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Blogs and Sites I Subscribe To

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Here’s a list of great people whose websites / blogs I subscribe to:

  1. Shutterbean
  2. Tiffany Han
  3. Made Vibrant
  4. Jessica Swift’s 100 Uplifting Days
  5. Elise Joy
  6. Purl Soho
  7. Susannah Conway


I encourage you to check them out.  They are inspiring and creative.  Smart women who share their work and do good for others.

I love checking my inbox.  I get to see beautiful photographs they have taken and creative projects that inspire my own work.  I learn about new online courses I might take or new podcasts to check out.

What they send provides me with opportunities to learn.  And if someone is willing to write or create something of value and send it right to you, why wouldn’t you?

I used to be super protective of my email account.  I wouldn’t give it to stores when asked (I still don’t) and I still use a “fake” account to sign up for things.  No one likes spam.

Then a mentor encouraged me to sign up for everything!  Sign up for newsletters.  Sign up for updates on websites you love.  After a while, if you don’t like what they send, then unsubscribe or block.

I’ve since decided to set up a subscribe option for my blog.  Using Mail Chimp, readers can have The Lainie List emailed to them each week.  My thinking is that if people enjoy it and find it useful, it can be sent directly to them instead of having to look for it.  We’ll see how it goes!

The Lainie List

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The boys playing on the light table.

  1. When the Prosecco kicks in and you think you’re Beyonce…way too funny.  
  2. Strawberry Pineapple Popsicles – amazing!
  3. What’s Your Spirit Animal?  Take a Quiz.
  4. This kid is hilarious.   (Her YouTube video has over 1 million views)
  5. 10 iPhone Video Recording Tips from the Pros
  6. Warby Parker: Time for new glasses!
  7. Sandwich Cakes (actually made of sandwiches)
  8. How to French Braid your Own Hair
  9. Indigenous artist, Jay Odjick, illustrates Robert Munsch’s new book, Blackflies.
  10. Tools for producing quality video.  Getting ready to film video for mom’s online quilting course
  11. These Apps Help You Realize How Much Time You Waste On Your Phone
  12. Game of Thrones – Who’s the Tallest?
  13. The Best and Worst Ways to Reheat Leftover Pizza


#TheLainieList @holmeslainie
My weekly list of what I’ve read, tried, or laughed at.

What’s Your Spirit Animal?

I know this is a bit random, but it’s pretty fun.

Inspired by a hilarious skit on SNL (with Melissa McCarthy and a group of moms wearing sweaters with their spirit animals on them), I decided that I needed to play with this idea a bit.

What’s my spirit animal? 

I started with some very serious research.  I Googled: “How do you find out what your spirit animal is?”  You have to try these quizzes I found: (*my favourite one)
(use a fake email address for this one.  They automatically sign you up for their mailing list to do the quiz).


My results…

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A giant anteater…not so attractive.  I agree, I have a big heart and do appreciate alone time, but I’m not sure that I see myself as a wandering recluse…yet.  A soft and cuddly appearance…three babies in three years, I totally agree with soft.

But the result I most related to was…

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The symbolic meaning of the owl:

  • Intuition, ability to see what others do not see
  • The presence of the owl announces change
  • Capacity to see beyond deceit and masks (to cut through illusions and see the real meaning of someone’s action or state of mind).
  • Wisdom
  • The traditional meaning of the owl spirit animal is the announcer of death, most likely symbolic like a life transition, change
  • you probably like to explore the unknown


I definitely love change and exploring the unknown.  That’s where my creative mind has its fun.  I’m also leery of people who come across as disingenuous.

Anyways, I won’t be running out to pick up a new owl sweater anytime soon or a great pair of owl socks, but it was fun to play around with this for a bit.  I hope you have fun with it too.

The Lainie List

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Miss Charlie enjoying time at the lake.


  1. My version of the Snack & Half Ice Cream Sandwich
  2. LOVED reading this book.
  3. Horrific accident shows why you should never put your feet on the dashboard.
  4. Recipe for Almond Coconut Granola Bars. So good.
  5. Piktochart: Easy Tool for Infographics
  6. Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches. Approve. Approve. Approve.
  7. When Your Favourite Song Comes on and Your Troubles Melt Away…
  8. Topping Ideas for an Ice Cream Bar
  9. 200 Core Values: Do you know what’s most important to you?
  10. I learned how to sew a baby / toddler swing!
  11. The best water balloons ever – self sealing.


#TheLainieList @holmeslainie

Each week I list what I’ve read, tried, or laughed at.
An idea inspired by Tracy from Shutterbean

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 🙂



The Lainie List

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  1. 8 Tips Every Beginning Portrait Photographer Should Know
  2. Basil Bread recipe
  3. 75 Questions to Ask to Get to Know Someone
  4. Weekly Wellness Checklist
  5. This is wrong on so many levels – bologna cake.
  6. #101LainieProjects
  7. Wallpaper designer’s new collection inspired by the Rock (Newfoundland).
  8. Unbelievably beautiful.  You need to see the canoe this guy built in his garage.
  9. Funny photos that show why you shouldn’t leave your kids alone. ever.
  10. Humans of Danforth East: Chris from Firefly Creative Writing
  11. I LOVE this video.  A rapper and his grandma. You need to watch it.
  12. A strawberry shortcake shoulder bag
  13. The Wellness Quiz.  How balanced are you?
  14. Dear Handmade Life


#TheLainieList @holmeslainie

Hope you have a great weekend! If you’d like to see more of my everyday life, follow me on Instagram.  I’m hoping to soon set up a newsletter feature in case you’d like to have #theLainieList delivered to your inbox each week.  More to come!


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.


The Lainie List


Charlie Bear

  1. Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches you can’t resist
  2. Humans of Danforth East (my new writing project)
  3. Strawberry Salsa Recipe
  4. I might start making and selling these… (Update: I got my first order!)
  5. A leadership course I recommended to my best friend
  6. Inspiration for an upcoming blog post
  7. On my ‘to read’ list: How to Self-Publish a Book
  8. Lemon Raspberry Pie Crust Hearts
  9. Humans of Danforth East: Kari from The Pop Stand (my first story!)
  10. My hubby’s first blog post for 3inThree!
  11. A DIY rock climbing wall for kids
  12. Doing some research: How to Add Email Subscriptions to Your WordPress Blog
  13. My search for great washi tape
  14. The Best Card, Paper and Stationary Shops in Toronto
  15. LOVE LOVE LOVE their stuff.  Grow with me clothing that fits from 18 months to 4 years.
  16. On the weekend to-do list: Listen to teaching online courses podcast.
  17. Another to add to my summer reading list.
  18. @elisejoy is a fun one to follow on Instagram.  Creative.
  19. Childhood through my photos and observations.
  20. 100 Uplifting Days with Jessica Swift


#TheLainieList @holmeslainie

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

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