My name is Karen and I do stuff. Vegetable gardening, cooking, home repairs and renovations ... that sort of thing. I've been "doing" my whole life, but have been teaching other people how to do stuff online since 2010.
My name is Karen Bertelsen and I was a television host. In Canada. Which means in terms of notoriety and wealth, I was somewhere on par with the manager of a Sunset Tan in Wisconsin.
I quit television to start a blog with the goal that I could make my living through blogging and never have to host a television show again. And it's worked out. I'm making a living blogging. If you're curious, this is how I do that.
So I'm doing this in reverse basically. I'm the only blogger who is trying to NOT get a TV show.
As a sweet child, I used to rip the heads off my dolls. It was kind of my calling card as a 6 year old. That was back in the day when kids played with super-cool things like dolls, board games, and potatoes. I figured if I ripped enough doll heads off, my mother would realize that I didn't like dolls and had no interest in wrapping them in my arms and cooing them to pretend sleep. Me? I wanted to build stuff. I wanted to hammer stuff, open it, take it apart, fix it, and recreate it.
Which in the landscape of the mid-1970's pretty much meant I wanted to be a boy.
But this isn't the story of a little girl who became a boy, even though that story would probably make a lot more money and guarantee at least a 13 episode run on TLC followed by an impressively public scandal/divorce. It's the story of a little girl who said “Screw this doll business!” (but since I was six it was more like "hurumph, raspberry sound, booooo"), I want to DO stuff.
I grew up in a two-story house on a suburban street in a small town. Growing up, summer vacation was the same all across town. Kids were sent out to play as soon as they drank the last bit of pink milk from their bowl of Frankenberries, and 12 hours later, the street lights would come on and they would scatter like cockroaches. It was during those impossibly long summer days that I found my fun. It wasn't dragging around a doll or playing make believe like with Barbie's Dream House; my fun was found in the garage. Bits of leftover wood, old lawnmower wheels and lots of casually stored bottles of pesticides that could easily take out your friendly neighbourhood cult, let alone a patch of clover.
I spent my summers building forts, go-carts, bird traps and little mounds of nothing that were nailed together.
Also, I liked to put on puppet shows.
Now that we've established that I've always liked creating things and entertaining people, I'm sure you've already guessed that I decided to go to law school. I never made it there or even took the test to get into law school, but it still sounds pretty impressive to say I considered it, doesn't it? I also considered being a librarian, an air traffic controller, and an Olympian. So I did what every person who doesn't know what to do with their life does. I went to university and studied Sociology.
4 years later with a degree in tow, I went to work at my local cable television station for free. Over the next 15 years I worked at most of the major networks in Canada hosting and writing a huge variety of television shows. I did commentary, entertainment reporting, hosted a bunch of design and lifestyle shows and wrote every single one of them. I've interviewed everyone from Harrison Ford to Vince Vaughn to Henry Rollins. I've worked with Mike Holmes, Candice Olsen, The Designer Guys (R.I.P Chris) and wait for it ... Jerry Springer.
But after 15 years the industry was changing with less and less shows being made and even fewer quality ones. I had started writing blogs for the shows I was hosting as part of my contract, and I LIKED it. I could get away with a LOT more on a blog than I ever would have gotten away with on television and I didn't have to worry about sweat stains when I was writing a blog.
After hosting a slightly disastrous lifestyle show for a huge network in Canada I hung up my microphone and padded bra (you have to wear one of those in television because studios are always so cold. It's a little trick Jennifer Aniston never seemed to learn about.) and said I'M STARTING A BLOG.
In 2010 The Art of Doing Stuff was born. My goal was to create a blog that was entertaining enough that you'd keep reading even if you didn't care about that day's topic and accessible enough that my readers would start to think ... HEY, I could do that.
I have installed my own central vac, done my own wiring, plumbing, drywalling, landscaping, toilet trained my cats and raised monarch butterflies which I then bronze and fashion into one of a kind wrist corsages. Okay that’s not true, I don’t bronze them.
So I guess what I’m saying is, it’s not as hard as you think -- any of it. You can do it yourself, cheaper, faster and it will make your life simpler. Trust me, I’m no genius, but if I can do it you can do it. Hell, if the last guy who showed up to fix your dryer can do it, you can do it.
Welcome to my site.