Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lunch at Michealette's

For years Michealette, one of my best friends, was our nearest neighbor here in Marble Mountain.  Two years ago she sold her cottage and moved into town–Port Hastings–about 30 miles away, but we see her often when we are here in Cape Breton.  This past Sunday, Dan and I had  lunch at her place.  Frances and Norman, her daughter and son-in-law, were there too.  Always good food and stimulating conversation at Michealette’s.

Flowers from Michealette's garden or that of  her next door neighbor are beautifully arranged throughout the house.

A cool refreshing cranberry drink garnished with lemons was served from this lovely wine decanter.  I like the unusual shape of this decanter, a gift to Michealette from Kit and Maggie.

The first course of creamy seafood chowder was ladled from this pretty tureen.

Finger sandwiches of turkey salad, deviled eggs and homemade bread rounded out the menu.

 Dessert?  Of course.  A raspberry, apple, rhubarb cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream provided the pièce de ré·sis·tance  for this delicious lunch.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Among My Fav-o-rite Things: Our Four Seasons Quilt

In 1996 friends Peggy and Baker Rhyne from North Carolina visited us. Since we are in a remote country location, I met them in town so that I could guide them to our place.  Across from Tim Horton’s, in a vacant lot, a tag sale was underway.  Neither Peggy nor I can resist a yard sale so we hurried over to have a look.  That’s when I spotted this lovely quilt designed to be used as a wall hanging.

Although the appliqued houses lack perspective, I felt that the rich colors especially the deep burgundy and  royal blue would brighten our newly constructed sun room and would provide a color pallet around which I could decorate. I especially liked the assorted plaids woven into the patchwork suggesting Scottish tartans.

The piece is not old but is hand-quilted, though not by an expert, but neither by a novice, and I like its primitive nature.
Tree in spring.

Tree in summer.                                   

It was not until I hung it on the sun room wall that I noticed the four trees suggesting the four seasons–spring, summer, fall, winter.  I call it our four seasons quilt, and it is among my favorite things in the Marble Mountain house.

Tree in fall.
Tree in winter.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Mermaid Tear for Grace

Sea glass among the pebbles on our beach.
While walking along the beach the other afternoon, I saw something shiny green among the small pebbles.  I had found another piece of sea glass.  Though never a serious collector, I have over the years  found  twenty or so pieces along our beach.  My favorite is one that is green and embossed on what must have been the bottom of a bottle with “Made in” .  I assume “Canada”, but one never knows. 

Sea glass, often called mermaid tears, is glass found on beaches of oceans or large lakes that has been tumbled and smoothed by the waves, water and sand, creating smooth, frosted shards of glass. Combing shorelines for sea glass is a hobby for many beach-goers either who collect or craft it into jewelry.

The beaches of Nova Scotia are among the best places in the world to collect sea glass, and in particular, the beaches at Inverness where we were last week.  We didn’t have time to go searching for sea glass, but near our cabin at Beach Village we noticed an avid collector’s license plate, C GLASS.

A sea glass collector's license plate.

A few of Brenda Reichel's rare pieces of sea glass.
There is a beautiful collection of sea glass at Brenda Reichel’s  Tears of Glass Studio in Inverness (  Brenda has collected sea glass since the age of 15, and now she crafts the most stunning jewelry using these pieces of glass that have been “turned by waves, tumbled through rocks and polished by sand into multi-coloured jewels”.

For my ten-year-old granddaughter, Grace, I chose a beautiful little pendant fashioned from  a single green “mermaid teardrop” and embellished with a tiny Swarovski* crystal. Brenda called this one "Sea Jewel for a Princess" and I thought the name and the necklace very fitting.  I hope Grace is going to like this tiny jewel from the sea.
"Sea Jewel for a Princess" designed and crafted by Brenda Reichel.

*The Swarovski Company of Austria has made the finest, precisely-cut crystals for over 100 years. (

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Everybody's Going Out and Having Fun . . .

Orangedale United Church.

Our friend, Murdo, and his guitar.
There was a large crowd at the Orangedale United Church of Canada  having fun last Sunday night at the concert performed by the Orangedale Special.   Our friend, Murdo, sings and plays the lead guitar in this four person band.  Most of the songs were country songs from the 1950s.  I especially enjoyed their rendition of "Oh Lonesome Me" because I remember this hit from 1958. It was written and performed by Don Gibson of Cleveland County, NC, where I grew up.  Gibson was one of our hometown boys.  Songs by Johnny Cash and the Dixie Chicks were also on their play list.
Concert at Orangedale United Church.

Not only did we enjoy the music, but we had a chance to visit with friends.  The Beavers, also from NC, who have a vacation spot near us here in Cape Breton were there as well as Yvonne and Kenneth from Malagawatch.   

Our friend Yvonne.

Our friend Kenneth.
It's been a long time since I've seen folks having so much fun in church!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bet my money on a bob-tailed nag--Doo-da, Doo-da

Grandpat (me) enjoying the races.
        As a girl’s day out, last Sunday Christene and I went over to the Inverness  harness races.  I’d never been to a horse race although a trip to Louisville and  the Kentucky Derby is on my “bucket list”.  We had so much fun that when Dan asked what I’d like to do for my birthday, I said I wanted to go back to Inverness for the Wednesday night races and a celebratory dinner at the new Cabot Links Restaurant there.

Harness racing is a form of  racing  where horses trot or pace while pulling a driver (not called a jockey) in a sulky.  At Inverness the horses pace around the half mile track for a distance of a mile. The horses line up behind a slow-moving, hinged gate mounted on a motor vehicle, which then leads them to the starting line. At the line, the wings of the gate are folded up and the vehicle accelerates away from the horses.
Driver in the sulky with his pacing horse.
Horses lining up behind the mobile starting gate.

Going to the races here reminds me of attending a Durham Bulls baseball game back home in NC, because both are essentially family events where folks of all ages are just having a a lot of fun  It’s fairly inexpensive entertainment.  Admission to the harness race is free.  One can buy a program listing the races with the entries and info about each horse for $2.50 and for $2.00 one can place a bet  I placed a few bets and spent $15.00 total for a fun evening.

On the first race I bet on a quinella.  That means I chose two horses to win and place, and they can win or place in any order.  I chose horse number 1, Liberal Arts Major, and horse number 5, Little Wubbs.  Horses 1 and 2 came in first and second, so I didn't win.  I chose number one because of her name and just randomly chose number 5. 

Gwen (on left) owner of Liberal Arts Major, the winning horse in the first race.
The lady who owns Liberal Arts Major was sitting directly in back of me.  Her horse won the race.  If only I had just picked number 1 to win and had not bet on a quinella!

Program for the harness racing.
I’ve discovered a new past time, have met some new friends, and I’ll be back next year for the harness races in Inverness.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Path of Gold at the Cabot Links Restaurant

The newly opened restaurant upstairs at the Cabot Links Golf Course Clubhouse in Inverness, Nova Scotia, ranks among the top restaurants in Cape Breton.  Dan and I celebrated my birthday there on Wednesday night.
Beautifully set table at the Cabot Links Restaurant.
The decor is  modern with white walls, white tables and white dishes, and the blue and white plaid carpet with tinges of orange plays well against the white. Mahogany panels on one side and mahogany chairs of modern shape soften the starkness.
The Cabot Links Restaurant dining room.

The lack of artwork on the austere walls may reflect the recent opening of the restaurant just a month ago.  Yet no art could rival that provided by nature in the breath taking vista over the water as viewed through the floor to ceiling windows along one whole side of the room.  There was a bit of  glare in the early evening from the sun’s path of gold  reflecting off the water.  Perhaps solar shades will be added to reduce the glare as needed.
View over the 18th hole to the ocean beyond.

The sweeping view over the 18th hole to the ocean beyond is matched only by the mouth watering cuisine.  Dan’s appetizer, an Asian inspired soup, pear with zucchini, with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger was a harbinger of more good food to come.

Halibut and scallops cassoulet.

We each chose the dinner special, a cassoulet of halibut and scallops in a white cream sauce with shredded  red and yellow sweet peppers, snow peas and fingerling potatoes.  The halibut and scallops were just-off-the-boat fresh..  The rich white cream sauce was mildly seasoned with a variety of herbs. Delicious!

For dessert it was difficult to choose between the maple bread pudding and the fresh blueberry cobbler. We chose to share a serving of the cobbler.  Wild blueberries, locally hand harvested, topped with a crispy crust, garnished with fresh plump highbush blueberries and mint leaf, and served with their homemade vanilla ice cream provided the perfect ending to a perfect meal.
Wild blueberry cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream.
Husband and wife chefs John Haine and Tracy Wallace have a winner here.  I suspect you’ll be hearing more about these two award-winning chefs and this restaurant at Cabot Links.

After this memorable birthday dinner it was off to the races–literally.  Another birthday treat was an evening at the harness races in Inverness.  More about that later. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Among My Fav-o-rite Things: Kitchen Driftwood

Each year many gnarled pieces of driftwood wash ashore on our beach.

Driftwood on beach.

One of the most ingenious uses of driftwood is this utensil holder that Laura, as a young girl, made for her grandparents and mounted above the stove.  Dan says the driftwood reminds him of a seahorse, others comment that it is reminiscent of a dinosaur or other prehistoric animal.  Whatever its shape suggests, it is quite handy for the cook to have these utensils close at hand.

Driftwood utensil holder.

This has been in the Marble Mountain house since I first knew it, and it is among my favorite things here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Breakfast at the Bras d'Or Lakes Inn

The Bras d’Or Lakes Inn in St. Peter’s overlooks the famous Bras d’Or Lake, a pristine inland sea carved from the northern extremity of the Appalachian mountain range during the last ice age.

View of the Bras d' Or Lake from the Inn.

The highlight of our stay at this hotel last week was the breakfast buffet prepared by Chef Jean-Pierre Gillet and his staff. 
The breakfast buffet at the Bras d'Or Lakes Inn.
Chef Jean-Pierre brings the best in authentic French cuisine from his roots in native Brittany. 

Chef Jean-Pierre Gillet Preparing a Crêpe.

This morning my choice was a savory crêpe stuffed with mushrooms, onions, and cheese.  It was impressive watching  Jean-Pierre smooth the thin batter over the flat circular hot plate with his wooden spatula.
The wooden spatula used to spread and turn the batter.

And the finished product was oh so good!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

An Early Morning Walk Through St. Peter's, Nova Scotia

Chubby's converted school bus diner.
I was up early the other morning over in St. Peter's where we had stayed overnight and found it a perfect time to walk through the little town as it was waking up.  Chubby's  serves only lunch in the converted school bus diner.  No breakfast here.

Tweety Bird fire hydrant.
The fire hydrants in town are painted to resemble cartoon characters, and this little Tweety Bird brought a smile to my face.
A sign observed in town.

There was very little traffic at this early hour, nevertheless, I found this sign reassuring.  St. Peter's has a high percentage of retired seniors among its population.

Nova Scotia has many beautiful churches, and  this United Church in St. Peter's is inspiring in its simplicity.

St.Peter's United Church of Canada.
Streetlights, reminiscent of old lamp lights, are adorned with beautiful hanging baskets of petunias and other flowers.
A St. Peter's streetlight.

A nice walk, but now it's time to head back to the Bras d' Or Inn for breakfast!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Among My Fav-o-rite Things: Canada Goose in Diaper

Several years ago at the Raleigh NC Fairgrounds Flea Market  I found just what I had been looking for to fill a vacant space behind our sofa in the Marble Mountain house sun room.    The wooden folk-art Canada goose may have been used as a weather vane, because it was finished on both sides and appeared to have  been mounted on a pole so that it would swivel.

On our next trip to Marble Mountain, I proudly declared the twenty dollars that I had paid for my new-found “sculpture” as I passed through Canadian customs. Once in the sun room, it was important to prepare a proper setting for my goose.  Our friend, Frances, and I painted the wall sky blue, and Frances painted clouds against the blue.  We mounted the goose so that it would appear to be flying south to NC from whence it came.
Folk-art goose above sun room sofa.

"Goose in Diaper"

My folk-art Canada goose is one of my favorite things in the Marble Mountain house, but Dan laughs and calls it “Goose in Diaper”.   Later, when our artist friend, James, from Greensboro visited, he too laughed and declared the name appropriate.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Frolicking in Johnstown

Friday night Dan and I traveled over to Johnstown across the lake from us, to attend the Milling Frolic.  This year marked the 78th year for the Johnstown Milling Frolic, the longest running celebration of a milling frolic on Cape Breton Island.  In Scotland,  milling was known as  waulking and performed by women only.  In Cape Breton,  this custom involved men and women sitting around a table pounding the homespun cloth as it came off the loom in order to shrink it.  Singing made this work less burdensome, and many Gaelic working songs originated with this custom.
Engraving of Scotswomen singing while waulking cloth, c. 1770.

There was much merrymaking  in the Johnstown Community Centre as a group of men and women, young and old, gathered around the table to celebrate this tradition, many joining in the singing of the traditional Gaelic songs.  Other non-Gaelic speakers, including myself, joined in by pounding the cloth and singing  the chorus.  A frolic indeed!
A milling frolic in Johnstown Centre.

Friends Frances and Norman  from Hay Cove were there, and we were happy to meet up with them.  Following the milling, there was square dancing upstairs to the music of Betty and Kinnon Beaton.  A fun evening.
Frances and Norman, friends from Hay Cove.
Square dancing in Johnstown.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Among my Fav-o-rite Things: Vintage Aluminum Pot

Whenever I'm ready to cook oatmeal, without the crock pot, or vegetables or make soup, I look for the heavy three-quart aluminum vintage pot that has been in the family since Dan was a child.  If others have been cooking, I may have to dig around in the back of the cabinet to find it, because few other family cooks share my enthusiasm for this pot.

Vintage Wear-Ever Aluminum Pot
The pot is very heavy with a secure handle that grips nicely and a lid that fits tightly to retain steam.  Because of the thickness of the aluminum, food doesn't burn easily.  I've looked on Ebay occasionally to see if I can find another like it with no luck.  The mark on the bottom of the pot reads "No.986, WEAR-EVER, Aluminum Trade-Mark, Made in Canada".  I suspect it is 1940s or perhaps even 1930s vintage.
Back mark.
This old pot is among my favorite things in the Marble Mountain house.  I wonder how many cooks over the years have prepared potatoes, turnips, peas, or carrots with the pleasure this pot gives me.

Making soup in my favorite pot.