’tis the season – thinking small

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It has been quite a while since I have written anything here but I really wanted to share some of my shops/spots I love or would like to check out myself this season because they seem lovely as can be!  There are far too many fabulous places to list so this is just a snippet.  Most are greater Hamilton area though others are a little further away but still very drivable!

There are plenty of coffee shops/cafes in that offer gift cards, coffee beans, tea, brewing equipment or treats you could grab along with a cup of something delicious on the go for that special host/hostess in your life from one of these wonderful places!

#HamOnt :

  • Cake and Loaf – Dundurn and the Farmer’s Market (baked goods are the market focus AND in December you can find packaged goodies at Limeridge Mall in their  holiday pop up!)
  • Relay Coffee Concession St and the Farmer’s Market
  • Durand Coffee – Corner of Charlton and Caroline
  • Emerald coffee Co. – Barton St E
  • The Cannon – Ottawa St N
  • Cafe Orange – King St E
  • Ward IV Coffee Bar – Main St E
  • Mulberry Coffee House – James St N
  • Donut Monster – Locke St S
  • The Mustard Seed Cafe – York Blvd

#HamOntDogFriendly :

  • My Dogs Cafe – Locke St S
  • Munchies Coffee Housed Barkery – Upper Gage Ave

#VeganHamOnt :

  • Democracy – Locke St S
  • The Hearty Hooligan – Ottawa St N

#Burlington :

  • Kelly’s Bake Shop (also Vegan!) – Brant St
  • The Sunshine Doughnut Company – Brock Ave

#Dundas :  Detour Cafe – King St W

#Simcoe :  Joy Cafe and Bakery – Robinson St

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Dining out is also a holiday favourite for many!  Taking those special to you, out for dinner or giving them a gift card so they can go after the seasonal rush is always welcomed.

#HamOnt :

  • Mattson & Co. – Locke St S
  • The West Town Bar & Grill – Locke St S
  • Hambrgr Hamilton – King William St + Ottawa St N
  • The Burnt Tongue – Cannon St E + Locke St S
  • Twin Elephants – Fennell Ave E
  • Patties Burger Bar – Rymal Rd E
  • The French – King William
  • Aberdeen Tavern – Aberdeen
  • Shorty’s Pizza – Cannon St E

#HamOntVegan : Boon Burger – Ottawa St N

#Burlington : Bitehaus Bistro – Guelph Line

#MountHope :  The Pigeon (Catering and Takeaway) – Homestead Drive (Near Hamilton Airport)

#Cayuga :  Twisted Lemon Restaurant – Norton St W

#Oakville :  West End Social – Lakeshore Rd W

#StoneyCreek : Rony’s – Gray Rd

You can find so many other awesome spots to eat on blogs like Hamilton Small Fries – hamiltonsmallfries.com, TasteHamOnt – tastehamont.com, Hungry in the Hammer –hungryinthehammer.blogspot.com

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Other yummy options for gift boxes/baskets and more!

#HamOnt :

  • Hello Baked Sugar Shop – Barton St E
  • Dundurn Market – Dundurn St
  • The Mustard Seed Co Op – York Blvd
  • East Hamilton Cheese Company – Ottawa St N

#Ancaster :

  • The Little Gourmet – Hatton Dr
  • Tajmahal Spices & Cheese – Wilson St E

#Dundas:

  • Beanermunky Chocolate – King St W
  • Picone Fine Food – King St W

#Waterdown :

  • Harrington Lane Farm Village Shop – Main St S
  • Beanermunky Chocolate – Main St S

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Perhaps you haven’t had a chance to make it out to one of the holiday markets this season but you really want a unique or made with love gift!  These fine places are either shops or makers you can purchase that special something from.

#HamOnt :

#Ancaster :  Black & Smith – Jerseyville Rd W

#Dundas :

  • The Made in Canada Store – King St W
  • The Handmade House – Foundry St

#Mississauga :  Whiskey Tan – whiskeytan.com

#Norfolk :  The Shop at Sweetwater – Cockshutt Rd

#PortColburne : Kayla Marie Ceramics – Clarence St

#StCatherines :  Shed Pottery – Pelham Rd

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There are great shopping options for that creative maker in your life too!

#HamOnt :

  • Needlework – James St N
  • Handknit Yarn – James St N
  • Hello Stella Fibres – hellostella.ca

#Ancaster :  Needle Emporium -Wilson St E

#Westdale :  Mixed Media Shop – King St W

#LocalPatternMakers :

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One of my favourite gifts to receive is a book.  Nothing beats flipping through actual pages of text!

#HamOnt – James Street Bookseller – James St S, J.H. Gordon Books – King St E, Epic Books – Locke St S

#Waterdown :  Pickwick Books – Dundas St E

#Westdale :  King W. Books – King St W

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Last but not least for the flower lover on your list why not check out the stunning work of House of Penney on Barton St E or order something spectacular from Thuya Boutique Online!

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I hope this was somewhat helpful and that you find the perfect gifts for those near and dear this holiday season!  I will share all of these fantastic places on Instagram and I will share other places I love that are further away over the next week!

Happy Shopping/Eating/Sipping!

JESSICA

 

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Summer update and Boosh!

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Well in to August I feel like the summer is just flying by.  Most of our days have been spent with a quiet park wander, collecting acorns, sticks and stones and visiting with my grandmother.  I am also in the midst of writing my Live Small Town Fall piece and starting to think of back to school and fall projects!

A lot of heavy feelings have surrounded me lately so I have been putting extra energy in to the ups of everything.  Making goodies for people here and there, slowing down to enjoy nature in all its beauty, snuggling my kiddos a little longer – and Wally dog too!  Even in the thick of it there is something to smile about.

I also had a FANTASTIC experience with Boosh recently – they make and sell natural lipstick here in Ontario, Canada!  If you haven’t heard of the brand look them up on Instagram or Facebook!  I purchased the lip plumping balm and it seemed to take a long while to get to me but I couldn’t even remember when I ordered it so I sent an email just to ask.  Sarah replied so quickly and pleasantly eager to help.  Canada post was just slow (typical 😉 ) and it arrived the next day!

I love this product SO much!  It has the nicest cool sensation and keeps my lips so soft.  I am a pretty plain person and wear minimal make up but this will be something I use often.  I also have my eye on Nova – a light colour I think will be perfect for just a little something when the mood strikes.

If you like lip colour check out the bold and subtle choices available and support a wonderful small business.

I will leave it at that, on a high note and with a reminder to be a kind human.  It really makes all the difference.

JESSICA

 

Whiskey Tan + Wally’s new collar

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Several months ago I contacted Whiskey Tan about their beautiful handmade collars!  The trouble was Wally is a restless spirit who really hates being tinkered with in anyway so buckling up a nice traditional collar wasn’t a great option.  Chantel, the wonderful human behind Whiskey Tan, told me to leave it with her and she would see what she could come up with.

Before I knew it I received a message that adding a quick release was completely do-able and she would be happy to make Wally a custom collar!  I was so excited!  All the details such as width, length, colour etc were sorted out and Wally’s collar was quickly in the works.

This past weekend I received the collar and was blown away with the exceptional craftsmanship.  Everything about it is just perfect!  The whole process was so easy and I am happy to have been able to support such a great local (greater HamOnt/TO area) business.  Another bonus is a portion of every sale goes to various animal shelters!

If you are on the market for a well made dog collar I suggest you check out the Whiskey Tan website to see what options are available!  And not to worry, if you aren’t local your collar can be shipped right to you so you don’t miss out.

 

Thanks for reading and happy shopping!

JESSICA

 

 

 

 

Back to the basics

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We are already in to 2018 and so far I have been rather productive!  I am not a traditional resolution maker – in the past I have just disappointed myself after failing 3wks in to a new year and who needs that?!  So I set a mental goal list instead.  One that is loose and flexible so it is almost always obtainable.

This year my goals involve making wearable items.  I intend to knit a pair of socks and knit or sew one wearable item a month.  These things can be started in the previous months, can be larger items like pants or smaller like a hat (which I need) but the idea is I will wind up with a solid collection of handmade items to choose from at the end of the year!

January has been full of handmade.  I completed my Sew House Seven toaster sweater with a gorgeous knit I bought at Needlework, and I knitted a pair of socks and a scarf out of gorgeous Canadian hand dyed yarn from Hello Stella.  Here’s hoping I can keep up the pace!

Aside from making I also intend to me more mindful of items I purchase.  Do I need it?  How was it manufactured?  Is the carbon footprint created in it’s process really worth it?  These are the questions I am asking myself.

As a single income family it is a challenge as things made in a more ethical and environmentally sensitive fashion also come with a larger but well justified price tag.  That is where making comes in handy and shopping second hand.  Thinking of each and every item as a carefully selected piece vs just another “thing”.

We are a wildly stuff driven society and I have become accutely aware of this issue as a consumer.  When the kids were babies I was completely caught up in the “oh I need that” realm of baby world but ultimately we used maybe an eighth of what we had.  And we were broke with a bunch of useless stuff.

Having school age children can make things a little harder.  They see what their friends have and it makes you feel like they should have them too.  I am guilty of this.  So when I am out and about I might grab that package of miniature whatever’s the kids might like but I am learning to put it back more often than not.  It isn’t always easy but I remind myself that it isn’t this “stuff” they will remember anyhow.  It is the moments.  The card games.  The late night movies.  Those are the things I really remember from my own childhood and I know it’s what my children will reflect on when they too are grown.

Writing is something I also intend to make more time for.  I have a sweet project in the works with a dear friend and have already submitted my Spring 2018 article for Live Small Town Magazine!  I look forward to seeing where my written works lead me in the year ahead.

Lets not forget about nature!  Getting outdoors amongst the trees, chirping birds, beautiful landscape and enjoying the peaceful solitude.  I intend to turn to nature more this year for inspiration, it has a lot to offer and is so good for the soul.

Making things, mindful consumption, more writing and getting back to nature is a great way to summarize my 2018 vision and so far I’m off to a great start!

I hope January is treating you well!

JESSICA

 

 

November Hustle

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How did we get here?!  November already!  October was full of fall activities – pumpkin walk at the RBG and picking the perfect pumpkins to carve at this sweet little pumpkin patch were our favourites… well next to Halloween of course!  The kids loved dressing up and trekking house to house to collect treats.

This month making madness begins as I knit, crochet, sew and plan the perfect gifts for the people around me!  I’m hoping to involve Lilah and Max more in the process of spreading joy this year.  They both love to create and share as much as I do so I’m sure it will be a lot of fun for them!

Added in to the mix of my usual creating and mom life is planning a collaborative project with one of my dearest friends.  Since high school we imagined working side by side at some point so this is extra exciting.  It’s basically a dream come true for me and I can’t wait to watch it all unfold!

I also recently submitted my section for the Live Small Town Magazine’s Winter issue so stay tuned for that!

Lots of things going on my way this month, if you follow my instagram you will see bits and pieces as I go.

I hope that November treats you well!

JESSICA

 

 

 

CSA love + Matz Fruit Barn

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As some of you know I have been participating in Matchbox Garden’s CSA for a few years now.  I love the weekly drive out to Caledonia and throughout the summer the kids and I stop and wander along the river enjoying the scenery before we pick up our share.

The last two years Hanna has offered some bonus add ons such as Stasis Preserves, Lovell Spring’s Trout and Matz Fruit Barn (located in Port Dover this is a sweet little shop with a whole lot to offer).  As much as I would love to support ALL of them, I chose to add Matz Fruit Barn to our veggie share knowing the fruit would be devoured by us all!

The season started out with the usual rhubarb and strawberries and as the fruits cycled through we have had such a wide variety – from Gooseberries and raspberries to peaches and coronation grapes (a solid fave of mine) – there is always something for everyone!

Matchbox Garden experienced winter squash crop loss due to flooding in the spring so Matz will be providing it for the CSA shares!  So don’t be fooled by the name, there are loads of veggies available too!  The butternut squash from my share this week was huge and is about to become a great big batch of soup for dinner tonight and freezing for later!

One thing I really love about local farmers is how they work with one another when things like crop failure occur.  Because every year it happens on some level, after all we cannot control mother nature and she can be a finicky gal 😉 .

We are 3/4 of the way through the 2017 CSA season and I look forward to seeing what the last leg of our produce filled adventure sends our way!

If CSAs aren’t your thing I encourage you to check out Matz Fruit Barn directly, it is so important we support our local farms for a multitude of reasons and this is a gem among them!

Enjoy this lovely fall day!

cbde7-jessica

 

 

 

 

 

 

School Days + New Routine

FullSizeRender 22And just like that September is in full swing and fall routines have begun.  As much as I appreciate the consistency that comes with school days I would be lying if I said I am not missing the tiny voices -that drove me batty just last week 😉 – calling me repeatedly.  This year is especially strange since it’s the first time in over 6yrs I haven’t had a small child at my side day in and day out. I have already found myself asking the dog questions he cannot answer and pointing out adorable critters on our walks.  …Because my dog , Wally, finds humour in things like squirrels chasing each other through the trees as much as small children 😉 ….  Well he does show interest but that is just because he would love to pursue them on an instinctual level.

August seemed to fly by this year and the first day of school kind of snuck up on me.  One day we were planning our next adventure and the next we were waiting for the school bus!  Sending my son Max on the bus for his first day was REALLY hard.  He is still 3 and very small for his age.  The bus steps are his equivalent to climbing the escarpment for the rest of us.  But he did it and thankfully he didn’t look back because than he likely would have seen the tears in my eyes.

We are all fairing well though now that things are picking up and becoming more familiar to us all.  Max is finding JK a bit overwhelming so we are sending him part time for now with the support of his educators.  Making the transition a smooth and pleasant one for us all is our goal!

My daughter Lilah loves grade 1 so far though finds sitting a desk uncomfortable – because it is!  I think it’s awfully hard to concentrate when you’re sitting on something that feels like concrete but what do I know 😉 .  She loves the independence that comes with being in a primary grade and has made some new friends.

As  for me, I am regrouping right now and focusing on re-organizing all the things in the house – toys, books, clothes – pretty much everything I couldn’t do easily with the kids around.  My “to make” list keeps growing and with Christmas (yes I know it’s early) in the near future I have plenty to pass the childfree moments I now have.

The first week has now passed and we are all feeling thankful for the weekend to recharge.  Before we know it we will be in to a nice groove and I think we are off to a good start!

Happy back to school!

cbde7-jessica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer eats year round

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How is it almost September?  I seriously have no idea how this happened!  Well I do but you know what I mean.  With late summer comes some serious food storage business here, though this year I cut back on what I am saving based on last years experimentation.

I started in July with Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries – all of these I washed, flash froze and than popped in to freezer containers for use in smoothies and baked goods all winter long!

Corn and green beans were next on the list and those I froze as well.  Both of these I blanch which is a bit of a pain 😉 but really easy.  I prefer to use frozen kernels of corn in the winter vs cobs so I cut the corn off before blanching.  This also saves a lot of space in the freezer because there are no bulky cobs to accommodate.  Half of the green beans I cut to make things easier when it comes to soups and such.

*Not everyone blanches these things but I do, it helps preserve both the flavour and colour by stopping the enzymes in their tracks!  Do your research to see what is best and what meets food safety guidelines*

The last item I will be freezing is peppers, I’m expecting them soon!  They are really easy to store.  I just wash and cut them up in to desired sizes, toss them in to freezer containers and they are ready to add to chilis, soups, stews etc.  Last year was the first year I did this – Natalie and Stam Farms recommended it! – and I used them up rather quick it worked so well!

The only food I bothered canning this year was tomatoes!  33 jars of them to be exact.  I like to keep a large amount on hand because they are so versatile.  I didn’t add any herbs to them, I will add herbs I have dried from my garden and garlic I have saved from local farmers as needed.

As for where these foods I have stored came from?  All wonderful local places of course!  Most organic but not all – sometimes the budget just cannot reach an additional $30 for a bushel of something.  And this year things like tomatoes have really suffered thanks to late blight which also claimed the lives of all my plants so naturally the cost is going to be higher.

But for the most part the organic items I have gotten my hands on – with a little help from my friend Krista at Harrington Lane Farms 😉 – have been the same or better priced than the conventional bulk items.  Like the beans I just did.  Best beans ever.  SO GOOD!  And they were from a co-operative type farm system Guelph way.

I’m so happy that much of my summer favourites will be enjoyed by my family through much of winter.  It’s a true labour of love but as someone who believes strongly in supporting our local food growers I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way!

Happy Monday!

cbde7-jessica