2017 Check In


Does anyone else think that the ‘new year’ should begin in spring? Spring has always resonated with me as being about new beginnings. Time to let go and make space for whats growing with new life.

So, clutter. I have many excuses for my clutter, but ultimately its my unwillingness to let go that creates the chaos. I go through these periods of being extremely effective with my goals, and then periods of accumulation where nothing is being accomplished. Our space is limited in our home, and I have not perfected how to organize things in an effective manner. It is a constant work in progress. As I start my journey into my thirties, I crave simplicity. A huge help into the ‘declutter’ process has been The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. This book is extremely helpful in giving context around why we keep things, and the main message is if it does bring you joy, get rid of it. The only downfall of this book is the author is not Canadian and does not to be outfitted for 4 seasons. I am constantly attached to the ‘what if’, and I get caught up in the big picture (yes Amanda, doing one drawer is enough for today). Somehow doing this process in spring seems easier and more productive than other times of the year. I was able to accomplish an incredible amount today in twenty minutes. Twenty minutes has a whole new meaning now with a 18 month old son, who does not sit still for a single minute during his waking hours. Being satisfied with the small accomplishments is something that is still a work in progress.

I am looking forward so feeling some sun on my skin, for freckles to reappear, for lunch on the deck, for playing in my yard. Until it is time to do that, I will pick away inside making some space for simplicity.

Have any tips for me? What is the easiest way to offload your unwanted items to allow them to be others’ treasure? Share your spring-clean routine with me!



What am I Listening To?


April 2017

This list is incredibly random and is exactly how I listen to music. I hope it gives your ears something new or exciting to listen to.

Lady Gaga – The Cure (Amazing New Single Released at Coachella)

SnailHouse – Tone Deaf Birds

Maggie Rogers – Alaska

Taj Mahal – Lovin’ in My Babys Eyes

John Lennon – Mind Games

Jean Le Loup – Je Joue de la Guitare

Gusgus – Mexico

Ninth Child – In Sky (Falls Together)

The Gruff – The Owl Song

Rock on!

What am I Reading?


March 2017


Blink by K.L. Slater

#karllikes rating 3

I purchased this book through Kobo‘s Daily Deal, which has bitten me before. I found this book very thrilling and griping right up to the big reveal. In Blink, the main character’s daughter disappears without a trace. I was intrigued by the main character’s background story and how her struggles played into her daughters disappearance. This book also lacked any gruesome bits about things happening to abducted children, a welcome relief.

The Break by Katherena Vermette

#karllikes rating 4

The Break is set in Winnipeg’s north end, and big warning here, do not read this book if you are sensitive to abuse. The book surrounds a possible crime that a Metis mother witnesses from her window. Throughout the book we are introduced to various characters that are involved in the crime, and through their lenses we see how their lives have lead to this event. This book was on CBC’s 2017 Canada Reads List, and I really enjoyed this Canadian author’s writing.

The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle

#karllikes rating 3

This books surrounds what was thought to be a perfect marriage and a plane crash. I finished this book because the first half was really entertaining and made me want to know what possibly could be happening. The reveal of the mystery and the second half of the book I found less interesting, it was so strange it did not seem believable. Even with a rating of 3 this was a easy suspenseful read.

Snowy Child by Eowyn Ivey

#karllikes rating 5

I absolutely loved this book, and I have never read anything like it. Snowy Child is a new age telling of an old European tale. This book surrounds a couple in Alaska in the 1920’s who are unable to have children. While in Alaska they witness a little girl running around in the wilderness, however there is some speculation that what they are seeing is not actually real. This book is beautiful in every way, I highly recommend this read.

Voices by Arnaldur Indridason

#karllikes rating 4 *WBRL

Icelandic crime novel alert! Inspector Erlendur is investigating a Christmas crime at a popular Reykjavík hotel. It can be helpful to have read some of the Inspector Erlendur novels otherwise you may be a little lost with his personal story woven throughout. The crime in this book involves a man who is found dead in a very compromising situation, and who also has a very complicated and unexpected past. As in other Arnaldur Indridason books this story is intriguing from start to end.


Irresistible Issue #1-4 by Raven Gregory

#karllikes rating 1

Honestly, do not bother with this comic. I almost did not include this comic on the list, but for some reason I read it to the end, partially hoping the story line would improve, and partially because I was amazed something so ridiculous existed. This comic surrounds a male character who is given the opportunity to have a wish granted. In a very stereotypical way he is then suddenly desired by every woman who is in his presence. This comic contains a lot of nudity and sexual scenes. The base story line of this comic did not work for me, I feel like it was just an excuse to publish something with naked sex seeking women. #notthetargetaudience

Jim Henson’s Labyrinth by various artists (30th Anniversary)

#karllikes rating 5

I have previously read parts of this comic, but The Labyrinth is one of my favourite movies of all time. I feel it would be beneficial to have watched the movie to truly appreciate the comic in detail. There are various artists involved in this special edition, where each story is a little snippet into the different characters.

Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Dragons Issue #1 by Daniel Bayliss

#karllikes rating 4

The Storyteller is literally that, a story teller. In this collection about Dragons, the issues will feature various stories from talented creators and artists. In Issue 1, the story is the “Son of the Serpent,” inspired by aboriginal stories about the Horned Snake and the Thunderbird. This story and illustrations are stunnung. I am excited to continue with this collection.

Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Witches Issue #1 by S.M. Vidaurri

#karllikes rating 4

This is another of the Storyteller comic series. This may be one of the most beautiful and unique comics I have ever read. This issue features “The Magic Swan Goose & the Lord of the Forest”. The layout of this comic makes it very different, and while it is unusual it also is easy to read and follow. I loved how the young princess in this story is such a strong character. I full-heartedly recommend reading this issue. As with the Dragons series, I am also looking forward to reading more of the Witches series.

Saga Vol. 6 by Brian K. Vaughan

#karllikes rating 5

Hello Saga. Saga is the reason I got into comics. Saga surrounds a forbidden love story resulting in a child and their quest to keep the child safe. This is volume 6, you will need to catch up on volumes 1-5 to follow the story. I do not want to give much away, but you will have a little of all the characters you like, and maybe some of those you do not like in this volume. There is also a sneaky little surprise near the end. Ps. This comic should be enjoyed by mature audiences only.

Snot Girl Vol. 1 by Bryan Lee O’Malley

#karllikes rating 4

Yes! I was purchasing some comics down at Nerdvana and in the new releases section I saw this title and I quickly added it to my purchase. The cover of this comic is really eye catching, and come on its Bryan Lee O’Malley (Scott Pilgrim). Lottie Person is a fashion blogger who has a little, uh, snotty condition. The main character has some not too hot behaviour traits. Much to Lottie’s surprise some individuals start to mess with her to get her to see her ways. This comic is written very well and is accompanied by amazing illustations. I cannot wait for volume 2.

Trees Vol. 2 by Warren Ellis

#karllikes rating 2

Meh. Why did I try this one again? I read Trees Vol. 1, and I was really confused and not really into it. When I was browsing on Hoopla, I saw Trees Vol. 2 and felt compelled to give it another try. I can say that I actually enjoyed volume 2 more than volume 1, but I was equally confused and made a mental note to not look for volume 3. I am a forester so I think that is why I am attracted to the title Trees, and I do like the main character who is a botanist assisting with the identification of a lethal plant. The trees in this comic are not actual trees, more like a structure (again its difficult to explain in my own words). Unfortunately I do not think I will read volume 3.

Karllikes Littles Book Feature


Dance by Matthew Van Fleet

We were lucky enough this month to visit our family for an extended amount of time in British Columbia. Conway was gifted this book while we were visiting, and it has been a hit since the first read. In this adorable, and interactive book Chickie Baby is worried about not knowing how to dance. Through the pull tabs various animals offer their dancing moves to Chickie Baby. I love how this book is encouraging and demonstrates teamwork to help a friend out. The pull tabs are extremely sturdy, so sturdy in fact that a 17 month old cannot destroy them. Apparently this book was available at Costco, and I also seen it at Walmart (for 40$ off).

Most if not all of these titles are available at the Wood Buffalo Regional Library. Membership is FREE! Wood Buffalo Regional Library has an amazing selection of books, magazines, audiobooks, children titles, and even comics. With your WBRL membership you also received a free subscription to Hoopla. I am happy to report that I have now checked out this new exciting addition to the library. Hoopla offers ebooks, audiobooks, music, and comics! You can ‘rent’ up to 12 titles a month, and I used all my titles on comics. They have an AMAZING selection. I find reading the comics on the Ipad very satisfying. I am still looking into how to possibly get the ebooks onto my Kobo.

We have an amazing local comic shop Nerdvana, if they do not have what you are looking for, they will special order it for you 🙂

#karllikes book rating is done on a 1-5 scale. The scale ranges from 1-I personally did not enjoy the book and see absolutely no chance of recommending it or re-reading it-to 5-I personally thoroughly enjoyed the book and see every chance of recommending it or re-reading the book.

What am I Listening to?


March 2017

This is the month of green four leaf clovers, my birthday, and saying goodbye to winter and hello to spring. Here is a little list I put together to help you feel March out, I am getting the vibe of ‘in like a lion and out like a lamb’.

Lennon and Maisy – Up and Up

Big Little Lions – Against The Wall

Vaults – Midnight River

Flume (Feat Beck) – Tiny Cities

Buffy Sainte-Marie & Tanya Taqaq – You Got To Run (Spirit of the Wind)

Lindi Ortega – Til the Goin’ Gets Gone

Nikki Lane – Highway Queen

Xavier Rudd – Spirit Bird

First Aid Kit – Master Pretender (Explicit)

Wilco – Heavy Metal Drummer



What am I Reading?


February 2017


I did not complete many books in February. I started a quite a few books and decided to not continue reading them. If I am not captivated within the first few pages of reading a book, I tend to drop them and move on to something else. Unfortunately this included American Gods by Neil Gaiman, I wanted to like this book so much. I am looking forward to the television show, hopefully it gives me what I found lacking to continue with the story line. I also returned some other books I will refrain from mentioning because I do not want to give them a ‘not worth reading’ label.

A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong

#karlikes rating  5 *WBRL

This is the second case with Casey Duncan, a female detective who has relocated to a new ‘city’. In the first book City of the Lost, we find out how and why she ends up in this new place. Not to reveal to much about either book, in A Darkness Absolute, Casey is key to solving another mysterious case in this strange northern place. I am a HUGE fan of Kelley Armstrong’s writing, and in fact I have read everything she has ever published, even short stories and collaborations. I am loving this story line and am looking forward to the series continuing.

Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson

#karlikes 5 rating  *WBRL

Another trend you are going to notice in my reading, is that I love Scandinavian thriller novels, especially those set in Iceland. This novel is just that, the main character Ari Thór Arason, is a new police officer on his first job in the northern community of Siglufjörður, Iceland. This community tends to be really quiet when suddenly not one, but two crimes occur back to back and police are forced to investigate. The weather is always a huge addition to the suspense built in these novels, there is no lack of it here. This is my first novel of Ragnar Jonasson’s, and I had screenshot a picture of this book while I was in Iceland August 2016 to locate once I got home. The only downfall of loving Icelandic thrillers is that they are not written in English and thus when you find an author you cannot get enough of, you will need to wait to see if and when it will be translated. Look for more Icelandic authors featured on Karllikes.


How to Talk to Girls at Parties by Neil Gaiman

#karlikes rating  4 *WBRL

The title basically gives away what this comic is about. The story revolves around 15 year old boys who are trying to understand girls, and boy are they in for a surprise when they crash a local party. This was a great, quick read with amazing illustrations.

Paper Girls Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan

#karlikes rating 4 *WBRL

I received Paper Girls Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan for Christmas 2016. At first I was a little lost into the story line but kept with it. By the middle of the trade I was hooked. I love Brain K. Vaughan, who has also  written Saga, Y: The Last Man, and really his comics were what got me into comic book reading. This is a series you will need to read in chronological order or you will be lost. The premise of this story is that the morning after Halloween 1988, 4 12-year old newspaper delivery girls discover what is to be the biggest news story of all time. Throughout both volumes they deal with what they have uncovered and are trying to discover the truth about the world around them. I love the colours and the different young female personas in this series.

The Sandman Overture by Neil Gaiman

#karlikes rating 2 *WBRL

I think I picked up this comic up at the wrong time of my exploration into the Sandman world as created by Neil Gaiman. The illustrations were what kept me turning pages in this one. The story line was really over my head and I was honestly confused for most of it. That Sandman is a complex guy. I will continue to read more because I have really enjoyed other comics involving the Sandman, his origins, and his family.


I am now going include a book recommendation for little ones. Currently my son is 16 months old so I am in full control of which books we read. He does have some favourites which we read every single day, often over and over again. This ‘Littles Book Feature’ will be a combination of what he enjoys listening to and what I enjoy reading.

Karllikes Littles Book Feature


Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson


We picked up this little gem at Indigo while on a family road trip. The book’s sleeve indicates that it is geared towards ages 4-6, but my son was able to enjoy and participate with this book. The book goes through the seasons and what happens to a deciduous tree using illustrations and action instructions such as rubbing, knocking and shaking. I found the book easily demonstrated the concept of seasons in a child friendly manner. My niece (3) and nephew (6) also enjoyed reading and acting this book out together. This book is a keeper, and re-reader for sure.

*WBRL- this book is available at the Wood Buffalo Regional Library as of March 2017. Memberships are free.

Wood Buffalo Regional Library has a great selection of comics on the second floor. They also now offer Hoopla with your membership. I have yet to check this out but it looks promising.

We have an amazing local comic shop Nerdvana, if they do not have what you are looking for, they will special order it for you 🙂

#karllikes book rating is done on a 1-5 scale. The scale ranges from 1-I personally did not enjoy the book and see absolutely no chance of recommending it or re-reading it-to 5-I personally thoroughly enjoyed the book and see every chance of recommending it or re-reading the book.


What am I Listening to?


February 2017

A little list from my heart to yours, happy Valentine’s Day. Remember, the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. Remind yourself that you love you!

The B52’s – Love Shack

Brandi Carlile – Wherever is Your Heart

Janis Joplin – Piece of My Heart

Bob Marley – Could You Be Loved

MC Yogi – Only Love is Real

Of Monsters and Men – Love Love Love

The Moldy Peaches – Anyone Else But You

Barenaked Ladies – Be My Yoko Ono

Diamond Rio – Beautiful Mess

Lady Gaga – Born This Way (love yourself!)

Enjoy, xoxo!




2017 Check In


It is now well into the Year of the Rooster and time to do some reassessing. In my “Whats Exciting about 2017” post I described much of what I was excited about for this upcoming year. My ‘destination’ in a sense has not changed, but I would say that I have changed the course on how I hope to get there for a few things. A major relationship in my life changed drastically in January and that has influenced me to take a hard look at some things in my life. Right now the most important things to my core are honesty and simplicity.

I joined two groups to help encourage me to join a network of people to get outside and share the experience. I enjoyed my first month being involved in both groups but realized a couple of things. Both groups are heavily involved into Facebook, to the point where my feed is overwhelmed with their posts. I do not read these posts, there are too many of them and I do not have the time to sit and sort through them. I was discovering that reading these posts were not boosting me personally in any way. I started a training with one of the groups to open a branch in Fort McMurray, and during the first stages of it realized I was not on board with how much time was going to be spent behind the scenes on Facebook. I like Facebook as much as the next person, but I like it to connect and share, without any actual commitments. Right now, my life is not going to fall apart if I am or I am not on Facebook. I do not want that to change. I started using a FitBit back in November, and I absolutely love it. With my Fitbit I am able to track my steps and distances traveled. For both of these groups I was required to record all of my adventures outside. After a month of doing this I realized it was not a ‘freeing’ experience. I love that feeling of knowing I hit my 10 000 steps a day, but really, the distances I cover on my adventures do not really matter to me. What matters is that I (and my pooch, my mini-me, and potential friends joining me) are enjoying the experience. I am not going to continue with recording my kilometers/miles for the groups. I completed a January Hike it Baby 30, and surpassed my goal of 30 miles even with a few skipped days due to the cold. I have no doubt I will more than succeed with my goal of self-propelling myself outdoors for 365 miles in 2017, I simply do not need to add extra stress on myself by recording it. My main goal of what makes me happy, get outside. Check.

Climbing continues to be a major part of what is making me happy. Unfortunately the Intro to Bouldering Course I was enrolled in did not run. My husband and I redid our Belay Course, and are going to be receiving our certification soon. This will open up much of the wall that we have not been able to use previously. Earlier this month we went to MEC and purchased some Gripmaster Forearm and Hand Trainers which are prooving to be worth more than their weight in gold. With my climbing I have determined there are a few things I need to work on off the wall to improve my skills. One being working on loosing my last 10 pounds from before I had Conway. This is a work in progress, and lately I have been making more progress on this than not. Another item involves my shoulders. I have intensely tight shoulders and in turn also my chest. In January I completed several massage therapy and chiropractor treatments to release tension in my shoulders and neck. My plan of action is to keep my eyes on these areas to prevent them from getting to that extreme state again. Building strength and flexibility are both important focuses, so now to figure out that balance. Hello yoga, and also goodbye to certain movements which cause me grief.

I have been working on my Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Compost Project. Some of my work is identifying how hard some habits are to break. Every step in a greener direction is a step in the direction, so I am happy with my progress. Learning about myself is a wonderful experience.

I am not afraid of seeing and knowing that goals need to change with time. I see goals are more fluid, that the journey changes with what you learn along the way. I need to remove things from my life that are causing me unnecessary work, simplicity will move me forwards. What has been working, and not working for you this year?

I am looking forward to the next couple months with all the joy and challenges they will bring.



What am I Reading?


January 2017


At the End of the World by Lawrence Millman

#karlikes rating 2 *WBRL

I have very mixed opinions on this book. I did not care for the writing style, which I can only describe as short sentences, almost as in a diary or notebook. The story is described as Lawrence Millman’s way of retelling a true story of murder in the arctic. Millman’s experience in collecting the story was a captivating portion of the story, his connections with the Inuit of the area provided a very unique story telling vantage. The book is littered with his complaints and comments on technologies overwhelming presence in the real world. I appreciated his point of view, but I felt it often almost over powered the murder story. I may have missed the point of this book, and it’s possible he was trying to link the murder and loss of the Inuits way of life to technology. This quote by Lawrence Millman in At the End of the World I felt was worth writing down in my quote book, “If you don’t see Nature, why would you want to preserve it?” The point is clear, and it describes my view on getting people exposed to nature so that they have the desire to protect it for themselves and loved ones to experience. Some gold in this book, I just do not think its an amazing retelling of the true crime story hidden among its pages.

The Danish Way of Parenting by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Sandahl

#karllikes rating 5 *WBRL

I LOVED this book. As a new parent, I have been trying to keep myself exposed to literature on parenting, which I may admit is hard to dig through. There are a lot of books and articles out there trying to tell you what to do and not do to be a good parent, this book also has elements of that. If you look past the fact that every ‘help’ book is trying to get you to buy into their way of doing things and just take the ideas that work for your particular situation, I think there is a lot of gold in this book. I personally enjoyed the anecdotal style of the book with many references for further reading at the end. The book goes through PARENT, which stands for Play, Authenticity, Reframing, Empathy, No Ultimatums, and Togetherness. My favourite chapter was on reframing, and I have actually found this has been helping me in my adult life as well as in parenting. I was introduced to HYGGE, a danish word whose rough translation is coziness (really its hard to explain, read this book!, and it has majorly sparked something in me. I was so interested in HYGGE I had to read more, and thus I read The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking.

The Little Book of Hygge-The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking

#karllikes rating 5 *WBRL

I wanted to learn more about Hygge, and honestly this book by Meik Wiking explains almost all you could want to know about the subject. The author is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and she believes that hygge is the secret ingredient that makes the Danes the happiest people in the world. To prove her point she explains so much about Hygge that I felt I had the ability to re-create some of the ideas. This book will be one I reference back to, and already have used some of the ideas for things in my life and home. I think I may have been Scandinavian in another life, as many things about their lifestyle appeals to me.

Serafina and the Twisted Staff by Robert Beatty

#karllikes rating 3 *WBRL

This is the second book by Robert Beatty about Serafina. Serafina is a strange girl who is the CTC (Chief Rat Catcher) at the Biltmore Estate. Not to give many spoilers to the first book, this second book is another mystery that needs to be solved by Serafina and Braeden to keep Biltmore Estate and their loved ones safe. These books are what I would call junior novels, however the books are rated for 8+ (30 is technically 8+ hehe). The first book, Serafina and the Black Cloak is soon to be released as a movie, check out the trailer!

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

#karllikes rating 3 *WBRL

The Wonder is centered around Anna O’Donnell, an eleven year old girl who claims she no longer needs to eat and is living off manna from heaven. To determine the legitimacy of the claim nurses are stationed to monitor her for 24 hours, and slowly a mystery is unfolded. I was shocked as the book unfolded, and was also stunned to learn that this story was based on real events in Ireland. Emma Donoghue also wrote The Room, which I am going to put on my ‘to read list’.


Death The Deluxe Edition by Neil Gaiman

#karllikes rating 3

If you are a reader of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman comics, you may remember Death as the Dream’s older sister. This deluxe edition includes Death: The High Cost of Living Collected and Death: The Time of Your Life which are all solo stories featuring Death. If you sensitive to death in general, I would recommend picking up another comic. The easiest way to explain Death, is that she is a sort of grim reaper, the one who meets you as you leave this world for whatever comes next. I enjoyed Death’s mild humour and  way of dealing with human beings during some of the lowest times of their lives. I am excited to read more of Neil Gaiman’s comics.

Secret Path by Gord Downie and Jeff Lemine

#karllikes rating 4

I was inspired to get my hands on this after reading Wenjack by Joseph Boyden. The Secret Path is a graphic novel which also tells the story of Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack, who was a 12-year old boy who died while running away from a residential school 50 years ago. Gord Downie has created a series of 10 songs (which come as a free download with the purchase of the book) which creates a very unique reading experience.  This is a quick read however I would pick a time where you can digest this book and album fully as I found it incredibly emotional. I do not often keep books to re-read but this will be something I will be holding onto to show my son when he is old enough for the subject matter.


Canadian Rockies Annual Vol. 1 by Crowfoot Media

#karllikes rating 4

Seriously what isn’t to like about Crowfoot Media’s Canadian Rockies Annual? This creation by Dee Larosa and Meghan J. Ward is full of amazing photographs (many featuring one of my favourite photographers Paul Ziska) and articles cover to cover on beautifully weighted paper. I loved each article so much that I cannot even pick a favourite. If you are an explorer of the Canadian Rockies, you will want to get your hands on a copy. The next edition, Vol. 2 will be released May 1 2017.

Faerie Magazine the Naughty & Nice Issue No. 37 Winter 2016

#karllikes rating 3

The Faerie Magazines are absolutely amazingly beautiful. The pictures from cover to cover look and make me feel enchanted. This issue features the usual fantastical short stories and poems, with a naughty and nice twist. The Winter 2016 issue also features some fun wintry treats and craft ideas. The only issue with this magazine it is only available through subscription from their United States office (unless you are near a Barnes and Noble, or prefer emagazines) and thus are on the more expensive side and take a long time to arrive to your Canadian mailbox.

National Geographic Special Issue Gender Revolution January 2017

#karllikes rating 4

National Geographic had a very effective social media campaign leading up to the release of this special issue. The title really indicates it’s contents, gender revolution. I found the articles very thought provoking and introduced me to complexities about gender I had never thought about. Having a young son, I feel this type of reading is essential to try and inform myself about the gender revolution that he will grow up in. Some of the articles I have to say were particularly hard to read, especially involving the terrible ways some people are discriminated against and some traditions which are performed on young girls and boys around the world.

*WBRL- this book is available at the Wood Buffalo Regional Library as of January 2017-Magazines may be available but I have not personally checked and you must read them on location. Memberships are free.

Wood Buffalo Regional Library has a great selection of comics on the second floor.

We have an amazing local comic shop Nerdvana, if they do not have what you are looking for, they will special order it for you 🙂

#karllikes book rating is done on a 1-5 scale. The scale ranges from 1-I personally did not enjoy the book and see absolutely no chance of recommending it or re-reading it-to 5-I personally thoroughly enjoyed the book and see every chance of recommending it or re-reading the book.

What am I Listening to?

img_2821I listen to a very wide range of music, and my “What am I Listening to?” segment will reflect that. There will be a mix of new and ‘old’ music. Please use the itunes link provided or check them out on your favourite music source. (Ps. I am trying to figure out how to add a simpler way to share a playlist with links, do you know how?)

January 2017

Sylvan Esso- Radio

Mitski- Your Best American Girl

Edie Carey- If I Start to Cry

Ruth Moody- Dancing in the Dark

Rose Cousins- If You Could Read My Mind

Leonard Cohen- If You Want it Darker

Amelia Curran- You Wont Find Me

Olafur Arnalds (feat Georg Einarsson)- Arbakkinn

Aurora- Nature Boy (Acoustic)

Danny Michel-Khlebnikov-whole album feature which is released January 20, 2017. This is a unique classical (s0rt of) album which was written and recorded in the Arctic on a Russian icebreaker ship. The album features Rob Carli and Canadian Astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield. Mark your calanders, I was able to hear some samples on CBC its amazing!










What’s Exciting about 2017?

I can hardly believe I’m going to be writing 2017 as the year starting now. Like many in my community, I am ready for 2017, but I am also feeling bittersweet that it is over so fast! My son’s first full year has flashed by. Some days felt like they would never end, but all in all it was an experience like nothing else I have had. My husband and I have decided to only have one child, so every new ‘first’ also comes as a sort of last. I am looking forward to seeing what changes happen for my little guy in the upcoming year, watching him smile as he takes in the world around him is the best thing in my world.

Many of us start out 2017 with a strong resolution about what we are going to stop or start doing. Using January 1st as the day to set the magic in motion. I have never been great with resolutions. The only resolution I ever really held through with was a few years ago when I went on a clothing detox (no new clothing), it was great and really felt easy. This year I have decided to not really do any resolutions, but simply to take some time and look at what is getting me excited for the year ahead.

The Desire Map Planner Daily Edition 2017 From Daniele Laporte

I always use a paper day planner even with the invent of Iphones and other tablets. My brain works better when I use a writing utensil to make a plan. I am finding day-week-month planning critical with my mommy-brain. I have been taking Gloria Latham‘s online Kundalini Yoga programs, and I love the style of goal setting outlined in the Crystallize Your Vision and Breakthrough Your Blocks segments. While I was attending Its Time To Bloom Festival a couple of years ago the guest speaker was Danielle Laporte. I did not make it to the session, but the name interested me enough to look into her and what she had to offer. Her website is amazing! She is a real person, and this really resonates with me. I found her website and shares through social media very worthwhile. Reading about the ‘Desire Map’ and the concept of knowing how you want to feel can change your life, I purchased the Desire Map Planner Daily Edition 2017. The cover states “What I Will Do To Feel the Way I Want to Feel”, and inside are so many writing exercises including core desired feelings, soul prompts, want to change, to do, envision and of course a place to schedule your day and list to-dos. Every month has a monthly check-in, and each page contains words of wisdom. You can get free samples of the desire map on Danielle Laporte’s website. I am truly looking forward to using this day planner to do what I need to feel the way I want to feel.

Banff Film Festival World Tour

I started volunteering at the Keyano College Theatre a couple of seasons ago, and one of my first volunteer opportunities was ushering at the Banff Film Festival World Tour presentation. As ushers you arrive prior to the show, set up the coffee/tea stand, and when patrons arrive assist them with finding their seats. During the show, you get to sit inside the theatre and assist patrons needing to exit the theatre, and also make sure everyone is following the theatre’s guidelines. I watched the show from a stool, and was blown away. The visual effects, plots, experiences, nature, extreme sports, feelings of euphoria were jumping out of the screen. The passion on the screen tugged at my heart, I wanted to be part of this. The following year I grabbed tickets the day it went on sale, and we bought our then 2.5 month old son earmuffs and watched both evenings of the show. Amazingly you can find some of the Banff Film Festival selections on Netflix, such as Unbranded a documentary about 4 cowboys riding wild horses over 3000 miles. This past October I also grabbed a ticket to watch the Radical Reels Tour which is a selection of the most high-adrenaline films from the festival (highly recommend). This year’s event is being held on January 11 and 12, and you can grab your tickets either by calling the Keyano Theatre Box Office at 780-791-4990 or online, and get both nights because the film line up is different each evening. Tickets are 25/adult or 20/student or senior, I hope to see you there!


I am afraid of heights, well I have convinced myself that I am. I have indoor climbed a few times as a teenager, it was OK. In university I was in a sports group which signed up for an introduction to climbing at the University of Alberta Butterdome. The group started out bouldering, which I hated, I felt weak and unable to go anywhere. We then moved to some fun competition style timed climbs to the top of the wall, I became angry, I participated, cried at the top when I knew I had to let go, and vowed to never climb again. Macdonald Island converted one of the courts into a climbing center a few years ago. I had just watched my first Banff Film Festival and was feeling inspired. I was terrified, and shook when I had to release at the top, but I loved it! I continued to climb here, and even tried walls out in Edmonton, and in Boston! Due to a little baby in my belly, I had to take a break, and have just started back up last fall. I bought climbing shoes, which initially hurt, and I can feel my body becoming more flexible and stronger. This Christmas Santa was very good to be and gifted me my own harness, belay clip, and chalk bag. I also am registered for the Intro to Bouldering course at MacDonald Island and am in the inquiry stages to set myself up to pass the belay exam. My goals are to not give up, and keep trying. I am far from being good, but continuing to try feels oh so satisfying.

Mountains 101

Mountains 101 is a Massive Online Open Course being offered through the University of Alberta. This course will cover physical, biological and human aspects of the mountains found in Alberta, Canada and around the world. The class is offered in a variety of no credits to full university credits and consists of 12 60-min lessons. Each lesson will have lecture videos, course notes, glossary, and recommended readings/additional resources. To ensure you understood the lesson’s main points short quizzes will also accompany each lesson. If you are taking the class for university credit there will be a final exam. If this course appeals to you, act fast as the course begins January 9, 2017!

#Canada 150

2017 marks Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation, and to celebrate there will be local to national events throughout the country. Of particular interest to me is that in 2017 you can get a free admissions to Parks Canada places, meaning all national natural and cultural heritage sites coast to coast have zero entry fees! You can download a visitor guide and order your pass from Parks Canada. Check out these 10 tips to make the most out of your free pass here. Reminder that entry is free, camping is not, so make your reservations early as this year is going to be busy! While checking out our parks keep your eyes open for Parks Canada red chairs and snap a photo of you enjoying the location!. Another cool thing happening in 2017 is #onthisday which through the Library and Archives Canada heritage collection where today in history highlights will be featured on society shaping events. You can check out the Library and Archives website, Facebook or twitter page and follow #Canada150 and #onthisday.

Shine Kids Fitness

I’ve had the pleasure of giving and taking classes with Shine Kids Fitness here in Fort McMurray. The last two summers I have done a nature talk with the kiddos, I love talking about nature! I am thrilled to be on this upcoming Jan/Feb schedule for family yoga, there is still time to sign up! Conway and I have enjoyed Mom and Baby yoga, Family Danceplay, and Family yoga and are looking forward to taking more classes. During the summer Shine Kids Fitness offers kids camps, which I am hoping to offer some nature sessions to again! I am currently taking online Kids Yoga training with Cosmic Kids out of Australia. I also am 95% complete my pre/post natal training with Mamata Yoga, just need to film and submit a teaching video. We all can learn (re-learn) a thing or two from kids.

Hike It Baby Fort McMurray

I randomly found Hike It Baby just before the November Hike It Baby 30 Challenge began. To sign up it was a donation of what you could afford, and then you were able to log miles, partake in discussion with other hikers, and were eligible for prizes. There are branches of Hike it Baby throughout the United States and Canada, but the closest one was Edmonton. After the challenge I decided to submit an application to be a branch ambassador for Hike it Baby Fort McMurray branch. I am really excited to bring this group to Fort McMurray families. The program is designed to get families outside, you record both your miles and time outside with your little ones. Please note that if you are expecting, it is advised that you speak with your midwife or physician prior to starting any new exercise program. When I have completed the training and other necessary technicalities the branch will offer group hike get togethers. These hikes are great for families who are not comfortable hiking on their own, or feel unmotivated. Once up and running there will be a minimum of one group hike a week. This is a great group for motivation, support and also for fighting depression, postpartum, and getting fit. There is a membership fee for this group $10 USD providing you access to the website, view of calendar of events, discounts on gear, stickers for Hike it Baby 30 challenges, Facebook groups, etc. I am doing another Hike it Baby 30 challenge during January 2017, so if you want to come out for a walk/hike let me know!

365 Mile Challenge

Another challenge I am so excited about in 2017 is the 365 Mile Challenge which also starts today January 1, 2017 and runs until December 31, 2017. This challenge is also to get you outside, but differs slightly from the Hike it Baby. For the 365 Mile Challenge, you can be solo, or with your kids, family, friends, etc., and you can count other forms of activity such as running and cycling. The fee goes up to $15 USD today to participate and that gives you motivation and support, a sticker, access to the Facebook community page, discounts on gear, and entry for prizes. I am so excited to get recording some miles!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Compost Project

I have had a personal journey this the 3 R’s throughout my adult life. This year is no different. I love animals (is it obvious?), and unfortunately many animals are suffering around the world because of our human waste. I am going to be challenging myself to make some bigger changes for 2017. Plastic-ITS LITERALLY EVERYWHERE! I watched a video of someone pulling a plastic straw out of a turtles nose, it broke my heart. I am sure many of us have also seen the videos of the island of plastic in the ocean, and know that our plastics do not disintegrate over time. Living where I live in Fort McMurray, I do not have the luxuries of committing to a no-plastic life, its impractical, but small changes can go a long ways. We have over time implemented quite a few changes in our household-wool dryer balls, cloth diapers, reusable wipes, green laundry soap, reusable shopping bags, reusable snack bags, glass containers, using recycling bins provided by the municipality, green cleaning products (vinegar and baking soda), green personal hygiene products and eat vegan/vegetarian dishes (not exclusively in the household but a majority, and my favourite cook books are vegan).

To help achieve my reduce, reuse, recycle and compost goals in 2017 I am working towards the following steps:

  • greatly reducing the need of plastic wrap by using wax food wrap instead (trying Abeego Beeswax Wrap)
  • while dining out to request no straw be placed into beverages, and bringing my own container if I am expecting left overs
  • bringing my own produce bags to the grocery store, and choosing the produce not wrapped in plastic when given a choice
  • purchasing in bulk if there is an option
  • bringing my own re-usable cutlery and not using plastic single use cutlery
  • using bamboo toothbrushes instead of plastic (Santa delivered us these)
  • trying to limit paper towel use through the Skoy Cloth (available locally at Blankies and Bums)
  • finding a green alternative to the dish sponge
  • when placing online orders, adding “please exclude any plastic wrapping if possible” in the additional comments section
  • using my own reusable thermos (hot drink cups are lined in plastic)
  • drastically reducing use of single use drinking containers by using my own re-usuable water bottle (great option-Swell Bottle available locally at Oranj Fitness, Blankies and Bums, and Cole Books)
  • switching to reusable feminine products
  • commiting to not purchasing fancy wrapping and instead using plain paper
  • switching to paper tape
  • research greener dish soap
  • research greener dishwasher soap
  • install green composter purchased from the city (having issues getting through our trailer pad)
  • researching small worm composter (fun project with the kiddo)
  • Christmas and birthdays 2017-trying to limit items and giving more experiences
  • researching greener garbage bags
  • garage sale and donations of things not being used

An area where I feel I struggle to come up with ideas is the re-use, if you have any great tips please leave them below!

Wildlife Garden

I love wildlife! The last two years I have made decisions in my yard to best suit bees as much as possible. I found the experience extremely rewarding and fun. Spring 2017 I am looking forward to making my yard even more wildlife friendly. These are some examples of how I am going to make my yard wildlife friendly (focus on pollinators, birds, small mammals, and amphibians):

  • bee boxes-placed in sunny location
  • butterfly box-placed in sunny location
  • bat box-placed in sunny location
  • using no chemicals-including non-treated soil and peat
  • using only native grass seed to green brown areas
  • bird bath
  • bird house and season appropriate feeders, also making a winter bird house
  • adding planter boxes seeded with pollinator blends
  • native flowers and plants-which flower/mature at different times in the season
  • leaving dandelions as long as possible (especially in early spring as they are early food sources to bees)
  • clay bee bath, and water source
  • water source for butterflies
  • re-using rain water for watering plants
  • re-using left over dog bowl water, and kid pool water to water plants
  • leaving lawn clippings on the ground
  • fall-leaving plant debris from season for animal habitat
  • fall-amphibian habitat
  • fall-using leaves and left over branches to create habitat
  • winter-using Christmas tree to create habitat

A few amazing resources for making your yard wildlife friendly include:

David Suzuki Foundation : Create a bee-friendly garden

ABC Bees: Habitat Creation, I highly recommend their book Little Book on Bees: Gardening

Canadian Wildlife Federation: Resources for Homeowners

Check out our library for some books, membership is free!


I have had my Pentax for a few years now and I have taken some great photographs. I do however to tend to not be confident of my abilities behind the lens. This year I want to accomplish a few projects with my camera, mostly revolving around my photogenic son and dog, Karl. I also am wanting to do some flat-lay photography, and do some play-shots with Conway’s toys. The largest block in achieving my photography goals is self sabotage, telling myself it’s not worth taking the shot. This year I am excited to leave that behind, and try. I am going joining Wood Buffalo Photography Club at its next meeting, and am hoping to get some 1-1 training from Danielle Germain Photography and Sithara Fernando Photography. Keep your eyes posted!


Many excuses later I have not been out on my paddleboard as much as I have wanted in the last couple years. This year that will change! Before being pregnant and having Conway, I was given an amazing opportunity of providing introduction courses for basic paddleboarding and paddleboard yoga with SUP Fort McMurray (Formerly Elara Fitness) down at the Snye. I want to do some river paddling and explore more of the water bodies  around us this summer. No promises, but also hoping there will be an opportunity to do some private lessons as well!

So right now, this is what is exciting me in 2017, what is exciting you? Leave me a comment, sharing is caring (except for germs).

*Embedded links in text above will bring you to appropriate websites as mentioned. Here is a list of additional resources*

Programming at MacDonald Island Park

Wood Buffalo Photography Club Facebook Page

Danielle Germain Photography Facebook Page

Sithara Fernando Photography Facebook Page