Friday, May 29, 2015

Market Round-Up: May 30th-31st

via Flickr by Orin Zebest
This time around we've got a very wide selection of Australian markets; the temperatures may be dropping as we head into Winter, but there are still a lot of craft and farmers' markets to take in. Lace up your comfiest walking shoes and hit the road!

Saturday, May 30th

Burleigh Farmers' Market
7AM-12PM, Burleigh Heads State School, Burleigh Heads, Queensland, Australia

Craft Alive - Shepparton
10AM-5PM, Mcintosh Centre, Shepparton, VIC, Australia

Fernie Spring Craft Fair
10AM-4PM, Fernie Community Centre, Fernie, BC, Canada

Handmade Harvest Spring 2015
9AM-4PM, Bell Sensplex, Kanata, ON, Canada

Moe Art & Craft Market
9AM-2:30PM, Gippsland Heritage Park, Moe, VIC, Australia

Sunday, May 31st

Craft Alive - Shepparton
10AM-5PM, Mcintosh Centre, Shepparton, VIC, Australia

via Flickr by barockschloss
Handmade Harvest Spring 2015
10AM-3PM, Bell Sensplex, Kanata, ON, Canada

Lake Macquarie Art Bazaar
10AM-3PM, Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, Lake Macquarie, NSW, Australia

Market on the Mountain
10AM-2PM, Olinda Hall, Olinda, VIC, Australia

Pall Mall Art & Craft Market
9AM-3:30PM, Pall Mall, Bendigo, VIC, Australia

Are you planning on visiting any craft markets this weekend? Tell us about it in the comments below so we can add them to our list.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Cute, Crafty Things: Colourful Crocheted Rug

All right...this is a bigger project than some of our other cute, crafty things. But look at how cool this rug looks! And even cooler is the fact that it's made out of recycled jersey t-shirt yarn.

This project kills two birds with one stone: 1) you get an awesome new rug for your bedroom/office/living room/etc. and 2) you use up those old neglected t-shirts in the back of your dresser. This is what most people would call 'winning.'

Photo by ludivineem
The original post by ludivineem is in French but you'll get the general idea from her fantastic photos. If you're worried about the crocheting, don't. Crocheting is not overly challenging and you're basically just working in rows for this project so that makes it even easier!

Click here for the original post.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Top Food Markets of the World: Mercado Central

We’re off to Chile next for round five of our Top Food Markets of the World Series! Next stop – Mercado Central.

via Flickr by BruceW.
Nestled right in the heart of Santiago, the Mercado Central first opened its doors in 1872. It originated as a replacement to the Plaza del Abasto, which was destroyed by a fire in 1864. Since opening, the Mercado Central has become a common stop for the country's top restaurateurs, locals, and (of course) tourists. While you can find some produce, deli-ware, bakeries and pharmacy items, the main reason to visit this particular market is for the vast selection of seafood.

Mercado Central

via Flickr by Nicolas de Camaret

Location: Santiago, Chile

Operating Hours: Open Daily

Where Should I Go?

If you are looking for perhaps the most varied selection of seafood and impressive butchers in South America, then look no further. You’ll find both of these at Mercado Central. The selection of sea fare is seriously impressive and much of it is completely unknown outside of Chile.

Do you fancy a quick bite instead? Mercado Central is home to many little restaurants that specialise in local Chilean cuisine, so you’re sure to find something that will satisfy everyone.

via Flickr by Alvaro_Tapia
A word of warning: be careful when perusing this market, it's said that the floors are often slippery from frequent rinsing. As usual, exercise caution and be wary of pickpockets and scalpers.

What Visitors are Saying

“Mercado central market in Santiago is mainly a fish market. One can see different varieties of shell fish and other fishes. The choice is amazing.” – Ravi K
“It does smell like fish, but that’s because there are fresh fish there. The area outside is bustling and has many tourists as well as street vendors.” – RandyKasal
“We went through the market and there was something to eat, drink, and buy at every turn!! Great selection of everything.” – mammatVancouver
“Absolutely packed with customers buying seafood but what an experience. Half the population of Santiago seemed like they were there for the biggest range of fish I think I’ve ever seen in one place. Right in the middle was a range of restaurants offering almost any seafood meal your heart could desire.” – GIL440
The fish market in Santiago is an experience. It is very crowded, crazy, colorful, and noisy. Everywhere you look there are stalls with many different kinds of fish.” – Susan U 
“We explored the market and marveled at the amazing array of fish and seafood. We decided to have lunch there but how to decide on one of the many places available? This man says his is the best, that man says his is better...we enjoyed the interactions and finally decided upon one which suited us very well.” – OntarioAmelia

The Bottom Line

There’s a good reason that this busy fish market made it on to the National Geographic’s list – the selection is second to none! Whether you’re in search or fresh ingredients or are more interested in sampling the local cuisine, you will find exactly what you’re looking for at Mercado Central. There’s nothing fishy about this market...except the fish!

via Flickr by CocombreLibre
Have you visited the Mercado Central before? We’d love to hear about your experience (and what you bought!) in the comments below. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Scottish Foodie Adventures: A Day of Traditional Cuisine

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live a day in the shoes of a Scot? While we can’t deliver a complete “day in the life” experience, we can give you a day of traditional Scottish meals! For those of you that have yet to experience authentic Scottish cuisine, you’re in for a treat. It’s not all haggis, shortbread, fish and chips, and whisky...although that’s certainly a good portion of it!

Traditional Scottish fare does share some traditions with British and European cuisine; this is mainly due to migration and cultural exchanges during times of specific alliances. For example, during the late Middle Ages (and especially during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots) we can see French influence in Scottish cooking techniques and terminology, such as referring to a large platter as an ‘ashet’ (assiette) or boiling fowl as ‘howtowdie’ (hétoudeau). Viking influence can also be seen with the use of salting and smoking techniques.

via Flickr by Moyan Brenn

Of course the Scottish terrain also greatly influenced the ways in which Scots chose to prepare food. With an abundance of fertile soil and bodies of water, the Scots saw an opportunity to grow vegetables, hunt game, herd cattle and catch fresh seafood. Spices were rare and expensive; so many traditional dishes only include simple seasoning. In fact, most dishes are very simple – their primary purpose was to provide warmth, strength and energy.

Breakfast – Porridge

The Scots know that nothing sticks to your ribs quite like a good bowl of porridge. This old favourite is a little different in Scotland though – stirred with a wooden spurtle and (if you’re a real traditionalist) only including water and oats. We’re not quite as traditional as that, so go ahead and add a little milk and dried fruits!

Photo by Felicity Cloake
Click here for the full recipe.

Lunch – Cullen Skink

If you are somehow still hungry after your big bowl of porridge, you can always grab a hot bowl of Cullen skink to tide you over until dinnertime. This thick soup is full of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. Sounds delicious...

Photo by The Hairy Bikers
Click here for the full recipe.

Dinner – Stovies

This is a traditional Monday night dinner, because it’s supposed to be made with the leftovers from the Sunday night roast. Stovies is the quintessential thick Scottish stew and is usually served up with oatcakes and pickled beetroot sides. Go ahead and make it on a Wednesday, we won’t tell!

Photo by The Greedy Girl
Click here for the full recipe.

Dessert – Cranachan

This dessert is simple and sweet. It takes advantage of Scotland’s fresh raspberries, and if you’re feeling a little adventurous you can splash some whisky over the top. We love desserts that are five ingredients or less – thank you Scotland!

via Flickr by Robert Young
Click here for the full recipe.

Sweets – Scottish Shortbread

I know that we said Scottish cuisine isn’t all haggis and shortbread...but how could we possibly leave out the shortbread? Done right, Scottish shortbread is absolutely melt-in-your-mouth delicious. For this one, use lots of butter and skip all the fancy alternate flavourings...simple does it for the best shortbread around!

via Flickr by storebukkebruse
Click here for the full recipe.

Do you have a favourite traditional Scottish meal? Have you ever sampled authentic haggis? We’d love to hear about it, so sound off in the comments below!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Cute, Crafty Things: Monsters in the House!

Reduce, reuse, recycle...and remember to feed the monsters! How sweet would these be in a little creative space for the kiddos?

These aren't exactly the most high-tech pencil holders in the world...but they're pencil holders! They don't need to be. Made from recycled shampoo bottles, these fun little guys are the perfect project mix of whimsy and resourcefulness.
Image by Bianca Barreto
Lucky for us, this particular DIY tutorial has been translated from Portuguese to English. Even so, this little project is super simple and Madame Criativa's original photo tutorial is incredibly clear and easy to follow.

Click here for the full tutorial.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Top Food Markets of the World: Castries Market

Up next in our Top Food Markets of the World series is number 3 on National Geographic’s list – the Castries Market in St. Lucia.

via Flickr by Jorge
Located smack-bang in the capital city, the Castries Market as it stands today has been in operation for more than 100 years! What originally began in 1881 as a way to improve the town’s appearance has now become a main-stay in the St. Lucian culture. The market’s bright orange roof provides shelter to three different markets: the craft market, the farmers’ market, and the food market. The market first opened on July 2, 1894 by British colonial administrator and author, Sir Charles Bruce, and quickly became a bustling hub for locals and tourists alike.

So here we go – let’s take a closer look!

Castries Market

Location: Castries, St. Lucia

Operating Hours:

  • Monday through Saturday, all day
  • Closed on Sundays

Where Should I Go?

via Flickr by Jorge
As always, where you go depends on what you’re looking for! If you’re in search of pottery, wood carvings, hand-woven straw hats, or other small trinkets, then you should head on over to the craft market. If it’s spices that you’re after, then you should check the tables by the farmers’ market – they are brimming with almost every exotic spice that you can imagine. Visit the food market if you fancy a bite to eat and are interested in trying authentic local cuisine. And of course, if it’s fresh produce and fruits that you’re after then you need to visit the farmers’ market.

What Visitors Are Saying:

“The town was very beautiful, but the market was a let down. Imagine your worst flea market times two.”  - Pattersonrebel
“This is a great place to go to see the local markets and to walk the streets of Castries and see the cruise ships docking.” – BU88LS 
“We got jewelry, spices, vanilla, carvings and more for such reasonable prices.” – michelewelker 
“In summary, this market place is mainly a tourist trap. If you are into looking at endless T-shirts and other souvenirs, then you may like it.” – igolfCA 
“It’s worth visiting the market for your locally grown vanilla beans, nutmeg and cinnamon sticks.” – Denise M 
“We tried; but could not find anything of interest worth buying.” – Tom D 
“Castries Market is an absolute dump. It is dirty and it stinks!!!! The stallholders try to rip you off and then you get hassled by the bums. Don’t waste your time or money.” – NewcastleMarkone
As you can see, the reviews on this market are a little mixed – apparently it’s a love it/hate it situation! In fact, a local St. Lucian newspaper noted that locals were “shocked by the recognition from National Geographic. After all the Market, surrounded by the CDC buildings has been largely known for all the wrong things.”

The Bottom Line

via Flickr by Ian Gratton
Even though the final verdict is out on this market, there are enough positive first-hand accounts from visitors that I’m still interested in visiting the Castries Market. While the farmers’ market sounds pretty appealing, I think my first stop would be to the food market to try freshly made roti or some authentic fish soup. I guess I’ll just have to visit in-person to see what all the fuss is about...

Have you visited the Castries Market before? We’d love to hear about your experience (and what you bought!) in the comments below.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Weekly Market Round-Up: May 16th & 17th

Happy Friday! Have you ever wondered how Monday and Tuesday seem to trickle by but then Wednesday through Friday fly by? Regardless, another Friday means another stellar round up of weekly markets to visit. Whether you're in Australia or overseas, there's something here for everyone!  

via Flickr by ep_jhu

Saturday, May 16th        

Bastion Square Public Market
11AM-4:30PM, Bastion Square, Victoria, BC, Canada

Birkenhead Artisan Market
9AM-1PM, Highbury House, Birkenhead, Auckland, New Zealand

Fairfield Farmers' Market
8AM-1PM, Fairfield Primary School, Fairfield, NSW, Australia

Marlborough Artisan Market
10AM-1PM, 67 Market Street, Blenheim, Marlborough, New Zealand

The Handmade Show
10:30AM-3:30PM, St. Anthony's Parish Hall, Glen Huntly, VIC, Australia

Wakefield Market
9AM-1PM, Corner of River & Legion Roads, Wakefield, QC, Canada

via Flickr by Margarida

Sunday, May 17th   

Alcester Artisan Market
10AM-4PM, High Street, Alcester, Warwickshire, UK

Carterton Farmers' Market
9AM-12:30PM, Memorial Square, Carterton, Wellington, New Zealand

Kensington Market
10AM-3PM, Kensington Town Hall, Kensington, NSW, Australia

Substation Farmers' Market
9AM-1PM, The Substation, Newport, NSW, Australia

Sunday Siestas
11AM-4PM, Nepean River, Penrith, NSW, Australia

Whistler Farmers' Market
10AM-5PM, Whistler Upper Village, Whistler, BC, Canada

via Flickr by Stéphanie Kilgast
Are you planning on visiting any craft markets this weekend? Tell us about it in the comments below so we can add them to our list.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

1 Ingredient, 5 Ways: Persimmons

It’s not that we have anything against persimmons...really! But it seems that they die a slow, ever-softening death every time they make their way into our kitchen. We’ve made a vow that this will no longer happen (they’re too delicious for that anyway!).

via Flickr by Eliza Adam
Apart from their scrumptious flavour, persimmons also pack a major karate-chop in terms of health benefits. You might not have known this, but persimmons are full of antioxidants, which can help protect you and me from free radicals and harmful diseases. Not only that, but persimmons contain high levels of fiber that help us feel full longer. That fiber is also excellent for improved digestion. Persimmons also have high levels of potassium, which helps to reduce high blood pressure and is also beneficial in preventing other cardiovascular issues.

Of course persimmons naturally lend themselves towards sweet treats, but we’ve tried to balance out our recipes to offer a little bit of everything!

Back to Her Roots: Bourbon Persimmon Bread

Here we've tried to give you sweets with a twist. This quick bread uses persimmon pulp and is easily changed up to suit your family's preferences. Enjoy nuts? Not a problem, toss in walnuts! Want dried fruit instead? Try cranberries. Or you could just leave the bourbon and persimmon to be the stars of the show (which they happen to do quite well).

Image by Back to Her Roots
Click here for the full recipe.

Joy the Baker: Persimmon, Prosciutto and Brie Grilled Cheese

We really love whenever we come across "grilled cheese for grown-ups" recipes and this particular combination of flavours is a match made in heaven. The saltiness of the prosciutto paired with the sweetness of the persimmon all held together with the ooey-gooey awesome-ness of brie? Sold. 

Image by Joy the Baker
Click here for the full recipe.

Stetted: Persimmon Salsa

Image by Stetted

Who said that salsa could only be made out of tomatoes? No one, that's who! We love a mango salsa or a salsa verde, but never have we seen a persimmon salsa. We are intrigued by this one - the sweetness of the persimmon and spiciness of the jalapeño makes for an interested combination of flavours. It would be absolutely perfect over some grilled chicken...or just on some corn chips.

Click here for the full recipe.

The Bojon Gourmet: Persimmon and Tangerine Smoothie

This smoothie is practically a party of powerhouse fruits - banana, tangerines, and persimmons. Not to mention the subtle ginger and vanilla flavouring! You have the added benefit of a gorgeous-looking smoothie too. This one sounds like all kinds of delicious served up beautifully.

Image by The Bojon Gourmet
Click here for the full recipe.

Tartelette: Fresh Market Tabbouleh Salad

Ah! This glorious salad is packed full of yummy veggies and topped with a simple and understated dressing. This salad will come together very quickly once your couscous is ready to go, so make sure to have your produce prepared ahead of time. 

Image by Tartelette
Click here for the full recipe.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe - The Crème de la Crème of Performing Arts in Scotland

Up next on our virtual adventure in Scotland is a look at one of their most well-known and popular arts festival – the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Recognized now as the largest arts festival in the world, the Edinburgh Fringe has taken place every August since 1947. Every year thousands of performers from all over the world make their way to Edinburgh to share their stories and theatrical passion with a captive local and international audience. The Fringe attracts all sorts of artists; from big name artists to up-and-coming performers and students – you’re sure to have a wide variety of experience and education. That’s what makes the Edinburgh Festival Fringe so exciting!

via Flickr by Martie Swart
To think that this all started in 1947 when a small handful of uninvited theatre groups showed up to the first Edinburgh International Festival. These groups didn’t let their lack of invitations put a damper on their spirit – they took advantage of their captive audience and performed on the “fringe of the festival.” By 1958 these fringe performances had become so popular that the Festival Fringe Society was created; however, despite becoming more established and constitutionalized the festival continued to be a completely unjuried festival. This means that any performer or performing troupe that has art to share and a venue to house their performances can attend and be recognized on the Fringe programme.

via Flickr by Bob the Lomond
Many rising stars and notable play premières are woven into the history of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe’s history. For example, a number of the Monty Python team appeared in student productions at the festival, as well as actors such as Rowan Atkinson, Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie!

For three weeks the festival is home to a blur of performance genres; from theatre to children’s shows and everything in between, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe offers something for absolutely every audience member...and then a little more! During the 2014 season Fringe announced that over the course of the 25-day festival there were 49,497 performances of 3,193 shows in 299 venues across the city. An audience member can attend performances all day if they so choose!

This year the festival will take place from August 7th to 31st...are you going?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Top Food Markets of the World: Mercado Ver-o-Peso

Welcome back to round 4 of our Top Food Markets of the World Series! Number 4 on National Geographic's list is Mercado Ver-o-Peso.

via Flickr by Renato Ribeiro
Located in Belém, Brazil, the Mercado Ver-o-Peso has a longstanding history with both locals and visitors as the must-see market of the area. Belém is located at the mouth of the Amazon River, and as such Ver-o-Peso boasts an incredible selection of rare and exotic meat, fish, and produce.

Ver-o-Peso first opened in 1625 as a tax collection location for the Portuguese Crown. In fact, the market’s name comes from this part of its history; “Ver-o-Peso” is a shortened form of the Portuguese phrase “Haver-o-Peso,” which means to “possess or obtain the weight.” The tax collectors at this time were collecting tariffs on items being shipped on the river based on their weight instead of their value. While the tax collectors are now long gone, the name stuck!

This location has almost 400 years of history behind it, but the market as it’s known today was established at the end of the 19th century. Renowned for it’s Belle Époque architectural style, some of the original structures were in fact built in England and then shipped to Brazil to be reassembled. The market now covers over 35,000 square meters and houses upwards of 2,000 vendors!

Mercado Ver-o-Peso

Location: In front of the Bay of Guajará, Belém, Brazil

Operating Hours: Daily, Early Morning to Late Afternoon

via Flickr by Celso Abreu

Where Should I Go?

There’s a lot to see at the Mercado Ver-o-Peso! You’re sure to find everything from freshly caught Amazonian fish to an abundance of açai berries. This market is very cleverly organized according to the items being sold, so it makes it very easy to quickly compare prices and quality if you’re looking for something in particular.

Here’s a little guide to help you with your visit:
  • Açai Fair. This open market is home for all of the berry merchants. Check it out if you are in search of the freshest açai berries on the planet.
  • Ver-o-Peso Docks. Here you can watch the local fishermen dock and unload their daily catch to sell at the market.
  • Iron Market. This area of the market is the gothic-style structure shipped from England in the late 19th century. In this section you will find more fresh fish for sale.
  • Meat Market. As you can probably guess, this area of the market houses local meat merchants! 
  • Clock Square. Stop by this area if you’d like to take a look at the very impressive iron clock that was shipped from England. It has been a permanent resident of the market for over 100 years!
  • Solar da Beira. Various art expositions are held here throughout the year, so if you’re lucky you might be able to take in some local art during your visit as well.
  • Free Market. You will find a variety of items for sale in the free market, which include (but are not limited to) an array of hand-made items, local dishes, medicines, and natural essence perfumes.

via Flickr by claudiocareca_cba

What Visitors are Saying

“It’s incredible the variety of fruits, colors, smells, tastes you can find at Ver-o-Peso. Even if you are Brazilian, you will be delighted.” – driprado  
“The smell of the herbs of rainforests, birds, fish, exotic fruits. We are on the border of the Amazon. The people are warm and friendly. Be sure to try the goldfish and some of the acai.” – Fernando_Vasques  
“Plenty of places to grab a snack and something cold to drink. A great place for cultural learning as the local vendors are more than happy to share their knowledge of the different foods and spices that are for sale.” – Marcos C  
“We were shocked and disappointed by how poor it now is in comparison to its former glory – it is simply not worth bothering with any more.” – David E  
“The Ver-o-Peso market is a must-see in Belém and a trade spot dating back to the 18th century. Its four towered iron buildings are for Belém what the Statue of Liberty is to New York.” – UrielPinho  
“Wonderful outdoor market. Must arrive early (6-7am) to see the acai and fish markets in full glory. Medicine, craft, fruit, meat, nuts, and snack sections are all worthwhile although better visited after 9am.” – Paul R 

The Bottom Line

General consensus is that the Mercado Ver-o-Peso is a must-see if you’re in Belém. While there are some unpleasant accounts and general safety concerns voiced by visitors, that is to be expected of a market located in a developing country. You’re best to exercise common sense and avoid bringing valuable possessions with you on your visit. Still, the promise of exotic Amazonian produce and fish is enough to entice a visit should we find ourselves in Brazil!

via Flickr by claudiocareca_cba
Have you visited the Mercado Ver-o-Peso before? We’d love to hear about your experience (and what you bought!) in the comments below.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Cute, Crafty Things: Sweet Potato Stamps and a Chic Swaddling Blanket

Dreamed up by Miggy at This Little Miggy Stayed Home, this crafty project is ridiculously simple and well...the results speak for themselves. Miggy stamped on the feather pattern using a sweet potato and some fabric paint!

Image by Miggy
Even if you don't have any need for a swaddling blanket, this technique could be used to do up some gorgeous light weight scarves or gauzy curtains. Your projects are only limited by your imagination (...and sweet potato carving skills)!

You can find the full tutorial here.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Weekly Market Round-Up: May 9th & 10th

Autumn is most certainly in the air here in Australia...and with that comes a wonderful bevy of artisan, craft, and farmers' markets. Here's our tips below for where to head for a weekend adventure full of delicious locally grown produce and handmade delights.

via Flickr by North Charleston Farmers' Market

Saturday, May 9th        

Bloom Market
10AM-5PM, Fort Langley, Langley, BC, Canada

Brighton Craft Alliance
10AM-5PM, Brighton Open Market, East Sussex, United Kingdom

Handmade Market
via Flickr by M Lim
9AM-6PM, 13th Street Winery, St. Catharines, ON, Canada

Hobsonville Point Vintage and Craft Market
9AM-1PM, Hobsonville Point Wharf, Hobsonville, Auckland, New Zealand

Manly Artisan Market
9AM-3PM, Stella Maris College, Manly, NSW, Australia

Royal Bison Art & Craft Fair
10AM-5PM, 8426 Gateway Blvd, Edmonton, AB, Canada

Sisters' Market
10AM-4PM, Brunswick Town Hall, Brunswick, VIC, Australia

The Finders Keepers Autumn/Winter Market
10AM-6PM, Australian Technology Park, Eveleigh, NSW, Australia

Sunday, May 10th   

Bloom Market
10AM-5PM, Fort Langley, Langley, B.C., Canada

Matakana Indie Market
9:30AM-1:30PM, Matakana Country Park, Auckland, New Zealand

Royal Bison Art & Craft Fair
10AM-4PM, 8426 Gateway Blvd, Edmonton, AB, Canada

The Channon Craft Market
9AM-3PM, Coronation Park, The Channon, NSW, Australia

The Finders Keepers Autumn/Winter Market
10AM-4PM, Australian Technology Park, Eveleigh, NSW, Australia

via Flickr by M Lim
Are you planning on visiting any craft markets this weekend? Tell us about it in the comments below so we can add them to our list.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Scotland: 12 Fun, Fast Facts

Home to some of the most rugged terrain and most fiercely patriotic citizens in the United Kingdom, our Country of the Month for May is only small in geographical size. Its colourful history is only rivalled by the equally vibrant landscape.

via Flickr by Moyan Brenn

Kilts, tartans, and bagpipes... if you haven't already figured it out, our country for May is none other than ..Scotland! 

Here are a few interesting and quirky facts to get us started:

1. Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, but the largest city is Glasgow.

via Flickr by dun_deagh
2. Scotland recognizes three official languages: English, Scots, and Gaelic.

3. There are over 700 islands in Scotland; however, not very many of these are inhabited. These islands can be grouped into three sections: Orkney, Shetland, and Hebrides.

4. Located on the largest island of the Orkney archipelago, Skara Brae is the most in-tact Neolithic settlement in Europe and home to some of the oldest buildings in Britain, which date as far back as 3100 BCE.

via Flickr by John Lord
5. The official flower and symbol of Scotland is the thistle.

6. The official animal of Scotland is a unicorn! The Scottish unicorn almost always appears in chains though, as they are supposedly very wild and unruly.

7. Scotland is home to the highest population of redheads in the world. Approximately 13% of the population identifies as a redhead and 40% of the population is identified as carrying this rare recessive gene.

8. Scotland is known around the world for its whisky, known internationally as Scotch Whisky. What’s not widely known is that whisky is not actually a Scottish invention! The distillation process used to make this drink originates from Asia.

via Flickr by copiousfreetime
9. Haggis might just be Scotland’s most notorious dish. Made up of sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, it’s minced with onion, oatmeal, spices, salt, suet, mixed with stock and then boiled in the animal’s stomach.

10. Golf as we know it originates from Scotland. With accounts of this game dating as far back as the 15th century, the 18-hole game of golf as we now know it dates back to 1764.

via Flickr by Gregory Stewart
11. The first international football game was played between Scotland and England in 1872. The game ended in a 0-0 draw.

12. Did you really think we would leave out Ness? No way! The first recorded appearance of the Loch Ness Monster dates back to 565 AD.

via Flickr by Philippe Teuwen
Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments below so we can add it to the list!