Thursday, May 30, 2013

One Sunny Day. . . 

We had a couple sunny days here in Halifax this week, and one of them, oh miracle of miracles, was my day off!  Even before I opened the curtains that morning, I could feel the blue...

 It was glorious!  I decided to have my coffee outside.  This guy came around for a morning chat as I sipped and wandered around the yard making a mental list of to-dos.

I picked the last few standing tulips for the table inside, before they wilted and died.

Then I ran a few errands.  At the end of my street I came across this pretty blossoming tree.  Can you spot the little friend?

As I strolled, I spotted this stuck this up on a pole.  As you all may remember, I am an owl fan.  Snap!

When I returned home, I gathered up some supplies and got to work replanting some things we've had inside for a while now.

A week or so ago, I finished a bunch of celery, cut off the bottom and put it in a dish of water to see what might happen.  You can see the results on the left, about two inches of growth in a week!  So I planted it in soil.  Let's see what happens now.

My other experiment, the Garlic Babies, are doing fine.  Almost a foot tall!  They grow up so fast.

I also replanted this little guy, who'd been cooped up in a too small pot for far too long.  Freedom!!

And the last one was the hydrangea J gave us when we first moved in.  I'd read that they can be quite sensitive to frost when they are very young so I kept it inside until now.  I hope the worst weather is over now because I think the plant could thrive in our bright little yard in this nice big planter.

Ahhh, such a great day!

I'd finished my plant work but wanted an excuse to stay outside, so I decided to try my hand at one of the juice can lanterns E & T had made a while back.  Another set of directions we found suggested filling a can with water and freezing it, and then punching the holes.

Great suggestion.  The work was pretty darn easy.  This way is certainly the way to go, but next time, I will prepare a pattern, and not just fly by the seat of my pants, haha.

 While I worked on the lantern, this dove flew over and had a snooze on the stair railing beside me!

After a while it was time to get supper ready, so I had to head inside.  It was just as well, because, bizarrely, soon after BF got home and we ate, this happened.

Oh Halifax, land of the multiple weather event days.  

It was ok though, after I snapped a few sunshower shots, I thought to myself, "sun and rain . . . maybe there will be a . . . . "

And sure enough!

Till next time friends!

Monday, May 27, 2013


So BF had a set of chairs that came with his table that we've been using for the last couple of years.  All but one was essentially a death trap on account of its seat's lack of being attached to the rest of the chair, and plus, according to me, they were...well, sorry BF, but. . . .ugly.

So I decided the best thing to do would be a make-over, yay!  I've been obsessed with upholstery fabric for ages now and when I saw one particular one at my local fabric shop a while back, I knew just where it belonged.  But first things first.  Primer.

I primed the whole chair twice and let it dry for a couple days.  Then I spray painted it our colour of choice:

Now, at this juncture, I would like to point out that this paint did not work out so well.  It took a LOT of coats, and it actually scrunched up the primer in places, making it look, up close, all crackly, like a chair that had been sitting in an abandoned barn for ninety years.  I thought I'd done something horribly wrong, but then my friend J admitted that she'd had the same problem with coverage with this very paint.  She also said that she's a fan of Krylon in general and has never had that issue before, so it must just be this specific paint.  Too bad!  

Anyway, I painted the heck out of this chair, and let it dry for a while too.  Then I grabbed my scissors and my trusty staple gun and re-covered the seat.  (Thanks for your help, T!) And voila!

Much better, I think; funky and bright and a nice, cheap improvement project.  My intention is to do each of the chairs a bit differently, but with the same colours.  One down . . . . . 

Till next time!

Friday, May 24, 2013


You know how they say that our friends in the North have about a thousand words for "snow"?  And apparently the Egyptians have a lot of words for sand.  Lately, I have been feeling like we Haligonians should have a similar repertoire for "wet."  

This was the scene outside when I first woke up this morning.

And about twenty minutes later, when BF and I were downstairs having our coffee....

Soaking.  Damp.  Soggy.  Drenched.  Seeping.  You get the picture.

I am so ready for some sun.  This prolonged dark, cold, wet, windy Spring we are having is making me a little sad at this point.  Seems it's been a very, very long time since we've seen it for more than a few minutes at a time and I think we can all use a bit more Vitamin D.  Let's all take a bit of time today and come up with a Sun Dance.  I'm willing to put in just about any amount of time perfecting it if it means a warm, dry day may come along, don't you agree?

Till next time, friends!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

People Everyday Love Papaya-Mango Chutney
....or at least I assume they do.

Today, despite a super early wake-up time and MORE RAIN, has been a good day.  I got lots of errands done, pretty much all my chores around the homestead, and some cooking.  BF is on call today so I made an easily re-heatable pasta (chicken sacchettini with sweet potato, goat cheese and bacon sauce) for when he gets home.  I also made a batch of papaya-mango chutney, one of the possibilities we have chosen for our wedding guest gifts.  We intend to chose six different kinds of preserves - relishes, pestos, sauces, jellies, jams, chutneys.....well you get the picture - and to jar them up and give them out as little thank-you for coming prezzies.  Anyway, this is one I used to make at the restaurant back in the day, and it's delish, so I thought I would do a trial run to make sure I could still pull it off.

It starts like this:

1 medium papaya, chopped; 1 red onion, minced; 1/4c lime juice; 1 1/4 c white vinegar; 1/2 jalapeno, minced; 1 mango, chopped; 2 tbsp mustard seeds; 2 tsp curry; 1/4c brown sugar.
Basically you just put the vinegar, sugar, mustard, lime juice and 1/2 c of water in a saucepan and boil it.  Then you turn it down to medium and reduce it to a syrup.  Then add all the solid ingredients.

You cook this mix for half an hour or so, pretty much until you achieve a consistency you like.  In the meantime, sterilize your jars.

Make sure they are dry and set them out to be filled.

By now, your chutney should be cooked.

So then take a small spoon and dole out the chutney into your little jars.  Cover them and make sure it's on tight.

After a while you should hear the lids POP!  That means they are sealed and should be safe for quite a while.

The batch turned out well, tasty and a lovely texture; I'm quite pleased.  Now if I can just make it last until September.....

While I was in the kitchen all morning, I couldn't decide what I was in the mood to listen to, so I clicked on the DJ feature on my iTunes and let that decide.  A couple songs in, I made a mad dash to my little laptop to stop it and start it again at the beginning of an album it reminded me of but hadn't listened to in many years.  Do you guys remember Arrested Development?  Not the show, the band, from the early to mid '90's?  Ack!  Well if you don't you really need to look them up.  I was immediately transported back in time to when they came out, memories of high school shenanigans and so on abounded.  But what struck me most was how great they still sounded, not dated, still relevant.  Check them out:

Ahhh, memories and chut-en-ies.  Happy Wednesday, y'all!

Till next time!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

On the Table

A few weeks ago, BF, D and I went on a little road trip to Boutilier's Point, about half an hour outside the city.  Our purpose was to visit Rural Roots Cottage & Country Living, an antiques and decor shop on St. Margaret's Bay Road.  The reason we wanted to visit said shop was because I had spotted an ad online, before Christmas, for harvest tables.  I've dreamt of having a big, huge dining room table for as long as I can remember - I LOVE having people over for supper, and sitting around getting full, and drinking wine, having awesome conversations, playing games - it's one of my very favourite things in life.

Well, when we got to the shop, we walked in and immediately saw a finished table they had.  One of the owners, Glenn, is retired and custom makes them kinda for fun.  He's a genius.  We fell in love and ordered our own right then and there.  We put down a deposit, arranged for them to deliver it when it was done (about a month, they said) and blissfully drove back to the city.

Well yesterday we got the call - our table was ready!  It would be dropped off that very evening.  Despite my slightly flu-ish condition, I was so excited I could hardly stand it.  They'd barely pulled up to the house (at exactly the time they promised) when I was out the door to meet them, jumping up and down like a little kid on Christmas morning.  Here it is!

It's 6' X 3'; enough room for eight people right now, and a couple more if we decide to get a bench later on.  It's solid as a boulder and absolutely gorgeous.  It feels like it's already got a soul and love stories inside it's pine-y goodness.  BF and I decided we'd split on it as an early wedding present to each other.

Last night we sat around and had supper and then spent pretty much the whole night sitting there, enjoying the new addition to our home, imagining all the amazing things that will happen around it in the future, and looking forward to it all with all our hearts.  It's our new favourite thing in the world!

Hope you're having a nice long weekend, loves!  Till next time!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

One Wall Down...

. . . well, not down. . . but you know what I mean. . . well, you will. . . 

It's been two months since BF and I moved into our amazing little house, and every day we try to do a little something to make it feel more and more like home, and it's coming along, slowly but surely.  This week was kind of a write-off though - BF was away for work for a few days and I've been feeling pretty under the weather for the rest, but I did manage to get one thing done.  I'd been curled up on the couch feeling pretty sorry for myself for a while, staring at the wall, when I started to see things - no, not pink elephants, more along the lines of pieces of our art collection making their way up there and finding homes.  Suddenly I was filled with inspiration to do a gallery wall.

As my energy allowed, I began a little bit at a time.

Between the two of us, BF and I have a lot of art.  Our old apartment had 12 foot ceilings so it was easy to find places for much of it, but our house has normal walls so we have to be more selective and creative when it comes to putting our collection out.  I started with the "Love Lives Here" print by Susan Black that BF gave me for Valentine's Day this year, and a print of a painting by Tom Thomson, called "Pine Island, Georgian Bay."

Then I kind of just went back to the couch.

The next day I came home from work early and took to the couch again.  I stared at that wall, this time not just feeling sorry for myself, but with purpose.  I thought hard about the pieces that we have, and what we wanted to put out and came up with a few more additions.

BF and I both love to have things in our home that have a story or history.  The butterfly at the top right, for example, was drawn by me when I was in high school, with a bottle of India ink and a toothpick, and the green print at the bottom middle, was a gift from a friend of a friend, the talented graphic designer behind Be Bold.  Beside it is an ancient post card of a Scottish castle, a flea market find that I came across with my aunt K about a million years ago, and above that is Group of Seven's Lawren Harris's "Mount LeRoy".

Yesterday I managed, over the course of the afternoon, to put up what I think will be the final pieces.

At the top we've got Danny Dennis's "Whale Moon Raven"; lyrics for the song "It Breaks You So," by our friend and amazing songwriter Steven Bowers; a print from the White Stripes' box set Under the Great White Northern Lights.  There is the gold foil sun mirror I got when I worked at an import shop a while back, "Mount LeRoy," "Love Lives Here," my butterfly, a tiny ink and paper piece by BF's wonderful friend and artist Camille Turner, and a beautiful Buddha plaque BF collected.  On the bottom is a print by Anna Stowe and on top of that, a little carved totem pole D brought me from Vancouver last time he went.  Then there is the red glasses owl from Collage-O-Rama, a gift from a Reddit exchange, the Scottish castle, and below that a photo of a little girl reaching hard to see herself in a mirror, a gift from my high school art teacher when I graduated.  Then, past Be Bold and Thom Thompson is an Ecuadorian mask, a gift from the owners of the import shop I worked at.

As of right now, we are pretty pleased with the results but we can always change things up any time we like.  Despite the fact that it took me the better part of a week to get it all up there, it feels great to be able to look over and see some of our favourite pieces out on our walls at last.  

Like I said, slowly, but surely. :)

Till next time, friends!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Old Tin Cans and Oversized Rice Balls: Wedding Prep Commences

The other day, E and T came over to help make wedding decorations and test out some potential recipes for the day.  

A while back, on good ol' Pinterest, we found an idea for lanterns made from old juice cans and a few nails, screw drivers and a hammer.  They were quite lovely and I fell in love with the idea right away, so I got some of the good folks at work to start saving juice cans for me.

The idea is to hammer holes of different shapes and sizes into patterns in the can, and then place a candle or light inside to shine through the holes.  E and T did all the work while I cooked, the dears.  

As with many projects you come across on Pinterest and say, "hey, I'm gonna do that!," it wasn't as easy as we'd hoped.

It took a bit of trial and error, trying different sized nails, positions to hold the can in and so on, but the gals got the knack of it eventually and made a pretty great first lantern, I think!  Take a look:

I think with a few more tries we'll be able to elaborate on the pattern and come up with something downright gorgeous.

Wish I could say so much for the risotto balls I attempted to make.  Ugh.  Notice: there is no photographic evidence of them even ever existing.  It's for the best my friends, trust me.  

I'd made a lemon and saffron risotto the night before in anticipation of the food testing day, so that was my base.  Following a few instructions from a few different places, I added a beaten egg to the cold risotto and formed a number of balls with the mixture.  I poked holes in each one and pushed in cubes of havarti.  Then I rolled them in flour and bread crumbs and fried them in a large skillet in vegetable oil.  They pretty much fell apart.  In hindsight, I guess I made them way too big.  E and T and I all agreed that, though the taste was great, they were too large to both cook well and eat easily, so next time, smaller it is.  T also suggested a second coating of bread crumbs might hold them together better as well, so I figure I'll add an egg wash and more bread crumbs before cooking them in the next trial.  

Anyhoo, I feel good about it all, no matter how things turned out.  Little bits of planning and prep at a time and things will fall into place.  And they better!  Four months to go folks!  Time's a-wastin'!

Till next time!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Garlic Babies: Take 2

Some of you may remember earlier this year when I planted, grew and then subsequently killed (accidently!!) some garlic I'd been trying to grow.  The whole experiment lasted for about two months and was kinda fun while it lasted, watching the plants get bigger and hoping for the best.  

Well, here we go again.

Two weeks ago, I planted four cloves in a pot that I decided to keep outside, in our yard.

Tis the season, after all, for getting your gardening skills sharpened, and though it has been a rather cold, wet, gloomy spring here in Halifax, I thought I'd keep the garlic outside so it could get the most sun and rain it could get since there are spaces in our yard that are sunny pretty much from sunrise till sunset.  Well, looks like I made the right decision. 

Here they are today, about seven inches tall, and much stronger looking than the first batch.  You may notice there are only three sprouts - I suspect one of our bird friends thought garlic was on the menu one day and plucked the other clove out for a quick nosh.  

I've heard and found online, differing opinions as to how long garlic takes to grow from a clove, ranging from a few months to a year, so at this point I have absolutely no idea what to expect.  I guess we'll just have to be patient.  Stay tuned friends, you know you want to! ;)

Till next time!

Friday, May 10, 2013

A-Mays-ing Night At The Carleton

(God I'm punny.)

So last night BF and I got to see Matt Mays and Adam Baldwin play a sold out show at one of our very favourite live music venues in the world, The Carleton.  We got there extra early on the advice of the wonderful John, pal, manager, host and sound guy extraordinaire, and had a lovely supper from the kitchen.  

PEI's Nathan Wiley (super cool website, yes?) opened and played a great set of his quiet and thoughtful folk-rock songs.

Then came the headliners, Mays and Baldwin.  

These two have been playing together for quite a while now and have really great chemistry, both as musicians, being able to play off of one another and improvise their jams, as well as in their between song banter, joking around and telling funny stories.  

They played songs from each of Mays' albums, from 2002's Matt Mays to last year's Coyote.  They did off the wall versions, jamming out, sometimes slowly a song down, sometimes speeding it up, changing things around from the studio versions.  Baldwin kicked ass as usual with his electric guitar and great vocals.

And Mays sang and played with his usual sincere ferocity.

Although when he plays bigger venues with a full band, he will rock your knee socks right off,  this was definitely one of my favourite shows I've seen of Mays'.  There is nothing like being ten feet away from the artist, being able to see their facial expressions as they perform, and have great interactions with the audience.  The intimacy of such a show will always make you appreciate their music in a different way.

The duo ended the night by playing City of Lakes, from Mays' first album, a love song to his hometown, Dartmouth.  From beginning to end, a great show gents, thanks.

Adam Baldwin is also a really talented singer-songwriter, and helms The Carlton's house band, The Carletones, every Saturday night; always a raucous scene.  Next time you're looking for a fun weekend night, head down, I promise you will not be disappointed.

Happy weekend everyone!  Till next time!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Critters 'n' Fleurs

Birds and flowers are the topic of the day.

First there was this guy, in our yard.  A cardinal! We've seen a few since we moved here, which is a few more than I've seen in twenty years, so it's been cool beans.

Then, his date showed up.

Weird, don't you think , that in bird culture, it's the guy who has to wear all the cute outfits to attract the gal. ;)

I kept a close eye on this guy next door, while our visitors were around.  He behaved, but I feel like it pained him to do so.

This Mourning Dove showed up too.  

And this guy....oh, I can't remember what D told me he was....

Either way, our yard has become like the United Nations for birds.  I like it.  

On my way from work to meet BF this afternoon, I cut through the Public Gardens.  Though not even a shadow of the glory that they will be soon, there are blooms all over.

I can't wait until the gardens are full out growing!  I will be there every day with my camera, capturing the amazingness!  Can't wait to share!

Till next time!