Thursday, August 8, 2013




This sturdy flock -- including a cardinal and chickadee, among other birds -- will migrate each Christmas to decorate the tree. 


  • Two medium bowls
  • 1 cup ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • Craft glue
  • Rolling pin
  • Bird templates
  • Utility knife, or bird-shaped cookie cutters
  • One straw
  • Wire rack
  • Paper towels
  • Baking sheet
  • Glitter and beads
  • Bottle with applicator tip
  • Length of thin ribbon for each ornament
  • Tissue paper, for storing


  1. STEP 1
    Prepare dough: in a medium bowl, mix together 1 cup ground cinnamon and 1/4 cup applesauce using a rubber spatula.
  2. STEP 2
    Stir in 1/2 cup craft glue. Stir the dough until consistency is smooth and dry. Let stand 1 hour. Applesauce gives the dough pliability, glue makes it firm, and cinnamon imparts a lovely fragrance and a gingerbread color.
  3. STEP 3
    Turn out one-quarter of dough onto a cool, flat surface; flatten with your hands.
  4. STEP 4
    Flatten with a rolling pin to 1/4 inch thick. If dough becomes too dry, spritz with water. If it sticks to rolling pin or work surface, sprinkle with additional cinnamon.
  5. STEP 5
    Photocopy bird templates onto card stock (these are enlarged roughly 150 percent); cut them out, punching holes where indicated. Lay a template over dough; cut out shape with a utility knife (or use bird-shaped cookie cutters). Repeat with each of three remaining quarters of dough.
  6. STEP 6
    With a straw, poke a hole in dough as indicated on template (for hanging). Air-dry ornaments on a wire rack lined with paper towels for 24 hours, turning them over every 6 hours or so to keep them flat. Alternatively, preheat oven to 200 degrees. Transfer ornaments to a baking sheet; bake, flipping once, until dry, about 2 hours. Once the dough has dried completely, adorn the birds with markings inspired by nature or your imagination. As you decorate, proceed from the finest embellishment to the coarsest, adding glitter, then beads in order of size.
  7. STEP 7
    Using a bottle with an applicator tip, spread craft glue over the area you wish to decorate.
  8. STEP 8
    While glue is still wet, sprinkle with glitter or beads, holding ornament over a bowl as you work; tap off excess.
  9. STEP 9
    Wait for the first area to dry completely (at least 30 minutes) before repeating steps 7 and 8 on another section. Thread a length of ribbon through ornament's hole, trim the ends to prevent fraying, and knot. Once you take the ornaments off the tree, store them, wrapped individually in tissue paper, in a cool, dry place.


   Bilbao's ‘Great Week' (‘Semana Grande' or ‘Aste Nagusia') is the most important and recognizable fiesta in Bilbao. The celebration begins on the first Saturday after the 15th of August and lasts 9 days. Bilbao's ‘Semana Grande' has been officially celebrated since 1978 and has been taking place continuously year after year with the exception of the year 1983 when Bilbao suffered severe floods. During those 9 days in August the whole of Bilbao is vibrant and full of life and there is a great variety of things to see and do. Bilbao during its fiestas is definitely the place to be!!

• The first day of the fiestas will begin with the so-called txupinazo, which, since 2001, has taken place in the Plaza del Teatro Arriaga. This involves the launching of a rocket and the reading of the proclamation of the fiestas.

• One of the most interesting things to see is a spectacular fireworks show, which will take place everyday at 22.30 and can be watched from all areas of the city. Many pyrotechnists will take part in the show from all over Spain and also from other European countries.

• Bilbao's ‘Semana Grande' is a perfect opportunity for ‘corrida' fans to enjoy the bullfighting. As well as the fireworks, bullfights will also take place everyday in the Bilbao Bullring (Plaza de Toros) at 18.00. Although the tradition has raised a lot of controversy, bullfights are considered one of the most typical and significant Spanish traditions. In Bilbao's bullfights many widely known toreadors (toreros) will participate such as: Fermin Bohorquez, Manuel Jesus "El Cid", Julian Lopez "El Juli".

• There will also be a great opportunity to see the typical Basque traditions such as Basque dance. The dancers wear their traditional outfit and sometimes the dance requires the use of sticks and swords. Traditional Basque folk dances can be seen everyday except from Saturdays, at 19.00 in Plaza Nueva in Casco Viejo, the oldest part of the city. Each day a different type of Basque dance will be performed. Altogether there are approximately 400 different Basque folk dances each with its own story and significance. You can tell a good dancer by how high they jump, their double clicks, how high they kick, and their gracefulness.

• Music concerts form an important part of Bilbao's ‘Semana Grande' programme. There will be many concerts of different types of music taking place every day, so everyone will be able to find something suitable for them. Apart from concerts of local bands there will be a huge variety of widely known Spanish artists and internationally known bands from abroad. As for Spanish pop music stars there will be Rosario Flores (or simply Rosario), two-time Latin Grammy award-winning singer and actress, recognized thanks to Pedro Almodovar's Talk to Her (Hable con Ella) movie, where she played one of the main characters. The concert will take place on Tuesday 19th at 23.30 in Abandoibarra. For the fans of flamenco music there is an Argentinean concert from Huelva-born new voice of the flamenco scene, on Monday 18th, at 24:00 in Plaza Nueva. An example of an international artist performing this year would be Travis, a Scottish band performing Britpop, who have been awarded BRIT awards twice. Reggae fans, in turn, will be happy to participate in The Heptones concert, a Jamaican vocal trio, on Saturday 23rd at 24:00 in Plaza Nueva. However, many more concerts of different types of music will also be taking place during Bilbao's ‘Semana Grande'.

   Shoppers be warned, most city stores close down for the fiesta. The festival runs right through the night for nine days and come the weekend it is not unusual to still see people weaving through the throng as the sun rises. The streets are lined with marquees from various bars and societies, many accompanied by booming sound systems.
   The whole week of fiestas in Bilbao is a great opportunity to get to know the traditional Basque and Spanish culture and also what fiesta means to Spaniards! See you there!!


   Mummies are a popular part of modern Halloween imagery. But how much do you really know about them? This Halloween season, entertain yourself and your kids with these thirteen intriguing facts about mummies.

1. According to Egyptologist Salima Ikram, the word mummy comes from the Arabic word for bitumen: mumya. Over time, the word mumya evolved into the name we recognize today: mummy.

2. It is believed that the ancient Egyptians began to mummify their dead as early as 2500 B.C. - but the Chinchorros of South America did it first.

3. The Egyptians believed that the dead could enjoy earthly pleasures in the afterlife. For this reason, many mummies were entombed with treasures, food, and even loyal servants.

4. The jackal-headed deity Anubis was considered to be the god of mummification and embalming.

5. All of a mummy's major internal organs were removed and placed in canopic jars - except for the heart, which was thought to be the center of intelligence.

6. In ancient times, up to seventy days could pass between an individual's death and their entombment. Forty days was the average amount of time necessary for the dehydration and embalming of the body.

7. Not all mummies were human. Archaeologists have discovered the mummified remains of jackals, baboons, horses, and even a lion!

8. Unwrapping mummies was a popular, if distasteful, pastime in the Victorian era. Hosts would purchase a mummy for the purpose of unwrapping, then throw parties at which the unwrapping served as the evening's entertainment.

9. Countless mummies were also ground into medicinal powders, or even burned as firewood in areas of Egypt where trees were scarce.

10. When conditions are right, "natural" mummies can be created through a combination of dryness and extreme temperatures. Both natural and artificial mummies have been found in locations as varied as South America, the Swiss Alps, Central Asia, and Alaska.

11. King Tut's tomb was discovered in 1923. Lord Carnarvon, financier of the expedition, died of an infected mosquito bite and pneumonia within weeks of entering Tut's burial chamber. This event is believed to have inspired legends of vengeful mummies and cursed tombs.

12. The movies "The Mummy" and "The Mummy Returns", both from Universal Studios, boast combined domestic box-office earnings of $357,405,273.00.

13. A recently identified mummy was revealed to be Hatshepsut, one of the most famous female pharao