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The Lainie List

I love when we roast marshmallows in the house.
  1. Big Ideas Inside: A Creativity Pad for Dreamers
  2. 24 Days of Kindness for Preschoolers
  4. Pantone’s Colour of the Year.
  5. I like to Move It.  Tate’s new favourite song.
  6. Craft a Life You Love
  7. 52 Lists for Togetherness
  8. love these.  Buckskin Chopper Mitts from LL Bean
  9. South Shore Annexe Craft Table |
  10. The residue of creativity
  11. How to Be an Artist
  12. Why Is Japan Still So Attached to Paper? – The New York Times
  13. Slow-Cooker Maple Pork Shoulder with Apples
  14. Thatcher’s favourite song right now.
  15. Gingerbread Man Cookie recipe
  16. Royal Icing recipe

How Beautiful They Go…

“How pleasant to walk over beds of these fresh, crisp, and rustling fallen leaves….
How beautiful they go to their graves!”

—Thoreau, October 12, 1853

Thoreau, our great chronicler of the seasons, wrote a lot about the falling leaves in October, noting all the different colors and hues. Their colors aside, he thought, like many things in nature, they could teach us something about accepting our own internal seasons, and our mortality.

October 22, 1853:

Consider what a vast crop is thus annually shed upon the earth. This, more than any mere grain or seed, is the great harvest of the year. This annual decay and death, this dying by inches…. The year’s great crop. They teach us how to die.

October — Harvest Time — was also a month for Thoreau to contemplate his “harvest of thought.”

On October 24, he writes, “My eye is educated to discover anything on the ground…. It is probably wholesomer to look at the ground much than at the heavens.”


[Update: 4PM: I had no idea that Thoreau actually collected his thoughts on fall in the 1862 essay, “Autumnal Tints.” See this piece, “Revisiting the Splendor of Thoreau’s ‘Autumnal Tints,’ 150 Years Later.” This is one of the amazing things about reading Thoreau’s journal before you read the published work — he pilfered so much from his daily writing that you know exactly where sentences and sections come from, and it’s fascinating to see how he changed them.]

The writing above is directly quoted from a post by Austin Kleon.  You can read the entire post here: The Leaves.  I wanted to hold onto it somewhere because there is so much to think about…

  • the life cycle of leaves and how through their death, it creates life for another.
  • the idea of nature and its relation to our internal seasons
  • annual decay and death.  I wonder if we experience this in our lives annually.  I don’t mean actual decay or death, but more metaphorically?  Are there things that are slowly disintegrating or coming to an end?  And do we even realize it?
  • love the term, “Harvest of Thought.”  Lots to play with there.
  • “It is probably wholesomer to look at the ground much than at the heavens.”  How often are we looking and planning ahead, rather than paying attention to right now?  I know I do.
  • Autumnal Tints.  Ugh.  Love the language. So good.
  • “he pilfered so much from his daily writing…”  I need to get back to a daily writing practice.





my enneagram numbers.

I look an enneagram test and these were my results:



















The enneagram numbers are across the top column, from type 1 to 9.  The numbers beneath were my scores based on the survey I filled out.

My top numbers:

Type 4: The Artist: Intuitive and Reserved (*my highest score)
Type 3: The Motivator: Adaptable and Success-oriented
Type 2: The Helper: Caring and Nurturing

The Romantic (Enneagram Type Four)

Romantics have sensitive feelings and are warm and perceptive.

How to Get Along with Me:

  • Give me plenty of compliments. They mean a lot to me.
  • Be a supportive friend or partner. Help me to learn to love and value myself.
  • Respect me for my special gifts of intuition and vision.
  • Though I don’t always want to be cheered up when I’m feeling melancholy, I sometimes like to have someone lighten me up a little.
  • Don’t tell me I’m too sensitive or that I’m overreacting

What I Like About Being a Four:

  • my ability to find meaning in life and to experience feeling at a deep level
  • my ability to establish warm connections with people
  • admiring what is noble, truthful, and beautiful in life
  • my creativity, intuition, and sense of humor
  • being unique and being seen as unique by others
  • having aesthetic sensibilities
  • being able to easily pick up the feelings of people around me

What’s Hard About Being a Four:

  • experiencing dark moods of emptiness and despair
  • feelings of self-hatred and shame; believing I don’t deserve to be loved
  • feeling guilty when I disappoint people
  • feeling hurt or attacked when someone misundertands me
  • expecting too much from myself and life
  • fearing being abandoned
  • obsessing over resentments
  • longing for what I don’t have

Fours as Children Often:

  • have active imaginations: play creatively alone or organize playmates in original games
  • are very sensitive
  • feel that they don’t fit in
  • believe they are missing something that other people have
  • attach themselves to idealized teachers, heroes, artists, etc.
  • become anti-authoritarian or rebellious when criticized or not understood
  • feel lonely or abandoned (perhaps as a result of a death or their parents’ divorce)

Fours as Parents:

  • help their children become who they really are
  • support their children’s creativity and originality
  • are good at helping their children get in touch with their feelings
  • are sometimes overly critical or overly protective
  • are usually very good with children if not too self-absorbed


To take an enneagram test or to read the descriptions, check out: 9types


Oh man, where do I even start.  This is totally me.

For acquaintances and friends on Instagram, you see my creative side, my aesthetic, and how I care about people.  What few see, except for my husband, is what’s hard about being me.

I have feelings of self-hatred, often.  I feel disgusting in my own skin (harsh, but true).  I’m double the size of what I used to be.  I ate the old Lainie.  I often feel like I’m not doing enough for those around me.  I should be a better mom.  a better wife.  a better friend.  a better daughter.  I expect waaaay too much from myself and life.

I long for things all the time.  I worry about being misunderstood and overly censor myself to the point where others don’t always get to see the real me.   I feel dark moods of emptiness and question whether I matter.  I think that’s why Imperfect Boss Camp shook me like it did.

Picture a group of creative women sitting in a camp hall during a keynote speaker.  The speaker says, You are enough.  You matter.  And Lainie is sitting there on the verge of tears because it hit a little too close to home.  Because I don’t often feel that I’m enough and I don’t even know when that started.

Now I want to go back through my enneagram results and come up with a plan (which is so me.  I need to take action.  Information is nice to know but a person needs to do something with it.)

I want to share my How to Get Along with Me info with my husband, even though the guy has known me for over 20+ years (he knows me better than I know myself sometimes).  In sharing it, I hope to better communicate what I need.  And with What’s Hard About Being a Four, I need to think about what I can do to support myself during those times.

Whether quizzes are seen as silly or not, if it makes me reflect on my behaviour and who I am, it’s well worth my time.



If you have kids and they’re old enough, it might be interesting to have them do an enneagram quiz.  I wrote a post that shares some links if you’re interested.  Or you could  read the descriptions of each number with your kids in mind.

In reading the description for Enneagram Four, I worry about Thatcher.  I think he’s a four too.  He’s such a sensitive soul who laughs in our faces when getting into trouble (total anti-authoritarian).  We will need to keep an eye on him and love on him big time.  Being a four is hard.

There’s also an interesting section about marriages and enneagram numbers.  Look out, Eric Holmes, I see you being subjected to an enneagram test in your near future 🙂



I drew this in my notebook the other night.  I will admit that I had a moment of… this looks like witch craft.  It looks like one of those pentacle symbols.  It’s also kind of cool.  Maybe witches were on to something…

I had never heard of the word enneagram until I went to the Imperfect Boss Camp.

Since then, I have taken at least 5 different free tests that I have found online.  Below are two of my favourite tests if you want to give it a try (favourite, as in I liked the questions):

Just in reading the questions and answering them, you will learn a little more about yourself.

And this website blew my mind with the amount of information about the meaning behind enneagram numbers.  I could only skim during my first go because I knew that I would need to read it again with my notebook and pen in hand.

From what I’ve learned so far, you look for the number that is the largest to determine your enneagram type.  Then there is something called your wing number; it’s your next largest number and is usually close to your enneagram number in the pentagram drawing.  If you’re reading this and I’m wrong or you have a better explanation, please join in!

When you read this site, you will find yourself thinking, oh my god, that’s so me!  It gives a break down of each type (how to get along with me, what I like about being a ___#, what’s hard about it, what we’re like as parents, etc.) Just look up along the top beneath the main menu to find your enneagram number (it’s hard to find at first).

If you try it, let me know what number you were!  I’m just starting to learn about it but it seems like one of those things that should be shared with friends and family.  The more we know about each other’s nuances and what we need, the more aware and supportive we can be.


my 2018 Christmas Wish List.

  1. a drop-in six pack at
    (Thank you, Mom!  She gave me an early Christmas present.)
  2. a lighting kit (ask Eric)
  3. a tarot set
  4. Pentel pens
  5. bath bombs from anywhere
  6. a desk lamp from IKEA (this or this) (*update Nov. 12th – I bought myself one of these lamps last week.  Sorry, Mom 🙂 She has always said, don’t buy yourself anything before Christmas.)
  7. new moccasins
  8. iPhone holder (for video)
  9. a Get to Work Book or #10.
  10. Powersheets from Cultivate (my first pick)
  11. a business plan for my WordPress account
  12. Kraft cards and envelopes



For our family, a magical part of Christmas was being able to wish.  It didn’t mean that it would happen; it meant that you got to imagine what if…

Every year during a visit to Flanders, we would sit with Grandma Lainie and flip through the Sears Wish Book.  We would go through page by page as she asked us what we liked.  I don’t know if she ever bought any of the things we talked about; it didn’t matter.  Just going through the book with her was fun.

Grandma Lainie continued to make her wish lists even in her 70s.  I wrote my own list last year: My Christmas Wish List.
Along with it being fun to wish, it’s kind of neat to see how our list captures who we are and what we enjoy.  What’s on your list this Christmas?!


we belong.

This blog post about community has sat open on my computer, unpublished for a week.  I felt like it was missing something.  I found it today – while sitting at my desk, putting together 6 paper hexagons. I know it’s weird, but I’ll show you.

I’ll share the story in three pieces.  I love triptychs and believe that good things come in three.


Part 1

Date Night with Eric

When you have three small children and a date night every month or so, by Friday night you have enough energy to wander a warm mall and drink hot chocolate.

Screen Shot 2018-10-28 at 11.03.01 AM

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to read more about The Brain Project…

to see all of the art pieces (they are incredible)…

Part 2
Date Night Triggers a Memory

I’ve been wondering a lot about community lately.

This summer my Uncle Bill told me that the Odd Fellows group, that he was a part of for years, no longer exists.  It was a community group for men in the district.  They did fundraisers and donated to local causes.  But without new members and few available to help out, the group folded.

Royal Canadian Legion clubs.  Masons groups.  Ladies Auxiliary.  It feels like these old school community groups are becoming less and less; groups that once brought people together for meals, dances, and events are no longer or few.

Are they being replaced by more modern versions of community? And do those modern versions offer the same depth of relationships amongst members and a feeling of belonging?  I don’t think so.

The art plaque from Friday night made me realize what we are losing when we don’t have community.  A feeling of connection. Happiness.  Health.  Belonging… 


Loved reading these:

Independent Order of Odd Fellows
Who are Masons?

It’s neat to see how a group defines itself and what they value.

Part 3
Paper Hexagons

After we saw the beehive art piece (from The Brain Project), I kept picturing paper hexagons in my head.  I know, I sound weird.

So today, once I got the kids down to nap, I sat at my desk and started to cut paper hexagons.

Since it would be a piece about community, I wanted to use paper that would represent that theme and have personal meaning to me.


hexagon art.png

The first piece I cut was from a red paint strip.  My version of  Falu Red.  It represents my dad’s side of the family, the Finnish side that I have been trying to learn more about.

I cut a hex out of a Firefly Creative Writing newsletter.  It’s a writing studio – a cozy place that oozes community.   It’s also where I took my first writing course.  To sit around a handcrafted wood table on a Saturday morning, drinking tea, and sharing personal life stories… it was such a gift.  It was a community that helped me see myself as a writer.

I cut a hex out of a booklet we were given at the Imperfect Boss Camp.  I still can’t wrap my head around the community that was created at that event in the woods.  I spent four days with a group of complete strangers who have shifted the way I see myself and others.  I’m so thankful and still unable to articulate the impact it had on me.  I’ll get there eventually.

I also had a cool piece of brown kraft paper with texture that I cut into a hex.  It has no meaning but I love it.  The dark blue piece?  Maybe it could represent our university school colours?  One of the first places where I finally felt like I belonged…

I plan on collecting and cutting more pieces over time.  I want to include papers from back home to the collection.  I love it already and I’m only 6 pieces in.

But the whole point of this…

I answered my own question about community.

Community still exists.  It exists in little pockets and at different moments in time.  What was once a peaceful Saturday morning around a writing table (last year), has become three women I have kept in touch with and who continue to support me – through their encouraging words, emails to pass along a great book or exhibit I might like, and even an offer to meet with one of our family friends to support her in her career.  Community lingers.

A little project to sell upcycled mittens has made me realize the incredible community that surrounds me even though we haven’t seen each other in years.  I have friends from elementary school buying my mittens.  Friends from university are re-posting my project on their social accounts in hopes of promoting it for me.  An Instagram friend, that I have never met face-to-face, offered her workspace for my upcoming Make your Own Mittens workshop and when my sewing machine died last week, my friend lent me hers.  It was her mom’s machine and has so much meaning to her.

Community is very much alive.  It just looks different.


I am very lucky.  I think in the simple act of cutting out little pieces of paper, I realized the amazing community I am surrounded by and the impact they continue to make in my life.

If you are reading this and are a part of that, thank you so much.


And I do think it would still be cool if we could have big meals together and go to a dance 🙂


This blog post about community has sat open on my computer, unpublished for a week.  Something felt like it was missing.  I found it today – while sitting at my desk, putting together 6 paper hexagons.


what’s the story behind the logo?

I’m about to get a little nerdy and deep.  stick with me.  you might be surprised by the connections between a simple tree slice and our life stories.


10 Fun Facts about Trees:

  1. The outer bark is the tree’s protection from the outside world. It is continually renewed from within.

    Like a tree (I sound like such a hippie), we have our own exterior bark to protect us.  We might put forth a version of ourselves that makes us feel safe and yet we know that others are not seeing all of us.  Even our close friends.

  2. Heartwood is the central, supporting pillar of the tree.  It will not decay or lose strength while the outer layers are intact. With needle-like cellulose fibers bound together by a chemical glue called lignin, in many ways it’s as strong as steel.
    Don’t get me started on heartwood. The idea of having something within us that is strong as steel, that’s pretty cool.


  3. Heart rot is caused by fungi entering the trunk of the tree through wounds in the bark.  These wounds are areas of the tree where bare wood is exposed.
    Throughout our lives we experience wounds – the hurtful words of others, loss, bullying, betrayal… These experiences leave us feeling exposed and do damage.


  4. A healthy tree naturally combats heart rot through a process called compartmentalization.  The tree grows around the decayed wood tissue and prevents the fungus from spreading to a larger area of the trunk.
    Human beings can compartmentalize during difficult times too.  It’s quite remarkable how we can sustain trauma or hurt, and yet continue on.  And although our growth continues, that dark mark can still remain in our life story.

    I know, a lot of random tree facts and maybe a little more information than you expected.  But, are you seeing some connections between trees and our life experiences and stories?

    Let’s keep going…

  5. Trees are sensitive to their environment.  If a tree has experienced stressful conditions (such as a drought), its growth is limited during those years.

    We are also shaped by our surroundings.  We may have some in our lives who limit us or keep us playing small.  We may meet others who inspire us to do more.  When we look back at our lives, there are years where we remember experiencing great growth.  We may also remember times that were incredibly challenging.

  6. Trees are the longest living organisms on Earth, and never die of old age.

    Trees are immortal; our life stories are too.  You probably have memories of people that are now gone but are present through the stories told.  If you choose to publish your stories, they can impact the lives of complete strangers – even in the years after you are gone.  That’s incredible.

  7. Trees are able to communicate and defend themselves against attacking insects. Scientists have found that trees can flood their leaves with chemicals called phenolics when the insects begin their raid. They can also signal danger to other trees so they can start their own defense.

    In communicating our stories, we not only support our personal growth but of those around us.  You can likely think of a book that shifted the way you thought or impacted your life in some way.  It’s us as human beings supporting one another; tree to tree.

  8. Trees can help you find your way if you get lost in the woods. I love this one.In northern temperate climates, moss will grow on the northern side of the tree trunk, where there is more shade. Also, a tree’s rings can help point you in the right direction too. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, you can see the rings of the tree grow slightly thicker on the southern side since it receives more light. In the southern hemisphere, the opposite is true, with rings being thicker on the north side.

    Stories are way-finding. By unpacking our life stories, we are given the gift of self-awareness and growth in the present.  It’s pretty remarkable actually.  Every time I write a story, I learning something new about myself.

  9. Different parts of a tree grow at different times throughout the year. Typically, most of the foliage growth happens in the spring, followed by trunk growth in the summer and root growth in the fall and winter.

    Growth happens in seasons.  It makes sense – it requires great energy and dedicated focus.  Along with it, it requires time of rest, hibernation, and dormancy.  Writing your life stories can be hard.  It will open you up and leave you feeling emotions that you tried to leave behind years ago.  Be gentle with yourself.  Remember that growth happens in seasons.  You also need rest and restoration.

  10. The most common cause of tree bark loss is that it’s growing out of its skin, which must be shed to allow its trunk to enlarge.

    Ah, this is a good one.  If we want to grow and change, we need to do some shedding of the old too. 



So what do you think?!  Not only do you know a lot of random tree facts now, you can see why I love tree slices so much and why I chose one as my logo.  I hope it might also inspire you to start thinking about writing your own life stories or to capture stories of your loved ones.

Every tree is unique.  In a forest, it might just blend in with the others.  But when you examine it closely, it has it’s own beauty and story to tell.

When you’re feeling ready to start, let me know.  I’ll share some of the things I found helpful when I got started.


Very Lainie.

this drawing of little objects describes me well.  as my husband, Eric, said when he saw it: it’s very Lainie.

I’ll take you through it.  Hopefully it will inspire you to think about what collection of objects would capture you.
From left to right:

I love all things craft and making.  I have since I was a kid.  I own fabric scissors, paper scissors, scissors for my pencil case… each serves a purpose.

I love photography.  I admire a beautiful photo with great composition and colour.  I still have lots to learn myself and look forward to growing in this area.

rotary cutter
It makes cutting fabric so easy.  I use it with every sewing project, whether it’s a quilt or a canvas tote bag.

glue stick
I have always been a collector / curator.  My notebooks are filled with inspiration and things I love – pulled from magazines, packaging from products… you name it.  I glue it all in my notebook.  It eventually finds its way into something I make.

Pentel Energel Liquid Gel Ink pen
It’s the only pen I’ll write with.  I know it sounds a little snobby, but there’s something about finding the perfect pen that slides so easily across your page, leaves a nice crisp mark, and doesn’t bleed through.  Am I right?!

DeSerres 4B pencil
For doodles, sketching out ideas in my notebook, and planning out my week or month.

Oh, I love mail more than what’s probably normal.  I’m the one who gets excited every day when I hear the metallic clang of the mailbox (seriously), and I’m the one spots the FedEx or Purlator truck driving by and hopes that it is coming to our house.  my friends and family know my love of mail.

a little toy ambulance
With three little ones, our house is filled with small toy cars and trucks.  Our vehicle is filled with them.  My bag, our bathtub, and often my rubber boots have toy cars in them.  I included a little toy ambulance in the drawing to represent our kids.

my laptop
I don’t know what I’d do without it.  It’s where I write, learn, and make fun stuff.

a tree slice
Random? Yes, I know.  But I love them.  My logo is a tree slice and it has a lot of meaning for me.  I’ll have to write about it some time.

my iPhone (no idea what version, 8?)
What I use to text my husband and friends, to connect with others over Instagram, and to read books in bed every night.

Moleskine notebook
I don’t know if I will write in anything else.  Ruled Cahier Journal – Kraft XL.  Usually in brown (that brown paper bag colour that I love) or in dark green.

my glasses
I’ve worn them since grade 2 (not this pair, of course). I bought these from Warby Parker.  Love their brand and story.

a spool of thread and a needle
I love to sew.  My mom taught me how to quilt and bought me my first sewing machine.  Thank you, Mom.

a latte
I never drank coffee before having kids.  Lattes are now something I savour in a coffee shop during some alone time with a notebook, or while out at a park with the kids when I need a little something to get me through the day.


It’s kind of neat to see how simple objects can say so much about a person.  I hope you’ve gotten to know me a little bit through the process.


the search for Hazel Pearl Bean’s family.

Late one night, I typed 6223 Molson Street, Montreal into Google Maps to see their home.

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No, I’m not a creeper.  This is where my Grandma Beatrice’s adoptive parents once lived.  6223 Molson Street was the address listed on her adoption paper.

We have very little information to go from.  We have a baptism certificate and one piece of paper about her adoption.

Hazel Pearl Bean was born January 1st, 1926.  She was adopted June 17th, 1926 at the Montreal Foundling and Baby Hospital.  Her adopted parents were William Oliver Blakemore and his wife, Elizabeth Blakemore of 6223 Molson Street in Rosemount, Montreal.  At the time of her adoption, she was 5 1/2 months old.

In 2009, I sent a letter to the Montreal Children’s Hospital.  Dad had always wanted to know more about his Mom’s past and I wanted to help him.

This was their reply…



As per our telephone conversations, we are unable to locate any information concerning Social or Adoption concerning the above mentioned person.  All information concerning this must be handled through Montreal Social Services.  The English Sector is now known as Batshaw Youth and Family Services.  I hope they can help you.


Carol Cambridge


I took it as a no.  I didn’t even read the rest because I was so disappointed.

I can’t believe that I missed the piece that said, try here instead.  So now, almost 10 years later, I’m trying again.  I’m going to call Batshaw Youth and Family Services today to see what I can find out.

I also reached out to another friend who grew up in Montreal.  I wanted to know more about the neighbourhood of Rosemount (where Great Grandpa and Grandma Blakemore first lived).  What was it like in the 1920s?

It ends up that her husband grew up two streets over from Molson.  Small world.

It was a blue collar neighbourhood with very few detached homes.  There were mostly 3 story walk-up row houses. It was a predominantly French-Canadian neighbourhood with some English Italians and rarely any anglophones.  It makes me wonder if they spoke French.

I also called my parents to say that I was going to search for more information about Grandma Beatrice. Dad started sharing amazing stories about Grandpa Blakemore and his adventures.  He was in the war.  He contracted TB when he was in a prison camp (they had them work in a mine).  He worked on steamships and in big hotels as an elevator man.  He was a baker and a night watchman at Studebaker (a car factory).

Once they moved to Emo, Ontario, he delivered mail.  He would meet the train at night to pick up the mail.   Whatever job he had, Great Grandpa Blakemore always asked employers for a reference letter.  Dad has the whole collection up in the attic of the garage.  He’s going to look for them and scan them for me.

I also had a friend from university reach out to see if I would like to do some research on  I had written a blog post earlier about Dad’s grandpa, Johannes Juhala.  I was trying to learn more about him and while researching online, I had stumbled across a partial family tree on  But without a membership, I couldn’t view the whole tree.

Her aunt had a membership and was coming home for Thanksgiving.  If there was anything I’d like to look up, she could do it for me.  I haven’t seen her since we were in the same program over 20 years ago. And here she was offering to help.  It was such an act of kindness that it still surprises me (she is so thoughtful; I was just surprised by a person’s willingness to reach out and offer help).  I found out some really cool stuff and have a collection of old documents – like the registry forms from when they first entered Canada.  I’ll have to post them.

It feels like different people from my past are coming together to try and help me figure out pieces of our family’s story.  I hope we can learn more.  I’ll keep you posted.


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