The time has come for me to say good-bye to you for the rest of the year. I, like the chickens, will be taking my annual Christmastime week off. The chickens get time off every winter from laying eggs, and I get time off from scrambling.

As I wind down, getting ready for my Christmas break I can’t help but think back on this last year and everything I’ve done.  I lead a pretty fast paced life for someone who left her big city job years ago.  You’d think the kind of simple living I, and so many others have adopted would leave us feeling refreshed and glowing every day.  Like we regularly have time for leaning on counters and eat apples. It’s not true. So don’t you dare believe a single Instagram picture you see of that lifestyle.  Not even my own Instagram pictures.

A simple life is HARD.  But it’s a fun hard, not living with bangs that are cut too short hard. I’ve lived through both, so I can authoritatively compare the two. I, like any of you that have had the dreaded too-short-bangs  am skilled at raising both my eyebrows very high for hours on end in an attempt to make it appear as though my bangs are closer to my eyebrow hairs, thusly appearing longer.

Keeping chickens isn’t a lot of work for instance, in fact it’s quite simple,  but it’s a constant.  You always have to make sure they’re healthy and have food and water and aren’t pecking each others eyes out.  You have to trudge out to the coop no matter what the weather or how you’re feeling.  That’s right.  If it’s cold and pouring rain and you have the stomach flu and are quite possibly suffering from the kind of gastrointestinal distress only read about in scientific papers, you still have to check on the chickens.

And gardening?  I love it with all of my heart but it is WORK.  It’s work during the gardening season, after the gardening season and pre-gardening season.  There’s planting and digging and canning and enough swearing throughout to make the longshoreman version of Gordon Ramsay blush.

People look at this kind of life and they think, wow, I wish I had that life, but really all people want is the Instagram version of it. The don’t want the gastrointestinal version of it.

So next year, as part of my New Year’s resolution I’m going to share even more of the shitshow that is a real life.  More of my family, more of me.

It’s the least I can do.  Because even though I want to encourage all of you to do all of this great stuff I also don’t want you to think it’s easy and if you screw up it’s because you’re a big loser.  You’re not.    It ain’t easy for anyone.  O.K., maybe it’s a little bit easier for me because I already know how to can sauce and stick my finger up a chicken’s bum if I have to, but generally it’s all a bit of a struggle.

So what am I going to do with this week off? All of this:

  1. Sleep. A lot.
  2. Wear only pajamas even if someone invites me out for dinner.
  3. Turn my couch into an old fashioned fort and spend a lot of time there.
  4. Have a fire crackling in the fireplace from morning until night.
  5. Read, read, read starting with this book.
  6. Empty out half of my closet and drawers.
  7. Do my taxes.
  8. Learn to braid with my toes.
  9. Teach my cats how to walk on stilts.
  10. Wean myself off of Hallmark made for TV Christmas movies.
  11. Watch the entire second seasons of Stranger Things and The Crown.
  12. Order and install a dining room light.  Finally. Maybe.
  13. Do SOMETHING about those ugly curtains of mine. At the very least close my eyes when I walk past them.
  14. Cook huge delicious meals from the comfort of my couch while wearing pajamas.
  15. Remind myself to buy a really long stick for cooking hotdogs on the fireplace from the couch. Buy gourmet mustard to make it a fancy meal.
  16. Make more pickled beets.
  17. Start planning next year’s garden.
  18. Teach my cats how to use a paint roller.
  19. Experiment with napping
  20. Knit.
  21. Paint my dining room ceiling (unless the whole cats on stilts with paint roller things goes well, in which case …)
  22. Recharge.
  23. Post at least 3 shitshow events on Instagram.  Extra points for using poor lighting.
  24. Text Idris.
  25. Play backgammon with someone.
  26. Stand at counter. Eat apples

I also thought I’d better point out that I will be posting differently in January.  This is just for the month of January.  I need the month to catch up on a lot of stuff that needs to be done with my blog to bring it more up to date and take care of a bunch of back end stuff.  The sort of stuff I just don’t have time for while I’m working full time on creating content.

January will have sporadic posts and the odd check in, but I will not be keeping a regular blogging schedule on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays like I normally do.  Everything will be back to normal in February so don’t you worry.

Have a GREAT holiday season and thank you so much for being a part of The Art of Doing Stuff.  Here’s to more learning, more fun and more stuff in the New Year.





P.S. Oh! Oh!  I made a Spotify playlist of my favourite Christmas music.  You can get it here!  It has  Bessie Smith, Nat King Cole, The Pretenders, Otis Redding, The Waitresses, David Bowie and everything in between.  REMEMBER to click “Follow it” to make finding it later easy.

P.P.S.  I would like to wish you and your family, however big or small, a very happy Christmas.

→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of myself←



  1. shoshana leeder says:

    Dear Karen, Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to the only blogger I I read. Even when the blog is about doing something to a chicken’s tush!!!! And you never ignore my posts about Jewish holidays! You are truly an inspiration. And so funny.

  2. Mickey says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, your family and all who follow your blog. Peace and love, everyone.

  3. KimS says:

    Just thank you, and Merry Christmas!!

  4. Sherry (BTLover2) says:

    You are the best, Karen, and deserve a break!! Though your break sounds rather hectic and not at all relaxing, I’m sure it will be for you. All joking aside, you are truly an inspiration — from learning to laughing. Smart and funny — I’d marry you if I wasn’t heterosexual and already married.

    Have the most Merry Christmas and peaceful New Year!

  5. Kate says:

    I love the pix of the chickens – they posed so well. I look forward to the ‘shit show’.
    Happy Christmas.

  6. Nicole says:

    Maybe you can teach the chickens to garden and outsource all of the pain-in-the-butt stuff to them and the cats?

    Hope you have bountiful holidays and a miraculous new year. (Why limit yourself to the same old adjectives?) I’m sure it’ll be February before we know it.

  7. Beth W says:

    Merry Christmas, Karen! I look forward to your first “real” instagram picture being that of you wearing pyjamas at a dinner party between Christmas and New Years… or even at a NYE party. Great resolution :)

    Depending on what you need an “assistant” for during you development work in January, if it can be done relatively remotely (I’m only 1.5hr down the 403), I’d be pleased to help. I’m limited to the cottage reno work I can be doing for myself, and have promised that I’d take a semester off from college anyways, so would have some free time

    Again, Merry Christmas!

  8. Eileen says:

    Merry Christmas to you and your family of chickens. That photo of them all together is a frame-able one. I love your blog. Thanks to you, my septic is safe. That, alone, is worth the read..

  9. Julie says:

    Merry Christmas and next year I PROMISE to do the Christmas Pledge. You were right, I was wrong. :)

  10. Terri J. says:

    Thanks Karen for all your hard work in making this such a great site. I learn and I laugh…can’t get better than that!! Enjoy your “time off”!

  11. Chris White says:

    Karen, thank you for sharing your wit and wisdom and for creating this lovely community. It’s a joy to “meet” with you each week. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  12. Cathy Vosper says:

    Merry Christmas and thank you for allowing me to live your life vicariously, through your blog. It’s so much more energetic than mine.

  13. Annie says:

    I always look forward to your posts. Have a Merry Christmas and a great new year! You never cease to amaze me!

  14. Ella says:

    Merry Christmas Karen! And thanks for the laughs, the thought provoking stuff and that great playlist!!

  15. trish says:

    Happy holidays to you and your family Karen and thank you so much for all you’ve given us all again this year. :)

  16. I’d like to borrow your cats on stilts with paint rollers for a day please!! Merry Christmas and have a piece of decadent chocolate cake for me while leaning on the counter…

    Sherry @ Edie Marie’s Attic

  17. Sandi Remedios says:

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you.
    I hope your pyjama party is a roaring success and your weinies are perfectly roasted.
    Your chicken pictures are lovely.

  18. Laura Bee says:

    You’re the cat’s pajamas Karen. Ooh! You should knit your cat pajamas. That would be double cozy on your lap.
    You are still the only blogger I know and love. Merry Christmas! xxoo

  19. Jack Barr says:

    Hey, Karen: some chick, some chickens! The girls look great; have they secretly found a good rooster? Perhaps and Idris rooster? We had chickens…. and ducks when I was a lad in Renfrew. My mom was terrified of a huge Rhode Island Red rooster, so would send me out to collect the eggs. Big Red would fly from his perch in a beeline for me, as I opened the door, which I promptly slammed shut. After he crash landed against the door, I’d enter and safely collect eggs with a much subdued rooster cackling at my heels.
    You might consider adding “try hypnotizing the chicks” to your list. It’s neat. And, they might be easier to photograph.
    Keep up the good “WORK”. Those of us that chose it know, as one wag was won’t to say: all roads lead to the same end, its not so much which one you take, it’s how you take it.
    Have a wonderful, memorable, family oriented Christmassy break. That goes to all your blog adherents as well. Thanks for making all our days a bit brighter.

  20. Cathy says:

    As I write this I have 27 (working ) days till full retirement 😳. It’s gonna be weird, everyone tells me I’ll go thru paycheck if not job withdrawal. No doubt. Being gainfully employed for 50 years is a good thing, but I’m tired and ready to play, read, travel.
    And learn a few good things which is why I read your blog in the first place. You’re always learning. THanks for being a good teacher though I’m not always the best student.
    By the way, the last photo of the chickens altogether would make a great Christmas card. I’m using it for my screen saver till the cease and desist order comes in.

  21. Rikki Colacurcio says:

    I have been following you for the better part of 2 years though this is my first comment. You are the first and only blog i feel a commitment toward. I cried with you when your chicken Cuddles passed and have laughed myself silly too many times to count. I tried to make your snow globes with the little house inside…i think only one of them was slightly passable. I love your courage and stay for the laughs. I still am not sure how i feel about your painted brick wall or the layered rug effect. My husband, a custom furniture builder, got a huge laugh about your lathe work that involved staying put with the little shaver/chisel til your underwear was filled with sawdust. He said you were very accurate about that….lathes terrify me! I am also a huge potato fan so there’s that. You may not fully appreciate how much of yourself you already share…..but sometimes it is a little airy feeling. I sent your letter of condolences after the Las Vegas tragedy to both my grown kids. And like a friend far away, i find myself occasionally thinking about telling you something that might light you up, since i have an inkling about what does. I love and look forward to your becoming even more candid with the nooks and crannies of your seemingly glossy simple life. Also i know there is a serious writer buried in you and would love seeing her emerge. Thank you for keeping it quite real already. You remind me of a little whirling, stylish dust devil. I love your heart toward your family. The very best of a cozy break where at least one of the cats nuzzles you til you can’t stand another minute of it.

    • Karen says:

      You should comment more often Rikki. You’re good at it. ;) Thanks for all the compliments and even though you don’t like my painted brick wall, I’m sure you would if you saw it in real life. Or maybe not. Doesn’t matter, lol. We can still be friends. ~ karen!

    • Lesley Brisco says:

      Beautiful comment!

  22. Janet Goddard says:

    Thanks for the inspiration and giggles throughout 2017. Enjoy your rest. Happy holidays.

  23. Jenny W says:

    I Love a good ShitShow! Bring on the real life snippets :)
    Have a Very Merry Christmas Karen. You are, indeed, the Bestest Blogger in all of the Land!

  24. MaggieB says:

    Thank you for sharing another amazing year with us, and how did it go by so fast? Now that I’ve got over my panic attack and hyperventilating about January postings, I realised that of course there is an archival smörgåsbord to dip into!!

    Have a most excellent Merry Christmas with family, friends, fluffy and furry included, and the fabulous Mr Idris! Looking forward to 2018.

    PS I would so offer to be an assistant but popping by from Germany is not so practical, and I would totally be hugging chickens and snuggling cats, taste-testing canned goodies, and picking fresh fruit and veg from the garden and eating them, rather than picking off bugs and caterpillars, well that’s how I’d imagine being your assistant would be … Insert a Dastardly and Mutley snigger right here!!!

    PPS Love your Relaxing Christmas List. That’s a whole years worth of blogging posts and Instagrams in the making just there.

    PPPS and Merry Christmas and to spending 2018 with the wonderful TAODS community. Thanks Karen for bringing us together.

  25. Loli says:

    Merry Christmas Karen. Love to you and those you love. Looking forward to the new year. May it be full of fun and laughter. I look forward to your posts. Who makes your day?

  26. Flash says:

    Merry Christmas from Israel. Thanks for the great blog. I have actually stuck with you for be 2 Christmas es. And my better half and I decided to get a couple of chickens in the spring :).

  27. Kateryna says:

    Merry Christmas to you too Karen. You’v brought such joy and laughter to us in 2017 and I’m looking forward to so much more in 2018.

    Wishing you and your family the very best in the New Year!

  28. Tina L says:

    On with the shitshow!! Love you, Karen. Merry Christmas.

  29. Jules says:

    “enough swearing throughout to make the longshoreman version of Gordon Ramsay blush.” Love it, pretty much describes my vocabulary since my son hit puberty. Have a totally chilled Christmas. Don’t bother texting Idris, I already did, loads, I think his phone is switched off, he hasn’t replied.

  30. Laura Bullock says:

    Merry Christmas to you, my favorite Canadian. Have a lovely rest of 2017. May 2018 (or Santa) bring us all some joy and relief from the insanity that’s was 2017.

  31. Crystal says:

    You kept saying “shit show” and showing photos of chickens on your lovely porch swing. I thought for sure this post was going to end with pictures of an actual shit show all over your lovely porch swing. ;) Merry Christmas!

    • Karen says:

      I know. I can’t BELIEVE I didn’t think of it. Now of course it all makes sense, lol. SEE? That’s why I need time off, lol. I’ve lost allll of my creativity. ~ karen!

  32. J says:

    Merry Christmas!
    Have a wonderful time off and I will be looking forward to seeing you in the New Year!

    [Your chickens look quite gorgeous on your porch swing]

  33. Paula says:

    Finished Stranger Things and The Crown; both good, one better than the other imo. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us, for looking up the best gifts, the best books, the best recipes – all tried, tested and true by you. Enjoy your holidays and I look forward to next year.

  34. Ritz Martin says:

    Merry Chrysalis, Karen
    Thanks for all the great posts this year. Thanks for all of your energy and enthusiasm. Thanks for all the smiles, chuckles, and laughter.

  35. Catherine says:

    The chickens are looking puffy, like they have winter feathers or something. How wonderful!
    So glad to know that gardening involves bad language, I will use it forcefully in 2018 and think of you.
    Merry Christmas. Thanks for the inspiration.

  36. Lori says:

    Oh, goody! Can’t wait for the shitshow posts!!
    Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and enjoy your well-deserved break!

  37. Meg says:

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!! May you get as much and as little done as you want to, see your posts next year!

  38. Gayle M says:

    Your recharge sounds heavenly. (Envy.) Looking forward to reading more again in January and February. When it’s cold out and a nice hot cocoa and your humor really hit the spot. Merry Christmas to you and a Happy New Year, too!

  39. Grammy says:

    Thank you for another good year of Stuff.

    Thanks for the great pictures of your lovely girls on the porch. There’s just something about a happy chicken that makes me smile. I know they’re happy, because they have you taking care of ’em.

    Relax a little. Recharge. Have a little fun. Please let us know if you have success with the cats/stilts/paint roller thing — I’ve got a LOT of painting to do in my house and I’m so not looking forward to the ceilings. I don’t have a cat, but maybe I could teach my dog the same trick. He’s more loyal than any cat is, so even though he’s kind of an idiot, he’d give it a try.

    Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

  40. Cynthia Jones says:

    Did you, did you, watch “The Mountain Between Us” yet?

    What the hell is wrong wit’you girl? It’s good. Watch it. Idris ‘n ol’ Katie Winslet did a good job. Though I want to talk about the dog, after you watch it.

    Wishing you everything you could hope for and more for your festive season and a Bright New Year to come. Thank you for sharing who you are and allowing us to feel we have a girlfriend in you.

  41. Janine says:

    Merry Christmas to the one blogger who can consistently keep me in stitches! Thanks for the joy you bring to the world. HA! Such Pun!!😁. Enjoy your down time…we want to see pics of those cats painting when you return. Enjoy!!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Janine! Remember … not returning regularly until Feb. unless I can find an assistant to help me with some work between now and then. :) ~ karen!

  42. Caron says:

    Relax, recharge and many blessings for the silly season wonderful lady! Hugs from Oz!

  43. martiJ says:

    Merry Christmas Karen! Glad to see you get a break… which is, I assume, why it looks like I am first to comment. That can’t be right… you just aren’t around to click the comments through.

    Happy Holidays and let’s try to find more this coming year! More fun! More real.
    More time for ourselves. Maybe I’ll send you my holiday card on email, as well. You probably don’t recall, but my cards are a bit unusual. Like you.

    • Karen says:

      You sent me a comment a while ago asking a question and I forgot to get back to you. And now I forget the question, lol! Sorry! ~ karen!

    • Lynne burns says:

      More fun. More real. More time for myself. Perfect. I’m going with that and running straight into 2018 with it. Thank you.

  44. Elaine says:

    Thank you, Karen, for the laughs and really interesting “stuff”! Your blog is so different (unlike any other!) and fun. Even though I’m now pretty long in the tooth (where did my 50’s and 60’s go to!) and can’t make some of your projects due to now living in a condo, I enjoy every single post! Merry Christmas to you and your family! 🎄🎄

  45. Bridget Harrell-Donze says:

    Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  46. Helen says:

    How did you get the chickens to pose for the photos so well? They all look a little shocked!

  47. MrsChrisSA says:

    Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year!! Thank you for all the great posts and entertainment this past year.

    Oh, and if you do manage to get the cats on stilts – pictures, or else it did not happen!!

    Be blessed Karen!

  48. Lisa says:

    Thank you for your wonderful posts and sharing your life, family and chookies with us. Have a fabulous Christmas and do more of No. 19. Enjoy!

  49. Kathy says:

    Good for you….. I get tired too, especially at this time of year. We deserve to check out for awhile!

  50. Kate says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!! 🎄⛄️

    I hope you get your stuff done! Especially the cats with paint rollers. Tired of our freeloading cats-need to teach them a trade! 😜

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