Nova Scotia Lakeside Living || Simple Bites

From Homestead to Lakeshore: One Year Later

Exactly one year ago today the family and I stepped through the doorway of our lakeside home and began a completely new chapter in our lives.

For us, this is an anniversary well-worth noting, as it took nearly two years to uproot ourselves from Québec, transplant to the Halifax area and fulfill a dream.

It was always a lifestyle move: a conscious effort to slow down, be closer to nature and anchor ourselves in a coastal community where families are cherished and people are friendly.

So how did that work out for us? One year later, I think it’s time to share a peek at our family life now, tour the new Simple Bites kitchen and open up about community here on Canada’s East Coast.

A new ‘chapter’ almost doesn’t cover our transition from homestead to Nova Scotia lakeside living. Life has changed so much since we got a new home for the holidays last year, that it feels like a completely new book. The characters are the same, however; just more relaxed and at peace with it all.

The hassle of the megacity pace has been replaced with an easy mix of urban and country life — we’re right in the middle, living about 8 minutes from a Starbucks/movie theatre/Indigo bookstore-type shopping centre, but also situated on a lake across from a provincial park that feels very cottage-like.

It is indeed the best of both worlds, and this comfortable intersection is very common in Nova Scotia, where lakes abound and the ocean is never more than an hour away no matter where you are in the province.

The New Simple Bites Kitchen

You’ve been asking for a peek at my kitchen and so – please come on in. It’s small and white, practical and pretty, and it’s where I still spend most of my time.

Photo by Denis Duquette

My favourite thing about the whole kitchen is the small window above the sink which looks out over the lake. From there, I watch geese take off and land, a blue heron that comes and feeds along our shore, and the enormous, ever-changing sky.

My entire kitchen area is a mix of modern and antique. The modest kitchen triangle just didn’t have enough cupboard space for my gear, so I rescued an old hoosier (vintage cabinet, Canadian-made, utterly charming and full of history) and gave it a home in a sunny little breakfast nook.

Photo by Denis Duquette

Along with a little table for two – that also boasts a lake view – my kitchen space is complete. It’s about a third of the size of my last kitchen, but I love how cozy it is. The true heart of our home.

From this modern kitchen triangle + antique hoosier + breakfast nook, I run a home business, feed a family of five, host nonstop, and strive for a zero-waste kitchen. It’s my happy place and where I’ve been able to quiet my mind, listen to my heart and follow a new direction for my work.

Oh, and in case you missed them, here are three Nova Scotian-inspired seafood recipes:

Lakeside Living

As I write, my view is much the same as it was when we moved in a year ago: fickle November skies reflected in a deep blue lake, swirling snow that never seems to land, and a nearly bare apple tree. The only difference is that now I have a year of memories in this backyard and lakeshore.

I can picture Clara doing backwards dives off of our floating dock and a string of kayaks heading out for an after-dinner paddle. I recall our mid-winter skating party and hear the laughter of the children and the scraping of the hockey sticks on ice. It’s been an incredible 12 months.

Like I mentioned above, we moved into our house a year ago. It was a month before Christmas, and we were exhausted. We hibernated that winter, unpacking boxes….embracing the art of slow living. Then spring arrived.

April, May, June…we watched our little acre on the lake come to life and before we knew it, everything was blooming. Then along came summer and slow living took on a whole new meaning.

Photo by Jessica Grace Photography

I spread quilts under the apple tree and the kids ate their lunches in the shade. Friends dropped by and we shared many a picnic on the dock.

Each morning brought visits from our favourite family of mallards; each evening we paused at sunset to watch the colours streak across the lake.

We found a little yellow rowboat and christened it ‘Buttercup’. Canoe rides began with morning light and lasted past bedtime. It was a hot summer and the kids swam in the lake at every opportunity.

Photo by Angela Chin

I couldn’t have dreamed this big for our family, and yet here we are. It wasn’t easy to uproot, but it was worth the effort, a thousand times over.

Anchored: On Community

I get asked the most about community. How did we make friends as adults? How did our children fare with starting over? And it’s no wonder these are your questions; we all crave connection and belonging.

What we’ve found is that Maritimers have a strong sense of community and cherish it dearly. It’s anchoring, particularly when there is so much that batters us about these days like social media and the vicious news cycle.

We knew a handful of families when we moved here, so it wasn’t a complete reset. Saints, they were, because they put up with exactly one million questions of our questions from “Where is the best butcher?” to “What is the deal with donairs?”.

Photo by Jessica Emin

My dear friend Breanne welcomed me into her book club, and solid connections were formed through that gathering. I also started my own cookbook club, which took off and continues to flourish.

People who I knew though the publishing and blogging world reached out. We joined a church through a friend’s invite. We met more families through Danny’s professional network. Our neighbours showed up to say hello and share hot cocoa on the ice. Bonds were made through school friends and at local events.

I joined few local blogging groups on Facebook – and here in the Maritimes, they actually meet up in real life. Community and networking, together.

Over time, the family and I chose a favourite farmers market, coffee shop and ice cream parlour, each visit anchoring us further to this place.

Last but not least, my sister moved here to Halifax with her family over the summer, so now we have close family nearby – the missing puzzle piece to our community.

Overall, it was a smooth transition and although we still miss our friends and family in Montréal, Nova Scotia feels completely like home.

Exploring Nova Scotia

More nature, less noise. More experiences, less stuff. More views, less screens.

Photo by Tim Chin

It was the summer of the picnic, as well as five camping trips, hundred of hiking excursions and beach outings. To say that Nova Scotia is full of hidden gems is an understatement.

Next spring I’ll write about our camping adventures in a full post because I could expound on them for pages and pages. Update: read them here: Family Camping in Nova Scotia!

We’ve only just begun our roadtripping fun, but our first summer in this province brought us to shaded waterfalls, pristine white beaches, charming country villages and thrilling seaside hikes.

Photo by Tim Chin

I need to end this post; it’s already far longer than I anticipated. But allow me say one last thing: I share all of this in hopes that you are inspired to pursue your dream.

That dream might be a change of pace, a smaller house, living near water or maybe just starting a cookbook club. It could be more camping with family or driving the famous-for-a-reason Cabot Trail here in Nova Scotia.

Whatever it is, don’t ever give up reaching and believing. Life is too short to live with regrets.

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. Thanks so much, Aimée. I remember how incredibly brave it felt to you to make this decision. It’s so amazing to see you living your heart-life in this new space. I will continue to hold out hope that my younger might consider school in Nova Scotia in a year……

    And a particularly Maritime editing note – ask a neighbour about the plural of Donaire. I think it might be donair.

  2. This post was truly inspiring to me! You are so correct, “Life is too short to live with Regrets”!
    Keep pursuing your dreams and keep motivated when it seems insurmountable to accomplish. I will continually tell myself this when it feels impossible. Thanks for sharing your heart and transparency of life on the water. It really seems to good to be true, but all the more to be grateful for what we have in the moment. Looking forward to your camping update, a favorite pastime of my family of five as well.

    • Thanks for your kind comment, Nora. It’s so true! And I have to say, Nova Scotia has some of the best family camping facilities I’ve ever seen!

  3. I am so happy for you and your family! I’ve always wanted to visit Nova Scotia and the Maritimes…your pictures make me feel like that should be sooner rather than later!

  4. Beautiful glimpse into a slower lifestyle, and the rewards that come with it! My family is spending a year in Norway in a smaller house, with a simpler lifestyle, and the rewards of increased family time and walks in nature have been worth it! Your photo of the “dock houses” looks very much like Norway. Thank you for sharing, and encouraging.

    fellow Canadian

    • Ellen, that sounds amazing! Europe is a whole other dream, but right now the idea doesn’t feel very simple for us. We’re happy where we are!

  5. I really appreciate your complete acceptance of a “small” kitchen as capable and sufficient. My husband and I just moved into our first home and I’ve always felt that small kitchens are actually far easier to navigate, but our friends have all already begun their huge remodeling projects to create these massive spaces and it’s made me wonder if I’m crazy. The only thing I can’t ever seem to find enough room for is my collection of glass food storage containers and ball jars…You’re an inspiration!

    • Hey McKenzie, Yes to this. And do you know what else I love? I can clean it in way less time!
      Thankful for a basement where I can store cake stands, canning jars and more. 🙂

  6. What an great move for your family! The lake is just gorgeous. Is your husband working remotely, and if so- how has that transition been? Does he travel often for work? Curious because we are contemplating a similar move…

    • Hey Jen, So yes he works remotely for the same company in Montreal. He rents an office space in Halifax; and doesn’t travel more than a few times a year back to Montreal.

  7. What a wonderful introduction to Nova Scotia! I thoroughly enjoyed your post and the photos are gorgeous. It sounds like you have found the place of your dreams. Sending best wishes to you and your family!

  8. I’ve enjoyed following your transition and I’m so happy it has been the culmination of your dream. We made the move here to NS 4 years ago and have not had any regrets. I have found my quilting community, lucky for me as we have no children opening doors for us any more. It is a place of great beauty and welcoming people.

  9. I am so happy for you and your family Aimee, your transition from Montreal to Nova Scotia is inspirational. Thank you for a peek inside your kitchen!

    I use your cookbooks often and have committed your baked brown rice recipe to memory, thank you for the work that you do.

    Best wishes to you and yours.

  10. I loved this update! Have been longing for a peek at the kitchen but even more just loved hearing how you’re thriving ♡. Chloe and I along with my BFF and her four little ones are road tripping to PEI this summer while my two big kids are at summer camp. I’d love to stop by for lunch! Xoxo

  11. Cindy Childers says

    Hi Aimee, what a lovely post and I am a relatively new follower of simple bites. So lovely to get to know you through this post! I am American living in the UK (Husband posted here…and I am also going to school part time to finish my Masters)…it’s funny like you say to ‘consider your dreams’…I could never have imagined we’d STILL be in England after almost 10 years. Though I am a Bible study teacher by calling and trade, I LOVE to cook and this “Cookbook Club” you mention is the first time I’ve sort of heard that term. I would love to host something like that. Can you tell us what that looks like in your corner of the world? So fun!!! Thanks and God bless,

  12. I visited Halifax and Tobeatic Wilderness before I got married. It was wonderful. I could easily live in the Maritimes. There’s Acadian culture, nature, and I took some fabulous cooking classes at a lodge. So beautiful. Thank you for encouraging us to live our dream.

  13. As a fellow Nova Scotian, I am so very happy that you and your family are happy here! It sounds like you found a dream spot in the province, although there are many! I will remain a reader of your blog now that I have discovered you. ( on the “Camping in Nova Scotia” Facebook page which I joined tonight). I look forward to checking out your cookbooks. All the best as your NS adventure continues!

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