Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Trees - Nova Scotia style!

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:  the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. 
 ~Burton Hillis

It's interesting what kinds of Christmas trees you may find in Shelburne County! I want to share with you some great trees, designed and decorated in a unique way.

The first one is our Lobster Pot (Trap) Christmas Tree the Municipality of Barrington constructs each year at the Cape Sable Island Causeway. A tree very fitting for the Lobster Capital of Canada! The tree looks beautiful when lit during the Municipality's Festival of Lights (December 1-4, 2011).

Lobster Pot Christmas tree - Photo by Candace Nickerson

The Lobster Pot Christmas Tree lit up at night

The fireworks lighting up the night sky over the Cape Sable Island Causeway during the Festival of Lights
 - photo by Ken Chetwynd

This next tree was constructed by Clark's Harbour resident Paula Atkinson and Stephan Cunningham. Made from drift wood that they collected over the summer months on many of our wonderful white sandy beaches. They decorated it with great little buoys, lighthouses and shells for a complete nautical theme! 

Driftwood Christmas Tree by Paula Atkinson and Stephan Cunningham - photo by Bonnie Blades

The tree is topped with a lighthouse! - photo by Bonnie Blades

Lights and buoys help to decorate the tree - photo by Bonnie Blades

 This next tree was created by myself. My love of the beach shines through with this Christmas tree. I call it my "Colors of the Beach" tree. I used sand color garland and water color ribbon to wrap the tree in. It's decorated with sand dollars and seashells and glass balls, that I call my beach balls; filled with sand and seashells. I added a sand bucket, lobster trap and a beach towel under the tree, and used some Nova Scotia tartan for a tree skirt. The tree is topped with a star (fish!) and a scallop shell. Now I can dream of the beach all winter long!
My colors of the beach tree topped with a starfish and scallop shell

"Beach ball" ornament - filled with beach sand, seashells and a tiny starfish!

Nova Scotia tartan acts as a tree skirt. A sand bucket, lobster pot and beach towel are under my tree - So, when are you coming?!

Merry Christmas everyone, from all of us in Shelburne County

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Let's Go Surfin' Now, Everybody's Learning How...

"We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open."

~Jawaharlal Nehru

My Queen of Awkwardness title was put to the test yet again a couple of weeks ago when I received an email from Donna at White Point Beach Resort inviting me to try surfing with a group of other "virgin surfers" and then again from Cynthia asking me to blog about a surfing experience for  Yes, I said surfing; don't laugh like all my friends did! Now dory rowing was one thing, I mean, I had a partner to steer me in the right direction when I failed to do the right thing....but letting me loose on a not-so-big board in the Atlantic the waves??? I totally saw where this had potential to take me! Had I been asked to do this a couple of years ago, I probably would have said no, but these days I find myself more open to new things and a willingness to try something new when given the is short. Oh, and let's face it, I'm also more open to not caring whether I look like a fool or not, which is why I said yes so quickly to this!

I was anxious and excited on my drive from Barrington to White Point...many things going through my head. How big will the waves be? Will I be the only one who won't get up on the board? How much sea water do you think one can swallow before it kills them?  How do you think I'm gonna look in a wetsuit?? Ok, that last one's a little vain....but hey, anything to make a girl look and feel a little thinner!
I pull into the Rossignol Surf Shop, located on the Resort and head upstairs to sign my life away...ummm....sign the waiver. A couple of the other girls that will be trying it out for the first time are also there, and they look about as anxious as I that makes me feel a little better! We head downstairs to get sized for our slimsuits, errrr....wetsuits. My first time in a wetsuit and it was kinda like putting on a full body Spanxs suit...only wetter  and colder, but it was all good 'cuz I felt slimmer! By this time, everyone that had been invited to give this surfing a try was there and ready to go. We were all laughing and joking around (getting pictures of our new slimmer selves!), but you could sense that everyone was a bit nervous about what was coming next. 

Kelly, Me, Monica and Nick - some of the Virgin Surfers all suited up and ready to go! 

Our instructors for the day gave us a quick on land lesson, we all had to lay on our boards and quickly get into a standing position. Quickly is a relative term, right?  Just shred, is what we were told to do. Shred?  Do good we were told. Surfing lingo. Shred….shred….ok! 
Getting some on land instructions from the great team at Rossignol Surf Shop

We all hopped into the lake, where we would get a few more instructions on how to do things. Sit up on the board, turn our boards in a 360 motion, and flip our boards (in case a big wave was coming and we wanted to avoid it by hiding out under our boards). Did he say hide from a big wave?  So, after all that we are instructed to paddle across the lake and head over the rocks to the ocean.
Learning some surfing techniques

As I climbed up over the rock ledge with my surf board in hand I get my first glimpse of the ocean and you know what? It really never gets old, as many times as I look out over the ocean the vastness and sheer beauty of it always takes my breath away…the sound of the surf is like heaven to the ears.  We line up on the beach and get a few more pointers from our instructors and we head out into the surf.
The view as we came over the rocks - spectacular! 

Heading out into the Surf
The water was exceptionally warm, yet the waves were a bit intimidating and as the day progressed they got bigger and bigger. Which I’m sure is a good thing to the advanced surfer! I guided my board through the water, lifting it each time a wave would come so as to make my journey out into the deeper water easier. My instructor (I will note all the instructors at the Rossignol Surf shop are amazing and patient!), told me to hop on my board and he would tell me when to paddle and when to stand up. Huh? Stand up? Ok, so I paddled and when he told me to stand, I tried but through the laughing/screaming I fail my first attempt. I tried several more times and needless to say I never did quite master the art of standing up on the surfboard. BUT I did ride the waves which was exhilarating in itself. The rush of the waves whether I was on top of them or getting hit in the face by them is something everyone should experience, plus there’s nothing like a mouth full of salt water!
My view from the board 
Playing in the ocean - what a great way to spend a day! 
This one was a bit harder than the experts make it look, but well worth trying it and another thing to cross off my bucket list. I had a lot of fun, laughed and screamed more than I had in a very long time and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my surfing experience Looking around at the rest of my group of virgin surfers it appeared that everyone was smiling, laughing, screaming (I won’t repeat the phrase of the day!) and having fun playing in the ocean. What a better way to spend the day! 

Yes, my Queen of Awkwardness title won out on this day, but I will be back to try it again!  I will not let the surfboard defeat me and one of these days I will shred!
I didn't quite master it - but had fun trying! 

Note: The South Shore is a great place for surfing enthusiasts! Beginners can take lessons at the Rossignol Surf Shop all summer long and if you own your own board you can find great waves on many of our great beaches all around Nova Scotia, including my hometown of Shelburne County

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lobsters and What??

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. 
~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story

You will find many unique dishes that are served up in homes and restaurants all over Nova Scotia. We like to eat...and we will eat almost anything! Some great local dishes, served up best right here in Nova Scotia would include, Rappie Pie, Fish Cakes, blueberry grunt, hodge podge, smoked kiacks, Solomon Grudy and the list goes on.
The dish I am going to introduce you to today, I was introduced to about 23 years ago by my then boyfriend's mom, who would later become my mother-in-law. One thing I should tell you is that I'm not a big fan of seafood and I'm not a big fan of trying something new. Although, I will admit, since having the job of Tourism Manager for Shelburne County, I have tried A LOT of new things (and actually liked most of them, including raw oysters from Eel Lake Oyster Farm...try them!). So, you can imagine my then 15 year old self having to try a new dish and having it made out of seafood, but we all know teenage girls do many things to impress boys...and make a good impression on their mothers too! I have been told that this dish is exclusive to The Hawk, which is where I was when I tried it for the first time. For those of you who aren't familiar with Shelburne County, The Hawk is the most southerly tip of Nova Scotia, located on Cape Sable Island....home to some of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen!
Sunset on The Hawk
So, I'm sure by now you are wondering what exactly this dish that I've been rambling on about now is! Ready for it? Lobsters and gravy. Yes, I said gravy....but it's not what you are thinking! It's not chicken or beef gravy poured over lobster, it's just gravy....lobster gravy! Still not convinced? Yeah, I kinda figured you wouldn't be. Neither was I! I guess that's why you won't see it on a menu in a restaurant or why you've probably never heard of it. But I will tell you, it's my favorite way to eat lobster (well, besides right out of the shell dipped in hot butter).
I'm not sure if I'm allowed to give out this recipe, but I will share it with won't tell anyone, right? Like most recipes handed down through the generations, there really aren't any actual measurements for this recipe, so you will have to bear with me and trust your judgement if you happen to decide to try it for your self.
Here is what you will need:
Nova Scotia Lobster Meat (already cooked and depending on how many you are serving will determine how many lobsters you will need. Let's go with two lobsters for this recipe)
Butter - the real stuff....not margarine!
White Vinegar
Brown Sugar
Water & Flour mixture (typical gravy mixture)
Start with cutting up your lobster into bite size pieces. In a hot frying pan add butter (I use lots; this isn't a low fat recipe!). Add your lobster to the butter and fry the lobster until golden. 

Add vinegar (about 1-2 tablespoons) and sprinkle the lobster with brown sugar. Stir it all around in the frying pan until the brown sugar dissolves and coats the lobster meat. I usually add more butter at this point too. (I told you it wasn't low fat!)

At this point you will now add your gravy mixture to the lobster. It thickens really quick, and you may need to add water to the frying pan to thin it out some...I always do.

Serve it over toast or mashed potatoes (I prefer potatoes) and serve with a veggie of choice. For some reason, I always serve mine with peas. There you have it, a traditional "Hawk" dish, Lobsters & Gravy. You gotta try it for yourself!  

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

UFO's, Whirligigs and Sharks, Oh My!

"The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate."

~Oprah Winfrey

I was recently at a workshop where someone made a comment that we (Shelburne County) are always celebrating something. The more I thought about that comment the more I agreed with them!
Shelburne County has a vast array of festivals and events throughout the year.  We celebrate the "normal" things like Canada Day, the fall harvest with a pumpkin festival, and Christmas with two festivals in the County!  We also celebrate our history and heritage with such festivals as Lobster Festival (June 7-10, 2012), Shelburne Founders' Days (July 21-24), and Lights Along the Shore (Sept 17-18), in conjunction with the rest of the South Shore, celebrating our famed lighthouses.
lobster pageant 085.JPG
What some might not know however is that we are also home to some very unique festivals.  Coming into its 6th year, Harmony Bazaar - A Festival of Women & Song celebrates female singer songwriters.  Located in the beautiful seaside town of Lockeport, this year's festival  brings in Country music star Michelle Wright centre stage in the newly built Seacaps Memorial Park stage. It's a weekend long festival of entertainment, workshops, artists and so much more. 
Harmony Bazaar

August 5-6 we celebrate unidentified flying objects! Yes, that's right, UFO`s! Shelburne County is home to one of few Canadian Government recognized UFO sites, located in Shag Harbour.  It was back in October of 1967 when an impact of an unknown large object was reported in the waters near Shag Harbour.  Today we boast a UFO designated look-off site, an interpretive centre and of course a festival! Fun & games, great food, boat trips, entertainment and high profile UFO experts are all brought in for this fun filled unique weekend!
UFO Interpretive Centre
In August we also celebrate a few species that are found in and around our great coast destination. August 12-14, Lockeport Sea Derby celebrates 20 years! This is the longest running sea derby in Nova Scotia.  Excitement builds as the "catch of the day" are brought in and weighed.  New this year, we are host to the 1st Annual Shorebird Festival, August 26-28.  Shelburne County has long been known as a birding hotspot. Our beaches are home to many migratory and nesting shorebirds, including the endangered Piping Plover.  This is a must for any birder, from beginner to advance! 
Lockeport Sea Derby
From sharks and shorebirds to Whirligigs!  In September, the Shelburne Waterfront comes alive with the sights and sounds of colourful whirligigs and weathervanes humming in the breeze.  From the basic to the elaborate, you will be amazed at the creativity that goes into making these fun and whimsical creations! The Whirligig & Weathervane Festival runs from September 17 to the 18th. Join in the fun and enter your own creation!
Whirligig Festival
For a full list of our great festivals & events please visit our website at Discover Shelburne County and join us in our celebrations all year long! 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Black History Month

Let me begin with a caveat to any and all who find these pages. Do not trust large bodies of water, and do not cross them.  If you, Dear Reader, have an African hue and find yourself led toward water with vanishing shores, seize your freedom by any means necessary. And cultivate distrust of the colour pink.  Pink is taken as the colour of innocence, the colour of childhood, but as it spills across the water in the light of the dying sun, do not fall into its pretty path. There, right underneath, lies a bottomless graveyard of children, mothers and men.  I shudder to imagine all the Africans rocking in the deep.  Every time I have sailed the seas, I have had the sense of gliding over the unburied.  Some people call the sunset a creation of extraordinary beauty, and proof of God’s existence.  But what benevolent force would bewitch the human spirit by choosing pink to light the path of a slave vessel?” The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

This being Black History Month I thought I would share with you a book I read two summers ago. My sister gave me the book to read, she told me it was one of her favorite books she's read in awhile. I had my doubts, but those doubts were soon shed within the first few moments of reading the first page. I spent every moment I could reading The Book of Negros, it went with me to Sandhills, and as the kids played on the beach, I was immersed in this book...almost transported back to the late 18th century, taking the unimaginative Journey with Aminata Diallo from her African Village to a plantation in the United States to refuge in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, to the coast of Sierra Leone.
Although this book is based on a fictional character created by author Lawrence Hill, there is an actual Book of Negroes. It is a hand written ledger which details the names, ages, backgrounds and often degrading physical descriptions of black people in North America. More specifically, the 3000 freedom seekers who left New York for Nova Scotia and other British colonies near the end of the American Revolutionary War for a promise of freedom and land. What they received when they got there wasn't much better than they had left behind; poverty, hunger, disease and slavery.
In schools throughout Canada we have been taught about Canada's part in the Underground Railroad, but we have not been taught much about our part in slavery or that we were the site of North America's first race riot. That in 1784 large gangs of out of work white men attacked the black settlement of Birchtown, NS and destroyed 20 homes. Disappointed and angry at the British for abandoning them, 1000 Black Loyalists sailed to Sierra Leone undertaking the world's first return to Africa transit.

The Globe and Mail says this of The Book of Negroes:
"The Book of Negroes is a masterpiece, daring and impressive in its geographic, historical and human reach, convincing in its narrative art and detail, necessary for imagining the real beyond the traces left by history."
The Globe and Mail

You can learn more about the Black Loyalists by visiting the Black Loyalist Heritage Society in Birchtown, NS or by visiting their website at:
Black Loyalist Heritage Society

You can also learn more of The Book of Negros in this feature article Freedom Bound by Lawrence Hill:
Freedom Bound

If you haven't yet read The Book of Negroes (or also called Someone Knows My Name in the USA, Australia, and New Zealand) pick it up today, you won't regret it, and I promise you, you won't be able to put it down until it's done.