Tuesday 30 December 2014

The Days Between

The Christmas celebrations are now behind us.  The days were spent quietly at home enjoying some great food and good company.  The table was set with our festive red and white crockery and adorned with red roses and white carnations.  

As always, the question is what to eat on the days between Christmas and New Year.  With the busy days leading up to Christmas, my baking did not go according to plan.

I decided to bake a Yule Log.  It has been a couple of years since I made one and I had an excess of (good quality) chocolate in my pantry.  I used the recipe from Nigella's Christmas, which is by far the best that I've tried.  It produced a beautifully moist sponge with a delicious chocolate buttercream icing.  The finishing touches of fresh snow and reindeer completed the picture.

Wednesday 24 December 2014

'Twas The Night Before Christmas

When all through the house, not a creature was stirring....

Christmas Eve is finally here and the tree ornaments include this sweet one of mice hanging their stockings.  The presents are wrapped and we have just finished dinner.

Just time to wish you and your loved ones a very Happy Christmas.  

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Maritime Christmas

Christmastime is here and what better way to prepare for a Maritime Christmas than by adding some appropriate festive touches to our tree?  This year saw the addition of the sou'wester-wearing snowman.

They still seem to be struggling to add the last of the Christmas lights to the lighthouse.

All before Santa sets out in his rowing boat to deliver the presents to those of us who are less accessible by sleigh.

Sunday 21 December 2014


Today is the Winter Solstice: the shortest day, with the least amount of daylight hours and the longest night of the year.  It is also the ancient festival of Yule which celebrates the rebirth of the sun and the beginning of winter.

We may have to wait a few weeks before the days become longer again, but in the meantime, we can enjoy the lights at home.  It is lovely to come home to welcoming lights shining in the windows.

This year saw the addition of these candle lights.  I had spent some time searching for these after admiring them in other peoples' windows.  I think that they look wonderful from indoors and they are also pretty from outside, though I haven't had a chance to go out and take a photograph yet.

It may be dark outdoors today, but inside we will have our lights shining out into the darkness.

Thursday 18 December 2014

Christmas Favourites

One of the best aspects of Christmas is bringing out the old favourites to decorate our tree.  Every piece brings back memories of when it was bought or made (I have fabric hearts and knitted baskets).

The chef was purchased in the Christmas shop on Cape Breton and he has been busy making a gingerbread man.

The peace, love and joy people were bought at the botanic garden shop in Ontario and they still bring a smile to my face when I take them out each year.

The Christmas star was a more recent purchase and is a pretty finishing touch.  Once the tree is lit, the joy of Christmas surrounds us.

Tuesday 16 December 2014

Steek Issues

So I finally plucked up the courage to cut my steeks and I've run into some issues since, which have yet again caused me to stop knitting.  

The pattern instructions said to cut down the middle of each steek then reinforce by the addition of a crochet chain stitch or machine stitching 1.5 stitches from the cut line.

The problem that I've encountered is fraying.  The crochet chain stitch is not holding well; I'm unable to machine down the edge of the steek because my machine won't stitch this and I'm now afraid that if I'm not really careful, the whole lot is going to unravel along with my nerves!

The solution would seem to be to hand stitch along both sides of each steek, which is going to be incredibly time-consuming, but I have no option if I am to salvage weeks of knitting.  As it is, I hardly dare touch these edges because they are so fragile.

I know that I said that my theme for this month is joy, but I'm not finding much joy in this project at the moment.  Hopefully, there will be some joy to share once I get over this latest hurdle.

Festive Touches

Although we don't have a large kitchen, I do like to add a few festive touches when I decorate for Christmas.  A couple of smaller ornaments on the cookbook shelves.

My mice and holly window ornament in the kitchen window topped off with baubles to catch the light.  The mice always brighten even the dullest of days and in my imagination, they are busy in the kitchen when I'm not around (I wish that were the case, as I could use the help!)

Snowmen also seem to feature in many of my Christmas decorations and these three caught my eye last year and were added to my collection.

This 'window' was a gift this year.  It would look better against a white wall, but I don't have one in our living areas.  It puts a smile on my face when I see it.

I wander into the kitchen and find myself humming Christmas carols - In The Bleak Midwinter is an eternal favourite.  The joy of the season is all around now that I've found time to put the decorations up.

Monday 15 December 2014

O Christmas Tree

Our tree arrived a week ago, but I had no time to decorate it until yesterday.  After four days, it had lights on it, however, I discovered that one string wouldn't work, so had to go and get some more.  The new ones are supposed to be white, but look yellow and the original white ones look blue on these photographs ('warm' and 'cool' shades...).  I wasn't sure about the two different shades of 'white', but decided to use them all anyway.

The finishing touch was my star tree topper.  I requested a 6' tree, but this one is considerably taller.  There are only millimetres to spare so it is just as well the bottom was cut off after it arrived!  It is a beautiful tree though.

Anyway, I think that it looks lovely and even with all of the ornaments that I own, there is still a little space left for me to add some fragrant natural decorations.  I have dried orange slices and I'm planning to add some of these, together with some cinnamon sticks for a scented Christmas welcome.
The joy of the Christmas season is upon us!

Sunday 14 December 2014

Christmas Countdown

The countdown towards Christmas is well underway and I was late hanging up my Advent calendar pockets.  I'm really like a child at Christmas when it comes to opening little treasures or the doors of my Advent calendar: it fills me with joyful anticipation

I actually have four Christmas countdowns on the go.  I will enjoy the countdown to Christmas even more when I get to the end of this week, as I'm taking some much-needed time off.  Friday can't arrive soon enough!

Friday 12 December 2014

Christmas Kitchen

The festive season is upon us and the first Christmas tea was last week.  I was unable to attend the event, so I made these contributions in advance.  Spruced Up Vanilla Cake looks so pretty covered in icing sugar 'snow'.

Chocolate cupcakes are always a hit and I couldn't resist adding a bit more 'snow' to their chocolate butterflies.

Lastly, a plain butter spongecake with white icing.  It wa supposed to be two layers, but the recipe didn't stretch that far, so ended up as a single layer.

After all that baking, what could be better than a refreshing cup of tea, served in my snowman teapot set?

Wednesday 10 December 2014

The Royal Couple

Whilst the Royal Couple have been visiting New York and Washington this week, I've been hosting another royal couple.  On a visit to Halifax last weekend, we bought these holly bushes.  

Blue Prince and Blue Princess arrived in the same container.  As you are probably aware, in order to have holly berries from a female plant, there needs to be a male plant to fertilize it.

As they have been grown indoors, it is too late in the year to plant them outside, so I now have rather large house plants until next spring.

With their glossy green leaves and festive berries, these bushes are a colourful natural addition to our Christmas decorations.  The sight of bright red holly berries is always joyful during the cold, dark days of winter.

I'm told that they do not take well to being transplanted, so I have to decide upon a permanent site in which to plant them, as I will not be able to move them again.  They grow to quite a size, so I'll be choosing carefully.  I've always wanted my own holly bushes, so they are a welcome addition to my garden.

Wednesday 3 December 2014


Although I'm not actually participating in December's NaBloPoMo, I did take a look to see what this month's theme is and discovered that it is 'Joy'.  I have no intention of putting the pressure on again by posting every day, but I thought that I would take this theme and write posts about things that bring me joy.

Today, it was receiving this beautiful bunch of flowers.  I don't usually receive flowers at work, so this definitely brought joy to my day.

Tuesday 2 December 2014

A Maritime Christmas Countdown

The Christmas countdown has begun and this year, I have an Advent Calendar with a Maritime theme.  Those little paper windows bring out the child in me - I just love opening them to discover what is inside.

Today, I've been down to Cape Breton for work and I certainly had a taste of the sea - the spray was coming over the Canso Causeway (link between the Island and the mainland) and whipping up white caps on the waves.

Monday 1 December 2014

Glad Tidings

Now that December is here, I can relax as I have just completed a month of posting for NaBloPoMo

I thought that I would share a recent visit to one of my favourite places, which just happens to be open throughout the year (I usually manage to sneak in a summer visit too!)

Glad Tidings is in St Peter's on Cape Breton.  This delightful shop is packed with everything related to Christmas .  Those of you who have followed my blog for a while may remember that we visited the first year that we were in Nova Scotia and were just in time for their last open house.

I thought that this lantern was very sweet ~ it's a pity that I can't add a moving picture, but the snow actually blows around inside. 

I had believed that this would be our last visit before Christmas, due to my husband's surgery, but as it has been postponed, maybe I can squeeze in an extra visit...

Sunday 30 November 2014

Thought For The Day - 5

 This Advent moon shines cold and clear,
These Advent nights are long;
Our lamps have burned year after year
And still their flame is strong.

Christina Rossetti

The beginning of Advent and the start of the preparations for Christmas.  In the kitchen, I've been drying oranges which will form part of our Christmas decorations.  I love to have naturally scented additions to our Christmas tree, as they make Christmas much more memorable.
My angel chimes are out in preparation for the season and the light of the candles shines out in the darkness.  The Advent nights are long, but indoors, it is cosy and warm.

Saturday 29 November 2014


I started a knitting project a year ago and I wrote a short post about it here.  At the time, I promised to post a photograph of the completed project, but for some reason, this post remained in draft.

This photo is a little dark, but if you look at the previous post, you will see that the letters are in green and white.  It was fun to knit, although challenging because of using small needles, but I love the end result and will have this on display again soon.

Friday 28 November 2014

Holly Berries

I first saw this pretty holly berry jug in a magazine last Christmas.  My patience has been rewarded, as I found one on eBay and it arrived just in time for the Christmas season.

It is small, but perfectly formed.  A delightful addition to my Christmas table.

Thursday 27 November 2014

Kitchen Chefs

I've left the mice in charge of the kitchen and they've been busy feeding the Christmas cakes with brandy.  Yes, there are two of them this year (cakes, not mice, although there are two of them as well).

I baked the first cake and was then asked to bake a second.  I'm hoping to keep the extra one until later in the winter or early spring.  If I hide it away, maybe no-one will find it....

Wednesday 26 November 2014


We were ready to leave for the hospital this morning and were just heading out the door when the phone rang.  My husband's surgery was cancelled at the last minute.  He has been told that he will now have to wait until mid-January.


Today I am waiting: just like my garden waiting for spring, but for different reasons.  For today is the end of a three year wait for my husband's surgery.  It has been a long time waiting, but not nearly as long as the wait will be later today when I'm counting the minutes and hours until I know that he is safely in recovery.

Tuesday 25 November 2014


Although I have knitted for years, I've never had much success in the past with 'knitting in the round' and steeks are completely new to me.  The basic idea is that they reinforce the knitting and allow an opening to be formed into which I will then knit a sleeve.  The scary part of it is that at some stage, I actually have to take my courage in both hands and cut them!

Anyway, as you can see, I have made progress with Snowstar and I'm now at the neck shaping.  Not without incident, I might add, as I've had to do a fair bit of unpicking to correct mistakes along the way.  

Monday 24 November 2014

Welcome To Winter

Saturday morning dawned grey and snowy, but later in the morning (after the initial clean-up of our deck), the sun came out.  If there was ever any doubt that winter had arrived, it has certainly gone now.  At least we didn't get a dumping of snow like New York State!  (Take a look at the photo from the New York Times.)

The garden now has a blanket of snow and I think that I may be too late to protect my Camellia (hoping that the snow acts as insulation.)  It can be difficult to decide what will survive our winters.

The trees are frosted too.  It seems a little early to be looking so festive, but it may not last as there are signs of a thaw.

We have a snow fence this year (the orange netting to the left of the photo) as we get a lot of drifting from our neighbour's garden.  It is only partly erected, as it will extend further back between the houses.  The reason for this will be explained later next week.