under $5

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been 5 months since our renos.  Which means it has also been 5 months of having bare walls. We finally got to hanging a few pieces, and even pulled some artwork from the attic that hadn’t been unbubble-wrapped or seen the light of day since we moved over 2 years ago!  For the most part the artwork had been leaning up against furniture on the floors and collecting dust in our recently demoed attic.

Much of our decor and furniture are found or scavenged items and I can safely say that a large percentage of our art work cost us less than $5.  I luck out a little here since Steve is an artist he does score some great trades (although I didn’t take any photos of those pieces -oops!).

This paint by number came around full circle in the fam.  Steve and his brother and sister used to buy their grandfather paintbynumbers from way back in the day, and in time many if not most of these paintbynumbers are now in our hands.  I especially like this one.  One day we’ll either mount it or get an old frame to put it in.


We had a pretty successful summer harvest of tomatoes this year.  The beefsteaks were so massive and juicy and the romas weren’t bad either.  When there were just too many tomatoes to eat Steve started making some simple tomato sauces and freezing them.  The goal was to eventually get it all into one pot and make one real mean sauce, like one that cooks on the stove for hours and hours.  That is just what we did.

homemade tomato sauce, garden grown tomato sauce, freezer tomato sauce

The sauce was a great success.  I love that as we use it we can add other ingredients to change up the flavours.  Homemade soups are our next venture, and then our freezer will be all set for multiple winter meals.


I love how Speakeasy cafe is tucked so nicely into one of my favourite north end neighbourhoods.  It is a small and inconspicuous coffee shop that is only open on weekends (however they are so much more than a weekend coffee shop -read on!).  They serve a damn fine coffee and modestly do not flaunt that they have won multiple awards and recognition for their beans and roasting.  In fact this year they won the Grand Prize Golden Bean for best new blend at the 2011 International SIAL awards, which means their blend Kochere Gayo was named the best blended coffee in the world!

Stephen Armstrong owner of Speakeasy believes in fair trade quality beans, which he selects and purchases directly from the growers themselves.  He then blends and roasts the beans for some rich and delicious coffee blend creations.  If you have yet to take a visit to this place for a Saturday or Sunday morning coffee you are truly missing out on a Hamilton gem.

To read more about Speakeasy read the Spec article here.

*Speakeasy Cafe, 445 Ferguson Ave. north, 905.521.9667, Open Sat & Sun 8-6pm

crimson and clover

During early September we decided that for next spring we didn’t want to have a barren dirt backyard, and so we thought we would try out a 100% clover ground cover.  It’s actually clover and another plant with little yellow flowers, I forget what it’s called but it doesn’t matter because the clover is basically dominating anyway.  Within a few short days of seeding, tiny clovers started shooting up and within a few weeks we had a full on clover patch!

As the cold and frost are settling in I’m happy to see that the clovers are toughing up.  For a while we avoided stepping on them thinking we’d totally destroy them in their delicate state, but now I think they can withhold a good trampling and will likely last through the winter and develop into some nice plush ground cover come spring.  We may have to add some grass to the mix because I think that 100% clover is hard to maintain.  I was just hoping that we could grow something that wouldn’t ever need mowing.

clover, ground clover, lawn alternative, clover patch

With our new found growth of lush clover, Steve’s art installation from his Zoo exhibit found their way into the patch for a mini photo shoot.

Steve Newberry, art installation, rabbits, clover

devils punchbowl

Although Hamilton is known for being a city of waterfalls (among notably other things) I had only ever been to  Webster’s Falls, and Albion Falls.  I wanted to check out Devil’s Punch Bowl, especially with the backdrop of the changing fall foliage.  So one weekend about a month back we took a little drive to Devil’s Punch Bowl.  It was during one of those unseasonably hot October days, when there hadn’t been any rain for a few weeks, so the waterfall was just a little tiny trickle.  The bowl part was pretty neat (especially if you’re into geology and rock formations).  According to the Hamilton Conservation Authority it is the “only area where one can view such a large vertical display of Ordovician and Silurian stratified rock”.  Wow!  Who knew?

Devils Punch Bowl, Stoney Creek, Fall, escarpment, waterfalls, Hamilton

Just across the way from the fall is a cute little place called the Punch Bowl Country Market. It had a nice spread of baked goods, honey, maple syrup, gourmet mustards, local and seasonal fruit, and prepared homemade food items.  There was also a fine selection of novelty “nostalgic” children’s toys, perfect for a cute little gift. AND they sell my favourite kind of pop; Boylan‘s Black Cherry and Boylan’s birch root soda pop!  It was a perfect little repose from punch bowl viewing before heading back downtown.

Punch Bowl Country Market, 136 Ridge Road, Stoney Creek

gourds, Punch Bowl Country Market, 136 Ridge Road, Stoney Creek

Punch Bowl Country Market, 136 Ridge Road, Stoney Creek, children's toys, nostalgic, vintage, novelty toys

Punch Bowl Country Market, 136 Ridge Road, Stoney Creek, old cash register, antique

boylan's soda pop, Punch Bowl Country Market, 136 Ridge Road, Stoney Creek

*Punch Bowl Country Market, 136 Ridge Road, Stoney Creek, 905.662.1665

miniature view

A couple of months ago I had my second major camera tragedy of the year.  I broke my second and only other lens for my digital SLR.  Cringe. Gawd I know! Who does that? I took this as a sign (ahem or cough-excuse) to get a new camera that was more compact, easy to carry and one of those cool old skool looking, hybrid type blends that has SLR features but isn’t bulky and doesn’t weigh 10 lbs.  I ended up purchasing a Canon Power Shot G12 after my friend Vern’s tried and true recommendation. It has some cool features.  For example the miniature effect, which makes images like the fall Hamilton cityscape below look like a little miniature model of downtown Hamilton.  So cute. A little tiny Hamilton. Who wouldn’t want their own little miniature model Hamilton cityscape for the attic (kinda just like in Beetlejuice)?

Hamilton downtown, fall leaves, foiliage, cityscape,

in the nick of time (i hope)

I know that garlic is supposed to be planted in mid October but since the weather has been so mild I hope that it’s alright that I just planted our garlic last weekend!  Last fall when we went to Tregunno Seeds for some bulbs, garden supplies and garlic. Unfortunately we saw the last bunch of garlic walk right out the door 2 minutes before we had a chance to buy any.  It took me a little while to figure out that you can buy any good sized organic garlic from the farmer’s market and just plant that.

So last year was my first time planting garlic.  By the time I had my garlic ready to go it was so late into the fall that the ground was frozen.  I had to do some serious soil thawing and maneuvering to get the cloves in the ground.  As a result this year we harvested tiny miniature garlics (but man they were potent!).

Lesson learned garlic goes in the ground before the ground freezes!  I hope that I was still in time for a better garlic harvest for next year.  Can’t wait for the garden again in spring!

whole garlic, ready to plant, planting garlic, mid fall, November

cloves of garlic, ready to plant, planting garlic, mid fall, November

cloves of garlic, plant 2 inches from the top, planting garlic, mid fall, November

cloves of garlic, ready to plant, planting garlic, mid fall, November

planting garlic mid fall, garlic stick marker for garden

early morning riser

Waking up early on a Saturday morning isn’t something that happens often for me.  I like to sleep in, lounge around, and take as much time getting out of bed as possible.  So on the rare occasion when I do wake up fully rested, and it’s still nice and early, I like to make the most of the day.

Since the weather was so gorgeous and sunny, Steve and I decided to take a leisurely, morning walk on the Bruce Trail.  One of the many things that I love about where we live is the easy access to nature and trails.  We hiked the back trail over to Locke St., where our reward of coffee, tea and pain au chocolat, (which by the way was amazing; crispy, buttery, flaky and accompanied by the perfect amount of dark bitter sweet chocolate), awaited us from Bread Bar.

Bruce Trail, Hamilton, between Queen St. and John St., forest, November

Bruce Trail, Hamilton, November, frost

Bruce Trail, Hamilton, November, frost, Saturday morning hike, walk

*Bread Bar, 258 Locke St. south, Hamilton, 905.522.2999

small gifts

I love these small and vibrant folded paper packages.  Each one is like a little tiny present.  Thanks to Fumiko-san for this special ornamental gift.

Japanese decorative paper, folded Japanese paper

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