Homemade Pasta Sauce

Thanks to a trade group that I’ve been obsessed with, I’ve managed to obtain a hilarious amount of canned tomatoes in various forms. Whole, crushed, and pureed… Got em all!

Homemade pasta sauce.jpg

So naturally I had to put them to good use so I made myself a lovely homemade pasta sauce with lots to spare for freezing.

The recipe consists of…

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 tsp red bell pepper flakes

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp basil

1 tbsp sugar

4 cloves of minced garlic

1 tbsp dried onion flakes

2 tbsp butter

salt and pepper to taste

1 can diced tomatoes (796ml)

1 can crushed tomatoes (796ml)

1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated

  1. Mix the oil,bell peppers, garlic, onion flakes, butter, sugar and spices in a large pot on medium heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

  2. Add the cans of tomatoes- simmer for 2 hours.

  3. When it’s finished, add the Parmesan.

Homemade pasta sauce

This filled 3- 500ml mason jars with ease. REMEMBER to let the sauce cool 100% if you plan to freeze it in a glass jar.

Homemade pasta sauce

7 Reasons Why You Should Adopt a Rabbit

And 7 reasons why you shouldn’t.

Flemish Giant Rabbits

Bunnies are some of the cutest creatures on the planet! (In my opinion) When I met my boyfriend he came with a little black rabbit and I was immediately in love. When she passed away from old age we really didn’t waste any time to expand our family again. The adoption agency we went through had SO many bunnies to choose from, we chose a bonded pair of Flemish giants Pepper (black one) and Clover (brown one).

With so many adorable bun buns up for adoption I wanted to take some time to talk about these amazing creatures in hopes I can inspire someone to take a bun home. The decision, however, should not be made lightly. Along with reasons to adopt a bunny I will also list off the reasons why someone shouldn’t adopt one.

Clover enjoying a hosta and our cat looking so confused!

Clover enjoying a hosta and our cat looking so confused!

Reasons to Adopt a Rabbit:

  1. You have someone to share your snack with. Want an apple but don’t want to eat the whole thing? No problem, cut it up and share with your bun!

  2. They have unique personalities. The character can be seen very quickly and not one is the same.

  3. Their litter is compostable and will do great things for your garden!

  4. They are clean animals and are easily litter trained.

  5. They are the softest thing you’ll ever touch.

  6. They are very social and won’t ignore you like a cat.

  7. Little lawn mowers! Some supervised outside time is a ton of fun and you get a free (albeit not even) lawn mow and manure!

Overall rabbits are great, however they are a lot of work. Now for some reasons a rabbit may not be for you.

They love chewing on boxes! And using them as houses… And eating their houses.

They love chewing on boxes! And using them as houses… And eating their houses.

Reasons NOT to Adopt a Rabbit:

  1. Maintenance, if you’re not ready to change a litter box daily or every other day, a rabbit may not be for you. They poop A LOT.

  2. If you’re allergic to hay: that’s their main food source.

  3. If you’re busy: Bunnies are very social creatures and can get lonely and depressed if left alone for too long.

  4. If you’re a clean freak…. There’s always shavings and hay everywhere.. Everywhere.

  5. If you have hardwood floor. Bunnies don’t have pads on their feeties like cats do so they can’t get traction on hard floors. Carpet all the way! Also, bunnies do NOT belong in a cage. They need to hop, stretch and roam- give them space! If you’re not ready to let them own your house, a bunny is not for you.

  6. They love cord. They find them. They destroy them.

  7. They can break your heart… We lost miss Clover suddenly due to an inner ear infection. She was gone within 48 hours from when the symptoms started. Even getting her to the vet and getting medication as quick as possible wasn’t enough to stop it. Rabbits also have sensitive tummies and can have issues quite quickly that can be fatal. And we lost Pepper almost as fast 4 months later from suspected kidney failure. You need to be strong to handle the heartbreak.

He looks dead but I promise this means he’s a happy boy!

He looks dead but I promise this means he’s a happy boy!

To summarize: Rabbits are great, but make sure you’re ready for that much poop. And I’m sure as you have seen in my photos, your floor will only be clean for about 20 minutes after you vacuum. A thing to remember as well is that these adorable creatures are prey animals so make sure that any other animals in the house know these cuties are friends not food.

Make them safe, happy and healthy. They’ll thank you with nose boops, flops and the occasional lick and it’s amazing.

Going Zero Waste

I’ve always been an advocate for avoiding overly processed foods or products that have an obscene amount of packaging, mainly for financial gains but now I’ve joined my generation in the efforts be become zero waste. (Or at the very least, as little waste as possible)

My beautiful collection of Mason jars

My beautiful collection of Mason jars

Some things I’m finding it difficult, my municipality requires me to put my kitty’s poops in a plastic bag before disposing (I get it, that urine is filled with bacteria), so until the day comes that Halifax figures out how to use animal poop as energy I am trapped in a cycle of plastic bags.

This however, has not deterred me from making as many changes as I can to reduce my waste and plastic use. Its a very slow process but slow is best because the whole process can be very overwhelming… You don’t realize how much plastic you use until you look around. The bathroom is a terrible place for plastic waste (mainly for sanitary reasons) from makeup to the toothpaste and body wash it’s all encased in a plastic shell.

It’s a slow change over in the bathroom, I have found a cosmetic company that makes their containers out of Bamboo (bonus points for being Canadian) https://elatebeauty.com/ they are also cruelty free and vegan and the containers are reusable!

For soap… I exclusively use bar soap which thankfully comes in a cardboard box, I also dabble in homemade soaps from my local market when I can. The shampoo and boyfriend’s body wash however is something I have yet to tackle.

Lastly toothpaste…. I’ve read articles on people making their own to avoid the waste, this is certainly something I intent to look into but I am still a little ways out for that step.

My kitchen has been my main focus, I love to cook and bake as it is so leveling up my skills by making homemade condiments, breads and sauces has been an easy transition. I was pleased when I looked in my fridge the other day and the only single use plastics were the milk jug and a package of bacon.

The pantry has been incredibly easy with stores like the Bulk Barn allowing me to bring in my own containers which keeps things affordable. Costco is also my best friend with having nice big 10KG bags of flour to take home and utilize.

I’ve also started reusing as many containers as possible, reminds me of the memes you see of trying to find the butter an Grandma’s because she has leftovers in all her reused containers! I remember my mom talking about her mother saving the wax paper that came in the cereal boxes to wrap sandwiches in.. This is me.

The cake business will most likely be my last venture once I get my personal waste use down, I know there will be challenges with freshness that will come up so I’ll be taking that one step by step.

I will be sharing recipes as I find ones that work. I’m currently experimenting with my favorite snack- Beef Jerky along with a Mustard recipe that tastes like French’s … Still some work to be done on both.

Understanding Mononucleosis

So to say that the past couple of months have been challenging is an understatement… It all started at the beginning of October; we tragically lost our little girl Clover at the age of 2 and a half. (She’s below helping me mow the lawn back August <3 )


Next up: about a week later my father in law was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.

Then of course the #3 was that I caught Mono… Grown woman caught the “kissing disease” I was thrilled. After a quick scan of the internet to better understand what is going on in my mouth and body I realized that there’s really not a lot of information available..

Things I learned from the internet:

  1. It’s spread by saliva.

  2. You get a fever.

  3. You get tired.

  4. You’re gonna be tired for awhile.

  5. Sore throat and headache.

Understanding Mono

Things I experienced:

  1. My throat was on fire.

  2. My lymph nodes swelled up so big it felt like there was 2 golf balls in my neck. It horrifically restricted my vocal cords.

  3. (TMI) I was producing so much phlegm every few hours I had to vomit to relieve myself. It was easy though- just took a deep breath, and away we went!

  4. Oh yeah I was tired… One day according to my Fitbit I slept for 16 hours.

  5. My head was on fire and no amount of drugs helped. Ice pack would bring some relief.

  6. The flu like symptoms (fever) were the easiest part of the whole experience.

  7. No brain power, couldn’t even read… I spent a week and a half playing idle games on my tablet when I wasn’t sleeping. Killed me.

Things I learned from my doctor and nurses I worked with:

  1. Yes, it is spread by saliva but it can be contracted as easily as touching a shopping cart. (infected person touches face then touches cart; I then proceed to touch cart and touch face) This realization on how easy it spreads was a relief, because looking at the internet information made me more confused and frustrated than anything: how did this happen? I don’t share drinks, I don’t kiss random strangers… How did this happen?

  2. You essentially have tonsillitis without being able to medicate it with antibiotics. The only thing you can do to recover is rest and hydration because it’s viral and not bacterial.

  3. Working an 8 hour day is impossible, and I was immediately pulled from work.

I couldn’t believe the extreme symptoms from Mono, with no ability to mediate it aside from some pain killers. The information available really sugar coated the whole experience- it was a personal hell.

I wanted to take some time to talk about it because it was so much more extreme than anything that is available on WebMD or whatever you choose to use to try to diagnose yourself while you wait at a walk-in clinic.

The biggest thing I learned through the whole experience was rest and hydration is the most important thing. Even after my energy came back, I could only do something for an hour or two before I needed a rest.

I was so lucky that I started to feel human again after about a week and a half when my taste buds came back I thought I was in the clear. Unfortunately, my doctor didn’t feel the same way. Giving that it’s a serious viral infection she only wanted me to start back up at work 3 days a week.. So for the rest of 2018 I’m only working Monday, Wednesday and Friday’s to give myself a day to recover after a day at work. It’s a weird feeling after working full time or very close to since I was 16, and I can’t take advantage of the days off like I would like to… But it’s giving me time to reflect and brainstorm life. I’ve been told by loved ones and physicians who barely know me that some of these extreme symptoms may have come on because I push myself too much… That was really food for thought because I’ve always been proud of my busy lifestyle. I guess as you get older it’s not as easy to keep going in all directions.

The rest of this year I’m going to work on improving myself physically and mentally and hopefully something like this won’t happen again.. (thankfully you can only get mono once in your life) I still can’t exercise much so I’m considering taking up light yoga and meditation.

One last thing I will say as well, I am so grateful to have a family doctor. In Nova Scotia it’s a rarity right now- most are stuck on wait lists because our family doctors are retiring faster than they are being recruited. I don’t know where I would be without her right now and as much as I know I need to tone down the amount of things I take on, I’d really like to help with attracting family doctors to Nova Scotia in the future.

Friends Cupcakes

I got the honor to do a batch of FRIENDS inspired cupcakes!

These were for a bachelorette party which was a nice change of pace from doing * ahem * body part cakes for these sort of events.

This post contains affiliate links for some of my favorite products.

FRIENDS inspired cupcakes

We went with some awesome quotes- my favorites were “PIVOT” and “It’s the humidity!”. I am a huge FRIENDS fan and the Pivot episode is easily my favorite, I still die of laughter every time I watch it.

The humidity quote spoke to me, not only because I have the same issue as Monica when it comes to my hair, but making these cupcakes was in a classic Nova Scotia humid summer.

FRIENDS cupcakes

Below is a few items I used to make the cupcakes.

Review: Bap House Korean Kitchen

I snuck away from my kitchen over the weekend to check out one of Halifax's new restaurants with some good friends. We tried out Bap House on Quinpool Rd. 

It was a little tricky to see at first, Quinpool can be a little congested but once you know what you're looking for you can distinguish it from the busy street.

Immediately when we walked in we were greeted by a very enthusiastic woman, I'm assuming she was the owner. She took the time to tell us about the menu, how the food is prepared and even how to eat it in an authentic Korean manner.

The menu is short and sweet. They serve Bibimbap as the main course, however due to the nature of the bibimbap you could easily have a different dish every time you visit. The dish is completely customized to your pallet. 

Bap House Menu

This restaurant takes a lot of pride in their food, they don't use any MSG, the veggies used are the ones locally in stock for the season and it's all made fresh.

The presentation of the meal was right out of a magazine, all 4 of the dishes we ordered were arranged just like this.

The presentation of the meal was right out of a magazine, all 4 of the dishes we ordered were arranged just like this.

I ordered the noodle Bibimbap combo which came with Miso soup and I got the dish with beef, egg and spicy sauce- we were instructed to mix it up with the chop sticks and consume it with the spoon (thank goodness I am terrible with chop sticks)

Everything about this meal was delicious, the spice wasn't overpowering so you could genuinely enjoy the taste of every ingredient and the woman came back to check on us a number of times.

She was even generous enough to make us a set of dumplings for free to sample. Let me tell you I could easily eat 20 of those things- Delicious.

My sole critique was that my ahem... hearty North American tummy was not filled by this delicious dish, I could have easily eaten 3 more bowls however for the $14 before tax and tip price tag that really wasn't a good idea. I would recommend coming to this restaurant if you need something to get you between lunch and dinner, around 2PM when you need a snack. Since the food is preservative free and fresh there's no guilt for having a mid afternoon snack here.

The Beginners Guide to Automobile Insurance

So this post is going to be a little different... We're going to talk about automobile insurance (I know, I know....) but as I go through my day job (As an Insurance agent) I realize that first time drivers/ car owners really have no idea what they're purchasing.

The Beginners Guide to auto insurance

Disclaimer: Although I am a professional Insurance agent, every insurance company and provincial regulation is different, so to get proper advise you should speak directly with your broker or agent. 

I am hopeful this post will give some clarification for new drivers (or even experienced drivers that just pay that bill every year and don't think much of it) It's an odd feeling paying for an invisible protection so I'm hopeful I can give people some peace of mind.

The Coverage (What are we paying for)

Automobile Insurance coverage's are divided into 2 different sections.

1. Mandatory Coverage's- Third Party Liability;

2. Optional Coverage's- Loss or Damage to your vehicle and other optional endorsements;

Third Party Liability

This coverage has multiple subsections including Liability, Accident Benefits, Uninsured Motorist, Direct Compensation Property Damage (In some provinces), and lastly Family protection.

Liability coverage: Simplest way to put it is that this will protect you if you cause an accident or damage to someone else's property or (heaven forbid) the other person. If you are held responsible for damage and expected to pay to repair/ compensate the other person your liability insurance will react and pay on your behalf (up to the stated amount).

Accident Benefits: This provides you with access to medical funds if you're injured in an accident (regardless if you caused the accident or not).

Uninsured Motorist: This coverage extends your accident benefit coverage to situations where the other motorist can't be identified or was uninsured at the time of the accident.

Direct Compensation Property Damage: A coverage in place in some provinces that ensures that you'll only ever deal with your own insurance company- regardless of who caused the accident. This coverage was put in place to avoid those lengthy (and costly) investigations before people would be compensated. To summarize: Someone hits you (so it's not your fault)- You call your insurance company- you arrange a repair with them-  The vehicle is repaired and you go on with your life.

As opposed to what it used to be like (and still is in some places) Someone hits you- you call your insurance company- you wait for the other person to call their insurance company- you then wait for the insurance companies do an investigation to determine who is to blame (this still happens to an extent on DCPD but not to the inconvenience to the client)- Fault is determined (eventually)- Repairs are arranged and paid for by the other insurer. 

Finally, Family Protection: This coverage will protect yourself and your family against motorists that are under insured or not insured at all. The sad thing is that minimum provincial requirements are simply not enough sometimes so this coverage will fill those voids if need be.

Loss or Damage to your own Automobile

This coverage also has subsections: All Perils, Collision, Comprehensive and Specified Perils.

I will start with the most common coverage's: Collision and Comprehensive

Collision: If you cause an accident (even a single vehicle accident like backing into a pole) and your vehicle is damaged- the collision coverage will repair your vehicle (subject to a deductible) 


Comprehensive: This is for claims that aren't really "collisions" like fire, theft of the vehicle, vandalism, falling objects, cracked windshields or that dang deer that came out of nowhere! Also subject to a deductible.

Now for the coverage's that are less popular:

All Perils: This is essentially collision and comprehensive coverage combined. It has one deductible for everything and comes with one extra coverage - If someone living in your home steals your car and crashed it there is coverage. 

It's scary to think that a coverage like that isn't included in the more popular coverage's however if you live with good, trustworthy people HOPEFULLY this isn't a concern to begin with.


Specified Perils: It's a list of specific things that will be covered, it's unpopular as it excludes falling objects which is pretty much how everyone gets a crack in their windshield.


Finally the last sections of coverage I'll talk about briefly today is optional endorsements: there's a ton of approved endorsements out there to get you a rental vehicle after an accident, extension of coverage for rental vehicles, protection for new vehicles, protection against your first at fault accident- the list goes on! These endorsements will enhance your policy to work for you.

That is all I'll talk about today, insurance is far from interesting but it is a necessary protection in our society and I hope I can help more people understand what they're protected for.

Ketchup Cake

I had the honor of getting to make a really fun cake for my friend's kid's 4th birthday. All he wanted was a ketchup cake! You heard me.. A ketchup cake!

I had very strict instructions that it was not to be ketchup flavored simply shaped like a ketchup bottle.

I ended up using a wine bottle cake pan for the cake itself. I had bought this pan for my own birthday cake this past year and figured I'd never have a use for it every again!

My black forest wine bottle cake!

My black forest wine bottle cake!

I was actually thinking about selling it.. Glad I didn't as it worked perfectly! The pan itself is not quite as big as 2 8" cakes so with the leftover batter I also made a couple of cupcakes that made for great tomatoes.

The ketchup cake!

The ketchup cake!


I decided to mimic the President's Choice Ketchup bottle- as much as it was tempting to mimic the classic Heinz Bottle- I really wanted to showcase a Canadian product in my cake (even if the 4 year old has no idea) considering the exposure the cake would get and my strong stand on locally sourced products... It just seemed right.

Ketchup cake

I got some great feedback on my facebook page on this cake! 

Scott said: Thank you Nicole for this kick ass, amazing, non-ketchup made ketchup-cake you made for Ronan’s 4th Birthday cake. It was awesome and delicious

Judy said: Ronan loved his cake! Great job Nicole!

Kathryn said: Thank you Nicole, he loved it!

Angela said: Such a great idea for my kids next birthday lol

Natasha said: Love it it looks fantastic.

Colin said: I am really glad that cake wasn't actually ketchup flavored. Thanks.