I know most of you think I’m weirdly perfect, like a super-funny robot with hair that grows. And I am. But I’m other things too.  I’m also a super-funny Ninja with hair that grows.  And as with all super-funny Ninjas there comes a time when I have to think about retirement.  Not from being super-funny. Asking a super-funny to stop being super-funny is like asking a tree to stop growing or an asthmatic to stop wheezing.

But I feel like at my age it’s time to slow down my Ninjaing.  This is my New Years Resolution every year by the way.  To slowwwwww down.  To stop whipping around all hours of the day and night and hang out with the other Ninjas who have slowed down, discussing our past accomplishments over $1.99 breakfasts in a Ninja friendly Boca Raton strip mall restaurant.

I still like doing things, I love doing things in fact, but when you’ve been doing things your whole life, non-stop, there comes a time you’d like to not do things.  Or at least not do them so quickly that your neighbours refer to you as a Chihuahua on speed.

Here’s a list of some of the things I’ve done to my house in the past 15 years.



The first year in my house I fixed all the weird things that the people before me had done. Like cementing the dishwasher that didn’t work to the floor or covering up the “awful, stupid subfloor” with dirty carpeting.  The awful, stupid subfloor was 20″ pine planks from 1840 by the way. I ripped up, sanded, drywalled and painted every inch of every room, installed new appliances and tricked out the house with central vac. Let’s keep in mind when I say I installed the new appliances I mean that I, me, installed the new appliances. I ripped out the dishwasher with the help of my sister and a random delivery guy that appeared at my door at the time we were doing it, and I bought the new dishwasher and hooked it up myself. The delivery guy said he couldn’t stay long enough to help me install it. Something about this being really weird and not having time and unlawful and restraining.  Something like that.

In the first years I also hired a company to replace my backyard fence which was teetering over like the cast of Shameless at an ankle monitor removal party.  (open bar of course)  The fencing company built one entire panel of the fence to be about a foot shorter than the rest of the fence and secured everything with nails that were 2″ too long and stuck out the other side like a vertical version of a bed of nails.  In this company’s defence at least when they showed up to give me a quote they arrived upright and sober as opposed to the first guy who showed up at 10 a.m. smelling like Boris Yeltsin and leaning as far over as my fence.

That’s the time I really became a Ninja, fixing, making and doing pretty much everything myself.  If it can’t kill me or permanently mess my hair I do it myself.  That means things like electrical panels and roofing replacement are jobs I hire for while everything else is either done by me or at least attempted by me.



Seriously. LOOK at the size of my biceps after about one month of hard labour. Crossfit can suck it. Just do shit yourself if you wanna get fit.

In 2007 I ripped out my entire backyard, everything in it and started from scratch.  This wasn’t  a whim, like OooooOoooo wouldn’t it be fun to haul ass, shovel dirt and compress my spine for 3 months?  The same owners before me who warned me of the “awful, stupid subfloor” had done a really great job of designing the backyard with the worst possible material choices imaginable. I mean if they had chosen to pave the backyard with marshmallows it would have been a better choice than what they went with.  The flower beds around the backyard were 1″ thick cedar boards with  no barrier between the soil and the cedar which meant it took all of around 3 years for them to completely rot away. The ground was paved with slate, which is a beautiful material when used either in a bathroom, hallway or high end Hawaiian outdoor massage parlour.  It’s not the optimal choice for an outdoor patio in Ontario, Canada where for 6 months of the year the ground gets wet, then freezes, then heaves, then thaws.  Slate is all shaley so the second water gets into it and freezes it expands, basically making the slate erode and explode then eventually turn to magical slate dust. No seriously. It’s like magic. One day you have a beautiful patio, and the next day you walk out to  what looks like a violently sharp sandbox.

So I redid the entire backyard with more appropriate materials like flagstone and 2″ thick wood for the beds.   I also redid the pond by digging it out larger and changing the shape, adding some waterfalls and a few tiered levels. I’ve stuccoed the back of the house (hired people for that actually since stucco in my hair could probably ruin it forever), built a 2 level chicken coop and a really fantastic cob pizza oven.  Myself.  With my own two hands that seem to know the difference between a bottle of wood glue and a bottle of Vodka. They’re also pretty good at knowing the difference between a  1″ and a 3″ nail.

I also had the redone fence redone again by a contractor I’d struck up a good relationship with after he rebuilt my historic porch and everything came out the same height.



Not one to rest on my laurels or haunches or ugly couch, in 2009 I decided I needed to redo the entire inside of my house.  Not because I was sick of all the things I previously loved, but because I was sick of all the things I’d previously hated.  When I first bought my house I owned nothing and couldn’t really afford much of anything, so most of my house was cheerfully decorated courtesy of the town dump, flea market or curb.

At the time of my big house makeover, I ran an antique booth at an open antique market so a lot of my curb finds were sold there and everything else was either gifted, sold on Craigslist or returned to it’s natural habitat, the curb outside of student housing rentals.

With the money I  made plus the money I’d saved over the years by doing everthing myself I took one month and redid my entire house.  Painted the whole thing white, had a dining room table custom made, found a new couch, new accessories and installed the all important bookcase in my foyer to hold the books that had previously been stored under anything that was higher than 2″.  Couches, chairs, dining room buffets, the cats.

I flew through this project at such an impressive speed I considered starting a business doing it for a living but the only business name I could come up with was Speedy Interiors which sounded weirdly like a hipster laxative.



In the past few years I’ve ripped out my front yard to put in a front yard vegetable garden, taken on a 20X40′ community garden plot and redid my entire kitchen. I also switched over from pre-ground coffee to beans which may not sound like  big deal but basically solidified my entry into the world of grown ups.  My furniture was now “purchased” as opposed to dragged away and I ground my own coffee every morning while floating from room to room, head tilted back, laughing playfully in case someone was looking in my windows. I wanted them to see I was a well adjusted, coffee drinking grown up without a care in the world about  having curbside furniture bedbugs.



Last year I made a list of what needed to be done like I do every year and started tackling it with the non-stop energy of a Ninja full of coffee made from freshly ground beans. I painted, stained, rehung lights, moved garden plots and lifted more slate.  I nursed my chicken Cuddles back to health. Twice.  All of this by mid-summer.  And then something weird happened. I saw that the 10 year old garden beds around my backyard were starting to rot and I left them. I just left them to rot. I propped them up a bit, said a little Ninja prayer over them and wished them well until next year. Normally I’d be right on those garden beds, ripping them out and replacing them like … well like a Chihuahua on speed.

But not last year.

Last year I said. Meh.  I’ll leave it for another year.  Who cares.  I was having a really good time taking care of my community garden and spending more time writing and talking to people in grocery stores about how yes, I am super-funny, and yes I do like it when they tell me that.


Which brings me to this year.  Here it is January 4th. The entire year of doing stuff stretching out before me at the exact same time I’ve decided it’s time to semi-retire from being a nutcase.  What to do, what to do.  I know I’m dying to get this whole house cleaned up from top to bottom, and like every January I’m thrilled to have the Christmas crap relegated to the basement alongside the Easter and Halloween crap.

In fact, I’d like to clear things out even more. After 7 years I’m kind of thinking it’s almost time for another house makeover. Not quite as huge as the get rid of everything I own, rubbing my hands together and cackling makeover of 2007, but big enough that there’s a dramatic change.  For one thing when I made over my house, I never did find a living room chair to replace the one I found in the garbage. I’ve never liked my coffee table and even though they’re crazy-useful I’m getting sick of the Ikea Billy bookcases. Maybe they don’t feel like something a coffee grinding, semi-retired grown up Ninja would have.

My bathroom has never, ever been made over other than putting down heated floors, new flooring  and buying a new toilet for it a few year ago.  So that’s one thing I’d like to tackle on a really limited budget.  I’d also like to declutter the living room and give it a new look or feeling.  I threaten every week that I’m going to drag everything out of the living room onto the front lawn and slowly start putting pieces back in the room item by item. Anything left on the front lawn gets a sale sign put on it.

Speaking of the front lawn, I also want to somehow make it look better. It’s really hard to make a front yard full of sprawling, 10′ high tomato plants look like anything other than a condemned lot that may or may not be home to Randy Quaid.

Then there are those beds in the backyard that I shunned last year.  Those pretty much have to be done this year.  It won’t be as big a job as the first time around but it’ll still be a big enough job that the neighbours should probably keep their kids inside for a couple of weeks while I scream my newly invented swear words from approximately 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. while also shouting out a lot of the old favourites.

Also on “the list” for this year are refinishing all my wood floors, redoing the roof of the chicken coop, building a couple of new gates for the backyard and building some sort of antique looking bookcase in my upstairs hall because my stairs are so narrow and my windows are so small I can’t actually get anything up to my second floor. If I want a half decent sized bookcase I’m going to have to build it myself and I’m going to have to build it where it’s going.

Let’s review the year ahead ahead shall we?  

Redecorate Living room

Redecorate Foyer

Spruce up Dining Room

Redo bathroom

Rebuilt planter beds

Reconfigure front yard

Refinish wood floors

Build some gates

Build an “antique” bookcase from scratch


That list seems kindda fun actually.  I’ve got gates to build, bookcases to erect, foyers to make sparkle, living rooms to redo. There’s a backyard that needs new beds, a dining room that needs sprucing up and floors that need refinishing.  Also there’s a book to write, Randy Quaid to kick out and new swear words just waiting to be invented.  I’ll slow down next year.  I’m gonna Ninja the hell outta that list.

Look out New Year. Shit’s about to get real.



  1. Layla Bera says:

    Hard… Hard… & Hard…! I must say it’s completely hard task to complete as you have done. I don’t say… it’s easy to done but hard to done in short time as you have done Karen. Congratulations for this nice work… !!!

  2. haha I am so glad that I don’t have to be a grown up yet. I buy pre-ground hazelnut flavored coffee : ) Maybe that’ll be my excuse to never become a grown up?? Now I’m making a mental list in my head of things that need to get Ninga-done this year…and on that thought, I just might have to switch over to coffee beans.

  3. Nancy M. Carrol says:

    SUPER WOMEN. I can not do it like you :( :(

    • Karen says:

      Yes you can. You just have to make the decision to do it. Same as being happy. You don’t “become” happy. You decide to be. People confuse those things allll the time. ;) ~ karen!

  4. Kelly says:

    you funny lady.

  5. Oh how I’ve laughed reading your posts. Monique one of your followers sent me your link, as I’d mentioned I wanted to organize my Christmas decorations before putting them away for another year. I can’t stop reading your blog. I wish I still had the energy to do all you can do. I’d like to follow your blog but can’t find how to.

    • L says:

      I would hate for you to miss out on receiving this goodness in your inbox. Some browsers may vary, but I see a line that says “subscribe” at the top of my screen.
      I also keep Karen pinned to my home screen for immediate inspiration, like a reverse voodoo doll. A good juju doll, if you will.

  6. JBess says:

    You know how football players in the movies get amped before a game by jumping up and down and punching their own helmeted head while yelling f*ck yeah? That is how this post made me feel :) Briefly. Before I thought again about all the hurdles imminent in our upcoming garage remodel and got tired again. I think I should bookmark this post and read it from time to time. Just to remember what it feels like to have energy!

  7. Patricia Polmanteer says:

    Girl… you have made me exhausted just reading your page.. you are a ninja goddess for sure. I send prayers up for you (if it’s ok) that you sty your path with care and caution. That things work out to the good and that you really have no reason to make “new words” because things go smoothly. Thanks for showing the rest of us that WE CAN TO DO IT

    • Karen says:

      Is that O.K. with me? That’s fine and dandy with me, lol. And yes, you CAN do it. You might need swear words, (that’s natural) but you definitely can do it. :) ~ karen!

  8. Andrea Meyers says:

    I thought shit got real with the Coop building, and pizza oven. OH, and the super detailed lay your own heated floor thingy. I need to get-it-real and get rid of all my stuff, like you did!

    • Karen says:

      Getting rid of all your stuff is GREAT Andrea! I mean don’t get rid of stuff you know you’ll miss in a few years but … the rest of it? Ditch it, lol. ~ karen!

  9. Dale says:

    By the way, what does a grown up Ninja drink for coffee to get her in top form to tackle her day? Roast your own? Double expresso?

    • Karen says:

      2 Americanos in the morning, followed by a possible additional Americano around 3:30. Then if I’m feeling really rowdy a shot of espresso after dinner. And that’s my coffee story. As told by this Ninja. ~ karen!

      • Dale says:

        After checking the Starbucks caffeine rating of an Ameicanos Venti @ 300 mg, times 3, equals 900 mg. And then an Espresso?! How many cups of Chamomile or melatonin pills help you get to sleep at night? Or, just being a creative type, you tape your eyelids shut!!

        • Karen says:

          LOL! NO taping going on. That’s not nearly hard core enough. I just keep a little sewing kit by my bedside table … ~ karen!

  10. Connie says:

    You rock darlin.

  11. Heather (mtl) says:

    Since last week – after that truckload of snow that has still not been cleared fell on us (groan) – I’ve been filling girl sized boxes with stuff to sell in our annual garage sale. A couple more boxes were filled with craft items to sell at a craft sale. Because everything came out of drawers and/or hidden places, I didn’t even see them then. I do now. In fact, now all I see are boxes. Somewhere along the way, I oppsed. So, I dragged the beasts down to my locker where they can safely await the spring sale. Now I want to get rid of lots of the stuff that I do see. Sort of like this last week had been just a warm-up. See what you’ve done?!
    All the best for your list. I can’t wait to read about your escapades!

  12. Catherine says:

    I wish you’d reconsider about refinishing those floors. From what I can see in all the pictures, they have a gorgeous patina. But, clearly, we can’t see them as well and Ninjas only know what lurks in the dark corners or under the strategically placed rugs. Right now my only goal is to get the Taxes done and all the important documents and records scanned and shredded.

  13. whitequeen96 says:

    Whew! With all this talk of slowing down, I was worried that you were going to cut back. Things just wouldn’t be the same without our incredibly ambitious and productive Karen!

    Boy, what a sense of satisfaction you must have when you look back at what you’ve done!

  14. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Sorry I’m late..Loved seeing the old pictures..Wishing you another busy productive year Karen!

  15. Leslie Best says:

    I LOVE it when shit gets real!

    Great post Karen. You are incredible and a huge inspiration! And fearless. Crazy ninja fearless.

    I’ve got a few of these on my list too for this year. Looking forward to following along!

  16. Manisha says:

    Excellent news. I have to build shelves on my three-season porch so I’ll be looking forward to your shelving posts. And I have to get heat in there so I can finally have an office. I got more handy in 2015. I wonder if that has something to do with you?
    Cheers to stronger muscles in 2016!

  17. Jen says:

    I’m tired just reading that. And a little envious.

  18. Cindy says:

    I’m wid cha. Shit’s about to get real in Oklahoma too.

  19. Jess says:

    Wow!!! Sounds like a plan. Inspired, I’ll start when you do. Can’t wait :-D

  20. Beth says:

    After reading your last sentences I found the words I was waiting for – ‘Also there’s a book to write…’. I read ‘Hen and the Art of Chicken Maintenance’. Amusing, fun, especially for a fellow chicken-wrangler, and you could write rings around that guy. The rotting logs can wait!

  21. Marilyn says:

    Lmao. Yeah slow down Karen would ya. You make the rest of us look bad.

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