Yesterday I took a walk in the field near our house, and I came upon some sorrel. My mother introduced me to this plant when I was a kid and I love its sour, tangy taste. I crouched down and picked some and ate it, feeling very much like some sort of bovine. Next summer I hope to be in North Sydney full time (as opposed to this last summer when I worked in Baddeck during the week and went home on weekends), with more time to garden. I miss it very much! And if I do, you know I’ll be planting some sorrel.


Posted in Day to Day Life, Food + agriculture, Outdoors | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

how graphic design changes breakfast


As I’ve mentioned on here before, going back to school to study Graphic Design has changed the way I see the world. For example, this Eggo waffle box. When I’m making Adam’s breakfast in the morning, I’m captivated by the drop shadows, the colour gradient. I’m looking at it and thinking, “How would I recreate this? Where would I start? OK, Illustrator for sure. What font is that? Should I re-trace the letters or try and find a font that comes close, then create outlines and mess with the points that way? Oh look, there is a drop shadow both under the white layer, and under the red…”

It’s no wonder I burn things so much! I get a little distracted.


In other news: if you’re in Sydney tomorrow (Thursday) and you like to attend book launches, do come to the McConnell Library (50 Falmouth St) at 6:30 for the launch of the book “Grey Area: A Cape Breton Anthology of Contemporary Ghost Stories.” I’ll be there and reading an excerpt from my short story “Night Swimmer,” which is in the book. It’s the first time I’ve had a story published in a real book! The launch is free to attend and there will be refreshments. Yay tea! See you there.

Posted in Day to Day Life, Design | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Doktor Luke’s + a new friend

IMG_8927 On Saturday I had a good reason to seek out a coffee – my friend and fellow blogger, Scott McKinney, was on the island! I had never met Scott in person, and he was visiting from his native Minnesota, to take in Celtic Colours. I suggested we meet at Doktor Luke’s, a new coffee house in Sydney that had opened just the week before, and which I wanted to check out.

IMG_8930 This is the view from the back of the building. You can see there is ample parking!

IMG_8931 I’m a big fan of their logo.

IMG_8932 IMG_8933 IMG_8934 IMG_8935 Books for sale! I bought Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird” for 6$.

IMG_8936 This is the view when you first walk in the door.

IMG_8938 And this is the view when you go stand by the “bill of fare” posters and look to your right.

IMG_8939 And this is the view when you go sit down in the little room with a double latte and a cranberry scone, to wait for your new friend to arrive. (Hi Scott!)


I got there early and took some photos with my phone (apologies for the blurry ones). It’s funny, the building is so big, that I assumed the coffee house would be giant too! But it’s actually quite small and cozy. There are two rooms, one where the coffee is made and served, and the other in the back with seating. The aesthetic is Western and as a design student, I love the branding. And I love that the windows look out over the harbour – it’s a million-dollar view.

The proprietor, Missy Lebans, was friendly and welcoming, and later on her partner Julie Sutherland was there too and we chatted a bit. The pair are from Vancouver. Julie teaches at Cape Breton University and she said, “Missy wanted to open a coffee shop. We wouldn’t have been able to do that in Vancouver… a space like this would have cost $8000 a month in rent!” The name of the coffee house refers to Julie herself, who apparently was saddled (hehe, pun intended) with the nickname after her phone’s auto-correct kept changing her name to “Luke”, and her students kept it.

Check out Doktor Luke’s website or like Doktor Luke’s on Facebook. They are at 40 Kings Road in Sydney. Tell them I said hello!

Posted in Business ideas, Food + agriculture, Newcomers, Out West, Work | 1 Comment


IMG_8941 IMG_8942

“In order to converse with the wild feminine, a woman must temporarily leave the world and inhabit a state of aloneness in the oldest sense of the word. Long ago the word alone was treated as two words, all one. To be all one meant to be wholly one, to be in oneness, either essentially or temporarily. That is precisely the goal of solitude, to be all one. It is the cure for the frazzled state so common to modern women, the one that makes her, as the old saying goes, “leap onto her horse and ride off in all directions.””

(From Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ fine work, Women Who Run With The Wolves, page 316, Chapter 9, Homing: Returning to OneSelf.)


Last week was a busy one, and the weekend had a fair bit going on too. So on Sunday I was more than ready to take off by myself with a Bonnie Raitt CD and a full tank of gas and go find the ocean. Find it I did, but I didn’t take any pictures. I wasn’t in a “share this” mood. But I did find myself a rock to take home, and put on my windowsill to remind me of that “all-one” place, whenever I’m getting out of sorts.

Posted in Day to Day Life, Leah's thoughts, Outdoors | Tagged | 2 Comments

Cape Clear


Since I was a teenager, I had heard about Cape Clear.

The first time was from my friend Morgan (hi hon!), who came in to visit me at the pottery store where I worked in the summers, and told me about how she’d been up to Cape Clear.

“Where is that?” I remember asking, and she said it was in the Highlands, and you had to take the Highland Road to get there.

The Highland Road, for those of you who don’t know, is a series of roads put in by the logging company to harvest wood from the interior of the Cape Breton Highlands. (You can read more about this part of the island here.) My Dad, who works in the woods doing treeplanting, laying out cuts, and other stuff I don’t know too much about, is frequently taking the Highland Road to work. You get on it in Middle River, and you can drive up to Cheticamp or Wreck Cove on it. They are all dirt roads, and they are marked, somewhat. Once you’re off the main road, though, it’s kind of a maze. Other than logging trucks, you’re also likely to encounter hunters, snowmobilers, or dirt bikers, depending on the season.

And I had never been up there. Not even with my father who goes up there every week through work season, or my brother who worked up there with Dad for a time. I’d always just driven past the turnoff on Hunter’s Mountain and thought, “Maybe someday!”

Well, someday came last weekend. My friend Tanya and her husband Ronnie (hi guys!) like to go up to Cape Clear on Thanksgiving weekend and they invited me along. IMG_8799 IMG_8800 IMG_8801 IMG_8802 IMG_8803 IMG_8804

We went in time to see the sun set. IMG_8805 IMG_8806 IMG_8807 Oh and we took my friend and classmate Jacquie along too. Here she is on the left being goofy. As usual.

IMG_8808 IMG_8809 IMG_8810 IMG_8811 IMG_8812 This is my nervous face. As in, “behind me is a 300-ft drop off” nervous.

IMG_8813 And this is my “trying not to be nervous, pretending everything is just fine” face.

IMG_8814 IMG_8815 IMG_8816 IMG_8817 How many pictures can you take of the drop off and the Margaree River way down below? Apparently a lot!

IMG_8818 Jacquie points the way.

IMG_8819 Ronnie ducks down below the ledge, and terrifies us ladies, who stand far back. (Can you see him?)

IMG_8820 Tanya taking a picture, and waiting for Ronnie to fall. (Well, not really. But we were scared.)


To get there: Drive to Middle River and up Hunter’s Mountain. Turn at the Highland Road (there is a sign that says Public Rifle Range). Drive 38 kilometers along the road, until you come to the Second Forks Road (there will also be a sign that says Cape Clear). Drive another ten kilometers. Whenever you come to a fork, go the way that looks the most-travelled (it will be fairly obvious). If you have an ATV you can go all the way to the end, but if not, park and walk the last 100 m because there are massive puddles and big rocks in the road. If you need better directions, you can either just Google it (there are actually lots of sites!) or check out this geocaching website I found.

And this one has aerial photos of the look off – definitely worth a peek.

Edit: a reader commented the following, and it’s definitely a good point: “If you’re not familiar with the highland roads, I would suggest picking up a map of the area before you head in. It’s a maze-like network of roads and would be pretty easy to get lost if you took a wrong turn. Make sure you have a full gas tank.”

To get a map, contact the Department of Natural Resources office nearest you:

Second Edit: A friend showed me this picture he took of when he rappelled down Cape Clear! What the f-bomb!

Posted in Active living, Day to Day Life, For Fun, Outdoors | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

long weekends are the best!

IMG_8827 IMG_8828 IMG_8843 IMG_8846 IMG_8854 IMG_8855 IMG_8857 IMG_8867 IMG_8873 IMG_8874

Time is flying these days. But the long weekend was glorious. The weather was beautiful, I got to see some friends, and have tea and catch-up chats, and take some nice walks, but also have some chilled-out time at home. Now I’m clearing my calendar and preparing to be really productive this fall, both in school and also in planning the next step of my wee business. (Which is selling postcards and stickers.) I’ll share more on here once those plans are a bit more firm!

Tomorrow or the next day, here on the blog I’ll share photos of my trip out to Cape Clear last Friday, along with directions on how to get there yourself… it’s a beautiful spot and I had wanted to get there since years! Definitely worth the drive and the adventure of finding it.

Also, I hope you’re enjoying Celtic Colours if you’re doing that, this week! I don’t have time this year to take in any of the festival fun, as school tasks and home life are taking priority, but I do have some fond memories of festivals past that I get to relive around this time of year, by listening to the album “Haven” by the band Flook. (Mainly the memories are of what it was like to be able to stay up past midnight, back when I was a fresh-faced 19-year-old!)

Posted in Day to Day Life, Leah's thoughts, Outdoors | 1 Comment

happy thanksgiving!

thanksgiving1 thanksgiving2 thanksgiving3

Goodness, how did we get here already!? I don’t know about you, but for me the last month and a half has flown by. Between Lumiere, the Writers’ Festival, and school, it’s gone by really fast.

Celtic Colours, the big island-wide music and culture festival, starts today and goes for a whole week. I don’t think I have the energy or time to make it to any events, but for those of you who are going to some concerts or workshops, slainte!! And have fun!

I’m thankful for so much these days but for the purposes of keeping this post short and not super irritating, I’m going to name just a few:

  • My honey. He’s so giving and loving, it makes me feel positively spoiled. I’d write more — I could gush about my mister for days! — but he’s a private person and I respect that. Suffice it to say, even though he challenges me daily, he’s also the perfect one for me. And holy crap, am I ever grateful that he’s a patient man!
  • Cape Breton’s natural beauty. Lakes, rivers, beaches, woods, mountains, bogs… we are stinking rich with the beautiful wild here.
  • Taste buds – especially at Thanksgiving. To be able to taste all the delicious food is a blessing… ham, scalloped potatoes, green beans with bacon, and of course pie…. mmmm…
  • Not to be schmaltzy or anything, but I’m also super grateful for you, my dear readers. For your support, your smiles, your comments in person and online. I hope you all have a great weekend of relaxation and fun. Oh and of course food!

And here are two posts from this time last year:

Posted in Day to Day Life, Leah's thoughts | Tagged , | 3 Comments