‘Tis the Season

Christmas may be over a month away, but I am already completely excited! How excited, you ask? So excited that I might have woken up Mike around 6AM to decorate the apartment with snowflakes and lights (notice the Santa hat I made for our Black Keys poster)…

I love the Christmas season! There’s nothing better than getting bundled up in a cozy sweater and watching Christmas specials. This year, because I’m on a budget, I’m trying to make as many of my Christmas gifts as possible (I hope my family and friends love knitted gifts). It takes a lot longer to go the homemade route, but it’s easier on the wallet and more personal.

One of my favourite parts of the Christmas season actually took place on Saturday night, Halifax’s annual Festival of Lights Parade. It’s a really cool parade with a ton of different community floats. I had a such a great time, my face actually hurt from smiling so much.

I’ve still got a ton of schoolwork in between me and my Christmas holidays, but at least I can study by the tree and listen to some Christmas carols while I’m at it.


Study aids

Spending your weekend studying can be a real downer. That’s why Mike and I have a few go-to strategies to help ease the pain. They include:

  • Taking a “cat nap” or snuggle break with our favourite feline.
  • Listening to our latest vinyl pick while studying. This week, we’ve been playing The Vaccines’ newest album, perfect for getting out those study frustrations!
  • When we do break to eat, we make sure its something delicious. Lately, Mike and I have been eating a lot of Japanese food. We especially love making katsu-style chicken or salmon.
  • Sipping on an interesting import from our local speciality beer/wine shop whenever we have to tackle boring readings or assignments.
  • Using colours to make studying less drab. Here you can see I’ve begun the tabbing process for my Civ Pro book.

Studying may be a necessary evil, but that doesn’t mean it has to ruin your weekend!

The Architecture of Bookbinding

Since taking a class in bookbinding a year and a half ago I’ve made everything from quick notebooks (before meetings and lectures) to the portfolio which got me into architecture school. I’m drawn to books for two reasons: my background in English and the versatility of the form (I’ve been able to use my experience in pottery, paper-making, and figure-drawing in the making of different books). Below are three examples of books I made this past winter, completed as individual projects but also included in my application to an undergraduate architecture program:


This is a “carousel” book made with cut-up travel photos arranged to create three-dimensional scenes (which don’t always make sense). This one required some assembly but resulted in one of my favourite books yet, more an artwork than the other more-or-less-functional notebooks.


The covers of this notebook are made with kiln-fired clay, glazed and stamped with my initial, “M.” The book is bound with two colours of embroidery thread which I twisted together (probably not the most durable binding, especially with the rough edges), and the binding itself is a coptic stitch, easy once you get the hand of it and beautiful in its simplicity.


And this is the portfolio itself, which I submitted hoping it wouldn’t fall apart while admissions were reviewing it. Luckily it held up and the returned book is now sitting in our living room. The binding is the most interesting part of this one: the spine is a piece of copper pipe from a hardware store (sanded for the “brushed” look) and the binding itself is the “secret Belgian binding” explained here. The covers for this one are done in black book-cloth (also used as a backdrop).


Welcome Derwood!

We thought we’d introduce you to the newest member of our family, Derwood. We met him yesterday at the SPCA and instantly loved him. He’s a five-year-old domestic shorthair who is incredibly friendly and gentle. He loves head scratches, late-night snuggles, and lazing around on the couch.

We are so happy to have him home with us!

A Tale of Two Desks

We decided that we’d give you a quick rundown of where we’ve been spending the majority of our time lately – our desks.

#1 Katie’s Desk (AKA law school central):

1. View of the outside world – I always like to situate my desk near a window. I love cracking the window and feeling the breeze, it helps me stay awake during extremely boring Con law readings.

2. My computer – Where I do all my outlining, online reading, and internet time-wasting.

3. A few photos of family and a sketch by Mike – A nice reminder that law school isn’t the most important thing in life!

4. Pens, pencils, and a ton of highlighters – Was it the Cub Scouts that said, “Always be prepared?” I feel like law students could use a similar motto. With my pens, pencils, and highlighters I’m ready for reading, note-taking, outlining, and whatever else law school throws my way.

5.  Book Basket – I like to keep all my texts, binders, notebooks, and handouts at close range. That way I don’t have to go searching around when I need something. Baskets are a great cheap way to look organized, even though you can just throw everything in.

6. Plant – I love my plant! It’s got the faintest lemon scent and is virtually un-killable.

7. Casebook – There is usually always one open on my desk, reminding me to put the remote down and read already.

8. Coffee – I always have a cup of coffee or tea with me when I work. It tastes so good and keeps me alert,

9. Headphones – I don’t like complete silence when I study. Usually I turn on some music, but lately I’ve been finding that a little too distracting. So I started using an online white noise generator (available free here). It is amazing, and really helps me focus.

10. Post-its – A law student’s arsenal would not be complete without them. I use them for tabbing my books and writing down reading assignments. Definitely part of my law school survival kit.

#2 Mike’s Desk (AKA studio away from studio):

1. Desktop computer – The easiest work to do at home is digital (since you don’t need those messy drafting or modelling supplies). A desktop is also way more comfortable to work on than a laptop.

2. Retro lamp – The light in the den isn’t the best, and this bendy lamp is a great way to augment it.

3. Wacom tablet – It’s easier to draw with pencil and paper but a tablet is great for lettering, colouring, and editing. Sometimes I use it as a mouse.

4. Pens – Not the most accurate instruments, I usually use these for quick sketches on the go.

5. LEGO Architecture sets – What do you get an architecture student for his or her birthday? I can’t get enough of these. They’re fun to put together (sometimes its good having direction), they make you feel like a kid again (or still), and they get even more interesting as you study the buildings they’re based on. Here I have Robie House and Fallingwater.

6. Books – Textbooks and case studies. I love a good monograph.

7. Moleskine sketchbook – A gift from Katie which I take with me everywhere. You should never let yourself forget an idea whether you’re on a bus, walk, or vacation.

8. Sketchbook – A larger sketchbook for notes, diagrams, and more intricate sketches. It won’t fit in your coat pocket but you’ll want to cart it back and forth to class.

As of late…

The first full week of November has almost come to a close. It’s been busy and stressful for both of us, but it’s also had some pretty great moments too. In case you’re curious, here’s what we’ve been up to this week:

1. Waking up super early and getting to enjoy the morning sun.
2. Listening to our Bahamas “Barchords” record on repeat.
3. Working on final projects and studying for exams.
4. Cooking lots of delicious Japanese food (more on this later!).
5. Enjoying Starbucks holiday-themed lattes.
6. Making our apartment more “green.”

Falling for Fort Needham Memorial Park

This weekend Mike and I headed out to do some thrifting at Plan B, a Merchant’s Co-op in Halifax’s North End. On the way, we stumbled across the Fort Needham Memorial Park. The park is home to an impressive memorial to the Halifax Explosion as well as some beautiful fall foliage. I couldn’t help but take some photos, and Mike couldn’t resist the urge to do a few sketches. The park is definitely one of my new favorite places in Halifax!


Made at Home: Pizzas with Pizzazz


Katie and I often fantasize about our dream home. Aside from secret passageways and a kitchen with beer on tap, we also dream of having our own wood-fired pizza oven. Until then, we make do with cranking the range up to 500.

Handmade pizza is easily one of our favorite foods. Below are our three rules to eat by when it comes to fine pie:

1. Make your own crust
A good crust can make all the difference. This is our go-to recipe for easy-as-pie crust, it makes about three thin-crust pizzas. Make sure to start at least an hour before you want to eat!

2 1/4 tsp dry yeast (quick-rise if you’re cutting it close on time)
1 1/3 cups warm water
3 1/3 cups flour
Optional: salt, olive oil

Stir the yeast and water together in a large bowl for 5 minutes. Mix in flour, adding salt if desired. Knead the dough, adding more flour if too sticky, until you feel it soften (you’ll know!). Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a cloth. Let rise for at least 2 hours (1 hour for quick-rise).

To cook, preheat your oven as hot as it goes. Knead the dough and pinch off a third for each pizza. Flour or butter (or both) your pizza pan. Roll your dough into the pan. After topping your pizza, bake it for 5-8 minutes.

2. Keep it simple
Don’t overload your pizza with too many toppings. Stick to 3 or 4 key ingredients. It’s cheaper, makes for more even baking, and the flavours don’t compete.

Along with mozzarella, the three pizzas above are topped with: spinach, chorizo sausage, tomato, and red pepper (although we agreed this could have done without the red pepper); eggs, English bacon, and cilantro; and avocado, English bacon, and cilantro.

3. Fresh is best
All of the toppings used above were bought and used fresh. The sausage and bacon are from Getaway Farm (in Canning, NS) and the spinach is from Elmridge Farm (in Centreville, NS). Fresh ingredients are more flavourful, colourful, and often healthier. They can make the difference between a good pizza and a great pizza!

Second-hand Steals


This week’s finds come from the city’s thrift stores and classifieds. We still can’t believe we found them all in one week! They are all previously (and now presently) loved.

1. Retro drafting chair – $20 from a classified ad
2. Plaid shirt & black-trimmed blouse – $16 from Section 96 (Halifax Refugee Clinic’s Second-hand Boutique)
3. Wooden Bass River Chair – $14 from 50 Hats
4. Vintage Brooch – $4 from Section 96
5. Pony-themed belt – $8 from 50 Hats
6. Wool socks – $2.50 from 50 Hats