Pre-owned Local Shops

The holidays are approaching and I keep thinking to myself, how can we reduce our waste this season? One way to reduce our waste this holiday season is by gifting pre-owned presents. If you think about it, every pre-owned garment purchased means one less new garment being produced. Each new item produced requires an immense amount of energy. I have found some of the most unique items while browsing through these shops and want to share a short guide with you.

Ottawa has a great vintage, preloved and secondhand shop scene that is spread across the city. You will be pleasantly surprised by the selection at these shops.

The Clothes Secret

This consignment shop is conveniently located in Old Ottawa South on Bank St. They have a great instagram account where they often showcase their newest products. They receive new product every week and you can always find classic and fun styles at this shop. For more information, check out their website – https://www.theclothessecret.com/index.html

https://www.instagram.com/theclothessecret/?hl=en

Bellwethers Vintage

This vintage shop is located on Florence Street just off Bank Street and right in the heart of downtown. If you haven’t checked out their instagram yet, you are missing out. It’s a fun and vibrant vibe they have got going on their media, check it out here: https://www.instagram.com/bellwethersvintage/?hl=en For more information, visit their website: http://www.bellwethersvintage.com/

Black Squirrel Books and Espresso Bar

I know this spot isn’t a pre-owned clothing shop but gifting books is never a bad idea. This book store is conveniently located in Old Ottawa South on Bank St. Grab locally roasted coffee or a craft beer while you browse this used book shop. You can find all sorts of books among the shelves and don’t forget there is a large non-fiction section in the basement. If you’re looking for vintage books, they have also got you covered. For more information, check out their website: https://www.blacksquirrelbooks.ca/ and if you’re interested in their instagram, here it is: https://www.instagram.com/black_squirrel_books/?hl=en

Trove Fashion

Located in Hintonburg off of Wellington Street West, you can find this fun consignment store. The items here range from stores like Matt & Nat, Hunter and Mackage and all that’s in between. For more details on their shop, check out their website: https://trovefashion.com/ and for new updates you can check out their instagram: https://www.instagram.com/trovefashion/?hl=en

Valamode – Luxury Consignment

Valamode is a luxury consignment showroom where you can find all your designer needs a a fantastic price and pre-owned. Let me tell you, there are some gems at this shop. This shop is run by Dia who is a luxury resale expert and has one of the best closets in the city. For more information check out her website: https://www.valamode.com/ and for the best designer content, check out her instagram: https://www.instagram.com/luxuryconsignmentcanada/

Preloved Ottawa

Preloved Ottawa is located inside the Den shop on Churchill Avenue. They have the best preloved clothing selection with items dropped off on a weekly basis. You can find most of the items highlighted in their instagram stories. These articles are quick to go and you have to keep a speedy eye on the items to get ahold of them. Check out their instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/prelovedottawa/?hl=en and their website here: https://prelovedottawa.ca/

Darling Vintage

This vintage shop is located in Centretown off Somerset Street West. Darling Vintage is a retro fashion boutique with a lovely curated collection. The storefront alone is a reason to visit this shop. Their instagram highlights new products and you can check it out here: https://www.instagram.com/darlingvintageshop/?hl=en

Hope you get your secondhand shop on and have a blast while you are at it!

Good luck out there,

Olivia

Shop Local Guide

This year my priority is to support local makers and reduce my impact on waste produced from shipping + packaging. I have gathered a list of local Ottawa Valley shops that you can peruse for great gifts this year. And, if you’re looking for a little something for yourself, maybe this list is for you too!

Downtown Ottawa

BbxCollection

This adorable shop at 31 York St in the Byward Market is run by Megan Racicot. She is an amazing local entrepreneur who prints each item in the shop all by herself! In addition to a great selection of sweatshirts/t-shirts/accessories, you can find Laani Life scrunchies, Vintage Glory jewellery and Sunday Skin products. I picked up some holiday goodies from the shop and absolutely love them (see below). https://www.bbxcollection.com/

The OAG Shop – inside the Ottawa Art Gallery

This shop just inside the OAG entrance from the Mackenzie King bridge, has a wonderful selection of locally made gifts. Another bonus of shopping from here is that the revenues go back to the artists and the OAG programs. You are winning twice when you shop local from here! For more information : https://oaggao.ca/oag-shop

Magpie – all three locations

I have been oggling at all the wonderful locally made jewellery in these stores for many years now. I might have picked up a few items along the way. Some of my favourites that I tend to go back to are Open Fire Jewellery ( https://www.etsy.com/shop/openfirejewellery/ ) for the dainty rings and Strut Jewellery for the fun earrings ( https://www.strutjewelry.com/ ). See my collection of Open Fire rings and Strut Jewellery earrings below for some inspiration.

Boogie and Birdie

This shop is located on Elgin Street and features many products made by local businesses. It’s worth a gander if you want to pick up some beautiful gifts. The store carries a variety of products such as housewares, jewellery and bath products. https://www.boogieandbirdie.ca/

Pot & Pantry

This shop is also located on Elgin Street and carries all your kitchen and houseware needs. They have a mixture of local products and other products. You will always find fun gift ideas here! https://potandpantry.ca/

Little Italy

Plant & Curio

You can’t go wrong by stopping into a plant shop. This one is located on Preston Street and always has fresh new plants. I wanted to highlight that they often carry locally made pots and accessories in their shop. https://plantandcurio.com/password

Hintonburg

Makerhouse Co

A big shop located on Wellington West, filled with locally made goodies. This spot has a great selection of local and regional handmade goods, ranging from cards to furniture. You can definitely find something for your friends and family here. They even have a wonderful gift guide on their website. See more here https://makerhouse.com/

Hintonburg Pottery

In addition to having a shop front offering locally made pottery, they hold a variety of classes for all ages. Maybe attending a pottery class would be a fun experience for you and a friend. https://www.hintonburgpottery.ca/

Kindred Shop & Studio

This store carries locally made items and items made by the owners of the shop. Here you can find accessories, clothing and much more! https://www.shopkindred.ca/

Victoire Boutique

Victoire is an independent boutique dedicated to ethical and sustainable clothing and accessories. All of their products are made in Canada. You can find some good quality items here that will last you a long time. https://victoireboutique.com/

JV Studios Boutique

There isn’t a week where I am not looking at the new jewellery that comes into the shop. JV Studios has an exquisite selection of jewellery, accessories, clothing and cards. If you are on the lookout for dainty jewellery, look no further. I have many rings and necklaces from this shop. I have featured a few of them below. https://www.shopjvstudios.com/

Almonte

Cheerfully Made

Although this shop is out in Almonte, it’s definitely worth the drive. You could make a day trip out of it and stop along all the shops and coffee spots in town. Cheerfully Made is a fun and unique shop, full of locally made goods. They also host a variety of markets throughout the year (both in Almonte and in Ottawa). Keep a lookout for those markets, they are always a lot of fun! https://markets.cheerfullymade.com/

Do you know of any other locally made shops in Ottawa? I would love to know.

Baked Pumpkin Donuts Recipe

I feel that it’s required to bake pumpkin treats during the fall because they are ample during this season. I based my recipe off of the Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts Recipe from the Food Network by Valerie Bertinelli. I did however, make some adjustments and added a cinnamon glaze to the donuts.

First and foremost, you will need donut pans. I have mini donut tins and this recipe makes about 24-30 donuts (depending on how full you want the donut tins to be).

Ingredients

  1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 2.5 tsps pumpkin pie/apple pie spice
  3. 2 tsps baking powder
  4. 1 tsp salt (optional if you use salted butter)
  5. 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree or fresh pumpkin puree
  6. 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar
  7. 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  8. 1/4 cup melted butter (salted or unsalted)
  9. 1.5 tsp Madagascar Vanilla Bourbon Extract (with alcohol content)
  10. 3 large brown eggs

Glaze

  1. 1 cup powdered sugar (more or less depending on preferred sweetness)
  2. 1 tsp cinnamon
  3. 2 tbsp milk (oat milk or soy milk also work)
  4. 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (if Madagascar Vanilla Bourbon extract is used you will want to heat up the glaze to evaporate the alcohol)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degress F.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, spices, baking powder and salt.
  3. Beat the pumpkin puree, sugar, vegetable oil, butter, vanilla and eggs together in a large bowl until smooth.
  4. Add the dry mixture into the wet and blend until smooth.
  5. Fill the doughnut pans with the batter. Option to spoon it in (which is messy) or use piping bags to fill the pans. Fill up to the top of the doughnut tin as the pumpkin batter rises just right at this level.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes and then let the doughnuts cool a bit before applying the glaze.
  7. Mix the ingredients for the glaze (heating optional). Drizzle the glaze onto the doughnuts in zig-zagged lines.

Pictured are plain pumpkin doughnuts and a cinnamon sugar topping (cinnamon and sugar mixture). You can mix 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 tsp of cinnamon and dip doughnuts into melted butter and then the sugar mix to bind the layers together.

Happy Fall Baking!

#myottawa #pumpkindonuts #bakingathome #pumpkinrecipe #fallbaking #ottawabaking #homebaker #nutfree #domesticbaker #ottawaliving

Ginger cake recipe

I was at a reception recently and ginger cake was one of the dessert options. It was my first time trying it and I fell in love. Fast forward to this week – I wanted to recreate the scrumptious dessert and found the perfect recipe for it!

Based mostly off Once Upon a Chef with Jenn Segal’s recipe of gingerbread, I managed to bake up a glorious treat.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsps ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 cup melted butter

2/3 cup dark brown sugar

2/3 cup molasses

2/3 cup boiling water

1 large egg

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Grease a 9 inch square pan with butter.

In a bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients and then set aside.

In a larger bowl, whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, molasses and boiling water. Let the mixture cool down a bit and mix in the egg.

Mix the wet and dry ingredients and mix well, until there are no lumps.

Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 35 minutes. The edges should darken and the middle will be firm to the touch. Let it cool and then cut it into 16 or more pieces and enjoy!

I do want to make a note that the cake is slightly sweet and you may want to reduce the sugar content if you prefer less sweetness.

Happy baking!

#homebaking #homemadegoods #bakingathome #ottawabaking #gingercake #gingerbread #ottawaliving

Blueberry Crumble Tart Recipe

I had some wild blueberries in my kitchen, although not enough to make a pie. I decided to fuse two recipes of together, pie and crumble in one. Since blueberry pies contain few ingredients, I wanted to mix it up a bit and add in some oat and cinnamon crumble. The fusion yielded very pleasant results!

Tools required

  1. 2 muffin tins
  2. Rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin)

Blueberry filling

  1. 3 ½ cups blueberries
  2. 1 tbsp lemon juice

Mix blueberries and lemon juice in a bowl and set aside.

Pie crust recipe

  1. 2 cups all purpose flour
  2. 2/3 cups salted butter (or unsalted and add in 1 tsp salt)
  3. 5-7 tbsps water

In a large bowl, mix together the flour and softened butter until it loosely resembles crumbly dough, then add the water. Once you mix it all together, the dough will form. I typically use this crust for both the top and bottom of pies. Split the dough in half and roll it out on a lightly floured surface.

Find a circular shape to cut the rolled out pie crust into small circles that would fit into the muffin tin. I used a Tupperware lid (roughly an inch wider than the circumference of the muffin mould). This recipe makes 21-24 tarts depending on how thick you like the pie crust.

Oat crumble

  1. ½ cup quick-cooking oats
  2. ½ cup brown sugar
  3. A pinch of baking power
  4. A pinch of baking soda
  5. ¼ cup softened butter (salted or unsalted)

Mix all the ingredients together in a separate bowl until a crumble forms and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Assembling the tarts

Fill the muffin tins with one pie crust cut-out and make sure that the edges are gently pushed in. There will be some extra folds in the pie dough as you place the cut-outs into the tins.

Next, spoon the blueberry filling into each tin. Make sure that you do no overfill the tins as the blueberries tend to leak out of the crust when they boil. Leave a bit of space between the top of the blueberries and the top of the crust (I did ½ cm).

Finally, add the crumble on top and make sure that you spread it out evenly.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until blueberries have cooked and the crust is slightly brown.

Allow tarts to cool and enjoy!

#homemadewithlove #homebaking #blueberrycrumbletart #bakingathome #ottawa #ottawaliving

Favourite Dark Chocolate Brownie Recipe

I have been using the Epicurious brownie recipe for a few years now and without a doubt, the brownies have always been a hit! They are rich, dark chocolate and almost flourless brownies. I am, personally a fan of dark (70% or more) chocolate. I have made a few changes to the recipe and included my version below.

Ingredients:

10 tablespoons (1.25 sticks or 1/2 cup + 1/8 cup) unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups brown sugar

3/4 cup + 2 tbsp cocoa powder (preferably unsweetened)

1/4 tsp salt (I often omit salt and it tastes great)

1/2 tsp Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract (strengthens the flavour)

2 large eggs

1/2 all purpose flour

Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Line a 8×8 inch or 9×9 inch baking pan with parchment paper.

In a heatproof bowl, combine butter, sugar, cocoa and salt. Soften the butter (I like to heat the butter in the microwave for 30-40 seconds). Once all the ingredients are mixed together, stir in vanilla extract, eggs and then mix. Lastly add in the flour and stir well.

Transfer mixture to the parchment paper in the pan. I like to transfer it on to the parchment paper on a flat surface to easily spread out the batter.

Bake for 22-25 minutes (less time for a more chewy texture) until you can insert a toothpick/knife/fork and remove it without any residue. Let the brownies cool on a wire rack.

Cut into 16 pieces and enjoy!

#nutfreerecipe #bakingathome #brownierecipe #darkchocolatebrownies #ottawabaking #ottawaliving

Apple hand pie recipe

It’s apple season in Ontario and soon enough the apple baked goods will be rolling out all over. I wanted to bake something that is easily transported to work so I made apple hand pies.

The biggest aspect of baking I have discovered is being creative with what you make. I made some pear hand pies this spring and they turned out alright. So I decided to downsize the pastries, switch the pears for apples and changed the spices.

Pie crust recipe

2 cups all purpose flour

2/3 cups unsalted butter

1 tsp salt

5-7 tbsps water

Pie crust directions

In a large bowl, mix together the flour and softened butter until it loosely resembles crumbly dough, then add the salt and water. Once you mix it all together, the dough will form. I typically use this crust for both the top and bottom of pies. You can bake it as you would a frozen pie crust.

For these hand pies, I made two batches of pie crust (If buying preface pie crust, get two packs). This will make about 30 hand pies.

For the filling

4 apples of your choice (I used Granny Smith) peeled and chopped

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp cinnamon (adjust based on your preference)

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp water (helps to distribute spices)

1 tbsp flour or cornstarch

Filling Directions

In a bowl, mix the apples with lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, water and flour/cornstarch. Let it sit while you prepare the dough.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Roll out the dough (using half at a time). Use a round bowl or cookie cutter about 4 x 4 inches wide to make the pie cutouts.

On a large cookie pan, place parchment paper. Lay the pie cutouts once you have them ready.

You can create the cutouts all at once.

Place filling on to pie cutouts as you see fit (the dough has to be able to comfortably fold in half).

Next, wet the edges of the pie crusts. Fold them in half and push gently to ensure the pie crust is sealed. Using a fork, go around the edges for the ruffle effect. Cut slits along the flat side of the hand pie to allow for steam to evaporate.

Once you are content with the style of the pies, place them evenly on the pan and place into the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Look for the oozing of apple filling and you will know they are ready.

Let them cool appropriately and enjoy alone, with ice cream or whipped cream!

They are sure to be a hit with your friends, family or colleagues.

Happy baking!

East Coast Canada Trip

I had the lovely opportunity to visit the Maritimes for a second time recently. My first time out east, I was a bit too young to enjoy all it has to offer. Although, I do remember that the ocean was frigid and I went swimming regardless. I also remember having an amazing lobster roll (or two) at a spot in Peggy’s Cove.

I had planned for a week out in the Maritimes but that was definitely not enough. I did pack in as much as would be comfortable and ended visiting all three provinces. I will share with you what I did in those seven days. Please note, we did rent a car in order to get around.

Day 1

My friend and I took early morning flights out of Ontario to reach Halifax, NS by 10AM. Upon arrival, we decided to take the airport shuttle downtown ($22/person). We stayed at an Airbnb apartment in the North End and our host was amazing. Once we dropped off our luggage we set out downtown to explore the waterfront. There are many restaurants and tourist shops along the water, yet it feels very casual and welcoming.

I had a list of attractions to visit (Halifax Central Library, Halifax Oval, Point Pleasant Park, Seaport Farmers’ Market, Halifax Public Gardens) and was only able to visit the Halifax Citadel Site. It was a glorious historic site with many exhibits and guided tours. We were relatively tired and ended up having an early dinner along the waterfront and headed back to the apartment.

Day 2

We picked up our car and made our way down to Lunenburg, NS. Lunenburg was about an hour drive from Halifax and a straight drive with many hills. The town itself has beautiful piers, ships and a main area with shops and restaurants. It’s a vibrant spot with lots of colour! I had reserved a 2 hour sea kayaking excursion at Pleasant Point (10 minutes from Lunenburg). Sea kayaking was scenic and offered a nice breeze on a hot sunny day. You kayak along the oceanside although, protected by a natural rock barrier.

After kayaking, we stopped by Lunenburg for a late lunch at the Half Shell for the famous Nova Scotia lobster roll. Afterwards, we drove to Peggy’s Cove on our way back to Halifax. The roads leading to Peggy’s Cove were fun and curvy.

We had dinner at Stillwell (amazing food) and drinks at Obladee Wine Bar.

Day 3

We popped by the Nook on Gottingen for a quick coffee and breakfast stop before heading out of Halifax towards Prince Edward Island. The coffee was superb and the food tasted wonderful as well. Be sure to stop by Vandal Doughnuts if you like your sweets!

We decided to take the PEI Ferry to shorten up the driving time. We made a short stop at Caribout Provincial Park near Pictou for a dip in the ocean. The PEI ferry was a 75 minute ride across the water and was equipped with food, COWS ice cream and other amenities. Upon arrival in PEI, the red sand and dirt was quite stunning!

We had dinner at the Merchant Man Restaurant in Charlottetown.

Day 4

We popped into Leonhard’s for brunch and it was delicious! They also have a bakery and coffee to go at the front. We then drove out to Cavendish and were able to explore the Anne of Green Gables area and attended a guided tour. The walking paths around the property are very picturesque and serene. I would highly recommend taking them!

We then headed out to Malpeque Beach at Cabot Beach Provincial Park. Malpeque beach is a beautiful red sand beach with red sand cliffs along the waterfront. It is a stunning spot to have a picnic, swim or just lay in the sun. After a few hours on the beach, we popped over to the Malpeque Oyster Barn for an afternoon snack. I got the Malpeque oysters (light and divine) along with seafood chowder. I would highly recommend visiting the Oyster Barn if  you have the chance!

On our way back to Charlottetown, there was torrential downpour. We made the best of the weather and stopped by the COWS Creamery Boardwalk for some souvenir shopping and ice cream. We also stopped by the PEI Preserve Company in New Glasgow prior to returning to Charlottetown. The Preserve Company has a restaurant in the back that I would love to try someday. It’s located on a beautiful lake and offers many seafood options.

We had dinner at a pub with live music and it was very fun!

Day 5

We nabbed some coffee before driving over to the Charlottetown Farmers Market. It was fun to see local businesses in another city. We then stopped at the COWS Creamery Factory to check it out. It’s a fun spot for everyone!

On our way to the Confederation Bridge, we visited Victoria by the Sea. It’s a beautiful small town along the water with a pier, restaurants and some shops.

We drove across the Confederation Bridge and made a stop at the Cape Jourimain Nature Center. Here, you can get a wonderful view of the bridge as well as relax on the beach or hike through the bush to look for wildlife.

In Moncton, we had dinner at Tide and Boar (previously on Canada’s Top 100 restaurants). It was amazing food, a great patio and offered a cool breeze on a hot day.

Day 6

We walked over to the Duo Cafe for coffee and breakfast this morning before departing for Hopewell Cape. We planned our arrival in the afternoon to see the low tide and stayed until the high tide. We were able to walk along the ocean floor and run through the mud. We stopped by the Low Tide Cafe for some hot dogs and ice cream. We watched for about an hour as the tide rose up the Hopewell Rocks.

We proceeded to have dinner at the Pumphouse Brewpub.

Day 7

Fly home.

We had a lovely time out east! Everyone was friendly and always willing to help. The weather was beautiful (cool a night and hot during the day) and the seafood was as fresh as can be. We lucked out and it only rained one evening throughout our entire trip.

Atlantic Canada, we will be back!

#explorenb #princeedwardisland #travel #maritimes #newbrunswick #explorenovascotia #novascotia #halifax #atlanticcanada #explorepei

The vintage charm of boutique manors

There’s just something about vintage and restored manors that are so enticing. There’s a story in every piece and such a rich history.

The Perth boutique manor hotel is an absolutely stunning establishment. When you enter the property you will see lush gardens and a large stone building. The scenery and decor make you feel like you have waltzed into another century.

If you are ever in Perth, Ontario. This place is a must visit for the gardens, bar and decor alone. Not to mention it is in a central location and perfect for a retreat.

Almost like you walked into a fairytale where you are the main character.

Worth your while, take a visit!

#romanticgetaway #vintagedecor #boutiquehotel #vintagecharm #travel #interiorstyle #perthmanor #exploreontario