A Foodie Guide to Halifax

Once again its been a hot minute since we’ve checked in with all of you (anybody still here…Mom??…Bueller??) For those of you that have stayed with us through our long periods of inactivity we really appreciate it – as I’m sure you can all relate life just gets in the way sometimes and as much as we enjoy blogging and sharing photos and stories with you guys recently we’ve been stepping back and really being present in our “IRL” lives and other projects.

To recap you on the past few months – Erica has been off being a kick-ass Momma to the most beautiful little girl (clearly no bias here) and learning lots about motherhood and living in Kingston. With the excitement of this new phase she has also launched her own blog to share her Momma adventures with all of you, she’s created a really beautiful and knowledgable space over there (again no bias). If you want to check that out here’s the link: The YGK Mom.

As for me, I’ve been plugging away at grad school and working various other jobs on the side trying to “taste all the flavours” and figure out what exactly I want to be when I grow up. I’ll be sure to keep you posted when I figure this one out. In the meantime, one of the very few benefits of being in grad school (#overworkedunderpaid) is getting to travel to conferences and have most of your expenses compensated – which is how my most recent trip to Halifax happened. I tagged along on a friend’s free ride, with cheap flights (out of Hamilton – why isn’t everyone doing this?! It was such a breeze – the 7 minutes from leaving the plane to being out the doors of the airport kinda breeze – I wish all travel was this enjoyable) and the idea of escaping academic life for a few days.

Halifax did not disappoint. It has never disappointed, to be honest. There’s something about this city that has always felt like home to me and I plan on one day making this a reality. But for now, I’ll take my weekend getaways with all of the great food, drinks, waterfront views, and the best kind of company.

Here’s a quick summary of our trip – the must eats and drinks – and where I’m dying to try the next time I go!


  • Black Sheep Restaurant – we went here for brunch and it rocked our socks! The location is kinda hidden off of Dresden Row but its worth trying to find. I had the fish cakes (delish) and they give you the option to do half & half salad and fries (freakin’ genius!)
  • 2 Doors Down – we had dinner here on Friday night and were super glad we did. They have a really fun cocktail list – I had a bourbon based one that I can’t remember the name of (blame the bourbon) and Tia had a beer based cocktail. We shared the calamari to start, which wasn’t really anything to write home about but was good BUT the lobster and crab risotto was AMAZING – there were pieces of smoked bacon, crab, lobster and kale pesto topped with fried scallops. It’s so dreamy you won’t want it to end.
  • Ristorante a mano – Tia was feeling Italian on our second night in town so we found this place online with good reviews. We shared some pizzas which were great but not unlike other wood fired oven pizzas I’ve had in Toronto or Kingston but we had a lot of fun there, we sat at the pizza bar which I would highly recommend – you get to watch them make all the pizzas and we asked a gazillion questions. Also, there’s a starter which is basically a pizza crust stuffed with cheese and truffle oil HELLO. All the heart eyes. Its called the Sgabello GET IT.


  • Rockbottom Brewpub – This was our first stop in the city, conveniently located right across from our hotel (The Lord Nelson). Not my favourite atmosphere but the beer was great and we had some nachos that were loaded with toppings, just how nachos are supposed to be.
  • Bearly’s – We followed Rockbottom up with Bearly’s to see the Mellotones play – if these guys are playing while you’re in town don’t miss them! I typically wouldn’t be interested in their funk, soul, R&B vibes but they are amazing! Also, Bearly’s is a really neat layout and everyone in the place was dancing up a storm.
  •  Good Robot Brewing Company – Craft beer is really having its time in the spotlight almost everywhere in Canada right now but especially in Halifax, I’m pretty sure Nova Scotia has the most craft breweries per capita AKA a recipe for a good time. My uncle is really into the craft beer scene so he took me for a beer at Good Robot. Great atmosphere and they have a beer and “silent reading” night where you can just go, bring along some reading, and enjoy a pint in complete silence. This speaks to me on a seriously intimate level.
  • Lion & Bright – My uncle also took me here – this would definitely be a place I would set up shop and do some work if I lived in Hali. According to my uncle it also gets very animated when they bring in live music in the evenings – admittedly its hard to picture this when you’re there in the day but I would be down to test this theory. I’d also really like to eat here – it looks tasty AF.
  • The Old Triangle – Always the best east coast music – just go here and email me if you’re mad you did. You won’t be.

Places to Try (that I didn’t get the chance to)

My last notes are to please check out the Halifax Public Library it was my first time seeing this space and it blew my mind and also was my number one add to the “list of reasons to live here” that I have going. Lastly, don’t forget to grab a donair before you leave town, its a Halifax staple for a reason.

IMG_6944fullsizeoutput_22e7The fish cake brunch (with half fries & half salad) at Black Sheep Restaurant.IMG_6947Fifth Floor library views – I mean come on!fullsizeoutput_22e9Cocktails at 2 Doors Down.fullsizeoutput_22e8The taste bud exploding risotto also at 2 Doors Down.fullsizeoutput_2264Halifax Farmer’s Market – live music and all.fullsizeoutput_22eafullsizeoutput_2298fullsizeoutput_22ebSad to be leaving – can you tell??fullsizeoutput_22acStaying at The Lord Nelson really ruined me.

Anchors aweigh!


4 Christmas DIY/Hacks on a Budget


It’s the most wonderful timeeeee of the yearrrrr….  and sometimes the most expensive!

This year I am on parental leave so this means two things- I don’t have much (read:any) extra spending money and I am also home more and have had a bit more time to be creative this holiday season!  So, I thought I would do a post on four inexpensive ways to luxe up your holiday decor!

  1. Think outside the box. This year I used a bunch of outdoor string lights on my tree! I bought multiple packages of these lights back when Target was closing here in Canada for our wedding in 2014. We didn’t end up using them for wedding so the last two years I have been using them as extra lights for my tree!!! They are a softer light, add decorations to the tree AND saved me from going out and buying more lights! Think about other seasonal items you might have in your home- from lights to little trinkets the you might be able to hang on your tree! Or maybe the clearance rack at your local home goods store still has patio lights?!img_7983
  2. Liven up your garland! This year I really wanted luxe live garland to drape on my staircase. Our stairs are one of the focal points of our kitchen and I felt they needed a little Christmas love. To go out and buy live garland in those kinds of lengths (approx. 20 ft) would have cost a fortune! As an alternative I picked up some faux garland from Canadian Tire. We then secured this to the bannister with zip ties and then I cut off branches around our yard of pine, spruce and cedar. I grabbed a package of floral wire (90 stems) for 1 dollar (from Dollarama) and then secured pieces of the live greenery to the faux garland. It now looks super full and dare I say, luxe as heck!  I tied long pieces of scrap beige denim around the zip ties in a simple knot in replace of bows.  Here is the before and after.img_7808img_7957
  3. Dollar store!!!  Take some time walking around your local dollar store to see what you can find. Here are two things I found from the Dollarama near me recently. 1) Willow stems that I styled in a tall white vase for our mantel to add some height. What’s great about these is that they will be able to stay up all winter, not just for the holidays! 2) I was a really wanting some ball garland for my tree this year- I found some great stuff at Home Sense and Michaels.. but either were in the budget. Hello my friend.. Dollarama.. I found these great styrofoam ball strands for a $1.25 a strand. They probably won’t last more than a year or two.. but who cares?! I’ll probably be over them by then anyway!  img_7982img_7981img_7977
  4. A “little” goes a long way. I love switching up my dining room tablescape! One way I am able to do this on a budget are these vases that you see on the table. Originally they were from our wedding back in 2014- all painted gold and originally thrifted from Value Village. This summer I painted a bunch of them white. The key here is that these vases have a super SMALL openings! They can’t take a lot of flowers or plants and thus- saving you money. Think if you had 5-6 of these for your table.. picked up a small bunch of flowers from Costco or the grocery store for 10-15 bucks and then stuck a few strands in each vase! Not bad, right??  For the holidays this year I opted for magnolia leaves because they should last the entire month. I picked these up for under 5 bucks a bunch at Wal-Mart and then styled them in my trusty vases. I used approximately two bunches here.   img_7854

What do you think? Helpful? What are your thrifty DIYs for the holidays?

Anchors aweigh!



We have been celebrating the arrival of Baby McIlquham since the day we found out about her, but this past weekend we had an official celebration for both the Mommy-to-Bee and my soon to be niece!

The “bee” theme started with the e-vite we sent out months ago and because Erica and Ben have a special connection to “the bee’s knees”. We decided to keep going with this theme because although Erica and Ben are expecting a little girl they aren’t big lovers of pink and this idea naturally lends itself to more of a yellow colour-scheme, which is also Erica’s favourite colour – perfect! We rented out the main floor of a bed and breakfast here in Oshawa to hold the shower so we didn’t have to go too heavy with the decorating as the place was already quite beautiful! (We were disappointed with the catering and service at this place though, so not sure we would recommend it again).

We were so happy to have both family and friends together to celebrate this exciting time for Erica and Ben! We know they are going to be the best parents ever and going to raise a strong and beautiful little girl.

We can’t wait to meet her!


(The cake was from Aunt Audrey’s in Oshawa – it was not only cute but tasted delicious!)IMG_0468IMG_0477IMG_0482IMG_0488IMG_3674IMG_3711

Anchors aweigh!


Birthday Dinner at Backhouse


Full disclosure: I just spent some time myself getting caught up on the blog. Is Utah not the cutest pup ever?? Also those pictures of my sister in that cute dress are stunning!! I need to read this thing more often!

2016 is off to a busy but exciting start! We really are going to try and commit to having some more regular content up here-we have both just been really busy (which we are super grateful for) and with the new year I’m making an intention to be more present in my everyday life and relationships so this sometimes means forgetting to photograph these moments. So bare with us, and I’m sure 2016 is going to bring some great content!

I celebrated my 24th birthday this past weekend. I was lucky enough to get to spend the day with the best of friends and family. As cheesy as this sounds it truly makes me the most happy to get to have everyone together in one room and to start my next year with everyone I love (there were a few missing of course). My birthday always falls at a strange time of year- the hecticness of Christmas has just subsided and friends and family are heading back to school or work- so this makes getting everyone together really tough and is usually a very rare occurrence. Hence me being over the moon to have my #ladysquad, Ma, Pa, sister, and brother-in-law all make the trip to come and visit! You guys are literally the best.

One of my friends who is from St. Catharines had heard about Backhouse a few months ago, and knowing me as the foodie that I am, suggested that her and I go for dinner there. We’ve been trying for months to make a plan but again, with the busy schedules and wrapping up of the year we still had not managed to get there, and my birthday provided the perfect opportunity to make a reservation and stick with it. And let me tell you, I am so happy I did! Backhouse preaches farm to table cuisine that’s in season and local. They do all of this with the utmost deliciousness and beautiful presentation.

They started us off with complimentary champagne for toasting the occasion, hello good first impression. As a table we decided to do the blind tasting 3 course menu which I would highly suggest. It was an easy decision for us because we are all quite into food and were excited to not know what would be coming next, also the price was right. Check out the pictures below to see what we indulged in:

Sidenote: the decor, atmosphere, and friendly staff were the cherry on top of the delicious food. I truly believe those 3 things can make a huge difference to a dining experience. We not only left feeling fully satisfied but were making plans to return and hang out in that beautiful space…and of course try a few other things that caught our eye on the menu.

My #ladysquad & best dinner companions.


Started with a beef tartare.

A little look into the kitchen- you can do a special tasting menu at the chef’s bar- might have to be our next trip!IMG_2443

Next up: squash soup with a creme fraiche and black garlic powder, and homemade light and dark rye bread (they used the whey leftover from the homemade cheese they make-ingenious).IMG_2444

A roasted onion- you would seriously never believe an onion could taste this good!IMG_2446

Our main: beef cooked to perfection on what we think was a bulgar-like risotto with some crispy kale. (THIS WAS MELT IN YOUR MOUTH AMAZING).IMG_2448

What we thought was the end was a delicious chocolate cake with peanut butter ice-cream (it’s like they knew I was coming-chocolate cake is one of my top 3 favourite things- followed by red wine & coffee).IMG_2449

Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better they finished it off with a homemade toasted champagne-flavoured marshmallow on the most perfect branch you ever did see. This might have been our favourite part…we were 2 glasses of wine in and easily excitable!

Thank you Backhouse for making my birthday one of the best ones yet! I hope 24 is full of good eats like this one!

Anchors aweigh!

Just “Folking” Around


This past weekend we journeyed out to Ottawa for the CityFolk music festival! It was a 5 day festival with many big headliners and tons of talent; from Walk off the Earth, The Avett Brothers, The Sheepdogs, and Lucinda Williams to Van Morrison (!!!), Of Monsters and Men, and Passenger. We would recommend this festival to anyone who is a fan of folk music, we were super impressed with how organized and clean the venue was, plus the location (Lansdowne Park) was amazing- only a $11 cab from downtown Ottawa and it was surrounded by lots of good restaurants and bars that made planning a day at the festival super easy. CityFolk also organized this smaller festival within itself that they called “Marvest” it was in a pavilion filled with booths from local craft breweries, and artisans along with other local musical acts.

We spent the weekend listening to great music, drinking craft beer and exploring Ottawa- there’s nothing better!

The main stage at Landsdowne Park.


Walk Off the Earth played Somebody That I Used to Know all on the same guitar- just like the video-unreal!



The Avett Brothers killed it- insert heart eyed emoji here.IMG_1407

Beautiful Ottawa!IMG_1436

Obligatory CityFolk car pic.IMG_1528

Inside of the Ravenlaw venue- waiting out the rain on Saturday night.IMG_1550 Van Morrison!!! Seriously a top of the bucket list item for me (Erica has been lucky enough to see him a few times before); we joked on the weekend how Van (yes we’re on a first name basis) is built into our DNA- we were raised and very possibly conceived to his music.IMG_1682 Pit stop at Rosie’s for drinks before the concert- this place had the best nautical decor and vibes-not to mention delicious cocktails!IMG_1683 IMG_1700 We may or may not have sat at the autograph table and pretended to be a band called The Sneakers.IMG_1719 IMG_1735 IMG_1738 Strolling through the market.IMG_1749We can’t wait for next year!

Anchors aweigh!

Day Trip to Fogo Island


My last post from my vacation spent on the East coast is dedicated to the beautiful island of Fogo. Heading back to Botwood form our time spent in Twillingate we decided to make a pit stop in Fogo. This was the first time I have ever been, but what I am hoping won’t be the last- it was a beautiful place with unbelievable architecture and lots of local art. It’s about a 45 minute ferry ride over to the island, and then there are 7 little towns on the island of Fogo- we explored 4 of them- Tilting, Joe Batt’s Arm, Seldom and the fishing community of Fogo. (Just to give you an idea to drive the length of the whole island is only a little over 30 minutes).

Fogo has recently been recognized for the construction of its newest hotel which has really acted as a revitalization project for the community. A woman originally from Fogo Island, made some good investments in an online company and when she was able to retire at 43, a millionaire, she decided to invest some of this money back into her community by building this inn and promoting all things local-including media, art, and food. Read more about her here. I can’t begin to explain how beautiful the Fogo Island Inn is- from the outside architecture, to the interior design, and down-home Newfoundland feeling you get when you walk in the doors. Her team did an amazing job at conceptualizing such a luxurious (apparently on average its upwards of $800 for 1 night- many people have been flying in on helicopters to sometimes just eat or stay here!) but still truly local Newfoundland spot. I hope someday to be able to stay here! (You can see more on the Inn here and here).

Take a look at some of our travels around Fogo Island!

One of the small local art studios in Tilting- the architecture is absolutely stunning!

IMG_9793Stopped for lunch at Nicole’s Cafe- highly recommended! All locally sourced food- we had calamari, turkey soup, a burger, and a crab panini!image

The Fogo Island Inn- breathtaking right?? It is located in the town of Joe Batt’s Arm.

IMG_9798Family selfies in front of the Fogo Island Inn.

The lobby of the Inn.IMG_9810The art gallery open to the public inside the Inn.

IMG_9819And the library- the shelves are stocked with mostly local authors.

IMG_9822Mom enjoying taking a break inside the Inn.



IMG_9856Walking across the bog on a boardwalk to another small artist studio in the town of Fogo.image

Wishing I was an artist so I could stay here for a few months- what a view!


Fogo Head Trail- one of the four corners of the Earth as declared by the Flat Earth Society- yet another reason to visit Fogo- bucket list check!

IMG_9873Anchors aweigh!

Havin’ a Time in Twillingate


Yesterday I talked all about the fun we had cod jigging in Twillingate- but our time spent in this beautiful town was filled with much more than just that! We got to explore many of the breathtaking sites and hiking trails in the area and let me tell ya- there’s no shortage of these around!

Another first Newfoundland experience happened for me while we were exploring some of the waterfront by boat-whale sightings! We actually had one sighting of minke whales while on a beautiful hike around Spiller’s Cove and another humpback whale sighting while we were cod jigging- this time was really cool we got to see them blow out of their spout and everything! As you can see by the numerous pictures below I had a hard time narrowing down our shots- there’s just too many beautiful sites to see in Twillingate!

On our way into Twillingate we stopped here because they have a preserved whale skeleton down by the shore- but we ended up taking pictures with the fishermen instead!


IMG_9220A view of Uncle Phil and Mike’s beautiful retiree oasis-their home and guest suite/garage- we were so lucky to get to spend some time here-it is absolutely beautiful!

IMG_9241Mom and I at the beginning of our climb up Pike’s Arm- obligatory “Newfoundland flag photo”

IMG_9677The view from the top of the climb-everything is so lush!

IMG_9653Group selfie at the top of Pike’s Arm!

Back in Twillingate- the view from Uncle Phil and Mike’s place with a low tide- pretty unreal right?IMG_9239Another quick stop we made on our way to buy dory boat models from the sweetest local man.

IMG_9620Enjoying the great weather in Twillingate on the back deck.


And our hike of Spiller’s Cove ensues!

IMG_9527I mean- come on!! I could look at this all day!IMG_9506

IMG_9494The colour of the water makes you feel like you’re in a tropical paradise.

IMG_9486Rocky beaches- no sand to be found. “The Rock” really lives up to it’s name.



IMG_9638I know I said before that the best sunsets in the world were from Nan’s backyard in Botwood but I think they might have some new competition…

I love this shot- you can see the sun setting in the window in the place on the right.IMG_9751Anchors aweigh!

Salt Water Joys


Cod jigging in Twillingate was probably the highlight of my Newfoundland trip! For those of you that don’t know, jigging is a form of fishing where you use a hand line with a hook on the end….no reel involved here ladies and gents! It was a first for me and most certainly won’t be a last! We are so lucky to have family with a beautiful home and boat in Twillingate and who are willing to put up with our crazy mainlander excitement of getting out on the water and trying to catch our year-long supply of cod fish.

I must confess that a big reason why I probably loved the jigging was because the fish were so plentiful this year and it was actually a struggle to get your line to the bottom before getting a bite…I’m not sure I would have been so excited if I had to be out there all day to get our 15 fish (the fisheries put this limit on 1 boat, or 5 per person). But the fish were being hauled into the boat one after another and none of us could take the smile off our faces! (My uncles caught their 15 fish in 12 minutes 1 morning…12 minutes! That’s less than a minute per fish! INSANE!!)

Anyways, what I’m basically saying is that I give you all permission to call me fisherwoman Melanie from here on out!

My first cod fish! Too bad the picture cut him off cause he was a nice sized little guy!
IMG_9298I don’t think Uncle Mike can smile any bigger! Proud of his catch! (I’d like to point out that this was not his first fish…he had a scoplin on the line for quite some time before)

IMG_9315The stage where you do all of the cleaning and filleting of the fish…cute right??

IMG_9273Dad enjoying the view.
IMG_9320We hit a gold mine of cod!!

IMG_9351Somebody’s got to clean the boat…


And so the real fun begins…image

Gutting, de-tongueing and filleting our catch!IMG_9366

The ingenious trap door where all of the fish guts go straight into the ocean.IMG_9372

Action shot! Flying fish guts!

More fileting fun! You can only imagine the smell in this place…IMG_9387

While they were filleting I was giving the fish a couple of fun last seconds being whole!IMG_9401

Trying my hand at filleting…it’s way harder than it looks!IMG_9403

Can’t wait to eat these delicious filets! I think we are going to have to start coming up with some creative ways to eat cod…IMG_9410

Anchors aweigh!

Cod & Lobster & Crab OH MY!


In addition to the breathtaking scenery and being home to the friendliest people on the planet, Newfoundland also has some of the best eats on the East coast, another reason that makes vacationing there such a treat! From the berries to the fish, all of it just seems to have so much more flavour than what we can get here in Ontario, even the strawberries my Pop picked while we were there were more red and juicier. Something about that salt water air I tell ya!

According to the locals, this Summer in particular, has been a cod fish gold mine, the most plentiful they’ve seen it in years. Which made for an amazing time cod jigging and could turn anyone into a fisherman/woman (I seriously contemplated this lifestyle after pulling in multiple decent sized cod fish in a matter of minutes- more on this tomorrow!). Take a look below at how we enjoyed some of our favourite Newfie treats!

There weren’t many bake apples to be found while we were there but the few we got were tasty!

IMG_9138Newfoundland blueberries in our pancakes for one of our breakfasts in Twillingate.
IMG_9599A few trout my Dad and Pop caught- aren’t they beautiful?! And they’re tasty fried up!
IMG_9135IMG_9141It wouldn’t be an Elliott vacation without deep frying a turkey- my Dad has a bit of an obsession with this.IMG_9205I love this shot of the capelin drying in Uncle Phil and Mike’s yard in Twillingate.
IMG_9223There was no shortage of cod while we were on the Rock- we ate it in all of its many delicious forms- pictured here are the tongues from some of the cod fish we caught in Twillingate being fried up by Uncle Mark- if you can get past the “tongue” part these are some tasty little nugget by’s.imageCod done the classic way-fish n’chips.IMG_9590

Pan fried cod for the Elliott family fish fry in Nan’s backyard- Uncle Mark is the master of fish frying.
imageCod in yet another form- au gratin.
We were so lucky to get to eat some of the most delicious meals of our trip in Twillingate, on our last night there Uncle Phil and Mike treated us to a scoff of lobsters, crab legs, and mussels- how much better does it get?!
IMG_9714 IMG_9729


Anchors aweigh!

Botwood, Northern Arm, Phillip’s Head & Point Leamington


It has been a week since I’ve been back from my trip to Newfoundland and I already want to go back! Our parents are both originally from Botwood, Newfoundland so I’ve been lucky to visit quite a few times before- but I have to say that this was my favourite trip to The Rock thus far! I think it was a combination of getting older and being able to appreciate more of the Newfie culture and camaraderie (and of course being able to indulge in some East coast beers and liquors) and also getting to see more of the island than I ever had before. We had the opportunity this trip to do some more tourist type things which we normally wouldn’t and I got to experience lots of Newfoundland firsts-cod jigging, whale sightings, Fogo Island touring (stay tuned for a post on this later in the week), and all of this touring only made me want to see more of the island- already mentally planning for my next trip!

With all that being said, Botwood, has and will always be the home base for us. It’s a very small town but has some of the best people, views, and blue berries you could ever want! A trip to Newfoundland wouldn’t be the same without this little piece of heaven- take a look below at some of the snapshots from Botwood and surrounding towns of Northern Arm, Phillip’s Head, and Point Leamington.

This is my “you know you’re in Newfoundland when” signIMG_9074Dad fishing on the bank at Pop’s old cabin.IMG_9091Selfies with cousin Sam on the beach at Nan’s place. imageOld gun battery in Phillip’s head was cool to walk through.

Taking advantage of the nice weather for a stroll on Killick Island, Botwood.


Abandoned building in Phillip’s Head.

IMG_9122View from a fishing hole just outside of Botwood.IMG_9154Dad testing his luck at Mill River in Point Leamington (unfortunately no salmon biting). IMG_9176 IMG_9178Family selfies before Botwood Day on the base.


Campfires on Nan’s beach are one of the top moments from every Newfoundland trip.

The best sunsets in the world from Nan’s backyard.IMG_9906 IMG_9908

Anchors aweigh!