Homemade Halloween Chocolate Candy

Halloween chocolate candy

Celebrate Halloween this year by making your own spooky chocolate candy.

A simple way to do this is to use Halloween themed silicone ice trays as chocolate moulds.

The recipe for these melt-in-your-mouth treats requires only two ingredients: chocolate and sweetened condensed milk! All other add-ins are optional.


Here’s what you’ll need:


◊ Halloween themed ice trays (I found these ice trays at the Superstore for $2.00!)

◊ Parchment paper (or wax paper)

chocolate molds 1


◊ 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or milk chocolate chips)

◊ 1/2 cup butterscotch chips

◊ 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

◊ 1 can sweetened condensed milk

◊ White icing (for decoration, optional)

◊ 1/4 cup red glace cherries, a.k.a candied cherries (optional)



To make plain chocolates, prepare the semi-sweet chocolate chip mixture. For the marble chocolates, prepare two separate mixtures of your choice.


For the semi-sweet chocolate mixture

♦ In a medium glass bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the semi-sweet chocolate chips with 1/2 cup condensed milk.

♦ Microwave for 30-45 seconds, until bubbly.

♦ Mix with a spoon. Place bowl or measuring in a bowl containing hot water, in order to prevent the mixture from hardening.

Halloween chocolate candy 5

For the butterscotch mixture

In a small glass bowl, combine the butterscotch chips with 1/4 cup condensed milk.

Microwave for 20-30 seconds, until bubbly.

Mix with a spoon. Place container in a bowl half-full of hot water, in order to prevent the mixture from hardening.


For the white chocolate mixture

In a small glass bowl, combine the white chocolate chips with 1/4 cup condensed milk.

Microwave for 20-30 seconds, until bubbly.

Mix with a spoon. Place container in a bowl half-full of hot water, in order to prevent the mixture from hardening.


Making the marble chocolate pumpkin candy (with cherries)

♦ Spray a thin layer of cooking spray inside each mold to prevent the chocolate from sticking to the silicone.

♦ Add a small amount of white chocolate mixture in the bottom of the mould.

halloween chocolate candy

♦ Add a bit of semi-sweet chocolate mixture on top

♦ Insert the cherries

Halloween chocolate candyHalloween chocolate candy

♦ Add a dollop of the chocolate mixture on top to cover the cherries.

halloween chocolate candy

♦ Place a piece of parchment paper (or wax paper) over top and press down firmly to allow for the mixture to penetrate the creases of the mould shape at the very bottom.


chocolate molds

♦ Slide the back of a butter knife over the parchment paper to remove any remaining bubbles at the top of the mould.

chocolate molds

♦ Slowly remove the parchment paper.

♦ Carefully remove overflowing mixture from the sides.

chocolate molds

Halloween chocolate candy

♦ Place in refrigerator.

♦ Let set for 3 hours or overnight.

♦ Gently pop the chocolates out of the mould.

Halloween chocolate candyHalloween chocolate candyhalloween chocolate candy with cherries

Making the spiders & spider web chocolate candy

Using the same technique as shown above, fill the web candies.

Add a bit of butterscotch in the spider moulds to highlight the insect.

Halloween chocolate candyHalloween chocolate candyHalloween chocolate candyHalloween chocolate candyHalloween chocolate candy

For an added touch, decorate the chocolates with icing, by tracing some of the details of the candy, as shown here with the spider webs.

Halloween chocolate candy

halloween chocolate candy


Halloween chocolate candy Halloween chocolate candy

Hope you have fun making similar Halloween treats 🙂

Homemade Halloween Candy pin

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup (no roasting or baking required)

butternut squash soup 3

I’ve been always intimidated by butternut squashes. Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up eating them or maybe it’s because whenever someone talked about using them in a recipe it involved long periods of roasting or baking. Either way, deciding to buy one and start a new tradition at our house was a Fall time goal.

So we purchased a butternut squash and thought that the easiest thing to do would be to make a simple squash soup that didn’t require any roasting or baking.

Here’s how:


◊ 1 butternut squash

◊ 2 tbsp salted butter

◊ 1 medium onion, chopped

◊ 2 cups chicken broth

◊ 1/2 cup heavy cream

◊ 1/4 tsp nutmeg

◊ 1/4 tsp cumin

◊ salt & pepper to taste

butternut squash 3


♦ Melt butter in a medium sized pot

♦ Add chopped onion

♦ Cook for 2 minutes on medium heat, until translucent


♦ Cut the squash into two

♦ Remove the seeds by scooping them out with a spoon
Side note: Don’t throw away the seeds. Save them for later.

♦ Peel the squash using a vegetable peeler

♦ Cut the squash into 1/2 inch cubes

butternut squash cubes

♦ Add the squash cubes into the pot

♦ Cover with the chicken broth

♦ Add the spices

♦ Cover and cook for 20 minutes, until the squash is tender

♦ Puree the soup using a hand blender

♦ Blend in the cream


Serve plain or top with croutons.

butternut squash soup 2

You can also freeze the soup! Simply omit the cream, store and freeze in containers. Add the cream before serving, once the soup is re-heated.

butternut squash soup

A little snack while waiting for the soup to cook…

Squash seeds are very nutritious (full of vitamin A and C), so instead of throwing them out why not have them as a healthy snack? Simply season and roast.

Spicy Butternut Squash Seeds

Remove the squash flesh from the seeds collected earlier.

In a bowl, add:

◊ squash seeds

◊ 1 tbsp of olive oil

◊ pinch of salt

◊ pinch of cayenne pepper

◊ pinch of paprika

◊ pinch of garlic powder

◊ pinch of onion powder

After seasoning the seeds, scatter them on a non-stick pan.

Roast the seeds under the broiler for 4-6 minutes, flipping them over once after 2-3 minutes.

butternut squash seeds 4


Butternut Squash Soup pin

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Bipolar Disorder Is More Than A Typical Adolescent Mood Swing

Bipolar disorder IWK post

by Vanessa Bruce Little


Bipolar Disorder is often misunderstood. Although most people have the basic understanding that someone with Bipolar Disorder has sudden and intense mood swings, they often miss the more detailed nuances of the disorder or confuse the fairly typical mood swings of adolescence with something more clinical.

Here’s how to know when it might be something more than just typical adolescent emotions:

First of all, there are two types of Bipolar Disorder: Bipolar I and Bipolar II.

Bipolar I Disorder is when the person experiences periods of Mania (called Manic Episodes). Manic episodes are periods of at least one week where the person has a really elevated and potentially irritable mood, and they behave in very busy and goal-directed ways, even if they don’t seem to be accomplishing much. Someone in a Manic Episode will often:

♦ Have really high self-esteem (to the point of being conceited)

♦ Feel less need for sleep

♦ Talk more than usual

♦ Feel like their thoughts are racing OR have a train of thought that’s hard for someone  else to follow

♦ Be easily distracted by irrelevant or unimportant details

♦ Be very focused on accomplishing various tasks – even if they seem to serve no purpose

♦ Engage in risky activities with serious consequences (e.g., unprotected sex, excessive shopping sprees, drug use, bad financial investments)

In Bipolar I Disorder, when the person isn’t experiencing a Manic Episode, they are either experiencing periods of Depression (called Major Depressive Episodes, which look just like the clinical disorder, Depression), periods of Hypomania (called Hypomanic Episodes, which are basically shorter (approximately 4 days) and less severe versions of Manic Episodes), or periods of completely normal mood. How often the person switches between these different episodes depends on the individual, the situation, and how effectively they’re being treated. In Bipolar II Disorder, the person experiences both Hypomanic and Major Depressive Episodes but has not experienced any Manic Episodes.

Bipolar Disorder is highly heritable, which means that biological family members of someone with Bipolar Disorder (I or II) are at increased risk for developing the disorder themselves. It typically develops in the late teens (Bipolar I Disorder) or mid-twenties (Bipolar II Disorder), and affects about 0.6 to 0.8% of the population over the course of a year. Medication can be very effective for someone with Bipolar Disorder, but they will likely need to remain on the medication indefinitely in order to manage their symptoms.

As you can see, the mood changes associated with Bipolar Disorder cause significantly more impairment than your typical adolescent mood swings. The moods/episodes themselves are much more intense and cycling between the two can be quite dramatic. If you’re concerned that your teenager may have Bipolar Disorder (especially if someone in your family has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia), talk to your family doctor.

Other helpful resources:


Vanessa Bruce Little

Vanessa Bruce Little is the Knowledge Translation Lead at TeenMentalHealth.org (IWK Health Centre/Dalhousie University), a role for which she relies heavily on her background in Clinical Psychology, clinical training, and experience working with youth and families with behavioural, emotional, and social issues. In addition to developing the content of many of Teen Mental Health’s resources, Vanessa also coordinates large-scale projects and supervises students from a variety of disciplines. She strongly believes that you have to communicate in a way people will “hear” and that the quality of the content is irrelevant if your audience can’t understand it.

Read the entire blog series:

Anxiety Is Not A Synonym For Stress

You (Probably) Don’t Have OCD

Depression Is More Than Just Having A Bad Day


Venus Flytrap Halloween Terrarium


We were lucky enough this year to purchase a few Venus flytrap plants from our local grocery store.

The plants are small, only about 3 inches high. Nonetheless, they have a mesmerizing prehistoric look to them and are fascinating to watch while they trap their prey.



The kids enjoy feeding them all sorts of insects and to be honest I think these are the coolest plants ever!


Seeing that we love our new house pets, instead of just keeping them by the window sill, we decided to provide them with a special oasis worthy of their wickedness. We built them their own spooky terrarium.

Here’s how you can incorporate these fascinating carnivorous plants in your own Halloween decor too.



♦ Large glass bowl or vase (any shape)

♦ Plastic eyeballs
We found a headband with eyeballs that fit perfectly in our bowl.

♦ Plastic creepy crawlies and other Halloween decorations

♦ Potting soil
Make sure you choose a multi-use potting mix for tropical plants, a blend of peat moss, sand and perlite. Since Venus flytrap plants are carnivores, they get most of their nutrients from the insects they digest, so they do not need the extra nutrients found in regular potting soil. In fact to much nutrients will kill them!

♦ Moss
If you can’t find any in your back yard, you can purchase a small bag of green moss from the Dollar store.

venus flytrap halloween terrarium materials


♦ Start by placing the eyeballs at the bottom of the bowl.

♦ Then add potting soil on top.

♦ Plant the Venus flytrap plants in the soil.

venus flytrap halloween terrarium eyeballs in bowl

venus flytrap halloween terrarium eyeballs and soil

♦ At this point, surround the plants with the moss for a bog-like environment, to mimic their natural habitat.


venus flytrap halloween terrarium eyeballs soil and peat moss

♦ Add small Halloween decorations on top, like large insects, plastic pumpkins, skulls, skeletons, bats, etc.

venus flytrap halloween terrarium

Place the terrarium in an area with plenty of sunlight.

Water the plants with rain water or filtered water, as regular tap water contains more minerals then the plant can handle.

venus flytrap halloween terrarium

venus flytrap halloween terrarium display

Click here to view a short DIY video of this craft!


Featured on Hometalk.com


Venus flytrap Halloween terrarium


venus flytrap eating child joke


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Easy Buttermilk Turkey Meatballs

turkey meatballs skewers


This blog post is part of a local Maritime bloggers blog hop!






We’ve teamed up to bring you a series of creative Thanksgiving turkey posts including fun crafts and food recipes.

Thanksgiving turkey activities for kids blog hop promo image

Let’s start with the turkey meatballs…

It’s always fun to switch things up a bit and re-vamp old family recipes.

These melt-in-your-mouth meatballs are delicious and can be served alone, as a side dish or simply enjoyed as a snack.

The secret is adding buttermilk to the recipe. This simple step makes the meatballs ever so tender and kids love them!


450g ground turkey

2 cups breadcrumbs (1 cup for the mixture and 1 cup to coat the meatballs)

1 egg

1/2 can chickpeas, ground in food processor to form a paste (optional)

1/2 cup buttermilk
(side note: because buttermilk is expensive, I substitute with 1/2 milk and 1 tsp white vinegar)

1/4 tsp of ground allspice
(or substitute with a dash of each of the following ground spices: cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves)

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

3 tbsp of vegetable oil

1 cup of chicken broth



Mix ground turkey, 1 cup of breadcrumbs, egg, buttermilk and spices in a bowl.

I like incorporating extra protein in our meals, which is why I add the chickpea paste in the mixture… great trick for picky eaters too 🙂

turkey meatball mixture

Form small round balls.

Coat each meatball with breadcrumbs, on a plate.

turkey meatballs with breadcrumbs

In a frying pan, heat 3 tbsp of vegetable oil.

Reduce to medium heat.

Add meatballs and cook for 3 minutes, then rotate to cook them on the other side for another 3 minutes.

Add chicken broth to the pan.

Cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until most of the broth has been absorbed by the meatballs.

turkey meatballs in broth

Remove from heat.

Let cool and serve as desired. You can also freeze the meatballs at this point and eat them at a later time.

turkey meatballs

I like placing the meatballs on skewers with cheese and veggies as a quick after school snack.

turkey meatballs skewers

Hope you and your kids enjoy this recipe too!


And make sure to scroll down below and check out the rest of these wonderful Thanksgiving turkey activities for kids.

Easy Buttermilk Turkey Meatballs

Sweet buzziness

by Regina Cozzi

When you think of the Fall harvest you probably think apples, pumpkins, squash, and various other fruits and vegetables, but there are plenty of other common foods that get harvested during this time of year as well.

Last September, we were fortunate to visit one of the three local farms that participated in the ‘Open Farm Day-Meet Your Farmer‘ event:

The Swinkels Bee Farm

The farm, operating since 2012, is owned by Sandra and Mario Swinkels. The couple gave us a tour, including the bee hives, the honey house, and they also taught us about the honey extraction process.


The honeybees first collect the nectar from flowers, then return to the beehives.

bees-12Once at the beehive, they deposit the nectar into pre-existing hexagonal cells in the wooden frames containing the honeycombs.

bees-19The worker bees have a life expectancy of six weeks in the summer, so they need to work quickly in order to make honey. Once the bottom of the cells get filled with nectar, the bees continue to build the cells upwards, as they accumulate more nectar throughout the summer months. The bees fan their wings to dry the nectar. This process is also facilitated by the warm air in the beehive, which helps evaporates the water from the nectar, thus turning it into honey. The bees then seal the top of each cell with beeswax.

When the honeycombs are full, then it’s time for the honey to be harvested.


The honeycombs are removed carefully.



The beeswax formed at the top of each frame is removed. Sandra renders the beeswax to make an assortment of handmade products.


The frames are then added to the honey extractor, which will be spun until the all of the honey is forced out of the honeycomb cells.


The honey is heated at 80°F in a settling tank. Once the tank is full, the honey is ready to be poured into containers.


This was our first time visiting a honey farm. We were really surprised to see how tame the honeybees are.


Such a fun and educational experience for the whole family.

And the honey… DELICIOUS!!

honeyMore than just honey…

Besides honey, the Swinkels have created a wide range of beeswax products; candles, hand soaps, creams, cosmetics, and much more. You can purchase Sandra’s homemade  products online and the Antigonish Farmers Market.



Don’t miss Open Farm Day on Sunday, Sept. 17, 10:00am-3:00pm.

Reg_ signature

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You (Probably) Don’t Have OCD

OCD in teenagers IWK

by Vanessa Bruce Little

By this point, you likely know how I intend to start this post. You’ve heard it before, but the words we use matter. OCD – or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – is one of those terms we often hear casually thrown around to explain someone’s preference for order or cleanliness. Off-the-cuff remarks like, “Oh, I can never leave my dishes in the sink; I’m too OCD” or “I had to remake the bed – it’s just my OCD” serve to further confuse the issue by minimizing the impact of actual OCD and pathologizing completely normal behaviour. OCD is not about keeping things tidy or perfectly in order. OCD is a serious mental illness in which someone experiences obsessions that cause intense feelings of anxiety and consequently, performs rituals or behaviours (called compulsions) to help reduce that anxiety. Although sometimes these obsessions and compulsions are related to cleanliness or order –often, they are not.

So what exactly is an obsession? Obsessions are persistent, intrusive and unwanted thoughts or urges that the person feels unable to control. Someone with OCD usually knows that that their obsessions may not make sense but is not able to control them, which can cause considerable anxiety.

And what about a compulsion? Compulsions are repeated behaviours that the person performs in order to decrease the anxiety caused by the obsession. These activities vary from person to person. Some common compulsions include: counting, touching, washing, and checking. Although compulsions might make the person feel better temporarily, they can actually make their anxiety worse over time. But even if the person knows that the compulsions don’t really help, it’s very difficult to resist performing them.

In order to be considered OCD, these obsessions and compulsions need to significantly interfere with the person’s ability to live their life normally – at school, at home, at work, and in their relationships.

So why does someone develop OCD? It’s complicated and the truth is that we often don’t know – but both genetics and the environment likely play a role. In rare cases, OCD can be caused by a bacterial infection.

The good news is that OCD is treatable. Most often, a combination of medication and psychotherapy (Cognitive Behavior Therapy with Exposure and Response Prevention) will be recommended. If you’re worried that you or your teenager may have OCD, talk to your family doctor. And remember – language matters, so the next time you’re complaining about your need for a clean house, skip the OCD label and remember that liking things to be clean is totally normal.

Other helpful resources:


Vanessa Bruce Little

Vanessa Bruce Little is the Knowledge Translation Lead at TeenMentalHealth.org (IWK Health Centre/Dalhousie University), a role for which she relies heavily on her background in Clinical Psychology, clinical training, and experience working with youth and families with behavioural, emotional, and social issues. In addition to developing the content of many of Teen Mental Health’s resources, Vanessa also coordinates large-scale projects and supervises students from a variety of disciplines. She strongly believes that you have to communicate in a way people will “hear” and that the quality of the content is irrelevant if your audience can’t understand it.

Read the entire blog series:

Anxiety Is Not A Synonym For Stress

Depression Is More Than Just Having A Bad Day

Not Everything Is a Mental Illness

Win ENSE 2017 Passes

ENSE 2017


The Eastern Nova Scotia Exhibition, ENSE, will take place August 30 to September 3, 2017.

Numerous exciting events are scheduled for this year’s Fall fair, including 4-H Day, competitions, carnival activities, special features and much more.



I am thrilled to announce that the ENSE organization has generously donated TWO Weekly Passes to the Exhibition grounds to the Country Parent blog followers.

So don’t miss this opportunity, ENTER THE DRAW* to WIN!


1. LIKE the Country Parent Facebook page: click HERE

2. LIKE & SHARE the ‘Giveaway post’ on Facebook

3. COMMENT on the Country Parent Facebook post about the ENSE event you are most looking forward to seeing this year. For the complete schedule of events and programming visit ense.ca

For 3 additional entries, to increase your chances for winning you can:

1. FOLLOW @countryparent on Instagram
2. FOLLOW @countryparent on Twitter
3. SIGN UP with Country Parent for your weekly blog post (see ‘Sign up’ in the
Side menu panel or bottom of the Home page)

TWO random winners will be drawn on Tuesday, August 29, 2017 at 5:00pm EST.

The lucky winners will be announced on the Country Parent Facebook page and contacted by email, with 24 hours to respond.

*This Giveaway is open to residents of Canada only, age 18+.




Want to learn more about 4-H Day? Check out this post:

4-H is Back!

Trichomonosis: A Deadly Disease in Finches

american goldfinch

by Fiep de Bie

Trichomonosis or trichomoniasis disease in finches has been in the news a lot this summer, as there seem to be more cases than usual. Pathologists and technicians at the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC) received many calls from concerned bird-watchers all over the Maritimes with reports of sick or diseased birds.


What are the signs of the disease?

Around the feeder, sick birds look puffed up and very lethargic, to the point where they will not even fly away. Frequently, affected finches are seen to have matted wet plumage around the face and beak. The birds’ throats are blocked by the characteristic cankers (nodules or plaques) composed of dead tissue and inflammatory reaction to the parasite. The cankers grow so large that they prevent the bird from swallowing and result in eventual starvation. Diagnosis of trichomonosis relies on post-mortem examination and follow-up laboratory testing. While the lesions of the disease at post mortem are fairly characteristic, confirmation of the presence of the parasite requires microscopic examination of tissues and sometimes additional tests.


sick purple finch

This purple finch is showing signs of trichomonosis including wet feathers from spitting up food. (Sheryl and Doug Wilson / The Canadian Veterinary Journal)

Where did the disease come from?

Trichomonas gallinae is the protozoan parasite that cause trichomonosis. It is a well-known disease in the UK, where an epidemic affected birds (most frequently Greenfinch and Chaffinch) throughout much of the country in 2006 and 2007. Later, it spread throughout Europe.  It is probable that the original parasitic infection in finches originated from pigeons and doves, which can carry the parasite but don’t usually become sick.  However, it is likely that the majority of current transmissions are from finch to finch. The disease first emerged in the Maritime provinces in 2007 and has since caused summer to fall mortality in regional Purple finch and American goldfinch populations1. In 2016, we had the first confirmed cases from Newfoundland, making the disease present in all Atlantic provinces.  It is notable that the Atlantic provinces have the closest geographical proximity to the UK and that finch trichomoniasis emerged immediately after the onset of epidemic mortality in British finches2. Research revealed that the genotype found in the parasite affecting Maritime finches is the same as the one that one caused the epidemic in the UK, but it is uncertain how it was transmitted, as bird migration from Europe is an unlikely route of introduction of the disease. The movement of captive birds by humans, whether deliberate (e.g. cage and aviary birds, game birds, zoological collections) or accidental (e.g. wild bird stowaways or stray racing pigeons) could have occurred; however, there is no available evidence to support or refute this hypothesis. Therefore it remains a big unknown as to why the disease emerged after the epidemic in the UK, an ocean apart.

How is the disease spread?

The parasite is spread by birds feeding at the same feeding station and dropping food from their mouth, or drinking water contaminated from an infected bird. Feeding platforms may spread the disease more quickly because affected birds will drop or regurgitate seeds. Other birds then end up eating the infected food. With hanging feeders, the food will fall away from the feeder, but it is still possible to spread the disease. Affected birds feed their offspring and will consequently spread the disease. Raptors can also acquire the disease by eating prey that is affected.


sick goldfinch

Amy Seymour took this photo of birds in her backyard in Mount Stewart, PEI, which appear to be showing signs of trichomonosis. (Amy Seymour)


At the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative, we had a number of “frequently asked questions” about the disease:

What do I do when there are sick finches at my feeder?

It is recommended to stop feeding for at least 2-4 weeks, as feeding stations encourage birds to congregate, thereby increasing the potential for disease spread between individuals when an outbreak occurs. Water can serve to promote survival of the organism. Consider leaving bird baths empty until no sick or dead finches are seen (drying kills the Trichomonas parasite). Discard remaining birdseed into the garbage; wash feeders and bird bath with a bleach and water solution, (then rinse thoroughly and air dry), to keep the birds safe.

When is it safe to start putting the feeders back up?

The number of outbreaks in our region typically peaks in the late summer to fall, but this year it already emerged at the end of June. Research done by the CWHC suggested that temperature and humidity play a role in the survival of the parasite. Transmission may be more likely during the summer months as trichomonads have better survival in warmer temperatures.

To feed or not to feed?

There is a lot of discussion about this and opinions are divided. We all love to see our birds and feeders allow us to see birds at close range. However, considering the risk of the spread of a disease such as trichomonosis or other diseases such as salmonellosis, it is probably better to not feed birds in the summer or perhaps not at all. In the summer, there are adequate food sources in our natural environment. 

Is it there a health threat for humans and pets?

Trichomonas gallinae is a parasite of birds and there is no known health threat to people or to other mammals such as dogs and cats. But it is recommended to wear rubber gloves when cleaning feeders and avoid handling sick or dead birds directly. For instance, use disposable gloves or pick the bird up through an inverted plastic bag.


Let’s hope that with the help of sensible hygiene precautions as a routine measure and the help of considerate bird watchers, the disease won’t be as prevalent as it was earlier this year and years to come.

If you have questions about the disease or about the work the CWHC is doing visit: http://www.cwhc-rcsf.ca/ or download the Trichomonosis fact sheet.

Fiep de Bie

Fiep de Bie
Wildlife Technician
Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative
Atlantic Veterinary College
Charlottetown, PEI



1María J. Forzán, Raphaël Vanderstichel, Yuri F. Melekhovets, and Scott McBurney, 2010. Trichomoniasis in finches from the Canadian Maritime provinces – An emerging disease.Canadian Veterinary Journal. 2010 Apr; 51(4): 391–396.

2McBurney S, Kelly-Clark WK, Forzán MJ, Lawson B, Tyler KM, Greenwood SJ, 2015. Molecular characterization of Trichomonas gallinae isolates recovered from the Canadian Maritime provinces’ wild avifauna reveals the presence of the genotype responsible for the European finch trichomonosis epidemic and additional strains. Parasitology, 2015 Jul; 142(8):1053-62.

Theatre Review of Stage Kiss

Stage kiss by Sarah ruhl

by Barry Taylor

Stage Kiss, a splendid piece of theatre that we saw at the Bauer Theatre the other night, addresses a question I have always wondered about.  I don’t mean:  how do characters in the Fast & Furious movies keep walking away from car crashes that should have landed them in the emergency ward, or the morgue?  Rather, how do actors in a romantic comedy kiss on stage and make it convincing?  Or more to the point, how do two actors kiss one another on stage without the stage kiss becoming a real kiss?  And what if the two actors are genuinely attracted to each other, even if they don’t realize it or don’t want to admit it?  How do they keep those stage kisses, repeated night after night in every performance, from becoming something more?  Stage Kiss entertainingly delves into this question, and much more besides.

Two stage actors (their names never given) were once briefly, passionately, tumultuously in love.  That was eighteen years ago though, and she has moved on to a sensible husband and a teenage daughter while he has moved on, sort of anyway, to a tentative relationship with a kindergarten teacher.  When they find themselves cast as the leads in a truly awful, 1930s melodrama at a regional theatre in Hartford, they discover that, the passing years notwithstanding, the fires of passion have not really died.  Though the pair bicker and growl on the set, the stage kisses become increasingly real.  That idea would be enough to power a typical Norm Foster comedy, but in Stage Kiss it doesn’t even take us to the intermission.  Sarah Ruhl, the playwright who created the weirdly thoughtful Eurydice (produced by Theatre Antigonish last season) has much more to say.

At one level, Stage Kiss is a romantic comedy about relationships and the life-defining choices we make between duty and desire, sense and sensibility.  Should she run off with her first love, or stay with her stable and supportive husband?  At another level though, it is theatre about the theatre.  The actors portray actors, except for Jeremy Webb, who gently underplays the world’s most directionless director (“just go with your instincts.”).  But the actors also play actors playing actors in a theatre piece.  So sometimes they are acting and sometimes they are acting at acting (and doing so with enough ham to feed a thousand family dinners).  Not coincidentally, the plot of the melodrama within Stage Kiss re-iterates the themes of the play itself.

This layering is cleverly used to explore another question.  Not the big question of why the Imperial Storm-troopers on Star Wars wear that clunky white armour when it doesn’t seem to protect them against anything.  Or even, why don’t triumphant villains just shoot James Bond and have done with it?  Rather, when are we truly ourselves?  When are we projecting our true personalities to the world, and when are we pretending instead, acting at being ourselves?  There are moments in Stage Kiss when the characters in the main storyline, which isn’t about a play, suddenly behave as if they were in a play.  These surprises include an unexpected performance of Some Enchanted Evening in the midst of a confrontation with a jilted husband.  Were they in a play all along?  Do they even know if they are in a play?

Stage Kiss leaves the viewer with all sorts of interesting questions, but dullards like me can still enjoy it as entertainment.  The delivery is fast, funny and light.  Christian Murray and the inestimable Francine Deschepper play the conflicted couple at the heart of the play, and they are supported by strong supporting performers, most playing two parts, in typical Festival Antigonish style.  I especially liked Jennifer Roberts, who portrayed a smiling, chipper young actress in the first act and the female lead’s sullen, angry daughter in the second act, making both characters seem real.  Anyway, first-year Theatre Arts analysis aside, I recommend Stage Kiss.  It’s a pretty good example, in my humble opinion, of what theatre is all about.

Still time to catch all three plays: The Hound of the Baskervilles, Kingfisher Days and Stage Kiss, before the season ends.


Barry Taylor

Barry R. Taylor, Associate Professor
Dept. of Biology, St. Francis Xavier University
Theatre Antigonish, Board of Directors, Vice Chair

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