Skip to content

I’m going to camp for the first time.

I’m going to camp for the first time – at 38 years old.  I leave next week.

I will be 3 hours away from Toronto, with 80 women I have never met before.  It’s called the Imperfect Boss Camp.  A group of creative women – entrepreneurs, designers, photographers, bloggers, artists… coming together to learn from each other.  I’m excited and nervous.

I have no idea where I’m sleeping.  I don’t really know what the 4 days will be like.  I’ve never been to camp before, and yet, I’m excited to be surrounded by others who love creative things like I do.  And with no wi-fi and limited cell service, I hope to unwind and just be.  I’ll have to let you know how it goes once I get back.

I may be a Wendy the Worrier but there’s a fearless side to me too.  I actually like the fact that I don’t know anyone there.  It will force me to meet new people.

I’m going to camp for the first time, and this kid is excited.


I was never the kid who went to camp.

Growing up in Northern Ontario, we were surrounded by trees and lakes.  Going to camp was something we did every weekend when we went to our family cabin.  Swimming.  Fishing.  Water skiing.  Why pay for camp when you can do the same things at the lake?  But it wasn’t the reason why I didn’t go…

I didn’t like the idea of sleeping somewhere else overnight and the only camp offered in our area was a Bible Camp – not my kind of thing.  The packing list for Sunny Cove Camp (the Bible camp) further sealed the deal; when I saw that electronics were not allowed (no walkmans or CD players), I was out.

And now at 38, this introvert is packing her bags to go and share a cabin with strangers, three hours from home, in an area with limited cell service.  Who says that we can’t change…


when things seem timely, pay attention.

Two little gifts arrived in my inbox this week.

A newsletter from Alexandra Franzen and another from Radical Creative Sanctuary (written by Danette Relic).

I say gifts because both have already made a difference for me this week, and I’m so thankful.  I thought I’d pass their tips / advice along to you…

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 1.32.25 PM.png

Alexandra Franzen & Tiny Goals

Alex describes tiny goals as those that feel simple, small and easy to complete.  They are almost like little confidence boosters that make you feel energized and competent.  And once you finish one tiny goal, you’re ready for another, and another.  Before you know it, momentum has built and you have tackled a bigger goal.

The idea of a tiny goal helped me finally get started on a really big project that I’ve been avoiding.  Deciding to work on tiny pieces each day has made the project feel less overwhelming and I’m actually excited to keep going.  Tiny goals for the win.

Alex also included a free template in her newsletter:

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 1.12.10 PM.png

If you’re interested in seeing more of her stuff, check out her website or subscribe to her newsletter.

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 1.25.02 PM.png

Danette is a creative who inspires me to reflect on my progress and to be kind to myself.

In her newsletter this week, she posed the question:

If you keep living the way you are living now, where do you think you’ll be by the end of this year?  (and if you’re not in love with the answer, consider this…)

Where do you want to be, by the end of this year?  What would make you so damn proud and grateful?

Great questions to think about.  I love how the idea of goal setting and creating intentions isn’t something left until January 1st.  At any time, we can consciously think about where we want to be 3 months from now and start putting pieces into place to make it happen.

To follow Danette’s work, you can find her on Instagram or her website,


Lainie Note: I hope that I have written this post in a way that completely credits others for their work.  I chose to share because I think their work is impactful.

our wedding.

Our wedding was held on Clearwater Lake in Northwestern Ontario.

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 6.40.24 PM.png

Our guests stayed at True North Outposts & Cabins,
a beautiful camp owned and operated by family friends (Chuck and Cathy).

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 6.40.35 PM.png

Chuck flew the girls (in my wedding party) down the lake so we could get ready
at my parents cabin (where we were married).

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 6.40.43 PM.png

It was a DIY wedding.
Our flowers came from a grocery store, the table runners I sewed myself,
and the lanterns were gathered over many trips to Winners.

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 6.41.01 PM.png

We had a cookie bar because Eric loves cookies.
Oatmeal raisin.  Ginger molasses.  Peanut butter.  Grandma Beatrice’s Monster Cookies. The jars were recycled by spraying the lids brown.
The tags were made from card stock and letter stickers.

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 6.41.20 PM.png

Huge jars were filled with mixed drinks.
Sangria.  Spiked Lemonade. Fragoli.  Mojitos.

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 6.41.30 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 6.41.54 PM.png

We were prepared.

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 6.41.46 PM.png


My parents rented a tent.
We strung mason jar lanterns with candles inside.
I made them from wire and jars.

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 6.42.03 PM.png

Our photographer, was a friend of Eric’s.  He took great photos for us.



Our wedding party had a lot of fun together.

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 6.43.02 PM.png


Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 6.43.24 PM.png


Gram was there.



We were married by the lake.


Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 6.44.23 PM.png

Guests casually stood around with beverages in hand.  It was perfect.

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 6.44.38 PM.png


We ate fried walleye and homemade salads.
Our wedding cake was a Dairy Queen ice cream cake.

Screen Shot 2018-09-21 at 8.23.21 PM.png

Not actual caterers 🙂 Miles (left) and Chuck (right).  My dad’s friends.  They helped cook the fish.  I made them aprons.

Our dance was held under the trees.
I ditched my dress for jeans and a hoodie.

Screen Shot 2018-09-21 at 8.24.35 PM.png

We ate smores and had a campfire.

Screen Shot 2018-09-21 at 8.24.01 PM.png

We will be married 10 years next August.
I got to marry my best friend.

Screen Shot 2018-09-21 at 8.24.07 PM.png

We should have another party, Eric 😉

when a search for a Tim Horton’s becomes a metaphor for your life.

I know, it sounds ridiculous and very Canadian, but stick with me.  There is a story here.

Tonight I went to OCAD to listen to Adam J. Kurtz speak.  It had been a long day at home, where this image came to mind more than once during the day.


Screen Shot 2018-09-21 at 6.09.28 AM.png

a dark, not so great photo taken at 6:10 a.m. as I try to type this up off of my phone, in a dark bedroom before the kids wake up.


And because I have the most supportive husband (seriously, Eric, I am so thankful for you), he made sure that he was home after work in good time, so that I could go.

I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.

I took the subway and got off at St. Patrick station.  I had an hour before the talk and all I wanted was a tea.  A medium steeped tea with milk and sugar.

I figured that there had to be a Tim Horton’s or Starbucks close to the college.  I didn’t even grab a tea before I got on the subway because I banked on the fact that there had to be one close to OCAD.

I couldn’t find one anywhere.

Lesson #1: I overthink things.  I should have just gotten a tea before getting on the subway if I really wanted one.  I had lots of time.

After finding OCAD, I Googled Tim Horton’s near OCAD.

It looked like quite a walk west but I figured I would have time.  There should still be seats left.

Lesson #2: I’m a worrier. (This isn’t new learning for me.)

I don’t want to miss out or put myself in an awkward position of walking in late or not having a place to sit.  When really, I could just sit on the floor.

Halfway to the supposed Tim Horton’s, I turned around.  I couldn’t see it up ahead and decided to cut my losses.  Lesson #3: That’s very much a Lainie thing.  If it’s not a sure thing and I can’t clearly see it, I cut bait.

I walked back and wandered into the OCAD building.  I felt completely out of place.  Young artists were wearing whatever they wanted; the weirder (to me), the better.  Lesson #4: I admire style and creative expression in others, and yet I’m afraid to do it myself.

I finally found the lecture hall.  They wouldn’t open the doors until 6:45 p.m.  I looked at my phone: 6:15 p.m.  I sat on the floor and waited in the hall, watching people go by with Tim Horton’s cups and Starbucks.  I was so tempted to ask where they found it.

Good thing I rushed here, I thought to myself.  I sat and waited for 40 minutes.  Then once we got inside, we waited for another 20+ minutes.  I looked at my phone.  7:12.  Come on guys, who’s organizing this thing?  Why is he standing out in the hall talking to people?  Is this annoying anyone else? as I looked around the room.  I was getting so impatient.

Lesson #4: I’m so impatient (not new learning.)  Things need to be exactly as advertised.  As much as I love to buck the system and challenge authority, I am a rule follower when I want to be.

The talk was incredible.  Absolutely incredible.  I wish there was a video of it somewhere so you could watch it too.  His messages so important to us all.  I’m going to write up a blog post about it so you can hear some of his talk.  Anyways, it was one of those things were the timing was perfect.  It was exactly what I needed to hear.  I love when that happens.

And then it was over.  I started walking back to the subway, feeling lighter and more inspired.  There was almost a sense of confidence (I can do this) that I have totally been lacking.  And then I saw it.

A Tim Horton’s.

It was just steps from the subway station.  Seriously.

I was so worried (nudge nudge, this is where the metaphor for my life is coming in).

I was worried about knowing where I was going.  I was worried about who might already be there and if there would be a spot for me.  I was so focused on the end destination that I blew right by what I was looking for and needed.  It was right in front of my face had I taken the time to notice.

See the analogy now?

Lessons #5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12.  It’s so me right now.  I so badly want to create something that is meaningful.  Meaningful to me and to others.  I want to have my own thing, my own style of creating.  I don’t know what it is and it worries me.

I compare myself to others and feel lesser.  I’m so worried about financially providing for my family (I was almost on the Sunshine List at one time.  Now I make money from sewing projects here and there.  I’ve been on leave from my job since 2015, at home caring for the kids – something I never imagined myself doing).

I don’t know what I want to do or where I’m going and I feel so much pressure (self-imposed).  I worry that there is no place for me in the creative world and yet I know that it is so me.

I just need to stop and relax.  I need to make things for fun.  I need to do Lainie things without worrying about how it might be perceived.  I feel encouraged to take my time and to pay attention to what’s going on around me.

It’s time to make for me.


This post was written entirely on my short subway ride home after the talk.  No edits and quickly thrown into Notes on my phone.  And with a Timmy’s steeped tea in hand.

It felt profound at the time.  We’ll see what kind of a read it makes.

Screen Shot 2018-09-21 at 6.04.37 AM.png
And because I’m a nerd, I’m keeping the cup.  I’ll use it to hold pencils and pens on my desk.  A reminder to hold back on the worrying and to be mindful of what’s in front of me; then I’ll find what I’m looking for.

my childhood stamp collection.

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 2.53.10 PM.png

I totally forgot that I used to collect stamps as a kid.  I found my old collection in my parent’s house.  Here are a few neat ones…


Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 2.53.33 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 2.53.20 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 2.53.47 PM.png

from Finland.


Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 2.53.53 PM.png


Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 2.53.40 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 2.53.26 PM.png

from Switzerland.


Maybe you remember using hangers and sticking stamps to pages too.  It seems like such a nerdy thing to do.  I don’t even know how I got started; I think my Mom used to collect stamps when she was a kid.

But now I appreciate them for their design.  I love the colours and those with great graphic design.  It also makes a person notice how so much can be represented within less than a square inch.  The design represents a country – what they value, what aesthetically represents their culture… it’s the ultimate branding back in the day.

Our Cabin on Clearwater Lake


A photo of our cabin on Clearwater Lake.  It was built by my parents, with help from family and friends.


In a previous post, Great Grandpa Johnson Built Log Cabins, I mentioned that it would be kind of cool if he had built our cabin (not likely, but neat to think about).

If he did, pieces of the original cabin are still there.  Mom and Dad incorporated some of the logs from the old cabin into the design of their new place.


The logs were used to help create stairs up to the loft.

kids and dad.JPG

I think they were used to build the deck
(the corner posts in photo above and beams below).

front porch.JPG

I’m also wondering if Dad used some of the logs to make the beds too…

kids in bed at lakes.JPG


Regardless of whether their first cabin was built by my Great Grandpa or not,
I love that my parents incorporated logs from it.

The cabin looks much different than the first one we had.
Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about it.


Scan 15.jpeg




10 Interesting Facts about Falu Red

Screen Shot 2018-09-13 at 7.12.32 AM.png

image from

Falu Rödfärg is an iconic red paint in Sweden and the West coast of Finland. I just recently learned about it after realizing that many of the log cabins back home are painted red and were made by my Finnish family members (in Northwestern Ontario).  You can read more about that here (Great Grandpa Johnson Built Log Cabins).

Is red a Finnish colour?  Yes.



Here are 10 things you might not know about Falu Red:


  1. In Finland, falu red is known as punamulta (red earth). 

    Screen Shot 2018-09-13 at 7.01.12 AMimage from



  2. Falu Rödfärg or punamulta is made with pigments from the Falun Mine in Dalarna/Sweden. The paint is created from ore with a low copper content that has decomposed over the centuries. In addition to copper, red mull contains a rare compound of iron ochre, silica and zinc.

    Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 7.01.13 AM.png

    Falu red comes from a mine in Falun, Sweden.

  3. The Falun mine is actually a Unesco World Heritage site.A person can hike around the grounds, read information plaques, and learn about the iconic colour.   To see photos of the mine and learn about visits underground, visit (the site is in English, just scroll down).
  4. Falu Rödfärg’s classic colour is not available as an exact paint number that can be mixed in a machine.The colour is created by experts who burn the pigment. It is a craft that has been handed down since the Falun mine started pigment manufacturing in 1764.
  5. In warm evening light, the red colour becomes intense, almost glowing.When the powder and linseed are mixed thoroughly, it creates a beautiful, matte finish.  A translucent surface with course silicon dioxide crystals helps reflect rays of light.
  6. Houses that were painted a 100 years ago still have pigment granules that are red. The pigment is highly stable in terms of light.
  7. The paint produces an open coat that allows the wood to breathe.It lets in moisture, but equally allows moisture to evaporate quickly, minimizing the risk of rot.
  8. Falu Red paint was used as far back as the 1500s.Timber houses were painted red as symbols of wealth and status, mimicking the look of red brick buildings.  Eventually it spread from the city to the countryside, first being used on the homes of the wealthy, then to farmers in the 1800s.
  9. Falu red is a traditional colour that remains popular today due to its effectiveness in preserving wood. 

    Since the binder is starch, the paint is permeable to water. An upside, it only needs to be repainted every 20 years.

  10. NCS S5040-Y80R is the Swedish colour code for Falu red.

Do you now also have a little colour crush on Falu Red?!  It’s kind of a cool story behind the pigment.

Note from Lainie:

When Mom and Dad go up to the cabin on Clearwater Lake this weekend, I’m going to see if Mom will take a few photos for me of some red cabins.

It’s kind of cool to actually see a piece of Finnish history on the lake.  All of these years, I had no idea.  It makes me wonder which cabins my Great Grandpa Johnson and William Juhala built and whether or not they made ours. Can you imagine?!

They probably didn’t but if they did, we would still have the logs they used.  When my parents built their new place, they incorporated pieces of the old log cabin creatively into the design.  I’ll share some pictures tomorrow so you can see!

And if you’re interested in reading more about the colour, here’s where I found some of the information shared:

Falu Mine Where Sweden’s Cottages Get Their Colour

Falu Red: The One and Only

The History of Falun Red Paint


the search for Johannes Juhala’s brothers.

I would like to learn more about Great Grandpa Johnson’s brothers.

In his obituary, there were four brothers listed.  William Juhala of Finland, Eric Juhala of Sudbury, and two brothers residing in Finland, Europe (no names given).  I wonder if grandpa’s side of the family still lives there.  Time to find out…

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 5.49.56 AM.png

Public Member Trees through are family trees submitted to by users who have said that their tree can be viewed by all Ancestry subscribers. These trees can change over time as users edit and continue to work on them.

Screen Shot 2018-09-10 at 5.50.09 AM.png

The first one looks very accurate.  It has his full name, John Johnson Juhala.  A birth date of 1891 would be reasonable; he would have been 19 years old when he came to Canada.  It also mentions marriage in Rainy River, Ontario (only 30 minutes from where they lived in Finland, Ontario).

I’m going to go through Siiri’s Juhala Gallinger’s book to see if Deslaurier is in any of the family trees she created.  I noticed on the site that the family tree has been named, Deslaurier Family Tree.  Maybe I could reach out to them to see if someone has been doing work through and if I could learn more from them.

If I want access to see the tree, I would need to pay for an account.  There’s a free trial for 14 days but I’m not sure if there will be limited access (they will only show you a few things).  After that it’s $99/month for 6 months.

I’ll see how far I get with the name Deslaurier.

the emo cemetery.

Imagine, there is a stone that will sit in a museum.  People will walk by and look at it 100 years after you’re gone.  You can choose an image to represent what you loved most. You can choose a few words that capture what you valued in life.  What would yours look like?

I’m not a fan of cemeteries and funerals, and yet I can appreciate how they tell a story.

I know it sounds a little weird, but it is interesting to think that centuries later, someone out there can look at a headstone and learn something about your life.

And yet, I am not one for visiting a cemetery.  It’s weird. I never know where to walk. And it’s not like they’re still there, so why visit?

My family grieves loss in a different way.

We don’t do funerals and graveside services for others.  We don’t visit plots regularly with flowers. Most of our loved ones have been cremated, with ashes scattered in meaningful places to them.  Clearwater Lake. Trout Lake. On the trapline. There are few headstones or markers. Maybe our grieving process explains a lot. That’s a whole story in itself.

Anyways, on my drive to Grandma Ina’s farm, I decided to pull over and stop at the Emo Cemetery along the way.  I knew that Grandma and Grandpa Johnson had been buried there (Dad’s parents).  The last time I was there I was a kid.

I think the stones were down near the road.  Down this way. There they are.


William and Beatrice Johnson.

I took some pictures of their stone so I could add it to the kids’ book.  Maybe someday they will want to know where their great grandparents are buried.

But after taking a few pictures, I wasn’t ready to leave yet.  And I wasn’t about to sit down and have a chat with a gravestone, so I decided to wander around.


One thing about living in a small town, is that when in a cemetery, you instantly see last names you know.  Grennier.  I wonder if that’s a relative of Todd’s (we went to elementary school together).   Ogden.  I wonder if they are related to Stacey (another childhood friend).  McComb. I remember a Buzz and Louise McComb.  I think they used to live up by Fairway (the grocery store in town back in the day).  We would go there trick-or-treating. See what I mean. Small town.


And then the older stones caught my attention.  Stay with me here, this is going somewhere.


This stone was from 1909.  It was for a baby boy who died at 8 months, 15 days.  First, a person is struck by how sad it would be for parents to lose a child so young.  Second, it makes a person start to wonder what happened. And third, to know the exact number of days that your child lived is heartbreaking.  8 months and 15 days.

Stones tell stories.

I saw family plots where a large stone represented the family name, with every mother, father, brother and sister labelled.  It was like seeing a family tree right before you.

There were stones with images etched of places or things that they once loved.


After some wandering around, I came back to Grandma and Grandpa’s stone.  After reading the lines on other stones, I finally noticed the one on theirs:  Great Loves Live On.  I thought it was really sweet, until I realized that I read the same line on many of the stones.  The funeral home or headstone place must offer a bank of generic statements that you can choose from.


And it all made me think about the stones themselves.  I know it may sound dark, but that’s why I asked you, what would you put on yours?  They are a representation of us, of our lives.

These pieces of stone can tell our stories centuries later. But with cremations and some opting not to have stones, where is the tangible record of family stories?  How will people share their lineage and does it matter?

I think so.  For me, I just plan to do it in another way.

to my son, the night before junior kindergarten.

Monday, September 3, 2018.

Hi Sweetie,

On Saturday you asked,
Is the weekend almost over? 
Why bud?  Are you excited to start school?

On Sunday you asked again,
Is the weekend almost over…

We’re so glad that you are excited to go.
It’s quite a change from earlier this week.

While having breakfast together, you asked:
Am I going to be all alone?
Will you be there, Mama?
Then a single tear.

Oh man, what it took for me not to cry along with you.  Instead I picked you up from your chair and plopped you in my lap.  Your now long legs on either side of mine with arms wrapped around my neck.  Face buried into my shoulder.  I wiped my tears before you sat up.

You were my first.

And now you are the first of our little crew to leave home and start school.  Deep down, I’m actually excited for you.  I really hope that it’s a good experience for you.  You are such a smart little guy.  You ask the greatest questions, are so curious, and love to experiment and try things.  I hope your teacher keeps that love of learning going. It’s something to have for a lifetime.

And…I really don’t want to cry in the school yard.  Like really don’t want to.  But if I do, it’s because of this…

Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 11.45.28 PM.png

This was you, Tate.  Your dad took this picture of us.  We were in the hospital just after you were born.  We were so excited to meet you.


Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 10.49.00 PM.png

The best days were laying on a picnic blanket together in Witherow Park.


Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 10.49.54 PM.png

Or when your Dad and I would take you to High Park.  We would stretch out a blanket under a tree, have a picnic, and read you stories.

Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 10.50.10 PM.png

And then stick you in a bucket with cute clothes on and take a million pictures.


Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 11.43.23 PM.png

You went through a stage of loving cats, so I made you this costume.


Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 10.53.58 PM.png

And this was the year you wanted to be Chase from Paw Patrol for Halloween.  You were so excited to go trick-or-treating.  Then after 30 minutes you said, “let’s go home and try some treats.


Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 10.52.35 PM.png

The year you fell in love with Easter.  I kept following you around the house and re-hiding the Easter eggs because you didn’t want the hunt to end.

Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 7.09.41 AM.png

We loved quiet mornings at the Farmers Market with smoothies and time spent playing under the big tree.


Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 11.19.59 PM.png

This week we stopped for a quick visit to meet your new teacher.  I hoped it would make you feel better about starting school.  It worked.  As we walked away, I looked down and asked, What did you think bud?  Your answer: Great.

Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 10.48.44 PM.png

If I cry on your first day of school, it’s just because I love you and I will miss spending time with you.

When you wave goodbye as you walk into the building (which you may not even do), I will do my best not to play these pictures through my head.  Instead, I want to be the Mom that is smiling and waving excitedly to you.  I want you to feel good about your first day and about moving on without me for this part.   You’ve totally got this.

I love you, Tate.