a gals’ wine-tasting trip in the Annapolis Valley


Seriously, how is it Friday again already!?

Answer: because life is good, and busy, and full. But not in an “over-stuffed” way, just in a “filling it out in all the right places” way. There has been time for gardening. Time for puttering in the house. Time for working on blog stuff. Time for work. Time for relaxing.

When I got back from last weekend’s getaway on the Sunday night, I thought “I will totally post these photos. Maybe Monday, but definitely Tuesday.” Yeah… that didn’t happen. I guess I felt the CBU brand was more important to write about, lol.

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Anyway, here we are, Friday, and it’s time to share these with you: the pictures I took in the Annapolis Valley last weekend. (Don’t know where the Annapolis Valley is? Read about it here.)IMG_4624 IMG_4632 IMG_4637

This gal is the reason we were there: Ashley Laurence! She’s getting married in four weeks and this weekend was her bachelorette celebration. She’s excited!


Magic + wine + bus? Ummmm… yes please!


You can tell I’m excited. And possibly already drunk. This is only the first vineyard, people.

IMG_4640This was intriguing! I didn’t check it out further, but it looked neat. Whatever it was.

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This is the second one we went to. And also the one where we had to wait an extra 30 minutes because the bus was too full. Ah well. There are worse places to wait than a vineyard and winery on a sunny Saturday. Yeah.


Magic wine bus, indeed.

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These olives! The guide said, “These olives will change your life,” and I thought she was exaggerating until I tasted them. 


I can’t resist hand-lettering on a chalkboard. It will be my downfall, I’m sure! It’s a strange Achilles heel to have, but oh well.

IMG_4688Beautiful view from the restaurant we ate at, in the evening after the wine tour.

IMG_4690A basil-and-cucumber mojito-type drink.

IMG_4692Cheesecake with local blueberries? Ohmygosh yessss.

IMG_4693The next morning, this was the view from our rented cabin: the Bay of Fundy.
IMG_4695 IMG_4702 IMG_4703 IMG_4704 IMG_4715 IMG_4721Sunday morning we made a big fry-up breakfast, sat around and gossiped, and then walked on the beach. So, pretty much what Heaven is. 

IMG_4722And then on the drive home I took the obligatory “crossing the Causeway” shot and posted it to Instagram. I may have cursed a little. What can I say? I was excited. Life is good.


Relevant links:

The Magic Winery Bus tour.
Gaspereau Vineyards.
L’Acadie Vineyards.
Luckett Vineyards.
The Port Pub.


Hey! If you’re going to the big Aerosmith show tonight, have an amazing time!!! I’m off to St. Peter’s for a women’s graphic design retreat. It’s going to be super rad and I’m really excited about it. I’ll share more next week.

Have a great weekend!




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“Happen” post follow-up: stats


So it seems a lot of people are interested in the new brand at CBU! Yesterday my site traffic ballooned after I wrote about my reaction to the “Happen” brand, people left a bunch of comments (some anonymously as they are CBU employees), and shared the link  a bunch too. (Thanks!)

I kept waiting for a comment from someone who really liked the brand, but that didn’t, err, happen.

Also, I was somewhat hoping someone from CBU would see my tweet and respond, but that didn’t happen either.

Someone I know at CBU did write and suggest I meet with their Marketing Director to chat about the brand, and put us in touch, so I’ll likely do that. Hopefully that’s not an exercise in futility (I can imagine a person in a role like that essentially reading the press release back to me), and actually is an interesting meeting that provides some answers to the questions I posed in the post yesterday. We’ll see! I’m nothing if not optimistic.

Anyway, I always like to share stuff like site stats, because it’s so interesting to me, you know, which posts do well, which ones strike a nerve. I don’t want to just write about controversial stuff for the sake of driving up my site stats, but when it’s done right and it’s topical and it’s something I actually care about and want to write about (like the post last year  about the Bell Museum, another high-view day) then it’s neat to see when the stats confirm that people are interested in the topic.

I’ll keep you all posted!

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what ‘Happen’-ed?


Recently the local university, CBU, went through a rebranding. It took a year or so.

At the end of it, just last month, they released their new brand to the media and the public. It’s essentially one word: Happen.

I’m underwhelmed. I’m also confused. I know the university says in a press release that “‘Happen’ encapsulates the spirit and drive that is inherent in CBU today and which will become increasingly clear to the world in the future,” and that it’s about “the journey, the experiments, the things we learn along the way,” but for me as a designer, this feels like the focus groups and the designers just found a slick-looking sans-serif font and came up with a word that could apply to a number of situations, and worked out a vague design rationale for it.

It doesn’t feel like it grew, rooted, from the soul and history of the university, this one or any other, frankly. It feels like it just, well, happened. (Sorry.)

(It also happened to Staples, apparently.)

Mind you, I didn’t go to CBU. Nor was I part of the branding process. I also don’t know enough about the culture of studying or working at CBU, either, to comment on that. So that’s where I’m confused. Since this brand doesn’t really do it for me, as a CBU outsider, I’d love to know more about the process they went through, and why they did go with what they went with. I love branding and rebranding, and I love design. I guess I should qualify that: I love rebranding when it comes from somewhere genuine, and isn’t just a fresh coat of paint. I think the process of designing a rebrand starts way before you pull out the Pantone swatches and the slick fonts — I think it begins with a deep and honest look at what the existing brand is, what people think about it already, and figuring out ways to serve your customers better. The process fascinates me, and I’d love to know more about it in this particular case.

I must also say that I’m disappointed that the university went with a Toronto design firm. Imagine what a bold statement and shot of confidence into Cape Breton’s economy it would have been, if CBU had announced they were trusting a local design firm like Vibe Creative Group with their university’s branding process?

Again, I don’t know what went on behind the scenes. Maybe local places like Vibe submitted a bid and were thought too expensive. Maybe local firms were too busy to take on the work and never submitted a bid. I don’t know. I mean, I want to be supportive of a local institution, CBU, and not just be critical for the sake of being critical. But, I’ve got questions, and I’d really love genuine answers.

What about you? Does this brand speak to you, make you feel excited? Or are you in the ‘underwhelmed’ camp?

Posted in Community, Design, Education, Leah's thoughts | Tagged , , , | 22 Comments

at yoga last night


My mind: Why why why why why why why?

My body: Because, oh because, because, because this. This feeling.


Photo taken this morning. 

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multitude monday / sep 8


My friend and former design classmate Katie MacLennan writes a great blog called Polka Dot Soup. On it she writes a post some Mondays called “Multitude Monday.”   She writes, “Mondays are about documenting the little (or big!) things in life that make me oh-so-happy. Let’s make Mondays a day to reflect on the goodies, and not the baddies.”

Also, a few months ago I read Brené Brown’s book “Daring Greatly: How The Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead,” in which she writes, “The shudder of vulnerability that accompanies joy is an invitation to practice gratitude, to acknowledge how truly grateful we are for the person, the beauty, the connection, or simply the moment before us.”

(The last Multitude Monday post I wrote, last week, is here.)

The ten things I’m most grateful for right now:

161. Downloading new tunes after a road trip with two other women, tunes that they introduced me to.

162. Nova Scotia wine. 

163. Montreal bagels with Nutella for breakfast on a Monday morning.

164. Cheese.

165. Olives.

166. Did I say Nova Scotia wine yet?

167. Gal pals + laughter + silliness + a rented cabin by the sea.

168. Coming home after a fun weekend away, to my sweetheart.

169. The new Outlander TV series.

170. Oh that Nova Scotia wine…

Have a lovely Monday!

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links loved / sep 6


Yesterday morning’s sunrise was spectacular! Rising at 6:30 isn’t so bad when you get to see things like that from your porch step in your PJs.

I’m off to the Annapolis Valley for a gal’s weekend, but first, some Links Loved: a weekly roundup of rad links I loved from the Interwebs, inspired by Elise Blaha Cripe’s  weekend links series:

Behind the scenes of recording a fiddle tune.

Why it’s usually easier than you imagined, but also different.

The kind of garden marker I need!

Pretty petals in a gif.

Such a sweet story about a marriage by the husband on their 40th anniversary. Bonus: they live on Cape Breton!

Awesome climate-change event happening this month in Sydney. (More on that to come on this blog soon.)

Loved this peek into a gal’s sketchbook.

Seriously debating buying this (although once it gets to Canada it costs about $50 — ee yikes, a bit much for a planner).

The Bite House’s September menu looks delicious. Whisky milk jam? Pork Belly? Butter-poached hake? Ummmmm yes.

Katie’s tips for building a maternity wardrobe. (Not that I need them just yet.)

It’s the Fall/nesting instinct but I’m getting into rugs lately… like this beauty.

Have a fabulous weekend, friends!

Posted in Art, Community, Day to Day Life, Love | Tagged | 1 Comment

name that plant! (the Leah’s-yard edition)


In the last edition of Name That Plant!, all the plants were pink.

This time around, the theme is that they were all in my yard when I went around taking a bunch of pictures yesterday evening. (Which was for the very “garden-nerdy” purpose of uploading the photos to my computer, and using Photoshop to play around with different ideas for the garden, over the winter to come, as well as labelling the plants that are currently growing so I don’t forget what’s where when the snow is high over the ground.) (This is what you get when you cross a graphic designer with a gardener.)

If you know what one, two or three of these plants are, leave a comment and let me know.  There aren’t any flashy prizes, but you do get my respect and admiration! And those are pretty great, let me tell you.

I see #1 a lot in people’s gardens, so I imagine someone will know what it is. They came with the house. #2 was given to me by a friend, and I transplanted it again when I moved here to North Sydney, from my Mom’s place in Baddeck. When you rub the leaves, it gives off a strong smell that is hard to describe, sort of like lemon geranium but different. I also remember having it at my Dad’s house as a kid and we called it “Old Man’s Beard” but who the heck knows where that name came from. #3 is likely a weed since it grows in a part of the garden that is still pretty overgrown, but I wondered anyway.

ANYway, thanks in advance. Now … name that plant!

namethatplant1 namethatplant2 namethatplant3


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