORTH it! You're paying for fresh local seafood and a great experience. Don't miss out!

(On a side note, like their Facebook page - they are drawing for two free lobster rolls on Monday! - the link is above. You'll also get to see all the drool-worthy pictures of their food!)

So that was our mini-trip. I'm on my way to getting things checked off my list. I basically have three weeks left of maternity leave.  I hope I can get it all done!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

"Blend & Extend" Taco Salad

A couple weeks ago, I found this website, http://www.blendandextend.ca/. It was created by the Beef Farmers of Ontario and Mushroom Canada. The idea behind it is adding mushrooms to your ground beef to stretch out the beef while adding veggies at the same time.

After meeting with a dietician, I realized how out of control the meat servings I've been eating have gotten.  Did you know that one serving of meat is about 100g, raw. I guess a hunk of meat, like a steak or chop wouldn't be too bad at 100g, but ground beef is pretty small when you're looking at 100g.  I thought that this was a great resource, so I tried it out this week. 

One of our favourite meals is tacos.  I often make my tacos into a taco salad. It's easy to over do it on taco shells or wraps and meat, so when I saw the recipe for a taco salad, I knew I should try it.

You can find the recipe here: http://www.blendandextend.ca/portfolio/taco-salad/

I had to make some changes to the recipe, because I didn't prepare nearly enough before getting groceries. Luckily, all worked out, but it could have been a complete kitchen disaster.
  • I used Mini-Bella mushrooms, they worked great
  • I didn't have a red pepper, so I omitted, but next time I'll make sure I have one (or a mix of green, red and orange)
  • I didn't have Tex-Mex seasoning, but I did have a packet of taco seasoning, so I used that.  I ended up needing a lot, so I think I'll try the actual seasoning next time.
  • The recipe calls for one can of diced tomatoes. In my mind, a can is a 28oz can. Not right. This recipe requires a 14oz can.  Sadly, I only realized it after I poured the entire can into the pan, so I had to carefully pick out half a can worth of tomatoes.  I didn't quite get enough out, and hopefully I won't make that mistake again. Thank goodness I realized, because it would have been gross.
  • I also didn't have an avocado. I usually do, but they weren't ripe at all this week, so I didn't buy any this week. I did, however have some all natural guacamole, so I used a little dollop of that.
  • Also, no sour cream. (Seriously, what DID I buy for groceries???) Luckily, I use greek yogurt in exchange for sour cream all the time, so that's what I did.
  • I also added spinach to the lettuce. 
I also didn't have all the required kitchen tools.  Without a food processor, I had to use the old knife and cutting board and cut the onion and mushrooms up fine.



There was a lot of food on that plate. It doesn't look like it, but it was a big plate with a sky-high salad. Lots of green veggies. It was delicious and even got the husband stamp of approval. That's a tough one when lots of vegetables are involved.

This is definitely a make again meal. Hmmm, what other recipes can I blend and extend?

Monday, 28 July 2014

Double Chocolate Skor Cake

I successfully made my husband's birthday cake this weekend.
Double Chocolate Skor cake and cupcakes
It's not the first time I've made his cake, but I think this is the first 100% made from scratch birthday cake, so I was pretty proud of it.  It's also one of those skills that mums (or parents, in general) need, right? Homemade birthday cakes are so much more memorable!

To give you an idea of what I've done before, here are a couple of cakes from the past:



You've got the dark side vs. the good side
(good side? light side? what is it Star Wars folks?)
Yoda floated on his own cake.
This was a "Star Wars" cake - made with chocolate cake (from a box) and boiled icing. As you can tell, it was a treat for the taste buds AND the eyes! (Can you tell I have zero experience decorating cakes? I do have a sense of humour though!)





Another year, I just decided to make a simple chocolate cake with lots of boiled icing. (Also made from a boxed cake mix.)

Can you tell I like chocolate cake with boiled icing? I do. A lot. I especially like it when there is leftover icing... It's so good. (Let me know if you want the recipe for that icing - it's easy and soooo yummy!)



A few years ago, we bought his birthday cake from a local cupcake business, Saint John Cupcake Salon. Sadly, that business has since closed. The cake I got him was based on his favourite cupcake - "Toffee Time." It was a vanilla cupcake, topped with delicious chocolate buttercream and toffee bits. Since we miss that business so much, I thought I'd try to make my own version of the cake.

The Cake: The original cake was a three level vanilla cake, but I decided to do a one layer chocolate cake and a dozen cupcakes. I used my reliable cake recipe, found here. It makes a really chocolate-y moist cake, so I wasn't going to mess with perfection!

The Frosting: For the frosting, I used my own recipe.  The recipe that goes with the cake on the above website never really worked for me.  It was really good, but didn't spread the way I like, so I decided to make up my own recipe, based on what I usually use for vanilla buttercream. It turned out great, so I thought I'd share below:

The Topping: I frosted the cake and cupcakes, and then poured toffee bits into a bowl. (I use Skor baking bits, but in the U.S., I think I've seen heath bits. Just look for some sort of toffee bits in the baking section, where the chocolate chips are.) It took about a package and a half for the cake and cupcakes. I sprinkled Skor bits on top of the cake and gently pressed them to make sure they would stick. On the sides, I put the toffee in my hand and pressed them into the sides. The cupcakes were much easier - just roll them in the bowl of Skor bits. If you eat the cake the same day, the bits are still crunchy. The next day, they get kind of "melty." Both are really yummy.


Chocolate Buttercream:
Note: I was able to frost a single layer cake, 12 cupcakes and still have about 1.5 cups leftover, so this would do a double (or maybe even a triple) layer cake.

Ingredients:
1 Cup butter (softened to room temperature, not melted)
1C + 2T cocoa (sift to remove lumps)
6 C icing sugar (sift to remove lumps)
1/2 C milk
2 t vanilla
(you could also add a little espresso powder or instant coffee to give it a hint of a mocha flavour like the cake)

Instructions:
1) Beat softened butter and cocoa together, with paddle attachment. (I assume a regular beater would work, too.)
2) Add 4 C icing sugar, one cup at a time, beating well in between
3) Add 1/4 C milk and vanilla and beat well
4) Add remaining sugar one cup at a time, beating well
6) Add remaining milk until frosting is desired consistency
7) Frost your cake and enjoy the sugar rush!

Friday, 25 July 2014

PEI Vacation - List of Possibilities

I've been searching and searching for some baby and budget-friendly activities for our little vacation to the "Gentle Island." Here are some of our ideas. We may not get to see everything, because it's only a four day trip, but at least we have some options.  

1) The Butterfly House - ($14 for our family) This will be a repeat activity for my husband and I, but it's all new for C. I'm interested to see what he thinks about the butterflies. Hopefully they won't scare him! I'd never seen so many big colourful butterflies in one place before visiting the Butterfly House.  They seem to be quite friendly and will even land on you.

If you've never been there, it is part of the PEI Preserve Company property. They have created a gorgeous walking trail called The Gardens of Hope and invite you to enjoy the view,  "and let the sights and sounds of nature be sources of  peace, refreshment and inspiration." They have also built a Respite Cottage for families or caregivers dealing with terminal illness.  I think they're doing something pretty special.

If you visit, stop and buy some preserves (my favourite is wild blueberry and raspberry with champagne) and have a bite to eat at the restaurant. I ate there for the first time last year, and it was not only delicious, but the  staff was helpful and friendly and the restaurant itself was gorgeous. Its huge windows let in natural light which filters through the numerous pieces of colourful stained glass.

As you can tell, I can't say enough good things about this business. I love a business that goes beyond the business and creates an experience while giving back to the community. I'm excited to return to take in the sights (and hopefully some bites.)

2) Lobster & Mussels from Doirons Fish Market in North Rustico. If my husband has anything to do with it, this is probably  where most of our money will be spent! We love lobster, and usually buy it at home from a local fisherman, but it's not lobster season now, so it's really expensive. Lobster always seems to be a good price in PEI during the summer, so we always take advantage when we visit. It's also fun going to a lobster supper, (I like New Glasgow Lobster Suppers) but I don't think C would sit through a 3-4 course meal! Maybe next time.

3) Charlottetown: There seems to be a lot going on in Charlottetown for PEI 2014, so I think we'll check out the free events in the "Celebration Zone." There are buskers and kids performers, so hopefully we can find some kid-friendly entertainment. We're also hoping to eat at a restaurant, but I need to do a little research to figure out what kid-friendly restaurants are in the area. I'm looking for a place that has a high chair and doesn't mind a cute little boy eating cheerios and nibbling off of his adults' plates in their establishment. :) Any suggestions?

4) The Flavour Shack: I just learned that this is a thing! It's Chef Michael Smith's little shop (or shack) and features local products and Chef Smith's cookbooks.  Maybe this could be an excuse to buy a new cookbook! It's in Souris at the Souris Beach Gateway Park. It makes me wonder what else is there. I can't imagine that it's the only little business there. (The best part is that it's free to look!)

5) By the River Bakery in Hunter River: forget the eating well, I'm getting a coconut cream pie! This is always a stop on the way to Cavendish. Cookies, pies, macaroons, it's all good. I can't mess with tradition, can I? 

6) The Great Canadian Soap Company: Usually The Great Canadian Soap Company's goat's milk soap is the only soap we use, and I'm all out! I also love their other products - the baby soap, astringent, foot soak, dead sea mask, lip balm... Can you tell I love this place?! I am going to stock up while I'm there, and visit with the goats! There are always cute little ones, and they're all friendly!  


7) Kings Castle Provincial Park: This place is kind of creepy, a bit of a throwback, and I love every bit of it! It's basically a park with old statues of fairy tale and story book characters. I'm pretty sure that I have pictures of me there on my first trip to PEI, (way back in the summer of '86!) and I visited there about 10 years ago and thought it was hilarious.  If we are able to, I thought it would be a nice place for a picnic and some funny photo ops. I think there may be a playground there too. It's a bit out of the way, which is good and bad - it probably doesn't get overly crowded, but it means that it takes more time to get there.  Fingers crossed that we get to see the old creepy statues!

8) Island Hill Farm - This was a bit of a lucky find through a Google search. I was looking for places to visit animals. This place has had good feedback on their Facebook page and has posted a lot of nice pictures on their Twitter account. I'm hoping that they will be accepting visitors when we're there. I think C will like to get up close to the animals. 


A few of my favourites: Beavertails at the Boardwalk,
PEI Dirt Shirt store (both in Cavendish), the breakwater
& lighthouse in North Rustico (up the street from Doiron's
Fishmarket), The Toy Factory in New Glasgow (by the
Preserve Co.), and Anne of Green Gables Chocolates
Other than those, we are planning a few regular "try to dos" which don't take any time or planning and we'll fit them in, if we can:

  • The Toy Factory - fabulous handmade toys that are simple and (I think) encourage creativity. I'm thinking about doing a little Christmas shopping (although I shudder at that thought!)
  • PEI Dirt Shirt (Little C needs a souvenir!)
  • Beavertails
  • Cow's Ice Cream (Gooey Mooey is my favourite!)
  • The Cavendish Boardwalk - my favourite tourist trap
  • Anne of Green Gables Chocolates - I dream of their maple chocolates
  • Visit a lighthouse
  • Walk on the beach


I'm also going to try to squeeze in a visit to Village Pottery, in New London.  I love that store more than any other store. I could honestly drop an entire pay check in there. Or two. I have a pretty big collection of their mugs, tea cups and bowls, and love them ALL. They all get used too.  I rotate them, so that they don't feel lonely in the cupboard! That's how much I love them. Sadly, my husband has basically told me that I really don't need any more mugs. That may be true, but wouldn't a new coffee mug be a perfect "End of Mat. Leave/Return to Work" gift to myself? I think so. I just have to figure out how to get there...

One of the things that I've been trying to do for the past few years is see Irish Moss being harvested. Some family had seen it done years ago, and I thought it looked so interesting.  Some harvesters still use horses on the beach to do it! I know that there was a bit of a crash in the industry, but it is still harvested.  I've learned that it's best to see after a "big blow or storm," and that Tignish is the closest community to the harvest sites. I'm thinking that this will be a no go for this trip.  Going on a hunt for something that I may not be able to see is probably not on my son's list of fun things to do! While I'm there, I'm going to try and find some more information. 

The only other plans we have are to relax and have a great little vacation with our family! Do you think there will be time for relaxation?

So, what do you think? Am I missing a great kid-friendly, budget-friendly attraction? Any recommendations or feedback is VERY welcome! I'll be looking for new places to visit while I'm there, and I'd love to hear about your favourites!

PEI - Here We Come!

We had said that we weren't taking vacation this year. Maternity leave equals a "pay leave," so that makes vacationing a little more difficult, financially.

We had said, absolutely not, no way, no how, but we were really sad that we weren't going to make a trip to PEI this summer, because it's one of our favourite places to visit each summer. Why? Well, it's usually warm, but not too warm. The people are friendly, and it's kind of like home, but different enough to make it a bit of an adventure, with lots of new things to see and do. We always find something to do, but are also content just relaxing, something that can be difficult to do at home. In addition, the food is delicious - we're all about the food, especially seafood. (We're true Maritimers!)

So all we could do was dream of a little vacation, feeling a little sad that our summer would be void of any trips.  Then, my parents called and said they were renting a cottage for a long weekend and invited us along. I (sadly) said, thank you, but no, we decided that we weren't going to go anywhere this summer. 

Later in the day, I mentioned the conversation to my husband. The next thing I know, I hear him on the phone to my mother saying we'd go. So much for solidarity. Ha! I really can't complain though, because I'm just happy we're going. Isn't that one of the best parts of marriage? When your partner just knows what your family NEEDS and finds a way to make it happen? A weekend of relaxation, fun, and (of course) lobster is just what we need!

So, now I'm in planning mode. (I love being in planning mode!!) It may only be a four day trip, but it will be Little C's first vacation, so it has to be a good one. Actually, a nice short vacation like this is a perfect way to see how he'll make out travelling.  

Before we did anything, we had to think about a vacation budget. We had some money set aside for summer fun, but now we need to boost it up a bit.  So, we've listed some things on kijiji, and have already raised some money that way, and are now planning a yard sale.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I've had many yard sales over the years. It's a great way to turn clutter into cash. Since we have a lot of clutter right now, it's perfect timing. It's a lot of work, but it will be worth it, if it's a success.  Fingers crossed for good weather in the coming weeks. So, now I'm gathering, sorting, and pricing. Fun, fun, fun.

Now I'm planning for what we're going to do. We want to make this a budget-friendly vacation, so I'm looking for inexpensive activities on PEI. We're staying in a central spot, so I think we'll stay in the middle of the island, and maybe take a day to explore the Points East Drive on the eastern side of the island.

I just want to see something new.  We go to PEI most summers, so we've seen all the popular tourist traps. I want to see something different. The challenge is that my son is only 9 months old. What does a 9 month old like to do? I know that he likes to see new things, so that should be easy. He also likes animals, so I'll try to find some of those. What he doesn't like is to stay still for long, be strapped into a stroller for long, but he can't walk yet. It makes it a little more difficult. I'm up for the challenge though!

Any ideas?

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Pre-Zoo Animal Visit

Visiting the zoo is on our bucket list, but I wasn't sure if Little C would enjoy it or not. Sure, he loves our dog and cat and pretty much any animal he's come in contact with, but I wasn't sure if it would be worth paying admission to the zoo or not.  Can an 8 month old really enjoy the zoo? I wasn't sure.

To see if he would be interested, I thought I'd take him to Brunswick Nurseries, a local nursery.  They are well known for their trees and plants, but also have a little petting farm - a local favourite among children.  It would be a good test run for the zoo. I hadn't been there in over 10 years, so C and I decided to check it out.

First up, the pigs! When reading a farm book, the pigs have been C's favourite, and the real thing didn't disappoint.  He thought the pigs were so funny.  He laughed and laughed and laughed. I'm not sure why they were so funny to him, but he loved them. They just sat there looking at him. Maybe they had some sort of piggy-little boy inside joke. 

Next, goats. As goats usually are, they were very curious! Can you tell someone to our left had a carrot for them? I could tell C. liked these too. They weren't funny, like the pigs, but he was mesmerized. I think it was because they were so interested in him.
There were more animals than I expected there to be - sheep, a donkey, llama, cow, peacocks, chickens (and a rooster), bunnies, ducks.  A wide variety for his first encounter with non-household animals. 
Donkey and Cow sniffing around
My favourites were the peacocks.  There was one male and a few females.  The male had his feathers spread the entire time we were there, shaking them for the females.  Sadly, the ladies did not seem interested. I don't think I've ever seen peacocks with their feathers up in real life. I only wish he had more room to move around.  Hopefully he gets time in the bigger open area.   

Duck pond. This guy was huge!

One of two groups of ducklings. Cute!
After seeing the animals, we took a short walk through the woods.  They have a nice little landscaped pond, with goldfish and waterfalls.

I think they call this tree the Octopus tree. There are quite a few trees like this one along the trail, but this is the biggest.  Imagine, all that is normally in the earth under each tree we see!
It was a great hour at Brunswick Nurseries.  We were also there to find some flowers to replace some seeds we planted, but didn't grow.  Sadly, we didn't find anything, but they did have some great looking plants.  (I guess I should have put more effort into my gardening before the end of July!)  Overall, I'd say our pre-zoo visit was a success. Now we just have to make our way to the big zoo!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Bucket List Update: a Playground & Buskers!

This weekend, I was able to start checking things off my summer bucket list.  Writing a bucket list and posting it in the kitchen was the best thing I could have done for myself this summer.  You see, as a scatterbrain, I have a hard time focusing.  You'd think when I get unscheduled time that I would have lots of ideas for what to do, but no. I go completely blank when it really matters. So this weekend, when I was thinking, "What should we do today?" I just looked at the wall. 


Little C and I started with a trip to the playground. We went to the little one down the street. It's not the first time we've been here, but the first time since making our bucket list. It's a shame, because the park is not what it used to be. Maybe nostalgia is clouding my memory, but I remember this park being awesome when I was a kid.  It was probably an old rickety wooden structure back then, so it is probably safer now.  Now, there are swings (two for babies). teeter-totters,  and a faded plastic play structure, complete with cigarette burns on the slide and broken glass mixed into the sand.  Probably like many playgrounds. The perk to this park is that it is a two minute walk up the street.  There is another park across the street, associated with a school, but I figured that it wouldn't have baby swings.  We'll have to check it out.
Luckily, C doesn't walk, so he's not in the sand and the baby swings are pretty safe.  Even better, he doesn't notice any of the bad parts.  He just knows that he gets to swing higher and higher and higher while swinging his feet, letting the wind blow through his hair, and laughing hysterically.  Life is good.

I love seeing animal foot prints, but didn't expect to see them on the playground! Obviously, a deer decided that he or she wanted to have a little playtime at the park.


Later that evening, we decided to hit up the Buskers festival uptown.  Buskers on the Boardwalk happens every year.  (This is it's 24th year!) I'm embarrassed to say that I've never seen them.  I've seen performances in other cities, while travelling, but never at home. This is especially strange, because I LOVE street performers.  I love walking uptown and hearing people play music on street corners, at the farmer's market, or outside the bank.  You really never know what to expect - from cellos to kazoos.  I love it all.  That's why I don't understand why I've never gone to see Buskers on the Boardwalk over the years.  Well, this weekend, the wait was finally over!

Since it was the evening, we only had a couple of hours, but there was still a lot going on.  We started by watching Alakazam, also known as "The Human Knot," although he wasn't doing the human knot performance when we saw him.  His act seemed pretty simple, but amazing at the same time. He climbed up a pole that was supported with ropes held by volunteers.  While at the top, he entertained the crowd with a lot of humour and a little knife juggling.    
Alakazam
The think I find really interesting about watching Buskers is the before and after.  They set everything up and take everything down on their own.  When Alakazam was done, he packed everything up in this little suitcase.

The next group to perform was Inferno, a juggling circus-y act that used fire. I could tell that the kids in the crowd were really excited.  It was fire. You don't get to play with fire like this (at least not without getting in trouble!) Again, I was fascinated with the set up.  They would take the parts they would be juggling, dip them in some sort of fuel, then swing them round and round. I'm not sure why, but I think it may have been to draw the excess fuel off.  It seemed to be a very precise procedure. 
It was a good show, but I think it would have been better if it had been had been a little later. The flames would have been a lot more impressive had it been darker. The kids were impressed regardless of the time of day though... it was FIRE!
 
 
 
When that show was over, we had to head for home.  A certain little boy was getting tired. I think the best part of the Buskers festival is all the little acts that are scattered around.  Even on our way back to the parking lot, there was a lot to see.
 
The Human Pinata

An Artist painting the scene
 
Miss. Mary, who magically floats
 
A wind up "doll" -
some kids asked how old she was, and she proceeded to
count, and count, and count, and count...
 

I'm always amazed by chalk art. 3D without the glasses!

 
 
Bucket List Progress:
1.  The Zoo
2.  Kings Landing
3.  Eat at Ossie's Lunch
4.  Make Pickles
5.  Playgrounds (I'm working on it!)
6.  Uptown Self-Guided Public Art Tour
7.  Farmer's Markets (Boyce, Kingston, Queen Square, St. Andrew's)
8.  Visit St. Andrew's
9.  Buskers Festival

Up next: Ossie's Lunch & St. Andrews