Monday, 24 July 2017

When a Dreamer becomes a Doer

It is a mighty statement, as mighty as a dream could be. Dreams come in different sizes, different value, some even, in different flavours. My dreams are immense quality wise - dreaming beauty, dreaming real things, dreaming picturesque. But in reality, my dreams are perfectly fulfillable. I go to bed, dreaming places - ones I can explore. Places, where I would find piece and inspiration. And I make my goal to reach my dreams, to hold them and to believe I will live trough their pulse.

One dream like that was Nova Scotia. I first set a foot their while traveling to the purity of Newfoundland. And I told myself, this is a place to come back and explore. More precisely - Cape Breton. It was exactly seven years ago. 

The thing with the dreams is - patience. Patience is a mighty thing, if you manage to achieve it. I never do. But life constantly teaches me. 

Nova Scotia is an amazing place! So much more different than the other provinces, in a way close to Newfoundland culture, but most certainly - nothing like Ontario. So here I go - the adventure for this summer - a dream and a reality in one attempt to explore as much as possible of this Maritime land for two weeks. And I am telling you right now - impossible in reality. One only gets to taste the life in Nova Scotia for that period of time, but not to sink in that experience in full.

I should admit; maybe, if the biggest part of my dream wasn't Cape Breton, I should have been fine with the time period, but I love the purity of life and Nature. Busy life I have right here at home.

First stop: Halifax.

Busy life, who needs it? It is only the Cow's Creamery that makes us stop there. How wrong could a person be, thinking that Halifax, with its taaaaaall buildings resembles Toronto, or any other busy life style? Finding the seaside walk alley in Halifax is a first salty deep breath, that makes one dizzy. With all the artist, fiddlers and dancers along the street, well, lets just say, Halifax becomes a relaxing place this instant. 


Than it becomes mighty! We were lucky to 'meet' her Highness Queen Mary II. She  mostly docks in Halifax once a year. Today she was right here, at the dock, in her proud gown, patiently waiting for the afternoon time to sale away back to Great Britain.

At the same time the 'floating city', as it was called in the news, the massive US aircraft carrier "Dwight Eisenhower" was right there, in waters, parallel to this little island. It was incomparable in size with her Highness. The aircraft carrier with all his muscles looked tinier when close to Her.


Mighty is the only word that comes to mind, when thinking of her. The whole 350 m body looksoverwhelmingly powerful. The luxury we all read about, behind these little windows, is just something my mind can not process while looking at her. The most impressive thought that comes to my brain is her mighty sale and fight with the Atlantic, even in severe storms. She is well known for her resistance in water. What a lady!

Watching her gracefully maneuvering in the harbour, to get on her way, oh, what a moment that was!


We had to run to 'Point Pleasant Park' to wave 'Vaya con dios".  And it was last minute I caught her, before her silhouette goes behind the hill in open waters.


With that, we were ready to leave the main land and visit the green island of Cape Breton. The way to enter in the kingdom of bold eagles and moose is through the swing bridge at Canso Causeway. It was already at dusk and we still had a long drive to Baddeck, but the road had closed so the bridge could turn and open the water pathway for this gentleman.


On that spot, where land and salt water co-exist peacefully, the most beautiful flowers grow, believe me, even in the stones. Life is absolutely wild and crazy here...


... and it feels like home!

Second stop: Baddeck


This preserved part of the Highlands is for exploring for the next six days. No matter what the weather would look like, it is our time to be here and imprint our presence with footsteps, following the path of people, who had lived on this land far before the first settlers came.

We stayed at Baddeck, the town of Alexander Graham Bell. It is a good one and a half hour drive from both National Park entrances, but the drive is worth it, every day. Where to stay and what to see, I will share in part three of this trip. Right now, it is all about the first good minutes, savoured on the island.

"I have travelled the globe. I have seen the Canadian and American Rockies, the Andes and the Alps and the highlands of Scotland, but for simple beauty, Cape Breton outrivals them all."


Alexander Graham Bell

Cabot Trail:

We started on the west part of the trail. It is a loop of 300 km that for us starts and ends at Baddeck. 'Climbing' north with the car, there is no way not to fall in love with the scenery. And it is before the hills, close to the water, that your mind starts imagining what it would be to look down from the top of MacKenzie Mountain at 355 m.

1. Beach Cove Lane: 


Starting to have a sense of the land here - the colour is different, the texture is different, all modelled and designed by the already salty water of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

2. Margaree


The back of the trail, looking like a tired, resting giant.


Passing by the little town of Chéticamp is only a drive through the houses, in different colours and shapes, all facing the water, standing proudly like watching warriors, protecting the mountain on the back - it is all too precious.

First stop and trail in the National park is Corney Brook. Not too long, not too hard, it leads to a nice little waterfall in a calming resting area. The path swings trough all kinds of plants and trees and there are signs to watch for coyotes, but we try to be nice guests, not too noisy, so we don't disturb the hosts in any way.


Continuing further on the west arm of Cabot trail, the end destination is the Skyline trail. On the way we make few more stops, because here every few metres, there is a lookout spot, that reveals the most thrilling scenery. And I start feeling that one day won't be enough for these only 10-20 km that are scheduled for today, because every stop makes us stay and breathe through this beauty longer.

3. Cap Rouge


Here, before we reach Skyline, we decide to go back to the Visitors centre at the National Park. It is a drive back, south on the Cabot trail, that reveals a whole new story. Suddenly, before we truly reached the highest point of the Highlands, we feel like we look at the land from above. There is no way that pictures or post cards could express that in the same way as the eyes can paint it to the mind. The perspective is indescribable.

4. La Bloc


At La Bloc, you could get in touch with water, swim, trow rocks, build your own sculpture, balancing the well polished flat stones or just explore the coast. Every rock has a story.


These amazing pearl like little rocks compose the most impressive music, pushed by the power of the waves towards the land, and than, pulled back into the water. The once that lay on a safe distance away from the cold hugs of the waves, kissed by the sun, have the warmest touch. I hold them in my hand and feel their warmth in my body, collecting few to take home.

At the Visitor's Centre, we arrange the Skyline trail for the time at sunset. The young people here, who come back home for the summer vacation, are experiencing the quality of life, away form their University style of living and most certainly charging the batteries with piece and beauty, so the energy lasts for the next University year. The ones I spoke with, were all grateful for having this land as a home and always come back. One of them will be our leader on the Skyline trail.

Going back on the Cabot trail, climbing up north, we stop on the road once again to look up and see the edge of the Skyline.


On the trail, you start to wonder where the boreal forest disappear. It looks flat and covered with grass, not at all what you expect. The young gentleman, who is our leader on that trail, thoughtfully explains the reason for that, although it is not difficult to suspect the munching big animals, that, obviously, have built their kingdom here. There are lots of interesting facts that are shared with us, and that I am not going to spoil for you. The guided tour is really interesting.

On the top, you get to realize why this place is called Skyline. So beautiful!


The sun is about to set and on both sides of the ridge of the Skyline, what I see are so many colours of the spectre of the light...

The view of the Cabot trail on the East, cosily hugged by the trees of the mountain is breathtaking. A part of the mountain is already asleep, but the top is still partying, under the last sunbeam kisses. This contrast makes the mountain looking even more powerful.


There are so many floors on the Skyline, where you could sit and rest in this peaceful time. It is like an extra dimension that you enter and suddenly the world starts looking pretty small and your existence - tinier than ever.


The sun is giving us last signals that is about time to leave this place. It is a good 45 minutes walking back. And we all know that wild animals are mostly active at night.


After this moment, there is nothing more to say, but just keep this memory forever.





Monday, 17 July 2017

"Sweet Friend" Pique-nique

The Fox and the Crow

Aesop Fable

        A fox was walking through the forest when he saw a crow sitting on a tree branch with a fine piece of cheese in her beak. The fox wanted the cheese and decided he would be clever enough to outwit the bird.       

       "What a noble and gracious bird I see in the tree!" proclaimed the fox, "What exquisite beauty! What fair plumage! If her voice is as lovely as her beauty, she would no doubt be the jewel of all birds."

       The crow was so flattered by all this talk that she opened her beak and gave a cry to show the fox her voice.

     "Caw! Caw!" she cried, as the cheese dropped to the ground for the fox to grab.



If I have to be honest right here, and if I were the Greek story teller, I would have put a piece of chocolate dessert, like an eclair or warm brioche in the crow's beak, but cheese was his choice and I will accept it, only because it goes well with wine... 

My passion for good weather, good food and good company brings this project with Daily Like Canada to life. And I am truly excited with the result, because it calls out the sun even in cloudy days and it fills my heart with pure joy just by looking at it, and it makes me plan a perfect outdoor dining.


Materials used:

1. for the face : Daily Like Canada Winter Fox oxford cotton
2. for the top and bottom: Daily Like Canada Mandarine oxford cotton
2. for the lining : Daily Like Canada Yellow Dot cotton 20C
3. for the bias binding: Daily Like Canada Hill cotton 20C
5. for the handle: Daily Like Canada Hill cotton 20C, in a frame made out of Mandarine oxford cotton
6. accessory holders at the lid: Mandarine oxford cotton + 'Inazuma' magnetic button
7. Thick batting 100% for the walls
8. Heavy fusible interfacing for all the pieces.
9. Daily Like Canada Leather Tag 'Handmade'
10. Daily Like Canada "Winter Fox" Tag
11. for the embroidered napkins: Daily Like Canada Soft Mustard linen


Deciding on the shape of the basket was the hardest part. I wanted it to be quite deep to be able to carry higher containers for combo layered salads, but not too high so the jars don't roll inside freely. I measured my favourite glass jars in the kitchen and determined the height, based on them.

I love the rounded shape of the basket! I wanted it to be different and at the same time - practical. In a square basket, the corners are always left empty, when filled with round containers. Here, they stand nicely along the shape.


I designed the basket with a wide big handle on the front. This is just my mania for embellished handles :).


I made very thick inside wall protectors - all around the basket and the back. One pillow nicely nests on the bottom of the basket and another one is attached to the lid. All of the protectors, that remind me of baby bumpers are made with Yellow Dot cotton 20C, filled with thick batting and are hand-quilted, following the pattern of the sweet dots. I made the back wall with the solid Mandarine oxford cotton and accented it with my favourite fox. I have one more of this charming foxes, sewn on the outside of the lid, which again is a solid.


The lid pillow holds the belt for the utensils and the crossed belt closing with a magnetic button for the small wooden plates, that are more like a coasters, but on a pique-nique, who cares how one calls the plate where they put their delicious bites?

My basket is filled with fresh salad and sweet fruits, lovely homemade cookies with high-quality raspberry jam, raw nuts and a bee wax candle. In case we decide to dine on a sunset somewhere, candle would be a nice touch.



Another delicate feature to my idea of pique-nique are the linen napkins. To match all of my colour and pattern creations, they are made of Soft Mustard linen, cut to size 40 cm x 40 cm. I made the rough edges, pulling few threads on each side, drew one of the foxes from the Winter Fox oxford cotton and embroider with DMC embroidery floss in matching colours.


I love love love these napkins so much! The best thing about them is that they could be used any time, and I definitely used them firstly for breakfast as soon as I made them. I just couldn't wait for the time we are going out with the basket. The napkins are so much my favourite, made out of the softest linen I have known so far! 


The basket could stand tall, with its handle up, or with the handle up front. I like it standing up, so I get to enjoy the sweetest winter fox tag, sewn on the bottom right corner.


It is time to set up the blanket for lunch! Because it was raining last night, the grass is wet and a  blanket is required, a good one, with isolation. Nothing could ruin this day - I have the perfect cookies for the pique-nique. I call them "the Earth Flowers" - their taste is truly earthy, not too sweet, but delicious and warm. The chocolate chip is the heart of the Earth and it only adds an extra touch of warmth.


Hope you have your own basket, that keeps many memories of happy dining outdoors and is always filled with deliciousness. I would like to hear these stories. Mine are about to be written, this is a new start for my basket, and I sense - a very happy one.

Thank you for stopping by, my dear friends!

Happy summer moments!
 Ivelina