Skyscrapers, Ok Go

This song has been in my head all week.  I cannot get rid of it, and I don’t much want to.  I love how the more I watch, the more I see – the intimacy, the betrayal, the redemption, all in three and a half minutes of tango. Beautiful, just beautiful.  Ok Go has produced some amazing videos, but this may just be my favourite.

Here is the video:

And just in case you are curious, here are the lyrics:

Skyscrapers, please forgive me.
I didn’t mean a word I said.
Skyscrapers, I was just tangled up in my own head.

And somehow in all the madness,
I thought that I was seeing straight.
It ain’t always pretty, but it seemed there was no other way.

And I guess all I ever loved was standing right before my eyes,
and I, oh oh oh I .. I was blind.

So skyscrapers, please forgive me.
I stand here a penitent man.
Skyscrapers, I’ll never look down again … again …
‘Cause I guess all I ever loved was standing right before my eyes.
Oh yeah, I guess all I ever loved was standing … was standing … was standing here all the time, and I .. yeah I .. I was blind … I was blind … I was blind

You were right here all the time.
You were right here all the time and I was blind.
I was blind.
I was blind.
oh I was blind.
I was blind.


PS.  I would love to have the green-blue-purple spectrum clothes.  Not sure if I could get Darren into any of those suits though…



Punny Guys

For those not acquainted with my family, it is a well known fact that my father is a punster. He’s a smart guy, and while his jokes occasionally fall flat, most of them are pretty good. (I laugh at the good ones anyways). But he really shines when it comes to puns. Enter my husband, also a smart guy, and a closet punster. Over the past eleven years it has been a pleasure to watch their punny battles – the mutual admiration as one of them nails a really good pun and the growing one-up-manship as the pun-skirmish gets longer and longer is a delight to behold.

The following exchange occurred this past Boxing Day. Darren and I had spent Christmas night at my sister’s house while our kids slept at my parents place.   Boxing Day dawned, cloudy and cold, and the exiles were summoned back to the homestead for brunch…

(Darren is the green, Dad is the white, “NitNits” is my Dad’s word for “Tintin”.  He likes to reverse words for fun.  Benno becomes Onneb, you get the idea.  Anyway, on with the hilarity!)









So, did you laugh or groan or both?

Happy Friday:)

Alice Advice

“I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.”
Alice, “Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll

What I try to do when I am sad and feeling low.

  1. Don’t look at blogs and websites that are better than yours.  You will just get more depressed about how much you want to do with yours that you don’t have the time to do.  And for heaven’s sake, don’t look at the “Home Decor” or “DIY & Crafts” sections on Pinterest.  Stick to “Humour” and “Geek”.
  2. Pick one small task.  Do it. This could be as little as clearing off one spot in your kitchen.  Then you can look at that clean spot and think: “I did that” And you did!
  3. Eat a butter tart square.  Just one.  You will feel better.
  4. Pick one more small task.  Do that.
  5. Take a couple of deep breaths.  Look out the window.  Hopefully it is sunny.  Smile, even if it isn’t.

You will be okay.

Branding: Staged to Sell

Bright Lily Creative is my side-hustle where I help small businesses establish an integrated online presence. I enjoy getting to know people, learning about their stories, and figuring out what makes them tick.  Bright Lily Creative allows me to collaborate with other small businesses, to translate their day-to-day operations into beautiful, functional design, and to share that vision with their customers. 

Full disclosure: this is my Mom’s business.  She is a home stager, which means that when you want to sell your house she will rearrange it so that it looks amazing for the showings.  She can also help you with choosing paint colours for your house.  My job was to come up with a logo and a business card (my sister put together her website).  Here are the results!

Here’s the logo:


And the business card:


Check out their website at staged to !



Most Beautiful Thing: Literature and Imagination

A few days ago Jason Borkowski, the principal of Benno’s school, wrote about upcoming changes to our school library on his blog, CatholicPrincipal.  For those of you who may not have time to read the post, the gist is that because our school is offering two classes of kindergarten next year instead of the regular single class, space is at a premium in our small school.  As a result, the library will be temporarily displaced.  Mr. Borkowski asked for parent feedback and, in a fit of inspiration, I replied to his post with the following behemoth. Coincidentally, my reply happens to fit in nicely with my Monday posting about “The Most Beautiful Thing”.  Ah, serendipity…

I think downsizing the library is a good opportunity to “refine” the book selection available to make sure that our kids are reading beautiful, uplifting, interesting, and creative material that will feed their imaginations and their intellect.

If the universe was mine to control, or the CCS library selection at least, I would keep all the books that are original works and temporarily archive all the books that are spin-offs of other media. For example, keep “Asterix and Oblix” but pack away all the Star Wars books (my son loves both, by the way, so I am not making these comments based on my child’s preference, but my own). If the book came first, keep it. If the book is a merchandising spin off, box it up for a year.

From their first poop in a “Winnie the Pooh” newborn diaper to their first “Thomas the Train” swimsuit, from their first pair of “Dora” runners to their first “Transformers” school backpack, our kids are bombarded with profit-driven merchandise that demands their allegiance to a particular product. Maybe instead of reinforcing these patterns in our school library, we should give their brains a rest from all this profit-driven advertising and, just for a single year, give precedence to original creative works.

Original works of fiction have the ability to open up our imagination in surprising and delightful ways. I first read “The Lion. The Witch, and The Wardrobe” when I was in grade two. I was a voracious reader, I was home with a cold, and I was bored to death of everything else in the house. I remember looking at my parents’ bookshelf at the end of our hallway, picking up Lewis’ work, and going to the living room to curl up on the couch to read and feel wretched. (I may have asked my Mom’s permission to read the book first – I can’t remember that part). As I began to read about the Pevensies and their adventures I was transported away from my home on Fairfield Island in Chilliwack to wartime England and then to Narnia, that most magical of worlds. When my Mom called me in to dinner that night my body may have been at the dinner table with the rest of my family, but my mind and my heart were with Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy as they struggled to defeat the White Witch.

To this day, I love being utterly captivated by a good work of fiction (just ask my husband and my kids!). A good book has the capacity to change us, to transform us into better people, to turn our hearts towards the good, the beautiful, and the true so deftly and silently that we hardly realize the transformation until we finish the last paragraph, close the cover, put down the book, and give a sigh of contentment. When I’m reading to my kids, it isn’t Strawberry Shortcake or the retelling of Disney’s “Cinderella” that holds my interest. For the most part I suffer through the stilted storylines and mundane illustrations. It’s “Green Eggs and Ham” and “Pinkalicious” and “The Hobbit” and “The Hungry Caterpillar” and “This Can’t Be Happening at MacDonald Hall” and “The Boy Who Ate Books” and all the other myriad of original works that sparks my imagination and makes reading to my children a joy rather than a chore.

Why not use this opportunity to encourage our children to explore creative and original works of fiction, rather than reinforce media-driven literature? Now that would be truly counter cultural and would, I suspect, substantially help the school to live out its mandate* of teaching our children about truth, goodness, and beauty.

*(“Statement of School Philosophy”, page 4, CCS Parent Handbook)

One Hundred

one hundred

My blog is now just over a year old and this is my hundredth post.  A lot has happened in the past year, and I can’t tell you what a joy it has been to have this outlet for my creative energy.  I’ve been eyeing this milestone for a while now, and I’ve actually been doing a fair amount of procrastinating now that the time has come to write Post #100.  What should I say?  Should I try to be funny or wise or nonchalant?  Does one hundred posts and a year of blogging matter?  Is it worth celebrating or should I wait for a bigger milestone before I really try to make a big deal out of this?

Well, the answer to the last few questions is “of course I should make a big deal out of it” because it is a big deal to me.  Like I said, this blog has been a fantastic outlet for my creativity and has inspired a lot of positive changes in my life.  It has allowed me to start dreaming again after a time where I felt that dreaming was something for people other than myself.  The internet is a big place and there is a spot for everyone who wants some real estate.  And this humble little place is mine, all mine.

So, to celebrate this Happy Hundred I will compose a small list of things I have learned since I began this blog.

1. I love to write.  When I was little I loved to read and write poetry.  I continued to ply my angsty pen throughout my teenage years – some of that output makes me cringe and some of it is actually not half bad.  In university I chose to do an Honours thesis for my undergraduate degree and I wrote a 190 page thesis for my Masters degree.  It was an incredible amount of hard work, but seeing the final result was extremely gratifying.  This blog has rekindled my authorial ambitions and encouraged me to use lovely polysyllabic words like “authorial.”

2. I have learned that blogging has its seasons. There will be slow times, there will be times when the words rush from my fingers like grasshoppers scattering before me on a hot summer afternoon in the prairies, and there will be times when I am so busy that I can scarcely string together a coherent sentence, let along prep it for publication.

In a perfect world I would be posting two to three times a week, but the tyranny of the immediate does have a tendency to … tyrannize… over my artistic endeavours. For example, you may have noticed that I haven’t posted in about a month or so.  This is because I have been up to my eyeballs in planning a fundraiser for my son’s school.  This year I was in charge of public relations for the event and overseeing the silent auction portion of the evening.  Lots of time and effort, but worth it.  The event is over, so hopefully I’ll be able to post a little more frequently.

3. Learning how to manage my online presence is both fun and challenging.  I must admit, watching my stats go up whenever I post does quite a lot for the ego, and I thank each and every person who has taken the time to read this blog. It is great to write and it is lovely to know that someone is actually reading what I have written!

Having this digital space also means that my life is fodder for the blog.  It is very easy to go to an event, spend a lot of time taking what I hope will be cool photos, and plan out how I will write about what is going on. And in the middle of all that, I find that I haven’t really been present and I have missed actually being with my family.  I become a journalist rather than a wife and mother.  Furthermore, getting caught up in the digital world can sometimes do more harm than good.

All in all it has been an interesting exercise in personal branding – how “plugged in” should I be? I dabble in Twitter and Instagram and there is always Facebook, but promoting yourself and your ideas can be a little overwhelming.  I guess, like all things, I am still learning to find the balance between living my life and writing about it.

4. Over these hundred posts I have learned that, with grace, I have the ability to be myself, regardless of whatever I encounter.  If you have ever read Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (the book, mind you, not the appalling adaptation that they tried to pass off as a movie), you will know that Bridget encounters the Rudyard Kipling’s poem, If, at a critical time in her life.  I re-read that book before Christmas and I found that Kipling’s poem really resonated with me.  I was going to give you an excerpt, but here’s the whole thing:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a man, my son!

Keep your head, hold on to your virtue, don’t lose the common touch.  Be a good leader, don’t stoop to lies and hate, seek the good, the true, and the beautiful. It’s that difficult, and that easy.

And that concludes my not-so-short list of things learned.  Thank you, again, for reading what I write!  I always love to hear your thoughts and comments, so keep them coming.  Here’s to another hundred posts!

Butter Tart Squares

Butter Tarts (Canadian Living, photography by Edward Pond)

So the request from Zoe was followed by a suggestion from my Mom to post the Butter Tart Squares recipe that was featured in the same Canadian Living magazine as the Lemon Squares recipe. Although I feel a little like I am giving away all of my secrets, here it is.  I suppose I can’t claim exclusive rights to something that was published in a national magazine over twenty years ago… (I actually found the original recipe here and discovered that my Mom, genius that she is, has actually doubled the recipe so that you bake it in a 9×13 pan instead of a 9×9 pan.  Good move, Mom, good move.)

Butter Tart Squares

This recipe follows the same pattern as the Lemon Squares recipe – shortbread base with a topping.  So here goes. Blend the following ingredients using either a mixer or a dough blender.

2 cups flour
1 cup margarine
1/2 cup sugar

Press the crumbs into a 9×13 ungreased pan (glass is best) and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  While that is baking, mix together the following ingredients.  Just use the same bowl you used for the shortbread base – don’t worry about cleaning it out.

2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
4 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 pinches salt
2 cups raisins
1 cup chopped nuts (I use walnuts, but pecans would be good too)

When the shortbread is done pull it out of the oven and pour the topping on the shortbread.  Bake at 350 degrees (same temperature as the shortbread, so it is nice and simple) for 25 minutes or until it is nearly set.  Just like for the lemon squares, the way that I test the doneness (not even a word, but whatever) is gently life up one end of the pan.  If the middle barely moves, it is done.  If the middle shifts significantly, put it in for another few minutes.

The best part of this recipe is that you get all the deliciousness of butter tarts without having to bother with individual tart cups.  I’m all about efficient baking, and squares certainly fit that description!

Lemon Squares

English: Shortbread lemon squares. Italiano: S...

This post is for my friend, Zoe, who requested my lemon square recipe.  I got this from my Mom who got it from Canadian Living or something (Mom, feel free to clarify the origins of the recipe).  They are extremely good.

Lemon Shortbread Squares

Blend the following ingredients using either a mixer or a dough blender.

2 cups flour
1 cup margarine
1/2 cup sugar

Press the crumbs into a 9×13 ungreased pan (glass is best) and bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.  While that is baking, mix together the following ingredients.  Just use the same bowl you used for the shortbread base – don’t worry about cleaning it out.

2 cups sugar
4 eggs
4 teaspoons grated lemon peel (approx 2 lemons worth)
6 Tablespoons lemon juice (just squeeze out the lemons and supplement with bottled lemon juice)
4 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (NOT soda, I made that mistake once)
1/2 teaspoon salt

When the shortbread is done pull it out of the oven and pour the topping on the shortbread.  Bake at 325 degrees (same temperature as the shortbread, so it is nice and simple) for 25 minutes or until it is nearly set.  The way that I test the doneness (not even a word, but whatever) is gently life up one end of the pan.  If the middle barely moves, it is done.  If the middle shifts significantly, put it in for another few minutes.  Although I will say that underdone lemon squares are better than overdone lemon squares.  I also know this from experience.

Happy lemon-squaring!

Killing the Candida

First of all, did you know that Candida has its own theme song? Oh yes it does!

I was going to post the live version, but there is some extraordinarily annoying clapping during Tony Orlando’s live performance.

Subjecting you to Tony Orlando is my way of announcing that my candida levels have dropped from a “10” in November to a “0” in February! Ha ha!! Which means that my “no-go” food list has shrunk to this:


I went to the a Valentines Pro-Life Dinner and Dance and I was able to have about three-quarters of the food in the buffet line. For the first time in three months I tried pickles (and more pickles), Cesar salad, and parmesan (ok, I cheated a little bit with the dairy). For the most part, I felt great, and when I could feel my head starting to get a little fuzzy, I just stopped ingesting the culprit, namely the Thai vegetable salad. But I had chocolate for dessert, and it was divine!!!

I thought I would write about this today because I have been spending the afternoon meal planning. Now that I can eat a wider variety of food, I thought I would take the time to crack open our cookbook collection to see whether I could vary our diet a little bit.

When cooking for my small family, I need recipes that are healthy, quick, and easy. No big deal, right? I can adjust recipes to use wheat and dairy alternatives (or just add the dairy after at the table), but I have discovered that a disproportionate amount of healthy, quick, easy dinner recipes contain tomatoes. They are everywhere. I know that you can substitute zucchini for tomatoes, but I think that only works for small amounts. I can’t imagine making the zucchini switch for a 28 oz can of tomatoes with juice. It just doesn’t translate. After looking through two cookbooks (one vegetarian and the other was just soups and stews) I was left with a total of four recipes that my children would eat and did not contain tomatoes. But hey, that’s four recipes that I couldn’t eat two weeks ago, so things are still looking up. And I’m sure my family will appreciate the variation in our dinners.

Nevertheless, if you have any healthy, quick, and easy recipes that are free from dairy, wheat, beef, pork, and tomatoes, would you mind passing them my way?

Update: I’m still having issues with onions and celery. I think the celery may be the main culprit, at least I’m hoping it is the celery… So the Dutch Farmer’s Soup I made for dinner two nights ago knocked me out. Oh well, at least the kids liked it. We have used it as a veggie side dish and that has been quite successful.

Most beautiful thing: Creativity

This Sunday was beautiful, and so is today, and it is a relief to sit outside in the fresh air and not get rained on. But the “most beautiful” title this week goes to my children and all the nifty things they create.

Benno and his “Lava Minion” – check out the blaster.


Cate’s portraits of our family. Notice that I am holding John.


John and his colouring. He generally can put the caps back on the felts by himself!