Saturday, January 29, 2011

Crazy Week...with a little Zen at the end.

It has been a bit of a crazy week.On Wednesday we had a pipe burst in the main floor flat AND the lights on our large kitchen fish tank (pictured here) stopped working. Both issues were quite urgent since it was a radiator pipe that broke we had to shut of the heat. We are lucky in that we have lovely tenants and the issue was quickly resolved. We will need to do more on it but not until the spring/summer. The fish tank on the other hand took a lot more work to solve the problem. It was a race against time since the corals need light to live and can only live 2-3 days without it...we had the lights up and running again by the end of the day Thursday, before any serious damage could be done. Lastly, we are waging a war against the mice in our house. We typically get one 2 two every winter but this winter has been especially bad. We have caught 5 so far (2 adults and 3 babies), we think there may be more but aren't sure...and since my allergies are out of control, this weekend will be a deep clean of the whole apartment...closets and everything. This will help to control my allergies but also let us know if they are still around. In the mean time I will leave you with some photos of the flowers that bring me joy everyday, even among all this chaos!
This is bloom from a piece of my great-grandmother's Christmas cactus. I have had it now for 2 years and this is the first time it has bloomed. We had the original in our house for a long time when I was younger but I had forgotten the colour of the flowers.
My friend gave me her 2 orchids before moving back to Venezuela. One has started blooming and reminds me of her every day. I am looking forward to when the other one blooms. Two others from my collection are also blooming and are so bright and cheery, you cannot help but smile.
I love the delicate dots on the one above and the small stripes on the ones below!Have a great weekend! Now I am off to clean!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sewing Project on the Fly

Yesterday I woke up to find a dead car battery so while I was waiting for CAA to show up to boost me I decided to start a sewing project I have had in my mind for a LONG time. I decided to make a tea cozy!

  1. To fit over my tea pot and new french press!
  2. Made out of material I had at home.
  3. My own simple pattern involved!
Since this was my SECOND sewing project since home ec. class in grade 7 and my first one was little pouches for some homemade lotion 2 years ago, I was prepared to make mistakes so that I could learn along the way but promised to love my cozy no matter what!
Here it is over my french press.
I used an old grey fleece sweater that Diego no longer wore. I doubled it up for extra warmth. I also found an old t-shirt that a friend gave me that was no longer wearable but had a cool fish on it. Cut out the fish and some strips for trim, added some funky stitching and VOILA! Two hours later, a slightly deformed but functional tea cozy!
I am definitely proud of my cozy. It satisfied all of my criteria, works great, has great character and doesn't look half bad for a free hand job! Best of all, it was reused material and the fish reminds me of my Irish friend Corinne! What better item to make with her fish, she drinks a lot of tea and keeps me stocked with an Irish supply!!

Next project: Handkerchiefs with the leftover fleece. I hear it is the best material for noses and will reduce my paper consumption even more!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Winter Sunrise

This was the scene over Halifax on Monday at 7:30 am. We haven't seen the sun since and are getting ready for another round of snow tonight.
A feathered friend also stopped in around 9 am. This is not a sight we see everyday, seagulls don't usually hang around our neighbourhood. Doesn't he look just a little mischievous...About half an hour later I caught him on the deck....
Now the crows have also discovered my compost stash...They must be getting really hungry and a little mess is the least of my worries if they can get a little morsel out of it! I guess I will have to clean it up before the snow flies!

Monday, January 17, 2011

New Blog!

My Mom made her very own blog! Click on the photo and take a peak. It might interest some of you! She is an amazing photographer, birder/naturalist and sky enthusiast!

Friday, January 14, 2011


We have had a LOT of crazy weather this year. The amount of flooding and heavy snowfalls in other part of Atlantic Canada has been unprecedented. We have been fortunate as Halifax has come out mostly unscathed. We have had a greenish winter so far but finally had a couple of significant snowfalls this week and I thought I would share some photos of our walk in the snow on Sunday.
We have an old cemetery close by and it is a quiet refuge from the city. I go there often for a walk, run or just to admire the old stones and read about those who lived here before us. Joseph Howe and Alexander Keith are buried here!

Finally, I saw this little guy in the park...don't you just love his hair!
Typical of Nova Scotia, it has warmed up and rained a little. So a lot of the snowmen around the city are looking sad and shapeless. It may not last much longer, so I am glad we got to enjoy it!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

CSN Product Review: French Press

It has been almost 2 months since I posted that I would be doing a product review for CSN stores and I am just getting around to posting my review. As you know from the title I got a french press. Not just any french press...the Bodum Columbia 12 cup Double Wall Stainless Steel French Press!
Isn't it gorgeous!?!
We used to have an insulated coffee pot for our drip coffee maker BUT it died (as well as a few other before it!) after only 2 years! So in the interest of producing less garbage and drinking better coffee we switched to a more permanent solution. We bit the bullet and invested in a large insulated french press because we both LOVE coffee in the morning but I always get up quite a bit earlier than Diego so in a normal glass press the coffee is cold by the time he gets to it or he needs to make a fresh batch because I drank the 500 ml!
I love that it is stainless steel. The shape is classy but can go with any decor. The handle is solid and ergonomic making it a pleasure to pour. Most presses have the metal coil on the plunger so to avoid the metal on metal, Bodum replaced it with a silicone ring. Silicone is inert so it doesn't leach any toxins into your coffee nor does it leave a flavour. The only part of the press that is plastic is the part of the lid that has the pouring screen. I would have preferred stainless but unfortunately all presses that I have seen are like this and I did look at many before choosing this one! Luckily, your coffee only comes into contact with it very briefly when you pour.
I love the spout. Our old french press had this tiny triangular indent (like most) that almost always ended up pouring out the sides and onto the counter. It always made a mess. This spout is large and rounded allowing it to pour so smoothly and I have yet to spill a drop!
It does keep the coffee warm for 2-3 hours if you filled it to the top to start with and about half the time if you fill it half way. I am sure if you warmed up the carafe before you put the coffee in, it would stay warm longer but I don't want to use more water and electricity than necessary. However, there are some pros and cons with the lid. The good thing about the lid the strainer for any stray grinds but also when you turn the lid it blocks the opening preventing the steam from escaping, helping to keep it warm. Not all presses have this feature. In my books this was essential for keeping the coffee warm. However, the lid itself is not at all insulated! So the rising heat is lost via conduction through the metal cooling rather than keeping the coffee warm. That also means that the lid gets very hot to the touch making it difficult to turn the lid to the strainer position to be able to pour your cuppa joe. You won't burn yourself but you can't always turn the lid in one swoop because it is quite hot. That being said, I love having had steaming coffee pour out of the press 2 hours after I made it, which is more than I can say the old insulated drip coffee carafe could do!
Holiday Coffee!
Overall, I am very happy with my new press and would recommend it to anyone in the market for one. Like most things there is room for improvement but the issues themselves are in my opinion very minor. The hot lid is easily overcome by using a tea towel and I am very satisfied with the amount of time it keeps our coffee warm. Also, all the parts are dishwasher safe, which was an important deciding factor now that we have a new dishwasher! We have been using our new press everyday since we got it and I would not go back to any other method of making coffee...except maybe the occasional espresso. This a great daily workhorse and looks great on the table for a dinner party.

The last thing I wanted to comment on was the service I received from CSN stores. I ordered my press in mid-November and I expected ~2 weeks delivery since it was coming from the USA via ground shipping. After 2.5 weeks and no press, I was contemplating calling CSN when I received an email and a phone call from them informing me that UPS had lost the package and asking if I wanted a replacement or a refund. I immediately responded that I would like another one sent but that I needed it to get to me before I left for holidays on Dec 22. The press was sent out the same day and a week later, 5 days before the 22nd, I received my press. The customer service was amazing! I was astonished that they contacted me before I contacted them and they did everything to accommodate my deadline. They were prompt, pleasant and polite. I would definitely buy again from CSN stores and recommend them to anyone looking for something they cannot find locally.

If you have any questions, leave a comment and I will get back to you!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!!
Image from:

Ok, so maybe this wasn't take last night but it sure is a beautiful display on the MacDonald Bridge in Halifax!

Wishing you all love, health and happiness in 2011!