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A Local's Guide to Nova Scotia | Part Three

Monday, July 21


I’m back with the third and final installment of our Local’s Guide to Nova Scotia (Part One and Part Two). This time, I thought we’d focus on my second favourite thing to do while travelling: SHOPPING. Of course, Nova Scotia has plenty of the stores you’ll find elsewhere (except sadly… no Anthropologie… DO YOU HEAR ME ANTHRO?!) but after polling a bunch of friends, we came up with this list of the local, independent stores that we love to frequent. Without further ado…


CLOTHING:
For the ladies, there are tons of really cute boutiques to check out in and around downtown: Biscuit General Store, Sweet Pea Boutique, Wildflower, J&R Grimsmo, Twisted Muse, and Envy, to name a few. If you’re in the mood for luxury goods, Foreign Affair & Mills are great places to hit. If you’ve got a luxury appetite and a not-so-luxury bank account, Crimson & Clover is a fantastic little consignment shop right downtown.

For the gents, there isn't quite as much selection – but RCHMND and Duggers serve up some classic dapper style.

SHOES:
John David and Kick Ass Shoes (inside of the upper portion of Mills) have tons of lust-inducing footwear to choose from – and if you’re looking for a sale – check out the Mahone Bay Trading Company, specifically the one in Mahone Bay. There’s a little shop in downtown Halifax as well, but the one in Mahone Bay has a huge room full of clearance shoes – I found my winter boots there last year! If you’re in and around Mahone Bay, it’s definitely worth checking out.


JEWELRY:
There’s something for every budget. If you’re feeling flush, check out the stunning and unique pieces at Fireworks Gallery. If you’re on the other end of the spectrum, The Black Market has you covered. They have tons of affordable and unique earrings, bangles, nose studs, and rings (plus scarves and other trinkets). It’s my preferred stop for nose studs and a great place to find a gift for a girlfriend. But you may want to steer clear if you’re scent-sensitive. Incense GALORE. If you’re looking for something more middle of the road – The Vault has some cool pieces. And if you’re at the Market – there are usually lots of independent artists showcasing their pieces!


PAPER GOODS, ART, & OTHER AWESOMENESS:
I’m a paper fiend and it’s well known that my happy places are Inkwell Boutique and Duly Noted. Duly Noted has tons of cards, stationery, gift wrap, calligraphy pens, and lots of adorable miscellany. Inkwell is filled largely with pieces by local (or local-ish) artists and others from across the globe. In addition to paper goods, you can find art, dish towels, tote bags, even temporary tattoos. I’m a huge fan. Kept Shop in Dartmouth is relatively new on the scene but has an awesome mix of paper goods/art, home d├ęcor, and much more. You’ll need to take the ferry across the harbour to get there but it’s walkable from the terminal. You could even turn it into a nice little morning and hit up Two If By Sea (mentioned last week) for coffee & a croissant on your way. Argyle Fine Art in downtown Halifax has a constantly rotating selection of work - often something interesting and kind-of kooky, like oh, you know, throw pillows printed with the faces of our local news anchors... If you pop in, make sure you also take a look downstairs, which overflows with even more art. If you’re visiting Lunenburg, make sure you make time to pop into Dots & Loops. Art, accessories, paper goods, wood crafts, and so much more. Basically all the awesome hipster crafts that you wish you knew how to make in one store. An excellent place to pick up a locally-made gift for someone.


HOME GOODS:
My crack, basically. One of my faves is Halifax’s favourite high-end furniture store, Attica. Although a couch may be too large to bring home as a souvenir, definitely take a stroll through the store if you’re a design addict like me. Bellissimo on Agricola Street is another fave, with all kinds of little accessories that you actually could take home with you. Thornbloom is another Halifax staple that specializes in bedding, dishware, and the occasional furnishing. If you’re here around Christmas – they have an incredible selection of stunning and delicate ornaments. A recent addition to the Halifax design scene is KEW on Granville. Although it also might be difficult to take a modern coffee table home as a souvenir, KEW also has some very cool pieces by local artists, including a series of modern and fun Halifax dishtowels (the ink is made from seaweed!) and coasters. This is also the home of the Downtown Halifax poster I’ve been coveting for months… one of these days; I’ll finally pick one up!

If you’re looking for something vintage, there are a few spots you won’t want to miss. Urban Cottage is right downtown, just a few doors over from KEW. You could find pretty much anything in that store… it’s full to the brim! Likewise, Finer Things Antiques on Agricola Street has all kinds of treasures to sort through. If you’re lucky, the owner’s French bulldog might even be there to greet you. If you’re a mid-century fan, Abode Boutique downtown has some gorgeous furniture (and another friendly and adorable dog). Lastly, although not always antique – Rusty Hinges in the Hydrostone has all kinds of distressed wood furniture. It’s also where we found our liquor locker!


KIDS:
I mentioned Woozles a few weeks ago but it’s worth mentioning again if you have kids. It’s Canada’s oldest children’s bookstore and a very cool spot. HaliKids has lots of fun games and kid paraphernalia. The Discovery Centre gift shop has science projects and other neat hands-on stuff for kids. And Nurtured is a great place to pick something up for parents-to-be.
  
OTHER:
If you’re in Lunenburg, just a few doors down from Dots & Loops is Pentper General Shop. It’s the most finely curated collection of amazingness I’ve seen. And in my personal experience, it sends the men I know into a tailspin. They want EVERYTHING. If you like Best Made Co., you’ll love Pentper. Back in Halifax, eco-lovers should check out P’Lovers and I’ve heard that apparently outdoorsy people like The Trail Shop (I wouldn’t know…). And lastly, if you’re looking for something quintessentially Nova Scotian, check out Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia on Spring Garden Road. All kinds of pieces created exclusively by Atlantic Canadian artisans.

I feel exhausted just thinking about all of that shopping. If you need a replenishment break to get you through, be sure to check out my food & drink guide from last week for a great place to refuel! And if you’d like to disperse some actual cultural & touristy activities amongst your shopping, I’ve got a list of great things to do as well!

A Local's Guide to Nova Scotia | Part Two

Monday, July 14

As promised, I'm back with Part Two of our Guide to Nova Scotia. This time, I'm focusing on everyone's favourite part of vacation (or at least MY favourite part): food and drink. Now, I know Halifax in this respect way better than I know the rest of Nova Scotia, so I'm going to limit myself to our capital city. I hope you get a chance to check out some (or ALL) of these places when you visit!

Edna
Date Nights:
Edna. Amazing local, constantly changing menu. If the mushroom bruschetta is still on the menu when you go, it's a must order. Plus, Edna's design is gorgeous.
Agricola Street Brasserie. Unique menu. Awesome atmosphere.
Ristorante a Mano. Best pasta in the city, hands down. If you're a coffee fan, try the Affogato for dessert. Noisy & fun inside, relaxed patio outside.
Bistro Le Coq. Decadent french food and a stunning metal bar.
The Bicycle Thief. Great food, extensive wine/cocktail list, and the patio with possibly the best view in Halifax.
Chives. This restaurant has been a longtime favourite in Halifax. Super cozy atmosphere and delicious fare from chef Craig Flinn.

Ace Burger
Casual Drinks/Dinner with Friends:
Henry House. This is pretty much our favourite spot in the city and our local. It's a classic English pub with awesome food and a quality selection of beer. My go-to meal is the shepherd's pie with a pint of Granite Brewery's Ringwood (and sticky toffee pudding for dessert!). They have 4 different spaces - a super casual pub in the basement (where we usually end up), a nicer dining room on the main floor (where my parents like to eat), an awesome tiered patio outside, and an elegant (and fairly secretive) cocktail bar on the top floor - see below.
The Stubborn Goat. A gastropub with tons of appetizers and an extensive list of beers. Just make sure you take note of the size and price of your beer before you order! Some are huge (and expensive). It's a great place for sharing food, as dishes will come out when they're ready, rather than all at once.
Mother's Pizza. Although not downtown (it's in the north end), this relatively new pizza place is already well-loved. Plus, they have their own special Garrison brew on tap!
Ace Burger. Best burgers in the city. No contest. My favourite is the Deluxe. Ace is a burger place that's opened up inside two different dive bars - Gus' Pub in the north end and Bearly's downtown. They may not look like much but if you're a burger fan, don't let the atmosphere dissuade you. There's nowhere better.
Stayner's Wharf. I wondered whether to include this one or not... It's not somewhere most people seem to think of (even though it's got a prime location on the waterfront) but it's got a huuuuge patio and amazing reviews. I took some visiting friends here a few years ago because they had a last-minute craving for seafood and this was the only place we could still get a reso. EVERYONE was in love with their food - even those who didn't get seafood. Worth checking out.


The Old Triangle
Classic Maritime Pubs:
Of course, you have to check out one of our infamous pubs. Or more than one. Or all. A few favourites include The Old Triangle (maritime music galore), The Split Crow (first murder charge in Halifax happened here... in the 1700s), The Lower Deck (great patio), Durty Nelly's (popular with pretty much every demographic), and The Alehouse (open late & lots of fun). Also, we apparently have a formula for pub names.


The Foggy Goggle
Alternative Fare:
If you're vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free - check out EnVie, The Wooden Monkey, or The Foggy Goggle. Although most local restaurants offer a lot of gluten-free/veg options!


Indochine
Quick Lunch Spots:
Indochine. This is my favourite lunch spot in the city. Asian fusion, specializing in Vietnamese Banh Mi - although their Korean tacos are also insanely delicious. And well, so is everything else. My absolute favourite is the shrimp Banh Mi. It's a challenge not to get it everyday!
Habaneros Modern Taco Bar. Mexican food is hard to beat and Habaneros doesn't disappoint. Do yourself a favour and make sure you get the taco duo - that's a soft & hard shell taco in one. The pulled pork ones are my favourite.
Suzuki Sushi. Technically, you'll need to call ahead if you want to pick it up quickly for lunch - but this is our favourite sushi spot. It's right downtown, kinda hard to find (you have to wander down a little alley), but always delicious.
Pete's. I mentioned Pete's last week but it's worth repeating. It's a gourmet grocery store right downtown with a great lunch bar. You can get salad on-demand, a fresh sandwich, hearty soup (my go-to) and much more. They also have an awesome smoothie/juice bar - the tart cherry smoothie is my fave.
Seaport Market. I also mentioned the Market last week, but if you're looking for lunch on a weekend, there are TONS of options here. I'm partial to the chinese food from Cheelin (their Saturday noodles are insane) but there's something here for everyone.
Ciboulette. This one is entirely from the boyfriend - I haven't been, although I keep meaning to. It's a little sandwich shop on Barrington Street, owned by Chives (mentioned above) - so it must be good.


Nomad Gourment
Food Trucks:
Every summer a few more food trucks enter the scene and I couldn't be happier. You'll find them in and around downtown - often in front of the public library on Spring Garden Road or just outside Parade Square on Argyle Street. Their twitter profiles will update with their location each day. A few favourites are The Food Wolf (Get the K-Dog; not kidding), Halifax Press (Gourmet grilled cheese... yes, please), Bud the Spud (Classic french fries and a Halifax staple), Nomad Gourmet (Chicken & Waffles.), Tin Pan Alley (Specializing in frites with a whole array of toppings), and Cheese Gypsy (Which I've yet to try but have heard good things... and with a name like that, how could you go wrong?).


Argyle Street
Awesome Patios:
Henry House, The Lower Deck, Your Father's Moustache. And basically anywhere on Argyle Street. Argyle Street is the "entertainment district" and has tons of restaurants. If you're looking for a patio to enjoy on a hot afternoon - this is one of the best places in the city to be, by far.

Two If By Sea
Caffeine Fix:
Lion & Bright, Two If By Sea (go to the one in Dartmouth if you have time - you can take the ferry over and wander just a few blocks up), The Smiling Goat, Le French Fix, and Uncommon Grounds.

The Stubborn Goat
Beer. Delicious Beer:
Stillwell Beer Bar. A fave. All local (or local-ish) beers. 12 on tap. Every time a keg empties, the beer changes. Tons of fun and a very cool atmosphere. Tables are family style so you might even make some new friends. If you're hungry, try the diner burger or tokyo fries. And if you need a break from socializing, sneak down to the basement for a game of pinball.
The Stubborn Goat. Mentioned above but worth repeating when it comes to beer. They have an entire legal-size menu of beer options - as well as a bevy of wine selections. There's something for everyone.
Lion & Bright. Also mentioned above, and one of the boyfriend's (and my) favourite places in the city. You'd be equally at home with your laptop and a latte at 9am, your laptop and a beer at 4pm, or a group of friends and a collection of drinks at 9pm.

The bars above are awesome for their extensive selection of local craft beer, but being the beer-loving city we are - pretty much any pub will have something awesome on tap. It's hard to go wrong.

Obladee
Wine, Please:
Obladee is a favourite and super adorable inside. Ask your server what you should try - or go for a flight and try a bunch! The Bicycle Thief and The Stubborn Goat, mentioned above, are also pretty awesome in terms of their wine selection.


The Drawing Room
Champagne & Fancy Person Drinks:
The Drawing Room. The top floor of the Henry House. If you didn't know it was there, you wouldn't know it was there. By far, my favourite place in this city. I almost didn't want to include it for fear of it becoming more well-known. Perfect for a date or a special occasion. My favourite - if they have it - is Sun Through The Leaves Of The Poplar Trees. SO good but sometimes elusive. The boyfriend (and pretty much every other person I know) loves the Cat's Pyjamas.
Onyx. Recently moved to Argyle Street and home of an awesome and cozy (if REALLY dark) lounge. Their cocktail list is both impressive and delicious. We're headed here as part of a Bachelorette party this coming weekend and it's sure to impress.
The Bicycle Thief. They have an outdoor champagne bar in the summer. Just saying.
Field Guide. An adorable and TINY little spot in the North End with fantastic hand-crafted cocktails. If there's space - you should stop in.
The Middle Spoon. A dessert place right downtown, formerly home to winner of the best bartender in Canada. He's definitely left his mark on the drink list.

Macarons from Le French Fix

Sweet Tooth:
Layers. Best cupcakes ever. No arguing.
The Middle Spoon. Peanut. Butter. Pie.
Le French Fix. Do yourself a favour and have a macaron. Or seven.
Freak Lunchbox. If you're on the go and need a snack for the road, stock up any of the hundreds of different candies - some you haven't seen since childhood!
Sugah. Hand-paddled ice cream. Chocolate bars with unusual ingredients. Sugar coma.
Cows Ice Cream. A Maritime staple - PEI, specifically, but we can still enjoy it in NS ;)

Post-Bar Food:
Really, there's only one place worth mentioning... and I won't show a picture of it because these things don't need to see the light of day.

Pizza Corner. Halifax's most famous post-bar venue. It's really more of a line now, but it's a tiny block where you can grab pizza, street meat (a.k.a. shish kabobs), poutine, burrito, DONAIR (Donair is a Halifax delicacy. Other cities may say they have donair - but it's not a Halifax donair. Think shaved meat on a pita with onions, tomatoes, and an icing sugar-like sauce. Sounds disgusting, I KNOW - but I swear, you guys: IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.), and I guess if for some reason you don't get a donair (WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!), you could get a schwarma. Weirdo. (Funny story: A photographer for The Globe & Mail took a photo of 20-year-old me and two of my friends devouring post-bar pizza at the now-defunct King of Donair at Pizza Corner at 3am. That photo later went on to be a full page colour image in the country's most respected newspaper... which we only found out when my friend's mom mailed us a copy.  #AllClass)


I know that I didn't get everything in here, but these are some of our favourites. If you have somewhere else you think people should try - feel free to share it in the comments!

Click here for Part One of A Local's Guide to Nova Scotia (Things to Do & Places to Go).


I Never Want To Leave This Deck

Thursday, July 10

I'm popping in today with a little deck update! You may remember from this post that I had wanted to pick up a couple of chairs that were comfortable for lounging. The bistro set is great for having dinner but it's not ideal for sitting outside and reading on a sunny afternoon. Enter comfy chairs:


I found these beauties at HomeSense for an awesome price. They honestly don't look as comfortable as they are. I pretty much never want to get out of them.


After scoring the chairs, I checked out Target's seasonal section (which is on super clearance right now, if you're also looking for outdoor stuff) and found these adorable frond outdoor cushions and the outdoor ottoman - all for just over $40! Insane deals, right?


It also just happened that they were the perfect colour to go with the chairs and the existing deck decor. Don't you love when things just work out like that?


I still want to pick up a little stool or side table to go between the chairs to hold drinks, etc. I had initially thought that the ottoman could serve as both side table and footstool, but it's SO comfortable as a footstool that I don't think we'll actually ever use for a table.


So that's my little update! We're contemplating spray painting the bistro set... but I haven't figured out what colour might work. (Especially given that the seats will likely need to stay dark brown.)  I think I'm leaning toward matte black. Other suggestions?

A Local's Guide to Nova Scotia | Part One

Monday, July 7


There have been a few instances recently where people have asked what they should do, where they should go, and what they should eat while in Nova Scotia. As many of you know, I’m a very proud Maritimer. I feel insanely lucky to live in this beautiful province with all it has to offer, whether it’s the breathtaking views, amazing food, rich history and culture, or just a really friendly, relaxed vibe. That said, like any city, there are tons of businesses/tours/restaurants that cater to tourists but aren’t necessarily the best thing to do while you're here. Personally, when I visit somewhere, I kind of want to live like a local. Of course, I want to check out a few famous attractions but mostly, I want to eat where locals eat and do the things that locals like to do. I know I’m not alone in this.

On the long weekend, the boyfriend and I were road tripping to the south shore and we decided to come up with a list of what we would choose to do if we were visiting Halifax (and Nova Scotia, in general). I thought it might be fun to turn it into a little series – so I’ll be sharing a different component each week for the next few weeks, starting with where to go and what to do!

Things to do in Halifax:



Walk along the waterfront. Our gorgeous waterfront is right downtown – easy access from pretty much anywhere on peninsular Halifax. You can check out the harbour, go for a stroll, grab a bite to eat or a sweet treat. On summer nights, you’ll often find music along the way and tons of other people enjoying the weather. Just make sure to bring a sweater! Summer nights in Halifax are often breezy. (In fact, pack lots of layers – one of the “benefits” to being right on the ocean is highly variable weather.)
Alexander Keith’s Brewery Tour. Even if you decide against a brewery tour (19+ only, I believe), you must check out the brewery itself. It’s charming and it’s now home to a variety of businesses (including my yoga studio!), restaurants, and a weekend market, in addition to Keith’s tavern (the Red Stag), store, and brewery tour. I actually went on the tour for the first time last summer and it was highly entertaining. Think actors in costume (and full-on character), classic Maritime songs, an entertaining history of Keith’s and the brewery, and a pint or two to cap it all off.

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Citadel Hill. It’s our most iconic landmark and the centre of the city. You might notice that Halifax isn’t exactly on a grid… that’s a consequence of the sheer age of the city and the presence of a huge hill smack dab in the centre. It’s a pretty cool place for helping you understand a bit more of Halifax’s history. Plus, the views are spectacular. Just don't be alarmed when they fire the cannon at noon! 

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Seaport Market. If you’re in Halifax on a weekend, check out the Seaport Farmer's Market, right on the waterfront. There are tons of local vendors (some of which are there all week) selling fresh produce, local meat, flowers, tons of food and drink, and pieces by local artisans. Although the market itself is over 250 years old (!), the building where it's currently housed was built in 2010, and it’s a neat space. In addition to doing some of our grocery shopping, we love to go for breakfast on the weekend. If it’s a sunny day, take your food up to the roof and enjoy the incredible view of Halifax Harbour. (P.S. Our favourite coffee spot at the Market is Java Blend, on the upper level on the water side).


Tall Ship Tour. If you wander the waterfront, you’ll definitely spot our tall ships: the Silva and the Mar. (And the infamous Bluenose II, of course - which is currently unavailable due to rebuilds). They offer tours with music (and usually a bar), which is a great way to see the harbour and have a little fun.


Public Gardens. The Gardens are a few blocks up from the waterfront and kitty corner to Citadel Hill. They take up one square block and in the summer (the only time they’re open), you can find hundreds of different flowers (and a very noisy goose).  On nice days, you’ll find tons of locals enjoying lunch and soaking up the sunshine.  Pick up lunch from Pete’s (a local and well-loved Whole Foods-esque grocer, one block over on Dresden Row) to enjoy while you're there. If you're there on a weekend (or in June), there's a decent chance you'll spot a wedding party or prom kids taking photos. 



Point Pleasant Park. This park is a favourite for runners, bikers, and dog-walkers. It has beautiful views of the Harbour and Northwest Arm, lots of little trails to follow, and even a few ruins! In the summer, you can get tickets to Shakespeare by the Sea and check out a performance in the park.



Neptune Theatre. If you have time for a show, check what’s on at Neptune Theatre. There’s always something new and the theatre is right in the heart of the entertainment district (also known as Argyle street). There are lots of great restaurants within a 2-minute walk, so it makes dinner and a show pretty much the easiest thing ever.

If you’ve got kids, check out:

The Discovery Centre. A science-centre for kids. Tons of fun activities for kids of all ages (and adults too… I’ve accompanied my nephew on more than one occasion. SUPER fun.)

Harbour Hopper. This amphibious boat/vehicle thing takes you on a tour through downtown Halifax and then straight into the Harbour. Kinda neat.

Freak Lunchbox. The ultimate candy store. Your kids might pass out from excitement even before they pass out from the sugar high.

Woozles. The oldest children's bookstore in Canada and home to many of my fond childhood memories. If your kid likes to read (or you really want them to), check this place out for sure.

Things to do in Nova Scotia:


Peggy's Cove. If Citadel Hill is the most iconic landmark in Halifax, then Peggy's Cove is that for all of Nova Scotia. If you're choosing to vacation in Nova Scotia, chances are you've seen photos of the Peggy's Cove lighthouse before. It's nestled in a tiny little village, full of cute tourist shops, ice cream places, and a (surprisingly good, given it's the only one) restaurant. One of the things I love about Peggy's Cove is that it's stunning regardless of the weather. When it's misty and foggy, it feels almost otherworldly. And if you're lucky, there will even be a bagpiper playing! If you go (and you should), pack a sweater; it's usually quite windy - but the views are breathtaking. Just don't get too close to the edge! There's a reason it's called Peggy's Cove and it's not a pleasant one. 


Visit a classic Maritime town. There are so many quintessential adorable Maritime towns with candy-coloured houses, great seafood, and a gorgeous waterfront. Do yourself a favour and check out at least a few. Our favourites are Lunenburg (Check out The Salt Shaker for lunch or Fleur de Sel for dinner if you're feeling flush), Mahone Bay (If you're into shoes, you must pop into Mahone Bay Trading Company), and Chester (If you only do one thing, have dinner at Nicki's Inn. If you do two, take in a show at the Chester Playhouse afterward.)


Go to the beach. Obviously. Some of my favourites are along the South Shore, but if you're into surfing, Martinique and Lawrencetown on the Eastern shore are both stunning. The beach at Lawrencetown is rocky, though, so if someone plans to lay out while others surf, Martinique might be the better bet. It's really hard to go wrong when you live in a province that's 90% surrounded by water. Drive 30-45 minutes in almost any direction and you'll find yourself at the beach.


Cape Split. A not-too-difficult hike (I could even do it!) with an amazing pay-off. Situated on the Bay of Fundy, home of the highest tides in the world, the view is spectacular. Pack a little lunch and have a picnic when you get to the lookout. Just make sure you don't wear your favourite sneakers - they'll probably get muddy! If you're not into hiking, you should still check out Fundy - their website has lots of information on the other places you can see the tides.


Annapolis Valley. The Valley is home to much of Nova Scotia's farming and most of our vineyards. It's also often the warmest spot in NS! The university town of Wolfville (Acadia University) is especially adorable and a great spot to stop for lunch, visit a farm stand, or check out a u-pick. If you're a wine-lover, there are tons of wineries you can visit. They even do tours of multiple vineyards, which makes it easy for you to sample as much as possible ;) My favourite vineyards are Luckett's (owned by Pete of Pete's, mentioned above!) and Gaspereau. If you're visiting Luckett's, make sure you have room for lunch. Their patio overlooks the vineyard and the view is phenomenal. If you're there on the right day, Pete, himself, might even show you to your table. You may spot a red phone booth smack in the middle of the vineyard. Pop in and call a friend - anywhere in North America! If you're doing an overnighter, think about staying at one of Wolfville's charming B&B's or camping out at Blomidon Provincial Park.

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Cabot Trail. Although Cape Breton's Cabot Trail is gorgeous any time of year,  it's especially stunning in the fall when the leaves are changing. If you can time your trip to the Celtic Colours, you'll be in awe. If you pass through Baddeck, stop in and have some seafood chowder at the Lobster Galley, owned by my Aunt Jeannie! 

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Fortress Louisbourg. If you're a history buff in any sense, you should check out Louisbourg while you're in Cape Breton. It's a former Fortress where re-enacters  live as if it's still the 18th century. Very cool to experience and fun for kids too.


Kejimkujik National Park. For camping or hiking, Keji is a favourite spot. You can also canoe, fish, or even just hang at the beach. We went camping there last summer and I'm voluntarily returning this summer... so you know it must be fun ;)


Check out a microbrewery. In recent years, Nova Scotia has become a mecca of microbreweries, which has been wholeheartedly embraced by pretty much everyone. For most of these places, you can pop in, try a few samples, and pick up a growler or 6-pack for later. I think this is a complete list but I may have missed one, so let me know if that's the case! 
- Shelburne: Boxing Rock Brewing
- Liverpool: Hell Bay Brewing
- Guysborough: Rare Bird Craft Beer
- Wolfville: Sea Level Brewing
- Cape Breton: Big Spruce Brewing
- Tatamagouche: Tatamagouche Brewing

* In Halifax, there's also Rogues Roost and Rock Bottom, which are pubs with their own brew; as well as Granite Brewery, which is sold in many local pubs but doesn't have much of a storefront to visit.

So, those are my recos for visiting the Ocean Playground! I've also shared my fave places to eat/drink in Halifax here.

If you’re a local or you’ve visited before, let me know in the comments if there’s anywhere we missed that you think people must visit!

July Prospectus

Friday, July 4

The Shimmer  |  July Prospectus
What are you up to this month?

All Decked Out

Tuesday, June 24

I'm not really one for outdoor plants. I had a summer job at a garden centre in university - so you'd think I'd have a knack for it or something, but I really don't. Although, I can appreciate a beautiful garden, I have very little interest in taking care of one myself. But something about this long long LONG winter is making me crave time out on our back deck... and it was in ROUGH shape. Old rusty BBQ, random half empty planters with grass and/or chives growing all askew, and an assortment of miscellaneous house-related paraphernalia. Not exactly Better Homes & Gardens. So I've made it my mission to deck it out. We WILL enjoy the patio this summer. Here's how it looks so far:


I spotted these rugs at Target a few weeks ago and suspected one might be just what we need to brighten up the patio. (Can you tell I go to Target a lot?)


I also picked up a few awesome and modern little concrete planters to house the herbs and peppers we picked up. I also grabbed two planters of kale because I'm a kale maniac. Side note: Apparently, I am interested in outdoor plants if I can eat them. Not otherwise.


I also popped into Home Sense (I was on a patio SPREE) and found this super cute gold garden lantern and an indoor-outdoor LED candle (safety first, yo). It casts such a cozy glow when on at night and adds structural interest to all the greenery during the day.


I picked up these adorable little globe string lights after spotting ones my sister had bought. We strung them around the lower portion of the X that connects our deck with the upper deck and it makes for such an awesome bistro-patio feel. I want to spend all my time here. We were initially planning to string two sets of lights all the way up the X but these ones are SO bright already that we decided not to overdo it. I don't really want our deck to feel like an interrogation room.


Other deck plans include replacing the BBQ (the current one is 10 years old and has more than paid its dues), a fresh coat of paint, and finding a pair of small-scale comfy chairs for sitting out and reading. Although the current bistro set is great for dinner, it isn't comfortable enough for an afternoon of patio-ing. Adding chairs will require a little reshuffling of the layout, but I think it can be done! 


Side note: the colour of the rug mimics the front door of our house, which makes me SO happy even though it's not physically possible to see both at the same time and chances are - no one but me will EVER notice.

If you need me, I'll be on the deck.