Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas from Paris!

Is there anything more magical than Christmas in Paris? I'm not sure.

I'm so glad my fruzzin CA invited me to join her for this trip of a lifetime. Although I have twinges of missing things at home, I will never experience anything like this again!

Yesterday we spent wandering Christmas markets around the Eiffel Tower. It was so picture-perfect. Just being out and about while Parisians finished their last minute Christmas preps was so neat. (So much calmer and quaint than in North America) We saw people stopping at the fish market, the bakery, etc.

So far Paris has been amazing and it's only day two!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas List

This Christmas I've had to abandon some of the traditions that seem like necessity and recognize that I am only human. I cannot be everything to everyone and this December I encountered a number of unplanned instances that demanded my attention and required a constant change of plans!

I'm a natural communicator and love sending things in the post, so Christmas cards are always a favourite project to get me in the holiday spirit. In fact, I often make my own cards. However, this year as the days slipped by, I resigned myself to the fact that I would not be sending cards. I did get a few in the mail early in the month, so if you got one... you're lucky :)

Another thing I love doing is baking. Somehow it became tradition for me to make cookies in the shape of beetles and drop them off to the fine folks at Autobahn. I kept trying to figure out a time in the schedule to do my baking and it kept getting pushed down the list of priorities. I am, after all, going to Paris in four days!

There's always next year to bring back these traditions or start new ones. How has your Christmas changed or evolved over the years?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Auntie Janice's Christmas Extravaganza

Each Christmas, I spend a lot of time considering the age and personality of each of my nieces and nephews. I come up with an appropriate gift idea, track it down, buy it, wrap it and on Christmas I see it added to the pile of other "stuff". After the gift wrap frenzy of last year, I decided to do something different that would mean something to both me and them.

Taking a cue from my birthday celebration with each of them, I decided to do an "experience" gift, and so began Auntie Janice's Christmas Extravaganza!

We made crafts, built-our-own pizzas, attended a church Christmas concert, watched Christmas movies, decorated cupcakes and had a lot of fun! No presents were wrapped and under the tree but each of these kids is a gift to me each day. (I know that sounds cheesy, and it is...but it's true.)

Abigail made me an auntie, so she'll always have a special place in my heart. She reminds me a lot of me when I was her age. She has a sweet personality, cares about others and is maturing into a wonderful teenager!

Joshua is a teddy bear. He's always been sensitive and cuddly. He's just like Daddy & Grandpa which just happen to be 2 of my favourite guys! He thinks about things and sometimes I can almost see the wheels turning inside but is a man of few words. Josh is really creative and is good with details.

Madison is independent and is free to be who she is without worrying about what others think. She is thoughtful and loves reading, going to the library and blogging! She is compassionate towards others and likes things to be fair.

Kaelyn is like a ray of sunshine. She is always smiling and sees the positive in everything. She is adventurous and not afraid to try much of anything. She loves to have fun and always makes me smile.

Jesse is a curious explorer, always asking the most interesting questions. He's very observant and picks up on details to file away in his little brain. He's very loveable and always has a hug and kiss for me. (and usually has to come running outside for one more before I leave)

Liam is quite the character. He loves music and dancing and is often moving to some beat in his head. He's a little sweetie pie that loves snuggles, always shares and is a really funny kid.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Enough is Enough

During the past year, I have had my fair share of hospital visits. In fact, I think I've had enough for right now. I mean, I keep it interesting with different family members and different hospitals but it's kinda becoming a drag. My aunt, my sister, my mom, my brother-in-law, my dad and my nephew...the list can stop growing now.

Here is my most recent patient...

Jesse broke his elbow this weekend and had to have surgery. I spent yesterday afternoon with the Peanut and he was taking it all in stride. In fact, I think he was enjoying the adventure.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Rising To The Occasion

Have you ever experienced a change that was so gradual, you didn't see it happen? The past few weeks have revealed something like this to me. Let me explain.

I am the youngest of four siblings and as such, I'm usually treated as the "baby" of the family. I'm totally cool with that and most times it works to my advantage. For example, when we have a family potluck I'm usually assigned something like "drinks" or "veggie tray". Nothing too complicated, you know.

Over the past few weeks, I've needed to rise to the occasion and surprised myself. (I feel like I observed me from the outside. Does that make sense?)

My mom had knee replacement surgery at the end of October and obviously needed some help with things around the house as well as encouragement and a shoulder to lean on once in a while. I found myself giving up my time on the weekends to spend with her. Not because I had to, but because I wanted to. She has always been so giving and supportive of everyone else, it was her turn to be on the receiving end.

Don't get me wrong, visiting my mom is not out of the ordinary for me but it was the situation that was different this time. Providing support for her was incredibly satisfying, yet caused me to pause and reflect on the fact that I'm entering a new stage of life.

That was affirmed on Monday when Dad had a heart attack. I'm so thankful that he is home now and doing well but, again, a time to pause and reflect. My initial reaction was fear and panic. However, after I saw him and felt that everything was going to be OK, that is when I surprised myself. I pulled myself together and helped figure out logistics for the next few weeks as they both are recovering. I talked to nurses to find out more about his recovery and was there for his discharge. I've had some good talks with Dad over the past week.

I've changed and the way I deal with crises has changed. You never know what life is going to throw your way and the past few years have really shown that to me. It's all in how you handle the curve balls. Perhaps what I'm writing about is really called maturity and I'm finally catching on.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Weathering The Storm

There are pivotal moments in life that forever change you. Unfortunately, one of those moments happened last night when I got a phone call from my mom. The words on the other end are ones you never want to hear, "Dad has had a heart attack".

Nothing can prepare you for that and I was in shock when I hung up the phone. I was at work, in the middle of the newscast, so I had to soldier on through the tears. Details were sketchy as I tried to piece together what had happened so I drove to Jo-Anne's house just to be with family. She was ready to go when I got there and we set off for University Hospital.

The entire time my mind was racing. A heart attack is a scary thing and I've heard both sides of the story. There are people that go on to live normal and lengthy lives and those that do not. I had no idea what to expect. Was it a good thing that he was being transported to London from Strathroy? Or did that mean it was more serious? Our drive to the hospital was pretty quiet.

As we were turning into the parking lot, an ambulance with lights and siren was approaching from the opposite direction. Jo-Anne said that was probably Dad and I got a sick feeling in my stomach. She quickly parked and started running to the exit. I followed suit and was pretty scared. After the fact, she told me that she knew he would want to see us and that is why she ran - not because she thought he was dying. It was sobering to see him lifted out of the ambulance and on the stretcher but I was glad to see him and give him a kiss and tell him I loved him.

The next couple of hours were stressful but I was surrounded by my family and that was comforting. However, seeing Dad in pain and the scared look in his eyes was something I don't want to relive. They decided to do an angiogram and inserted a stent. Dad seemed to have instant relief and was feeling much better by the time we left the hospital well after midnight.

My mom (who is still recovering from her knee replacement) is always a rock in these types of situations. It's like she knows that we all need her to be and she just pulls it together. Me, on the other hand, can be summed up by the Patsy Cline song... "I Fall To Pieces".

Please pray for my family as we make our way through this latest challenge.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Young House Love

After following the Young House Love blog for the past 5 or so years, I feel like I know them! I've watched them transform their first home and now they've moved on to a second. Their blog is full of great ideas and tips for your home that require minimal skill and dollars. I love it!

This fall, the pair released a book with 243 new ideas in a hardcover book. When they announced on their blog that they would be doing a book tour, I thought it was kinda cool that they were coming to Toronto and decided to go to my first book signing. Originally my friend Jodi was going to join me but scheduling didn't cooperate. So, I was off to TO by myself.

The day was not as ideal as I had hoped. I started off witnessing a serious crash and then continued on the highway in pouring rain. Talk about stressful! I was ready for a deep tissue massage by the time I got there. Oh ya, and I missed my exit for Ikea. Dang! Was looking forward to wandering through the Swedish furniture mecca.

However, once I got to West Elm and saw other DIY nerds, like myself, forming a line I started to get a little excited. We swapped stories while we waited and showed off pictures on our phones. We were even served hot chocolate and treats!

I finally got to the front of the line and got a book signed for me and one for Jodi. (supposed to be a Christmas present but she figured it out already) We got my photo snapped with them and I was on my way. I wonder what they think when people line up for hours to see them, some even bringing crazy gifts. Afterall, they are just regular people that started out casually blogging their DIY projects. Surreal!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Something's Missing

While visiting my nephew this week, he smiled at me and what did I see? A new smile. He was missing one of his front teeth. Mr. Peanut is growing up. What a cutie!


Until Monday, I have been fortunate to have never witnessed a car crash (other than my own). Seeing a crash that looked like it was from the movies is difficult to edge out of your mind.

On Monday afternoon, I had just fueled up and off to Toronto. I was headed south on Highbury Ave. and waiting for the light at Dundas. Usually I would be turning onto Highbury from Dundas but I had decided to get gas before I left the city.

It happened in an instant and in slow motion. A car appeared out of nowhere and I saw a streak pass on my left. My mind was racing as I wondered what was going on, why was that car going so fast, how would they possibly make it through the intersection without hitting someone...and then it happened.

The car that had passed me collided with another in the intersection and both went airborne. They ended up in a parking lot at the corner. I was in disbelief at what I had just witnessed and quickly called 911. Knowing that I couldn't handle seeing what was in the wreckage, I didn't get out of my car. Many others did, however, and helped the victims out of the car (as far as I could tell).

photo courtesy LFPress
Leaving the accident, I got on the 401 and started out for Toronto. I didn't realize how shaken I was and the scene kept playing over and over in my mind like a movie. I couldn't help but wonder the condition of the people involved and why such an horrific accident had to happen. Why was that car going so fast? I imagined how the lives of the second car changed in the blink of an eye, on what would be an otherwise regular day for them. I stopped at Woodstock's On Route to gather myself and try and put it out of my mind but it's still there. It will be for a while, I imagine.

It wasn't until the next day when I was describing the situation to someone that I realized if I had been one lane to my left, that car most likely would have ploughed right into the back of me. She crested the hill at approximately 100km/h. Scary stuff.

Read The London Free Press account here.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Janice 2.0

This weekend I had the privilege of hanging out with my niece Madison. We were finally celebrating her 9th birthday after some scheduling conflicts.

Madison has been patiently waiting to work on a scrapbook with me and for months has been asking me to help her set up a blog. I thought this was such a cute idea.

We spent a few hours at a local scrapbook store and she was so excited to create her layouts. I was impressed with her progress and by the time we left she had done 18 pages!

As luck would have it, London's Santa Claus parade was this weekend. So after a quick dinner we were off to scout out a spot for the parade. We saw lots of Christmasy characters and enjoyed some hot chocolate from the thermos.

Madison is such a neat kid. I'm impressed with how mature she is and the way she handles herself. We had some interesting discussions this weekend and I'm proud of how compassionate she is for others. She has really great ideas and is a smart cookie when it comes to naming provincial capitals, times tables and spelling.

The best part about our time together was creating her blog. She was so excited. It is a private blog so only people on her "readers list" can access it, but I'm going to include her first entry here. On the way home she sat in the back seat of the car and wrote a list of topics she's going to blog about. When I asked her to read the list to me, I was impressed.

  • my first blogging experience
  • feelings
  • my Mom
  • all about me
  • animals
I thought that was fantastic for a nine year old! When I dropped her off, I told Steve I thought she was becoming Janice 2.0 with her new interests of scrapbooking, blogging ...and did I mention she likes the Beatles?!

Madison's first post:

For my first scrapbooking day me and my dad had to drive to Lambeth. When we got there I saw my aunt Janice. The scrapbooking place was called Memories on Main.  I got a scrapbooking kit for Christmas from aunt Janice. We had lots of fun scrapbooking with lots of smiles and laughs. The scrapbooking owner had a dog named Paige (that's my middle name). I wish we could go scrapbooking again. Their kid James helped me with scrapbooking. 
When we got back we had pizza for supper. Then we went to the Santa Claus parade. When we were there we had hot chocolate. Last in the parade was Santa. Before Santa we saw the Grinch twice.  It was so much fun going to the Santa Claus parade. When we got home we watched some Cloudy With The Chance of Meatballs.
Aunt Janice is helping me with this blog. Stay tuned for my next blog post.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Book It Danno.

Today I opened the door to find a cardboard Amazon box sitting on my porch. Wow, those guys are fast! I had just got an email last night that my order had shipped and there it was sitting in front of me!

For the past 5 or so years, you will have noticed a link from my blog to another blog called Young House Love. It's a great DIY blog by 2 twenty-somethings and the ideas are always great. They do projects that anyone can do and very affordable ideas too. It has become a daily read for me so when I heard they were coming out with a book, naturally I had to have it. In fact, they are doing a book signing in Toronto next week and I'm going. Woot.

I also ordered Jian Ghomeshi's 1982. If you read my blog, you know I'm a fan...and that I missed out on his book signing in London. Boo. Anyway, I'm looking forward to diving in but might save it for my flight at Christmas. Can I wait that long? We'll see.

Yeah, Amazon!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

City of (Christmas) Lights

For the most part, I am a traditionalist. Especially when it comes to Christmas. I love playing the classics, decorating, making cookies, holiday movies... all the good stuff. However, this year, I'm breaking with tradition in a big way.

As much as I love spending time with my family over the holidays, feelings of loneliness creep into my festive cheer. When you are single and don't have your own family, Christmas shines a big light on that area of your life. I have often thought I'd love to just go away at Christmas and avoid it altogether, but the dilemma is - who to travel with that is in the same situation?

This year, my answer came when my cousin Carol Ann emailed me. She lives in Kuwait and is planning to spend Christmas in Paris this year. She thought I might want to join her. Just the thought of it took my breath away. Spending Christmas in the city of lights? Yes, please. But then I considered what I would be missing at home. I have never been away for Christmas and as a traditionalist, how would I deal with that? I knew that neither of my parents would be too jazzed by the idea.

But, the more I thought about it and chatted with her on Facebook, the more I thought I should seize this opportunity. When would I ever have the chance again? I suppose this is a trade off for not having a family of my own...I can jet off to Paris for the holidays!

With the flight and hotel booked, now is the fun stuff! We are researching and deliberating how to spend our week in Paris. What I love about Carol Ann is that she likes to experience life and I know we will have a fabulous time. It will be a Christmas to remember for sure!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Celebrating Dad's Farming Career

Last night we pulled off the grand-daddy of surprise parties. My dad retired from farming this year (as I blogged about here) and it has been a transition for all of us. Farming involves the entire family so we all felt that it was the end of the era. I thought this was cause for celebration!

The idea started forming months ago but took some time to develop into a full fledged party. Juggling schedules and deciding on details took some time, but I must admit we pulled off quite the event. I had an absolute hoot!

This party needed to be a surprise because if my dad caught wind of it, he would put a stop to it right then and there. He is not much for crowds or making a “fuss” but I knew that if we could pull it off, he would feel as loved and honoured as we wanted him to.

I have the most amazing family and we really make a great team. Everyone has their own set of skills they bring to the table and when we arrived at the hall on Saturday we set to work. We transformed it from an old country hall typically used for card socials to a trip down memory lane. John provided some bales of straw, we had toy tractors, photographs…the place looked awesome. And smelled awesome too! We had a “farmer’s supper” of roast beef, mashed potatoes, veggies, and homemade carrot cake.

When my dad walked through the door and we all yelled SURPRISE! he was astounded. He thought he was going to a rural farmer’s dinner (or something like that…John made it up) Even after each of us gave him a hug and said “happy retirement” he was still perplexed!

It was the perfect blend of family, friends and neighbours; some who I haven’t seen in years. A really fun night where we shared stories of growing up on the farm and what that means to us, and even sang a song. This last minute idea from Connie ended up being the highlight of the evening! With the help of some Facebook friends, we re-wrote the words to Coal Miner’s Daughter to Three Farmer’s Daughters. Thanks Nadine & Brooke!

I left the party feeling so blessed to be surrounded by such amazing people. Thanks to everyone that helped us pull it off  and especially to my family. But most of all to my dad for shaping who I am.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Jacob Moon

This weekend I had the opportunity to see a fantastic local musician. I first discovered Jacob Moon about 10 years ago and was amazed at his talent. He's a guitar virtuoso! At the time, I had never witnessed anyone use looping techniques while playing the guitar and I was in awe.

Using a small machine at his feet, he would record a small sample and then play it back while he went on to play another part of the song. At least that is how I see it with my limited music knowledge! The result is a very full sounding song with just one man on stage.

Jacob writes his own music but also does a variety of covers including Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel. If you know me...you'll know that covering a Paul Simon song is always a hit :) Anyway, he puts his own spin on these songs but knowing the song, you can still sing along. By far, the most amazing cover he does is Come Talk To Me. You must see it to believe it. It is not so much the sound of the song that blows me away but the fact that he is not strumming the strings but slapping them. So cool.

He will be playing London Music Club on November 30 so make sure you check him out!

Read previous posts about Jacob Moon here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Perfect Storm...of Awesome.

This weekend some of my favourite things collided. It was great!

I love autumn. The coloured trees are gorgeous right now and driving to my parents farm for Thanksgiving dinner was a great display. It's still nice enough to be outside but chilly enough that you can really enjoy a hot drink when you're indoors. Mmmm, autumn.

I love going to the Western Fair Farmers' Market. Just wandering around taking in the sights and smells is awesome. I really love the atmosphere and want to make it a weekly thing. Need to work on that. The best part is: it's close enough to walk!

I love Thanksgiving. Who doesn't love a good turkey dinner? Everything that Thanksgiving encompasses... a big family gathering, helping Mom get the food ready which makes the house smell amazing, remembering the things I'm thankful for. Ya, Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays.

Awesome weekend all around. Thanks to all that were a part of it. You know who you are :)

Friday, October 05, 2012

Liam's Big Day

As if a day at Ilderton Fair wasn't enough, the next day I took my nephew Liam on his very first train ride. It was a beautiful day as we set off for Port Stanley and we chatted our way down the road, sunroof open! At five years old, Liam is at such a cute stage. There were many moments that I thought "I need to remember this" but before you know it, it's left my memory. Darn.

At one point, Liam looked at the man in the car stopped next to us at a light who was drinking a Rockstar energy drink. He declared that pop is full of sugar and not good for your body. As I laughed in my head at his maturity, I agreed and said it is not. He told me he doesn't eat sugar. (he does come from a very healthy home) I replied that sometimes it is ok just for a treat but he insisted it is not good for you... until I suggested we get ice cream. Then he thought it was ok!

The train ride was great. It was about an hour long including a stop where kids can get off and check out some parked train cars for photos. We rode in an open air car and it was beautiful to see the fall colours as we traveled through the countryside. Liam was thrilled.

I am so lucky to have such great nieces and nephews. I got lots of high fives, hugs, kisses, thank yous and I love yous from Liam while we spent our day together.

Kaelyn's Big Day

I spent most of this weekend with little people. Tradition states that each of my nieces & nephews spend a special day with Auntie Janice to celebrate their birthday. This weekend I did TWO of these days.

Saturday I picked Kaelyn up and we headed to Ilderton Fair. This is one of my favourite fall fairs and includes a lot of typical country fair events and exhibits. I knew it would be the perfect spot for me & Kaelyn to spend the day. After going to Dollywood this summer, I knew Kaelyn would be all about the rides, so that's where we headed first. We rode the ferris wheel, the tilt-a-whirl, the scrambler and a few that I don't remember the names of. We watched the time and at 4pm we headed over to watch the mutton busting. If you've never seen it, you really need to. Small children don helmets and knee pads and ride sheep until they fall off. It sounds cruel but it's a hoot to watch! (please note: the kids volunteer for the activity)

While we were over at the sheep pen, we walked by Olympic gold medalist Scott Moir. I had a star-struck moment and asked Kaelyn if she wanted her picture with him but she was more concerned about using the rest of our tickets on more rides!

The fair is a really great for observing. On one hand I loved the rural/agricultural feel of being in the country with tractors and animals surrounding us. On the other hand, we were at a fair...filled with the midway, bratty kids with a pocketful of tickets and carnies.

Kaelyn is one of the sweetest kids you'll meet. She nearly always has a positive outlook on things and is always smiling. We had a great day!

Thursday, September 27, 2012


If you know me, you know my affection for Jian Ghomeshi and his CBC show Q. I've blogged about him here, here and here. You may remember that I was super-psyched to bring his radio show to London and when the date was announced, super disappointed to realize I would be in Florida.

Well folks, it has happened again. Jian recently published a book called 1982 and as you can imagine, he's been doing some book signings to promote it. I had poked around online but didn't see anything near me...until today. This morning a tweet popped up on my computer mentioning his appearance in Sarnia on Saturday. What?!? How did I not know about this? We tweeted back and forth and I discovered he's also going to be in London on Saturday. This information is NOT on his website. C'mon Jian!

Alas, it is not meant to be. I have plans to take my niece Kaelyn out for her birthday on Saturday and as much as I love Jian, I love her more. I won't disappoint her by breaking our plans.

It seems that we just cannot be in the same place at the same time...he's my Polkaroo.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Faithful Reader

It's always interesting to me when someone mentions reading my blog. I honestly write mostly for myself and otherwise to share photos/updates with family and friends. It's kinda like having a public diary.

So, it blew me away a few years ago when I met my friend Trevor's girlfriend (now wife) Laura. She mentioned that she loves reading my blog. I thought that sweet.

Not only is Laura a blog follower but she's a total sweetheart. Now that her and Trevor are married and have an adorable son Luke (with red curly hair, no less!) we have had more opportunities for getting together.

Last week, Trevor stopped by my desk and said Laura had sent something for me. I wondered what that could be and he dropped two chocolate eggs on my desk. Apparently Easter Cream Eggs have come out with a Halloween version called "screme eggs". Somehow Laura remembered that I love them and told Trevor to deliver them to me. Aww, so sweet.

So, a shout out to my faithful follower! Need to do a games night or something soon :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

TIFF 2012

Another year has come and gone since TIFF 2011. Hard to believe it's been a year since my last star studded weekend!

It all started twelve years ago when my friend Lisa asked if I'd like to go to Toronto and get autographs from celebrities at the Toronto Film Festival. I thought it sounded pretty lame and why would I want to bother getting Jim Carey's autograph? Well, it turns out that TIFF is one of the biggest film festivals in the world and there are more than Canadian celebs there! Boy, was I wrong!

Since then Lisa and I have attended many TIFFs and scored pictures and autographs of Hollywood's finest. This year's TIFF did not disappoint. Thursday and Friday were spent gaining momentum for Saturday. Saturday I saw a huge deluge of A-list celebs. Both Hotel Transylvania and Cloud Atlas were crammed full of stars and they all showed up in Toronto! Adam Sandler, Fran Drescher, David Spade, Kevin James, Halle Berry, Tom Hanks, Hugh Grant and Susan Sarandon...just to name a few!

This year, Lisa and I actually went to see a movie. Yes...in the theatre...we watched a movie. Since Lisa's #1 celebrity is Tom Hanks, we opted to go to his premiere. It was kinda cool to watch the movie with the actors that star in it (although they were so far away you had to remind yourself you were in the same room). The movie, however, sucked. I hated it. It is a parallel universe, crazy tale that involves multiple plot lines in different times in history. Weird is all I can say.

with David Spade
It was a fun weekend that ended with us spotting ourselves in the paper and on just about every website carrying TIFF photos.

it's JIM from The Office!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Caravan To The Mountains

It all started during our Thanksgiving gathering last year. The weather was unusually warm and we were sunning ourselves on the deck before the Turkey dinner. It was at this moment my dad chose to announce two things. First off, he had decided to retire from farming. Secondly, he told us that next Thanksgiving (2012) he wanted to take us all to a cabin in the Smokey Mountains. Many questions erupted and ideas were tossed around. Considering how long the drive is, it was decided that a week would be a much better than just a weekend.

Over time, the trip moved from Thanksgiving to the summer to accommodate schedules and this August all FIFTEEN members of my family spent a week together at a cabin in the mountains. Initially I was concerned that we wouldn't be speaking to each other by the end of the week. Afterall, it's been a really long time since the days of a "family vacation" in the motorhome. Add in in-laws and kids and I was unsure how it would go. As it turned out...no need to worry. We all had such a fun time we wanted to stay for another week!

Stay tuned for some of our adventures!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


My day started in the best way yesterday. My phone notified me that I was mentioned in a tweet. When I checked it out...this is what I saw:
Yes! That's right. A song just for me! If you remember, I had some interaction with a great Canadian talent, Reid Jamieson, a few weeks ago. He had asked me for a request and I responded that I'd like him to perform in London or anything by Paul Simon.

So, check out my song here and Reid's website here.  For those of you in the London area, he'll be performing at the Vinyl Cafe Christmas show with Stuart McLean. Can't wait! I've already got my tickets.

Monday, August 20, 2012

My Fruzzin Carol Ann

First off, I will say that I'm working on back posts. Not posts about my back...but rather posts I have mostly formulated in my head and haven't had time to sit at the keyboard and compose. I have just returned from my family's adventure to the Smokey Mountains so expect me to share some stories about that soon, but first...

I think CA said it best as her Facebook status: For 35 years we have been cousins, but this summer we have become friends! Thanks for some great times Janice Mills!! Will miss ya!

I have never had a close relationship with any of my cousins which, as I get older, makes me kinda sad. We would see each other at the Murray Christmas once a year and perhaps a smattering of times in between but certainly didn't get to know each other very well. However, in my adult years I have connected with a few and become fruzzins. (friend/cousins) It's been nice.
CA's new shoes & 1st Instagram!

This summer, CA and I did not one, but TWO road trips. She is an adventurer that has trotted the globe and currently lives in Kuwait. We have similar interests, humour and it was about time that we did something like this! In addition to the Roller Coasters & Retail Therapy trip, the two of us headed back to Great Lakes Crossing to shop until we dropped. Really that wasn't the plan but we closed the mall at 9pm! The next day we hit the Henry Ford Museum for their Titanic exhibit. It was fantastic and left both of us wanting to watch the movie :) The rest of Henry Ford was pretty cool too.
As luck would have it, when we got back to Corunna, our fruzzin Josh was in town and we all went to visit Grammie. We had tea while watching the Olympics and discussing various aspects of the games. (Grammie is pretty hip, happening and hilarious) Once the photo albums came out, we were in for the long haul. Instead of being pictures of our parents when they were little, we had struck gold! Photos of the Murray Christmas through the years as well as our school photos. We laughed and laughed and didn't leave until almost midnight!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Terry Fox

Sitting in the staff lounge at work, tears were streaming down my cheeks. I was on my dinner break and rather than tuning into my usual show - The Big Bang Theory, I was watching the movie Terry.

I've always admired Terry Fox and was consumed with watching his story unfold. I have a vague memory of his Marathon Of Hope when I was just tiny, but of course I don't remember any of the details.

I was overwhelmed with emotion as I watched. Terry Fox was such an inspiration. He lived through his cancer treatments and observed many others suffering around him. He felt compelled to do something about it and just look at the results! His name is synonymous with cancer research right around the world and millions of dollars have been raised in his name.

Terry's courage and determination was amazing. I'm sure there were many days when he felt exhausted, discouraged, in pain, overwhelmed and wondering if he was making a difference...but he never gave up.

The country was heart-broken when he was forced to end his journey and eventually succumbed to cancer. But his legend lives on and I am so very proud to be a Canadian.

Friday, August 03, 2012


If you know me, you know that my radio is usually tuned to CBC Radio. Listening to Vinyl Cafe is a Sunday afternoon thing for me and if I miss it, I listen to the podcast. About a year and a half ago, I was stopped dead in my tracks by the musical artist. His name is Reid Jamieson and I was smitten! I just loved his sound.

Natually, I went to his website to check him out. Over the next few weeks I spent some time exploring his music but eventually it faded from my immediate focus. My memory was jogged when I heard him again on CBC and decided to look him up on twitter. I started following his tweets and that's how we got to this point in the story.

Today Reid was tweeting links to MP3s to listen to online. I clicked on a few and was like "this guy is really great!" I retweeted them for my friends to enjoy. Then I got a mention from Reid himself who asked if I had a request. My request was a show in London, Ontario - to which he replied that he would be in London with Vinyl Cafe for the Christmas show. Woot. That is one of my Christmas traditions so I'm pumped. He asked if I could spread the word about his music so he might do a solo tour in Ontario some day. He asked the right person :) When I like something, I'm passionate about sharing it with everyone I know so they can enjoy it too! I'm determined to get #ReidInLdnOnt trending on twitter and spread the word about this great Canadian artist.

So, check out Reid Jamieson here and let me know what you think. When I went to the Reido Radio section, it was like looking at my own music collection with a lot of my favourites there! He has the coolest covers of songs like Sesame Street and  The Littlest Hobo themes and more from my favourite artists: Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles, Neil Young, Sarah Harmer, Don McLean...seriously. Awesomesauce!

So, I recommend checking out Reid Jamieson. Like him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and give him your support! Let's bring Reid to London. Show your love with the hashtag #ReidInLdnOnt.

POSTSCRIPT: On Saturday morning (the day after posting this) I settled in to my car for a weekend roadtrip. The first hour or so was on my own and flipping through the presets, I heard the familiar sound of Stuart McLean on CBC Radio2. I didn't even know Vinyl Cafe played on Saturdays at that time but it worked out perfect. I hit the highway and couldn't believe my ears when Stuart introduced the musical guest. It was Reid Jamieson! I got to hear a few songs and Stuart told the story of how Reid's "Presley Sessions" came to be. Kizmit!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

The Peanut

Seven years ago, after waiting at the hospital all night, I finally got to meet my nephew Jesse Harding Koiter. He has the distinction of being the only one of my nieces/nephews that I got to see when he was less than an hour old. Even before he was born, he acquired the nick name Peanut from me. This transpired when Jo-Anne told me she was pregnant and the baby was about the size of a peanut.

Jesse has developed into a really neat kid. He loves exploring, asking questions and being tactile. He's great at building things and making paper air planes. And he's really sweet too. More than once he has offered to share something he considers very precious...which is very precious.

This weekend we celebrated his birthday by going to Kitchener's The Museum. I had gone here a few years ago for a Warhol exhibit and remembered that it would be a cool place to take one of the kids. There's lots of things to explore (hands on) and currently there are special features on dinosaurs and a Yoko Ono exhibition.

The Wish Tree
We started off with a picnic lunch and some fun at the park before hitting the highway. Apparently someone had a little too much watermelon at lunch and we had to make an emergency exit from the highway for a pee on the side of the road!! The Museum was really fun - we explored sciencey stuff, laid on a bed of nails (!) and checked out the dinosaurs. I was a little surprised at how much he enjoyed the Yoko exhibit. It was very "hands on" so it makes sense that he was all over that. We wrote wishes and hung them on the wish tree, (Jesse's wish was "I wish I had a remote controlled jet") we drew pictures and put them on the wall of colour and we "mended" broken pottery by gluing it back together. Jesse was disappointed they didn't have tape. He loves tape.
Bed of Nails!

Perhaps the biggest excitement of the day came when we went to the gift shop. He brought his wallet and wanted to buy something. There was a lot of thought and consideration that went into his purchase and lots of questions for the girl at the counter. He finally settled on a wind-up robot that dances around. He was quite thrilled with him and spent most of the ride home looking at the little book that accompanied him.

One of my favourite things about my special birthday days with the kiddies is seeing their unique personalities develop and being a part of the process. Happy birthday Peanut. Love you!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Back Beat

If you know me, you'll know I love The Beatles. You may have known me long enough to remember my near obsession with them during my teenage years. Back in the day when I had time for recreational reading, I would devour anything I could get my hands on. I read about how they met, all of their back stories, the days in Hamburg, and their rise to fame. My attention to detail was amazing.

This weekend I saw BackBeat in Toronto. It's a stage production of the early years of The Beatles and it was fab. I couldn't believe the details I remembered as the story unfolded with Stu, Pete, Astrid and of course Klaus Voorman. I remember finding the story of Stu and Astrid so enchanting and tragic...and it played out on stage just the same.

Both were incredible artists and I had a chance to see some of their work a few years ago at a special exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

What fun it was to travel back in time last night to the early days in Hamburg. The famous pictures snapped by Astrid were brought to life with the iconic poses. The mannerisms were uncanny - the stance on stage, the style of strumming or drumming. If you like the Beatles and are in the Toronto area you should definitely check it out. Paul's right-handed guitar playing is a dead giveaway though!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Threes of Me

One of my friends recently posted a Facebook "note" from a few years ago on her blog. It was fun to go back and read it and inspired me to do the same. There was a phase where these types of notes/chain letter things made the rounds. Here is one that I wrote called The Threes of Me from August, 2009. Enjoy.

Three names I go by ::
1) JanJan
2) JMills
3) Queen (of the Furrow)
all still apply

Three Jobs I have had in my life ::
1) deli girl
2) book research/author
3) production assistant
yep...deli girl!

Three Places I have lived besides London, where I now reside :
1) Aberfeldy Line
2) Hamilton
3) multiple locations in London
I have added one more to the London list since then.

Three Favorite drinks :
1) coffee
2) chai latte
3) chocolate milk
more or less

Three TV Shows that I watch : (need to find some new ones!)
1) Gilmore Girls
2) ER
3) Prison Break
I still love these shows but none are still on the air. Not to worry, I have found some new ones :) Parenthood and Sons Of Anarchy are current faves.

Three places I have been ::
1) San Francisco
2) Cereal City USA (Battle Creek Michigan)
3) Manchester, England
need to return to SF and being in Manchester with my Grammie (her hometown) was awesome.

Three of my favorite foods ::
1) chicken lo mein
2) watermelon
3) BBQ steak
I'd say this is pretty accurate!

Three most recent books I've read: (the first 2 I'm currently reading. I'm slow)
1) Don't Sweat The Small Stuff
2) Lucky Man - Michael J. Fox bio
3) The Kite Runner
I have read one or two since then :)

Three things I do every day:
1) take my daily photo for my project
2) text
3) check my email
(wow, exciting days I have, I know)
the daily photo project is done but the other 2 happen on a very regular basis

Three things I am looking forward to:
1) watching the first 2 seasons of the Muppets on DVD
2) shopping in Pt. Huron tomorrow
3) Beatles Rock Band

Three things that make me happy:
1) music
2) a fresh hair cut
3) my friends