December 22, 2013

A White December

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!!
A whole two seasons later means my blog news update is well overdue to say the least.
I last wrote during the summertime as we were settling into our new home, reunited as a family of four. We explored the local area and made the most of all the sunny days living close to the sea.  
The cooler days came along and quite quickly turned into white winter ones, with early snowfalls in November and temperatures way below zero into the double digits.
Jemma had to return to South Korea by the end of August and I do miss her so much. We got used having her around for many months enjoying her company. 
Amber is just 25 minutes away by car which is nice.  She has been immersed in studying, working and socialising, so we have had an empty nest again - which is how it should be when you have raised two independent daughters who are quite capable of living their own lives.
My Etsy shop kept me busy throughout August, September and October with continued orders for wedding cake topper birds regularly coming in. I introduced mobiles back into my shop and started taking care of two primary school children for a few hours a week, giving some structure to my days.
Although my new home does not give me the inspiration that our old Victorian farm house did with its quirky character, I always look out for DIY projects and ideas to work on when I get a break from sewing. 
I had been looking out for a large old picture frame for some time, checking in thrift stores and the sale ads in the local newspaper but couldn't find one large enough for what I had  in mind.  I wanted to make a statement chalk board for my kitchen and had seen a few on Pinterest.  One suggestion was to use door trim to construct a frame, which I decided was a good alternative to try.  

First I bought two lengths of door trim from the local hardware store and a large enough piece of lightweight backing board measuring 50" by 25".  Craig used a manual saw to cut the door trim for me, using a saw frame to get all cuts at a perfect 90 degree angle to form the frame, which was then glued to the  board and clamped together to dry.  The board had been painted prior to this with chalkboard paint in black found at the local craft store, it went on easily and needed three coats for a nice smooth finish. 
I am pleased with the end result and it cost under $20 in total!

Now all I need is for Jemma to come home and write a fancy menu for me in her perfect handwriting to make a simple but effective piece of art in my kitchen. In the meantime I shall have some fun scribbling on it! 
 This week we have Amber home for the holidays, which is lovely.  I get to stock the pantry again with plenty of delicious food, decorate the Christmas tree, sip a little red wine, dabble in some baking and smile sweetly as she tries her very hardest to convince me that we really do need a small dog in our lives!!  This would, apparently make her want to come home so much more often.
Let's just say, I am still very much on the fence on that subject.  

July 20, 2013

Summer days in Tantallon, Nova Scotia

Hello dear friends,
I just love summertime,  we have been living in our new home for a few weeks now and once the initial unpacking was out of the way we set to work to improve it.  The first place that needed tackling was the back garden.  A nasty gravel and weed ridden yard was crying out for some proper grass.  Not willing to wait for seed to grow we opted for the more expensive delivery of turf or sod as the locals here in Canada call it.  
It was all hands on deck as we spread out a huge pile of good quality soil that then had to be moved into place and leveled out before the rectangles of grass could be laid on top.  
Between the four of us we lifted, carried, laid, patch worked, flattened and watered the sod until we were all exhausted and bitten silly by the relentless mosquitoes.   (the down side to living in the midst of a forest area)
Some scorching weather followed which meant Craig was out early morning and late evening watering and fighting a losing battle with the Mosies for several days!  
It seems to have paid off now and we have some rather lush grass behind the house to walk on, making hanging my washing a pleasure and not a pain.  
Inside with all our bits and bobs around from the old house it feels like home again. 

Once the gardening was under control we decided to take a well deserved weekend break and headed by car and ferry to Prince Edward Island, commonly referred to as P.E.I.  for a couple of days.
We loved Charlottetown with it's bohemian atmosphere, well kept homes and gardens and beautiful beaches. With almost Mediterranean temperatures the water was a welcome place to be and the balmy evenings were spent down on the harbour board walk listening to music, while tourists meandered around, the ladies in their summer dresses and the guys in shorts and deck shoes.  

Now we are back home again we have been visiting local beaches and lakes to cool off in the higher than usual temperatures for July, armed with a picnic lunch, brolly and blanket we are all set.  I am not complaining at all as I know how quickly the summers end here and it is lovely to be making the most of having my two daughters home for the summer before they go back to University again.

Hazel x

June 28, 2013

We moved house!

Hard to believe that it is over 2 months since my last post, but so much has transpired since then.  
Having spent the three coldest months of the year Jan, Feb and March, renting a small, warm apartment in the center of Halifax. As the crocuses and daffodils started to open up we packed up our personal belongings and headed back to our own home in the Annapolis Valley. Jemma had stayed with us the whole time and Amber was finishing her first year at University.
The house was put back on the market at a much lower price and within a few weeks we had serious buyers, a young family who wanted to move in asap.

It was all systems go as we started the task of packing eight years of collecting stuff to fill our big old Victorian home.  Kijiji became a life saver as I photographed many of the pieces of furniture that would be surplus to our needs in the unknown smaller new home we would subsequently move into.
Furnishing an older home is such fun, neglected vintage finds became useful and pretty with a little TLC and a coat of white paint!! As each lovingly restored piece found a new home I also made some new friends along the way, which was an added bonus!  

We attempted to hold a yard sale which was not so successful, being in a remote village we didn't have many drive by customers, so we donated things by the bagful to the red cross, local library and other charity organisations, very little got thrown away as I am a great believer of recycling and after all one persons junk is another persons treasure!

On June 3rd we said goodbye with mixed feelings to the home we had named Blossom Hill, with it's surrounding apple orchards and happy fun filled changing seasons that were the inspiration for starting this blog back in 2006!  

So begins the next chapter of our life here in Canada.....

Hazel xx

April 04, 2013

Happy Easter and Hello April :)

I love the month of April.  Even though Spring is always late in arriving here in Nova Scotia especially down in the valley, there are promising signs that it is thinking about it.  
A few little snowdrops and crocuses have bravely dared to make an appearance, struggling through the remnants of snow clinging to the ground and it is lovely to see a little colour here and there.
With Spring approaching my wedding cake topper orders have been flooding in at such a rate that some days I have been struggling to keep up.  Most buyers plan well ahead with weddings scheduled in July and August but I have had a couple of rush jobs for those early Spring dates that need to be made up and sent out, to arrive in under two weeks!

I think adding little legs was a good call,  even though the birds were popular standing on their little felt heart shaped ones the new design is more versatile and means they can stand on top of softer icing as well as the fondant iced cakes.  
I was recently sent a few photos of the creative way my customers have displayed their little birds; in nests, on top of archways and underneath tiny bunting flags, which I am considering offering as an addition to the birds.  I have made the fabric bunting flag cake toppers before but only sold them on their own.
These little blue and silver grey birds are so shabby chic and pretty in pastel shades of blue and pink.

The traditional dark grey and white birds.

Our home is back on the market too this spring and with a very much reduced selling price we are hopeful that this will be the year of downsizing to a home with no barn and a garden instead of some fields.  The property would be much better suited now to a family with young children and perhaps a couple of horses or alpacas.
Whether we are going to be spending summer in the valley or moving closer to the city it is a time of year I really look forward to.

March 09, 2013

A Chocolate Treat

When it comes to cooking, I am not really in my comfort zone.  I do have the occasional moments of genius or luck, but generally I tend to stick with what I know best when it comes to meal preparation, always a little scared to experiment as many recipes seem to have a long list of ingredients, more often than not missing from my pantry or fridge at any given time.
However, two, or rather three things have wet my culinary appetite recently and inspired me to be more creative in the kitchen!
The first was being presented with a mini birthday cake last weekend made from scratch by my youngest daughter Amber.  This was a surprise in itself, given the fact that she not only took time out of her busy University schedule but she also got together with her friend who is studying food nutrition and they concocted a sugar free recipe for a chocolate cake with a soft walnut topping!

I have a health condition called GSD3, which means my liver can't process refined sugar, so I have to really limit how much I can have. I don't like to use artificial sweeteners but do use stevia which a natural sweetener.  Amber made this cute 3inch cake using a little natural maple syrup. 
The second source inspiration came from the vivacious and talented chef Jess Pike, a Scottish lass who runs cooking demonstration classes at my local superstore.  She also has a website called A Pear of Tarts. I have been going to Jess's what's for dinner classes held on a Monday lunchtime for a few weeks now.  While watching her expertly cooking she also entertains us with some hilarious stories thrown in.  At the end of the class the students or viewers get a little plate of her creation to try out and a copy of the recipe and a gift card to spend in the store too.  I really look forward to these classes and am gathering a few recipes to try out at home.

Jess Pike 

Last, but not least was coming across a great blog called 'can you stay for dinner' written by Andie Mitchell.  Her story intrigued me and I enjoyed reading it.  She writes well and has some great food ideas and a healthy outlook on life which I really admire, there are so many recipes on her blog that I am going to have a go at making.

Have I made you all hungry yet??