January 2010

The Thousand Picture Project

by DaniGirl on January 29, 2010 · 9 comments

in Photo of the Day

Welcome to the first official post of the Thousand Picture Project! Since the vast majority of you said you like these posts, and since I like doing them, and since I don’t have anything else for today (and just maybe because I’m thumbing my nose at the few of you who said you didn’t like them!), why not?

And, let’s be honest: one of the reasons I wanted to do this post today is so I could brag about this picture. Remember on Tuesday how it was crazy warm, about 15C above the normal temps for January? That was the day I had my interview on All in a Day, and on the way home the heavy clouds that had been crowding the sky all day parted and we had this beautiful sunset. A perfect end to a lovely day.

369:1000 Drama sky

Then a couple of days later, I got an e-mail from — wait for it! — Ian Black of the CBC, saying “sorry I missed you at the studio the other day, next time say hi.” *blush* And then he went on to say he’d noticed this picture and could he have my permission to use it on the evening weathercast on the CBC news!!!! He used it on last night’s broadcast, and when Simon heard him introduce the photo and give me credit, he yelled at the TV “Hey, that’s my MOM’s name!!!” Talk about positive reinforcement!

It’s funny, but even though I’m still taking a picture every day, I’m feeling a whole lot more relaxed about the whole thing. For instance, I’ve taken three days’ worth of pictures to follow this hyacinth as it blooms. I don’t think I would have dedicated three days in the same week to a single subject before.

367:1000 Hyacinth

368:1000 Hyacinth - day two

370:1000 Hyacinth - day four

And man, does my house ever smell terrific right now!

On the other end of nature’s spectrum, this was the view from my office window yesterday afternoon during one of those snow squalls. I used the bricks to frame the picture, but also to give a little perspective as to exactly how blustery it was.

372:1000 Whiteout

And finally, a picture that is more or less responsible for me deciding to continue on with a daily picture project. I’d had the idea of taking a picture of jacks in my head way back in the beginning of the project, but the boys didn’t actually have any. We got some in a loot bag from a birthday party early in January, but they disappeared before I could include them in my 365. The box reappeared in the days between the end of the 365 and the decision to continue with the daily pictures, and I was happy to finally get the picture I’d (more or less) had in my head all along.

371:1000 Jacks

I really enjoyed taking these pictures. I’m glad I decided to continue!


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2010 Canadian Weblog Awards

by DaniGirl on January 28, 2010 · 4 comments

in How I love the Interwebs

You know I’m a bit of a blog award junkie. I admit it, in my personal life and even at work, I’m a huge believer in recognition and positive feedback. I’m sure this has everything to do with leftover insecurity issues from my teen years and my infernal and endless need for external validation. Back in the day, I was even involved with the Canadian Blog Awards because I truly believe in recognizing excellence — and there are so many excellent Canadian blogs out there. I must say, though, that I have lost a little faith in the CBAs over the last year or two. They were too mired in political conflict and I just didn’t have the patience or the stomach for it, and the folks who were trying their very best to run a good program were just overwhelmed, despite their best efforts, by the scope of it and the knee-jerk reactionism to what they were trying to do.

Which is why I am so delighted to see someone start from scratch and create exactly what I’d envisioned the Canadian Blog Awards could be. Schmutzie, creator of Five Star Fridays and tonnes of other Web goodness, has launched the Canadian Weblog Awards. From the “about” page:

The Canadian Weblog Awards are intended to promote good weblogs of all genres from across Canada year round through regular interviews, articles, and the nomination, judging, and award process that culminates with the announcement of the top three weblogs in each category on January 1st. […]

Even the best weblogs can get buried under the swathes of information that flood the internet, and the Canadian Weblog Awards are determined to bring good Canadian weblogs to light. This is why we use a panel of judges rather than the popular vote to unearth our best and brightest. The use of a judging panel that follows a specific set of criteria to evaluate the nominees helps to ensure that the winning weblogs are chosen more for their quality rather than by how many people they can mobilize to vote.

We’re a talented lot, we Canadians, and we should show it off. We deserve it.

So smart! The original Weblog awards use a juried panel to choose the finalists, and that always seemed like a better approach than the various rounds of popular vote. Also, rather than just running a short window for nominations, they’re accepting nominations all year. Best of all, though, they’re interspersing regular updates from various categories with interviews with nominees to keep it interesting for the whole year. I’m so very impressed by the whole thing, and that is entirely beside the fact that I’ve been nominated in two categories!

2010 Canadian Weblog Awards Nominee

2010 Canadian Weblog Awards Nominee

(I’m delighted to be nominated in the Family and Parenting category, but truly honoured that someone put me up in the Best Writing category, too. Thank you, anonymous nominator(s). You made my day!)

I only wish I’d had the brains to think of it myself, or — even moreso! — the time to follow through with it all. It’s a great effort that really should be recognized. Is there a weblog awards for best weblog awards? 😉

Seriously, though, go check it out and don’t be shy about nominating your faves. Who doesn’t love a little recognition every now and then? Isn’t that why we’re all out here on the Internet blathering away in the first place?

Edited to add: Oh, I can’t tell you how tickled I am to be nominated in the humour category, too! You might never shut me up now! You think I’m funny? *squee of delight*

2010 Canadian Weblog Awards Nominee

*smooch*


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The other day, I received an e-mail pitch about a recent kids’ movie that I had thought about taking the boys to over Christmas. Now it’s coming out on DVD, and a PR firm working for the studio contacted me with what was very obviously a mass mailing.

Usually, I just delete these, but I’d been interested in the movie initially so I e-mailed back and asked if I could have one or more copies to give away on the blog. I got a prompt response saying that there were no promo copies for giveaways, but did I want a review copy?

I waffled, and in the end said no. I feel kind of odd taking products for review now when I can’t share them with at least some of you through a giveaway. I’m curious, though — what would you have done? Why I am differentiating between this and the dozens of other freebies I’ve received and blogged about through the years is beyond me — it just seemed somehow greedy of me to accept. Weird, eh?

Maybe it’s because I had read this blog post not too long before. It’s a rather tawdry story of some really indiscrete bloggers who were accepting products, reviewing them glowingly and talking about how much they or their family loved using the products, and then selling the items on a Facebook page, proclaiming that the items were “brand new” and “never used” often with tags still attached. I’d have no problem with a blogger donating or giving away or even selling a review product they’d received and not used, but to be duplicitous enough to lie about using the product and then turn around and sell it? No wonder mom bloggers get a bad name!!

On the other side of the spectrum, I didn’t have to waffle at all when I recently deleted a glowing offer to become a “brand ambassador” for a popular daytime soap and another daytime talk show. According to the pitch:

Brand Ambassadors will:

* Get the inside scoop on show developments and segments
* Have direct access to the Daytime Team to share feedback on XXX
* Be asked to use their influential platforms to help spread a buzz
* Receive special perks and goodies. We just have to keep these specifics under wraps until the Brand Ambassador Team is selected!

Excuse me while I roll my eyeballs around in my head for a while. Maybe it’s because I’m not a soap opera kind of girl that I’m cynical about this. Heck, if Jeff Probst asked me to be a Survivor Brand Ambassador, I’d fall all over myself saying yes. Then again, if Jeff Probst asked me to play naked in traffic during the rush hour in January, I’d do that too. We seem to be off on a bit of a tangent here… where were we?

Ah yes, I was about to ask you your thoughts on all of this. I try hard to strike a balance between great freebies for you guys and not spamming you with consumer stuff. While I’d happily accept a free Nikon D90 for the pleasure of sharing the pix with you (hello Nikon, are you listening?) the idea of taking little things like DVDs or free breakfast cereal just seems kind of cheap to me — and yet, the line in the sand is entirely arbitrary.

If I had a few extra minutes today, I’d go back and parse this meandering ramble into a much more concise post, but this is as good as it’s going to get. What say ye on the subject of bloggy freebies? Would you or do you accept any and all offers? Do you ‘get’ my distinction or do you think I’m splitting hairs? I’m always interested in your opinions!


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Did you know that Wednesday January 27 is Family Literacy Day in Canada? From the Web site:

Family Literacy Day takes place every year on January 27. ABC CANADA Literacy Foundation and Honda Canada created the day in 1999 to encourage families to read and learn together. […] Literacy is more than books. There are many ways to strengthen your literacy skills – all it takes is practicing for 15 minutes every day. Reading, writing, playing a game, following a recipe or even singing a song all help prepare children for challenges ahead and sharpen skills for adults.

Now, I’m guessing that I’m preaching to the choir when I tell you that literacy is one of the most important tools you can give your children, but I’m always looking for new tips and ideas for turning learning into a fun family activity.

Here’s five ideas for inspiring literacy in your family every day:

  1. Encourage your kids to tell stories. When you’re waiting in line, or in the car, or otherwise find yourself with time on your hands, create a story together based on something around you. See that man with the bright yellow t-shirt? What do you think he had for breakfast this morning? Why is he wearing that yellow shirt? Is his favourite colour yellow? Do you think he wears yellow every single day, one day wearing yellow pants and one day wearing yellow underwear? Why? You can get really silly with this, but it’s great fun and my kids love it.
  2. Did you know there’s a Sesame Street podcast? You know I love Sesame Street, and you know I’m fixated on my iPod. What could be better than the Word on the Street podcast from the creators of Sesame Street?!
  3. Sing it! I mentioned the other day how astonished I am that Lucas, not yet two, knows the melody if not all the words to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and he’s been calling out the last word of each line to You are my Sunshine for months now. This year’s official theme for Family Literacy Day is “Sing for Literacy” and ABC Canada has provided access to free karaoke videos online.
  4. Wear your words. This is a neat idea for older kids from ABC Canada’s family literacy tips pdf: write a story or a poem on an old pair of jeans. Love this idea!
  5. Make yer own books. Tristan was about three when I helped him make his first book, made of pictures cut out of a Thomas the Tank Engine catalogue. He made his own first comic book around age five. All you need is a single letter-sized page cut into quarters and stapled along one edge and voilà: instant 8-page mini-book ready for words or scribbles or stickers or whatever your child can think of. If you like, get fancy and use a hole-punch and ribbon or yard to bind the side. The only problem with these is that the kids make them by the pile and I never have the heart to throw them out!

Care to share? Add your thoughts for making literacy fun in the comment section!


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All in a Day Redux

by DaniGirl on January 25, 2010 · 13 comments

in My 15 minutes, Photo of the Day

Whee, that was so much fun!

Thanks to Alan Neal and my friends at CBC Radio Ottawa for giving me a chance to talk about my 365 project on All in a Day today! I was having quite the little moment while I was sitting in the anteroom waiting for my turn to go on, when Laurence Wall AND Alan Neal AND Ian Black were all in the studio together. CBC Ottawa trifecta!!! And dork that I am, I was too shy to say hello to either Laurence or Ian as they hustled out of the studio.

In my vast radio interview experience (comprising all of three appearances, media whore that I am) this was by far the most fun. Want to listen in? Here it is!

Project 365 Conclusion on All in a Day

(It might take a second for the MP3 to finish downloading. Be patient! Interview courtesy of and copyright Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.)

For those of you who are visiting for the first time, welcome! If you’re interested in Project 365, you can read more about it by perusing 52 weeks’ worth of blog posts, or you can see the all 365 pictures on Flickr. (If you open two tabs, you can watch the slideshow while the mp3 of the show is playing in the other tab — I only wish I was clever enough to figure out how to combine the two!!)

I also write a lot about parenting issues and fun things to do with kids in Ottawa… among a few thousand other things, should you like to pull up a chair and stay awhile.

(And Julie, to answer your question from yesterday’s comments? Alan Neal is even nicer than he seems on the radio. Hard to believe, but true!)


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Beyond 365, erm, 366

by DaniGirl on January 24, 2010 · 18 comments

in Photo of the Day

So are you getting tired of the 365 posts yet? I’m pretty sure this will be the last one. Well, kind of.

First, I wanted to share with you the very exciting (for me!) news that I’ll be on All in a Day on CBC Radio One tomorrow afternoon, talking to Alan Neal about the end of the 365 project. You might remember I was on the show back in July with former host Adrian Harewood, when I hit the half way point. On Wednesday, the last day of the project, I was driving around town listening to CBC (as always!) and thinking, “Hmmm, I wonder if it would seem needy of me if I pinged my friends at CBC and said, “So, just by the way, I’m done that 365 project…” but promptly forgot all about it. Until, that is, I opened my e-mail the next morning and there they were, wondering if I wanted to come back and chat about the big finale. So of course I said yes!

I’ll be on tomorrow afternoon, right after the 3:30 news. That also happens to be, I know from my CBC Radio addiction, just after Alan checks in with Ian Black on the weather. Dare I hope to meet both Alan, to whom I’ve been listening since back in the Ottawa Noon days, AND Ian Black? Squeeee!

Ahem, anyway, beyond my schoolgirl crushes on a good number of CBC Radio and TV personalities, I have more news. Well, sort of news.

It took about three days for me to really start missing the daily picture routine. It wasn’t so bad the first day, although Beloved did raise his eyebrows at me when I grabbed the camera on the way out the door on Thursday morning. I shrugged my shoulders and said, “It’s habit, I’d feel naked if I didn’t have it with me.” But in the evenings, between the end of dinner and the beginning of the bedtime routine, I’ve truly felt lost. That was my picture time, where I sorted and processed and posted the picture of the day most days, and that’s when I most keenly missed the project. Go figure.

Not only that, but everything I look at lately seems to be begging to be photographed. The light is coming back, and it’s making the most mundane things seem enticing. I can’t help myself.

So I’m not exactly embarking upon another 365. I figure I’ll call it (because a project needs a name, if for no other reason than I need a place to keep it on the blog!) The Thousand Picture Project. There’s 365 days in a year, so there’s 1095 days in three years. It should take me about three years of daily pix to get to the thousand mark, give or take — and I’m already a third of the way there! If I don’t take a picture every day, that’s okay, and if I take 17 pictures in one day, that gives me more than two weeks of fodder. I think it will work out. I need the project part for inspiration and a reason to haul around my camera, but I’m free of the need to stress over finding a picture — a good picture — on days when there simply is not one to be found.

Best of both worlds, I think. Now, what about you? The 365 blog posts get very few comments, but so many of you have said you’re interested in the process behind the pictures and my commentary on them. Shall I continue with the weekly picture blog posts?

Thanks, always, for your input! (I remember back when I started blogging, the prevalent idealistic advice was to blog as if nobody was listening, and that blogging in a manner which was cognizant of what the readers wanted was seen to be pandering. I think those days are long gone! The Thousand Picture Project, like it’s big brother the 365 Project, are entirely for my own satisfaction — but it’s a pleasure and a delight to be able to share them with you!)

Don’t forget to tune in to CBC Radio tomorrow after the 3:30 news — cuz hey, nothing strokes your ego more than knowing your photography is ideal for radio!! 😉


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Project 365: Post Script (alternate title: In which she demonstrates her inability to count to 365)

22 January 2010 Photo of the Day

Hmmm, seems a little anti-climactic to be posting about Project 365 again after my big finish on Wednesday, but there’s a couple of last little afterthoughts, as well as the pictures I took since my last update and before the big finale that never got their day in the sun. But first, you know what […]

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Project 365: Fini!

20 January 2010 Photo of the Day

Holy crap, I did it! I’m not sure that I was convinced, back when I launched this project a year ago, that I really expected to actually finish it. And I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve learned. A year ago, I was using my Nikon dSLR mostly in the program modes. […]

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You know what we need? We need a “Yay Day”!

19 January 2010 Ah, me boys

You know what we haven’t done around here for a long time? We haven’t done a “yay day“, where we celebrate the big and little things that are making us happy. Today’s Yay Day is really just a thinly-veiled excuse to brag about my kids. I know, I know, I bragged about Tristan just the […]

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Five free family things to do in Ottawa on a cold winter day

18 January 2010 Ottawa Family Fun

It’s January in Ottawa, and if you don’t get the kids out of the house soon, it’s going to get ugly. Here’s a quick list of five free (I love free!) things you can do to enjoy winter in Ottawa without breaking the bank. 1. Feed the birds. This is a perennial favourite suggestion of […]

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