A Day with the Birthday Boy!

Mack celebrated his birthday on Tuesday. He probably gets short-changed somewhat because it falls so close after Christmas, but he usually has the day off of work for the holidays, which means we can spend the day together.

Mack loves LEGO, so we had already made plans a few weeks ago to check out Wheels, Wings & Waves, a LEGO World of Transportation Exhibition (two years ago for his birthday, we took in the Art of the Brick exhibition, also at the Telus World of Science). The exhibition chronicles the history of transportation “on the ground, in the air and on the water, all as seen through the eyes and built by the hands of talented LEGO builders”, and runs until January 2, 2011.

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Mack thought he was too big to fit inside the racecar

All of the models were pretty cool, but of course, we had a few favourites, including the Titanic  and the Space Lab.

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Space Lab

But it was a model of the High Level Bridge and the LRT bridge, built by the Northern Alberta LEGO Users Group that really caught our eye in the main showroom. We loved the small details – the people on the trails, the cars on the bridge.

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Too cool!

A small room at the back of the exhibit housed a model inspired by The Way We Move, the City’s Transportation Master Plan.

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Edmonton, reimagined

In the middle of the room, there was a LEGO equivalent of “Where’s Waldo?”, complete with a working lighthouse and a moving train.

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Look for the details

Mack couldn’t wait to get his hands on LEGO. After rummaging around the numerous bins available, he was able to find pieces to put together a car.

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Mack hard at work

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His masterpiece

Before the centre closed, we checked out a show at the Margaret Zeidler Star Theatre. The last time I watched a show under the domed theatre must have been back in elementary school; an educational film about the stars. On this day we watched The Celestial Railroad. Though the images were quite beautiful, the milky way dissolving into a field of blinking flowers and flying cranes, we really didn’t enjoy the story or the message.

After our visit, we went to Route 99 for dinner. Nothing hits the spot like food at our favourite greasy spoon!

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Beer and poutine FTW!

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For dessert, I made us Mark Bittman’s Brown Betty (isn’t that the most charming name for a dish?). I had a lot of leftover bread from the scalloped tomato dish, and the Brown Betty incorporates quite a bit of fruit, not a bad thing after indulging on more than enough cheese.

A Brown Betty is similar to a bread pudding, with layers of toasted bread (tossed in sugar) and fruit drizzled with a mixture of juice and butter and baked.

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Brown Betty

Unfortunately, the name was better than the result – part of it probably had to do with my poor job of tossing the sugars with the bread, but I was hoping for something with a little more oomph – the sum wasn’t greater than the parts.

We ended the night playing with Mack’s new toy from Santa – his XBOX Kinect. Our favourite game so far is Joy Ride (who doesn’t love a good old racing game?). The coolest thing about the Kinect (besides the limited voice activation features) is the fact that the console takes photos of the players throughout the game.

Kinect Joy Ride

Yes, our steering wheels are really that big

Happy birthday, Mack!

Bright Nights at the Legislature

After dinner at the Wildflower Grill, Mack and I grabbed a hot drink at the Starbucks next to the restaurant and walked to the Legislature grounds. Earlier in the day, the official light-up had taken place, but we were more than happy simply to explore the lights without the fanfare.


Approaching the Legislature

I have been to the grounds once before, but walking underneath the multicolored lights, with holiday songs piping in the background, will never get old. The ice sculptures, lit from behind, were out for display already as well.


Ice sculptures


Mack with Santa

The lights are typically on until at least the first week in January, both in the morning, from 6:30-8:30am and in the evenings from 5-11pm.

It was a pretty chilly night, so we were more than happy that the annex building was open so we could warm up a bit before heading outside again. Inside, we found a Lego-version of the Legislature building, sponsored by the Northern Alberta Lego Users Group. On a related note, watch for the Art of the Brick at the Telus World of Science, an exhibit that opens on December 20 that will feature a variety of life-size pieces built by a Lego artist.


Legislature in miniature

Make sure to take some time this holiday season to explore some of the great things to do in the city!