Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Where My Elves At?!?

First, let me say, I love Christmas.

Really, I do!

I love the food and the music and the decorating and the crafting and the giving and everything that IS Christmas.


Right now my office is a wreck. It generally looks like Christmas threw-up, and it’s up to me to clean up the mess.

I have To Do lists coming out of every pocket, handbag and orifice of my being. It’s possible I might need to create a separate To Do list in order to organize my other To Do lists, and…

My longtime frenemy Insomnia has come for an unwelcomed visit.

So, why, you ask, if I love Christmas so much, does it cause me so much stress?

Because I am a woman!

As most any member of the faier sex can tell you, slap us into a red suit, add a beard, and BAM… there’s your Santa!

Therefore, as the Santa in residence here in Mandyland my gift to the men I know and love is a little enlightenment.

Christmas does not just magically manifest!

If you are sitting in a beautifully decorated home, with a delicious meal, surrounded by your loved ones, opening a plethora of thoughtful gifts, then chances are somewhere there is a woman you should be thanking… profusely!


If said women should politely ask you to lend a hand by buying a present or two, hanging some Christmas lights, or making a trip to the post office, do not under any circumstance roll your eyes, sigh or act put out.

Unless you want to end up like this…

Holiday Overload

Consider yourself warned!

Ho, Ho, Ho,


*** This photo was created by Joel Robison and is entitled "Holiday Overload". I highly recommend you click on the picture to check out his Flikr Photostream, and also visit his Facebook Fan Page! He's even a fellow Canuck, bonus!***

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Birthday Auntie Em!!!

So, my daughter’s name is not Dorothy, but she is still lucky enough to have an Auntie Em. In fact whenever the stars and planets align and I get to visit with my sister, who lives on the other side of the continent, I can’t help but grab a hold of the nearest piece of furniture and yell,

“It’s a twister Auntie Em! It’s a twister!”

Early on I made it clear, she must find and marry a man named Henry, so Miss M could have an Auntie Em and Uncle Henry.

However, contrary to my wishes, she met and is in a serious relationship with a guy named Cory… but when I meet him I think I’m going to call him Henry.


I think he looks more like a Henry!

Anyway, today Auntie Em turns 27.

I met her when she was 8, when her Mom and my Dad were dating.

I CANNOT believe it has been 19 years!

In that time I have watched a little girl grow into an amazing woman.

Firstly, she is GORGEOUS!

When Miss M was born, and I saw her amazingly long and thick eyelashes, my first thought was how nice it was she had inherited them from her Auntie Em.

Until I remembered they are not actually biologically related…

With her dark hair, covetous lashes, full lips and hourglass figure, Emilie reminds me of a modern day Snow White.

Could she be waiting for her prince charming to wake her up?

Nope, not this girl!

Emilie is too busy to wait around! If there is work to be done, a party to be planned or a volleyball to be rescued before it hits the floor, she’s got it covered!

Over the years, I have often thought of Emilie as a Little-Momma-in-Training. She cares deeply about the people in her life, and strives to make sure they are happy, healthy and loved.

It you are celebrating a special day, Emilie wants to make it extra special!.

If you are having a hard time, and need a laugh, Emilie to the rescue!

If Emilie is your friend, she is your friend for LIFE!

Her dedication and devotion inspires me every day.

Emilie never settles. Once she makes her mind up about something, she wants to do it the best it can be done. Nothing less will do.

Sometimes, she bites off more than she can chew…

But most of the time she ends up with an amazing accomplishment that she can be proud of.

I know I’m proud of her.

Of all my siblings, Emilie is the most sensitive. After, working with my sister Myriam to create a video montage for Emilie’s University graduation, we gave her a box of tissues before we hit play.

She’s probably crying right now…

So, everyone raise a tissue for Emilie… better known as Auntie Em…

27 today and your adventure is just beginning, the really exciting things are just around the corner.

I can’t wait to sit back and watch as they unfold.

As your older sister I command you to STOP, SIT and HAVE A DRINK!!!!

You deserve it!

I love you!!!


Friday, November 11, 2011

The Poppy

Since I married Mr. Man and came to live in the United States almost 8 years ago, I’ve learned a lot about the differences between the country I now call home, and the country I will always consider my home. Despite basically being siblings of the same continent, there are cultural differences between the U.S. and Canada.

Besides hockey vs football, prime minister vs president and poutine vs chili fries, that is.

One, difference I was pleasantly surprised to discover was how celebratory Americans are of their Military members. Having grown up in a family deeply steeped in Military tradition, it’s always saddened me that more of my countrymen don’t recognize their service members. It has gotten better in the last few years, but sadly it took a war and fallen young soldiers to get the country’s attention.

It’s taken 8 years, but after checking with Mr. Man, I think I’ve finally straightened out the purpose of each of the Military-centric holidays around here….

First, they have Memorial Day, a federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated among communities after the Civil War to commemorate the fallen soldiers. Southern ladies and schoolchildren would decorate the graves of the fallen. By the 20th Century it was changed to Memorial Day and was extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars.

To my Canadian friends think May 2-4… only without the 2-4…

Next there’s Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July. Thanks to the Will Smith movie of the same name, you’d have to live under a rock not to know about this holiday. It marks the day America finally declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain after a long fought struggle.

Canada Day or July 1st also recognizes independence from Britain. Only instead of fighting tooth and nail to claim independence Canada just waited about 90 years, and then asked nicely.

I think that’s originally where the idea of Canadian politeness comes from…

Finally there’s Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, and known to me as Remembrance Day.

Which is today.

Today I think about my family and the contribution they have made to their Country.

Grandfathers, Grandmother, Mother, Father, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins… they all served, or are serving in the military.

I live a long ways from my family, and seriously miss them every day, but especially today.

Most of all, I miss wearing my Poppy.

The United States, does not wear poppies for Nov. 11th. In Canada, we start wearing them right after Halloween.

For my non-Canadian friends here’s the story…

In the spring of 1915 there was a horrific battle in a place called Ypres. There were more than 100,000 Allied casualties and over 6000 Canadians died there in less than 48 hours. As a lasting legacy of the terrible battle Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote a poem called "In Flanders Fields”.

This poem is memorized by every Canadian child, and recited at every Remembrance Day observance across the nation.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

It’s power and beauty is undeniable.

It brings a tear to the eye and goose bumps to the skin.

Canadians wear a poppy to remember the sacrifice of young men who fought and are still fighting.

Today I will keep in my mind the sacrifices the members of the armed forces make in all countries.

I may not have a poppy to put on my lapel, but I will still remember.

11 o’clock, on the 11th day, of the 11th month.

Lest we forget,


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Woman's Prerogative

It's a woman's prerogative to change her mind, and so I am changing mine.

My commitment to post every day, although really putting the fire under my fingers, is not having the result I intended.

I need time to perfect my posts.

Edit, refine, achieve perfection!

Plus, I have something in the works... very hush-hush right now, but coming soon, and requiring my undivided attention.

So, lesson learned.

Quality over Quantity.

See you in a few,


Monday, November 7, 2011

My Arch Nemesis

You wanna know why I find it so hard to find time to write, and create, and exercise, and well do just about anything…

This is why…

Meet “The Laundry”, my arch nemesis!

In my life the priorities are as follows,

1. Family: Kiddo and Hubs
2. Everything else…
3. Housework!

When it comes to dishes, dusting and tidying up, I do the best I can, but generally don’t sweat it.

If my house is messy, c’est la vie, a toddler lives here.

If the shelves are dusty, so what, we’re not allergic.

If the dishes haven’t been done yet, no problem, I’ll get to them eventually.

Unless, I’m expecting visitors, I know the house will be clean, when I get to it.

But the laundry, it seems like I can NEVER get ahead of it!

Like the creepy doll in the horror movie that never goes away, it seems no matter what I do there is a pile of laundry waiting for me.

It just keeps coming back!

I’ll diligently spend an entire afternoon, tackling the beast, finally getting it all washed, dried and put away, then I’ll turn around and find this!

What the hell!!!!

It’s not like I can avoid it. My family can’t walk around naked. Even if we were “those” kind of people, as previously stated, it’s Fall in the Pacific Northwest. It’s COLD up in this joint! There are certain parts of my person I do no wish exposed to such chilly conditions, and I’m sure the Hubs would second and third that statement, if you know what I mean…

As for Miss M.? Well she’s 3. If she could walk around naked all day, every day, I think she’d be living in her own personal nirvana.

I think I’ve hated laundry for as long as I have been responsible for doing it. In fact when I was in University, I went out and bought a brand new outfit in order to avoid the odious task for just one, more, day.

A picture of fiscal responsibility, that’s me!

Even as I write this I’m surrounded. There is a pile waiting to greet me as I walk upstairs, another at the top of the stairs waiting to be brought down to washer, and another next to my bed!

And the worst part is, I know the evil will only grow larger right after I finish this and head to bed.

So, I guess it's time to wave the white flag and surrender.

Fine Laundry, you win!

Til death do us part…

Or at least I hope…

Haunted by dryer sheets

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Ray of Sunshine

Fall has arrived in Portland, and with it the rain. The gray, depressing, never ending rain.

Going hand and hand with the rain, the cold has also descended. A gray cold that creeps into your bones, leaving a chill that never goes away. Having grown up in Canada I thought I’d experienced the worst cold there was, but the frigid damp here is like the spiny fingers of death, stealing into your soul, and never letting go.

So, what’s a girl to do to keep her spirits up and stay warm?

How about singing in the rain?

Singing in the rain….

What a glorious feeling…

I’m HAPPY again!

One amazing and silly Daddy + one giggling little girl =

A sure fire cure to the rainy day blues!

Catching the little rays of sunshine, and holding them close,


Friday, November 4, 2011

The Small Stuff

A perk of being a Canadian/U.S. family is that we get to celebrate Thanksgiving twice. My husband kindly cooks a yummy turkey dinner for me in October, to honor Canadian Thanksgiving. Then we have turkey with all the fixings again in November, to honor American Thanksgiving.

And, when I say honor, read “excuse to have turkey dinner, with all the fixings, TWICE”.

So, Oct. 10th came and went, and we participated in the required gluttonous celebrations, and now Nov. has arrived and in a few weeks we will get to do it all over again! The difference this time however, is that the rest of the country we live in is about to celebrate too, and so leading up to the big day there are all kinds of fun activities to participate in.

One currently running on Facebook is “30 Days of Thanks”. Everyone is encouraged to post one item each day for the 30 days of November, that they are thankful for. I personally think this is a great way to remember how lucky we all are, but you do remember “Focus”, right?

Um, that wasn’t even the whole list that runs through my head, each and every minute of every day. I DO NOT need another commitment to worry about!

Instead I’ve decided to use the activity as blog fodder, and thereby continue to fulfill the time consuming commitment I already made at the beginning of November.

Wait a minute….

Anyway, here we go….

But before I start let me warn you, my husband, daughter, parents, friends and family will not be included in this list. My love and thanks for each and every one of them, and recognition of their importance in my life, is something I acknowledge EVERY day, not just during November.


1. Elevators. I’m not lazy, and do occasionally take the stairs, but sometimes you have a wedgie that needs picking, and an empty elevator can be the perfect place to take care of business.

2. Baby farts. When a precious, innocent little bundle of joy lets one rip, I can hardly keep a straight face for more than about 5 seconds.

3. Silence. I love talk and laughter, but sometimes there is absolutely nothing better than complete and utter silence. It’s so rare in our society, and ESPECIALLY rare in my life!

4. Baths. I DISLIKE showers! There is nothing better in life, than sitting in a steaming hot bath and allowing the heat to soak right in to your bones. And, to those of you who insist that bathing = sitting in your own filth, all I can say is “Seriously, how dirty ARE you!?!?”

5. A new book. Holding it in my hands, I feel a palpable bubble of glee rise from my stomach, straight up my throat, erupting in a squeal befitting a 5 year old. I just can’t help it! Aren’t you excited before you visit a new place??? Well a new book is a new world, with new friends, just waiting to welcome you with open arms.

6. A steaming hot, non-fat, CafĂ© Mocha, without whip cream… it’s a guilty indulgence, that’s almost guilt free.

7. Getting older. It means I’m not dead yet!

8. Ugly Christmas Sweaters. All you can do is laugh, and hope the person wearing it is being funny, and doesn’t actually think it’s the height of fashion.

9. Toddler Plumber Butt. The curse of being too tall for one pant size, but not big enough around for another. The blessing being everyone can then enjoy the cutest crack in existence.

10. Peanut Butter and Bacon sandwiches. Hey, don’t knock it til you try it!

11. Seasons. When you don’t have the weather to talk about with obscure relatives, things can get pretty awkward. Believe me, I lived in Guam for 2 years. Sun, humidity, and rain, that was about it!

12. Silly moments. My 6’2” husband dancing around the living room, pretending to be a ballerina, just to make me laugh, is PRICELESS!

13. Sleeping naked. TMI, I know, but it’s seriously the freest I feel all day.

14. A new Paper Source catalogue. I usually get so excited, I pee a little.

15. Art. Color, beauty, inspiration…. Magic!

16. Severe weather. As long as it isn’t endangering anyone’s life, it’s kind of exciting!

17. Being born in the 20th century. If I’d been born in mediaeval times, I would of likely been burned at the stake, for the singular crime of possessing red hair!

18. Spellcheck. For the amount I read, I still can’t spell to save my life.

19. The piece entitled “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”. If only everyone would live by these rules.

20. Great Quotes.

21. Clothing that is sized large. I know it’s just a number, and I know shouldn’t care, but when I can fit into a pair of pants, labeled one size smaller than I usually wear, it makes me do a little jig of happiness.

22. A Bargain. You can’t brag about something you paid a fortune for, but when someone compliments you on the dress you got on sale…

23. Meeting with a new friend for the very first time.

24. Perfectly medium rare steak. If it makes my mashed potatoes turn pink, it’s PERFECTION!

25. Radom uniqueness. Art, antiques, toys, clothing, it doesn’t really matter. If it’s a little bit different and quirky, then I’m smitten.

26. Counting down the days til a big event. It feels like a little celebration every time you cross a day off the calendar.

27. Freshly washed sheets. I’m telling you, when you sleep naked, those sheets are even more decadent feeling!

28. Going barefoot. It could be the middle of the winter, and my feet will be ice cold, yet I cannot bring myself to put on socks.

29. LISTS!!!

30. Dancing and singing at the top of my lungs in the middle of a large group of people. Everyone looks like an idiot, no one can hear if you are out of tune, and it’s the best opportunity to completely let loose!

Well, then. That’s it.

Phew! That was actually harder than I thought it would be.

But it was nice to sit down and shine a spotlight on the small stuff that makes me smile every day.

I firmly believe if you can celebrate the small stuff, then every day will be a mini celebration!

So pass the confetti,

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Words to Live By

With the Occupy movement spreading throughout the United States, and debates raging around the complicated issues. It's important to take a step back and remember that the important things really aren't that complicated.

This is hands down my absolute favorite “poem” ever. It is actually drawn from a book by Robert Fulghum. I remember the first time I read it, I was in University. I was at a poster fair at the start of the year, and there it was on a poster. Through my many moves, the poster eventually got ruined, but the message of these words still sticks with me, and gives me chills every time I read it.

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandbox at Sunday School. These are the things I learned…

Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat.


Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Live a balanced life - Learn some and Think some and Draw and Paint and Sing and Dance and Play and Work every day some.

Take a nap every afternoon.

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.

Be aware of wonder.

Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup-they all die.

So do we.

And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned-the biggest word of all - LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living. Take any of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm.

Think what a better world it would be if all of us -- the whole world -- had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are – when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

Simple yet, so powerful! I encourage you to pass it on as a reminder that sometimes life is not as comlicated as we make it.

Going out to get a new poster,


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

If it's not moving..

What is your criteria for deeming leftovers inedible?

In my house growing up the rule of thumb was if it smelled okay, wasn’t incubating any extra life forms, and generally still resembled food, then go ahead and dive in.

My Mom is a connoisseur of leftovers.

She loves leftover chicken, pizza and steak. No need to heat them up. She prefers them cold, maybe a side of crackers, a few baby carrots tossed on the plate for color. Snuggled in the corner of the couch, her plate balanced on the arm, nose in a good book, and viola you have my Mom’s perfect lunch break.

Perfection, perhaps, only rivaled by the incredibly rare, mother-daughter shopping sprees, her and I share about once a year, when she and my Step-Dad are able to visit.

Yes, Mom, I know… it’s my own fault for moving all the way to the other side of the continent… in my next life I’ll fall in love with the guy next door, I promise.

My Dad, on the other hand is the king of what he calls Goulash… and no not the authentic German variety.

My Dad’s Goulash always happened on a Tuesday or Wednesday night, when the selection of leftover food was at its peak. With children sitting around the kitchen table, contemplating various levels of schoolwork, my Dad would open the fridge to peruse his ingredients.

A little leftover meat, maybe some leftover veggies, perhaps some sauce… whatever he didn’t have in the form of leftovers, he’d fill in with a can of Campbell soup, and he’d top the whole thing off with some pasta… usually macaroni.

It was always tasty, often contained curry, and 100% of the time only required one pan to make. The rest of the dishes for the night consisted of the 5 or 6 containers he had emptied in the process of creating his masterpiece.

All that to say, in my childhood, leftovers may not have lasted in the fridge for very long, but if they did, we NEVER threw them away unless they showed signs of being spoiled.

Food cost money, and in my family, money was often tight.

So, imagine my bewilderment, when I arrived home today, early for the first time in FOREVER, with an actual PLAN for dinner only to be thwarted by a leftover thief!!

I had planned on Corn Casserole, Leftover Ribs and salad…. Yum, right?

The conversation went like this…

ME: Mr. Man, where are the leftover ribs?

HIM: Oh, my Mom told me to throw them away yesterday, they were bad.

ME: (At an earsplitting shrill octave) WHAAAATTTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They were smoked on your Dad’s BBQ on SATURDAY, yesterday was TUESDAY!! In what universe does cooked meat go bad in THREE DAYS?!?!

Were they smelly, slimy, furry, discolored or moving?

HIM: No.

ME: Well then WTF!!!!????!!!

Now, you might think this a slight overreaction on my part. After all they were just leftover ribs, get a grip right? But this is not the first time my sweet “better-half” has pitched perfectly good and delicious food.

One year, Mr. Man threw away the scrumptious leftover pineapple upside down cake he had made me only three days earlier for MY birthday. It was wrapped in tinfoil, sitting on the counter one day, and when I came into the kitchen the next evening, with a hankering for a slice of tasty cake and cold glass of milk, it was gone!

I should have had him arrested for theft… that cake was MINE!

Another time he decided the pot of soup made the night before and left on our stove, with the lid on, in our COLD kitchen had gone bad, since it hadn’t been in the fridge.

It didn’t contain dairy, eggs, or raw meat. It hadn’t been sitting in the sun. It hadn’t been uncovered for bugs or foreign particles to invade. No one had scratched their ass and then stuck their hand in the pot….

So how, HOW in any possible stretch of the imagination could it have gone bad?????

Seriously, am I crazy? Okay, don’t answer that!

But, am I misinformed? Is there some sort of fast growing super bug that lurks in leftover food? Am I going to eat a piece of 2 day old chicken, get infected and turn into a zombie… thereby bringing on the Apocalypse and the end of life as we know it?

If so, please tell me now, cause I’m actually REALLY afraid of zombies!!!

Risking it for some 5 day old homemade cookies,


Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I wanna…

Learn about photography, and
Go on a date with my husband, and
Get healthy, and
Be a success, and
Start on my Christmas cards, and
Style my new home, and
Have friends over for dinner, and
Finish ORGANIZING above mentioned home, and
Write, and
Create, and
Spend more time with my little girl, while she’s still little, and
Find the perfect pair of gray boots, in my size, and of course, on sale, and
Pursue new opportunities, and
Find balance, and…

Just stop and breathe………………………………………………………

Sometimes, my mind spins like a top, with so many ideas and desires and goals. I can’t focus.

I was taught,

“If you’re going to do something, do it right, or don’t bother!”

It’s a good lesson, but… I sometimes wonder how I internalized it. In some areas of my life good enough seems fine…

The house is mostly clean…
My pants are mostly ironed…
Diner is mostly nutritious…

But, in other areas I’m stalled by the idea of not wanting to start because I can’t do it RIGHT.

I’m beginning to think I need to adopt a “good enough” attitude, or I’ll never get started on the things I really want to do!

So this month I’m committing to getting started!

My goal is to write and post SOMETHING every day.

A story, randomness, my grocery list…. Doesn’t matter. I just need to write something.

The most famous writers in the world all say that in order to be a really good writer you need to practice… you need to write!

So here goes nothing…. my new mantra for the month…

(Love this print... available at the Keep Calm Shop)

Wish me luck,