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. jaine kunst says:

    Enjoy your time off, Karen and Merry Christmas!

  2. SusanR says:

    The solution to bangs that are too short is pretty much ANY color of hair wax, but hot pink and purple work really well. Use that to spike the bangs. Unless you’re 16 and under, people will be so astonished that someone your age not only spiked their bangs but did it in HOT PINK, that they won’t even notice how short they are.

    Bonus: Once they bangs have grown out, you can use the wax on your cats, but very sparingly unless you want to watch them hork up a wax hairball.

    You’re welcome! And Happy Holidays!

  3. NinaMargo says:

    Thank you Karen. You helped me make it through this year, truly. I look forward to your mixing it up in January. Loved the photos, especially the final group shot of all the ladies posing together!

    Merry Christmas, and wishing you a joyfilled 2018!

  4. Terry says:

    For some reason I only got pictures of the first two chickens. The next three all I get are larde, outlined squares with question marks in them. Are those three in the witness protection plan?

    Merry Christmas to you and your family

  5. Jo Anne Lennard says:

    Hi Karen, I wish you and your family the Merriest of Christmases. I have followed your blog for many years and thoroughly enjoy your humour and posts. I look forward to checking my inbox on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to see what you are up to and doing. I always learn something new even if I can’t build a chicken coop in my Toronto apartment!! What’s wrong with the zoning by-laws anyway! Your blog appeals to anyone who wants to learn, be resourceful, empowered and have fun in the process. Enjoy your time off until the New Year and don’t forget the popcorn while you are catching up on your TV and Netflix programs!!

  6. Therese says:

    All the best wishes for your holiday and for the upcoming year.
    I recommend a book – Temple Grandin’s Animals in Translation. It was a bit tough for me and I couldn’t read it all in one go; read it in several goes, actually. Wonderful and I think you would enjoy it given your horse and general animal loves.

    Kick on. T

  7. Marilyn says:

    Text idris…love that…thanks fir all the good “stuff”Karen..have yourself a merry little Christmas. Xo

  8. SuZieQ says:

    I so enjoy your blog. You keep me laughing when I need it. Ditto what most already said, but let us know what you think of the book…..if you get around to reading it…maybe while roasting hot dogs from the couch! Looking forward to your return and Merry Christmas to you and the girls from North Carolina!

  9. Gael says:

    YAY! to everything, and mostly, YAY! to you. Enjoy your break and we’ll see you when we see you. <3

  10. Kristina says:

    I get the same comments about farming, like people imagine themselves glowy and backlit with their children running carefree through the fields while they toil gratefully and effortlessly. Instead, it’s all eau de diesel perfume and no rain, plus your kids whine when you make them do farmwork, even more than when you ask them to do the dishes or mow the lawn. It’s got its good points, but not what people think.

    I love your blog, Karen. Merry Christmas to you, and I hope that nap thing works out for you.

  11. susang says:

    Have a wonderful Holiday season. do the girls have names (she asked foolishly)? I want to live next door to you. that way I can see all the neat stuff without breaking a sweat. again, enj
    oy your time off. looking forward to your posts and 2018.

  12. Judy Santiago says:

    Karen, I saw this and thought of you. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
    In case the picture doesn’t come through it says:
    Chickens: The pet that poops breakfast and it has a picture of a chicken with an egg under it.

  13. Leslie says:

    Love your list of what your going to be doing!

    Merry Christmas Karen!

  14. Lynda Loy says:

    Merry Christmas Karen from Kentucky! I only discovered your blog this year but am hooked! Have a wonderful break and come back greatly refreshed.

  15. Tree says:

    I shall miss you while you’re away. I discovered you when we got hens of our own and I realised I had no clue what I was doing!
    Enjoy your break

  16. Patricia says:

    Happy Christmas Karen. I love love love the photos of your hens. I grew up in the city and married a farmer and have hens, which means I love your hens too. I live the life you live, sort of, (as close as I can) with four married children, grandchildren, and living in the hub of the farm. And so, the photos bring tears to my eyes because I am in the midst of the checklist and this is my little quiet time break. I need to go hold a hen.
    Have a dear time with your family.

  17. Heather says:

    I think a lot of us live vicariously through The Art of Doing Stuff, Karen, including keeping those beautiful chickens. Happy Christmas! Happy 2018!

  18. Kate Budacki says:


    Thanks for all of the above as well as the Spotify playlist. I listened to it twice today while trying not to freak out because it is the Friday before Christmas. Quite a nice mellow collection of music and I think I will use it as background for my Christmas Eve thing. Whatever you want to call it. Small family meal that grew into something that makes me want to freak out. Anyway the music will be nice.
    Happy Christmas to you and yours.

  19. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Um…that may be the strangest Christmas greeting I have ever received…lol…if you get your cats to paint you’re gonna have to teach us you know….Now get out of here and go sit on the couch and read…jammies required!…MERRY CHRISTMAS to your family, your chickens, your stilt walking painting cats and above all to you my sweet friend…hugs!

  20. Charlene Brown says:

    Karen, I just want to join the chorus of well wishers. As someone who has a few chickens and a large garden I know the work/pain/joy/pleasure you describe. I have a husband to share that with so it’s not one person here. And don’t get me started on all the other things you do (build furniture, customize magnetic eye lashes, etc.) You are Wonder Woman With Blonde Hair! Hmmm, maybe you should change the name of your blog….. Enjoy your well deserved break and I look forward to your return in February.
    Blessings my friend,

  21. Emily says:

    Have a wonderful week off! Thank you for your resolution to keep it real in 2018, and for adjusting your schedule in January to take care of business. I’m going into my second year doing that “simple life” thing, and any example is welcomed that combats the desire for Insta-perfection and doing-all-the-things!

  22. Elen says:

    Happy Christmas, Karen! Thanks for all the laughs and good times and DIY and recipes and…. chicken shit, I mean pics. Cheers! :-D

  23. Jackie says:

    Merry Christmas & Happy New Year. I love the pictures of you chickens & am always glad to see them. Thanks for the heads up for January – I will miss the regular posts but understand you have things that just need to be done & am grateful for what you do all the time. I hope you enjoy your Holidays with your family & your chickens.

  24. Peg says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
    Love all the photos of the birds on the porch swing!!!

  25. Joanne says:

    Merry Christmas to you and yours as well! I enjoy your posts so much in whatever form they appear and I’m sure that will continue.

    Have a great break and I wish you luck on your list… it’s actually pretty ambitious for a holiday but as long as you keep the fire going, you can do anything! (I wish I had a fireplace…)

    Thanks for another great year of laughs and great ideas – I look forward to sharing your life in 2018.


  26. Teddee Grace says:

    You also must have spent some time training the chickens. How did you get them up there one at a time and then all together? Merry Christmas and I hope you have a great and creative 2018!

  27. Karen Mitchell says:

    Merry Christmas Karen. You take as much time off as you need, we can wait!

    • Karen says:

      Ohhhh it isn’t time off Karen. I’d love a month off, lol, but January isn’t that. I have technical work that needs to be done. I’ll be working. Just not on creating content. (which will be a bit of a rest for my brain actually) :) ~ karen!

  28. Edith says:

    Hi Karen

    So when you re-emerge from your couch fort and want to do something about your curtains….try dyeing them! Not tie-dyeing, just solid dyeing. I don’t think it’ll be a shit show post because you know how to do stuff!

    Have a Very Merry Christmas!

  29. Cindy says:

    I’m a lurker, I lurk your site, I rarely comment. That would go against my lurking nature. I follow you on insta, I comment there sometimes. I read EVERYTHING! And I don’t have an avatar which I know you don’t support. I will look into that next year.
    Anywhooooo, I just want to say, I really appreciate your blog and EVERYTHING you share. I am soooo looking forward to 2018, with your blog.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours, happy apple eating and here’s to you in 2018!
    Cindy (yes that’s my real name)

  30. Eileen says:

    Ditto to everyone else’s comments…and especially looking forward to the shit show. So I don’t have to feel quite so simply inadequate.
    : )

  31. linda in illinois says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family. Your chicks are so beautiful. I see a Christmas card photo right there.
    Enjoy your time off, can’t wait till February when you return to regular posts, I get anxious knowing I can’t read them three days a week until then.

  32. Mary W says:

    From today until February – The Art of Getting Stuff Done or Not getting Anything Done! Have a happy Holiday, relax the way only you know how to, and soak in all the love those chickens and cat can give in return for the responsibility and work they require. Your a gem – can’t wait to learn more about your human life even if I really enjoy your blog life a lot.

  33. Paula F. says:

    Thank you, Karen, for being you! Your blog is one of the few I consistently read (and enjoy!) and I think it’s safe to say that your readers are all here ’cause you’re like a hilarious, crazy, talented friend that makes life fun and… better.

    All the best to you and your cats, chickens, and family this Christmas season!

  34. Cyja says:

    Ditto what Rikki C said. I also have read your posts from the get go a few years ago ( actually probably only every 7th one, because I also live on the farm, doing the simple life thing- which includes screaming out the front door in undies only from a dead sleep when I hear a fox chatter and my chickens squalking). You are basically me, but in Canada- or at least I like to think so.. I can get shit done on my own common sense and hard labor, no help necessary, and I love that about us. Today, I mean it, I am going to eat that appIe with my elbows on the counter, and my kids are going to be like, what are you doing mom? And I’m going to be like … I’m eating an apple.
    I think you are the cats meow, and I hope you never stop writing because you are awesome at it. Happy Holidays to you are the chickens.

  35. Sarah says:

    Thank you for the Spotify playlist… sitting here on my last day of work before the holidays and playing your list for all my cubicle neighbours. We all thank you! :)

  36. Katie C. says:

    Merry Christmas!!

    I don’t even post on Instagram, but sometimes I push all the bills, assorted tools, random toys, and… WTF?! Why is someone’s underwear on the counter?!… aside and eat an apple (let’s be honest… it’s probably actually a cookie) whilst gazing out over the dining room table, which is probably covered with more toys, homework, books, and a dish or two that someone didn’t put in the sink, to the cemetery across the street.

    It’s very scenic.

  37. A simple life is not so simple, I have been working on it for awhile. I love what you do, the way you write and your ideas. Merry Christmas and have a wonderful staycation.

  38. Debbie says:

    Thank you for a year of humor and inspiration. I look forward to your posts and wait to read them when I have no interruptions. I can’t wait to read your new posts in 2018. I live in a somewhat rural area and when I pass the little farms I get a picture in my mind of an idyllic lifestyle so your reality posts will be welcoming!! I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

  39. Angie S says:

    What a great ambitious list!!! My question is how the hell you were able to get all four of your girls to stay in one place long enough for the group shot!?! THAT is a true Christmas miracle! Enjoy your break!

  40. Angie says:

    I recently signed up for this blog and I love it! Karen, you are hilarious. Love your fresh take and honesty. Keep up the great work and Merry Christmas!

  41. Sabina says:

    Merry Christmas Karen, thanks for keeping it real ❤️

  42. Vanessa says:

    Merry Christmas!
    Thank you for all the laughs this year. I just found your blog a few months ago and looking through your older posts is on my holiday list of fun to dos.

  43. Kris Wilson says:

    Merry Christmas Karen! I hope this winter storm we are having is helping to start your holiday off right, warm and cozy in your lovely home.
    Thank you for another year of inspiring, witty, and loveable posts. I’ve been following you since you started, and I rarely comment, but find that I mention you often in conversations with friends and family. So often, I guess, that I don’t have to explain who you are anymore. Every thing that Ricki said, in her comment, is how I feel too.
    She said it well! Enjoy your break, although it sounds rather busy, at least it’s things you want to do and on your own schedule.
    Wishing you and yours a warm and cozy holiday season. Looking forward to next years posts, chalk full of info, inspiration and humour. XO

  44. Debbie from Illinois says:

    Hey lady! Thank you for sharing your plethora of knowledge. Enjoy your holidays.

  45. Thera says:

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, not only to you Karen (love the stuff you do) but to all the commentators(?) as well, it’s as much of a treat reading all the responses!

  46. Monique says:

    Merry Christmas Karen!Have fun:) I want to read that book now..

  47. Elissa Rioux says:

    Merry Christmas Karen !
    Thank you for all the laughter and information you’ve shared we us all year. I always look forward to a great read from you. You’re an inspiration and I love living things I dream about thru your stories. Relax and enjoy your down time, whatever that is for you…and know we’ll be here waiting to hear about your next great adventure! XOXO

  48. Leisa says:

    Merry Christmas Karen, all the best in 2018! 🎄🎄🎄

  49. Alena says:

    Merry Christmas, Karen, and may the force always be with you in 2018! (I know it will be).

    I will await a new version of your curtains because I had hoped “something would happen”
    after the last big curtains post earlier in the year.
    Enjoy your Christmas break and enjoy those apples.

  50. Diane R. says:

    You are ‘simply the best’. So glad to have found your blog a couple of years ago.
    Always look forward to your posts, no matter what they are in reference to. Love
    your chicks all lined up on the porch swing and of course, Cuddles came to mind
    Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and all good things in the New Year!

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