In Transition: A Baby and a Business


It’s been quiet here, in this little web-based lens on the world that I’ve built, because real life has been anything but.  Most of the food I’ve eaten lately has been, oh-so-thankfully, not prepared by me, but by my family and friends who have brought casseroles and soups to stock up our freezer and keep our bellies full as we focus on the needs of our recently expanded family.  

After a challenging year of ups and downs, including but not limited to my hubby’s six month deployment, the Terrible Two’s (please, pulling a reframe and calling them the Terrific Two’s just doesn’t cut it…), and a career shift, we welcomed into our family the little man that made the whole experience just a little more interesting.

Maxwell Brooks Harrold was born after a wild and powerful labour, at 8 lbs 8 oz, in the water, at home, surrounded by love and wisdom and support.  He is already proving to be the kind of stalwart, solid individual who appreciates a good feed and a satisfying nap:  he fits into our family just fine.

Ada and Max

Those who know me best know that I can’t leave well enough alone, that birthing a baby and nursing him around the clock, though exquisitely satisfying, isn’t the only endeavour I’m launching into this year.  

And so it is, my dear readers, that you become some of the first to find out the other reason Purple House Cafe has been dormant of late:  I am slowly and quietly unveiling a business, which has been in development for the better part of the last year, but which has lived in my dreams, in one way or another, for much longer.

Nalumana Women’s Wellness is an online and location-independent women’s wellness centre, a place where I will be offering doula, lactation educator, and life coaching services, as well as partnering with other local wellness practitioners to offer birth, life design and adventure-based retreats, workshops and community events.  

Nalumana is also an online venue through which I will continue blogging with an expanded repertoire including not just food and recipe posts, but wellness, birth, mothering, adventure and travel writing as well.  

At the centre of my purpose with Nalumana Women’s Wellness is to create a space that invites women to tend to their own wellness, to tap into their own courage and empowerment, and to create a community of likeminded ladies who can support each other to live  healthy, vibrant and wildly adventurous lives.

So, you might wonder, where does this leave us, internet foodies who’ve come to gather here for the last two and a half years (!), look at pretty pictures, patiently read my stories, and make great food?  

It leaves me grateful, first of all, for the gigantic learning curve of Purple House Cafe:  I hope that the lessons I’ve learned become evident the minute you bounce on over to the Nalumana website.  It leaves you reading recipes cross-posted a few times a month from Nalumana back here, at least for now, until I decide what lies in store for this space.  And, I hope, most of all, that it leaves you with a new favourite website for your bookmark list, which just might nourish you in all the same ways, and more, that I hope Purple House Cafe has over the years.

Before I let you hop on over there to learn more about what Nalumana is, how I came up with the name, and hopefully to subscribe to the Nalumana Wellness blog (and subsequently receive a free (awesome) workbook entitled “7 Steps to a Bigger, Bolder Life”), I want to give you a little sneak preview of what’s to come this month on Nalumana…

There’s this little kale salad with honey pepper bacon, pistachios and parmesan – simple but incredibly satisfying:

Kale Salad |

And then there’s this (and note, you’re getting a sneak preview that no one else has seen yet, here!) – my first true foray into the world of video, in a deeply personal and meaningful way…something I’ve been harbouring close for a few months now (as evidenced by the snow in the background) that I’m ready to share.  I hope you enjoy it.

Video music courtesy of Nina Lee, Sacred Pregnancy.

Cookbook Giveaway Winner!

Hi everyone!  

Thank-you SO much to everyone who entered the Brown Eggs and Jam Jars cookbook giveaway!  I am pleased to announce that Judy A. has won the book!

Thanks so much for entering, and for reading Purple House Cafe – your response was overwhelming!

To purchase Aimee’s beautiful book, head on over to Amazon.  And, to read more about her urban homesteading adventures, click on over to Simple Bites.

Have a great weekend!

Brown Eggs and Jam Jars COOKBOOK GIVEAWAY!


Brown Eggs and Jam Jars |

Having followed the urban homesteading adventures of Aimee Wimbush-Bourque on her much admired blog, Simple Bites, for the past couple years, I was delighted to be asked to review and make a recipe from her new book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars, for the Food Bloggers of Canada Brown Eggs and Jam Jars blog tour.

Brown Eggs and Jam Jars |

The book is every bit as heartwarming and down-to-earth as Aimee’s blog,  and really deserves the time it takes to occupy the kids with some play-doh, brew yourself a cup of tea, and cuddle up by the fire for a leisurely peruse.  Packed with irresistible seasonally-inspired recipes like sticky maple blueberry pudding, roasted peach barbecue sauce, and sour cream pear pie with cornmeal pecan streusel (!!), your copy of the book is bound to quickly look like mine – riddled with sticky tabs on the concoctions you can’t wait to try.  Connecting the recipes is Aimee’s beautiful prose, telling the stories behind the food she presents the reader, and offering tips on urban homesteading and involving kids in the kitchen – two of my favourite culinary pursuits.

As you can imagine, choosing just one recipe to make as a contributor to the BEJJ blog tour was unspeakably challenging, but I thought it my obligation as the sole East Coaster from the group of bloggers participating on the tour to make Aimee’s Nova Scotia Seafood Chowder.

Brown Eggs and Jam Jars |

I was happy enough NOT to have my daughter participate in the making of this chowder, I have to admit – it ended up being a thoroughly meditative, contemplative process I embarked on, on just the type of blustery, damp day that seafood chowders are meant to brighten.  Not an original East Coaster, I had always thought that my simple version of chowder – onions, garlic, wine, seafood and cream – was quite delicious.  I have realized, after making Aimee’s version, accented with fennel, saffron and tomatoes, that my chowder is truly just adequate, and that this will be my go-to recipe from here on out.  This recipe pulls together in time to decide, spontaneously, on a somewhat indulgent weekend lunch – complete with a glass of white wine – but is exquisite enough to save for when your prairie-dwelling relatives show up expecting fresh, locally-caught seafood.

Brown Eggs and Jam Jars |

There are two ways to get your hands on this recipe and the 99-or-so others that grace the pages of Brown Eggs and Jam Jars:  you can enter my give-away, sponsored by Penguin Random House Canada Limited, who graciously provided me with an extra copy of the book to give to YOU, or you can grab it on Amazon or at your favourite bookstore.

To enter, simply comment below, and I will draw for the giveaway on Thursday, February 26th.  Only Canadian residents will be considered for the give-away.

To increase your chances of winning a copy of Brown Eggs and Jam Jars, hop on over to the other blogs on the FBC Blog Tour, and enter their giveaways too!  Here’s who they are:



Holiday Recipe Roundup, and what the holidays look like from here

Despite not being together as a family this Christmas season, I’ve decided to make the best of the holiday spirit.  This will be the kiddo’s first Christmas where she really understands what’s going on.  Before having kids I actually wondered if I would want to do the Santa thing.  Well, it seems the season is a bit undeniable, and my little girl had been well apprised of the ins and outs of the whole affair long before I had a chance to weigh in.  But it doesn’t matter:  also undeniable were the squeals of excitement at the lights!  Santa!  reindeer!  (more lights!) sparkles!  Christmas trees!  (ligggghhhhhttts!)

And then, when I was grumbling my way through Toys R’ Us a few weeks ago (“grrr….commercialization….grrr….no gender neutral toy options….grrrr…..$100 for a tricycle…..a whole freakin’ section of electronics for toddlers….argggghh”), I found the Cabbage Patch doll section, and was hit by a double whammy of nostalgia and the anticipation of my wee one’s thrilled little face upon receiving her first “real” baby for Christmas.  

(make that a triple whammy, when I realized that my little girl’s nature is to nurture, and that after three years of buying mostly blocks, play-dough, books, and art supplies, buying her a doll didn’t necessarily have to be about pandering to cultural norms, but rather allowing her to build on skills and strengths that she had already begun to show on her own.  The kid snuggles dish cloths and puts them to bed.  It was time….)

So here we are, preparing for a perfect imperfect Christmas, brimming with excitement, and at least, while A is mostly just excited about sparkles and the possibility of a new pair of underwear (as opposed to, like, a pony), gratefully indulging in what the season should really be about.

Speaking of indulging…I’ve pulled a few recipes out of the archives that you might find useful this season – for entertaining, gifting, or just hunkering down at home.  Enjoy!

First up, the recently published Icebox Cookies.  Though these are traditionally a holiday-time treat in our home, it’s always handy to have some in the freezer, ready at a moment’s notice.  They make a great gift too!

Dad's Icebox Cookies |

If you’re looking for a super simple hostess gift, or a Secret Santa surprise, why not infuse some maple syrup with some fun flavours (here I used vanilla bean and star anise)?  Seriously, this could not be easier, and it’s a really special treat.

Vanilla and Star Anise Infused Maple Syrup |

Holiday entertaining made simple:  meatballs, chili sauce and grape jelly.  It will have people hovering around your slow-cooker at your next gathering.

Grape Jelly Meatballs |

Every Christmas morning for well over a decade, I’ve eaten a breakfast strata.  In the good old days, growing up, it was made with simple ham and cheese.  As I grew up, started a family of my own and became more knowledgeable about food and flavour, our strata morphed into this prosciutto, onion and spinach version.

Christmas Breakfast Strata |

Last but not least, you just have to make homemade egg nog.  Seriously:  once you have this, the grocery store variety will not hold the same appeal.  It’s the one thing I’m truly missing this year – apparently, when you’re pregnant, you’re supposed to avoid things like raw eggs and brandy.  It just means that I’m going to be drinking eggnog in April, once this wee one has arrived, to make up for lost time.

Homemade Egg Nog |


Enjoy the holiday season, everyone!