Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas in Halifax

We had a white Christmas after all.
Gorgeous light, fluffy snow arrived December 23rd and melted away by December 28th. Perfection.

It was really nice to be home with our families for Christmas. We managed to successfully cram two Christmases into one - two Christmas mornings, one Christmas brunch and two Christmas dinners. Exhausting, but wonderful. Now we just have to figure out how to cram all our gifts into our suitcases...

Best wishes for the new year!
- Mike & Jess


the grandkids!
the christmas eve reading of 'twas the night before christmas  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A White Christmas?

It's been grey lately, but it's always grey in this city. What has been truly remarkable about the weather around here this autumn (thank you, Halifax!) is the mild temperatures we've been having. I can't even complain that it won't be a white Christmas this year (there's only a 47% chance) when it's fourteen degrees Celsius in the middle of December. Fourteen degrees is like a warm summer night here guys. Please share in our delight.

Several weeks ago my mum and I were talking about how her Christmases were always white. It wasn't even a question or whether or not there would be snow with Santa, there just was. I can remember a few white Christmases as a small child, but for the past decade or so there has very rarely been snow on the ground around Halifax come December 25. Does it snow for Christmas where you live? Did it used to?

I wouldn't want to mislead you into thinking that Halifax never gets snow. You can bet your bottom dollar there will be snow here in January and, if we're really lucky, we might even get flurries for Easter. The really cold weather just takes a little longer reaching the East Coast, and to make up for the slow start it stays longer.

Haligonians have this truly wonderful exuberance for summer. I wonder where that comes from?

- Jess

Christmas shopping. no joke.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Saturday Breakfast at Maxwell's Plum, Halifax

We popped over to Maxwell's Plum on Argyle Street, Halifax, for Saturday breakfast last weekend. It is just about the cheapest meal you can get in this city - from 11am-3pm you pay $2 for toast, eggs, bacon and hashbrowns. Two dollars! Not surprisingly there was a line up outside the pub before it opened.

I have realized that the only things we have been writing about since we have been in Halifax this autumn have been food, restaurants and bars. Here is the only explanation I have for you: we spent many years exploring Halifax, every nook and cranny, museum, gallery, and park. Lately, eating out has been a way for us to continue trying new things, even when we feel like we've tried it all around here before. And yes, our frequent restaurant visits are also a good indicator that our current kitchen kind of sucks. I can't wait to have a real one that we actually want to cook in again.

- Jess

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Obladee Wine Bar + Waterfront Christmas Market, Halifax

We're back! I finished all of my school work the first weekend of December. Yes, two weeks early and twenty one papers later, it truly was a Christmas miracle. Mike and I are now using our free time together to prepare for the holidays, to prepare for our upcoming move (our tickets are booked!), and to make the most of our last month in Halifax by spending the holidays with our family and friends.

This week I lunched with my mum at Pipa restaurant on Argyle Street, Halifax, after having been told by some little birds on Twitter that they had the real deal sangria. The Portuguese/Brazilian food at Pipa was interesting and yummy but the sangria was not the magical Spanish style sangria that I've been longing for since our trip to Valencia last November. I was a little disappointed, and so the sangria search continues.

Mike and I also popped into Obladee Wine Bar on Barrington Street, Halifax, this week. Obladee has a fairly priced and extensive wine menu. I ordered the German Riesling and Mike had a local Nova Scotian white. Both were lovely. We paired them with firm, nutty cheeses, a Valencian Serrano, olives, sweet pickles, mango chutney, spicy pepper jelly, and French baguette. It was excellent, but the whole wine bar experience made us miss Malta terribly. Let's be honest, European cheeses, olives, cured meats and bread are just about all we ate last year.

After Obladee we braved the cold (and I mean cold) and visited the first European style Waterfront Christmas Market at the Piazza at Bishop's Landing. We think the market is a nice concept and we hope it gains popularity in years to come.

In other news, there has been some pretty neat stuff happening around here lately. I can't let you in on all the details just yet, but let's just say our lives have just gotten a whole lot stranger (yes, apparently that's possible) and more exciting in these past few weeks. If you haven't completely given up on our blog this autumn (I know, it was pretty quiet around here for awhile) you might want to continue sticking around to see what happens in the next few months.

 - Jess

Obladee wine bar, Halifax 
Obladee wine bar, Halifax
The Christmas Market at the Piazza, Bishop's Landing, Halifax

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pets Flying Air Malta, New Pet Import Rules & the SPCA Malta Open Day

A few early Holiday gifts for pet owners and lovers in Malta!

Air Malta has recently announced that they will permit pets to travel in the cabin of their aircraft beginning January 1st, 2012 on all flights excluding those to/from the UK. More information can be found here.

New pet importation rules are also in effect as of January 1st, 2012. You can read more about importing pets to Malta, and holidaying in Malta with pets, here.

And if you're in Malta this holiday season be sure to drop by the SPCA Malta's open day on December 15th from 11am to 2pm. It's the perfect occasion to get to know the hundreds of lovely animals who are looked after by the SPCA's wonderful staff and volunteers. It's also a great chance to sponsor a dog or a cat, and to meet the animals your sponsorship is helping. You are also encouraged to bring along a Christmas gift for an animal who is without a home this holiday season - toys, blankets, de-fleaing lotions, every little bit helps. We wish we could be in Malta for this wonderful event!

- Jess

Friday, December 9, 2011

Traveller's Holiday Gift Guide

  1. Joby Gorillapod Tripod from $39.95/€30 never take an awkward photo of yourself again while you're on the road! we purchased the gorillapod last year before it became a huge, worldwide hit. it is so useful for getting the perfect shot while traveling. highly recommended. 
  2. Lug Nap Sac travel pillow and blanket $24.95/€19 i love this bright coloured blanket and pillow set, from this super trendy Canadian travel goods company, Lug.
  3. MEC Shuttle Travel Pack $62 (CAD)/€45 this is mike's favourite travel bag, with a strap that converts from a backpack to a shoulder bag it's great for manoeuvring through busy airports and underground stations. 
  4. Pebble Portable Charger $37.95/€29 we love this! holds up to three charges for your mobile device. great for traveling when you don't always have access to a plug-in, this keeps your devices charged while you're on the go. 
  5. Jewelry Travel Case $22/€17 never lose an earring in your suitcase again.
  6. Bombay Duck Luggage Tag £5.45/$8/€6 cuter than those giant 'THIS IS MY BAG' ribbons and straps, you'll recognize your bag on the conveyor belt faster with these unique little luggage tags.
  7. Bombay Duck Passport Cover £7.45/$11.50/€9 not only is this passport cover super cute, but it makes your passport big and bright in your bag, so it's easy for you to spot and grab when you're in long airport lineups. 
  8. Pocket Projector $109/€82 this was the best purchase we made last year. we use our pocket projector instead of a TV, which was particularly useful on hot summer nights in malta for watching movies on our terrace. we also take it with us when we travel for those nights when you feel like lying low in a hotel room or watching a romantic movie in a city park. ours holds a charge for up to 3 hours and can hook up to a computer, satellite, cable box, or mobile device to stream TV, movies or presentations. how genius is that? we think this projector is a good equivalent, for price point, to the one we purchased (ours is from germany). plus this projector has a direct plug in for USB and SD cards, and projects images up to 50". use with the joby gorillapod to project anything, anywhere.
  9. TripIt App. Free, or 1 year premium subscription $49/€37. this app saved our butts last year when we were traveling throughout europe. it keeps all of your flight and hotel information in one place, sends you flight updates, and allows you to share your trip plans with family, friends and colleagues. plus it keeps track of your travel stats - thanks to TripIt i can tell you that last year we travelled to 25 cities in 11 countries - a total distance of 40,557 km!
  10. G-Form Extreme Laptop/iPad Cases from $34.95/€26. we travel with our laptops, and if you travel with electronics you know they can take a beating when you're on the go. this case is tested to withstand just about anything. sounds good to us.
  11. Kindle from $79/€60 much lighter than packing a stack of books!
  12. Sony Nex 3 3/4 Digital SLR Camera & 18-55 mm lens $469/€355 we bought this camera this autumn and we love it. it's smaller than a traditional DSLR camera so it's much easier to travel with, but still has all the power of the DSLR camera with interchangeable lenses. read more here.
  13. Luggage Weight $18.84/€14 take it from us, don't rely on your bathroom scale to weigh your luggage...or you might end up with every bag 4 pounds over weight at the airport 10 minutes before your flight takes off. a luggage weight is much more reliable. 
  14. iPhone camera lens $28.95/€22 a great alternative to lugging a camera around the world, these teeny tiny lenses are amazing! and powerful, see examples of photos taken with these lenses here (plus, wearing them on a necklace is kind of adorable). 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Halifax Holiday Gift Guide

  1. Echo Touch Gloves $35/€26, with a special finger tip so you don't have to take your gloves off to use your touchscreen devices. if you've ever seen a canadian winter you know those gloves need to stay on.
  2. SPCA Nova Scotia Calendar $20 (CAD)/€14, 100% of proceeds go to the SPCA Nova Scotia. Call 1-888-703-7722 to order.
  3. Canada Goose Arctic Expedition Coat $625/€470, the on-trend coat in Canada right now, this is an investment piece that will last you many harsh, Canadian winters.
  4. David's Tea Advent Calendar $34.50 (CAD)/€25, countdown to Christmas with a single serving of gourmet tea each day. such a neat idea from this Montreal-based company.
  5. Neptune Theatre Subscription Package 3 plays for $99/€71 including the upcoming Christmas production of The Jungle Book. Subscription includes seat of your choice at three productions. we subscribe to Neptune every year (for this steal of a deal) and we are firm believers that giving someone a night out is one of the best gifts you can give. plus this local theatre is superb.
  6. The Rum Cake Trio from Run Runners $24.95 (CAD)/€18, nothing says holidays like rum cake from this local Halifax company.
  7. Sugah Dark Chocolate Holiday Wreath $19.95 (CAD)/€14, with pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, and Nova Scotian cranberries and blueberries, from a local Halifax company. 
  8. The Birth House by Ami McKay $5.98 (CAD)/€4, not strictly Halifax-related, nonetheless this is one of my favourite books set in Nova Scotia. highly recommended, and at this price it makes a fantastic stocking stuffer. 
  9. Starbucks Create Your Own Collage 16 oz. Tumbler $10.95/€8 starbucks tumblers are my favourite re-usable mugs, and the top on this one is almost never leaks a drop. i've been using a version of this mug since high school, it's that good.
  10. Purchase or Rent Artwork at the Art Sales and Rental Gallery starting at $15/month. yes, you can rent art! it's a fantastic way to try a piece out in your home before committing to buying, plus you can apply up to six months of rental payments towards the purchase of your rented artwork. and this non-profit art gallery supports the acquisition fund of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia! gift certificates available. over 1,000 artworks by 200+ artists represented. selected works available to view online.
  11. The Bishop's Man by Linden MacIntyre $15.31/€11.50. this book, set in Nova Scotia, took the Canadian literary scene by storm a few years ago, winning the prestigious Giller prize. i thoroughly enjoyed it, and would highly recommend.
  12. Organic Coffee by Justus! Café, 12 oz. starting from $11.55 (CAD)/€8. fair trade, organic whole bean or ground coffees from this local Halifax café are a hit around here, and you'll love them too. dozens of blends available.
  13. CaseMate iPhone Case with Card Holder from $22/€17. Mike and I each own one of these cases and they are the best things since sliced bread. slip your Halifax Metro Transit bus pass in, your ID for a night on the town, or your bank card. since your phone never leaves your side, why should your cards? various colours available.