posts filed under the 'family' category :
December 9th, 2011

Christmas, Christmas time is here…

Oh Happy Day! I loves me some Christmas!

Jeff and I went and found our tree on Sunday, and started our first Christmas tradition since arriving back in NS! We found the perfect u-pick/u-cut farm a few communities over, and made a day out of driving through the coastal country-side on our way there. On the way home we stopped in the beautiful town of Chester, where we had a warm dinner and great beers in Nova Scotia’s oldest rural pub, The Fo’c’sle Tavern.

jeff and vikki's tree hunttree loveManly manfo c'sleYou may recall me bragging in the past about my supurb Christmas Tree  pickin’ skills. Actually, words weren’t spoken in the past, but isn’t a photo worth a thousand words? Well, this year I’m saying it: I pick a mean Christmas Tree!

Tree 2011We’re calling it a Chew-Humphrey Hybrid. A Humphrey Tree is historically known as one that is almost as fat around as it is tall. Mr. Chew happens to come from a home where the perfect “A” shaped tree is favored. I think we found a nice middle ground. :)

Our star from trees of years past has never been my favorite thing, and seeing as I come from a family where there is much love and tradition surrounding the Christmas Tree Star, I just knew I had to create something that could stay with us for years to come that would compliment our own tradition and style. So…..

christmas starI made it myself: you like??? :) Well, I glued lights to a pre-made grape-vine star, but it is just perfect for what is going to be the best country-coastal tree you ever did see!

And isn’t it truly a Christmas home once you have your lights on the tree? There is nothing like sitting in the living room with all lights off except a glowing Christmas Tree. I’m especially thrilled that we get to show off our tree in our big picture window: you can literally see it when you come around the bend up the road, and it gives me the feeling that I am truly coming home to OUR home. *sigh*

lit treeMerry Christmas Everyone! I hope your holiday season is starting off as happily as ours is!

Stay tuned for complete tree decorating; I’m making some fun changes this year! :) xo

***oh my, just realize it’s “Christmas, Christmas time is NEAR”, not here… which in the blog post’s case is actually more appropriate!

September 19th, 2011

HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY TO BUOY BIRD!!!

Holy smokes, it’s been a whole year. Happy Birthday, Baby Blog! Where did the last year go? For a year old blog, you’re not doing too bad. We’re still taking baby steps, but you’ve provided me (and hopefully others) with lots of joy and inspiration.

Upon reflection, I wish I had been able to give more to you in your first year. Seeing as your sustenance is content on my house and home projects, and seeing as modifications to said house/home came to a bit of a stall over the past 9 months or so, I have had the guilt of not keeping you properly updated and full.

However, all that is about to change. For your first birthday, Baby Blog, and to all your followers, I have a surprise for you:

we bought a house!

That’s right!!! We have bought our first ever home! Internet, get ready for some mad, mad content!

dining room collagedining room view

Jeff and I decided last fall that this past year would be our last in Toronto. Since day one we always knew we would move back to the east coast to be close to family, NS friends, and our roots. We have spent the past year saving, hunting, and imagining the possibilities of being first time home owners, and now those possibilities are becoming realities.

kitchen collage

Let it be known: buying a house is hard, HARD work! Especially when you are buying a house in a different province. And especially when you are buying a country home. Well inspection, water inspection, septic inspection, house inspection… luckily Jeff and I were prepared to jump through all of these hoops having been raised on quasi-country plumbing, and due to our crazy determination to find our perfect country starter home.

living roomliving room collageden

We have bought a house on the ocean, 20 minutes outside the city of Halifax in a place called Bayside. We call it Heaven. A small two bedroom bungalow, with loads of yard and a view that is TO DIE FOR, we are ready to settle in and see what this homeownership thing is all about.

bedroom collage

In the coming months you can anticipate many, many, MANY projects, renos, updates, and, I’m sure, funny little surprises. Isn’t that part of the fun of buying an old house by the ocean: coming across unique finds and challenges? Little house by the ocean: we’re ready for ya!

bathroom collage

I thought the year anniversary of Buoy Bird’s launch was a perfect time to tell you, the world, about “the biggest purchase of our lives”. This home will be so intrinsically tied to Buoy Bird that I don’t think I’ll have any choice but to be blogging much, much more. Of course there will be plenty to do whilst settling in (like, I don’t know, making money to pay for said biggest purchase), but as soon as I get rolling on projects, I will be sure to share them with you, my faithful followers. I will likely take some of the blogging pressure off by limiting my copy and upping my photo-sharing, just so I can keep you all up to date and maybe finally turn Buoy Bird into the blog I always wanted her to be: one full of projects, heavy home renos and decor, lots of inspiration, and info about building a home that we love.

outside collageoutside

Jeff and I both feel so blessed to be making this move at this point in our lives. It truly could not have been done without the support of our families. Thank you to both Mamas and both Daddios: we are so grateful for all that you have given us and taught us. We will never forget this, and we are indebted to you forever. Plans are already in motion for construction of the Humphrey-Chew retirement cottage-by-the-sea on the backside of the property. ;)

the view

google mapgoogle map closeup

And as for all other family and friends, thank you for your love and support. The past 6 years in Toronto have helped us to learn that home truly is where the heart is, and our hearts are wherever our friends and families gather. We hope to fill our new home with friends and family, laughter, food, inspiration, and love. You are always, always welcome in our home.

So, Buoy Bird and friends, this is our gift to you and to ourselves. A beautiful house that we will build into a home. I can’t wait to share it all with you!

If you’d like to check out a 3D rendering that I’ve put together of the house, click here. It’s been temporarily decorated on the rendering to some degree, but I’m sure things will be moved around again and again. And if you would like to check out my Pinterest inspiration board (holy crap, I *heart* Pinterest!), click here. Seaside cottage, here we come!

NOTE: All furnishings in the above photos are NOT OURS, but that of the previous owners. Though if they want to leave us their piano, we’d be ever so grateful ;)

March 24th, 2011

for baby Alex

Hey gang! I’m very pooped after a long work day, but I just had to come on and share some more big news: I am officially now an aunt six times over, welcoming the new addition to our clan, Baby Alexander Francis MacNeil! A HUGE congrats to my sister Ally and brother-in-law Dave, and to two eager big sisters, Heather and Julia! What a beautiful family, made all the more beautiful by a new baby boy! baby boy macneil

March 15th, 2011

my mother’s daughter

Jeff bought a delicious loaf of homemade bread from the Nova, and nothing brings me back to my mother’s kitchen more than bread, butter, and molasses. bread and molassesMakes me feel warm and cozy, just like you Mama. Love you! xo

March 8th, 2011

happy pancake day!

Did you guys celebrate Pancake Day when you were kids? As a non-parent, I always wonder if they still do this in schools, and if parents still give this little breakfast-for-supper treat to their kids on the day before Ash Wednesday.

Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent). Supposedly Pancake Tuesday was started because it was a way for families to use up all the dairy, eggs, and sweets in the house before abstaining from rich foods throughout Lent. Although I was raised in a Catholic home, I found more fun than religion in Pancake Day (though I do remember eating a lot of fish on Fridays). Not only would we get a longer lunch to enjoy pancakes in the cafeteria at school, but my family was all about making a special, homemade batch of “Nannie’s Pancakes” on the electric griddle for supper on Pancake Tuesday.nannies pancakes

Nannie’s Pancakes are another family specialty. My cousin Adam actually reminded me that today is Shrove Tuesday, and although for some reason we have differing versions of Nannie’s Pancakes (yes, it’s the same Nannie), we both end up with delicious, dense, tea biscuit-like treats, which are equally good for dining on or just snacking on cold the next day.keep em warm

Here’s the recipe:pancake recipe

Ta-ha! Just kidding! I won’t pull another Peanut Butter Ball cop out on you! Here’s the (legible) recipe:

Nanny Humphrey’s Pancakes

  • 1 cup of “sour” milk (to sour milk, add 1 tbsp of white vinegar to the milk and let stand for 10 minutes)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/4 of salt
  • 1 tbsp of vegetable oil

Beat your egg, and add your milk and sugar. Premix your other dry ingredients in another bowl, and then add your dry ingredients to your egg, milk, and sugar. Stir in your oil, mixing well, but DO NOT beat the batter. Heat a frying pan or electric griddle on low heat, greasing the pan. Drop your pancake batter by tablespoons on to your pan. You will want to use a low heat the whole time as these pancakes are much more dense than regular pancakes, and will need the extra time to cook through.pancake snack

And there you have it! Sweet, dense pancakes! Like I said, they are different from any ordinary pancake, so feel free to get creative with them. Eat them with jam, cut them in half and spread with butter like a biscuit, or do like Jeff and I did, and tear them apart with your hands, dipping them in a side of maple syrup! Mmm-mmm!

Do you have a special family pancake recipe? Feel free to share it in the comments; we LOVE trying new things! Happy Pancake Day everyone!

UPDATE! So it turns out this recipe is actually my DAD’S nannie’s, making it my great-nannie’s recipe! Old School! My dad use to love going to “Nannie’s” for his pancake treat. Sweetest. Thing. Ever.

February 11th, 2011

a gift of love

Day Two of our Valentine’s inspired posts! While putting together inspiration and color stories, I was drawn to some of my personal adornments and doo-dads. Placing them on the ballerina painting was a fluke: that was where they landed when I was tidying up the table for another shot, and that is where they stayed. The fact that they were all mostly gifts was also a fluke.new jewels

The painting was given to me by a lovely lady by the name of Susan. Susan and her husband’s home in Cape Breton is covered in beautiful, eclectic art, and when I mentioned that I loved this ballerina that hung in her own art studio, she promptly removed it from the wall, put it in my hands, and insisted that I take it. So amazing :) So thank you Susan; I will cherish your gift for many many years to come, as I have you and Alastair’s bond to my family.sweet hog

The sweet hedgehog pin is from my trip to Chicago, picked up at Paper Doll. He’ll be saying “Happy Valentine’s Day” from my lapel to everyone at work today, as I took Monday off to stage a love-in with the man. Now, the GORGEOUS ring and the earrings are from my dear friend Ace: Ace is the kind of gal that shows up at a couple’s dinner with a gourmet cupcake and a couple pieces of handmade jewelry for each of her girlfriends. There are no words for how much I love this girl.an old ring

This little pink and gold ring has been with me most of my life, but only introduced into my daily “wears” as an adult. It was given to me when I was about four years old. My dad went to a neighbouring town to buy a trailer or an outboard motor off an old man, and while the boys played in the shed, the man’s wife entertained what must have been a precocious four year old Vikki, and bestowed upon me this sweet ring. It didn’t fit me until my adult years, but my Mama held on to it for me, giving it to me when I was 21, and it’s been in constant jewelry rotation ever since. My mom says the lady must surely be gone from this world, but her generous spirit will stay alive in her ring.emily's jewels

Now THIS – this jewelry box – is magic. This belonged to Jeff’s Great Aunt Emily. Emily was like a grandmother to Jeff and his brother, and a permanent fixture in his household through the years. I had the pleasure of having a few Christmas dinners with Emily, and she was truly a remarkable woman. When Emily passed a few years ago, Jeff’s mom gave me this box, full of Emily’s brooches, pins from her time in the military, and a green art deco-esque ring from Germany that is nothing short of fantastic. Spanning time from antiques to sweet Avon pretties, Emily’s box reminds me of a woman’s life well lived, full of warmth and memories.emily's box

By reliving stories and memories like this, I’m starting to understand that Valentine’s Day doesn’t just have to be about picking a fancy restaurant for a one-off day of affection and adoration. I am reminded that Valentine’s Day is about LOVE, which can be shared with partners, family, and friends alike. Although it is a day that often gets lost behind greeting cards, stigmas, and marital status, I believe that everyone can benefit from a little mushy love, and I hope that all of you find your own way to make it a special time of year. Love you all! xo

November 28th, 2010

having a ball

It’s Christmas, it’s Christmas! La la la la la!

Yah yah, I know, it’s still weeks away (four to be exact), but things always get started early for me. I always like to have my shopping, baking, and decorating done so that Jeff and I get to enjoy a little Christmas of our own here in Toronto before we head home to NS to be with the fam. And so with all of that excitement surrounding me, it only makes sense that I get a little merrier, a little more jolly just a *tad* too early.

And really, there is nothing wrong with that, as my merriment signals one thing in specific: PEANUT BUTTER BALLS!!!pre-dip

These PB Balls are a family recipe, coveted by many, but made by few. My mom use to be the only provider: I can’t imagine how she kept up with the raging crowds and PB ball demand-ers! Then my sister started carrying the torch, and I’ll be the first to say that my sis makes a good ball.you want it?you can't have it.

So when Jeff and I started hosting our annual Christmas party here in Toronto, I figured I’d have a go at these perfect holiday treats. Well! They may look like a simple mix of chocolate and peanut butter, but you’d only be kidding yourself if you assumed there was not tole and trouble behind these babies.

That is one of the many reasons you are not getting the recipe so easily: it must be earned. (That, and Jeff came running in the room screaming, “Don’t give it away!”)pot of chocolate

Seriously, “Mom’s Peanut Butter Balls” take TIME. Simple to “whip up”; an art to execute. Jeff was allotted nine balls all to himself of the original batch, only to garner a few more due to too much chocolate, too little chocolate, or a ball simply falling apart. My occasional ball failure is his peanut butter-y bliss.fridge of balls

As perverted as it may sound, the 406 Holiday Party is known for its balls. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but people literally start confirming in October that there will be plenty of my peanut butter balls, as well as Jeff’s famous meat balls. They get into sweats, worrying that if they show up late, they may miss out on the treats. We have never asked people to choose their favorite balls (PB or meat), but I guess that would be like comparing apples and oranges.lone peanut butter ball

So I hope I’ve piqued your curiosity about how delicious these culinary delights could possibly be. Let’s put it this way: the head chef at the restaurant I work at demands every year that I bring her a fair offering of balls. That, and I go through most of my painter’s tape trying to get the message across to Jeff that HE ONLY GETS NINE!!!GET OUT!

Have a secret family recipe??? I’d love to hear about it (even if it is under lock and key ;) ).

November 7th, 2010

for my Dad

I know it might be strange to dedicate a post to my Dad when this seemingly looks to be a post about *nakes and ladders, but stay with me.snakes and ladders

This old *nakes and ladders game goes back. Way back. I don’t even know how far; possibly even before me. But to me, it represents all the love and good times that I have ever had with my dear Dad. I have always been both a Mama’s girl AND a Daddy’s girl, and could go on ad nauseam about my respect and love for both of them.snakesladders

As far as my special times with my dad goes, there are many. We have skied together. Drove home in “BES”, singing along to old Alan Jackson songs that no normal 10 year old should know. We have drove around countless neighbourhoods, just to look at new builds and to see whose Christmas lights were the best. There was no better question from my Dad than, “Do you want to go for a drive?” And each and every time I step foot in a Canadian Tire, the smell of tires and hardware brings me back to my Dad and being that kid again, going to our favorite store together to run amuck in the *toy* aisles, and collecting his Canadian Tire money. His toys were always in a different part of the store than mine ;)cat and owl markers

So back to this *nakes and ladders game. This was our thing. In our basement, behind the bar, there was a dusty old crate, and in it lived this tattered piece of cardboard, a penny, a nickle, and a couple dice. And anytime, no matter what was going on, I could pull out this game, plunk it down in front of my Dad, and we would play game after game of *nakes and ladders. I didn’t know it at the time, but this is one of my more cherished childhood memories. I took the game with me to Toronto as a souvenir, and last night, in a moment of shack-wackiness, I pulled out the game for Jeff and I to play. And although the penny and nickle were replaced by the cat and owl, and although we had to settle for digital ipod dice, all the memories of playing *nakes and ladders with my dear old Dad came flooding back.digital dice

Dad, I love you and miss you so much. Through both your gentle and not-so-gentle ways, you have taught me many of the lessons that appear on this bizarre old board game. I know that generosity will lead to gratitude. That mischief leads to woe. And above all, I know that the memories of time spent with loved ones is the thing that will get us through our time apart.best two of three?

Get your nickle ready Dad; this bad boy is coming home with me this Christmas.

If you know my Dad, you’ll understand all the asterisks. Come to think of it, I don’t even know how he managed to play this game… Thank you Dad!