Holiday Recipes: Peppermint Bark

Holiday Recipes

peppermint bark recipe

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Book Review: The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan

Winter Reads 2018The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan

The Sunlight Pilgrims

Published: July 19th 2016

synopsis

It’s November of 2020, and the world is freezing over, each day colder than the last. There’s snow in Israel; the Thames is overflowing; and an iceberg separated from the Fjords in Norway is expected to drift just off the coast of Scotland. As ice water melts into the Atlantic, frenzied London residents evacuate by the thousands for warmer temperatures down south–but not Dylan. Grieving and ready to build life anew, he heads north to bury his mother’s and grandmother’s ashes on the Scottish islands where they once lived.

Hundreds of miles away, twelve-year-old Estella and her survivalist mother, Constance, scrape by in the snowy, mountainous Highlands, preparing for a record-breaking winter. Living out of a caravan, they spend their days digging through landfills, searching for anything with restorative and trading value. When Dylan arrives in their caravan park in the middle of the night, life changes course for Estella and Constance. Though the weather worsens, his presence brings a new light to daily life, and when the ultimate disaster finally strikes, they’ll all be ready.

The Sunlight Pilgrims is a visionary story of courage and resilience in the midst of nature’s most violent hour. It’s by turns an homage to the portentous beauty of our natural world, and to just how strong we can be, if the will and the hope is there, to survive its worst

reviewAt a mere 288 pages, Jenni Fagan’s, Sunlight Pilgrims packs a serious punch. Fagan is a writer that masters the art of distilling prose. The Sunlight Pilgrims is a story of the resilience of humanity in the midst of nature’s darkest hour. 

Set in November of 2020 the world is freezing over. Each day is colder than the last. The world is a place of mass panic and hysteria with the unthinkable becoming a reality; Israel is freezing, Norway is drifting to the coast of Scotland. 

This is a very insightful and deliberate read. The author wants the reader to pause, to really absorb the story and process that this could in fact be the world we are living in one day. For such a grim story, Fagan uses beautiful prose to bring to life a world slowly meeting its end as a new ice age sets in. 

The dreary world setting plays as a backdrop to the story. We meet character’s living their lives and we see time moving forward through the indication of colder temperatures. The idea of a frozen wasteland oddly inspires some beautiful imagery. 

The story centres around three characters: Constance, Dylan and Stella. The book is told from the perspectives of Dylan and Stella.  The reader is not privy to the inner workings of Constance’s mind, instead we see her as the other characters do. This was a unique method for Fagan to use, instead of offering Constance her own viewpoint, we cast our opinions of her simply through the views of others. 

The perfect combination of fear and intrigue. The three characters we bond with are each so unique and quirky. Seeing the world from their alternating views offers new angles of perspective on, well, everything we believe to be true about life and the world we live in. 

The story successfully touches on many important issues: grief, gender identity, shaming, bullying and sexuality. There is so much more to this story than a world of ice. The characters bring it to life, and spark a fire of emotion within the reader.

It is rather eerie and disconcerting to think this book is set only four-years from today. Could the world really change this much? Could this one-day be our world? This novel really leaves an unsettling feeling, sending chills up your spine, leaving you questioning, what if? A fantastic read that will linger in your mind long after the last word is read. 

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Poetry: Mirror

poetry
Mirror
When you miss me most
Glance into a mirror
Let the reflection soothe your soul
The face staring back at you
Is one I exist in
Find me in the lines of your smile
The crook of your nose
The twinkle in your eyes
It is me
Just as much as it is you
My love for you is transcendent
With you every moment
Of every day
I live in you
When you feel we are far apart
Smile
Know I still live in your heart

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Book Review: Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawai

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Frankenstein In Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawai

frankenstein in baghdad

Published: January 23rd 2018 by Penguin Books

synopsis

From the rubble-strewn streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Hadi–a scavenger and an oddball fixture at a local café–collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse. His goal, he claims, is for the government to recognize the parts as people and to give them proper burial. But when the corpse goes missing, a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city, and reports stream in of a horrendous-looking criminal who, though shot, cannot be killed. Hadi soon realizes he’s created a monster, one that needs human flesh to survive–first from the guilty, and then from anyone in its path. A prizewinning novel by “Baghdad’s new literary star” (The New York Times), Frankenstein in Baghdad captures with white-knuckle horror and black humor the surreal reality of contemporary Iraq.

SummerReview

This novel explores the horror, chaos, and mass death that has visited the residents of Baghdad in Iraq since the US occupation. Raw, horrific truths delivered with the blackest of humour via the reinterpretation of the Gothic Frankenstein. 

In trying times, the only constant is the rising tides of the dead and missing. Friends and family often are left unable to access a bodies, sometimes the odd pieces of body parts but there is no guarantee. We follow a wide cast of characters; the elderly Elishva whom grieves for her son, Daniel who was lost in the war, Hadi, a junk dealer suffering the loss of his business partner. With no body, Hadi collects various parts that represent the Iraqi community and stitches together a composite corpse.  His creation is entered by a displaced soul and comes to life. The Whatsitsname wants revenge for the deaths of the people whose body parts he is composed of, and goes on a killing spree through Baghdad. So Frankenstein, or Whatsitsname as he is referred to, is born.

Elishva claims him as Daniel, her son, returning as promised by St George. The neighbourhood think with so many missing and dead, some are bound to return like Daniel. A number of parties lay claim to and support Whatsitsname, seeing him as representing all who have suffered. Whatsitsname keeps losing body parts as he achieves vengeance. At first, those parts are replaced by innocent victims although soon any parts will do, even those of the guilty.

Saadawi has written an intelligent satire on the sorrow and grief that is Iraq, and Baghdad. The inclusion of magicians, djinns, astrologers help create a supernatural world existing within the real-world of Baghdad. To some, Whatsitsname is an urban legend and a personification of fear.  A modern day retelling of Frankenstein that even Mary Shelley would approve of. 

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Edmonton Holiday Events 2018

EdmontonChristmasHoli-Date Nights

Edmonton is due for a long, cold winter and you’re going to love it. There are enough winter events and activities for Edmonton to have earned the title of being a Winter City. We embrace the cold and thrive instead of simply surviving. Winter is cuddle season and we have selected five unique date nights to get you in the mood. 

Krampusnacht

Krampus Edmonton

A group of Edmontonians have brought the traditions to Krampusnacht to the streets of Whyte Ave. In German tradition, Krampus is the antithesis of Santa Claus. Krampus – the Christmas Devil, punishes children for being naughty.  Krampusnacht is always celebrated on the traditional date of December 5th. The gang of Krampus enthusiasts work all year to craft the perfect costume — sourcing furs, bells and masks. The evening of  Saturday December 8th, 7pm with photos and activities in the park. The lauf will start promptly at 8pm, an army of Krampus’ will parade through Wilbert Mcintyre Park – there are tons of photos ops for parade goers. The Krampus group like to have fun and make appearances at other YEG winter hotspots like the Ice Castle.  Edmonton is one of only two groups in North America that celebrate this tradition.  Come out and have your annual family visit with Krampus and his minions.

How The Stripper Stole Christmas

How the stripper stole christmas

On December 15th the Edmonton Burlesque Festival will host the fourth instalment of this holiday favourite, guaranteed to heat up your holidays. More naughty than nice, Beau Creep will reclaim his role as Krampus. If you attended previous years, you know you’re in for a treat. EBF shows always deliver. An immense amount of work is put into every production — hours of costuming to seamless choreography-acts are consistently stunning. There is something for everyone in attendance — from the romantic storylines, kinky to the glittery. This merry one night stand will put you in the mood for your own act. 

Luminaria

devonian gardens luminiara

University of Alberta’s, Devonian Gardens annual Luminaria is an event that oozes romance, and feelings of warm nostalgia. Every year Luminaria sells out – YEG knows what’s good. Seeing thousands of candles along the paths of the Kurimoto Japanese Garden is a breathtaking display. The short drive from city limits is absolutely worth it. In addition to the gorgeous lights, count on bonfires, apple cider, snow sprites and the relaxing sounds of carollers renditions of holiday classics. Stunning snow sculptures line the paths of light. One of the most special features of this event, sure to draw out some tears – Memory Lane – a special path in the gardens with candles lit for those guests would like to honour.  This event runs the first weekend of December. 

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Poetry: Whisper

poetryI listened to gods quiet whisper
Find peace
And I did.

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Poetry: Two Places

You are forever in two places 
Never finding true happiness 

You are two selves

Where ever you are 
One half of you calls to the other 

This is the price
This is the

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