It IS all about me

It’s been about six months since I published a blog post, and in the year before that I only posted a handful of times. I’ve been wondering: is it time to shutter the blog? The kids are too old for me to write about them now; their stories are their own to tell. I used to summarize the theme of the blog as “raising a family in Ottawa” but I feel like the lion’s share of that work is done. And while photos have sustained the blog for the last few years, I don’t feel like I have enough to say about taking them anymore, at least not enough to keep the blog interesting and relevant.

So, is there value in me blogging any more? There’s a cost to consider. It’s not overly expensive to host the blog, and I host my photography site off the same domain, so that’s not going anywhere. More problematically, it’s been a while since I updated the look and especially the functionality. Google tells me it’s not particularly mobile friendly. I can’t even remember half the ways I hacked the code over the years and my eyes glaze over every time I think of making any changes to it. And now Flickr has a new model where the thousands upon thousands of images that I had hosted for free going way back to 2005 will now cost about a hundred bucks a year to keep, or else I’ll have a blog riddled with broken links and lost images.

Turning 50 has been a big year for me, and I have new things that I’m interested in now. I’d like to blog about my new knitting addiction (make all the things!) and I’ve been exploring Tarot cards. I’d like to have a place to talk about the food I’ve enjoyed making, the ways I’m expressing my creativity through making things, and how satisfying it is to be a woman on the far side of 50 who has figured out so many of the very same things I whined about when blog and I were both younger and less sure of ourselves.

I don’t even particularly mind that I’m likely to be talking to myself. The heyday of the blog, a dozen years ago when Lucas was the Player to be Named Later and I was up to my ears and sinking in the quagmire of parenting three under six with a tribe of online friends and followers has long since passed. I don’t mind talking to myself – I do it all the time! I’m just not sure if I’m invested enough in the idea of continuing to do the kind of updates and maintenance that I really should do. Oh technology.

I guess I’m not quite ready to say goodbye, or even see you later. Maybe I’ll just putter around here for a while, without any pressure or expectations from myself, and if I decide I’m going to keep on keeping on, one day when I’m full of energy and enthusiasm I’ll look into overhauling the works. If a girl can grow and change and mature, her silly old blog can follow suit, right?


A lot of amazing things will happen in 2019. In July, Beloved and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, and then in August I turn (gasp!) fifty!

I wanted to do another photo challenge to mark this amazing year, but another 365 photo-a-day project felt too ambitious. A 52-week photo challenge is perfect! And I liked the #Dogwood52 photo challenge because each week has a prompt, and I figured that would keep me from being lazy and maybe push my boundaries a little bit.

Right off the bat, I was stumped. The first weekly prompt is ‘take a picture that tells us who you are, without actually showing your face.’ I’ve been thinking about it for days. How to tell the story of me in just one photo? Mom? Writer? Photographer? Friend? Collector of vintage crap? Lover of books and grunge and spicy food? And then it occurred to me to include ALL THE THINGS!

#52in2019 #Week1

It’s me in 50 items! I like that some of them serve double and even triple duty on facets of my personality, like the photo books are family AND photography, and the Monty Python card deck says I’m equally happy playing cards or riffing about how your father was a hamster and your mother smelled of elderberries.

And yes, the blog is in there too. I haven’t forgotten entirely how to blog, but I might be a little rusty. Here’s to getting a little more practice in on that, too, in 2019.

It’s going to be an awesome year. Let’s do this!

What would your collage about items that tell the story of YOU have in it?

#dogwood52 #week1 #dogwood2019 #52in2019


Like many of you, I’ve been listening to The Tragically Hip all week. Radio station CHEZ-FM in Ottawa played nothing but Gord Downie songs for a week, and even rebranded as GORD-FM for the week. When they returned to regular programming, I started gathering up all the Hip music I have collected over the years on various CDs and mixed tapes and cassettes to rip them into iTunes once and for all, as I only ever seem to listen to music on my iPhone and my Mac any more.

It’s been a while since I used the little stereo that sits forlornly on the credenza, to be honest. I use the radio function sporadically, but couldn’t even remember until I checked if it even had a CD player. When I took a closer look, I could see that it clearly had a CD function – but getting a CD into it turned out to be a bit of an endeavour.

Like most mini-stereos of its vintage, it’s black, with very faint silver text describing the various controls. I peered at for a while, poking various promising-looking buttons, (indicator #1 that I am one million years old – I can no longer make out the text on the buttons on the stereo) and even tried to pry the lid open. It resisted in exactly the sort of way that indicated if I were to force it, I would probably regret it. (Indicator #2 that I am one million years old – I can no longer remember how to open the CD player.)

Resignedly, I pulled open the cutlery drawer in the kitchen to grab my nearest spare pair of glasses. (Indicator #3 that I am one million years old – I keep sets of spare reading glasses stashed all over the house.) I was finally able to find the “push the magic spot” spot that opened the lid on the CD player, and insert the CD, and even make it play. (Indicator #4 that I am one million years old: at first, even though properly inserted, the CD would not play and I was >this< close to waiting for Simon to come home to help me with the technology when I realized that it was simply not plugged in.)

If anybody needs me, I’ll be sitting here blasting the music of my youth at full volume, not because I can’t find the volume switch but because I haven’t got around to fulfilling my prescription for a hearing aid yet.

Does anyone know when I got so old?

2017-10-25 14.48.15


I‘m standing in the hair products aisle in the drug store and I finally lose patience trying to read the label on the deep conditioner (%$#@ tiny print!) and I stomp over to the cheapie reading glasses and find the +1.25 that my optometrist recommended a few weeks ago for a back-up pair. I also have a prescription in my purse that I just haven’t been motivated to get around to filling because while I know my eyesight is deteriorating, it’s mostly fine and probably not worth the hassle of glasses. Hah.

I stick a pair on my face and first look into the smudgy little mirror and laugh at how owlish my eyes look, but then I glance down at the deep conditioner in my hand and actually say “holy shit!” out loud because of how clear and legible the print is. I have to take them on and off a few times to confirm the difference is as dramatic as I think it is. It is. I walk over to the books and I can’t believe how crisp everything is, and how sharp the edges are, and how IN FOCUS everything is. I don’t have to zoom my arms back and forth to find the fine plane of not-as-blurry-as-otherwise or hold things angled toward the light or any of the other tricks I’ve been doing completely unconsciously.

So I plunk down the $10 for them and now I’ve been walking around the house marveling at all the things – my Blackberry, the newspaper, a can of club soda, OMG my computer!! All the things have an astounding lack of fuzziness that I just can’t get over – as long as they’re closer than arms-length, that is. Any further than two feet away with the reading glasses on and everything is even more blurry than the up-close stuff is without the glasses.

The real test comes at bedtime. I turn on the lamp, crawl into bed, grab my Kindle and slip the glasses on. Usually, I turn the Kindle on and wait patiently for a few minutes while my eyes struggle to resolve the text, and then once I get the first few words resolved I can plunge on and make out the rest. I’ve already boosted the font size a couple of times and if I make it any bigger, I’m only going to get about four words on a page. I glance at the text and am gobsmacked all over again. I can read it right away!

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 7.29.28 AM

Damn. I honestly had no idea how bad it had gotten. I can barely wait to see how things will look through actual prescription glasses now! If you need me, I’ll be wandering around the house, examining everything from a distance of 45 cm or so to see what I’ve been missing all this time.

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Photos of the day: Rainbow hair!

by DaniGirl on April 13, 2016 · 6 comments

in It IS all about me

I have never coloured my hair before, partly because I’ve always pretty much liked my hair colour, and partly because I couldn’t really think of a colour I would like – except maybe more red. And, the idea of having to worry about roots and maintenance just made me not want to bother. However, when my friend Lara got rainbow unicorn galaxy hair, I knew I had to have it. I mean, one colour – pfft. I want ALL THE COLOURS!

I did a bit of research and stumbled upon “oil slick hair” which was exactly the effect I wanted. Subtle hits of the same shiny greens and blues and pinks that you see on the edge of an oil slick on the driveway. What could be more glamourous than that?! And then I found out about ballyage, which basically means that only a piece of the hair shaft is coloured, so it mixes with your own colour and you can easily grow it out.

So, all the colours and none of the work? HELL YES!

We started by bleaching streaks out of my natural colour. Whimper. Also effective at blocking government mind-control drones.

2016-04-12 11.54.22

After about half an hour, the amazing Suzanne at Studio Me washed the bleach out and set to the hard job of reselecting the bleached bits and carefully painting the colours on them. We were originally going to go with five colours, but Suzanne thought that might be a bit too much. (Hello, foreshadowing!) So, we dialled it back to “only” pink, yellow, purple and teal.


As she worked, I couldn’t help but notice that she seemed to be selecting WAY more of my hair for colour than I had expected. I’d showed her a reference photo with subtle tendrils of colour peeking out of brunette hair, but as she worked I had the sneaking suspicion that this was going to be way more than a subtle tendril or two here and there. But, in for a penny, in for a pound, and YOLO, and carpe diem, and OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?

All the girls in the store went nuts over the colour as she pulled off the foils and started washing my hair out. By that point, I was afraid to look.

She sat me down in a chair to cut my hair and pulled off the towel in a big reveal. “Oh phew, I thought, “that’s not bad.” It was my natural chestnut brunette with hints of colour. Then she started blow drying it and I watched as the colours got brighter, and brighter, and brighter.


By the time she was done styling it, I was laughing and crying at the same time. “That is INSANE!” I kept saying. The colours were SO over the top. Crazy chunks of turquoise beside neon pink. She finished drying it, and I loved it. LOVED IT!


It is by far the craziest thing I’ve ever done with my hair. Apparently, your 40s are the years you embrace all the things you were too timid to do when you were younger.

I gotta admit, I left the shop both loving it and thinking that maybe I’d go home and shampoo my hair three or four times, just to nudge it down a wee bit on the day-glo colour scale. But by the time I got home, I was totally in love with it, mad colours and all.

Got my hairs all colourful!

The boys thought it was awesome, too. Lucas’s reaction when he saw me after school was perfectly delightful – he was so excited! And if you ever want validation for choosing rainbow hair, just show up for after school pick-up and listen to the Grade 2 girls go crazy over it! “Oh wow, look at her hair!” “That’s Lucas’s mom. Your hair’s so pretty, Lucas’s Mom!” “Wow, look at the COLOURS!” It took 35 years, but I am finally cool among the elementary school set.

This morning I’m suffering from a bit of a hair hangover. I admit to being VERY alarmed when I simply rinsed it in the shower and unleashed a veritable torrent of dye into the tub, but I’m told that’s normal and there is still PLENTY of colour left. I have a crazy day of back to back to back meetings today, so it will be interesting to see everyone’s reaction. Conveniently, today is the International #DayofPink to support diversity and stand up against homophobia, transphobia and all forms of bullying, so I’ll say that’s what motivated me and I just got a little carried away!

So – what do you think??? 😉


In May 2014, I wrote a post lamenting the fact that after six weeks of walking, exercising and conscious food choices, I had still failed to lose a single pound. Not too long after that, I started using My Fitness Pal to track not only exercise but food choices, and started making slow but steady progress. I did pretty well through the summer, losing nearly 10 steady pounds, and then my weight crept back up again over a long, cold and icy winter.

In April 2015, I was back on the bandwagon again and once again lamenting my lack of progress. Back to food and fitness tracking I went. Thanks to daily step goals, food tracking and power yoga, I dropped what I’d regained and by July was at my goal weight, a full five pounds less than I’d managed to go in 2014.

Here we are in March 2016 (see how I start paying attention a little earlier in the season each year?) and that darn winter creep has me up another five pounds. There’s no whiny lament this year, though. My weight is still equivalent to the lowest point in 2014, and I’m sure I can banish that pesky 5 lbs and get myself in my happiest range, which is anything under 170 lbs. I think the two things that kept me from completely regaining the weight I’d lost over the winter this year were regular power yoga (so good for strength!) and the fact that I’ve kept up parking the car in the driveway and walking the kilometer or so to pick up the boys after school all through the winter. I can count on one hand the number of times we capitulated to the weather, and I drove another handful of times when I was running late, but in general, we were diligent about getting in those daily walks.

I haven’t yet resorted to food tracking again, but I love tracking my daily steps. I’ve had a FitBit that I’ve used pretty regularly for the past three years, and I’ve seen steady improvement on my dedication to leading a less sedentary life. So when the nice folks at TomTom offered me a review unit of their new high-end fitness tracker, I was happy to try it out.

The TomTom Spark GPS Fitness Watch has all sorts of interesting features way beyond a simple step tracker (but it has that, too!) Most interesting, it stores up to 500 songs from your music library, so you can leave your phone at home and listen to your workout playlist via Bluetooth headphones. The TomTom Spark also has a continuous heart rate monitor, a sleep tracker, race mode and interval training mode, and multi-sport mode. It also has something I’ve wished all along my FitBit Flex had: a watch! The official description says:

TomTom Spark is the latest in the complete line of TomTom wearable fitness technologies. The 24/7 activity tracker continuously logs steps, active minutes, distance, calories burned and sleep duration. TomTom GPS tracking provides real-time information including time, distance, speed and pace. The built-in heart rate monitor accurately tracks heart rate, without the need for a chest strap. Multiple sports modes let users track their activity inside and out, across running, cycling, swimming, treadmill and gym workouts.

Pretty neat, right? I wore the TomTom Spark for about a week to try it out, and in general I really liked it. I wore both the FitBit and the Spark on the same wrist for a few days and found they were fairly agreeable about the number of steps taken, which is great. I’m always less concerned about the actual steps and more concerned about one day relative to the next.


Here’s what I’ve noticed about the TomTom Spark so far. Out of the box, it’s quick to charge and super-easy to figure out. There’s a square button under the watch face, and you can push it left to see your steps, up to see your music, right to access multi-sport modes and timers, etc. Although it’s bulky and at least in the black model I received, a little industrial looking, the strap is SO MUCH easier to use than the FitBit one I’m always cursing. It was pretty much plug-and-play with the My Sports app, and it automatically scanned my computer to find music files so I was able to add my favourite iTunes playlists with two clicks. The GPS tracking is very entertaining, especially for someone who has a weird fascination with maps. I want to use it to draw pictures – except for maybe not so much the penises. Ahem.

In truth, I think the TomTom Spark has way more features than I will ever use. I have a few friends who are runners, and they would LOVE the timers and distance trackers. I think it’s pretty cool that it also has modes to track everything from swimming to cycling to the treadmill. All that to say, it is more my dedication to competitive sports that is lacking and certainly not the features on the Spark.

There were a few things that I did not love about the Spark, and they are personal peccadilloes based on what I’m already used to. If I were to trade in my FitBit, I would miss the small community of cheerleaders (and challengers) I have built up, and one of my favourite features on my FitBit is the little victory buzz it emits to randomly scare the crap out of me celebrate when I achieve my daily step goal. And the help section for the Spark is entirely comprised of YouTube videos. I know most people would love that, but I’ll happily wade through a 10,000 word help article before capitulating to a two minute video.

Do you use any fitness trackers? What features do you love and what features do you covet? And, have you drawn any cool pictures with your GPS?? I think that’s the feature that I’m going to play with this week!


In which I not only stalk Chef Michael Smith, but convince him to FaceTime with the boys

25 February 2016 Ah, me boys

It’s been nearly two years since I first wrote about stalking my culinary hero, Chef Michael Smith. Since then we’ve been to his Flavour Shack in Souris several times, and for my birthday dinner last year we splurged on an incredible family dinner at his new FireWorks restaurant at the Inn at Bay Fortune. And […]

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Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary to Granny and Papa Lou

19 February 2016 It IS all about me

As it goes, 1966 was a pretty interesting year. The first episodes of Star Trek and Batman aired on TV, and the Oscar for Best Picture went to The Sound of Music. Truman Capote published In Cold Blood, the US Food and Drug Administration declared “the Pill” safe for contraceptive use, NASA launched Lunar Orbiter […]

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Christmas traditions FTW: The reindeer rant

6 December 2015 Happy holidays

I have lost track of the number of times I’ve recycled this post, but it somehow just doesn’t feel like Christmas until I’ve shared it again. Besides, with a new job and a new circle of friends, there’s a whole new audience to edumacate about this most important Christmas factoid. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to […]

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In which she trades taxes for geoducks and confused flour beetles

11 November 2015 It IS all about me

You may have heard there was an earth-shaking transition in the Canadian government this week. Oh no, not the whole Justin Trudeau thing – although that’s been pretty damn cool, too! No, the transition I’m talking about is that on Monday I started my new job as senior communications advisor on social media for Agriculture […]

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