Friday, July 10, 2020

a ten year anniversary

Ten years ago, I started a blog. I barely knew what a blog was, but I was newly married, home with a baby and I found myself longing for a creative outlet. Somewhere that I could write and indulge my creativity, share what I found beautiful in the day to day of living. I had no idea how much this blog would grow me. How much it would push me to find and nurture my tastes. I had no idea the sense of community I would find, women who share the same interests and passions and sense of style.

I've always had an idea to as to where I would like to take my blog. Seemingly grand and lofty dreams that have always seemed like things I would tackle in the future, when the boys were grown and I had more time to focus on it.

But the truth is, while I'm not ready to fully jump into anything full-time, I do think that it's important to work towards dreams.

Over the past decade, I've watched my tastes evolve and in the last couple years, settle. Settle in a sense that I've learned to trust my instincts and do things in a way that makes me happy. To know what I want to do, and be confident in how I want to do it. Over all these years, I've found inspiration in so many other fellow bloggers and how their blogs have evolved. Catherine of In the Fields gave me the confidence to paint an entire house white like I envisioned, and a love for beautiful old things. And Tessa of Nine & Sixteen pushed me to layer patterns and that blue and green are neutral in their own beautiful ways. And Jenny Steffens Hobick of Everyday Occasions has inspired an embracing of the seasons and how to celebrate them in your home. Maria of Dreamy Whites showed me that you can take something you have a love for, like collecting beautiful old things, and grow it into a beautiful business. And Heather Bullard helped me realize what styling was - that it is an art - and that doing it can take you to the most beautiful places. And of course those many, many (many) back issues of Martha Stewart Living magazine. And these are just some!

There are so many other Instagram accounts that bring inspiration and feed my creativity every single day. I know I'm not the only one that feels this way, but I feel like I've found my people. Others who just get me, who's brains work the same way as mine. We are drawn to the same things. Who love words and wrapping pretty packages and browsing antique shops and setting tables and matching fabrics and fluffing pillows and painting rooms and arranging flowers and styling outfits and reading books and travelling to quaint towns and capturing life.

One of the reasons I've always been hesitant to make some dreams a reality, is because honestly, I have so many dreams. I want to cook and entertain, I want to spend my days curating antiques for a little shop in some little town. I want to write a book. I want to write for publications and share some of the beautiful people and places I've stumbled upon. I want to travel and explore. I want to design beautiful spaces as I envision them.

But, I don't want to miss a single moment with my boys.

I don't know how many of you know this, but years ago, I would host a yearly sale. I would collect and store antiques and vintage finds for an entire year, and on Thanksgiving weekend, pull everything out, set it all up (which was really my favourite part), and then have a sale.

While I don't have the desire to do any sort of show, I miss collecting. I miss setting the things I find up in a way that shows them off.

So, in an attempt to begin to work towards some of these lofty goals of mine, I've decided to start collecting again. Well, in truth, I've already started.

I'm going to start hosting a small online sale - a collection of antique and vintage items, curated for each season.

My first collection will be
The Summer Collection.

Classic blue and white. Nautical inspiration. Timeless and natural.

I'm still working out all the details, but essentially, a date for the collection would be set ahead of time. I will feature all of the items in my stories and then launch the collection the following day. If you purchased an item, a paypal invoice will be sent and I will ship the items off for you to enjoy!

I will list the items available for this collection later today in my stories. The sale will go live on Saturday morning at 11 am AST/ 10:00 am EST.

So, I have no idea what the next ten years will hold. It's hard to imagine they can top these last ten!  For now, I know I want to start slowing working towards some of these lofty ideas of mine and for now, I'm thankful that I can share with you.

I want to live simply. I want to live intentionally. I want to live beautifully.

With so much gratefulness,

Thursday, July 9, 2020

hirtles beach and beach hill road

We are a family that loves the water. We are also a family that loves to explore. It isn't surprising then, that nearly every drive we take leads to the ocean. There are so many cozy harbours you pass through as you wind along the shores of the Bay of Fundy. There are so many pleasant towns in the countryside with grand homes and rolling farmlands. And there are so many quaint fishing towns with their weathered huts on stilts, and their rusty lobster traps laying about and their colourful buoys bobbing in the waves. But when given a hot summer afternoon and an empty schedule, we pack our swim suits and books (and a million other things it seems), and we head to the beach.

We stumbled on this beach back in March, when my sister and her family were staying with us over spring break. Back when the waves crashed and the wind whipped icy spray as you walked the shore, and your wet face froze and the cold was almost unbearable.

The beach is called Hirtles Beach. It's down past Lower Rose Bay and in the Upper Kingsburg area, south of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

Driving down Hirtle Beach Road and Beach Hill Road felt almost surreal. We had no idea an area like this existed here. It was like stumbling onto some road on Long Island, or town on the coast in Massachusetts, but with a decidedly Canadian feel. The cottages that line the hill as you drive in are an unusual blend of historic and modern, something I have yet to discover anywhere else in Nova Scotia (yet). Between centuries old homes sit modern cottages, many designed by world-famous architect Brian Mackay-Lyons. It has such a unique feel to it because though the styles can vary dramatically, there's a sameness to them. In the end, left to salty air and the seaside winds, they all wear the same way.

I packed a picnic for us to bring - as many snacks as are required to occupy four growing boys for the period of an afternoon. And for Ryan and I, we stopped in a nearby town, at a farm stand no less, to pick up two giant lobster rolls that the locals here have been raving about.

This cottage, perched on the top of the cliff, is obviously a favourite.

The beach itself is amazing. The waves were so much fun for the older boys, and while it's a bit rocky at the top, there's plenty of sand when the tide is out, and beautiful surroundings. It was windy, and the water was cold, but it's also the beginning of July.

The air is salty and the blooming beach roses add a sweetness. It's such an intoxicating smell, one that's found in some of my favourite places, and always brings with it a wave of the sweetest memories.


Something that makes this particular spot so great, is that while the ocean is cold and wavy, there are a couple of ponds just steps away, on the other side of the beach. These are warm and feel Caribbean-like, especially after being in the Atlantic. They were perfect for the little ones to swim in. It's also slightly more sheltered from the wind.

It was hours of fun body-surfing, combing the beach for shells, and chasing the tide. The water is cool, and with the wind, I'm thankful we threw in blankets in sweaters. I love being by the water on a warm day, but I think I especially love it when it's cool enough to sit with a blanket around your sundress, or to throw a cable knit sweater over your t-shirt and shorts.

As you drive down the back roads, the roads follow ponds with the ocean in the distance, and the cottages, randomly scattered, line the hills.

If you follow Beach Hill Road past the turnoff for the beach, there's a small community just a little further down, encircling another pond. Here you can find another little beach area that is part of the Gaff Point Trail.

Another favourite cottage overlooking the coast.

By the time we're thoroughly windswept, skin salty and sand everywhere, we pack up and make our way home. We take the slow, scenic way of course, while the boys sleep quietly, worn out from a day in the sun and waves.

The drive along the Lahave River is beautiful. You wind in and out, following the river, never leaving the edge of the shore. Here the old homes, all scattered along the banks, and church steeples, standing prominently at the furthest points, always remind me of a folk painting. For the first time, we saw all of the sailboats moored in the bays, a sign that summer has arrived on the coast.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

a tour of the historic gardens of annapolis royal

On Sunday afternoon, we went for drive down towards Annapolis Royal. We drove along the Bay on the way there, and then through the countryside as we headed back home. It's a beautiful drive and one we particularly enjoy, as it follows the winding Annapolis River. The river begins behind our property, at the Caribou Bog, and snakes through the western part of the Valley, all the way out to the Annapolis Basin. Annapolis Royal is a sea-side town that boasts a rich historic past. It dates back to when the first settlers arrived in Canada, as early as 1605 (previously called Port Royal), and therefore has many historic homes to admire. It's a tourist destination with a few seasonal cafes and shops, making it a pleasant town to walk around.

It's also home to the Historic Gardens and it's been on my list of things to do this summer. The gardens are spread over 17 acres and incorporate a number of styles. I only had an hour to myself, so I planned to spend my time in the ones that most interested me, namely the Rose Garden and the Governor's Garden. I was thrilled that I was able to catch the rose gardens in full bloom and what's more, I had thought to pack my camera, just in case! I was also pleasantly surprised by a few other features in the garden and as a result, found myself lingering among the lavender, unaware that the closing hour of five had come and gone. (Fortunately I could still slip out the exit gate.)
[ photo from website ]

While there were so many styles of gardens to view, I didn't have time to really take in most of the gardens. Aside from the Rose Garden and the Governor's Garden, a few other unexpected favourites were the Knot Garden, the Dykewalk (which I only saw the entrance to), and La Maison Acadienne, a reconstructed Acadian home.

I couldn't resist photographing this charming doorknob on the historic home. All of the accents are painted in a classically English sage green.

We'll begin our tour in the Rose Garden - a mass of fragrant, unruly blooms in a maze of perfectly edged beds. The many types (apparently hundreds of cultivars) create a vast variety of colors and various shaped blooms. A few early bloomers had already reached their peak and left a scattering of petals, but most were at peak bloom. The oldest variety I came across, a leggy and rather sparse white rose called White Bath, Moss was from 1810.

There was a semi-circle of Iceberg Roses when you first enter that were putting on quite a display. The blooms are smaller, and clustered together. What I like about this variety is that you can see the various stages of opening at once. I prefer this to other varieties that are clusters of all the same stage bloom. It's more pleasing to the eye.

At the back of the Rose Garden is a maze, and at the entrance, this arbor that is covered in a pale pink climber.

I can't wait for the climbing roses we planted this spring to reach this stage.

There were quite a few varieties of English Tea roses, which are always a favourite.

This little spot was my favourite - a little bench, tucked off to the edge of the gardens, in the shade.

I had to pull myself away to continue the rest of the tour and headed next towards the Dykewalk. While I didn't have time to do the entire walk, I popped down a little ways so I could see the river. The river starts off quite small at our property, and by the time it reaches down to the basin, it's large and grand looking.

Near here is also La Maison Acadienne. I've been reading through the history of the Acadian peoples and look forward to returning with the boys to tour this home. I didn't realize until afterwards that there is a little kitchen garden here. I always love a good kitchen garden.

I had missed most of the peonies blooming, but there were still a few lingering ones to enjoy.

There are so many different and interesting plants to enjoy throughout, it would take days to fully take them all in.

With not much time left, I made my way up towards the main house again, to spend my last few minutes in the Governor's Garden. I always love a formal garden, and this one had some of my most favourite features - boxwood hedging, climbing vines and espaliered fruit tress.

The plaque outside the gardens reads "From 1710 to 1749, Annapolis Royal was the capitol of Nova Scotia and the home of the governor of the colony. This small formal garden is based on a description of the original governor's garden in 1748. It is constructed in a formal colonial style, with straight, raised geometric beds planted with herbs, flowers and fruit tress that would have grown in the eighteenth century."

Because the Governor's Garden is near the exit, I was about to make my way back as it was nearing five o'clock. I couldn't help but notice, beyond the water feature that sits at one end of this part of the garden, hidden by taller hedges, there were a couple of small stone steps leading higher up. With a couple minutes to spare, I couldn't resist wandering up to see what was above and I'm so glad my curiosity got the better of me. Here is where I found the Knot Garden and a sweet patio to the cafe.

The lavender was also just about to bloom.

After a few minutes here, I pulled out my map, hoping to find the quickest way to the exit and instead, saw I had missed the water gardens entirely. I hurried down, as they weren't far, and spent a few minutes listening to the water trickle from the upper pond, into the middle, and then down to the lower. The cupped blooms of the water lilies and the saucer-like lily pads were beautiful. It's such a tranquil place in the gardens and had I have brought my book, I would have sat and read there.

Surrounding these, there were quite a few beds with Hydrangeas that are still a couple weeks away from blooming. Later this summer, I will have to return, and bring the boys with me. We will likely do the historic site in town, Fort Anne, while there.

If you are somewhat local, I encourage you to go and view them for yourself. I imagine they're always changing as the seasons unfold.