Skip to content

My Notebooks are “Very Lainie”

Screen Shot 2017-06-27 at 3.45.34 PM.png


My notebooks are a place where I write without worry or care.  I don’t think about whether people will like them.  I don’t second guess how I might be coming across.  They are personal and no one reads them but me.

They are filled with beautiful things.  I cut out images I love and great snippets of writing I find here and there.   My notebooks are filled with things I find interesting and ideas I want to think about further or hold on to.  They are very Lainie.

It’s where I write for me, which is something that I would love to be able to do with my blog.  I’m just not comfortable in my own skin yet to just lay it all out there.  I’ll get there.  But I do think it would be cool if my blog simply became a digital version of my notebooks.  A random collection of beautiful and interesting things.

So as a first step in that direction, I’m going to start sharing pieces of my notebooks with you. Which is quite the change – going from no one reading it to anyone being able to read it.  Let’s see how I do.


Note: You might also notice that I changed the name of my blog.  Instead of Hodgepodge I’ve decided to change it to Very Lainie.  I’ll write a blog post soon to explain why.






The Lainie List

We went strawberry picking this morning. Our little one filled his cheeks like a chipmunk.

  1. Tips for picking the perfect watermelon.
  2. This is both creepy and cool.
  3. Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder: Here’s the Difference.
  4. A course I’m taking this weekend…I’m very excited!
  5. We had 3 kids in 3 years…this is why we’re blogging about it. A new little project with my hubby!
  6. I didn’t know this existed — a typewriter for sheet music.
  7. I have watched this so. many. times.
  8. I love how this is written.
  9. It was a little hippy dippy for me at first, but it is interesting when you think about it…
  10. What I’ve been listening to
  11. Something new I learned this week. How did I not know this?!
  12. How to Host a Relaxed Dinner Party Like an Italian

#TheLainieList @holmeslainie

Hope you’re having a great weekend! If you’d like to see more of my everyday life, follow me on Instagram.

Remembering Dad: Edward Patrick Pitt

As we celebrate Father’s Day this week,  I decided to reach out to three colleagues and asked if they would be interested in writing about their dads.

Here is the first of three stories to be shared.

Kathy, thank you for writing about your Dad.  He sounded like a lovable man who enjoyed people’s company.



Edward Patrick Pitt
“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”  ~A.A. Milne

Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 9.22.33 PM.png

My girls called him Papa.  When Laura was learning to talk, she thought my dad looked like Belle’s father from Beauty and the Beast.  Belle called her father Papa.  It stuck with him.

My dad had many passions, especially sports.  He loved golf, curling, and watching the Blue Jays, the Maple Leafs, and the Argos.  He loved harness racing.  On most days he could be found at the Off Track Betting, sitting with other retirees watching the races on the big screen TVs and placing two dollar bets.

He kept his greatest love for his family.

He took every opportunity he could to brag about his girls and his grandkids.  He loved going to my girls’ sporting events and in fact he was the carpool parent for their before and after-school swim practices for many years.

My dad loved being around people.

He liked to be the life of the party.  When we watch old home movies, my dad was always laughing, joking, or doing a goofy dance to make my girls laugh.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.  The saddest thing about my dad’s illness was that it robbed him of his ability to interact with people.  He lost his ability to make funny faces, dance, and think quickly enough for humourous quips.

My dad lived out loud for most of his life, but the last couple of years reduced his life to a very quiet, contained existence.  He had a form of Parkinson’s that included Lewy Body Dementia. This horrific form of the disease includes vivid hallucinations.  The only joy we took from his last year was that many of his hallucinations included animals (which he loved).  He could describe with extreme details the animals that were in his hospital room.  He thought it was great that the hospital allowed him to stay in the barn with the horses.

I miss my dad when….

  • I see a photo of parking lots or people without their heads in the shot (he was a notoriously bad photographer)
  • I hear someone order a Rye and Pepsi (he preferred Pepsi to Coke)
  • I watch curling on TV
  • It’s Kentucky Derby time
  • I make stewed tomatoes and serve them with sausages
  • A “Western” is on TV
  • I vote (he was a staunch Conservative and would never vote for another party.  I always told him my vote cancelled his vote out in every election since I was 18 years old)
  • My husband buys another baseball cap (my dad had hundreds of them)
  • I see pictures of the 1977 Blue Jays snowy opening day (my parents were there)
  • I think about Winnie the Pooh (we inscribed on his tombstone a quote: “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” ~A.A. Milne”)


Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 9.20.48 PM.png

I think of us dancing at my wedding to Unforgettable (just one month after he was diagnosed with cancer).



Lainie Note: This piece was written by Kathy Witherow.  I met Kathy about 5 years ago when we were both part of a learning network in the York Region District School Board.  I remember when Kathy lost her dad.  On Instagram, she shared a photo of him along with the A.A. Milne quote.  The quote stuck with me and when I thought of someone who might want to write about their dad, I immediately thought of her.

The Lainie List


  1. What!?! I’ve never heard of this before. Poor baby bunnies.
  2. A look inside a designer treehouse
  3. A free online course I just took
  4. Why Your Kids Just Need You
  5. My Gram, the meaning behind my Writing Acts of Kindness: 30 Day Challenge
  6. Sweetery: Canada’s Largest Sweets Festival in Toronto
  7. The Dough
  8. My anaconda don’t…
  9. Yay! A friend just opened her new ice cream shop.
  10. I need to stop eating this. So good.
  11. Take the Quiz.  Which one are you?
  12. Cook this Page: Parchment Recipes.  Those sneaky Nordic geniuses at Ikea.  
  13. Raspberry Sangria Recipe
  14. Figuring out my word for this year


Hope you’re having a great weekend!  If you’d like to see more of my everyday life, follow me on Instagram.

Temptation of the Night

Each day I say
I won’t do it
I won’t get suckered in again
And as the night begins to creep
Hello again my friend

The house is beautifully calm
No chaos or screaming to be
The soft glow of the lamp
My notebook
and just me

Writing is a joy
Something just for me
So as they all sleep soundly
I’m happy as can be

Eventually I start to fade
The night approaching morn
I try to sneak into our bed
To avoid a bit of scorn

So although I say
I won’t do it
We all know it’s true
Staying up waaay too late
Is something I’ll likely do.

~Poem written my a mom with three busy little ones, who loves her late night quiet time.

Recipe Cards as Thoughtful Gifts

It was a way to see familiar faces and a bit of home when I was 19 hours away.
When I left home for university, my Mom gave me a set of recipe cards she had made.  Each had a photo of family members or friends, along with a favourite recipe from my childhood.  It was a way to see familiar faces and a bit of home when I was 19 hours away.
recipe cards.jpeg

Bottom left to right: my Grandma Lainie on her four-wheeler, my grandma and I at my high school graduation party, Halloween with our cousins, my brother playing in a mud puddle, and me holding little awards from grade 1.

Recipes are nostalgic.  They remind us of family dinners or special occasions.  I think that’s why they make great gifts.
Maybe there’s someone you know who would love a set of their own.  It’s a nice opportunity for you to do a  Writing Act of Kindness for someone you care about!

People Don’t Write Letters Anymore

You likely have a few letters or cards tucked away at home from someone special in your life.  You might even have an old diary you kept as a kid or the first love letter you got. We just can’t seem to throw these things out, and we shouldn’t.

There’s something personal and intimate about the act of putting pen to paper.  Someone taking the time to sit down and share their thoughts.  They were thinking of you.

I wish we did it more.

But people don’t really write letters anymore.

Text messages on the go.  A quick email update.  It’s like conversations happen and then are lost and forgotten.

But with writing, we have it forever.  Their voice, their words.  It’s them.  We see the curves of their handwriting on paper.  We value it, yet seem to do it less and less.

So after about a year of writing on my blog, I think I’ve decided what I want to write more about.  I think that I’m going to start using my blog as a place to help others write and to share great stories.

I’m really excited and have tons of ideas swirling around…

I’d like to share ideas for how you might write to your children

How you could capture the stories of someone significant in your life

Ways that writing can be used to create thoughtful gifts

And touching stories from friends and family about something written.

I might put together little writing challenges and encourage others to join me – writing something small each week for different people in our lives.


Scribbled thoughts in my notebook

For some reason, not many of us see ourselves as writers.  That somehow it’s a skill reserved for those who write books or publish in magazines.  But I think we’re all writers and our words have the ability to bring us closer to others.

I hope that you’ll join me…

Confessions from My Grade 8 Diary


My diary from grade 8.  I bought it from a Scholastic Book Fair at my school.


After watching the documentary Mortified Nation on Netflix, I had to go find my grade 8 diary.

“Part documentary, part concert film, Mortified Nation captures adults sharing their most embarrassing childhood writings on stage and chronicles how the simple act of exposing one’s private past can inspire an entire nation to “share the shame.”

Instead of reading diary entries on stage for an audience of total strangers, why not write a blog post with them!



Wednesday, March 3, 1993

At school it wasn’t that bad (for once).  Went to the gym at noon with Daniel and the girls trying to line dance for the next assembly.  It was funny.  Wore red eraser today.  Everyone liked it.  Ski trip to Biwabic tomorrow.  I have everything packed from candy to clothes.  I am wearing my sunglasses, headband, red eraser, red turtleneck, Dad’s blue sweatpants, and Mom’s pullover jacket.  My buddy is Brooke for skiing.  Tiffany leaves for Arizona on Saturday.

Since when was it a thing to wear your parents clothes?!  Does anyone else remember this?  I need to Google “Red Eraser”…

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 3.08.17 PM.png

Now I remember what Red Eraser was!  But really, Red Eraser and 1991 described as “vintage,” come on…


Thursday, April 22, 1993

NEWSFLASH!  Dumped!  Heather was by Jeremy after 1 hr they went out.  Tori dumped Ronnie.  BIG mistake!  We got our class pictures back and all I can say is “O Lord.”  There are boxes and boxes of stuff for our garage sale.  Me and Jennifer biked to school.  Played baseball. FUN! Sat. is going to be fun! Car wash, B.B.Q. garage sale, penny table, selling time capsule envelopes just for raising money for our Winnipeg trip.

Oh, the heartache…breaking up after a whole hour!  It really makes a person wonder what could have happened in that 60 minutes to end the relationship.  And for someone who didn’t have a boyfriend in elementary school, I sure knew what was happening in the love lives of others.

Monday, May 10, 1993

Today was Uncle Kelly’s birthday…I hope he got my card.  Today was in the 60’s (not too bad).  School was quite normal other words boring.  We signed up for the Track Meet.  I’m in discus maybe shot put.  I wore my tie today everyone liked it.  William mowed the lawn tonight so he gets $20.  I’d rather watch T.V.  Good exercise but not on my back and in 90 C weather.  Jennifer is paying Shawn to be nice.  God she’s going to be broke in high school.

Oh man, I remember wearing ties.  Not good.  This would be why I didn’t have a boyfriend in elementary school.

Tuesday, May 25, 1993

This morning the weather was so warm & sunny…this afternoon a rainstorm.  Baseball was almost cancelled we lost vs Expos 1-5. (Luck!)  The dance Friday is cancelled not enough people are going.  But we are having the photo booth Friday at recess.  I think I’m liking…oh no…another to the list…

Another to add to the list!  Why did I keep a list of boys I liked?  This is mortifying.  What purpose would a list serve?

diary entry

To decipher the code above, I drew a picture of a baseball diamond.  (I played a lot of baseball at school and was in a rec. league.)  In my drawing, I was showing that I liked the boy who played first base.  Since I have no idea who that was, my coding system did indeed keep my secrets!

Also, the eight ball?  I don’t even know what that is.  I think it has something to do with a clothing brand.  Maybe he wore it?

Thursday, June 3, 1993 (Last day of my grade 8 grad trip to Winnipeg)

Today we woke up at 6:00 and swam till 7:30 a.m.  We left early and checked out.  We had breakfast in McDonald’s.  I had a danish.  We went shopping in Polo Park.  I bought a white Club Monaco, a black Club Monaco, purple Bongo jeans.  We had a nice lunch on the river rouge cruise for about 3 hours.  Then we went shopping in St. Vital.  I bought a striped E.N.U.F. shirt and shorts, blue button fly jeans, earrings.  We had a big supper in Red Lobster.  We got home at 12:30 a.m.

Club Monaco sweatshirts and coloured jeans, maybe I did have some fashion sense after all! There was hope for me.


You’ll notice that fashion was a very important thing to me back in the day, and apparently I was boy obsessed (which is quite embarrassing).  I do have to say, I did very well in the end.  My husband is incredible.

I loved shopping for clothes.  Growing up in a small town, the closest mall to us was a 3 ½ hour drive to Winnipeg, Manitoba.  So when my family made a trip into the city for a weekend, I was ready to shop!

Mondetta sweatshirts, white Guess jeans with a triangle on the back pocket, Body Shop anything, Ked shoes, Northern Reflection sweatshirts, Cotton Ginny…

I would save my money for these shopping sprees.  I had started my first job in grade 8, working after school at the public library in town.  It was pretty exciting to be 13 and to get regular paychecks.  I was proud to be able to pay for my clothes myself, which is probably why I wrote about clothes so much in my diary entries.

Anyways, if you kept a diary, go dig it out!  Get to know who you used to be and what mattered to you. It might surprise you.

And if you haven’t seen Mortified Nation, I’d recommend it.  It’s like watching a stand-up comedy show that will remind you of your own awkward teen years.  Enjoy!

Give Your Kids Great Stories to Tell

There’s a sing song timer on our new stove. Every time the music plays, our little one year old throws his arms up in the air (his version of dancing). It’s so cute.

Last weekend, my husband decided to pick up dinner for him and I.  We were cleaning up before the kids’ bedtime when I heard our toddler say, “Bracelet, Mama.” I turned around to find him with a cold onion ring dangling on his wrist. Perhaps it’s a good thing he doesn’t realize what it is?

We all have great little stories about our childhood that have been passed on by family or friends.  This is the reason why I love writing to my kids.

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 8.22.04 PM.png

They each have notebooks filled with stories of silly things they’ve done and memories I want to share with them.  After I wrote, “Why I Write to My Boys,” I heard from other parents.  They wanted to start writing to their kids.  So for those of you out there who want to give your kids great stories to tell about their childhood, here are a few quick tips that will help you get pen to paper by next week!


Go Shopping!

Buy a notebook for each of your children.  Choose something with a great design or colour – not an old school, thin Hilroy notebook that will remind you of third grade.  You’re creating something special here!

I like going to Chapters to find my notebooks.  They have a range of colours, textures, and prints.  Choose something where you won’t feel overwhelmed by the number of pages or the size of the page.

Gather your Inspiration

For one week, make note of funny or memorable things that have happened with your kids during the week (usually it’s something I look forward to telling my husband at the end of the day).  You can make a mental note or jot them down somewhere.  For me, I like to write down a few things in my phone so I don’t forget. By the end of the week, I have an abbreviated list of ideas in my Notes app.

To help gather ideas, here are a few prompts…

  • Was there something funny that your kid did / said?  
  • Was there something you did together that you enjoyed?  
  • Did they have a first this week? (First time saying a certain word?  Doing/accomplishing something new?)
  • Was there something they did that gave you a weepy mommy/daddy moment?  


Get it Down on Paper

By the end of the week, grab your notebook(s) and get out of the house.  Go to your favourite coffee shop or a place where you enjoy spending time alone.  Get a coffee or tea, and enjoy!  Pull out your notes to help get started or maybe you’d prefer to just free write. Both work.

I like to date my entries and include the time I’m writing.  It may sound weird, but then my kids can see that Mom snuck out of the house at 6 a.m. to a coffee shop near the house to write to them while they were still sleeping or that it was 11 a.m. and they were at the park with Daddy while Mom wrote down some stories for them.  To me, it gives another little snapshot of our life – another story to share.  It’s completely up to you.

Set Some Goals

When writing to your kids, don’t feel like you need to document every great moment or you’re a bad parent.  You should enjoy the process.  Each time you write, you’ve given them something they didn’t have before.  Keep it casual and don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself – but just enough that you’ll actually write to them regularly.

I’d suggest that you decide how often you’d like to write.  Maybe once a month is do-able for you or you’d like to write every two weeks.  Either way, it gives you something to work towards.  Otherwise, we’ll keep saying that we’ll do it and we won’t.

Capture the Good Stuff

The main thing is to write when you have great things to share – when there’s something you don’t want to forget or something that was so funny they have to know the story when they’re older.  If we just write for the sake of writing, our kids will get notebooks filled with boring retells of their day-to-day.

We want to give them great stories to laugh about, to get a little emotional from, and to share with others.   We want to give them great stories to tell.

Happy Writing!

Top 5 Reads for Thinking Differently

In no particular order, here are five books you need to read to challenge yourself to think differently in your personal and professional lives…










1. Change By Design, Tim Brown

Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, will get you thinking about the experiences you provide for others, regardless of the profession in which you work.

Rather than assuming we know what’s best for others, design thinking has us put our opinions aside and involve consumers in the design process.

This book is my favourite in this list.  It challenged me to think differently and to seek input from others.













2. Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind, Biz Stone

I knew nothing about Biz Stone prior to reading this book.  I rarely even read autobiographies, but decided to give it a try because I was curious to know more about how Twitter came to be.

This book is so much more.

Yes, you’ll read about why tweets are only 140 characters and where the idea of hashtags came from.  But what makes this book, is getting to know Biz Stone and how he sees the world.

This book is inspiring. Read it.



3.  A Beautiful Constraint: How to Transform Your Limitations into Advantages and Why It’s Everyone’s Business, Adam Morgan & Mark Barden

I had to read this book.  When we often hear things like, “Yes but…” “We can’t because…” in our workplaces, it’s pretty refreshing to read a book that views constraints as beautiful.

This book is full of real life stories of clever people who were able to adapt and think differently to provide great experiences for others, all using constraints to help imagine something new.

This book will leave you thinking about your current challenges in new ways – personal and / or professional.  The prompts and questions they share will stick with you and you’ll start to find yourself trying to approach your own problems with a more open mind.  At least, it has for me.




4. Designing Your Life, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, from Stanford’s Design Program, remind us all that there isn’t just one path for us in life.  At any time, we can create a life that is meaningful and fulfilling.

The writers encourage us to stop worrying about making “the right decision” and to get out there to experience new things – as that’s when we come closer to finding what we truly enjoy and were meant to do.

Whether you’re someone who is in a job or career that doesn’t feel like a right fit or someone who strives for work-life balance, this book is a must read for you.

It’s one that I looked forward to reading at night and has encouraged me to think about my own life and possible pathways.



5. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential in All of Us, David and Tom Kelley

David and Tom Kelley, co-founders of the global design company IDEO, describe how design thinking can change the way we work in our organizations.

Rather than spending a lot of time trying to envision the perfect end product/service, design thinking has us taking action rather than having another meeting to discuss options.

I read this book three years ago when I was a web designer and e-learning consultant.  It inspired me to get out of the office and actually talk to those who would be using the resources I was creating.

Creative Confidence is still one of my favourite reads and continues to inform the way I think and work.

If there’s another great book you’ve read that you think I might like, please share it in the comments section!