Sunday, December 30, 2012

Weekend Getaway Treasures Are the Best

(Oh, and I found my camera!)

This fall, BF and I took a weekend trip to Liverpool, NS to get away from the city for a couple days.  We'd been through the pretty little town before on our way home from another trip and it had captured our interest, so when we were deciding where to go this time around, Liverpool made the short list.  We stayed at the beautiful Lane's Privateer Inn:

Here's the view from our room:

And the view from the backyard:


So pretty and quiet and peaceful. Downstairs is a culinary shop, bookstore, cafe, pub and restaurant.  The food and service is really nice - for breakfast we had the most delicious maple sausage, made locally.  The book selection, though small and primarily cooking or food related is great; in fact, I got one of my favorite cookbooks of life there:

The rest of the town itself is lovely as well, though not much was going on, at least the weekend we were there.  

While we wandered around we wondered if there might be any live music in town that night, and so when we happened past a shop in which a guy was sitting playing the ukulele, in we went.  The shop turned out to be ADJA Studio and Gallery, owned by husband and wife artists and NSCAD graduates, Julie Anne and Andrew Danylewich.  The gallery itself was lovely, full of local art as well as some from away; paintings, photography, jewelry, woodwork and so on.   

As we chatted with the uke player, owner and artist Andrew, I spotted a ring that I immediately fell in love with and had to take home.  

It was made by his wife, Julie Anne.  It's sterling silver and the coloured bits are enamel.  Andrew does some amazing work also, including the use of a technique called Mokume Gane ( that looks really beautiful:

Check out their site, and browse the other unique and interesting pieces they create and sell.  (

Don't you love when you're exploring a new town or city and you come across a little treasure?  A dusty old second hand bookstore filled with piles of rare art books, a wonderful cafe with the best made-from-scratch soup, a shop full of handmade trinkets and frocks, or, in this case, a lovely little gallery/studio.  It's my favorite thing about traveling around and the tiny town of Liverpool was no exception.  I can't wait for the next adventure!

What's your favorite random treasure discovery?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Losing It

Boo to losing it.  

And by "It," I mean my camera.  I don't think it's lost forever, I think it'll turn up, it's just that our apartment, and we, are currently experiencing an upheaval that causes messes beyond the norm, even for me, an accomplished messer-upper.  (More about the upheaval at a later date).  Anyway, the point of this fit of pique is that I have three almost finished blog posts that I am dying to post but I have no photos to go with them!  Not the end of the world, I know, but a disappointment nonetheless, a hopefully temporary set back.  

Anyway, I had to think of something I could do, without my camera, to prevent another five month slip in my posts, so here it goes.  

Over the last couple of months I've been working on a LOT of projects.  It's Christmas soon, you see, and this year I decided, perhaps quite fallaciously, to make almost all my presents.  I know, I know, a handmade gift is so lovely and thoughtful, it's true, but any of you out there who are crafty and do the same thing will support this statement - it's like a full time job.  And if you already have a full time job, that means it's like you have TWO FULL TIME JOBS.  Plus, you know, life.  But I digress.

I'm a bit of a procrastinator and have been known to flake out at times when I should be focussing (oh, haven't been on Pinterest in a while...).  One of the ways I get myself to focus is with small, time oriented goals.  For example, I'll start a project and set the goal that I will work on that project for the length of time it takes one whole album to play and then I'll reward myself with something - a snack break or, yes, a ten minute Pinterest hunt.  This post is about the few blessed albums that have been carrying me through the last while.  

Didn't think I was going to let y'all know what you were getting for Christmas, did you?

Please keep in mind I am, by no means, a music writer, I'm just sharing what's been doing it for me lately.  In no particular order:

The White Buffalo - Once Upon A Time In The West
You know when you hear a song for the first time and it makes you stop doing whatever it was that you were doing and just listen?  Well the first time I heard this album and the first track, Ballad Of Dead Man, came on, that's what happened.  And then it happened for the rest of the album too.  Amazing.  Jake Smith, the singer and guitarist, sounds a bit like Cat Stevens and maybe a bit like Stan Rogers, and perhaps some other people too, I don't know.  A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, a little bit folky, his songs are new but old, and there's just something there that makes me feel happy.   Here's the video for BB Guns and Dirt Bikes, one of my fave tracks:

Reminds me of getting up to no good with my own brothers when I was a kid.  Good stuff.  

The Carolina Chocolate Drops - Leaving Eden
These guys, wow.  Their website slogan says it all - A Modern Take on a Traditional Sound.  If you
like string-band roots-based music (no drums or horns here), and appreciate being able to relate to the song subjects, this band is for you.  Some songs are their versions of traditional songs, but some, like Country Girl for example, 

is about having had the opportunity to tour the world with a band (the rock 'n' roll lifestyle you might say), and realizing that where you really belong is the very place you came from in the first place.  I love their sound - the simplicity of a just few voices and really nimble fingers can be the most intricate music you'll hear.  

The Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers
I LOVE the Rolling Stones.  I have for a long time and I always, always will.  I find it hilarious when people discuss their supposed irrelevance in the world these days and implore them to retire.  My brother, D, and I saw them here in Halifax a few years back, in the cold, pouring rain, in an aggressive crowd of about 50,000,  and after many hours of waiting, despite being willing to throw in the towel and go home at several points, as soon as they came out, that was it.  I was there.  And it's all because of them and their music, the amazing, timeless songs, like Wild Horses.  Here is a clip of the band listening to the song after recording it, from the amazing Maysles documentary, Gimme Shelter.  Look how stylish they all are, just look!  

(Check out the film, and all the Maysles others for that matter, they have spent time with some amazing people.

Matt Mays - Coyote
Matt Mays is from here, where I live.  I've seen him play live more times than I can count and have loved it every time.  I am pretty sure I remember him hosting open mic nights at Hell many years ago, before anyone but the local music lovers knew how awesome he was, in a cowboy hat and head-to-toe denim.  Well now he's pretty well known, deservedly, and I couldn't be gladder.  It's amazing to see a musician/band you've loved from the beginning get to the point where music is their day job.  Well, Coyote is a great album, full of epic style rock songs that you can imagine listening to while driving fast across some beautiful landscape, windows down, wind in your hair, somewhere important to get to...or not....

Take It On Faith:


The Heavy - The Glorious Dead

Ohhh, The Heavy.  Oh.  This is a band that you pray, on bended knee, will grace your presence at some point in your life.  You can imagine being at their show, dancing, laughing, crying (joyous tears, of course), clapping, shouting, jiving, just frigging LOVING it.  They have the kind of vibe and sound that makes you feel like you can do things you probably couldn't actually do.  They are Big and Amazing and Extraordinary.  You can tell they love every second of what they do and that makes it easy to love them.  What Makes A Good Man:

and for good measure, their performance of How You Like Me Now
on Letterman:

AAAHHHHH!  Music!  Makes everything ok and better, right?  

Well I hope you like these bits of what I'm into right now.  When I find the camera and am able to finish up older posts we'll catch up again.  

Enjoy the meantime!

Monday, November 19, 2012


So the BF and I went on a lovely little road trip / weekend getaway this past weekend (more about that later perhaps, we made all kinds of cool discoveries!) and on the way, BF put these guys in the stereo:

They are called Congregation, and they are fantastic and I was immediately smitten and wanted to......spread the good word.  Please, please check them out above!  Sadly, I can't find much info about them online, and they seem to only have one (great) album (Congregation).  Anyone know anything about them?

Anyhoo, hope you'll dig 'em as much as I have been!

Till next time!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Four Things That Make Life Grand Right Now

1.  That we live in a pretty teensy city with so many amazingly great restaurant choices.  Like seriously.  Oh, for the cheapo-Saturday-morning-brekkie down the hill at Durty Nelly's; the not-to-be-beat Brooklyn Burger at the amazing Brooklyn Warehouse;

 the greatest little after-work-with-beer pizzas at Tom's Little Havana; the decadent Lobster Ravioloni at The Bicycle Thief; the rare beef and beef balls pho at Star Anise;

the oh-so-good-but-feel-guilty-about-it-anyway donair plate at Venus; the not-to-be-believed elk tenderloin at Gio; the best-you'll-ever-have-and-if-you're-lucky-Patrick-will-deliver General Tao chicken at The Great Wall; the wish-there-were-ten-more fish cakes at The Wooden Monkey;

Photo from:
the Volcano Rolls at Fujiyama; the I'll-eat-like-a-king-even-if-I'm-po' $10 pizza and pasta night at Saege; the I-can't-believe-this-is-a-food-court vegetarian platter at Taste of India, my god, I could go on and on.

2.  That I have the world's most interesting friends.  Just to name a few, there's T who is a fabulous chef, who recently braved the world of the "mature student" to study food science so she can make sure we can all be safe when we eat the things we eat, and who has sewn and gifted me four of my top six favorite purses.

There's M who runs the local film co-op and has an unparalleled love for colour, quilted jackets and being a secret spy.

There's J who helped put the recent Halifax Pop Explosion together and can make everything from wine to fascinators to music videos.
Some of J's pretty fascinators.
There's D who spends his days helping people who suffer from addictions to drugs and alcohol, and his spare time playing bass in a heavy metal band and doing almost everything in another band project, mixing sound for people in other bands and going on random camping adventures with no tent or sleeping bag.
(If you like things funky, you have to check out one of D's projects: )

There's G who is currently traveling around Europe, who makes snowboards for a living, once took a two month course on making surfboards from a 70 year old man in Bali and has an adorable chinchilla called Rolly who hides behind the toilet when he's peeved and whose favorite snack is stickers.
Rolly deciding about his next meal.

3.  That my brother B is visiting from British Columbia right now.  B is an interesting cat.  He is a really, really talented chef who is about to embark on a new chapter in his career as the head chef at an out-of-bounds heli-skiing resort in BC.  ( ) I love when he visits because he's not one of those chefs who doesn't like to cook when he gets home from work.  So far he's made us an amazing Paella and a delicious chicken curry, MMMMMMM!  He is practically a pro rock climber too, 
That's B up there!  Don't tell Mum...
and on account of his passion, has travelled pretty extensively and has seen some mind-blowing sights. 

He's also one of those guys who annoyingly ends up being really good at whatever he tries, which means he kicked all our asses at bowling last week, and ended up being the apartment Yahtzee champ too.  I still love him though.

4.  Being In Love.  (Awwww!)  My boyfriend is the greatest guy in the world and that makes me the luckiest girl in the world.  I love that he hates mornings, yet when I sometimes work at 6am, he gets out of our warm, cozy bed hours before he has to, stumbles into the kitchen and makes me a coffee, then stumbles back to bed.  I love that we are almost always on the same wave-length - we love spending hours roaming around in bookstores, or going to see live music,
One of dozens at this point, but this is Springsteen, so maybe the best!

or sitting around a campfire with a box of red wine and some steaks, or having sushi-saki-movie night at home, or cooking a delicious meal together.

I love that we can be in the middle of cooking said delicious meal and suddenly drop everything for a quick kitchen dance party.  I love that he's just as bad at singing as I am but we both sing all the time anyway.  I love that, even though it often stresses him out, he's got such an interesting and important job and I have so much respect for him for dedicating his life to helping cancer patients. I love that we are the first person the other wants to talk to when things happen and that we are each other's very best friend.

Honorable mentions:
*sitting in front of my bookshelf trying to decide which book to read next and having a hard time because I have so many I'm excited to get into.
*having the whole weekend off and being able to sleep in and have a leisurely Saturday morning snuggle with my honey.
*opening up the mail box and finding the latest InStyle or Style at Home in there instead of just ads and bills.
*discovering and falling in love with a new blog that has lots of old entries to browse through before getting caught up to the present.
*my super talented Mum's homemade salsa on nacho chips and her incomparable relish on a homemade burger.

Ah, life is good.  What are the things that make you happy right now?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Wasn't That a Party?

Don't you love having friends over for dinner?  Not in the Hannibal Lecter way, sheesh!  In the wake up and start brainstorming delicious, impressive ways to feed your hungry, stylish, foodie friends way. The take a trip to Pete's Frootique, get all your ingredients, stop by Premier for a bottle of wine and scuttle home because they might be waiting there (in the rain) for you already way.  In the gather around the kitchen, pop open that wine and chop, stir, chat, drink, laugh, grill, gossip, saute, sing, way.  That way.

Well not long ago, the BF and I had our friend JB over for dinner.  It was one of those pretty typical Halifax Spring days, ie: cold, damp, rainy, foggy, so it seemed to me that the best thing I could make for us on that kind of day was a nice, hot soup and sandwich combo.

I can't lie, the whole meal was inspired by, aside from the dreary weather, the recent acquisition of a package of President's Choice maple smoked bacon.

 We'd had some for breakfast earlier that week and it was.....well you just have to try it to believe the joy it could bring into your life.  The smell!  Let me tell you, if I ever decide to become a real estate agent, I will cook a package of this stuff in the kitchen of every house I have to sell, and when people come to view it they'll smell it and just be like, "well honey, obviously we need to live here!"  It's that good.  The BF and I had also picked up some amazing cheese rolls at the La Have bakery on one of our road trips

and therefore, deal - sealed.

So clearly the soup needed to be accompanied by a delicious sandwich made with the bacon and yummy fresh bread.  As I was rambling around Pete's I came across some boneless, skinless chicken thighs and some nice fresh mozzarella.  Done.  I picked up plenty of yummy veggies for the soup (I'd decided to make Minestrone), made the all important stop at Premier Wine and Spirits and was on my way.

There's something about having some lovely, colorful fresh ingredients spread out before you that is just so exciting.  This:

quickly turned into this:
And away I went.  

First I sauteed the garlic in some olive oil.

When that delicious smell had made it's way around our kitchen and noses, I added the onions.

 I sauteed them until they became translucent and they had let out some of their moisture, then I added the leeks.

When they'd all had the chance to meet and mingle, I let the rest of the gang in.

So they hung out for a while, got to know each other and get comfy.  Then we all decided it was really meant to be a much bigger shindig, so....along came some pureed stewed tomatoes!

Followed closely by some long grain and wild rice, and some green lentils  and yellow split peas.

We invited some chick peas and turtle and kidney beans too, but they got the invite late and so had to get ready first.

While we waited for them to come, there were all kinds of other things to do.

The legumes finally arrived and jumped right in.

You should have seen how quickly they disappeared into the crowd!  THEN it was a party!

Meanwhile, as the Minestrone made merry.....on the other side of the kitchen:

(Please excuse the well-used state of the oven window,
 never have I claimed status as a domestic goddess!)
I sliced up some fresh tomatoes and red onions, topped the cheese rolls with them, the chicken, bacon and mozzarella and baked those babies until the cheese was bubbling ever so gently.  

Finally, I threw on some arugula, the King of the Greens, and PRESTO!  

Wasn't that a party?  These handsome devils can relate:

Now, as much as this gal loves her rainy day soups and sandwiches, here's hoping (can I get you all to raise your glasses?) that for the next while at least, we'll be more in the mood for a good barbeque, a cool salad and, well some things never change I suppose, a nice big glass of wine. 


Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Today I am going to post a blog that has nothing to do with what I have made or intend to make.  Instead, in order to keep myself writing and inspired to write, I've decided this particular post is going to be all about things that I love and inspire me lately.  It's important sometimes, I think, to take a look around you and take stock of the good things in your life, the thing that are pretty, make you think, make you want to get up and dance, inspire you to make something.

Here are a few such things for me, in no particular order:

These books.  Sorry about the quality of the photos here, some are a little blurry:

This one is a photo book containing amazing rings by incredibly creative and innovative designers and makers.  Check these pages out!

And this one is, of course, a book of the works of the late, great Alexander McQueen.  I've spent hours just marveling over the pieces included in the book, which also happen to be the pieces that were in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's show of his work last year.  For a better look at these stunning works of art:

Flowers!  How could something that occurs in nature and is so beautiful not be inspiring?  The colors, the shapes, the smells.  I love the spring time especially, where the city is bursting at the seams with tulips (my favorites) and the smell of apple blossoms wafts through the air, but any season and any flower will do:

The view from my apartment. Recently I was enjoying my building's roof top patio with two of my dearest friends and fellow wine enthusiasts.  We observed how unreal this view appears, almost like a facade, a movie set.  But it's real and it's what I get to see from my livingroom window every day.  I love this view!  The downtown core, one of the prettiest streets in the city (well the one side of the street anyway), all the bustle.  It changes by the minute, day, season, so here are a bunch of photos I've taken since I moved in.

My shoes.  This sounds silly and I suppose grandly materialistic, but I can't lie: I'm obsessed with shoes. I often plan outfits around them and have several pairs that I enjoy so much that if I'm out shopping I ask myself: would this dress look good with the [insert shoe reference here].  I have classic styles - the black patent leather pump; unusual, eye-catching ones - the Stewart tartan wedges with ankle strap; ones in which I can only sit or stand and look pretty since walking could be treacherous  - the five inch leopard print stiletto; and ones that I can wear with anything - the adorable black Mary Jane.  Recently the BF (kind, patient man that he is) and I viewed a documentary about my obsession that made me not feel quite as guilty - or at least not as alone in the wide world:

And finally, The Tunes:

Left to right, top to bottom:  Kalle Mattson - Lives In Between EP / Jack White - Blunderbuss / Dustin Bentall - Streets With no Lights / Steven Bowers - Homing / Dale Murray - Dream Mountain Dream / Joel Plaskett Emergancy - Scrappy Happiness / The Derek Trucks Band - Soul Serenade / The Avett Brothers - I and Love and You / Kev Corbett - Son of a Rudderless Boat / Paul Simon - Graceland / Norah Jones - Little Broken Hearts / the Allman Brothers Band - Eat A Peach / Matt Costa - Mobile Chateau / The Kills - Blood Pressures / Mary Stewart - Chances Are I Like You / Xavier Rudd & Izintaba - Koonyum Sun

Where would I be without my tunes?  Curled up in a corner somewhere, silent, sad, colorless and hungry, wishing for the end.  Wouldn't you be, too?

So yeah, there you have it, a few of the things that make me tick.  Tomorrow it might be something entirely different, but for now these do the trick nicely.

Until next time kids and cats, cheerio!