Carla Dunham Jewellery Design

Who Are You Wearing?

Now that I am a hardworking and intrepid journalist with looming deadlines and tough-nosed (but fair) editors, I have decided to take my duties more seriously and stop visiting the booth I’m planning to profile mere hours before writing my latest missive. Not that I still don’t write the missive at the last minute, but I digress.

From almost the moment she was born, Clara has looked askance at my general lack of decoration. No holiday passes without her offering me some type of “jewellery” to wear. Alas, I’m not much for shiny things. This week, Clara was overjoyed to learn we were visiting the booth of Carla Dunham (also of interest – those two have all the same letters in their first names. Obsessed with jewellery…same letters in names. There is obviously a connection to be made).

I will confess I was a little nervous because I don’t wear earrings, bracelets make me twitchy, and rings are okay if they are my totally plain wedding band. “Clearly,” thought I, “I am NOT Carla’s target market.” “Clearly,” thought Clara, “Mommy is nuts.”

As often happens, the first thing in Carla’s display that caught my eye was the item I ended up circling back to after agonizing about all my other possible choices.  I could not resist a gorgeous charm necklace with a tiny acorn, a wee jewel coiled up in copper wire, and a tiny circle with tiny letters spelling out “Strong.” “This,” I stated, “is running the Bluenose 10k with me.”

Also defies gravity
Also defies gravity

Carla is a wire-style jewellery maker (jewellist? Jewel-monger?) who makes a wide variety of items to suit every taste (even jewelphobes like moi). If she doesn’t have something to suit your fancy…she will MAKE IT. My friend Laura (of fame) and her siblings special-ordered a gorgeous piece for their mother for mother’s day. Carla, basically, can make your wildest jewellery dreams come true.

Custom Family Tree.  Shazam!
Custom Family Tree. Shazam!

And here’s the cool thing: if you are a weird werido like me who is very particular about such things as how long a necklace must be to avoid the “this feels like a leash!” category on the one hand and the “send help, I’m losing oxygen from this winch around my neck” variety…Carla will alter it for you. Not a word of a lie, Carla shortened my necklace for me in front of my very eyes in less than 1 minute. It’s pretty much a super power.

What's she building down there?!?
What’s she building down there?!?
The hand is much quicker than the eye.
The hand is much quicker than the eye.

But again I digress. I meant to tell you about all the advantages of taking my time to allow the experience of something like a lovely new piece of jewellery to fully develop. I DID wear my necklace on the Bluenose, and I think it may have had some sort of cosmic influence, because those hills did not make me feel like I was dying. Runs since then…not so much.

The other great thing about wearing this necklace is that at last count FOUR different women exclaimed “OH! It’s a Carla Dunham!” when they noticed it. This is good news for Ms. Dunham. As for me, I felt like I was on the red carpet at the Oscars. “Ms. Killam, who are you wearing?” Nothing like a little glamour and name-dropping tossed into one’s day.

In all seriousness, though, Carla’s work is absolutely lovely. Why buy something that a zillion other people have when you can get a one-of-a-kind piece from Carla? I have quite a number of glamourous friends in my life (you know who you are, and don’t you deny it!) and I know they all have birthdays…

As for dear Clara. She would have liked one of everything, but I gently guided her to something she probably wouldn’t lose. Alas, my glittering princess is also an incorrigible slob (sorry, Mom, she might be your only granddaughter, but you know it’s true). We settled on a hair jewel. Clara wore it proudly for a daily, and then Victoria the Mermaid has worn it ever since. I did persuade her to lend it to Clara for her dance recital, but it really does look amazing in mermaid hair.

A little post-recital Grandpa love.
A little post-recital Grandpa love.


Carla Dunham Jewellery Design can be found on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and of course at the Farmer’s Market in Wolfville.

Anna Weig @ Grand Pre Winery

A Real Corker

Sometime there are things a person just has to do. Through no fault of her own, she’s subjected to torturous, painful experiences that simply must be gotten through for some purpose greater than the suffering she must endure. This week, sampling Domaine de Grand Pré Winery‘s offerings, was most decidedly not one of those experiences.

On the morning we went to the Market, Clara and I were on a tight time budget. It was her older brother Max’s birthday party and I’d baked a cake while Clara was at dance class. As soon as she arrived home, I swooped her up and off we went to market.

With Clara by the hand, I swept up to Domaine de Grand Pré Winery booth and launched into my RootLocal spiel. A bewildered looking Anna Weig explained that she’d been in Germany for three weeks and was therefore unsure of who I was or why I was asking my 6 year old to try a sample of Maréchel Foch. See, I was hoping to get an “ew YUCK!” face from her, but she is too diplomatic for that, so after she’d touched her little tongue to the liquid and politely declined it, I gallantly offered to finish off the sample for her. It really was lovely, but I do not go in much for reds, so I peeked around to see what else was on offer.

Why is she doing this to me?
Why is she doing this to me?

I was sorely tempted to try the Tidal Bay because I’ve yet to be less than in love with any of the Tidal Bay wines on offer by the various participating Valley wineries…but I thought RootLocal deserved a true first impression from me.  (You’ll be happy to hear that I had a glass of Grand Pre’s Tidal Bay when my sisters and I took our mother out for dinner.  It is everything I had expected: deliciously delightful.)  My eye landed on a very Champagne-y looking bottle.

Solomon was much more willing to try a taste and much more obliging with the face of disgust.  Then he asked "what can I eat to get this horrible taste out of my mouth?"  Champlain = wasted on children.
Solomon was much more willing to try a taste and much more obliging with the face of disgust. Then he asked “what can I eat to get this horrible taste out of my mouth?” Champlain = wasted on children.

Anna explained that while the name Champagne is not able to be used unless said concoction is grown and bottled in the Champagne region of France, Domaine de Grand Pré’s cleverly-named Champlain is made using exactly the same process. It’s a bit of a mad-scientist process involving yeast inside the bottle and a beer-cap-style cap to seal it, a year or so to wait, and then an inverting, daily turning, and freezing process that allows the yeast to be fished out and a cork slapped into the bottle. I’m positive Wikipedia can explain it better than that. Suffice it to say: you can’t get this stuff in a kit.

All the wine snobs use tin foil once their bottles are open.
All the wine snobs use tin foil once their bottles are open.

This adventure was educational in more ways than one. As I’d mentioned before, I was in a rush that day. As soon as we wheeled into the driveway, I frantically slapped the remainder of the cake together and had it ready about 30 seconds before the first guest arrived. At that point, I remembered the Champlain waiting out in the van. I fetched it and put it in the freezer.

Here is where the educational bit comes in. Since I am a self-trained hack when it comes to wine appreciation, I googled how to drink champagne (a.k.a. Champlain) and learned it was best served cold. Although the freezer speeded things up a bit, my lovely sister Joan was not able to wait as she had only popped by briefly to wish Max a happy party. She gamely agreed to give it a taste with me. I was happy to share, but I explained to her that I would have to be careful, because it should be cold. As it happens, Google was NOT kidding. If you open Champlain without letting it thoroughly chill, it will exit the bottle rather enthusiastically.

The young gentlemen at the party were quite entertained by the enormous pop followed by me laughing my head off and my sister attempting to “save” the precious liquid by capturing it with her mouth. Fortunately, the bubbles were more sound than fury, and the eventual level of liquid was not much lowered. I poured three glasses (did you think I was leaving Mike out?) and we found the cork two days later.

Joan to the rescue
Joan to the rescue

I was going to pretend I was all sophisticated and compare Champlain to all the other champagne I’ve tasted, but I realized you would see through me faster than a cork can hit a ceiling in the middle of a 13th birthday party. Here’s what I CAN tell you: Champlain is perfectly delicious. It is dry and apple-y tasting and it stings your mouth with a zillion bubbly bursts of champagne-y goodness. It’s not so dry that you feel your eyeballs are about to be sucked into your sinuses, and it’s not so bubbly that you feel your skull might lift off. I could drink this stuff every day. But I won’t, because that would mean it was no longer celebratory and there might be other ill effects. Please drink responsibly, audience.

Also pairs wonderfully with birthday cake
Also pairs wonderfully with birthday cake

However, if you have anything you want to celebrate: a wedding, a birth, the beginning of Spring (at long last), or that it’s a Thursday afternoon…I highly recommend chilling a bottle of Champlain and then carefully opening it. My mother also tried it and also pronounced it delicious.

Bonus: see how I resisted making a bad pun about how it’s not chamPLAIN, it’s chamAWESOME.

Extra bonus: I’ll be called to the Bar on June 6th, an event that is often celebrated…

Domaine de Grand Pré’s winery offerings can be found at the Wolfville Farmer’s Market, at some NSLC locations, and many other places, including the possibility of ordering online! You can find all sorts of information about them at there website:

Helen B's Preserves

Glowing Goodies

Clara has been accompanying me to the market for the past few weeks, and each time we walk through, her eye is invariably drawn to the glowing soft pink light emanating from the Helen B’s Preserves booth. See, someone at Helen B’s got the inspired idea to put a light behind their apple jelly so customers could bask in the perfect pinky glow. Clara has been like a moth to a streetlight. Imagine her glee when I steered her straight to the Helen B display this week.


I always like to go that extra step for you, dear readers, so I asked Mike (the SON of Helen B) to recommend something that might not be what I would pick easily.

Mike’s first recommendation was the zucchini pickles. Zucchini bread and butter pickles, you might be thinking, but you would be italicizing that thought incorrectly. Next time, try thinking like this: Zucchini!!! Pickles!!! We accepted the jar with some trepidation and then chose some other delights.

I picked out Mulled Cider Jelly, and Scrooge Jam (which is a combo of lots of berries and stuff), and a Muscat Wine Jelly. I will not be reviewing the wine jelly because it was a gift to my dear old Dad whose eyes lit up when he saw the label. As for the aforementioned pink paradise jam, Clara got to select a jar of Apple Jelly and she was finally able to hold that pinky goodness in her hot little hands.


When we got home I opened the jar of zucchini pickles and called out “who wants to try zucchini pickles?” Clara and Max were keen, Solomon not so much. Then I told him he had to try one and he said “…then why did you ask if I wanted to?” Smart aleck. I think I said something like “because SCIENCE!” They each took one…and then came back for thirds and fifths. The pickles are just what you’d want – crisp and tangy and a little sweet. I love the undercurrent of apple cider vinegar. Completely delicious. Finally – a use for all the million zucchinis that one measly plant you plunked into your garden as an afterthought!

Next we had to try the jellies and jams. I know that sampling sweet flavourful gorgeously glistening blobs of pure joy is not everyone’s thing, but I do the tough jobs for you. We decided to kill two birds with one stone: we’d been invited out to dinner, so we decided Thumbprint Cookies would be the perfect vehicle for sampling the flavours.


Credit for cookie-making belongs to Mike and Clara, and maybe Solomon a bit, too.

I’m here to tell you this is a fantastic use for these jams. The apple jelly is luscious and exactly what you’d expect and want from an apple jelly. The Scooge jam is a lovely mixture that makes every bite a little different. It’s a great blend of flavours with BIG chunks because the berries are mostly whole. It looks really pretty and it tastes really pretty, too.


My big favourite, however, was the mulled cider jelly. It combines everything I love about mulled cider without the dribbling-on-my-shirt and (usually) freezing cold scenario in which I’m drinking it. Plus: no prep time! You don’t have to smell it for hours on your stove, only to have your hand slapped away when you’re about to take a teeny tiny sample. No: you can just open up a jar of this goodness and enjoy that lovely robust and earthly delight that is hot apple cider with a sprinkling of warm inviting spices. Yummy. It’s like apple jelly for the more discerning palate. Which is going to be my line when the kids ask for it and I give them the straight up apple jelly instead.


Helen B’s preserves can be found at the Wolfville Farmer’s Market every week and at many other locations. Check out their website: and ‘like’ them on Facebook.