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My Lainie Room

Climb up an old wood ladder in our bedroom closet and slide over a dusty wooden trapdoor above your head, and you’ll enter my Lainie Room.

It’s an unfinished attic space from the 1920s that I imagine to look like this… (images below are photos of my notebook)


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When we moved into a house where there was an attic / unfinished possible third floor, I started to dream.  I like to dream that someday it will be my work space.  It will be filled with light – bright and colourful; my little getaway from toys and noise.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids.  I would also love to have a little space for me.

Our entire main floor is a play area.  I walk around toys in the kitchen when making dinner.  They are on the bottom step of our stairs (I think the kids are out to get me). Toys in my shoes…you get the point.  I’d love a little creative oasis upstairs.

I could leave my sewing machine out without worry of little fingers.  Where scissors and glue could stay out on a table top without worry of creative haircuts or shortened curtains.  My own little space to make, write, and read – all of the things I love.

It also makes me feel guilty because I think, what about Eric?  He should have his own little space too.  Maybe he will get a man cave in our backyard?  A grown man fort of some type.  How cool would that be?  Something above the shed?  A place to talk “man” stuff, watch sports, and where he could exit by a kid slide.  See, it’s fun to picture our own little spaces.  What would yours look like?

How Well-Balanced is Your Life?

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There are many factors that can influence your health and well-being.

Take this quiz from Simon Fraser University to get some insight.
Take The Wellness Quiz!



I stumbled across this quiz while researching personal wellness.   I feel like a hot mess lately.

I average 4-5 hours of sleep a night (as does my husband), I’m skipping meals, and I’m trying to manage my own self-imposed expectations.  I want to do everything and be everything.  I end up getting burned out.

The kids have regular naps.  They eat healthy meals and snacks.  They sleep 10+ hours a night.  I am creating energized little characters who are ready to go.  I clearly need to keep up.

So I’ve started to use “wellness circles” in my notebook.  Inspired by the bullet journals of My Blue Sky Design on Instagram, I’ve decided to track my behaviours and goals through circle graphics. Each circle acts like a calendar where I can put a checkmark on the dates I’ve accomplished my goal.  It’s funny how something so simple can actually keep a person accountable.


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For September, I’ve decided to focus on four areas to improve my wellness:

  • Lights out at 10:30 p.m.
  • Workout
  • Eat a piece of fruit / vegetables every day.
  • Only go on social 3x a day

Once I start making these goals into regular habits, I will slowly bring in others each month.  If you decide to give it a try, let me know how it goes!












Wear My Joy: A New Personal Project

After three pregnancies in 3 years, my wardrobe is in a sad state of affairs.

It’s a combination of maternity t-shirts that don’t fit properly, mom jeans (this hurts me more than you know), and tank tops because they are convenient for nursing.  My former self would be so embarrassed by what I wear out in public.

I definitely need a change.

So the timing was perfect when I came across an e-course by Kelly Rae Roberts called Wear Your Joy.

In her 30 day email course, Kelly sends prompts, quotes, and challenges to encourage you to change your self talk, consciously wear clothes that light you up and align with who you are.  Rather than paying $69 for the course (although I’d love to take it), I’ve come up with my own little version…


  1. Take Inventory

    I’ve gone through my closet and dresser to see what I have that brings me joy.


…and that is all.  Seriously!  Of everything I own, this is what I would wear with joy.  I wouldn’t be able to walk out of my house fulled clothed!

I own two articles of clothing that feel like me.  There are other pieces that I love but they are downstairs in Rubbermaid bins because they don’t fit…yet.

It’s definitely time for me to go shopping.  I’ve been selling my sewing and creative projects lately to have some spending money to put towards ‘the cause.’


2.What’s My Style?

I took a look at my Pinterest board.  What kind of clothes and accessories are my style? What colours am I drawn to?  What do I keep pinning over and over?  I will need to find some new stores where I can track down these pieces I like.  If you end up taking a peek at my board and have an idea of places I should check out, comment please!


3. Purge, Purge, Purge

A few months ago I did a major purge after watching the documentary Minimalism on Netflix.  They spoke of closets rammed full of clothing that people never wear, rarely touch, or merely hope will fit someday.

It’s time consuming just to dig through everything. Energy is spent when it doesn’t have to be.  Instead, we should look forward to opening our dresser drawers and closets – to see a few items, nicely spaced out, that we would be excited to put on.

To get to that place, here’s a purging tip from the documentary – do it quickly.  Don’t sit there and hum and haw over whether you should keep it.  Either you love it or you don’t.  Toss your clothes quickly into piles:

  • Clothes that are faded, stretched, or old –> garbage
  • Clothes in good condition but don’t light you up –> donate
  • Nice clothes that you spent considerable money on –> offer to a friend
  • Clothes that you enjoy wearing –> keep


Between the purge and now doing an inventory of what actually brings me joy, I hardly have anything.  I’m looking forward to slowly building up a collection of pieces that I love.  How nice it would be to feel excited to get dressed in the morning and to feel good when leaving the house.  I’ll keep you posted.


No more dreading getting dressed, or going through the process unconsciously. Begin your day with creative delight and soul-love.  -Kelly Rae Roberts





5 Steps to Finding What you Truly Value

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You make a lot of decisions based on them, without always realizing.

Everything I read lately talks about the importance of knowing your values.  They serve as a compass, making sure that the decisions we make in our lives are aligned with who we are, what we believe, and what we do.

I had no idea what mine were.  I think I’d likely give the generic response of family, friends, health…


Here are the 5 steps I used to find my unique value set


  1. Read through Scott Jeffrey’s list of 200 values (shown below) and write down any words that automatically stand out to you.  The ones that you know in your gut are SO you.  Write down as many as you want.































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Hard work






























































































































2.  Now read through the list a few more times with these questions in mind:

  • What do I care about?  What is really important to me?
  • What words describe me?
  • What are the things that drive me crazy? (What does this say about what I value?)
  • What am I like in my work?
  • What am I like at home?
  • What are the things I am, even if I wish I wasn’t?


Now add more words to your list.

3. Spend time away from your list.  Really.  Give it a few hours, even better a few days or weeks.  For some reason it helps.  You’ll be able to come back to it more critically after having time to process and then revisit.


4. Now pull out words that you feel strongly about — the ones that are really important to you.  Yes, you may be the others but these ones are most definitely you.   Narrow your list to 10 or so.


5. Get your list down to 5.  Why 5?  I have no idea.  I just thought I might actually remember them if I had a shorter list.  To help eliminate words, ask yourself:

  • Between [value] and [value], which is more important to me? 
  • Does this word represent me in various parts of my life? (Work, family, friends, self, etc.)

Cut, cut, cut.  At first it’s hard because we get really attached to these words.  But it doesn’t mean they don’t describe you, they do.  You’re just looking for a few that you feel most strongly about.


You’ve done it.  You can now proudly look at your 5 core values.  This is actually a big step.  You have a good sense of what’s important to you and you can use this to help guide your decisions – whether it’s with your career or relationships.

And if you’re a crafty person or appreciate a good visual, you might want to make something with your words in it.  It can be a good reminder   It could be a little doodle, word art made on your phone through an app, or simply a sticky note.


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This is me.  Totally me.  I actually felt a little emotional getting to this place.  There’s nothing negative in this list, just the good stuff.  The things I love and care about.  Who I truly am.  No negative self-talk here.  This was a good exercise for me to do.

I immediately started thinking about my husband, my best friend…we each would have our own unique combination of values.  Each person in the world.  It’s pretty cool when you think about it.  No wonder people disagree when it comes to parenting decisions or politics.  The way we see the world, what we place value on, is different for each of us.


If you’d like to see what your 5 values are, I’ve made a little worksheet for you with all of the steps and places to jot down your words.  If you’d like a copy, help yourself!

Worksheet: 5 Steps to Finding Your Unique Value Set

My Version of Snack & Half Ice Cream Sandwiches

Maybe you remember this great ice cream sandwich from the 80’s and 90’s — The Snack & Half.  An ice cream sandwich with two oatmeal cookies and vanilla ice cream, coated in chocolate.

I haven’t seen them in years. We used to get them from our local gas station as a treat on Friday nights, on our way up to the cabin for the weekend.  I decided to make my own…


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Not so pretty, but tasted ridiculously good.


How to make your own Snack & a Half…

  1. Bake oatmeal cookies (great recipe from Quaker Oats). Let them cool.
  2. Buy vanilla ice cream
  3. Put about 2 inches of ice cream between the cookies. Try to fill out to the edges of cookie.  Use a butter knife to smooth around the outside (like you would icing a cake).
  4. Set cookie on a plate with piece of parchment paper.  Put in the freezer (until your chocolate is ready).
  5. Melt a bag of milk chocolate chips on your stove top. Stir continuously on low / medium heat.
  6. When chocolate has cooled a bit (but is still smooth), spoon melted chocolate on top of sandwich and smooth with a spoon.  Let the chocolate drizzle over the sides.
  7. Put your ice cream sandwich (Snack & Half!) in the freezer for a few minutes until the chocolate hardens.
  8. Eat it!


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I might have gone a little overboard with the chocolate on my hubby’s sandwich 🙂



101 Lainie Projects: Block Printing on Fabric

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When I saw the image above I knew that I wanted to try it.  I had never done block printing before.  I was curious to see how a person could learn something so hands-on in an online environment.

It was great.

The instructor, Jen Hewett, is an illustrator, printmaker, and surface designer from California.  She offered the course live for one weekend (June 24th and June 25th) or people could do it on their own sometime before August 6th.

I wanted to try both – to experience the live session and to see if I could do parts on my own.  I wanted to try something new and hoped to get ideas that I could tuck away for a course I’m currently designing (blog post about that coming soon!)

The fun started when Jen emailed us our shopping lists; it felt like a whole new language…

  • A linocutting tool. I thought I knew what it looked like.
  • A soft carving medium, such as Moo Carve, Soft-Kut, EZ-Cut, Speedy Carve, or Speedy-Cut. I had no clue what this was.  I’m glad she included specific names.
  • A water-based screenprinting ink specifically formulated for textiles.  We were asked not to use: oil-based block printing ink, plastisol-based screenprinting inks, block printing ink, textile pigments, fabric paints, or acrylic paints.  This felt like a process of elimination.  I definitely learned about different kinds of ink.
  • A baren.  A what?! Isn’t that a guy? I had to Google this one.  (The baren was optional.)


Other items we needed:

  • An inking plate
  • X-acto knife and a self-healing mat to cut on.
  • Quilting ruler or other large ruler, or a t-square for repeat patterns.
  • Light-colored fabric made out of a natural fiber, such as cotton or linen. Cotton muslin is an inexpensive, easy-to-find fabric to practice on (wash and iron your fabric before printing).
  • Sketch paper or a sketchbook.
  • Tracing paper
  • Iron and ironing board.
  • Something to protect your table from the ink.  Create a cushioned surface for printing on (you’ll get crisper prints).





Before we started, I played around in my notebook with different ideas for printing.  I knew that I wanted to make something for my best friend.  She had invited our little crew up to her cottage for the long weekend.  She was willing to have three kids under 2.5 for the weekend, I needed to bring gifts 😉

But before making something for her, I needed to practice first.

And apparently practice to me means creating a very intricate and challenging pattern that requires multiple blocks and colours.  But I figured, hey, I may as well try something challenging while I have an instructor available to ask questions if I need help.

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I was inspired by the tile pattern on one of my notebooks ( I love tile).  I drew it freehand on tracing paper so it was then ready to transfer to the blocks (top right in photo).

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I loved the feeling of the cutting tool sliding through the block.  The block seemed quite solid but was so easily carved away.  I just kept thinking of the old saying, like a hot knife through butter.

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It was super messy and fun. But at first I found myself feeling really tense.  I was so worried about making a mistake and messing it up.  My shoulders and neck actually felt sore because of it. The blocks were close to $6 a piece.  I was already feeling guilty about spending money on the course (I’m on mat leave) and I didn’t have any extra blocks if I messed up.

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Eventually I just let go and enjoyed the process.  I even had someone join along with me.

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Once my blocks were carved, I was ready to print!

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I learned that to get a nice solid colour, I needed to use a thin board to evenly distribute pressure.  You can see the difference with my first few blocks on the left compared to those further to the right.  It didn’t bother me at all that my colours weren’t even.  I was having fun just figuring it out.


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After doing quite well getting my green print down, I moved to a different block and my second colour.  This is where my biggest learning came.  You’ll notice something in the bottom left hand corner.

I totally messed up.  After being so careful reflecting my other blocks and trying to space evenly, I stamped in the wrong area.  Ugh.  I ruined it.

But with this just being a practice run, I could easily trim the fabric and remove it.  But I didn’t, which is not very Lainie of me.

I decided to keep it.

It would serve as a reminder that when I make a mistake, I just need to keep going.  Imagine if I would have stopped there…it’s such a small part out of the whole piece.  A whole piece that wouldn’t exist if I would have quit.  I totally get that this sounds very cliche.  But for me, at this moment in time of trying to figure myself out, it was a big ah-ha moment. Surgite, Lainie Beth.

I’ve since put my swatch up on my Lainie wall (when I’m feeling braver, I’ll share a photo of it).



I then took what I learned and made my best friend, Anna, a tea towel.  She just bought a sail boat and loves all things homemade.  Voila.


What I like about block printing are the possibilities. A person can print their own fabrics to use in sewing projects, use the blocks as stamps for paper, cards, and more.

Now I want to make more.

I think it would be fun to print on aprons with bold shapes and colours.  Big strawberries.  Slices of orange.  Very 1950s.  Or maybe I play with geometric shapes… (something to add to my #101LainieProjects list).

I’ll keep you posted.

I would definitely take an online course like this again.  Yes, a person could likely find how-to videos on YouTube or step by step instructions on someone’s website, but there’s something about having an artist guide you through the process in live time, answering questions as they arise.  And it was fun to see others post their work as we went along.  Many taking the course were artists in the U.S.

If you’re interested, Jen is hoping to offer the course again this fall. Check out her website!



Humans of Danforth East


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A doodle in my notebook.  I was trying to envision a project I wanted to create.


Inspired by the Humans of New York, I’ve decided to bring together my love of photography, storytelling, and community to create a fun new writing project – Humans of Danforth East.

For the project, I’m interviewing local business owners in our neighbourhood – a here’s the face and story behind the business.  I want to share how they got started, what they love, and why they’re a great person we need to meet.   I think it would be cool to walk down our streets and know each business owner by name.

I’ve been volunteering with a local community group over the last year.  I write posts for their blog about upcoming events in the neighbourhood.  I find that I’m often writing about businesses (hence the idea of a business focus for my project).  Instead, this is a more personal extension of the promotion we’re already doing.  And for me,  there’s something about entrepreneurs and their stories that I love.

I pitched my idea and got the go-ahead.  I was super excited and nervous.

I’m not a journalist.  I’ve never interviewed someone before.  How do I even do this?  Do I take notes? Maybe I should use an audio recording app on my phone? It was all new to me.

I crafted a few questions based on two goals I had.  1) to hear the story behind the business and 2) to connect with the business owner on a personal level.  I wanted to have a few questions in mind but to let the conversation go in interesting ways.

I reached out to a friend whose background is in qualitative research.

She gave me helpful tips and suggestions.  Did my questions link back to my initial goals? Were there any gaps?  This was fun.  I was feeling challenged.

Finally the day came and I felt a bit nervous.  I wandered over to see Kari at The Pop Stand.  As soon as I walked in, she asked if I’d like a popsicle.  I knew I was going to be just fine.

I came home afterwards excited and my head full of stories.  I immediately sat down at my computer and started writing down those that stood out to me.  Since it was approaching 11:30 p.m. and we have two toddlers who get up around 5 a.m., I continued the next morning.

Before working with the audio file, my friend shared some tips for how to code and watch for threads and themes.  Man I love this. Once I started listening, I was immediately thankful that I had recorded it.  I would have missed so many great stories and important details.  I could also capture her own words, which was important to me. I wanted the writing to sound like her.

It was fun seeing pieces emerge and to think about how to pull it all together.  And it didn’t take too long to go through the 74 minutes of audio.  Kari and I got along well 🙂

Once I had a draft, I sent it to her before publishing. I just thought, if it were me, I would want to see what someone else wrote before it went out to 1,400+ people (the number of subscribers with DECA Diaries).  I wanted to make sure it was accurate and that it represented who she was.

If you’d like to see what I wrote, you can read it here: Kari and The Pop Stand.

Since posting, the feedback from the community has been very positive.  I’ve had people reach out to say thank you, to offer an idea, or to share a little bit about their own home businesses in the neighbourhood.   I’ve also had store owners contact me to express an interest in the project.  I’m actually meeting with my second business owner tonight!  So I’ll have a new story to publish this week.

I’m learning lots already and that’s after one interview.  There are things I’d like to do differently and questions I’ve tweaked after doing some research. I like how the project lets me play and try new things.  It will most definitely evolve and it’s exciting to think what it might look like in a few months time.

It’s fun getting to know people and I hope this little project brings our community even closer together.

If you would like to follow the Humans of Danforth East series, watch for the posts on DECA Diaries.


September 2017

Update: Since writing this first blog post, I have met with more local business owners.  You can find their stories here:

Chris from Firefly Creative Writing

Erin & Yvonne from Origin Wellness

Colleen from The Nooks

Paola from SugarMoon Salon

Marisa and Josh from the Hollandaise Diner

I’ve Been Feeling Very Lost. Just Putting It Out There.

This was me…

I still remember watching this movie when it came out (yup, 1999). I remember thinking, this is me. I don’t think I know how I like my eggs either. It might sound dumb but I think even back then I knew something was off.

My husband often describes things as “very Lainie.” A magazine, an article he just read, or a pair of shoes.

I reconnected with a university roommate after almost 15 years, her comment: I love your house.  It’s so you.

It feels like friends and family around me have a better sense of who I am, than I do.

I’ve met women who have felt they lost themselves in motherhood.  For me, I think I lost myself a long time ago.  Worrying about being successful and having a career, I left art behind. I tried to sneak in some crafty projects here and there amongst my work, but it was never a focus or priority.  Why would it be?

Maternity leave had me step away from the steady push forward in work and left me sitting alone with myself for the first time in a long time.  It was weird.   What do I do with my time?  Work has defined me for so long.  What are my interests?

So I’ve found myself in a weird place over the last 2.5 years (with 3 consecutive mat leaves).  It has been one of feeling lost and starting to find my way back again.  For those who know me and have been following my blog and new Instagram account, you’ve noticed the crafty and creative Lainie has been coming out.

I’ve started a personal project and have decided to make it a little more public. My 101 Lainie Projects is my way of finding myself and doing what I love. I want to know this Lainie that everyone talks about.

So over the last month or so, I’ve been dabbling, experimenting, and learning — which is very Lainie (hence the name change of my blog — formerly called Hodgepodge).

With 101 Lainie Projects, I’m going to try a bunch of different things – at least 101 things.  I’m going to take classes that interest me.  I’m going to make stuff.  I’m going to read even more.  And even though it feels a bit weird to do, I’m going to share as I go along.  I’m doing it for a few reasons.

First, maybe there’s someone else out there that feels lost too.  By sharing my road trip (I hate the word journey, ugh) it might help someone start theirs. Second, I need some accountability to get going in some areas.  I’m someone who can live in my head all day long.  Over-thinking, strategizing, planning, worrying, worrying, worrying…I just need to do it.  Sharing publicly will force me to just get started already and to keep it going.

I’m going to start sharing this project on my blog. I already have a huge list of things I want to try. I also hope to share what I learn and discover along the way (I post a lot of my stuff on Instagram).

Watch out, this girl is not only going to know her favourite way to eat eggs, she’s going to know what she values, what brings her happiness, and how to enjoy those little moments in the day with her kids even more.

I’m excited and a little scared. I have no idea where this will take me and it’s pretty personal stuff to share.  But my motto for this year is f**&%  it.  So let’s do this.