Friday, April 29, 2011

More Spring Photos

Well, the weather here has been a bit up and down, some lovely sunshine but also some cooler days with a bit of rain. Anyway, I was able to get out and find some alpine flowers to photograph.

The meadows are starting to look wonderful filled with all the flowers and blossom trees.

Needless to say, boardgames haven't been at the top of  my list at the moment. As I write this, the television is on constantly.....why, Prince William is marrying Kate Middleton and Tina is glued to the set.  :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Radio City Hall's Rockettes-March of the Wooden Soldiers

My husband and I watched this a few years ago and I loved their Christmas show! I was very impressed with the march of the wooden soldiers.

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A line of wooden soldiers is shot by a cannon and blown over. They fell like dominoes! What a great performance!

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Thought I would put the video here also just in case you might want to watch it. Have a good one!

The cannon comes in about two minutes into the video.

The Rockettes are a well-known precision dance company performing out of the Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan, New York City. During the Christmas season, the Rockettes have performed five shows a day, seven days a week, for 75 years. Perhaps their best-known routine is an eye-high leg kick in perfect unison in a chorus line, which they include at the end of every performance.

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The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is performed annually at Radio City Music Hall and in numerous other American and Canadian cities by a touring company of Rockettes. It is one of the most-watched live shows in the United States, with over 2 million viewers per year. The Rockettes perform annually at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (since 1957) and the America's Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit. The NBC Rockefeller Center Tree-Lighting Ceremony also traditionally includes a performance by the dance troupe.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Palm Sunday and London

Well, last Sunday was Palm Sunday here in Austria. At 9.30am it looked as though all the village had assembled in square by the priests house, everyone in traditional Austrian dress and all carrying large poles with fir branches, apples, ribbons and flowers attached to the tip. After the priest has given a blessing one of the local bands leads a procession through the village centre to the church. I took a few images of the occassion.

A very colourful affair with lots of opportunities for photos.

London is becoming one of my favourite games now. Had an opportunity to play a couple of 3 player games with Pauline and Stephen over the last couple of weeks. They were over here for the Easter hols. There is a bit of a learning curve for the first game as you get to see what all the cards do and how they interact. As this was the first time I had played with more than 2 it was interesting to see how different cards became more or less powerful with more players. The omnibus for instance is very powerful with 2, not so with 3. Anyway, I managed to win the first game on a tiebreak with Pauline (I had less poverty). Stephen got hammered with poverty in this game. In the second obviously having learnt a painful lesson in the first Stephen had an easy win with only one point of poverty at the end game. This time it was Pauline and myself that succumbed to the poverty trap!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

German Couple-Volker and Christa Kraft's Outdoor Easter Egg Tree

I received this from a friend of mine in an email and wanted to share it with you. The Easter egg tree is glorious!

A feast for the Easter Bunny: German couple decorate their garden tree with 10,000 painted eggs

Easter comes but once a year - but one couple have turned it into a lifetime's project.

German pensioners Volker and Christa Kraft have decorated the tree in their back garden in Saalfeld for Easter for more than 40 years.

The tree now drips with more than 9,800 colourful Easter eggs, painted with pastoral scenes and religious icons.

Volker Kraft adds to the 9,800 Easter eggs hanging from the tree in garden of the home he shares with his wife Christa
Each egg must be painstakingly emptied of yolk and whites, to ensure it will not go bad, before they can be hand painted and hung out for all to see.
The easiest way is to pierce two holes in each end of the egg with a hat-pin, then blow out the contents through a straw.
The better equipped can use a syringe pushed through just one hole to extract the gooey gubbins. But be cautious when handling raw eggs - they may carry salmonella.

Symbol of life: Carefully packed and intricately decorated Easter eggs lie waiting to be hung from the Krafts' tree
The egg is a pagan symbol of rebirth, widely used in spring festivals before its adoption by early Christians as a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus.
For followers of Christianity they are symbolic of Christ rising from his tomb two days after his death on the cross.
In ancient times, the Zoroastrians painted eggs for Nowrooz, their New Year celebration, which falls on the spring equinox.
Sculptures in the ruins of Persepolis, their capital, show people carrying eggs to their king for the occasion 2,500 years ago.
Don't tell the Easter Bunny! Heike Lutz, right, visits the Krafts' tree together with her son Anton Lutz, in her arms, and her daughter Luna Lutz, centre

After their kids moved out of the house, it seemed the Easter Tree would finally catch a break, but grandsons arrived and the Krafts went back to decorating their giant tree. The number of Easter eggs hung by the tree’s branches grew every year,and in 2010 it reached an incredible 9,500 eggs.

Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. Happy Easter!

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Christmas spider

Up until a few years ago I had never heard of this Christmas folk tale.  Coming from the Ukraine and Germany this tale of a holiday spider helps us remember that even the smallest can make the holiday merry and bright.

Once upon a time, long ago, a gentle mother was busily cleaning the house for the most wonderful day of the year.... The day on which the Christ child came to bless the house. Not a speck of dust was left. Even the spiders had been banished from their cozy corner in the ceiling to avoid the housewife's busy cleaning. They finally fled to the farthest corner of the attic.

T'was the Christmas eve at last! The tree was decorated and waiting for the children to see it. But the poor spiders were frantic, for they could not see the tree, nor be present for the Christ child's visit. But the oldest and wisest spider suggested that perhaps they could peep through the crack in the door to see him. Silently they crept out of their attic, down the stairs, and across the floor to wait in the crack in the threshold. Suddenly, the door opened a wee bit and quickly the spiders scurried into the room. They must see the tree closely, since their eyes weren't accustomed to the brightness of the room... so the crept all over the tree, up and down, over every branch and twig and saw every one of the pretty things. At last they satisfied themselves completely of the Christmas tree beauty.

But alas!! Everywhere they went they had left their webs, and when the little Christ child came to bless the house he was dismayed. He loved the little spiders, for they were God's creatures too, but he knew the mother, who had trimmed the tree for the little children, wouldn't feel the same, so He touched the webs and they all turned to sparkling, shimmering, silver and gold!

Ever since that time, we have hung tinsel on our christmas trees, and according to the legend, it has been a custom to include a spider among the decorations on the tree.  Source
This is a great folk story to explain why we use tinsel on our trees.  Tinsel was first invented in Nuremberg around 1610. Tinsel was originally made from extruded strands of silver. Because silver tarnishes quickly, people began to substitute other shiny metals in the tinsel-making process. Before the 16th century, tinsel was used for adorning sculptures rather than Christmas trees. It was added to early Christmas trees to enhance the flickering of the candles on the tree. Tinsel was also used to represent the starry sky over a Nativity scene.
Metallic tinsel was fragile and costly, made mainly from fool's gold (pyrite), so it was used in small quantities. Only wealthy people would have been able to afford enough tinsel to cover their tree. By the early 20th century, advances in manufacturing made it possible to produce cheap aluminium-based tinsel. This led to most people being able to afford to add tinsel and tinsel garlands to their trees. In fact, during the 1950s, tinsel and tinsel garlands were so popular that they frequently were used more heavily than Christmas lights by many people. The one drawback of the aluminized paper used to create tinsel at this time was that it was flammable. Early Christmas tree lights were quite hot and could start fires, especially when the aluminized paper tinsel got near a hot Christmas tree bulb. Newer Christmas lights are cooler and do not pose as much of a fire hazard.  Source

I remember painstakingly taking each strand of tinsel out of the box and placing it on the tree branches as we decorated for the holiday.  Inevitably the static charge would build up and it would stick to our hands and clothes.  That's one thing I don't miss about those old style decorations.  You would end up finding stands of tinsel hiding behind the couch months later.  Or have it wrapped around the vaccuum brush when you did your post Christmas clean up.  Now we use ribbon as garland and some white berries for contrast.   Any way you look at it, tinsel and the legend of the Christmas spider makes every Christmas special.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Faucher Family Christmas Lights


The Faucher family of Delaware loves to decorate for Christmas. There are over a million lights decorating the house! WOW!! I can see the glistening in Clark Griswold's eyes!  :)  The electric bill totals more than $82,000 a month...oh my gosh...hard to believe! Now this is a lot of "exterior illumination" as Griswold would say!

Rich Faucher
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Figgy Duff

Originally coming from Newfoundland I wanted to share a little bit of my Christmas history.  This pudding is usually served on Christmas Day for supper, with the leftovers (if there are any) fried up for breakfast.  While it sounds like the name of a band or some sort of dance, figgy duff is actually a steamed, dense cake.  And despite the name, there are no figs in this traditional Newfoundland Christmas dessert, usually raisins.  For some reason, raisins are were called figs in many parts of the province.  Also, many people in England, of which many Newfoundlanders originated, called any type of dessert a "pudding" unlike today where a pudding conjures up memories of a creamy, custard-like dessert.  Closely resembling Spotted Dick, the pudding is boiled in a cloth bag or it can be steamed in a pudding mold. 

Here's how you make it:

Sift together:

2 cups flour, ½ cup sugar, 2 tsp baking powder

Add - 1 cup raisins and mix in.

Add 1/3 cup melted butter, ¾ cup milk, 2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all together with a wooden spoon just until a soft dough is formed. Put dough into a pudding steamer or a wet heavy cotton pudding bag, tying the bag with a piece of butcher string but leaving about an inch of slack at the top to allow the pudding to expand. Boil for approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours. This is most often done in the pot with the boiled root vegetables, cabbage and salt beef included in a Jiggs Dinner but can be done in a pot on its own as well.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Traditional Christmas Carol Medley-Judy Garland

This is great!! They just don't make Christmas shows like this anymore! Judy is joined by Mel Torme, Jack Jones, her children (Liza, Lorna and Joey) and others in this traditional Christmas Carol Medley. From December of 1963.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Spring and all that

Well, spring is upon us and I haven't posted for awhile. We have been to England for a couple of weeks in March, visiting family, friends etc. Back here in St. Wolfgang the weather has been fine and sunny, well, except for today which rainy and cold. We have been able to have lunch sitting on the balcony and had to wear hats because the sun was so hot! A lot of the spring alpine flowers are starting to show their faces as well.

We have been for a few walks up into the forests and along the lake, it's been really nice. Of course my new camera has been doing stirling service and I have tried to photograph some of the flowers. Don't know what a lot of them are called but they are very nice anyway.

Regarding the gaming front, I must admit I haven't played much lately, Tina and I tried the 2-player variant of Seafarers posted by Dave65tdh on BGG go here if you would like to have a look...

It seemed to work very well and we enjoyed it. I also noticed that the Martin Wallace release at this year's Essen is to be 'Ankh-Morpork' a game based on Terry Pratchett's Discworld books. Set in the city of Ankh-Morpork....(where else) the premise is that Lord Vetinari has disappeared and certain factions are trying to take over the city. Each player has a secret personality with a specific victory condition. Sounds intriguing, and as a bit a fan of Terry Pratchett's Discworld books it becomes a bit of a no-brainer for me. Apparently it will be available for pre-order one month before Essen and there is to be a De Luxe version as well, and this won't be limited so anyone who wants it can get a copy. No news on how the De Luxe version will differ from the standard version though.

More news anon...... happy gaming........ and don't forget Mum on Sunday....Happy Mother's Day mum!